Be like a train; go in the rain,

go in the sun, go in the storm,

go in the dark tunnels!

Be like a train;

concentrate on your road

and go with no hesitation!
~Mehmet Murat ildan

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

***Unfold your own myth.***

I hope you will go out and let stories,

that is life, happen to you, and that

you will work with these stories . . .

water them with your blood &

tears & your laughter till they bloom,

till you yourself burst into bloom.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Learning the British Christmas Vocabulary

“Christmas is the season for kindling
 the fire of hospitality in the hall,
 the genial flame of charity in the heart. ”
~Washington Irving, 'Old Christmas'

Before I spent my first Christmas in England 18 years ago, I had a fixed idea in my mind of what a British Christmas was. A lot of my notions probably came from Dickens' A Christmas Carol or Washington Irving's Old Christmas and, like any good Anglophile, my idea of an English Christmas was very romanticised. It didn't take long to realise though, just how different a true British Christmas is to the Christmas card images in my mind and as it turns out, how different it is from an American Christmas. I even had to learn a new Yuletide vocabulary.  But even though it turned out to be very different than my imaginings, I quickly learned to love (most) things about a British Christmas. Here are just a few.....

There is no British Christmas without the CHRISTMAS CRACKERS, and boxes of them start appearing in shops sometime in September. They're as essential to the Christmas lunch as turkey and Christmas pudding. Each person takes an end and pulls until there's a little pop like a New Year's Eve popper.

You don't want to end up with the short end because the person left with the cracker gets to keep whatever's inside. There's always a joke or riddle that's read aloud, a tissue paper crown that everyone wears as they gather around the table, and a small toy or a 'useful' (useless) item like plastic nail clippers. Every year I see more and more Christmas crackers appearing back in the U.S., and it's nice to see the tradition spreading--seeing a table full of people all wearing paper crowns is one of the joys of Christmas.
There are boxes of Christmas crackers
in almost any pattern imaginable.

The paper crowns are essential
and no one gets out of wearing one.

The Christmas turkey with stuffng
balls and 'pigs in a blanket'.
CHRISTMAS LUNCH  is what Americans call Christmas dinner, and in Britain it's usually eaten at mid-day. Turkey made the trans-Atlantic crossing and usually graces the Christmas table these days, but many families still have duck or goose. Christmas lunch comes with all of the trimmings--potatoes roasted in duck or goose fat, brussel sprouts, little sausages wrapped in bacon called Pigs in a Blanket and stuffing. After Christmas, turkey left-overs get a curried make-over into Coronation Chicken or a Christmas turkey curry--something I haven't quite embraced, it's still turkey and cranberry in our house.

"Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said,
and calmly too, that he regarded it as the
greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit 
since their marriage. […]Everybody had
something to say about  it, but nobody said or
thought it was at all a small pudding
 for a large family. It would have
been flat heresy to do so."
~Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol'

The cornerstones of the British
Christmas -- mince pies, Christmas
pudding and Christmas cake.

Mrs. Cratchett carried her flaming Christmas Pudding topped with a sprig of holly, in to her anxiously waiting family, just as people had done for centuries before. The Christmas pudding, sometimes called Figgy Pudding which is a lighter version, has been at the centre of Christmas celebrations in Britain since the 16th century. Stuart calls it a Christmas 'pud', but in our home when I was growing up it was called 'plum pudding'.

The English Christmas pudding tastes similar to what Americans know as fruitcake--something most Americans hate, is the butt of many jokes, and re-gifting tins of Christmas fruitcake is a long-standing tradition. Maybe it's because I grew up with my mom's lighter plum pudding, but I've grown to love the darker and richer English Christmas 'pud', warm with brandy butter.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
 Oh, bring us a figgy pudding
and a cup of good cheer.
 We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
 We won't go until we get some,
so bring some out here!
~We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Traditionally Stir-up Sunday, which falls on the Sunday before the first Sunday in Advent, is when Christmas puddings were made and then cured until Christmas. The term comes from the opening words of the collect in the Book of Common Prayer 1549: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

Stirring the Pudding 
 Stem the currants
Stone the raisins
Chop the peel as fine as fine
Eat the eggs and shred the sweet
Grate the crumbs (no flour in mine)
Freely shake, to make it nice,
All the virtue of the spice
Pour the brandy liberally 
 Stir and wish, then, 
three times three.
~Eleanor Farjeon,
English poet, 1881-1965

Most everything about a Christmas
pudding carries significance.....

💚A pudding should be made with 13 ingredients
to represent Christ and His Disciples. 

💚The sprig of holly on top is often used
 as a reminder of the crown of thorns
worn by Christ on the cross.

💚Setting the brandy alight is said
to represent Christ’s passion.

💚A six-pence is traditionally stirred into the

batter for one lucky person to find on Christmas.

Stuart and I are most excited when the MINCE PIES start showing up in shops, and even in their gold or red boxes, they're flaky, fresh, and fruity. We go through boxes of them by the time New Years rolls around (they're small, so no judgement, just muffin tin size--that's what we tell ourselves anyway). Mince pies have gone through quite a transformation through the centuries, judging by this medieval recipe......

Mince and mix beef, suet of mutton, salt and
pepper. Make a faire large cofyn (basket or box),
and put in some of this meat. Then take capons,
hennes, mallardes, connynges …wodecokkes, teles,
grete birddes and plom hem in a boiling potte;
and then couch al this fowl in the coffyn.
Add more of the meat and mutton as well as
marrow, hard egg yolks, dates, raisins, prunes,
cloves, mace, cinnamon, and saffron. Close the
pie with a top crust and bake…but be ware, of
thou close it, that there come no saffron nygh
the brinkes therof, for then hit wol never close.

Now, though smaller and thankfully only with spiced fruit, mince pies are still a fixture throughout the Christmas season. It's not unusual to attend a Christmas concert or carol service and have mince pies and mulled wine served at the end. Stuart and I break open our first box of them sometime in November and it's a race to see who can eat the most before New Year--so far we're tied.😉

An 18th Century mince pie recipe.
This is just how seriously mince pies are taken--
the scene at our local Marks & Spencer before Christmas.

A British CHRISTMAS CAKE is a dark 
and heavy fruitcake with royal icing. 
sincerely doubt that this American
will ever develop a taste for it, but
 it's the beloved focal point for many 
Christmas lunches. 

The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is
only one fruitcake in the entire world,
 and people keep sending it to each other.
 ~Johnny Carson

And this is where most Americans
 stand on the issue of fruitcake.
(Courtesy of Gary Larson)

The day after Christmas Day is called BOXING DAY,  and was traditionally the day servants would receive a box of gifts and leftover food. Tradesmen would also go around and pick up 'Christmas Boxes' in thanks for their service throughout the year.  Now it's an extra holiday the day after Christmas (as well as our wedding anniversary💖).

One of the biggest differences between an American and a British Christmas, is that shops and businesses shut their doors on Christmas Eve and most don't reopen until the day after Boxing Day on the the 27th, something Americans haven't seen for decades. It's a perfect way to extend the time family and friends have to celebrate together and share leftovers (even if some of those left-overs are that old festive standby, 'Christmas turkey curry').

Most shops and smaller stores
close until after Boxing Day.

THE CHRISTMAS 'PANTO' is one of my favourite British Christmas traditions.  A 'panto', or pantomime, is performed at Christmas and is something for the whole family--from the littlest ones to grandparents. It's a slapstick musical/comedy based on a fairy tale or a children's book, full of song, dance, men dressed as women, buffoonery and catch-phrases.

For instance, if a villain is sneaking up behind the hero, the audience shouts out "Behind you!!!"  There's always a hero/heroine, a villain, and a comic lead who will yell out to the audience "Oh yes he did!!", and the audience shouts back, "Oh no he didn't".  It's so traditionally English that it's hard to describe it to a person who hasn't experienced one. My first panto was in the Cotswold village of Chipping Norton, where we saw Aladdin (and I also met most of Stuart's family for the first time, so between that and the panto, I wondered what on earth I was getting myself into). But 18 years on, I'm still here and still love the Christmas pantos. This year's pantomime in Oxford is 'Cinderella', and we already have our tickets.

This was us at the Oxford panto several
years ago--it truly is for every age
in our family....from 8 to 80.

My final two very British Christmas traditions will make more sense if you've seen the movie Love Actually, which is usually the first Christmas movie we watch every year. It follows the stories of a dozen or so Londoners as they navigate the Christmas season, their lives overlapping and eventually connecting through love, actually.

 In 'Love Actually' Bill Nighy plays an aging
rock star desperate for a Christmas Number One.
THE CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE is simply the number one selling single on the pop charts at Christmas, and it's nearly always the best selling song of the year.  Such illustrious songs as Wham's 'Last Christmas' only made it to the number two spot, many are record setting songs, but some are pretty dire novelty songs. Here's a small sampling:

1963 - The Beatles I Want to Hold Your Hand
1971 - Benny Hill  Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)
1975 - Queen  Bohemian Rhapsody
1980 - St. Winifred's School Choir  There's No One Quite Like Grandma
1984 - Band Aid   Do They Know It's Christmas
1993 - Mr. Blobby  Mr Blobby
2000 - Bob the Builder  Can We Fix It
2003 - Michael Andrews & Gary Jules  Mad World
2011 - Military Wives with Gareth Malone  Wherever You Are

The "works do" in 'Love Actually' when
Alan Rickman was up to no good--boo, hiss.

We "hate Uncle Jamie" & we hate this girl!
THE 'WORKS DO' is the office Christmas party.  It took me a little while to figure this one out, in fact it wasn't until I moved to Britain permanently that I deciphered what this grammatical nightmare meant.

It's the big, yearly office or workplace Christmas party and it seems that for some people at least, it's planned for and anticipated almost as much as Christmas Day.  Magazines and catalogues are full of flirty dresses and shiny shoes by the end of November, as women strategically plan their outfits with military precision.  Other than Stuart and I sharing a mince pie and some mulled wine in our kitchen, I'm forever grateful that I have no actual office or workplace to have a 'Works Do', so I'll never have to endure one.

The quintessential American Christmas--
the Christmas tree and ice skating at the
Rockefeller Center, New York City.
There are so many other small and nuanced differences in the way the British and the Americans celebrate Christmas, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas there are things that I miss from back home.  I miss all the houses lit up with Christmas lights outside, Salvation Army bell-ringers and carollers, and the vast array of Christmas cookies that great-great grandchildren of Norwegian, Swedish, and German immigrants bake every Christmas.

Growing up the daughter of a Lutheran
pastor meant that at Christmas our home
was full of gifts of krumkake (above),
butter cookies (spritz), 
berlinerkranser, and sandbakelse.
In the past we've always headed back home to the U.S. in mid-December, which means I get the best of both worlds at Christmas. I never have to endure a 'works do' or 'Christmas turkey curry', but I indulge in plenty of mince pies, pantos, and Christmas puds before heading home to the Christmas lights, carollers and Christmas cookies.

An American farmhouse, lit for Christmas. 
It's a scene duplicated from the
Atlantic to the Pacific and in all the cities,

small towns, and farmlands in between.
This year though, Stuart and I are staying put in Oxford for Christmas and New Years. We'll have family visiting, the house to ourselves, put up not one but two Christmas trees, and whatever doesn't move will be decorated with holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, cinnamon sticks, Santas and snowmen--or even if it does move, like Jack for instance........

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of
things, that while  there is infection in disease
and sorrow, there is nothing in the  world so
irresistibly contagious as laughter
and good humour.      
~Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol'

'I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to
keep it all the year.  I will live in the Past,
the Present, and the Future.  The
Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.  
I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.'  
~Ebeneezer Scrooge

Have a wonderful December & 
Holiday Season.

Carrie, Stuart,
and Jack

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Family & Friends

*I normally post something about Thanksgiving every year, especially for readers outside of the U.S. or the U.K. who aren't familiar with this wonderful and very American holiday. This morning I read from someone who lives in Britain that America has 'nothing to celebrate today', because of events in the past few weeks. I would have to humbly yet ardently disagree. 

American citizens have much to celebrate as we always have. Things that are good and eternal and meaningful, no matter the world events. We celebrate the love of family, the giving spirit, a grateful heart, and all of the things that connect us through time and space--the eternal flame of love & the human spirit, which nothing can put out.

Our Father, Mother, Spirit we thank
you for food and remember the hungry.
We thank you for health and 
remember the sick.
We thank you for friends and 
remember the friendless.
We thank you for freedom and 
remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
that these gifts may be used for others.  Amen.

There is one day that is ours. 
There is one day when all we
Americans who are not self-made
go back to the old home to eat
saleratus biscuits and marvel how
much nearer to the porch the
old pump looks than it used to.
Thanksgiving Day is the one
day that is purely American. 
~O. Henry

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Here in Oxford I 'll put a small turkey in the oven in a few hours and the pumpkin pie is cooling on the sideboard. Turkey and pumpkin pie--the two staples of any Thanksgiving dinner, no matter where you are in the world. As we're in Britain, we'll also have to have the compulsory and ubiquitous brussel sprouts.

Pumpkin pie~just an
excuse to eat nutmeg.
~Garrison Keillor

Every fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving Day for all of my family and friends back home in the U.S.  At least for me, and perhaps for many Americans living scattered around the world, it's one of the hardest days to be so far from loved ones. Thanksgiving just doesn't translate well outside of the U.S., if at all.  So I miss it. Very much.

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart, 
To praise the Lord with feast and song 
In thankfulness of heart. 
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

It's not an easily exported holiday because Thanksgiving is uniquely American.  Early American settlers celebrated days of thanksgiving in the early years of the colonies, but it was more a harvest celebration than a holiday. Then in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the official federal holiday and a day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, 
the celebration of work and the simple life....
a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry 
of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime 
and harvest, the ripe product of the year — 
and the deep, deep connection of all 
these things with God.
 ~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)

The true origins of the first thanksgiving celebrations are debated by many historians, but one of the earliest celebrations of harvest and thanksgiving was in 1610, at Jamestown, North America's first permanent settlement.  Most Americans still equate Thanksgiving to the early settlement at Plymouth Plantation, in what's now Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the pilgrims' three day celebration after their first successful harvest.

Give thanks for unknown
blessings already on their way. 
~Native American Saying

There is a calmness
to a life
lived in gratitude.
~Ralph H. Blum

Even though it may not have even been served at the first thanksgiving celebrations, turkey is the dish most identified with the modern holiday. Turkey didn't start to dominate the Thanksgiving table until the mid-19th century and before that, the turkey shared the groaning table with other fowl and meat, like this menu from 1779.  Aside from the squash, pumpkin, and corn, it's like any British menu from the 18th century.
Haunch of Venison
Roast Chine of Pork
Roast Pigeon, Turkey, and Goose Pasties
Onions in Cream, Cauliflower, and Squash
Mincemeat, Pumpkin, and Apple Pie
Indian Pudding (a corn pudding and my favourite!) 
Plum Pudding (like the English Christmas Pudding)

Beside the turkey, a few of the things on this menu still grace the Thanksgiving table today, but we've added sweet potatoes or yams, cranberries, and mashed potatoes. The turkey is stuffed with a dressing of breadcrumbs, chestnuts, or cornbread, and turkey gravy made from the drippings is for smothering the mashed potatoes. It's not all that different from the British 'Christmas Lunch'.  

Thanksgiving dinners take
eighteen hours to prepare.
They are consumed in
twelve minutes. Half-times
take twelve minutes.
This is not coincidence.
~Erma Bombeck

I've cooked many, many Thanksgiving dinners and by now an array of pumpkin, apple, mince & pecan pies would be baked & cooled, (bread) rolls would be filling the house with good smells, and the refrigerator groaning with everything that had been prepared for the big day. On Thanksgiving morning I was always the first one up, the turkey stuffed and in the oven by 10am, and then I'd start in on the rest of the feast.

Our Oxford Thanksgiving is modified just a bit, but now stores like Waitrose have much of their Christmas holiday dishes available for Thanksgiving too, knowing how many Yanks live in the U.K. Some things I have to hunt down, like cranberries and pumpkin, but the 'American Food' section at Tesco has canned pumpkin (horrifyingly along with Pop-Tarts, Lucky Charms & Twinkies--what MUST people think of us!). The one thing I miss most is Crisco which, along with the old, old Betty Crocker recipe, makes the best pie crust in the world. But as I've learned to do so well since moving to England, I make do, adjust, make it work, or sometimes just let it go. A feast is still a feast on Thanksgiving Day.

To an American, Thanksgiving is family and friends gathering, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football--either in the backyard or on TV, far too much food, and has never been as commercialised as Christmas. There's been more and more of an effort every year to keep it that way, with stores closing on Thanksgiving Day and encouraging people to #gooutside on Black Friday, rather than shopping.

In the U.S. it's also the official start of the Christmas season. Christmas trees and lights start appearing at Thanksgiving and the holiday season of Christmas and New Year gets into full swing. But for a Christmas lover like I am, even though I miss being home for Thanksgiving, the one thing I do love is that without Thanksgiving, Christmas appears a little earlier in the U.K. My philosophy is that you can never have too much good cheer, too many Christmas carols, or too many lights on a tree.

Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more: 
Peace in the hearts of all men living, 
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving. 
~Joseph Auslander

Happy Thanksgiving, across the miles and a big wide ocean, to all my family, friends, loved ones and fellow countrymen.  As we smell our roasting turkey and make the well in our mashed potatoes for the gravy, we'll be missing all of you back home. If you're alone on Thanksgiving, I know how lonely it can be sometimes and I hope you can find a gladdened heart in the simplest of joys, and share a grateful heart with someone near to you. If you're a family gathered around the table, remember the common ground and the shared histories that bind a family together. Hold on tight to that.

Happy Thanksgiving from Oxford, from Stuart, Jack and I, to everyone around the world--we share a heart full of thanks and love.

For each new morning with its light, 
For rest and shelter of the night, 
For health and food, for love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Lewis Tree

But courage, child: we are all
 between the paws of the true Aslan.
~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

November 22nd, 1963. I remember that day so well, burned like an HD image into my mind. I was in 2nd grade when our school principal rushed into the room and told our beloved Miss Merton that JFK had been shot. Wide-eyed, we watched our young teacher lay her head on the desk and sob. And then we were sent home. 

I remember walking in the front door and seeing the television on during the day, which was shocking in itself, but there was Walter Cronkite, weaving his words with a quiet calm to a nation holding it's breath. What I didn't know was that, thousands of miles away from our little mid-west town, another great voice of the 20th century, another 'Jack', had also died that day--C.S. Lewis.

Clive Staples Lewis, known as Jack to his friends, began life in Belfast on November 29th, 1898, and he went home to what he called the "far off country" on the same day as Jack Kennedy, in 1963. There are endless biographies of Lewis, endless papers published, endless enquiry into what made Lewis the greatest Christian apologist of our age--but that's not where I met Jack, or go to meet him today. I met Jack in Narnia and I meet up with him nearly every day in Oxford.

I grew up hearing Lewis' name in our household and in many of my dad's sermons, but my own reading of Lewis wasn't until I was in my 30's. For some reason The Chronicles of Narnia passed me by as a child (probably because I was too busy re-reading the Little House series about 50 times), but somehow I inherited our family's dog-eared set of the Narnia books. I must have had some extra time on my hands, with three kids running circles around me I don't know where I found it, but I decided to read the entire seven volume set of Narnia, alongside Mere Christianity as a companion. I devoured them and they changed my life. Mere Christianity is now embedded in my brain, and Narnia is imprinted on my heart.

After I finished all eight books, I went on to the rest of Lewis' writings, including The Screwtape Letters, The Weight of Glory, Till We Have Faces, Surprised By Joy, and my second favourite of Lewis' work, The Great Divorce. The Last Battle is my most favourite book and one I return to over and over. When my dad passed away ten years ago, I had to get on a plane and fly across the country, limp with tears, overcome with grief--and my comfort was my old, battered copy of The Last Battle. It sat with me on my lap, open to the last page, not being read; just sitting with me like a comforting friend.
The term is over: the holidays
 have begun. The dream is ended:
 this is the morning.
~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

And then I moved to Oxford, where Aslan and Reepicheep and Puddleglum were born; where Lewis lived and worked and wrote. Lewis' world became my daily landscape, and again my life changed, my understanding of his writing deepened.

"My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.” -Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Addison's Walk, Magdalen College, Oxford
Most C.S. Lewis lovers make pilgrimages to the Eagle and Child pub, or Addison's Walk at Magdalen College, or Lewis' home in Headington, the Kilns--things I've done myself. But that's not where I meet him now.  I meet up with Jack everyday through a tree, a tree I've come to call my 'Lewis Tree'.

The Lewis Tree in it's full,
 summer splendour.
We have an ancient (at least several hundred years old), black walnut tree that hangs over our back garden. It's so gigantic that even though it stands in the garden four doors down, a good part of it covers our garden. It also has protected status which has thwarted the colleges from ever being able build on the property behind our houses while it's still alive and well; without it, the back of our house would be a maze of parking lots and student housing. So right from the start, eight years ago when we moved in to No. 14, I've thanked our tree on an almost daily basis for all it adds to our life.

The Lewis Tree is what I look
 out our kitchen window and see.

In the Autumn it fills our 
garden with a pure, golden light.

This is about one quarter of the tree and not
 even half of what hangs out over our garden.

In the winter months, when storms rage and the wind blows in from the North Sea, I love to go out and watch the tree. It doesn't bend in the wind, it dances. Each large limb moves on its own in a wide circle, moving in unison with the other branches, like so many arms of a ballerina troupe.

The Lewis Tree dances it's way through a storm.
During storms each limb moves in a wide circle,
taking up the wind and turning it into a dance.
Why is an old walnut tree a 'Lewis Tree'? When Lewis first came to Oxford he lived just around the corner from us at No. 1 Mansfield Road. He had the little garret room right at the top of the house, which looks out over all of the back gardens on Holywell Street, and looks out onto our walnut tree.

C.S. Lewis' window looks
right out over our garden.

The garrett room at
No. 1 Mansfield Road

Lewis was completely taken with Oxford from his very first visit, calling it impossibly beautiful. During his time on Mansfield Road he wrote to a friend and described the beautiful view out his window, detailing what he saw, marvelling at our tree. He too watched the old black walnut tree dance in the wind, and was captivated.

It is well that there are palaces of peace 
And discipline and dreaming and desire, 
Lest we forget our heritage and cease 
The Spirit’s work—
to hunger and aspire........
~From Oxford, CS Lewis

Knowing Jack Lewis looked out onto our tree and garden keeps him alive for me, keeps his words close to my heart. When I'm sitting in the garden with the chickens, having a cup of tea, I think of Jack; "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." I look up at his little window and picture him immersed in a book but giving me a little wave; "It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between." 

When I dig in the dirt, the tree swaying overhead, I think of my favourite character, Puddleglum, fashioned after Lewis' gardener at the Kilns; "I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."(The Silver Chair

When I turn to my roses and lavender for comfort when I'm homesick or missing my dad, I look up into the tree and Lewis is there reciting, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”..........except through Lewis' eyes I have a much better idea of what that landscape will look like.

Friendship is born at that moment
when one person says to another:
What! You too?
I thought I was the only one.
~C.S. 'Jack' Lewis

The homemaker has the ultimate career.
All other careers exist for one purpose only ~
and that is to support the ultimate career. 
~Jack Lewis

So thank you Jack and tomorrow I'll meet you at the tree and we'll talk........."Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."