Friday, August 29, 2008

heaps of love ...

Clazina, known as Nita, was the oldest of two daughters in a line-up of eight children born to Dutch immigrants--which, if you can do simple math, means there were six brothers. I should say, eight kids that lived into adulthood. Her little sister came way at the end of the lineup--what some families call the "caboose."  My great-aunt Nita was a favorite of mine. She was a strong woman, and she never married. Aunt Nita was the executive assistant (as we would call it today) for her lawyer brother, and had the time to involve herself in many peoples' lives––including her nieces and nephews and their children––as well as to work in the family mission and, as the family matriarch, kept track of everyone in the large extended family.

I remember visiting my aunt when she lived with my great grandmother, taking care of her mother in her later years. But I remember her most when we would visit her in her one room abode tucked inside a big Dutch retirement home. I can still hear her resonant voice. And remember her long hair (that reached below her waist) which she wore in a bun. When she eventually, in her upper nineties, moved to the care center, they cut off her hair. She was disgruntled. In fact, the last visit I had with her she complained about it. When we would take our little boys to visit, she always had a some candy stashed away for them to eat. Her desk was piled high with letters ... and she answered every one. One time she showed me the little record book she kept of the letters she wrote. Well over 1000 a year.  We'd feel very special to see our photo on her mirror. (I think the missionary great-nieces were the ones to make the mirror post.)
But most of all I remember Aunt Nita's notes to me. After I got married, each year she would send us an anniversary card, with a note always included. She signed it as she had all the letters she wrote me in my childhood, "Heaps of love and daily prayers ..."  I did not take lightly her words, and indeed knew that she meant what she said.  Her prayers were a true gift to us, something we counted on in life.

When she went to Glory a few years ago, at age 103, I felt we had lost something more than just my Aunt Nita. But, I am left with a legacy, a memory, and a model.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It seems like yesterday. Thirty-seven years ago (tomorrow) we were married on the edge of Hurricane Doro. Things dried out enough to let all our guests get there, but a bridesmaid missed the rehearsal because of it. My mother told me tonight that she thinks it was so funny that we got dressed at our house (the parsonage) and then my bridesmaids and I marched in our wedding finery across the busy street to the church. I had forgotten that bit of drama.

It's been an eventful 37 years ... challenges we never dreamed of have met us along the way. But they've turned into precious memories of leaning on God and seeing His power! 

Best friends forever, we are.

note: A rare beardless photo of the gardener; probably the last time I saw his chin.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How Dreams Begin

Mowing the lawn is a lot like washing dishes. Kind of a mindless task that allows a brain like mine to get plenty busy thinking about all kinds of things. 
I used to day dream a lot in school. Back then no one knew about that little three-lettered brain syndrome that begins with "A" and ends with "D." I had it for sure (and still do.)  And I still day dream, especially when doing simple household chores. It's refreshing. Usually my brain is overactively trying to comprehend the newest change in my nursing job, or figuring out just how to rewrite an article for my editing job, or attempting to keep straight the refilling of my mother's long list of medications. So I think it deserves "down time."

The other day when I was tossing the grass clippings way at the back of our property where there is a mini-forest, I looked around and realized how much room there really was there. (Since we live on a cul de sac, most of our lot is in back of the house.) My mind went to cutting down some trees to clear the area ... why, another little house would fit just fine there. What about building a little guest cottage? I've always wanted to run a bed and breakfast. My mind began to plan what the place would look like--and almost got to decorating it. Curtains or blinds? Kind of fun. A little "cottage in the woods."

Well that's as far as that dream is going, but what a good mental vacation it was. I mentioned it to the Gardener who looked at me like I was daft and said something about property easements. But still as I look out across the yard I can see a vision of a little place with shutters and window boxes filled with flowers. "Breakfast at eight?"

not my photo

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Sea of Blueberries

Boniface brought us blueberries. What richness! This time I froze most of them to use later in our blueberry pancakes. They bounced around on the cookie sheet like little china balls. And as I carefully scooped the frozen berries into the freezer bag I was amazed at the thought that Boniface handpicked each and every berry.  We are blessed. Thanks, good friend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Light in the Window

We still miss the kids across the street who moved last month. But it's great to get emails from my friend, their mom, and to continue hearing about their adventures as well as seeing them on their blog. The other day their mom wrote:

"Jack found a Henry Huggins book yesterday...he started reading it in bed at 8:00.... When I went to check on the kids at 10:15 he was still reading, legs propped up, all kicked back. He just grinned. I told him he needed to get to sleep and he said he really needed to find out what happened next. He read all but one chapter of that book! He said, 'Well, mom, I guess you didn't expect to find me still awake, huh?' If we still lived in the cul-de-sac  you would have seen a little light still on in his bedroom window!"

I think Jack is just starting first grade (homeschool).

Photo: Jack's bedroom window on moving day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"Brown never comes after 6 p.m. unless it's Christmas."

"He'll will be here in 10 minutes," eldest son insisted.

"And how do you know that?"

"I tracked it and he's on his way."

Sure enough, ten minutes later the brown truck pulled up and the long-awaited package was delivered.

In my mind, that's just a little too much information. Whatever happened to feeling some suspense about when a package might arrive? Now we can narrow it down to a ten-minute time span? No wonder I feel a bit confused and overwhelmed these days. Information overload.

I enjoy my friends who I see regularly here in town. But I have many more around the world, literally, that I keep in touch with--with far greater frequency than the days before email contact.  And then (skipping My Space for me) along came Facebook. Reconnecting with cousins and old friends, looking at their photos--it can almost be ... too much information.

Don't get me wrong--I love keeping in touch, and I'm known to be better at it than many. It's interesting to ponder, though. Facebook is superficial--like skimming over the water's surface. You learn and see only what people want you to (and, I might add, the "younger" generation exposes way more than the older), so that it can be--well, not really real life.

It's still something I'm figuring out--these new ways of keeping in touch. How long will we keep up such a pace of being connected? Will we ever go back to not wanting to know? Could "ignorance [really be] bliss?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just In

These birds flew in from the south for my birthday. Opening them was very suspenseful. My brother-in-law had packed them so well for my sister that I about (or actually did) broke into a sweat getting the parcel undone. Once inside, peeking out of extensive bubble wrap, were two blue and white print fabric sacks, each tied with a blue bow. And inside the sacks? These two guys.

My sister said they called out to her, saying they were needed on my porch. She pondered for a long time how to wrap them for a birthday gift, and then came up with the adorable sacks. I just love my birds, and even more, the idea that she knew me well enough to know I would like them.

I don't like to call attention to myself, and usually wish my birthday would slip by unnoticed. But this year some dear friends and family gave me sweet gifts that let me know that they really know me.  For one, my kids gave me some sleek, celery-green mixing bowls that spice up the kitchen and are such fun to use. Someone else gave me my first Will*w Tree Angel (angel of the kitchen!)

This caused me to consider my gift giving. Sometimes it's just to get it checked off my "to-do list," but how much more it means, both to me and to the recipient, to put thought into a gift and to be intentional about it. If you really know the person, you will know what to give, and you will get more pleasure from the giving.

I know God is involved in all aspects of life...even my gift giving and wrapping. It's such fun for me to run up to my little office where I store all kinds of things, including wrapping paper and ribbons (I'm a big recycler in this department)--never knowing for sure what I'll find. Somehow there's always just the right piece of wrap (usually second or third time around) and a piece of ribbon to polish the package, along with something for a card. This has become something I look forward to––seeing just what God will put together. In all His wisdom God said that it is better to give than to receive, and that is such a truth. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

hysterical but controlled ...

... so did the Gardener say about me this morning. A compliment of sorts. Our microwave had died two weeks ago, and in this day and age it's usually more costly to repair them than to replace them. It had run its lifespan, so we got a new one. It finally was delivered and installed yesterday. I wasn't home, but the Gardener assured me it had been tested. So, I plop some meat in to defrost. "What's that banging noise?" I call out to him. 

"What banging noise?"  Turns out nothing heated evenly, and the glass plate in it seemed uneven and got too hot. Things were not right. I was a bit upset. So later that evening we decide to call the company. They will call to set up a date to send a repairman out.

Suddenly I think, "What's wrong with that picture?" A repairman? I ask for the phone. I call the salesman and give him my spiel. "It doesn't sound right to me that I pay for a brand new machine, but get a repaired one."
He agreed that it made sense and he told me who to call in the morning. This morning in my phone conversation I suggested politely but strongly that the repairman bring a new machine on his truck when he comes. A few minutes later the phone rings, "We are bringing you a new microwave in the next half hour."  Yes!

When all was said and done, the Gardener, a.k.a. kind and gentle Spouse, said, "Well done my dear. It just needed a woman to take care of this ... hysterical, but controlled."

Note: the young installer asked both the Gardener and I how are days were going and answered for both of us before we could, "Well I guess I know the answer to that ... not well, huh?"  I thought to myself, if he thinks a bummer microwave is going to give us a bad day, he hasn't been around too long. Perspective ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Knowing Its Own Mind

This may be one of my favorite posts of all times ... just because I love the colors on this house. Not that I'd have them on my own house, but I love that someone enjoys color enough to bravely do this. Here we go:

"Muddy colored walls are nothing but a blight. So are undecided colors that compromise ... [such as] blues that are neither sea, sky, nor good old cornflower. There should never be a doubt what your color has to say .... It may be chalk blue, watermelon pink, lemon yellow, grass green, chocolate brown, cafe au lait, warm gray––anything on earth you like, just as long as it knows its own mind."

So wrote Dorothy Draper (1889-1969)  in 1939, in her book Decorating is Fun! How to Be Your Own Decorator.

Hmm... what are the colors in my house saying?

Monday, August 11, 2008

oh the weather outside ...

There should be some comment made about the glorious weather we are having here. Everyone has noticed ... and rejoiced. It's as if we've been transplanted up to some northern state where they have bearable summers! Opening the house today, and feeling the cool dry air flow in ... ah, there's nothing like it! What a gift!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

not my corner grocery

I've know I've posted about Walm*rt before, and I don't mean to rant, but sometimes I just need to comment. I rushed over to this store at the "witching hour" of 5 p.m.––on a Friday no less. The traffic just to get near the store was atrocious.  I felt like I was self-inflicting some pain as I went forth to conquer the parking lot. Who possibly could have designed one where you had to enter one lane, literally going opposite the traffic and painted arrow, and then  swivel around to get to another lane going the right direction? As I attempted to twist and turn to find a parking spot in the treeless, sunbaked tarmac, I felt like I was in a two-thirds world country. Monday mornings the place is spotless, but on a Friday afternoon I stepped over squished soda cans, sputem, plastic bags flapping in the breeze, and passed by people of every ethnicity, size, and shape, as I made my way to the door. Upon entering I began some serious walking exercise to get the milk I need from the rear of the store.

Oh yes, and my shopping list was on the kitchen table back at home.

I think I must have prepared myself for the worse, for it wasn't all that bad. I rehearsed what I could remember from my list, and headed up and down the aisles. There wasn't even a line at the check out (which is the advantage of shopping at a busy time that time of day––all the cashiers are actually working at their check-out stations.)

Sailed on home. The shopping list was not waiting for me on the table, but I found it later somewhere else. And I hadn't forgotten a thing on it. Exhausting, isn't it? And not quite like the Wednesday once-a-week shopping my mother did at the corner grocery store!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

birthday bliss

I had a quiet birthday.  Fitting that it be a bit sober on this birthday before a new decade. The Gardener asked me the day before what I would like to do for my birthday. I told him the truth. "Nothing."  My dream of a day. We were in the mountains for a week, in a wonderful cabin friends excitedly asked us if we wouldn't want to use it for a week. ("Of course.") It was tucked far away in a national forest in Western North Carolina ... near a beautiful lake.

So I got my wish. This is what I did. I slept in (well 'til 8 a.m.) and woke up slowly (isn't that a luxury).... Had a leisurely breakfast on the wonderful porch. Went for a walk in the woods, up the hill to beautiful views of the lake and mountains. And I read, read, and read on the porch ... and even took a nap (that wonderful kind where you are so relaxed you nod off while reading and wake up 30 minutes later). I got two phone calls (cell phones don't work there, but they do have a land line): youngest wishing me a happy birthday, and another call with some special news that could not wait for our return.  I already forget what dvd we watched that night, but it was my choice. And the meals were not memorable in what they were, but memorable because they were eaten at the porch table. A quiet day ... just what the birthday girl ordered.  A  little corner of bliss!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Sowing Begins

"Thank the Lord, the rains have finally come. It is very late in the year to begin sowing but people have no choice. At first the rain was hit and miss in places but almost every one has been able to begin now. For many the difficulty will be in getting bullocks to plow. There are so few available and people line up to give their name and ask for help from those who have them. Now is when there is a lot of hard work to do and little food to give the energy and strength to do it. With the rain come more mosquitoes and the chance for a malaria attack."

A letter from a friend in northern Ghana reminds me of how easy life is for us here, and how difficult it is for much of the rest of the world. In the north of Ghana, simply put, they totally depend on the rains for their gardens and farms, and therefore their subsistence. It truly puts the relative ease of my life in perspective.

unknown photographer

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