Wednesday, March 31, 2010


South Carolina ...
the Palmetto state.
Islands and beaches to the east,
mountains on the western edge.
Alligators and
magnificent, historic homes.
Remains of plantations.
Marshes and tidal rivers.
Home of my two brothers, the kings of hospitality.
I rather like South Carolina.

Out on Spring Island we explored the remains of a 19th century plantation.
A wealthy man named Edwards built it and as with most plantations,
an enormous cotton crop was produced by the labor and sweat of over 300 slaves.

The plantation resembled this over 150 years ago...

And today it looks like this ...

And a passage came to mind.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 5:19-21

I like "treasures" ... nice stuff, new clothes, and quality bedsheets.
But still, that passage came to mind.
I hope the plantation owner stored up treasures in heaven,
that is, things that will outlast his plantation,
as well as on earth.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Happy birthday, dear Grace.
You are ....
A devoted friend for over 30 years.
Like a mother, like a sister.
Cross-stitch teacher.
'Password' partner: the best!
Maker of popcorn.
Spiritual encourager.
Perceptive of people and their character.
Lover of life, beauty, adventure.
Encourager in life.
Deserving of a fantastically happy birthday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

favorite of the week

I'm practicing with my new camera. What do you think?

I thought so.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm more than a little fascinated by architectural lines and signs. They're all around! The humorous and humbling, the stately and sobering. As we continue our southern spring ramble, I'm capturing signs and lines I like.

A charming little well-kept secret lies on the South Carolina coast, away from Hilton Head and Charleston. Beaufort. (Pronounce it correctly: Bew-furt) The church my brother and sis-in-love attend dates back to the 18th century, and some of the residents in the burial ground served in the revolutionary war.

Beaufort managed to escape most of the Civil War's destruction, leaving the city with street after street of magnificent homes and stately live oak trees.

Another southern gem is Greenville, South Carolina.
Here you'll find the best examples of downtown revitalization.

This pedestrian bridge replaced an old vehicle bridge, revealing the beautiful and natural falls of the Reedy River.

Any city with a baseball team is good for me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The empty nesters are on a ramble. Taking in some beautiful scenery in the Blue Ridge mountains ... as well as relaxing and catching up with each other over some delicious food. Have a look ...

Somewhere I have a photo very similar to this one, taken on Clingman's Dome in the Smoky Mountains, over 30 years ago. I'll have to find it ...

Friday, March 19, 2010

daughters ... and sons

It's been said that mothers lose their sons when they marry and/or move away. A sort of emotional detachment. I'm discovering that a successful life requires young men to assert their independence. Slaying dragons and all that.

But daughters? I hear that daughters tend to keep their emotional strands connected to their mothers.

While for years I reminded myself that my ultimate purpose in raising children is to release them into the world, the theory has proven much easier than the practice.

Darn it, my little old mom heart wasn't too crazy about letting my boys go, though I knew I must. And once they marry, or drive into the sunset for a career, or become a father, it seems only logical and proper that we cut the apron strings. How can a boy become a man with a hovering mother?

But daughters, at least my daughter, feel different. Katie is 20 now, not fully separated from me, but no longer dependent either. Her voice over the phone rings of growth, maturity, openness. Many of the teenage tensions have faded, giving way to a sweeter friendship between Katie and me. Sometimes our roles even seem to be reversing.

Letting those boys go: old hat by now. But I'm thankful to have a daughter who'll hang around my heart awhile. Until she finds her own dragons. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

let them eat cake on Pi day

"It's Pi day today," commented my daughter-in-love Jill last evening. A lemon cake sat on the kitchen counter, so of course I thought she meant "Pie Day" and oh dear, here I'd made a CAKE rather than a PIE on Pie Day.

Nope, Pi Day, March 14 or 3.14, the mathematical configuration for Pi. Did I say that right? Gosh, I hate math and stink at it. I only know 3.14 means Pi, somehow. Feel free to correct me. I should google it. The ignorance is killing me, so I will ... from

Pi, Greek letter is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th. Pi = 3.1415926535…

So, we made our cake into a lemon "Pi Cake," not to be confused with a lemon pie.

It's March in the midwest .... we must entertain ourselves.

Did you celebrate Pi Day?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

encouragement in a fabric store

Encouragers appear in unlikely places ... like fabric stores.

This week I made, oh, a third trip to Joann's fabrics in my quest for a fabric to recover some cushions. No indecision this day, no sirree. I resolved not to leave that store empty-handed.

Though I try to shake it off, a funny feeling washes over me when I enter a fabric store. Melancholy. Slight anxiety. Sentimentality.

My mother and I spent considerable time together in fabric stores through my teen years. She hated to sew, but I'd grown to love it, and she loved that I loved it. So off we'd go. In my earliest sewing days, the nearest fabric store was housed in an old colonial house in downtown Avon, Connecticut. I mean old, like 200 years. The ceilings were so low that our eyes burned from the fabric fumes. Fabric fumes? Yes, mom and I were convinced of fabric fumes.

Saturday afternoons found us studying pattern books and strolling past fabric bolts. We let our fingers gently brush the ends of each fabric, as if testing for the right weight and texture. I still do this today.

All these years later, I often visit a fabric store alone and I feel, well, a bit lonesome. The girl inside me needs a woman who's willing to give opinions on colors, study pattern books ... and touch fabrics with me.

This week's visit: looking, touching, remembering. Right colors, wrong weight. Right weight, wrong colors. A woman older than me was busy selecting quilting fabric and I asked her, "excuse me, do you think any of these fabrics would work for covering cushions?"

I knew full well they would not, but she looked friendly and experienced.

"No, probably not. Too lightweight." She smiled. "And do you want all cotton, or a blend?"

"Oh, yeah. Probably a blend." I thanked her and moved on.

Thirty minutes later, checking out with my brightly colored floral piece, the clerk ran her hand across my selection and said, "ooooh, I love this!"

I answered, "oh, I'm so glad!" Then felt a little silly.

My unwitting encouragers had stepped up. It felt good. And I realized we all need encouragers, and to be encouragers. It's one reason we're all on this earth together.

So encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:18

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

a most forgettable spring break

spring break 1996*

An article in Sunday's paper caught my eye: "A Break from Tradition: Ohio offers unusual ideas for spring vacation." The article details some "exciting" and money-saving spring break alternatives. Maple syrup festivals! Museums! Cleveland's Expo Center! And THREE zoos: Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

The writer has nothing on our family, who hit upon the idea of a "stay-cation" in 1996. What we failed to take into account was the minor detail of taking our kids along. Four kids who, it turned out, seemed to be suffering acute "bad humors" as my mother used to put it.

Or the stars misaligned.
Or bad karma.
Nah. The kids were just downright bad those three days.

Our destination: Salt Fork state park in east-central Ohio. Ohio's largest park! Lakeside cabins! Indoor pool at the lodge! Miles of hiking trails! A virtual nirvana, it would seem.

Well. Immediately upon arrival, our darling foursome conspired to make this the getaway from you-know-where.

Interminable tattling.
A sudden aversion to board games.
Uncontrollable, obnoxious squealing and laughing.
Bodily noise-making. Lots of that.

Now, Bill and I were fully capable of and experienced in discipline. But the lakeside cabin was, at best, cramped quarters for six and the weather too cold and rainy to banish four kids outside for the day. And night. Maybe we were just tuckered out parents, too winter-weary, too annoyed, too something to improve the situation. What can I say? Family life isn't perfect.

We hiked the slippery, muddy trails. For 45 minutes. We swam in the lodge pool: the one saving activity of the trip. At wit's end, we ventured to the nearest town to check out a well-known diner. We ate at that diner three times in two days for entertainment.

On the drive home, I promised myself: we just took our first and last spring break in Ohio. I also wondered if perhaps the children had outfoxed us: they weren't crazy about the idea from the start, and their minds wandered to warmer destinations for our cold Ohio spring breaks.

Local spring break? A romantic get-away with your honey, perhaps. But you might consider leaving the kids at home, especially if you have four who are in a season of acute bad humor.

* Dad - trying to be postive.
   Katie, 6 - the persecuted, dejected youngest.
   David, 12 - the "angel" oldest, undoubtedly with something up his sleeve.
   Mark, 8 - kicking someone under the picnic table.
   Dan, 11 - hoping he won't be caught.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

birds heard

I heard them this morning. In fact, they might actually have awakened me before my alarm.

BIRDS SINGING. Hallelujah, it's a glorious day! The return of birds means - I don't need to tell you - melting snow (we still have an impressive amount), tiny swelling buds on the maple, crocus poking up by month's end, a sun warming up for its summer gig, yes, spring, spring, SPRING!

My study is on the south side of our house, catching the afternoon sun. You can call me silly, but on Friday I put on shorts and a t-shirt, threw open the shade and positioned myself in front of that window for a good hour. Heavenly!

This sort of blooming hasn't quite happened, but I am dreaming of it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lie Lady Lie

I accidentally, providentially just stumbled across the fact that today, March 4, is National Grammar Day. This gives me acceptable reason to remind readers of the correct use of LAY and LIE. Oh, my poor family endures my incessant reminders. If they'd just get it right, the reminders would cease. (Or, as I heard on an ad the other night, a woman says, "I don't want to control my husband, I just want him to do what I say!")

Incorrect use of these two tiny words permeates everyday conversation, television, the internet, even newspaper and magazine writing. Unbelievable.

So, class, here we go. Part of this lesson is borrowed from the NGD website.

If you exclude the meaning "to tell an untruth" and just focus on the setting/reclining meaning of lay and lie, then the important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

This is in the present tense, where you are talking about doing something now: you lie down on the sofa, and you lay down a book.

Eric Clapton's song Lay Down Sally can actually help you remember the difference between lay and lie ... because he's wrong.

To say “lay down Sally” would imply that someone should grab Sally and lay her down. If he wanted Sally to rest in his arms on her own, the correct line would be “lie down Sally.”

We don't have to judge Clapton on his grammar; we can still love his music and at the same time know that it's grammatically incorrect! In fact, that helps us remember, and we can love him more.

If you're more of a Bob Dylan fan, you can remember that "Lay Lady Lay" is also wrong. The lyrics should be “Lie lady lie, lie across my big brass bed.”

OK, so that was the present tense. It's pretty easy; you lay something down, people lie down by themselves, and Eric and Bob can help us remember.

From comes this simple clarification of the whole mess.

Lay means "to place something down." It is something you do to something else. It is a transitive verb.

Incorrect: Lie the book on the table.
Correct: Lay the book on the table.
(It is being done to something else.)

Lie means "to recline" or "be placed." It does not act on anything or anyone else. It is an intransitive verb.

Incorrect: Lay down on the couch.
Correct: Lie down on the couch.
(It is not being done to anything else.)

The reason lay and lie are confusing is their past tenses.

The past tense of lay is laid.
The past tense of lie is lay.
Incorrect: I lay it down here yesterday.
Correct: I laid it down here yesterday.
(It is being done to something else.)

Incorrect: Last night I laid awake in bed.
Correct: Last night I lay awake in bed.
(It is not being done to anything else.)

To sum it up, just remember this. In our house, two common phrases are:
1. I think I'll LIE down for awhile: I'm tired.
2. "LIE down!" as a command to our dog.

Please, let's at least pass good grammar on to our dogs by telling them to lie down, not lay down!

Class dismissed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

another "birthday"

Two months ago today we spent New Year's Eve watching the ball drop and waiting by the phone for news of our grandchild's birth. This young lady now has two months of life under her diaper. She's smiling (and likes shopping: this photo was taken in Target by Jenny with her phone) and last night slept six whole, blessed hours at once.

Happy 2-month birthday, Ari. Pretty soon we'll be reading Goodnight Moon and baking cookies together!

happy birthday, Anne!

I remember the day my sister was born: March 1, 1961. I was a six-year-old with two bothersome brothers and a little sister was desperately needed.

So my dad's call from the hospital brought utter joy: a girl named Anne! Though I wasn't fully aware at the time, my sister had a scary start to life and we were blessed to have her.

Anne became my little doll, my very own baby. I played with her, helped with her feeding and folded mountains of cloth diapers with our mom. Learning so many new skills, I suppose I was unwittingly being homeschooled, since I didn't begin school until that fall. 

Anne was special, my only sister, although sometimes I forgot and treated her like dirt. We shared some fun times: playing in the snow in Connecticut and playing "flip and up-go" on the living room floor (a secret, stupid game). And always, we were a united front against our brothers. (Can you believe this photo? Wow.)

In recent years we've renewed our sister friendship through concern for our dad, two weddings and I guess finally realizing we should. And want to. Last August Anne drove here all alone, from St. Louis, for my son's wedding.  That was a sweet message of love to me.

But today I honor YOU, Anne. You are what no one else can be: my one and only sister in the whole world. We share a past as no one else can. Be blessed and celebrated this day! I love you.

As I began writing, I re-read last year's post and decided it still said it best.
So this post is borrowed from last year!