Deane's Blog

reading

Thunder Cake

FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

A few weeks ago, while our granddaughter, Lucy, was visiting solo for a few days,  I brought a book down from the attic that had been given to us in 1991 when our youngest, Hannah, was three years old. In Thunder Cake, written by one of my favorite author/illustrators, Patricia Polacco, a Babushka (grandma) notices that her granddaughter is very afraid of an approaching thunderstorm. Pulling her from under the table the wise old woman teaches her to count out loud from the moment she sees a lightening strike until the thunder rolls. This calculates how many miles the storm is away from them. Her early counting proves that it is a long way off, so there is plenty of time to mix up a Thunder Cake  before the storm hits. The task of pulling together the ingredients for this cake makes for a fun story. Scampering outside to collect eggs, trekking to the barn to milk the cow, and skipping down the path through Tangleweed Woods to the dry shed were easy tasks made stressful with the impending storm, quickly approaching. Lucy and I were also experiencing a rainy day so this was a perfect time to make our very own Thunder Cake! I plopped Lucy up on the counter, wrapping her in my old fashioned apron. The recipe in the book  led me to realize that all the ingredients weren't in my cupboard, but at least I didn't have to go out and milk a cow, so I made do with what I had, making a few simple substitutions.

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Everything went well and we produced a delicious chocolate Thunder Cake and had tons of fun in the process. But the next day, Hannah visited, heard what we had done and quietly lamented one fact.

"You never made a Thunder Cake with me!"

I admitted that even though she and I had read this book many times, we had never taken the time to bake the cake. We had not lined up the ingredients, measured them out, mixed them up to produce one humble Thunder Cake in all those years.

Is there a lesson here for me? Probably lots of them, and I could beat myself up for never having baked that cake with Hannah. I'll admit, I was tempted. But I went on to recall that Hannah and I participated in  many other amazing projects during those busy younger years of homeschooling and raising a family. To nurse any guilt or bemoaning self talk concerning this situation is a waste of good guilt! My current life presents me with a more relaxed view of time and I hope to not miss any opportunities to experience fully the joy of life with a young one whom I adore. But I will do what I did then...I'll do the best I can.

I offer kindness to the younger me of Hannah's childhood and I also project kindness into the future for  ways the older me will do the best she can. I might fall short but sometimes it's just plain good enough to do the best we can.

I know this is a small thing and no one was hurt by this small decision, or lack there of,  but by practicing self kindness in the small things, perhaps I'll be ready when bigger regrets race out to greet me in the future.

Even though, Hannah, the next time a storm is on the way,  I'm here, ready to get those ingredients set out on the counter with the challenge to get the thing baked before the storm arrives. Come on over. It will be great fun and you have waited long enough to experience it. Maybe I'll even let you lick the spoon.

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on slowing down

Deane Watters2 Comments

Last week I slowed down. My active life went on hold and several opportunities to gather with friends were postponed. After finally going to the doctor, I now know why. It is called walking pneumonia. What I do NOT have is the kind of pneumonia that makes you lie in bed with a croupy incessant cough that keeps you miserable and incapable of doing anything else. Rather, it means that you feel tired, achy, quiet, and like there is a two-year-old sitting on your chest.  And the coughing...yes there is plenty of that but you can get up and walk around and do things. Activities like: soak in a hot tub to soothe your sore muscles, wash your hair and put on  make up so you won't hate yourself at every mirror. Dressing in loose clothes lessens the effect of your sensitive skin. You can talk, but how much or how loudly depends on the stage of hoarseness in which you find yourself. You can go outside but only to sit on a pillow in the sun hoping for healing rays to make it all better. Texting is great and a few dear ones checked on me faithfully.

You can eat normal food and do normal things like read, write, cut out fabric and do the laundry; but the speed at which you do these things is lowered tremendously.

One saving grace for me during this time was Instagram. On April 1, I chose to enter into two photo challenges. Author and photographer, Susannah Conway, from London, England, is hosting April Love 2015 which offers a word prompt for each day, plus an email to encourage us to love and care for ourselves. The other is led by Catherine Just, a fine art and commercial photographer in Los Angeles. Her's is named, The Daily Miracle. Both are very talented women with styles that are almost complete opposites. Susannah is bright and airy, full of color and dreams. Catherine works in dark black and whites with focused sometimes blury images. I have been learning from both. It is good to be directed and challenged with my camera.

Can you tell which photos are part of which  challenge?2015-04-21_0001 2015-04-21_0002 2015-04-21_0003 View More: http://hannahwhite.pass.us/lucy

(This photo by Hannah White Photography. Thank you so much for this beautiful shot, Hannah!!)2015-04-21_0005 2015-04-21_0006 2015-04-21_0007

Reading also took on a new role this week. I finished up Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and The Story Within by Laura Oliver. I've described both in my Recent Reads section. I am also thoroughly enjoying,  A Writers' Book of Days, by Judy Reeves, one that has been sitting on my shelf for some time.

I'd say the reason this all feels so possible is due to the fact that I have had to SLOW DOWN. I've taken time to study other participant's photography. I've tried to narrow my focus, experiment with black and white and, more importantly, see with eyes that know better what they are looking for. I've entered into some books that are teaching, encouraging and challenging me in fresh directions.

I don't get sick very often and I'm not the greatest patient. But if I have to get sick, at least it feels better to have an outcome that feels like I've learned some new things and taken time that normally I would have "gone after" quickly, without much thought. But honestly, if I was totally truthful, I probably should have taken a few more naps. Hopefully it won't take another bout of walking pneumonia for me to slow down in the future.