To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Of many blessings.

Wednesday was a birthday, for my youngest son. He's full of life and a little bit crazy in a spontaneous, adventurous, curious sort of way. I love that about him. I don't think I've ever heard him say he was bored, there's just too much fun to be had in his life. One particular moment that stands out for me is the time he came home with a broken arm. I'm a mom, of course I want to know how it happened. Seems he had the brilliant notion to see if his buddies could launch him off the end of a trailer like a catapult. He stood on one end while his buddies jumped on the other. Yep, it worked...he sailed high into the air...hovered...and then came crashing down...aaand broke his arm. I admit, I laughed, that is so him.

For this birthday, he asked for something handmade by me. Uh, okay, let me think on this. It's tough to make handmade for men so I had to think real hard, but then it came to me. For all his life he's been a collector of treasures, whether it be sticks or rocks or key chains or Jones soda bottles. He's got buckets and bags and boxes of treasures, but one collection that continues to grow is the rocks or, more specifically, the agates we collect in Grand Marais. It's a family tradition that began when Kyle was just a babe, barely able to walk, and every summer we would camp with his grandmother on the shore of Lake Superior. She loved collecting agates and he caught the rock hunting bug from her. I thought he should have something cool (just like him) to hold this treasure.

Happy birthday darling. I want a bag like this too.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Mornings. They are written just for me, I know it.
My time. Free time.
Down Time. All about me time.

Mornings call to me, beckon me to slip from the warmth of my bed, toes resting on cool wood floors, shivers run through my body. I’ve learned the luxury of wool socks on cool mornings. Bliss. To the kitchen to start coffee, watch out for the cat. Silly thing, at 16 you would think he would know better than to run under my feet. He’s excited. He likes mornings too. He thinks they’re all about him. Silly boy.

Mornings feed my soul; refresh it. They are my sacred time. Having never been one who hits the ground running, I ease into my mornings. A cup of coffee, sometimes quiet music, but most times, not, just the morning and me, waking slowly, moving slower. I sit...and think....and dream. I am.

Mornings. To me, each morning is like a clean slate or a fresh sheet of paper, full of potential and opportunity. I can make something new and exciting happen today or I can build on the wonder and excitement of mornings past. I can, and if I don’t like how my yesterday went, that’s okay because now, this very moment, begins a brand new morning. A fresh start where I can make my life exactly as I want it to be. Mornings are like that, full of promise and hope for the new day to come. They are all about me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finding joy and peace.

This past weekend: I had journal work to do + Miss M was staying with me = JOY!

She's not one to be left out of projects, especially when they involve paint and messes and no rules.

This gives me an idea for a journal page. I love the combination of green and red with a smattering of yellow mixed in.
See? No rules.
Our tools for the day.

Last night: warm evening with a beautiful sunset + journal work on the patio + chocolate stout = PEACE

I sure didn't have to look very hard for my joy and peace.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another small change? No, big!

Whoot Whoot! My One Small Change challenge has been so much fun. I've made great, sustainable changes for January, February and March and now I'm ready for April.

I took my TTT (Teach The Teacher) Rain Barrel class last night at WMEAC. Come's that easy to make these? Yes! It really is. And you know what? I won the raffle, so I came home with the water barrel we made. Whew! Now I have a way to show you what they look like. The link I gave you for WMEAC has a video and instructions for making your own at the bottom of the link page.

There is an overflow spout at the top right where I'll attach a hose for when there's too much rain. There are dual valves on the bottom so I can attach 2 soaker hoses, one each for the back and side yard gardens. There's a screen covered hole at the top where the downspout will be retrofitted (yes, I know what that means.  Aren't I smart?) The screen is to keep mosquitos and debris out of the barrel. And, you can't see it, but there's a hose attachment on the other side in case you want to get your hose up off the ground.

People, rain barrels are so simple to make that you have no reason not to have them at your own homes. Think how many gallons of rain water I'm keeping out of the storm sewer. What's more, rain water is free and just think of how many gallons of treated water I don't have to buy from the city just to throw on the ground this summer.

Next up, rain barrel workshops at my home. I get to teach the neighborhood how to make them. Have I mentioned that the rain barrels and all the supplies are free from our city if you go through the WMEAC workshops? Yep, free. I love free. I love my city!

"Look down my rain barrel. Slide down my cellar door. And we'll be jolly friends forever more!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let me go back.

Back to the island. Back to what I love...sleeping in the woods, paddling my kayak, walking the animal trails, resting. Breathing. Feeling. Watching and listening.

Just the two of us, away from the city for a brief period of us time. Together, but alone. We're on an island.

An early morning paddle and we meant to paddle up to the mouth of the river. We never made it, but instead found our way to this delightful little marina. Run-down and ramshackle, covered with cobwebs, nests in the rafters and dock boards so worn and weak I thought they might crack under my weight. They held, thankfully. I didn't want to swim. It's April and the water is barely out of the 30's. Is it?

Our gentle breeze is no longer. A wind now, urging us to go back. The sky darkening and still we turn into a cove, lured by the call of eagles. Where are they? Do you see them? Yes, over there, high in the trees. An adult Bald Eagle and a mud head, a youngster. Soon his sibling appears, but he crashes roughly as he tries to land in the tree. We laugh, he needs more practice. Ruffled, he continues on his flight, turning North towards the arie. More wind. We must go back. The sky is very dark and a cold misty rain has begun to fall. Time to go back to the safety and haven of our little camp. Coffee, breakfast, wrapped in a blanket for warmth. Rain, lots of it. More wind. Ah, yes, a wonderful time to nap.

Later, after the rain, the sky clears to a beautiful clear blue. A Mute Swan and a Tundra are having a show of's Spring, after all, and love is at stake. Clever Tundra, he is swimming away, followed by the Mute, when he suddenly takes flight, circles over the Mute and heads back towards the female. Oh, enormous beautiful birds. Great splashes and flapping of wings as the Mute catches up to the Tundra to drive him off and then it's over. The Tundra climbs the bank and sits back just so, watching the Mutes, waiting for another chance that does not come.

Nature is doubly beautiful this morning. The reflections cause us to see things that are not there. People, faces, animals, fish. She's a clever one this Nature.

But who is this wildly crazy woman who so loves Nature, who seeks to bond with her and feel her spirit in the wind and sun and sounds? Oh, silly, it's me. That's me.

Let me go back.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This young lady....

This is one of those posts so you may not want to read further.

Let me begin. This young lady, right here....

inspires me in ways I never could have imagined. I've written about her before and I'll write about her again. This is my 4 y/o granddaughter and I waited 30 years (from the time her Daddy, my oldest, was born) to get to her and I assure you, the very essence of her was worth every minute of the wait. I don’t mean to imply that she is a ‘mini-me’, but she looks like me, we share personality traits, she reminds me of who I thought I was. She reminds me of who I could have been, who I can be.

She is bright, and curious, and sweet, and generous and so full of love and life. When Alex was home over Christmas, he remarked on the family life she has (along with her brothers). He said it was a safe home and a home full of love. By safe, I think he meant both physically and emotionally. My grandchildren are growing up immersed in love from aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents and their siblings. What a wonderful way to grow up. I didn’t grow up feeling like that. My childhood was dangerous and fraught with fear. I did have a protector, who helped me learn to be brave, but he was only a year older than me and he was torn from my childhood home when I was 12. I was lucky in that I survived with no physical scars, but there are emotional scars. This young lady inspires me to continue being brave, and because I know she is learning from me, she inspires me to shake off the last vestiges of my broken childhood. She inspires me to reach beyond the emotional scars to live a fuller and healthier life. One would think that at my age, I would have already done this since I am a grandmother. But life had a way of going on and allowing me to use whatever defense mechanisms I had at hand to get through the motherhood era. It seems grandchildren cause me to be more aware of being a whole person. It seems this young lady is a springboard for me. Thank you, my little Chickabee.

I’m about to embark on the Inside Out e-course, for which I am very excited, but this journey began in earnest this past January when I signed up for the One Small Change and the Reduce Clutter challenges. One Small Change has helped me to make small monthly changes in my physical life, but also got me thinking about small changes I could make in my emotional life as well. It’s not scary to make small changes, but it got me to thinking, a lot, and it’s been a rough winter for me emotionally because of it.

Reduce Clutter is helping me to clear out physical objects from my home, but it asks what mental clutter are we hanging on to. Hmmm, then I come across A Step Toward Balance and I know I want balance in my emotional life. I’m seeing a pattern here. Geez, who knew the three challenges would be so connected. So, as I begin this new journey, I’m filled with hope…and I’m inspired by this young lady…and the wonderful women I have met through here. As an aside, but completely related, I love sticky notes and I write inspiring messages that I come up with or that I come across and I post them on the walls of my CRS where I see them all the time. One of my favorites has been “Women who inspire Women.” This is so accurate and so fitting for my life right now. So, to all the women and young ladies who inspire me, thank you, and please wish me luck as I begin this journey toward a fuller and healthier emotional life.