Summer Reflections

My Pink Rose
My Pink Rose bush

The morning that I am writing this I have opened all the windows, in every room of my house. This has become a pattern with me on warm summer mornings. Before the air conditioning turns on, I walk around opening windows. Letting the fresh breezes in, as well as the sounds of birds chirping, makes me feel lighter somehow and sets in motion a quiet start to the day.

When I’m in a calm mood, I light a candle and do a spiritual reading or two. I like to sit outside with my coffee, soaking in some early morning sun and centering my thoughts. When the day gets off to a hectic start, sometimes it’s harder to do this. But try I do, and many times I manage to squeeze in one or the other, time outside and/or the spiritual readings.

This summer is the best for me so far in terms of mid life. It has been a rocky few years with hot flashes and I’ve not wanted to be outside much. This seems to be shifting, finally, and I can stand being outside for longer periods. I can tolerate warmer temperatures, even needing a sweater on chilly evenings. I’m relieved at this and can almost remember what it was like to love summer.

Next year Jim and I will turn the big six oh. I’m actually excited about the landmark. I feel like I can at last say, I’m too old for this or that, plus I can own my silver hair more fully, I can tell someone I’m just too old to commit to that, so sorry. For the last couple of years I was planning the big landmark party (in my head) that I was going to throw for Jim and I, for this big birthday. Now my enthusiasm for it has gone right out the door. It’s been replaced by a desire to have a week at the beach with my kids and grandkids. Jim is game for this thank God.

Penny’s baptism is coming up and I’m excited to be planning that. Everyone is coming over to our house afterwards so my event planning skills are of good use here. I’ve already got my lists- what I’m going to serve and how to set everything up. I even mapped out my calendar- when I will do what- after long sessions of questions from my mother prompted me to just get it down on paper. Inviting immediate family members only kept the list down. It’s hard to draw boundaries with that. I want everyone here but it’s in my backyard, with limited space, I have to set parameters with myself as well or I will go crazy with worry as to where everyone will fit.

My days are filled with taking care of mom, babysitting Penny, meeting brides, and grilling whatever catches my eye at the farmer’s market. I’ve eaten fresh peaches, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes already and I’m loving it. Every now and then the committee in my head chastises me for not working more, for enjoying this time with my family too much, for not making a full time income. But I tell it to stop, that I am loving this time that I have with my mom and grandchildren. I will never get it back and so there. I’m going to love it.

Here’s more pictures of my summer so far. I’m blessed.

Penny's from Heaven
Penny’s from Heaven
My June Wedding, Tara and her Bridesmaids
My June Wedding, Tara and her Bridesmaids
Meeting an old friend, Drema after twenty years.
Meeting an old friend, Drema after twenty years.
My favorite sunrise picture
My favorite sunrise picture
Lillies at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Lillies at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Jim and Michelene's jars of honey and lotion at their Honey Party
Jim and Michelene’s jars of honey and lotion at their Honey Party. Katherine’s Daughter events is their sponsor 🙂
Mom looking at pictures of her brother's recent trip to Greece
Mom looking at pictures of her brother’s recent trip to Greece
Another June couple, Nichole and Arnold!
Another June couple, Nichole and Arnold!
The new house built across the street- I think it's sold.
The new house built across the street- I think it’s sold already
Dundee Farm, Sewickley, where Michelene and I promoted Beefuddled Farms, her and Jim's honey business
Dundee Farm, Sewickley, where Michelene and I promoted Beefuddled Farms, her and Jim’s honey business

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

As Sweet as Honey

My daughter Michelene and granddaughter Penny, on a beautiful summer day.
My daughter Michelene and granddaughter Penny, on a beautiful summer day.

She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

Tupelo Honey, Song by Van Morrison

We are in the full throes of summer aren’t we? It’s July already and there’s lots of sunshine, beautiful flowers, and fourth of July fireworks. Perhaps you’ve already been to the beach and back? I am enjoying delicious fruit pies (peach!), the birds singing outside my window at early dawn, and honey (strawberry) moons.

I remember now what it was like to relish the longer days of summer. Instead of wishing for cool fall weather all the time (the hot flashes are finally backing off!), I am enjoying my morning coffee outside with a good book. I try to leave my cell phone in the house. Why ruin a perfect morning with technology?

I’m also spending lots of quality time with my granddaughter Penelope Katherine. She’s as sweet as tupelo honey. 😉 She just turned five months old and I can see her personality developing right before my very eyes. The little things she does, like touching my face with her sweet hands just melts my heart. God bless Penelope.

My husband Jim and daughter Michelene had their first Honey Party in June. It was a great success with thirty guests who sampled different seasons of honey, learned to be good bee ambassadors, and had ice cream sundaes topped with the honey they spun that afternoon. The future bee ambassadors, the children, are just magic. I love how they participate, ask questions, and smack their lips over the ice cream sundaes.

Love the little one with the raised hand!
Love the little one with the raised hand!

Simple pleasures are the best. Lately I am relishing those. It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. I’ve done four events already (for my wedding/event business) and learned something at each one. My book has done well, actually it has exceeded my expectations. I started a new page on Facebook called “Recovering Perfectionists” and I’m enjoying the quest to find material to post.

Ah, what’s next? I am trying to take it easy (honest!). I love to challenge myself but lately status quo is just fine. Good enough is really good enough. I want to take time to stop and smell the honey. I’ve got a big lavender patch outside of my door and I often sit next to it. It’s ok to take time for ourselves. The bigger stuff can wait.

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

I Love a Farmer’s Market

 

Peppers from Janoski Farms
Peppers from Janoski Farms

When I would spend summers with my grandmother as a little girl, there was a “huckster” who would come by her house once or maybe twice a week. He would have fresh fruits and vegetables and my grandmother would load up. In particular, I remember his peaches, so juicy and ripe, and how I would love to eat them on a warm summer’s day.

So in memory of my grandmother, I cannot resist a weekly trip to my local farmer’s market. Janoski Farms has been around almost as long as I can remember living in Clinton, PA. (almost 32 years!). The fruits and vegetables are in so much abundance right now, it is a feast for the mind and heart when I enter the store.

Potatoes from Janoski Farms

I went Tuesday and bought zucchini, tomatoes (so gorgeous!), cantaloupe, leaf lettuce, potatoes and green beans so tender I was eating them out of the bag. Arriving home, I made Greek green beans with our home grown garlic, fresh dill, onion and tomato sauce. I’m no recipe writer but if you’d like to make them, click HERE for a link to a great recipe.

There is just something about a farmer’s market. It speaks to you from the deepest depths of wanting to eat good and eat well. I love to have my kids over for dinner and make shish ka bobs with big slices of sweet onion and pepper. Brussel sprouts will come soon and I will saute them in a bit of butter and onion, or steam them and drizzle with olive oil and lemon. No doubt I will stuff peppers and tomatoes before the summer is over, doing them just like my mom and my grandmother, with browned ground meat, rice, a light tomato sauce, and a tiny spoonful of sugar in the bottom of each hollowed out pepper or tomato.

I like to make my stuffed peppers with homemade mashed potatoes. My mom always did this while I was growing up. I remember hoping there would be leftovers for the next day so I could warm them up for lunch.

Thankfully Janoski’s has homemade bread and pastries, good ice cream and Brunton’s awesome milk. It never fails that I need a last minute dessert and I can always find something good at the market to treat my guests.

So don’t forget, seek out and patronize your local farmer’s markets. It’s really worth it and you’re supporting local farmers!

20140819_092801 (1)

Thank you Janoski’s!

What’s your favorite summer fruits or vegetables?

 

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Beauty of Summer

Hibuscus 2014Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. Sam Keen

We are deep into summer and it seems I cannot get enough of this beautiful weather.

Given the past couple of years between menopause and my mom’s illness I was hardly one to relish, let alone, enjoy the summer heat. This summer feels different. I can tolerate heat in moderation and when I can’t, well, there’s air conditioning!

Astromelia 2014

Here’s what I am truly loving. The sun. The longer days. The hummingbirds flying through my yard and settling on the beautiful flowers. Grilling delicious vegetables from the local farmer’s market. Loving these lillies that Michelene planted last year!

Star Lillies

Roses 2014

The roses are enjoying the sun too and the ample rain that seems to come on a regular basis. I take the time to water during dry spells and I trim the dead leaves and flowers when they are spent. My reward is that they keep coming.

Basil 2014

I hope you are having a beautiful summer. Take time to enjoy it!

Squash Flowers

What’s growing in your garden?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

What To Do At A Party

What to do at a party

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” 
― Frederick Buechner

How have you been? It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I so wanted to say hello and touch base.

I have been blessed with lots of activity. My sister Mary visited from North Carolina and my cousin Christina is here with her daughter Arial. A beautiful reception to coordinate was dropped in my lap and two more weddings to oversee have magically appeared as well. God is truly keeping his eye out for me.

One of the summer events I had the privilege to attend was a memorial picnic in honor of a young woman who passed away five years ago. Her children were there as were many others to remember and cherish the beautiful person that Mandy was. It was while I was there that I spied the creative and inspirational poster of sorts that you see above.

Take a moment and notice which activities were already checked off the “What To Do At Party” list. Read books, tell jokes and jump on trampoline were already checked off. I wish I was there for the trampoline part, but then again, maybe not. 🙂 I especially loved make tambourines- wow!

This poster reminded me of what it was like to be a kid all over again. What things did I like to do when I was a child? I loved to color and make creative paper drawings. I loved to listen to music and pretend I was in a band. My friends and I would get together and go bike riding every day. We would definitely drink root beer floats.

In this age of too much, too soon, I think we can sometimes forget the simple things that are good and uncomplicated. A family meal, not elaborate, but eaten together. Time well spent just talking and walking on a trail or on the beach. A chance to get back to ourselves and get quiet.

I’m guessing it was Talulah, Izaya and Willow that made this poster. I have to thank them when I see them next. I really love it.

Blessings to you for a joyous summer! How have you been? What were some of your favorite things to do as a child?

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Susquehanna Valley

Photo by Lynda Z
View from the Horseshoe Curve- Photo by Lynda Z

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. e.e.cummings

It doesn’t get any prettier than the Susquehanna Valley in beautiful tree- laden Pennsylvania. Jim and I took a small road trip last weekend with friends and visited Susquehanna University and the surrounding valley, including the famous Horseshoe Curve.

The Church at Susquehanna University
The Church at Susquehanna University

We began at the University which has a long history. It was started in 1856 by Benjamin Kurtz as a Lutheran based missionary institution. It sits on 325 acres, is well tended, and has many historical buildings. There is a large church with a sweet sounding bell which tolls every fifteen minutes and on the hour.

At 6pm on Saturday, the bells rang out in song for a few minutes. I stopped my walk to sit and listen, the lovely melody carrying up through the evening sky.

Next we visited the famous Horseshoe Curve. Five minutes after we arrived, the Funicular was ready to take us up to this designated landmark. Yes, the funicular. I found out this was an incline plane designed to carry passengers from the visitor center up the hill to the curve. It is much like the Duquesne incline we have in Pittsburgh. We also could have walked the landscaped 194 steps but we chose to use them later to go down!

Within five minutes of our arrival, we were lucky and blessed to see a very long train of containers go by. The conductor blew his train whistle at us and we waved him on. What an exciting moment for us (really, truly!) and especially for Jim who loves trains.

Jim and the Train
Jim and the Train

We hung out another twenty minutes and then saw a smaller passenger train and waved to all those travelers, wherever they may have been going on their journey.

The Horseshoe Curve apparently changed history in the 1850’s. Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Railroader Memorial Website: By 1852, trains could cross the state but were still dependent on the Allegheny Portage Railroad, which didn’t operate at night. With the addition of the Horseshoe Curve in 1854, passengers could travel the entire route by rail, and the time was reduced to an average of 15 hours. 

And yet another amazing statement: The construction of the Curve was done by about 450 workers, many of them from Ireland. The work was done entirely by hand, and workers were paid 25 cents per hour for a twelve hour day.

All I can say is the view from the curve is simply breathtaking. The huge blue sky and gorgeous Pennsylvania mountains all around just make you stop and sit still. We saw some eagles soaring (I wish I had a picture for you!); what a bonus!

Have you ever been to a place of great green beauty? Where is your favorite place?

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Last Little Bits of Summer

IMG_2367

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Here we are, the end of August and summer is winding to a close. Where has the time gone? I remember writing my late spring blog post, eagerly awaiting summer’s full glory, anticipating the slow, warm days I was so looking forward to.

As I look back, it has been an amazing summer. Beauty has abounded in my area, despite weird weather like too hot, too cool, too much rain. But somehow through it all, I managed a slight tan, many back yard campfires and lots of juicy peaches.

IMG_2510My cousin Christina came from New York with her daughter Ariel and we had two glorious weeks that included trips to the local farmer’s market and our favorite, the Fiestaware outlet. We couldn’t get enough of Chris’ guacamole and made it no less than four times while she was here! There were lots of salads, grilled vegetables and fresh tomatoes from our garden to enjoy. I’ll never forget her glorious lentils, bean soup and our endless cups of coffee in the back yard, as we caught sightings of the local mama deer and her two baby fawns at play.

I went to Chicago for a wedding, my only real getaway, and what a real pleasure that was. Riding along with my aunt and uncle (my mother’s only brother), I hung out with their teenage grandchildren and never knew how really cool they were. The Chicago cousins were so hospitable I feel like sneaking back there for a visit all my own. (Get ready Deb!)

Through all of this, I felt the faith, the presence of grace all the time. If I momentarily forgot it, I remembered it in the sight of the baby hawk flying over my house, the random phone call from a friend, and the early morning sunrise. I realized the preciousness of time, the ability to take this time to rest, rejuvenate and get ready for whatever will be ahead.

School is beginning next week for my grandson. He is going to the seventh grade (wow, where has THAT time gone?) and Labor Day is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to promoting my new business, looking for still more partners and always searching out great event ideas.

I saw a few red leaves on the ground lately and I know fall is just around the corner. Enjoy these last few summer days with a sentimental heart!

DSC_0090Thanks to Christina for all these beautiful pictures!

How was your summer? Are you looking forward to fall?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Ah…..Summer!

DSC_0018

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”  Ray Bradbury

There are flowers everywhere in my yard, and I am just loving it.

Our honeybees are pollinating the roses, larkspur, daisies, sweet peas, pansies, AND…there are green tomatoes in the garden! The tomato flowers are multiplying each day, as if by magic.

DSC_0022

Ah….summer…..

Yes, it is finally summer in Pennsylvania. The sun is up early, around 5:30am, making its presence known through the (supposedly) room darkening shades in my bedroom. I don’t mind one bit, being wakened by the morning light….

It’s as if summer beckons me to rise, get up, come, let Jordan out, and enjoy my morning cup of coffee in the back yard. I usually give in.

There is so much grace in summertime. Summer invites me to relax, unwind, rest and reflect. Also to make some plans for this fall (wink wink), which I am working on and will tell you about soon.

Here are some other summertime graces I’m in love with:

The birds are singing early in the morning, their chorus loud, clear and happy.

The grass is so lush and green and filled with clover.

Fifteen hours of daylight is almost sinful, decadent and oh so awesome.

DSC_0022The chickens are loving the warm weather, the freedom to move about and scratch the ground for delicious bugs.

I can hear dogs barking and kids playing while I open the windows to the evening’s cool breeze.

The lightning bugs are like tiny twinkle lights when they light up my field at night (blink blink blink).

Thank goodness it’s only June. Many more days of summertime grace to enjoy.

Thank you to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

Are you in summertime? If so, what graces are you enjoying?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015