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Archive for February, 2009

Other Worlds

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This morning I am leaving for Chautauqua with my sister in law, Aniko. It is a complete turn around trip to pick up the maternity clothes my daughter Emily stored there in a hockey bag under the bed in the room that was hers and Alice’s during their childhood summers. We will drive there, have lunch, grab the hockey bag and stow it in the car and drive back to Ohio. And it was surprisingly badly planned that these things were stored there instead of being brought back to Ohio – and none of us thought of it at the time. But that’s another story.

What is on my mind are the blessings I have had in my life of “other worlds” to live in. I will finish this post when I return tonight, God willing.

Later – Actually the next morning. I am back from Chautauqua now. It was a lovely trip. Traveling with Aniko who has been my sister in law for 37 years was a pleasure. Somehow we haven’t spent much time together lately, so this was a great catch up. And the bag of clothes was so heavy and had to be carried over a little hill of icy snow blocking the house entry, that I was quite grateful for the help dragging it over and to the car. In between, Aniko took me out to Webb’s restaurant for a belated birthday lunch. I feel quite spoiled! And now Emily’s clothes are in Ohio, one step closer to being in Pennsylvania. She is coming for a visit on the 9th of March and can bring them home with her then.

This post turned out to be not at all about living in different worlds, but I think I will get to that one day next week! Sufficient unto the day.

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Home Sweet Home

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I tried to write this yesterday and had three images I wanted to put into the post, but alas, I am so untutored in how to manage such things that after several tries I gave up! And probably forgot most of what I wanted to say. But here are some of my rambling thoughts on Home-Sweet-Home…………I have two homes,  one in Ohio and one near Chautuaqua, New York. I’ve had one of them since 1980 and the other since 1981. I love them dearly and if I walk through them, I find them full of ghosts, even if most are the ghosts of people who are still alive. So many memories.

If I had to chose a time I would call “the glory years” it would probably be from 1984 to 1992. In ’84 and ’92 we spent most of the year on a sabbatical in Budapest, Hungary – Paul and I and our three children who attended local schools and worked on their Hungarian and connections to their Euopean relatives. In between, our children were growing “in wisdom and grace before the Lord”; with all my heart I was enjoying being a mother, gardener, herbalist and garden writer and Paul was moving on professionally: loving his teaching and research and carpentry work at the cottage, and becoming a full professor of computer science in ’87.

It is certainly not the case that no bad things happened during those years. They did. My father died after a difficult illness, one brother became estranged from the family, a beloved aunt, a nephew, a sister in law and my sweet, wonderful Nana all passed on. But Paul and I were so embedded in the joys of our lives, in the growth, in the excitement of being on the uphill slope, that that defined our experience those years. We wouldn’t have had time to see ghosts even if any had been there.

In one way I think we never lose the effect of the good things, the blessings,  in our lives. But it is also true that walking through my two houses brings sharp bittersweet memories of what is no more. I am still trying to figure this out, to understand, to process the information, still trying to plan for the future and not feel overwhelmed. My son  lives at home, but will probably move out within a year or so. At least that is the plan. I have a little dog Bo, a little black poodle, who is alive and lively in my world. I am lucky one daughter and her family live very near, and my other daughter and family are only a few hours away. And a lot of extended family is also very close. But there is something in my mind I still have to deal with.

The phrase “whence all but he had fled” comes to my mind. In my case, “she”.  Paul and I both had the highest ideals about the loving family we wanted to create together and I think we did this. But that time is over. The children are grown. (Although the loving family is still here in a way, just at more of a distance.) And Paul has moved on to some other unknown world. He no longer walks or speaks to me in this one.

I think as I become more involved in the world, do more volunteering, make more friends, I will work through this emotion, this sense of the loss of home.  I certainly hope so.

I really believe, in my mind, that home, as much as our nest building instincts kick in to enhance the physical space we inhabit,  HOME is a matter of the spirit, of the heart, of the mind and emotions. Home is where we feel safe and loved. It can be in the arms of our beloved. It can rest in the mind of God, in our realization that while we exist we exist in Him, the ground of our being. And he in us…Realizing this I feel free. Realizing this I am at peace.  I will never be homeless. Part of me has taken this in. I am working on the rest. This has nothing to do with the institutional church with which I have so many issues. But everything to do with that fact of existence and its implications.

That sounds a little too pretentious. But I think it is authentic. I am upheld. I am safe. Nothing I can do can change this while I live. And after, what does it matter?

I might be embarassed to write this if I thought anyone read it. But I doubt anyone does.

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Memories of Munich

blaues-pferd-franz-marcOne of the times I visited Emily in Munich we went to Lembach Haus and saw wonderful paintings from the Blaue Reiter School……..This is my favorite, this one by Franz Marc, I think, regardless of how well known and often reproduced it is……..I have been so lucky to travel and see even a small part of the world, and this began because of my generous husband Paul who was born in Germany and lived his first eleven years in Hungary and  wanted to share his world with me.

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While it's still February.............

While it's still February.............

I’m posting this paper cut valentine while it’s still the proper month for it……I didn’t make this valentine myself and don’t know where I found the image………Years ago in the late eighties, my friend Penny and I were very interested in Scherenschnitte. I still am. Over my bed hangs a framed paper cut of a Pennsylvania Dutch House and couple with vines surrounding it. It was a gift for Paul in the early 90s, I think. I know I made it before ’94 when Sophia, a relative from Germany, spent six months with us. She copied it for a gift for her parents. I don’t do such crafts that often, but I really enjoy it when I do and feel as though everyone should have some sort of art in his or her life. For some it might be the art of appreciation, one we all need, the art of seeing what is around us and experiencing the joy that comes with it. Over my desk downstairs I have many pictures, but in the center is a painting of a church in a scene of winter snow. My grandmother painted it on a piece of newsprint in the 1940s. It has a naive quality and I love it dearly. She and my mother painted furniture, sometimes, with Pennsylvania Dutch designs. I have some of these things at the cottage at Chautauqua and when the front of our old dishwasher was beginning to look rusty, I painted it black and adorned it with the same hearts and flowers my mother had painted on a coal scuttle in 1945. These things are very simple and inexpensive to accomplish, but they make me feel rich and satisfied. One good thing which I expect will come out of our current economic crisis is that people will make their own homemade happiness. They will practice crafts, talk to one another more, play games together for fun…………..I think it will happen, not all at once, perhaps, but slowly it will.

The chest here is from the schifferl.net website and I believe it was painted by someone in their family. Actually, I think it is an example of kitchen cabinets they make………..

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It’s only money!

  • What joy!

    What joy!

  • Our happiness doesn’t come from money, but from love, from our loving connection to our world. This morning I had a disturbing experience. Checking my Fidelity account it seemed as though my life savings had vanished, or 95 per cent of it. I told myself, “It’s only money” and did a few minutes of breathing meditation on loving kindness, and then began to call Fidelity and Jim, my finance guy . No identity thief had made off with it, but too much had been transferred to Fort Deerborn Life Insurance for an Annuity that was being purchased. Steps have been taken to reverse some of this. It is all within the IRA structure so no taxes or fees are involved………But I am glad to have been able to deal with  this without too much panic. Obviously we need the basics of shelter and food and water, but the important things in life ARE NOT THINGS. They are people, the people we love and the goal of life is to extend the group of people we love until it reaches out and embraces every living being on earth. This is being like Christ.  This is following so closely that you are covered in the dust of your rabbi –  an idea I heard about last Saturday at a workshop on community building at Holy Martyrs, my parish church.

 

  • This also made me think of Pema Chodron’s story (from Shantideva, I think) about the man who walked out on a stony rough road and wanted to stop the harsh surface from cutting and bruising his feet. He thought that he could cover the earth with soft leather or he could make shoes. The story is a metaphor for the idea that we can try to make life on earth a place where nothing ever goes wrong or causes us to suffer, or we can learn to work with out minds so that when the inevitable suffering happens we already have a way to  deal with it. Stopping to breath mindfully and connect to the present moment and the ground of being is a wonderful way to not panic, not suffer from the difficulties of the present….It doesn’t mean that you deny their existence, just that you see so clearly that you know the impermanence of life and the loving kindness with which you should embrace it.

 

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quilt-for-aliceI’m still trying to figure out how to get the pictures I want into this blog! Just looking through the pictures on my computer can be a joy or danger depending on how one looks at it! I can lose myself all too easily in remembrance of things past. But if I don’t get too carried away, I think it is positive. This is a quilt I made, with help from family and friends, for Alice’s 21st birthday. A quilt for Emily is underway. Nearly all the blocks are here = after five years! But a snag I ran into when assembling it brought me near a standstill. A kind offer from my nephew’s wife Amy has revived hope that it will be finished and acceptable! I hope this can be done within the next six months. Emily second child is due in early July!  In the corner of this is Lulu the Lamb looking on. I bought Lulu for my grandson before he was born, more than four years ago. These are good memories. Also, I’m remembering the quilting bees we had for Alice’s quilt. It hangs in Nathan’s playroom nowadays. I’m a lucky Nana!

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In the last year or so I have come to include a sort of Buddhist meditation practice every day and it is a wonderful blessing. I connect to my own existence. You might wonder how it is possible to NOT be connected to ones own existence, but it is something that can be ignored as we race around in our sort of craziness of everyday life. To breath, to follow the breath, to wake up, is such a joy. I am calmer. And when I am not calm, I have the remedy in my own mind and my own lungs. How great is that!

This morning I attended a three hour workshop on building community within our parish church and its various ministries. It was good, but I think it could have been better. We need to get to know one another better. To exchange life stories almost. To work together. To have discussion groups…….But however better it might be, it was excellent as it was. I like these people and am glad to be connected to them.

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