Gorgeous ice and snow-covered trees last week.  From a distance, this is what you see. (All photographs by Marylin Warner)

Gorgeous ice and snow-covered trees last week. From a distance, this is what you see. (All photographs by Marylin Warner)


Move in, look closer to see more details, the depth of snow and ice on the branches.

Move in, look closer to see more details, the depth of snow and ice on the branches.



Nearly hidden beneath snow, clinging to bark, the last leaves hang on.

Nearly hidden beneath snow, clinging to bark, the last leaves hang on.

This month is absolutely jam-packed with special monthly observances, days and weeks dedicated to fresh starts, do-overs, do-betters, and reminders. In addition to being the month for making resolutions, January also includes Financial Awareness, Cervical Health Awareness, Cuckoo Dancing Week, No Name Calling Week, Thomas Crapper Day, National Kazoo Day, and Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Those are just a few of a long list of choices.

For personal goal setting, January is both RISING STAR MONTH and WAYFINDING MONTH. There are many interpretations and approaches to charting your path and finding your own way: using a telescope or GPS, taking the advice of others or reading how-to books; following stars, reading maps, joining groups, asking directions, comparing markers and signs. One thing these all have in common, though, is taking a closer look—looking very carefully to be sure you have an accurate picture—before making big plans and charting goals.

Before my dad’s Alzheimer’s and my mom’s dementia, they were good role models for goal-setting and careful planning for their business and their lives. They sat at the table together with papers and lists and facts and figures spread out. They studied possibilities and problems from all angles, looking past the obvious in order to study subtle details and see the big picture.

The photos I’ve posted this week are to remind us to look beyond the obvious and study the big picture before setting our goals. Otherwise, we might as well give up on charting our path and finding our own way to reach our dreams…and opt instead for Cuckoo Dancing, playing the Kazoo, and rolling ourselves in Bubble Wrap.

A cute gift, a handmade Elephant pin.  A poo pin, made of elephant dung from Sri Lanka.

A cute gift, a handmade Elephant pin. A poo pin, made of elephant dung from Sri Lanka.


This isn't just pioneer biceps building.  For the woman who doesn't want an elephant pin, she's gathering fire wood.  Well, not wood ~ bison dung. A use for everything...

This isn’t just pioneer biceps building. For the woman who doesn’t want an elephant pin, she’s gathering fire wood. Well, not wood ~ bison dung. A use for everything…


Details matter; are you looking at the snack to buy...or at the fleeing mouse?

Details matter; are you looking at the snack to buy…or at the fleeing mouse?



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, life questions

61 responses to “LOOK AGAIN

  1. For some reason, all I saw was ‘Thomas Crapper Day’ all else was blurred, I need sleep, clearly or an ‘evacuation’ Sorry, I’m being a tit, again. but as usual informative and interesting. And as usual the two perspectives offered of the photo details show one again your talent for understating the obvious that we mortals usually miss!

    • While I appreciate the comment, Tom, I have to admit that unless I’m making my self look carefully, I miss more than my share of the fine points I should have noticed. The mouse I DID see…it was the slight movement I caught peripherally while I was looking at all the crackers and cookies. 😉

  2. juliabarrett

    I sure like that mouse! I find it interesting– the way some people plan, the way some people float, and the way some people stumble. My parents were stumblers. Things just happened, but of course, in reality, the things that happened were inevitable because of all the stumbling, i.e., poor planning or lack of planning altogether.
    I think there’s a happy medium, kind of like being an option quarterback.

    • There is a happy medium, Julia, you’re right. And there were many things my parents had absolutely no control over. But coming out of the Depression taught them some lessons that they never forgot, so they did the best they could to prepare, but fully understood many things were out of their control.

      • juliabarrett

        My father was so traumatized by the Depression it left him paralyzed with fear. He was a small child. Didn’t cope well.

  3. Another inspirational insights my friend i love goals .

  4. I do, too, Jake. But I do better when it’s just one goal at a time, and also when I’ve at least tried to think it through and plan the steps it will take to reach the goal. The Helen Keller quote on your blog–and your amazing art illustration –still reminds me of reaching for the light and being grateful. You did an excellent job, my friend!

  5. The photograph of the snow on the tree and the last leaves hanging on were beautiful Marylin but my favorite today has to be the one of the mouses bottom disappearing. I can’t help but wonder if you stopped him mid-snack.
    I guess you took on your parents example of goal-setting and organisation. There are no avoiding hiccups in life but if you’re prepared for the rest it helps.I have problems organising myself half an hour ahead and sticking to it, I fly more by the seat of my pants.
    Wishing you a Wonderful Weekend full of joy.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • Thank you, David. Just between us, I’ll admit that while I admired my parents’ planning and took comfort from it, I was like you, flying more by the seat of my pants. When things didn’t work out, I learned to either work harder or do without. As I grew older, and especially when I became a mom, I learned to combine careful planning with seat-of-the-pant flying. We learn as we go! 😉 Hugs galore to you, too!

  6. Your posts always make me smile and remember Marilyn. Thank you.
    My mother had jars for everything – money jars that would be emptied when the bill came in. My parents went through rationing and counted every penny. I don’t think they ever went cuckoo dancing. But I always feel they had a big plan as well as an attention to detail. That was to give the two boys a better life than they had had. I think they achieved that and I’m sure my father would have enjoyed bubble wrap appreciation day.

    • Your responses triggered other memories, Andrew. I grew up in southeast Kansas (a swath of Ozarks) and many Italian immigrant families in the next town were strip miners. They didn’t trust banks, and so they buried jars of money for safekeeping. When grandparents died, part of their wills often included maps of the hidden jars. This fascinated me, and many years later I taught my young grandchildren to bury their own jars and make maps.
      They, in turn, taught me that no gift is more fun that gifts rolled in sheets of bubble wrap. In fact, when they were very young, a big roll of bubble wrap was a fascinating gift that kept them busy for hours! Thanks, Andrew. 😉

  7. Oh, I do love that last photo of the disappearing mouse! Unfortunately, my track record shows I am one of those who leaps before they look. 😦 But I am working on that looking again. Photography and blogging are helping to develop my looking skills. Okay, now, let me go and have another look at the bubble wrap; such fun stuff. 😀

    • Gallivanta, as I told David, my go-to response was the same. But I learned quickly that if I was going to leap before looking, I needed to at least first measure the depth where I’d be leaping. 🙂 That gave me freedom to lunge ahead, but it also taught me the first steps of planning.
      Now, let’s both go have another look at the bubble wrap!

  8. Hi Marylin, I love your winter tree pictures. They are absolutely beautiful. I love how you say your parents “studied possibilities and problems from all angles, looking past the obvious in order to study subtle details and see the big picture.” That is a such a good practice. I need to keep that in mind this year, going forward with my wedding business. The new year is off to a good start and I do want to grow in a good way.
    Blessings to you for a lovely post. Stay warm!
    xo Joanne

    • I have very high hopes for your wedding business, Joanne. I love your blogs–the combinations of your wedding, your daughter’s and friends’ weddings–and the pictures of the receptions and planning you did for others. You have the heart and genuine appreciation for weddings and all joyously loving events, Joanne, and the kindness and helpful attitude that promise you’ll be there to help with all the details. Your business already has all the key ingredients.

  9. Hi Marylin!

    First of all a Happy New Year since this is my first comment on your blog in 2015!

    I agree that it is good to to stop from to time to time and take a closer look. That’s how we can see if we are still on the right track, if what we are doing still fits with our talents or if we went in a different direction without noticing. Maybe we can add things or take some away or just nod and be thankful for what we have. Thank you for the reminder! And who knows? Maybe Cuckoo dancing is lots of fun after all 😉

    • It’s so good to hear from you, Ilka, and a Happy 2015 to you as well!
      I’m still working to combine spontaneous goals with steps of planning to help me reach the goals.
      But along the way, it never hurts to let loose with Cuckoo Dancing, Kazoo Playing and popping around on Bubble Wrap! 😉 Life is a blend, right?

  10. Marilyn, this is another great post for me to reflect on. Who am I ? I do plan, yet I stumble a lot and I’m so happy when I float. Andrew mentioned a general plan, that’s important to have. I know for sure , that whatever I do may that be stumbling, planning, or floating ….I need the help and kindness of others to get me through it.

    • Stumbling is the norm, Gerlinde; we all do it. I think it makes us appreciate the floating and encourages us to keep trying. While the help and kindness of others gets us through it…and it also reminds us to help others. You’re on the right track, and from what I read in your post, I know you’re helping others, too. It’s all part of the process, isn’t it?

  11. Molly

    I remember the mouse in the cookies and crackers at Cave of the Winds. We all were so tickled seeing him try to get little snacks that it ALMOST made the outrageous ticket prices worth it! The little mouse or mice friend(s) at my house this winter are probably as entertaining to our Munchkin kitty!

    I love the visual of grandma and grandpa sitting at the table setting goals and making plans together. It makes me think that all the planning and working Trevor and I are doing right now will have a positive result!

    • It makes me smile, Mookie, seeing you and Trevor work together as Grandpa and Grandma did. I don’t think they balanced on ladders and cleaned out the gutters with the kids in tow and helping–you and Trevor are quite the team at getting things done–but I think your grandparents would smile and be very proud of you. 😉

  12. Beautiful post Marylin – love the snow photography leading to a detail most would miss (like the leaf or mouse!!). An inspirational post of your parents and lessons for goal setting.

    • Thank you, Mary. The vivid leaf beneath the snow is a more artistic pictures, but the mouse scurrying away is a show stealer. 😉 Plus, the little guy reminds me that looking closely is VERY important as well as funny. If we’d missed his trail, we would have bought some of the treats and the kids would have quickly ripped into them and begun gobbling away. 😦

  13. Your parents were very wise, much like my own, Marylin. The photos of the trees are so beautiful. There is nothing more beautiful than freshly fallen snow or ice on a tree branch..as long as the ice doesn’t pile up on the power lines.

    • We both were so fortunate to have parents who’d learned that planning was essential, Jill, especially because they had children.
      I’m grateful for all my parents did and taught us, but also that their planning made it possible that they could take deep breaths and laugh and enjoy taking trips with their children and making possible college and major life celebrations. They made so many things possible, by their planning and love.

  14. That snow-covered tree looks great from a distance … say, from a warm spot in sunny Florida. OK, I do miss ‘some’ snow. Snowy scenes make me smile as long as I’m not shoveling out or snowbound as a result.

    EEK! That mouse. I’ll bet he was having a good time until the paparazzi happened by. Good catch, Marilyn. Also thanks for giving me plenty of things to celebrate this month. 😉

    • Oh, Judy, the choices in January are numerous, some serious and some oh-so-not serious. I think Janus would be getting whiplash, looking back at last year and forward at all these confusing choices.
      The mouse was a startling catch that day, captured BEFORE we let the grandchildren each choose a treat!
      Today in Colorado it’s 67 degrees, and the sunshine and blue skies are making fast work of the remaining snow. I’m meeting a friend for coffee… and I’m walking to meet her, to make the most of the sunshine. By Wednesday we expect more snow. It’s been quite the winter so far.

  15. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Excellent reminder for us to look at everything more closely, Marylin. After all, “God is in the details.”

  16. I hope it is okay to mention your blog today while talking about Alzheimer’s Disease, Marylin. I may have been better to ask first, you may be thinking, right?! Smiles!
    I enjoyed how you shared about your parents, I need to rewrite my post, since i had included your mother having A.D and not really remembered your father was the one who had it. Sorry and I will change this detail. Feel free to let me know if there is anything else, something that may not be completely correct in my post.
    Thanks for sharing about the details in life, the poo pin of the elephant is special, the snacks look delicious but hope for no mouse to wander through the stores I frequent and your mentioning food has me hungry, Marylin.
    I just wonder what cuckoo dancing is and what did Thomas Crapper do to deserve a day! ha ha!

    • Robin, your post is excellent; thank you for including this blog in it, and do not go back and change anything. You’ve captured the essence very well.
      Now, go and enjoy Bubble Wrap, Cuckoo Dancing, and Kazoo playing…and then get back to your plans! 🙂

  17. Marylin, I think you consult more than the Farmers’ Almanac to treat your readers to such fascinating tidbits. 🙂 I am still stuck on Thomas Crapper Day and the photo of the pioneer woman with bison dung. I would guess the dung would make excellent fertilizer too.

    • I consult all kinds of sources, Marian, believe me. I love learning–and questioning–all kinds of information! 😉 It used to drive my teachers nuts; and then for 30 years I was the teacher who saw how annoying that could be. One thing I did learn about the bison dung was that out on the plains where there were few trees, in addition to using dung in place of fire wood, many families also lived in sod houses, usually with one door and one, maybe two small windows. Burning dung in the hearths for cooking caused a LOT of smoke, and can you imagine the smell of cooking food over those flames? ;(

  18. There is an old saying isn’t there – look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. A good metaphor I think for your post this week, Marylin.

    • Excellent saying, Jenny, and a very good metaphor for this post. I’ve received several emails asking what I did about the mouse: did I report it and try to catch it? And if I didn’t, why not? I’m always amazed at some of the questions. It was all I could do to get a quick “tail end” picture before it disappeared, but we did tell the shop owner about it. 😉

  19. I can picture your parents as you speak of them planning and preparing. That is my way so I can resonate with that.
    Love your photos of the snow and the last autumn leaf.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. Those are some of my vivid memories, too.
      With my mom’s writing, when she illustrated some of her children’s stories, I also remember watching her study the pictures she drew and painted very carefully, planning what details would be necessary or not. If she ended up adding something she hadn’t planned, it was usually in a corner of the picture, and usually she’d said she should have seen it coming.

  20. Uh, have to admit I was focused on those snacks, Marylin! So me! The mouse didn’t bother me since the snacks were wrapped and all! I think goals are a wonderful thing – something to head toward. So many swear off “New Year’s Resolutions” and making goals right along with it – sometimes it seems like an excuse for complacency. (Well, aren’t I in a mood today?!)

    • You are in a mood, Shel 😉 so I’ll give you another tidbit; the mouse left a few tiny tears in the corners of the packages, and buyers who just ripped into the packages might not have noticed. 😦
      Personally, I like making goals better than resolutions. Goals usually have a specific purpose and time limit for me.

  21. I love this reminder to look closer – I missed the mouse! It’s wonderful that your parents set that example of planning and looking at the big picture as well as those wonderful examples of creativity. I’m intrigued by cuckoo dancing, I’ll have to look it up!

    • If you find something fun and unusual on Cuckoo Dancing, Andrea, please let me know. I found two vague descriptions.
      One was a dance with hands tucked in arm pits, and the strutting dance of a chicken. The other described it as confused, random dancing based on music with emphasis, like the sounds of a cuckoo clock.
      But I think it has to have more than that, so let me know if you learn more. 🙂

  22. This reminded me of a quote Jake reprinted from Rumi about digging a little deeper; looking in the branches when we might need to look among the roots — am paraphrasing, probably getting a word or two wrong, but the message is clear and your blog post is a spectacular reminder of its wisdom.

    • Excellent example, Renee. So much of Rumi’s writing has to do with waking up to early breezes of thoughts and paying attention and digging deeper. Rumi’s examples are just so much more elegant than the picture of the mouse scurrying away! 🙂

  23. Claudia

    Love your snow pictures. We have not had much snow here and in fact, this weekend is lovely spring like weather! I enjoy it but feel it is trickery by Mother Nature, am sure some snow and cold are still in our future here! And I liked your “poopy” pictures too!!! Good point of trying to see all sides of a thing…my blog forces me to do that because I do not want to whine and complain there. Yesterday was a bit of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly day. I forced myself to see good but honesty also popped into the blog of the day too. Hopefully, my “seeing” was balanced. Have a good week…2/3 of January is down. Amazing,isn’t it?

    • I always appreciate your descriptions, Claudia, as you live in the same general area where I grew up and now where my mom is, and you’re much more interesting than the weather channel!
      Mother Nature really is tricky, and some days when I call about Mom the caregiver’s weather the report is the opposite of what it is here. I’m glad you liked the “Poopy” pictures and the point I was trying to make.

  24. The fleeing mouse!! Yikes! spotted his tail immediately! We are still waiting for our first snowfall. Our mountains are covered with the white stuff but no ‘low elevation’ snow yet 😦 I love snow so thank you for sharing your pics. Rising Star Month and Wayfinding Month – I love that! very inspiring.

    • Thanks, Yolanda. I forwarded your blog link–the post asking about the wine and its effect–to two friends, and I think you’ll be hearing comments from them. It was an excellent topic.
      If I could send you some of our snow forecasts–along with the ice–I’d gladly share with you! 😉

      • LOL! snow ok, ice not so much. It rains here A LOT in winter so you can imagine how gray and depressing it gets after a while. Thanks for forwarding the link.

  25. Marylin, again you offered lovely photos. I tend to over plan which means I don’t accomplish as much as I’d like too. I have to try and find a balance. 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them, Tracy. While I love the beauty of snow in Colorado, I do not enjoy the difficulty driving from here to southeast Kansas to visit my mother during the winter. I’ve been in enough ice storms to know how dangerous it can be. But yesterday and today were sunny, blue-skied and Colorado wonderful, so I’m hoping the next trip to Kansas will be good, too.

  26. I definitely don’t want to wrap myself up in bubble wrap, that’s for sure! So important to look at the details – and I love your snow photos, we haven’t had any yet, but hoping as I just love the beauty of it 🙂 That mouse – yikes! Cheeky little thing! My mother is the quintessential planner and organiser (in fact, one of her job titles was ‘Regional Organiser’ so what does that tell you?) and she taught me by example the importance of looking at the smaller details. Then again, so did my dad when it came to nature. Thank you Marylin for this reminder. I hope you are having a good week and keeping warm and cosy 🙂

    • You’re the daughter f a “Regional Organiser,” Sherri! In the UK, what does that involve? When you were a little girl, did you keep your friends in line and organized? Noticing the little mouse in my picture was not a problem for you, was it?
      You have an excellent combination because of your parents–one with a specific job title, and the other with an attention to the details of nature.
      I loved your post about the blue door open for the view of the sea and the sky, Sherri. You have an excellent sensibility for combining details, too.

  27. Your advice, my dear friend, to look beyond the obvious and see the big picture is brilliant! Another trivia filled post that I can’t wait to share with my family….such fun topics of discussion! 🙂

    • Thank you, Robyn!
      I hope your family enjoys the trivia, though depending on the mood, you all might choose to roll in bubble wrap or do the cuckoo dance or play kazoos. And actually, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? And you could take some amazing photographs of your family. You have such a talent of capturing the beauty of the moment.

  28. I must be honest—the snow-covered trees look much more beautiful in your photos than they did out my window today. 😉 And the snack and mouse photo is such a great one to illustrate your point about looking closer! I would be checking those bags very carefully before digging in!

    • The mouse definitely captured the most attention. 🙂 And “look closely” was the rule of thumb after it left. Some of the snack packages had slight indentations where the little guy had been, but if you looked carefully there were also some tiny tears in the cellophane. I have to admit, it changed how closely I look at any snacks before I buy them!

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