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WANTED: A Harbor Pilot, Please

Kathy Joy

Have you ever wondered what’s happened to all the working lighthouses? How could they be defunct? What takes the place of helping a vessel to anchor or to its pier in safe harbor?

Harbor Pilots are, by sheer tenacity, a remarkable crew. The job requires round-the-clock availability, a complete understanding of the local waters, hazards and weather conditions, and the agility to climb a 30-foot rope ladder up the side of a large vessel.

Our harbor has them. Any port of call has them; these sailors are navigational experts regarding local waters.

When a ship comes into unknown waters, the harbor pilot maneuvers a small craft right up to the big rig, climbing up that ladder and getting behind the wheel to steer the vessel into safe mooring.

And so it is with the staff I work with.

There are a few who understand the aim in a specialized way. They can plot the course for shoreline and safe harbor in waters that most of us have never seen prior to this. While most of us are sequestered with our laptops and zoom sessions focused in on the target for the day, someone with years in the industry will come alongside and prove their maturity and faithfulness by soldiering our vision through our company’s performance of the necessary tasks.

Tasks, such as security, handling delays, sorting through the troubled complaints and defunct systems, and steering the crew into the final destination with wisdom and other hands-on assignments.

Mister B is the story of one such harbor pilot. From his daughter’s memoir, Mister B: Living With A 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist

These are our harbor pilots – these comrades who are sailing in to assist our somewhat lurching, unsteady building to navigate in unknown waters.

In rough waters, how does a ship or smaller boat find it’s way around sandy banks, jutting rocks, and unusual winds to safe harbor? Guided by the strength and knowledge of someone who has a firm grasp of the way around the banks that would beach us, that’s how.

We all experience waves of gratitude and relief as we are coming to the shoreline.

We are all in this together – but today, let’s take a moment to applaud our unsung heroes, our unseen administrators, first responders, our essential leaders.

A collective “thank you” from all our various ports of call; our kitchen table offices, our cell phones, laptops and heart connections everywhere are warranted. You are worthy deckhands, but it would mean there’s nowhere to land without the harbor pilot.

Can you list one or two harbor pilots in your most choppy, unpredictable waves of life?

Later — when we are all back together — tossed, tested and polished bits of beach glass will emerge gleaming in our midst.

What treasures we will discover.

A page from Breath of Joy: Ah, Autumn
https://www.amazon.com/Breath-Joy-Ah-Autumn-Kathy/dp/0999635379

Kathy Joy, writes the Breath of Joy coffee table series. Simply Summer, Ah, Autumn, Winter Whispers, and Singing Spring. These books make for exceptional “thank-you” gifts and acknowledgments of special someones in your life.

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a side of sweet potatoes, ah autumn, breath of joy, Nancy Ceyters

Sweet Potato Harvest of Laughter

Nancy Ceyters

As hard as it is to wave goodbye to summer, I find myself once again greeting fall with a hearty hello.

There’s something about that time between air conditioning and heat; the lower electric bill coupled with crisp nights brings on some good sleeping. The darker mornings and earlier sunsets force us to be the light as we get out of bed to savor the three month transition to winter.

For some, fall’s glory is celebrated in corn mazes and caterpillars, raking more and mowing less; for others, it’s the ginger beer and sweatshirts, football games and pumpkin spice lattes. Still others embrace the fall by stirring hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick, while riding atop a wagon of hay.

When I welcome fall, I reminisce the harvest, especially the autumn harvest of 2012.

For years, the entire back yard was converted to several large summer gardens and, come autumn, a few fall gardens as well. The entire process from turning over the land in the spring to yielding the harvest throughout the fall and into the winter brought hours of joy and pounds of produce to record in my garden ledger.

The first year I planted sweet potatoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I opted to start small until I knew they would be a success, so I planted just a few slips. From what I had read, I expected about six to eight sweet potatoes from each plant. Of course I had no idea what if anything was going on underground all spring and summer. Neither did I know when the potatoes were ready for digging.

Photo Credit: Jerenita Leavy

In October of 2012, my friend Kathy Joy was visiting for the weekend. We had a full schedule between a trip to our favorite Delaware beach, a guest pass for a Combat class at the gym, an event at the homestead where I volunteered as a docent, and a dinner and music night with my parents who were coming in from out of town. Knowing that Kathy’s late husband Roger was a farmer after retiring from the police force, and a farmer before they married, I felt that I needed Kathy by my side as I dug through the earth.

We had to fit this into our schedule somehow. Besides, how long could it take to dig up a few potatoes? We’d dig and then cook dinner.

If there were no sweet potatoes, Kathy would be there to console me. If there were six to eight per plant, we could celebrate together, eating sweet potatoes for supper and sending some home. I read that a pitch fork—rather than a shovel—is needed to avoid breaking or bruising the tubes. That was one garden tool lacking in my shed.

Breaking the earth gently with a shovel, I then dug nervously with gloved hands, not wanting to hurt what little produce might be underground. Every other scoop I turned to Kathy for the go-ahead to dig deeper. And then there was a tint of orange!

One potato, two potato, three potato, more! With each potato, came a squeal, and the count continued. Kathy! There are more over here. And over here! And over here! Even when we thought we were done, we found more, far from where the few slips were planted.

Seventy-one potato, seventy-two potato, seventy-three potato, more!

As the sun began to set and the cool of a fall breeze blew our hair, a train of sweet potatoes tracked the benches of a 22 foot square deck. From big-as-our-faces-enormous, to medium, to small-as-a-fist, we were overwhelmed with potatoes. A few were bruised by the excitement of the digging and the harvest, but not enough to have to toss them. Even after we finished digging, I wondered if there were more out there that we missed.

With several large buckets full of sweet potatoes, and a search for more containers, we had enough root vegetables to last a number of households the winter.  We laughed and counted, counted and laughed, well past the dinner hour. We’d have potatoes for a bedtime snack.

Spring and summer, hidden from view, potatoes were growing like crazy. From a little, came a lot. The element of surprise, the beauty of the root vegetables, and sharing the moment with a friend who celebrated with me made the harvest of 2012 the sweetest ever.

I didn’t grow sweet potatoes again after that, wanting this memory to be the one I cherished and celebrated when waving goodbye to summers and greeting falls with a hearty hello.

– Nance Ceyters

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Splashing In the Mysteries of Water

By, Kathy Joy, author

In this season of limited restaurant outings, my family and friends are happily opting into beach picnics on the peninsula.

The lake beckons and our sunset suppers are a highlight of summer 2020.

These water encounters are full of life and laughter; no matter how old or young we are, the urge to squeal with delight is irresistible.

A page from Simply Summer: Breath of Joy coffee table book

The other night I met up with my daughter, who has an unmistakable kinship with All Things Water. She snaps pictures of sunsets, scours the beach for bits of smoothed glass, and runs to the waves for all the splashes, all the water therapy she can absorb.

Her red hair in the glow of a Lake Erie sunset is a work of art, and can never really be captured in a photo.

After a beach picnic of turkey sandwiches and fresh fruit, we kicked off our flip flops and headed for the surf – which that night was full of kick and sass.
The waves were rolling in high and splashy.

The break-walls in the distance were pushing back towers of froth and spray.

I carry this memory like a tall glass of pure hydration: every sip replenishes and renews.
Water is a living, dynamic being – just like us.

A scientist-writer wrote a book, “Secret of Water – A Language of Life”. In the book, the late Masaru Emoto claims water has memory. He says water can be influenced by positive words and form beautiful crystals.

This one has allegedly responded to the words “love” and “gratitude”.
The researcher says water also responds to music in the form of these exquisite hexagonal shapes.

On the flip side, less vibrant, or “dead” water, does not form hexagonal shapes; rather, its image appears flat and unremarkable.

Some might call these ideas bogus, an extreme hoax; even pseudo-science.
No matter where faith and science might overlap, water is pretty amazing.
Water is pretty amazing.

We can all agree it’s important for life.

We, like the surface of the earth, are least 70 percent water.
An adult should drink at least 2.5 liters of water every day to sustain normal life functions. Another 1.5 liters is absorbed through the skin during bathing or showering.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle

It is also absorbed from standing in the rain!

Pretty much every living thing depends on the abundance of water.

Can water drops retain memory?

I don’t know.

Personally, I defer to the Creator for the mysteries of water.

To me it’s no secret water is life-giving, that it cleanses bodies, refreshes the earth and draws us to the shore for our own rejuvenation.

Test the waters, and see for yourself.

Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign up here for inspiring posts from this author! She is available for speaking engagements geared to your needs.

Learn about Kathy Joy’s inspirational gift books on this site.

A page from Simply Summer: Breath of Joy coffee table book
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SUM-SUMMER, SOME BEACHES

By Nancy Ceyters

COVID-19 may have washed the summer beach date off the calendar, but we have a backup plan: the beach webcam.

Not kidding.

Through the eyes of the webcam, we watch the sun sparkle on the tips of the waves, the tides ebb and flow, and the seagulls swoop too close to the lens.

We have witnessed weddings on our beach webcam, volleyball games, summer lifeguard Olympics, foot races, and fights; we are drawn in by the boats and planes carrying written messages, and the people dropping their ice cream on the boardwalk and spewing verbal messages we can only imagine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B077ZKWCV5/ref=dp_st_0997897686

Last night when in need for a beach fix, the beach-cam was down. Don’t they realize? We watch the cam all seasons, and we especially need it now.

Quickly my party came up with another backup plan: beach memories.

I recited, “Every summer during the growing up years, my family spent two or three weeks at Point O’ Woods beach in South Lyme, CT. A small private beach with no motels, stores, restaurants, or amusement parks, Point O’ Woods is a beach, not a city. We pulled the car in on a Saturday and did not get into that car again until the day we left. Days were spent on the beach, and evenings were spent taking walks, playing whiffle ball, and dealing cards. Even when the sun didn’t shine, we enjoyed the fog horns, the rocks around the sound, and the lively waves fighting back at the rain.”

I’m talking, a few winters we visited the old aunts at Haven of Rest Trailer park in Hobe Sound, FL. The sun on the beach seemed stronger there, and the waves rougher, but this quiet beach was home for a week.

Our only worry there was the Portuguese Man o War, as even the dead ones can sting, and one put an aunt in the hospital for several weeks.

As an adult, Rehoboth Beach, DE is my beach. Although it isn’t as built up as Ocean City, MD, it is lined with motels, shops, arcades, and eateries. We face the ocean with that “city” view behind us. The only time we leave the beach is to feed the parking meter or empty the bladder.

I love the beach, in and out of season.

A page from Breath of Joy: Simply Summer by Kathy Joy

Trudging through the snow on the beach in Asbury Park, NJ made it too tempting not to take off the boots and test the water. Visiting Rehoboth in the fall surprised us with kites flying and a superpod of dolphins in synchronized swimming.

The salt air, the therapeutic lull of the waves, and the refreshing water, along with the sun and kick-up-the-feet and lose-the-cares beach spirit does not mean every experience is joyful, but all are memorable.

My memories are stealing the conversation, but I don’t care much now.

I’ll never forget seeing Grandma sobbing in the dining room chair of the cottage the day her dog Ladybug was killed on the trip to visit us at the beach. I can still feel that sinking in my stomach that kept me from a second bite of a muffin the day we sat at the picnic table and the police officer came around the back of the cottage to tell us our childhood friend Freddy had died. Nor will I forget the fear, as a child, seeing someone steal a carton of cigarettes and worrying that he knew I saw him do it.

But with those memories come the 20 lb. bluefish my brother caught, the many friends who came to visit, the five-cent Good Humor ice creams, swimming out to the raft for the first time, and many hours of pure delight.

The beach has played a significant role in my life and in the friendship with a dear friend of 42 years. We have shared trips to Rehoboth, and we have had fun with the webcam—one at home viewing, the other waving to the camera. In the 1980’s we saw the movie Beaches and claimed it as ours. Over the past four decades, our life stories and our friendship—in their own way–have paralleled that of CC and Hillary. As we kept in touch through letters, email, and now text, we closed our message with “Beaches.” At times the entire message was “Beaches.”

This summer’s beach plans are shot, and from time to time the webcam is down, but if I have learned anything from the beach and my longtime beach friend Kathy, it is that we can make the best of it and still find something to celebrate. Kathy celebrates all four seasons, beach or no beach, and between her wit and her wordsmith talents, she brings that celebration into the life of all who meet her. 

I can’t visit my memories of the beach without celebrating my friend, “Beaches.”

Nancy Ceyters

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The Ordinary Normal Is Still Here

Everyone’s talking about the “New Normal”.

It’s important, though, to remember the former elements of “normal” are still with us, if we will only take a minute to notice.

Take fireflies for instance. What a wonder a single firefly still is to me!

Click to watch
Click to watch

There’s a quote that’s traveled with me for a long time. It’ on my fridge:


Normal Day,
Do not let me pass you by in search of some Rare and Perfect Tomorrow.

Mary Jean Iron

This power-packed memento has been a mainstay through all of life’s seasons. With every move, every new fridge, this little saying has traveled with me as a reminder of the splendor in little moments.

The little ordinary moments are ever-present while we sigh and long for:
Brighter tomorrows, better sleep, happier children, perfectly manicured lawns, stronger connections, brighter lighting, exotic destinations, more flawless skin, shinier memories…

Here’s the thing. When we are off chasing after a happier reality, the one we’re IN is quietly passing us by.

A page from Breath of Joy: Simply Summer

I’m not asking you to embrace The Summer of Covid, but I am suggesting you uncover the good stuff inside this interval.

Your “normal” will look different than mine.

Here’s mine.
The texture of my kiddo’s voice on the phone; it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about – the sound of her voice is life-affirming.

The smell of towels that have been line-dried in fresh air and sunshine.

Summer kids riding by my window on their bikes and skateboards.

Dandelions gone to seed.

  • Waking to sunlight,
  • That first sip of coffee,
  • curbside pickup,
    • the hypnotic hum of a lawnmower,
    • Old Glory rippling in the breeze.
    • a real letter in the mail,
      • silence,
      • my music jam,
      • fireflies in the whisper of dusk.

Not everything is a joy-bringer; some things are a slog through scary passages.
But still – not everything is skewed into some narrow margin of “the New Normal”.
We can still count on the ordinary, normal things.
And those will sustain us.

Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books

Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign up here for inspiring posts from this author!

Learn about Kathy Joy’s inspirational gift books on this site.


Subscribe here.