Friday, August 31, 2018

Today's News

* Yesterday's truck, the one that didn't arrive at the daycare to replenish our food supply, was actually rescheduled,by the owner's wife, to arrive next week. It will all work out fine. Ground meat, for goulash, and bread for sandwiches, will be purchased at the store, but otherwise we will be fine. Milk and produce come on separate trucks.

* Our brother. We have good news today, at least for now. His move to the other home has been put on hold pending another evaluation by physical therapy. Our prayer now is that he is walking as well during that appointment as he was with Rachel yesterday. I am grateful for my sister Rachel and his advocate Meghan. They are fighting for him.

* And then there is the roof... The back porch is gone and the back portion of the roof has been stripped to the plywood. I was a t work all day and am incredibly grateful to all who helped! The dormer window that Dad installed over 50 years ago has been removed and the hole made bigger and wider. Tomorrow it will be framed out and sometime in early October, when it arrives, the new window will be installed.

I thought the dismantling of Dad's back porch would be harder, but I am remembering that a back porch my dad built is not the same as my dad. He isn't the things he built or owned. He was and is so very much more than things.
It is okay to feel a little sad, but I don't have to grieve.  In fact, I am relieved because I know the porch was just a future maintenance nightmare, one I wouldn't want to face. I am actually feeling pretty good about this whole project, even if they did snip a wire and cut out the power to everything but the kitchen. Hey, what better room to still have electric? Everything is back on now and we're ready for tomorrow.
(One of our helper grandsons.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Chunks and Hunks

As opposed to bits and pieces...

* The food truck didn't come. We were supposed to get a huge order of supplies today, but the truck never showed up. No bread for sandwiches tomorrow. No giant cans of vegetables. (The kids will be so sad if they don't get their veggies. Ha ha)!) I talked to my boss at the end of the day. It was so busy that we never thought about the truck until the day was practically over. We are not out of food and the children won't go hungry. They just won't be eating chicken salad sandwiches.

* Our brother. This is a frustrating story. The state is looking to move him out of his present home, the one he moved into over 20 years ago. The new home is 45 minutes to an hour away from where he lives now. It is about 15 minutes closer for us, but we feel it is a very bad placement for him. We have expressed our views, but fear he will be moved in spite of our concerns. They say it is in his best interest as he is at risk for falls. He has recently been diagnosed with "a drug induced form of Parkinsonism" (I wonder how that could have happened...) but has been walking fine as far as we can tell.  The new home's residents are non ambulatory and what my sister has referred to as vegetative. Tim walks and is interactive. Prayers on his behalf are greatly appreciated. (I hope Priscilla will forgive my posting a picture taken just a couple weeks ago. .)

* Tomorrow begins the roof replacement. It leaks and it has to be done. Thankfully, this is a rather small house. James has agreed to do the job, but being Labor Day weekend, he is short of help. We have just one local son available to help, and perhaps a son in law or two, although maybe not.. Rounding up the family hasn't been easy the past year and a holiday/long weekend isn't helping. I know God will take care of it, but we are feeling overwhelmed and in need of a miracle.Prayers are appreciated.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What's For Lunch?

Summer is winding down and so is the food supply at the daycare. Oh, we have plenty to eat, just not always exactly what is on the menu...

Monday was Mexican Chicken and Rice. That's what they ate. Never mind that they had the exact same thing on Friday when it was supposed to be Spanish Rice. Difference? Ground meat vs chopped chicken. They ate and were happy.

Tuesday was hot dog day. Or it was supposed to be. I counted the rolls on Monday afternoon and informed the powers that be we needed four more packages of rolls. The rolls showed up on Tuesday morning, but when I looked in the freezer for the hot dogs? Alas there were none! We had Wednesday's Macaroni and Cheese instead. The kids were happy and gobbled it all up!!!

Today was Wednesday. The hot dogs arrived in time for lunch, but the graham crackers listed for snack were missing in action. I had time and I had bananas. I whipped up a couple pans of banana bread and the kids were smiling when snack time rolled around.

The food truck comes tomorrow. Well, one of them, the one that brings canned goods, cereal, and crackers. When the older kids head back to school we'll get the menu back on track. Just another couple days...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Happy 84 in Heaven

Dear Mom,

Today was your birthday. I've been reflecting on your life, feeling a little sad about the ways we never connected, but blessed by the times and ways we did. It was as much my inability to scale the wall between us as it was yours, maybe mine even more so. Being I am a mom myself, I know you loved me through all of it even as your heart was aching. I hope you can forgive me for all the times I made you cry...

People say as we grow older we become more and more like our parents. I haven't always liked the idea, but that is only because I've often failed to see your beauty. I needed to back up a few paces and gaze upon a bigger picture, one with a clearer focus and better perspective. I've need to look at you from a different vantage point.

For years and years I watched you love people; big ones and little ones, those who belonged to you and those who didn't, the very young and the very old. You loved them all. Tomorrow I will enter classrooms full of children, I will gather toddlers into my arms and kiss their cheeks and foreheads. I will sniffle small ears and blow raspberries on little necks, and I will feel your presence with me. It's a funny thing to go about my day and feel as though you are literally living on inside of me.

Thank you, Mom. Thank you for loving me when I didn't feel or act lovable. Thank you for praying for me, and thank you for being with me every day. Turning into you is a blessing.


The Barn Collective

I pass this old beauty every day on my way to work. Wild grape vines slowly consume abandoned buildings. What starts out appearing subtle and harmless, eventually results in total demise...

It works that way in life too. Little habits creep in barely noticed., intending to take us down. It's important to keep the weeds down and prevent trees from getting established too close to the foundation. We all need to create boundaries. They keep us safe.

Of course, boundaries really start within. The roof must be kept sealed so the water can't get in, a good coat of paint will prevent the exterior from rotting, and a good pair of clippers will keep the weeds from taking over.

Where am I going with all this? Be safe, establish good habits, and and don't let anyone else take you down.

It's not raining yet. Come on over to Tom's while the sun's still shining.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hop. Skip, Jump!

It's been a good week. I was feeling tired this afternoon when I suddenly realized that tomorrow is Friday! No wonder I'm tired. The week has flown by and I hardly noticed.

Hannah called me at work this afternoon wondering if I might care to keep an eye on a small child for the evening. Someone was hoping to get away for a bite to eat and a baseball game tonight. Of course I said yes. There are a few perks to having Mom living in one's home. Now that I'm no longer feeling  burned out and totally overwhelmed, I can function as Built-In Babysitter.

After he'd finished his pasta, and scarfed down a couple of Grandma's little cookies, Number Nine and I decided to take a walk around the block. Along the way there were storm sewers to peer into, leaves to collect, and bits of sand collected in the gutters that needed to be swished around. He walked, ran, hopped, skipped, and jumped. He walked holding my hand, alone on the gutter, and in the grass along the edge of the neighbors' yards. We saw trucks, cars, and Jeeps, a few "friends", and a barking dog or two.

When we arrived back home the were a couple of fuzzy seeds floating through the air. They needed to be chased and caught. Great Grandpa's rocks (the ones at the end of the driveway) needed to be stood on and jumped off, and there was Grandma's car that needed to be circled several times. He rubbed one hand on the side of it as he walked around and around. We played hide and seek around the car too and he can run fast! Finally, we went inside to wash his car blackened hand and find his toothbrush. There was a diaper change and the donning of jammies, we read several books, said a prayer, and I gave him a kiss or two. He turned on his own fan and the sound machine, then I helped him into his crib, covered him up, and put all his stuffed animals around him.

I hadn't been out of the room too long when he started to howl. I couldn't decide whether he was mad, hurt, or frightened... but when I heard him say "wah wah" I decided maybe he needed a drink. I turned on the hall light and opened the door. I gave him his cup, and in Number Nine fashion, he stopped crying, pointed, and very calmly said "Car." Yes, there it was on the floor, along with everything else that had been in the crib with him when I'd turned out the light and closed the door earlier. He was happy to have his water cup, his blanket, the car, and all his stuffed animals back in the crib, and this time when I said good night and closed the door there was no screaming or crying.

It was a good night. :0)

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Truth Is

The truth is that some mornings I wake up and want nothing more than to find myself at home, back in the days before the world I knew broke into a million pieces. I want to wake up in my room, in my own bed. I want to shower in my own bathroom, make breakfast in that beautiful kitchen, and sit out on the back porch while humming birds buzz and barn swallows fly like jet fighters in and out of the barn windows... I want lazy mornings, carefree afternoons, and evening walks through the orchard. 

Is it really my unwillingness to forgive that keeps me here? I've asked God hundreds of time to tell me what to do. It isn't that He has been totally silent... He did tell me to go last year, and He did cancel that appointment last Tuesday morning...  If I am honest, what I really want from God is something I can't have, something that would keep our hearts from breaking, but keep us from growing and learning to trust Him more as well.

The last few years have brought torrents of tears, leaps of faith, and more questions than answers. I don't know where God is taking me... or where He is taking us... but as difficult and painful a journey as it has been thus far, I hope the view at the end is breathtaking. (Is that selfish?)  It is my sincere prayer, that when the journey is done I will find all of my family there. I don't know how God will do it. I don't know how He can take all these broken shards and make them into something beautiful again? It might take a very long time...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

He Knows Our Hearts

I have to keep telling myself that God knows all about me, those I love, and what is going on in our lives. If He is listening when I tell my daughter I want a Speedy Gonzales glass, and gives me one two days later, then He knows all about our deepest pains and heartaches. So why do I keep doubting and questioning? ...

Yesterday morning I met with a former neighbor. Outside of Facebook we've never talked. He is a few years older than me and moved away when I was just starting school. He remembers my parents and my brothers. I remember his mom who was a friend of my mother, and his youngest brother who was two years older than me.

From my upstairs bedroom I can see Don's childhood home. The current neighbors have lived there since his family moved away in the early 70's. Their children grew up here too in this once upon a time close-knit and sometimes catty little neighborhood. I can still walk around the block and recall which neighbors lived in most of the houses, see the long ago faces of the kids who once lived here, and if I listen hard I can hear the voices of children long grown up, playing in the streets and yards.

Today the neighborhood is quiet. Here and there someone is out walking a dog or working in their yard, but most of the outside sounds are passing traffic, lawn mowers, or birds chirping. Many homes are occupied by senior citizens. Some of them raised their children here and stayed for the long haul, like my parents did, or they grew up here themselves. Today's children appear mostly nonexistent, and when they do come out of hiding, it is more unusual than the norm of yesteryear.

I'm feeling nostalgic. Can you tell?

The Barn Collective

It's not so much the barn that catches the eye as the silo in an evening gown.

 We were out for a ride this afternoon; three sisters with our big brother. He isn't a fan of our cameras. Maybe it's because he doesn't like photos, but I think the real reason is he doesn't like stopping along the way, especially when there is a Frosty waiting for him at the end.

This silo is literally wrapped in a tree hug. And here I thought "Tree Hugger" referred to people...

Make sure to stop by Tom's. I hear there's going to be a "Barn Dance".

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Be Anxious for Nothing

I slept in today until 7:30 am! Ya-hooooo!

Throughout the summer my daily work routine has included opening the four year old classroom. They are a trip. One small child, upon entering the room, announced it was "Happy Hannah Day!" This was reiterated several times during the course of the day. She is generally happy, if things go her way (ha ha!), but can be reduced to a puddle of tears when hurt or disappointed. Perhaps "Happy Hannah Day!" is her mother's way of reinforcing a good attitude. I think I like the idea.

I am feeling slightly tense and edgy. (Perhaps I need to declare this "Happy Martha Day!") It's been raining for days and the roof is somewhat unreliable. The water has leaked in here and there, never in a torrent, but dripping unexpectedly. I took out a loan for a new roof. That is just one of my stresses. It has to be done,  but I still feel anxious sometimes.

Finances are getting unpredictable. I've had to pick up my own health coverage and I'll be checking out car insurance soon too. These, along with financing a new roof, are fighting for space in my mind which they don't need to occupy. People say, "Where God guides, He provides." I'm holding on to that. He's never let me down yet.

I'm meeting an old "friend" for coffee after my appointment this morning, and then maybe I'll do some clay therapy. It's not a good day to visit fields of sunflowers. Too wet and soggy.

(That is Naughty Too. I like him.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Rainy Day

I want to write, but I am tired and my thoughts are jumbled.

It was dark and deliciously dreary when my alarm went off this morning. I considered pulling the covers up to my ears and closing my eyes, but that was not an option, so I dragged myself out of bed and downstairs to the shower.

On my way out to the car I dropped my naked waffles in the driveway. There was no time to go back for more, so I plucked them from the pavement and popped them in the car. I made it all the way to the street at the bottom of the driveway before realizing I'd forgotten the two gallons of milk I'd bought for the daycare breakfast. I went back inside and retrieved them before setting out again.

It was sprinkling when I left Webster, but I drove into a torrential downpour midway to work. At one point I considered pulling over, but that would have rendered me late, so I kept driving, through puddles and pouring rain. Upon my arrival, I found my umbrella AWOL and so I was drenched by the deluge as I made my way across the parking lot. I arrived safe but dripping. (That silly umbrella was hiding in my glove compartment the entire time.)

I eventually dried out and it was a good day. As usual the little ones made sure I felt loved. Garrett sat on my lap while the four year old class watched an afternoon movie in lieu of playground time. When he got up, Hannah plopped herself down. She told me she loves hugs and that I'm her "best friend". "I love you most," she smiled. Nothing fills an empty heart quite like the love of a child... or two... or three. Ha ha!

(No photos allowed so I have to draw the kiddos instead)

Monday, August 13, 2018

A God With Ears

Last week I wished God would speak to me out of the clouds in a loud and unmistakable voice. I wanted an answer to one question in particular. I shot up a desperate prayer, not really expecting an answer. At least not one I could hear clearly... But God works in mysterious ways. He answers when we least expect Him to, and very often in ways so obvious that it is harder to doubt than to believe.

Life is full of struggles and we are in the midst of one. For the past three years I've repeatedly asked God for answers. I have doubted His answers, argued His answers, and been confused by His answers. I've found that God's answers can take me by surprise, and also found that often they don't make any sense to me. Why would He ask me to do something that seems so opposed to what I might have expected? What is He attempting to accomplish? I have to admit I often don't have a clue.

I'm trying to obey, but not in a blind kind of way that does what is expected simply because it's just that. I'm here in this attic bedroom not because I'm running, but because I'm trying to do what He says. I understand it confuses some people, and I guess that has to be okay for now. God is writing "Martha's Story". He has a reason for all I am going through. I only need to trust Him... and that's hard.

So yeah. Last week I tossed an anguished prayer heavenward. I said something like, "If you don't want this meeting to happen, could you stop it? Maybe make it so that I can't leave work for those few hours?" Today one of our assistant teachers came into work, walked into the director's office, said,"I quit!" and walked out again. That leaves us with growing numbers of children (We had 59 for lunch today, the most all summer.) and short staffed. When I asked my boss if I was still covered for tomorrow's meeting she gave me a blank stare. I took the whole fiasco as the answer to last week's prayer and told her not to worry about it.

I feel okay right now. It doesn't mean the struggles are over, but it does give me peace about where I am today. Mostly I am in awe of His ability to answer my pleas in such an incredible way. He hears my cries and for that alone I am blessed.

August Picnic

The Cabinet Maker decided to have a gathering. His garden is lush, growing, and prolific. He's been roasting peppers and picking tomatoes, and he wanted to share. We used to have gatherings like this, but it's been a long time.

There was chicken on the grill. Special chicken, marinated Puerto Rico style by a friend who ended up having to work. There is nothing in the world quite like Filipe's chicken. We had fruit, and beans, and potato salad, and corn, and salsa... So much yummy stuff!

The kids ran wild and I didn't have to worry about it. I've even given up (mostly) trying to keep track of toys that get dragged out of the house and into the yard.

Five of our seven were present, seven of our ten grand- children, along with significant others and several friends. It was a good day. I tried not to be a nuisance with my camera, but you know I can't just not take pictures.

It was a good day. I will admit that I was a little concerned for a bit, but everything turned out very nice. I even brought home a bag of fruit salad for lunch this afternoon. Oh yeah! So yummy!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Barn Collective

Yesterday morning's excursion took us to a farm, and where there are farms, there are bound to be barns.

Frederick Farms is just south of I-90 in Clifton Springs, NY. I haven't researched their history, but some of the buildings there are unique. Maybe someone out there knows what kind of place this was in the early 1900's... I haven't a clue but I still find it fascinating.

The farm offers hay rides through the sunflower field in the evening.

 Little out- buildings. The traffic is on I-90  directly behind the property.

 Holding the doors in place, I'm guessing. On a windy day, which it wasn't, those things can really get flapping.

We stopped to visit the goats and cows before leaving. (I like cows.) This one licked my shoulder while I was trying to take our picture.

Stop by Tom's and visit some more barns. I think he's having a cookout.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sunflower Morning

Saturday. And sunny. We left the house relatively early, headed for Clifton Springs and a giant field of sunflowers, all smiling.

Of all the flowers on the planet, sunflowers are the happiest!

Thursday, August 09, 2018


Yesterday morning was warm with patches of fog. I followed my friend Tahnya halfway to work, but lost track of her when I stopped to take a few pictures of an old barn. It was a beautiful morning, perfect for sitting out on the back steps with a cup of coffee... except I was drinking tea on my way to work instead. I believe in drinking deeply the unique beauty of each day.

Yesterday I was the lucky recipient of the "You get to go home early today award." I fed the children, cleaned up the mess, set out the afternoon snack, and rather than going on lunch, I headed home. My eyes were achy, presumably from the previous evening's torrent of tears. When two hours later they were still hurting, I realized I was dealing with a caffeine headache (was that coffee really half decaf?). I took some Excedrin and
 a short nap, before going to an afternoon meeting. Thankfully the headache subsided and I took in a little clay therapy in the evening. The studio was mostly quiet and that was good.

Life is still hard. No details, just another plea for prayer. God will know what to do.

And thanks.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Too Late

It's too late to blog. I need to sleep so I can get up and go to work in the morning, but here I am.

I tried navigating the NY State Health Insurance site, but there are questions I don't know how to answer. Ain't that always the way? Insurance, for all the what if's in life... Years ago people either died or didn't. And then they did anyway. (Did I tell you it's too late to blog?)

I found a sign on sale and thought it fit right in with my fluted bowls. I may not be baking pies these days, but I'm still fluting edges here and there. Just bought another 50 pounds of clay... I wonder what it will become?

And now I must lay down, hand my restless thoughts over to the One Who Cares for Me, close my eyes, and try to sleep.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Sunshiney (mostly) Day!

It was a good day. The sun was shining when I got up, there was a little bird chattering on top of my window, and I had time to relax before heading off to my morning counseling appointment.

Today my sister Rachel and I went to the city of Rochester's Park Avenue Festival. After driving in circles for 20 minutes just looking for a parking spot, we decided to fork out some money and pay for parking. $10. Ugh. But we split it between the two of us and didn't have to walk any farther than a block and we were there. (Edit- We parked on the front lawn of Francis Parker School Number 23. What a great school fundraiser!)

It was a beautiful day for a festival! (Haley, second cousin to my kids, is the owner of a brand new Bakery Bar on Park Avenue. She is on the far right, boyfriend in the middle, and his sister on the left.)

We met some super heroes...

There were tons of people and we only got caught in one ten minute downpour. Ha ha!

We saw unexpected friends, collected hugs, and took in the sights.

When we were done traipsing about, we headed back to Webster and split a burrito at Moe's.

Yup. It was a good day, even if I do look a bit bedraggled.