Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If You Want It

Is it really that simple? That if I want the war to be over, and you want the war to be over, and millions of us want the war to be over that it can be? Is it really that simple? Can we ever ever ever get away from the manipulators long enough to think for ourselves, to concentrate on what unites rather than divides us? Can we get our acts together and vote the cretans out of office, vote in intelligence people whose integrity will not be bribed, bought, or sold?

Why do we let the few govern the masses while they become bloody millionaires and we scrape the bottom of our family money chests?

Who's in charge here?

Us? Them?

Good Lord!

Taxation Without Representation

Got my federal tax stuff in the mail today. Thickest of their booklets I've ever received.

Can't even get a week away from Christmas when the vermin start slithering under the door.

Feeling quite disenchanted with the current administration and the big government they embrace. Feels like a downhill slide into an abyss. Today's piece of mail doesn't help.

I'll let George Harrison speak for me:
Taxman

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me
Another Beatles' song hums behind this one in my mind: Revolution!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cat's Away

Frustrated.

Little Bit.

Holding in my hands, turning this way, turning that. Gazing at news of deceit most personal, most brazen.

Ugliness. Greed. Mockery.

Christmas Day sneakery, violation.

Miles away but to my heart, to our hearts.

Speaking for three, for six. We will not be divided or broken.

We will not become like you.

Ever.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Limited and Precious

Below is a short excerpt from a speech given by Steve Jobs to Stanford graduates after his cancer diagnosis and how the prospect of death had ceased to be just a useful intellectual concept (as quoted in Inside Steve's Brain, by Leander Kahney):
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Continually clearing out the old and false from heart and mind to make way for the new and true.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you, my blog readers! How I cherish you.

My wish for you is a pleasant day, a good day, one that rings happily in your ears when you lay your head on your pillow tonight. A day that keeps you smiling after your eyes are closed. A day of fun, of peace, of blessings, of understanding.

I won't keep you a second longer!

On with the Celebration!!

"Glory to the Newborn King!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twenty-Four - Merry Christmas Eve!

My series of pre-Christmas postings has come to end here with this last post. It's been fun exploring random thoughts my mind swirls up.

Christmas musings. Easy to elicit, easy to express. Warm fuzzies, egg nog, evergreens, and children scrubbed clean.

Jolly old elf with attitude just right to bring out the kind and generous in even the grinchiest scrooge.

Pensive hearts turn to the babe in the manger, celebrating his birthday which isn't really his birthday, he was born in the summer, but hey, we're too busy playing in the sun, planting gardens, and grilling meat then. Besides, how can summer compete with snow - or dreams of it - and woolly hats and scarves, wassail and cocoa, nuts and fruits, and hands and noses warming by crackling fires?

It's the coziness, the inwardness that creates the Christmas glow, I think. When looking out the window through precipitation's designs one is comforted to be nestled safely inside, encouraged with the choice to suit up and explore the outdoors' cold and wet, bright stars, descending snowflakes, visual evidence of one's breath, or to remain inside to explore games with children, victuals leisurely prepared, arts, crafts, projects long undone, and napping. Sweet, guilt-free napping! Because the earth is asleep she needs less tending by we mere mortals which affords us the opportunity to turn thoughts more toward wants and less toward needs.

(Yes, there are those who celebrate Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere amidst summer. They probably feel as sorry for us as we do for them.)

Back to the babe in the manger. Here is where it doesn't matter if one is in shorts or snow suit because Jesus came just the same. To satisfactorily contemplate the meaning of His life - and death - would take a thousand Christmases.

But today we have this one, this Christmas, this remembrance of God invading human life with a message of hope, of love, of rescue. A thinking person owes it to himself to ponder who Jesus was - and is - for this unusual Jewish man cannot be simply ignored. History tells us he was amazing.

This Christmas Eve my heart turns with focus to the God I worship throughout the year. The celebration adds a sacredness, a space to absorb what I know and how I feel. That fellow human beings all over the globe celebrate with me adds to the quiet, the opportunity, for together we take deep breaths and realize that something extraordinary happened in that stable 2000 years ago. God began anew his conversation with mankind.

And I, for one, am listening.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twenty-Three - Instinct

Like many women, I have a keen Mother's Instinct or Women's Intuition. And I listen to it as it seldom fails.

Instincts get a bum rap. Until a tragedy is averted because they are acted upon. But those instances are quickly forgotten. Science and Intellectualism stand arrogantly at the tip-top of the hill looking down on instinct and intuition, but they shouldn't.

Mysterious ways soften prideful edges, flesh out the skeleton of 'What We Should Know', creating instead creatures far grander than the most thorough college education can produce. There is more to us than the Scarecrow's Brain and the Tin Man's Heart. But that 'more' is quiet, non-intrusive. Oh, it can be loud but usually 'life' is louder. Our attention turns to the immediate, the demanding, the seemingly important and we can't hear the still small voice.

The still small voice that never says, "I told you so!" It doesn't have to. You already know.

I listen to my instincts. As a home-schooling mom I encourage the kids to 'trust your instincts' and they do. Sometimes our instincts are wrong so they shouldn't be given full reign. There seems to be some sort of connection between our sub-conscious and our conscious and I think instincts and intuition are some of the messengers that communicate to us.

If only we will listen.

I find the mystery fascinating!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twenty-Two - Nourish

Stuffy nose upon awakening. Hmm...

Plans change.

Need nourishment.

Of all sorts.

Oatmeal and Jasmine tea. Satisfying.

Back to bed. Doze amidst twinkling white Christmas lights bedecked with shiny green, gold, and yellow orbs. Grayness beyond glass panes.

Bangers and Mash. Broccoli, too. Sous chefs Tom, Cassie, and Caroline. Christmas carols play as we peel, cut, brown, simmer, steam, then eat. Glowing candles - ambience.

Sun peeks, clouds dissipate. Space claimed on heated floor, glass door wide open, sitting, leaning pillowed against white wall. Sixty degree breezes caress. Winter sun so low in sky yet full and gauzy bright. Eyes close. Face relaxes. Warmth.

Yes, nourishment of all sorts.

Feeling better. Much.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twenty-One - Solstice

The 2009 Winter Solstice will occur at 9:47 a.m. on Monday, December 21, 2009. That will be the local time on the western coast of the continental United States.
Artist: Beatles
Album: Abbey Road
Title: Here Comes The Sun

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right
Music and lyrics humming through my mind - I'm smiling. May it be a familiar refrain that settles gently on your spirit, too, so we can sing together.

Happy Solstice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Twenty - Ceremony

When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in importance. Time takes on a different dimension. Emotions flow more freely. The bodies of participants become filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches out and blesses the creation around them. All is made new; everything becomes sacred. ~~ Sun Bear

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nineteen - Play

Cassie, Caroline, and I saw The Nutcracker ballet over in Eugene at the Hult Center last night. So beautiful. Enchanted, magical! Just what we needed.

And we saw many friends there, too, which only added to the specialness of the evening.

This morning Tom and I will head over to the Holiday Market to snoop around. A friend sells honey there. Maybe we'll find more people we know, and goodies to amaze the senses. Who knows?

Let the play continue!

Merry Weekend Before Christmas! Make the most of it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Eighteen - Courage

Most people attempt to skirt problems rather than meet them head-on. We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them. Indeed, the tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all psychological illness. And since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us lack complete mental health. Those who are most healthy learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems. Although triumph isn't guaranteed each time we face a problem in life, those who are wise are aware that it is only through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn and grow.
~~~ M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seventeen - Knowing

Carl Jung was interviewed on film toward the end of his life.

"Do you believe in God?" the interviewer asked.

Jung, who was about 83 at the time, puffed on his pipe and answered, "Believe in God? We use the word 'believe' when we think of something as true but for which we do not yet have a substantial body of evidence. No, no, I don't believe in God. I know there is a God."
Eight days until Christmas Day. These are the best days of the holiday, almost better than the actual day which always passes quickly. I relish moments in darkened rooms lit only by twinkling lights and candles, stories read, movies watched, laughter, sharing, and quiet. Everything smells better, looks prettier, tastes more delicious, feels gentler. Relaxation.

For me, the extra hours of precious contemplation during Christmas feed my soul and gracefully stir my heart through quiet nights and mornings when my family is peacefully sleeping. I read once that a contemplative is one who takes a small bit of life experience and milks it for all it's worth. That describes me. Opportunities for learning present themselves everywhere. I grab hold of them and squeeze until I'm sure I've got all that I possibly can whether the learning is invigorating or downright nasty. There is a need to know. It's the way I'm made.

God made us to be learners, he intends for us to grow. It is not a given, no. We are told to work at it.
A man may perform astonishing feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge, and yet have no understanding of himself. But suffering directs a man to look within. If it succeeds, then there, within him, is the beginning of his learning. ~~ Soren Kierkegaard
Suffering is not the only method that God uses to direct a person inward, but it's the most common. And it's not always bigtime suffering such as illness or loss. Often it's the 'quiet suffering,' the personal stuff that no one else sees, the tangles that are hard to explain, the weight that loads a heart down. One can choose to block such things out - though they always manifest themselves somehow, some way - or they can contemplate them, learn, and hopefully grow.

It's a matter of perspective, as I always say.

The longer I live, the clearer I see.

What better time than Christmas - the celebration of God's Gift to mankind - to make time for thoughtful consideration of just what it is we are all supposed to be doing here in this great classroom called life?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sixteen - Old Lyrics Revisited

On an ancient record album - yes, record album - I have of Michael Murphey's, before he went cowboy and added the Martin to his name, there is a song entitled, Blessing In Diguise. I was a teenager when I first heard it. Yet, a few lines continue to rumble through my head decade upon decade.
It was a blessing in disguise
A foolish move can make you wise
A change brings back around the sun
So I can swim into the sky.

Tornados, ghosts, and lord of dreams
Ah, they're never what they seem
Thank you for opening my eyes!
Good-bye, sweet blessing in disguise.
Being one who 'thinks too much' - a taunt with which I heartily disagree - I have of late taken to muttering to myself during stressful times, "I haven't been me since I was three."

Thanks to a long-in-the-works blessing in disguise which was recently and utterly surprisingly revealed, suddenly and completely, I am stunned to find myself free.

Free!

I am me again.

Though I didn't commit a crime, I think I know how a prisoner feels when he walks out of the penitentiary after a long, grueling, gray-world sentence. The stink of the buildings hangs on, the sallow skin, sunken eyes, disorientation remain. But deep within, a Phoenix rises and can be felt in the heart.

Freedom.

Rebirth.

All the world lies before, unexpectedly swelling with vivid color and endless opportunity.

And the lightness. As though I could float up into the starry sky!

Darkness may descend tomorrow. Life's like that. Because of my sweet blessing in disguise there is wisdom, energy, and clarity to better face the inevitable storms heading my way.
Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die. ~~ Seneca
Little deaths - of all sorts - endings, surrenders, consciously giving up control of our lives when it is appropriate, ultimately handing ourselves over to God.

Grateful to God am I for putting to death a half-century of discipline that has been good for my soul.

Whatever may be ahead, I humbly embrace the next chapter of my life.

Learning to live. Learning to die. Learning to be reborn.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fifteen - Tranquility

Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk. ~~ Charles H. Spurgeon
When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere. ~~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Feeling tranquility like never before this Christmas. Not because all is perfect in my world, but all is well with my soul.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fourteen - Hope

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

~~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery


(Photo by Ben Klusman, Enko Photography)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thirteen - Relief

It's actually happening.

I'm enjoying the Christmas Season again.

Some moms and others may empathize with me. It gets hard, making a holiday magical year after year. One can become disillusioned when tuckered out from all the madness and being taken for granted.

But this year, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Downsizing, taking my own ridiculous expectations off my shoulders, avoiding certain things that drain drain drain me, sticking to my personal goals, and best of all, delegation.

It's made a huge difference.

The decision to enjoy Christmas was a good one. To think of the strain I put myself under all those years. I'd say, "What a waste!" but it wasn't a waste. Comparisons aid in understanding.

Oh, don't go thinking there is a lack of Christmas cheer around here. Quite the contrary. With Mom - me - relaxed and in a good mood most of the time (no one's perfect!), there is energy to decorate, shop for gifts, cook nourishing meals, bake up a storm, play play play, read, relax, walk, and enjoy all sorts of new things coming our way.

Relief. That's what I feel this Christmas. Relief that the bad guys are gone, stress is on the down low, many of my demons have been conquered, my eyes are open again to things that give me joy, and joy I have.

Relief.

It's been a really long haul.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Intermission

My last post - with the frost etchings - is going to be allowed to linger in the Top Position for awhile. It makes me happy.

Besides, I want to do some baking for the next few days. Finally, I have free time.

Merry Christmastime, everyone!

I'll be back before you know it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten, Eleven, and Twelve - Nature's Art


Few things excite me more than Nature's Art.


Jack Frost etchings are near the top of my list.


We don't see frosty beauty like this often in the Willamette Valley but when we do, it is admired by me in long, lingering, shivering gazes.

Enjoy!

Click on each photo for a larger view.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nine - Friendship

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.' ~~ C.S. Lewis
A faithful friend is a strong defense: and he that hath found such an one hath found a treasure. ~~ Ecclesiastes 6:14
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. ~~ It's a Wonderful Life
The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it. ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This post is for Cassie and Caroline and all their friends.

You make my heart sing!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Eight - Curiosity

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life. ~~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Apparently, I was a mighty curious child. Mom said I was always getting into things, pushing the boundaries, touching, smelling, tasting. Always curious.

Hands slapped many a time. "NO!" But for the most part I think my journey of discovery was allowed when safe.

Mom loves to tell about when she'd make bread at home and I, not yet eye-level with the wooden board where she kneaded the dough, would repeatedly lift my arm so I could stick my little fingers on the edge of the board, coating them in flour.

"That's not sugar, Cherie," Mom would say every time.

I'd stick my fingers in my mouth and roll that flour around my tongue. I liked the dryness of it, the taste, too. Still do.

Mom marveled at me. People thought I was odd.

Who knew I'd grow up to be a better-than-average baker?

The signs were there.

Beginning with those curious little fingers.

Curiosity. Let it flourish!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Seven - Respect

Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all your fellow humans everywhere in the world. ~~ Margaret Laurence
This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible value to him. ~~ William Lyon Phelps
There is within the human heart the capacity for inexplicable kindness measured by respect for fellow human beings. Once the idea that all men, women, and children are made in the image of God takes hold in a mind the heart follows with enormous impetus. Respect takes root. Working in tandem, heart and mind move, instinctually, mindfully.

At work one day, when I was a mere 26, I noticed a fire truck rush past the large, picture window in front of my desk. My fellow employees and my boss raced outside to see what was happening. I followed. A tiny, rundown shack was on fire. We stood at a short concrete wall above a very low-income neighborhood like lords and ladies watching the occupants scramble to get everyone out of the house. A large woman holding a dirty, diapered baby sobbed uncontrollably as all she owned in the world, along with her rented shelter, burned to the ground yards away. Another woman stood at her side patting her on the back.

Before I even knew what was happening I found myself hurrying along the gravel walkway, down, down to the little burning home. I had never met this woman, had never seen her before that moment. She was a complete stranger. I hugged her and she clung to me as though I was her only friend in the world. I kissed the baby's head. I assured the woman that there would be help for her, that I would help her. Shaken to her core, she had the presence of mind to write down for me the address where she would stay until she figured out what to do. It was her brother's home.

After work I went home and gathered some clothes and a few toys my son had outgrown. I bought diapers. I boxed up food. I picked flowers. I put some cash into a small envelope along with my name and number should she need anything else. Then, I drove to the address she'd given me. I knocked on the door. Her eyes opened wide when she saw me. "I didn't think you'd actually come back to help," she said in astonishment. She accepted the gifts with gratitude. The others in the house silently watched our interaction, seemingly stunned. I hugged her warmly. She thanked me.

And I never saw her again. When I checked back I was told she'd moved out of town.

My actions at the time were pretty much a blur. I'd never done anything of that nature so impulsively before.

I don't retell this story for accolades. Not at all. I tell this story because of the one thing that is startlingly clear in my memory. After I'd hugged the woman and climbed the path back up to the wall where my boss and co-workers were still gawking at the sad scene, my boss, who had seen my encounter with the fire victim, said to me, " You can't help people like that. She'll just go find somewhere else to squat."

His words, like a shock of frigid water thrown on my naive heart, still sting today. Not because he hurt me. He didn't. The sting from his coldhearted reaction informed my idealistic mind that it is possible for hardness to overcome a heart of flesh and turn it to stone. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, someone or something somewhere had hurt this poor man, rendering him incapable of simple compassion.

See, he had no respect for the handiwork of God, or for the ways of love, the mystery of each unique irreplaceable person.

I lost some respect for my boss that day. But I gained a modicum of wisdom, which I admit, I sometimes forget.

Humanly speaking, there is no one beneath me, or above me.

We are all in this together.

Respect the individual.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Six - Wonder

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. ~~ Rachel Carson
The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn't, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there. ~~ Monica Baldwin

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Five - Tears

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love. ~~ Washington Irving

Friday, December 04, 2009

Four - Silence

I think the first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he approaches nearest to gods who knows how to be silent, even though he is in the right. ~~ Cato the Elder
Learning the restfulness of silence is a new experience for me. Understand I mean not just the absence of speaking or other noise, but calm silence in my being. Tranquility amidst external confusion. In certain situations, silence assures. Strength lives there.

Sometimes one must speak out especially for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Then again, sometimes the noise from opponents is too loud, too chaotic. A wrong threatens to occur and one is powerless to point it out. So occur it does. It is then that silence is a comforting companion because she reminds you that God can work without you, does so everyday. Lay your worry down. It will be all right. Interior quiet is the better choice when expressions of common sense fall on deaf ears.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Trust. Listen.

Sweet surrender.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Three - Courtesy

Life is short, but there is always time enough for cour-tesy. ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friends are helpful not only because they will listen to us, but because they will laugh at us; Through them we learn a little objectivity, a little modesty, a little courtesy; We learn the rules of life and become better players of the game. ~~ Will Durant
Scratching puppy ears.

Pouring hot chocolate for another.

Holding the door, offering a hand, carrying groceries through drenching rain to the kitchen counter. Not because you have to, because you want to.

Politeness for politeness sake.

Showing kindness whether merited or not.

Offering warmth in action.

Good medicine in an often rude world.

Courtesy.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Two - Love's Effects

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. ~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The word 'hate' is an ugly word to view on the page. I don't like it at all. Makes me tense just looking at it. But the word 'love' is pleasant and soothing. Concepts real and true.

Choices to take, decisions to make.

Easy to be crabby, angry, dourly. To grouch around, criticize, fume. Harder to see the bright side. Hard to overcome frustration, especially when its cause is entirely outside of ourselves. This takes a certain amount of training for some of us. But train we must if its love's effects we desire.

The effects of hate harm deep, jagged, sometimes irretrievably. But love, love, love does indeed cover a multitude of sins. Love's effects pave the way for understanding.

Understanding leads to openness and cooperation.

And forgiveness.

And togetherness.

And eventually, joy.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

One - Simplicity

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~~ Hans Hofmann
Winter does this. Leaves fall, bushes turn to sticks, snow muffles noise.

What was hidden in the blossoming of summer and the busyness of harvest seems to step forward.

And speak.

Beauty in its time.

Perfect.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Considering It

I'm seriously considering posting every day in December, too.

Christmas Spirit is bubbling up.

Maybe it can cheer?

Maybe I can keep myself cheered?

What d'ya think?

Thirty Days of November

NaBloPoMo. National Blog Post Month. A post a day for the month of November.

I did it.

The month began with irritation at people who did not behave appropriately.

It ended with refreshment because of those who did.

One of my favorite things to do is seek wisdom, advice, refreshment, guidance when I'm having a hard time with the elements of daily living. Never sure where is the help or from where it will appear. Sure, though, from whom it comes.

Normally one who tantrums against commercialism during our winter holidays, this year I decided to take a different approach. Rather than let my foot step onto the bah-humbug path, I've decidedly set my foot on the path I want. For a change. You can't fight City Hall, you can't fight glitzy advertising, greed, and manipulation at Christmas.

But while meandering store aisles you can see past the glitz and greed. You can see shining faces of children in stores, a hundred lights reflected in their wide eyes. You can notice excitement in women who select just the right ingredients, fingers feeling for ripeness, freshness, for nothing else will do. You can observe uncertain yet eager men carefully selecting gifts for adored wives and children.

Sure, there are bobbing-headed, over-scheduled children coughing, wheezing, and boogering in dozens of shopping carts. And yes, most of the women appear bedraggled, fed up. Certainly crabby men at Christmas are a dime a dozen. But if you search, you will find. Maybe not in every store. Maybe not every day. But look. You'll see. The Spirit of Christmas lives...quietly.

This year I choose to watch the bubbles on the simmering eggs, smell the love in the fresh cinnamon rolls, taste the voluntary surrender of the early morning hours in tender turkey. I choose to seek out the lovely, the kind, the giddy, the joy in strangers. I will smile at them and they will smile at me. Kindred spirits who refuse to let the dark into our lighted souls.

My personal desire this Christmas? To create joy for others and for myself. To create a place of refreshment, the comfort of home. Soft candle flames, aromas sweet and savory, peace in word and deed. Creation, honor, attention. The unconditional love of family united. To keep kindness safe here in my nest, and to carry it with me when away. To share.

After a mid-year experience of the larger family divided my sights are ever more honed on the one true thing: love. Division created by its absence taught me the lesson well, for the void is cold, hard, uninhabitable.

No longer numb to what I've taken for granted I feel sincere love this Season - it shines and rings and scents my heart with its sincerity.

Good, when compared with evil, glimmers all the more.

Seek the good and you shall find.

Thanks be to God, the giver of all good gifts!

Now where is my tea? My footstool? A long month of typing is over.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Simple Things - Part Two

Tom's grandma started a tradition when he was one year old. Cinnamon Rolls for Thanks-giving breakfast. Homemade. To die for.

Of course this tradition had to live on. Of course I took up the baton for I was the one married to the man whose taste buds and sentimentality insisted it be so. Cinnamon Rolls were as important - maybe more so - that turkey on the November Holiday.

Sometimes I balk. No one likes feeling taken for granted.

But magic happens twice when I make the things.

First, when I remove them from the oven. They smell like.....love.

Second, Thanks-giving morning when each family member meanders - sleepy eyed and warm from bed - into the kitchen to select the roll for them, the smiling happen, the sniffing happens. Then - when I watch for it - each loved one gives me a quick appreciative glance. I don't know if they even know they do it, but they do.

Not that I need appreciation.

But it sure is nice!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Simple Things - Part One

Sometimes I feel dull in a world that seems much more sophisticated than I.

Probably that is how I should feel. Because it's true.

But little things, little teeny tiny things catch my attention and I feel connected. Not to the big sophisticated world, no, but to something else. Something real. Something seemingly insignificant but in reality quite awesome.

The little bubbles in the pan when it's about to reach its boiling point, the tiny bubbles covering the eggs in that same pan, these intrigue me. I stare. Transfixed.

"Do the sophisticated take time to notice this very relaxing, beautiful happening?"

I wonder.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Thought of Thanksgiving

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything God has given to us--and God has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of God's love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from God. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

~~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thoughts of Thanksgiving - Day Eleven

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~~ H. W. Westermayer
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Show your love, fill your heart.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts of Thanksgiving - Day Ten

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

~~ Johannes A. Gaertner

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughts of Thanksgiving - Day Eight

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~~ Albert Schweitzer

Carly Says it Best

"These are the good old days." ~~ Carly Simon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Before

Today is the last day before the holidays begin to enter the front door, eyes shining, eagerness, gifts in hand, giving, taking, and love. Lots of love.

It takes energy to meet this energy.

Too many years I've met the holidays exhausted. I push myself too hard beforehand. Over planning. Okay, yeah, fretting. "It must be perfect."

Growing wiser with the years at last. Leaving allowance for spontaneity, the unexpected wonder that tags along with the Holiday Spirit. Too often I shoo it away. "Leave me alone. I'm tired. You aren't expected."

This year I hope to welcome fresh ideas, new ways, new people, quiet and noise. Everything that rises.

We'll see.

For today, I am resting, I am hopeful, open to all.

Micro-management has been shut inside a locker, along with expectation. Locker chained and padlocked.

Simplicity greeted.

Something good this way comes.

I feel it in my bones.

Thoughts of Thanksgiving - Day Seven















The human spirit is incredibly strong, bountiful and miraculously resilient! Even in hard and trying times such as these, it is important to fill our hearts and minds with childlike wonderment at the miracle of being human. Look around this holiday season and SEE the light in children’s eyes, HEAR the laughter in your homes and SPEAK of your love to your family and friends. Fill your inner kettle with love and hope and you will know what it is to be thankful
. ~~ Karen Binder-Brynes, Ph.D.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thoughts of Thanksgiving - Day Six

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~~ Melodie Beattie

# 35


Do not be ashamed
of
simplicity
or small means.
~~ I Ching 


Simplicity is the hallmark of the superior person, ostentation, the hallmark of the inferior person. If you are following the path of the superior person you are the equal of any person on earth. There is no need, therefore, to present false appearances; even with slender means, or no means at all, the sentiment of the heart can be expressed. It is not for the value of your gift that you are appreciated, but for the sentiment with which it is given and the value you hold in the eyes of the receiver.


-- wu wei

Friday, November 20, 2009

Of Buckets and Sidewalks

I love reading the Facebook and blog musings of young moms. Excitement, awe, emotions all over the map as they lovingly scrutinize their little ones obliviously encountering life. Under mother's watchful eyes, ears, and hands Baby discovers life in his own way, on his own terms. No rush. Just wide open gulping of all that is available to experience. Mommy simply marvels at the uninhibited growth. Not only at what her child encounters and expresses but at her own response. Contemplating this powerful awakening between mother and baby, and baby and his world, renews.

When I set a bucket on my lawn and leave it there too long the grass turns yellow, then brown. Seems to die. It does come back if I remove the bucket. But no amount of time can coax the blades to save themselves. The bucket must be lifted.

This reminds me of pessimism. The bucket, representing the heavy hand of life, pressing down preventing essentials from reaching the lawn. The lawn gives up. It waits for outside forces to remove the obstacle so it can flourish again.

When concrete is poured over flower seeds they sprout anyway, probing for microscopic weaknesses in the concrete. Making their way to the surface they soak in the sun, the rain, whatever they need to thrive and express their own form of beauty.

This reminds me of optimism, concrete representing the harshness of life. Dense, deep concrete is not an obstacle for a seemingly fragile plant so much as a challenge which supports creativity, encourages strength and perseverance. The seed will simply not be stopped.

Growth is a process. Movement is required. Flexibility, too.

One can recoil from life, depend on outside forces for sustenance, exist in a holding pattern.

Or one can carry on, embrace the curiosities of growth and its hardship, both of which benefit in due time. To probe, explore, watch, adjust, and seize the day is to seek vitality, meaning, beauty. Holding happiness in our own hands is a choice. So is giving it to another to hold and dispense.

As in the hearts of children, like flowers that shatter concrete, meaningful existence is there for the finding. All it takes is willingness to reach, to find, to discover, to persevere under the heavy hand of life.

To grow.

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving - Day Five


If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'Thank you,' that would suffice. ~~ Meister Eckhart

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Our Stuff's Better"

Pulled the laundry out of the washer today.

Plunk! Onto the floor landed the slender white iTunes remote. It'd been in Cassie's pocket.

"Oh no," I thought. "I've ruined it."

Then, through my mind went Steve Jobs' words from the movie I watched last week, Pirates of the Silicon Valley. In one of the last scenes in the movie Bill Gates greedily, cold-heartedly brags that he stole from Apple to make his lousy, buggy Windows. Steve utters quietly, softly, more to himself than to Gates, "Our stuff is better."

IT IS!!!

I handed the remote to Caroline, she tested it on the computer, it still works perfectly. Even after being drenched in soapy water, bounced, and spun vigorously in our front loading washing machine.

Cassie held the excellent device aloft and triumphantly proclaimed, "It's a MAC!!"

Think Different!

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving - Day Four

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful. ~~ Buddha

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving - Day Three




You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~~ G.K. Chesterton

Unusual Joy, Part Two

This year has been an illuminating one for me as far as food is concerned. I'm different now than I was 12 months ago.

Since I've been trying to eat seasonal foods I have found revitalized pleasure in the process. The anticipation, the appropriateness, the patience all seem to swell the experience. Quite enjoyable.

Just now the pleasure of an orange's oily spray has reached my nose. As Caroline jabs her finger into its rind, peeling it back to get to the juicy sections, citrus aroma freshens the entire room.

Recently harvested nuts roasting in the cast iron skillet do the same thing - reach the nose, trigger a smile.

And pumpkin pies, cookies, muffins from giant gourds split, cooked, and pureed. Mmmm...

Lemonade no longer appeals.

Yams do. Apples do. Potatoes do.

Sunday evening Tom and I put in our order with the butcher for a fresh turkey. Fresh. Naturally raised, naturally fed, humanely killed. To be eaten with gratitude next week.

Another nourishing season, late autumn.

For taste buds, mind, heart, and spirit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving - Day Two

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. ~~Margaret Cousins

Unusual Joy

Why am I get so tickled when I open my boxes of produce and other organic goods from the farm?

My friend, Marianne, invited me to a co-op situation where several of us order supplies which are delivered to Marianne's home from out of town. All sorts of things!

Yesterday I found organic eggs in one of the boxes - deep orange yolks! Whoo-hoo!

And beautiful leeks, plump garlic, red and yellow onions, three kinds of potatoes, and forty pounds of firm, gorgeous apples.

A fat, smooth pumpkin. Organic, juicy raisins. A quart of delicious maple syrup! Oh the joy!!

And cod liver oil. Yes, you read cod liver oil. Seems the stuff, considered a sacred food in some cultures, is packed full of essentials. Foul tasting, health restoring excellence. Grandma was right. Who knew?

Maybe the uninhibited thrill is simply my instincts letting me know I'm in the presence of vital sustenance. My body says YES!

Thanksgiving is going to be more fun than ever as I share this bounty with family and friends. (No, not the cod liver oil!)

Thanks, Marianne!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thoughts Of Thanksgiving - Day One

In addition to my daily postings for NaBloPoMo I shall list a Quote a Day pertaining to the upcoming Holiday.

Beginning today and ending Thanksgiving Day.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~~Marcel Proust

Attitude Adjustment

I need to whine less and listen more.

And love more.

My life is really really easy, really good.

Yet, I snivel.

Enough of THAT.

People I know and love are suffering. How can I help them when my eyes are on my stupid complaints.

I can't.

"Eyes off yourself, darling. Join the human race."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

# 24





In cultivating oneself,
it is best to root out bad habits
and tolerate those that are harmless.

~~ I Ching


If you are too weak to overcome habits that are obviously bad for you, your future is indeed bleak. While temporary pleasures may accompany bad habits, they are, in the long run, detrimental to you and even in the short run weaken you. Acquiring a long-run problem in exchange for a short-run pleasure is not a good bargain. It takes strength and determination to rid yourself of bad habits that control  you, but by so doing, you will gain control, increase your strength, and have a better life. A superior person is always in control of his habits. To be successful in rooting out bad habits, it is, however, wise to tolerate harmless habits for a time; if you are too strict with yourself, you may fail in your purpose.


-- wu wei