Thursday, September 17, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Picture Book Goodness!

I was inspired to begin this post after reading Glenda's Slice of Life, Kid-Lit Catharsis.  I never finished that slice. So I'm finishing it and sharing it for SOS. It's perfect for today's prompt - writer friends are important. I frequently show up for SOL, SOS, or Poetry Friday without ideas for writing. But if I just dive in and start reading posts, pretty soon someone's words will inspire me. And that is one of the main reasons that my writer friends are important. They keep me connected to poetry, to books, to writing, to reading, and to them. On to my unfinished post, inspired by Glenda's words  . . .

My days are filled with picture books. Sometimes I preview them before sharing them with my grand boys, but sometimes we just jump in and discover a new story together. Tuesday morning was one of those days. I try to bring three books each time I come, but my book bag was down to just two books: Spot Says Please, an Eric Hill board book (we loved pretending to eat the chocolate cake that Sally offered at the tea party), and a new-to-me title, I Dream of a Journey by Akiko Miyakoshi.

The first page pulled me in, "This is my hotel. Small but cozy, it's my pride and joy." The hotel keeper's guests tell him stories of places he's never been and he finds himself with " . . . a great yearning to go far, far away."  And so he goes on a journey in his dreams (which many of us may find ourselves doing during this time of pandemic).  

And then, these golden lines: 

"When I'm traveling, each day brings unexpected happenings. 

I collect these special moments, treasuring them in my heart." 

It's important that we pay attention to the unexpected happenings that pop up in our days. Today it was seeing a friend when I ventured out briefly in our unhealthy air to pick up library books. It warms my heart to see a friend, even when we're wearing masks. 

Glenda asked us to share the picture books that heal our souls. And so I share two additional favorites that I've read over and over during the past six months. 

I wrote a bit about The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse for a blog post in April. It is still one of my favorite books. I love that I had it from the library for several months and have since purchased it and gifted several copies to family members.

The last book that I'll share is a favorite Cynthia Rylant title published in 2005, The Stars Still Shine. These words from the book jacket capture how I feel about this book: ". . . this gentle, life-affirming book reassures us all that, even in uncertain times, every day of every year offers good things that will bring us joy." You will love the illustrations, you will treasure the words, and you will find yourself spellbound by the goodness of this book.

I can't write about picture books and their goodness and how they sustain me without a note of gratitude to my writer friends whose recommendations guide my reading life. I'm blessed indeed!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sharing Our Stories & #52Stories 35/52: Our Three Day Whirlwind!

Blake and Stefi arrived after a fourteen hour drive with a four month old and a four year old. We finally met new granddaughter Ruthie and hugged grandson Teddy. Teddy was happy to be out of the car and have some time to play. Grandma and Grandpa got acquainted with Ruthie girl. Four glorious days stretched ahead of us.

Sunday was Day One. It was a planned recovery day. It was a delayed until 2 pm cousin-get-together.  It was laughter, and three loud, lovable boys, and one precious baby girl, and home church, and baked spaghetti, and homemade ice cream, all cranked together in one joyous four hour stretch.

Monday was Day Two. The day began with a big breakfast, a beloved Scifres family tradition whenever family gathers together! Scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, and my mama's buttermilk biscuits. And the beverage of choice? A Behnke family tradition - Twin Creamery Chocolate Milk from Lynden, WA! Then it was off to the school playground for three boys and three dads with assorted balls and helmets and wheeled vehicles. Before you could say Jack Robinson (one of my daddy's sayings), it was time for elevenses - chocolate and cinnamon roll! The best way to describe this delicious, delectable, Duff family tradition? It's a flaky pie crust base topped with a mixture of sugar, cocoa (or cinnamon), and canned milk, And then you dot the mixture with butter before folding toward the center, tucking in the ends, and baking until the delicious aroma fills the home and calls everyone back to the kitchen. Afternoon found Teddy heading to cousin Jack's for a play date while his mom and dad visited U Village. Once the kids were in bed, we finished watching The One and Only Ivan which we had started on Sunday night.

Tuesday was Day Three. Our morning plan for a leisurely walk in Bellevue Botanical Gardens was cancelled due to dangerous air quality from the fires in eastern Washington. Sara and Jack came over, art projects in hand, to spend the morning. A morning text and photo from Blake's neighbor revealed that hurricane force winds had toppled a large tree in their front yard and caused power outages. And a call from their contractor indicated they could start the remodel project on Thursday. So suddenly our four glorious days together became three lovely, whirlwind days. Blake and Stefi went into high gear, making a planned stop in North Bend, doing laundry and prepping for their return trip on Wednesday. We cherished every precious moment together!

Bright eyed and ready for travel at 5 am on Wednesday morning!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Finding Direction

Thanks, Karen, for gathering us to write about this important topic, Finding Direction. You can find links to all the posts at Karen's Got a Blog.

I've been encouraged by articles I've read that point the way to seeking meaning and finding direction during this time. The NYT Smarter Living section's article on Monday, "How to Cope When Everything Keeps Changing" is filled with strategies to help us cope when life resembles an endless stream of curveballs.  

A favorite scripture, Psalms 119:105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," popped into my head as I thought about this theme. During this time of pandemic and unrest in our world, I find it important to "make time" to turn to scripture and song to feel the calming influence of the spirit. I first typed "find time," but then I remembered my father always saying that we never find time, but that we always make time to do the things we want to do. And that leads me to wonder if my prayers should include the plea, "Help me want to spend time with the word and help me yearn for quiet time to refresh my spirit and keep me close to thee." 

The words of the hymn, Lead, Kindly Light, popped into my head a day or so ago as I went about the day's activities. I enjoyed reading a Wikipedia article about the hymn and learning that it was originally published as a poem, "the Pillar of the Cloud,"  based on these words from Exodus 13: 

21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. 

Perhaps it's not surprising that my thoughts of scripture and song turned to references to light. Light is my OLW for 2020. I need the Lord's light to lead me and give me light, both by day and by night. I look forward to reading your thoughts about finding direction. I'm always encouraged by my friends at Spiritual Journey Thursday. Feel free to join us by posting your own thoughts. We love welcoming new folks to join our spiritual journeys.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

SOS & #52Stories 34/52: Bella Vista Vacation

When I think of summer and vacations, one particular memory sticks out - the summer we went to Bella Vista, Arkansas. It was a vacation that my brother won at the State Fair in Tulsa. The fact that my brother "won" this vacation for our family made it magical from the beginning.

You see, Bella Vista, was the name for a resort like setting in the hills of Arkansas, complete with a lake and amenities for relaxation. We jumped for joy when we arrived to see a large swimming pool, a miniature golf course, and colorful, covered paddle boats on the lake. Our vacation lasted for three glorious days. I think we probably swam three times a day. Our luxurious accommodations? A three bedroom trailer near a kiddie playground.

I was thirteen and my brother Karl was fifteen that summer. While we were probably beyond the age for enjoying a kiddie playground, but something about this vacation brought out the kid in all of us. There's a pic of my brother and me on a spin around teeter totter. There's a favorite picture of my dad perched atop a climbing structure grinning from ear to ear! And even a pic of Mom briefly climbing the same structure.

Our "free" vacation came with an obligation. We had to spend a morning with one of the Bella Vista agents who drove us around the area, intent on selling us a lot for future vacations or for a retirement place. There was much talk of future plans for the development and explanations of how they could help us become the proud owners of our own place at Bella Vista. It took way too long and infringed on our morning swim time, but eventually the salesman realized that we would not be the golden purchaser for him. After several hours, we were released to continue our idyllic vacation. 

We had no destination to reach, no designated miles to travel, no schedule for the day (other than the required one morning entrapment with the salesman). We enjoyed three meals a day prepared by Mom in our mobile home kitchen. We played, we paddle boarded, we swam, we laughed and we loved our free vacation in the Arkansas Ozarks.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: My Expanded Etheree!

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting 
this week's roundup of poetic goodness.

It's almost the end of the month and I challenged myself to write an original poem once a month. I know that isn't much, but it's a challenge for me. After seeing some Poetry Friday friends post etherees, I wanted to try out this form. (The poetry form, Etheree, consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables.)  

I decided to try the form with my OLW (one little word) for 2020. After all, it's the perfect one syllable word for the first line. The only problem was that I ended up with 12 lines instead of 10. So I went to work whittling it down to fit the ten line structure. Only I think I still like my expanded 12 line, 12 syllable poem better. So I'm posting both versions. 

My expanded poem with 12 lines, 12 syllables:


my one

little word

for this year of

living differently.

I seek moments of shine

to calm my frenetic heart

and turn my heart to gratitude.

I seek friends shining beacons of hope

illuminating the path through darkness.

I seek Jesus, the source of all light, who heals,

succors and sustains my journey toward the Light.

                                                    - Ramona Behnke


The shortened version to fit the 10 line Etheree structure: 



my one

little word.

I seek moments

of shine to turn my

heart toward gratitude.

I seek friends with hope filled hearts

to lighten our walk through the dark.

I seek Jesus, the source of all light,

who succors and sustains my quest for Light.

                                            - Ramona Behnke 

 My daughter, Sara, created this light visual for my desk!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

SOL & #52Stories 33/52: Routine Disrupted!

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

Grandson Jack and I have a regular morning routine. When Robby goes down for his morning (and only) nap, I have computer time while Jack does a table activity. Only today our routine was disrupted. It all started when Jack asked me to pick him up high. I had to tell him that I couldn't do that. I can still pick up my three and a half year old grandson, but picking him up high? That is something that only Dad can do. 

Jack jumped down and went to Dad's office (the spare bedroom) to ask if he could lift him up high. And of course, Dad was too busy so Jack returned with a sad face and a bit frustrated. Before I knew it, he had picked up my bag and dumped the contents onto the living room carpet (something he's never done before). He and I picked up everything and talked about other actions that might be more appropriate. He mentioned looking at an exciting picture in a book, or playing in his new home (the box from Dad's office chair). I demonstrated how it's okay to punch a pillow and say aloud what you're feeling when things don't go your way. 

But the biggest disruption that impeded my return to the computer and writing this post was an item that Jack found when we were replacing the items in my bag. Jack discovered a new chapter book that I had picked up at the library and was saving for our "after lunch" story time. How could I resist his plea for just one chapter? Each time we finished a chapter, the plea would be for "just one more" chapter. One chapter turned into nine and before we knew it, we reached page 110 and the end of the book.

I return to the computer to finish my post. And now Robby is awake. 

P.S. I didn't get back to finish this post until I returned home at the end of the day.

I always bring three books in our special book bag when I arrive to watch the grand boys! Here are today's picture books. I'm so glad that our local KCLS library has curbside pickup!

Our Friend Hedgehog is the chapter book that captivated my young grandson
and made it impossible for me to resist his plea for "just one more chapter." 
And yes, we read it again for "after lunch" story time.

And during Jack's quiet time? Why I'm busy reading whatever Robby picks out.
(I love how he stands on tiptoe to retrieve a favorite book.)

My days are rich and filled to the brim with joy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Significant Week!

When Mary Lee put out the call for Poetry Friday hosts, I knew that I had dabbled and showed up and reaped where others had sown for far too long. So I gathered my courage, picked what looked like an unremarkable week in August, and signed up to host Poetry Friday for the first time. 

Little did I realize at the time that this week had SIGNIFICANCE! 

It's the anniversary week of the passing of the 19th amendment. There's so much to learn and so many opportunities available. I still haven't watched the American Experience: The Vote (a two part PBS special I recorded).  I saved the special section from Sunday's New York Times, "How American Women Won the Right to Vote," and I'm slowly reading the articles. While writing this post, I discovered 14 Ways to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. While written for residents of Washington, several links lead to online opportunities.

It's the week of the Democratic National Convention, a convention unlike any we've ever seen before. And I've been lucky to watch the proceedings and commentary of the first three nights and am looking forward to the final night's events on Thursday evening.

It's the anniversary week of my first post for Poetry Friday. Mind you, I'd been a lurker and commenter for a long time, but it was during this week (six years ago) that I finally took the plunge and began my journey as a some-of-the-time participant in Poetry Friday. And guess who left a comment on that first post? None other than Lee Bennett Hopkins! It still makes my heart happy to read his words on that post.

Here are my poetry offerings for this week: 

Evie Shockely's "women's voting rights at one hundred (but who's counting?)" was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative (with new poems by nineteen contemporary women poets). Shockely's poem reminds us that amid celebrations of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, we should remember the ongoing struggle of black women to claim their voting rights.

Say Her Name arrived in the brown bag that I picked up curbside recently at my local branch of the library. Zetta Elliott is a new-to-me author and I'm not sure how I learned about this book. The back cover of the book has this endorsement: "Award-winning author Zetta Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls. ...these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists championing the Black Lives Matter cause." As I read this book, I discovered that I have much to learn. After my first reading of the book, I found the notes at the end which helped provide much needed context for many of the poems and led to another reading of the book, flipping from poem to notes in the back for the additional information.


Here's a link to Camp TV (fast forward to 47:05 to find the exact spot) where you can listen to Zetta Elliott read her new picture book (published July 2020), "A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart."

I look forward to reading your blog posts and seeing what you'll share this week.