“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.” Maya Angelou

Everything about my kitchen is personal. From the floor on which I stand, which was hand placed stone to the foods that I prepare. There is something very sensual about cooking. I slice and dice and mix by hand. I want to touch the ingredients that will be shared with loved ones. I want to put some of myself into each of my meals.

When my children were young, I had to buy the pre-sliced and often the pre-boxed things. Once they were grown, I found I had time for the pleasures of cooking from scratch. I learned to enjoy wine. I learned how to slice and dice. I learned how to rub spices on meat. I engaged in the rhythmic massage of creating a bread dough and rolling it out.

Cooking by hand relaxes me. It takes me to an unhurried, peaceful place. My days are so frantic. My kitchen is my spa.



Soils of Life

As many of you know, we broke ground for the new addition to our historic home. It involved renting a track hoe to dig the deep vault for the cellar stair well and then a more shallow trench for the footers on the perimeter of the planned addition. The track hoe got most of the dirt out.  The track hoe was the easy part. Well, as long as the shovel didn’t hit the historic old brick house!

Then we had to crawl into the trenches and the cellar vault to ‘square the corners’ and ‘straighten the sides’. My back complains when I pick up a shovel, so I sat in the dirt with my little spade and threw spade fulls of loose dirt up and over the trench edge. There was a mixture of soils, and rocks, to get out of the trench. The rocks were occasionally large. We unearthed many beautiful foundation stones. Some of the dirt just fell into my little spade and was easily thrown out of the trench. Then there was the clay. Stubborn, hard to move, clay. I had to practicallyscrape it; layer by layer to get it to budge. It was a slow, strenuous process.

As I dug through the variety of soils, I kept thinking about life. Life has many issues: health, wealth, relationships, jobs, duties, responsibilities… the list goes on. I thought of life issues like the different soils in this trench.

Rocks-obsticles that drop into your life. You can leave them and make a lovely rock garden around them. You can perhaps stack them and create a water feature. You can handle them and remove them from your path.

Dirt-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache.

Clay-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache. But with the clay, the issues were not processes. They got stuck in the mire. They compacted over time. They stubbornly would not forgive nor forget. They hardened over time and then were even more difficult to deal with.

We all have rocks and dirt that come into our lives. Packing them down and hoarding them in our hearts places us in danger of living in the clay.

“We need the compassion and the courage to change the conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions are things like ignorance, bitterness, negligence, clinging, and holding on.” Sharon Salzberg

Predicting Change

“A building does not have to be an important work of architecture to become a first-rate landmark. Landmarks are not created by architects. They are fashioned by those who encounter them after they are built. The essential feature of a landmark is not its design, but the place it holds in a city’s memory.” Herbert Muschamp

We live in a home that was built about 200 years ago. One of the families lived in this house for nearly 100 years. That was from 1840s to the 1940s-a time of significant changes. When I first walked into the house, I could sense hundreds of souls. I felt a good feeling from the house. I felt it was a ‘helping house’.

I told myself that I must be mistaken. Even with the age of the house and the multiple owners, there surely wouldn’t have been that many souls. Yet, as we have worked on restoring the house, we have discovered hints that the house might have been a station along the Underground Railroad. That could explain the number of souls passing through and certainly the ‘helpful’ sense the house held.

In January of this year, I did not know about the Daily Blog. I have only recently discovered this delightful site. My prediction in January was that we would be working on this house. The original clay baked brick house had to be gutted, pulled up and pushed in. Somewhere along the line a wooden addition was added. It had rotted to a point of dis-repair. We had to have it demolished with a goal to rebuild the addition. This week, after a year of thoughtful planning and city historic planning commission meetings, we broke ground for the new addition. The year is turning out as I had expected, and hoped.

We love living in this house. It is in a constant state of restoration. A little like a life. Every day we encounter new decisions: what to keep, what to change, what to throw out. Just like in life. As I grow, I am constantly deciding what to keep, what to change and what to throw out. Not just material things, but in my thoughts and behaviors.

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” Hugh Prather


Humane Association

Humane Association

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Roger Caras

Oddly enough, to feel more human, I interact with non-humans. We have a Bichon puppy named Scampi. He entertains me and makes me laugh. His interest in life and his playful curiosity remind me of natural pleasures. He reminds me to see the fun.

Fun is around us. Fun is within us. My friends used to tell me that ‘fun’ was my middle name. Maybe it was because I am Irish. Irish people know how to have fun. The day to day responsibilities attempt to rob me of fun. They can make me forget to look for the fun. Scampi pulls me from my responsible, busy world. His antics entice me to laugh. Laughter lightens my soul and I can see the fun again.



Re-United Treasure

Re-United Treasure

What do I say to this kind gentleman who wants to help me find something? I didn’t come in here to look around. I came in to hide from the storm! Wonder if he might have a towel?

“No thank you, sir. I just want to look around a little.” At least until this storm is past. How long can this thunderstorm last anyway? Her grumpy response to the interruption of her day was annoying her. “Don’t be grumpy” she told herself. “Look around. Maybe you were meant to come in here.” Who uses this stuff, she wondered as her mood began to shift a little. My family has been throwing things like this away for years. Who knew there was a market?

She had never been in an antique store before. It was a little intriguing. She liked the chestnut table. The old hats had too much of a musky oder. She could’t wear them. But hats are coming back. She decided to try one on just for fun. She giggled as she looked at herself in an old mirror.

She continued to browse with her interest increasing. Something about the old photos drew her. The shopkeeper had an entire section of old photos, some in boxes, with a few in old frames. Hanging in the back corner was an old painting of three children. Three sisters by a piano. She was immobilized as she stared at that painting. She knew those children. How could she? That painting looked like it was created in the 1800’s. She had to have that painting. She asked the shop keeper if he could get it down for her. As he did, her eyes filled with tears. How could she be so affected by this painting?

She sat at the back of the shop where the owner served coffee and biscuits. She could not stop looking at the painting of the three children. They were her children. Sarah, Esther, and Mary. Little Mary. She died shortly after that painting. As she sipped her coffee, her memories wove around the life that was hidden within her. She was so grateful that the storm had come and chased her into this store. Otherwise, she would never have entered it. She would never have found this part of her past. This delightful life with her beautiful girls. She had simply sought refuge from the storm, and found a treasure.

“The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.” Cesare Pavese 


The Candle Burns

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman

Slide1 This is a poem I wrote about a year ago. I felt I was in danger of losing my fire, my enthusiasm, and my joy. Life can pull at you from many directions. There are times when I think we have to pull back and mend the wick.

I love to see older people laugh. It is inspiring for me to know that it is possible to maintain a sense of humor as we go through the twists and turns of life. I also see older people who are cynical. They can be difficult and draining to talk to. They eek negativity on any given subject.

So how do I maintain my sense of humor and avoid cynicism? After all, when people disappoint you, you begin to question their motives. That is the birth of cynicism.

I think one way to avoid cynicism, and the theft of  your enthusiasm, is to stop trying to figure out the motives of others. Omniscience is out of our reach. Remembering that helps me let go and consequently embrace my own life. 

Embracing my journey, knowing that what ever happens in my life, is part of me-it has been allowed for a reason-it molds me into who I am. What hard part of my life would I erase? I may want to erase them, but they are what nurtured me and urged my soul to anchor deep. They, in the end, brought me a sense of being centered.

So, as I wrinkle, I am hopeful that the smile wrinkles come first. I desire that the spark in my old eyes will provide warmth to another on their journey. 

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing.” Maurice Chevalier


Travel on the Edge

“A traveler sees what he sees, a tourist sees what he has come to see.” Gilbert K Chesterton

If time and money were not a limiting factor, yet I had to travel by car, I would choose to travel  the coast of our North and South American continents. My itinerary would take me to the New Jersey Shore and from there I would begin my coastal loop.

While there are certainly things to see inland, I am refreshed by the ocean. I am intrigued by the life in the water. Life that has it’s own rhythm, and rules of survival. Oceans that we travel, but we cannot control. The rhythmic surge of the waves as they cease their ocean voyage; sometimes with a gentle snuggle, sometimes with a roaring crash.

The coast grows out of the expression of the nearby water. So it is with our lives. We are molded by our immediate surroundings. Sometimes we are full of peace and gentle contentment. Sometimes we are troubled with turbulence.The storm can be fierce and we fear we will drown.

It is interesting to watch the shipmen along the shore when they know a storm is brewing. The novice sailor will attempt to tie the boat down to every board on the dock. The seasoned sailor will take out his boat, and anchor deep. “Let ‘er ride out the storm. She’ll rock and roll, but she’ll stay afloat!” So it is when I face storms; I have learned to anchor deep.

The people I have met at coastal cities seem to have found their sense of community. They need and rely on one another.

My coastal trip will introduce to me new places and I will meet new people. I anticipate that I will come home with a new life.