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Sunday, December 25, 2011

the yellow teapot...

many years ago, 1993 to be exact, i found a little boy.

he was starving, emaciated, deathly ill with tuberculosis of the spine.

i brought him home, mewling like a kitten, and nursed him through many long years of hospital stays, medicine, and surgeries. several times we did not think he'd make it.

those huge black eyes of his would melt my heart- we called him "the boy who would not die".

eventually our daughter and her husband adopted him and 'j' became part of our family.

he grew up. he graduated from high school. he adapted to life with hearing aids and minor bone deformities. he developed a lovely personality and a caring, gentle heart.

he went away to canada to work. he got hard jobs and became tough and strong. he made lots of money.

and one christmas, his first christmas after leaving home, he came back bearing gifts. he bounced in, walking like a man, sporting a 'rockstar' image and an eyebrow piercing- but his eyes were the same.

he brought me a yellow teapot- the first thing out of my mouth when he had asked, 'nini, what do you want for christmas?'

a yellow teapot.

every time i use this beautiful object, and sip the warm tea from it, i will remember, and rejoice, in a life saved, a grandson who loves me, and the goodness of a Father who loves the orphan.

thanks, are loved!

Monday, December 19, 2011

wee sma's...

here it is, 2 something am.

the "wee sma's", as the scotch say. (wee small hours)

can't sleep. it was a busy day, about 50 people in our house for much of the day, too much food and laughter and sugar.

i'm up reading blogs. in the bathroom. so as not to wake daddy and emma.

reading these blogs makes me tired, but unfortunately not sleepy.

i read about these adoptive families, moms in particular, who are so busy with their big families and adoption causes and i look at their photos and their eyes are wide and their smiles huge and the description of their daily life makes my head spin.

i think back to 25-30 years ago when i too was in the throes of adopting and managing a busy home and being a pastor's wife of a growing church and a part-time mary kay lady and running a counseling center at our church...and i wonder

how did i do it all?

then i think of the 15 years i founded/directed the birthing center and worked around the clock for probably a decade until my health broke down...

how did i do that?

and...why do i sort of feel guilty that i'm not doing that now?

old habits die hard.

i have just spent a semester assisting in my 5-year-old daughter's classroom at Faith Academy...driving 2 1/2 hours every day to get there and back...loving it, but feeling weary at times...wondering where my energy went?

forgetting that i'm 61, and should probably pace myself a bit more.

i should probably stop reading these BUSYMOM blogs, too- even though my heart is for adoption and mothering.

so here i sit in the dark, talking to myself, reassuring myself that it's ok to be tired and NOT bright-eyed and WIDE smiled like those 40somethings.

after all, i have been there.

i have actually done that.

and now i really should go lay down and try to sleep.

after i step out on my balcony and look at the stars, that is, and say a quiet prayer of thanks for being 60 something.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

grace for the season...

silent night, holy night...

peace on earth...

goodwill to men...

i repeat these phrases to myself under my breath as i drive almost daily through endless traffic jams, where the irritation and haste and anger reveal the mental condition of 90% of the drivers in this city. there's an edginess. horns honk, not in conversation ("move over, coming thru, excuse me, pardon me, wow, that was close") as we normally hear...

but more like "you idiot, get out of my way...nice driving, fool!...hurry up, for pete's sake..."

i murmer, "goodwill, goodwill"

and steer my trusty van over the ghastly potholes

and beside massive trucks in all the wrong places

and behind jeeps with guys hanging off the back

and through dozens of people randomly crossing the road regardless of lights

and around tricycles loaded to 3 times normal capacity.

i watch the red faces, the sweating foreheads, the motorcycles- oh, dear God, the motorcycles- who flash in and out and around the vehicles heedless of life and limb.

i pray.

i catch myself sweating, steering hard, accelerating too fast, braking too suddenly, muttering under my breath...

then i remember...He promised peace on earth.

dear Jesus.

this is not the way You want it to be.

the malls are madness. let's not even talk about the malls.

let's not talk about the restaurants packed with people eating stuff they should not be eating, shoveling the chemicals down and slurping back the caffeine and sugar...blaring music making it impossible to think or talk....

exhausted, i pull up in front of my white house, my heart longing for the quiet and peace of my green yard and my cool rooms.





it's a struggle to have the grace for this season. i need grace.

i need to remember that despite the chaos that surrounds this time of year, and the way the world has simply forgotten the silence and calm and gentleness of how it should be-

it is still Christmas.

and there is grace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

zero at the bone

today i was out on my daily walk, just clipping along in my green crocs and enjoying the fresh air, the sunset in the west, and the feeling of stiffness working its way out of my bones.

suddenly i looked down.

right in front of my next footstep- a snake.

still as death on the road, facing away from me, but alert and listening and waiting.

i stopped.

calmed my instinct to scream and run.

stood still and watched him back.

slowly backed up and called across the field to rose to call someone to come and kill it.

death to the deadly. there are cobras in these woods.

nobody came except nancy, bearing a piece of wood in her hands.


i stood guard. i wanted that thing dead before it escaped into the sewers from whence, no doubt, it came.

nancy, upon seeing the size of it, picked up several rocks, but was too afraid to approach the now slithering snake.

he knew the jig was up.

the sun continued to set as we stood there in the gathering darkness waiting for a rescue.

little by little, in fits and starts, the object of our attention made his way towards the drain.

nancy refused to stand in front of him and keep him in the middle of the street, although she did buck up enough to throw a rock at him.

that just made him mad.

slither slither slither.

and then- he was there, and disappeared headfirst down into the darknessssss.

(stock image above, but his exact likeness. cobra.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

what a difference a year makes

last year at this time, i was organized full-throttle into Christmas time.

gifts bought/made and wrapped.

supplies bought and baking started.

house clean.

christmas guest towels in the powder room.

everything was relaxed, settled, ticking along nicely towards Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

this year, not so much.

more like lurching towards Christmas, really.

not one present bought- 17 days to go.

nothing wrapped. tree up, but the cats keep destroying it so i've kind of given up keeping it tidy.

the only baking i've done was shortbread (google it) and i've eaten most of that myself.

and you know what's weird about this chaos?

i don't even care.

i am finally beginning to realize that my OC tendencies cannot always control circumstances.

working part-time...driving 3 hours a day...keeping a massive garden in order so as not to lose my vegetables and fruit and new grass...i just don't have the time or energy i had last year!

i can barely keep this little blog up.

and i'm not really getting upset about it.

so, Christmas, bring it on. i'm not ready, and i'm not going to be ready. i am going to focus on each day and each moment that i can- to not stress about what the expectations are, and to simply look into the faces of those i love and be aware, so very aware, that this is really all that i need to do. just love them.

lurching is ok.

somehow things will all be lovely- if we just love.

merry christmas, everybody.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

many many years ago
in a small country town
there came a day
when it was someone's birthday.

the husband of this 'someone'
that she choose gifts
for herself.

so they went shopping.
and somewhere
(i think if i remember right)
this someone
who was me
found this little mouse.

this sweet little christmas mouse.

look at his face.
those wide eyes. 
that pert little nose.
the dear little santa suit
now rubbing off in places...

does he not look
like just the sort of mouse
that would creep quietly quietly
out from under the christmas tree
to watch with beady little eyes
for santa to arrive?

(of course we know it's just a story)

i love this little mouse.

he's getting worn.

he's travelled around the world 
and been packed and unpacked 
many times.

but each year when i take him
out of his newspaper wrapping
he reminds me 
of the sweet day
that i found him in a little shop
on a certain day
that was a birthday 
of a certain person
who was me.

merry christmas, dear little mouse!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mommy- is Santa Claus real?


yes, it was time for the answer, Virginia.

and i had to break the news to my dear little daughter that 'no, Santa Claus is not a real person. he's just a story'.

"REALLY? HE'S NOT REAL?" she gasped.

she was not upset, or hurt, just very shocked- it seemed like she could hardly believe that so much excitement and fun surrounded a person who is not real.

i followed up with saying that Christmas is really about Jesus- that he is who the story is really about.

she nodded...Jesus has been in her life since before she was that seemed to be a given.

i told her the story of a man named Nicholas who was so kind and good that people began calling him a he gave to the he was our example for gift-giving and out of his story emerged the story of St. Nicholas, which then morphed somehow into Santa Claus.

"but Emma," i said, "we must remember that Jesus was the best example of all, because he gave himself."

again her little head nodded, and her black eyes sparkled.

Sorry, Virginia, i cannot tell a lie. There really is no Santa Claus...only the Lord who came as a baby and with joyous abandon gave his life away- for us.

It's really all about Jesus.

and that's the truth.

Friday, November 25, 2011

of hedgehogs and reindeer and teddies..

it's been two years since i saw my Christmas things. last year we were 'camping' in temporary housing while waiting for our house to be finished, and i had no room to put anything out. (we basically lived out of boxes for 9 months. but that's another story.)

today, we unpacked Christmas treasures.

it felt like old friends stepping out of a dark place into the light and holding out hands saying, 'oh, how i've missed you...'

things i'd forgotten were unwrapped- linens and teddy bears and dishes and candleholders...all so sparkly and bright and unbegrudging of their two-year imprisonment.

the little tree stretched its stiff limbs as if it was glad to be free of the cardboard and tape and dust.

the hedgehog made a run for it, so i put him in the wagon outside on the front veranda together with the reindeer and the big teddy with the red hat.

the mugs wept to be filled with tea. the candleholders shone with the light inside, so thankful to be warm and blazing again.

my dear little treasures. tomorrow we shall continue to place you all in just the right corners of our lovely house. merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

bending, not breaking...

defiant, he refused to look me in the eye or acknowledge my words.

but i knew he heard me, for his little hands pulled at his eyes to try to stop the tears and he trembled.

violence in the classroom, even in play, is unacceptable and must be disciplined. our usual method is 'time-out' on a special chair. this little one had to be dragged, limp and deadweight, to the chair.

when i asked him to apologize for hurting his friends by punching them in the faces, he was sullenly silent. over and over again i softly explained, on the other side of the classroom so as to give him privacy, that he simply could not behave this way. no response other than the frantic clawing at his eyes.

i led him back to join the others in the reading circle...he continued to be difficult. given his special needs, we have given this child a lot of mercy, but i could see that it was coming to an end for both the teacher and me (i'm the assistant).

finally, the teacher asked him to leave, since he refused to cooperate with anything. i took his hand and quite forcefully removed him, again limp and defiant, to the other side of the classroom, again.

i looked him in the eye, bobbing my head back and forth to catch him. "sweetheart, you cannot do this." again he began the frantic clawing at his eyes to stop the tears. i rubbed his back and held him in my arms. he pulled away. i held him. suddenly, a burst of anguish. flooding tears. agony. clutching his stomach. uncontrolled gasping and choking.

i waiting, tissues mopping up the flood. rubbed his back. prayed quietly. tapped his shoulders. waiting for him to settle.

thinking deep in my mind- how dreadful it is when a child has gone so far without bending, without being gently bent, that he almost has to break. daddy and mommy find it easier to just let him do what he wants, rather than stop his headlong rush to delinquency. the child suffers because of their refusal to confront this behavior with daily, consistent love and discipline. 

his sobs take so long to slow. he clings to me, writhes in my arms. stubborn little heart refusing to speak, to pray, to listen, to look at me, he is deep within himself in torment.

and i wish that i had a way to explain that it's not his fault.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

early mornings i leave the house in the soft first lightening of sky. i drive a road that winds along the lake beside the mountains. it runs almost below lake-level- there's a levee between me and the water. i get to the beginning of this road just as the sun is rising.

it never gets old, that first gleam of newborn sunlight sparkling on the water. the low line of mountains in the distance gently backdrops the long expanse of whiteness. something in me leaps and throbs at the aching beauty of it all.

folks are jogging along the levee path- bright t-shirts jostle for positions. some are doing graceful ti-chi strokes- some simply stretching out the night stiffness. families stand around in comfortable clusters, enjoying the cool farewell of the night and the welcome promise of another day.

i drive along the road, expertly avoiding the potholes and the bicycles and the tricycles and the trucks and other oncoming vehicles- playing chicken is essentially what i'm doing- but carefully. the beauty of the morning makes me a relaxed chicken-player...the mist over the lake begins to dissipate as the kilometers tick off along the road.

it's not far till we curve east, and the light is blinding. i put on my shades and lower the visor. the river, oh! the river...bounded by green marsh grass waving in the wind, flat as a prairie plain, running straight east into the gray-purple hills that beckon it with open arms. the beauty of it hurts me, calls me. 

we cross the floodway bridge- more vehicles and people now- slower traffic- but the arms of the river reach out to me, begging me to step down from the little bamboo loading platform on the shore and into a long motor-canoe and point it into the morning.

where does the river go? what wonders would i see if i ever had the time to just stop, to just park the vehicle at the side of the road and actually follow it into the east?

i think of the brave mouse reepicheep, hero of the "voyage of the dawn treader"- and i want to be him; to clamber into my little coracle and paddle off singing into the sweet water that rushes up into the 'utter east' and eternal morning.

but i have not the time, so i drive on...i drive on past the water, every day, wishing that duty did not call me. wishing, oh! longing, that i had the luxury of endless time and energy to follow this haunting silver dream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


been awhile, i know.

been busy.

doing just the ordinary, humdrum things of life.

thought i'd share what happened today that was not ordinary.

first of all, background: last week, 2000 pesos went missing from my wallet. just walked away, without so much as a please and thankyou.

the morning i drove up to the tollbooth, opened my wallet, and discovered 20 lonely pesos where i had just seen 2000 the evening before, was a shock.

so what was different about the evening before the morning shock at the tollbooth? (i did scrounge up enough to pay the toll from change and bits of paper money hiding in various places in my car, the people behind me in the line were not amused)


the house next door, where nobody lives (because they think it has ghosts), has a new caretaker. a middle-aged lady. while i was away at school, she informed my caretaker that she was locked out of the house- being new to the doors- and had slept outside. she was hungry. she was tired. she was in need of help.

when i got home from school, i invited her in for a cup of coffee. we fed her supper. my girls talked to her for a long time, just chatting and getting acquainted. she was kind of weird, but you know. one doesn't like to jump to conclusions.

you knew where this is going, don't you.


one of my girls went to the bathroom, the other was washing dishes and not really watching, and my purse with the red wallet visible was sitting on the little table in the foyer, where it always sits.



eventually, after searching, thinking, talking to various people, and getting advice, we reported the theft to the security in our village.

no accusations, just the bare bones of the story, and the missing money.

today, somebody must have told her. i was standing outside on the driveway watering some very dry grass, when suddenly i heard a roaring sound. here comes this lady.

striding up my sidewalk, right past me into my house, bellowing "susan! susan! where is susan!"

there is no susan at my house, let it be noted.

i followed her.

she backtracked and came out towards me -out of my house, mind you- and continued roaring, weeping, and waving her arms. i could not understand anything she was saying- she's visayan, not my dialect- and so i held up my hand, and called for nancy.

nancy is the original helper of mine who she had approached the day she was locked out.

more bellowing. my other girl came to see. i left and went upstairs to calm down the little girls.

we called the guard.

he escorted her home across the street.

phone calls were made. reports filed. i was advised to lock my doors.

i didn't.

i refuse to live behind locked doors.

the employer was supposed to come immediately. as of now, 8 hours later, she's a no-show...and ms BELLOW has been stomping around in her yard, all day.

i'm not scared.

i will lock the doors and windows tonight.

but i think she is probably slightly manic and very upset at what she has been told is an accusation- it's not, really- and so there.

it's been interesting. especially the part where emma and my little cherrylyn (granddaughter) dressed up as darby and spent the whole rest of the day storming around pretending to be sleuths finding a robber. yeah.

never- well, sometimes, but not today- a dull moment.

Friday, November 4, 2011

i own a little bit of sand,
a patch of sand by the sea,
it's just a scrubby bit of land-
but it belongs to me.

behind that tiny stretch of sand
a river runs along,
and all beside the dusty road
the palm trees whisper song.

and just in front of my piece of sand,
the ocean stretches wide!
the sun comes up at the back of it-
in front, sinks down at night.

I love my scrubby bit of land;
it holds my house of dreams.
and though there's nothing there but sand
it all belongs to me!


march, 08

Thursday, November 3, 2011

barefoot boy...

The Barefoot Boy

for alex: 

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

dear little blog, how i've missed you.

it's been a rough week or two...

no internet...

no phone...

nothing to do but gardening, school, driving, reading, talking to people IRL face to face instead of on FACEbook...

but now, it appears- at least temporarily- the internet is back.

we are reconnected!

we'll catch up.

i love you, little blog. missed you. good to be back.

Friday, October 7, 2011

piano recital, sort of.

emma loves the video where "frances" has a piano recital and muffins (cupcakes actually).

emma has been learning piano.

emma loves muffins. especially banana ones slathered with chocolate melted on top.

so this morning, little miss decided it was piano recital time, with muffins (supposed to be cupcakes but whatever.)

so...after 2 hours of prep time (hair, make-up, dressing, and making the muffins) we had a 5 minute piano recital and ate our muffins.

and drank grape juice.

and it was lovely.

these are the moments i will remember.


my little girlie's heart and imagination and hopes and wishes sometimes require a lot of time and energy.

but she will never forget it either.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

lessons of the garden...

this morning i bent, in hot sun, sweat in my eyes, gathering broken leaves to throw on the compost heap.

leaves from vines that had been destroyed by an insidious enemy bourne of too much rain- bacteria wilt.

the smell of decay, the rush into the senses of dying foliage, filled the air.

smelled like autumn in temperate climate-

like the laying down of life in sweet decay-

preparing for a long winter.

no winter here- but the smell the same.

death of lovely green turns to tired brown turns to quiet black..

i toss the hideous mass, soggy and sad, onto the compost heap.

the broken veins will feed the soil...the coming harvest.

the bacteria doesn't win, really.

from the decay of one comes the life of another.

reminds me of Someone I know.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

i shed some tears today.

it was the end of a season of life- the closing of a chapter of our story and a saying farewell to many happy memories.

we sold our little apartment today; it was our home for 9 years- the longest we've ever lived anywhere.

it was the place where we lived (really, we just slept there) when we both worked 14 hour days in the church with offices next door to each other.

it was a place we brought hurting people to for ministry, food, prayer, and fun.

it was a shelter for a young woman who had a stalker.

it was the place where we brought home our baby girl at 5 hours old.

it was the home where i once again was a stay-at-home mommy. at 56!!!

the rooms are filled with memories of family, small grandchildren, visiting kids from across the planet, guests and friends...

if the walls could talk...

we wandered around today, remembering, talking quietly, marveling that even after living somewhere else now for more than a year, there are so many things about that place that are still 'home'. the view- that magnificent view of the city skyline- still so familiar. the little kitchen- almost the scent of many meals lingers in the air. the "blue room" where the children stayed when they came for sleep-overs...

well, it's gone now. we've moved on- and coming back to the 'here and now' white house is indeed home, and i'm not sad that we moved or made the decision to sell the old place.

it's just hard, you know? another chapter over.

it was the home God promised me after a battle and seemingly insurmountable financial difficulties. everything went wrong- but God told me, standing in my kitchen, "if it matters to you, it matters to me. it's yours". and He reversed the impossible obstacles, and we bought it without a centavo down payment.

my little home of promise. He is faithful.

and He will be faithful here too.

goodbye, little home on the 6th floor...thank You, Lord, for that season. Thank You for Your promise and Your faithfulness.

In every season, You are there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

more on hope...

late bloomer

It's a hard thing to believe in a promise-
to live by it, day after day,
to see it in the night sky
and hear it in your name
and see it again in your lover's eyes.

It's a hard thing to believe in a promise with
no power in it to make it come true.
Everything is in the future tense –
the land, the child, the blessing
Everything will happen, by and by,
but in the meantime, how do I live now?

And yet. What better way to live than in the grip of a

To wake in the possibility that today might be the day...
To search the face of every stranger
in case it turns out to be the angel of God.

To take nothing for granted.
Or to take everything as granted,
though not yet grasped.

To handle every moment of life
as a seed of the promise
and to plant it tenderly, never knowing if this moment,
or the next, may be the one that grows.

-barbara brown taylor

Monday, September 26, 2011


I choose to hope.

I will not fear

although the shadow stands so near.

I choose to see 
the shining light
that makes the darkness clear and bright.

I choose the joy 
of loving life

despite the pressure, toil and strife.

I choose to pray, 
for you are there.

"Jehovah Shammah" is my prayer.

I choose to hope,
 rejoice and pray.

For You, O God, are here, today."

-denie, 2009

Thursday, September 22, 2011

lessons of the garden...

it's a war out there in the back yard.

the garden is full of life- and death.

every delicious green growing thing is a meal to something...and that something- usually a bug or worm- is a meal to something else.

life yields to death.

death yields to life.

the seeds i plant bury themselves deep in the ground and die, while the life on the inside of them stands up and reaches for the sunlight.

as they break free of the soil, they are instant targets for predators.

bugs and worms beset them, and then the birds come in and peck the bugs/worms off everything...and then my cats kill the birds...and the dogs chase the cats...and the guards come looking for the dogs if they get loose...and i'm not sure how far to take this since i can't think of anything that comes chasing the guards.

but you get my drift.

too much rain...too much sun...killers.

it's a war out there, folks.

i look forward to the day when death permanently yields to life- the eternity where somehow God takes this convoluted circle of life and makes it all work together and the lion lays down on green grass with the lamb and they are friends.

no more food chain.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

this grainy black and white photo is all i have of a great-grandmother on my dad's side.

she was a pioneering woman- settled with her husband on the prairies of Canada more than a hundred years ago.

a picture , they say, is worth a thousand words...but what i wouldn't give for some words from her.

to hear her voice.

to see the color of her eyes.

the listen to her stories, her laughter, to watch her hands in motion.

all i have is this tiny bit of a photograph; and it makes me hunger for more.

i just don't know enough.

she's part of who i am, and i don't even know her.

how precious heaven will be...we can spend as long as it takes to get to know the long-lost loved ones we've only seen in pictures.

i imagine she's waiting too...watching...wondering...part of the cloud of witnesses that i anticipate will greet me there.

some days heaven is just so real, so close, i can almost taste it.

on days like this, i long for home. my heart's home.

and this photo makes me oh, so homesick.

Monday, September 12, 2011

sometimes in my dreams i see this picture.

i hear the wavelets lapping on the sand and the dry rustle of grass in the small breeze.

i smell the tangy scent of salt water and the strong nose-crinkling odor of sea creatures hiding on the beach in their snug little holes.

i see the thousand blue-greens of the ocean and the paler blue of the arching sky.

i feel the kiss of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the tingle of the sand between my toes, the stretch of my eyes to the horizon.

i taste the spray when the breakers roll in, taste the sweat on my lips, taste the deliciousness of this perfect spot in the universe.

some people love

me, i love the sea.

this is my perfect place.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


i love them.

these two have a story.

molly, the white one, we found hiding behind boards in our garage, starving and terrified. dennis sliced his arm digging her out from behind left-over panes of took a week to get her to come out of hiding...she hid in the wildest places. she was a pathetic, demented, sick little kitten.

at about 2 weeks old, she developed a fever of some kind and was so ill i thought she would for sure die. she staggered around, shaking and losing control of her hind legs. i didn't even bother to take her to the vet...just tried to keep her safe and comfortable.

we had a houseguest at the time who prayed for molly...loved her...talked to her...gave instructions as to the proper care and feeding...and persisted with faith.

sure enough, after about a week, molly recovered. she has grown sleek and graceful and is a frightening killing machine. (think, baby birds- ACK)

the other cat, goliath, is a black shadow that my granddaughter found hiding under a car in front of her house. he (i think he's a he) was a skeleton with wounds all over his body, eyes and nose full of green matter, and no voice. 

for the sake of my granddaughter, i did take him to the vet. he was on antibiotics for a week and found his voice, and his personality. very different from molly. goliath is a lover. a purrer. a snuggler. 

strange how two little animals from similar backgrounds of abuse and neglect can turn into lovely pets with such different personalities. 

they make our days brighter and our evenings cuddlier. 

they have learned to co-exist.

and this is what i found them doing today.


and i love that in the shadow of his black fur you can't even see goliath's blue eyes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

i walk in bare feet in my garden.

my soles feel the dirt, the stones, the weeds, the prickle of the "shy" plant with the terrible thorns...

i walk.

i look.

i prune, pull, plant and pray.

i need to be in my bare feet, despite the thorns and the stones.

how would i know what i was walking on if i could not feel it?

how could i pull each weed, throw away each stone, feel which part of the soil is dry and which is too wet, if i could not feel it?

a lesson learned: to know the condition of your life, you must be barefoot in your soul. you must be open and vulnerable and feeling. you must sense the dryness, the flooding, the pain. you have to feel the sting of the nettles, the sharp jab of the thorns.

bare feet.

skin to earth.

heart to life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

sore eyes

i thought i'd maybe escape it, but no such luck.

emma had "sore eyes" (viral conjunctivitis) for a week, and then was ok, and a week later, i was happy that i hadn't got the bug.

until today. now i truly have it- in the same eye i had it last time.

not pretty.

of course, putting in the meds and taking care of it- my dear little gray-blue-green eye...

i'm so thankful for you, dear eye.

get well soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

small places

Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!-
He set you there.

Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!
He set you there.

Whate’er your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His.
He set you there.

mothers watch at windows...

Mothers watch at windows...
watch as the hours pass by,
stopping occasionally to check
the supper in the oven,
straighten a little in the house,
then back to the window,
wondering, hoping, praying...
listening for the phone,
turning the neck to see
both sides of the street,
straining eyes to see inside taxis,
waiting for the heart to explode
when the loved one appears...

mothers watch at windows...
light lamps, arrange flowers,
reach out into the universe
to draw the loved one home...
hearts watching, waiting endlessly,
patient and persistent...
mothers watch at windows...

Mothers wave goodbye...
and hold the unshed tears
till they're alone.
We watch our children
stride away
with straight brave backs,
not looking behind.
We kiss little faces
thinking “is this the last time?”
for life is uncertain...
and we smile.

Mothers act an incredible act
of excitement and joy-
“be brave! Isn't this an adventure?!”
when we tremble and quake
in our hearts...
not knowing, we give knowledge.
Fearing, we give courage.
Fainting, we give strength.
No one- hardly anyone,
except perhaps another mother-
sees us cry
the diamond drops of anguish.
Mothers wave goodbye.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

a poem a day

is it possible?

would the muse speak so easily?

could words flow every 24 hours that would satisfy my critical ear and eye?

is it worth it to even try?

let's find out...

for today, here is the mind-offering of the moment, on the spur of the moment...

piano notes flicking lightly in the lamplight
i listen to the clarity
and my fingers twitch
the hours of practice at the old brown upright
the notes blurring in front of my young eyes
as i drilled for a performance
it was never easy then
and i couldn't listen
to piano music
but i can now
the ivory bells echo off the brown walls of my room
reaching each corner with tone and phrasing and control
my fingers twitch


needs a little work...but not bad...

Friday, August 19, 2011

never alone

i'm alone, and little girl is sick, and too much traffic and driving and teaching have exhausted me.

unbidden, from my lips springs a song as i start supper on tired ankles in the kitchen...

"no, never alone, no never alone,
He promised never to leave me,
never to leave me alone..."

my mother's clear high soprano echoes in the room and i hear her in my voice,
and startled, stop singing.

then the notes swell again in my heart and i begin to sing again, my head aching and my heart worried about so many things...

"no, never alone..."

the husband-empty days and nights have piled up with decisions and bills and fatigue and just plain missing him...

i sing another line in my mom's voice (i sing in her voice, unconsciously, she gave it to me- such a gift)

"He promised never to leave me..."

Lord, you are here, in this kitchen with my sore feet and my frown and my dehydrated body and aching eyes and head....

I lean on Him hard just now...Lord, baby girl is sick, won't You please please touch her...

The night is long and dark, but

"He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone..."

tears well up

my heart flies back to those early days of hearing my mother sing that mantra over and over and over as her own heart broke and she languished alone all through the dark winters of my childhood and cared for the 8 of us alone...but she knew she wasn't alone.

He promised.

He promised.

softly i sing it, over and over and over.

never alone.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

lessons of the garden...

i have two beautiful little neem trees that i transplanted from pots into the garden about 3 months ago.

they were doing well, or so i thought...until i noticed they were leaning from the wind and i staked them up.

last week i checked on them to see how they were doing, straight-wise. when i untied the string and let them loose from the stakes, they totally flopped over and hung almost to the ground. my mouth dropped open- their trunks- or stems rather- had gotten thin and spindly because they had been tied up.

hmmmm. what to do?

i noticed on one tree that a cluster of little neem branches were beginning at the lower end of the weak trunk. "AHA! i shall chop off the tall spindly upper part and let it grow from the ground up," i decide.

the other one has no such luck, and i have no idea what to do with it. trees somehow look really weird when their tops are hanging on the ground.

moral of the story: TOO MUCH SUPPORT makes a weak tree. i should have let the wind blow and the tree figure it out. i loved it too much. now i have to chop it.

God is a gardener.

i'm learning a lot.

now......what to do with my eucalyptus tree which has the same problem but is staked to a pole that is 14 ft high???


thoughts from the garden.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

 they mowed the grass today
the roar of the terror filled the morning
cutting hacking crashing slicing
the fields were in agony under noonday sun
the birds swept frantically to and fro
mourning their lost nests
searching for the little ones
my ears ached with the screams of the living wounded things
after the anguish and the dying and the weeping
came a calm
and then
a fragrance rose from the stricken fields
a sweet sigh of pure beautiful pain
even though it was only meadow grass
the sweetness was there
and the merciful sky
wept a soft rain
onto the rows of fallen flowers
and the perfume swelled and  hung
in the gentle air
and my heart wondered at the awful beauty of mowing

Monday, August 8, 2011

time flies...

when you're having fun!

the past two and a half weeks have been glorious.

children and grandchildren...3 typhoons...some sunshine...lots of good food and family times and occasions and swimming and gardening and hanging out....nothing grand or "vacationy" but just day after day spent together. hours and hours of visiting and watching and listening and just 'being'.

so grateful for the days they've been here.

so thankful to a loving Father who brings families together, against all odds.

and storing up memories to last another year...

a colossal game of dominoes, played by our rules...heeheehee

Malachi, with his first efforts at writing his name!

my daughter Melody Joy and her squishy little Isaac!

little girls in pajamas watching cartoons or something while playing with stuffies...madison and emma...

towels permanently ensconced on the railing...

Malachi's wonder at a tiny gecko in mommy's hand- she re-living her childhood and enjoying showing him how to catch and handle such a delicate living thing...

glen toasting marshmallows on our high=tech grill, using forks...:)

nini reading, reading, reading, to hungry little minds and hearts...every bedtime...

madison, emma, and melody...
tita rose with isaac, who loved her so much...

papa outside showing emma and malachi how to clean mold off a leather belt with shoe polish...

almost giving the world "the bird"- not quite...

Monday, August 1, 2011


every day of this special summer we are making memories with our family.

sundays all together, big dinners, kids swimming, babies toddling and cooing and fussing, adults laughing and teasing...


that's what family is for.

every moment special and unique and fleeting.

the years fly so fast.

before we know it these little ones are catching up to the angst-ridden teens and the adults in various stages of life.

we who are the older ones- the parents, the grandparents- must stop and watch each thing, lest we miss the beauty.

each smile- each giggle- each glimpse of love and laughter and yes, angst and quarreling...just precious moments to remember.

building a foundation of memories for them to repeat to their grandchildren some day.

i pick up spilled hamburger from the pan and tell my granddaughter, "my grandma could pick up hot coals from the fire with her fingers..."

someday this little girl will tell her little girls, "my grandmother could pick up hot meat from the stove when it fell out of the pan..."

i bring out great-grandma's special dishes and we have a teaparty, and they will each get a cup and saucer when i'm gone and they will have a teaparty with their own little girls and they will remember...remember...

we walk in the tender rain- arms entwined under umbrellas, and they ask, and so i tell them about their births...

"you were born in the bathtub..".

"you were born so fast and i said, "oh, it's a little girl!"

"you were so long when you were born, and you were so healthy, and you were so quiet..."

memories of who they are, carried in their hearts...

the boys will remember the papa and the uncles and daddies tossing them, dunking them in the pool, building towers on shoulders, teasing them, instilling the maleness and building healthy testosterone levels...the quiet talks in corners with moms and aunts and grandma...

the girls will remember not just the softness and wisdom of the moms and aunties and grandmas, but the strength and closeness of the daddies, uncles, brothers, grandpas too.

the motorcycle rides...the baking...the movies played...craziness of adventures...the Holy Book every meal- made exciting and fun...

raising children.

making memories.

moments to capture in the heart forever.