Sunday, August 29, 2010

For Lease

Last week I sat in a tiny cubicle, head bent down, studying my pink toenails. The thought that the polish was fading didn't even enter my head as I focused on bigger issues. It was one of those moments when your life flashes in front of you and your mind wanders to contingency plans. I was called to a follow-up ultrasound after a questionable mammogram. I've always dreaded breast cancer. At least three friends died at a much-too-young age from it. Many others recovered and are alive. Was I now about to face it?

For those brief moments of waiting my mind began to separate out what was important in life and what I could do without doing. Then a young woman came to get me, explaining things clearly and kindly. A small candle glowed. I peeked into it. Fake, but a good fake for sure.

Whatever the technician was looking for was playing hide and seek. "If it's just a cyst, I should see a clearly defined circle." I couldn't help but watch the screen with her. When she found it, it was not a clearly defined circle, but more of a blob. She went off to find the radiologist. It had been a busy day of work for me across the road at the hospital and I was tired. I tried to rest, but realized I was fighting fear, though I had felt peace in the days waiting for this test. What I saw on the screen had not been a clearly defined circle so my mind whirled with what may lie ahead.

The radiologist came in. Out came the needle and a tube. For once I turned my head away, not wanting to watch this one. Eventually the news was good. I was suddenly exhausted. Maybe I was more stressed about this than I realized. I just wanted a drink of water and a nap. I walked across the hospital grounds to the parking deck at a slow pace for me. I had been given a new gift of life but was surprised there was no spring to my step. I didn't even call the waiting Gardener right away. I just needed to process this new "lease on life."

At supper I poured water slowly from a pitcher into my glass, watching the sparkle, and listening for the tinkling sounds of water splashing into the glass. Everything seemed crystal clear as, for a change, I took my time at life. And for the first time I realized what the expression a "new lease on life" meant. I'd never thought about the use of the word "lease" before. It suddenly had new meaning. Our lives here on earth are totally on lease, and I'd just renewed mine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

the old and the new

I get the urge to change things around every now and then. I've had on my mind to sell this old table that for many years has been our dining room table. We bought it from a retired couple who lived in Pennsylvania and raised their family around it. I wonder what stories they'd tell about the table? The problem with these wonderful old oak tables is that they can expand forever. And stretch it out we did-- one time sitting 13 people around it. The difficulty is keeping such a long table stable with only the center support. We finagled all kinds of ways, but it became sort of a pain, as each time we were having a large group, we were under the table putting in the supports we'd made. Some of our extra leaves were homemade. I never liked it's wideness, as it crowded our small dining room.

But when I got down to seriously selling it, I couldn't.  With new eyes I saw the beauty of its age. I remembered home schooling our boys at it. Hundreds of people have sat around that table. I thought about all the dinner parties, family meals, holiday celebrations ... it's a big part of our history as hospitality is important to us. So we decided to see what it looked like down to its small round size in the kitchen. Loved it.

And the very next day the P*ttery B*rn catalog arrived. Guess what I saw in it? Not that I'm a slave to trends, but it's kind of nice to see PB selling a new version of our vintage table.

Now the question is, the old chairs around the table: to paint or not, and if so, what color? Black. White. Blue. Or not at all. I'm leaning towards the first color.

Connecting today with Cindy's Show and Tell Fridays

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"It sounds like mercy to me." So said the Gardener when I returned home from a batch of errands and told him my story.

1. It was a bad time to go--late in the afternoon, but I got mostly green lights as I drove through rush hour traffic.

2. First store: got my bridal registry list and found what I wanted right away. The manager at the cash register, who previously I had not found friendly at all, was extra nice, finding a box for me and wrapping the items carefully. Even told me to come back with my receipt and more coupons to get a better discount.

3. Second store: a great parking place. Found what I needed quickly and a clerk actually came up to me and greeted me. She offered advice about what I was purchasing. When I checked out I happened to have exact change. :-)

4. Third and last store: Remembered everything on my mental list for a change, and noticed the very long lines with big orders. A checker caught my eye as she opened a lane, inviting me over, and I was out in a jif. While unloading the groceries into my car,  I noticed the guy gathering up the carts. I tried to hurry but felt a bit unorganized. He walked over to my car to get my cart. "I'm sorry I'm moving so slowly."

"That's OK, Ma'am, take your time." In the softest, kindest voice--a voice of a young man who probably won't be gathering up carts much longer.

 I did talk over my plans with my heavenly Father as I headed out to my errands and therefore took note of all the details of his undeserved mercy. Oh yes, and we've had a break from our suffocating summer. So pleasant outside--even a breeze!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

each new day

"Each new day brings us, like a new gift, a quite new opportunity. Our precious handful of days may be partly or almost wholly spent, but God does not, as earthly masters often do, pay off a worker saying, 'You are no use to me now;' He gives us each day a new chance."

                                                                                                   ~Amy Carmichael

Sunday, August 22, 2010

just peachy

Go to Little Red House  to view more interesting Monday Mosaics!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

36 and three more

*Thirty-six* years ago this week, Hurricane Dora had passed through our town delaying one bridesmaid. We were very young as we walked down the aisle later that day. Strangely, we don't feel much older today. Back then and still today, our marriage is built on the solid Rock of our Heavenly Father who in His amazingly creative way, believed the two of us together was a good idea. Out of that solid Rock has flowed a steadfast love and a life we would never have imagined, along with two wonderful boys and a host of family and friends.

There is nothing better to do today than recognize and be thankful for Who brought us together. 
And be thankful for each other, for together, as we collect life experiences, we grow closer and closer. What a treasure, never to be taken for granted!

*I wrote this in August 07, so we are now at 39 grace-filled years. We met my first year of college, so we've shared friends and experiences since we were both 18. When we hear an "oldie" on the radio, we just look at each other and know we're remembering the same stuff! 
A gift we're grateful for the older we get.

Connecting to Chari's Happy to Design  for Sunday reposts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tea On Wheels

Robyn and I took an afternoon tea to our dear friend Boniface who is recovering from hip surgery. 
Since it was Robyn's first day teaching school, and I was off today, I got the tea things together.

Carrying a tea party over to someone else's house is one of my favorite things to do.

We certainly could use the dishes at her house, but I like packing up my things 
so she has something fresh to look at, especially since Boniface has been 
confined to her house recovering.

So I gathered it all together and got it ready to put in baskets. I took along some plastic 
bags for bringing back dirty dishes.

This time a peach tart... so easy to make with a ready made pie crust 
(I used a recycled disposable pie plate so I could leave the pie for the family to finish.)

Off we go!  Very carefully, that is!

Connecting with other Thursday Tablescapes at Between Naps on the Porch.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

it's a matter of perspective

I'm a great sweeper. I like things tidy and even got a new broom for my birthday. 
But when I see this on the driveway, strangely I don't care to sweep.

I think it's about perspective. These crepe myrtle blossoms decorate our grass and 
driveway so beautifully like fresh fallen pink snow.  
Even though they are no longer on the tree,  I want to enjoy their rich color as long as possible!

I feel like there is some life analogy here. I guess I'll let you find it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making Roads

Moses Cone, a textile magnate, had a hobby of making roads. Last weekend we enjoyed a walk on a beautiful road he made around a lake, down in a valley below his mountain top home. Horses used the path with us, and they say he made it for horse drawn carriages, "back in the day." As soon as we started out walking I felt such a peacefulness. No one around me was hurrying; all were enjoying the quiet beauty of the surroundings. It was a walk I won't forget and hopefully will do again.

Connecting to Dear Little Red House for Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

sweet home

I popped into my mom's today to help her with a few things. Whenever I open the door to her little apartment I am filled with a sense of being home. Though she has condensed her 60 plus years of married life into a small apartment in a retirement center, it is still my parents' home. Familiarity is all around. Furniture, family heirlooms, familiar pictures I've seen all my life, a particular scent ... it's all there to instill peace into me, even after all these years of living away from home. Walking into her house is like being served a silver platter of comfort food.

And of course there is my mother's soft voice. She's always there, ready with advice (and I still go to her for some). Though our roles are switching a bit these days, she still mothers me. I often hear, "Be careful."

I don't take for granted still having a mother on this earth, and being able to "go home." I thank God for this incredible blessing and the feeling of security it continues to bring.

There's nothing so sweet as being able to phone her and say, "Mom?"

Photo: Sunday afternoon at Mother's ... the Gardener is napping.

Reposted from Aug. 2007. Check out Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday reposts.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Faux Veal Marsala

The old man we lived with and cared for had certain special meals he liked me to make, including tripe, sweetbread, tongue (all parts of a cow); but our favorite was Veal Marsala. His butler pantry had a full set of Pink Tower Spode, and when I pounded flour into the veal it was the rippled edge of the spode saucer that flattened the veal the best. From his hospital bed in an upstairs bedroom, he would listen to what he called "the ringing of the plate" as I prepared the meal. It was work intensive.

Our eldest was just a baby when we lived there, but that meal has become a family tradition and one of his favorites. Eldest son requested it for his birthday. I don't make it often because it's a ton of work, but I got up early on his birthday, gathered my supplies, and began the "pounding of the meat." I used a regular saucer but it did not do as good a job. And forget a meal cleaver. It just gets meat caught up in it and causes a mess.

This time I didn't pound as long so the meat was not as thin as it could be. And since veal is so expensive, we serve "faux veal"--which is turkey breast cutlets cut in small pieces and pounded with flour. I've perfected my method, and place a cutting board in the sink with a cup of flour nearby. That way I don't have a dusting of flour over everything in the kitchen. After the pounding, I saute the meat in a small amount of olive oil, with a dash of salt and RED PEPPER. I also have a cup of beef broth nearby and as the meat browns I add a bit of broth into the pan to keep it from sticking and give it a nice brown color.  I place that all on a plate while I saute sliced mushrooms in oil (with a little salt and red pepper), remove from pan, and drain on a paper towel. Back into the pan goes the meat and mushrooms, along with more broth and a cup or so of marsala wine.

That's a rough recipe, but how it works for us. I've learned over the years that I can make this ahead and reheat it, usually leaving the mushrooms to do at the last minute. It's good served with browned small potatoes (yes I use canned sometimes!) and to be honest, we forget it's not veal! And when it's finished and I slip into my place at the table, I feel like I've really cooked!

Click on  Foodie Friday;  to see some great recipes!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

happy birthday

When our boys have their birthdays, I always cook them a favorite meal. Youngest wanted grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, and oreo ice cream cake. This year his wife and I shared things and she made a wonderful ice cream cake.  Their birthdays are only a few days apart, and last night we celebrated Eldest's: veal marsala with mushrooms, browned potatoes, carrots, peas, and flaky rolls. We enjoyed our family gathered around the table.

For dessert, since he didn't have a preference, I made a plum tart. It was a little sour, but it was simply fitting with its name!

See Between Naps on the Porch for more table settings!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

the way things catch your eye

You know how you drive along in the countryside and things just catch your eye? Like this place. (By the way, I was disappointed this antique shop was not open, contrary to the sign.)

Or this house. Some of you remember I posted a photo of it earlier this year, as well as a few years ago. I went back this summer when we were in the mountains, just to check on it. Sure enough, it was the same color, Here is a view of the other side of the house. I bet the folks who live inside are a lot of fun!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

little women

My sister is welcoming her fourth granddaughter very soon.
Can you imagine ... her own set of "little women."

And I never knew how much I'd love
being a "great auntie" to them.

This little "bonnet" went from a regular baby cap to something with a bit more flair. It just sort of happened, but certainly was meant to be ... as a welcome for a wee sister ... and it's on its way to 
their mailbox.

Now if I can just remember exactly how I made the rose, and repeat it for the girl of twins
coming to a coworker this winter!

Connecting to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday at "My Romantic Home."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

sticker shock

Was at a gathering for some women the other night. Most of us were "older" ---probably over 50.  And there were about five "younger" women in their 30s or 40s. The younger women sort of kept to their own group. I was a little disappointed as I had looked forward to getting to know them.

When I mentioned this to the Gardener, he reminded me that when I was young I probably did the same thing.  "But I'm not old like those old women were that you're talking about."

"I think my dear, that you might be." Ouch. That's not my perception of myself at all. How does this growing older thing come upon us so quickly? I don't feel any older than those younger women, but occasionally an experience like this comes to remind me that I am. It's kind of like sticker shock. I'm sure some of you understand.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

lunch along the way

At the end of a spectacular skyway drive through gorgeous mountain top views,
we found ourselves hungry and in a sort of plateau town.
And we came upon the perfect spot for lunch.

There was a lot to look at.   Locals and fellow travelers kept the servers busy.

I looked at the ketchup a second time.

Yup, I saw correctly.  And we did, as we always do.

Back on the road again ...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

glass act

Just playing with my camera ... you know how that goes!

Connecting to Mary's Little Red House for Mosaic Monday. 
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