Thursday, March 31, 2011

Montana postscript

Love, LOVE this photo that has hung in our family room
for many years. It's soft and sweet and fun.
Katie, David, Mark and I
were riding a ski lift to the top of Big Mountain, Montana.

It was intense at times: riding 5300 miles
with a husband and four kids. 
Feeding them. Laughing at their jokes.
 Boys being boys.
Sleeping in tight quarters with no privacy.
Listening to their grumbling. And they mine.
Holding my little girl's hand as she fell asleep in a tipi
because she saw an enormous spider.

But somehow, I'd do it all over again. 
And again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the one-crate trip: on the road with Big Red

In 1998 we went a little crazy and drove with our four kids to Montana and back. It was, hands down (kids, correct me if I'm wrong) the most memorable and fun family shenangigan ever. A few highlights:

* We rented a 12-passenger van that we named BIG RED. The back bench seat stayed home in the garage, providing us plenty of cargo space. Four kids got three bench seats which of course lent itself to some riotous, sibling-type situations.

* I gave each kid a plastic milk crate for the 15-day trip; an 18-inch square cube. No duffles, no suitcases. If it didn't fit in your crate, it stayed at home! I was that bossy. Hey, we stopped in campgrounds along the way, equipped with laundries. The crates stacked perfectly and worked! We also threw in sleeping bags, two coolers, food crates, propane stove, dishes, pots and pans, and a pillow for every head.

With the exception of a swanky resort in Whitefish, Montana for Bill's business conference, we stayed in KOA campgrounds. I let go of my tacky, Yogi Bear-stereotype of these facilities: they were actually ideal while traveling with four squirrely kids. We'd pull into Devil's Tower, Wyoming or where-have-you and the kids would leap from Big Red and head for the pool or playground, happily occupied while I began assembling the dinner grub. Camping, as one mom aptly put it, is just taking your housework to the woods. But I capitalized on the opportunity to teach the children some life skills ...

We once met a family whose rule was that only children over age 6 went on the family vacations. I thought this a little extreme until our Montana trip. Let's just say our youngest family member, age 8, was tired and cranky approximately 14 and 1/2 days of the 15-day trip.

I went a little overboard with my enthusiasm for history. The kids were ready to gag me as I said for the 15th time in North Dakota: "Gee, imagine being a settler and doing this in a covered wagon!" Poor kids.

We discovered history (Little Bighorn battlefield my favorite), saw buffalo, cooked and did dishes together, got up extra-early to beat the crowds to Old Faithful, slept in a tipi and tiny cabins in rain and wind storms, and rode "to the sun" in Glacier National Park in "jammers." We especially built memories as a family that will last forever.

I have a hunch our kids will find a way to take their little rascals on such an adventure. That is, after they turn 10.

Monday, March 28, 2011

baby's head

I'm enamored by my granddaughter
Ari's head.
It's very nearly perfect.
A little oversized for her body
as a baby's head always is.

Soft whorls of downy hair,
lying lovely: no style needed.

Her head, always warm
against my cheek nuzzling close,
draws me back to days with
my own babies.

And she doesn't mind a bit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

backseat photographer

We sailed into Columbus Thursday at dusk. I sat in the backseat and grabbed my camera. Can you tell I wasn't even using the view finder??

the Columbus skyline

the sun slips behind Riverside hospital

trees silhouetted, on the verge of spring

almost home.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Dear Dad,
It was good to see you for a short visit.
In many ways, you're still Dad.
Witty, sarcastic, winsome.
But hard to really know.
Your spirit fights to stay in life's loop,
like shopping for a truck.
Though you'll never again drive a truck,
 we humor you.
It seems almost the cruel but the right thing to do.

You share memories of life
on an Arkansas farm 75 years ago.
Your house had long porches, a study with a library table
and painted wood floors. No phone or air conditioning.
Yet you don't always know the day of the week.
It seems you search your mind to connect the dots
of confused thoughts.

 But for these visits you know me and we talk and laugh
and for that I am grateful.
love you,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

road buddies

Do you know this place?
It's incredibly amazing!

And I made a quick stop there with my road buddies this week.

The Grove Park Inn
in Asheville, North Carolina.
If you can't stay there, at least park, walk through
the lobby, notice the fireplaces tall enough to walk into
 and see the stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In two years the Grove Park Inn will turn 100.
Might have to plan a stay.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

goodnight moon

In the great green room there was a telephone,
and a red balloon,

and a picture of
the cow jumping over the moon.

Goodnight comb and goodnight brush
goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush

And goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush."

from Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, 1947.

Friday, March 18, 2011

little things like buttons

My husband's red flannel shirt hung on a chair in the bedroom for weeks, 
waiting for me to replace a button.

Today, I hemmed MY new pair of jeans.
THEN, and only then, since the needle and thread were out for MY jeans, 
I sewed the button on my husband's shirt.

Sometimes I'm awfully selfish. 
I want to do better in the little things. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What would St. Patrick think?

St. Patrick. He had it right. British-born, he was enslaved in Ireland, returned to England, and eventually went back to Ireland to minister to the Irish people. He responded to God's call on his life; what must have been a difficult task.

Today is the date of St. Patrick's death. This is what was inscribed on his breastplate:

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ before me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I wonder what St. Patrick would think of all the cartoon-y, shamrock-y. pot-of-gold-y elements of a day named for him?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

we got spring!

After our relentlessly rough and snowy Ohio winter, the first sight of crocus just about takes my breath away! And oh, the bees!
They were buzzing in the crocus to beat the band.

I just can't think about the possibility of snow in April!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where are you, Kumiko?

She joined our family for just a few days in 2002. Kumiko was part of a group of Japanese teenaged students who came to town on an annual cultural exchange.

Kumiko wanted to shop; we took her to the mall where she insisted on visiting Hot Topic. We made pizza, and she put on a Japanese tea ceremony in our kitchen. Kumiko stole our hearts in a few short days with her dimpled smile, sweet spirit, and friendly countenance. I was so drawn to this young girl that I cried when she left.

We lost touch with Kumiko, something I regret terribly, especially now. But I hope to contact her.

Kumiko lived in Sakata City, on the west coast of Japan, almost directly west of Sendai, epicenter of last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

It might be all I can do, but it's also the best I can do ... trusting God has spared Kumiko and her family from the devastation in Japan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi Day!

Last year Pi Day snuck up on me. Not this year!
But I'm still borrowing last year's post ...

"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.
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.

I sure don't remember any Pi Day hoopla when I was in school, but it seems to be a big deal now, particularly among math teachers.

Are you celebrating Pi Day?

Friday, March 11, 2011

this 'n that

An odd and busy week with some new things thrown in.

1. Rain, rain, RAIN. Then a dusting of snow last night.
2. Paint, paint, PAINT. Painting the living room shelves "dover white" is quite the project. After week, almost done!
2. Did I - or did I not - have a sinus infection? Maybe just a bad cold. Better now.
3. I found a friend from many, many years ago on facebook. For sure I'll blog about it soon.
4. Went swimming today with one of my special kids, Jack, with his class at a cool indoor pool, complete with a "lazy river." I could almost pretend it was July!
5. Finished two books. Might blog about those, too.
6. Awakened this morning to news of the horrific tsunami in Japan. I can't believe the videos. My heart and prayers go out.
7. Wore capris out on errands yesterday, just to shake my fist at winter. Winter won, but I felt darned rebellious!

Hmmm, how about a photo? Here's a new one of my favorite little girl, now 14 months old. She just makes me happy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March beauty

March can be gloomy, it's true. Today is cloudy and rainy.
But a stark, striking beauty is revealed in an Ohio winter.
I came across these photos, taken five years ago by
my daughter Katie, then 15.
She and Bill drove out in the country not far from
where we live.

What amazes me is these photos
were shot with a digital point and shoot camera.
Even with a simple camera,
Katie is gifted with an artistic eye.

He has made everything beatiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, March 7, 2011

son of a gun!

I've been under the weather for a few days, battling a cold and sore throat. Fascinated with words and phrases, I wondered how this one came about. A quick google search came up with all sorts of phrases and their origins. Many have several possible origins. Here are some I discovered:

Under the weather is a nautical term that was originated in the British navy. When a sailor was ill, he was kept below decks, and thus, under the weather.

Son of a gun. Babies born on ships were often put to sleep in hammocks swung from the cannons. In many cases, the father of the child was uncertain, so a male baby was called a "son of a gun".

It´s raining cats and dogs. Back in the 1500´s, cats and dogs would sleep up in the thatched roofs. This got very difficult when it rained, since the straw would become slippery and they would slide right off the roof, making it appear that it was indeed raining animals.

Sleep tight. From Bob Vila's tour of famous American homes: In Colonial America (and, presumably in Europe as well) the beds were not of the box spring variety that we enjoy today. The mattress laid on top of a web of ropes. There was a tool - an iron type of gadget that looked somewhat like an old clothes pin but larger - which was used to tighten the ropes when they became too slack. Thus, the expression "sleep tight."

Honeymoon. It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" or what we know today as the "honeymoon".

There are hundreds of others!

My main source is

Saturday, March 5, 2011

diddling around

It's a rainy, I mean RAINY Saturday and I sit sipping coffee which my hubby had ready when I came downstairs. He's a good guy!

You  probably noticed the new photo when you pulled up the blog ... taken by my daughter Katie at our favorite spot in northern Michigan.

I want to jazz up the look of the blog a bit ... so bear with and feel free to comment, too.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, March 4, 2011

dinner for two: no longer feeding horses

I've been asked if it's hard cooking for two. Or other twosomes have said: "it's so difficult to cook for two, we may as well go out!"

Are you kidding me? This time ten years ago, there were three teenaged boys in this house. Boys who ate and ate. And ate! Boys who - I'm not making this up - would peer in the pantry immediately after dinner. Boys who - despite my planning enough crock pot chicken for a second dinner - scarfed up all but one measly chicken strip. Boys who played tennis and baseball and soccer. Boys who, God love 'em, were active and growing and hungry all the time. I nicknamed them my horses.

A favorite memory is the day I wandered over to my neighbor Cindy's house at dinner time. On her stove simmered the tiniest pots of corn and noodles. I don't think I own pots that small.

"Is Ted out of town?" I asked.
"No," Cindy answered, a little confused.
With two girls and no boys to feed, Cindy's cooking duties - or at least the quantities - seemed like child's play.

Well, the horses have moved out and on. They must feed themselves, thank goodness. At my end, cooking's a relative breeze. If I make a pot of beef stew, we eat it for a couple of nights and freeze the rest. Same with chili, soups and lasagna. Our freezer may as well have "Stouffers" stamped on it. 

Of course, I miss my boys: the clatter and clutter and when arriving home, the first question they'd ask: "what's for dinner, Mom?"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I win!

I think it's official, girls: I was the first to set out a jar of tea to brew this year. And I have photos to prove it!

what: my smaller-sized tea jar
when: February 28, 2011
where: snowbank by our driveway
why: to be first and I wanted some tea!

I might call it snow tea because the snow
does an outstanding brewing job!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

happy birthday, Anne!

Fifty years ago today,
my dad called from the hospital to tell me I finally had a sister.
That call made me the happiest 6-year-old alive!
Time, distance, raising families and taking different life journeys separated Anne and me until last year. She reached out and we forged a new relationship.
We've gotten to know each other and are now sharing a spiritual journey that's unbelievably deep, rich and real.
Best of all, I saw her open her heart to God fully.
My sister is one of the bravest, most loving, honest people I know.
Today I honor and wish my Anne a very happy 50th birthday.
Take a look at us through the years:

Playing sister games ~ 1964

Little sister sends big sister off
to Girl Scout camp ~ 1967

1981(?) ~ really young and large-spectacled adults

August 2009 with our brother Mark

Happy birthday, Anne. I love you!