Journey 120: Screen Door in the Garden

screen door garden 2

This afternoon, while practicing one of my favorite past times, puttering in the garden, I stepped into the garage/workshop to search for an item. I walked deeper into the garage than I normally do when I am grabbing a rake or a shovel. I was surprised to see the vintage screen door propped there that I bought earlier in the year. Although I purchased it because the open door is my symbol for this year, I had stashed the gray screen door in the garage and forgotten about it!

I had time to drag the door out into the bright spring sunshine and move it about the garden, stepping back to consider and get an idea of how best to use the door in that location. I came up with several possible uses and decided to do a first on the blog. I’m posting pictures of potential creative uses and asking for a vote on which idea the readers like the best. It can be a shared creative endeavor. I’m open to other suggestions as well, so feel free to comment!

screen door garden

1. Most simple idea: Use as a trellis for a climbing rose or vine.

screen door trellis

Here is an example of the trellis idea from Pinterest

screen door in meditation garden

2. Use the door as a cover over the meditation area. I could string white lights across it.

screen door garden 3

3. I could set the door at an angle and use it as a trellis or hang a wreath from the door, as in this picture from Pinterest.

screen door garden 4

4. This is the most complicated use, which would involve using the door for a future enclosure within the yard. Picture from Pinterest

5. I don’t have a picture of another possibility, which would be to secure the door horizontally on the fence and train two or three climbing or vining plants on it.

I’m excited about the possibilities and look forward to incorporating the screen door into the garden. I love my Peace Door, which serves as a gate into this backyard paradise. The screen door brings a homey, vintage quality into the garden, which I love. Which idea appeals to you the most? Please take a moment to comment here on WordPress or on Facebook, and I’ll post the results. Together, we are creating beauty on the journey!

screen door peace door

Journey 119: North and South BBC Mini Series

north and south poster

An advantage of falling in love with a particular movie, such as The Hobbit, is a deepening appreciation of actors who were previously unknown to me. One such actor is Richard Armitage, who portrayed Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the company of dwarves. His ability to play Thorin, from an angry displaced Son of Durin, through his descent into dragon sickness and his ascent out of that dark madness to a powerful, selfless king was magnificent to behold.

I’ve watched for other movies of his, and was delighted Monday to come across an earlier work of his, North and South, released as a four part series on BBC TV in 2004. It was especially fine to discover this two disc DVD at the Joplin Public Library, where I checked it out for seven days! Tonight, after a peaceful time in the back garden, soaking up the setting sun’s rays, I had the joy of watching part one of this British series.

North and South stars Richard Armitage, Daniela Denby-Ashe, Tim Pigott-Smith, Lesley Manville, Sinéad Cusack, Brendan Coyle and Anna Maxwell Martin. Directed by Brian Percival, this romantic drama is based on the novel by the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell. This TV mini series is unrated and has a run time of 3 hours and 55 minutes.

Margaret Hale (Denby-Ashe) is the central character in this adaptation, uprooted from her beloved rural village of Helstone, south of London, by her father (Pigott-Smith), a former vicar. Along with her mother, Maria (Manville), intelligent and strong willed Margaret has a difficult time adjusting to the much more industrial, poverty stricken northern city of Milton. Richard Hale, seeking employment after leaving the church, gives lectures on Sunday afternoons to bored mill workers and secures a few private students. His first such student is John Thornton (Armitage), the most prominent and successful cotton mill owner in Milton.

Margaret and Mr. Thornton’s relationship gets off to a rocky start, as Margaret witnesses an altercation between Thornton and a worker caught smoking in the mill. Although Margaret’s father encourages his daughter to extend grace to the hard working people of the north, she struggles to see them as her father does…not so different from the people she loves in the south. But the dirty, smoky city is not like the pastures and woods surrounding her former village and the people are not as friendly, many of them suspicious of her kindness and good intentions. Margaret continues to reach out to the mill workers and their families nevertheless, concerned about their lack of food and their health. The mill sorting and weaving rooms are full of bits of white cotton fluff that float and swirl in the air like snow. The men, women and children who work in those rooms breathe in the fibers and suffer lung diseases as a result.

north and south brooding Thornton

Mr. Thornton vexes Margaret. She sees him as privileged, especially after meeting his proud mother (Cusack). After rudely refusing to shake Thornton’s hand while he’s a guest in her parents’ home, Margaret learns that his family struggled through years of poverty after John’s father invested unwisely, lost huge sums of money, and then killed himself. Rather than let creditors go unpaid, the family got by on very little for years while working hard to survive. John became who he is by hard work, strict rules for his workers, and scrupulous attention to detail.

As Margaret and John are squaring off, learning about each other, disliking each other initially, yet drawn toward each other, the mill workers in Milton are meeting after hours. Worker Nicholas Higgins (Coyle) whose daughter Bessy (Martin) becomes Margaret’s first friend in her new town, is urging the rest of the mill workers to join together in demanding better pay and working conditions, and to rebel if those demands are not met, when the time is right.

At the end of episode one, Margaret, writing to her cousin back in the south, admits that she is lonely and that everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. Referring to the mills and the rooms of swirling fluff, she concludes her letter with, “ I believe God has forsaken this place. I have seen hell and it is white…it is snow white.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this first part of North and South. The cinematography and costuming are excellent, and the story flows well under the direction of Brian Percival. There is tension and a clash of classes, misunderstandings and learning to accept others who are different. There is sexual tension as well, building between Margaret and Thornton…repulsion, confusion, but strong attraction as well. I am unfamiliar with most of the actors in the mini series, however, they are all accomplished in their roles. Richard Armitage as Thornton is amazing. This man has brooding down to an art! I can’t help but catch glimpses of Thorin in the dark eyes, the tight lipped smile, the short, sharp comments.

I’m enjoying a look at some of Armitage’s early work. And I am highly anticipating the next three episodes, and the slow dance between Margaret and Thornton as their passions build. The British do drama really well and I am grateful I found this DVD set!

north and south John and Margaret

Journey 118: National Blueberry Pie Day

April 28th is set aside each year to celebrate one of America’s favorite pies….blueberry. It’s one of my favorite pies too and has been since childhood. I had to find a way to enjoy this holiday, without blowing my healthy eating.

The solution: a recipe for a single serving blueberry crisp, with healthier substitutions. Here’s the original recipe, from, with my substitutions in parentheses.

  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, rinsed
  • 1½ tbsp agave nectar (1 T raw organic honey)
  • 3 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp whole wheat flour (1 T almond flour)
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • (1 T chopped pecans)

Preheat oven to 400F. Place blueberries in a ramekin or small oven-safe dish. In a small mixing bowl, combine agave (or honey) with oats, flour, pecans and cinnamon. Pat down on top of fruit and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.

This was so easy to do, only requiring 5 minutes of prep time. And the result? Wonderfully satisfying, tart, juicy blueberry goodness, best eaten while still warm. I felt like I had a treat without all the sugar. And best of all, a single serving eliminates left overs and over eating. Too much of a good thing is still just that…too much!

What a great little crisp, in honor of National Blueberry Pie Day. I’ll make this again. And it gave me the idea of looking for or creating other single serve, healthy recipes for delicious treats. I’ll enjoy…occasionally!

Journey 117: Afternoon Tea with Aubrey

Afternoon with Aubrey

I enjoy getting to pick my granddaughter up from school occasionally. Lately, we haven’t had time to do much more than spend a few minutes together as I transported her home. Today, knowing we had a bit more time allotted, Aubrey asked if we could have afternoon tea together.

I love that this little girl enjoys so many of the things that I also enjoy. We can share those experiences and create memories at the same time. Of course, I was thrilled to have tea with her. Because I am limiting my sugar intake, I don’t have sweets at home. Therefore, we opted to have afternoon tea at Panera, where Aubrey could have iced sweet tea instead of the hot tea that I drink. And with the wonderful selection of treats available there, I knew we could find tea appropriate foods.

I selected a shortbread cookie and a blueberry scone to accompany my hot English Breakfast tea. Aubrey carefully studied the selection of goodies before choosing a mini chocolate cupcake with chocolate cream icing, a chocolate chip muffin top, and a couple of slices of sourdough bread. Panera very graciously gave her the bread slices, which is not a frequent request at the restaurant. Aubrey loves bread. That was the first treat she devoured.

We had a lovely tea, seated near the large front windows of Panera, laughing together, chatting, sipping our tea, or in Aubrey’s case, slurping it through her straw. She is an accomplished conversationalist and I always delight in her insights and perspective on life. As we were finishing our tea time, Aubrey noticed sparrows hopping about outside on the sidewalk, searching for tidbits of food. She asked if she could toss her bread crusts outside, for the birds to enjoy. Darting out onto the front sidewalk, she tore her crusts into sections and dropped them before rushing back inside.

She had barely returned to her chair to watch out the window when the first sparrow reappeared, eyeing the bread crusts. In moments, there were a dozen birds pecking at the bread, attempting to pick it up, tossing bits into the air. We spent several cheerful minutes watching the antics of the sparrows, laughing as one bird and then another flew a short distance, low to the parking lot, carrying a bit of bread while other birds flocked after it.

What a relaxed, happy tea time we shared today. I am so grateful for Aubrey’s idea. I cherish the prospect of this tradition of ours continuing as she grows into adulthood. Someday, she can host afternoon tea for her own daughters….and perhaps she will invite her Yaya.

afternoon with Aubrey tea time

Journey 116: Garden Cranes


My search for a pair of cranes for my backyard garden began a year ago. I saw a pair in the garden section of a store and went home without them. I couldn’t get them out of my mind though. Suddenly, I wanted those cranes. I didn’t know why, exactly. I just knew I was drawn to them. However, when I returned to the store to purchase the pair I had seen, they were gone. 

The search began, driven by an inexplicable desire to have cranes. I looked everywhere, not finding any. Then in August, as I climbed the stones steps to  the entrance to Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland, I stopped in surprise. It took traveling 4,213 miles to uncover the reason for the desire to have the cranes, although it deepened the mystery. 

A pair of tall, graceful cranes stood guard at the castle door. I had never seen a picture of the Thirlestane Castle cranes, although I’ve studied many pictures of the home of my ancestors. I had no idea they were there.  Or did I, on some level? I have no other explanation for my sudden longing for a pair of cranes, other than that it was energetically mingled with my longing for home…a home I had never seen but was journeying toward. 

I never found the cranes last year, although I searched in multiple cities and states and had family members on the alert, watching for them. Recently, daughter Elissa had a crane sighting at a local warehouse type membership store. I was thinking Friday that I’d contact Elissa on Monday to see if we could visit that store, to check out the cranes, since I don’t have a membership to that store. 

Yesterday, while I was in Tulsa, Ok preparing to attend a musical, I received a phone call from my mom. She was excited to tell me that she had found a pair of metal cranes in a Joplin garden center! I’m proud of my mom. She managed to take a pic with her phone and text it to me! Then I was excited. There were my cranes.  There were the cranes I had been searching for. 

Mom bought the cranes and I picked them up from her this afternoon, reimbursing her and thanking her for stepping inside Sutherlands, where we had shopped for flowers last Saturday, without ever leaving the outdoor garden center. Yesterday she just thought she would peek inside. She was unaware that the cranes were calling to her, but she answered the call, nonetheless. I am so grateful. The cranes are in my garden. They are home. 

The first Clematis blossoms, welcoming the cranes to the garden! 

Journey 115: Phantom of the Opera with Chris Mann – Front Row Seats

phantom of the opera chris mann

I have a long history with Phantom of the Opera. I was captivated by the story 11 years ago, when I had my first Phantom experience watching the film with Gerard Butler in the title role. I fell in love. Yeah…Butler is a Scottish actor that I adored watching in this spectacular movie. However, I fell in love with the tragic story of the Opera Ghost who lived in the bowels of the Paris Opera House. I lost count of the number of times I watched the film, and I was deeply impacted each time.

phantom of the opera dayan and megan

phantom of the opera ashley and nicole

I saw my first live performance a couple of years later, in Dallas, TX. The sets, the costumes, the familiar music and storyline, captured me once more. This afternoon was my fifth viewing of the Phantom of the Opera musical. However, several key differences were present today. Thanks to my niece Ashley and my sister Debbie, seven of us watched from front row seats in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. My sister Linda, niece Nicole, grandson Dayan and his friend, Megan, were present as well. I am utterly ruined for ever watching a play or musical again, from any other vantage point in the theater. To be able to see the facial expressions and the emotions that play across the performers’ faces so enhances the experience for me.

phantom of the opera mirror

And this was a fresh production of Phantom, with new designs by Paul Brown, new costumes by Maria Bjornson, amazing sets and staging by Laurence Connor and stellar choreography by Scott Ambler. I was absolutely undone by the incredible sets and staging. Genius is the word that came to mind as the stage magically shifted again and again. The freshness meant that as many times as I have seen this production, there was something new this afternoon, something unexpected, to grab my attention. Being on the front row brought interesting experiences as well. When the chandelier exploded at the end of Act 1, I was showered with “glass” (really clear gelatinous pieces of material that disintegrated quickly). The gun explosions and fireballs made me jump. And to my delight, two performers ended up standing next to me during the show. One leaned over and said, “Don’t encourage him,” as I, along with the rest of the audience, applauded and cheered for the humorous conclusion of a number on stage.

The man behind the voice and the mask of the Phantom is relatively new to this tour as well. Chris Mann has stepped into the role of the Phantom and claimed it as his own. I first heard Chris sing during the 2012 season of The Voice, where his rich, classical voice took him all the way to the finals. I voted for Chris, so impressed with his voice and his obvious talent. When I learned, after I had purchased tickets to this performance, that Chris was playing the Phantom, I was thrilled, and excited to see him in the much deserved role.

phantom of the opera statue

Chris brought a passion to Phantom that I have missed in the other productions I have seen. The Phantom is a beautiful, tortured soul. He hides his disfigured face by covering it with a mask, but he is gifted with a powerful, mesmerizing voice. His heart, twisted by hurt and rage against the world that shuns him, longs for connection, for love. He attaches that longing to Christine Daae, his young protégé, who in turn, loves Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny, who was once her childhood playmate. There is a love triangle. There is fear. There is blackmail and murder, angst and anger, desire and denial. This story demands deep passion, for that is what is at the heart of it.

Chris delivers perfectly…tapping into those mercurial emotions, allowing them to bring strength and power to his voice and his performance. The musical number, Point of No Return, was the best version I’ve seen, redolent with sensuality and dark desire. Christine was brilliantly portrayed as well, her entwined confusion and awakening sexuality played perfectly by Celia Hottenstein. Smoldering was the word that came to mind as I watched this scene. And then the plaintive plea, from the Phantom to Christine as he knelt before her…”Say you’ll stay with me…” From passion to anguish in a moment. My eyes filled with tears.

phantom of the opera Christine

This was, without a doubt, the best Phantom production that I have seen. The sets were a marvel. Every cast member was exceptional. I watched with a smile and shining eyes. I laughed. I applauded. I teared up at the end. My heart breaks over the Phantom who seeks beauty, seeks light, seeks love and yet, is denied. Just once, I’d love to see the man who hides in the shadows win Christine, over Raoul. That, however, is a different story. Well done, cast and crew of the Phantom of the Opera, on tour. Thank you for sharing your gifts, your voices. You made my heart soar.

phantom of the opera me debbie and linda

Journey 114: Jonathan’s Talent Show

Tonight was such a treat, attending the Lakeside Elementary Talent Show. My 9 year old grandson, Jonathan, participated for the first time.

At least 11 members of Jonathan’s family were present in the audience this evening, witnesses to this remarkable boy’s talent. He was number seven in the line-up of fifteen performances, that included more than 30 children. I sat back to watch.

The children were all amazing. Ranging from 1st to 5th grade, they displayed ingenuity and ability, from singing and dancing to playing piano, recorder and cups, to performing a yo yo demonstration to Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. I was not only impressed with their talent, I was moved by the encouragement the kids demonstrated for each other. As each child performed, the rest of the kids applauded and cheered for their companion.

Jonathan absolutely astounded me, belting out Hey Soul Sister with confidence and incredible skill. This boy is a born showman. He loves to perform and doesn’t exhibit fear of any kind, singing or speaking easily and with gusto. Tears stung my eyes watching him, listening to him, so proud of his courage to sing and dance before an audience.

At the end of the show, all the children took the stage to receive thunderous applause, whistles and certificates. Every child was celebrated. They closed out the evening with a lively dance to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars.

Jonathan has a future in the arts….singing, dancing, acting…or all three, if he so desires.  His creativity will enrich the world somewhere. I’m keeping the program from tonight, with Jonathan’s name printed on it. Someday when he’s famous, I’ll show people evidence of this, his first talent show. And say “Yes, I was there when Jonathan sang in this show. I was so proud of him.” I know I’ll always be proud of him, no matter what he decides to do. I have a feeling there will be lights, a camera, action and much applause for Jonathan Adam on his journey.

Journey 113: Repurposed Toolbox


I’ve been anticipating getting to repurpose this awesome red toolbox that I picked up at the last 2 Friends & Junk Show. I’ve known since I purchased it where it would go. 

Today I snatched time between appointments to roll up my sleeves and plant in this fun metal container. With the lid propped open, I filled the box with rich soil and added 5 white Pinto Geraniums. These pint sized plants smell and look like their full sized counterparts, but stay compact and produce loads of flowers. I chose white to contrast with the red box. The geraniums are cute, and cute is the look I was going for. I hope the toolbox doesn’t mind!

Checking my phone, I found I had time to plant five terra cotta pots and my vintage green and white planter with an assortment of Portulaca, Asters and Gazanias in yellows, pinks, whites and bronzes. More containers will be aded to this section just inside the Peace Door, however I was pleased with what I accomplished today. 

Lastly, I added pale pink Calibrachoa to the washtub in the “Memorial” corner. I will complete that area soon, with the fireworks flowers. I am also looking for a thistle type flower that grows well in my area, in honor of Mindy. All is coming together perfectly. And perfect are these moments stolen out of a busy day, spent in the garden. I left refreshed, and look forward to my next soulful, garden journey. 


Journey 112: Earth Day

April 22 each year marks the celebration of Earth Day. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after he witnessed the ravages of the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. At a time when awareness was shifting away from war, Nelson’s idea was to turn the energy of the anti-war movement toward the environment, and care for the earth.

Earth Day 1970 brought people together, eliciting support from Republicans and Democrats, the wealthy and the poor, city dwellers and farmers, business owners and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Today Earth Day still unites people and companies from around the Globe with a continued emphasis on caring for the earth, the environment, and the animals across all species. Earth Day 2015 put out the intention of seeing a billion seeds and trees planted, to give back in a way that will have a long term impact on the environment, in a positive, powerful way.


I am, as I have mentioned in previous posts, very connected to the earth and to growing things. I have felt a responsibility for maintaining and preserving this beautiful planet since early childhood. Yes, it’s my temporary home. However, it’s where we all learn and grow, realize our gifts and abilities and share them. If we don’t care for this amazing place, who will? We are the caretakers of the earth and of the animal life here and of each other, because caring for human life is just as important, just as crucial.

I take my role seriously, in myriad small ways: conserving energy, being mindful of the environment and teaching my children and grandchildren to be mindful as well, respecting ALL life, encouraging and supporting organizations and companies who are aware of our great charge as well, to care for the earth. And, I plant a variety of plants and trees.


Today I grabbed a few minutes between appointments to fulfill that desire to plant and tend growing things, working in my backyard, planting new plants, raking and admiring the return of last year’s plants. What a joy to be outside. And how mindful I was of the day and how thoughtful about ways I can better show care for this marvelous place I call home.

I was reminded of a phrase in the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, that always touches me deeply: “Under all is the land.” Such a simple statement, yet such a powerful truth. Beneath all that is, the buildings, the cities, the jungles, the opinions, the ideas, the beliefs, the feet of animals and humans…beneath me…is the land. The foundation. The sustainer and cradler of life here on earth. The land. The earth. I will do my part to take care of it, not from a sense of duty, but from a sense of love and joy. Happy Earth Day.


Journey 111: The Wheels on the Mower Go Round and Round

Today’s fun journey may seem small and insignificant. However, it was a first for me, and the outcome was beneficial for another. 

Greg and I have been in Arkansas all day. We wanted to check in on Greg’s dad and also check on the condition of his yard, after days of rain. With the sun out today, I could almost hear the grass growing. Dad Moore has a big corner lot, with numerous tall oak trees. At one time this hard working man tended his yard with great care, planting lush grasses and growing beautiful vegetables in his garden.  

Now in his 90’s, just looking at the grass wears him out. We slipped into his garage while he was still resting today and began some much needed  yard  work. I started with the weed eater while Greg got the riding mower started and made a few passes. And then, to my delight, we traded. 

It may sound silly, but in all my years, I’ve never mowed with a riding mower. Whenever the opportunity arises to try something new, I do my best to say yes! With a few instructions, off I went. It’s an older mower, and it has its quirks, but who doesn’t? Remembering where to put my feet to keep the whirling blade engaged occupied the first few minutes. It seemed I was going too fast initially, which later made me laugh, so I slowed down. Once I got the hang of what I was doing, I sped back up and had a great time, mowing in the abundant sunshine. 

Eventually Dad Moore caught on to what we were doing and came out to sit in the porch swing. It is still difficult for him to see others doing “his” work. Greg and I traded around on mower, weed eater and sitting with his dad, until the work was completed without too much fuss from him. 

It is a lesson to me to be with this dear older man, seeing the shifts in life through his wise eyes. As we visited while Greg took a turn on the mower, Dad conceded that perhaps at age 94, he should be slowing down. And he remembered that he had helped his aging father with yard work, just as Greg was now helping him. I pointed out that when Greg was older, son Nathanael would in turn help him…and someday his kids would help him, and so on. Dad Moore grew thoughtful and then replied, “I guess that’s why it’s good to have young ‘uns!” It’s good, indeed. 

It’s been a wonderful day, and I loved that my journey went around and around today, leaving neatly trimmed grass in its wake. I enjoy every moment with Greg’s dad as well, hearing his stories, holding his hand, loving on him and being loved on in return.  I’m stockpiling memories during these little visits. And that’s the real journey.