Would you take a cookie from a stranger?
Outside our window are a number of bushes. The cold winds of fall-turning-to-winter have stripped all but one of them of their leaves. That one, lone bush, a meeting place for birds, still stands fully-leafed, taller than the other bushes. As I glanced at the bushes this morning, the wind whining around the house, I realized those bushes are the perfect metaphor for the way we choose to react to circumstances in our lives. Some of us lose our leaves, while others stay green and useful. (more…)
The words “thankful” and “gratitude” have popped up in my life quite often over the last weeks. Not long ago, I mentioned that in one of my online groups, every Thursday is Thankful Thursday, a day when we lists things or people for which we are thankful. On her blog, another friend is encouraging her readers to list one thing each day for which they’re grateful. Finally, a few days ago, an online friend posted this saying:
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
Are you seeing a trend here? (more…)
It begins as rain, spits and sprinkles, settling down later to something harder and more deliberate. Errands run, lunch eaten, I settle down to the never-ending struggle to impose order of some sort on papers and miscellany, a book-on-CD inserted into my laptop to keep me company. To the accompaniment of descriptions of luscious food and exotic places, I glance out the window to see the change from fall to winter announcing itself…not permanently (tomorrow will be cold but then the next days warmer)…just that tap on the shoulder announcing: “I’m on the way. Get ready. Find those missing gloves, bring out the hats, make sure your winter coats are clean.”
So glad I did yard work yesterday, although more remains for upcoming warmer days. Three bags of yard detritus stand next to the garbage can for pickup in the morning. Until the beginning of November, each bag of yard waste must carry a stick-on tag, purchased for a bit over $2 at local stores, in order for the city to pick it up. From now until mid-December, pick-up is free. I take advantage of that. As I carry the bags from the garage in the deepening twilight, only a short while after 4 pm, the wind cuts coldly through my sweater. Yet it’s invigorating and makes the lights shining through the window seem even more welcoming. Christmas waits just over the horizon, maybe some cross-country skiing, although we got rid of our old skis when we moved. On Cleveland’s east side, in the snow belt, there are plenty opportunities to sled or ski. In Chicago, not only is there usually not enough snow, there are very few hills. That’s the prairie.
As evening arrives, I pull out my recipes and cookbooks. Soups and stews sound wonderful. I’ve asked for a new 3-quart crockpot for Christmas to replace the one that broke, but in the meantime, there’s the larger one, making enough for several meals and for the freezer, too, if I can carve out enough space. Maybe soon I’ll bring my winter coat up from the basement and hang it in the front closet. Winter is on its way and I’m ready. I’m also looking forward to my January visit to Arizona to see my parents. Winter makes it even more desirable.
Fall colors and winter snow.
More winter, less fall.
Darkness comes early after the time change. The wet snow sticks heavily to everything, pushing dying leaves and fronds to the ground.
The bird apartment (on the right) is getting a covering of snow. Might be time to scatter some bread crumbs. The snow provides a decoration for the bare bush on the left.
Connections are everywhere, between and among many things and people. “Connections” is the theme this week at Ailsa’s “Where’s My Backpack” blog. Here are just a few of the connections I see and love.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
― Chief Seattle
Connections between human and animal
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir
Connections between man and nature
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville
Connections among people and families
When do you dream?
The Philadelphia traffic finally behind, I head west on a modern-day wagon trail. The forests are dressed in a variety of tawny colors, a few daring souls flaunting scarlet or gold. I imagine the pioneers making their ways along narrow paths with nothing but trees in all directions, perhaps some farms here and there, the dirt hard-won in battle with the rocks that in defeat form the stone fences. Through the magic of the modern, I insert another disc and fall back into the world of the Indians that consumed me on my outward trip. “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” batters my soul with familiar names and stories, tales of deceit and murder and promises broken and re-broken, of people hunted to their deaths, women and children slaughtered. Two life styles and value systems on a collision course that doesn’t end well, that highlights greed and a conspicuous lack of honor, themes that echo yet today. One of the men who tries to help is related to an online friend. When I hear his name, I scribble it down on the pad I always have for notes and ideas so that I remember to mention it to her. I wish I knew more about him and those few who dealt in good faith and honor.
Where do you dream?
Thirteen long hours to be filled with…what? I drive, seeing, alert for traffic and possible situations, yet at the same time traveling through the late 1800′s mostly in the western half of the United States, knowing how it will end yet compelled to keep going. By the time I surface, I’m back in Indiana, darkness falling literally as well as metaphorically. Above, in the dark clouds and night ahead, there’s a slender riff, through which a bit of yellow gold shines dimly. I feel as though I’ve been in two places at one time, emotionally wrung out, as if I’d been, if not a participant, at very least an observer. I’ve fallen through that slit into another dimension. Now I need to find how to return. I need another dream; less nightmare, more joyful.
What fuels your dreams?
A short space of no emotion. I need something soul-restoring. I reach for “In Tuscany”, the not-exactly-a-sequel to “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Bella Tuscany.” The rift now opens to that mixture of old and new that is Italy. Stories of olive-picking, of choosing cheeses and wines, of shared, hours-long dinners with friends, of restored homes and restored lives, of laughter and love and family. Dreams of someone else that call me back. Heal me. Pull me through the darkness towards home. Make me want to find my own dreams once again.
Arriving tired, somewhat disoriented from my awake-dreaming, happy from time spent with a daughter and from being home with my husband, I fall in bed after eating and awaken to dreary, sullen skies and pouring rain, to bills and laundry and applesauce-making.
Time for new dreams for a new day.
Having done quite a lot of traveling in the last year, I’ve once again been thinking about driving: what makes it pleasant and what doesn’t. You’ve heard about “rules of the road”. Well, put that on its head and let’s look at some “rudes of the road.” I’ve seen all of these much too often recently and perhaps you can identify with one or more. Here they are, in no particular order.
For the rude driver wannabe, here are my suggestion, based on a much-too-close
study of drivers over the years:
1. Never ever use your blinker/signal or if you do, don’t use it until you’ve actually made the move. Why let anyone know in advance? That would spoil the surprise.
2. At night, when approaching another car, be sure to use your brights as long as possible.
3. If I’m not driving fast enough for you, please get as close to the back of my van as possible. That really makes me want to go faster. In fact, if you just get into the back, you’ll save gas!
4. Be sure not to use your cruise control if you have one. It’s so much more fun if you takes turns speeding up and passing me, then slowing down so that I have to pass you and speeding up as I attempt to do so. Then drop back almost out of sight before hitting the gas and steadily getting right behind me. I especially like it if you try to pass (but not too fast, mind you), right as I approach the back of a truck, forcing me to either pull out or hit the brake.
5. If a sign says that your lane is going to end in a mile, be sure not to move over until you have 10′ left before crashing. Of course, everyone already in the correct lanes will be happy to have you push in front of them, again preferably without signalling. If there’s a crash, it couldn’t possibly your fault.
6. If driving in town, please crank your music up as loudly as possible, then open your windows so that we can all hear. It’s even more fun if your bass not only shakes your car but mine, too, and drowns out what you might think consider melody and lyrics.
(I have to confess to several times turning up classical music as loudly as possible when next to someone doing this (without looking at them, of course), much to the chagrin of our younger daughter.)
Addendum: 7. When you pass me and no one else is around, please pull in as soon as possible, preferably less than a car-length away, so that I have to hit my brakes. To make it even better, slow down just enough that I have to pass you and start the entire cycle over again. (Thanks for the reminder, Adam.)
How does your driving make me feel? Here’s a hint.
I’m by nature a morning person who enjoys being up early. But there are days, such as this morning, when I wish I could lie in bed for a time, that I could wake up, stretch, roll over and go back to sleep. Just until 7am. Is that asking too much?
Evidently so. Once my eyes open, my brain seem to think that license enough to begin racing around—the latest praise song for church, what I need/want to do today, how many people visited my blog last night and so forth. I’m doomed and get up not much later.
I’m re-reading another Philip R. Craig mystery, Death on a Vineyard Beach, and came upon this:
Fishing is good for the soul, and mine felt like it needed some TLC right at the moment.
My question for you is: what do you do when your soul needs some TLC?
I tend to (in no particular order): pray, read, make a pot of tea, go out for a walk (away from people if at all possible), clean something, get out in nature, have some chocolate, write, or look at something beautiful. A combination of any of those things is even better. Of course, a hug and a willing ear from my husband or a good friend are a big help,too.
What about you? What heals your soul? I’m asking because I’d like to know, so please leave a comment and let’s have a conversation.
“Libraries are some of my favorite places. They’re filled with books and information and give you the good feeling that no matter how much you’ve read there’s an endless amount of reading material still ahead of you, so you never have to worry about running out. It’s a nice certainty in an uncertain world.”
Cliff Hanger, Philip R. Craig
Libraries are one of our nation’s richest treasures, places where anyone can go and learn almost anything. You may use a computer there if you don’t own one. You may borrow an e-reader or check out a virtual book. You may read magazines, find movies, check out music. No matter the method, you can discover the world. Library levies are the only tax increases I vote for these days. I can’t imagine my life without libraries and books and if I had to buy all the books I read, my husband and I would both have to work two jobs each. The discussion of books vs. Kindles or other e-readers isn’t a discussion that interests me. I love real books and I love being able to take thousands of books with me in my purse. I love to read and I love whatever facilitates reading.
That so many children get passed through grade after grade without ever learning to read is one of our greatest shames.