Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ladies Night Out (Sure-fire way to banish Cabin Fever Blues)

Car window frost

Now comes the moment to share with you about our trip to Marquette on Friday and Saturday.  My friend, Bertha, and I arranged to meet at an Irish Pub on Washington Street at 4:30 p.m.  It’s called the Wild Rover.

I have never been there before.  She promised good food and great atmosphere.  We were so so so looking forward to an overnight stay in the “big city”.

Ladies, I recommend you find yourself a good friend and book a motel in your nearest big city next weekend.  (OK, if you live in a big city…turn it around…book your motel out in the woods and bring your snowshoes or skis or walking boots.)

It’s time for a Ladies Winter Weekend Away.  You guys can do this, as well.  But for now I’m advocating for the ladies.  Call your buddy on the phone and make arrangements.  You will not regret it.

Motel keyhole art. Who's out there?

I am not a Shopper.  You know, one of those women who loves to paw through the sales racks, finding bargains.  Oh how I sometimes wish I liked to shop!  But no.  I am a Terrible Shopper.  One of those shoppers who walks in the stores, looks around in dismay, and slinks back out the front door after about five minutes of confusion and dismay.

This trip I visited Goodwill, just to see if anything charming popped off the racks and into my waiting arms.  Nothing did.  So I cheerfully headed off to do the Big City adventures I adore.

1)  Sipping java in a coffee shop while writing poems, prose, blogs or emails.  YES!!  You’d think I had died and gone to heaven.  (Maybe it’s the caffeine…)

2)  Walking along Lake Superior or city sidewalk streets, admiring the new sights.  Admiring that it’s a different place, a new place, an exciting place.  Feeling the rush of freedom.  Grinning.

3)  Reading at the library.  How many people go to the Big City to find a stuffed chair at the local library?  Cruise the bookshelves and discover the Most Amazing Novel about, say–Mozart’s Sister–and settle down to read in a cozy corner of the Peter White Library.  It’s heaven.

4)  Eating out.  Oh yes, eating out.  The #1 joy of visiting the city.  This time Bertha picked our evening restaurant.  Since I had never visited the Wild Rover, it was a treat to experience some place new.

The Wild & Crazy Rover

I arrived at 4:30 pm.  Well, maybe 4:35 p.m.  Where was Bertha?  Nowhere in sight.  My eyes skimmed the restaurant.  Hmmm…what to do?  I walked toward the bar, attempting to decide whether to secure a table.  Suddenly I recognized a fellow at the bar.  It was a friend I knew through Bertha named Ed.

“Hi, Ed!” I said, “Amazing to see you! I’m waiting for Bertha.”

“I’m waiting for Bertha, too,” said Ed.

Turned out he was joining us for drinks and dinner.  We found a table and ordered a glass of Chardonnay (me) and beer (him) while we waited for our buddy.

Wild Rover dinner. You know what the Irish call "mashed potatoes"?

Bertha arrived within five minutes and soon we scanned the menu, searching for the Best Dinner.  I chose salmon & champ.  How many of you know what champ is?  I suppose you all do, having carefully examined the photo.  Apparently champ = Irish Potatoes with green onions.  Yum.  Very good.  Do order some next time you’re visiting an Irish Pub.

Next stop:  the motel.  Do you like the keyhole photo?

We walked across the road in the biting wind and watched the movie “Dear John”.  You needed a Kleenex.  It was a tear-jerker.  Definitely a “chick flick” as they call ‘em.

Later, after 10 p.m., we discovered the pool and whirlpool completely empty.  All the dozens of eight year old hockey players were in bed!  (The pool was completely wall-to-wall with hockey babes earlier in the afternoon.)  We settled into the whirlpool and allowed the spa to soak away all our mid-winter blues.  Gone.  Gone.

Hi, Bertha. My friend at the Sweetwater Cafe.

 

Next morning, while Bertha slept in a little, I tiptoed out of the motel room and settled into Starbucks with Ms. Ellie, my trust laptop.  I wrote an Ode to Java on the baby blog.  Click here for caffeinated words.

Then Bertha and I checked out of the motel and dined on the arame spud plate (to die for, I tell you!) at Sweetwater Cafe.  We said our goodbyes.  We promised to do this again some time.

Doesn’t this sound like fun, ladies?

Remember what I told you.  Call your friend now.  Reserve your motel room.  You will beat those Cabin Fever blues.  I swear it.

“Keep Off During Storms or Rough Seas”

Wild waves on the breakwall

Hello, everyone!  I’m home after another adventure.  My friend Bertha and I met for an overnight mid-winter retreat in Marquette yesterday.  Since we’re both so independent, we had to drive separately.  (Also because she’s spending another night with a friend before returning home.)

I worked on Thursday instead of Friday to negotiate more hours in the “big city”.  Leisurely drove over there along US-41.  Approaching Marquette, the bright sunny sky dimmed and gray clouds scudded overhead.  A fierce wind blew from either the north or the east (I forgot to wet my finger and put it in the air to determine direction).

Oh so foreboding...

Down by Lake Superior on Presque Isle, the water looked foreboding.  The wind whipped off the waves with fierce intensity.  I looked at the camera, looked outside, looked at the camera, settled deeper in the warm car…and finally opened the door.  The door almost blew off the hinges!

The wind roared:  “Get back in the car, you fool!”

I burrowed deeper in boots and winter jacket, shaking, attempting to maneuver on the slippery ice underfoot.

“You can’t beat us!” I yelled back to the wind.  (Well, in imagination, that is…)

I slipped and slided closer and closer and closer, attempting to capture the waves crashing helter-skelter against the breakwall.  It seemed strange that Marquette’s harbor held no ice like our sheltered bays in Baraga County.  Both the Huron and Keweenaw Bays lie covered with ice (at least part-way out).  No ice fishermen are jigging on the waves near Marquette.

Don't step out on that breakwall. Too many have lost their lives...

I want to accurately tell you how high the waves crescendoed into the sky.  But I’m terrible at estimating these things.  Twenty feet?  Thirty feet?  High enough to take away your breath, anyway.  (Post script–Barry just read this and laughed.  He said, “Maybe ten feet, anyway.”  Hmmm…  I’m voting for at least twenty.)

A half-dozen other photographers crept closer to the waves, attempting to capture “The Shot”.  You never knew when the wave would crest, so you snapped, snapped, furiously snapped the shutter, hoping.  People would last maybe five minutes before dashing back to their warm cars and trucks.

Lone tree braves icy winds

Every few years you hear tales of people–usually students at Northern Michigan University–who drown off this breakwall.  Perhaps they think themselves a match for the fierce wind.  Perhaps they’re not thinking at all.  You wouldn’t pay me to walk even on to the edges of the breakwall during a high wind.  Standing on shore felt threatening enough.

Another crashing wave! And another!

Spray burst upward as the waves crashed, sometimes sending droplets toward the innocent on shore.  We kept our cameras sheltered.  I wanted a long lens and a single lens reflex camera so much.

The wind threatens to blow photographers into the drink.

After maybe seven minutes, every bone in my body chilled by the penetrating wind, I raced for the car.  On to other adventures in Marquette!  I won’t tell you what they were until tomorrow’s blog.  Too many photos to fit in one blog, you know.

"Keep off during storms or rough seas."

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and staying away from breakwalls during high seas.  Please.

Confession and announcement

Lichen on a stick

I have a tiny confession.  And an announcement.

Remember yesterday’s blog about simplifying?  About looking around at our lives and pruning away that which is no longer needed…in order to make space for some newness, some creativity, some joy, some possibility?

Well, for a few weeks I’ve carved, pruned, cut away, cleared brush, opened up wide paths in my life.

Three days ago, in the midst of the pruning (here is the confession part) I did something unexpected.  Started writing again.  Not like the writing in this blog, which is mostly chatty and everyday and sharing.

Instead, I started writing close-to-the-bone.  Like switching the camera on the macro lens and peering up close at moments in the day.  And decided–(yes, yes, the confession part is coming)–to start another blog.

Are you gasping in disbelief?

Now I know that doesn’t sound like simplifying.  In fact, to some of you, that may darn well look like complicating.  But to me it is already a source of great joy and it feels extremely simple and presence-filled and peaceful.

The name of the new blog is called “Simply Here“.  This is what I shared under the “About” section:

This blog is a simple one.  Simple photos, simple words.  It hopes to catch simple moments of existing on this great blue and green planet.  Bare-bones moments.  Moments without a lot of fuss and chatter and mental add-ons.

Simply this moment.  And the next one.  And the next one.  Whenever the moment decides it wants to be etched in soft words.  Words which will easily drop away in the next moment.

May you enjoy this interlude.  May you be inspired to write or draw or sing your own sacred moments.  Blessings to you who have wandered by this forest path.

It feels peaceful because…heck, I don’t know why it feels peaceful.  It feels like this new blog writes itself.  No effort to get photographs (using old ones or borrowing them from here) and the words seem to address a spiritual longing in me to get as close to the sacred moment as possible.

I wasn’t even going to tell you guys about it…let it be my own little fun and moments of self-expression (it only takes 15-20 minutes to write it in the morning or after work)…but, heck, I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

Here’s the web address if you ever want to check it out:  http://risingnow.wordpress.com/

No pressure to visit!  I’m probably not even going to respond individually to comments there–at least that’s the plan right now–although that might change in the next moment.  Just wanted to share the latest bit of creative adventuring.

Phew.  Confession time is over.  And in case any of you have read today’s blog over there:  my ear ache is (hopefully) gone!  Hurray!

But don’t anybody worry. This is still the Main Blog.  The chatty blog.  The photo blog.  The blog that shares some Lake Superior Spirit from our Little House in the Big Woods.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Soft sweep of sideways raspberry plants

Good evening.  Dinner is finished and the driveway plowed.  Light still illuminates our fair land, an impossible feat at this hour over a month ago.  It won’t be really dark until some time after 7 p.m.

I wandered downstairs to meditate a few minutes ago but couldn’t quit thinking about tonight’s blog.  The words kept crowding around in my mind saying, “Write this!”  “No, write this!”  “Please can’t we stop meditating and just go write?”  “Please, can’t we meditate later?”

So up the green-carpeted circular stairway I crept, careful not to wake Barry after his long hours of plowing the driveway.  He’s taking an after-dinner nap.

Simple. Bare plant bones.

The words voted and decided they wanted to talk about simplifying.  (I am helpless when it’s a unanimous vote and simply must provide the typing fingers.)

Have any of you thought of simplifying your life lately?  Of determining whether your energy and deepest desires match?  And, if discovering they no longer seem quite accurate, attempting to determine what old habits, actions, ideas and thoughts need to be released…and which new ones might be cultivated?

Still life on snow.

I’ve been carving much more space in my days the last week.  Not on the computer too much.  Not checking email, blog, Facebook excessively.  Not playing computer card games way too much.  Giving myself long stretches of time to contemplate, reflect, create, dream, meditate, pray and ponder.

Ahhh…this feels so very good.  Right.  The deepest inner voice says “simplify” and lately it’s been possible to listen.  And to carve space.

Duet in flower and stem

Have you heard that when we multi-task we think we’re being more efficient?  When in actuality, we’re not.  As we attempt to do this and that, and that and this, and this, too…our attention diffuses.  We aren’t really present for anything.  We’re fragmented. We’re going through the motions but we’re not really completely there.

We’re not there in the kitchen drinking the juice.  (We’re thinking about something that happened yesterday.)  We’re not truly listening to our friend (We’re thinking about what we’re going to say next.)  We’re brushing our teeth and stoking the fire at the same time.  We’re putting on our boots and packing lunch almost simultaneously.  We’re going fast, fast, fast…with way too many ingredients diluting our experience.

Sideways stem.

A couple of weeks ago I took a good hard look at all the ways I wasted energy.  Diluted experience.  Refused to be present.  Rushed too much.  And decided to retreat from so much busy-ness. (A lot of it was internal busy-ness.)

I cut back on commitments and groups and time-wasting activities.  And it feels so darn good.  Already creativity and newness is accelerating, zinging up, itching to express itself.

Bell of Queen Anne's Lace

Any one else experienced the same thing?  Any one else cleaned a closet, determined a new course of action, decided to simplify?  Any one else feeling more present in your life, more content?

Ordinary yet extra-ordinary moments

Morning icicle

A day is so often filled with many ordinary–yet extra-ordinary–moments.  If we’re speeding too fast along the highway of life we miss these precious moments.  We gloss over them.  We let them pass without realizing their precious nature, without saying thank you.

An icicle gleaming in the sunrise can be passed as we scurry from chore to chore…or it can be savored in an awe-struck way.  A jewel shines from the eaves.  What a way to begin a day!

Journal and coffee at the kitchen table

Sometimes we have the opportunity to sit quietly at our kitchen table, sipping delicious coffee and soymilk (OK, OK, you can put what you want in your coffee!) Sometimes we pull out our journal–like I did this morning–feeling so relaxed and peaceful–and write poetry.

I tried to write words of presence, whittling the words upwards from the cusp of the magic moment.  Are you ready?  Want to hear?  No scorn, please. Especially when you read the part about coffee curtsying.  This is CREATIVITY, folks.

The words that tumbled upon the journal pages and created inner glee:

Blue jay hides behind tuft of spruce. 

 Clouds swim by obscuring blue dreams. 

Washing machine shimmies in dim basement

  dispelling dirty water beneath pristine snow. 

Pen clinks, chimes against coffee cup.

Coffee curtsies into awaiting mouth, belly,

the long journey back to itself.

Vegetable scraps for the deer. Identification?

I tossed vegetable scraps to the deer and simply had to snap a photograph.  Dozens of folks searched for “vegetable scraps” and found my blog last year.  Secret magical hint:  if you want more blog readers, take a photo of vegetable scraps.  They’ll come running.  Heck, maybe they’re looking for soup recipes.

Skis and snowshoes all lined up.

So I didn’t go snowshoeing or skiing today.  Instead, after the creative stint I journeyed the nine miles into town.  First stop:  haircut.  Just a trim, please.  My stylist, Sandy, and her husband are adopting a Chinese boy later next summer.  She showed photos.  Another extra-ordinary moment as Sandy shared her joy and excitement.

Next extra-ordinary moment followed the hair-trimming.  I stopped by the Nite Owl Restaurant for two scrambled eggs and homemade whole wheat toast.  I always order the same thing.  Settled down to read a book about creativity, when Hud, an 84-year old gentleman, asked if he could join me.

What stories he shared!  It was such a delight to reconnect with my friend from years ago.  He entertained with stories of his three missionary trips to Zimbabwe.  He has such a funny sense of humor.  When we said goodbye, he insisted upon paying for the bill.  I tried to protest but he said, “You try to pay–I’ll have to cut off your arm!”  (It really was funny…maybe you had to be there…)

Broken river of pavement on our road

Then I met my friend Lyn for a three-mile walk through town.  We opted for a town walk rather than a country walk, due to the road conditions.  The miracle of the walk:  three miles passed in an instant!  We shared so enthusiastically that we didn’t even notice our excellent work-out.

Home:  sat at the computer to check email and Facebook and suddenly a friend we met in Belgium in November, 2008, starts chatting.  How fun!  How extra-ordinary!  What an afternoon gift.

Tonight I just returned from a township budget meeting.  Everyone sat around the table planning our tiny (482 people in the 2000 census) township budget.  It was an evening of warmth and laughter.  No disagreements, no fuss.  An ordinary extra-ordinary meeting.  A blessing.

Does anyone have a special moment or two you might share about YOUR day today?  An ordinary extra-ordinary moment?

Let there be icicles (before they all melt!)

This blog is dedicated to icicles everywhere.  You know who you are.  Hanging on eaves, on windows, on roofs. 

Icicle antics

You readers know what the icicles are doing now.  Shhh…open your door…listen.  If the temperature has nudged above the freezing mark, the icicles are dripping.  Weeping.  Splashing.  Singing.  Whatever you want to call it…the icicles are melting.

Timid icicles

 

Pull up your sleeve and this icicle will give you a shot!

The icicles are everywhere, everywhere.  You see them hanging out on storefronts, down along the bay, in the woods.  Each has its own special personality.  You could spend the day photographing icicles and never find two exactly the same.

Twins

Do we all know why icicles are born?  Let’s pause a moment to think scientifically and digest this Wikipedia explanation:

An icicle is a spike of ice formed when water dripping or falling from an object freezes. Typically, icicles will form when ice or snow is melted by either sunlight or some other heat source (such as heat leaking from the interior of a heated building), and the resulting melted water runs off into an area where the ambient temperature is below the freezing point of water (0°C/32°F), causing the water to re-freeze. Over time continued water runoff will cause the icicle to grow.

Curtain of icicles

Some houses feature dainty icicles and some houses sport serious icicles.  Some folks claim that houses need more insulation when their icicles grow into gigantic magnificent displays.  Some people think their heating bills grow more gigantic than the icicles off their front porch.

Dainty icicles against yellow

Icicles in the sunshine gleam much more beautiful than beneath a cloud-covered sky.  Sunshine makes the icicles sparkle merrily.  Sunshine also makes the beauties melt…and when the temperature soars into the 30′s the merry melting music begins.  Drip, drip, drip…

Spring-lovers feel their hearts lighten!  Ice fishermen scowl.

Grand-daddy of an icicle

Before we close this “ode to icicles” let us pause briefly to view icicles attached to snow sliding slowly slowly down our garage roof.  Look at this avalanche of snow and ice creeping down the metal roof!

You might not want to stand under this.

OK, let’s move a little closer to view the underbelly of this roof avalanche:

One of these days it will slide off...you don't want to be under it on that particular day.

I hope you have enjoyed this icicle tour.  If you have any of your own, hurry to admire the sparkling shafts.  Before it’s too late.  Before spring arrives and they depart.

Spring should be arriving here in the Upper Peninsula soon–at least by April!

Fallen Angel Wing

Fallen

 

Angel

 

Wing

Swooshing on skis along Lake Superior

 

The Huron Bay

Forget what I said recently about preferring snowshoeing to cross-country skiing.

Yesterday completely busted my previous opinion.

“You’re making such a liar out of me,” I told Nancy as we skied along on flat, flat ground, our skis swooshing effortlessly in the near-perfect skiing conditions.  The blue sky shined above us and the temperatures basted us in the upper 30′s.

We were in heaven along the shore of Lake Superior.

Nancy leads the way

Nancy works on Tuesday through Thursday, so she’s taken to calling about going on outdoor adventures on Fridays.  Last week we visited the heronry.  This week she suggested the “ski” word.  I took a deep breath and agreed, especially when she mentioned flat terrain.

Did we want to ski along the lake, or along a trail across from her house?

How about the lake?

We must have uttered the words “gorgeous day” at least a dozen times.  It was picture-perfect.  We skied out from Witz Marina in Skanee and headed northeast along the edge of the bay.  The ice out this far is not solid very far out in the bay, so we stuck to the shoreline.  No ice fishing tents dotted the horizon–all sensible ice fishermen baited lines farther in the Huron Bay.

Blue sky, tree

We admired the cabins along the shore.  Nancy knows just about everyone in the community.  We’ve only lived here about 30 years, so we’re still newcomers.  She’s always telling me who is related to who, who lives where, and all sorts of interesting details about people.  She shared ancient history about long-dead residents as our skis glided along.  It was fascinating.

Sauna on lake

We headed toward Lightfoot Bay, a piece of land owned by the Keweenaw Land Trust.  Perhaps some of you remember the blog last summer about our visit there while awaiting the three-masted schooner.  If not, please click here and here.  You can see what the land looks like at the end of June.

We skied up to the lodge owned by the land trust and I noticed the intricate wood on the upper story.  I had not remembered it from last summer, although my trusty observant husband later revealed he recalled it.

Lodge

Nancy and I talked about how much fun it would be to rent the cabin with some other women and spend an overnight or weekend there.  Then we plotted a possible overnight tour with the Book Club to Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

By the time we finished our ski, we had all sorts of adventures planned for the summer.

Broken window

What I enjoyed about this cross-country skiing trip (besides the flat terrain) was the leisurely way we explored the landscape, pausing numerous times to photograph all sorts of views.  It proved a magnificent Friday afternoon.  Can winter get much better than this?

It was a lovely ski, wasn't it?

Kissed by a Pit Bull

Fannie in sun and shadow

Oh, the lessons life teaches us!  One after another, the lessons arrive and teach us.

This morning, Life kissed me on the cheek.

And dissolved yet another pre-conceived idea, another pre-conceived prejudice.  Here’s what happened:

I sat on my friend Jan’s couch.  We held cups of steaming coffee between us and shared stories of our lives.  Her dog, Sasha, and her guest-dog, Fannie, frolicked at our feet.

Fannie leaped on my lap and kissed my cheek, licking voraciously.  I have loved Fannie (yep, you too, Sasha!) since last summer when we met.

Here is a picture from last August, which appeared in the Opening the door, Walking Outside blog:

Fannie...isn't she a sweetheart??

Fannie is a Love.  A sweetheart.  A licky-lovey-wonderful dog.  One of the sweetest dogs I have ever encountered.

I lazily asked Jan (after the sixth lick and kiss):  “What kind of breed is this dog anyway?  I have never known a sweeter dog.”

Jan answered, “A pit bull.”

I thought I would fall off the couch.

A PIT BULL?  Fannie?  One of the most evil nasty breeds of dogs known to mankind?  My heart stopped.  A pit bull?  How could the sweetest dog I have ever known be a pit bull?

That was the moment when a pre-conceived idea met with a reality and realized that any overall labels we place on dogs or humans or nature…might not be entirely accurate.

How many times have we labeled people, places or things based on a pre-conceived idea?  How many times have we allowed fear to direct our lives, without realizing that a culture is made up of many, many individuals, all with different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, challenges, desires?

How many times in our lives have we labeled someone a “pit bull” just because our culture told us a pit bull was dangerous?

I met my pre-conceived judgments today and they fell apart.

My friend suggested I research pit-bulls and discover more about them.  Click here for one article called The Truth about Pit bulls.  Fascinating reading.

Did you know that the American pit bull terrier was the most popular family dog during the first part of the twentieth century?   Did you know that, according to the American Canine Temperament Testing Association, 85.3% of  American  Pit Bull Terriers passed the temperament test, compared to  81.9% of all breeds on the average.  The first sign of aggression or panic is a failure of the test.  Pit bulls achieved the fourth highest rate of 122 breeds tested.  No kidding.

Furthermore, Petey of the Little Rascals fame was a Pit bull.

Helen Keller owned a pit bull, for goodness sakes.

So why do pit bulls have such a bad reputation?  Why do we hear stories about pit bulls mauling and killing children?

I really don’t know the whole scoop. But several on-line articles suggest that the very endearing qualities of pit bulls –loyalty, intelligence, trainability and courage–attract folks to teach the breed  methods which increase their aggressiveness and loyalty.  The dogs are often trained by people to increase vicious behavioral responses.  They are also often trained to fight other dogs as a sport.

Other on-line articles suggest the opposite, indicating that Pit Bulls do have a higher tendency toward aggression than other breeds.    Click here to read a Wikipedia article.

We probably would not choose to buy a pit bull dog–but then again, we are not in the market for ANY animals at this stage of our life.  I also do not know how I would feel if I had witnessed child mauled by a pitt bull.

I do feel, however, that Fannie is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had the opportunity to meet.  It was an honor to be kissed by her.  And she can have the other cheek next time we meet.

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!