Autumn Roses

20130519-211447.jpgMy last flush of roses are blooming today,

Fragrantly unfolding on this crisp October day.

Autumn’s chill is sharpening the air

And the profusion of roses are as big as they dare.

From semi-double to two-hundred petals

They are gloriously beautiful, but have thorns sharp as nettles.

Their beauty isn’t diminished by their armor for me,

I know that such loveliness must be protected from thieves.

A chilling breeze sweeps down from the north,

Turning leaves on the trees to yellow, crimson and orange.

But, the roses blossom in shades of summer true,

And the last forget-me-nots add their touch of blue.

Are October’s roses more sweetly endowed,

Or is it the season that enamours the crowds?

Are roses more lovely in the autumn breeze

Because soon to follow is winter’s freeze?

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Sweater Weather

imageSweaters, Merriam-Webster lists them as knitted or crochets garments.

The first use of the term comes from the 15th century. That is about the time that knitting first began. Prior to this if you needed some extra warmth you were dependent upon a cape or shawl.

With the development of knitting it first became possible to have a garment that had some stretch. Trying to move your arms and shoulders freely was difficult unless you wore a loose-fitting garment. Conversely, loose-fitting clothing for warmth, like a cape, allows quite a bit of air flow up into the garment decreasing its ability to keep you warm.

In the 21st century we have threads that have stretch and we love materials that have fibers like Lycra and spandex woven into them.

We have the advantage of being able to keep warm and comfortable without considering how for centuries those were mutually exclusive objectives.

When they first came on the scene a sweater was a marvel of new technology.

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Today a sweater is a symbol of coziness. It resonates as comforting.

Sweaters can be works of art or works of love when they are hand knit. Or they may be called, “ugly” when they are mass-produced gaudy.

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The sweater depends upon who made or purchased it and how they fit the wearer. It is easy to take a sweater for granted. Most of us have drawers full of cardigans and pull-overs with which we keep ourselves warm and comfortable.

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If you are a knitter you know they extent of the labor involved in making a sweater. It does not consist simply in the sheer quantity of the thousands of stitches, but also in the complications involved in shaping the piece to fit the body.

Let it be sufficient for me to say that if you ever happen to be the recipient of a hand-knit sweater you are extraordinarily loved.

imageA completed sweater no matter how poorly made is a masterpiece of hope, plan, labor and hopefully skill.

To knitters who wish to attempt this Everest of knitting, tell the recipient, make sure they like the design and take repeated measurements and fittings throughout the process.

To attempt a surprise is tempting fate and will like result in a complete waste of your time and considerable money.
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A well-made hand-knit sweater will fit the recipient exactly. Unlike ready to wear it is a personal  garment.

Treasure the sweater for the love that it represents, even if you hide the offending item when the maker is not around.

Who Else Can You Really Trust?

The Dashwood sisters from the 1995 Ang Lee movie based upon Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

The Dashwood sisters from the 1995 Ang Lee movie based upon Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility

There was no way that I could have predicted this, but after writing about trust on Monday I discovered on Friday that trust was the theme for Five Minute Friday. Oh, no! What is a girl to do?

Enter my sister from stage right. Actually she entered from the door on the right, but now I have drama on my mind. I don’t remember what she came to tell me. I know it was only a few hours ago, but what she said wasn’t important. What she did set the wheels rolling in my mind. She had a dust mop and she swept the floor of my study while we talked.

After I had shared the trust that dogs have for us. I likened it to the trust we should have for God. I thought that I couldn’t find more to say on the subject of trust in one week. Who can you trust besides God and your dog? Your sister! For those who do not have a sibling that you have always been close to, you will have to think about a dear friend who has been like a brother or sister for you. You can trust a good sister.

In the book, Sense and Sensibility, Marianne and Elinor are close sisters who experience loss, injustice, grief, broken hearts and much more. They are very close friends despite the fact that they respond to the vicissitude of life in very different ways. Siblings teach us that we don’t have to agree with everything someone else thinks in order to love and care for them. Elinor, Marianne and their younger sister Margaret help one another through a period of upheaval because they have learned to trust one another.

My mother always stressed that everyone needs someone that they can trust to always tell them the truth. Sisters we were taught should stand with each other through good and bad times alike. My sister is someone I can trust to tell me the unvarnished truth, even if I don’t want to hear it. She will help me no matter what. She will also sweep my study floor if she is holding a dust mop and talking to me. That is another picture of true trustworthiness in my book, as well as Jane Austen’s.

This post is number nine in the series A Fresh Look @ Simple Things. It is also teaming up with the Five Minute Friday team at Kate Motaung’s. Check out what else is going on by following the links above.

Overlooked Potato No More

imagePotatoes are so ordinary to me. When I choose the topics for this series I was looking for commonplace items that I could reflect upon. Honestly, I was seeking things that most people would be very familiar with. This post is part of the series A Fresh Look @ Simple Things , for write 31 days 2015. If you want to see what others have to say about write31days check it out here. Continue reading

Simple Pleasures of Life with Cats

Cats. What can I say about these enigmatic creatures that is fresh and new?  My earliest memories are of soft tabby fur and a purr that reverberated through the walls. Cats do not occupy all my time. I don’t write about them. My sister and I  have said for years that I should write a book about cats; what can I say in a blog post?

They may not occupy that much space in my conscious mind but they are as pervasive as air in the history of my world. They have always been present and without air we gasp and die. I’ve spent my whole life living in close communion with cats.

The cat will treat you as you treat them. If you want an animal that will largely look after itself and share your home without demanding much of your life the cat will oblige you. If you worship the ground that they walk upon they will treat you like a god.

I have always treated my cats like close family members. Puff Mae treated me like her own kitten and I treated her as another mother. I learned the location of every little hiding-hole in our home before I could run. I perfected my “run all the way around the room without touching the floor” with such success that as a skinny two-year-old I broke the coffee table. My mother could not understand my explanation for why I had run across the top. “Why would you run across the table?” “I had to Puff Mae was leading me and teaching me.” “What?” “I can already crawl all around the room behind the furniture without your having seeing me. Now I need to learn how to go around the room without having to put my feet on the floor.”  “Are you playing cat games?”, she finally guessed. “They’re games. Didn’t you play them when you were little?” “No. Petesie and I  cuddled and had tea parties. He was a really good cat.”  “You missed a lot, Mommy” “Just stay off the tables.” “But I’ll never make it around the room.”” You are not a cat. You can’t jump as far and you won’t fit. Stay off the tables. Try tea parties.”

Puff Mae was superb at raising little girls. She cooperated with wearing endless clothes but my mother insisted that I not pull doll bonnets down tight on her head and I must never tie (read knot) the bonnet strings. It would be uncomfortable for her ears. She sat, rode, and sprawled in every piece of doll furniture without complaint and even drank water from doll bottles. If I squeezed too fast the water ran into her mouth faster than she could drink and some ran out the other side and down her chin. She would turn her head if I didn’t pour the water in slow enough to drink. They only time she was ever put-out by my high jinks was when I put a “magic ” bottle in her mouth. When she saw what looked like milk decreasing in the bottle, but couldn’t feel any liquid in her mouth she literally jumped out of the doll high-chair and would have nothing to do with that bottle again. Her patience set the course for my life.

Puff Mae

Puff Mae

As an adult I have treated my cats as if they were my  “natural “kittens and they have treated me like the mother. I always have a cat with me in the house. My own cat, Rose follows me around and comes running with my dog to greet me when I come home.  They want to be a part of all that I do. Writing bores my cats, so they regard it as more-or-less nap time. The writing is more if they are sleepy and less if they are not tired.

Each of my cats has had very unique personality. They have all been very intelligent and had definite individual interests. Rose loves to spend time in the kitchen with me when I cook. She knows that she must remain on the floor or the chair. For her it is a time when she has me mainly to herself. She follows me around the room and listens to me as I do my version of a cooking show host for her benefit. My “fur kids” don’t get to eat human food as it is not healthy for them. Rose doesn’t sample the food she “helps” me prepare. The only exception comes in a tiny taste of roast chicken when I am putting the leftovers away. She loves roast chicken so much that she sits and watches it while it roasts. I’m careful to leave the oven light on since she happily waits in front of the oven window. The way she sniffs the air as it cooks is adorable. The look in her eye as she quietly waits by the oven tells me clearly that having my attention and roast chicken is pure bliss to a cat.

Rose

Rose

This post is part of the series A Fresh Look @ Simple Things.

#write31days

Character Trees

imageI love trees. My street had a wealth of old trees when I was a child. My bedroom window looked out into the upper branches of an ancient apple tree. It was a view that I adored. When I read Anne of Green Gables I immediately recognized the Snow Queen.

As a teen when I went off to college in the big city I was rapidly appalled by the exhaust fumes, noise and endless concrete. My older sister loved the city. I always preferred the country, but I had nothing against the city. Only a few months into college I found myself irresistibly standing transfixed on the sidewalk in front of the only green space on campus. It was home to one majestic tree. A squirrel was playing next to tree and I could not move until he disappeared from sight. I was late for class because I couldn’t take my eyes off a squirrel. As a conscientious student, I was astounded at my own behavior. Being of a philosophical nature I pondered what it represented for the rest of the day and part of the night. I concluded that I could not be happy living anywhere with more people than trees. I probably overestimated the number of trees required, but to this day I have never been satisfied without a minimum of one tree per household.  More trees always make me happier.

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I originally believed that when the tree to person ratio exceeded my preferences it resulted in too many people congested into one area. I now wonder if it may also be a natural fondness for what trees represent. I have a good friend who is a fellow tree enthusiast. She described trees as have such interesting characters. She did not mean that they had personalities, but that they remind us of people who have very lively characters. The sort of characters who make an engaging story. My friend loves a good story as well as an interesting tree. I think that this may be why writers often express a fondness for trees. Tolkien loved trees as did L.M. Montgomery. Trees often remind me of people with personalities too big to keep in check.

I have cried when my neighbors cut a tree down. I still miss trees that were removed years ago. When age, disease or lightning damage a tree I understand why that tree may need to be removed. What I don’t understand is why some people view trees as nothing more than a liability issue. Lest it lose a branch in a storm, or blow down on a car they cut it down and replace the regal growth of generations with a sapling. I find it sad. Everyone doesn’t find the same joy in antique trees.  Rather than an arborist they call a tree removal company. Fortunately, God filled the earth with trees and left alone more grow. New trees are the hope of the future. I will admit that some self-sow very freely and many a gardener may have been disgruntled by their pervasiveness. They do not always take root in the best places. Oh, but the beauty they provide!

You may have guessed, but my favorite trees are wild trees. Left to their own devices the winds reshape trees into fascinating structures. Some people want symmetry. As for me, I like tempestuous trees, shockingly autumn colored trees, frilly spring blooming trees, stooping, weeping or swaying, I love trees.

#write31days

Trust

This is post number 5 of the series A Fresh Look @ Simple Things.

Today’s theme is Dogs. They call dog, “Man’s Best Friend.” There is a quote that I like that says, “If you think a diamond is a girl’s best friend you never had a lap dog.” Statistics show that a high percentage of us have a dog. If we are open to the possibility the dog will gladly choose us for his or her best friend.

People are the ones who break up with dogs, they never abandon us. They have become ubiquitous across cultures for their absolute devotion to their people.

I am late sharing with you today because I put In strenuous morning hosting my Bible study. I have a very shy Maltese. I expected her to hang out with my cats in the study. She spent hours quietly lying on my lap while I led the Bible study. She followed me into the kitchen to prepare them lunch and then quietly waited in the dining room for the meal. They kept commenting on how she just lay there so quiet for hours on my lap. She is the ultimate lap dog. She remained with me so she had the courage to remain with my guests. My dog trusts me implicitly.

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My dog trusts me to make the right decisions. All dog people wish they could be half as smart and brave as their dogs believe them to be. Shy baby will happily hop into her car seat and go anywhere with me.

 

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All her fear disappears in my presence.

I had a friend tell me that as a young teen she sometimes felt the need to get away from her parents in the evening after  a stressful “discussion.” She told me she would take the big dog for a walk since they didn’t like the idea of her going out alone after dark. The dog had a yard and did not need a walk but it gave her time to walk off the teen angst. She saw the dog as a sign of protection. What surprised me was what she told me next. She said that the dog was afraid! She said the big baby leaned as close to her leg as she could get for the whole walk. Sometimes she could even feel quivers of fear travel through the dog’s body and up her leg. The dog never hesitated to go on those dark walks. The dog would look into her eyes with complete trust and faith. My friend said she realized that she was the grownup on those walks and while she trusted the sight of the big dog for her safety she was really the protector. They trust us!

A beautiful picture of trust and the love between dogs and people.

A beautiful picture of trust and the love between dogs and people.

I was thinking about the Apostle Paul traveling with Silas in Philippi. They were thrown into prison without trial after healing a slave-girl and thereby depriving her master of money. I love Acts 16:25. Not the part of the story with the earthquake, not the part where all the prisoners all refused to escape, not even where  the jailor and his whole family came to believe in Jesus. My favorite part of the story is where Paul and Silas are sitting in prison at midnight after being beaten and locked up. It sounds like a wretched predicament. In that appalling situation Paul and Silas were, ” praying and singing hymns to God.” How could they do such a thing as sing? Lament or rage as a form of prayer makes sense, but singing hymns! Paul and Silas trusted God. They had no idea what would happen next but they believed that the One traveling through the dark night with them was trustworthy. God actually used this brief imprisonment to enable Paul and Silas to reach more people in Philippi. Paul had a very successful ministry to the Philippians and wrote them a wonderful letter about God’s love.

Do I trust God enough to face the dark places in life with Him by my side?  I know I will never be all that my dog thinks that I am. The wonderful blessing of life with dogs is that they can teach us so much about what we ought to be. God is even better and far more able than I imagine Him to be. I really can go anywhere with Him. I could learn a lot about trust from dogs.

How I Need a Poem Today

This post is part of the series 31 Days 2015 exploring a fresh look @ Simple Things.

Sometimes you just need a poem. Poetry encapsulates the human experience in a suscint manner. A poem will remind you of what it is to be human, unique and corporate simultaneously. Some days I really need the reminder.

How I  need a poem todayimage

For I am feeling very…grey,

And brown, black and even-blue

But, this day will be over very soon.

And tomorrow is a brand-new day image

With every promise of joy to stay.

So, I’ll not let the faded color

Of one dull day leave me sullen.

Poetry can grace a life

In both times of peace but, also strife.

Lack of courage shan’t be found here.

I’ll not be disgruntled or dragging drear.

For I am blessed most plentifully

So I will not lack jollity.

I find joy in my faith

Knowing I always live in grace.

Grace on glorious goldenrod, maples and hay.

Even on the dull-grey days

That fade each life some step of the way.

Oh, how I need a poem today!
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Simple Pleasure of Daily Tea

imageThis post is part of the 31 Days of a Fresh Look @ simple things. This simple beverage is as constant for me as water. It is truly “mother’s milk” as I was weaned on plain, black tea. As an infant I had serious digestive issues requiring periodically being removed from formula and given tea instead. I alway drank my tea un-doctored. I think this preference must come from my infant experiences. For me there is nothing more soothing than warm black tea.

Holding the cup and inhaling the aroma I begin to feel a warm balm flow over my spirits.

I drink my tea all the year through. I like iced tea but it is not a substitute for my daily desire for what I consider a simple pot of tea.

My last statement doesn’t contain a typographical error. I mean a pot of tea. image

I don’t remember when I outgrew a cup of tea, but somewhere in childhood as I grew so expanded my daily tea requirements.

The tea pot somewhat naturally led to multiple tea pots. Yes, I have a collection. I drink my ordinary daily tea from a variety of tea pots. They suit different quantities and different moods.

I chiefly drink black tea, although I occasionally drink green tea, and I have had white tea. White tea of good quality is very expensive. Tea can be quite expensive. It can also be very cheap. for me the critical factor is quality vs/ price. Purchased in quantity it also is easier to purchase a better quality. Since I do not use cream or sugar, lemon or honey I value taste and aroma most.

In my opinion even grey, soggy days deserve a quiet spot of tea. In fact, these are the days that most need one-half hour, a nice teapot, a purring cat and a good book. Naturally, more time is better, but even time for one Bible verse, devotion, or poem with your favorite variety of tea will alter the whole tenor of the day. imageAs C. S. Lewis famously said,  ” You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

Tea is graded by being sifted through increasingly finer screens. The cheapest tea, which you find in tea bags on supermarket shelves everywhere, is little more than dust. The finest teas are full leaves. The alteration in flavor is very surprising. Not all tea bags contain inferior tea, but many do. Tear open one of your tea bags on a kitchen towel and see what is inside.

Because the flavor is released while the dried leaves “steep” or soak in the hot water, they need to expand during this process. Never use a tiny tea ball to steep your tea. I love loose-leaf tea, but I have a large mesh cup-shaped strainer made to steep a pot of tea (several teaspoons full) of tea. The tea leaves then have ample room to expand and the flavor and aroma are greatly enhanced.

The many books which have been published on tea result from the astounding variety one plant can create. All tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas, also called tisanes are another matter. The history of tea is full of intrigue, espionage, wars, drugs, smuggling, greed and ingenuity. Tea can be complex and ceremonial, but for many of us, simple can be beautiful. The simple act of preparing and drinking your favorite tea can be a restorative part of everyday. It is part of the wonder of the world. God made a tree and people began to brew the dried leaves in water…

My favorite teas are Chinese black teas that are flavored. My current favorite (and I have no connection to the company and cannot always afford to keep it on hand) is a blended black loose-leaf tea from Harney & Sons called “Tower of London.” The aroma is incredible and the flavor delightful. It is rich without being harsh. The brew is dark amber an the taste is unexpectedly delicate. Do you drink tea? What is your favorite variety? Do you drink large quantities or only one small cup?
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As I hold the teacup I pause, inhale the aroma, and say a simple prayer thanking God for making simple joys for me to enjoy. As I slowly sip I let my daily Bible verse soak into my mind. Most of my tea I drink while eating or working, but one cup is for peace.

#write31days

 

Simple Beauty of Family

imageThe name family conjures up so many images, both good and bad. In the modern world it is one of the most emotionally loaded words we have. We could have long discourses on the causes and talk about the “decline of the family” all of which is a genuine concern. Right now, in keeping with our 31 Days theme, I would like to talk about how family is a sources of simple beauty and comfort.

What I want to explore briefly is how we all unconsciously desire family. In Genesis God told Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. In the first few chapters we watch the whole beautiful first family descend in murder and estrangement. The story of God’s love for people doesn’t end there!

No matter where you are in relation to your family the story doesn’t end until Jesus Christ comes agin in glory to make all things new and right.

The story will not be over until some time in the future. We are all in the story and cannot yet see what twists and turns the plot will take. We do know that it all comes right in the end.

Family is a powerful name.

Everyone needs to be part of a family. Family is supposed to demonstrate unconditional love. Self-sacrificing love is the love that God created the world with and that is the kind of love family is designed to teach. We all want to receive this love, but it can be hard to give. What if we all give our families some of this love today, without expecting anything in return? Also spend some time with those who show us this kind of love, if not our family,perhaps our friends, Church members, neighbors, etc.

After all, we don’t know where the plot will go yet. We only know that we all somehow live “happily ever after” with God.

This post is part of Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung and her marvelous group over there. It is also the second post in the series with 31 Days.  Check them out and see what others have to say using the links above or buttons below. God bless you for stopping by and join me in sharing a little grace today with those we call “family.”

imagehttps://pilgrimjourneythroughlife.com/