There is Magic in the World…

…and the Heavens listen.  This is a “stop the presses!” moment.

Our daughter-in-law texted late last night that today at five would be a good time to read to Olivia and do music*.  When Martin told me, I realized I’d need to get to the library for some new books to read. This morning  I received a delivery from Amazon.  At the bottom was a book I don’t even remember ordering.

I reached for What Do You Know? by sisters Aracelis Girmay and Ariana Fields (I mean with names like that they have to be magic women!), opened it, began to read, and tumbled into that special place of mine where gratitude spirals from my very depths like the best fireworks you’ve ever seen.  Gratitude for these talented women, gratitude for my capacity to feel so deeply, gratitude for the years (two) and conversations (1000) that brought this book into being.

From the blurb: “What might a bear, a farmer, a historian, some goats or courage respond when love askes, ‘What do you know?’ ” Turn the page and be surrounded in wonder and astonishment. Reach the farmers’ pages and delight in the illustrations. Read the answer of courage and know that when you read this book to your children and grandchildren you will be teaching them life’s most difficult lesson in an unforgettable way.

That’s all I’ll say.  Except for this: Order this book today. Visit Enchanted Lion Books.  They are an amazing publisher of the art and philosopy we call children’s books.


* Martin finds incredible music videos to enjoy with Olivia.  Their repetoire spans opera, Broadway, ballet and symphonies. One of their favorites is Shostakovich’s opera The Nose which contains a scene of dancing noses.


I have classified this post in three drawers: Grandlife, Bookshelf, Kids @ Heart because the book is so wonderful I don’t want anyone to miss it!

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Sound of Summer

I get excited every time I hear the ice cream truck playing its endless song throughout our neighborhood. There’s the rush of anticipation, then the scramble for my purse while I mentally weigh the merits of a Klondike Bar vs a Nutty Buddy vs an ice cream sandwich. I rue the occasional irritation I used to feel when the ice cream truck turned down our street at dinnertime or bedtime. I hope my kids remember me saying yes more than I said no.

These days the truck comes down our street once a week or so. I always say yes.  Life is short. Sometimes ice cream for dinner is just the ticket. With ice cream for dessert as well! Choco Taco, anyone?



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A Cardinal Gift

Last time I wrote about coming across a bird that had fallen from its nest onto the sidewalk below. It was barely breathing. Its eyes were closed.  There was nothing I could do to save it. I shielded it with a piece of bark and acknowledged its life, however brief.

A few weeks ago, I stood at my bedroom window giving thanks for the new day.  I looked out and not six feet from the pane, nestled on a pine branch was a nest.  And in that nest there was a bird.  The tiniest bird that you ever did see.  Featherless, smeared with yolk and exhaustion, sightless, it had just emerged from its shell. Stunning. What timing! I felt as if God had spun a wheel and the arrow landed on, “Show Debra a miracle this morning.” I was spellbound watching a new life unfurl before me.

Over the next two weeks I watched the family care for their hatchling. The mother would sit atop the bird and an as yet unhatched egg. Sometimes she’d leave and the baby bird, its feathers growing in and its eyes now open, curled around its younger sibling still in ovo. One morning I woke up to the sound of the mother calling to the father,”Come on already! I’m hungry. The baby’s squawking. Put on your wingtips and get over here with some chow!” The male showed up moments later. He fed the female from his beak. She performed some sort of avian culinary magic and placed something that looked like a tiny white lentil into the baby’s waiting mouth.  The male sat on a branch nearby, a bright red sentry on alert for danger. I swooned in amazement and wonder. A day or so later, the nest was empty, save for the unhatched egg. A day or so later, it too was gone.  

Kids notice things: tiny things, big things, curious things that we big folks let pass without notice.  Kids at Heart get the best of both worlds: conscious witness to wonder.

P.S. You have to look very closely to see the baby bird. Its beak is open.

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Kaleidescopes are pure infinite ever-changing visual magic. I adore them. My sisters gave me a kaleidescope for my 40th birthday that still brings me, and now my granddaughter Oliva, utter joy.  For my 60th birthday, Martin gave me a side-lit handheld kaleidescope made by Mark Reynolds. He found it at Nelly Bly, the world’s biggest, best, and most magical kaleidescope emporium. Every October they hold a keleidescope festival where kaleidefans meet the artists who make them and attend workshops to make one of their own.  One of these days……..

I’ve done something totally new and untried. Until today.  A video set to music. The music is from Andrew Weil & Kimba Arem’s Vibrational Sound Healing. Track #2, Sky of Night. The CD was a birthday gift from my sister, Lisa, some years back. Birthdays, kaleidescopes and music. What could be better?








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What We Don’t know We Need

One of the prayers in our morning liturgy gives gratitude for the renewal of each day. Among the fourteen phrases thanking God for our numerous blessings, one thanks the Divine for “providing for all my needs.” Whenever I recited this blessing, I would get to that line and acknowledge that my basic needs are met and so much more.

One of my teachers opened my eyes a bit wider by suggesting “all our needs” includes the stuff of life we say we need like a “hole in the head.” In other words those frustrations, accidents and devestations that befall us that we certainly don’t ask for and would never in a million years say we needed.

I acknowledge this is dicey philosophical territory. Does someone actually need a cancer diagnosis? A viscious frenemy or relative? Or, God forbid, the loss of a loved one? No. No. No. But really horrible stuff happens — to all of us. Six plus decades playing this game called Life and I recognize the painful experiences that have surely formed me and demanded of me growth and healing. I’ve railed at God plenty for “giving” me what I not only didn’t ask for but said up front I did not need in the least. Guess what? I got some of those too. Accepting them has brought insight and ultimately understanding.

The verse “who provides for all my needs” is followed by “who guides us on our path.” Perhaps this is intentional. When we’re shunted onto a painful path a little Divine guidance just might light the way.

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Mock One is Too Wonderful

I have wanted a hammock for the longest time. Let me repeat, the longest time. I dithered for years. The frames were too big. We had no trees between which to suspend one. Where would I store it. The best ones took quite a bite out of the budget. I was the only one who really wanted it. Martin is quite content sitting for long stretches at the patio table, reading, looking out, nodding off.  Not me.

It was shaping up to be a fairly quiet summer once again.  Ergo, hammock time! But could I find one that was compact, transportable, affordable, and still had that hammocky-feeling?  Yes, yes and yes.   And yes. Mock One Compact freestanding hammock to the rescue. The set-up went as promised. Collapsing it took a try or two or three, but now I have the hang of it. At 12 pounds it’s definietly portable; I can move it to different parts of the yard. The days the lilacs were blooming, off I hammocked beside them. Too much sun and 90º heat and I retreated to the back of the patio beneath the evergreen. I could even bring it indoors if I felt so inclined.  There are drink holders on both sides, a sun shade, and a nifty little cover (more of a corset, really) that keeps it all together. It’s a cinch of a hammock.

While this one doesn’t sway the way tree or stand-affixed hammocks do, that delightful feeling of being cocooned and suspended is definitely part of the experience.  So is looking up into the trees above me on the patio.  After a year of going nowhere I’m fairly content to sway on the porch, watch the light move through the trees, and give thanks for the breeze.


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