The last few weeks have been eventful. My attempt at staying calm as well as in the moment, yet preparing for the future was a lot like the weather, unpredictable and erratic.

1. I received an email regarding something I wrote several years ago for a person I considered a friend, requesting that I sign a legal document basically signing over my right to use what I wrote, unless I credited her book, which is a compilation of breast cancer survivor stories, interspersed with full page color photos of her artwork, as well as short, informative articles written by health care professionals. The email included an edited version of my original which I felt left out important details plus a grammatical error and a typo. The claim was the entire book was already copyrighted, by, surprise...a publishing company owned by my "friend" and her husband who just happens to be a patent attorney. The email went on to state unless I replied within 72 hours, my consent was assumed. I did not see this coming at all. After my initial outrage, I replied very succinctly that perhaps they should have made all of this clear from the beginning, instead of at the 11th hour of publishing, as I had already posted it here, where the author's writing is copyright protected unless otherwise stated. Their response was that they had "expected exclusivity" and that I was not to publish it in the future without giving credit to the book. I was also told not to show the sneak peeks to anyone. With friends like this, who needs enemies, right? I chose not to respond further until I had cooled down a bit.

2. After months of discussion, my husband chose to release his gigantic gold fish on Fathers' Day, at a lovely pond on the grounds where my daughter and her husband live and work. There are other gold fish there, at least one frog, waterlilies and a German Lutheran sister who tends the pond and surrounding flowers and herbs. The pond is outside the large chapel where my daughter and her husband married, plus there's a beautiful stained glass Jesus looking down at stained glass lambs. I was all set with a little farewell speech; my daughter started filming when... her husband almost fell in cleaning the clogged fountain and my husband almost fell in, crouching down on the loose slate to measure the water temperature. Before I could explain to my middle grandson why my husband measured the temperature, Goldie slipped unceremoniously out. Afterwards, I commented to my husband, my daughter and the youngest grandson, "Well, let's see how our atheist gold fish makes friends in this holy water."

3. Still slowly trying to get fence repaired from Hurricane Sandy, as well as chimney and roof. Apparently, one problem is that so many people had to replace fencing, that there is a fencing shortage of the cedar privacy fence with lattice top. Places that do carry it have changed the construction from our late 1990's version and the price exceeds what our homeowners' insurance allowed. We did replace the back yard fence with stockade style fencing that had been put up around my daughter's yard the year her husband was in Iraq. They were no longer using it at their current housing, and we love to re-use or re-purpose. Interesting reactions from neighbors, all wanting to know if I plan to lower the 4x4 posts, which extend about 3 feet above the top of the fence. The neighbors directly behind us told me they were glad all of my forsythia was gone because they all hated forsythia. They have a dog which was my main reason for getting that fence back up, a dog who barks all day while they are gone. I could write a lot more about the fence, the forsythia, and my husband's involvement. After looking at the original deed dated 1901, there was a forsythia hedge back then. The neighbors hired someone to clear their side of my fence, then placed a concrete Buddha with his chubby back toward us.

4. Two unexpected deaths, both people found sitting in chairs, both having gone through hard times only to be just embarking on new life plans to move forward. A reminder that death comes when it comes; the man was only 51. He was unemployed, so no death benefits for his widow and daughter. Hard funeral to attend, especially since I haven't been going to that church for quite some time. I've heard I'm not the only one who has left after a new pastor replaced the retiring one. Now it seems the church will have an interim pastor who is Presbyterian.

5. Two phone conversations with my daughter's remaining grandfather, his mind still pretty clear for a 90 year-old. My daughter was furious that she had to learn her Grandpa was dying via a comment on Facebook, not through her father when she made a phone call on Fathers' Day. I stepped in and called the people down in Georgia her Grandpa was staying with, found out the details of his condition, then tried to make him laugh and succeeded, reminisced about the long ago past. Listened to him talk about being at Iwo Jima, told him if I could I'd fly there with my daughter for a last visit, but he said he felt the love over the phone. So did I.

6. The groundhogs have not figured out how to get into my booby-trapped garden, so we have had lettuce, yellow beans, one tomato, a conjoined yellow squash and tried braised radish greens. Due to weather, the radishes bolted and I looked up online to see if they could still be eaten. It's a lot of work, but they were tasty.

7. I arranged to get the shore house the week of my daughter's 40th birthday, just my guys, me, and her and her guys. Other summers, I have tried to please too many people, taking into account everyone's schedules, which worked but left me stressed. Randomly, we text or chant to each other LBI, LBI....guess the TV commercial is right, "We are stronger than the storm..."

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