Monday, August 31, 2009

Praying for Dad

My telephone rang early this morning and I answered to hear my mother's voice on the other end...

The two seats three rows back on the east side of the church were strangely empty yesterday morning. My parents come to church every Sunday and are never late, but their chairs remained empty throughout the service. James suggested maybe I go out and call, but I decided to wait until the service had ended. When I did make the call, mom told me that my dad wasn't feeling too good. The doctor had put him on antibiotics for some pain and swelling in his neck, and he still wasn't up to par, but he sounded cheerful when I talked to him, so I didn't worry.

... "Mart," said my mom, "I just wanted to let you know that your father is in the hospital."

My parents had called 911 at 2 o'clock in the morning, something my father wouldn't do unless it was a true emergency. He hates being doted on and checked over, he hates being stuck in a hospital, but he was having chest pains so they made the call.

It turns out his heart is fine. It is his left lung that is giving him trouble. He has a mass in there and some blood clots in the other. I have to admit, it sounds bad, but I refuse to get worked up about it right now. That won't help any of us. Tomorrow they will put a tiny camera down his throat and take a look. Tonight I pray both he and my mom are able to sleep; he in the hospital and she at home.

I found God to be especially kind today. He sent my two nephews, Rachel's boys, to Grandma's house for the day. Rachel didn't even know Dad was in the hospital. Mike and Steve kept Grandma company while she otherwise would have been home alone. She and Mike played an hours long game of "Dogopoly" while Dad had tests done and answered questions. This evening Rachel took her to see Dad.

I went up to the hospital too, and on my way in heard someone call my name. I thought I was going to meet Stacy on the soccer field, instead the Lord saw fit to put her at the hospital when I went to visit my dad. I am amazed again that meeting a blog friend in person for the very first time can be so easy and relaxed. It truly was like we already knew each other. "Thank you for being there, Stacy. I'm sorry I missed you on the way out. They said you were admitting a patient. I'll look for you again Saturday."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Just "Gorges"

Inspired by a blog post I read yesterday, I made the suggestion that maybe we go out for a ride this afternoon after church. We haven't been out much this summer, so James agreed and we set off for Ithaca and Taughannock Falls State Park.

I have been to this park several times in years past, but never to do more than visit the overlook, see the falls off in the distance, and move on to another park, usually Robert Treman where we would hike the gorge and enjoy more waterfalls. Today we decided to walk the path along the creek bed (sometimes the creek bed itself), and see the waterfall from its base. It was a great idea!

From the top of the gorge to the pool at it's base, the falls plunge 215 feet. (Niagara Falls has a height of 176 feet.) No swimming is allowed below the falls or anywhere close to the base as falling rock is a constant danger. In spite of that, there is a beautiful pool at the bottom and the spray carried by the wind feels quite nice. Several visitors enjoyed a swim in the lower part of the creek instead. We opted to stay dry.

I'm thinking a return trip is in order. There are five State Parks in close proximity (we went through Watkins Glen on the way home) and Sapsucker Woods besides. There are museums, art centers, and antique stores and Cayuga Lake too. Yes, when the fall colors arrive, I will need to arrange a trip back.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering Katrina

For years whenever a hurricane hit the gulf coast I watched to see how close it came to Pensacola because my son was going to college there. When Ivan hit Jim was no longer going to PCC, but the years of watching had me interested so I was watching as Hurricane Katrina made her way through the gulf of Mexico.
As Katrina churned through the gulf, we watched the mayor of New Orleans as he somewhat nonchalantly asked the people to evacuate the city. It was pretty obvious he thought the order unnecessary, but when the storm hit land and the levees began to fail, he changed his tune. It was too late.

In March of 2006 both Dave and Josiah teamed up with some other guys from area Calvary Chapels and went down to Biloxi, Mississippi to help with the cleanup. Above is the team. My boys are the two with their mouths hanging open, Joe in the front and Dave in the back. (Go figure.) It had been eight months since Katrina hit. Dave was in awe of the devastation. As the team helped work on a house, the woman who lived there told them "it's like waking up to a nightmare every morning."

I have no clue what it is like to go through a disaster like Katrina or how long the cleanup takes. I have no idea how many outsiders arrived in the gulf to help rebuild. I only know that I am somewhat ashamed to hear people here whine and complain when an ice storm knocks out our power for a week or so. It seems of little consequence to me that all of the food in the freezer has spoiled when we still have a house that is standing and know that all our friends and family members are safe. Mostly I think we are the ones who are spoiled. We should instead be thankful.

Soccer and Fencing

This morning I took Hannah to soccer. This week I remembered the way and didn't get lost. We arrived on time and knew exactly where to go. No confusion today. Hannah is on the dark blue team which gathers at the far end of the field far, far, from the picnic pavilion. We took water bottles, but I drank my coffee instead. I forgot my blueberry muffin at home on the table. At the park I found the restrooms without incident, far, far from where I parked the van and close to the picnic pavilion.
I took a chair along with me this time, but it never came out of the van. Instead I walked back and forth along the park road (because it's good for me) and took a few pictures. (I remembered my camera.) I didn't mind a few sprinkles of rain, I had my umbrella, but when the showers started I took cover in the van and finished reading the book of James.
Back at home I decided to take up a sport of my own and practiced some fencing, something I haven't done much of in the past. I think I did alright. It's progress anyway.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Not Much Progress...

Not much progress but there is hope. The seeds are being planted and soon sprouts will begin to appear. Of course at the moment the seeds are germinating in my mind. Progress is slow but it is happening. Just like the seeds buried in the ground take some time to show themselves, such is the case here.
For the past several days I have been looking at flowers and thinking. Now I have decided how to proceed. The fence has been penciled in. I plan on starting in this corner, painting a "primer" coat on the fence to make it more visible. A wisteria will grace the corner spreading it's branches on either wall with trailing flowers. Once the wisteria is under way the flower garden will continue to spread toward the windows.

Okay, well that's the plan anyhow...

Caught in the Kitchen

Fruity, that is a good word to describe me. Today I made three batches of jam, blueberry zucchini bread, and gluten-free blueberry muffins (they're for me). I bought a couple baskets of peaches a few days ago, (you know, when the fruit flies moved in?) and last night, after a bit of berry picking (Black and blue), Beth and I discovered that one of my peaches looked very much like a hairy old man. We decided something must be done to remedy this problem and set to work sorting rotten peaches from good ones, peeling, slicing, and bagging the good ones for today's adventure.

My first batch of jam was just plain peach. When I discovered a bag of blackberries in my freezer I thought I would make the next one blackberry/peach jam. Too late I discovered the "blackberries" were really elderberries. Happy for me I was feeling adventurous. I made elderberry/peach jam instead followed by a batch of blueberry peach. I am not yet out of fruit. Peaches and blueberries still remain.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Off the Wall

My mind is spinning. I am dreaming of flower gardens and picket fences, trying to decide what to "plant" in my living room and where to place these "plantings". Hannah helped me pencil in the picket fence this morning and then I went to the library to look for some books on flowers.

Do I plant the flowers that are already in my outside gardens? Or do I pick different ones? I want to use several different colors and "plant" both before and behind the fence. Shall I plant a tree up the corners of the wall? And do I make it a flowering shrub or a shade tree?

Do I dare take on this project at all? Too late, there's no turning back now. Part of me is astounded that I would actually consider painting a mural in my living room and part of me is rather amused. Honestly, I am looking forward to the flower painting and am quite eager to see the completed project.

PS. One little girl next week and two the following. School starts September 8th.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

She is seventy-five years old today, probably wondering where the years have gone, and where the next will take her. She's raised a family, watched her grandchildren grow, and now has a chance to snuggle great grandchildren too. Her oxygen tank keeps her fairly close to home but doesn't prevent her from going to church or visiting the local nursing home. Her ears don't work quite like they used to, but she doesn't have any trouble seeing the world around her. She still has enough love in her heart to share with others and enough wisdom to provide guidance to those who ask. She has trekked up the hills of life and taken in the view, breathed deep and started down the other side. I am blessed to be with her on the journey.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Left Thinking Once Again...

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' name, Amen. ~A.W Tozer, "The Pursuit of God"

I am still holding on, holding on to things that I must let go. Somewhere in the midst of picking blueberries, walking the beach, and admiring picket fences, I have lost my focus again. I have forgotten that this life is not about the "toys". I have gazed through the glass, coveted that which may never be mine, and neglected He who gave His everything that I might be His. He'll let me go after the toys if that is my heart's desire, but that is not really what I am after. I want to give up the toys for something much more valuable, He knows that, and so He brings me back again. It is not accomplished without some pain and bleeding, but I know He loves me and does only what is best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A New Beginning

The project has begun. This is the before picture. The furniture has been moved, the walls washed, and the painting started. I'm quite certain I am finished with the fish tank, but I am not quite certain what to do with the remaining fish. There are three and I am just not cruel enough to send them on the "porcelain express" when they are healthy and well. For now they are swimming in a reduced quantity of water because I had to move the aquarium out of it's little corner. Stay tuned, soon a garden may begin to grow in my living room...

That's Not How You Get In

We were invited over to Beth and Adam's house for supper on Saturday evening. Not only was there free entertainment (the neighbors were listening to some loud music...) but Josh was there too and he always provides plenty of fun.

Besides showing us his swing set tricks (he fell off the slide) and saying all kinds of cute and funny things, he also bit Hannah's toe. Mmmm, tasty!

Beth cooked the burgers. They were "flame broiled". They were by no means burned, just basking in the fire...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Like an Old Friend

Yesterday I took Ben and Hannah to the mall. It is a rare occurrence and rarer yet that I actually spend any money while there. I wanted to look for something special in the toy store, but on my way was stopped by a pretty young woman working at a kiosk. She tried to sell me a manicure kit, which was very nice, but not on my list of priorities. On my way to avoid walking back her direction, I decided to go through Bon Ton and ran into a sale on sandals, a sale I couldn't pass up. I have been looking for these particular sandals for the past few years, so it was like running into an old friend. I knew I would forever regret it if I didn't buy them. Today my feet are cool and happy and it only cost me twenty bucks!

Today was the first day of soccer for Hannah. I woke up with a migraine, but still managed to take a shower and get out of the house on time to get to the park. Too bad I didn't look up the directions as it has been quite a long since I was last there. I had forgotten the way and so, rather than arriving early, we got there about ten minutes late. Next week I won't be getting lost, I will bring a chair to sit in, and maybe I'll even take a photo or two. Hey, maybe I'll even see Stacy instead of just her husband and four absolutely adorable children.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Little Girls and Flower Gardens

We had company tonight. Two little girls came over to meet me. It was a nice evening, although I think they were much more excited about seeing each other and playing with my toys than they were about meeting me. It is obvious they are good friends and I think having them here will be fun. It will definitely be different than having Troy but he was fun too.

I am also looking forward to a project in my living room. If the plan comes together I will be "planting" a garden on my living room wall and making a play area. I'm thinking flowers and a picket fence. The collecting of pictures and ideas has begun and I have a friend who has agreed to help me paint. Now if only I can make it happen...

The Blacker the Berries

It is not quite time to pick blackberries. I'm not sure how prolific our harvest will be this year as the continuous downpours of the season have caused the weeds and grapevines to run roughshod over everything desirable. I have cut grapevines out of apple trees, blueberry bushes, rose bushes, perennial gardens and now blackberry canes. It is somewhat difficult to see the thorny blackberry canes through the dense tangle of prolific weeds and vines. I did, however, manage to rip open one of my fingers on the razor sharp thorns and embed several others into various fingers. I went back to the house with about a pint of berries, not near enough to do anything with. Maybe next week I will find them ripe enough to bake a pie or make some jam.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Love Of Calvary

The Love of Calvary

Your love is greater than the heavens You created,
Farther reaching than the universe You made,
Touches deeper than a heart could ever hunger,
Oh, the love of Calvary!
-Jim Sitter
(I wish I could share the music with you, but it is locked into a CD and I don't know how to post it here.)

A friend is on my heart today. She is too far away to hug, too far away to offer a shoulder to cry on, too far away to sit and cry with... We are so helpless on our own. Today I pray that she would feel my love and the prayers I offer up for her. I pray the peace of God would fill her heart, put her mind at ease, and give her rest. I pray she would know the love of Christ in a fresh new way and entrust her precious child into his care. It is easier said than done, I know this because when my heart was broken for my own son, I had to give him back into the care of my Lord over and over, only to find myself taking up the burden once again. "I love you, my friend..."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

At Wanda's Request

At Wanda's request I honor you with a few more beach photos. The "Purple Lady" really was a favorite with me. I hope she had her eyes closed when I snapped the photo. She never flinched or moved at all and I tried not to be obvious. I really think she was taking a snooze and never knew anything of my mischief.

The life guards were also looking pretty relaxed though somewhat bored. This one looked up and down the beach while twirling his whistle around and around on his finger. I held my camera up against my shoulder and he never knew I was snapping photos. I think he was more worried about whether or not people were swimming in the unguarded section of beach.

This little girl was just really enjoying the cool water. Isn't she beautiful? The water was full of children splashing and playing but this one really was pretty. This stretch of beach is wonderful for kids because the sand bar goes out such a great distance. Deep enough to swim and shallow enough to allow a crowd of people.

Did I mention the life guards looking relaxed? I suppose this guy was paying attention, there were a multitude of swimmers in the water, but he looked like he could also lean back and close his eyes for a nap (kind of like the Purple Lady). I don't know where his whistle was, maybe around his neck. Then again, maybe not. I don't see it.

The kids and I started out toward the pier, but it was a very long walk to the end and none of us felt like trekking all the way out, at least not that day. My flip flops are not comfy in the least and Hannah was feeling sleepy. I decided not to pressure them or put blisters on my feet and we turned back toward the beach again.

Yes, there lots of people at the lake. Notice the man sitting on the yellow dump truck? Had I noticed him then I would have taken a better close up shot. I really do need to head back to the beach once more before school starts, but I'm not quite sure where to fit it in.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Beach

We are not beach babies and seldom don bathing suits when headed to the lake. Such was the case yesterday when I took Ben, Hannah, and a friend out to Fair Haven. Beating the heat was the name of the game and the beach was filled with folks looking to soak up some sun and water.

We walked along the water's edge, cooling our toes and letting the waves lap at the hem of our shorts. I had the urge to venture deeper, but thought better of it with a camera in hand. Instead I walked the beach looking for interesting pictures and found there was no shortage of material. Not too many people were paying attention and I tried not to be too obnoxious.

Castles graced the shoreline, complete with turrets, flags, and feathers, and toys and other belongings were scattered in the sand; buckets, shovels, trucks, shoes and towels. Stones pinched my bare feet but the sand was smooth and soft. There were bodies everywhere; big and small, tattooed and tanned, pierced and plain. Some people enjoyed the sun fully clothed and others were scantily clad.

Some people unknowingly brought a smile to my face yesterday... (like this somewhat large woman sitting astride a young man. He's wasn't going anywhere and I joked to the kids that he was being "flattened". One just never knows who will be watching and take your picture when you least expect it. I really do try to be kind most of the time, but sometimes just can't resist the opportunity. This was one of those times. Do you think people pay attention to photographers on the beach?)

...and other pictures made me smile today as I went through the photos. (I cropped this man out of a larger picture of the beach. I took a few photos of the trucks later as we walked back toward the van but hadn't noticed this until I was editing this morning. I suppose he has grandchildren playing in the water or maybe Grandma was using his beach chair. Either way his new found seat doesn't look very comfortable and I'm pretty sure he didn't sit there for long.)

I think it's the colors that really catch my eye. The beach was full of bright and happy colors; people, umbrellas, chairs, towels, and toys. Nothing says summer quite like a trip to the beach.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time Flies

I did not accomplish all I set out to this week, but that is not really a surprise. The wonder is that I accomplished anything at all! Summer is flying by and I am helpless to slow its momentum. It will soon be autumn and two little girls will occupy my days and set my schedule. School will start and fall colors will grace the fields and trees. I'm not sure if I'm ready. We must find some water to play in before the season ends and maybe take a trip to the beach. (We're thinking Sunday afternoon...) It's hot enough this week to feel like summer so maybe by the time September arrives I will be ready after all.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All in a Day's Work

I heard the blueberry patch calling, but I had other things to do today. I broke out the bleach and some old rags and set to work cleaning both my bathrooms from top to bottom. I didn't spend much time outside on this beautiful day, I was "accomplishing something". My refrigerator is spotless. Never mind that I unwittingly threw out the salsa James had been given just the other day, I now have room for groceries if I should decide to go shopping. Ben and Hannah spent an hour or two walking lawn mowers across our property and now the lawn is looking tame once again. If the blueberries are still calling tomorrow, maybe I'll think about answering, maybe.

PS. I found Hannah's school books. Now maybe I can finish that paperwork.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the Care of Angels

I am driving Nathan's car this week as my van has been commandeered for the annual trek to the teen retreat at The Castle near Oil City, Pennsylvania. I found this scripture verse posted on the console of Nate's car when I went out this morning.

Have you ever known that the Lord kept you or someone you love from certain danger by allowing a lost set of car keys? It happened to us on Monday night when James and Hannah were delayed 10-15 minutes looking for car keys that had been dropped out in the yard. The flares to divert traffic were just being placed when they reached Rt. 104.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Never Ending Blues

I was blessed this afternoon to have some friends offer to help me pick blueberries. Between Michelle and I and five children, we were able to cover the patch in a rather short amount of time. I continue to be amazed at the blueberry production this year as the last few years were progressively dismal. Record amounts of rain have led us to believe that our bushes have been slowly dying of thirst, rather than some unknown disease or infection. I must remember to purchase a drip line for next year.

The school year is also creeping up on me. I am so not ready for a new school year and have not yet turned in all of last year's paperwork. I must sit down with my pile of books and figure out what I am doing or I shall be in a heap of trouble. Please pray that I can find Hannah's books from last year so I can send in my final reports. I have no clue where the box that holds them has disappeared to. I had thought about attending a used curriculum sale tomorrow night but have my doubts about whether or not I will actually get there much less what I would be looking for. Probably something I sold or gave away within the last year. (My plans changed since then...) What I do know is that HIS soccer starts in a week and a half and Hannah is signed up to play on Saturday mornings. This means I must find her a pair of soccer cleats and locate her suddenly missing soccer ball...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sodus Point

It was hot and muggy. James decided we should go for a drive before supper, so we piled into the van and headed off to Sodus Point. Ben and James walked out on the pier as Hannah and her friend tried out the swings. I, with my camera in hand, found a bench from whence to take in the scenery.

The lake and sky almost blended into one on the horizon and a great mist settled over the water. The sky was dark but not necessarily threatening, and thunder rumbled in the distance. The gulls glanced furtively at me hoping for a dry crust of bread or a stale potato chip, but I had nothing to offer. When I turned my head to look down the beach, two gulls sneaked quietly up the guard rail toward me.
I was glad to have my camera along as heavy storm clouds and sandy shore created an aura of mystery, almost romantic. I snapped five photos before hearing the disappointing chime that signals my batteries are dead.

I decided to stay on my bench and watch the birds and people. The seagulls continued to watch me. Ben and James tried to sneak up behind but I knew they were there. We watched a large van pull into the parking lot. Several children jumped out and ran for the sandy playground. The parents made a fire in the barbecue grill as the storm continued toward the beach. We left just as the first sprinkles of rain began to fall leaving to my imagination the two little families huddled under the shelter of the picnic pavilion as torrents of rain poured down.