Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Different Path

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost

We all begin life on the entrance ramp, slowly gaining momentum and merging our lives with those of others traveling beside us. Sometimes we slow down, other times we stop for a break and often we are simply lost; confused by the direction we're traveling and searching for landmarks that will point us in a friendly, familiar direction.

We're given a map, but no specific directions. We make choices, wrong turns, have flats and overheat. We encounter impatience, harriedness, low-lying clouds and slick roads. And often we're completely stuck and at the mercy of a fellow traveler to help us get back on track.

On this journey I've found that following the person in front doesn't always take us down the right path. Exits are available: a new entrance to the scenic route which slows us down and allows us to see things we'd never have noticed otherwise. And what may have appeared as quite ordinary at speeds from a distance, is spectacular upon slower, close-up observation.

I'm glad I've taken the road less traveled. No one has to be the leader, and no one has to follow. This path is big enough for two, is better because its shared and has truly made all the difference.

The exit is just ahead. Consider the detour.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kansas!

"O Give Me a Home
Where the Buffalo Roam,
Where the Deer and the Antelope Play...

Where Seldom is Heard
A Discouraging Word,

And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day."

Today my beloved Kansas celebrates her 145th birthday. In 1861 she was the 34th state to take up residence in this great nation.

As a child, Kansas Day was celebrated by making booklets about our state's symbols: the Cottonwood, Meadowlark, Sunflower and Buffalo. My favorite was the Kansas flag: a navy blue background housing the state seal where a farmer plows his field, covered wagons blaze across green, prairie grasses and a beautiful sunset introduces 34 bright stars. A banner at the top reads, "Ad Astra Per Aspera" - To the Stars Through Difficulties. I would painstakingly color the intricate lines and shapes and feel proud that I came from the rural heritage of this land.

When my own children were small we would make sugar cookies shaped like Sunflowers and talk about the beginnings of the state we call home. January 29th is a date that is embedded in our minds like any other important birthday in our lives, and I suspect it will always stay that way.

"The Sunflower State", "Jayhawkers", "The Bread Basket of the World", "The Air Capital". We have many names and wear many hats, but our best and truest asset is our people. We are the scarecrow who learned to think, the tin man who found his heart among friends, the lion who gained courage along the way.... all wrapped up in ordinary folks who know what it means to reach for the stars through difficult times. And though Dorothy Gale was a fictional character who took an infamous trip to Oz, she certainly had it right when she said, "There's no place like home".

Friday, January 27, 2006


The year that I graduated from high school was a time of "ordinary". Make-up, clothing, hair styles...it was all simple, functional, to the point. For this "flashback Friday", inspired by Clew, I came across a couple of pictures from that year. My friend Terri and I spent a great deal of time together back in "the day". During a rare, grumpy moment in choir, she was trying to coax me out of my mood. But the norm was laughter and fun and being plainly, simply who we were...

An absence

It's been awhile since I've written, not because of lack for things to say, but due more to time constraints and simply not being able to articulate some of what I'm thinking and feeling.

Hopefully as the weekend unfolds I'll be able to settle my thoughts into something worth reading. In the meantime, I'm reposting one of my first writings from last summer. Though it's been a mild winter thus far, I always look forward to the green of spring and the blooming of the flowers. This post reminds me that the light of spring is coming....and that good things indeed come, to those who wait.

Sharing the morning

I went outside to water this morning, my son accompanied me. He helped me with the hose as we took it out to the new trees we planted this spring: a Weeping Willow for him...a Red and Silver Maple, Bradford Pear and Locust. I showed him how to take the new shoots off, allowing the tree to grow in height. We talked about the names of all our flowers: the Black-eyed Susan, Purple Sage, Petunias and Vinca, Marigolds, Salvia, Snapdragons, Rose of Sharon, Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Boxwood, Daylily, Mums, Dianthus.... and it struck me as so special. Here I am as a mother walking with my child talking flowers, just as I did as a little girl behind the heels of my own lovely mother.

My grandmother grew iris. They were her specialty. Inside a box of beautiful assortments I have medals and ribbons from the 1960's that bear her name. "Slater's Posy Patch"....a sign above her garden where she sold and shared and experimented with her flowers. I think about my grandmother, seen most often in a stooped position above her garden, still wearing a dress, her hair... perfection. She passed that love on to my mother who sowed seeds with love all during my growing years. Our home was an arboretum of beauty and solace and I really took it for granted until I began my own floral journey. Many precious thoughts of those years go through my mind on this morning as my son and I go out into the garden...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


"Would Grandma and Grandpa like me?" my daughter asked this evening as we were driving home from school.

"Of course they would," I replied, glancing over at her delicate profile in the seat next to me. "They would love you, especially Grandma. She would absolutely adore you and want to spend so much time together; you were the only little girl she ever had. And Grandpa...he would tease you and give you spending money and make you laugh."

My children's paternal grandparents passed away within a few years of each other, both succumbing to the awful disease called cancer. My daughter and son were 6 and 3 at the time........and the memories of their grandparents are beginning to fade.

After we lost Idolia, everything changed. My marriage broke, along with my heart, and our family unraveled into two separate households. My relationship with my father-in-law was never the same, and I mourned that loss long before he died. But when I look back, the memories of the days when the glass was half full far outweigh those when it was half empty.

They loved me, and they loved our children. Idolia was especially enchanted by their sweetness, charm and creativity. I would often look over and catch her watching them, delighting in their antics and with a smile that reached her eyes. Yes, they were loved. And if life had been different, that love would have grown into a complete absorption of the beautiful people they have both become.

My daughter questions their love because she no longer remembers. But I do. And through pictures and stories and reassurances of what-would've-been, I will do my best to make sure that she never forgets.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Choosing to love

Once upon a time, I dreamed of marrying a handsome prince who would whisk me away to a mythical castle and make all my dreams come true.

And then I grew up.

For most of us, that prince (or princess) doesn't exist. At least not in the way that we once imagined. Instead of Camelot we come face to face with a world that is not always so enchanting; a blemished Utopia. Marriage is not for the weak-willed, the noncommitted, the intolerant, disloyal or selfish. It is a work in progress, always changing, always challenging, always asking for intervention and action. It tests your heart, it shakes your roots, it blows against your sails, sometimes taking you into uncharted and unfamiliar waters. It asks for patience, consideration, faithfulness and dedication. And once given, they are sometimes stretched to the limit in a journey that tests them all.

Inside a photo booth this man (now my husband) and I sat, waiting for a flash to capture the mood. We should have displayed somberness, stress, worry and fear. I was awaiting medical tests and an uncertain future. But instead we seized the moment, grabbing joy and fun and living life as it is intended. And though sometimes it indeed, kicks you in the pants, you can counter the bruises with laughter, light-heartedness and the will to forge ahead, turbulence and all.

Perhaps our castle will never be built, and maybe our dreams haven't come true. But the prince who sticks by me through both the black and white and technicolor moments of life makes the wishing more fun and the magic, more real.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Trip back to "Home"

Tonight my children and I are headed back "home". We will return to a place where our heads once rested; a place where we were lovingly embraced by dear friends; where part of our heart still remains. We will share stories and laughter, coming together once again as family in a community where we spent a large part of our lives.

It is bittersweet going back. Seeing familiar faces and places brings back wonderful memories of joy and friendship. And though as the years go by it seems more natural to come back to our "new" home here in the country, there is always a touch of nostalgia sitting on our shoulders as we pull away from what we once held close.

Enjoy what you have. Enjoy who you have. Make memories, make moments, make magic. Then when the road turns and you chart a new course, your "homes" will be many...and your heart will be full.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sometimes it's like that

My son's basketball team had a game tonight....and they lost. He is usually always "up", whether they win or lose, with his steadfast grin and goofy persona. But not tonight.

I thought perhaps he was sick, or had taken a blow that I didn't see as I could tell he wasn't himself. But I found out later he felt the loss was his fault as many of his shots missed their mark.

Sometimes life is like that. We miss opportunities, our shots fall short, we don't pass, we let go of the ball. But tomorrow is a new start, a new day, a new game. We hold up our heads, we gather our strength, we begin anew.

Though I knew he still felt badly, I did see the smile again before he went to bed. We forgive, we adjust, we redirect, we move on. The dawn awaits. Her arms are open to a new opportunity....and another shot at it all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The photograph on the left is of my daughter when she was about 18 months old, the one on the right, of my son at that same age.

Though the physical resemblance was evident, they have grown and changed and turned into themselves; a young lady with long auburn hair and a tender heart, and a tall young man with a deep voice and perpetual grin.

If only time could stand still for a bit, so I can absorb it
all....and savor every moment.

After the snow comes......

Slippery, sliding, ooey, gooey, slimy, grubby, icky, sticky, yucky stuck-on MUD. I don't know how this picture ever came out looking so good since my car is encased in it. The one argument I have against country life......

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Snow Day

Tonight I watched as my son and his friends engaged in a good old-fashioned snowball fight after their basketball practice. One of the dads threw a couple himself before settling in his car, joining me in our own silent remembrance of a snow-filled youth.

Hands and cheeks turned red as laughter and snow filled the air, and the clouds from this morning dissipated into golden twilight. A friend of my son's came home with us to continue their play,
and our porch was filled with its wet aftermath. Soaked jeans and shoes
were traded for warmth and coziness as new games took place in the comfort of home.

There is something magical about snow. It's beauty and peacefulness captures me anew each time it encapsulates our world. Though the heavily coated branches had shed their snowy cloaks by late this evening, their wooded webs still seemed to frame and embrace its frozen land.

As dusk settled on my beloved prairie, and another day came to a gentle end, I looked across the vastness all around me and was thankful for a warm house, the laughter that fills my world each day and the place on this land - and in my heart - that I call home.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


On a quiet, out-of-the-way corner sits a quaint little cafe. The sidewalks are dotted with small tables covered in lovely white linen, and a single red rose awaits a menu for two. Fragrant flowers spill from second-story window boxes and cascade in hues of gold and pumpkin over ceramic pots. It is a beautiful autumn evening and twilight beckons as lamp posts begin to flicker, stretching long shadows across the cobblestone streets. My bicycle leans against the doorframe, the perfect accent for this cozy evening respite. A fluffy white puppy peers out the window, awaiting his master's return with great love and anticipation. The smell of warm bread and delicious, heavenly pastries seeps into every nook, and soft music floats around the corner in utter enchantment.

Someone once called me a "Hopeful Romantic"...and I guess I am. This painting, a gift from my husband, hangs in our living room. But that moment, on a street-side cafe, hangs in my heart. I am where I am supposed to be at this point in my life, but somewhere on a quiet, out-of-the-way corner, my future awaits.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


"Where are you going, my little one, little one
Little dirndl's and petticoats, where have they gone?
Turn around and she's tiny,
Turn around and she's grown,
Turn around and she's a woman
Going out on her own."

I knew it was coming. I realized at some point that this day would get here. It just came faster than I wanted; slipping up on me quietly when I wasn't looking.

My daughter is out on her first date.

He's a nice boy and no stranger. They have liked each other - on and off - for three years, and going to a small school they share hallways, classes and activities.

But it's still hard.

Curfews, expectations and respect were discussed and as they are reliable, responsible kids, I shouldn't worry.

But I do.

I said a silent prayer as they headed out the door and watched as they pulled out into dusk. You can bet I'll be waiting up anxiously until I see her home safely again.

The clock ticks a little slower tonight.
I'm on the Mother Watch.

A few weeks ago we awoke to a beautiful display of winter. In the middle of the night, Jack Frost had summoned the best and painted the trees in dazzling white and silver. Steel gray hovered low on the horizon while brilliant cobalt exploded high in the sky. It was a unique and stunning phenomenon unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Those images, though not completely captured here, are firmly imprinted within me and kept among the other beautiful moments in my life.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Prismatic Exhalations

I've had precious little time to write this week and truth be told, have had kinda a rotten day.

So instead of words, I thought I'd share one of the last sunsets of 2005, viewed from my back door.

"I have seen a Kansas sunset
like a vision in a dream,
When a halo was about me
and a glory on the stream
When the birds had ceased their music and the summer day was done
And prismatic exhalations came a drifting from the sun."

--Albert Bigelow Paine