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Father’s Day without you

June 19, 2016 | Dad,Family,Father's Day

dad-028

You visited me in a dream last night. That hasn’t happened for a while. As usual, you didn’t talk to me. You were busy doing something for me, though. You were working on my taxes. You wore a checked short-sleeve shirt and dress pants. You also wore fuzzy slippers. “Where did he get THOSE?” I wondered. At some point, I realized this was a dream and I might not see you again for a while. I didn’t want to waste my chance, so I walked up to you and gave you a hug. You wrapped your arms around me and held me tight. Thank you for that. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.

Posted by Becky @ 9:50 am | Comments  

Poems & photos: Day Dreams, or Twelve Years Old

May 1, 2016 | Birthday,Family,Forest City,Photography,Poetry,Twins

hollyhock

My baby girls recently turned 12, so I took some license, replacing “ten” with “twelve.”

DAY DREAMS, OR (TWELVE) YEARS OLD
I measured myself by the wall in the garden;
The hollyhocks blossomed far over my head.
Oh, when I can touch with the tips of my fingers
The highest green bud, with its lining of red,

I shall not be a child any more, but a woman.
Dear hollyhock blossoms, how glad I shall be!
I wish they would hurry – the years that are coming,
And bring the bright days that I dream of to me!

Oh, when I am grown, I shall know all my lessons,
There’s so much to learn when one’s only just (twelve)! –
I shall be very rich, very handsome, and stately,
And good, too, — of course, — ’twill be easier then!

There’ll be many to love me, and nothing to vex me,
No knots in my sewing; no crusts to my bread.
My days will go by like the days in a story,
The sweetest and gladdest that ever was read.

And then I shall come out some day to the garden
(For this little corner must always be mine);
I shall wear a white gown all embroidered with silver,
That trails in the grass with a rustle and shine.

And, meeting some child here at play in the sunshine,
With gracious hands laid on her head, I shall say,
“I measured myself by these hollyhock blossoms
When I was no taller than you, dear, one day!”

She will smile in my face as I stoop low to kiss her,
And – Hark! They are calling me in to my tea!
O blossoms, I wish that the slow years would hurry!
When, when will they bring all I dream of to me?

—Margaret Johnson

PHOTO: Hollyhock near Forest City, Iowa © DMBR

Posted by Becky @ 11:27 am | Comments  

Books: Writing Home

September 30, 2014 | Authors,Books,Family

books-writinghomecindylaferle

Title: Writing Home (Hearth Stone Books, Royal Oak, Michigan, 2005)
Author: Cindy La Ferle‘s essays and columns have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Reader’s Digest, Country Gardens, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, Writer’s Digest, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Daily Tribune and many other publications. She lives with her family in Royal Oak, Michigan.

What a wonderful collection of essays! Cindy La Ferle is a great observer of human nature, and she is a brilliant writer with a calm and assuring voice. Many of her essays brought me to tears, especially the ones she wrote about her son. My children are in between the stages of childhood and teenage-hood. I look into their faces that keep changing yet staying true to who they are — and I try to savor every moment with them. Her words remind me that this motherhood ride is an exciting one with the milestones speeding by in the blink of an eye.

“The sacred is in the ordinary. It is found in one’s daily life — in friends, family, and neighbors; in one’s own backyard.” Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me.

Posted by Becky @ 1:40 pm | Comments  

What’s cooking?

February 25, 2012 | Family,Food

I made sea scallops from an A Food Centric Life recipe that I got from Amy. I also made something with shrimp, because my son really loves shrimp. It’s always fun to try something new!

Posted by Becky @ 3:25 pm | 1 Comment  

Lucy

January 11, 2012 | Family,Home

I love what comes home in backpacks.

The dog’s tail actually does curl up like that. I love that, too.

Posted by Becky @ 5:43 pm | Comments  

Poinsettia tradition

December 18, 2011 | Birthday,Family,Holidays

After Mom died in January, I wrote about how I’d gotten my last birthday poinsettia from Mom.

This year on my birthday, my husband and son came home with a beautiful poinsettia for me, and they told the story about how my mom had always given me one on my birthday. The tradition continues.

I love my family.

Posted by Becky @ 10:49 pm | Comments  

Garden

August 28, 2011 | Family,Food,Iowa

Our first cherry tomatoes from the garden.

Posted by Becky @ 6:10 am | Comments  

Apple tree

August 27, 2011 | Family,Food,Iowa

Our apple tree is loaded with apples this year. I’ve got to get into harvest mode soon. I might try making apple jelly this year.

What’s your favorite recipe for apples? Pie? Salad? What’s the craziest apple dish you’ve eaten? Let me know. I love new recipes!

This is one of my new favorites from my aunt. We ate these when we were in Missouri. Yum!

Aunt Carolyn’s Candy Apples
Ingredients
4 apples, peeled and sliced
A little water
Red Hots candy
1/2 cup sugar
Cinnamon

Place sliced apples in a skillet with a little water and heat. Cover with Red Hots. Stir only after juice from apples accumulates. Add sugar and cinnamon. Cook until soft.

Posted by Becky @ 10:30 am | Comments  

Books: States of Mind

August 26, 2011 | Books,Brad Herzog,Family,Missouri

I finished reading States of Mind: A Search for Faith, Hope, Inspiration, Harmony, Unity, Friendship, Love, Pride, Wisdom, Honor, Comfort, Joy, Bliss, Freedom, Justice, Glory, Triumph, and Truth or Consequences in America by Brad Herzog when I was on vacation in Missouri.

While I felt on the same page with him in Turn Left at the Trojan Horse, States of Mind — oddly enough — took me even further into my own “state of mind.”

It made me look at my own life and wonder what I’ve done, where I’ve been and where I’m going. It made me think of regrets, and it brought out a little envy.

I mean, the man wrote this book in his 20s. Did I do that? No. (I started research for one in my early 30s, but I obviously didn’t write that book.) He seemed to have such a clear path for his life. Did I? Never. He admitted that he suffered angst from basically a perfect life. Have I? Oh, I wish.

So, here I am. I’m 46. My mother died in January this year. I am the age my father was when he died 27 years ago today, on Aug. 26, 1984. I was 19, and he was 46. It’s a little weird to be 46 now. I wrote about my dad two years ago on the 25th anniversary of his death.

Think about death much? (It probably doesn’t help that I’m reading Sing them Home and Tinkers, both of which have death as a central issue.) No, actually, I’m thinking about life. My life.

Thanks, Brad.

Coincidence abounds again with States of Mind. And not just within the book.

I’d just started the book as I sat alone in a Mexican restaurant, sipping a margarita. I got there before the lunch rush, and the place was empty. Then the host brought in a couple and seated them right beside me. I looked up and smiled, then turned back to my book. The woman wondered aloud what she should order. She looked over at me, asked if the margarita was good and should she order one? She went on to say they were celebrating their anniversary.

“Oh, which one?” I asked.

“Our 54th.” They were in town from Clarion to get her eyes checked. She’d recently had surgery on them and was happy to be able to read again, she said, pointing at my book.

We had a nice chat.

I remembered that chat when I got to page 104 and learned that Chicken Owen of Pride, Alabama, had been married for 54 years. Not 52. Not 58. Fifty-four.

Coincidence.

One of the topics in his chapter on Hope, Mississippi, was desegregation. That’s what I was researching in my 30s when I decided to find the children my father taught in the first desegregated fifth-grade class in Thomasville, Georgia. I might have even been talking to them when Herzog was interviewing Jerome and Ollie May. We learned something similar.

“We often think of desegregation as an end to a moral struggle, when it was, to many closest to it, the beginning of a practical one. Jerome at the Hope Country Store told me he had quit school for a while when the races were mixed, not out of moral indignation but because of the volatile atmosphere it created. … From an entirely different station in life, Ollie May had developed much the same perspective. ‘I remember that this mother let her daughter to go school, and she got beat up and stuff. That’s when they was tryin’ to mix ’em together then,’ she explained. ‘I said if I ever have any kids, if my kids had trouble, I would just take ’em out. I wouldn’t let them go through that, ’cause I didn’t have to.'” (p. 140)

Coincidence.

In the chapter on Friendship, Maine, he wrote this.

“It was then that I realized what I admired so much about Bill and Caroline Zuber. They were in control of their lives. They had taken it upon themselves to define the moment. It was a concept that became the credo of our cross-country tour and, indeed, a blueprint for our future, so much so that Amy and I turned the journey into a search for a home, setting lofty criteria for the life we wanted to live and looking for an environment that would meet them. … Too many people I know — and these are young people, people with options — seem to settle for entrenched mediocrity, merely tolerating their day-to-day existence. A few even seem to revel in their misery, the late hours or cold winters or tyrannical bosses or shunted dreams. They trudge through fifty weeks of tedium to enjoy two weeks of reprieve — maybe three weeks, if they’re lucky enough to get a promotion. The Zubers decided to make life a vacation.” (p. 277)

That right there? That’s when I wished I could have 25 back and create an organized blueprint for the future, which is where I am now. My “future” is full of late hours and cold winters. I want life to be a vacation. How do I get that? Do I still have options?

Well. Let’s ask Hemingway.

“. . . I thought of Hemingway, of a passage in Death in the Afternoon: ‘There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man’s life to know them, the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.'” (p. 296)

Or, you know, a woman.

But I don’t know.

Maybe I was meant to struggle to learn the important things in life. Maybe I would have learned nothing if I’d had a perfect, non-chaotic life. I mean, I’ve lived through some difficult times, but I also have some amazing memories. You can see some of them on my post from last January, A decade: Are you reelin’ in the years? I wouldn’t trade the memories behind any one of those pictures for a less chaotic life. Not even for a second.

So, yeah, there’s still the issue of long hours and cold winters. But I’ll figure that out. I always do.

Anyway. This book isn’t about me. But I want authors to know how their words can affect readers. Oh, heck. They probably know that because they’re readers, too. In any case, someone else will read this and come away with a whole different experience.

And y’all should read this book.

I highly recommend reading Brad Herzog. He’s a wonderful listener and a gifted storyteller.

Oh and P.S.: While I was reading States of Mind in Missouri, I passed a building with HERZOG in big letters. I’d never seen it before, even though I’ve been to St. Joseph to visit my aunt and uncle many times over the years. I’d also never heard of the name until I picked up Turn Left at the Trojan Horse. I wondered if maybe there were a whole mess of Herzogs living there. But, nope. Listed in the telephone book was just Herzog Contracting Corp. and a Wm. R.

Posted by Becky @ 1:36 pm | Comments  

Praying mantis

August 23, 2011 | Family,Missouri,Summer,Vacation

We sat outside in the heat, enjoying ice cream. I watched this praying mantis leave a garden, cross two lanes of traffic, hop up on the sidewalk and continue past our table. The crowd parted, and it kept going. There must have been a big praying mantis party out behind the Dairy Queen. Either that or she’s a regular customer.

(I know. The pictures suck. I took them with my phone.)

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | Comments  


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