Tag Archives: gifts

An Elf, a Pig, and Reindeer Tracks in the Snow



Christmas lights twinkle all around.

I am sending you all holiday love.  Can you feel it?

Did you have a wonderful time during these holy-days?

Can you feel the Sun returning to the earth, lightening our days with hope and joy?

(If you can’t, that’s OK.  I can’t either.  But the calendar does say that the light returneth to the Northern Hemisphere.  Often in January I measure the return.  It equals ten minutes of light each week.  If you don’t believe me, check it out yourself.)

We’ve been celebrating Christmas a day late.

December 26th = December 25th in our books.

Continue reading

Our annual Christmas fight

Every Christmas season it’s the same.  The hard-scrabbling fight for presents, the intense gleam in greedy eyes as we steal the gaily wrapped packages, the glint of green and red holiday lights on the dice as they clatter against metal.

Lights dim low in Nancy’s living room as we eight women sit cross-legged on the floor, like children, except for one of us who leans low from her chair to throw the dice.

We’re looking for sixes or ones to land face up.  If we throw the magic numbers, we get to choose a package.  We already know what lies wrapped beneath the gold and green paper, inside that elf stocking, under those dangling bright purple balls.  We know books lie within the package, for we’re at Book Club, our annual Christmas book exchange.

Tis the season...

Tis the season…

Continue reading


Roadside daisies

It’s my birthday, dear reader.

Time to celebrate the arrival of this 55th year!

Imagine, what mysteries shall present themselves in a new year on this planet?

We can never know how many small delights, how many heart aches, how many bird songs await us.

Some Native Americans give gifts to their friends instead of receiving presents, expressing gratitude for the joy of accompaniment.

This week it will be three years since a wonderful spiritual awakening on my 52nd birthday. In gratitude, I’ve spent lots of time this week focusing on Presence and the love which we all are.

Just like you guys are some of my favorites in this beautiful lifetime of possibility!

Continue reading

Preciousness of life


Sometimes the world seems like a dismal place, a sorrowful place, a filled-with-suffering place.

Tornados roar and hundreds die.  Wars gun down thousands.  Hurricanes strike.  Earthquakes rumble and swallow.  We humans bemoan health care or politics or dozens of other subjects.  We worry.  We stress.  Our days seem dismal and challenged.

Yet–for all this suffering–for all that burdens our hearts–for all that darkens our days–I think that, when it’s time to leave this green and blue and golden earth–we’ll be thankful to have experienced this precious spinning life.

Life itself is such a gift.  Even with the challenges, we listen to robins sing.  We feel light rain on our cheek as we walk outside.  We smell Spring’s sacred return.  We dig our hands into the soil, planting seeds.

We witness tiny trees taking root in the woods.  We watch grandfather trees fall in windstorms.  We glimpse a bluebird, flitting like a jewel near the spruce.  A rose-breasted grosbeak soars between the budding maples.

Life in this instant, raw life, beautiful life, sacred life–what a gift.  This moment is precious beyond breath, and so is the next one, and the next one after this.


I am happy to be alive this Memorial Day weekend.  Amidst all the imperfections of life, perfection exists here, now.  I will not allow thoughts of worry and despair to cloud over this beautiful experience.  I will continually turn toward the divine, the sacred, the infinite possibilities.  I will try to continually open my heart to inclusion, to allowing, to understanding, to love.

Wishing you the best as you embrace your own lives in imperfect perfection.  So grateful for your presence on this earth~~the very special gift of presence that only you can share with us.  My heart overfloweth.  Thank you for all of you.

Footsteps in the sand of life

Honey, Red Ginseng Tea and Shadows


Chris, the package arrived.  You did good.  None of the jars of honey broke in the mail.

Thanks for sending them home for us.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wouldn’t let them on our carry-on luggage.  We might mix the honey with bomb materials. (Who thinks this up?  Seriously, folks, couldn’t we just carry our honey home?)

Red ginseng tea

The chestnut honey (created by bees who fed on chestnut blossoms) and the Red Ginseng tea were gifts of Christopher’s future in-laws from South Korea. 

I am so appreciative of these gifts.  Honey and Red Ginseng Tea from Korea!  Seunghye’s mom explained to me (through her daughter):  “Ginseng is a very good tea for energy.” 

When you Google “Korean Red Ginseg tea” you discover that it increases physical and mental stamina, improves circulatory system function to help adjust blood pressure and lower cholesterol, helps prevent cancer development and at least a half-dozen other health benefits.


It’s a good day.  The substitute mail-delivery lady walked the box to the house with kind words of greeting.  The box wasn’t broken and honey didn’t lie in sticky puddles everywhere.  (Although the edge of the box was crushed.)  Chris did a good job packing the breakable jars.

Sitting down now with a cup of tea and preparing for our township’s annual meeting budget report.  Sounds exciting, yes?  Nothing like an ordinary spring day in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with gifts from the larger world…

P.S.  Please forgive–I am two days behind in replying to comments.  Revenues and expenditures have hijacked the blogger and are insisting payment.  Sorry!  Will catch up soon.

“You have to eat sardines like crazy to get enough feet!”

Howard and his Tin Men

I visited my friend Doris last week.  We chatted around her kitchen table, drinking coffee and nibbling on homemade jelly roll (made with delicious strawberry jam).

Her husband, Howard, (remember his previous photo in this blog?  Click here if you don’t and scroll down to the last picture) wandered in briefly to join us for a few sips of coffee.

He’s been making Tin Men out of tin cans recently.  Or maybe he called them robots.  You can put them in your garden–maybe to scare away the creatures.  Or you can give them to the kids and grandkids.

I asked to photograph his creations.  He–thankfully–agreed.  I thought they were super cute; don’t you?

He asked us to save our cans for him.  Soup cans.  Cans of all sizes.  Look at all the different sizes of cans that you need to make one tin man!

He shook his head as we walked outside, “You have to eat sardines like crazy to get enough feet!”

I laughed.  Repeated that sentence six times trying to memorize it for the blog.  Probably couldn’t remember it exactly these three days later–but you get the gist. 

Poor Howard!  He’s probably having to eat sardines three times a day to complete the tin men by Christmas or whenever it’s time to give them new homes.

I asked if he wanted me to advertise them in the blog.  We could all buy our own tin man and support his sardine-eating challenges.

“No, no,” he said quickly, “That’s OK.  I don’t have enough time to make too many of them.”

Don’t you love it when folks have the skills and desire to create fun things like this?  Have any of you fashioned anything creative like this lately?

Aren't they cute fellows?

The kindness of friends, family & blog-readers makes me cry…

A kind gift

I am amazed that so much kindness exists in the world.  So much giving.  So much opening the hands and heart…so much outpouring of love and friendship and joy into a world that sometimes seems too cruel, too violent, too painful.

Kindness seems to come almost every day, in some form, if we keep our eyes and ears open.  Kindness comes in a phone call from beloved parents, daughter or son.  Kindness comes in a smile from a stranger at the grocery store.  It arrives most unexpectedly every day, usually unbidden, usually without thought.  It arrives and showers our day with deep joy.

If we’re alert to notice the dozens upon dozens of times it visits us during the day.  If we’re awake enough to realize that this kindness is a gift.

And perhaps we can be alert enough to allow our own kindness to express itself through the mornings, the afternoons and the evenings of our day.  A hundred opportunities exist!  (Even if we’re simply being kind to ourselves–that is a start–and how often does our cup runneth over when we’re feeling good about ourselves?)

On Tuesday afternoon, gifted with Mike’s aerial photos of the ice forming on Lake Superior, while writing a blog about it, the telephone rang.  I scurried to answer it.  Guess who?

It was Jane, a neighbor who lives across the bay, maybe ten miles away (less if you’re a raven flapping across the waves and trees).  She’s a reader of this blog and has a delightful one of her own.  We haven’t officially “met” yet, but that will surely happen soon.  Click here to visit her blog.

Guess what Jane is calling about?  Her voice sounds merry and excited.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Umm….writing a blog…” I say. (What else would I be doing?)

“Go check your mailbox!” she announces.  “There is something in there for you.”

Check my mailbox?  Something that isn’t work-related?  What is she talking about?  I must have been momentarily speechless because she said,  “Don’t worry, it won’t bite you!”

“Watch out what you say,” I joked, “Anything you say can and will be used in a blog…”

After hanging up the phone, I pulled on my boots and winter coat and sprinted to the mailbox.  What could it be?

What's in the mailbox?

I chortled in glee, attempting to untie the knot of the plastic bag which protected the gift..  (Nope, couldn’t even wait until walking sedately back to the house like a proper grown-up!)  It felt like Christmas!  A package wrapped in lovely lavender cellophane presented itself.

Upon arriving at the house, I set it gently on the half-shoveled front porch and snapped a photo or six.  Unable to wait any longer, I opened the gift…

Sometimes kindness is so generous

Look at this!  That’s about when the tears formed.  When the shivers of happiness struck.  The envelope was addressed to “upwoods” and here are the presents:

1)  Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Steward Mickelson (A unique look at a little known corner of America, Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, where the simple values of life…family, friends and the good earth and the good food it produces…still abide.)  WOW!

2)  Pencil Dancing by Mari Messer.  “New ways to free your creative spirit.”  YES!

3)  National Audubon Society Field Guide to North America Birds.  (There will be no guessing about bird species from this household this year…)

4)  Call of the Northwoods by David Evers and Kate Taylor (with a free audio CD of wildlife calls.)  You will be undoubtedly hearing quotes from this book for a long, long time.

5)  A packet of French Vanilla Cocoa with a small wire whip. (Which I am sipping now.  Yum…)

6)  And the most beautiful hand-quilted little pillow with the Eastern Woman gazing serenely from amidst beautiful greens and blues and oranges and reds.

…Thank you so much, Jane.  Your kindness and sharing is unbelievable.  It may seem like a simple gift to you–giving from the abundance of your hearth–but to me it feels like a deeper faith in humanity, in our capacity to give of ourselves.

So cool!

And thanks once again to the many other family, friends and blog readers who share and share and share of yourselves daily.

Life is so much sweeter because of your kindness!

P.S.  And don’t any of you fret because I set those books on the half-shoveled deck. They rested in the teeny bit of snow for maybe five seconds before they were whisked into the house.   They didn’t even get wet.  Promise!

Ode to Fountainpen

Fountain pen

How many of us have sat enthralled with a fountain pen in hand, watching the ink flow from the metal nib of the exquisite pen?  How fancy our writing seemed, didn’t it?  Like authors from another era we wanted our words to match the elegance of the pen, our drawings to echo the fine lines which the fountain pen hinted might be attained.

This blog, however, is not an ode to the fountain pen.

No, it is an ode to a human being with the “pen name” of fountainpen.  A blog reader who chanced upon Opening the door, walking outside back this autumn.

And can you, by chance, imagine why I am singing the praises of this reader?

Lovely gifts...


Yes, indeed, Ms. Fountainpen took in upon herself to cruise back through the 365-day outdoor commitment blog and discover at least one photograph per month that looked appealing.  Then she had them made into little notecards for this blog-author (who writes via computer and not fountainpen.)

Photo-leaf on notecard

Isn’t that an incredible gift?  A wonderful gesture from a person who only stumbled upon the blog a couple of months ago?  I am so utterly impressed.  My mom and dad got the first notecard earlier this week.  My daughter received the second.  (Chris, you’ll get yours later this month!)  I want to send them to everyone, just to show them this neat present.

You know what I was thinking about today?  Fountainpen’s generosity made me want to share more gifts with people, more thank-yous, more love.  How often do we follow through with “random acts of kindness”?  I try to do this often…but how many times do well-meaning plans for sharing go on the back-burner because of busy-ness or sluggishness or forgetfulness? 

Thank you, Ms. Pen, for opening your heart and walking forth in the world with generosity.  Thank you all you other friends and family and blog readers who have done the same over the last year with cards and phone calls and books and little gifties. 

I love it how we can encourage and share and inspire one another! 

Spirit stone card

**And this gets even better–she wants me to pick twelve more of my favorite photos from the blog (with its appropriate month) and email them to her.   Will miracles never cease?    :)