Bonding Words that Outlive Life

Dear Reader:

On ” Ellen” the other afternoon she had a brother and sister who are trying to get a fun word accepted into the dictionary-the word is ORBISCULATE-that moment when citrus fruit accidentally hits you in the eye-ouch!

The two siblings, Jonathan and Hilary Krueger grew up hearing the word, especially at the breakfast table, originally from their father Neil Krueger, a biotech scientist who died a year ago from complications of Covid-19.

Whenever a ” citrus attack” took place everyone would scream the word out together and start laughing-it was kind of an unusual ‘ family tradition.’

Both Jonathan and Hillary grew up assuming everyone knew this word. It wasn’t until Hillary was in her twenties and said the word in front of a friend who shook her head and declared it was not in the dictionary and wagered a friendly five dollar bet.

Hillary was shocked to discover this much beloved fun word was not a ‘ real’ word.

She contacted her brother and together they confronted their father Neil who confessed to the “creation.” After he died from complications stemming from Covid 19 they thought what a great tribute to him it would be to get the word accepted in the dictionary.

So the campaign began … with a website , t-shirts, getting the word put in crossroad puzzles, cocktails and grapefruit spoons.

But the story doesn’t stop there… after their beloved fun father they were able to pay all the funeral expenses but discovered many other families weren’t as fortunate. Many households were out of work and their sadness over the loss of a family member deepened in depression and frustration at the high cost of funeral expenses.

So all proceeds go to Carson’s Village-an organization that helps families with resources after a loss.

They are hoping Ben and Jerry ice cream will have a citrus flavored ice cream named Orbisculate and perhaps even Hamilton will get ” orbisculated” on stage in a few lyrics!

So until tomorrow…the more people use this word and get it in circulation … the closer the Kriegers get to a way of honoring their father and giving back to those who need our help in their darkest days.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday my two words were prayer and hope for Betsy -Libby’s daughter. I mentioned in an earlier post that she was having scary ” attacks” where her heart rate was out of control – due to side effects from all the medicines Betsy has to take to keep her metabolism balanced after her rare cancerous thyroid and parathyroid were removed.

As this post is finishing up Betsy’s delicate procedure on her heart is still on- going -please keep her in your prayers and I will update you tomorrow!

Betsy is tough like the poor hosta plant that got eaten by a rabbit less than week ago-now look at the healing!

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Making Our Words Invaluable

Dear Reader:

Being an ardent lover of words… I remembered this little story while cleaning out my garden fountain yesterday and finding a dime and a nickel lying at the bottom.

Most times words carry emotional value to us but not monetary at the same time. In this short true narrative both happens.

A Ten-Cent Idea

When young F. W. Woolworth was a store clerk he tried to convince his boss to have a ten-cent sale.

The boss agreed and the idea was a resounding success. This inspired Woolworth to open his own store and price items at a nickel and a dime. He needed capital for such a venture, so he asked his boss to supply the capital for part interest in the store.

His boss turned him down flat. “The idea is too risky,” he told Woolworth. ” There are not enough items to sell for five and ten cents.”

Woolworth went ahead without the boss’s backing, and he not only was successful in his first store, but eventually he owned a chain of F. W. Woolworth stores across the nation.

Later … his former boss was heard to remark, ” As far as I can figure out, every word I used to turn Woolworth down cost me about a million dollars!”

So until tomorrow…” Be careful of the words you say-Keep them short and sweet-You never know, from day to day- Which ones you’ll have to eat!”

Yesterday truly was ” A Winnie the Pooh favorite day” -my first day lily bloomed, Jeff fixed my automated sprinkler ( Hallelujah!) and Mandy surprised me with a visit and lunch at our favorite tea room!

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My Tree and Me

Dear Reader:

I think a friend of mine, Dee Lesko, and myself were on the same thought wave yesterday.

All five grandchildren’s Japanese Maples are breaking out in leaves all over -the girls’ are green leaves with pink tints and the three boys’ all shades of red. Both types-beautiful. So I thought I would make some metaphors and connections between us and our favorite trees growing up-mine was a crabapple where I went to read and escape the world!

Dee made a connection between tax deadlines in April and the most famous tax agent in scripture Zacchaeus. He was quite unpopular since he was a. Jewish tax collector working for Rome.

As small children in Bible School or Sunday School acting out the ” wee little song ” about him in the sycamore tree was always a favorite.

Zacchaeus desperately wanted to meet Jesus and climbed the tree to get His attention-it worked and he even got to have Jesus as a guest for dinner!

The crowd was shocked at the verbal exchange -in fact the ” polls” back then would most likely have been quite low for Jesus’ decision and appalled remarks would have started the evening news stations.

What the population didn’t understand was that ” The the Son of Man” came to heal the sick and save what was lost” and poor Zacchaeus was definitely in that category.

I didn’t climb a sycamore tree yesterday but I did climb the steps to the top deck to look down on my garden sanctuary that fills my heart with blessings as I watch my grandchildren along with their trees grow.

I hope the day never comes when I would have to leave my garden and ” family trees” behind-so I appreciate every minute of every day!

Come with me and look down with new insights on my sanctuary

Jake
Lachlan
Rutledge
Eloise
Eva Cate

So until tomorrow ( Dee said it best) “Think about the “trees” God has planted in your life to support you and help you see Him better. Offer a prayer of thankfulness for each … and may we all strive to serve as “trees” in response.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

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Food for ” Thought”

Dear Reader:

The last few days have been troubling ones since the news broke last week about the murder of Dr Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara. their two young grandchildren and an appliance employee working on the air conditioning.

As more of the story was revealed I realized that not only did I know this couple but more associations sprang up. I attended Erskine College with Robert and Barbara, Barbara was from Lauren’s, my mother’s hometown and where we moved at the start of my high school years-Barbara, her older sister Donna and I all attended Laurens High School. Both sisters were sweet, smart and just as beautiful inside as out.

Later we all ended up at Erskine College where everybody knew everybody.Robert’s family was from Due West, SC -home to Erskine College where Robert’s father taught chemistry.

My son Walsh attended Appalachian State and was a fraternity brother with Robbie ( the couple’s oldest son.) Robbie often came down to the Lowcountry during his college days and Walsh remembers going to Rock Hill on occasion.

My grandmother Wilson ( Seawright) graduated from the Erskine Women’s College in 1902. The Seawrights, along with the Lesslies were some of the first families that formed Due West. So generationally our families have intertwined.

My thoughts over this seemingly senseless loss of life have darkened over the big Why Questions of Life. Why should something so terrible happen to such good people?

Then I came upon a random document I had saved on ” Old Faithful” my desktop computer.

The message addressed the relationship with our thoughts and how important it is not to confuse our identity with our thoughts.

” We are spiritually asleep when we take our thoughts for reality. The concept is so simple yet so hard to integrate because our thoughts sometimes seem so powerful as they are connected to our emotions.

In reality we are separate from our thoughts, emotions and physical body… even the accumulation of our experiences. We are ” pure awareness.” If we were just thoughts, emotions, and experiences we would disappear when they did. This means we are not the labels we put on ourselves. nor those that others do.

Thoughts are only tools to help us plant our seeds of self-awareness, our compass to help navigate our way through life and then they pass on.

If everyone could rise above their immediate thoughts and use them as tools instead of reality…then we would discover the divine spark inside each of us… connecting us to the universe. That is reality.

So until tomorrow… Help us Father keep our divine spirit alive and well within us so we can seek your refuge when most needed!

” Today is my favorite day” – Winnie the Pooh

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Francis Marion and the Ebony Chippendale Armchair

Dear Reader:

I can’t help myself-this retired history teacher wants to share a revolutionary tale today about one of South Carolina’s ” Favorite Sons.”

General Francis Marion-better known in history as the ” Swamp Fox” for using hit and run/ guerrilla tactics successfully against the British in South Carolina!

He used Hampton Plantation as a place of refuge when exhausted from skirmishes and battles. At that time Daniel Horry and his wife Harriott ( Pinckney -daughter of Eliza Lucas Pinckney… the ” indigo girl”) all lived at the plantation. They risked their own lives feeding and hiding Marion when he appeared.

After the revolution the house changed hands several times until it came into the Rutledge family.

It would end up being home to little Archie Rutledge ( Archibald Rutledge) South Carolina ‘s first poet laureate. )

He heard many stories as a boy growing up there but the ones with the ” Swamp Fox” fascinated him -especially the tale of Marion and the Chippendale armchair.

Growing up at Hampton there were always mysteries about the house that Archie couldn’t understand. One was a broken armchair near the massive fireplace. The left arm of the chair had fallen off and was kept in a nearby closet.

When Archie asked his father about it… his father explained that at one time Hampton had served as headquarters to Francis Marion. After one of his forays, he fell asleep in that very chair when British commander Tarleton surprised him. Startled he jumped up breaking the arm off the chair.

” Did Tarleton get him” asked Archie?

” Oh no… the Colonel smiled… Marion used the secret passageway that lead to the back of the house, jumped on his horse, swam the river, and escaped into the wilds of the Santee Delta.

After a moment little Archie asked… ” Well dad… that is interesting and all but why haven’t you fixed the arm on the chair?”

“Oh” said his father… ” I always thought it would be ” sacrilegious” to repair what General Marion had broken.”

So until tomorrow…stories passed down from generation to generation are the best history stories!

All my grandchildren have been in Florida over spring break-the Turners at Disney World

And Walsh and Mollie joined her sister and family-enjoying the pool ocean and fishing!! It wasn’t the Old Man and the Sea but two bits and their fish!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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The Best Prizes Aren’t Found on a Stage

Dear Reader:

Like most people growing up I would dream about what it must feel like to win a National or international award or prize.

Every year I watched them come and go… getting no closer to that coveted dream in my imagination. Like the Pulitzer, Heisman, Oscars, or Nobel Prize.

Then last year I watched the sun filtering through my largest moonflower to date and I suddenly realized I had won a prize for bringing beauty to this earth-with the sun rising -the brilliant moonflower’s time was almost up but wow was it going out in all its glory!

Now it is time to plant the seeds again … opening up new possibilities for more prized moonflower surprises!

This got me thinking… don’t we all get our fair share of God’s coveted prizes in the simple pleasures of everyday life? We all certainly qualify for life’s small pleasures by being children of God.

Archibald Rutledge defined it as ” Life’s Extras. ” Rutledge observes … Creation supplies with only two kinds of things: necessities and extras.

Sunlight, air, water, food, shelter-these are among the bare necessities-with them we can exist.

But moonlight and starlight are distinctly extras; so are music, the perfumes, and flowers. The wind is perhaps a necessity but the song it croons through the morning pines is a different thing.

I decided to recognize many of the tiny delights in my life-extras that far surpass a cold trophy!

Winter fireplaces, my recliner with a book and heating lap blanket, births of my grandchildren-especially Jake’s since it landed on my birthday, the rare snowstorm when Eloise was born, full moons and sunrises/sunsets, Saint Jude’s Chapel of Hope, YaYa retreat on Edisto, friends-past and present… flower gifts from friends

The list is endless-God is so good to us! Let me share a few photos of my favorites

So until tomorrow…

Remember yesterday when I showed you my two containers of hostas that wintered in the woods… how beautiful they were? Look what I discovered yesterday morning…

A ” wacky wabbit” ate my hostas! Talk about losses!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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I Never Make the Same Mistake Twice…

Dear Reader:

By now you probably realize that yesterday you got two posts for the high price of one-insanity.

The first one that popped up at six had center stage until about 9:30 am and was titled-God Enters the Doors of Imperfection. After that time the second post grabbed the limelight-entitled -April… The Month of Beauty and Blessings. If you read early yesterday morning you might not have picked up on the mistake-so you have two for the price of one today!

I could try to explain what happened but I won’t- it would take another entire blog for that… let’s just say my fingers went walking in the wrong direction and I definitely am confident that I come from the genealogy of at least one of the ” Walk Away People” who left before God got their brains put in!

So come with me and look at my flowers inside and outside-my way of self-soothing/ healing -embracing the beauty and forgotten blessings around me.

Big Red encouraging me!

I found two hostas blooming in the woods where they wintered and look how pretty now-

Look at my visual blessings right outside my computer window

This is my Happy Place

Fresh flowers on my kitchen table-makes me happy too!

So until tomorrow…When we get down and discouraged find your secret sanctuary, take a deep breath and be thankful for it-it means you are alive and the world is filled with possibilities!

” Today is my ( getting there) favorite day. “😉

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April… The Month of Beauty and Blessings

Dear Reader:

Just saying the word April softly produces a lilting sing-song to my voice… a soft melody.

Sara Teasdale, in her prose on April, expresses it so well. …”I could not be sure of spring-save that it sings in me.”

The word April immediately conjures up delightful visions of flowers, blue skies and fluffy clouds, daisies or diamonds (the birth flower and birthstone) of this dazzling month. April just makes me smile.

April’s Latin root origin means “to open.” Most historians believe it refers to the opening of flowers profusely blooming over meadows, by gates and in gardens… the reawakening or re-opening of spring and spirit.

Susan dropped by Wednesday to walk the garden and as we entered the entrance gate she remarked on the unusual beauty of the white mums sprinkled in brown against the rusty metal sign telling visitors to “Feel free to talk to the plants…they understand.”

I was about to tell her the brown “stains” on the white mums reflect the downward trend from pure white to brown withered signs of slow decay. But somehow I couldn’t… because I agreed with Susan…the speckled mums were simply gorgeous!

Isn’t this true sometimes of the stains on our own tapestry of life?

I read somewhere recently that a psychiatrist, working with a woman who suffered terribly from “perfectionism,” to the point she found herself isolated from family, friends, and work colleagues…came up with an idea to help her break through her self-induced irrational expectations.

She had to wear an outfit to work with a large mustard stain on her blouse. She was not allowed to wash it off or even apologize for it….simply admit, if asked, that she squirted the bottle too hard…a simple mistake and that trying to clean it would just make it worse.

To her surprise…many co-workers offered suggestions on how to clean it, others smiled and shared their embarrassing “stain” stories until the whole office was laughing together. Suddenly she appeared human and vulnerable…and acceptable as as one of the “team”-humanity.

So until tomorrow…stains remind us that we are not perfect but that “hot dog with all the mustard was sure worth it!”

“Today is my favorite day” (Eva Cate with Winnie the Pooh at the Greek gardens at EPCOT)

“Let us remember that it is our imperfections that make us so wonderfully unique!

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God Enters the Doors of Imperfection

Dear Reader:

Don’t we all get down sometimes and think we have made such a “mess” of our lives that we are beyond help? Our career is going down the tubes, our lifestyle is flawed, the house needs more repairs than money allows…we stretch ourselves so thin we feel like a failure constantly…why would God want to help us?

Actually this is when the time is “perfect”… when God most wants to knock on our doors and enter our lives…if we can learn to throw away the fairy tale of perfection and live in the real world. God can not weave in and out of our lives when we set rigid expectations on living the perfect life…in cold perfection.

And speaking of weaving…I love this story about Navajo rugs. Navajo women, weavers, deliberately leave an imperfection or mistake woven into one corner of the rug. It is meant to allow “The Spirit” to move in and out of the rug.

The Navajo weavers understand that if they worry about every tiny stitch and/or making a mistake…they will slow down the completion of the finished product that no buyer would have even recognized the error. The paradox: “Practicing in imperfection allows you to come closer to perfection.”

I have had to learn this lesson the hard way…chastising myself for not picking up on all the new typing techniques and different procedures from “Miss Dell” the desk top computer to the chrome book… my typing is now so slow and I keep hitting the wrong keys that sends parts of sentences spinning off into cyberspace. Believe me…the message today has my name all over it.

So until tomorrow… “Anyone who has never made a mistake…has tried anything new.” – Einstein

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

I decided not to take the wooden cross down quite yet from the bottle tree but wait for the Easter lily Tommy and Kaitlyn gave me to bloom…it is not quite perfection yet with all the blooms but close enough for me!

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Learning in the Great Outdoors

Dear Reader:

The title photo today is on the front of a canvas bag my neighbor Vickie gifted me for watching her cat, Fuzz, over the Easter holidays while visiting her granddaughter. Fuzz is quite a character and we always have fun together.

Vickie told me that as soon as she saw the bag she knew it was me all over….she was right. The words on the front of the bag reads: “Not All Classrooms Have Four Walls.” It has taken me awhile to learn this lesson…but now in my life (Part 2) since the construction of my garden in 2013, I have become exactly what I wanted to be – a lifetime learner!

I am happiest while working in the garden, even though my automated sprinkler is broken right now, and I have had to form a one woman water brigade (volunteer crew unit-me) from my outside spigots to the back and side gardens with two big plastic bottles! Good for the muscles and soul I suppose!

The garden has been my greatest teacher…teaching me science- when to plant what in which season, math- the number of days it will take seeds to appear or plants to bloom, literature- reading stories and books on the history of gardens and different foliage,etc.

Yet my greatest lessons have come in the form of learning patience, becoming a risk-taker, learning about recently discovered hybrids and new varieties of plants. Spiritually…my garden has provided a sanctuary for me to go and simply repose from the world…using all my God-given five senses.

So I was delighted when I discovered a novel movement in education- to use outdoor learning to re-open schools more safely during the pandemic! The National Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative was joined by another co-founder, Green Schoolyards in America….with original sites in California…lead by Berkeley Hall of Science.

After much research they discovered that the risk of virus transmissions is roughly 20 times lower outdoors than in. Outdoor learning is critical to a student’s intellectual, physical, and mental well-being. Sunlight helps reduce the amount of viruses present.

Communities get involved to help build outdoor meeting spaces for students-besides providing funding for simple building material for pavilions used as shelters, tree stumps for seats, boat sails for shade, etc. This early initiative has concentrated on the elementary grades but is looking towards expanding to secondary levels.

The New York Times did a story on one site near Cape Cod watching first graders sit criss-cross applesauce on tree stumps while raising their hands “sky high” to answer a question. Third graders grow class gardens studying foods the explorers used…and fourth graders escape to shelter made from boat sails and learn how to erect them like in times of old.

Math centers use sticks, acorns, rocks, and pine cones to learn basic economics in money exchange. In social studies students compare their outside environment to the ones described in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. Literacy walks take place as students search for the pages of their assigned story tacked to different trees in the forest. First graders use this same idea for finding sight words.

The vast majority of students exposed to outdoor learning don’t want to return inside again…at least not wholly…many schools have worked up to a 75% amount of time outside while others use less depending on the location and environment. I think it might be a tough job, even when the pandemic has left, to corral children back inside…children and outdoor learning are natural partners!

So until tomorrow….Let’s all remain lifetime learners and let Mother Nature become our teacher again…like she was when we were children playing and learning in her “class.”

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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