Thursday, December 31, 2009

Love Notes from Brita

If you need encouragement today, pretend your name is in the salutation, especially if you're a mom, or have some kind of help/nurturing call in life.

These are more love notes from my daughter Brita. She has the gift of words and expressing herself. They are priceless. They fill me with hope and help me remember it's a lifetime of small actions, the little things that matter. Love matters. Be blessed.

I hesitated to publish these in a post for fear you would think I was on a major bragging about myself spree. I published them anyways, because I desperately needed you and me both, to hear the voice of truth today. See, I'm not bragging, because I don't see any of these things in myself!  She does though, so sometimes I need to borrow what she thinks about me.

Also, it is vital for us to remember that it's while someone is alive, instead of at their funeral, when the words of acknowledgment, validation, appreciation do the most good. Hope these go straight to your heart: 

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird....So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing--that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."   Richard Feynman 

"Dear Mom,
Happy early Mother's Day. I can't even begin to express my gratitude for you being the wonderful mother that you are, for bringing me and Tessa up the way that you did, for teaching us the essential lessons in life, love, relationships and growth, instead of teaching us that 'knowing the name of a bird in all the languages of the world' knowing 'facts' was important. I cherish the unique knowledge that you have helped me gain. I respect, love and look up to you so much, and when I look at the kind of wife and mother you are, I see so many ways that I want to be just like you, a Godly, compassionate, inspiring, captivating woman, with an abundance of love and grace. I love you so much, and hope you have an amazing time on your trip.
Brita Rae"

"She had an unequalled gift...of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities. Kobi Yamada"

Mom, I love you much. There are no words to express how grateful I am, that out of all the women in the world, you are my mom. I love the way you love me. I love your merciful heart. I love that no matter what is going on in m life, I know that you are ALWAYS there for me, to hold me when I  cry, or listen to me when I am overcome with happiness. There has not been one day of my life that I didn't know, and feel loved by you. Thank you for constantly forgiving me, for pushing me to grow, and for always letting me be creative. It has been the most incredible blessing to be raised by a loving, imaginative, Godly woman; I know that I owe who I am becoming to the way I have watched you be, a strong and vulnerable truly beautiful mother and wife. I love everything about you, but most of all, I love and appreciate all of the extremely wonderful life lessens that you have taught me. The little things, that I know will be valuable tools, now, and later on in life. I love that you have shown me through your actions, that there are no mistakes, that everything can be fixed. Seeing your persistence has made me love to be creative, because I know that it is OK to make mistakes; whatever it is - I/we can make it work. I love you so much, thank you for being an honest and passionate (re)model  ( I think she meant role model) in my life and a loving and nurturing mom.

You don't need to change the world, you've changed my life. The best of you...things I have seen in your life that have changed mine:

A hopeful spirit. Where to start? The thing that I've always loved most about you is your ability to turn any accident into an opportunity. You have taught me not to look at a mistake as the end of something,
but as the creation as something better than the result of perfectly followed directions could have ever produced. Not only have you helped me apply this lesson to the creative things I do, you have also taught me how to relate it to my real life experiences, to take every "failure" and learn from it, to better myself by learning what works and what doesn't. It is so weird that something so small as a saved sewing project can speak so passionately to my soul and make me want to inspire someone as you have inspired me.

A forgiving heart. If I had to choose one of your qualities that has affected my life the most, it would be your ability to forgive. I always know that no matter what I do, you will forgive me before I even ask. When I mess up you are the one person I always know I can go to, even though you are disappointed, I never fee judged by you, you just listen and encourage me to learn from my mistake.

A vibrant mind. You have challenged me to think, really think, to go deep inside and process, love pain and my experience. I think I could get so caught up on the outside stuff if I didn't have you in my life to help me take a step back and re-prioritize my life every now and then. I love your ability to think and the way you have taught me to do the same. Thank you for caring more about and investing your time in the woman I will become, and the relationships I will have in my life and my relationship with God, than math or Washington State history.

You will never fully understand the difference that you have made in my life, and in the lives of others. You dream of changing the world, of being a warrior, but you have been blessed with the gift of encouragement, you save people everyday, whether by a hand written note, to bring hope and the knowledge of appreciation, or by a cup of coffee and a word of wisdom, or by listening to someone vent and letting them know that they matter, by being completely interested in what's going on in their life. I  have seen you be so broken, and so low, but you still care about everyone else, when you are weak, you share hope with others. Your ability to take what God gives you and give it to others is what makes you a hero in my eyes. you have changed the lives of more people than you'll ever know, just by listening, loving and sharing hope.

Even though it's not time for me to fly yet, when it is, I know I'll be prepared to tackle relationships, mountains and maybe even the world, because you have taught me that if I pursue any dream it can be a reality.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Words have power. Words of life and words of death come from the same tongue. My daughter Brita wrote this almost 2 years ago after a devastating, almost soul killing experience. I cry when I read this antidote to that violation, from her to me.

The love notes from my husband and children are the dearest things to me.  I treasure them.  They have creases in them from reading, unfolding, and rereading them. They are healing balm....words of life.

Yes, physical touch and words of encouragement are my love language.  In our world....both are hard to come by.  The first because natural, appropriate affection has been so distorted and twisted, the latter because people often think nice things but fail to say it out loud to the person who needs it most.

As I read this again today with tears streaming, I realize how loving words have the ability to bring us back from the cliff edge. I read these words as if they are from her and my maker, both.

I know that I have become softer and softer as I learn how to forgive.  If I spend the rest of my life learning to harness my own tongue and be compassionate, this second half will be just right, like the baby bear's porridge.

My daughters are my best friends. I am grateful for Brita's call to 'live for the ones I love'. She was 16 at the time. There was a crisis of belief in her life and collateral damage from this event. Vicariously. I am again becoming fully engaged, fully alive, saying yes. And yes. Yes. I am learning which voices to listen to, what and who to believe. That's maturity. It's about time.

This is her love note to me, persuading and begging me to let her love win:

Take down this mask
Everything's not OK
Your vibrant colors gone
So cold
So hurt
So fragile
I need my love to be enough for you
I need you to see you as I see you
If you could see inside my heart
And see how beautiful you are in my eyes
How strong
How brave
How vibrant
You would be blinded by your own beauty
You are precious
You are prized
Everyday with you in my life is more of a blessing than most kids get in a life time
People hurt you
You put your heart on the line
And they didn't see
They don't understand
They don't need to
Your spirit
Your heart could never be valued enough by them
Give it to me
I'm ready
I need you
I care
I understand
You're a jewel
You bring passion and love to every relationship that you're in
Don't take that away from the people who love you
Seeing you hurt breaks my heart
I've learned so much from you
I know how strong you are
I want you back
All of your
Get your name from God
Get your name from me
Because if you took the time to ask
I'd go on and on and on
And I'd tell you who you are
And you'd see
That you truly are

Thank you my sweet, brilliant girl. Words can rescue, yes they can.  I love you.

If anyone reading this has ever felt this way, borrow Brita's love note and pretend it's to addressed to you. Find comfort in hearing these words to your heart.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Essence of Caregiving

Three sweet older books which have escaped being purged are by the late Bob Benson.  One of them, "In Quest of the Share Life" he speaks poignantly about the caregiving he received while in the last stages of cancer.

"But the circle of medicine which seems to surround me most tightly was practiced in the wee hours of the morning when, for the fourth time within an hour, I pressed the call button and someone answered, "Can I help you?" "Yes, I need you again."  

And someone came and cleaned me where I was dirty and touched me where I hurt.  And she remade my bed and tucked the covers under my chin once more and said to me, "Now go back to sleep, but call me if you need me." 

I mumbled some dumb apology for bothering her and making such a mess again.  And the answer was, "That's okay. That's why we're here." 

A lot of sharing of our lives is on some outer circle, where it doesn't cost us much at all, but I am beginning to believe that the true, meaningful experience of our lives will be touching, and washing, and smiling, and lifting.  And all along there will be less and less of us because of places and hours and people we have left part of ourselves."  

"You're going out to live life.  Don't take too good care of yourself, find some things that count, stic k  your neck out, spill some blood, spread some love.  The sin is not in breaking the rules - it's in holding back.  We should." 

I appreciate the ones who have been nurses, doulas and midwives to our bodies, hearts and souls.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


iwonder: how to stay childlike without being childish
how to keep believing love really does change everything
when to guard my heart
where to pour out my passion
where to spend time
how to keep wonder and awe lubricated
how to be diligent in caring for this healthy body given me
who's life will intersect with mine next
what story needs to be told
how to create more beautiful memories
what to creatively produce
who to trust
how to love well
what muscles and skills need developed more
what beliefs need readjusted to match what is true
how to learn better critical thinking
what the second half will be like
how to live like I believe the best is yet to come
how to grow an unoffendable heart
where the next adventure will take me
when the page will turn
what the next chapter will say
how to 'be more curious than furious'
when I'll know that it was all meant for good in the end
when the tears will grow something good for others to enjoy
why i am so blessed

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Craig's New Knee

Craig is the proud owner of a new knee today.  Yesterday's surgery went well, although it took longer for the surgeon to clean up old scar tissue and burrs.  It was 3 or more long hours after I knew he came through surgery ok before the message came that he was recovering and being taken to his room.

One of the funniest things was the pre-op nurse as she tried to get his circulation stockings over his bear paw feet and huge muscled calves.  She grunted and groaned, heaved and sweated and almost broke a nail along with punching a hole in the things.

Someone in surgery drew a smiley face on the pad of his big toe.  It was the first thing greeting us and  made us all smile.  The drugs made him talk non-stop.  We giggled into our sleeves at how animated he was towards evening.  Sleeping on his back makes his snoring really loud, so I'm sure he's famous.

Today was wonderful.  He walked around the floor several times, sat up most the day and faithfully did his excercises all day long.  His extension is amazing and he is bending easily to 90 degrees. The self-medicating narcotics which had a joy button he could punch every 6 minutes if he wanted to, was never used.

It seemed like Dr. Bill Huong has all the bases covered for premium recovery.  He likes his patients to use an 'aircast' ice water cooled pack that lasts 6 hours from right after surgery for 2 weeks.  It isn't ice, so is able to stay strapped on continuously.  He also gave a nausea patch behind the ear so there weren't any side effects from the anesthesia. The pain cocktail he gives his patients right before surgery helps the pain cycle not get started after surgery.  When he checked in on Craig, it seemed like he was the poster child for a successful procedure.  He looked proud of himself and Craig.  :)

Most of all he has been a ray of sunshine to anyone who has the privilege of caring for him.  His smile, his gratitude and attitude is contagious. Tess, Brita, Mike, Mary, Shelly, Pat and our beloved friend and neighbor Jon came to visit.  That was the sweetest thing.  Craig has spent many hours visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes and it came back around to bless him big time.

I crawled in bed with him tonight before I left, for a warm snuggle inside his strong arms. His broad chest felt like the safest place in the world. It is Christmas Eve after all.  The nurse peeked in, grinned and said, "I don't see this" as she left us.

All is right in our world.  "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're only a day away."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paper Dolls

This is a collection of paper doll costumes from my mom and a few from her mother.  They have pieces missing; some are torn. A few are taped together.  The times I was allowed to get them out to play with, were epic memories.  Only mom knew which broken head went to what body, and which doll the clothes went on. Grandma would draw clothes and cut out pretty models from Sear's catalogues to add to the menagerie. Those did not survive.

The paper is velvety soft from age and use. They are getting fragile - acid free didn't exist yet.  I don't get them out to look at very much, but when I do, the texture of the memories come back.  I imagined
how the cloth felt and what sound it would make as it swished around the elegant and shapely legs of one wearing it. Starched cotton, slick silk, elegant fur, shiny satin ~ all had distinct sensory input far  beyond the mere one dimensional printed paper.

As a simple country girl, the elegance and grandeur of the clothes fascinated me.  This was a different world than mine. Trying to imagine where these costumes were worn was as impossible as wondering what happened after a kiss.

Was the lace possibly from Belgium or France?  Handmade needle lace from an old woman by the light of a candle.  The velvet trim seemed softer than the fur on my kitten's belly.

It was enticing to wonder what underclothes might be worn underneath all these layers. What accessories would match?  Jewelry? Hair styles. The coats with muffs still attached were special treasures. A girl with her delicate hands in a muff would certainly have a beaux, or several. It was the highest pinnacle of sophisticated romance.

Imagination is still free.  Memories last forever. Playing can't be replaced with anything else.

More Paper Dolls

Monday, December 21, 2009

Three's Not a Crowd

Remember that old song, "Torn Between Two Lovers"? I have two lovers. It isn't a hard thing to confess. I'm not ashamed of this, embarrassed or torn. Neither am I breaking any rules.  

They both waited for me to realize how much I loved them. Both chose me for bride. They made me the girl in the story, lavish me with goodwill and see me as the apple of their eye.

I will never have to be a widow, as I will be able to live with both of them forever.

They offer comfort and security. One of them is able to disappoint me and fail me at times, the other one never will - he is incapable. He's lover number one, which doesn't faze number two!

They both offer me their strength. I believe and trust them both with my life. Not only are they good friends, but they make great fathers for our children. Involved, engaged, and connected.

It is unbelievable, but in this love triangle we have going, no one is jealous or threatened. We are all secure, knowing there is more than enough love to wrap around the bundle that is us. That old saying that a cord of three strands is not easily broken, fits perfectly.

I have to mention this; the man at the top of our little love triangle is the son of a king. Royalty. It wasn't common knowledge when he was born to a poor unknown village girl. We can't keep quiet about it.

He has many names, but we call him Emmanuel.

Gold Star

I'm attracted 
to the plain and

Rusty iron. 
Well oiled

Tools old and new to use or decorate with. 

Except during the Holidays.

Bright, shiny sparkles add dimension. The more the merrier. 

Star with a Tail

This is a crystal star, a gift from my grandmother, prompted by mom.

I always think of that carol, Do you see what I see, a star, a star, shining in the night......with a tail as big as a kite.

The 'tail' is artistic liberty. It's my star and I'll give it a tail if I want.

Thanks grandma, you would approve. I miss you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Evergreen Tangled Bangles

make our
light and  
prisms of

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Movie and Songs

Winter Snow and In The Bleak Midwinter are the musical offerings today, with a repeat suggestion of Winter Song.  My new favorite Christmas movie is How About You. Enjoy.



gifts from

friends are

the best.

Even when

the stick arms get broke and need

replaced. They are reminders of

the long history of loving each other.

Paper Stars

Stars make me wonder. They make

me fall in love over and over again

with the Star Breather who had one

shining brightly, marking the spot

where he was born. That star made

many people wonder then,

and still does today. Wonder and

belief make good companions.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Paper Chain

Paper chains are symbolic for me.

Making them is fun. Cheap, colorful fun.

The continuous connection, along with the ability to easily add or take away from the original is what appeals.

One person or many people can work on it. All it takes
is one link to bring the separate sections together.

I like to name that one link, love. One link has the ability to make us one. So simple. So profound.

Book of Comfort

This leatherbound book with
gold leafed pages and a brass
clasp was purchased at a thrift
store for less than a dollar.

It was unwanted and unappreciated.

I found it, bought it and consider
it a priceless treasure.

It has a date of 1857 inside, published in Belfast. It is called "Garden of the Soul" a book for Catholics, which I'm not.

It doesn't matter. It is beautiful, and gardening is my soulish passion?

Being one of many who have held it, is a privilege.

It might have experienced first hand 'The Troubles' in Ireland, immigration, the stress of navigating Ellis Island or possibly the perils of a hard and lonely pioneer life.

I imagine it brought comfort to the hearts and hands of those who held it close.

Pinecone Halleluah


free things

from nature,

then creating


beautiful to


is my way

of shouting hallelujah

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Even when we've been broke,
we have spent money on candles and books.

They both illuminate.

"When the darkness overcomes you my child, light a candle"

(From a book on Haiti, which I've never been able to trace, to give credit to the insightful author)


Snowflakes are interesting to me no matter if they are made from glass, paper or real ice crystals.

Each one is unique.

Snowflake Bentley spent his life
capturing them. It was his life's work and passion.

I would be persuaded to believe in a loving creative Creator if only for the curious and intricate artistry of snowflakes. They entrance me, taking me to a place of instant devotion and worship. They also leave me overcome with the essence of pure love.


Our home is called Cala Sona. It is Gaelic for Haven of Happiness.

I copied it from the name of my favorite B&B in the Scottish Highlands. Arthur, our 80 year old host, gave me permission to use it.

It is NOT happy every minute of every day of the week, month and year. Our family is too real for that fantasy. Our many shadows lurk on the outside for all to see.

But it is it's name, so we come back to remembering what we hope it will be and what it needs to be and what we all want it to be ~ A haven where it's safe to be. A shelter. A harbor. A hideaway. A loving place. A happy place. A forgiving place. A graceful place. Home.

The handmade wrought iron knocker on the door was Craig's first blacksmithing project. It reminds me to knock, seek, ask and find the goodness inside.

Grandma Pearl

These mittens were copied from Grandma Pearl's felt needle case. I have this treasure in my sewing box.

Her donuts were legendary. They were plain and homely, deep fried without being greasy; none of her offspring can replicate them even with the recipe. Dunking them in hot coffee was bliss.

Craig made thin, tender lefse last Saturday which she would have been proud of, but her donuts have no equal. I miss her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When our Candyman Can't

The love seat on the porch is playing dress up.

I always want the front door to be welcoming and inviting.

It feels good when someone knocks on the front door of our house. Like a present......

Presents. We decided not to get each other obligatory presents this year. Even though we have always kept it simple under the tree, many times it falls flat and tastes flat afterwards. Each one of us expressed a feeling of fullness inside; no material object would make any of us feel more loved. When each of us said this in different words, tears filled my eyes. This is the real gift. Satisfied gratefulness. Recognized blessing. No empty holes needing filled. Only satiated fullness.

It hasn't always been this way and probably won't be this way later, but it is a gift right now, 'for such a time as this'.

There is nothing under the tree, wrapped or unwrapped. We did have fun decorating every inch of the house. We have enjoyed a few visitors. A wonderful supper. When Craig gets home on Christmas day from the hospital, we'll try to celebrate a meal together. A ham dinner.

Craig's new knee is a present for all of us this year. He is enduring unbelievable levels of pain, like his body is saying - ENOUGH!

Taking good care of him while he recovers is our gift to him. He is the kind of man who is easy to love because of what he does for all of us girls. Yet, I want him to feel loved for who he is. Selfishly, we will miss all of the ways he cares for us. There will be a gap, a hole. Our life will be handicapped while he rehabs and gets back to normal. We will lose our handy man and candy man for a while. For him, love is an action word. I hope we can reciprocate in the same way.

This will be a caregiving Christmas, the best kind of giving; caring for our candy man.

This isn't about Willy Wonka, it must have been written about Craig:

Who can take a sunrise
Sprinkle it with dew
Cover it in chocolate
And a miracle or two?

The candyman can
Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good

The candyman makes
Everything he bakes
Satisfying and delicious
Talk about your childhood wishes
You can even eat the dishes

Who can take tomorrow
Dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow
And collect up all the cream?

The candyman can cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good
And the world tastes good cause the candyman
Thinks it should

Unlikely Ballerina

This is my favorite Christmas ornament. She makes me smile.

She dances anyways.

She dances in spite of herself.

She dances because she must.

She dances because she was born to dance.

She dances for an audience of one.

She dances to the music inside.

She dances to stay alive.

She dances in the dark.

She dances with tears.

She dances with angel's laughing.

She dances when it hurts.

She dances for joy.

She dances no matter what.

She dances to become real.

She dances alone.

She dances without applause.

She dances above ground.

She dances to feel.

Gulps of Gumption

Tessa had the day off. We curled up in bed for a tri-movie day yesterday. White Christmas, Nativity Story and The Holiday. We alternately laughed and cried. Girl stuff.

Two dogs curled up with us, endless cups of coffee then a long walk with the dogs for intermission. A perfect snow day, inhaling great gulps of gumption with every step and every frame.

'Wintersong' is the music offering for today. Simple and pure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Flight Plan

The innocent seeming sky marshall in the movie 'Flight Plan' almost gets away with it. Almost.
The captain and everyone else is bamboozled by him. He's an official after all.
Lord save us from these dudes in our lives, forgive them. Help us forgive them. Help us know in our knower what is true.

There is a heart marked with indelible ink on the window of our souls. Proof. Truth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stress Relief

If you don't have much money for a date, cuddle without clothes -
it restores
If you are tired and worn out, make love -
it restores
If you need a pick me up better than coffee, kiss a long time -
it restores
If you need comforted, sit close holding hands -
it restores
If you are in pain, caressing carries it away-
it restores
If you are discouraged, take a shower together-
it restores
If you feel disconnected, give and receive a massage-
it restores
If you want to give a gift, give your body-
it restores
If you want a gift, ask for his body-
it restores
If you want to stop the world and get off, take a detour to the bedroom first-
it restores
If you feel dried up, used up and like giving up, passionately make out, park, neck or whatever you used to call it-
it restores
If you need more estrogen or more energy, don't take a pill, have sex-
it restores

If you don't know how or can't remember, learn, practice, ask, teach, study, talk, think creatively, use your imagination, play, discover, explore.

There is a banquet out there for married lovers; no one needs to starve or be malnourished from the one thing in life that is a free gift with so many benefits.

Recently I discovered The Sensuous Wife's blog; she has so much courage. She gives some of us a voice.

Today mom sent me a video of a sedate looking, 87 year old grandma dancing prim and proper with her young dashing grandson. Right in the middle, when it is becoming tedious, she throws up her hands and says with abandon, "I want to Salsa!" She then takes off her proper clothes and takes it up 52 notches adding BAM and electricity to that dance floor. She has panache, pizzazz, chutzpa,
style, finesse, spice, charisma, vibrancy, a valiant heart, enthusiasm and tangible energy. She is still succulent, juicy, wild, daring, playful, feminine, graceful and utterly captivating.

Salsa, girls?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Like Syrup

Thankfulness trickles out like slow, grade A, light amber, pure, maple syrup.

Gratefulness trumps depression.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We call it his NEWny. Craig will be getting a new knee the 23rd. He has had chronic, acute pain for the last year. The Dr. told him he would know when it was time. It's past time.

He is looking forward to this grueling surgery and hard recovery. We hear lots of stories from people who have had it done. Most are successful. A few are horror stories. We are listening to the good stories.

Others have blazed this trail for him to follow. He will be a trail blazer for others.

Sometimes we get to borrow someone else's vision for the future. We try to see how good the other side of the hard circumstance is by seeing it through their eyes, but most of the time we can't know how good it will be. We can't ....................yet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Restore Them

This Christmas, the emotional chaos in the hearts of people we know and love is painful. Their lives are different, they are alone this year because of death or divorce.

They face agonizing loneliness, strangling fear, feelings of rejection, loss, depression, anxiety and abandonment. They must go to plan B or Q or W, without it being their choice. Circumstances aren't coated with frosting and sugar.

"Comes a time on the journey you wonder how you will survive
There comes a time when you're thirsty and so alone you think you might die.
There is a pool in the desert where water flows from fountain and sea
saving water
healing water
flowing over me"

by Steve Hindalong

Real Day

On my way to make coffee, rubbing my eyes and trying to get the hair out of my face this morning I stepped in water covering the kitchen floor. It was dripping out from under the kitchen counter.

Four towels later, that nastiest of all spots was cleaned out. One of the copper pipes had been bumped somehow and the seal was dripping. All the soggy things had to be gone through, some thrown out.

Before calling Craig to see if I should turn off the water main, I made coffee. Coffee helps. Always gives a brighter forecast to the day.

I had invited a friend and her children to come over to decorate cookies and make some Christmas wreaths this morning. I had to go to plan B, then Q, working around my amazing plumber and the mess in the kitchen.

Craig had to tear out down to the sub floor, bleach it, dry it out, make a new shelf base and now he is soldering the pipe again.

My back is out, everyone is on their own for supper. It has been one of those days. Maggie has dug up most of the bulbs planted for spring. I forgot or rather procrastinated emptying the plant pots this fall before it froze. They will crack from freezing with moist dirt still inside.

I canceled a trip to Portland tomorrow, it was too overwhelming to think of, even though seeing old friends sounded wonderful.

This is real life at our house. In the midst of chaos, the take away from this day is a picture of Vivian face first into her sugar and frosting coated cookie, coming up for breath licking her lips and smiling without a care in the world.

Em and her girls were a gift today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Supper History

Tessa's Christmas Dinner was fine. All sixteen showed up dressed to impress. There was a guy for every girl. She spent time on the seating, thoughtfully putting some people together and considerately keeping some apart.

A couple of new friends mixed things up a little. Here is the menu.

Bruschetta with pesto, prosciutto, Gruyere and Parmesan.
Stuffed mushrooms
Demitasse cups with hot mulled cider or crushed peppermint rimmed ginger ale and eggnog

First course:
Iceberg salad wedge with garlic ranch sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts
Vegetable soup
Hot white roll with individual butter dish

Second course:
Stuffed pork loin medallions with grilled apple slices drizzled with apple cream sauce.
Mashed white and sweet potato with balsamic, vanilla, rosemary, butter and cream.

Press Pot coffee
Burnt Creme (Creme Brulee)
Lemon Curd Tart
Molten Chocolate Cake

The last ones out the door left at 11:45.

As they gathered to be seated, I collected every one's cell phone in a basket. Made a few break into a sweat. Even on vibrate, it breaks the spell and fragments the experience of being here now. They might have thought I was being controlling, doing it for me. I was doing it for them, to have an opportunity to experience being fully engaged in the moment - where they were and who they were with. That pile of phones went off and off and off. I should have padded them or stuffed a pillow over the top.

Between the meal and dessert, everyone picked a wrapped present from under the tree. Brita had helped Tessa pick out some hilarious things from the dollar store, which they wrapped beautifully.

I read the story of The Wright family. Each time the word Wright, left or right came up in the story, which was frequently, they had to pass the gift accordingly. It went fast and made everyone laugh.

One of the sweetest gifts Brita gave us both was changing her mind. At first, she said she didn't want to help wait and serve. She ended up being indispensable in the kitchen. Sometimes, when saying no is an option, changing it to yes is really a yes. She had such a yes heart for the entire endeavor. It worked seamlessly because of her generosity.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Supper

Our oldest daughter is having a semi-formal, 4 course, sit down Christmas Supper for 16 of her friends tomorrow night. She is excited, terrified they won't come, scared she'll flounder in pulling it off, while dreaming of it being an epic night for all of them.

I told her this is normal.

When it's all said and done, they will have fun being together and playing dress up for each other.

I'm proud of her for taking the risk, for offering, for planning such a layered event. I hope when she has her own home, she will keep inviting.

She asked me to waitress for her. It will be an honor, and give me an excuse to peep. It will be beautiful because 'when love is in the house, the house is packed'.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Homeless Questions

The front of his shirt proclaimed, 'Africa doesn't need me, I need Africa". It was a video of a couple of young guys traveling through Africa videotaping and documenting their trip.

We went to see "Blindside". The mother shrugs off the comments of her friends when they tell her she has made a huge difference in Michael's life with, "No, he's made a difference in mine".

I am really struggling with issues of giving outside my circle. Troubled about how to give time, money, energy, effort........ myself. Social Justice - the marginalized, the down trodden, the cast offs, homeless and addicted deserve care and a better life.

It would be helpful to talk with someone who has been involved closely, for more understanding. Send them my way if you know anyone.

There are so many questions. I deeply believe in grace - receiving what we don't deserve. I heartily believe in mercy - not getting what we do deserve. I want to have compassion and empathy along with unconditional love. We have received and experienced first hand all of the above - in so many ways from so many sources.

The sticky part is if I sincerely live like I believe in these principals, how does it all fit in with the reality of the natural law of sowing and reaping? If you plant a corn seed, you get a corn plant.......
How does it fit in with the natural law of consequences.? If you do this then, this is what happens......

My heart goes out to homeless people, especially in the winter. Being cold, dirty, stinky, without a bed to sleep in, no socks - it would be horribly difficult. The people I follow on Twitter who know, say food is the last thing they need. Give bus passes, phone cards, socks, rain ponchos, take their picture, help them do laundry, see them-look at them-talk with them, listen to their story.

Homeless shelters this year are overflowing. People stand in line all day for a bed at night. Many are turned away.

Part of me believes they want to live this way. It might not be true since I've never asked. They get a little money every month from social services along with food stamps. They wouldn't be turned away from a hospital. The hard, tough love part of me thinks, 'this is simply a natural consequence of their choices'.
[sound of gavel coming down hard]

Right now, there are hundreds of homeless gay young people dying in the SF Bay area from staff infection eating them alive. The video I watched didn't show the young man's face, but his sores were nasty, his voice so angry, blaming everyone and everything for his plight. What seemed like anger though, was probably raw fear.

Maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Maybe it's not about me/us making a difference, maybe taking action won't change any lives. I have a personal list of complete total failures to prove that one. What if it's me who needs them? Maybe I've always needed them and didn't know it before. Hmm.

River Calling

The sun is shining, the air is crisp and golden, the light is calling me to the river, again. Yesterday, I had my own private aerobatics show overhead, sitting all bundled up on the bank in the sunshine. What would I miss if I stayed away today. Maybe a story is waiting.

I'll be back later this afternoon, right now there's a river calling. Loudly.

Chores, you'll have to wait. Thanks to whoever made crockpots, my family won't suffer tonite.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

At Ease

Our daughter's bedroom is directly above ours. She's an adult now who has strange hours of working and sleeping.

We have always had a lock on our bedroom door, but these days, we use all sorts of things to make noise - the washer/dryer,the bathroom fan, music, etc. We sneak, plan and spy out the land for bedroom time. Ten o'clock at night when we're both tired or five in the morning when I don't know who or where I am doesn't work.

Making love makes noise. The bed makes noise and we make noise. When they were young and unaware, it wasn't an issue. Now, having two adult children in the house is interesting. They know what we're up to. We live in close proximity to each other.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, 'The children of lovers are orphans." Being lovers before parenting has always been our priority. We keep what's happening in the bedroom private, but they recognize the look, the touch, the spark, that kiss; the invitation to the party where they aren't invited.

We are the teenagers, our roles are reversed now. It's us sneaking around, trying not too look eager to have the house to ourselves. Or casually disappearing, only to reappear rumpled, sheepish, happy, relaxed and smiling.

The teasing when they were first becoming aware of their own sexuality used to be tinged with embarrassment, mockery and a few times, disgust. Other times, they crossed the line with ridicule. That's when we sat them down and told them that they weren't allowed to disparage and degrade this lovely part of our lives. It created them and is the good glue holding our marriage and family together.

It was mostly because it made them uncomfortable. We gently helped them become comfortable with themselves and their new awareness of us, carefully and with consideration.

It is common for parents to be ashamed or stop being lovers at this stage in life. Fight it! Look them in the eye! Maybe more descretion is needed, but be bold and unashamed of being lovers.

Now days, as they turn the stereo up or make themselves scarce, it is showing us consideration and courtesy. Adult to adult.

As Brita skipped out the door the other day, somehow knowing we were only too glad to see her leave, she turned and said, "I'm so glad you and dad love each other." She wasn't teasing us or embarrassed. It was a sincere compliment. She is at ease with herself and us.

The greatest gift parents can give their children is loving each other.