Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Saturday, March 30, 2013

City Bird Sings

City-Bird Sings

                           by Debora Rorvig

Where skyscrapers reach for the sun
and black and yellow taxi cabs buzz up and down the noisy street
like bumble bees,

Where black Armani suits stroll down sidewalks
with people neatly tucked inside
and blue-collar workers push and shove,
 and lift and heave,
building up and tearing down the tenements
she dares to sing.

Above the din and factory smoke
clear and sweet
she calls me from a gnarled elm
from a little patch of worn out grass
just outside my flat.

Though it is only February, she doesn't care
and so I, taken by her optimism
open wide my window and lean upon the sill
just to hear her song.

Perched on a leafless branch almost
obscured by dappled winter-light
tiny, brown and unadorned
she sings and chirps with all her heart,
a heart so tiny it would fit
inside a child's palm...
and yet so large she dares to raise her voice
even in this dismal place,
without a thought that no one may be listening
but I.

As the voice of God she lifts me
above the smogged unholy din
and gives me hope that
even I
might have a voice
in this place; in this world.

Small that I am
 mayhap there is a grassy patch,
a place for me-
and someone sitting by the sill
who will listen
if I only dare to sing with all my heart
the song He placed within.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Forgive me, sweet primrose!

I used to turn my nose up at primroses. I thought they were rather silly little flowers. Frilly, superficial little posies, that's what I called them. I hated their foliage and detested weeding around them. That's what I used to say.

But I've had a change of heart. Sweet, hardy little blossom! You risk coming out to visit with me before the late winter frosts are over. You are stubbornly cheerful and ever-so-optimistic. Please forgive my snobbishness and stay on my porch for a while this spring!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stop Complaining and Move from Victim to Victor

     Seed For Thought...

I've been reading a wonderful little book entitled "Choosing Civility...the 25 rules of considerate conduct," by P.M. Forni. This book should be required reading for everybody. Seriously. Here are a few rules...
  • Listen
  • Pay Attention
  • Be Inclusive
  • Speak Kindly
  • Respect Even a Subtle No
  • Respect Other People's Time
  • Don't Shift Responsibility and Blame
  • and one of my favorites...Refrain from Idle Complaint
 Mr. Forni tells us that while there are indeed legitimate complaints; idle complaining is the 'unwarranted spreading of misery.' It is concentrating on problems instead of solutions and living in a state of pessimism. He says."... pessimism is like trudging in the mud. When you complain you stick your unfortunate listeners in your mud and you drag them along with you for no good reason." Sound familiar? Sure did to me!

What I like about this little book is that he gives great ideas for redirecting your negative energies into something more positive; but it does take a little introspection and some willingness to change. He suggests that we first make a list of all of the things we are prone to gripe about.
If you lack the self-awareness to know what you are constantly griping about, ask your spouse, best friend, or co-workers. Believe me; they know. Oh my yes, they know. (And don't get your feelings hurt when they honestly tell you!)

  Here's my partial list...uncooperative students, horrible parents of uncooperative students, hubby's long work day and commute, lack of time, being tired, a generation of people who feel 'entitled' to everything, TV programming...and much more.

Now, when you've finished the list...make a decision to stop complaining about one of your gripes for the whole month. When your month is completed, tackle the next item on your list and extinguish your complaining about that item. After 12 months, your griping should be under control. Does this mean that we just become Miss Suzie Sunshine and deny the existence of problems? Nope.

The other part of this process is that, while you are working on complaint-reduction; you will also be seeking to find some positive solutions for that problem. For example; if  I'm working on my issues around uncooperative students; I will begin looking for ways to encourage cooperation. Perhaps I can talk to other educators about how to deal with the problem. I can go to the library and find some books on the subject. Or I can try to find out if the student is having personal problems that are contributing to the problem.

 In any case, once I motivate myself to solve a problem rather than whine about it, I move from being a victim to a victor.

Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity, and consume your own smoke with an extra draft of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints.              William Oser


Friday, March 15, 2013

Of Morning Walks in the Spring Interrupted by Nature

We took our usual morning walk today, Baron and me. An elderly couple passed by. He wore a red flannel jacket, plaid, that hung a bit askew. My guess is that he's been wearing that coat since the Christmas of '89.  She was clad in a sensible navy parka that set off her short-cropped silver hair.  Hand-in-hand they were.

"What a comfortable couple," I said to Baron as we watched them proceed up the street.  Baron thought so too, as evidenced by his wide Black Labradorian toothy grin. Baron is a very agreeable walking companion indeed!

Just as Baron was about to tell me his thoughts about this couple and the mildness of the morning and the fact that the lavender azaleas are in bloom; he was interrupted by a such a hullaballoo, such a squawking ruckus from above that all of us, the gent in his flannel coat, his wife of many years, myself and Baron too, were compelled to look above. A gaggle of geese, Canadian honkers in classic V-formation glided past. It seemed as though all 50 or so of them had different thoughts about which direction they should go...and they weren't at all shy to tell their leader so! Funny how such a graceful sight as geese on the wing can at the same time be such a wild commotion.

We stood there for a moment, Baron and I and the couple, gazing at the geese as they winged their way to parts unknown. "Maybe they're going to the fallow corn fields by the bay," I commented to my dog. He wasn't sure but wagged his tail all the same.

And the geese were gone. Passing through our morning like a thought we forgot to say.

And so we continued on, Baron and I and the couple in their coats. And so we continued on.

Have a plaid-red-flannel kind of weekend, my friends!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Golden Girl Moment

Do you remember  Blanche Devereaux? She's one of the "Golden Girls" played by the late Rue McClanahan. I liked all of the  'girls' on that show. I loved Bea Arthur's wry sense of humor and Betty White's naivete; but what I always liked most about Blanche was her beautiful wardrobe, and I often commented on how really attractive she was in her senior years. I was not as impressed with Estelle Getty, but that's just me.

We have a "Blanche Devereaux" at our church. Nooooo, silly; she's not a the flirty, loose type. She just happens to bear a strong resemblance to Rue McClanahan and she dresses just as stylishly. I think this spunky gal told me she's in her mid-eighties, but she could easily pass for 67 or so. We're sort of new to the church, so I can't ever remember her name. I just think of her as Rue. Every Sunday we slip into the pew right behind her. During the 'fellowship' part of the service she always greets us with that engaging smile and we exchange pleasantries. Nice lady.

This week's sermon was all about regeneration. Our pastor gave us some remarkable statistics about how the human body actually renews itself many times over one's lifetime. For example, our skin replaces itself about once a month. Most of the dust in our homes is actually flakes of skin. Who knew?  I guess snakes aren't the only creatures that shed their skin! According to Pastor Gonzaga, our entire body regenerates about every seven years or so. Not bad!

With church over we headed for the fellowship hall for coffee and cookies. 'Rue' was right behind us. She linked her arms in mine, leaned close to me, smiled and whispered, "Can you believe what Pastor Gozaga said about our bodies renewing every seven years?"

I smiled and replied, "It's fantastic, isn't it?"

"Well I don't know about that," she replied with a laugh. "If my body parts are being replaced every seven years, I think God must be ordering them from the wrecking yard!"

Spoken like a true Golden Girl!

Who's your favorite Golden Girl?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Have I Got 'The Bighead?'

Geesh! I'm so flattered by all of the kind comments on Becky's blog about my poem!

 If Mom were still alive she'd give me a look and say, "Now don't be gettin' the bighead!"

Nope. My mom was never one to dole out needless praise or flattery. I'll never forget the time she and I went to hear the Crazy Crooners down in the reception hall at Merrill Gardens assisted living facility where she lived. They weren't really called the Crazy Crooners. I can't remember what they called themselves. It was a country-western group comprised of three old fellows and a lady. I don't think they practiced much. If they did...their short-term memories were shot because they kept getting the lyrics mixed up. One person would be singing the first verse while the other would be singing the second verse... like they just threw all of the lyrics into meat grinder and served up whatever came out! Musical Hash, that's what is was! Fortunately for them, they were hard of hearing, so it didn't phase them at all. And while I can't be absolutely certain--I'm pretty sure that the woman singer was tone-deaf. Ever heard cats mating? Given a choice, I'd go with the cats.  I 'm pretty sure I saw some of the folks in the audience remove their hearing-aids about half way through this musical extravaganza. After listening to them for an hour I started praying for a temporary case of tone-deafness!

The performance was finally over after a rousing finale of "You Are My Sunshine." (Dear Lord, how can you mess this one up? By golly, they did! Tell me, can you really make someone gray when skies are happy?) The residents who were still there (and still awake) all applauded appreciatively as they fumbled to re-insert their hearing aids. All, that is, except my Mom. She just sat there with a thin smile glued onto her face, hands clasped tightly in her lap, staring at them coldly.

"Mom, aren't you gonna clap for them?" I asked, thinking maybe she was lost in thought or something.

"No I am NOT." she retorted.

"Why not?"

"Because they were terrible. I may be old, but I am not deaf. I will not encourage them by clapping. They need to be stopped."

Well alrighty then. We didn't stick around for cookies and Sanka. We headed right back to her little apartment and channel-surfed for Lawrence Welk. She wanted to hear Norma Zimmer sing some champagne music...maybe a little Myron Florn on the accordion.

So I don't think I've got the bighead yet...but all of that flattery has got me to thinkin' that maybe I should post a few more poems. This is what you all get for encouraging me... a little literary hash I wrote for a poetry class some years ago. Maybe you should take off your glasses; it might sound better that way...

Roll out the wheelbarrow and don your neoprene barn boots with
the red stripe around the top,
slip on your Playtex gloves and stick
a clothespin on your nose because...
I've been given permission
 to write garbage.
Lots of it.
I write
bad poems that don't rhyme,
not because they shouldn't--
but because
 I just can't think
of a single word
to rhyme
with paradox.
Pages and pages of nothingness,
like a Seinfeld sitcom
 I write on...
Stinking, horrible putrid stuff
about myself.
I sift through the tragedy and comedy of my life,
what's the word for that--
Looking for a glimmer of ...
well something
even cute would do;
but it's all garbage.
Not that there's anything wrong
with writing trash.
Heaven knows I've read my share
of trashy dime-store novels,
and tabloids of 3-headed babies of rock-stars-turned politician.
Why those guys get paid evades me...
(The writers, I mean,
 not the politicians.
Well them too,
 now that I think of it!)
My stuff, on the other hand,
is like a cardboard box
of  dusty broken what-nots
abandoned by the curb...
yard sale rejects.
"Don't bring it back into the house," I yell.
"If you try to lift the box
the bottom will fall out.
Leave it there--
  the garbage man;
will take it on his Monday run.
It's nothing but
But I'm undaunted by this mediocrity;
 'cause my teacher's given me
 the big 'thumbs up' 
which as I recall
 didn't turn out so well
when I waterskied.
I help up my thumb
and suddenly
I was being dragged through water
at 60 knots...
afraid to let go,
I bounced across the waves
like skipping stones on a pond.
When my instructor reads this piece
she'll probably feel like that.
she'll take a metered breath
and smile,
 and choose her words with utmost care.
"Perhaps you could
 edit this...or that?"
So Thursday evening after work
I'll be there,
sorting through my rotten verse
and stories with
 contrived characters
whose substance is like
a straw man in a windstorm.
I'll share unsupported ideas and
unsubstantiated claims
and make grammatical faux paus
of every kind.
Looking for a nugget--
which; if we should find...
we'll wipe it off and hold it to the light.
Does it reflect ANYTHING at all?
Why yes, I think it does...
in a quirky sort of way!
I'm not really sure just what it is...
but it isn't garbage.
Yeah, it isn't garbage!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Guess what!!! Becky Povich, a great blogger friend invited me to do a guest post on her blog! I'm so honored. Becky is a fabulous writer with many published works to her credit. And she's very funny. So if you have a sec...mosey on over to her site and check it out...


Thanks so much for the opportunity, Becky! I'd love you to guest post for me anytime!

The sun is out...time to go fly kites in the March wind.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Crossing Paths with New Faces

I had fun taking photos of this photographer taking photos!

Hello, new friends, Kathy from Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy; and Susan Flett Swiderski from I Think; Therefore, I Yam! I'm glad our paths have crossed!

Kathy, I love those vintage photos. I might have to get involved in Sepia Saturday!

Susan, you're being too modest, your haiku is great! I hope somebody made you a cake-but I ain't holding my breath since I don't know any man who's really celebrating International Womens' Day! LOL!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do You Ever Feel this Way?

I'm doing a daily exercise from a book called "May Cause Miracles" by Gabrielle Bernstein. It's an interesting little book that promises 'subtle shifts for radical change and unlimited happiness.' And while I don't subscribe to all of the theories of the book, I am finding the daily writing piece quite enlightening. In one particular exercise, we are instructed to witness (as in watch) our fears for the day and then go home and write them down. Here's one fear I mentioned in my journal...

"Today I feared 'overtalking' to a co-worker. I was thinking that maybe I'm one of those socially awkward people who talks too long. You know the type...those who keep you standing and listening long after your interest has waned."

Am I alone here, or are there others out there who internally critique their conversations with others?  Just wondering...

The crocus are up!


Overflowing Gratitude

I don't even remember now just how I wound up going to a gastroenterologist. But that's not really the point of my story anyway. In any case, somehow I was referred to the gastro guy who decided to run a scope down my throat and into my esophagus. The procedure was really a piece of cake, as procedures go; but the report...not so much. I opened the letter, read the first few words and had to go out onto the porch to catch my breath. My hubby had to read the rest of it to me. The words I remember were pre-cancerous and Barrett's Esophagus. Barrett's Esophagus is a condition where the tissue in the esophagus becomes inflamed from acid reflux and the irritated cells change to a pre-cancerous state. Not everybody with Barretts gets cancer, but it's a red flag.

The next several months were a series of trying one horrible drug after another in an attempt to control the acid reflux. My body reacted terribly to all of them. I could scarcely eat. I lost 40 pounds. I cried and prayed and went to the emergency room from time to time because it felt as though my esophagus was on fire. After a particularly bad night I called the doc to complain about the newest drug's side effects. I asked his nurse if there wasn't something I could take that was more natural. She got really snotty with me and quipped, "Maybe you should just go to a naturopath...we don't do natural here."

So I took her advice. I found a good naturopath and a new gastro doc. Went on an elimination diet to determine what foods didn't agree with me. (Turns out that yogurt and coffee were big culprits.) And after much discussion with my new gastro guy, we agreed that I would use Zantac rather than the heavy duty drugs that I had so much trouble with. Gradually, the acid reflux subsided.  And one more thing...I never stopped believing that God would heal me. Never.

When I shared my belief that I would be healed with my new doctor, he looked at me quizzically and said, "Why? Why with all of the terrible, horrible things that happen to people in this world, do you believe that God would choose to heal you?"

I quietly answered, "Because I asked Him to."

He shook his head. "OK, but you've gotta stay with the program."

"Okay," I replied.

I'm sure some folks along with my doctor might think me arrogant to believe that God would heal me. It's not arrogance. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I'll try to explain.

Have you ever known somebody who really, really needed something and it was within your power to help them? Say for instance you have a close friend who's lost their job and about to have their car repossessed because they can't make the payments. You hear about their dilemma and offer to make the payment. But they refuse your help. They're too proud to take 'handouts.'

 I decided long ago that I am not going to be that way with God. I will humbly ask Him for help with all of my problems, and I'll gladly receive all of the blessings he offers me. Then I'll thank him profusely, and rejoice in His kindness.

My doc implied that compared to all human suffering, my problem was small potatoes. I wouldn't argue that point. But I would argue that the One who controls the universe is not going to run out of miracles just because He helped me out of a jam. There's no scarcity with God!

So I just kept following the doctor's orders and kept believing. And I changed my diet. (I think often, when we get a diagnosis like this it's a warning. Like God is saying "Hey daughter...you best not be eating all of that junky food! And you need to treat that body I gave you with more care.")

It's been about 7 years and I've had 3 scopes done on my esophagus since that first one. Each time the irritated area has become smaller. The time before last we were down to the size of a pin-dot. When I commented to my doctor that my healing was progressing, he chuckled and said, "It's more likely that every time I do a biopsy I remove a little more of the scarred tissue."

I simply smiled and said, "Isn't it marvelous that God is using your hands to heal me?"

I wasn't being sarcastic--I truly feel this way. Truly, wouldn't it be a lovely thing to be used of God to heal disease?

I have kept taking the Zantac even though I haven't really had acid reflux for a few years. Today I called the doc to see if there was a good reason to continue taking it without having any symptoms. He said no.

So tonight Lord, I just want to say thank-you for healing my esophagus. My heart is overflowing with gratitude. You are altogether lovely.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Curried Chicken & Broccoli Bake

I love, love, love soups and casseroles. The more stuff you can throw into a pot or baking dish, the more delicious it is...right? And then there's that added perk of fewer dishes to wash which after a long day at work is soooo nice! So here's my all-time favorite casserole. (Actually it may be my second favorite casserole; I love the old layered hamburger and tater tot casserole but haven't made it for years because it's just not that nutritious.) Even though this recipe has a bit of fat from the cheese and the soup mixture; it's loaded with broccoli which just has to be better than tater tots! Plus I've noted some ways to further reduce fat and sodium.

Curried Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
1 16 ounce bag of frozen broccoli florets (I usually use more. And fresh broccoli is even better, if you have it.)
8-10 chicken tenders, cooked and diced
1can of cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz.)
1 can of cream of celery soup (10 3/4 oz)
1 cup of mayonnaise 
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Cook broccoli as directed or until tender if you are using fresh. Drain. Place the cooked broccoli in the bottom of baking dish. Put cooked chicken on top of the broccoli.
In a medium bowl, mix together soups, mayo, lemon juice and curry powder. Blend well. Pour this mixture over the broccoli and chicken and spread evenly. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Top with bread crumbs.
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes or so.
Toasted bread crumbs, melted cheese, spicy curry with chicken and broccoli = scrumptious!
NOTE: Healthy Substitutions
You may substitute 6 oz of plain non-fat yogurt mixed with 1/4 c. mayo instead of the full cup of mayo.
The quantity of cheese may be reduced, or use low-fat cheese.
If you are watching sodium intake, be sure to buy reduced-salt soups.
I can't say it's more healthy, but I substituted some Mrs. Cubbison's cornbread stuffing for the bread crumbs; it was fantastic!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Mindfulness, as taught in "How to Train a Wild Elephant"

I'm reading a catchy little book called "How to Train a Wild Elephant (& other adventures in mindfulness)." I like it because it's short and sweet, and gives fun little exercises to help us be more mindful in our everyday life.

The first chapter is quite simple...use your non-dominant hand off and on during the day. It helps you pay attention to what you are doing. Simple things we take for granted like writing, eating, even zipping up our pants becomes very interesting when done with the 'other' hand. The author, Dr. Jan Bays suggests that beyond becoming more mindful of what we are doing, there may be other benefits to this exercise. Our dexterity may increase over time. This just has to help our brains...right?

Now we're on Chapter 2, which is much more challenging for me...Leave No Trace. We are instructed to pick one room of our house (preferably the bathroom or kitchen), and try leaving no trace that we've been there for one week. That means picking up after yourself right away! Oh dear.

The author explains that in Zen paintings a turtle always symbolizes the practice of leaving no traces, because, to quote her exact words, "...they sweep the sand with their tails as they creep along, wiping out their footprints."

She suggests posting a sign that says 'Leave No Trace' in the room where you are practicing this habit, or even buying a little ceramic turtle, or picture of one. I really like this. I probably should put turtles in every room of my house! So this weekend I'm on the hunt for turtles (and picking up after myself.)

I look forward to reading every chapter of this book, and I recommend it to all who love the idea of living more mindfully.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Another Simple Pleasure...Calendars

Today is March 1st...Woo-hoo!

I love the first of the month because today is the day that I get to turn the calendar page! Woohoo!  I know, it may seem trivial, even childish to get excited about turning the page from February to March, but it's really one of those simple pleasures for me.

You see, I wasn't always as 'rich' as I am now. (I'm using rich in the broadest sense of the word here, and in comparison to past days. But yes, I do feel rather rich in all aspects of my life! ) Back in the day when the kids were little and I was broke, broke, broke; the money always ran out before the month did. The last week of the month was a time of digging under sofa cushions and checking coat pockets to gather enough change to buy gas. It was having tomato soup and saltine crackers for supper, making tuna casserole with 1 can of tuna instead of 2, and making the milk go farther by mixing powdered milk with the regular. And then, just when I thought that I couldn't make my pennies stretch another inch...came the first of the month and with it PAYDAY! Hallelujah, we made it! It was time to buy some groceries, pay the bills (well some of them anyway), and yes, change the page on the calendar. It was a shiny new month, full of promise and hope for better days.

All this aside, there is something even more wonderful to me about the change of the calendar; it's the art. Even when I was poor I never scrimped on my yearly calendar; never just used the one that the Les Schwab Tire Company or Key Bank sent me. For me, art is personal and essential. I need,  I daresay require it for my mental well-being. It doesn't have to be fancy or pretentious, it just needs to fill that corner of my soul that yearns for loveliness. So each year I make a pilgrimage to my favorite bookstore to find the perfect calendar for the upcoming year.  My requirements are always the same...it must have beautiful pictures to fill my heart with pleasure, quotations that inspire me, and plenty of space to note special events and appointments. All of this is mine for the mere price of twelve dollars or so! What a bargain! And though it's tempting, I never, never, never buy my calendars in December. I must wait patiently until January and buy them for 50% off. Last year I actually waited until February. The nicest ones were pretty picked over, but I was able to find a lovely one on line for only $6.00.

So, Happy March, friends! May your month be filled with promise and hope and all kinds of good cheer. Now go turn the page on your calendar!

Simplicity 2013 Wall (calendar)
For the past two years I've chosen Deborah DeWit's Simplicity Calendars...lovely!

Labrador Retrievers, Black 2013 Square 12X12 (Multilingual Edition)
My sister gave hubby and I this beautiful calendar featuring Labs in honor of our guy, Baron.

Below are some pages from 2013 calendars I really love...

This is from "The Present Moment" calendar. Lovely.

From "The Organic Kitchen Garden." Really nice tips and photographs.
Traveling Light (Lucado) Calendar
"Traveling Light" datebook by Max Lucado. It says, "A datebook for releasing burdens you were never intended to bear."
Love it.
From "Haiku, Japanese Art and Poetry". I'd love to have the birds in the moonlight painting.

All of these beautiful calendars and so many more are available at Amazon.com.


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