Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Thousand Smiles

We figure between all the digital cameras of grandmas. parents, aunties and uncles, this little baby has had at least 1000 photos taken of her already! (Two weeks old here). 

Friday, June 27, 2008

It Really Happened

They left. The kids across the street, and their parents. We knew from the day they moved in a year ago that this day would come, but we didn't know we'd get so attached. Now when I drive into the quiet--all too quiet--cul de sac, there's a big lump in my throat. We know they are moving on to a wonderful new life. But for us, we're left here to miss them a lot. They've been great neighbors ... every single one of the five of them.  What a gift to us to know  them, even for a year. And now at least we can watch their blog and learn about their new adventures! Have a good life, you guys! Come back and see us!

(Drawing by Jack, of the photo on our swing––note the detail !)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sunrise Sunset

"The daily round of sunrise and sunset, for example, that marks the coming and passing of each day, is no longer a symbol of human hopes, or of God's majesty, but a grind, something we must grit our teeth to endure. Our busy schedules, and even urban architecture, which all too often deprives us of a sense of the sky, has diminished our capacity to marvel with the psalmist in the passage of time as an expression of God's love for us and all creation:

'It was God who made the great lights,
whose love endures forever;
the sun to rule in the day,
whose love endures forever;
the moon and stars in the night,
whose love endures forever.' (Psalm 136:7-9)"

-from The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"  by Kathleen Norris ... our next book club read.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Taste of Thai

I thought I was back in Thailand the other night.  We had Thai food at a local eatery where our chef was actually trained in Thailand. The meal was absolutely delicious, reminding us of a meal we had in Bangkok at an upscale hotel. Exquisite, spice-laden  sauces accompanied the five course meal that he had spent all day preparing. We 
ended with sweet sticky rice with mango. Soothed the pallet. 

The assistant wore Thai garb and several around the table were dressed in yellow, the apparent national color in Thailand (every other person there wears a yellow shirt it seems.) We were thankful to have some Thai currency left to leave a reasonable tip for the chef. He had worked so hard and we hope he knows what a wonderful memory he gave us!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's All Relative

I participated in a yard sale today. It's been a long time since I've done one myself, though I used to have them often. Group sales are the best. They can be a lot of fun as you sit around with your morning coffee, smugly looking over your possessions that surely will bring some cash.

So I took some things over to Lydia Grace's today and stayed to help her tend the store. It was a great success. The somewhat overcast day, the breezes coming through her lovely, shaded carport, the almost endless stream of a great variety of folks coming up her drive to look, made for a good time.  A retired endodontist from Italy bought my lamp--he was one of my favorites. In his broken English (he has been here only 6 months) he told me how much he loves America. He, a well educated man, is studying now at our community college. Maybe he's learning English. Another great memory was a trio--grandma, mom, and daughter. Look alikes, and superb bargainers. What we enjoyed most was how grandma, the greatest shopper of the three, had all her money doled out in coinage, a dollar's worth tightly wrapped in tiny segments of plastic grocery bags.  Plop, plop, plop--and she lands three dollars in little bags on the table to pay for her newly prized possessions.

"So," I asked LG's husband, "Did you make a good profit?"

"Ah," replied a wise man, "It's all relative. For it's the whole package.  Not just the money, but the catharsis ... the cleaning out, the great feeling of seeing your junk head down the driveway. So, yes, it was a satisfactory profit."

There is a drawback to a group effort, though. That is, sometimes I shop from my friends. I could not help bringing home this little chair, which has found it's new home on my porch. Thanks, LG !

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Gifts For My Girl"

For beauty, I would buy a gem for you from the earth's heart 
and a ring that is gold clear through 
and clothes the colors of flowers ...

I would cultivate in you a gentle spirit,
and curiosity,
and wonder in your eyes ...

For your mind, poems and plays,
words on the pages of a thousand books ...

For your spirit, mysteries and praise,
sureties and prayer ...

from Luci Shaw's poem,
a poet whose little daughters and sons I babysat for as a teenager,
sent to me in a wonderful card by Boniface. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Morning Has Broken

It's hot here. Summers always are. We try to save money and fuel by not cooling the house too much. We rely on fans. But in the morning, when you come away from a fan, the house can feel so warm and stuffy. That's when the outside feels much cooler, so we open up, letting the fresh, dew-dipped air fill the house. It's so refreshing. There's just nothing like mornings, especially early morning when the birds are waking up, and everything feels invigorating and new.

There's lots of hope in each morning as well––hope for what we expect the new day to hold and what we don't know that it might hold. I love mornings. They are like a new celebration every day. The old traditional Gaelic song says (verse three):

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation; praise every morning,
God's recreation of the new day!

P.S.  Going to work on that grandmother business tomorrow!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

no words ...

are necessary here! Grandmothering has been highly recommended to me, and I'm taking it on!

Photo: clc

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Old and the New: Happy Father's Day

This is a special father's day as youngest is now a father. His sweet little baby girl made her debut two days ago, just in time to wish her daddy a happy Father's Day. I always, of course, think of my own dear father, now in heaven, on this day of honoring our dads. He's pictured here with his firstborn daughter. I've always thought of him as the best dad a girl could have. And the other photo (I'm sure you can tell which is which) is my father's namesake, youngest son, with his firstborn daughter.

I must also honor "the Gardener,"  father of our two boys. I can't begin to describe all the wonderful ways he has fathered our sons--playing with them, reading to them, teaching them, listening to them, exploring with them, sacrificing for them, taking risks with them and for them, giving them the gift of time ... how much he means to all of us. Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's in How You Take a Look ...

We could say our neighbors don't cut their grass. Or, we could say we live near a lovely meadow. Just like looking down into a pail of water. Half full, or half empty. It's all in how you look at things.  It can make a wonderful difference, can't it?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


What a fun evening I had with the neighbor kiddos...good practice for this grandma-to-be. I can still read for an hour at a time, and get down on the floor to build with blocks.
A hammock ride was the goal, but the mossies ran us off quickly. Bummer. Before we went inside, though, we happened to get a little wet with the hose. 
A baby resting his head on your shoulder as he falls asleep ... is there anything quite so nice? By the way, youngest son's and wife's baby has yet to make her appearance. I guess when she's good and ready we'll meet her!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pictures Come Alive

A hot, sultry Sunday afternoon––far hotter than it should be this early in June. I was hanging out at my mom's and decided to sift through her small collection of videos. Only two were actually purchased movies. The others were family recordings of weddings, anniversaries, along with a couple of church promos that I tossed. I found one with my grandfather's home movies on it, compiled some years back by my uncle. I guess our grandfather had one of the early home movie cameras, and took quite a few movies. I had forgotten about it.

Mom and I sat spellbound for 90 minutes. I was not alive when these movies were made, but they brought to life photos that I've grown up looking at and hearing about. My grandfather and his brothers playing their harmonicas--now I saw how they joked together as they played, and the picnic table laid out nearby. The very familiar family photo with the navy son (the uncle that put the films together for us) who had been fooling around pushing his navy hat back on his head before the photo was taken. Little kids were running everywhere and were scooped up and arranged. After the photo was taken, my grandmother gathered up an armful of hydrangeas (she always loved flowers, but hydrangeas have always reminded me of her the most.) And then the baby photo with my parents and their first born. How cute to see the expressions my sister made, and how my parents played with her. And, since the movies were in color, I found out that she is all in pink from head to toe, including blankets! It all was a bit surreal, like I was peeking in on something, seeing how things really were beyond the staid photos.

I saw sweethearts (my mom and dad) whisper to each other and laugh. What were they saying? I saw someone  tease my mom and she cover her face with her hands in shyness. Unfortunately these were silent movies. But my uncle had put music in the background. That always makes it a lot more emotional for me.  I swallowed back tears as I looked over at my mom, sitting there engrossed in her past, seeing her beloved as a young man, and many loved friends and family members. She turned to me and said, "They've all gone to heaven, every one of them." (Well we did see one friend who still lives at 91).  What must that be like for her?

We're extremely thankful for the younger generations, three new great-grandbabies being born this year, and new home movies for the new memories.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Nappy Time

I went to a double friend's house the other day ("double" meaning I am friends with both the mother and the daughter of the house.) The daughter was visiting from her home out west. I was anxious to meet her baby, now five months old. I also was hoping for a diaper demo as we had emailed back and forth before the baby came as to the pros and cons of cloth diapers, and this new mom and her friends are really into them! I knew it was far more than the cloth diapers (called "nappies" across the pond) we used to use ... in fact, what they do could easily be called a "diapering system." 

I was intrigued as Katrina showed how the varied diapering systems worked.  She rattled off brand names that were so cutely bottom-oriented that you had to smile. The diapering was quite a process, but certainly no leaking could possibly come through! I especially liked the different colors. (At the shower, the mother-to- be received muslin-looking cloth diapers that we labeled "whole wheat.")

Everything comes back around, doesn't it? Gradually we're seeing a lot more of cloth diapers, (and not all by just "greenies"), glass baby bottles, home-made baby food, and moms choosing to stay home when possible.
But it's rather nice to be finished with those days, and to just sit back and watch (and pray for these young moms and their wee ones). 

The well-diapered baby being worn by his mom in an incredible wrap that also begged a demo.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Cradle Full

A very old friend––not in her age, but in the years we've known each other (and mostly by correspondence, since those many years ago when we sang next to each other in a church choir––she a newlywed and now with a son in college)––wrote and said that she was so captivated by all our I Captured the Castle chatter that she went and ordered a used copy online. She told me about how this little book might jump ahead of this cradle full of her current books-waiting-to-be-read. 

Debven says, though, that she wishes the cradle was filled with another baby.  The books can go anywhere.

Photo credit: either Debven or one of her nine children.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

We Captured the Castle!

1. This mother of eight who loves to read has a favorite books list on her blog.

2. A young homeschooling mom of three read her list and started to read one of the books.

3. Yours Truly needed a book that "captured" her attention, noticed the book recommendation, found it in the library, started reading and couldn't put it down.

4. Friends noticed the book "nod" on the blog. At a Bible study the book was brought up. Boniface, an avid reader, and mother of four tall boys and a delightful daughter,  had of course read it.  And she had given a copy lovingly found at a used book store, to Barbarina on her last birthday.  Barbarina, having saved the reading of it for a time, immediately began to read the book. Lydia Grace heard about it, as did Robin, and both began to read. Robin's mom picked the book up at her house and read it in a couple of days. Another friend took loan of the book to read it.

5. Several got the movie out of the library to watch, but declared it a bit of a let-down (with some unnecessary embellishments) after reading the book. (Isn't that always how it is?)

6. Sooooo ... we decided an impromptu book club meeting was in order and that's just what we did. Six of us met at a coffee house--not at all resembling a castle--but Barbarina gifted each of us with a mug with a beautiful castle adorning it. Each person brought interesting insights from reading this unusual book, and favorite quotes jumped from the pages of our notebooks.  

Amazing ripple effect of one person posting a favorite book list on her blog. We counted at least eight having read it, and most of us want to read it again! Thanks Melissa! Wish you could have been with us!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Old Men and Roses

Spouse, now A.K.A. "The Gardener," walked into a lunchroom filled with women a few days ago and declared, "A room full of roses!" They squealed in delight. Women generally love my genuinely nice, soft-spoken giant of a husband. The comment may have come because he has roses on his mind. He has finally "come into his own" with roses this year. 

When we moved to this house now nine years ago, he inherited a pretty lame rosebush. He learned how to prune, feed, and then even transplanted the bush. Possibly inspired by newer, younger bushes in our garden, this old guy decided to come to life in a big way this year. Its roses right now are spectacular. Here are four photos of the same three roses taken this evening, transformed in photo shop to four different shades. I like the pale rose the best.

Good friends of ours moved this past summer into a house surrounded by glorious rose bushes. (You can see some of theirs in the sidebar of this blog.) They bought the house from retired folks who had lots of time to tend their garden. Frederico took a crash course on rose management, and now he too is working wonders with his roses. What is funny is to hear Frederico and The Gardener (what Spouse thinks he might like to be called on this blog--but maybe just for the summer months) discuss their roses. They suddenly catch themselves at what they are doing and say, "We sound like two old men!" Well, all I can say is they are closer to that stage of life than they were 24 years ago when their friendship began!

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