Saturday, April 30, 2011


Creation is full of promises. I glimpsed several as I traversed the yard this afternoon. Tiny folded flowers in germ form. In a few short weeks the scent of lilacs will fill the air. I will breathe deep, sneeze often, and drink in their beauty in spite of my allergies. (I love lilacs...)

Embryonic Sassafras leaves caught my eye. Rolled into marble sized capsules, ready to explode into the sunlight. Why have I never noticed them before?

Dandelions, "Summer on a Stem." Weeds to one, flowers to another. Though I am not a fan of stalky dandelion stems poking though my freshly mowed lawn in July, I do find them cheery in April. They mean summer is not far off, or at least I like to think so. Either way in April they always make me smile.

I wandered out to the blueberry patch. Tightly packaged and barely noticeable today. Their tiny, bell-shaped flowers never put on much of a show and I wouldn't even know the canes were starting to bud if I hadn't ventured down to look.

Promises... every one of them working hard to be all the Creator intended. (Have I said this before? Well, I've thought it anyway...) Do trees and flowers feel pain or sorrow as they grow and are stretched? Do they ever tire of going through the same process year after year? It doesn't appear so. Why is it so hard then for us?

Pulling the Plug

Just two days ago the west side of our yard looked like this. It's difficult to tell by looking just how deep the water is, but it's not very deep. Deep enough for a few ducks and a pair of geese to swim about, but not deep enough to be a pond instead of a puddle. It's good for night peepers, polliwogs, and breeding mosquitoes, but bad for growing grass. And it's starting to stink besides.

This is what the same spot looks like today. The grass is struggling, some of it is brown and dead, but some is lush and green too. My goose friend is out there hiding in the grass ( a little to the left of that tree). I wonder if she has a nest? And the robins are having a field day running back and forth in the mud.

Here's my friend the goose laying low and keeping her head down... kinda.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sunset Over Teal Lake

The sky sure was pretty the other night... We had some rain here Wednesday evening which produced a beautiful double rainbow and an equally gorgeous sunset. The pictures Hannah took actually make our backyard puddle look nice. As nice as it is to look at in photographs, the warm weather is beginning to stagnate the water and it is time for Teal Lake to go, hopefully for good...

Last night, after dinner, a friend of James came by with a handy, dandy piece of digging equipment. Together they started digging a trench from the edge of Teal Lake toward the drainage ditch on the east side of our property. James told me the water was gushing through the trench last night and the water level was noticeably lower this morning.

Maybe one day there will be something beautiful behind our barns, something other than a flooded piece of property. (That is not our house over there...)

Unfortunately, there is someone who will be less than pleased at the draining of Teal Lake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Morning Mudwalk

The sky was clear, the sun shone bright, and the out of doors was calling. Hannah decided we ought to put boots on the little guys and take them out for a walk. It was a good idea. We didn't need jackets today, in fact we removed a sweatshirt from one little tyke and slipped their feet into those boots. They were as eager as we to get out in the sunshine and have a little fun.

We sloshed through the back yard and up to the orchard road in search of good tromping puddles. We hadn't gone far when one small boy was tripped up by an apple tree branch and tossed face first in a puddle. Since he wasn't crying, we documented the moment... and moved on.

Wet and muddy clothes did not stop us and they didn't slow these two either. There were more puddles to plow through. Onward we marched! Even Hannah joined in the puddle fun. (Remember the feeling of mud squishing up between your toes? I do!) This puddle had the kind of mud that pulls boots off little feet... oops. Somebody had a very wet and muddy sock.

We trudged on wearing badges of honor on skin and clothing. Well, some of us did anyway... I somehow managed to stay relatively clean. Even my feet were dry and I wasn't wearing any mud boots.

By the time we arrived back at the house, two small boys needed a bath and some clean clothes. It was a wonderful orchard mudwalk! I bet they can't wait to go again.

That Tulip of Mine

Let us hold fast the confession of [our] hope without wavering, for He who promised [is] faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

Once upon a time I had a beautiful salmon colored tulip in the garden by my back porch. Each spring she came to life and bloomed ahead of all the other tulips. Her delicate shape and color drew me in and I found myself smiling each time I passed her way.

Unfortunately I was not the only one to pass the way of the tulip. Stepped on by dogs and children, sat upon by cats, and otherwise plagued by trauma, the little flower began to show signs of utter distress. Made to grow and bloom, the little blossom struggled to keep up and I knew unless I intervened her life would soon be over.

One day, in desperation, I found a shovel, dug up my little friend, and moved her to another little garden a little bit farther off the beaten path where purple chives and smiling daffodils grow. I loosened the soil, dug deep, and placed her near a rock so I could find her in years to come. And then, I hoped for the best.

Last spring, if she grew, I must have missed her and thought for sure the move had been too much. However, this spring I remembered to check her place and found her with her fingers crossed, doing what she was made to do. And look! She even has a stem!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

O is for Orange

O is for orange.

I like the little mandarin Clementines, the fresh ones, not the kind that come in a can. We buy them by the box or bag during the winter months and I try not to notice how much they cost, focusing rather on how good they are for us and how wonderful they taste. Sofie, my little dog, likes them too. They are her favorite and sometimes I actually share.

This particular small child is difficult to feed. He eats bananas, but refuses to taste apples or grapes. For some strange and unknown reason, one day he decided that Clementines might be safe. Now he loves them, especially the ones he can peel all by himself. His sister, on the other hand, has informed me that she does NOT like oranges. She will not eat them or bananas. She does, however like grapes and apples... Go figure.

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Sticky Situation

It was a sticky mess but it could have been much worse. When the topless bottle of white glue tipped over, it didn't puddle on one of the top shelves, it dripped down to the very bottom one and then pooled on the floor. We were "lucky" to notice it before we went upstairs to bed for the night. Cleanup was relatively easy; a dust pan, piece of old newspaper, and a wet cloth. I think the notebooks are okay, but I honestly haven't yet checked to see if they are stuck together.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Sometimes, in the chaos of life, I forget to be thankful.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
John 11:25

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Unexpected

Sometimes treasures are expected and other times they take one completely by surprise. Priscilla and I took a look up in the attic at Mom's house today. We pulled out a lot of garbage and inhaled a load of dust. (Does anyone else out there have the propensity to collect empty shoe boxes?) I have to admit there were only a few items of real interest to either one of us, but we did find a few things to laugh at and a few things to carry home.

Priscilla pulled this painting out of the darkness and we found it to be a piece of my grandmother's artwork. This makes a total of four paintings, three of which are in the possession of our cousin, John. My grandma's sisters, Harriet (here and here) and Margaret (here and here) were also painters. My dad was an artist in his own right and we spent many winter evenings gathered around the family dinner table both drawing ourselves and watching him draw. Mom drew with us too, she once took an art class with my grandma, so I guess it's not at all surprising that we love to paint and draw too... maybe I ought to keep those craft paints after all...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Small Treasures

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Matt 14:24

It may not look like much, but yesterday I found a small treasure forgotten in a drawer. At first I thought it was just a broken piece of wood, but once in my hand, it magically transformed. I held the little boat in my hand and peered into the back of the drawer. Was there also a mast for the tiny vessel?

I am finding that it is really the little things that make me stop to think. The bigger pieces, like furniture, do not hold the same place in my heart that this small carving does. Held in the palm of Dad's hand, carved because he loved both wood and ships. What looks worthless to some is priceless to me. I'm not quite sure what I will do with this tiny treasure. For now it is resting on a shelf in my living room, kind of like it once rested on the mantle behind Dad's wood burning stove.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Many Hands

"Many hands make light work."

I am blessed to have help while working over at Mom's house this week. What a torturous, heartbreaking job it would be without the love and support of family. While James makes repairs and renovations, my sisters and I sort and pack into boxes. (I literally groaned while packing my dad's dripolator coffee pots into a box this afternoon.) Hannah helped James choose paint colors a week or so ago and today Rachel painted bedroom ceilings. We end each day early, near to 4 o'clock, yet tired. Hannah has been able to spend time with friends and cousins on this week off school and keep her grandma company while I am out. Tomorrow I will stay home to play with my grandsons and catch up with some at home jobs.

I find I am able to complete most jobs without an emotional breakdown, but refuse to think too far down the road. I know inside that we are working toward selling our childhood home, and yet can't really enter that realm yet. One job at a time... I've also left my camera either at home or in the car, unsure as to whether I really want to document this process.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Vacation

It's spring vacation and I am taking a break from "gardening." Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the weatherman that this is supposed to be spring and we have been dealt a bout of cold, wet, and sometimes snowy weather. (Photographs of snow in April are against the law in this part of the country... and besides, I didn't have my camera along when it was really coming down.) Truthfully, I found myself laughing when I saw those big, wet flakes falling yesterday afternoon.

So, as I said, it is vacation... kind of. This week I am taking advantage of time to do some things that I otherwise don't have time for and one of those things is sorting through things at Mom's house. Much has already been wrapped in newspaper and packed into boxes, but there is still much more to be done. It is a long and tedious job which will not likely be completed for many days to come. I am afraid the "vacation" will be over long before the job is.

A lifetime of memories can not be packed up in just a few days. Though we are making progress in both sorting belongings and making repairs, we are all somewhat undecided as to the best way to proceed. What to we do with Dad's dripolator collection? He had so much fun finding those and bringing them home. For years it was all we ever used to make coffee... What to keep, what to sell, what to give away, and what to throw out? Whatever shall we do and how will we ever finish this job?

N is for Nachos

N is for Nachos. (I would like to take the credit for the photograph, but the truth is, I borrowed it. However, if I do happen to take a picture of a platter of nachos, I hope they look just like this.)

As a small child growing up in upstate NY in the 1960's and 70's, I had no clue there was such a thing as nachos. Tacos were new to me in 4th grade, and honestly, I was less than impressed at the time. Fast forward to 2011 and I will readily admit that nachos are a weakness of mine. Pile on the cheese! Scatter the lettuce, tomatoes, and black olives! Heap up the guacamole and, yes please, I'll take a nice spoonful of sour cream on top!!!

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Internal Battle

There is piano music playing in the background, a song that touches the heart of me each time I hear it and yet I know not it's name. (Find it here.) Somehow it settles my mind and helps me to think thoughts deeper, to comb the depths of my heart and soul, and to know God is near.

I know not why my heart must ache and struggle always. How is it that I know what is right and good, but am powerless to open the hand and offer back to God what I know only He can make whole? How do I offer to Jesus my selfishness? How do I place into His care that which irritates and annoys? How long will my cup be full of me? How does the cup become empty in order that it can be filled anew?

In the struggle I am forced to look hard at my own faults and failures. I can not place the blame on another, for it is my heart alone that I am able to offer. This is not a "beat myself up" kind of thing, just a realization that I am far from perfect and in need of Someone bigger than myself to make me what I should be. Somewhere in the struggle He will have the victory...

What a gift!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And Now He is One

It was time for another cele- bration and so we gathered with Dave and Leta for a birthday party. This time the star of the show was Simon. I'm pretty sure his favorite part of the afternoon was eating cake, but he had a lot of fun running around with the other kids and collecting hugs and kisses from aunts and grandmas too.

Running about and eating cake is hard work for a little guy who's missed his morning nap, but he was a good sport anyway. While the festivities were winding down he found a warm and comfy spot on Grandma Nora's lap, drank a bottle of milk, and went to sleep.

(I was a good girl today, avoided the cake, and instead settled for a bowl of vanilla ice cream with maple syrup here at home tonight.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just the Other Day

Just the other day our family was growing by one child at a time. There were five of us already and we had just discovered another baby was to join us the the following winter. I told my mother in law if it was a girl we were going to name her Anna Joanna Rosanna Susanna. Mom got a funny smile on her face and said, "I dare ya!" Instead of a baby girl, we welcomed a little boy named Josiah and brought him home in a blizzard.

Where has the time gone anyway? What happened to the little ones who scattered their toys across the floor, refused to eat their dinner, and giggled upstairs in the dark of night long after they should have been asleep? Where have they gone who fought and cried over "spit upon toothbrushes," "licked feet," and who knows what else?

Josiah was the link between these three and the three who were to follow after him. Older friends warned me to enjoy the days while my children were small, that they passed all to quickly and would soon be gone, but I was in the midst of it all, exhausted and often impatient. My friends were right and I find myself every once in a while longing to go back, for just a day or two, to dragging my wagon full of children around the block, stories and prayers before bed at night, and wooden railroad tracks under and around table legs. Yes, maybe even those evenings of frustration when James was working late and they were driving me crazy and making me laugh at the same time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rough Day

One small "flower child" had a very rough day. He fell off the bench by the table and was in distress for what seemed a very long time. I kept expecting him to bounce back but it wasn't happening. Finally he fell asleep on my shoulder. After more distress and a very small lunch, he wanted to go to bed. :(

Even after two naps he could not hold it together. I couldn't see any evidence of his injury, but twice he pointed to his collarbone when I asked where it hurt. He was in obvious pain when I picked him up and yet desperately needed to be comforted. Poor little guy.... Turns out he broke his clavicle. That wasn't supposed to happen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Bit of Rain

Three little boys and a rainy day... Monday's weather is but a memory and today we have cold rain instead of sunshine and almost 80 degree temperatures. We are playing in the house and watching "Wallace and Gromit." It will be a good day for taking naps or curling up with a book. No cats relaxing in the back garden today and no children running about the yard. If it weren't for my change in eating habits, I might think about doing a bit of baking. I've already downed two cups of coffee (half decaffeinated) and I don't suppose that's really good for a "diet" either. Not much going in the way of exercise so far unless standing in the rain at the bus stop counts...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Six "flowers" today... While five took naps, Lucas (who doesn't take naps) and I played Play-Do. He was quite fascinated and we spent about an hour and a half cutting, rolling, flattening, and squeezing colors at the little green table in the kitchen. "It's not to eat!" he told me over and over. Play-Do is new to him and he had so much fun. He didn't even taste it! What a good boy!!!

The "garden " was just winding down for the day when Josh arrived to eat supper with us. His daddy came to get him, but he'll be back to play some more tomorrow.

I haven't had much time for reading blogs or leaving comments lately, and I didn't manage to get out and buy or make a card for my mom today. It was my dad's birthday, and though he's been on my heart and mind, the day somehow slipped up on me and got away before I had a chance to savor the memories. I still miss him everyday and although she seldom mentions him, I know that Mom does too.

PS. Don't miss my ABC Wednesday post below...

M is for Maple Syrup

M is for maple syrup, sweet, sticky, and made right here in upstate NY.

The trees are tapped in late February and the sap is collected through most of March. As long as the days are above freezing and the nights below, the sap is good for syrup. Once the trees bud, the sap turns bitter and the sugaring season comes to and end.

Real maple syrup is much preferred over the artificial stuff sold on grocery store shelves. It is wonderful on pancakes, scrumptious on oatmeal, and fabulous drizzled over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

We missed a field trip to the Sugar Shack this year (These are from a few years back...), but I did manage to secure a gallon of the sweet stuff for future snacks and breakfasts. Many thanks to my friend, Sheri, whose father spends the month of March hanging out by the fire and pouring syrup into bottles.

Sorry, no pancake pictures today.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hanging Around

It was a wonderfully, delicious, gorgeous, stupendous day! I decided we should spend as much time outside as possible.

It was such a beautiful morning that I wore a sweater out to the bus stop and savored the awesome morning temperatures. I heard a cold front was supposed to move in by noon and I didn't want to miss out on the few hours of outside fun we might enjoy.

Since I didn't have the opportunity to go for a walk, I figured working out in the yard was the next best thing. Andrew and I enjoyed the morning outside and when he and Vinegar went down for a nap after lunch, I took the girls out to play. I picked up sticks, straightened the back porch, and cleaned out my garden boxes.

The cold front never did hit, at least not like it was supposed to. Tomorrow we will be back to normal April temperatures. I guess we can't expect it to be 80 degrees every day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Keepin' On

"Keep on keeping on..." Isn't that what they say?

There are times in life when one takes a step back, looks at the situation, and wonders, "What in the world is going on?" Such was the case this morning. If I could ask God questions, there are a few I might like to know about, but we are not called to ask questions, we are called to trust. He knows, He has a plan, and He is in control.

When life dumps an extra load of dirt on me, God doesn't want me to give up. He is, instead, preparing me for what lies ahead. Perhaps, what feels like a heavy load is really that which will provide the strength and courage to ford the next river or weather the next storm. (Yes, this another one of those mysterious posts with no real details... It is purposely vague.)

I have learned over the past several years to know when God is working something bigger in my life and He is working once again. He is teaching me to trust. I hope I am learning.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Sometimes she hangs around the house, and sometimes she hobbles up the road to stay with Martin for a few days. If she stays away too long, her arthritis acts up and she is in obvious pain when she returns. Yes, a three-legged dog can "limp." When she's home I feed her glucosamine every night before going to bed. Having three legs is enough of a challenge without adding joint pain and stiffness. She's ten years old now and been without her right front leg for nine of them. She's a trooper and she doesn't complain. I could learn a thing or two from her.