A Prayer for Radiant Beauty

The Supreme prayer of my heart is not to be learned, rich, famous, powerful or even good, but simply to be radiant. I desire to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and good-will. I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural, clean in mind and clean in body, unaffected – to say ‘I do not know,’ if it be so, and to meet all men on an absolute equality, to face any obstacle and meet every difficulty unabashed and unafraid. –Elbert Hubbard

 

Sunny’s Miracle

The last time we saw Sunny, the chipmunk who had only a stub left of her tail, was a few days after our wedding in September. According to my research chipmunk’s tails do not grow back. As you can see in the photo above from last summer, whatever happened to Sunny caused her to lose not just her tail but the fur around it. Because the other chipmunks went underground for their winter torpor at the same time (one to two months earlier than the year prior) I was confident then that she was safe in her burrow. Even though I hadn’t seen her this spring I wasn’t giving up since we’ve had so many cold rainy days that it has felt more like March than May.

This morning after more days of cold rain the sun rose and quickly warmed things. I still had seen no sign of her, even after I walked over to her house entrance and called her name.  Not long afterward I was standing in my backyard speaking with a salesman about an estimate when Sunny suddenly appeared (after Buster had followed me around like a little puppy and Tailor tried to chase him away)! However, what I saw next filled with such hope and joy that I had to share it with you here!

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Happy Easter!

Buster was out early this morning before the rain and feasted on a slice of Mandarin orange and sunflower seeds. We went to church, enjoyed a lovely service and coffee hour before we came home to a simple Easter luncheon, the menu for which is now a tradition since we enjoyed it so much last year.

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Good News For Wounded Souls

“God will not look you over for Medals, Degrees or Diplomas, but for Scars!” -Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard

I’ve learned that time does NOT heal all wounds but God loves them and us! There can be beauty in a graceful brokenness when we use God as a crutch. But wait, isn’t needing a “crutch” a sign of weakness?! YES! Aren’t we weak when we’re left to only our own devices? I choose spiritual prowess over destructive earthly vices I’ve given up. I no longer feel ashamed about my scars, a shame which fueled a lot of my destructive crutches (smoking, drinking, overeating). I’m not ashamed to say I’m in recovery, my last drink being almost twenty-five years ago. I’m cool with not being cool. My deepest scars are invisible, although I do have, shall I say, an “oven kiss” on my hand I acquired while removing a lasagna from the oven last fall.

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Grace Before Meals For This Recovering Ingrate

When I first started “eating retro” and lost weight over ten years ago I was leaving behind the tyranny of an insatiable appetite which seemingly stemmed from two issues: my relationship to food and eating junk. Underlying the usual analysis of overeating and weight loss was that I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? Because I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted when I wanted without consequences. I was also attached to the illusion that a lifestyle of eating too much, especially sugar and refined carbs was somehow good for my soul. I mistook edible artifice for nourishment. I was always “hungry” but was feeding the wrong appetite. I was focused on eating all the things instead of seeing all the gifts from a healthy relationship to and with food. Why would I, right? Shouldn’t I be entitled to unlimited access to what was mine? Did God put food on my table? No! I worked hard to put that food on the table, and why even talk about God when all I wanted was an Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

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The Mysterious Brilliance of Chipmunks

Every sunny day beginning mid-February I’ve been looking outside my kitchen window for a sure sign of spring: a chipmunk on the deck. Our three friends, Claude, Buster and Sunny had not been seen since a couple of days after our wedding in September. The neighborhood chipmunks went underground much earlier last fall than the year prior, when they were out and about until November and reemerged in February/early March. Even at the boatyard a few towns over Wayne reported the same: no more chipmunk sightings by late September and none to date. So instead of going into a burrow for three months, it’s been SIX!

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A Degree of Mischief at University of Vermont

The college admissions scandal has highlighted what some have referred to as “affirmative action for the wealthy.” As I mention on my “about” page, I grew up in subsidized housing but went to an Upper East Side prep school with the aid of a scholarship. My freshman year of college was spent at Bennington College, also via scholarship before transferring to the University of Maine in Orono. It was too painful for me to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes. 

Then, once at grad school at UVM I lived in a tiny house in the woods complete with big spiders* (steel-toed Doc Martens are a form of organic pest control) and was fortunate to have been awarded an assistantship for two years which paid my tuition in full and gave me a small stipend. However, that also meant my days began at 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home sometimes until 10 at night. Even so, my most valuable life lesson learned wasn’t a part of my curriculum, but in a playground.

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Immersion in the Moment

I love the winter wind like no other. I need to go to the beach at night when the cold air is cool mint with hints of salt. I need to be alone. I wondered if no one else showed up here because it was so real. People were drawn into their TVs and computers. I plugged into something real. I needed to, the way things were going. I felt like the ocean would not give up on me, and I wasn’t at all dissuaded by its indifference, drawing things in and spitting them out years later, bony and white. -Me when I lived across the street from the sea, pre-internet, 1993

One of the things I gave up for Lent is Facebook which has helped me revert back to enjoying “empty” places and moments in time. The void has left room for hearing the quieter thoughts within. One doesn’t have to spend much time on Facebook to obliterate those gems that don’t announce themselves in a feed. As an example, when I’m waiting in line at the grocery or early for an appointment I’m not opening the app on my phone. I’m tuning into more ethereal and earthly things, just like I used to back in the day. I’ve missed it!

Vintage Recipe: Fish Friday New England Chowder

Thanks to the Maine Rebekahs, whom I consider to be some of the greatest New England home cooks who have also provided almost 100 years of recipes, you can make a winning, traditional New England fish chowder. I’ve adapted this simple, frugal 1920s recipe to make it meat-free since New England fish chowders almost always contain pork in addition to seafood. Wayne said that he wouldn’t have noticed its absence based upon how flavorful this is. Truly it’s so easy to make yet it will produce a chowder that will make you feel like a seasoned New England cook.

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