Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gift of Love

Today was a gift.  A girlfriend gave me a 'princess day'.   Debi is one of my 'beloveds' and treated me like royalty from the time I arrived at her house till it was time to go, 5 hours later.   Let me describe it:  

For my birthday about 3 weeks ago she gave me a pop up card inviting me to let her pamper me.   (I had the good sense to say yes, even though I always feel like a bull in a china shop or to put it more bluntly, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, highly aware of his 'lack' of finesse.....in every way. She's fastidious, a decorating genius, delicate, refined, cultured, pedigreed, and extremely classy; but like a massage, making love or anything healing, being able to absorb and receive the gift without being self conscious is the key to thoroughly enjoying the benefits and pleasure.  Letting it fill you up so you can pour and dribble love on others who in turn get to receive the benefits and pleasure.   Like a  pitcher under a running faucet with a spigot at the bottom.)

I walked into a dream~her garden tub was running,  along with my favorite scent of Bath and Body Works skin care products, lotion, bath gel, a luffa, some new footsies, a fresh razor, a hair clip, 3 thick cuddly towels, and that's not all folks......exquisite music playing, a sitting chair waiting and a huge tray laden with a hot carafe of coffee, a red mug, warm cream, gorgeous strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar in darling little dishes, a warm poppy seed muffin with soft butter, a thick napkin and beautiful shiny fork all displayed on a lovely piece of linen.  

I felt wiggly and giddy with it all. Even though I'm a 'messy' I love beautiful.   This huge window looks out into the woods where the wind was singing, the trees whistling and the sun played hide'n seek with the puffy clouds.  I munched, drank and read till I became aware that slowly my skin was shriveling into white soggy mush. 

Her bedroom is picture perfect restful, so I got dried, dressed casually, staying to finish my book and coffee in an Alice in Wonderland chair.  

She wouldn't let me clean up after myself and made us a light lunch where we visited and enjoyed each other for a while.  

Collect a few people in your life who know you and want to love you, then collect lots of people who need and want loved by you.....    The most amazing thing for me is that I have more than a few ~ I feel blessed by many loving friends.  I stand indebted and can't repay, but somehow it's all good.   On top of that, have I ever told you all how much I like my husband and daughters?   How good they are at loving?   :)       

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ready or Not....

Our house was full of people Saturday night.  It made me so happy and afterwards I felt stuffed with joy!  

I suffer from extreme introversion and shyness which makes me feel socially anxious in groups of people outside of the comfort, safety and security of our home.  Often when I walk into a group, I wish the earth would open up and swallow me, make me disappear!   It takes about 8 years for things to start feeling comfortable.......then, circumstances boot you out of that easy cozy nest to learn some more.     

As maturity happens, it is becoming an easier discipline to NOT act how I feel, and be curious about people,  want to ease their shyness or awkwardness, concentrate and focus on them instead of how uncomfortable I feel.  Otherwise my weakness would grow weaker as I deteriorated and I would become a totally self-centered person.  It would be so easy to give in!  

But in our home, if someone takes the trouble to come, it is a huge compliment and I feel so loved!  Then, if you'll eat with us, converse with us, let us love you - we have forged a bond of intimacy not easily forgotten.  Sharing a meal is sweet that way. 

I love to cook and feed people, yet haven't done it much for the last year.  Saturday night gave me courage to get back to doing what I really enjoy, having the house rumbling with happy people eating, laughing, loving, singing and playing.   

Every first Sunday of the month we are going to have a standing open invite for whoever wants to come for brunch at 1:00ish.  If we run out of something, the store is only a few blocks away.  

It will be fun to see what happens, who comes, if it will settle into a rhythm?  We're going to sit at table together and share our week, our lives and hopefully our hearts.  My heart is ready!  

Come and join us......   

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finishing Well

This morning Craig and went to watch a friend run a 1/2 marathon over on Whidbey Is.   The sun was shining but it was really cold.  We saw where the full marathoners were starting at Rosario Beach then found her before she took off from the school.  The walkers followed the runners.   

We went and had coffee and grabbed a little breakfast, then cheered on the runners at the first station, then just waited at the finish line, enjoying the leaders already coming in.  

It was so interesting, seeing all shapes, sizes, weights, builds, colors and nationalities from all over the place come together and do what to me, looks really difficult.  My knees hurt just thinking about it and my heart goes irregular imagining it!   Everyone had their own rhythm and gait.  Some shuffled in, some hobbled, some were crying in pain, a few crying in surprise and joy that they had crossed the finish line.   A few skipped and danced.  For some it was a private moment and others wanted an audience.  

There were married couples who would celebrate with a handclasp or kiss at the finish line, and friends who celebrated with a hug as they crossed over together.  Which was sweet because it seemed like one was the stronger one and had encouraged the other to keep on.

One man, who was actually in one the first group coming in  totally collapsed in a heap and face planted about 4 feet from the finish line.  A gal coming in behind him and another person on the side helped him up and over the finish line.  I cried. 

The lead full marathoner dropped down on his knees  in what looked like thanksgiving when he crossed 'finish'.   One gal started sobbing and could hardly get her composure once she realized she was finished.  She kept saying, 'I did it, I did it'.  There were many people over 70 in the 1/2 and the full - men and women.   It was unbelievable!    Lots of them were smiling like they were at a picnic!  That was surreal! 

It seemed like many people were there alone, running for themselves and their own personal best.  Some had lots and lots of support and cheering, but for every single one, it seemed like the reward was an inner thing.  Intrinsic.  

Many of the 'walkers' came in right alongside the runners.  It gave power walking a whole new definition.   

Observing the faces, the body language, the pain, the tears and the joy, brought me some intense emotions vicariously!   The grit, determination, strength, courage and resilience was amazing to witness.  I too, in so many different ways, want to stay the course, go the distance no matter what, and finish.  Finishing IS finishing well!     

Friday, March 27, 2009

Midwife of the Soul

It used to be strange hearing older people talk about the 'good old days' and worry about the 'young kids these days'.  Now I empathize and see it, times 10!  Because from the 70's on, things have snowballed with electronics and cyber/virtual living is what we do.  

Here are some nostalgic things I miss, uncommon now.  Craig and I are both 49 and grew up in different parts of the country, but have in common a country way of life.  Both of our parents were hospitable, I think Myrtle wins the prize for the amount of sheets she washed and changed over a 60 year period, but my mom comes in second.   (We do our own now when we visit)  We both grew up with Sunday dinners of 20 or more people on a regular basis.  The front door was always swingin' both ways.  There was always something in the fridge or freezer to warm up and offer unexpected guests.  People dropping by all during the day and evening.  Games, puzzles, music making, great conversation.  Laughter. ( Arguments & family feuds too - my side).  
We don't sit up around the table so much any more with a set table and hot steaming bowls of homemade food.  Flaky hot biscuits. Homemade jam. Colorful salad.   Juicy tender roast.  We do sometimes, but the kids all have different schedules and it is more rare these days.  Many times now, when I cook a complete meal, it is on the stove in pans and we each do a buffet style, come and sit on the couch and talk while we eat, but it isn't the lingering thing it used to be.  More functional.  Fuel.  

Jenny and Ray showed up unexpectedly tonite because they thought the get together tomorrow was tonite.  We spur of the moment made bacon, eggs and pancakes for supper and they stayed and we visited for hours.   It was such a wonderful blessing and made me realize how much I miss "the old days"!   Do I sound 80?  

There is something precious in passing the person next to you a bowl of steaming mashed potatoes that were peeled, boiled, smashed and salted with cream to smooth it out and a dollop of butter melting in the middle of the snow white mountain of wonderfulness.   And if the bowl is heavy, you hold it while the person spoons it, then they do it for the next person.  It's how 
children learned to be polite and courteous.  In our family there was always enough, but because we sat at the table, there was a visual reminder and it became obvious if Billy took 4 scoops of meatballs, 3 other people wouldn't have any and everyone would know.  Billy learned to govern himself for the good of others.  Sort of polite.  Manners.  Manners not for the sake of
control or making parents look good, but manners that thought of others.  At the table, because it was usually so full, not everyone could talk at the same time and there was this thing called conversation.  What a novel idea.    A being curious about someone else's life, their day.   

I think we learned how to have a marriage and how not to have a marriage because of lots and lots of visiting between families in their homes.  I learned how I wanted to parent and how I didn't want to parent, by observing other people and how they did it in our home and what they did in their home.   When we had young children, it was the visiting back and forth in our homes that taught me more than ANY parenting class ever could.   We weren't shy about telling our kids "no" or teaching them that they weren't the center of the universe......     :)   

I'd like to cuddle a child on my lap and read them stories from great books with yummy pictures and have them know that it doesn't need dissected, that we can just enjoy it and that they are able to hold still and quietly listen and then hope they would crave that instead of TV or a movie.   

I love to sit with a friend on my porch swing and talk and softly swing.   Or tuck a blanket around someone and bring them some hot tea, for courage.   

My friend Debi is giving me a princess day next week which includes a soak in her 5 star garden tub, with a coffee tray, lunch afterwards.   

All of us need times of refreshing, nurturing, someone ministering to us, pampering us, touching us, talking with us, crying with us, laughing with us and processing life's real parts.

Then we can give it away and offer it to someone else.  Midwives and doulas to each other's hearts and souls.   (Plato)


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Like Salt

The book "Salt" by Mark Kurlansky jumped into my arms along with "Shacketon's Way" at Powell's City of Books today.  Weird picks!   

The former I slurped up and wrote some things down.  The latter I bought because the story of the Endurance is one of the most intriguing true tales ever, in my opinion.   Every aspect of it inspires and fascinates me.    

My favorite quote from 'Salt' is:  "I love you like salt."   
He says tradition suggests that the young girl who said it to her father hundreds of years ago got banished, because he thought it was an insult.  

Until we have to do without salt, we can't imagine how important it is.  It used to be a precious commodity to trade with, like money. 
It prevents decay, preserves,  protects,  sustains life, longevity, suggests permanence.  Loyalties and friendships are sealed with salt.  It is an eternal covenant.  Salt seals a bargain.  Evil spirits detest salt. 

Salt is a potent and sometimes dangerous substance  that has to be handled with care.  

So I quipped my own quote:  "I miss you like salt"   I really do!     

It was a very interesting read, seriously!  :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Red Middles

Chris and I are having girlfriend time, celebrating our friendship, her getting a medical assistant's certificate and spring.  We both had read a historical trilogy, by Jane Kirkpatrick, about a communal group who had settled south of Portland about thirty minutes, in Aurora

The museum was unique and told it's own story of those pioneers, some of the secrets still being revealed, some of the stories recently confirmed by a single plate donated by a descendent.  Some stories still haven't been unraveled.  

Towns really do have personalities and houses absolutely do absorb the laughter, pain, warmth and memories of the ones who lived there.   The curator loved what she did and enthusiastically shared a sort of living history.  It felt like she knew these people intimately.   I loved her story of the log cabin quilts that they had found.  

One couple had to wait 30 years to get married, because they didn't have the leader's permission and wouldn't disobey him.  The log cabin quilt made by her had red centers in all the squares, which was her way of silently expressing that she was in a warm, cozy, contented place in her home and life.  Her hearth and heart warmed by the fire of love. 

If I ever make a quilt, it will have red centers. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lovin' Spoonful

Even though it isn't a good deal for the money, those little bitty, 10 for 10, one serving, paper cartons with the wooden spoon are so worth it once in a while.  As long as you don't eat 5 in a row.  I love ice cream straight; that is, straight out of the carton, as it seems to taste better that way - the mini cartons are expensive, but you don't have to sneakily contaminate the family carton!   Ice cream straight, with a flat little wooden spoon, translates into happy endorphins spiking straight to every pleasure receptor in my body.   

Over the next week, I'll let you know the how the contest I'm running all by myself turns out.  It will be a toss up between Ben and Jerry's, Hagen Daas, and Ciao's Gelato.   Well, they were 10 for 10!!! 

 I will be in Portland for 3 days, hope the family doesn't find them behind the frozen corn.  I counted the little buggers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Collecting Mysteries

Today, a favorite book found it's way back home to me, to it's place on the bookshelf with the author's other books.  It was a bit unexpected, as I never thought to see it again, knowing someday I'd come across another one and buy it.  Although it was good to have it in my hands again, I am not the person I was when I enthusiastically chronicled, underlined and journaled in the margins 3-4 years ago.  I believed what was written and felt so encouraged and sort of inspired by it's lofty, cheerleader ra-ra message.  Couldn't wait to share/loan the book out, so others could enjoy it. Yippee Tigger!  

As I reread those colorful underlinings and comments about some 'ah-ha', 'wow' or 'bouncy' moment I must have had reading it back then, today, I wanted to throw the book at the wall!  Go punch the author in the nose.  Naive, gullible, silly me.  

Think I'll start reading and collecting only Agatha Christy..................they resolve themselves at the end. 


I am grateful for:
A spouse who is kind and generous and funny. 
Daughters who actually WANT to be with me.  
A house with a porch and a porch swing. 
A yard with patches of garden, trees. 
A trampoline to cuddle on in the summer and watch for shooting stars.
A mom who is smart, generous, hospitable and nurturing. 
Girlfriends who cry, laugh, eat chocolate and take trips with me. 
Good books to read that affirm, console, comfort, enthuse, challenge and help me grow. 
Warm blankets. 
Central heat.
Rivers, lakes, Puget Sound to fill my soul. 
Daughters who write me love notes. 
A husband who fills my car with gas. 
A lover who prays with me and for me.  
Sisters and brothers.  
Paint chips.
A healthy body.
Friends who own a boat.
An inquiring mind.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


In England, they call them jumble sales, instead of garage sales.  Sometimes it's only in an open trunk.  

So, a look inside my open brain today has these squiggly ameba thoughts all piled around like a jumble sale.  My head..... a vintage car with the trunk open.  No rhyme or reason to it.  Picture this inside:   

A cropped picture of Michelangelo's ~ God's hand reaching for Adam's, wanting to sketch it.
A 3 masted sailboat, wanting to live on it.
A leather bound James Stalker book, wanting to read it.   
Rhubarb, wanting to make a pie with it.
Sand in my toes, wanting to feel it. 
Talking to the little bushman in "The God's Must Be Crazy", wanting fresh thoughts.
Really old, saggy, baggy real people doing water aerobics, splashing each other. Wanting to be playful. 
Wondering how to carve an alabaster box.  Wanting to feel it, touch it, experience it. 
All stuck together with a glug of music-opera, jazz, blues, folk, rock........

That's all ~  it's not crowded at all, want to join me?  And I'm not on drugs, I promise!   Although, my family could be getting concerned over how many paper flowers I'm making.  
It's cheap, theraputic and colorful; don't try to stop me or I'll shoot you with my dart gun.  

Monday, March 16, 2009


Green is a fascinating color.  In spring when you look across a valley, the different shades, hues of green never end.  Green is the one color that matches itself, no matter what.  In a garden the varied greens all go together, there is never a mistake.  Lime somehow looks good with blue green hostas.  Dark forest looks good with grass green.  Fern and pistachio......

If I was a color, I would want to be green.  It is the color of new life.  Tender shoots sprouting, poking, becoming.   Green is hopeful.  

It's time to go pick a bunch of pussy willows and put them in a jar on the table, celebrate what we know is coming.  Look forward to it.  Anticipate it.......plan for it.  Walk towards it, see it coming!
Enjoy the handoff from winter.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Peeps and Priests

Yesterday at Michael's craft store another gal and I kept passing each other in the isles.  We'd smile and get lost in our own creative dreams again until the next time.  After several of these, I felt like we were almost friends.  The last time I saw her she was almost choking on a little yellow Easter 'peep'.  Half of it was gone and the other part was goo-ily sticking to her fingers as she tried to get it in her mouth.  As she licked her fingers, she asked if I had seen the priest all decked out in priestly garb come in the front door, just as she was popping her unpaid for as yet 'peep' in her mouth?  Her expression looked just like a guilty 4 year old who had gotten caught with her hand in the cookie jar.  I had to hold on to my cart to keep upright.  We both got to laughing hard enough for our sides to split.  The store echoed with it.  I finally saw him at the check out, but the way he hurried out, black skirt swirling around his legs, I don't think he was concerned about a woman enjoying her peep, reliving her childhood both ways.  Indulging.  Busted.  Confession.  

Lavish Lover

It's pouring again with the kind of cold that makes your bones ache.  But my skin has a faint memory of the sun that kissed my skin at the river thursday.  Four hours of pure wonderfulness.  I actually had to ask the Lover of my soul to enlarge my capacity to be able to receive all of it. Almost couldn't take it all.  Over flow.  My cup runneth over.  Sustaining that kind of pleasure and joy for that long leaves you deliciously limp.  Better than a massage, sauna or making human love.  Whether you believe it or not, you are the bride of Christ and he is such a generous lover!  It must be hard for men to get the analogy, to be open and receive.........

Three ducks, a male and 2 females came floating down the river, then stopped to talk/quack treading water right in front of me.  It was so funny that I stopped reading and looked up to enjoy them.  I think the comic sight was actually heralding, getting me to look up to see this huge eagle swooping up the full length of the river that was visible to me.  He was so strong and sort of sprinkled some strength my way just watching him.  I could see his feathers individually and his eye!  I think he looked right at me!  

A robin couple pecked and scratched within 5 feet of me the entire time.  They would get up close then cock their heads curiously, nod, then keep puttering.  They weren't afraid of Maggie or me and Maggie didn't chase them or pay much attention to them.  Robins, ducks, eagles ~ gifts.   

It seems like it has been a long, dark cold, emotion filled winter, but not futile.  More like I've been in an incubator, and soon will hatch?  

For me, it has been a discipline to do the next right thing, to be on purpose thankful and grateful, to obey when I feel that nudge to move or give, instead of ignore it.  To choose to trust.  To laugh after crying.  To limit the crying, letting myself indulge, then getting to the other side.  

I have asked, requested and talked to God about many intimate things lately.  He tells me many intimate things.  Conversations, ruminating, wondering, answers, sometimes no answer and blessings upon blessings. Just because He wants to.  He likes it when I trust that I am loved with a great lavish love....and when He gives, it almost feels like you stop breathing for a minute, almost die and enter.....for a bit, heaven?  I'm thinking that if you don't like it down here, making love, you won't like it there either.  I really like being with Him.  A lot!  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

49 and Holding

Birthdays when you're 49 aren't the same as they were when you were 4 or 9.  I always shared mine with my Grandma Carrico.  Woops-happy birthday Grandma!  I am so terrible at remembering birthdays.  Dates are numbers and numbers don't speak a language I understand. If you've been my friend for very long, you probably get cards from me once in a while, but hardly ever on your birthday.  

But, I am glad you were born.  You are special, loved and valuable!  I do miss you and you are my favorite if you're the one I'm with at the moment!  

I felt really alone and lonely today for my birthday.  Craig and Brita were gone, Tessa worked.  It was just me and Maggie.  I almost asked a few strangers in the pool to go with me for a coffee afterwards, but was too shy and it felt weird.  Usually, solitude is a treasure, but not today.  That feeling of  being celebrated, just for a day ~  wow, it surprised me how much I wanted it.  It's embarrassingly juvenile and needy.  And real.....

There are so many people who must feel this feeling often, as in frequently.  Achy breaky hearts!  How to turn my need and desire outward, towards others?  Learn compassion? Understand enough to take action... 

Craig came in on a 7:30 PM flight, so I went to Border's  early, got a coffee along with a warm raisin oatmeal cookie.  Sat with a huge pile of artsy/creative/gardening magazines devouring the pages of amazing ideas.  It got some artistical juices of my own flowing again, distracted me and the last one, on the last page had a poem that was just perfect......and filled me all the way to the brim.  

I survived this day.   Oh, and Jenny called and made her class sing me Happy Birthday.....now the candle ~ poof!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sugar Crusted Gratefulness

Creme brule/burnt creme is one of my favorite things.  Cracking the sugar never gets old and I'm just as happy the next time doing it as I was the last time.  It's sort of a sophisticated adult dessert, with an invite to play or not, as you wish.  

As I'm struggling with the cold and snow right now and feel crazy with strong yearnings for summer, I decided if I can't do anything about it, go play in it!   The sun was shining white bright, setting off a perfectly clear, blue sky.  Inviting.  Enticing.  Playful.    

The river called, I answered by bundling up and inviting Maggie along.  Tess almost pushed me out the door.  She recognizes cabin fever and wanted me to keep my momentum from the day before!  

The meadow was one huge, virgin snow, white, blanket.  My tracks and Maggie's the only ones marring the perfection until down by the woods I saw deer tracks, bunny tracks and some little miniature ones.  

This snow was soft and creamy underneath, thickly crusted with hard sugar on the top!  Except this sugar wasn't burnt, it was diamonds, millions!   I do believe they would have glowed and reflected their colorfully absorbed colors like a mirror, even in the dark!  Bedazzled my eyes and made my brain salsa dance.  My face and heart felt that tingle you get when you use astringent.  Bracing.  

I was too cold to do snow angels, and didn't have anyone to help me up without leaving a smudge, but I did have fun making words with my footprints.  Maggie went crazy and smudged those a bit.  

A pair of eagles soared gracefully over the river....... which would have been the frosting on the cupcake, if it had been a cupcake.    

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Going Down

When I woke up and looked out the window and saw a couple more inches of snow this morning, pulling my covers over my head and sinking into black oblivion seemed like a good option.  Snow is pretty, but now green seems prettier!  It is sooo cold out and it seems like it has been a strung out long winter.  I don't want to complain, yet end up with whining yelps of frustration sneaking out.  

Tess was already at work, Brita is in Idaho, Craig is in North Dakota - no one at home to notice if I just gave in to it, but as I started spiraling down in a free fall, I ripped the cord just in time and landed safely in the shower instead.  I don't think any men read this, but if any women do - you'll understand maybe, how lazy I get about shaving in the winter.  Let's just say I really cleaned up - as if it was bathing suit, sun tanning weather!  Nooks and crannies that looked like I had been hybernating for months in places like Boulder, Santa Cruz, Berkley, Fremont or Olympia.  'Greener' places.  'Granolas' live comfortably with hairy armpits and soft furry legs. Places in Europe still totally except it as normal.  My humanity and femininity called for me to get a firm grip on that razor.

This streamlined approach to getting my body back, reclaiming it from tangled undergrowth made me feel so invigorated and restored that I couldn't wait to go try the sun bed for the first time this winter.  That made me smile so much from those fake UV rays and warmth that I got this urge to go do water aerobics.  

Even though I'm a mermaid and love water, I was sort of scared, as I've never done it.  And excercise isn't a fun word or thing for me.   But, I knew that the law of momentum is something that is moving keeps moving....whereas something stopped stays stopped.   I was moving and wanted to keep going. And I was all smooth and pink!  

The class was full of beautiful old, out of shape, saggy, people.  Like the velveteen rabbit after he became 'Real'.   They smiled with such encouragement, made a spot for me and helped me with some moves when I didn't know how. I felt young, vibrant, capable, gorgeously firm, supple, energetic, and playful.  I fell in love with my real teeth all over again.  Started noticing things to be grateful for - thick hair, a heart that worked well, circulation that pinked up my skin, and realized that my size wasn't the largest, my droops weren't the worst after all.  I felt part of normal, an unfamiliar feeling of fitting in.   

The smile never did leave my face the whole entire hour.  Cramps in my cheeks were starting to set in from smiling.  Betty, who is 90, was singing along, "when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore....." at the top of her voice.   Which made me almost cry, as that was my grandma's song and she sang it with gusto and delight just the same, any time she felt the urge for a fresh new outlook on life....  

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Can I fantasize?  I wish there was a scout that went looking here and there in every town.  Oh to be discovered!   It would be amazing to have someone pick you special to be on their team.  See something in you that would be a perfect fit for what they wanted to accomplish.  They would want to train you, invest in you, spend time discovering your strengths, want to help you develop your gifts and talents.  See something worthwhile.  Cast a vision you could both believe.  Treat you with respect and honor.  Coach you to greatness-both of you, everyone wins.

When I was in middle school, PE was my most dreaded class.  I would plead off with any excuse; sore teeth from getting my braces tightened, cramps or leaving my clothes at home, anything to get to sit out.   

Anytime teams had to be picked, the most popular, cutest, most athletic guys would be captains.  I would be one of the last two picked almost every time.  Pure agony and so embarrassing.   It got worse and more bruising the older I became.  The bruise became tattooed, engraved, a weeping wound sometimes.

This part of life prompts questions.  Do I have something to offer my world?  How do I do it? What does it look like?  Does anyone want it?  Is it good enough?  How do I find the niche? Will anyone endorse me?  Support me?  Promote me?  Pick me?  Choose me?

All around me friends are retiring after successful careers, getting certified and launching careers, hanging their shingles, living their dreams, getting speaking engagements, getting published, getting on best seller lists, selling their business, starting a business, being sought after consultants and counselors, in demand wedding coordinators and photographers, artists who make money doing what they love, musicians who teach and perform, people who have 
gifts and talents that are desirable.  

Whoa, breathe through the clinched down heart girl, it almost seized up there, writing that last paragraph.   See, I'm not on that list, or don't have a resume like that or notches on my stick, nothing that contributes so much significance to our world.  No framed certificate or license. No paycheck to validate and affirm. Not much proof, hard evidence or feedback that any ripples generating from my life touch, change, even matter in this big world.   

Saying all this brings me full circle. There is a small 'but'.  Because even though all of the above is true, I have had moments of extreme joy, pure worship, felt music seep into every pore, heard God laugh, danced with Jesus, been loved by a man who knows how to touch my deepest core, played with my children and been forgiven by all the above when needed.  Chosen, picked,  after all.   


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Go Anyways!

Brita and her friend Kayla took off this morning for my mom's in southern Idaho.  It is a straight, 11 hour shot.  They were a bit worried last night looking at the WSDOT sight last night and the storm warnings for the next 2-3 days.  They had a small window of time when this adventure would work, so waiting for the storm to pass wasn't an option.  

In Idaho, we were able to drive during the day when we were 14 and around the clock by age 16.  Taking off on a road trip, big or little has always been fun to me.  When I was 15, mom let me take her only car on a 5 hour trip to McCall for a week of summer camp.  It must have fueled my wanderlust.............which has NEVER abated yet.  Thanks mom!  It was just the beginning of many trips, each one of them equipping, empowering me, training me to trust, pray, prepare, dream, and crave adventure.   I want to pass this on to my girls.  Being comfortable with the great unknowns, opening unfamiliar doors without always knowing what's behind them.

As I sent the girls off with an emergency box of matches, candles, chocolate, nuts, flashlight and blanket, it was a bit difficult - maybe they were heading into danger.  At the same time, I wanted them to experience the joy of a possibly challenging adventure, getting on the other side, have a story to tell.  To know they could do it, realize they could ask for human help and Supernatural help.  Trust.  Live fully.  Go.  

Life has storms.  The road is slippery sometimes.  We have to go slow once in a while. Sometimes there isn't much visibility.  You have to know even when you're prepared for emergencies, there are surprises that nothing can prepare you for and going to plan 'F' or 'Q' is required creative thinking!   

The rest of the story is theirs........but; I will tell you that Brita just called and they are about 3 hours away from mom's.   Her voice was tinged all around the edge with joy, jubilance and a fresh zest for life's possibilities.......

Friends Birthing Gardens

Gardens grow from all sorts of things.  Desire, pictures in books, seeing someone else's...... 

One time in Iowa, I stopped, parked and walked up to the door of  a little house that was all dressed up in layers and patches of gardens.  Pantaloons, petticoats, skirts, coats, capes, scarves, shawls, bonnets, a yard playing dress up.  If a yard could twirl, and say, 'TA DA', this one did.  I knocked at the door hoping the one who gave birth to it was home.  She came to the door with a baby robin in her hand, it had fallen but couldn't fly yet.  He was eating raw ground hamburger bits inside instead of ground worms from his mom outside.  She was delighted to show off her handiwork birthed of joyful hardwork...... 

There were pieces of 'altered art' tucked here and there to surprise and stop me in my tracks. She said that every year she dug up another patch of grass to create another vignette of flowers. Have you ever felt like you stepped into the frame of another dimension?  Very hard to return to 'normal'......but the pictures in my head stayed.   What if someone stopped to knock on my door someday, because she let me in to her garden?  

When I was a baby beginning gardner without means to indulge in nursery plants, Jill, Bev, Jan and Mary would share their 'volunteer' babies with me, Joy split her hostas, Debi taught me how to fill containers.......

Usually, about this time of year, I go splurge on winter pansies.  Their smiling cheerful faces are contagious. 

Usually about this time of year, I get desperate for color, crazy for color, crave color!   Colors I've never even liked look delicious.  Wait a minute~there aren't any colors I don't like!  Brown maybe?  No, dirt's brown and I LOVE DIRT!    :)   I fall in love all over again when Craig brings me a yard of compost!  

I'm dreaming about making crepe paper flower garlands, swaths, wreaths, topiaries...... in all colors of the rainbow~sticking them in and hanging them everywhere.  Everywhere!   If you drive by and see weird water soaked bunched up things trailing everywhere-we didn't get pranked by kids.  I just traveled too close to the edge of grey, winter induced lethargy and caved - from color starvation......

"A salute, to the Maker of color"   (can't credit the author who coined that, sorry sweetie, but I love you even though we haven't met!)   

Friday, March 6, 2009

Circle of Women

In Idaho, where we moved when I was around 8, asparagus grew wild along the ditches.  Mom would save brown  paper bags and we'd all pile in our big old boat of a car to gather and pick it. All along the irrigation ditches, sides of roads and the borders of fields, the ferny, feathery plant was easy to spot.  If it was groomed every 3 days, the same plant would produce a new crop every third day or so for weeks if it got enough water.

Families could get territorial if they had a favorite area that they kept groomed and someone else got to it before they could. There was so much,  I don't think a feud ever started. 

Sometimes if a farmer had an especially prolific patch on the borders of his field, if you were polite and asked, he would let you pick. Most the time though, mom would drive real slow on the side of the road with her flashers on and we would hop on and off either the trunk or the hood of the car with our bags, snap off as many tender green shoots as we could and hop back on till we saw the next patch.  When our big bags were about half full, we would go home with a pile of fresh asparagus. 

I always liked the skinny, tall, tender stems best.  We would have some for dinner once in while.  Back then, vegetables were cooked till they were limp, grey and lifeless, so I never learned to like it very well, until as an adult I finally tasted it lightly steamed.  It was an unbelievable bright green, firm and the flesh tasty, flavorful.  WOW!  Usually mom, my aunt and grandma would process them by pickling them in a quart jar.  Spices, vinegar, then sealed properly by a boiling water bath in the big blue speckled canning kettle.  

It was wonderful to open a jar in the winter.  I still get a nostalgic yearning to see rows and rows of gorgeous, tasty, flavorful, colorful jars of jam, peaches, asparagus, tomato sauce, salsa on the shelf.  Sometimes it would take me longer than it should have to fetch a jar for mom, as I would get lost in the palette of textures and colors that came to life as the light was turned on. 

The jars weren't only preserved summer bounty.  Not just practical, needed food for winter.  
Part of their essence, laughter, friendship, love and nurturing care for their families was also sealed under that gold sealed lid, tightened with a ring.  It was hard, hot, sweaty, once-you-started-you-couldn't-stop work, but in the company of a circle of women and children, who shared the work along with the bounty, it didn't seem like a dreadful task.  Not exactly fun, but in my memory, recalling their expressions, extremely satisfying work, with beautiful results.  

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gardener's Bliss Soon

Flowers from seeds?  When every store has 4-6 pony paks that can deliver almost instant color along with gratification for very little trouble?  Why bother?  I'm going to back to my roots and will go to 'all the bother' this year, because I need to remember something lost....   There simply isn't anything like the miracle of watching seeds sprout. 

Some sunflowers along the south wall of the garage.  Some old fashioned zinnias in front of the porch, their bright cheerful heads peeking at me over the railing as I read on the porch swing. Some cherry tomatoes on the south side of my shed?  

I don't have a natural 'governor' to slow me down or help me plant 1 packet instead of 6.  Well, lets just say that it hasn't been my pattern.  Fuschia baskets are glorious all summer, lets have 12!  If a little is good, a lot is better.  I have friends who are minimalists, it is admirable and elegant, restful, soothing and very fashionable these days. Balanced.  Stylish.

Just give me riots of rebellious borders, chaotic piles of color wadded and tangled together .... this makes me smile just dreamin' it up and imagining it.  I have beds/borders already, but want to fill them to bursting.  Guess it's good I don't invision pristine, everyone would be bruised from the disappointing results!   :)   

Over the last couple of years I have tried to recreate something of my grandma's garden. Wisteria battling with climbing roses over the garden room trellis; who will reign supreme in the end?  Hollyhocks.  A magnolia tree. 

Just thinking of it gives me a spurt of gardener's bliss, almost as effective as Vitamin D!  At first, early in the season, no gloves can tempt me, no matter how crusty and ugly my hands get-they would rob me of pure pleasure, dirt pleasure.  Later on, when the first thrilling sensation dulls, gloves are welcomed while my hands heal and fingernails return to normal..... 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ethereal Orange Lipstick

My friend Debi and I went to Greenlake to have coffee at Peet's, where any three of our favorite baristas could create and hand us pure love over the counter.  Tessa, Bree and Kalee know how to put love in coffee. 

When I'm out - my treat drink is a small breve, 2 shots.  At home it's press pot with a dollop. My breve today was comforting and satisfying indeed.  The first sip made me sigh with gratitude.  
The sun was out, the lake was beautiful, the air fresh and crisp.  Daffodils nodded cheerfully all along the sides of the path around the lake, trying bravely to open up to the sunshine.      

After we walked for a bit, we sat down outside on a bench where an old lady in a trench coat from the 70's appeared out of nowhere.  It was an instant feeling of knowing her, even though we hadn't ever met.  She had very orange lipstick. I don't think any stores sell that color.  She encouraged both of us; holding Debi's hand then telling me that I had sunshine in my cheeks. We talked about nothing, yet it seemed important because we were laughing one moment and almost crying the next. She left us cheerfully, but we felt 'visited' somehow as she went inside for her cup of love.  The encounter left us dizzy with possibilities...we looked at each other sort of dazed, wondering what had just happened.  

Tessa came home and the first thing she asked was, "Mom, did you know that old lady you were talking with? Did you tell her about me?"  I said, no and no I don't think so, then asked why. She said that she came in the store, ordered a drink, told Tessa that she was really loved at home, connected with several of the employees and customers in some way.  As she left, everyone had the same sensation, same questions....
-Who was that?
-That felt really nice. 
- Should I know her?  
-Do you know her? 
She hugged the girl that doesn't get hugs and almost made her cry after she whispered something kind in her ear.  It wasn't charisma, it wasn't chutzpa, it wasn't panache.  She didn't want or need attention.  It didn't feel creepy, no red flags, no instinct screaming danger at the instant intimacy.  She just showed up and gave, leaving a mixture of sweet air to breathe.  

An angel in a trench coat wearing orange lipstick?  Or an old lady who was fully living until she died, making sunshine wherever she went, leaving a trail of smiles and footprints of joy, a breath of fresh air.  Ethereal.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Maybe Miracles

Today, a short visit to the river with Maggie, in between chores, made the chores more palatable.

Just a normal, common day.  Pulling  a few weeds and getting dirt under my fingernails, imagining what the flower beds will look like this year, dreamin'..... 

Swinging on the porch swing for the first time this spring with a book until hypothermia started setting in..... 

I think between pruning too early and the hard freezing winter, some of my plants might have died along with the grapes, roses, some specialty ferns, etc.....
I won't do anything to them except care for them as if they were alive and well. Weed, compost,
and watch and wait for some 'may be miracles'.  

Unexpected blessings......happen often.

I want to always prepare for them, just in case they do, you know-be ready.  

Plowed, dug, tilled land absorbs the rain and soaks it in, drinks it deep, gets it's thirst quenched and it lasts.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hearing Love Songs

Craig, dear man, is ok with my mads, glads, highs and lows.  So is God.  Unbelievable how they still like me...all of me.  And they would both rather have this, than a numb me.  So would I.

Lobotomies  are outlawed nowadays surgically at least, but there are pills for the same droning life where your pain is dulled, but you never feel like you're gonna burst, like the little song bird outside my window this morning, singing a big song because he couldn't help it.  His throat had to have had stretch marks and his skin must have been bursting at the seams, ready to split.  I kept waiting for him to get hoarse or tired, but his stamina outlasted my time.  I think it must have been a love song......

This morning I asked a friend how she was, and her smiling reply, which included her beautiful eyes was, "I'm a mess".  She was dressed impeccably, coifed perfectly and looked gorgeously put together.  She had to get up in front of a crowd to speak and probably didn't feel as put together on the inside as she looked on the outside.   I LOVED that answer!   :)   It was soooo real.    

I'm a lyrics nut, which is poetry put to music.  Looking at titles of songs and studying lyrics is as good as the names of a new 'dish' along with the actual recipe.  

There are a couple of songs called, "Beautiful Mess"  and "Beautiful Disaster" ~ the titles say it all......I love dichotomies and paradoxes.  

Our Maker, I Am, the Breath of Life in us, the One who fills us with His spirit- sees the beautiful part, the gifted areas, the bright spots, the glow, along with the mess and disaster;   He sees us perfect and righteous and altogether lovely.    I like it. 

I feel like the skunk in "Bambi" who says, "You can call me Flower if you want to, I don't mind"! 

We can live this amazing life as if there's nothing wrong with us, not because there isn't anything wrong with us, but because He doesn't see anything wrong with us when He looks  at us through Jesus' eyes.   We get this gift for free.  We get to choose it.   Believe it.  

I really enjoy love songs.  They all become love songs to the Lover of my soul eventually, but on the way to that destination, they are first love songs to my mate and companion.  

Often though, I can hear the Lover of my soul crooning them to me.  This morning He sang the verse to me and I sang the chorus to him.....