Happy Birthday, Michael!

Thirty years ago today this smiling baby boy was born! I was looking through his baby book yesterday and was flooded with memories of that day.

The book records that he arrived at 5:24 pm on Thursday, September 25, 1980. He weighted 8 lbs 15 ounces and he was 21 inches long. He had black hair and deep blue eyes.

We brought him home three days after he was born and Grandma Brauer (my mom) was there. "We came home around noon and it was a beautiful day. Michael just slept all the time. Everyone thought he was just darling and Laurinda gave him a big kiss!"

Michael is a joy and a delight to have for a son. 

He has always had a goofy sense of humor and delights in making people laugh, he is tender-hearted and generous, he is gifted as a carpenter, he is an outstanding cook. 

He loves baseball (New York Yankees) and hockey (Vancouver Canucks). He is an avid reader (Wilbur Smith and Clive Cussler).

What a handsome young man he has turned out to be!

Happy Birthday, Son.
I'm proud of you today and every day.

Missing Manderley

Perhaps you remember my Manderley dreams from earlier this year.

We first went to Manderley in the spring.  It was mid-March when I stood on the snow-covered land and breathed in the peace of the place that fed a hunger within me that I didn't know I had.

Six weeks later we were there and discovered that spring had come to the farm. I shared othe story in four posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

I even shared some video of the land with you.

It's been five months since that last trip to Manderley; since we came to the decision not to purchase the land, but I have not been able to put Manderley out of my mind.

I saved the link to the real estate listing in my favorites, I even memorized the MLS listing number, and every once in a while when I feel the need for a break I call it up. I remember the peace; I remember who I was when I was there.

Sometimes, unexpectedly, Gerry or I will say "imagine if we were at Manderley right now" or "remember what we were going to do at Manderley". We haven't forgotten our Manderley dream.

A few days ago I felt the need for a bit of Manderley and I clicked on the link I had saved. Like so many times in the past I expected to see the picture of the farm yard come up in my browser; instead I found myself looking at the real estate page but the listing for Manderley had been removed. My heart must have stopped for a moment as I considered what this meant.

Had someone else purchased it? Had the owner taken it off of the market? I did some Google searches; perhaps it had been relisted with another real estate company. All of my searching turned up nothing; I found myself feeling empty.

I'm not sure what to make of this longing, even grief, that I have felt since then. Manderley was, and is, more than just a piece of land to me.  It represents hope, my future, my past, a simpler way of life, and it conjured up the woman I might have been, might still become one day.

I liked the "me" I was when I was there. I hope I find that woman again.

Embracing Autumn

This morning when we came out of church there was a light mist falling; later we had to run from the green grocer to our car as the rain was coming down in buckets. When we got home with our harvest bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and after we enjoyed a bite of lunch, we agreed that it felt like the kind of day that was made for settling down on the sofa with a good book, so that's what we did.

I lit the new pumpkin pie scented candle I bought yesterday, brought down a couple of quilts, and we curled up with our books. That's my idea of a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I am determined not to let the demise of summer discourage me this year; I am working on embracing the change of seasons and welcoming autumn into my life. This afternoon reminded me of one of the pleasures of the cooler weather and how cozy it can feel to be indoors on a blustery rainy afternoon.

The cooler weather, and the return to indoor living, will allow more time for going through closets and cupboards and getting rid of unneeded and unwanted items that serve to complicate my life. The older I get, the more I am drawn to that what is simple.

A few forgotten knitting projects have caught my attention lately and I'm looking forward to getting back at them. I remember the serenity that the rhythm of knitting brought me last year; I could use some more of that.

I want to cook more as well. Big pots of stews and soups that simmer on the stove all afternoon and are eaten with biscuits still warm from the oven and smothered with melting butter.

I want to bake some apple pies using Mom's recipe; this will be the year I return to making homemade pastry.

I was at the mall yesterday and saw some beautiful fall sweaters. Oh to feel cool enough to want to wear a sweater! Maybe this will be the year for that too!

I have learned to rejoice at many of the changes that have come in what I consider the autumn of my own life. In fact, I am looking forward with great anticipation to many more changes in the next few years.

It's time for me to begin to appreciate and welcome the season's change as well. After all, if there was no autumn, there would be no winter, which would mean there would be no spring. And I would most definitely miss the return to spring.

Morning Lesson

It was almost six-thirty this morning when I climbed out of my car, tossed my keys in my purse as I flung it over my shoulder, picked up my tote out of the back seat, and reached in to grab my coffee cup before closing the car door. It was still dark and the morning air was cool, but the light sweater I wore was more than enough to keep me warm.

The short walk from my car to the office building where I spend so much of my day is a pleasant one. The campus where the office is located is surrounded by trees and green space; there is a large pond next to the office where geese make their home and the building itself is covered with ivy. I appreciate the serenity of the quiet walk every morning yet I still find myself walking quickly, my mind already on the day ahead of me.

This morning as I drew near to the office door and got ready to loop the handles of my tote bag over my arm so I could transfer my coffee to that hand allowing me to reach for the security badge attached to a lanyard around my neck, I heard a voice from behind me.

“I’ll get that door for you; you’ve got your hands full.”

I turned and saw a young man walking about twenty feet behind me; another early-riser who starts work before many others have even gotten out of bed. My first instinct was to brush off his offer of assistance.

“It’s okay, I’ve got it.” I had to choke back the words before they escaped from my mouth when I realized how rude it would have been for me to ignore is gesture.

I have done this throughout much of my life - refused assistance and insisted on my own self-reliance. It struck me for the first time this morning, how the independent demeanor I portray might be perceived as impolite and how many times I miss interacting with someone, however briefly, when I insist on relying on my on ability.

This morning I did something different.

“Thank you!” I smiled at the young man and then stepped aside and allowed him to use his security badge to unlock the door and pull it open for me.

I walked through the door, wished him a good day, and we both went our separate ways. To an onlooker it would have seemed like nothing, but in that moment I made a conscious decision to do something different, I deviated from the well-worn path I was used to taking, and allowed myself to act upon a prompting from within.

I believe that it is often in the small, seemingly insignificant, moments like this when God speaks to us, when we can feel the hand of God resting upon us, when we can learn the lessons He would have us learn.

It was a good way to start this day.


Central to the Amish culture is something called Gellassenheit, a German word roughly translated to mean submission to the will of God. It is based on the words of Jesus "not my will but thine be done."

The dimensions of Gelessenheit permeate every aspect of the Amish life:

Personality: reserved, modest, calm, quiet
Values: submission, obedience, humility, simplicity
Symbols: dress, horse, carriage, lantern
Structure: small, informal, local, decentralized
Ritual: baptism, footwashing, confession, ordination

I am not Amish but the concept of Gellassenheit appeals to me on some level. Sometimes I think we (me) care too much about appearance, posessions, and status. What does it really take in order for us to be happy?

Shelter over our heads, food in our belly, health, family and friends.

Does it really matter if we have the fanciest house, the fastest cars, food that has come from the other side of the earth? Of course it doesn't.

I have been thinking about simplicity lately and the word Gellassenheit came to mind, out of the blue, one afternoon when I was struggling with a stressful situation.

I am now using it as a mantra of sorts, a kind of prayer, a whispered reminder to slow down, appreciate simple things, and to be thankful for the many blessings I have in my life.


Covington Reporter Columnist: Linda Hoye

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my first visit to the local library and in her comment, Karen suggested that I submit it to the local paper. I took that post, tidied it up a bit, contacted the local paper, and the rest is history.

Here is a link to my first column in the Covington Reporter! I am going to be a monthly contributor!

Thank you for the encouragement and suggestion, Karen! And thanks to everyone else who leaves such kind comments on every post. I appreciate each and every one of you!


I had the best of intentions: clean up my bookshelves, find a few to donate, make room for others I have scattered about the house, and make it look more aesthetically pleasing like the bookshelves I see in magazines. It was a simple goal, one easily achieved on a Labor Day afternoon.

To me books are like old friends, and sorting through the shelves was like taking a walk down memory lane or going to a family reunion. Some titles made me smile as I remembered a time in my life when I came to own a book. Others reminded me of more challenging times, like my copy of The Joy of Stress which is tattered and well worn and which I set aside to reread.

I sorted and made piles and gradually my bookshelves began to look like something I could work with. I imagined little knick-knacks, photographs, special souvenirs I could put here and there on the slelves. With my bookshelf looking less cluttered I was certain I would feel less stressed each time I walked past; the tidy shelves would be a source of peace.

Later in the afternoon when Gerry came in from outside where he had been working, I called him to come upstairs and see the shelves. I wasn't finished yet, but I was certain he would be impressed with my progress thus far.

"I kind of liked it with all the books piled together on top of one another," he said upon observing the shelves and hearing of my plans.

And with that I began to doubt my plan. If Gerry liked it filled with books and he wasn't even a tenth the bibliophile that I was, could I really be happy with designer bookshelves? Would I miss the old friends I decided to dispose of? Were bookshelves really meant to hold ornaments instead of books? And what about my fantasy of having my picture taken in front of my bookshelves for the author photo on my first book?

I decided to sleep on it.

Today, my bookshelves are full once again. I changed the orientation of some books to add some visual appeal, but the shelves are definitely full. In removing some books, I made room for others that I had stored in my nightstand and in my office so my effort wasn't in vain.

Now I have four full recyclable grocery bags filled with books that I removed from the shelves. My intent is to donate them but, just for now, I tucked the bags in the attic. I'll wait a few days, probably go through them again, and then make the final determination of what goes and what stays.

Like my dad, and Robert Burns, used to say: "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay".

Getting Personal

Excuse me if this seems too personal, but do you have a history of heart disease or cancer? What about diabetes or depression? Your doctor is interested in things like that because the answers may determine how he treats you. You are probably interested as well; if you have a close relative who had heart disease you may take extra precaution to make sure you are living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

As an adoptee, I have struggled with questions about my family medical history all of  my adult life; there are no easy answers. I've written about that on my Arms of Adoption blog where I am celebrating the publication of a new report published by the Adoption Institute about adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.