Category: Uncategorized

Married in September (6)

So now we're married. (Actually, we've been married sixty-four years and one day. We celebrated our marriage at Grand Lake Lodge where we spent our honeymoon. Went yesterday and returned this afternoon. The aspen were astonishingly beautiful.)

This is the poem I gave to Les sixty-four years ago on our wedding day. Please do remember it was written by a seventeen-year-old.  

For Les on Our Wedding Day

I come to you, beloved,
with all I am and own
I bring the gift of love
to you alone

I come to you with faith
although we cannot see
the days ahead–nor all
that is to be

I come to you with hope
that love will surely bring
a truer note of closeness
a song to sing

I come to you with joy
and yet I leave behind
my girlhood and its dreams
the ties that bind

I come to you with love
and in your eyes
I catch a glimpse of love fulfilled
and paradise

I come to you, beloved,
with all I am and own
No one else can bring this gift–
I come alone

(Excerpted from This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage, (c) 2010 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

More tomorrow…


Resource for TweetChat re: Breast Cancer

Those of you who would be interested in a TweetChat about breast cancer, please see this Donna Peach post. Donna not only gives us a link, but explains just how to participate.

Have a great day, if you can. If you cannot, bear it as bravely as possible. I am so impressed at the fortitude and courage with which Donna bears her various side effects and setbacks.

Just a little poem from Fine Black Lines: 


I am grateful
my heritage includes

It is helpful
when Life's events
require one foot
in front of
the other

(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, copyright 1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)


In Memory of My Friend, Ray Houdeshell

Today I simply want to share a poem I scribbled out last week as we scurried home from Phoenix, arriving just hours before Ray’s funeral:

For Ray
They planned a wonderful retirement–
Ray and his beloved wife, Esther–
bought a motor home
studied the maps
forewarned family and friends

Then Life took a cruel turn—
felling Esther with a stroke
ten days after she closed
the door to her office
for good

But Ray stepped right up to the plate
taking her to rehab
by her side at aphasia group
helping her into the motor home
for a few trips before it got too difficult
cooking and cleaning and caring for Esther
with courage, consistency and compassion

Meanwhile cancer took up residence in Ray
with its wrong-headed diagnosis of “terminal in two years”
He battled bravely, rarely complaining,
worried only that Esther might outlive him
saying, matter-of-factly,
“That’s the way it is.”

And he sold the motor home

That was Ray—
pragmatic almost to a fault
exceedingly kind under that gruff exterior
good husband, good father, good friend
never wore his heart or his religion on his sleeve
and NO ONE pulled the wool over Ray Houdeshell’s eyes

Yes, that was Ray–
He stepped up to the plate
and then he knocked one
right out of the park

Wherever he is now—
Let us wish for wind at his back
Let us hope that the road is smooth and stretching far
Let us pray that the skies are forever sunny

After all his care and devotion
this big old Universe
owes him one

©2012 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad

Declutter Your Life When Ill – Relationships2

One of my breast cancer friends didn't open cards and letters because she knew she couldn't make the personal response that she had been taught to do. She died–with seven grocery bags of unopened mail sitting in her kitchen.

One of my other friends wondered why I had not responded to her note, asking, "Doesn't she know the etiquette?"

On a walk around the lake one afternoon the following poem popped into my head and I hurried, trying to remember it until I got home:

No Lifeguard on Duty

It is difficult
when one is drowning
to wave to the people
on shore

one wants to be
friendly, of course,

but perhaps it is
more important
to keep

As I recovered from the many surgeries and the radiation therapy and continued to struggle with the CFIDS, I wrote:

On Dealing with Limitation
My life has been circumscribed
by the aspects of

My priorities are
a series of nested circles
beginning with the center
that is me

Daily I choose
the farthest orbit
I can reach

Daily I carefully
spin out rings—
nutrition, rest, exercise
work, play, relationships

But what I really want is
to go zooming out
to the edges of my life
and dance on the periphery

(Both poems excerpted from Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, (c) 1993, 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

Declutter Your Life – Home

Who wants a calm, organized home?

Years ago I clipped a small quote from a man named Dr. Moore: There is a certain sanity about a balanced life. A spiritual quality about a well-planned home. A particular security in frugality. And nobility in manual labor–even for children. These are the ways of the good life.

Now I have to admit that during the years I was raising four children (first aged six, four, two, and newborn; then before I knew it, 16, 14, 12, and 10; soon they were…well, you get the idea), it was more difficult to keep our house tidy than it is now. And certainly my desk often looks as if I have opened a window and let a tornado tear through. And I’ve been known to have seventeen file folders scattered on my office floor.

But my well-being depends on orderliness. I find joy in the lemon scent of freshly polished furniture. Knowing where I can find the fingernail scissors or a sharpened pencil steadies my nerves. Clean space and beauty restore my soul.

It seems as if decluttering is a fad right now, but I have lived by these principles for a long time:


Limit your purchases
Picture where you will place an item before you buy it
Toss a garment for each new one you add


I go through every drawer, closet, shelf in our house yearly.
(When I get incapacitated, the tidiness should last five years.)

Everything goes into three stacks: Toss, Keep, and

I make much faster time if I’m not trying to
decide the Undecided right then. Several hours later I
have made so much progress that I am totally motivated
to Toss.

As I sort, I ask:

Have I used this melon-baller lately? Can I replace it?
Do I need more than one nice memento from any given person?
Will this original art make my kids rich if I keep storing it?
What are the chances I’ll ever wear a sleeveless dress again?
Do I REALLY need twenty-nine mugs in a household of two?

January is paper purge month. That’s done for this year. The office feels wonderful and looks pretty. In May I will go through the closets and drawers. The second weekend of November the kitchen gets kempt.

It really isn’t that hard when I have a plan.

So if you hate me already, I totally understand. I hate women who still have lots of hair.

Yes, yes, I know. The OCD, over-the-top, cleanliness-is-next-to-Godliness reorganizing makes my friends and family crazy sometimes.

But I’m serene.