Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Today is New Year’s Eve. For ME, this is always the darkest day of the year. I realize it isn’t actually THE darkest day of the year; the Winter Solstice is that in actuality.
However, in a spiritual sort of way, New Year’s Eve is that day for me. It’s an ending; it’s a time to put to rest the troubles of the past, and make a fresh start. The saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn” becomes applicable. Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, is a dawn of beginnings and day of fresh starts.
I can’t promise that our fresh starts will “take” so to speak, but we have the physical reminder that we can have redemption and renewal if we strive for it.
In reality, every day of the year can be a fresh start, a moment in time for trying harder and choosing to live a more Christlike life. Sadly, many of us can’t seem to pull it together until the New Year rolls around and we are faced with the season of goals and promises and that’s why, today is the darkest day.
The day I vow once again to get on the treadmill, to eat better, and be more diligent in my spiritual endeavors; tomorrow is the dawn of the new me—again.

Tonight, on this darkest of nights, we’ll gather with friends, play games, watch movies and eat junky treats; we’ll laugh and we’ll love, having those who are special to us gather round.
Tomorrow and every day, we’ll recommit ourselves to become who our Father in Heaven knows we are.

If I may paraphrase the sentiments from that Jolly Old Elf for a moment: “Happy New Year to all, and to all a Good Night!”

Have fun, and be safe.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It’s raining today. It’s almost Christmas, and yet I’m not missing the “white” of “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

Having grown up in the Northwest, I suppose rain is just part of my soul. There is no pain that a cup of hot chocolate and the happy patter of rain can’t soothe for me, at least for a time.

Here in Oregon it’s often known as "liquid sunshine.” That may seem a stretch for some, but for me, it’s the sound of peace. I've lived in many places: Ohio, Utah, Colorado, Washington and Oregon; yet I've never been as content in any of those places as I was when it rained.

When the heavy mist falls, it looks like millions of falling stars, twinkling under the lamplight at night; shimmering, swirling, they make their way to the waiting earth to form patterns on the pavement and in my psyche; when the heavy rains beat a tattoo on the roof, it’s nearly as good and soothing as the rhythm of the surf at the coast.

If you find a rock, and it doesn't look like much, spit on it-well, you could just put it under the hose, but, you may not be near a water source; spit on it. See how much prettier it looks. That's how the world looks to me in the rain. Colors pop and everything is washed clean; the world seems happier somehow; refreshed.

Rain makes puddles. I LOVE to drive through puddles. I don't know what it is, but as that wall of water comes up and I push through, it makes me giggle.

Next time it rains where you are, snuggle up and listen to it. Listen to it splash and patter across your roof or porch. Let the happy liquid sunshine wash away the cares of the day; have a book, a blanket and a mug of hot cocoa nearby, and the day will be pretty close to perfection.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Fog has always seemed magical to me.

When I was in elementary school, I remember specifically one day it was so foggy-we lived a few blocks up the hill from the Columbia River in Vancouver Washington, that I couldn't see the neighboring houses.
As I walked to school alone-it was safe to do that back then, I pretended the fog was opening and closing its doors for me, which was why I couldn't see any of our neighbors.

Today, I still think fog is magical. The softness and stillness it lends to the landscape is mesmerizing. Light is diffused in such a way that even an unattractive view might be redeemed, if only for a short while; colors are softened so that the harshness of reality melts into some kind of otherworldly feature; even the sun takes on an ethereal glow that makes its unabashed glory hard to put out of your mind. Winding roads take on a bit of mystery; brazen becomes tolerable; mountains and hillocks become monuments to behold. The ostentatious has been put in its place temporarily, the world has slowed, the pace has slackened. Our eyes take on a new responsibility, one of inquisitor, asking what Heavenly Father has given us today.

I know it can be annoying, especially when you are in a hurry, but next time you are confronted with a foggy day, look around.

Take notice of the things the Lord is pointing out to you, you may be surprised that the mountains you’ve been taking for granted every day have actually become four separate hills that comprise the whole. You may notice that the stream you pass regularly has become a mysterious pathway, beckoning you to join it on its journey.

I cherish the fog as it brings new views to my mind and heart, challenging me to use all my senses in discovering the world in its present form.
It confirms to me that magic still exists in my adult world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Autumn!

Autumn is, beyond a doubt, my favorite time of year. Spring is nice, lots of gorgeous flowers popping up in localized gardens all over the country.
Summer, my least favorite season, is just too darn hot, and winter, while nearly perfect in temperature, is peevish like a spoiled child, throwing a tantrum regularly.

But autumn; wow. The colors are not shy like Spring's gardens, they shout from every tree and branch, declaring the end of summer with a Hallelujah to rival the angels in Heaven; the temperatures warm, but not too hot, cool but not cold; the sun, lower on the horizon, casting it's golden light enhancing the trees, aflame with their celebrations.

The bounties of the garden continue, with a second wind found somewhere along the first of September; late summer plantings beginning to bring forth their fruits, now that the dog days of summer are past.
Autumn is time for Leaf Day.

Sadly, we only got to do this one year, but it's a memory that will live with us always.

We lived on five acres in what was then sleepy Delta, Colorado. We lived in an old house that had been built around the turn of the last century. We had trees. Old trees. 14 large, wonderful trees; Cottonwood, Poplar, Apple, Pear. Some of them over 100 years old; big and bossy, protesting as the wind tried to get the better of them more than once.
If you've never been to the Western Slope of Colorado, it's a dry place, water is precious, snow is rare; all this means that autumn is dry and the leaves crackle when you walk on them, crunching merrily as you kick and fling them about. The smell of dry leaves is something to behold, and here in Oregon, greatly missed.

For this, the first and only Leaf Day(we had planned and plotted for other years, but having moved away from our glorious trees, with their equally glorious Autumn leaves, there were to be no more Leaf Days), we invited our friends to share our scheme. Everyone raked and raked, the leaf blower was employed, and soon we had a leaf pile to rival all leaf piles.

We pushed, we pulled, we threw ourselves and each other into that leaf pile, giggling and cackling, howling madly, until we had dried leaves everywhere; even in places that are unmentionable in polite company.
Then we ate; gingerbread, applesauce cake and warm apple cider. We ate and we laughed, and we jumped some more.

On the Western Slope of Colorado, autumn is short, lasting a few brief weeks at the most, swallowed up in the first frosts of winter all too soon.
Here in Oregon, we've had beautiful Autumnal color clear until Thanksgiving, blessing us with colorful leaves and berries for our Holiday table.

Autumn is my favorite season for so many reasons, but the best are the warm memories shared with friends beside the evening fire, picking pumpkins from the field, a bonfire out back, or, Leaf Day; lone but glorious.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Have a Problem

I have a problem, wine.

Now, before you go call my Bishop, let me explain.

Wine comes in glass bottles. I have a thing for glass bottles. Tall bottles, thin bottles (do I see a metaphor for what I am not here?), pretty bottles, old bottles.

I love glass bottles, and they don't even need to have been used for libationary purposes.

When I go to the grocery store alone, I sometimes find myself walking down the wine aisle, just to look at the pretty bottles. I don't drink wine, I've made a covenant with my Heavenly Father not to, so I don't buy any; I just sort of drool over the bottles. I do wonder if a fellow customer, passing nearby might wonder if I've just jumped on the wagon and am having second thoughts.

I've collected some pretty, old and turning purple bottles; some new pressed glass bottles and some newer wine bottles from a funeral.

Square, round, oval; bottles of various sizes and shapes. I even found one, in perfect condition, in a load of fill dirt we brought to our property that had come from an old garbage dump.

What do I do with them you ask? That's a very good question. So far, I've made one batch of blueberry vinegar that I ended up throwing out because I never used it! But I have the bottle!

I have visions of beautiful wine type bottles lining the counter, full of beautiful edibles from my garden, preserved as vinegars or oils; made to savor the season in say: February.

I also have a vision of wonderful old bottles getting more and more purple as the years go on, becoming beautiful jewels on my upper windowsills. Purple isn't even my favorite color.

I also have a collection of old canning jars. You know, the kind with the wire bale, and glass lids? I use them in my pantry for things like baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, cornstarch, whatever. I love them! But that's another post :)

If your jar or bottle or oil lamp is turning purple, you have some really old glass on your hands--do you need my address?? :)

Monday, September 7, 2009


Yesterday was September sixth; early yet in the month.

I went out to make sure the chickens were buttoned in for the night, and it SMELLED like Autumn; woodsmoke.
Someone, somewhere nearby had a fire going to take away the chill of this rainy, Oregon evening.
It was a glorious smell, not yet mingled with the smell of dry leaves; pure and unadulterated.

When I smell the smell of perfect woodsmoke-and there IS a good and a bad kind of woodsmoke, it just depends on the wood, I am transported back to my childhood, the good part of my childhood.

First, my parents had some friends, the Bredemeyers. We called them "Grandma and Grandpa Bredemeyer"; I had no idea, until I was older that they were not really my grandparents. They had the most amazing antique store inside a barn, and lived in what I recall as a cabin, next door; not big enough for them and our family when we came to visit. They heated each building with a woodstove, and the smell was heavenly.

Second, later, My real grandparents had 40 acres on a hillside not far from a little tiny place called Mountaindale, Oregon. We lovingly referred to these 40 acres as "The Farm".

On the farm, there was an old hunting cabin that my grandfather worked hard to make habitable. It was a mess to begin with; I was a child, yet even I knew it was a mess.
But oh what he did to that cabin. The best part was, that he installed a small wood cookstove. My grandma would do all her canning in that cabin; I got to use it as a sleepover spot for my girlfriends and I--I think this started after the night I had a friend sleepover, and we left the radio running all night; did I mention we lived in a 1970's era double wide with very thin walls?

Nevertheless, this sleepover haven was at it's best when we were out there in the winter, with a fire in the cookstove to keep us warm and toasty.

If you've never heated with wood, you don't know what you are missing. The heat is dry and cozy, solid in it's properties, like another being in the room with you. So unlike it's blustery cousin the forced air furnace, whose presence is just that, forced upon you; with all it's comings and goings, there is never real peace in the house.

No, a wood stove-my preferred method of wood heat, is like a reliable friend, steady and sure; making comfortable inroads into your psyche.

Autumn is my favorite time of year; leaves, scarlet and gold, green and orange make a feast for my eyes. The woodsmoke? A feast for my heart.