Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Pinks

I'm sure the sight was unusual, but our neighbors have probably come to know that I occasionally do strange and silly things.  We have three compact clumps of Dianthus on the east side of our home.  I love the spicy smell of their tiny carnation flowers.  In order to get a good whiff of them, I crouched down, with rear upturned and stuck my nose down into the blooms.  As goofy as I surely looked, the experience was worth the embarrassment, for the small blossoms emitted a magnificent scent that transported me back to my childhood.  We had Dianthus in our backyard when I was growing up and Mom always picked bouquets for our house.  We didn't call them Dianthus, however.  We called them Pinks (others call them Cottage Pinks).  Perhaps they were called Pinks because the little flowers have frilled edges that look as if pinking shears shaped them. Or maybe it's because they're frequently pink in color (although they can vary from white to red to purple).  I read that the color pink reportedly got its name from these perennials.  All that matters to me is that the smell of Dianthus (or Pinks or Cottage Pinks) is so beautiful that I'll risk embarrassment again, just to have the chance to take in their wonderful scent!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Capable Hands

I recall as a young girl hearing my grandmother say that she was unhappy with the signs of age showing in her hands.  As I looked at my own hands recently, I could see signs of aging, too, and I wondered just where my young hands had gone.  My mom always said that she had capable hands, hands that were strong, with square-tipped fingers.  Alas, my hands are smaller, weaker and quite often, truthfully, look like monkey's hands to me.  Despite her protestations, I always told Mom that her hands had an elegance to them.  She carefully tended to her nails and she always had a ring on the ring fingers of both of her hands.  I, on the other hand (no pun intended...really), keep short-clipped nails for all of the typing I do and I gave up on polish a long time ago when it dawned on me that I was covering growing nails with paint of sorts.  I wear only my ring from Larry, a delicate ring of emeralds (my birthstone) and diamonds.  But, it's not what my hands look like, it's what I do with them.  Do I use my hands to figuratively raise up another person? Hold the hand of one who needs compassion?  Use them to do a good day's labor?  Now, that's something important for me to ponder.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Daily Constitutional

One recent evening, I was tuckered out after a long work week.  I even took a nap after I got home, which I otherwise never do.  I was disappointed with my fatigue because the day had been beautiful and would lead to an ideal evening for my daily walk.  After dinner with friends, lots of great conversation and laughter, and a scenic drive, we arrived home only for me to realize that I had regained some of the energy I'd somehow lost in the week and decided that I had to walk.  And what a glorious walk it was!  We live in a very pleasant neighborhood.  My walk took me past lovely homes of all sizes and colors, some new and others older and stately, with big yards and small yards, some with lots of mature trees and others working at growing small trees, with gardens in waiting or perennial flowers in bloom.  The air hung with that sweet spring scent.  The sun was slowly going down.  I was so glad that I had responded to my internal "Gotta Walk" nudge, for it was the perfect way to end my week.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

My dad was a World War II veteran.  He served in the U.S. Army.  He came home with a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal and a European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with one Silver Battle Star, among other medals. He rarely talked about his war experience, choosing instead to keep those memories hidden deep inside him.  Among his belongings when he died were items from his military service, including his Honorable Discharge paper, which reported that he had served in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.  He had been inducted into service for our country on March 16, 1942 and was honorably discharged on October 13, 1945.  His Honorable Discharge citation said, "This certificate is awarded as a testimonial of Honest and Faithful Service to this country."  And indeed he did give faithful service.  One not prone to argument, let alone battle, war must have been a very difficult thing for my dad.  He saw atrocities and battles that he couldn't talk about afterward. Yet, he served with honor and came home a stronger man. We owe much to all of the men and women who have made supreme sacrifices in service to our country.  May they always be remembered with respect for all they have done for us.  With special love and memories of you, Dad.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time To Be Revisited

Once in a while, I have to be reminded why I am writing this blog, Time to Be.  Recently, I began freelance writing once again and have added some voice-over recording work of commercials, etc. (See my new website for more info and a link to this blog). I love the creative challenge, but found that I was a bit overloaded for a week or two as I took on a couple of larger projects.  I quickly realized that what was missing from my life was Time to Be, that precious time for dreaming, resting, not having anything in particular that you have to do this very minute, time to read and maybe fall into a nap, time to spontaneously do something fun.  I learned some valuable lessons during those harried weeks -- It's great to have busyness and purpose and to use, as my friend Rhonda says, anywhere from 10% to 50% of your time pursuing something creative, but I also need the balance of that beautiful, necessary Time to Be.  It is a gift we can and should give ourselves.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


There is a special place in our area where the Great Blue Herons nest each year.  Mom and her good friend Lou introduced the area to Larry and me.  Each year for several years, we'd head there to enjoy the raucous carryings-on of the baby herons "requesting" food from their parents.  The adult herons fly in and out of the area, landing with grace on their big nests high up in the pine trees.  As the babies mature, their squawking gets louder and louder.  Earlier this month, after having dinner with our friends Ron and Laurie, the four of us ended our evening together at the rookery, quietly watching and listening to the Great Blue Heron families.  Then, yesterday, my friend Melanie and I visited the rookery to take in the sights and sounds.  I went back again today so that Larry and I could pay a visit.  The bird conversation grows in intensity and volume with each visit, the sounds almost prehistoric in nature.  Every time I'm there, I feel so very close to my mom.  She and I spent many happy hours taking in the Great Blue Heron performances.  We even spent a portion of one of our last Mother's Days together at that rookery.  Adults give birth to infants who eventually muster up the courage to use their wings and take flight.  Like birds, so it is with humans.  Spring is a vivid reminder of the wondrous circle of life and the magnificence of nature with which we are all so closely connected.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Making Scents

It's that glorious time of the year when the air is heady with spring scents.  Freshly mown grass, lilies of the valley, iris, pine needles.  I have experienced them all so far this spring and I just can't seem to get enough of them.  I believe the sense of smell carries our memories with it.  Freshly mown grass makes me think of our big yard when I was growing up.  Even with a tractor-style lawn mower, it took as 1 1/2 days to mow the entire thing.  As a kid, that was a drag, but when I look back on it, I realize how it was a neat "together" sort of time for my parents and me.  When the job was done, we'd treat ourselves to root beer floats from A&W where car-hops waited on us. Or we'd enjoy one of the zillions of flavors of shakes from Tastee Freez.  I liked trying a different flavor of shake every time. Lilies of the valley remind me of the large number of them that grew along the shaded, north side of our house when I was a girl.  Mom and I had May birthdays -- just four days apart -- and it always seemed that the fragrant lilies of the valley were in bloom for our special days.  I love bearded iris.  They dotted our big backyard when I was a child and then when I owned a house of my own (pre-condo days), I even had unusual, rich brown varieties of them.  The scent of pine needles always makes me think of the lectures my dad used to give each summer at Camp Upham Woods in Wisconsin Dells.  This 4-H camp is tucked into the woods.  It always had the delightfully commingled smells of camp fires and pine needles.  Memories are a wonderful thing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oh, Mama

Today would have been my mom's 86th birthday.  She's been gone for 8 months and I miss her so much that it hurts.  But today, I let go of the longing and, instead, celebrate the wonderful mother I had.  I also celebrate the joy that I felt recently while watching a mom with her young son and daughter.  My mom and I always had a special, very, very close relationship that included mother-daughter love mixed with best-friend understanding.  I saw the same kind of respectful relationship between a mother and her children recently while shopping at my favorite thrift store.  Instead of the usual whining and reprimanding that one has come to hear so often in retail settings, this mom and her elementary school-age son and daughter were warm, patient, respectful and loving with each other.  There was no begging to buy something.  Instead, the son and daughter were helping their mom shop for clothes, frequently announcing their finds with, "Oh, Mama -- Look at this!  This would look nice on you!"  I smiled and thought of the many times that Mom and I shopped together at that same thrift store, encouraging each other with our purchases and creating memories that will last this daughter's lifetime.  Happy Birthday, Mom.  You are forever in my heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lightly Dressed

Is there anything as lovely as a summer salad lightly tossed with an oil and vinegar dressing or the opportunity to be lightly dressed yourself?  Summer is made for lightness.  There's more daylight. Summer's bounty encourages eating a healthy diet that is free of heavy sauces.  The hot weather promotes wearing fewer layers of clothes, brighter colors, whiter whites.  I had a conversation with a friend recently about our mutual distaste for wearing pantyhose in the summer, yet our jobs require it.  As we said, who wants to encapsulate your legs in nylons when summertime is nudging you to free your toes and skin from winter's bondage?  So, as we approach Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, I say, three cheers for the lightness that summer brings, the early morning sunrises and late evening sunsets, the salad greens that beg you to enjoy them just as they are, and the shedding of sweaters and socks for sandals and shorts.  Let there be (summer's) light!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Waxing Nostalgic

I recently read a great book by Faith Baldwin, called Face Toward the Spring.  My friend Karen loaned it to me and it seemed to have come into my life just when I needed it.  One of the chapters has to do with time and how we perceive it.  As a child, I naturally lived in the present.  Time had a different meaning then and that continued to be true even as a young adult.  Now that I'm in my mid-50s, I live in this strange world of yesterday, today and tomorrow, seeing all equally.  Faith Baldwin cautions that it isn't healthy to live in the past, and I would have to agree, even though it's easy to confine yourself there.  I tend to filter those yesterdays and see only the best in them, so they're not as they really were anyway. There is truly so much beauty, wonder and adventure in today and so many hopes and promises for tomorrow that we can't just get lost in times past. Faith Baldwin also calls her readers to not be afraid of the future.  Truly, I believe it's healthiest to appreciate the past and trust that there will be good in the future, but to live squarely in today, for the present is our own to enjoy, shape and live.  So, although I tend to wax nostalgic at times in this blog, especially as I remember the spirit of my parents, there's nothing like living today with a heart full of gratitude and an anticipation for the next adventure ahead.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome Watercress, Welcome Spring

For several weeks this spring, our local health food store had been selling watercress from nearby Leech Creek. The pungent taste of watercress means spring in Wisconsin. I read that this super-food is of the cabbage family and has such relatives as mustard and radish, both known for their peppery flavor. As a little girl, I recall our friend Charlie bringing us watercress every now and again after he'd been fishing. Watercress is an aquatic-type plant and it evidently grew where Charlie put in his fishing pole. In doing a little reading about watercress lately, I learned that it is among the earliest leafy vegetables to have been consumed by humans and it dates back to Greek and Roman times. Our current-day watercress from Leech Creek joined its cabbage cousin and became a slaw for us to dine on for several lunchtimes that week. With the purchase of the watercress, I celebrated the advent of another growing season. With much anticipation, soon we will be consuming increasing amounts of locally grown food.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Me Old? Really?!

Today is my 54th birthday.  I look at my hair and I see a little more salt than pepper.  I look at my neck and I see the beginning of that chicken skin that old ladies get.  Yet, in many ways, I feel younger. I try to do all of the right things:  I exercise, eat right, drink lots of water and get my share of sleep and rest.  I'm fortunate to have rewarding work where I'm challenged to keep learning.  And I enjoy the life I've been blessed to have with my wonderful husband and loving friends and family. I realize that with the passing years, I see time differently and I look at my todays with more awareness and gratitude.  I also have a deeper appreciation for my yesterdays and the people I have loved who have shaped my life for the better.  I continue to see tomorrow as an adventure (with only a bit of trepidation now and again).  So, as the candles keep piling onto my birthday cake, I see them as blessings, as lights to guide my life going forward.  I choose to view those candles as the number of laughs I should have in a day or the number of opportunities to give thanks or the number of ways to help another.  So, with this birthday, I celebrate the blessings of my good life.  Me old?  Really?!  There's still so much more to experience!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Art Imitating Life (or is it the other way around?)

What must it be like to see something in your mind's eye and then be able to bring it to fruition through art?  Recently, I witnessed the clever and complex, colorful and whimsical art of a man who creates brightly colored, elaborate glass and metal wall sculptures.  His work brings to life exaggerated scenes from his youth some 60 years ago.  Each scene features recurring characters whose fantasies and everyday lives intersect with hilarious consequences. The art, though funny, was a reflection of the realities and desires of everyday housewives and husbands (and even a dog or two), dreaming of being rich, famous, successful and beautiful/handsome.  Oscar Wilde wrote that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life."  In other words, through the lens of art, we are able to better understand our own lives, and the expression of the art may even influence our life perceptions.  Through the artist's work, I was able to see a bit of my own life, my own dreams and even reminisce about some of my own hilarious moments.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Row, Row Your Boat

The wind was kicking up and the air was raw, but Larry and I decided to take an evening walk at Devil's Lake State Park.  It was just an ordinary Friday evening. But as we parked the car, we saw red -- a sea of University of Wisconsin red, that is -- tents, vehicles, jackets.  Something was afoot, but what?  Then, we saw it -- team after team of UW men's rowers, moving about the South Shore and rowing in their long slender boats on the lake.  There were as many as seven teams, oars moving in synchronized fashion, out on the lake at one time. What an extraordinary sight!  I did a little online research after returning home and learned that we were getting a special sneak preview that evening.  Due to expected rain and heavy winds on Madison's Lake Mendota, which would make it unrowable, the following day's men’s rowing race had been moved to Devil's Lake State Park. The UW's Badgers would host two trophy races against Dartmouth, MIT and Boston University at Devil's Lake.  Go Big Red!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our Castle

They were once the homes of successful men who made their fortunes in the paper industry.  Huge mansions on spacious, well-groomed lots, each so magnificent that I could scarcely imagine what it would be like to live in them.  My friend Kitty and I had a one-day excursion recently to Neenah and Appleton, Wisconsin, where we toured art, history and science museums, two of which were housed in elegant old buildings and one in a contemporary facility.  Kitty and I enjoy museum excursions and we register for such trips as often as possible.  The stately old museums, especially those housed in mansions, hold a particular fascination.  Having never lived in such a palatial place, I can only imagine the dinner parties, holiday celebrations and family gatherings.  But, then, I think of my own happy home and, how to my husband and me, our condo is our own castle, and I'm content to step back out of my mansion fantasy into the reality of my life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Second Time A Charm

I wish I'd paid more attention in science class.  However, I was an arts-type of person (still am).  I worked hard in science and math classes, and I had wonderful teachers and college instructors whose passion for their subject matter and for teaching was always appreciated.  But, sadly, I retained what I learned only out of necessity and then I'd conveniently forget most of it after the test had been taken.  Fast forward 30+ years:  I felt as if I was re-learning everything I once knew about geology and constellations while on a bus excursion to a science museum and planetarium recently.  Despite my bent for the arts, I was surprised how fascinating and relevant all of that science was to me.  Perhaps it was the relaxing learning environment without the pressure of being tested on the material.  Perhaps it was a maturity that fostered a willingness to expand my horizons. Whatever the reason, rather than being hard on myself, I decided to simply be grateful that I had a second chance to let some science sink in.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Green Pastures

The scene was bucolic and pastoral, one well-kept farm after another, as our motorcoach whirred down the highway on the way home from a museum tour.  My face to the window, I saw bright red wood barns growing out of stone foundations, green fields and Holstein cows.  It all looked so slow and easy, so peaceful and pleasant.  For a few moments, I wished I was a farmer.  And then I remembered the lecture I'd heard a few evenings before by a young and hearty organic farmer who talked about the delicate balancing act between being a scientist, a meteorologist, a nutritionist, a business owner and a land steward.  I recalled her telling of the long hours, the back-breaking work, the worries over finances and the concerns about fickle weather.  How much I respect those whose labors provide the rest of us with healthy, wholesome food, free of pesticides and poisons, to nourish our bodies.  To them, I am thankful.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tread Lightly

Communication is a funny thing.  It should seem so straightforward.  But, sometimes, what you say isn't what's heard by the listener. Or what you write in an email comes across differently than it would if the one receiving the message could hear the inflection of your voice.  In this day and age, we are bombarded by communications around the clock and in many forms -- spoken, written, texted, broadcasted.  It's hard to know how to filter it all to discern what is vital and what isn't.  The other day, I was in a conversation with someone whose message felt kind of hurtful.  I'm sure it wasn't intended that way, knowing the communicator.  On another day, I know I was short with my husband and ended up apologizing for something I thought I'd said rashly.  These encounters reminded me yet again of how important it is to weigh our words, think through our intentions, and respectfully and tactfully enter into dialogue with another person.  Treading lightly with our words just may make the difference in the other person's day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

It is my first Mother's Day since my mom passed away and today, my mind goes to roses.  Mom didn't care for fancy, cultivated roses.  Rather, she loved the old-fashioned shrub roses that she and Dad had transplanted from his mother's yard into ours some 60 years ago.  Each summer, Mom snipped roses from the shrub, watching out for the tiny thorns as she did so, and placed them in delicate vases and pitchers throughout our home.  The light pink roses had a wonderfully spicy scent.  Mom also gathered petals from the roses and made her own potpourri.  I have a lovely color photo taken in the 1950s of my Dad with his arm around his mom, my grandma Josie, standing in front of the transplanted rose bush.  It was blooming and thriving against the verdant backdrop of the Baraboo Hills. According to a magazine article I read recently, the International Herb Association has named the rose its 2012 herb of the year, recognizing it for its medicinal, culinary and decorative properties.  On this Mother's Day, I celebrate the rose and, in particular, the rose bush of Grandma Josie's that brought my beautiful, wonderful mom such joy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring Song

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring told of the deleterious effects of pesticides on the environment and how, at some point, our world could be absent of birdsong, thus a silent spring.  On a recent evening walk in our neighborhood, there was a chorus of warbles, chirps, cheeps and chatter as the birds communicated gaily all around me. At one intersection, four robins greeted me. In our verdant little community, gratefully, there was no silent spring that evening.  Rachel Carson is credited by many as having started the environmental movement, transforming us from a state of complacency to a place of heightened awareness and alert as to just what we were doing to the planet and to ourselves.  Thankfully, people heeded her call.  While there is still much to do (and I believe that we're slowly poisoning ourselves, which will likely be the subject of another post someday), there has been much progress.  And on that delightful spring evening recently, there was nothing as wonderful as hearing spring song everywhere.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Horizons

I recently read a book by Faith Baldwin, Face Toward the Spring, in which she refers to the joy that a writer experiences when what she writes touches but one reader, when the writer and reader find a common belief or thought.  Over six months have passed by since I started writing this blog.  While I figured that the act of putting my thoughts down would be the benefit of this exercise, I have found that it is your comments to my posts, your suggestions for future post material, your sharing and reaching out, and your recommendations that are truly the gift.  The writing is creative catharsis for me, but the conversation with you is a blessing I hadn't imagined at the onset. As Faith Baldwin wrote, "The final reward is the reader...who shares with the writer...and perhaps, through a sentence...goes beyond the thought expressed, and so finds a new horizon."  Thank you for continuing to expand my horizons and for taking this journey with me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mellow Yellow

When we bought our condo, the seller was very well organized and generous and left for us labeled paint cans so we knew which paint went with which room.  We appreciated this efficient way for doing touch-ups, as needed.  Unlike the other paint, the creamy yellow-colored paint used for the entire lower level of our home was not in its original can.  Instead, it was housed in a juice bottle with a screw-top lid.  We had no information as to the paint manufacturer or the formula for that particular color.  It didn't matter at the time because it was labeled and we'd simply use it for touch-ups.  A decade had passed and we still had the juice bottle -- now holding thick, congealed, unusable paint.  So, I trotted to a local paint store recently to see if it was even remotely possible to get new paint that matched.  There, I learned about the true expertise needed for creating a matching paint.  The woman at the counter skillfully examined the paint in the juice bottle, dabbed a little on a sheet of paper, dried it and started the process of matching it.  To my untrained eye, her work was yielding amazing results, but she was still not content.  "It needs more red," she declared, although for the life of me, I couldn't see that more red was needed.  Thanks to her work, what has resulted is the closest match we could possibly hope for.  I think I'll call it Mellow Yellow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Green Routine

I puttered with some plants by our front entry one recent evening, preparing pots for annual plants and moving sedums that had overwhelmed certain spots but had avoided others.  It's still a tad too early in this climate to plant annual flowers because spring in Wisconsin can hold many surprises -- warm and sunny one day, threat of frost the next.  No matter the weather, no matter the calendar, I still needed to plant and get my hands dirty.  There is satisfaction in such quiet pursuits.  I should have been fixing our supper, but thankfully, Larry had encouraged me not to hurry when he saw me with trowel in hand.  The minutes stretched and we were both hungry when I finally came inside.  But getting to dip my kind-of-sort-of green thumb into the soil was worth every hunger pang.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peaks and Valleys

My friend Mary Jo is both a comic and a sage.  Even in her wittiest statements, there's a nugget of wisdom to be taken away.  Perhaps it's the teacher in her that lends itself to offering humbly so many teachable moments.  Such was the case a few months ago when she commented that life is full of peaks and valleys.  She said that she and her husband were currently on a peak, while my dying mom and I were in a valley.  Yet, she said that the circumstances could change abruptly and we could find the tables turned without a moment's notice.  While mine has been a gradual ascent back out of the valley, I found myself surprisingly on a peak recently. I felt energy and excitement of the likes I hadn't felt in a very long time.  The feeling was almost a stranger to me.  Yet, while I shouted for joy from my peak, I had encountered several people who were in various stages of their own valleys.  Such is life really.  It's all a balance, a pendulum swinging back and forth.  There will be happiness and sadness, exhilaration and disappointment, peaks and valleys in our lives.  And through it all, whether on the highest peak or in the depths of the lowest valley, there is opportunity to cling to the good, hang onto hope and love one another.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another Path

My friend Karen is a lovely lady, so poised, soft-spoken and articulate.  When she told me recently that she had stumbled upon my blog and learned that we (and my late mom) had a mutual love for the works of author Gladys Taber, I wasn't surprised.  Gladys Taber's writing seems to sum up Karen's gentle spirit and respect for the natural world.  Karen offered to loan me a particular book of Gladys Taber's, Another Path, published in 1963 after the death of her good friend Jill.  The book is Gladys' (I feel as if she is so familiar, like an old friend, that I can call her by her first name) personal and intimate journey through her grief.  In one part of the book, the author refers to Jill's death as her "storm."  Wise as always, Gladys allows herself to grieve but also works through her grief, letting go of the wishes about what could have been and mourning the life with Jill that was now left behind. Change is inevitable, she asserts, and we must accept it, while still acknowledging and appreciating those things unchanged -- love, a new day, the passing of the storm to sunshine once again.  My grief since my mom passed away has seemed like a storm at times or, at the very least, a dark night.  But, like each new day, light slowly makes its presence on the horizon and, like Gladys, I am beginning to see the light of all that is truly everlasting.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Joyful Noise

It's been over two years since I last sang, other than the hymns from the pew each Sunday.  But, today, I had the opportunity to make a joyful noise once again.  My friend Charlene selected a piece of music, "Make a Joyful Noise," for us to sing as an a cappella duet at church.  I love to sing with Charlene.  She has a happy, vibrant countenance and it shows in her music.  She is definitely the brains behind our a cappella endeavors.  I just need to show up with my voice.  A professional musician and choral director, Charlene has the knowledge and skill to select just the right music and she often makes recommendations as to how we can maximize each piece.  I bask in the experience of singing with her and learning all that she has to teach and share.  This musical experience was healing for me.  After two years of being consumed with personal illness and the illness and passing of my mom, it all pretty much but silenced the song that was in my heart.  But, today, I knew I was ready to make a joyful noise once again.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Crooked Paths

Mom had a friend who always said that God's paths are crooked.  Just when you think the path is obvious and straight ahead of you, when you become complacent and used to the path you're on, it suddenly becomes apparent that it wasn't so straight after all.  Nor perhaps should it be.  When I think about it, the curved line is more interesting to my eye than the linear one.  I have a friend who oversaw the design and construction of a building where many of the interior walls are curved.  The effects are quite calming and pleasing.  A spring garden of tulips and daffodils was planted at our church last fall.  It's definitely agreeable -- and visually more interesting -- to see how the bed meanders like a snake's path across the lawn.  While I am sometimes prone to linear thinking and putting one foot in front of the other down the so-called straight and narrow path, I'm comforted in knowing that my straight path doesn't necessarily match God's and that those crooked paths are really often where I belong.

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Person's Trash, Well, is Trash

Larry and I are avid recyclers, but one recent week, the pile to take to the curb was almost ridiculous.  Thanks to Larry's efforts to clean and organize his home office, we had a tall stack of collapsed cardboard boxes bundled with twine, a city recycling bin full to the brim and at least a dozen plastic recycling bags filled with papers and other items that at one time seemed to be necessities but were now easily discarded.  That same week, we gave old, but still usable, cans of paint and stain to Habitat for Humanity and we divested ourselves of three carloads of stuff that benefited the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store.  We shredded.  We vacuumed.  We purged.  We organized.  Afterward, I truly felt lighter, almost buoyant.  I was pleased with our accomplishments, but I still have some concern:  I hope we can continue with our "green" way of living by curbing our desire for future accumulation.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In Focus

In a world filled with distractions, it is such a welcome and rare treat these days to be focused on one thing.  How many times have I been at meetings where people are surreptitiously reading emails on their phones instead of listening to a speaker?  Or driving in the car while talking on the phone?  I've read that when we are fully present to a meal, we tend to chew more slowly, savoring the flavors and textures, and consequently eating less.  When I honor the moment, the person speaking, the meal in front of me, my senses become heightened.  I'm more alert.  I observe more.  So it was when Larry and I took a walk in our neighborhood one recent evening.  Quietly walking side by side allowed us to be fully present to each other and to our environment.  At one point along our route, Larry commented about the beauty of a male cardinal as it flew to a lilac bush, while I offered the observation a little later that the chickadees were certainly chattering.  Slowing down, honoring the moment, being present to another person, and savoring the blessing of Now are gifts I can give myself and, in turn, to others.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wild Bunch

I must admit that I was a little disappointed and felt even a tad guilty.  It seems that within hours after cutting lilacs from the bush outside of our kitchen window, they began to wilt.  I'd been lured by the song of their fragrance, wanting the pleasure of capturing a bit of it indoors.  I'd been moved by the nostalgia of having lilac bouquets all over our house when I was a girl.  But, I'd forgotten how ephemeral they are when snipped from the stem and brought inside.  Perhaps some things are meant to be enjoyed where they are, where they can flourish and be their true selves.  Having access to them is better than trying to own them. The lesson for me: To possess something is far less important than to simply appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Tah-dah!  This is my 200th blog post! And what better day to achieve such a milestone than on May 1, the first day of what I consider to be the most glorious of the 12 months!  'Tis May Day!  No, not the warning that ships give when in distress.  I mean the day when May baskets are given and when those of us in northern climes say "Hurray for Spring!" and wish we could find a maypole anywhere to dance around!  How many of us remember giving and receiving May baskets?  The object was to move ever-so-quietly and swiftly and surprise the recipient by placing a little basket of flowers and treats by his or her door.  Such anonymous gifts always pleased this recipient.  Alas, I haven't given or received a May basket in eons.  That quaint idea has likely fallen out of fashion.   Wouldn't it be fun to resurrect the notion of giving May baskets again, just to bring a smile on the surprised recipient's face, just to bring sweet joy to someone's day?  So, as I personally celebrate the milestone of my 200th blog post today, I'll contemplate the loveliness of May and May basket memories.