Category Archives: Things great and small

From the Garden

sticks  It has been the summer for yard exercise. When rain comes, it is heavy. Dead wood becomes sodden and gives up clinging to the trees. truck            So, I pick up and pray gratitude for the county brush recycling just a few miles away.

In between rains, I am working at conscious beauty rests.  Join me for spa treatments?

morning light     elephant ear     wild ginger     butterfly bush     rainbow     daylily rebloom     butterfly     cleome     butterfly

Early morning light, Elephant Ear leaf, Wild Ginger “cushion”, Butterfly Bush, Rainbow, Stella re-bloom, Butterfly feeding, Cleome, Nectar hunting! Click on photo for best view.

My friend, Marta, at Selah Reflections takes beautiful photographs as she lives her goal to find moments of stillness in the midst of the busyness of life. Whenever I forget, there she is with a post to remind me to stop and really be aware and rest in the beauty so generously supplied to me.

June Days

There is a freshness in the air today. Glowing greens and beautiful bloom where yesterday there were only buds.

Tradescantia

In the early mornings, This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:21-24 NKJV

Longings

Tim Willard in Longing for More, week 17, reflected on the mystery of beauty – it’s draw on our souls, the need to stop and see. I have found many writers who train my eyes, speak to my soul. My friend, Marta, challenges me the same way. Will I be still, will I allow myself to see, to rest in the seeing?

Twice in April, we were able to get away to the park. While the area we go to has a beach, it is the woodland that we enjoy. Each table really has a different view, almost a different plant environment.

park in AprilNot many people this Sunday, so the park is quiet with only occasional boat sounds from the river, bike tires whizzing by or the small birds that flit and do the original twitter. Bees buzz in blooms so small, I must bend low to look into the beauty. We are refreshed.

At the park week 2A week passes – we choose a different table. Fresh leaves shine green on some trees this clear day. On others, there are still buds of promise. Not so many wildflowers at this site. Here we have mosses and flowering trees and shrubs.  Mini suns – and a moon – explode from the ground nearby. dandylions

We picnic with hot soup and sandwiches then sit enjoying the last of our time here. I lean back to look up at the shining green against the clear blue. Sweet gum leaves like stars. Sweet GumThen looking beyond the canopy, I see them. Bald Eagles riding the currents, sky surfing!

bald eagle

This place is like a soul spa. A soaking, cleansing, refreshing place. A place displaying the beauty, mystery and wonder of Creator God.

Tim ended Week 17 with this prayer,  “Lord Jesus, I love how you unfold your truth in the mystery of your glory. Thank you for thinking of me enough to delight my sense with all that you are. ”             Amen!

 

 

 

International Tatting Day (updated)

Tatting: Lace made by hand with fine thread and a small shuttle. I believe this piece came from the hands of my Grandmother Anna. I remember as a very small child standing by the side of her rocking chair as thread became beauty. It was a magical thing and I have never forgotten her beautiful hands with their long slender fingers, her wide gold wedding band and the tatted lace.  I think this might be where my love of thread began.

Anna's things The earrings were hers, always worn. The silver, a piece of hers as well. Small tokens can bring memories to life.

Update:  link to a past post with a photo of Anna and beloved August

I found a tatting shuttle in an antique store. It has a bit of thread attached.tatting

Easter Reflection

Easter blooom

Easter came and a few members of the family were able to gather with us for dinner. We ate well and talked long. Stories were told, travel adventure photos shown and messages shared from a distance. One from a long distance in time.

Since my Mom moved house in 1998, I have housed an old comforter made by her mother, Amelia.  I really can’t say why I’ve kept the old thing; it served no purpose. I decided to salvage the cover fabric. After dinner, I shared how I started to de-construct the blanket and saw the fine stitching and workmanship that set this utilitarian bed cover apart. This was the careful work of a skilled needlewoman, truly showing the Art of Work that she employed. I needed to share this glimpse of our Grandmother.

de-construction

My sister rose from the table and returned with a tote bag. She carefully unfolded a packet of tissue paper and unrolled history. Amelia came to the table then —  young, the Amelia we could never know.

 Amelia   My sister and I talked of trousseau and my niece asked – what is that? A truly foreign word to this modern career woman. We examined the fine fabric, the tatted lace, the exquisitely hand stitched French seams and fine hem, the embroidery of this camisole… like a fragile page from a young woman’s diary… hours spent stitching in her hopes and dreams for the future. camisole

And again I felt the ache rising, the missed opportunities , the un-offered opportunities to sit, to learn from this master needlewoman,

                              hidden in plain sight,

                                                     disguised as my grumpy grandmother.

 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

These words from 1 Corinthians 13:12 do not mean window glass, but today, they seem to reflect how we move through this earth, seeing, but not knowing what we see, how none of us is really known by another. I’m changing the stories I make up about Amelia and pray that someday, I will see her face to face and know her as I never did. I’ll know what made her laugh, what touched her heart with delight, which dreams came true, her favorite music…

I know I will like her.

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.

February Quiet

January ended with deep snow and cold blowing in snow   the Snow Queen took up residence snow    and has been reluctant to leave, affecting this whole month. Barely had one storm been cleared when the next blew in. While this week brought heavy rains and flooding, there are still tall mounds of icy snow in some yards and many parking lots a month later.

squirrel  This guy was a frequent visitor harassing the birds and learning tricks to steal their food.  squirrel

Of course, he wasn’t the only animal out looking for a good meal. deer  Not that there is much left to browse, but still they come, now by the herd. deer

Usually February is the time to pour over seed and plant catalogs, dreaming of beautiful, lush flower beds, fragrant herbs and bountiful vegetables. No more.

The robins are delighted that neither deer nor squirrels have a taste for holly.  I spied them at the bird bath   robins   and realized they must be stripping the tree by the front deck, and they were.

Holly

For my indoor gardening efforts – a sunny window, occasional water – and the amaryllis are finally coming along. amaryllis  These bulbs are at least two years with me and get exactly the same care.  They seemed quite healthy when I potted them up so I find it very odd that one has no leaves, just the bloom stalk. It was very, very slow to even decide to put forth that effort. A mystery.

snowdrops

I’ll close now with the lovely, lovely snowdrops – pulsing with life, they pushed through frozen ground and soggy leaves this week. Like little bells ringing out good news – Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

I’m almost ready.

Cabin Cozy Time

The long quiet of Christmas spilled over into the New Year. While I normally find January rather invigorating, this year has been different – a long slow cozy. I had a long slow re-reading of last year’s discovery, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. One of the features of the country house is the conservatory. I have a small unintended collection of house plants, they could use such luxury!  What they get is some light from the dining room windows. Being real here.

2016-01-18

The pinky stem violet blooms magenta, the pale one, white. The Christmas cactus dropped all its bloom this year – I was using the dining room at night – too much light for bloom. The aloe was beautiful and now is suffering through winter. The amaryllis — who knows! And then there is the pot in the corner of ‘things’ that are ancient and love me in spite of my neglect.

IMG_7287

Yes, I’m a very accidental window gardener. The thing that drives me is Winter. Drab, long, usually cold, winter. So, when I was offered a bulb vase, I said yes. How difficult could it be to buy a bulb and sit it over some water?

At the garden center, I couldn’t decide on color or bulb from the few remaining offerings. Hyacinths are more popular than I knew. I was reluctant to invest in another vase, and surely I could create something useful… so I bought two. I did some research and set my expectations on a shelf in the garage and promptly forgot them. Out of sight… and the fact that in my research I missed some key instructions, something about changing the water…

In spite of my ignorance of their needs, the great desire locked in their heart was to grow ‘at the scent of water’, and so they did. When I saw some foliage, I moved them to my “window garden” which proved a happy place for them to bloom.

                   20160106_141950         20160106_142110

Whether bulb or container, I cannot know, but the growth in the bulb vase was much better than my jar creation.  The leaves remained short  and the blooms rather stem-less but these are minor defects. See for yourself!  IMG_7242

How I wish you could inhale the heady fragrance! Lush and full of the promise of spring, it became my favorite place to linger with tea.

20160113_124706They have about given their all for my happiness. I’ve fallen in love with them and I’m making plans for next winter:

  1. Obtain more vases.
  2. Shop early for pre-chilled bulbs.
  3. Make a plan – 3 weeks till the blooms appear.
  4. On schedule, Set the bulbs in the vases over lukewarm water and plan to change it out about twice a week.
  5. Put the vases in a cool, dark place (garage shelf for me) and monitor the water levels, root and foliage growth.
  6. When the roots are developed and the foliage is growing, move the vases to the “window garden”.
  7. Prepare the space with a cozy chair, pillow, throw and books.
  8. When the day comes for first fragrance, prepare tea* and settle in for deep breathing. Forget to open the books.
  • Personally, I found Chai to be a good companion.

IMG_7226

Yes, I added water to the top of the neck of the vase just after taking the photo.

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.

 

Adventuring

We didn’t go to the river park as much as we had hoped this fall. When the weather turned spring-like, we knew we must go right then. So we did! We stopped for sandwiches on the way for our lunch.

Our favorite table was out of the question with Mr. Wind raining leaves and acorns with great abandon. So we chose a lone table under a maple tree still holding on to a few leaves. After lunch and a bit of reading, the tree caught my interest. maple  I realized what a sheltering presence it is, hosting a sapling deeply rooted between the two trunks.  IMG_7028  Further up there were deep folds that might shelter a small bird in wind or rain or cold. Then even higher, a hole, probably made by a woodpecker which will surely be used by a squirrel or birds as a winter night bedroom. IMG_7031   Then, down at the ground, almost hidden by the leaves, I saw an entrance to a space… perhaps used by small creatures or perhaps by fairies…  IMG_7034   We lingered through the afternoon finally leaving to enjoy the setting sun coloring the tree tops on our drive home.

A Pondering: Did you ever hear songbirds at night in the fall? I learned that most song birds that migrate, do so at night. Amazing! Navigation by sun and stars to places the newly fledged birds have never seen – and they go without a guide or map. Amazing!