Thursday, March 29, 2012


I can get a lot accomplished if my day is interspersed with flowers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

hello, spring

Hello, lovely spring. I have been dreaming of you. Nay, longing. Absolutely pining.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Friendship Peacocks

I mailed her a peacock. So, now I have one peacock, and she has the other. She loves it.
I called them "Friendship Peacocks".

They are the new thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two Meals

We were gathered up to the table, leaning into the warmth of the burnt orange tapers and the smiling faces reflected on the china before us, and holding our souls out toward each other like campers stretching their hands before a bonfire.

It was a getting-to-know-each-other time: the old-fashioned act of one family being invited to another family's hearth, with a few lucky friends added in. The hearty meal, the companionable talk, the small gestures of thank you for being with us -coupled with the sincerity of the children who dined among us, all these things lent themselves to the loosening of our life-weary bundles.

Lord knows, it is good to break bread together.

Together, we do what loved ones do when they share a meal.
We bow our heads.
We grasp the silver.
We break the bread, the home-made kind which is ground fresh from the wheat berry. The kind that holds its own under a swab of butter.
We pass the warm dishes piled high from hand to hand.
We eat our fill.

Soon the hearty meal of meat, potatoes, and root vegetables is behind us, already warming our extremities. Coffee, tea, and a plate of cookies round out our repast. The children find themselves on the floors nearby, busy at quiet play in hidden worlds of their own making. The grown-ups find themselves in the family room, knees facing each other, souls expectant for a meeting with a God who loves them.

Together, we do what loved ones do when they share a faith.
We bow our heads.
We grasp His truth.
We break open His Word, the rich Word that is able to feed us forever and ever. The kind that holds its own under the fires of life.
We pass His mercy & grace from hand to hand.
We receive freely and are filled to overflowing.

Lord knows how good this is.
It is fellowship so real, so life-giving, so utterly testifying
of Who He is and what He has done in our lives.

I wish it for all of you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

winter's challenge

 Winter brings its own challenges. For instance, the river is frozen -which makes it difficult to kayak.
Also, the wood stove is very inviting -which makes it high-near impossible to leave its cozy warmth.

But with a little foresight and minimal planning and only around 27 emails back & forth, I pulled off a little trip to the Met museum.Some of my favorite people in the world joined me on this winter adventure. It involved lots of driving, an overnight at an historic brick home, a train ride which involved running up & down 6 flights of stairs while yelling, an errant yet short trip on the wrong subway car, and other fun things.

Here we are at the entrance to the Met museum. As you can see, we weren't the only people in the world with this great idea. Would it be entirely irreverent to compare the momentous jog up these steps to entering Mecca?

 My Saturday Friend brought her purse, which came in handy in the Assyrian court. Unfortunately, she forgot her ceremonial headdress.

 We raided a coffee shop, where we souped up on caffeine and also got the skinny on a good Indian restaurant around the corner.

I left out a lot. Like, all the beautiful things we saw there. But as perusers of this here blog may have noted, I haven't been exactly verbose lately. Call it a phase I'm going through.

Let it be enough to say it was a perfect day & trust me on it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

feeding the homeless

It was a quiet mid-winter's day in which nothing much transpired.

There was some cleaning, knitting, baking, laundry, and the cutting out of lacy paper snowflakes.The most excitement occurred when we spotted a pure white goose bobbing in the icy river. Back & forth he paddled, honking plaintively and looking quite flustered.

 Bundled in my winter white mohair coat, I ventured out with a handful of bread. When he spotted me carefully tramping along the edge of the hill, he quickly headed toward me, honking all the way.

When I left him, he was gobbling up the bread like a starving hobo.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making Much

Today I will make much of His mysteries.

God in the flesh, all powerful -and yet a babe.
The Author & Completer of one towering act of redemption- born in a manger.
Love so sacrificing, so earth-shaking and history-making - so quietly He came,
and so meek.

Oh, wonder!
and hush, my heart!

Stand up & take note of these astonishing truths
which brand the soul with His stamp,
strap up falling faith,
and set the wanderer back on the highway.

Oh, wonder!
and hush, my heart!

Today I will make much of His mysteries.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a quick check-in

 This photo pretty much sums my house up: the rolling pins represents all the cookies I haven't made.
The laundry basket in the background represents the housework I haven't done.
The paper cut-out snowflakes on the hutch represent that there is no snow on the ground.
And the bowl of fruit represents that I want some fresh fruit salad right this minute.

There is nothing in this photo to represent what a sorry excuse for a blogger I am.
After the rehearsals, finals, recitals, and recording sessions are over, I may mend my ways.
 For my historic birthday last week, Hubby took me to Vermont. We spent a night away, ate a scrumptious steak dinner, and did a little shopping.

I spied a wooden tree JUST LIKE THIS ONE in a shop & fell in love. The price tag was a bit steep to say the least, but my thrifty husband told me how to make my own little sapling. So, with the help of two guys ( #1 Son and Geoffrey the Forger) I did. Actually, I am making my own little forest of them.

I leave you with this: the morning sun gracing a Christmas flower.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

a thrifty Christmas

 Every day, a little more of Christmas comes together at our house. 

This year, I declared it to be a "Thrifty Christmas" & everyone enthusiastically agreed. This means our gifts will be thrifted, re-purposed, refurbished, or hand-made. I'm certain there will be few exceptions to this self-imposed declaration ( somebody say "gift cards!") -but we are all looking for ways to be creative. It's going to be a fun challenge!

As a matter of fact, as I was uploading these pics just now, I was only a tad surprised that each photo has something in it which fits our Thrifty Christmas description! Allow me to illumine you.

The two shutters (above) which grace our front porch this year were found  a few years ago in one of our barns. Hubby attempted to chuck them into the truck headed for the dump, but I rescued them valiantly.

"These will be really good for something, somewhere. Someday." I said. I was so right.

Here, on the "Tibetan armoirrrrrrre" ( Joe, I hear you groaning) , we have two vintage Christmas cards that I bought at an auction. They are from Japan, circa 1920. I love that they depict the birth of Jesus with Japanese features. They cost me a few cents each and they are in inexpensive frames.

The stacked wooden boxes are from local thrift shops, as is the copper tin, which I filled with fresh greens.

The old coffee grinder lamp was my grandmother's.

 On Black Friday, my guys staked out Lowes & Home Depot for contractor bargains. They thoughtfully scooped up assorted poinsettias because they were 99 cents each -and also because they love me.

My sweet niece potted this one for me in a chipped china pot which I got in a box-lot at an auction. Total cost: less than $2.

We already know all about my crazy owl lamp. Just wanted everyone to know that it joined the Christmas decor. too! The pine cone candles were a gift from a dear friend who knows how I roll. The brass candlestick was a thrift-shop find.

 Last summer, I picked up an old milk pan for cheap at an antique shop. It is now the centerpiece for the dining room table. I'll bet the farmer's wife who used it every morning in the milk-house never imagined someone would want it on their Christmas table someday!

The iron stars are salvaged architectural end-pieces to old buildings. I've had 'em for years & years!

This final photo is of my lovely antique hutch, which was a gift from my mom -who inherited it from my aunt. Most of the things in it were gifts over the years -or bargain-bin finds! When I put the final touches of the season in it, I will share another photo of it. It certainly is a fun place to "play" as the seasons change!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart.

He has made His wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.

He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever.

He has made known to His people the power of His works in giving them the heritage of the nations.

Holy and awesome is His name. His praise endures forever!

(excerpted from Psalm 111)

Friday, November 18, 2011

par-tay time

The last time we had over fifty guests in our home, it was to celebrate the upcoming births of three baby girls.
It was a lovely event. I especially liked that my only "job" was to open my home. Some amazingly talented women did all the rest, including the dishes!

 Tonight's gathering will likely top that number of guests. Tables are set up, furniture moved, tealights set out, and the large coffee pot is being brought in from storage.

This morning, as I tap tap tap away, three beautiful children are being adopted by dear friends. Their family of three will now be a family of six!

What a joy to share an evening of celebration with them!

Monday, November 14, 2011


While I am capturing something beautiful, he leans out the car window behind me and snaps this picture with his phone.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Life has Loveliness to Sell

Another day is done, and with it, more than my fair share of beautiful moments:

-the morning sun on the kitchen floor. (along with the soap suds I used to wash this floor!)
-a unexpected hug in the hallway of Crane accompanied by, "Will you be my adopted mom?"
-playing Mozart with a flutist. I wasn't sure if we were dancing or playing. I think both.
-facebook messages back & forth with #1 Daughter.
-coming home to the smell of pot-roast simmering in the crockpot.
-viewing wedding photos in the loft. (Gracious me! Now THERE was a day chock-full of beauty!)
-sharing the murmuring of my chilly river with a big fish. Perhaps a late salmon? It splashed all around me & under my little green boat before charging toward the falls.
-a roaring bonfire which I shared first with #1 Son ( & cuppa Earl Grey tea) at dusk, and then with Hubby ( & plates of piping hot pot roast & mashed potatoes) in the near-dark of a temperate evening.

Please take a moment to read this poem; one of my favorites.

I hope you saw the loveliness in your own day. It is always there for the discovering.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A week in Richmond

 This face. I woke this morning missing this chubby face.

 A toddler-filled week in sunny Richmond, Virginia is now behind me.

 As for who was more blessed this week, we've had a few sparring conversations. I believe the blessings went both ways, deeply.
 Here we are, collecting pretty leaves. I mean, "weaves". We also shared some of these with her "widdle sister". Lord knows I enjoyed these two girls!

 Behold, the Baby: A snuggly inchworm of sweetness. He squeaks like a mousie. He promotes baby-talk from yours truly.

Across the miles & over the glowing screen of my computer, I say," I MISS YOU ALL, LOVELY FAMILY! Keep doing it right. The Kingdom of God is being built within your cozy walls!"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Elliot Reuel: "The LORD is my God, He is my Friend"

 Welcome to the world, Little Man. What a privilege to spend this week -this, the first of your life- with you, your mommy & daddy, and your two big sisters.

My, my, aren't you handsome!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

wonderful moments

-a free cookie with my coffee at the convenient store this morning. It was a large cookie, and had large chunks of chocolate in it. It wasn't home-made, but made a great mid-morning snack in between rehearsals!

-meeting some fine singers from all over. Today was the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Competition at The Crane School. We held "speed rehearsals": 10 minutes to throw together 3 (or 4!) songs -and from there to the concert hall. From the girl who detests lonnnngggggggg was nearly bliss.

-playing the impressionistic cascades of this art song for a young soprano. Of course, the chamber music version is lovely, too! But please let me play those runs. It is ever so much fun.

-receiving a photo on my cell phone of #1 Son playing in an impromptu fiddle jam in Schenectady. When I called him later about it, he told me he was handed a 18th century violin to play. He had been eating soup & minding his own beeswax when he heard the tunes coming from down the hall in Proctor's theater.

-preparing sleeping space for four dear friends who are crashing here overnight, only to breakfast & depart in the early morn. It is so very perfect to have a home that lends itself to such flurried visits! -Altho, long & stretched-out visits are nice, too. Right?

-reminding myself that I am playing keys for worship tomorrow morning. -And practically every Sunday morning I am in town, since the new Potsdam church-plant has  stretched our resources!
It is good to be stretched for Jesus. Our dear pastor encouraged us so richly last evening at our Annual Dinner & Business Meeting. Let's keep reminding ourselves to embrace change! Good things are happening as a result.

Here's hoping tomorrow brings a visit from #1 Daughter!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Grasse River Ranch

I paid a visit to the Grasse River Ranch today.

A beautiful family resides there. See those children on the porch? They want to show me their kittens, hug my legs, and  tell me all about important things, namely: a bee sting, a dream about a horse, the baby spit up, and one particular goat really stinks.

They also wanted to show me their three dogs, the tire swing, and the fried potatoes on the wood stove.

They are wonderful kids. Each of them has farm chores -which they will tell you all about if you ask.

Here on the farm, they raise chickens ( for both meat & eggs) and goats ( for the most delectable cheese imaginable!).

Here is the Mama. She is holding The Miracle Baby in her arms.

Sometime I'll have to write about this little babe, as she is a wonder to behold, especially if one knows her story. I'll tell it soon.

We gathered on the porch for a group photo.
"Mrs. Hull, may I hold my cat in the picture?"

"Yes. Yes, you may."
 "But please let me still see your face."

Everyone loves the baby.

And they love their animals, this is for certain.
The Grasse River Ranch is holding an Open House on Saturday, October 29. Details to come!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


A few glimpses of autumn-happiness around here: the front porch.

The garden wall with sweet alyssum.

And tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes. 

I have already put up plenty of green tomato salsa, but there may be more to come! In the meantime, tomatoes magically turn red & we eat them in every way imaginable.

I have loved you deeply, summer. Please don't leave me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

in defense of sitting still

How entirely fulfilling to sit on a rock & just be.

This sparkling morning, at the bottom of our bank, at the site where ye olde grist mill stood, I staked my perch. The salmon are running, and they splashed with abandon as they made their way to the falls. Strains of Schubert's "Trout Quintet" rang in my ears while I soaked in the late-autumn sun.

In defense of my sitting perfectly still for an hour or so, let me tell you a bit about my last few days:

-alumni weekend for my beloved church brought beloved faces into my home for the weekend. ( One in the loft, one on the couch, two in the office, one in the guest room. Both kiddy-liwinks in their bunny nests in their bedrooms). I kept reminding them that the event was NOT taking place here, as they tended to gravitate around our dining room table to laugh & talk & eat. But really, I minded not in the least. Especially when t this week's bride showed up numerous occasions.

It is such good luck to be near a bride.

-I rocked out on the keys Sunday morning, much to my arm's dismay. I have been nursing a touch of tennis elbow these days, mostly in my right arm.

And it doesn't help AT ALL that every day, my kayak paddle leaps into my hands & takes me out onto the river on my little green boat. It's not my fault either that my entire garden uprooted itself into my arms & walked me over the garden fence into the far reaches of the backyard.

Let's not even talk about the large stack of music awaiting me on my piano.

-Plenty of food has been prepared here recently. And this week has some fun culinary chores ahead: numerous pies & cakes for that bride I was talking about! Also: music to be rehearsed for the ceremony.

-speaking of music to be rehearsed, I need to get right on some other rehearsals, stat. Enough of fishie-watching. I need to get my piano-groove on.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WHO has a Thrifted Lamp? (I DO I DO!)

 I haven't much to say about my rescued lamp, except that it is loved in its new home.
Also this: it cost me $3 for the lamp at a yard sale and $5 in fabric for the new shade cover. The paint ( flat white) was in the cellar, so no cost there!

I fully expect a large range of reactions from those who dine at our harvest table in the weeks to come!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long Shadows

Long shadows are the best variety; they begin
at something beautiful
and then expand luxuriously.

Splaying their black ink onto the tilted lawn, long shadows ache for some edge over which to spill. They vibrate with the shimmer of an autumn bonfire.

They recall days long past.

Long shadows sink into the frayed hem of evening.
They echo something just beyond our ability to hear.
Arching over detail, they employ no hue but of the night.

I ask you, bring a host, a bevy, a bushel-full of long shadows to me
the last evening I have a voice,
when my final steps falter.

on their cusp will I drink deeply and have enough to hold me
until the coals sink into their ashen bed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

an autumn evening

Tonight I put an apple pie in the oven, and while it was baking I went kayaking with #1 Son.

We paddled in the late-evening sun. In view of my beautiful waterfalls, the last shafts of sun danced across the river and landed on my should and face. This only meant one thing: that we had to listen to John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulder" as soon as we got in the house. Which we did. Which made me cry just the tiniest bit because its a song from my childhood which I always find myself singing in my head.

Hubby grilled steak. I made bruschetta with vegetables from the garden. We ate on the the porch, just the three of us, even thought the sun had gone down & it was chilly. We lit candles which made us feel warm, if only in our imagination.

I was missing #1 Daughter sorely.

Immediately after dinner, we laid out our plan for the back walkway with a garden hose. We dreamed about what kind of stone we might buy. We admitted to each other that there was absolutely no budget for this project. We shrugged our shoulders & went ahead with a Dream-Plan regardless.

I threw some dead sunflower stalks on the burn pile. -Which made me want to have a small bonfire. -Which made Hubby get the matches. -Which led us to bring our tea & bowls of warm apple pie outside to watch the fire while enjoying nothing but peace & quiet.

The crackle of the fire and the warmth it cast across the freshly-mown lawn left me with a deep feeling of peace. Either that, or my second helping of pie made me drowsy.

It was a perfect autumn evening.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


All in one week, here are some of the amazing things I got to do:

-help plan a wedding reception
-hold a newborn babe the day of her birth
-snuggle two kiddos with two temperatures on two couches ( they are both feeling better!)
-sell goat cheese at the Farmer's Market
-harvest basket after basket of fresh vegetables from my own garden
-run errands with #1 Daughter
-talk to #1 Son (who is in Uganda!) on the phone with crystal-clear reception
-share a late-night snack on the candle-lit porch with my Hubby
-talk about God with numerous people who encouraged my soul to the core
-paint trim in the new church plant in a nearby town (while visiting with a dear friend who was also holding a paintbrush!)
-make pickles
-make bread
-make jokes
-drift on the river in my little green kayak while the seagulls were dipping in the setting sun.

So, how was your week?

Monday, August 15, 2011

getting the story

He is in Northern Uganda, a place not known for its kindnesses.

His travel-partner is in the village clinic. Maybe malaria, maybe typhoid. Let's wait & see. This unforseen predicament leaves him with one other to guide him, a Ugandan from the south. A friend.

He hikes dirt trails to remote villages; the people there, they do not talk much. War has crafted them into closed books; tightly-wrapped packets of hurt & fear. Their dark eyes snap shut when he reaches for them with his own.

He cannot ask them their stories, not yet.

He carries water along with them. From the muddy holes in the cracked earth, in plastic buckets, dented pails, rusted bowls to their mud huts.

He keeps his camera back in the hotel room out of respect, although soon he brings it forth because how else can he tell what he has seen?

The time is short & he knows too well that trust comes long; trust stretches out slow; it bends in the heat. It can distort his good intent, his will to tell their story.

On the roof of an abandoned building, boys leap in the dying streaks of day. They seem to reach for something just outside their grasp. Lunging & snatching, it eludes them. And now another day in Northern Uganda is done.

Are we closer to the goal?

Friday, August 12, 2011

on the water at dusk

I took to the river last night.

A blue heron met me there. Also, two boats of quiet fishermen who understood that I didn't want to break the river-silence by greeting them across the water. Not last night, no.

One drowsy fishing-line after another gracefully launched into the air, spanning the chasm between sky & surface before landing light as a ballerina.

A ream of crickets primed the air with their low music, and over the marshland a combine chewed late-summer's hay in a distant field.

A mink emerged from the weedy bank and whistled into his burrow as sleek as water poured into a cup. He left one winking leaf bobbing in his wake.

I wish you were with me out on the water tonight, because you would been quiet; you would have understood.