Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simple Christmas Delights

Teach us to delight in simple things.
- Rudyard Kipling

Today is such a day for simple things. Snow has been falling slowly and gently all day. Blessed I am among women that I was able to stay home for most of the day, out just long enough to appreciate being in.

Derrick had two of his friends over for much of the afternoon. Love the laughter and energy teenage boys bring into the home. While they play video games I make pizza for them. They totally wipe out the gingersnaps I made yesterday afternoon, so I make a batch of cherry oatmeal cookies to take their place. Christmas music weaves in and out of the sound of the boys talking and laughing, along with their games. My time is spent between the kitchen and dining room where I have Christmas projects spread out over the table. It's a mess, but the kind of mess that brings me happiness. A productive mess.

How amazing it is to think of this as Derrick's possible last year spent with me during the Advent season. I don't want to think of everything "as the last time," but it is difficult not to. I don't know where he'll end up this time next year so knowing that makes this Christmas season seem all the more special. I remember the first Christmas he was here. Living in temporary housing while our new home was being built, all the Christmas ornaments packed away in storage. It was impossible to think of not having a tree for his first Christmas. As if he would even know! I don't even have pictures of it anymore. But that Christmas is engrained in my memory so clearly. We got a tree with long needles, a full, round tree. I bought an abundance of candy canes and red velvet bows to hang on the tree, along with white lights. Simply delightful. Derrick would lay on his floor quilt in front of the tree and wave his hands and legs as if hoping to take off in flight to the top of the tree. Next year he really will take off in flight, onto the next phase of his life.

Today's events will join other memories without photos (camera left in the desk drawer at school) for me. How is it that some of those memories are more visual than those with the actual pictures?

Derrick's happy because his school has already posted a two hour delay for morning. Another simple happiness.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

52 Wonderful Things on a November Afternoon

1. Sharing the love of my life, my son, these years.

2. Two silly and/or purring cats to keep me in constant company.

3. Sparkling, sunny sky on a November day.

4. The love and support of my family.

5. The sound of two 11 year olds from Taiwan playing and laughing in the house.

6. An inspiring message this morning. Feeds my soul in such a great way.

7. My good health.

8. Being a student of yoga.

9. Looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Family gathers and favorite foods!

10. The smell of a pumpkin cake baking away.

11. Work I enjoy.

12. Friends that call me in the morning.

13. Friends that call me at night.

14. The music of Luka Bloom.

15. The choice of different music to fit my mood.

16. The laughter of teenagers gathering for fun and pizza.

17. Reading a good book in bed at night.

18. A cup of chai.

19. A clean house.

20. Colleagues that work together in the best possible way.

21. The feeling of getting out of the shower in the morning, ready to start the day.

22. Creativity!

23. Making a gift for someone.

24. Friends scattered around the world.

25. Stars glowing in the deep night.

26. Sunrise at the lake.

27. Walking in the woods.

28. Looking for seasonal changes in Indiana.

29. Pumpkins lined up on the brick wall.

30. Clementines.

31. Finding friends in my area. Coffee date set for Sunday afternoon!

32. Looking forward to taking another mixed media class.

33. Planning for Christmas. All of a sudden I have gift ideas for everyone!

34. A brand spanking new espresso machine. Can’t wait for morning.

35. Getting my lessons done.

36. The boys from Taiwan asking me for titles of songs I listen to. I’ll make them a CD to take home. Country!

37. Derrick finishing his homework project.

38. Messages from friends.

39. Catching a glimpse in the mirror and being pleasantly surprised.

40. Taking time to write in my journal.

41. Clean sheets to crawl into.

42. The admiration of a younger man.

43. The magic of cell phones, being connected in a moment.

44. Not to mention the magic of the internet.

45. Naked trees, especially the birch.

46. Long walks.

47. Meeting new friends.

48. Beginning the holiday baking. First batch of gingerbread cookies to share!

49. Watching a favorite movie without interruption.

50. A new razor. Makes my legs feel marvelous.

51. Meditation

52. Healing joy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Boys at Home

All of a sudden I am a mother of three! Such energy the two boys from Taiwan have brought to our household! Derrick and I have such a rhythm to our days. This is a nice distraction and break from our routine. It reminds me of when Derrick was that young and playing with friends at home.

Listening to the boys play and talk is pure delight. I don't understand one word of Chinese, but listening to them is fun. They've been polite and are definitely members of the clean plate club. They've eaten everything I've put in front of them. They've asked questions about some things, but haven't turned up their noses at anything, like so many American children are apt to do.

The entire group gathers together every Saturday morning for an event. Yesterday we went to Conner Prairie, an historical view of Central Indiana. We'd hoped to go on a hot air balloon ride, but weren't able to do so due to the high winds. After lunch we went with a smaller group to a pumpkin patch. Traditional hayrides, wandering through a couple of corn mazes, painting small pumpkins, playing outside til we're all exhausted. Lots of fresh air! We made pizza for dinner. They both thought they were the best pizza chefs.

I was afraid that they would be homesick. But having a friend with them helps. Glad I decided to take two. Thee is always someone that understands them! I think it has helped that Derrick has a friend from Taiwan. He came over the first night to welcome them to America. Also hung out with us at the pumpkin patch in the afternoon. D thinks it's great that the Asians outnumbered the whites for once! The boys have a computer with them, provided by their school. The fact that they can skype with their family back in Taiwan almost every day helps with the homesickness, too. It isn't like summer camp, after all!

I've tried to warn them about taking things to school . . . wonder how long it will take before someone steals something from them. I was horrified to hear from J's teacher this week that his phone went off in the middle of class! Not only that he got a text message in the classroom, but mostly because he had his phone at school. In his back pack, not a pocket. I've had Mr. P talk to them about it. We'll see!

The entire school has wrapped their arms in welcome to our 12 students. I had an obligation on Friday night so my boys spent time with 4 other teachers. Another teacher joined us at the pumpkin patch yesterday afternoon. Another teacher has invited us to trick or treat with her family tonight. Not only do they welcome the students, but I feel closer to some of my colleagues because of this experience. A good way for our school to bond together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

All weekend the Dierks Bentley song title keeps going through my mind. No, I'm not crazy enough to run in the truck through danger . . . but What Was I Thinking?

Today is the last day I have before my two students from Taiwan arrive for a month. Into my humble home. Dropped into an inner city school during the day. Into two crazy cats and one teenager. To show them "typical America." Am I that? My single parent home. I certainly feel far away from the excess and success that so many people in the world associate to America.

Most of the house is clean enough. Working on the study today. Oh my. This space where I work on lessons, pay bills, do art work, house my books, sew, create words, dream. Little piles of all the pieces I am. Once I was brave enough to take a photo of my study. Not today. Maybe only an after picture . . . someday. Not today, I think.

Still, it is a good idea to have them here. Something that has the potential to make a lasting impact on the four of us in years to come. A connection across the world that will exist forever. I've always had friends around the globe, this is just another one. Sharing our daily lives for a month will connect us in a way that few have the opportunity to have. It isn't just a sight seeing trip.

Then there is the idea of them at school. Oh my. Please, please don't think of America as just that vision of the inner city school. While there are good things that happen there every day, glimmers of hope and progress, learning . . . there is also the angry voice, the bullying and meanness between, random acts of violence and destruction.

Hopefully they will see through some of that to the goodness that exists in the individual students and teachers there.  Hopefully they won't be disappointed in our daily life. Hopefully they think cats are OK. Hopefully they won't think our food is disgusting. Hopefully they will see the love that exists in our home, our safe haven in the world. Hopefully they will have a good impression of America to take back to their family and friends in Taiwan. Hopefully they will have positive experiences to remember about America in their years ahead. To remember that there are those of us who try to make a difference in the world and that the small pieces (like those found in my study) make up more than the whole that others sometimes see.

Back to the quagmire. It is looking better.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Not too long ago I went out for lunch on a lovely Sunday afternoon. It was a hot day, one of many this summer. But I had the feeling as though it might be one of the last times I might be able to go to the local pub and sit outside for lunch. I wanted to enjoy the day. I was seated by the hostess and waited for the server to come. Soon she was there and greeted me with, “You’re all by yourself?!”

Wow. What a bummer. Nothing like making someone feel like a real for sure looser. I’m sure that wasn’t her intention, and perhaps I was feeling a bit vulnerable. No, come to think of it, I wasn’t. I’d gone to a beautiful meditation in the morning and was feeling surrounded by love. Just because a person is alone doesn’t mean they are unloved. I remember thinking, I have lots of friends, they just don’t happen to live here in Indianapolis! But, of course, I didn’t need to justify myself to her. Even during the lunch, I chatted with the couple at the next table. Brings to mind the book I’m reading for school right now, The Power of Words. We never really know how someone else will take what we say, however innocent the words may be.

Today I am thankful for the friends I have. Even though they may not be located physically near me, they are out there. These are the friends that are soul friends. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since we were last together. It could be years. But when we see or talk on the phone, even chat on line, it is as though we are together again, sitting at a kitchen table, chatting together over a cup of tea of coffee. (Or maybe at a pub to share a glass of wine!) We pick up on the strand of Life that connects us and brings us together immediately. I’m grateful I have so many of these friends.

These are the friends that provide my life with light and love.
Lori, sister first, friend forever

Kay, a new lake friend. Warm and intelligent.

Karen, ready for a day of hiking.

Barb L. College roommate, life long friend.

Rachel, providing music. Far now in miles, but not in heart.

Tina. Pure light.

Surrounded by Carolyn and Lori. What could be better?

Laura. A friend found in Texas. Interwoven stories.

Alicia and her new love. Blessed to watch her grow.

Can't have too much of Kay and Lori!

Beate. Beautiful B.

Only too bad that none of them were present to show the waitress that I truly am not by myself!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not As Dumb As It Might Seem

The opossum returns. Chooses Aztec Chocolate Fudge cake over kitty crunchies.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Late Night Visitor

Last night a baby opossum showed up on the patio. Checking the doors before bedtime, I wasn't particularly surprised to see him. Opossums are frequently seen at night. But such a little one! It looked so vulnerable, so precious, as most young animals do. It sat on  my chair, washing his face. When it looked up and saw me there was no alarm on his face, pure trust. I was able to see his claws, his still young soft fur, his whiskers.

Mind you, I've never considered opossums to be cute, cuddly creatures. This one was different. I wanted to share it with someone. Tommy, my big tabby, finally looked to see what I was looking at. Then Bitty, watching us both, came to see what Tommy was looking at. The cutie had by now crawled off the chair and made his way to investigate the plastic that D had left on the floor, after unwrapping some firewood. He crawled inside the plastic and I was actually concerned he might be suffocated by it! It made a rustling as he moved in it and he slowly turned around to hiss at the invisible perpetrator. Kitties watching in amazement, Bitty's tail twitching. He didn't seem the least little bit concerned by any of us. Is it possible he understood the window between us kept him safe from us? He made eye contact, so I'm certain he knew we were there.

Now, do I try to see him grow?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Farmers Market

One of my favorite things about living in this small town turned suburban sprawl community is the Farmers Market. Every Saturday morning from May through September there are white tents put up on the square and vendors bring in their wares.

Whenever I'm in town I walk over to the market to pick up what looks best to me. That's how I start my menu planning and grocery shopping for the upcoming week. This week I found a beautiful eggplant, rich and full. Haven’t decided how to use it yet. A basket of tomatoes, waiting to be sliced into some of the last lettuce-bacon-tomato sandwiches of the season. Peaches to be sliced onto ice cream, put into my lunch yogurt, or onto a bowl of cereal in the morning. Perhaps all three in the same day! I won't have that chance again until next summer, after all. Absolutely luscious Asian pears. When we sliced one for lunch today as soon as it touched my lips I literally squealed in delight! If I’m early enough I always buy a dozen eggs. So much better fresh from the farm! Thankfully, I was early enough this week.

Farmers Market makes me feel at home here. I’m close enough to be able to walk over. Doing so makes me feel so connected to the market and so to the people there. I become familiar with the vendors. They greet me as a regular customer. Even if we don’t really know each other, it makes me feel as though I belong here, transplant that I am. I enjoy talking with the young Amish gentleman who expounds on growing food organically. I laugh along with the man I buy eggplants and peppers from. Perhaps a form of flirting. He seems to view his vegetables as such voluptuous entities.

There is a friendly feeling to the market. People walk their dogs, bring their children, visit with neighbors. It’s always easy to start a conversation with someone looking at the same produce. Except, of course, when the berries are almost sold out.

It’s sad to think that there is only one market day left this season. Especially sad because this time of year has some wonderful produce. Of course, some is on the wane. But those coming in now are so colorful; pumpkins, gourds, squash. Foods that provide comfort to simply be home at this time of year. All week I’ll think about what I might purchase in an effort to tide me over until the market opens up again in the spring.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Grand Canyon

My sister will turn 50 next June. That is amazing in so many ways!  She decided some time ago that to celebrate her birthday she wanted to hike the Grand Canyon with some friends. Six of us are fortunate enough to be able to go in May - Mother's Day no less - to celebrate with her. 

The trip should be good in so many ways. The Canyon is one of my favorite places on Earth. I've been fortunate enough to visit it several times now. Thinking about it, many of those times seem to be passages for me. As a wife in a still maintainable marriage. (Fact is, trips is what we did best together!) As a friend within an adventurous couples group. As a mother to a young boy. That trip was by far the most frightening, albeit the least physically difficult!

Getting ready for the trip is a focus for me. Although it is about 8 months away, I figure I'll need those months to be physically ready for the challenge the Canyon has in store for me. After all, when I was there before I was considerably younger. Not to mention the fact that I weighed less than I do now. Sigh. My training will include yoga for strength and flexibility. And of course for the spiritual strength and endurance yoga provides. Weight training. Hiking and walking - but the central Indiana area isn't exactly known for canyon-like traits! The thing I look forward to the least in the training is the treadmill or stair master type training. But a person must think with the goal in mind!

The goal this trip provides for me is one of the most exciting things about it. This is a year of transition for me. D will graduate from high school in a few short weeks after the trip. I'll be a single empty-nester then. I certainly have to have something else to think about in these months than that!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crossing the World Without Leaving the Middle of Indiana

Sitting in a Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon. Catching up on e-mail, browsing the blogs, thinking about how quickly summer freetime is slipping away. 

So, sitting here in the middle of Indiana on a hot day, simply reading away. Two phone calls come in. B is in Germany and misses me. Needs to let me know the latest, greatest on how her life is going these days. Chatting and laughing from so many miles away. Of course, one phone call will never do with her. Two is always better! Too many thoughts to contain in just one phone call. Then I start chatting on FaceBook with R in England. Still trying to convince her she should return to Indiana as she tries to convince me to move there. Then my sister calls from her holiday in Italy. Gives me an update about where she's been this trip, what her college-age daughters think about it. Then I respond to an e-mail from my principal, letting him know I'd be interested in hosting a student from Taiwan for a month this year.

How wonderful to have so many connections across the globe. That is one of the good things about living in the world of technology.

Too bad I don't have any photos on my laptop to include in the post! Will have to edit some in later. Guess that's a bad thing about the technology . . . still have to rely on yourself to be organized enough to take advantage of it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Concert on the Green

Last night was a concert in our town. I walk there from home, feeling very European. Always take a picnic to listen to the music from the lawn. I lay down a rug and place my bandana quilt on top. Puts me right in the mood for a picnic! Took a pizza with spinach, calamata olives and feta cheese. Perfect for a summer evening.

The music isn't always my preference, but it doesn't matter. An Elvis sang to us, the children danced amongst themselves or with a parent, dogs walked, bubbles blew in the breeze. Even though I go alone, I am happy to be in the midst of it all. I met a dear family last night, talking with the mother and her children was wonderful. Those are the moments I feel connected to this world and perhaps that my purpose is to bring the promise of a light to others.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summertime and the Kitties are Good!

I’m watching the kitties for my aunt and uncle, out of town for the weekend. The house cats are used to my visits and greet me as per normal. The outside kitties are such a treat! Blackjack has been a regular feral visitor in their yard for several years, coming and going on a rather regular basis. One day last fall he showed up with four kittens in tow. So they thought they ought to rename “him” to provide a more feminine name.

The kittens grew, as kittens do. They could be lost litter mates to my Bitty, though she is just a bit smaller. Near as we can tell, they must be about the same age. Aunt N shares the stories of their playing and growing in the back yard. She was determined to catch them this spring for neutering. After several attempts, she was able to get all of them captured for their operations. What a surprise to learn that Blackjack is male after all! Tomcats always have such a poor reputation for being mean, but he was determined to save his kittens (they are all almost exact replicas of him) after their mother apparently couldn’t. He knew just the right spot, the place he’d visited in Aunt N’s yard! Now he never leaves and the kittens are deeply rooted there. They play in the yard, eat rather well on the deck, and scoot under the gazebo at the slightest sign of danger.

While feeding them the past few days I’ve been surprised they let me get as close to them as I do. I talk, they listen, seem to appreciate my visits, but then, I am putting new food in clean dishes for them! Even Blackjack will allow me to talk to him. He hissed a bit at first, but I just opened my heart to him and he seems to accept me now. He lets the kittens eat first.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Extraordinary April Morning

An ordinary April morning.  Until I decided to make it extraordinary.  So I made crepes for breakfast.  Totally unplanned, but I was reading and thinking about making days special.  Not just the holidays and special events and occassions.  The ordinary days where we live our lives.  Our lives are just the moment, the here and now, not the past, not the future.  That makes every day a day that should have something extraordinary about it.  So I decided to make crepes for Derrick so he would wake up to a special breaksfast with me.Needless to say, Derrick was thrilled to be greeted with the crepes for breakfast.  My son has always been a discerning eater!  Made me happy to use my china for breakfast, too.  So what if I only used the top two in the stack? It didn't take that much longer to clean up after we finished eating.  Especially when I consider that these are the memories of ordinary days that he'll take with him when he goes on in life.  Mornings that we shared a nice meal together, making it special just for the two of us. 

Entertainment provided by Bitty.  Music by Bach.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Heaven's a Little Closer at the Lake

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the lake ends and the sky begins. Looking over the lake from the deck on a chilly morning and thinking there isn’t a better way to start the day. A quiet house, a cup of tea, my journal and the view. Life simply can’t be better than this.

When I look at the lake, especially with the sky reflected in the water I wonder which is more real. Is it the sky with the clouds? Or is it the water itself? Imagine, looking down on the water from above and seeing yourself floating there. Is that how Spirit views Spirit?

It won’t be long until the green returns to earth and trees. Already birds are beginning to twitter and fly, letting us know warm weather isn’t far beyond our grasp. Trees will bloom with color, flowers will pop everywhere. The willow trees are greening, the daffodils give us hope.

Spring break has started. One full week without the students! Yippee!! Not going away this year. Just clearing up, spring cleaning, working on some creative projects, and getting ready for the last 7-8 weeks of school. And so another year goes by. How does that happen so quickly?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How I love Sundays! This morning was perfect. Up later than usual, but not so late as to feel guilty about it. I made a batch of blueberry scones for breakfast. It was a recipe my sister gave to me. It called for dried cranberries, but I had some fresh blueberries from the market and they called to me, asking for the substitution. Derrick loved the scones. It makes me feel happy when I make something he likes so much. I remember my delight when he would say, "Mmmm!" long before he could talk. He had four for breakfast. Then, as he told me later, another as an appetizer before lunch!

Yesterday I had a surprise visit with a friend that was passing through town on her way back from a conference. It was good to see her because she has recently gone through a breakup, following a relationship of nearly 7 years. I was glad to see her because I was able to really get a good reading on how she is feeling and doing.
"A friend well may be reckoned a masterpiece of nature." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Follows a note I sent to her this morning . . . "I am thankful that you are doing as well as you are. I thing that it is a testament that you are definitely ready for this next pahse in your life. Wondrous may it be! Be kind to yourself as you acknowledge that these days will bring a fluctuation of feelings. Anger, remorse, guilt, sorrow, happiness, relief, and so many more. This is all natural. Let the feelings flow through you as they need to do that you may move on. Don't get stuck on any one that might try to trap you. As you purge your emails and drawers, you will make room for new ventures, creative winds, and the like to enter into your life. Remember, all relationships have a time a time, a place, and a reason. As you think about your relationship with G, you will come to see that it was right . . . It was one that helped you bridge the difficult time in losing your father. It was one that had interesting place, over two continents! How exciting is that? And the reason? Perhaps one that helped you come to grips over the two places that have been most important in your life? An intellecutal stimulation that will fill your thoughts and soul for days to come . . . help you determine what it is you really want in this life. The words exchanged on paper between the two of you may become something of a story on its own, don't you think?"

Now, why can't I see this as good advice for myself as I strive to overcome my own lost relationship? Time, place, and reason. If it works for B, shouldn't it work for me? Certainly something worth considering.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
adapted from ancient Gaelic Runes
Who says that only Ireland can be emerald? Thankfully there are many beautiful green spaces in central Indiana! Even though it will be several weeks until we can see green like this again, it is surely on the way!
Last night celebrated St. Patrick's day quietly at home. The best way, in my opinion! I made an Irish stew especially for Derrick. It was good, but the smell was absolutely heavenly. Of course, my traditional Irish soda bread helped that along. I found some lovely cheeses at the grocery that were good accompaniments. One was a Dubliner cheese from Kerrygold, buttery and smooth. The other was a beer cheese, which Derrick thought much better.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Toward the end of January and hearts can feel lonely beyond repair. Cold and dreary outside leads to a cabin fever feeling. Remembering past Januarys doesn't always help. Thinking about them and the jolt that often comes in January; significant changes, lost loved ones. It's enough to make the heart feel heavy and lost itself.

Yet there is so much beauty that surrounds us, if only we look for it. These pictures were taken last year -this January has been far too dull for such sun sparkles on an ice laden world. It was a magical day. I had driven north to pick up my son. The ice storm had stopped short so that I wasn't inconvenienced by it. By the time I had to go north, the main roads were clear. The world was glistening and shining. My heart was light with the feeling of a new love. As I drove by the orchard, the beauty filled my heart. I couldn't help but to stop and explore. It was as if the entire world had been made just for me. And hasn't it, after all? No one will ever experience the world as me. What a gift.

That's what I need to remember on the bleak winter morning that meets me today. There may be an adventure to greet me this afternoon. If only the eyes of my eyes will remain open to experience what lies in wait for me.