Wednesday, May 31, 2006

cerebrate good times

cerebration: (n) The act or product of thinking; the use of the power of reason; mental activity; thought.

This word appeared on my screeen today, courtesy of As first, I read it wrong. But after using my noggin, I figured it out.

Today being quite the scorcher, I don't feel like cerebrating very hard.
Perhaps I'll recline on the couch in our air-conditioned family room instead.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Knapps Station Nightly News

Hubby, #1 Son, and Friend #12 toiled in the hot sun today. I made absolutely sure that the iced tea kept on coming. Yes, folks: today the painting began. Most of the eaves and windows have a coat of striking white primer. This is newsworthy. At least in Knapps Station, New York.

I have a copper-haired boy at my house tonight. His spunky demeanor and clever conversation make us smile. Tonight, he is interested in the eating habits of box turtles, as I presented him with one. It was a road-rescue. I hope his mom doesn't mind. It could be much worse. We have a snake in the side yard....

Other Knapps Station News: Friend #12 begins a new job tomorrow at the Akwesasne Reservation. This is an entirely new adventure for her, not at all like corraling kids at Beaver Camp.

Film at eleven.
nah. Scrap the film. We'll all be a-bed.

Monday, May 29, 2006

weeds, seeds, & other ingredients

If it requires faith to plant a garden, then today I added a foot to my spiritual stature.

Hubby graciously tilled the ground for me, as he does every spring. Only, this season I didn't don my gardening gloves soon enough to extricate a knee-high wedge of weedy green. Along with my trusty basket of seeds and a dainty trowel, I armed myself with a metal rake and hoe today. This was not an exercise for the faint of heart. Fishing the whole darn plot for clumps of tangly white roots was daunting. But letting them regroup under my newly-sown seed would spell doom for weeks to come.

When I finally threw in the trowel, (yes, the trowel...) I was resigned that there were probably a hundred and six more clumps to be slung skyward. Yeah, I'll admit to an attitude. Three heaping wheelbarrows were my spoil though, and the dumping of them behind the barn was sweet. (Die, weeds. Or at least, thrive where I can't see you.)

Those seeds were going in, sir. Plant them I must, because no one loves to pluck a bowl of fresh salad-fixin's more than yours truly. I must admit, the temptation to strew the whole furrowed ground with Scotts turf-builder (and be done with it) marched before my gritty eyes a few times. But glory be: faith prevailed. I know the weeds will be conquered, the sky will open with warm rain, tendrils will be coaxed into bloom, and the harvest will appear.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1a

Sunday, May 28, 2006

the big river

Deep River
Over the River and Through the Woods
Ole' Man River
Moon River

I can understand why rivers are the focus of so many lyrics. Rivers beckon us; they enchant us.
A river can be inspiring or mysterious, frightening or calming. The Old Testament is chock full of symbolism pertaining to rivers. ( Come to think of it, so is the New Testament...) We have the River Jordan, the River of Life, rivers that baptize, and rivers that water trees. I think God likes rivers, too.

The whole fam (plus Friend #12) plied the Raquette River this evening in canoes. We found our groove eventually, after a few seating arrangements, intense "discussion", and paddle re-distribution. Since we took one of my regular routes, I pointed out some favorite landmarks: potential picnic spot, farm with a view, home of blue herons, and beaver's lodges. We cruised off of the beaten path too, squeezing through a maze of logs and snags to peek into low-lying bird's nests. Herein were perfect eggs worthy of Jackson Pollack: cream and light blue spattered with brown and black.

I may dip into Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn again soon. Here is a man who knew rivers, and what they can do for a person. A cobbled raft, a study stick, the clothes on his back, sidekick Jim, and a straw to chew are enough for Huck. Perhaps we should bring less to our experiences, and expect more from our adventures.

Give me the river and let's see where I go.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"In Flander's Fields"

"hey, Monday's a holiday. Memorial Day."

"oh yeah. Cool. Wanna do a BBQ or something?"

"ok. maybe catch a parade, too. there's gotta be one around somewhere."

"Sure. I love parades. Or if it's raining, we'll just catch a movie."

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard among the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from our failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

-John McCrae

Memorial Day Weekend, 2006.

I have a tender heart towards soldiers. As a matter of fact, I can't watch a parade without feeling a lump in my throat at the sight of the veterans, some elderly enough to warrant the backseat of an official vehicle. Whenever a gold star mother climbs the podium to say a few brave trembly words, it's all over for me.

It does our souls a heap of good to remember, and we don't do it enough. Personally, I need to up the ante. My favorite family has been watching documentaries about WWII this month as part of our history lessons, so I have stashed away some thoughts about remembering. In my parent's day, it was standard for schoolchildren to memorize this poem. It is quite time-consuming to commit words to memory; to carve them on our hearts like script on stone.
But at times like this, our human emotions crave a task to feel we have paid our respects, saluted, observed, and remembered. Pondering a bit of immortal verse enough to recite it at the dinner table seems a small token of our gratitude.

Then, in the lobby of P&C, you could accept that red paper posie with a knowing smile.
And say thank you from the bottom of your soul.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

out of town, but not out of mind....

The family I love most (this one, namely) is road-trippin' tomorrow.
We will land south of Rochester in Levendusky Land, where we will paint, clean, dig, fix, and
have fun while doing so.

Wish y'all were joining us.
Friend # 12 is. Hope she still loves us after all that "closeness".

(you know how long car trips bring out the best in people.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Madrid, NY: bright lights, big city

This chilly afternoon culminated in a jam session at the Sinclairs. Most of you already know that the Hallmark channel is doing a short documentary on Julia, in preparation for her guitar competition in California next week. For details, see here. As for me, I hovered in the background along with other family members and hoped the cameras wouldn't swing my way.

We have another gig to report to this evening: #1 Son is playing for a wedding, and tonight is their music rehearsal. So, off we head to the Nazarene Church for an altogether different genre.

On Thursday, we will stop in Syracuse to pick up four more violin bows on speculation. This hunt has been going on since February. Of course, the one our young violinist likes the most is always the most expensive! Perhaps we will find the perfect combo: stunning tone and crisp attack, coupled with a reasonable price tag.

Add the cost of keeping a violinist happy to the gallons of gas it takes to cart him around, and you'll see why the musician's life is a demanding one. Well, at least the life of his mom....

Monday, May 22, 2006

voiceless with something to say

a tickle in my throat
a bit of hoarseness
a touch of soreness

takes a dive for the worse overnight.
sigh. followed by a grrrrr.

During worship, I tried to not sing. Really, I did.

I avoided the clamor of Bagel Sunday (after church service). Okay, truth be told, I went downstairs anyway, just a bit late. And Friend #88 did most of the talking. Thanks, #88.

I stayed in the car during Daughter #1's riding lesson, so as to deflect any return greetings across a blustery riding arena.

I am resigned to hanging out in separate rooms from Friend #10 this evening, as the temptation to talk is too compelling. Having the TV on helps fill the silent gaps, too. I don't love the TV.

Hubby & kids are out tonight: worship practice and the big "24" Party... (I won't need to talk to them, at least!)

Is this whining?

I'll just hang out a sign: Character Under Construction.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Birchbark Purchases

We spent a few hours at one of my favorite places yesterday: Birchbark Books. It's a barn with style: a labyrinth of wood, paper, fuzzy old chairs, smooth stones, handmade furniture, and the sound of hammered dulcimer. The creaky floors are worn where book-lovers have long stood in deep thought. Some corners are warmer than others on a rainy Saturday; specifically where a pot-bellied stove is digesting its pithy dinner. The clientele is as wildly varied as entries in a card catalogue. The comraderie is clear yet unspoken. Our credo is this: We who love books prowl these prose-laden alleys. We are serious about books. Don't bug us as we peruse unless our pants are on fire.

Here is the list of yesterday's purchases:

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas $3.50 (orig. 10.95)
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (Thad Carhart) $3.50 (orig. 13.95)
Word Mysteries & Histories from Quiche to Humble Pie $2.50 ( ? )
Piano Playing (Josef Hofmann) $6.50 ( ? )

The last book was a bit of a splurge, considering the prices of the others. A hardcover gem from 1912 written by a famous concert pianist, it's chock full of old-fashioned advice. Within the yellowed pages are first-hand accounts of lessons with the incomparable Rubenstein. I love it. What a find. The final selling point: the flyleaf of Piano Playing is lovingly inscribed in spidery ink thusly:

To Gladys
From Pa

I rest my case. $6.50 well spent.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday Ingredients

1. leave the pancake-production to the girls.

2. walk 40 minutes in the light rain, relishing the quiet.

3. hang out with the noisy gang. Friend #55 is here from D.C., and his four kids are with him for the weekend. Friend #10 also joined us last evening, fresh from Illinois. She is in the pantry, rooting for something organic to eat. Friend #12, who officially lives here now, is visiting family. We miss her.

4. scrap our canoe trip. take up plans to visit Birchbark Bookstore and possibly go bowling.

5. make a bowl of fresh salsa for lunch.

6. rejoice in a lazy, rainy Saturday.

7. reflect on the fact that having mounds of company is a bit of work, but that I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Family Surprise

My hubby's mother is a very special person.

Although her life has been fraught with disappointment in numerous ways, she has a sunny and positive disposition. Her unshaking faith in the power of prayer towers in comparison to mine. She knows how to believe God's Word, and patterns her life accordingly. Never one to complain, she has made do with what she's been given.

Our family was blessed to share our home with her for a few years. The little darlings got to know their grandma, which was a privilege denied to them until that time. Circumstances began to turn around for her. She flourished in the company of many: new friends, her accordian band, church events; at bible studies, craft fairs and family gatherings. When our famliy re-located to the North Country, we invited her to come with us. She had grown to love the church there (and they had grown to love her), and her decision was firm.

"No," said she. "They need me here."

And so they did. For these past four years, Gramma Jean made herself indispensable. (True servants are, you know.)

In her many visits here, though, she would wistfully say, "I see myself joining you here someday." We would nod wisely and say, "Just say the word, Mom."

God loves to surprise His kids. The little house by the river in Norwood (the one my guys built last year) will soon be Gramma Jean's new abode. She had never owned a home before, and it's perfect for her. If we had known how things would turn out, we wouldn't have changed a thing about it, either. #1 Son can bike there, mow the lawn for her, and generally hang out anytime. #1 Daughter wants to do crafts with Gramma again. The sewing machine will probably get some use, too. I'm looking forward to long visits on the porch after kayaking on the river. Her #1 Son will be stopping by often, too. Family dinners will include Gramma again. What fun we will all have!

Tonight, she and a friend are camping out on the carpets there. New and treasured belongings will take up residence soon. And every time I walk under the threshold of that little tan house by the river, I will think what pleasure God had in bringing it to pass.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the spring rain, watering the earth

You care for the land and water it;
You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.

Psalm 65:9-10

I simply cannot quench my thirst for the outdoors lately. My insides seem to quiver for draughts of fresh spring air. Most days find me bounding out of bed, eagerly scanning the sky. (One of my favorite authors, Willa Cather, perceptively calls it nimble air. She knows.) Yesterday, an early morning walk and a noon-time paddle on the Raquette River only tickled my soul-quest for green. (I wonder: how many words for green are in the English language?)

A dab of feathery-lemon trembles on a branch outside my window: a yellow finch braving the rain and cheering my heart. The patter of rain taps pleasantly on our tin roof. The yard is littered with spent white blossoms; drenched harbingers of late-summer fruit. As I tackle a few neglected indoor projects, I anticipate an anniversary dinner for two:

Sergi's margherita pizza, anchovies on the side.
perhaps a tossed salad, too.

-because one can never have too much green.....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Worth Four in the Bush

We have been photo-docking the hatchery in our yard. Mommy Robin upbraids us when we peek in at her nursery, but I think I detect a note of pride in her chastising.
Here are the stats:
1) 4 blazing blue eggs
2) next day: 2 scrawny chicks are draped over their egglings
3) next day: third chick is born
4) Mother's Day: all 4 beaks pointed skyward

I hope this is as exciting to you as it is to me. Happy Mother's Day, all you moms out there.
(see my flickr for a few more birdie-pics....)

The Blessing Sleuth

The blessing sleuth strikes again. And again.
In the running for "the favorite part of my day":

1) a brisk row on the lake, during which it did not rain.
2) sprawling on a wooden dock, lakeside, with Friend #12.
3) performing a Prokofiev concerto onstage with gusto.
4) discovering 3 newly-hatched robins in our grapevine nest.
5) delivering kids to Vision '06 with the expectation that they will meet with God.
6) serving a home-cooked meal to dear people gathered 'round the table.
7) introducing Friend #12 to Friend #01.
8) realizing that I've known Friend #01 for almost as long as Friend #12 has been alive.

Of course, this wondrous day ain't over yet. It is 10:53 pm, and we are into our second game of Scrabble. Did I mention who won the first game? (me)

Since I am way behind on this round, I think I'll sign off now.
Why ruin a perfectly positive entry?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another Throng'd Day

We are reading Catherine Marshall's Christy. As a lover of language, I am relishing the Appalachain lingo she so cleverly reproduces on the page. When I read a child's complaint to
the new school-teacher that she gave them "a throng'd day....", full of the three R's and new class-room procedures, I was doubly thrilled.

After this week, my focus will be home again. A tidy sum of money, earned by the sweat of my fingers, will be applied to the household budget. And late at night, when I am awaiting sleep on my bed, a symphony of new melodies will ring in my head.

I'm now late for CFA. Naughty me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spring's Crown

nature's jewelry
cloaked in eider-down
and tawny grass
rests here.

the pigment of bright sky
and luster of milky pearl
couch here.

all the glass promises
ever made
pale and craze
against these azure beads.

no brooch
nor bangle
speaks life to wind and rain
as these
beating stones.

Lost & Found

I misplaced my bible.

It's around here somewhere. (Probably in the same cache as #1 Son's wallet, which is also missing.)
We have whole shelves of bibles: The New Oxford Annotated, the New Living Translation, The Amplified, J.B. Phillips, Revised Standard, New Revised Standard, and so on. And that's just the
row before me at this moment. In how many ways can we serve it up? Answer: in as many ways as it takes.....

Our mornings start with a liberal (not politically liberal!) dose of scripture reading. I'll feel like a fish out of water without my leather burgundy slim-line NASB on my lap.

So, excuse the abrupt and skimpy post this morning.
I'm goin' bible-hunting.

update: bible found. was bedside.
oh yeah......

Monday, May 08, 2006

Honey-Nut Crunch Surprise

What can one do with a day like mine?

I survey the schedule recorded in my ever-present pocket-calendar, and begin to gear up for a doozy. (or would that be doozie?) The end-of-the-semester crunch hits at this time every May, and I am feeling the weight of it; not that any one item is overwhelming, but the whole mix looks indigestable from this vantage point. My secret weapon, a travel-bible, stays at my hip.

Send off special week-end guest,violin lesson, library, lunch "out", rehearsals, performances, juries, birthday dinner for Daughter #1, more rehearsals, and OH YEAH....teach school to the little darlings. Return phone calls. Plan a trip to Syracuse for violin-equipment. Maybe a bit of speed-practicing in between. (speed-practicing: skip all measures or beats you already know. Play out of tempo, hitting only passages that are yet unplayable. Believe me, this is not easy to listen to....)

That's a necessity. Focus.
a tiny dose of humor.
And, oh my: grace. truck-loads of it. (and not just the divine kind.)
6 bags of water-softener salt

If I tank up now, slowly and determinedly (not that quick grapple of balance that comes after a surprise slip down the stair), I may look at this day with a backward glance and pronounce: YES!

And as for being a "sleuth for hidden blessings", today is the kind of day one needs to hunt the hardest. But the findings are worth the searching. Stay posted!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Year Down Yonder

I 'd like to think of us as a reading-family. Since the darlings were babes in arms, we toted books. Bedtime, pre-nap time, down-time, in-between time, library-time, any ole-time: these slots were filled with our favorite tomes. Daughter #1 has taken up the tradition of fixing a lovely lunch for herself, replete with a book propped up next to her glass of milk. I approve heartily, except to warn of impending grease-stains on the pages. Oh well. A well-loved book is a tattered book. (See Hubby's bible for that.)

Just for fun, we are now reading A Year Down Under by Richard Peck. (I know it's a sequel; I haven't read its predesessor, but I will.) It made me laugh out loud, it's that hilarious. The homey language and dry wit of the narrator, 15-year-old Mary Alice Dowdel and her bristly grandma is chock full of memorable one-liners.

Grandma: "How about some supper? My stomache's flapping against my backbone."

(on picking pecans) "Be careful what you pick up," Grandma warned. "Not
everything in a yard's a pecan. He keeps a dog."

"Chilly out there." She rubbed her big red hands together. "My teeth is chattering
like a woodpecker with palsy."

"Skimpy coat, wasn't it? She's courting pneunomia going around naked to the knee.
She wasn't wearing enough to pad a crutch."

"It's the healthiest spot in Illinois. We had to hang a man to start a graveyard."

Is that enough to whet your whistle? After all my recent somewhat serious reading, A Year Down Yonder was just the ticket.

So if you hear any uncolloquial euphonisms creeping into my conversation, you know where I picked them up.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Merry Merry Month

This Saturday is Hubby's 49th birthday. Actually, his birthday is the kick-off to a marathon* of celebrations this month. After a winter lull, our family has an avalanche of reasons to eat cake:

May 6- Hubby's birthday (definitely carrot-cake w/cream cheese frosting)
May 8- Daughter #1's birthday
May 14- Mother's Day
May 15- Grandma Janet's birthday
May 17- Grandma Jean's birthday
May 17- our 20th wedding anniversary

...and that's not mentioning birthdays of close friends. (I'm talking to you, Petey. Among others.)

This weekend also kicks off a month of special company. We hope everyone has confirmed your reservations at the Hull Hotel . Please call with your credit card #.

May 5,6 - Jim and Tim Brown (Franconia, NH) en route to Kenosha, WI
May 6,7- Grandma Janet (Henderson, NY)
May 12,13,14 -Jim and Tim Brown (Franconia, NH)
May 19,20,21 -Jack McMarthy and clan (Reston,VA)
May 19- also Grandma Jean & Friend, perhaps!
TBA- Frank and Susan Farrow (friends from Spain)
TBA- arrival of new boarders, Friend#12 and Friend#10

Yes, there are still slots available. But forewarned is forearmed: it is Project Month at the Hull's.
There may be paint brushes, garden tools, or pitchforks foisted your way.
Oh yeah, and cake. Lotsa cake.

*marathon: a foot race of 26 mi., 385 yds. of the ancient Greeks; hence, any long-distance or endurance contest. Come cheer the Birthday Boy at the finish-line on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lady Be Good to Me

I stand in solidarity with my fellow-sisters all over the world on this: a bargain makes my day. Or even my week.

We (of the sisterhood) know that feral impulse that overtakes us when somebody exclaims,"Hey, nice shoes." The unsolicited response leaps from our lips, "TJ Maxx, 12 bucks, clearance rack." What is really up with this?

As teenagers, my two sisters and I would take umbrage at our dear mom whenever she did the same. Of course, her clearing-houses were more like K-Mart ("blue-light special!") and a now defunct department store in Schenectady called "Two Guys". (that's TWO-guys, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Don't ask me why.) My grandmother would serve a platter of something delicious, accompanied with the proud announcment,"These vegetables came off the dead-cart." (The dead-cart is that rolling metal rack in the produce aisle which displays overripe fruit and wilted carrots. You know the one, we've all pawed through it.) I doubt she could've kept that fact to herself. To her, it was an integral part of enjoying the meal.

It is futile to squelch these little joys. If we (of the sisterhood) acknowledge the perceived tackiness of announcing the price of our find, we still whisper it to ourselves. It's ingrained. I had to invent news ways of spreading the joy when The Rich Lady came into my life. As my circle knows, I acquired closets and trunks full of designer clothing and accessories from a woman whom I never met. This was a perk of knowing her maid, whose task it was to disperse these things, which were one season "out of style". Out with the old, in with the new, said I. (And into the trash bin went 75% of my former wardrobe.) I am almost exclusively garbed by my donor, and the response to any compliment on my attire is invariably, "Got it from The Rich Lady."

That's yesterday's news. The ink is still wet on this one, though:

The other afternon, whilst antiqueing with my mom and children, I acquired a piece of sheet-music from the 40's; a stunning arrangement of Gershwin's Lady Be Good. Price: one dollar. Come on over, and I'll play it for you.

You wouldn't deny me spreading the joy, wouldja now?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

1,440 Minutes

There are 24 hours in a day. How will you fill them?

7:30 am

On my walk, I pass this old one-room schoolhouse. I like to imagine the children in their knickers and with their lunch pails, playing under the trees at recess. (Of course, these trees were only saplings, then!)

8:35 am

As I dive into the first KP of the day, I can dream of kayaking. This miniature replica (compliments of Friend #88) of what sits in the driveway cheers me on.

9:56 am

“Studious Boy at work”

10:12 am

“Our Daily Bread”

2:18 pm

We arrive at Honeydew Acres for riding lessons. Kookalie is finishing up, Daughter #1 is next. It is the perfect afternoon to be in the ring!

2:22 pm

Kemosquabe perches for a photo. And, no, she’s not quite potty-trained…..

3:44 pm

Here is the view from the piano bench: Accompanying a voice lesson is an interesting highlight of my day.

4:15 pm

“Hot Cross Buns”, warmed by the afternoon sun.

5:20 pm

Pork Chops a la Salsa, dirty rice, and green beans: the daily special at the Hull’s Diner.

6:15 pm

“New Arrival at the Pony Farm”, Norfolk, NY

7:08 pm

My first sashay onto the Grasse River this season. Heaven.

8:18 pm

“Worship Band: creating the atmosphere”

8:21 pm

“Julsie Rocks”

8:46 pm

#1 Son takes the camera for the way home. (Note kayak strap…)

8:51 pm

A nice police officer admires my studded tires and expired inspection sticker. Because I was respectful and penitent, I’m let off the hook.

Just another average day. Fun, huh?