Sunday, October 31, 2010

Makin' Whoopies

Happy Halloween, my friends!  As a treat for my nephews (and for Mr. Magpie, of course) I've made whoopie pies.  They were just about my favorite baked cookie/cakey goodie when I was a kid, and I still love them today.  Store-bought ones are much more widely available than they used to be, but I find that most bakery and store whoopie pies have yucky fillings that are more frosting-like than creamy.  My version tastes more old fashioned, much more homemade, and sweet, but not cloying.  I promise they will transport you back to childhood, at least for a moment or two!

Whoopie Pies 
(This makes 6 huge whoopie pies or 8 normal-sized pies.  You could also make lots of mini pies for a party, but keep in mind that the cookies will bake more quickly.)

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
~Grease two cookie sheets and line with parchment paper.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (shake before measuring)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg

~Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
~In a separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla.
~In another bowl (I use my stand mixer for this), beat together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add egg, beating until well combined.  
~Reduce speed to low and alternately add the flour and liquid mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.  Stop and scrape the bowl occasionally as you go.  
~Spoon approximately 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven about 11-13 minutes, switching positions halfway through baking time, until tops are puffed and the cakes spring back when touched. 
~Cool completely on a wire rack.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup marshmallow cream (Fluff)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold whipping cream

~Beat together butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow cream, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.
~In a separate bowl, beat whipped cream with a whisk attachment just until stiff peaks form (do not over-beat).
~In three batches, fold the whipped cream into the filling until well combined.

~Spread a generous amount of filling on the flat sides of half the cookies.  Top with remaining cookies.  

Because these contain whipped cream, they must be stored in the fridge.  I make the cookies a day in advance and then make the filling and assemble them the day they'll be served.  If you're going to be transporting them, it works well to wrap each whoopie pie with plastic wrap individually.  

If you have leftover filling, it's great spread on pumpkin bread or gingerbread cookies!  : )

Quick note: If you live in the Lowell, Massachusetts, area and don't feel like making your own whoopie pies, the very best store-bought whoopie pies I've ever had are available at Cote's Market.  If you're French Canadian, like me, you'll also appreciate the fact that Cote's smells just like your memere's kitchen: baked beans, pork pie, gorton, and much more! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Legacy VI: Go Gently, Speak Kindly

I wept when I first read the post below by my friend Aeleen.  I don't mean a tear came to my eye.  I mean I sobbed.  It floored me.  I'm anxious for you to read this gift of a post, too, so I'll just say that I fell head over heels for Aeleen the very first time I visited her blog, prairie girl studio.  She has a soul as vast and beautiful as the Canadian prairies she loves so much.  You'll see it in her stunning photographs and read it in her descriptions; this woman pays attention to the small but telling detail, and she reveals it to us in a way that helps us see the everyday with fresh eyes.  When you've finished reading her post, have dried your eyes and blown your nose, pay a visit to her blog--where you'll find not only Aeleen's photographs, but her valuable tips on processing.  Oh, and there's her gorgeous flickr stream.  One peek and I think you'll fall head over heels, too. 


as all of the contributors before me, i am completely honoured and humbled beyond to be here. 
putting together words to share in this marvelous wordsmith's home is indeed a pleasure and privilege ...
please bear with me with my type-as-i-speak 'copywriting' style ... ; )

sincerely ~ thank you so much, gigi for asking me to be a part of your magnificent LEGACY series ... xo
: : :

i thought i knew what legacy meant to me. for the longest time i believed that an ideal legacy to leave to the world would be to write a book, or to sew quilts, or compose a piece of music ~ an individual achievement to be recognized and remembered on the world stage. i believed that legacy meant to leave something 'tangible' on a platform for the planet, if you will. i thought it meant that everyone would be able to 'touch' your legacy today and for years to come. something sustainable and worthy of value. while i do believe all of that is true, as time has gone on, i have been more and more thoughtful about what legacy closer to home, on my own back step, truly means to me.

{i need you to create your own image here ~ please close your eyes, wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tight ... }

i have been thinking about my late aunti jen's immensely warm and loving hugs ~ her legacy to me ... 

my mother's well worn, tried and true recipe books that aren't only a testament to her constant nourishing for our family, but to the garden produce and preserves and dedicated, hard work she would do with loving hands in the most immaculate way ...

my late great uncle inkster's stick cane, his vw 'bugs' he always hand painted with a brush, his worldly adventures at sea and his colourful letters he would send from afar ...

mrs. robert's chocolate cake recipe, windowsills lined with carefully tended violets and her strong integrity that lives on in her family ....

but perhaps the legacy i think of most and the story i want to share with you is one of my dad's legacies, which entails giving new life to discarded, tarnished silverware ...

my dad was a farmer and grain buyer. he was well respected for his honesty and hard work in taking grain into his country elevator and shipping it out for the best prices. he was renown for the ability to take a head of grain, rub the kernels out in the palm of his hand, gently blow the chaff away and then grade the grain with outstanding precision. a number of young farmers have commented to me how much they learned about grain farming from my dad.

then, the day came when mom and dad had to move from their life long country home to town. it was an extremely difficult transition for my dad. he found the days long as he didn't really have any hobbies, but really liked to tinker with his hands. 

i knew he would have to do something that he felt was useful and productive. the light came on for me one day when i spied a pail of old silverware that my husband had picked up for me at a garage sale, knowing i would do 'something' with them 'some day'.  

this one pail led to easily a thousand or more forks, spoons, knives that would be pounded, drilled and carefully threaded with fishing line to make delightful and delicate sounding garden wind chimes! 

once dad grasped this new found pastime, he spent hours out in his garage assembling chimes. in fact, he couldn't make them fast enough so he could hop on his mobility scooter and deliver a set to someone who 'just might like them'. he so joyously gave well over one hundred sets to family, friends and people around town who had meant something to dad over the years. 

even though this magnificent pastime helped lift my dad's depression, it didn't really help with the ever increasing dementia that was changing this man's mind, thoughts and actions. you see, i had created this 'monster' who we could no longer keep in spoons and forks, (we had bought all the ones we could in the shops in town and they couldn't keep up!), and in dad's demented mind, it was more important to make these gifts to give to people than it was to 'take' the spoons from the local coffee shop to fulfill his task. 

i received a few calls from the local authorities that someone had nearly hit dad on his scooter as he raced a million miles an hour, never stopping at stop signs, to the coffee shop or to deliver chimes. 

and yes, calls from the cafe saying another bunch of spoons had gone missing, and at their insistence, i would simply pay for replacements as they recognized it was more important for dad to have his daily coffee and visits with friends. i can not express the gratitude for the blessings, graciousness and kindness of living in a small rural town ~ legacies in their own rights ...

it worried my mom that the final acts of my dad's life would be what people remembered him for. that his true legacy of life would be somehow tarnished. but, i truly believe that when the people who he held dear, hear those chimes gently tinkling in the breeze, they will remember his simple acts and the generous, kind hearted and thoughtful man my dad truly was.  the dementia part of his life faded and forgotten. 

to think his legacy lives on in the breeze ... that dries the grain ... that lifts birds in flight ... that brings the soft rains in spring ... and brings music to my ears just outside my window ... means his legacy will live on forever for me ...

and ... to pay forward his act of kindness would be the ultimate legacy.

i feel blessed to be surrounded by legacy in many forms and love how it spins and weaves the very threads of all our existence.

and, if in my time on this earth, i touch one person just once ... smile at them, talk with them, be kind, make them feel good and important in who they are ... and if that is how they remember me, what they saw in me as a legacy, then my life would be full and complete.

go gently, speak kindly


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Knot

I'm working on a difficult piece of writing that I want to share with you, but it may be some time before I can.  Once when I was having a tough time with a piece of writing in graduate school, one of my professors told me, "Put the problem into the poem."  She suggested that I write about what exactly wasn't working in order to find my way into the heart of the piece.  

To do this feels a bit like trying to untie a particularly nasty knot with your eyes blindfolded.  At first, it seems an impossible task, but as you gradually begin to trust your fingertips, you feel the contours of the thread, and what you learn as you tease out the loops and twists is that the center of the tangle disappears at the very moment it reveals itself to you.  Where there was once a knot there is now a long line running through empty space, which feels like possibility, a string to follow back out of the maze, a thread to weave, a rope on which to walk across a treacherous river.  It's not a guarantee of safety or comfort, but a guide through the hardest parts of the journey.  

I find that I can't untie the knot without trusting myself first.  Tonight, I don't feel it.  Putting the problem in the piece takes an act of faith.  For a long time my acts of faith have failed.  I know that is the point.  I know that means I must have more faith--in myself, in others, in my work.  I read that quote from Emerson and I feel it burn like a condemnation.  What if what lies within me is not the long thread of possibility but the empty space through which it travels?  What if I truly am the nothing I feel?

I went to a lecture once that the late scholar Edward Said gave on hope.  Maybe I have mentioned it before.  It stitched itself into my life more than a decade ago, and now I can't imagine myself without it. What he said boils down to (and sometimes I hear it like he whispered it into my ear alone): to create is to hope.  To face the bleakest moment and still put pen to paper or brush to canvas is to hope.  It can be a chicken and egg problem, which is where the faith part comes in.

A few weeks ago I wrote about loving even when we feel least like loving, and I think this post tonight is a mere extension of what I was talking about.  In fact, both posts are just me taking the advice of my wise professor.  I've chucked the problem right into all of my writing for a few weeks now,  and I'm still messing around with the mere surface of a knot the size of those fabled giant balls of string (or tinfoil ) that enterprising and obsessive hermits have managed to turn into tourist attractions out on dusty desert roads.  I can imagine the crumbling billboard: 


And yet I'm still writing.  It can't be all bad.  And for you, because you have been kind enough to visit my little roadside attraction--complete with a souvenir shop peddling snow globes, snake skins, and miniature replica knots on keychains--for you I have the gift of a song from the Josh Ritter show we saw this past weekend here in Portland, just a few blocks from my house.  Yes, I know it's pitch black for much of the song, but that's because he sang it in the dark, which is almost as good as a blindfold, and I promise there's a glimmer of light at the end.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Legacy V: Inheritance

This week's Legacy post is by my friend Gillian da Silva.  You know how some people make you feel like everything's gonna be just fine, even on the crummiest of days?  Gillian is definitely one of those people.  It's not that she sugar coats life--  far from it--but every time I visit Gillian's blog, The Dreaming Press, I come away with an inspiring thought, a bit more strength, or an idea for a cool new project.  She is a true renaissance woman: wife, mom, career woman, world traveler, cook, reader, writer, photographer, and so much more.  She revels in life and all its possibilities, and I am honored to have her visiting The Magpie's Fancy today.  

I’ve given much thought to legacy; and what it means to me personally.  When Gigi asked me to write on this subject I was overwhelmed with ideas.  I have many ideologies regarding legacy.

To me it is an inheritance, something that whispers to me from the past like a seasoned chipped teacup that belonged to my beloved Grandmother, or a woollen blanket that has been passed down through the generations.  For me and perhaps others, it could be the gift of a story; such as an ancestral journey to settle down unknowingly in new lands to carve out a future existence for their families.  

We each hold a legacy unto ourselves too.  All of us carry our histories deep within our cells that we willingly--and sometimes not so--hold out like a candlelight beacon to guide us in darker, more trying times.  We fall back on our legacies, like paths well trod, to see wherefore we have walked and to which place we’ll venture next.  

Currently I’m reading Keats, and enjoying all he has poeticized us with.  I was breathless upon hearing that this gentleman, who was a mere 26 at his death, asked if his gravestone could read, ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water.’  I hope upon my advancement from this planet that I could have so eloquently expressed my own thoughts into a touching sentence so absolute. Keats’ legacy is born of wisdom, persistence, and a willingness to buck the trend.  I love that he pursued poetry despite the safe road of a career in medicine at his disposal.  How many of us can say we lived our legacy to the extreme? Took the narrow road? 

My legacy cup is filled to the brim with the legacies of my predecessors; my sweet mother and her love of autumn, my father with his oil paints and endless mountains on canvas, my brother and his hard work, love of family, and good sense of humour.  It flows over with grandmother’s infectious giggles, chicken soup and wide smiles that reached all the way up to her eyes.  It spills outwardly of kindness and love, of comforting meals prepared slowly and with care, with sunshiny bursts of happiness that are graced upon me by my dog-who is a divine creature in her own right and has taught me that animals feel, love, think and dream.  It is a retreat that fills my head with silence and solitude whenever I call upon it…the legacy of me is comprised of every other legacy that has ever touched me.  

My personal legacy is infinite in scope; magnificent in stature. I’m taking the narrow road.  I want my heart and spirit to be filled up to capacity with a bountiful legacy harvest that future generations of my family and friends can look to, when they need a guide--the way I’ve sought the aid of those near and dear to me. It is a love of art in all its forms; the written word, the painted canvas, the photograph that speaks to your deepest longings. It is morning light on forest leaves.  It is steaming coffee and a newspaper. It is a Dylan album and a stack of magazines. It is a lingering browse through the used book store. But it has a future too, my legacy. May it be replete with walks on the beach, happy well adjusted children, swims in lakes of poetry, letters and thank yous of gratitude, rich hot meals on leafy front porches, burgundy wine in deep round glasses, a hug to lift the spirits, a dream on herbal pillows aloft with the grandest of imaginings?  May it be a ship that sets sail on high seas for the sake of the sail itself? Legacies are lofty and bold creatures; create yours with the purest of intentions and then and surely then you shall bequeath the most intrepid, courageous and valiant ideas to fill the cups of others. To quote Keats in one of his letters to Benjamin Bailey, 22 Nov. 1817- ‘O for a Life of Sensations rather than Thoughts!’ Well done, John.  And thank you for your legacy. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunflowers, Mums, Pumpkins, and Love

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

I have marriage on my mind tonight because Todd and I had the great thrill of serving as attendants at his younger sister's wedding over the weekend.  The flowers above are a close-up I took this morning of the bouquet I carried.  I was so busy talking with people and enjoying myself at the reception that I didn't take one single photograph.  Me.  Can you believe it?  But the mental images are vivid.  I loved so much about their wedding weekend: 

family and friends gathering the day before 
to decorate the reception hall with huge pots of mums 
and piles of pumpkins and gourds 

rehearsal dinner at a really good local Chinese restaurant--
the platters of noodle and rice and egg rolls never stopped coming

dark clouds in the morning that cleared as the wedding hour approached

watching my youngest niece before the ceremony 
as she practiced tossing rose petals 
from her pumpkin-shaped basket

a homily on love by their parish priest

the toast given by the best man--maybe the best one I've ever heard

warm apple crisp in lieu of wedding cake

autumn leaves falling outside the windows of the hall

watching two best friends exchange vows

getting to share my birthday from now on with their anniversary
(okay, that one is a little selfish, but I can't help myself!)

What, you might, ask, happened to all those mums and pumpkins after the proverbial party was over?  The mums went back to Todd's dad's garden and the pumpkins we divvied up among family members. A few made their way back home with us.  The bride and groom are on their honeymoon  now, of course, but they are coming to visit us at the end of the week.  When they arrive they will find these little reminders of their wedding day tucked into corners all over the house.   
My favorite is the white one in my workshop/guest room,
but I like the humor of the pumpkin on my hutch, where it echoes the shape of the melon-patterned tea service and the "Peter Pumpkin Eater" child's lamp.  While the message of that old nursery rhyme leaves much to be desired for married couples, I can't resist the charm of the lamp.
This tiny pumpkin sits in our front hall where we keep cards on display in a vintage Underwood typewriter.  

As I type this post I'm remembering it was twenty years ago this very month that I met my husband on a chilly Halloween night.  October seems an auspicious month for beginnings, indeed.   

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beauty & Brains

The women I admire think smart thoughts and make beautiful things.  They combine thrift and practicality with a dash of whimsy and a dram of wit to craft words and images, meals and rooms, ideas and entire days that sparkle.

I've been so inspired lately by the brains and beauty surrounding me that I thought I'd share some.  My friend Marlowe made me the charm necklace that I photographed and processed for this post.  In the photo it's lying on an old mirror in my workshop.  

Marlowe is a fellow magpie who mosaics walls and columns and even whole rooms with the bits and pieces she finds at flea markets and tag sales.  She also knits up wonders, often creating patterns as she goes, plus the woman makes some seriously gorgeous bling--I have the stunning necklaces and bracelets to prove it.

Here are links to a few more women who are inspiring me this week:

Tracy, whose post on whittling down her wardrobe proves that simplicity can be incredibly beautiful;
Sande, who is the queen of gift wrapping every week, but her post today is an especially inspiring demonstration of how thrift combined with creativity can produce decadent results;
and Suzan, whose post on blogging sanity is fantastic.  In fact, I think it's a must-read for anyone who blogs.    

As we head into the holiday season, my mind is very much occupied with ways to save both money and time without sacrificing quality or beauty.  I'd love to hear from you about ways you're simplifying, reusing, cutting back, or paring down.  Looking forward to your thoughts, my friends!  xo 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Legacy IV: Making the Dream Come True

In my last post, I mentioned a gift from my friend Melissa.  Today I have the joy of sharing another gift from her, this time in the form of her words.  Her blog, Reverie-Daydream, and her online boutique by the same name are two of my favorite online haunts.  Whether she's posting one of her fantastic recipes; writing about an amazing museum; sharing her (or her talented husband's) gorgeous photos; or telling a story about her "Little Crumb," the beautiful and charming Gaia, Melissa does it all with incredible style, grace, and classic Southern warmth.  Her friendship and encouragement have given me strength many times--and I have never even met her in person!  I'm sure I will some day, and I just know that we'll cook a meal together, and it will be one to remember.  In the meantime, she has charmed me with this post about her family's deep roots.  I have a feeling she'll charm you, too. 

Hello Everyone ~

I’m beyond honored to be here; although, a bit nervous and ‘tongue-tied’ since I am sharing my thoughts and words on one of my most admired friend’s blog.  Gigi is my writing hero, for I strive to string words eloquently together just as she does on any given subject.  Her poetic story-telling talent always leads me to a literary high, and I eagerly await for her posts to appear.  Therefore, when she asked me to participate in this beautiful Legacy series, I thought long and hard on what subject to share because for me, the idea of legacy is family.  And along with family come certain traits, beliefs, objects and passions.  

Being born and raised in the South, my roots are deep in regards to respect, values, and work ethic. From the moment we are born, I believe our mothers teach us to say, yes ma’am, no sir, please and thank you very much to anyone and everyone.  We never talk back to our elders, and there is no way on ‘God’s green Earth’, one should ever be late for work (or call in sick unless you are basically on your deathbed). When given a job or a duty, we take it seriously and put our very best into every thing we do or are asked to do.  And when something special is given to you, then you treat it with the utmost care and regard it with deep appreciation.

Lucky for me, I have had the opportunity to know most of my great-grandparents before they left for higher places, and three of my grandparents are happily thriving.  To this day, I am like a kid in a candy store when my mom-maw or pop-paw begins to share a bit of family history or reminisce of their childhood days.  One common thread which continues to be a theme in most of these stories is the entrepreneurial hardworking efforts of my beloved family.  I’m thankful to have inherited this worthy gene, and when my crumb was born, I realized I needed a creative outlet as well as a means for income all the while being a full-time mama.  The powers that be work in mysterious ways because as I was putting together a business plan for an online boutique, my dearest grandmother sent me a card with a check inside.  She explained this was my inheritance, and she would rather see her grandkids use it while she was still with us rather than the usual means that precedes this gift.  Unbeknownst to her, I took this generous offering and transformed the dream of owning an artisan boutique into a reality.   Several weeks later while visiting my family in Georgia, this very same mom-maw (whom I shared my new endeavor with during this visit) asked if I would like to have her father’s old scale.  Not a second lapsed before I declared this gorgeous ‘heirloom’ all mine!  It was the property of George Washington Wade, my great-grandfather who was born in 1889.  He lived to be 93 years-old, and the scale was his for as long as my grandmother (one of 8 children) could remember.  Pop-paw George used it to weigh many of the fruits and vegetables which came from his garden.  People from all around would buy their produce from Pop-paw, and he would also barter portions of his crops for meat of nearby farms.  To this day, the scale has yet to be calibrated and it weighs perfectly to the exact ounce.  How do I know this?  Well, it is the very tool I use in weighing all the Reverie-Daydream orders prior to shipping.  It sits prominently upon my desk, and every day I look at it, use it, and think of my great-grandfather and my mom-maw and the legacy that has been passed down.  A legacy of not only an heirloom I cherish with all my heart, but a family legacy of sustainable business.  Gratitude fills my soul for what I have been given, and I can best share my appreciation through actions because in the end, they do speak louder than words.  

Image and words by Melissa McArdle

Friday, October 8, 2010


It is exactly midnight as I sit down to type this post.  Down the hall, my love lies asleep.  One of our cats is curled up beneath the bed on an old L.L. Bean backpack--her favorite nighttime hideout.   The other cat is sleeping here in my study on my desk, right next to my typing fingers.  He has fallen asleep like this so many times over the years that I believe he must imagine my typing to be a kind of lullaby.  It is his way to interpret nearly everything I do as a sort of gift to him.  And over time, I realize that I have adjusted my ways more and more until, indeed, much of what I do when I am with him is for him.  I say this with a little bemusement as I admit that my cat has trained me to make his waking life a series of mini luxury holidays from the hard work that is sleeping.  I also say this with love, because I understand what a gift he has given me.  It comes down to a simple truth: the more love one gives the more love one has to give.  

People teach me this, too, like my friend Melissa, who sent me this little bird vase the week we moved to Portland.  I was grumpily unpacking the umpteenth crate of books when the UPS man arrived with a box from Melissa's beautiful online boutique Reverie-Daydream.  Ever since that day, the little bird has lived on my desk with a new plume of flowers each week--sometimes daisies, sometimes tea roses, sometimes Queen Anne's lace from the roadside.  When I saw gomphrena at the farmers' market the other day, I knew exactly what the bird would be wearing this week.  And each time I glance at the little bird, it reminds me of Melissa.  She's one of those people whose love for those around her seems to thrive and grow the more she gives.  

I mentioned the gift my cat has given me by expecting me to love him.  Mostly love comes easily, but there are times when I don't feel much love at all for anyone, most especially myself.  It is in those times when I discover what I am capable of.  What I mean is that it is a joy to show love when one feels loving.  I am trying, too, to show love when I feel far from loving.  Call it behavior modification, call it crazy, but I find that it works.  I'm reminded of my friend Aeleen's smile meditation in which she suggests that we smile when we feel least like smiling.  I'm also reminded of what Annie Dillard says in The Writing Life: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."  

As I type my cat to sleep tonight, I can measure my life in the soft click of the keys and in his even breaths, and I count myself most truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Legacy III: A Civic Mind

What first drew me to Ciara Brehony's blog Milkmoon were the stunning photographs she takes of her home and family in Wicklow, Ireland.  What has kept me coming back every week for the past year and a half are her words.  A born storyteller, possessing wit and heart in equally generous doses, Ciara was one of the first people I met in the blogging world, and truth be told, she is one of the bloggers I've looked to as a model for what a really great blog provides both reader and writer: intense beauty, fantastic writing, reflection, a good laugh or a good cry (or sometimes both), and a strong sense of community.  It is a joy to have her contributing to the Legacy series.  If you haven't met Ciara yet, you are in for a treat.

(Legacy: inheritance, heritage, endowment.)

Dear Readers,

First of all, a huge thank you to the lovely Gigi for doing this wonderful series. I do hope I live up to both her expectations, and also the standard already set!

Also, today, the 6th, Milkmoon is three years old, and I am more than beyond thrilled to be celebrating it here on The Magpie's Fancy with my first ever guest post. Thank you for sharing this with me. 

I have a penchant for nostalgia. Whether my own or others! And I am blessed to have a housefull of old and worn and loved objects that have significant meaning to me, that have their own family stories to tell. Things that I have written about before, things that have pieces of who I am sewn into their seams, that have the memory of where I come from embedded in their grain.  But I have found, on this occasion, that my mind has taken off and rambled off down another leafy pathway, towards something else entirely.

In my ponderings and musing on the title 'Legacy', I took a little wander back through the pages of my own bloghistory, as though scrying for what it might mean to me, for it was a word that immediately held huge resonance for me, yet was one I couldn't seem to pin down.

Ah there! There it was, floating to the surface with little effort : the centre of my mandala was where the answer lay.

We all have our own mandala around us, that living, growing, changing circle of all that we love and need and cherish. That cocoon of people, and places and necessities that is who we are, that is the beat of our heart, the breath in our lungs, the very essence of 'I'. It is something that we never need to think about, for it is lead by our hearts, and has roots so deep we cannot fathom their beginnings.
And at the very centre of our own, unique mandala, is the thing we hold most dear, the treasure that is our anchor, our very meaning.

For me it is Family.

Where we came from, our place in it, and all those things that make us who we are. And it is something so immense that I cannot even begin to classify it. And time and again I have written posts about how I feel about the enormity of my responsibility to my children, of sending them off on the rocky, leafy pathways ahead, and wondering if I have given them all the right essentials! For what are all the right essentials?

But what I do know is that all I can do is hold true to the things that were given to me by my parents, the things that have stood the test of time. And when a friend, (who did not know me in my wayward youth..!) described me as an 'incredibly civic-minded person', it was one of those Insightful Moments of Self, when it felt as though I had been given a title I had, somewhere along the way, grown into.
For although it is something I recognise as an inherent trait, passed on by my parents, it is also something that I have made my own. A mindfulness that expands beyond our own Self, and takes care of how we influence the world around us, every day.

And though I look back and have no memory of how I got here myself, I have complete confidence that my parents hadn't a clue either, but they still somehow showed me the way, and that alone gives me the confidence to keep on going!
Because as I write this, there upon the notice board on the wall I have written: 'Just be the best person you can be. That's all.' And I understand that that is what I have been given. 

A civic mind. 

And I understand now that the Legacy I have inherited, is the Legacy I will pass on. A desire for a trustworthy world, a dependable society, and a conviction of my own effect. For we all have a voice, however small, and if our children hear our voice then isn't that good enough?

"And though it is just another moment in time, we are standing together, choosing the bright new threads to add to this weave we are part of, our tiny part of this family history that goes back into the mists of time, each thread an essential thread, strong and full of purpose, and each one equally as vital as the next.
And I take my little child by the hand, show him how it is this story is woven together with many hands and hearts.
And somewhere along the way we let them go, knowing their map overlaps with ours, knowing their threads are firmly caught. We let them go, a little at a time, in the certainty that those threads will never break. And that someday they will hold out their hand, and a child will ask to hear their story, will ask to know their place in it all."
~Milkmoon: 28th July 2010~