Thursday, August 30, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home
Originally uploaded by podso
I popped into my mom's today to help her with a few things. Whenever I open the door to her little apartment I am filled with a sense of being home. Though she has condensed her 60 plus years of married life into a small apartment in a retirement center, it is still my parents' home. Familiarity is all around. Furniture, family heirlooms, familiar pictures I've seen all my life, a particular scent ... it's all there to instill peace into me, even after all these years of living away from home. Walking into her house is like a huge batch of comfort food.

And of course there is my mother's soft voice. She's always there, ready with advice (and I still go to her for some). Though our roles are switching a bit these days, she still mothers me. I often hear, "Be careful."

I don't take for granted still having a mother on this earth, and being able to "go home." I thank God for this incredible blessing and the feeling of security it continues to bring.

There's nothing so sweet as being able to phone her and say, "Mom?"

Photo: My childhood home, built by my father.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


the rock
Originally uploaded by podso
Thirty-six years ago today, Hurricane Dora had passed through our town delaying one bridesmaid. We were very young as we walked down the aisle. Strangely, we don't feel much older today (other than the usual aches and pains that come along life's journey.) Back then and still today, our marriage was built on the solid Rock of our Heavenly Father who in His amazingly creative way, believed the two of us together was a good idea. Out of that solid Rock has flowed a steadfast love and a life we would never have imagined, along with two wonderful boys and a host of family and friends.

There is nothing better to do today than recognize and be thankful for Who brought us together. And be thankful for each other, for together, as we collect life experiences, we grow closer and closer. What a treasure, never to be taken for granted!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More From the 19th Century

Originally uploaded by podso

Lucy Smith, who died in 1881, wrote: "One thing is indisputable: the chronic mood of looking longingly at what we have not, or thankfully at what we have, realizes two very different types of character. And we certainly can encourage the one or the other." (I vote for the second, though it isn't easy.)

And, Alexander Maclaren, who lived a long life during the 1800s, wrote a pithy statement: "Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cold Front

Originally uploaded by podso
We had a cold front over the weekend. It was in the mid nineties. I guess it's all relative! The dry, record breaking heat is barely even mentioned anymore. We just endure. But it's hotter again and the poor plants––in spite of our TLC, they just aren't making it. They look as wilted as we feel. We spent a lot of the weekend painting outdoors. Once you stay out and acclimate, it's not that bad. Even warm breezes are cooling on sweaty bodies. It's the in-and-out of air conditioning that makes the heat unbearable. I remember in Africa they used to tell us that hot drinks actually cool you down in the heat.

So on another hot day I cooked up a storm to celebrate number two son's's been a long time since we had beef stroganoff, and I experimented on a new variety of his favorite ice cream cake. During the meal we heard some stories from childhood ... such as the wooden spool story ... that is, a telephone company wooden spool that came rolling down a hill into our family room. Amazing to hear that story from his perspective––that of the then 11-year-old who had a part in the story. (So much of our memory is affected by our outlook on life and total life experiences––a lot comes into play. And our kids remind us of a lot that we've forgotten.)

So we laughed a lot and had a good time, making more memories. We're proud of this tenacious son of ours, who at the age of three, stood bravely and with great curiosity alongside a man slaughtering a cow in an African mosque during Ramadan, and who, at the age of 16, flew off to India on his own to help and to learn from a 70-something seasoned missionary. He is preparing now to run another marathon while he enters his last year of dental school (with a possibility of even further study ... ). We never would have dreamed he'd end up on this career path, but he definitely has a passion for it and does it well. That makes us happy and proud.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back Again

iron sharpens iron
Originally uploaded by podso
Twice this summer we entered back into worlds that used to be ours. Places that are familiar and stir up memories. Life goes on when we're not there (and yes nothing much stays the same), but when we go back, those living there graciously allow us to enter back into daily life. We catch up on the news, join in whatever is going on, shop at the grocery store, and indulge at the local ice cream shop. Our energy is there and it's as if we're a part of the community once again. But then it's time to go. Slowly the everyday connectedness starts to fade. But we always leave a part of ourselves there. And we'll go back again another day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

One Candle Only Please

Originally uploaded by podso

Well here it is, proof of our 111 degrees today. I've lived in hot places like Africa and Florida, and it's never been as hot as it was today. This was the thermometer outside my kitchen window, in mostly shade late this afternoon. This morning it was 103 there in full shade. It's wilting for sure, and zaps my energy. Nonetheless I made a special dinner to celebrate our firstborn's 29 years with us. It was a treat to have our second son home at the table too. I made the birthday boy's favorite: chicken marsala (well, he'd prefer veal, but too costly), browned small potatoes, carrots, those rolls that pullapart easily, and for dessert, Tiramisu, a new favorite of his. (I was surprised. I learned this new love from his girlfriend.) Thankfully I found a simple version and it actually tasted good. We only put one candle on the cake to keep the heat down.

As I watched him laughing as he unwrapped a can of asparagas (I don't cook it, but he loves it so always gets a can on birthdays or Christmas--it's become a joke), my mind grazed over his eventful 29 years and I thought of all the things that worked together to make him the man he is today. His early love of books and animals; art and music and cars ... homeschooling and all the books we read aloud together ... travel on every continent but Asia ... sending him off to Australia on his own to learn a bit of life ... how thankful we are for who our son is on this his special day. We actually lingered at the table, talking. Moments like these get tucked away in a mother's heart. A week from today we do this all over again, for second son. They were born two years and four days apart. What gifts to us!

Now for a cool shower before bed!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hot Crepes

In the heat of summer
Originally uploaded by podso

Everyone is talking about the weather as we are experiencing the hottest week in several years. We will hit 100 or more; 108 humidity index in the shade. And no rain. What I never stop marveling at, during these "dog days" of August, is the beauty that arises out of the scalding earth: the crepe myrtles. It's as if they don't know it's hot and dry. Their vibrant colors in full bloom are total eye candy at this time of year when it takes great effort to keep flowers alive. Just another thing to be thankful for.

Horatia Eden wrote well over 100 years ago about her friend Mrs. Ewing (a good challenge to me): "I never knew her to fail to find happiness wherever she was placed, and good in whomever she came across. Whatever her circumstances might be, they always yielded to her causes for thankfulness, and work to be done with a ready and hopeful heart." --from the devotional Joy and Strength

Worth a Thousand ...

Originally uploaded by podso

Pictures, that is, are worth a thousand words. This is one of my all-time favorites because there is so much to see in it. My sister took it in Italy, showing her artistic talent in yet another form (photography.) I love the sense of peace that I feel when looking at this. (Also love the color of the car.) Seeing clothes drying on a line always gives me a contented feeling. I think that it is afternoon. Errands are done, the laundry is drying, the stew is slowly simmering, and ... through the open door a soft breeze is blowing ... don't you feel a nap coming on? Maybe that's why all seems peacefully quiet right now. My guess is the cooker of meals is quite in shape from climbing those stairs with her daily groceries. And when children play, their voices ring in an echo throughout the courtyard, don't you think?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Multi-purposed Bench

bench in Italy
Originally uploaded by podso
A lot of color ... taken by my sister on a trip to Italy.


Originally uploaded by podso
"Deep are these roots, inescapable, restorative. I thought about how life had gone on, generation after generation. Perhaps the past is really never gone, but always a part of the present. Lingering there in the quietness, I gather up the people, the places, the little fragments of another time." [Helen Thames Raley] (Pictured: My paternal grandfather, great-uncle, great-aunt and their school chums.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

'Tis the Season ...

You say tomato ...
Originally uploaded by podso abundance. Time to make some salsa.

Bits and Pieces

the remains of the day
Originally uploaded by podso
In the space of two weeks, we've had dramatic changes to our quiet street. Older folks moved out and in came three new families. One has three kids; another a baby; and the third has two boys who now play vigorously with formerly lonely boy next door. Two stay-at-home moms (maybe a little of the older woman coming alongside the younger stuff will happen)! It's amazing the energy that is now in our cul de sac! We are thankful for good neighbors and new lives to intertwine with ours.

Number two son is temporarily living here at home while doing an internship in our fair city. (Unfortunately for all of us, his wife remains home most of the time for her nursing job.) But it is a bit of slipping back in time to have both boys sleeping under our roof again (number one bunks here right now anyway.) Of course they are grown men and responsible for their own dailies, but it is nice to have conversations, and to hear "Mom" or "Pop" called out occasionally!

Lastly, last weekend our family celebrated my "aging to yet another marker" at a local Italian eatery. The best thing about the whole meal was the waiter. He was gray-haired, bearded, and without a doubt, saw his job as an art. It was amazing to watch him work ... flawlessly. I've never encountered such an experience, at least where I dine out. And of course, the "icing on the cake" was the fact that he overheard a mention of birthday. Out came a deliciously, sinfully chocolate cake to share around. Mmmmmm ... And the next morning, the actual marker day, dear friends picked me up and we went to a favorite non-chain coffee and tea house where we experienced a couple of hours of serenity, talk, and good coffee and scones. The little friends who came along made it all the more special!

I scoop up all these little bits and pieces that arrive in my life unexpectedly or otherwise, and label them gifts ... uncalled for simple blessings from a heavenly Father that is always, always watching out for me ... and thee.


Originally uploaded by podso

A Road Well Traveled

road traveled
Originally uploaded by podso
I love a quote from "In His Everlasting Arms" by Gail MacDonald: "Someone wisely said that a contented person is one who enjoys the scenery along the detour." Well said and certainly the life attitude I would like to have. I remember a busy time in my life when such detours would stress me. By detours I mean a long gas line, a long wait at the doctor's, or anything else that did not fit into my ideal time plan. I used to remind myself to look at those delays as a gift of time. I either tried to read a book I had along, or to work on my calendar, or to just think and pray. When I stop stressing about what is going on, somehow the wait becomes an unexpected blessing ... and sometimes, the very slightest bit of disappointment when the end of the line arrives!
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