Monday, November 30, 2015

waiting, watching

Waiting, watching, anticipating . . . what better symbol for Advent than the earthy little paperwhite bulb? Fill a paper bag at the nursery and then harvest joy in your kitchen windowsill. Nestle them in pebbles, add water and just let what's inside thrive. Bright green stems will shoot toward the light and burst into the freshest-smelling snowy white blossoms. A tiny tabletop miracle.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

thanks giving

It was fun to keep a running gratitude list on Instagram during the month of Thanksgiving, a trendy way to keep life from slipping by unnoticed. I started as macro as I could possibly get (God!) and worked my way to the micro and the momentary. From mom and dad and seasons, senses, rituals, artists, color, music and all creatures, great and small. To work, home, hope, books and the places that anchor us when we become unmoored (this on the day of the Paris attacks). There was gratitude for a favorite tree (the Christ Church ginkgo) and for the act of gratitude itself, the great antidote to ennui and entitlement. Looking back, it was such an extraordinary, ordinary, unique and unforgettable month. Just like they all are.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


November blusters in bearing its special connotation of thanksgiving. With as many reasons to be grateful as there are leaves falling onto sodden sidewalks in gorgeous disarray. That is to say, an infinite number. Even though some stores open on the fourth Thursday to hawk their Black Friday specials, it is virtually impossible to commercialize the concept of gratitude. It's as humble as homemade pie, as bright as a bowl of cranberries, as real as the loved ones gathered around the table of your heart.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


A plethora of pink pumpkins, Halloween delight -
Filled with candy at the end of the night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

petal pushing

This ethereal scene is from my own backyard where the sansanqua tree puts on its October show. A hot pink profusion that brings to mind the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or a villa in Positano. I wish I could gather them all up to create a petal path at my niece's November wedding, but the color only lasts a couple glorious days. Followed by a whole year of remembering.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

fall falling

. . . And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.
- from Fall by Edward Hirsch
(Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

fog fix

Muddled is the best way can describe how it feels when I haven't slept well, eaten healthy, breathed deeply, prayed much or exercised. Dr. Mike Dow packs a lot of vital information into The Brain Fog Fix about reclaiming a sense of wellbeing if yours has gone missing. Turmeric is one nutrition nugget . . . it appears to be a wonder spice in warding off internal inflammation and subsequent long-term health problems. He knocks back what he calls his Daily Wellness Shot: Stir a half teaspoon of turmeric and black pepper into an ounce of cold water.  If you're feeling particularly brave, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Yikes! I don't know if I can stomach that, but I can fix more curry-based dishes and probably find a good turmeric supplement at Whole Foods.

Two of the 'thinking' items really got me thinking. The first is to look around right now and ask, What's right, what's right, what's right? This is an exercise about what we choose to pay attention to - about changing our selective attention. Dow says, "The more you learn to notice and appreciate the most subtle of pleasant experiences in your life, the more you'll find them . . . " The second is about bringing novelty into your life. He recommends trying one of the activities below every day for the next week to unfog and help grow your brain (I'm going to start today by playing with the neighbors' brand new puppy, a little Wheaton named Paddington):

- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PLEASURE 
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PRODUCTIVITY 
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of POWER 
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PRIDE 
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PASSION
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PEACE
- Do something new today that gives you a sense of PURPOSE 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

theme for October

For your autumn listening pleasure, The Great Pumpkin Waltz, which is included in this jazzy gem of Peanuts soundtrack classics. Sounds just the weather feels outside, leaves and temperatures falling, and the anticipation of a sack full of bite-size candy bars (and rocks). Sounds like October.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


This really is what Charlotte looks like when it gets good and autumny, in the backyards and parks and woods, wherever nature has her way. A sight to see. It brings to my mind the work of biologist David Haskell who observed a tiny patch of earth in the Tennessee forest - a few minutes each day for a solid year - and learned across the curriculum of life. Everything is connected was his great takeaway. I imagine there were October days when he observed something akin to Romare Bearden's collage here. Connections. 
(Mecklenburg Autumn: October - Toward Paw's Creek. Romare Bearden, 1983)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

heart places

The morning was for apple-picking at Sky Top Orchard. Mucking along rain sodden rows of Cortland, Fuji, Granny Smith, Johnagold and Honeycrisp, filling a red bucket while visions of cinnamon-sprinkled pie swirled through our heads. Rows of apple trees that seemed to go on forever, air smelling like perfume. When the foraging finished, there were hot homemade pumpkin donuts dusted with sugar. A picturebook autumn outing. 
Then on to a favorite poet's house. Can you see it there in the misty distance? Connemara, Scottish for  'rock hill,' is the beloved home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, where Carl Sandburg lived with his wife and three daughters for more than 20 years. Today this historic gem and its 30-acre site are part of the U.S. National Park Service.  
The family loved reading, playing music together and birdwatching. There are more than 17,000 books in the house. It's a little spooky to walk through the uninhabited rooms, but a feeling of love lingers.  
Lillian Sandburg and the girls raised champion dairy goats while Carl wrote. Walk over to the red barn and you'll encounter a few of them, well tended and adored.
While down the lane a sweet old scarecrow keeps watch over it all.