Friday, August 31, 2012

Change the Scene


Five minute Friday. Where we write with our hearts, not our heads. Five minutes. This weeks topic:


Change

I walk into the room where the guys are watching a movie. The scene, a good-bye, a heart rending, tearing away good-bye, and tears fill my eyes. I don't even know who these characters are, don't even know the story-line, and my heart overflows my eyes.

I don't do well with good-byes. Or change, for that matter. I prefer steady, sure, solid. Like the California ground that would swell and shake and jolt, knocking me off my feet, making it impossible to get around our bed to the crib where our daughter slept, change rocks my foundation and makes it difficult for me to navigate my path.

Perhaps, the thing with change, is losing the bigger perspective. I want the here, the now, the comfortable, the familiar to stay here and now and comfortable and familiar. But it never does. You'd think I'd know that by now. Seasons. Change. Kids grow up. Change. Age. Change. Health. Change. Really, though, we don't want our kids to stay three or thirteen or thirty. We want them to grow, to develop, to mature. A job change, a promotion, new skills to learn, those are good things. A move to a new house, the change of scenery puts a freshness on a home. Brings life.

Yes, I cry when change knocks on the door. But once the ground stops heaving, I can move forward, embracing the change, learning and growing with it. See the bigger perspective.



Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finished!

I finished my short novel this morning!
Thirty-one short chapters, telling the story of a month in a life.


                   THIRTY-ONE

                     A NOVEL


Well, I say finished. Hah. Finished writing? 

Next up: the editing, the polishing, the additional research, the "does-it-make-sense?" questions, the re-reading, the look-in-from-the-outside perspective (a tough challenge), the re-writing, the filtering, editing the re-writing, perfecting (well, a goal, anyway).

No, my writing will never be done. But that is part of the fun, right?



go to thenester.com, to see her October thirty-one day series

Monday, August 27, 2012

Roots

Living in a rental creates two problems for me. Hanging pictures and putting plants in to the ground.

Here, I have yet to hang very many pictures. Most of them are still in boxes under the stairs.

new growth on the snowball bush
I did decide to take a big step and move my perennials out of their pots and in to the ground. They will do better through the winter in this climate, there are good places for them here, the owners specifically said I could plant whatever I wanted, and it gives me roots. Makes me feel planted, grounded, in a place to stay and grow and live and flourish. Here.

This weekend, the local nursery was having a sale. Russian Sage does really well here in Colorado. Many of the houses have one or two of these, and they bloom spring to fall. We bought two, and a buddlea, or butterfly bush. Normally, in a rental, I wouldn't want to buy and plant permanent plants like these, but here, I want the roots.
Russian Sage

Zelda
Those of you who know me, will be surprised at my new friend. Zelda. She shows up often when I am working in the back yard. Friendly, she tilts her head and looks at me. Looks funny. Now you know I am crazy. Talking to a lizard and giving her a name.

Accepting her is part of living in this high desert climate. Putting down roots, here.

Autumn Sedum. This is its third house, here it will stay

Sunday, August 26, 2012

By the River



"And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."

Ezekiel 47:12

"And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." 

Revelation 22: 1-2

joining with Deidra and the Sunday Community for a quiet Sunday


Friday, August 24, 2012

Join a Hand of Friendship

Five Minute Fridays. A topic, provided by Lisa Jo, the gypsy mama. We write, a mostly unedited five minutes, then share with each other. Click on the links to go see what other gals write - enjoy!
This week, JOIN.


"Welcome, come in." The gal, standing at our door, weighted down with an armload of food, was unknown to me. I knew her face from church, but not her name. We introduced ourselves. Our kids crowded around, excited to see what food she had brought. They were always interested in food. One of the girls was holding our new baby, three days old. He was introduced, too.

She brought cornbread, a giant pot of bean soup, delicious with ham chunks. The kids loved it. Still make a version of the recipe, today.

The kids showed off their goats, their dogs, their cats, their chickens, their rabbits, talking a mile a minute, all of them, at her at once. If I knew what I know now about her, her reserved temperament, I would have made them give her a little more space.

"I am an artist," she said. "Could I come back sometime, and paint the goats? I would just sit up in the barn , sketch them, do some watercolors. I wouldn't be any trouble, you could ignore me." Which is really what she wanted, to be left alone, not swarmed by a hive of kids.

"Of course. We would love to have you do that, although the kids would like to watch. Would you mind if they watched?"

"No, I guess that's OK."

So, she came back. Time and time again. The kids posed for her, she painted them. She painted all the animals. She painted the baby on the floor, months later, on his sheepskin, eating cheerios with his chubby little fingers. I still have that drawing, and some of the others.

The woman at my door that day was from a completely different circle than mine. She had no children. Her quiet life looked vastly distant from mine. Yet she volunteered to bring this new mommy a meal, and enough for all the other hungry mouths. She stepped out of her world, willing to join mine, to offer cornbread and bean soup, and a hand of friendship. A hand of friendship that has been joined strong ever since.

Five Minute FridayAnd that baby? He is seventeen, graduated from high school, driving a car, and looking for work. Wasn't it just yesterday he was little, and my soon to be friend knocked on our door?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Other Me

Our local library is an easy walk away. Down the block, a right turn, a quick left, then right on the dirt road across a big field full of prairie dogs, that chirp at us as we go by. We have never had the luxury of living so close to a library and we are taking full advantage of it with several trips there every week.

For our youngest, now that school has started up again, I do a unit study approach in addition to his math, reading and language. From the library, we check out books on a certain topic that cover science or history or biography. We read them together, and do related projects. This week, we're studying clouds, next week, storm chasing.

On Monday, at the library, there was a mom with her son. She was patient, calm, and quiet with him. Not library quiet, gentle, peaceful quiet. Together, they searched and found several books to check out. I could imagine them snuggled on the couch, together at home, reading, talking, laughing, learning.

She watched while he played a reading skills game on the library's computer. He appeared to be older than the basic level reading he was doing on the computer. But she was patient. Calm. They sat close, seemed to be very close, not just in proximity, laughing, working together. She helped him sound out words, let him figure things out the long way, the slow way.



And I wished it was me, there with him, not the impatient, frustrated, fast-paced version of myself.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Better Writing?

Would I write better if I had a moleskine journal or an econote or a yellow pad of paper? As I study writing, it makes me uncomfortable to see how many writers refer to their moleskines, or their econotes, or their yellow pads.

 Didn't even know what those were. Had to go to Barnes and Noble to see what they were talking about. Felt uneasy with the price tags. If this is what "real writers" are using, should I be using them too?

I use inexpensive spiral notebooks for my journals. Not the very cheapest, but a particular size I am comfortable holding, stuffing in my purse or carrying in my beat-up briefcase, using every day. Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down the Bones, tells of buying the cheapest spirals, a year's worth, at the beginning of the school year when the supplies are all on sale, and filling one a month. She literally fills her pages, no margins, no headers, writing all over the pages. To me, it was refreshing to read that, to no longer be intimidated by someone with "better" supplies.

The nicer notebooks I do have were all gifts, for which I am very grateful. What I put in them, my gifts list, my short story ideas, my blog post sketches, won't be any better because they are written in beautiful books.

I remember reading about Jonathan Edwards, the revival preacher and theologian of the seventeen hundreds. He wrote his powerful sermons on envelopes, letters he received, any piece of paper he could find, and he wrote sideways and across the page, both sides, to make the most of each piece of paper. If I tried that, I don't think I could ever figure out what I had written. No idea how he managed with the long-hand flowing script they used. His words, his writings, have been effective across centuries, no matter what they were written on.

After all, the heart of the matter is to do the work. Whether it is writing or gardening or sewing or cooking or designing a building, the true work is in the art, the beauty, the soul behind the creativity. Good tools help, yes. For me, a big step in traveling lighter came when I accepted the tools I have, and understood that the creativity comes from me, not some magic from using a special notebook. 

I do love the feel of a fresh piece of paper. Raw material. Potential. Expectancy. What will unfold? What words will flow on to this page? What discoveries? The beauty of an empty page, waiting to be filled.

What do you use?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Be Still My Soul



"Be still my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Thru' thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

Katharina von Schlegel
translated by Jane L. Borthwick

joining Deidra and others for a quiet Sunday

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's A Stretch

Friday Five (on Saturday). The topic this week, Stretch.
Five Minutes, unedited (well, almost).

It is a stretch to believe life could be different than it is, circumstances changed, goals accomplished, dreams achieved, projects completed, characters matured, learning achieved.

It is an even deeper stretch to believe that life could be different, here and now, without circumstances changing, with people as they are, by changing MY attitudes, MY heart. That's why I keep the gifts list.

It is a stretch to reach out for life, to grasp the love needed to pull through the tough challenges, to meet that wall and plow through it. Our son and daughter are running a half-marathon this weekend. The wall. The will to keep going, to keep moving, one step at a time. And at the end, a feel-good stretch. Because they did it.

At the end, for me, I want there to be that feel-good stretch. Because I did it. Because I took the steps, because I changed and learned and grew my heart, my attitudes. Because I stretched.


Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aloe Vera

Do you have an aloe vera?

This plant, with its fleshy, slightly spiny arms is an easy houseplant. It can go outside in the summers if you live in a wintry climate.

At our previous house, the tenants before us left an old, scraggly looking plant. I stuck the pot in a corner, but watered it once in awhile, because - hey - it's a plant and I love plants.

Ignored, it did its thing, tucked away, out of sight. Until one day. Our then eleven year old son decided to test the stove top, one of the flat, smooth, electric types. Did the "still warm" red light really mean that it was still hot? I had just turned off the burner. His hand sizzled. The palm was bright red, with a half-dollar sized blister on the edge. I ran out to the ugly aloe, snapped off one of its fat leaves and broke it open. I spread the sticky goo thickly all over his palm. The pain relief was immediate. I wrapped it loosely the first day to keep a thick layer covering his palm. He is right handed, he burned his left hand. Didn't even miss any school work because of a bad hand. Too bad.

I tried not to ask him, "What were you thinking?" But it came out.
"I wanted to see if it was actually hot."
"That's why they put that little red warning light on there until it cools off. So you won't touch it."
"Well, now I know that."

In two days, his hand was no longer pink, and the blister had reabsorbed into the skin without popping and leaving a raw mess. Amazing. I resolved at that time to always have an aloe vera plant.

Then we moved, and the big scraggly aloe stayed behind. It would freeze here.

This weekend, at our daughter's house to celebrate her three year old's birthday, I noticed she had several aloe plants on her front porch. Note to self - buy an aloe.

At Home Depot I bought a small one, with a small pot. It will sit on the stair rail wall, a low maintenance plant to provide a spot of green. Hopefully we won't need it. But if we do, it will be there.

The Sunset Western Garden Book says they are also "good for sunburn, insect bites, inflammation, and a host of other ills." This is not endorsed by the FDA, or whatever it is I am supposed to say at this point. I know from personal experience, though, for burns, aloe vera really does work.

Do you have an aloe vera? You should.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

They Will Know






"Then they will know
that I am the Lord."

Ezekiel 35:15 (and about a hundred other verses)

joining Deidra and others for a quiet Sunday

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alive and Connected

Five Minute Fridays, Lisa Jo gives us a topic, and we write. Five minutes, go with the flow. Write. Right.
This week, Connect.
Go.

The question was asked, "When do you feel the most alive?"

Our seven month old grandson fussed and squirmed, restless, unsettled, complaining. I feel that way, sometimes, too.

His dad asked, "You want to try?" The little guy was fed, changed, should have been comfy, ready to play on the floor awhile. But no, it was grumpy, fussy time.

"Of course I'll take him." In my arms, he twisted around, banged his head on my shoulder. I took him out the back door, closed it behind us. Closed away the conversation, the country music playing, the dolls and doll clothes strewn all over the living room floor. His six year old sister was absorbed with my old dolls, the four I have saved, squirreled away for just this, along with the pile of doll clothes my mom sewed for them on her little black Singer machine. Delighted, she sorted and checked sizes and tried to decide who would wear what while four naked babies waited on the floor.

Out the door, we, my grandson and I, stepped on to the concrete pad, no railings, three steps down. He paused right in the middle of a grumpy gurgle. I sat on the top step, my feet on the next step down. He stood between my legs, balanced by my hands, his weight square on his little feet, his legs solid and strong.

Not another complaint from him. How long did we sit out there? Quite awhile. His dad peeked out the door to check on us once, but we were fine. Very fine.

We watched the birds flutter around, squabbling over which tree they would settle in for the night. We watched the clouds. We talked about the sky, how big and blue and beautiful it is. We saw the trees, their branches swaying, moving, swinging, their leaves turning over in the wind. We watched the sunflowers glow in the evening sunshine, reflecting the sunlight back to its source. He chewed his fingers and drooled and looked and gurgled and bounced on his legs as we watched the evening draw its arms in around us, together, connected.

We saw bigger, darker clouds roll across the sky. We felt a few fat raindrops. We watched the birds begin to settle in, fewer of them darting around. We were quiet, peaceful, happy, calm, settled.

Together, both of us, connected with each other, connected with the beauty around us.

And I felt truly alive.



Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Turn It Over


Our grandson's little Onesie with The Very Hungry Caterpillar crawling on it (carrot stains included), reminded me of a poster I saw in photos of Eric Carle's (the author and artist) studio. In letters, creatively scripted in his characteristically colored torn paper collages, it said,
"You cannot plow a field 
by turning it over
in your mind."
 The farmer's calloused hands do not come from resting them in his lap on the porch swing.

The painter's splattered overalls do not happen while he watches television.

The skilled hands of the neurosurgeon do not learn their expertise from holding a fork.

The intricate stitches of the knitter do not knit themselves while she sleeps.

The powerful blending of the orchestration does not happen without hours of practice.

A baby's developing skills take hours and hours of repeated movements. He lies on the floor, kicking his feet, waving his arms, stretching and working and moving as he learns to turn over. The "want to" is there, in his mind, you can see it. But he has to work it out, through his muscles, putting the energy into the effort to make it happen. The amount of work is exhausting, and sometimes frustrating.

A working plan means exactly that. Work the plan. Planning does not the work accomplish. A plan of work.

All the goals and dreams and thoughts and plans will not happen without the work, the motion, the energy to accomplish them. Little by little. Day by day. One wiggle, one squirm, one effort at a time. One day, soon, he will be crawling and sitting up by himself. And then, on to new skills. My plans and goals will be accomplished the same way, one effort, one day at a time. New skills added to old skills. By effort, not by dreaming.

The farmer plows and plants and prays for rain.

The painter climbs the ladder and tapes the trim and rolls the paint across the walls.

The neurosurgeon studies the books and continually learns.

The knitter tries new patterns, pulls out the stitches and re-works them until it is right.

The orchestra practices individually, for hours, then together, more hours.

The baby laughs and often cries as his body learns and grows.

All of us, learn and grow and change, with effort. Sometimes laughing. Sometimes with tears.

"For the dream comes through much effort..."
Ecclesiastes 5:3


Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Will Not Forget




"Can a woman forget her nursing child,And have no compassion on the son of her womb?Even these may forget, but I will not forget you."

Isaiah 49:15

joining Deidra and others for a quiet Sunday

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Magic Fruit Cobbler

Do you have lots of fruit, maybe from a Farmer's Market, or local summer bounty?
This recipe, from Set for Life, by Jane P. Merrill and Karen M. Sunderland, works well for bowls of fresh fruit. The recipe calls for canned fruit, but it's easy enough to exchange it for fresh. We had a bowl full of fresh cherries, waiting to be put into a yummy recipe.

2 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached flour (may use half whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 - 4 cups canned fruit, slightly drained,
or fresh fruit (blueberries, apricots, peaches, cherries, etc.)

Melt the margarine in a 9 x 11 baking dish while oven preheats. With a wire whip, mix together milk, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Remove pan from oven. Tilt to spread margarine evenly in pan. Pour batter over melted margarine. Do not stir.

Pour fruit evenly over batter. Do not stir.
Bake uncovered, 325 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is brown.

Ah, summer!