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Conspicuous Crannies

It seems to always rain when the peonies open; not slowly and reverently in a soft spring shower, but rather as headstrong as a toddler wanting his way.

The newly potted plants needed water after the 90+ degree temperatures we’ve been experiencing, so, I couldn’t complain as the rains did the watering for me. I did wince a wee bit and wring my hands for our peonies had just bloomed and were resplendent in our front gardens; pinks and purples and mauves of magnificence.

The “wringing of hands”, of course, accomplishes nothing, so, out I went, clippers in hand as the sky darkened and threatened to let loose at any moment. A snip here, another there, a gentle shake of the petals to hopefully release whatever ants were still on doing their springtime chore of opening the petals and, voila, a bouquet was in hand to brighten the kitchen counter.

We weathered the storm, though the roof sprung a leak just as we sat down to supper – and a supper it was with leftover everything! I reflected, a bit, on how fortunate we are for others around the world are battling storms and fires and eruptions that are horrific, devastating and life-threatening. A leaky roof and water-logged peonies are small drops of worry when one looks at the bigger picture.

None-the-less, early this morning, in my typical, fashionable style, I rushed out in my jammies, carrying my cell phone while the teakettle waited to whistle. I was anxious to capture the photo above while the light was just so. I cannot recall her name, but, she puts forth the most marvelous, wispy blue blossoms at this time of year and looks her best in the morning light.

As I was attempting the shot, swatting mosquitoes, my eye caught something else nearby. A spot. A spot on a plant that the Antler Man almost pulled, thinking it was a weed. Actually, it is a weed – milkweed – and it has lodged itself in a conspicuous cranny near a spot where Monarchs laid eggs last year. Upon closer inspection I found the spot to be not a spot at all, but, rather, a hole.

A hole in a milkweed leaf!

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, holding my breath, I held the leaf. I turned it around, cautiously, carefully, and this is what I found.

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Deirdre and Penelope

As the knob slowly turned, a voice called out “can you push the door open?“.  I could, I did and was promptly greeted by a stunning woman with a mission at the forefront of her mind.

Deirdre and I chatted at the entryway in that friendly manner of people who have not yet previously met face-to-face, but who know, perhaps, a bit about each other. She asked about my heritage, I about hers, discovering our similarities, our differences, the things people reveal about each other when first they meet. She told me about her name, Deirdre, a figure from Irish folklore, and I told her mine, Penelope, of Homeric legend.

Deirdre invited me further inside. I followed as she maneuvered her wheelchair, pushing buttons as she navigated into her kitchen. She brewed for me a cup of coffee, placed a sheet of cookies into the oven to bake, set the timer, let the dog in, found her tablet, and situated herself next to me at the countertop of the kitchen’s island, which is where we dove into the purpose of our meeting – Deirdre’s website.

Deirdre has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her life, and the lives of her family and friends, has been profoundly impacted by MS in ways many of us might imagine, and in so many other ways we likely have not. A woman of faith and compassion, Deirdre’s wit and wisdom, practicality and frustrations, insight and vision are all bundled up in her purposeful mission to invite conversation, comfort, compassion and community to all, but, particularly to those confined to a wheelchair – living one’s life on wheels.

Dear readers, I invite you to visit Deirdre’s website/blog, perhaps leave a comment or pass her link on to someone who is wheelchair confined or who lives with someone who is, knows someone or, of equal importance, to those engaging in this life-long process of extending compassion to others. We are all on this journey in life together and you, my friends, are the best of travelers and of encouraging others. In advance, I thank you.

You can find Deirdre’s posts at https://www.livinglifeonwheels.com/blog/

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Deirdre from Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deirdre

A Perfect Day

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.  – Billy Collins

On the Slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind – Emily Dickinson

What better time to add a chapter to the adventures of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase than Mother’s Day, celebrated here in the States on Sunday, May 13 this year.

The vase has traveled some this past year, filled through the seasons, occasions and just because, but, it had taken a bit of a hiatus until it reappeared once more this weekend at a visit to Jennifer and Jason’s house!

What a pleasant surprise it was to be greeted this Mother’s Day with the latest traveling arrangement! Nestled inside the clear, round vase were small wooden eggs, repurposed from a forgotten display. The eggs helped to hold up stock, Hypericum berries, and glorious calla lilies whose velvety petals added to the allure of the presentation.

Not only was I honored to be the recipient of this sweet arrangement, I was also impressed at my daughter’s floral creativity . . .

. . . and, her culinary flair. Jennifer has always employed an inherently unique ability to put a tasteful array of ingredients together that whet one’s appetite in flavorful bliss. Rosemary coated chicken breasts sat on a bed of sautéed arugula with lighted warmed grapes! Topped with shavings of Gruyère, it was quite delicious.

We ate, we talked, we checked out J & J’s emerging garden, and we visited a nearby gardening center before I headed back home, my vase travelling with securely on the floor of the car. I was sated, content, and grateful for a most “motherly made” afternoon.

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

When I saw a notification that there was to be a spring concert at the Center in Palos Park, I marked it on my calendar in sincere hopes of attending.

My hopes were realized on a recent Sunday afternoon. As the day’s shadows lengthened, my dear friend, Kathryn, and I climbed the stone steps up to the The Center. Kathryn is an artist gifted in finding beauty in unexpected places. I hoped that she would enjoy the concert, but, I instinctively knew that she would appreciate the serenity of The Center and the Wayside Chapel.

Since my wintertime post about The Wayside Chapel at The Center, I have managed occasional walks around the grounds, taken photos as the season slowly changed from winter to spring, and subscribed to their online newsletter and notifications. I have come to realize that there are even more activities than I first imagined and vowed to take advantage of some of them.

I finally did.

 

Isn’t this a charming little cottage? It is a private residence on the grounds. I did not take photos up close, though I might have peaked in the windows. I could not, however, resist this appealing view.

We wandered about, enjoying the sweeping swathes of daffodils and Siberian swill (Scilla), the pathways and birds flitting about, and the quiet serenity of the space before us.  There is a certain calm and peace that envelopes pilgrims who wander these paths. It is hard to describe but quite palpable.

Soon, very soon, we walked over to the Lodge, following the sweet restrains of vocalists rehearsing for their performance. We were greeted by several women, one who I later discovered was the pastor. Kathryn and I found seats, chatted as long-time friends do, and waited for the concert to begin.

Oh, what joy this was! The Center Singers opened with “By Our Love”, accompanied with piano and percussion. As the concert carried us through gospel and jazz music, the old familiar hymns took on a celebratory air, with a sprinkling of hand clapping, foot tapping, and sighs of “oh, I remember that one”.

As the music ended, refreshments were offered – and we accepted. Who can say no to chocolate chip cookies? Two large trays of homemade delight along with comfortable conversation with other attendees added to the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We casually wandered around the lodge, enjoying the ambiance of such a welcoming place, chatting, taking photos, content in the moment.

“I’ll Fly Away” is a favorite of mine. The Center Singers performed a medley of songs that included it. I have posted other renditions before, so offer you this rendition that I discovered on YouTube.

 

 

 

Illustration atop this post is from the concert’s program. 

Sweet Dispositions

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
William Wordsworth
 
A “host of golden daffodils” has, at long, last arrived.
They were hesitant this year, poking tentatively through the soil, reluctant to display their papery blooms. It has been a particularly  long, cold interlude of expectation for which we are now being rewarded.
 
Glorious clusters of golden beauties are flirting, showing off in groups, alone, in rows and en masse.
 
They are, indeed, “dancing in the breeze” and a delight to behold as they brighten our days with their blousy skirts, vibrant colors and sweet disposition.
 Happy May Day (and Rabbit! Rabbit!)  to all.
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