Friday, December 29, 2006

White Christmas

white christmas
Originally uploaded by podso.

It's a privilege at my age to have young friends. One of my very special friends sent me a picture of her doll house, brought downstairs for the holidays, and decorated for Christmas. It looks like a busy household. And I'm glad it snowed somewhere for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy New Year

blue window
Originally uploaded by podso.

We welcome 2007 as we travel to see my brother and his wonderful family and help them celebrate his 50th!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Subtle Golden Tones

My sister's friend, and my friend by email, adds a comment to the Rose Colored Glasses. I love it!

"After having a cataract removed from my left eye recently, I noted that everything from that eye appeared crisp and fresh and true to tone. However, my right eye, complete with cataract, records something entirely different. Everything has a very subtle golden tone, like late afternoon, when the shadows are long and everything looks lovely. What a shock! I am trading off my burnished tones for clear unsullied vision. Why in the world should I even think twice about that? It is just that everything is a bit lovelier with the untouched right eye. A little hazy, a little enhanced ... Could the golden cast on things also be a gift from God for our older selves to see the world through a golden filter? Or am I just romanticizing again? Guess I will have to go out and buy a pair of your rose colored glasses.

"Oh yes, and I can also now see my wrinkles in all of their glory. That's a bummer!"

A Favorite View

christmas window, originally uploaded by podso.

Inside and outside.

Billboard buddy

future dentist
Originally uploaded by podso.
We were driving on the upside of uptown with our kids when we passed this billboard and they yelled out their friend's name. Can you imagine passing a billboard and seeing a friend/classmate smiling down on you? It was "a moment."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas 1933

Christmas 1933
Originally uploaded by podso.
I love peeking in on the living room from my dad's childhood. Was this before or after Christmas dinner? My grandmother looks tired ... maybe she just finished cleaning up the kitchen. Where are the boys? Outside sledding maybe? I wonder!

Tradition ! !

Originally uploaded by podso.
Tevye shouts "Tradition!" as he sings and points to a fiddler on the roof. I consider his "tradition" as referring to a way of life as it always had been. At this time of year, we think of tradition as what meaningful things we do on holidays, especially, from year to year.

When we sought out our roots at the family reunion last summer, few of us knew what really went on inside the walls of the houses our fathers lived in. Exactly how did they celebrate holidays? What traditions did they practice year after year? More than likely, without being aware, we are following many of the same traditions. Since we practice traditions with our children that we did in our childhood, it's probable that those traditions were part of our parents growing up as well. There have been modifications for sure, but it is likely we are more connected than we realize to the traditions those houses would surely tell us about--if they could.

Last month I read an article about the importance of empty nesters developing new traditions. It's hard to maintain all that you did when your kids were growing up, now that they are beginning their own families and traditions. Chief and I started a new tradition a few years ago of going to the city symphony's annual eclectic Christmas concert. Tucked way up at the economic top of the gorgeous orchestra hall, we may not see every facial expression on the performers way down below, but the acoustics are flawless and the music delightful. What a great way to start up the Christmas holiday. This year as I snuggled against my husband's warm arm, I was particularly aware of the grace in our lives and the gift that we have to be together this Christmas. After a fall of much uncertainty and scary doctor visits, we are thankful for reasonable health and the opportunity to continue to enjoy each other for today, and hopefully tomorrow ... and practice old and new traditions!

Just Three

Originally uploaded by podso.
Both of my sons are creative. But the older one has a particular twist to his creativity that brings a smile. I remember years ago we arrived home one afternoon to learn the new gleam to his old red jeep came from a good rub with WD 40. This little Sumarai, cast off to him by a friend, he hopes to fix up for a cheaper ride to work. Meanwhile he painted it black to cover up a multitude of messes. And yes, he used just three cans of black spray paint.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Little Women Revisited

young lady playing, originally uploaded by podso.

What a treat to have a lovely young lady play beautifully on our "Little Women" piano this afternoon!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

78 Years Young

moto grandma
Originally uploaded by podso.
My grandmother was always full of life and lots of fun. I never thought of her as old, as she had a youthful spirit about her. May I be so at that age!

The Attic Gang

The Attic Gang
Originally uploaded by podso.
No words are needed to caption this reunion of Wheaton College friends. The guys all lived together in an attic of sorts. All made an impact in this world––superb mothers (of 9, 7, 4 and 3 kids), two preachers, businessmen and entrepreneurs. Seven are having a great celebration in heaven this Christmas, while three are here missing them.

Little Women

little women
Originally uploaded by podso.
This is how I envision the piano may have looked as the March women gathered around to sing at Christmas time. At least that's what I thought after I finished messing around with this greenery.

Frosty, Not the Snow Man

Originally uploaded by podso.

A young man with cerebral palsy awkwardly made his way to our car when we were at the Wendy's Drive-up and offered us a coupon book for a dollar. The entire dollar would go to Dave's Adoption Foundation. And for our dollar we got ten coupons for 6 oz frosties...that is, totally free, no hitches or glitches. Not a bad deal, and a great cause. (Almost makes you feel guilty using the coupons.) Furthermore, Wendy's now has vanilla frosties. So we indulged. The now battered coupon book tossed around at the bottom of my purse is a sort of secret comfort...there if we need a quick fix. Only six ounces--that's practically a diet frosty.

We were visiting our son and his wife overnight and I gave them a couple of coupons ... how generous of me! But that's not the frosty that this post is about. The frost bit is something we discovered this weekend and laughed and laughed about. Two times my Christmas cookies were brought up in conversation. (The Tradition of particular Christmas cookies is an important part of the Christmas season. I had been planning to skip a large portion of this Tradition until these conversations occurred.) "Chief" husband began talking enthusiastically about my "frozen butterscotch mounds." "They are so cool and crisp as they come out of the freezer." Full stop. They are not meant to be frozen desserts. They are meant to be kept in a cookie tin on top of the frig. We suddenly realized what he was talking about. I make the cookies and then they are stashed away deep in the freezer, hidden, or so I think––until some magical day (whenever that is) when suddenly all the Christmas cookies come out of hiding and are "free game." Obviously Chief had done a lot of scavenging about in the deep dark corners of the freezer to remember those cookies as "frozen." Big smile here.

But later Son and wife asked if I would be sure to make my delicious frozen fudge for when they come home at Christmas. Frozen fudge? I don't recall it. Oh yes, same deal as above. It's all about hiding the cookies or fudge in the freezer!

My poor family fondly remembers mainly frozen Christmas cookies? What a hoot!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rose Colored Glasses

The first time I remember experiencing rose colored glasses was looking out on the formal garden at Windsor Castle. I must have picked up some cheap sunglasses somewhere in London and put them on when we walked out on the balcony to view the garden. I still remember its exquisite beauty. But when I took the glasses off, I was appalled at the difference. For the garden was still lovely, but had lost its vivid luster and gleam.

The other day, driving along while admiring the beauty of the fall colors, I pulled an old pair of sunglasses out of the glove compartment. The leaves on the trees instantly turned to a brilliant gold and orange and red. The beauty was almost breathtaking, but not so when I pulled the glasses down my nose and looked above them. I was reminded of rose colored glasses and the phrase "looking at the world through rose colored glasses."

So I decided to do some research. Google of course. Every mention of the phrase, of which there aren't many, has sort of negative connotations. For instance, parents tend to view their children through rose colored glasses, and they should wake up and realize their kids aren't all that great. I found references to it being viewed as "a cheerful optimistic" view of the world; and some "unfortunate people never take their glasses off." The phrase goes back at least 150 years when "it is first recorded in 'Tom Brown at Oxford': 'Oxford was a sort of Utopia to the Captain. He continued to behold towers, and quadrangles, and chapels through rose-colored glasses.'" (From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson.)

Maybe rose colored glasses show us a bit of what heaven will be like. Maybe if we always "wear rose colored glasses," we may not pay attention to our fallen world, or see things that need to be cared for or dealt with. Nonetheless, a little more optimism might not hurt any of us. And I'm thinking that with a world-view that a relationship with God provides, the world should be viewed with rose-colored glasses. For, as my five-year-old niece recently told me, "All that God made is very good." No matter what difficulties occur in life, we know all is allowed by God and touched by His hand.

I'll keep those rose colored glasses in the glove compartment. When I enjoy the view of life they give me, I'll be reminded that all that God made is very good.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by podso.
A view of history.

The most dangerous road in the world

dangerous road
Originally uploaded by podso.
Finally I have proof of the dangerous road we traveled more than a decade ago, from the high city of LaPaz down to the Amazon jungle. Our little family of four plus two other men in a VW bug loaded with barb wire on the roof. My husband had a bruised knee from this trip. No guard rails, etc. It was an amazing ride and we're thankful to be alive to tell the story!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Personal Relationships

I welcome fall this year like never before. Maybe it's because of challenging times recently with illness and the need for refreshment and looking to better times. Or it might be the wonderful change of temperature––a crispness to the air that renews energy after the heat of summer. Whatever the reason is, I stop and take note of beautiful colors and a new season for new beginnings. Our drive up to Pennsylvania Amish country a few weeks ago marvelously attacked our senses...autumn colors, rich farmland ready for harvest rest, pumpkins galore, and homes tastefully decorated for the season.

The poison has left my body with lingering side effects to the treatment and some delicate skin in need of repair. The wonders of prednisone amaze me as I experienced some good (wide-eyed clarity of thinking, forgotten pain from arthritis, and energy to do many projects long-neglected) and bad (think "balloon") side effects. The chief's health has been one scare after another recently, and even more so this week––a week that seems like a year long, as every nook and cranny of his heart is poked and prodded. We experience God-instilled peace as we wait for answers. We are thankful all is well so far, with one corner yet to walk around.

Today is a big leaf day. Sagging gutters, full driveway, cluttered grasses––leaves everywhere. They are falling rapidly, but a mere tip of the iceberg to come. As I mow and bag and blow and dump, I know it will start all over again in a couple of days as the multicolored leaves dance down to my doorstep. I look up, up, up––way up to the tops of the trees and down again, and think how before it's over and any possible snow flies (yeah right), I will have a personal relationship with each and every leaf in those trees.

And you thought this might be a blog entry on something spiritual possibly. All of life relates in some way to spiritual things. We see that from our gratitude for a new (lease on) life the chief* feels he's been given, to the simple glories of changing seasons––personal relationships with fallen leaves included.

*my husband's college knickname

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Won––But Even More, Be Aware!

" I never win anything." I hear lots of people say that, and it certainly is true for me––or was. Today some nurses came to where I work with pink bags and lots of information about breast cancer (October is the pink month.) It's interesting that there is new technology (only one place in town offers it now) that is so much more accurate at picking up tumors. We were reminded about all the risks and good things to do to prevent breast cancer. There were candy kisses of varying chocolate choices, and mini donuts to entice us to listen to their five minute inservice. The fatty sweets were a humorous mixed signal. And we wrote our names on scraps of paper for a drawing.

Not long after the nurses were back with a pink package for ME. I actually won something. I think it was that fact more than what the package contained that added a small inner smile to the day. My name actually came forth out of a drawing bag. What did I find when I tore the pink tissue away? A tiny pink ribbon pin, and a pair of sox with pink writing that said, "Awareness." That's what this month is all about. Be aware, be knowledgeable about this killer disease.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Walmart, By Prayer

Our Walmart is huge, and I'm never too excited to visit it. But family is coming this weekend so I'll be cooking for 15 and needed to go. There's just too many bargains to not take advantage. I worked hard on my list, practically had it memorized. This time I wrote out each meal's ingredients with an individual shopping list and then transferred that to a "master" list. Wow, I was ready to go. Four pm is not the best time to be at a busy Walmart, but off I went, praying on my way.

Why pray before shopping, one may ask. It's a matter of panic attacks, which I've been known to have at Walmart. About halfway through a major shopping I can suddenly feel stifled, attacked by the crowded aisles and a feeling that I can't get another thing and I have to get out of there fast. May sound strange to others, but that's me. So I garnished or girded this trip with prayer, before, during and afterwards, a breath of thanksgiving. This time I found the aisles manageable. I remembered almost the whole list without looking and rarely had to circle back for something. But even when I got to the main ingredient aisles that always get busy (oh boy, I forgot today was a holiday so it was even more crowded), I found myself maneuvering the crowds with my heavy cart, smiling at people, even making a few comments like you do when you find yourself looking for the same food item with another person. Two Mormon looking young men (dead giveaway short sleeve white shirts and ties) came through smiling and excusing themselves in every direction. That was pleasant and people responded pleasantly to them.

By the time I reached the check out counters my back hardly hurt and I was feeling pretty on top of things. I looked at the lines and chose what looked like a nice checker. She was Latino and I hadn't seen her before. I made some friendly comments about the lower grade bags that all the checkers have been complaining about and when she didn't respond much, I wondered how her English was. Then I realized she was new, and this was the icing on the whole cake of the shopping experience. It was her first day checking alone. As I questioned her I found her English fine, but she was very nervous and unsure of herself. So I had my chance to affirm her and I did so with great gusto. I told her what a wonderful job she did and I that I would be back to her counter next time. I left her smiling. I even smiled a good bye to the door guard who didn't want to see my slip for some reason. What a worthwhile trip, even if there hadn't been groceries.

I think it may have been my best trip ever to Walmart.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Awful Wonders of Poison

It was such a beautiful day! A warm sunny day with fall in the air. Spouse was safely home from the hospital and even feeling like puttering just a bit outside. I did the lawn and dumped the clippings in the back woods, checking oh so very carefully for the poison ivy that attacked me so vigorously a year ago. All done, I didn't want to go in. The day was too nice, besides there was weeding and cleaning out of vines and bushes that had gone too long neglected. I got busy. Pretty sweaty too. Wow I got a lot done. A great sense of accomplishment.

Several days later, driving home from work, I noticed two bumps on my leg that itched. Must have gotten bitten by something. Then two more "bites" on my chest. (You would think I would have remembered a year ago, turning the house upside down cleaning, convinced there were bugs infesting something.) Well, duh, I finally get what it is. But still leave it, thinking this can't be as bad a case as last time. No scratching this time, but still it spreads daily and weeps and looks like leprosy or something. This is true POISON inside me. I am amazed at it's power. Finally treated, the poison is still taking its sweet old time to leave my body. And I get to suffer side effects of the treatment as well. What we are thinking in this household is, "When will life get back to normal?"

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Conversation

Wife: (stupid question) Do you think there could be some kind of curse on you or your family? (After a fourth near-death experience.)

Husband: No.
Wife: Sins of the father being visited on the offspring?

Husband: No.
Wife: Why this incredible list of maladies you've had the last 35 years, especially this one?

Husband: So God can be glorified.
Wife: I can think of other ways.

Husband: You're not in charge.

After another serious bout for my husband with life threatening P.E.s (many clots in both lungs) this week, we are home from the hospital. The effect of it all starts to hit me. As I vacuum, I feel sad and wonder if I should start questioning "why." I stop vacuuming and thus begins another conversation:

Wife: Why? And why you?
Husband: Don't even waste your emotions thinking that way. Just stop right now.

Wife: But....
Husband: I'm kind of curious and excited about what God is going to do with this, and because of this. And I know He'll get glory in how we respond to it.

So now the nitty gritty starts. The big test. By faith and many praying, we've gotten through the main crisis. But how will I continue to respond as I process it all? How will I manage watching my beloved struggle with frequent blood tests, trips to the doctor, always fearful of eating too much spinach, always watching for bleeding, remembering to keep his legs moving, to take his afternoon Coumadin.... In faith? And to His glory? Or, with fear of a next time. Begging him home from travel in the deadly skies or the long drives (both bad for clots). A friend writes, "Don't give in to fear and stay home under a blanket for the rest of your life."

It's a daily determined uphill walk, garnering strength for faith, through the One who not only enables faith, but also receives it and is glorified through it. It's all about Christ being central in our lives. It's all about a willingness to sacrifice too, but that's a conversation for another day.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What You Can Fit on a Train

The tall, bearded 40-something man with a large knapsack on his back walks into the train station pushing a bicycle loaded down with a bedroll and assorted bags attached at the handlebars, in sidebaskets, and behind the seat. Following closely comes his wife riding a handicapped electric cart. I think they fit about as much tucked in and around her cart as one could fit in a small car! It practically is the size of a small car! Collapsed tent, bedroll, lawnchairs, knapsacks, umbrella, a giant is an amazing sight to see. Apparently they are on some sort of camping expedition, but now it's time to ride the rails. They head for the platform to catch the next train to Brighton.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pricey Skirts and Penguin PJs

I guess there are some women in town today who are excited that the new Neiman Marcus has opened its doors. The news of 1900 dollar skirts is buzzing around. This morning while driving home I listened to a local talk show host phone his wife toward the end of his show. "Honey, I want to apologize that I've never bought you a $1900 skirt."

"That's okay, dear, there's a lot better things to do with $1900 than spend it on a skirt."

"But," he continues, "I've never been able to buy you $800 boots."

"That's still okay. Even if I had married a rich man I would not buy $800 boots. It's not my style. It's not how I was raised. There are more important things in life."

"Honey, where did you buy those penguin pajamas you wear?" His patient wife names the store, saying they were two for $20. "And the frog ones?"

"The same store; each piece is $10 and you can intermix them. Penguins with frogs if you like." As the strains of a Johnny Cash song begin, he wraps up his show saying, "You don't know how many men envy me––going home to a wife with penguin pajamas."

I doubt everyone hangs on to the values he or she was raised with, for whatever reason. But I think this guy is pleased as could be that his wife did. (As, my husband declares, is he). I think the radio guy really is proud to be going home to those penguin pajamas, two for $20.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Come for Tea

A silly "thrill of a lifetime" for me was being served a true Dorset tea by an English woman in her 250 year old house in the little town of Wareham, surrounded by Saxon walls (though half the size of what they had originally been). This is living in real history. The old house is in incredible shape, with inside shutters and an amazing English garden in the back. This is one of those houses whose door opens right up on the winding village street, each house attached to the next.

We entered through the tiny car park at the back gate. The "coffee" table was laid with the tea things. Napkins, small sterling silver butter knives, small blue and white plates, cups and saucers, and the cream and sugar. After we had given our greetings, we sat down and out came the tea pot, a plate of buttered scones, a plate of buttered raisin toast and a Dorset apple loaf cake. And of course, raspberry jam and divine clotted cream that was the "cream of the crop." The very finest top of the cream. It looked like yellow butter. The proper way, though much debated, is to put the jam on first and then a touch of the cream. Milk in the teacup first of course. Mmmmmm. Around and around the lovely goodies were passed. "You must have some more." It seemed the thing to take more than one, and have seconds at that. (This type of nonsense must only be allowed because the Brits walk so much!) I was so touched. I just sat and thoroughly enjoyed the moment, taking it all in, not believing I was where I was.

Interesting conversation with the tea preceded a tour of the house. Then we walked down the road to the 11th century parish church...where there was a flower festival wrapping up. We saw a cast iron baptismal font that was carefully hidden when Lord Cromwell turned anything made of iron into canon balls. The church had been burned once, rebuilt, and at one time fell down. But the very front chapel in one corner is original. It is now a prayer room. As I stared at the small chairs gathered for their current mid week prayer service, I could not help but sense history in a tangible way. Here believers had gathered throughout history and prayed for things like the Black Plague, the French Revolution, the War of 1812--you get the picture. This is the site where Edward's, the brief King of England, body had initially laid (in the 900s) after being murdered by his stepmother's aide, in order that her younger son become king. Later his body was sent to Dorchester.

We also heard the story of a mother whose son had died in France in the war, his body never found. In despair the mother herself years later went to the battlefield where he had fallen. She ate some food while she sat remembering his life, later burying the rubbish in the ground. As she dug she struck something--and found it was something of her son's belongings. An excavation soon took place and in no time her son's body had been found and brought back to Wareham to be buried. True story! There was a flower memorial in the church to this young soldier.

OK, this is the final bit about our trip to England!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

First Class Feet

There's a mesh curtain that flight attendants are very careful to keep closed during flights, even though it's a pain to unfasten it as they move about the plane. It separates the first or envoy class from the common folk. You can see through it, but I guess it's a barrier/reminder NOT to use the envoy bathrooms. That's against the rules. But, apparently, tourist feet by themselves are okay to go through the "great divide."

When we waited in the "preferred flyer" US Air lounge in Gatwick this week, the young woman behind the desk worked her craft to get us into Row 8, the "bulkhead"(with my very tall husband's medical history he has some "clot clout"). She claimed she got us the "very best seat." (Was God reserving it for us? Where were the babies that needed it for their cots?). The deal was, with four seats across, the row end seats in the bulkhead have nothing but space in front of them. Ah, stretching room! Right under the curtain and into first class went my tall husband's feet. No complaints from any sensitive envoy noses either. His feet rode first class the whole way across the Atlantic! Does God have a sense of humor or what?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Holey Clogs

Months ago when we booked our flight to the United Kingdom, only God knew that we would be flying on the day the London Heathrow terrorist plot broke loose, and therefore all airports and travel were a mass of confusion. Throughout our departure day we fielded calls and e-mails from concerned friends, family and neighbors. Would we still go?

We concluded this would actually be a very safe day to travel. And by the time we arrived at the airport later in the day, it was a pretty quiet place. Over half of those booked on our flight had canceled. Were we smart, or were they the smart ones?

The actual boarding process was what brought us back to the reality and gravity of the situation. We were ushered into a small, stifling room where 12 men (police, FBI and federal marshals) lined the entrance and stared at us as we moved slowly towards a table manned by about eight security people. They searched every part of our carry on luggage as if looking for a priceless treasure. No liquids allowed of course––not even chapstick!

It did make us feel rather safe and throughout the flight we made a sort of game of guessing who was our in-flight sky marshal. We were sure there was one.

Our first introduction to Lizzie and Oliver's mum was when we found her straddling a bank of seats, trying to squeeze two good-size booster seats and carry-ons into the overhead compartment. More of her strawberry-blonde, frizzy hair escaped than was held in by a big barrette as she flashed us a smile of thanks as we assisted her. She was obviously one of those persons who was very at home with herself, full of personality, and "didn't know a stranger." That personality spilled into her two tousled blonde-haired children––Lizzie, five, seated on her mum's far side, practicing her reading from an old Lady bird reader; and Oliver, seven, who sat across the aisle from us, intent on engaging us in conversation. All three were wearing those trendy plastic, bright colored clogs covered with holes. They were headed for a wedding. Dad, presumably American, was coming a week later.

Oliver was cunning, witty, and, with a twinkle in his eyes, made us laugh. While our big old airbus waited over an hour on the tarmac for a storm to pass, we discussed all kinds of things and told stories and jokes. While still a kid, Oliver was definitely at home with adults, and not shy at all. We won't soon forget him. "So, do you have another joke?" He kept plying for more, even though he didn't "get" all of them.

Once we got in the air, we flew right through the same storm we'd sat through on the ground. There was much banging, creaking and rattling in the cabin. Oliver's mum, a Brit, leaned over to us. "Have you flown US Air before?"

"Yes, many times."

"Do you generally get there in one piece?"

"Yes," came our reassurance, though at that moment we had some question. We did arrive safely. And thankfully. Now to face the return trip. This time we may only be allowed to carry on a clear zip lock bag. And no chapstick of course.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Letters from Cyberspace

I am thinking about this online journal stuff––blogs and all. It’s kind of nice to keep a record online that can be accessed any time one has internet hookup and time on their hands. There are creative uses for it. I know a lady who has cancer and writes every day. People can check in on her progress and what she’s learning about God and life whenever they want, but don’t have a daily e-mail update filling their in-box. Another young man with cancer posts updates on a friend’s website. And it’s always good to read what individuals are thinking and struggling with––particularly those who are vulnerably honest.

But will all this be still floating in cyberspace a hundred years from now? Members of our family are reading old letters between our grandparents and parents right now, written with penmanship that perhaps helps to express the personality of those writing. It’s something very special, like reaching out and touching their lives. Stepping inside the door of their souls. In a very real way the letters are an emblem of who we are as children and grandchildren––a window into our heritage.

What will future generations have left of their history? Will e-mail letters be around? They won’t show a tear smudge or words crossed out for better ones. It’s something to think about. I suppose I won’t be around 100 years from now, so why fret? Will the blogs or e-mails be shifted to heaven? Will we even care about the past then? Somehow I think history will always be around. And very much something to remember, celebrate, and, of course, learn lessons from. I guess I better get my pen out and start a letter.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rocking Chair Grace

We roll down the windows and let a fresh breeze spill in as our car chugs up the winding roads into the mountains. The crisp clear air begs for us to breathe deeply as if to cleanse away the city pollution from our lungs. It’s time for lunch but we have yet to find a nook alongside the road to eat our sandwiches. I breathe a prayer, “Lord, help us to find a really special spot for our lunch.” After all, we had opted to go the cheap route, and not look for a cute little teashop along the road. Don’t we deserve a picnic to remember?

In less than a minute a road sign announces a rest/visitor center just up ahead. Wow, a quick answer. As we drive into a pristine park-like setting, we notice that all the shady picnic tables are of course occupied. We ride around the mountain-style building, boasting a porch on all sides. There on the back porch are two rocking chairs, quietly waiting for us, as if we’d booked ahead with reservations! We park nearby and sit down to rock our way through a simple lunch. Much too simple for the beauty we look out on. We are completely alone with a sea of day lilies, backed by a lawn as green as grass can be. One majestic mountain after another rises in the distance like waves billowing on the sea. A soft breeze blows as we rock and munch sandwiches and carrot sticks. And I ponder the quick answer to my silent prayer. Several people interrupt the quiet as they come out of a nearby door and with an “I-wish-I-had-thought-to-eat-lunch-here” inflection to their voices, congratulate us on our creative use of the rockers.

I wonder about this dining spot prepared for us. If I hadn’t prayed, would we still have seen the road sign and found the rockers? Was it a “God-thing” or just a coincidence? As I thank Him profusely from my heart, I assume it is of God, but why?

The answer comes from history. From experience I know God ordains my days, and has as long as I’ve known Him. Recorded history tells the rest of the story. Everything in life––even “coincidences”––works because of Him. And if that wasn’t true, and there was such a thing as “just happened,” I would still delight to give Him the glory for it. For us this day––amazing rocking chair grace!

"Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindness of God in your daily life." A. Maclaren

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Two friends get together for lunch today. College roommates 64 years ago. They both seem "young for their age," are recent widows, and have kept in touch through the years. A good project––keeping a friendship going so many years. Something of great value. What a fun visit they will have today!

Monday, June 26, 2006

To Grandmother’s House We Go

Forty-five years is a long time not to know each other. But there we were, strangely familiar to each other, connected by strong genes and a family history, once again in our grandparents' house. It seemed much the same, now 38 years since our grandmother's death and 38 years since another family began calling the house "home." Their family had grown up here, new children called it "grandmother's house," yet with much unchanged we were able to slip back in time. Our aunt once again filled the house with beautiful sounds of her piano playing. We sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness"––indeed a theme of our family.

A new generation of children tumbled outside on the lawn, teenagers talked on the porch, my twin cousins stood in the paneled library where for hours we had read our grandmother's books. Down in the basement we remembered ping-pong games and a special birthday party.

We took turns taking our pictures at the kitchen sink where we remembered our grandmother best. Large ferns graced the dining room windows where Grandmother's ferns had also flourished. I looked at my mother standing in a dining room virtually unchanged by the years. I knew she was back at family dinners––Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays––strongly missing many at the table whose places would now be empty.

For a brief 90 minutes the house had become ours again, graciously enabled by the second and current owners of the home our grandfather so beautifully built. We were given the gift of going back in time and reliving childhood memories because they too understood family and the importance of a home filled with memories. All around were cousins, aunts and an uncle---just as it had been so many years ago. What an amazing experience. We told secrets, explored our favorite hiding places, shared stories, and loved on each other, spurred on by memories tucked in every nook and cranny.

But then it was time to go. The grand piano was really a spinet, the library cuckoo clock was silent and no chimes sounded from a grandfather clock in the front hall. Slowly we came back to the present, wiped back tears, and said good-bye, ending a two-day cousin family reunion, each of us profoundly affected. It is time to get back to the present, but we will not forget the gift we had been given that hot June day.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Incredible Human Body

The human body is amazing in the way it heals, rebuilds, and rejuvenates, among other things. Re. last spokes post: no more knee pain, no more walking needed, and no more napping!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I distinctly remember my last bike ride in 1978. We loved to ride our bikes in those years when we thought we'd be young forever. Long trips--even overnight--and short rides. I frequently rose at 5 am and biked the short distance to Lake Michigan. The birds singing interrupted quiet stillness as I watched the sun slip above the horizon. The morning before our first son came into our lives I knew it would be the last ride for a while. As I savored the solitude one last time, I pondered that life would never be quite the same again.(Indeed, but far richer!) My next bike ride was with a baby on the back of the bike.(And how we enjoyed those rides!)

I've continued irregularly to do short bike rides up and down the highs and lows of our deceptively hilly neighborhood. But in recent days we've enjoyed rides again in earnest. It's much the same as years ago except for a few differences. The left knee aches as the peddles rotate around. I no longer ride a racing bike with low handlebars and I'm not as agile as I use to be. But the REP will never change! We enjoy a little break on a park bench, as I find I don't push myself to the degree I used to. When my legs feel like rubber, I'm not ashamed to walk part of the very significant hill we meet on the home stretch. And I fight off the desire for a big nap when it's over. But otherwise the thrill is just the same, and I think I'm 25 again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Did I Get it Right?

My mother is visiting my sister for a few days. I find myself calling each day to check on things. It's hard to let go when you are used to watching out for someone, and thinking about their well being all the time. Mom used to live where my sister lives, and this is her first time back without Daddy, and seeing old friends she hasn't seen in a good while. A couple of them met for lunch. My sister said, "If you had been with us you would have blogged about this." There they were--three old friends--two with walkers and one with a cane, missing a lot of important people in their lives, but still sharing friendship and remembering old times together. A mixed bag for sure, but in the great scheme of life, a big blessing. I decided to blog it anyway. Did I get it right?

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Bouquet of Providence

Sometimes, in the life of faith in the unknown and unseen, we are allowed a good picture of why something happened as it did.

This Mother's Day I had to work. I tried to focus on the joy of caring for new mothers and their babies, on a day that celebrated motherhood. But in the back of my mind was my own dear 80-something mother at her retirement community, eating Sunday dinner alone in a room filled with mothers and children celebrating together. Later in the day Mom called me at work to tell me that my brother had taken the all night train in order to surprise her Mother's Day morning! She had a wonderful day with her son. And Tom had no idea when he made his plan that Mom would be alone that day. But God knew and choreographed the whole thing.

I discovered a "divinely-allowed" nail in my tire just in time to drive my brother to catch his train home in the wee hours long before dawn--and not to the safest part of town. I embraced my faith and thanked God for this opportunity to trust Him as I drove through a darkened city. By the time Tom called to make sure I had made it home, I was snuggled back in bed. Meanwhile he sat on a "train station pew bench" with other dozing riders, awaiting an increasingly delayed Amtrak. But he did good to come, a thoughtful son leaving a generous, caring wife and daughters to spend Mother's Day on their own.

God graced us with a celebration of His providence.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blue Sole Shoes

The blueberry farm was a bevy of activity when we visited last week. Both men and women worked the fields, covered from head to toe to protect them from the Florida sun as they rapidly picked the lush berries off the bushes. One bucket on their belts, and three waiting on the ground. When all four were filled, they marched up to their foreman who scanned their cards and credited them their four buckets. Inside the packing house blueberries were everywhere. A small group of men hovered over the belt, picking out bad berries and making sure they fell properly into little plastic containers. These were put into boxes and the boxes were stacked and placed in a huge refrigerator the size of a small warehouse. Before this harvest scene came months of careful growing, including fending off swarms of hungry birds, and staying up all night to protect the fruit from heavy freezes. We're just beginning to learn what all there is to farming as we visit our farmer nephew. When we left, savoring the sweetness of our blueberry dessert, we checked the bottom of our shoes as we got in the car. Blue soles!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

relative strangers

In two months 15 "relative strangers" with shared memories will gather in a hotel outside Philadelphia. An enigma? The key is the word "relative." It's actually a double entendre, or sort of pun. For, as a matter of fact, we 15 strangers are relatives. We're cousins, and all have the same grandparents. Our dads were brothers, growing up in a lively family in the 20s and 30s. All but one have left this earth, leaving us a wonderful heritage, and we will celebrate that heritage when we gather.

We knew each other as cousins do as children--the occasional family summer visit (we lived in various parts of the country) or Christmas gatherings around our Grandmother's table. A few of us have gotten re-acquainted through e-mail and sharing in the declining health of our parents and funerals. But for some of us it's been 40 years since we've met.

As we make plans--gathering photos, digging into family history, arranging tours, and updating the family tree, we wish our dads were here to enjoy this time. How they would! We guess they know what we are up to. We hope we get the story right. I'm sure they will share a few smiles as they watch us try!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Yawns and Bursts of Laughter

"Which one did my wife make?" I read this today. It was a caption to a photo of Dad in a church supper line. He always wanted to find what his wife brought--he knew that would be good, safe food.

I am missing Dad a lot this Spring, and as Easter approaches...his first resurrection Sunday in Glory. Hubert van Zetter in Moments of Light, wrote this about missing someone. It is quoted in Jan Karon's A Continual Feast:

"It is not that we feel cut off from the bigger spiritual relationship which survives death, but from the hundred and one lesser links which bind people together, incidental things which when looked back on seem of enduring significance, but which were taken so much for granted at the time. The other person's sense of humor, prejudices, moods, all that has gone. For the rest of our lives we will have to do without his mannerisms, his shyness, his ways of pronouncing things. The voice is silent--we had expected it would be--but that the yawns and bursts of laughter will never be repeated is almost more than we can bear...Those moments were not passing moments at all. They had something in them of eternity...."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Spring Mow

I love cutting the grass this time of year. Its lush green color and rich scent spill into my psyche. The tidy definitive rows do something for my love of orderliness and sense of accomplishment. And when I mow I wish I could be a child in our yard. My mower turns a corner under trees that would make wonderful tea party places or passes over expanses of lawn begging for blankets spread out for doll playing. There's a few potential climbing trees and tall bushes for hide and seek. Mowing affords time for my mind to deliciously wander back to childhood and visions of delight in simple things. An hour later muscles may ache, but my mind is refreshed like I've been on a short holiday.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Great Rebellion

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, maybe not stormy, but a blustery wind had kicked up. The air was crisp and cold as we crept through the brush. Ahead of us loomed our destination. Tall and gleaming in moonlight filtering through clouds--the water tower! The first step was not easily accessible; it was our shoulder height. We struggled as the more agile assisted the clumsier to swing up to the ladder. My hands clung to the cold metal as I secured my footing and began to climb.

We giggled, chortled, whispered commentaries--a group of young men and women during Freshman Week. We were experiencing the thrill of new independence that early college life brings. The Water Tower was strictly off limits.

We embraced the event and talked about it for days after, glad to have made a memory. It was my first (well, sort of) big rebellion.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tulips on the Garden Path

As the daffodils fade and azaleas bloom overnight, I frequently remember how much my father and I enjoyed spring a year ago. I'd push Daddy in his wheelchair around garden paths, from tulips to flowering shrubs, until I wearied and we'd settle on the rocking chair porch for a view of the lake. Again and again (at least once a minute) he would point with joy in his eyes and exclaim over flowers, swimming swans, or anything else of beauty around him. What pleasure he experienced each and every time!

Midst a life stage where Dad maybe felt disappointment at how little he could do for himself (but how do we know for sure what he felt?) he experienced a richness of pleasure with his intact senses. And with that he enabled us to experience joy again each time with him, as we would look and exclaim again and again! A gift of grace--so much pleasure at such a difficult time of life! Blessings come wrapped in unusual packages!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Around and around and around

It is a bright and sunny Sunday. Spring is popping out everywhere you look with the accompanying allergies. I left the house earlier than my husband this morning to go and bring my newly widowed mother to church. Usually that is followed by a leisurely meal together. But as I drive off every Sunday towards her house, I see a spinning wheel. Life comes at you fast, and in circles, around and around and around. For it seems like just yesterday that my mother was leaving the house early on a Sunday to pick up her mother, newly widowed, to bring to our church and home for dinner. Blink and 30 years have flown by. Everything is cyclical, isn't it--bills, seasons, growling stomachs, final all comes again and again, as do generational patterns! I guess we are old enough to take all that in now, as we see our parents' generation gracefully slipping into old age and death. Our kids are now the ones exploring and enjoying independence as young adults that it seems we were doing just a short while ago. What will it be like 30 years forward from now?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Unanswered Questions

My father called me Podso. I never knew why. When I was a child I had this idea it was an Indian (aka Native American) name. I don't remember ever wondering enough to ask him where the name came from, but I remember rather liking the idea that Podso was his special name just for me. He rarely called me that as an adult, and now the "why Podso" is included in a growing list of "I wish I had asked Daddy that...."

I guess as children we don't wonder about those kind of things like we do when we become older adults. The excitement of growing up, buying a home, having a career, raising kids suddenly slows down as you settle in life. Then time to think arrives and you wonder.....

My father very gradually lost his short term memory. His long term memory stayed pretty sharp, but his ability to speak full sentences gradually diminished, so that eventually we had guessing games when we asked him questions. His main reply towards the end of his life was a gaze intently into our eyes, telling us he had the answer, and most likely wishing so much he could share it. "Search deeply in my eyes and you'll get the answer."

The questions we ask unlock more about who we are. Or the why of who we are. As we grow older, albeit content to be who we've turned out to be, we still like to put puzzle pieces together.
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