Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Am Off to Play at the Beach Today

* * * * *
Earlier this week I read the following words and have been savoring them ever since. I leave them with you now, yet surely I shall continue to mull them as I watch the rolling waves and hear the cries of the playful gulls. "This moment must be savored," I shall whisper to myself as I stand in the moment in awe.
* * * * *
What is my dream of God's purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. . . . God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.
~~Oswald Chambers~~
from My Utmost for His Highest

[Painting of young Gary and his brothers playing on the beach in Fort Bragg, CA. Lovingly painted by his grandma. Sadly, he did not inherit her gift with a brush and palette, only the painting.]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Respite Wednesday

A Berry Good Summer's Day
Why, Phoebe*, are you come so soon?
Where are your berries, child?
You cannot, sure, have sold them all,
You had your basket piled.

~~Nancy Dennis Sproat~~
The Blackberry Girl, Stanza 1

*I wanted to name my last daughter Phoebe, but my husband wouldn't consent to a name that he couldn't spell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wanna Go for a Drive?

He asked with a smile. She answered with a smile. Just outside of town they paused to scan the surrounds.
Still smokey, but spectacular, nonetheless.
On down into a nearby canyon to the Gold Rush mining town of Washington.
Whose gentle stream stands littered with the rocky remains of past mining conquests.
The beauty of the Sierras now lays amidst peace and quiet since the miners moved on. As the sun fades we make our way back up to the highway and begin heading for home. The view toward Lake Tahoe calls to my heart, but that must be saved for another day.
The setting of the sun signals the end of our drive. We turn southward toward home, knowing tomorrow will have another evening and the hope of another drive.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dining With Diego

We pulled up to the curb and stared at the cinder-block rectangle with windows on the front only. The surrounds spoke of the "other" side of the freeway. I'd been looking for this restaurant since a friend recommended it, but I kept my eyes trained on the "downtown" section and it eluded me. You see, back in the 60s when California wove ribbons of freeway hither and yon for maximum scenic mobility in a vehicle, somebody got the brilliant idea to blast right through the center of Grass Valley. Now, rather than demolish the houses and businesses and sever the town with pavement, the "Golden State Freeway" builders chose to demolish the houses and erect an overhead freeway. Thus, we live in a town divided by something that looks like a gigantic monorail. Predictably businesses on the "Old Town" side carried on and those on the "Other" side limped along. So here on the limping side we rolled the car to a halt and watched the somewhat tattered welcome banner hang languidly. What did that portent? Lazy cook? Faltering business with little cash to spare? Or ...

Gary opened my car door, helped me step "up" the jagged curb topped by a listing sidewalk and through the basic aluminum framed door. I'll never know for sure if the faerie dust fell from the door frame or not, but when we entered that portal we took a trip of fantastical proportions.

The tiny room housed a hodge-podge of cheap dining chairs clustered around a whimsical array of table options. Nothing matched ... and everything felt just right. "Sit here or at the bar," offered the somewhat harried waitress as she weaved to and fro between the densely-fitted seating groups. Gary and I exchanged glances, eyed the bar (a low L-shaped wooden structure which had attracted the most hilarious mismatch of red vinyl diner seats, next to quasi-Mediterranean wrought-iron monsters and you can use your imagination and childhood memories to fill in the rest). "Um, we'll just sit here," we smiled and seated ourselves at a table for 4-6 depending on their familiarity. An attendant (our waitress?) whisked by and dropped off two mismatched saucers and a matching number of utensil bundles (paper napkins ... ugh) onto a table coated with aged varnish. I looked up at Gary and smiled my cheerful, "Hey-this-is-new-and-different" smile. The server flew back by and set down two condiment cups, one with an herbed butter and the other full of a green-y salsa. I smile like a kid ready to board a roller coaster (uncertain she will survive, but game just the same). "Bread will be up in a minute," she called as she ran by. "Okay," I chirped.

Moments later a wooden bowl skidded down on the table and I looked at four lumps of dough that looked undercooked. We prayed over the food (we always do it and it should in no way be an indication of fear on our part at this particular meal), and grabbed one of those curious little balls. I broke mine, slathered it with the herbed butter and took a bite. Gary followed suit. [*Soundtrack of sparkly music signifying magical transformation*] We looked at one another and sparks flew from our lashes. "Yum!" I exclaimed. Gary just swallowed and reached for another bite. I tried salsa next ... fabulous, not spicy, but tangy, yummy, good.

I looked around the room and saw shelves loaded with mismatched china, thrift-store finds everyone of them. The decor screamed "Tacky Junk we got cheap!" but I heard, "Zany, clever, avant-garde ... FUN!" I turned to the menu and opened it with eager anticipation. The Chilean choices each called to me, "Take a chance! Try me!" (And I hadn't even gotten to the desserts yet!) While deciding between the panqueque and the achiote chicken with garlic mashed potatoes (MY FAVORITE!), we noticed a gathering outside the door of would-be diners without seating. All seats in the house full, save the bar, and not a meal in front of anyone. The wait would be extensive due to the solitary cook staff. "Excuse me," we called to the dashing help, " would you like us to move over to the bar and free up this table for a larger party." "If you would like," she shrugged with a touch of surprise. So we gathered our place setting, which now included tall red tumblers of iced tea which proclaimed "Coca Cola."

After several trips back and forth we resettled at the bar, Gary in a low-slung green leathery desk chair and I in a tall-backed-metal-and-wood affair that the mad hatter would hanker for. I towered over Gary ... and smiled smartly as I shook my head "no" to his offhand suggestion that we trade. I now turned my attention to the front row view of all the delightful crockery, glassware, and other utility items that kept the food parade coming. We placed our order (yes, service ran on a relaxed schedule) and sat back to continue our visual tour. We hardly spoke a word as eyes flowed over the unique artwork littering the walls and ceiling. Those tacky-icky lighting fixtures I saw upon entering have somehow morphed into "cool" and "bold."

My soup arrived in a chubby-cheeked cherub-faced teacup chipped at the footing and winking at me with eyelashes that said, "Bailey's." The sublime murmur that escaped my lips when I sipped the soup caused Gary to flag down the waitress and request a cup for himself. A Blue Danube cup held his soup. We sipped and smiled at the whimsical air of the place. Upon finishing the soup (yes, Gary drank the last like a beverage; no, I did not), I looked up at the Renoir print in the corner and then looked around at the array of customers. I guess I expected to see a slumped over Hemingway at the other corner of the bar, drinking red wine from a juice glass to match those in front of some of the other patrons. Over in that back booth of cracked red leatherette I surely espied James Joyce gazing off in the distance. Did I just see Picasso come in the back door with a painting as payment for his dinner? The ghosts of artists and writers crowded the tiny cafe, feasting on the inspiration that emanated from the very confidence of those that birthed Diego's eatery.

By the time our entrees arrived I could hardly eat. Conversation about art and music and literature bubbled forth from me. Our date night locale had carried us far away from the daily worries of the economy, our children's future, the burning state of the state. My flirty red dress, handsome husband, and delicious entree gathered me into the bosom of magical moments suffused with hope and inspiration and promise. The grilled chicken, roasted veggies, and sublimely delicious potato cake (crisply grilled on both sides but creamy divine in the middle with just a hint of garlic ... ooooooohhhhhh) nourished far more than the hunger that dwells in the stomach.

As we finished up the final morsels the waitress came back by to offer dessert. We nodded like eager children standing before Mary Poppins, and she dropped off menus with the disclaimer that they had run out of "Chocolate Fix" and "Tres Leches Cake." No chocolate ... hmmmm ... okay, what else can I find? We perused and lobbied and wondered our way through the menu. We agreed to split one dessert in order to avoid gluttony (but that menu strongly tempted us down that sinful path). I cast my vote for something that hearkened of Florida Keys/Hemingway: Key Lime Pie in a graham cracker/gingersnap crust. Gary nodded enthusiastically. The pie arrived swiftly and disappeared in like fashion. (I didn't moisten my finger and dab up the crumbs left lying on the plate ... but that temptation existed.)

When the check arrived we both looked at it with trepidation. Would the clink of change or the swipe of a credit card break the spell? I looked around one last time, drinking in the minutest of details. With tip added to tab and the pen laid to rest we had no alternative but to push back the goofy chairs, walk across the warped floor, and exit the modest building which once housed a TV sales and repair shop. As we drove away I looked back wistfully.

I haven't been back down that street since last week, but I hope against all hope that I will once again find that magical entrance and dine at Diego's amongst the many ghosts of artful life.

* * *
[A portal to Diego's Restaurant can be found here. Take your own journey through the mouth-watering menu, read the touching history, and dream of coming to Grass Valley for your own magical meal.]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Wonder

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Join Me for Tea on Pink Saturday

Step inside my parlour for a spot of tea and something sweet. Please select your favorite from among my collection of antique teacups. Would you like a slice of strawberry pudding? Now, I must insist you have some good, dark chocolate with that -- we all need those beneficial antioxidants. After we sip and catch up on all of our latest hopes, dreams, and accomplishments, let's step out into the garden for a stroll. I can't wait to show you my latest blooming beauties. Shall we pause for a moment to stargaze at a lily?
This peachy pink Colette smells heavenly and those dainty ruffles -- ooh la la!
Lastly, we come upon my "Forever Pink" hydrangea, which looks to be almost completely blue. A mere handful of blossoms retain a mauve hue which will definitely go the way of all my other pink hydrangeas -- BLUE. (Someone once asked me how I got my hydrangeas so blue. I replied, "I plant pink ones." Sarcasm aside, my soil is so acid even my WHITE hydrangea has a powder-blue tint -- actually quite lovely.) Since I planted this "Forever Pink" hydrangea two years ago, I guess two years seems like forever around here. ; )
Along the walkway back to the cottage we meet up with three of the four kitties in residence. Now being quite an integral part of our family life, these clever kitties know all about Pink Saturday. They also know that Connie's cat Floppy made an appearance on one of her previous Pink Saturday posts. So, they have prepared "pink" poses for the Kitty Klub.

First we have Toulouse, the talented. Not to be outdone, Mr. Darcy cranks out his pinkness. Mr. Bingley, being acutely aware of his lavender-hued tongue, poses more discretely in case the "Pink Police" happen by.
Edward, being older than some and wiser than all, refuses comment.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Special-Guest Edition of Faerie Tale Friday

Well folks, do I have a surprise for you! While reclining with teacup in hand and a smug satisfaction at having "whipped up" my Friday post with a minimum of issues,* two excited girls came downstairs all a-giggle to bestow this present on the Greater Blogdom. (I guess they believe, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!) And so I now hand over the blogger controls to Lydia (12) and Rachel (9) for this special presentation of Faerie Tale Friday . . . Ta Dah!

*If you've read my blog for a while you know what I mean; if not, just enjoy the new and breezy blogger I have become.

A Feast for Friday

Every meal should celebrate life. I invite you to join me as I prepare our feast to celebrate Friday Family Fun Night. Fun, food, and a family-friendly film add up to good times around our house each week.

A wealth of fresh ingredients . . .
. . . whatever will they add up to?
Here's a hint.
The finished product, ready for the grill.
Can you smell the sizzling goodness?
Inside, someone tests the theory of a watched pot and the potential for boiling.
Dinner is served!
With a clafoutis for dessert.
Food and family -- now that's my idea of FUN! ; )
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All Aboard the Blogger Express!

I sit here amazed that an entire month has elapsed since I first hit the button and launched "Wisteria and Roses." It seemed simple enough to create an online journal or maybe a site filled with all kinds of prettiness and gardens for others and myself to enter and enjoy as we paused from the pull and tug of daily life. A virtual oasis. Aaahhhh ... I pondered the freedom and relaxation afforded by this new electronic step. No longer would I send out copious emails for family happenings, but rather this site would be a "gathering place" or a "celebration station." Oh, yes, I convinced myself, the time freed up by this blogging placecard clearly justified the investment of time in learning to blog, which could only be a bit more labor intensive than email ... right?

Well, I sit here one month later and mutter "Huh?" when Blogger spits me out with a raspberried comment. ("Nice!") I'm overjoyed to be meeting so many new friends all over the world, but have discovered that my email friends don't blog; thus I now email AND blog. The ins and outs of multiple email boxes seemed to make so much sense in the beginning: This for blog, this for regular stuff ... But today I once again wrestled with the many formats and address books and personal flub-ups associated with my new-found joy in blogging and my ever-present deficit in caring about all these little details. But, I manged to piece together a format and schedule that brought it all under control, until the dreaded happened: "Blogger Unavailable" it shouted when I tried to post according to my tidy routine. I couldn't even comment on other blogs because, "Blogger Unavailable."

This threatened to send me into a tailspin. I stopped and plopped and wondered ... when did this become a job and stop being fun and exciting? And then I realized ... my perfectionistic tendencies had once again set up roadblocks and barriers. No Fun! So, I ripped up the schedule, tossed out my list of "must do" items, and let all the uptight ideas float downstream. Now I'm going for an evening drive in the convertible with my beloved husband (and oh-so-patient blog-partner/teacher/lifeguard) and let the wind blow through my hair and ignite the excitement of life once again ... yes, even blogger life. I'll see you later when I sport a fresh smile and wind-blown hair. (Oh wait, does that make me an airhead? Fiddle Dee Dee ... not gonna worry about that now, I've got a breeze to catch.) I'll be back on Faerie Tale Friday for more fun. ~~bye~~

* * * * * * * *
While I'm away I shall leave you in the very capable hands of Rachel, Filmmaker Extraordinaire. (That does mean "not ordinary," right?)

* * * * * *

In the cobwebs of my schoolgirl memories I recall hearing that "Art imitates life." Contrariwise, Oscar Wilde states "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Well, either one works in the case of the following video clip gleaned from another of Rachel's archives. My lack of tidily-prepared posts makes this a timely and appropriate opportunity to share another "Magic Moment on Film" courtesy of my daughter Rachel. She masterfully captures my very attitude at this moment. (I only hope that Wilde's comment ultimately proves false, because the "Art" this kid comes up with could do me in.) ; )
Enjoy your ride on The Blogger Express. All Aboard!

Respite Wednesday

" If Women were convinced that a day off or an hour of solitude was a reasonable ambition, they would find a way of attaining it. As it is, they feel so unjustified in their demand that they rarely make the attempt."

~~~Anne Morrow Lindbergh~~~

* * * * *

"It Seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good and we must hunger after them."

~~~George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans]~~~

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Of Bedtimes, Bananas, and Balderdash

Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman and four darling children. These children laughed and played all the day until their parents tucked them in with prayers for a sweet dream and a long sleep. The evenings of solitude allowed the parents to recharge for yet another day of rearing, nurturing, loving, and laughing with these precious ones.

One day a fifth child appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Whereas all the previous births had been on the quiet side, this child entered the world SCREAMING! And while the previous four played together, shared willingly (most of the time), washed behind their ears, and supped without complaint, this newest one played by a different set of rules (and only she could read them). Not to be undone by the “newness” of this newest, the parents embraced her uniqueness and learned much from her. In fact, the entire family learned so much about ENTERTAINMENT because this latest delivery entertained everyone she met (some would even argue she enchanted them).

Now many long years have passed (nine and one-half to be precise, but it seems like many more), and the rituals of bedtime flow smoothly once again. The brushing of teeth, praying of prayers, and reading of quiet literature precede the closing of eyes and resting of bodies in preparation for another wonderful day here at Wisteria Cottage. The parents once again enjoy peaceful evenings of solitude and quiet while the children sleep; or so they thought . . .

These previously unreleased tapes attest to the fact that Miss Rachel may not, in fact, be following the prescribed rules set forth in the generally accepted principles of family life here at Wisteria Cottage. The management came upon these tapes by accident one evening at about 11:30 pm, when a decidedly un-sleepy young lady brought down the camera announcing the batteries seemed to be dead. Not bothering to glance at the clock nor assess the situation fully, the relaxed parents merely accepted the camera for recharge and bid the child an additional goodnight. The next day while recharging the camera the Father noticed some strange recordings. We have those for you today – further proof that Child #5 surely came from someplace special. View these clips and judge for yourself. [Caution: you will never view life at Wisteria Cottage in the same pink, placid light after seeing these clips.] We have it on the best of authority that further examples of Child #5 in action exist. Beware of the supposed sleeping child.


Mom: "Why were you looking for bananas in the camera lens?"

Rachel: "Well, mom, you know when you're looking at the pc board inside the camera and you see all those little yellow things that look like bananas? I was just making a joke about that."

Mom: "Oh ..."

[Mom, muttering to self as she walks away, ... "Yellow things? ... pc board? ... ummmmmm .... okay ..."]

Monday, July 21, 2008

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Post to Bring You a Public Service Announcement:

Can You Identify the Blogging Ditz in This Photo?
Announcer: "To those of you under the false impression that the creator of this blog has the ability to write prose, photograph beauty, balance life, twirl at a moment's notice, and check email regularly, I AM HERE TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU HAVE BEEN MISLEAD. The blogger in question (referred to as Wisteria and Roses or WR forthwith) is hereby exposed as a fraud! Yes, you heard that right, A FRAUD! Any woman who sets up an email account, begins a blog, and then FAILS to EVER check for messages should be exposed for the ditz that she is. Furthermore, the self-same WR, who upon noticing the oversight (nearly one month after opening the account), further neglected to even consider looking in the SPAM folder, citing a particular distaste for any tinned meats as just cause and excuse. Despite repeated pleadings based on an inherent lack of nerdliness (the good kind that understands computers, not the floody-pants-with-thick-glasses kind -- she admits to that from 3rd through 6th grades, but implored the courts not to bring up past offenses and was sustained), we found the defense faulty and proceeded to humiliate to the fullest extent of the bloglaw.

"We hereby announce to all readership that WR has acknowledged her silliness (though her daughter, who set up the account and gave SPECIFIC instructions for checking mail AND spam may NEVER let her forget it) and has prepared a written statement of apology to be read at this time."

WR: [penitently] "My dear readers . . . (*sniff*) . . . I confess and throw myself on the mercy of your readership. I have been terribly remiss in responding to the sweet emails that many of you have graced me with containing, encouragement, snickers and snorts, and hearty welcomes. Now, you know the truth, I am in need of technical advice in the worst way. (Scary, to think that I have been asked for some technical advice by some of you and scarier yet ... HAVE SUPPLIED IT!!!) Please know that I have married a man rich in computer nerdiness (I call it savvy and he smiles) and therefore have some chance at full recovery and proper re-entry into the blogdom. Furthermore, I do hereby promise to respond to all of your precious notes asap. In the meantime, I will administer large amounts of dark chocolate and attempt to heal from this experience in the best way I know how . . . ONWARD WITH THE BLOGGING! (After all, if I'd fallen off a horse you'd all be telling me to get right back on, right??? SOOOOO, here goes! TOWANDA!) ; )

Announcer: [Ahem . . . cough, cough] Yes, uhhhhh ... thank you Miss WR. Uh ... why are you running away?"
WR [calling from offstage]: I've gotta go check my email and spam, silly!"
Announcer: "Well, yes . . . uh, this public service announcement has been made on behalf of the Blogging-With-Brains police. We will now return you to your regularly scheduled blogpost in progress. Thank you for your time."

THE ART OF BATHING: A Primer in Pamper

In order to bathe properly you must begin with TIME. Not merely enough time to lather, rinse, repeat; but rather the time to luxuriate, unfurl, and gently blossom with beauty. Our body requires a minimum of 20 minutes to fully open herself to receive the full benefits of bathing. So, once you have set aside an abundance of peaceful moments . . .

(Taking care to ensure your solitude remains uninterrupted)

. . . Select gelees, salts, and lotions . . .

. . . Add an abundance of pure water and essence of tranquility . . .
. . . Along with something to nourish the romance in your soul.
[NEVER this!]
Flood the room with soothing music . . .

. . . Taking great care to have something beautiful at the ready upon your exit.
Make a promise to yourself today.

~~~Now go be beautiful from the inside out. ~~~

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Wonder

Two are better than one ...
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow;
But woe to him that is alone when he falleth;
For he hath not another to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Pink Saturday" Picnic

Welcome to my very first "Pink Saturday" hosted by Beverly over at How Sweet the Sound. My friend Connie inspired me with her gorgeous photos last week. (I especially love the "pink" tongue on her kitty -- so clever.) I'm excited to be joining this great group of pink lovers as we celebrate living in the pink. Welcome to my PINK SATURDAY PICNIC. : )

Just one word more -- please steal time every day, if you cannot find it in any other way, to lie on the grass, or in a hammock, under a huge tree this lovely month . . . and relax. What a tonic this is for the soul! What a rest for weary nerves! Our husbands, children, friends -- yes, and the nation -- will profit by our relaxation. The greatest need today is for calmer homes, and no fireside can be calm unless its guardian is at peace with the world."
Nell B. Nichols
Ladies Home Companion, 1924

(Sorry, I couldn't come up with a pink ant, but this guy REALLY wanted to be in the pictures.)