Archive for July, 2014

full blownLotus Flower photography by Christine Whitelaw (c)
All Photographs property of Christine Whitelaw (c)

WE KNOW WHAT WE DONT  KNOW. This was posted by Christine Jan. 31, 2014 …she knew not then that her passing on July 2 was foreshadowed in these Tagore poetry lines she chose: ” I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.”

The sweet lotus was her favorite flower and her photographs reflect this. Christine, a flower of perfect sweetness.


In the late afternoon we sat watching the lotus. A cool breeze took the edge off a hot day, but the water was still. How perfectly this leaf was rolled. We rolled our scattered thoughts together.

rolled rolled

Nearby another leaf had begun to open, spreading itself gently across the surface. Finding support. Taking time.

unfurling unfurling

Fluted edges rippling gracefully on the water, droplets glistening.

buds buds

Radiating patterns, undulating curves, pink teardrop buds.

full blown full blown

Fully open, stamens surrounding the central pod like a dancer’s tutu, held in the pink and white chalice of the bloom.

pods and blooms pods and blooms

Dancing in the afternoon light, pods and flowers together, celebrating the lowering sun, turning their heads to whisper sweet secrets to each other.  We bow, united, our dance concluding with the sunset.

The Lotus

On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, 
and I knew it not. My basket…

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 Christine - Daddirri Dreaming
Dadirridreaming  —  Christine Whitelaw (c)


Today is truly Wordless Wednesday for me, having just learned of my dear friend and companion blogger’s sudden passing. My container of quiet does not hold silence; my actions lose focus….I am just all about this loss.

Christine Whitelaw and I met through my Napkinwriter blog nearly three years ago. She was one of the few who commented on my writings. Then she began blogging herself which grew into a wondrous photographic blog. Through her writings came her light, compassion, and “stretching” into the wonder of life itself.

That’s what she said.   We ARE it, whatever IT is!

Through her photography, we shared nature’s embrace and brilliance as gift to us. She opened my eyes to always include my horizon, always respect my environment and always LISTEN to its teachings. I thank her for that.

Light….in her words…..and shining in her photography.

I wanted to go to Australia, but I wanted to visit Christine when I did. I wanted to walk on the beach with her, each with our cameras, each with our sharings about life with eyes wide open.  I wanted to go to Australia and attend one of Christine’s Yoga Nidra classes. I wanted the grace to participate in one of her annual Women’s Weekends.

We daydreamed about that…..Dadirridreaming and I….we did. We looked forward to that happening.

Christine’s camera lens was busy over the last few months on both adventure travels and a historical, classical travel time through Italy, France, and Spain with her beloved Stuart, husband, lover and friend of over forty years. . These images leave work behind to be continued containing her connecting spirit to us all.

She has passed and yet her work here is not even complete.  I have reblogged one of my favorites (of many) blogs of Dadirridreaming. (Australian Experience)   ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE HERS AND COPYRIGHTED, and she gave me permission to share in my original 2013 post.

I am at one with the sea in these images. I feel the waves and sand. I smell the salt air, I touch the water lapping around my feet and ankles, and I hear the most favorite sound of the earth……the rolling and crashing of the waves of the sea.

Stuart reported that at Christine’s service a sea bird hovered over the chapel during the entire ceremony, and when her hand-painted by Stuart’s casket was carried outside, it made one long low swoop over the receding funeral attendants and Christine.

Yes,  wordless, but I make marks on this post. I love you Christine.


Australian sand

all photos by Christine Whitelaw

A beautiful shared experience of Australia and yourself by Christine Whitelaw.



birds, nature, spirit

Clouds, Sea, Meditation


This evening I read post by Annie about peace descending on her when she spent a week in a place by the sea. Our inherent nature is peace, just as it is love, compassion, beauty, generosity, joy and wisdom. Nature shows us all this, if we can take the time to be present, to open our senses and begin to perceive who we really are.


I will be teaching a meditation class with new people next week, so I am thinking about how to explain something so simple yet so profound. Sitting with nature, sharing love, or meditating are excellent ways to discover that we do not end at the visual boundary of…

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Closer Walk - Billie GrumblattGarden spaces of Billie Grumblatt

Billie posts the most beautiful garden landscapes on Facebook. I always immediately want to take a stroll into them and then even pause for a rest by the greens and  blossoms before I leave. But, alas, I must settle for the vicarious virtual tour and with that, I am somewhat satisfied.

I was at a retreat outside Oregon many years ago, nestled deeply in the tall woods and the rich, raging  Columbia river that threads through the area.  Suz, a deep in her heart Bluegrass musician, led us into a spiritual experience of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” I have been able to pick up the strength and confidence I got from that anytime since then.

Last week was one of the times I needed it.  I just seemed to pick everything apart and ended up in the general category that just everything was a problem. And I was not willing to let go. I stewed. I fumed in rage and anger, I lost my perspective, I was crabby and vindictive. I didn’t think I deserved the pot I had set boiling in my circumstances.  I identified immediately with the photo of the chicken that came across my Facebook feed.

Rough Week
In AA’s little black daily reflection book, “Twenty Four Hours a Day”, the meditation opens with “Walk humbly with the Lord.”

I was transported immediately back into the forest in Oregon and once again felt the exercise of “Closer Walk”.  Marcia, the facilitator, had us pick a spot where we had walking room anywhere in the room.  The first spot represented THE PRESENT TIME AND DAY and we were to absorb and accept all that was happening in our lives at this time, as Suz sang the most uplifting rendition of that song I have yet heard, enhanced by her guitar which represented waves of Spirit to me.

I was struggling, at that time, with some major challenges in my workplace that were causing havoc with the mission I thought was mine to  do, actually having felt “called” to do it.  It was painful standing in that spot on that floor, which the facilitator even enlarged the unknowns of this time.

Then she had us walk five steps forward and each step represented the movement of one actual year in our own life. From that spot we were to “listen in” and see if we could attune to something that was perfectly all right where we were five years out in the future.

Then we walked backward in time back to our original spot, where all the problems and fears resided. While nothing had changed in the circumstances, the “closer walk” absolutely changed how I felt about the circumstances. A little more accepting, a little less fearful, perhaps just a bit more confident that “this too shall pass” into something better in the same environment or else I’d be moved on to something different, how or when I did not know.

It turned out that it was the latter option with a lot more daily difficulty ahead of me but within it over a long period of time, I received the grace of knowing a little better how to walk humbly with the Lord.

In the Twelve Step Program, there is an acceptance of the word Higher Power to denote that which we surrender to, especially if we have a problem with the word, God.

I don’t have a problem with that word, and so I use Lord and God throughout this story.

In the AA meditation it lists some of the things “walk humbly with thy Lord” means:

practicing the presence of God in my daily affairs; asking God for strength to face each new day; turning to him often during the day in prayer for myself and for others; thanking God at night for the blessings of this day;

I do these things on a regular basis.

The meditation goes so far as to say “nothing can seriously upset you if you are walking with God.”……

OK, I have more humble walking to do…..I have admitted earlier, I still get upset….

There are two images of walking with the Lord on the beachsand;  two sets of footprints, and then only one; two sets of footprints and then two long lines where one set of prints had been.

The first is when the Lord carried me; the second is when he DRAGGED me kicking and screaming.

But most of the time, these days there are two sets of footprints and a casual conversation going on as we make our way down the beach listening to the reassuring sounds of the crashing waves of the sea.

March 27 2014photo by Susan Heffron Hajec

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This photo is a great expression of how I’ve attempted to move mountains through the course of my life………….the long and winding road!

I was on the bus on this road last year moving through the Alps and five countries by the expert driving of our young Swiss bus driver. Up and down, and all around, it truly seemed he DID move mountains.

This year, however, I’ve encountered a looming mountain of another type — the type we are warned are only removed by an increase of faith.  The July 20 – 22 Meditations of the Day in the AA Twenty Four Hours a Day little black book outline the instructions for traversing this mountain successfully.

First, it seems I must pray I do not limit myself by doubt.  I do dismantle my doubts and fears by reflecting that many times in the past, personal mountains  have been made into molehills with a combination of prayer, listening and small actions over small periods of time that added up to a solution I helped manifest. Or something better I never even saw coming happened and improved the circumstance.  So limiting my doubt calls once again for the wonderful  “S” word — surrender.


Second,  believing that Faith can and has removed mountains of challenges throughout my life, I lean into the belief that truly Faith can do it one more time. Faith can change any situation for the good, even if there remains much discernment or work to be done.  This has always meant for me to increase the amount of willingness within me.

When I feel willing to work within the circumstance, I become aware that many times I can do little myself to change the situation. But the Serenity Prayer comes to my rescue as I can focus better on what needs to be accepted, what I can work on to change that is within my power, and a little confidence arrives with some sense of wisdom in knowing “the difference”.

Day 3Zugspitze3

The last leg of this three-legged stool of moving mountains seems to be — trust. I try to carry out God’s guidance to the best of my ability. I try to leave the results to God.  The giant step here is to begin to believe that the guidance God gives me has already been worked out by God to produce the required results for my own circumstance.

This week that guidance has led me to look into two areas of service that will be personally challenging but I am following the guidance and see where it leads.

I recommit to living according to the dictates of my conscience and I pray that I may leave the results to God.

The meditation of the day mentions “If you have enough faith to ask God to give you the power you need and if you are grateful enough for the grace God gives you, you can move mountains.”

Here comes the mountain-mover with faith and gratitude.



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I am making Buscia’s cabbage rolls for dinner this week (and repeat dinners), so I am sharing one of the often read blogs I wrote about this three years ago. One of the things Tom said to me was “the more they are warmed up, the better they are…” and when the first taste is quite fine, that only leads to better eating all the way around.

I cannot make this dish without wondrous memories, happiness and laughs I shared with buscia, who loved us all dearly and was dearly loved in return. She loved God, her family, food and BINGO, mostly in that order.

Buscia’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls –Gotabki

July 20, 2014; My brother-in-law Stan corrected the Polish spelling of this dish, so I edit it below.

Tom’s Polish mother, our children’s “Buscia” taught me the art of stuffed cabbage making (gotabki, pronounced Goo-ump-ki). It was a mainstay at their table, served along with mashed potatoes, mushy overcooked frozen green beans, a dessert and lots of love. Her Polish culinary perfection and years of experience created the to-die-for traditional meal.

She and her sister-in-law, Aunt Margaret, made hundreds of these for church affairs of all sorts, funerals, celebration get-togethers, and I think occasionally for Bingo outings, her main source of entertainment.  As a young helper in the kitchen at the Manistee hospital, she always did special things, within the dietary limits, of the patients, and they got to like it when Frances was in the kitchen. She received notes from patients back on the trays.

I had never had a stuffed cabbage before I got married. I can’t believe Tom’s mother didn’t serve that for dinner at least once during the time we were engaged. But when I tasted my first one, I knew I had never had one before.

I remember the first gotabki I had was after Tom’s family visited us all the way from Michigan to our new apartment home in Kentucky. She brought a frozen package with her which I promptly stuck in the freezer and forgot about. In all the years we’ve been married, Tom has rarely suggested the menu for dinner. But after a few weeks went by and he hadn’t seen the cabbage rolls served, he asked about them.

I asked how to prepare them  and he said just be sure they are really warmed up and serve mashed potatoes with them. Walah! I love tomato based foods anyway, but this was the B E S T!

I asked for the recipe promptly. But this is one of those things where the written recipe just doesn’t get it. Making gotabki, over the years, became a process of putting the food together, and letting the mixture of memories of a lifetime float through your recollection. Love seasons the dish as you set the rolls covered in tomato sauce and pieces and slide it into the oven.

At the beginning of my cooking career, I did not even know what “steam the cabbage leaves” meant on her recipe. My first attempts did not produce a replica of Tom’s mother’s wonderful feast. The next time back North, I w a t c h e d   her  from beginning to end, hearing many family stories and lots of laughter during the process.  I watched and listened as her experienced hands and fingers tucked each cabbage roll in what seemed like a loving home to her within her pot.

I became very successful in making this dish and having the whole family love it. It was not long before mom was delighted in tasting my cabbage rolls and encouraging me with her accolades.

Last week, our daughter had a major surgery in the hospital. On the day of her discharge, I asked her what she had ordered for lunch –I lifted the cover of her served meal tray and there was a moist, steaming gotabki– cabbage roll. Seems mom was directing the kitchen menu from heaven above for her granddaughter.



In Photo:  Sons, Dave, Stan and my dear Tom with mom. Dave can make this dish to perfection also.

Mike and Mary are missing in this photo.


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