Category Archives: Doing life

What do you see?

20170602_164643-001

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.

Out and about

Do you ever push the doctor’s advice? “Do what’s comfortable.” he said. How do you know unless you do something? So I took my healing foot and drove to the lake to see my tree friends. (After breakfast at Panera.)      Loch Raven   It was a beautiful day and I was so grateful to be able to go out on my own. Of course, when I got home, foot suggested I give it a rest! Driving a standard transmission for so long now, I don’t think about how the left foot flexes to do it’s job. I was reminded!

African violet In my indoor garden, I have a very aged African Violet which I love. Watching the buds open each day is soothing to my soul.  African Violet  I will try again to propagate a new plant. I’ve not been successful in the past.  I rooted cuttings from the aged Christmas cactus and was delighted with a first bloom.     IMG_8673

My indoor gardening efforts require patience. For the first time, I succeeded in killing the bud on an amaryllis. That made me very sad. My old bulbs seemed to want to sleep in till spring! Then all of a sudden, they grew! Amaryllis  The pot on the left is my failure to bloom. Maybe next year! Soon, I will be showing off fabulous flowers!

The winds have been fierce this winter and the lawn and field are littered with downed wood. Ignoring it all is also a lesson in patience. On the one glorious hint-of-spring day, I ventured out into the backyard for the first time since mid December — because there were snowdrops!  snowdrops And those funny little rosettes of Autumn Sedum. It was so lovely to be outside, I had to go look for Lenten Roses. 

Hellebores The reward was mine! The next day it was again windy and cold with a dusting of snow that melted as the sun rose.

20170214_120512  Someone else’s fun. On a nearby street, many trees have been cut down. This property owner re-stacked quite a few pieces of the trunk of his tree and uses it to show his address, and his creativity. Last fall, the figure of a Black Headed Vulture was perched on top. The bird celebrates all the holidays. Here we have Cupid.

mug

On a sweeter note, not only on Valentine’s Day, but everyday, my prayer for you —

May your cup be filled with JOY!

“I”m trying as hard as I can.”

Those words were spoken quite a few years ago by my young niece at a tea party as she checked herself on her manners. Many days they seem appropriate for me to speak about my life and intentions.

The beginning of October, Pastor Di wrote her blogging plan for the month would be “31 days of Paying Attention.” While I cannot hope to imitate her writing in even a small way, I did think it would be an easy focus to get me back on track writing.  After all, I notice, I pay attention, I think about things. YOU notice that I have no posts for October. Somehow my paying attention became a serious introspection that required processing, sifting and interpreting.

ear;y morning

Even simple things like the early mornings and dark evenings that I love, became thought provoking. So, I’m finishing out the month with a few observations, a few attempts to notice, to pay attention.

  1.   candle light   Looking down into the clear glass jar, I see the illusion of light trapped by sold walls. One of the meanings of my name is light. It is easy for me to feel like light trapped. We are all meant to be light carriers. To shine. To brighten the darkness. And I wonder if I do.

day lily2.   One morning I stepped outside to cut a last bloom for the table, I glanced at the Elephant Ears with all the veins and shading of green glowing. Then I noticed the mist had settled like a dusting of silver.  elephant earSo beautiful and different from the large beads that usually form. I began to look through the garden and noticed other changes. Like the “skin” of the aged leaves no longer supported the droplets has they had.

leaf collage

3.   I confess: I much, much, prefer coffee to tea. But tea does have a small place in my life and cupboard. I like the thought of taking tea, but I don’t actually like tea. And I have tried many. Loose teas, tea bags. Fancy tea rooms, kitchen tables. Green, white, red, black, fermented…

I have lovely tea friends who gift me with tea cups and accessories, all of which makes tea time charming. And Dear Aunt Dolly, urged me to take the family spooner, so many years ago. spooner  It holds a small assortment of silvery spoons from family kitchens, long closed.  All at the ready for tea time.

I grew up in a tea drinking family. Teabags were common and easily discarded in trash or compost. And a great annoyance if by chance one burst open or one slipped from a dish and left a stain. Recently, I became aware that people were paying attention to those insignificant tea bags! They were looking closely at the construction and the dyed fiber of them. They were noticing even how the drying stains could be art! Hmm, I had to see for myself, so I began drinking tea, or at least boiling water and soaking tea bags.  tea bags Different teas, herbs, spices – it was intriguing. While they dried, I watched tea bag artists on YouTube! Then, I hunted up my stamping supplies and tried my hand at a simple project.card making

And I made a note card. One.  note card  I wrote a note and sent it off to an artist. Have you looked at a tea bag lately?

4.   A pathetic photograph of the charming Woolly Bear – Woolly Bear  Those fuzzy, wuzzy fall caterpillars, thought to predict winter weather. A friend mentioned that he had seen one. It made me realize that I had not seen one in a while. Pyrrharctia Isabella (Isabella Tiger Moth). A little research and I am amazed! These woolly creatures emerge in the fall and look for a dark and sheltered place to hang out over winter — FROZEN! True! They freeze solid and survive because they are designed with cryoprotectant in the tissues! I love knowing this! And yes, this deserves lots of !!!!! I’m on the look-out for Woolly Bears now.

autumn

5.   A post on Instagram asked for our earliest memories of Trick or Treat. The flashback was immediate. I was perhaps 6, maybe 7. Dad had walked my younger sister and I down the street, we visited some neighbors and collected our loot in those scary looking paper mache pumpkins of those days.  I loved dressing up in costume and for some reason, I think I was dressed as a gypsy in a fancy skirt and bolero.  Even with street lights, it was very dark as there were still some leaves on the trees.  We walked as far as the Rosenburger’s home almost at the end of our long block. It was very large and on a very large lot, bigger than any other on the street. The Rosenburger’s  were very elderly and I hope they enjoyed our childish visit.

As we turned from the door to walk down the steps, well, that was when it happened.

I became aware, alert, enthralled, if you will, with the darkness, the windy darkness and the swirling, rustling dry leaves. I hear some folk don’t like to hear the wind, do you?  On that night, so very long ago, in the mystery of wind, it became my friend.

There was strong wind the other day, so I stepped outside. The dry leaves swirled around my feet, whispering. And the wind wrapped itself around me like a shawl and I was 6 again.

leaves and needles

 

 

 

Thinking about September

sky

I read and ponder this quote from Frederick Buechner:  “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 

violet

September is like January – a new year – for me. September was full of birthdays when I was young. A new school year usually brought anxiety calmed with new notebooks and writing instruments and outside school activities.

cupcake

There are far fewer people to celebrate their September birthdays in family and among friends, leaving only my cousin and I to celebrate our mutual date.

 My mother used to speak of things that ‘had fallen by the wayside.’ Trees have fallen here. This one caused the death of our cherry tree and now cherry pie in June has ‘fallen by the wayside’.

fallen tree

 Two friends died, suddenly, like great trees fallen from our lives. And we mourn.

 squirrel   deer   Carolina Wren

Squirrels gather black walnuts, deer stroll through – eating the gardens when I’m not looking and the Carolina Wren draws me to the windows early in the morning  as if to remind me, ‘there are new mercies for each new day, open your eyes, Elaine. Wonder abounds, be grateful!’

day lily   hydrangea

swing

Cooler weather finally arrived, the lighting changed and autumn arrived. And I enter in, reflective, pondering. Taking more notice of the moments. Before they are fallen by the wayside.

autumn sign

 

An old school question

There comes a time when autumn* asks,

What have you been doing all summer?  Anon.

Perhaps you too had teachers who asked that same question and required a paragraph or two of fun and exciting adventures.  Oh my.

I think it was the shoes I bought in spring,   shoe though it would be a while before I remembered the brown buckle shoes of many childhood summers. But once remembered they stirred other memories of those long ago summers — countless hands of Canasta and hours of board games with my sisters, afternoons of stitching, evenings of reading and porch sitting while thunder and lightening rolled across the sky. There were late, dark nights spent twirling the dials of a vintage radio dad brought home, listening for already old-time comedy or suspense broadcasts still playing in other places.

And I realized that while they might not have gotten me a good grade in school,  those simple pleasures set me for life. I’m always up for a great adventure to distant parts, but the everyday life here is one I am grateful to be able to enjoy even on the days when everything seems all wrong in the world.

embroidery  Simple embroidery,

learning a new quilt pattern from Craftsy,  scrappy quilt

finishing a small quilt started last year, small quilt.

or recalling seashore trips of other years with small vignettes shells & stuff   shells  are parts of my summer days now.    20160824_080926

Reading continues to be a blessed pastime and storms are part of every summer here. I’ve added other pleasures to these simple rhythms of life – letter writing, daily cooking, gardening, and the joy of meeting a friend for coffee. And old time radio has been bypassed by streaming videos, sometimes much too late into the night!

Our new friend Tim has just left a bag of tomatoes on the front railing – another splendid gift of summer! Rosy smiles in the face of heat and humidity.

*I recently learned that September 1 is the meteorological first day of autumn.

August – delightfully interrupted

Hot. Humid. August. Definitely in need of a lovely interruption.

Our daughter came bringing the Grandpup, Marigold,IMG_8273

and Grandkittie, Sadie 20160814_103830

Both are rescued and well loved. It was first visit for Sadie who made herself at home at my writing table right away. IMG_8275 Although she also kept me company as I did some hand stitching. 20160817_102627

Marigold was harder to capture but was so much more at home on this second visit — until the thunder storms. Then, although she has a crate, she tried hiding in all kinds of places she did not fit. Including beside the dryer. That turned out to be a bonus gift for us as we became aware of a hole hidden in the folds of the venting material. A hole unseen, but big enough to interfere with the function of the machine.

The days went so quickly and then, it was time to say our goodbyes.

20160817_110315 Marigold was ready to go with her mama wherever she was going!

We hugged and waved and there may have been a tear as we held each other and watched the car disappear from view. Come again, sweet girl!

 

From My Desk in the Field

Collage June

The month of June has been unsettling. I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, working and thinking, sometimes writing a word or three. Wondering if the writing can or even should continue.

As I rarely post without photographs and I am having a bit of a learning curve challenge with some photo software issues, I feel somewhat lost.

That said, I have taken many photos with my phone, especially of flowers.

I’ve been using Instagram for a while. Stop by, if you like. I post under my name. day lily

Times

Time.

The way we measure out life in minutes,hours, days, years.

Taking time and using it wisely and well.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

I read that April was National Letter Writing Month, from Barb.  This took me back into my love for snail mail and I accepted the 30 day letter writing challenge.  30 days to think about relationships, to mark the days and honor those put on the path of my life. It was a time to remember events that brought people – unique and wonderful people – into my time.

writing

On the 15th of April, on FB, I read of the death of the Mother-in-Love of an old acquaintance. Over several months, Libby had briefly shared the illness, the frustration with medical care and finally, their decision to bring this lovely lady into their home until she passed into the arms of God.  Now it was time to write sympathy, condolence, a time to acknowledge a life well lived and loved.

I met Libby when we were young. She spoke highly of this lady through the years we shared an office and on every occasion before and after she married into that family.

A time to be born, and a time to die… a time to plant… a time to heal… a time to build up…

Iris

Death is never an easy thing to face. Whether long or short, a life is a great presence and its passing is loss that can make us fragile while it seems to expand our hearts.  Acknowledging the grace gift that is life is so important.

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;

spring bloom

I’ve mentioned that I’m reading Looking for Lovely. Annie Downs started her chapter, “Tragedy” with the text of Matthew 11:28-30 NIV,  and eventually drew me into Ecclesiastes*. She speaks a truth I’m learning, that only in Christ Jesus, can I find rest in the weary and burden and tragedy of life. Only if I look to Him, choose to come to Him in the pain and suffering. And that is not my usual response, my first response.

Like me, you are probably not a stranger to pain and suffering. No one wants to live in pain, sadness, loneliness, rejection, shame, war, tearing down, ripping apart… I want to  avoid it. Annie writes of this pain and tragedy and says, “I’m not sure I’ll find beauty in this. But the only way to truly see beauty, for my heart to grow in capacity and in ability to love and cherish, is through pain and heartache.”

Later, she continues, “I don’t know exactly how it works, I just know that the more I hang on and feel, the more I am able to feel; and each time more balm gets rubbed into the wounds of my soul.”  She finishes the chapter with these words, ” But there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending everything is okay.”

calla lily

The world is not comfortable with pain and often we are encouraged to ‘just get over it’, move, on, count your blessings. But the wise man said, there is a time to weep… a time to mourn…  And somehow in the mourning, in the weeping, there is a balm that is rubbed into the wound.

rain on the window

May 1, 2016. Sunny. Changing to sheeting rain, creating impressionist art outside my window. Reducing seed heads to earth stars.

dandelion star

May 1, 2016, checking FB updates in the afternoon, I found get well prayers for Libby. These were followed all too quickly by posts of grief at her death. Shock is not really an adequate word to express my state that evening.

Many old relationships just die a natural death, but some go on, changed, but connecting us to our history, our lifetime scrapbooks. She was one who knew me “then”; who was part of bridal and baby showers. We went to each other’s weddings. For Libby and I, our lives unfolded in different places and ways and we rarely took the time to meet although we promised in every Christmas update — next year!

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose;

Looking for the lovely, the good reports, the praiseworthy things**, I continued to read the FB updates.  I believe that the many seeds of goodness and love planted by this gracious woman will produce a harvest in the many lives she touched.

Dear Libby, you leave gaping spaces in the hearts of so many.  You will not be forgotten; your legacy will endure.  I’m so glad our lives touched.

white blooms of May

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-8   ** Philippians 4:8

Visits with an old friend

My writing here has been to try to share bits of life where comfort and joy touch me deeply. It’s a brief recording of my journey through life aware of beauty and the possibilities of peace.

In some ways I think my earliest readings fostered this search. The beautiful language and illustration of the Childcraft: Poems of Early Childhood, was precious to me. Then came the library with wonderful series describing more of life than my small world held. Eventually, I found Mrs. Tabor’s “Butternut Wisdom” in the Family Circle Magazine.

In a way, I suppose she became an example of wonderfully adapting to country living – if perhaps a bit romanticized.

book

I poured over my 1984 reissue of The Book of Stillmeadow, wishing for her connections and knowledge in my own country living. Perhaps it was she who encouraged my bread making efforts, the gardening, and the canning, preserving, and freezing seasons of life even without all the “amenities” of her old country farmhouse. And certainly without the bevy of Cocker Spaniels who so enriched her life!

My copy is worn from use, the edges stained grey by fire soot. Many years it was only dusted but for the last several, I have walked with Gladys through the months. It is a bit like revisiting old family letters. In February, I again came upon the “Comfort Powders”:

“My great-great-grandfather was a minister in Boston, and among the relics in his little haircloth, brass studded trunk I found this week something which pleases me very, much. I had forgotten about it during the terrible war years, and now it seems a new discovery. It is a small, yellowed box labelled “Comfort Powders.” The fading, flowing script says, “Take one every morning with a generous draught of cheerfulness and thanksgiving. Good for the mind and heart, will promote love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” Inside are thirty folded papers such as were used for powders by the old family doctors, folded at each end to keep the medicine from spilling. On each folded paper is a message, to be read for the day.

This is a lovely idea, I think, and bears repeating. For starting a new day with a beautiful thought might help us all. Grandfather’s comfort powders were Biblical, naturally.”

Gladys Tabor, The Book of Stillmeadow ©1948, reissued 1984

Gladys goes on to quote “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” From the Gospel of John 14:27

While she penned this book in 1948 reflecting back to WWII, her thoughts so apply today:

“In a world still uneasy, these are good words to hear. And as we hear the daily news, we might feel a world of peace was a most vain illusion. But under the snow, violets sleep, and in the world there is still love, gentleness and goodness.”

violetd

In our world, there is still great war going on and peace seems very far away. Today, I take a few verses to savor and to calm my heart and soul. May I offer you a few good and soothing words?

  • Psalm 94:19: In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

  • Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. RS

  • Lamentations 3:22-23:  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. NKJV

  • Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

And David’s words, so full of hope and promise:

  • Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Peace be with you, friend.

If not noted, passages of Scripture are  from the King James Version of the Bible.

Epiphany

January 6, 12th Day of Christmas, Epiphany

It makes me sad to see Christmas trees on the roadside December 26. It seems that folks are missing the best part of Christmastide. Resting in the beauty of Christmas and the lights and decorations. Yes, our tree is still up and at least for tonight, the lights will continue to brighten the long evening of rest and enjoyment.

2016-01-06The journey of the Magi through the nights and days seems to take a lot of conferencing and convincing – at least that is my imagination story – because it would probably have been my story had I been privileged to see the star and make the journey.

IMG_7190

In fact, I probably would have wanted to bring along a whole menagerie and everyone I knew so no one would miss out, all the while the time would grow later and later for the journey. Distractions.

Epiphany – revealing – my life is a constant revelation of God to me. I would like to see that revelation, the directions, written in the sky. I think it would keep me from distractions. But skywriting looks like this …

20160106_073420 or this  20160106_080221 or even 20160106_082815

All mystery, and like the books and scrolls that appear in my dreams, unreadable…

After my last post on Father Time, I set some time apart to again consider last year and to ponder whether or not to engage with the One Word concept this year. This time I thought about “well” as a thing – a hole dug in the ground to access water. I’ve read of wells that dried up and became trash bins full of broken things, garbage and such. Wells in which weapons or treasures were hidden. Abandoned wells, unmarked and a serious hazard to those who might stumble into them.

I remembered the story in Genesis in which Isaac had to re-dig the wells of his father so that he would have water for his flocks. They had been stopped up with earth by their enemies. I began to see that my cleaning out had been a process that could be like a cleaning out of my own wells clogged with earth stuff so that fresh water can now flow. I found a lightness to my spirit as I thought about this.

Bonnie Gray has been an online friend and mentor for quite some time now. Her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, was really a guide to clearing my wells even though I may not have been conscious of it as I went about my season of de-stashing. Bonnie is hosting a new feature this year and would love for you to join her and the others who will link their hearts and words of encouragement at #OneWordCoffee on Wednesdays on her web site, FB or Instagram. OneWordCoffee_Badge2Her word, her theme, is “beloved”. I’ve been hearing that this is my word for 2016. Since the well of my life is being restored, I’m ready to believe.

Do you choose a word for the year?