Thursday, June 26, 2014

If...

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant...

 
...if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
 prosperity would not be so welcome.
~~Anne Bradstreet [Meditations Divine and Moral]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Doing Nothing


Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,
 of just going along,
listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.
~~Pooh's Little Instruction Book
 
 
From my book shelves, I've rediscovered another little instruction book:
The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne with photographs by Erica Lennard.
It's a Clarkson Potter publication from 1998.
I'm taking it to the doctor's office and plan to read chapter 10: the art of waiting.
 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Duck, Duck: View from the Balcony

They're busy in the cattails...
tending babies and assuring our entertainment for the summer.


 
Three little chicks survived the cold snaps while Landon celebrated his fourth birthday. Soon he'll be tossing bread pieces to them from our balcony.

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blue Skies over Bishop's Drive

 We're back in our summer condo amidst nesting birds and ducks on the pond.
It seems that the Mallards have multiplied...their kids are having kids
 and they're loving life among the cattails.
 

Shocking, though, are the temperatures.
Last night: 36. Today, although it is sunny it's 48 degrees Farenheit.
We're promised 71 degrees for Saturday~~perfect for watching Hunter's
baseball games and attending Landon's backyard birthday party.
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Last Look...

I walked down Venice Avenue to Venice Beach for one last time this season and happened upon Erin and her beach-yoga-loving lovers. They were rising from the last instruction as a boat passed by.
  
I heard Erin say this was the last session of the winter season
 and that the summer schedule would be posted soon under the cabana.
 
Nameste.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

White Birds of Paradise

Three Giant Birds of Paradise with bluish-purple tongues
 and white plumage (sepals) grace our backyard jungle today.

 
Strelitzia Nicolai are among the rare plants that contain the Bilirubin pigment,
 usually found in animals.
These enchanting flowers are followed by triangular seed capsules.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Singing Easter Joys

 
We're spending happy hours in the choir loft this Holy Week, rehearsing and singing our way from Maundy Thursday through Saturday night's Easter Vigil. Sunday's plan is to raise the roof with glorious choral Alleluias accompanied by bells, a brass ensemble with tympani and pipe organ.
Music passed down through the centuries.
 
Below: An illuminated song from the 15th century studio of
Domenico Ghirlandio.
 
 
Image: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Last Light...

 ...the redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black.
~~Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

 
When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.
~~George R. R. Martin


 
There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand.
~~Charles Morgan

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Unfolding...

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead."
~~A.A. Milne When We Were Very Young
 
 
It is spring again.
The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.
~~Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sisters of Perpetual Charity

I call them my sisters of perpetual charity~~generous souls who, year after year, thrill to the joys of comforting the lost and lonely with fabric works of their hands. I'm the happy beneficiary of their fun and friendly partnerships, a blessed release from what could be empty hours of retirement.
 
 Little sundresses, in small, medium, and large, have pockets for "treasures."
 Last year, our Sarasota Modern Quilting Guild sent 275 "Little Dresses" to Africa.

This year, the guild's charity project is making crib quilts from fabric scraps. We're currently stitching diagonal half-squares to share and swap at our next meeting~~the swap will give the quilts better color coordination. I'm planning a pink and yellow quilt top for the sew-in following the swap of squares. We'll sew and chat, learn new tricks of the trade, and pass out sewing tips of our own.


I spend Monday mornings from October-April with another group~~forty-five members of the Dorcas Quilt Mission. From fabrics and sheets donated by members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, we cut, assemble, stitch and tie 60 x 80-inch quilts. Lutheran World Relief's global outreach ships our quilts to displaced refugees in war-torn regions. We make 850 quilts each year, rolling them tightly into large shipping cartons for transfer. These quilts serve as body wraps, blankets, carpets on tent floors, tent walls, shades from the sun, and sometimes a shroud.
 
 
For all I gain from belonging to these fun-and-friendly groups,
 a gift of my time is all it costs.
A splendid pleasure in itself. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday Kyrie

Keep me, above all things, from sin.
 
Keep me from loving money in which is hatred,
From avarice and ambition that suffocate my life.
 
Keep me from the deadly works of vanity
and the thankless labor for pride and money and reputation.
~~Thomas Merton
 
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's National Pancake Day!

Who knew?! Maybe IHop started it.
Or maybe it's an adaptation of England's Shrove Tuesday,
the day before Ash Wednesday when pancakes are eaten.

In Venezia, they call this day Mardi Gras, the last day of Carnevale.

We visited Venezia in 2009.


It' Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, Key West and other convivial towns~~
the last chance to indulge in fats and sweets before Lent begins.

We live in Venice, Florida, named after Venezia.
 We fancy ourselves somewhat Venetian with canals and waterways, boat parades,
 Italianate architecture and a local newspaper called The Gondolier.


 Few of us wear these masks (mine hang on a hook by the door)
 but it's a fun decorative celebration of feathers and sequins.

There will be a pancake supper at church tonight ~~
we'll wear our beads :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

St. Paddy Cake

March madness is nearly here~~Convivio Bookworks will soon turn the page of their Book of Days to list St. David's Day, Mardi Gras, the start of Daylight Saving Time, Mothering Sunday, the Ides of march, St. Patrick's Day, and the Vernal Equinox. Here in Florida, we're sleeping with windows wide open while dreaming of taking grandsons to spring training games.

Roughly mashed Yukon Gold potatoes blended with sauteed brussel sprout slices and green onions.
Meanwhile, I'm getting a jump on St. Patrick's Day 
by cooking vegetable side dishes from an Irish recipe book.

What does "March Madness" look like in your neck of the woods?
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

To Yaya with Love from Paradise

Picture postcards from the southern edge~~
Hope these beach snaps
 cheer your snowstorm blues, Kathy.
(You said you count on me for remembering warmer days.)

Escapees from the north arrive daily.
 "I wish we could stay a few more days..."

Just four weeks 'til spring.
Hang in there,
Becky

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sharky's Got Fins

A new dining venue has sprung from the sandy beach at Sharky's on the Pier. It's called Fins' and Brother Virg treated our party of four to dinner there last Saturday night. My part was to secure a reservation, good beach weather for dining on Fins' deck, and a beautiful sunset.
 
I managed the reservation but not the weather.
Shades were drawn on the deck, heat piped in, and a cloudy sky hid the sun from view.
However, on the good side, the food was divine!
 
I couldn't photograph the occasion.
Instead, I returned later to photograph the gleaming architecture
without interrupting the interior or deck filled with guests.
 
The date Fins' opened becomes a yard ornament on a fin-shaped sign.

Sharks swim down the two-story fall of water at the entry.
Such a lovely mix of materials used in this flood and hurricane-proof construction.



Fins' is built on stilts so a staircase is the way to heaven.
Yes, there's an elevator, too.


 
Sorry about the repeat of this picture.
I have a new laptop with Windows 8 and am still trying to figure out
how everything works.
 
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Friday, January 31, 2014

Raindrops on Roses



It's the last day of January and the third day of slow, soothing rain. We are the lucky recipients of longed-for moisture brought on by the Canadian clippers harassing the Midwest, southern belt, and the northeast coast. The water table is rising and palm trees are singing.
Have a lovely weekend, stay warm. Make soup.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Finding Balance

 
A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance
to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.
~~William Arthur Ward
Clowning around: A balancing act in front of Les Chefs de France bistro at Epcot (Disney World).
Happiness is not a matter of intensity
but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
~~Thomas Merton
 
A third kind of balancing act from my #1 mentor:
 
What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter~~a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides
relaxation from physical fatigue.
~~Henri Matisse
 
 
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Useful or Beautiful

It's a little early for spring cleaning but I'm clearly in the mode~~
the house and garden are calling for a re-do.
 We've spent a month entertaining wonderful northern guests
 while clutter gathered and everyday tasks were left ignored~~
 we were having too much fun to do anything but cook, wash dishes, or do laundry.

We did lots of take-out during the holidays.
  
Simplify
My word for 2014~~
as if that isn't always my word!
 
I'm busy simplifying:
Stashing holiday décor.
Picking up lemons under the lemon tree.
Pulling dead fronds from the palms.
Watering plants.
Recycling paper, metal, and plastics.
Vacuuming neighbors' leaves from our lawn.
Re-working the linen closet.
Whittling refrigerator contents.
Mailing found items back to departed guests.
Shredding documents.
Delivering donations to the church pantry, used clothing, and shoe drop box.
Rounding up items for a garage sale.
Paring down.
 Keeping this advice in mind:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
~~William Morris
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pure Oxygen


Just returned from the happiest place on earth where our son ran the Dopey Challenge for JDRF~~juvenile diabetes 1 research. 48.6 miles. He did it with grace and ease!
Afterward, I took a monorail side-trip to the Polynesian Resort
where I could breathe in the fresh air that plants produce in the lobby.
 Wish I could send you a whiff!
 
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Countdown, Day 19: Stars & Skies

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
image: free-picture.net
Christmas in Bethlehem.
The ancient dream: a cold, clear night
made brilliant by a glorious star,
the smell of incense,
shepherds and wise men falling to their knees
in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.
~~Lucinda Franks


The heavens declare the glory of God,
 and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
~~Psalm 19:1

  I wish you a blessed holiday season.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Countdown, Day 18: Grumpy Cat & Christmas Tree


Grumpy Cat didn't like a palm tree standing in for a Christmas tree this year
 so I bought him a traditional one...a live pine in a pot.


It came with decorations already hung on it :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Countdown, Day 17: Asparagus & Gruyere

These monastery-style canapes (Brother Victor-Antoine's recipe)
are a perennial favorite at our house whenever appetizers are needed.
Hunter and I make them every Christmas Eve.
Pure joy in the making~~simple, easy, quick.


Parsley-buttered multi-grain artisan-bread slices
topped with tenderly cooked asparagus spears and grated Gruyere.
We lay them on a buttered cookie sheet
and heat them in a 250-degree oven until the cheese bubbles.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Countdown, Day 15: Scrolls & Love Notes

Mr. J. always writes trivia games for Christmas Eve..
 After we return from candlelight services,
 everyone plays them while I get dinner on the table.
It's a rowdy time of laughter and competition for prizes..

This year, there's a nuance~~I have a game too: 
Each person who will sit at the table will be given strips of paper,
 one for every other guest.
On the slips of paper, they'll write something they like
about the person whose name is on the paper.
I'll round up the slips and roll them into parchment scrolls to place on each person's plate.
I'm hoping for heartfelt party favors and gifts of appreciation.


We'll see how it all turns out :)

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Countdown, Day 13: Saffron & Light

It's the Feast Day of Santa Lucia,
a Nordic festival of saffron and light.

photo: wikipedia
In at-home celebrations, the eldest daughter of the family rises in
the very early morning dark to bake saffron buns. 
Then, wearing a white dress with a red sash,
she brings breakfast trays of coffee, fresh-baked buns and candle lights
 to family members still asleep in their beds.

 I'll think of St. Lucy this morning as I take my early morning walk in the dark.
My LED hat will light the way to St. Arbuck's where I'll exchange an empty coffee bag
for a free cup of joe. Steel-cut oatmeal with a side of nuts and brown sugar 
will substitute for Lucy's saffron buns.

Happy St. Lucy's Day, wherever you are.
She's hope and light in the darkness :)

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Countdown, Day 12: Pewter & Parchment


Guests will soon arrive so I've assembled bits and pieces to create a table runner.
Perhaps I've gone a little mad but it's an enjoyable activity.



Planning, they say, is the best part...it opens the dreams of anticipating
what could, should, or might happen at the table.
 More than likely, though, I'll need to simplify all this as meals unfold...it's OK.


Meanwhile, I can play~~experimenting with this and that pretty tabletop thing :)


Eating and hospitality in general, is a communion,
and any meal worth attending by yourself
is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.
~~Jesse Browner

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