Billow and blow…

IMG_2028.jpeg

Tonight, I listen to the rushing sound of the creek just down the path from my back door. Soothing, I love the way the night winds stir up the curtains, making them billow and pucker in the breezes. Those breezes touch my hands, anoint my feet and I reflexively grab my throw blanket. Even with the world falling to pieces, in a way, spring arrives and reminds us to hope. Do not give up. Hope.

IMG_2046.jpeg

Even while waiting in exile away from others, here in the middle, waiting, knowing it’s coming and will touch us all, we can enjoy beauty. The sighing of the evening wind that swoops and dips around our house, apartment, farm or condo. Open a window. Let in the freshness, even if the day is a mite chilly or cold. We can celebrate spring and dare to hope as the leaves thrust out their new shoots.

IMG_2054.jpeg

We have the sweetest creek running down a huge hill from our backyard, and I’ve never had the pleasure of going down to see her. Today, I decided was the day. My husband said I would slip and fall, and what does he know? So I picked my way past honeysuckle bushes turned green, buttercups all yellow and waiting to be picked, down to the little tiny creek, and oh! was it steep. I did slip on moss and my foot fell into the creek, but I laughed in spite of myself and went as far as I dared.

IMG_2058.jpeg

Isn’t that little waterfall gorgeous? I knew if I didn’t get down there and quick, the bushes would prevent my passage, and so I did. The creek talks to herself and I stood on old stones listening. Peace. No thoughts of how I have to stay in the house now. No thoughts of my loved ones so far from me. Will we be okay? Are we as ready as we can be here? And still the world goes on. The creek babbled along, talking about promises and of a new spring and then someday summer. It will still happen.

IMG_2068.jpeg

I think of not seeing my parents. My grandson. And of my son, in his junior year of university, holed up here, studying until his brain feels like it cannot take another single fact, and not being able to blow off the steam in a bar full of friends and pretty girls and dancing. We all are sacrificing, but I think it’s for good. I choose to believe that. Can we try to find the good in the people out there? Some are rotten as a dying tree. But most are like us, waiting, hoping, praying. We want peace. Happiness. Is that too much?

IMG_2071.jpeg

I have hope in us. We will emerge wanting to get away from computers and tv.s. We will put down our phones and we will connect. Today, when I ambled and partly tumbled down the hill, I heard the birds chattering, going about building their nests, preparing for life. I could hear the children farther up the creek laughing and playing. When I made my way carefully back uphill, the water gurgled and spoke. The breeze blew my hair about, and I listened. Just stopped and stayed. I had no where else to be. Why not linger and look at the trees, the beguiling sky that always mesmerizes me? Why not just be?

IMG_2091.jpeg

I cannot make a great offering for the world. I only have my words. And tonight I hear my son laughing with friends, online upstairs. Harry Potter is on the tv, on mute though, which is my go-to default for coziness. And the back door opens to the most delightful porch, so I hear the wind and even the creek. When I sleep, I leave a window open, to hear, to not miss the thunder that arrives at night, to hear birds chattering long before a decent time, but sweet to hear nonetheless. No matter the cost, no matter our price, the world goes on. We can pause for now. And then move forward.

IMG_2093.jpeg

Tonight or today, whoever you are, you can still feel the wind on your cheek. The breeze carries the freshness of a new night, or at daybreak we are offered the sun along with our coffee. Drink it in. Staying at home and learning to be by ourselves is maybe a thing we needed to learn all over again. I read and write. Yes, we binge watch some shows, but the true magic is in seeing my family on Zoom, watching the leaves unfurl, unafraid of tomorrow, and learning obscure Scrabble words. Wish. Hope. Learn. Cry. Then laugh.

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can find….

Thank you to all who are helping the sick. I pray for your strength. Your health. Thank you. We all will never be able to repay you. But I offer my silent thanks every day, in spite of the tears.

Until next time.

Deanna

Breezing through…

Every February it happens to me. I hit the winter slump. I’m fine coasting through autumn, where every day brings a new delight from maple trees lit up in orange to apples ready to pick, and after Thanksgiving we sail into Christmas. As fun as that is, the January respite is welcome, even if she blows chilly. But I have a bone to pick with cold and indecisive February, who has decided to grant us one more day this month. Thanks.

IMG_1635

 

By the time I pass Valentine’s Day and the beautiful flowers and chocolates, I feel ready for spring. Even small tastes will do. To open a window and hear the creek rushing from recent rains is a joy I’m looking forward to, but in the meantime, for those of us still stuck with both feet in winter, what can we do? How do we find the beauty in today and tonight? By getting out and making ourselves do something. Beyond our comfort zones.

IMG_1633.jpeg

You’re seeing pics from my latest walk on our Kentucky farm. The day had warmed up and I decided to make the most of it. And as much as I’d like to say it’s out of my comfort zone, walking our land isn’t. I love seeing new things like this pond, above. The farmer made this pond about 100 years ago, using the clay soil to keep the water in so his cows could drink. This pond is inaccessible by spring due to all the bushes and insects, but this day? I braved the briars and felt rewarded to finally glimpse the hidden pond.

IMG_1632.jpeg
We have no name for this pond, but the frogs make a racket each spring.

As much as I’d like to say this nature walk brought me out of the doldrums, it was joining a bowling league. Wait? Isn’t that something people did years ago? Is that for men? Who bowls? Well, my neighborhood has a bowling league and we joined. All ages were represented. My son’s friends have a team there, and I found out the first game is the best scoring-wise, getting bad and going to worst by the third game. I also learned age has no true boundaries, since an 87 year old man is in the league and he bowls with a hook! Strike after strike in the lane next to me. Impressive.

IMG_1640

Oh, that’s out Kentucky home. It felt so good to get back into the warmth after hours tramping outside. But I was writing about bowling. It was fun, I got to know my two teammates better and I know my husband well, so we all laughed and tried to be bowling champions. All I know is the next day one side of me hurt. Think squats. Yes, that motion over and over for three games did it to me. Come Sunday, I’ll be ready for another fun evening facing off against a new team, so I’m sure to meet more people I don’t know as well. If at all. And that’s the point.

IMG_1620.jpeg

These pics make me ready to go back to Kentucky. This pond is called “Deanna’s pond”, since I love beach vacations and this is my waterfront view. Yeah, it’s a joke, but I like having a pond of my own. It has fish in it now. We’ve stocked two ponds for fishing fun.

If you’re in need of a reset button or want to get out of old routines, then shake it up! Do something new. Karaoke night? Hiking in winter? Euchre nights? Just grabbing dinner wherever you choose is a break. We just did that two weekends in a row. Wonderful! And then I made sure to see Swan Lake with my daughter. The one who loves the arts and used to dance, so this was a treat. I felt blessed to see such beauty on stage. A little gift from heaven came down and settled on me. It was that wonderful.

IMG_1709.jpeg

The next night my husband and I snuck out at intermission to go to a Scottish pub and have a late dinner. Just us! We were talking about bowling and how many weeks it goes on and on the actual night, I felt abashed at using a mere 8 pound ball. Sad. But lupus has affected me, so I do my best and hope our team isn’t gunning to be number one or even seventh this year. With me? It’s not happening. But I’ll laugh and chat with everyone.

IMG_1707.jpeg

One story before I go. On a night long ago in Milwaukee, my husband and I had hired a babysitter so we could drive to the east side and have a wonderful authentic Mexican dinner. You could buy margaritas by the glass or the pitcher, and since the pitcher was more economical, we chose that. We should have known when almost everyone in the whole restaurant looked to see who was getting that glorious pitcher full of lime and tequila. We were! Yay us!

 

IMG_1837.jpeg

 

Not so fast! No yay us, because we felt it was out duty, did I mention we were about twenty-eight at this point and still dumb, to finish every last drop? Then we stood up to drive home, and wow, neither one of us was in shape to drive. No ubers back then. Taxis, yes, but we barely had the cash to cover the babysitter. So we found a bowling alley and bowled. Drinking copious amounts of water and letting the evening turn to night, we spent a long time bowling, playing it very safe. And learned a lesson. Margaritas by the glass are better for two people. By far.

IMG_1714.jpeg

Hopefully, you’ll try bowling at least once in your life. And then find a group activity or a solo endeavor and do it! Shake off the cold remnants of winter. Wait for the winds of March to blow warmer breezes on a beautiful day, and then go out and feel the wind. Open your window and freshen the air in your home. Nothing smells as good as fresh air. Just once dry your sheets outside, no matter what the covenants say in your neighborhood, and that night, climb into the stiff sheets and drift to sleep smelling the freshness of the day.

Who knows, you just might have dreams of the one new thing you’re going to try.

I’m wishing you all the happiness in the world today….

Until next time…

A cup of comfort…

IMG_7714.jpeg

 

New Ear’s Eve. We had fabulous plans, my husband and I, to stay downtown in a swanky hotel and walk around the city until dinner at 9:00. A steak dinner with martinis, which is completely proper, followed by kissing and fireworks at midnight. But…I came down with bronchitis so we spent NYE in Kentucky at our farm, with wine and a martini for the man, shrimp, stuffed mushrooms and then the steak. Fabulous!

 

IMG_5627.jpeg

 

We watched A Star is Born because everyone needs a tearjerker movie to set the mood. Thankfully, we like to laugh together, so we spent too much time taking silly pics and popping those little confetti things which are plain old fun. The fire felt good and we counted down and toasted a brand new year. I love laughing with that man. Do you have someone in your life who cracks you up even when you’re trying to be stern? That’s my guy!

 

IMG_5715.jpeg

 

We need laughter. Can that be our resolution this year? To find happiness in a cup of comfort that is named laughter? How do we get through the tough times without laughter? The joyful days when we feel like the tips of our fingers graze the stars above? We laugh easily, beautifully, and sometimes until we cry. Laugh. I want you to fill your cup, no matter what you’re doing, going through or facing and laugh. Alone, with someone, it doesn’t matter.

 

IMG_5634.jpeg

 

I have a story for you. When I started my first real job out of college, all the new associates were expected to pass all four parts of the CPA exam on the first try, so I worked lots of overtime and it made my head spin. I would come home, eat ramen noodles and study. My boyfriend, now husband, was working at another top accounting firm who didn’t pressure their newbies into passing the exam right away. So he went out at night. Bars, drinking, skiing. Fun!

 

IMG_1517.jpeg

 

I studied every night and almost every weekend too. I worked Saturdays too. At our national training, two weeks before the dreaded exam, I asked a partner how we could have fun at training and still be ready for the exam. He said to just study. As in no fun. So yeah, I did. Except one night my roomie and I stayed out drinking until 6:00 a.m. We met Richard Petty (I had no idea who the guy with the hat and boots was, but the drinks were free), and we wandered about finding fun. Great night, but training that day felt awful. Tired, half-ill, half-drunk (please don’t judge I was 22 and dumb). Diet Coke saved that day.

IMG_1521.jpeg

 

The day of the CPA exam dawned on a Wednesday. It is a two and a half day exam. My boyfriend and I drove down together to the huge, expansive convention hall. He and I separated to locate our seats and prepare and pray. Did I ever mention that alphabetically his name is right after mine, most anywhere? Engle was my name, so I sat at the table and guess who was to my right? Eppers. My boyfriend. Trust me when I say you never want to take that exam next to your boyfriend. Nope. Not good. Not fun.

 

IMG_7915.jpeg

 

That’s us. Now. After that dreadful exam.    So proctors stood at every angle to ensure no cheating, and no way in hell was I going to jeopardize my career by cheating on the exam, so I kept my head down. You know how you look at all the test pages and try to figure out how much time to allot for everything? I do that. I also listen to when people start flipping to the next page to judge my progress. The boyfriend flipped his page way before I had finished the problems on page one, and he and I were evenly matched, so we usually flipped at the same time. I was doing horribly! He was on page two and why was I so slow?

IMG_7712.jpeg

When I finally turned to page two, he was flipping to the third page. How? Why? I couldn’t look at him. Why was he so much faster than I? After four and a half hours of hell, we left the room. Done until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. So I asked him about being so far ahead of me and how it messed with my brain! I was panicking during the exam! My boyfriend told me he decided to mess with my head and flipped the pages, knowing I’d be in meltdown mode. And since I couldn’t look at him, I never saw him quietly go back to the right page he was still on.

Did it work, he asked? I fumed! Of course I felt flummoxed! And I had studied and he hadn’t, much. He “got me” just because he knew me so well. Knew I was listening for when he turned to the next page, the next problems. And then I just started to laugh. Yeah, the test was important, but for him to take that precious time to mess with me cracked me up! What an interesting sense of humor!  I loved him. Especially then, because we needed some laughs after those problems we faced down. Sheesh!

IMG_5184.jpeg

The next two days were filled with every problem imaginable. I don’t know how we survived. We passed. I passed first, but retired long ago and now my husband does accounting “stuff” that is way over my head now. But what I love about him is he played me during the most important exam ever, of our whole lives. Our college prepared us with timed tests, too much homework and more. But my husband “got” me, understood me and decided to spend some minutes having some fun. I loved that back then, and am delighted to this day that he thought of that, when all I thought of was the clock and the exam. Laughter. Happiness that warm me even now.

IMG_5179.jpeg

Shared laughter is beautiful. Comfortable and comforting. That’s why I married him. Well, there are many reasons, but we laughed from the start! We laugh when things go terribly wrong, because what else are you gonna do? Cry all the time? Nope. Fill your cup of comfort with laughter and you’ll feel full. And happy. Warm and loved.

That’s what I wish for you this year. This shiny new year that we haven’t messed up yet. I wish you laughter in good times and bad. In sickness and health. I laughed in Kentucky just as much as I would have downtown on New Year’s Eve. I was sick, but inside I felt warm, with wine, love and laughter. Be happy, my friends. We just get one shot at this, and why not start fresh? Find your cup of comfort. Fill it with hope, love, peace, cosiness, happiness, looking on the bright side, trying to give to others. All that. But don’t forget to laugh!

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

 

just breathe…

 

 

IMG_7571

 

Well, the Christmas crazies have hit. I love it. Always have. I think the more celebrations we have in the dead of winter, the better. We need more than one and a half weeks of frivolity! That magical time from December 23rd (I like the build-up) until January 2nd when my tired tree is unadorned, is beautiful, frenzied, silent, exuberant, exciting, hushed, alone, together, and ours to make the way we choose.

 

fullsizeoutput_31e

 

Are you wondering what I’m saying? Make your peace with this season and find your happiness. Craft and carve it out so that Christmas Eve is the way you like. And Christmas Day and why not throw in Boxing Day, which is family game day at our home, and then New Year’s Eve Day, the Eve itself culminating in New Year’s Day. Spend some time with family or friends, and the rest of it is yours. Spend some time with you. Doing what you like. And the rest can be given to your family or friends and the people who want you with them. Give them a rested, happy you. That’s the best gift. And for you?

 

IMG_5186

 

 

If you want a cozy fire, with classic Christmas carols playing softly in the background, cuddled in a warm blanket, glass of wine in hand with an engrossing book, plan it. If you go to church like we do, plan for that special time. Meditate on what happened on Christmas Day. I look at our creche and sing the songs long known by heart, and I do feel it. My peace on earth, come down from heaven.

 

IMG_7608

 

Yours might look different. Santa and cookies left by the tree. Or skiing all day and enjoying eggnog at night. We all Christmas differently. If you want to change something to suit you better, try it. Remember that this is the season of giving, but it’s the little things, the smallest gifts that mean the most. A cup of chai tea latte hand delivered. A candle made by your hands. Finding a new song to love and share. Laughing over funny memes. Sharing a slice of cheesecake. Baking cookies and sending them off to neighbors.

 

4K1PbVrnRB6Tn+cG+VNuiw

 

Give? Letting that car merge. Giving up a parking space. Opening the door for another human. Most aren’t aware as they wander in an unknown hypnotic state, trying to finish in time. Let’s make sure we walk through the next three weeks aware, awake and able to give, with the wisdom to stop when we feel out energy depleting. Then it’s time to mindlessly play a video game, watch a Christmas movie, or sleep.

 

Zyv+9jpWS72H5r5YnVqPpA

 

I like to look at my trees and look at the ornaments. The family’s favorite tree is the one I named the “family tree” because it has every ornament ever crafted and cobbled together by my children, by me when I was just five and all the “ugly” ornaments from the 1970’s that my mom gave me. We love that tree, more than the stately one full of glass ornaments. Precious, fresh, fragrant and perfect. We choose the imperfections. That brings up armloads of happiness, much laughter and happy memories.

 

IMG_7598

Make the next three weeks fun and restful, exciting and calm. Give a little and save some for yourself. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. And it will be if we make it that way, but it’s all a choice. Grab it. Your happiness. Peace. Warmth.

 

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

grace and gratitude…

qdosDcx6QDW2YFCvdVFCsg

Today was rainy, gray and dark, so I poured myself another cup of coffee, lit some candles and went to the couch to read and pray. Yes, I try to stay on track, but my mind wanders. The coffee helps.

Gratitude is splendid and sets my world aright. When I’m feeling down or overwhelmed by people and their problems, I change my outlook and turn it upside down. How? Let’s say I’m putting away my husband’s clothes, and I’m tired of matching his mismatched socks. Where the other sock goes is a mystery I hope to uncover someday. But I thank God for my husband, who is busy at work, again, day after day, often working eleven and twelve hour days. I pray over him, his life and I thank God for him.

AjhA4c7mSUCYE1Phd0WImQ

 

If you’re busy feeling thankful for a person, you’re far less likely to feel anger or annoyed by them. So say out loud how thankful you are for all those “problem” people in your life. You don’t know how much longer you have with them. Be thankful.

 

fSogOSmOZfgrrK7If7w

That little picture above? Was given as gift to me years ago when I had no money and cold only accept this gift and not reiterate. I treasure this and each year place it on my kitchen windowsill so I remember the joy of Christmas. Yes, it’s a secular view, but that goes along with the message of the birth of Jesus. I remember the reason for the season.

I’ve long forgotten the beautiful soul who gave away so many of these pretties, but I look at the picture and remember being so little and excited about Santa’s visit! I slow down and try to remember Christmas is a gift. Name the reasons why you are thankful right now. Even our problems can be blessings in disguise, teaching us patience, kindness and mercy.

IRSqtXzhRdSsLbnlpFiFkg

 

Make time to sit and reflect on your blessings. Name what you are thankful for right now. One time, when I was so sick and about to have my bladder surgically removed, because the lining has disintegrated and I felt the acidic burn every second of the day, and someone asked me what I was thankful for. Really? My hair was falling out, my two children needed constant attention, I was using opium suppositories for the unrelenting pain, and my street was being torn up with new sewers going in. And my husband was working more than twelve hour days. Thankful? Seriously?

 

51kN%BkRSQGFVSrdjKCktA

 

But she was serious. I was thirty-two, my family lived 1000 miles away, and I kept driving to the Mayo Clinic for tests. They did not want to do the surgery because I was “too young”. Too young for this pain? Too young to have this “middle-aged women’s disease”? I quipped, “I’m thankful that I can see.” That’s it. That’s all I said. And now I look back at all that happened that awful summer and I see more blessings.

 

QhiGhO+%S2eOXJoyZjRSew

 

I had angels in disguise watching my girls as I stayed in the hospital for eight days after the eight hour surgery. When I came home, I couldn’t stand up straight, but I walked around the block every day. I’m thankful for my surgeon’s skilled hands. I left her a note on my body, written by a nurse trying to calm me down pre-surgery, that said, “I want to have another baby.” So my surgeon took care with my body. She told me she hoped I could have another child after my body healed. What a sweet surgeon to care about that for me.

 

OPPs2uVsTXmqMqJL2KXvcA

I had another baby two years post-surgery. It was touch and go, but I’m thankful for my son. For the people along the way who helped me. My neighbor who knew I had surpassed my limit, since I was yelling at my two kids in the bathtub that awful summer, and she asked if she could take them for an hour. Blessed peace. No road work sounds. Just silence. Thank you Judy. I’m grateful to this day.

List them. Write them out. Speak them out loud. Your gratitude. Even for the tough times. Maybe even especially for the rough times, when we learn so much.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

Toasting to trying the new…

YePdwMTYSIOki5T72u4bPg

It’s been years since I’ve faced down a jam packed December, and I remember why I like them that way. I woke up and threw coffee down my throat, hurried through my list of chores, and then had fun with dear friends catching up over chai tea lattes. Mailed every Christmas card after that. Came home to  snuggle with my eleven month old grandchild, and suddenly the afternoon had melted away.

EyUMjphYSJ6yZiANV560WQ

Suddenly, my husband was home, saying we were late for dinner downtown. I hadn’t even chosen what to wear, but I threw on something suitable, left my house with my daughter and grandchild still here and made it in thirty minutes to dinner. Interesting. My husband had eaten there before and didn’t like it so much, but every place was booked, since we were seeing “Hello, Dolly”, afterward. Dinner was…burnt. I must not be an incredible foodie, because some people seemed to be enjoying the very limited menu.

e2oqmSueZLj+caZdwGw

(I like snow globes. Musical ones are even better.)

Dinner. I eat. I like to think I’m open to new ideas in food, but the risotto was crunchy. In fact, everything we ate tonight was burnt and dry, and that’s the way it is supposed to be served. I have a new name for the restaurant. Burnt. Maybe Toast. The only thing not burnt or charred or dry was my wine. The very kind waiter asked if we had time for dessert, but even that menu looked dry. Chocolate mousse with peanut brittle mixed in? Nope, not feeling it.

 

cNBZk3owQw6exkp9crV6pg

We went across the street and I found chocolate. I bought some right before the curtain went up. Another great musical. We just got back home in time to see my son visiting the food here after a tough week at college.

So, I promised to send inspiration every day for a month. This is what I learned today. Try new things, even if it’s not your cup of tea. You must might like it. Actually, the chai tea latte was the first I’ve had in years, so that turned out to be a fun surprise. And seeing my grandchild marvel at the Christmas tree lights was fun. His first Christmas. Lucky me.

T4wBmsYXTFebGqPP83Wnfw

 

The whole day felt like a blessing. I ran out of speed at the end of the musical. I have lupus and get tired easily. Tomorrow is a full day too. So it’s off to…read. Not bed! Soon though.

Are you up for trying something new? Today, if possible? This week, definitely! You might find something you really like. And if not, you can laugh about it afterwards. Happiness and laughter shared with others is wondrous. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Not all days can be like today, no. All fun and play. But maybe that’s something to keep in mind, for you? Have a full day, full of fun. Enjoy every drop.

Wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

Light the way…

SQc17piAQkqwWdhpU3VPag

 

For the next few crazy weeks, I’ve decided to post everyday. I hope to inspire you. To find comfort and caring in the middle of a frenzy. And if not a frenzy, then in loneliness. Because I know each person matters. We all carry light or darkness with us as we leave our homes each day. I like light at the windows, so other can enjoy the warmth. Choose light today.

 

5TkkPQnxTp2EfovahgkEfg

Deciding to deal with the gray of winter, while Christmas, which some days feels like a full contact sport, with us meeting Christmas Day, tired, longing to remain in our pajamas or sweats, nibbling on candy and watching old Christmassy movies till our hearts are full, seems almost impossible. But it’s not. Bring in the fresh cedar tree and even a tiny Charlie Brown tree. I’ll get my morning coffee today and see this Charlie Brown tree and make a choice to see good in others, even in the middle of impatience. Just the way you choose too. What do you want to change? For a better you?

 

MyTKUcRJTfG1En8YRjYwxw

 

In spite of work, raising families, helping our aging parents if we’re lucky to still have them, in spite of all we need to do, there is time for us. Step out and look at the sky at sunset. I know, it’s awful that the sun sleeps much of the day, but still, the sky is hauntingly beautiful, in a way a December sky can only be. The angle of the sun, the silence outdoors, well I do hear the freeway, but still. Breathe in your day and exhale all the bad. And look around.

 

wFX46lj5SVaiw58wLCETLg

 

Do you see the peonies I found? Peonies mean springtime, when possibility lands at your door every morning. But today I found a spot of spring in the middle of the longest nights of the year. Find a way to relax. Hallmark does have happy movies on right now. Twinkle lights make me feel less alone, when I’m here, by myself. Put up twinkle lights. Choose your color. Blue? Go for it. I’m into a classic white this year, and I’m not sure why. New house and all? I guess I have to figure her out.

 

9sAOmmqqSZqwVLN3IWmbXQ

 

You have to know I follow Jesus. I choose that. So I may pepper my posts somedays with Jesus. But he brings light, just as much as my snow laden tree does. Why do we crave light? The candles, the fire, fire pits, the Christmas lights thrown everywhere? To feel less boxed in, to feel up when the darkness yanks us down? Is that it?

Choose right now, until Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate that, then until New Year’s Day, choose to light your early mornings or evenings with meaningful and purposeful light.

 

Qjfx9YHiRDKgEx8GZMek%w

Make a choice to put up a strand of twinkle lights. More if you have the energy, and take time out to look at them. Enjoy them. That’s my wish for you today. Light. Take it in. And send it out by showing kindness today.

I’m wishing you all the happiness in the world….

Until tomorrow then.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy ThanksChristmas…

YuHYcCNYTg2+SvsLAIBbIg

I’ve returned to my senses. Back to feeling up and happy, And you? Are you getting ready for the big dinner heading your way in a little more than a week? I am. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving since 1997. Bittersweet, because my father-in-law died that year, one week before Thanksgiving, and my mom-in-law wasn’t up to having the dinner at their house. So, I offered and it became tradition.

odLcBu+9TiOTZyIWe8Jgyw

I went overboard that year and shelled the chestnuts by hand, for the stuffing. My fingernails were nubs by the time I had all those chestnuts ready for chopping. And I had to have a fresh floral centerpiece, created the night before so it wouldn’t wilt. Now I just run in to the floral shop and grab a centerpiece, leaving me time to bake all the pies.

I’m ready to set my Thanksgiving table. But the dishes would be dusty by next Thursday and the wine glasses would be too,  so it’s probably too early to set my table. Maybe I’ll lightly dust the day before? No? Not palatable? Okay.

1FB39ZywT7+1qOX9odj%Vw

We will gather around this table in the one room my daughter asked not to be changed into my Christmas decor. It’s tough! I’m ready for the change. I’m jealous of our cousins across the Atlantic who do not have Thanksgiving, and are setting up for Christmas. I love Thanksgiving, don’t get me wrong, but the Canadians just might be right about having it in October. Why? I love the twinkle lights that grace our descent into the dark days, where it feels like night most of the time.

ba1rquHqSTGIrm0LitY4iw

Don’t say a word to my daughter, but before I head out of town for six days! Six! To see my family out East, I’m bringing in Christmas. Room by room. The second I have my trees up, you’ll know! I think I found everything I need in boxes in the basement. It’s tough to know really, because the movers put all my winter boots and shoes in the basement, and I just found them yesterday, if you can believe that. I guess Master Bedroom written on the box screamed Basement to them! Who knows? But I found them in the nick of time. It’s now a game for me. Where are the kitchen utensils? And yes, I just found them yesterday too. In the basement by my husband’s workbench. Makes perfect sense and really I was missing my ladles and rolling pin. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy. I’m finally finding the rest of my stuff. In the basement.

IMG_0787

When I come back, I’ll have to shop right away. Maybe I should grab the turkey this week?? What do you think? And then I’ll bring out the Christmas trees and listen to some Snoopy music (the Peanuts music from the Charlie Brown special?), and I’ll… wait! she will be so upset. My eldest. The rest don’t care where I place all my Christmas trees, and we’re not even talking about the real one I buy each year from a cold and frosty grocery store. You should see the Hallmark moments my husband I share choosing a tree in front of the store under the glow of parking lot lamps.

futMq2GVTraENqy5JvxHmw

Random lavender, but oh so pretty. Back to Thanksgiving and Christmas… which one do you prefer? Are you itching to place garland across your mantle? I am! My kids crack me up. Christmas for me is an event. Yes, I celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! But I also make a game of placing trees wherever I like in the house, and my husband says anywhere is fine as long as he can see the football games from the kitchen. The kitchen, you say? Yes! I place a tree in the kitchen some years.

YsmL9OUYSyKQqL4TSU3bAA

Back to my daughter. I told her a few years ago that my wrapping paper “theme” was plaid, using greens and reds only please, and she actually brought in her gifts wrapped in “The Little Mermaid” Christmas wrapping paper! She told me she searched for weeks for a properly ugly Christmas wrapping paper, just so my theme would be ruined. I love that! Now she has most unfortunately brought the other daughter to the dark side and they bring in their gifts a week before Christmas, and laughingly place them under my tree next to my beautifully color coordinated paper and bows and gift tags.

5yG5HeL8TyerLF8mqh%LNg

Oh, this? All the books I buy that I mean to read, but if I read them all, I would have no life at all. Do you know I have two shelves dedicated to Christmas books? Yes, I love the season that much. But I’ll keep the pilgrims, oh no! I just remembered they’re not out, and I’m not sure where I saw them. The guest bedroom closet? The coat closet? This moving thing is tricky. Now I have to find my porcelain turkey, and I haven’t seen him since last year. What to do?

wSuGPDtoQBa8q2Zmx%Uh6w

I’ll think “autumn” and inspiration will follow. Don’t you love the holidays? Feeling competitive with your neighbors, craning your neck as you drive or walk past their windows and you see it. Their tree is all up and lit beautifully! I make it competitive! Isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Getting that perfect Instagram pic? No? You’re right. It’s about gathering together or huddling with your besties and thanking God for all he has given us. For seeing us through this year. Good and bad times. All of it. And we eat and celebrate and reconnect. And that’s beautiful…

And then the it’s a game of who flips on their Christmas lights the earliest on Thanksgiving night. Game on! Count me in!

%pu0ZzBKT5u9s78srCtVXw

The fun, crazy season is almost upon us. Why don’t we grab a slice or two of pie and enjoy what’s to come. I’ll try not to get too hung up by the beautiful crusts, latticed perfectly, and browned to perfection that I see in my magazines. Thanksgiving is not a competitive sport. Christmas might be, but I think I’ll grab a glass of wine at about eleven a.m. on Thanksgiving and enjoy the people and the food. Green bean casserole will be next to me on the table.

IMG_5060

I have to go and find my pilgrims. I hope you have a beautiful week, and are anticipating the fun of Thanksgiving.

I’m wishing you happiness wherever you are…

Until next time…

Longing…

 

fullsizeoutput_e90
This house reminded me of home…

 

Tonight my heart is heavy. Do you ever long for home? Even if home means a new place where your mom and dad now live? I feel like my life has been all about following them around. And I was supposed to fly home to see my mom and dad for the first time in six months. But I’m sick, so I’m staying home. It’s practical, but I’m still missing them.

wQqBuArZTJK8pPr3QfQ
The late fall sky at evening is stunning…

Mom and Dad kept moving every two or three years, but I put my foot down in college, when they moved to Syracuse, land of my birth. At eighteen and stubborn, I remained in Wisconsin, where I met my wonderful husband, and had three amazing, stubborn kids with him. We finally moved south twenty years ago. Cincinnati. My husband liked living in the Midwest and this brought us closer to my home, but farther away from his. I love him so much for moving us here. I love this place and our home in Cincy.

We just moved five months ago. In the same neighborhood, I must add. We bought the house I always walked by and admired from a distance. It is a beautiful house with a beautiful soul. And I seriously asked each of my children how they felt about us moving. If they wanted the home they had known for twenty years, I would understand completely and not move an inch. They loved this home in the same neighborhood. So…we moved. Three blocks away. To our home.

puMRfk4vR1eEJ3A4PAqheA
The view from my new living room…

 

That’s not our home in the very first picture. The pic showing the window with snow outside is my home. I just love the floor to ceiling windows.

The first home pictured above reminds me of my grandma’s house, and I snapped the photo while we gassed up our truck down in Kentucky. I walked into the middle of the road to gaze at that house, and I felt home calling me back. My grandma died thirty years ago, but I feel her, and I wonder if the older you get, the more you feel home in your soul and you remember details long forgotten in the rush of living? Do you live far away from home too? That’s why I worked to make this place, and this city our place. Home…

SIfRsOd6Qzuc7Uxi94rhUg
Oak trees are my favorite…

I’m listening to country music and feeling low. Do I ignore the illness that’s stopping me from getting on that flight tomorrow and going back home? No. I won’t.  I want to be home, and to feel their love, and share time with both of them. Meanwhile, I have my family here. Thanksgiving will be here, with my children bringing their own families home.  I want to be grounded, planted and steady for me and my family. I vowed not to move (hey, moving three blocks does not count!) and stay here. For good. Forever. For them and me.

tYjidGAvTOaZ%XrE5XVIXw
Flowers make me happy. So bright and beautiful.

Do you miss home? Miss someone? It’s the people that make the place. I know, because I’ve wandered back to see the houses where inside I pleaded for one more story, sang out loud with the stereo, memorized lines for plays and learned how to bake. But the houses aren’t mine anymore and the people I love left long ago, so I walk or drive by and miss them, not the house (well maybe just a little). I think I was always a homebody, but when my dad decided a peripatetic life suited him, he didn’t bother to ask us kids, ever.

When we moved so far away from my grandma and cousins, I knew I was losing something, but only I saw it. The family all looked forward and I? Looked back. I wouldn’t be seeing my grandma so often and I needed her stories. They linked me to my past. They anchored me to a long line of musicians, and I heard about my coal miner grandpa playing clarinet in a band, though he could pick up any instrument and play it, and after a gig long after midnight, he brought the band home for coffee (why drink coffee before bed?) and food, and laughter. Shared laughter is a beautiful thing.

 

e+xZomosSmO3+P4i1s+fLQ
The river near our Kentucky cabin…

If you live in a small town with family nearby, I think you’re richer than most people. Do we have to leave to “get it”? Maybe. All I wanted was what my grandma had: all four sisters lived within two blocks of one another. My mom’s father died young, leaving Grandma a widow at thirty-eight, but my mother had aunts looking out for her, feeding her, hemming her dresses and making her do homework, because Grandma had to go to work full time once her husband died. No insurance money and lots of bills. But the family rallied around her and they got by.

I think they did more than just get by, because the stories I heard through the years about my mom cleaning the oven and calling Grandma up and asking just how could she get the grime to come off? Grandma told her to use “elbow grease”, and my mom thought about it, searching for it and finally called Grandma down at the store she owned, asking, “Where do you keep the elbow grease?” And the people visiting my grandma at her little store burst our in laughter! Stories. They link us to the past. They pull us into the warmth of love, trust and caring. They push us forward.

 

azeHpz82R9OfI7jRPsfZzg
When the acorns drop, I know fall is here…

One day when I was back in town for a funeral, I took time to drive by and looked at Grandma’s house and the porch where I sat on the swing, singing quietly to myself, with the air perfumed by lilacs in spring, the scent of rain in summer and the homey scent of woodsmoke in autumn. I sang the songs my mom sang of teddy bears having a picnic. Mares eating oats. And I listened in to the conversation inside and I heard more stories.

 

L5bx8lFlRn+hvwEYCKATCg
The front of our new house (that needs more work!).

Those stolen stories fed my soul and filled me understanding. I silently laughed when they all talked about my great-grandpa who was stolen by the gypsies and they didn’t see him for years, but when he came back a few years later, he played the violin beautifully. True story! I listened in on why the aunts were upset with their sister down the road. But they all stayed together, loved each and were there for each other. Physically. I need that. I crave that, but I was born to two people who are happy living inside their own private world, content to see their kids occasionally. I carry it forward; the idea of home. My home. Does this make sense?

What I’m trying to do is make this place the home the kids come back to with their families. That they will feel loved and listened to and accepted. That’s my dream. I’m trying to make it real every day.

0O1ENwkdTZqMEiUNpANmnw
I just love Frog Princes and their attitude…

I’m feeling like that Frog Prince. He’s wishing for a kiss and a kingdom, and I’m wishing for time to stand still for just a bit, so I can see all my family, scattered across this country, and also see my husband and kids. I want us all to gather and hear the stories and remember. Now that I’m older, my children weave stories from their childhood and adolescence (I feel like a I need a good stiff drink for some of those), and their stories are legend in this house now. We are tethered to one another, reaching across time and space and touching souls and hearts. If we try, we carry home wherever we go.

 

smYK58SXQl+JatOqnJKuLw
The perfect autumn bouquet..

I did community and college theater when I was in high school and a friend was leaving for NYC and hopefully an acting job, but I stayed home. Why? Because the theater is tough on families, and I wanted a home, and not in NYC. I knew from early on that my dream was to be married and have kids, and it happened! Lucky me. Truly. Who gets to live their dreams? I do. And today I share my dream of all of us being linked to someone, so no one is ever alone.

I wish you are happy where you are at this moment. Content with your lot in life. Not always seeking and pressing on for more, unless it’s more time with people you love. You can make your friends your family; I’ve done that too, and it works. Facing down Thanksgiving can be joyous or dreadful, and I’m hoping you take the time to talk to Uncle Joe, the one whose stories are just a bit off somehow. Or that you grab a friend and get Chinese takeout. Make your place a home. If you feel like me. If not, I kind of envy you.

 

eGfU84n7Q6mJ61vgWc3MCQ
You know why this is in the great room…a subtle reminder, yes?

Wherever you are right now, I wish you all the happiness in your world….

I hope you have a home. A place for you. Where you are loved and encouraged and fed and are warm and safe.

Until next time….

Step out of your cozy zone…

BqYm591lRl2NFNJvelDMXQ.jpg

We’ve had a very dry two months, so some of the leaves just dry up and fall to the ground, brown and crunchy. The crunch is satisfying as I tromp through the woods by our cabin. I’ve been searching for flowers to create a rustic bouquet, but I think I waited too long. We haven’t had a frost here yet, but I know one morning, soon, I’ll look outside and see the beauty of the gardens and fields covered in white. It means no more crickets, and the growing season will be done, but the mums will still flourish and I’ve never met a pumpkin scared of a thick frost.

ADaawxlTvqP6tu9oTuFA.jpg

Are you feeling autumn? Are you reaching for a throw in the evenings, even if you still have your windows open? Or have you sealed your windows for good and are dreaming of turkeys, pie and Black Friday sales? Either way, we’re moving farther into the season of long evenings, and I crave light, so what’s a girl to do? I turn on the lights earlier each evening, and it’s time for a good wood fire (or gas, if that’s what you have) and lots of candles.

IMG_4056.jpg

There’s something so cozy and warming about candles. I’m trying to unplug earlier in the night, but you know how much I love the midnight hour. Maybe you do what I do and still burn the candles while the lamps are on. My kids remember the days when I simmered spices on the stove in a pot of water. I didn’t have money for candles back then. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg worked.

LwnvIxsqRs2twhKJRJvXAg.jpg

Now that our move is done, and the frenetic pace of summer has gone, I’m making sure to do more around town. Yes, we still have landscaping to figure out, and it looks like we might put in a terraced fire pit with comfy chairs all around. Going to my favorite bar for the first time in eight years at last, see above, made us think about spending nights at home, by a fire, under the sky, with some excellent music playing. Endless to do’s, right?

EnG7goPkRJaA3J3E1jmjcA.jpg

To get to this tiny gem, you have to drive to the top of Mt. Adams. Narrow streets, and a very hilly ride, because they call it Mount Adams for a reason. At a street near the top,  between two stately townhomes,  a cobbled and worn stairway leads down and suddenly you’re standing in the middle of a gorgeous courtyard. A smattering of chairs, tiny tables, and live acoustic music with a cold drink in hand, is wonderful in autumn. Summer can be sweltering, but Friday night we waited for the fire to be set, since it was chilly. Once lit, we warmed up a lot.  I don’t usually drink, but being at the Blind Lemon compelled me to enjoy a glass or two. (I ordered a second glass when I accidentally let my Chardonnay practically boil on the table touching the fire pit.) I haven’t been there in years.

4jAomW4EQJyZAlGapbajVg.jpg

What am I saying? Sometimes you have to get out of your rut, your routine and do something unexpected. I’ll admit that lupus has slowed me down, and many nights watching Netflix is the default setting, especially after moving and surviving another renovation. Note: If you ever say you will never do something, you’ll be doing it at some point in the near future.

Uvn9I2NYTpqWoIRPvApEOQ.jpg

Maybe you have been living in the same house for twenty years. Why not move? It will certainly give you a new view. New neighbors. And if you normally eat out at a certain place, go somewhere that’s getting rave reviews. My favorite Mexican food is in a tiny spot (tiny places must be a theme here today), no reservations taken, and a two hour wait isn’t my cup of tea or margarita, so I went after a play, one night. I sat at the bar and had the best fish tacos. Dining at eleven at night? Why not?

 

Ypt45FPQMSFynLg0aHatw.jpg

Are you in a city? Go find a pumpkin farm or an apple orchard. Do you love your life in the country? Head to the city and look at art, watch some football, eat amazing food or find a perch to people watch. Get out of your ordinary, even if you’re feeling cozy in your comfort zone. Especially then. Being willing to feel uncomfortable for a few hours is great. Head to NYC for a long weekend and really immerse yourself. I always go straight to the Met, but one weekend my husband took me there to see some musicals, and we fit in three in two nights there! And no Met. Had a great time!

L5bx8lFlRnhvwEYCKATCg.jpg

They say there’s no place like home, so maybe you could invite friends over for an autumn dinner?. Maybe you do have an actual fire pit, so s’mores around the fire would be a fun evening. Take a bike ride before your fingers are too numb from the cold. This is my list of new to do’s: Vinyasa yoga classes, cook dinner more often, make a wreath for my front door, knit a huge throw, hike this autumn, go to an NFL game this season (looks like I’m going:), re-read Lord of the Rings or begin A Story of Ice and Fire (the books behind Game of Thrones), walk a 10K because my running days are over, and I have more but that’s plenty for now. A book club would be lovely too. As would serving lunch to the homeless. Teach literacy. Ah, we’re talking big dreams now!

IMG_6572.jpg

What’s on your list? Make a list of what you would like to do this season, then a list of to do’s this next year and finally, write down what you want to do before time’s up. I already took my grandson to a pumpkin farm, but I really want to go on a hayride. I’m going to take him again, hopefully it won’t be spitting rain, and then onto a hayride under the fading blue of an October sky. Step out of your cozy zone. Do something uncomfortable, then go back to your regularly scheduled life. We only get to do this once!

Wishing you all the happiness and beauty your heart can hold…

Until next time…  Deanna