Remembering Violet

1-Violet Yount Schwob-001
Violet

Once upon a time in a small town in Indiana, a young man named Cecil married a young woman named Violet on July 10, 1926. A little more than two years later, Violet died in the fall of 1928 of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 22. Her burial took place at Woodlawn Cemetery in Warren, Indiana. The grave is marked with a simple, small grey tombstone with black lettering.

On Christmas Day of 1930, Cecil married Edith. They were married for over 66 years. My mother is their first-born of four children.

1-Cecil Schwob and car
Cecil

I’m Cecil and Edith’s grandchild. I’ve been doing family history research for a little over a year now, though I’ve been interested in family stories and connections for much longer than that.

IMG_5821
Decoration Day

My mom refers to Memorial Day as Decoration Day. She isn’t alone in this tradition. My Dad’s relatives have a tradition of decorating family graves for Memorial Day. This usually happens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend or a few days before that. Many relatives are buried in just a few cemeteries within a short driving distance. Sometimes there are several cars moving in a caravan from place to place; sometimes there are just one or two cars. Each family grave stone is cleaned. Weeds are pulled. Live flowers are planted or planters hung from hooks. Silk flowers are stuck into the ground. Photos are taken. We often end up at a local restaurant for a fun family lunch afterward.

We missed the decorating day this year, but my mom and I made the trip to Woodlawn on Saturday anyway. We had arranged to meet a couple of cousins there.

Dale Schwob
Dale Schwob, 1909 – 1923 Woodlawn Cemetery Warren, IN

Mom and I happened to park near Violet’s grave. She is buried next to Grandpa’s brother who died of influenza at the age of 17 just a few years before Violet’s death. We have many relatives buried in that area of the cemetery.

Our cousins arrived and we stood talking for several minutes. As we chatted, I noticed a man and a woman walking from a car parked some distance away. They seemed to be making their way directly toward Violet’s grave.

Sure enough, they stopped right in front of her grave marker.

I couldn’t resist asking if they were related to Violet.

The woman looked at me intently and said, “Why are you asking?”

I replied that my grandfather had been married to Violet when she died.

The woman was flabbergasted. Her father was Violet’s brother; Violet had been her first cousin.

I pointed to my mother and said, “Cecil’s daughter is right over there.”

Mom and our cousins came over and everyone got introduced to each other. The woman, Leilani, and Mom had quite a conversation, and shared several reminiscences. They talked about Naomi who was the sole surviving person from that earlier generation. I remembered some of Leilani’s Aunts and Uncles. We had often gone with them and with my Grandparents on fishing vacations at cottages in northern Michigan.

IMG_5786
Mom and Leilani, talking near Violet’s grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Warren, IN.

I asked if Leilani had a photo of Violet. She said no but she would love to have one. I told her I had one and would be very happy to send it to her. Mom asked Leilani if she had any photos of her parents that she could share in return. She readily agreed. We exchanged addresses and promised to send the items soon.

I didn’t hear about “Grandpa’s first wife” until about 30 years ago. Grandpa was in the hospital and I was visiting my Grandmother at her home. She casually mentioned her concern that Grandpa might want to be buried by his first wife instead of beside her. I was shocked and speechless for a few moments. I had no idea he had been married before! My Grandparents had been happily married since 1930 and no one had EVER mentioned a previous marriage or anyone named Violet.

I quietly asked her a few questions. They were young. She was pretty. Her name was Violet. She was a Yount. She died of consumption. They didn’t have any children. She and Grandpa met a few years later and the rest, as they say, is history.

I assured Grandma that I was sure he would want to be buried next to her, not Violet.

So that is why the Yount family has always been close to Mom’s family. I thought they were just friends. The reason was much deeper — they were related by a long ago marriage that ended tragically.

I can’t help thinking — If Violet hadn’t died, my mother would not have been born and by extension, neither would I.

88 years after her death, I’m thankful Violet is remembered and her memory is honored by her family.  I’m thankful for the encounter we had in the cemetery near her grave, discovering relatives in common after so many years.

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Cecil and Violet, marriage certificate July 10, 1926.

 

 

 

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Into the Woods Philosophy

Though it drives our sixteen year old daughter crazy at times, our family often has “deep” discussions after watching movies, plays, musicals and sometimes after viewing art exhibits and the like.

We finally (in our fast-paced-first-world-lives one week after opening seems like “finally”) saw the new Into the Woods movie last night.

I’ve been thinking about various themes from the show —

  1. People make mistakes. So many mistakes.
  2. Even when you think you are doing “the right thing,” people often get hurt.
  3. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for what you believe is right. (Doing this is easier if you don’t have to do it alone; see #4).
  4. Being “in the woods” is confusing, sometimes scary, and often dangerous. Take a friend; don’t go alone.
  5. Actions often bring unintended (far-reaching, severe) consequences.
  6. It is impossible to protect everyone from evil and danger. Bad things happen; even to good people.
  7. Getting what you thought you wanted will not necessarily make you happy.
  8. Lies, deceptions, greed, stealing — never the best way to go.
  9. Beauty does not guarantee a happy life.
  10. Stay on the path? Get off the path to smell the flowers? Not an easy decision.  “Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit….not.” One of my favorite lines!

And I know things now,
Many valuable things,
That I hadn’t known before:
….
And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.
….
Isn’t it nice to know a lot!
And a little bit not.

from “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods, by Sondheim

I by no means exhausted the list of themes from this show.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Scratching the Surface

Be the bridge. Be the light. Be there. image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Be the bridge.
Be the light.
Be there.
image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

This time of year seems to be filled with peace, joy and love… but when the surface is scratched there is often sorrow, pain and sadness.

I’m praying for several very sad, troubling, desperate situations for various friends and families.

Take time to really listen and be there just in case YOU are the one who is the bridge,
the safety net,
the strong hand to hold.

Be kind.
Be patient.
Be light and salt.

Most of all — be there.

Passion

Every once in a while I hear or see an interview that immediately draws my attention and holds it.  Often the topic might be something I know very little about or may be about something obscure or something I am not at all interested in —  but the person speaking about it is SO passionate that I can’t help but care!

Carlos Santana

I heard Carlos Santana in an interview such as this one evening on PBS.  He made quite an impression on me.  He speaks with such insight and obvious passion about his music — about life — about screaming charisma and conviction.

(African Music) It pitches your whole existence into a state of joy that can’t be bought. (It has) intensity of spirit and joy.

Real musicians remind the listener of a forgotten song inside them. And when you hear that forgotten song, you know, you get chills, you get tears, you dance, and you don’t even know why,

Music is to glorify the light in you.

I give a chance to give voice to the invisible ones.

Victory is won already, you know?  And the only enemy is fear.  (They) talked about that a lot. You transform fear with your supreme joy, you know? (Commenting on what he learned from Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu).

Listen to the whole interview here:

 

 

or here:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec13/santana_12-09.html

 

I’m also intrigued by non-famous passionate people.  I enjoy hearing them talk about their work.

In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

An interview I saw on a PBS Newshour last fall completely bowled me over.  This woman’s passion for knowledge and for exploration nearly burst through the TV screen.  I wish every child could have a science teacher like Carolyn Porco,  the leader of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec13/cassini_11-29.html

Read more about the mission and see more photos here.

Saturn and Earth from Cassini. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

 

Tiny Tethys and Saturn’s rings. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

 

Possible variations in chemical composition from one part of Saturn’s ring system to another are visible in this Voyager 2 picture as subtle color variations that can be recorded with special computer-processing techniques. This highly enhanced color view was assembled from clear, orange and ultraviolet frames obtained Aug. 17 from a distance of 8.9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles). In addition to the previously known blue color of the C-ring and the Cassini Division, the picture shows additional color differences between the inner B-ring and outer region (where the spokes form) and between these and the A-ring. The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. NASA/JPL

See?  I got pulled into the vortex!  These images are absolutely stunning and amazing.  Check out more of NASA’s space images here.

 

Speaking of ordinary people who are extraordinary:

If you have never heard this young woman speak, please consider watching at least part of this video.

Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, 16, rose to international fame when she was shot in the head last October for speaking out against the Taliban’s ban on girl’s education. Malala made a remarkable recovery, becoming the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Margaret Warner talks to Yousafzai about her mission. —PBS Newshour.

 

I always enjoy hearing about the “behind the scenes” people — the people in the trenches — the people slogging through some tedious, long, possibly dangerous or nearly hopeless project.  I found this story, featuring the work of National Geographic photographers who happen to be women, intriguing not only because of their obvious passion for their work and for this project but for their insights and the resulting art.

You can read the transcript here.

 

I come to the conclusion that passionate people make the best art.  They make the best music, the best photographs, the best books. They also make pretty terrific teachers, scientists, and well — people in general.

Antique Archaeology (via Facebook)

 

Many of my friends know that I am “hooked” on Antique Archaeology, a TV show featuring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe.  These two guys drive around the country in a white van, looking for “rusty gold” (i.e. what most people would call “junk”) to buy and sell.  I love the show because they are passionate about what they do.  They are passionate about preserving history and historical objects.  They meet interesting and passionate people who care about the same things.  Who knew people could get so excited about rusty old signs and dirty old motorcycles?  I’m drawn to the LOVE they have for what they do, and to the respect they have for each other, for the items they buy and sell, and for the people with whom they deal.

 

 

Another show I admit being “hooked” on is Project Runway.  It is one of those “someone gets cut from the group every week” shows. The premise is fashion designers working on tight deadlines and tight budgets to create fashion forward and on trend garments which meet specific parameters set by the show’s producers and hosts.  The fashions are judged and then the worst and best designs are chosen.  “One day you are in, the next day you are out” is Heidi Klum’s famous line from the show.  The mentor for the designers is Tim Gunn. He is passionate about his job and about helping each of the designers bring the best out of themselves.  The designers are (mostly) passionate about what they do and about what they are creating.  When people care and have a lot at stake, tempers can flare and drama can occur.  But wonderful things can happen as well!  Often kind, wonderful, beautiful moments come about in the midst of all the stress and self-doubt.

 

And because I never seem to know when to stop…a few last thoughts and quotes to leave with you:

Many charismatic and passionate (and famous) people spring to mind: Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Not many of these people would leap to mind as “passionate artists” but they all share a passion for their chosen life’s work —  and for humanity.  Maybe each of these folks will get their own blog post about this topic some time in the future! We shall see.

Jacque Cousteau nearly convinced me to become a marine biologist!

via melanieandbill.com

via 33mediatumblr

via25mediatumblr
viaemediatumblr

 

 

 

 

Roses after Rain

Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Princeton roses after rain, photo by The Tromp Queen, CC license

 

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!

As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I:
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun;
I will luve thee still my dear,
When the sands of life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

I was walking from Princeton University to Westminster Choir College shortly after a brief summer rain. I couldn’t resist taking photographs of some lovely roses as I strolled along the sidewalk. The poem popped into my head as I was cropping the photos.  I realize my roses are not red, but the poem insisted on being included in this post.
 
 
*poem by Robert Burns

I Am in Need of Music

I Am in Need of Music (Sonnet)

poem by Elizabeth Bishop, photos via Flickr Creative Commons
Adam Henning, CC license via Flickr
Adam Henning

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.

Abstract by Art G. CC license via Flickr
Abstract by Art G.

Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

Victoria Falls in Zambia at sunset, by Ryan.  CC license via Flickr
Victoria Falls in Zambia at sunset, by Ryan.

There is a magic made by melody:

Rhythm of Fire by Seth Rader

A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,

Reflection on Johnny's Pond by Sathish JHeld in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

"The pond" by Mikael Tigerström
“The pond” by Mikael Tigerström

 

sonnet by Elizabeth Bishop
I believe I understand what Elizabeth is describing with her words.  Early in my teen years, I discovered that music was a calming force for me.  Not that I always felt or feel calm when I play, but that the act of playing (of creating music) brings me to a calmer state of being.
Is it because my mind stops turning inward or spinning in worried circles?  I focus on the notes and the feel of the keys, the pattern of the chords and melodies — and there is only music.  Is it the physicality of the hand/eye coordination or the wavelengths of sound going through my eardrums into my brain that does it?  Or is it the “Zen”ness of the playing, the feeling of letting myself slip away until I only see and hear and feel the music?
There is healing, of rest, of flow (hence the imagery of water), of stillness, of floating.  Quiet Breath.
I don’t know why it works this way for me, but it truly does.
These are but a few of the many reasons why I will always be in need of music.

You are Magic: March Inspirations 3

image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)

you are magic

I found these wonderful photos on Flickr (Creative Commons). How can one NOT be inspired by these incredibly adorable encouraging messages from this loving child?

Inspirational Wall Slogans from Chennai India

The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest meaning and significance.
The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest meaning and significance.
Light lights another and its light does not grow less.
Light lights another and its light does not grow less.
Look for strengths in people, not weaknesses, for good, not evil.  Most of us find what we search for.
Look for strengths in people, not weaknesses, for good, not evil. Most of us find what we search for.

All Images by McKay Savage; Chennai, India October 2009.

One of Chennai’s lovely quirks of public space are these series of inspirational and motivational wall slogans in several areas of the city. The sequence is from along GN Chetty Road in Chennai as you approach Gemini Flyover and is one of the longest stretches.

You can see more of these wall slogans in McKay Savage’s Flickr Photstream.

March 2 (retroactive March inspiration post)

Final Few February Haiku

This post marks the end of my February Haiku (part of my Joy 365 project).  This was more difficult than the January photos.  I am already behind on March!  I’m not sure what I will be doing with March yet.  Stay tuned, and as always, thank you for reading and following The Tromp Queen!

25 Tues — First rehearsal with area HS students preparing for upcoming district solo/ensemble contests.

image by TTQ
image by TTQ

Singers prepare songs.
First run-through:  a little shy.
Music minds the gaps.

26 Wed — Meet with photographer at Milwaukie’s Art Museum lobby to take head shots for my new job as MCC accompanist.

image by TTQ, CC license -- at Milwaukee Art Museum
image by TTQ, CC license — at Milwaukee Art Museum

Hair, make-up, jewelry:
Head shots at Art Museum.
Carved marble profile?

27 Thurs — Driving across the state from east to west. Going through Pville en route to quilt retreat.

Driving Driftless roads
Passing bluish-white meadows
Trees and cows dot hills.

Tears rush to fill eyes.
I don’t live here anymore.
“Home” is elsewhere now.

28 Fri 

image by lynn Dombrowski attribution, sharealike CC license via Flickr
image by lynn Dombrowski attribution, sharealike CC license via Flickr

Favorite coffee shop:
Time to chat with my dear friend.
Joyful day begins.

quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill CC license
quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill CC license

Next stop: Quilt Retreat.
Bound with stories, tools, advice,
Hugs, laughter, sorrows.

Connections endure:
Souls and voices — we still hear.
Fabric soothes us all.

One Art: 15 years!

image by jennconspiracy via Flickr CC
image by jennconspiracy via Flickr CC

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

image via NichoDesign via Flickr CC
image via NichoDesign via Flickr CC

One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop.  She worked on this poem for 15 years!!!

This fact boggles my mind.

The words and message of this poem speak to me.  I assume this is because I got a lot of practice in the “art of losing” last year.

I can’t decide if Elizabeth is urging us to hold loosely onto the things of this worlds (keys, watches, houses, cities) — to hold onto only the things that matter, though sometimes we lose those things, too.  Or if she is trying to convince herself that losing all these things, including the things she loves most, is no big deal.  Is she saying, “We enter this world alone and leave it alone?”

I prefer the view I’ve spoken about before:  It hurts because it matters.  Saying goodbye to things you love is painful, but taking the risk of loving is worth the chance of being hurt.  I’d rather have things/people who break my heart to leave behind/say goodbye to/lose than to feel alone in the world, unattached and unloved.

A few more thoughts:  I enjoy the rhymes she makes with disaster.  Faster.  Vaster.  Gesture. Fluster.  The repetition of the word disaster adds interesting structure and emphasis.  Each stanza has three lines, except the last which has four.  Hmmmm. Not sure what that means, but if she worked on this for 15 years, she must have had some intention behind it?  Don’t you think?

I’ve gathered a few more of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems.  I’ll share them in future posts.

from Writer’s Almanac Feb 8 2014:

Poet Elizabeth Bishop, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts (2-8-1911). Her father died when she was a little girl. Her mother had an emotional breakdown from grief and spent the rest of her life in various mental institutions. Elizabeth spent most of her childhood moving back and forth between her grandparents in Nova Scotia and her father’s family in Massachusetts.

She was an extremely slow writer and published only 101 poems in her lifetime. She worked on her poem “One Art” for more than 15 years, keeping it tacked up on her wall so that she could rearrange the lines again and again until she got it right. But she was an obsessive letter writer. She once wrote 40 letters in a single day. She said, “I sometimes wish that I had nothing, or little more, to do but write letters to the people who are not here.” A collection of her letters, One Art: The Letters of Elizabeth Bishop, was published in 1994.

February 4: Happiness Haiku

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nexus_6/3017902989/sizes/l/
image via Flickr CC by nexus6

Girls’ choir spins pure tones
Words of comfort, peace and grace:
No tears in heaven.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or sorrow or crying or pain.
All these things are gone forever.
Rev. 21:4
(New Living Translation)

I got a call on Sunday from the Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Children’s Choirs.  Suddenly, they were in need of a replacement (permanent!) pianist.  Thanks to a friend and fellow accompanist, I was recommended and asked to play.

I went to the first rehearsal this evening.  The group of young 3rd to 5th grade girls meets once a week in an absolutely fabulous downtown Youth Arts center.

The room was filled with red t-shirts, snazzy boots and wiggly, smiling girls.  When they sang it was angelic and the room was transformed into a huge gothic cathedral!

The first song they sang with piano accompaniment was a setting of Rev. 21:4.  My heart lurched when I opened the music. Tears sprang into my eyes as I quickly scanned the piece. This verse was one that I held onto two years on this very day — the day my Dad died — the day he fell asleep on the couch in Indiana and woke up in heaven!

He had been sick for so long and had been so miserable. It was a great comfort to me to read these words and to keep them in my mind and heart that week — through the funeral planning, all the visitation hours, through the sorrow, laughter and tears.

So as I sat there in that room with all the that young vibrant musical energy, I was filled with gratitude and joy.

God brought me through. I believe I was sitting in the exact place I was meant to be at that moment.
Thanks be to God!

Be a good neighbor.

Milwaukee River image by TTQ cc
Milwaukee River image by TTQ cc

Be a good neighbor — Re-visited one year later.

Today is the one year anniversary of my first regular post on The Tromp Queen blog.  Click on “Be a good neighbor” here or above to read that post.

(The VERY first one was called “Apparently I can be talked into starting a blog but I don’t really count that one since it was mostly just an announcement of my presence and intentions).

It is also the two-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

I wrote a post about my dad last May as I contemplated Father’s Day without Dad.  The post is “Missing Dad.”

A year later — I’ve written 140 blog posts as The Tromp Queen.  I have 200 followers here.  I’ve made new friends and have enjoyed this whole blogosphere more than I ever imagined.  I recently started a recipe blog, called The Heat is ON!  My family endured a year cram packed with changes.  New job, new city, new home, new schools, new neighbors — new practically everything.

Some things never change.  I still miss Dad, and I always will.  The events of that day and the week after feel simultaneously quite recent and a long time ago.

Thank YOU for reading, commenting, following and most of all for caring.  I hope you’ll continue to hang around for rest of the journey.

It means more to me than you know.

Audio Wake – on being Freshly Pressed and going viral

Audio Wake – on being Freshly Pressed and going viral.

Lucas Draeger wrote a follow up post to his “Crappy Obituary” post.  If his first post touched you — you should read this one, too.

It never was about me. It was about God, bringing people together, as he’s so prone to do. If you are looking for “amazing” and “powerful”, don’t look to me. I could never live up to words so big. Look above. Look above, and while you do so, be you, because the world needs you as you are.

 

From my heart, I thank each person who has shared in this story, and I pray for continued grace and mercy upon Sabrina’s family and friends.

Sorrow prepares you for joy.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddi_07/4684277955/
Image by Eddi via Flickr CC license.

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house,

so that new joy can find space to enter.
It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart,
so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.

Image by James Wheeler via Flickr CC
Image by James Wheeler via Flickr CC

It pulls up the rotten roots,
so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart,
far better things will take their place.”

– Rumi

This Rumi quote has been in my draft posts for quite a while.  I believe I found the quote through Soul Gatherings, and I saved it thinking I might have something profound to say about it eventually.  I chose a few photographs to enhance the imagery and in the process my thoughts got a kick-start.

I do read more (and different meanings) into this quote now than I did last summer, though. The anniversary of my dad’s death is quickly approaching (Feb. 4).  It will be two years since he died, and I find I still have a lot of baggage to sort through emotionally and spiritually.

Dad's funeral flowers, image by TTQ CC
Dad’s funeral flowers, image by TTQ CC

Also, most of you know I’ve been adjusting to (and grieving for what was left behind, really) all the changes this last year brought. I left a home and community of loving, creative, supportive friends after 17 years (and also left our 18-year-old son there to finish his senior year of HS).  I’m still very much up and down in how I’m feeling about and dealing with all of these issues from day-to-day, even now.

This Rumi quote has, at times, made me angry as I browsed past it in my drafts.  “Sorrow prepares you for joy? Yeah, right.  I’d rather avoid the sorrow part, thank you very much.”  I didn’t/don’t want things or people swept violently out of my life then or now — the sorrow is still very present some days.

But then the older and wiser me chimes in.  Yes, I realize sorrow is indeed an integral and unavoidable part of life. Change happens. For better or worse: It happens to us all.

image by Alexander Boyes via Flickr CC
image by Alexander Boyes via Flickr CC

I continue to have Faith and Hope.
I always believe that I’m going to slog through it,
that I will find equilibrium again,
that the fog will eventually lift.

image by OnceandFutureLaura, via Flickr CC
image by OnceandFutureLaura, via Flickr CC

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. 
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.*

I’ve watched nature programs enough to know that after devastating, ravaging forest fires come meadows of lush new grass and rich swaths of wildflowers.

My internal voice gives me encouraging words:

Dawn over Webster Lake, image by TTQ CC license
Dawn over Webster Lake, image by TTQ CC license

The darkest hour comes just before dawn.

Olbrich Gardens, image by TTQ CC
Olbrich Gardens, image by TTQ CC

Weeping may last through the night,
but Joy comes in the morning.
(Ps. 30:5 NLT)


Arboretum Gardens in Madison WI, image by TTQ CC
Arboretum Gardens in Madison WI, image by TTQ CC

For everything there is a season, 
a time for every activity under heaven. —
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.**

first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc
first leaves, late March at Gov Dodge SP, image by TTQ cc

On the positive side, I am on alert for the new green leaves and roots: both figuratively and literally.

Literally, I planted a lot of spring blooming bulbs in our new yard. I will be thankful and happy when I see them.  I look forward to fragile new growth as summer follows spring, as the roots and leaves grow larger and greener each day.

UW Madison Arboretum, image by TTQ CC
UW Madison Arboretum, image by TTQ CC

Figuratively, I have made some small forays to find and make friends and to begin to send out roots and branches (creatively, musically and otherwise).

I am thankful for each of you who read my blog.  Many of you have been hanging in here with me for pretty much the whole year I’ve been at this.  I appreciate the friendships that have sprung up, the emotional and creative support and inspiration I gather (and hopefully share), and the incredibly kind and thoughtful comments exchanged.

I just tried to find a comment from many months ago that has stuck in my mind.  I looked through all the pages of comments from all my posts and could not find it. I’m not sure who said it, but I DO remember the meaning of it.  I must have either posted something very short or re-blogged something I found interesting but did so saying I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or time to share them because of the move and all the goodbyes and such — and someone very kindly said (and I’m paraphrasing): That’s fine.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be here waiting for you on the other end of it.  When things get back to normal, we will be here ready to hear about it.  

Thank you for caring.

*lyrics by James Taylor from “Fire and Rain.”
**excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3, New Living Translation.

Praise What Comes

Praise What Comes

Unexpected Kiss, Marco Lazzarin image via Flickr CC license.
Unexpected Kiss, Marco Lazzarin image via Flickr CC license.

surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
that lets you work in many kinds of weather. Praise

Image by Indi Samarajiva via Flickr CC license
Image by Indi Samarajiva via Flickr CC license

talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals, books
that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks before sleep. Praising these for practice, perhaps

you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
and only a few very simple questions: did I love,

finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
of the many names of God? At the intersections,
the boundaries where one life began and another

ended, the jumping-off places between fear and
possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?

~ Jeanne Lohmann ~

The poem comes from Jeanne Lohmann’s 2003 collection, “The Light of Invisible Bodies.”  This remarkable woman recently celebrated her 90th birthday AND published her 10th collection of poems.

Love in the room

This is beautiful. From the mouths of babes….love is what is in the room with you.

Image

Remember how I mentioned that we only open one present at a time at Christmas? This photo is from last year. I love it so much because it shows the joy and anticipation on everyone’s face whilst the recipient is unwrapping. And after the gift has been unwrapped there are thankyou kisses and hugs all over the room. 🙂

Christmas is all about love. 🙂

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