Monthly Archives: December 2014

2015! Resolutions? Still Pondering!


I’m nuts over New Year’s resolutions! Love to ponder and finally zero in on one.

However, I’ve been making them for forty-plus years and have only kept two:

  • When I was in my mid-forties, I had several book deadlines in the same year. I vowed to work harder in the evenings, and I did.
  • About five years ago, I set out to keep the rocker in our bedroom clear of my clothes. I would hang those suckers up! I kept this beautifully until January of the next year came around and all diligence vanished.

For 2015, I’m pondering these:

  • To be self-indulgent while practicing self-discipline. (That seems like an intriguing challenge.)
  • To be as chill as a bottle of bubbly on New Year’s Eve. (That’s a happy, laid back, friendly sort of chill.)

The best resolutions, like the two I kept above, are very specific, which my new ones aren’t, so I’m thinking about these:

  • Join a Zumba class
  • Get back to revising my middle grade novel

What about you? Have you ever kept a resolution? Are you making any for 2015?

Twenty Fifteen

Here’s to all of you and here’s to the promise of a brand new Year! Welcome 2015!

Grandma Update: He’s Two!




Mazen turned two in September. Glorious, irascible two!

We get along like Pooh and Piglet, as long as I do exactly what he says. This includes playing trains Mazen’s way, letting Maze pick the stories, and being open to a bedtime ritual that extends indefinitely. This child isn’t spoiled. His mom and dad have him in their parental grips, but when Grammy visits, Grammy is a happy pushover.

We don’t get many do-overs in life, but grandparenting is one of them. I can close my eyes to flashbacks of impatience with my girls at Mazen’s age. I can feel my body clench. Hear my frustrated words. My impatience sometimes haunts me with regret.

But by the time I get impatient with Maze, it’s time to go home. And within a day, I’m REALLY impatient, impatient to go back.

When Mazen sees Cliff and me again, he starts to jump. His feet leave the ground.

My jumping needs work, but my train skills are improving by leaps and bounds.

Photo Above: Maze loves the antique dollhouse at my mom’s apartment in Baltimore. The front porch makes a fine driveway for his cars. The dollhouse, built by my great-great-grandfather, is a replica of their summer home in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania.

Photo Below: An enthusiastic artist working at a table that was his mom’s when she was his age.



Fling Wide the Portals!



I stood in church two weeks ago singing from our new Presbyterian hymnal, which is PURPLE! 

“We don’t wear purple,” was one of my great-aunt’s credos. Now every week, I hold a purple hymnal. The Frozen Chosen, as the Presbyterians were fondly (?) called years ago, are letting loose.

As we sang “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” a line from that purple hymnal landed in my own head and stuck:


“Fling wide the portals of your heart.”


What a line!  What a challenge!

And that’s my holiday wish for you and for me. Fling wide those portals.

To the new, the daunting, the creative, the unusual, the refreshing, the funny, and the irresistible.

Like the Christmas angel above, stand with outstretched arms.

Happy holidays and here’s to the promise of 2015!


Angel Arms


My mom, Nancy Kiehne painted the angel. You can see more of her work at

Our Christmas Shed


Cliff and I have been married for thirty-seven years.

We haven’t been asked yet what the secret is to a long happy marriage. Maybe you have to be married fifty years to get asked that question. Or maybe folks watch us and think we still have plenty to learn, which I imagine we do.


One of our secrets is that we celebrate. A lot! We celebrate everything that merits celebrating.

And so, in honor of the season, I present to you the Christmas shed. A project slow in completion, the shed has now officially been cleaned out. When a friend offered me a wreath leftover from the Hillsborough Holiday Tour, I said, “Thank you!” I knew just where that wreath would go.

Since a wreath has no beginning or end, it represents eternity. This project seemed to take an eternity, but now the lawn is clear of wood and clutter and the shed door is closed.

All three of us: me; Cliff, whose project it was; and the shed, are celebrating!

What projects are you celebrating this season?

More Shed

 Our Shed: Our shed is made from barn tin. Cliff thinks it dates back to the first half of the twentieth century.

Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to Gail, who won Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation by Maggie Oman Shannon.

Congrats to Joyce, who won One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl.

And congrats to Penny, who won the Old Factory Candle Gift Set.