Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Slice of Life & #52Stories 36/52: At the Ocean

#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.

We're on a brief getaway on an inlet of Puget Sound, two nights with two grand boys, and daughter and son-in-law. It's a delight to go somewhere! My daughter headed straight for the water when we arrived, not a surprise since this daughter was a junior naturalist with the Seattle Aquarium when she was in high school. 

We've loved watching the water, digging around in the water, exploring the roads and paths, and finding sea anemones at low tide. This morning we watched herons and eagles and geese. Jack and I went on a discovery walk to observe markers at high tide that we can watch as the high tide ebbs out and more is exposed. We also discovered a road/path that is in the process of being graded. Jack called it a junk road because it's filled with roots and rocks and dirt, a perfect road for a three year old!

I can't be near the ocean without thinking about one of my favorite books, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I rarely read books again, but this a book I love to revisit. Someday, I would like to spend more than a few days near the ocean. I searched good reads for some favorite quotes. I'm limiting myself to sharing three of the quotes I found (only one is identified as coming from Gift from the Sea).

The idea of stilling and feeding the soul is my favorite theme from Lindbergh's book:
“The problem is not entirely in finding a room of one's own, the time alone, difficult and necessary as that is. The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of its activities. In fact, the problem is how to feed the soul.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

And this quote is new to me, but it's a new favorite for my writer's notebook:

“One writes not to be read but to breathe...one writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one's mind, to dissipate one's fears, to face one's doubts, to look at one's mistakes--in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one's joy, but also to disperse one's gloom. Like prayer--you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to 'grace'.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, War Within & Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1939-1944


And finally, this quote about why we need to share our writing. I'm so grateful for this writing group that provides warm sun for my writing efforts: 

“You can’t just write and write and put things in a drawer. They wither without the warm sun of someone else’s appreciation.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Three pictures from our brief pandemic getaway:

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!

To savor the magic of story, join the fun by linking your story at Sharing Our Stories.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

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

#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.

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

#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.

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.