Yesterday I stayed close to home for a change. In the morning I caught up on a few blogs, listened to music, and enjoyed the solitude. I watched the trees outside my window dancing in the wind, along with leaves swirling through the air, and thought how it often takes a big wind to strip us bare... (Ah yes, I can be profound on rare occasions. ha ha!)
After washing some laundry and attacking the mess that was my upstairs, I made the not-so-difficult-decision to visit my favorite apple stand down on Lake Rd. where I can buy a bushel of apples for $15 (excluding Honeycrisp, which are $35 a bushel). Most years I visit Brownell's several times but work has kept me at bay this season. I filled my box with a mixed variety (which is probably one of those redundant statements); Northern Spy, 20 ounce, a few Crispins, perhaps some Empires or Cortlans, and topped it off with a bunch of my dad's favorite Ida Reds. I should more knowledgeable of apple varieties, but once I get them home I'm often not sure how to tell a Macoun from an Ida Red, Empire, or Cortland. Either way, everything I bought is good for tossing into pies, most of them are good for putting into a lunch box, and Ida Reds make a very pretty pink applesauce..
On my way to buy apples I passed a pumpkin patch. Couldn't help but think of the little ones who filled my house and hours not so long ago... Yes, sometimes I miss them. Perhaps I always will.
And, yesterday our oldest grandson turned eight. Pretty crazy! I wasn't a grandma at all when I started blogging. It turned out to be a really nice day even if I never did get a full face shot of Josh and his apple pie.
Life is a journey. Sometimes we end up caught in a traffic jam; other times we drive for miles quite unsure of where we're going. It always helps to have a map. And it helps if one knows how to read the map.
My friend Deborah and I set out on a journey last Friday. I'd looked up possible routes and even printed a map along with directions, but in spite of my apparent preparation, we ended up wandering back roads wasting precious time. I wasn't worried whether or not we'd actually make the destination. We weren't actually lost, just misdirected. I took the freeway exit too soon and so we meandered about the hills and back roads. We took the long way because I didn't pay enough attention to the map.
Not all was lost. We were blessed with hills full of autumn colors, bright blue skies, and sunshine. There was plenty to be thankful for because God is like that. He sends blessing in spite of our foolishness. I came home with a deepened friendship, plenty of photos, and a few trinkets. I only wish I'd not left myself feeling rushed. We so need those moments to inhale deeply and rest.
I'd been given a map of another type as a child. Mom and Dad took me to Sunday school, read me Bible stories, and taught me about Jesus. I can't recall a day when I didn't know how to pray or where to turn in times of need, but I haven't always been an avid "reader of the map" and have done my share of confused wandering. There have been abundant blessings along the way, along with abundant heartaches. A time or two I've stopped to ask directions. Sometimes I've been given good advice and other times well-intentioned people have either given bad directions or ignored me altogether.
Just like the wandering motorist searches for roads going in the right direction, a wandering soul looks for the right path too. There are some rough spots in the road ahead, potholes, ruts, and rocks, but on the other side is smoother pavement. I promise not to drag you all into my woes, but I would appreciate prayers for our safe arrival. And thank you.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy
There is a part of me ready to quit going off to work 3-4 days a week. I'm ready to stay home, clean and organize my house, make savory soups, and bake flaky desserts... and maybe take a nap on a dreary, golden afternoon. Autumn does that to me.
Deborah and I set off into a world of golden sunshine this past Friday. We drove long and far (and I took the long way every time...) and found a tiny town full of antique shops.
We wandered to our hearts' content, took fancy photos, brought home selected treasures, and left others behind. We're both wishing we took this sweet swinging doll home to stay, but she made her way back only in a photograph... There's always something left behind that I'm wishing I had purchased. I've save a lot of money that way through the years
Bling, lots of bling. It's the first thing you see in the shop window. So fun, even for me, and I have never been a collector of bling.
These twin lamps graced an upstairs table creating a mirror image. I initially thought them rather gaudy, but every time I look at the photo I love them a little bit more. I don't know why, but they make me smile and every home should be filled with people and objects that bring a smile to our faces. (I read that in a book once...)
We're done traveling far and wide for a while now. We're both worn out and running out of money. (ha ha!) Actually I spent more buying grape pies on the way home for my October birthday kids than I did in any antique shop. And yes, I left the lamps behind too.
Tomorrow, which just might be today, is a new day. I have plans to go on another fallish adventure with my friend Deborah. Only time will tell where the adventure will take us, but I do have an idea or two... One of those ideas involves antique shops and another has to do with grape pies. Oh, the suspense!
Long ago the Harwood family held a reunion in the hills of Allegheny county in southern NY state. My grandma was a little girl during this one in 1913, just eight years old. According to those who worked hard to identify them, she is the little girl in front, dressed in white, and holding the hat of her great grandpa George Harwood (but I actually think she is the next little girl in white and the one holding the hat is her sister Nellie). Margaret Bixby and George Harwood (see here) appear to be the patriarchal couple. Margaret is the one in front wearing the necklace and George is beside her (with Grandma, or Aunt Nellie... on his lap). In the center of the photo is a man with three children on his lap. That is my great grandpa, Joseph Shafer and three of his children, Albert, Helen, and Harriet (I'm guessing). Great Grandma, Tillie, is seated toward the front, in a dark colored dress, with baby Margaret on her lap. (Please click on the photograph to see a larger version.)
Everyone in these over 100 year old pictures has passed on now and identifying the family members is becoming more difficult with every passing year. Thankfully, the second old photo (below) gave me some clues.
This is Shafer's Nine (says so on the back of the photo), which I have in my possesion, and my parents helped me identify who was who, which wasn't too difficult once we realized the photo said "Shafer's Nine." (Baby- Joseph, born in 1915, held by Maude, Florence (my grandma), Nellie, and Leo. In the front- Albert, Helen, Harriet, and Margaret, who was the baby in the previous photograph.)
Thank you to Fay Hoyt, Jeff Salisbury, and Wayne Scott, all very distant cousins, who have helped bring some of the loose and straggling members of this vast family back together in old family photos and genealogies.
Giving it a try. Posting at work, that is. Another hour before an aide comes to get my friend out of bed and down to the dining room for supper. Tomorrow I'll be here just five hours and then be off for two days. Looks nice outside and I'm looking forward to being out in the sunshine on Thursday and Friday. Hope there'a some left by then!
I like four day weekends. They're just about perfect. On Thursday I had a wonderful outing with my friend Deborah, I spent Friday morning helping Hannah get her name change situated, Saturday brought a family gathering complete with an extra large pot of chili, and yesterday came complete with an afternoon nap and a football game on TV. Now if only there was an extra day to clean the house... or maybe not..
Since I am fresh out of kids, you get photos of "The Naughties" who can be slightly destructive and yet very entertaining, not to mention sweet.
Mornings here have gotten a little wild with the stam- peding of half grown kittens. They tumble and roll, bite and poke, yowl and growl. Poor Sofie doesn't know quite what to do with them. Little Cat isn't thrilled either. They gang up on her and she is not the social type. (One day last week the stripey kitten came tearing in the cat door with Little Cat right on his heels! I really had to wonder what kind of trouble he was up to...)
Kittens do make nice lap warmers when they decide they've had enough running about, and there's one for each of us. How cool is that?
I've made some interesting dis- coveries, thanks to little feet on my laptop keyboard. There is actually a key to turn my wifi off and airplane mode on. Who knew? Apparently the kittens did, and now I do too.
Kittens, like small children, are interested in all things new and it is no wonder "curiosity killed the cat" although it was most likely a kitten. Naughty is an understatement, but they are fun. They intrigued by objects moving on screens; the curser on a computer, race cars on the television... I probably don't need to tell you how many times I've set the photographs back in place.
I bought myself a nook. Feeling brave and adventurous today, I guess. They say actually using your brain helps. Ha ha! So I'm giving it a whirl. Besides, if I can get some of my computer time done at work, while my friend sleeps, perhaps I will find the freedom to get more accomplished at home.
I also bought a few books. Not nook books, but "real" books, the kind you hold in your hand, can write in or underline pertinent passages in. Stressful times can be times of growth and I don't want to miss the opportunity.
I thoroughly enjoyed my outing with Deborah to the farm market on Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning, it poured buckets, but I was able to go out and do some shopping late morning to early afternoon and didn't have to take my umbrella out once.
I managed to make some yummy chicken vegetable soup Friday afternoon and even remembered to buy a nice loaf of bakery bread to go with it. (Marco Polo bread, from Wegmans)
On Saturday morning I baked a Bread Pudding and 2 apple pies. A few of our kids stopped by to help stack firewood around noon.
Saturday afternoon we met up to help celebrate the birth of grandchild #7. Spencer will be one on Wednesday. Not sure how that happened so fast...
James had some work to do after church yesterday, so I drove home the long way, took a few cornfield photos, stopped for an ice cream (It was lunch and the last for the season...), and checked out a barn sale before heading home. Then I took a long backyard ride on the tractor/lawnmower. Cutting grass makes me sleepy, probably something to do with allergies. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open once I came in. While James watched the football game, I tipped over and closed my eyes for a bit.
I accidentally stood her up last week. Didn't mean to confuse my Thursdays, but I did. Thankfully yesterday's weather was perfect for an afternoon drive to the farm market with Deborah. There are days when I think it would be fun to open a shop, serve lunch and pie, offer coffee and desserts, and sell cool stuff.
Enjoy the tour from yesterday afternoon...
If only I'd been allowed to take some inside photos... I'd have gotten the sunshine on the cookie jars for certain.
I left home Monday morning with enough time to stop and get some gas on my way to work. Since the weather is cooling off, especially in the morning and again in the evening when I leave work, I grabbed my freshly laundered black fleece from the dryer and put it on as I ran out the door.
I had a little time to kill after filling my gas tank, so I decided to run across the street and pop into Savers. I wanted to see if they had any cheap but interesting music CD's that I might play at work or in my car. I picked several CD's from the shelf (Selah, Kenny G...) and then looked at a few books. I grabbed two by Max Lucado and headed to the checkout.
Once at work I ended up parking my van in the far parking lot, walked in behind another woman who does one on one care, and signed the book at the front desk. Everything seemed pleasant and normal. I didn't notice any weird looks or snickering. I had no reason to suspect anything was amiss.
Once inside the Memory Care Unit, I entered my friend's room and did my telephone check in. Sometime I wear my jacket inside, but now that summer is over, the air conditioning doesn't run as often and the place can actually get hot. I took my jacket off and held up to straighten it out before flopping it over my backpack and lunch bag on the floor next to my chair. You can probably imagine my horror when I spotted a freshly washed and dried pantyliner stuck to the outside of my black fleece. In my younger days I would have been looking for a hole to crawl into, or at least a closet to hide in. Thoroughly embarrassed, and likely turning several shades of deepening red, I plucked the outrageous offender from my garment and quickly deposited it into the trash receptacle. It wasn't until I did that I suddenly found the entire incident oddly hilarious.
Yesterday held a recurring theme, that of Jesus reaching out and saving us in the midst of the storm. Not only did I write about "Storms and Stillings" yesterday, but I stopped at Savers on my way to work to look for a few new music CD's. I picked up one by Selah. The first song was the ever popular "You Raise Me Up." "... You raise me up to walk on story seas..." the second, "Part the Waters"...
When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me
Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me
In case you think I am a complete nut case, I also picked up a couple of books by Max Lucado, "A love Worth Giving" and a little devotional called "Grace for the Moment." Guess what the verse for October 5 was...
(Peter) shouted, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter.
A little farther down the page it says, "Faith is a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and a prayer that God will be there to pull us out of the water."
October is here and almost a week old already. In years past I've felt at least a little bit ready to face the cold winter months ahead, but I'm not so sure this time around. I'd really like to press the rewind button and spend a little more time in summer, or at least find the one that says "pause" so I could bask in autumn's glory for a bit.
Quite honestly, it's been a hard couple of years... and especially the last few months... I desperately want to write it out and sort my thoughts, but can't. Thoughts don't come in a logical and orderly sequence, instead they tumble and roll. Bouts of settledness are followed by waves of fear and uncertainty. I've been left feeling often numb, empty, and alone. Only time and the love of Christ will bring healing. I find myself grateful for the tears that occasionally do fall because there are moments when I am afraid of the cold, numbness.
In the midst of it all, I lost a blog friend. She'd probably say shes still there, but the truth is I miss her comments and words of encouragement here. She doesn't know my struggles and has likely misunderstood some of my words and actions. It's easy to do when we don't see the entire picture and written blogs rarely tell the whole story. Perhaps I am misunderstanding her... In many ways my blog friends, have been a lifeline these past few years and I don't want to lose any of you, especially without knowing why. I hope this one will return to share a cup of coffee and a bit of friendship one day soon.
God is good. He walks on the waves of every storm and if we can take our eyes off the situation for a moment and scan the horizon, we will see Him there. He still calms rough seas, parts waters too deep to pass through, and encourages us to "fear not" and yet we are so much like the disciples . At least I am. (He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up
and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26) After five years of attending a small church here in town, we returned in February to the fellowship in Webster where we attended regularly for seven years and where I have attended Ladies' Prayer for the past umpteen (I really can't remember) years. It is another lifeline. And, I am thankful for the trip "up the mountain" this past weekend. God has a way of stilling storms and tossing ropes just when we need them most.
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.