October 25, 2012 § 7 Comments
December 29, 2011 § 12 Comments
Kids returned to their respective homes: Jack the Dog went home with Nor and D, of course and Snarl headed back to his studio miles away. Mom is back at her house. The sun is out.
Christmas is still everywhere.
I have even thought this morning that there are some corners in some of the rooms that even now, even still could use some Christmas decoration. But I stay my hand.
There is never too much Christmas spirit.
Time to pause and walk around the house, something I rarely get to do this time of day. (on vacay this week.)
Thinking of all of you with whom I share comments and creativity and stories and wishing you a continuing joyous season and Happy New Year…and also that you could be here for some coffee and pie.
Pictured below, the DR and the large mossy wreath is the one HM “won” at auction at the Botanical Garden.
August 10, 2011 § 8 Comments
Me and HM, running down the road, no outside noise can get into the car unless we invite in tunes, text or t mobile.
Between here (the Gateway) and Chicago (the Big Windy), there is all the flatness you can imagine, Big Flat that’s full of corn and poles and windmills (those elegant greeners) and tiny old buildings heaped upon themselves, mere dots in the midst of lowgrowing green.
Expansive. There are crow’s miles out there. Who’s gonna run out for some milk? Maybe underage drivers at the wheel of big red rusty trucks hauling across the open fields, rooster tails of dust blowing behind them, their moms in the kitchen looking out proudly after them.
I dunno, but it’s beautiful in a non-impactful way, in an open space vs urban decay way, beautiful like thoughts one has during rest, meditation, prayer…a prairie prayer…
April 22, 2011 § 16 Comments
It’s Good Friday.
Amazingly, it’s a corporate “floating” holiday.
It is moreover a day wrought with spiritual symbolism, full of darkness and imminent light.
It’s dark on this Midwest morning as I ponder atoning for not having written all week.
The sound of the laptop keys is… annoying, actually.
It’s a pen and paper day.
A silly day to run errands and do all those make-up tasks that working families don’t typically get to during the week.
I gaze around the kitchen, at the floor that needs a scrubbing, at this table that wants a lovely cloth over its heirloom mottled wood-ness.
In spite of the wind and constant spit of rain, there is a suburban mower at work; the machine drones like a drill.
I’ve already put in a load of laundry.
Work? (there’s tons of it piled up here). No, I’ll sweep it away to the desk upstairs.
Here at the kitchen counter, we’ll make lists for Easter dinner and the baskets. Of course we’ll do baskets! HM will deliver a basket to Snarl at university next Tuesday. Snarl will laugh and say all that sugar is awful. He’ll eat the contents nonetheless, sharing with friends. Nor will have hers with some Eastery plushness.
At church there will be lilies.
It will be good to see them, to smell them, to embrace Easter from the hardness of the church pew.
HM will wake up the kitchen.Nor will come home very early from her fiance’s parents’ house. My mom will share the afternoon and dinner with us, too. We will get outdoors, no matter the mood of M. Nature.
Easter is the wonderful thing about Spring.
February 11, 2011 § 10 Comments
To my cousin Sam with whom I grew up and who lives now in Florida, I offer up these ice-y pictures.
Yes, there’s beauty in wicked frozen Winter, but truly, living with it for weeks at a time,we become inured to it after a certain amount of early mornings shoveling, chipping, scraping and sliding around, on foot and in the cars.
…and then you witness a downy little bird on the bench or the furniture that is otherwise ice-bearded and yet you marvel at even their claw feet that somehow seem immune to the cold.
The frozen little “fir” tree that stands sentry at the front porch was crispy and in the wind, rattled and threatened to smash into a million little fir pieces…but it didn’t.
And the cardinals have a way of making snow look fabulous, even romantic, with their red crests a sharp silhouette against the snow. and for a moment you recall the holidays but you’re on the other side of Xmas songs and snow, and you realize with relief that Spring is just around the corner.
From left to right: 1958…Me, my (big) brother Barry, and our cousins Sandy (Sam), Greg and David. Betsy, the 4th cousin, would come along soon! Oh, and note the long sled.
Yup, this is when we REALLY loved winter and got out in it every chance we could, bungling clothes notwithstanding.
December 28, 2010 § 6 Comments
It’s brilliant outside. Sun on snow. Snow melting in some places and blowing off the branches in others.
It’s brilliant inside. No schedule. No must-dos. Just thank you notes, which I look forward to doing as I also ponder making something luscious to eat. I do not ponder food during work weeks. This is bliss.
And making tea. I’m making a pot of peppermint but will totally honor individual requests…because you’re invited.
December 13, 2010 § 20 Comments
The Virtual Advent tour first started five years ago when Kailana of The Written Word and Marg at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader wondered why the kids should have all the fun of opening a box on the advent calendar and finding a treat in there, and how could they create some blogging fun with a similar concept? So the Virtual Advent tour was born.
Each day participants take turns sharing a treat with friends here in blogland. Maybe it’s about family traditions, recipes, a country’s holiday traditions, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, book, song…anything. In fact, it’s for all holidays celebrated this time of year. Click on the Reindeer Tag to the right to see other wonderful sites to visit during this blog-ventful tour!
1) Reading aloud A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Dickens has been a family tradition for more than 17 years, from when Snarl was 4 and Nor,9. It began when we moved to STL. We’d begin after Thanksgiving, cozied around the fireplace, HM and I taking turns reading. And then Nor wanted to participate. Snarl , always opting for parity, caught on by the third year in part because he’d already memorized some of it. But his “fake” reading turned to real reading right before our eyes. Thank you, Mr. Dickens, for growing a story that wraps up a family in holiday meaning and spirit from Stave I to Stave 3’s last famous line “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”
2) Decorating the mantle. I didn’t realize ’til just this evening what a tradition this is. I was going for “elegant” this year, sort of “stripped down” in terms of appearance, using only white and gold, more of a designer look. It didn’t work. I found it cold.
So I’ve gone back, popped the lights onto the mantle, and added the lovely flotsam and jetsma of Xmases past and present that makes it warmer. Spirited. Maybe romantic.
3) We also WATCH Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Yes, we read it, but we also watch it. OK, sometimes it’s on as background, but it’s there.We did, during the VHS era, own every version at that time. Now in DVD world, we are once again working the collection though we are all, oddly, loathe to add the Jim Carey version. Haven’t fallen in love with that one yet..
And this is the time of year we refer to HM as “Fezziwig.” It’s his innate merriness and willingness to set aside the mundane and celebrate the season. And he specializes at pouring the ‘nog and setting out trays of nibblies.
4) These are not in order. I forgot to mention Black Friday when Nor and I head out early to the stores. We go without lists; we go to stroll, see what strikes us, observe, get ideas and enjoy. We might buy a new Christmas decoration or jigsaw puzzle. We might stumble across the perfect gift for someone.Then we go out to breakfast.
5) Wreathmaking! We take a “class” yearly at the Botanical Garden where you show up looking a little holiday-ish if you like and are given everything needed, along with a lesson and tips on creating a gorgeous all-natural wreath. This year, needing to attend a weeknight rather than weekend class, we were out in the proverbial “middle of nowhere” at one of MoBot’s locales, at a hunting lodge. It was like something out of a movie, lit inside with Christmas lights, smelling of pine and fir, a huge table to work at and buckets of natural branches and grasses to use in our wreaths. And at one point during the evening, 30 strangers making wreaths burst into song. Loved it. We took my Mom this year as well. (see why we call HM “Fezziwig?”)
6) Concerts at the Cathedral have long been a family fave but our beloved Cathedral music director recently moved to Philly (much to his good professional fortune) and so we have turned elsewhere for finding Christmas music and entertainment. But there will be at least once if not several trips to the Cathedral nonetheless.
I don’t intend to bore or cause a snore; yet I could stitch together more little stories, so many moments about setting up our creche and missing the shepherd who must have wandered off; of hanging up the stockings and trying to figure out whose is whose; of inadvertently opening the wrong window on the advent calendar and having to then swtich places or lose a turn in line; of staying up to wrap and seeing the Christmas Eve service in Rome…
That is the blessed things about each family, right? There are so many things, so many expressions and phrases, so many foods and fun things that happen year long and then whoosh, it’s Christmas when every loving detail is heightened, and everything takes on that rich friends-and-family patina, that shine of love.
To you and yours, a very Merry Christmas!
To you and yours, the happiest of Holidays!
October 29, 2010 § 7 Comments
The Monday night pattern goes kinda like this: leave office, check bag for journal and green pen en route to car in parking lot, toss bag into back seat, climb in and head to Mom’s, stopping on way to pick up pizza or soup or giant salads.
Mom and I carve out Monday evenings to eat, relax and then go to our journaling class.
It’s a very unstructured gathering. No assigned seats, no desks, no blackboard.
There are huge tables for us to sit and spread out our stuff. There are more than a dozen affable class members, and the facilitator is adept at drawing people out, getting them to tell stories even if they didn’t write in their journals that week. She has no hardcore plan yet she has great anecdotes, good ideas and some hidden clock that has her wind up each time after about an hour.
Why does anyone go to such a class?
To find out what the heck journaling is or might be
To hear about journaling techniques
To share their own stories
To hear and/or see what other people are doing in terms of journaling
For opening doors
Out of curiosity
To measure how they’re doing, in the grand scheme of things and possibly, in the writing world
And, the class is free.
This week while we were eating dinner, Mom opened her journal at the table and passed it to me.
“Go ahead, read what I wrote for class tonight,” she said.
What? “Really? I can read this, Mom?”
She hesitated. “Of course it’s difficult to read my handwriting,” she said.
“That’s ok, I’ll figure it out.” (This from the daughter who once tried forging her mom’s loopy signature for an excuse in high school – it was nearly impossible.)
I read quietly and coming to the end of her entry on its third page (she wrote a lot!), I laughed, delighted.
“What do you think?” she said.
What to tell her? Same thing I’ve always told her – the truth. “I like it. You had fun. This just works..so well. You need to read it out loud at class.”
“I couldn’t do that,” she said.
“You can. You should.”
She laughed, rose from the table and took the dishes to the kitchen.
She wasn’t going to discuss it further. That window had opened and closed.
I saw it, though, before she turned away. I saw that glimmer that comes when people start writing, people who might have always wanted to write but hadn’t done so before, and now they were.
We arrived at class, our fourth class in the session already, in time to sit with several of Mom’s friends. Four of them had signed up for the class as well. They couldn’t quite figure what I was doing there, but accepted that it was a mother-daughter thing. Because people were at least nod-hello friendly, the group was opening up and several were ready and eager to tell what they’d written about, if not actually read aloud.
“J-, let’s begin with you this evening. Did you try one of the writing exercises and would you like to read it aloud?” the facilitator asked Mom.
Mom was surprised and pleased to be asked. Tinkled pink. She opened her journal, then looked up at everyone to make her disclaimer. (I have found that most people, when asked to read, will disclaim in some way, explaining the story or telling what they didn’t accomplish that they had hoped to. Or, they may go in the other direction, exclaiming at how pleased they are with the piece, hoping to infect everyone with their joy.)
Mom explained that she had chosen a particular exercise but did not follow its format.
Then she began to read. Her voice was immediately part of the story. We fell into what she was describing, curious the whole while to see how or what she would do with the piece.
And suddenly, she came to a grand little ending, and the whole thing was well recieved. She beamed.
Oh yes, she was getting it now. The writing bug. The power of the pen to tell a story.
Others volunteered to read following her.
The class facilitator gave us several journal-y exercises before we left class. Though I’m not sure, I suspect Mom will jump on one or two of them this weekend.
We have both, however, agreed to take the same line to write about, a piece about one of our beloved family members and our adventures on his farm years ago.
We may each read next week, same line – but different stories, I’ll bet.
The line is: “Uncle Oscar went out to the barn to hitch up the horses.”
Actually, I started on it six pages ago in my journal and still writing. One of the true beauties of a journal? No editing required.
THINGS LEARNED IN THIS JOURNALING CLASS SO FAR…
1) Record the date and where you are as you write each journal entry. I’ve been writing in journals for years and for some reason, had completely overlooked timestamping and “placing” each entry. Not only is it part of the fun, but I also realize that during the work week, I get to Starbucks often enough to sit and write. (yeah, ok, and have a coffee.)
2) How to better listen to the many many stories in a room; how some stories “match” the teller and others seem so distant from what they’re relating.
3) The importance of “owning” the journal. It’s not just a flat notebook. It speaks in many ways, from the texture of the paper to the design on the cover. I have only recently realized that I can customize any journal in which I’m writing rather than sticking to all the trumped up pretty journals.
4) Ink-ing along on the page on a “non-writerly” day is better than forsaking the writing altogether that day.
5) Writers love (writing) exercises.
April 4, 2010 § 20 Comments
May 25, 2009 § 17 Comments
Eight at the table….
Tweleve bottles of cold beer
Dozens of stories
Cameras are off
hellos and goodbyes
all of it stretching
across all the years
hear the hum
door is open