Tag Archives: Memories

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.

Love token

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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 This particular book was withdrawn from a school library and ended up at a new-to-me sale at a local hospital, quite a few years ago.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!

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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!

“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.

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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

 

 

 

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.

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.”

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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

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.

Memories of molasses and ginger

I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.

I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.

I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.

oak leaves

Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!

My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.

ginger cookie recipe

When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. Gingerbread houseWe were inspired by some at  King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.

It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.IMG_7048

October Sheltering

Our bluebird friends are visiting their old nest box again. Other birds are invisible to me as they chatter and investigate trees for holes and shrubs for cozy places for winter nights.

The squirrels are frantic, running here and there with acorns and black walnuts from across the street, burying them, then futilely patting leaves on top.

The deer are dressed for hunting season in deep, drab coats. They wander the yard aimlessly having eaten all the apples and pears they could reach or their squirrel friends tossed down to them.

Overhead the geese fly and chat about moving south or staying in place.

I imagine that you, dear reader, are adding cozy touches to your home and securing it against the winter to come. I’ve dressed the beds in layers of blankets and comforters, added afghans and quilts and pillows to couches and chairs and made a number of batches of applesauce – my wintry comfort food! This week I also pulled out my old potpourri crock pot to warm up the house with cozy scent.

2015-10-22 Spices, apple peels and core, water and time = delicious scent.

A scent I didn’t know I missed came to me the other evening as I opened the door – wood smoke. Someone had a fire going in their home. Now I miss the scent of burning leaves and wood from old fashioned barrels and pits and stoves as I venture out in the cool of the day. Our long ago neighbor cooked and heated her home with wood.  I remember there was always a curl of smoke from the chimney and the scent of hearth on the air.

One of my long term projects is finally finished and adding a cozy touch in the guest room and a smile to my face whenever I look in.  yo-yos   My years long project of scrappy yo-yos is finally sewn together! It was my birthday gift to myself to complete it. I remember when I was very young that we had a yo-yo coverlet.  The fun of it and the weaving in and out of little fingers stayed hidden in memory until I saw this style had a revival of sorts. Mine is only bed warmer or foot cozy size although my sister pointed out that I can always add to it!  560 little circles gathered and stitched together. yo-yos  I rather enjoy the repetitive hand sewing as a winter activity. The nostalgia of it drew me to the book shelf and my favorite childhood story book. story book   It is certainly the worse for wear having entertained quite a few children since I received it as a gift and lived for a while in a dark attic before coming back to me. I don’t have many things from my childhood so I am delighted to have this book. The illustrations are wonderful.

Take a peek.    story book   Yes, the naughty Gingerbread Boy. There are many classic stories in it but my all time favorite is a mysterious, creative and delicious adventure which is probably totally responsible for my need to always have butter on my pancakes. I loved this little family!   IMG_6869

 

 

 

August Rain

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I remember learning how important August rain is for the formation of fruit bud wood for the following year. So, if August is dry, I begin to pray for rain for our region. Yesterday, I was delighted to wake to rain.  We had intermittent showers throughout the entire day which at times were so intense as to prompt flash flood warnings. Last evening there were traffic reports of unusual and serious road flooding in the next county requiring rescue operations.  Blessing and danger. And a caramel colored sky at sunset.

My growing up home sat at the top of our hilly street. I loved to sit on the porch during summer storms and watch the lightening etch the western sky. Swathed in a beach towel against any blowing rain and cushioned on our old chaise lounge, I had a wonderful seat for nighttime sky drama.

2015-08-20More August photo exploration, mostly in my own backyard.

Mid-August Adventures Outside

Our phone/internet was down for four days. A gift of quieting the house. I did, however, have adventuring to do. One event even got a sidetrack to the neighborhood where I grew up.

Everything changes, of course. I’m always interested in the revitalization of the old communities of the city.  My parents moved the family to the home I remember about 1950. That street is about at the horizon point in this photo – 2 long blocks. Times beyond counting, I walked down this street, to school, to church, to shop, to catch the streetcar and then the bus. (New water lines and paving in process)

IMG_6407 The tall hedge ends the block in a funny point and a Catalpa tree grows there – it always has. No doubt age and weather have taken their toll but the tree, while severely pruned, still flourishes. Those are countless seed pods hanging down among the heart shaped leaves.

IMG_6404 We would cross the street and continue the walk   down 4 more long blocks before crossing the main street and then uphill one short block to my favorite place. IMG_6409 No, it doesn’t look like much today in its reconstruction, but then, it was a place of wonders. The Public Library. I read that this branch opened in 1920, a gift from Andrew Carnegie, and by 1950 was already too small for the community it served. But, for me, it opened doors to worlds. It was the place where I met so many new friends! The Five Chinese Brothers, Beany Malone, Cherry Ames and so many other characters and their communities of friends.

Oh what a joy when the new library was located just across the street from the Catalpa tree! Only two blocks away and an easy stop on the way home from most anywhere! Don’t let the ugly façade fool you, even more wonders were waiting inside!

In those long ago days, libraries were closed on Sundays and when nothing else was planned, and all the books were read, we could sometimes persuade Dad to take a Sunday afternoon drive. Frequently, it would be in the country side I now call home, but sometimes, it would be through Loch Raven, which you may recognize as one of my very special places.

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The Drive is closed to motorists on weekends these days and there are not many places to stop. One can no longer walk out on the overlook at the edge of the dam and feed the carp who live in the lake, but, it still is my weekday peaceful adventuring place. I am grateful for the blessing of long connection.

I’m ever mindful of the privilege of living in the country and being able to reflect back on nature’s changes on this piece of land we call home as well as being able to roam the back roads of this beautiful state.

These reflect the last few days of adventuring near and farther:

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