Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Little Song of Life

"Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue;
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.

After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun;
This is the way of life,
Till the work be done."

Lizette Woodworth Reese

"After the rain the sun." Thank heavens. When we go through a particularly bad spell, it is a relief and a blessing to think of those words. I love this poem, "A Little Song of Life," from one of my favorite books (given to me by one of my best friends, Marilyn) Silver Pennies-Modern Poems for Boys and Girls, published in 1933.

Tonight we will take down our little living tree and tomorrow we'll plant it outside our front door. It is a bittersweet time for me, thinking of the promises of the new year, but wondering-WHAT HAPPENED TO 2009???? I keep asking myself if I'm wasting too much of the precious time I have left, but I guess it is not wasting time when you're enjoying every step of the journey.

This morning I continued our family tradition of cutting the bare and sleeping branches of a fruit tree to bring indoors. Although these twigs look lifeless, I know that in a few weeks, in the middle of a dark and cold day, tiny bundles of green life, and tissue paper petals of white will fill our home with the promise of spring.

Until next time, I thank you all for your friendship and for your long letters and e-mails.

Happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year,


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Blessings

This is the time of year when memories flow through me like a clear mountain stream. I love the traditions of the holiday season, and my greatest joy is tending them the way a gardener tends her herbs.

What are holidays without baking? Sara May and I spent time together this week baking cookies. Without any prompting from me, she made a faerie-sized platter of tiny cookies and tucked them into her faerie mailbox to share with our tiny garden visitors.

Sara and her Amma baking cookies
Freshly baked cookies for the faerie...
...tucked into her faerie mailbox

Out come the Christmas Cove Designs hand knit stockings from Maine-one for each child. Four miniature stockings will magically appear on the faerie mailboxes on Christmas morning, stuffed with tiny whimsical gifts.

I remember how each Christmas Eve I searched my grandparent's tree for three things that always hung from the lower limbs. A bright red apple, which honored my Bopie's best friend Bob Lee. A potato, and I can't remember who that was for (but it could've been me), and a carrot, the favorite vegetable of my Bopie's brother.

Edwardian Squirrel
Since my grandparents passed, I've kept that tradition alive, along with some of my own. At the top of our tree is a glass eyed Edwardian squirrel who once decorated a fancy lady's hat, but now reigns supreme over our celebrations. A hundred paper origami cranes, a symbol of peace, were hand folded for me by my daughter-in-law. The multi-colored birds perch happily on every branch of the tree. An old clip on chickie, an early 1900's Santa, a birdhouse my husband made from a walnut, and a Santa Claus painted mussel shell from Burnt Island, Maine, are all keepsakes of many Christmases past.

Walnut bird house and origami crane ornaments
Mussel Shell ornament from Burnt Island, Maine, off the coast of Boothbay Harbor

I'm sick in bed today and missing a much anticipated gathering at the home of a special friend talented illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson and her husband Fred. I'll take this missed opportunity as a time to wrap stocking stuffers and a time to reflect on the blessings I've been granted–a good family, dear friends (and that includes YOU, my invisible, but ever present blog friends), good health (today excepted), the love of simple pleasures, and the ability to make a living doing something that gives me joy.

Thank you all for your enduring friendship (that includes YOU, Eleanor, friend for 40 years)!



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Candlelight and Friendship

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well."

Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, from A Room of One's Own

Before the whirlwind hit the kitchen

Phew, I made it. For the past week I fretted over the upcoming storm. Don't get me wrong; I wanted the storm; we need the water; but I wanted it AFTER the gathering at our little house. To have a comfortable sit-down dinner, we needed to use the farm table under the grape arbor as well as the long harvest table in our dining room.

My friend Kary and I talked on and off during the week. Kary's husband John was to be the bbq man, and I was worried about him working in a storm-all alone, but my luck held. The clouds broke, the sun shone through and slowly a trickle, then a rush of my oldest friends arrived with FABULOUS foods in hand.

Ciro Pasciutto's homemade bread and Susie and Ellis Bassetti's focaccia

When we all gathered in a circle in our kitchen, I felt my eyes fill with tears. As I scanned each face, I saw the history of friendship–Kary, David and Julee, Steve and Heli, and my someday husband had all helped me move to Cambria in 1982. Patrick and Susan had provided Noah and me with a home we could afford, Susie and Ellis were two of our first friends (Susie filled Heart's Ease with her legendary wreaths). Vicki and Dick, Bonny and Lee, Ginny, who is a friend from both Maine and Santa Barbara, Kim and Ciro, Johnny the bbq King, and Karin...all a part of the colorful patchwork of my life.