Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Halfway to the Weekend

I mean to blog, really I do. Sometimes I even pull up a blank page and sit there staring at it, waiting for words to come... and then they don't. Sometimes I come home too tired to think and find myself falling asleep at suppertime and waking up when it's time to go to bed. I have a cold, another one, maybe that's why I'm tired. Or maybe it's because I gave up drinking coffee after work.

So, what can I tell you?

I could tell you that every time I go home, I look around the house and see pieces of me I left behind... I could tell you that sometimes my heart aches so bad... I could tell you if it were possible to wish this all away, I would... But I can't tell you why.

I found a puzzle in Hobby Lobby a week or so ago. It touched my heart, so I bought it and took it home. It's been slow going, but I'm putting it together a little at a time.  I'm almost halfway done now. It's just a puzzle, but the picture has me captivated because I know He's holding my hand too.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Barn Collective

Two dive-by captures from our drive through the winter countryside two weeks ago. It was an astoundingly gorgeous winter day, bitter cold and sunny.

These two barns in great shape and well maintained. Maybe on our next drive I'll find a tumble-down heap or two.

The Barn Collective meets here.

Pitching Dishes

Okay, so I was throwing pots. Isn't that the same thing? (These are from Thursday night's class.)

This afternoon went back to the Arts Center and took advantage of open studio. I practiced making cylinders again. This something I haven't done previous. I cheated and made bowls without doing cylinders.

Today though, I practiced. I didn't save the first four or five cylinders. They were twisted and so got tired and collapsed before I could turn them into anything functional.

When I had used up all my reclaimed studio clay in practice, and it was too wet to play with, I set it aside and took out a better lump of clay. When I had fashioned a decent sized cylinder (the one pictured here), I pulled it out into a bowl. Not too bad for a few hours work. The say "practice makes perfect," so I'm practicing and seeing the finished results improve. Maybe this time I'll have a few bowls worth giving as gifts, or at least be on my way there.

It's a small world, you know. I liked my instructor's Facebook page (here) and several days later another pottery page showed up as a suggestion in my newsfeed. Sometimes those ad like things get a little annoying, but I did a double-take this time. There on the page was the name of my oldest daughter's one time best friend and birthday buddy. Hannah had moved away years ago when she was just eight years old and we'd lost track of her completely, yet there she was on Facebook. We had no Facebook connections save my pottery teacher, who at one time had "liked" her page, partly because of the similarity to her own. (Isn't that cool?)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Name is Martha...

Sometimes CoDA meetings are eh... and sometimes I take a lot home. Random topics or readings drawn from the bottom of a box have been poured as disinfectant on infected sores or applied like a healing salve on tender wounds.

Words. The way we communicate says so much about us, and yet we pay so little attention to what we are saying... I'm learning. It's a slow, and sometimes agonizing process, but I'm gaining ground a step at a time. Just when I think my wheels are grinding to a halt, God throws a little grit on the road and I gain a bit of traction once again.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Barn Collective

I still want to sneak a peak inside... I'm rather chicken on my own. A friend along can drastically boost my confidence, but so far I haven't had the right friend along. I know which one she is, just haven't had the free time in the right weather.

I believe the old relic is an artifact of Schutt's Apple Mill directly across the street. They've obviously upgraded and no longer utilize this old and once upon a time cherished beauty. She's losing parts and pieces and will one day, not long from now, succumb to the elements like so many stately barns before her. Reminders of yesteryear, once childhood playgrounds and science labs, shelter from icy winds and stormy blasts, going the way of the world.

The photo was from last week when I stopped in the store looking for that French Vanilla Hot Cocoa I found back in November. It wasn't there, and neither was the Cookies and Cream flavored one. I gathered up a few others to try, Orange, Candy Cane, Hazelnut... They were all quite yummy, except for the Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate which had an odd and icky taste.

Did I tell you I'm taking a coffee break? Haven't had any in over a week now, thus the hot chocolate. Mostly I've been drinking tea, Lemon Ginger tea, without any caffeine. I'm sleeping better at night. Can't argue with that!

The Barn Collective and friends.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

It Was a Good Day

It was a good day. I slept in, did my laundry, and headed off to the pottery studio to play in the mud. I am using reclaimed studio clay, so my plan was to practice throwing cylinders because I always open the clay too soon and almost everything turns into short bowls.

My efforts were successful and my last cylinder turned into a very nice bowl, the biggest I've thrown. I decided to keep it. I was just wrapping it in plastic when the bat slipped. I looked under the plastic and one side of the bowl had totally collapsed. Oh, well. Into the reclaim bucket it went. Not a big deal. I'd had a good two hour practice session, made four decent cylinders, and turned each one of them into a vessel of one kind or another. (I saved the first three too...) Now I know I can make a decent sized bowl.

After open studio I called my ailing son (they have the flu or a stomach bug) to see if there was anything they needed. Baby wipes. So I stopped at the store for some baby wipes, and picked up some homemade chicken soup and a box of Lemon Ginger Tea too. The other grandma helped by taking the three year old (Number 7) to her house overnight.

On the way home I made my own grocery run and saw an old friend on my way into Aldi. At Wegmans I ran into a half dozen more. It took me an hour and a half to buy a package of napkins. Although I did pick up a few other items, the napkins are what initially brought me to Wegmans.

It was a no stress afternoon full of pottery and friends. Yup. It was a good day.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Learning to Fly

I am tired and emotionally fragile tonight. Part of the healing process is the pendulum of thoughts and emotions...

Working full time is a full time job. It's a good thing. It keeps me busy, gives me purpose, and provides an income. I couldn't have picked a better way to spend my days and I've settled in rather nicely. I snuggle the little ones, mostly the babies, but every once in a while I get a chance to love on the toddlers or preschoolers. You might say I'm a little attached, and I am blessed to be loved back, but I desperately miss my own kids and grandchildren.

Life is fluid. It flows from one stage to another to another, and we hardly realize until most of it is already behind us. I do not spend my days moping. I don't have time for that. I am choosing to love what is left of my life, to love those in it, and soak in all of God's blessings, which are many. In the midst of it all are times of tears. They well up unexpectedly, often triggered by songs or memories, and roll down my cheeks, smudging my mascara, leaving my eyes puffy, and my head a little achy.

I'm getting better, but it's a slow process. I've been working on my tendency toward indecisiveness, I'm trying to practice putting on my own oxygen mask before attempting to help others, and I have a plan to learn how to make and implement the best choices. God has not abandoned me, even if I sometimes feel alone, and somewhere he has a bottle where he keeps my tears. (Psalm 56:8)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside 
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same
There's a pink one and a green one 
And a blue one and a yellow one 
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky 
And they all look just the same

Pink, green, blue, and yellow... but there isn't much of a hillside here... unless you count snowbanks. Most of these houses don't have basements, except the blue one, and maybe the yellow one. Only the first houses built were blessed with basements, the rest are on slabs. There is so much rock and clay in the soil that the builders had to use dynamite in order to make a big enough hole in the ground. According to my mom, they gave up and instead added a foot or two to the living rooms of these little houses.

Some houses here have higher roof lines. In time the builders lowered the roofs to save on building costs. These are things most people probably don't notice. I only know because Mom told me. We were blessed, not with a basement, but with a taller attic, tall enough for a small bedroom. Dad built it for my brother Dan when he was about eight years old. Tucked up under the rafters, accessible by a fold-up attic stairway. Kind of like a tree fort.

It's much too late for me to be up typing, but it's hard to let this old habit go. I only wish I had more time to visit all of you my friends on your blogs. It's been such a grand adventure.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, Monday

My alarm went off on time. I did not hear it and so slept on. At 6:40 am I heard the door close downstairs as Sergio left for work. I had 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, dry my hair, and get to work on time. I almost made it, except a couple of trains, going opposite directions, decided to hold me up for several minutes. I clocked in at 7:32.

Hot dogs. I think they might be every daycare center cook's nightmare. They come in a bulk package of anywhere from 39 to 43. (I'm guessing...) I had 46 children to feed, more or less. Our three babies had leftover chicken and rice, and you might think I had exactly enough hot dogs, but the number of children in our rooms kept changing as children showed up (or didn't). First I didn't have enough hot dogs, then I had exactly what I needed, then I didn't have enough again, and in the end, there were two left over. I like lunches like goulash or Spanish rice.

Crazy. It started out crazy. And it promises to be a very busy week. During lunch my boss called me into her office. She had a serious look on her face... She said she had a paper for me to sign... And then she told me they were very happy with my performance in the kitchen, and with the babies, and they gave me a raise. I was so surprised I hardly knew what to say! 

(I was in such a rush this morning that I didn't even realize how cold it was until my car thermometer read 0 degrees. By the time I got to work it said -2!)

 * Photos from Saturday's chilly walk in the woods.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Surprise!

Weekends are for snowstorms and bitter cold temperatures. Or maybe that is winter in general. The temperature gauge in my van read 54 degree on my way to work yesterday morning. By the time I went home nine hours later, it was reading 34. As the rain continued to fall, the temperature continued to drop. By this morning we had about two feet of snow in the driveway. I had my reservations when I saw Sergio's snowblower last weekend, but it is doing the job and has earned its keep in just seven days.

The snow must have fallen all night long. Rarely have I seen so many vehicles literally buried in snow. While Sergio ran the snowblower, I took the shovel and cleaned the house and garage sides of my car. Soft, fluffy and light on top, heavy and slushy underneath. It's crazy to think that yesterday morning there was literally no snow in the driveway or yard, just dirty, leftover piles along the edge of the street.

People are commenting on the "crazy weather" we've been having, but this is exactly what I remember it being like when I was a little girl, and that held true all the way through my high school years. In fact, I've often found myself wondering why we so rarely get crazy snowstorms anymore.

I even took a walk around the corner and down to the woods this afternoon. (I'm reliving my childhood whenever possible...) I came home with snow up to my knees and finally took off the wet jeans and traded them in for flannel jammie pants. And then I shivered for what felt like hours. Ha ha! (I'm toasty warm now.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Double Checking

My mind has been on spoons today. Not all day, but here and there. I had to take another look this morning, just to make sure I hadn't made some silly mistake, but there it was. "CHOICE" just like I saw it yesterday. A piece of me desperately wants to buy a replacement spoon so I can take one home... (Do you think it would be weird to ask? Ha ha!)

Twenty-four. Twenty-four spoons with the word choice on the back, for no apparent reason. I looked at a few of the old spoons that matched, but not one said anything remotely similar. They said "Winco 0002-01" and "Windsor Medium Weight 18/0" maybe even "stainless steel," but nothing else even slightly curious. I guess you could say I'm a little astounded.

Tomorrow I start my next pottery class. I am hopeful to make great strides in the finished product. Maybe even something I'm proud to call "good."  Taking one class after another has to have some benefits, right?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Life is Weird

Spoons get scarce at work, especially when the afternoon snack is yogurt. Just imagine passing out snacks to 65 children and you'll be able to understand. Today we got two little boxes of new spoons. Twelve individually wrapped spoons in each box. I decided maybe they should go through the dishwasher before I pass them out for breakfast tomorrow. Do you know that on the back of each spoon the word "CHOICE" is engraved? It doesn't say choice on the box, and when I found them online it says nothing about choice...

I decided to try out a new support group at church tonight. One of the books they recommend reading is "Life's Healing Choices" by John Baker. ... Choices. I know I've kind of made myself super aware of the word, but this still feels a little uncanny.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Free to Chose

"Because of Calvary, I am free to choose." Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment

Well, Wanda, I had some time to kill before my CoDA meeting tonight, so I stopped in Barnes and Noble to look for a book. I chose the expensive one with a soft leather-like cover, and  "easy-to-read comfort-size print." And when the cashier mentioned something about a free cookie in the cafe, I decided to buy a small coffee and inquire on the offer. ("Buy one get one free," the barista said, and so I chose 2 oatmeal raisin cookies.)

It not so much about getting answers as making choices, and so I will practice choosing. (And quite honestly, I think God really is answering, even if He isn't answering in quite the way I'd expected.)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Glacial Slide

A glacier has formed upon the garage and is slowly sliding down like a curtain... We're taking bets on when it will fall but so far it's hanging on.

Sergio's snowblower arrived this morning. He had already shoveled the barrier at the end of the driveway, the one created by the snowplow, and then proceeded to clean up the rest of it. Idris had fun watching his daddy out the window.

I slept in this morning, since I couldn't have gotten out of the driveway n time for church. Thankfully, messages appear online and I was able to watch and listen this afternoon. Not the same as being there, but better than nothing at all.

I took my boy (he's 30 now...), to see a movie this evening. The Greatest Showman. Interesting movie. He said he liked it but he wasn't sure how much. Ha ha! It was thought provoking and we did something together. I find it difficult to keep up with all my kids, so it was nice to spend a little bit of time with him.

Back to work tomorrow. It feels like the weekend just started and it's over already. How disappointing...

The weather is forecast to warm up a bit. Perhaps some snowmen will pop up somewhere along the way. That would be cool.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Winter's Blast

It's been bitterly cold. I probably don't have to tell you that. You likely already know.

I got stuck in the driveway yesterday afternoon and we didn't bother trying to remedy the situation. It's just too cold out there and we had nowhere to go today. We stayed in, and the van stayed put. Zero with a windchill of who-knows-what is nothing to toy with. It's not in the street and tomorrow's temperatures are forecast to be more tolerable and so we will worry about it then. Looks like I won't make it to the 9 am service at church...

It was a lazy headachy kind of day. More of what plagued me last week, a regular weekend thing. I'm beginning to think it psychological, or maybe it's from being tired...  I kept waking up counting babies who would or wouldn't be at the daycare yesterday. This afternoon I took some Nyquil for the sinus pressure and conked out  on the couch. I woke up a few hours later feeling much better.

Since the windchill is below booger freezing, I only dared poke my camera out the windows today. Yup. It's cold out there.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


So... I've been looking for answers. I've prayed for answers, and sometimes God has given them, but I have a tendency to question His answers, which leaves me looking for answers all over again, and wondering why He doesn't answer... (Do you understand what I'm saying?) Perhaps I am pained at the answer. Quite honestly, He probably couldn't give an answer I like no matter what He said, and therein lies the real problem...

He asked what I needed again. I may or may not have said "answers" and the conversation turned to answers vs choices. Here I am, the ever indecisive, needing to make hard choices. Choices I don't want to make, but in life we are forced over and over again to look at the options before us and make choices. Even hard choices. Even choices we don't really like.

I've already made hard choices and followed through on them. Impossibly hard choices. That is why I am here in this little attic room. This year, if I want to move forward, there will be more choices. Some will be easy, and others will be hard. It is the hard choices that help us grow and make us strong.

I was looking for a word for this year. maybe it is "choices."

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

When Dreams are Really Memories

During the course of my life I've had a few recurring dreams. One of them begins at the top of a snowy wooded hill in the depths of winter. We pile onto a sled (or maybe it's just me) and fly over the snow and down the hill through the woods of pine trees in the dark of night. It's a long but smooth ride to the bottom (if there is one) with snow flying and the cold stinging my face. If I could compare it to something familiar, it might be a bit like the Polar Express roaring through the dark of night toward the North Pole.

I never knew why I dreamed this, or what might have inspired the adventure, until about a month ago. One of my mother's favorite cousins passed away in October. His son, a few years younger than me, shared some thoughts he and his youngest brother had written. In the midst of their memories was mention of a sledding run down the wooded hill on their property. Their memory clicked with me, and though these two brothers are younger, there had been a set of older brothers as well, brothers a few years older than me. Could it be that on a visit to their house my own older brother had taken me on a sled ride down the darkened hill through the pines one night? I believe that is exactly what happened. The dream wasn't just a made up story from my imagination, but a vague and all but forgotten childhood memory.

No photos of the actual place, just a few of my own kids on a local sledding hill. Look at 'em go!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Hello 2018

The first day of 2018 has come and is almost gone. I pray this year brings the answers I've so desperately been seeking the past two and a half years. I know God hears my prayers, and there are times when He has answered in astonishingly clear ways, and other times when He leaves me waiting.. or perhaps second guessing His answers.

The Cabinetmaker and I have been living in separate residences for five months now. We are not enemies... perhaps we are friends, or perhaps we are working toward becoming friends... It can be hard to tell as I sort through the many mixed emotions that come with our situation. We have been plodding through dark forests and trudging slowly up this mountain for what seems a very long and exhausting amount of time. I've been told slow is the preferred speed... Moving forward so slowly feels painful, but racing blindly without a clear destination would be disastrous, so slowly on we go.

I spent some time doing a puzzle with my sister this afternoon before driving out to the house for a bowl of soup and a game of Scrabble with The Man. I won, which is highly unusual (and due to the luck of placing a letter "z" on a triple letter tile and getting 60 points for writing "za" in two different directions). I don't win any more often than once every four or five years, so it won't be likely to happen again any time soon. ha ha!

Back to work and the babies tomorrow.

(Pictures are from yesterday's drive to see my brother.)