Monday, May 31, 2010

missing in action

Something didn't seem right. A sight would catch my eye and when I reached for my camera, it wasn't there. We were at a ball game with Little One and her parents. And I had forgotten my camera.

I'm always one to have it along. But sometimes I think I spend more time capturing the experience on film than actually living it. I guess there's a balance to this as there is in all things. I am grateful for the many photos I have on my computer and on cds and in print, as they help me remember life events, and help others remember too. So I guess I provide a service, of sorts, for our family and friends.

The day was atrociously hot and humid and our seats had the sun at full blaze. We eventually moved to some shade and there was much for Little One to look at and talk about. She took it all in. I think her favorite may have been the bull that started smoking––eyes glowing and tail wagging––whenever there was a home run, and there were six. She called him a donkey. And I fully enjoyed experiencing the experience with all my senses, and not behind the camera lens––for a change.

Not my photo of course. This is from the internet.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Poppies Blow

Red is the color of the poppy flower that I remember sticking on my shirt as a child. I knew it stood for Fla*ders Field in WW I (where many poppy flowers grow) and the soldiers that gave their lives there. Over time Memori*l Day has come to be a time to remember all our fallen soldiers, not just those from 

I was out in the country this past weekend and spotted an elderly lady selling poppy flowers outside a store. I hadn't seen that in a long time. I dropped some money into her box and tucked the bright flower in my shirt button. It brought back childhood memories when Memori*l Day was a bigger deal. But I also bought it to remember something much bigger. I'm remembering in gratitude those that lost their lives defending our freedom.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; 
and in the sky The larks, 
still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
                ~Lt. Colonel John McCrae

Reposted from a year ago. See Chari's  Happy to Design for more Sunday reposts.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the end of an era

For the last eight years, Lydia Grace and her husband have come over to our house almost every Monday night beginning in January through to the middle of May. It started out casually and then became something of a priority for us. Five before 9 they arrive, and by five after 10 they are backing out the driveway for their short ride home. It has become more than just watching a TV show together. We've been friends for years, but Monday nights have connected us even more.

This is how it goes. We sit in the same seats each Monday and for five minutes catch up on our weeks. Lydia G. is the one entrusted with the remote. During the first commercial we get up and pour our decaf coffee. During the ads we discuss what we think is going on and predict what might happen. And marvel about how fast our hero gets from one place to another and heals from his many wounds. Sometimes we call my sister where they are all watching it, to discuss some part of it all. It's good fun and we laugh a lot about the absurdity of it all. This is a big stress-reliever in our busy week. :-)

Each episode supposedly is a literal hour in a day filled with combating terrorist plots, finding bad guys, and jumping off buildings. It's not the kind of TV I normally watch, but something about it caught us up in it years ago. Strong hero, standing for what is right above all else, singly focused on overcoming evil ...

But it's over as of this week. We got together with a third couple to watch the tee-voed (I don't even know how to spell that word) series finale on their big screen and ate some Chinese take out. We liked being able to stop along the way to discuss it or replay something we didn't hear well. And then it ended, leaving us with questions (as happens at the end of every year), except this time we probably won't get answers ... unless the big predicted movie actually comes about.

Meanwhile, what should we do? Maybe we'll take up playing cards. We do want to keep up our tradition of getting together. By the way, Happy Birthday today, LG !

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

something to do today

"Let us examine our capacities and gifts, and then put them to the best use we may. As our own view of life is of necessity partial, I do not find that we can do better than to put [our gifts] absolutely in God's hand, and look to Him for the direction of our life energy. ...

[God] can make [our lives] useful, uplifting, heroic. God never wastes anything. God never forgets anything. God never loses anything. As long as we live, we have a work to do. We shall never be too old for it, nor too feeble. ... That we are alive today is proof positive that God has something for us to do today."    

Anna Lindsay, 1893

Photo by lulu.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

the office

Well sometimes you get so used to living with something you don't realize how shabby it has become (and I'm not talking about the good kind of "shabby" as in "shabby chic.") It was time to clean up my little upstairs cubbyhole office, in a oversized closet. I love this place because I store everything here that pertains to me, such as my files, my photo and craft stuff, my printer, writing paper ... you get the picture. It's a real "powerhouse" and the Gardener teases that it's the "nerve center" of the house.

When we moved into this house 10 years ago the Gardener made me a desk by placing an old closet door over two filing cabinets, and then added some shelving. A dear friend gave me a window for my windowless room. I'm sure in this "before" photo I was in the middle of some project.  It's not usually this messy, but made a good "before" pic.

 I used paint left-over from the outside shutters and doors that I painted last year, and added three coats of what I would call "shellac." I love the shine! Bought a new lamp at T*rget, and repurposed my window view as a collage frame of some favorite photos.

It cost me less than $20 for everything and was well worth it. There is a much more serene feel about my little space now.  Green is calming, isn't it?

See Between Naps on the Porch for more Metamorphoses ... on Monday!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

he usually knows

The Gardener usually knows what's good for me better than I do. I balked a bit about going to the mountains for 2 1/2 days (he can do his writing and thinking much better in a place like that) ... for I say, "Whether you go for 2 days or 10 days, it's the same amount of work getting ready" (especially when you have to plan for meals.) I was tired, but he helped a lot as we made a simple and quick pack up.

My computer had crashed so we started the two-hour drive by a quick visit to drop off my laptop at the bustling Apple store. We knew the weather was not going to be good, but we like it any way it comes, so the fact that we had no mountain views didn't bother us too much.  Good friends from up north were down for a graduation so they stopped by the cabin we were using for five hours of non-stop talk and a frozen lasagna supper.

Then absolute quiet. No TV, radio, computer. While the Gardener worked, I read and napped and read and napped. It just doesn't happen this way at home.

We did go out exploring a little mountain town and stopped in a beautiful library (yes, we love to visit libraries.)

The view cleared up just in time for us to leave, naturally. And a beautiful drive home, refreshed, thanks to the Gardener.

Friday, May 21, 2010

counting the ways

The old dog house sits empty, waiting for the next garage sale. The zip line has been taken down, but her old chain still hangs by the back door.  Meshach has been gone five months now and I'm amazed at how much I still miss her. She's "everywhere" in our house and yard, so I miss her many times a day:

1. When I come home and she's not in the back yard barking her greeting.
2. Or when I unlock the door and she's not there with a wagging tail.
3. When I go into the kitchen each morning.
4. When I vacuum.
5. When I dust the dander away.
6. When we spill food on the floor.
7. When I don't need to step lightly walking near her part of the yard.
8. When we go to bed at night and don't have to take her for her nightly walk.
9. When the kitchen floor stays clean for a few days in a row.
10. When the gardener is out of town and I'm home alone at night.

Amazing how you can miss your pup. Of course 15 years is a long time to get attached.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

just 'coz

I had to post this ... just coz it's so sweet ...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

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?

Reposted from two summers ago, because I still think this house is great!  See Chari's Happy to Design  for more repeat posts!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Light is Clearer Through Cracks

That the Glory May Be of God

Each day He seems to shine
from the more primitive pots,
the battered bowls.

Service may polish silver and
gold up to honor
and I could cry to glitter
like porcelain
or lead crystal,

But light is a clearer
contrast through my cracks,
and flame is clearer seen
if its container
does not compete.

~ Luci Shaw

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

things that go bump in the night

 The Secret of the Old Clock, or even better, The Hidden Staircase were two Nancy Drew favorites. I devoured all the books about that young "sleuth" when I was a kid, followed by nurse Cherry Ames' books. And then I read Jane Eyre. And from there on to Victoria Holt. Suspense on the English moors ... my cup of tea back then. There are those who describe me as the Queen of Drama with an intense imagination, probably linked to reading all those suspense novels when I was young. I love a good mystery, and we've been having them right here at at our house recently.

1. There is a the sound of a groaning woman (sometimes a man) in our bathroom long after the commode has been flushed. I could almost swear she's in the attic overhead (think Jane Eyre.)

2. Sitting quietly all alone in my house and suddenly the sound of running water in the guest bathroom. As if another commode has been flushed, but it hasn't. I am alone in the house... aren't I?

3. Then up to the attic for the first time in awhile. I notice via our newly installed light (can you imagine for years we had only a flashlight up there) that a whole strip of insulation has been removed and placed on the other side of the attic. And where it was, is now a gaping hole revealing a small room of sorts (think The Hidden Staircase). Though the men in the family have tried to come up with reasons for this happening, they haven't convinced me of a good scenario. And as an aside, why wasn't that spare space included in the bedroom to make it larger?

4. And finally, something did go bump last night at our house. A huge crash startled me awake from upstairs where our house guest was sleeping. For awhile I lay there envisioning a fallen bed, a turned over bookcase, a flying home invader ...  but since our guest had just traveled from the other side of the world I was hoping he just got out of bed and was disoriented and maybe walked into a door. I'm sure he'd come get ... us ... if .... as I drifted back to sleep.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

remembering spring

Spring seemed to come and go quickly this year, but the spectacular color show is not to be soon forgotten. (Ornamental cherry tree.)

If you would like, please visit Mary at Dear Little Redhouse to see more "Monday Mosaics."

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My mom is almost 89. There is such a feeling of comfort whenever I visit her. I don't take lightly the blessing it is to go to her house, feel at "home," and gain from her wisdom. A privilege I realize others do not have. What a treasure she is to all of us, and how I wish I could be half the woman she is. Soft spoken, rarely a complaint, serving us all her life without a murmur. When I think back on her life, she is a prize among women. Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Photo: Mother and Dad with their first baby, my older sister. 

Reposted from a year ago. See Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday "re-runs."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

afternoon birthday tea

Celebrating a friend's birthday ... afternoon tea seemed just the thing. Her friends love her dearly and almost all on the invite list could come. So it became two tables on the porch, on a perfect sunny, warm day.

It was a nice afternoon to enjoy beauty, food, tea, and friends.  How did I end up with 10 pink napkins?  Six from a garage sale many years ago, four (see right), so sweet, from an antique shop up north.

Crackers, cucumbers, goat cheese topped with cranberries ... got the idea from Mabel's House.

It was an afternoon of pink, blue, green and lots of tea!

There was nothing spectacular about the dishes. The teacups all had stories, and one of the old creamer and sugars belonged to the Gardener's mother, the other set came from ... you guessed it, Good Will (as did the blue and white plates).

The blue teacups came from Romania. The Gardener, a man with excellent taste, bought them for me and carried them home in his suitcase––I might add, with very little packing––but they made it home just fine.

The gifts were creative ... and beautiful ... inside and out.

Cranberry scones.

Joining other Thursday Tablescapers at Between Naps on the Porch.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

he asked

Forty years ago this past Sunday, he asked me a question and I answered yes, and then he put a shiny diamond on my finger. It may be a bit worn now, and has had a few repair jobs, but to me it's as beautiful today as it was that day we stood on a mountain top overlooking the Hudson River. Two years before, on that date, he had asked me out on a first date. I wasn't so sure about this tall young basketball player, but I agreed to his invitation. So began a lifetime together. And it's probably good I didn't have a bird's eye view of where all life would take us.

Sunday we sat at a different place in church than we usually do and had a new view of our large congregation. As I watched new mothers carrying their babies into church, or young families staking out a pew, or teenagers gathered in a corner before service, or a grandma showing off her granddaughter, I saw stages of our life march before us.
I'm not sure the Gardener was thinking the same, but I looked up at him and grabbed his hand. His eyes looked misty. Serving God, others, and the church has been our life together, and has taken us to many places and through many situations, both good and not so good. We are so much a part of each other and a part of our work together, I can't imagine any other life. I think we both were feeling that this Sunday as we looked out over a congregation we love.

Sure as a young woman of 20 I had no idea what saying yes to this young man (I think he was on one knee) would mean for my life,  but I affirmed again on this 40th "yes" anniversary, that I would have it no other way. God's grace has been nothing but abundant in our lives. I am thankful today.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

tea in Dorset

A "thrill of a lifetime" for me was being served a true Dorset tea by an English woman in her 250 year old house in the little town of Wareham, surrounded by Saxon walls (though half the size of what they had originally been). This is living in real history. The old house is in incredible shape, with inside shutters and an amazing English garden in the back. This is one of those houses whose door opens right up on the winding village street, each house attached to the next. 

We entered through the tiny "car park" at the back gate. The "coffee" table was laid with the tea things. Napkins, small sterling silvery butter knives, small blue and white plates, cups and saucers, and  the cream and sugar. After we had given our greetings, we sat down and out came the tea pot, a plate of buttered scones, a plate of buttered raisin toast, and a Dorset apple loaf cake. And, of course, raspberry jam and divine clotted cream that was the "cream of the crop. The very finest top of the cream. It looked like yellow butter. The proper way, though much debated our hosts told us, is to put the jam on first and then a touch of the cream. Milk in the teacup first of course. Mmmmm. Around and around the goodies were passed."You must have some more." It seemed the thing to do was to take more than one, and to have seconds at that. (This type of nonsense most only be allowed because the Brits walk so much!) I was so touched. I just sat and thoroughly enjoyed the moment, taking it all in, not believing I actually was where I was.

Interesting conversation with the tea preceded a tour of the house. Then we walked down the road to the 11th century parish church ... where there was a flower festival wrapping up. We saw a cast iron baptismal font that was carefully hidden when Lord Cromwell turned anything made of iron into canon balls. The church had been burned once, rebuilt, and at one time fell down. But the very front chapel in one corner is original. It is now a prayer room. As I stared at the small chairs gathered for their current mid week prayer service, I could not help but sense history in a tangible way. Here believers had gathered throughout history and prayed for things like the Black Plague, the French Revolution, the War of 1812--you get the picture. 

Lower left photo from the web, of the original room mentioned above. Reposted from three years ago this month.  See Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday reposts.

it's back

We have had a cool spring with wonderfully dry air. Yesterday was a spectacular day and we took note as we heard the weather predictions. The other night I even went to bed with a sweatshirt, sox, and an extra blanket. Last night my hands hurt so much from cracks and dryness. I treated them before I went to sleep. In the middle of the night the change was apparent as humidity seeped into the house. What it does for the hands is amazing. I can feel the cracks on my hands healing as the day progresses. The air hangs heavy and rain is on it's way. Yep, the humidity is back and will probably be with us until the fall. But with that comes such sweet relief to my hands!

Photo: our "knockout" roses.
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