Saturday, February 26, 2011

daffodil time again

Wow, the daffodils are in full bloom. A little early, I'd say. I went out to pick some to add to the wimping tulips. Jack from across the street saw me and yelled, "What are you doing?" I had already told him a few minutes earlier that I had lost my voice (and suggested if he finds it to let me know) ... so I gestured and used sign language to tell him the obvious. "I understand what you are saying," he yelled to me through the stiff wind that had kicked up. I held the bouquet out towards him, gestured it towards his house, then beckened him to come get a bouquet for his mom. I saw him hesitate, toes on the curb. I knew he was not allowed into the street. But suddenly--aha--we realized we could walk across the lawns around the cul de sac and meet without crossing the street. I believe a sign of intelligence is being able to understand folksy sign language, gestures, and to figure out alternative options.

Reposted from this week, 2008. Just picked some daffodils today and I still miss Jack and his family when I look across the street to where they used to live. Thankfully we keep in touch. See Chari's Happy to Design for other Sunday reposts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

being friends

          Friendship takes work. It takes planning and pursuing, and when you no longer have little kids to group around, it doesn't happen so easily. Luci Shaw, a poet/writer who years ago often hired me to babysit her five kids, writes, "...friendship means frequent phone calls, letters, face-to-face visits––staying in touch. Because without touch, that contact, we feel isolated, and we'd be neglecting a person who is precious to us."
          And her friend, Madeleine L'Engle writes about, " ...our sense of the grace and glory and absolute necessity of friendship."
         The card (above) with quotes were sent to me by Boniface whose friendship I treasure. It's such a pleasure to hear what she's thinking ... on paper ... and in the mail! (And she usually decorates the outside of the envelope with a depiction of something that I love--like an old stack of dishes--smilin'.) 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Me. In all my baby glory. I was a second child born to parents who I don't think even owned a camera at the time. Quite the contrast to my four-year-older sister who was the first grandchild on one side, and adored on the other. All the relatives seemed to have cameras, for of her, there are pictures plenty, while I look long and hard to find a semblance of me before the age of five. School pictures started then, and my mom got a Brownie camera. From then on, there is no doubt I was well-loved.

When looking through my parents' "stuff" recently, I was curious to find a rumpled envelope from one of their college friends. He was cleaning out. I couldn't believe it, but, held up to the light, two of the slides looked to be of me. I'll excuse my parents for not showing me the slides, for who could have imagined such a thing as scanning slides 24 years ago?

The truth is out. I'm not quite the cute little baby I imagined myself to have been. A little disappointed, but I'll be OK. It's just nice to finally meet myself at a very young age.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

along the path...

Since I was in my Kenya photo files I pulled out some pictures of what I saw further along the path (shown in previous post). I was delighted to talk to this young girl with her baby brother on her back. Her house is to the right, and if you look closely above the clothesline you'll see some red flowers that bring beauty to a humble dwelling. What a view of the tea valley they have from on top of the hills. The upper left shows a hamlet lined up with houses of those who work the tea farms. And upper right: kids walking home from school through the tea fields.

Please visit Mary's Little Red House for more Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

tea walking

I was searching out some photos for a project I'm working on and came across some pictures of a walk I'll never forget. I love to collect (in my mind) "top of the chart" memorable moments such as: special walks, particular places where I've taken a nap, special meals ... you get the idea.

Shady walks are the best and I was struck by the contrast of these two photos taken a few seconds apart a couple of years ago when we were in the beautiful highlands of Kenya. I started up on high ground over looking the tea fields (top photo), and then descended into them. The patch of shade along the walk as I went down the hill was so very lovely and such a contrast to the sunny spots. There's something gentle and peaceful about shade; everything looks prettier, and it's a grace when you come into it from the hot sun!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


It's time to get the knitting needles out, and the color of choice: blue. Yes, Little One is going 
to be a big sister when the really warm weather arrives (and after her birthday, she says.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the empty seat

We met for coffee ... just friends grabbing some time in the late afternoon. Something we try to do since our paths don't cross that often and we want to stay connected. We invited a friend who moved to Austria in August. Normally she would have been with us for coffee. We "skyped her," and it worked. She "sat" at the end of the table and joined our conversation. It was great! Amazing our technology today. I wonder if I'll live long enough not to be amazed. The image on the computer screen is part of her little flat on the top floor of their tall building. She took us on a tour with her laptop. After she "hung up" to go to bed (she is 6 hours ahead of us) her chair seemed strangely empty and quiet.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

all shiny and sweet

My sister recently polished our mother's wedding gift silverplated flatware (Eternally Yours by 1847 Rogers Brothers, produced in 1941). Mom gave it to her some years ago. It looked so gorgeous "Lulu" decided to photograph it and make a mosaic out of the photos. What a lot of work to polish it all. If you look closely you can see the hands that did all that polishing, along with her camera! I guess you could say my sister is a "guest blogger" today.

Connecting to Little Red House for Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


There's something about Valentine's Day that rings in my heart. It's not so much a romantic time. It evokes childhood memories of making valentines. I think that's it. It was one of my favorite times of the year. I remember decorating shoe boxes with red tissue paper and hearts, cutting a slit in the top of the box, and proudly carrying it to school. Throughout the week we'd place our valentines in each other's boxes. There the boxes would be, all proudly lined up at the side of the room, waiting for the party day when they'd be opened and then carted back home, filled with valentines from friends. And even as an adult, making valentines is just something I do nearly every year. Silly, I know.

I've been reading my favorite great-aunt's journal, so I decided to take a photo of her as a 21 year-old, and use it on my valentines. I wish I'd known her as a young woman, but through reading tidbits in her journal, I'm getting some idea of her life as a young woman.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

breakfast special

Mom's Ham and Cheese Souffle (or breakfast for a crowd...)

16 slices of cubed white bread--thin sandwich style bread works best
1 lb. cubed ham, more or less, or you could use bacon
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 Cup swiss cheese small-cubed (or grated)
6 eggs
3 C milk
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
 3 C crushed cornflakes
1/2 C melted marg or butter

Grease a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.  Place 1/2 of the bread crumbs in the dish. Add ham and cheeses and cover with the rest of the bread crumbs.  Mix eggs and spices and pur over bread crumbs. Refrigerate overnight.  Next day combine the cornflakes and butter and put on top.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Some enjoy this with salsa served on the side. Mom always made this Christmas morning for us after we were adults and bringing our own kids home for Christmas.

Connecting to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum  Check it out for more delicious-ness!!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

the runner's wife

They had such a deep love for each other. The kind you read about in books. We only met Natalie once, many years ago, but loved the wife our "best man" had chosen. She blossomed him, if you could use the word in that way about a man. They lived across the country and the Gardener visited his old college roommate only once in these years of passing time. But we got to know Natalie through Russ's letters, which he wrote several times a year. He wrote the kind of letters we would sit down and read with a cup of tea, full of wisdom, wit, talk about his students, his running, his family, and most of all, his beloved Natalie. And so  I grew attached to Natalie through his letters and I learned she was a strong, but quiet woman. A teacher well loved, mother to three and most recently a new grandmother.

When Russ wrote a few weeks ago to say his beloved had cancer and chemo was not an option, our hearts sank down low. We read between the lines and prayed. I loved what he wrote, "I'm about as close to God as I've ever been [and] I'm able to be the man the love of my life needs as she deals with the loss of so much of her life and quite possibly her life itself."

So the news came this week that Natalie had rallied and there was hope ... but then suddenly worsened and quickly slipped away, surrounded by Russ, the children, friends, and beloved sweet little granddaughter. I'm sure Russ is taking a run on the beach this week, pondering his loss but not asking why, for he told us he would not. Rather his question was "How can I love the people around me through this ... and live like Christ in this ..." and indeed he will, with great Hope ... and total confidence that his beloved is in the presence of God.

Thinking of our friends makes me want to avoid petty things and live each day fully, and with gratitude.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Box Tutorial

This is much easier done in person, but we'll give this tutorial a try. Disclaimer: I used 
a card that was too thick so it was difficult to work with and therefore looks
 a little rough. But I didn't want to do this all over with a better one, so here we go. 
Above: supplies for project.  Click on any photo to enlarge.
You need a perfect square and since most cards are rectangular, you will need to make
 it a square. The easiest way for me to do this is to fold it over as you see and then 
cut along the sides of the triangle. You will see the message side of the card I folded a 
little smaller as the bottom of the box needs to be a bit smaller so the lid will fit on it. 
 As you get experienced, you may want to center your square over the design you want, 
but it's always fun to see what ends up being on the top of your box. Sometimes a sweet 
signature turns up on the bottom of the box !
Your two squares should look like the above.
With your ruler, draw straight lines-a big "X" from one corner 
to the other on the wrong side of the squares.
The folding is the key to the success of the card. It's a little difficult and must 
be precise.  Fold two sides into the center of the square as shown above. 
They should meet exactly at the center.
Fold again as shown above, lining up exactly along pencil line. 
After folding is finished, open card flat. 
Repeat with the other corners, as shown. Fold into center once, and then 
again to line up with pencil lines.  Open flat again. 
Your card should look like this. Now take up your scissors.
Cut along folds to the point of the center four squares as shown. Do this ONLY on 
two corners, not all four. (This is very easy, but maybe the hardest part to explain!) 
Start folding up the non-cut corners into a box.
Crisp your folds and hold your box together as you bring the cut 
corners together and tuck them in place. 
A small piece of tape can hold this together well. As you can see mine is not 
perfect as  it was difficult to fold precisely because of its thickness.  
Now start on the bottom of the box.
It's always fun to see what design ends up featured on the box top. These 
are fun for little pieces of jewelry, to hang on a tree, to stack in a little pile, to use as
 little favors at a tea party, or as a craft to teach young girls --- and so many other 
things you creative ones may come up with. I always look at cards
 I receive now and think if they would make good boxes or not! 
If you have questions don't hesitate to ask!
See this earlier post for a much prettier view of these boxes!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

outside the boxes

Long ago my sister and I learned how to make cute little boxes out of greeting cards.
A lot of folding, a few snips and a piece of tape to steady things
and you have a sweet little box for ... whatever.
 My sis took it a step further when she stamped/decorated card stock, cut out the needed squares and
made larger boxes. I found these tucked away in a drawer at my mom's as we cleaned out.

They just needed to be photographed and played with! Perfect little gift boxes, already "wrapped."
 I hope to do a tutorial on these soon.

Connecting with other mosaics at Mary's Little Red House. Stop by there to see more.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

gone missing

A dozen eggs: missing from my house. I find myself "misplacing" things regularly ... I don't want to dare to guess how much time I've wasted this week looking for lost items. But to lose 12 eggs? That's a bit surreal to me. I don't usually buy eggs at T*r-get, but did the other day for a recipe I was making for a shower brunch. When I went to get them from the frig last night, they weren't there. In fact, I don't actually remember unpacking them from the shopping bags. I checked: All through the frig. The freezer. The cupboards. The trunk of the car. The back seat of the car. The garage. I did not look under the bed, but maybe should have. I retrieved the receipt. Yes, a dozen eggs purchased Feb. 3 at 2:33 pm at the big red dot store.

I remember that as I gathered up my bags and pushed the shopping cart to the lineup at the door of the store, I wondered if the young man lining them up would ever call after someone who had left something in the cart. I don't usually wonder about such things. Did I subconsciously think that because I actually left the eggs in the cart?

Just one of those questions that I'd be best tossing to the wind. And I'm not going to look for the eggs anymore or think about them. Unless I start smelling something.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

the keys

Very soon I must turn over the keys to mom's apartment, thus ending a lifetime of       
 "going home." There's a few things left to remove: remnants of my dad's library, an entertainment center and a cabinet waiting to be shipped to my sister. I'm not minding this stalling of completion of this project of emptying mom's home (she is now in assisted living), for I know there will be a huge "something" missing when I hand over the keys and can no longer go to what has been her home the past six years. Dad never lived there, but his memory is everywhere and has been as I sift through photos, papers, letters and much more. Sometimes I have to shake myself to come back to the present.

My cousin suggested that it is much gentler "breaking up" Mom's home while she is still living, than it would be if she were no longer with us. It's not a final good-bye, for Mom is just around the corner in her little room, surrounded by familiar things. It's homey and pretty, just like all her homes have been.  I open the door and she's there, always welcoming me with a smile, and never complaining about all the changes that have recently come her way. Content to be content, that's my mother. (Oh that I'd learn that ...) So I guess I really can still go "home."

Photo: Mom's balcony view. We'll miss it, but we can see it from another porch when the weather gets warmer.
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