Saturday, February 28, 2009

just some stuff

These days, you won't find this boy sitting on the couch very often. This is an extremely rare, vintage photo.

Alright. Maybe not vintage. But rare. He is too, too busy to be found lounging around.

See how monstrous his foot is? His feet used to be little, bite-sized things. Soft and only a little bit smelly--and then only after they sweated the night away in footy-jammies.

Those were the days. He not only sat on the couch quite a bit back then, but drooled on toys and tugged at my apron skirt incessantly.

Those days are gone, I tell you. Gone the way of the Wild West and black-and-white TV.

These days, he does things like this. See above.
If you would like to combine the tactile and the olfactory along with the visual, drop in at Jernabi Coffee in Potsdam. #1 Son has around twenty photos on display there. All for sale, although they can admired for free.When he is not in orchestra rehearsal, Spanish class, or studying Calculus, he sometimes hangs around our properties in Madrid. Today he is doing electrical, one of his favorite jobs.
He likes the tidiness of it.

Downstairs, the Mayor of Madrid handles the untidiness and all else that is not electrical.

Always looking for the esthetic side of everything, I snapped a shot of the late-morning sun on the stairs. Soon, these stairs will be carpeted or painted and the shabby-chic effect will vanish.
--as will the last vestige of pressed tin siding. This building was a tin shop in the 1800's. I guess they used what they had laying around when it came time to decorate.

Here is the progress on a second-floor apartment.

Ready for sheetrocking!

Hope you enjoyed my show-and-tell session. I am in a picture sharing mood today.
For pictures of the stone house, check out my other blog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

the blur of mad money

I received a mystery check in the mail yesterday. It was an official state government check. By all accounts, it was a small check. But an unexpected one, and you know what that means:


My only guess was that it was payment for work at the local state college. Sometimes my paychecks come from different sources--and the amount would total two hours of work for me. It made sense. Kind of.

After checking with Hubby (Is this check a mistake? Is the money already spoken for? Should I give it back?), he said (and I quote):

"Take the money and run,"

So, #1 Daughter and I hopped into the car and headed for the mall. I carefully obeyed the speed limit. Mad Money has been the cause of many a speeding ticket.

So I've heard.

She got a new pair of jeans, fairly priced and sorely needed. #1 Son got a great dress shirt from the clearance rack. (I got nothing, which is usually how mad money works when one is a mom.)

But I really enjoyed taking #1 Daughter out for dinner, and that's something, right?
Of course right!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

--because you asked. that's why I'm telling you.

-yes, the couple loved our house.
-yes, they scheduled another visit this afternoon -and asked that the owners not be present.
-no, it was canceled last minute. It seems that FHA doesn't fund homes with hand-dug wells.

-yes, I obviously blog.
-yes, huge fan of facebook.
-yes, I will play Scrabble Beta with you. Go ahead and start a game!
-no, I do not twitter. Sometimes I chuckle, guffaw, or whoop. I have also been known to chirp. But twitter? Never.
-yes, I never used to text. But now that #1 Daughter taught me while we were waiting for our pizza rolls at "Italian Affair", I could if I wanted to.

I felt like Alexander Graham Bell when I composed my first text-message and eagerly pushed "send". #1 Son called me back immediately to alert me that my message ran thus:


Have a great night, everyone!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

step right up, folks

For the curious, here is the skinny on our house, 3108.

We have our first showing this afternoon. Before I get all excited and expect a miraculous offer, let me remind myself that it takes time to sell a house. Especially in the North Country. Especially with this economy. Especially in the dead of winter.

Now that I have reminded myself of all that,

post script: I was languishing on the couch with a cold when the realtor came with paperwork. No one told me she was going to TAKE PICTURES. Now the whole world can see how cluttered my kitchen usually is....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

whatever will I do???

Is it fair for me to post a link which also posts another link? I'm not sure, but that's what I am doing. Read them both, if you would. You can then know what inspired my following words.

My 22 years of married life have been filled with raising children. When Hubby and I arrived home from our honeymoon, well....let me just say that "the honeymoon was over." Not in a romantic sense, but in the let's hit the ground running sense. He went off to work in his over-stuffed-with-tools white van. (He was every bit as handsome then as he is now. The white van set off his brilliant smile.) I waved from the window with a toddler in my arms and a 5 year old at my hip.
At age 24, I tucked my music degree in the back depths of an apron pocket, set my sights on things above, and went about making a home-life for my ready-made little family of four.

What were my days filled with?
-cooking and cleaning
-tending the needs of little ones, including learning to french-braid a little girl's long blond hair and finding play-space for matchbox cars.
-reading aloud (Frog & Toad. Dr. Suess. Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel.)
-singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" in the car while running errands.
-walking to the park
-learning what it's like to be married.
-learning what it's like to have two kids.
-stripping beds and hanging out sheets.
-reading all of Dr. Dobson's books on discipline. (This was a crash course.)
-arranging play-dates with other moms who had little ones at home.
-listening, absorbing, and learning from those who were older and more experienced than me.
-teaching myself how to cook my new husband's favorite meals. I was fortunate. He likes everything!
-serving my local church by hosting a home group and leading worship.
-attempting to keep up relationships with my single friends.
-building new relationships with married friends.
-stripping beds and hanging out sheets. Oh wait. I already said that.

A few years into this experience, we welcomed a new baby. And then another one.

Within a short time, I was balancing the teen-years with a whole new wave of toddler-hood.
My husband pastored a busy church. I sang on the worship team, taught Sunday School, and led women's meetings. I headed up the nursery staff, reached out to visitors, and hosted many, many dinners. I volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. It seemed I was forever wallpapering someone else's dining room. Regularly, I met with other pastor's wives. I volunteered in my little one's classrooms at school. (I was the "reading mom"!) I cheered people with pie, my favorite cure-all.

Spare time? I don't remember any.

Time to myself?
Well, there was a two-week trip to China to visit a friend. THAT was a bit out of the ordinary! (Thanks, Hubby!) But outside of a few hours here and there, I was always needed. In demand. Pushed to the limits in some fashion, be it physical (sick kids!), emotional (naughty kids!), or spiritual (wayward kids!).

Fast forward a dozen years. Two teens are on their own, now in their mid-twenties. Two little ones are well into their teens. #1 Son is off to college very soon. #1 Daughter is growing up way, way too fast. Of the "add-ons" that have lived with us here, Friend #7 recently moved into her own apartment. Friend #37 is studying in China. Friend #12 is sprouting wings, too. She will not be calling 3108 "home" for too much longer.

Recently, I greeted Hubby at the door at the end of his work day. The house was quiet - a rare phenomenon.
"Where is everybody?" he asked.
"Well," I answered. Then I ticked off the list of where all my peeps were roosting. It was a complicated list, as they had all flown off in different directions that night.
Hubby was energized. "Hey! Let's go out to dinner!"
Interestingly enough, I was not as enthused. I sighed a long sigh. I then sighed another one for dramatic effect.

"Those kids should be home in their cribs!" I think I remember wringing my hands and furrowing my brows while I whined this.

I was only half kidding.

A new season means new opportunities . With the independence of my teens comes a bit of breathing space. What shall I fill it with?
I am open to suggestions.

Here is a short list. Some of these things I am already dipping my toe into. -into which I am already dipping my toe. Into. Of. Which.

-more quality time reading the Bible.
-organized time in prayer
-mentoring college-aged girls
-finding new ways to serve my Hubby
-serving young families
-renovating/decorating our new (old!) home.

The list could go on. There's always my "pie-ministry." And also my personal favorite: "kayak-evangelism", in which I paddle down unexplored rivers to seek out any unreached people groups in the North Country.

When I find them, I can always give them pie.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

deep cleaning

There are reasons to clean your couch regularly. Besides the loose change. For one, you can almost always find a pencil. Or an M&M. (If its not too dusty, it's still good, I say.)
Now I can add this as another compelling motivator. Have the Dyson ready.

scraping the bottom of the barrel

Must. post.

-That 24 hour bug has hit us. Hubby is better now, #1 Daughter and I are recuperating slowly but surely.

-In the education department: I finished The Great Gatsby yesterday. What brilliant writing. The story was sad-- and it left me grateful for my own life, which is full to the brim of meaning and purpose. Now I am perusing Self-Reliance (Emerson) and other Transcendentalist writings. Mostly, I am inspired by one line and then deflated by the next. Emerson's core philosophy (that the spark of "divine" in each human trumps the need for orthodoxy) ends up canceling out his dead-on insights. #1 Daughter is generally unimpressed with him. But his thoughts on non-conformity and individuality have sparked some good conversation.
To boost our flagging spirits, we listened to the entire book of Ephesians this morning (on CD). I highly recommend listening to large chunks of the Bible. It is often the best part of my morning.

-Online Scrabble is my friend. Yesterday, I couldn't eat much (broth, toast, tea), couldn't teach school, couldn't go anywhere, etc. etc. But I COULD manage to lift my trembly hand to the keyboard and punch in some high-scoring letters. Thank you, fellow Scrabble addicts. I like your spunk and I look forward to pummeling you on a regular basis.

-I hope to soon travel to the City That Never Sleeps. I have peeps there, I really do.

-I miss Friend #12. She is house-sitting all week.
-I miss Friend #7. She doesn't live here anymore.
-I miss Friend #37. He lives in China.

That's about all I got. Over and out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

a few things to fill this page....

-Our family is attending an auction this morning. We like to poke through other people's stuff. Once an hour or so, we bid on something. Have you ever raised your hand at an auction? Notice the rush of blood to the cheeks, the tingly toes, the antsy-pants, the sweaty palms? Fun, isn't it?

-We received a fat folder, express mail, yesterday. #1 Son has been admitted to St. Lawrence University! Along with the acceptance letter came a list of generous scholarship awards. These awards were the determining factor whether #1 Son could attend this upper-crust school. We will now train ivy to twine around his outside bedroom window, make him wear a tie and jacket to every meal, and address him as "Master Benjamin". As for this home-schooling mom, she is still rejoicing on wobbly legs and wiping tears of joy and relief from her chin with the skirt of her new Valentine's Day apron.

-I made a spaghetti dinner last evening, which we shared with two young guys that we like a lot.
The late-night conversation included
1. transcendentalism and Thoreau's Walden
2. Federalism
3. the history of everyone's road test
4. boys having friends who are girls
5. computer talk
6. Jamie's peculiar vocabulary
7. Micah's peculiar hobbies
8. Ben's peculiar sense of humor.

-#1 Daughter is making a double batch of sugar cookies. It is her therapy.

- Yes, it is true. Our brick farmhouse is for sale. A yellow metal sign graces our front yard. It makes me feel so very fickle to be willing to take money for our home. But if a good offer comes along, I will get over it in a New York second.

-Today is Valentine's Day. Whatever your romantic lot in life, it is always appropriate to revel in God's redeeming love. If you choose to do so while devouring a double-chocolate red velvet layer cake with fudge sauce, all the better. If you must "settle" for sugar cookies, warm from the oven, dripping with pink icing, that's okay too. Eat your fill. But generate intense love vibes to those around you.

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, February 09, 2009

crazy fun

Today, I searched high and low for something, anything, to write about. About which to write. About.
I am also resolved to not end any sentence with prepositions. Seriously, I have nothing better to do with my time. With which to do with my time.
Oh wait. I actually wrote that correctly.

My muse was my photo-file, which is filled to the virtual brim with strange and silly shots. Also: shots that evoke pangs of sweet longing for the way things were around these here parts, not that long ago. a season or two seasons ago, in fact. Remember? I don't think you do.

Allow me to dredge it all up. To up-dredge it all. Up.

Green grass. Freshly-mown hay. The long shadows of a summer evening. The yellow of a sunflower that takes my breath away.

Oh, for the long, warm days when I considered dill a weed. Please forgive me, dill. You can grow in my garden wherever you please next summer. Even smack-dab in the middle of the curly-leaf lettuce. Dill, you are a clown.

This is the view from the side porch, early autumn. The boat and the camper have been tucked in for their long winter's nap. Friend #12 is rummaging through the back garden for carrots. Florets of broccoli. A kabocha squash. A stray bunch of spinach. Who knows what. She will make a salad, side dish, or jam from her gleanings.
Some days, she is my hero.

Was this really the view from the side yard? Or is this a painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection?

I have plenty of pics of food in my files. If we only snapped photos and shied away from eating all this stuff, we would be a sight more skinnier around here. Ask the couches. They will tell you it is so.

Every day, she is at it. You don't even want to know how many field of sugar cane and wheat were ravaged to satisfy her appetite for baking. Her mother really needs to get control of her excesses.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bid you good-bye. But I leave you with the following, inexplicable photos from my colorful and slightly kooky bucket o' fun. And pleas. PLEAS.
Return my rings and purse.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

writer's blocks of ice

Writing comes hard in these white days of winter. The imagination needs stirring, but first the ice of the imagination needs to be bashed open with a heavy, blunt implement.

Writing of any kind is a brutal business -which is why I stand behind the term "word-smith". A smith is anyone who forms something by beating it and wrestling with it. Here is an illustration of a smith which I can relate to. He is looking with disgusting disdain at his last sentence, a particularly dull one. Here is an old photo of an ice-harvester, tools in hand. For me, my pen is the axe and that confounded word that doesn't fit right is the awkward chunk of ice. Notice the stunned look on this guy's face. He simply cannot think any more about writing an interesting, thought-provoking blog entry.

The ice-smiths of old longed for this time of the year so they could tote their sledges laden with saws and axes onto the milky ice of the frozen rivers. They then heaved and hoed until sweat rolled down their back and chins. Woolen garments were peeled off, one by one, as they hoisted great chunks of clean ice from the clutches of nature's frigid chest. These quarried blocks were layered in sawdust and packed tightly into warehouses where they awaited summer-customers who had money for such luxuries.

Ice-cream didn't just happen back then, folks, like it does now. (as in "pick up some Edy's on the way home, wouldja?") You had to mix, crank your arm off, pack, and freeze this precious stuff in an "ice box" which held that precious block of ice from the ice-wagon.

Why am I going on and on about smiths and ice-harvesting and the cranking of heavy cream?

Because I went out in minus 20 degree weather this morning to look at rows of old doors in an unheated warehouse.
Because I would've taken pictures of all kinds of interesting things to spark the imagination to post on my blog but my camera was frozen.
Because it is only the first week in February and I am so through with winter.
Because I would choose ice-cream over hot chocolate, if offered -defying all logic.
Because I am feeling that way (frozen, dazed, and wrestle-y) about word-smithing today and every day, recently.

I promise that my next entry will be much more airy, animated, blithe, bouncy, bright, bucked, buoyant, cheery, chipper, chirpy, contented, effervescent, enlivening, enthusiastic, full pf pep, gay, glad, gladsome, good-humored, good natured, hearty, high, hilarious, hopeful, in good spirits, jaunty, jocund, jolly, joyful, light-hearted, lively, merry, optimistic, peppy, perky, pleasant, roseate, rosy, sanguine, snappy, sparkling, sunny, sunny side up, up, upbeat, vivacious, winsome, zappy, zingy, and zippy.

Thank you, dear readers. And thank you, from the bottom of my word-smithing heart.