once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud

 

summering the alphabet

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We’re summering our way through the alphabet again this year.

Not letter by letter in order, of course, that would be far too constricting. However, the structure the alphabet provides is some sort of reminder to get out, go out, find out, and do something with the lovely (and fleeting) days of a New England summer.

In no particular order, we’ve summered the alphabet so far with:

S: strawberry picking

H: hiking

T: tennis, both at home and away (our racquets travel with us)

P: picnics

Some letters fill up quickly, and others are a bit of a challenge.  Last year’s Y: yard sales will likely be this year’s as well since I’ve got a new classroom come fall and find myself in need of several solid bookshelves. It’s okay. Repeats are fine. I impose no rules or restrictions when summering the alphabet, although I usually only document those people, places, and events we meet, visit, and experience together as a couple.

I’d rather not summer solo.

We add the destinations we reach like some sort of alphabetical post card documenting the places we’ve dreamed about visiting throughout the long winter while waiting for summer to come.

E: Ellacoya State Park, Gilford, NH

C: Calef’s Country Store, Barrington, NH

M: Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert, Vermont

Of course, V is for visiting Vermont in all her fine, full-on summer greenery and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. We’ve stayed with our favorite Vermont family at I: Inn at Manchester (which incidentally also appears on our fall and winter alphabets,) and for the first time ever, we’re also summering at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont – which of course means W is all set.

The alphabet’s filling up fast this year … it’s not even July, and we’re almost halfway through. Maybe this summer we’ll experience a letter or two more than once.

And won’t that be fun?

 

 

 

 

hello

I found a penny on the floor this morning. Heads up. 2016. A shiny circle of copper peeking out from under the dryer in the laundry room. Of course I picked it up.  Of course I checked to see if heads were up or tails, as if that one small cent held the fortune to whatever might come next in my life. I may pass it along to someone else in need of a lucky penny, or I may keep it awhile, right here on my desk, evidence that fortune can be found anywhere – even under a dryer.

Hello.

I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed me …. writing to you. The collective you. My vision or version of audience, whoever you may be and however – if ever – you arrive here.

And though I’ve not been writing, please know of the many times I’ve thought about doing so. No explanation for my absence feels adequate or entirely accurate except to say that I’ve been in transition. Neither here, nor there, but somewhere in between, and I’m finally able to slow a bit — enough so as to hear myself think — and write those words down.  I can feel them. Right there. On the tips of my fingers.

Maybe it’s time to begin another hopeful year.

 

bake for good

DSC_0018 (2)There’s nothing more simply satisfying, more homey and wholesome, or more basically beautiful than a loaf of freshly-baked bread.

Unless you bake two loaves – and share one.

When I bake bread, my heart fills in direct proportion to the rise of the dough. I love all the steps: the measuring, the mixing, the kneading, the baking. I love the aroma as the crust browns. I love to cradle the warmth of each loaf as I wrap it in a cotton cloth just out from the oven. I especially love feeding my family.

I’ve written before about the joy and grounding I find when baking. (See Warmth.) I’m not much for cakes, although this is a good one, and I’m family-famous for my chocolate chip cookies, but my new fascination is with baking bread. It’s been a long-standing someday thought, only recently realized come an unexpected snow day off from school.

And it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Time-consuming? Yes. But easy. And so worth the time.

This latest good thing in my life rose even higher, so to speak, this week after an in-school presentation by King Arthur Flour. Based in Norwich, Vermont, King Arthur Flour’s been a baking name to know since 1790 and employee-owned since 2004. With a company focus on connections in the community, the flour company not only maintains a baking school, but several outreach programs designed to “Bake for Good.”

Last week, the students in our school enjoyed King Arthur Flour’s Learn. Bake. Share. program where they learned all the basics of bread baking and the science behind it too. Each student was sent home with a flour-filled canvas tote, a dough scraper, a packet of yeast, a booklet of delicious recipes to try with their families at home … and an invitation: To share what they bake by donating a loaf to a local food bank.

Kids can participate in two ways:

King Arthur representatives visit over 200 schools all over the country every year. In-school presentations can be arranged by visiting here. Self-directed group baking can be arranged by visiting here.

Youth groups of all kinds can participate in Learn. Bake. Share. Anyone can participate and pledge to King Arthur’s Bake for Good. One pledge = one meal donated to Feeding America.  So far, King Arthur’s donated over 41,000 meals to date!

Bake. Enjoy. Give. And rise.

 

 

 

 

looking for light

DSC_0688 (2)It’s been a long, cold winter. The world’s been iced over and slippery.  Mostly gray.  Dark. For a woman who craves warmth and loves the light, this winter mood of mine sometimes feels bleak.

Seasons change, of course, and despite more snow in the forecast, I know winter’s waning and spring’s just ahead.

But it’s hard to get better at something when I dabble at it more than do it, and I’ve spent most of the winter without a camera in hand. Like everyone who tries to balance passion with responsibility, I’ve been riding the time and opportunity merry-go-round.  There’s either one or the other, but never both. I’ve been a little wistful and wishful hoping at each day’s go round for a minute or more in the light with a lense to my eye.

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Yesterday, my husband tucked three bunches of tulips among the bags of groceries he hauled home.

Today was the day.

I played happily for hours, tilting the blooms and tucking the long leaves just so. I fiddled with the camera settings and changed lenses … over and over and over. Never quite satisfied – or still hungry, not sure which – I took over 300 photographs in the changing light by the dining room window.

Off and on: about four hours of creative self-satisfaction.

I don’t mind tossing all but about ten of those three hundred because whatever the outcome, it was process I was after more than product.

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And the light.

This post dedicated to my friend, Jaclyn … on her favorite day of the year!

 

 

 

Miss Maggie’s Pumpkin Biscuits

 

DSC_0376Little Miss Maggie arrived in our lives early this January.

Puppy love.

Indeed.

I’m pretty okay with the fact that my first grandchild is a dog. And I spoil her accordingly ~ especially when her daddy’s not around!

Here’s the recipe for the healthy homemade dog biscuits I make every week for our girl:

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MAGGIE’S PUMPKIN BISCUITS

preheat oven to 300 F

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
  • chopped fresh parsley ~ about two tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • water

Mix together the flour, oats, parsley, dried milk, and salt.

Add the eggs, pumpkin, and peanut butter and mix well. Add water a bit at a time to bring the dough together.

Flour a cutting board and roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick.  Cut with cookie cutter or roll into small ball-shaped treats and flatten with your hand before baking. Keep re-rolling the scraps until you’ve used all the dough.

Bake for about 45-60 minutes until crisp and browned.

Today, I baked eight large dog-bone shaped biscuits and 32 tiny heart-shaped treats for my Miss Maggie. I pulled the tiny hearts out @ 45 minutes and the larger treats at about 60 minutes.

Such an easy way to love the girl who’s brought so much love to me.

in the company of children

 

DSC_0416Hope’s been a little hard to find lately.

Truthfully, I’m not sure where to look most days.

Life’s been a little too.

Too much to process.

Too much to feel.

Too much to cope with.

I am the sum of my emotions, reactions, and responses to what I see, hear, and feel around me. Preoccupied one minute and a bit absent-minded the next. Sometimes articulate and then just as quickly in tears and tongue-tied.  I am a confluence of emotions merging one on another and into the next. I am world wary, poorly sleeping, and fiercely protective – making a focused effort to somehow manage and make right my own corner of a world I find increasingly difficult to live in or understand.

If not hope exactly, there’s some sort of solace found within the four walls of my classroom and in the company of children. Together, we enjoy simple things: a good book, card games, coloring, cookies … laughter. There’s renewal to be found – however fleeting – in the routine of our days and in the discovery of new ways to learn. To understand. To grow.

And there’s gratitude among us for each other.

Just there by the window is a blooming pot of bright, red geraniums: summer’s promise that warmth will one day return, and maybe along with it – some hope.