Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day story

July


Outside my window, some piles of weeds I'm finally getting around to pulling. Cloudy skies and seventies. Do-rag back on my head. Dirt under my nails. This is good.

Giving thanks for friends. For friends who know me. For friends on the worst days. For friends I can be vulnerable with. For friends who stand me back up with scriptures. For friends who worry for me. All of them lift me up and push me back onto the path.

In the school room, a summer writing workshop with a friend's daughter and Lanie. But not today. Working on September schedules and stuffing myself full with last minute books and book purchases--because JUST ONE MORE! Talked to a friend today about homeschooling and podcasts and days off.

From the kitchen, lists of meal ideas for breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. Cookbooks spread out. How to fill a finicky tummy. I would never be a bento mom if not driven to it by a picky eater whose love language is gifts.

I am. Regardless of what someone says or thinks or imagines. Jesus knows me. I'm beginning to realize how much stronger that makes me, when I believe the truth about who I am, and who I am in Christ, than someone's limited perception of me.
 

I don't want to forget, the year between the army and the sea and I felt sinking. As hard as it was, it comforts me now. I didn't sink. I rose stronger. On, on. In the hard things, on the hard days, on, on. When she said, "I worry about you." I said, "Sometimes I do too." Fix a focus. On, on.

Around the house, a yard day and quiet at home. Erin wants to swim. And I have to stop and experience summer and time with my kids over moving from task to task. God, help me to be present. I feel it calling again--the hunkering hermitting before the start of a new school year.

I am hearing kids' home videos. Someone's lawn mower. The hush of overcast skies.

A view of my favorite things:
 
after the writing workshop


morning light

sunflowers, a favorite!

besties

I'm not sure when I took this picture

watercolors

docking station

more art

lunch that's not a peanut butter sandwich

Cosmo, who really does spill over the sides

art show at art camp

She's a favorite!

Nella, by Erin


At the table, whether schooling, eating, drinking tea--my heart, always.


Monday, July 24, 2017

And still counting (10,686-10,710)

the purple pod vine from Suzanne's garden
a week of art camp
chances to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a long time
Lori's smile
Tracey's calls

long thoughts on motherhood
long thoughts on legacy
long thoughts on self care
too much sleep
a movie invite to Michi's

poetry books in the mail
a movie night out for my kids with their friends
Saturday breakfast with my man
time to touch up roots
a new writer on 66 Books

homeschool planning
another year at home with my kids
all the good books
an evening walk with Lanie
Kristine, who worries about me

worship on Sunday
a great message on generosity
ice water
a fun read 
enough chocolate ice cream to fill four cones

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wanted: blender--the misery antidote

There's this yummy shake we had this summer that I would make more often if our blender hadn't quit working.

It has frozen bananas, ice cubes, maple syrup, cocoa powder, almond milk, a splash of vanilla and a smidge of salt. The blender quits on me when I add the frozen bananas, even if I chop them up first. I think I tried three times to coax it into performance. It's time for a new blender.

We were at a store yesterday and I walked down an aisle to check out prices and features of different blenders. Lanie was hopeful I'd get a new blender because she really loves that shake. She said it's making her miserable that we don't have a blender, and that I'm probably making myself miserable too and I just don't know it.

We're talking about the blender still, right?

It was good for a laugh. 





Monday, July 17, 2017

And still counting (10,662-10,685)

friends who catch tears
scriptures
the heart of things
Rebecca

Tracey
Shane
Marshall's Mom
Christy
Kellie

full tables
full weekend
visits with my sister
assistant directing with Kathy
the video team

worship
iced coffee
a sunny day at the pool
that man of mine
an afternoon nap

a pool cover up
shopping with Erin
Lanie's hugs and help
fun with a summer writing workshop
Jesus

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday night dinners

For years, Linda was a regular at our table. We soaked up pieces of French bread in a peppery olive oil and nearly made a meal of that with a glass of wine. When we went gluten-free, we skipped pre-meal dining, unnoticed. The wine, however, stayed.

I had flowers in a vase every week, except in winter. Music played throughout the rooms. In warmer months, we sometimes walked through the garden or in the field and talked. And often we just sat at Joel's table, with the warm, yellow light of the chandelier glowing warmer as evening wore on. Oh, the life.

I kept an eye out for her arrival. She took her time backing her car up to park. "Miss Linda's here!" one of the kids would call if they caught her. And Linda walked inside with a cheery, "Hello-hello!"

We talked about education, books, gardening, life. She told me about her friends or growing up or plans she had with my dad. We often hugged goodbye. Mostly, Linda was our regular on Friday nights, and occasionally other families joined us.

These months, it's been hard not having her here. Our Friday night dinners, once thoughtfully planned, have become a Friday night free-for-all. I pull out leftovers. The kids fend for themselves with breakfast for dinner if they don't want what I'm reheating. It feels like I had to flip a switch to not even think of Linda and Friday nights together anymore, and in that flip switching, had to suppress the great loss of friendship. It feels like a lifetime ago.

When my dad died, my table became empty. I can't even begin to grasp Thanksgiving yet. And often I've wondered, heartaching, "Who will fill my table?"

Tonight, I prepare a table for twenty. The guests are all bringing a side or dessert and we are providing the grilling. If the rain holds off, we will line tables up end to end down the patio. If it doesn't, we'll crowd around the dining room table.

Linda was a quiet one and would have loved just watching all the bustle and activity. Later we would have talked about our favorite parts of the evening, if she were here. In my mind, and in my heart, her sweet memory is here. It's the first Friday since our last one with her (in January) that we've hosted a dinner.

Oh, how I miss her. This day a mix of joy and sorrow.

Life is a feast. Share it and savor.

Monday, July 10, 2017

And still counting (10,631-10,661)

iced coffee
his day off
family of four at the pool
frogs
blue cheese

books in from the library
books in the mail
a movie, and I'm 23 again
the surge of youth
weeds pulled

Cindy's words on unpacking
a book, finished
texts with friends
days in shadow
a cucumber on the vine

podcasts by Sarah Mackenzie
cardboard recycled in the garden
podcasts by Julie Bogart
a Monday agenda
kids splashing in blue

the sound of sisters up late talking
coffee on the rich roast setting
the video team
hours in the garden
weeds pulled

a post on forgiveness
worship
thoughts on community
unexpected circumstances
and the wrestle it brings

bug spray

Friday, July 7, 2017

Coffee

I had my first cup of coffee when I was twenty or twenty-one. I drank it black with a little bit of sugar, like my dad drank it. One time, my mom was fixing me a cup of coffee during a visit at their house.

"Do you take yours with sugar?" she asked.

"Yes, but not cream," I told her.

"Whoops," she said. She'd already put the cream in. "Well, I'll make it extra good." And she proceeded to put in even more cream. She always drank hers with cream and sugar.

***


I can't remember when I became a regular coffee drinker.

Shane dramatizes the time I sold his coffee maker at a yard sale. I got $2 for it, but as he tells it, I sold it for a quarter.

We had a Keurig that replaced his coffee maker--mostly because a friend of mine introduced me to the magic of K-cups, and hazelnut coffee pods, and the sweet little basket of assorted flavors she'd present during a mom's coffee hour. I loved it. I lobbied for a Keurig. Shane wanted to know the cost per cup, K-cup versus ground pound. I had no idea. Presentation doesn't consider practical matters like cost.

I got the Keurig.

Our Keurig was moody after enough time, occasionally spewing out only half cups or turning itself off in protest to my constant abuse, I mean, addiction, I mean, well, use. Finally, it broke--at four in the morning. I pulled out a back-up 4-cup mini that barely heated the water. Dismal. Disappointing.

That was three years ago, and we switched over to Bunn. I loved that coffee maker because it could brew single cups of hot goodness from pods, grounds, tea bags and loose leaves. It was a multi-functional dream. And the coffee was the hottest of any coffee maker I had ever used. Delightful.

One day, it may have been after a remark online someone had made about the absurdity of blowing money on K-cups, I began to reconsider the 10-cup maker. We drink enough coffee around here to justify it. And I felt like I was dropping big bucks too often to keep up with the demand around here. Money that could be better spent on books. One coffee maker went on sale that caught my attention with its cup, large cup, tumbler, half-carafe or full carafe menu; brewing strength options, iced coffee feature and frother (it's a self-contained PARTY). I got it for Shane, ahem, for Father's Day. I couldn't wait to use it.

***

A few years ago, I had a wonderful cup of coffee at a friend's house. She fixed a delicious homemade coffee cake, and poured two mugs of hot coffee. It was a treat.

"Do you take cream?" she asked. And, sometime over the years, I went from sugar to cream and sugar.

"Yes," I replied.

She heated the cream in the microwave.

"I like heated cream in my coffee," she explained.

I looked around for sugar and didn't see any. She didn't offer any. I thought to myself, well, I won't ask. I'll drink it like she does.

That first sip. Shocking. I commented, "This is really good. I usually put sugar in my coffee, but this is amazing without it."

She said, "Good coffee doesn't need sugar. And this is good coffee. It's German."

I kid not: it was the best cup of coffee I had ever had on American soil. I had been on a search in the stores for German coffee since that experience. I never found it, and I never really looked that hard to be honest, because the convenience of pods seemed sufficient. And there was always sugar to make up for the bitterness of convenience.

***

So anyway, I'm at the store looking at coffee beans and ground coffee since we have taken a step away from pods, and my eyes landed upon the top shelf where there was GERMAN COFFEE. I reached for it immediately in its air-vacuumed brick and paper wrapping, like a GIFT! We still had a pot or two left of the Wegman's brand, and I kid not, I held that block package in my hands almost daily, like I was trying to determine the gift inside by running my hands over the wrapping. (I have issues.)

The day I peeled the wrapping off and snipped a corner off an end to pour it into the canister--the grounds inhaled the breath of life and the package expanded, much like my heart in anticipation. I was probably drooling. I could hardly wait for that first sip, and it did not disappoint.

It is my go-to coffee now. (I recently snagged four bricks of it to put in the freezer. I also, on a whim, got a less worthy, neighboring, flavored blend. Bah! Boo!)

It is smooth, rich, and creamy without even adding cream--though I do. And I do sprinkle in a bit of sugar, just because old habits die hard. (And Whole30 kinda wrecked me for drinking coffee black.)

It is perfect hot. Or cold. Or even reheated.

Oh, the little things.

Life's a feast. 


Monday, July 3, 2017

And still counting (10,599-10,630

the Monday after dance season
a full week on slow

chocolate mini cupcakes
flowers in vases
table setting in a field
barefoot kiddos running in the grass
laughter and poetry together



an empty teapot
cauliflower soup
visits with Lori
Christy and kids at the pool
tables on sale

watermelon
days at home
Rebecca plus nine
frogs in little hands
a snake skin for him to take home

grasses cut
bird song
leftovers
early morning starts
curriculum in the mail

worship on a Thursday morning
catching sunrises
snoballs and Italian ice


Lisa's homecoming
a bestie, officially homeschooling two

days home
German coffee
red wine
afternoon naps
reading on the couch on a Saturday


blue cheese and steak
that man of mine
lightning bugs
the video team
sunsets through the trees