Wednesday, August 29, 2007


This morning:
two were packing lunches
one was eating leftover scrambled eggs
yours truly was reading interesting tidbits of online news.

Me: "You know Leona Helmsley, that billionaire hotel-chain lady who just died? She left 12 million dollars to her dog."

Friend #37: "What kind of dog did she have?"

(various reactions from bystanders)

Me: "She did leave $100,000 to her chauffeur, though."

Friend #12: "For that kind of money, I'd be a chauffeur."

Friend #37: "Not me. I'd dress up as a dog."

the air of late summer

The air of late summer hovers in bushes and under pine boughs.
It creeps through the frost-touched garden and ransoms the last tomatoes.
It shimmers in the noonday sun, shot through with pockets of cricket song,
while the crickets themselves crouch serenely in the roots of dry grass
to escape the impending frost.

The air of late summer.
It smells of cut hay, the skin of apples, and root vegetables.
Children inhale it by the lungful as they put their summer games to bed.
Mothers meet it forcefully by emptying drawers of cotton shirts
and shaking out woolen sweaters.
Young men stack wood in the shed while sawdust gathers on their cuffs and collars.
No one says much. They go about their business.

The air of late summer drapes a sweet sadness over the door posts
and elicits from every gate latch an elegy.
Summer is not dead yet; we breathe her perfume and know she is in the parlor.
We do not hear her voice, yet we piece together her words.
She is at the neighbors saying her good-byes; we hear her teacup rattle in the saucer.
Her carriage stands empty in the drive.

We speak loudly against the long shadows
and work outside long past the shrouding dusk.
We revel in one last warm afternoon while sprawling with abandon on the still-warm ground.
We hold the hands of those we love
in order to feel the course of their blood.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

the honeymooners are home!

Bride & Groom

Our Own Dixie Chicks?

Hanging at the Barn

The Pretenders

The Bride & Groom "sashay" down the line

Firefly's Point of View

I spotted her lovely countenance across the sea of people in church this morning. She caught my eye as I caught hers. The already-radiant face of this new bride lit up even brighter, if that was possible. That beaming smile and our exuberant conversation during "meet & greet" time inspired me to post a few more pics from that famed "barn-dance" wedding.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friend John

My mom played detective on her way home this week. She hunted down this peculiar treasure and tucked it into a card for me. What a lady. It still makes me laugh when I read it. (As you can see, I didn't quote it verbatim.)
I hope you enjoy this hand-written message from 100 years ago.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

salivate now, please

Tonight's Special:

Chicken Pie
Tomato Salad*
Blueberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

*Tomato Salad

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful of spanish olives
handful of fresh parsley, chopped

toss in a large bowl with this:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

eat it with gusto
because it is the end of August and the veggies don't get any better than this....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

home sweet home

The Dominican team is just now boarding their flight to Syracuse from Atlanta. It was wonderful to hear Hubby's voice over the phone! All are well, they "survived" Hurricane Dean without incident, and they should be arriving home before midnight.
As much as I cherish time by myself, I am weary of an empty house. (In a few weeks, I won't remember feeling this way.) To celebrate their arrival, I will bake cookies for my favorite family. Jam thumb-prints sound like a "welcome home" kind of treat, right?

Monday, August 20, 2007

kitchen music

I am slowly making a dent in a bushel of tomatoes, compliments of the Amish farmer down the road. He only asked for eight dollars for his labors, and I gladly foisted it over. A young Amish girl, cap askew and bare-footed, silently filled four grocery bags with them, and smiled shyly when I exclaimed, "That's a lot of tomatoes!" She tucked her head down into the shade of her cap, but watched me through her downcast eyelashes as I backed out of the drive.
The papery skins of the garlic were purple-striped and they stuck to my fingers as I peeled them. I employed a trick: lightly mashing each bulb with the blunt end of my knife to release the skins more easily.
A fat bunch of cilantro, after stems were pinched and bruised leaves were discarded, was reduced to a mere cup of chopped green. Its peppery and undefinable fragrance always transports me to Uruapan, Mexico where I first sampled its humble splendors. That was many years ago now.
Sweet onions were tossed into the food processor to conserve kleenex. (Some people cry when they chop onions; I sneeze.)
As for hot peppers, it was a mongrel-mix. In my colander were light green, dark green, orange, and yellow shades, all in varied shapes. Hot is hot, I say. That was my mantra as I scrubbed my hands with plenty of soap in scalding water. Even so, if I rub my eyes today I'm a goner.
Jars were washed, boiled, and set in the oven to keep warm. Lids and bands, too.
This morning's toil & trouble, offered up cheerfully in the name of doing stuff my grandmother used to do, is the prelude to an afternoon of the same. Except the ingredients are bell peppers, garlic, oregano, and white vinegar. My mom is coming to join the fun.
My favorite sound today? The metallic thunk that tells me my hard-won jars are sealed. Absolute music, it is.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

stormy weather

I'm missing my favorite family today and every day.
They spent last evening in Santo Domingo, where they weathered their brush with Hurricane Dean. Alan text-messaged his family on the hour yesterday in order to get storm updates, but other than those economically abbreviated lines, that's all the info I have about the team. Thanks for praying for them.
Hey, maybe there will be an update (via uTube) in church this morning. I would like that!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

catching the tune

Oh sure, just knock off that terrific worship song like it is another apple pie. You know the one; that original and unforgettable tune that rocks in my head while I'm paddling up the Raquette River? The same one that accompanies me on my walk through the maple grove over the hill? The one that wakes me up at 2 am, fully orchestrated with backup singers and all? The one whose partial lyrics grace the back of a cardboard paint sample in my purse? Yeah. That one.
So three times now I arrange myself at the piano, sheet of blank paper before me, sharpened pencil at hand, ready to put this baby down for posterity. If not for posterity, then for me, the one who has an exceedingly feeble musical memory. (I really do. I can learn a new song in Sunday service, come home, and with my best efforts, can't remember past the first three intervals...)
I tinkle the ivories a bit. I sit. I fudge. I finagle. I flip out.
It's gone. As elusive as catching a slippery fish with one's bare hands.

I made a promise to Friend #7 on the way to the airport last week.
"When you come home next week, I will play three new worship songs for you."
What can I say? There is something about Friend #7 that makes me feel I can do amazing things. (It works both ways. She blames/credits me for some of the amazing things she has done.) I am attempting to back up these bold and reckless words with the goods but this elusive tune is wearing out my patience. Maybe if I play and sing with abandon, it will sneak up on me and I will catch it before it scoots away.

Friday, August 17, 2007


First I was going to do it, then I wasn't. Then again, I was. Now I cannot.

Last week, I was invited to join my composer-friend to travel here to record this along with her. The finished product was to be submitted here for the jackpot: a bonafide commission to complete the work. Talk about a gig being right up my alley! My list of household chores paled in comparison to such a treat as this.
Don't get too excited for me, though. For reasons too complicated to explain, I bowed out gracefully and allowed my composer-friend to find another pianist. He was sad. I was sad. The musical score had already been express-mailed however, so today I dragged myself reluctantly over to the post office to claim a package that I didn't really need. Might I also mention, a package that I wistfully rifled through with the teensiest hint of regret? (Okay, maybe a bit more than teensiest.)
Tonight, after I clean up my various paint-projects around the house, I will seat myself at the piano and read through what promises to be some amazing music while the rain patters on my window. I will inwardly wish that the "powers that be" at NYC Opera are dazzled by the lyricism and riveted by the libretto. I will long for the next opportunity to ply my craft in a meaningful way. I will toss the whole she-bang aside and write down the worship song that's been rolling around in my head for the past few days.
After all, I'm the one who said there's a blessing in the breaking.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

a guy mails a postcard

I really wish I had bought it. Or at least taken a digital photo of it. But I had no cash on me and had left my camera in the car. On my way out the door of an antiques shop, I stopped to sift through old postcards. (I love old postcards!) This one was postmarked Potsdam, NY, and although I didn't check the date, it looked pretty old. The loopy handwriting on the back was this:

Hello John how are you I guess there ain't no bear out your way neither
Goodbye - Joe

Does anyone else think this is funny?

Monday, August 13, 2007

barn-dance wedding

Farm Girls lounging on bales of hay

Friend #7 and myself

Jon and Poodie

"Van Gogh meets Barn Dance"
Giving away the Bride (note the authentic sunburn!)

Friend #12 wearing "something borrowed, something blue".

Farm Dudes looking mighty fine
What a wedding!
The wedding party wore jeans and T-shirts. The guests donned cowboy hats, bandannas, and other sundry western-wear. As for my favorite family, we raided a nearby thrift shop and hit pay-dirt. We came away with farmer jeans, straw hats, and even a pair of barn boots. Friend #12 was able to borrow an authentic cowgirl shirt for the occasion. Hubby, the officiating clergyman, kicked his outfit up a notch with a set of black suspenders.
The wedding band was a fiddle, string bass, banjo, and gee-tar. The wedding cake was apple pie. The decor? Tin buckets of sunflowers. We sat on folding chairs and hay bales. Antique tractors and Model T cars were roped off to provide a dance floor. The contra dancing and square dancing went on into the night. I don't know when we had such fun. (I have more pics, but #1 Son took them to D.R. with him.)
May God bless you with many happy years together, Melissa & Caleb!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

last week's newsreel

No posting for a whole week? Blame it on a vacation, folks.
First we headed to Lake George for a few days to be hosted by the amazing Smith family. We enjoyed the spoils that Silver Bay has to offer: string quartet concerts, walks in the woods, swimming, kayaking, boating, outlet shopping, para-sailing, and summer dinners with family and friends. Oh yeah, we also sat under the stars while Yo Yo Ma played Shostakovitch and Saint Saens. Not a bad deal!
We then traveled to Port Henry, New York for a few nights on the shores of Lake Champlain. Our home base secured, we traipsed over the Lake Champlain Bridge to Vermont. Kipp & Caleb were gettin' hitched and Hubby was officiating. But that's another whole post.
Enjoy a few pics. And don't forget to pray for my favorite family as they fly to the Dominican Republic early tomorrow morning.
We got a taste of New England this week. I basked in strolling around the town of Vergennes, Vermont just to take in people's front porches and gardens.

Middlebury, Vermont is also a fun town through which to browse. This colorful display greeted shoppers at the door of the Folklife Art Center, where we were inspired by paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography, and more.

The thunder of these falls pervaded the downtown shopping area. I love water!

I have never been able to walk past a sign like this. All hardcovers:$2, all paperbacks:$1. Outta my way.
#1 Daughter and Friend #12 pose amidst 18th century ruins at Crown Point, New York.

These were the barracks for the British troops during the French and Indian War. We explored the grounds on Thursday, and returned Saturday morning to watch our first re-enactment battle. (I won't even try to compete with #1 Son's photos of that!)

Later Thursday afternoon, we traveled to Vermont for Kipp & Caleb's wedding rehearsal. This is the view of the meadow where the ceremony took place.
This was the stunning panorama that served as the background during the ceremony. The pond to the right is "heart-shaped"(how appropriate!), so the guests and newlyweds joined hands around it for a photo afterwards. #1 Son climbed to the top of the barn with his camera for a bird's eye view.
My favorite family has a penchant for rubber duckies, so you can imagine our glee at spotting this poster on the chamber of commerce door in town. Some people have all the fun.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

working up an appetite

"Still Life of Girls with Dill"
....except that they don't stay very still.

On the lunch menu today~
Split and Toasted Baguette slathered with this mixture: chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Let's name it Italian Chutney.

Green Bean Salad, recipe here.

Pink lemonade

What else is on le menu at Chez Nancy? 12 lbs of green beans will morph into canned Dilly Beans. A large kettle of summer tomato sauce will simmer on the back burner ( lots of fresh garden veggies added), and a tray of zucchini quiche will bake until lightly browned.
And then, my friends, the chef will trade her apron for a green kayak.
See you on the lake.

p.s. savvy shoppers: snap up your green beans at P&C for 68 cents/lb. Today is the last day of the sale!

Friday, August 03, 2007

she's home now

It was kinda like waiting to see a celebrity.

We paced around the house until the wee hours, waiting for her headlights to spill into the drive. The clock ticked slowly until The Arrival. Finally, she emerged from her beat up red Dodge Neon looking simply mah-velous: rumpled blouse, pinned-up curls, legs shaky from 17 hours of driving, and assorted potted plants hanging from her arms. I hugged her, but she was too sticky with car upholstery sweat to squeeze meaningfully. I mean, we love her and all. But we can always hug her tomorrow morning after she showers.

She lives here in the North Country now. Not so far away as before. She is going to get a job and an apartment. And sit near us in church services. And get busy for the Kingdom like she always does everywhere she roosts. Really: I didn't talk her into this move. She is a big girl and made this excellent decision on her own.

I'm so proud of you, Friend #7. Welcome home.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The Valley Song (Sing of Your Mercy)

You have led me to the sadness
I have carried this pain
on a back bruised, nearly broken
I'm crying out to You

I will sing of Your mercy
that leads me through valleys of sorrow
to rivers of joy

when death, like a gypsy
comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek your face
but I fear You aren't listening
because there are no words
just the stillness
and the hunger
for a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy
that leads me through valleys of sorrow
to rivers of joy

alleluia, alleluia
alleluia, alleluia

while we wait for rescue
with our eyes tightly shut
face to the ground using our hands
to cover the fatal cut
though the pain is an ocean
tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
higher mountains have come down

I will sing of Your mercy
that leads me through valleys of sorrow
to rivers of joy
I will sing of Your mercy
that leads me through valleys of sorrow
to rivers of joy
alleluia, alleluia
alleluia, alleluia

-Jars of Clay

It has been over a week now, and this song will not let me go. I have noticed (believe me!) that is not a lyric that tells of triumph. Rather, it is one that declares the author's resolve. "I will sing", he tells God. There is some decision-making going on here that I like very much, and it inspires me to do the same.
We may not be in control of the circumstances, but we are always in control of our response.
And I'm choosing to sing.


better than a passport photo

After delivering two precious packages to the airport last evening, I fully expect they are now sleeping off their trip from Montreal to Madrid, Spain! Girls, it was wonderful to spend time with you this summer. May the Lord bless & keep you 'til we meet again....
I promised to post your photo; hope you like it!