Friday, October 22, 2010


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who

Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.
(From the Anglican Book of Common Prayer)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sometimes I respond with lengthy comments on other people's blogs, as I did today on Thinking Housewife. I thought it might be good to re-post my comments here on my own blog, because I think the subject is worthy of expression here. I dedicate these words to any who may read them, the believers, those who are looking for a reason to believe, and for those friends who may have lost their way.

I personally have no problem with the miracles and unprecedented circumstances surrounding the life of Christ. Jesus said His believers would do the things He did on earth and even greater things, and I have witnessed many a miracle, myself. In fact, miracles just seem to be what happens where true belief exists and faith is walked out in the nitty gritty details of life. As one Anglican bishop said of answered prayer and seeing God’s hand, “These may be mere coincidences, but the more I pray, the more they seem to occur.”
Are we the most deluded, and therefore the most to be pitied for it? Even if that were true, I have had, so far, a wonderful, hope-filled existence by being such a believing rube! In fact, God through Jesus has not only given me life, but the gift of being amused by my own life. God is the divine comic, and since all comedies have happy endings, we can be confident and content with our beginning, the middle, and our end.
Jesus also tells us of a common sense way to discern whether He is the truth. He reminds us that a tree is known by its fruit. Fig trees produce figs, not brambles, good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit. Where folks undergo a true conversion, they truly change, and the good fruit their lives produce testifies that God is real and really working through them and on their behalf.
Seeing creation itself, and God’s hand in my own life and in the lives of real people I have personally known, also removes the problem of evolution, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth, and all the rest. A God who witnesses to Himself through this incredible creation, and who can redeem the most desperate, failed lives through His son, Jesus Christ, would have no problem making all the physical universe in six days if that’s what He wanted to do, or however He wanted to, with evolution, adaptation, or whatever. I really don’t see what the big deal is about that. Are we still such children that we think we have it all figured out? That there isn’t any more to know than what is known at present? Are we like the head of the U.S. Patent Office, who in the 1860’s quit his position because he said that there was now nothing left to be invented?
Maybe a lot of folks are so disheartened that they cannot fathom a God who would be so loving and personally involved that He could create them and wish to give them eternal life through His Son. I would just challenge any of those people to suspend their disbelief for a couple of days and just go with it, and see if their lives do not dramatically change. I know their lives will change because I know that God will show up.
Now I confess that I do enjoy all the traditions, the ritual, the liturgical seasons, the traditionalist culture, the art and ethics of a civilization that was once Christ-infused, but these are truly just dividends on the stock which is ridiculously rising all the time, that is, that the Holy Trinity exists, and that in Him we live and move and have our being.
That is why you will find me plodding along, in spite of a misstep or two along each day’s way, as I feebly attempt to lift high and carry the banner of Christ along the dusty streets of life.


As the temperature finally eases off a bit from it's usual setting - hot, life becomes a lot more enjoyable. The roses finally feel well enough to bloom and we are starting to think of ourselves more as people and less as insect prey. In fact, one can even open the back door and go out without a fly making it his business to come in!

But the fact that we are in between air conditioning season and heating season makes this a most glorious time!  The possibility of us saving a buck or two right now is a Godsend.  So this is about the only time I'll get till next spring to have the windows open, and therefore its time to do some fall cleaning, and maybe a little painting.

I have started to brush down ceilings and walls. Next comes cleaning out cupboards and closets, then its washing windows and curtains, woodwork, cleaning and polishing furniture, and finally washing and polishing floors.  Did I leave anything out?  Oh, probably. And that is just inside the house.

Bob already got most of the junk out of the garage. I am really proud of him. I would love to get it completely empty, then repaint and finish the floor and paint that, so it can be hosed down and mopped up at times. Boy, do I ever want a lot! I will be satisfied with just taking the shop vac to it every week for now.  After all, we still have to take care of yard/garden issues.

That will be simple enough. The garden has to be tilled under, we have to throw some grass seed around the yard, and put down some more mulch in the flower beds. Well, maybe move two rose bushes which do not get enough sun where they are right now.

Why do people ever say they are bored or do not have enough to do?  I mean, I don't even work full time, and I don't have small children, just big people and small monsters who pass themselves off as cats and the dog.  What I have just told you I have to accomplish does not even include the usual cooking, baking, entertaining, church work, and writing.  But really, compared to the ER nurses with little kids at home, the mothers who run marathons when they are not running their companies or in court prosecuting cases, or the teachers who tend bar on the weekends, I am a complete slug. (But really, where do these women come from, I mean, what planet?).

Well, so, I am not a person making big bucks or big waves, but perhaps I can impress you with my next venture. I am taking up alchemy.  I may not be able to turn lead into gold yet, but I plan to turn 300 dollars into Christmas for my family this year. A Christmas far more glorious than grand, for sure, but with God's help, its going to happen, and I bet the people I want to bless will be no more miserable than they are when I have spent thousands, and no less happy, either! Maybe more happy. Maybe happy as the little Who's from Who-ville. Now that would be turning lead into gold.


Thursday, September 30, 2010


We are in the middle of a deluge of rain from two different systems which came one right after another. It was warm, weird and very wet out today. I snapped these two pics last night before I snapped up a plateful of goodness, so here they are.

Sweet red peppers with Italian bread and anchovy stuffing

The typical salad served at my house several times a week.

I hope everyone is safe and dry this evening, as we say good-bye to September - already!! I can scarcely believe it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Tiny crab apples against the background of the dying garden
Some things have begun their inevitable decay as we now find ourselves in the dying of the year. The garden, tired and overgrown, yet produces some tomatoes, peppers, green beans and herbs, for which I am most thankful. Is it a metaphor to say that we, who have left youth behind and are steadily on our own inexorable march have still yet something to offer, some fruit to produce? I like to think of life being like that. Some of these garden offerings didn't even begin to take off until the intense heat of summer was over. Now that's an analogy to ponder!
Roses from my flower beds

As you might guess from reading any of this blog, I am a person quite in tune with the seasons and the mysteries of the natural world. I like to decorate the house seasonally, change out furnishings, and eat what is in season. I think it is very healthy and rewarding to live according to the natural rhythms of life. There is a time and a place to do everything, and this especially is good for children and for those whose emotions have been strained, or are otherwise under some kind of pressure. Wouldn't people and society in general be more well-adjusted if they got up with the sun and went to bed at a reasonable hour, so that their bodies could repair themselves at the optimum time for doing so? For more information on this topic and many related to it, click here

I also think this would improve our shared life, since people would feel better and thus be more productive and less anti-social. Couples would be in bed together instead of one surfing the web while the other falls asleep in front of the TV. There would just be a lot less trouble for folks to get into, and a lot less money spent on foolishness.

The season we are now in lends itself to settling down earlier anyways. Fall is the time that the outward turns inward. We gather the harvest in, we bring the lawn furniture and trappings of summer in for the winter, we ourselves settle in due to shorter days and cooler temperatures. I happen to love this. Today is a dark and rainy day, so I've got my electric candles on in the windows and a Yankee candle burning in here. The fragrance is called Farmers Market and its pretty yummy. I made my hubby his good Irish oatmeal, and I know what I am making for supper tonight. 

This is when I start using my oven again and I have an old recipe that I will be making.It is an Italian dish that my mother used to make in the fall when the big, red sweet peppers are at their finest. I stuff them and bake them with a stuffing that has a bit of anchovy in it - you cannot really tell what it is but it makes it delicious. (Please do not mention this to the kids, OK? In all these years, they haven't found out about the anchovies or the chicken feet I use when I make up some serious chicken broth). It is baked with a bit of red sauce covering it, then we add a little more along with some grated Parmesan, at the table. I will probably just serve this with a really crisp Romaine salad.
Tomorrow perhaps I can update this post with a picture of the stuffed peppers. I definitely should have taken a pic of the golumpki from Bob's birthday supper last week. Another oven dish that turned out so nicely.

Here are some other things going on in my home this week:

The roses pictured here are cut from my beds - I went out early yesterday morning and dead-headed several, and picked these beauties to grace my counter. I love the way they smell - there is just nothing quite so special as fresh roses, in my view.

We finally got our youngest over to the eye doc for a check up and new contacts. That is a load off my mind. His eyes have not changed - another good thing! We don't have to replace his glasses which he uses when he is at home, and just need to buy contacts. We went to a new place that opened, called America's Best Eyeglasses and Contacts; they charge 99 dollars, which covers a yearly eye exam for three years, with additional exams (say, for an eye infection) as necessary. Then they give you a discount on the contacts/glasses. We also paid an extra 15 dollars so that our son could get the exam where they look behind the eyes without having to dilate them (a new process, I guess). Awesome!

I am trying to set up the same son for his SAT test. He doesn't want to take this, so we are having a little back and forth about it. He is wonderful student, taking college preparatory courses but he hasn't sold himself on the idea of actually going to college. So this needs prayer and discernment for all involved.

My friend JoAnn is going on a woman's retreat at our church this weekend and so I am involved with doing something on her behalf which I am not at liberty to discuss right now, just in case she reads this post!
I reorganized my freezer and shelves of canned goods (out in the garage), and inventoried these along with the pantry so I knew exactly where I stood before going to the commissary yesterday and bringing back tons of supplies. It had been awhile since I was able to do this, and it was just such a blessing to be able to finally get there and restock.  Now I can bake and do everything I have been planning on. In the process of going through stuff, I also was able to put together several bags of  food for the food bank. From what I read in our paper, it is in dire need of donations right now, with even folks who used to donate to it having to line up to ask for food from it!!

So I gathered some cans of things I had bought in case we had that hurricane, and also took one of everything that we had two of, and put those in the bags. I felt that the Lord was specifically instructing me to do that, so it felt good to be obedient to His call.

As well as food, I have a large bag of clothing to donate, probably across the street at the Salvation Army. Some things that are too big (yay), and some stuff of the boys'. I will do this today, as yesterday I had the pleasure of going shopping with my grown daughter and son, and she drove her car, so my errands are waiting till today.

I also applied for a couple of jobs - a time consuming experience, for sure. 

Monday night I picked beans, basil and hot peppers from the garden and made a wonderful, hot and spicy vegetable soup with chicken broth, the aforementioned veggies, onions, fresh parsley, garlic, crushed tomatoes, chunks of chicken, sea salt, and acine de pepe pasta. I have been having allergy problems which affect my sinuses, and boy does that kind of soup (especially spiced up with those fresh off the vine, little red peppers) minister to my condition!

Yesterday, upon taking inventory, I saw that for some reason I had two opened boxes of whole wheat rotini pasta, and I knew I had some chicken breast meat left over from the night before, so I made a pasta and chicken salad with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, broccoli, carrot, green and red pepper, parsley, and my homemade mayonnaise. I served the leftover soup alongside this, with Italian bread.

See, this is why none of them can stay mad at me for long. They get hungry, and that's when I get them, ha, ha!

I am going to a young college lady today in math and also help her with her report which she has to present in front of her English class. I am actually looking forward to that, more so than I  am in doing some more weekly housecleaning chores. But once I get going in them, I tend to not want to stop, so its all good!

Now I am off to start those chores, so I will end this tale of a happy housewife here. Lord willing, to be continued..................
View from the front porch

Thursday, September 23, 2010


At breakfast this morning, putting on that little smile for the camera

Oh Bob, I really appreciate the fact that I have you in my life and that you eat (mostly) whatever I put in front of you with no complaints (99% of the time). I finally have gotten you to eat oatmeal in the morning and so I try to serve you the finest Irish oatmeal with real maple syrup because the king of the castle should have his kingly gruel. Also, it lowers cholesterol and maple syrup has hardly any fructose in it, which is also helpful in avoiding diabetes.

So yes, I have known you lo these many years and you just keep getting better and better. This is easy for you, considering the first time I laid eyes on you I was a little girl and you and your brother were dropping ice balls on my father's car as we passed under the bridge near my house. I watched you running away as my father and brother set off on foot to try to catch you, and knew you were a bad boy, but little did I know you would someday become my bad boy!

You don't look like such a bad boy now, do you?

I could say that time has tamed you, but I'd rather think that love has. Thank you for being my true love, and thank you for given me five beautiful children - four wild boys, and one wild girl. Now let's go get that chuck roast that is on sale at the store and have them grind it up so I can make you your favorite - galumpkis - not sure if that's how it's spelled but it means stuffed cabbage rolls. And after that, we'll do your favorite thing, which is to wander through the aisles at the Home Depot. You deserve a speed boat, a new Camaro and so many other things, but thanks for settling for Home Depot and me.

Friday, September 17, 2010


So often the gifts we get come wrapped up in a shoddy disguise, so that a careless person might not recognize them for what they are.

In the past few weeks, while I have gone through the doctor visits, the surgery on my face wherein the kindly surgeon removed a basal skin cancer tumor and a goodly chunk of tissue, and my self-imposed sequestering due to my funny looking face, I have been marveling at the gifts I have been given.

Have you ever gone through a period of time when you just didn't want to have to do anything outside your front door? I mean, even things that you enjoy and signed up for? You don't want to quit them entirely, but you just wish you could have a guilt-free break? Well, I am taking a guilt-free (well, as guilt-free as an Italian Catholic can ever be) break. From my little part-time job of cleaning the church, from the choir, from the other ministry meetings, and from running the roads altogether. And last Sunday, still with a monstrous bandage, I stayed home from mass and a dear friend brought Communion to me at home.

Ah, peace and tranquility. And naps, including the option of going back to bed in the morning after my son leaves for school. I am seven days post-op and hoping to milk this for seven more. Am I terrible? Maybe so, but I have dutifully refrained from my generation's mantra of "if it feels good, do it", for lo some forty-plus years. Now I am finally taking a sip of  the nectar of self-indulgence. Yummy. But also very interesting when you consider that we all have projects and interests that usually we neglect because we don't have time to do them.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the great crab apple escapade. I had washed them up really well due to this gray stuff that gets all over rooftops, sides of houses and tree fruit. Its just a film of dark patches, but it was on the crab apples. So I washed and rubbed them in water, vinegar, peroxide and more water and sealed them up in gallon bag and refrigerated them. Well, I didn't have time to process them before my surgery but a few days ago I did. See?

The Ball Blue Book was my mom's (from about the time I was in high school).
It is as delicious as it is pretty.

I also picked about two dozen granny smith apples off my little tree in the back yard, and baked a pie with some of them. And yesterday, we took on the onerous job of cutting out all the coupons that have been piling up all summer from the Sunday papers. That job was a natural offshoot of the primary job of going through things that had built up in the bookcase I keep in the kitchen.

Other good things have happened in the kitchen this past week. I straightened and organized my pantry closet and my freezer. We have had the big freezer unplugged all summer and have been disciplining ourselves to only buy and keep what would fit into the one that is part of the refrigerator.

Where I live, they raise the electricity rates in the summer to capitalize on people using their air conditioning, so therefore it makes sense not to keep a freezer running out in the hot garage during this time. When they lower the rates on October 1st, I will probably stock up some meats from the farm. They are from organically raised, free-range, pasture-fed stock. More expensive than the supermarket stuff, but, hey I don't gamble, smoke, go to the beauty salon or spend much on my wardrobe, so I think it's OK.

Now with staying out of the stores and having the food organized, I have been putting together lots of good meals and treats with what's on hand. Its good to use up your stuff a couple of times a year.

Yesterday, for example, there were five people here around lunchtime, so I whipped up a smoothie from this mix/frozen fruit pack I had gotten on sale awhile back. I mixed a raw farm egg in with that and some almond milk. They didn't know about the egg, so don't say anything. Then I pulled out a container of chili that I had frozen last July, made with my garden tomatoes and peppers. I heated that up, and made a green salad, and that was lunch.

I had been saving this frozen package of homemade pasta that I had bought from the mom and pop Italian store when I visited back home last month. So last night I boiled that up and served it with a "sauce" I made from diced bacon pieces, olive oil, onions, garlic, some pieces of fresh broccoli and carrots all sauteed together, to which I added basil, oregano, parsley, hot pepper flakes, shredded mozzarella and grated locatelli cheese. Another tossed salad accompanied that, and we called it supper.

Now today after blogging, I plan to start filling up some giveaway bags. Ever since watching a couple shows on TV about people hoarding so much stuff in their homes that they become unable to function, I have become more motivated to really look around this place and see the clutter that I've become used to "not seeing". The beginning of fall is a great time to take stock of everything, isn't it? The weather is turning cooler, we make the transition to warmer clothes, we want to change the decor and clean things up outside, and prepare the garden beds for winter. It is the perfect time now to purge everything that needs it, and then clean and polish up the house and furnishings for our wonderful holidays and cozy time indoors.

So, in conclusion, I do not wish a patch of skin cancer on you, but I do hope you will make the most of everything that comes your way, realizing that "... we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." I hope that is you, my friend.

The best thing to come out of all of this, I have saved for last. I have never been one to bask in the sun, but I am fair skinned and have had a couple of bad sunburns in the past. That's all it takes, apparently. The sun is wonderful and what we need to do is to build up our exposure to it in small increments day by day, allowing ourselves to have a light tan. No extremes, no "baking" out there, and judiciously using protective hats and clothing, which in itself is another reason for modest dressing!

I say all this to explain that skin cancer was not on my radar. Once this happened, it caused me to laser focus on someone very precious to me who does sunbathe, has spent a fair amount of time in tanning booths, and very little time at the doctor's since she does not have health insurance. Well, I insisted she go to the dermatologist because she also has a lot of moles. He didn't charge much and I was happy to pay for it for her. Well, it turns out she has a mole on the side of her breast which the doctor says has to come off. He stared at that thing for the longest time and said, "I don't think it's malignant, but when I have to scrutinize something that long to convince myself that it's not, then it needs to come off". This is really scary because he had just finished telling us about a girl he is treating whose melanoma has spread into her lymph nodes. She is 16 years old! May Jesus have mercy!

So it's off to the plastic surgeon. Please pray with me that this is something that will also turn out for the good, that it will not be malignant, but will make this dear person wake up to a lot of things in her own life that need to be purged or that need to be spruced up!

Here ends the tale of the basal skin cancer cells with silver linings, but I urge you to go for the gold and take care of yourself and your skin!

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I am trying to think of everything that I might possibly need to do before tomorrow night when Hurricane Earl passes by. Right now, he is indicating that he'll keep his distance like a gentleman, but you never know what might happen in the next 24 hours. So I have gone into full battle mode with my preparations. We are stocked up on non-perishable food, alternate lighting supplies, a generator, extra gas for it, a full can of propane for the grill, batteries, water storage and my Berkey light (a water filter so effective that you could put pond water in it and come out with absolutely pristine drinking water), paper plates, cups, towels, flatware, plastic bags, cars all gassed up, supplies for the pets, first-aid and meds. I always go way overboard and you might ask yourself why.

Why, indeed! I assure you, the most compelling reasons are that I am rather obsessive-compulsive, eccentric, and always up for a little drama, and that is the plain truth.  And you just never know if and when the real deal may befall us. And then we'll be ready to shelter and care for the seven of us, and maybe even be a benefit to our neighbors. You see, at the end of our little nub of a neighborhood sit we on a little mound that is 18 feet above sea level. Not impressive in the least until you consider that pretty much everything else in town is either at sea level or below (for real). So that means that unless we are directly hit by a catastrophic hurricane, we will not flood; however, it also means that we become an island. Nobody in, nobody out. Unless we float. 

Is it mere coincidence that we also have a canoe and two little rubber boats? Well, what do you think? But what we would most likely do is stay put for awhile, and carry on till things normalize or the Lord comes back. And I wouldn't be surprised to see either of those two things occur within about a week.

Now, tomorrow, I plan to scrub the bathtubs really well and before bed, I will fill them with water, which is standard practice whenever we are facing one of these storms. That way, you at least have some washing up water you can access if the power fails long enough for us to lose water pressure in the faucets. I also need to run a bunch of canning jars through the dishwasher so that they can be accessed in the unfortunate even of needing to cook up and can a bunch of food before it spoils.  Also, I will want to vacuum everywhere and make sure everything else that can and should be laundered is done and dried before the storm hits. And of course dishes done and kitchen cleaned for the night, early. 
I made this little rule up because about ten years ago, I had made an enormous turkey dinner the night that a hurricane hit us, and was forced to greet the newly imposed stone age with a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and a washer and dryer full of wet and mostly wet clothes, respectively. I also had a wallet that was, lets just say, below sea level itself, and a houseful of highly spirited children, five of my own and two that were left in my care for about ten days. Needless to say, the day after the hurricane was hot, sweaty, exhausting and seemed to last for about two years! I was very discouraged, but out of that dark pit, vowed like Scarlet O'Hara digging through the dirt for that spare potato, that ah would nevah be in that position again!!

So yeah, kids grow up and so did I, but just a bit. I now know enough to get things in order ahead of time, keep the menu a bit more tame tomorrow, and just simply give myself permission to relax for the duration. But I do hope we get a bit of a show from Mother Nature and Mr. Earl, though I hope everyone on the east coast is kept under God's protection, no matter what.

After that, I hope we can get down to business and break out the fall decorations without breaking into a sweat. Happy September!

Friday, August 27, 2010


Summer Kitchen - Buy at

Here we are, rounding the last corner of summer, in order to head straightway towards fall. My bean patch went wild with growth all summer but did not produce a single bean until this week. Yesterday I picked a pound. Kind of reminds me of the Yankees, who always seem to not take things seriously until they are almost done for, but who suddenly wake up and begin to produce at the next to last minute. Thus, the beans may end up the pennant winners of my garden this year. We'll see.

And kind of like me, who decides a half hour past my bedtime to begin a new post. Here I sit, looking like the last rose of summer and tired as August's last onion, but feeling exceedingly grateful for all my blessings. And grateful for all of yours, whether or not you know about them.  The fact is, if I have the time, electricity, and ability to sit and write this, and you have a way, and the ability to read this, then I would say we are both blessed, wouldn't you? The Internet is the oracle, bringing much of what has ever been known or discovered along with all of our stories right into all our homes, and we are just the happy go lucky recipients of all of it. Wow!

But tonight I am also thankful for some pretty good lab results, and (not necessarily in the correct order) for my four cats, the dog, the faithful high school sweetheart who is still hanging around my living room just as he first did in 1970 when I was fresh out of tenth grade, for my beautiful children, and for all the work I have to do. Especially tonight, I am thankful for the work.

Tonight I rejoice that tomorrow there are floors to be swept and mopped, bathrooms to be cleaned, furniture to be dusted, and a front porch to be swept. I know that with time, soap, water, a few tools and my effort, I can make this place shine and sparkle for the weekend. Some people have no home, some are grieving, some are laying weak and still in a hospital bed, so many are alone, but I am blessed to have a home, a family, and the physical ability to work every bit as hard as I could when I was twenty. Probably more so, considering what a little princess I was back then! Yeesh!

And isn't it wonderful how God can still change and grow us no matter how old we get? For instance, I used to be so overwhelmed with knowing that I could not finish all my work or projects, so in a sense, I was never really done at the end of the day, or ever.  So I would just work myself all up into a tizzy or else just kind of drop out and not attempt much of anything. Finally, I am realizing that life is a process and when we show up for it every day and give things a good try, then we have been successful.

So I think that we should be happy with ourselves when we know we've tried our best, and when we haven't, we should just ask God to help us be better, and then forgive ourselves and start again in the morning. So in the morning, I hope to get up early enough to make my 30 minute Irish oatmeal, load it up with berries and walnuts, a dab of butter, some milk and a spoonful of maple syrup, and delight myself in the awesomeness of it all. Then I'll head off to clean the church, and return to clean the domestic church, our house.

And then of course, there are the late summer food chores to be undertaken. I have a huge zucchini squash still sitting on the counter, half of which I might cook and mash with butter and have for lunch along with some leftover rotisserie chicken and cold Bartlett pears, ripe to perfection at this moment. Now the other half of the squash will make a healthy batch of sweet zucchini bread, some to have at tomorrow's afternoon coffee break, and some to freeze.

I also have a bag full of crabapples, which I spied in the large yard surrounding an old farmhouse. Because I am a shameless peasant, and my friend JoAnn, another shameless peasant, was with me in the car (we had just come back from getting some eggs from a farm down the road), I backed up, pulled into the driveway, knocked on the door and asked the lovely lady who answered it if she'd mind me picking a few crab apples. She seemed surprised and said, "Are those any good to eat?"

"They might make some good jelly", I weakly responded, as if I wasn't sure myself. As if!! I simply did not want to seem too enthusiastic, lest she decide to hoard them for herself and take up jelly-making on the spot.  I should not have worried about that, however. It turns out Renee (she was generous enough to offer her name along with the crab apples) has a real job and a real career doing some kind of social work at the children's hospital and thus probably hasn't the time to make jelly, and certainly neither the time nor inclination to drive around spying out lonely fruit in the yards of strangers, like some people I know.

So Jo and I jumped at the chance. I took the egg cartons out of the plastic bag they were in, and used that for the crab apples. As we were finishing, JoAnn mused as how she would have loved it if the lady had a fig tree too, for that is what she truly had a hankering for: ripe figs. Well, I thought this was rather nervy of her to go wishing for something else for free when here we already were getting something for free, and for figs of all things! Perhaps I should just wish for a money tree, then, hmm? But all I said was, "Yeah, uh-huh".

Well, guess what? As we came back to the car in the driveway, what should we behold, but a large fig tree!
I should have guessed as much, because those old farmsteads pretty much had everything but a super Walmart growing around them back in the day. Well, JoAnn got really excited, and all I said was, "Well that is wonderful, Jo-jo, and when you knock on the door to thank Renee for the crab apples, you can ask her if you can a have a couple of figs". And she did!

And Renee said,  "Why sure! You can have all you want because we don't eat them at all!" What a doll. God sure does make some cool people.

And that is just another example of how ridiculously blessed we are and most of the time we forget to notice. Because wasn't He simply awesome to plant that hankering in my friend's head probably exactly 120 years after He planted the fig tree right where she could see it a century or so later?  Well, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that JoAnn was effusive in her thanks, but I just smiled, and all I said to Renee was, "Do you have a bag, then?"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Our cousin's pond, upstate NY
Summer is rich, heavy, heady and full of herself, but now, almost imperceptibly, she is beginning to go to seed. Sort of like women of a certain age when they are just past the height of their female prowess, but not quite ready to quit the party and go home.  Oh, sort of like this one, I suppose................................................

Yours truly in front of the courthouse at Arlington, VT.

Our trip up north was everything I needed it to be, that is, it was everything. The buildings, the mountains, the meadows, the family, friends and food, the otherness of the place were fresh rain on my arid soul.

There stood the mountains all around us, wise and cloaked with deep green vestments, standing solemn and sober as judges, bearing upon their shoulders the weighty judgments of the sky and clouds.


Not to be outdone by their unshakable elder brothers, the meadow flowers perfectly expressed so many of the scriptures which speak of the small and weak things being chosen to lead, the humble who shall be exalted, as indeed I will exalt them here, although fittingly, in small pictures:

And here they adorn the ancient feet of a shagbark hickory tree.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Last, but certainly not least, was the joy I got in visiting with so many of the relatives and friends. From the matriarch of my husband's family, Aunt Erna (age 93), to my brother, a whole passel of cousins, and childhood and church friends, there was no shortage of sweet fellowship.Our many thanks to our hostess, Merridy. We love you!

We are back home now, the party is over, and we are back to meet the remaining heat head-on, as well as doctor appointments, bills to pay, back to school and all the reality of the grown-up world. I had my birthday up home, and if you would really like to know how I felt about getting one more year older, and with it all the challenges and uncertainty of life, well this picture should suffice................

It was homemade hot-fudge ice cream cake, after all.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Also, I do not recognize any of the homes in which said photos were taken. Not my house, nor the homes of any of my friends. Thank God, again. Why am I posting this picture? I really do not know, except that staying up too late is conducive to posting dubious stuff on the Internet.

But let's examine what is going on here a bit, because it is interesting. Firstly, we can assume that someone, or ones who have access to my computer, was at this party (and many others, judging by the many happy group shots I find interspersed with pictures of my garden or my applesauce, or images of fine art I have pilfered from

So yes, obviously there are young people of my very close acquaintance who like to indulge in this kind of behavior. Perhaps I shouldn't be admitting this to the outside world. I don't care, I am outing them officially, right here on my ladies' blog. And revealing something of my life as well. You had to know it was not all pickles.

Here is the pathetic part: just look at the bright, young faces, full of joy and camaraderie and Budweiser beer.
It seems these are the only times they feel truly alive and happy.  Because, trust me, most of the time when I see young people, they just look kind of dull and uncomfortable. Bored. Sad. Surly. What is so unnatural about life today that makes most people, not just young ones, so downright miserable with reality that they cannot stand to be in it?

Weirder still, is the way they still all look so fresh and innocent.  It is as if they are saying, "Hey, look at us! Isn't it great??  We all just finished playing tag and having our milk and cookies, and now its time to risk arrest and a car accident!!  In truth, it wasn't that long ago that they were big fans of Sponge Bob and pajamas with feet. 

And they look this way, because in a sense, they are still innocent, at least of the knowledge of the long term effects of  their decisions, made in careless youth.

But as the saying goes, "Sin in haste, repent in leisure".

I am really hoping that kids are just going through a phase and they will find their balance and go on to live productive, meaningful lives. Am I taking these pictures too seriously? I happen to know that some of the people who read this blog will think so, and some will be absolutely appalled, at them and also at me, for writing about this calmly and not going absolutely berserk on my young people. Well, I have. It helped some.

Some things I cannot prevent so I must detach where that is appropriate, and suffer where it is not. But I can make sure that my refrigerator continues to stay out of the party pictures, and in fact, I can keep the pictures off my computer, though I cannot keep revelers out of my heart. So I will continue to admonish, set firm boundaries, and pray for them. Please pray for them, too, and for me.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Late Summer Grazing
 Late Summer Grazing
Late Summer Grazing
Available at:
Gudmundsen Fine Art Studio

As the days become sodden with the sweet, syrupy warmth of full-on summer, life, even with air conditioning, melts into slow-motion. Every aspect of what I thought I understood is now a slightly out-of-focus, sun-drenched dream. Again.

For the past few years, I have worked from early spring to right about now in a fast-paced, heavy workloaded, deadline driven job, which pushes, pushes, pushes us workers right up until the last day when, poof, the work is over, all-at-once, and we are swept out of there with a sincere thank-you and a "here's your hat, what's your hurry, please remember to leave your badge at the front desk" boot to the butt.

We inevitably wander, somewhat disoriented, out into the blinding sun and heat of the parking lot, which at this time of year resembles the surface of the planet Mercury, struggling to breathe in and spout out a few parting words to our colleagues, saying that we look forward to seeing each other again next spring.  Well, we do want to see each other again, but more than one heart holds the hope that the reunion will occur in a grand hotel ballroom that one of us has somehow managed to become rich enough to rent out for the entire, catered evening. I, for one, harbor the hope that my great wit and timeless beauty have somehow landed me some kind of meaningful, lucrative life without ever having had to learn Excel.

Oh, my, but it's time to get out of the sun and into the air-conditioned car to head back home.

And once there, I am no longer the accurate, effectively working bearer of the paycheck. It turns out that family folks and other folks now see me for what I am:  heat waves coming up through the blacktop. Just when I thought I had transformed myself into a refreshing pool of water, it turns out I am a mirage. I step back into my hidden world, and become invisible.

But home is so important to me. It is there that I get a chance to really think about things, to pursue my eccentric little projects, and to seek my refuge. I am cleaning out shelves and drawers and going through neglected paperwork. Sounds like drudgery but it is so rewarding to take stock of things and put the house to rights.

Also, there has been a good bit of produce to deal with from the garden.  I have made salsa, gazpacho, tons of spaghetti sauce, and am currently making some crock pickles, which are called cinnamon bark or ripe cucumber pickles. These will be especially good in cooler weather when we eat heavier, oven-cooked meals and want a little accompaniment that is sweet and tangy to go with the meal. I have made some dill refrigerator pickles and want to make some regular bread and butter pickles with cucumbers and some with zucchini, as well. And more stuffed zucchini. And zucchini bread. Seeing a pattern here?

I also have a dozen or so quarts of various fruit cordials "cooking". They will be done around the first of October.

Hay Wagon
Available at:
Gudmundsen Fine Art Studio

Now don't think that all I've done is work, because I have already done a fair share of lolling around the house, too, and floating and gabbing away in my friend JoAnn's pool. Definitely need a little more of that this coming week.  She lives right across the street so it is easy to bop on over.

Above all else, it is time for some spiritual housekeeping. I feel as though I have been flying by the seat of my pants and have neglected "the weightier matters". Time to take some spiritual rest and nourishment in the Word and in prayer. This is very important for all of us, either when we have been so busy with work or have taken a big vacation to the world, which summer can sometimes be.

It is August. A time when the U.S. government would virtually close up shop in days gone by. Sensible days gone by. Time to come in out of the hot sun and take a siesta. Have a glass of sweet tea or lemonade. Sit on the porch after supper and watch the fireflies come out. Give yourself time to think. Rich, robust August. A time to take a quieter path.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Those are echinacea flowers, or straw flowers. Yes you consume this plant to ward off colds, and yes it is growing in one of my front flower beds. The vegetable gardens, like my children, have gone absolutely wild and seem to be all the better for it. My Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans and squash is just as delighted to be here as if an old Indian squaw had planted them instead of this old white squaw.

What I try to do is to make the soil as rich as possible, snuggle the plants and seeds in there all nice and cozily, and then let them grow as they will, creating their own barrier against weeds as they spread shade and crowd them out. And since I share the yard with a beagle and two of the cats, I have various little plots spread about, and fenced in. So here is a tour of my somewhat mixed up but (I think) lovely, growing things...

This is a side view of the three sisters, along with their friends, the heirloom tomatoes (Juliet, Ox Heart, Abe Lincoln and one or two others whose names escape me right now), basil, Italian parsley, and green peppers.

Granny Smith Apple Tree:

The pic above is another little garden, full to overflowing with two tomato plants (also heirlooms from last year) that volunteered to grow from seed this year, pickling cucumbers, tabasco peppers and chili peppers. The cucumbers will not be restrained and are overtaking their boundaries, reaching out to a volunteer pumpkin (or maybe its some other squash) growing just outside the plot, and threatening to mix it up with another pumpkin and some cantaloupes, fenced in a few feet away. I will show it to you now, and I think you can click on these.

And now, for some of the flowers....

And me, finally taking a bit of Sunday rest. To be continued....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

 Disappointment surely comes to all the living, sometimes quite often, indeed.  But I find it helpful to acknowledge the feeling, allow myself to experience a bit of grief, and then with God's help to get the heck out of there. Either I give some thought to various ways I might redeem the situation, or if its something that cannot be fixed, I start looking ahead in different directions and seek out new opportunities.

Sometimes something we thought was coming to us does not come after all. Plans get canceled, opportunities are lost through a misunderstanding, people do not do or simply cannot be what we want them to do or be.
Hope is such a tenuous, fragile thing, and so easily dashed, isn't it?

And if we're not careful to guard against it, we might be embarrassed and take ourselves to task for being so foolish as to believe in something that didn't materialize for us. I would urge that we do not berate ourselves this way, lest we become cynical, bitter or despairing.  To live in those attitudes is to live less and less.

That is why we must pass through each denizen of disappointment in a brisk walk and not loiter. It is the seedy part of town and though we cannot avoid passing through it from time to time, yet we must never stop long enough to get stuck there. Wallowing in the hurt will eventually bind us into a type of mental and emotional slavery.  Better to keep our eyes fixed on what lies ahead, just beyond our disappointment, and walk steadily on.

Besides, sometimes when things don't go our way, there are cosmic though perhaps, presently hidden reasons why things fell through. Things happened this way for our benefit. If you love the Lord, or are at least open to the possibility of relationship with Him, you can be sure that He has a perfect plan for you, "for I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord, "plans for a future and a hope". And lastly, remember that "all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose".

Sometimes God withholds the good from you, in order that He may give you the best. I wish you the best tonight and I pray that you will wake up tomorrow, ready once again to say yes to all the possibilities.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Nap in the Afternoon

Lullaby, by Trisha Romance

Babies aren't the only ones who need them. Being home and having the opportunity to rest for a bit during the hottest part of the day is one of the true joys of life - in fact it makes life civilized. I am very proud and grateful to be an American but am I the only one of us who is not ashamed of saying that I sometimes indulge myself in a bit of rest? I am not a lazy person, but after a respectable amount of work, I sometimes need to recharge. But that is considered shameful, isn't it?

What is up with our incessant drive to do more, produce more, take on more and more volunteer work, (and make sure we brag about it) and push ourselves on and on until somebody ends up with a stress-induced autoimmune disease, or carpel tunnel syndrome, or gets involved in an accident?

I attended a day of discernment at our church on Saturday, in which we candidates for pastoral council were to meet with each other, discuss many issues and then vote for who we thought the Lord would have us pick for the council. Needless to say, I was not elected, and for that I am both slightly disappointed, but also massively relieved, since its good to know oneself well enough to know one is not a leader.

But as usual, two of the people elected were mothers of young children, one with a high stakes third shift job in another city and who has a military husband who is often away on deployment. I do not know the other one's employment status, but I do know she has very young children, and she is involved in other ministries in the church. So I guess this would be the perfect time for the Lord to remind me that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways, because if the Lord's top choice for young mothers is for them to be away from their children as much as possible, or distracted with a whole lot going on outside the home, then I have misunderstood much of what I have read in His Word.

Personally, I voted for the men. Contrary to the wisdom of the "Goddess", I think men are absolutely wonderful creatures who make really good leaders, since they are able to make hard decisions without sentimentality and since they tend to see the forest in spite of all the sappy trees.  Really. Since this is my blog I will venture out here and say that, to me, younger women have much more important and noble things to do than to get involved with the rat race of the world, and older women who get themselves into positions of power tend to get kind of psycho. Even their physical appearance becomes an unsettling reflection of the weirdness within.....
And their opinion of themselves can become a bit unhinged. Do you remember when Nancy Pelosi decided that what the Muslim world needed was a visit from her, whereupon this grandmother took herself to see the heads of Islamic states (can we say socially conservative?) with her skirt hiked up like this.....

I have no doubt that they were very impressed. What was she thinking? Was she trying to seduce them? To be fair, I am no fan of Sarah Palin, either. She sacrificed a lot to get onto the national stage, including her family's privacy and dignity.

I am confused about a lot of this so-called progress. It must be that there is nothing wrong with this brave new world for women, and the constant emasculation and bashing of males, the power wielding old ladies wearing extreme facelifts and tight miniskirts, kids raised by hirelings or else raising themselves, and maniacal busyness.

I know what to do. After lunch I will take a wee nap, then make myself a cup of tea. Perhaps that will help me to make better sense of things then.