Friday, October 31, 2008


It has come to my attention that I am addicted to my camera. I've always loved taking photos and looking at pictures (you know, a "picture is worth a thousand words," etc.), but now with a digital camera, there is a whole new world of freedom and the ability to work on my photography skills, amateur-ish as they are.

The Gardener and I have been on a study retreat at the chilly beach the past few days, and I forgot to bring my camera. In a sense, it is a relief, as I tend to take too many photos (why not, I can always toss them I say) and sometimes I think I miss some of life by trying to "capture" it. 

But I realize here, more than ever, that I do look at life as art, in a sense. I view things with a frame around them, and think of what a good picture that would make, and all could be done to alter or improve what is inside the frame in my photo-shop computer program.  Also, as a blogger, I confess that I sometimes look at things happening as "bloggable." The Gardener loves to say, "Oh no! I feel a blog coming!"

I guess there could be worse addictions. At least this costs nothing, helps to record history, and brings me and a few others some enjoyment. 

I thought it would be better if I left this post without a photo, but that has become hard to do. Since I have no image of here at the beach, I decided to post what we will be coming home to later today. Color!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Distribution Central

Clothes and more clothes! Shoes, toys, an occasional book ... can it be Christmas? It seems so. When seasons change, my dining room becomes a distribution center for a few days.

I have a dear friend who generously gives her kids' clothes (and some of  her own) away as the prepares for a new season. She gives them to me to organize and distribute. Some go to my nieces, and some go to other kids I know. I wear some of the clothes, and others go to other friends, to a mission resale shop, or a local charity shop. I love that she gives me the privilege of sorting through and figuring out just who to bless with these garments ... most of them only gently worn and of wonderful quality. It gives me the thrill (yes, thrill) of giving, even though it's her things.

Cristiana and I worked together for many years at the hospital. Even though she is more than a decade younger than me, we have always hit it off well and share a lot of the same ideas and beliefs. She is beautiful inside and out, and not only are her looks striking with her long, dark, curly hair, but her generosity is striking as well. She has the gift of giving.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

mum's the word

Do you think these were fed with steroids? I did a double take the other night arriving home from work when I saw this magnificent mum plant simply glimmering in my back yard! Someone came by while I was gone and placed it in our yard. (How did it fit into your car, friend?) You know who you are, and a big thank you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bath Time: Then and Now

Grandmother and grandson, 1980; Grandmother and granddaughter, 2008. Wow, look at the arms: same sagging sun damaged skin! Some baby resemblance too!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

in use

Here you go, momvdh! (can you guess from this photo what song I sang to her?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Direct Re-ply

God doesn't always answer our prayers right away, or even the way we'd like. Sometimes He has a far better idea for us. But the other day ....  
I learned Little One is coming for the weekend. I usually borrow a friend's "pac n play" (what we used to call "portacribs") when a little one needing a crib visits our house. But now Little One with capital letters is visiting. I began to think about how nice it would be to have our own crib available for her visits. I checked  on Craig's list and a few other places. Our finances would not allow a new one, and nothing else either looked good or was affordable.

So on this particular morning, I decided to ask God if He'd help me find one we could afford. I put it out of my mind as, an hour later, I met a friend taking me out for lunch.  As we walked towards the eating place, I noticed a child's consignment shop right next door. "How long has this store been here?" I queried. 

"Oh at least five years," was the answer. I hadn't noticed it before, even though I'd been in neighboring stores many times! (Oh dear, that's a little embarrassing--guess I didn't have the eye for it before Little One arrived).  

My friend suggested we go have a look. Well, right inside the door ... can you guess?  A gently used pac n play in wonderful condition––at an affordable price!  Right inside the door, I repeat.  

And was this cake iced? Yes!  The color is ... pink! What an answer, a provision, a love poured forth.

It's been disinfected, scrubbed, aired, and now awaits its little occupant! Sweet dreams, Little One!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

now (left) and then (right)

Just about 27 years, new contraptions,  and several thousand miles apart. Son with daughter; and mother with son.  Three generations.

Photo on left by ebc

(Wow ... this is my 400th post. Where did I come with all that to say?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The weather outside is changing

What a refreshingly cool morning! Summer is finished, we hope. There are some color changes finally starting on our leaves, and its time to go get the cold weather clothes out of hiding. Not my favorite chore, but I will try to address it with some sort of thankfulness. Just the fact that I have clothes to switch out is something to be grateful for. 

It's amazing how a little chill to the air can put a "spring in your step!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Kayla!

Kayla is five today.  I was at her party last year, but would have loved to have been at her tea party this year...all girly and pink.  Seeing it on her blog will have to do. But this Tuesday I'll go to a different tea party--to celebrate the coming arrival of a baby girl...and I think I'll wear pink!

My Old Friend

Quite a few years ago, a family of boys moved away from the house nearly next door to us, and a new family of boys moved in. From then on our kids and the new kids were close--doing those things boys love to do as they grow up--bikes, hikes, playing with trucks, building forts, etc. Since the new neighbors were from Asia, our family was enriched by their friendship and opportunities to learn about and participate in some of their cultural events---especially weddings! When Youngest was able to spend time in India at the age of 16, he was just a bit familiar with the culture.  

Eventually our boys grew up and each of us moved to different neighborhoods, but B and I continued to keep in touch.  B was called back to India for various reasons and for an extended time in the past couple of years, so we lost touch. Whenever I passed her neighborhood, I would think of her and wonder what was up. 

Thankfully we connected again and got together last week. When I walked into her wonderful house, I breathed deeply of her culture, the aroma from her stove, and the richness of her hospitality. There is nothing quite like sitting at B's table and eating her food. What a wonderful time we had catching up on our children and our own lives.  We parted, but not for long. She will return to her country soon, but hopefully be back again before too much time has passed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Soup Serenade

It's always good to find a special reason to get together with friends. This time it was Robin's birthday (a.k.a. "Jean") and also the "debut" of her new (and first) grandson. What a cuddly, adorable little package this young man is. We 
decided to gift Robin with things to help her with grandmothering--from tiny washcloths for tiny fingers, to books begging to be read, Peter Rabbit china, and teething or squeaky toys--as well as tea for "decompressing" after the "grands" go home or go to bed. (smile).

Our menu included a soup serenade. Three different soups, three different bowls, one after the other. Delicious flavors and aromas to entice the palate. Followed by a spectacular salad, breads, and for dessert, finger-licking cupcakes. 

Some of us go back years in our friendships. We may not see each other frequently but make keeping in touch a priority, even if only by email (or, if you can believe it, 
"Facebook.")  But keep in touch we do, it's important to all of us. And we all love a festive occasion now and then, to ice the cake, so to speak.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Everybody Shines

Sometimes it pays to do this blogging stuff.  Not long ago I wrote about my quest for yeast in bulk. Lydia Grace, a local and frequent reader of this blog, found some at a large warehouse the other day. I happened to be at another very large store related to the warehouse.  My door-bell chime cell phone rang and rang as I furiously dug into the recesses of my purse to find it. It was Lydia Grace asking if I wanted her to buy yeast for me. 

Our connection was bad and we both moved about our separate stores for a good patch. I noticed a man looking twice at me. I'm sure it wasn't my looks he was eyeballing, but rather my rather loud voice as LG and I tried to communicate. Oh my! I was doing just what I complain about other people doing. Did I think I was in my own kitchen or something? How embarrassing. I took my cart and headed down an aisle of stuffy winter jackets, hoping my conversation would be muffled.

And now I have a good stock of yeast in the freezer. Let the baking begin, and thank you, Lydia Grace! I love that you read my blog and act!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

true confessions

The Gardener and I are "political junkies" I guess you could say. It's sort of embarrassing to say a good political debate is like a "super bowl" for us. The Gardener has always been this way, and over time, I have come alongside his interests, making them my own as well. It now is something we enjoy together, if you could use that particular word at this particular time in this particular political season.

Our big splurge is cable in order to have some fair and balanced news sources. It's also an important asset for the Gardener's life-long calling to think, analyze, write, and advise. 

There was a time that I did not understand or care much about politics. That began to change when the pro-life movement came to life. A point in time I remember well was  when the boys and I helped a judge get re-elected. The great controversy in his courtroom was the fact that he opened his court sessions in prayer, and found the court ran much better because of that.  What a stew pot that all was, and a good time of learning for our kids. Then when Bush Sr. was running for a second term, both vice-presidential candidates came to our fair city. As part of our home school studies, I took our boys to see both men. (Youngest even shook the hand of then Vice-President Quayle.)  Then we studied the media reports, clipping news articles from local papers, and watching reports on television. We made a notebook, and even noticed the difference in photos of each man. There was a decided bias, even back then.

I appreciated something I heard a commentator say the other day. No matter what the results of this election, life will go on. We will still get out of bed each day to work, to love our families, and to serve and love others, helping this country continue to be the great country that it is.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The End

Historic places were high on the list of my childhood "adventures." Our family vacations consisted of driving across four states to spend one week at one grandparents' house, and a second week at the other. My father always made sure there were visits to places of history, and through that we learned about our past, and developed our love of and appreciation for history. 

So it was enjoyable to visit another place this past weekend, though it made us miss my father and all the insight he would have shared.  We were at Appomattox, where Lee surrendered to Grant just 143 years ago. Looking across the magnificent rolling hills, I could imagine tired troops hunkered down as the their leaders deliberated the surrender and the end of a grueling war.

And it was one of those beautiful fall days. Family was with us. What more could one ask for? Nourishing for the soul.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

We were definitely high in the Rocky Mountains last month when we visited friends there prior to The Gardener's business in that area. I don't remember altitude sickness every bothering me quite so much.  We live not all that much above sea level here, so we were really up there at 10,000 feet above sea level. The cool air was really refreshing just at a time when we were reaching our limit with the humidity and heat here in our place of living. 

We started out staying with our friends in Denver where they treated us to an unusual breakfast casserole of rice and sausage and something else--I must get the recipe--and throughout our time there, Jeannie played records for us. 

Her collection is amazing and it was just so much fun to see her put them on the turntable and set the needle on ... and the music would start!  Whenever she hears of someone getting rid of their old records, she takes them off their hands

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Pink House

Have you seen all the pink stuff around this month? It's national breast cancer awareness month, of course. By now we all have more than one friend who has received this diagnosis. 1.2 million people (not just women) are diagnosed each year with breast cancer (per W.H.O.) To help with awareness of this month, our first lady lit up her house with pink spotlights. She has been an advocate for breast cancer research for a long time in both private and public sectors. I'd say this was a pretty cool way to close out her days in that big  house. After making a speech as dusk settled over her city, she gave the signal, and the house lit up pink.

I am dedicating this post to the memory of Verdell, my friend who died of breast cancer at age 45  (I have many more who are survivors and doing well). We've come a long way since then, both in treatment and cure. We know  much more now, and there are many new treatments ... it makes me thankful for all the research that is being done. Be sure to get a mammogram, by the way!

--Not my photo of course, though I would have loved being there. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

small world

While visiting friends in Colorado recently, we talked with Youngest Son on the phone. Turns out that on that day (back in the southeast) he had taken care of a patient who had slept in the very same bed, two weeks prior, that we were going to sleep in that night! It all got connected through conversation that started with––well, I actually don't know how the conversation started, but eventually a question came during a break in the dental work, "What does your father do?" which led to connecting the dots of us having the same friends––with whom  he, the dental patient,  two weeks before, and now we, stayed overnight.

A recent Wo*ld magazine article talked about the "Six D*grees of Separation Theory."  Apparently M*crosoft has done a study of instant messaging conversations among 180 million folks ... and found just 6.6 degrees of separation between any two users of its instant message program. So, in essence, any two random people in the survey were separated by a string of just 6.6 acquaintances, on average. The researcher suggests a "social connectivity constant for humanity." (Eric Horv*tz in the W*ashington Post.)

How many times, when a conversation occurs, we find someone who knows someone we know. Some amazing connections (especially, I suppose, the longer one lives.) It makes life interesting, doesn't it, and we say, "It's a small world."

Photo: Estes P*rk and my illustration of six degrees ...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mom's Oatmeal Bread

I had forgotten how good kneading bread is for the mind and for the soul.  You can work out a lot while you knead. I love working with my hands.

Photos: Rising, and ready to be punched down.


Oatmeal Bread
1 cup uncooked oats
2 Cups scalded milk
1 pkg. yeast in 1/2 Cup water with a pinch of sugar
1/2 Cup molasses
2 tsp salt
1 Tb. shortening
4 1/2 or so cups flour 

Pour hot milk over oats and let sit until  cool. Meanwhile begin activating yeast in warm (not too warm) water
with the sugar. When milk/oat mixture has cooled add the yeast/water, molasses, salt, oil, with a cup of flour (I chose to use one cup of whole wheat flour and the rest white, though it makes a heavier bread) and beat well. Continue adding rest of flour and turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth. Return to floured mixing bowl, cover with tea towel and let rise until doubled (or almost). Punch down and place on floured surface, let it rest a few minutes, cut in three and roll out each section. Roll each piece into loaf shape, pinching under the ends and placed in greased and floured bread pan. Cover with tea towel and let rise another hour. Bake in preheated 425 degrees for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 25-30 minutes. Let loaf pans cool and turn out onto cooling rack.  If you desire softer crust, dab butter, margarine or oil on top of resting loaf. Wait til cool before slicing.  Especially good toasted.

 WARNING: May be consumed faster than you intended.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Baby's Smile

What is it, this smile of a small child
That we reach for?
We lean in close, fingers out to tickle
Making dorkie faces we'd never live down
With gurgles and coos belying our stature.

A smile comes, Aha!
(Especially good when the whole body smiles along.)
Mission accomplished.
We can sit back and rest,
Joy floods our hearts ...

Until we reach out and begin again.
Just one more smile please.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

baby fix


I had a couple of wonderful hours with our granddaughter today and we made the most of our time together. We napped, ate, changed diapers, read a slightly boring magazine, played the piano, played toys, and went for a walk. Max was also visiting us today and joined us on our walk. So, you could say, I took both my grand-dog and my grand-daughter for a walk in our gorgeous, cool, fall weather. This little one minute video is posted for friends and family who want to see it, and for others who care to, or just need a baby fix. Warning: smiles and coos ahead!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gas Lines and Bread Lines

Early yesterday morning, on our way to Tuesday, we found gas. All day I felt like I had opened a big, exciting present. Gas is difficult to find right now, and that along with the news about a big bank in town puts a feeling of  "something not quite right" here in our fair city. And then there's the national news.  The concerns about what may happen remind me of the Cuban Missile Crisis days when we felt some fear. I still remember the grave look on my dad's face as he listened to President Kennedy speak on the radio (note: my parents were behind the times by choice, and had no TV in our house until we had left for college).

Maybe we are feeling it more in our city with the gas lines and the bank news, but for whatever reason, I thought maybe I should stock up on flour and start making our own bread again. That's what you always think of when you hear of an economy heading south.  Bread lines of the 30s. Don't think I'm panicking, it's just that homemade bread sounds good anyway. I used to make all our bread, especially in the days living in Africa (where we sometimes had two-day gas lines--taking turns sleeping in the truck).

To lighten this up, I'll tell you about the "phantom" gas lines at W*lmart. I parked the car near the gas station Monday on my way to food shopping, and watched one false line form after another. Cars sped around the station like bees around a flower--looking to see if there was gas. One or two cars would stop by a pump to check and immediately about ten cars formed a line. They would realize their error and disappear and within two minutes another line falsely formed. It was both funny and fascinating to watch, and I sat mesmerized for a few minutes before I headed inside for the long walk to milk and eggs in the far corner of the store.

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