Journey 253: Tents & Water Gun Fights

Today I had the joy of picking up grandsons Joey and Oliver from school and spending the afternoon with them. We took care of essentials first…after school snacks and drinks by way of Subway and Braums. Then it was off to the house to hang out. 

 

I enjoy my grandkids. All of them. One of the things that I treasure is the fresh perspective that I receive about the world through the eyes of these bright children. They aren’t afraid to talk about life and share their thoughts. My earnest desire is to create a safe and encouraging environment in which the kids can explore their beliefs and bounce ideas around. I love their willingness  to express what’s in their hearts and minds. 

 
And I value how unique each child is, how they all have different gifts and interests. After we snacked, Joey and Oliver asked if we could build a tent in the living room, while we watched a program on TV. These two are master builders! I was impressed with their creativity in using the materials on hand to build a tent that in the end, strongly resembled a Hobbit House. Joey even took it upon himself to grab a screw driver and do a bit of repair work on the storage chest holding the blankets. I supervised, but he did all the work. 

  
The tent provided the perfect place to play and rest and hide from Carl the dog. They reminded me of Hobbits as they popped their heads out to watch a scene on the TV, one of the blankets covering them like a cloak.  Then, in typical boy fashion, after a short time of playing within the tent, it became more fun to fall out of it, wriggling through the many layers of blankets.    

 We didn’t have much time left to play, but we gathered up plastic water pistols and headed out into the warm sunshine. I didn’t have to be concerned about these two getting their clothes wet. They simply stripped off their shirts, shorts, socks and shoes and with wild abandon and great glee, dashed into the backyard in their briefs. I laughed watching them as they sprayed water from the hose, whooping in sheer delight, their happy faces covered with droplets of water. 

Their playfulness was contagious and when an occasional spray of water reached me, I didn’t mind at all. Is there anything more joyful, more soulful, then the laughter and freedom of children? I don’t think so. Thank you boys, for so enriching my day.   

  
 

Journey 252: A Hummingbird Feeder in the Garden

I’ve never had a feeder up for hummingbirds before. Because I have cats, I’m cautious about attracting birds to the garden. So I’ve refrained from installing feeders or bird baths. However, the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed hummingbirds flitting about the garden. These fast moving birds are not easy targets for the cats. 

This is the time of year that hummingbirds migrate south, ahead of falling temperatures. These colorful, tiny birds, so named because of the humming sound made by their rapidly moving wings, pack on weight in preparation for their long trip. Their final destination for the winter is a region   located between southern Mexico and Central America. That’s quite a journey for such a small creature. 
 

Because they have such a high metabolism, they must eat frequently. I knew hummingbirds consumed large quantities of nectar, preferring a high sugar content.  I learned today that they also eat insects and spiders, making them great allies for my garden. The feeder supplies a high sugar artificial nectar. I can make my own, which is simply one part sugar to four parts water. Red coloring isn’t necessary. 
  
I’m excited about having a feeder, which I’ll continue to use next year. It’s hanging from the metal archway in the backyard garden. I can watch for hummingbirds from the brickio or from my chair indoors, in my creative space. I was concerned whether feeding the birds as they pass through would cause them to linger too long in the area. They can’t survive our cold winters. But the research I did today assured me that these little birds have the instinct to fatten up and keep flying south. I am happy to assist them in their journey. 

  

Journey 251: Magical Moments

I have a morning ritual that I enjoy, which is to move through the house, room by room, and open the wooden blinds. I love the way the sunlight filters in, and how the outdoors becomes part of my indoors. 

 

As I opened the blinds today I was greeted by flashes of lightning, with accompanying thunder, and a steady downpour of rain. No matter. I welcomed in the watery grey light and the stormy weather, which has a beauty and energy all its own. 

I opened the blinds in my creative space, which has six windows in it overlooking the gardens in the backyard and along the south side of the house. I was captivated by the sight of the garden as rain pelted the plants. I have a chair right there, in front of that window, and I raised the blinds so I had an unimpeded view. 
 

The scene was so beautiful. I hurried off to make my bed and do a few work related items on my to do list, with the promise that I would reward myself then by settling into that chair, to watch the storm roll through. 

I didn’t even get the bed made when I stopped, feeling such a strong pull to return to the chair and the window. There was that notion of rewarding myself again, the idea that I needed to do “this” before I could allow myself to enjoy “that”. There was nothing urgent that needed doing in that moment. Nature was calling, with flirtatious flashes of light and playful rumbles and booms. 

  

I am so grateful that I heeded that nudge, accepted that invitation. Moments after I sat, enchanted by the view, the sun broke free from the clouds in the east. It shone brilliantly for a few minutes, as rain continued to fall and lightning flickered. A rainbow appeared to the west, arcing gracefully over the backyard garden. 

It was so magical, that moment. And I almost missed it. Had I checked off those things before allowing myself to enjoy the view from my window, the rainbow would have faded away already, as the clouds overtook the sun again. I am learning. Learning to listen to my intuition and obey those nudges. What simple pleasures await when I do. A short time later, I came across the perfect quote that captured the morning. Life is magical. I do believe. 
  
  

Journey 250: Blue Jasmine

This evening was a movie night, and my choice was the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine. This DVD drew me yesterday at the rental store. After watching it, I’ll be turning it over in my mind for days, thinking about it. 

  
Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett, Alex Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale and Peter Sarsgaard. It was written and directed by Woody Allen. This drama is rated PG-13, for mild language and adult themes and has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes. Cate Blanchett won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, in 2014. 

Jasmine French (Blanchett) was a wealthy socialite married to a Hal (Baldwin), a powerful man in the financial world. When Hal’s unethical business practices brought about his arrest and imprisonment, Jasmine’s world fell apart as well. Hal committed suicide while incarcerated and the government seized everything…money, property, assests, leaving Jasmine penniless and bereft. 

She moves across country, to her estranged sister’s tiny apartment in San Francisco, hoping to start a new life. Subsisting on a dangerous cocktail of alcohol and anti-depressants, Jasmine finds she can’t forget the past or navigate an unknown future. Her sister Ginger (Hawkins) has her own struggles, raising two sons as a single mother, while questioning her current relationship with her boyfriend Chili (Cannavale). Ginger feels trapped in a menial job and an uncertain relationship because Jasmine’s husband lost a sizable amount of money that she and her ex husband entrusted to him. 

Jasmine feels life is shifting when she meets Dwight (Sarsgaard), an aspiring politician at a party. But her tenuous grasp on reality and a secret she harbors from her past threatens to bring all her plans crashing down again. 

This was not an easy film to watch. But I couldn’t look away. Blanchett delivers a powerful, if disturbing, portrayal of a woman teetering on the brink of ruin….a state brought on by her own thoughts, beliefs and actions. I kept looking for her redemption, for her transformation, and yet our glimpse into the story ends before that happens. 

What I saw was the descent of a woman’s psyche and mental stability because she refused to look at reality, refused to accept responsibility for her own life, her own actions or lack of actions. As difficult as that was to observe, what I initially took from this stark movie was the importance of living from the heart, and from a place of authenticity. There wasn’t any joy or peace in Jasmine’s life. Only great pain, loss and pretense about who she was. This one is going to stay with me for a while, as a visual reminder of how a life can crumble, under the weight of despair and self delusion.   

 

Journey 249: Loving Me, Loving You

Sundays are soulful days for me, a time to disconnect from busyness as often as I can. On these self care days I can focus inward on my heart and soul, upward on my Creator, and then outward on others. I’ve looked forward all week to this time of reflection and solitude, of peace and quiet joy, and deep connection.

  
It was a beautiful journey this morning, spent alone with my thoughts and a full and grateful heart. I relaxed in the backyard garden in spite of the higher temperatures, soaking up sunshine, my senses awakened by the sights and sounds and scents of life stirring among the grasses and flowers surrounding me. 

I sat with my thoughts, at rest, in a state of deep peace, and let them rise one by one and pass through. There was nothing to deal with, no urgent matters, no conflicts to resolve. My heart opened and enlarged and flooded my being with love, which then overflowed and radiated outward. 

  
After a time of refection I enjoyed the rest of my day, doing some of my favorite things and later connecting with others. 

I strolled through my local DVD rental store, alone except for a solitary worker who waited for me near the register. I slowly walked past rows and rows of recent releases, until a movie captured my attention. I brought home the one meant for me, to watch later this week. 

And I had a long and soulful conversation with a family member this evening, to complete an amazing day. I enjoy connecting with others at a deeper level, sharing about our journeys, weighing in on life in all of its intricate complexities and marvelous curiosities. I am grateful for the heart to heart, soul to soul chat that blessed me and enriched me as much as the time of solitude did, in the garden. 

A friend posted the meme below this morning, on Facebook. It was a perfect reminder of the value of practicing self-care, of loving myself enough to make sure I take time to rest and play and sometimes, do nothing at all. It is a great question to ask oneself, I think. I answered that question, beautifully, all day long. 

  

Journey 248: Collecting Seeds

I had a wonderful afternoon, puttering in my gardens. I weeded, dead-headed spent blooms, talked to the praying mantis sunning itself on the old cultivator in the backyard garden. The garden is changing, as fall approaches. It was a great time to collect seeds, as flowering plants are completing their season. 

 

Some of my flowers are turning to seed, as their blooms fade. I especially wanted  to collect seeds from the Fireworks Flowers, since it is an annual. I have so enjoyed these bright pink blooms with the yellow tips. I collected flower heads changing over into seeds and shook them into ziplock baggies, which I then labeled. I have hundreds of seeds! If I am successful starting these next spring, I’ll have seeds and seedlings to give away.  
 

The Calendula flowers are just beginning to create seeds. I gathered a handful of dry seeds, which look like little curled up worms. Most of the seeds are still green and need to dry further. 

  

Although my perennials return year after year, I gathered seeds from purple and white coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans and the clematis vines. Curiosity led the way. I want to plant the seeds next spring and see how they do. I am a gardener who is continuing my education about plants and growing them, fueled by a deep desire to learn and wonderment about nature.  As a result, I hope to have plants to share in the spring and I can always find room for more flowers!  
  
I completed my afternoon outdoors by watering the gardens by hand, dragging a garden hose behind me as I moved through each section. It was a gorgeous day, warm but with a cooling breeze. I wanted to linger in this paradise a bit longer. It brings me great joy to care for these plants. They exist simply and offer their beauty completely. As the water stirred the plants in the apothecary garden the herbs released their frangrances. The delicate aromas of basil, lavender, oregano, sage and rosemary wafted around me. Contentment and gratitude flowed from me, a sweet frangrance that blended perfectly with the scented air. What absolute bliss. 

   

Journey 247: Joey’s Star

With the start of the new school comes marching band, football, competitions, programs and award ceremonies for the grandkids. As often as I am able to, I’m in the audience, an observer of the lives of these bright, beautiful children. Today, Greg and I had the pleasure of watching with pride as grandson Joey received an award at his school’s first award assembly. 

 

I always enjoy being in Joey and Oliver’s school. I had lunch with the boys several times last school year and I was impressed every time. This was my first school assembly and I was equally inspired. The principal and teachers create such a supportive, joyful environment for learning. 

The children are well behaved and aware of the rules, however, during the lunches I’ve participated in and during the ceremony this afternoon, the kids are allowed to move energy by singing along with the principal, who wears a headset with a mic, clapping, cheering and laughing. A moderate level of noise is not only tolerated, it’s encouraged, expressed at appropriate times. That makes such a difference, for kids who have been sitting in classrooms all day. These more lively lunch times and assemblies allow a much needed expenditure of pent up energy. 

 

Today we cheered on kids from each class as awards were handed out for Sportmanship, for being a Star, and  for Celebrating Learning. Joey, who is in 4th grade this year, was selected from his class for the Star Award. This honor is given to a child who has caught the eye of the teacher, due to academic improvements. 
Joey didn’t know he was receiving the award, so it was fun to watch his face, which brightened into a smile. He moved to the front of the room, receiving his certificate and standing with the other recipients. The children then took the stage, as a group, and parents and grandparents were invited to come forward to snap pics. 

 

I got a sweet smile from this precious boy, as Greg and I took pictures. I’m so proud of him for starting out the school year with a bang. Joey loves sports, especially football, art and computers. He likes a good book and he possesses a bright, inquisitive mind. I know he can accomplish anything he wants. 
The other awards were handed out. Then the kids stood, group by group, and chanted out college cheers. It appears each classroom selects a college and creates a cheer to perform at assemblies. I was impressed again, that even at the K – 4th grade levels, college is talked about in an exciting way. 

After the award assembly was finished, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Joey, telling him how proud I was of him, and giving him a hug. As a bonus, I was able to snag Oliver out of line long enough to hug him as well. He will have his own accomplishments to share this year, as will the other  grandchildren. It’s going to be a great school year! 

 

   

Journey 246: The Art of Coloring

I’ve always enjoyed coloring in color books. As a child I spent hours with my stack of books and the biggest box of crayons I could buy. Just seeing those rows of sharpened crayons sparked my imagination and fueled my creativity. 

 

I never outgrew my love of coloring. As a young adult, before my children were born, I still had a stack of favorite books, the more detailed the better, and a box of Crayola Crayons. Once the kids arrived I had plenty of opportunities to join in their coloring marathons and we spent hours creating together. Now I color with the grandchildren. 

Recently my older daughter Elissa shared that coloring has become a creative exercise in her office. She works for a very innovative company and I was intrigued. Elissa took the coloring pages home and she and Dayan have been enjoying this soothing yet fun activity in the evenings.  
  
My awareness, therefore, was raised as I walked into a Barnes & Noble Bookstore Monday, in Rogers, AR. It didn’t have to be raised very high, as there were tables and tables of coloring books, for adults. (Not to be confused with adult coloring books!) I was enchanted. And left with a book  titled Art for Mindfulness – Landscapes. I picked up a new box of Crayola Colored Pencils and I was set. 

Tonight I had the opportunity to color. I did research first, to discover when this phenomenon started, and found that the coloring craze for adults began in 2013. Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford produced “Secret Garden”, a coloring book for adults, with an initial run of 16,000 copies. To date, this book has sold more than 6 million copies, with 4 million sold just in the last five months. 

 

According to psychologists, the simple act of coloring reduces stress, enhances creativity and improves focus. There is a meditative quality in coloring, a sense of unplugging and opening to the artistic side. In some big cities, enthusiasts are hosting coloring parties. And people fighting serious illnesses such as cancer find coloring to be soothing, and the experience of creating something beautiful, freeing. 

 
Tonight, I loved using colored pencils to free my creativity and unleash my inner artist. The page I selected to color caught my attention because the structure in the middle of the page reminds me of a Hobbit House. It’s probably supposed to be a bridge but that’s the fun in coloring…it is what I say it is. I left the little stream as flowing water, which now gurgles past the Hobbit House, rather than changing it into a pathway. I enjoyed the coloring process, without feeling hurried. I’ll complete this page over the weekend. On the opposite page is a wonderful quote from Kahlil Gibran: “Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. ” What a great time of mindful silence this evening, which did indeed free my soul to sing. 

  

Journey 245: Betty’s Attic

I was back in Arkansas today, working in the house that was home to Greg’s dad. We made good progress, sorting through items, emptying out three closets and creating “keep” and “sell” piles. This will be an ongoing process, until every drawer, cupboard and closet has been sorted through. Then our adult children and grandchildren can come pick through the treasures at Papa’s house. 

 

It wasn’t all work today though. We had a late lunch with Greg’s cousin Pam. I got to enjoy her company and another new restaurant this afternoon. After great meals at Beef O’Brady’s, we headed across Bentonville and Rogers to Betty’s Attic, a very attractive flea market and antique store. 

 
I love browsing in flea markets. This was a new shop to me, and we had more than a casual interest in it. Pam just rented a booth in Betty’s Attic yesterday and set up her merchandise. And she did a great job! Her booth is attractive, full without being cluttered and has a nice variety of merchandise. 

 

Here are more pics of the booths in Betty’s Attic, located at  2511 N 2nd St, Suite #5, Rogers, AR. 

 

 
 

   

We enjoyed looking through this beautifully kept, artfully arranged shop. And we had the opportunity to visit with one of the booth owners, a delightful woman in her 80’s. I think having a booth at one of Joplin’s fine flea markets would be a great way to dispose of the items from Bob’s house that no one in the family carries home. And I’m sorting through stuff in my own house. This could be a fun and profitable way to clear both houses and graciously release items that have fulfilled their roles in our lives. Seems like a win/win to me!

  
  
  

Journey 244: Jimmy’s Egg

I’ve always thought it would be fun to eat at different restaurants and do reviews on the food and service. While the experiences of trying new foods and new eating establishments would be wonderful, I don’t think I am objective enough to be critical. I look for what’s good, what’s unique, what works in each restaurant, rather than any negatives. Yesterday, I got to try an established restaurant in Arkansas that was new to me. Today, thanks to a spontaneous lunch invite from my friend, Garen, I had the opportunity to try a restaurant that is new to Joplin and unfamiliar to me.

jimmys egg

Jimmy’s Egg, located at 1611 S Range Line in Joplin, recently opened. What a fun name! I figured out the chain restaurant offers an assortment of egg dishes, for breakfast and lunch. I knew nothing else about the franchise. Launched from Oklahoma City, OK, in 1980, Jimmy’s Egg, named after the original founder Jim Newman, specializes in cracked-to-order three egg omelets and scrambled skillets, cups of coffee and freshly baked breads and biscuits. Also on the menu are pancakes, French Toast and Belgian waffles. And for lunches, freshly made salads, hamburgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Loc Le, who was a Vietnamese refugee seeking asylum in the US, purchased the single restaurant from Jim. Loc and his wife grew the business to 14 restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro area. In 2008, Loc joined with Garfield’s owner Jim Burke, launching the franchise, which now has 23 locations in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.

I was expecting more of a fast food type establishment, but Jimmy’s Egg is a sit down restaurant, with friendly staff and a great menu. Garen and I both elected to have breakfast for lunch. I zeroed in on the Farmers Scrambled Skillet, a delicious combination of scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, onions, peppers, cheese and homestyle potatoes, and a side of homemade cinnamon raisin bread. Garen opted for a Mexican omelet. with sides of the cinnamon raisin bread and biscuits and gravy. I might add, that neither of us had eaten anything yet when we had lunch!

It was a great meal, with a very cheerful, attentive server who kept our water and tea glasses filled. We had an assortment of salsas and sauces to try with our eggs. The restaurant was clean, with that still-new look, and busy, with plenty of booths and tables for seating.

I appreciated Garen’s invitation. And as always, I appreciated Garen! We chatted and caught up with each other’s journeys, which is valuable enough. However, Garen offers insights, suggestions and stories out of his heart and his experiences, which I find priceless. He is an amazing companion to journey through life with. And adventurous to look for new restaurants to try, new foods to savor. Great qualities in a fellow traveler, and great choice in a restaurant today!

jimmys egg scrambled skillet