oh! darn!

The wool socks were a gift. Probably decades ago by now. I honestly don’t remember the occasion. Just the feeling of receiving them.

A humble pair of socks reminded me I was loved.

Tugging them over my feet on a cold day last month, I noticed a hole in one heel.

A shame, I thought. They’re too worn to wear. Care worn.

Oh! Darn!

The wabi-sabi of textiles.

Save what’s useful. Mend a simple something that’s good and right and true and personal. Tend love.

Save.

Mend.

Tend.

Appreciation for darning guidance found in: make thrift mend by Katrina Rodabaugh

here is my day

Here is my day.

What will I do with it? What attitudes and expectations will I bring to it? What goals, dreams, or ambitions do I have for it?

Or, shall I simply live it?

Come what may.

Life’s complexities are often of my own making – or perhaps my own participation. It’s likely, life’s simplicities can be mine as well.

Here in this day, may I be mindful of simple living. The choice of simple living.

What does this simple living look like? How will I know when I’m living it?

Maybe it’s in the noticing and then the appreciation.

Appreciating the burst of black crows against a blue sky. The prayer of a pair of leaves roadside. The ability to hoist my own socks after a debilitating few weeks of back pain. The first few flakes of snow adrift on a breezy afternoon.

A year’s worth of accumulated hope.

So is simple living walking one step at a time on the day’s path? Expecting nothing but noting everything? Delighting in each minute’s arrival and feeling grateful as it departs? In the moment, of the moment, and most especially . . . author of the moment.

How grand to watch the sun travel across the sky, taking great pleasure in the simplicity of being here to see it.

How glorious to greet the first star as night falls, grateful for living today and wishing on that star for a simple tomorrow.

reminders

Pen on notebook. Notebook under keys. Medication next to the sink, next to the soap I use to wash my face every night. (If I remember. Which I do. Now that my medication is alongside.) Moisturizer at home atop the dresser from which I pull my clothes every morning. A list of daily important-to-mes tucked nearby as I ready my face to greet the day. Just this morning, I dropped a single tissue on the stair landing so I’d remember to add tissues to the grocery list.

Whatever it takes. However to manage in this life full of never-ending and persistent distractions.

More than ever before, our home is organized, room by room, item by item, so each possession has a home, a place where I’ll know exactly where to find it time and again without a hunt and seek. Take it out. Put it back in the same place, over and over and over. And I’ve weeded our things. Fewer possessions to manage. If it doesn’t meet a purpose – function, beauty, meaning, memory – and won’t in the future, out it goes. I store like with like. I’ll find what’s needed where it’s most often used. Clear surfaces calm me, freeing my thought paths to help me remember whatever it is I almost forgot.

These days, I find hope – and comfort too – in the familiar, the known, and routine.

So, I set reminders. Reminders to do what’s good for me: a water glass next to the fridge. Reminders to meet responsibilities: a timecard left on my computer. Reminders for function: glasses on my book, lunchbox in front of the door, masks in the car. I own many too many notebooks – an organizational problem I’m helpless to overcome. Still, I love to list. And list. And list. There’s remembering in the writing.

I’ve even texted myself on occasions when I absolutely must remember to do something and don’t entirely trust myself to remember to do it. What about you? String on your finger? List on the fridge? Timer on the stove? My husband used an elastic band on his wrist. What’s sensible for me, might not be at all practical for someone else. I think I feel most successful when I find my own solutions.

If I’m to have any hope of managing all that’s on my mind and in my heart, strategies are necessary. If I’m ever to keep myself whole in an increasingly fractured world, I’ll need to remember – somewhere way down deep inside me – just what being whole feels like.

collective nouns (of summer)

a snip of zinnias

a straggle of petunias

a cheer of sunflowers

a wonder of days

a sweat of nights

a hum of fans

a goosebump of air conditioning

a drip of cones

a slurp of popsicles

a sizzle of cookouts

an aura of fireflies

a glee of children

a boom of thunderstorms

an anticipation of farmers

a plethora of zucchini

a nest of tomatoes

a clutch of green beans

a delight of peaches

a fantasy of corn on the cob

a harvest of gratitude

notice

At the top of a morning, I notice the energy of possibility. Hope, wide awake and willing, greets the day face-forward. Counting on roadside petals, life loves me and I love it right back. How fairy-taled the deep green velvet of a moss-covered path. How gladly sunlight dances with daisies and trumpets daylilies. How fun to chick-a-dee-dee-dee with chickadees and honk with geese flying over the lake. How gently the fog lifts as the day warms. How delicate a thread of web stretches from flower to flower to flower, a tell-tale trail of one spider’s travels. I marvel at the intricacy of a gravel road, two miles into my day. And returning, notice now how I feel right this very minute, tip-tapping on keys. Happy.

good day to you, February

Good day to you, February!

I welcome you to the comfort of my kitchen. I’m warming the oven – and myself – after a long, dark, cold January. I’m baking today. Seven cabinet doors flung wide from the gathering of ingredients and tools and bowls. Evidence I was here. Cookie dough spins in the mixer and the sun just arrived … at 6:58 … same time as last year on this day. (I checked.)

I smile to think of who I am this February compared to last. At 6:58 or any other time. And then I think, how nice it is to smile about such as that, about me as I am. Yes, February, I’ve added the right ingredients: plenty of rest, drinking my water, moving my body, reading lovely books, loving my people as best I can, and of course, hope.

Hope was a little harder to find last February. Maybe sometimes hope is tucked away in the back of the cabinet, behind the molasses, just waiting for me to pull it out, dust it off, and share it with others. Hope, like the cookies I’m baking today, is meant to be shared. And February, you with your earlier sunrises and later sunsets – give hope. Just when we need it most, I think.

So today I’ll be sharing cookies, February. And if you’d be so kind, please share some hope. In your month of love, remind me to love my neighbors, to offer warmth, to welcome … and accept … everyone. 

Open my heart wide, February. 

French Love Cakes

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped, roasted pecans

Sifted powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup)

In large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Stir in flour and pecans until combined. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 325 ° oven 20 to 23 minutes until golden. Remove from sheet to cooling rack over parchment paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 30.

-adapted from Country Home Magazine, February 1999

small celebrations

Thirty-six hours at home. One hot shower and one warm bath on a extremely cold day. Twenty-eight tidy, white stitches cast on Nana’s knitting needles (with any luck, mittens-to-be for a pair of toddler hands.) Five hardy Red Star chickens in the coop out back. A cluster of six red tulips plucked from a grocery store bucket. Two pieces of homemade pizza for dinner. One rainbow shirt and a wish granted. Two days until the full Wolf moon. Eighteen additional minutes of daylight since the New Year. The hope of a 27 degree heat wave tomorrow.

spine poetry

Browse your bookshelves. Listen. Pull what speaks to you. Arrange in a pleasing pile. Word by word. Title by title. Rearrange until you discover you in a stack of books. A bit of inspiration. A trove of delight. Hope culled from the books you’ve loved and lived with. Read top to bottom – or bottom to top. Write on your heart.

a year of weeks

365 days of wonder

chasing slow

daring greatly

becoming

joyful

simply living well

  • My thanks for today’s poem and life inspiration to Erica Root, R.J. Palacio, Erin Loechner, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Ingrid Fetell Lee, and Julia Watkins.

come, november

Come, November.  You with your winds and rains. Your passions and gratitudes. Your brisk walks and sparkle-frosted mornings. Come, November. We’ll warm up with your soups and stews, breads and blankets. We’ll be mesmerized by your achingly clear midnight skies pierced for a moment by your stars and the sharp slice of your moon. Come, November. You with your chill and stark sticks. Your reluctant light and bare-boned trees. You, all gray-skied and maybe misunderstood. Come, November. We’ll walk together, thankful and daring, making our way toward winter. We’ll travel by candlelight, firelight, and lamplight. Side-by-side, step-by-step. Disregarding the forecast and choosing instead to count our blessings, knowing nothing is ever as bleak as wasting a single day. Come, November. Let’s gather ‘round your table and be nourished in your company. Hopeful, happy, and home.

gathering

outside

lift nose to breeze, face to sun

rustle leaves, greet squirrels, bid fare-thee-well to geese

feel grateful, feel open wide, feel hopeful and free

think: this is what glorious feels like

collect treasures, nature’s loose parts

colors, textures, leaves, nuts and needles, berries and branches

tuck pleasures into pockets

walk home

outside smells follow inside

pink cheeks, fresh-air ruffled hair

empty pockets

admire wealth spread across a tabletop

acknowledge time and its impermanence

arrange the bounty, the beauty

partner colors, plop berries just so, fan pine needles, nestle nuts

please the eye, pleasure the soul

focus the camera

freeze time and memory

of gathering fall one October morning