Sunday, August 31, 2014

Color Change, For the Birds, Henni

1. That point in time when summer fades and sea shells and sea glass coexist with pumpkins and mums.
1a. The change will be slower around our place. We still have some peaches to deal with, steaks to grill and Bocci Ball to be played.
2. In a town called Brosville, just this side of the Virginia/North Carolina border, there is a yard sign for "Birdhouses". I watch for it every time we drive by because they have the prettiest birdhouses on display. One day I'll stop...
3. Jack lies on the floor with Henri, chattering curiously over Henri's various doggie features. Nose, ears, tail, fur; it's all a delight to Jack. Henri rolls over onto his back for more pats.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A New Old Toy, Hard Working, A Different View

1. We had an indestructible slide stored in the weeds for years. It cleaned it up like new and we drove it to the grand kids' new house for their swing set. What other response should I have expected from a two-year-old other than, "Again! "Again!".
2. The guys worked hard to replace some windows and siding today. The humidity was at 95% and the temperature was 90°. You can imagine...and they never complained! I admire that.
3. The Halloween display at Lowe's with its orange lights, fire-filled pumpkin, and mechanical black cat fascinated the kids while their mother ran a quick errand. I'm re-honing my skills in The Art of Distraction. Singing a silly song, offering a cookie, or saying, "Oh look!" all serve the purpose. I have to remember that life slows way down for little ones. It's all about seeing things at their level. In doing so, I'm privileged to see things in a new perspective myself.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Starting the Day, Never Routine, Pre-Dawn

1. An elderly woman takes the newspaper from the box at the end of a farm driveway. Her gray hair is neatly bunned and covered in a prayer cap. Her cotton housecoat flutters in the breeze.
2. Asiago cheese rubbed with olive oil and rosemary, crackers, and sweet grapes are my favorite lunch.
3. The coyotes have been running just before dawn each day. They must run very fast because one minute I hear them in one field and the next, they sound very far away. After the coyotes fade away, a screech owl calls. The darkness makes it all sound much more mysterious.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

He's Really Very Nice, Roadside, Peaches and More Peaches

1. According to my little kindergarten friend, our gym teacher's name is Mr. Bullier. Her mom corrected her and told her it's Mr. Bowyer, but little friend knows what she heard and still insists it's Bullier.
2. My prize from our walk tonight was a bunch of bright orange Bittersweet. It's really too early in the season for the hulls to be opening on the berries, but this vine had been cut by a mower, hence its premature ripening and a prize for me!.
3. Neighbor W. was making a peach (and plants) run to Saunders Brothers and asked if we wanted any peaches. I felt daring and told him to bring us a half bushel. Surely they won't go to waste when there are possibilities like peach jam and freezer space...and sharing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

From the Deep, Cake Bosses, Not 100% Yet

1. I had to stop the car to be sure of what I was seeing. It was a huge turtle and it looked as ancient as the earth itself. It carried the pond on its back with a shell as dark as deep water all coated with mud and algae.
2. She needed her cake to have a river of chocolate flowing over the top and down one side. (Think Willy Wonka.) On our second batch of chocolate glaze we got it to come out right. It was glossy and flowy just like a chocolate waterfall. We were pleased that the drips were drying to that effect without our even trying.
3. I'm thankful I could come straight home for a nap today.
If you have ever thought, as I have, "This is not the story I planned.", then I invite you to read the beautiful words of Kara Tippetts over here at Mundane Faithfulness.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Meandering, Perception, The Quiet Night

Black Walnut in Hull
 1. I ventured for a little walk this evening and picked up three things:
-A lone red leaf. I looked up to see where it might have blown down from. I sense autumn is just around the bend
-Queen Anne's Lace runs rampant in the field
-A newly fallen Black Walnut. It's the biggest one I've ever seen.
2. I looked beyond the vineyard to the Peaks of Otter in the distance. The mountains are still covered in the dense green forest of summer. In my mind's eye I see the trail and I imagine her walking, walking, walking...and I will never view these mountains the same way again.
2a. I heard on the news last week that the government has banned drones from the Appalachian Trail. I have to think about that, that such a thing is even necessary.
3. The humidity went away and the air is friendly tonight. There's not even the slightest breeze and it looks like the trees and leaves are holding their breath, waiting for something. I'm on the porch, watching and waiting, too. I feel like a sentry; a sentry for nightfall.
3a. And I wonder how a field full of chirping crickets is a quiet sound, but it is.

Friday, August 22, 2014

First Cold of the Season

1. On the nightstand next to me: A big box of Puffs tissues, a bottle of water, Ibuprofen, and my phone.
2. A flannel blanket on the recliner and another one to cover up with.
3. Husband is out of town and daughter has plans, so I can be miserable alone and no one needs me for anything.
4. Henri comes to cuddle every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Latest Addiction, Highlight of the Day, Lush Lawns

1. I'm caught up in watching Grand Hotel on Netflix. It's a highly dramatic, suspenseful Spanish series in a Downton Abby style but with more murdering, backstabbing, and eavesdropping. It's so far off the deep end that I have to keep watching.
1a. I've started saying Spanish phrases in my head without even thinking about it. "Buenos noches, Alicia.", "Es muy importante." 
2. I'm happier about packing lunches when I keep lots of choices on hand, especially goodie surprises.
3.When have we seen such a green August?! The garden wants to be weary; it is the end of summer after all, but the rain won't allow it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Peace, Anything Interesting?, Just Go With It, Name That Sound

1. The porch has become my morning haven. It's still night time when I wake up. so it's just the dark, the crickets, and me.
2. He pulls down the attic ladder and climbs up into oblivion. I know there's nothing up there but rafters and insulation, but there's something about attic ladders that promise an adventure. I climb up too, but only so far as my head appears above the opening so I can have a curious look around.
3. If anything is to be done outdoors today, it will have to be in the pouring rain. Henri can't be put off any longer, so we go for a stroll in the rain. I honestly like it.
4. Last night, before the rain, the three of us sat on the porch having a quiet chat. Far away, a motor could be heard and Steve leaned out to listen hard, thinking he was hearing the kiln at the cement plant several miles away. Tess claimed it was a lawn mower over the next hill. We all bent our heads trying to identify the sound when suddenly we heard a loud, far away clank. "Ah-ha!" We sat up straight and smiled knowingly. "It is lawnmower and it's just hit a rock."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Call From a Friend, Prettiest Color, Good As Ever

1. To hear Mari's voice on the other end of the line when I pick up is pure joy. She has so much to tell me and rushes forth with all the news of her day. Her three year old perspective of things is interesting. For example, her toddler movement class wasn't so much about the tutu as it was about the sticker with her name on it.
2. A basket of purple okra was the prettiest item at the farmers market.
2a. At dinner, I learned that Tess and her friend Ian were also at the farmers market. Ian bought the purple okra and fried it for his family. Our pastor was the "farmer" selling it. : )
3. Tomato pie for dinner! Still not tired of it yet!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Garden Overfloweth, Winter's Just Around the Corner, Remembering

1. A basket of Lemon Cucumbers on the office counter at school made a great conversation piece. The preschool teacher asked her class to guess what it was before they peeled and sliced it to eat.
*On an interesting note, Daughter #4 appears to be allergic to these. We knew she was allergic to raw pumpkin (cooked is no problem), and I thought there must be a link. Sure enough, I found that cucumbers are in the same family of  Cucurbitaceae. More information on these food allergies HERE.
2. Misty August mornings portend a snowy winter. For now, they give us an eerie atmosphere in which to start our day.
3. While writing permission slips for some girlfriends to ride the bus home together, I was reminded of those days in my own elementary school years and the excitement of riding the bus home with school friends. It meant playing some place different and exciting. We played imaginative, outdoor things like ice skating, hikes in the woods or games of tag. Indoors meant creative play like drawing, board games, or building puppets or dioramas for school. We had no electronics and what an fun time we had because of it. Oh, did I ever nod off with daydreaming! It's a wonder I got any work done at my desk today.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Woods, Bus Rider/ Car Rider, Love That Smell!

1. In the thick, dark woods a tree has fallen and its roots are turned up on their side. I think if I was still a child, it would make a most excellent fort.
1a. I also stopped to stare up at the huge and ancient oak tree. I wondered who else had passed under its branches in decades gone by. Exactly what has this oak tree seen?
2. One of the teachers called me, "The Queen of Transportation". I said I liked that and could I have it on a name plate please?
3. Here comes that wonderful smell from the laminating machine again. Every time I smell the warming plastic I imagine it's Christmas morning. It reeks of new toys.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Dirt on Me: A Reality Check

I received a kind and generous comment from Anita a post or two back. She wrote, "You have an amazing life." When I read that, I dropped my forehead on my desk and thought, "No!No!No!"

My life is exactly NOT that.

Blogs easily give that impression when they only focus on the good, which is exactly the nature of my blog.

Life is stressful, hard, sad and painful. I am a broken person with a broken life. For real.

Because of this, I write beautiful reminders to myself each day so that I can focus on the blessings that I see as gifts from God. The crazy thing is, when I go back and read all my previous entries, I realize that I do have an amazing life! We all have amazing lives when we look at them through this lens!

Just for fun, here's the dirt: 

1. Am I really supposed to be losing this much hair?
2. "Uh, Mom. I got pulled over but don't worry..."
3. The dog vomitted where?
4. Daughter #4 still needs to finish high school and go to college. $$
5. I like to eat. Heck, I love to eat.
6. My mom is 92 and sad...a lot...I call her every morning... sometimes twice a day...and it hurts.
7. Should my knees, back, feet, hands, neck hurt this much when I get out of bed each morning?
8. I speak my mind.
9. I have a temper.
10. I can be totally unreasonable. See #9
11. I love too much.
12. How much is that new rim and tire going to cost?
13. I embarrass my husband when I'm goofy (and with certain impersonations.)
14. Sometimes my family is scattered to the four corners with the wind and I am very, very lonely.
15. People I love have serious relational issues and I wish I could help them, but I can't. All I can do is listen and pray.
16. I worry about my children and grandchildren.
17. I need to bake a gazillion (cookies, muffins, turkeys, you name it) by when?
18. Oh my gosh, it's only 2:00am. and I'm WIDE awake. Will I ever get a good nights sleep!
19. Our life contains words like cancer, divorce, and depression.
20. Damn, why won't this checkbook balance?
21. I swear on occasion. But I try not to in front of the pastor... or the grandchildren.
22. I am seriously not mature enough to have these responsibilities.
23. I have no more hormones. Or maybe I do but they're the bad kind.
24. I stare into space and wonder about the future of everything.
25. Is it me or is it hot in here?
26. This headache is killing me.
27. I just realized this list could go to infinity and beyond.

Amazing life? The answer is yes...and no. It all depends on how you look at it. : )

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away, Hatching Out?, School- Day One

1. And on the fifth day of rain, she said, "Let that be enough." And it was.
2. I looked at the fields under sun-dappled clouds this evening. It appeared the rain was starting up again. I refocused my eyes and saw that it wasn't rain, but billions of tiny flying insects everywhere. I called Steve and Tess to come look. The bugs flew in swarming patterns that looked like puffs and swirls of smoke. They went as far as our eyes could see. Tess and I watched them for a long while, hypnotized by the spectacle. They covered all of our five acres and beyond.
3. Today was the first day of school. It was a madhouse, but we smiled anyway.
3a. The preschool class came to the office looking for their gingerbread man. He had run away and they wanted to eat him. I checked my drawers but he wasn't there.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Love Bomb, Weather Patterns, It's a Revolving Door Around Here, A Walk in the Woods

1. Chelsea made it back to Colorado in the nick of time. (after fourteen hours of flight delays) Chad's  Open House for his and his partner's new bicycle business is today! Their website is up and running at: LoveBaum Bicycles. It is Chad's dream come true and we wish him much success.
2. A full day of steady rain and I love it. Even though it was on the cool side, I kept the porch door open so I could hear the rain and the birds.
3. Steve's flights were delayed too. Yet, somehow he managed to walk in the door just as I was taking a chicken pot pie out of the oven for dinner. Perfect timing!
4. Henri and I walked under dripping trees with rain soaked bark and silent woods. Is it my imagination or are there hints of summer's end in these woods?
4a. I want to tell Chelsea that I'm out walking and not broken after all. She'd be proud of her old mother : )

Friday, August 8, 2014

Travelers- Always, In Distress, Cue the Rain

1. My heart is tight for all the love and sweet sorrow I try to suppress. We stand at the curb of the airport terminal behind the open trunk to retrieve her backpack. The final hug when tears spring unbidden and I repeat (to myself or to her, I'm not sure.), "It's okay. It's okay."My lips are on her cheek and I miss her.
2. Henri and I were heading north on NC Route 86, four hours to home when I hit a huge hunk of old muffler in the road. It blew the tire, bent the rim, and there I was, standing on the grassy side of the road in the iconic cell phone-to-the-ear pose. Within minutes, a highway worker happened by and heard my distress. He had that soft, southwestern Virginia/North Carolina accent, a most polite demeanor, and a save-the-day attitude. He even said hello to Henri. I told the young man he was my angel today.
3. Home again! To an empty house this time. Even Steve is away. The low clouds and steady rain suit my mood. I eventually migrated to the porch where I sat and let my thoughts wander to the sound of rain.
3a. I picked tomatoes in the warm rain, the back of my shirt getting first damp and then wet.
4. Tess came home for a couple of hours. She let me lie on her bed and chat with her.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

To Laugh Just for the Fun of It, Claire Cooks, The Ridge Line

1. From her carseat in the back we hear three-year-old giggles turn to full belly laughs until she sighs to catch her breath. We have no idea why she is laughing. The giggles bubble up again and it's such a wildly happy sound that we're all caught in the giggle contagion.
2. Claire made a delicious quiche for our dinner. I love quiche but rarely make it because I'd be alone eating it.
2a. Later, she made Kettle Corn on the stove for us. We always find this to be a tricky one to get right but hers turned out really good.
3. We're driving past the very ridges and mountains that took her months to walk and climb. Now we speed past them in mere hours. It's mind boggling and sobering to think about our pace of life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Get Your Own Coffee Please, Sweet Pea, Gathering 'Round (and Up and Down)

1. His alarm was set for an early flight. It woke us both, but unlike him, I stayed put and blissfully fell back to sleep.
2. Mari takes a much better interest in her food when it has names like, "Princess Sandwich" and "Circus Yogurt". It's also amazing what a few rainbow sprinkles can accomplish.
2a. I check on her before I go to bed. I remember kneeling by our own sleeping little girls with overwhelming love. Love that easily turns into prayers for all good things...
3. It's Chelsea's last night at home. Tess, Audrey and Jared were here for dinner along with one of Chelsea's high school friends. We talked well into the night and they all made me laugh with their stories.
3a. It's been a week full of emotional highs and even some lows. I pause to catch my breath every now and then and find great comfort knowing that God is always near to help me get my bearings.
4. The hysterically funny moment when we realize Audrey's fantastic new hair dye matches Loverboy's Palomino coat.

We were all doubled over with laughter at this point.

It was a complete coincidence that their hair matched...or was it?

Always making me laugh.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

White Blaze Withdrawal, Caring, I Wouldn't Miss It

1. Chelsea didn't have the time to ease off the trail; she left it cold turkey. So, when she suggested a day hike to McAffee's Knob I said okay. She said it was 1.) an easy hike, 2.) three miles in, and 3.) the trail was like a highway. She would even carry Mari on her back. She breezed it. I huffed it. It was such a hot day, too! It took us seven hours to cover the seven mile round trip. What an appreciation I gained for thru hikers. I will never ever even consider hiking the Appalachian Trail.
1a. Mari was so easy to hike with. She pirouetted down the trail when we let her down to walk. She picked flowers and grasses, and was curious about all the wildlife.
1b. Chelsea showed us the Sassafras that was growing everywhere. She pulled up a little piece and scratched the root. It smelled just like root beer.
2. When we were almost near the end and those last grueling steps down were killing my knees she said, in a voice filled with concern, "I hope I didn't break you, Mom." (She knew I had a date tonight.)
3. Steve and I went to see Pat Metheny and the Unity Group. Thirty years ago Steve had Pat Metheny tickets and reluctantly sold them because he had a thermodynamics test. The poor guy waited all these years for another opportunity to see Pat Metheny in concert. It was worth the wait.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mari Visits

1. Mom, Dad and little brother have gone home and left Mari to stay for a visit. She is a sweet, imaginative little girl who is easily content. I have no pool or big activities scheduled as the visit was not planned. But no matter. She's happy to play in a dish pan of water : ) She doesn't want TV, electronics or computer. She's much happier with songs, stories, Polly Pockets and her aunts.

2. Before her mom left her with us, she said not to spoil her. She immediately realized the nonsense of saying it and said, "Never mind."
3. The Bocci balls were too heavy for her to throw, so we let her throw the little white ball (the Pallino) at the start of each game. She lost interest when she spotted a field full of Queen Anne's lace and I told her she could pick them.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Home for a Day, Four Paths, Peace

1. The weary travelers pulled into the driveway at 9:00 this morning. They drove through the night from Maine to Virginia and wanted only the simplest things: showers, rest, and food. I can provide that!
2. As the day wore on and everyone's energy levels were revived, we migrated outside to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather. They aired their tents and we listened to each other stories of all that's been going on with new homes, new jobs, and adventures. Each sister highly values what the other is doing.
3. My all-time, favorite summer activity, which I look forward to the most, is spending an evening on the porch visiting with our family. It's dark outside the screen and the crickets and cicadas sing into the night. Candle lights flicker on the table making it feel like we're enclosed in our own little capsule of peace. I am thankful for this brief moment when time stands still.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Us, Thinking Ahead, Gray is Good (for me)

1. To temper: take the edge off, make reasonable, chill out, modulate, mollify, tone down...It's what he does for me. Our marriage is where something imperfect becomes perfection in a never-ending cycle...thirty-three years today and counting. Thanks be to God.
2. Tess and I toured the Roanoke College campus under umbrellas this morning, in a rain that never let up. Every building had it's own good scent which was accentuated by the dampness. The gym smelled like wood polish, the fine arts building like ink and paper, and the older buildings like age itself.
3. I really like rainy days. They soothe and calm my spirit.