Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Ahhh, summer. Lemonade stands, fireworks, road trips, picnics and .... bicker-ball?

That's what our neighbor, Rob, nicknamed my boys' pickup baseball games in our front yard. Poor Rob, relaxing quietly on his front porch after a hard day's work. His tranquility was often smashed by three rambunctious boys - and often a little girl - who tumbled out our front door for for the umpteenth game of baseball, which always turned into bicker-ball. I can hear their shrieking conversations ...

That's the base.
No, THIS is the base!
You're out!
No, I'm safe!
No you're NOT!!
She's on YOUR team!
No, she's not!
Don't hit it so far!
It's your turn to chase it!
No, yours!
And finally, "smack," goes a whiffle ball against someone's head.
I'm telling!

One year a friend's cheek got smacked with a bat, requiring stitches. Those were intense, seemingly interminable years.

The yard is quiet now, the maple too big for ball games, and grass has grown over home plate.

But hearing one more game of bicker-ball wouldn't be so bad.

Friday, June 24, 2011

happy birth-day, Ashlyn Claire

My second granddaughter was born today at 3:48 p.m.
Ashlyn Claire
7 lbs, 10 oz. and 21 inches long
Perfectly healthy!

Dear Ashlyn Claire,
Welcome to the world and our family, sweet girl.
You have parents to guide you,
a sister who'll be the friend who knows you longest,
grandparents to spoil you,
cousins to romp with,
aunts and uncles to confide in.
But most especially you have a God to protect you
all the days of your life.
He's the daddy who's never too tired to listen,
who never runs out of energy or patience.
God is stronger than the tallest tree
and mightier than the fiercest storm.
He's wiser than any king
and more trustworthy than your best friend.
God will hold you when you can't stand
and love you like no one else.
He'll always be on your side and never fail to give you what you need.
He'll never leave you, never turn his back on you.
So when you feel no one understands you,
trust and remember and rest in him.
Happy birth-day, Ashlyn Claire.
Love you already,

your Baba

Thursday, June 23, 2011

happy birthday, Jill!

Happy birthday today - turning 24 - to my lovely daughter-in-love JILL!

Little ones love her, like my granddaughter Ari ... pictured here with Jill last summer in Michigan.

Our dog Ellie LOVES her, and goes a little crazy when Jill comes by the house.

Jill has a lively and loving spirit and is curious to learn, try, and experience new things.

She loves to cook and has a challenge on her hands keeping my son Mark fed!

Jill is artistic, creative, organized (oh, I can only dream!) and learning to garden.

Jill has brought life and love and laughter to our family and I'm so thankful for her.

Have a wonderful birthday, dear Jill!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Say No to Crack

Our yard sale over the weekend netted a mediocre profit. It always does. I rant and rave, saying "WE'RE GONNA REALLY CLEAN OUT THIS HOUSE" but then our merchandise is rather scant.

I've decided the best part of having a yard sale is watching the browsers and customers. I found it so fascinating that I took notes this year. Observed:

- a kid of about 19 helped his parents load some items into their truck. He was wearing flannel pj bottoms and no shoes. I guess it was all they could do to get him out of bed on a Saturday morning.

- we sold - SOLD - our NordicTrack during the first hour of the sale. It's been in our basement since 1987. A lady down the street bought it for $10.

- My policy is to give Bibles away, not sell them. It took a few hours for someone to take the free teen Bible.

- This was a four-neighbor yard sale and we made a rule: no trading/buying each other's stuff! It defeats the goal of de-cluttering! Of course we broke the rule by 6 p.m. the night before the sale. I owed Lynn $12.35 for a quilt, binoculars, and other misc.

- Yard sale customers are a microcosm of society. You see all sorts of examples of people, manners and - especially - child discipline.

- My favorite clothing accessory was worn by a large man. His suspenders, at first glance, looked red, white and blue. Patriotic! But as Bill chatted with him, I carefully studied his suspenders. From a distance of course. They read: "Say no to Crack" and sported a pair of man's pants with a little bare 'crack' peeking over the top. Goodness gracious. Such style.

Monday, June 20, 2011

hearty, happy hostas

Spring was chillier than usual,
then warmer than usual,
then wetter.
Whatever the weather,
my hostas loved it!

If I were a cardinal or a chipmunk,
I'd take a sip from here...

Notice the three varieties in this photo?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dear Dad

circa 1948

Dear Dad,
My earliest memory of you was when I was about three.
You'd roll and wrestle with us on the floor. I loved that.
You cut the grass on Saturdays and I loved the smell.
On Fridays, as you drove into the neighborhood,
I'd be waiting for you on a corner near our house.
You loved that, you told me.
When we moved from Tennessee to Michigan,
the family flew. But you drove with my kitty. You hated cats.
You showed us new places: Lake Superior, Cape Cod,
Mystic Seaport, Maine, the Skyline Drive and Smoky Mountains.
Every summer you took me to Girl Scout camp,
though you didn't care for camping.
When you were light-hearted and funny at the dinner table
is when I loved you most.
You worked hard to provide for our family of six,
and I think it sapped some of the fun out of your life.
I don't think we are very similar,
but God gave us each other for special reasons
and in that I can find peace.
I love you, Dad.
Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

yard sale!

With every yard sale we orchestrate, I say "this is the last one ever!" And of course the next year I find myself having another.

It's not so much about making money. It's about getting stuff out of here, practically giving it to people who want or need a deal. And it's fun to chat with people.

So it is this weekend, joining my neighbors to put on a "multi-family sale." Our house brims with so much that could and should be sold off or given away, but I think it'll take a move before we finally, completely purge.

The crawl space, oh the crawl space. Don't ever buy a house with one! It's a magnet for things you think you should save, but then don't ever look at because they're ... in the crawl space.

Books, knick-knacks, picture frames, old stereo receivers, and kitchen stuff are priced and ready, in the garage. I've promised myself I will NOT wander over to Lynn or Cindy's house and buy THEIR stuff, which is what usually happens.

If you're in the neighborhood tomorrow or Saturday, stop by!

Monday, June 13, 2011

bring on summer!

We're officially out of hibernation around here!
Gone are the short days and long, cold nights and weekly snowstorms.
Gone is the crockpot with chili simmering.
Road trips and get-to-the-cabin-when-we-can and and
yippee-a-new- granddaughter are filling the calendar.
This past weekend was packed to the brim.
Our son Dan, husband to Jenny, dad to Ari and soon-to-be daddy to their second daughter, flew in Friday night to serve in a friend's wedding on Saturday ... to which we were also invited.
Sadly, I took no photos of the adorable bride and groom. I am sorry.
But geez, I look happy enough here to BE the bride.
My son David commented on facebook, "you'll have to excuse my mother,"
which is a really hilarious and so-David comment.

Meanwhile, my brother Mark and family flew in Friday to attend a different wedding in Columbus. So of course we had to see them! He and some extended family joined us for brunch at our house on Saturday.
Then off to "our" wedding and reception, on into the evening.

Look at my adorable kids: Dan, Katie, Mark and daughter-in-love Jill. Jenny had to stay home (so sad) since she is within two weeks of her due date.

So I cooked and cleaned house (as little as possible, of course) in preparation for the weekend and am still enjoying it.

And so we launch headlong into summer
with all its loose dates and plans
and await little Miss Haller to make her debut!

(The hostas are spectacular - photos coming!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chambers on faith

Oswald Chambers made the most of a life cut short at age 43 in 1917. His wife "Biddy" compiled his notes and lectures into what would become the daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest. First published in 1927, Utmost became one of the most-read books of the Christian world.

Nearly 100 years out, Chambers' insightful teachings affirm the timelessness of the Bible, applicable to all of life's questions.

I want God to answer my questions, but often I forget that the simple definition of faith is taking a step without knowing the end result. On June 8, Chambers expresses this concept so well, skillfully comparing the faith walk to a sea journey. Here's a portion of it:

If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened. If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself— begin to have spiritual discernment.

When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more. Examine where you have become sluggish, where you began losing interest spiritually, and you will find that it goes back to a point where you did not do something you knew you should do. You did not do it because there seemed to be no immediate call to do it. But now you have no insight or discernment, and at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-controlled. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:17

Refuse to continue learning. Chambers has challenged me to learn more from God's word and to get out of the harbor of my spiritual complacency.

I love my dog-eared copy of My Utmost, but you can  access the daily readings at http://www.myutmost.org/. And his bio is here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the mother of invention

Our oven is misbehaving, not pre-heating at a reasonable rate. Or, as was the case last evening, not heating up at all. There sat our homemade pizza, all ready to bake. But bake we could not.

So Katie and her sweet friend Olivia - almost our second daughter - wisely suggested the grill. "It says here you just put the pizza on the grill, no pan or foil," they read off Katie's laptop. 

I was game for this alternative pizza-baking adventure, but not that game. I imagined pizza dough oozing right through the grill grate. So we opted for heavy-duty foil and smeared it with butter. Always better with butter! We set the grill between medium and high. Then ...

1. Cook the dough four minutes on one side, then flip.
2. Quickly top with cheese & toppings, "not too many," instructed the girls.
3. Four to five minutes with a quick turn around 'cause our grill is uneven.
4. Wow! One amazing pizza with a slightly wood-fired flavor.

Pardon the out-of-focus photos: I fell victim to a new lens.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

the last summer

summer 1987: David, 3 and Dan, 2

Sometimes it feels like we are dorm-mates, Katie and me.
Her room is on the front corner of the house, my study is on the back, the smallest bedroom which was her room from the day she came home from the hospital until enough brothers had left home to choose a different room.

We each tinker on our computers, write in our journals and read. The upstairs comes alive in summer when Katie is home,
her giggles floating down the hall as she reads something funny.
She runs her laundry, pads up and down the stairs with a snack
and checks in with me on this or that.
Katie's brothers have really truly left, tending to their own lives and careers,
but Katie is still partly mine with one more year of college.
I know this could be our last summer together upstairs, as it probably should be. Haller kids don't stay around long once they finish college.
Darn it, they figure out that the world offers more excitement
and opportunity than the old neighborhood and off they go.

When we moved into this house 21 summers ago, we spent long days at the pool, the town ballfields, and Dairy Depot for ice cream.
I served watermelon in the backyard, homemade popsicles
on the front porch, and cut kids' hair on the deck.
Chapter books were read in the hammock out back.
I helped the kids to grow a garden and
taught them how to ride a two-wheeler.

Summer 1992
With four kids, summer was intense in every way.
The food, the dishes, the undone chores, the slamming doors
and endless bickering all marked summers in this house.
We chased the dog and the ice cream truck.
We awaited vacations at Fireside Inn with feverish anticipation.
More band-aids were administered in one summer
than I now use in five years.

The kids ran lemonade stands and played bicker-ball
in the front yard until fireflies pierced the deepening dusk. 
The boys first learned to cut grass in wobbly rows 
and practiced shooting hoops on the drive. 
My four needed baths every night to wash away
the sweat and grit from long, hot days of play.
We'd help them into their cotton jammies,
comb their sweet hair just right, then read a story
and pray while the crickets sang my babes to sleep.

Dan fishing at Grand Lake, Michigan 1997

Gradually they went from whiffle ball to wives and babies of their own.
And so, this being the last summer with a "child" at home,
I pray I will embrace new summers
without slamming doors,
of grass grown over home plate out front,
and the anticipation of serving popsicles to grandchildren
on the front porch.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

writer's block!

It's not often I suffer writer's block. And I'm working on a post now, but it's just not ready ... so ponder this while you wait. My granddaughter, Ari, is now 17 months old. What a complete angel!

You really should treat yourself to some more photos ... go to: www.danandjennyh.blogspot.com/

Her mom, my daughter-in-love Jenny, is doing great with the camera!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June gardening

Typically in Ohio, we gardeners (and to call myself one is stretching it) must cajole and wait and hope against the cold that our gardens will actually look like something by June. People throwing graduation parties bite their nails, hoping the flower beds won't be embarrassingly bare as the partiers parade through.

While we had our fair share of chilly temps this spring, the rain also fell and fell and fell, all to the great glee of my hostas and other tender spring sprouts.

So here I am on June first, giddy over the hostas in particular, which could be mistaken for a South American jungle specimen. Ooooo, how they love the wet and cool.