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Just Right

It was a very fine day in May. Sunny and clear. Not too hot, nor too cold – a “just right” sort of day to marry.

A limousine pulled up to the door and the bride was carefully arranged inside, her bouquet set delicately next to her on the car seat by her mother, who was much calmer than the bride had imagined her mother would be.

The door was carefully closed by the attentive driver. The bride’s mother sat down in her own car and was driven away by a friend as the bride was chauffeured off to meet her groom at the church.

As the limousine driver steered the car down the byways and highways en route to the ceremony, he spoke with the bride. A kindly man with a gentlemanly way about him, he asked a simple question one might ask in the moments of moving toward a wedding.

“What will your married name be?” 

O’Neill. My name will be Penny O’Neill.” 

As he drove, he looked into the rear view mirror, which was positioned to see both the traffic outside and his passenger within.

“A very nice name, Penny, but, you will be often called Peggy, from the song Peggy O’Neil”. 

The limousine driver’s prophecy proved to be true, and so it has been that as the young bride grew older she has, indeed, often been called Peggy. In fact, just yesterday, having introduced herself to a couple she had not yet met, the gentleman held out his hand and said

“It is nice to meet you, Peggy.”

She smiled, corrected the mistake and remembered the kind driver’s prediction on that “just right” sort of day, now 44 years ago. She smiled at the ever-sweet memory and she silently counted her blessings as she drove herself home to the prince who still waits for her –  and who knows her true name.

At the Deli Counter

I grabbed a numbered ticket from the dispenser then bobbed to and fro like a robin looking for a worm. I was perusing the long deli case to see what was on sale, what looked good, what I shouldn’t eat, etc. Low numbered grazers took their places close to the counter, while shoppers like me, in for a dozen or so numbers,  stepped back. Shopping carts were parked near the olive island or over by the cheese section where samples were set out.

We needed sliced turkey. We don’t go in for the fancy stuff; no mesquite or honey glazed for us, though they are tempting choices, especially when shopping hungry.

I stood, rocking from foot to foot, checking my ticket stub in case I forgot my number (it happens). I mentally selected my turkey choice. I remember when there were only a few choices of turkey to choose from. Actually, I remember when there were no choices of turkey to choose from, but, I digress.

Another shopper and I struck up a conversation. We both liked the store, the cashiers, the floral department – a good place to shop. She asked my opinion of Lacey Swiss cheese and we noted how busy it was for the time of day.

Talk. Chit chat. Two ladies waiting for thin slice or thick.

Our trail of words turned a corner to Brie. Had I tried the Brie in the cheese section? It was, she said, outstanding, and that she wanted to go over and thank the attendant cheesemonger who had given her a sample last time she was in, which she did right then and there.

My deli companion then told me she was a caretaker for an elderly woman. The woman’s best friend had just passed away. She was terribly sad. Upon tasting the brie, my deli companion said she put some in her cart, along with some apricot jam and specialty crackers and brought them as a treat, a small indulgence, for her charge – and that made all the difference in the woman’s day and in her demeanor.

My number came up.

I waved my ticket like a banner and stepped forward, but, first I gave my kind deli companion a little hug and thanked her. Such chance encounters often become a balm for my soul; reminders of the simple things that make life a wee bit sweeter in sour times. Brie and crackers, thanking the cheesemonger, just taking the time to chat –  a simply remarkable slice of time at the deli counter.

How about you? Any chance encounters that soothed your soul recently?

 

Spring Attire

First, the woody stems swell,


then a tight bud pushes forth and changes,

a petal at a time,

from winter wear into a silken skirt. Stylish Springtime flair..

Tree Peonies.

The epitome of how to dress for tea.

half a mind
to dress up and bow down
to the peony
~ Shiki

Lucky Day

It has been awhile since I’ve picked a book up and was unable to put it down. I have had a good run of audio books, but, one can only spend so much time “reading” in the car, so, I took my chances when “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit” called to me at one of the libraries I frequent.

The La Grange Library has several racks of new books, movies, and audio just beyond the entryway. Upon those racks, are a few select shelves of books with a bright yellow sticker proclaiming LUCKY DAY. These are often newer releases and popular books; books readers hope to get their hands on but haven’t been able to.

Michael Finkel’s “The Stranger in the Woods . . . ” stood there, looking directly at the door as if waiting just for me to enter. On my honor, it beckoned me, held my gaze, and what was I to do? I snatched it up and moseyed on down (well, actually on up) to a comfortable spot, sat down, peeked between the covers, and promptly checked the book out.

LUCKY DAY books are granted for one only one week. They can be renewed.

A shy, intelligent, twenty year old man from a peaceful Massachusetts childhood takes off one day, leaving his family, his job, his possessions and his new car and walks into an unfamiliar Maine woods where he remains, alone, for twenty-seven years.

Chris Knight survives brutal winters and never-ending solitude hidden in a small, well hidden clearing in the forest, amazingly close to others. He is content with his existence there. No one notices him. He lives by his wits – and by burglarizing the summer cabins nearby, as well as a summer camp. He takes only what he needs to survive, including canned goods, soap, National Geographic magazines, sleeping bags, propane tanks, mattresses and batteries. He steals almost exclusively on moonless, early winter nights, hopping across rocks in the dark, never leaving tracks behind. He takes only from summer residences and the camp, leaving year-round homes untouched. He has robbed some 1,000 times.

Community members are perplexed, terrified (especially those who are robbed repeatedly) and troubled. Some blame their children or neighbors for missing things while others wonder if they are just becoming forgetful.

Chris Knight manages to avoid or disarm alarm systems, motion detectors and sensors. He is masterful at picking locks, opening windows and otherwise finding ways to enter, always leaving homes in good if depleted condition. He takes only what he needs to survive and understands that stealing is wrong!

One night, after setting up silent alarms, Sargeant Terry Hugh’s’ beeper goes off. He catches the thief, demands he hit the ground, calls in reinforcements and thus begins the end of decades of robbery and the beginning of this story about the fabled hermit, now known as Chris Knight.

Michael Finkel, a journalist who lives in Montana, first hears on the news of the arrest of Chris Knight, a loner with a hermit-like existence. He is curious about a man who had not spoken or interacted with anyone in more than two decades. Mr. Finkel writes a letter, includes copies of some of his own stories and sends them to Knight in prison. They correspond and Finkel eventually visits him there, attends his trial, and eventually writes this captivating story. I suspect will one day be a movie.

“The Stranger in the Woods; The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit ” was an enthralling narrative of 200 or so pages – and it left me hoping that no hermits were living here along the Cutoff.

Have you read an “un-put-downable” recently?

 

 

Hodgepodge

We used to make popcorn in a pan. The bigger the pan –  the more popcorn. The pan would be put on the stove top, the burner ignited, a few tablespoons  of oil and two or three kernels of popcorn would be added. Then, we would wait for those three kernels to pop, which often seemed like forever.

POP!  POP!  POP!

It seemed like forever to children waiting for an after school treat and to grown-ups needing a late-night snack. Eventually, that signature triad of pops indicating that the oil was hot enough would erupt and we knew it was THE MOMENT to put a cup or so of kernels into the pot, put on the lid, and pop the corn.

 Spring has felt much like that long wait for the first kernels of popcorn to pop.

Here in the Chicagoland area, we have had hot days and cold, stunning sunshine followed by endless days of gray and gloom and rain. It was actually been one of the warmest of Aprils with early blooming of seasonal bulbs, ephemerals and flowering trees. May Day, however, brought cool weather in the 40’s and endless rain. Creeks are filled to overflowing, rivers rush past well beyond their banks.

The many trails and paths I wander have been closed off, but, there are spots where the pavement is clear and evidence of springtime is apparent.

In our own little neck of the woods, the celandine poppies have been welcome bursts of sunshine, the tree peonies are ready to unfurl and the brunnera have not forgotten us.

Spring is always such a hopeful season to me. In spite of the weather, the turmoil that bubbles around the globe and the troubles that intrude into our lives, Spring eventually shows up!

So, dear readers, here’s to Spring (or Autumn) wherever you are planted – and here’s to popping corn!

Frost in Spring

There is always some room for Frost in Spring.

Robert Frost, that is.

Here is one of his poems, recently featured on The Writer’s Almanac. I find it fitting as we come to the end of National Poetry Month.


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.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

The traveling vase has been resurrected!

The vase been sitting on the chifforobe since Christmas, patiently gathering dust. It was last filled with flowers when my daughter, Jennifer, made a festive Christmas floral arrangement.

Last week, my friend Bev shared photos of some clever Easter arrangements using –

wait for it –

jelly Beans and Peeps!

I was up for the challenge.

I already had a bag of jelly beans sitting on a kitchen shelf and Marshmallow Peeps are readily available this time of year. My friend Marilyn suggested placing a jelly jar inside the vase; the jar to hold the flowers and to act as a barrier between the Peeps and Jelly Beans.  A jelly jar to keep Peeps in line and hold jelly beans in place!

I ended up putting a shot glass inside the jelly jar to hold some daffodils. Daffodils are toxic to other flowers in an arrangement, but, I knew I wanted to pick some from the garden to add to the spray roses and Hypericum berries I had purchased. Glass inside of glass allowed to use the flowers I chose.

Daffodils are putting on a sustained performance in our garden, now that Spring has finally arrived.

So it is that the traveling vase has once again traded hands, hopping down the bunny trail to Jennifer’s house. Who knows when it will return or what will hold, but, I know it will be special. Very special, indeed.

The story of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase begins here.

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