A hole in the fence.

There is a gaping hole in the picket fence that once stood happily defining the edge of my front yard.  It’s a place where the wood has simply degraded and fallen away.  I find it significant that it happened under the weight and consequence of great beauty:  an old and beloved honeysuckle vine that rested there for decades finally had its way with it. more “A hole in the fence.”

Quincy barks YES.

Quincy is a very literal sort of dog.  And he takes things personally.  He’s more agreeable than well trained, although he’s rather opinionated.  He tries very hard, but is shy.  Loyal to a fault.  Vulnerable and naive and not terribly brave, but compellingly sincere.

Quincy is the kind of dog who barks first and asks questions later.  Particularly when anyone comes to my house.  No matter how often they may visit, how well he may know them, male or female, young or old or anywhere in between, he announces their arrival well and loudly.  He announces it to me, to them, to himself, to most of the neighbors:  “They’re here!”  He barks it at the top of his voice.   more “Quincy barks YES.”

Frodo: from racehorse to war horse to home.

It was nearly half a decade ago. Yet I remember – I will forever remember – the day I met a horse named Frodo.  

It was on the grounds of the Aiken Equine Rescue, and Frodo was a participant in the remarkable Saratoga WarHorse program conducted there – an equine-based, peer-to-peer, veterans program that addresses the unseen wounds of military posttraumatic stress and off-the-track Thoroughbreds. I wrote about Frodo then, as I will write about him now. more “Frodo: from racehorse to war horse to home.”

Getting used to the pain.

“Go ahead.  Underestimate me.  That’ll be fun.”

I read that on a tea towel somewhere and related to it whole heartedly.  Now, however, I want to rewrite it slightly to say:  “Go ahead.  Tell me I’m getting old.  That’ll be fun.”  Especially when you’re trying to convince me that the pain I have been experiencing lately is due to aging.  And that it just has to be accepted as such.

I think not. more “Getting used to the pain.”

Stones of the heart.

They’re called worry stones.  Soothing stones … palm stones … thumb stones.  

Smoothed and shaped by moving water, the Greeks chose such stones from the sea.  In Tibet, they were claimed from melting snows and high mountain river beds.  In Ireland they were most often picked up from the edges of ancient lakes.  Native Americans selected them not only for themselves, but to hand down from one generation to the next – creating a sense of sacred connectedness, of unbroken peace and symbolism to be forever cherished.  

The most prized of these stones have always been quartz. more “Stones of the heart.”

Be the gift.

“Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone whose life you enter.  Be careful not to enter another’s life if you cannot be a gift.”

These lines were written by Neale Donald Walsch in “Conversations With God:  An Uncommon Dialogue.”  They spoke to my heart, my memories, my imagination.  They are the kind of words I clip out and file away and think about from time-to-time when contemplation is good company.  The kind of words that come back to me sometimes at the oddest moments.

Such was the case a few days ago when Quincy the dog stepped in my eye.  All 72 pounds of him.   more “Be the gift.”

Remnants of a life at the side of the road.

I saw the thin black ties of the apron first.  They were draped rather languidly along the edge of the road.  The apron itself was nearly hidden in a grassy dip in the ground off to the side, leading into the mouth of a drain pipe.  The all-black color of the apron helped to disguise it.  Even the dog had not noticed it as we walked the small neighborhood street. 

With a closer look, the apron was easily recognized as a restaurant-style server’s apron – smallish, oblong, with pockets sewn all across its lap for holding pens and order slips, notes about specials, and tips paid in cash.  Picking it up, I discovered the apron pockets were still filled with pens – at least a dozen of them.  

And then, just a few steps farther on, there lay a black plastic restaurant check folder.  Within the folder was a nearly full pad of order forms; two of which still contained orders.   more “Remnants of a life at the side of the road.”

Scraps of peace, hope, and possibilities.

It began in the mid-1800s – when Christmas trees were capturing imaginations and holiday spirits throughout all of England, and catching hold with equal enthusiasm in America.  

All manner of pine trees were being harvested from their native woods and carried homeward – hauled behind horses or by hand, dragged up front steps, and stuffed through the doorways of castles and cottages alike.  They were being joyfully thrust into the very heart and hearth of family traditions.  And, once inside, they were placed just so – to delight and be decorated and danced around.  They transported the beauty of the natural world into a sort of happy collision with civilized interiors. more “Scraps of peace, hope, and possibilities.”

One hundred and five Christmases.

Once upon a time, Christmas sparkled.  It glittered like new snow and winter stars.  It whispered with secrets, and sang out with joy to the world, and smelled of pinecones and wood fires.  It was as brilliant as red ribbons curling around unopened paper-wrapped packages.  And it was filled with grace and truth, vulnerability and hope. more “One hundred and five Christmases.”