Family Celebrations

What a fun afternoon, as family members gathered in Oklahoma to celebrate two birthdays and an early Mother’s Day. Surprised today, was my brother Bryan, whose actual birthday is Tuesday. He was suspicious when he arrived at his mom’s house, and found too many cars parked around it. And genuinely surprised, I think, to find his sisters, sons, mother-in-law and other family waiting for him on the back patio. He arrived kind of quietly, so we almost muffed up the shout of “Happy birthday!” 

Family Celebrations

Also surprised today was my sister Debbie, whose birthday is tomorrow. She thought she was attending a surprise party for our brother. My stepmom prepared birthday cakes for Bryan and Debbie and we all brought celebratory cards for both. 

Family Celebrations
And, because tomorrow is also Mother’s Day, we honored my stepmom, Jerri. She received her own stack of cards and loving hugs. 

Family Celebrations

It was an all out party. Steve grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and Jerri made her famous crockpot beans. Bryan’s wife Christel brought yummy hummus and I supplied organic non GMO tortilla chips and plant based dishes…potato and herb salad and colorful chopped salad. I passed on the burgers and hotdogs. And while everyone else enjoyed chocolate cake and ice cream, I had a delicious bowl of fresh chopped fruit. 

Family Celebrations
Family Celebrations
I appreciated that Jerri gathered us all together. There was much laughter and an easy flow of conversation. The four younger kids present had a big yard to run and play in and the covered patio offered protection from the sun while allowing the breeze to cool us. 

We chatted about life and summer plans, sang happy birthday, told stories and loved on each other. My family does many things well, and near the top of the list is celebrating each other. 

Family Celebrations
Family Celebrations
These are precious times, as we create joy filled memories. The hours spent together are made more poignant by the keenly felt absence of my father, who passed away seven years ago. I still hear the echo of his voice, and his infectious laughter, in this place, the house he shared with my stepmother. I know he was with us in Spirit this afternoon, celebrating Bryan and Debbie. And I know he must feel proud of his wife who walked so valiantly with him through his illness, and now lives life to the fullest, for both of them. 

Family Celebrations
As so often happens, after a fun day of being with each other, we vowed to get together again soon…for another celebration, or just because. 

Happy birthday Bryan. I love you brother and I am proud of the amazing man you have become. I look forward to many more adventures together, including a shared trip to Scotland! Let’s plan that journey soon. 

Happy birthday Debbie. I love you sister and appreciate your creativity and your compassionate heart. We have shared many adventures, with more just on the horizon. Thank you for walking with me. 

Happy Mother’s Day Jerri. I love you, my second mom, and I am grateful to have you in my life. Thank you for your gracious hospitality today and for your courageous and generous heart. 

I am so blessed with the beautiful souls that I call family.   

Family Celebrations

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

I don’t typically post two movie reviews in a row, but when an invitation came to watch the new Beauty and the Beast film, I was thrilled to accept. I arrived at the beautiful Warren Theater in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma with my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and great-nephew Kaleb, excited to see this live action remake of a classic Disney animated film. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Although this was my second visit to the Warren Theater, it was my first time in the Grand Infinity Room. With its 50X100 foot curved screen and comfy seats, this was a grand viewing experience indeed. Before the movie began there was a light show set to music from Beauty and the Beast. Nostalgia hit me immediately!

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast has a large cast that includes Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. This fairytale musical was directed by Bill Condon, is rated PG for mild violence and scenes that might be scary to young children, and has a run time of 2 hours and 9 minutes. 

Beautiful Belle (Watson) and her father Maurice (Kline) live in a country village in France. They are surrounded by small minded people who don’t understand Maurice’s artistic creativity or Belle’s desire to read books, learn new things and go on adventures. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
Belle has attracted the unwanted attention of Gaston (Evans), the town’s hunky self absorbed hero, who doesn’t actually have a hero’s heart. LeFou (Gad) plots to help his best friend win the hand of Belle and charm the townsfolk, while attempting to conceal Gaston’s more ruthless nature. 

When Maurice gets lost on his way to the market, he encounters a montrous beast-like man who takes him prisoner. Belle finds her father held captive in the Beast’s (Stevens) huge, dark castle that lies under a magical enchantment. She frees her father and surrenders herself as a prisoner in his place. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Belle befriends the inhabitants of the gloomy castle. Under the same spell as the Beast, the staff has all been turned into furniture and household items and antiques. There’s the comforting and motherly Mrs. Potts (Thompson) and her tea cup son, Chip (Mack), a singing wardrobe (McDonald) and her cadenza husband (Tucci) and a sweet French woman turned into a feather duster, Plumette (mBatha-Raw). Presiding over the strange household are the candelabra Lumiere (McGregor) and the crotchety clock, Cogsworth (McKellen). 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

This eclectic group views Belle as their only hope for restoration. If the Beast does not learn to love, and be loved in return, before the last petal falls from the enchanted rose, he will remain a beast forever, and his staff will remain in their current state. 

It’s a lot to ask of the girl who lost her father and her freedom on the same day. 

But something beyond magical begins to happen, as Belle and her captor get to know each other. Beast feels his guard coming down, and the anger he has nursed for years is replaced with curiosity and a faint hope. Belle, who has longed for someone to discuss books with, sees beneath the gruff and gruesome exterior of the beast to the man trapped within. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
They both wish to be free…free from the curse, free to live as themselves, free to love, and in Belle’s case, free to leave the castle to see her father. Time is running out as Gaston leads the villagers to the castle to kill the beast. Can love free them all before it is too late? 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
This was a beautiful remake. The animated film released in 1991 was a favorite of mine, the story enchanting on so many levels. My children were young and captivated as well, by this “tale as old as time…”.  Beauty and the Beast was the first film that my granddaughter Aubrey watched over and over, at the age of 18 months. So this story, this movie, holds many special memories for me. 

Which would explain why I watched it today through tear filled eyes, from start to finish. The music stirred my heart, the familiar songs, for this is a musical, made me smile, and the additional new songs and scenes enhanced the film. There were plenty of humorous moments too, from Gaston and his sidekick LeFou, Lumiere and Cogsworth, and even Belle and Beast. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast
What I love most about this film, beyond the music and the special effects and CGI, beyond the humor, is that this is a story about seeing past outward appearances, and into the heart. Beauty and the Beast is a love story, and a story about hope and redemption. 

I so appreciate the opportunity to see the movie today, and spend time unpacking its truths on the ride back to Joplin. I will be seeing Beauty and the Beast again. 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017

I coined a new phrase tonight. Or at least, I connected two ordinary words together and gave them a new meaning. A synchronicity string is when a series of synchronicities with similarities are strung together, leading toward a particular outcome. Being familiar with this phenomenon, and having experienced it many times, the concept lent itself to my new term: creative string. 

By my own definition, a creative string is a series of inspirational and/or imaginative events, with a common thread, strung together and leading to a particular outcome. 

I am currently experiencing a creative string. 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017
In my family, we have a big party every October, hosted by my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon. The Halloween Party is a big deal. Jon and Ashley’s house is transformed, supporting the year’s theme. Debbie, Ashley and Jon spend months creating the props and decorations. Last year’s theme was Tim Burton Films, and we all arrived dressed as characters from his movies. 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017
I was Mrs Lovett, from Sweeney Todd. Because of the amount of thought and preparation that goes into this annual event, March is not too early to be thinking about the Halloween Party, and making plans. In fact, the next year’s theme is always announced at the end of the party. 

For 2017 the party theme is Insane Asylum. Each participant will come in costume, as a historical or fictional insane person. Many family members came up with ideas right away. I’ve been thinking about it, and was having a hard time coming up with a character. And then into my mind popped the old black and white film from 1944, Arsenic and Old Lace. At the heart of this comedic romp are two spinster sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster. 

They are sweet, gracious, thoughtful ladies, and they are wonderfully insane. 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017

I shared this idea with my sister Debbie. We could attend the party as the Brewster sisters. Costumes would be easy…old fashioned clothes, a pair of wire rimmed spectacles for Martha, aprons, and a bottle of “elderberry” wine and a couple of wine glasses. 

She loved the idea. And thus the creative string began. In the library last week, checking to see if they had any of the Best Picture nominated films available on DVD, I came across the Arsenic and Old Lace movie. Perfect! I brought it home and watched it tonight. 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017
I loved this movie as a child. Starring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, and Josephine Hull and Jean Adair as his charmingly wacky aunts, this is a fun comedy. After watching the movie this evening, I can’t figure out why I watched it so many times. It is funny, in an over-the-top kind of way, with many sight gags and exaggerated facial expressions. I giggled through it. But it’s definitely not your typical kid’s film. 

I can only believe that my quirkiness must have been drawn to it and engaged. The film seems to be a forerunner of a later series about an unusual family, the Addams. I laughed aloud over Mortimer’s apologetic line to his new bride, “Look I probably should have told you this before but you see… well… insanity runs in my family… It practically gallops.”  Isn’t there a touch of insanity in everybody’s family? 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey Toward Halloween 2017
I won’t share anything more about the movie, because the next knot in the creative string arrives at the end of the month. I discovered that the Joplin Little Theater is performing the play, Arsenic and Old Lace, March 29 – April 2. These kinds of things don’t even surprise me anymore. They just bring confirmation that all details in life are important, even the fun ones and the seemingly unimportant ones. 

Debbie is going with me to the play. Perhaps we should take notes, as we look toward Halloween 2017, and stepping into the roles of Abby and Martha Brewster. 

I know the string of creative “coincidences” is just beginning. I look forward to seeing what pops up next on this journey. 

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Journey to Halloween 2017

Tim Burton Halloween Party Part II

I shared images yesterday of our family’s annual Halloween party, created and hosted by sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon. They set the stage dramatically, using Tim Burton movies as the theme for this year’s party. And then the guests arrived, dressed as characters from Burton’s films. 

Meet those who came to Halloween House! 

I thought it would be fun to showcase the attendees, and include pics of the characters they dressed up as also. 

Aubrey as Kim Boggs, from Edward Scissorhands. 

Dee as Edward Scissorhands, from Edward Scissorhands. 

Dee and Allison, who portrayed a female version of Beetlejuice, from the film Beetlejuice. 

Ethan as Beetlejuice and Debbie as Juno, from Beetlejuice. 

Jon and Ashley as Jack and Sally, from Nightmare Before Christmas.

Ashley’s friends, Josh and Lisa, made her fall to the floor laughing when they showed up as Sally also! 

Scott as Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, from Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. 

Justin and Jeffrey as Penguin and Batman, from Batman. 

Laura and Drew, as Poison Ivy and Two Face, from Batman. 

Linda and Weston as Mrs. Gloop and Augustus, from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. 

Nicole and Lola, as Oompa Loompa, from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. 

Dayan as the male version of Alice (Alic), Josh as the March Hare, Elissa as a female version of the Mad Hatter, and Mom as the Queen of Hearts, all from Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass. 

Christel and Bryan as the Queen’s guards, from Alice in Wonderland. 

Adam and Zoey as Wonderland Hares and Mason as a baby Jabberwocky, with Christel and Bryan, all from Alice in Wonderland. 

Wonderland had the most representation! 

Greg as the Mayor from Sweeney Todd. 

Me as Mrs. Lovett, from Sweeney Todd. 

London as Audrey Hepburn. While not a character from a Tim Burton movie, I did find a Burton drawing of this classy lady. 

Kaleb as TDM, a young YouTuber with a huge following.

Roy as the Miller Man “super hero”!

And Jake, Samantha and baby Abbie, who fell asleep! 

What a fun evening! There was a buffet and Ashley made sure there were vegan options and fresh veggies. I appreciated her thoughtfulness. A fire was lit in the firepit in “Sleepy Hollow” and photo opportunities abounded. 

Here are a few more pics of people enjoying a great party:


The wigs came off! Aubrey thought they looked like  lunch helpers from school. 

Annual sibling photo – Bryan, Debbie, me, Linda

Golden Tickets redeemed for prizes. 

I am already looking forward to next year’s Halloween Party! 

Tim Burton Halloween Party Part I

This year’s Halloween Party, sponsored by my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon, was so big and so spectacular, that I’m writing two blog posts about it. Part I focuses on the theme and decor, and Part II will focus on the attendees. 

The theme for 2016 was Tim Burton movies. Guests were asked to attend in costume, as a character from one of Burton’s many films. The house was transformed, amazingly, by the creative genius and talent of Debbie, Ashley and Jon. The dining room and hallway became part of Wonderland, a bedroom was the Gotham room and the breakfast nook assumed the form of Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies Restaurant. Ordinary rooms disappeared and magical scenes and props carried the Tim Burton movie theme throughout the house. 

Here is a pictorial tour of the marvelous decor of the Tim Burton Halloween Party. 

Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter…morphing into Alice in Wonderland. 

Through the rabbit hole – Wonderland 

Absalom – Wonderland


Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – Wonderland

Dark Shadows Room

Dark Shadows

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas 

Mrs. Lovett’s – Sweeny Todd

Sweeny Todd

Sweeny Todd

Sweeny Todd

Joker Room – Batman


Beetlejuice Room



Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Front yard

Front yard

These pics reveal the scope of planning and decorating that goes into this yearly event. As always, I was beyond impressed with the creativity of Debbie, Ashley and Jon. There were other vignettes. Every table top, shelf and corner held tributes to the wild imagination of Tim Burton. Although this hard working trio purchased a few props, the majority of the decorations and room transformations were handmade, using a variety of clever materials and techniques. 

Come back for tomorrow’s blog post, and have a look at the characters who showed up tonight!

Surrender 135: Happy Birthday Debbie

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. Debbie lives in Oklahoma, and while we see each other frequently, I’m rarely with her to celebrate on this special day. I’m grateful for the inspiration I had to do a blog post for each member of my immediate family, so that for the first time, I can share more about this beautiful soul. 

I was six years old when Deborah Jean Lauderdale was born, and I was literally pacing back and forth in the neighbor’s yard as I awaited news of her birth. Judy was watching me and my other sister, Linda, while my parents were at the hospital, and when she came to the front door, to announce Debbie had been born, the nervousness I felt was replaced with a strong sense of responsibility. I wanted to help watch over this tiny girl, and protect her. I’ve been doing that ever since. 

Apparently I also felt it was sometimes my duty to keep her humble. The youngest, at that time, of three girls, Debbie was an adorable child, and she knew it. She was told so frequently. She learned at an early age that to get what she wanted, she merely had to bat her big brown eyes. She would cuddle up next to my mother, flash her eyes, and say, “Aren’t you glad you’ve got pretty little ole me?” 

Debbie, who once cut her own bangs, always enjoyed a good peanut butter & jelly sandwich! 

Even though Linda and I managed to convince Debbie for a time that she was retarded (I cringe at that now), and my sense of responsibility failed completely, along with my words, when a stunt I convinced my little sister to try resulted in a broken arm (it was years before the full story was told), I had to agree. I was glad we had pretty little Debbie. I still am! 

I looked up the name Deborah on the name site I like. 

Deborah you are strong in material matters, determined and stubborn. You have good business abilities. You are a good worker, steady and practical, a builder who takes responsibility well. These qualities may bring you a position of authority and power. You are a doer, down-to-earth, serious-minded, reliable, and self-disciplined. You have good powers of concentration. You are versatile and have the ability to learn easily.

You have the power and ability to chose your own destiny and achieve anything you want in life. You can expand in any direction according to your will and your set of values. You have a passion for justice and belong in a position of authority. You have an inherent courage and the endurance to accomplish “The Impossible Dream”. With power comes responsibility. You hold keys to the material world, but with this gift comes high spiritual responsibility to be fair and true to others. You are philosophical and mature, determined and intense with a desire to endure. 

Debbie’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons. 

I can see my sister’s characteristics in those words. She is reliable and self-disciplined, a hard worker with the ability to learn and retain that knowledge. I’ve never met anyone, except her daughter Ashley, who can recite movie quotes for all occasions like she can. She’s creative. She draws and creates wonderful framed quotes and artwork. And at Halloween time, she and Ashley transform the house they all share into an insane asylum or a haunted hotel. Truly, their themed decorations are incredible works of art. 

The second paragraph connected to Debbie’s name is especially significant. I’ve seen my sister live those words. A few years ago she went back to school, to pursue her dream of working as a legal assistant. She had a perfectly fine job, but her heart wasn’t engaged there. After finishing her courses and receiving her certifications, she found the ideal law office to work for, achieving her dream. I am so proud of her. She never gave up, never wavered in taking the next step. Her “passion for justice” has a place to serve. 

Debbie is fun and playful, with a wicked sense of humor. She loves roller coasters and amusement parks, crime dramas and live musicals, children and animals. She wants to visit Scotland someday. I want to go with her. She’s compassionate and puts actions behind her desire to help others. She joined me this year in Joplin’s Chase the Chill event, hanging scarves in trees for anyone who needed one. She jokes that Eeyore is her spirit animal. Debbie relishes her quirks. 

I treasure my sister. I knew something amazing was happening the day she was born. And honestly, she’s watched over me as much as I have her. She has journeyed along side me, encouraged me, been there at my lowest moments and celebrated my greatest ones with me. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Eeyore said, “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

That’s my sister, making all the difference, in the lives of so many people. Happy birthday Debbie! I love you! 

Journey 354: Christmas Tea & Candlelight

It’s been a busy week and a full weekend. I shifted the journey I had planned for today to tomorrow. Instead, I spent the morning and early afternoon with my younger sister, Debbie, enjoying a time of chatting and shopping. Debbie and her daughter Ashley are master shoppers, uncovering discounts and taking advantage of sales and special programs such as Target’s Cartwheel app. 

Their experiences are so amazing that I’m convinced my sister and niece are accompanied by Shopping Angels. These two ladies walk into a store and prices drop on items and unexpected sales commence! I witnessed Debbie in action today, observing as she received better than a 50% discount on her total purchases. 


While we shopped at Target, I found these fun Christmas themed shortbread cookies from the Scottish company, Walkers. And later in the afternoon, after Debbie left for her home in Oklahoma, I discovered her Angels must have stayed behind to show off for me a bit. As I entered a store a clerk hurried by, setting up a display near the door. “Look!” he exclaimed to me, “I found these in the back room after we thought we had sold out. I’m marking them 60% off.” It was the very item I was walking into the store to buy! 

With my shortbread cookies and my weary state, an evening tea sounded perfect, in place of dinner. I used a vintage footed teacup and saucer, made in England by Rosina Fine Bone China. The design is called, appropriately, Yuletide. The set belonged to Greg’s mother and I used it for the first time this evening. 


While a pot of Scottish thistle tea brewed, I lit candles throughout the house. This is a practice that I love during the Christmas season. What peace and joy surrounds me as I sit looking at the flickering lights of dozens of candles. Warmth surrounds me too! I turn the thermostat down a few degrees, as I light so many candles that it brings the indoor temperature up. 


I made the decision this week to pause on working through The Artist’s Way until after Christmas. I was engaged every evening during the week and spent time with family over the weekend. I have not had time to properly do the assignments for Week Seven. Rather than rush through, I made the choice to stay in this chapter until my schedule slows down after the holiday. I’ll return to this wonderful course then. My artist date this afternoon consisted of leisurely shopping to complete my Christmas gift buying, apparently with Deb’s Angels in tow! 



Actually, surrounded by beauty, sipping tea, fully content, I am in the perfect space for writing and thinking. I’ll pull out my notebook and The Artist’s Way and start on those assignments after all. 


Journey 353: Chase the Chill – Joplin

What a great opportunity today to take part in a first in Joplin. Chase the Chill is an event hosted in many cities throughout the US and Canada in which donated scarves are hung in trees or tied to lampposts in public locations throughout town. Each warm wrap is tagged with a label that lets the recipient know that the scarf is free for the taking. The Joplin scarves had these tags:


My friend Ann Leach created the Joplin event. The idea is to provide warmth for our fellow citizens. There is no income requirement or other criteria to receive a scarf. Anyone who wants a scarf is free to take one. Drop off locations included Spiva Center for the Arts, The Joplin Public Library, Homewood Suites and Unity Church of Joplin. More than 300 warm and colorful scarves were collected. 

Twenty one volunteers met at Homewood Suites on 32nd Street, to distribute scarves. I attended, along with my sister Debbie. We grabbed a bag of 10 scarves and headed to our assigned destination, Rex Street behind Walmart. It was a beautiful afternoon to contribute to the well being of others. 

We found a row of young trees growing along Rex Street. Working together, we moved from tree to tree, tying the long scarves to branches or trunks. 

There was a strong breeze that fluttered the scarves of many colors, creating a festive look. Traffic was heavy along the street, as holiday shoppers drove to their next stops, and we saw curious passers by peering out their car windows. Although the temps were warm today, cold weather is coming. I trust that the scarves will all go to the right recipients and will bring warmth and joy and hope. 


As we tied the last scarf to a branch, we looked back to check out our work. What a cheerful sight, those long scarves decorating  that row of trees. I appreciated my sister Debbie taking the time to accompany me and help out. And I’m grateful to Ann for bringing the Chase the Chill event to Joplin. 


May each person who selects a scarf be blessed, feeling the warmth that it offers, and the loving embrace of the kind souls who purchased it, tagged it, bagged it and lastly, tied it to a tree or post. Our high energies and good wishes go forth in Joplin and will return to us in like kind, blessing us as well. I look forward to Chasing the Chill again next year. 


Journey 220: Thistle Seeds

Early in the spring, as I planted in containers and filled in spots in the garden, I visited a variety of garden centers in Missouri and Arkansas. I found lots of amazing plants. However, although I searched every botany shop that I stopped at, I never found thistle plants. Because of my Scottish heritage, and as memorials of my visit to Scotland last year and my cousin Mindy, who traveled with me to our homeland and then journeyed on into eternity in January, I wanted thistle plants.

seeds Debbie

I gave up the search for this year. And then, my beautiful younger sister, Debbie, surprised me with seeds. She found them online and ordered them for me. She attended Bob Moore’s funeral this past week and she arrived bearing gifts for me, precious seeds. Not only did she purchase Scottish Thistle for me…she also gave me Milk Thistle, Safflower, and English Lavender seeds.

seeds handful of thistle

It is late in the year to be sowing seeds, but I couldn’t resist. On this warm but very beautiful evening, I was out in the backyard garden, scattering seeds. I planted half of them and saved the rest to sow next spring. There is time for these seeds to sprout and thrive. I can pot them in containers and bring them indoors for the winter, if I so choose. I’ve had a large metal box, with handles, that I have saved. I didn’t know what I was saving it for, but it has remained empty all summer….until tonight. Filling it with potting soil, I divided the surface into four zones and scattered seeds in each area.

seeds metal box

English Lavender went into the first section. Lavender is a herbaceous plant that has fragrant stems, leaves and flowers, in pinks, purples or whites. It is a great addition to any garden, whether in the herbal section or a cottage or border garden. Uses are many and include dried flowers, teas, sachets, potpourri, beauty products and herbal remedies.

seeds english lavender

Milk Thistle is another type of thistle, as its name implies, with red to purple flowers. As a herbal remedy, milk thistle is excellent for liver health and to promote bile flow. It is considered effective in cleansing the body of toxins and even in combating cancer. I have never had this plant before either, so I am excited to add it to my apothecary garden. Thistles are considered invasive, so I will be growing them in containers as I study their habits.

seeds milk thistle

Safflowers are considered one of humanity’s oldest cultivated plants. It too is a thistle like plant with red, orange or yellow flowers. Commercially, the safflower plant is grown for the oil that is extracted from the seeds. The oil can be used for cooking and also has medicinal properties for heart health, and can be used to treat fevers, coughs and breathing problems. This plant is new to me as well.

seeds safflower

Scottish Thistle, the national flower of Scotland, has grayish green stems and leaves and flowers that range from pink to purple. It is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character and has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III, 1249-1286. According to legend, an invading Norse army, attempting to sneak up at night on a Scottish encampment, inadvertently stepped on thistle plants, which caused them to cry out in pain. Those cries alerted the Scots, who routed the Norse army. The lowly thistle, which grows everywhere in Scotland, was elevated to their national symbol as a result. I am so thrilled to have seeds to grow my own thistle, symbol of Scotland and my roots, beauty and travel. I will think of Mindy as well, any time I look at Scottish Thistle in my garden.

seeds scottish thistle

I wanted a fun way to identify which sections contained which seeds, in my metal box. I wrote the flower names on wooden clothes pins and attached them to sticks I found in the yard. This was a simple and effective choice for markers, and it has a rustic charm. I like it. I’ll mist the soil every day, maybe twice a day, in this heat, and watch for the little sprouts to appear. Thank you, Debbie, for not only buying me the seeds, but for knowing my heart so well. I’m smiling ear to ear, old gardening clothes on, hair pulled back in a ponytail, the cloying scent of bug spray clinging to me, and feeling wonderfully content. I love your surprise….and you!

seeds completed box

Journey 100: National Sibling Day

sibling day youngsters

Today is National Sibling Day in the US, a day set aside to recognize and honor the relationships between sisters and brothers. The holiday was originally conceived by Claudia Evart, in memory of her brother and sister who both died early in life. In 2005 the holiday was officially introduced into the Congressional Record.

In researching this day, I discovered that 80% of people in the US have a sibling and that by the age of 11, children devote one-third of their time to their brothers and sisters. That’s more time than they spend with parents, teachers, friends or on their own. Having siblings teaches a child social skills, according to one study done on kindergarteners. The study revealed that children with siblings got along better with classmates than those without. The mix of boys and girls matters too. Boys that grow up with sisters are more sensitive and have better listening skills (You are welcome, Bryan!), while girls who grow up with brothers are less serious.

sibling day sisters

Do we look less serious here? Thanks, Bryan!

Relationships with siblings often outlast all other relationships. Our brothers and sisters are our first, and often our last, friends. We begin and end life with them. We quarrel, compete, wrestle, laugh, love, encourage and support each other. Being the eldest in my family, I was fiercely protective of my younger sisters and my baby brother. We are all adults, comfortably in middle age, and we still enjoy each other’s company, choose to spend time together, play and celebrate together. And I still feel protective of them. Throughout the day, working and teaching, spending time with a grandson and showing property, I thought about my siblings and felt gratitude for each of them.

sibling day Linda

Linda is the sibling closest to me in age, the person who made me a big sister. I can’t really remember a time where she wasn’t present in my life and still she is often my companion, doing firsts, going to movies, hanging out. As small children, I felt a huge sense of responsibility for her and became her interpreter when most adults couldn’t understand her rapid speech pattern. Linda lives life out loud and to the fullest, shares from her heart, loves children and animals. She is Gigi to her four grandchildren and to the rest of the kids in the family, and mom to two grown sons. She is fun, outgoing, loves to laugh. Linda teaches me about being true to who I am, and loving and accepting others, just as they are.

sibling day Debbie

Debbie is my younger sister, by six years. She was so adorable as a toddler and little girl, that Linda and I had to occasionally take her down a notch! She good naturedly put up with our attempts to teach her humility, when she would bat her big brown eyes and ask, “Aren’t you glad you have pretty little ol’ me?” And of course, we were. Debbie is artistic, quiet, but with a wicked sense of humor and a vast knowledge of music and movie quotes. She is Meem to her two grandsons and the other children in the family, and mom to one daughter, who shares her love of Halloween. Debbie teaches me that happiness doesn’t always show up with a smile but sometimes with a twinkle in the eye and a witty remark and a deep sense of loyalty.

sibling day Bryan

Bryan is the baby in the family, the son of my dad and stepmother. He is 14 years younger than I am. I loved him from the moment I saw him. He was a game changer, being the brother in a sibling group that had only contained sisters before his arrival. I spent many happy hours in the summer months, during my teens, playing toys with this bright, happy, inquisitive boy. Bryan was a young uncle to my children, and remarkably, my son and my brother look similar, because they both so resemble my dad….same dark hair and eyes, and same big smile. He is affectionate, fun, intelligent. He is a great dad to his two boys and his stepson. Bryan teaches me about compassion and humor and connection. He still calls me Sister, rather than using my name.

Clara Ortega says, “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” I love that, especially since my sisters and brother and I are far from childhood. I treasure the fact that these dear souls walk alongside me, knowing me in ways that few people do, willing to fight for me, protect me, encourage me, be with me. And I do the same for them. Together, they have taught me how powerful and unbreakable the bonds of love are. I am honored and blessed to be their sister. I am grateful for them. Happy Sibling Day Linda, Debbie and Bryan. I love you and I am grateful for you!

sibling day Halloween

Having fun, Halloween 2014