Category Archives: Doing life

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.”

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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.

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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?

 

Father Time

watch

Old Father Time – I blame him for the odd passage of time these last weeks and, in fact, this last year. My watch began to run fast, the bathroom clock refused to run, its replacement ran too fast. Now I have a new watch and a new bathroom clock – one with a fake tick-tock.

Back to last January. Do you make resolutions, choose a word for the year, or just wait and see? I chose a word – or it chose me. I set up a notebook, wrote out my plans, started to make something of it. Then a strange bit of old conversation pressed into my consciousness – and I listened to it. So began the strange unfolding of my word.

I started with plans and purpose and the first project led to a serious clean out of my needle crafting supplies and that led to being able to sow them into the lives of young women with teachers wise to help them explore art and craft in many forms. boxes  Father time had gotten involved with the bittersweet realization that years of life are limited but creative ideas are not. Expecting to be energized, I found myself exhausted, slowed to a crawl even. Where was the energy that was supposed to come with ‘de-cluttering’?

In August, I needed something from the cellar. Easily distracted, I faced into the storage boxes of journals and notebooks. Looking between the covers made me ponder the fact that some words bind us to the past in unhealthy ways. August 26 - November 26go onDetermined to forget those things which need to be forgotten in the grace of God, I glanced through them, saved some treasures and recycled 15 years of time, releasing and simplifying spaces of the past.  The process went on as I looked into the guest room which from the doorway looked quite tidy… Opening the closet reminded me to photography and scrapbooking projects unfinished…

That word for the year – well, well-being. This cleaning of the attic and basement of my soul has happened as the fabric and books and paper have been cleared away. While the work has been emotionally exhausting and wearing on the body as well, it is creating well-being in my soul. The stack of empty storage boxes, the deliveries, recycling, gifting, are all evidence of the work out, long needed for my health.

indoor garden

All along, of course, life goes on with sunrises, sunsets and quiet, wonderful things, nurturing me. Like this hyacinth bulb, the first I’ve grown in the house. Wonderful, quiet growth unfolding.

Farewell, 2015!

I pray for all a wondrous, joyful New Year, 2016.

 

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

A day for musing

A quiet day, much of it spent almost nose to the ground picking up wood shaken from the trees in wind and rain. I’m mindful that this is minor damage and very grateful that our saturated ground was spared the hurricane hit. But it is a tiring chore.

So I’m sharing a brief September trip to Ithaca, home of a dear family member. As I have noted a number of times, I’m smitten with the bird cams sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

During a leisurely breakfast, we watched the live-streaming of the historic inauguration of Cornell’s new President, Elizabeth Garrett, the prelude to Homecoming Weekend. Although there were many events planned on campus, we managed to evade them all and see the things really important to Elaine :) The field light post where the hawklets were born and fledged was the first stop…

lamp post

It was lovely to stand and look around at the sights we watch on the bird cam. Then it was off to Sapsucker Woods to see the cams at the feeders and on the pond. feeders    sapsucker woods pond

It was a brilliant late afternoon and a luxury to sit on the well placed bench with family and enjoy this peaceful place.  Later we were off to the fabulous Zaza’s to celebrate my upcoming birthday. There, after a wonderful meal,  I met my new dessert love – Affogato al Caffè – “Freshly brewed espresso poured over creamy vanilla gelato”, and, available as de-caf! Such a satisfying day!

sapsucker woods pond

September

2015-09-09It was long weeks of hot and dry until today. I set myself to finish some tidying  here and there and was surprised to find a turtle. Neither of us could remember the last time we spied one here.IMG_6594Today was a dark day of waiting till the afternoon hours seemed to finally press open the clouds and the bursting drenched the area with close to 3 inches of rain. And as the hours grew dark everyone needed to be vigilant for high water and flash flooding.

August finale

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Well, I only missed one day outside. That one was spent sleeping and recovering from what I can most gratefully refer to as – a minor accident in my home.

Out and about, the countryside views have been glorious. I’m blessed to enjoy the flowers in our yard. The child size statuary in a country town has been adorned by a red knitted cap. Fun! I’ve been thinking about the gate. It has a story it wants to tell; perhaps I can listen well and write it in the days ahead.

August went by so quickly this year. My decision to go outside every day and observe was a good one and I plan to continue into my favorite month, September. I’m looking forward to what will be offered to me and I encourage you to look about and truly see the things that might be just outside your own backdoor.

 

Comfort in stormy weathers

July started with the “thunder moon”.  Every storm that visits here brings rain, sometimes just a dust settling drizzle, other times it’s a big wash. But always we are grateful for the rains. While we live near a city reservoir, out own precious water comes from our well. IMG_6197

The rains have brought luxuriant  growth to garden plant and weed. Every time I think I have gotten control of a bed – rains come, hidden seeds sprout and I start over. My progress in garden weeding is slow.

 

With every pending storm, the air stirs the tree tops into a frenzy and when the wildness stops, I am again surprised at how much dead wood has been held in the tree tops, waiting for the shaking down for my exercise routine.

The glorious show of daylily bloom is slowly giving way to green again but these blooms, while few, are stunning – IMG_6194 and in the background, the Butterfly Bush is beginning its season.

The other week, I mentioned the wild dogwood – cornus alternifolia – Pagoda Dogwood – is my id of it. I neglected to show this bird treat tree in that post. IMG_6177The seedling planted itself under a maple tree many years ago. I thought it was a Flowering Dogwood as we have many planted by birds and squirrels. Only as the years went by, I realized the leaves were a bit different. Early, I tried to straighten it, but it chooses to grow leaning out from under a maple to face into the morning sun.

All the quiet, slow, solitary activity of summer days allows me time to tidy my soul as well. Reminiscence and introspection seem to go round with me as peaceable companions in my chores and I learn from them.

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My favorite thing to have with early morning wonder time is iced coffee. I’ve been using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for several years now, Perfect!

The old dark and stormy night routine

Loud, disturbing storms rolled slowly through my long restless night. After dawn, the sun came slowly through the lingering clouds and there was the lovely lush green glow of this rainy summer. after the rain

Fortunately the power held and I could proceed with the days work of pickling. A kind neighbor had called with an offer of cucumbers and zucchini. Since we did not plant a vegetable garden this year, this was a real gift.

First, I made the Zucchini into soup from a recipe given to me a number of years ago. It is very similar to this one. We love the curry seasoning and usually have it warm. I’m so pleased to have several containers in the freezer.

It has been quite a few years since I had enough cucumbers growing to make pickles or relish and I had to gather some fresh spices for them. The process is slow and I feel the connection with the long history of women in summer kitchens “putting up” from the bounty of the land when I get to do these things. It was a shock for me to look at the old cookbook and realize the first time I made Million-Dollar Pickles was July, 1975! Yes, I write in my cookbooks, leaving the date and a comment trail through my years in the kitchen.

Pickles

Jars of pickles, jelly or jam cooling on the counter always bring a feeling of satisfaction, of blessing.

 

Little faith

Last September, I wrote about finding seed clusters in the spent Calla Lily blooms. I waited and on October 31, I gathered my harvest. calla lily seeds

calla lily seeds Tiny seeds sloughed from corn like coatings. One can find anything on-line but directions are not the same as in person tutoring to me and I was left with this small collection of seeds to protect till spring. I put them in a small cardboard box and while I didn’t forget them, I also didn’t plant them as directed. But on a putter-y kind of day in early June, I sprinkled them in a pot.  My little seeds were faithful to their calling to live and sprang up!

calla lilies

They have been growing well and I’ve transplanted them into another pot.  Rain and sun will nourish them well.

cally lily seedlings

There are some areas of my life where seeds of faith lie scattered in the soil of my heart. I’m encouraged that like the Calla Lily seeds, these faith seeds are growing good roots.