Our book club finally met again, gathered around Lydia Grace's beautiful table on a Sunday afternoon.
Did we need the food? Probably not!
But our gatherings tend to be festive and celebrations of friendship,
and sharing our lives over what we have read together.
We read a memoir, The Exact Place. It touched us all deeply. We discussed the
author's childhood--she grew up poor, and yearning for love from her stepfather.
She writes: "But while courting my step-father, an unexpected grace grew in my heart; I was the one who fell, headlong, for the world around me. The land and its wildlife, the long summer days, the cold winters with glittering nights, the shaggy cows and horses, the frozen lake where some years we could skate for miles on ice so smooth and clear we could see the bottom many feet below, the sing-songy accents of Minnesota speech — all became a part of what I loved, of who I was, of who I am. Work that made sweat and hard muscles, even work that had to be done over and over again, like stacking the woodpile and cutting weeds along the fence line, had a sweetness to it. I loved the daily ritual of feeding a crowd of chickens who waited eagerly for you to dump their oats and mash into the feeders, of gathering eggs so fresh they were still warm in your cupped hand, of throwing slabs of hay over the fence to the horses who nickered to you as they watched. If you take care of animals day after day, see to their well-being, they will change you. You think you are beginning to love them, but in reality they are teaching you to love yourself and your place in the world."
Some of us around the table struggled more with our childhood than others, but we
all believe that in God's loving providence it all was to grow us to who we are today.
Nothing in life is wasted.
Margie concludes: "So it was here, in the midst of glory and brokenness, where I found a
miracle--or at least pretty near to one: it was the thread of redemption that ran through
my childhood, even through dark hours after midnight. If I had been fat with well-being
and contentment I believe I would have missed the love of God that still tracks
through the wilderness heading me toward Home.
I am, I was, in the exact place I needed to be."
There were even recipes tucked here and there in the book.
There are some unusual things about our garden this year. When have our winter pansies ever lasted so long? It must be all the rain and less than usual intense heat. We keep enjoying them. On the other hand, our beloved hydrangeas just aren't cuttin' it this year (no pun intended). Maybe all the rain has dragged them down, though you'd think from their name, they'd be dancing in the rain. They are hanging low, and in one bush, lots of flowerless new growth on top has suddenly appeared (see below by fence.)
Our bird bath is aged and needs to be replaced. But I rather like it's crackly, old personality. We weren't so thrilled when our neighbors a few years ago installed a fence, as it shrunk the park-like look of our back yard. But I have come to love it and it's a beautiful backdrop for a whole new section of garden. If you look closely between the rails you can see bits and pieces of the outdoor kitchen of the little girls next door. All kinds of delicious (mud) pies, cakes, jams and even salad dressings come from that kitchen!
I was 18 when the Gardener and I first met. It was by the mailboxes at college and he asked if I typed papers. I think he was trying to get to know me, too. I guess typing others' papers was a way to make money at college. And it wasn't an easy job before "erasable bond" was invented. I declined. I wasn't too interested in him but as I got to know him in group situations I realized he was only one of two or three guys at school that met my rather high standards of what I was looking for in a husband.
That summer we worked at a day camp run by our college. He drove bus to pick up kids for camp
and the director, his college coach, put me on his bus as "monitor" for the kids. And so it began.
The Gardener is cleaning our ceiling fans today and just got a large bowl down for me from a high cupboard. His 6'6" height is an advantage now just as it was on the basketball court when we were courting. But of course its the stature of his character that I love the most about him. He had a very challenging childhood, and at the age of 12 lost his dad. Maybe that's the reason he has such
a strong faith. Tough times grow us. He had to depend on his Heavenly Father from a young age.
When I grumble and worry, he always pulls me to the right place. He knows from experience that things work out.
He is loving, caring, kind, humble and a true gentleman.
A wonderful, patient husband, an amazing dad, and now a pretty cool grandpa.
And this weekend I want to wish the father of my children a Happy Father's Day.
I made more fruit sticks and we had us a tea party today. Three new neighbor girls and a little church friend and I have been talking about a tea party for some time and it finally happened. With our neighbors' out of town guests, we had six little girls around the table.
What a delight to see all the girls arrive dressed in sweet summer dresses.
Cupcakes, gold fish, fruit ...
Chocolate chip scones with lemon curd and clotted cream ...
Chocolate cakes and chocolate chip biscotti . . .
. . . tea ... and more tea. Some of these girls seemed very familiar with a tea party.
They had cup after cup of Earl Grey Decaf or Raspberry Tea and
knew about lemon curd and clotted cream.
When we cleared the table later I was amazed to see almost everything gone!
These little ladies can eat! And drink tea! I had to make several pots.
And what I chuckled about the most was the empty sugar bowl!
Their poor moms tonight!
Before we ate each girl read a Bible verse from the scroll at her place.
Under each plate there was a question for the girls to answer.
It helped us to get to know each other.
After we ate we learned to make little boxes out of recycled greeting cards.
I was so blessed to have these little girls spend the afternoon with me!
Hmm, let's see, what can I put together here? I was having a tea party for some little girls and wanted to add fruit to the menu, but in a fun way. Could I make it work with what was in the frig? Cantelope, strawberries and blueberries? Sure enough, I found some toothpicks and I carefully sliced the fruit and put it on "mini skewers." I should have checked my email just a tad earlier, but as soon as I finished, I did, and learned that three of the four little girls were stranded out of town with a sick mama so had to cancel.
Never mind, we're trying it again this week. Meanwhile, I thought my little fruit charmers turned out . . . well, . . . charming. And when the grand Little Ones came over this week they had more fun eating their fruit!
Thomas Jefferson needed to get out of town as the enemy was after him. Monticello was too well known so he retreated from Richmond (a mere three-day trip by horse and buggy; today at 90-minute drive) to a property owned by his father-in-law where a small cabin awaited him. Poplar Forest, VA.
After the death of his wife's father, Jefferson took ownership of the extensive grounds (I think about 600 acres) and began to run the farms and build a house that reminds one of Monticello, though a smaller and simpler version. And he went there when he could, as he aged, often accompanied by his 12 grandchildren. This is what he said about it:
"I have fixed myself comfortably, keep some books here, bring others occasionally, am in the solitude of a hermit, and quite at leisure to attend to my absent friends."
A few years after his death, Jefferson's son sold the property and changes were made over the years. Today lovers of history are painstakingly restoring the property to what it was in Jefferson's day. They are "rescuing the retreat."
When I visited, I found it a retreat for me ... even if only for a couple of hours. Fascinating history, architecture, beautiful grounds and a soft breeze on a warm day ... if I had been there on my own, I could easily have chosen to spend the entire day just gazing at the views. As it was, I came away refreshed.