Category Archives: write

The Love of Color And Dirt

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I have held up fairly well this very cold winter season.  I kept busy indoors with a 1000-piece puzzle, reading, writing, vacation planning, and even a couple of hand-written letters placed in the mail box.  You know, the old-fashioned way of communicating!  My interior decorating picked up again, with our newest additions  a chaise and lace-paneled screen for my boudoir, as well as a vintage stained glass window for the wall above the buffet in the living room.  It brightens the room up with the sun on it; swirls of purple, blue, and golden yellow reflect into the cottage.  Just what my soul needed … color!  Having just a little spring fever …

Oh, but there is the love of dirt, too!  I am anxious to get outdoors to dig in the dirt, sow seeds, plant flowers, move onto exterior decorating, and feel the fresh air and sun on my face.  Daylight savings time began this past Sunday, and the Spring Equinox is a week away!  Do you think the weatherman and mother nature saw the calendar, too?  I sure hope so!  No springtime snows and frigid cold blasts, please!

This will be our first spring in our little St. Charles cottage.  Signs of green popped up a couple of snowstorms ago.  I believe they are daffodils throughout the front and back yards.  Bursts of yellow in a few days!  I am sprucing up the indoor plants at home and at the office, trimming dead branches and topping the pots with fresh potting soil this week and next.  My green friends have done well under the plant lights in the basement, where it is not quite as cold as the barely heated garage at the other house.  And no feline friends to perch themselves in the potted plants!  My citrus tree, bird-of-paradise, ferns, and other potted perennials will go outdoors when the threat of frost is past, late in April.

Plans for very old awnings to come down, painting weathered window frames, window cleaning, and new fencing are on the top of the list of outdoor chores this spring and summer.  But the other chore, which to me is so much fun, is yard designing with the existing garden beds, as well as the choices and placement of garden art.  One of my childhood friends from Minnesota sent me a photo of her little mini greenhouse in the midst of an autumn snowfall, the sun gorgeously set behind it filtering through the autumn leaves and windows.  It brought to life the desire to build such a potting shed, maybe a bit of a “she-shed” where I can play in the dirt and plants.  But also to sit and relax on a comfy chair sipping herb tea, my writing journal, and pen among the birds, butterflies, and blooms.

 

Winter’s Warmth

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Ice hit the concrete sidewalks and streets last Sunday morning, like many other wintry mornings in Missouri.  Looking outside the red twig dogwood glistened.  Dean and I waited a bit for temperatures to increase, and then managed to get to church.  It is an oxymoron, winter’s warmth.  It is what winter does for us.  Brings us indoors after weathering the cold, ice, and snow.  Much like life.  The warmth of home lures us back to comfort and simplicity. “Sitting inside the warm, pleasant kitchen while icy rain beat against the window, I felt the wordless contentment of a horse in a stable or a wren in a birdhouse,” Gretchen Rubin writes.  Another author Dominique Browning contemplates, “the banal moments of the day are the most seductive to me. It is in the lighting of a fire on a cold morning, or in the pouring of wine and the pulling up of chairs to read together at the end of an afternoon of errands, that love really exerts its magic.” 

I miss a fireplace or wood stove to snuggle to in our little cottage, but have little niches in every room of our 4-room dwelling that seduce me.  My favorite room is the kitchen.  “So let’s dish out saucy praise for the place of crazy salads, spicy endearments, whispering souffles, sweetmeats, tender loins, and sticky fingers. That whirring, blending, mixed-up, soul-stirring, juice-dripping, hot-hearted room (the kitchen),” Dominique Browning writes in her book Slow LoveKind of spicy, you say.  That is what cooking in the kitchen does for my heart.  Another weekend snow has developed this afternoon.  Mini cheese-stuffed meatloaves, sweet potatoes, and banana-oat bread will grace our table this evening.  Tomorrow I will chop fresh veggies to saute with Italian sausage for Italian stone soup accompanied with fresh-from-the-oven bread sticks.  A casserole dish of homemade mac & cheese with a bowl of buttered edamame will be Sunday’s dinner.

I have plenty of library books to peruse and a jigsaw puzzle to piece together for this long weekend of winter warmth.  Besides Dean and I have each other to keep the fire going …

 

Winter Hideaway

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The weather people have been telling us about this big winter storm coming to our region by the weekend. Amazing how they can view the weather patterns over the ocean and predict conditions 5 days out and 2,000 miles away.  Sleet, ice, and snow in that order.  Well, they are right about a winter storm.  Although snowflakes started a couple of hours ahead of their initial timeline, and the precipitation is snow rather than sleet.  Too cold for sleet and ice.  Thank God! But much more snow than first thought, now close to a foot by the end of the storm.

I am in the comforts of my home, and no plans to go out this weekend. Church may not be attended on Sunday.  Much depends on the city’s plowing services.  Just heard one go by. The neighbor boy cleared the walking path to the street late afternoon yesterday, and my Dean cleared it again this afternoon. We are ready if we had to go out.

So home equals comfort, the warmth of good food, robes, blankies, and candles. We went grocery shopping a couple of evenings ago based on the forecast, along with many others by the long checkout lines. Freshly baked orange-cranberry scones for breakfast, the buttery aroma enveloped our home. And then homemade chicken veggie soup for lunch. Relaxing this afternoon, so leftovers will do for dinner tonight.  A veggie lasagna will be made for Sunday dinner. A couple of library books at hand, a decorating one caught my fancy today, Cozy Minimalist Home.  I am writing with the warming orange flicker of the candlelight nearby.  The song birds are feeding outside the window before tucking in for the night. At this moment I would not trade this to a secluded sunny beach.  See how many more snow days before I change my mind!  Right now, all is good!

Autumn Rains

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I took my antihistamine this morning as advised by my allergist.  When the temperatures get under 50, that is when my cold-allergy symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, and joint aches start up.  This was the 2nd morning in a row for more autumn-like weather, and today a cold rain to boot.  Feeling a little edgy at the office, I needed to get outside, rain or not at my lunch break.  I bundle myself in my rain jacket, already in jeans and boots this casual Friday.  My long 4-block stroll in the autumn rain was delightfully quiet.  The outdoors, “mother nature” calms me.  Things do not seem so big anymore in the vastness of the sky and trees.  I warmed up with a cup of hot tea when back at my desk.

My Minnesota friends have had the white fluffy stuff this week.  Last weekend in Kansas City, a cold rain pretty much non-stop for 2 days.  On the east side of Missouri the cold front finally came.  We went from August to November weather conditions in 2 days.  Our tomato plants situated in a screen house in rural St. Charles County may experience their first frost tonight.  This weekend’s visit to the farm will probably include picking green tomatoes, and next week preparing green tomato preserves.  I have housed my perennials and tropical plants in the house, basement, or garage for the next 5 or 6 months.

 

Autumn Rain by Gerry Legister

When we see summer changes 
The clothes we wear quickly disappear, 
And the next season rearranges 
Clouds more fastidious in the atmosphere. 

The fall is here; it means a new challenge 
For our clothes, shoes and hair 
From the warmth of summer to darker rage 
Autumn quietly drifts in unaware.

Let the autumn rain fall upon you, 
Let the autumn rain beat upon the trees 
Until the leaves fall down and become new. 
Let the autumn season fondly release

The changes that time replicates 
Shadows on the floor and rain in the air, 
With pools of water running off the trees 
And wash down into the gutter.

Let the rain fall softly while you sleep 
And make the rhythm night beat 
With a lullaby playing upon the housetop, 
A note of intrigue to adorn the light.

When pools of water from the sidewalk 
Splash upon you with quick surprise, 
It makes you walk with a watermark 
To stain the perfect spot on our tresses. 

Tending

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“There are some things we can never really possess; we simply take our brief turn at tending them,” writes author Dominique Browning about relationships, homes, and gardens.  Our children are with us for a short time.  Then gone from our homes tending to own adventures in life. Remember they belong to our heavenly Father from conception on. Our homes whether you reside for 5 or 50 years are molded to suit your needs.  Then you move to establish another residence elsewhere based on new needs and desires, and for some people multiple times in your lifetime.  “Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare, and left the flushed print in a poppy there,” poet Francis Thompson writes.  Gardens differ from the voluntary poppy blooming on the lakeside, a potted geranium, trays of microgreens, elaborate rows of organic beans in raised beds, to the caged tomato plants.  All tended with care by the gardener and mother nature.

Poppies_in_the_Sunset_on_Lake_Geneva

Jane Lewis’ song Tend Me Like a Garden defines “tending” well … 

I wish you would tend me like I was a garden. Start me from scratch, babe, right from seed. You could plant me with your bare hands in the springtime. And bring me water whenever I had the need. Tend me, tend me like a garden. Love me, love me like the rain. I will give you all that you can harvest. ‘Til the first frost steals me away. Oh won’t you take me into your garden. Lie with me on this fertile ground. I will feed you with my body. And bathe you in the sunshine coming down. Tend me, tend me like a garden. Love me, love me like the rain.  I will give you all that you can harvest. ‘Til the first frost steals me away. I will love you through all of the seasons. I’ll weather what the fall and summer bring. I may lie fallow in the winter. But I swear that I’ll remember you in spring. Tend me, tend me like a garden. Love me, love me like the rain. I will give you all that you can harvest. ‘Til the first frost steals me away I swear that I’ll remember you…

What relationship in your life needs tending today?

 

Sacred And Winged

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I counted a least two dozen winged trinkets and framed pictures on the shelves, mantel, and walls of both of our homes.  Mini birdhouses, feeders, nests, a sparkly snow bird and a reindeer (they fly!), angels, blue willow dishes, and an artist’s portrait of a peasant young woman cradling a wounded sea gull decorate my home.  These creatures bring life and represent my love of sacredness and nature … the green life of plants, trees, bushes, vines, and flowers as well as their winged friends.  Eagles, owls, ducks, swans, gulls, wrens, finches, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies are what I am attracted to during my walks besides the flowers and trees along the way.  And those angelic beings are protecting my loved ones and I.

Our Midnight

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Our Midnight.  Midnight was the extended Bates and Gall family pet and everyone’s friend. His vivacious, contagious spirit made you laugh and love life.  Midnight loved his Dean, and the special attention Dean gave him.  He loved people.  He loved our kids and grandkids, “his kids”.  He loved the many friends and family who visited our home. Whined and cried with happiness when any one came to visit “him”, of course.  He loved his Elisabeth, stayed at her side after every chemo treatment until she was back on her feet.  He loved the morning ritual of seeing Libby and Brendan onto the school bus.  He loved crockpot dinner and Chinese carry-out nights.  He loved his evening walks especially those that included a DQ ice cream cup.  He loved going out to “the farm”.  Midnight loved lakes and creeks, and chasing  after all the waterfowl that lived in them.  But he hated thunderstorms.  Major anxiety raced his pounding heart except oddly for those he embraced outside.  One of my fondest memories was being on the boat dock of cabin #2 at Valhalla Resort on Island Lake in Minnesota.  The thunderheads rolled in above the lake so abruptly like the cap-size waves that July evening.  Midnight and I faced the storm together while missing our Dad who passed away too soon to enjoy that evening with us.  We ran together for shelter once the lightning strikes began. And that story reminds me of the time Dean, Midnight, and I ran for the shelter from a tornado overhead while at the farm and greenhouse.  The whirling winds rocked our van just inches from the creek.  I think all three of us had a few more gray hairs after that adventure!

Our Midnight passed away on Monday, June 11.  And yes, this is our Midnight’s eulogy. Our 13-1/2 year old Labrador-flat coat retriever mix was 115 years old in human years.  It came suddenly, the vet said his body gave way to old age.  Midnight lived and loved 5 generations of the Bates/Gall family.  He was given to my Grandpa Earl and Grandma Paula as a Christmas gift in 2004.  Puppy love with huge paws.  Grew into a 90-lb adult dog, too much for my elderly grandparents to handle.  In turn my Dad adopted Midnight, trained him to be an excellent waterfowl retriever.  This pet came to live at the 99 Jane house with Dean and I after my father passed away 5-1/2 years ago.  Sometimes a crowded house, but always had room for our Midnight.  For a few days Midnight lived with Dean’s parents when we all were displaced from our home after the main water line flood.  One night our dog stayed with a kind family after he wandered off through an unlatched gate, no thanks to the contractor during our house addition.  Oddly enough, this family lived one field over from where I grew up on the tree farm in St. Peters.  Our handsome Midnight had been dubbed “Nerm” and “Hercules”, and I cannot explain why.  Our easygoing dog co-existed with 5 different house cats during his time with us.  Beyond tolerable, he was sociable to his feline companions especially during the late evening cat treat time all gathered in Dean and I’s bedroom every night.  He made a few doggy friends … Nasa, Mokie, Jesse, Bleu, Beatrice, Barry, Daisy, Gus, Molly, Parker, Roman, another Molly, Shawnee, Peyton, Ellie, Eddie, Max … learned to accept or avoid the young whipper-snappers as he became an old man dog.

Midnight is greatly missed, our hearts feel an emptiness yet privileged to have known him and feel his love.  Our Midnight.  We will always love you.

 

A Different Season

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wild violetsSpring finally arrived but transitioned into summer within days.  80 and even 90 temps have come quickly after such a long winter.  I have not put in my vegetable and herb garden yet.  Yes, I know.  A sense of guilt for the early crop of greens I missed.  But the garden will get planted.  It has been one cold spell after another, one distraction after another, and one rainy day after another.

We brought the perennials outside yesterday.  Some survived the winter in the semi-heated garage, and others did not.  After a good soaking last night, my potted greenery seems to relish the mild outdoor air and misty morning rain this Sunday.  My arrowhead plant has taken a beating from the baby kitten newly adopted.  “Little WeeWot”, I dubbed him, who likes to hop from the tall ceramic pot up onto the buffet where he has full view of the kitchen.  He even lays on the arrowhead plant to nap.  The arrowhead plant is now housed next to the porch under the Japanese red maple.  Such a pleasant sight this morning to see its branches perked up looking for the sunlight on this overcast day.  Hopefully, just the song birds perch on the potted plant.

This spring has been a different season.  I see my plants tell my story, my life. Gone with the dead, on with the living.  Browns and grays have passed away.  Green and vivacious colors reign again.  Flowers of red, purple, blues, and yellow spring forth and fill the pots overflowing.  Relationships renew.  Love lavishly wins.  Always. Tulips

 

April? No Fooling?

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April 8, today is my youngest grandson, Eli’s birthday!  A big eight-year old!  I cannot remember what the temps were that day.  Dean and I were engaged, making plans for our July wedding, and visited Rachel and our new grandson, Eli at the hospital.  Another miracle baby, conception and the life he lived inside his mother.  God has a plan for his life.  A mighty good one indeed.

What did the pastor talk about today?   “Faith…the evidence of things not seen…”  The weather has been up and down, up and down for weeks now.  The spring equinox came, but little evidence is seen.  The daffodils bring their burst of yellows more than the sun does these April days.  Wild violets creep between autumn remnants, and the stifled buds keep closed.  A tinge of green appears in some of the trees.  But snow in the forecast once again today!  We need some more sunny, warm days for the plant life to sing “hallelujah”.  I cannot wait.

I am so behind on the garden.  It has been too cold, or too wet to get to the greenhouse even in the Jeep.  Last year we had arugula coming up by late March.  Yesterday was a sunny, but crisp Saturday.  We worked clearing brush at Boone Hollow Farm after the temps got above freezing.  And we dumped some more organic soil in the vegetable and herb bed,  worked it in.  Maybe next week, we can sow our leaf lettuce, peas, and beets?  Faith … I can almost taste those roasted beets fresh from the oven!

 

Green Spaces

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I long for green spaces … growth.

Water overflowing into vessels

Streams wash the earth … renew. 

Springtime green comes to stay,

Spring rains shower, drip, drip.

Puddles of water to run through

Soaking each toe … anointing.

I long for green spaces … growth.