Savoring the Summer

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is savoring the summer.Can’t sit still. Can’t stay inside. It’s beautiful outside and the summer is almost over. So I’m going to grab my fill of campfires, pond swims, watermelon, gardening, and sitting outside to listen to frogs. My Super Sweet 100 tomato plant is still producing. Over a hundred cherry tomatoes to add to this summer of small pleasures.

I’m wishing you much sweetness in these last days of summer.

 

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Too Much Change

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, is resisting change after years of too many changes and finally finding her own crazy path through life.How willing are you to change your habits and/or lifestyle? This was the question haunting me the last three months. It took that long to get an appointment with the particular medical person who many friends and acquaintances were raving about, about how she had improved their health and changed their lives.

The question was towards the end of the thirteen-page patient survey the office mailed to me, in the section querying about leisure behavior patterns, diet, alcohol and other substance consumption. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d scored my willingness to change as fairly high. Then, as soon as I sealed the envelope to mail it back, I knew I hadn’t answered truthfully. And now, on the eve of my scheduled appointment, in the middle of a brilliant summer of partying, wine tastings, campfires, garden celebrations, picnics, barbecues and dinners on the deck, I am pretty sure I would not want to change even a tiny blessed thing about my life (other than getting back my daughter who died).

When Marika died 8 ½ years ago, I didn’t want to be alive at all. For many miserable months, I had to work hard to find or create reasons to drag myself out of bed each day. Friends, food and wine were the only lights in my life. Filling my time with these as much as possible, over the years I found ways to keep myself together, keep looking forward. So much changed. Too much change. Now, finally I feel like I re-found myself, redefined my self and my new path in life. The road I follow may seem strange to some. But I am making my own peculiar way and life is beautiful once again. As for my habits and health—I am keeping my appointment, but I don’t know how much more I can bear in the way of changing.

 

How willing are you to make changes?

 

 

 

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Appreciating the Beauty of Life

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, takes a week off to stop and smell the flowers.Taking a week off to stop and smell the flowers after a physically demanding week of work.

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Why Can’t I Keep my Mouth Shut?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a bad-ass flower, a zinnia, as she wonders, Why can't I keep my mouth shut?We’re all better off if I say nothing this week. Because these days, too many of my truest feelings and worst thoughts keep slipping out of my mouth. No, they tumble out of my mouth and flatten everyone within earshot. My most bold opinions come spewing out of me like semi-automatic gunfire. And people don’t usually react well to this.

I don’t know if this crankiness and loss of control is because of all the rain, the heat, my advanced age, the current political turmoil, or possibly just boredom from my new diet of chard and fish—but lately I seem to have zero ability to hold my tongue. At unexpected times I feel compelled to speak what’s in my mind. And I’m a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, a walking time bomb that could explode if you say the wrong thing.

Why can’t I keep my mouth shut? In the past, I was always the wishy-washy one, the one who wouldn’t take a stand, couldn’t make a decision. Teachers and friends used to beg me to speak up and be more assertive. And now, I have no patience for others’ cruelty, stupidity, or anything that does not comply with what I perceive as the truth. At the first inkling of discomfort, I’m likely to spout out,

Hey, life’s too short, and Hey, I don’t have to swallow any nonsense anymore. I’m one tough bitch with a dead daughter. So don’t mess with my head.

Photographing flowers calms me down, helps me to see sense. But there was nothing quiet about this brazen-faced zinnia. In a week-old bouquet, it still blazed brilliant among the shriveled-up blooms surrounding it. Another bad-ass flower. Sassy. Like the daughter I’m missing. Yow, back in her times I would be crushed to the pulp whenever she unloaded what she had to say.

 

What gets your goat? Or gets you to verbally attack the ones you love most?

 

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Taking Lives

Robin Botie of Ithac, New York, photoshops a zinnia to make a heavenly bed for the millipedes she deprived of life. Life is precious.Over the last four days I mercilessly snuffed out hundreds of little lives. Millipede lives.
Fleeing harsh conditions in their natural environment, thousands of millipedes were crawling up and down the exterior of my house seeking refuge from the horrendous heat and drenching rains. They wormed their way inside to wander the more hospitable vast plains of my carpeted and tiled floors.

But I did not want millipedes in my house. Even though I knew they were just trying to survive. I have it good here: a fridge full-to-bursting, air-conditioning, Netflix, cozy furnishings…. Comfortably holed up in the house during the heat wave, I wasn’t eager to share, especially with creatures that had more legs than my dog or I. The arthropods managing to penetrate the sacred walls of my home found me standing guard with my Dust-Buster. The first day I sucked up over a hundred. As my almost-hourly dust-busting raids continued, I lost track of the count.

Days later, dreading emptying out the Dust-Buster, I knew I’d find maybe a thousand millipedes crammed into its dark bowels. Dead or still squirming. Small sparks of life languishing or extinguished by my own will. I put the recharging Dust-Buster out in the mudroom where I wouldn’t have to think about that.

But I did think. As one who watched my beloved daughter’s life slip away, as one who knows how fragile and fleeting life is, I hate the thought of taking lives, taking the life out of any living organism. And I had to wonder: who am I to condemn a whole population of these creatures? Do millipedes have hearts? Can they hear the roar of the approaching vacuum? What drives such a creature to survive? And what is it that gets me feeling so invaded and hell-bent on squashing all that out?

I went to photograph zinnias, and peeked into their wavy wormy-looking centers that I could photo-shop into heavenly beds for the poor creatures I deprived of life.

 

When is it okay to torture or take a life?

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Loving and Losing a Car

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops her banged up Prius as she wonders why she is carrying on about loving and losing a car.Falling in love or forming any strong emotional attachments was not going to happen after my daughter died. No more grieving for me, I thought. But last week, losing my car, I cried like I was losing my best friend. A friend who had faithfully protected me with its life, to the bitter end.

On the way to Boston for the weekend, passing a slow-moving vehicle on a busy highway, I pulled left into the middle lane and discovered a huge truck tire lying in my path. There was no way to avoid it. My beautiful Prius crashed into it with a great thud. This is the end, I told myself upon impact. But the car somehow plowed through the tire. I kept driving. There was no way to pull over or stop so I continued on, shaken but unharmed. The Prius, who I’d long ago named Peeje after a beloved pigeon, got me to my destination and days later, back home to Ithaca, New York. And after the weekend, checking out the damage, I learned I’d smashed the car’s sub-frame, under-panels, radiator, and every single part of her belly.
“Call your insurance company, this is going to cost you…” the mechanic told me.

With visions of skyrocketing premiums, big bucks for major repairs, and weeks of car rentals, I took my Peeje to the Toyota Dealership where they offered me a small trade-in towards a new Prius, and I accepted it. Immediately. Gratefully.

Then suddenly, I had tears in my eyes and was stroking Peeje’s hood with both hands. There I was, once more grieving the loss of a familiar, comfortable, beloved part of my life. We had a lot of history, Peeje and I. When she was still new we got lost together exploring October Mountain in the Berkshires. Many a snowstorm we’d slowly inched up the long hill to my house, both of us willing her little engine to keep chugging. This was the car that carried elderly loved ones (now gone) with wheelchairs and walkers to fancy restaurants. She carried me through dark empty streets to retrieve friends who’d drunk too much. “Thanks, Peeje,” I’d say every time she got me home safely.

“You’re gonna have a whole new re-built life,” I sobbed to my Peeje, driving her home one last time, to empty out the six-year accumulation of stuff in every corner of her. I wondered, after all I’ve been though, why I was carrying on so about loving and losing a car. But I gently dusted off her seats and lovingly packed her snow tires into her trunk. And let her go.

 

How on earth does one end up loving a car or a house or something that doesn’t even have eyes or a heart?

 

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