Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Than Light

From work to wonder
Displays of summer flowers
Winter ice and snow
Gatherer of random thoughts

Stale air fresh
Stealing conversations
Hasty, quick yells
Gatherer of memories

Square or rectangle
Escape to the outside
A home "must have"
Gatherer of the light

--a kitchen window


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Four O'Clocks

Summer obsession
Creating color
Planting seeds
Black grenade-like
Mirabilis Jalapa,
4 O'Clocks.

Childhood memories
Fragrance so sweet
Blooms sunny
Keep moist and

Pink, orangeish,
yellow, raspberry red,
white, variegated colors.
Collection of seeds
Next year
What next?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Warmth of Dill

This post was suppose to be about my herb garden, but it took another path as I gathered my thoughts and looked at my list of herbs in my writers notebook.  I decided to start with dill because it was my favorite, and before I knew it, I realized dill meant more to me than all the others. 

I have now grown 10 herbs but started with one, and that was dill.  Right now, dill can grow anywhere it wants to in my gardens.  It can grow in the herb garden, of course, but also in the flower garden, through the vegetable garden, along the 4 o'clocks, or next to the pine.  I wouldn't care if some seeds flew to my deck into my pretty flower pots.  I love everything about dill--the weed, the seed, the taste, the smell, and most importantly, the memories. 

One can use the weed (the airy, feathery foliage) and yellow flowers that first appear on the plant in salads, breads, lamb, salmon, peas, potatoes, or with cucumbers and sour cream.  Seeds that come at the end of the plant's life can be used to make pickles or breads.  Anyway you use it, the taste is divine and the smell of dill after a rain or from the morning or evening dew, permeates my soul. 

Where did this love of dill originate?  --Baba.

Baba, born Mary, was my mother's mom who came from Russia and arrived on Ellis Island in 1905.  She was 67 when I was born and died when I was 24 in 1971, so I only knew her as an aged grandparent who was still gentle, warm, loving, and always had a smile for us grandchildren.  I regret I never took the time to appreciate who she was, but I still loved and respected her.  She spoke in broken English, much of her conversation in Russian.  She never learned to read and wrote her name only to become a citizen of the United States in 1953.   

As a child, I visited her at the apartment building she owned on Virginia Street in Gary, Indiana.  It was behind the small grocery story she ran with my grandfather.  It was mainly a butcher shop.  She also grew scads of African violets on her large southern windowsill in her apartment and gave me my first African violet to raise.  It was still winter, and I cradled that baby plant all the way home, hoping it wouldn't die in the cold.  I don't remember her giving me anything else during my childhood, but, obviously, she gave me enough warmth to keep her in my thoughts. My plant or anyone else's African violet didn't do as well as Baba's.  She had a knack for violets.  I tried many times when I was first married to grow them but to no avail.  Baba had the touch for violets and grandchildren.  She also had the touch for cooking. 

Baba was able to have a small garden in the back of her bottom apartment, surrounded by a tall fence.  All I can remember of that garden were her dill plants and the odor that encircled the small garden patch.  As I grew older and to this day, dill still reminds me of  Baba. 

How can a smell draw you so close to a person you haven't seen for 41 years?  It takes a special person like Baba. 

To this day, I honor her memory and love that smell of my youth and the life of my grandmother who made it so special.

Thanks, Baba, for the "good" memories of my childhood.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Missing Summer?

How can you miss summer when it isn't over yet? 

With the cooler days and nights, I have visions of cloudier days and staying inside more than out.  Yes, the flowers are in full bloom inspite of the drought we had here in Indiana, and the days are warm and beautiful--oh, I yearn for this all year.  I understand more than ever why people move to warmer climates.  I'm just one of those people who like the warm nights that require just tank tops on that evening boat ride and warm days that make you relish the slower pace with ice in your glass instead of outside on your car or on the road. 

The mornings start later, and the nights are earlier now.  I am already missing the longer days.

Appreciate what remains every day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Soooo Glad

Time and Place of Departure: a Mickey D's in Indianapolis on Friday, July 13, 2012, 9:30 a.m.

Destination:  St. Augustine, La Florida--a 3 bedroom ranch with pool; 10 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean; over 1800 miles round trip

Who:  6 adults with 2 vans; 4 children, ages 3-7; and 2 adult labs

What:  A first time Family Vacation

Why:  To bond?  To get away?  To challenge?  To face the Unknown?  To talk about something this winter?  To just see if we could do it?!  To dream?

Reflections on our first family trip 

It took communication to get this trip together--a good exercise for any family.  Minds and ideas changed back and forth.  Would someone drop out?  Would the dogs go or not?  Could we really make it all work for the good? 

When we met at Mickey D's in Indy, we knew we were on our way one way or another.  We finally arrived when we faced the house we rented.  What lies behind that front door with a palm tree?  We were all smiles as we entered with relief--the house was fabulous as we walked into the kitchen!   We were flooded with relief and feelings of "Let this family vacation begin!"

First on my list of reflections was the Best Food Eaten.  It may surprise you that the best food for me was not in La Florida but in Atlanta, GA on the way down at Mason's Bar & Grille--chicken quesidilla with mushrooms and 3 sauces and then Tennessee on the way back at a Waffle House in Chattanooga with a terrific vegetable egg omelet and grits--wonderful grits!!!  The best drink though was in St. Augustine--a mojito at the Santa Maria Restaurant on the wharf after our pirate ship adventure--cold with limey mint.  The shrimp wasn't bad either.  The White Lion Restaurant near the Bridge of Lions was very good in Old Towne in St. Augustine, too.  Maybe we needed to talk more with the natives to find the finest seafood. 

Best Activities was my next thought.  Of course, nothing could top the Atlantic Ocean's sound, sight, smell, feel, and taste.  I could sit on the sand for hours with an umbrella, chair, and cold beverage to experience this natural wonder along with my family and others dancing with the waves and sand.  Not enough time to slow it all down, linger, and absorb this new landscape.  I am not a water lover, but I was mesmerized by the monstrosity of it all.  We also saw real parrots and lizards just hanging around the house we rented.  I learned about coquina which is a shell laden composite to build forts and homes.

You can't beat the St. Augustine Red Train Tours--sights at your fingertips and feet.  Jump on and off at any of the 8 miles and 21 stops to enjoy attractions, shopping, recreation, and dining.  Sure beats walking or driving.  The best attractions were the Pirate and Treasure Museum and the Pirate Ship Black Raven.  Sailing on the Black Raven, the grandkids heard pirate stories and songs, dueled a pirate with soft swords, overtook Captain Hook's and Blackbeard's ship, and ended up with treasure boxes filled with jewels and doubloons.  Aarghhhhh!  It was a mighty good time for all! We had to sign a paper saying we didn't mind being videoed for a video ad on Facebook.  We'll have to check:  www.FaceBook.com/BlackRavenPirates

If you love forts, St. Augustine has them.  We went to Fort Matanzas and the Castillo de San Marcos.  Both are engulfed in history of St. Augustine, our nation's first city.   Some of our group went on a Kayak Tour, others to the Wax Museum, and some just wandering around trying to find Crucial's Coffee Cafe

If you've ever wanted to see all the alligators you wanted to see, then The Alligator Farm was for you!  They had 23 species of crocodilians with rare and exotic birds, mammals, and reptiles.  Talk about heat and humidity. 

My son, Eric, was the only one to make sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, July 19 with Sienna and Shadow, the greatest lab travelers of all Indiana.  They knew they had gone where no Indiana labs had gone before.  They were the best dogs ever!!  Kudos to labs everywhere!  Sunsets had to be found--maybe another few days, and we would have figured that out!!!

Eric and Steve were signed up for a biplane flight over St. Augustine, but the flight was canceled twice due to weather, and then the plane wouldn't start.  Sounded like a voice from above to me.
Some of us took individual trips to be with our own families.  It might be a trip to the ocean, a walk, or visit to an attraction or shopping.  We also celebrated Amanda's birthday with cupcakes at The Conch Restaurant.

Lucas, Lilly, Noah, and James got to play not only every day at the ocean but in a pool together, too.  Lilly liked the pool best, and the boys were mesmerized by the pirates and forts.  A pillow fight now and then didn't hurt either.  How much and what will they remember?

We all shared in the responsibilities of our new home in St. Augustine.  From the start, each family signed up to make a meal, and that made 4 dinners for the 7 days we were there.  Breakfast and lunch were up to each family.  Some shared their breakfasts and lunches. Amanda's Ginger Chicken/ Broccoli and Pasta with brownies led the feasts on Sunday night.  Monday was Eric's Jambalaya with Rice and chocolate chip cookies for dessert on Monday.  Then there was Tam's Taco Tuesday with ice cream.  Thursday was Tim's Grill Night--from chicken, brats, hamburgers to grilled veggies.  Steve and Ben helped with breakfasts.  The pool was always waiting for us when we needed that extra cool down, and wee all tidied up and did laundry throughout the week.  We got our complete deposit back in the end!!  Was it our cleaning or the leftover sausage, hot dogs, water, and beer that did it????

We were sooooo glad we attempted this family vacation and successfully did it.  What were we waiting for?  Eric had the best thoughts:  Take that vacation, and don't sweat the small stuff.  Relax and be with the people you care most about.  I can see why families try to vacation together every year.  

La Familia in La Florida.  Bueno!!

Lessons and memories to last a life time

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nature At Its Best--Again and Again

Anyone a bird watcher? 
I never intended to be,
but I think it comes with retirement. 
One has the time in the morning and throughout the day
sometimes to actually watch and listen to what is going on in the backyard--
always a place of wonder.

Our latest find is this Pileated Woodpecker.  We have various sizes/kinds of woodpeckers all the time throughout the winter, but this is the first time we have had one this size.  It's the size of a crow and can weigh up to 12 oz.  They peck their way into dead tree bark to create nests for their eggs. 

We usually don't feed the woodpeckers after the days warm up because the suet melts all over the ground and deck, but I think we will continue feeding farther into the warmer days just to continue to enjoy this proud fellow with the bright red mohawk and an equally red streak across his cheek!! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Any Seed

Something, oh, so small
No one shape or shade
Every way unique

Plant and nurture in time
Fresh and new to all
Origin of the whole

Growing plants or thoughts
A brand new spirit
Bloomed for all to see

Any seed will grow
Given the chance at last
To come to be.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

31 Slices, 2012

Thinking over the SOLS Challenge of 2012, I feel stronger and more confident about my writing than I did a year ago when I created my blog and wrote every day during the 2011 Challenge.  At that time, I spent a lot of time revising and revising until I was frazzled at times.  This year, I seemed to just write what was on my mind.  It worked!

I worried at first about coming up with ideas, but Ruth started us off with her 31 Slicing Ideas.  I pasted that into my writers notebook and added ideas to the page. 

Before I knew it, I wasn't even looking at that page of ideas but was enveloped in other bloggers' posts and gained inspiration from them and tried new forms of writing.   This year I almost felt like we were writing letters to each other when we commented, creating that community of writers again. 

I still have some ideas that I didn't use for the Challenge, so I'm poised to continue on SOLS Tuesdays.  Hope to see many of you there. 

Friday, March 30, 2012


Things I am grateful for just today.

I'm grateful for:

feeling part of a group.
working at our library's spring book fair.
being with people who love books.
finding 16 excellent childrens books for $8.00.
seeing the little girl hugging a book and saying, "I just love these books."
meeting a neighbor of mine I never knew before.
talking to friends I haven't seen for awhile.
listening to good music all day.
eating a homemade granola bar.
finding and reading a good book.
leaving with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Where I'm From"

Inspired by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche and George Ella Lyon

I'm from the Steel Mills of Gary, Indiana where black soot
covered my bare feet in the hot summer months
when I could see the chimneys of fire from the steel ovens.

I'm from a three room apartment on 6th Avenue
where I lived with Momma, Daddy, and my brother
in the same building as my aunt and cousin, uncle, and Baba.

My memories recall Miller Beach and sand,
thunderstorms with lightning, and wading in the waters
that streamed down our alley, sailing our homemade boats.

I'm from a school that went from Kindergarten to 12th
that held the teachers that saved me
with their lessons that taught me to love words.

College lead to teaching and finding true love
and miraculously giving birth to three sons
that lead to four grandchildren and two granddogs.

I'm from a lifetime of jobs--cake decorator, bottle washer,
Bargain Box Assistant Manager, secretary, trainer, substitute teacher,
22 years of teaching 7th graders,
and 2 years of retirement that have lead me
to still love words. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nothing Special But Thankful

This was one of those fast food visits you didn't plan on but just happened.  My husband and I went about our business for the day and realized it was supper time and no one was excited about cooking, and there were no leftovers.  They were eaten at lunch.  I remember the days when I had to cook every night or no one would eat.  It was come home and slam the frying pan down on the stove in order to feed a family of five--four of which were males--food was priority.  No thinking about it, just get it done, so everyone could go on to the next step in the evening.  It's nice now in retirement not to be tied down to a schedule.

We decided to go to Lowe's to get some gardening products instead of waiting for tomorrow, and so eating out just seemed to make sense.  It was about 7:00 when we got to Wendy's. 

Parking lots all around seemed very empty.  In Wendy's, there were only two other families there eating inside.  Both families left and one single guy came in.  He left and another single guy came in.  So very empty.  Was Wednesday nights always like this?  It made me wonder about the economy.  Are less people eating out even in fast food restaurants?  Why are these other people here?  What are their stories? 

We went to Lowe's, and it was empty as far as customers.  It made me wonder again about the average state of the family.  We returned home at dark and settled in for the night.

As simple as the evening was, I was thankful that we could go out and eat out on a whim, go shopping for what we wanted for our yard and garden, and return home safely.  A lot of people out there cannot do what we did. 

It's being thankful for the little things.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rocks Offer Surprises

It's well known that I collect rocks.  My neighbor did not know how I really felt about rocks until one day last summer.  I picked up a rock while I was with her, and it was heart-shaped.  I never found one like that, and I remarked how cool it was that I had found it. 

She took it from me, looked at it, and then threw it back into the garden dirt.  "What was that?" I asked myself.   I didn't know what to say.  Why she threw it back, I couldn't imagine.

I've known my neighbor for 23 years now, and you can depend on her for no matter what.  Her boys were my boys' friends.  She took care of our pets while we were gone.  She has a key to our house, and we to her home.  We've worked together at her business, and we've eaten plenty of meals together.

My neighbor looked down a bit and said, "It has to be somewhere near."  We both looked for a short period with no results.  We both laughed it off.  I looked again after she left and many times after that.  It was just a rock--but heart-shaped and pinkish!!!  We never said anything about it again, of course.  It was just a rock but disappointing, more about my neighbor than the rock!

My neighbor had been in Florida for three months this year and just got back last weekend.  She came knocking at my back door as usual and said she had some rocks for me from Florida!!!  She usually brought shells.

She handed me the four rocks, and said, "I found a heart-shaped one, but I guess it got lost."  No matter what the rocks looked like (but they are beauties), I was more than elated to get rocks and made a big fuss over them.  I realized that she really did feel badly about the heart-shaped rock she threw away a year ago.  Why she did that, I still don't know.  Maybe she had a hard day???  It all sounds silly when you think about it, but I was reminded again of what a sensitive and good friend she is down deep.  I wouldn't have been surprised if she came back that night last summer with a flashlight looking for my heart-shaped rock!! 

Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glitter and Shine

As a youth, I liked the tailored look with muted or darker colors--greys, blacks with whites, beiges, light greens and browns.  My favorite color was olive green.  I think these were the colors of my youth, too, when I think about it.

I remember once I bought a bright orange dress (pictured above), a gift from my cousin Sharon in Detroit when she was an airline stewardess and paid for my flight, so I would visit her world.  It was a different world--upscale apartment and restaurants in the big city--a whole new world for me as a college student in a small town.

I remember wearing this dress home on the plane.  I was a different person as I landed at the airport when my fiance picked me up.  I think he looked at me differently in this bright color, unsure of what was to come after this trip, and I had the same feeling.  I felt the whole world was open to me.  That experience/feeling lasted only briefly, but I did eventually break off that engagement.  Life went on and so did my colors; they became brighter/happier.

Funny, as I aged, the colors of my life did become brighter, not as dull as my youth.  My favorite color is yellow now and I love, love lime green--the green maybe being the carry over from my youth?   I look for clothes with bright colors and especially purses.  I like red cars, red candy apple boots (which I sent back because they didn't fit), and red coats.  My home beholds terra cotta, lime greens, yellows, oranges.  But I have added a new dimension to my love of lightness--glitter and shine.

I want shiny and glittery earrings, tops, purses, and things in general.  Really unlike me, I spied a denim jacket with rhinestones all over.  Do I dare?  No, I couldn't, but it would be so much fun to wear it at the right time.  I like diamonds more than I ever have, and I'm working on that angle. 

It's funny what time does to a person.  I do admit time has been good to me when I look back on the whole picture.  Yes, there would be things I would change, but who wouldn't.  From being a child of the Gary Steel Mills, I have found the color and sparkle I need. 


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brief Reflection

Counting tonight, we have 7 more days to slice in this year's challenge, so this is a brief update on how I feel about slicing this year.  In a nutshell, it doesn't seem as hard as last year, my first year to participate. 

I notice this year, I am not clamoring to find topics as much.  I remind myself what this challenge is all about--the plain and simple and what I take from it. 

This weekend though I felt I needed a break and thought possibly about not writing yesterday or today just because.  But I ended up finding something to write about without too much thought anyway.   Well, tonight I realized that we have only 6 more days.  I even have some ideas waiting for me.   I don't need a break after all. 

Do you suppose I've made friends with my writing so to speak?  My oldest son Eric, my biggest fan and critic, said I write well about stories from the past and with the free verse.  I do feel comfortable writing those.  As far as the children's story I'm writing, one of my BONS friends said she felt I was finding my voice since I started thinking of my grandchildren as my audience for this story.  So is this all about voice?   

Well, hello, Voice, my new friend.  We have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Night

Haystack supper

Remembering one so small

Friends and neighbors

Children laughing, running, swinging

Balloons, candy, popcorn

Raffle, silent auction, contributions

Driving home together

Camp fire under a slice of a moon

Two children with flashlights

Looking at the night with wonder

Shower, snack, then bed

Good times on a Saturday night

The best of times

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life on a Friday

The saying goes, "Life is what you make it."  What if you've been trying to make it, and it just doesn't work out.  What do you do?  Do you go back to where you were or keep trying, and when do you give up or should you never give up?  I know the simple answer to that question--never give up!  But when you're older, what do you do?  It's a value judgement, I guess.  Will it ever make it or maybe just a little bit of it will make it?

Just a mind discussion I've been having with myself forever!!  I guess the answer is, is it worth it? 

The decision is made again.  It's worth it.  Life goes on, working on life and what I make of it.

Awfully deep for a Friday evening, but that was what was on my mind today.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yellow Roses

Yellow roses unexpected
With baby's breath and fern
All 12 accounted for

You never know
What you do
May bring you joy

Just in the giving
                                                   Or what someone
                                                       Else may give you

                                                          A pleasant surprise
                                                        In either case
                                                        Do what you can

                                                        You never know.

                                                                         Thank you, Bob and Kiwanis