My Backyard Friends

Once upon a time, Stay at home moms communed over their backyard fences while hanging laundry out to dry. Their social needs to bond and chat were met because their days required them to be outside with their neighbors doing the very same chores. When the “automatic” washer and dryer arrived to make life easier, laundry became an inside task. And being inside meant a new era of isolation for the very people who needed community support.

Mt Vernon in Baltimore on

Where once women were connected and substantiated over our fences in the sunlight with sheets dancing in the wind and children shrieking at our heels, now there’s a disconnect to our backyards and to ourselves.  Garden and card playing clubs and porch sitting gave way to soap operas and TV sitcom addictions. We’ve fallen out of touch with our natural need to bond with people in our community, the ones we are always a part of whether we know it or not. We’ve forgotten how to request support. We suspect it might be good for us to have community “if we could just find the time”. We are unaware that the smile from someone and human touch can heal us from so much pain and fear.

At the Walter's Art Gallery on

Long disassociated from our fellow women folk, we surprised ourselves by embracing the internet and, stripped of all our pretenses, we delved into the online world of social media bearing our sorrows and struggles as we posted soulful paragraphs and square photographs. Suddenly a generation of turtle women is coming out of their shells. And we are connecting again with our global community albeit a sometimes faceless one as the rare selfie is all we have to go on to know what our new friends look like. What is truly amazing is that we already know each other even though we’ve never spoken.

My new Friend on

I was buoyed this month when I came out of the box and met with fellow Mother and creative Leah, a contemporary who I have much in common with and met through Instagram. I needed to hear her voice as she gave words to the same struggles I’m experiencing and suddenly, those struggles were smaller. We are more empowered to create plans of action together when we hear the same worries and realities behind others’ stories and we can say, “I’ve been there. This is what I did”. We allow ourselves to move on then.

A tthe Walters Art Gallery on

A the Walters Art Gallery on

A tthe Walters Art Gallery on

My new friend and I met for the first time at the Walters Art Gallery in downtown Baltimore, the city where we both spent our teen and young adult years. And what a delight to talk creativity and artistic direction. We talked about motherhood, childhood, stumbling and rising again.

I have a new friend and renewed hope that where I’m headed, and the lovely women I am headed there with, are all my destiny.

Garden in Baltimore on

 I like the view of my life’s possibilities standing out in my backyard, standing out in the world, standing with people I met through our new playground telling and listening to one another’s stories.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Weeding My Garden

This weekend was a glump of happy life happenings. It was a Mother’s Day weekend of wonderful gifts. My cooking hiatus started Thursday so carry out food it was for three nights in a row. Usually this would bother me. Not this weekend.

Caitlin and Fiona on Shalavee.comOur surrogate daughter Caitlin visited Friday and she and everyone else but me and Fiona went to see a local high school production. Instead, Fiona and I watched Follow That Bird, the Big Bird movie from the 80’s. Sweet. And then came Saturday, the day I’d been patiently awaiting. My gardening relief crew showed up as planned. The Uber Weeder on

My garden story is a story of overwhelm and give up. But it was also a story I hated telling. So I asked for help from two women who I knew would bring it on strong. The uber-weeder and the disciplinarian/transplanter. I am so cheered and encouraged by their presence in my life and my garden. Hope has returned. And these are the thoughts that bubbled up for me on life and gardening. Ajuga takes over on

Everyone’s got a life garden they are tending. The original garden plan is created in the family you grow up with but sometimes the major focal plants are just not what you want or need in your garden in your adult life. One person’s rose is another’s thorny weed. And so it’s up to you to decide which dreams and efforts are worth keeping and making the effort for and which need to be summarily yanked from that bed and tossed ceremoniously over the precipice. The Boobis Garden

Sometimes in my garden I’ll continue to coddle plants that needed the boot long ago. I’m a laissez faire gardener. Sometimes I make so much effort only to have half the garden get nuked by two freakish years of spring frost. Sometimes, we don’t want to make the effort unless we know it’s the perfect height and color plant in the perfect micro-climate in the perfect soil and light. Perfection is also a garden killer. And a life thwarter. Nothing grows if it’s not planted.New plants to kill on Shalavee.comBut most of the time you are taking a gamble on every single choice you make in the garden and your life. Once you expect the unexpected, you can start to hedge your bets. You’ll make good friends with people who have gardens and who have the sort life they can advise you on creating. You get medieval on the weeds and the negative influences in your life. And you keep your eye on the prize, your hands in the dirt, and you keep on digging, goaling, and doing. Awaiting my garden help on

My garden is nothing like I’d like it to be. And yet, I am beginning to see my garden and my life not as a product but as a process. A learning process. Not as a destination but an adventure. My perception of how things are going is the only control that I have. The quality of my garden is both mine to make and to choose to then see. So I begin again. Enjoying the small moments, seeking some bigger ones to take root. And not trying to overachieve while I still have a wee Fiona ensconced in my soul and my time. All in good time.

(The story of my lovely mother’s day weekend will be another upcoming post. Talk atcha then.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Sandwich Generation

An annual holiday-time dinner with close friends had me cooking and catering this weekend. It’s a my turn , your turn, their turn kinda deal. And being pregnant had gotten me off the hook for a couple of years.

As we were all pouring our glasses of port or coffees, digesting the fabulous beef tenderloin, crab cakes, and twice baked potatoes I’d cooked up, I began to ask about how everyone’s Mothers and Fathers are. Because a few of our group have gotten AARP (American Assoc. for Retired Persons) cards in the mail and few of us haven’t. But we’re folks of a certain age. The age where some of us have parents who’ve begun to have health issues. And some of us have small children too. We’re called the Sandwich Generation .Unky John buying Eamon a sword on

And then my dear friend, whom I love as a brother, says,”Let’s address the elephant in the room. Who’ll take care of us when we get old?” And my other friend says, “Be really nice to Eamon”. As of now, neither of these couples have had children and that choice, when applied to this discussion, suddenly seems a scary one.Mum Mum and Fiona on

Eamon and I on

First, I’d love to offer up my children to help these dear people out when he and they are older. And surely there will be relationships in place because we are all close. But blood’s blood and I realized that his first obligation is to us, his sister, his grandmothers, and his aunts and uncles.

Grammy and Fiona on

I can’t say that I birthed them because I was thinking about having someone to take care of me. I have yet to think of myself as older and infirmed ever and in a situation where I’d need that care. I had the children for the love that I could give them. That’s the idea. Selflessness and stuff.Snowsuits Suck on

I would hope that there would be no dreadful sense of obligation but more of deep respect and love and compassion that anyone I’d cared for in my life would want to care about me, at the least my kid. But life is quick and tricky and relationships can be slippery.

Sometimes people don’t want to be taken care of. Mark’s Grandmother wouldn’t budge from her house even though she prayed every time she went up and down the steps. I kept thinking how, if she loved all these people, why wouldn’t she cut them a break from worrying about her and move somewhere that meant less risks and fear of danger. Nope. She was doing it her way.

DSC07397Eventually older people do become frail and can not navigate stairs so well. It will inevitably happen to us too. So this house will only be good for us if we’re in good health. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that our needs are taken care of outside of our children first. Then, we can just enjoy those last years or moments when we need each other most to just be and not worry about details. Provided my children still like me then. You never know. Your thoughts are always welcome here.

Paper Connections : Nearby

As I stated in my previous Paper Connection : Faraway post, connecting with people really has made a profound difference in how I feel about myself. Even the interactions I have with the local folks as I go through my daily routine in our small town of Denton, Maryland, make me feel good about being me. And so I thought why not create an event where I and some of my very favorite women here could craft, bond, eat, and drink over Christmas crafting and card making. Many of these gals I knew back when I had my shop, Bally Eden, and we often speak of missing it.

As I was doing my painting on the brown leaves, they felt like nature’s kraft paper, and my invitations were inspired.

brown leaf inspiration on sha;


brown leaf inspiration on sha;

From the leaves and the paper card crafting, I had my color palette and materials chosen.

craft party invitations on

craft party invitations on

The idea for the crafting play date was for guests to bring some supplies to plop in the middle of the table to share. We could then be inspired by many materials to make cards or gift cards or present toppers and get some craft on while we ate and drank and chattered on about whatever.

craft supplies on

And so I hauled out the crafting supplies

crafting party on

And my friends showed up and we got our craft on. Paper connections were made.

Caitlin's birds on

getting our craft on at

getting our craft on at

  I made turkey chili, buttermilk cornbread, red velvet cupcakes, and that McCormick’s veggie soup mix dip with spinach and chopped up water chestnuts. Box of white and a box of red and fun was had by all. Despite being distracted, I still managed to make my sister a card and a few gift tags with kraft paper and washi tape. Everyone was inspired and pleased with their craftiness. And yes, we all totally stole ideas from one another. Crafting, however and whomever you can share it with, is good for the soul.

Facebook Shennanigans : Address Change

As with all computer activities, Facebook has become annoying and necessary. A really good read was my piece called My Face about my initiation by fire into the realms of Facebook. I am more in touch with so many people and find many read my work there. My Shalavee FB address was a really long string of letters and numbers. Once you have 25 followers, you are allowed to change the address to actual words. Except Shalavee or wasn’t available. Seems there’s someone else on Facebook with this name? Slalavee Oneofakind Smith lives in Florida. The only reason my blog is even called Shalavee is because a French restaurant in some vacation spot in Harrogate, England had grabbed Chez La Vie. So in the end, I chose my Facebook page address as Shalagh blogs at Shalavee or ShalaghblogsatShalavee. So anyway.

Flowers in the kitchen from

While I don’t seem to have come face to face with as many of the problems as my friend Jane has using Facebook, I remained perplexed about how I could see my liked pages in my feed. I feel lame if I forget to check in on other bloggers’ pages. I recently read something that suggested making your own lists of the pages you like on the left column of your home page. Do unto others. But this technological stuff will be the death of me. I can see why you don’t want to even muddle your brain with this stuff dear reader. I know who you are.

Kitchen attack from

If you haven’t liked me on the Shalavee Facebook page, would you please do so? I am publishing 3 times weekly, Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Guarantee you’ll not miss my posts by subscribing and have them sent to your mailbox. I adore watching the subscriber number go up.  When I first drafted this post in March, it was only 58. After a recent beg-athon, it rose to 79 ! Would that it would just go to 80.

Again, thanks to all y’all that made that number climb. And as always, I am eternally grateful for you being here.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thank you for your visit. My wee fairy friends that live in the hollow tree in my back yard told me to tell you they will move to your house and keep an eye on you.

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