Monday, October 29, 2007

a change in the air

hot tea
Originally uploaded by podso
After last week's rain nourished the earth, today the air is clear and crisp and the skies are as blue as can be. Driving my mother home from a visit to my brother's north of us, the colors were turning on the trees and it was, as they say in the south, a "pretty day." I love these cool autumn days when the heat and humidity are finally gone, and we try to hold off turning on the furnace by wearing sweaters and lap blankets indoors. It's definitely time for some hot tea to warm the hands, if not the rest of me.

Women Thoughts

the airport
Originally uploaded by podso
I was standing by the hospital elevator having a conversation with a grandson of my father's college roommate. As we said good-bye and I walked away, I thought to myself, "What a moment." To think that some 65 years later, old friends' offspring would randomly meet more than a thousand miles from the college connection. That's the sort of thing that gives me kind of a thrill. One of those rare, random encounters. At dinner with my brother and his wife, I related the incident. My sister-in-law piped up, "I know exactly what you mean. I always wonder when I'm in an airport or in a large crowd, if I'm passing someone I know, or someone related to someone I know. Those possible just-misses are fun to think about."

"Oh my, I think about that too in an airport, or some crowded event," I continued, " What if I just passed the niece of our old pastor? Who knows how connected we all really are?" Spouse and my brother looked at each other, totally stymied.

"Must be how women think." Well, at least these two women.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rain Don't Go Away

rain don't go away
Originally uploaded by podso
It's still raining! A wonderfully dreary day again today. Not sick of it yet, it's been so long without. All day yesterday and today it's been steady, soft rain ... just what we need! I can't complain about all the mud and leaves being tracked in by humans and dogs ... we cherish God's blessing! And I'll end this rain conversation!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Than Enough

Originally uploaded by podso
In the West African country where we lived years ago, they are dealing with heavy rains causing great destruction. In a letter I received from a friend there, she said that instead of the usual question we ask: "Why did God allow this to happen?" the local people are asking, "What did we do to God?" Interesting perspective. One way says the problem is God's fault and the other says it's our own fault.

She goes on to say that stories are sad about folks losing almost everything they own. But all the people she speaks with do not question God or what He is doing. Rather they are thankful that no one was hurt when their rooms (houses) fell.

Many agencies are surveying the damage to see what they can do to help, and some help will come, but it will be a long time until the area recovers from a disaster of this size.

No flooding here, but the rains continue ... today might be a slow steady rain. A good soaking is what we need. But let's not forget those far away who have had too much rain, and in CA, too much fire.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Raining!

rainy day
Originally uploaded by podso
Again today, and maybe tomorrow! God pays attention to our prayers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Speaking of Letters ...

Italian stationery
Originally uploaded by podso
I got this letter today and I wish you could appreciate the beauty of the paper with the rough edges and the water marks, both on envelope and stationery! A keeper for sure. By the way, it's raining!

English Tea

English tea
Originally uploaded by podso
It's a dead give away when I wake up in the morning and have no desire for a cup of coffee. Instead, a cup of hot tea does wonders. Such it is today as this virus, whatever it is, continues its march throughout my respiratory system. Today is a dreary, humid day. As I sipped my tea I was taken back to the bridge teashop in Bath that rainy day over a year ago when Spouse and I squeezed into a corner table for a meat pie and cuppa. They don't make much of a fuss about tea in England. In fact, every cup we had in a public place was just as pictured here.

It's amazing how focused we are on the weather right now. It looks so much like it could, but it just doesn't rain. There's a feeling of tired expectancy as everything withers and dies. At least we don't have to mow. There's always a positive side to anything, no matter how mundane it might be.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Praying for Rain

the seed that never grew
Originally uploaded by podso
"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Last night our church called a special service to pray for rain. The drought in our area is truly serious. I still have some summer flowers blooming, but it's sad to see rotting, unfertiliized grass seed (and this was the year we needed to seed a new lawn), and dying shrubs and trees. I'm wondering when our city will put further restrictions on our water use. There are several things we're doing at our house to help. I guess it has to be one person at a time making a difference.

We were reminded last night that God in His loving providence knows our situation here. We trust Him fully.

Meanwhile, I'm remembering from our days without water in Ghana, how many things one can do with just one bucket of water!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

more on letters ...

letter from grandfather
Originally uploaded by podso
This is not my story, but one I read:

"I ran short of money while visiting my brother, and borrowed $50 from him.

"After my return home, I wrote him a short letter every few weeks, enclosing a $5 check in each one. He called me up and told me how much he enjoyed the letters, regardless of the money; I had never written regularly before.

"Eventually I sent off a letter and the last five-dollar check.

"In my mail box the next week I found an envelope from my brother. Inside was another $50."

Red Letter Mail Day

Vermeer girl reading a letter
Originally uploaded by podso
"And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?"
~W.H. Auden

Seems that every day I look forward to the mail. Even in these days of email, there's a slight rise in suspense as I walk to the box. I just don't know what all might be in it when I pull down the lid. Junk mail is a given; some can be recycled on the way back into the house. The credit card offers can be torn in half; the bills piled high; and the endless catalogs can go right to the bathroom. But very occasionally ... out falls a treat ... yes, a REAL, handwritten letter or card.

The first clue is the hand written address. True, it could be an invite, but honed detective skills quickly rule that out. The envelope can be a gift in itself. I have one friend who makes envelopes from magazine pages that picture something I love. Others adorn an envelope with a sticker. And I always know an intentional letter writer when the stamp is above average. Obviously serious about their correspondence, they looked for nice stamps, not just the usual flag stamp.

When I get mail like this, it's a "red letter mail day". I wonder where that expression came from. I may google that later. If I have the time, I'll make a cup of tea before I sit down to open the letter, which I consider a true gift.

And why is it a gift? Because someone cared enough to get out pen, paper, envelope, a stamp, look up my address and actually write some thoughts down on paper. Something for me to think about, delight in, etc. Letters can be saved ... and read again and again. The handwriting might even tell us something ... was the writer feeling happy, writing in leisure, or stressed and dashing off a missive?

The other day I got such a letter from a very old friend. In fact, we didn't know each other all that well as we sat side by side in choir practice so long ago. She was expecting her first child and we connected in many ways. Somehow we kept in touch because we both cared about such a thing. When her kids were old enough to homeschool she asked me advice and I tried to encourage her. Even though it's easy to dash off an email, she took the time to write. And ...she has eight kids! One is off to college (that baby she was expecting) and the rest she teaches at home. I figure if she can find the time to write ...

... So can I. Because I know how nice getting a letter can be, I do my best to write them when I can ... not only to people far away but even to friends who live locally. Because there's just something about getting a letter ...

("Red letter day" comes from the practise of marking the dates of church festivals on calendars in red, way back in the 1500s--i.e., a special day.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Just Me and My Pal

Originally uploaded by podso
This old girl is really Spouse's dog, now that the kids have grown up. She licks his hands, not mine. She snuggles up to his chair, not mine. But when she needs something, she knows to go to her mama, a.k.a. "me."

Right now we are the sole occupants of this house. Spouse is winging his way to Europe and Resident Son is down south on a big project. Even my mom has gone out of town, so I don't need to keep track of her. It's a very unique experience for sure. Deliciously quiet, actually! I can do what I want, when I want, for a few days--other than the required hours at work. But right now, I have no choice, for it's time for us two gals to take a walk. She's passed me up in age by far and her arthritis shows more than mine, but off we'll go into the night air--two old friends. She "reads the news" at every mailbox, and I hope there isn't much news tonight, so I can get to bed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Miracle In Its First Stage

chair at winghaven
Originally uploaded by podso
"Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle. It is miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty, but impossibility." So said Lilias Trotter, a young artist turned missionary to North Africa, when the 1800s were turning to the 1900s. She's a hero of mine. I don't know how to link, but if you paste this in your browser, you can learn more of this delightful and strong woman, and read her thoughts and see some of her beautiful artwork:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gospel Pancakes

Originally uploaded by podso
These pancakes are really oatmeal pancakes, or whole wheat pancakes, and I make them "blueberry pancakes." They are so popular by those who eat them, I have started calling them the "gospel pancakes" as they spread from one person to another; truely good news for pancake lovers in want of a healthy pancake. My aunt gave me the recipe and has made them ahead and frozen them (no more than two deep wrapped well for the freezer) and then warmed in the oven, or the batter can be made the night before. I like adding blueberries I've frozen, or dried blueberries. Or any fruit. They are great left over too! And no, this is not becoming a recipe blog. It's just with the weather finally cooling, there is more energy for cooking, and it's time for soup and hot, steamy cups of tea!

Oatmeal Pancakes
1 1/2 cups regular (or quick) oats
2 C buttermilk (or regular milk with a Tb of lemon)
2 eggs
2 Tb. canola oil
2 Tb. wheat germ
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Optional: blueberries or other fruit pieces

Mix oats and buttermilk together in a large bowl and let stand. Beat eggs and add to mix. Add oil and wheat germ to mix. Sift together flour, soda, sugar, salt, and add to oatmeal mixture. Drop batter onto hot skilet grased with canola or pam.

Make the Soup!

make the soup!
Originally uploaded by podso
Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

3 15 1/2 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C drained canned chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 C. chopped onions
1/2 C minced shallots (didn't use)
4 garlic cloves minced
1 Tb and 2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 stick butter
4 C chicken broth
1 16 ox can pureed pumpkin
1/2 C sherry vinegar (sometimes I just use white wine and a dash of vinegar).

Puree beans and tomatoes in blender. Cook onions, spices, and butter. Stir in bean puree. Stir in broth, pumpkin, and sherry. Season with salt and pepper. When you serve, garnish with a dolop of sour cream (and pumpkin seeds if you'd like!)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Sacrifice Well Pleasing

the white church
Originally uploaded by podso
"If our hearts were tuned to praise, we should see causes unnumbered, which we had never seen before, for thanking God. Thanksgiving is spoken of as a "sacrifice well pleasing unto God." It is a far higher offering than prayer. When we pray we ask for things which we want; or we tell our sorrows. We pray in order to bring down blessings upon ourselves; we praise because our hearts overflow with love to God, and we must speak it out to Him. It flows out of pure love, and then the love goes back to our hearts, and warms them anew, and revives and quickens them."

As I look through my worn volume of "Joy and Strength" I find quite a number of quotes from Priscilla Maurice (she wrote the above), who died at age 44 before the Civil War occurred in our country. I found out she was her preacher-brother's housekeeper, but I could not determine if she ever married. Apparently she was a bit feisty and outspoken, as was her brother (a Unitarian turned Anglican). I got so engrossed in reading about her I began to wonder if she and I would have been friends. She wrote a lot about praise and being thankful ... very practical writing.

She is probably right that our prayers are mostly asking, where our praise is true worship, which God desires, and I like the idea of "hearts tuned to praise" and "praise because our hearts overflow with love to God." Kind of like "delighting in God." Something to chew on this hot, sticky Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rain, Rain, Come This Way

pumpkin in the soup
Originally uploaded by podso
So much for our taste of fall. It's hot and the humidity feels like July. If we could just gather up all that humidity and shoot it to the skies so it could come down as rain. Last night we counted ten rain drops. That was the extent of the predicted possible rain. I just figured out why all the mums are already 50% off--they are all 50% dead.

Today it was black bean/pumpkin soup ... yum. I love days when I have time at home and can make soup. Actually we are expecting out of town guests and I am cooking and freezing stuff. We enjoyed a bowl of soup at lunch, but into the freezer it goes for next week. Very special friends are coming from up north. We all started our families together--I guess we've been friends for 30 years. We share a lot of common history, including sponsoring two Laotian families together years ago. When you work together like that, you get close. Even though we've lived apart much of those 30 years, when we meet we take up as if we've never been apart. That's quite a treasure. We'll have fun.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Welcome October

soup's on
Originally uploaded by podso
I love all seasons, but no Fall has never felt so welcome as it is this year after such a hot and dry summer. Now the mornings are delightfully cool with graciously warm afternoons. It's amazing how much more energy one has when it's not 100 degrees outside.

It's also time for soup--one of my favorite foods. Soup-making gives opportunity for creativity--like painting a picture or decorating a room. Just about anything can go into a soup and come out tasting like a five-star restaurant chef made it. The only problem is, it's hard to remember it exactly the same way for the next time. Today we just had to have soup to celebrate moving into October ... so it was sweet potato/salmon soup with some spinich thrown in for color. Yum!
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