Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks...

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. –Anonymous

I believe that we are always attracted to what we need most, an instinct leading us toward the persons who are to open new vistas in our lives and fill them with new knowledge. –Helene Iswolski

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. -Anais Nin

A friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you. -John O’Donohue

On this day of giving thanks, I am most thankful for life and health. But closely nipping at the heels of that experience of gratitude is my overwhelming thanks for my children and grandchildren and scattered extended family. And clinging tightly to the thankfulness shirt tail (I'm mixing metaphors shamelessly here) is my deep and abiding gratitude for my friends, a true blessing in my life.

Recently, my precious friend, Mae, came from Florida to spend a week here in Carolina with me, and it was lovely, feeding me in mind & heart & spirit- tinged with lots of laughter and a few tears. Days were filled with places and people, as I introduced her to who & what populates my life- nothing earth-shattering...in fact, quite ordinary, but made extraordinary in the sharing.
Evenings found us in front of the fire, with glasses of wine, talking... talking...talking. Though we have known each other for forty years, we never run out of conversation, and I cherish our ability to learn from one another and to continue to grow, offering a supportive hand to one another when the going gets rough.

And so, on this Thanksgiving Day of 2011, I offer special thanks to the God who daily breathes into me and sustains me for the wholly holy friendships which feed and nourish me- Mae & Pat & Dee & Suzanne, Diane & Bonnie & Becky & Carole, Sally & Mary & Nancy & Kishie, Todd & Phil & Alan, and, of course, the special friendships with my grown children, Hope & Mark & Meredith & Paul. I could go on and on...each relationship different, each one uniquely precious, each one invaluable to me as I live my life day after day.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones, from my overflowing heart to yours.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning...

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you. -Lao-Tzu

monday morning...
the morning is fleeting...
yet what is more important at this moment

than being here, listening to
chanting, enchanting voices from the CD player,

sipping coffee from my new, handmade-by-a-friend
coffee mug, watching the flickering candles

and the heavy gray air outside my windows...
reading, writing, thinking, while an occasional tear glides

down my cheek, a tender smile
parts my lips.

Here
Now
present in this present moment...
for where else should I be?

breath in
breath out
this is my life...thanks be to God.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Autumn's Fleeting Abundance...

How beautiful Carolina is in the autumn. Everywhere you look, color fills the landscape, all the more precious because it is so fleeting. And now, with the recent rains and high winds, my lawn is littered with the leaves which so recently graced the limbs of the trees in the yard, many of which are now standing nearly bare in preparation for the coming of winter.

In the brief week since these pictures were taken around my house, much of this color is gone, as the winds which cleared the clouds and gave us the incandescent Carolina-blue skies stripped these lovely ladies of their colorful garb, their bare bones now showing clearly and starkly.

What an autumn it has been, though. In spite of a paucity of rainfall through so much of the summer, Nature put on her annual show. Oh, there were fewer reds and oranges, though a maple tree at the end of my block put on a truly remarkable show, going from orange to red to glowing gold over a matter of weeks. Glorious, simply glorious. And walking was a pleasure, as I became a child again, kicking through the leaves, my mind flooded with recollections of the high rope and wood swing Dad built in our backyard, from which my sisters and I and the neighborhood kids would jump into piles of raked leaves.

Autumn makes me a bit nostalgic, as I recall the places I have called "home" and the many people who have populated them, many no long with me now...at least not in body. But their spirits remain strong, their presences very real, their voices occasionally resounding in my head and heart.

Now the  holidays loom large. The day of Thanksgiving is next week, stores are filled with signs of Christmas, and sale circulars fill the morning paper each day, inviting me to shop and buy and spend... while all around me the natural world seems to be saying, "Simplify. Pare down to your essence. Let go of what is no longer needed. Trust in the growth that is taking place within and will bloom again." And so I plan for gift-giving which will take the form of helping those less fortunate, decorating which will not involve the destruction of a tree or the overuse of energy, determined to give the gift of myself and my time as often as I can, knowing that life is fleeting and only love is truly eternal...love given, love shared.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Books, Books & More Books...

As some of you know, I am an inveterate reader and since, for the first time ever I have been keeping a list of "books read" this year, I was surprised to realize that my list has reached seventy...so far. If my math is correct, this comes to 7 books per month...or almost 2 per week. Not amazing, surely, but substantial. The list includes both fiction and non-fiction, with a smattering of poetry thrown in for good measure. But my favorite genre is mysteries & thrillers...not of the chainsaw variety but of the smart, well-written type, with well-drawn characters and page-turning plots which keep me engaged until the last page. And if the denouement is a true surprise, so much the better.

So, for you fellow mystery fans out there, I am including a list of some of my very favorites. A number of these are just one of a series by a particular author focusing on a particular main character and with these, I have read the others of the series in the past or am planning to catch up with the character in the future. Several are by European or British writers, which I love, since I am a true Anglophile. And more than a few are set in other historical periods, since there are several excellent writers out there working in Victorian London or post-WWI England, with much careful research obvious in the writing.

I hope I'll offer you, my fellow readers, some new directions to go in the coming months. And if you have any suggestions of "must-reads" for me, please include them in a comment, as I am always looking for EXCELLENT new reading material. Enjoy yourself...and be sure to become a frequent presence at your public library.
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • Rains Gods and Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke (actually anything by this author- he's one of my favorites- his writing is both intelligent- with a gret vocabulary- and beautiful)
  • Breaking Silence and Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo (The main character was formerly Amish and the stories are set in Indiana's Amish country)
  • Live Wire by Harlan Coben (If you haven't met Myron Bolitar, you're in for a treat.)
  • ALL of the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly- Harry is one of my favorite characters and these books are great.
  • The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
  • Iron House by John Hart
  • The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg
  • The Given Day by Dennis LeHane
  • About Face by Donna Leon
  • The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker
  •  Sixkill and Killing the Blues by Robert B. Parker (few writers can equal Parker for sparking repartee between characters)
  • Treason at Lisson Grove and Acceptable Loss by Anne Perry (Set in Victorian London, these 2 series feature husband-wife teams and offer a great deal of description of the period.)
  • Instruments of Darkness, Anatomy of Murder, and Island of Bones by Imogene Robertson (this series is great! Can't wait for the next one.)
  • One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (If you haven't discovered this series and this writer, I highly commend her to you. Those of us who are "hooked" await each new book with bated breath and great impatience.)
  • A Lonely Death by Charles Todd (Another "discovery", this mother and son team, living in NC and Deleware, respectively,  have 2 series going, both of which I really enjoy...check them out.)
  • Outrage by Robert Tanenbaum
  • A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (Run right out and get the entire Maisie Dobbs series for the most engaging heroine I've encountered in a long time.)
Okay...that should keep you busy for a while, methinks. And as we're headed into colder weather with shorter days, what could be better on a chilly evening than curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book? Happy reading.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Last Good Night...

Though he said goodbye to all of his fans several weeks ago, Andy Rooney said his final goodbye this week when, at age 92, he died. The last of the original cast members of CBS' "Sixty Minutes", his ascerbic wit and curmudgeonly view of life kept us both entertained and thoughful as, week after week, he reflected on the state of the world, our nation, or simply the foibles of humanity, including his own.

His commentary on cotton in pill containers, paper weights, and junk mail mixed with heartfelt reflections on national and world politics, and he was never afraid to voice his opinions loudly and clearly. His voice joined those of other truly stellar newsmen: Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner, and Ed Bradley, all of whom were reporters to the bone, digging for the heart of each story, fleshing it out for us, the viewers, in a way seldom seen since.

Andy, you will be missed. Blessings to you, and good night.