May 31, 2017 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!

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!

 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!


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...
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 And then she was two...

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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!

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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.

January 16, 2017

My fireplace mantel is now sporting vintage Valentines and my china cabinet banner now reads LOVE, but I'm still just a wee bit in holiday mode, as I get ready to share the rest of my "Grandma projects" with you.  I had so much fun creating these special gifts, and of course with every stitch went a prayer for my darling granddaughters.  

First up were the girls' Christmas ornaments.  I had made this little ornament when their daddy was born in 1984, and stitched it again for Miss Lily two years ago.  This year it was Madison's turn...

Last year I started a series of ornaments for Lily based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. That way I don't have to think about what each year's ornament will be...I just follow the song!  Last year, of course, was the partridge...

which made this  a turtle dove year...

During the fall I had started a little name sampler for Lily, which I think turned out so cute, with little bears spelling out her name.  Thank heavens she has a short first name, and not something like Francesca or Seraphina!

I had wanted to make something similar for Madison, but by the time I finished Lily's project, I didn't think I had time for another seven letters, so I opted for her initial instead.  In order to make it a little extra special I wrapped the mat in a fun baby print I had discovered - the fabric colors matched perfectly with the embroidery floss.

I loved the fabric so much, with its sweet little forest animals, that I decided to make my first little vintage stuffed bear to match.  When my son was born, my sister made a little bear that he literally loved to pieces - I only have one little eye left! I thought perhaps Miss Madison might enjoy having a bear to love as well.

I found this pattern online, and figured since it was so basic perhaps I could manage it...

 You can find the instructions for your own bear here.

 Stitching her sweet little face was a little intimidating, but don't you love her smile?  Her
eyes and nose called for a LOT of satin stitching, which I hadn't really done before. 

And here she is, all gussied up with a frothy white lace bow, ready for all sorts of hugs and Christopher-Robin type adventures!

Since Lily loves books so much, I thought a "dress-up trunk" would give her a scope for imagination, as Anne (of Green Gables) was fond of saying.  I chose Fancy Nancy, Ladybug Girl and Cinderella and had such fun choosing items for her dress-up box.  Feather boas, tutus, jewelry, glass slippers and tiaras all made an appearance, plus, as you can see below, ladybug wings and antenna!

My most ambitious project was her Cinderella dress.  Earlier this fall I was cleaning out my closet, and came across my blue bridesmaid's dress from my sister's wedding twenty-five years ago.  I realized the color and fabric would be perfect for a Cinderella dress!  It even had the lace appliques that matched the beautiful lace we all lovingly stitched and trimmed with pearls on my sister's wedding dress.  I thought it would be a loving way to recycle the dress and include all the happy memories of that special day. 

I set out with far more optimism than expertise, and soon discovered that cutting an adult dress down to toddler size was way more difficult than starting from scratch, but many late nights (and I do mean late!) and a dogged determination to not give up finally yielded the perfect princess dress for Lily...

And there, my friends, are the projects that kept me busy all fall and away from my blog.  But I wouldn't trade a second at the sewing machine when I saw all their smiles on Christmas Day, and hopefully years from now the girls will have fond memories and keepsakes of all the love their Grandmother stitched into their gifts.  

But now, just when I've returned to blogging more steadily - it's time to announce I'll be taking a break the next couple of weeks! Santa said I was very, very good this last year and deserved a small respite from work and winter and snow and ice and gray, gloomy days.  Therefore, Santa and I are off to the Dominican Republic for some much needed relaxation and sunshine, and I can't wait to share our adventures with you on my return!  Until then, please remember that

Today is a good day for a good day!