Animals lambs grass

Art stones in a river




Mysteries, Yes
by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.


Art bowed heads


A Week Ago Today

A week ago today I was still enjoying the luxury of 80degree weather and sunny skies. It was the last day of my week on Siesta Key on the Gulf Coast of Florida and the day I drove to Fort Myers Airport, turned in my rental car, and flew back to Ohio.

All was not totally smooth. I managed to leave my Ohio key chain (which I didn’t really need to have taken with me) attached to the rental key. Last Monday, after many phone trees and investigations, I talked with the woman who runs the lost and found there and she said she had my keys, had packed them up and printed the label and that FedEx would pick them up on Tuesday. I still do not have them. One lives in hope. And it was my own fault. I was quite nervous by the time I got to Fort Myers. I hope that is not a mistake I shall make again.

And yesterday we had the most glorious snowfall of the winter. It was almost alarming in the morning. The snow was so wet and heavy it made every branch and limb appear to be closing in on me! But gloriously. My grandson Stephen made a snowman whom he named Fred. Today, when the snow is melting away, slowly, he brought his snowman to the house so he could “save it”.

Stephen apr 2017 trying to save his snowman

And the remains of Fred the snowman:

Stephen apr 2017 the remains of snowman Fred

As Alice said, “R.I.P., Fred”.

But perhaps you would like to see a few photos of the week in Sarasota? It was so busy! I didn’t always have my camera with me, either…Boo……However, a lot was packed into one week. We visited one of my favorite places anywhere, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, Rosebud’s, in Osprey. (Ingmar and I had the wonderful crispy duck.) We had lunch at Snook Haven in Venice, and listened to a local group of banjo players, and saw the amazing Rookery, a small island in a large pond behind the Municipal Building (also in Venice) where all manner of exotic birds nest peaceably together. Emily and her family saw the wonders of the Mote Aquarium on Wednesday and I visited my friend Nancy and saw a fun exhibit at the Venice Art Museum where members  were showing paintings based on the theme of homage to famous artists.

Usually I have stayed at least two weeks, and usually a month, but we packed a lot into a week, this time.


Our house had a heated pool which the girls adored and used often more than once a day.


Em and Ingmar enjoying a restful moment at the Selby Gardens.


Lunch at Snook Haven, beside the Myakka River. Alas, we were not able to get reservations for the boat ride. But fun, anyway! The State has taken this “Old Florida” place over as a park to preserve it. It has a very different feeling from any place else I’ve been….


You can order alligator if you want to, but none of us did this time.


Scenes from The Rookery.


After the incredible snow yesterday, tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s. I welcome it. The garden is becoming exciting. A crab apple tree I thought had died last year is full of buds. I have no idea what happened last summer, but it seems not to have been lethal.

Stephen apr 2017 sleeping with pepper

Welcome, Pepper!

Remember when I posted that my grandsons were getting a puppy for a Christmas present? When their Dad, Mike, was volunteering in North Carolina, running a shelter for people who were homeless because of the flooding there, he came to the decision that his sons should have a dog. They found a breeder from whom a friend had bought a Golden Doodle, and made arrangements to buy one of her pups when they were ready to come to a new home. And today was the day.


Actually their new dog is not perfectly a Golden Doodle. I think one of her grandparents is partially something else. I’ll have to  ask Alice to be sure. The boys agreed on the name Pepper.

Alice mar 2017 pepper with Nathan

They don’t think she will be one of the larger Doodles, and hope no one will be very allergic to her. But isn’t she adorable now!

Nathan mar 2017 taking pepper walking with stevie

Two happy boys took Pepper for a short walk today….


It has not been a wonderful month for posting…….This is not because nothing has been happening, but, somehow, the spirit was…….sleepy?   Perhaps this will change.

Ingmar mar 2017 selling pretzels at german fest

There was a festival at the German School and Ingmar was selling his pretzels, but that is not all he did….

Ingmar mar 2017 german fest

There was some interesting dancing….But the most fun was the men’s group who did a skit in which Ingmar played Carmen Miranda, in costume……

Ingmar feb 2017 ingmar as carmen miranda

Sofia mar 2017 performing Kasper theater for the little kids.

Sofia did a German version of a Punch and Judy show for the younger kids.

Clara Mar 2017 Cleopatra

Clara did a school presentation about Cleopatra and sewed the costume you see here. She did have some help from her Papa, but she did a lot of it herself.



Clara mar 2017 with lea

Emily and her family drove to New Jersey for a weekend visit with her cousin Miki and his family. There was sledding. It is Clara and her cousin Lea you see above…. And Sofia and her Mom had a sleepover at the McKinley Museum in Canton.

Sofia mar 2017 at mckinley museum sleepover

sofia mar 2017 mckinley 4

Emily and her family are getting quite excited about their new house. They will be moving later in April. This Saturday they are driving to Florida for a week of vacation on Siesta Key in Sarasota. I’ll be flying to join them and am looking forward to sunny days by the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, as Emily was going through things to pack for the move, she had too much fun looking at old photos. The one below is of my three children about the time Andy was less than two. It does feel long ago! But a happy memory.


Em mar 2017 found old photo of the three of them.........

My grandsons have been busy, too, with swimming lessons and boy scout activities. But I could not find any pictures of them. And Nathan had to make a map of India out of unconventional materials and he stunned us all by weaving it out of bacon. It was not at all a bad job.I will leave it to your imagination.

Do you remember my post from last August when five good D.E. Stevenson friends came to stay with me at Chautauqua for a week?  You can see a picture of us here:


Perry is the second from the right…Two days ago I was astonished to get a package from her with an amazing handmade hostess gift from her and also from Susan D., Karen K., Betty K. and Linda J. Perry had told us about the crossword puzzle needlework pillows she makes for people who are hosting her Smith College class reunions. I never dreamed I would get one from her that everyone had chipped in on, but I did! She emailed my dd Alice for family names and places we had lived and it is a magnificent gift and I love it!


I cannot begin to imagine the amount of work here! Perry is very talented at such things. I posted a small patchwork we made for Anne S. after Karen, Perry and I stayed with her at her home in England. Perry’s embroidery was light years better than anyone else’s work. This is all petite point, oh, my…..

What else is making me happy? Well, this evening Emily, Sofia, Clara, Alice and Stephen are coming for dinner and games afterward. We will not play our usual card games but will do a Lotto and a color Go Fish game both of which Stephen can do well and enjoys.

Alice told me two things that made both of us happy. She is volunteering at a school where most of the children are refugees (mostly from Burma) and almost all the children qualify for the free lunch program. She also volunteers at Hillcrest where all my children went to elementary school and all my grandchildren have, too…At the refugee school there are no parent volunteers. I am sure most all the parents need to work. At Hillcrest there are sixty volunteers for the library alone and a position called Parent Volunteer coordinator. Alice just discovered that there is a point system for the children. They can get points for good behavior, good listening, helping others, etc. There is a little store in the library. For 5 points one can get a bracelet. For 20 points one can get to help the janitor. The reason this  made us smile is that when my husband was a refugee and a seventh grade student at St. Malachi’s Urban School, the teachers often let him help Frank, the janitor. Frank helped Paul learn English and use tools and run the audiovisual equipment. Paul loved Frank and felt really important when he could bring the equipment into a classroom and run it. The janitor at Forest Hill is also Burmese, and I think he will also make the children happy and teach them useful things.

A friend of our family volunteered to help at the International Institute where I once, surprisingly, taught Hungarian for two years to two hospice workers. One of them wanted to get a Fulbright to go to the medical school in Pecs, Hungary and teach about American hospice work and so he did. When our friend went to orientation she was told they usually had only three or four volunteers at the most but this evening they had to move to a larger room and it was packed with people who wanted to help refugees. My dd Emily says that one good thing that has come out of all the sad Trump fiasco is that inactive good people are now becoming active good people.

And the last, and most important thing, making me happy is that Emily and Ingmar after years of looking have found a house in our township and school district and are in the process of buying it. A tentative date to move in is April 21st. May all go well. The house is on more than three acres which back onto the National Park and it’s on a cul de sac, too. And next to the home of Verna, an amazing gardener who volunteers “everywhere” and has for years and told Ingmar about the house before it went on the market. There is a pond there and a small barn (not a shed, a small barn). Now please pray that they can finally sell their Maryland house. It has not been on the market for a while, but this should be a good time…..


I almost posted something on Valentine’s Day. But it was only an almost…….

Andy had a chance to get free roses from his work and brought a dozen red roses to me,  another to Alice, and also to Emily. Very nice!


Just now, I am home alone. Actually, Andy is only at work, so I cannot claim that he “has fled”. But Emily and her family are at Chautauqua so they can ski over President’s Day weekend, and Alice and her family are away on a two day holiday at Castaway Bay, the water park in western Ohio owned by Cedar Point. I was there a bit over a year ago and posted about it here:   https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/busy-busy-busy/

But just now I am having a quiet weekend at home, reading, watching my new favorite Acorn TV series Lord and Master, an amusing Dutch mystery series with English subtitles, and “putzing” about. I think I will make some more soup.

Emily posted some photos of Sofia and Clara at Holiday Valley.



Emily and the girls drove up yesterday so they could begin skiing today but Ingmar couldn’t go until after the Farmer’s Market this morning when he sells his famous pretzels and other treats. However, he is safely there now. Our neighbor Meredith posted a photo of Ingmar and their dog Jack on our porch.


It looks as though I’ll be going on a week vacation in Florida at the end of March. We won’t be staying in Venice this time, but on Siesta Key at the south end of Sarasota. That’s closer to some of the things we enjoy doing like visiting the Mote Aquarium, the wonderful Marie Shelby Botanical Garden and the fun Sarasota Jungle Gardens. And one day I will certainly drive down to Venice to visit my friend Nancy. We met in 1980 when our children were in pre-school together. Really? Can it be 37 years already?  We were also  Girl Scout leaders together. Nancy was just telling me about the really bad red tide in Venice just now. She said if you go outside it affects your breathing and makes you feel unwell. Still, she attends morning yoga on the beach, but says everyone is coughing all the time.

Meanwhile, in other news, my daughter Alice won second place in the Boy Scout chili cook-off competition at the meeting where Nathan became a tenderfoot.