Archive for June, 2014


The larger plan for this blog is to “one day” collect selected stories from my soon to be fourth year of faithful posts and put them into a bound edition for my children and grandchildren….a legacy to leave behind of my thoughts, dreams, family heritage, spiritual life, fun and games, things I cherish, and “what you didn’t know” tales.

If publishing holds no larger plan for me, that will be enough.

So I must include this June  vacation time with Kathleen and Greg’s family at Dufina Cottage.  Laura was unable to come because of her work schedule, but Carl and Amy joined Tom and me for three days of adventure and fun.

Just like Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robbin, we got up each day for our adventure on Mackinac Island (they were in the Hundred Acre Woods) and we found fun and beauty everywhere and lots of good eats on our island adventures.




We found playgrounds and board walks and the butterfly house.



Swinging by the bridge


Butterfly house

My butterfly


Butterfly House gorgeous lilies

Walking trails and scenic views.






No matter the weather, we stick together!


No Matter the weather

Flowers and gardens abound.

Walking buddy in the Grand Hotel Gardens


Behind the flowers

Petal Beauty



At the Secret Garden

Pilgrims among the lilacs.


Morning time on the labyrinth in the Grand Hotel gardens.

Another Labyrinth, Grama


Good eats and family fun at Dufina Cottage.

Dufina and Amy


Piano and OnLine Time

Kathleen and Greg and Devon and Andrew and their friends were on their bikes — A LOT, thus a lack of photos of them.   They braved the windiest day EVER on Mackinac Island.

Greg  Bike Trails

Kathleen skydiving


Devon called us to ask when we were arriving:


telephone callls

And then, watched for our boat to arrive.

Family Looking for Us to Arrive

The three days went by quickly. Tom and I celebrated our 49th Wedding Anniversary on Thursday night and were treated to a delicious ribs dinner by Susan and Kathleen.  Joe also ventured on very early morning bike rides and captured this beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron.

Early Morning Sky on Mackinac - Joe


And this photo of beautiful wife, Susan at beautiful Arch Rock!

Beautiful Susan at Beautiful Arch Rock

Yet there were times techy communication won out over the outdoors.


But there was always…..ice cream!



Not to forget the horses and fairy tale weddings.


And then….it was over like the clock striking midnight….

Walking Together

But here is Amy’s “Going Back to Mommy” smile on the ferry boat!

Ferry smile



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One step at a time

I have started a new page on my Facebook page titled Twelve Step Program of Recovery. I am not new to this program and I have not relapsed with alcohol. But I have recently been redirected to the basic literature of the program due to some “internal strife and bickering” that I am working through in my spiritual practices.

I am renewed by the truthful language of the program and the power it has and has had since its founding by Bill W.  to point the way to accepting powerlessness (no matter what the power issue is) in our life as grace and how to get on living  with or without what we are currently deeming as unfair, unjust or just plain yukky.

The language of The Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve and the little black prayerbook of Twenty-Four Hours a Day rings ever-more true and supportive in my thirty-fifth year, one day at a time, than it did when I had the grace to find and join the program.

It is safe to say, I know I would not be on this planet physically, nor would I be enjoying the great blessings I have of family, friends and life I do today, had I not learned through the fellowship of AA, how to make the choice to not take that first drink.  And keep learning.

On my new Facebook page, I will share short quotes from the powerful literature, photography that inspires me and hopefully others, and an occasional short story of the recovery graces and trials along this way.


Going to meetings, you hear lots of tales of trial and tribulations, but if you keep going to the meetings long enough and often enough, you also see and hear these disappear or resolve into a “daily do-able” approach to life….and a laugh or two along the way.

I am grateful and happy to know the people in recovery. They have blessed my life.



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Lilacs - Brenda HortonPhoto by Brenda Horton

View toward St Ann's - Brenda HortonPhoto by Brenda Horton

In just a few days, Tom and I will return to Mackinac Island for a few days stay with our family at Dufina Cottage, a long-standing June vacation tradition. We, however, have not been up there for a few years and are looking forward to the beauty, sounds and activities of the island.

Our daughter, Kathleen and her family are into their week on the island and awaiting our arrival on Wednesday.  Well, not exactly awaiting…..

Andrew is flying kites….


Devon is getting sunburned….


and making “collect calls”….ha ha, get it?

telephone callls

Kathleen is skydiving….

Kathleen skydiving

and Greg has taken to the midnight bike trails, as is tradition….

Greg  Bike Trails

So all of that is a lot of fun, but they just can hardly wait for us to get there!  See, they are looking for us now.

Family Looking for Us to Arrive

We’ll be right there!

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Dad and mom on our wedding day

Dad, you are so much always on my mind and in my heart as Father’s Day draws near. It is always the same. Never different. I can hear your voice and feel the flutter of your energy you always stirred up when you were “in true form.” I always feel the sorrow of your having left us so young (age 62), suddenly and unexpectedly. The hole in my heart has not mended yet, all these years later when, I myself, am age 71.

The photo above was taken on Tom’s and my wedding day. You were a happy man, but of course, for the photo you are looking into your beloved’s eyes — your second and precious True Love, Marion.  The only mother I knew.

For at the tender age of 29, shortly after giving birth to me, your first love, Doris went back to heaven. It seems God and the angels lent her out only a very short while.

Why we could never speak of this together, as father and daughter, I have never understood. Just know that when I do think of this I hold you in my love as I have great compassion for a man even younger than 29, suffering this loss and having a son and daughter  in his family without his beloved wife.

And you set about loving, taking care of and providing for little Dave and little Sue with a hole in your own heart bigger than a cannon ball, I’m sure.


What I do know of mom and you comes from many black and white photos and mostly loving conversation with my cousin, mom’s niece Diane. This was invaluable to me. Your only sister, Aunt Kate also has shared stories with me.

Diane’s mother, Aunt Resh, gave me mom’s wedding dress, which she had kept from 1940s up to sometime in 1980 when she told me it belongs to me and she mailed it to me.


You enjoyed and were proud of your service on the Eau Claire Wisconsin police force and repeatedly retold stories of yours and Scotty’s adventure and giving chase to the bad guys. Medals won, local fame attended you.


Always the cut-up and Irish life of the party, you had found your audience and fun in Doris.


Ta Dah!


Tip me over and pour me out.


Totem pole building — fun at the lake.


I’ll follow you anywhere, and I am sure mom would have.

I am so happy to have been able to see the fun you shared together while Doris was still here.

Then, God blessed you with a second love, in which, once again you truly became One.  Marion was given to you and became the only mother I ever knew from the age of two.  “Tony and Marion”, you hardly heard one name without the other. You each took upon you the top responsibility of providing for your family which grew to include one more son to you — John.


Spending our grade school years in Sycamore Illinois, John and I played together more than big brother, Dave (and got in more trouble together). But Dave has been protective and loving big brother to me all these years, dad, and you would be proud of him and the love and respect he has today for our family.


In this photo, dad, I was going to the “big” St. Mary’s Eighth Grade Dance, with my first “date”, John Rogers. None of us kids knowing how to date at that time. It was a bunch of kids getting together and playing and as I remember once we got there, mostly the boys stayed with the boys and the girls huddled together. I remember the feeling of the soft pink dress I wore. I liked it. I don’t remember why you are so dressed up but I think it is because you drove us to the dance and picked us up. Pretty nifty driver.

Dad, I know you carried photos of your family when you traveled your salesman job on the road and your sales associates knew as much about us as they did you. I know you traveled home mid-week Wednesday because you wanted to be with mom and check in on the family.

You were a good dad, dad.  You stirred things up and later settled them down by crooning Irish lullebyes. You worked very hard at all your jobs, for less pay than you should have accepted and less notice than you should have been given.

What sums you up completely is this: You were a man of Faith and a family man. You lived this and I am sure when you met the Lord, he said to you,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dad and mom on our wedding day

June 19, 1965.  Forty-nine years ago, I walked out of our family home, married Tom and went down the road to our first home in Lexington Kentucky. Dad, you liked Tom from the first time you met him, and very soon loved him and his whole family. This was a wonderful thing for me. I loved the times you were with us with Tom’s family. Tom and I shared great times with you and mom in the Virgin Islands and those times have become the highlight of our vacation memories.

You live on in your beautiful heritage of children and grandchildren. Laura, (your “Lauri”) and Kathleen  (your “Katie”) have wonderful husbands and you have 3 great-grandchildren, Devon, Andrew and Amy. You would have loved tussling with every one of them. Also, the Irish red continues.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. There are times I know you are still very present in my life, I cannot miss it. Laura also shares that sometimes Grandpa Heffron visits her. I am grateful for that.

I know that you know you are loved.


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This is priceless and Precious, Christine; how I covet the opportunity to be at your Joy of Being Retreat. Are you home now? I am reblogging this on Napkinwriter. I have many Catholic friends (still practicing) who would love to see this.

This beautiful blog comes from womanspirit/author/photographer/yoga nidra professional and general all around adventurer living life to the fullest with her artist husband, Stuart in beautiful Australia. If you visit her blog, you will be lost for hours with her nature, landscape and spirituality photography. So plan on having a big dent put into your day’s schedule. I am unable to pull away, once I venture upon her blog site.


Renowned author Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes has released a book “Strong Woman” about her experience of the Divine Feminine. I listened to an interview with her on Sounds True, and was struck by her message. This weekend our at Joy or Being retreat Wendy Batchelor will be teaching on the Divine Mother, and how we can welcome Her into our lives.

Dr Estes was brought up as a Catholic, she says “The Catholics have been probably the most proficient at preserving many of her stories about the way that she has manifested on earth. But the Muslims have their story about Holy Mother, Holy Mary. The people who have ideas in Asia about Holy Mother call her Kannon or Quan Yin. She’s called by a million names by six billion people. And she is everything that people say she is, particularly in her protective, burgeoning, life-giving…

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March 25

We experienced a long, cold, difficult for many type of winter this year. Spring was a long time in coming, as it snowed late into the early spring months. Now that is past and we are enjoying the greening of the landscape, the blossoming colorful spray of flowers popping up everywhere, letting us know that whether nurturing or painful, these things, too, shall pass.  Always.

There are seasons of the heart and soul too and somehow within the past few weeks the season within me turned to rage….pure rage. In my prayer time, Jesus overturning tables in the Temple comes to mind. Something in me is overturned and needs righting. I am making mistakes in thinking, feeling and actions and for this I must make amends.

It is rare for rage to seek me out, but when it does, I feel frozen, not fire. It takes me awhile to deal with it and seek answers and guidance back to healthy spiritual and emotional being.

This is one of those time. Today I let the labyrinth teach me. As I awoke for quiet meditation (slinking guiltily to my prayer chair), I began to be taught as I made my first cup of coffee.

The crow was my teacher. A very large crow was walking the labyrinth brick on the bricks near the center. It stayed walking the circular path until it got to the center, hopped into the center, then walked diagonally across the labyrinth to the outermost circuit.

I looked up some things about the crow in Ted Steven’s Animal Speak and prayer time and reflection began.


Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Through my thoughts, words and deeds, I have caused harm to myself and others.

I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

The snow began to melt. I had not felt forgiveness before now. It began to seep in.


In metaphysics, there is a lot of magic involved in the symbol of the crow. Alchemy is the exact word. I recalled hearing and seeing the crow present in so many “cartoon” and fairy tale story. Usually, for me, it signified being dangerous in the witch’s concoctions and intentions.

But alchemy is exactly what I needed to become willing to release this rage and feel more compassionate toward myself and others. “Became willing to make amends…” says one of the steps in AA.

After breakfast, I walked the labyrinth.  Stevens says in his text, “Working with the crow can help you to see how the winds are going to blow into your life and how to adjust your own life flights.”  I need that help.

Road is Long

The road is long….in forgiveness and life….with “many a winding turn.”

I’d lost the magic and the cawing of a crow “should remind us that magic and creation are cawing out to us everyday”.  I read this and further…”that creation and magic are alive within our world everyday and available to us”. The labyrinth would be a good place to look for this and be open to it.

Confusion clouds but path remains

Confusion clouds but the path always remains.

Decision - the path or self-centered veer off

The fork in the road branch reminds me there is always the temptation to run off and hide from myself and others OR to stay on the path forging forward.

I need grace here to choose the path.

Choices Hindsight

Looking back, hindsight for choices made in the past is not a grace and is never helpful.

Focus on what's in front of you

Focus on what’s in front of you. “Lord, I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I believe that this is the road to freedom, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.”

Cosmic Connection vibrations

I feel cosmic support in the symmetry of the brick pattern, which always soothes me. Centered in the Center

Centered in the Center. In my reading of the crow, I come across these words. “The crow is a symbol that represents medieval alchemy,  ‘nigredo’ — The initial state of substance unformed but full of potential.” (italics mine)  Ah, therein lies the problem for me. I feel the sorrow of substance unformed yet  coupled with the knowledge that I am filled with potential.

Trust and Move along

I am told to TRUST and move along.


The labyrinth is Tom’s and my work in progress. It is only an infant completing its first year. But it can speak and had a request of me. It asked for chimes to be put atop the arch. I share this with Tom and it had spoken to him as well. He has decided to make the walking path made of soft, bent grass (the kind golf greens are made from). We have changed our minds from pebbles to leveling the brick to the ground ( a lot of work for next year) and now the completion of that seems to be the soft grass.  I love this and feel it is right for our labyrinth.

Way in is Way out

I have completed my walk and I know this is a message for me.  The Way IN is the Way OUT. The Way Out is the Way In.

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” Thomas Merton.

I will pray and live my life with a new awareness of the crow and the power of both prayer and a walk on the labyrinth.


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Birthday Girl 1-14

We were sitting in the waiting room of Tom’s Primary Care Physician waiting for a question to be answered when a sprightly  elderly woman came in accompanied by another woman.

“Frances! How are you?” the receptionist greeted her.

“I’m GREAT!” she replied. And you could hear the exclamation point in her voice.

“That’s wonderful, have a seat and we will be with you shortly.”

She went across the room from us, placed her walker beside her and sat down. The other woman, whom I came to guess was a caretaker, not family sat near her.

The woman continued in conversation with her. She talked loudly so the conversation was easily overheard. She started to talk about friends whom she wondered if they were still here or not. It soon became apparent she was talking about a “unit” of friends, so I am thinking she probably served as a Navy nurse.

I was correct. She was talking about the recent memorial they had in Washington for senior vets and about some who got to go there. She knew there was a plaque of her nurse’s unit, aside in a special place with all of their names on it.

“I would have liked to have seen that,” she said.

Two more people greeted her while we were there, asking her how she was. And each time she replied enthusiastically and confidently, “I’m GREAT.”

She said she tried to keep tabs on her old friends but that now most of them were gone. “I’m 97 and so there are not many left, but I’d like to know,” she said.

Her youngest nephew is 76 so he was not “doing so well that he could keep looking after me” she revealed.

She had called one friend who had been still living independently, but was receiving no answer and she feared her friend was either now in a nursing home or passed on.

This woman brought a noticeable high energy into what feels most often to me a rather complacent, resigned waiting space…..one where we hope the doctor has answers for us and we can feel some measure of relief for what ails us. There did not appear to be too much ailing Frances and I’m pretty sure when she was taken back she also cheered up the professional staff waiting on her.

I thought about my age of seventy-one. I am pretty aware of living into a new decade of my life. I am grateful for each and every day and my present excellent status of health. However, I am also aware that “age is catching up with me”.  I am sometimes surprised of some limitations I did not even know had arrived or was not mindful enough of the fact that I am no “spring chicken” anymore.

But thinking of Frances, I walked out of that doctor’s office with a new mentor in mind. I think I am living the kind of life that, if I am granted the grace of a long life lived on this earth, I also will be able to continue to respond to the query of how I am with:

“I’m just GREAT, thank you.”

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