Tuesday, September 30, 2008

olde stuffe

It was difficult to narrow down the images from our foray into the past last Friday. We had big plans for historical enrichment from the oldest to the youngest in our little tour group.

After locking the youngest student securely behind bars, we went out for a gourmet lunch.
Kidding. Totally kidding.

It was impossible to do so anyway, as the curator informed us that they lost the key that turned the lock.

This is the curator.

Again. Kidding.

Tin everywhere. Walls and ceilings. This was the old courthouse in the village of Lake George. It now houses the local historical society. We were thrilled to find out that they flung wide the doors to us for free. Plus, they have a great bookstore.

They got the money out of me there, which may have been their plan all along.

Down the road a ways, at the foot of Lac du Saint Sacrement (Lake George, if you were a redcoat), we took in the view. If you look really closely, you can see an Indian in the bushes across the way.

If these photos whet your whistle, click on to the photo link for more.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

buckle in. it's the weekend.

It's been a swirly, whirly weekend for me and mine.

Friday, my entire home-schooled class (of 2) did a little field-trippin'. And because I am feeling so very lazy, I will send you here to find out all about where we went and what we did. When #1 Son gets home from playing with the big boys (i.e. local college students that go to our church), I will compel him to hand over some of his documentary-quality photos. All for the enjoyment of you, dear reader.

The next day, I went here for a steamed chai and a lovely conversation with this dear lady. She then gave me a tour of the progress in her new abode. Let me tell you this: she has such elegant taste! I rejoiced with her at the way things are coming together. I also shared a few tears with her as we reflected on the tragic event that brought her back to us to work and live. So many unanswered questions....they bring me to my knees. Once again, I resolve to be satisfied to serve the One who holds the answers to all our sorrows and mysteries.

At high noon, I caught the end of a performance by this fabulous band. They were playing my new favorite, "Life is Such a Beautiful Thing". (Yes. Yes, it is. It is a very precious and very beautiful thing. Thanks for the reminder, Julia Marie.))

After the band unplugged themselves and packed up, I picked out two of them (okay, one band-leader and one soundman) and kidnapped them for the rest of the day. I traveled with them to Lake Placid where we did music for a wedding ceremony --and then also the reception. I truly appreciate those young'uns pretending to have fun with a middle-aged lady like me.

The view from the dining room was amazing. The filet mignon wasn't too bad, either. I shouldn't tell you that they had to physically hold me back from hopping into a passing kayak. I had a dress on, for goodness sakes! By the way, the musical "hit" of the whole evening was "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story. Who knew?
In some way or another, I always manage to have a good time, even in a work situation.

While the band packed up (for the second--no, third time that day) I snatched a few moments on a tall, spinning barstool to work on my Sunday School lesson for the next morning. No, I did not take up the bartender's offer of a drink. Well. Maybe if it was one of these.

We arrived home before I was scheduled to turn into one of these.

So, how was your weekend?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

all wet

I fell in the river the other afternoon.

Actually, the sun was going down--so I suppose you might say it was early evening. The time-slot (not to mention the month of the year) makes a difference when one is quite wet.

I was kayaking with Friend #32 when, towards the end of a very generous two hours on the water, I made up my mind to go ashore in order to gather some very pretty branches to bring home. They had dark green, shiny leaves and hordes of fantastically red berries, and I knew they would look very rustic and autumnal in a certain basket I own. As my aforementioned friend waited patiently, if not somewhat quizzically ("berries? to eat? oh. to decorate. I see...huh.)--I pulled strategically up to a muddy bank and wrangled my little vessel into a position that I thought would help me climb out with dry sneakers. Oh, if only.

It was the classic Wile E. Coyote move. You know, the one where one furry foot is planted on the ground and the other on a 1) ladder 2) tree branch 3) rumbling torpedo which takes off before it is supposed to. In my case, it was choice #3. Just when I felt like I was getting somewhere in the "exiting the kayak department", my little boat took off like a shot and left me attempting an Olympic cheerleader-split.

There are reasons I was never a cheerleader.

Ingenuously, I quickly grabbed my paddle and planted it securely at the edge of the water. Saved! Oh, I felt sly. It held for about 2 seconds before I plummeted face first into the mud.

No, I was not hurt.
Yes, I got the berried treasure.

And yes, Friend #32 laughed very, very heartily. Maybe too heartily. It's hard to say. From her angle, it was pretty funny.

She will now comment on this post. Thank you very much.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

cleaning day

My thoughts are all over the place this morning. Two things I'll grab before I hop in my PT: a granola bar and this prayer.

O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Properly armed, I will go forth and conquer. Why scrub and polish the physical temple while the spiritual one languishes?

Ladies, we have a church to clean!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


-there are three pizzas coming out of the oven. Fresh tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, mozzarella, and basil are a heavenly combination.

-Yesterday I discovered an old stone mill. It seems that everyone else around here (namely Friend #7) already knew about its existence. It is a lovely mill set on a bank above gurgling water that was too swift for kayaking. I know because I tried.
Here is what I like about old stone mills:
1. they are old
2. and made of stone
3. they are near running water
4. the are usually abandoned, which means one can peek in the windows.

Here is what I don't like about old stone mills:
1. cracks in the walls/foundations
2. I can't own them all
3. they are surrounded by unmown grass
4. in which are snakes

We'll leave it at that.

-I learned all about kabocha squash ("Japanese pumpkin") this week. I planted them on a lark--and because the picture on the seed packet showed dark green squash with bright orange flesh. That appealed to me, although I had no idea how they would taste.
I have harvested at least twenty of these beauties and finally decided to see what one tasted like. After cooking one yesterday, I eagerly tested the results. The upswing? Pretty sweet, but laden with a starchy, grainy, texture! Not good! I was sad to think of the whole cart-full of these gorgeous vegetables being only good for decoration.
Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that they need to "cure" for a few months in order for that starch to convert to sugar. I'll try again before Thanksgiving and write a full report.
I do love a good squash.

-speaking of gardening experiments, my brother just informed me that he harvested at least 250 of these. I had offered earlier this summer to pickle them for him. This excited him to no end. It excited me, too, knowing that now I don't have to worry about what to give him for Christmas. I have never canned these kind of peppers. I hope they don't burn through the mason jars.

-Last Sunday was the second class in a series I am leading called "The Valley of Vision: Praying Purposefully & Artfully". We are using a collection of Puritan prayers as a springboard for crafting our own personal prayers. I have been challenged to incorporate more of God's Word in my own personal prayer time. That's good, right?
Of course, right!

-Some things have been hard lately. Other things--things which are very transient and of small consequence--have been sources of great joy. God says that's okay. Joy--not happiness, mind you-- is slippery stuff and cannot be had for love nor money most days. So when you can get it, buy it up.
Here is a poem that soothes my ruffled soul every time I read it. Go on, take it.
My gift to you.


    LIFE has loveliness to sell,
    All beautiful and splendid things,
    Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
    Soaring fire that sways and sings,
    And children's faces looking up
    Holding wonder like a cup.

    Life has loveliness to sell,
    Music like a curve of gold,
    Scent of pine trees in the rain,
    Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
    And for your spirit's still delight,
    Holy thoughts that star the night.

    Spend all you have for loveliness,
    Buy it and never count the cost;
    For one white singing hour of peace
    Count many a year of strife well lost,
    And for a breath of ecstasy
    Give all you have been, or could be.

    -Sara Teasdale

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I grant myself a wish

Ever since the Madrid bridge has been closed, we have taken the "scenic route" to church. At a certain point in our detour, we cross the Grasse River in a place called Chamberlain Corners. Every time, without fail, I gazed longingly from the car window and wished aloud to frolic in the waterfalls.

Frolic is the only appropriate word.

I wanted to hop across the scattered flat rocks and plop myself down right in the middle of those sweet little waterfalls. Then I would gasp as the cold river water blasted through my arms and legs. I would have to shout to my companions, even if they were seated at my side, as the crash and thunder of the current would drown out our voices. After a bit, I might decide to explore the little rivulets that fan out from the roaring river. I would swish my feet in the swirly ribbons of wetness while the hot sun warmed my back. I would feel the smooth summer-warmed rocks under my bare feet and breath the woodsy wet smell of driftwood, weeds, and moss.

I seized this hot, unbearably humid afternoon, grabbed two of my bestest buddies, and did these very things. Aren't you glad?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

parfait, anyone?

Life is like a parfait.

Take last night, for example. It was a rather impromptu gathering. In the kitchen, there were eight sweet faces at the table. In the living room, there were six. These six dined at a lower level than the aforementioned, being seated "Moroccan-style" on cushions around our low-slung coffee table. We threw an exotic table cloth and a few brass candlesticks on it and voila. Moroccan dinner. Never mind that the fare was pasta and sauce, Italian bread and salad.

But the parfait part.

After the meal, Hubby and I lingered long at the kitchen table to swap tender words with Friends #88a and #88b. The living-room gang was raucous, as their youth dictated they should be. Some kind of game was invented which involved index cards, shouting, pointing, and side-splitting silliness. The two youngest darlings were in the back room with boxes of toys. Every now and then, a crazy whoop came through the wall which assured us that the boys were 1. being airplanes 2. being robots 3. being spiderman/superman/electro-magnetic stupendous man 4. a combination of all.

With the best background soundtrack parents could wish for, we sat leaning in toward each other, the candles giving a glow and a flickering shadow bringing a softness to what could be called wrinkles, if the lighting had been more direct. We are of the same ages and have been married longer than we ourselves can grasp.

We talked of our children and God's plans for them. We talked of seasons in our lives. We shook our heads in wonder at the things we don't yet understand. Our life-paths haven't always made complete sense to us, but here we were at a blessed intersection, sharing our children's best years, wiping up salad dressing with heels of bread and wondering together about the next curve in the road. --Because we are old enough and have had enough spins on the merry-go-round to know there are curves in the road.

We assured each other of continued prayers. A tear or two was shed, but it was rather dark and anyway, we are old friends. What's to worry about a tear or two?

No, we did not have parfaits for dessert. But the after-dinner offering did include sweet layers of varying texture and a little drizzle of bitter chocolate.

Proverbially, of course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

a disorganized list

A thick and serious stack of books meets me at every turn. Or so it seems. Maybe this is the reason I have not been able to post. Or it could be other things. Let me throw it out there for you.

-We are reading "The Scarlet Letter" aloud. It has launched some interesting discussions in my classroom of two! I has also given us an overflow of new vocabulary words. Mr. Hawthorne knew his dictionary, for sure.

-Last year I read "The Case for Creation" as part of a Sunday morning class. It held my attention so well that I chose it for our opening science curriculum. (We will finish Biology after that. Honest, we will.) We have been reading about the recent "Big Bang Experiment" online. So far, the earth has not been swallowed up by an underground black hole. These thoughts make my head spin!

-We started reading "The Last of the Mohicans" yesterday. In order to read with understanding, we have to brush up on the French & Indian War. In doing so, my little class will cover some American History and New York State History. I have high hopes of making it to the Schenectady Stockade and the Albany Institute of Art and History next month. Hopefully, what we have learned by then will make everything so much more interesting!

-#1 Daughter has found her daily joy with paintbrush, pencils, charcoal, and paper. We have her enrolled in an art class. What fun!

-#1 Son has come home from touring with the Julia Marie Band. They have had many adventures in the past month, a few breakdowns, and more than anyone's share of fun with cool friends. Oh yeah. I guess there were a few concerts in there, too.
Now he is all work and no play. Even so, he is not a dull boy.

-I now officially wear glasses. This means I spend a major portion of the day wandering around the house looking for them. It is my new mode of exercise.

-Monday night choir rehearsals have begun. I get to play Bach. I also got a manila envelope full of music in the mail for a real. live. concert. I am playing here next month. And guess what? BACH again. (Never mind what the program says. It's not Mozart, its BACH.)

-There will be eight at the dinner table tonight. Or maybe twelve. You never know.

Other than the above disorganized list, there is really not much going on around here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Love's Old Sweet Song

Yesterday, I dined with Friend #32 at Mom's Schoolhouse.

Two things occurred to me as I typed that last line.
1. Mom's Schoolhouse is a diner, not a educational institution.
2. Friend #32 gets mentioned time and time again on this here blog. She really hangs around, even though she now lives in Texas...

Anyway. One can get a nice, juicy cheddar burger there. And if you are in the mood for any type of soda-fountain item, the list is pretty complete. Also: "Mom" really does cook your dinner. She also wipes her hands on her apron and comes to the tables to say hello.

We sat near the upright piano where books with old-fashioned songs beckoned me. After I nailed that last burger-bite, politely wiped my greasy fingers and took a final swig of coffee, I snuck away from the table and positioned myself on the creaky bench.

"Just two tunes, folks. Two. That's it." I declared to no one in particular. I was pretending that the clientele had been begging for entertainment. Nothing was further from the truth, as everyone seemed well-occupied. Friend #32 was chatting up a walk-in friend of ours who sat at our table until her take-out was ready. (It's that kind of place.) And everyone else had their faces in their plates.

I played Chattanooga Choo-Choo first, to warm up the crowd. They needed to know that I could swing. Then, silently dedicating it to my dear Great Uncle Paul (God rest his soul), I shlurped my way through "Love's Old Sweet Song". Laura Ingalls Wilder's daddy, Pa, used to sing it to her, so you know it goes back a ways. This tune puts a lump in my throat every time.

The octogenarian eating the mac-n-cheese behind us was really moved, too. I could tell by the sparkle in her eyes. She wiped them with a paper napkin.

Here are the lyrics for this very old and very sweet song:

Love's Old Sweet Song

Lyrics by Clifton Bingham

Once in the dear dead days beyond recall
When on the world the mists began to fall,
Out of the dreams that rose in happy throng,
Low to our hearts love sang an old sweet song,
And in the dusk where fell the firelight gleam,
Softly it wove itself into our dream.

Just a song at twilight
When lights are low
And the flick'ring shadows
Softly come and go.

Tho' the heart be weary
Sad the day and long
Still to us at twilight
Comes love's old song.
Comes love's old sweet song.

Even today we hear love's song of yore
Deep in our hearts it dwells forevermore
Footsteps may falter, weary grow the way,
Still we can hear it at the close of day,
So till the end when life's dim shadows fall
Love will be found the sweetest song of all.

Just a song at twilight
When lights are low
And the flick'ring shadows
Softly come and go.

Tho' the heart be weary
Sad the day and long
Still to us at twilight
Comes love's old song.
Comes love's old sweet song.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

under the tent

I pulled out a folding chair and sat under the tent last night.

Not in the middle of the crowd, though. More like on the peripheral where the canvas flaps seemed less defined and the grass far less trampled--where I could excuse myself easily, summarily, and without much ado. As a matter of fact, there was a tent peg just to the left of my foot. I leaned my purse against it.

While reclining on my folding chair (family room couch) and leaning forward to watch the action under the tent (live broadcast TV from the GOP convention), I pulled my purse (my security blanket) a little closer to my feet while eyeing that aforementioned peg (party platform agenda) suspiciously. I was also uncomfortable with the group chanting, over-the-top headgear, and the frantic waving of signs/banners/handkerchiefs/and small children.

Alright, maybe not small children. But it was edgy.

I held out for some familiar faces. Tiny quibbles aside, don't we all love Rudy? And Huckabee can hold a crowd like a good Baptist preacher should. Their rhetoric was good, but it got late. I was weary of the group-emotion and was very ready to fold up my chair and wend my way to the parking lot (bed).

But I stubbornly stuck in there just to meet her. And wow. Wow.


It may take me a few days to check her out thoroughly, so that's all I'm gonna say at the moment. I might just warm up to being under the tent after all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

asking. seeking. knocking

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

What kind of person is the kind who receives?
an Asker.

Who are the ones who find what they are looking for?

Which people walk through open doors?

All my life, I read this passage and thought, "If I ask for this certain thing, then I should be sure to get it! If I seek for this certain thing, surely then I will find it. If I need this particular opportunity, certainly it will come to me."

As of late, I have been seeing this passage through different eyes. A person who is in the habit of asking keeps his hand open for receiving. One who constantly seeks is preparing himself to discover. The eager soul who knocks on doors demonstrates blind faith in a response.

After I resolve to be an asker, a seeker, a knocker----then God is able to move mountains on my behalf.

Monday, September 01, 2008

September First

What I brought home from my trip to Watertown/Henderson today:

-a bag full of bargain books from Borders
-a quart of green beans
-9 very large bell peppers
-4 hefty eggplant
-2 giant carrots
-a sack of basil (smelling of heaven)
-my friend (#32) who flew into Syracuse from TX
-my mom's paring knife (whoops. I used it cut the basil in the garden.)

What I did in Watertown/Henderson today:

-kayaked Lake Ontario
-visited with my mom/aunt
-prepped a colander-full of tomatoes for freezing
-raided my dad's garden
-ate dinner at Panera Bread

It was a relaxing way to celebrate the end of summer vacation!