November 17, 2012

Giving Thanks - November 17:: A surprise!


I must say, I don't often win things, but here's some fun. I was reading Beth Moore's blog a while ago and entered her autumn giveaway.

Then weeks later a sweet email came saying, "Hi Friend! I don't if you know this, but you won the 3rd prize in our giveaway..." I was so surprised and I'll be so happy when the box arrives and I can deck my Thanksgiving halls with the darling pillow, etc.

How about that?

I'm thankful for the unforeseen surprise!

How about you? How is all this gratitude effecting your life?



November 16, 2012

Giving Thanks - November 16:: Brita for Inspiration

In the next town there's a beautiful garden store -- Brita's Old Town Gardens.

It's the store that inspires me to go beyond and seek new plantings and to love a mish mash of colors and always add this and that. (As long as they get the right sun and the right kind of soil.)

I doubt that Brita, a beautiful tall woman with joy exuding as she strolls the garden looking for just what you need, would remember our first meeting. I do. We'd moved into our first home. I knew a bit about gardening, but knew I wanted to know more. And there I was with a flower bed right in front of my living room window. All shade. I was determined to have flowers.

Brita helped find to helitropes and bleeding hearts.

I went to visit her this morning with a couple of tasks. First we had to pick a rose for a climbing wall, then, part shade flowers for beds to live with rooty birches. But the most fun was when I mentioned the Potager garden.

I have a very eclectic garden on the way there now, roses and strawberries and lavender.  But I'm ready to dive in with sweet peas and lettuces and cabbage, and, and, and. Her eyes lit up as we gathered from her stock and toured the lanes of her store grabbing the thymes, and mint and pansies and chard. She heard my love for the white rose next to the lavender, but not just for the color, for the uses and fragrances. She's the gardening friend, but really, the shopkeeper with zest and knowledge for what the garden can be.

I'm enthused about the next steps.


The best inspiration in film is Meryl Streep's potager in It's Complicated. Mine isn't quite this big and won't have the perfect rows, oh, and I don't look like Meryl Streep, nor am I married to Alec Baldwin - but you can believe the colors and joy of the mixture will be there. I love, love, love the tomatoes working up the frameworks. Tomatoes will have to wait while Sweet Peas meander up in mean time.

So, here's my Thanksgiving today: to Brita whose sea blue eyes sparkle and whose ideas breathe breeze into my project. And for the stylist who designed Ms. Streep's garden. To Alec Baldwin for standing there. And for my own Dear Husband, who keeps saying, "I'm glad your doing just what you want there, Dear."

I'm inspired and so grateful for the ones who join in.



November 15, 2012

Giving thanks - November 15:: A Time To Remember

I'm so thankful for this book and it's telling of the Pilgrim's true story. I got to share parts of it with my daughter's advisement class twice in the last two weeks. (I'm thankful for that too.) Through the book I'm reminded that it's impossible to be grateful and resentful at the same time.

I'm choosing the grace of gratitude.


November 14, 2012

Giving thanks -- November 14:: The Keenager Luncheon


Another sweet outgrowth of my mom's broken arm and recovery is that I get to be the designated driver. As such I was invited yesterday to her senior group's Thanksgiving luncheon at church. It was fun and certainly yummy.  Chicken and ambrosia salad and a beautiful ice cream Napolean for dessert.

There was lots of good conversation and coffee and then the sharing of Thanksgiving thoughts. The group, mostly women, had converged to celebrate the holiday but also to say goodbye to one of our younger pastors. He feels called to leave our church and to plant a church in an area of the city where there is no vibrant church, in the less-than-vibrant part of town. So, he's leaving without much more than direction to go. No house, no building, just go.

There was lots of honoring and love and encouragement all around. And for me, an observation: I'm so grateful to be in the midst of people who can be pained by another's decision and still provide support and love and grace.

Oh yes, I am grateful.

November 13, 2012

Giving Thanks - November 13:: a best friend


I often say thank you to our friend and dog walker, Mary Ellen. (That's her dog, Scout, on the left and my guy on the right.) One day, while walking with Max, Mary Ellen wondered if he might be up for meeting her Scout. (We carefully joke that he's a miniature short-haired St. Bernard. More likely a pit and boxer mix, well-mixed with grace and calm.) She carefully worked out the idea of them meeting, the where, the when and executed her plan. An immediate friendship began and now, they qualify as best friends.

Max has the occasional overnight stay at Scout's when we travel. They walk a few days a week and when they've been separated for a weekend the initial returning greeting is loud and sweet. There are kisses and whines and bounding joy. Especially from the big dog. Scout is a bit more stoic in his nature.

When the walk is through, Mary Ellen always gives the dogs one of Max's treats. This is fine by Max, especially because Scout doesn't quite care for our treats. He takes his anyway and finds a place to leave it for Max -- near his bed or under our dining room table (Max's condo).

Scout had a rough patch a while back and needed surgery and recovery time. Max still walked, but his days were clearly missing something. You have to wonder if a dog's longing of the heart isn't much like ours. That insatiable yearning just to have the other near. There was a distinct quietness in our homecoming receptions each day during this time.

Then Scout returned. Max bobbed and danced with joy "telling" us about the reunion. My daughter thought he would have made a banner, if he had the thumbs. All of life fell happily back into place.

And this is where I'm reminded to be oh-so-grateful, for the friendship. The one between dog and man and also dog and dog. It reminds me of how we were created, for community, communion, and oneness with the other. Be it God, man or a poochy.

November 11, 2012

Giving Thanks, November 11:: Thank you for a bon bon



Those are shards of sea salt on the top of that bon bon.

Dark chocolate shell, dark chocolate truffle inside with a small stream of caramel and, the sea salt.

This lovely sweet came in the sweetest way.

My, now 85 year old mom was walking through the new grocery store in our neighborhood with me. We'd had lunch with the family and when my husband and daughter left to go home for Sunday naps, we continued to meander and chat.

She's been staying at our home, recovering from a broken arm and the surgery that followed. She's right handed, her right arm is broken and we're all repairing and recouping with her. It's been delightful. Serving and loving and being loved quite well in return.

So as we walked and looked she stopped me and said, "Hey, what do you think if we splurged and had a bon bon a piece from the fancy candy counter at the front of the store. My treat." I felt like I did when she let me go to the candy counter at Penney's when I was 9 to get Cinnamon Bears, only more delighted, because I'm not 9 and this is serious candy. I reached into my purse for something and heard, "Don't get your wallet out dear, I have money and this is my treat. Come on."

We did. I picked the morsel above and she opted for the darkest dark chocolate truffle I've seen. We brought them home and managed to wait to eat them until we'd had long Sunday afternoon lounging naps and two cups of Earl Grey tea had steeped to perfection.

Then, the two of us sat on the couch and savored. The flavors of then and now and the rich sense of love that flows when we're doing for one another.

Thank you. I think I'll treasure that bon bon for a very long time.

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Original text and images sole property of BirdandSeashells. If you wish to use something, please ask or quote me.