Thursday, February 27, 2014


My shelves aren't as neat as the library's!

Books! I celebrate The Book every day of my life. If I'm not reading, I'm buying for somebody else. Books are my absolutely favorite gift to give. Or receive. Next favorite, to receive, is a gift card at a bookstore.

My childhood was spent in the dark ages--pre-TV, pre-Internet. My greatgrandchildren ask, "What did you DO?"

We read books. And magazines. And encyclopedias, and the dictionary, and just about anything that had words and pictures. Or just words.

I've been known to read cereal boxes, ads on the back of magazines, and newspaper classifieds.

Books, a desk, yarn--great place to be!
So what, exactly, do books mean to me? Here's a list that might help answer that question.

Books are:
  • companions - as an only child, I chose books for a refuge, and they became my friends
  • teachers - if I didn't have anyone to ask, or a library to visit, I could probably find an answer in a book; thus dictionaries became one of my early favorites
  • counselors - I learned about having siblings (books for my age group were almost always about families) by reading books--also about what it meant to have friends, to fall in love, to work at a particular occupation (nursing was a big fave for years, along with airline stewardess)
  • travel guides - I could visit placers I probably would never get to explore: England (especially Cornwall and Yorkshire), Scotland, and Canada. I could live as a child in Appalachia, grow up on a ranch in Wyoming, or explore in the desert of Arizona. Farm stories didn't appeal to me - I knew what it was like to live on a farm in Illinois and Missouri by direct experience. Cities were fascinating, though, no matter where they were located. I'd lived in only one city, Wichita, KS, during the 1950s when airplane production was high and jobs were plentiful for my parents.

Books have a tendency to multiply when least expected.
A book provided privacy, as well as the above roles it played in my life. If I was reading and fully engaged with the heroine in the search for the stolen jewels, I was gone. The body sitting in the chair was a living, breathing husk--its mind had flown to other lands. (Naturally this caused some household friction. If I was supposed to set the table or go out to gather the eggs, then I had to be mentally present to do it right now, not when my mind was reunited with my body.)

To this day I carry a book or magazine with me when I have to be away from the house several hours. A book can't talk, but it has the power to soothe anxiety, erase anger, stir up good feelings, and transport the stranded motorist to happier--or more exciting--places.

Remember this old joke? A person is asked, "If you could were sent to a desert island and could take only one book (egads!), what book would you take?" The person ponders a few moments, then answers: "The dictionary!" Why, he is asked? "Because it contains all the other books!" Clever answer.

But I hope I'm never asked to limit myself to just one book--good grief! I can't fathom having only one.

May you never be asked to choose only one book--and may we never be banished to a desert isle.

When National Library Week or National Book Week or Celebrate Teen Literature Day come along, think about what reading has done for you, or your family. They can be pure gold for some folks.

They're everywhere!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


My neighbor's hibiscus, or mallows
Too early, you say?
Four weeks from today, March 20, will bring in the vernal equinox.

One of my calendars says, "Spring begins."
Another, "First day of spring." Remember? The day when daylight and nighttime hours are equal?

Whatever you call it, however you describe it, we have four weeks to get ready for the next season.

My neighbor's hibiscus doesn't bloom in spring; it's comes into full flower in late June or July, but it keeps going into the autumn.

Joy among the marigolds.

My own efforts lean more toward a couple of six-packs of marigolds. After a few seasons of replanting them because squirrels, and perhaps cats, had uprooted the plants from their pots, I learned to surround the planters with chicken wire. Looks goofy, but the flowers survive and give me the color I like. Joy always sniffs them when she passes by.

Another beautiful plant that was in my yard when I bought this house is the resurrection lily, also called a surprise lily, because it certainly surprises the gardener when the leaves wilt and everything looks grim indeed. Then stalks come through the ground, looking like oddball asparagus spears. They grow taller and taller and taller and then the tightly budded tips open. One stalk may host nine or more blooms.

(I've heard these lilies called naked ladies, but that name never caught on with me.)

Yes, I know it's too early to talk of spring. We still have more snow on the ground than the North Pole (seems like it anyway) and nowhere for it to go now that temps are moderating. Today we're predicted to reach 52 degrees! (Really? In February?)

There is definitely hope for spring's arrival--yesterday my driveway was clear of snow, ice, and water. Icicles that dripped from the eaves in front have met their death in sunshine and temps in the high 30s. Snow piles that topped four feet dwindle as we watch. As I write this, we have freezing rain, 36 degrees, thunder, and lightning. (I am not lying.)

I don't discount a late winter snowstorm, but remember...four weeks. We can make it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


hether it was a little candy heart that said “I LUV U” or a big box of chocolates, Valentine’s Day comes with memories and smiles.
Here are some quotations I came across. Hope you find something to touch your heart on this day we celebrate Love.

Love is a friendship set to music.
Joseph Campbell
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
When mindfulness embraces those we love,
they will bloom like flowers.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without
and know we cannot live within.
James Baldwin
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply,
without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know
any other way of loving but this,
in which there is no I or you, so intimate that
your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.
Pablo Neruda
love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear,
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun,
more last than star . . .
e e cummings
You know you're in love when you don't want to fall asleep
because reality is finally better than
your dreams.
Dr. Seuss
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:4-13
Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Not new snowfall...just pile-up from snowplows!
Yesterday another big snow storm hit Northeastern Indiana. Snowfall began just before 6 PM Tuesday, continued all night, and was especially virulent on Wednesday morning. The official depth, measured by my dog and me on our driveway is 9+ inches. Snow came up over the top of my boots.

For folks living elsewhere—meaning, outside the current snow belt—this is nothing special. So? You live in northern Indiana? It snows there. Deal with it.
I’m trying, really, folks, I’m trying. Tuesday I went to the local Walmart and Kroger stores for absolutely everything I could think of that we were out of or might need, if the siege turned out to be lengthy. Made sure there was sufficient thread of the color and type I needed to finish a couple of lap quilts. Did laundry and washed the dog’s bed covers, in case we woke up to frozen pipes or the electricity packed it in.

Even went to the library to borrow another movie so I’d have plenty of viewing material, in addition to the books I’d checked out the week before for times when my home library’s offerings are too familiar.
As of noon yesterday, the city street department had plowed our street a couple of times. Each time they built up the snow at the end of the driveway. Even if there weren’t nine-plus inches already in the driveway, I’d have trouble getting the car out. (In my next life, I’m going to have a Jeep. Or maybe a Caterpillar earth mover.)
This time of seclusion is ideal for finishing projects that have hovering over my shoulder for weeks, months, maybe longer. One lap quilt—measuring 45x57 inches—is nearly finished. Couple more hours and it’ll be ready to have its picture taken. My goal is to get it in the mail today or tomorrow for my oldest daughter’s birthday.

A second lap quilt from the same pattern, different colors, is nearing the halfway point. It has no deadline, but I’m pushing to finish it in the next couple of weeks so I can take it to church and deliver it to the man who is undergoing radiation and chemo treatments. His wife knits with our Heart & Hands group—she’s one of the most productive knitters, turning out hats, scarves, and baby afghans every week.

After those two projects are gone, I have some baby quilts to finish up for greatgrands. Funny thing, there’s always a new project begging to be finished. Like a well that never runs dry.
Today the schools are closed again—our county as well as neighboring counties. The senior center is closed. Activities and events in the community are cancelled.

Nothing new in all this.
Snow nearly 4 feet high after driveway was plowed.
But—is there, perhaps, a blessing somewhere buried under four-plus feet of piled-up snow?

I’ve noticed that I’m less stressed (when you’re retired, stress comes from different sources)—no classes meeting at the senior center; no activities at the church; many of my favorite haunts (library, YMCA) are closed part of the time. I am inclined to stay home and look around me. Is there something I can do here at home that’s been needing attention? Sort boxes of books? Go through folders of music that can be discarded or donated? Weed out clothes closets and make a packet to take to the thrift stores?
What about knitting a couple of extra kid hats for our church’s current project? Or writing notes to shut-ins (of which I am one most of the time this winter, due to weather)?

The blessing in all this is a gift—a gift of time that I haven’t had before.
I find it hard to celebrate being snowed in for weeks on end. But I can celebrate the gift of time that being snowed in brings—slowing down to do things I enjoy without thinking of the dozens of things I’m not doing instead. Because I can’t get out to do them.

In a few weeks this will all be a memory. We’ll all talk about “The Winter of 2013-2014” and remind each other of how long we went without going to the store or church or work or school. It will rank right up there with “The Blizzard of ’77-’78.” And not many folks will remember that one.

So while I have time on my hands, I’ll celebrate Winter—and think about the winters of my childhood that were cold, snowy, and miserable. But I don’t remember that part. Only that we played outside and built snowmen, then came in, hands and feet and noses frozen, to warm up with cocoa and homemade cookies.

I hope you have good memories of winters past. Heat up some cocoa, grab a handful of your favorite cookies, and curl up to celebrate your special memories.