Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fun in the Flood

If there must be a large puddle in the backyard, we could at least find a boat or two to sail. That is exactly what Hannah and Em decided to do this afternoon. Hannah was smart about it and tied a couple of strings on the boats this year. Of course, she was the one who had to wade out and get them a few years back. (See here.) Em found sailing to be great fun and I was glad to have purchased a small pair of rain boots so she could get close to the water. Oh what fun we are going to have while the water lasts! (I wonder if little boys like sailing boats as much as little girls?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

K is for Kodak

K is for Kodak. (I figured "why not?" after all, I posted on Xerox last time around.)

I've not taken the time to look up the history of George Eastman and his Kodak Company this evening, instead I am going by memory. I recall reading once upon a time that George created the name "Kodak," though I can not recall how or why.

The Eastman Kodak company was the "other place" everyone's father worked when I was a child. (The first being Xerox.) My father was once offered a job there but turned it down because he was tired of sitting behind a desk. Kodak is one of the companies that made Rochester, NY famous and it is still (I think) a big part of what Rochester is. (What exactly that is, I am not sure...)

Anyway, even if the Kodak Company went world- wide, the George Eastman House remains in Rochester. The gardens are beautiful, as is the interior of the mansion. I have been inside just once as admission is rather expensive. Last time we opted to enjoy touring the outside gardens instead.

And, last of all, I found it fun that my son did a little graphic design work for Kodak when he worked for a local company. One here and one here.

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Makes a House A Home?

This spring we embark on a new adventure, one that none of us look forward to. It involves a childhood home, an elderly mom, a lot of big decisions, and the end of an era. There are sure to be tears involved, because not one of us can look at the house without seeing Dad everywhere, and none of us can let it go without feeling a stab of grief for Mom, who is no longer really able to make the tough choices or do the physical labor involved in the task.
This has been home for our entire lives and part of it will always be. The memories are there, held inside the walls of a tiny house on Mohawk Street, floating through the yards, both front and back, and spreading out into the streets where we played with our friends as children. For fifty-five years it has been "The Plotzker's House" and for nearly thirty years we've called it "Grandma and Grandpa's." I find it difficult to imagine it with any other name.
I listened to my mother's cousin speak at his father's memorial service last week. He talked of cleaning out his parent's house and it struck me how this is most often a job left to the children. There was a certain comfort in knowing we are not alone. We will sort through belongings with love and tenderness, make repairs with utmost respect, and grieve the loss. Part of me is ready to let go and another part is already trying to hold on.
I must remember the gift and surrender it back to the One who gives all things, knowing He is near. How much better to offer it back with open hands than to struggle to hold on to what already belongs to Him.

338. A childhood home
339. Lots of happy memories.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Scripture

Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
"Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
John 6:67-69

Friday, March 25, 2011

Snowy Day Surprise

The snow is melting. Spring will not be stopped.

Yesterday, when I took Emma out to catch the bus, I found an interesting sight in the snow, a small trail and a perfectly round hole. (A unique gift from a Father who knew I had my camera with me. I think He must have been smiling...) Why do these little things intrigue me so? Why does my mind want to spin a tale of mice with hats and mittens? And, if the above ground trail weren't enough, there was another trail underneath the snow, a tunnel.

I suppose a part of me will always have a childlike imagination. Maybe that is from all the stories I have packed away inside my small brain. Or maybe it is because I am still reading stories about a small mouse showing up at Kenny Pig's store in the dead of winter or a rabbit named Peter who lives "in a sandbank underneath the root of a very big fir tree."

Yes, I can be thankful for everyday, "out of the ordinary" gifts, the little things that make life special.

298. Mouse (or mole) trails over and under freshly fallen snow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wintery Weather

Yesterday morning the ground was clear and snow-free. That lasted until a little after noon when snow started falling in abundance. By mid afternoon the roads were covered. This morning Emma and I went out to the bus stop down a snow covered driveway. Though I am ready for spring, I must say the snow was pretty this morning.

It won't last long. Soon the wheel- barrow will be full of dried leaves and sticks instead of snow. (And maybe we'll drag that Christmas tree down to the burn pile...) The grass is already making a new appearance and the trees are considering blossoms. (Okay, maybe that's pushing it a little.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

J is for Jam (and Jelly Beans)

J is for Jam.

Jam for snacks and jam for meals, I know how a jam jar feels- FULL... OF... JAM! -Frances the Hedgehog

Frances the hedgehog loved nothing better than bread and jam, until it was all she was ever given to eat.

One thing I can preserve well is jam. If there is not enough time to cook up a batch when the fruit is fresh, I freeze it and cook them up in the dead of winter. My favorite is strawberry, but we've made raspberry, blackberry, peach, and elderberry too. They're all yummy!

Of course, while speaking of the letter J, another thing comes to mind, jelly beans! My favorite jelly beans are the expensive little Jelly Bellies. James and I had the privilege of visiting the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California. (See here.) Oh, what fun! And think we came home with ten or twenty pounds of Belly Flops!!!

Of course, we must not forget Japan either, but I already posted on that here.

Check here for more ABC Wednesday's.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maturity

"At 10:00 AM the Lord blessed us with a 6 lb 7 oz baby girl. Ar was awake and saw her birth. I think she's beautiful."
-Dad's Diary March 22, 1964

(Aren't diaries a wonderful thing? )

Both my dad and my oldest brother have passed on now, but there remain stories and memories of days past. When I was still a baby my brother Dan asked Mom if he could marry me when I grew up. (I think he changed his mind later on. He told me to "go play marbles on the freeway" and I don't think that is exactly the kind of thing one should tell his betrothed...) Since Dan was adopted my mother told him he could marry me if he wanted to, to which he replied, "Can Timmy (my other brother) marry her too?"

Today, well ahead of My Darling, whose birthday isn't for another two whole weeks, I turn 47. If it wasn't for the fact that fifty seems to be looming over my head, that might not be so bad...

In celebration of all God has blessed me with, I invite you for cake and ice cream. What kind would you like? I'm having Boston Cream Pie with vanilla ice cream, but since cyber cake is calorie-free, I just might have a taste of whatever you're having too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

The morning did not go quite as planned. I guess the children didn't get the post-it note... Instead of a nice game of cars and blocks or Little People, we had a rather unorganized morning of noise and scattered toys. This is the way of "No-School Days." Priscilla came to visit and so did Rachel. I found the "background noise" to be slightly unsettling and impossible to control.

After my sisters left I was rescued by lunchtime which, of course, was followed by some stories and naps. The afternoon is going a bit more according to schedule. Four children and one Grandma asleep. I should be sleeping too but it is a little late for that now. Instead I am listening to the rain hit the windows and feeling the cold creep up my legs. My "mouse hand" is growing cold too. Maybe I'll go find another cup of something hot and sit by the fire.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Play Day

No school for little girls tomorrow, and Josh is coming to play too! Oh, are we gonna have fun! Out come the blocks, the cars, the dolls, the dress-up clothes, the dishes, and who-knows-what-else! (Why crayons, of course!) I have a feeling this is going to be a wild and crazy week!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I like This

James does not like to have his picture taken but he was a good sport yesterday and actually helped take this one. His arms are longer than mine so he could get a better angle. (Aren't we cute?)

It was a busy week of "gardening" and I so do appreciate the help of my daughter who lends a listening ear, a watchful eye, and helping hand, especially when the "seedlings" begin to multiply. Simon and Lucas came to play one day and, although it makes for a lot of action, I really did love the time I had to spend giving each of them a little love and attention.

We played all kinds of toys and Hannah took some time to sit at the table and color with a few of the little guys. Not only do they find it fun to scribble on paper and dump the crayons, but I think they especially love to climb on her lap for a hug or two. I'm beginning to think I need to make an artwork display somewhere in the living room now that my refrigerator is covered.

I managed to get half of my "flowers" to sleep at nap time. I settled everyone down and cuddled up on the couch with Lucas. He is as wiggly as his father was as a child and decided instead to play with my hair and point out facial features. I decided to take him outside in the fresh air and discovered it to be an absolutely gorgeous day. (This was yesterday.) I felt almost mean leaving the girls inside with Hannah when it was so nice, and so they came out to play too.

I am looking forward to having my grandsons around a little more often. Now that the weather is improving, Dave will be back to his landscaping business. I think I'm going to soak up all the loving I can get!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan...

Long ago and far away a baby boy was born on a US Air Force base in Tokyo, Japan. His four older sisters remember the country of his birth much better than he does, and yet only his birth certificate reads Tachikawa Air Force Base, Tokyo, Japan.

Though he played amongst the bamboo trees, the only memory is in old photographs. He was not quite three years old when the family returned to the shores of North America, taking along a love for the Japanese people, their food, and language. Wasn't it just two weeks ago my own daughter wandered the Tokyo airport and purchased a small package of seaweed to bring home to her father? And those funny fish and shrimp crackers?

Today the country of Japan is in great danger and terrible turmoil. Our hearts are heavy as we read the news and watch footage of utter destruction. We pray for the Japanese people, hurt for their loss, hope for their safety, and realize the world will never be the same.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I is for Ice Cream

I is for ice cream.

I'm fairly certain ice cream needs no explanation. It is a favorite dessert no matter the weather. Sizzling summer days or dead of winter, ice cream is always appreciated. My daughter was lucky enough to have her birthday fall on National Ice Cream Day this past July. Actually, July is National Ice Cream Month here in the United States, thanks to former President Ronald Reagan. July 25 is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day. You know, it's great to be an American in July!

My husband's favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip. It seems to run in the family as a family poll found over 50% list mint chocolate as their favorite. My favorite happens to be the humble, but versatile flavor; vanilla. It goes with any dessert; brownies, apple pie, cookies, birthday cake... (Are you hungry yet?) and, of course, vanilla ice cream is fun to dress up in chocolate syrup, sprinkles, chopped peanuts, and whipped cream. What could be more fun?

For more National Food Holidays click here.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

A Second Chance

I am still reading, only this time I am wading through the book, pen in hand. I stop here and there to underline words that speak to my heart...

"Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity; the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other."

I find this coming back to my mind, invading my thoughts, again and again. I am dissatisfied more often than I care to admit, wanting more, wanting "something other." But I also I find myself searching for those gifts God gives, gifts that arrive in everyday packages, and I record them in my notebook...

#45 -Star studded skies
#71 -A familiar face in a sea of strangers
#129 -Tea and honey
#185 -The still of night
#213 -Morning coffee when my eyes won't stay open

It's been almost four weeks of recording gifts. I wonder how long it will be before seeing gifts in prickly packages becomes second nature?

The Holy Experience

Time for a Change

I only lost an hour's sleep, or so they say, but this morning I am feeling way sleepy. Maybe it was the crazy weekend, maybe it was because I woke up half a dozen times last night, maybe it actually was the time change, but whatever the reason I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Maybe a nice hot cup of coffee will help. Want some?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tea for Two... or More


A friend loves at all times,
Proverbs 17:17 a

Once upon a time I had a tea party friend. When she came to visit me we had tea, and if I chanced to stop at her house, we had tea. Today she lives far away but I decided we could share a cup of tea in spite of the distance between our two houses.

I've set the table and poured the tea. I hope you like green tea and orange, Ann. I have honey to sweeten it or just regular sugar, and a couple of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. I baked them yesterday. If anyone else would care to join us we would love the company. I've got plenty of fancy tea cups.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Perspective... It's All How You Look At It

I am afraid that for near my entire life I have looked at work from the wrong perspective. I have groaned at scattered toys, rolled my eyes at smeary fingerprints, and huffed at muddy boot tracks. I've not looked at routine messes as an opportunity to bless my family, only considered them a maddening inconvenience. But God is not finished with me yet. I am still learning, still growing, and still have time to put a new perspective into practice, one He has been preparing my heart for the past several years, (Didn't I say I was going to consider those toys on the floor to be "jewels?") and God continues to take my "Martha heart" and make it more like Mary's, a heart to follow closer after Him.

Today was noisy. It was busy. It was full of smiles, laughter, and a little bit of crying. The dishes and play food came out. The dress up clothes were donned. I threw a colorful cloth over the dining room table and there was a "party." While they played, I gathered ingredients. We mixed up a batch of cookies and I had helpers to dump, mix, and stir. We cut, baked, and frosted. We tasted. They licked fingers and I remembered to smile and thank God for the moment.

Now the house is quiet. There is still dust on the furniture, the bathrooms are in need of scrubbing, and there are crumbs on the floor. The sink is full of dishes again and there is more laundry to fold. More opportunities to serve and be grateful. The quiet won't last long but I am full from savoring the moments and I think I'll close my eyes and rest for half an hour..

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Grandflowers

Yesterday was busy and full of fun. I was blessed by a visit from two "grandflowers!" I think Simon looks different every time I see him. His hair has decided to lay down and behave now and he is looking like a little man now. He found an apple in my kitchen and decided it made a very good snack. He is still a cuddly little guy and gives some pretty nice hugs. I can hardly believe he will be celebrating a birthday in just over one month. What a fun little guy he is!

While Simon munched his apple, Lucas enjoyed a handful of raisins. I think this child can move his feet and legs faster than anyone I have ever met. He is full of energy but will take the time to sit and look at a book with me for a few minutes. I love hearing him talk. He loves snowplows, cars, and trucks. I think he's a keeper too.

Josh stopped by today, but it was a short visit and I didn't get any pictures. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

H is for Honey

H is for honey; sweet, sticky honey.

Living in the midst of apple orchards has afforded some interesting experiences. We have learned to steer clear of the stacks of bee boxes that show up in the early weeks of May. The bees are busy and they don't appreciate anyone who gets in their way; man or beast. Jasmine learned the hard way. I am extra careful when I photograph them in my lilac bushes. (I think that's a honey bee making a collection... )

One day on a trip about town, I found myself behind this lovely vehicle. Likely a local bee keeper on his way to deliver a load of honey bees to a nearby orchard. It reminded me of a movie I once saw and I was grateful that these bee are the tamer variety. Even so I kept my distance.

I am quite happy to buy my honey from the nearest farm market or grocery store. I love it drizzled over hot biscuits and stirred into a steaming cup of hot tea. Honey, I love you!

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Tug of War

Everyone loves Beanie Babies, even Sofie. She thinks they are called "monkeys" and finds them great for chasing across the hardwood floors and wonderful for Tug of War. Vinegar loves the game too and finds Sofie quite entertaining.

So begins another week... On Mondays I normally tend to get a pretty good start on the week ahead, though last Monday was rather pathetic. By the time Friday rolls around I am typically dreaming of how to catch up over the weekend only to find myself hopelessly behind again on Sunday night. This is likely because I spend most of Saturday running around shopping and doing things that cannot be accomplished during the regular weekdays. Sundays are not cleaning and catching up days and so those tasks are left for Mondays. I'm not sure I was successful today, but I did clean the goldfish bowl and possibly succeeded in killing the goldfish. We'll see... I've thought that other times and been wrong.

So tomorrow is Tuesday. If you think I might catch up on Tuesday, you are sadly mistaken. Tomorrow is the one morning I actually plan to leave the house. I'm going to Ladies' Prayer. If I am lucky I might run the vacuum cleaner and do the dishes afterward. But maybe I'll color with the Little Guy instead... Speaking of catching up, I washed my sheets this morning and they are still waiting to be put back on my bed. See you later!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Still Counting...

Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;

And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;

If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
Psalm 40:5

We awoke to a fresh, clean blanket of snow, a gift for which not many of us were thankful. I wonder how many stopped to thank Him for the gentle, cleansing rain of yesterday. Why is it so easy to complain and yet so difficult to stop and say "thank you, Lord, for the beauty of today"? Spring will arrive on time, like it does every year. Yes, it will snow in April too. You might think that already having that knowledge would give us some sort of acceptance of it's presence, but that is rarely the case. Can I learn this habit of finding God's gifts in the everyday, saying thank you for what He offers, and voicing no complaint?

Thank you
- for the snows of March
- for sweet and sticky maple syrup
- for mud and flowers too

Saturday, March 05, 2011

From the Land of the Rising Sun

My dear Bethany arrived home late last night much to the delight of her three year old son and her husband. They stopped by for just a few minutes this afternoon and dropped off a couple of goodies Beth picked up in Tokyo on her way home; a small bag of caramel tasting rice crackers and peanuts, a large bag of interesting looking crackers, and a small package of seaweed. You must understand that my dear husband was born in Tokyo, so this was pretty special.

Years ago, before we were married James had a little package of seaweed sheets. He ate them like candy, but the rest of us found them a little too fishy for our palates. I suppose they are the kind used to make sushi... However well he likes seaweed, and he does, he was not quite sure what to think of the crackers that came out of the bigger package. I was brave and tasted several. They really did have a unique flavor and some pretty cool decorations too. My cousin tells me this is likely a squid ink flavored cracker and that is why it is black. Don't you just love the little shrimpy guy on top?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

She's Almost Home!

My garden is preparing for the arrival of spring and I am celebrating my daughter's return to the US from halfway around the world. She called and surprised me this afternoon while she waited to go through customs. "You are amazing!" she said from the other side of the continent. I will admit, for a second I was a little thrown off as I wasn't expecting a call for at least another hour. I could hear the smile in her voice. I'm already feeling emotional and I haven't even seen her pictures yet!

Things to do...

There are things I should be doing right now, like cleaning up dog poop while it's still frozen or taking nap, but I'm not... Maybe I will...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Coming Home Again

My daughter flies back to LA tomorrow, a fifteen hour and 35 minute flight. I am so looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about her trip. Wanda, tell her I will be out in the evening, so if she wants to call home, make it either before 6:30 pm EST or after 9. (And please, please, give her a big hug from me and tell her I love her so much!)

G is for Grapes

G is for grapes.

I know that California is famous for growing grapes, but here in New York State we also have vineyards and wineries. The little town of Naples, NY, nestled in the Finger Lakes region, is famous for grapes. (It was also featured in a past Letter G post here.) During the annual Grape Festival the smell of grapes hangs heavy in the air making visitors thirsty. Pies are selling at the stands and fresh grapes wait at farm markets.

A little closer to home are the wild grapes. Small and sour, they cling to trees and bushes. I suppose if we could collect enough they might be good in jam, but so far we haven't been so blessed. My little apples trees are gone now and so are the wild grape vines that once sheltered a nest of fledgling mocking birds. Maybe one day we will have some new apple trees.

Our favorite kind, of course, are the seedless green (or red) grapes that we buy at the grocery store. They are great for snacks and lunches, perfect for diets, and healthy too. I found some on sale yesterday and brought them home to share.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The March of Time

It is a new day. The sun is shining and there is a hint of spring in the air. The snowdrops (or whatever these are) in my garden are making their way into the sunshine. Brave little souls! They do not worry about the snow that may fall tomorrow or the frigid temperatures forecast. Instead they trust the One who made them and raise their hands in worship. I hate to think what the world would look like if flowers were afraid.