Thursday, June 30, 2011


When I'm walking or enjoying nature or taking note of small good things that come in my days, I often think about how rich we are with a richness that costs nothing. The other day in the stillness of early morning, I passed a bleached-blonde, slightly overweight older woman whose arms were folded across her heart as she gazed up at the morning sun shimmering through the trees. All was quiet except for bird music. Her face showed enraptured delight.

That's when I thought again about whether we live in poverty or in wealth or in between, in sickness or in health, hard times or good, we all share the important riches in life. Sunsets. an ocean breeze. thirst quenching water. shady trees. There is much to enjoy if you look around.

"...being grateful for small daily joys like the evening light, and the smell of roses, and the singing of birds ...:                                                                                                      ~ henry van dyke

photo: random house in a small Florida town, just down the street from the two houses at top of blog.

Monday, June 27, 2011

sticks and stones

Mowing the lawn Saturday I came upon this stick. Just perfect for whatever a little boy may need a stick for. I thought about our new grandson ... let's call him "Littlest One"... and contemplated how very quickly he'll grow and soon be finding all kinds of things to do with such a stick. It's instinctive. I know about boys!

We've had three big storms this past week, with all the bells and whistles of thunder, lightening, damaging winds, and hail. I've done quite a bit of picking up of limbs and branches, but came across no stick as perfect as this one.

"Littlest One" made his entry into this world in the middle of one of the storms at the end of the longest day of the year. We are thankful all went well, he is healthy, and mom and baby are doing great. He eats, sleeps and enjoys being held (after all, he was "held" for 9 months!)  Big sister, suddenly not so much a "little one" anymore, can't stop smiling. Such fun to observe her first glimpse of him, and the light in her eyes and the huge smile on her face. She had a birthday balloon for him.

For me, it was an extra bonus that they delivered where I work and were well cared for by my colleagues. Little One enjoyed a visit to the nursery and didn't miss a thing--shots, band aids, belly buttons, etc. We had some special days together before Baby Bro. arrived home!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Hands

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE HANDS. When I lived in Africa, there were times when I forgot my skin was white. I was so surrounded by Africans in my daily life that I would forget ... until I saw my hands, such as when I paid for food in the market. It would startle me just a bit.

So now along came the privilege to stand up with my niece at her marriage to wonderful Andres. Could I do it graciously and gracefully? For starters, as I started down the aisle feeling quite casual and confident on the arm of a young father of two, I caught my heel on the white runner. I recovered okay and probably no one but the wedding director and a few back row folks noticed. Secondly, I found it hard at my age to stand still for 35 minutes. I swayed and actually caught myself from falling over during the prayer, where upon I decided to unbow my head and keep my eyes open to maintain balance. But for the most part, I totally forgot I was the age of the rest of the wedding party's mothers ... and it all felt quite normal.

Until, that is, I saw my hands. Age spots, veins, wrinkles ... and remembered with a start that I was not all that young anymore. But I learned later that the Gardener asked around for the name of the lovely, mature bridesmatron, wanting to ask her out on a date. (What a guy!)

It all was great fun. And many wonderful memories were packaged up during all the festivities that went on during the wedding week.

Bonniface wrote me: "Glad you didn't fall over! My nephew did, as a teen, in my brother's wedding. The heat outside and no food helped with that fall. The wedding stopped for a moment and then went on ..."

Reposted on the fourth anniversary of this wedding. Happy Anniversary J and A !
See Chari's blog for more Sunday reposts!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

rhondi's porch party

It's been lots of fun to get to know Rhondi, first through blogging and then to learn that we only live a couple of miles apart. And now we are even in the same book club! I still remember her first "porch party"--or at least the first one that I took part in.

I have enjoyed fixing up our back porch, now four summers old, with odds and ends found here and there. Some from GW, Salvation Army, an old lake house, friends' cast-offs ,Craig's List and the old green bench which has been in the family for over 60 years and of course painted many times over!

Even in the intense heat of the south, we can enjoy the porch in the mornings and the evenings. And when we share a meal with friends, they always seem to linger longer than when we eat inside. There is such romance in a warm summer evening! 

 My very most favorite chair, given to me by a friend who was
getting rid of it.  It's made an appearance on my blog more than a few times.

 My latest creation is a skirt for a new Good Will lampshade. 
The old lampshade got so dirty out on the porch, I decided to cut up a pillowcase 
(I'm sure I saw the idea on some blog) and that way I can remove it for washing.
 It needed a bow to jazz it up.
Last but not least, a table runner designed and quilted by my good friend Susannah
 who happened to already know Rhondi, a fellow-quilter!

Most of all I do not take lightly the gift of our porch. I have wanted one for years as
my childhood home had a wonderful screen back porch. 

I am grateful every day.

See Rhondi's Rose Colored Glasses for more wonderful porches!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

street stories

The other night we wandered uptown (what our center city is called) for a buskapaloova. 
It was a wonderful warm summer evening in the city. Admittedly I had to look up the 
definition for busking, but once I realized what it meant, I knew exactly what we were in for. 
How many times have the Gardener and I walked by buskers in big cities 
... and now to experience a plethora all at once in our fair city! 
Stories came from the evening we enjoyed with good friends.
1. We met a man from our church wearing a sling. I asked him why he wasn't busking. 
His response came quickly, "Like I could with my broken arm." 
I had only been kidding and thought he was too, 
until after some bantering I realized he wasn't joking. He actually comes uptown to
 busk as a magician by the Performing Arts Center several evenings a week. 
The kid shows are the most lucrative in tips. 
Who knew?

2. The Gardener with his long aching back always has his eye out for a bench whenever we walk. We were people-watching on such a bench when a very young mother and her about-4-year-old daughter came to sit on the bench across from us. She looked anxious and so young to be a mom. Little daughter's sandal was broken. How was she to get her home? I wondered how I could help her. Could there be something in my bag to help?  As I left her figuring out how to put it together I mostly was thrilled to see her anxious face relax a bit knowing someone understood and cared.
Yea for dental floss!!

3. As the sun went down we concentrated more time listening to the folk music. And noticed an older couple sitting in chairs. Definitely hippies straying from the 60s--his long gray hair; her peasant dress. These smart people carried their chairs from one performer to the next, sitting for a good spell before folding up, placing a tip in the hat, and moving to the next one. As they sat they held hands. 
The sweetness and tenderness of their relationship spilled out all around them.
 I wondered what their story is.
See Mary's Little Red House for more mosaics.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Two years ago I scooped up the family pictures I had taped to my father's care center room walls and arranged them on a bulletin board. I trimmed it in blue and presented it to him for Father's Day. Little did I know a month later he would not be with us, and that he was already gravely ill with the sickness that would spiral him to death.

But that day the light in my father's eyes let me know his appreciation. With his fading, husky voice he would tell me names of those pictured, even though I know he would rather not speak at all––he was just humoring me. What a gift to us that, even as Alzheimer's robbed him of his fully functioning mind, Daddy never stopped recognizing his loved ones.

The bulletin board now hangs inside a utility room door in my mom's apartment. Not a bad place, really, for when she opens the door (which is often) she sees all of us greeting her at once. A full display of smiles, ready for showing off.

I miss my dad today. I miss his handsome smile, his wit and humor, his godly wisdom, and his refinement and gentleman-ly-ness. I miss the way he cared for my mom and always looked out for her. I miss him coming into my house and saying, "There's my book." He always found his childhood book, Little Men, on our bookcase, and would pull it out and read a page or two. My dad was able to pick up a book, read from the middle somewhere and always enjoy it!

Today the men in our church became a great choir of voices as they sang three great hymns together. What a magnificent sound. I can't help but think of my dad today, in heaven with his father and brothers, and his Heavenly Father. Maybe they also had a Father's Day Choir.

First posted on Father's Day 2007. Connecting to Chari's Sunday Reposts.

Friday, June 17, 2011

they sang

I just took care of a newborn baby with five older sibblings, two of whom I had also cared for when they were born. It was great fun to see all the kids surrounding the crib for any little thing I did with the baby, watching my every move and asking many questions about their just-born sister. After a diaper change and a swaddle, I handed the baby to the oldest brother. Their father then said, "It's time to sing now." The chilren all sat on the couch surrounding their baby sister and began to quietly sing from memory an old hymn with a Swedish melody.  I asked the grandma, "I suppose this baby has heard this song before?" "Oh yes," came the reply, "last night they gathered around their mom's belly and sang it to the baby."

I looked around the room and I don't think I saw a dry eye. It's quite simply one of the sweetest moments I've ever experienced in my many years of being a newborn baby nurse.

"Chidren of the heavenly Father
Safely in his bosom gather
Nestling bird or star in heaven
Such a refuge e'er was given.

"God his own doth tend and nourish
In his holy courts they flourish
From all evil things he spares them
In his mighty arms he bears them."

(words by Carolina Sandell-Berg)

Thanks for all your fireplace comments and advice! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

to paint or not to paint

This fireplace has been on my mind the entire time we have lived in our house. Am I slow on decisions or what? But now is time to paint the room a lighter color (it is a dark room) and I am thinking about painting the fireplace too. I get a lot of different reactions when I suggest it, which puts me back "on hold" with my decision. But if it's to be painted, it will be done this summer. I went as far as to cover the brick with white paper and if you squint you get the idea.  First photo has the old, darker/pinkish brown toned paint, and the "white" fireplace shows the new beige/gray paint.

The Gardener at this point no longer cares one way or the other. Eldest son says the first brush of paint cannot be undone and the regrets could begin right there. Youngest son and wife say, "Do it; Do it; Do it. Paint." My mother says, "All that will be white?"  Sister says, "I'll miss the old brick." Realtor friend says, "Don't think about resale, make your house YOUR house."

I think the aged brass is a detractor. Squint that out of the picture too. What is your vote?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

two is finished

This weekend Not-So-"Little-One" transitioned from two to three. 
I like the way her fingers display her age.

See Mary's Little Red House for more mosaics.

Friday, June 10, 2011

birthday pink

When a little girl turns three, there just can't be enough pink!

Probably the most favorite present was the "princess" perched among the cupcakes, 
and coming in second place, the scissors and learning to cut.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

early morn

The freshness and beauty of early morn, 
when all is new and clean 
and bright.
Quiet prevails in all grace 
and power like a queen in 
majesty on her throne.

The rising sun bathes my face
while an oratorio of birds is
music to
my ears. I am 
mesmerized by water lapping
on the short, the 
vastness of the deep, blue sea.

Monday, June 06, 2011

a few brief moments

I'm by nature one who likes to get her work done and then sit down to relax (if that time ever comes.) Maybe that makes me "type A," but there is such a good feeling when the house is finally clean that I just want to get it all finished in one "fell swoop." Then I sit back and just enjoy the feeling of clean. Ah, such a simple thing that brings such joy! The question is, why is it only for a few brief moments that it feels so clean? How quickly it passes and little by little the dust bunnies return.

I'm also in a subtle way showing off a favorite GW purchase for 45 cents. I rarely find such a treasure there, like others seem to be able to do. Maybe I need to go more often! And maybe I need to learn to sit before it's clean! :-)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

capturing the castle

1. This mother of eight who loves to read has a favorite books list on her blog.

2. A young homeschooling mom of three read her list and started to read one of the books.

3. Yours Truly needed a book that "captured" her attention, noticed the book recommendation, found it in the library, started reading and couldn't put it down.

4. Friends noticed the book "nod" on the blog.  Boniface, an avid reader, and mother of four tall boys and a delightful daughter,  had of course read it.  And she had given a copy lovingly found at a used book store, to Barbarina on her last birthday.  Barbarina, having saved the reading of it for a time, immediately began to read the book. Lydia Grace heard about it, as did Robin, and both began to read. Robin's mom picked the book up at her house and read it in a couple of days. Another friend took loan of the book to read it.

5. Several got the movie out of the library to watch, but declared it a bit of a let-down after reading the book. (Isn't that always how it is?)

6. Sooooo ... we decided an impromptu book club meeting was in order and that's just what we did. Six of us met at a coffee house--not at all resembling a castle--but Barbarina gifted each of us with a mug with a beautiful castle adorning it. Each person brought interesting insights from reading this unusual book, and favorite quotes jumped from the pages of our notebooks.  

Amazing ripple effect of one person posting a favorite book list on her blog. We counted at least eight having read it, and most of us want to read it again!

I wrote this post three years ago today. And this morning we're doing another book club gathering, this time at another blogger's house! 
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