Archive for the ‘Self-reflection’ Category

Sunrise! Sunset!

Swiftly flow the years. One season following another laden with happiness and tears.


 

 
 

So… my first attempt at an etheree poem:

Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five.

I’ve been away from my blog for far too long. Rusty at best but aiming to get back in the saddle again.

Time will tell whether the best of intentions…. and you know the rest!

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tea-for-five-sign

Here in my small corner of the world, as I sit at this desk and write…. with the window over my left shoulder widely open, the sun shines brightly and warmly. Perhaps not quite as warmly as in the picture above… where, at this very moment, these beautiful grandchildren of mine are enjoying another day together in the Magic Kingdom. A picture just sent to me by my daughter. Through the wonders of modern technology, I can see…. almost to the moment…. what fun they are having.

This has become close to an annual trek for the two families. Sometimes together and sometimes just one family at a time. Only every so often does a year go by without a visit. Does anyone ever tire of going to Disneyland? Come to think of it, I do know one who has said enough is enough and she refuses to cross the threshold ever again. The magic went pouf so to speak. That comes from living within ‘spitting distance’ of the great and mighty theme park where every visitor to your door expects a guided tour for at least one day at the park.

Hence…no more Disneyland for my dear cousin Dinah.

Mostly though… my first thoughts when the picture arrived on my doorstep went back to a long ago wish that I had for my two daughters when they were so so young and my “babies.” Amy and Allison won’t remember this but we used to have get togethers with several of their mother’s friends from her years of teaching at Jane Addams. Nearly all of us being first year teachers, we were full of energy, enthusiasm and creativity. How lucky was that school to have us burst upon the scene.

Good things come to an end, however, and most of us ended up leaving the profession, at least temporarily, when the joy of a first born became a shared experience for us. We were all blessed and fortunate enough to be stay-at-home mothers for the first years of our children’s young lives.

(If I do say so myself) Jane Addams’ loss was mighty when we all ‘retired.’ So, it was great fun to keep up with our friendships under the guise of playdates for our children. ‘Two birds with one stone’…. or lunch together. Chicken Divan Casseroles, Caesar Salads eagerly awaited at one table…. PB&J’s with milk and cookies at the other.

The memory comes from one of those luncheons when my friend Jan invited her sister, Diane, to join us for that get together. Those two sisters had four young children between them… all very close in age and…. oh how they seemed to be best friends with children who felt the same. As I witnessed the laughter and fun and love clearly expressed between them, I distinctly remember thinking and wishing for that kind of friendship to be shared between my daughters in the future. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they kept close and if their children were the happy recipients of their mothers’ love and friendship for one another?… I thought to myself.

And there they all be
at the magic kingdom today…
where wishes really do come true.

Have great fun and make more memories to share and last forever.

Thank You, Amy! Love the picture and it took me to another place and time this afternoon. One just never knows what might fall upon ones’ doorstep each and every day.

Love,
Mom

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gather-leaves
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bursts with unfamiliar meaning as one explores the jewels to be found in all the nooks and crannies lining autumn’s coat of many colors. Tumbling out of her pockets come maple, alder and oak shaped nuggets of amber, garnet, citrine and smoky topaz… gems weaving the tapestry of autumn’s beauty.

I feel more present in autumn. Like watching my grandson’s soccer game, for me autumn is a spectator sport of sorts… the surrounding beauty is my play field and it’s a wonderful time to cheer and applaud till one is hoarse from the excitement of nature’s winning streak.

That autumn is rounding the bend needs no calendar to convey better than one’s own ‘sense’ of the incomparable radiance of nature. As the chill seems to arrive earlier every day, just step outside your door on one of the new season’s first crisp mornings and you’ll see, smell, hear and even taste the fall flourishes that have drifted in to dazzle us with their golden presence and presents of gold.

With nose in the air, you’ll smell that slight hint of smoke somewhere in the neighborhood. Perhaps that hint has arrived because autumn has set foliage ablaze with colors straight from my box of crayons…. burnt sienna to burnt umber to burnt orange to deep merlot and bittersweet.

In the early morning light, dawn’s heavy dew reveals the glistening of dozens of spider webs as they drape and decorate my favorite hanoki cypress…. like tinsel on a Christmas tree . Walk more briskly, add more layers, wear those new boots for the first time and listen to the Cap’n crunch of colorful, dry leaves beneath your feet. Pick up a favorite coffee drink along the way and I just bet that savoring the first sip of that hot, creamy, mellow ‘deliciousness’ never tasted quite so comforting as it does on an autumn morning.

autumn-canopy

Remember when …. with a wave of her wand Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed her from tattered and torn to belle of the ball? On my walk to work each and every day there is a canopy of trees surrounding the fountain and four corners of the square…. While never taken exactly for granted, I must admit that in shades and shadows of green they sometimes fail to capture my notice, until nature waves her wand in the autumn of the year and adorns them with new attire. Suddenly, the transformation is stunning as these trees wear their regalia with Cinderella’s blushing enthusiasm.

garden-collage-three

rose border

And then there’s my garden! Despite the air of dishelvement that just naturally occurs as the new season approaches, the beauty that autumn brings is worth a bit of untidiness.

Endless nuances and complexities gathered together in layer upon layer of nature’s slow shedding away of summer’s full bloom. Quick… before Jack Frost tiptoes in and snatches away the purple blooms of my plumbago, let me savor the remnants of what is being plucked away by the changing of the seasonal guard or by the pruning shears of the angel who tends the garden with me. Japanese bloodgrass plumes. . . mop heads of hydrangea blossoms…twigs fallen from the sumac…moss covered piece of driftwood near the oriental fisherman…..and, from the bittersweet family, bright red fruits on my strawberry tree open to reveal orange seeds blown to earth by a gentle breeze. And, of course….. that bird is having a ‘field day’ as he nibbles away at what remains to feast upon.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumn.” ~ George Eliot

Speaking of delicious! Eliot got it right… autumn’s ambience is dappled with numerous elements of deliciousness. Not the least of which occurs in my kitchen at this time of year…. it’s not called comfort food for no good reason. The elements that proclaim this seasonal change are cozy and comforting and food is high on the elemental list. At last…. autumn chowder, meatloaf and baked potatoes, homemade stews and dumplings are back on the menu. Simply prepared, savory, aromatic, mouth-watering and full of nostalgia…..comfort food is aptly named, bringing with it a sense of well being. Let’s see… here we are at the beginning of the month of October… so many choices await. What shall it be tonight?

comfort-foodsOut comes a favorite cookbook of the same name. A day off for me today with time to cook something scrumptious. A delicious dilemma! Why does everything seem to taste better at this time of year? Do I stay with the tried and true or try something new? Think I’ll keep the soup pot simmering with the first Minnestrone of the season. Pure self-indulgence!

rose border

And… Bittersweet you wonder! A re-occurring theme in my short essay and an adjective expressing contrasting emotions of pain and pleasure…. with the bitter comes the sweet. So, while the passing of the seasons is bittersweet, as are the passing of years and memories, autumn brings with it a certain optimism inspired by nature’s bounty of beauty.

One of the first telltale signs of autumn’s arrival is the lowering position of the sun in our sky. The lighting of our world has changed. A beautiful autumn day begins with luminous light casting a warm glow on nature’s generosity. As the day progresses and the sun moves, the color of the season seems even more flamingly intense and, with luck in my small corner of the world, a sunset on this autumn day ends in the embers of what appears to be a fire on the beach. So goes the bittersweet tapestry of life.

autumn-leaves

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amy-rogertext

Look at that Rog!!

We’re so old that our pictures merit a circa mentality. Egads! Shall I state the obvious? How did that happen? And, as I’m looking at that picture, I’m thinking that my ‘circa’ is off by one year, although I know that circa means about and not the exact year stated. If you haven’t experienced it already, seventy is the threshold of memory challenges to state it politely.

Doesn’t much matter how it happened…. it just did and here we are in the seventh decade. By the way, I beat you to it so welcome to the seventies of our life or better yet…. let’s just consider it the “the 30th anniversary of our 40th birthday.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said, “To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.”

Remember that great surprise party Georgie planned for your fortieth?

Well…. here we are at another birthday celebration. I’ll be there with bells on!

Back to the picture up there at the top. Besides delighting me every time I happen upon this picture, just why did I choose it for this birthday post? I wonder! That was a very warm summer day and we all decided to take a picnic to a park in Olympia.

chaffin-picnic

Of all the parks in the area and of all the picnic baskets we could have taken anywhere…. why Olympia? For the life of me, I’ve no recollection of our reasoning. Perhaps it was just to take a Sunday drive.

 

rotunda-in-olympiaHowever or why ever we got to Olympia, there are the two of you looking up in what can only be awe and amazement….. kind of a symbol of how you embrace life and joy and the strong desire to share it with all of us. Blink and you might miss something really special. Although, if you look closely, you’ll realize that Amy has her chin up but she’s kind of cheating and looking more at the photographer than the ceiling.

Speaking of amazement, the world has been blessed by such an amazing person for a whole seventy years. And my life has been all the better for having you in it for the past …. well, let’s see…. for over forty five years now.

I wouldn’t have missed the “ride” and your friendship for anything and I’m so grateful that our paths crossed that many years back and hope the journey continues on for many many more.

Happy Birthday, Roger!!

Much love,
Julie

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twelve-years-old

Dear Emily,

Twelve cheers for you! You’re 12 today and, better yet, for the next 365 days too. Enjoy every second of this special age.
 

rose border
daisy list for emily

 

emily-freckles with text

emily-and-ivy with text

emily-and-tonguewith text

emily-dress-up with text

emily-dance with text

sisters, sisters

emily and dolphin

Emily holding baby Ian

Emily's happy talk

drama queen

emily's snow hug

you in my life

 

Oops! Did I just get a bit carried away or what? That’s what happens when you try to “play” on the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’…. had to come up with the twelve ways of Emily and, after all, you are twelve years old today so what is a Nana to do.

But… lest any of my other grandchildren feel a bit offended or left out by the length of this happy birthday greeting…. always know there is more to follow for all of you. The heart has infinite capacity for love and I love you all dearly and in so many more ways than even twelve.

To be continued!!

But… today is Emily’s day and I wish you a very happy birthday dear granddaughter of mine.

Love,
Nana

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true friends

Most all of us have friends during stages of our lives but only lucky ones can say they’ve had the same friend through all stages of life. Okay… so we weren’t in one another’s lives during the earliest stages of childhood but once we met in high school there’s been no looking back on the friendship that Vicky and I have shared for over fifty years now.

a tale of two dresses

So here we are in our wedding dresses… me on the left in 1970 and Vicky on the right… one year later 1971

Ah but wait!

maid of honor 2 of us

There’s Vicky on the left in her maid of honor dress at my wedding and me in my wedding dress as her maid of honor.

Whew! Even I’m now thoroughly confused!!

Now mind you, as I recall…. this switching of the dresses from wedding to maid of honor and vice versa was not a calculated plan but rather an evolutionary process that just materialized when Vicky decided to wear that beautiful yellow dress which she had chosen to wear on my wedding day as her wedding dress when the time came a year later and then I decided why not? I’ll wear last year’s wedding dress for her big occasion. How many brides can say they wore their dress twice?

Here I am to say happy birthday to a dear friend and up pops all these wedding memories. But…as I was looking through pictures to find a proper memory to share for Vicky’s birthday day… these stood out amongst them all and memories just have a way of doing what they’re going to do.

Besides…. beautiful dresses as those were and… as smashing as we looked in them… those pictures and memories deserve preservation on this little blog of mine. Wouldn’t you agree?

And, for the sake of truthfulness and clarification…. much to my dismay and due to circumstances beyond my control at the time, Vicky was not “technically” my maid of honor on my wedding day. Except that in my heart then and now and always, she was and is and will be my maid of honor.

maid of honor banner

And while we might bemoan seventy plus candles on the cake and the aging process just a little bit…. let’s definitely plan on being eighty together!!

Love,
Julie

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big-sis-and-little-bro-bwIs one picture really worth a thousand words?

I wonder!

You might call us mid-century modern ’cause, if I’m guessing correctly,
we must have posed for this portrait… circa 1950?

So adorable we appear to be.
 
Well…actually, we were kinda cute!
 

North 71st

Two homes we shared! Both with 525 as the house number and both on hills… one more steep than the other!
(look carefully…. Mom and me up close to the house and toddler brother sitting on furthest top step looking towards us.)

let it snow

Whether meant as a metaphor for sibling relationships or not, this quote from Dylan Thomas speaks volumes for the ups and downs of the love/hate relationship that two siblings often share. And, no…. we never had tea after a snowball fight. More like cocoa in the warmth of our kitchen.

Decades and Decades ago, when I was a little girl… before birth control, before seat belts, multiple bathrooms, open concept, color tv and velcro (to name just a few) …. let alone internet and social media ….

“there was a little boy inside the man that is my brother….Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Younger brother and older sister were we. Growing up, I silently cursed my parents for not giving me a little sister to play dress up with, to have imaginary tea parties with, and to share sisterly secrets with. Instead, I received a terror of a little brother who broke my crayons, decapitated my adorable baby dolls and seemed to steal away my mother’s time from me.

In all fairness, young children tend to think about love as a limited commodity: that is, parents have only so much of it and if you have to share it with more people, you’ll get less. And…I never was good at sharing! You were doomed from the start!! And in hindsight… Being just four years old, I probably would have been equally pissed off with a baby sister.

94th street

And then there was a second home where we spent most of our growing up years…

Doesn’t look like a terror of a brother now does he? Beautiful blonde haircut atop your sheepishly bent head and shy grin. Disarmingly fetching… bringing out the parental nurturing even in your big sis. But….were you being bashful and cute or coy because you’d just done something you knew was a no no. Yikes! There’s the cynical big sis coming out in me!

Wonder where we were going with those bouquets of flowers! Knowing you and your amazing memory dear brother Jim…. I just bet you can recall this picture and why we were carrying bouquets of flowers. Mother’s Day perhaps?

That’s what I mean about pictures being deceptive renditions of the actuality of life. Well.. that was deep! But, you get the picture. There was a lot going on in the growing up of Jim and Julie on 94th street.

But, through all of it…. the good, the bad and the ugly…

as much as siblings squabble when they are young, this is not a sign that they do not love each other. In fact, one of the biggest lessons learned in the growing up process is that we can feel terribly angry at people and then feel loving towards them again with no loss of intimacy.

You are an irreplaceable part of my childhood, brother.

Happy Birthday on this… your day of birth. I’ve been thinking about you a lot today. Can you tell?

Love from your big sis,

Julie

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