Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Other Half

Tomorrow is August, the other half of summer. We've had a wonderful July full of family. James' mom came to visit, our son Jim was in town from Minneapolis, and we welcomed a new granddaughter. There was a July 4th picnic, a trip to Fort Erie, a few jumps into Rachel's pool, and Hannah spent last week at camp. I've managed to keep my pepper and tomato plants alive through the drought and heat wave (thanks to my square foot garden boxes), and I've done a little bit of babysitting. The back porch has been wonderful and I'm drinking gallons of Snapple Peach Iced Tea.

Tomorrow is August. The blueberries are ripe, it's time for VBS, and we are planning a weekend getaway. (Looks like James and I are going back to Fort Erie.) I think we may visit Seabreeze, take a ride to the beach, or find a not-too-far-away friend to visit. I'm still hoping to wrap up some more "loose ends," get my house clean and organized, and plan Hannah's next school year. I have about four weeks... Perhaps it can be done... Now don't laugh! I have this whole next week without small children...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Discovering Milo

Having blog (and Facebook) friends across the globe is great for seeing new places, learning about different cultures, and discovering new things. This week we discovered Milo...

We had already checked by the chocolate milk mixes and scanned the International Foods aisle with no luck. I had checked online and was fairly certain the grocery store I visit regularly carried the product I was looking for. The friend who mentioned the malted drink lived in Australia where Milo is very popular. We decided to keep looking... Hidden away on the top shelf Hannah spotted the unmistakable green canister. Who would have thought we'd find Milo in the "Goya" section in the midst of the Mexican specialties? Ah, this one happens come from Mexico...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blueberry Pickers

I had some help in the blueberry patch this morning. Lucas and Simon were here for a few hours. I decided perhaps they would like to help me pick some berries. Of course, little boys are not really expected to fill up a box but I gave them each a pint sized one anyway. "Pick the blue ones," I told them.

Lucas found picking berries to be a fun job. Though he knows some of his colors, he obviously wasn't paying much attention to which berries were blue and which were not.

Simon as mostly interested in eating the berries. I'd drop a few in his box and he would either eat them or spill them on the ground. He picked a few too, but I'm not sure I ever saw any before they were popped into his mouth.

I'm thinking these little guys will be wondering about the blueberry patch the next time they come to Grammy's house. Guess I'd just as soon let them pick berries as leave them for the birds.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mission Impossible?

"It's hard getting old." So I've been told...

I'd really like to know if it is possible to have fun getting old. Well, is it? If so, I'm guessing I'd best start practicing having fun right now so that I'm in the habit by the time my hair turns gray and my face begins to wrinkle. What do old people do for fun? Besides crossword puzzles and word searches, I mean.

I'm pretty sure my great grandpa knew how to have fun. The smile on his face speaks volumes, as do the tattered outfit and hat he wore to work out in his garden. (Perhaps a walking stick is key... Grandmanita has one of those too... I think she might actually have a whole closetful...) Then again, maybe it's all in the attitude. "I think therefore I am... I think..."

Bird Brain

Last night I borrowed my mom in law's tripod and tried my hand at "catching" some birds. With the camera steadied I was able to pull of a few decent shots. I can see why some folks enjoy bird watching, they certainly are cheery little creatures. Though I think one could go through a small fortune in no time just buying birdseed. Perhaps I should have stuck to watching barn swallows. They eat flies and aphids, which means I don't need to buy anything, chatter endlessly, and are capable of wonderful aerodynamics. Just the same, the finches are a pretty addition to my backyard collection of feathered friends. I suppose I'll just keep feeding them for now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

B is for Butterfly

B is for butterfly. A monarch butterfly in my backyard several years ago.

Not only am I blessed with single flitting Monarch butterflies here and there, but surprising "flocks" of butterflies one year, finding caterpillars in my milkweed another, and last year a beautiful "Methuselah Generation" chrysalis. (Click links to see...)

To see the other participants in of ABC Wednesday Round 9, click here!

Monday, July 25, 2011

No Comment

So, apparently Thankful Lists do not generate much in the way of comments... That is okay. I am still thankful.

The monkeys were rather quiet today. I suppose rain makes them tired. It does not, however, wipe the smiles from their faces. They have found a hiding place inside my purse and think it funny that they can get to places such as church, Bible Camp, and the nursing home without anyone ever bothering to take notice. Josh came along to the nursing home this evening and let them out for a little romp on the couch. Tomorrow my Flowers are coming to visit. The monkeys are excited.

And Counting...

It has been several weeks since I have dared bring my Gratitude Journal back downstairs... There has been so much to thank God for and yet I sometimes feel stifled by the absence of my notebook. Each evening I attempt to remember the events and blessings of the day. I know I'm missing some, not because the journal is safely in my bedroom, but because I let my mind get distracted from the blessings themselves. Perhaps I need to scan the days photographs before crawling into bed for the night...

1229. Calm in the midst of storms
1230. A pillow in the "bottom of the boat."

1252. A husband who makes me laugh
1256. A God who never stops polishing His people

1279. Grandmanita in the kitchen
1286. An afternoon coffee

1316. The look on my son's face as he tells us, "It's a girl!"

1340. Clothes on the line.
1343. Lavender in a Christmas cup

1357. Candles in fancy stemware
1360. Colored sprinkles

1379. Blueberries ripening
1380. Sunshine turning weeds to golden lace

1451. A cup half full

Cool air is permeating my house, a gentle rain falls, and the birds are happy. I'm so glad God loves me!

The Holy Experience

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The End of an Era

For many years we have been taking our kids to summer camp in Oswego. This week marks the end of an era. It is our youngest child's last week at camp as a camper. She turned 12 at camp one year and celebrated her 13th birthday there the next. I guess she's been to camp for about the last five years now. I always have to smile when we drop them off and hear shouts of recognition from old friends. It's really kind of sad to see it all come to an end. I never thought I'd be finished sending seven kids to camp!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hey, Hey, We're the Monkeys!

We went to Target. We came home with a couple of monkeys and let them lose... Next thing I knew they were climbing my sunflowers and smiling like there was no tomorrow. They certainly have no fear of heights and their climbing skills are amazing. They also have the sunniest dispositions I have ever seen. I haven't heard either one complain or whine yet. They are definitely "half full" kind of monkeys!!!

I told Bethany the wisteria was getting a little too wild. The monkeys think it makes a mighty fine jungle! I think they just may be right. It's wonderful place for swinging, hanging upside down, or just stretching out to relax. I'm expecting a monkey hammock to show up there one day soon.

I think they like iced coffee too. I can tell because they're smiling and they have that mis- chievous look in their eyes. I'm pretty sure if they had been in possession of a banana, they would have dunked it in there a time or two. Good thing I was watching.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Half Full?

I have a tendency, like my mother, to be a "half empty" kind of person. Though I don't think I am entirely negative, I do tend to realize obstacles rather than solutions. I am working to change this. I really want to see life and all it's blessings in a positive light. Someday I hope to be a smiling old lady with a zest for life and purpose in my days. (I am in no way suggesting I have no zest or purpose, only that I need to work on being more zesty and purposeful.)

Today, in spite of my mother's objections, we coaxed her into the van and took off for the mall to do some shopping. I took her handicap tag along so she didn't have to walk across a sweltering parking lot to reach the air conditioned interior of the building. (I do have a heart after all!) I have to say that neither she nor I did much shopping. After stopping into the Ladies Room, she parked herself on a bench to wait and watch the people walk by. Bethany, Josh, and Hannah did some shopping. I did some sitting with Mom and a little bit of mall walking. This may not sound like a monumental accomplishment to any of you, but my mother has likely not seen the inside of a mall, or grocery store for that matter, in probably a good five years at least. She stopped going into stores years ago and left the task of shopping up to my dad who was quite willing to go alone.

So, today I did the "impossible," I took my mom to the mall. One small step for Martha, one giant leap for Mom.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Path Less Traveled

Sometimes the path before us is well worn and oft traveled. Other times it isn't...

I've wondered lately at why God picked me for this job. At one point in time I thought I could do it well. My friends and family would be amazed at the ease with which I did the job. I would never roll my eyes, speak harshly, or become impatient. I would serve without complaint, give gladly, and expect nothing in return... Perhaps God's reason for choosing me was that I needed a lesson in humility. Perhaps I was a bit too sure of myself and a bit too harsh on my son when he and Leta struggled with the task. Perhaps I had no clue and perhaps I still have little.

I have failed more times, I am afraid, than I have succeeded, but no one is more keenly aware of my failures than myself, especially when others are watching. I been frustrated, exhibited exasperation, and spoken impatiently, but I have also loved unconditionally, offered (or tried to offer) encouragement and reassurance, and kept a watchful eye and almost constant presence. I'm not expecting anyone to overlook my failures and shortcomings, excuse my wrongs, or relieve me of my role. What I need are the tools and support to help me succeed, even though, and especially because, I struggle.

My mother in law said she was worried about me, that I needed some time for myself without having to worry about Mom, and that we needed to ask for, possibly even demand, help on a regular basis. Maybe one weekend every month. Truthfully, I don't know how to go about that. I scarcely have time to keep the plates spinning much less plan for time away, but I do know I can be weary and sometimes worn threadbare. I also know there is no turning back.

Lavender in a Christmas Cup

The heat wave is making its arrival. The leaves on the trees rustle and the Weeping Birch branches sway in the breeze, but it is a hot south wind blowing. There will be no relaxing on the back porch today, the heat is stifling and the mercury continues to climb. The cool lake winds do not blow, our natural air conditioner has been switched off.

Just reading the temperature forecast makes my mother overheated. We are tempted to cut the weather section from the pages of her morning news. She doesn't appear to find relief when in an air conditioned building, nor does she realize that her oxygen supply remains constant while ours is severely affected by the humidity and ozone levels. I grant her the fact that it's uncomfortable, I'll forgive her for being tired, but I don't understand why she doesn't want to sit near a fan.

We've turned on our one small air conditioner in the bedroom window upstairs and put a fan in the doorway to blow the cooler air out into the hallway where it will hopefully flow downstairs. So far it seems to be helping, at least a little bit, but the hot wind outside continues to blow. This is not a "dry" heat. The dew point is near 70° and climbing, but I don't see any hope of rain and the relief it might bring.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ankle Art

We had the rare privilege of visiting with my nieces today. I picked them up at the school where my sister is the summer librarian and brought them back to my house for the morning. They disappeared upstairs with Hannah and came down about noon when we headed over to Rachel's for a swim in the pool.

When Alicia jumped into the pool she was sporting a fancy ladybug "tattoo" on her ankle complete with a curving ladybug trail. Hannah's gel pens had been put to good use earlier in the day as the girls practiced their drawing skills on each other's feet. Not only ladybugs, there were butterflies too!

I found this to be a pretty nifty idea. Cute and creative. I think I prefer this to the itchy face painting they do at kid's parties and carnivals. Maybe next time I'll have them put a smiling ladybug on my ankle too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A is for Angel

A is for Angel.

Located in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY.

To see the other participants in of ABC Wednesday Round 9, click here!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Goodbye, Grandma!

Our visit with Grandmanita came to an end yesterday when we took her to Fort Erie to stay with her friend, Gail. Of course, we couldn't go to Fort Erie without taking a drive around and stopping at all our "favorite" destinations. One popular stop, Teal Rd. and the no longer existent Teal farm. Bethany thought we needed another Teal Rd. photo, this time with people.

We took a walk back into the trees where the Teal house once stood. It was bulldozed years ago. There is nothing left, not even a foundation. Only a couple of large trees suggest something may have once stood in that location. It is possible someone years back had a garden full of garlic... We found lots of that.

We stopped at the Ridgeway Battlefield Museum... The building, moved there from another location, was once the home of Zacharias Teal. I'm beginning to doubt it is really even a museum any more. The sign has fallen off the front porch and the windows were long ago boarded up. There was a picnic going on in the pavilion behind. Grandma took a few photos of the old cabin and we left.

We stopped for lunch at the Summer Delight Rest- aurant, a little diner in Ridgeway, Ontario, where we had burgers or hotdogs and fries. It was a nice little place that I think I might look for again should I chance to go back that way anytime soon. (Yes, I did put vinegar on my fries.)

A drive through Ridgeway with Grandmanita wouldn't be complete without stopping at Crystal Beach. She was living there when I met James and for a year or two after we were married. We visited her often, but sadly never went to the park that once graced the shore. If you are a roller coaster buff, the Comet once thrilled riders where the condominiums now stand on the breakwater.

We found some more secluded beaches a little farther down the road where James and the kids put their feet in the water. The beach at Windmill Point is still our favorite. The beach is covered with shell fragments, which aren't so great on bare feet, but the rocks go out a nice distance into the water and it is a pretty little beach. Much different than what I am used to here at home.

After a quick stop at the Windmill Point Church cemetery, we headed for "Grandma" Gail's house. She took us all out to eat at the May Wah Chinese Restaurant. It is a great place to eat if you are ever in Fort Erie. We have been there with Gail several times through the years and have never been disappointed. Lemon Chicken was the favorite.

We started home late, climbed into bed at midnight, and wished morning wouldn't come so early. What a great "vacation" we had right here at home! We'll miss you, Mom!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Breakfast on the Back Porch

Potato Pancakes are a Grandmanita specialty. I think we have them at least once every visit. In fact, they are often requested and always readily devoured. Bethany came over early just to get a few. One never knows exactly what is in them, but they always taste yummy. (Actually, I do know some of what was in there, but I highly doubt I could duplicate them without help and I think they change slightly with each batch. More like, I know they do.)

It was a beautiful morning for breakfast on the back porch, so we took our plates outside to the picnic table loaded down with potato pancakes topped with sour cream and complimented with apple sauce, bacon, and bits of ham, coffee and orange juice on the side. Most of us went back for seconds and who could blame us? (Did I say I was trying to lose a few pounds? I suppose there is always tomorrow... )

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweet Sixteen (almost)

Hannah is almost sixteen. A birthday dinner was in order. Since Grandmanita will not be here come Monday, tonight was the celebration. We had a yummy supper; Charcoal Chicken, potato salad, green tossed salad, chuka soba, and watermelon. (Yes, the chicken is supposed to be black. That is why the brush sauce is called "charcoal.")

There were candles to make the back porch fancy and festive. Plain white votive candles dropped into shapely stemware made a plain table pretty. I didn't even use a tablecloth. Why have I never done this before? Now that I am a little bit wiser, I shall have to add this beautiful touch to future festivities. They would be so pretty at Christmas!

There was Canadian Contraband... (I wonder how that got here?) The chocolate eggs were readily devoured and nobody choked on the carefully concealed prizes inside. (Mine was a miniature "Lightening McQueen!" I was quite pleased as I usually end up with something less than impressive.) The "Cars" prizes were the best. There were several different vehicles including "Tow-Mater." He was pretty cool too.

Finally, there was dessert. Hannah is not a big cake fan, but for this party I decided to go for the cake. (She can have an entirely different dessert on Monday if she'd like.) Strawberry cake baked in flat bottomed ice cream cones with vanilla frosting and lots of sprinkles (I turned them over and dipped them), and sixteen candles. Everyone also got an ice cream sandwich. Easy cleanup and though we had both fancy plates and birthday napkins, we really didn't need them.

For the Birds

My mother likes birds. For years she and my father took great delight in coaxing them into their backyard by setting out different feeders. They had a covered screen porch where they spent many afternoons and evening watching their feathered friends visit the backyard feeders. She has a great field guide to help identify North American birds, but knows many of them on sight. I thought she might take an interest in them once again if I hung a feeder from my clothes pole where I had seen a goldfinch.

I bought a nice little feeder and filled it up with Niger seed. The result has been tremendous as far as attracting birds is concerned, but I think Mom is just as content to sit inside the house and read her Birds and Blooms magazine (or newspaper) as sit outside and watch the real thing in action.

I am happy to say that Grandmanita has taken an interest in the cheerful little creatures that flit around the clothes line, feeder, and lilac bush in the evening. We've noticed some other bird varieties, but they are not quite as friendly, and have thus far eluded the camera when we are close enough for a good photo.

Photos courtesy of Anita Teal Martinez.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Z is for Zucchini

Z is for zucchini. (Must have been raining, this one's awfully dirty!)

One thing I have learned about this popular summer squash is that one can never grow just he right amount. Either the blossom ends rot producing a very small crop or there are so many it feels as though they are coming out of your ears.

Zucchini, like its yellow squash cousin, is best consumed while small and tender. If the fruit grows too large, it gets tough and woody and is good for nothing more than an overgrown baseball bat. Medium sized squash, however, can be grated and baked into wonderful treats like Zucchini Bread or Zucchini Custard Pie.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Taste of Toes and Dropped Batons

I somehow keep finding my foot in my mouth and it doesn't seem to make much difference whether I actually say something or neglect to. With all the excitement and activity, I forgot, or should I say "everybody forgot," to call my Aunt Margie and tell her about the baby. She appeared rather hurt this evening when she found out three days past the grand event. Unfortunately, this is the second family happening she has been left out of in the past couple of weeks.

The "passing of the baton" has all kinds of repercussions as no one is absolutely certain exactly which baton they are holding. It seems I am responsible for several and I hardly knew how to juggle those I was holding just a few years back. I've dropped a baton or two lately and been conked in the head with a few others. (I'm not entirely sure who threw them...)

In spite of dropped batons and the taste of toes, I am having a wonderful time with my favorite mother in law. She brings an excitement and exuberance often lacking in our days and reminds me that growing older doesn't necessarily mean a rocking chair on the back porch and crossword puzzles. She is never without one of her cameras, continually capturing the world around her and those she loves. The house will be terribly quiet when she is gone next week.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Aubrey Rose

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:14

Baby... She finally has a name, Aubrey Rose. She is beautiful, she is tiny, she is loved.

Dave and Leta were at the hospital a little less than an hour when she made her arrival at 10:53 pm Friday night, July 8th. Three pushes and she was here, a whopping 5 pounds, 12 ounces, almost too easy...

We stand amazed once again.