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, April 26, 2014

Some days are like a song

Some days are like a song.
Today was that day.
Blue sky,
 quiet talks,
 salt air,
 life companions.

Downstream...by Supertramp

(Note: to hear this song, click the youtube link at the end of this post. Then close your eyes and daydream.)
Took a boat Sunday, down by the sea
It just felt so nice, you and me
We didn't have a problem or a care
And all around was silence, everywhere

You are the reason I was born
Be with you through all seasons
I'll always hear you when you call
We'll keep the love light shining

Through each night and day
A lonely life behind me
Oh what a change you've made

So down here on the ocean we will stay
Went through a lot of changes
Turned a lot of pages
When I took a boat Sunday



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Purple is My Faborite...From the Heart of a Para-Educator

     Note to the Reader...

People often ask me what I do as a para-educator. It's hard to explain. Para-education, for me, is loving children where they are. Then the teaching follows. This piece is entirely fictitious; there is no Pietra. And yet there are thousands of Pietras out there who would never make it in school without the love and care of a group of wonderful people called Para-educators.

Purple is My Faborite...From the Heart of a Para-Educator

     You're standing in the doorway to Mrs. Lincoln's second-grade classroom scanning the room for the new student, Pietra, a recent transfer from another state. Her transcripts say she's got behavior issues, and possible learning disabilities. It's the age old chicken-and-the-egg question...is she behind because she won't behave...or does she misbehave because she struggles to learn?  Mrs. Lincoln is busy helping children find their desk so you wander into the room and help incoming children hang their backpacks and coats.
     It is there, under the coat-rack,  that you first meet Pietra. She's a scrawny-looking little thing with tangled yellow hair and dull blue eyes. Her faded party dress of purple organza (which you will later learn is her favorite and that she will wear most every day this year) is two sizes too big and hangs on her tiny frame like a potato sack. Yellow galoshes. You wonder whether she or her mother decided that yellow galoshes go with purple organza. Or does she even have a mother? Her wonky glasses are perched precariously atop a button nose; they make her eyes appear twice as large as they really are. Her lips are pursed in a defiant pout and she is holding onto her backpack for dear life. She eyes you suspiciously.
     "I see you've met Pietra," says Mrs. Lincoln with thin smile, "she's not making good choices today. Her directions were to hang up her backpack and to take a seat at her desk, but as you can see, she's not following directions."
     Mrs. Lincoln looks exhausted. Of the twenty-eight children in her classroom; five have special needs. One barely speaks English. Last week, after seeing black and blue bruises on the arms and legs of one of her students, she called CPS. The parents, livid with her; threatened to file discrimination charges to retaliate. And today her classroom has a foul fecal stench; one of her students has encopresis and has inadvertently pooped his pants. Despite the freezing weather, she's opened all the windows...trying to air the room out. It's chilly in here. You try not to breath too deeply and button up your cardigan.
     "Hi Pietra, I'm Mrs. Smith." you say quietly.
      No response.
     "I love your purple dress!"
     She eases up a bit, but still clutches the backpack. "Purple's my faborite."
     "Mine too!" you lie.
     A para-ed's favorite color is purple, red, black, brown, blue, green...any color; as long as it build rapport with a wary child.
     "So whatcha-got in your backpack?"
     You're too smart to try to take the backpack. Tried it before with other kids. It's a Bad scene.
     "My Princess Barbie."
     "Can I see her?"
     "My Daddy bought it for me."
     Her voice is filled with Pride. Awe. Affection. Grief.
     "Wow, that's so special! Did Daddy bring you to school today?"
     "He's in jail. But he's comin' home in Nobember," she brightens, "and when he does, he's gonna get me a castle for my Barbie!"
     A broad smile spreads across her tiny face. She's actually kind of cute when she smiles.
     "It's the doll..." you explain to Mrs. Lincoln, "it's her connection to her father." 
     For that week, Pietra is allowed to keep her backpack safely beneath her chair. Often she pulls the Barbie out, just to make sure it's still there; and to tell her classmates about her Daddy and the castle and that he's coming home in Nobember. It's a huge distraction to her and to the other students; but necessary to keep her on an even emotional keel.
     Over the next several months and years Pietra's struggles become your very own. You try to become the One.Constant.Thing in her life. When dad gets out of jail and he keeps her home for a week to celebrate; you tell her you miss her and encourage her to come to school every day. When you read in the papers that he's been picked up again on drug charges; you meet her at the door with a special hug. You make up silly alphabet games to teach her letters; and when she finally learns to read; you have a BIG celebration and boast about her to anyone who will listen. No matter that she's two years behind. The main thing is...she's learning. Slowly, sometimes painstakingly,  but she's learning. Two steps forward, one step back.
     You know, and you dread the day that is coming; when she will become REALLY angry. At her father. At life. At her disabilities. At the system. Why does her father act this way? Why was she born into this family and not that one? Why is she reading first grade books in sixth grade?
     "Did you know," she asks as she sits quietly coloring her map of the United States, "that he never bought me that stupid castle for my Barbie doll? He promised!"
     Then she adds..."But he always found money for drugs."
     "I know, honey," you say softly.
     She's in sixth grade now. There's no way to sugar-coat the facts. So you tell her the truth.
     "You've had a hard time of it and people that you should be able to count on have let you down. But look who you've become in spite of it all! Remember when we met that day...under the coat rack? Back then you couldn't read. Couldn't do math. But you worked hard, and you learned. And if you keep working hard, you will learn more... I promise. You will become more than you ever could imagine if you don't give up. Please, Pietra, don't let yourself down!"
     She looks dubious. Though you've always tried to keep your word to her, you know it might not be enough. How many broken promises...broken dreams can one child endure? How many times can a broken heart heal?
     It's sixth grade graduation day and she gives you a wallet-size school photo. (You anonymously paid for her pictures this year, selfishly hoping she'd give you one, and you're thrilled when she does.) You take the picture home and proudly position it on the fridge, right next to your children's photos. She's grown so pretty. Her long blond hair is pulled into a pretty French-braid. Her wonky old glasses replaced with flattering ones that accentuate her lovely blue eyes. She's filling out; becoming a young lady. The form-fitting purple shirt she is wearing in the photograph attests to that. You look at it and smile. Purple. It's still her faborite color!
     Purple has become your faborite color too.
     Next fall there will be another child. He will be hiding under a coat-rack. Or she will be sitting in the hall outside her classroom, sulking. You will say "Hi, I'm Mrs. Smith. I love your green tennis-shoes. Green is my favorite color you know. Really... is it your's too?!"



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Heart to Heart...a poem for my grandmother

The first time that my Uncle Edward visited my home he looked around at my hutch full of pretty dishes and all of the decorative plates hanging on my wall and commented, "You are like Grandma Lydia (his mother and my grandmother.) She loved pretty dishes too." This touched me, because I was just a little baby when she died. During the last few months of her life, she stayed in our home so that my mother could take care of her. My mom had just given birth to me; so taking care of a newborn baby and her dying mother must have been so very hard for her. Over the years, my mother and sister (who was fourteen years old when I was born) often told me how they would bathe me and put me on Grandma's chest as she lay on her sickbed. And so this poem is for my grandmother; we passed like ships in the night; but I believe that something of her still lives in me.

Heart to Heart

                    For Grandmother Lydia


I can’t recall your smile, or the color of your eyes,

yet I know you very well.

The day we met my mother lay me on your breast, 

heart to heart we were…fighting to live we were.

I--two months premature…you--dying prematurely.

Every day they carried me, freshly-bathed to you

and you buried your face in the folds of my neck

and you breathed sweet baby smells;

essence of Johnson’s baby talc and my mother’s milk.

You postponed leaving for a while in lieu of holding me

and as I lay there on your chest; tiny wrinkled hands

clutching gnarled fingers,

my tummy aches and preemie nerves

soothed by the rhythm of your heart.

I heard your pulse reminding me, coaxing me to

Livelive…live…live…live little one! 

For I am soon away from whence you came

but you, my little one, must live,

and remember this abiding truth--

For a season we met at the crossroads of life

and death; our hearts are synchronized.

         They beat as one…forever.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Grandma's a Little Cra-Cra

Grandson Dane challenged hubby and I to do the 'Winter Challenge.' For the uninitiated...the Winter Challenge is a dare to run into freezing cold water; and then, in turn, to challenge others to do the same. Grandpa and I were up for the challenge. After much deliberation we chose Lake Whatcom for the big event. Even though it's mountain fed, it's not as frigid as the freezing waters of the Puget Sound. And though it was tempting, we opted against some local ponds that would be warmer, but brackish and slimy.

 To get to Lake Whatcom you must drive over gi-normous Alabama Hill. As we proceeded up the hill; I began having serious misgivings. All the way up (and over) that hill I was contemplating chickening-out. Should a 58-year-old grandmother of 13 really plunge headlong into a chilly lake? It was only 42 degrees outside. Would I get hypothermia? Would this be too a great shock for my pampered, heat-loving system? I tell you; I was really in a dither by the time we arrived at the lake.

Hubby went first while I video'd him. Seeing him come out of the water without turning blue gave me the courage I needed to take the plunge. I did it; folks; I really did it! Here's the link for proof!


How would I describe the experience?
Sometimes even Grandmas need to do something a little cra-cray!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Little Flower-Therapy

In case you've been yearning for spring as I have; here's a bit of flower-therapy from my trip to the local nursery...Cheers!



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