Journey 17: Dayan Drives

dayan drives 2

Today’s journey was a literal one, around a small town near Joplin, and an exciting first. Late on this beautiful spring like day, Greg and I picked up Dayan for some driving practice. This 15 year old has his driver’s permit and I had yet to let him drive my car. It was the perfect time to remedy that.

Taking advantage of the fact that school was not in session on a Saturday, we put Dayan behind the wheel in the parking lot of a local high school. I let his papa sit up front with him while I took the backseat so I could take a few pics. I was NOT a back seat driver, allowing Greg to coach his grandson in driving skills while I offered praise and encouragement.

dayan drives with papa

Dayan has not had a lot of experience yet, with driving, and yet he did remarkably well. After just a few minutes of handling my car in the parking lot, testing the touchiness of the brakes and getting a handle on how far to turn the steering wheel, Dayan headed out into the streets surrounding the school.

He did great! His confidence and ability rose immediately. At this time of day, on Saturday, there were not many cars in the area. However, Dayan did well when faced with oncoming traffic and negotiating streets with cars parked along the curbs. We found the perfect route that looped from school parking lot down side streets to another school parking lot. He practiced stopping and starting smoothly, parking within the lines on the parking lot, maneuvering over speed bumps and on the city streets, using his turn signal, moving into the turn lane and stopping at stop signs. I was so proud of him and had fun riding along in the back, snapping pics.

dayan drives in traffic

Greg was a patient and encouraging driving instructor, offering just the right blend of instruction and letting Dayan figure things out for himself. They kept up an easy banter in the front, with Dayan asking the occasional question and Greg answering or helping Dayan to arrive at the answer on his own. I marveled as I watched this tall, handsome young man drive. Wasn’t he just a toddler a short time ago? I remembered Greg and I accompanying Dayan and his parents to the zoo when he was a little over a year old. Rather than being fascinated by the various animals, this bright and curious boy looked with wonder at the huge fans cooling the Desert Animals Section and pointed excitedly at the staff golf carts and the zoo train chugging along the track.

dayan drives

That day, as he toddled around, he was interested in machines and gadgets and vehicles. Today he is smoothly operating my car while chatting with his granddad, gracing me from time to time with a smile over his shoulder, when he was safely at a stop. I know it won’t be long at all before he drives off to college in his own car, entering into an adventure of his own, following his own path. I am so honored to have walked beside my grandson, learning from him as much as I have offered to him. We will always be close, Dayan and I, no matter how far away he goes to continue his education, and he has set the precedent for the relationships that I cherish with each of my other grandchildren.

The journey ahead is bright with promise for Dayan. I look forward to seeing where life takes him as he offers his gifts to the world. For this afternoon, it was enough to sit in the backseat and watch him drive, knowing he is expanding his horizons bit by bit, content in knowing he’s not yet ready to say goodbye and drive toward that horizon. With joy, I  smiled back at him, each time he grinned happily at me.

dayan drives smile

 

Journey 16: Family Friday

family dinner quote

If I described today’s journey in one word, it would be FAMILY. A week ago today, I had a birthday. I got to see a few family members throughout that day and Greg and I enjoyed Keltic Knot at the Woodshed in Carthage, a real treat for me. With the varied schedules among my adult children and their kids, it was a whole week before we could gather for a meal. Today was a Family Friday.

I spent a portion of the day with two family members who are very dear to me. Harry and I accomplished so much today and enjoyed chatting in between our many errands. Those interesting talks in the car as we drove to various appointments were priceless. Such an amazing young man. I got to love on Jeff too, giving him a hug and sharing lunch together. Jeff is a sweetheart. A grown man with a boy’s heart and enthusiasm, his way of looking at life and enjoying the moment teaches me to do the same. When Harry and I returned late this afternoon from our last appointment, Jeff greeted us and wanted to know where we had been. I loved how he studied us, determining whether we had been off having fun without him, even after Harry assured him we had NOT been having fun. Harry is so compassionate and so very good with his uncle. Watching them together warms my heart.

family dinner Jeff, Mindy and Harry

Because I failed to snap a pic this afternoon, “borrowing” one of Mindy’s fb pics.           
Harry, Jeff, Mindy

This evening I joined all of my children and all of my grandchildren for dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. This is a rare enough occurrence, having everyone present, that it qualifies as a high celebration! Greg, my mom and stepdad, and my sister Linda made us a lively party of 16. That created a bit of a dilemma for the staff at my favorite Mexican food restaurant as they sought to seat us. They found two oversized booths close together and we divided up. Greg joined the adult children and their spouses and significant other, and I gathered the grandchildren to me, along with Linda, Mom and Walter. We declared our table the fun table, and indeed, it was! (Although hearing laughter ringing out from table 2, I did peek over and they appeared to be having a grand time as well!)

family dinner side one

family dinner side two

Table One: Jonathan, Joey, Cindy, Aubrey, Linda

Walter, Mom, Dayan, Oliver

I have five grandchildren, ages 15, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, who is the youngest, and the only girl. They are each unique and gifted and precious in their own ways and I enjoyed talking to all of them and listening to their stories. Dayan could easily have joined the adult table, but I’m so glad he sat with us. The conversation was animated, and not just because of the kids. Linda and Mom joined right in. Poor Walter rarely got a word in, but he smiled and he won the cool hat award.  And I learned a new tech tip. Dayan taught me how to use the pano button in my iPhone for taking wide angle pictures.

I am so grateful for my family. Grateful for Harry and Jeff. Grateful for Elissa, Josh, Dayan and Jonathan….Nathanael, Megan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…Adriel and Nate. Grateful for Greg, Mom, Walter and Linda. Each juggled their schedule around or made some effort to be present with me today and this evening. I couldn’t ask for a better family. I couldn’t feel more loved!

family dinner table two side one e

family dinner table two side two

Table Two: Greg, Elissa, Adriel, Nate

Josh, Megan, Nathanael

Journey 9: Birthday Blessings

Birthday 2015 Keltic Knot 2

I have to admit, I almost cancelled my birthday this year. After the sudden loss of my cousin Mindy yesterday afternoon, the likelihood of celebrating today seemed remote.  I knew Mindy would not agree with that thought. She would have encouraged me to find the joy in the day. Through a variety of people and throughout the day, joy did arrive.

My day started early with picking up my six year old granddaughter to take her to school. After she climbed into the car, I noticed her staring at the stocking cap on my head. Aubrey rarely sees me in a cap, even when it is very cold. “What?” I asked. “It’s my birthday. This is my birthday hat.” I told her. With a look of delight on her beautiful little face, she piped up, “How will we celebrate?” I chuckled over her enthusiasm. “Really….what will we do to celebrate?” she insisted. How I love this little girl. I promised her we would celebrate after I picked her up from school in the afternoon. And like that, the day shifted. Yes, I was sad. However, I decided I wouldn’t wrap the sadness around me like a cloak, shutting out the world.

The day offered an endless stream of surprises. Arriving in Neosho to accompany Harry to the funeral home, he presented me with a gift from Mindy as soon as I walked through the door. Wednesday, after I took Mindy home from doctors’ appointments in Joplin, and saw her settled in for a nap, she sent Harry searching for a surprise she had ordered for me. The package wasn’t where she thought it was. She was so tired and needed to sleep. I told her not to worry about it and I would get it later. Harry found the gift…two Keep Calm mugs with English tea. I was so touched. How like Mindy. And what an acknowledgement of our shared love of tea time. I cherish this last gift from her.

Birthday 2015 tea

And I have to say, I was so proud of Harry this morning. I went with him to the funeral home to be supportive of him while he made decisions and choices. Everything he did was honoring of his mother and full of love. This young man, who has suddenly found himself responsible for so many things, is stepping up into a new level of adulthood with grace. Mindy raised an amazing son. My heart sang as I drove back to Joplin.

My dear friend Garen invited me out for a birthday lunch at Ichiban.  I tried the New York, New York sushi for the first time. It was delicious with crunchy bits of chopped apple sprinkled on top. Most of all, I appreciated and enjoyed the conversation and the sharing of ideas that flowed between us. Garen has been a wonderful friend and a fellow traveler on the journey and I am so grateful for him.

As promised, when I picked up Aubrey from school, we had our own little celebration. Greg joined us and we had a treat at Chick-Fil-A. My precious granddaughter presented me with a gift that she made in school today. Crying out “Happy Birthday” she handed me a beautiful picture she made of herself with her head tipped back and a perfect snowflake landing on her tongue. What a wonderful representation of joy. The artwork has a place of honor on my refrigerator. Aubrey and I paid my mom a visit and she too made my birthday special with a lovely card and a birthday check.

Birthday 2015 Aubrey gift

Greg provided the final celebration for today. He discovered that the Irish band, Keltic Knot, was playing this evening at The Woodshed in Carthage. After dropping Aubrey off with her dad and stepmom, we located the venue within Cherry’s Art Emporium on the square. What a unique and interesting place. Dinner was available too and we had the Shepherd’s Pie. It was wonderfully filling. What a great night of music. The band was talented and fun to listen to. The 18 year old lead singer had a rich, lilting voice. Her dad played bass guitar and sang. Tim played the mandolin and a variety of other instruments and the young drummer was phenomenal. Playing traditional and contemporary Irish and Scottish music, Keltic Knot entertained the crowd with haunting melodies and lively drinking songs. Of course, I thought of Mindy. This is our kind of music! Then the bass player brought out a set of Highland bagpipes. My heart swelled and tears stung my eyes as he played several songs, including Amazing Grace. I know without a doubt that I have Scottish blood when the sound of bagpipes makes me teary eyed.

Birthday 2015 Keltic Knot

In between those beautiful blessings today, I received hundreds of messages via texts, phone calls, emails and Facebook posts from around the world. Friends and family wished me a happy birthday and also condolences and the mix was exactly what I needed today. I know it is not easy to offer into the grief of another. And how much more complicated it becomes when a day that should be celebrated falls immediately after a day of shocking loss. Yet the messages from these dear souls, of joy mixed with sorrow, of empathy and encouragement, were genuine and uplifting. I was blessed indeed by the outpouring of love today. Thank you from my overflowing heart.

Birthday 2015

Day 359: Christmas 2014

christmas 2014 logo

I love Christmas time….the magic of the season, the deeply spiritual meanings, the time spent with family…all bring joy and peace to my heart. This year, in keeping with the theme of new experiences, we had a different type of Christmas.

Oh, we gathered together as a family, and as always, we had a wonderful, cheerful time. For the first time ever, one of my children was not present. She had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Georgia, with her dear friend Nate and his family. And I’m so glad Adriel, who loves tradition, stepped out of her comfort zone, and accepted their invitation. We gathered at her house anyway, Nathanael and Megan, Elissa and Josh with sons Dayan and Jonathan, and my sister Linda. I’m pet sitting for my daughter while she is away and she gave us permission to celebrate in her home, as we have the last couple of years. We had a non-traditional Christmas dinner. Greg picked up a variety of smoked meats from Rib Crib and we had appropriate sides such as baked beans, mustard potato salad, rolls, a veggie tray with ranch dressing, deviled eggs (thanks Megan!) and a relish tray. The meal was finished off with Dutch Apple pie and pecan pie.

christmas 2014 adriel and nate

Nate and Adriel in Georgia

Just as I was missing Adriel, Elissa had the brilliant idea to Facetime her and Nate. We spent a hilarious 10 minutes talking to Adriel and Nate as they peered into the phone. We all waved and chattered and the phone got passed around so we could wish our absent family members a Merry Christmas! I love that technology can keep us closer and I’m so grateful for the ability to see people as we talk, who are miles and miles away. We missed Aubrey, Joey and Oliver, who were spending the evening with their other parents. I’m so glad I got to see them last night and spend a few minutes with them.

christmas 2014 elissa talking to adriel

Elissa on Facetime call with Adriel

After opening presents, which I won’t speak of, since Adriel and Nate have not received theirs yet, we chatted for a while, laughing over stories. Dayan’s recent hilarity at his high school musical is probably the family’s top funny story for the year. Nate shared a recent tale about Aubrey, complete with a picture to illustrate it. I love that our family laughs so much together. I love that we can be so easy and relaxed with each other. Love flows as richly as conversation and storytelling and laughter. I am deeply blessed.

christmas 2014 megan and linda christmas 2014 the guys

Megan and Linda                              Josh, Nathanael, and Dayan

Greg surprised me with special gifts that relate to my word for next year. He gave me a box of chocolate covered cherries, which I have always loved, and have nothing to do with next year. And he gave me a hand lettered sign with the word “journee” on it. He was concerned that I would think he didn’t know how to spell “journey”. I knew immediately the significance of the word. Journee is the Old French word from which we derive our word journey. It literally means “a day’s travel”. This word is from the Latin diumum meaning “daily portion”. I love that. More about my word, theme and symbol for next year on January 1, however, I am thrilled with the sign. He also gave me a gift card to Books A Million with the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  Again, an acknowledgement of my path for next year. I am grateful!

christmas 2014 jonathan e

Jonathan

(forgive the poor quality of my iPhone pic!)

When I was a child, the day after Christmas was the saddest day of the year for me. A whole year to wait until Christmas rolled around again. I no longer feel sad after the holidays. I keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart all year. Each day brings its own gifts and blessings, mine to receive. I am content with the journey, and Christmas will arrive again, at the perfect time.

christmas 2014 gifts

Oh, the places I will go, indeed!

Day 341: Treasures Discovered…at the Perfect Time

treasures found

I absolutely love when unexpected things happen that remind me that the thoughts and desires that I send out are energy. And they will find their way back to me,  manifesting in their own time. I am delighted and amazed also when an image pops into my head, another form of thought, and shortly after that, the image becomes reality. For my first today, I acquired two items. One I have been searching for since early April. The other just came into my awareness last night.

This afternoon, I traveled to Arkansas with Greg to visit his dad. I dearly love this kind, gentle man. At 93 he still cares for himself and has a sense of humor, although by his own confession, his energy levels are low and at a soul level, he is even more weary. It is always a pleasure to visit with him and help him in small ways, which are all he will allow.

After lunch, we stopped at the grocery store to restock essentials for him, and Greg picked up a couple of packages of bite sized candy bars for his dad to snack on. Dad Moore doesn’t eat a lot, but he still has a sweet tooth and enjoys an occasional treat. Back home, while Greg and his dad were looking at old photos and reminiscing, I rummaged through cupboards, looking for a little candy dish to put the chocolates in. I saw the corner of a small plastic bag sticking up and curious, pulled it free of the dainty bowl it was tucked into.

I know I made some kind of sound of surprise! Something akin to “Oh my goodness!” Within the sealed plastic bag were three wooden teaspoons, from Taiwan. Ever since I visited Teavana, the loose tea store in Springfield, back on April 2, I have been searching for wooden teaspoons. I have my loose tea that I purchased in clear mason jars. I measure out the tea by the teaspoon, and I’ve wanted tiny wooden spoons just because they look so much more earthy than having a plastic teaspoon stuck in the jar, as I do now. I’ve looked in several retail stores in Joplin, without success. I eventually decided I’d find them someday, at the perfect time. Which….happened to be today! Those spoons have been in that cupboard for at least 15 years, since Greg’s mom passed 15 years ago next month and Greg’s dad has left every item in its place, unchanged. I’ve never seen these spoons before and have no idea when Mimi received them or what the story is behind them. I only know she had the spoons tucked away, and now I have them. Dad Moore, generous man that he is, told me I could have them. I am thrilled.

treasures wooden teaspoons

After a wonderful afternoon of visiting with Dad Moore, and running some errands, we prepared to leave. Greg paused in the kitchen to get some info from his dad, and asked me to turn on the overhead light. As I flipped the light on, my attention was caught by an item hanging on the wall, directly above the light switch. I know my head tilted to the side, like a dog who is trying to understand the words being spoken to her. Last night, as I was decorating my house for Christmas, I created a small coffee table vignette, for the first time, I might add. I liked the simplicity of it and the way it looked. And yet….it needed something. It needed a wooden tray beneath the grouping. As I headed to Arkansas today, I was thinking about that wooden tray. I have one in my bedroom, on my bed, holding a book, a teacup and my great-grandmother’s hankie. I could use that one, I mused…but in my mind, I saw a lighter colored tray with shorter sides. Perhaps a bamboo one? The image I had was very clear.

Now, standing in the kitchen, while Greg and his dad discussed eye doctors and appointments, I was stunned to see the very wooden tray that had popped into my mind, hanging on the wall. I had literally walked by it five or six times this afternoon, without seeing it. The light illuminated it for me. It could be that the image of that particular tray surfaced in my mind because subconsciously, I have seen it there in the kitchen many times without registering it. I don’t know. I don’t care. The tray I had been thinking about, since last night, was right there before me. I removed it from the wall and turned around with it in my hands, perhaps with my head still tilted to the side. Again, Greg’s dad graciously gifted me with it, with a smile and a wave of his hand.

These items now have a place of honor in my home. I will enjoy the tray and the spoons, and I’ll smile every time I scoop out tea or arrange a vignette or serve tea on the tray. Even better, I cannot look at those simple reminders of the wonders and mysteries of the universe without giving thanks and expressing joy.

treasures wooden tray

treasures wooden tray 2

Day 334: Fresh Christmas Wreath

wreath

Today’s first was a simple one, and very much a spontaneous moment. The weather was perfect early in the day, reaching the mid 60’s before a cold front moved through, sending the temps plummeting. I decided to go get a Christmas tree while it was still warm. I won’t be decorating the tree for a couple of days, but at least it was pleasant selecting it at Lowe’s Garden Center.

Greg graciously accompanied me with his truck to load the tree in the back. Last year I bought a small Fraser Fir Pine tree and LOVED it. I’ve purchased fresh Douglas Firs for years, usually 6  – 7 feet tall. But last year, wanting to change up the tree decorations a bit, and to conserve space, which is limited in my living room, I bought a shorter, smaller,  Fraser Fir and enjoyed it so much. I embraced my new tradition today and immediately found the perfect tree. As we were headed to the check out, Greg asked me, “Do you want a fresh wreath?” I’ve never had one before. I’d been admiring them at the front of the garden center. I love a fresh Christmas tree because of the way it makes my whole house smell wonderfully woodsy. I have nothing against artificial trees….I just prefer a fresh one for my own enjoyment.

The wreaths smelled just as wonderful. They were crafted from several types of evergreens, including fir trees, and have pinecones and little blue berries on them. When Greg offered to buy one for me, I said yes! I selected a wreath and brought it home. I switched out the fall wreath hanging on the front door for the Christmas one. Every time I enter the house, I inhale the scent and sigh, happily. What a perfectly simple and beautiful first.

Before the weather turned cold, I cleared the front porch of the fall items. That covered area is now ready to be decorated for Christmas. Inside the house, I packed away some of the fall décor and began cleaning. Greg climbed a ladder and handed down boxes of Christmas decorations.

This week I intend to move slowly, from room to room, cleaning, fluffing, and decorating. I don’t want to purchase any new items, but use what I have, in different ways. This year I’ve enjoyed keeping pieces out and moving them to a new location or combining them with different items for a fresh look, as I’ve decorated for each season. So some of the spring items, rather than all going back into storage, transitioned into fall. And those will now appear in my Christmas décor. The bird cages and birds especially will feature in my decorating.

I love this time of year. Partly it is because of Christmas and the way my home looks….so many candles flicker in my house that it raises the temperature on the thermostat! I look forward to time spent with family and friends. I spend time in silent meditation, grateful for the reason for the season and my spiritual journey. Also, December is a transitional month for me and I use this time to reflect on the past year, and release it. And I begin to think about next year and all that will unfold. It is a quiet, refreshing, magical time. I will have much to reflect on, as I finish up this incredible year of firsts. And, I am so excited about the upcoming year. My word, theme and symbol are all coming together, seeking me out, drawing forward into the next adventure. All will be revealed….soon!

Day 331: Thanksgiving Dinner OUT

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC

Today’s first was about what didn’t happen! For the first time, a small but cheerful group of us, family and friends, ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant….Golden Corral in Joplin. Which meant, I didn’t cook today and even better, I didn’t clean up a destroyed kitchen either! I really don’t mind cooking big dinners, especially for family gatherings around the holidays. It was nice, though, this afternoon, to leave the restaurant and not face a mountain of dirty pots, pans and dishes. I actually got to take a wee nap instead, and that was sweet indeed.

My police officer son was on duty today. He and fellow officers had a potluck dinner at the police station and his lovely bride Megan joined him there for dinner. Daughter Elissa spent the day with her fiancé Josh and his family. Tomorrow is a big day for them! With the family dynamics changed, I opted for dinner out. I knew Golden Corral would be open and their buffet would not only have all the traditional fare but many other entrees and sides to choose from.

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC Walter

Our little gathering today included my mom and stepdad, my sister Linda, daughter Adriel, her friend Nate, Greg and Dave. This year I invited others who might want to hang out with us, if they didn’t have any place else to be. Most had somewhere to go, but the invitation went out and everyone was free to join in or not….no obligation! Dave is the awesome Zumba instructor for my mom and me. Over this year he has become a friend and now, he’s practically family. After spending a boisterous couple of hours with us, he knows stuff! He was a welcome addition, as was Nate.

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC mom Dave Linda

I found it fun to be at Golden Corral. I knew it must be an okay place to be when I arrived at 10:45 am and there were lines out both sets of doors. Because our group stood in line together and passed the time chatting and laughing, it didn’t seem to take long before we were being seated. The restaurant was full. It could be said that I had lunch with hundreds of strangers, yet it was a festive atmosphere. I spoke to people in the buffet lines and smiled and discussed the marvelous selection of food. At our table, our group laughed a great deal. Dave and Nate learned some of our family stories and shared some of their own, and discovered that my mom loves Golden Corral fudge!

Thanksgiving 2014 at GC Nate Adriel Greg

It was a great day. Gratitude is so important to me. Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to be reminded of all that I have to be thankful for, and yet I daily choose to make thankfulness the foundation for everything else in my life. It is so much more than living with the “glass half full”, it is an awareness that gratitude for what I have makes what I do have, enough. And it opens the door to so many other wonderful possibilities and opportunities.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Milton and it says, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” I love that. I desire that my heart be so full of gratitude that it can’t be contained, flowing upward, to my Source, the Creator of all, and outward, touching everything and everyone in my world. So be it.

gratitude in your heart

Day 271: A Limerick to Close Tolkien Week…and Happy Birthday Greg

Limerick Contest

Today brings to a close Tolkien Week. What fun I have had with this week. It is amazing that it has been observed since 1978 and I only became aware of it this year, during my year of firsts. To finish the week on a strong Tolkien/Lord of the Rings note, I wrote a limerick and entered it into the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest.

I check in often on this informative and fun page on Facebook. Being Tolkien Week, I’ve been especially mindful of the news and fun trivia contests Middle Earth News has posted. When I saw the Limerick Contest, I knew I wanted to finish the week by entering the contest, which is over at midnight tonight.

It’s been years since I wrote a limerick, which is a fun poem with five lines. The first, second and fifth lines rhyme and consist of eight or nine syllables. And the third and fourth lines rhyme and have five or six syllables each. They often begin, “There once was a….” but don’t have to include that opening phrase, which is good, because those words use up four of the nine syllables available! It honestly took me just a few minutes to write a limerick, featuring Aragorn, known early in the Lord of the Rings story and movie as Strider. He came immediately to mind, and so I went with that impression. My first limerick had too many syllables. I mistook syllables for words and then looked up the correct structure again on the contest site. That was an easy fix. I simply removed some of the words.

Here is my entry into the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest:

Strider was reluctant to be king.

His sword guarded bearer of the ring.

He came into his own

On the way to the throne.

At the coronation he did sing.

Today was also Greg’s birthday! The kids were all working or out of town, so I joined him for a birthday dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. We enjoyed Mexican food and a drink. Afterwards, we stopped by Baskin Robbins for a birthday ice cream cone.

Greg and I have journeyed together for many years….since we were young uns. Our families had been connected for two generations before we met. His grandmother hosted a baby shower for my grandmother, when she was expecting my mother. So interesting the way life’s flow brings people together. We have had an interesting journey, to say the least! The last few years, we have come to understand more and more about the bigness, the expansiveness, of life and the richness of relationships. We also have come to appreciate that we are each a teacher in the life of the other.

Greg has been and continues to be a vital part of my life. He is a wonderful dad to our three kids and a fun papa to the grandkids. He is resourceful, able to “MacGyverize” his way through busted gadgets and challenging projects. I am so grateful for all the work he has done to bring about the backyard renovation. The fence, the brick patio, the Peace Gate, which so ingeniously transformed a door from a tornado damaged house into a beautiful sliding gate, were all his contributions. He has furthered my dreams, of seeing Rivendell brought to life in the backyard, and of traveling to Scotland, knowing that the trip was more than a vacation for me.

I’ve watched Greg’s personal journey the past few years and have seen him go inward to discover, at a deep level, who he is. He has introduced me to some amazing authors that inspired and encouraged him, including Byron Katie, Michael A Singer and Thich Nhat Hanh. We enjoy lively conversations around what we are reading and about life itself. And his current journey with his aging father has been very precious. Greg’s dad gave much of himself to his son, when Greg was a youth and young man, in particular. Greg is now giving back to his dad, caring for him with dignity, tender concern and a good sense of humor. How honoring it is to his dad, to be so present with him.

I appreciate having Greg as a traveling companion. May he have many more years to continue exploring life, the world and his place in it! Happy, happy birthday, Greg!

 

It’s not too late to enter the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest, if you enjoy this fun form of poetry and all things Tolkien! Contest closes at midnight tonight.

Middle Earth News Limerick Contest

Day 197: The Rail – A Pizza Company Rogers AR

The Rail e

Cousin Linda is preparing to fly home to Illinois, and that was a good reason to meet up one more time in AR to say “Until next time…”. Greg and I met Pam and Linda at Pam’s pretty home in Bella Vista. Together we traveled to the historic downtown Rogers, AR, for a fun meal at The Rail – A Pizza Company, and a first for me.

The Rail, located at 218 S. First Street, is one of the hot spots in downtown Rogers. Housed in an older building with exposed brick walls inside, this is a cool place to gather for pizza, wings, cold drinks and dinner with friends. Or cousins, in my case. I love these historic buildings with their long narrow interiors. We slid into a booth and perused menus, conveniently located on the table.

Our waiter was friendly and attentive. He kept our drinks filled and answered any questions we had. We ordered a cheeseburger pizza and The Alfred, a pizza featuring chicken, onions, mushroom and Italian sausage with an alfredo sauce. Both choices were excellent. The cheeseburger pizza even had dill pickles and mustard on it. Our barbeque wings were a great start to the meal. The wings were pleasantly crispy with a tangy and sweet mild sauce.

The Rail cheeseburger pizza e

We arrived early for dinner and we were fortunate to do so. The tables and booths very quickly filled up. There was a festive, chatty atmosphere as people sampled an assortment of cold beer and soda and chowed down on pizza. We had our own little party going on at our booth, as we shared pizza, chatted and laughed.

Pam introduced me to a new use for those left over crusts of pizza. Each table or booth had a bottle of honey present. She instructed us to save our crusts and dribble honey over them for a simple dessert. Another first! I had never seen this done before, at any of the pizza establishments I’ve been in. After letting my dinner settle for a few minutes, I tried a honeyed pizza crust. It was delicious and just the right finishing touch to our meal. This is a suggestion every pizza place could adopt!

We drove around downtown Rogers before heading back to Pam’s house. There were many cute and interesting shops to explore at another time. As the sun set, Pam directed us home via scenic back roads. NW Arkansas really is beautiful, well deserving of the nickname, The Natural State. I didn’t realize, until this evening that Bella Vista has several small but deep lakes in the area. We drove by two and I appreciated their peacefulness and beauty.

It’s been fun to spend time with Greg’s cousins the past few weeks. I enjoyed the holiday at the lake house near Lawrence KS and the excursions in NW Arkansas. And of course, it is the connections with people that makes these times memorable. I hope to see Linda, Tim and Mark, and their spouses and families, again soon. And Pam and her husband Jay, I’ve discovered, are a mere 40 minutes away down I-49. I intend to see them often. So it’s not goodbye. It really is see you later.

The Rail group e

Day 183: Peace Garden Gate

peace gate e

I have been very excited about this project. Before the backyard began being transformed into a garden sanctuary, a cedar privacy fence was built across the back and along one side of the yard. Greg did an excellent job of building this fence. It is a wonderful backdrop to the garden and offers, well, privacy. There is a functional gate at the back for access to the alley. At the front, I wanted something different as an entrance into the garden. My first for today was to see the completion of the garden gate.

Greg designed the entrance, using a great deal of consideration, care and creativity. Using 6×6 posts and cedar, he framed in the supporting structure and used the same tinted toner that he used on the fence. It goes beautifully with the fence. And this is a solid, heavy piece, held securely in place by 720 pounds of cement, below ground. Instead of building a matching gate, the entrance into the backyard is an old wooden door, salvaged from a house that was heavily damaged in the tornado. Greg saw the door being hauled out of the house and asked for it. Ask and you will receive! I love that instead of being thrown away the door now has a special place of importance in my garden.

peace gate in process e

I helped a little with the support structure, mostly by holding a piece of wood or handing Greg tools. And on the day he was ready to raise the structure and secure it, I did call my nephew Scott to come help! My main contribution to the project was to work on the old door. It survived the storm well, with no damage to the door itself or to the nine panes of thick opaque glass. There was, however, old varnish on the door and a coat of chipped paint. I considered leaving it as it was, since I like chippy paint! Since the door will be outside and exposed to weather, it made sense to strip it and protect it with primer and a couple of coats of exterior paint. And that became my job, to help strip the door and paint it. I chose a teal color that leaned more toward jade green. It’s called La Fonda Artisan Green.

My favorite part about this gate is that the door doesn’t swing open on hinges. Greg designed it to slide open. He installed two small castors on the base and built the enclosure in such a way that the door opens by sliding, or rolling, behind a panel that is part lattice and part solid cedar. It is such a beautiful piece and very welcoming as an entrance. Friends and family who have seen the project in process have said they have not seen another gate like it. A friend gave me the bird bell that hangs near the door. I like the idea of guests ringing the bell for entrance into the garden!

peace gate bird bell e

As Greg turns his attention to the final section that will enclose the yard on the north side, I have one more piece to add to the new garden gate. I will affix a sign, or lettering, that states:

Peace to all who enter here

And I truly desire that, for all who pass through the gate. I think of this entrance as the Peace Gate. May it be so.

peace gate welcome e

Welcome!