Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

On Winter’s Margin by Mary Oliver — April 13, 2022

On Winter’s Margin by Mary Oliver

Sitting here in the Pacific NW in mid-April, dark gray days with rain one day, snow the next. Sometimes wind and thunderstorms. Dumping of hail yesterday; it lingers still. I watch for nature’s population. Mary Oliver had a unique perspective on nature as can be seen in her poem, On Winter’s Margin.

I had another post underway for today, but our weather patterns in Oregon have been rather strange. Maybe they are mystifying where you live as well. One day last week we enjoyed a sunny day with a temperature of 75. Then our weather predictors began talking snow from the height of the mountains down to the valley floor where we live. My first paragraph above describes this week, so far. These conditions drew me to Oliver’s poem.

Now sit back and enjoy Mary Oliver’s poem. As always, Oliver fills her stanzas with an understanding of shadow and light both in nature and in human nature.



Featured Image Attribution:  Photo by Valentin Hintikka on Unsplash 



On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By snow’s down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;
And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink that wind; -

They are what saves the world: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.

~~ From Famous Poets & Poems


Sameness — December 16, 2020


Sameness is an awkward word, isn’t it? But in these pandemic days, it’s the best suited to circumstances in our home.

twins, identical twins, same, alike, twin girls

A few mornings ago I lay awake listening to the morning sounds. Inside there was nothing happening. The cats weren’t even hassling us for morning treats. Outside I could hear rain falling and occasional birdsong. Continue reading

A Quick Word — November 11, 2020

A Quick Word

Just a quick word about the things I “sort of promised” in a recent post on October 22, 2020. In that post, I mentioned potential writings in the works as well as some book reviews.

Quoting Robert Burns’s words in his poem, To a Mouse:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.

Clarifying Mr. Burns’s language to modern-day understanding, we come up with the most carefully prepared plans that may go wrong. Continue reading

Kindness :: A Word for Us All in 2020 — January 29, 2020

Kindness :: A Word for Us All in 2020

An infusion of kindness throughout our individual lives and relationships, our cities, towns, country, and the world is needed.

I came across these words from Albert Schweitzer recently. They offer wisdom and hope in considering how we can spread kindness.


Kindness, quote, quotation, Albert Schweitzer

Think for a moment about evaporating the angst, hatred, racism, and prejudice at work in today’s world.


Featured Image Attribution: The Extraordinary Businesswoman

Hey Mom! — September 9, 2019

Hey Mom!

Hey Mom!

I knew immediately who was calling—the dinner hour, traveling for work, alone, no one else to talk to. It had to be our older son, Craig. At 48, he still called home when he needed to talk or ask a question. Your kids may grow up but in some instances, they never grow away.
At the dinner table, I put the phone on speaker so Bob could hear. 
Hey Craig! What’s up?
He began by reminding me he was in Eastern Oregon on business and happened to be in Pendleton. A town with which we have a little travel history from our trip moving to Portland. We drove cross-country with two dogs and a cat. Our itinerary had planned stops in interesting places. At age 12, Craig had much he could learn by traveling 2200 miles from Tennessee to Oregon. One stop brought us to Pendleton, a rodeo town full of cowboys and interesting places and people.
Mom, can you remember the name of the hotel we stayed in?
I couldn’t and neither could Bob so Craig continued with his description of the place in question.
It’s the place we stayed and when we went down to the restaurant for dinner, we sat by the window. There was a sidewalk there, and I looked out the window and saw this guy walk into a lampost. Then he turned around and walking in the opposite direction, he stopped and peed on the post! Remember how hard we laughed?
No doubt we remembered the story Craig was sharing. We had to work hard to calm ourselves down to stop drawing the attention of other diners.
Amazing as it seemed, Craig remembered that night. His recollections were detailed and as funny as the time it happened.
As a family, we have many memories from that cross-country trip in 1983. And it was gratifying to have your son call to share one with you. Maybe it’s one of those forever memories I talked about in a post several days ago. A memory you’ll never forget and have ready to tell your kids or grandkids someday.


Hey Mom!, memories, forever memories, Dr. Suess


Feature Image Attribution:  Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

A Second Reading — August 26, 2019

A Second Reading

Last week as we watched TV, perhaps preseason football, an ad for a new movie popped up. The movie is an adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize (2014) winning novel, The GoldfinchAs I watched the trailer, for some reason I thought I had not read The Goldfinch. 

After the game finished, I quickly went to find a copy of The Goldfinch at one of our local libraries. I requested it and downloaded it to my Kindle. Noting that it was quite lengthy, I began reading it right away. It wasn’t until the next day as I read a particular scene that I realized I had read this book before.

This one particular scene, rich in detail and emotion, stood out. My recall sent me to my Goodreads account, and sure enough, The Goldfinch is listed among my read books. Usually, I check Goodreads and Amazon before going to buy or check out a book. But not this time.

At that moment, I decided I wanted to read The Goldfinch again. I am, and I am enjoying it more than I did the first time. Do you ever read a book a second time, or maybe a third? There is a lot to be gained from a second reading. Here are a few salient points on this topic:

  • Revisiting a book or article is a good way to remember it. Perhaps using a notecard system like the one Ryan Holiday describes or the one Cal Newton describes in this post. Or you may have a different and better system of your own.
  • You’ll read things the second time you missed the first time. Quotes you missed the first time. Another page you want to dog-ear. Here’s where the notetaking systems come in handy. After all, we don’t want to keep revisiting the same books.
  • Listen to the audiobook version, if available. Hearing the words, and perhaps hearing them more than once, will likely create the desire to take action.

If you read it and hear it, you’re much more likely to take action on it.
~~ Zig Ziglar

  • Have you ever attended a conference? Do you remember the high the conference experience gave you? The motivation and inspiration you received last a few days, and in the different environment of your home, the high is lost. This is where revisiting a book, article, audiotape of an interview or talk makes the impact of lasting benefit.

That’s all for today. I’ve got a full schedule waiting for me—I’ve still got 530 pages of The Goldfinch to read.


Featured image attribution: Image by Earl McGhee (no changes made to image)