December 29, 2014

It is December 28, 2014. The month of December was short this year. Today is the first day to sit and listen to music by the tree. Candlelit room. What happened?

It may not be the best time to write. I suddenly feel a cold coming on. Scratchy throat. Clogged ears. Stuffy head.

Curt has complained of a head cold since before Juliana’s family left yesterday. Perhaps I am getting what i deserve for not being more sympathetic.

But the screech. Is that the sound of meetings, lesson plans, weekend activities, church events, organizing the house, trimming the tree, shopping, wrapping, baking, planning–all of it coming to a halt? A screeching halt? I was depressed yesterday. I received word of a childhood friend’s death. I read a lovely description someone had written about meals around the Kaestner table. I wondered if anyone would or could write anything so lovely about my hospitality.

We don’t give dinners. We live alone. We do not seek out folks. I love seeing them at the post office or on walks around town, but to ask them to dinner? No. Is that what the Lord refers to when he says we should welcome strangers? Is that what I need to do to share the light of Christ? Is that the only way I am going to have a conversation in my house about anything but the weather? That is really what I long for. I don’t think I honestly am looking for someone to write about me and my hostessing. I know I am good at cooking and bringing about a fine meal, but what about a spontaneous dinner? Could I do that and not think too much about all those details?

The Times wrote about a dinner party in which everyone brought something or even cooked it at the host’s home. How about that? When guests ask what they might bring to such a dinner, they are asked what they would like to bring, what they like to cook. The plans proceed from there, probably with some thought given to what the host/hostess want to supply in the first place. What do you think? Could I do it? Could I stop editing any potential guest list? Could I just let Christ make the list and set the date?

I need so much help in life lately. Where is that angel who comes in a dream and tells me where I need to go to be safe and to be walking in the Light. I am not certain this prayer of Thomas Merton’s is encouraging for me right now or not:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”


hello again

November 30, 2014

The conversation behind me spoke of living in Albuquerque for 19 years and I wondered what it would feel like to live anywhere for 19 years. Are any of my children set to do that? To be settled and to have people know them, really know them. Not just the ‘hello, how are you?’ kind of knowing. When life has been lived in fourteen different homes and the children’s toys are in boxes and they do not come home to the rooms of their youth, we are left to look around and see that a settled life is maybe a myth. Yes, the folks on Sunday morning do look as if they have it all together. And essays and memoirs about growing up are lovely to read for the detailed scrapbook of earlier days they present, but everyone must get up in the morning and look around. As the long-time residents have their work, the work they have volunteered to do for years and years and over which they seem to have some pride of ownership, the rest of us—the newcomers also have work to do. It is for us to find the other outsiders. That term may seem negative, but it is the way we feel next to the people who are on first name basis with people we do not know. The other ‘outsiders’ are waiting. They may have given up hope. They may have given up on being recognized at the grocery store or even walking down the street. It is for us who know what that feels like to say, ‘hello.’


July 11, 2011

I had always used my first laptop to post to this blog. That machine has forgotten how to access the Internet here at home. It knew my password for the site. I did not. Today, the Lord has been gracious and given me the time and space to remember this is what I needed to do, to remember my original username, and to see my way through the reset process. None of it was difficult. No, no, let me rephrase that. Today, none of it was difficult. And life begins anew. Today.

how did this happen?

July 14, 2010

At one point in time, my family starved during September and October. I was watching baseball at dinnertime. We lived on the West Coast and the games started early.

Now I don’t even know this is the week of the All-Star break.

I also probably don’t know any of the all-stars.

I grew up with a father who followed the St. Louis Cardinals. In a living room, dark after the summer’s late twilight, Dad would sit and listen each night to Harry Carey’s play-by-play. If it was an afternoon game, the radio could be heard at the back of his store. When I visited my grandfather in St. Louis, we went to Sportsman’s Park for a Cardinal game and he taught me how to keep score. I am certain Grandpa lived as long as he did because his team kept winning in October. We never owned any Cardinal memorabilia. It was a different kind of head and heart thing.

Baseball is a beautiful game. As an adult I loved it for reasons that sound really hokey. I watched the Orioles and their rookie, Cal Ripken, as I was ironing in Virginia and my oldest was doing his own play-by-play outside with a tennis ball thrown against a tennis playback net. I watched the As on sunny afternoons that are particular to Northern California. The children and I could get into games for $2 and a Sprite can. An empty one. We could walk into the team offices and touch their World Series trophies. That’s where we bought season tickets after my parents moved to the area. Dad always wanted to get to the game in time for the first pitch. Most of the time, he went with one of the boys to the games. I am certain he was as excited as they were with the anticipation of a win for their team.

Dad also said that baseball would break your heart. He was talking about the team you love not winning when you want them to or when they need to or when they should have won.

How is it that I can have lost that caring about a team? I am definitely on the injured/disabled fan list.

I can change that.  But Dad was right it might break my heart.

open space

July 13, 2010

She got up and left just now. It was like one of those times when you were revisiting a place you have been before but not quite certain you are at the exact place you remember. And then you turn a corner and there it is. The exact place. Since she has lived here for the past two years and especially this year, I have not had time on the porch by myself very often. And when I do, it is in the very early morning or late evening. Make no mistake, I still treasure the time sitting here with her. She shares her thoughts and opinions, reads from interesting articles in the times or reviews the book she is currently reading. Her 90-year-old mind is working.  But now that she is inside making her bed, I am alone in the mid-morning on the porch. It is the exact place I remember.


July 9, 2010

It’s late. Or early. I want to be asleep, but I don’t want to go to sleep. There are nights when I lie in bed and think. Not consciously about bad things, just lots of things. My days don’t have idle brain time. I wrote about what I did yesterday. Looked as if I had plenty of time to cogitate, but there is an element of time that is not measured linearly. Time that has bookends has difficulty supporting thoughts and activities that do not always have a definitive beginning or end. So it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I am more relaxed than I am a 2;30 in the afternoon. I am on the porch. I am so happy to be on the porch. It is a place where I can be alone surrounded by endless time. And two street lights. And crickets.

an American in Paris

June 23, 2010

my son. the seeker. the encourager. the dreamer. may the Lord bless and keep you. may your days be filled with wonder and your steps be guided with wisdom. and what else? God alone knows.

it’s a man’s world

June 21, 2010

I loved handing the telephone to my husband all day. It was Father’s Day and the children–and grandchildren–and a son-in-law–wanted to talk with the man, the papa, the dad, the father. I had bought a card and wrote a rabbling note on it. I went from saying he was a guiding light to having fun and laughing a lot to whatever. It was difficult to put my thoughts on paper. On the one hand, it is so very easy to see where he is challenged in domestic tasks. On the other hand, being a father is not easy. You go to work where you have some degree of control and know what you are doing. You come home and there is cooking and laundry and cleaning to be done. Each job requires a new vocabulary that is probably not used at work. New tools. Often not very manly tools. And someone else in the house seems to do these jobs very easily. And then, there are the children. More new vocabulary. And why aren’t they doing what you used to do to have fun? Why do they laugh when I call the vacuum a sweeper? And what is a wii?

The man deserved every good thing about today. He means the world to me.

what was I thinking?

June 19, 2010

In a photograph of 20 family members, what do you see? For years and perhaps for generations, people will look at that photo from Saturday night and what. Our inclination is to think they will try to identify everyone in the photo. Good. Not easy after a few decades and especially since we are not standing in neat rows like in school. What else? They will quickly identify it as the picture taken at Grandma Mueller’s 90th birthday weekend. It will appear on everyone’s mantle at some point or at least surface in everyone’s picture drawer.

What will not be seen are the sounds and synapses. They will not be able to hear the voices, the thunder of the storm outside, the nervous laughter at small jokes being quietly shared while we wait.  And then, click. Take another picture. Click, click.

The sounds are easily described. Synapses, thoughts are more difficult. In looking at the picture, I of course look at myself. Shouldn’t have been sitting on the stool. Too dominate in the picture. Does my scarf look okay? What about my hair? I like my shoes.

And then I look around. And like a Buddhist monk, everything becomes one. I don’t look at hair or clothes or shoes. As family pictures go, it is quite ordinary I think. Many people  take pictures. Most  have big family events. But I know these people around me and they know me. We are more than names on Christmas cards. We are writing the same story even though the chapters, the characters, the setting, and the plot differ.  Right now and perhaps for the years to come, because of this weekend and this captured moment, we will write the same story. Different chapters, characters, settings, and plots. But the same story.

I never thought that would happen.

So in the picture,


June 16, 2010

First day of summer is like Friday night. Plenty of time. Everything is possible. And then suddenly it is Sunday night or late August  and there is so much left to be done. There is something to be said for relaxing and not having a to-do list or a schedule, but there is also satisfaction in accomplishing tasks that have been put off over the winter, or even over the last year. This summer I want to write an essay each week. I will go to my classroom each week. I have paper details that hang around me and need to be attended to with prayer. Ah, that’s another thing. More prayer. Walking more. A little trip each week with Mother. Neighbors? A party sometime–have to ask if the Rago midsummer party is happening this year and if I must work around it. Church? Contact the literacy person as well as the Jeremiah’s table person. Sit on the porch. Sit on the back porch. Eat properly. Help Curtis eat properly. Date night with Curt each week and help him in the garden. Plan trip to St. Louis. Actually I have to do that today. Simplify house. More time in the Bible. More time following the Son.

summertime and the living is easy.