Archive for the 'family' Category

First Things

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.–Lao-Tzu

anderson202.jpgIt’s the time of year when we think about beginnings.  Today I received a picture of one of Baby Anderson’s first smiles.  It was a glorious way to start the day.  A new year and a new baby; it doesn’t get much better than that.  For my next few posts, I plan to share some other “firsts” and “beginnings.” 

 First Lines of Favorite Books

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
– Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It was a pleasure to burn.
– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I have just returned from a visit to my landlord–the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.
– Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights.

In a village of La Mancha the name of which have no desire to recall, there lived not so long ago one of those gentlemen who always have a lance in the rack, an ancient buckler, a skinny nag, and a greyhound for the chase.
– Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) Don Quixote

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
– Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.
– Joseph Heller, Catch-22

A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
– Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
– Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book about the jungle called True Stories.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


Saving Thanksgiving #6

 Give us this day our daily bread, O Father in heaven, and grant that we who are filled with good things from Your open hand, may never close our hearts to the hungry, the homeless, and the poor; in the name of the Father, and of the Sone, and of the Holy Spirit. (from the abbey of New Clairvaux)

enstrom-grace.jpg A print of this painting, “Grace” by Eric Enstrom has for many years hung in my parents’ dining room. A bowl of homemade soup and a loaf of homemade bread was usually available in our kitchen.  Both my mother and father loved to cook, but it wasn’t until he retired that my father devoted much time to it.  My grandmother baked bread every Sunday morning and expected everyone to stop by and pick up a loaf.  By baking bread, I mean the lady had over 25 loafs resting on and covered by clean sheets on her bed.  The smell of baked bread will always remind me of Grandma’s house.  I never became much of a baker, but I love to make soup.  We never had soup on Thanksgiving, however.  No need to fill up with liquid when all those carbs were on their way.  I count as a blessing, the wonderful soups and crusty breads I had as a child.  How we will count our blessings this Thanksgiving?  A little tougher this year with so much military, political, and economic strife.  An activity from the United Methodist Church called “Count Your Blessings“, although Christian in nature, can be adapted for any faith path.  It is extremely reflective and might make a great after dinner activity for everyone at your Thanksgiving table.

Saving Thanksgiving #5

 “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends,for everything Thy goodness sends.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Instead of a painting for today’s post, I’ve included some photographs I found on the American Memory section the Library of Congress website.  If you’ve never spent time browsing this site, do so; it contains digitized primary sources for every interest.  These photographs are from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.  What a marvelous peek into our past.  I especially like the photo of the pies cooling on the sideboard with the family reflected in the mirror and the family opening their home to the military during World War II.  Just click on each thumbnail to see each photograph.  Today’s post ends with Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.  During This time of war and unease, it is an especially meaningful message.

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Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation 

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Saving Thanksgiving #4

 “Oh, Life is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need: the sun and the rain and the apple seed.  Oh, Life is good to me.”

                                                                     (Johnny Appleseed Blessing)


Today’s Thanksgiving painting is “Apple Picking” by Pissarro.  My red door is only a few miles away from some wonderful apple orchards which yearly produce crisp, juicy fruit.  Some of the orchardists do apple and cider tasting and one winery in the area produces a delightful apple chardonnay.

Thanks for the harvest is one of the historical bases of the concept of thanksgiving.  Smithsonian has a short article which explains the idea of thanksgiving and is worth a look. 

Being grateful is closely tied to the concept of thanksgiving.  Trying to articulate either is impossible.  I express myself best through music which is why my first three “Saving Thanksgiving” focused on that subject.  On November 1, some friends of mine have their children decorate a shoe box with turkeys, pilgrims, cornucopias, etc.  They cut a slot in the top and all month family members put in slips of paper stating things and people for which they are thankful.  They read the slips as their Thanksgiving meal’s grace.  Sort of a Thanksgiving advent calendar.  There are many other ways we can demonstrate our gratitude.   A good place to start is  This amazing site is full of readings and ideas for you and your family to explore.  I especially liked the section of readings on gratefulness and have been sharing them with friends.