After Van Gogh (pictures above) died last spring, I did not have a cat. I didn’t want one right away. But as spring began to come around the corner, I decided I wanted company in my home.

Three weeks ago I went to a cat shelter and looked at dozens of cats. Two black cats took my eye. Then I went off to Florida on a vacation. Last Saturday, after I had come home, I went back to the shelter to visit the black cats. The first one didn’t seem interested in me. Then I looked at Coco in her cage. At first, she seemed noncommittal, but I didn’t leave. It was then she came to the front of the cage and demanded attention–rubbing, petting. The director suggested I sit with her in a large empty dog cage. She continued to be loving and attentive.

My daughter, who was with me, declared that I may not have chosen her, but Coco had chosen me. We have now had a week together to get to know one another.

I have learned she will sleep in the bedroom with me, but decide that it is time to rise about 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. when I want to get a few more hours in bed. The past two nights, I’ve gotten up, she’s has left the bedroom, I shut the door and get back in bed.

Coco is a nibbler when it comes to eating, and messy when it comes to drinking. I’ve not seen her do it, but I believe she plays with the water. Now her dishes are on a place mat. Coco has definitely made me her person. I do as commanded.

The first cat I had as a small child had followed my mother home, at least that is the way she told the story, was a large black cat. It did everything I wished. I could dress him in doll clothes and feed him with a doll’s bottle. That trick saved his life when he had pneumonia after being trapped in a cold creek.

The first cat my husband and I had was nearly black, a charcoal tiger. He loved snow and following my husband by leaping from one footprint to the next. When we returned from living overseas, we were joined by Himself and Herself, two mostly black kittens, who were with us for fourteen years.

Black cats are part of my past and present.



I was away for some days. While I had good intentions of posting while away, I didn’t. We all know what road is paved with them.

I believe today’s poem was written after my husband and I visited the Washington Cathedral in our country’s capital city.



Stillness in shadow,
hints of purple glow;
Solid granite grey
holds, anchors spirit;
Lines flow parallel skyward,
tracks for hope;
Glossy soft light beams
from worn path in stone;
Solo sounds caress reds,
blues of sky tones,
Smooth melody accompanies
thoughts to questions;
Single notes embrace
sketchy creed, as
Fragile faith is nourished
in chapel solitude.

Richard E. Lake





My best dream and poem,
idea and friend;

My closest kindred spirit,
company and lover;

My deepest thought and hope,
fantasy and spice;

The fullness of my past,
meaning of my present,
purpose of my future;

Joy in my laughter,
music in my step,
color of my visions;

Flavor of my banquet,
vintage of my wine,
mystery of my love;

And, so very much more!

Richard E. Lake

DEVELOPING – continuing a series of poems

The lens of my soul catches the
brilliance of your
wide-eyed smile;

The film of my heart records an
inviting embrace, a
searching touch.

The lens of my soul watches the
iced-mink slenderness
of your happy walk.

The film of my heart captures the
mutual magic of
discovered fondness.

The lens of my souls senses the
warm cuddles of
your zest for living;

The film of my heart translates the
passion, the excitement
into shared dreams.
Richard E. Lake
14 September 1982



In the church calendar year, Pentecost follows the season of Christmas. It is the time of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. In the Gospel of Mark his ministry begins with his baptism by John the Baptist. As Jesus comes out of the water, a voice from heaven proclaims, “You are the Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

After his death on the day of Pentecost is when tongues of fire are seen as the Spirit enables his disciples to speak in tongues and to be understood by all around them. This is often thought of as the birthday of the church.



Acts 2:2

Smiling tongues of flames
danced, skittered, flitted freely
at head level,
choreographed by holy breezes,
laughing, gliding
from one to another,
releasing, unlocking, opening,
springing, freeing
the talents,
creativity of creation,
in blossomed praise
and full color adoration
of the Creator,
birthing the Body of Christ
into full vibrant
Richard E. Lake


“As the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.”

My Dad’s saying popped into my mind this morning as the thermometer dropped way past the freezing to below zero.

It is a saying that certainly never fails to come true. In my rather long memory, January and February always produce the coldest days, and often the most snow. Richard and I lived in Interlaken, New York, while he studied at Cornell University and I taught in the elementary school. In February 1958 (or 1959), it snowed every day. School was cancelled all but four days. Those days, the buses were unable to reach the majority of the children. I had just one-third of my first graders those days.

The wind also blew and packed the snow between the banks of the state highway leading from Interlaken across the hill to Lodi on Seneca. The town broke a plow trying to get through it. A machine to chew out the stubborn bank was called in to no avail. Finally, controlled blasts of dynamite were used to loosen the blockage so plows could get


through and open the roads beyond there.

We lost so much school that New York State authorized us to make it up by increasing our school day by an hour. The snow brought me a benefit as a teacher. The wind had piled the snow to the top of my classroom windows. The children were not distracted for at least a month by activities outside.

The poem for this week is one of my favorites:

I laughed out loud
And watched
The small green balloon skimming
Across State Street
Touching, gliding, bouncing
out of place and time on a
January noon.

I watched
and strained
to follow its uncaring path
while the light gave me permission
to proceed on my defined route.

Richard E. Lake


Richard E. Lake in Albany, NY


I have been very quiet on WordPress the past few weeks. I have spent this month getting organized in my office.

To begin I sorted all the paper that had accumulated in the last several months. I now have my stories and writing in folders so I can find a story and get it organized to go out to a publisher or agent.

Then I looked at the closet jammed full of stuff in no particular order. Everything came out and in putting it back, I discovered a notebook of my husband’s poems that I didn’t have cataloged. I located printed copies except they were printed in the mid 1980s on a 9-pin printer with a font that I don’t have with my new printer. Actually the words were fine, but they were often surrounded by strange coding that had to be deleted before I could transfer the poem to the file with the others.

I am a bit like a dog with a bone–when I start something, I can’t let it go until I finish.  Yesterday, I declared to be finished. There are still some bits of bone here and there to clean up, but that is not daunting.  Richard was a person who wrote lines of verse here and there, often leaving poems unfinished or in handwriting. Even in the nearly five years since his death, bits and pieces pop up when I open an old notebook.

Therefore, I have decided that for the next several weeks I will publish one of his poems. Here is the first one:


Friend, O Friend,
Get close to the snow,
the gift of winter,
While you can.

The snow dunes molded by wind
can be a friend, a refreshing
challenge to the finger, toe and eye.

Fly and plop in the drift,
wade and waddle through the
crusty, crunchy freezing crystals.

Savor the stimuli on the nose,
laugh at the determined
fluff above the mitten.

Wonder at the shadow and shape
of infinite grays, whites and
curves and arcs arranged for you
by the wind.

Stare at the forbidding flow of
powdered sunshine freely dancing
to the tune of January.

Let the snow be your playground,
your pool, your pillow,
Allow yourself to indulge
the joy of frolic,

While you can, my friend.

Richard E. Lake 18 January, 1979


This weekend I met the Secretary General of the Reformed Church in America, who told his story of being a refugee. His family left Nicaragua and came to the United States when he was eight during the 1980s violent Iran-Contra scandal.  He spoke of his fears, not being able to speak English, and being made fun of in school.

A few months ago, I listened to a story of the fear of a Rohingya Muslim mother with her baby being  driven out of Buddhist Myanmar. They walked for endless days through the mud and the jungle while being shot until they reached Thailand.

Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux, formerly wealthy, tells the author’s experience of being left with nothing but his car and his dog and of his struggle to find food each day. Sally’s is the Salvation Army. When he was given an old typewriter, he recorded his tale of friends he made and lost. On the street, the homeless help each other find food, beg for food, and must wash in whatever bathroom available.

Refugees have lost their country and homes they knew. Many of our homeless who can no longer return to the home they knew, so in effect are refugees in their own country. John lives somewhere in the United States. Yonatan lived somewhere in Syria. Neither has a safe place to lie down to sleep. They have no home.

Why is John homeless? Any one of many reasons may have left John alone on the street. Poverty, even when a person works, can leave them without enough money to rent even a room. Sometimes a person must leave a home under threat of being beaten or death, a result of domestic violence or their neighborhood. Shifting work opportunities can leave groups of people with no income so they lose their home or business.

Yonatan left Syria where he may have been a teacher, but his school and neighborhood have been leveled by bombs. He may have been known as against the uprising or because he took part in the uprising. He has no income and fears for his life. He might be a Christian in a Moslem country. He could not stay in his country. John and Yonatan have left what they knew as home either as children or adults.

In Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia there are similar stories.

The greatest danger for both the homeless and refugees is not being seen as individual men, women, and children with names but only seen as a dehumanizing lump called THEM.”

Perhaps the phrase that should come to mind is THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I.”



Seventy years ago the United Nations agreed upon and signed “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty

Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Article 4: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”


Life and Gravestones



Laurie Buchanan’s post this week (http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2018/11/27/in-between/ ) prompted me with some thoughts that often float through my mind.

 My daughter and I have visited many old cemeteries searching for markers of ancestors. The dates on the stones may be in the 1800s, 1700s, or 1600s.

It is somewhat daunting to remember that every single person in the cemetery had a life of joys and sorrows—joys and sorrows like the ones we have faced, or are still part of our lives.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own events, we forget all those people whose names are on those stones lived a life like us. They had children and grandchildren, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. They had people who brought them sadness and laughter. Some were comics, others too serious, some were optimistic, others pessimistic. Some traveled to many places in the world, and some lived their lives in one small town or village.

Whatever or wherever they went in life they knew the same sorrows and joys, tears and laughter that we have in our lives. Hopefully, when someone studies our gravestone a hundred years from now, that person will remember that we laughed and cried today.

The answer to Laurie’s question this week:  Life has gifted me with people and places and opportunities I would not have dreamed possible. I have had sadness, but it hasn’t overwhelmed the joys which God has given me in my family and the people He brought into my life.




This segment could also be called, “Cooking for One.” I entered a new way of cooking. I am now alone and must feed just myself. This has been challenging for me – one of the more difficult parts of life after being married nearly 59 years.

A friend who is in the same situation, cooks a dish and then eats it three or four times until it is gone. I can’t do that. The second time for a dish is all right, especially if it turned out to be good. I can even manage a subsequent lunch, but that is it.

Recently, I have tried reducing standard recipes to one or two servings. Some dishes lose their flavor. Cooking the full recipe and then freezing leftovers is an option. For some reason when it comes to thawing and heating most of these, I lose my interest.

To reduce recipes requires small quantities of ingredients, which are not easy to find. What do I do with a half can of leftover soup that sits in my refrigerator drying out. Soon it will begin to grow and I will have to throw it out, something I couldn’t do when it was first opened.

One way I cope is to buy and wrap pieces of meat or chicken separately before freezing them. I buy frozen fish fillets. I can thaw one piece quickly, sauté it in a few minutes while a potato boils has been baked. With a salad I have a reasonable dinner. Not very imaginative, but usually satisfying.

Other sources for meals include an abundance of frozen meals at the grocery store, hot meals available at my local farm store, and take out from local restaurants. There are now several companies who prepare and pack the ingredients needed for a requested meal. I have used Blue Apron. The food was good and not difficult to cook. Each meal had two servings, and provided more than I could eat, so there were leftovers.

Recently, I have planned a menu and shopped for the ingredients needed.  It is better than being hungry without an idea of what to fix. But then there are eggs in the refrigerator and easy mix pancake flour.

I would love to hear from single cooks who have found satisfying ways to cope meal time.