Tuesday, March 31, 2009


When you say good-bye to a far away place you have come to for the first time, you leave some of yourself.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

a pinch yourself moment

I had a hard time believing I was on a safari in Africa. Even if we had not seen any animals, we were "on a safari." I could not get over it the whole day long. My very most favorite part was the stillness after we turned off the vehicle's engine to watch the animal we had spotted.We would not say a word, or only whisper, as we snapped our photos, standing under the raised roof. What quiet, what grace, how amazing, what a wonder to watch, what a memory made. All understatements.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a warm afternoon ...

in the Kenyan highlands ... hot tea or cold fanta?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's in a Teapot?

What's in a teapot? Besides steaming hot tea, of course.  Someone anonymous in my daily tea quotes said it well, "Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company."

A teapot conjures up not just the warmth of the tea that will warm my hands by holding the cup, but the warmth in my heart by the friendships of those who share the tea with me. But then there are my favorite small teapots I use when I enjoy "decompressing" alone after a busy day. 

Photo: A recent teapot find at a resale shop. It's "hotel china." I love it! Could you not just picture yourself in a chaise lounge at a luxury hotel, linen napkin on your lap, pouring tea from such a pot as you read the morning paper?

Monday, March 23, 2009

on my way home...

...from a busy day. It appears a new roof is in order!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

after and later still

My sister and I play a little game at each other's house. Sometimes we make minor changes in the decor. Just to see if someone notices, or if we think it looks better. Maybe I do it more than Lulu, but her daughter does it the most. Of course, Jillian, having studied design, has the eye, and it rarely gets changed back. A plant needed a place to sit so I added it to the top of this cupboard in the living room. I thought what I had done looked pretty good. Then my niece, Jillian, her daughter, arrived for the weekend.
In time we noticed Jillian's changes. And definitely for the better. This girl can decorate! Oh that I had her touch...or knack...or whatever you call it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Grace of Strength

"Every trouble is an opportunity to win the grace of strength. Whatever else trouble is in the world for, it is here for this good purpose: to develop strength.... Fortunately, every day is crowded with care. Every day to everyone of us brings its questions, its worries, and its tasks; (every day) brings its sufficiency of trouble. Thus we get our daily spiritual exercise. Every day we are blessed with new opportunities for the development of strength of soul."
                                                George Hodges (born 1856)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pardon my stare ...

"Ma'am, may I put your bags in the cart for you?" The checker was graciously trying to move me along. I think I had my mouth open, staring at the woman next in line for the checker. I know not to stare, but I just could not help it. I don't think I realized how long I was lingering. She had on the brightest green fleece jacket you could imagine (I didn't know fleece came in that color.) With a green shirt, and big, gaudy green necklace. No, she did not have a green hat on. BUT, she was buying ONLY frozen green vegetables, and quite a quantity at that. I could hardly take it in, it was all so ... green. Happy St. Pat's Day.

a further look inside...

...my sister's corner cupboard, because you (you know who you are!) asked ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

future nurses?

The freshness and innocence of 12-year-old faces is a delight to look upon. I had such a privilege recently when I spoke to a group of girls about what it's like to be a nurse. They were doing a unit on first aid. They told me quite accurately how to care for poison ivy. 

While I could not remember what convinced me to become a nurse, I certainly know that as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be one.  By their age of 12, I was sure, and couldn't wait to become a candy striper at age 16. As a kid I devoured every N*ncy Drew book, but I also read all the Ch*rry Ames books as well, a sort of N*ncy Drew in a nurse's uniform. That and other books on nursing heroes all helped to cause a great interest in such a career. I found the one Ch*rry Ames book in our entire public library system and brought it along to show the girls. (I was amazed in starting to read it how, through the familiar characters, it felt like connecting with friends I had known years before!)

I never did get to be a candy striper, as we moved the summer I was all set to become one. Soon after, though, my parents told me it was time to get a part time job so I could save for college. I went down the street to a nursing home and that began a real eye-opening job that taught me much and convinced me that I was made of the stuff nursing required.

So I told these young girls all these things, as well as the good things (and not so good things) about a nursing career. I listened to their stories of broken arms, stitches on heads and knee gashes, births of baby cousins ... and on and on the evening went. Maybe one day some of them will become nurses and will remember this gray-haired lady who ready Ch*rry Ames books and was so enthusiastic about her career. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

big bow baby in a box

I'm so glad my DIL loves big bows on her baby! I think they look so cute. We have a bulletin board at work where we post family photos. This grand baby of mine has the reputation of being a "big bow baby." I update her picture there with yet another one showing off, not only her great cheeks and adorable looks, but a big bow as well. Here is the latest bow photo. She was nine months yesterday!

Photo credit: EBC

Thursday, March 12, 2009

around my world

A garage door closes on my mind, or so it seems, at the end of some days after working at the hospital.  By the time I arrive home my patients are a dim memory, my mind is so occupied with the next concern on my plate. But there are occasions when certain patients stick with me, and their memory remains clear. Those days are special. Most likely there is a reason for remembering. The diversity of people I care for is simply a gift from God, for I love variety.

Today was one such day. In fact, the array of patients I had was tied to the international side of my life and were interesting to contemplate. First I had a Chinese couple (well, I care for the babies primarily, but the family definitely comes into play). I felt a tie as I have friends who live in China, two uncles and an aunt who died there, and a wonderful, delightful Chinese niece. My next family was American, but lives in LaPaz, Bolivia. They came here to have the baby. I have visited LaPaz, know people there, and from that city traveled on the world's most dangerous road. These folks sure knew about it; in fact the brand new dad has ridden his motorbike on it more than once. So there was  a connection. My next patient was from Congo. When I was a girl, my mother's cousin lived, worked and raised his family in what we then called The Congo. It later became Zaire, and now again is called simply Congo. This was the fourth child in this family and the mama appreciated my understanding of African life. The final international family included a mother who is from Kenya. A look of wonder, joy, and some envy crossed her face when I told her I was going to travel to her country in two week's time. She gave me some advice for visiting there.

I had two "fully American" babies and families as well, but to tell the truth I can barely remember them, these other four stood out so strongly. These are the days I feel blessed to have my job at our large urban hospital. And am thankful for the rich cross cultural experiences I can have right here in our fair city.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Cup of Tea, Please

My sister, mother, and two great-nieces enjoyed an impromptu tea party together when we visited them all last week. The pictures tell it all! Peter Rabbit joined us. As you can see, we found just what he liked to eat, so he was glad he joined in our fun!

where I work

My little office is in a large walk-in closet that happens to be off our upstairs hall. I don't like the fact that there is no window, but my friend Susanna gave me an old window with a scene pasted behind it (it does end up being more of a bulletin board though!) And there are lots of shelves. It's a bit of a mess but it is wonderful to have my own little space and all of my "stuff" in one place.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fire Hazard

A magazine happened to be sitting on the breakfast table this morning and I picked it up (shame on me for doing this rather than interacting with the Gardener eye to eye) and leafed through it casually.  The Gardener leaned into my space a bit, "What is your favorite magazine to read? Do you like one more than the others?"
I really didn't want to talk right then. It was a bit too chatty for this hour of the morning. Suddenly it dawned on me. Last night at the grocery store I found F*ireproof at R*dbox and we watched it (a nod to this film--for sure it's no Star War caliber but well worth viewing; the story draws you in). The Gardener was just trying out some of the stuff the young man in the film used as he wooed his wife.

"This is all because of the movie!" I smiled at him. And said it again after he put his arm around me in church, opened the car door, and later came up to me, placed his hand on my shoulder and tenderly asked, "How are you doing?" Not that the Gardener isn't always (usually) sweet to me, but all this at once was pretty cool, and became a bit of a joke throughout the day. Maybe we should watch the movie regularly!

Photo: No magazine on this breakfast table. Just a poached egg that lost its way. Actually it's one of my BIL's flawless poached eggs. So slick and round, it slipped right off the plate.

Friday, March 06, 2009

a week off

Relief to my hands came during a week in Florida. Even though the air was chilly, there was still enough humidity to soften my rough hands, and heal the cracks on the corners of my thumbs. My hands had a week off, so to speak. Its obvious they are important to me, as I have written about them before. I find so much to do with them! But the cold winters, the frequent hand washing and "foaming" at the hospital, not to mention all the other work I do with them and their age, bring them a good deal of discomfort. So I'm constantly treating my dry hands, and looked forward to their healing during this past week visiting my sister in Florida. Yup, took only a day and they were well.

My mother used to say she didn't like to wear extra rings or bracelets as they would draw attention to her hands. Her hands are beautiful with age, I think, but they used to be really pretty. Mine weren't bad either, until recent years when age met up with them. Sigh.  Just following a bit behind my mother dear.

I love caring for people with my hands (and feeding our Little One), but by far the most favorite thing about my hands is the sparkling "bling" my boyfriend decorated my left hand with years ago when we had just moved up from teenagers to 20. Our feet were dangling off a cliff overlooking the Hudson River. I said yes and the ring fit perfectly. I was happy to show off my hands back then! But even better than that sparkler is the simple gold band, signifying our belonging to each other and a love that just grows stronger, having stood the test of time.  So much to be thankful about, even as age knocks on the door. (I can hear someone saying, "Can you throw a little more syrup on this post?")

Thursday, March 05, 2009

in progress

I am learning to make silhouettes and it's not as easy as I thought. Remember making silhouettes of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington as a child? The key is finding good profile photos, which is particularly difficult with a baby (I'm trying to make one of Little One). Here's a try at two family members ... a  craft in progress, you might say.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Hall Filled with Echoes

Life-changing experience ... is what I'd call living in another country. I love learning other customs, and these were especially colorful in West Africa where we lived for three years. It was customary, when visiting another home for a meal or just a greeting, for the host to walk you down the road as you left, sometimes half way to your own home. And the next day, if a meal was involved the evening before, it is a gracious custom to return to the host's home to thank them in person for the meal the evening before.

I think of this often when we visit my mother. It's a long hallway from her apartment door to the exit door from the building. And even though she does not walk us down the hall, she always comes out of her door to wave us off, every single time. I know she is watching as we walk down the hall to the door. At the junction we always turn, and there she is watching, ready with a smile and a wave.

Photo of the view from my mother's door to the junction where I turn and wave.  If I listen carefully I can hear the echoes of little nieces when they visit great-grandma, as they scream and giggle while running up and down this long hall, over and over, feeling very free, and never, never getting tired.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Little Book Collection

An hour "out and about" to some of the local charity shops (I know it's g*od will or s*lvation army, but I like to say "charity" like they do in England, it's somehow sweeter) with the Gardener the other day brought quite a find.  A shelf full of just-priced, like new but vintage, B*eatrice P*tter books! 

 Our boys, when they were young, collected quite a few, including the classic first, Peter Rabbit, gifted to Eldest by a family friend before his birth. But here I found several we were missing ... all far less than buying them new, even back then. And I discovered, 30 years after beginning the collection, that the little hard-bound volumes are numbered. duh. So that knowledge that I was missing all these years, now lets me know what I'm really missing in terms of collecting a full set.  I quickly phoned Lydia Grace who joins me in this quest for BP books.  Funny that she had just watched P*tter the evening before. At her request I turned the car around and went back to buy out the rest of them for her. What a find. I can't wait to start reading them to "Little One."
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