Category Archives: Things great and small

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.

20171007_111142

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.

Days of watchings

My brother has been in town. He came for an event but the plans for the week exploded wonderfully into visits with his children and grandchildren, sisters and niece.  It was fun to see everyone. His grands are growing into lovely people. So much growth in the few months since we last saw them. And like a whirlwind, he is gone again.

In the midst of all the chatting and coming and going, I always do best to quiet myself although that can be very hard to accomplish – or even remember! But this week, I did. I got outside a bit to check on what the earth is giving. Of course, I have to show you. It’s best to crouch down and have a close look, sniff, or listen.  hellebore    Hyacinth  new growth I’m rather excited about the new growth near the rock. I planted packets of bulbs last fall and I’m anxious to see what they will produce. Hyacinth blooms multiplied and the Hellebores are always charming as the first harbingers of spring here. There are ponds on nearby properties and the other night, when it was warm, I heard the sweet spring peeper chorus.

It has been so very dry this winter, hardly any snow or rain, but last night, the storms came and the rain fell through the day. I had an appointment in town and drove my favorite long way home through the reservoir. There were very few cars while I was there so it was a bit like my private park. A few geese searched the ground for nibbles while I sat and enjoyed the trees.

And on a canvas of glass, I watched the rain make art.

                             evergreen     evergreen2

                             trees 2     trees4

Do click on the photos to see the “modern art”.

For a fun video of the rain, visit my Instagram page: elaineweger.

 

Where the Wind Blows

The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.    John 3:8 HCSB

sunrise   sunrise   sunrise   sunrise

Months of wind. Cleaning the trees, knocking things over, waking me in the dark hours of night and morning and offering me opportunities to see rare beauty. The Spirit of God is like that.

The photos above are from this morning. A few recorded beauties follow.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

These. of course, are from our anticipated visits from Amaryllis. [click on any photo to enlarge]

 One welcome visitor, one not… One must look closely where the blossom starts to see the Brown marmorated stink bug. While nowhere near as invasive a nuisance as a few years ago, some still find their way through cracks, open doors and down the chimneys to overwinter. Any warm day finds them zinging about the house looking for a landing place – or a meal. I know it was probably cozy on the blossom, but, he was removed and perished. These are an invasive, non-native bug with no known predators. They do not bite, but suck. They have been particularly destructive to fruit crops here in the Mid-Atlantic region and, according to the linked article, have continued to spread throughout the country.

That’s the way, too, of life sucking troubles: they can hide away, just waiting for the right day to get out and about reproducing their destructive kind and sucking out the joy of life. It takes vigilance to catch and dispatch them.

Jonquils   When we first bought this property, we found a country trash pile in a back corner. We spent years hauling it away, bit by bit. It was covered in leaves and brush and every layer we removed gave opportunity for the wind and rain to remove more of the covering, revealing old metal parts of who-knows-what, foil baking pans from TV dinners and lots of glass – mostly broken. I did find two lovely pieces of blue glass, one a Noxzema jar (my Mom’s favorite) and the other, this 4 inch tall Bromo-Seltzer  bottle (always in Dad’s cupboard). The Jonquils were picked before the snow came. I love them in this blue, don’t you? These minis grow near the kitchen door where the sun warms the protected area and spring comes early.

Dawn   snow   deer   deer

The last snow of the season? Beautiful day with lots of bird visitors and and this brazen thief. Totally unimpressed with me. Her kind have totally stripped the hydrangeas of buds and the warm days that inspired growth of the daylilies provided unintended salad for them too.

What do you do on cold snowy or rainy days? I find them good soul nourishing days. Sometimes I make soups and bake bread and treats and get in a bit of stitching. craft  booksAnd, there are always stacks of reading materials at hand. The top three are in my own library, the rest borrowed from the county. Patsy Clairmont’s book of short stories – Stardust On My Pillow –  is a sweet favorite to re-read from time to time.

This time, I wanted to re-read “Chattanooga Choo Choo” Miss Pearl teaches Jamie about way-markers as she tells him to remember the signs his daddy left him when he died… “the signs your daddy left you will guide you into manhood”, for “A way-marker is like a signpost telling you which way to go.”  Way-markers. “Never let a good dead go unattended.” was one that inspired Jamie to take action. We might know it under different expressions: Saying thank you, writing a thank you note, taking a hostess gift, sending a teacher’s gift… So many things can be way-markers. Things remembered by the winds of the Spirit that remind us of the best way, not only to deal with the affairs of life, but to find the perfect way to our eternal home.

                         Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,  for in You I do trust;                                           Cause me to know the way in which I should walk. for I lift up my soul to You.

from Psalm 143

20170321_132941  This last photo was taken yesterday when the whispering breeze through the tree tops could barely be heard over the honking geese, screaming gulls , occasional car traffic. Each day is different in life. I must learn to listen.

Happy Spring!

hellebores

Love token

IMG_8722

IMG_8711 As a child, I was an avid reader, tagging along with an older sibling whenever they needed to go to the library. Later finding my own way, and still later, delighted that a new library was built only two blocks from my home.

Jonica’s Island was the first love story I read – and reread. It is historical fiction set in Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) in the mid 1600s.  It is sweetly illustrated with line drawings. This particular book was withdrawn from a school library and ended up at a new-to-me sale at a local hospital, quite a few years ago.  It was a wonderful find! I read it then, of course. And put it on a shelf with a few other books that remind me of childhood.

Sorting through the shelves the other week, I took it down and ruffled through the pages. Stopping at the illustrations, I realized for the first time, how much the drawings of Jonica reminded me of the sweet face of my loved and long gone, baby doll! All grown up, of course.

That old plant holder, I found in my Mother-in-law’s basement storage years ago. I cleaned it up and tucked in these flowers. In the last illustration I realized how much it must have reminded me of Jonica’s beloved Gerrit, in his broad brimmed hat.

And as any good love story and fairy tale, should end, the young man gives the girl a love token and one will assume they lived happily ever after!

Collages3

There is a welcome glossary of Dutch terms and food descriptions. Customs, and the daily lives of these Dutch pioneers is well presented and the book is well written, drawing me into the story once again. A very satisfying read!

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!

Winter – is it over yet?

No, but the page for January has been torn from the calendar. It was a slow month, a healing month with lots of resting under cozy quilts – with days when I felt like a hibernating bear. winter quilt  The good news is that the big boot has now been retired to the closet. Another month of caution and care has been prescribed, but healing is well under way in my bones and I am grateful.

The month began with robins celebrating the New Year here. The large holly tree we watch is at the front of the house and the bird bath at the back. There was constant activity and socializing for several days until the trees were stripped of every berry. Something we note every year – they eat the berries they pick fresh from the tree and ignore any that have fallen.

robins

I tend to wake early most days and love to open the shade and watch as night fades away. Some days there is drama, others just a gradual lightening of gray, but always there is beauty as the new day of promise dawns.dawning

My small world has been enlivened with candle light candle light and more bird watching.   Days I hear the Carolina Wren even before sunrise, his cheery wake-up call is very welcome. We have many woodpeckers: the Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Flicker will all come to the suet feeder outside our kitchen door.

This is a Northern Flicker.Flicker Several days I watched one or two poking about in the lawn/field for the longest time. They did seem to be successful in their hunting.

My month of self care has been full of reading, stitching, tea and coffee drinking, letter writing and musings. I found my word for the year – Trust – and started a notebook for verses, quotes and thoughts. notebookI also received a wonderful gift for this time when I discovered a month long online writing course from the very gracious and encouraging Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Each day was informative and thought provoking. The material she provided will be teaching me for quite some time – helping me to discover myself as a writer.

I’m watching my indoor garden plants come into bloom. I so appreciate the life and color they add to my life.

 Christmas cactus

I hope your January offered fulfillment and joy. May you be blessed in the coming month.

October Days

tree

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Just a few more things as we leave this October…

tree   This tree. I can see it across the field, leaves all a-quiver even on the calmest days. Like a Quaking Aspen. Golden leaves in autumn, like an Aspen. I used to think that was its identity and I waited for it to grow into the white bark. But it didn’t. And actually, when I really looked at them, the leaves are all wrong for a Quaking Aspen – too rough around the edges. It is possibly a Bigtooth Aspen or maybe even an Eastern Cottonwood. But, no doubt , it belongs to the genus Populus with its quivering leaves.  As tall as it has grown, It is impossible to see the catkins in spring, so I may never really know. But then, I don’t need to know its formal name. I can just enjoy this happy tree, so sensitive to the slightest breeze.

mushroom   This is actually not an October find, but I just need to share it!  We went to the park down by the river and I spotted this as we pulled into the parking space. As large as a good sized cauliflower and nestled as the base of an oak tree. Cauliflower mushroom is its actual name and they are edible. Best harvested when white, cleaned thoroughly and cooked. Maybe next year! My research says that they tend to colonize in the same area year after year. Oh, and they are related to the Hen of the Woods mushrooms that you can find in your grocery store. wood ear

Loch RavenI hadn’t driven through the reservoir in a while. But on a particularly lovely day, I stopped. I have several observation points along the portion that allows parking. When I first stopped, I spotted a goose who appeared to be the watchman. He stood in one place for the longest time while the other birds foraged. A car pulled up and that drew all the ducks to the curb, looking for a bit of bread to go with the bugs, I suppose, They were disappointed and had quite a lot to say about it. I moved on down the drive to a more quiet stretch, to have a bit of forest quiet and my own lunch.

Carolina wren   Our house wrens fly south come fall, but then the chubby little  Carolina wren makes itself known. They sing loudly! And they mimic other birds’ songs and calls. They are almost always busy flitting about under the shrubbery and shy away from having their picture taken. I was happy to catch this one!

Last Friday, my hubby came home from an early morning meeting and couldn’t wait to show me photos he had taken before the dawn. A sliver of moon and Jupiter! Beautiful. We made plans to go back to that site and watch for the sunrise on Saturday. With coffee and a breakfast nibble, we waited. Of course, the sky is never the same two days in a row. The moon was slimmer and paler and Jupiter was moving farther in its course, but it was a lovely adventure all the same.

                 sunrise  sunrise   20161029_072431

Everyday things really are amazing in variety and complexity.

maple tree