The twisted tree lives its life, while the straight tree ends up in boards. Chinese Proverb

Or, my 2024 version:
The twisted tree lives its life, while the straight tree becomes. . . bored

The early morning darkness is broken by the orange glow of my kitchen stove fire, teapot beginning to burble. The day promises another round of 24 hours. I sit with my pen and yellow legal pad, poised to begin my daily ritual of making THE list. Before I get the teabag into the “Mi casa es tu casa, pero mi taza no es tu taza” – teacup, the phone interjects itself into the quiet.

Ping!                                                                    8:30 a.m.

My son texts: I just put James on the bus. Can we finalize travel plans to Georgia?

Me: Right now? I’m making tea.

He:  Now is good. I am off all day, though. What works?

Me:  Give me ten minutes and I’ll call.

He:   K


Ping!                                                                    10:00 a.m.

Neighbor:  Interested in a morning walk? Lucy is whining at the door.

Me:  Yes! I’ll get my boots. Give me a few minutes.

She: I’ll put Lucy out for a quick run, then head your way.

Me:  Good thing she needs her walks. Gives us a break!


Ping!                                                                    11:45 a.m.

Sister:  Am still at the Convent meeting.  Do you have time to call the pharmacy and see if they have Clobazan, 10 mg for Jeremy’s seizures?

Me:  Sure. Do you need money?

She: We have an account set up for the asylum family. People donate there.

Me:  How far will $50.00 go?

She: About two weeks.

Me:  Got it.


Ping!                                                                    Noon

La estudiante: I passed the Spanish test!

Me:  Excelente trabajo.

She: Gracias. Yo gusta estudiar contigo. I think that is correct grammar. Can we meet Thursday?

Me:  Jueves?  4:00?

She: Probably 4:30. I have to ride the bus home and then do chores.

Me:  Perfecto. Hasta mañana a las 4:30 de la tarde en mi casa.


Ping!                                                                     1:00 p.m.

Una amiga:  Good afternoon, Jan,

It’s been a while, but I think of you often.  Life takes some Interesting twists, and mine certainly has. I have some news.

I had an appointment at Mayo and both lungs are now riddled with cancer.  My doctors recommend no further treatment as it would only diminish quality of life and not change the outcome. There is evidence that it might be moving into the brain. . . In any case, the doctor says I have weeks to a few months left. I wanted you to know. I am OK with all of this. If you are so inclined, please feel free to call. I would love to talk to you.

Me:  Tell me when. I’ll come.


Ping!                                                                    1:30 p.m.

She:  Hola, Jan, I ordered some stuff for our Brain Buster costumes.

The martini glasses should get here tomorrow. Sorry, only 4 in a set.

Found six picks with olives. We still need headbands and a glue gun.

Me:  Sounds good. So glad we aren’t going to wear the dog cones! Smartinis is a great team name,

but I wasn’t ready to wear a dog cone in public!

She: Plus, who can whisper answers and eat snacks with a “shame” cone on your head?


Ping:                                                                  3:00 p.m.

Pastor: Hello friends. Excuse my presumption of including you in this group text, but you are

 part of the Community Building justice table and there is a project coming up with a

short timeline. We met with the Superintendent and she reports that she has never    experienced such animosity toward public education nor such dejection among staff.

  We are proposing taking out a ½ page ad around Valentine’s Day . . . we need copy, graphics and money. It costs $1,176. 

 Me:  I’d change, “. . . young minds. . .” to teaching “us” . . .  and add “life-long learning” in there.

Ping!                                                                      4:30 p.m.

Friend’s daughter: There are some very concerning things going on with my mother.

Me:  She called a few days ago. Something about kidney failure, having dialysis.

She seemed quite upbeat about her new living arrangements, though. Good food.

She:    Yeah. That is the medical side of it. There’s more. She is being scammed and has memory issues. We are trying to figure out what is        

           happening. She won’t listen to us.

Me:  Oh, dear.


Ping!                                                                   5:15 p.m. 

Lois: Found these two antique chairs at the thrift store. They fit in my car.

Aren’t they lovely?

Me:  Once again you prove: “You can never have too many chairs” and yes,

they are exquisite!

Tinkerbell ringtone; my granddaughter!          5:30 p.m.

She: Finals scores:

Science: 14.12/15 + 8 extra credit points

English: 18/20 + 40/40 on my character analysis

Math:  47/49

Spanish: 61/61

Human Geography: 27/30 + 35/35 on my Spain project

Me:  Yeah! YAY! Super bien! Good time to call? Ah, if we were together, I’d take you out to El Tequila for supper tonight – a real “chica” date!

She: Doing homework.  Later?  Love u.


I put the phone back on the table for the umpteenth time and picked up my legal pad. Dusk was setting in and my personal to-do list was now a conglomeration of phone numbers, addresses to visit and new errands, not on my radar this morning. Instead of check-off marks, tomorrow’s list was growing. Seriously? Is life just a series of interruptions? Do I lack self-discipline? Focus?

My winter hopes of organizing files, collecting family cabin stories, downsizing stuff, routinely get pushed aside, replaced by a jumble of incoming! What about “my big rock” items, but wait!

That is life. There is a reason for these incoming messages. They are the very core of human existence.  Life’s variety on parade. Before I could ponder, I heard a. . .

Ping. . .   another opportunity to answer life’s call.

 “Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”  (Days of Our Lives Soap opera)


Which direction did your PING take you today? Please share below.