Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

During my junior year in high school I took a ceramics class. One of the assignments that spring was to make a slab box and fill it with things that told something about oneself. This is my box, this is what was inside, and this is my story.
In some ways it is a complicated story, and in other ways it is quite simple. During the summer of 1979, my neighbor's cousin came to visit him. The cousin and I became friends. We played Frisbee under the street lamps, hide and seek in the cornfield, and one summer night in late August he gave me my first kiss. I was fifteen. Young romances seldom pass the test of time and soon we were no longer a couple. We did, however, remain friends. During the course of time this friend of mine needed a place to live and my parents agreed to become his legal guardians. (Complicated part.) Sometime between my parents becoming legal guardians and my junior year of high school, this friend again became more than just a friend.
By the time my art teacher gave this assignment, we were "in trouble" and my heart and mind were in turmoil. The heavy hearted couple on the lid of my box is us, and inside are bits and pieces of Martha; my class pin, a lock of my hair, a small magnetic stone bearing my nickname... a flower, some seashells, a bookworm bookmark my mother once made me... an Apache tear from my brother, a poem I wrote, and a small metallic cross. The slab box with the couple on it's lid is also a music box which plays the "Skater's Waltz". (I originally asked for "Music Box Dancer" but the craft store didn't have it.) Each item inside says something about me or something I treasured but only hinted at the crisis inside my soul.
Much of the spring of 1981 is still a blur. I know I cried a lot and worried about what would happen to me, to us, and to our baby. I was certain I could not abort my child, I had seen pictures of what happened to tiny unborn babies, but when someone I trusted asked me if I wanted to do that, I momentarily wondered if that was really a solution... It is a frightening thought because I realized how easily a young girl could be convinced that aborting her child is the answer. I thank God that He had given me an answer to that question years before. I considered adoption. There was even a couple at our church who told my father they would take our baby. The tears flowed and my heart broke every time I even tried to consider it. In the end, my father ended up signing for both of us to get married. James' sister took us to New Mexico about a week or so later and in late September we became the parents of a beautiful baby boy. We were both seventeen. There have been hard times, yes, but being together and having our family together is something I wouldn't trade for all the world. I'm so glad we were given the chance. Sometimes it's hard to believe the two little people on the lid of the music box are really us, they look so sad. But we aren't there anymore. God has taken us beyond and given us life and hope and for this I thank and praise Him.

A Moment of Sunshine

The sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds for a brief moment this afternoon. The sunlight on the trees and the dark clouds in the backgound made a striking contrast.

A Gray Kind of Day

Gray and dreary. These two words describe our weather the past few days and likely the next few as well. It feels like fall except that the leaves are still green. I reach for long sleeves and a sweatshirt most mornings and find that I am much less likely to venture outside the house. I'm waiting for the sun to come out from behind the heavy laden clouds which hover low in the sky, but fear my wait may last several days more. The dampness makes me long for a fire in the wood stove and a cup of something hot to drink.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Family by Troy


I love four year old's drawings.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Overnight Guest

Guess who's staying overnight with Grandma and Grandpa? He encourages a good exercise regimen, engages my problem solving skills, and provides plenty of entertainment. I love it! And I love him too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bees Are Still Busy

No wonder the saying, "Busy as a bee". The bees appear in early spring when the flowers start to bloom. As soon as the days begin to warm, they are busy about their work gathering pollen. They work all summer long. We see them buzzing about our flower and vegetable gardens, we shoo them out of our houses, and try not to make them angry by the pool. By mid-September I am almost surprised to see them still buzzing about the remaining patches of wildflowers, continuing to collect pollen.

I should be ashamed for complaining about having to do the same jobs over and over every day... I should be... But somehow I haven't yet learned not to huff and grump about that pile of dishes that appears in my sink and on my counter several times each day, or the dust film that so quickly materializes on the furniture. I haven't yet learned how to face daily recurrent chores with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I'm more likely to let out a rather loud groan. Maybe one day I will learn the secret of the bee and just buzz through my day without any other care than to collect pollen on my feet.

So Far, So Good...

The weaving is finished. I have stopped several times in the process and gone to ask my dear husband what to do next. Sometimes I'm a little confused as to which hole the cane should go in. It is not with out a mistake here or there, but it looks pretty good anyway. The final step is the binder which I have never done. The holes on this particular chair are a bit small and so tying the binder on will not be easy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Case of the Vanishing Dog

Jasmine disappeared again this past weekend. We all agree she was here on Sunday, or at least we think she was, otherwise I might be inclined to imagine she acted as a stowaway in that Fedex truck I saw drive back into the orchard Saturday afternoon. I'm sure I heard her barking out in the apple trees behind the house on Monday morning, but we saw neither hide nor hair of her until Tuesday afternoon around when the Fedex man dropped off a package for James. Of course, Ben was also out in the orchard looking and calling for her. More than likely she decided to camp out in the trees or go home with the Mexicans for a burrito supper. Okay, maybe not... but where was she hiding? She was not especially hungry on her return, just tired, and I know she wasn't just next door keeping Mike company. He's been out working in his yard for weeks now. Somehow, just when I'm ready to call the dog warden and report her missing, she shows up back home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Boy

Many birthdays have come and gone in the past twenty-seven years, but more than the birthdays, usually celebrated with some kind of pie and ice cream, are all the special moments sandwiched in between. Now that you live far away the moments we spend together are even more treasured. I'm not there to bake your favorite pies or give you a birthday hug, you are held in my heart instead. So on this day I am missing you and feeling a little lump in my throat. I'll be okay, of course, and I'll probably even bake a pie, but all the time I'll be thinking of you. I hope the package I ordered arrives at your house on time.
I love you. Love, Mom

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Giddyap!

If there are no horses nearby, one can always improvise, especially if Dad has several large logs laying around the backyard. It was a gorgeous afternoon for horseback riding and so that is what the girls decided to do. Had I known they were going, I might have opted to ride along.

The Chair (part 2)

I actually sat out on the back porch and worked on my chair yesterday afternoon. Here by the lake it was rather breezy and cold so I dressed in layers, two sweatshirts. Since we already had some cane which was the right size hiding out in the basement, I didn't need to order or purchase any. Big time saver!
I gathered my supplies; cane, pegs, a skinny screwdriver and a big bowl of water to soak the cane in (one piece at a time). Later on I had to go searching for a spray bottle too to moisten the cane already on the chair.
The first step is figuring out where to start and then the cane is strung back and forth, side to side, and back and forth, each layer on top of the other. The final side to side layer is woven up and down so that the seat is knit together.
If there are too many pegs holding the loose ends, I turn the chair over and tie a few knots.
This is what the seat looked like when I went to bed last night. I'm still weaving the last side to side step, and doing a little straightening as I go. Often, once I get the square part of the seat finished, my husband takes over and finishes the rest of the chair, the diagonal weaving that makes the little hexagon shapes in the seat. I learned how to cane from him about 20 years ago when he would occasionally do a chair for the Webster Furniture Strippers. It was a way to make a little extra money when we were young and just starting out. He learned from an "older" friend (he was probably our age...) at church. This isn't something we do often but every once in a while we get the opportunity and it is kind of fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Next Project...

If it wasn't time to wake Josh, I'd start caning this chair... We took the old seat out last night. It was broken... Well, at least the dishes are done and the laundry is started. Maybe this will be a good afternoon nap project today. I can sit out on the back porch with a cup of coffee and work on it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunny Saturday, Soggy Sunday

Yesterday was a perfect first day of fall, or was it the last day of summer? Either way, it was perfect. The weather was bright and sunny, not too hot and not too cold. Hannah and I met up with Bethany and wandered around the Community Garage Sales down in Pultneyville. I bought a caned seat chair (I'm going to redo the seat) and an Indian blanket, a baby sleeper, some cards and a book (Beyond Doubt by Cornelius Plantinga Jr), and a bag of pears. (I spent as much on lunch as I did on garage sale items.) We did quite a bit of walking. I came home spent, hoping to recharge with a cup of coffee, but instead felt rather exhausted for the rest of the day. Today the weather is not quite what I would call perfect, but after enjoying several days of sunshine, it hardly feels right to complain about a little rain. It's a great afternoon to catch up on a little bit of sleep before heading off to the evening church service. We're having a guest speaker, a missionary to China. In preparation we ordered Chinese for lunch.

I was sitting out in my rocking chair yesterday afternoon, looking at my new book, when I noticed a Fedex truck driving down the orchard road. A curious sight... Aside from people picking apples and lots of trees, there is not much back there. I looked at James and wondered out loud why a Fedex truck would be driving back into the orchard. I'll probably never know.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rock On, Grandma!

My rocker is finally all sanded, stained, glued, and finished! Summer is nearing an end, but I still have some beautiful fall days in which I intend to sit out on my back porch and enjoy the motion. Cool breeze across my face, head back, eyes closed, foot pushing back and forth, back and forth... maybe even a small child nestled in my arms. I may have to wrap myself in a warm blanket and hold a hot cup of coffee, but I'll be out there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pepper Pickin'

This is my second year trying to grow green chilis. When I buy the plants, the tag says "green chilies, grows 8-10 inches long." Last year I got 2" long peppers. They grew up toward the sun, were very hot but not near big enough to roast and freeze for the winter. This year's peppers grew downward and are 2-4" long, still too small to roast on the grill. I have yet to find a chili pepper plant that will grow like I want it to, so this year I bought another bushel from the local farm market. The peppers I grew will not go to waste. We will roast them on a cookie sheet under the broiler and save them for winter dishes too. They may be small but they pack a mighty punch!

The bees are still busy collecting their winter supply of pollen. The yard doesn't look near as pretty to me as sometimes. The greens are not as brilliant and the colors not as plentiful or vibrant. Nevertheless, these little purple wildfowers are a bright spot along the drainage ditch and attract both bees and butterflies. Goldenrod also grows there and if the day were a little warmer, it would have been a nice place to sit and relax for a bit.

Life in the Orchards


videoYesterday morning brought a smile to my face. I stepped out the back door on my way to the barn and was greeted by a song in the air. The Mexican workers are picking apples across the street and listening to their music. This is a part of living in apple country that is familiar only to those who live surrounded by apple trees. For the most part it is enjoyable, but there are days when the beat of the music is far off and the only thing audible is rhythmic thumping. There usually comes a day when I must escape the monotony of the beat, but for now it is still putting a smile on my face and making me wish for apples and a walk down the dirt road.

Rachel drove out yesterday and we went to the little restaurant uptown for lunch. Bethany was working and Josh was with his other grandma so I took advantage of the opportunity. Rachel had a BLT and I ordered the Dutch Lettuce which I have come to enjoy very much. It is somewhat similar to German Potato Salad but has pieces of iceberg lettuce stirred in. On our way out of the restaurant I bought a chunk of fudge. I dropped it into my purse to tie Troy into the car seat and then totally forgot about it. I was supposed to share it with my sister. (Sorry, Rachel, I owe you one.)

Back at my house we decided to take a short walk. At the rock wall we smelled a rather strong "skunky" odor, but didn't happen to see the source. Good thing! I asked Troy to show me how he plugs his nose... Eeeewww! This was not quite what I had anticipated.
Today the temperatures are slightly cooler. The apple harvest continues and every once in a while the sound of music drifts across the trees. We hear the pickers calling back and forth to each other. Sometimes they sing, sometimes they laugh. Sometimes they are share a secret joke that we cannot understand. Without them the farmers would be hard pressed to get the harvest in. Without them the orchards would be strangely silent and lonesome.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Apple Dumpling Gang

Fall is a new beginning; school starts again and the harvest season is in full swing. I look forward to a crisp feeling in the air, changing colors, and falling leaves. Pumpkins will show up on doorsteps and cornstalks will disappear from fields. As crates arrive in the orchards, apples will slowly disappear from the trees. We'll be busy baking pies and canning applesauce, raking leaves and stacking firewood on the back porch. Last October I enjoyed a day in the country with my sister, Priscilla. I'm hoping that this year she has time to escape one Saturday or Sunday. Maybe we can search out another bowl of Pumpkin Apple Soup and take Rachel along this time. My sisters and I don't often get away together and I can't recall the last time all three of us went out for the day. In fact, I'm not sure we've ever escaped together.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Swirling Thoughts

It has been a weekend of swirling thoughts. On Friday evening I chatted with a friend. We touched on subjects that are foreign but not new to me and she brought a fresh perspective to the table. She did not say anything terribly surprising, just gave me a different angle on a familiar topic. I appreciate her honesty and openness in sharing with me, helping me to understand, and giving me a new reason to fall on my knees before God, who loves each one of us so much more than we can ever know.

On Saturday afternoon Ben, Hannah, and I headed down to the park once more. Our local homeschool group was having a kick-off picnic and they wanted to go. Some faces there were old familiar friends and others were perfect strangers. Fourteen years ago I was a founding member of this group where I am now a "newcomer". I chatted with some of the moms and listened to conversations between others. I fielded questions... "Are you new to the group?" "How long have you been homeschooling?" "How old are your children?" It is the academic conversations that leave me feeling empty. I don't fear so much for my children in the area of knowledge acquired or whether they can hold down a job and raise a family. My fear is in being inadequate when it comes to answering the questions of fellow parents. For us "real life" disrupts book work more often than not. I find that I must lean more on my Savior and not so much on my own ability to always provide everything my children need to have or know. Keeping my children at home will not "save" them or even guarantee that will be model citizens. I must fall on my knees daily and continually put each child back into the hand of God. I must learn to trust Him and His unending love.

Friday, September 12, 2008

AWOL

It's vacation time. Time to play toys and catch up with some things that have been neglected. Children need to be played with, floors need to be washed, and cookies are waiting to be baked. Dare I mention the paperwork which needs to be turned in to the school? I will be offline for a few days. See you later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My New Dog, My New Sidewalk, and Ronald McDonald

This morning I finally made the decision to call a dog groomer and make Sofie and appointment. I didn't expect to get in today, just find out prices and get a time. I looked in the yellow pages and dialed the number. An older woman answered and I said, "I'm calling about the dog grooming service..." to which she abruptly answered, "This is NOT the dog grooming service!" and then hung up. Apparently she was sick and tired of taking their calls. I looked in the white pages and found the same service listed under a different number. I was in luck, they had a cancellation and I could bring Sofie in in about half an hour. Cost? About $35. I took her in and found the salon owner to be a former schoolmate. When I returned several hours later to pick up my dog she told me, "She's a brat!" I smiled. "Yes, I know," I said. If she was easy to groom, I would do it myself. Anyway, she looks adorable and she can see. With her new haircut has come a new boldness. Oreo had to put her in her place this evening and I heard her yelp. I'm not sure she has yet learned not to mess with cats.
Since our very kind neighbor has given us the sand from underneath his now dismantled swimming pool, the boys have been working on my new sidewalk. I wish I could tell you that I have been involved every step of the way, but I have been busy with other high priority jobs. The sidewalk is looking good and will be much safer this coming winter than the old one. I think we should be able to shovel snow off these blocks without too much trouble providing it is not four feet deep. It may not be as pretty as flagstones, but I like it.
This morning my favorite grandson (He can only claim this title for a very short time...) came to visit. He was dressed in his jammies because it was still early and with this McDonald's apron on looked a little bit like Ronald McDonald. He just needs to grow a little bit of red hair.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Six More Random Facts About Me--Meme

I have been tagged by Kristina.
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. List 6 random facts about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by commenting on their blog
6. Let the tagger know the entry is posted on your blog

1. I like lists, therefore I keep playing these silly games and listing random "Martha Facts".
2. I rarely post the rules, follow the rules, or tag other people. In real life games of tag I couldn't run fast enough to catch anyone and I don't see why it should be any different here. (We'll see how it goes this time.)
3. My vacuum cleaner does not have a home, so it usually hangs around in the dining room with its cord strewn about the floor. In my old house it had a closet to live in but seldom went there because I used it so often.
4. I have way too many flat surfaces in my home. I know this because where ever there is a flat surface books, papers, magazines, pens, pencils, toys and other random articles start to accumulate. I no longer have anywhere to put my random articles as every surface is covered. (Okay, I am exaggerating just slightly. The coffee tables are still bare.)
5. I am not very diligent to fold my clothes as soon as the dryer stops running. Sometimes clean clothing is left in there for several days. We have been know to wear wrinkled clothes.
6. I am very good at starting projects and leaving them unfinished for years before ever getting around to looking at them again. Somewhere I have a needlepoint craft that I started when David was a baby. He is now almost 25.

I tag Nathan, Josiah, Bethany, Jim, Tori (or Johnny), and Mandy

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sweet!

James and I went for an orchard walk after supper tonight. We walked back across the street, past the Fox's blueberry bushes, through the rock wall, down the hill by the pond where I smelled a different kind of orchard scent. Peaches! It smelled like peach cobbler or something. Peaches have always been one of my favorite fruits, in fact I bought some just a few hours earlier. I picked one orchard peach which I thought I might eat, but it was just too fuzzy. I ended up carrying it along with me and then inadvertently rubbed my face which is now feeling prickly from peach fuzz. I think I may never learn that peaches can be painful.

On our way home we walked along the rock wall by the woods. James was looking up at the trees in the woods and I was looking at the hedgerow when all of a sudden I stepped right into a hole. My foot went down until the ground came right up to my knee. "Ugh," I said as I fell on the ground. I was blessed to have my foot go straight into the hole rather than entering at an angle. Other than some bruising and a little stiffness, I am not hurt at all. James was pleased that he did not have to carry me back up the hill and all the way home. I know I could have easily broken my foot or been injured in a way that would have made walking difficult. I may walk with a slight limp when I get out of bed tomorrow morning, but I think I will be okay.

On our way back across the street, our neighbor called out to James. He has just been dismantling his very old swimming pool and wondered if we needed any sand. He looked quite surprised when James said yes. I guess the boys will be hard at work tomorrow filling Grandpa's trailer with sand so we can finish our new walkway.

"Family" Reunion

Another picnic? This may have been the final picnic of the year. On Saturday we gathered at the park for a "family" reunion picnic. Anyone who has been a member of a church for any number of years will understand the family connection that is felt between fellow Christians. The former pastor of our previous church was in town and so we gathered together to show him and his family our love and appreciation. "Mamaaw" Conner was there too. She is Pastor's mother in law, a very sweet lady who welcomes each and every one with a hug, a smile, and a word of encouragement.
We had our picture taken with Pastor and his wife...

and took a few pictures of friends and their families...


We attended the Bible Baptist Church in Sodus for twelve years, made many friends, learned much, and grieved when God moved us on to another fellowship. I treasure the memories and love meeting up with the people we came to know and love. Many of us have moved on and so these moments are becoming few. One day we will all move on and meet together again for that Great Reunion Supper on the Other Side. I'm looking forward to it and hoping to meet you all there too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Today is my sister in law's birthday. I first met Kathy soon after James and I were married in 1981. She was never far away when we lived in Albuquerque and kept an older sister's watchful eye on us while we were there. For two short years she lived here in New York state and we enjoyed her company, then two years ago she married her childhood sweetheart and moved back to New Mexico.

Kathy, we miss you here and hope you, Mike, and William will come visit someday soon. We love your green chile enchiladas and miss your presence at the local barber shop. We aren't quite sure where to go for a haircut anymore. But, we blessed to know that you are with people who love you, and that you are in God's hand. I hope you had an awesome birthday!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Flying the Friendly Skies

This morning we headed out to Webster to say goodbye to Jim. His plane was scheduled to fly out of Buffalo at 2 pm and he had an almost 2 hour drive from here to reach the airport. We gave him hugs, kissed him goodbye, and waved as he drove off. Tonight the phone rang. I picked it up and read Jim's cell phone number in the caller ID box. "Hello?" I said. I heard my son's familiar voice on the other end. He was smiling a little when he told me he was calling from Kentucky. "Kentucky?" I asked. Ahh, one never really knows where they will end up when flying across the country. Jim's plane was late taking off at the Buffalo airport resulting in him missing his connecting flight in Cincinnati. "But Cincinnati is in Ohio," I ventured. He laughed, "But Kentucky is just across the river." Yes, I knew that. I have driven through Cincinnati several times on my way west or south. The airline put him up in a hotel just across the state line and so he is spending the night in Kentucky. If only we had known, or he had made his flight plans in Rochester, we could have kept him for another day.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Jim's Visit

Our son Jim has been in town from Minnesota since late Saturday evening. He has managed to avoid the crowds and chaos of the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul by heading home to NY to spend some time with family and friends. Last night our children gathered here for a pizza party and some time together.
While our family was growing up, I took for granted all those days when everyone was in one place. There was noise and activity constantly and I often sought to find a quiet moment alone. They were few and far between. Now times of stillness are many and I look forward to the rare days when I am priviledged to watch my children interact. Last night we were missing Bethany's husband, Adam, who was attending a class for work. We took a group shot anyway because it is doubtful that they will all be in one spot again before Christmas. Maybe we can paste Adam in later.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Plenty of Time

I took my camera out in the backyard this afternoon looking for something of interest. Most of the flowers are fading, they know that time is short and winter is on its way. When I glanced through my photos this one reminded me of a song a friend used to sing years ago when we were still in high school. She had a beautiful voice and played the piano as she sang. The song touched my heart and resonated in my soul. I was about 16 years old and had my whole life ahead of me. I struggled within myself, knowing that Christ was calling and yet not quite willing to give myself totally to Him. Here it is nearly 30 years later. The years have flown by and nothing seems to slow them down. I thank God He has reached deep into my life and held on to me through the times when I had no strength, that He never gave up on me even when I would have given up, and that He sets me back on my feet when I fall. I praise Him for giving me a fresh start each and every morning. A new opportunity to live my life for Him.

Thank you, Tori, for the song you blessed us with so many years ago. It has returned to my heart many times throughout the years.

Plenty of Time McLean

I got up one Sunday morning, went to church at ten
I listened to the words I'd heard time and time again
The preacher spoke of sinful eyes It seemed he spoke of mine
But I was young I had plenty of time

Plenty of time to decide where I'm bound
To eternal darkness or to a heavenly crown
I'm just a young man Not yet in my prime
So I'll just wait I've got plenty of time

You know as I was traveling down life's highway
Living just the way I wanted to live
I was out to beat the other guy
And to try to get whatever life could give,
Making money isn't sinful
And having fun is not a crime
I thought I'd wait, I had plenty of time .

Before I knew what had happened, life seemed to have passed away
And millions stood before God's throne for it was Judgment Day,
Now eternal darkness blackens and the name he calls is mine,
But I had thought that I had plenty of time.

Eternity waits I've got plenty of time
to think of all the days Christ could have been in mine
My chance is over, Life's days are left behind
And here am I, I've got plenty of time
Now I've got nothing, but plenty of time

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Summer's End?

It's been a busy day and it isn't over yet. We will soon be off to church and our final Kid's Class for a while. We have been thinking it might be a good idea to take a break and regroup after a year and a half of Wednesday evenings. James is busy with work right now and I am out of ideas. Pastor Roger had someone volunteer to help in the Wednesday evening kids ministry so now we will have a rest.

This is a heron that greeted us when we returned home from the fair last Friday. I haven't seen it since. They are fairly common and yet elusive at the same time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Cup

When there are fifty people at a picnic, we write names on cups. Well, some of us do. This Uncle Dave's cup, "This is my cup. Keep your lips OFF!" Thanks for the warning, Dave.

Heather, you are not losing it. I put this post back in my draft folder last night.

Picnic!

Labor Day

It was a picnic. There were friends and relatives. There were lots of cars. There was more than enough food and drinks. There was music and laughter. There were games. It was a great day. Now it is time to pick up the pieces, make sure all the parts are collected, put the games away, and clean up the leftovers. The kids go back to school tomorrow and life settles back into a routine... maybe.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Another Picnic

It's Labor Day and we are having a picnic. This promises to be a busy week so I am going to enjoy the day with friends and family. I hope you do too.