Monthly Archives: June 2016

Romance is for the birds, no strike that, lightning bugs

I’m not someone who walks around calling herself a “hopeless romantic” but that doesn’t mean I don’t see the appeal of romance. It’s just that it doesn’t necessarily look in my mind’s eye like Hollywood’s version. To wit, I’ve found romance in an unlikely place.

I adore lightning bugs – you may know them as fireflies or some other name. They are just the coolest thing, flashing their tiny beacons in the early summer evenings. Part of the appeal is their rarity; their season is short.

In older blog posts, I’ve written of using my seasonal screen tent (imperative against mosquitoes) in summer. Unfortunately, there are frequent smokers in my midst in the last year so I no longer can use it as I once did. However, I grab my moments when I can.

Flying insects – but not mosquitoes – still seem to end up inside the tent, I’m really not sure how, especially the larger ones. For the most part, I figure they’re on their own. However, lightning bugs occasionally show up inside the tent as well. Those I cannot leave be.

Way back in 1990 I read and saved an article on lightning bugs based on information from Howard Seliger, a Johns Hopkins professor. who studied the glowing flyers. According to him, the adult lightning bug lives a mere week or two. The lightning flashes are intended to signal a potential mate which is the male insect’s sole goal.

The trouble is there are many species of lightning bugs and each has its own particular signal. A lady lightning bug is looking for her match, not some random schmuck. She flashes her own light as the go-ahead to the fellow of her choosing. Successful coupling is rare.

The lightning bug courtship appeals to the romantic in me. When I find a lightning bug inside the screen tent, aimlessly walking around or clinging to the screen, I leap into action. “Hey! You’re burning daylight, my little friend. Get out there and get yourself some lightning bug sex! How long have you been in here anyway?! Let’s get cracking!” I may not make the whole speech but I usually admonish and encourage the bug in some way as I catch it and put it back outside. Seeing one take off in search of its partner gives my heart a little happy jump. If, unbeknownst to me, a bird promptly eats the lightning bug or it keels over loveless because its demise was imminent, I don’t want to know about it.


Hydrangeas took a pounding in late Spring due to rapidly changing weather. First they kind of froze and then they kind of got burnt. I wasn’t optimistic after that (they looked like hell). Having them bloom at all wasn’t a given but several recovered nicely. The colors delight me. Hard to choose a favorite.







Dining like a squirrel in prison

I think sometimes when I’m around other people I eat like a squirrel or an inmate. If I’m at a gathering, a party or a wedding or a cook-out for instance, and there’s a buffet where guests can “fix themselves a plate” (isn’t that the best expression?), I have a inclination to take mine off to a corner alone, if at all possible. Especially when the food is really good. I see squirrels do this all the time; they grab food and run away a bit, behaving as if someone – perhaps even the kindly person who might have given them the food – is going to take it back. I don’t know that I think somebody is going to take back my plate if I don’t keep a close eye, so much that, in part, I want to be one with my meal. I really don’t like it if I have to balance food on my lap or worse, stand somewhere – that takes away from my enjoyment.

It’s not that I can’t dine with a group of others around a table – eating & talking with an interesting companion is one of my favorite things in life – it’s that I know oftentimes I’ll be distracted and not give the food its due. I’ll look down and my plate will be empty and I won’t know where the food went or have appreciated it the same way (as if I partook like the squirrel in the corner). Pretty much the opposite of mindful eating.

I also occasionally catch myself “guarding” my plate when dining, arms flanking either side protectively. What is that?? Am I going to stick my fork into the hand of someone who looks like they might try to take a morsel off my plate?! Maybe it goes back to inherited DNA from primitive ancestors, who really would stick somebody who tried to mess with their meal. Or maybe it’s just from growing up in a large family where it was necessary to make sure you got your fair share of the vittles. Still, I want to be a nice member of society, so when I notice I’m doing it, I try to make an effort to bring my arms away from my plate and act like a civilized person who wouldn’t knock silly any hapless person getting too close to her food.

(Good) surprises

When I was little, a “surprise” always meant something good. A knock on the door, a phone call, a letter in the mail, a special announcement; these all boded well. Or so I thought. When someone said “I have a surprise for you” the assumption was it was going to be fun/exciting/pleasing. Basically I’d like it. I heard that word and I got excited. A surprise! Oh boy! What could it be?!

Somewhere along the way my thoughts on “surprises” changed. I’m more inclined to think a surprise will not be a happy one. Funny how a word can do an about-face like that. Too many of the surprises in my adult life have felt like blows and if not blows, shoves. Surprise!

I don’t like that my feelings have changed so dramatically on this subject since childhood. I have to remember I can still be surprised in a positive way. I have to be open to that. Because I suspect once you guard yourself against bad surprises, the unintended effect will be to block ALL surprises and not even see the good ones for what they are when and if they do show up.

About a month or so ago, I had two nice surprises in one week. Two separate people, neither of whom I know well or would even expect to greet (or vice versa) on the street, did me a good turn. They each did it through the internet, that is, the good news came to me online. One contacted me directly and the other was indirectly relayed to me. Each was thoughtful and kind and revealed more about the two unrelated individuals than I had previously surmised. I didn’t think either person really knew who I was exactly, let alone thought well of me or wanted to do something nice for me. I indeed got a surprise.

Short Thought 141 (laughs)

The only time she laughs sincerely, when it’s a pleasant sound, is with her grandchildren. Other times it’s a harsh utterance, a forced bark that has no joy in it, no humor. Maybe it fools people or passes for real laughter though I wonder if others notice or intuit that it’s off.

It makes me wonder about my own laughing and confirms what I already resolved, to only laugh when I really mean it, not because it’s expected or other people are laughing, or to create an impression or because someone will get pissed off if I don’t.