Category Archives: Life

Simple: A Meditation

Handkerchiefs

Simple: A meditation
A scone on a china plate. A fire in the fireplace, or a fan, lazy in the window. Sheets on the clothesline in the yard. A notebook and a smooth flowing ink pen. A stack of library books yet to be read. The scent of Downy fresh laundry. Kids laughing in the other room. Sitting in church on the hard pew in the spare white sanctuary. The music of a single instrument; piano or oboe, cello or native flute. An a cappella choir. Family and history. Holding hands. My children’s voices on the phone. Belly laughs and inside jokes. Quotes from books or movies shared with secret smiles.

—-

Simple truths
We resist the simple truths. Not “father knows best”, but “you will miss him when he’s gone”.

Love one another. Respect others; their beliefs and their belongings. Be true to your word. Be true. Be on time. Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t hold grudges – forgive others as you would be forgiven. Forgive. Listen more than you speak. Take the time. Put your heart and soul into what matters most to you.

Worship

Worship

I find solace and
Infinite quiet joy
In the liturgy
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The ancient words,
The rhythm
As much my worship
As the words
The ritual
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid
I fall to my knees
Bow my head
Talk to The One I believe
With all my being
Created this earth
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord, the giver of life
In the morning
With lessons and prayers
For unto thee will I pray
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning
Oh Lord in the morning will I address my prayers
Unto thee and look up!
And in the evening
With hymns
I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you
O my soul, rejoice!
I find my way

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

Jilly: Stories That Stand the Test of Time

Eight Ladies Writing

Universal Themes Universal Themes

Why do some stories continue to capture the public’s imagination for years, decades or even centuries?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. It started with Outlander. We’ve been talking about the book and the Starz TV series in Kat’s posts here, on our private blog, and in a polite but robust email discussion this week about whether the plot is palatable to a modern audience. Somewhere in the mix, somebody (pretty sure it was Kay) said something like: I always wonder, why this book?

Then last Thursday I

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Blessings

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I am on day 5 of Maya Stein’s Quick and Dirty Poetry class.

What Maya defines as “feral writing” is a new approach for me. On her website she says “Do you remember those moments in childhood when you “ran wild,” the times you were encouraged to explore and engage with the world around you on your own terms?

Feral Writing taps into this same joy of spontaneity and discovery, seeking to explore the electric connections and currents of our hidden world, and to follow that journey with words. More than a traditional writing workshop, Feral Writing workshops offer participants the opportunity to let loose and take risks, while at the same time refining writing instincts, developing better editing skills, and developing a writing practice that sticks.”

One of today’s writing prompts was Blessing.

Grace be unto you, and peace…

Blessing
We wake and leave our homes
Unafraid, for the most part
Eating the ripe peach
At lunch time, forgetting to wash it
Or not caring, not worried
We sigh
At the grocery bill
As we fill the pantry to overflowing
Hunger, to us
Is running late to dinner
Or skipping lunch because we are busy
We have never felt the hunger
Of not knowing where our next meal will come from
Or not remembering when we had our last
We don’t know the fear
Of our own government
Or the filth of not having clean water.
Sweaty after planting flowers in the garden
We duck our heads under the hose
Never doubting the plentiful, cool, clean water
That will gush forth
Life giving
Security providing
Unrecognized
Blessings.

I am making an effort to recognize my blessings.

Mom, Mom, Mommy, Momma

or the Evolution of My Identity as a Daughter and Mother
Teri with InfantWhen I was young my mother was always “Mommy”. That’s also what I heard my mother call her own mom. Once I hit the teen years calling my mother “Mommy” where people could hear made me uncomfortable. I started talking about my Mom, but at home, she was still Mommy. Over the years, though, I gradually started both referring to her as and calling her “Mom”.

I became Mommy. My own children called me Mommy (although when writing Cassie tended to use Mommie) and my own mother gradually became Grandma, even to me. As my children grew they started calling me Mommy less and less, repeating that pattern, and I became Mom, or Mama.Mommy/Grandma Painted in Waterlogue

In recent years I have noticed I refer to my mother as “my Mom”, but I call her Mommy much more again. It’s who she is, and for me it holds much more weight in terms of affection and history and meaning than Mom ever can. Mom is a bit reserved and a bit distant and maybe more of a public persona than Mommy, for me. I needed my mother to be Mom, with that implied distance, as I was learning to be my own person, my own adult with a family and home and traditions all my own.

I don’t have any grandchildren, but I have noticed that I am sliding back into being Mommy for my kids as well. I think it comes as a byproduct of their growing confidence in themselves as adults. They are less concerned with being cool (because they just are cool!) and more focused on relationships and family ties.

So my mother has evolved from Mommy to Mom to Grandma to Mommy and I am moving through those same, if slightly altered, evolutionary steps. I don’t have any need for distance anymore and I am enjoying this second time around with my mommy, whom I greatly admire and love to spend time with. I only hope I have enough of her in me to complete the cycle with my own kids.

What do you call your mother?  Has it changed over time?

The Flavor of Childhood Summers

For me scenttuna chowder can evoke a memory better than any other sense. A bit of salt and sea in the air and I am transported to my childhood home. A certain mixture of lemon Pledge, Downy and warmth brings my mother’s face instantly to mind. Jessica McClintock perfume does both – it brings both the beach and my mother to me.

But there’s a reason why we talk about “comfort food” not “comfort smells”. With food we get both scent and sustenance. When we eat our special foods we can relive the warm feelings of the experiences that made a certain dish comfort food for us.

Summertime, and the living is easy….
I spent most of my summers with my paternal grandparents in the Bay Area. Like many kids of my generation I had two parents with vital careers which made staying home for summer vacation complicated. My grandmother cared for me and my cousins during the long, hot California summer through the seventies and into the eighties. The flavor of summer when I was young was frozen grape juice-bars, home-made lemon yogurt, poached-eggs-on-toast-with-cheese, and tater-tot casserole. I celebrated a lot of birthdays with my grandparents being an August baby.

When I got a little older and my sister and I could stay home for the summer the flavors were of pancakes with Karo syrup (shudder!), Kraft macaroni and cheese and McDonald’s chicken McNuggets. But in those teen-aged summers I was also home for my birthday.

The birthday dinner I asked for year after year was my maternal Grandmother’s Tuna Chowder. A hearty soup, but a relatively light dinner in the hottest month of the year. It’s a wonderfully easy and quick recipe and served with a green salad and some home-made bread (or my mom’s green onion and jack cheese biscuits) it tastes just like summer to me.

Grandma Hazel’s Tuna Chowdertuna chowder
2 Tbs butter
¼ C chopped celery
1 C chopped onions
1 C diced potato
8 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 ¼ tsp coarse salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp thyme
¼ tsp dill
2Tbsp flour
3 C milk
1 large flat can tuna in water, drained
2 Tbsp parsley
1 C grated Monterrey Jack cheese

Combine the butter, celery, onion and potato in a large, heavy stock pan or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, until potato is softening. Stir in salt, pepper, thyme, dill and flour. Cook, stirring constantly about 5 minutes until the flour is slightly browned. Add tomatoes, milk, tuna and parsley. Heat, stirring, until soup is thickened and boils. Stir in cheese and serve.

Be careful after adding the thickening as it can scorch.

Enjoy! (and share your summer favorites!)

10 poems that look like what they mean

This post from Qwiklit shares a number of poets playing with words and space. I love the mix of words, imagery and tempo. I most enjoyed Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, perhaps because of my recent train journey. I keep going back to the rhythm of the train that Pound created with those few words and spaces.

Qwiklit

By May Huang

Poets employ various means to get their message across in their poems, ranging from rhyme scheme to alliteration. However, poetic meaning can also be translated visually through a form termed “concrete poetry;” indeed, numerous poets experiment with line breaks and typography to present their work in a way that ‘looks’ the way it is supposed to ‘mean.’ Here are 10 poems whose meanings lie in their appearances:

1) George Herbert – Easter Wings

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Published in 1633, George Herbert’s Easter Wings is the oldest concrete poem in this list. A poem about flight in its metaphorical sense, Easter Wings aptly takes the form of a pair of wings (the likeness is even more remarkable if you rotate the poem 90 degrees to the right).

2) 40-Love by Roger McGough

The English poet Roger McGough sends readers’ eyes travelling to and fro the way a tennis ball would across…

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I feel the ghosts return here

 

I feel the ghosts return here

I feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. The land feels ancient in a way that is different from the history that steeps all of New England. The ghosts return here.

If feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. I feel them walk with me when I am on the dirt path behind the house. They pace beside me, companionable and as undemanding as my dog, but I hear their soft footsteps beside, in front and behind me. I am not sure what they are here to tell me, if anything, or if they are just company. Maybe they are not here for me at all, but for the place, the space, that seems to be home for me.

I feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. The settlers and homesteaders, gold miners and First People are as real and immediate here as my grandfather with his scratchy wool shirts, beard stubble and smoky scent who seems to come down the stairs to check in a couple times a day.

I feel the ghosts return here – I talk to them, sometimes even out loud if I am the only one home, or on a walk by myself. I feel the ghosts return here and they are such good company. I feel the ghosts return here.