Monday, November 30, 2009

Through the Valley

My cousin's husband died just before Thanksgiving. He was 94, she is 89. What an amazing life they have had together! When I talked to her this morning, I was reminded again of what the Psalmist helps us affirm: "When I walk through the valley of death, you are with me." I have learned that the optimum word here is "through". We walk "through" the valley -- we do not stop and set up housekeeping.

Depending on the situation, some of us need to take a longer walk or stay a bit longer than others. That's ok. It is not a contest to see who can stay longer or get out first. It is the natural process of grief that we keep moving ~ and most of us do whatever our situation.

At 89 my dear cousin tells me that when this week is over and memorial service done, she must get back to her exercise class because her legs are getting too stiff from sitting so much recently. She is moving through even on sore, stiff legs. Blessings to all who keep moving at whatever is your journey's pace ~

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of the church year. Advent: ad - to, venio - come. What is coming? A time of waiting, wondering, anticipating. This afternoon (glorious, beautiful, clear and cold) we walked into the woods, cut a tree that was hidden in the woods where it could not grow much taller, and brought it home. It stands in its corner, branches still bare of decoration except its own natural green. It is lovely. And it too waits. Waiting for my time, when I am ready to decorate and bring it to life in another way. Waiting for glitter and light, tinsel and ornaments, each with their own story. I wait too - for a time that comes from deep inside when my soul says, "Now." When I am ready.

New life is coming and we must each prepare and be ready in order to welcome it when it comes.

~ with blessings

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks the Morning After

What an amazing day!

~ late Wednesday night, still in the kitchen, I started to wonder why we do all this and before that thought could even clear my brain, I realized: a tradition of giving thanks, going all the way back to 1621. All over this country women and some men had spent Wednesday in the kitchen. The line of amazing women in whose tradition I stand cooked and gathered family around them, and my daughters and I continue to do the same.

~ Thanksgiving Day itself saw Michelle and me in the kitchen at 5:15 AM, putting a Huge turkey in the oven. Back to sleep for a little while and then Son offered to run to the deli for donuts even as the aroma of turkey began to fill the house.

~ Friends from next door arrived bringing their contribution to the feast.

~ We ate at 1 - took a nice gentle hike - home for pie (three different kinds!) - and then games: 42, Texas Hold 'Em, and then a rousing game of Mafia in which all ages participated, laughed, clapped and were delighted in being together.

~ it was an international Thanksgiving with our newest family member from China for whom Marc prepared a lovely spicy fish. We enjoyed sharing the traditions and reasons why we were gathered and eating so much. :)

~ We are a blessed family. Grandchildren play together in joy. Neighbors enjoy being with us. Everyone pitches in to help ~ and answers Mama Susan's "I need help" quickly and without grumbling too much. :)

~ On Facebook a friend mentioned she had to work. She's a nurse. For all of you who were there for others, bless you. To all of us: blessings, gratitude and a deep understanding of why we do this every year ~

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family, Fun and Miracles

I do love the way the Universe often gives us what we need instead of what we expect.

Saturday night Son called to say there had been a change of plans and they were arriving on Sunday night instead of Monday or Tuesday. OK. Doing the final prep for company, even family, is not my favorite way to spend my Sunday and I was glad they were coming.

I called the woman who cleans for me occasionally to tell her there would be a houseful on Monday and she said, "you want me to come today?" :D

Dean and I drove to the grocery ~ and saw the most Beautiful rainbow. :D

I had time to sit with candles lit and enjoy our lovely home and meditate in the few minutes before family arrived. :D

There were 11 at dinner so I assigned myself to the second table with 4 grandkids. The 12 year old opened the conversation by asking who are our heroes. Then he told me he thought a book we had given him several years ago was "really cool" and that everyone should have their own copy. :D The 7-year-old took his 4-year-old sister away to discuss heroes so she would understand how to answer the question. :D

What a delightful evening! The family who lives close still has school this week and will be back Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile we are getting to know our newest family member, Son's Chinese fiance'. The sun is shining. There are board games to be played, books to be read, and miracles galore swirling through the house. ~ blessings

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunshine, Blue Skies and Bear Tracks

~ and Tessie barked at the maker of those tracks much too early on a Saturday morning. Still it was nice to wake to the other two. Lovely cold day. Not much snow out there - and enough that Dean will go to the cross country center and enjoy their first grooming of the season. I will probably just walk around the back yard. I think I can just wear boots and not have to dig out the snow shoes which are still in storage. The sun may take most of it away before I finish my tea and sitting by my morning fire.

I found this quote this morning and want to share it though it has nothing to do with the above: "The great secret of a successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters." ~ Harold Nicolson

~ blessings

Friday, November 20, 2009

Winter's here

Huge wind storm this morning. Our lake turned into an ocean with high swells and waves cresting and breaking on the shore. Surfers appeared from no where dressed in their wet suits and rode those crests. Meanwhile beach sand was blowing across the road and waves crashing against a pier sent spray all the way to the road and our car windshield. Slowly the temperature began to drop. By the time we headed home from lunch, AccuWeather's prediction was coming true - precipitation at one o'clock. No rain though. It started as snow and has stayed. Many times I couldn't see across the road in front of the house.

Dean has built a fire. I made soup for supper. It is the kind of afternoon and evening to snuggle down, read, have hot chocolate and stay home for a while. By Monday the sun is supposed to be around longer than the clouds. Welcome, winter. ~ with blessings

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things Wear Out

Dean bought this house new in 1989 ~ 20 years ago. So, everything in the house is 20 years old, except the hot water heater that replaced the one that died last year. Four of us who live in these houses that were all built about the same time replaced our water heaters within six weeks of each other.

Now maybe I should warn the neighbors that they may need to buy a new refrigerator. :)

Research has been interesting. We are limited by dimensions and in some ways that has been good. Otherwise the options might have been too much. It was hard enough as it was. Still, the appliance has been purchased and will be delivered Monday (assuming the weather allows). Nice to have it before Thanksgiving company arrives. And then I won't have to think about it again for another 20 years! ~ with blessings

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dean!

~ first words I say this morning are "Happy Birthday."

Later I sit close on the window seat and say, "Happy Birthday" ~ and then I add, "I don't have anything for you." He smiles and says, "Oh, you have Lots for me." :D And I realize I do - and he does for me - and we give to each other every day. Many times every day. Happy Birthday.

We give because we are together. He prepares the wood for winter. I prepare the deck. We put it all back come summer. We both cook. I do laundry. He puts it away. We stop and hug in the kitchen. I have the books I love. He has the tools he loves. He skis for himself . . . and is the first to march through the deep snow to plow a lane for me to snowshoe. We are here for each other over and over again every day. Happy Birthday.

Now I will prepare breakfast and this morning, because it is his birthday, I will add grits to the plate. Later in the day we will lunch at a place of his choosing. Sometime he will check his email and find the e-card I sent him. It will make him happy. His grin is a gift to me ~ and it's not even my birthday. Mutual giving and sharing makes every day a happy birth day ~ with blessings

Monday, November 16, 2009

Preparing for Winter

Dean has split and stacked about 80% of the wood we will need for winter. He plans on spending his exercise time today and tomorrow finishing up the last 20% (these are his estimates). I have spent some time this morning clearing the deck of all but a couple of heavy umbrellas. We are lucky. We have wide overhanging eaves that allow the grill and a table and chairs to stay out of the snow and be available for winter cooking and extra additions to the house when holiday dinners grow beyond the dining table.

All of these preparations anticipate the change of seasons. The weather is still gorgeous late fall and the temperature is not rising too high during the day. Icy patches and some snow still lingered on the deck where sun had not reached. Clothes have been changed over ~ winter to the bedroom closet, summer back downstairs. We have started to layer our clothes because the mornings and evenings are cold and mid-day warms up. The cooking part of my brain is thinking Soup. This year I actually froze vegetables from the Farmers' Market for use in soups and I wonder if it is time to make that soup yet or should I wait just a little longer to make sure I have enough to last. Sun on the back of my neck as I sit here typing warms me while I make sure the doors and windows are closed against the Very Brisk breeze.

Changes are here - nothing definite yet - fall - back and forth - even earth reaches back to summer while urging us on to winter. She hasn't quite made up her mind ~ and if experience is any teacher, she will opt for winter while spring waits patiently underground. ~ with blessings

Friday, November 13, 2009

Truth in Advertising

I remember when I would be sick or have an infection and the doctor would prescribe a drug and I would take it. I got better. One of my daughters was often "one in 100,000" who had some kind of reaction - but nothing extreme. And none of us took a lot of meds. We were basically a healthy family.

Then came truth in advertising. As long as it was in print (one page of advertising, two more small print warnings in a magazine), they sort of slipped by my awareness. I wasn't taking anything that was being advertised anyway so it didn't matter.

Then came tv ads. Wow! First is the good ~ and the new med sounds like something I might want to explore if and when. And then comes the warnings: bad things that might happen if I took this particular pill. They don't say that one in 100,000 people Might have this symptom. They just say, this could happen to you and talk to your doctor about our wonderful cure for your problem. No thank you! I am grateful to be healthy and shy of meds anyway. Let's keep it that way if possible. And before I ever take anything again, I plan on reading All the small print. ~ with blessings for your good health and awareness

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Freedom to Read

On this day in 1973, school officials in Drake, North Dakota, burned copies of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaugherhouse-Five. The last sentence of the article where I found this bit of information reminded us that in the last several years, Harry Potter books have been burned by some churches. Somehow Hitler's burning books seems ancient and horrific history. These episodes seem chronologically very close.

I was raised reading. If I read something my parents wished I hadn't, we talked about it. I raised my daughters the same way. Reading is one of the characteristics of a free society. Today is also the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street which taught our children in exciting, new ways what a delight it was to learn. Interesting that these two anniversaries should fall on the same day. One trying to stamp out learning and freedom and the expansion of the mind. The other increasing learning, freedom and the expansion of the mind.

It is my (naive?) hope that we don't burn books any more - either literally or in some metaphorical way. We need to know. Then we need to talk about what we know. We need to agree and disagree and gnaw together the bone of knowledge so that every bit of learning is extracted from the marrow. Let's do that for and with our children and grandchildren and create a better world because of it ~ with blessings

Monday, November 9, 2009

40 Years of Sesame Street

Hard to believe Sesame Street is 40 years old. Except that the three year old who sat in my lap and watched the very first show is now 43 and the mother of three of my grand- children.

Back then Sesame Street had a profound impact on children's education. After a week of watching (in black and white), and listening to my 3 year old sing her alphabet and talk about numbers, I commented to my husband, "Kindergarten teachers need to watch out. Kids watching this show are going to show up already knowing what those teachers have been teaching all these years." I was right. Not only about my own child but about an entire generation (at least).

Sesame Street was cutting edge and we parents as well as our kids loved it. We sang all the songs, referenced the characters in our conversations as if they lived on our block, and continued the work/play with our kids long into the day after the show itself was over.

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street! You have helped our children and grandchildren grow and learn and know the world just a little bit better. ~ with blessings and fond memories

Friday, November 6, 2009

I love Christmas

Hmmmm - I will need to check this out. I have already posted one with this title. I wonder if it is exactly what I am about to post now? Well, let's see.

I love Christmas. All of it. The tinsel, shopping, parties; the worship, adoration and blessings: in other words Santa and Jesus. I love it All.

And not before Thanksgiving! And this year the ads, the decorations, the commercials seemed to appear even earlier - I saw the first "season" background to a product Before Halloween. *sigh*

As there is Nothing I can do about it, I will sing along and smile and make my plans for Thanksgiving ~ and the day after, play my Christmas carols for the first time. ~ blessings

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"New" Writer

Thanks to my step-son, I have "discovered" a new writer. Of course she won a Pulitzer Prize with her first book of short stories so I am not the first discoverer. Nor is she any longer "new" - just young.

Her name is Jhumpa Lahiri and I am reading her first book, "interpreter of maladies".

You learn much about the characters in the short amount of time she gives to each story. She has a way of plunging you into their lives, thoughts and experiences that have brought them to this moment in time. All is woven together in a smooth, colorful cloth of words and images that invites the reader to wrap it around for a few moments before moving on to the next story or back into the reader's life.

I recommend her highly even after only three stories. Son has read her latest book so between us we offer you the gift of her writing. Find, read and enjoy ~ blessings

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Saint

My Aunt Lalah. She taught me, gave me, the gift of hospitality. Didn't matter who you were, if you arrived at Aunt Lalah's door, you had a meal, a place to stay, a warm welcome. There was always room for one or three or 10 more at Aunt Lalah's table. I've been to dinners in her home when there were tables set in every room. We were a big family ~ and all of those might not have been related by blood or marriage.

When I was a little girl and we would visit, Aunt Lalah would have me to lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and apple sauce because a child could only take so many vegetables (the fare at her sister's house). She was the family my father took my (soon to be) step mother to meet even though she was my mother's sister.

If you were in her presence, you knew you were loved. Oh, you didn't get by with anything as a kid, and she always had a way of letting you know you were ok anyway. She was a saint of a family and of the family kitchen ~ and she loved us all and blessed us with her caring and loving presence. Thanks, Aunt Lalah. ~ with blessings