Tuesday, April 25, 2017


The latest read aloud with Erin is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Like Dickens and Steinbeck, this treasure is ripe of rich detail. Reading it awakens something full of hope deep down inside, poetic words of life, language that coaxes and calls a broken heart to proclaim, as did Master Colin in the face of beauty, "I shall get well! ... And I shall live forever and ever and ever!"

April showers. Rainy yesterday. We sat under blanket on the school room couch and I read out loud to her. When Dickon arrived at the garden with a pail of creamy milk and another pail of his mother's buns, Erin jabbed me. I continued on, thinking it a reflexive jump. Another mention of buns. Another jab. And then a third.

"Why do you keep jabbing me?" I asked.

"The buns! You were going to make buns on Easter and you didn't!" she said. Oh, the buns. Hot Cross Buns.

"Tomorrow is Tuesday," I mused. "And we haven't had a tea this month ..."

While no special guests surround our table, we'll imagine ourselves in a secret garden (which we sort of have), among woodland friends (woodpeckers, owls, colorful birds, and squirrels).

Today's menu: Baked Today Hot Cross Buns; Fresh Melon, Mango and Red Grapes; Chocolate Coconut Bread; a Sprinkling of Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers; Cinnamon Orange Rooibos; Peach Mango Juice; Milk.

Pink thrill of Dogwood tops

Last of our tulips

Gorgeous colors

Bleeding hearts

One in the azalea patch

My favorite--the red lobster

Easiest dough

I had my doubts at first, but they turned out great--except for the cross part (my bag split)

Our first tea in the rain

Monday, April 24, 2017

And still counting (10,344-10,359)

everything about Anita
a car--sold

fresh field fragrance
coffee with my neighbor
and the unexpected chocolate-wonderful pound of beans gifted
grass, cut
texts with Cindy

leftovers on a busy day
hot tea magic
fabulous fabric bookmarks to hold our place
encouraging words from strangers--so uplifting
patience and grace to handle tasks

getting things done on a rainy Saturday
homemade chicken soup, delivered by a friend
a Sunday camped on the couch

Monday, April 17, 2017

And still counting (10,326-10,343)

a coffee invitation with a neighbor
a card in the mail from a (former co-op) mom
azaleas on sale, and four lovelies for the garden
buttery yellow primrose
phlox in bloom

the cherry tree in bloom
the scent of apple blossoms in the field
sticks piled high for a future bonfire
food in the fridge
Lori's better days

the wildly creative minds around the (church) table
blue hydrangea blossoms
cherry blossoms sprinkling down
that man of mine
days home in the yard

a visit outside with Lori
books in the mail

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day story


Outside my window, the front garden is raked and leaves hauled off. It's full of blooming primrose, and the azaleas are sporting new buds of their own. The house gardens show off tulips and stunning purple phlox. The cherry tree rains gentle petals over the lawn. The sky is blue. The sun is out. The air is warm. Breathing in this life.

Giving thanks for Easter worship at church, hugs from friends and neighbors, spring awakening. Thankful for green fields and new growth and vibrant color. The apple blossoms have the most delightful scent. And I'm already making lists for new plantings.

In the school room, preparing for a new week. A calendar light from so many full weeks--a home week of hunkering down, connection, restoration. A curriculum fair in the future; is it time already?

From the kitchen, I made a favorite strawberry salad often served up at Easter time. Thinking of Easters past at the old house with my dad, Linda and Lori. Today, at Lanie's urgent request, blackberry cheesecake bars. Easy recipe, and easily adaptable to a gluten-free life. Burgers on the grill for dinner.

I am creating memories. The girls found Easter baskets this morning. I hid eggs out in the gardens, and still they run and rush to collect them all. I joked with Shane, "Let's enjoy this Easter, we only have fifteen more years of hiding eggs for them!" Truly, I'm glad my kids are kids to the core and that they delight in the fun of finding things. Baskets with a few little treasures. Erin said to me, "This is my favorite Easter!" And then admitted she doesn't really remember the other ones. Ha!

I don't want to forget these good years here. This home has been so full of love and life. From the moment it captured my heart, and every step of the journey, it has been a sweet gift. I'm thankful for Cindy and Joel in my life. I'm thankful for good neighbors whose arms, hearts and homes are open to us. I'm thankful for a woodland wonderland. Sitting with Shane in the nook outside, blossoms like a gentle spring shower around us, slow motion confetti--a celebration of new life. Abundant life. 

Around the house, washing brick pavers, raking flower beds, pulling weeds. A new season and I want to embrace it completely. Welcome beauty. Welcome. Welcome home.

I am hearing nearby lawn tractors. So many birds this year, and so much song. There's no place like home. There's no place like here. Grateful.

A view of my favorite things:
garden phlox

This sweet trio, and Nella leaning in for the loving!

cherry blossoms

never too old

that man of mine

At the table, sitting at the school table thinking. I think about family and extended family and friends like family. One of the last calls my dad made was to his banker about paying off his truck. He took the time to express his feelings for her and their relationship over the years. I think about what my pastor said Saturday night, about success and what we think is success, and climbing ladders--only to find the ladder was propped up against the wrong wall. My dad had some people he had known at his funeral. But the banker wasn't there. Or the other people he had business relationships with. His sister wasn't there either (this is not said in criticism of them, but in reflection of relationships). You can climb all the wrong ladders, try to please all the wrong people. And the only blood that guarantees anything is the blood of Christ. These months have taken me on a heart journey for sure as I've thought long on who I thought my dad was, and what I've learned about him since he died. I've learned a few things about myself as well.

Monday, April 10, 2017

And still counting (10,301-10,325)

spring fragrances
the neighbors' lovely lawns
an evening walk with Lanie
Erin with me, everywhere
warm days

piano music in the house
a camera back in my hand
the very good memories my husband and kids have given me
seeing Lori daily
great care for her

sweet, hot tea
chocolate kisses
socks on my feet
the beginning blossoms on our late blooming cherry tree
a complimentary hand massage

sticks in the yard to pick up
that man of mine
chips and dip
her exclamation at a kite in the sky
sweet joy

being "back" at video
Sunday drive with my people
breakfast for dinner
a tractor, waiting

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Our family get-togethers were always Dad's birthday, Lori's birthday/Father's Day, and Thanksgiving.

Last year, he turned eighty. He wondered during the luncheon if I'd be lighting up a cake full of candles, but I didn't respond and I don't think he expected it (all the candles). Oh, the look on his face when he walked into the room and saw the blaze and felt the heat, made me realize he had secretly hoped for such fanfare. And that look on his face filled me with great joy, his secret hope realized.

His smile meant everything to me.

Happy birthday, Dad.

80 years old

His birthday hat left at his seat.
Hospitality looks to fill the spaces. A sense of belonging someplace. A sense of welcome. A feeling of worth. Being seen.

I joked with him that I'd stick an eight and a one on his cake this year. But this year, no cake. This year, an end of day reflection, and not long.

Oh, if he were here, what things would I say? The conversation in light of these past months would be very different than January niceties over cocoa and knitting. The grave doesn't answer back. It holds no answers. No warmth. Oh, if he were here, what things would he say?


I texted with a friend last night. I had been out of touch with her since Lori's hospitalization. I filled her in, briefly. I told her how I am back to getting my bearings, after being pummeled by waves repeatedly, I'm getting on my feet again and bracing. She knows from her own knocks. She knows about bearings. She commiserated.

But this: We rise stronger. Even if it doesn't feel like it. 


Yes, this year, this day, hot tea with extra honey. Thinking of April and May poetry teas with my girls, and wondering who will fill our table. Hospitality looks to fill those spaces with belonging, welcome and worth.

On, on.

Monday, April 3, 2017

And still counting (10,263-10,300)

yellow tulips in a vase
milky brie in the fridge
a mailbox, new

reunited with my sister
her cry to see me--like we'd been separated ages
a chat by phone with her
home fires
hot chocolate and tea

answered prayers
house guests, Comet and Haley
The Secret Garden, read alouds
a burger from Five Guys

love notes from Lanie
encouragement by email
nights when sleep comes without interruptions by fear
rough days that smooth by morning
the very real presence of friends

eighteen years married to a Good Guy
balloons for my sister
sunshine returned
lunch with Lori
weeds in the gardens, pulled

warmer temperatures
British Breakfast tea in a big mug
baptism weekend at church
before service preparations, camera 2

the video team
Easter tickets for five

her play at the table
Erin and Lego Friends
April brides, kindred love
a hound on the ground in the sunshine
primrose to plant
Erin running in the yard

hydrangeas in blue
the cutest silicone baking cups shaped like tea cups
a spring walk with Lanie
bird song and frog song
texts with friends in the hard times