One of the essays in my memoir, My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places recalls a childhood game we played in the midst of one Florida summer. My siblings, friends and I gathered each night in the South Florida heat, shut our eyes tight and spun in circles. One person sat out the game, perched on the wall, keeping watch over us. We took turns climbing up onto the wall, assuming the role of watcher. When up on the wall we kept our eyes open, ready to alert anyone wandering near the street or too close to the wall.
I recently found a picture of my younger brother sitting on that wall, with my younger sister standing next to him. Sometimes a photo can make the difference in understanding a story…or not. Here’s the essay, just one of many included in the book. Enjoy.
The basic premise of the game, that summer of 1965 in South Florida, was for all of us to shut our eyes and turn around in circles in our front yard. Our goal was to keep spinning till we grew dizzy. A designated “watcher” sat on the five-foot-high brick wall that jutted a few feet out into my parents’ yard. The watcher’s job was to keep their eyes open and warn spinning children if they drew too close to the wall, or ventured near the street.
In my growing up years I felt keenly the absence of my grampy, my dad’s father, Glen Kuhl, who had died before I was born. This sense of loss may have been reinforced by my mother, who never stopped mourning the loss of this man who had been as a father to her.
We stopped at the area of the Royal Gorge, near Canon City, CO and spent several days there. Lucky for us, a beautifully maintained rail trail wends its way right through the town of Canon City, right next to the Arkansas River. The river flows directly through the town after making its way through the Royal Gorge.
I had meant to clean my dusty needlepoint doorstop and finally got around to pulling out the lint remover, which allowed the intricate needlework to be on display once more on our small doorstop. (I have a very uneven house–doorstops are essential or the door won’t stay open!) Once I started handling the doorstop to clean it, I wondered if there might be any initials on it. I knew the doorstop had come from my grandmother Marjorie’s (my namesake) house, and was brought to my parent’s house after my grandmother’s death, then moved to my house after my grandmother’s death. Once all dusted off, I looked closely, but found no initials.
It had been a while since I had experienced “story magic.” The pandemic has precluded in-person gatherings. Our meetings over Zoom and other venues are limited, demanding a different level of attention, with little room for leisurely storytelling. It took an eerie photo of alligator eyes lit by the moonlight on a Florida waterway to light the spark of story magic.
An imagination is a terrible thing to waste; I practice using mine every day. At times well-intentioned people have advised me to “just relax.” If it were so easy, I would have become calm and serene long ago, unruffled as I anticipate life’s challenges.
For the most part, I’ve been surrounded by caring people who have been patient with my timidity, encouraging me, while staying nearby throughout the process of coping with change. Always alert to instances of “creative hand-holding,” I store these memories away, never knowing when they might be of use. Perhaps because of this, I’ve been drawn to beginners, fascinated by the transition from “I can’t” to “Hey, look at me!”
A happy birthday, regardless of a pandemic. And yes, liver and onions really are my favorite.
In the midst of the pandemic that is Covid-19 we like many others, I suspect, have been working to reduce the number of times we go out, especially for food shopping. While we have not altered our meals radically, we have focused on different ways of extending meals, and using what we have, rather than making one more list and heading back out yet again, as we often have in the past. I do more of the cleanup than the cooking duties, so these suggestions are mostly my husband’s. And yes, we have managed to have some special treats along the way, even a celebratory birthday dinner for me last month, as we remained apart from our loved ones in other households.
The following is a list, not comprehensive, of ways we cook that might offer some ideas to others. Will we continue with these habits when life has opened back up? That remains to be seen. Wishing the best to all and praying for safekeeping as we muddle our way through. Continue reading →
Sharing stories between generations is magic, no matter the form those stories take
I was invited to comment on the benefits of obtaining a liberal arts education. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question right now. Below is my response, with the link to the article, which offers numerous other amazing responses to the same question. Enjoy!
I received my BA in History many years ago, and for quite a while wondered if I would ever put my studies to use. It was only ten years ago, when I came across the world of Personal Historians, that I realized my studies, my passions and my work were finally all coming together. Continue reading →
We rarely get a choice of who we share a neighborhood with. Little did I know when I moved to Bellingham, to the little neighborhood at the top of the hill overlooking Silver Lake, that I would someday hit the jackpot of neighbors, just when I needed them most.
I was reminded of this last week when I was invited to partake in a virtual gathering of women passionate about books and reading, a sort of “Book club” if you will, initiated by Julia, who had grown up next door to me when my children were growing up. As each person introduced ourselves to the group, we explained how we knew Julia. I explained that I had known her since before she was born, the much anticipated daughter her mother had longed for. Somehow the Pink Princess story came up, and I told the group a very little about Julia becoming a pink princess, and some of my role in making this happen. Continue reading →
Early last week we shared a family Passover service on Zoom. Typically the service happens in family dining rooms, and the focus of the service is around the dinner table. The traditional foods help to tell the story of the first Passover, and offer symbols of remembrance, of trials and deliverance. Part of the classic liturgy of the service asks four questions, and one question brought laughter as we gathered in front of our computers and were connected in a virtual envornment, “Why is this night unlike all other nights?” Why, indeed? It was for sure a night unlike any other we had experienced up till then. Continue reading →