Gentle Blossom

So fellow travelers, yesterday brought a gathering of cousins and another farewell. My husband’s aunt passed from this life peacefully, a week ago today.

Aunt Mary was the oldest and, at 102, also the last surviving of her seven siblings. She always insisted she would live to be 100 and like anything she set her mind to she succeeded beyond expectations.

(Photo: celebrating Mary’s 100th birthday November 2018)
She had no children of her own, so her nieces and nephews became her support system as she aged. Fiercely independent, she held onto her life at home as long as possible and when she moved to into long term care, my husband and his cousins continued to provide additional support and visit when possible. Last spring, Covid19 protocols changed “when possible”  to “not possible.” While our deepest regret is not seeing Mary before she died, it is reassuring to know she received the best of care right through to her last days. She died peacefully of natural causes.
Yesterday morning, I rose early to feed and walk our dog before we headed into the city for her memorial. Sunrise painted the winter sky with brilliant colors of pink and rose. I thought about a plant we brought home from her house ten years ago. The day after we received the news of Mary’s death, it bloomed for the first time in several years. From those two moments, came this haiku in her honor. 

Winter sunrise glows
Sacred flower gently blooms
One soul rises free

(photo: Mary’s Christmas cactus (schlumbergera truncata) Monday Jan 4th)

I am grateful my husband and I were able to gather safely with ten of his fourteen living cousins, many of whom we have not seen in several years.  The Russian orthodox service was beautiful and, even through his mask, the young priest singing the liturgy invoked a beautiful, compassionate angelic presence. I have no doubt Aunt Mary’s soul carries all our love and respect as she continues her journey home. 

Mary Lyboult (neé  Dominica “Minne” Rahalski) November 23, 1918- January 3, 2021

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

In Search of Magic

So fellow travelers, rising well before dawn to greet the Solstice, a glance out the window in my meditation space revealed this gift

a moment which provided the last key to finding what seemed lost.

Tis now a season
made strange and unfamiliar
by required distancing
in full contradiction with
the inherent nature of the day
when gathering together to celebrate
the gift of Love made manifest on Earth 
is everything

indeed the only thing
on your list this year
and the one wish which will remain

not granted
So you search long and hard
far and wide
past and present
for that  “magic of the season “
and just as doubt weighs heaviest
The glow of snowkissed lights
 clear tones of a favorite song
sweet cinnamon cookies and tea

fragrant wafts of balsam
and just now

a gentle Angel’s kiss at dawn
There at last you find it
right where it was hidden all along
Peace
Love
Joy 
Magic is indeed alive and well
deep in your heart

Walk gently on the path my friends and blessings of the Season to you all.

The Decision

So fellow travelers, it is Thanksgiving Day here in the US, a holiday I enjoy even more than Christmas ,

and I have always loved Christmas!

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Even the few times when I was alone or grieving a great loss , Christmas Day always becomes* magical to me. Still to me Thanksgiving is a celebration of the two things in life I treasure even more than the magic of Christmas: family and food.

This year, with the increasing momentum of the COVID19 pandemic’s second wave, staying home became the only responsible choice for me. It took a long, strenuous hike to work through the emotions that hit me the day I cancelled my flight to Portland to spend Thanksgiving with our kids. We won’t even be traveling to see family in cities close by. Decisions my husband and I reached out of simple, genuine concern for the well being of others, more than for ourselves. Decisions we had to make because of another, perhaps more dangerous, outbreak plaguing our country- a viral lack of concern for the impact our choices have on each other.  Decisions which it’s clear even more people will have to make for the December holiday season. So waking this morning with a deep need to shift that mindset of loss, I sat in meditation at sunrise.  The comfort I sought came as these words

In this moment here
reach for hope find peace and joy
now and yet to come

One small ray of Light banishes darkness. Nothing outside ourselves has the power to stop us of from the decision to be that Light.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

*PS~ The “becoming” part of Christmas Day’s magic is a post unto itself. Those thoughts are simmering with the traditional Turkey Soup yet to come.

Guest Post: Poem: Number 225,017

Every day the numbers are posted. And every one of those numbers has a story, a face, a soul , and regardless of years, a life sacrificed too soon.

Here is one from Tom Atkins.

https://quarryhouse.blog/2020/10/25/poem-number-225017/#like-34618

Our Fathers

So  fellow travelers, campgrounds in our beautiful NY State Parks fully reopened yesterday.

A favorite campsite, last summer

However, as with all things in our lives, the 2020 pandemic has imposed many changes and the process of actually being able to camp this summer is less spontaneous. Back in the BCV* era, one could just show up at the campground, acquire an available site and enjoy a campfire that same evening. Currently, reservations are required and because the on-line system does not allow “same-day” reservations, you cannot “walk in” and take a campsite no matter how many sites are open! So, two weeks ago, when the reservation system re-opened, sites booked up faster than anyone could say “let’s go camping.” I considered myself lucky to find one of my favorite sites open and, even though it was only for one night, I  gratefully clicked “reserve.”

Humidity arrived right on schedule with the Summer Solstice this past weekend and I was looking forward to Lake Ontario’s signature breeze. Even though the Rav is set up as a mini-camper, it’s not recognized as official “equipment” and I am required to pitch a tent, so I decided to get set up on site first, before going for a cool swim.

The site I pulled into was much changed from when I was there last year. It appears that the heavy rains we had in Spring washed a section of the embankment down onto the only flat section where I could pitch a tent. It was covered in rocks and gravel. Unfortunately I was not able to relocate to another site, so the attendant in the park office posted a credit to my account, which I have already applied to my next reservation. Although I was disappointed, this state park is one of several which are less than an hour drive from my home. The advantage of having my time to myself these days means a change plans is no big deal.

Zen moment spotted on the lake trail

There were many hours of daylight left to enjoy a quiet dinner under my favorite shady tree followed by a hike along the lake. The air was heavy and oppressively still, so we kept our walk shorter than usual. Delilah stopped frequently to raise her head and sniff towards the lake. I considered staying to catch the beautiful sunset view this beach is known for, but a thick haze along the horizon was beginning to obscure the setting sun. Then, a distant sound explained why Delilah kept looking back towards the other horizon. Thunder along Lake Ontario’s shore is always a clear sign it’s time to head back to shelter.

We heard a few more rumbles as I packed up the cooler and picnic blanket. Glancing back towards the lake, I caught a glimpse of the sun radiating brilliant beams as it slipped behind a dark line of clouds moving rapidly inland. The words of a haiku I had not been able to work through the day before quietly shifted into place as a prayer from childhood came to mind. It’s a day past but still the tribute I wished to create in honor of Father’s Day

Our fathers who art
Beacons of Light shining strong
Like our Father’s Heart

Sunset taken two years ago almost to the day from the same spot.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Hope light the Way.

Editor’s note: *BCV is my term for BeforeCoVid19

Mother’s Day 2020

So fellow travelers, pandemics, physical distancing and unseasonal weather are only one aspect of our current reality.  To honor all that Mother’s Day means to me – this Haiku

 Snow falls cold winds blow
Yet spring flowers bravely bloom
Hope and Love stand strong

Blessings of peace and joy to all mothers here and in heaven.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Christmastide

So fellow travelers, Christmas morning dawns today with radiant Light

Although our kids will not be with us this year, I am profoundly happy they are celebrating together in PDX and we will open presents with them via Skype later today.
And I am deeply grateful to be at my parents’ home for Christmas this year.

It has been over thirty years since I opened presents with my parents on Christmas morning. Back in 1986 they joined me and my husband for our first Christmas in our new house in Upstate New York- the house we still call home, where we raised our daughters creating so many special Christmas memories over the years.

This afternoon our kids will join the family gathering at my brother’s home to share Christmas greetings via video on our phones. I am grateful for the technology which will make it possible to be connected when I might otherwise feel so far away from them. It is a distance which I plan to bridge in the coming year.

As I watched the sun rise through the window where my parents little tree glowed surrounded by many presents, words of gratitude began to speak from deep in my heart.

Of all the gifts beneath the tree
I know the best is yet to be
For later on our family
will gather with much revelry
Joy and laughter will resound with
presents passing all around and
warm thank you hugs we will exchange
and pause to reach for who remains
as memories within our hearts
be near or far, no distance parts
for Love transcends and outlasts time
the greatest gift to yours and mine.

Walk gently on the path my fellow travelers and may this season of Light bless you and yours with peace and love and joy.

Reclaiming Perspective

So fellow travelers, this journey has taken some wild and strange turns since we crossed through the equinox point. 

It has left me  too stunned for words, a state those who know me will claim is a true rarity. Week after week I sat down on Sunday morning to write and nothing evolved. To be honest plenty of words have come to mind but none of them postable*. So silence ( a plague bloggers dread) has ruled until this morning when my first writing prompt from Michelle GD’s gratitude project arrived in my inbox.
Gratitude (exhales deeply)
One simple change in focus and the perspective of everything shifts and the one bright point in the past six weeks (the one I intended to write about before chaos hijacked my days at work) is reclaimed and I find the words I needed to speak

Fears rage my heart waits
Faith is safe harbor in storms
Love will sail again

Exactly one month ago we traveled to Philadelphia to for a family celebration. It was the first time my entire family gathered together since Favorite Oldest Daughter and Favored Son-in-Law were married seven years ago and the story about this photo taken that day is in a previous post. We had all come to Philly to celebrate my nephew’s wedding. It was a wonderful weekend and in addition to the joy of new beginnings we also toasted my parents 63rd anniversary.

Patience, devotion, thoughtfulness~ the foundations of my parent’s relationship which has stood for decades as the benchmark for our own marriages. And a beautiful reminder of how much I have to be grateful for.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

Back to the Beginning

So fellow travelers, back home from the last road trip of the summer, which brought me to the summit of several mountain trails.


Red Hill Fire Tower, one of two fire tower hikes accomplished this week.

Today, a turn of a calendar page, September arrives and just like that, summer adventures give way to another school year.  Back to the Beginning* we go.

Reflecting back on summer, it has packed so many good memories and peak experiences it somehow feels more than just ten weeks have passed. A measure perhaps of coming to the end of 73 days feeling satisfied not only with what I’ve done, but more essentially with how I lived those days. 

New friends

Time with family

Precious memories from a memorable event

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Even a few wishes granted

Side Stage at the Fillmore, in Philadelphia PA. Watching Switchfoot on stage from the stage was incredible. Best view of Chad’s drumming in 13 concerts! Yes, my favorite humans even staged a snowball fight as a nod to the snowed out concert last February. And finally getting to see one of Jon’s legendary after shows, singing along with so many other people- community, FAMILY at its best.

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Remarkably, this summer did not feel as if it flew by too quickly, making it unique to every previous summer I can remember.  The pace of life felt just right- a benefit perhaps to a conscious choice I made to live these months as if I am retired.

 Not that every day was perfect; mid-August brought an unexpected challenge in a long standing friendship which caught me off guard. Although the dynamics were not within my direct family, the fallout rippled through close relationships with people as dear to me as family. Navigating the emotional war zone felt like walking through a minefield, one wrong step and the collateral damage could be brutal.  

Or not.

The abandoned Overlook Hotel near the summit of Overlook Mountain

I could instead choose to not engage in the conflict, to honor my boundaries and create space for me to stay true to myself. 

Angry confrontations never resolve conflicts but choosing not to engage in confrontation is often seen as a sign of weakness. “Man-up” people say as if this stereotypical frame for confrontation as being “manly” aka “powerful and strong,” makes it more acceptable. It’s an expression which, if used in ernest, all but eliminates any respect I might have for someone.

Words spoken from anger rise from fear and people given to confrontation are always driven by their fears. Everyone is afraid and if we refuse to face those fears they become our Achilles heel.  Like an untreated wound, unknown fears will fester and eventually poison our choices with toxic dysfunction. Fear also blinds us to the goodness in our lives. It can harden our hearts and prevent us from giving and receiving love.

View from Overlook Mountain Fire Tower, a 1450 ft ascent, 3hrs 5min of hiking, 5.1 miles roundtrip and worth every step.

Sometimes the hardest crossroads are the ones where we must part ways from someone we care for deeply, yet we can continue to love them even as we move forward on our own journey, knowing they too can make a choice to change and healing will come. Standing in the shadow between then and now, I am grateful for the peace and strength gathered on this summer’s journeys. 

New season, new beginnings, let the adventures begin again.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

*Back to the Beginning is one of my favorite songs by ( of course ) Switchfoot. I may not surf but it has carried me through waves of many changes.

After the Storm

So fellow travelers, it has been a week of intense storms.

This afternoon a dark, violent outburst flung powerful cracks of lightning with thunder claps close enough to rattle windows throughout the house. Thankfully a quick survey of the yard revealed no damage other than a few large branches down here and there.

As sunlight breached a gap in the dispersing clouds, raindrops glistened everywhere in my garden while chirping goldfinches descended on a patch of diamond studded sunflowers.

Rain storms cease and now

Only soothing bird songs fall

From newly washed trees

There have been storms of a human nature around me as well, fall out from long standing issues with which I am not directly involved, but find myself deeply concerned for the emotional well being of people I care for as much as my own family.

Just like physical injuries, neglected emotional wounds fester and mar our ability to engage in healthy relationships. Unresolved trauma and grief give rise to fear which often explodes as anger. Anger blinds us to the consequences of words spoken in fury; trust shatters, hearts fracture, bonds break. Only the power of love can call us back from the brink and only if we stop raging long enough to hear and heed that call.

Someone has to dare raise a voice, perhaps more forcefully than expected, to be heard above the raging storm. Stop! Listen! Anger, like thunder, is a warning to disengage, seek refuge, find safe haven. Let the storm pass, let tears bring relief, so the wounds of the past can finally begin healing and love shine like diamonds of cleansing rain.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.