By this point in life, I understand that small things consume us with frustration or delight. As Cliff says, “It’s all about choices.” We decide how our focus lands.

So in our house built in 1859, we face more decisions than we can shake a stick at. Tuckpointing, landscaping, painting, shutter hanging, and finding more sandstone held our attention all year. I now know that golden sandstone originates in our area. Blue-gray spotted sandstone is quarried 12 miles away. When I walk our dog Maria through our town’s architecturally featured sandstone, I wonder over the geologic artistry and tension constantly beneath us. How does nature decide?

received_232846574071777Maggie, now a college senior, juggles her own tremendous tensions. Along with her courses, she faces a year-long Independent Study program. Because of her interest in criminal justice reform, she’s researching TV police dramas, calculating the representation of women and People of Color in the main cast, victims, and perpetrators. She tracks positive and negative portrayals and presents her findings in the spring. As I puzzled over her study choice, I had an oops moment. At bedtime when she was a baby, the only song Cliff and I both knew was Long Black Veil:


Ten years ago, on a cold, dark night
There was someone killed ‘neath the town hall light.
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed
That the man who ran looked a lot like me.

Surely a baby couldn’t understand innocence or judicial systems. But my mother always insisted it was an odd lullaby. At any rate, however she came by it, Maggie is devoted to a service profession. She can’t right every wrong, but she’ll get close.

IMG_20180224_084820125Cliff continues to drive for Meals on Wheels and balances that with his travels and garden duty. In New Mexico and Colorado, he played ground crew to a Tulsa friend who skis, and he experienced a lifelong dog-sledding dream. He raced across the snow beneath the West’s expansive blue sky. This autumn, he and a childhood friend traveled the Great Lakes on scenic byways. On the home front, he expanded his garden with carrots and eagerly anticipates harvesting his first asparagus in the spring. One morning as he read on the porch, he looked up to see Percival (the peacock I mentioned in last year’s review who curiously showed up in our town) staring at him. Eventually the bird lunched on Cliff’s okra, convincing us the bird has Southern tastes, so Cliff might add black-eyed peas to his crops.


Percival often surprises me as I walk the dog. We’ll encounter him peering at us from behind a tree. Sometimes he walks with us for a bit. Our neighbor called one morning to report Percy was at our gate. When the bird started to cross the street, I stepped out beside him, knowing traffic might see me before him. The town wasn’t going to lose him on my watch. Percy hesitated. Did he recognize me without Maria? I don’t know what a bird thinks, but we walked together to the other side. The whole town looks out for him, not that any of us ever expected to be peacock whisperers.

But we are. In a way.

Sometimes I forget about him, only to discover one of his beautiful feathers in my path. I only knew about glorious peacock tail feathers, but now I see they are all beautiful–brown stripes, cottony gray fluff, tiny blues and greens–iridescent magic drifting across our sandstone sidewalks to my delight.

And I carry them home, these tokens from a peacock who chose our neighborhood.


I hope you discover something wild and blue this year. Don’t frustrate yourself with questions. It won’t matter that you can’t explain it.

Let it delight you.

Believe that it chose you.




8 thoughts on “Our 2018 Tale, Which Happens To Be Blue

  1. Green beans, carrots, okra and cantaloupe were all added to my garden of delights this year with varying degrees of success. The green beans were most prolific and gives us fresh beans well beyond all expectations. A big thanks to Maggie for all of her bean picking efforts. She kept us and many of our neighbors with fresh beans for many weeks.


  2. Maggie is a formidable thinker!!! It’s interesting…we all have little souvenirs of Percy. I didn’t realize that he had interacted with Cliff in that way! How neat! I’ve been trying to formulate a “communication letter” to send out to friends and relatives…..yes, it’s after Christmas…..In my church, we only start the season of Christmas on Christmas day and go to Jan. 6th. I’m trying to find positive things to write….it’s so easy to be more negative….but no one likes or finds interesting, a negative Christmas newsletter. Percy may just be the sunshine I need to keep from being maudlin this year. Thanks for your observations; I look forward to them. Love and hugs to Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Percy represents the magic that is always nearby. We just have to believe it. And it’s impossible not to smile at his bright blue presence. I know he’s a wild bird and could leave any day, but I have his feathers to remind me that, yes, he was part of my life. I’ll never forget going outside to see him peeking at me through our fence, not to mention crossing the road together. (As you know, Maggie herself feels like the same kind of miracle to us. I appreciate that you believed in her, too.) Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Best wishes on your newsletter.)


  3. Thank you for this family year in review and updates. I had not known Maggie’s independent study topic. She is such an impressive young woman, thanks to her parents!


    1. I appreciate that. While I do believe we’ve done well by her, she was already the most competent baby I’d ever seen when they handed her to us in China. By the way, it’s been a crime-show marathon almost every evening since she arrived home for winter break. She calculates every scene on her laptop. Now Cliff and I are noticing the under representation or stereotypical depictions.


  4. Trying to catch up. I’ll say it again. When you write, I am walking right beside you, helping Percy stay safe, gathering his feathers, and thinking, “Cliff, think about a little corn too.”


    1. What a great compliment. Percy has his own personality, which I hadn’t considered in peacocks. But why wouldn’t he? Our weather turned treacherous last week with a wind chill of -40. Frigid, pounding wind blasted us outside. Of course we all worried about Percy, who refuses to enter a nearby shed that was left open for him last winter after he arrived. An area expert said he wouldn’t because he’s a wild bird not trained to enclosures. Anyway, a neighbor posted his pic on FB to let us all know he survived. She explained the places he’d cleverly found to get him through the bitter cold.

      Liked by 1 person

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