Winter Quiet

  shelf

January is a quiet month around here. Days of bitter cold and wind mark the days with slicks of snow now and then. Packing away the Christmas trimmings for another year always brings a bit of nostalgia and perhaps more so this year. My sister and I rarely visited each other over the holiday in recent years but so many memories attach to ornaments, especially the ones she had made or specially chose for us.  My sweet niece frequently has spent part of Christmas Day with us and this year she decided to take over our kitchen and make dinner for us and for her parents who were visiting. I know she meant it to be a blessing, and it was… and it wasn’t… I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Dinner was delicious and in a turn about, she left us with all the leftovers instead of taking them home. Changes can be hard.

   20180116_101902      Christmas Cactus     Christmas Cactus

The window garden has been slow this year. While I’ve been anxious to see color and enjoy the blooms, they seem part of the quietness, calling me to quiet myself.

African Violet     African Violet

Amaryllis            Amaryllis

I’ve considered that I left the Amaryllis bulbs outside too long last fall and they decided to prolong their beauty sleep. Finally, they are awake although we may not have bloom until Easter this year!

20171231_091300      20180121_152030      quilt

Do you make resolutions for the New Year? I don’t. But I think clearing clutter, downsizing, and reorganizing run like an undercurrent of my life these days. I’ve done some major work in the area of fabric and thread in the past, but still there is “the suitcase”. It hides our of sight in the back of a coat closet, blocking the way to the Christmas storage. Therefore, at least twice a year, it rolls out and I look through.  Finally, I decided to take out the remains of a duvet cover I made more than 25 years ago.

It was filthy and damaged in our house fire, but I loved it, so I salvaged what I could and washed it many times to remove the dirt and stench of smoke, fading and softening it in the process. A trip to the quilt shop before Christmas and I had the makings of a twin size quilt. This was a satisfying January project. I still have a few blocks and I’m considering them. They will not go back in the suitcase.

                      20180131_124849      recipe project

Another quiet winter project in the making – sorting out the recipes I only used at holiday time and giving them their own binder. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before. It will certainly declutter my every day files. And if I am honest in the process, I will discard many unnecessary ideas into the recycling box. This is a hard process, although one I have worked on from time to time. I started collecting cookbooks “with a story” before I was married. I lost quite a few with the fire but — there seem to be quite a few on the shelves; many, lovely gifts.

moon

Blue moon, red moon, eclipse

Holly

And the month ends with Holly Berry Day for the Robins! The trees were alive with a flock.

Whispers of Rest

Book club again for February.

I’m grateful for so many things; especially for you who take the time to visit here with me.

Come again, friend.

Another Epiphany

sunrise

a moment of sudden and great revelation

a sudden realization about the nature or meaning of something

Nativity

Nativity

Nativity

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Hardly fancy, but oh the memories – from the battered watering can from my parents’ home, the straw Nativity from my, then, little girl that started this assembly, to the music box angel from my Mother-in-law, gifts from friends, creatures collected… the curious, the worshipers, the stargazers… all are welcome…

  snowflake star

… while choirs of angels still sing…

angel banner

May the peoples of the earth seek and find the Peace they crave in an Epiphany.

And may God bless us everyone!

Healing things

I find it is the small things, the often overlooked or sometimes neglected things that can bring calm and restoration to my life. During these past months, I’ve had to force myself to find the things that comfort my soul. I’m sharing them to remind myself of the Whispers of Rest that God provides, if I will only notice. Perhaps they might be a reminder for you as we move closer to the winter holiday season and beyond into what we have as the long, cold of winter.

Notice. Make something with your hands. Enjoy the space that surrounds you – and all those you are blessed to have in it. The seasons change always brings some new beauty to bless us.

2017-11-23    2017-10-11

2017-08-30     Collages6

20170928_123459    20171118_153926    20171118_145254

ferns    calla bulbs and amaryllis bulbs    Sadie cat

still life  Advent begins. A quiet soul time. The link is a story with some resource links from the past. An online friend, Diana Trautwein, is starting her Advent Journey: Reflections for Weary Travelers and Bonnie Gray is Celebrating Advent, listening for God’s Whispers of Christmas.  Maybe you need a bit of rest yourself?

sunset

  • Double click on any photo to see the enlargement.

 

Living in sacred moments

What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events which alter and illuminate our times… and you were there.     from You Are There – hosted by Walter Cronkite.

dish of shells

Behind the silence here, the drama of a life ending has been unfolding. A drama I would never choose to be a part of and yet, I was, I had to be. In the days since the final goodbye, I began to look for words. Words to record the pains, the sorrows, the griefs, and also the laughter,the  love, the sacred… oh, the sacred moments… of watching a mama sing her last Happy Birthday to a son – fully grown, but always her baby.

butterfly lamp

Marguerite. It means daisy or pearl or child of light.

Marguerite – daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother

Daisy – butterfly attractor, organic gardener, flower lover

Pearl – baker, crocheter, embroiderer, doll collector

Child of light – a woman of faith who showed up, and quietly, faithfully lived her life and served everyone in it

When she moved from home hospice to a facility, we were given a booklet. One that tells the truth about the stages of dying in a very compassionate way. But, there is really no knowing when the last day, the last moments will come.

September 25. My birthday. It was a Monday and my husband and I went early to see her and to pray with her. She seemed alert and strong and prayed with a calm and certain voice. Then she thanked us for visiting and we left. After dinner, I drove back, I had promised pie for the celebration. She was sleeping while her other visitors chatted softly. Eventually everyone left but my niece and I. I had brought Erin her dinner and we went down to the kitchen for her to eat. She kindly showered me with gifts and also delivered a gift from her mom, my younger sister who could not be in town.

20170926_211111Quirky napkins!

When we went back to the room, Margie roused and we had her re-positioned. While that was happening, she told the staff that it was my birthday. It was about 9 pm and we thought we would just leave but she asked about the pumpkin pie I had promised her to celebrate my birthday. And so, we ate pumpkin pie and used our quirky party napkins and laughed and enjoyed our minutes together. There were hugs and kisses and happy smiles, as we said good night. Sacred moments.

That was the last time she chatted with us. Though we all continued to speak quietly to her our words of love, sweet memories and thanksgivings through the next days and nights. She quietly slipped away from this world the morning of October 3.

Marguerite – Margie to me, my older sister. Her presence will always be like music running in the background of my life. Music full of the steady beat of faithfulness, punctuated with trills of infectious laughter.  A sacred life.

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My life — forever altered and illuminated by her presence.

I’m so glad we were there those days —  together.

Summer Cake

I’m not ready to be done with summer.

In the days before air conditioning in every home and car – if anyone remembers that era – there was “summer cake”. Layers of Hot Milk Sponge Cake filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar. A few years ago, I learned that this old recipe was called Washington Pie. Rather like Boston Cream Pie – they are cake and not pie.

cake

While the jam and powdered sugar are traditional, a simple chocolate ganache was better suited for an August birthday. My hubby was glad for that change!

The recipe apparently dates from the mid to late 1800’s. Mom’s note at the top attributes it to her mom and grandmother. Her grandmother lived from 1850 – 1929, a time when many letters were written and recipes shared among friends and family.

recipe

I use vanilla in mine, but do choose whatever flavor will compliment your topping and filling.

And, as an old letter with a recipe enclosed ended, “I hope you have good luck with this!”

Beautiful Callas!

My husband had gifted me with these beautiful blooms several years. My gardening with Calla story began in September, 2014. This post from last year has links for my continuing education project.

This year has been exciting! While we didn’t have a hundred percent bloom, the foliage is lush and the education of Elaine continues!

calla lily

I potted fewer bulbs in the large pot and there were 4 blooms. I also planted them in 4 smaller pots, no bloom.

I planted a group directly into the garden soil and those did the best with one white bloom and 4 of the pink to rose shade.

Calla lily bloom

This has been quite an adventure for me and I have enjoyed it! Seeds have been forming for quite a while now and I plan to harvest them and see what their future brings.

Growth

Lots of things have been growing in the heat of summer.

Whispers of Rest  When the weather is pleasant, I like to sit outside and read. Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray has been my 40 day companion for rest and personal growth. I enjoyed it so much, I’m starting over in August!

St Michael's  It has been many years since we took a trip to St Michael’s and the maritime museum. It was a hot day, but we did enjoy the indoor and outdoor museum features and a lovely river cruise.

Most days are home days this summer and while we will be settling into green, the flower gardens have been lovely – take a look!

Garden collage 1

Garden Collage 2

I’ve been working on some quilt projects this summer. Piecing a small project, sewing blocks together that I cut back before the broken foot, and sorting through the dwindling stash of old.

quilt plans  The last piece is part of a comforter cover I made long ago. It was seriously damaged when we had the fire, but I saved what I could. I just loved the colors. I’m trimming it down and backing it with the bird fabric for a kind of “cozy”.

jar of flowers

I haven’t forgotten Calla’s story. Coming soon…

 

Resting in the glory of June

June collage

For better or worse, I’m enjoying the flowers and ignoring a lot of weeds! Actually, until the last few days, the ground has been so dry that it will not give up the weeds but holds tight to the roots. Now that a bit has fallen, I’ve begun the slow process of routing them.

But soon I’ll have a story to tell – All about Calla!

 

What do you see?

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a. weeds overtaking grass

b. a delightful opportunity to hunt for 4 leaf clover

My Dad would always choose b. … and, he would always find one! Just like he always saw the jig saw piece that I had been searching for.  He never gloated over a finding, but if you looked quickly, you would see the delight light up his eyes.

Photo_2003_11_21_2_47_33_edited-001   Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Remembering you with love.

A new book by Bonnie Gray

Whispers of Rest

While we’ve not yet met in real life, I call Bonnie Gray – Friend. Since reading her first book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, several years ago, I’ve been waiting. Waiting for this book that I didn’t even know she was writing! But here it is: Whispers of Rest. It is a wonderful encouragement to care for the most important part of ourselves – our souls. Taking time to learn to rest, finding peace.

In a world that churns with need and duty and is in desperate need of peace, we can learn through these “40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul” how to receive from God in new ways so that we can give, we can encourage, we can love – a little better – through rest and soul care.

Bonnie calls this a guidebook. In its pages, you will find:

  • Soul Care Tips & Trail Notes — Reduce stress and nurture your body and spirit.
  • Daily Beloved Challenges
  • Simple Prayer Practice

At www.whispersofrest.com, you will find information on ordering and downloading the free gifts Bonnie has prepared for us. These will include videos to share and an opportunity to join the online book club to begin on June 5, 2017. I hope you’ll check it out. Summer is a great time for refreshment of soul. I’m looking forward to it.