Tuesday, July 31, 2007

a couple of characters

You might know the picture below as "Renee & Ana". Hubby took my favorite family tubing on the lake the other evening and #1 Son brought along his camera to document the action. The uncanny resemblance to cartoon characters is merely coincidental. Besides, Friend #12 and #1 Daughter are much more three-dimensional...

the home of a human being

I like to listen to NPR in the car. This morning, I laughed aloud at Garrison Keillor's poetry selection.

Just as I was about to post this entry, #1 Daughter strode by and announced, "What a big spider." Hanging over the door-post a few feet from my head is a doozy, alright. Bring that vacuum in here. On the double, please.

"Vacuuming Spiders" by Charles Goodrich, from Insects of South Corvallis. © Cloudbank Books, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

Vacuuming Spiders

I admire their geometrical patience,
the tidy way they wrap up leftovers,
their willingness to be the earth's
most diligent consumers of small bitternesses.

Sometimes at night I hear them
casting silk threads, clicking their spinnerets,
plucking their webs like blind Irish harpists.
I can almost taste the fruit of the fly
like sucking the pulp from a grape.

But when their webs on the ceiling
begin to converge, and the floor
glitters with shards of insect wings
I drag out the vacuum
and poke its terrible snout under the sofa,
behind the radio—everywhere,

for this is the home of a human being
and I must act like one
or the whole picture goes haywire.

Monday, July 30, 2007

housewife at work

Depending on the circumstances, I wear different hats.
In the past week, I have been a berry-picker, paint-roller, (interior. latex.) appliance-scrubber, kayaker, short-order cook, errand-runner, and phone-counselor. Today, I am home-maker. I get to stay home and make stuff. I get to wear an apron. I am allowed to open and shut cupboards, mix things in bowls, and ignore the phone if I have flour on my hands.
After a preliminary opening and shutting of the cupboards, I made a grocery list. Old Mother Hubbard and I both know from experience that in order to make stuff, you need ingredients. So I went grocery shopping.
Then I came home and put everything away except certain things that I knew I was going to need immediately. I shaped hamburger patties. I shucked corn. I made mac-n-cheese from scratch. I made three loaves of bread.
When I was satisfied in the kitchen department, I chucked the apron and dragged out the vacuum. With laundry thumping in the washer, I scoured the stairs. I rousted out whole colonies of spiders. While shouting along to worship music, I shook the devil out of the throw-rugs. While catapulting dirt, dust, and all things evil from the house, I mentally reviewed yesterday's sermon. My insides were strengthened by the cleansing power of God's Word.
That's been my day. Nice, huh?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

overnight trip

Our first stop last evening was Panera Bread in Watertown where we met Nichole for dinner. It was great to see her smiling face, but not great to see the nasty baseball-shaped bruise on her upper arm. Nichole was pretty nonchalant about it, and explained that in her free time she plays in two leagues. What a tomboy.

Here is a bear that we met in the blueberry patch. No wait. It's only my mom.
We saw plenty of this shade of dusty blue today.
This is what 50 pounds of blueberries looks like. As for what they taste like, you'll have to use your imagination. Or be fortunate enough to stop by when blueberry pie is on the menu.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

couscous a la Melanie

A daring spurt of creativity led to the making of this dish. I was inspired by the slap-dash culinary skills of my friend Melanie, who sings while chopping and mixing.

Couscous a la Melanie

1 1/2 C unprepared couscous
1/2 C diced cucumber
generous toss of good green olives
handful of chopped red onion
handful chopped pimentos (for color!)

1/2 C EVOO
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C orange-pineapple juice
2 T lemon juice
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 C chopped fresh mint
1 T of really cool Arabic spice (I think it is an oregano blend) which you can get from me. I have a 1.5 lb bag!

Prepare couscous, let cool. Mix dressing together and combine with couscous. Add cucumber, olives and pimentos. Serve room-temperature.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Madrid properties

This is not our vacation house. Au contraire, my friends. This is the place, however, at which my favorite family will be hanging out this week. We are preparing one of the apartments for renters. This involves hanging sheet-rock over very scary plaster, installing flooring and carpet, fixing some plumbing, and cleaning. Lots of cleaning. Lots.
The photo just beneath it is only a dream. Actually, it is the Robert Carter House in Colonial Williamsburg. Keep this picture in mind, because one can never underestimate the power of transformation. At least when Hubby is involved.

Adjacent to the Big White House is a row of 19th century buildings. The two blue houses on the right belong to us. I haven't had the nerve yet to go inside them, although Hubby and #1 Son have spent considerable time there already. The backside of these properties face the Grasse River.
Here is the meadow and riverfront behind the Big White House. I set my kayak in at the bottom of the hill. The golf course and our church grounds are to the right of this property.
Don't jump! I am standing at the rusty railing, surveying the jungle below. This is the back of the Big White House. Hubby has begun to cut a swath through the sumac brush, if only to feel the surge of immediate accomplishment.
This is the large post and beam barn on the property. I love the stone foundation, which is in excellent shape. I can't say that about much on this property, so let me luxuriate about it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

love vibes

After receiving a few trans-atlantic emails from various kindred spirits, the rumblings began. I miss these people exceedingly. I thought I was too busy to invest in much missing. But I was mistaken. I wonder how far love-vibes travel? All the way to Spain?

Ruth and the girls from Estapona

Paloma, Pepe, Jules, Danny, me

some random waifs on the streets of Torremolinos

words of strengthening to a dear family

Eugene serenades us. The stickers on the keyboard are just an extra touch...

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I played hooky from Sunday school this morning. I was elsewhere. Gone. A no-show. I went astray, made a non appearance. Made the slip, split, bolted for the hinterlands.
If you knew where to look, you may have seen the departing ripple of a green kayak or heard the nimble splosh of an orange paddle.
I'm not making excuses. I'm not feeling too sorry about it. I'm not saying I should do this every Sunday morning whenever the air is cool, the water is glistening, the water birds are flitting across the river, and the sun is spreading its warm fingers into the marsh grasses.
I'm just tellin' ya where I was. Is all.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

girls night

Girls Night at the Hull's. We watched "Titanic". We attempted to toast s'mores, but the grill wouldn't light. Undefeated, we ate them untoasted. We consumed omelettes for breakfast. We crafted some funky cloth headbands. We played duets on the piano.
Girls Night. Gotta love it.

The Material Girls

Millsie at work

posing with the finished product

Friday, July 20, 2007

comforting scraps

Heartbreaking things.
Serious things.
Sad things.
And other harsh realities of life.

Topics such as these have been absent from my electronic pages as of late. It's not that brokenness, sorrow, and disappointment are uncommon in my sphere; I have chosen not to expound upon them regularly. One might read dozens of blog entries and get a skewed picture of me, this Exuberant Expounder of Everyday Events. I am not just the lady who bounds off to Spain, socializes with the company that mows down our front door, and quivers with expectation in the front row of church before worship commences. I am also the lady who worries too much, can't seem to maintain a regular prayer-life, and is sorely grieved by her own shortcomings. That's me, alright. All of the above, in varying measures depending on the time of day and the changeable transparency of my persona.
So complicated am I that is it any wonder that I have three personal angels? I really do. At least, according to Lloyd, a guy that goes to my church. Lloyd is kind of different but still nice. He has a gift of seeing angels, I guess, and I've been around the block enough to not scoff at such stuff. A few years ago, he took me aside during coffee hour to give me a scrap of notebook paper full of earnest scribbling. According to Lloyd, he rarely sees more than one angel around a person, but in my case, he saw three. This got my attention. Here is, verbatim, what he wrote:

1) Angel of Obedience - person willingness to follow all of God's leading with no hesitation.
2) Angel of Love and Dedication- he loves the Lord with all his mind. He dedicates his life daily to the Lord. GREAT is the love of the Lord to him.
3) Angel of Worship and Praise- this person heart is deeply tuned to the Lord. Kneeling and praising, raising of hand is common to this person especially during services and in private devotions.

I'm not sure what it all means, but I liked it so much that I keep it tucked in my bible. If three angels weren't enough, Lloyd tacked this note onto the bottom of the page:

The Lord will answer her most inner fervent prayers.

To hold my worrisome, undisciplined, and grieved self in check against the mounting tide of the heartbreaking, the serious and the sad wreckage all around me, sometimes I read scraps of paper like these. I tuck them back into the dark, cool, recesses of the Old Testament and let them be for awhile. And even though I'm not completely sold on the angel-thing, I feel better equipped for the job ahead. I mean, c'mon. Who gets three angels?

Come to think of it, counting Lloyd, that's makes four.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

pretty in pink

My niece Aisha got some hammock-time during Aunt Fran's 79th and 1/2 birthday party. I think pink is her color!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Swiss Chard Thai Rolls

I hit the jackpot with tonight's culinary experiment, and needed to write it down before I lost the magic. It takes a little extra prep time, but the results are worth it.

Swiss Chard Thai Rolls

3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T soy sauce
3 T peanut butter
1 T molasses
2 tsp ginger root, grated
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 T apple cider vinegar

Combine in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly.

3 cups cold rice
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green onion, chopped

Combine rice and vegetables in a large bowl. Pour marinade over all, mixing thoroughly. Set aside while swiss chard is prepared.

2 lbs of swiss chard, stems removed

Steam swiss chard for a few minutes until just barely tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place 2 tablespoons of rice mixtures onto each leaf. Fold as you would a tortilla, tucking in the ends. Chill rolls and serve with soy sauce or Newman's Own Light Lime Vinegarette as a dipping sauce. Makes 2 dozen rolls.

the gift and the trespass

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned"-- (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:12

"But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many." (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:15

"The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification." (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:16

One could attempt to argue the unfairness of it all. Christian doctrine teaches that sin entered the world through one man. One lousy guy (Adam) messed up big time, and consequently, all humanity down through the ages has been afflicted with the stamp of sin. Without the benefit of inductive study (not to mention the help of the Spirit!), the average educated and rational person may take affront to this truth. Alternatively, a steeped-in-Sunday-School-Christian might take a different track and snake the long pointy finger of blame directly back to big brother Adam. "Sin is not my fault. He started it."
Inductive study of the passage in question might clear the air altogether. The main subject of Romans 5 could be summed up as "results of justification". After reminding us of the peace and love that are ours as God's redeemed, the apostle Paul warms up to his case. His example of Adam's sin and the havoc it wreaked is merely a shadow that compels us to look to the image that cast it: Jesus.
Imagine yourself strolling down a country lane on a cloudless summer day. All at once, an inexplicable inky shadow ripples over the road before you. What would be your first physical reaction? Simple! You would give yourself whiplash looking upward to see what caused the shadow. As a compass points north, so the Scriptures point to Jesus and His work on the cross.
Back to Romans 5. After Paul the lawyer establishes that sin entered the world through one man, he points out the differences of Christ's accomplishment: more specifically, that the free gift is not like the trespass. Check this out: by the disobedience of one (Adam), many were made sinners. By the obedience of One (Jesus), the many will be made righteous. One trespass (Adam's) brought condemnation for all men. But one act of righteousness (Jesus') resulted in justification that brings life for all men. A closer look at Romans 5 brings the amazing work of Christ to the forefront, and leaves the shadow of Adam's sin in the dust.

I never cease to be astonished by God's perfect plan.

Monday, July 16, 2007

expect wonders

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders." -- Henry David Thoreau

A neglected plot of ground is a sad sight. A glance from my side porch will provide enough weedy profusion to demonstrate this fact. This is the first summer in a long time that I do not have a garden, and I feel it sorely. To slake my garden-thirst and to keep our vegetable bin amply supplied, I make a weekly visit to Martin's Farm. I raided the stand for broccoli, cilantro, summer squash, tomatoes, and swiss chard. With my last vestige of self-dignity, I humbly ask if I can pick my own beans. ( I know all about beans. I usually plant my own beans. I know what bean plants look like. I need beans and I need beans now.)
There are yet a few treasures to be had from my weedy patch in the side yard. Stalks of wispy dill tower over varieties of ragged grass. A dozen sunflower poles have stationed themselves throughout, their lazy and deferential heads bobbing in the sun. Although the parsley bed has bolted, the flowering crown is lovely to behold, and a foraging cook can still find enough leaves to flavor her salad. True, a plant will not spring up where no seed has been. But I, too, have great faith in a seed, especially last year's survivors that have doggedly punched their way into this year's sunshine.
Time will not allow me to wax eloquent on the across-the-board applications of seed. Let's just say that Thoreau was right: Convince me you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

random shots

Estapona Flea Market: we shopped for fruit, olives, shoes, and clothing with the locals.
Malaga: again, another trip to the market. This time with Melanie, DP, Stef, and Jeff for dinner ingredients.
Pastor Bonito: in a reflective moment. One of my favorite shots.
DP, Camp Mattress, and Bubs: a moment of hilarity for no apparent reason.
We Can Explain: In parting, all the girls were comparing tans. DP inquired,"what are you doing?" and then after hearing the answer, said,"Cool", balanced his empty plate on top of their arms and walked away.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

how marvelous!

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior's love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calv'ry, And suffered and died alone.
How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior's love for me!

When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see,
'Twill be my joy thro' the ages To sing of His love for me.
How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior's love for me!

~Charles H. Gabriel

Friday, July 13, 2007


Sometimes it helps me to download my thoughts. In no particular order, here they are.

-My favorite family attended a performance of The Taffetas last evening. Loved it. Did it help that we are intimately acquainted with half the main cast (that would be 2 people) and 2/3 of the band (also 2)? Nah. We would've given thumbs up either way.

-We came home late and a strange man greeted us at the door. It was Joe Moore. "Oh yeahhh." said I. "It slipped my mind that you were coming." He was dropped off by friends, so there weren't any wheels in the drive to alert us of his presence. It's all good, though. While seated at the kitchen table, he strummed his guitar and related tales about his year in China while I slid a casserole of baked beans into the oven. A few kitchen chores were going to keep me up for awhile, so it was nice to have musical company.

-I arose early to slap a double coat of paint on a sandwich-board sign. The birds were my musical company this time, and it was lovely until a heap of thunder clouds sent me dashing into the barn for cover. Finishing the chore in a damp barn was not quite as inspiring.

-Instead of browsing through the sidewalk sales and street vendor trucks lined up and down Market Street, I took a side road and parked by the river. Although the wind was a bit brisk, I paddled for an hour in the crisp summer air. Everything was fresh and new and bright, thanks to the gully-washer that had pranced through town an hour earlier.

-There is a cake in the oven: Buckwheat Coffee Cake.

-#1 Son gets to pick out a new violin bow. His present bow was in for re-hairing and was accidentally snapped in half. In half. Accidentally. He will most likely upgrade when shopping, which demonstrates this principle: many times there is a blessing in the breaking.

-Tomorrow we travel to Lake Ontario for a fun family party in honor of Aunt Fran's 80th birthday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

how deep can you go?

"To sum it all up, brethren, we beg and pray you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have learned from us the way of life that pleases God, you may continue in it, as indeed you are doing, and deepen your experience of it." ~First Letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, Chapter 4 (J.B. Phillips)

The Christian life should not be a static experience, but rather an evolving, flowering, burgeoning adventure. With a simple change of tone, this statement can be either an preachy exhortation or a complaint directed toward self. Please be relieved to know that I am speaking to the face in the mirror this time. Fresh from a few weeks overseas, I am reminded of one of the best reasons to go on a short-term missions trip: the effectual kick in the hinder parts that comes with being rousted from my perfectly comfortable routine. At first, it smarts. Soon afterward I become grateful for it because, although I do not hanker for the discomfort that comes with growing pains, experience has taught me that pleasant fruit is in store for me if only I am cheerfully and thoroughly obedient to the challenge.
I, along with believers all over the world, have been gloriously graced with an authentic Christian experience. What then? Without the infilling (and re-infilling!) of the Holy Spirit, salvation can end up a brass trophy which is taken down from the mantle to be polished from time to time. God have mercy on us! God have mercy on me, rather. (Mirror-talk, remember?)
The Apostle Paul exhorts the young believers in Thessonalica to "deepen their experience". I'm taking that and running with it while I am fruit-hungry and routine-free.
And thanks, God, for yet another fresh infilling.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


This is my favorite photo from #1 Son's Spain portfolio. It shows the girls dancing in the practically empty plaza of Sillar Baja, with the flashlight on the pavement and the full moon overhead being the only illumination. The whole scene has a Salvatore Dali-like flavor which I love. I have named it "Intercession". My interpretation is this: In the background, Lydia looks like a protective angel. Liana, in the foreground, represents a praying believer. The ominous sky is a symbol of the darkness that we battle according to Ephesians 6.

the BMP

Today I bring you a generous helping of the daily stuff of life. You might understand my continued infatuation with Spain memories after you read this.
We have a Big Mold Problem in the cellar. I take that back. We had a BMP in the cellar. The jury is still out on whether or not the problem is completely resolved, but my favorite family came together in a big way today to tackle it. Being extremely (and conveniently) allergic to mold, I was exempt. So guilty was I, that I scrubbed the bathrooms in penitence. (Believe me, after me being away for three weeks, they were at medium terror level.)
Brave superheroes #1 Son, #1 Daughter, and Friend #12 spent a few hours hauling old paint cans, rusted shelving, moldy insulation, and you-don't-want-to-know-what-else from the cellar into the yard. I won't give details about the 5 gallon stoneware crock that contained congealed pickle slime. Let me just say that when you trolley a container like that into the back field, it sloshes. By the grace of God, #1 Daughter kept her lunch down.
Hubby arrived home to oversee the next steps. I don't know all the details, but there is some kind of back-pack looking thing with hoses and spouts attached lying on the grass outside. Gallons of bleach stand at the ready alongside assorted face masks. It looks like some kind of chemical spill squad is about suit up and descend the cellar steps.
The BMP seems to be contained for the moment. And the bathrooms here are clean enough for the Queen of England. That's the news from Knapp Station, New York. Where all the men are strong, the women good-looking, and the children above average.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Alhambra

There is a Christian Palace within the Alhambra which was built by Charles V. Inside the Charles V Palace, designed in 1526 in the Italian renaissance style, is a roofless amphitheater which is renowned for its acoustics. Can I play a concert there someday? Maybe. Good things come to those who wait.
The Court of the Myrtles takes its name from the beds of myrtle bushes which border the pool. The sultan's four wives may have had this court as their front yard.

The Sala de Dos Hermanas boasts a dizzyingly spectacular carved plaster ceiling.

Islamic arches and columns grace every turn , each display more jaw-dropping than the next.

The gardens make Martha Stewart look like she pushes around weeds.

Can I still get away with a few more posts about Spain?
Our excursion to The Alhambra was truly mind-boggling; a once-in-a-lifetime experience that begs to be elaborated upon. Having only one day to blow on such extravaganza, we arranged to get the optimum bang from our field-trip buck. On a day that was free from ministry responsibilities, we made the two hour trek to Grenada.
The Alhambra is the fabled Arabic palace and fortress, the historical seat of the sultan and his court. Situated on a mountain overlooking the city of Grenada, the Alhambra is the crown jewel of Moorish architecture and art. This home-schooled family spent this past semester studying Islamic art & architecture, so who do you think might have been a wee bit excited about exploring the grounds? I ask you.
We were bowled over from the moment we passed the front ticket gate. Words fail me, so allow me to resort to #1 Son's photos to give you a scope of the beauty we experienced there.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sillar Baja

Our last weekend in Spain was spent in the mountains outside of Grenada. Our hosts, Kurt and Melanie, sponsored a children's camp in a small town of Sillar Baja. This town dates from the Moorish Rule, which means it was established long before 1500. The local shepherds drive their flocks to pasture in the morning, raising fine yellow dust over the trail and awakening us from our morning slumber with the hollow clang of many bells. In her morning stupor, Liana thought the sound was an approaching ice-cream truck.
We hiked these mountains and picnicked on sandwiches and watermelon on the rocky outledges.
Farming is the only local industry. Most people have deserted this outback town for the nearby cities in order to make a living.
This is a view of Sillar Baja from the mountainside behind it. Only a few dozen elderly residents call it home, but on weekends and holidays, the town population blossoms with extended family.
Click on to my photos to see the kind of fun we had.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

a "thank-you" serving

A mantle of thankfulness has enveloped me as of late. Normally I am very thankful girl, but this recent wave of gratitude has surpassed my blessing-barometer.
I attend a church that is lively and is chock-full of lively people. The King James Version spells it out like so: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5) A few handfuls of these stones converged upon Madrid's Hometown Cafe after the service for some authentic small-town diner food. I surveyed the dear faces that laughed and hugged and conversed while they ate. (Somebody say,"use your inside voices...") I chewed my tuna melt and fries thoroughly, just as I plan to chew on my pastor's rich words from the pulpit. I am thankful for all this.
My kayak was dragged from the weeds, wiped down, and loaded onto the car for an afternoon paddle. This was my first water voyage in three weeks and I was eager to go to it. The rain was kind enough to give me room for a generous trip downstream and back. While Friend #12 took her turn at the helm, I parlayed with my favorite mother-in-law. Sunday afternoons are perfect for such spontaneous visits.
I am thankful for a beautiful newly-married couple. We traveled to their wedding over the weekend and were privileged to provide music for the ceremony. Other people that we love were gathered there also, and we all experienced some great hang-out time. My family goofed around and laughed all the way home in the car, too. That's pretty good for a three hour drive.
Later this evening, I will settle on the couch with some whole-wheat crackers and a wedge of seriously sharp Spanish cheese. This precious waxen wheel, lugged down from the mountains near Grenada in my suitcase, is being whittled down far too fast, and despite my vain proclamation that "THIS CHEESE IS ONLY FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS", I will eat some tonight because I want to.
I promise to eat my portion with great gratitude, just as I attempt to do with the precious stuff of everyday life.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flamenco Guitar

You haven't experienced Spain until you have been entranced by her music. We were given a private concert by a guitarist and a vocalist, courtesy of our recording engineer friend, Pepe. As you can see, we were caught up in the moment. (Thanks also to #1 Son and his editing abilities.)

four, three, two, one.... blast off!

Paco & Doreen ("Two Sails driven by the Same Breeze"...) stroll the ancient streets of Alcala near Madrid.

Stefanie & Daniella: two homeschooled sisters that are pros with handling a film crew.

The Gonzales' backyard becomes a backdrop for an interview.

Halfway through our stay in Spain, we were compelled by the Holy Spirit to make a crazy road trip to Madrid. Four of us made the sacrifice to pile into the van and journey six hours north in order to bring a cup of water to the Gonzales family. Our presence was intended to boost their morale while Spanish national television was filming and interviewing them for a documentary on the homeschooling movement in Spain. Little did we know that our unwashed faces, rumpled coiffures, and unprepared testimonials would be included in this deal. It was a tremendously emotional and significant 24 hours for us. In order to balance the heft of such an event, I unfortunately resorted to extreme giddiness and punch-drunk sleep-deprived behavior during the long road home to Torremolinos. With apologies to Friend #112 and girls, I sheepishly admit: now you know how I get. I composed a poem in your honor.

Four sleep-deprived travelers
Three o´clock in the morning
Two in the front seat
One set of directions.

Four hours into the trip
Three world-problems thoroughly solved
Two talkers, two sleepers
One well-lit rest-stop.

Four Spanish friends in the doorway
Three cups of wake-me-up coffee
Two occasions to pray
One minute until the camera crew arrives.

Four girls hamming it up for national TV
Three cameramen lugging equipment through the house and garden
Two sails driven by the same breeze
One reason for everything they do.

Four sets of hands on four heads
Three discussions about their future
Two assurances of continued friendship
One final embrace before departure.

Four wheels hit the highway
Three intense discussions of relative geography
Two crazed adults pore over a map
One triumphant driver.

Four more hours of travel
Three more fits of uncontrolled laughter
Two cans of Red Bull
One reason for this whole crazy trip....

"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love for the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart."(1 Peter 1:22)

Warming up in Heathrow for upcoming gigs

Mandolin lesson

He is Mighty, He is Holy

Plaza in Estapona

childlike faith

being there

The dulche leche ice cream is history. In was only in hand for a few minutes; I then regretted the speed at which it was consumed. Such are the fleeting pleasures of life!
I am situated under a red and yellow striped awning on the edge of the Plaza de la Indepencion in Torremolinos, Costa del Sol. Beyond the sidewalk of strolling shoppers, church volunteers efficiently unload the contents of a white van onto a cloth-draped platform in preparation for tonight's concert. Lemon trees dot the terracotta walkway while towering rows of apartment balconies encompass the higher echelon of my view. Hotel Picasso dominates the sidewalk across the way, its colorful flags flapping lazily in the evening breezes. A pizza-delivery motorbike buzzes the plaza, momentarily drowning out the incessant canned music that drifts from assorted cafes. Friend #112 exhorts regularly: "Wherever you are, be there," and I am attempting to do just that. I am here. In Spain. Under a cafe awning, merely taking in my surroundings. Having been delegated the official Watcher of the Stuff, time is on my side to linger over this present moment. Under my vigilant eye is a violin, a mandolin, a guitar, and various bags of groceries. The seven other members of our team are scoping out the area until the outreach begins. ( truth be told, they are window shopping....) Later this evening, we will sing, act, dance, share, and start friendly conversations with passersby. Tomorrow, we may do something entirely different. Each day we rise from our mattresses on the floor and dive happily into the schedule that presents itself to us. Our team members are a lively bunch and I am well content to be in their company.
I am pleased to offer a literary snapshot of an evening's activities in Southern Spain.

the fifth of July

A crush of happy events has prevented me from waxing eloquent at the computer keyboard this week. A bedroom of jumbled clothes, half-unpacked suitcases, and assorted piles of clean laundry was my morning visual. With the latest company (Hubby's dad and step-mom from Albuquerque, along with their camper) already pulled out and on the road, this hostess had no immediate reason to rise. #1 Daughter had lined the kitchen island with dozens of her specialty (molasses crinkles) that served as an instant breakfast to any early risers. The dust from Hubby's suburban had settled hours ago, seeing that he left at 4 am for JFK. The second wave of our dear Spain team is finally en route over the Atlantic after spending an extended stay in London, courtesy of the high terror alert. All is well with them and with their sleepy heads. #1 Son is still a-bed, and I don't begrudge him the extra sleep. All of us need to recharge for tomorrow's schedule: a trip to Utica for a wedding rehearsal and dinner.
We celebrated the Fourth yesterday in varying measures, depending on one's style. The menfolk tinkered with the boat while the womenfolk attended the Norwood parade. Together, we prepared dinner (Hubby grilled in the pouring rain) and enjoyed some patriotic elocution in the living room. The jury is out on this one: the final verses of "America the Beautiful" are tear-jerkers. We wrapped up the evening by watching the PBS "A Capitol Fourth".
As the day progresses, I aim to transform some notebook scribblings from Spain into bonafide entries. I have only 1500 photos (thanks, #1 Son) to inspire me!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Spain High

Strolling past the ever-present TV screens in London's Gatwick airport, #1 Son and I caught a blurb that stopped us in our vagabond-tracks. Terror Alert at its highest level? What's up? So we cobbled our luggage into one pile and sat down to catch up on world news. People all around us were buried in the sports pages, napping on airport furniture, or chatting companionably with spouses. No sign of concern or fear showed in their countenance and manner.
We took their cue and gamely figured our flight plans were a go, and we were right. We sped through Gatwick and on into London on an express line, toured the streets for a few hours, and then hopped on at Paddington Station toward Heathrow. (Yes, we minded the gap, for all you people that have traveled the tube...)
Time does not allow me to expound on all our doings, as we truly are hitting the ground running here. (Lord willing, I will do some back-blogging as the week unfolds. See this space for further details.) I spent a chunk of my morning in the kitchen preparing yummy stuff for a family gathering in Canada. We head out the door (still in mid-swing from last evening's arrival) for Ottawa in 30 minutes.
Bubsie and I are glad to be home among kith & kin, but I warned Friend #12 emphatically:
"We will be on a Spain high for quite a while."

Just warning ya, is all.