Lift Your Eyes

Just before my senior year in high school, my father was transferred from Pueblo, Colorado to Leadville, Colorado. Needless to say, I was not very happy that I was uprooted and moved away from the happy high school life that I had in Pueblo. I was convinced that life two miles high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in a small former mining community would be unbearable. One cold summer afternoon when the rain finally stopped, I looked out of the window of our house and said to my mother, "I hate this place. It is ugly. All I see in this town is mud." Her response has stayed with me all this years. She said,"Sally, you need to lift your eyes. Look above the mud on the ground and look at those mountains." The magnificent Mt. Massive, still covered with snow, seemed to fill all of the horizon above the street for as far as the eye could see.  I did learn a life lesson in that moment.  Focus is everything.  What do we see when we look beyond the window?  Where do we wish to focus our view of the world around us?

One of the first things that my son, Jonathan said to me after Julie's services was that he wanted to come to Pueblo to help me build a garden to honor Julie.  Since I have a great deal of yard that still needs to be landscaped, I was thrilled to think that we might begin to work on this project together.  Jon, wearing his traditional lungi from Bangladesh decided that the first order of business would be to install a fountain in the flower garden that is being developed on the side of the house.  This turned into an all day project, but, we finally had it installed and working.  Of course there was some water fun that kept interrupting the work!

While Jon and his wife Samantha worked on the fountain installation, Atticus joined me in planting some flowers.  What a joy it was for me to sit around a small flower garden with my grandson and dig in the dirt.  The curious sort, he had all kinds of questions and observations.  We decided that he should be a botanist someday so that he could study about dirt, bugs, plants and other interesting things.  I must admit that I used my influence to try to lead him in the direction that I think would be such a fascinating field.  He hoped we'd find a worm.  We did.  I went and got my brand-new jewelers 20X illuminated magnifying glass(my graduation present from Colorado Master Gardeners), and we looked for the worm's head.

Jon and I finally selected a spot for Julie's Garden.  We decided it should be the trampoline since that is a gathering place for kids of all ages in our family.  Also, that part of the yard is totally ugly and hot and could use some help.

I came up with the picture of the dream corner I wanted to create from a gardening magazine.  (Our spot is still a very long ways from looking like the picture!)  We thought a small patio next to the shed would be nice to build.  This would give us a place to have a small bistro type table.

Now that we had a vision, some bricks and two men to get busy on the work, I could leave the work up to Jon and Jim.

Jon had a lot of work to do just getting rid of weed guard, the bark and leveling the ground.  Then, he and Jim brought in some sand to make the foundation for the bricks.  (These bricks used to be the bricks in our old patio on the side of the house. I guess they've been moved a few times now!)

Since Jon is young and has his original knees, he became our official bricklayer.  He has been watching a lot of the men in Bangladesh put down the bricks for roads by hand since he got there, so he knew exactly what to do.

PLEASE NOTE:  The corner behind the shed that we selected, is less than perfect due to the fact that our neighbor just that day came up with his solution to the fence I had Jim tear down that was falling into our yard.  Don't you love the orange, plastic fence?  Since our neighbor has not been interesting in sharing the cost of fixing this old fence, I guess I am going to have to pay him a visit soon so we can discuss how his choice is not working for me.

After a long, hot day doing the brick work, Jon, Jim and I drove to Canon City to get some trees.  We wanted a tree for this area that would:  a)not get too big, b) shade the small patio and trampoline, c) be the most beautiful around either Julie's birthdate in April, or the date of her death in May.  We selected a Newport Plum.  I love it because the leaves will always have a rich burgundy red/orange color.  In the spring, it will be covered with vanilla colored flowers with burgundy centers.

We also decided to replace the tree that we removed last summer.  We need the shade for our main patio and for our bedroom.  An Autumn Purple Ash was selected.

The trees were not delivered until Jon had left for home.  It was a wonderful day, when they were delivered and planted.  Planting a tree and building a garden are very healing ways to grieve the loss of a loved one.  In this case, I can't even tell you how much comfort it gives me each day to look out and see Julie's plum tree.  It reminds me of her somehow.  I think that sometimes when she used to dye her hair red, it would almost be this color.  Maybe it is just that it is a tall, beautiful thing of beauty that stands out in nature.  I think of her that way.

                                                       The beginning stages of Julie's Garden
                                                                      The Newport Plum

Each day, I gaze our my window and lift my eyes.  I see the two trees we planted.  It gives me comfort to see these trees and think about how they will grow and shade my home, Julie's Garden, and the trampoline for years to come.  They represent hope.  They represent inspiration.  This will be a place for healing, a place for laughter, a place to remember times past, and place to create new memories.  The trees allow me to lift my eyes and see beyond this earth.

Vienna and A Memorable Evening - Part III

Vienna &
A Memorable Evening

I find it very hard to even write about Vienna because the city seemed to impress me at every turn. According to a guide book, Vienna is known for its coffee and croissants. These two things and much of the architecture of Vienna speak of the Turkish influence. The Turks also brought tulip and hyacinth bulbs and lilac bushes to Vienna. Vienna is at its most beautiful in May. We were there during the waning days of April.

Everywhere in Vienna, one finds evidence of baroque architecture and design. Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette and 15 others, built Schonbrunn Palace soon after she established Vienna as the of capital of the Austrian kingdom.
She had a great love for baroque design and Mozart. Her influence is seen everywhere. In the photo below, I am pointing to one mom I really have to admire: Maria Theresa, otherwise known as "Europe's mother-in-law." One of her sons-in-law didn't end up doing so well. I guess that is a lesson in why we shouldn't arrange marriages for our children.

I could not even begin to capture through photography the beauty and uniqueness of Vienna. Schonbrunn Palace is as splendid as anything in Europe. We took a carriage ride through the gardens during which I nearly went crazy from the beauty of spring that was budding all around me. When I discovered I couldn't do the sights around me justice, I just put the camera away and enjoyed the beauty . I have included a photo of Schonbrunn Palace.

It was in Vienna where we went to the Museum of Fine Arts and saw a large collection of the Dutch masters. On our way as we walked to the museum, we passed a statue honoring Goethe.
Once, when I working on my English degree and was reading Goethe, I asked Jim if he had ever read anything by written by the German author. "Yes, in German," my husband replied. I found new respect for him with that statement! It
turns out that he read "Faust" in German in college. Jim loved seeing this statue honoring
this famous German author.

It seems that everywhere you look in Vienna you see something made of marzipan. The cakes in this photo are all made entirely out of marzipan.
Speaking of marzipan, before we left for our trip, Jim's niece told us about Mozart balls. "You can't go to Vienna and not eat a Mozart ball," she said. So, of course, that is one of the first things we bought. These delicious little chocolate balls are made of several layers of different flavors of chocolate surrounding a center of marzipan.

An Evening of Music at Kursalon

Before we went on our trip, Jim asked me if I would be interested in attending a chamber music concert while we were in Vienna. Of course, I was interested. One simply can't go to Vienna, the world music capital, and not attend a concert. On Saturday evening, April 24th, we were able to have a very memorable evening listening to musicians play music by Mozart, Strauss and others at the beautiful Kursalon.

Not feeling well when I got to the concert hall, I made my way down two flights of narrow stairs to the restroom and then back up again . Dying for a glass of water "without gas," I asked the bartender if he might be able to give me a glass of water before I went into the concert hall. Jim and all of our friends were already seated and waiting for the event to begin. Graciously, the bartender gave me a glass of cold water and would not accept any money for it. He invited me to step outside to the terrace for some fresh air to drink the water.

If you look at the link I put in this post for the Kursalon, you will see many beautiful statues of Greek gods on top of this building. It is behind and just below these statues where this terrace was located. I stepped out for the welcomed cool air and walked over to the edge of the terrace where I had a view of the moon. From my vantage spot, I could gaze out at the new spring foliage on the trees and down to the drive below that was filled with concert goers in evening dress. The experience was magical. "Just think," I thought to myself. "Here I am, the only person on this beautiful terrace drinking in the beauty of the spring evening as I look forward to listening to chamber music being played in Vienna, Austria." Refreshed, I stepped into the concert hall and let myself be carried away with the music. The power of the music allowed me to fully live in the moment. Forgetting my worries, my tiredness and other bodily discomforts, under the beautiful chandeliers, seated in the front row on a side section, with my wonderful husband at my side, I was one with the musical beauty of Vienna.

Later, I learned that Kursalon means "a spa or a cure." At one time people came her to drink the curative water and listen to the music. It certainly worked for me.


My friend and I meet once a month on Monday nights to write. The two of us form our own little writing group. We begin our writing group by writing about a one word prompt. I always shutter in anticipation to see what word Lynette will come up with for me at our monthly writing time.

A few months ago, she gave me the word: inspiration. By definition, inspiration means: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, do something creative.

I love inspiration, but can also be led astray by it. I can start down an inspired path and then discover that I have lost the vision that led my down a particular path, or worse yet, I am bored by what once had inspired me.

I mostly find inspiration in the garden. It is there where I create wonderful visions and ideas in my head as I dig and dream. In the garden, when I've had the inspiration to create a vision that I thought would work, I find that I am also forgiving of my failures. I accept that nature may have had other ideas, or perhaps, I did not consider nature's rules when I first created my vision. It is freeing for me to accept that my inspiration was incomplete.

In the garden, I am forgiving for my lack of foresight. Thinking that I have accounted for potential growth, I've planted shrubs or perennials too close to each other or too close to a walkway. When a plant just doesn't work out where I thought it would, I just get a shovel and move things around. Oh, if only life were like this!

Basically, I'm just a dig in the dirt kind of gardener who is led by the vision in my mind. I don't have that freedom in my writing. I wish I could follow that same wild, colorful and unplanned kind of inspiration in my writing that I have found in gardening. Perhaps, it is in the garden that I most able to create voice. I am working on being able to bring that same voice to my writing.