Sunday, November 29, 2009

blissful oblivion

We celebrated our Thanksgiving on Friday rather than Thursday. It's amazing how it still felt like a holiday. No "black Friday" sale hopping for us. We were in blissful oblivion and had a wonderful feast together. (click on photo for larger view.)

When we passed our plates for turkey, we found letters of the alphabet tucked under our plates. As we ate, we took turns telling things we were thankful for that began with those letters.

To enjoy other "Mosaics on Monday," see Little Red House.

Friday, November 27, 2009

for the wee ones

I like to make home made cards but sometimes it takes time for an inspiration to come. When I'm busy, the creative juices flow more slowly. So the card for this sweet baby's first birthday was late. But suddenly the idea came, and here it is (above).

I also notice that Little One loves her little "baby" doll especially when she needs a little comfort. I also noticed that she fingers the little silky tag on the dollie more than anything. So I wondered what she would do with this texturized little nameless thing. I grabbed some muslin and other fabric I had around, and started cutting tags out of some old clothes. I haven't heard what she thinks of it, but I mailed it to her with a pumpkin card. She says "pump" for pumpkin. Such a fun age!

For more show and tells see Cindy's blog, My Romantic Home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

the highest form of thought

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) in A Short History of England

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thankful for the memories

Years ago the Gardener would leave church early every Sunday to go visit a prisoner (the only visiting hours there were.) Around Christmas time one year, the friend in prison gathered together some of his meager prison job earnings and gave us a money gift to buy something special. I bought a unique little Christmas church/tree/carolers scene to use at Christmas, and this little Pilgrim couple. I have said before how I love the way things in our home bring memories, and this is a precious one, as painful as it is.

(By the way, don't Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim look like they are posing here?)The painful experiences, the pleasant times, the laughter--and especially the people in our lives--all together make up our family story. I'm thankful for our rich family history this week. It's what God has planned for us, and it's very good.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just a small thing

They didn't need me at work today so I had unexpected time to get some things done. One was shopping for my mom. When I got all her stuff unloaded, we realized that one of the bottles of liquid pain medicine was leaking; in fact, it had no stopper on it. I was just a bit frustrated as I knew it would mean a trip back to my (not) favorite very large store.

I decided to take it calmly and drove back to a stuffed full parking lot. Oh but wait, there was one parking space right up near the door? Sure enough, it was not a handicapped spot (aren't they usually when you get up to them?). I went in and the guy who stickered my return item was one of the nicest guys who works there (he acts like he's a butler welcoming you into his southern plantation house!), and when I got to the return place, only one person was in line ahead of me! Smooth! And the young woman who returned my item actually apologized for my inconvenience.

I got back to the car and realized this is one moment to be thankful about. It could well have been a coincidence, but I think God is in the small things, giving me a break I did not deserve (that's grace.) As we approach a day set aside especially for giving thanks, I'm trying to be grateful for the little things often unnoticed, all orchestrated by our loving God.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Born Free

        Our dog lived much of her life on a chain, that is, the hours she was outdoors.  A long one, but none the less, a chain. She was content, but occasionally she would break away and go for a run. As we saw her tear away through the woods or down the street we thought of the song "Born Free." And we would say when she safely returned, "Shach had a 'born free.'"
        Very sadly, our dear Meshach, known as the girl dog with a boy name, left us two days ago. She was almost 16 and was sick with kidney disease. Many times she would show symptoms and be sick, but then surprise us and rally again. But this past week it was different. She did not rally. We knew the day was coming when we would need to let her go, and it became obvious the day had come.
        Shach and her master had their last walk together on the way into the vet, where they gave us a room to wait. She always has a fit at the vet but this time she was quiet and subdued. She knew. She stayed close to us, licking her master's hand slowly and looking deeply into my tear filled eyes. They brought a blanket and we gently laid her between our feet as we bent down to stroke her while talking softly to her. And so she went to sleep. 
        We looked at her face, her eyes still open, but now lifeless. A single tear was on her cheek. I kept singing the song in my mind, "Born Free, as free as the wind blow, as free as the grass grows, born free to follow your heart" (the best I can remember the words). And so we picture our dear Meshach, no longer in pain, and running blissfully free. But oh how we miss her. 
        When Little One arrives at our house the first thing she says is "Shach" with great emphasis. What will she think when she comes here for Thanksgiving? But even more sad is the fact that her other grandparents said goodbye to their dog, Daisy, just a week before our dog left us. Little One loved Daisy dearly. I wonder what will go through her mind as she misses both of her beloved "doggies."

Photo by Youngest, CLC.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

chalking it up

I've got this jar of chalkboard paint sitting around from a couple of projects I did, so I wondered how the paint would work on a plate. I read it needed a porous surface. Not sure pottery is porous but I found a cheap plate I had been planning to paint and decided to paint it, but with chalkboard paint rather than my original plan. So far so good.

I put it in the kitchen just to assure those that may wonder if a meal is coming. Sometimes it gets close to dinner hour and the kitchen is still lifeless. Eventually a meal appears in some fashion or another.

I love the cutting board the plate holder is resting on. My dad made it for my mother when they were newly married 66 years ago. I think the rim was painted orange originally. My mom used it most of her cooking years and I took it over about 15 years ago. I love it because it speaks to me ... all the crevices and scratches and the worn look of it. The stories that are hidden in that board. Just think of the conversations that have occurred as women folk (mostly) prepared meals. If this ol' cutting board could talk ... the stories she'd tell.

For more "Show and Tell" type stories. visit Cindy's blog at My Romantic Home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

double eights

Today my dear, beautiful (inside and out) mother celebrates 88 years. I am blessed to still have my mother with me. There is nothing like hearing her voice on the phone when I call her each day, or entering her little apartment when I visit. Even though it is not the home I grew up in, it is filled with the things I grew up with, and as old as I get, and even as our roles have switched in some ways, when I open that door, I have the sense of being "home." It's always a wonderful comfort. Eight years ago my mother was diagnosed with ocular cancer. We are so thankful she is healthy today, and still reads voraciously.

Not long ago I bought her a beautiful pink book. In it she is busy writing the story of her childhood and youth. It's become exciting to take a peek at it and talk about things I never knew about her life. What a treasure we will have for years to come!

Happy Birthday mom! It's Italian tonight, of course.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Was Right

The Gardener is a wise man. He is known for his wisdom. He also is very smart. Much smarter than me. But there is one little thing--one small traffic law that I think he is wrong about. We have little "discussions" about it when he is driving. I insist I am right, and am so perplexed that he thinks he is right. Didn't we grow up in the same part of the country? Driving laws are pretty standard.

So such a (what I call) deviation occurred on the way to vote the other morning. Lo and behold there was a police car parked at the polls. "Why don't we just ask him who is
 right?" I suggested. The Gardener was willing.

But when we went into the polling area, it was silent, everybody busy doing his or her job. The police officer was just sitting passing the time (since when do we need a policeman at the polls?) So I didn't feel like broadcasting to the entire room our altercation.

As we left, another (unmarked) car parked near us and another young officer got out. The Gardener (to my surprise) walked over to him and said, "Officer, I wonder if you would have time to solve a domestic dispute." (Was he that confident that he was right?  Later he told me he was just humoring me.) The young officer looked somewhat taken aback but agreed to help if he could. The Gardener proceded to explain it all.

Turns out I was right. (Yipee!) But to give full disclosure, the officer did say one probably wouldn't be cited for such a small thing. Then the Gardener continued with the young officer, "Now can you give me any advice about how to live with a woman who's 'always right?'"

The officer smiled (though he remained on the serious side) and replied, "Ha, I wish I knew. I've got one of those myself."

It was all in good spirit, adds a new story to our history, and I admit that it was fun to proclaim "I was right." But enough is enough. It's all the better if we can humbly say "I was wrong" a little more often.

Photos: 1. The old (even then) rambler my childhood best friend learned to drive on.
 2. A rare glimpse of the Gardener sans beard; resting during a 60 mile bike hike, yeah, years ago. No traffic violations either. That's me at his side.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

still falling

It's still fall here in the south. It's that time of the year when I look up to check the trees ... how many are still green, which ones have turned color, and if there are any clear of leaves yet--contemplating the coming days.  There's still a lot of work to do! But we are having ourselves some gorgeous weather here ... how nice to have two beautiful weekends bookending four weekdays of torrential rain!

For more beautiful mosaics, visit Little Red House.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Old Trucks and White Slipcovers

The old truck rattled down the road as we headed uptown towards the city. "No power steering," the Gardener declared of the dated pick-up we had borrowed. The wheel was very hard to manage. I came back with, "Didn't you used to drive a school bus?" "Yes, but I think this truck originally had power steering which is now gone. That's a whole different game than just a truck originating with no power steering!" (yes, we are old enough to remember those.)

My lap was so piled high with tarps and old bedspreads and shower curtains that I could barely see the road ahead of us. We were on our way to pick up our new gently-used couch. Someone had taken mighty nice care of the couch I had always dreamed of owning, but never even considered for the cost. Good ol' Craig's list.

Then the thought occurred to me ... here we are at our age still borrowing trucks to pick up old furniture. Has a shiny furniture truck ever stopped with a delivery at our house? I don't think so--the only new furniture we bought was years ago--a couch and chair--which I'm sure we picked up to save delivery charges.

But this is the way I prefer it, really.  I looked over at the Gardener, trying hard to manage the steering, and realized how much fun it's been all these years. There's a thrill in looking and then finding old treasures. Pieces with history who still have enough life in them to make more history in our house. Conversation pieces. Not to mention how much fun it was to see inside the fetching arts and crafts-style bungelow––where our couch resided––nestled under the city skyscrapers.

So I guess that's us. That's who we are and who we will always be. And I'm very content with that.

A favorite post from two years ago, and we're still thankful for our couch. Visit Chari to see other Sunday Favorites at Happy To Design.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

for your heart

These pancakes are all we eat at our house now. The story goes that an older man with heart trouble was determined to figure out a way to make heart healthy pancakes, and he did. My aunt passed the recipe on to me, and everyone I serve them to asks to have the recipe. Though I've posted it before, it is worth posting again!

1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 TB wheat germ
1 1/2 C quick oats (or not quick, as you prefer)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tb oil
2 beaten eggs
2 C butter milk (or 2 C milk w/ 1 Tb lemon juice)

We always add fresh, frozen, or dried blueberries and have renamed them "blue berry pancakes" at our house.

For more delicious recipes, go to "Foodie Fridays" at Designs by Gollum

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I sat in the dentist's office yesterday for 90 minutes getting prepared for a crowned tooth. It really wasn't bad; our dentist does a great job at numbing the area. The culprit was a worn out huge filling--probably from when I was a young teenager. It made me think of our old dentist, Dr. Matthews, with his small office and one chair. And the pristinely white porcelin bowl with endless rinsing water where we'd spit after swishing. I can still feel the coolness of that swirling water. I'm sure that filling was done with no wasn't offered back then that I remember. Which is why today just the sound of a dentist drill still causes me to break out in a sweat.

But the nice thing I remember about Dr. Matthews was his old white metal cabinet with the windowed door. Inside were neatly laid instruments (I suppose that's what they were) but I remember best one shelf, lined with a mint green towel. There he had a row of neatly lined up, very shiny dimes. When we were done (as children) we could go inside the cabinet and pick one dime to take home with us.

Dr. Mur and I talked about how much you could do with a dime back then--the "penny candy" theme. He told me about the little paper cylinder of nuts he would buy for a few cents after school (if he walked and didn't use his money for the bus ride), and how inside the nuts a coin or two was hidden. Can you imagine that in today's protective world?

Photo: Youngest's practice teeth at dental school.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Yes, a perfect fall weekend to visit Little One and her parents. The weather was cool, crisp and the leaves still beautiful. Perfect too, for a bike ride.

We hadn't put our bikes on the back of the car in many years, and we were relieved when we and the bikes arrived safely after a two and 1/2 hour car ride.

During a break, Little One decided to set off on a walk. We went to get her, but wondered how much farther Miss Independence might have gone before she realized she had left us behind.

After her big hike, and the long bike ride, she was all tuckered out.

Friday, November 06, 2009


A patch of sunlight? Stop and rest! So begins The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, a book we all read, appreciated, chewed on, and discussed at our book club on a chilly fall evening.

"Think of your meals as a gift from heaven. Nourish your spirit and body together." And so we did as we gathered around a festive table to dine on butternut squash soup, bread, salads, and amazing fruit desserts. We stopped from our busy schedules and rested in the nourishment of good food and what we have been reading.

It is such a great book, so readable, full of illustrations and not at all preachy. It makes us long to rest, as we understand it is not God's choice for us to be busy all the time. "Embrace that which life gives ... to cease from that which is necessary." "Busyness robs us of knowing God." "When we stop caring about the things we care about, it is a signal we are too busy." "Acknowledge that every moment is a sheer gift from God." "Busyness conjures up the conviction that we are necessary."  And many other thoughts worth quoting. I wish I had read the book when I was younger.

We shared our hearts, and encouraged one another to be more intentional in sabbath rest. Letting go of all we think we have to do, letting God "still" us, and enjoying just being. Sometimes just sitting, savoring the world around us, even if it looks like we're doing nothing.

There is so much more to this little book. And it all started when the Gardener found it at Good Will for 50 cents. As he read it he would exclaim or share portions, and continually recommended we read it for our book club. I think we are all glad we did!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This Just In

The blogging world is really amazing, once one gets to know it. It certainly enriches our lives in many ways. And it's interesting how one blog can lead to another and the connections we all establish. Some people have "give aways" on their blogs. Of course I've never "won" one, I "never win anything." Funny how I woke this morning thinking about how I jumped into a "last call" for a Elizabeth Goudge book give away. And how I don't win anything.

So I got on the computer this morning, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a message! My name was pulled out of the hat and I "won" the book from a new blogging friend whose inspiring blog has the prettiest pictures and a wonderful sense of humor. Check out In the Garden. I found her via Melissa and Bonnie. It would be amazing to have an overview of all the interconnections in the blog world, and how we get to the blogs we read.

I told the giver of the gift that a few years ago we read Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street for our book club. We had a festive evening around my table, and tried to imagine ourselves in the era the book was set in. What a time we had--good discussion, laughter, funny comments, and a fire! Yes, a candle on the table met something paper and it caused quite a stir, to say the least. To add to it all, I thoughtlessly picked up the closest glass and threw wine on the flames, which not only helped the fire along, but also got all over a friend's white outfit. Barbarina wore my bathrobe while we washed and dried her clothes and continued our discussion. It made a memory that we often laugh about! If Elizabeth Goudge only knew!

Thank you, Cindy!
Above photo from her blog, In the Garden.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

season changes

I switched on the radio last Sunday when I was driving to church and was surprised, actually shocked, to hear Christmas music in full swing. November one. Turns out it's not permanent yet, it was just an "Excited that Christmas is coming" weekend. It is true that time is flying. Seems as though Fall, which we welcomed so recently, is fleeing rapidly as winter approaches even here in the south. Since we can't linger outside over summer twilight, I'm happy to welcome the time change last weekend and all the coziness it brings. Darkness falls early ... soup on the stove ... and no reason not to light the candles.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Back at Me

I don't have a "before" photo, but picture a wooden, sort of tired looking vintage (I'm guessing) 1960s tray. I found it for a couple of dollars at our local Habitat for Humanity shop. Immediately I knew what I was going to do with it, and it turned into my first experience of "blackboarding." I used the same green paint as the cabinet I transformed a few weeks ago, added the black paint, and then gave it as a housewarming gift to a young friend of mine who just settled into her first apartment on her own. She seemed pleased, and I liked its "modern" look (which is what we called such a look back in "the day.")

Actually there is an "after" picture, as here it is in Tiph's apartment. Imagine my delight to get a picture postcard thank you note from her ... a photo of the tray now at home in her apartment, with "thank you" written on it. Clever young lady!

For more transformations, see Between Naps on the Porch.
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