belly button piercing

I got it done last week after absorbing the last needed amount of courage from my girls. I was taken back into a little office/medical room by an amazing young lady who had multiple piercings, tattoos, and was wearing black fishnet stockings under her denim shorts. I liked her instantly for her authentic, lazy manner. Nothing was going to alarm this woman. She would probably yawn while pushing the needle through.

She explained things to me and had me stand so she could clean and mark the places where the needle would go. Then I sat on the table while she carefully, while only touching the paper, opened the needle package, and the piercing package, dropping the items onto the clean sterile tray. Then she put gloves on and told me to lay back. She asked if I wanted the door shut for privacy. How comfortable not to care about it and I said, leave it open. There was a fan slowly blowing on the floor in the doorway, and right across the hall was a man in a chair with his back to me, getting a tattoo on his forearm. The two of them didn’t look our way once and were lost in their own conversation and work.

She readied the needle, which was about three inches long and rather thick, and said “Breathe in, and when I tell you to breathe out that is when I’ll insert the needle and then the piercing.” So I took a deep breath and when she said “okay, breathe out,” I felt the needle go through my skin and…….she mumbled, in her quiet yawning manner, “I’m sorry your skin…..it’s tough, you okay? There, it’s through…good…now the piercing jewelry is through, I’m all done, just turning the little top piece on, you okay? Now I’ll just clean you up, the purple marks, it’s not blood…..”.

I had felt like slow motions the stinging sensation of the needle going through my skin and then up and out of it again as she explained to me, in these simple words, “your skin is tough” and all I could think was a shocked, “My skin. It’s tough. I’m rather like an old hen at this point. If I WAS an actual chicken I would only be good for…….for the stew pot.” Wow, what a realization, I’ll tell you.

Oh well, at least this old hen has a beautiful belly button!!!

people-pleasing?

How about Shanda-pleasing?

What would that look like?

It would look simple, and genuine. Relational. Glorifying to God. Grateful, reserved, unseen, known fully by only a select few. Quiet. Life in the kitchen, living room, at the art table, in the laundry room, at the piano, outside, in the forest, on paths, with trees and insects and birds, plants, in all weather.

Music, books, making a home. Conversations, exchanging ideas and things that matter. hugs and kisses, rest, nourishment, peace.

Feeding the hungry and loving everyone who is safe to love and needs what I have to offer, as a gift, my heart.

These sort of things, and more, please me, and delight me.

keen boot saved my life, written by a chipmunk

There is a very persistent rain today and so a perfect day to tell a story.

I am a small red chipmunk. They tell me the hunters love chipmunk meat and there are five such hunters living in the yellow house on a nearby hill. And though they are fed the best cat food money can buy, they still prefer freshly caught and killed chipmunk. This is what I was told and told again by the one and only elder chipmunk in my family (the rest were eaten in their prime). But most don’t believe The Bad Thing will happen to them, until it does, and thus it was for me. I would never become a meal. The day I almost became one, I was dancing.

I am a lover of the arts; literature, drawing, music, light, and expression. And I was dancing that day, when suddenly I was seized. My audience (mostly ants, flies, bugs, and butterflies), gasped. I was suspended in air, except for a tightness of teeth in my back, and away I went.

Inside the open window the hunter flew, and landed with a jolt on a terrible floor. Instead of earth, and grass, and good smells, it was barren and perfectly flat with no place to hide.

The hunter, a skinny striped cat named Bones, put me down briefly to absentmindedly lick a tiny sliver out of his paw and off I went, as fast as I as could run, looking for a small tunnel or hole to hide in. Tunnels and holes are all over the place outside, but not in this terrible place, the only hole I saw led to nowhere.

It was a boot. I felt the hot breath of Bones as I pressed as hard as I could into the very end of it, the toe, and I turned my face away, curled into a hard oval, and clamped my tail around myself like a vise. I stiffened and held onto the boot with every fiber of my being.

Still the cat tried. An epic battle began between Bones and Boot. If it had been any other boot but Keens, I wouldn’t be writing this story right now. Keen boots are performance quality, built to last with the most durable of materials. They are strong and keep the foot safe and warm and dry, stable and secure, and I might add, they kept me safe as well. No cat was going to get me out of this life-saving boot.

I felt a different touch, a touch of inquisitive gentleness, of soft slender fingers, and then I heard a scream, many screams….. or perhaps one long scream. My heart stopped and then calmed. My Savior had appeared and what I thought was a scream was really the trumpet sound, announcing her arrival. I felt my safe boot lift up in the air, and I was being carried, yes danced, outside. The best place to be.

She, along with two of her children, left the cat in the house, and then kindly tapped the boot on the driveway so I could understand it was time to go. It took several attempts, but then I was free. I ran across the driveway into the shrubbery.

It took several days for my paws to stop shaking and hold this pen with which I write.

I avoid the yellow house and all of its property now. I learned my lesson. As usual, the words of the elders are ignored in preference for personal experience. How I wish it weren’t so.

But I never stop thanking God for that boot, and for that woman, both of which saved my little life that day. They will be the subject and inspiration for my beloved art until I die, preferably of natural causes.

within the boot
my exodus from the boot

I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.

Elsie de Wolfe

I was there

I set out with my big camera to find a dead moth only I didn’t know that was going to be my main accomplishment, I only knew that I had just seen and heard a Kingfisher in the big dead pine tree and I greatly desired a photo shoot with it.

As trees and birds and all of creation are much wiser and intuitive that we realize, the kingfisher sensed my plans and was gone without a trace by the time I came back outside with the camera. No matter, I would wander. As I’ve learned time and time again, going out is truly going in……in to God’s big, beautiful and endlessly generous world.

I never go back to the house disappointed or empty handed.

I admire little nurseries such as this. Some wonderfully accomplished parent sewed up a little room (using a fern frond) for its babies to hide and grow. I was so very curious as to WHO exactly this particular family was, but would never dream of doing damage to such fine house building. Imagine! Building a house out of leaves and threads (I’m fairly certain it’s some sort of spider).

And then I saw this intimidating creature.

Into the darkness of the woods I wandered, and although it is darker in the forest, there is always dappled sunshine that comes through the tree canopy above. I continued to look for birds but was reminded, as I stopped to admire an old dead tree, that there are worlds below as well. These silent little slugs, for instance. feasting on mushroom.

Then I saw this insect on a fallen tree. The tree was pushing out mushroom (?) through its bark and on these mushroom growths were the insects, probably snacking.

The beavers’ preferred tree to chew down in our woods was the swamp, or yellow, birch. The birch is a juicy, sappy tree, and this stump was oozing with it. Another feast for slugs!

On my way back out of the woods, I bent to look at the ground again, and happened to spy this dead moth. It was so pretty I brought it home and added it to my nature journal, along with two mourning dove feathers.

And now I shall sit on the porch and try to identify things. We aren’t going to church today because Seth sprained his ankle badly yesterday and is now lame, and my husband is terribly sick with fever, chills, headache, and cramp. He did an at home Covid test = negative.

how can we bear it?

“But only the strange power

Of unsought Beauty in some casual hour

Can build a bridge of light or sound or form

To lead you out of all this strife and storm….

One moment was enough,

We know we are not made of mortal stuff.

And we can bear all trials that come after,

The hate of men and the fool’s loud bestial laughter

And nature’s rule and cruelties unclean,

For we have seen the Glory—we have seen.“

-CS Lewis

Rhubarb quick bread with cinnamon sugar topping

I just got back from delivering medicine and fluids to Jacob (who is married and has the stomach bug, two conditions which are, I assume, unrelated, as Brittnee says it’s food poisoning hmmmmm.). I was at home folding clothes like a good little housewife when Brittnee texted and asked me if I loved her and my son, I answered “probably not”, because I was already suspicious. Then she asked if I would drop off Pepto and Gatorade, since Jacob was so sick and she had to go to work. Naturally I said “sure” because I guess I’m going to keep being a mother even when the child is married, in his own apartment, and 25 years old.

I got home to find David watching a movie and I started a friendly conversation with him about calling the grocery store to get back to working shifts and making himself some money. I was so convincing that he made faces like HE was now the one sick, and asked, “where did you come from? and, when can you go back?” I laughed and laughed. I know he will follow my guidance, the children all know that my wisdom knows no bounds. So now Dave and E are gone to pick up a package from the Post Office. The mailman tried to deliver it here but I was gone and Ethan assumed it was the Schwans guy and ignored the doorbell. Jokes on him because it was his package. At least now I home alone for a half hour……

This morning when I first got up and still had my pajamas and red robe on, I went outside to do a little work in my garden. I have a couple sprouted potatoes planted, and I planted sunflower seeds the other day. This morning I planted a baggie of marigold seeds from a lady at church who saved all the heads of her marigolds and dried them to save the seeds. Two baggies of marigold heads equals approximately one million billion thousand seeds. I already scattered around one baggie in the flower beds. I don’t know what to expect. Marigolds everywhere. While I was busy with the seed planting, I also weeded around my strawberry plants and decided to harvest some rhubarb. I wanted rhubarb so bad, now I have it and now I need to use it. The pressure. Mr Gordon gave me some of his patch years ago and it’s such a thrill to see it growing each spring almost right away. then comes the responsibility to use it all up and not let it just grow and bolt into flower. I took a small knife out of my pocket and cut some crisp juicy stalks.

After gardening comes kitchening. It naturally happens. I’m so thankful I can walk right back into the house and be in my kitchen. I set to work making, believe it or not, MRS Gordon’s rhubarb bread. I had enough to make a double batch, which meant four loaves. While they were baking I folded laundry and by the time the bread was done I had already committed myself to taking care of Jake so I left with a small plate of warm sweet bread and ate it while I drove to …….Goodwill. I needed to see if they still had those Hummel figurines that I had left on the shelf yesterday. They did not. But they did have some art pieces for the wall, a country primitives lighted house, a tshirt for sarah, and an S letter for my mantel which will sit right next to the R that I already had found a year ago. The unfortunate part is that the R is gray metal and blends right into the stonework above the mantel, and the S is bright white. David says it’s even harder to see the R with the S next to it. If that’s not a parable for Rich and myself I don’t know what is. (teasing).

The grocery store is right next to Goodwill and I ran over and got the things for my sick child and drove them over. We hugged and I left him to try to get some sleep. Within moments I had a text, “I am so thankful for you.” And my heart melted and I was also thankful. Thankful for gardens, and children who need me still, a husband with a sense of humor, neighbors who share, a car my very own to drive whenever I want, this beautiful day, and the energy and desire to do good things for people I love. For smiles and a heart that’s full of cheer. And my cats.

Marigold seeds
I love how the cats come watch whenever I’m in the garden.
Mrs Gordon’s recipe calls for vegetable oil which is how the paper became saturated with it.. For several years I couldn’t even read it, but I also couldn’t throw away her handwritten recipe. After some time, like magic the ink came through just enough for me to use it again.
This is how I remove bread from the pan.
Mr Bones on the porch (I made the blanket).
Real paintings for two dollars each.
I loved this copy, illustrated by Charlie and Lola’s Lauren Child, of a favorite book.
The R and the S

Recipe:

1 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup oil, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup buttermilk; whisk together.

Sift in a separate bowl 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.

Add liquid to flour, stir until combined and then fold in 1 and 1/3 cup finely diced rhubarb.

Grease two loaf pans and pour batter evenly into pans. For topping, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake at 325 degrees 45 mins or until done.

Happy Friday!

gratitude is nourishing

I stood inside the house, in the tub, to take this photo. Through a window.

There is a very persistent cat bird beaking itself into the bathroom window. He appears to be obsessed with getting inside. I tell it, “You don’t want to come in here. We have cats. Real ones.” It doesn’t listen to me. He’s in love. With me!! I say, “I’m a human.” He says “I’ve seen all you do for other birds like me. You are full of compassion, keep the feeders full, give treats, sing to us, and look at us lovingly.” I say, “A lot of humans are like me.” And he says, between knocks to the window, “there. Is. Only.one.you.” he’s going to die if he doesn’t stop. I have to make him stop. Talking didn’t work. I’ll have to resort to action.

I’m sitting here thinking, “He must have heard me tell Sarah that catbirds are my very favorite.”

He’s driving me nuts and hurting himself. Toxic love at its finest. He truly doesn’t care about me, he just wants what he wants.

Aren’t relationships wonderful? Why yes, they truly are, until you get mixed up in an ugly one. Then you find yourself studying “trauma bond”, “narcissism”, “manipulation”, “sociopath.”

This is taking a very dark turn!!!

Let me just say to you; beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing! The lessons are numerous but the tears will be as waterfalls. Wolves I can deal with. The ones who dress up like sheep are truly scary.

Recovery is possible!! I suggest EMDR therapy. It’s working for me!!

Honestly, I’m still the same beautiful soul, I just have to learn to keep the guards in front of the door to my heart.

Thank goodness gracious 98% of the people I meet are good people. How rare, how precious, how worthy of praise are they? How blessed am I? So in living, my heart goes around on a path of uncertainty, but always ends up …..in that divine and nourishing place of gratitude!!

*********

On a lighter note, my husband bought me a pint of Ben and Jerry’s cookies dough core ice cream the other day. And do you know what happened? I sat down and…..ate the core right out of it. Then I was in a fix. Who wants chocolate chip ice cream without the cookie dough? Not I! So I put it back in the freezer for a couple days. Until I was craving ice cream again. What to do? Have Rich go get me new ice cream? I knew the answer to that one……hmmmmmm

I pondered the situation and finally realized “At this point it takes me all of five minutes to mix up a bowl of cookie dough.” I have 26 yrs of skillz.

“no more core”
bowl of fresh cookie dough
refilled core
And an extra layer on top.

Time for me to shower and dress. Rich is working from home today, so is Ethan. David is also home working on college courses online. Seth has his first baseball game since Covid happened so we are excited to go watch him play later.

And tomorrow Caleb goes to prom.

((((My heart!!!!))))

You know it’s true friends, we are all so very loved.

“Oh God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” St. Francis of Assisi

soul full, heart full

I’m in my bed with Sarah, arguing with her, because I told her it was bedtime and she doesn’t want to go. I had been reading The Wind in the Willows to her and she almost fell asleep so off to bed she’s going for sweet dreams. First she needs a hug. Then she needs to complain because tomorrow isn’t Saturday. Then she needs another hug. So I listen, and hug, and pat, and finally she’s settled down and ready.

……She says there’s nothing she’s interested in more than space. She reads Google Space News every day at school on her chrome book. I know all about her interests, and pointed out a book for her when we were in Jekyll last month, it was a book about the constellations and how to identify them in the night sky. I’ll never forget what she said, “I don’t need that! I’ll make up my OWN!” I was stunned, I had never thought to stare into space at the stars and see what I could see, myself, without a book or old wise men telling me first.

She and I went for a little walk this afternoon. I found a chunk of an old bone off the beaten path, and a wonderful little den of sorts underneath the roots of a tree loosely sitting on the ground. We didn’t find any feathers, we didn’t see any beavers. But we saw the sparkling sun glittering on the water and it twinkled on our faces like magic.

Never underestimate a walk away from the house, or a drive away from home sweet home. Both are good for breezing the cobwebs out of the mind and soul. David and I took a little trip today. We drank healthy smoothies and went out for a bit of shopping. It felt so good to sit and talk and listen to music as we drove along. And when we came home we both took naps and I had food to make for dinner later in the afternoon. Frosted cinnamon rolls, fresh bread, seafood stuffed salmon, brownies, butternut squash.

Now it’s getting dark and the lights are on in all the rooms in reckless disregard for the electric bill. Everyone is off doing their own thing quietly. I can hear the boys in the kitchen finding snacks. They have music playing. I’ll be putting clothes in the dryer soon, and doing the normal nighttime things. Little by little everyone will slow down and cozy up in their beds and sleep. Thankful for another end to another gift-of-a-day.

Sarah the Sweet
glitter everywhere
a secret animal place in the woods
Peace, like a beaver pond, attendeth my way

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

cookie dough brownies 2

“God’s love is wrapping all around you, whether you notice it or not.”

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your Word.”

********

I’m on the couch. I put my book down because I can’t concentrate on it while Caleb and David are jamming; Caleb on drums and Dave on piano.

Today was lovely but on the chilly side. The sun came out now and then, the air was bright and made all nature look vivid, but the wind was cold. I went for two walks. One alone, one with Rich.

I found a dead fox over a year ago in the woods. I had wanted the bones but they were still being cleaned by bugs and worms so I left the skeleton by the stream for time to go by. I finally brought a selection of the bones home last week and today the lawn company came and accidentally ran over some of them, (I had them bleaching in the sun) but I still have the skull, a couple leg bones, and one jaw.

Sarah is excited her birthday and making plans for friends to come over. She will be turning 12 on May 30. She has a dance recital in June and she showed me her dance outfit today, it’s a red tutu and she will look beautiful. I’m so glad she’s been dancing this year, she’s learned a lot. Yesterday while we were walking into the grocery store together she told me about a certain tap-dance step that everyone who knows how to tap in the whole world knows. And I thought about dance and how it unties people and how beautiful that was.

I made cookie dough brownies today. David and I were craving something sweet. I’ve posted the recipe before here:

https://goodtobehome.co/?s=Cookie+dough+brownies&submit=Search

The book I’m currently reading.
Sherlock at my feet.
David got a gift in the mail from Aunt Josie; a weighted blanket. He loves it.
The cold walk.
Royal Doulton demitasse cups I found at the goodwill this week.
Fox
Caleby (one of my nicknames for Caleb)

The drumming is driving me wild!! 🙃. My heart aches with the joy of watching my boys be brothers, loving and protecting and spending time together. Thank you Jesus. Thank you that we are never alone.

Happy Wednesday my friends!