With Joy

We dug out the sod (well, ok Greg got that strenuous job), replaced clay with black dirt, and planted flowers.  Our two granddaughters helped poke around and plant and cover roots with dirt.  Then we all watered a brand new flower and herb garden. Beautiful!  And the garden was also.

My four-year-old grandson was visiting, and wanted me to play chess with him.  He apparently had not played this game before, but since it is perpetually set up to play in the living room, it seemed a likely “yes”.    I began to explain the medieval social structure of village and town, roles and class distinctions along with the players (pieces). You know – Pawns=serfs, Rooks = manor houses, Knight = knights (but we call them horses in the game because they look like horses) , Bishop = well….bishop I guess, and everyone knows what a King and Queen are.   After being interrupted in this important preliminary a few times, we began to move pieces around the board, toast crumbs notwithstanding.  We got a few serfs…..I mean, pawns, moved forward and then got distracted with something else.  Because I am able to actually (after spitting my gum out) discuss things *and* move game pieces, we got pretty well along for a four-year-old.  The point wasn’t really to finish anyway.  He moved on to play with Lego’s and I went to hold his baby brother (who was smiling).  Precious moments with precious little people.

My second daughter is home for a two-week  break.  As a nurse, she gets all different shifts and has enjoyed her much more regular sleep schedule on her break here.  We have also enjoyed helping her plan her wedding, find a church building, and shop for fabric. These things all bring joy to our hearts and lives.  This joy, hopefully, overflows back to the bringer of it.

Try not to over-spiritualize the concept of joy.  Joy isn’t just being content, even when you’re sad (though that is a thing to learn, it isn’t joy at all).  I have heard some discuss our “duty to have Joy in our lives”, as if it were a wearious and heavy task.

The Bible talks about a very earthy kind of joy: Like when you anticipate a certain guest to your home, or when the party is just beginning and you are ready for it.  It’s a spontaneous cartwheel off the dock into the water, or planting flowers, Imparting chess history, or playing and working with children and grandchildren.

So take someone out for ice cream.  Laugh with them. Play a game. Write a poem or tell a funny story.  Have a water “fight”.  Learn to use a Kayak.  Run with the dog.  Pick tomatoes.  Bring flowers into the house.

Help others shake off the heaviness of the everyday; Laugh through the tears, and cheer someone up.         A Merry Heart is a gift from God, and is good for the soul.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

The Polite Elephant

Many people around this area know about the Polite Elephant.  They certainly know what he would, and wouldn’t do.  He is so polite and correct that you can count on him to help you know how to be likeable.  Being likeable isn’t the goal of polite behavior, but it certainly helps us all to be more likeable if we aren’t showing chewed food to others and burping, putting ourselves first and not looking folks in the eye to greet them.  (Etc….!)  So – I realized something this past Sunday.  There is an ABRIDGED VERSION of the Polite Elephant.  I have never been totally in favor of abridged versions in literature, and while you may argue that it could hardly matter in this case, I beg to differ.  And here’s why: In the original version, the Polite Elephant has a dinner scene where he asks politely for things to be passed, and says thank you, and (if you read between the lines and I always do) chews quietly with his mouth closed.  The abridged version has no such dinner scene.  It skips directly to picking up a toy for a mother of a small child because of course the Polite Elephant tries to be helpful everywhere he goes.  Vital information here folks.  Check before you pick up a copy at the thrift store.  Hint: the board book has fewer lessons in it, though it *will* hold up to a teething baby for awhile.

Summer when I was growing up, was an endless series of peaceful yet busy days.  I guess they still are, only my definition of peaceful has certainly changed over the years.  Back then, I left the house early with my sister for swimming lessons (rain, shine or storm) and returned to change and recharge with food.  Then we would go play in the woods and/or ride our bikes somewhere.  After that we went swimming for the most afternoons.  Our daily ice cream cone habit was paid for by spare change we found along the way, but since most of “on the way” was through a cemetery, change was mostly found in parking lots or the bike lots, or the coin return of the pay telephone.  There was much more to fill those days but the Polite Elephant would never bore you with long selfish naratives of his life.

These days, there are weeds to keep back, company to get ready for and cook for, and the ubiquitous laundry in the basement (that isn’t quite the “Mount Washmore” I used to face when more children lived here, but still).  Right now I have the very peaceful task of watching a sleeping tiny grandson.  He is too little to go anywhere, but I sit here to make sure he doesn’t.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

“What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” (George Eliot)

A Midsummer night’s ramble

As we get closer to mid-summer (or the beginning of summer, depends upon how you view June 21), the days lengthen into something extremely tolerable.  The latitude is about 44° (North) where I live so where I grew up was even better (45 °) in the summer…..darker in winter.  But not enough difference to make growing things any different.  Even the soil is similar – A lot of clay below the topsoil in the non garden areas (so if you dig a new garden, you will need to add good black dirt and compost).  Campfires go late into the evening with not too many bugs yet.  It is a charmed time of the year right now.

Around the summer solstice, it becomes almost easy to be tranquil, kind and peaceful.  There is hospitality in having folks come over, even when things aren’t perfect, so do not fail to meet together. Of course things must be comfortable for the guest, and disorder and clutter are rarely comfortable.

Jonathan is working hard in the beeyard these days, after his day job.  We help when he needs help.  Simple trigonometry problems go up on the whiteboard almost each week so the children can keep their brains exercised in practical word problems (like figuring the height of something too tall to measure, using shadow lengths, or a simple formula for an easy-ish combinatorial) through the summer, and book reports continue at a much slower, lazier pace.  Such is the homeschool family, that we find learning in all things.

I cannot part with my large pot of rosemary this summer so I sincerely hope it enjoys being in the house getting daily personalized attention.  As I get older, I become more and more attached to this particular smell.  I love the lavender too, but it would be deprivation to make it stay in here all summer long.  I’m late getting the front porch cleaned (lots of spiders around here), and the outdoor bench and wooden boxes I use as end tables need their coat of beeswax polish again.  I will need to deal with it before the 4th of July, when our intimate little group of relatives and whatever friends might want to come (and this entirely up to the potential guest, who would be, in most cases, quite welcome. One simply has to ask), will have a bbq on the porch and drink water and talk all afternoon until supper and then fireworks at Clear Lake in the nearby town.  Possibly a few games of spikeball, volleyball, practice throwing a few discs (so I can maybe become not *so* awful at disc golf), etc …

I would like to think that life always flows with midsummer ease.  I know that isn’t so, but my illusion at this time persists.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

Quite Sincerely, Pam.

“The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover any time to him
is aristocracy.” (Emily Dickinson)

Carpe Diem -The Ides of October


Autumn is my non-wordy season.  I’m not sure why but maybe my soul is battening down the hatches before the real cold sets in.  I learned a long time ago that to have an orderly life, one must focus less on time management, and more on managing your energy.   If you know yourself well, you know how long you have before you won’t be able to keep doing what you’re doing.  We sometimes surprise ourselves though – both ways.  I’ve had to go on long after I would have ever thought possible, conversely I have also  run out of all things before I was truly done.  But none of us can handle life totally alone anyway so we help each other.

But I was thinking about the upcoming time change as we remove ourselves from daylight saving time again, and it occurred to me that today is one of those notable days we don’t even know about – October 15 = The Ides of October.  The middle of each month was significant in roman calendar figuring and sacrifice days (ew).  The ides were on the 13th of other months, but in March, May, July, and October it was the 15th. Ides = the middle. Doesn’t seem like it for the 13th does it? But let’s take a very brief tour through the history of calendars:  The ancient Romans tried hard to make a calendar to work, but they kept getting behind and needing to add days or weeks, so in 46 B.C., Julius Ceasar hired a mathematician to help him with one that would try to take into account all the ancient roman holiday days (nones and ides mainly) and yet still be 365 ¼ days long for each year.  Not an easy task.  In fact the calendar seemed to be an object of continual discussion/argument over the years.  Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII  got help to reform the Julian calendar officially.  Not surprising then that it is called the Gregorian Calendar.  So while there were a few adjustments made even after that, plus it took a long time to reform the whole world to the Gregorian Calendar, the modified Gregorian calendar is what we use today.  It is evidently, difficult to keep it in line with how the solar systems moves (in fairly regular formation), in addition to keeping Easter tied to the vernal equinox.

Julius Ceasar was murdered on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. but it probably had nothing to do with the calendar thing.  But that did give rise to what was called the “Roman Empire”.   What the senate feared from Julius Ceasar, was tyranny.  What they got after assassinating him, was just that.  They could not salvage the Roman Republic, which was based on the Greek form of governance (and on which the United States government system is based).   So began the Roman “Empire” (insert imperial march a.k.a. darth vaders theme here).   So on that note, I wish you a Happy Ides of October!

Carpe capulus,

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.

Mostly sincerely, ~Pam.