Monday, December 13, 2004

Poetry for the heart...

It has been a really rough week for my family in Northern Indiana.
I had thought I should just stay home a few more days...but even with a snowfall there was no delay or cancellation. Aaron brushed the snow off the Jeep..and I drove to school with trepidation.

My first graders wrote poems for winter...here are a few to share with you! They did indeed cheer my heart!

Snow
cold, wet
freezing, sparkling, falling
white, windy
Blizzard

by Madison



Trees
angels, lights
swelling, tipping, decorating
green, ornaments
Bark

by Joe


Mistletoe
red, green
kissing, spinning, glowing
fragrant, fresh
Home

by Maddison


Ice
cold, slippery
freezing, melting, leaking
clear, hard
Cube

by Hunter




Friday, December 03, 2004

One more day of writing...

This poem is from another fourth grade class...writing in the late afternoon as the soon-to-be winter sun angles in....

December is...

..building a snowman

..work slowing down

..coming to school seeing teachers wear big fluffy sweaters

..warm and cozy beds

..seeing Grandpa home for the Holidays

..watching Christmas shows

..sledding downhill and running into trees

..watching Mom and Dad kiss under the mistletoe

..bears hibernating in a warm, cozy cave

..white, gleaming crystals falling from the sky

..writing poems by the window

..hearing wrapping paper

..angels nestled up in a pasty white blanket of snow

..hearing horses rushing through the snow

..snowmen staring through the window

..going to my Great Grandfather's grave

..Thanksgiving sneaking away

..steam seeping off the hot chocolate

..kisses from Great Aunt Charlotte

..Grandmas making mittens

..watching snow fall

..eating snow puffs

..watching my cat slip on the ice

..making poems for Ms. Homan-Saylor

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Writing on a cold day in Indiana

This following writing is from a fourth grade class in Norhthern Indiana.....they each wrote a long piece of poetry and one line was chosen from each...enjoy!

December is........

..steamy hot baths

..snowshoe hares running from the dogs in hunting season

..trees that are like monsters hanging in the sky

..when the animals start to sleep all day and all night

..huge white blankets of snow

..beautiful sparkling snow outside the window drifting down

..stockings being hung over a bright hot fire

..playing snow baseball at the snow covered diamond

..the night sky which is like a cold, silk blanket

..fluffy clouds falling to the ground

..snow angels that have fallen out of the sky

..hot cocoa with flaky marshmellows

..fawns jumping in the snow

..deer skittering across the shimmering, crystal snow

..going to the attic to get your Christmas tree

..cats knocking down the Christmas tree

..the ice as you fish in it

..going back outside to ice skate

..owls crying

..armed forces needing food

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The day before Thanksgiving..

My house is full. Every bed. Every towel. And it is wonderful. I wake up in the night knowing that family I love is sleeping in rooms down the hallway.

Abe and Kristin arrived from Portland,Oregon last night..it was late and they were tired, so we visited a bit and they went to bed (actually they are still sleeping!)

Adam and Tonya woke early this morning to visit Tonya's Dad..he died two years ago today. Dressed in my yellow raincoat and purple hat and umbrella they trudged off through the pouring rain (which will be turning to inches of snow by nightfall.) I said, tell your Dad I miss him. Bill was a great guy.

Always there is something to miss, isn't there? No matter how full the house is... I miss my parents and sisters and brothers and a special person that I have grown fond of...I miss how it used to feel to be a family at the farm....I think that is the power of story and remembering.

In the John Newbery Award book, Sarah, Plain and Tall written by Patrica MacLachlan...Sarah has a conversation with her friend, Maggie. Sarah was a mail order bride who left the seacoast of Maine to move to the Midwest. She misses the sea, her family. Maggie calmly says, There are alway thing to miss, no matter where you are.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving...oh, how lovely to have the house full of family you love so much...but don't forget to tell stories of those who won't be at your table.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Who Came Down That Road, Mama..by George Ella Lyons

This month at school I have focused on home and hearth...you know the usual assignments..have dinner with your family..talk with each other instead of the big T word (television)...also sent home notes with first graders to talk about family history. OK, I know first graders...the world did not exist before they arrived six or seven years ago..but let's give it a try.

My bulletin board is full of their stories and photos...I have photos rom 1800 Germany, 1932 New York...it is quite wonderful.

A few interesting facts for you: One of my student's ancestors was named Shirley Temperance Wade, December 1939; another had his Great, great grandfather's ashes spread out on Beartooth Mountain Range in Georgia; another had a Great-Great grandfather come here from England to become a cowboy. The stories go on..as they always do..one leads to another..but to my first graders they still insist they come from Hamilton, Indiana.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Babysitter's Club...

Last night was my first to babysit my new little grandsons, Jonah (2 months) and Matthew (3 years)...Both have just come into my life his fall.

Karen gave me directions...how to feed, diaper, etc...I listened intently (yes, I raised three children, but..) and then she and Aaron walked out the door.

I have to admit I called for re-informents to be brought in, Adam and Tonya..that was a good thing. Amazingly enough, all three of us were busy...then Tonya invited her family over (Mom, brother, his girlfriend, his children) to sweeten the pot!!

My house was strewn from one end to the other with paints and musical instruments and toys and blankets and diaper bags.

The good news is...we all lived to tell the story. The bad news? Adam and Tonya live in Florida and I doubt they can fly up to help every time I need them!!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

So, send it my way...

It has been six days since I have seen the sun here in Northern Indiana..has anyone out there seen it? I hung laundry out on Sunday (summer, cruise clothes), and they are still there...I am sure each day my neighbors are talking about my summer dresses dripping in damp, cold fog.

I have not raked my leaves...my yard is the only yard covered, I did sweep a pathway so I could walk through to the garden gate, however...and I have driven over the leaves in the driveway so they are now matted down making permanent fossils on the blacktop.

I refuse to hang out Christmas lights and wreaths...although my neighborhood is starting to look like a winter wonderland...I still have Thanksgiving pumpkins all around my doorsteps and stoops...some are a bit rotten, and I am really afraid to pick them up, but, on my honor, they are still there!!

All in all, I do love the week of Thanksgiving..it is my favorite holiday with the solstice and Twelfth Night, and Robert Burns birthday falling close behind. I like the non-commercialism...the candles..the pumpkin pie..the being with people I love without expectations of $$$$(aka..presents).

So, with this Thanksgiving week upon us..I will spend the week end cleaning out candle holders..ironing pillow cases with lavender for my children as they travel my way...put chocolates on their pillows, baking pies...I will also sweep another pathway through leaves..and hope my pumpkins will last just one more week.

Friday, November 19, 2004

November is....

November is........

....long,lonely stretch of train tracts
....cold, wet rain on my umbrella
....John McCutcheon on the CD player
....my Grandma's hand stitched quilt
....wispy strands of smoke
....yellow lamps in the neighborhood
....Orion's belt in the corner of the sky
....vegetable soup in a clean, white bowl
....frost on my porch windows
....chapstick three times a day
....leaves piled high at my back door
....a good book on a foggy night
....someone to share a cup of tea with
....woolen socks in the early morning hours
....family photographs
....missing someone you love
....stories around the fire
....my favorite month

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Foggy Night...

It is such a foggy night in northern Indiana...really no one will be traveling...well, a few will, I guess. My daughter in law, Tonya, is driving from St. Pete, Florida and should be here by the middle of the night to join Adam.

Aaron, Karen, Adam and the boys (my baby is now 14 pounds..and while he hasn't quite mastered French, he does coo a lot!) have been here all evening for supper. They called while I was at school and invited themselves over for supper...my only request...you bring the food, I said.

It was a long day at school..spell bowl at 7 a.m....school all day...then taking tickets at the elementary boy's basketball game after school. It is Indiana, you know, they start early.

Winter is beginning to close in with frost and darkness
coming so early..time for writing, for painting, for visiting, and for curling up with a good book. I am currently reading The Wild Irish, an historical fiction by Robin Maxwell about Elizabeth I. Hope you have a great book for this cold, foggy night.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Alarm Clocks

It was so hard to go back to school today...albeit my sister, Jo, lives for alarm clocks (even on vacation!)..but just to get up and have breakfast and the coffee was already made...so this morning at 5:10 I truly stumbled into the kitchen...it was dark and cold.

The kids at school always want to know where I have been...I like sharing maps with them. They think I am rich because I get to do so many things..ahh, this is my opportunity to teach them about hard work and studying and reading..teacher stuff.

Adam is here visiting with me this week..well, he is at his brother's house (new baby Jonah and Matthew) even so it is nice to have company in the evening..darkness seems to come so early. It is clear tonight..Orion's belt is visible.

Several teachers asked me today what was my favorite part of the trip...without hesitation I recall the evening we watched The Wizard of Oz on the big screen outside. It was just growing dark...the sky was filled with colors of scarlet and rose...we all sat together and sang along with Dorothy and the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tinman. Dad quizzed us periodically during the movie asking us if we knew how it was filmed and who had the original parts..my Dad knows more about everything than anyone I ever met....So with the sun setting over the Caribbean Sea we sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow..ahhh, don't we always want to know what is over the rainbow?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Senor..Senorita..Welcome back

It is Sunday morning in Northern Indiana...there was a frost last night covering my unraked yard..skies are blue..and the neighborhood is already bustling about working in their yards geting ready for winter.

I am unpacking a week's worth of memories..photos, trip prizes that we purchased for each other..clothes that will need two washings.

A week at sea with my sisters and parents. It is amazing how different we all are on so many levels...political, economic...yet we could travel together...dine together..laugh, remember stories from our childhood and respect each other's differences.

We swam in the crystal waters of the Caribbean, watched movies by the pool side...shared rum and vodka...slot machines..dancing..and sisterly secrets. It was a hurried good bye at the ship's docking...all traveling to our respective homes with families waiting for us..and even though it is always good to be home...I,of course, am wondering when and where will we go next time.

So, here's to my sisters and parents stretched out across the USA...those who shared my youth...and to a week in Paradise.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Four Sisters and their Parents...

So, I just get started writing, and I an off again. This time with my sisters (there are four of us in all corners of the U.S.) and our parents. We try to get together for sister's week once a year, and this is it.

We are meeting in Houston, driving to Galvelton and then board the cruise ship, The Princess. We will spend the week at sea and in ports such as Belize, Costa Maya. I am sure we will be the last ones off the dance floors, sing the loudest at the new sing along version of the Wizard of Oz and spend many hours telling stories from long ago and from our current lives.

No spouses or sweethearts or children will be going...just four sisters and their parents.

So, with bags packed, I bid you all a Bon Voyage.

Friday, November 05, 2004

About Cats

It's funny how our mind works, isn't it? I mean, I have been thinking about cats....stray cats, neutered cats, wild cats, domestic cats...you know every color. When you think about it cats really have made it into the world of art, yes? I mean...what about e.e. cummings and Andrew Lloyd Webber...they sure made Cats famous. And then there is Carl Sandburg, The fog comes on little cat feet... Even Shakespeare talked about the Runcible Cat...even Charles Dckens plays a word game about cats in his Christmas Carol.

Folks are always using cats as metaphors...she is the cat's meow, hunched over like a cat, cat's cradle, playing cat and mouse, claws like a cat.

And then how much work is a cat? A can opener, a litter box...you can be gone for weeks and your cat will entertain himself by just dozing in the sunlight and watching out the windows. They never need their shirts ironed and don't even care about fresh baked cookies.

Yes, I have definitely been thinking about cats.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The closing curtain..

I stayed late after school to tidy up (how does everything get so messy in a day??) when one of my former theatre students showed up at my door. She is now 18 and had just voted for the first time. She was still a little shaky, very proud of herself, but needed to talk.

She joined my production company when she was 10 and was with me for three seasons..a wonderful actress.

She began to look around the room at the Playbills..costumes..newspaper clippings. She said that voting today made her feel old (grown-up) for the first time ever. She sat down and shared her fears about growing up...college...paying her own bills..being responsible..finding someone wonderful.

Then she stopped, looked right at me..."Was I really good in theatre or did you just tell ne that?" It was with all honesty that I could say, you were really wonderful. She jumped up, thanked me, started to leave, then turned around and said, "You know, I will never forget you and all you taught us even when I am old..like 45!" I hugged her...scooted her out the room as I knew I had to go and vote. I smiled, shook my head, and locked my door on another curtain call.

Monday, November 01, 2004

OK, here's the scoop...

I know I am not very current with this blog....my life is usually a whirlwind..then, of course, Sunday Passage comes along. So, here is he deal. Does anyone even miss this blog site?????? I will have to re-evaluate it...although when I am around I do like to write in it.

Today is cold and rainy and dark...I am just cooking dinner in my lovely old house..lighting candles and listening to Kevin Kling tell stories on NPR...wish my sweatheart were here for dinner......

So, is anyone listening?????

Sunday, October 10, 2004

When the Frost is on the Pumpkins...

I arrived home late this afternoon to clear cool skies and a frost advisory. Piles of leaves decorate yards and curbs and rooftops.

It was a wonderful couple of weeks...spending time with Philip...that goes much too fast..listening to stories..mountain climbing...spending time with friends.

It is hard to come home to quietness..it always takes a few days to get used to "myself" again.

Look for more stories in this week's Sunday Passage!!

Monday, September 27, 2004

A closing remark or two...

Just wanted to let you all know that I will be off my blog site for about two weeks. I will be leaving for Asheville to meet Philip and then head off to the National Storytelling Festtival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. It should be a wonderful few days with stories and friends and the beautiful countryside and, of course, seeing Phiip again. Following the festival, we are hiking in the mountains for a couple of days with some friends of his. We will also spend time with his son and family in Asheville.

Following the hike, I fly home to Indiana and spend the last few days at the Hoosier Stortelling Fesival at Military Park in Indianapolis. Come on down, it should be a great week end (October 6-9.)

By the time I return to Indiana, there will definitely be frost on the pumpkins!!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Smal town festival...

This week end is the festival for our town. Years ago the festival took place out at the state park. I always dipped candles, my kids made cider...showed off their blacksmithing skills. It was later moved to the center of town with the streets blocked off for street vendors and a stage for music.

Walking the barracaded streets you can buy elephant ears and roasted almonds and crocheted toilet paper covers...all at the same place. The music is local...the crowds are local.

Last night as I sat listning to the band play, I realized the lead guitarist had been my student in school. The crowd was mostly young families..children dancing with parents..teen agers flirting shyly with each other on the sidelines.

I stayed until darkness permeated the square and the moon rose above the courthouse...and the final bows.

And then I just walked home down moonlit streets.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Today at the copier.....

Tonight after school (yes, I am back in school!) I was talking with a friend at the copy machine..She was telling me how they (she and her husband and small child) had just sold their house and given away most of their "stuff." I knew they were making changes, but I didn't know it was radical. (Now, I need to put in parenthesis, this is not for religious purposes, they are not waiting for the second coming in the hilltop.) They felt they wanted to do more with their lives and have less stuff.

I really admire her for this. She said that I had something to do with it..I was impressed on that one. Well, I did wander around the world with a laundry basket for a time, but I do have a house... she said that I didn't have "stuff" so that I can do things and travel. She went on to tell me all that they are doing to simplify. We talked for a long time...how great that she understood all of this while her child is still young. It makes me think maybe I have gone too far.... excuse me please while I pack up my laundry basket.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Coming home early....

Well, for two day I have been sick in bed with the flu and the cold and everything that goes with it. I actually came home early from school yesterday.. I never do that!

Now I am not dyingly ill...or detached retina hurt..I just have a bad head cold...you know can't breathe, can't talk..

It sure would be nice to have some hot vegetable soup and someone to play the harmonica for me. However, since I have neither, I will open up a can of Campbell's soup and turn on the radio. Tomorrow will be another day.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

An invitation...

Won't you join me in Fort Wayne today for the annual Johnny Appleseed festival. Yes, Johnny Appleseed was buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and we "festival" around his gravesite for two days. There will be bagpipers and fife and drum....apple cider,apple pie, apple dumplings (the line is usually an hour long for that one!!)..there will be rows of authentic crafters...blacksmiths, broommakers, hand thrown pottery..and of course I will be there telling stories.

So, if you want to enjoy this gorgeous autumn week end in Indiana, head on out to the fair...but make sure you stop and say hello as we pass by.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The litte person arrives....

No sooner than I jump off my soapbox (you know well the one) then the phone rings. It is my son, Aaron, who tells me his wife, Karen, has just gone ito labor. I actually had to sit and contemplate this for a few moments. Oh, I knew they were having a baby...that is all we talked about, and of course, it was physicallyt obvious...but the realization that a new little person was coming into this world and that a part of you will be a part of him is quite awe inspiring. The words grandma or grannie or grandmama really don't seem to do it for me...but whatever word I choose, it all means the same.

I was able to be with Karen the whole time...holding her hand, stroking her hair, wiping her forehead with a cool cloth. I have never witnessed a live birth, it was so amazing...I just feel honored to have been included.

Jonah was born at 3:16 this morning..with lots of dark hair and the Saylor chin. He weighs 7 pounds, one ounce and is 20 inches long.

His eyes opened up and looked directly into mine, I think he is already asking for stories.

Mama and baby are well, Daddy Aaron had a rough go of it, but pulled through just fine.

Today is a beautiful day in Indiana..the sky is azure blue with a wonderful breeze..the leaves have started to change from summer to Autumn. Everything changes. Today I am a grandmother. Welcome Jonah!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

OK, while I'm still on the box....

I just can't help myself...it seems to be this kind of week. I don't shop at Walmart. Period. And it is difficult. I live in a small town, and so many of the mama/papa businesses have gone out of business since we have had our super walmart. Shall I name a few? Our local hardware (they could fix anything, or at least tell me how to fix it!!!)....our family run film store, our bakery where I have purchased every wedding cake, party cake,rehearsal dinner cake (no one in this world baked like they did)...but they have been run out of town (Walmart has cakes, you know, big, cheap cakes)..a shoe store, the local butcher (you actually asked for your meat over the counter and he/she packaged it up in white paper!)

OK, I can't tell you not to shop a Walmart...truth be told, it is a hard decision..sometimes I wish I had never started this. I mean in my town there is no where else to buy a plunger along with spinach. But I chose it, and I will stick to it. So, my reasons..go on-line..you will find a vast array of information (I have recently filled a notebook, am I on a roll or what???)

So you just can't give it up? Here are a few ideas then, a compromise, if you will: Tell Walmart employees you support their rights to form a union (yes, you can do this while they bag your oranges)...check the labels to see where the items have been manufactured and then ask to see the manager...ask him/her if the item was manufactured in a sweat shop (if they aren't too busy filling the popcorn machine, you might get an answer)..shop other stores, especially the mama/papa businesses.

OK. Enough already. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

On my soapbox...

Last night at midnight the ban on assault weapons was lifted. The news was full of the issues and stories this past week, but it was too late. There were many of us who have been lobbying this issue for several months. These past two weeks I have made numerous calls to my Senator and Congressman and have been put on hold more times than I care to think about to GWB (I never did get past the operator at the White House). I have to thank Jennifer from Chicago for all of her work. And to the statement from Sara Brady, the ban will be back in time, but how many deaths will occur before then?

I have read reports that stores are ready and were opening early this morning to sell assault weapons.

But on a lighter note, Congress did ban the super soaker squirt gun after 4 children were injured. So take heart, America, our children will not be injured with the squirt guns while on their way to school, and what's a little Uzi or AK47??

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Community Pot Luck

Today is our community pot luck in my neighborhood in Northern Indiana. When I first visited Ocracoke two and a half years ago...I loved their sense of community. Of course, I watched it from a distance, but I knew I would bundle up a bit of it to take home.


So this is the second annual pot luck. Well, it isn't quite like Ocracoke..I mean we sent flyers around to our friends in the neighborhood...and we all mowed and trimmed and weeded and picked bouquets of flowers. But the sense of belonging to the community is the same. I have a picket fence around my back yard with several small gates that I have opened up for carrying chairs and babies and tricyles and potato salad and apple pie.

We will meet and greet, share our food, share our stories and know that we are there for each other. I must add that I will be thinking of Philip on this day...in his own community..a thousand miles away from mine.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Friday night vigil...

There were 20 of us who gathered on the town square last night to participate in the 9/11 ceremony. We carried candles from the university to the square, which was roped off...a podium had been placed on the street for the speeches...the music...the stories.

The event was of cultural diversity...I stood between a young woman of Jamaican origin and a young man from Iraq. Their smooth, dark faces were strong and serious in the candlelight. I felt proud to be among them...I felt proud of them to be empassioned about 9/11...to be empassioned about something.

I listened to their stories while holding my own candle. I thought of those who had lost lives...I thought of those among us who live...but have forgotten how to live richly or deeply. I felt the tears stream down my own face.

When it was over, we nodded to one another...words were not necessary, and I took my long walk through town. I came home to silence, lifted my eyes to the heavens and slept.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Lollygagging...

While driving home from school today...the word lollygagging just popped right into my head. I have not used that word nor heard it for a very long time. In fact, I even doubted it was a word. But, hark, I looked it up in Webster's new collegiate dictionary.

lollygag: to fool around, dawdle.

Now I wasn't exactly fooling around..but you could say I was dawdling.

I have a lovely drive home from school, especially at the end of summer. Corn fields flaunt the road on both sides..geese are gathering on ponds...Queen Ann's lace and wild chicory decorate each inch of the roadside... here and there a few farmer's markets with self service for sweet corn and cantelope or cucumbers ready to be made into pickles. I often pass an Amish buggy rather than an automobile.

Yes, I have to admit, today I definitely was lollygagging.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Evening sounds...

I enjoy coming home to my neighborhood after school. It is full of life and always makes me glad that I didn't relocate back in the country. My neighbor boy, Ryan, joined the band last week and is now practicing his trumpet out on the lawn. He walks back and forth playing (I think there might be another name for that!!) unti his Mom gets home. I can still here him, however, through the screens in the windows!

Everyone is mowing tonight..the weather is dry and cool and mowing lawns in Indiana is a state pasttime. Here in town everyone uses a push mower and trims and weeds.

There is a local band practicing in a open garage a block away, actually I think they are doing pretty well, and have had a few gigs.

Other folks wave as they ride by, walk their dogs, or just leisurely enjoy this last night of August. There is a full moon tonight, and if you excuse me, I think I will take out a glass of wine, no I think I will just take out a beer and make a wish upon a star.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Walking through town...

I had the luxury of a long walk this afternoon. Bundled up in my Irish gardening sweater, jeans and socks under my sandals I began my journey of becomig reacquainted with my small town. I live just a few blocks from the center of town which is composed of a civil war monument in the midst of a circle of shops. They are all Mama/Papa shops of antiques...and gifts...and a small pizza palor...and a coffeeshop. It is nice to know the owners of each...to wave as I pass by each shop. The circle also holds our court house and local newspaper office. Each storefront boasts of posters of upcoming programs...yoga seminars...a production from the local theatre department..and apartments for rent.

Just a few block to the East is Tri-State University which specializes in engineering. The summer brought changes to the university..roadways and buildings. It was fun to explore.

As I walked I noticed the beginning of autumn leaves...an occasional branch of scarlet or ruby poking it's head from the still emerald leaves of summer. Ahhh, yes, autumn will be here soon enough, but here in Indiana there is still summer mowing to be done!!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Mum's the word....

A stroll around my late summer garden yields lots of tucked in surprises. There is the fragrant rosemary..waiting to be brought in before winter winds...clumps of black eyed susies, enough to have bouquets all over my house, if I should choose to pick them all and leave the stalks bare. I also have a small fenced in pumpkin patch that knows no boundaries!! But the most lovely of all is the chrysanthemum. They are colorful against the white picket fence as I have them in every hue. The mum (the nickname) is of Chinese and Japanese origin and have an inherent insect repellent. Country folk would often tie up bundles of them and hang in barns to chase away insects and fleas.

As for me, I just like filling old crocks and antique vases of mums and placing all through my house...as a reminder of summer's beauty and the teasing of the upcoming autumn.

Friday, August 27, 2004

First week of schoool....

So the first week of school has now come and gone. I can remember so well the first week when I was a child. The only fun part of going back was having new clothes, new shoes. I just loved summer. When I had a family with my children I dreaded going back to school for all of us..time seems to be marked by school years and the school calendar. Now that it is just me, I guess it is different. School appears to be the place that I need to be..the place where I am. Or does school keep me from the place I need to be???? Too deep of a thought for a hot Friday afternoon. There was no heat in Indiana until the first day of school. The past few days have been so hot...sweat drips off children and teachers as well. By 10:30 learning has stopped...daydreaming has taken over...daydreaming of summer vacations, cool pools, frog bogs, bright nights....the kids seem to be having a hard time as well!!!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Ferry Horns and Train Whistles...

The unpacking is all finished...everything back to where it started last spring..boxes stored in the garage..new seashells in cupboards and bowls. Home again.

Saturday was the end of summer concert in the park. The night was stunnng...cool and clear. The quarter moon was so visible in the night sky. I took my lawn chair and walked over to the park, getting a good seat to hear the rock'n roll band. They are always a crowd pleaser. There were little stands of hot dogs and sloppy joes and even hot chocolate as the night was in the 40's.

Sunday night was a birthday party for Adam and Aaron. Aaron lives here in town now...but Adam and Tonya were here for a visit. The had invited lots of their friends for a typical cook out an dairy queen cake. The highlight of the evening was the watermelon seed spitting contest. It was won by my niece who didn't want to enter as she is/was a "non-spitter". We had Olympic time trials and lined up the three winners as we sang the National Anthem.

It is good to have family and friends around...it is helping me get through this transition. But some things have changed..from we to I...from walking around the lighthouse to walking through the park..from ferry horns to train whistles...from sharing each moment with someone I love to quiet evenings alone.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Where is home???

Last night Mom and Dad and I went to Bruce and Jo's for one more family get together before they left for Texas this morning. We had supper and laughed and shared family stories. It was a wonderful evening. I slept on the couch in the living room...knowing people I love were in the same house slumbering in beds. It is always a good feeling to have someone you love under the same roof when nighttime falls.

After many hugs and good byes, they left for Texas as Jo and I, arm in arm, waved as long as we could see them. It was just last weekend that I had to say good bye to

I came home to unpack and settle into my house. They had left me a card on my bed and a dozen French harlquin dolls hidden all over to cheer me up. The weather is lovely..cool and clear...my house is big...it is quiet, and I am deeply saddened.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Goin' Home"

My favorite musical group is Molasses Creek from Ocracoke Island (of course!) They have a wonderful song, Cedar Island Ferry, that has a line or two in it which says, goin' home....

So, that is what I have done. Philip drove me to Norfolk where we spent time with his brother, Buddy, and sister in law, Elaine. It was wonderful to meet his brother. We left late in the afternoon for my early evening flight to Fort Wayne. I truly was numb with sadness...my summer was so wonderful...Philip has become my best friend. But, alas, responsibilities were waiting for me here in Indiana...my teaching job, my son and his wife with the new baby coming soon, my sister and her family, my house, my storytelling, my friends. A bonus is that my parents are still here and livng with me this week until Friday. Or should I say I am living with them? After all this time, I feel like a guest in their home. It is wonderful and I love spending time with them here.

So, little by little, Indiana becomes home...the house at White Picket Gardens becomes where I live. But there is someone a thousand miles away that I think of daily.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The End of the Story....

There is an old John Denver song, "well, my bags are packed and their ready to go..I'm standing here outside your door, already I'm so lonesome I could cry."

Except for me, I have cried...many times this past week. I knew mid-August would come, but I hoped it wouldn't come this soon.

I will miss each part of this summer...showers outside, walks on the beach, gin and tonic on the pizer, lunches in the treehouse, working in the shop, rain and hurricanes, new friends, the scent of cedar...I will miss Philip.

scented cedar trees
salt water mist on my tongue
sand between my toes

whispering breezes
hot, still, humid nights
long shadows at dark

droplets of aqua
hurricane bursts ofwater
tears or ocean spray?

Good bye, sweet summer.

So, what about Charley?

We were sure it was coming again this time..category 5, winds up to 200 miles per hour...and no one was going to be caught out in the wind this time. Tourists were evacuated, cars put up on high grounds...proclamations were posted in the village. Some folks even boarded up shops and homes. It is quite interesting here with the tourists gone..no trafic..no folks walking on the wrong side of the road..no one taking photos of "us" doing normal household chores, hanging out the laundry??

We had champagne and naps...and he never showed up. Ahhh, just as well, the tourists will be back as I write..the ferrys will bring them and we will serve them.

Now what about Danielle?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

. The Night Sky in Ocracoke in August...

sky

starlight, inky

sparkling, tumbling, falling

jeweled, distant

universe



Big Dipper

eternal, patterned

showering, glowing, mystifying

ancient, romantic

constellation


Perseid showers

midnight, new moon

gazing, consuming, wondering

blankets, mosquito spray

Together




























Thursday, August 05, 2004

A toast to showers..and electricity,and surrealness.

It has been 48 hours since the Hurricane, but in some ways it feels like a very long time. Tonight I sit looking out the window at a peaceful street as I sip a glass of red wine and just wonder about the whole event.

So much damage..so many stories to tell about. Folks without cars, furniture..businesses without insurance..heat and mud. But there are other stories too...taking the infamous birthday cakes to the Salvation Army's headquarters down the street and share Philip's birthday with the community (not the party I had imagined!!) It was a poignant moment, though, as all the volunteers sang Happy Birthday to him. They were a welcome sight..they still are with hot dogs and pure bologa on white bread, nothing ever tasted so wonderful.

We spent yesterday helping folks by hauling out carpets, scrubbing floors with bleach, rinsing furniture..bikes...turning over dryers.

A mandatory evacuation began late last night..all the tourists are gone. It is quite interesting to bike through town with just the "locals." Some tourists drove off in their cars...others (over 500) left on school buses that had been brought in a their cars are flooded and ruined. They waited for the busses just like kids on the first day of school with their bikes and wet laundry and much disappointment.

It is time now for serious clean up..to get things scrubbed and repaired and ready for the tourists of next week. I am fascinated with the love of the community...I am so happy to be a part of it..to be needed. There is no TV or radio news for us..the news comes in the lines at the Salvation Army or as postings on the community store. Throuh it all...stories live.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Update for Alex..

While we have power I thouht I would do my own up date..although for more complete covereage go to Philip's web site.

It is amazing to me that folks off of the isand do not know whatis going on here. No reporters come to Ocracoke to wait out storms. We took a very hard hit. The tide waters of yesterday's storm match that of the 1944 Hurricane. Water, debris...everywhere. Hundreds of cars have been lost, docks, water in homes. I can't even begin to describe all the devastation. Philip's business and houses are safe on the inside, the water did not get inside...but we are knee deep outside. There is a curfew for the islnd from dusk to dawn..power will come on for a short amount of time, but no air conditioning is to be used. All businesses are closed. The pressing problem is getting the tourists off the island..there is no food for them and they use up the precious emergency electricity. Then we can attempt at the clean up. 29 power polls have been lost up beach on highway 12.

The winds were sustained at 60-80 miles per hour for hours yesterday with gusts clockedat 125. There are of course trees down, but the biggest damage was that the storm swung around and brought in the water from the sound side, thereby flooding the entire island.

Our first goal is to help Banch haul out flooded rugs and furniture and meander down to help friends and neighbors. The birthday party? I am donating the cakes to the red cross when they get here. We are sure to be declared a national disaster area.

But no loss of life..everyone is in good spirits and will be helping each other. Philip will have photos later on, check back.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hurrcane Update..

We have just been updated to a Hurricane 2...winds to be 100 miles per hour and to have a direct hit on the island within the hour. Power and phone lines still intact...wind shrieking out our window..branches banging against the shop..cars all pulled to high ground..jugs of water await use. But we are fine. It is odd to think that the ferries are tied up, and we are all on our own. There is no emergency management team..just friends and neighbors to help each other.

So...here we are on a little tiny island in a hurricane..

Where do I begin to tell about the last 24 hours..so I will do it in headline fashion!!

PHILIP'S 60th BIRHDAY (YESTERDAY)

NEW BABY BOY BORN (PHILIP'S FOURTH GRANDCHILD) TO AMY AND DAVID !! ALL IS WELL AND ADORABLE!(YESTERDAY)

QUICK TRIP UP TO ELIZABETH CITY (FOUR HOURS UP AND FOUR HOURS BACK)TO SEE THE NEW FAMILY AND HOLD LITTLE LOCHLAN WESLEY TWEEDIE HOWARD (YESTERDAY)

HURRY HOME TO CATCH THE FEERY BEFORE THEY TIE THEM UP BEFORE IMPENDING HURRICANE (YESTERDAY)

PHILIP'S SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY CANCELED AND RE-SET THREE TIMES DUE TO STORM, BABY, STORM (YESTERDAY)

A quick run into the village this morning for conversation and bottled water..drove out to the beach, could not stand up in the wind and blowing sand. Everything closed on the island..campgrounds evacuated and tourists asked to leave. It is a hurricane 1, and it is my first. I will keep you updated as long as there is power...between times it will be games of gin rummy and cribbage an baking cookies and feeling the shudder of the wind and the pouring rain. But, all is well, and I could't be happier!! Check Philip's blog for more details and photos of the baby and the hurrcane: go to www.villagecraftsmen.com and then click onto the Ocracoke Journal.




Saturday, July 31, 2004

Stories at Dusk....

Friday nights here are slow-paced. Sometimes the men play poker..sometimes there are dinner engagements or bike rides...but there are no malls to visit, no movie theatres to view new films..no K-Mart or Wal-Mart to occupy time.

Last night after supper we walked the sandy road to Blanch's house...she is Philip's cousin and has lived here on the island all her life. She is 83. We carried a lasagne casserole (compliments of Philip's cooking)...opened the white gate of her garden and up to the front porch.

Blanch's house is typical of the island...it is painted white with lovely green trim and a large pizer. The scent of gardenias was strong as we knocked on the door carrying our offering.

Blanch was delighted to see us as she had been cleaning, and needed the break as well as the company. Two fans were circulating the air in the parlor room which was filled with family photos and books including the census of Ocracoke for 1870 and the cemetery
records.

She is always interested in what we are doing..but truth be told, we are much more interested in what she has to say. Her mind is sharp, her memory is impeccable..the hurricane of '44..the black out of WW11. Last night the conversation wove around to children's games. She was animated as she began to tell us about the games she played here as a little girl. Some were typical...hop scotch, marbles, skipping ropes...some we had never heard of. Philip, with paper and pencil in hand, wrote titles and words as fast as they were spoken.

It was dark when we left. The almost-full moon was playing games with us..hide and seek through the live oaks and cedar trees. Blanch stood at her doorway and waved, "Wasn't this fun tonight?" she said.

Indeed it was, Blanch, indeed it was.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Show Goes On...

Every Wednesday evening the community of Ocracoke presents an old time Opry, the Ocrafolk Opry...this is a wonderful combination of music and stories...including haronica and madolin and guitar. The performers live and work on the island..running shops, waiting tables, saiing ships, caring for children. I first visited here three years ago and have not missed an Opry yet (well, almost!)

Last night Molasses Creek was off island...so there were a core group of folks in charge, Philip was the emcee (and storyteller)..and it was my great honor to tell a story during the second half of the show. I have told stories so many places for lots of years, but last night was so special for me. It was telling stories with new friends and family..there was five year old Caroline in her pirate garb singing with her Dad, there was 83 year old Roy with his harmonica and guitar and a bit of yodeling.

At the end of the evening all the performers go back up to the stage to sing, "I'll Fly Away." It was such a grand moment for me to stand with Philip and new friends and be part of the community. When the evening was over, there was pleasant conversation and bantering..the clouds were arranged as if in a quilt as we walked back home up the lane...Henry Glassie once wrote in the forward to his book, Irish Tales, it was a good night, a story or two, a song by the fire, enough so that when we meet in the morning we will remember....I will always remember last night.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Clams and Crabs..

So, it started out to be a lazy Sunday...sleeping late..breakfastlate...heavy clouds of rain. But just as the sun burst out, the phone rang..it was Rob iviting us to o clamming for the afternoon. I looked around an laundry and dishes and ironing and bills to be paid and a Sunday Passage to be written. Then I looked at Philip and we both said, "let's go."

Philip carried the clamming rakes (on his bicycle) while I brought the clam basket (also on my bicycle)..there were seven of us setting sail in the small sailboat, The Muddy Rudder.

We anchored on a bed of crabs and they skittered under our feet everywhere we walked on the sandy shores of the sound. We talked and clammed and swam and filled our basket. Now we just clean them and have clams casino tonight.

It has been a lovely day...we will share clams with friends, listen to Martin at the Jolly Roger, and ride our bikes home late tonight over the sandy roads with fresh scattered clam shells. As for the work, there is alway tomorrow.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dripping Diamonds...

Soaking rains have canopied the island for two days. It was and is a much-welcomed rain as it has been dry for the past few months.

I have enjoyed watching out the window as folks huddle together under umbrellas making their way down Howard Street dodging puddles and low-lying limbs.

There is something so primitive about a cloudburst...folks rush into the shop laughing and talking about the rain...when did it start...when will it stop..good day for reading, shopping, napping.

As for me, I love the change from the hot, sunny days...I love to watch the drops fall from live oak trees and junipers and cedars and wild rosemary...like diamonds or crystals or prisms hung in windows. I love to hear it on the roof tops...I love to wipe off the seat of my bicycle with an old pair of socks I keep on the porch just for that purpose..I love coming inside to a cup of tea or fresh cookies or to someone I love.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

My special day....

Dear Friends, (I usually don't just write to friends as a journal, but felt like it for the day),
Today is my birthday, and I must admit I really enjoy my birthday...even the sun seems to shine brighter. (However, I won't go as far to tell you how old I am....)

I was thinkng back over birthdays in the past...I remember the year I turned 16 and my parents invited my ex-boyfriend to have dinner and a show with us at the outdoor theatre (I could have died of embarrassment!!!)
Or after my first year of college I spent my birthday in Oberaudorf in Germany where I worked as a bar maid...lots of the guest wrapped up small tokens for my birthday...or the year at Indiana University studying world economics and spending the evening at the local pub in Bloomington..there were birthdays with my children with their homemade brownies...birthdays at the 4-H fair (usually the pie eating contest!!....there were birthdays alone (I am strong, I can do this!!)

This year's birthday I am with Philip, and he has made the day special...breakfast was met with an antique butter knife wrapped with tissue paper and decorated with small hearts on my plate..there were flowers from my sons, from Amy and David, from Philip....bulbs for my garden..homemade dishcloths and baskets....there were phone calls from my Mom and Dad, my sister, my friend, Ellen....birthdays are for celebrating, and I feel loved and cherished on this day...

So, here's to another year...a toast to sunsets and walks..to friendship and love. Lou Ann

Monday, July 19, 2004

Roses, poems, and silver spoons...

July is rainbow waves of heat....summer lightning...cool white sheets fresh from the clothesline...lazy days with no school...and the month of my birthday. I share this birthday with my Grandma Rhoads who taught me how to plant green beans and grow African violets...how to make potato salad and oatmeal cake...how to stitich on a button and hem a skirt..I miss her.

Birthays on the island are colorful affairs. Last night was the community pot luck for those of us born in July. I feel honored to share my ruby gemstone with Sundae, Karen, and Marcie....all very strong women I am getting to know. Sundae made us crowns of roses and ribbons that we wore all evening...everyone knew we were the birthday girls. Other small gifts were presented during the evening...silver spoons, poetry....but it isn't about gifts...it is about friendship and community.

The food was wonderful from Philip's deviled eggs to island fig cake and everything in between. There were friends and relatives in every room conversing on every subject

I have decided to wear my lovely crown all week...and shouldn't we all own a silver spoon???

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Sunday ....

Ahhh, today is Sunday...we had a hearty rain and thunderstorm in the night. I had to wipe off the seat of my bicycle before riding into the village for early morning groceries.

It is lovely here on Sunday morning. The sound of the church bells welcome the walking parisheners.

Most of the cottages change hands on Sunday so tourists are packing up wet bathing suits, T-shirts with Ocracoke emblazened on the front, seashells, sandals full of sand and memories...I see them lazily drive down Howard Street one more time as they sadly strap the watch on their wrist and turn on the radio to see what news they have missed.

The new folks are arriving with fresh, new bathing suits and a clean car (it won't last long!!) They are just turning off the radio and unstrapping their watches...their 20 dollar bills are still crisp from the ATM and the family togetherness has begun.

As for me, I'm not coming or going...I just am..and I really like that. I

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Sails and Sunsets

Until last night I had never attended a wedding on a sailboat or attended one barefooted..but for one evening the Emily Post rules of etiquette and the wedding planners were dashed.

Joy, a wonderful friend of Philip, and her fiance, Joseph, chose the island for their wedding. Over the course of the week, family members flew and drove and ferried over (it is a lot of work to get here!!)...til all were gathered on the dock last evening. We all spilled upon the Windfall leaving shoes behind...A cooler of champagne was carried onto the boat. The bride carried a bouquet of local flowers picked on the side of the road and off dusty paths. Captain Rob and his first mate, Frank, hoisted sails as the wind carried us out into Pamlico Sound. When deep out into the water, the ceremony took place...six little nieces from four to fifteen read poetry of Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barret Browning and from the Velveteen Rabbit...The sun set as a crystal scarlet globe as we toasted the couple and sailed the Sound. The girls sang...it was peaceful...it was romantic...

A reception of homemade cake and visiting and stories followed. I don't think I will ever think about the Velveteen Rabbit again finding love...without thinking of a scarlet setting sunset and sails.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Dinner Party...

Last night we hosted a dinner party...friends of Philip's..new friends of mine. I love dinner parties here...they are casual (yes, we had barefeet)...they don't take too long in planning (we got home from the beach at 5:30)...and if you foget something (we did!!)...they will bring it!!

Karen and Dave arrived late (which was a good..see above) carrying clams casino. Dave is a park ranger for Portsmouth Island..a non-inhabited island (he takes his boat to work each each, thereby missing the bike traffic here on the island at rush hour!!) Karen works at a local island resort..although has been a teacher and now also home schools her daughters.

Our place was festive with new candles in the wrought iron chandelier over the table, lots of red wine and fresh caught shrimp from Danny's Seafood establishement. Philip steamed the shrimp and served them in a large bowl in the center the table...along with cole slaw and sweet corn (not the best, but nobody cared!!) and brownie sundaes for dessert. Amy stopped by to say hello and had dinner also!!

We toasted friendship and dinners and quiet times spent with friends..the talk was of island politics and folks and children...of all ages and those yet to be born.

We left the dishes and masses of dripped candlewax til morning. It was a lovely evening...strong stories, strong folks...oh, and all those clam shells were tossed into my garden so that I will remember the evening.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Sizzling Summer

It is hot here on the island...July hot..firecracker hot..dogs snoozing under old cedar trees hot. We have all the accomodations thought...air conditioning, ice cream, cool showers, and not to forget the ocean for a sweet/salty dip on these mid summer afternoons.

Growing up in Northern Indiana didn't give us much beach front, but we did spend summers for several years on Lake Michigan as kids. We rented a large house right on the water. Mom would start gathering food supplies in January in a small pantry and by early summer we had pancake mix and syrup (and other sundries) to feed a small army...well, we were a small army of six children!!

By early July supplies and children were all packed into our car, I was always in the middle of the back seat to entertain the younger siblings...songs and stories..Dad would always give a quarter to the first one of us to see the water. I think he started the game a hundred miles short of shore to keep us all busy and looking.

Our summer days were long and lazy...just books to read, suntan oil to spread, and games to play long into the night. Actually, I think I have had enough writing, I'm off to the beach now to cool off from this sizzling summer!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ghostly meanderng in Haiku for Tuesday

mariner footsteps
gliding through clam filled pathways
just looking for home

sails of ivory
silent in Pamlico Sound
dressed in white linen

shadows of shipwrecks
distant voices pierce the night
bones under my feet

shiftlessly she walks
the old woman down the lane
missing her finger

home to back yard graves
wind whistling in live oaks
turn on the porch light

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Phantom Silence

I never really gave spiders much thught. Well, actually, I was bit by one when I was ten or so..my whole face swelled up and I had to see the Doctor and take medicine for days. My friends and broters and sisters were amazed every morning that I was still alive. I went to sleep at night thinking it would be my last sleep and tried to stay awake (I thought you could only die if you were sleeping.)

It isn't that there are more spiders here, I think, it is that I have the time to notice them, although the are everywhere. Their webs thread through trees like hammocks. When caught in the sunlight, they are silver and gossamer...they make mosaic etchings...they cover pathways and bicycle seats. In the darkness they shimmer under moonlight and make dark, ghostly paths more hushed.

I guess what I am saying is that it is good to sit on a porch swing at the end of day and to just think about spiders.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A Stirring Breeze

Treehouses.

It is not a subject most folks think about. It seems other things get in the way..such as what to make for dinner, or the price of gas, or the Presidential election, or choosing a fingernail polish. Maybe the subject of treehouses just doesn't show up in adult conversation. I mean, when is the last time anyone asked you, so..been in any great tree houses lately? But here, where I am living for the summer, it is quite normal. Actually the following statements are pretty matter of fact...should we have lunch in the kitchen or in the treehouse?...if you need me, I'll be in the treehouse..I'll be ready to go as soon as I dry my hair up in the treehouse...now where did I leave my book, oh, up in the treehouse.

Now this isn't just any treehouse. I once lived in a small room over a garage that wasnt much bigger. This treehouse has skylights and porches with swings and shelves and windows and little picket fences around the porches. It nestles in a large live oak tree with a limb that grows right through a small part of the floorboard of one of the porches. It is cool and shady in the day and the night brings on the magical world of darkness with stars and fireflies right at your fingertips. It is a place to read and swing...a place to think...a place to hide..and a place to share thoughts and stories with someone you love.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Midnight Moonlit Meandering

Last night there were five of us..dressed in jeans and sneakers...on our bikes...on a typical full moon ghost hunt. It was midight. I felt a little bit like a teen agers on a snipe hunt. Of cours, we knew we wouldn't see the headless pirate Blackbeard walking on Springer's Point...but just in case, Philip carried a stick. He said it was to brush away the cobwebs on the pathway, but you can't fool me.

The moon had not quite risen as we stowed our bikes by the fence and followed the narrow pathway into the woods down to the water. It was a fairly long hike (well, at midnight, hikes seem longer)..passing the grave of Sam Jones and his horse..they say there are other graves there, but they are unmarked..victims of shipwrecks. Occasionally my foot would catch on a root or a limb would brush across my face. Single file we walked. The view was breathtaking as we reached the sound side of the island...the lighthouse in the distance, the moon hovering over the woods, we huddled together..sharing stories, filling our souls up with the beauty of the night..expecting a fleet of pirate ships to round the corner, come to shore, roll out the kegs of rum, and celebrate the full moon with us.

We walked back with moonlight on the pathway. We never did see any ghosts...but did they see us?












Thursday, July 01, 2004

A Bouquet of Larkspur

Deciding we needed a lovely bouquet of flowers this morning (we have company coming!) I got on my bike and rode into the village to the florist shop. It is tucked in behind the community store, the fudge shop, and right on the harbor. It used to be the grocery store, then a bait and tackle shop, now the florist/Victorian antique shop.

The door was open letting in the mornng breezes from the sound. Chester is the owner of the shop. He was born on the island and also works as the local funeral director. His shop is small with two coolers filed with larkspur and delphiniums and sunflowers. I chose my flowers carefully...colors of pink and blue and purple. He carefully wrapped them in tissue paper tied with a yellow bow. I was cautious as I eased into friendly conversation. It didn't take too much as Chester was in the mood to talk and tell stories. He was born and raised on the island..his shop, Annabelle's, is named after his lovely Victorian grandmama. He shared stories of the mailboat from years ago and he told me he is impressed by Philip's dedication to stories, the real stories. As I left, Chester was stil sitting in the overstuffed chair, covered wtih a worn blanket, behind his small desk..I wound my way down the dock through the sea gulls with my lovely bouquet..a new Thursday tradition has begun.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Just sittin' on the pizer..

There are lots of names for the fronts and backs of houses..porches, stoops, sunroom, deck. Each one conjures up images for me. I remember by Grandma's porch with the swing...stoops were for playing jacks on summer days..sunrooms..enclosed porches for reading and having dinner...decks...suburban bar-be-que. I had never used the word pizer unti this summer..now it seems to be an every day word for me. We invite folks over to sit on the pizer for gin and tonic...we sit on the pizer to watch storms or unsets..and big dogs sleep under pizers.

Yesterday we spent part of the afternoon on the pizer of the community store. It is a large wooden structure in town...not quite your super Wal-Mart. They carry most necessities that you would need. If you forgot your money, it doesn't matter, they have a large file on the counter with everyone's name on it and you just charge it. On the porch, there are benches to just sit and visit with other folks who shop of just ride bikes over to chat and tell stories. The bulletin board on the porch gives the local news..hospital reports, sign up sheet for the fourth of July parade, wedding invitations. It does give new meaning to the phrase, come sit a spell and spin a story or two.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Shoes...Optional

I have a pair of red flip flops...well, OK, actually I have two pair of flip flops. One pair I bought with my son in Santa Barbara...he said I just had to have them..stylin', you know. They cost me fifty dollars...fifty dollars for a pair of flip flops. I got blisters and stuffed the stylin' pair into the back of the closet. A few weeks later the Marathon station was advertising free flip flops with a fill up. Two years later I am still wearing them, blister free. They are a little worn, chunks of cheap rubber have dissolved or broken off and when I raise my foot, you can read MARATHON, but I love them.

Here they are my only shoes, and they are optional. The other night we were invited to dinner. It was great, I love wearing dresses..ironed and pressed..ah yes, shoes, optional, so I went barefoot. We followed up the dinner with storytelling at the local Deep Water Theatre, again shoes optional, just be careful not to cut your foot on randomly tossed clam shells on the narrow paths and roadways. By the way, watches and clocks are also....optional.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Showers of Sun Spots

Living on an island in the Atlantic tends to change one's habits. Some just seem to be matter-of-fact...and one of those would be outdoor showering. It makes sense..really...the weather is hot and humid and after an indoor shower, nothing dries for hours (towels, mirrors, floor tiles.) So, of course, the most practical solution is to shower outside. All of the houses on the island have outdoor showers right outside the back door...well, almost all of them. Out the back door you go with a towel or robe or, well, none of the above..open up the latch and there under trees and sky and stars is your shower. The shower is a wooden structure complete with shelves for all the shampoos and rinses..

There is something quite freeing to showering outside...to hollering to friends and neighbors walking by...or sitting in someone else's back yard waiting for them to finish their shower. Some folks have double headed showers...for saving water...

When the water is turned off, you unlatch the door and reach for the towel, run a comb through your hair and the day is ready to begin..and alas, no tile to scrub!!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Beauty and the Beach

Hot summer days brngs color to the beach on Ocracoke Island. The tourists all gather at the stretch of sand and water that is staffed by lifeguards who blow whistles and determine if the water is safe for swimming for the day...free of currents and high waves. The beach is colorful with umbrellas in every hue...bathing suits in every style...and the smell of suntan lotion and sand-filled bologna sandwiches. It is traditional with sand castles and volleyball and paperback novels (also filled with sand.)

However, down the beach a few miles, accessible from the road by an obscured pathway is another beach. This one is used by the locals...there usually aren't any sand castles or bologna sandwiches, nor have I seen any paperback novels...the beach is simply vacant except for the occasional pair of shorts or sundress, as this beach is swimwear optional. Of course, while frolicking in the surf, one's eyes are often on the lookout for a strayed beach walker from the conventional beach. Thongs are also allowed as was the case today as we met the local island attorney. I daresay, he decided to forego the suit and tie...a nice memory for me to remember when I see him at the bank next week. By the way, he had a great tan!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Journey

Wtihin the last few years I have taken many journeys...some were geographical..trips around the US, backpacking in the British Aisles, visiting my children in all ports. Some have been emotional...living here and there, life changes...some purely meaphorical..into the life and times of Emily Dickinson, Abigail Adams..time past, time present.

But this summer seems to be a journey of all the above...packing and leaving my house at white picket gardens..traveling by rail, arriving on a small island, Ocracoke, to spend the summer with my friend, Philip. Immersing oneself into a new life style is challenging and exciting and little by little becomes the norm. So, friends, the next few weeks will be stories of the journey. Pour a tall glass of iced tea (with lemon or fresh mint), open wide the windows and let's just chat.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Midnight Express

So, at this twilight time as everyone has dinner, listens to the news, chats wihh their families, I am closing up the House at White Picket Gardens...fresh sheets on the beds, cupboards and closets empty, boxes shipped. For tonight I take the Midnight Express (or so I call it) from Waterloo, Indiana to Washington, D.C. and there transferring to Norfolk, Virginia. The summer plans? To spend the summer with my wonderful friend, Philip on Ocracoke Island. It will definitely be a adventure, for as he says, "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore." I can't even begin to anticipate all the events of the summer...so let's just let it unfold. The journey is a combination of Dr. Zhivago and the Polar Express..my lunch is packed, my ride is waiting at the door...time to log out, pack up the lap top as the last item in my carry on. Adventure awaits.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

Welcome to Memorial Day in a small northern town....I walked down early this morning to join in the celebration (carrying my umbrella, of course). I had coffee at Rachael's on the square and watched as the crowds began to gather. Most folks had walked from town, but some had come in from the lakes or farm or the suburbs. The high school band assembled in front of the courthouse and the dignataries on the circle inself....there were boy scouts with flags, babies in prams, folks in wheel chairs...all for the same cause to honor those who have protected our freedom. It was the usual celebration, the speeches, the star spangled banner, the pledge of allegience, taps....except standing next to me was an elderly man. I don't know his name nor his story (at least the specifics) but he wept openly during the ceremony. I quietly removed my anti-war button off my tee-shirt and slipped it into my jeans pocket..it isn't important that he know about me, it is enough that I know about him. I am humble, and I am grateful.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Rainy Sunday Afternoons...

Today is rained all day...pouring and drizzling, and an ebony afternoon with winking streetlights. Rainy Sundays are dreamy times, really. I thought lots today about growing up with a noisy house of six children, and original parents!! We knew we could always curl up with a good book in the quietness of our own rooms...after the Sunday dinner was over. We would come home from church, dad would put Never on Sunday on the stereo/phonograph, and we all had chores. Dinner was always a major production when I was growing up. We had flowers and candles and conversation...and we were never allowed to take a phone call during dinner. Dad would always play the devil's advocate (he still does) and we would be so mad at him!! After all the dishes were cleaned up, we would meander up to our rooms for naps or reading or those missed phone calls. I guess I'll just meander up to my own room here at White Picket Gardens and read a chapter or two before a Sunday nap...ahhh, but first, the chores.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Listening for fairies...

Today is a day of beauty in Northern Indiana. Fat, heavy raindrops splattered trees and earth earlier this morning, but the afternoon became heavy with sun. My garden has never been more beautiful...dripping blossooms of peonies, tall Irises, honeysuckle so heavy that one has to duck under the trellis. It is one of those days that I know the fairies will be waking up. When I was a little girl, my Dad bought me poetry book and inscibed it to me....always take time to listen to fairies, he said...This past month, slowly recovering from eye surgery, I have spent time waiting for the fairies to wake up and prepare for the solstice and midsummer's Eve. Here is a lovely chant to help bring the fairies into your own garden, should you chose.

Ring, ring in fairy ring,
Fairies dance and fairies sing,
Round, round on the soft green ground--
Never a sound--never a sound.
Sway, sway as the grasss sway
Down by the lough at the dawn of the day. (from Ireland)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Meandering Roads..

They say the road to a friend's house is never long....Yesterday I spent the day with my college roommate, Sally...she made the trek appearing at my House at White Picket Gardens with stories and friendship and gifts...We had a candlelit luncheon with fresh strawberries from my garden and flowers in tiny vases. Our lives have taken such different directions..she has three daughters..I have three sons...she is still married to her high school sweetheart..I live alone....but kindred spirits we were meant to be. We told stories. We remembered. We looked at our photos..were we really 12 when we went to college???? (Well, we definitely looked it.)

It was a wonderful day. Before she left I opened up the festive bag of gifts...a bracelet of beads...fishnet kneesocks (I always wore kneesocks in college, much to her despair), a fairy handkerchief for treehouse parties, and a wooden sign: We dwell in possibilities by Emily Dickinson.....
An inscription on my guest wall, an endearing hug good bye....and a wave....ah, yes, possibilities.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Thoughts on gardening...

I have loved flowers since I was a little girl. I used to take my allowance to the farmer's market and buy bouquets of gladiolus with my money. Herbs and flowers all have a world of their own and each has a special meaning. In Victorian times, gentlemen would send their lady friends flowers according to their meaning. Here are a few examples:
feverfew, good health, warmth, you light up my life; heliotrope, devotion, faithfulness, I adore you; lavender, passion; lemon balm, healing lore; laurel, sucess, glory; marigold,health, joy, sunshine, thyme, bravery, courage, strength; yarrow, cure for heartache; bleeding heart, elegance, fidelity; daisy, innocence; cosmo, modesty; heather, admiration, wishes come true, lady's slipper, capricious beauty; nasturtium, patriotism; Queen Anne's Lace, I'll return; snapdragon, no, you are dazzling, but dangerous; sweet william, childhood, memories; verbena, faithfulness, and lastly zinnia, thoughts of absent friends! So, next time you send a bouquet....

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Attic...

While cleaning out Annie's Attic this afternoon, I came across a stack of journals that were tucked away in a satchel. I thought all of my journals were on my library shelves, but here were new treasures...I blew off the dust, settled on the bench under the maple tree and read them for hours. Twenty years ago. I had a different life then, young children, a home and farm to care for. I found a page titled, What I need out of life. It was a list. Here it is in entirety: sunshine, fresh air, rain, snow, quietness, loving atmosphere, pond or stream or lake, warm shelter with windows, outhouse, vegetable garden, berries, small barn, orchard, firewood, chickens, knitting needles, cast iron pot, good books, good reading, comfortable bed, hand tools, warm quilt, and good sock and sweaters. If only life could be that simple. What is your list?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

United States Postal Service....

Quite frankly, I avoided email as long as possible, holding out as long as I could. I always send my thank you notes promptly through the mail..often with a sprig of rosemary (for remembrance) or lavender (for happiness and passions of the heart). The day finally came, I could hold out no longer and bought a lap top from the first salesman who needed the sale as his little girl was ill..no comparative price shopping for me. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am as addicted as the next person...checking often to see what urgent messages await me via the cosmos. I often think how different my business and personal life would be without this treasure (that, by the way, I am typing on this very moment.)

But, I am happy to say that snail mail exits and today I was patiently waiting as my carrier brought me treasure from a friend. Unwrapping a parcel and actually holding it in one's hands is something that email can't give us...so let's pick the rosemary and the lavender and send a note through the United States Postal Service.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

West to Ohio....

When the family of ten reached the location on their map,they found no town, no churches, no schools, no cleared land....just a small post in the ground with a bit of cloth attached...and forests.

A storm was brewing, their bedding was wet and damp from the journey and their hopes dashed. Not knowing where to put the children, they found a huge hollowed out tree in which all of the children would fit. The husband and wife took turns guarding the children from bears and wolves and various other predators. On their first morning as the storm abated and the sun rose through raindrops, they were astounded at the beauty and named the town Aurora, which mean dawn. They built their homestead and it was years later before they even had a neighbor.

Indiana and Ohio are, of course, cleared of trees and neighbors abound in all direction. But out my bedroom window during a fierce thunderstorm, I can only see my neighbors pine trees and it is nice to know a little bit of wilderness still exists, if only in my imagination.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Belly of the Earth

Last night deep, heavy rains plummeted into the belly of the earth. I awoke in the night to rumblings and flashings. I was glad to be tucked into the heart of my own house at White Picket Gardens, but thought of other stories, as one does in the middle of the night.

Scott Sanders, of Bloominton, has written several stories of his family moving from the East Coast west into Ohio, just a few miles from my northern Indiana location.

One of the stories goes like this: The husband persuaded his wife (and eight children!) to go West by telling her the new town would have a church and a school and neighbors and cleared land for gardening and farming.
She had no choice in the 1800's but to follow her husband to the ends of the earth, or simply put...to Ohio.

Tomorrow I will share their journey!

Monday, May 17, 2004

Dandelion Wine

One of my favorite books is Dandelion Wine written by Ray Bradbury. It is different from his science fiction. The story is poignant and reminiscent of his growing up years. Here is one of the lines from the introduction by Bradbury, "So,I turned myself into a boy running to bring a dipper of clear rainwater out of that barrel by the side of the house. And, of couse, the more water you dip out the more flows in. The flow has never stopped. Once I learned to keep going back and back again to those times, I had plenty of memories and sense impressions to play with, no work with, no, play with. Dandelion Wine is nothing if it is not the boy-hid-in-the-man playing in the fields of the Lords on the green grss of other Augusts in the midst of starting to grow up, grow old, and sense darkness waiting under the trees to seed the blood."
My neighbor, Amy, was out picking dandelions for early soup and salad. They are pleniful here in Indiana and a salad of them is said to thin your blood after a long winter. It has definitely been a long winter here...so raise the wine glass high...to dandelions and to stories.....

Sunday, May 16, 2004

haiku for early Sunday morning in a small town

Sunday morning dawn
splotches of tranquility
dappling, dancing rays

silently she walks
the blind woman up the street
looking straight ahead

beckoning church bells
"onward Christian soldiers marching"
flip flops, heels, boots..trend

gasoline mowers
keeping up with the Joneses
too bad..I'm a Smith


Thursday, May 13, 2004

Twilight

Small Indiana towns are charmed at twilight...there are still lazy bike riders meandering toward home...a few gardeners putting away their tools and gloves for the evening..and the cocaphony of the last of the bird songs. Venus is still bright in the night sky and shimmers over my neighbor's tall pine. As Robert Browning said, "All's right with the world." Pippa Passes

Welcome to Annie's Attic

Welcome to my world...a world of stories...and poems...and haiku...and travel...adventure..and gardening....or whatever else is going on in and around my world.

Today in northern Indiana the skies are heavy with rain with droppings off of fresh emerald branches. The irises are beginning to bloom as well as the old fashioned peony bush, which is the state flower of Indiana. Gardens are starting to sprout as well as new plantings
of thyme for the herb gardens. There is an old English song that goes like this:
"Oh, I was a damsel so fair,
But fairer I wished to appear.
So I washed me in milk, and
I dressed me in silk.
And put the sweet thyme in my hair."