Thursday, September 15, 2022

Sharing Our Stories and Poetry Friday: Goodbye Evergreen Lane

It's been awhile since I've written except for Spiritual Journey Thursday posts. Our summer was overfull with moving and getting settled in a new-to-us place (closer to daughter's family and only 30 minutes away from where we used to live). 


When I saw the SOS prompt for August: Say Hello or Goodbye, I knew I would need to write a goodbye post to the house we've lived in for 25 years. I made a final visit to our home on Wednesday so I could say goodbye. This is what tumbled out.  



Goodbye Evergreen Lane


Goodbye 25 years of memories on Mercer Island,


beginning with chants of “our house,” as we passed you on West Mercer


until our hoped for dream became a reality, and we moved in.


Our fifth and seventh grader ventured forth


to forge new friends in the Northwest.


Before we knew it, homecoming parades and Island Celebrations


and All Island Band nights became family traditions


and we found ourselves comfortably at home.


Far too soon our nest emptied as Blake and Sara


headed off to college and new adventures.


Days when they returned were the best - 


longed for, relished, and celebrated.


And then their spouses joined us around the table


for games and big breakfasts and laughter and love.


And then the longed for grandchildren arrived


to play with toys from their parents’ childhoods


to roam the bamboo trail on adventures with Grandpa


to bake cookies and read stories with Grandma


to bubble play and scooter time on the paving stones


to crank homemade ice cream in the summer


to the wintry delight of sliding down the snowy little hill.


Through it all we’ve loved you so.


Soon you won’t belong to us,


but our memories are rich 


and you will hold a forever place in our hearts. 


- Ramona Behnke

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Spiritual Journey Thursday: How Do We Build Community?

Maureen is hosting our gathering this month with the topic of community.

I thought we might have written about community in the past, so I searched the term "community" on my blog.  Guess what? Almost every blog post I have written comes up in that search. Spiritual Journey Thursday friends are a community, Poetry Friday friends are a specific community who gather around poetry. Sharing Our Stories and Two Writing Teachers are other examples of writing communities that nurture my writing life. These communities are virtual communities (although I have met a few of you in person) and I cherish the friendships and community we share around our shared interests in writing, literacy, teaching, observing the beauty in our world, seeking for spiritual growth, and for some of us, being grandmas.

Spiritual Journey Thursday brings us together for a sacred pause each month to check in with our spiritual batteries. I love the insights that each member brings to our topic of the month. Our backgrounds are varied, but we share an interest and desire to strengthen our spiritual lives.

We moved from our home of 25 years in July. I feel bereft without that community of friends with whom I have shared so much. We moved 30 minutes away in order to be closer to daughter and son-in-law and the grand boys. And so we have a new church community and a new neighborhood. I'm working to be a builder, to reach out to create community in this new neighborhood and church congregation. 

I'm close enough to my old friends to make occasional trips there to stay connected. But I want to build community in my new setting. My niece, who also moved this summer, sent me this text on Sunday: "Yesterday was the first Sunday I started to feel 'at home' in my new ward (congregation). It's taken a lot of me being very chatty and friendly on Sundays." Wisdom from the upcoming generation! Community is created by being chatty and friendly. I'm hoping I remember that next Sunday.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Nurturning our Summer Souls

I totally planned to write this post on Thursday. We had a carpet cleaner coming to our old house and I was looking forward to some time to write and think. Well, by the time I made a drop at the thrift store, stopped by the grocery store and returned home, the carpet cleaner was finished and so was my window of quiet. I did take some pics as I walked around our home of 25 years.

We're headed to a vacation house to celebrate our 40th anniversary with our son's and our daughter's families: with six littles six years and under. It promises to be an adventure, filled with fun memories and happy times together. Little did we know when we planned this trip, that we would be moving just three weeks prior to the trip. 

 Come stroll with me around our soon-to-be-sold home:


Daughter brought taco salad and we dined outside last week with these very important guests who now live six minutes away.

We drove to Chimicum this week and discovered a story walk in one of the parks. When you walk back, there's a second story on the reverse side. I can't wait to read and experience it with the grands this week.

One of my favorite summertime activities is reading outside. An article in last week's NYT book review spotlighted summer readers around the country, including a ferry rider in Seattle.

My summer reading's been sparse this year, but I finished and enjoyed this memoir for my online book club.
I picked this delightful children's book up from the library holds shelf this week.

And I started this one while sitting in the cell phone lot
waiting for the arrival of our son and his family.
Doesn't everyone love to read a Christmas story in August?
Here's hoping you find moments to treasure and nurture your summer soul 
in the middle of your busy summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Celebrations

I spaced out and totally forgot our SJT last week. I didn't even realize that the the first Thursday of the month had passed, but thanks to our friend Margaret, here we are, one week late. I selected Celebrations as my theme for June, probably because June is my birthday month. But celebrating feels hard right now. I like that when we got together via email (thanks, Margaret!), someone suggested we write about small celebrations.

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24)

In no particular order, here are some recent celebrations (both large and small): 

June 1 marked the end of my quarantine from a mild case of Covid! 

Our rental has air conditioning. My family laughed when I mentioned that it was something I was looking for in a rental. It's a rarity in the Pacific NW and no small thing to celebrate. 

I've been so busy saying goodbye to all my flowering plants at home (we've lived here 25 years), that I hadn't even looked around the yard at our rental, soon-to-be home.

These day lilies are just beginning to bloom! 
Our rental is this lovely shade of blue and we have a yellow front door.

And these rhododendrons in the front yard.


This deer who grazed beside me on Tuesday's walk 

while I walked slowly and snapped photos.

"She didn't hurry./ She wasn't afraid.

I saw her eyes/ and she saw/ mine.

That look/ held us/ together." 

 (I'm In Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor) 

Our new place is walking distance from a state park.

A Wednesday evening spent with a favorite group of friends, our book club. And yes, I'll be traveling 30 minutes to be together with these ladies once a month. We've headed for our 25th anniversary year soon.

I never tire of celebrating life with the grands, an ever present comfort (whether in person, by Zoom, or by photos snapped and sent to me).


This new growth green that is soft as a baby's bottom. 
I love it and celebrate its arrival every year! 
Please leave a link to your post in the comments.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sharing Our Stories and Slice of Life: The Magic of A Writing Life

As I've shared before, I'm not a person who has written since childhood. I do have the diary (spelled "dairy" from my years as a Brownie Girl Scout). I started faithfully keeping a journal during my college years which continued until I married when my efforts reduced considerably. And now almost 40 years later, I only have four journals, the college one, the one I kept during my missionary service in Hong Kong, and two journals (one of them incomplete) from my life post mission until now.

But the "magic" of my writing life began in earnest when I discovered blogging through Two Writing Teachers and Slice of Life. Thanks to a unique group of students who sliced with me every day in March of 2012, I found myself hooked.

In the eleven years that have elapsed since then, I've published 1,280 blog posts. I like to think that I'm leaving behind a record of who I am through these blog posts. But the greatest magic of my writing life has been the relationships I've formed with fellow bloggers. I am forever grateful for the support of writing communities through the good times and the difficult times.

While I began my blogging journey with an initial attempt at a 48 hour reading challenge, it was the community of writers at Slice of Life and my sixth grade students who supported me in my attempt to write daily for 31 consecutive days. I planned for last year (2021), my 10th, to be my final year of writing daily in March, but I found it impossible to stay away and joyfully wrote daily for the 11th year. I've also enjoyed blogging for Spiritual Journey Thursday, Celebrate This Week, Poetry Friday, a #52stories project to collect family stories, and Sharing Our Stories. The members of many of these communities overlap and I feel lucky to count each of you as my blogging friends.

YOU are the magic that keeps this reluctant writer returning and writing. My thanks to each of you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sharing Our Stories and Slice of Life: Magical Moments

He arrives at the back door with a special bundle in his arms, excited to be the selected delivery person. He's watched this gift grow from pieces of colorful fabric to squares to quilt size and return to us a few months later beautifully quilted and ready for the binding. Perhaps part of his excitement is knowing that the next quilt slated for creation will be his. Every time I look at this gift from the heart, I marvel at how my daughter was able to do this with three boys five and under. She's the magic behind this gift!

I rarely have the opportunity to read to just one boy, unless it's nap time. And now Ollie is our only boy who naps during the day. If I pick up a book to read, my lap is quickly filled with boys. Grandpa and Ollie's big brothers are at the park. We pull out the basket of books and I choose Little Blue Truck. We enjoy making all the animal sounds and the beep-beep-beep of the little blue truck. Book finished, Ollie crawls over to the foam shapes we built with earlier, selects the truck and carries it to the front of the book to show me that he knows this is a truck too. And he's only nine months old!

This young man is headed for kindergarten in the fall and he loves wordplay and rhyming words. So when I picked up Digger the Dinosuar and the Cake Mistake from our stack of library books, he was thrilled. He has read other books about Digger, but not this one. As soon as we finished reading and laughing, he had just one request, "Read it again!"

These are the kinds of giggles that the book elicited from the boys.

            Here's to finding magical moments in your busy days!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Slice of Life: Easter with the Utah Grands!

I'm not a scrapbooker, but I do like tracking my latest adventures here. Please indulge me while I share the fun we had and more than a few pics from our latest trip. We were greeted at the airport by a jubilant Teddy and a son who had wrenched his back just that morning.

We spent time in the backyard, swinging, running, playing in the playhouse, climbing on top of the playhouse and in and out of the windows, harvesting dandelions, drawing with chalk, and blowing bubbles. We read books and played Break the Ice and enjoyed several neighborhood walks.

Teddy had a T-ball game on Saturday and hit his first coach-pitched ball. Since he was last man at bat, he got to run all the bases. He ran so fast that he got ahead of some of the other players and had to wait a bit on 3rd base so his teammates could get into home before he finished his run.

We loved attending church with Blake and his family. He sang in the choir as part of a lovely Easter program.
Lily and Ruthie amazed us with their ability to sit still in church. After church we discovered the Easter bunny had mysteriously stopped by. Grandma and Grandpa even got an Easter basket with Grandma Siddoway's favorite chocolates. Stefi sure knows how to spoil us. 

Lily plays contentedly surrounded by her toys and charms all of us with her happy smiles. Ruthie has started calling Grandpa, Papa. She and I enjoyed cuddling, reading books, and singing before naps and bedtime. Ruthie and Papa spent time playing chase (in the house) and practicing their lion roars.







Teddy joined us at the 'vacation house' for a sleepover on Sunday evening. He and Grandpa enjoyed reading Nate the Great and a new dinosaur book (Teddy helps Grandpa pronounce the names correctly,). Monday morning I awakened to Grandpa and Teddy giggling uncontrollably as they read the tongue twister "the tutor who taught two tooters to toot" and enjoyed a new round of knock knock jokes from Grandpa's joke book. We tried to play a new game, but decided we really needed Aunt Sara there to explain the rules. We'll play it when we all get together this summer.

It would have been a perfect visit, if only Blake hadn't hurt his back. But we were glad to be there and help out while he was out of commission for a bit (with continuing daily improvement). And now we count down to our August visit when Ruthie will have celebrated her second birthday, Teddy will have celebrated his sixth birthday, and Lily will have celebrated her first birthday! Where does the time go?

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Sharing Our Stories: " ... the fine mingling of letting go and holding on"

As soon as I read the quote that Ruth shared with this week's prompt, I knew I would write about books. We've arrived at that age where we know that downsizing is in our future. For some time, I've been weeding my books. But it's a long process. 

First, I worked with my educational books. I've prided myself that I had moved from four shelves of professional books to one shelf. But that's not really true, for I've scattered my poetry books onto two other shelves where they gladly mingle with my memoir writing books. 

Then I worked with the books that I haven't read. I created one shelf of them sometime ago, but I made myself drag out the box of books in my closet and add them to the shelves. And now I have two shelves of books I want to read someday and that was after I donated more than a few to the library book sale. I made trips to the donation bin at our library almost every day this past week.

And for my middle of the night meanderings, I emptied my nightstand which has a shelf full of visible books and a door which conceals (you guessed it!) more stacks of books. Many of my books have come from library book sales or were given to me as gifts. I've tried really hard not to purchase new books, but it's a slippery slope. Just yesterday, I phoned my favorite indie bookstore and ordered a book that I need to own since I plan to read and highlight and discuss it with a friend. 

What on earth prompted me to empty the nightstand in the middle of the night? I was in search of a certain book that I borrowed from my brother and will return to his daughter when I travel to Texas at the end of the month. And I found it - Pat Conroy's My Reading Life! My brother and I share a mutual affection for books. I loved opening the book to his embossed book stamp, running my fingers over the KES stamped inside, and knowing that he had lovingly placed it there. Our love of books has been a constant through all the years we shared together.

Here are the results from Saturday's early morning book harvest. If you look very closely, you'll see that the stack on the left (keepers) is just barely lower than the stack on the right (books to donate). I welcome tips from fellow bibliophiles on how to let go. Because for now, holding on and letting go are in a neck-to-neck race.

To savor the magic of story, join our open group of writers
and link your post at Sharing Our Stories.