July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!  We've had a lovely long weekend, celebrating with family and the extra days off have given me a chance to read, sew and relax a little.  Today my husband will grill and I'll make a few side dishes, topped off with our yummy banana pudding-southern style.  Today is extra special, as we have the opportunity to "regard the day" with my mother.  Some of the photos I'm using today were taken during our wonderful trip to Newburyport, Boston, Lexington and Concord with her back in 2011.  
We've been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star

Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream

In Newburyport we discovered this first settlers monument, which lists our ancestor, Giles Badger who traveled to the colonies in the early 1630s.  He sailed on the Mary and John along with the other brave travelers listed here to begin a new life near Boston.

Newburyport at evening - the church bell was cast by Paul Revere

In Boston we were able to walk onboard the USS Constitution

and from a distance we could see the Bunker Hill Memorial.  

The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, but the majority of the combat took place on nearby Breed's Hill.  Giles' great-grandson, Joseph Badger, fought in that battle. He had entered the Revolutionary Army about three weeks after the contest at Lexington, when he was eighteen years old. 

To a new and a shiny place
Make our bed and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

I'll let his owns words tell the story...
"I was enrolled in Captain Nathan Watkin's company, Colonel John Patterson's regiment, and stationed at Fort No. 3, near Litchmore's Point. At the time of the battle on Breed's Hill, Patterson's regiment was posted on Cobble Hill, in a line with the front of our battery, about a half a mile distant.  We could see the fire from the whole line; the British broke their ranks and ran down the hill. But on the third return to the charge, they carried the works at the point of the bayonet."

Joseph endured smallpox, the ague, exhaustion, starvation, and bitter weather, but held fast to his belief in the right of the colonies to self-govern. He fought both the British and the Indians, and at one point served under Benedict Arnold, before Arnold became a traitor.   "At this time I had been six weeks without a change of shirts, having lost all my clothes in the retreat, and most of the time very much incommoded with vermin.  I had repeatedly to put off my shirt, wash it without soap, wring it, and put it on again. Was greatly distressed with a cutaneous disease, until some time in August; built a fire beside a large log, a little out of the camp and roasted with brimstone and grease, which cured the itch."

On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again,
They're coming to America


His memoirs tell the story of bravery - young men fighting battles for the idea of liberty and freedom, far from home and with little in the way of supplies to keep them going.  While no one likes the idea of war, these men and women of the colonies believed in the rightness and purpose of their actions. Today I pay homage to these brave ancestors of mine and their pursuit of a better life here in America.

Everywhere around the world
They're coming to America
Ev'ry time that flag's unfurled
They're coming to America

A liberty salute goes out to my father's ancestor, Christian Singrey, who came to the Colonies from Switzerland in 1753 and served as a surgeon in George Washington's camp. Captain John Raines, named "Golong" for his abilities as a long hunter in Tennessee during the war.  William Pendleton Raines, who fought in Virginia. And of course, Joseph Badger, who had this to say about their actions almost two hundred and fifty years ago:

"When I entered the army it was from principle, in defense of the civil and religious rights of our country. The "tea" affair was well known; and the design of introducing taxation and or prohibiting domestic manufactures, were well understood; and the apprehension of being governed bylaws which we had no voice in making, with other grievances, determined the people generally to defend themselves against what appeared to be a tyrannical and oppressive government."

Towards the end of his life, Joseph, who attended Yale College after the War, and then served as a circuit rider in the wilds of Ohio, preaching to settlers there for almost fifty years, penned these final words to his grandchildren in his memoirs:  "Make yourselves well versed in geography, and the history of your country, and of the world, so far as you can.  Cultivate a benevolent spirit."  I hope we have made you proud, Joseph. 

My country 'tis of thee (today)
Sweet land of liberty (today)
Of thee I sing (today)
Of thee I sing
Today, Today, Today
Today, today, today......

June 28, 2017

...the revery alone will do

First camping trip of the year - and oh my, was it exciting in unexpected ways!  I think it's worth more than one post, to build the suspense a little.  We had never camped at this state park before, so after unpacking and settling in (which included an unscheduled trip to the nearest town to replace the forgotten air mattress!) a stroll down a few of the country lanes was in order.  Wildflowers and prairie grasses took center stage this time instead of one of the Great Lakes, and my quiet strolls, camera in hand, truly gave me back the breathing space I'd been sorely missing.  Here's a small sampling of the beauty I enjoyed...

Cattails ringed a nearby slough
 And shy little wildflowers poked through the grasses
I know a plain old fashioned farmhouse down a pretty little lane
 Where yellow daisies make a pathway to the fields of golden grain.
~~Al Jolson (from the song Black Eyed Susan) 

“With a bound, the sun of a molten fiery red came above the horizon, and immediately thousands of little birds sang out for joy, and a soft chorus of mysterious, glad murmurs came forth from the earth; the low whispering wind left its hiding-place among the clefts and hollows of the hills, and wandered among the rustling herbs and trees, waking the flower-buds to the life of another day.” ~~Elizabeth Gaskell  (from Ruth, published 1853)

I'm going back to a shack where the Black-eyed Susans grow 
I love'em so, they're all around on the ground 
where I found the one I know so long ago. ~~Al Jolson

Aren't these little buds beautiful?  They reminded me of lovely lace.  Maybe they are worn by fairies in the moonlight?

And of course the wild clover, nestled in among the prairie grasses, brought this favorite Emily Dickinson poem to mind...

To make a prairie
it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a gee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

And goodness knows, surrounded by all the natural beauty at the park, I had revery to spare!!

Here's a question about tomorrow's post...I take pictures of wildflowers when I go on a hike.  But what does my son do when he's out hiking with his girlfriend?  Find out tomorrow!



May 31, 2017

...be wild and perfect for a moment

Thank you, spring.  You've finally unpacked your bags, hung your clothes in the closet, and tucked away your toiletries in the guest bathroom.  We're delighted you've decided to stay awhile and we look forward to a long and lovely visit.  My garden, described so beautifully by Emily Dickinson, is an experiment in green. As I write this morning the window in front of my writing desk is cracked open so early morning birdsong can encourage me as I carefully choose my words and photos.  Yoo-hoo, cries the black-capped chickadee from the pine tree, while the scarlet cardinal trills merrily on the nearby telephone pole. My heart answers with its own song - praise for the sunrise, thanksgiving for another day, a heady gladness/madness in the spring.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown—
Who ponders this tremendous scene—
This whole Experiment of Green—
As if it were his own!

We planted this creamy white rose bush several years ago in memory of our sweet Shih Tzu, Belle.  Emily's poem about "another garden" seems the right verse to pair with this lovely memorial rose...

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/there-is-another-sky-by-emily-dickinson
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/there-is-another-sky-by-emily-dickinson
 There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there; 
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come! 

It rained last night, so I was able to capture the lovely raindrops glistening in the early morning sunlight early this morning...

The pretty Rain from those sweet Eaves
Her unintending Eyes --
Took her own Heart, including ours,
By innocent Surprise --
The wrestle in her simple Throat
To hold the feeling down
That vanquished her -- defeated Feat --
Was Fervor's sudden Crown -- 

Although Emily D. was passionate about her gardens and according to her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, there were "ribbons of peony hedges" at the Dickinson homestead, the poet never wrote about one of my very favorite spring flowers, the peony.  Fortunately Mary Oliver wasn't silent about these fragrant and lovely blooms...

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —

and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/there-is-another-sky-by-emily-dickinson

May 25, 2017

 Image result for sometimes the littlest things

Didn't we just celebrate a Very Important Person's third birthday? Yet here it is, just two days later and it's whoo-hoo-let's-celebrate ANOTHER VIP birthday girl - Miss Madison Marie!  What a whirlwind year it has been - learning to creep, then to crawl, and now mastering those first few steps!  And all the while charming our family with your adorable, Julia Roberts mega-watt smile...

From the moment you entered our world, we loved you heart and soul.  And of course, your resemblance to your daddy didn't go unnoticed...

Michael Ryan
Madison Marie

 Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains...

And who could possibly resist a darling little ginger?!

She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes...

Your first breath took ours away...

Before you were born...
We dreamed of you, we imagined you,
we prayed for you. Now that you are here,
we hope for you, we love you, and
we thank God for you. 

Happy first birthday, darling girl!

May 24, 2017

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today...

Oh, spring, how you have teased us this year!  A golden day tantalizes us and we all rush outside without sweaters to bask in the sunshine.  A blissful moment of birdsong and heady visions of blooming flowers, only to be replaced the next day with dreary gray skies and chilly weather.  Thank heaven I have been able to enjoy indoor blooms from my geraniums and hibiscus, overwintered in my solarium.

Finally, spring danced back into our lives and my garden slowly began a slow teasing minuet...

Dainty lilac buds undulating in the breeze...

Fragrant hyacinths peeking out from the grass...

and delicate bleeding hearts sending a little love to lift my winter-weary spirits...

Who wouldn't lift a prayer to welcome back this season of re-birth and promise and hope?  I stand with Robert Frost, who suggests in his Prayer that we enjoy these beautiful moments of sunshine and flowers and not look to the uncertain future. Each day is a gift - let us unwrap it and enjoy it as a special present from the Universe!

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

"A Prayer in Spring" by Robert Frost
from Collected Poems, Prose & Plays.

May 23, 2017


Happy birthday, sweet Lily!  May your day be filled with love and hugs and high fives and sweet  kisses from your adoring little sister.


 Grandchildren are sunshine to the soul...


Something magical happens when parents turn into grandparents...

Grandmothers are the people who delight in hearing babies breathing into the telephone...

First she was one...
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
 And then she was two...

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling 

And now she is three, still the sweetest and most loving little girl I have ever known, and trust me, I'm not a bit biased on this subject! We can't wait to celebrate with her at her very special PURPLE  PARTY this weekend.  Grandma just might have a purple present for her!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

Your special flowers are blooming in my garden, Lily, in honor of your special day!

February 23, 2017

Just another day of sun...

Hello! I was going to write about our grand adventures in the Caribbean as soon as we arrived home, but an annoying cough turned into bronchitis which then turned into walking pneumonia, and now here I am, weeks after vacation and nary a post or picture in sight!

Yesterday's weather was so gosh-darn beautiful that I was content to live in the moment - windows down, moon roof open and music blaring as I drove through brilliant sunshine on my way to work.  In February. In Wisconsin.  Today, however, clouds, gray skies and the promise of rain and/or snow are all making me long for the Dominican Republic again!  I hope all of my South Dakota, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin friends don't get the snowfall amounts that are being predicted, but just in case here are a few pictures that you can use to escape the coming storm.  Close your eyes, add a little background music and daydream about white sand beaches, ocean waves and pina coladas served on the beach!

Here are "our" beach chairs.  Phil walked down to the beach early every morning to claim the perfect chairs, which offered a restorative view of the white sand beach and the ocean!  Mp3 players, headphones, books, towels, sunscreen, and my camera...perfect companions for relaxing days.  I kept hitting the repeat button for Another day of sun from the LaLa Land soundtrack over and over and over again!

And while we lounged all day by the beach, here was our view...

Ah yes, our Born Free kite!  It goes where we go, this time tucked safely in Phil's golf bag.  It makes my heart soar to see it flying high, bringing back such great memories of my Dad, who designed this one as a special gift to us. Can you spot my intrepid kite flyer on the beach?!  He drew quite a crowd before the wind died down and he had to pack it up.

 Meanwhile, back on the lounge chair, important decisions awaited - which book to tackle first?!  Did I want to hang out with CIA spies, an intrepid private investigator or Jesus?  (Answer: always Jesus, of course, but this was actually Phil's book so he read Roman and Jewish history while I hung out with the spies)

 And even though Vince Flynn has sadly passed, his carefully chose successor writes a very believable Mitch Rapp story!

 Ok, truly, you'll have to believe me on this.  The book title below is only a title - it had nothing to do with whether I might have become best friends with the friendly bartenders at the beach bar right behind us, and since this was an all-inclusive resort, might have enjoyed all the lovely free pina coladas a sun-starved Wisconsin girl could ask for...

Hmm...well, there is this photo that might tell a different story...

More to come in my next post, but in the meantime stay warm!  Here is a great poem by Joyce Sutphen - being alive does indeed have its attractions. And oh yes, I most definitely want to sit in the sun and rub my toes in the sand at the beach again!

The Idea of Living

It has its attractions,
chiefly visual: all those
shapes and lines, hunks
of color and light (the way
the gold light falls across
the lawn in early summer,
the iridescent blue floating
on the lake at sunset),
and being alive seems
to be a necessity if you want
to sit in the sun or rub your
toes in the sand at the beach.
You need to be breathing
in order to eat paella and
drink sangria, and making love
is quite impossible without
a body, unless you are one
of those, given - like gold -
to spin in airy thinness forever.

"The Idea of Living" by Joyce Sutphen from Modern Love & Other Myths.  
Red Dragonfly Press, 2015.