It’s nearly here, I can sense it

I was given a 12 minute writing prompt in a writers group today. I would like to share what I wrote.

Prompt: “That’s when I was no longer a stranger…”

I hated the east when I moved here 20 years ago. Strangely, I loved to visit it before then. But the whole challenging package of leaving the place of my origin, my extended family, my “culture,” and my home I loved, all felt too much when I took those first steps into the home I had never seen that my husband had purchased a few weeks earlier. I lived in a fog those first years. Getting up, caring for five children alone as my husband spend his long hours chasing his New York dream. We passed in the night most of the time then. I tried to keep up the brave face but failed miserably and my soul longed for home. My authentic self felt it had been plunked in such a foreign place, I could not embrace it from the inside. That is until Fall arrived. I have never had much of a thrill about Fall. Autumn in California was the end of summer but the days never really changed all that drastically. Fall in New England is an experience. Fall is a living breathing entity of it’s own that some how grabbed the hurting deep inside me and yanked it on the surface to be warmed and soothed by golden light and surrounded by color. Fall brought me into a family I did not know existed. Fall’s family was my senses all celebrating at once…That is when I was no longer a stranger in this place. Fall took me in and included me as one of her own.

It’s nearly here now, I can “sense” it coming. I can’t wait! I am home.

photo 2 (3)

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Bare Feet

The last of summer’s dirt has been washed clean from my feet.

I have spent the past three months happily free of shoes.

It is the season to experience life clear down to the very bottom of my soles.

I have walked in cool water along a glistening lake shore.

I have dug my toes deep in warm or wet sand.

I have bruised and scratched my feet hiking up boulders but also have sunk them into smooth river rocks which crackle as I step.

My summer feet get to walk on dirt; fresh dirt from mother earth that puffs up dust as I move along.

I have run up and down nature’s carpets on grassy hills and stopped to make splashes in sprinklers with my toes.

I wriggle my bare feet in swimming pools and kick up beads of water.

I walk on warm decks or rest them on picnic blankets.

I hop on hot roads.

I sink in wet mud.

I use my bare feet to massage kitty’s back.

My heels crack. My toe gets stubbed. I get splinters that need to be removed. I pull pine cone needles from my heels and remove sap or tar with mayonnaise.

I spend evenings soaking them in warm baths or rubbing them with fragrant lotions.

But the summer dirt never seems to wash completely away until the season ends.

Bare feet.

Summer feet.

Happy feet.

Happy me.

 

 

 

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Winding Down

Summer reminds me of those wind up toys.

The season begins by turning our white handled “winders” until they won’t turn any more and then we’re off–energized and strong…

but gradually move a bit slower and slower mid season only to come to a complete stop mid-motion by the end.

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The beach towels start to fade. There is extra sand or dirt or french fry carcasses left in the car cracks. The summer showers don’t feel refreshing, they just feel wet. No one will eat the other half of the water melon. And the late night bedtime routines feel really late.

It is the only season, to me which begins and ends with such clarity. Carefree attitudes wait all year to be set free in summertime only to seek routine and schedules back again once fall returns.

I wait for summer all year. There are only a few weeks left. For some, school has already begun. Fall has begun it’s whispers and nudges with an occasional fresh breeze and the evenings are getting dimmer.

But I am still moving along strong in my wind up. I will push the gears and springs to the limit refusing to let go and stop mid step. Summer is worth the push to the bitter end.

You get to keep the memories forever.

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Ground level

Put your phone UP

and sit DOWN on the floor…

or on the grass…

or on the boulder…

or on the sidewalk…

or in the dirt…

or on the sand…

on “ground level.”

You have now shifted to casual level.

You are at pet level.

You are at kid level.

Sitting DOWN is surprising.

‘Oh, there’s that missing puzzle piece…’

‘Look at the bug…’

Children or grandchildren will crawl on you.

Dogs will lick your face– cats will rub against you.

The earth beneath your bottom will feel stable and strong.

(Your bum cheeks will get sore)

You are there;

simple and present.

Ground level is highly under rated…

You should try it and be surprised.

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Eat Dill Pickles

Don’t throw away pickle jars.

Here is what you can do with them…

  • Bug hotels (be sure to place some plant food and some sticks or items to crawl on)  You can cover the top of the jar with old screen and a rubber band or use foil and poke small holes.  Remember to let your bug go after a short time so he won’t feel too sad to be away from his friends and family.
  • “Lightening in a jar”:  Catch fireflies if you are lucky to live in the Northeast or make one up by putting battery lights in the jar and turn off the light. Lightening bugs!
  • Collection holder for the summer…bottle caps, penny’s, beautiful rocks, shells, ticket stubs, petals, leaves, ribbons, buttons, feathers….
  • Boredom Jar: Place in the jar chores around the house with a payment on the paper.  If they complain they are bored, then go have them take a paper from the jar and do it..of course they get paid for the job.  Example:  10 cents  Take out the bathroom trash. OR:  put ideas in the jar, so when they can’t think of anything to do, you can refer them to “the jar!” Or use it for an idea jar to do projects or read stories.
  • Begin your Christmas Jar: All the change you find, or have in your pockets or purses at the end of the day go in the Christmas jar.  One day at Christmas time you give the whole coin jar to someone who looks like they need it.
  • Grow a plant in your jar/ put worms under the earth and see if you can watch them
  • Make it into a luminary. Glue with white glue and a little water torn colored tissue paper on the outside of the jar.  Place a candle inside in the evening and see the pretty colors glow through.  You can wrap wire around the tops of the jars and hang the jars if you have a place outside to hold the wire.
  • Make butter: Put real cream inside the washed out jar and shake and shake and shake until the butter gets thick.  Add some honey and you have homemade honey butter.
  • Use your jar as a “compliment”family jar. Leave pieces of paper near the jar and allow your family to write things to put in the jar about something nice a family member does.
  • Penny cleaner: Mix salt and vinegar together.  This makes hydrochloric acid.  Drop pennies inside or use a cotton swab to clean off the pennies.
  • A joke or thought for the day…write them out and read them before bed…laugh together
  • Go to the dump. It is really fun for kids.  Take all your jars you save and throw them in the big container that recycles jars….or take them to a recycling center at the grocery story and get change.
  • Use your jar for water when you paint all those amazing pictures with your children
  • Rainbow Sand: color sand, salt, or white corn meal with powdered tempera paint in plastic bags.  Now you can pour layers of colored sand into your jar to make a beautiful art piece to display.
  • Use your jar as a vase for the beautiful wild flowers you pick on your walks
  • Drink from them with a fun straw
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When Food Was Fun!

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.

ELSA SCHIAPIRELLI

Summer, Food, Friends…perfect fit!

The kitchen is the best place for mega fun! Here are some edible ideas for summer treats, eats and beats to boredom.

  1. Don’t want to cook? Make food boards. Serve on a chopping board or tray rolled up meats or chunky tuna, assorted breads, crackers, chips, popcorn, etc., cheese squares or cubes, add cucumbers, carrots, berries, hard-boiled eggs, olives, dill pickles…what ever you feel like. (have your kids decide) Bring out some toothpicks  and all sit around and nibble. (Do it for breakfast with cut up waffles, syrup to dunk, berries, melons, ham, hard boiled eggs, piles of granola, etc.)

“…he that cannot lick his fingers goes not with me… ”               William Shakespeare

2. Smoothies are a craze. Let your child make up their own. One thing fun is to purchase some inexpensive fun types of cups or silly straws. Many you can get at the dollar store. Let your child pick out a “special cup” that can be just their own.  Have these “special cups” be only for smoothie concoctions.

3. Wait, smoothies make great Popsicles. Pour them in  ice-cube trays, and cover with foil. Stick a toothpick through the foil (it stands up straight) and freeze for a few hours. Let your children eat these all summer, or chop with a fork and it turns into a slushy. Oh, so good on a hot day!

4. Popsicle Competition. Who can make the best tasting flavors? Homemade Popsicles can be made by juicing, adding fruit juices together, lemonade flavors, or adding chunks of fruit into the trays. Have a family or friendly competition and everyone be the judge.

Tip: save small container lids. Cut a small slit in the center and place the Popscicle stick through the slit. Not the lid catches the drips and not on the clothes. Hooray!

5. SCREAM it’s white sugar!! Jello Jigglers are a great sensory experience and they taste good. Allow your child to help make them. The recipe is on the jello box. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Let them use scissors (washed) to cut the jello up and play with it. Eating and playing is allowed. (Hot water is required)

6. Jello Fish Bowl. Make up a blue Jell-o recipe and put into a glass bowl. Place green or purple grapes in the bottom. Allow the jello to set and then use a skewer to add gummy fish. Share with family or friends. This fish bowl does not stink…

7. Going fishing?: Place fishy crackers in a tiny container. Using straight pretzels as the fishing pole, have your little fisher-people dip rod in the cream cheese, peanut butter, butter, or Nutella bate and stick in the fish to catch some. Then eat them up. Try it yourself.

8. Fruit Roll ups are great for crafts. You can make mini purses, bows on cupcakes, flowers, circles. Go to town…

9. Peanut Butter Clay: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered milk, 3 Tables spoons honey. Mix together well then play. (you will want to take a snitch)

10. Dirt Dessert: (Family Favorite) Smash Oreo cookies up to look like dirt. The best way I found to include the kids is to put it in two freezer bags and let them hit the bag with a rolling pin or spoon. Layer clear cups, or a big clean flower pot, with chocolate, butter scotch or vanilla pudding (Whichever you prefer), the Oreos, cream cheese and or whipped cream. Make sure the tops are completely covered with the “dirt.” Place artificial flowers on the top as a center piece or make flowers with gum drops and skewers. Serve the large pot with a clean/ food safe potting shovel. It is a great crowd pleaser!

11. If you read any great children’s books this summer use the content to create a special themed dinner to encourage and continue reading. The story Stone Soup is a great starter. It doesn’t work unless you have the kids help.

12. Turn your tongue Blue Day! Its another family contest and get the camera ready. Choose which is the winning factor for tongue dying. Frozen blueberries, grapes or raspberries, blue fruit pops, blue jello, blue Italian ice, blue gummy sharks, or blue gum balls. I’m not telling which will win!

13. Flavor your own popcorn: You can make this into a contest too. (But everyone is the winner!)

14. Did you know many stuffed animal and doll friend’s birthdays are in the summer? Go figure. Have your child make a party for them that all are invited to. Of course the Lovey will request their favorite dinner or dessert. It is up to you to figure out what that edible surprise will be. Involve your child and the birthday toy. (Chocolate frosted grahammies are easy and delicious and make a great easy piled up cake…)

(Taken from a “Summer Fun” book I compiled many years ago for family and friends)

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Stepping In

Today is my birthday and I am leaving behind a decade to begin a new.

Change has always been difficult for me.

Today feels symbolic because the decade I am leaving was the most difficult ten years of my entire life.

While in it, all I wanted most was to run away!

Yet today I feel frightened to go.

I created my own private ceremony to say good-bye.

I knew exactly where.

First to count so many delicious blessings that surprised me through all the tribulations.

It feels holy inside my willow fort…so first I enter there.

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Then on with my secret ceremony.

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There it is–the symbolic gateway to a new time.

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As I get closer I hesitate, holding on to what I know.

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I don’t want to go forward.

I feel frightened of the unknown.

But I do not have a choice…

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I heave a heavy sigh.

Good-bye ten years.

Then step through…where a new story is waiting to happen.

Happy Birthday Jen.

 

 

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