Friday, December 31, 2010

I hope all your holidays have been filled with momentary -- and lasting -- joys.
As I mentioned a while back, I tend to procrastinate.
So it came to pass that on Christmas Eve, as the sun sank and darkness crept in, I was on our front porch stringing Christmas lights.
To my credit, I had hung the greens and bows many days earlier, so the house looked decked, but only in the daytime. I kept waiting for a semi-balmy day to finish the job, but this December proved a bit stingy with balmy days.
Thanks to detailed instructions my husband engineered a few years ago, stringing the Christmas lights is a pretty straightforward job: Plug in two extensions cords on the left, one on the right. Connect three sets of lights, flip the switch and you're done. 
In theory.
This time around I followed the instructions, plugged everything in and saw … darkness, no rainbow of lights.
I tromped over to the outdoor outlet and checked those button things (known to enlightened others as a ground fault circuit interruptor). 
I pushed the buttons. Several times. 
No lights.
I went back into the house and checked that the outdoor switch was on. It was.
Sigh. I stood perplexed in the dark, and tried to think what the problem could be. Unfortunately there were just too many possibilities: the lights themselves, a plug, an outlet, an extension cord, the switch? My meager electrical knowledge database was … overloaded.
I almost called my husband out to help, but a bit of pride stopped me, along with a little voice that said, "Come on, Cathy. You can do this."
I tromped down the steps once more and tried a last, voodoo-esque move: I unplugged both extension cords and replugged them -- but in the opposite outlet.
Bink! We had Christmas lights! 
I felt downright merry.

Playing with long exposures is fun!
(Our daughter gave me the idea.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The final days of autumn have a tough act to follow.
After the fireworks of summer and fall foliage, these days leading up to winter are far more subdued.
Even among the browns and grays of early December, flashes of color can still be found.
The flash that stops me every time is a purple one: the tiny magenta berries growing in a nearby front yard. (The bush is appropriately named Beautyberry.)
The orange of pumpkins past still survives, perched on doorsteps, or lolling in the (not so green) grass.
Wild grasses bring out their beige at fall's end. Those soft tufts are so beautiful, especially backlit by the sun.
Green, thankfully, is willing to stick around, and I'm not just talking about pine trees. The other day I was surprised by moss, growing at the bottom of a telephone pole.
Winter is almost upon us, and the colors are fading, but the good news is that they never leave us completely. In the gray times, you just have to work a little harder to see them.
Ah, the universe does love her metaphors.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seen in passing: a small host of sparrows, gathering beneath the bumper of a car parked at a nearby Wawa. 
They seemed so tiny, with the tail end of the car looming over their feathered heads. Seemingly oblivious, they hopped and pecked, discovering crumbs left behind by a human. I hoped the driver wouldn't come back before they finished their feast.
Winter's coming, the ground is freezing and worms are hard to come by.
I guess a convenience store isn't just for people.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A memory of last winter.

It's back.
I'm talking about snow season, which apparently doesn't need to wait for winter. For those of us who live near Philadelphia, our first flakes arrived on Thanksgiving morning.
I was out in the yard with our dog when I heard the slight hiss and crackle of frozen rain. I saw a dot of snow in mid-air, but thought, no, that can't be. It's too soon.
I was wrong there. The view from our kitchen window not long after confirmed it: 'Twas snowing -- and hard. As my husband and I looked out into the snow globe, the phone rang. It was my mom, calling from the other side of town, making sure I didn't miss it. (Thanks, Mom.)
We sat at the table and watched the flutters and swirls. My husband especially liked the big, fat flakes, which he said looked like feathers. (I have to give him credit for good imagery.)
Perhaps it's genetic, but I felt compelled to make sure both of our own kids  didn't miss it. In 21st century style, I texted them, and, like good college students everywhere, they were both still asleep. Hey, I tried.
I still remember listening for the school closings on the radio. Years ago they used to read all the names on KYW, though at some point they switched to the number system. (Come on 301, come on 301!)
My mom once put a note on the bathroom door that read something like: Snow day: Go back to bed, you lucky ducks.
Maybe that's why the sight of snow still fills me with happiness. It reminds me of childhood: sledding, making snow angels, climbing mountains left by the plows in the park around the corner, skating on the frozen creek -- and sleeping in on those unexpected days off from school.
Snow can also be a pain: seemingly endless shoveling and scraping; dicey driving; cold, wet mittens and boots; almost frost-bitten fingers.
I don't think about those things when I see those first flakes. I see only pure, clear beauty, and marvel at the wonder of the world. 
'Tis the season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The small, blazing orange hat hugged the head of the little boy walking just ahead of me. He was about half the height of the man beside him -- not yet a yardstick tall.
The boy held to his chest a large rectangle of construction paper. I saw a flash of colorful handprints and thought: nursery school project.
As we all turned the corner and headed toward the grocery store, I said to the boy, "Did you make that?"
He looked up and showed me his creation: a happy-looking turkey with handprint tail feathers and long legs dangling off the page.
"He's taking his turkey for a walk," the dad said with a smile.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

One recent, rather full, day, I squeezed in a trip to the gym. The parking lot was crammed with cars, but I found a spot at the far edge … the better to squeeze in a few extra steps.
  As I started to speed toward the door, my list of later to-dos in my head, I caught sight of two Canada geese, who were in absolutely no hurry at all. Their slow, leisurely waddle through the lot literally brought me to a halt. 
I stood and watched -- and listened. To my left, cars and trucks whooshed through the adjacent industrial park; to my right, turnpike traffic droned and rumbled just beyond the gym. In between this pair of geese meandered down the drive, making their way to the grass beyond the curb with a slow-motion grace.
Their feathers? Quite unruffled.
Honk if you love serendipity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don’t let the name fool you. Forbidden Drive* is a most welcoming place.
    My husband and I joined two friends for a bike trip down the drive on Saturday morning, ending at the Manayunk Diner. (Banana walnut pancakes: the perfect fuel for the return trip.)
    I didn’t bring my camera, but my memory holds the images that will stay:
    * Reaching the top of a ridge, and looking way down at the Wissahickon Creek. Morning mist snaked above the surface, airy white against deep green.
    * Passing the Valley Green Inn, seeing small, round, ghostly tables cloaked in white. (I must still have Halloween on the brain.) On our way back, we passed a wedding party there, which made those ghosts more formal than haunting.
    * Watching a runner approach in the distance. Back-lit by the sun, her ponytail swished and flashed with each stride.
    Forbidden Drive was full of people: walking, running, walking dogs, riding bikes (and one horse). As with my visit to Pennypack Park, I was struck by how easy it was to forget we were still in the city.
    Penn’s Woods are alive and well in Philadelphia.
* Factoid: Forbidden Drive used to be known as Upper Wissahickon Drive. The name change came in the 1920s, when wise powers-that-be banned cars from the road.   

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crawling out of bed before sunrise to take our dog out is not part of my usual routine, but sometimes, it’s necessary.
    That necessity called the other morning, and I stood on our front yard, mostly asleep, in the quiet dark.
    While Louie rustled through leaves, I looked up, and saw no clouds, all silver lining.
    The stars were brilliant, pinprick diamonds dotting the sky. A white sliver of moon hung like a crooked smile.
    Thanks, Lou. I wouldn’t have seen that if it weren’t for you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It did not rain last weekend.
    That may not seem momentous to report, but for those of us who went camping, it was nothing short of miraculous.
    We’ve been camping on the weekend before Halloween for almost 20 years, and for most of those years, we’ve endured at least one day or night of rain, sometimes more. If adversity builds character, our camping character is extremely built.
    Even in the rain, we manage to keep the communal camp fire going, thanks to heartier souls than I who wake up early to stoke the coals and throw on more wood throughout the days and nights.
    It’s a wonderful tradition we’ve shared with a bunch of old friends – and some relatives. Our kids grew up looking forward to this “pre-Halloween weekend,” which includes a costume contest, trick-or-treating through the campsites, and a haunted hayride. This year about 30 of us converged on our usual spot atop the hill at Warwick Woods, not too far from French Creek.   
    Rain or shine, we camp on. (And thanks to my husband’s seam sealing, we’ve always stayed dry in our tents.)
    After one particularly rainy weekend, I came home and – after a long, hot shower – began writing this:

Camping lessons:
    You're never too old to play outside.
    Sometimes it rains; and sometimes it seems the rain will never end.
    Sometimes you want to pack it in and go home.
    Sometimes a hot dog is the perfect food.
    Sometimes you’ll forget to bring important things.
    If you need help, ask.

    Remember to look up at the stars.
    If you surround yourself with good people, you’ll make it through.

This year we got to experience the joy of camping without any of the rainy, dreary parts. It was glorious. There is nothing quite like sitting around a campfire, drink of choice in hand, watching the flames and glowing coals, talking and laughing with people you’ve known for years.
    I was so aware of the sun, the breeze, the light through the trees, the rise of the full moon – the complete lack of rain and mud. It was heavenly, in the truest sense of that word.
    After so many years of rain, we had so earned a clear, bright, sunny weekend.
    I wonder, would we have appreciated that clear, bright beauty as much had we not camped through so much rain and drear before? Is it partly that contrast that makes us understand the blessing of a beautiful day?
    It’s been said, “In all things, give thanks.”
    In which case, I give thanks for the rains past.
    But I give even more thanks for the sun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How do I love leaves? Let me count the ways.
    The way they turn from green to red and orange and yellow and purple and gold. (Goodbye, photosynthesis.)
    The way they carpet lawns and fields with those colors.
    The way they make the wind visible, those small leaf tornados spinning close to the ground.
    The way they hurry across a street when the wind gusts, like little kids racing across a playground.
    The way they spin and float gently to the ground.*
    The way they stand out bold against blacktop, especially after rain leaves the surface shining.
    The way they crunch so satisfyingly underfoot, until the sidewalk resembles the dregs of a cereal box.
    The way they always return in the spring.
*We go camping with a bunch of families every October. One friend used to offer the kids $5 if they could catch a falling leaf with their mouth. Easier said than done.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A dog running full out is a joy to behold.
    I saw that Sunday as I was walking through the neighborhood with Louie, our resident canine. As we approached one corner house, I caught a flash of white fur on the porch, and knew just what was coming next.
    The Shetland sheepdog who lives there – let’s call her Lassie in miniature – came tearing down the steps. She fairly flew toward us, her gorgeously groomed coat flowing back in the breeze. On her face: a doggish smile.
    Louie and this Lassie meet like this regularly, and their routine rarely varies:
    She bounds down to the fence. Tail wagging commences. They touch noses excitedly for a moment or two. She prances back and forth, waiting to see which way we’re headed. Then Louie, like any good gentleman caller, pees on her fence.
    Smooth, Lou. Real smooth.
Dapper Lou

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Sunday, I faced the choice of tackling the foothills of paper on my work table, or taking a bike ride with my husband.
    The bike ride won, though I did have to convince my inner responsible person that those foothills would be climbed … later, when the sun was not beaming and the outdoors were not calling.
    My husband, a bicycling explorer, had been wanting to show me Pennypack Park, an amazing stretch of woods in Northeast Philadelphia. We rode for about an hour, following the meandering trail of the creek, surrounded by greenery. Occasionally we pedaled under a lofty concrete overpass, a reminder of the city beyond.
    The reflections in the water were amazing, and deep. You could get dizzy looking into the landscape mirrored upside down.
    Ken and one of his bicycling buddies had been on the same trail earlier in the morning, and they had spotted an egret along the way.
    Seems the egret liked the territory. As we cruised along the creek, we saw a flash of white: A tall bird waded slowly by the far bank, then froze.
    I thought perhaps the bird knew we were watching, but the real reason for its stillness became plain. In a splash, the egret darted its bill into the water, and shook a meal down its throat.
    Stealth egret.
    I’m glad my inner responsible person gave me the afternoon off.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall is in the air, or should I say the end of summer.
    When I listen to the night air these days, I hear only the chiming of crickets. Breathe in, and I detect the earthy scent of the first fallen leaves.
    September nights – and days – are far quieter than those of August.
    Gone is the buzzing of cicadas, whose huge sound filled the trees all day and into the hottest summer nights.
    Gone is the scratchy, three-note tune of the katydid – a summer lullaby or irritation, depending on your taste. (I’m in the lullaby camp.)
    In the song that is a summer night, the varied singers make their entrances and exits. One August evening I paid attention. As dusk descended, around 8:15, the cicadas were in full voice. Here and there I could hear a cricket chirp, as if warming up.
    By 8:30, the cicadas had exited, and the cricket chorus was front and center.
    The katydids joined in just a bit later, creating the duet I eventually would fall asleep to.
    Summer will leave us next week, and the only singer left these days – and nights – is the cricket. Even his* sound has slowed, as if winding down with the season.
    I will miss the music.
* Fun facts to know and tell: Only male crickets chirp, and his chirping speed drops along with the temperature. There’s even a formula that lets you calculate temperature based on that speed. It’s called Dolbear’s Law, and if you're curious, you can click here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back yards, like children, need their independence. Let them grow as they will (within reason) and the results may surprise you.
    I granted our back yard much independence this summer, “inspired,” in part, by the oppressive heat and humidity we so often slogged through. In return, the yard gave me … serendipity.
    While mowing the back lawn recently, I spotted a beautiful white flower climbing up the garage. I don’t remember seeing it before, and I’m certain I did not plant it.
    I came back with my camera and focused in, enjoying the contrast of delicate blossoms against weathered wood. What I saw next surprised me: a praying mantis perched within, his (?) greens and browns blending perfectly.
    As I looked through the lens again, he turned his insectoid head and looked right back. Whoa.
    Serendipity squared.
P.S. Last Sunday I noticed the same white flower rambling beautifully through the front garden at my church. Thanks to two veteran gardeners who happened to be chatting nearby, I learned the flower's name: clematis.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I am not a morning person. My mom tells me that even as a baby, I slept through the dawn and blissfully beyond. It’s something I’ve never outgrown. Just ask my snooze alarm.
    I think it’s genetic, though I do come from a family of mostly morning people. The only other night owl perched in our family tree is my oldest brother (also a writer). I’m sure one of our Ukrainian ancestors also dreaded the dawn. Considering we come from peasant farmer stock, I feel for him – or her.
    I know the morning has its beauties. Sunrise, for one. I almost never see one of those. (I did set my alarm for sunrise during our shore vacation. Our bedroom had a beautiful beach view. I woke up, watched the sunrise, and immediately went back to sleep.)
    Another, more accessible beauty? Morning glories. Years ago my neighbor planted seeds by the telephone pole that stands between their driveway and our curb.  Every year the flowers return: gorgeous purple blossoms twining their way up the pole. In recent years, they’ve spread, reaching out to and up the Watch Children sign.
    Come summer, those flowers greet me each day when I take our dog out before breakfast. My eyes may be bleary, my brain may be fogged, but those glories of the morning break through.
    They are so aptly named. I timed them today: In full glory at 8, the blossoms were already closing by 10:30, packing up their palette for another day.
    They almost make dealing with morning less difficult.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We still have the small, round table-for-four that stood in our dining room for so many years. It’s in the basement now, but I don’t think I could ever give it away.
    We hitched our kids’ baby seat to that table, its surface bearing countless little nicks made by little hands wielding little spoons and forks. There’s a rough patch where someone peeled away a long-stuck sticker, taking with it slivers of wood veneer. If you look even closer, you can see indentations of handwriting from homework papers past. That table holds history.
    Through grade school, and as much as possible through high school, the four of us ate dinner together. Now, with our son living in Philadelphia and our daughter home from college for just this month, dinner for four is no longer a given, it’s a gift.
    We gave ourselves that gift last night, meeting at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Northern Liberties.
    We sat at a different small, round table, right next to the wide open windows overlooking the sidewalk. The breeze was nice. The food and service were great.
    The company? Truly treasured.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

 After decades of relying on my feet and my car, I’ve recently added a bike to my list of transport options.
    To ease my way back into bicycle mode, my veteran two-wheeler husband suggested we tool around the neighborhood together, where traffic is light.
    We headed out on a hot, muggy Sunday, and I discovered that riding a bicycle is like, well, riding a bicycle – once you start pedaling, it all comes back to you.   
    One of my mantras is “I have no need for speed.” (I’ve been lapped by my kids on those mini go-kart tracks.) So when we reached the top of a long hill a few blocks from home, I anticipated braking all the way down.
    Instead, I gave in, just a little, to the demons of speed.
    There’s nothing like a bike when it comes to creating your own breeze.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pulling up behind an SUV today, I see a flash of yellow outside the right-rear passenger window. The yellow waves up and down, and I can’t make out what it is. As we stop at the light, I see that whatever-it-is is attached to a white stick.
    Whack, whack whack: The stick smacks against the window frame; the flash of yellow jerks up and down. The SUV heads left, the yellow flash turns – and then spins in the wind.
    Ah! A pinwheel!
    I suspect the small hand wielding it has just learned a lesson in planetary forces.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Morning joy: Yesterday, walking to the coffee shop, I pass under an evergreen. Leftover raindrops hang from pine needles and hedge leaves, tiny mirror balls glinting in the sun.
    The visit to the coffee shop was more than a momentary joy. For years, a group of moms has been meeting at Keswick Coffee on the first and last days of school. The last-day-of-school gathering didn’t quite come together this year, and one friend decided she didn’t want to wait until September, suggesting a Bastille Day celebration instead. Bonne idee! (Thank you, web translator.)
    We commandeered two tables and five chairs on the sidewalk outside the shop. The circle shifted through the morning: As one left for work, another came to take her place. Coffee, tea and conversation flowed.
     The perfect way to start the day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If you live on the East Coast, you may have noticed the temperature climbing of late. Indeed, when I got in my car after work on Tuesday, the thermometer on the dash read 109 degrees. Toasty.
    Walking to my car after work this afternoon, I felt something I haven’t felt in the longest time: a raindrop … then another, and another, and another. Really, truly, absolutely, it was raining.
    And it was glorious – brief, but glorious.
    So often when we get caught in the rain, we hurry for shelter or quickly open the umbrella. Not today. I consciously slowed my pace, and savored each cooling drop.
    Within 15 minutes, even before I got home, the rain had disappeared, and the sun had come back out in force.
    We’re not out of the sauna yet, but there’s hope.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

After a couple weeks in the sauna that is summer in Philadelphia, I walked out this morning to bliss: blue skies, 70 degrees and no humidity to speak of (and believe me, around here we speak of the humidity often … in not the most pleasant of terms).
    I tend not to read or watch the weather forecast, so I had no idea this beautiful day was on its way, and I have no idea how long this gift will be with us.
    I’m heading out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A favorite summer sight: 
Evening, backyard, lightning bugs rising like bubbles in a champagne glass.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I’d be the first to admit I’m a procrastinator. (Well, I would, but since I procrastinate, I probably should take that back.)
        Today, at long last, I stowed the snow shovels in the garage, where they will hibernate until the next time they're needed.
    Those shovels got quite a workout last winter. I let them rest on the front porch for most of the spring, but recently moved them to the front of our barn of a garage. There they stood, catching rays, until today.
    I must admit it was high time to finish the job: At 7:28 a.m. today, summer officially arrived. 

     Stay cool.


Driving along on Father's Day, I caught the credits for "Weekend Edition Sunday" on 91-FM, my local public radio station. (Give today!)
    Instead of the usual rundown of producers, editors, etc., I heard this, with the voice changing at each new name:
    "This is NPR's Weekend Edition ... directed by Robert Wharton's son Ned, and produced by ... Jim Kenin's daughter Justine, ... Dave Breslow's son Peter ... Kimberly Adams, daughter of Albert Adams Jr. ..." On the list went, 19 names in all, ending with the host saying, "And I'm Edwin S. Hansen's daughter, Liane."
    I teared up, listening; in those various voices you could hear affection, pride, humor, love.
    Later that day I got to be with my dad at a wonderful dinner, cooked by my mom in the house where I grew up.
    I know how lucky that makes me.
    Today, I'll sign off as Joe Slobodzian's fourth (and final) kid, Cathy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It’s a wonderful thing, the more you look for joy, the more you find it … sometimes literally. A dear friend, artist and inspiration was one of the first people I told about this blog project. A couple of days later, during one of our regular walks through the neighborhood, she showed me a piece of paper that had fluttered to the floor in her home. It read simply: “pure joy.” She had no idea where it came from, but she thought I should have it. I keep it by my computer as a reminder. Thank you.

Then tonight, my 97-year-old dance teacher (yes, you read that right), used joy as the theme for our improvisation. After we stretched out on the floor, she told us to think of something that had troubled us during the week, and then to let it go. Next, she said, think of something good that had happened, and hold onto that. Now move, she said, with joy – and gratitude. She turned up the music and let us loose.

What a beautiful way to end the day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Is there anything more heavenly than the smell of chocolate chip banana bread baking in the oven? (If there is, please send me the recipe.) 
Thank you to the late, great James Beard, who wrote “Beard on Bread,” a cookbook my husband brought into our marriage 25 years ago, and one that contains two wonderful banana bread recipes.
Beard's instructions  don’t mention chocolate chips; that’s my idea. I confess I'll add chocolate chips to just about anything.
Chocolate: It’s the staff of life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Normally, I’m not a big fan of clowns, but the other day a literal clown car zipped by, and I couldn’t help but smile.
    It was one of those small boxy cars, cute in and of itself. The grill, though, sported two extras: a small, round, red balloon for the Bozo nose and a looooonnng red one for the smile below.
    One driver’s peaceful weapon against road rage.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mow-mentary joy: Awhile back we switched to an electric lawn mower. Tired of the noise and pollution of a gas mower, we tried a year or so with a push-mower. While I appreciated the upper-body workout, mowing manually took a bit too much time. We opted for electric as a compromise.
    At first I thought wrestling with the cord would be a hassle, but I’ve learned to deal with it. Hey, it’s just like vacuuming, but outside, with a 95-foot cord.
    I was tackling the back yard the other day, and on one turnaround I gave the cord a toss. Whoa. The orange line flowed away from my hand in this beautiful, slow-motion wave, ending with a quiet plop near the maple tree.
     I must have been channeling my inner cowgirl.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tonight I moved from sunlight to candlelight, to moonlight.
    Around 7, I walked up to my church for the monthly Taize Prayer. Inspired by the monastic community in Taize, France, the service combines silence, chants and prayers, with an emphasis on silence.
    As sunlight faded, the sanctuary glowed, with dozens of candles cascading down the steps of the altar. It’s a sight to behold – and an hour of light and peace.
    Afterward, heading back down the hill, I saw the moon high overhead. The sky still held onto light from the day, but trees stood in inky black silhouette. The dark waited in the wings.
    Before I reached home, one more kind of light caught my eye. Tiny, fleeting and yellow-white, flashing about three feet from the ground: my first firefly of the season.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On the boardwalk in Ocean City, sitting behind a family of four. Mom, Dad, two little girls ... uh, make that three. A baby’s head has popped up on her mother’s shoulder, smiling away. Her biggest sister eagerly introduces the whole clan. I watch and remember as they deftly juggle children and ice cream cones, never a simple maneuver.
    My husband joins me on the bench, and we reminisce about boardwalk visits (long) past: our daughter, maybe 4 years old, her little face and long brown hair spattered with soft-serve chocolate,  a casualty of strong winds. Years earlier, our son, maybe 3, heading down the ramp to the beach, ice cream in hand … and then, in a blink, ice cream on the wooden planks, melting away.
    No such tragedy befell the girls in front of us.
    We talk with the young family for a bit, mentioning our children, now both in college, how we’re down the shore for our 25th anniversary, just the two of us for the weekend.
    The dad of three smiled and said, “That’s why you look so relaxed.”
    Yes, there are perks to getting older.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seen in passing …
A girl, maybe 14, walking slowly toward school. She is tall, oh so obviously taller than most of the girls in her class, possibly most of the boys as well. She moves in a slow-motion lope, shoulders slightly slumped, head slightly dipped down.
And on her larger than average feet? Bright, neon pink sneakers.
Those sneakers are a beacon,  a contradiction, a counterpoint to any effort to diminish herself. Her beaming pink shoes fairly shouted: “Look at me! I’m here.”
Gangly angles, with a core of grace.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mom-ish joy:
Hanging up clean towels and putting fresh sheets
on our daughter's bed.
Our "baby" is coming home from college.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recipe for momentary joy

1 lousy cold (the cloud in this silver lining)
1 pot of chicken soup (old family recipe), simmering
1 comfy chair
1 blanket
1 cat, in lap

Relax in chair. Pull blanket up close. Wait for cat to settle. Close your eyes. Inhale (as best you can).

Repeat as needed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Mother's Day, my parting words to Mom:
"Thanks for having me!"
"My pleasure," she replied.
Blessing counted.

One of my favorite things to watch is invisible.
I’m talking about the wind, that magical force that moves, swirls and hurls things according to its breezy will.
After work yesterday, I took a hike with a friend through the Pennypack Preserve.
While we were winding through a mass of wildflowers, the wind picked up, and I looked up. The treetops were dancing, thrashing, bending, leaves upturned and shimmering in the sun. All accompanied by a windy voice that lies somewhere between a whoosh and a hiss (a sister of the sound waves make when they crash and fade at the shore).
A bit farther down the trail, a small but startling maple branch plopped down right in front of us.
Don’t turn your back on Nature … she’s full of surprises.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What was lost has been found. Hallelujah!
I just found my reading glasses, which have been among the missing for about three weeks. (They’re prescription, so I couldn’t just pop into CVS and get a new pair.)
I spend much of my life with a short list running in my head of things that are missing. Perennial favorites: keys, cell phone, glasses (driving), glasses (sun), glasses (reading).
I recently hung a basket that I use as a “control center” of sorts, a central location for all things easily losable. It works … sometimes.
My eyes have been missing those reading glasses, so I started the hunt anew when I got home from work today. Something told me I would find them (though that something didn’t specify where).
I headed to the laundry room and decided to re-rifle the pile of stuff that has been sitting on the dryer. (Yes, I had rifled through it already, but you never know.)
Lo and behold, eureka and all that. I picked up an old tiger beach towel and the glasses appeared, in all their cool blue glory.
My eyes are happy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My irises are blooming.
They're also my mother's irises, transplanted from "the homestead," a gift from their house to our house.
I guess you could call them grand-irises.
They rise up each spring next to the grand-lilac, also a transplant from my parents' back yard.
Those lilacs have just faded. Now irises take their purple place.
I love their fleeting beauty.