Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family and friends’ Category

Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé

How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,

and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,

so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn’t mention

that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle

the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and

who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki

Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though

your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked

up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive

that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them

before they went to bed and on the way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don’t put

on the résumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home. – Joyce Sutphen

(from You Tube)

This poem popped up in my email this morning from a daily subscription I receive. The poem, new to me, resonated with my own child raising years and bring to mind my grandchildren’s parents, Katy and Tom, and Jennifer, who sang these words over and over and over again. Perhaps, it will resonate with you in some way as well.

Poem from The Writers Almanac :  “Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé” Reproduced from Carrying Water to the Field: New and Selected Poems by Joyce Sutphen by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Forthcoming October 2019 with the University of Nebraska Press.

Bedtime from Francis as seen on Amazon.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This determined moonflower vine is clambering up and around our old, weather-worn wrought iron railing. It is twisting and turning and trailing, reaching upward and outward, fortifying itself with the stems and strength of nature’s own knots. A few small buds are hinting at the possibility of fragrant white flowers, which will be most welcomed some night soon. The vine, however, with its heart-shaped leaves, is a simple pleasure in itself.

I was sitting on our front porch, on a bright and glorious morning, and I could not help but reflect on the gathering we hosted the night before as I observed this trailing vine.

We were privileged to host a small gathering of members of our church community; young, and not so (Tom and I :)) and those in between. The bookends of life. We shared a meal amid the laughter of children, with a collective telling of stories, challenges, triumphs, gratitude and more. I love the communal conversation that often comes with the breaking of bread, just as I love the slow rising evening song of crickets and tree frogs as dusk becomes dark on a warm summer’s night.

So it was, the very next morning, that I found myself in a contemplative mood. I was perched on our weathered front porch, reflecting on the evening before and on the ways we reach out as a people, joining together like the stems of this moonflower vine. I thought what a fine day it was and of how fortunate I am for all who reach out and grab hold of me on this twisting and turning stem we call life – and of how grateful I am for all of you.

 

Read Full Post »

We waited, lined up on both sides of the track, wearing sun hats, setting up tripods, pushing babies in strollers. We were a mass of railroad buffs, history lovers, curiosity seekers, teens on bikes – and drones. The event was well promoted on local television, radio and social media. The Union Pacific Railroad’s No. 4014  Big Boy was coming our way and folks from all walks of life and all ages, could see the restored steam locomotive as it passed through the western suburbs of Chicago.

Those more technically savvy than I were tracking the Big Boy’s journey on their cell phones, announcing to all who could hear “it is in Des Plaines” or approaching the airport“. It was like awaiting the guest of honor at a surprise birthday party – only no one was hiding and the guest of honor couldn’t wait to blow us a steamy kiss.

I was a bit “incognito”, as I was not supposed to be out in the sun (but, you know me and I figured I could always blame it on my car that has been known to veer off course).

I digress.

My friend Louellen and I found each other amongst a growing crowd. Her lovely daughter proclaimed “it’s making the turn” then “it is in Berkeley” and then, there it was, chugging along into the downtown Elmhurst station. It felt like a grown-up version of Thomas the Train, and I found myself wishing our grandson Ezra could be with me as he would have enjoyed it.

We could hear it, at first, in the distance. We could hear the prolonged, mournful wail of the train, see the billowy puff of charcoal smoke, then feel the vibrations and see the steam pour forth as we all experienced the clickety-clack of a different era and long distance rail travel.

Oh, dear friends, we cheered, we waved, we oohed over the gracious club cars and we felt the train’s whistle deep in our chests as babies slept in their parents’ arms, with men and women in business attire who left their desks and computers to stand and stretch to see the Big Boy. Grandparents and teens, students from the nearby Elmhurst College and so many railroad buffs in a gleeful crowd on a warm summer’s day. In front of us, a friendly and knowledgable young man was recording the event for his club’s website as we realized a drone was silently soaring overhead, filming a new journey for the Big Boy No. 4014.

Then, it was gone, off to the next bend on the rail and eagerly awaiting crowd.

As I returned home, I found myself in a thoughtful mood. I wondered at this massive marvel of transportation, the 4014 Big Boy, built more than 75 years ago, to traverse the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the east and west coasts of America by rail 150 years ago. The railroad was constructed largely by Chinese, Irish, and other immigrants, in harsh work conditions across an often untamed, rocky, treacherous route so that those who followed could travel faster and in a safer way and for goods to be transported more efficiently. I pondered it all, from the comfort of my air-conditioned car, with a cold soft drink I purchased at a drive-through window of a fast food restaurant while listening to an audio book. I found myself grateful, oh-so -grateful,  for the opportunity to see a wee bit of our larger history chug past me on a hot summer afternoon.

The 4014 Big Boy’s journey this summer is to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Raiload.  As I write this, the Big Boy has left West Chicago, Illinois and is heading toward Iowa. This is the link to the schedule of where it will be on the next leg of its Should it be near you on it’s journey, I encourage you to try to see it. .https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/schedule/index.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

We readied ourselves for the day, ate our breakfast in the hotel, gathered our stuffed backpacks, and walked the short distance to the National Mall, It was a brilliant day, perfect for celebrating America’s Independence. The girls were old enough to have an understanding of the why we celebrate the 4th of July, and young enough to maneuver around a city neither Tom nor I had been to.

Floats and citizens in costumes were finding their spots in the queue that would become a parade. We chatted a bit with a few participants, especially a woman with miniature horses. It was friendly and fun and not unlike the parade participants that would be gathering back home.

We the heard  “hear ye, hear ye, hear ye” summoning all, from the National Archives . There the Declaration of Independence was read by a scribe in period costume. I remember this moment clearly, standing in my 20th century clothes (it was still the 20th century) and imagining this treasonous document being read across the land more than 200 years past. I reflected on what this might have felt like, how anxious, determined, frightened citizens must have felt.

We hopped on a D. C trolly which took us hither and yon, the rest of the day.

We covered a lot of ground.

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. The rows upon rows of headstones was sobering, the history of Arlington insightful. I choked back sobs at the eternal flame, remembering it first being lit as young girl when President Kennedy was assassinated, amazed at the well of emotions the small flame evoked. We viewed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other points of interest amid a respectful grouping of people, from all walks of life, on these hallowed grounds.

Our day took us to the Lincoln Memorial, where we were free to view, to read the inscription, to share the history of this president and his presidency with our young daughters. We stood in amazement at the throng of people around the Reflecting Pond – all ages and all walks of life. We visited the Viet Nam Memorial, where I was helped in locating the name of a boy I went to school with, and we listened to a man, dressed in a safari outfit, looking for signatures to get his name on the ballot for United States President. I remember at first thinking he was a Park Ranger – how easily we can be fooled. There were, however, National Park Rangers all around us, for the National Mall is a National Park.

Tom and Jennifer and Katy and I went into the American History Museum and then the National Archives, where we witnessed another changing of the guard at the documents. (I think it was the Declaration of Independence. My memory is a bit foggy as one of our girls managed to walk in front of the armed guards in the ceremony. A moment we all remember.)

The Washington Memorial was closed for repairs that summer, but, we still stood in awe as we gazed upward. The Mall began to fill as dusk approached. We were ill-prepared, but, none-the-less decided to stay for the music and the fireworks on the Mall. This was long before the concerts that are now performed. There was a band and some vendors on the perimeter of the grand lawn. We purchased what were the absolutely WORST hot dogs I have ever had, but, they are a part of our 4th of July DC story, as is the portrait ingrained in my mind of the four of us, on the 4th, sitting on our jackets on the lawn as the grass filled with spectators. The music played on and the stars sparkled in the sky, even as helicopters scanned the area, protecting space above.

As night fell, the crowd grew, anticipation mounted – and finally fireworks filled the sky. I remain grateful that my family and I could observe this American holiday in our National Park – the National Mall.

Photos

Right –  Assembly Room, Independence Hall, Philadelphia. This is the room where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated and signed. My photo from a trip to Philadelphia.

Left – Ben Franklin

 

 

Read Full Post »

Guidepost

We were at the hospital; Ma on her day off, my sister, a high school student, on spring break. I was home from college on my own break. None of us had a driver’s license. My aunt was the appointed driver, putting miles on her car gathering us each day, taking us to the hospital, then bringing us home, before going to her own evening job.

My dear mother had rheumatoid arthritis. Her feet, in particular, were effected by it, as were her hands. She worked as a cashier, standing on her feet for hours at a time. Bayer aspirin was the drug of choice in the years before steroids and biologics.

There was a small slate and chalk on the table near Daddy’s bedside. His vocal chords had collapsed from the cancer that would soon take his life, yet, he looked right at me and spoke. His voice was raspy, but his words succinct. They were directed to me. He met my eyes and spoke. They were among the last words he ever said to me.

“See what your mother is doing? She can barely stand on her own feet, yet, she is rubbing mine”

Bedridden, he had been fidgeting. My mother quietly pulled the bedcovers from his feet and gently rubbed them, not saying a word nor making a fuss.

My father was acknowledging my mother and her tender, selfless actions. Neither said “I love you”. Public displays of affection was not something they showed, though I knew love was there. His abiding love and respect was palpable to me that day. As Daddy acknowledged Ma, he validated her actions as he bequeathed a guidepost to me. Knowing his time was running out, he knew he would not see me finish school, get married, have children – yet he seized the moment and offered the lesson of selfless kindness and respect – a lesson I have never forgotten.

I think of my father’s last words to me on this Father’s Day, grateful for the lasting gifts of love, respect and kindness he gave me so many years ago, and thankful for having had the one brief moment in time.

Read Full Post »

So it is that a new year has arrived, with the midnight madness of fireworks, toasts and resolutions, the anticipation or anxiety toward the year ahead. I’m not much of a New Year’s Eve person. I never do resolutions, preferring not to set myself up for disappointment, instead feeling that each new day, with the first one of the year or the last one of any week, holds opportunities, much to be grateful for, sadness to hold in my heart and for joy to ripen like summer fruit into gratitude . . . on and on as each day goes.

Our Christmas was on the quiet side, with Christmas Eve church services and a Christmas Day meal at our daughter and son-in-law’s house with cherished family. Burrata and pesto slathered on crusty bread from Heather and Andrew and an amazing frittata from Suzanne whetted our appetites and was a recipe/tradition of her grandfather’s. Jennifer, always daring in her menus, served us the most succulent of meals: duck comfit with a pickled raisin sauce, lentils, potatoes and smashed Brussels sprouts. It took her days to prepare it – and mere minutes for us to consume.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase appeared, as did holiday cookies, pastries and Jason’s crullers – another family recipe.

 

Gatherings with others and quiet time, as well as moments of pure delight and those of poignant memories. Elegant meals as well as simple suppers, my mountains of Christmas books and the cheerful cards that came through the mail – it was a meaningful and lovely Christmastide.

My Antler Man and I dined in for New Year’s Eve – we usually do. A rare treat of steak and potatoes to celebrate year’s end, and some Belgium chocolate gelato for a wee desert. I baked and baked and baked some more this year. I don’t know where the flurry of flour activity arose from, but, it did and I will confess that it is rather nice to end the year, any year, on a “sweet” note. My pièce de résistance was a most delectable pork tenderloin on New Year’s Day. Gently stuffed with spinach and Swiss cheese, I topped it with cinnamon apples, baked in a very hot oven and ate with wild abandon. (Well, not exactly wild abandon, but, we did eat well 🙂 ).

So it is that a new year has arrived – and with it gratitude for each and every one of you that visits here on the Cutoff. I appreciate all of you and am humbled that you take the time to read my ramblings.

Thank you, one and all, and best wishes for a healthy, happy New Year!

Penny

Read Full Post »

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, ‘There, she is gone’

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me – not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, ‘There, she is gone,’
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, ‘Here she comes!’

And that is dying . . . Gone from my Sight by Henry Van Dyke

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Dining with Donald

Donald on Dining in and Out.

definearth

environmentally conscious and proud of it.

Poesy plus Polemics

Words of Wonder, Worry and Whimsy

Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Barnstorming

Barnstorming: Seeking Sanctuary in the Seasons of a Rural Life

Mike McCurry's Daily Blog

Creative information about Real Estate and Life in the Western Suburbs of Chicago

ChicagoNatureNOW!

Chicago's Weekly Wildflower Report, News, and Info for Outdoor Adventure

Interrupting the Silence

An Episcopal Priest's Sermons, Prayers, and Reflections on Life, Becoming Human, and Discovering Our Divinity

The Pioneer Girl Project

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl

Juliet Batten

Author, artist, speaker, teacher and psychotherapist

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

Thoughts about writing and life

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

My Chicago Botanic Garden

A blog for visitors to the Garden.

Living Designs

Circles of Life: My professional background in Foods and Nutrition (MS, Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, RDN, LDN) provides the background for my personal interests in nutrition, foods and cooking; health and wellness; environment and sustainability.

Women Making Strides

Be a Leader in Your Own Life

Middlemay Farm

Katahdin Sheep, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Novelist Adrienne Morris live here (with humans).

Book Snob

FOR DISCERNING READERS

teacups & buttercups

An old fashioned heart

Andra Watkins

Acclaimed Keynote Speaker New York Times Bestselling Author Your Next Dose of Inspiration

Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Begun in 2010, this blog offers analysis and reflection by Susan Bailey on the life, works and legacy of Louisa May Alcott and her family. Susan is an active member and supporter of the Louisa May Alcott Society, the Fruitlands Museum and Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House.

breathelighter

Reducing stress one exhale at a time ...exploring Southern California and beyond

Kate Shrewsday

A thousand thousand stories

Blogging from the Bog

musings from and about our cottage in the West of Ireland