Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Welcome, Welcome Fall




     At last. Summer smothered and smouldered us long past her welcome. As if to make up for making us suffer, Autumn treated us to The Most Beautiful weekend. Fall is that perfect season in Virginia when the fields bloom with both asters and clover. There's a bit of Queen Anne's lace still blooming along with dandelion fluff balls. Summer and autumn intermingle as one passes on to the other. 
     There seems to be a bumper crop of black walnuts and hazelnuts falling from the trees. I can hear the large nuts hitting Mrs. Cahoon's barn and house roofs from over here. Inside her house, the sound of the drumming nuts onto her metal roof startle us while we visit, even though we know to expect them. Those black walnuts are so big that I worry about twisting an ankle when walking certain paths. I'll need to bring a rake up there and get them out of the way. The farmers cut their hay and the shorn fields now lay wide open to the sky. I invite Henri to walk more often than usual and he is happy to oblige. We aren't forced to follow a mowed path now that the fields are cut and we can explore more. Maybe wandering is a better word than explore. We wander. The air is certainly cooler and it's tempting to lie down on the grass where the breeze doesn't reach and soak up the sun's warmth. 
     We fed William's animals this weekend. This can either be a treat or a chore depending on the weather. This weekend it was a treat. The ducks are the most comical lot and it's easy to imagine Beatrix Potter's inspiration for writing her amusing animal stories just by watching those ducks. The sheep will follow anywhere for grain and the cows were behaving nicely, although the newest bull is a little stand offish. He looks like Ferdinand the Bull. He's black and his bony haunches are high and he carries himself the the Ferdinand character is drawn. He didn't want to follow the other bull and cows along the path to their dinner or breakfast so I suggested to Steve that he take the riding crop and shoo him in. Surprisingly, Steve did just that, except that the bull kept evading him and it turned into a chase game. Steve was having none of that nonsense and quickly gave up. How I wished I had my phone or camera to capture Steve chasing the bull around the field.
    Somehow the days flow busily along with work and chores and play... in that order. There's still more canning to be done, rug hooking continues, and we have a project Steve is working on in the basement, semi-finishing a space where the grandchildren can play indoors. It's a dusty, messy job that created a lot of fine cement dust all over everything, even with plastic put up. Thankfully we're past that part now and it's almost time to paint. We gave ourselves a Christmas deadline when we expect everyone to be here. I think we're on schedule, however keeping this perspective is challenging in light of the book I'm currently reading,  "Living Life Backwards" by David Gibson. (Thanks to a friend for the recommendation.) 

"The seasons and natural cycles of the world are content to come and go, but we sweat and toil to make believe that it will not be so with us."   


     




Friday, September 15, 2017

My Father Never Talked About the War

     I was invited to speak about my father at the 6th Army Group Historical Seminar Commemorating WWII's forgotten D-Day and Operation Dragoon yesterday in DC. What a wonderful group of people, both army and civilian, who are keeping history alive. We learned so much during our day at the seminar. It was also an honor to meet two WWII veterans there, both in their 90's : )




Saturday, September 2, 2017

Summer Days Are Gone


     The calendar has turned to September and summer days are gone. The nights are cool, the A/C is turned off and we finally got some much needed rain. These are bittersweet days. I'm content to bid farewell to the heat and humidity that cause my body so much misery. I embrace the cooler days of autumn and I love the heightened activity it brings to our lives. However, I will miss the laid back feeling of summer, the lazy, barefoot days reading on the porch and the way life somehow just feels easier in the summer.
     My plans for today are bust. I was going to work out in the garden but, the rain continues. Henri-the-Schnoodle and I both have sleep issues lately so we came into the kitchen early this morning, made the coffee and sat by the window to work on my rug. This pattern is called New England Twist. It is destined for the floor in front of our kitchen sink. I put my Karen Kahle "Vermont" pattern on hold because I want to dye some wool in certain colors for it.
     I received a wonderful and generous gift of wool this week from two elderly ladies who can no longer work on their craft. They were prolific hookers and had amassed bins and bins of wool over the years. The method of distribution appears to be to offer it to the newer hookers first, those of us who are building a wool stash. After that, it's made available to other hookers in the group. It felt like Christmas morning when Nancy and I sat on Eleanor's living room floor and opened bin after bin of beautiful wool. There were several gradation sets (strips of wool dyed in six or seven grades of a particular color, from light to dark) of wool and one was pinned with a tag dated 9/23/1976. What a precious item! A lot of the wool is recycled from 100% wool garments gleaned from thrift stores. These are getting harder and harder to find as women don't wear beautiful wool skirts anymore or 100% wool in general. Eleanor knew I planned to dye my own wool, so she gave me the bin full of all white wool. Before it can be used, all the wool must be washed. We can't take any changes of introducing moths into our wool stash so even wool that has been properly stored and appears clean will need to be washed and dried before it can be brought into the house. I had it piled on the basement floor waiting for laundering. I'm excited to think of the projects ahead.

A hooker's dream

New England Twist in progress
    

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Connection With the Infinite




     Like millions of folks who stepped outside at the appointed hour last Monday to view the eclipse, I stepped outside with my special glasses and looked up. It was a marvel to see the moon pass in front of the sun. What I found more exciting, however, was the dimmed, eerie light of the landscape at that appointed moment in time. Maybe it was my imagination, but everything sounded hushed for about half an hour. The crickets were quieter, the cicadas toned it down, and the birds chirped only a little. When Tess, Ian, and I returned inside we looked down at the floor and saw little eclipse shadows filtering through the window. It was a pretty sight and we began to marvel all over again at this little unexpected surprise. Henri plopped down right in the midst of it because, well... he's just a little dog and he was oblivious to stellar occurrences like solar eclipses.
     The excitement and shared experience of the eclipse last week was something rare and wonderful. It was an event entirely out of the hands of man and I think we could all appreciate the beauty in that. Our pastor mentioned something Tim Keller said. He said, "There is a hunger for intimacy with the infinite."And this is true. There is another quote by Blaise Pascal,  a seventeenth century mathematician and theologian. “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” I love this. Something to think about...
     Steve, Tess and Sky played the Revelation Song at church last week and this week the congregation all sang it together. The lyrics are going around in my head. "With all creation I sing, praise to the King of Kings." Whenever I see something beautiful or marvelous in nature, I think of God. Everything from the whorls on a tiny sea shell to a celestial occurrence like an eclipse points to our Creator.

 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Welcome, Violet!


   
 We welcomed Audrey and Jared's first baby into the family yesterday. Her name is Violet and she is the sweetest little thing. She is our sixth grandchild, but each one born feels like our first. Like our own children, each grandchild is unique and a pure joy to meet and to know. Holding a newborn baby is akin to holding a miracle. We marvel at each tiny feature and our emotions soar with joy. We wonder at the perfection of God's creation and think far ahead into the future about what He might have in store for this child's life. In our humanness we cradle their frailty with a protectiveness that startles even ourselves. It is no small thing to say they are loved. So, "Welcome Violet! Oh what fun we shall have!"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'Tis the Season and Back to School


     'Tis the season of red and green! Our little garden is producing exactly the right amount for our enjoyment. We didn't plant a lot of variety this year because I decided to cut back on canning and preserving. So, we either eat or give away what we harvest. I even gave away a box of canning jars to daughter #2. It's a tiny bit sad to let go of that chapter in life when I did so much vegetable gardening and preserving but, it's for a good exchange of time toward other projects that I enjoy for now.
     Every summer I look forward to four particular dishes that use tomatoes and basil- Panzanella, Tomato Pie, Ratatouille, and any variety of Stuffed Tomatoes. Another item I must add to this list, but one that is not exactly a recipe, is a tomato sandwich. A low-gluten diet during tomato season is rather difficult. A tomato sandwich can only be enjoyed when it's made with a good quality white bread. There's just no way around that. I slather both slices of bread with mayonnaise, top with freshly sliced tomatoes, and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mmm mmm, good!
         

     Yes, we are back to school! Classes begin tomorrow and I have been back in the office since last week. The staff and teachers make our elementary school an enjoyable place to work and I don't mind having summer cut short at this point. We have a record number of four hundred and eleven students attending this year. I'm sure we'll be kept busy. The tag in the picture was tied to a little bag of Tootsie Rolls and left on my desk by the principal. : )

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Way We Were Is the Way We Are


I am swing. He is jazz.
I'm sweet white. He's dry red.
I am loud. He is quiet.
I am Felix. He is Oscar.
I am motion. He is rest.
I'm New England. He's Miami.
I run. He walks.
I like mild. He likes hot.
He imbibes. I rarely do.
I am an early bird. He is a night owl.
I am words. He is numbers.
I am antique. He is modern.
I say, "Turn it off." He says, "Leave it on." 
He can remember. I can not.
Thirty-six years.
Not always easy, yet always perfection.