wings

angel wings

There they were just beside the steps to our side porch, two sweet feathers caught on the branches of our growing (wildly) Nandina. The splattering of other tiny ones across the driveway let me know the scene that had unfolded there earlier in the afternoon was probably not a peaceful one. Still the site of this soft, pretty duo gave me pause, and so I snapped a photo.

I hope it makes you smile. I hope it reminds you you are loved.

You are cherished, indeed.

 

 

I’d love to send you notice each time there’s a new Daily Grace post. Just leave me your email below.


 

happy accidents

I have a new writing desk in my so-fun studio downstairs. It’s a swell little grey number on rollers, the perfect size to fit between the brick columns that previously defined the room as an open air porch. Last November we closed it all in, creating the most wonderful space for me to paint, write, make things, play.

The desk itself, as I said, is there between the columns, centered on a gigantic window that looks out over our back yard and just beyond, Bickley’s Pond.

It makes me so happy.

I was doing a little work in that very spot this week when I happened to glance up from my laptop screen to get this pretty view of the zinnia bed. It is so filled with flowers it is truly ridiculous. And yet I can’t bring myself to thin them out. For some reason, I am much more content to just watch the show as stem after stem does its best to outshine and out dance its neighbors. I reached for my camera and took a shot without getting up from my chair, not realizing the window’s frame partially blocked the view.

zinnias

a happy accident

 

It was a good mistake, I think, the smudgy bottom edge adding an interesting element to the photo I didn’t intend at all.

Don’t you love it when that happens?

 

 

A little Daily Grace in your inbox? I say yes!


 

Connecting with the Williams Sisters

IMG_0806How cool it was to have an up close view of the Williams sisters as they played doubles in the U.S. Open this year. Every point was as powerful as I expected. Then they walked toward each other, gently slapped hands, and oh so quietly shared a private word or two.

IMG_0802

They did it every point, win or lose.

IMG_0822

Every. Single. Point.

I became totally enthralled with this routine, wondering what on earth they were saying to each other. By now, surely, Venus and Serena know tennis well enough to not need point-by-point coaching. Surely, after a million points in a hundred thousand matches, they can read each other’s minds. I mean, they’re sisters. Do they do it to psyche-out their competitors? Perhaps. Or maybe they’re just offering each other a little good job or nice hit or I got your back.

That’s what I’m hoping. At the heart of the power and might that is The Williams Sisters,  I’m hoping these intimate exchanges are their strength, their connection.

IMG_0821IMG_0817 IMG_0800IMG_0824 IMG_0808 A little word of encouragement after every point. I like it.

 

A little Daily Grace in your inbox? I say yes! Just leave me your email here!


 

The Nicities Jar

I noticed it there the first afternoon of our weekend in New York, a glass jar tucked quietly into a corner on Colette’s kitchen counter. It was stuffed with little pieces of paper that bulged beyond the rim in an unusual—and interesting—way.

the niceties jar

Eventually I asked: That jar. What’s the story there?

What a beautiful answer I got!

It started the afternoon one of Julia’s teachers helped her study for a test, said Colette, my hostess, sister-in-law, and the mother of my beautiful college freshman niece, Julia. (You’ve read of her before here on The Daily Grace.) Julia mentioned to the teacher that she loved the scarf she was wearing, and the teacher took it off, wrapped it around Julia’s neck, and said it would make her very happy if Julia would just keep it.

“That was just the nicest thing!” said Julia when she later told her Mom the story. “It meant so much to me, I want to always remember it.”

So they decided to write the memory down on a slip of paper and keep it in a “Nicities” jar right there in their busy kitchen. Each time something special happened during the year, they would make a note and add it to the collection.

“You know what’s amazing?” said Colette, her eyes sparkling. “We started the Nicities jar during Julia’s Senior year. It was the perfect time—Senior Year is so intense, filled with so much pressure. It made a huge difference to all of us to focus on the nicest moments.”

What a beautiful way to bring quiet grace to light.

 

Mrs. Andrews

Kat and Grace

 

Westchester triathlon

 

I think I’ll make a Nicities jar for my kitchen today. And I think I’ll start with this:

photo

 

I’m happy to send you a notice each time there’s a new Daily Grace post. Just leave me your email below!


 

 

 

 

Hot Dog!

With all we’ve got going on, can we squeeze in a quick trip to New York for Labor Day?

That’s what my husband asked me several weeks ago. It won’t take much for you to believe my immediate answer was yes.

We’re very lucky, you see, that Tim’s sister and her family live just outside the city. So we not only have a wonderful place to stay—we also have the most perfect host/ess for our trips north.

Colette picked us up at the airport and whisked us straight into the city for a walk through Central Park. I am fortunate to have made many trips to The Big Apple, but I’ve never actually strolled these famous grounds. Stop One? Lunch from a NYC street cart!

yeah, i did.

yeah, i did.

Then we spent a couple of hours making our way through the park, from the sailboat pond to the merry-go-round; past the skating rink and around Strawberry Fields. It was magical.

image

On our way out of the park we headed into the Metropolitan Museum, where we breezed through the current Garry Winogrand photography exhibit (remarkable) and up to the rooftop for a cocktail and this gorgeous view of the city.

image

Then dinner with friends at a fun and fabulous restaurant on the Lower East Side, The Mermaid Inn. (I feel so local throwing around phrases like “dinner on the Lower East Side.”) Perfection.

How happy I am to be here in this city, enjoying it with people I love!

In August

Last winter, we created the most wonderful studio for me just down the back stairs of our house. It’s an area that was previously a covered porch (and a place that really didn’t get much use). So we closed in the brick arches with windows, added a french door and VOILA! Now I spend many, many happy hours in that bright little space writing, painting, working.

Here is what I see when I am there.

green

Here is what I think:

How I love the green of August.

 

hello old friend

We moved to Bickley’s Pond in 2008, and one of the great joys we discovered here was an Eagle’s nest just across the tiny cove from our back yard. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get the chance to watch such fascinating activity from my screen porch; our house is built on a lot that slopes toward the water, so we have a pretty good “bird’s eye view” from the main level of our house. We raised three broods there, those eagles and I, something I was thrilled to share here on The Daily Grace. (You can follow much of the story via the links below.)

And then the giant pine in which they’d built their nest died, and the branches became frail, and the nest began to crumble. I think I’d have cried the day I watched as the entire thing fell 100 feet to the ground—except that a major contributor was the fact there were three giant eaglets fighting over food in the nest at the time. How I delighted in watching those babies grow.

With the nest gone, the eagles built farther back in the woods. My friend Jay (an expert) took Tim and me on a hike to visit the eagles one Sunday afternoon. My heart warmed to find them at home and, seemingly, very comfortable there.

All of this is to say there hasn’t been much eagle activity in my life of late. In fact, I don’t think I’d seen either of them all summer. And then two days ago, I happened to catch sight as one or the other cut a flight path right through our yard, no doubt headed to Lake Murray or the tree in Matt’s yard with the natural perch they love.

And then yesterday, just as I passed by the big window over my kitchen sink, I saw the eagle again, just above the pond. I watched as he swooped down and back, and then landed in a tree just at the edge of the water, right on our side of the fence. I ran for the camera and crept down the side yard hoping for a quick up-close shot. He spotted me and those giant wings lifted off. My heart sunk a little as I click click clicked, hoping to get something worth sharing. And then to my delight he landed on a branch just across the water.

Hello old friend I said out loud as I raised the camera to my eye. It’s mighty good to see you again.

8.21.14, on Bickley's Pond

8.21.14, on Bickley’s Pond

Follow much of the Eagle Saga here:

Part I, 2009: Eagle nest in our back yard.

Part II: Strange Eagle activity. Eagle eggs? Babies. X2! They eat. They grow. Big. Fast. They want to fly. They are so high. We fret.

Part III: They fly! And then they are gone, and we are left here. Empty nesters on Bickley’s Pond.

Part IV: Spring 2012 Three years pass.

Part V: The Eagle Nest Falls

Part VI: Reversal of Fortune

Part VII: Finding the new eagle nest

 

If you’d like to receive The Daily Grace in your inbox, just leave me your address here! No spam, I promise. Just links to new posts!


 

Seasons.

We live our lives in seasons, moving gently from one to the next, so quiet it’s hardly worth a notice most days. And then something happens that catapults you into awareness—a job change, the death of a parent, your child going to college—and the change feels intense and immediate and shocking. It makes me think of that stunt that’s been the rage of late, the one where you get a bucket of ice water poured over your head. It’s the kind of thing that sure grabs your attention.

How lucky we are that most of our days don’t include buckets of ice water. Instead, God most often hands life out to us slowly, a little bit at a time.

~~~~

I sit here writing this on my back porch in August as the sun is setting and the world is cooling down. The cardinals have been by for dinner and most have gone on, except for the lone bird I hear chirping in the Crape Myrtle. It is quiet and peaceful and still, and I am grateful.

Still, for many of my friends, these are ice bucket days. Kindergarten for Brooke, first grade for the Barr twins, first day of high school for Julian and Macy, first day without her baby boy for my dear friend Lisa, who delivered 6’2″ Ayden to college this weekend. I know exactly how each of them feels; I have been there before. Oh, have I been there before.

 

eliza, first day of first grade

eliza, first day of first grade

 

But now I am in a different season, one in which the moments, by and large, have become my own. I fill them with things that bring my soul joy: I write (a lot). I read. I make things. I binge-watch television (Homeland). And if we’re being honest, I’ve seen way more episodes of Chopped than I care to mention.

I go to work, and I come home, and there is no carpool to coordinate, no paperwork to fill out, no cheerleading uniform to wash, no wrapping paper to sell, no homework to oversee.There’s just my own big life, ready to be filled.

~~~~

I think about God and what a grand plan it is to keep us all moving, season to season. Summer ends, yes, and we mourn. But then comes Fall, that glorious time of football and pumpkins and spiced tea and a chill in the air. And Winter, with wood fires and big pots of soup and the air alive with fresh cedar. And Spring. Oh Spring, all new buds and sunshine and garden shoots and possibility, endless and colorful.

How lovely it is to live in a world in which there is always something to look forward to.

~~~~~

My phone pings and it’s a message from my sweet Eliza, all moved in to a house and ready for her Senior year in college.

Guess what I’m making for dinner? she asks, a question that makes me smile. She’s on a quest to find things to cook that are healthy and easy, and she called me for a suggestion from the grocery store earlier today. Roasted onions, squash, zucchini and mushrooms she says.

My heart rejoices.

~~~~~

Yes, we move season to season to season according to a grand plan that makes it all work, a plan designed to keep us moving forward. It’s not always easy. (Water bucket moments.) But we adjust. We adapt. And we reinvent.

And then a miracle happens and we find so much to be grateful for in new blessings that come our way.

They always do, don’t they? Isn’t that the promise?

They always do.

 

our latest selfie, just before my baby left for Senior year

our latest selfie, just before she left for Senior year

 

 

 

 

Pure Cute!

Just when I need one more bit of sweet, fleeting summer, along comes this email from my friend and co-worker, Kelly. We were at Litchfield when Brooke saw this and said: We need to send this to Miss Cathy. How I love that she noticed the feathers. I I love that she thought of me!

photo 1

Litchfield Beauty 1

photo 3

Litchfield Beauty 2

How I love this adorable photo of my precious friend!

photo 2

My friend Brooke, the real beauty of Litchfield beach!

 

(Isn’t she just the cutest???)

 

One Big Happy Family

I’ve been a bit in mourning over the last bluebird nest, the one the Mama abandoned with four little unhatched eggs. And I’ve kept a steady watch for the parents—I want irrefutable proof they are both still around. Typically that means looking out the window just after supper; they most often show up just as I’m washing the dinner dishes. Most nights I see at least one, but since they tend to hang around down by the water, I can’t always get a good enough look to know for sure whether I’ve spotted a male or a female.

And then just before we left for Spain, I looked out to see some baby bird activity.

single

I grabbed the camera and ran for the porch. There were birds everywhere! As I opened the screen door, they scurried one yard over, to the Cope’s . We’d had a light rain and there were still some drops coming down. But I didn’t care as I realized just what was going on.

2

Papa goes first.

bathing

Now for the babies.

10-bluebirds

And then there were ten!

Ten—count ‘em, ten—bluebirds, and most of ‘em babies, having the finest time playing in the water collected in the kayak’s hull.

I thought I might faint! Which birds were these? My bluebirds could not have hatched a new nest in the time that had passed since I last saw the Mama sitting on the nest on our downstairs porch. And surely there were at least two broods collected here. Is this another family of bluebirds altogether? I could spot one Papa in many of my photos (you see him above in bright blue), but I still couldn’t identify the Mama.

Oh well. Whoever they are, I think it’s a miracle. Right there on Bickley’s Pond, one big happy bluebird family!

birdies!

bluebirdies!