Glad you stopped by! I’m Lorel Lewis – I had a career as a teacher but my life long occupation has always been “dreamer.” I’m a little goofy. I often write “trophy grandma” or “domestic goddess” on forms that ask for my occupation. I also identify my race as “human,” and when asked for sex, I just gush “YES!” No one’s ever said a word. So much blows by us when we’re being productive, don’t you think? I like to take my time. I like to notice things.
I don’t identify as a “writer” but I spend so many blissful predawn hours writing essays, poems, love letters, encouraging notes, grocery lists, and journal entries that it seemed like it’s time to share some of it with you – thus this Blog! I always write at our old round kitchen table, early in the morning when the light’s just coming on and the coffee is hot and fresh. The table stands close by a large picture window that frames a splendid view of a very wise old tree, the rising sun, a busy bird feeder, perennial flower beds, and a rolling swath of Kansas farmland that ends about ¼ mile to the east at an old tree line.
Husband Steve built the table of solid maple 50 years ago. It’s been the center of our home forever. The babies I bathed in a plastic tub on that table now have grown children of their own. The grandparents who dined there have all passed away. It’s seen an awful lot of birthday cakes, tea parties, and coloring books – not to mention thousands of family meals, mostly all made from scratch and made with lots of butter. That table has circles, scars and blotches from too-hot pots and kettles and spilled Easter egg dye that nothing can wipe away. It’s also seen spilled milk, heard spilled stories, and felt spilled tears. It bears the years well. It’s a great place to rest and talk and dream. I hope you’ll join me there sometime.
As for me, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the youngest of 3 children born to Greatest Generation parents who were living the postwar American Dream: a home, a family car, and a color TV! I loved to play with dolls and neighbors but my fondest memories are of many afternoons spent a block from home in the “wilderness” of the local playground. The playground was small – just some swings and a slide – and it lay hard by the Burlington Northern railroad track heading west out of Chicago. A small drainage ditch, lush with grass and tall weeds and a sprinkling of interesting trash, stood between the tracks and the playground. It was a thrilling space.
Here I made up exciting stories of jungle explorers or pioneers or lost orphaned children who had to rely upon themselves to survive the delicious dramas life had forced upon them. I spent many happy hours building huts of sticks and weeds, gathering berries and pods for supper, and carrying creek (ditch) water back to imaginary campfires in old, found tin cans.
These camps – these homes – were always the center of my stories. They were made out of nothing but imagination and hope. Would these dear people make it? Would life defeat them? No! Everyone always survived the perilous peril! This was because I had read all the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and had learned to love the happy ending. I knew that pluck and hard work and love would always prevail.
But I knew it wouldn’t be easy. At age 10 I had to wrestle with the existential question of Peter Pan – would it be better to stay in Neverland, or better to grow up? I made a secret vow. I WOULD grow old but never grow up, and I would somehow bring Neverland WITH me. This became the unspoken mission of my life. From what I saw around me, I knew it would take a lot of improvising, but I believed it could be done. At the center of this vow was the firm belief in home and the happy ending. But it would take resolve. It would take attention. It would take belief.
Looking back, I think I’ve come pretty close to fulfilling that vow. I married my high school sweetheart, Steve Lewis, on his 21st birthday. I baked the wedding cake in different sized frying pans and decorated it with birthday candles and a small figurine of Winnie the Pooh. We wrote our own vows, had no money, and couldn’t wait to get started living our life together with our cool wedding gifts: a hookah, a Peter Max ashtray, and an electric frying pan. But we always knew our greatest gift was each other. We immediately moved to the country and began to learn how to garden, care for chickens, heat our old farmhouse with wood, and fish drowned rabbits out of the hand dug well. Steve built furniture and Lorel got busy making bread and pies and window curtains out of tie-dyed dorm sheets. As the years flew by we moved into 2 more old farmhouses, grew more gardens, and raised goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, geese, and babies. When the babies became children we moved into another old farmhouse just outside Lone Star, Kansas.
That was 37 years ago. A lot of life and love has rolled by. Steve passed away last spring. And Lorel lives there still.
I hope you’ll come visit sometime. I can’t give you any tips about getting rid of your liver spots and I know nothing about retirement accounts, lifestyle tips, or how to make better rice Krispie treats. But I do know this: we are here for a limited time only. I’d like to make you laugh, encourage you, enrich you, enjoy you. I guess I want to make a home for you, too, and let you know how brave you are. I won’t be serving ditch water but I hope you will be refreshed. Here at my kitchen table, life and love are always trending. Stories are being told and there’s room for you to sit and listen. I once asked myself, “What’s in this blog for me??” And my heart immediately said, “You!”
And that made me smile.