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.