Two years ago, on my way to pick up Hannah from camp, I stopped to meet and visit my blog friends, Apple and her sister, Country Girl. We had dinner together and Apple sent me home with two little Bee Balm plants, one of them a red Oswego Tea. This spring I decided to "weed out" a bunch of my garden plants. The little area was wildly overgrown, so with the help of my son, most of the plants were cut back, covered with cardboard, and topped off with a layer of mulch. My Bee Balm (red, pink, and purple) was spared the wiles of the weed whacker and now bring some life and color to the otherwise barren landscape. I'm thinking I kind of like just ferns and bee balm. (Yes, and cats too.)
I did a little research and found the ship sailing into Port Oswego the other night was the Pride of Baltimore II. My father was a great lover of ships, I think he would have been fascinated. At one time I think he dreamed of running off to sea, but then again he was also prone to being seasick. Either way he never tired of drawing schooners, whittling them out of wood, or reading stories of the sea. Mom, on the other hand, was and likely still is, afraid of the water. She claims to "swim like a rock." In spite of this, she once saved up enough money to take Dad on a cruise to the Virgin Islands as an anniversary present.
I had a phone call from my Uncle Chuck this afternoon. Due to his health, he is canceling this year's 4th of July picnic. Though I am disappointed, I also understand that often there are circumstances beyond our control. I'm not sure what this year's fourth of July will bring but I do know I'll be thinking of my uncle and praying for him.
I am not really a Skywatch Friday participant, but found myself taking sky pictures this evening. After dropping Ben off at camp tonight, we stopped by Fort Ontario in Oswego, and were blessed with a unique sight. A tall ship was just returning to port and the sun was dropping low in the sky. After posting about "Tinkerbell" this morning, I couldn't help but think of Captain Hook and Never, Never Land tonight.
Sunset in the comapny of the Oswego lighthouse was magnificent. Although the Fort was closed for the evening, we did enjoy a walk around the perimeter. It was a beautiful night.
Em and Ivy were playing in the living room. Ivy arrived this morning with a rather nice sized container full of dolls. I listened as they played together. "She's Peed-Her-Pants Girl," one of them said. Curious as to what they were playing, I glanced their direction. I do like to make sure they play "nice games," but am careful where to jump in and redirect their play. This time my concern was unwarranted. It was just Tinkerbell, "Peter Pan's Girl."
It's Thursday again and it's been a while since I did a Thursday Thirteen list. I decided I needed some inspiration since I am am the only one I know who plays this little game. I googled Thursday Thirteen, came up with an official looking site, and visited a few new blogs like this one.
Anyway, I don't have any big plans for this summer, but I do have a few things I'd like to do...
1. First on my list is to finish the photo album I have started for my Uncle Chuck. Every July 4th he has a family picnic in the park and I thought it would be fun to thank him with an album of memories.
2. I ordered a windmill cookie mold and a sunflower cookie stamp too. I want to try making some fancy cookies. I'm looking forward to their arrival.
3. My flower gardens need some work...
4. I'm hoping to finally catch up with a couple of blog friends. Maybe we'll find each other at the beach this year.
5. There are some big decisions to be made concerning my mom and her living situation.
6. I want to spend some time just relaxing and visiting with my sisters.
7. I plan to have coffee with a friend. (I'm thinking of you, Pam.)
8. We need to find some wonderful places to take a summer hike. The Finger Lakes region is full of great places like Taughannock Falls.
9. Maybe I'll go antiquing.
10. I have plans to help out at Vacation Bible School, and take Emma along, but I don't know exactly what I'll be doing.
11. Hang laundry outside.
12. Buy some sand for my sandbox and then invite Josh over to play in it.
13. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a yard sale and get rid of the extra stuff that has been hanging out in my dining room since we cleaned out the bedrooms in February. If not, there's always Goodwill.
Wednesday's can be a little hectic. Today I added to the activity by agreeing to take Ben to a class in the next town... at lunchtime... with four children in tow. Rather than going all the way home and then running back out less than an hour later, I decided to take the little ones to McDonald's for lunch. Hey, why not? I used to be a pro at managing multitudes of munchkins.
It went rather well. I ordered 3 kid-sized orange Hi-C's and a #10 meal, size large. I split the 10 piece chicken nuggets between the kids (okay, I ate two), we shared the fries, and I got to keep the diet coke for myself. Emma did not think she should eat the chicken (She's a little funny that way..) but I told her it was her lunch and she was going to eat them. There were only three and she ate them without complaint. Lucas did not eat his very well. He liked the drink best, especially because it had a straw.
I returned to retrieve Ben on time but had to sit in the parking lot and wait for him to come out. We waited and waited; 20 minutes worth! Emma thought we should drive off and leave him there. I changed diapers on the front seat of my van. One was stinky and the other just wet. We waited some more. I began to feel terribly uncomfortable and had a hard time sitting still... Diet coke does not stay in the system long and I knew I would never make it home safe and dry, so I hauled everyone out of the vehicle and into the building where Ben was just ready to come out. "Hold these," I said, handed him the babies, and the girls and I headed off to find a restroom.
School will soon be out for the summer. Since it has been my practice to read stories before the girls take an afternoon rest, we took a ride to the local library after lunch, actually two local libraries. (Priscilla would be proud.)
We have been enjoying stories by Cynthia Rylant. She writes about Little Whistle, a guinea pig who lives in a cage at the back of a toy store. When the shades go down at night, he wakes up and climbs out of his cage for an adventure. There are three Little Whistle books and I was hoping to find the third at the library in Ontario. Mission successful.
Though I know I can leave returned books at any participating library location, I decided to take the Williamson books back to the Williamson Library instead of leaving them in Ontario. The girls enjoy both libraries and were more than happy to visit two in one day. At Williamson a new book caught my eye. Something about the pictures...
We were almost home again when Emma's voice came from the back seat. "Where's Panda?" she inquired. Panda, it seems, had not been paying attention when we checked out our library books and headed for the door. The girls were too busy rushing for the handicap buttons at the exit to remember a small round bear. I turned the van around and headed back to town where I found Panda playing hide and go seek in the children's area. He didn't appear distressed in the least.
Words elude me tonight... I am thankful today for a wedding anniversary to distract me from the ache that otherwise most certainly would have set in. I am thankful for my dear husband and the twenty-nine years we have spent together, there is no question about that, but a first Father's Day without a father cannot help but be a little bit emotional. This year James and I are both without our fathers.
When my dad was sick, I decided there was one thing that I wanted to tell him while he was still here. I didn't want him to pass on without ever telling him I was sorry... I was just seventeen when my father took us to the town hall to sign for me to get married. I thought it surely must have been a terribly difficult thing for him to do, but complicating the matter was the fact that I was not the only one he was signing for. He was also signing papers giving the groom permission to marry. My parents were his legal guardians...
As I brought up the subject, my dad glossed over whatever embarrassment he must have felt at the time. Instead he focused on the reaction of the town clerk. "You're Martha's father?" she asked him.
"Yes," he replied.
"And him?" she asked, gesturing toward James.
"I'm his legal guardian," Dad replied.
At this point, he said, she lowered her glasses and looked at him over the top. Dad laughed at the memory. "I think she was looking for the shotgun," he smiled.
It was all water under the bridge. My father had come to love, forgive, and see James as a son. James had come to love, admire, and view my dad as his own. I watched love, trust, and mutual admiration grow in their relationship. On this our 29th wedding anniversary, I am blessed to know that God had His hand on all of us, healing hurts, planting seeds of love and forgiveness, and giving me the peace that could come only from asking my father's forgiveness.
The school year is winding down and my days of tending flowers will be fewer. I am hoping to play catch up with my housework once again. Perhaps I shall sort though the mountains of papers that have collected on my counter tops. Maybe I will hold a yard sale and rid myself of surplus possessions. It is quite possible that I shall take a trip to the beach or meet a friend for coffee. Maybe I'll even find a good book to read. I think I might even miss those potted plants and look forward to their return.
The plan is to eat strawberry shortcake this evening. (Nathan's is having a birthday.) In order that there are strawberries to be had, the strawberries had to be gotten. We "getted" them this morning. Thanks to a bit of help from Ben and Hannah, I have between eight and ten quarts sitting on my kitchen counter.
I decided to try a new cookie recipe, Homemade Oreo Cookies. Things were going well, the dough looked good and smelled wonderful. It tasted good too, but I was missing parchment paper to bake them on. A quick run to the local grocery store. Now, I have never used parchment paper. It seemed a wonderful way to bake cookies. No greasing of the baking sheet and easy cleanup. The first sheet worked like a charm. Twenty perfect circles were on the table cooling when the timer went off for the second sheet. I opened the oven, grabbed the edge of the cookie sheet, and started to remove it from the oven...
My husband heard my desperate cries. "No, no, no! No, no!" I cried. The oven was billowing smoke already! The slippery paper had slid right off the sheet, turned upside down, and dumped my precious cookies into the bottom of the oven where they were quickly turning to charcoal. My Darling came to the rescue and helped me scoop the blackened remains from the floor of the "cookie furnace."I learned a quick lesson about parchment paper and flat baking sheets.
The remaining cookies turned out pretty good in spite of it all, and I may have to attempt another batch tomorrow as I have a little bit too much filling left over. (No surprise there.) What I'd really like to try making are those Dutch Windmill cookies. If only I could find a good cookie mold...
I enjoy our orchard walks very much. Last night we walked with Nate, but James and I typically walk alone. It is a chance to think and share together, to talk as we walk, build on our relationship, and sort thoughts. It's also a chance for a small amount of much needed exercise.
Many thoughts are once again tumbling about in my mind. Life is a myriad of experiences which shape us into the people we are. Like the trees in the orchard, we are trimmed and pruned until we bear the fruit God desires. I have learned that the pruning and clipping of apple trees is never really done, and neither is the hand of God ever done shaping and molding me. Though it sometimes hurts, I know it is always done in love, with my best interest in mind.
It rained on and off all day today; a little rain, a little sunshine, a little more rain. (Another picture of life...) We did not go out to play this afternoon as the ground never dried up and the dirt under the swing set was too muddy. Maybe we will get a chance to run around in the yard tomorrow.
I took my camera along on an orchard walk with James and Nathan tonight. I missed the fox who was sitting at the end of a row of apple trees, he took off as soon as we turned the corner, but this little guy was going nowhere fast. He actually looked rather lethargic. We gave him a lift over by a small body of water and left him on the bank. I hope he perks up and finds himself a happy place to hunker down for the night.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
It is Monday evening, our night at the nursing home. I often find myself tired by evening, almost wishing to stay home. The house would be quiet and empty for a couple of hours. How nice that would be... But, nicer still is to hold a worn hand, to kiss a wrinkled cheek, to hug a lonely soul. I said hello to Lois tonight and watched her face light up at the mention of her name. I try so hard to remember names; Eleanor, Marie, Carol... Those are my new names to remember.
Some evenings the living room is almost empty. Tonight it was full, two dozen residents and our little group of eight. We were blessed to have Mom come along tonight. John and Mary have been asking about her for quite some time. She got the nicest hug from John who is in his early nineties. I am humbled to know how very much my parents meant to the people they loved and ministered to for so very many years. How will we ever fill their shoes?
We went out to Priscilla and Jamie's house this afternoon and stayed for dinner. Sherman watched in fascination while Priscilla prepared some very yummy Bruschetta; little slices of bread with cheese and tomatoes which she toasted in the oven. I just may have to try this at home some day, just to impress myself.
Last night Ben was gone to stay with a friend. Tonight Hannah is on an overnight babysitting job. (It is Dave and Leta's 6th wedding anniversary and they have gone out for the evening.) Our nest is not quite empty and yet not at all full.
Yesterday morning the air was full of a mother robin's chirps. She sat on the edge of the barn roof and barked out directions. I'm not sure who she was commanding, I did not see her babies, but she was busy shouting out all the same. I suppose it is quite possible those little ones were out on the barn roof if baby robins can hop up the branches of a lilac bush. Either way, when I looked into the nest, I found it empty. I did not hear any frantic squawking or find any lip-licking cats, so it is quite possible that mother robin was successful with her little brood. I can always hope so.
In two weeks my house will seem strangely empty. My babysitting job... uh, I mean "garden tending"... will be over until fall. I will put the toys upon the shelf, return the children's books to the library, and venture out into my yard a little more often. Em will pop in a time or two throughout the summer, just to keep me company, and before I know it September will be here again.
Last year I knew the Lord was working on my heart and preparing me for big changes. He walked before me, and though I knew something big was headed my way, I also had peace in Him. I knew He was in control, I knew He loved me, and I knew I could trust Him to carry me through whatever was coming my way. He has been with me in an incredible way and taken me through changes that without Him might devastate me.
In September my dad was diagnosed with cancer, four weeks later the Lord took him home. The journey was peaceful and, though the pain was terrible, there was a strange blessing in the process too.
Throughout the fall months and into the beginning of winter we faced another challenge, one of words and rumors. It involved one of our children (and another teen at church), and led us to eventually conclude we needed to find another place of worship. Unfortunately, the issue could not be easily resolved. This is also painful, especially because one's church fellowship becomes very much like family. We spent several evenings there each week and the loss of fellowship left us reeling a bit. Again, God is good. He began to plant us in a new fellowship several months before we were uprooted from the other. Little did we know, but much He did.
Now I find a new challenge before me, one I would much rather ignore in the hopes that it would just go away. It won't. It involves my mom and how to take care of her in her latter years. It is obvious she can not live alone, and obvious that Dave and Leta can not take care of her indefinitely. We are seeking out alternatives, none of which are simple. I know God has a plan and His way is perfect, He already knows the solution and has put in place the means to get there. If I can just remember that, I can have peace in the midst of this storm also.
PS. My garden is growing! Slightly different angles, but the same garden box.
Dave stopped by this morning and I asked if Grandma's hearing aide had been found. "Yes," he said, "I found it outside in the driveway." For a moment I feared it had been run over by a car, but he said it was safe. Seems Grandma took the recycling box out yesterday afternoon. She set it by the trash cans so Dave could take it to the street today. Somehow that little device must have been attached to her clothing and fell off when she went outside. Lucas has been exonerated! I am relieved.
Grandma took a little nap at the dining room table today. She removed her hearing aide for comfort's sake and when she woke up found it missing. She is fairly certain a small boy must have picked it up and walked off with it, but his mother is just as certain he did not. In any case, Grandma is missing one of her hearing aides.
We stopped by Grandma's house on the way to and from the nursing home service tonight. We looked on the floor and round about for the missing audio device, but it was not to be found. I wonder if perhaps it clung to Grandma's sleeve when she got up from the table? I hope it turns up because I'd hate to see Lukie charged with theft. He so young.
'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Mark 12:31
I talked to a friend the other day. She asked if I was okay and I laughed. "I'm feeling selfish," I admitted. Her answer surprised me on one hand and didn't on another. "There's nothing wrong with that!" she said. I didn't argue with her, after all we all feel selfish sometimes, it's part of being human, but how I respond to that feeling says much about who I am.
According to the Book, I am to put the needs of others ahead of myself, to think of them first. This is where some of my biggest tests come into play. Can I put my wants, needs, and desires aside in order to benefit another? Not so easy, and especially not so easy to do with a smile on my face. Though I fail time and again, with God's help I am able.
All week long I have been quietly hoping for a return trip to the hospital to visit my uncle before he goes home. I almost missed my chance when they said he could go home today. Aunt Mary was on her way to get him when Mom got another phone call from my cousin. They decided to keep him in the hospital another night. Bad for him, good for me. I jumped at the opportunity. What a relief to see him smile and hear him tell his stories. We had to laugh when he asked Hannah what grade she is in. "Ninth," she replied. "You're a big girl!" he said, "Either that or you flunked a lot!" He has an interesting way with words... Aunt Mary said it wasn't nice, but we know that is really how he says, "I love you."
Monday was Memorial Day. I had purchased a small American flag, which I hoped to place on my grandfather's grave in a nearby cemetery. This is not an annual tradition, in fact I don't know if there has ever been a flag placed there. Sadly, I did not find the time to go to the cemetery on Monday, but I did take a little bit of time this afternoon to drive out and look around for my grandpa's grave and military marker. It took a little while, but I finally found the spot and placed the flag.
And now, I am off to the kitchen to see if those very ripe bananas are still suitable for banana bread. Maybe this will be a productive day after all!
It has been a busy week of tending "flowers". Lucas and Simon came to play on Wednesday and brought back memories of changing stinky diapers, listening to the baby cry, and having the phone ring all at the same time. The girls, ever demanding, were really very good and I was grateful they are old enough to eat lunch on the back porch by themselves. Hannah had gone to clean a house with Leta and I was on my own.
I found that the girls are just as suspicious of Lucas as they are of Josh. Bella was sitting in her car seat on the back porch when Lucas came along and plopped himself down on her lap. It really was cute, but she did not think so. I am beginning to think these two need to spend a bit more time with little ones.
Our prayers have been answered and my uncle is out of the ICU. Rachel took Mom up to visit today and found him smiling and making jokes. It will still be some time before he is better, but we are all much relieved and grateful to have him back with us again. (James and I had stopped at the ICU on Monday evening while he was still on the ventilator and sedated. He tried so hard to wake up.) I am looking forward to seeing him again soon and giving him a big hug.
I was given a blogger award over at Judi's place. It's pretty special to be thought of in such a way and I appreciate it ever so much.
Now, as recipient of this award I must .......and you must!
1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award ever!
2. Choose one of the following options of accepting the Oh My Blog! award: (a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus. (b) Write about your most embarrassing moment. (c) Write a “soundtrack of your childhood” post. (d) Make your next blog a ‘vlog’/video blog where you’re basically talking to the camera about whatever. (e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, make up, etc) and post it.
3. Pass the award onto at least three, but preferably more, awesome bloggers and let them know.
I got all excited that I received the coolest award ever and really tried to catch myself in a photo first thing this morning. (See 2e) I chased myself around the house, but by the time I caught up with myself I had already showered and put on my mascara... I'm not sure if this really counts or not.
My Uncle Chuck is doing better. The news this morning was that he was awake, breathing on his own, watching Fox News, and asking for his wife. I felt a smile creep across my face and relief flood my mind. I think he has finally turned a corner, though I know he faces a very long recovery process.
Thank you all for your prayers. Maybe by July he'll be ready to play "The Slap Game" with me. It was a favorite when I was a kid even though he always beat me.
I have not accomplished that which I had hoped. I did, however, get to sit on Rachel's front porch with a special little person for a little while yesterday afternoon. He even opened his eyes to peek at me for a few minutes.
I am a work in the hands of the Master Potter. I pray that His fingerprints are all over me as I walk through this life. This is my journey. Thank you, Jesus, for not giving up on me.
I am mom to seven beautiful grown ups and grandma to ten beautiful grandchildren.