I’m having fun with my mom and sisters this evening. It’s a pre-mother’s day get together that has included soup dinners from Panera, lots of chatting, a game of dominoes and laughter that brought tears to our eyes and made us unable to catch our breath. We’ve all taken a vow of silence concerning what started the hilarity.
We are still playing dominoes and laughing, at 11:30 pm, enjoying this time together. So here are a few pics from the ongoing party. We may giggle well into the night.
It was a beautiful journey today, through a pleasant day, that culminated at my sister Linda’s house. She invited me and our new friend Paula over for dinner. She provided lasagna, corn and baked potatoes. I brought salad, fruit and a small cheesecake. Paula brought the DVD, Talking to Heaven, a film based on the life of intuitive, James Van Praag. What a great evening we had, eating a meal together, chatting and watching the first half of the DVD, which is a mini series.
And although the movie was good, detailing the life of a man who finds himself, reluctantly, gifted with amazing intuition, the real joy was hanging out with these two beautiful and authentic women. Linda is always great to offer her home as a place to gather. We are both eating with more deliberate attention to consuming healthier foods. Rather than grab fast food, she offered to cook. It was fun to combine our offerings to make a scrumptious meal. It was a casual help-yourself kind of gathering and we settled into comfy spots in the living room to eat, chat and watch the DVD. Linda is not only my sister, and was my first friend. I appreciate both of my sisters so much, and my brother too. Sibling love is such a special kind of relationship, a cross between best friends and got-your-back family.
And I appreciate Paula as well. The CS Lewis quote applies perfectly to that new friendship. We met by “chance”…which really means, our paths were drawn together, as we walked along, without planning on our part. We recognized kindred spirits in each other and have become friends. She shares a love of animals with Linda and their friendship is growing as well. How fun that we’ve all connected. I look forward to many future lunches and dinners and times of just hanging out. The ability to fully be oneself with another, gifts, quirks and all, is a blessing and I’m grateful for both Linda and Paula.
Paula not only brought the entertainment for the evening, she surprised us with gifts that she made. I love her creativity and her thoughtfulness. The vases she made, with flowers tucked within, are gorgeous and mine is already on display in my house, as Linda’s is in her home. Friendship means so much to me and I am thankful for these two companions who are traveling alongside. What adventures await us?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!