Thursday, June 29, 2017


Many years ago my mother-in-law, Vira, was invited to a kitchen shower for the daughter of a friend. Vira was a creative woman--she went to the grocery store and bought a variety of spices for the bride-to-be. Then she asked me to write a little poem to go with the gift.

I was flattered to be asked, but--! I was no poet. My ability to write in rhyme was along the lines of "The cat and the rat sat on the mat." I had to decline the invitation to write a poem.

Then Vira said she had come up with a couple of lines--what did I think of this?
     "Of all the seasons of the year,
     you'll find the most important here."

I thought it was just right, and I told her so.

That little rhyme has stayed with me lo, these many years, and not just because seasoning is important to good cooking. Seasoning, I've come to believe, is what makes life itself worth living.

If we do a little virtual time travel, we can see how the years and events have seasoned us.

Childhood--if we were fortunate, we had good homes, enough to eat, clothes to keep us warm in winter, and plenty of love. We learned lessons at home, at school, and in the neighborhoods we lived in. Who we would become had its start in these early years.

If we weren't so blessed, what we did experience helped make up our adult self.

Adolescence--teen years are often fraught times. Adults say it's all about hormones. The teens themselves say life is unfair, or nobody understands, or even, why bother? But with guidance and love (always love), teens begin to metamorphose into the adult self. Without the love and caring, though, the process may take longer.

The sufferings of adolescence determine how we see ourselves and others, how we solve problems (or not), how we get through difficult or traumatic times. Lots of seasoning going on in this period.

Early adulthood--many of my generation married shortly after high school, or four years later, after finishing college. If they started their families right away, they soon learned a lot of life lessons--priorities being a biggie. 

As the children grew up and left home, parents found themselves again--all grown up, with a life still ahead of them. A career, perhaps; community involvement; or eventually caregiving to older adults.

What makes me think about the seasoning that life provides is my refusal to say that I'm aging. (The A word is definitely on my list of no-nos.)  And let me say right here--I'm not pretending that I'm not getting older--moment by moment, actually--no, not pretending that. And I definitely don't want to remain young forever. (This is reinforced every time I hear a bunch of little kids running, hollering, and having a grand old time. My energy levels don't match up! And as we seasoned folk are fond of saying, "There's a reason God gave children to young parents.")

But I like knowing that all the experiences I've had, from childhood on up to yesterday's shopping trip, have in some way altered me--have given me a different perspective--have explained something I never understood before. In short, my experiences have seasoned me.

When I cook, I seldom use salt, but I do use pepper. If I'm making a recipe that calls for unusual spices--curry powder, cardamom, white pepper, cumin, savory--I welcome a chance to try something new, or that give a little zing to a favorite dish. Fresh herbs often give a lift to a plain lettuce salad. Seasoning keeps meals from drifting into the area of hum-drum.

As most cooks will tells you, a little goes a long way. Season with caution, until you decide you like it.

We can't always distribute our life experiences cautiously. We take what we get, when we get it.

But we do have the choice of how we react--do we rebel? Reject? Can we "find the good," as Heather Lende says? Can we even embrace the experience, and the life lesson, and come out with more than we expected?

Many choices, with seasoning. Savor yours.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Did you notice yesterday was the "longest day" of the year? We all know it's still only 24 hours, but because it was the Summer Solstice, it had the most hours of sunshine here in the northern hemisphere.

Did you do anything special to honor that special day? 

It may not be a national holiday, or a religious obligation, or even a red-letter day on your calendar. But it's the last time, for 364 more days, you'll have that much sunshine. 

In my family, summer birthdays dwindle to one per month in June, July, and August. We gear up again in September with three, then a little break till December, January, February, and March.

This summer we have a big celebration for the 10th birthday of one of my grandsons. It's a water splash hoopla, and everybody and his dog is invited. (I'm pretty sure about the dogs.)

That's going to be my major event for summer. Two of my out-of-state kids will be back for the party and a few days' visit with me. And I'm sure a good time will be had by all.

After the party I'll have a couple of months to regroup before I have to be responsible, in charge, or available. Kinda nice to have a vacation from regular life!

Hope your summer is just what you want it to be! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017


We're already halfway through 2017, but I've chosen a word to live by to finish out the year. That word is PEACE.

Over 40 years ago I taught freshman composition to college freshmen. Our course started with a descriptive essay; continued into compare-and-contrast; and toward the end we advanced to the extended definition. It was one of the hardest to teach and one of the hardest to learn.

The extended definition essay attempts to go beyond the dictionary's pared-down list of meanings and asks the reader to enter into the writer's concept. We used examples from our lives, from books, from whatever experiences we could muster.

One way to define a concept is to tell what it is not.

My trusty Merriam Webster lists these things about PEACE:
- absence of war or strife
- freedom from quarrels and disagreement
- to remain silent 

Another definition of PEACE refers to an inner state of calm; tranquility. My favorite tea mug bears this legend:

- peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Still another way to look at PEACE deals with our actions; here's a quotation from the late Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian:

- Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.

And Mother Theresa:

-If we have no peace. it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.


Peace be with you.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


A few days ago I thumbed through the weather on my phone--youngsters may go directly to messages and emails, but I bring up The Weather Channel for the day's forecast. (Also the weekly forecasts, and eventually I troll through the 15-day forecast.)

The front page of TWC shows various wallpaper--right now it's hot air balloons against a blue-blue sky--and I get the date, time, current temp, high and low for today. Then I notice a few teasers, stories about who's having the most rain/snow/hail/heat/you name it.

And I began a quick scroll...but had to stop and back up. What was that headline?

Good news???

Yes! "Good News: Favorable Pattern Flip on the Way."

I witnessed a miracle! Good news on the weather report.

On the next page came the various videos: "Stunning Tornado" - "Man Fights with Bear" - "Scary Sight Out of Plane Window" . . . I didn't watch any of those. I was still dazed by the notion that "Good News" had been reported.


We've all heard the thinking behind news reports--good news doesn't sell newspapers, or keep viewers entertained. News agencies are motivated by sales, entertainment value, and keeping the listener/viewer from touching that dial.

And yet . . .

My current reading is Heather Lende's Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Sounds nice, doesn't it? A feel-good kind of book? 

First chapter--2 1/2 pages in, Heather Lende is riding her bicycle on one of the first spring days and is hit by a truck.

She's medevaced to Seattle (she lives in Haines, Alaska) for treatment, rehab, and continuing therapies for nine months.

Okay, I hear you saying, so what's your point? It's not a feel-good story?

My point is this: The premise of the book isn't how nearly fatal the accident was; it's about the community effort that contributed to Lende's recovery.

Here's a quotation from the jacket:

"Family and friends cooked her meals, revamped her house, and got her back on her feet. Hers was a singular event, but the truth is, by the time we reach a certain age, most of us have been hit by a truck in one way or another. Lende shows us that our responses to those setbacks have everything to do with faith."

We can appreciate the magnitude of community effort when we learn Lende has a husband and five children. 

Of course there's this sticky wicket--my good news may not be your good news. 

Bird Food
Take our rain (please!). We've had more than our share lately. Farmers are either replanting or not planting or considering other lines of work. Lawn care businesses are trying to schedule mowings between the showers (I expect to hear them out at midnight one of these times). Kids' sports get rained out. Ditto picnics, outdoor gatherings, weddings. . . . But maybe you need rain where you live. It's only early June but you might have flowers that can't seem to get enough to drink.

Maybe what I'm driving at is this: If we don't have bad news, how do we know what good news is?

If we never have disappointments, do we recognize fulfilling events?

My little eye-blink that nearly missed "good news!" on the weather report caused me to back up and read more slowly. Made me think about how we react to good news--and to bad news. 

I wish there were more good-news stories out there. But I'm finding there are plenty of them, if we look for them.

Maybe that's the point--we have to look for good stuff. It may be small stuff. Really small stuff. And then we need to celebrate it, remember it, share it with friends and family. Good stuff can grow by being shared.

Have you had good news today? I hope so. It may be on your phone, in your newspaper, hanging out in your mailbox. . . . Keep looking.

Good news?

Thursday, June 1, 2017


Did you turn your calendar page this morning? 

We are now in the 6th month of this year 2017.

Merriam Webster online says:

Origin and Etymology of june
Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French Juin, from Latin Junius
First Known Use: 1598

So now you know.

Somehow, June snuck up on me...I was paying attention, really I was: A few weeks ago we had April, and then a few days later it was May, and though May had 31 days, they slipped through the cracks and here I am in June. And it's a short month!

Yes, I know you understand what somehow means--as people, um, mature, time seems to go faster. 

Before you carve that on stone tablets, ask some elementary school/middle school/high school kids about how fast time goes. School's out at most schools in my neck of the woods--and they're saying they can't figure out how time got away. Uh-huh. Apparently happens to everybody.

You'll probably be able to come up with some folks who think time has stopped for them. But for the rest of us, time not only marches purely races down the track.

Welcome to June!

Here are some thoughts on June to entertain you:

Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June. 
--Al Bernstein

There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand. 
--Charles Morgan

There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter. 
--Billy Connolly

There's something I love about how stark the contrast is between January and June in Sweden. 
--Bill Skarsgard

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? 
--Dr. Seuss

My oldest daughter has made a family calendar for us several years now. Each month has pictures from family archives plus a quotation. Here's the one for June, 2017:

     If a June night could talk, it would probably
     boast it invented romance.
          --Bern Williams

Whether your June nights are romantic or just plain vanilla, enjoy!

The surprise of the Surprise Lily never grows old!