Secret pleasures…

With my laptop working properly now, let’s get on with finding happiness and beauty in our worlds. March came in like a lamb, but I’ll take warm, sunny days in this tempestuous month when the skies cannot decide if spring has finally arrived to stay, or if winter is going to give us one last kiss of snowflakes and cold. It isn’t winter’s fault that most of us long for her to depart by this time of the year, but spring is beguiling and a time full of promises. I decided to grab some roses on sale, and make a slightly unkempt arrangement of greens and flowers. Spring is here in my house to stay.

Today I have the back door open wide to the porch, and last night when I stood by that back door I heard the barred owl hooting again. He perched very close to the house, and I didn’t want to interrupt his bliss over the arrival of spring, so I remained inside, tucked out of sight. My cat lives in the screened in porch when the weather allows, and he seemed as excited by the owl as I was. I suppose spring brings happiness to all. Even the birds have taken up the chorus, and every morning they sing with delight, and the evenings are now filled with the soothing sounds of birds preparing for a night of slumber. Just not “my” owl! He likes to make a ruckus long after twilight.

Since I didn’t plant daffodils or tulips, I’ll be missing out on them, but I’m going to plant them together this upcoming fall. Deer won’t eat daffodils, so I plant them with the tulips and I’ll have to wait and see if it works. We do have many deer at this house, and they seem to think this is their ground; their land. My husband drove down the long driveway only to spot a group of deer standing close to our house. He looked at them, while the placidly took notice of him, and after many seconds passed, he gave up and left the deer to themselves. I so enjoy seeing them here, even if the do like my boxwoods. Maybe they’ll stay away from the pansies I planted. We’ll see.

We also don’t have any forsythia bushes, so I found a large handfuls of those beautiful yellow stems in a bucket at the store, and they are jauntily perched in two jars on the mantle. The warmth of the house is causing them to open up and show their springtime hues, and I’m the lucky one who sips coffee from my shamrock mug and wistfully wishes to head out for a long walk in the woods. I do have coffee mugs for every season and most holidays. Why not? Mugs are inexpensive, so I tend to impulsively purchase one or two that fit my mood. There’s happiness in the little things.

I’ve been trying to decide when we should place the outdoor Adirondack chairs around the fire pit. It seems a mite too early, and I think we’re expected to have rain for several days, which is our typical spring pattern, at least for the first half of the season. I didn’t get the chance to walk down to the quiet creek today, since I decided to do some housekeeping inside, though always with an open window nearby. We’re going to plan my daughter’s wedding, so four of us are going to taste their menu. I keep telling myself we are sticking to chicken rather than lobster and steak, but when it comes to my kids’ weddings I tend to go over the top. Just a smidge.

Weddings are joyful days, even when a few tears are shared over the enormity of what two people are pledging to one another. Throwing a wedding is nerve-racking at moments, but when the day arrives I’m excited to be able to have a few quiet moments interspersed with the fun of family and dear friends mixing together, laughing, dancing, enjoying the magic of a night filled with live music, some chardonnay (for me), and cake. With frosting. I think life is too short for no frosting!

Since it’s now the weekend, I’m in Kentucky and just came in from a long walk with my husband. The air felt mild and when the sun decided to peek through the clouds, I thought walking the hills of the land would be more beautiful than sticking to the road. Besides, this time of year no spiders are out, and we like to visit all the ponds, even the one that disappears in summer. We now have five ponds to enjoy, and I do so love my own hidden pond. I feel like she’s a beautiful secret, even if most people wouldn’t feel beguiled by the water.

The photograph is from January, since I decided to tuck away my camera and enjoy just looking at the beauty of this land. The ponds were often created by farmers in the 1800s, as this one was, for their cattle to have a place to drink. The soil is clay, which is why the land here has so many of the little ponds, and I wonder about the family who lived here and what their lives were like. Were they happy? Did they like living here? We visited their family cemetery too, and I think about the beautiful stone monuments that stand for each child and the mother. I still don’t know where the patriarch of the family wound up resting. I wonder about him, also.

You probably know by now that I find cemeteries fascinating places to look and wander, and I do hope the farming family had good times along with those sad days when someone was buried up the hill from where their little house stood. I know from the many stories my grandmother told me at night when the soft evening wind blew down from the woods behind her house, that many children died even in the 1930s. My grandma told me about twins she carried and lost, along with other infants who were born too early, and she didn’t tell it with sadness but rather as a statement.

My grandmother wove stories together seamlessly, and I learned that her life, tough as it was, had beautiful moments. The sad tales gave way to happier ones, and I count myself blessed to have those stories inside my head; tied to my heart. So I remember them now for her, since she too has gone to rest, and I make sure my kids know about her life and what it felt like to be her. I carry my grandmothers with me, and tell the old stories for them. They delight me, and my children have become linked to their past. I see the power of remembering people we’ve never even met but in tales.

She made delicious grape jelly over the course of several days. Grape jelly made from the grape arbor in the back yard made her feel pleased, and though she didn’t have much time to devote to gardening, stowing away homemade jelly made her feel rich. While I haven’t ever tried my hand at making jam, I need even a little bit of earth to garden. After today’s walk I have an idea to create a cutting garden just for me. A secret garden of sorts, tucked out of the way on the side of a hill back home and maybe one here too. We all have secret pleasures that bring us happiness.

What are you going to do this spring to bring moments of beauty to your world? Have you thought about about that yet? I’ll try to be back on Wednesday, since my laptop issues made me lose over a week with you.

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

Until next time,




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.

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.

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…

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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….