A Few of My Favorite Things


There’s something to be said about downsizing. Purging through all worldly goods in order to make room for a smaller space. Not long ago, I went through it, and although not easy, it actually felt good in the end. If I didn’t absolutely love something or need it, PLOP, it was dropped into one of three boxes: selldonate or garbage.

This morning, I sipped a warm café latte from a painted cup of cream decorated in dusty roses woven in stems with muted green leaves. A matching bread plate sat in front of me holding a freshly toasted English muffin that called my name. “Come closer…nibble away….” Nearby, a shiny teaspoon of silver rested upon the cup’s saucer, while a butter knife in a flowered pattern of the same shined in rays of early morning sun.

The dishes were my mother’s, passed down to me after she died nearly six years ago. Afterward, I proudly displayed them in a packed china cabinet where they were used only once or twice a year during the holiday seasons. The silver was a wedding gift, over thirty years ago. I’ve used it perhaps twice a year, again, during the holidays.

In sorting through my life, I found a few of my favorite things simply put away, or saved… having chosen other items to use in their place. Why? What was I saving them for? When was the right time, if not now? Prior to my move, an estate sale was held where everything imaginable was sold, except a few of my favorite things…those that I had been saving. Downsizing opened my eyes to using and enjoying my favorite things. No longer do I save them for someday in the future that may never come to be.

Now in my smaller home, I use my mother’s dishes each and every day, including my wedding gift of good silverware. I’m creating new memories while bringing back some of the old. My mother’s dishes will forever trigger warm and loving thoughts of food and family around her Arizona table of solid oak. One day, my grand-babies will learn about their great-grandmother, of how much she would have loved them, and about the dishes they are spooning from. And too, about the very spoons themselves, those that are now clutched in chubby hands while dropping green peas or dribbling applesauce down wee chins.

Yes, there’s something to be said about downsizing. Use and enjoy your favorite things today, don’t save them for tomorrow.

 

moms-dishes

Through The Lens of a Child


A reminiscent post that gave my heart a smile today…..

Each and every day and usually more than once, I drive past a lovely Equestrian Center very close to my home. It’s a beautiful place where horses of all breeds are boarded, competitions are held and lessons are taught, trail rides are given, and a bit of magic happens…..

On any given day, behind white split-rail fencing in flat, muddy fields I’ll see mares munching on bales of hay, stallions kept at bay, geldings trotting close enough to take a look, and if I’m very, very lucky, a mama nursing her baby foal on spindly legs or a dewy colt newly born.

This past summer on a still afternoon, my husband and I pulled into the dusty parking lot of the above with our little grand-daughter who squealed with delight. Clouds of brown welcomed our car with poofs of air the color of smoke. A wooden porch of sun-bleached planks greeted us before we checked in. Sitting on the plain pine bench, I almost expected a prickly tumbleweed to roll by!

The smell of open barns drifted my way, drawing me in. My grand-daughter’s small of hand clasped my own, looking up to me. Her eyes of saucer blue together with a smile that melts my heart-so-much stopped me in my tracks. We went on to visit countless stalls of fresh cream-colored straw, most with horses living in them. Others were out, taking a break. Everything was ‘new’ to her, a story waiting, words to say, more magic happening…..

Wafting through the first barn was the musty scent of sweaty twine together with horse manure from nearby fields of munched on grass and weeds.  Click-Click…sounds of fancy cowboy boots tapping on the pitted cement floor while silver spurs passed right in front of us. So close we could almost touch them! Shiny silver with sparkling jewels together with little stars twinkling from them! On the wall to the left, a long row of black helmets hung from dark brass hooks. “But, why…,” she asked. Always a question, forever an answer. “To keep you safe,” I explained.

“I want to see the horses, Grandpa,” our grand-daughter exclaimed, jumping up and down! My husband lifted her with both hands, propping her up on his shoulders to get a better view over the fence-line. Gorgeous, smooth, soft-to-the-touch heads in solids and spots sprung from their lunch breaks to check us out. Pointed ears in brown, black or tan tapered just so, in curiosity. Long, wiry hair of swishing tails swinging back and forth. Sooo pretty!

Thinking it might be time to go, we moved towards the car. “Where are the ponies,” came tiny words from little, ‘Moppet Head.’  My husband and I held her hands to walk several blocks to the last and final barn.  Home to all of the ponies. There she hung on the rail, eye-level to ‘horses’ more her size. She whispered close to their ears, named each and every one and visited their stalls, before blowing imaginary kisses to say, “Good-Bye.”

After all my time in living here, it took a child’s innocence for me to see the magic in a place I’ve barely glimpsed before. How much MORE of life is there to live, if only I could look through the lens of a child?

 

 

A Room With The Perfect View


http://www.mowildlife.org/

It’s early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my Doodle dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or snuck a nap before the kids awakened me.

Under the covered patio sat a natural rattan chair next to a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were, the beige of the chair next to the radiant red of blazing flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. Building a nest, I surmised. What to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would their featherless babies be born?

Motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to continue. Before long, I tip-toed to the nest nearly every day, discovering yet another egg of robin blue safe within its refuge of brown twigs, twine, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both Mother and Father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift bald heads or stretch wrinkled necks. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm.

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side! Nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them often, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even coddled soft feathers with a tip of my finger after their mother flew away. The Wildlife Rescue Center had told me it’s a “Myth” that birds can smell. I brought them no harm and was careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the growing balls of feathered fluff. They were miracles to me, teaching me wonders never found in a book.

Eventually, the day came when Mother Bird taught her babies how to fly and leave their nest. I saw them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view. One by one, each feathered friend stepped on the edge of my geranium plant, using it as a perch. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun, in winds that only God can kiss, they fought to stay in the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like miniature biscuit colored balloons. Up, up, up into the sky. Squinting, I saw patches of orange-red breasts flying toward heaven. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of red flowers and yellow leaves, I saw one last little bird perched, afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, wanting him to stay, yet knowing he too, must leave the nest. In the distance, his family called to him. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, he flapped his wings fast and hard, jumping off into the unknown while I cried my eyes out.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again to have a room with the perfect view…..

 

*Photography courtesy of Google Chrome

Not Always What They Seem


The other day an elderly couple was out in the cold, standing near the curb near the exit of a supermarket with bags in their hands. Three or four, plastic and filled to the brim. I surmised the couple was waiting for a ride home. She with milky watchful eyes, strands of gray hair that swirled around her weathered face and hands that were turning blue.  He, older and protective, hovering close. He tightened his reign on her and lightened her load, taking the handles of one of the bags. They were tangled for a few seconds between the others until finally, two of them broke free. The younger-elderly woman smiled upwards. A look of love warmed the milk in her eyes. The man began to shield her silhouette from the wind. A mere step or two to the right blocked his mate from the elements. Soon, the tips of his ears turned red as a beet.

Cars went by the aging couple who waited in the blustery gusts that whirled around them. Colors and models of old and new and even trucks too drove slowly by them. The watchful woman together with the man who held more bags than ever before looked intently toward each and every one. Finally, a vehicle pulled over to the side. The couple smiled at one another. Then a girl from inside the supermarket quickly ran out to hop in. The car drove off.  Smiles of the golden age disappeared. Cold persevered.

Suddenly a boy with an orange vest pushed by several people as he pulled a string of shopping carts behind him.  He stopped to grumble a few words at the elderly couple, convincing them to move to the side in order for him to easily pass by. They started to shuffle their feet from side to side while grimacing in pain. Their bodies of old were no match for Mother Nature.

A few minutes later, a woman from the supermarket, wearing a uniform in burgundy red joined the twosome. Gently putting her arms around them, she took their bags and encouraged the couple to wait in the lobby.  There, a warm wooden bench could be seen through the walls of clear.

Soon, a taxi drove in front of the supermarket. Two employees walked the elderly man and his bride out to the car where they opened the door to help them get inside. The bags of groceries were put on the front seat while a note together with a few bills was pushed into the palm of the driver’s hand. Slowly the taxi pulled away, turning towards a neighborhood to the left.

It is ironic that things are not always what they seem. Who would have expected the boy in the orange vest, the one pushing carts to be of help to the old couple? Yet, obviously, he alerted his supervisor who assessed the situation. She took it a step further by telling her manager.  Did they gather more information from the couple themselves or perhaps find a number to call inside one of their shabby pockets? Regardless, I expect the loving and elderly couple ended up safe and warm before cooking a delicious dinner for two!

elderly-couple-holds-hands-London-384684

My Happy Place


*My Happy Place, visited often and again early this morning.  A post worth repeating filled with life lessons….

There is a familiar spot here in great St. Louis, where people flop inside or outside, leaving their troubles behind for another time.  Actually, this hang-out is located in a toy town called Kirkwood, about ten miles from the chocolate color of my dusty garage door.

When summer begins to wane the weather is perfect, like this time of year.  Today, barely a soul of young or old can be found inside the multiple front doors of the welcoming café.  Instead, eagle eyes scan the outdoor crowd, looking for any sign of movement in case an imaginary “Vacancy” sign pops up.  Deep breaths are taken.  Fresh air is inhaled while lungs expand.  Ahhh, relaxation begins!

It is here that a new discovery is made each and every time I visit.  Who would think that a simple, nondescript patio made of concrete cement would have such an impact on my life?  And, yet it does.  This is my Happy Place.  A corner of wired tables in black with matching chairs on top of grey.  Wait…take a seat, sit down to rest your feet.  Shhh, watch and listen.  This is a haven full of people who are living in the moment.

Do you see what I see?  There are mothers pushing strollers, babes in arms, Daddies giving horsy-rides and coffee cups made of china white.  Children riding scooters, chocolate milk clutched in little hands, bikers, joggers, bunnies in wagons and toasted bagels laden with cream cheese.  Kisses on cheeks, grandparents carrying toddlers, and dogs-of-all-kinds. Pacifiers in pink or blue, books being read and luxury leashes made of leather.  Working laptops, baked banana bread so good, couples on first dates, I-phones, singles and fountains splish-splashing.  Love is in the air, walkers, bottles filled with water, smiles, secrets and even bellies-SO BIG!

My husband clasps my hand to find me the best seat.  He pulls out my chair before inquiring what I’d like to sip and eat.  “A vanilla cappuccino,” he asks, expecting a “Y.E.S.” Next, his words so sweet, “A cinnamon roll warmed for you?”  He is the very best man and I am the luckiest of women.  Soon he comes back with my treats.

While nibbling, I stop to “people watch,” snap a few pictures, and meet new friends.  The sun feels warm to my skin, pinking my cheeks.  Next to me, I meet the cutest Labradoodle who excitedly poses for me.  And then, a “Hallmark” moment begins.

A few feet away, the sweetest girl of young reaches up and over on tippy-toes to kiss her loved one so dear.  She has long and lovely dark hair, wears shorts and seems to surprise the woman who is older than she.  My heart skips a beat.

Seconds go by.  The freshly kissed woman passes our table.  My husband smiles, pointing to our phone.  “Look,” he says, stopping her.  A gentle grin, big and wide slides over pretty, white teeth.  She is touched by what she sees, going on to tell us a bit about her lovely grand-daughter.

Looking across at her table, she notices more seats taken.  Chairs pulled out.  Tennis shoes underneath.  This time by her husband together with a darling, young grand-son wearing metal and leather braces strapped to thin legs.  Briefly, we talk about Chronic Conditions.  “He was born with club feet,” she says, speaking of her other darling one.  “He’s already had several surgeries,” she adds, “with more to come.”  She speaks matter-of-factly, with no hint of ‘woe-is-me‘ in her voice when she glances over at her loved ones.

There is no doubt, no question in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be.   Right now, right here at this moment in time.  A new Life Lesson for me today.  How special it is to have and hold this “Hallmark” tip-toed kiss upon a grandmother’s lips!  From an innocent grand-daughter to her loving grandmother.  A story of life trials chock full of smiles on this very morning.  Lucky for me.

No matter how brief, this will forever be “My Happy Place.”

A Room With the Perfect View


It’s so early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my ‘Doodle’ dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or sneaked a nap before my children awakened me.

Hung from the ceiling, near a natural rattan chair, was a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were; the boring beige of the chair next to the radiant red of the beautiful, colored flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. They were building a nest, I surmised. What was I to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would future feathered babies be born?

My own motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to build their nest. Before long, I’d tip-toe to the nest nearly every day, where yet another egg of robin blue lay perfectly within its refuge of brown twine, twigs, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squealing and squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both mother and father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift wrinkled necks and bald heads. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm. Day after day, I grew enthralled by all of this. Yes, my plant of beautiful red geraniums was dying, but look at what I was living and learning!

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side because nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even pet their soft feathers with a whisper of a tipped finger while their mother was away. Before doing so, I called the Wildlife Rescue Center who told me it was a “Myth” that birds can smell. I was bringing them no harm and careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the fluffy, feathered balls. They were miracles to me, teaching me something new in ways one can never learn from a book.

Naturally, the day comes when a mother bird teaches her babies to fly, to leave the nest.  I could see them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view…plus an added tear or two. One by one, each feathered friend stepped to the perched ledge of my geranium plant. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun in winds that only God can kiss, they lifted into the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like little beige balloons. Up, up, up into the sky.  I squinted high above against the sun to see patches of orange-red. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of my geranium plant, there at the edge of the ledge was a last little bird afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, knowing in my heart that he too, must leave the nest. Off in the distance, his family called to him. They were not far, just a few feet away. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, the last little bird took the plunge. First down before up, until he soared off into the sky to meet his mother and father, sisters and brothers while I cried at my babies leaving the nest.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again that I’d have a room with the perfect view…..