Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Wonder

". . . Speak unto every feathered fowl,
And to every beast of the field,
Assemble yourselves, and come:
Gather yourselves on every side . . ."
Ezekiel 39:17

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
And one of them shall not fall on the ground
Without your Father."
Matthew 10:29

"Fear ye not therefore,
ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:31

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sonorous slumber slakes sorrow of swollen.
Sunset, sunrise segue swift semblance of skin.
Sameness supplants surgical sensations.
Sweet smoothie soothes swelling and sprouts smile
(small in stature).
Supportive siblings scramble soundlessly.
Schoolwork sits silently swirled in sunbeams.
Sounds of simple soundtracks signal swept-away status.
So soon, so soon . . . see something special in sameness.

Signed, Sojournor sufficiently suffused in sleep
* * * * *

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quotidian Musings

Eyelids flutter, sheets rustle signifying another waking moment. Life. It carries us aloft without consent, regardless of complaint. Rapturous anticipation does not hasten an event’s arrival; foot-dragging dread slows it not a jot. The day arrives just as intended, just as expected, without fanfare or warning.

So today I stare into the mirror and brush the tresses which daily grow, yet remain much the same. The hum of the daily routine varies with the advent of oral surgery for one, a new math lesson for another, emotional mountain-climbing for a third, and so on. Dust still settles on the bureau as usual, though a hastily scrawled reminder of medicinal needs floats down in its midst.

Temperature readings near the 100 mark provoke tendencies to sit amongst the indoor coolness without moving, yet a heaving tummy or throbbing cheek prompt sprinting and diving. A washcloth moistened with coolness serves to cleanse and comfort in one sweeping motion. Beads of sweat forming on a brow betray the one posing as Florence Nightingale. The alchemy of conditioning hot air to cool performed by one allows another to sip hot tea for solace without melting into a puddle thus allowing the continued doling out comfort to a third. (“…as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”)

Quiet repose gives the mind license to wander, yet coupled with poorly-slept nights one finds little strength for navigation. Thus, floating ensues and musing reigns where reasoned lists and scheduled activity should lead. Memories flood in recalling other bedside vigils, post-surgical care-giving, and days filled with needs met by a body starved for sleep. I sink down, lids drop reflexively, mind spreads wings … oh to be at the seashore just now …

Walking along the seaside mementos wash ashore. Bending, grasping, inspecting, and assessing fills wondrous minutes of pleasure. The finest of treasures fall from between fingers to hide safely in the cotton-pouched nooks in a cloak. Oft times such mesmerizing bits of minutiae lie forgotten until the next time a chilly hand seeks refuge from the wind, possibly many months or even years hence. Ah … once finger pad meets sandy remnant the mind quickly opens sequestered thoughts of bygone events. The tittle of sand wedged alongside the fragment of shell barely glossed with the iridescence of a former dweller does not impart information of the geography or biology of the shell, but rather the memory of the tang in the air, the warmth of a hand-clasping grip, the stunning display at sunset. The heart mingles with the mind and reproduces joy met elsewhere, yet magically unearthed in clear detail in this very moment. That bit of flotsam from a shoreline encapsulates a moment of pure rapture safely stored in the heart for future pondering and delight.

Not only sight or touch, but also scent and sound produce a time-warped return. That “special” song still causes one to freeze and smile uncontrollably locking eyes with that “special” someone. Pumpkin pies emit much more than a sweet aroma portending a treat at meal’s end. Memories release into the brain as the olfactory mechanisms import the key. Our bodies possess abilities far beyond those needed merely to sustain life from this moment to the next. Each moment we breathe in we upload a potential trigger for a future rerun of this present. Oh, if only all the reruns could be solely of the beautiful … but surely that need not be mentioned or dwelt upon in a day devoted to relieving pain and pureeing meals. One merely hopes that the supping of a “deluxe” dollop of mashed potatoes and rutabagas laced with goat cheese today leads to recollections most delicious tomorrow.

I hear the call of one in need. I shall close out this mental dawdle and return to the tasks at hand, which just may lend me a few moments of blissful reminiscence somewhere down the path of this quotidian journey.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Respite Wednesday

"Thou that dwellest in the gardens,
The companions hearken to thy voice:
Cause me to hear it."

Song of Solomon 8:13

* Elizabeth made this sign for me (at age six).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Would You Like to Meet My Sister Cindy?

Well, if you do, you'll have to settle for this blog because she doesn't have one of her own (in fact, she barely checks email outside of work). I talk to her on the phone nearly every week (for hours sometimes ... like last Saturday). I vacation with her often (Disneyworld '07, Disneyland '08). But I still miss my li'l sis. We live with a continent between us, but a lifetime of memories bridge the gap with each heartbeat. She's my staunchest ally, greatest cheerleader, and loyal sidekick regardless of the routine. No matter what life throws our way we come out on top with our arms wrapped around each other.

We may share little similarity in taste and style, but we go together like Pooh & Tigger, Martin & Lewis, ketchup & mustard. You won't find us bickering over the last dribble of sweet tea (hers!) or spoonful of lima beans (mine!). While I potter around in an english cottage filled with books and chintz and teapots, she lives with sleek black leather, lacquer-red walls, and an ipod. I dig in the gardens and gather armfuls of roses; she avoids the dirt and enjoys manicures. While I drive a king-sized SUV or crew-cab pickup (how else does one transport all those kids and HARPS and garden goodies?), she sports around in a petite SUV that gets GREAT MILEAGE. (Did I mention she's the thriftiest gal I've ever met? Also unlike me. ) I have five kids; she has five cats. And on and on the list goes.

But ... our "complimentary" personalities fit tightly into an embrace that has carried us through life on a lark filled with laughter and laced with tears. If I need her I just call and I'm always "on call" for her. We've climbed mountains sheer-faced with challenge, danced above the tree line hidden by the fluffy clouds of wonder and enchantment, slogged through the muckiest of valleys, and run like the wind when needed. She picked up and moved a continent away nearly 10 years ago to find the life she always dreamed of. She has a powerful position with a great company and an adorable husband. (She married full-blooded Italian descent; I chose full-blooded German roots -- and we're a couple of rag-tag mixes of this-and-that.) When you mix it all together and throw it in the air it rains down happiness and laughter and endorphins galore when we get together.

In the tune box at right I have added two "Soundtracks" for our life. The first "Music Box Dancer" became a smash hit just prior to my departure for a high school summer exchange trip to Norway. I loved that little tune. My sister missed me dreadfully that summer and every time this music box song came on the radio she would cry. I also have one of those "make-me-cry" reactions when I hear Helen Reddy's "Candle on the Water" from Disney's Pete's Dragon. I sang that to my sister many a time as kids and I still stand by it: "I'll be your candle on the water, my love for you will always burn ..."

In my nostalgic mood I scrolled through some old pics. We have very little record of our childhood, but what I have speaks volumes of our bond. Hope you enjoy this little peek into the past. ; )

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Wonder

* * * * *
Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Miss Elizabeth on her first birthday

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Last Rose of Summer

I deftly reach for the white jasmine tea and then hesitate, choosing orchid oolong instead. Yesterday we sipped the heady jasmine elixir and shared; giving not a thought to the fact that today you would be spreading your wings once again, leaving the nest for the second leg of your journey in life away at university. As you lovingly fingered the bindings on the familiar books that line the shelves of our keeping room, gently handled the favorite teacup full of our special brew, playfully plumped up the chintz-covered cushion at your elbow, wistfully gazed off into the swaying beauty of the willows that seemed to dance in time to the Celtic tunes filling the air … I watched you store up memories of sight, sound, fragrance, and touch. This brimful heart for home will follow you up hills, down through valleys, and ever anon down the path chosen specially for you. I playfully stopped up my ears and hummed loudly whenever you uttered, “I don’t want to go; I’m going to miss you all so much.” And yet my heart wrenched each time I pictured our final summertime hug.

Oh, I know we have a month of summer’s season left on our calendar, but the advent of college entrance last year changed so much of our particular way of peering at life from behind the waterfall. I have always enchanted you children with the notion that we live in a special world far beyond the eyes of all but a few. Only those who come into our home and sit with us over tea or pray with us over our deepest needs can ever really know what goes on here at Wisteria Cottage (and Willow Cottage before, and Waterford Cottage even earlier). For when the Lord laid out the plans for our family He chose a very different path for our feet to follow; our life does not look like the lives of those around us. Special needs and medical frights found balance in love and commitment and hope, above all else hope. Security came from knowing nothing is impossible with God, accompanied by acknowledgement that the path will surely be rock-studded and steep, dotted with valleys shadowed and frightful. Doom would surely triumph without hope. We built our special life on hope alone; and hope remains the wellspring of our life abundant.

As the gates close behind the retreating vessel bearing you and linens and books and ONE BIG HARP wrapped up in the enveloping cloud of hope for the future, I smile and wipe away that trickle on my cheek that reminds me that you have grown up into a fine young lady. Yet I shall never lose the memory of your soft sweetness snuggled into my breast, looking up to me and smiling. The cd player sings out “You Raise Me Up,” and I see you soaring not away from us, but to you – the you planned by God before you saw the light of this world. Though this summer held devastation for some dreams, I proudly watched your beauty shine through in forgiveness and honesty and hope.

Ah yes, hope … for though it feels like summer has ended and my imagination runs away with the idea that the last rose has faded, a simple step out onto my new decking dispels the rumor and supplies the truth: My garden lies awash in roses. The fragrance of damask and tea and sweet citrus hangs heavy in the breaths that rest like fine wine upon my palate. Summer’s state of mind lasts long beyond the final calendar notation and my memories of our sweet summer together shall surely sustain me until we sit together again over a fragrant pot of jasmine tea here in our special world behind the waterfall.


Godspeed, my sweet child ... young woman after God's own heart

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My "To Do" List for the Day

1. Think on these things:
*whatsoever things are true
*whatsoever things are honest
*whatsoever things are just
*whatsoever things are pure
*whatsoever things are lovely
*whatsoever things are of good report (1)

2. And these:
*if there be any virtue
*if there be any praise(1)

3. Open your heart wide to reap these:

4. Sit back and relax in peace after having done a fine day's work

5. Save list and repeat tomorrow : )
1 - Philippians 4:8
2 - Galatians 5:22,23
3 - Philippians 4:9

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?*

A gentle breeze blows through the lace curtains at the window. A summer's breeze. Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?*

At Shakespeare's knee did I rest for a time during one of these past precious days of respite and ease. I cannot remember the last time I merely sat and read and stared off into the gardens in search of a simile to summer. Memories bubbled up and popped with the effervescence of joy recovered from a day long ago when I first introduced my love to Sonnet 18. Under a weeping-willowed spot I recited the lines to him and he blinked back at me with a silly grin. That engineered education had escaped Shakespeare's grasp. And so I continued on, unfolding each line and nuanced message. His smile grew satisfied. And though I never saw him pluck Shakespeare for a spare moment's read, he spent many an hour woven tightly into the fabric of poetry spoken out to him from true love's heart.

Even now, passing the 24th year of marriage (which followed 5 years of lead-in to marriage), I still think of him when I reflect on those immortal words -- words penned from the heart to last as long as someone remembers them. I, being a hopelessly joyful romantic, shall carry them in my heart and be certain to etch them into as many willing hearts as will agree to carry them. For love never dies; yet when a lover fades and the memory follows something beautiful has vanished from our world. Thus I stretch out handfuls of family tales to line my children's hearts. Bouquets of details carry the essence of love from our past: Happy unions, ardent pursuits, the slog of working for years to create a place for love to grow, along with blessed births, heartbreaking events, and many, many more facets of life lived day-to-day, moment-by-moment, heartbeat-by-heartbeat.

Woven in love, these histories bear the fruit of life that fairy tales only simulate. I enjoy a good fairytale, but I soar on the wings of a true-life adventure -- messiness included. Perfection cannot stand in the stead of true love, but I select to savor the perfectly wonderful and let the rest blow away to collect and decay quietly with the promise of nourishing more beauty. Like the spent leaves of summer which protect the budding bulbs from frosty harm, these drained vessels eventually experience the metamorphosis to life-giving dust. No pain can endure when love springs forth from its midst.

Those darling buds of May selected to remain in our hearts maintain youthful exuberance despite the marching of time. Coming across old photos, the children chimed in and laughed at how "young" we looked. Gary and I looked at each other in astonishment. "Looked?" we mouthed, trusting eyes that still see those darling buds. Our eyes may have grown mature, yet the lover's vantage remains fixed on the first youthful exchange. I even came across a pic of me wearing the very outfit I sported on our first encounter: a red and black polka-dotted swing-ey skirt (of course) and a slim-fitting leotard top -- looking every bit the dancer. Long flowing locks spilled over shoulders holding a face punctuated with deep, dark eyes. The eyes of a two-left-footed young man came to rest on those dark eyes and history hiccuped. I continued to dance, read sonnets, and pen long love letters; he continued to smile. I gazed into his deep green eyes with those fabulous lashes and began a free-fall that continues to this day. What can those children mean, younger? I echo Shakespeare, "But thy eternal summer shall not fade," and keep swimming in the eyes that keep me steady in his smiling gaze.

The gentle breeze hints at summer's end. The first dried leaf to skip across the freshly-laid deck has captured the playful fancy of Mr. Bingley. He scampers, pounces, and flips as he chases the quixotic entertainment. Falling into a panting heap he watches the once-green flag of summer crisply skitter away on the winds. A cooling wind has bathed us in the most refreshing promise that we will not desiccate here in August's heat; but, it also portends of the waning of the season and all the dying to come. Yet, in those moments of melancholy when I imagine the oak tree stripped bare, I remember the icing of white that arrives so unexpectedly each year at fall's end. How we stop in awe as the fluffy iridescence coats each barren branch with splendor. Then my mind races ahead remembering the silky catkins that burst forth overnight and carpet the gardens with chenille softness that cries "Spring."

Today a whirlwind of summer's breath swirls the early falling leaves and ignites my anticipatory joy at scraping the barren soil and placing the bulging bulbs of promise deep within the earth on a warm fall afternoon. I shall breathe deeply the woodsmoke in the air and the hint of rain that I pray covers my newly bedded beauties. Spring looms far in the future beyond a chasm of quiet in the gardens, but the memories I nourish sustain me as I await the first yellow flags of the forsythia and narcissus, the initial purpled appearance of a crocus carpet, and on the menu continues of swelling buds of spring.

A life of hope lifts the dreariest day and infuses it with a magical sparkle. All those years ago I saw that same sparkle in the green-eyed gaze of a fellow sojourner. We stepped together and set off. We had no destination marked out, for we knew instinctively that the journey held the joy. I know not how far we have come along the finite path, but I do know that as long as the memory of those darling dancing buds cascades down upon me our eternal summer shall not fade. And though we dance in the shadow of death, our steps shall not lag. The music will play on ...

* * * * * * * * * * *
*Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
~~William Shakespeare~~

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Anniversary, My Darling

"If you live to be a hundred,
I want to live to be a hundred minus one day,
so I never have to live without you."
A. A. Milne, From Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slipping Away ...

The evening draws to a close. The gentle rustlings of the bedtime routine signal the coming calm of an evening stretching out toward sweet slumber. Suddenly ... BLAM! BLAM-BLAM! BLAM! "What is that?" and all come running. In shock, I peel myself from the ceiling and look incredulously at my computer. My blog stares back at me from the familiar screen; I double check to be certain. Next, I check the playlist. Correctly uploaded for my blog. Hmmmm . . . how did that blasting music find its way onto my beautiful playlist? Just what was that song? I retrace a few steps and find that a song I heard on another blog, a lilting and beautiful piano melody, had several versions available to select from the playlist log. I failed to secure the "piano only" version. So, I apologize to any of you listeners that may have experienced a JOLT from my blunder.

Once my nerves return to normal and a restored calm descends over my sitting room, I ponder the swirl of activity that engulfs me right now. I came into this peaceful little nook to write just a bit but the music intruded with cacophonous clamor, drawing attention to the many little errors and slips and snares that have crept into my days. Earlier, Rachel sat moping in a chair waiting for someone to find a free moment to help her with her pinata. "Everyone is so busy!" she whispered while staring out the window sadly. I stop cold.

The words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh recently saved in my "pondering place" come washing over me:

For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects unique and people unique and significant -- and therefore beautiful . . . Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space, like a few autumn grasses in one corner of an Oriental painting, the rest of the page bare.

My life in Connecticut, I began to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad , or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities and people and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives, but the important as well.
(Gift from the Sea, p.114-115)

I turn and gaze at the calender and the flurry of activity spread over the next couple of weeks: Elizabeth's return to university, Lydia's wisdom teeth removal, music lessons, dinners with friends, our 24th anniversary ... So many necessary and wonderful events scrawl in various scripts across the pages of our life. So much to do? In so little time? Where lies the rest and the peaceful moments of prayer? Somewhere along the summertime path I managed to color in all the empty space. Today I clearly see the need to bring out an eraser and smudge away the inked spots enough to uncover a moment for chatting over tea and applying starch to newspaper and reading a newly-penned poem. My bookshelves and baskets sag with the weight of unread treasure and I am the poorer for it.

The solution lies in the margins of my life. I desire a spot to doodle or merely watch over the shoulder of a doodler. The summer sun has shifted whilst I have typed and commented and met all of you. The days shorten just a bit more with each sunset. I feel a bit out of balance as we approach the changes on the horizon. So, I shall be posting a bit less frequently, but hopefully with a smoother cadence. My enthusiasm to meet with all of you has grown, but my zeal to produce a new post each day has dwindled. I find I have so little time to go visit all of you and greet new people when I am obsessing over spacing issues, pic uploads, and such. A brief break every now and again to refresh and read and stretch a bit will render me greater pleasure and much more joy as I balance home and blogdom.

With my 24th wedding anniversary at hand I think it a fine time to pack a picnic into a hamper, tuck a book into my pocket, and make off to our private fairy woods whose only source of power rests in my imagination and the might generated by the smiles of those I love. I shall return soon with fresh adventures to impart, books to discuss, recipes to share, theories to test, and so much more of the stuff we call "life" here at Wisteria Cottage.
* * * * *
A patter of ballet flats accompanied by the swishing of swept-past ferns signals she has slipped away . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Respite Wednesday

Today I have a guest respite advisor with wonderful advice for surviving a hot summer's day.

* * * * *
Lydia has the distinction of being the youngest author included in the County Library System's anthology in honor of the library published in 2007. Her work rests alongside many noted and professional authors, including Ray Bradbury.

Lydia at age 10 ... published author.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Please pray for my precious daughter ...

"Relationships are like glass.
Sometimes it's better to leave them broken
than try to hurt yourself putting it back together."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hot August Days

In many parts of the world the winter days descend with such a bitter cold that the children must remain indoors. In California we enjoy the freedom to frolic out of doors without interruption for the better part of each Fall, Winter, and Spring day; but, those Hot August Days require that we seek shelter. No, we do not seek the roar of a cozy fire, but rather the roar of an icy air-conditioner. With many days near (or above) the 100-degree-F mark one must find entertainment suitable for the great indoors. As a home without broadcast tv or cable and plenty of restrictions on movies and other video entertainment, our kids must find other ways to fill the gap between awake and asleep. Since we school year-round and take music lessons as well, we keep pretty busy. We all fill up on a steady diet of books, writing, drawing, building, creating, and anything else that catches one's fancy on those looooong afternoons of sheltered play.

Lydia said it best the other day:

"With a little imagination you can go anywhere."

Thus she and Rachel set out for a day at the beach. Sunglasses, sunscreen, a picnic on the "sand" complete with shells, rocks, and a bright Pacific blue "ocean" provided much fun.

Later when I went past Rachel's room I caught sight of a lot of litter that just screamed "I'm creating!" Not known for tidiness, this child regularly creates order and beauty out of chaos.
(Sometimes she merely raises chaos to an art form -- fortunately the Lord blessed us with a house adequate to provide each his own room.) Recently paper art has captured her fancy. "Mom, do you need ALL of these index cards?" or "Do we have any more tape?" regularly spill from the eager artist. Too many times the "reading time" before bed gets "exchanged" for art time. It may not be conventional, but then few would label us as such. And so, the sight of this mess brought back memories of other notable paper creations.

Like the cute octopus with "eyeballs that really work," according to the artist ...
Or some freehand cutting that resulted in some pretty adorable characters.
These days, however, Miss Rachel has taken her art 3-D. This cast of creatures entertained us with their zoological specifics.
This Hawaiian surfer (note the lei) exhibited some pretty daring athletics with the "wave in motion."
But nothing prepared me for the details of this piano sculpture Rachel presented to her piano teacher. Rachel chose this "self-portrait" complete with many details to match her own piano. (You may notice that all of the "faces" belong to Rachel. She loves to supply a portrait of the artist.)
After depicting her Piano, Rachel went on to explore her dreams of a grander piano. She has been known to change her favorite color on a weekly basis, which may explain the rainbow assortment of grand beauties. In honor of her teacher's warning that a performer should strive to be comfortable on many types of pianos, she has included one upright ... a red one. (I think piano shopping with Rachel will prove to be a bit more interesting than we experienced while harp shopping with the other girls.)

I think Rachel appreciates her freedom, and thanks us for it artfully.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Wonder

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
Says the LORD,
Thoughts of peace and not of evil,
To give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
She became a butterfly.
~~A Proverb~~

Friday, August 8, 2008

FAIR-y Tale Friday

It's Fair Time Here in Nevada County
(Yes, That's in California)

The younger set decided that we should go to the fair despite the well known fact that the hottest days of the year always arrive during Fair Week. Mom and Dad agreed as long as everyone slathered on the sunscreen and we went on opening day when the place still had the clean new-ness about it (that's the part I put in). Elizabeth and Matthew stayed home -- they've had their fair share of fair-ness over the years. Gary went early to assess the crowds and came home to announce chaos at all intersections and arteries (BIG shock), so he had a plan. We would park at our friend's restaurant, The Swiss House (watch for a future post on this 5-star chef and his wife), and then walk to the fair. Sounded good to me and the girls, so we loaded into the truck and took off.

After parking, we popped into the restaurant to see Karl and Lily. Lily wouldn't let us get away without some refreshments first. A unique "Shirley Temple" (her special twist on the perennial favorite that we affectionately refer as a"Lily Pai," her maiden name) for each girl and a good old-fashioned ice water for the parents.

Once fully refreshed, we set out for the fair. We walked ... ...and we walked ... ...and we walked ...
...'til we arrived at the entrance. (Bless you Lily for knowing we would need that extra fluid.) Once inside, the magic took over. The colorful midway delighted our every sense. The flashing colors, zinging sounds, and carnival fragrance of popcorn and cotton candy replaced those two parents with two more kids. The four of us set out to have fun at the fair. We made our way past the rides and games (saving those for later) and headed to the livestock barns.

Due to the heat we passed up our Church's concession of espresso and iced mochas. (Gary claims he never saw the "iced" part or we would have definitely made it our first stop.)

The cattle provided little in the way of entertainment as they lounged in the path of the giant fans. It would have been a pleasant place to linger except for ... well, I'm sure you can guess which sense (or scents) compelled us to move along. Next we came up to the sheep stalls. These guys and gals offered much more in the way of friendly exchange, though the heat had them panting and sleeping for the most part. This fellow greeted me warmly, bleating just enough to get my attention.

Just up the hill the poultry and rabbits bid us welcome. The popularity of this section coupled with a decided unwillingness to pose on many of the residents part, left me with only this dapper fellow to represent the lot. The rabbits refused to do anything but pant in large heaps surrounded by lots of eager kids with poking fingers. We smiled at Peter and company and moved on.

We had chosen to save the favorites (pigs and goats) for last. They have always entertained reliably and produced babies and miniatures for us to giggle and coo over. We entered at the BIG pig section and caught these porkers during rest time. I believe this guy may have won his ribbon by a nose. This guy just cracked me up as he guzzled away at the drinking spigot. He must have been really sucking because he drained all the life out of my battery. This was the very last pic I got!

When Gary announced that the battery was dead, my mouth dropped open. "What!" I squealed, surrounded by squealers. "You're kidding?" Of course he gave me the why-would-I-be-kidding look. Hrmph! I pouted. "What about all the cute piglets right over there? And the goats? I just love those little pygmy goats!" My mini-tantrum did nothing to improve the battery situation and everything to drain the life out of our livestock-viewing experience. So, I decided to just enjoy the rest of the day and rely on words to fill in the gaps.

We proceeded to coo over the baby piggies, both Berkshire (my favorite with the black and pink coat) and the all-pink Yorkshire. [Disclaimer: I know NOTHING about pigs, I merely read the signs. If I've gotten it wrong please forgive me and inform your children of the correct pig appearances.] Then we hopped over to the goats in time for a judging session. Now, I will also admit that I know absolutely nothing about judging goats. As I stood there watching all those cute little kids and their cute little goats I could see right away who would win. That little girl in the middle with the darling and oh-so-well-behaved little goat had the perfect poise and performance. No matter what the judge barked out she did it and that little goat followed her lead perfectly. Other participants were bleating, running amok, and creating some pretty serious chaos, but not this team. I then continued down the line and picked all the "winners." When the ribbons came out my choices came in dead last. "What?" I thought, and then I heard the judge explain that showmanship, though valuable, cannot mask the inherent defects in the animals. So even a well-behaved (and smart, by my assessment) animal may not possess winning qualities. As that sweet girl stood at the end of the line with her goat I smiled and nodded to her ... she knew her goat was a winner; she didn't need a ribbon to convince her.

After petting the favorite of all animals for me, the Nubian goats, we ventured off to the hand-washing station and then down food alley. This adorable miniature town offers a vast array of food and drink options. I couldn't wait to indulge in a Cornish pastie (a local tradition around here brought over by the Welsh miners) or one of those fabulous looking knishes from the Jewish booth. (I have no love for the typical fair fare of corn dogs and french fries washed down with a soda -- no way!) As my mouth was watering I overheard Rachel pleading to have a quick drink of water and get over to the rides and games. I grabbed one of those knishes with the waters (and YES it was scrumptious) and later managed to get one of those pasties while Lydia ate a pretzel (Rachel and Gary had already departed for the Midway). Somewhere along the way we watched the dog races -- amazingly fast little doggies -- and viewed the produce, artwork, crafts, and so on.

As with all Fair Days, we ended at the Midway with a fistful of frightfully over-priced tickets and contented ourselves to wait in long lines in the heat for those oh-so-spinny moments of thrill on a lighted, metal contraption that forces me to suspend all fear and simply trust that the necessary inspections really did occur. While Rachel and I waited in line for the last ride of the day, Lydia and Gary went in search of stuffed rewards. Rachel and I waaaaaaittttteeeeeed foreeeeeeeeeever for the Ferris Wheel to load and turn a few revolutions and then load again with our group. Once the attendant locked us in and began the slooooooow ascent-load-ascent-load routine, Rachel decided that she felt afraid. "What?" I stammered, "Of what?" "The rocking," she replied matter-of-factly. "The man said no rocking, and every time he stops to load someone we rock." I sat mutely, looking around at the rusty frame, the missing light bulbs, and the generally shabby appearance of the whole contraption that we had just paid $8.00 to ride. What to do? I hadn't an ounce of grey matter left to throw at this one. "Sorry sweetie," I soothed, "Just hold on to me and we'll get off when we can.

As we soared higher and higher with each stop-to-load event, I looked around at the gyrating, churning, perilous carnival monsters that people eagerly jumped into and I cringed. Rachel, however, had studied the Ferris Wheel action and perfected a way to lean forward at each stop and prevent the car from rocking. She intently performed this deed about 12 TIMES (as we sat in car #2 of 16 and it took her a load or two to find a solution). When the wheel had taken on the full complement the man let her roll. I assured Rachel the ride would be quick -- little did I know that the man in charge of the throttle gave each group a 1-cigarette time limit; he puffed through one cigarette while we rode. Simple: smoking ends, so does the ride. Interesting ... until I noticed that a guy had engaged him in conversation and he had ceased puffing. "AAAAAHHHH! Start smoking!" I screamed in my head. "I want off this thing!" However my placid manner betrayed me and the man merely smiled as we went around AGAIN! With his last puff I groaned with relief. We exited at our appointed turn and I felt all the energy rush out of me. "Hey Mom," Rachel shouted, "That was really fun once we got up there. I saw some really neat rides. What do you want to go on next.?" Her eager little face smiled up at me. I turned and smiled up at Gary. "How 'bout our truck?" He replied.


My darling husband walked back for the truck alone and returned to pick up three very tired gals who carried plenty of stuffed toys and happy memories home from The Fair.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Just to Make You Smile

The Scream by Edvard Munch
* * *
"Always do right -
this will gratify some
and astonish the rest."
~~ Mark Twain~~

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Respite Wednesday

Settled in his downy feathers,
Her head above the fluff;
Anticipation building,
Amidst the smooth takeoff.
In a flash, borne aloft,
ground receded 'neath her gaze;
Fearing loss of all familiar,
She trained her eye above.
She focused on the possible,
Letting wind rush through her hair;
Her voice fell mute,
Her mind flowed free,
And joy fulfilled the dream.