Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thinking today about what a wild and shifting fall it has been--about how much I am loving the Legacy Series and how much I appreciate all who are participating by writing and reading the posts.  I am much the richer for having you in my life, and my reasons for blogging grow deeper as I read your words.  Thank you.   

Thinking today, too, of inspirations.  I've got several projects in the works, and when that happens, I become a sponge (or a leech, I suppose, depending on how one looks at it), soaking up creative inspiration from everything around me.  Here are a few sources (both local and global) this week:

silver map pins (always)
Hans Christian Andersen
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows  
my husband's wardrobe (best vintage and thrift shopper ever)
Slings & Arrows (amazing series--rent it!)
Bright Star (finally saw it)
butternut squash
Sharpie pens 

What is inspiring you this week?  Tell me please!  Share books and films and food and anything else your heart desires.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Legacy IX: The Legacy of Sweet Auntie Marg

What a joy it is for me to share this week's Legacy contributor with you.  Kim Klassen is, simply put, a blogging and photography goddess.  She and I first found each other almost exactly a year ago, and she has rocked my little world ever since then.  You can find her at her blog, Kim Klassen Cafe, where she shares fantastic photography tips and textures as well as peeks into her rich life, including her husband, sons, dogs, long walks, beautiful barns, and much more.  You can also find Kim and several other fantastic women over at The Inspiration Studio, where every day they offer tips, ideas, and encouragement for living a creative life.  Kim offers incredible e-courses in processing and using textures, so if you've always wanted to learn more about texturing but have felt intimidated, visit the Cafe or the Studio to find out more about her classes and to sign up for her mailing list.  She has been a wonderful friend to me this year, and it's a treat to share her words and images with you.     

Dear sweet Gigi... I am so honoured to be here, sharing in your amazing 'home'.  I am such a fan of everything Gigi....

I have read some of the past legacy posts....and wow... they are truly all so very beautiful. 

I've been pondering my post on legacy since Gigi asked me to do this back in August..... I have had so many ideas running through my almost always spinning head.  You see I am surrounded by pieces of the treasures are here there and everywhere in our home.

Originally I thought I would share a few stories behind the treasures I have been blessed to inherit.....

But recently my sweet Auntie Marg took a quick turn for the worse in her battle with cancer and passed away just a few days ago.

I grew up spending summers and holidays with Auntie Marg. She never had children of her own. But she loved each of her nieces and nephews dearly.  She was a teacher so she had nice long summer breaks.  I would hop on the bus and head to Auntie Marg and Uncle Vern's for weeks at a time.... When I was about 12 my family moved to the same town as Auntie Marg was living and the town where my Dad grew up.  Since then, we have been together for every birthday, celebration, holiday....and just because for years and years..... 

My parents, Auntie Marg, my brother and his family, along with me and mine... still live in the same tiny prairie town.  Auntie Marg loved having us all for dinner...and she was not satisfied until we were all completely STUFFED. 

Auntie Marg was the type of person that was always concerned about others first.  She loved to spoil everyone with the most delicious baking.  Always adding a little more to the recipe... a pinch more sugar, a tab more lard... etc....  and my oh my was it good!

Auntie Marg spent countless hours with my boys.  It was nothing for them to land on her doorstep and stay for several days.  They would soak up the love, the good cooking and the comforts of home away from home.  She made them the most delicious chocolate shakes, yummy french toast....and all kinds of baked goodies.  They loved being with Auntie Marg.

She was very down to earth....nothing deep or complicated about her.  She was a school teacher and a strict one at that....  But with my boys, nope, never... she was the softest soul.....  She spoiled them with love.  There was nothing she would not do for any of us.... 

Yesterday, was her funeral service.....  at the service my husband gave her eulogy and my boys both shared as well.  Brett wrote her a poem and read it to all....  this was not an easy task for a 20 year old young man who is usually very shy in public... But for Auntie Marg he was more than happy to do it.   Bryce wrote a small dedication to Auntie Marg. He's been having a very difficult time with all of this.  And as his mom, it's hard to see him hurting.  I pray his heart heals and he can move through the pain. 

Auntie Marg and Bryce were extremely close.... there was a special bond between the two of them.  'sigh'

I wanted to share a snippet of Bryce's dedication here today.

'She was a person unlike anyone I have ever known.  Unlike anyone I will ever know.  And since her passing I feel an emptiness within my heart.  Auntie Marg meant so much to me.  More than I think a lot of people will understand.  I loved her so very much.  And to a person like myself... a person who has made so many mistakes in life, being with her reminded me that no matter what happens, life is a beautiful thing.  And if anyone has left such an everlasting impression on "mine"... It was Auntie Marg. '

I believe Bryce's snippet summarizes a beautiful legacy left behind.....

To my dear sweet Auntie Marg... may you live in our hearts....forever and always.....

My images today are of a tiny crock Auntie Marg gave to me a few years ago.....  it's been sitting pretty on a shelf in my kitchen....  I will cherish it always.  The old remington belonged to my Grandfather, Auntie Marg's father...whom she loved so deeply.  He was a truly kind and gentle man......

As I sat in the church yesterday, listening to my boys speak so sweetly of their auntie.......  I thought to myself......Auntie Marg lives on...through the beautiful hearts of my children.... and for that I am truly thankful.....

thank you so much for allowing me to share this Gigi..... 

I truly adore you.... xxo, kim

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Anthropologie Book Drive

Anthropologie is holding a book drive this holiday season, 

so while you're at their website stocking up on these

or this

or this 

or (sigh) these

please add one or two (or more!) of these

to your shopping cart.  
They will be donated to Reader to Reader
a nonprofit organization dedicated to stocking the shelves 
of public schools and libraries.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Legacy VIII: A Legacy Shared

This week's Legacy post was written by Sande Chase.  When I think of Sande, several adjectives come to mind: gracious, elegant, creative, funny, thoughtful, and clever (seriously, you must visit her website for truly gorgeous boxed gifts and gift-wrapping collections, and then her blog, A Gift Wrapped Life, for brilliant methods and techniques for  wrapping gifts).  After reading this post, I have two more words to add: strong and brave.  I am profoundly grateful to her for sharing these words.  Please read them, share them, pass them on.  I can't think of a more important post to pass along to friends and family.  Thank you, Sande, and thank you, Aeleen, for lending your beautiful photo to this post.

late blooming love, originally uploaded by prairiegirl studio

When I think of a legacy and I have thought about it a great deal since Gigi asked me to contribute a guest post, I found myself thinking what most of us think about when asked such an important question.  A thoughtful question and one I wanted to answer for Gigi as I admire her honesty and talent so immensely. But the question almost seemed bigger than me, legacy is a word for important people, people who invent things, find a cure, save the world, perform great feats that will benefit mankind.  The more I read the guest posts the more I realized I did have an answer but I just didn’t really want to talk about it, certainly not say it out loud.  Though I have whispered, I have never shouted, but I am ready to say it loud and clear and I hope you will understand why. 

As I was thinking of a nicer, easier answer, a shadow of deep pain kept circling my thoughts and in order to tell you what I hope my legacy will be, I have to share the most painful part of my life and I have to say it quickly before I turn away, find a way to not say these most difficult and painful words out loud. In 1999, my 36 year old sister, my vivacious, outgoing, a woman who I thought was as strong as they come, the youngest in our family of six children, took her own life, and life as I knew it changed forever, changed my family…….. altered me forever.  

Since that devastating day, it is very rare that anyone outside of our family mentions my sister’s name. Suicide is a shameful departure, the saddest act we can think of, too awful to even contemplate. The very subject of mental illness in any degree makes many us look away, become silent. I understand this too well as even the memory of that day, that call, still stops my own heart………how could this have happened? How could we have missed this? We had many questions but no answers and it took years to relize there wasn’t one. There would never be an answer. 

Mental illness is scary.  It is messy, painful, and we don’t even like thinking about it, let alone talk out loud about it.  The trouble is that we give mental illness all the privacy it needs to survive.  We think of it as a private illness, a coping flaw, we ignore, it, look away, talk in hushed tones,  hope it is temporary, we sometimes even think it will just go away if we offer enough love and support.  And sometimes it does. But often it does not. 

My legacy is perhaps a personal one, first and foremost a way to protect my immediate family and its future generations.  To ensure we talk about depression and mental illness as easily and openly as we talk about sexual protection, illness, politics, family history, all the small and large topics we discuss with our children to prepare them in the years ahead. Sit them down and tell them the history of any mental illness in our family, have them be aware of the signs of depression so that they can come to us, talk to us, and ask for help. Make sure the shame stops here.

As women, we need to be vigilant about our own mental health. Place it at the top of our list and do what it takes to treat our emotional health. We are meant to be happy and if we are not, we need to find out why. Do the dirty work, dig deep, get messy, ask for help, treat it without shame. Be open and talk about it out loud, shout if necessary. When we do this it sends a clear message to our children, mental health is just another function of our bodies, it can go awry for many reasons just as easily as any other body part. Remove the shame.

I share this legacy with my sister and her name was Lynne.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Fields

People who've read my blog for a long time might remember the many posts I wrote about Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge on the border of Concord and Bedford in Massachusetts.  Mr. Magpie and I used to go for long walks there every week in search of birds and frogs and turtles and other beautiful beasties.

We had come to measure the change of seasons in the height of the cattails and wildflowers, and in the comings and goings of migratory birds.  In spring there were thousands of babies on the marshes, cygnets, ducklings, goslings, and countless others. Come autumn the whole basin was a rustling shudder of reeds and water edged by evergreens and vines whose berries ripened to bursting before the first snowfall.  And when it came, it was as if the frosted path before us were laced with tiny drops of blood pricked from the fingers of fairy tale queens. 

Now we are finding new fields to wander.  This one, Gilsland Farm in Falmouth, Maine, is fast becoming a favorite.  I took these photos there over the weekend as we walked through meadows overlooking the Presumpscot River estuary.  Run by Maine Audubon, it is just the place to watch for hawks on a cold November day.

And this is how we often walk, he just ahead with binoculars in hand, on the lookout for a bird in the reeds or a Cooper's hawk circling above, and then there's me lagging behind, stopping to examine the hips of wild roses or a stand of particularly lovely evergreens. Afterwards, there's talk and tea and amazement at all each of us saw and each of us missed, and the promise in a day or two to take another walk just like this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taste the Day

It's one of those autumn weeks when the sun is so bright it bleaches the brown fields to honey gold and the wind makes me wish I had a kite to fly everywhere I go.  Inside, daylight flirts with floorboards until the moon's curfew, and roses mellow until my eyes taste sugared melon at a glance.  Weeks like this, we alternate between morning walks along the bay in search of cooper's hawks and evenings holed up with old books.  In between there's work, but that's not what we'll remember when we look back on these days.  No.  Our minds will recall strong tea, warm bread, the favorite threadbare quilt.  Remember, you'll say, how we laughed at those women in line at the mall buying all those scented candles?  Dozens and dozens of them, every one like Christmas shoved into a jar: cranberry, sugar cookie, apple spice.  "Just bake a friggin' pie!" you said,  and then we went home and baked one in their honor, with blueberries and raspberries and ice cream on the side.

I dreamed of this once, that life could be this.  I didn't know then that each day is the past in the making.   Once I finally realized, I tossed all recipes aside and started each day from scratch, measuring minutes and ounces and cups and pounds and kisses and good mornings and goodbyes with my hands and my heart.  Suddenly, no day was ever too bitter that I didn't want a taste, and most days I was scraping the bowl or finishing the crumbs off the plate with my fingertips.  And you were always willing to share.  

And there's us now, tonight, two forks, eating cake straight from the serving plate.  And this is what I'll remember: just how sweet life can taste.           


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Legacy VII: A Long Line of Love

The Legacy Series continues this week with a post from one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Relyn Lawson.  If you don't know Relyn (pronounced ruh-Lynn), you'll love getting to know her at Come Sit By My Fire, where she shares family stories, tales about teaching, her beautiful photographs, her passion for lists (which inspires me more than I can say), her LOVE of good books, and so much more.  In her honor, I thought about creating a list of all the reasons why I adore her, but the list began to grow longer than her post itself!  Even though Relyn and I have never met in person, I feel like I already know her, not to mention her wonderful husband Jeffrey and her magical daughter Sloane, who just turned nine yesterday.  I sometimes find myself wishing that I'd had a teacher like Relyn when I was growing up, but then I stop, pinch myself, and realize I am blessed to have a friend and teacher like her right now.


A long line of love
When Gigi invited me to participate in her Legacy series, I was just delighted.  Excited, too.  As the series went on, I began to feel more and more humble.  What amazing company to be in.  Thank you, dear Gigi, for including me among such a luminous gathering of women.

If you were to look around my home for a tangible legacy, you wouldn’t find much.  Oh, I have my Grandpa Chrisner’s old turkey roaster and a red Prince Albert tobacco can.  I have my Mamaw’s carnival glass serving plate and her collection of now-vintage hankies.  I have copies of my mother-in-law’s recipes with a promise of her recipe tin some day.  I have a quilt my mother made for me when I was a little, little girl.  From my aunt, I have a picture I adore of my parents when they were engaged.  

I don’t have antique quilts or sterling silver passed down through generations.  I don’t have boxes of old photos and yellowing letters.  It seems that my family is not of the magpie variety.  Most of the old and faded in my home comes from the local flea market or used bookstore.  

But, if you were to look closer, to look at me instead of my home… ah.  That’s a different story.  

I have my Grandpa’s love of story.  I have the same devilish twinkle he and my father sometimes get; a twinkle that really should serve as a warning.  I have my Mamaw’s sense of humor and love of laughter.  I have my mother’s love of beauty and home.  I have my mother-in-law’s greatest success – her son.  I have the passionate spirit that my parents always cherished.  I have a deep and abiding love for education that my father modeled with each degree he earned.  

I’ve been thinking, of course, about the legacy I will leave for my own daughter.  Will she learn to love learning as I did?  Will she know, bone deep, that a beautiful, peaceful home is a haven for your family?  Will she laugh at every opportunity?  Oh, I hope so.  

But there is something else, something far more important that I hope to leave with Sloane.  I want her to know how to have a good marriage.  I believe it is the greatest gift this life offers.  My parents, and Jeffrey’s, have shown us just how good life can be.  Together, our parents share 93 years of marriage.  It makes me think of that old country song, I come from a long line of love.  Yes, a long line of love.  

Of course, our parents were given this legacy as their own, too.  My Dad’s mother was paralyzed and completely bed-ridden from her early thirties till the end of her life.  At her funeral over 30 years later, my elderly grandfather stood at the head of her coffin the entire service.  When asked if he would please sit down he said, “Son, I stood by your mother for more than 30 years.  I’ll see it through.”

I’ll see it through.  

Yes.  I come from a long line of love.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tracings and Leavings

Today it was rain.  It was fog outside and inside my head.  It was paper cups of Earl Grey until I felt as sloshy as my boots.  It was the turn inward, the curve into my own thoughts, leading in spirals, tracing pencil lines like swirls in the margins of textbook pages.  It was feeling absent from everything that matters, this one truth insistent as the drip, drip, drip of the leaf-clogged gutter beside the porch.  Today it was a radio playing somewhere else, muffled through a wall or a floor or a door--not sure which--but the voices of other lives were there, just beyond reach.  It was stacks and stacks of paper, notecards half-written, thank-you's that trailed off to what if's.  It was the deception of cinnamon-sugar bubbling over in the oven, the burn, the syrupy-sweet.  You may be excused, the clock said, whether I wanted it or not.  And then suddenly there I was far off in the rain like a figure on a road through a fogged windshield.  You can rub and rub but still the fog remains and there she is, small and dark, wearing the wrong coat and those awful boots as she heads off into godknowswhere.