Saturday, June 28, 2008

everything a girl could want

And now comes the close of a very enjoyable day. Let me give you a peek into it.

-Even before my morning coffee, I weeded the garden. Everything looks beautiful and some veggies are ready for harvest. We enjoyed sugar snap peas in our stir-fry last evening.

-Then, coffee and a Scrabble game with Friend #7. I won by a hefty margin, which makes me unintentionally giddy. Sorry, Friend #7.

-Off to an auction with #1 Son. We met some friends there and had a great time. I am the proud new owner of an antique cherry Hepplewhite drop-leaf table. It looks great in the living room and I know we will use it a lot!

-Lunch with #1 Son at Eben's Hearth. I ate the whole Smothered Prime Rib Sandwich. And a side of fries. Such gastronomic excess!

-We joined up with Hubby, #1 Daughter, and a few friends to look at another house. Shhh--it's a secret! I'll tell all about it later this week.

-I dropped in at 1942. While there, I met three international students (from Somalia, Zimbabwe, and the Maldives!), ate authentic Korean food (thanks to Song from Korea), visited with Ricky, and entertained myself with some Debussy.

-Came home with Hubby, but couldn't resist the urge to hit the lake with my kayak. I waited at the boat launch for the storm to pass, and then grabbed my chance. There is nothing quite as refreshing as being on the water after a storm. Resting in the middle of the lake, I marveled at the sights and scents around me. What a wonderful Maker!

-I am ending my evening quietly. Hubby retired to bed, as he ran a half-marathon before putting in a day's work! (#1 Daughter ran her first 10K today!) She is at a friend's house overnight, as is #1 Son. Friend #12 is in NYC and Friend #7 is out with friends. A little Bible-reading before bed is the right night-cap for me.

Surely I can't expect a whole summer full of Saturdays like this.
Can I?

Friday, June 27, 2008

I can explain.....

Here is the bunny-photo scoop:

When I was in high-school, I was hired by The Costumer. One of my first assignments was to glue fur on to a dozen bunny-heads. (Other kids flipped burgers. Not I.)
I was able to work on them at home where they lined the bar in the cellar, and as they were finished, my siblings had some fun with them.

We also have photos of bunnies in the front yard, peeking out from behind trees--but I can't locate them at the moment. I also remember visiting my art teacher, who was home recovering from heart surgery. My mom waited for me while I knocked on his door and hid in the bushes with a bunny-head on. In my hands, I held a basket of Easter goodies for his family.

Man, I have done some weird things.

I loved working at The Costumer. I would take the city bus downtown, which was a big deal. Crazy things happened at work all the time-like when the cops showed up because they had gotten a call from a concerned citizen. Strange activity was reported on our backfire-escape.

It was only the gorilla suits, hanging out to dry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

a rich summer

Today, I was one of the ladies who lunch.

We dined at noon at the edge of the garden under the leafy boughs of maple trees. The menu included fresh fruit and lentil-rice tortillas. The conversation was lively, to say the least. There was a sweet baby to pass around, one troublesome "bee" to brush off the children's picnic blanket on the back lawn (it was a beetle), a new friend to become acquainted with, and a chocolate-y cake to satisfy our sweet-tooth. (sweet-tooths? sweet-teeth?)

After a leisurely lunch, a few of us took a country-drive that provided further amusement. (Let me just say it involved old houses and gardens.) Mostly, we were looking for excuses to hang out a little longer.

Last evening at 3108, we hosted a strawberry shortcake/hymn-sing get-together. Talk about old-fashioned fun! Twenty people can put away quite a mound of shortcake and the appropriate trimmings. After the bowls were licked clean, we cracked open our library of assorted hymnals and dusted off our vocal chords for a good hour and a half--a worthy exercise for the soul.
Even after the hymnals were laid aside, we lingered in each other's presence until the clock over the piano chimed many times in a row. Friend #37 (the Birthday-Boy) wouldn't go home until we had read some Sherlock Holmes aloud. My kids, Friends #7 and #12, and the Birthday Boy lay sprawled about the living room like tired cats while I intoned Sherlock's death-defying antics.

Bountiful opportunities to socialize have been my portion as of late.

Being a lady who lunches in the garden, serves up small vats of strawberries & cream, and lines out the hymns from the piano is not enough for me. After the din of guests dies away, I am left to examine my own soul. Did I speak wholesomely? Show compassion? Put others interests before my own? Was I mindful of inner promptings? Did I speak words of grace and faith?

Many times at the end of the day, I am broken at how I have failed Him. There are long stretches when I wonder how this lump of clay could ever show any progress in the "Pleasing to God Department". In my despair, He pursues me--drawing me to repentance by staggering displays of His goodness. He captures my heart time after time, equipping me with unmerited mercies. They are new every morning.

Although this summer of cakes and luncheons, of old houses and gardens, and harmonizing with friends does tickle my fancy---I am reminded of my Father's business in it all. He desires for me to be His voice, His hand, His vessel in all situations. Alone, I fall entirely short. With Him, I can do all things.

What a rich summer it promises to be!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


What are these bunnies doing?
Why are their playing cards so huge?
Is the one on the left REALLY picking his nose--or merely considering his next play?

At any rate, they look like happy bunnies.

This is a vintage photo from my childhood.
Anybody want to venture what it is all about?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

last year/this year

At this time last summer, I was in Southern Spain.

Southern Spain--
where I could smell the ocean and see the Rock of Gibraltar from the balcony.
where we shared sweet fellowship with new friends that inspired me with their zeal for Christ.
where we ate olives and paella and Spanish tortilla.
where we lugged sound equipment to outdoor plazas and sang/danced/mimed our hearts out.
where we laughed intensely, worshiped sincerely, and served cheerfully.

This summer finds me at home.

At home---
where rolling meadows are alive with the trill of red-winged blackbirds.
where I share sweet fellowship with dear friends that inspire me with their zeal for Christ.
where we play Scrabble on the screen porch by candlelight.
where we eat fresh veggies from the garden and grilled chicken and home-made salsa.
where we sit on the village green to enjoy free outdoor concerts.
where we laugh intensely, worship sincerely, and serve cheerfully.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

music to paint by

My range of musical taste is astonishingly broad and illogical.

Before I elucidate upon this subject, be it known that I rarely ever think of listening to a CD. There is so much music already zipping around in this little head; why cram in any more? Up until last night, I was busy downloading Sunday's violin recital. Especially the Bach. Greeting me this morning were last night's rehearsal tunes, still having a party between my ears. They romped all night long, I'm sure. Good tunes, too--the fruit of two hours of worship practice with fantastic musicians. They could easily keep me company for days.

But then I got to thinking. With the simple push of a button, I could switch things up a bit and change the tracks in my brain even more!
I guess I figured I was on a roll because I actually TURNED ON some music today to help me stay motivated in my painting-chore.

I listened to the following:

1. The Concerto for Violin by Samuel Barber. Hilary Hahn, violinist.
An extremely amazing piece of music. Somewhat modern, yet completely accessible. Hilary Hahn is one of my favorite fiddlers, having a tone that is always warm and direct. Her technique and interpretation is flawless! What's to love about this piece? It is beautiful, haunting, mysterious, and singable. I could sing it all day. (Well, at least the first movement!)
#1 Son is learning it, which makes thirteen years of violin lessons worth all the trouble.

2. When Silence Falls by Tim Hughes.
Compelling worship music by British singer/songwriter. Friend #7 introduced his music to me last summer and I have been hooked ever since.

3. Beyond Measure by Jeremy Camp.
My kids listen to Jeremy Camp. He's a little too rocky for me, but his music is worshipful stuff. (Think "Beautiful One".) I feel like a cool mom whenever I have his music in the car CD player.

4. Shostakovich 5th Symphony
Gentlemen, start your brass instruments. Regal, soaring, majestic, tragic, raging, and great motivation in the painting-department. I can really move a paintbrush to this stuff.

Let it be known that whatever I listen to LAST will follow me all the days of my life.
Or at least until my next rehearsal.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

my week

I really shouldn't apologize for the recent lack of posts.
Although, I could quote #1 Son's famous apology:

"I'm not sorry for--(fill in the blank).
I'm not even sorry that I'm not sorry.
I am sorry that I'm not sorry that I'm not sorry."

That about sums it up for me.

Swiftly moving on, here are some of the extremely random and completely unremarkable items that have made up my week. Be glad I didn't post in detail about each one.

-I went to an auction and paid one dollar for a box lot. It contained a ceramic planter, a wooden spoon, a wooden rolling pin, three small tin molds (for jell-o?), and an elegant coffee pot--the kind that has a woven cloth extension cord. It made great coffee the next evening.
Oh yeah--also a large bronze key on a leather cord. I tried to ceremoniously present it to a few different people, but no takers. It hangs from a shaker-peg in the kitchen.
All this for one measly dollar? What a deal.

-We are eating gourmet greens from the garden. It makes me feel like a queen. Except when I have to harvest, rinse, pick through, and rinse again before eating. Other than that, all those fancy and colorful greens are just divine!

-I had the thrill of accompanying a violin chamber music recital on Sunday. (Bach! Corelli! Vivaldi! and so much more.) The students, along with their very competent teacher, sounded amazing in the resonant acoustics of the First Presbyterian Church.
About thirty of us (Sinclair, Hull, Paladin & Co.) invaded the banquet room at Sergi's for pizza afterwards. Happy Father's Day, I'll say!

-I sat with my mom in Sunday School and in the service on Sunday. What a treat!

-Six of us went canoeing last evening on the Grasse River. It was glorious, as usual.

-Hubby took 3/4 of my favorite family up to Waddington last night. Our destination was the abandoned stone house that I have been dreaming about. I must say, everybody was pretty wow-ed by its intrinsic beauty. Now we are all hoping for a tour of the inside....

-I am taking a few days to put a fresh coat of paint in the family room. The paint was free- (leftover from a job) -all I had to do was have it re-tinted. Today's goal was to dismantle two bookshelves, paint the wall and trim, and put everything back into place. I confess: before I put the books back, I vacuumed them.
Sometimes I think I am a little O.C.D. I mean, c'mon!

-We found out on Sunday that my sister is getting m-a-r-r-i-e-d. She is the youngest of six.
That's fun, right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

sneakers gone wild

We scooped up these sneaks for cheap at WalMart. Then we dumped the contents of our craft bins alongside of them.

Then we had ourselves some fun.

We're wearing them to the bowling alley tonight.
Don't you tell me that we don't know how to whoop it up.

I'll say.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sunday evening surprise

This particular Sunday afternoon was hot, hot, hot.

During the all-church picnic (hot dogs, sausage, pasta salad, tossed salad, and baked beans: yay!), I chose to lounge in the shade on a friend's blanket. Others ( obviously not as health-conscious as myself) were lured to play lawn games by authoritative people in red baseball caps. Masses of athletic and shrieking people cavorted while I lounged.

No matter, we were all hot. All of us.

After the picnic, my favorite family wrapped up the afternoon by visiting another family. In order to save gas, we dropped #1 Son's car off in the empty drive of an old abandoned country church--the kind of church that makes me want to peek inside and look at all the old stuff. We combined our economic forces into one (1) vehicle and proceeded to our destination.

Once inside our friend's farmhouse, we discussed their upcoming re-modeling project while sipping pink lemonade. #1 Son threw his sizzling and sweaty body into their pool while #1 Daughter either dangled her feet in the water or escaped to the air-conditioned house to read a borrowed book. Little boys hung all over them, which they took in stride. Even despite the heat.

Did I mention the heat?

By early evening, we were all wrung out from the heat. We piled into one (1) car and Hubby drove us to the second (2nd) car, which was part-way home.

Important note: We "save gas" a lot in this house, seeing that six of us live here and we own a total of five (5) cars. We "save gas" so much that there were four (4) of our vehicles at church yesterday for the six (6) or us. Impressed? I thought as much.

As #1 Son and I were being dropped off at his car, I noticed that the little abandoned church was experiencing some serious action. There were three, maybe four other cars in the yard. And the front doors (made of oak and pointy at the top, like church doors are supposed to be) were open. An elderly lady was playing look-out there, hopefully glancing in our direction as we nonchalantly got in our car. I felt sneaky and irreligious, brazenly parking in their tiny driveway without putting in some pew-time.

"They actually have a service here tonight." I exclaimed as I read the church sign. "We should go."

We were a mile along when #1 Son turned off the road and swung the car around.

"Okay," he said with a shrug. What a guy.

So we sheepishly re-parked, hopped up the steps, and slid into a slightly-further-to-the-back pew. We were greeted enthusiastically by the eight parishioners and their substitute pastor who was late anyway and was hastily throwing an ecclesiastical parament over his shoulders. I'm sure the added garment, although official-looking, didn't make him any cooler.

After taking in the sights (smiling and white-haired grandmas and grandpas), I figured the average age of those gathered together to ask the Lord's blessing, including #1 Son and myself, was definitely over eighty. Maybe eighty-five. It's hard to say.

We sang two hymns a cappella, read two prayers aloud, listened to the reading of the Old Testament and the New Testament, joined in The Lord's Prayer, and listened to a short sermon. After the service (forty minutes long) an elderly gent offered to "show us around". It took ten minutes, as there wasn't much to see. He was very proud of their church. It was built in 1837.

I was invited to play the 125 year old pump organ (fun) --and we saw the fellowship "hall" and the church kitchen--which has no sink, stove, or running water. Just a counter on which to serve potluck the old-fashioned way, I guess!

I truly enjoyed our impromptu visit to the Buck's Bridge Community Church. The only moment I regret was when the wooden offering plate was passed to us....and #1 Son and I couldn't even cough up a nickel. They were so very gracious; didn't even blink an eye over it. They know times are tough and gas isn't cheap.

Country folk: the salt o' the earth!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


The peace that comes to me while I am on the water is hard to describe.

It isn't only the splosh splosh splosh of river water under my paddle or the flitting larks skimming the water for their dinner-- the evening sun glinting off of their silvery wings--that pleases me. The play of light on the riverbanks which gilds grove after grove of elvish-looking ferns, the ever changing landscapes, and the sweet fishy smells of fresh water constantly enthrall me. Enthrall is really the word; I never stop admiring everything there is of the river.

I felt my body start to tire as I traveled upstream, but I focused on the luxury of the return-trip when I tip my paddle into the current only enough to set my course. The evening breeze was like a drink of water to my face and arms. The cool tender billows of moist air that buffeted my little boat were welcomed relief, especially at the close of such a hot and humid day.

An almost noiseless ripple just to my right belied the presence of a beaver. I watched carefully as he emerged yards away under the cover of a mossy outcrop.

I traveled further upstream this time, as the spring rains allowed ample room to do so. As I rounded a quiet, shaded island, I drifted to a stop in order to breathe in the sounds of the forest.
The gurgle of river-water over round stones, the sighing of willows, and the warble of red-winged blackbirds were my music. It was here that I met up with a dainty button-buck as he nibbled on shrubs. We thoroughly drank each other in as I nudged the bank with my kayak and then sat completely still. He watched me unabashedly. I watched him. I could see his nose and whiskers quiver in the soft breeze. Clover dangled from his chin. I was interrupting his dinner!

The peace that comes to me while I am on the river is a gift. As I paddle, I naturally talk with God and He talks with me. We don't have to say much, really. Just two friends enjoying each other's presence. Surrounded by His handicraft and His company, I am empowered and enriched. Completely re-charged.

As I approach the town, the sounds of traffic reach me across the water. A lawnmower buzzes in someone's backyard. A motorcycle snarls madly. The twang of a country singer ricochets from bank to bank as I draw near to the park. There is an outdoor concert tonight, which is one of the summer charms of this town.

As the clock tower chimes the half-hour, I alight from the river and drag my little boat back to the car. Long, spindly shadows reach across the grass and signal the end of a June day. Teenagers garbed in prom gowns and tuxes pose under the elm trees with the river as a backdrop. From the other side of the park, they look like jewelry in a shop window; a delight to the eye.

I leap about the car, standing on the bumper to position my kayak. After all is tightly strapped down or stowed in the trunk, I shade my eyes with my hand to watch the sunset before the drive home.

This is the best I can do to describe the peace that comes to me on the river.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Did I ever mention that we live in an old farmhouse?
Yeah, I'm sure I did.

Anyway, one of the perks of an old farmhouse is old barns and the old stuff in them. This sounds so romantic in an antique-y sort of way until you realize that most of the old stuff is antique hay and antique manure.

There was also a plaid upholstered armchair that we eventually burned. (Sorry, Friend #32...) It was a very, very ugly armchair; one which I imagined the farmer's wife finally banishing to the workshop of the barn with a vengeance and the huffy flip of a dishtowel. ("When you want to use it, I guess you'll just hafta hike out to the barn, for land sakes."-The Farmer's Wife.)

But in our explorations six years ago, we did find a few fun things. (Besides the hay & manure, that is.) A few old medicine bottles. Old dairy records. And that's about it--except for what I'm about to tell you.

With a shout, I gleefully laid claim to a pile of oxen yokes covered in grime and dust. I knew what I could do with them.

But. I didn't do anything with any of them until THIS MORNING. I don't know why it took me so long. The actual cleaning of the grime & muck, the hanging of the apparatus, and the balancing of the potted begonias took about 30 minutes. (I used a few stray rocks.)

I have a few more of these. Anybody want one?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

garden of eatin'

Green things float my boat today. Like this bucket o' mint by my back door.

A spate of overcast and gloomy days have given me the incentive to work indoors this week, but I dipped outdoors numerous times for "breathers" from housework--and to spy adorable green things popping up from the black soil.

Yes, adorable.
Check out this guy in the lower right-hand corner as he pokes his head into the open air. Friend #12 knows how to plant 'em, for sure. She tucked those pumpkin seeds away like a mama putting her babies to bed.

The luscious color of raspberry bushes set against newly-weeded soil is a sight right up my alley. It makes me want to paint my bedroom Dirt Brown and Leaf Green. These colors make my heart sing!

The sweet peas are bumping the twine, their tiny tendrils eagerly hunting for a step up. Behind them, you can spot rows of mixed lettuce and spinach. We have been lacing our store-bought salads with sprinklings of their delicate sprouts, courtesy of relentless thinning. I plant them thickly with this in mind!

We have added a bed this year for squash, cukes, and pumpkins. They can sprawl to their heart's content back here. We would never ask our vining vegetables to sleep in a twin-sized bed. King-sized is what they need.
See that little porch? It's off the kitchen. I call it The Garden Porch--not to be confused with The Screen Porch or The Front Porch-- and we eat dessert out there sometimes. Or sit on the porch swing, swigging iced tea. Or watch for rainbows after a storm has passed.

Or just rock slowly and watch the gardens grow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Eagle Scout

Scout Oath (or Promise)
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

This past Saturday, 3/4 of my favorite family made the short trek to Watertown.

In the trunk of the car were 4 trays of chicken enchiladas, our contribution to a church-basement dinner for fifty people. The occasion? My nephew Djibo's accomplishment of Boyscout of America's highest rank: Eagle Scout.

Djibo was born in Niger, Africa to my brother Jim (who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time)and my sister-in-law Zalika, about whom I have posted a few times. When he was two years old, they came to the US where they eventually settled in Watertown, NY. My kids love hanging out with their cousin, who in times past was famous for his foot-tall afro and goofy sense of humor.

As the scouts recited the Scout Oath and Scout Law, I thought about how my nephew really exemplifies all these qualities. One of the statements his scoutmaster made about Djibo was that he had NEVER heard a negative word about anyone from his mouth.

Are we ever proud of this young man.