Give and Take with Cake

“Let them eat cake!” That’s what newly weds and their guests do at wedding receptions. At 9 ½ minutes after three o’clock on August 5, 1967, I fed my groom a huge mouthful of cake, and he returned the favor more gingerly ten seconds later, if the clock on the wall is any indication.

WeddingCakeCliff

WeddingCakeMe

We are on the verge of celebrating our 49th anniversary. Like the seventh note in an octave, we are almost there, but have not yet reached the golden mark.

How have we gotten this far without hitting the skids? I could make a long list of suggestions, but right now I have only one:

Watch Your Words

Cake is sweet to the tongue just as our words should be to one another. Words have power. Let your spouse or partner hear “please” and ”thank you” every day. Sarcasm is out. Surely contempt must go. Public humiliation, a big NO!

  1. Say “Yes” as often as humanly possible.
  2. Wait for the best time to make a request, offer a suggestion. Everyone needs 5-10 minutes to decompress after walking through the door. Let your spouse have time to breathe before requiring a response.
  3. Once a day, notice the positive out loud: the way they look, something they’ve said, or done.

Michael Hyatt, author and speaker, affirms that “Marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. (“Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse is So Important”)

Ever the tip and list maker, Hyatt in another post shares his recipe for how to become your spouse’s best friend. Many of items on the list regard minding our words, for example: “Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day. Speak well of me when I am not present.”

“Listen without judging or trying to fix me.”

Humorist Ogden Nash adds a dash of rhyme and reason to the mix:

If you want your marriage to sizzle

With love in the loving cup.

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it.

Whenever you’re right, shut up!

And finally, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  

~ Colossians 4:6, New Revised Standard Version

 

Light a Candle

CandleWedding

This candle first flickered and then burned brightly on a pedestal at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The candle came with instructions to burn for one hour on our anniversary date. Some years the candle probably has shone for more than an hour. But we may have even skipped a year or two. Nevertheless, the long, tapered candle is very short and stubby now. Yet the flame still burns brightly.

Whether you are married or not, on this day I light a candle for you and whatever family relationship is most important in your life.

 

CandleDiningRoom

 

Your thoughts, recollections, or advice are welcome here. Thank you!

 

Coming next: Drawing on Love: A Brief Retrospective

Through a Glass Darkly: Anniversary # 48

This week Cliff and I celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary. We are not experts on marriage by any means, but we have learned a thing or two about

  • navigating its mysteries and
  • negotiating the best for both

 

  • PragueCubeSidePragueCube

We sometimes see through a glass darkly

Image captured in a 3-D hologram cube created via laser – visit to Prague, Czech Republic 2006

(Nothing dramatic happened in Prague except black light shows with marionettes. If you want wild and crazy drama, you’ll have to click here!)

I Corinthians 13, American Standard Version
I Corinthians 13, American Standard Version

For now we see in a mirror, darkly . . . But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the greatest of these is LOVE.

* * *

Poet James Dillet Freeman expressed his view of the mystery of marriage In “Blessing for a Marriage” in at least 8 ways:

  1. May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
  2. May you want one another, but not out of lack.
  3. May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
  4. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another.
  5. May you succeed in all important ways with one another / And not fail in the little graces.
  6. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!”
  7. And take no notice of small faults.
  8. If you have quarrels that push you apart / May both of you hope to have / Good sense enough to take the first step back.

In the last last stanza he concludes:

May you enter into the mystery which is

The awareness of one another’s

Presence — no more physical than spiritual,

Warm and near when you are

Side by side, and warm and near when

You are in separate rooms

Or even distant cities.

May you have happiness,

And may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

Cliff & Marian_Wedding Day_96dpi

Here’s where you can share your own tips or observations.

Do You Like to Color?

Have you heard? Coloring books for adults are all the rage right now.

According to Parade magazine (July 12, 2015), apparently hundreds of coloring books are available now to help you “cheer up, chill out, and get your creative juices flowing.”

50 Shades of Happy: The New Joy of Coloring is the catchy title of one of the books in the coloring book gallery.

Recently, I’ve spotted this trend in some posts on Facebook. And then last week my good writer friend and blog buddy Marylin Warner devoted a whole piece to the enchantment of coloring pages for adults, citing the magazine above. Because she included some links to free downloadable pages, I decided to take the challenge and print a page. After all, who doesn’t want to

  • Be in the moment
  • Engage both sides of the brain, the creative and tactile
  • Go back and enjoy a simpler time

Here’s how I played with color:

coloringPagePosh

Technically, it’s unfinished, but that was not really the point. Choosing the colors and applying them to paper put me in a different world. As I filled in the curly spaces, I felt both relaxed and focused. It put in touch with the girl and the box of 48 pointy Crayolas.

* * *

In June I met a new friend, Julie Sisco, who introduced me to Praying in Color, another way for both youth and adults to use color creatively. And, yes, the author, Sybil MacBeth, suggested using supplies you may already have at home: colored pens, pencils, markers, even crayons.

Sybil MacBeth has created an active, visual, and meditative way to pray: Active because you draw your prayers, visual because you see your prayers, and meditative because you revisit your prayers throughout the day.

Author Sybil MacBeth is a dancer, a doodler, and a former community college mathematics professor. As the author of Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God (2007), she combines her experience in the mathematics classroom with her lifelong love of prayer to offer workshops and retreats that engage differing learning styles. Praying in Color has been translated into Korean, Spanish, and Italian. (blurb from back cover)

PrayColorCover

She invites a variety of personality types to think of prayer in a new way:

  • Visual or kinesthetic learner
  • Distractible or impatient soul
  • Word-weary pray-er
  • Short-attention span
  • Restless body type
  • Tendency to live in one’s head

MacBeth includes some examples of what a prayer map may look like and the instructions are simple.

Write the name of someone you want to encircle in love and concern. In a curvilinear model, draw colored designs around the name. Add more names and loops easily as you go along.

3-NamePict

Or use a square style and a different color palette

squareTemplate

Your sketches could also be adapted to illustrate verses of scripture

PrayingScriptures

(All examples from Sybil’s book.)

Author MacBeth is quick to mention that “Praying in color does not presume a particular religious belief” though she is a Christian.

“It is a way of preparing the soil of my heart for possibly receiving the touch of a power greater than myself.” (87)

What do you think of adult coloring books? The idea of praying in color?

How do you use color creatively? Join the discussion here.

joyColorCover

Up next: Moments of Extreme Emotion – A Lunatic in London

4 Months, 4 Gifts: A Tribute to My Dad

March 1986:  Mom and Dad Longenecker visit the families of my sister Janice and me in Jacksonville, Florida. We all enjoy Epcot in Disney World, Dad’s chance to see a faux version of the Switzerland he never actually visited but planned to some day. My super-charged Dad seems more mellow now, slower, even takes naps. “Hey, Dad, I see you’re getting a pooch here,” says son-in-law Cliff, commenting on my dad’s weight gain as he playfully pinches his waistline.

DadEpcot

April 1986:  We get a call from Pennsylvania, “Dad has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Blood cell tumors have developed in the lymphatic system. Stage 4 . . . it’s too advanced to operate . . . they can try chemotherapy, maybe radiation after that  . . . .” Like an earthquake, the news sends shock-waves through our family. Why, we just saw him a month ago.

May 1986:  My father is now dying of lymphoma. I leave my husband and children and fly up to Pennsylvania, alone, to see him alive for the very last time. He looks nothing like my image of him in March. His skin, scorched red-brown from chemotherapy, reminds me of a starving Indian. He is wasting away. “I don’t want to live like this,” he says, calling a halt to the treatment. Too weak to climb to the upstairs bedroom, he reclines now almost motionless on the pull-out bed in the living room, a solitary pillow under his head. On May 17 his 71st birthday comes and goes.

My flight south leaves a few days later. This is probably the last time I will see my father in this life. I approach him to say goodbye, and I add: “I love you, Daddy.”

June 18, 1986  Daddy breathes his last, less than three months after his cancer diagnosis. We get the dreaded call and make plans to drive north for the funeral. My mind flits around in reminiscence.  And then leaps forward with prediction: Now Dad won’t be attending the ceremony where I receive my Master’s degree in December. He won’t stand up to be photographed at any of his grand-children’s weddings or get to play with his great-grandchildren any more. At age 71, he has reached his heavenly home.

Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old this year, like Aunt Cecilia.

DadFuneralFront

DadFuneralInside

On this Father’s Day nearly 30 years later, I pause to give thanks for the gifts my father has given me:

1. Love of nature  He went on walks in the wide meadows and sun-dappled woods close to Rheems, PA on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes I went with him.

2. Love for music   He played a banjo, guitar, and piano with gusto and bought me a violin. Music has formed the sound-scape of my mind since then.

3. Intellectual curiosity  He perused US News and World Report and The Wall Street Journal, listened to Edward R. Murrow, Paul Harvey, and Lowell Thomas, engaged in conversation about world events.

4. Value of hard work  There was the tomato field, the sweet potato plot, the shop . . . .

Framed needlework above one of the kitchen doors in Grandma Longenecker's house
Framed needlework above a kitchen door in Grandma Longenecker’s house

Exodus 20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  (King James Version)

My father’s deep faith in God included honoring his own parents.

* * *

Thank you for your thoughts on Father’s Day 2015. You always make the conversation richer!

Two Mennonite Girls: a Cross Country Road Trip, continued

 

1964_Monkey postcard_Orderville UT

The postcard says Metzie and Molly if you look closely, but Joann and I were unofficially known as Mighty Metz and Sister Styx, the dashing duo that rode in the back seat of a Chevy Impala on a road trip with Joann’s parents, John and Mary Metzler.

Feeding a hooded squirrel at a stop off in Glacier National Park

Web_1964_Marian feeding squirrel_Close up

Our Southern route included the cotton fields of Alabama . . .

Web B_Joann-and-cotton

. . . and Rock City, Georgia with a view of seven states

Web_Seven-States

 . . . and a tapering Falls

Web B_Marian-at-Falls

 

How I Paid for This Trip: I wrote an adult study series for Herald Press during May and June of 1964 for which I was paid $500.00. I brought cash and Traveler’s Cheques. Credit cards like the Diner’s Club Card were in circulation back then, but we didn’t have any. Actually, like many Mennonites, we thought credit cards were a little shady because of the possibility of misuse.

 

Frugality, Joann’s and Mine: 

  • Joann says to her mother in Canyonville, Oregon: “Mom, give me the map, let’s stop at some little hick place for dinner. Then I’ll have money to buy some more myrtle wood!”

 

  • In Oregon, I remark to Joan: “Boy, oh, boy, my future husband will have a wife who can keep on a budget, thank goodness!” Little did I know my future husband Cliff was living not so far away in California at the time.        

 1964_Marians Out West_Meals+Motels

Joan and I alternated weeks in paying room costs. I paid tolls and park entrance fees  instead of gas, which was probably less than 30 cents per gallon then.

I remember paying 50 cents to drive through a redwood tree!

 

We both kept diaries and photo logs. Mine looks battered and torn. Still, there’s a record.

1964_Marians Out West_Photo notebook

Church: We attended a service at the Mormon Tabernacle but the choir was missing, gone to the World’s Fair. Ugh . . . so disappointing!

Web_Mormon-Tabernacle

  • I was accosted by a Mormon guy in the tabernacle gift shop: He thought I was Israeli and mistook my black bonnet for a feminine yarmulke and tried to convert me to Mormonism.
  • We also visited Sweet Home Mennonite Church in Oregon with Rev. Orie Roth, pastor.

 

Sin: We drove by garish casinos and hotels down Main Street, Las Vegas. Among the glitter and glitz of sky-high, flashy neon lights, we noticed advertisements for $ 10.00 weddings. Do you think people got married drunk? we wondered.

 

Western Hospitality: On our way to Sequoia National Park we pulled off the road and discovered a friendly guy mowing his lawn. Thus we met the Shaefers. Mr. Schaefer showed Uncle John his orange grove, and Mrs. Schaefer loaded us up with a 12’ x 15’ box of peaches, oranges, two bags of grapes, 2 bags of oranges, and a quart of raisins she had picked/dried herself.

Web_John-and-orange

Thanks to the miracle of “General Delivery,” I got mail from home at planned intervals. Here’s a note from Aunt Ruthie with a cascading series of cartoons

PNG1966_0722_Birthday card and letter to Marian_from Ruthie_Cooke City_MT_3x3

And a birthday card from my sister Jean with a letter . . .

Web_1964_0720_Birthday-card-and-letter-to-Marian_from-Jean_Cooke-City_MT

. . .  and a note from Mother chiding Jean for not leaving any space to write: “I don’t know who she thinks she is . . . didn’t leave any space for Mother!”

Two letters sent to me addressed simply as Los Angeles – General Delivery came back with a note “Unclaimed – Return to Sender.”  Imagine that!

 

I brought back gifts for all the family. Janice received a myrtle-wood vase from Oregon, brother Mark a table lamp with a cactus base, and Daddy, a polished piece of petrified wood. My ledger shows I bought Jean a pretty blouse for $ 4.10, but alas no picture here!

Web_1964_Janice receiving gift

 

Web_1964_Postcard_Petrified-Forest+Ray-receives gift_AZ

 

Aunt Ruthie, brother Mark, and Mother Ruth
Aunt Ruthie with Christofferson paintings from Albuquerque, brother Mark with lamp, and Mother Ruth with a myrtle-wood pedestal dish

And something for myself too

I'll still using the bookends I bought in Tijuana, Mexico
I’m still using the alabaster bookends I bought in Tijuana, Mexico

 

The strangest thing I brought back: Water in a Gerber’s baby food jar (Aunt Ruthie’s suggestion) from The Great Salt Lake, where we floated with no danger of sinking.

 

Photos   I took almost two hundred photos on Kodak Ektachrome color slide film and sent home film rolls in heat-resistant pouches to be developed. Joann took photos and movies.

We don’t make a photograph just with a camera, we bring to the act of photography all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved.

– Ansel Adams

Purple Passages with a Weather Forecast

To my friends both in the northern and southern hemisphere, some thoughts about the weather. All quotations from BrainyQuotes.

Sometimes I wish I was the weather, you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day.  —  John Mayer

 

I like the cold weather. It means you get work done.   — Noam Chomsky

 

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.    — Anthony J. D’Angelo

 

Scarves, mittens, and hats are a great way to express your personality in the cold weather.   — Brad Goreski

 

Where's my hat? Freezing temps on Chincoteague Island, VA
Where’s my hat? Freezing temps on Chincoteague Island, VA                              Chic Dumps? Best guess: Chicken and Dumplings

 

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.

— Anton Chekhov

 

 

For there is no friend like a sister / In calm or stormy weather; / To cheer one on the tedious way, / To fetch one if one goes astray, / To lift one if one totters down,/ To strengthen whilst one stands.   –– Christina Rossetti

(from “Goblin Market”)

 

 

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely.       — Pam Brown

 

 

The forecast: Spring will come!

Paperwhites

Paperwhites from the narcissus family, with their “delicate color and sweet, musky fragrance,” a forecast of spring to come.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.    Genesis 8:22  KJV

 


I’m guessing you agree with some quotes more than others. One or two you may completely disagree with. 

Can you add another one? We’ll be listening . . .

 

Coming next: Wanda: Boring in Beige or Beautiful in Blue?

Purple Passages: Rich Word$

On December 29, author/blogger Joan Rough published a post declaring her optimistic intentions for 2015 and pondering a single word to characterize this new year while contemplating words of wisdom used other years. Some choices she suggested: Believe, Dare, Trust, Patience, Forward. Even the word Intention would be a good star to steer by, she mused.

Other commenters suggested words like Flow and Connection. Thus, Purple Passages for January is constructed from 3 of these words: DareIntention, Flow

DARE

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”
E.Y. Harburg

INTENTION

Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.

― Phylicia Rashad, the valiant wife in The Cosby Show

Artist Cliff's intention turning to action, recycling old technology
Artist Cliff’s intention turning to action, recycling old technology

FLOW

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Louis L’Amour

“I am rooted, but I flow.”
Virginia Woolf

ADVANCE: My word for 2015

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.          Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What do you think?

“Just go with the flow” is an expression offered sometimes as advice for tough times. How do you experience “flow” in your life now? How about daring, ― or intending?

Have you picked a guide word for 2015?

*  *  *
 A final word: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.      Proverbs 3:5

Coming next: Signs and a Wonder: St. Simons Island

What’s Red at Christmastime?

Color psychologists say red represents energy, passion, and motivation to act. Red is everywhere this season: Santa’s costume, cranberry dishes, poinsettias.

I’m seeing red too. In Ian’s Santa cap at the Orchestra Zoo . . .

IanViolinSanta

In Mother’s cranberry fruit salad recipe which I took to a Christmas party at a friend’s house last week . . .

CranberryDish

Ruth L_Moms Cranberry reci copy

(Everything with the word Mom in it is my scribbling. The rest is in her own handwriting, a keepsake in my recipe box.)

Beautiful pots of poinsettias!

poinsettias

One more thing read at Christmas, the beautiful Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20Luke2

What can you add to the red – or to the read in your tradition? The conversation starts here. 

Coming next: Short and Sweet: A Belgian Christmas Card

7 Things I’m Thankful For

My secret joys (and struggles) show up in my gratitude books. You can see some of them here. But my list this week has sprung from my 9-day trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and take care of Mother’s house in mid-November 2014.

In her devotional book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp begins with a chapter entitled Surprising Grace in which she discusses how she and her Farmer Husband “give thanks even when things look like a failure.” Or when one experiences loss.

This year Mother died, we’ve had to sell her beloved house and its contents, I’ve struggled with a motley crew of personal challenges, and still I give thanks:

  • Health – I have an odd muscular neck pain (yes, pain in my neck!) yet I went up and down 3 flights of stairs from attic to cellar dozens of times, no problem.
  • My sisters and brother – We sorted, boxed, laughed, cried, disagreed, but ultimately met the challenge on time.   MarianJeanMark
  • My Aunt Cecilia – She’ll be 100 years old in March, still going strong. We found Aunt Ceci cheerfully playing the Tumbling Blocks game on the computer beside her. “It keeps my mind sharp!” she laughs. A Mennonite preacher’s wife, Aunt Cecilia Metzler raised a family of five children on a Lancaster County farm.AuntCecilia
  • My Aunt Ruthie – The photo is fuzzy here, just like her memory. But after she viewed some of the movies she filmed in her 20s and 30s that appear on other blog posts (here and here) she smiles, “ These pictures really make my mind come alive.” RuthieLookingVideo
  • An heritage with spiritual depth – When my ancestors arrived in The New World, they brought with them the Holy Scriptures. This one, the Nuremberg Bible, is dated 1765.

BibleNuremberg

  • The memory of my Mother – When Mother died, she still had a current driver’s license, paid all of her bills by check, and kept appointments on her calendar. She sent birthday cards to all her children, grand-children, and great grand-children, represented by names penned into the blocks. She died on the 28th of July, a date we marked with a red asterisk.

MomCalendar

  • My family – This photo is six years old, taken when baby Ian no longer needed a breathing apparatus. Just so you know: our daughter Crista is blonde, Joel, dark-haired. With the older boys now 11 years old, we are due for an update!

Beaman_Dalton_Christmas Card_2008

Ann Voskamp continues by quoting the first reference in Scripture containing the word thanksgiving, mingling peace and gratitude:

And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 

Leviticus 7:11 – 13   ESV

My conclusion: Gratitude brings peace and ultimately joy.

Writer Voskamp concludes: ” . . . standing straight into wind is how to fly on His wings of grace.”


Finally, a song I remember from childhood from that seems appropriate for the season:

What are you grateful for? Join me in naming your blessings.

Purple Passages and a Teddy Bear

 LEAVES

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.   – Albert Camus

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.   – Jim Bishop

Original Photo: Autumn in Pennsylvania
Original Photo: Autumn in Pennsylvania

Quotation, noun: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.      – Ambrose Bierce

(In September’s Purple Passages, I published one of Bierce’s quotes on photography. The one above was contributed later by photographer son Joel.)

 

CAREBEAR

A bear grows more alive with age. No one with one ounce of sensitivity could ever consign a bear to the dustbin.    – Johnnie Hague

Mom with sheepish look holding teddy bear   1992
Mom with sheepish look holding teddy bear   1992

 

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

 

The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.    – Margaret Heffernan

People go to the zoo and they like the lion because it’s scary. And the bear because it’s intense, but the monkey makes people laugh.    – Lorne Michaels

 

HUMOR

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.   – Henry Ward Beecher   (Contributed by blog reader Carolyn Stoner)

It is bad to suppress laughter. It goes back down and spreads to your hips.    – Fred Allen

*  *  *

Your opinion please: the quote about the teddy bear and cellphone.  A comment on something else? Obviously, I like to chat too.

Coming next: Train Lovers, Welcome Aboard