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Beth Caldwell - The View From Here

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A little of this, a little of that

“Drive south until the butter melts.”

I heard that saying last week for the first time, and I dare say I was charmed by the enticing “get in your car and go” imagery it evoked.

I could use a warm little holiday like that right about now.

Heaven knows if I were to put the butter dish in the front seat of my car, even with the heat on, it wouldn’t melt anytime soon. In my neck of the woods, the butter dish—just sitting in its little spot in the kitchen cupboard—is as good a weather gauge as the thermometer is that’s in the unheated porch.

Cold reality of my January escapades

So here we are in the deep freeze dungeon of mid-January, when exposed skin can freeze in five minutes.

The cold bears down upon us like a giant lead blanket and it will not be moved.

Cars left too long outside in this abominable deep freeze either don’t start at all or, if plugged in, do begrudgingly turn over and then bump along on frozen square tires reminiscent of a “Looney Tunes” cartoon or a hillbilly movie.

All I am is measured by the year

“Not what you have, but what you use. Not what you see, but what you choose. Not what seems fair, but what is true.

“Not what you dream, but what you do. Not what you take, but what you give. Not as you pray, but as you live.

“These are the things that mar or bless the sum of human happiness.”

I discovered this beautiful composition in the book, “How to Love,” by Gordon Livingston. Sometimes words just jump off the page and into my soul—and these ones certainly did.

Fast draw with towel averts ‘cat’astrophy

“Millie” the cat has been living here for about 13 months and we are joined at the hip.

It’s been a rewardingly mutual friendship thus far, and her life in this neck of the woods has been luxurious to say the least.

This much I know is true. If I vacuum the floor near where Millie is curled up on her couch pillow, she trusts me enough to know that the loud whir of the machine is not a threat and she can stay right where she is.

Any other cat would be clawing at the door to escape, but not Millie. Millie trusts me.

Experience is a powerful ocean

This particular column and I have been dancing partners for many months. We have tangoed and waltzed together, and I dare say met each other on painful ballet tippy toes.

This column is precious to me because it’s the closing number on what has been a very powerful ocean of personal experience in 2012.

I keep a daily diary and I’ve done so for decades. At the end of each year, before I close off my journal to start a new one, I revisit the 12-month period and re-acquaint myself with myself.

I also look back at my year’s worth of column writing for the same reason.

Always heed the magic of life

Just when I think I’ve lost my way, life gives me a little something to work with and the clear message that I need to take a deep breath and step outside of what I think is safe.

Sometimes I just have to believe.

I was sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a Reuben sandwich, with one juicy mouthful in full swing. Long, chewy strands of sauerkraut hung from my lips as the woman approached my table, where I sat with one of my grandchildren.

Cheers to great rears

Sometimes writer’s block is an unexpected and unsavory visitor in my neck of the woods. And yet when it arrives, I am compelled to welcome that dried-up guest honorably.

It is usually clearing me out for some new delight. Last week it happened to be cookies.

Of course, I ate too many of the little devils and gained five pounds overnight. A diet of lettuce and water then ensued because of a looming date with a swanky little Christmas party dress.

Food for thought is the recipe I share

I ruminated for six days on the contents of this column and came up empty-handed.

I went to bed on it, woke up on it, and still nothing.

I installed the ritual chocolate and black tea (the best combination since Saturday and Sunday) that are my known catalysts for inspiration, then proceeded to eat more than my allotted share of the “Dairy Milk” fruit and nut version with hopes the extra sugar rush would flood the keyboard with ideas.

Still nothing—save a strong urge to make myself throw up.

Little Miss Pioneer goes to hunt camp

I’ve always considered myself a “northerner.” I’m a hardy soul at home in the elemental outdoors.

I grew up loving the open air of the wilderness—and I still do.

I also think I would have made a great pioneer woman in the U.S. Midwest, tending to a small little cabin in the quiet wilderness and living a simple life with my hunter, gatherer, farmer man.

If given the choice today between a primitive cabin in the middle of nowhere or a swanky hotel across from the best shopping plaza, the cabin would win hands down.

The cat never forgets who rules the roost

Cat barf. It’s the one globule in this world that I wish I didn’t have to clean up.

In fact, I would trade cat barf detail for sifting the solids out of the litter box any day.

In my the neck of the woods, cat barf rates right up there on my nemesis scale with the eight-legged arachnid—mostly because I usually find cat barf with my slipper or spilled over the edge of a cat bed and onto the nice new throw pillow I just purchased.