Wednesday, October 31, 2007
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words....
We've lived on this street for eleven years. Every single year driving this stretch of road is like a gift. As I leave our home, and head out to the busy street at the bottom of the hill, this row of trees is showing off gorgeous shades of red and yellow and orange. As their leaves begin to drop and cover the street, I'm just awed by the beauty of it. I've often wondered if God, in his graciousness, gives us one last blast of color before everything goes bare, takes some time to rest. It also reminds me of God's constancy - His promise that the seaons won't fail. Winter will come, spring, summer will stretch on, then again, Fall with a repeat of this glorious show. I will miss this view someday when we move away. I've etched it in my memory to conjure up the first time fall comes around, and I'm not here to see it.

Little mini-leaves that cover our lawn. When the wind blows and these little yellow leaves dance through the air, it takes my breath away. I say 'leave them there on the lawn, to enjoy awhile - they're little!' Hubby begs to differ, and they generally don't stay more than a few days.

On a different note, a new trick I taught Landon. He makes lovely raspberry noises to go along with it. His mother is oh so pleased that I was able to teach him this in one five minute lesson. Think of all those yucky green veggies he's going to face, and need just this action. Or maybe first thoughts of holding hands and kissing girls someday!

The big boy is standing alone, and when he pushes the tummy of this Leap Pad frog, it plays the alphabet. Landon begins to dance back and forth, up and down, and I can see him getting his balance. It won't be long til he's cruisin' all over the place. Notice the big-boy haircut, his first, last week after someone mistook him for a very husky girl! That sent him straight to the barber.


  posted at 11:15 PM

Monday, October 29, 2007
Fall Giveaway - Learn to Knit
I wasn't going to do this; I told myself I didn't have time to do this because I don't, and when I saw my sister, Barb, over at A Chelsea Morning with her post, I realized I'd completely forgotten about it, because I've been a little covered up with other things since returning from Texas, little things like groceries, bills, laundry, blah blah blah.

Then I started thinking about it and just felt bad, but girls, I didn't have anything to give away unless you'd like a load of laundry and I'm happy to give you a choice of darks or whites, or maybe some bundled up pet fur - we have that in abundance around here.

So I decided to go wild and buy something to give away, and of course realized that would have to be the kit I just bought myself. It's called "I Taught Myself Knitting" which is a bald-faced lie, since I could never have learned it without my daughter, Sarah being just a teensy bit pushy to make me keep trying when I everything in me wanted to have a hissy fit and quit. So that's what I'm giving away. If I can find one at Michaels in the next few days. Mine looked like this:

So I'm not promising the winner's will look exactly like this, but I'll give it my best shot. If it doesn't I'll make sure it's very comparable. It will not have yarn in it, but the yarn I'm using to make my first scarf costs $1.49 a skein and I bought two of them. I'll let the winner decide what yarn she'd like to start with.

So I'll keep this up however long Shannon told us to (don't know that right now), and will use the random number thingy to pick a winner when I'm supposed to, and of course, if you enter please leave me information so I can contact you if you win.

Update - my scarf is now 6" long, and I've only ripped it out four times. If you're feeling real patient, enter away!

Labels: ,

  posted at 4:31 PM

Friday, October 26, 2007
Chicken Little and Knitting
Sorry to be a Chicken Little! It's not THREE weeks til Thanksgiving, which I obviously gave the impression of. It's FOUR weeks (minus a day). In my previous post I said we were flying back to Texas in three weeks, and we are. We're flying in a week ahead to spend time with the kids who we thought we would be missing, before my rush to Texas trip where we were under each others feet for ten days, but we're still going anyway because we're family and it's okay to drive each other a little crazy, especially around the holidays, right? We're also going to spend some time with a realtor checking out the area we want to retire at. And the tickets were much cheaper flying in a week early and staying afterwards, because of course that defies the whole 'flying in for the holiday' thing when you go for ten days to celebrate one. So, sorry about that - the sky is not falling and you all have a good 3.9 weeks left to get that turkey bought, frozen, then thawed in the bathtub.

Second on the agenda that I didn't think I'd have - knitting. I seriously considered posting more about this new thing I've fallen head over heels in love with, but this isn't a knitting blog - I've never been able to gather my thoughts so much as to come up with a theme, but if I did knitting wouldn't be it. I didn't want to bore any of you out there who could care less about yarn and fabric and sewing machines, blah blah blah. So I was surprised to get some emails asking me how to get started knitting. Surprised since I'm as brand new as you can get. I've been a knitter FOR A WEEK. That's SEVEN DAYS. So you must be desperate to ask me! Seriously, I wouldn't ask me.

But being unqualified has never stopped me from anything before, so I'll give it a shot. Most of you wanted to know how I got started, all of seven days ago. So I'll share with you what I have, and maybe when Sarah gets bored, she can chime in and give her two cents worth, since she can actually knit things beyond a funny looking scarf that is five inches long, which is my current level of ability and experience.

First, Sarah sat and oh so patiently taught me. She showed me. She'd show me how to hold my hands, then when I couldn't, she'd take the yarn, hold it, then hand it back. She did that over and over. When I got frustrated she wouldn't let me quit trying. I'd say, "I can't." She'd say, "Yes you can." So I'd say if you can find a living breathing person to show you, that's great. Sarah taught me the Continental style, there are two, and Continental is supposed to be much easier to learn, easier to do for longer years in your life, easier on arthritic hands, easier to tolerate in tight spaces like airplane seats, etc. It's easier on your neck, back, etc. But there is a different version, so you have to start with deciding which method to learn. If you have a breathing human teach you, you will learn the way they do it, then you have to decide if you want to switch or not.

Second, as soon as I'd get one thing barely figured out, she'd push me to do the next step. I had one week to learn, and didn't want to forget as soon as I got back home, so she just kept nudging me along. After a week I can cast on, knit, purl, yarn over, sort of decrease and increase, and sort of bind off and read a pattern enough to know if it's doable or too hard. Not bad for a week. Most books teach you to cast on and then knit, the garter stitch it's called when that's all there is, and you begin to do a project. You may want to do the non-rushed method. You can make a lot of cute things with that one stitch. I started with a project that uses both stitches so I won't forget them now that my personal knitting coach is 1200 miles away.

Third, I bought the knitting kit at Hobby Lobby for something like $15, and it had everything I needed to get started except yarn, and a crochet hook to fix mistakes. Pray against those. When they happen anyway, you will need a crochet hook. I already had that.

Fourth, I ordered several books, okay more than several. I'm a book kind of girl. I love them more than shoes or purses or jewelry, so I ordered about six. Sarah suggested most of them, not that I buy them all, but she suggested them, told me they were clear, easy to follow, etc. Here's the several I'd recommend and I found all of mine on Amazon:

How to Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course Complete with Step-by-Step Techniques, Stitch Library, and Projects for Your Home and Family by Debbie Bliss; Hardcover; $5.74 (Amazon price!)

"The Knitting Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask"Margaret Radcliffe; Paperback; $10.17 (Amazon price!)

1 of: 1-2-3 Knit: Beginner's Guide (Leisure Arts #4337) [Paperback] by Better Homes and Gardens. (Don't remember exact price but something like $5.00 at Amazon.)

The first one listed, I ordered Sarah a copy too and hers arrived today. She said it's fabulous. It's like a course in knitting, literally takes you through projects and teaches you as you go. The projects increase in difficulty as you build skills. Mine has not arrived yet, but Zeke the mailman should start ringing the bell next week! Oh the anticipation!

The second one is fabulous - a must have. This one is specifically for those questions you will have. A small pretty lime green book. I would buy it just because it's so cute. This one will stay in my knitting bag that I now of course have.

The third one does not show the Continental style, but if I ignore the hand positions it should still be good. Some books show hand position, some just needle and yarn position. Just be careful after you choose your knitting style to see what the book you're following is teaching, or you could pull your hair out. Or curse. Or both.

Then I Tivo'd Knitty Gritty, a show Sarah told me about. It's on daily, 30 minutes long on DIY and she has yet to take a class outside her home, but rather watches this and said she has picked up great tips on it. I haven't yet told my husband that I told the Tivo to record every single showing. He's going to love that!

Next to last, (can you believe there are this many steps in just a week of experience?!) you can go to many websites and watch their videos, there are umpteen knitting blogs to follow also. Here are a few Sarah told me about ( knitting blog with great sidebar - I found this one,there are many others!)

Last, I visited the local yarn shop today. They have beginning knitting classes two hours long for $25 and the ratio is no more than 6 students to one teacher. She said they usually have 3-4, and I'm taking one next week. I cannot wait. They have open knitting one night a week and I plan to sit in on those here and there. I imagine I'll learn a lot just watching other knitters.

So pretty much gone are the days when you sat at your grandmother's knee and learned to knit. That doesn't mean an old dog can't learn new tricks, and I plan to do just that. I've already seen that it's the perfect pasttime - I knitted on the plane, waiting for my connection, last night during the World Series, and today at the hospital where my husband was having a procedure done. I've heard that women who've knitted for years can sit in the dark and knit during a movie - apparently your fingers actually begin to memorize the motions.

But girls, I've been a knitter for SEVEN DAYS, so I'm not quite there yet. And I'm also not willing to give up that saturated fat soaked popcorn either. I don't love it that much yet! It's lights on knitting for me at this point.

I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but knitting seems to me to be the perfect one, seriously. It's not expensive unless you want it to be, it's oh so portable, you can keep it simple or make it more complicated, and it's bound to be a great place to meet nice ladies when we move from here in less than two years. By then, I should be a bit more skilled. If I'm not, it won't be for lack of enthusiasm on my part. I rarely lack enthusiasm for anything. Sarah did correct me when I said I was a lousy knitter. She told me I am a novice knitter - that sounds so much nicer, don't you think?

And again, repeat after me - "Thanksgiving is 3.9 weeks away." You have time to learn to knit between now and then. Think of all the red scarves you can make for Christmas gifts!


  posted at 5:42 PM

Thursday, October 25, 2007
It Wasn't All Pretty But....
There's no place like home, there's no place like home! Do you hear those red glittery shoes tapping together? I feel just like Dorothy, sans Toto and the blue gingham dress. I went, I stayed, I returned, and we all still love each other. That in itself is amazing. You know the fish and relatives saying and we did that triple times. The only thing that stunk was my tennis shoes, apparently. Can I tell you how thankful I am to have a son-in-law that can not only stand me for nine days, after that he still hugged me goodbye and told me he loved me at the airport, after he totally busted his tail getting me there!

You can go HERE to read Sarah's take about our last 24 hours or so of togetherness. By this time tomorrow reality will have set back in, but for now it feels fabulous to sit here in my family room, sipping a glass of wine, watching the World Series (Yeah Rockies!) looking across the room and see my sweet husband who after 26 years of marriage missed me terribly and knitting my $100 scarf. The cat is traumatized a bit, the dogs are acting like they need a dose of Ritalin, the house is furry since hubby was out of town as much as he was home, the milk is likely rotten, lalalalalla I can't hear you for the fingers stuck in my ears.

Driving home from the airport I caught a glimpse of the trees, in full fall splendor, before the sun set. Glorious! Just like something off a calendar, I'm so thankful I didn't miss it. We almost hit a deer on the drive home, and even that was nice, to see them again.

One of us has a colonoscopy tomorrow (thank God it's not me!) and then we have a hot date, hot because of the spicy food and a pitcher of margaritas, scheduled for tomorrow night to celebrate both of us having that behind us (I love that pun!). So I'll be back in a jif, soon as I defur the house, buy some groceries, pay any bills that are screaming to cut off utilities, and catch up on my real life a bit. There were so many funny stories I didn't share with you, and they're forthcoming! Like Sarah said, we all need to laugh a bit more, and I'm fine with being the butt of a joke, long as it has nothing to do with me having another colonoscopy! Right now I'm just feeling completely content to be here, where I belong, and praying that little family I do so love will get along fine, now that hopefully the worst is behind them too.

We're back there in three weeks, for another ten days, but we won't think about that right now. One day at a time - or manna for today - that's the deal. By then, we'll likely be all about spending time with our sweet family, over a big Turkey dinner, seeing the Texas version of Fall, and taking another look at our proposed retirement spot. Thanks to everyone who prayed for us during my stay, and I'll be fine, but Chris, Sarah and the munchkins, they could likely still use some prayer - they're not quite finished with this latest bit of craziness.


  posted at 8:54 PM

Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Knit 1, Purl 2
This time tomorrow evening I'll be 1200 miles north, in my own little bed. More has transpired in the past nine days than I could ever cover, definitely more than any of you could stand to hear a blow by blow of, but trust me that it ran the whole range of emotions. There's been laughter, tears, frustration, some vegging out, heavy discussions of church doctrine, politics, really good food, really lousy pizza, too much fast food which I'm happy to say included my first Chick Filet shake. We've had days that we stayed in pjs the entire day and looked a mess, we've cleaned up a bit and gone out, I've driven all over the DFW metroplex, never really having any idea where I was most of the time. It's been crazy, it's been tiring, it's been good. I not only got to help Sarah and her family, I got to love on them, and my son and daughter-in-law. But it's time to go home. I suspected that and my husband confirmed it tonight on the phone. "Come home. Don't even tell me you're staying longer. Come home." So I am.

A bonus for being here the last nine days, Sarah decided she would teach me to knit, and I could give her some hands-on sewing lessons. I'm happy to say she finished a lovely flannel nightgown for Addison last night. It was a bit of a whipping but she did a great job, and learned all sorts of sewing skills in the process. She said it wasn't much fun, but then today she was back at it, starting another one. That girl has sticktoitiveness!

Knitting has not been a blast to learn. It's been aggravating. It's hard. After nine days I have two rows of knitting to show for my efforts. It really doesn't look like much, you can't see any evidence of the six books on knitting I've ordered or purchased, the knitting set I bought, and the extra tools. I've ripped out and ripped out and then ripped out some more. A week ago I really thought I could not learn it. I've gone from clueless to lousy. I make a lot of mistakes, but I have the stitches down. Sarah patiently taught me to knit, purl, yarn over, increase, decrease, bind off, and how to read a pattern. If you don't talk to me and the entire room is perfectly quiet I can knit something pretty simple. I'm determined to be good at eventually. Sarah and I got to visit a yarn shop today for the first time. Because we're gracious, well-raised ladies we didn't stay long, in light of the fact that we had three kids with us, and two of them had to be contained at precise spots in the aisles so as to prevent pulling yarn off the shelves, and the other one had to be warned not to scare the little Yorkie that abides there, but girls, I could have stayed for hours! I cannot wait to visit the one back home. I'm pretty sure I'll be asking Santa for a gift certificate to it.

I'll post a photo of the scarf that so far has about $100 invested in it, if and when it's finished. Yes, I know I could have bought a scarf at Walmart for $5.99. Sarah could have bought Addison a nightgown there for about the same. Girls, this is about acquiring skills, learning an art. And making memories.

That we did. I'm headed back to Yankee country tomorrow morning, with a bag of knitting supplies and a heartful of memories of my sweet family deep in the heart of Texas.


  posted at 11:36 PM

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Life 101
I arrived a week ago tomorrow. We usually spend about five days here when we fly down, but this time was not about visiting. It was about support, survival of a little household. So I agreed to stay absolutely as long as I could. I have to be home Friday morning, so I fly home Thursday afternoon.

Tonight my husband told me, "I miss you, I'm ready for you to come back home. Do you miss me, and being home?" Well, of course I said yes. But I also told him, it's funny how much perspective plays into anything. Normally when we're here, just for fun and to spend time with our family, the days are full of a bunch of nothing, and after about five or six days I'm ready to head home. This time, I'm torn, knowing they need help here as long as possible and the days are going so quickly. From when we all get up, little ones need dry diapers, breakfast, then dressed. Beds need to be made, laundry thrown in and taken out to be folded. Lunch, snacks, more diapers, it's endless, relentless. Funny how little ones quickly form the habit of eating at regular intervals, and the results of that are also pretty regular! There's so much to be done each day. I hate to leave them. When I go the bulk of the work will fall on Chris, after a full day of work, and Sarah will likely also start doing more than she should. The days will possibly feel long for her, confined to a house with three little ones. Those hours can drag by pretty slowly!

So I miss my husband, my daughter and her family back in Pennsylvania, my home, my life. It's where I belong, it's where my favorite coffee cup is, my robe, my books, my big Bible and devotional book, my kitchen, my friends, my warm clothes I should have packed, my pets, my neighbors, my church, my mailbox, my, my, my....

When Sarah and Chris were dealing with the aftermath of Addison's surgery a year ago, they came up with a family saying - "It's not about me." That has stuck with me. So often it IS about me, whatever IT might be. Like most people, I tend to be self-absorbed, self-centered in my thinking, perspective. But it's not about me or any of those "my's" I miss.

I wish I could stay longer - there is so much to do, every day is full, and I hate to leave, knowing it will create a burden for them.

Oh that I saw all of life that way! This life, as a whole, is not about me, and all the things that fill my calendar. It's not even just about the people I surround myself with. It's so much bigger, and my purpose for being here, on this earth, in this specific place He's placed me in, He's in that too, if I'll just see it. I have somewhere else to be eventually, something else to do. When my days here on earth are over, I imagine I'll think "I wish I could stay longer, there is so much to do, every day is full, and I hate to leave."

I want, when I board that plane in a few days, to look back at this stay and feel like my time here made a difference, was well spent, blessed this little family and honored God. I will leave with mixed feelings, an inner tug-o-war.

I want, when I leave this earth, in what will feel like such a short time, to look back at this stay and feel like my time here made a difference, was well spent, blessed others and honored God. I will likely leave with mixed feelings, an inner tug-o-war.

Thank you God, for letting me take practice tests in Life 101.


  posted at 12:09 AM

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Lessons that Continue
One of my sewing buddies told me recently that I have a constant thirst for learning. I used to think taking a path in life that didn't include college, there was so much to make up for, but I've decided that's probably not true. I think it's just the way God made me, us. Life hands us lessons from the moment we're born, and they don't really stop til our last breath. It's not so much a matter of individuality, of whether there are lessons to learn. Rather, whether we grab them and run with them or not. Usually I grab them - the pleasant ones. I'm no different than anyone else in wanting to avoid those that are too challenging, or scary.

Learning to tie my shoes at age six was frustrating, all those loops going over and under. Learning to roller skate, to swim, to ride a bike, to drive - all scary, to type and take shorthand, do a budget, balance a checkbook. Then to be married, raise children, cook and care for a home, deal with family dynamics. To say goodbye to friends as I moved away, or when family members passed away. To welcome into our family circle new additions, or new friends as we moved into communities.

My mother, in her 70's, is still learning the ins and outs of a new job, and will soon begin the learning process that comes with owning a home. My mother-in-law, at 95, is learning to drive an electric wheelchair. Over the past few years she's had to learn to live with pain, loneliness, physical limitations, and saying goodbye to friends who live at her assisted living facility.

As I look at family members' lives, the lessons are endless. Some are pure pleasure, some are painful. I listened to a sermon last night - the crux of it was that God is preparing us for what He's prepared for us. Whatever I'm going through today is a training ground for tomorrow, if I'll let it be. Sometimes the training is pleasant, sometimes not so much. Still, it all reflects God's love for us, his confidence in us.

This week, here in Texas, I'm learning to deal with noise levels a few decibals higher than I'm used to, to serve others graciously even when I'm tired, to recognize the sinfulness that raises it's ugly head in me way too easily. I'm learning to more fully appreciate the stage of life I'm at. While it includes some battling of the bulge, and crow's feet, a need for Hydrience every six weeks, it also has a lot of quiet times, freedom to choose how I spend my day, cooking dinner and not doing three other things at the same time. The lessons never end, if we'll just recognize them as such.

Sarah decided this week was a good time to teach me to knit. I'm crafty, I've crocheted, I sew, I quilt. It shouldn't have been a big stretch. It was. My fingers did not want to go in all those positions, loop over this, under that, pull through here, not there. The first day I cast on, and tore out at least a dozen times. By the end of the second day I joked that I had a nice blanket for a worm. Then all of a sudden, on day three, the hand positions didn't feel so strange, and my fingers seemed to just go there. The casting on wasn't so tight, since I wasn't so anxious about it all. Sarah gave me a project - she had me pick a skein of yarn in my favorite color, sage green, then she set me about a project - a scarf. On day four I'm enjoying it so much more, have ordered a couple of books for when I return home, and checked into a shop near my home, "Bloomin Yarns". They not only carry beautiful yarns, they will likely have a class I can sign up for. Already it feels like a great stress-buster, rather than stress-inducer, to grab my needles and click away.

I've checked - the airlines allow knitting needles onboard! By the time I get home, I should just about have a lovely knitted scarf, ready in time for the change of weather that is just around the corner.

How gracious is God! He continues to give us lessons, to prepare us today for what He's prepared for us tomorrow. Some will be challenging situations, requiring patience on my part, or tolerance of situations and circumstances different than what I'm used to. Some may be a beautiful knitted cap to go with that scarf. Or a lap blanket for someone I care about.

The lessons continue - they're there daily, they don't always feel so comfortable at first, but if we just grab them and run with them, oh what we're capable of!


  posted at 1:36 PM

Friday, October 19, 2007
Sorting Life Out Over Chips and Queso at Chili's
After my last mental meltdown of the 'how to handle blogging, what to do with bloglines, comments, posts, blah blah blah', I decided to keep bloglines. After I'd unsubscribed to everyone, I had to resubscribe to everyone. It was the right decision. I enjoy spending time reading posts. I try to stay in touch and usually feel caught up. I don't generally stress when I fall a bit behind. Life shifts and settles unevenly now and then. If it's crazy now, it'll be calm later. So I'm feeling good about the whole 'How to Blog and Have a Life' thing. And that's not the point of this post anyway.

I have 709 posts from "friends", the group I came up with to put everyone in, except for a few blogs on sewing, or hospitality, or writing. 709 - that's quite a bit. And I can't really do much about it right now. It feels a little rude on my part. Or at least inattentive.

In spite of that I'm going to hit all read, and may well do that again when I get back home in about a week. And I'm going to just take my sweet time working through the alphabetized list of however many blogs I subscribe to - I think it's close to 100. Because that's how many I really enjoy reading. I'm going to think of it as 100 visits for coffee with a girlfriend, and that's going to take awhile.

Please don't think I'm rude - or uncaring. Not that I'm never either, but rarely intentionally so. It's just a tad bit busy here, in a good way, but still busy. Sarah and I were able to share a two hour dinner at Chili's tonight. Not only was the chips and queso great, so was the conversation. When you have a close, healthy relationship with your adult children, you not only don't leave behind a lot of unfinished business someday, you can be honest with each other here and now. We were able to chat a bit about how this emergency arrangement is working, or not, and discuss some adjustments.

I'm hoping over the next five or so days I have left here to not only keep up with the laundry, and diapers and hungry children, and trying to drive around DFW without any wrecks (can you believe the people here care if you actually turn into your own lane, instead of borrowing a bit out of the corners of theirs? Seems a bit picky to me!), but I'd also like to do some loving on my three grandkids - reading stories, and maybe running a few errands that include the pet store, or McDonalds, or tents under the trampoline. We also cut out nightgowns for Addison today and we're hoping to sew them together while I'm here, accomplishing not only dressing the baby for bed, but a great sewing lesson for Sarah. After this nightgown she should be able to sew about anything she wants. On top of that Sarah decided it was the perfect time for me to learn to knit, and I'm not the most coordinated person on the planet. And I still haven't even seen my son and daughter-in-law since I got here. So it's not likely I'll catch up with reading posts til sometime after I get back home and deal with the fires that need to be put out there. I don't even want to think about those right now.

I haven't forgotten any of you - I'm not trying to ignore anyone - I peek at a few posts here and there right before bedtime, but we're just all working hard to keep this ship afloat, so please, please be patient with me.

Because life shifts and settles unevenly now and then. If it's crazy now, it'll be calm later. At least that's what Sarah and I came up with after two hours and a plate of chips and queso at Chili's. Cheaper than a visit to the shrink's couch, and worth every single calorie.


  posted at 11:28 PM

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Good Night Nurse, Holy Moly, and Complete Validation!
Day one - started lovely with coffee and creamer, devotions on Sarah's patio, a soft cool breeze that gave the wind chimes energy to play a morning song. A bit foggy, overcast - oh what a day - fall in Texas feels like spring, which is perfect to me since soon as fall is over I'd just as soon go back to spring and skip the whole winter solstice thing.

Then the kids started waking up - by 8:00 it was rockin' and rollin' around here. Everyone was wet, hungry - it felt a bit like a scene out of What About Bob? - "I Need, I Need!" Breakfast out of the way, everyone was dressed. Out to door to Sarah's doctor's appointment, it felt a bit dejavu - driving a minivan with the backseats full, and the covered floormats that come with little people. At the doctor's office, Sarah hobbled in on crutches, while we four sat in the car and watched a Veggie Tale. After the first 30 minutes, I started searching the car and found leftover goldfish in Caiden's lunch box - thank you God. And don't tell Sarah, but when we ran out of those, I checked the car floor and rescued a few stranded cheerios to feed the baby.

Then - an oasis in the storm. A trip to Sonic. Hysterical to watch the girl in the building, trying to take the order, while Sarah would get out one part, then have to stop to straighten out a kid, then back to the order, oh a kid is messing up again, let's change the order, etc. etc. Sonic Girl hung with us, and miraculously got the order right, at least as well as we remembered it. By that time, who cared what we ordered, it came with a large Diet Coke, and Sarah's arm rests hold an order of fries perfectly - how's that for a well-engineered moma-van?!

Home, one down for a nap, two for room time, the cleaning begins. Bathrooms, vacuum, laundry, glass, set out something for dinner, make beds. A little of this and that, trying to do the stuff that will have the most impact to make this feel like a haven for a weary little family. The stuff that's hard to do on crutches, or after a long day at work.

Then some are up, some go down, some are hungry, some won't eat. Some are wet, some are worse! Listening to Sarah and Caiden do school in the background (the French was impressive!), playtime in the yard, under and on the trampoline while Sarah and I sat at the table for awhile, her knitting and me jumping up and down like springs had magically been attached to my rear, push this one on a scooter, pick that one up and brush off the ants, kiss boo-boos, settle squabbles, give the hairy eyeball look now and then, find the phone, answer the phone, give Sarah the phone.

Then time to make dinner - only the kids won't eat what we're eating, so Sarah tries to help find something for the kids and within 30 minutes her foot is swollen and creepy purple, so she settles back down and I cook the adult meal. And do dishes, and wipe up crumbs, and pour milk, and get kids out of high chairs, and into pjs. Good night nurse!

I like to think I work hard at home. What I realize being here for one day - I do work hard, but not non-stop. There are no little people constantly needing attention, the type of attention that keeps them from playing with knives, or drowning in the bathtub or escaping out the front door and getting run over, or eating something poisonous under the sink. I take breaks, sort of waltz through my day, work awhile, have a cup of tea, work awhile, open the mail, work awhile, read emails. Seriously, how on earth did I ever do this? I am worn out - a good worn out, the kind that feels good at the end of the day, that what you did mattered. Still, worn out.

Sarah and Chris seemed less frazzled today, hopefully they were encouraged and felt supported, because that's what family is for. And we may live 1200 miles apart, but sometimes that is just not an excuse. Sometimes family just needs to be there. Times like this.

Okay, it's bedtime - have to get a good night's sleep - all five of us have to be out the door by 8:45 - mercy! This is not for sissies, or even the young at heart, rather the young in years. Lord, what on earth are those crazy women in Hollywood thinking, having babies in their 50's? - They are plumb crazy. You young moms out there, doing this day in and day out - hats off to you! Seriously, you should feel very validated and encouraged. Validated that this is ridiculously hard, and encouraged that someday, 20 years down the road you will have forgotten these non-stop days. In the meantime, be proud of what you do - it's doggone impressive in my book!


  posted at 11:47 PM

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Calendars with Pencil Smears
When I was in my 20's and even my 30's, I thought there would come a day when I'd be an empty-nester. That would mean clear white spaces on my calendar. Maybe lunch with a friend, or the garden club, or book discussion group. No carpools, or parent-teacher conferences. No shopping for a homecoming dress, or three basketball games this week, orthodontist appointments, or setting aside all of Saturday to find a swimsuit you and your daughter can live with. Surely, when all of that had run it's course the calendar would be empty except for the fluff of life.

I was wrong about the white spaces, or lack there, or actually the whole empty-nest thing. The older I get, the more often I'm wrong, about many things. My calendar doesn't have big white spaces, what it does have is appointments that I chose to put there, that are mostly about me, and sometimes my husband or one of the four-leggeds that choose our sofa to shed on. Once in awhile someone will ask me to talk on organization, time management, priorities, not because I'm a pro at it, but because I've read more nerdy books on it that anyone else I know, I look normal and am willing to get up in front of a group and talk about it.

My first piece of advice is - keep one calendar. Only you write on the calendar. And only in pencil. Because calendars have a way of changing, or rather lives do. Whatever we put on them, last week or last month or last year, sometimes at the last minute things change radically and you find yourself erasing like crazy, re-scheduling all those appointments. Sometimes life gets in the way of whatever you'd oh so carefully scheduled six months out. Seriously, who really knows if you can make a dentist appointment six months from now? Or pop in for a mammogram in a year?

There's a sweet little family 1200 miles south of me, and they could use a bit of help. Really, they just need someone who has the time to stay at their house all day and isn't on crutches and can push the gas pedal of the car. And has a bit of experience changing diapers, cooking, playing Go Fish or Clue and reading bedtime stories, or playing under tents in the backyard. They don't need an organizational guru, just an extra set of hands, so the Daddy of the family can actually go to work, instead of staying home doing all the above.

So I got out my eraser, picked up the phone, and started re-arranging. Re-scheduled, found substitutes, flat out cancelled, did the laundry, bought some groceries for hubby, and put some kid-friendly clothes in a suitcase, and I'm off. Nine days from now I'll fly back home, see what's penciled in my calendar, go through the mail, buy some groceries, get the laundry caught up, and slide back into my life here.

I used to think the Empty Nest stage would be so simple, you could write on your calendar in pen. Things wouldn't change, life would be orderly and organized all the time. When my husband was visiting his 95 year old mother two weeks ago, at the assisted living facility where she lives, he overheard one of her tablemates say, "it's not the getting old I mind, it's never doing anything important, we don't contribute anymore. I hate not being needed by anybody."

Thank you God for being needed, for still being able to lend a hand. For still needing to write in my calendar with pencil instead of pen. Life is not made of a calendar with big white spaces, it's made up of one that has pencil smears here and there, messy erasures, so we can write in really important stuff like dropping everything to help, and the blessing of still being needed. Thank you too God, for a husband who's willing to let me leave him behind, to cook for himself, take care of all these crazy animals, swiffer everyday, and try not to run out of socks, since you know God, he doesn't have a clue how to run the washing machine. Just like the loaves and fishes, if you could stretch those clean white socks, we'd both be grateful.

Labels: ,

  posted at 7:33 AM

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Dancing in the Aisles
Our church has had a Saturday night service for almost two years. It wasn't working. The startup attendance number was encouraging, then slowly it went down. People didn't sing. They came in late, and sat down to read their bulletin. Something was wrong big-time. The church we attend is pretty conservative, and the services reflected that. Saturday night was really no different than Sunday morning. You saw a few jeans and t-shirts here and there, at both services, but they were the exception.

After almost two years, the staff decided we needed to either fish or cut bait. Fix the Saturday service or eliminate it. Since we'd been attending it the whole time, and were pretty discouraged with it, we voted for the latter (not that they really gave us a vote). They decided to fish.

Worship was turned over to one of our youth pastors, who happens to have a band, and has produced a few CD's (He can sing and play and lead worship.) A different worship team was put together. Our pastor switched to preaching in jeans, and sitting at a cafe-style table down on the floor level with us, rather than a podium on the stage. The ushers switched to jeans and t-shirts. It was announced the head pastor would be hanging out in the cafe after each service, where pizza was served, to answer any questions you might have. He became available. A class was put on with a counselor on hand, for anyone struggling with issues.

Three weeks after the big switch was made, and announced in the bulletin, we attended last night. Fabulous! Attendance is up by over 100, when I walked in just a few minutes late everyone was on their feet singing, clapping, raising of hands here and there. And a two year old was dancing in the center aisle.

The worship pastor has two little girls, one is a newborn and the other is about two, with blonde curls and big blue eyes that will win you over immediately. Her mommy had chosen to sit right next to the aisle and the music had moved whatever it is God put inside us so that she was in the aisle, wiggling and spinning to the music. The lyrics of the song, right at that moment, just happened to have the words "Dance Like You're Saved" in them, and she was just dancing away. So he told us, let's let her lead for a minute here, let's worship like a two year old. Let's dance in church for goodness sake! Such fun to see the room come even more alive, as we all turned our eyes to this little one, who was oblivious to us.

"Dance Like You're Saved", "Dance Like a Two Year Old", sounds like a paraphrase of "let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mark 10:13-14). When we stopped 'acting our age' and rather let our hearts and spirits move us in worship, the place came alive! Wiggles and sways and hands waving, smiles on faces, as we let the little one lead us.

Man, did it feel good to be wrong.


  posted at 8:31 AM

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Apple Pie, Minestrone & the Food Bank
Here's the apple pie I planned to make. I did! It's called "Simply Delicious Pie" from the October issue of Good Housekeeping. It called for pecans and I substituted raisins and dates, so that explains the black lumps in it :-)

We're having a simple dinner in after church tonight. I took the minestrone from three days ago, dumped it back into the crockpot, sliced the last serving of lasagna from two nights ago into bite sized pieces, and dumped it in. I generally call this soup "Once in a Lifetime" since it consists of whatever's in the fridge, and the combination is not likely to be repeated.

We also cleaned out our camper, winterizing it. That involved taking out all the food, canned or dry, that was in there. I heard yesterday, from a girlfriend, that our local food bank is in dire need of contributions. I have a brother who depends on the local food bank to stretch his monthly food supply, so that really struck home. What struck home more was that I just simply forget to drop off donations. I'm taking whatever was stored in the camper that is a non-perishable, adding a few jars of peanut butter, tuna, macaroni and cheese, etc. But if I forget to contribute, I thought probably many others do also. I decided the remedy was to make it a monthly scheduled thing. I can remember to give our dogs their monthly pills on the 15th, so why not just add donating to the food bank to that. It would also be easy to pick your anniversary, or birthday or some other memorable date, and go through your cupboards to see what's been sitting there awhile, not being used. As an American, it's easy to forget that we have children right here in our country who go to bed hungry every single day. That just should not be, and I should be doing more about it.

So after you go through your cupboards, set out a grocery sack of items to drop off, then you can make this pie for your family. And maybe a pot of "Once in a Lifetime Soup" to go with it.

Simply.Delicious.Pie, makes 10 servings (I think more like 6)

1 frozen deep dish pie crust
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 large egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 lbs apples*, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice

* use granny smith, golden delicious, and/or gala apples.

Preheat oven to 375. While crust is thawing at room temperature for 15 minutes, mix pecans, flour and brown sugar in bowl. Work in butter with fingertips (I used the pastry blender) til the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Pierce bottom and sides of crust with fork. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or til lightly golden. Immediately brush bottom and sides of hot crust with light coating of egg whites. Reset oven to 425 degrees.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Toss in apples and lemon juice. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Spoon filling into crust. Sprinkle pecan topping over filling.

Bake pie 10 to 12 minutes or til topping is golden. Cool on wire rack. Serve with vanilla nice cream if desired.

My pie crust doesn't look that great - not to worry. Serve it with the lights dimmed, they'll never know the difference! Hope you all have a happy weekend, spent with those you love.


  posted at 5:41 PM

Friday, October 12, 2007
Savoring the Day to Day...
Two months ago we reserved the campsite, right next to the lake. This time of year it will be a breathtaking picture - the turning of leaves reflected in the water. Crisp nights, with the smell of a campfire, then inside we'd snuggle down deep into our beds. Ten minutes away is Ft. Ligonier, where George Washington camped for three years, and this time of year there's a re-enactment of the French/Indian War, complete with uniforms, the smell of muskets mixed with kettle corn and sausage and onions being cooked by sidewalk vendors. The last camping trip of the season.

We decided to cancel. To stay home. As the date drew closer, Don has just returned from a visit with his mother. It's always good to have time with her, but staying at the nursing home for four days takes something out of you; any road travel takes something out of you. After several things had taken place in my life in the last few weeks, I felt ready for something uneventful. To draw in close to those I love. Spend time at home where it feels safe and comforting. So we cancelled.

Instead, we'll build the first fire of the season in the fireplace. Make chili and watch some football games we don't really care about since neither of our teams are playing. Maybe take in the new George Clooney movie, sleep in a little bit. Don will probably putz in the garage a bit, do a little raking of the leaves that always fall early. I'm in the mood to bake up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, maybe even an apple pie. There's fresh apple cider in the fridge, and it'll be great heated up with just a sprinkle of cinnamon added. There are sewing projects to look over, always good books to read. Church -we can go Saturday night or Sunday morning, either will be a blessing. Last week's worship and sermon were so good, we felt blessed head to toe when we left. I love it when our pastor is really on a roll!

So we decided to cancel the trip, stay home and savor the day-to-day stuff. We don't do enough of that. Savor life - just the normal, day to day events He's blessed us with.


  posted at 3:26 PM

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Letters to Home from Camp
Hi Dad and Mom,
They told me you are missing me, a little extra, right now. I mean, heck, surely you miss me all the time, right! Right!

Elway and I play tug-o-war with lots of things. I usually just lay there and let him pull. Might as well let the old guy do all the work, right? Sometimes he wins. He outweighs me, but I'm gaining on him.

Sometimes I win!Having a buddy is nice. We head-wrestle a lot. It drives your Dad a little crazy, but we think it's grand fun. Your Dad also seems to get a little annoyed if I lick the food on their plates at night, I don't get it - I only take a little.

I'm wrecking the yard a little bit, but Elway started it. (I like this having an older brother to blame everything on!) I like to think of it as free aerating.

I especially like running all the way to the bottom, looking over the fence at the squirrels and chipmunks. Now and then there's this big animal, with stick up ears and big eyes, a soft black nose like mine. I really like them! Sometimes they let me stand there and watch them. Some of them have spots on them. One has horns on his head, but I'm a little afraid of him.

I don't always come when they call me, especially if it's bedtime. It's so much more fun staying out here running around, smelling all the strange smells, eating leaves and sticks. At night that's really fun because they can't see me so well, and they stand up there on that deck, in their funny pajamas and call and call. Sometimes I just stand at the bottom and laugh at them. Don't tell them that.

We have school, where they try to teach me to sit and come and kennel up. Elway runs after the ball and brings it back to them. I think it's much more fun to run after Elway who is running after the ball, and chew on his head the whole way back. It works for me.

I like the mailman, Zeke. He brings Elway and I treats and rubs our heads. He's nice. Your Mom cleans my ears out every Sunday (you know they get gunky), and she combs my coat. It's growing, I'm starting to look like a Big Dog. Whippee!

I love having a brother and a yard. My Yard. But I still miss you two. Come see me and we'll run through it together.

  posted at 8:34 AM

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
William Tell Overture

For your absolutely hysterical viewing pleasure!

  posted at 11:04 PM

Monday, October 08, 2007
Waiting for Strawberries to Grow, and Dogs to Die
With Katrina's book challenge about to be underway, I headed off to the library. I sometimes check out the New York Times bestseller list, fiction and non-fiction, for anything that looks interesting. I once read a book on a couple who died of Aids, feeling like God was leading me to understand it better. I've read some real doozeys now and then, just because the mood struck me or I thought God wanted me to.

As I skimmed the list, I saw two on the NF list - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Merle's Door, by Ted Kerasote. Merle is a dog, and since we're in the middle of training a pup I thought I'd pick it up.

Barbara Kingsolver, known for The Bean Tree and The Poisonwood Bible, usually writes fiction. Not that I've read either of the previously mentioned. But I had heard of her. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was available on audio, 12 CD's long, a memoir of the year her family spent vowing to only eat food that grew or was raised within 100 miles of their Appalachian home. Hours and hours I drove, listening to the author tell of how they grew asparagus, melons, tomatoes, ordered turkeys and hens in the fluffy yellow stage, to provide eggs and meat. Sometimes when the chapters were boring I wondered what on earth possessed me to listen for a half hour on the virtues of growing zucchini. Right when I'd be tempted to give up, she'd stretch me - sharing of her struggle to decide where she stood on tobacco farming as a way of life, in spite of the ill it causes. Or she'd tell of her six year old daughter raising those hens to lay eggs, and pay for the horse she so dearly wanted. Any of the chickens who turned out to be male, after the obligatory one, would be sold to the highest bidder, so no names were given.

I listened as Barbara, her daughter Camille, and husband Steven Hopp talked of the Farm Bill, supporting local growers, whether ethics are involved in buying strawberries in January when you consider the fuel that was used to transport them. Do we Americans have to have everything we want, all the time, no matter the cost? This author stretched me - I imagine there is much in the political arena we disagree on, but I admire her living out her convictions one day at a time, something I as a Christian aspire to do, and often fail at. When the last chapter ended with her gently placing her hands under the mother turkey, checking for chicks and holding an egg in her hand, feeling the shell crack as she held it, feeling life at it's very newest moment, I was moved to think of myself as only one, but one who can make a difference in my world, even in little ways. I can more deeply appreciate this world God created, show it more respect, recognize those who vote differently from me may bless me if I'll listen to them for a bit, and I can maybe even wait til summer for strawberries. Pretty great non-fiction I think. I never cried listening to this book, but I did blow out the dustbunnies between my ears, and smiled a lot as I drove.

At night I've been reading Merle's Door - the cover is graced with a photo of a lab/bloodhound/heinz 57 dog sitting on a big rock, overlooking some gorgeous outdoor scene. Ted, a proverbial bachelor, finds Merle and brings him home, It immediately and completely grabbed my heart. Ted and I likely share little doctrine, maybe not even the same basic beliefs, but we do share a love of animals. As I read, I realized this man was the best dog owner I've ever heard of, if daily massages of an old arthritic dog count. When Ted built his cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming he realized Merle was hemmed in by his schedule, the dog's coming and going about the villages and fields and ski runs was restricted by Ted. So he cut another door in the front of his house, just for Merle. Merle who came and went as he pleased, brought his dog buddies home just as a teenager would bring home friends for a movie and pizza. To read through the eyes of this man, as he wrote of the countryside he so loves, of hunting bull moose or elk to eat, how he shared his life with a creature made by God, to see his respect for this animal, that overflows into his entire life, the people he loves, the work he does, this was a really good man. A man I would respect in spite of some of our differences.

Unlike a movie, one thing about a book, you can tell when it's going to end. You begin to run out of pages. It was a book about a dog, and as the chapters moved along, Merle began to get old and sick, so I knew. Merle was going to die. Only a true reader understands that you have to save the ending for just the right moment, no interruptions, no background noise, it has to be savored. So last night, as I could see that there was one more sitting left in the book, I did what any seasoned reader would do. I took a shower, put the dogs to bed, set the coffee for morning, got out a big bowl of rocky road ice cream, grabbed the kleenex and climbed into bed. I sat there blubbering, tears literally rolling into my ice cream dish, as this man shared from his gut telling his dog of 14 years goodbye. We've had to put a dog or two to sleep, with the entire family sobbing their goobyes, but I'm not sure anyone has ever loved a dog at this depth, nor shared the story so well. A story of love, of respect for sharing your life with another, and the sadness of saying goodbye. Setting aside the ice cream dish, throwing the soggy tissues into the trash, I put the book on the dresser to return to the library tomorrow, and fell asleep feeling completely blessed by reading one man's non-fiction story of the dog he loved. Reading a story of love that runs deep is a blessing, it matters little the object of his love wasn't a woman.

Great reads - they don't have to be fiction. Learning from others' lives that don't completely match ours, what a concept! We just have to listen with our hearts sometimes. Even if that someone speaking might cancel our vote in the upcoming election.


  posted at 7:31 PM

Sunday, October 07, 2007
Past Proper Bedtime
It only took me three hours to make these. Finished at a mere 1:00 a.m. I'll be sorry in the morning when the clock rings, telling me to haul it out of bed to head to the church nursery for some time with the Young and the Restless (as a commenter called little ones last week).

My favorite - hands down - the green. Too cute I think. Leslie and I hit some tag sales this morning and I found a few pieces of pre-quilted fabric, made into nursery items. Marked at $0.75 and $1.50, I brought them home and chopped them up. They're perfect backing for baby bibs.

After sewing these three, I think I've got the process down. One for Landon, two to give to the new mommy. Still to go, a tiny smock like Sarah's been whipping up for Miss Addison the past few days. Perfect size and weight to pop into the mail with a card. There's something that feels so nice about giving a homemade gift!


  posted at 1:06 AM

Saturday, October 06, 2007
Sewing & Scones & Such Stuff
This week started a bit rough. It's almost over and I thought I'd post something a bit more cheery - glass half full, rather than half empty, days redeemed! I'm moving pretty well again, my heart is on the mend, there's nothing quite as gorgeous as Fall in southwestern Pennsylvania, and everything domestic in me is begging for release!

Don flew west to spend some time with his mother, celebrating a bit early her 95th birthday. Traveling to Colorado in November can easily end up with getting stranded in the airport a day or two extra due to snow, October is a little more reliable. I've got the house to myself for four days, and since I'm still on restricted activity, there's no excuse for not sewing and cooking.

I've mentioned a few times a very fun book for beginning seamstresses, or wannabes - Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. (Her website is on my sidebar if you'd like to take a look.) It's also chock full of fun ideas if you've been sewing for years. I decided to begin with some baby bibs, when Leslie's friend delivered a baby girl last week. I thought I'd do a prototype for Landon, then move on to pinks and pale greens for new baby Maryn.

This is how it turned out - cute as can be, and it doesn't fit around Landons ample neck. I think it'll work fine for a newborn, but for the few I want to make for Landon to have on hand around here, I think we'll cut them a bit more generously. The fabric is waiting patiently for me to return home from church tonight, and sew into the wee hours. Keeping on schedule is not a strength of mine when I'm home alone. I still need to make a run to Joann's for the gadget that attaches snaps. I want to make extras of these to keep on hand for when new babies appear!

I found a new shop in town this afternoon, "Sew Much Fun", and they carry not only parts and accessories for one of my machines, they also have beautiful fabrics and hold classes now and then. What a treat to find them, right here in town, before winter arrives and traveling gets a bit restricted. Don't you love it when you discover a new place in your town?

After our sewing group got together on Thursday, I suggested an extra sewing day at my place on Friday, and got two takers. Susan and Mary Ann spent the day with me, going through patterns, planning projects, Susan gave Mary Ann and I a class's worth of tips and techniques, and we solved most of life's bigger problems too. That was the morning after my knee procedure and I was able to get up, lightly mop the kitchen, and whip up these Simple Scones, from a cookbook I mentioned recently, "Perfect Recipes for Having People Over".

Scones in a shop usually run about $2.00 each, these likely didn't cost that much for the whole batch, and they were hot out of the oven, served with butter and flavored coffee when Susan and Mary Ann arrived. The cute tray was just perfect for serving them on, and there are a few more to fill in as breakfast the rest of the weekend, when it's just me and the dogs.

I suspected the perfect cure for being hurt was to spend time with women I dearly love, who also care about me. I was right. What began as a very difficult week, on several levels, is ending feeling like a blessing, albeit some of it in the disguise of challenges. Life is like that more often than not. This weekend I'm so thankful to be able to walk up and down the stairs in our home, to clean my house a bit, and to have women I care about in my home. I wouldn't have appreciated any of it as much if the week hadn't started out with pretty big potholes in the road.

Here's the recipe in case you've been feeling a bit lonesome or know someone else who might be blessed by opening your home. Likely you wouldn't have to look very far, maybe even just next door. Enjoy, and happy weekend everyone!

SIMPLE SCONES - makes 8 generous scones

1/2 cup sour cream (fat free is fine)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins (I used craisins)
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
(Note I added 1/2 cup dates, rehydrated)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. (I used my pampered chef pizza stone.)

Whisk sour cream and egg in a small bowl til smooth. Mix flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and raisins in medium bowl. Grate butter into flour mixture using large holes of a box grater; toss to combine. Stir in sour cream mixture til large clumps of dough form. Use your hands to press dough against sides and bottom of bowl to form a ball. (There may not seem like enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 7 1/2 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. Use a sharp knife and cut into 8 triangles. Place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake til golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. (Note - I mixed up some vanilla frosting, melted it in the microwave, and drizzled all the scones with it, for a sweet glaze.)

Served on a pretty plate, by a friend with a warm, listening heart, they're pretty hard to resist.


  posted at 4:41 PM

Friday, October 05, 2007
Not for the Faint-Hearted
If you're squeamish, feel free to keep moving. If you'd consider yourself amongst the rubber-neckers on the roads (you don't have to admit it here) you might be intrigued by all this. If you enjoyed reading of my colonoscopy, you'll love this one!

I had my appointment with the orthopaedic specialist today. I'd seen him in late May, gotten cortisone shots in both knees (not as bad as I thought it would be), and promptly headed home to finish planting all the flowers in the yard. That night, washing mud off the bandaids on my knees, I was amazed how great they felt. And no, they didn't get infected in spite of the mushroom manure in the flowerbeds!

Five months later, after mowing, and staining the deck, and weeding those flowers, and removing wallpaper, etc. etc. the knees were trashed. So today was "aspiration and injection" day. Hang with me, I can show you how to have a good time.

The needle looked a lot like a chopstick. He warned me, told me, don't look, and made me lie back so I could not see (I guess he knew I'd peek.) In went the jab, out came the fluid, and down the chopstick shaft he shot cortisone. Hurt like a son-of-a-gun! So much fun we repeated it on the left side. He took 60 cc or 2 ounces of fluid out of the right, and 90 cc or 3 ounces out of the left. He told me there was more in the left but it would be too painful to go after it. I do think it's fair to keep the pain below the childbirth level since you don't get to bring home a sweet little bundle after the ordeal. So 5/8 of a cup of fluid out of my knees. I was shocked. I expected a tablespoon or so. No wonder they hurt and resembled small canteloupes.

I'm real and upfront so I've added pre-appointment photos of my oh so lovely fluid-filled, freckle-covered knees. I'm not gross though, so I'll spare you the vials from the appointment. You can use your imagination for that one. I really considered asking him if I could take them home to show my husband, but couldn't muster enough nerve. I do think he would have been darned impressed, and it's hard to gross out males. My daughter, Sarah pointed out something about body fluids and hazardous waste - I didn't think about that. I do wish I'd taken a picture for posterity. I'm not planning a repeat performance.

That lump on my right knee is not a protruding bone. It's a gap that was left from knee surgery a long time ago, the way it healed left room and fluid filled it up. Looks pretty creepy though.

The doctor gave me several options. Knee replacement is not one - I'm still too young. #1 I can stop doing what makes me happy. #2 I can change the way I do things. #3 I can come in every six months to pay the price for not living in moderation. He didn't advise one over the other, rather told me I have to decide what I can live with. Ummm... it took about 30 seconds to realize I don't want to do this again, and I'm not willing to give up flowers and projects and even mowing a little grass now and then. It's just the tomboy in me I guess. I also had to realize the cortisone is dangerous for me. Being hardheaded, if something doesn't hurt I don't pay much attention. After those May injections, I just plowed ahead and overdid. All the while my knees were wondering, "crazy lady, what on earth do you think you're doing?" I think I need the safety of some pain when I'm pushing too hard.

So - I choose option #2 - live smarter. Use a mop instead of my knees and a rag on the kitchen floor. Mow one section rather than all of the lawn. Hire someone to remove the lower wallpaper. Use a gardening cart to plant the flowers, because I honestly can't imagine living without flowers, and I enjoy them more knowing I planted them to begin with. The picket fence paint job - we'll see. Maybe a teenager and I can do it together.

Christ told us He came that we might have life, in abundance. To me at least part of that means flowerbeds overflowing, the smell of freshly cut grass, fresh paint now and then, and a clean kitchen floor, the work of my hands. I think He also mentioned wisdom here and there throughout Scripture. The Proverbs 31 woman "looked well to the ways of her household", she didn't necessarily do it all herself. Her hands were busy, but sometimes that was spinning, not scrubbing. And yes, I already know she didn't mow grass. But we don't have a goat or sheep. Option #2 - a combination of the two - living life to the fullest while using the good common sense He gave me. By jove, I think it's just the ticket!

  posted at 8:00 AM

Thursday, October 04, 2007
Playing Nice
Dublin's been with us for about a month now I think. At first he pulled on Elway's ears, chewed his head, grabbed onto the collar and tried to drag him around the room. He was relentless in his effort to become Best Friends right this minute, not realizing Elway found it all a bit much. Friendship between a 7 month old and a gentle, semi-worn-out 8 year old is a delicate dance. One wants to do the Cha Cha or Rumba, the other is more interested in a slow Waltz. Dublin is sooooooooooo excited to become best friends right now, this minute, all day long, every second, can we please please please play some more, can we can we can we???!!! Elway is generally more interested in spending time on the deck together, soaking in the sun and watching the squirrels gather nuts.

Things are a bit more settled now. Dublin has learned he can chew on ears and head, but gently. He can grab the collar, but the tug-o-war has to be fun for both of them. And the 'please be my girlfriend' stuff had to stop entirely! I think they've settled on a Two-Step. Compromise. The dance of friendship between animals - interesting to watch. Comparing it to how we humans go about it is certainly food for thought, especially in light of the week I've had. Gentle, slow, mutual - it works better for both species. Some of God's best lessons might be learned through time spent with those having more than two legs, if we just pay attention. You want to learn about good leadership, just watch a flock of geese flying south for the winter. Parenting - watch a mother deer with three fawns, and the dad is nowhere around.

What does the cat think about all this? The jury's still out on that one. Hissing continues from the recesses of the basement. She's taking time making her decision. When in doubt, go slow. Another lesson offered up.

Great stuff, thanks God.


  posted at 8:19 AM

Wednesday, October 03, 2007
A Bit Revived...
Well, the picket fence painting is off the sidebar projects to do. We'll hire painters from here on out, and lawn boys too, and maybe a teenager to plant my flowers in the spring. I'll try to remember there is likely someone out there who will be thankful for the work.

I never made it off the couch yesterday, didn't even get dressed actually. I did get sweet emails, phone calls from both daughters, and Leslie came over and took over. She cared for me, and made dinner. Throughout the day, I thought, "there are people all over praying for all my hurts." It was the salve I needed.

A night sleeping with legs elevated on big pillows, two Tylenol Pm and knee wraps, and I can move a bit today. I've set the big goal of getting to Target to shuffle through the toy aisles and get a birthday present in the mail for Grayson who will be three on Monday. Birthdays are pretty important when you're still in the single digits.

My heart is better. I've had hours and hours to sift through what happened, what lessons should I hold close to my heart, and which ones should I let sift through my fingers, extending forgiveness for hurts I don't feel are justified.

I did tell my husband I thought it was terribly efficient of me to pile all the crud together into one big lump, rather than spreading it thin over an entire week! It's sunny and beautiful fall outside, God's in His Heaven, and all's right with the world, even if it has knee wraps, ice packs and a few stings left over from a hurting heart. Thank you all for the love and prayers. I felt them - even through the Tylenol PM! xoxoxo


  posted at 9:44 AM

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Needing a Revival!
The sections of picket fence are glistening white, worn out black-eyed Susans leaning on them, tired from months of showing off. After two hours spent on a squishy pad, with a paint brush and roller in hand, it was oh so satisfying to stand back and admire my work. There are eight sections to go and this promised to be a rare week in southwestern Pennsylvania - sunny skies for as long as the weatherman predicted. I made my plans. Paint all week, actually finish a project! Oh the sense of accomplishment!

Getting up yesterday morning, after the previous afternoon's work, my knees were a mess. Lumps and bumps, looking much like a late summer melon. Hopefully an appointment with the orthopaedic specialist later this week will bring relief and a solution. Right now I can barely walk, stairs are almost impossible. So no painting. No playing with a grandbaby today. Not much of anything except a date with an ice pack.

On top of that, I was hit yesterday with a hurt so deep I couldn't tell which was worse, my heart or my knees. At the end of the day, it was a relief to climb into bed. Call it a day. Some days are just like that.

Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business......Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. James 4:13-15
I certainly didn't have any of that planned! Who would? I have to ask, do I believe that He's an intimate God, who cares about the day to day stuff of my lilfe? If so, do I believe nothing will touch me today that has not passed through his hand? Including the hurts, the injuries, the limitations?

Today, right now, looking only ahead about an hour or two, I'm going to ice these knees, finish the bills, and then leave this house. You can drive with braces on both knees, right? And I'm going to climb into a booth somewhere with my Bible, devotional and a long cup of coffee, and nurse both my knees and my heart. Yesterday was one of those days, where I felt like I was hit from all sides. I'm hoping today won't be. I'm not sure if I'll get the lessons my well-intending friend thought I should, I hope to long remember what it feels like to hurt, to feel waves of sadness washing over you, to face limitations daily. Whatever the cause, this world is a hard place to live in sometimes. I don't want today to be like yesterday, but I do want to remember what it feels like to be overwhelmed with the things of life. Empathy - walking in someone else's shoes, or knee braces, or hurting heart - I believe that's holy stuff. Thank you Lord, for continuing to send the lessons. I need them. We all need them.
Great are your mercies, O Lord. Revive me. Psalm 119:156


  posted at 7:46 AM

Subscribe in a reader
Past Chats
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008

  • Filed Away Neatly
    Busy Buzz
    Creative License
    Dusty Stuff
    Family Affair
    Girl Talk
    Glimpse of the Heart
    Photo Album
    Slavin' Over the Stove
    The Price is Right

    Search This Blog


    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

    Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

    About Me

    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

    My Complete Profile

    Family is Everything
  • A Chelsea Morning - Barb
  • And Baby Makes Three - Leslie
  • Creative Worship - Chris
  • Flight Song - Mom
  • In The Midst of It - Sarah
  • At A glance - Krissy
  • In A Moment - Mandy

  • Recent Comments

    Fruit of the Spirit

    Family Friendly

    Family Friendly Blogroll []

    Family Friendly Blogroll [-]

    Blog Design by:

    Powered by:
    Powered By Blogger

    Meter by: