Friday, April 23, 2010

decision time

Some days I don't know if I am coming or going.

With the jumble of events that have been swirling around us these last few weeks, it's no wonder I escaped on a kayak the other afternoon. I was gone for three hours and when I pulled up to shore, I knew I had overdone it. With all the performing I have on the docket this week, I should have known better. Tendonitis is not my friend. Just sayin'.

But back to the coming or going statement.

There is much in which to revel lately.
A wonderful man of God was our house-guest for a whole week. He played my piano every morning, filling the house with his own amazing compositions. After late-night meetings, we gathered at the candle-lit harvest table for "tapas" and conversation. I'm not sure if it was the food or the lively discussions that brought #1 Son home, but he managed to be here for nights in a row & I like that.

Our church holds special meetings every spring. My faith is always so strengthened by them. This year, they were especially comforting. I am still riding the crest of edifying words that typify these meetings.

There is much in which to sorrow lately.

A wonderful woman of God from our church lies in a hospital bed, a victim of a massive stroke. She is my age. The prognosis is bleak. Despite this, her friends & family gather around her daily, praying for her, singing to God, reading the Scriptures. Believing beyond belief. Leaning on God's promises and on each other. Keeping watch for a miracle.

A young man of fourteen was taken from us almost two weeks ago. His family continues to grieve, but this week they grieve while picking up life where it left off the day he died. The jolting halt of daily life that comes with mourning is a necessary thing. We leave everything aside to mourn, to remember, to come to grips with the enormity of loss. But then the sprays of flowers are parceled out, cards come less frequently (although they continue to line the mantel and window sills), the dog needs to be walked, the bills needs to be paid, and some one stubs their toe. Somehow all these details of life were handled before, but now he is gone and how impossible it all seems.

Sometimes all one can do is to trust Him and that's no small thing. Trusting Him is a metamorphosis; it changes us.

I visited a dear friend the other day and she pouredout her sad heart to me like a bucket of sharp nails. The words were sharp and pointed; they cut her throat as they spilled out and made her eyes tear up. She was dissatisfied, frustrated, at the end of her rope, and besides all that, plain old sick & tired of her portion. We both stepped back to look at her measly portion, and I'll tell you what, it was surely something to tsk at.

Unfortunately I couldn't fix a stitch of the tangled-up embroidery she called her life. Even store-bought donuts (made fresh every morning from fresh ingredients, according to the tiny print on the side of the box which I read when I couldn't find words to say) did not staunch the riptide of why bother to try anymore.

Yesterday she found me in the crowd of "meet & greet" in church. She grabbed my arm confidentially and told me in no uncertain terms that she majorly regretted the pity-party.
"Last night," said she, "my husband, my daughter, and I got together over skype. And we prayed for a long long while together. "

She paused for dramatic effect.

"And when we were done praying, everything changed. I mean, nothing changed. But wow. We are seeing with new eyes."

No one can argue with this.

Trusting God is a force to be reckoned with. A mother who lost her first-born son almost five years ago stood before us yesterday. She stood broken, weeping, brutally honest. How brave of her to speak of him who she lost, I mused, knowing that the act of telling involves the act of remembering. And the act of remembering comes at a cost. She counted the cost in order to testify of the power of trusting Him.

No one can dare argue with this, either. As nonsensical as the whip of tragedy, so is the transformation of trusting God.

Really, the grit of life has kept me busy enough that I don't have time to figure things out. Not having chunks of reflection-time has even helped me come to terms with the heart-breaking- bring -me-to-my-knees stuff that has pervaded our lives as of late.

This is what I do: I grab the hard edge of the table or chair or steering wheel or plow ( metaphorically, of course) , grit my teeth, and decide to trust Him. No matter what.

It changes me. So whether coming or going, I am about the business of trusting. As our house-guest/pastor/prophet/composer friend serenaded us last week, "Have God. Have God" over and over and over again -and so we shall.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

so much more time to kayak

Tomorrow, I have a little recital.
It's only one piece; the Saint-Saens cello concerto. It takes eighteen minutes to perform.
Of course, I get to perform it with a cellist. Otherwise, it wouldn't be very riveting.

Then, on Saturday, I travel to Plattsburgh to play piano for a choral concert. I also will play a duet with an organist. I haven't really looked at that particular music yet.

After all, today is only Wednesday.

On Sunday, we repeat that performance in Potsdam.

-and finish up in time for me to come home in order to host a violin recital.
I will rehearse with the kids first, though.

After the recital, I will serve coffee and punch.

Guess what? After Sunday, no more Monday night choir rehearsal!

It will give me so much more time to kayak.

The end.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Despite the shafts of yellow sun that dance on the window panes,
the singing river water that sparkles in front of my porch,
the savory kettle of wild leek & potato soup that flavors the kitchen air,
the tired smile of my hard-working husband,
and lunch with the whole fam at the zappy blue table,

despite all that,

Tuesday was a very sorrow-filled day.

A lovely lady -a friend, a sister in Christ, and a member of my church- lost her teenage son in a tragic fire.

My blog tends to be a therapeutic corner of gentle thoughts, memories, recipes, & family happenings, but today I write of deep sadness. Words fail me, actually.

Please remember Kathy and her family on your prayers. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the secret woods

We sallied forth into the woods yesterday to gather wild leeks.
Not any woods will do. You must find a middleman; someone who knows someone who knows.

The late afternoon sun dappled the mulchy forest floor, lighting up the verdant carpets of leeks as far as the eye could see.

We brought shovels and buckets. And Phillip, of course. He was our ticket into leek-heaven.

Here, we hit pay-dirt.
-and I really mean pay-dirt.

While the kids were playing with shovels and getting their hands dirty, I went walkabout. Not much was blooming yet, except plenty of these tiny purple and pink flowers.

The trillium were hiding their shy heads. They need a little more coaxing before showing their regal beauty.

Back at the excavation site, a different kind of pink was being unearthed.
-and I really mean unearthed.

These fragrant bundles of garlicky joy were tucked into buckets for transport.

Someone around here is gonna have some serious halitosis.

It's hard to imagine sweet, happy faces like these harboring breath that will knock over a mule at fifty paces. But that's a common occurrence with leek-lovers.

They carry breath mints to no avail.

They trudged homeward with brimming buckets 'o leeks, exhilarated by the adrenaline of the hunt. I foresee a yearly tradition in the making.

Don't you?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the amazing chicken

Here are a few fun facts about Poodie:

She comes alive in the kitchen. With her signature apron cinched at the waist, she confidently mixes, whisks, pours, and taste-tests. This morning she baked and decorated a cake for a kids birthday party. Butter cake. Spiderman-themed.

Earlier this week she had her hair colored; this time with ash blond highlights. Her prettiness has morphed into astonishing beauty. She will not like that I said so.

She reads a few books over & over. Little Women. Black Beauty. Ella Enchanted. My Side of the Mountain. She won't eat breakfast or lunch without a book propped up in front of her.

While driving into town last week, we were discussing her upcoming birthday. She insisted on no special gifts. I quote:

"Why would I need any birthday presents when I've just been given an amazing chicken???"

She meant "amazing kitchen."

Friday, April 09, 2010

the film

The trailer premier was last night at La Casbah in Potsdam.
You can view the trailer here.

#1 Son is the cinematographer.
His mom thinks he is God's gift to mankind.

-or at least Northern New York.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


A zephyr-like breeze wafted through the windows and across my face as I did dishes tonight. Such a sweet dispense of air! and so very unexpected for the third day of April, that each gentle gust took me by surprise. I held my hands under the warm suds and breathed in deeply to the very expanse of my lungs.

My ears were full of the sounds of thundering water. Now that the river is free from the icy grasp of winter, on and on the water comes. It storms the old dam like a woman scorned, grabbing soggy branches, last year's sodden leaves, odd bits of flotsam, and the occasional Mountain Dew bottle, sending them with abandon alley-oop over the falls and burying them all in churning froth.

Meanwhile, I am learning to feel at home in our new kitchen. In the next room, lovely girls sat around the harvest table, enraptured by Friend #7's animated reading. Seven dessert plates were piled nearby, nearly licked clean. (Jack Spratt and his wife must have joined us for dessert.) If I divulge our dinner-menu, you must resist dropping everything you're doing to run over here in your pajamas for leftovers.

Because there simply are none.

It wouldn't be bragging to tell you this menu, either-because I didn't plan it. Two sweet young ladies did the planning and cooking. Well, I helped a little here & there. But really, I was the happy recipient of a delectable meal. As a bonus, this meal was consumed al fresco at the zappy blue table on the front porch overlooking the aforementioned waterfalls.

-grilled chicken ( amazing marinade!) with carmelized onion sauce
-rice with scallions & chicken broth
-roasted asparagus
-strawberry & spinach salad with poppy seed dressing
-iced tea with lemon.

Oh yes, and dessert. Gluten-free shortbread, mixed fresh fruit and real whipped cream.

I am looking forward to a long summer, dining outside, and times spent with dear people.