Sunday, April 30, 2006


What am I doing INSIDE on a day like today?

Well, resting, for one. I decided last evening that I would arise early for my morning walk. After all, it was going to be the first of May and the forecast was promising. Forty minutes of solitude, bird calls, frosty dew on the meadows, and quiet road is a lovely way to start a Sunday.

After church, Hubby and kid-lings went running. Rather, Hubby went running; the kids accompanied him on bikes. This was a 20-mile trek in preparation for the marathon on his birthday. I hit the lake with my kayak; by far the less-athletic choice. The wind was whipping a bit, challenging me to work out my winter kinks. As a soul that disdains sweating, I surely needed a cool-down. Not a soul was at the boat-launch, so I stretched out lazily in the sun like a cat for an hour. (We can learn a thing or two about napping from cats.)

Rewind to this morning's service. Seeing the college seniors line the front of the sanctuary, hearing their sometimes tearful good-byes, and joining in prayer over them makes me wistful for my college-days. This was my church then, and I have come many a mile. I know how time sometimes stretches unbearably, then snaps and flies like a rubber band. I know how the Lord can amazingly order our steps, even triumphing over our missteps and bad attitudes. I know that He manages to keep us in the palm of His hand. I know, I know. And I still say Amen to our pastor's message: choose the Lord while you are young.

You go, Seniors.
Make our Dad proud.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Today's thoughts are color-filled.

Golden Rod drips from my brush strokes
Pumpkin Spice rolls from the sweep of my arm.

swabs and wisps of yellow and orange
are whisked onto pant legs

leaving a signature
for later amusement:
at the gas pump
in class
and in future loads
of otherwise
clean laundry.

fusions of happy color
(that lived apart from each other-
in dull metallic pumps
in the paint department)
come together on our walls
and resemble the cardboard samples
(which are tucked into window frames
here and there)

but are better

because of drips and rolls
sweeps and whisks
flecks and dribbles
and swipes.

my color-fix
is met

for today!

(Thanks, Friend #12)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

better than a slide show

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Potsdam Perks

Notes from my journal:

- the dogwood trees along Main Street and Market Street are in bloom, displaying delicate white blossoms and providing plenty of Haiku-material for the asking.

-The Bagelry now offers a bulk rate: buy one dozen, get 6 free on Mondays and Tuesdays. Whadda deal.

-The Children's Chorus of Crane sang like angels on Sunday afternoon. Daughter #1 recited her poetry onstage and a premier performance followed of Dr. Frackenpohl's music, set to her words. Four other children had that same honor. How neat is that?

-the Raquette River placidly flows through town, begging me for a visit. Soon, soon. I am awaiting a sunny day of at least 60 degrees.

-one of my favorite families lives just a few miles down the road. My impromptu visits are always welcomed there. Over-the-top hugs are their specialty.

-an impetuous visit to Evans and White on the island supplies me with a gallon of new paint for the mudroom: "La Terra", which is really pumpkin spice. Goodbye, Rapture Yellow. Will I remember to mail in the 5$ rebate? Somebody please remind me!

-standing on the corner waiting for the pedestrian light, I receive three greetings from friends in various passing vehicles. Hey, if I wanted to be incognito, I would've gone to Watertown.

I'm sure there are more perks for the picking, but time is of the essence.
Two posts in one day! (That gives me tomorrow off.)

News Flash: Heart Grows Legs

Lately, my thoughts have been close to our friends in Nepal. Our dear friend, Bhim Gurung, is presently in Boston awaiting a flight back to his beloved and war-torn homeland.

Most mornings, as I grind coffee beans and pour cold water into the coffee-maker, I switch the radio on to hear the top of the news. (I have become quite a NPR addict.) What a way to start the morning: more conflict and violence in Kathmandu. The cares of my day quickly dissipate as my heart focuses on people I love, so very far way.

To add more grist to my spiritual mill, Friend #16 gave a stirring and motivating message on Sunday morning. His words are resounding in my head. Reaching the unreached with the Gospel is this man's heart. I always appreciate his passion, and willingly garner a bit of it for my own. (Isn't that what sermons are all about, anyway?) And practically speaking, unless a motivating speech results in a motivated body, why have my ears tickled? Mary Wahl, missionary to Mexico, also inspired me with her sharing on Sunday. After breathlessly wrapping up a Reader's Digest version of their marvelous work, she said comically, "We come to the end of ourselves, really...After a while you just run out of arms and legs!" Now, that's service.

This leads me back to Nepal. Traveling to the far-reaches of the world to build relationships and lend support is only the beginning. Truly, my life of leisure and wealth is not an end to itself; I am compelled by the goodness of God to respond to great need.

A steaming cuppa at my side, newscast behind me, Bible on lap, heart towards heaven....
These are the makings of putting legs to my heart.

Here's an epitaph to aspire to: She served until she ran out of arms and legs.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Garlic Noodles

If you are ever in a hurry to make a side dish, here is a solution.
(prerequisite: your family must love garlic.)

Put on water for pasta. Make thin spaghetti or vermicelli.

In a deep fry pan, melt 1/2 stick butter.
add 6 cloves of chopped fresh garlic and saute until slightly browned.
add drained pasta to pan and toss with garlic butter.
add parsely or oregano, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and maybe some white wine.
heat momentarily, and serve from pan.

fast. cheap. somewhat elegant.
and as long as everyone partakes, who minds the garlic breath?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Numbering My Friends

As for the method to my assigning numbers to dear ones, there is none.
As for the reason?
Gimmick, I guess. The quest for anonymity is futile, as my circle is small.

Life-long friends are precious commodities. I have come close to writing about my Kenosha friends once or twice already, but my attempts were thwarted by my "lackluster word-smithing skills." That sounds like Friend #5a's way of saying,"inability to find the right words." He likes to soup things up with dashes of head-power, and it's one habit that endears him to me. She (Friend #5b) likes to spice her conversation with detail, rich detail. The kind of memory for detail that Laura Ingalls Wilder weaves into her tales, that's what I'm talking about.
The meals, prayers, tears, and laughter we have shared over the last 20-something years add up to some unbelievable number. Even though they are many miles away right now, hearing her voice over the phone immediately brings my heart near again.
Friend #5a and Friend #5b. That's them: the dearest and the best. I could take their offspring and raise 'em as my own, although I couldn't do as amazing a job as they are doing. We will have a North Country visit from them in a few months, and whatever time we have with them will be endearing, invigorating, and inspiring. But one thing for certain: it will never be enough.

Here's to Life-Long Friends.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A New Way to Protest

There is a corner lot in town with a 2-car garage on it. Curiously enough, sometimes the lot is planted with corn. (You don't find a field of corn stalks at a busy intersection, usually.) Last fall, the owner made a personal statement with a paint brush: each square of the overhead garage door is a different garish shade, provoking negative reactions from every passenger in our car. The effect is sorta "Hippie-meets-Barney"; not a welcome combo in any small town, and certainly not in conservative Potsdam.
I wondered about the motive. Word on the street is that he has a personal vendetta against the town zoning board. It seems a convoluted way to get revenge, but perhaps only a harmless jibe.

But wait: last week, those observant offspring of mine noted additional exterior decor: a few dozen frisbees, nailed to the garage in pleasing patterns. On one wall, they formed a smiley face. Huh. Someone's got way too much time (and frisbees) on their hands.

Then today, #1 Daughter and I were puzzled at some other new objects. White porcelain-type boxey things placed up against the siding....glowing proudly in the April sun.....I've seen them somewhere before....what...?

Urinals. Now as lawn ornaments.
Someone has declared war.

( Saturday update~ just when we thought we've had enough, here's more eye-candy: plastic plants in the urinals.
nice touch.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

One Thousand (and One) Happy Things

This place really, really exists. I know, because I was there. See? That's our rental car in the lower right hand corner. The conference center is just out of range on the left, one hill over. These are the mountains of Toledo in the La Mancha District of central Spain. Do they remember me? Well, I remember them, and always will.

I refer to yet another entry today, for I took to the water this morning. So over-excited was I, that only after arriving lake-side did I realize that I forgot my paddles. Silly. So, off I huffed in great haste. (What's a few more minutes after a long icy winter?) You can't get far on a kayak without paddles.

In the smack-dab middle of Norwood Lake, the breeze kicked up and that lovely watery fragrance, which I had also forgotten, wafted up to me: wet leaves, beach sand, soggy bark, and the sharp smell of all things green and growing. I drank it in like elixir; an antidote for the stingy gray light of winter. Although the lake is still quite frigid, I dipped my limbs in for a refreshing baptism of sorts.

Welcome, Spring.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My New Toy

Mom has a new toy: a digital camera.

I took it to Spain and brought home 500 pieces
of proof that I was there. Here are a few of them.

Accordian in any language.....hmmmm

Roman Ruins in Tarifa

Castle in Tarifa

For your enjoyment, I've added a few pics of our Easter decor.
New toys are so fun.

When I get a bit smarter, I'll be able to post stuff without #1 Son's help.
( Until then, thanks, #1 Son!)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Stuff of the Day

We have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia aloud this year. So far, we have devoured The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy (my personal favorite) and The Magician's Nephew. With only The Last Battle to go, I'm reasonable sure we will be finished by the end of May. Any suggestions to bring us through the summer? We will be road-trippin', which means lotsa reading aloud!

#1 Daughter is rejuvenated to work with her horses, as she had a riding lesson yesterday with a new teacher. It is a perfect spring day, and I pulled one of our porch rockers under the walnut trees to watch Emy in action. It has been a long winter. Time to get the barn repaired, manure removed, and horses back in gear. Time for a dozen outdoor chores. Time for lawns to be inspected, garden revamped, and houses to be spiffed up. But today, I think I'll just rock, thank you. ( I already biked for 45 minutes, and tomorrow my muscles will remind me!)

#1 Son helped me do some recording today. We set up in the living room, I plunked through a pile of notes, and he just handed me a shiny new CD to give a student. Sometimes technology comes through for me! Yes.

#1 Hubby has a meeting of minds tonight. 6 (or so) guys that come together for encouragement and fellowship. I'm happy to have a home that accomodates them. Most likely, there won't be a home-made dessert on the table for them tonight. Oh well.

I, myself, will visit a college student in her dorm. (That is, after delivering #1 Daughter to her dress-rehearsal at Crane and serving dinner to the fam.) I remember having friends from my church visit me in my dorm 22 years ago. If my imagination is sharp enough, I may even pretend I'm a student again. (Ok, if only for a brief moment!)

That should bring you up to speed with what's happening here.

Excuse me, the sun is beckoning me. A few more minutes of rocking before I rev up the PT Cruiser.....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hope Quest

hope, n.
1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good.

hope, v.
1. To look forward with expectation and desire; to cherish a desire of good, with some expectation of obtaining it, or belief that it is obtainable.
2. To place confidence; to trust with confident expectation of good.

"..but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perserverance we wait eagerly for it."
-Romans 8: 24b-25

In my book, hope is more precious than gold. Without that added ingredient, every element of the day is hard, if not nigh impossible. Without hope, the milk is spilt, our ship is sunk, our banner trampled, the cake is fallen, the towel is thrown in, and the baby is thrown out with the bath-water. All seems bleak and withered; scattered beyond the gathering. What kryptonite is to Superman, that's what hopelessness is to us.
But with a dose of hope, all is not lost. We get our second wind, we whistle songs of faith in dark places, the curtain rises on the second act, and Popeye gets his spinache. Hope doesn't change the facts. It changes us, so we can change the facts.

Where can we obtain this wondrous stuff?

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him." Ps. 62:5

"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

I don't know 'bout you, but I'm getting me some.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


My Easter gift to all is this, one of my favorite poems. Enjoy,
and Happy Resurrection Day.


Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
and multiplied;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw the way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up at break of day,
And brought'st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th' East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavor?

We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

-George Herbert (1593-1633)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

One Pillar Down, Three to Go

One of The Four Pillars of Homeschooling, as stated by Friend #8, is Love of Work. So, when I face a day which is chock full of chores and preparation for company, it's time to model my enthusiasm. For me, not a stretch. I dive in, feet first and apron tied efficiently around my middle.

This morning, Daughter #1 and I frosted at least 6 dozen sugar cookies. (sheep, hearts, crosses, butterflies, rabbits, churches, and violins.) While listening to Car Talk, I threw together 3 trays of stuffed shells. Rising in the oven are cranberry-nut dinner rolls. (a new recipe, it "just came to me".) The tea kettle is brewing in preparation for dyeing eggs. Big doings tomorrow, Resurrection Sunday. Our family is hosting at least 6 college students for dinner, and a favorite family will be joining us for dessert and games in the evening. Let's hope (and determine) that Jesus and His amazing feat won't get lost in the mix.....

Even though the favorite moment of my day hasn't happened yet, it's a sure bet that it will involve the music-making taking place this evening. A quartet (that's 4 of 'em) of violin students, their talented teacher, and family members will gather here for an Easter Eve recital. (We may even boogie a bit!) My recently tuned piano (myself at the "wheel") will accompany them. What joy.
All this excitement is sure to make long-lasting memories.

The chores are just our launching pad.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Mender of all Broken Things

Many things require thought of me this day.

Finally, after many years, I mended a broken ceramic figurine. I'm not usually one to keep such knick-knacks about, but this one is special: my father gave it to me when I was barely four years old. It is a baby deer with the very likeness of Bambi, yet a bit more wild. It was brought it home from a business trip, and I distinctly remember holding it (only under motherly supervision) before it was placed atop a corner shelf in the dining room. There it would pose, its brown eyes perpetually begging me to play with it.

Over the years, this winsome deer followed me over hill and dale into various habitats, eventually suffering a broken leg along its journey. A drawer is not an interesting place for any wild animal, but that's where this one reposed for way too long.

What finally persuaded me to fix this sweet thing?
I can't say.
But, really, what keeps us from fixing any broken thing?
(With this question, I model the theme of this blog.)

Today being Good Friday, I clean, plan menus, and fiddle in the kitchen to the dark and magnificent strains of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. This is a recording that took place in Troy Music Hall with a choir that I love, and 2 orchestras made up of people I love. Six years ago, I sat at the organ under the filtered light of that wonderous hall, attentive to every nuance, helping to weave soloists, oboe, strings, flute and voices together to present the greatest story ever told. Three hours of emotional music behind us, we are left with the chorus sighing, Sleep well, Sweet Jesus. Real grief always grips my heart here, and it is good for my soul to experience it. Good Friday leaves us with Christ in the grave; all but ragged hope stolen from us. It is well worth our time to reflect on what took place many years ago, on a dark Friday.

Now the Lord is brought to rest
My Jesus, good night.
The toil is done which our sins made for Him
My Jesus, good night.
O blessed limbs, see, how I weep for you
with penance and remorse
that my fall brought You into such distress.
My Jesus, good night.

Take, while life lasts, a thousand thanks for your Passion
and for prizing my soul's good so dearly.
My Jesus, good night.

Why so cast down, O my soul?
Put your hope in God, the Mender of All Broken Things.

What an unspeakable gift to hold the Risen Lord in our hearts every day!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


This is the first evening in quite awhile that the whole family is home. The feel of summer is in the air; it reached 74 lovely degrees this afternoon, and for the first time this year, our windows are open. Ahhh. If only the yard didn't resemble a nuclear wasteland: grey grass, shreds of paper that never made it to the burn barrel, muddy ruts in the lawn from various vehicles, and a broken barn window. (Red-neck question: Can you vacuum a lawn?)

The special meetings at church ended last night, leaving me with the question: was that a taste of heaven? I think so, indeed.

I had my piano tuned and regulated today. My piano tuner is a gentle spirit and a good conversationist. He also is a fine technician, and always leaves me with a better instrument than the one I had when he walked in the door. My fingers are itching to ply my trade...

This evening's program is all Bach. Admission is free, but a free-will chocolate offering will be received.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some "Back-Blogging"...

Paella makes for an amazing dining experience.

The ingredients are hotly debated among the cooks from every district of Spain. Some say that seafood is necessitad. The opposing camp insists that all fruits of the sea are prohibited. (Valencians use only chicken, rabbit, and snails.)

Some place their paella pans on the ground to steam slowly over hot coals. Others cook indoors, placing their pan on a large iron ring fueled by propane. During some street festivals, the menfolk practice the art of paella in the open air,spawning competition akin to Texan chili cook-offs.

Along with the fragrant saffron rice, we've happily consumed this traditional dish prepared with other good things: flat green beans, lima beans, tomato, onion, garlic, crawdads, shrimp, clams, and sausage. In all cases, we exclaimed "muy deliciouso!" No complaints from the Americans in the paella department.

Come to Spain, if only for a taste of paella!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Boring Life (NOT)

There are many things that make for a busy day.
For example:

1. waking up early to exercise, but having to wash dishes, empty the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, fold a load of laundry, and correct math lessons first.

2. Testing scripture memory verses, reading History, and chalking up assignments for the little darlings.

3. Chatting for 63 minutes with a dear friend long-distance on the phone.

4. Speed-practicing of all the music I should've practiced for today's rehearsals. (not a recommended way to learn....)

5. Surviving 3 different rehearsals, replete with each one running late and people calling out the doors to me as I dashed away to the next one.

6. Doing a drive-by of the McCarthy's, in which I whisked away 2 kids instead of 1. (Okay by me!)

7. Singing deliriously on the way to the deli for sandwich fixins.

8. Waltzing in the door directly to the phone, in order to hear the latest from my Tennesee Girl.

9. Wolfing down a wrap and chips (so we aren't late for church.)

10. Dashing off a post that doesn't display the theme of this blog (requiringthought) .

11. Roaring out of the drive to church, truck packed with happy faces that I love.

12. Anticipating sitting in the front row tonight. YES.

Stay tuned. Possible update at 11, if I'm too wired to sleep.

Sleepy & Happy at 10:40 pm: Anyone notice my love for vivid verbs?
Anyway, bowl of cornflakes behind me, I'm bed-ward. 'Night all.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Intense Therapy on a Shoe-String

Shopping comparison just got easier. I did some research for myself and thought I would share the results. If you are in the market for some stress-relief, read on.

weekend road trip to Cape Cod, incl. hotel with ocean view...$ 285
one hour therapy session with psychologist... $ 140
afternoon at recommended day-spa (hot stone treatment extra... $ 125
hour-long phone conversation with old college friend (NY to Beijing)...$ 89
manicure/pedicure treatment at local mall....$ 28
new worship CD...$ 18.99
Eckerd's best line of beauty products for facial and aromatherapy...$ 12.99
Ice Age 2 at the Roxy...$ 6.50

......and the winner: (drum roll, please)

Stewart's newest ice-cream flavor, Espresso Chip Therapy on a waffle cone..............$ 1.75
On sale this week at participating stores. Tell them I sent you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Games People Play

In years past, while stretching out beside either of my little darlings at bedtime, we would mull over the events of the day and sometimes play a game.
I would ask:

"What was the favorite part of your day?"

The conversation that ensued not only gave us a chance to wind down for evening prayers and forehead kisses, but also provided sharp insight into what things had captured my children's hearts. More often than not, it would both surprise and warm my spirit that #1 Son's favorite moment was stopping roadside with Dad to check out a used lawn mower. #1 Daughter would revel in the impromptu "tea party" we shared on her pint-sized table in the kitchen, which consisted of broken crackers, grapes, and chocolate chips. Sometimes it was a deer or hawk we spotted, a silly joke we discovered, or a friendly visit from a neighbor. This little "game" tended to draw out an innate sense of gratitude for every-day happenings.

For the record, and to show that Moms can play games, too:

The favorite part of my day happened in the waiting room of the dentist's office. (Go figure!)
While flipping through an outdated magazine, I noticed a mentally-handicapped man, perhaps about my own age, sitting patiently for his appointment, a female companion at his side. She busied herself for a few moments with his paperwork while he greeted the staff enthusiastically.
Then, he handed her a children's book from the table there, and she began to read to him. Her voice was pleasant and lilting; his attention was rapt. Berenstain Bears is a good read anytime, as I recall. I put aside my magazine and listened along with him.

Favorite moments can happen around you; you don't have to create them yourselves. Be a sleuth for hidden blessings and you'll find them in the most unpretentious places.

You are most welcome to tell me the favorite part of your day anytime.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bistro Love and Coffee Percolations

I love bakeries.

We dined on ham & cheese croissants this morning, while our elbows rested on a dainty round table and our legs dangled from the fashionable perch of a bistro stool. As we munched our flaky bites and sipped our cafe leche, I lazily watched the ladies slide trays of delectable things into the bakery case: almond slathered cakes, puffy chocolate-filled horns, and powdered bisquits that looked like they held a creamy surprise within. I could eat one of each, really.

I always thought I would like to have a bakery. But, then again, I have multitudes of longing thoughts, and odds are that most of them will stay just that : thoughts. But how much richer am I for the longing! To anyone who would scoff at my inner entertainment and miss the appeal of having a scope of the imagination, I quote our dear Anne of Green Gables:

Oh Marilla, how much you miss!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Today´s agenda involves a visit to the local Roman Ruins in Valencia.

(You just cannot say that sentence anywhere in the good ole´US of A.....)

My Hubby and Son Numero Uno were here 3 years ago, and I swooned over their photos. Now, I bring home the swoon-material. yes!

There is too much to tell in the short amount of time that I have online, but let me hand you a memory. Thursday was spent in Cordoba, an ancient center of three cultures. We wandered, the 4 of us, through winding streets, strolled through fragrant courtyards with roman pillars, and ate a traditional meal of tapas in a small cafe. We were happy.
We cut short our long drive to Madrid to find a place to crash. One small Spanish town is just as good as another to us, and without any foreknowlege, we picked one off the highway to search for a humble hotel. Reaching the center of town by finding the 15th century church, we spotted signs for a four-star hotel. nahhhh. too pricey, we said. But we desperados inquired, and decided it was worth our pesos: a 16th century palace, courtyards and fountains, restored just for us. (so we told ourselves.) A bit of a splurge, but as Pastor Rick exclaimed,¨about the same price as the Best Western in Canton.¨
Lovely, lovely. And a tiled bath fit for a sultan. (or sultan-ess, as I decided as I partook of a deep and scorching hot bath...)

Please don´t stop praying for us just because of intense jealousy.

Hubby and I left D. and Pastor in Madrid last evening at the regal Center for Communications in Downtown Madrid. D. was preparing to tape a radio show with a popular talk-show host. Yet another door of opportunity...
For all who want to know, D. is doing great. She is a real trooper, and is energetic all day until it is bed-time. Then, this pretty red-haired pregnant girl needs a rest. We hope to return her to her husband in excellent condition.