Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Respite Wednesday

Live Simply.
Love Generously.
Care Deeply.
Speak Kindly.
Leave the rest to God.

~~ Ronald Reagan ~~

The buzzards have gone. Fresh breezes sweep the gardens clean of the foul that once lingered. The birds and squirrels and butterflies have returned to play amongst us as we gambol through the cool days of Fall. Finally, Summer has packed away her 90-degree temps allowing us to play under Fall’s chilly cloud cover. And we do so with glee.

Gloria has plans to move to the regular ward today (farewell ICU), Gary’s back has relaxed and the pain subsided enough for him to return to working and all the rest. My “housewife hands” (all inflamed with a rash from too much soap-and-clean activity of late – my therapy) soothes under a natural salve, and my household sleeps late and peacefully after so many rollercoaster days.

We have handed it all over to God and He has replaced our worry with peace.

We are blessed.

Lydia, having turned 14 a week ago Monday, said:

"Being 14 is hard so far . . ."

Lydia with sock-doll gifts created by Rachel

Already, she shows wisdom and awareness of the adult world of cares; the remnants of childhood flutter in the winds of change.

BUT . . .
it is too early to be careworn -- too soon to say goodbye to carefree and childlike. So, we have set out to nurture the fading blossoms of youth in all our lives, ensuring a broadcast of sweet child-like seeds far and wide to fill all of our days with wonder and joy and blessings from our Father, as we remain His loving children each and every day.

For starters, we will experiment in the kitchen with a new recipe for banana-sourdough muffins and we will likely pair these goodies with a frothy mug of cocoa on this crisp Fall day. We will play in the gardens in the sun-warmed afternoon as we rake acorns by the bushel-ful and call it play rather than work.

With the stacking of wood and the raking of leaves and such it seems Summer has fled, but then I feast my eyes upon the roses all abloom and squeal with delight that so much color and fragrance and beauty burst forth despite my retreat into the world of adult worries and fears. Buds of sweet promise accompany each gorgeous bloom with a hopeful message for tomorrow.

Encouragement lies in every corner of this verdant life . . . I just hadn't stopped to see it amidst all the smoke of fear.


We are back at play here at Wisteria Cottage and it feels fantastic!

My new book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to crack it open late this afternoon as I rest on the deck in a crackly wicker chair with a teacup at my side.

Truly this will be a fine Respite Wednesday . . .
because we have chosen to rest in Him.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul;
For the LORD
Hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Psalm 116:7

Monday, September 28, 2009

Buzzards Still in Attendance . . .

BAD NEWS, as well . . .

Just heard from Gary's brother. Apparently the "All Clear" "Full Recovery" assessment regarding Gloria was a misunderstanding (or something like that). The meningitis continues in an active state and pressure continues to build in her brain. She's fully conscious, but her hearing appears to be fading today. She will remain in ICU for at least another week.

I am confused, exhausted, disappointed and all the rest . . . and so I curl back up into the loving arms of the Lord and pray. We SO celebrated the miraculous recovery and this has hit ALL of us hard! We will not give up and weep in fear . . . God's ways are not our ways. He is mighty, He never tires (unlike me, a mere mortal, and a squishy one at that lately).

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:28-31

I cling to this promise-filled verse.

For today, my monthly worst is upon me, but the duties of the day have been fulfilled outside the home. A tree man arrives soon with saw in hand to remove the buzzard-filled trees (dead and inviting to their breed, we have learned) and another guy arrives at 5 pm to remove the dead deer carcass we spotted near our mailboxes that has been feeding our unwanted guests. So, with the buffet gone, as well as the handy perch, we hope the creepy guests will just move along and fulfill their natural duties in someone else's gardens.

Truly, truly this has been an odd day all the way around -- actually it's been an odd week! Some folks who know us well, laugh that we have a most "interesting" life. They weren't offering to take over any parts of it, however, so I shall continue to celebrate life (however challenging) around Wisteria Cottage. For starters I must get about the business of planning dinner. I have a bowl of beans soaking for a refried delight of some sort. A few peppers, an onion, a sprinkle of cheese -- MMMMMmmmmmm! The fragrance in my imagination causes my tummy to rumble. Now if I could just quell the flow of tears and enjoy this steaming cup of tea my dear daughter has just presented to me . . . well, wouldn't it be lovely?

I appreciate your prayers . . . the shadows continue to fall, but the light of the Lord beckons us to let off with worry and simply follow the prayerful path.

Be anxious for nothing,
But in everything by prayer
And supplication with thanksgiving
Let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

When It Rains, It Pours . . .

In the midst of all of our PRAISES for Gloria's recovery from a near-fatal bout with meningitis, we continue to side-step stress-producing events. Take Gary's back, for example -- thrown out in an attempt to reposition his mom in the hospital bed. The "pull" incubated into REAL PAIN after driving several hours to return home. He arrived in pain and has remained thus.

OR how about the onslaught of acorns shooting down from the heavy-laden oaks blanketing our property? Day and night we hear the crashing, bashing, smashing of the assailing fruits. It is a bit unnerving, and has completely stopped all en pleine air dining. My choice of a metal table for the deck seemed like the perfect solution to wintry weather, BUT the metallic echoes make me shudder every time a new projectile hits (and they usually arrive in clusters). Right now I feel like we live in Sarajevo as the bullet-like objects fly freely and often. Hard hats may become a necessity.

A nice stroll in the gardens (with hard hat fashionably perched) would be so soothing, except . . . Did I mention the turkey buzzards congregating in one of the several dead trees on the periphery of our property? Yeah 40-50 new dudes showed up quite unexpectedly yesterday. Did I mention the STENCH?!?!?!?!? Or the attack upon my cat, Mr. Bingley? Yep, fully alive and bristling from head to tail, that kitty had to be rescued from a log near the pond by Elizabeth, the Brave who clapped and shouted and dashed her way to the battlefield and back to scoop up the targeted tiger-striped kitty -- growling buzzards circled overhead, swooping and grumbling all the while. So much for buzzards only eating the newly-dead . . .


I have a call into a tree-removal service, the cats remain secured in the garage (yeah, that's gonna be fun today), music lessons crowd the daily schedule, and I slept very little due to a moaning husband who decided to use the sleeping hours to practice getting up and down out of bed, along with walking around the bed ("Whoa! Was that an earthquake I just felt? Ummmm, never mind, ZZZZzzzzzz . . . ), and finally making therapeutic trips up and down the stairs. To say I lack sleep . . . , to say I crave refreshment . . . , to say I should zip my lip and go brew some lavender-laced tea WOULD BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT! I'm grumpy, overloaded, and decidedly unlovely today.

Let me slip away on the wings of more prayer from my dear, dear bloggy friends and I will surely return in an improved state.

As for updates regarding Gloria . . . I've little to report other than that she is mending and eagerly awaiting her release from ICU to a regular floor unit. From there, we must wait on God's timing and the doctor's approval before she can return home. Gary's back injury prevents further trips to the Bay Area to assist right now, and so we must rely on family reports and pray from afar.

Thank you all SO MUCH for the encouragement and prayers and thoughts. Even in my grumpy state I am grateful to God and you all for the touches. I will be responding to all emails and comments and such as time permits. It will be a welcome relief to come visiting with all of you. So much has happened, I know. One dear friend gave birth to a precious baby boy, another bought a house, and on and on the list goes. Life in all its facets enchants me . . . now if I can just find the right mind-set to dance in the buzzard stench, I will have a much better day.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Wonder

You were tired out
By the length of your road,
Yet you did not say,
'It is hopeless.'
You found renewed strength,
Therefore you did not faint.

Isaiah 57:10

* * *

But be not thou far from me,
O LORD: O my strength,
Haste thee to help me.

Psalm 22:19

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just In . . .

We just received a text message
from sister-in-law in attendance with Gloria.

It reads:

"The tube is coming out . . .
she's expected to make a full recovery."

* * *

I have no words to express my joy . . .

[Tears course down thankful cheeks on a face turned Heavenward.]

Friday, September 25, 2009

WONDERful News!!

Our God is AWESOME!!

Gary just called before setting out for home. He had just left his mother. She recognized him and tried to talk (which she can't due to the respirator tube). She communicated by nodding "Yes" and "No" and she waved good-bye when he prepared to go. She also responded to nurse's commands to move her legs.

She's there!
Praise God!

Gary missed the doctor by five minutes, but it is obvious that Gloria is not in the excruciating pain she once felt recently.

I'm dancing with joy.

Miracles delight me so,

Even those ordinary every-day sorts of wonders . . .

Like Our First Egg!!

: D

* * *

Please keep praying along with us.

Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications:
In thy faithfulness answer me,
And in thy righteousness.

Psalm 143:1

More Hope Flickers!

I just got off the phone with Gary and am greatly encouraged. Gloria IS responsive, though heavily sedated. She opened her eyes to acknowledge Gary's presence, she glanced over to look at his brother Mark, she repositioned herself in the bed for greater comfort, she smiled when the pastor was speaking in her presence yesterday, and she is taking in nourishment and processing it bodily. She is heavily sedated and the infection has not subsided, but for now she is still with us and we are still very much with her in prayer.

All we can do is rest in Him . . .

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement and just plain ol' sweetness that comes through in every comment. It matters so much more than I ever imagined to know that you all -- in all parts of the world -- are lifting up Gloria and my family and even me as we put one foot in front of the other on God's chosen path.

My girls are singing out for "Waffles! Waffles!" (to the tune of Abba's Mamma Mia) as I promised sourdough waffles for dinner. Who cares if it is in the mid nineties . . . we want waffles!

Dear friends, I will return with more news as it trickles in. God bless you all for your generous comments and thoughts and ABUNDANT prayers. Please don't stop. I love hearing from you! XO!!!

A Glimmer of Hope Remains

Gary just called and left a message: His mom is not as bad as he expected, though she is now on a ventilator. She is sedated and uncommunicative, but apparently not in a coma and her organs remain functioning. Her heart is strong . . . but we already knew that.

A glimmer of hope remains, it seems.

I have no further information as Gary is out of contact while he picks up his sister at the airport. She arrives from South Africa. Now the children can be together to pray and watch over their mother.

I continue to tend the hearth with my children several hundred miles from them. God knits us by heart and cups us in His loving hand.

Prayers continue.

I've seen miracles before . . . I named them Andrew and Matthew.

God is good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update . . .

Gloria is continuing to decline. Gary's brother reported that she is one step away from a ventilator. The infection continues unabated. Brain damage appears likely. My husband continues to shepherd us through this shadowy valley with a most godly hand. I am blessed, even as I am broken . . .

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Pray, Pray, Pray" . . .

. . . my brother-in-law ended his last email with these words. Gloria has gone downhill fast. She now has pneumonia in addition to the bacterial meningitis that has penetrated her brain from a blown eardrum filled with infection. The doctor repeatedly performs MRIs to assess some problem in the brain -- my brother-in-law did not ask what. I fear a brain abscess . . . But God. Latest word told that Gloria is agitated and must be restrained amidst all the sedation. Dear Lord, comfort her.

I have broken the news to my girls and they have made their way off to play the harp, pray, and study medical texts. The mood hangs heavy around here -- as the above rose displays so vividly.

We lay our burdens down at His feet, and I have urged my girls to curl up right along with the painful fears and rest in the lap of our Abba Father. He knows . . . we do not. He is powerful and mighty . . . we are not.

I must go tend to the hearth and keep the meals coming and the clean clothes washing. Matthew does not understand any of this, save that his family wears sorrow and that drags his spirits down as well. Autism is so cruel. And yet, we rejoice that our young man has battled so much this past year and has emerged as sweet and soft as he once was.

Lord, I pray for all of my children as they deal with this in their own way, and for my husband as he phones so many of the older friends and relatives to inform them of the progress (or lack thereof). For myself Lord . . . I ask only for peace in the midst of not knowing, as I battle my need-to-know persona every hour that goes by. Into your hands I commit it all . . .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Time to Pray . . .

My mother-in-law currently lies in the hospital under heavy sedation with some sort of unknown infection in her ear that potentially endangers her brain. We have such sketchy details, as we live hours away. The summaries we receive via phone do not paint a rosy picture. She recently returned from South Africa on a visit to her daughter and family, which poses a host of unknowns . . . but God knows.

I would be grateful to any who choose to join our family in sending up prayers in Gloria's behalf.

Necessarily, my blog retreat will stretch a bit longer.

Tomorrow Lydia turns 14 . . . the celebrations will go on as planned, but surely a shadow will fall over the day.

I shall retreat again for now, as I feel a bit overwhelmed by the events of this day. Thank you in advance to all my sweet, sweet friends who read and understand that life whirls in a messy sort of way . . . How good it is to grasp another's hand in the whirlwind, even as we sit under His tender wing.

Sunday Wonder

Today if ye will hear his voice,
Harden not your hearts.

Hebrews 4:7

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This Blog Has Been Temporarily Interrupted by FLUTTER-BY DAYS

Lately I cannot seem to find enough hours to blog
And live at the same time.
The last days of Summer dawdle in our temperate clime,
Reaching up into the 90s by day,
Dipping low to the chillies by night.

My soul senses change in the goings on in the garden.
My heart quickens with delight at the arrival of Fall,
My favorite season of all.

The arrival of the September Asters
Signals Lydia's birthday afoot
(Turning 14 -- OH MY!)

The arrival of a load of wood
Heralds the coming of Fall,
The gateway to Winter
The burnishing of the bushes

And harvesting of the apple

(Taste-tested by some pesky passer-by, I see)

And the returning of the Mantis Maids
To dance at the final Summer's Ball
Under fairy lamplight on the Mardi Gras rose
(Who will bloom up until nigh Christmas)

Bid me savor the last of the sweet summer fruits
Bathed in homemade yogurt

Or giggle over the latest thrifty treasure,
Asking only $30,
Sized just right for Miss Rachel --
How could I resist?

Upon placing the newest treasure in place
She tried it out
And pronounced it perfect.
Silence promptly hushed the room
As she fell through the doorway of a good read.
I, too, have been reading much,
Fascinated by Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswick Journals.
More and more volumes of her poetry and prose
Arrive from used book shops around the world
Filling my recently reorganized shelving
In preparation for Fall's beckoning days
And the early fall of night --
Perfect for reading something good.

This one reads Fitzgerald, that one chooses Hardy,
A tired one asks for read-alouds
While a younger one votes Fairy Tales for all . . .

But for just this day I prefer to stall Fall
And seek the last roses of summer,
Making sure to dance with one and all

In their vibrant gowns petal soft,

Taking care not to overlook
The last bit of Queene Anne's Lace
Peeking shyly underfoot

I shall return again soon with lots to share,
But please excuse me for just a bit
While I dance and play and live fully
These precious last days of Summer.

: D

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rain's Debut

Outside I did dash

At the pitter-pat's call

Finding ladies a-splash

In the portend of Fall

I love the first rain of the season .

Don't you?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Wonder

I will praise thee, O LORD,
With my whole heart;
I will shew forth
All thy marvellous works.

Psalm 9:1

Friday, September 11, 2009

Impromptu Fondue


Off goes the power at 5 o'clock p.m. on a Friday Night --
our Family Fun Night of the week.

Hmmmmm . . . what shall we do about dinner now?

Not that I had any really great ideas on a muggy eve following an afternoon of grocery shopping and thrifting following a morning of experimenting with my new yo'gourmet yogurt maker (which I haven't exactly mastered yet . . . post coming soon). This tired gal found the *POOF* less exciting than did the little ladies that scurried around gathering flashlights and reminiscing about all the fun we always have during a power outage.

"Good thing we have a woodstove," observed Rachel cheerfully.

I bit my tongue rather than mention the humid 90s registering on the thermometer.

"Hey," cried Elizabeth, "Let's make fondue with the fondue set we just got at the thrift store!"

Cheers went up from all corners of the keeping room.

(Did I mention I stood in the kitchen with a shocked look on my face. I guess I expected someone to say, "Hey let's eat bread and apples with a bit of cheese and then mom doesn't have to cook and make a mess which she will have to clean up in the dark without a dishwasher's assistance. Did I mention the crabbiness flowing through my brain on this muggy day? Did I also mention that I often fall apart between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. if I don't have a bit of respite and a cup of tea about 3:30ish -- which I missed this day?)

The giggles and glee swept everyone up in cheerful busy-ness creating a wave of joy that literally swept away the grouch in me.

Rachel ran to retrieve just the right cookbook.

With a little help from Remy, we came up with a luscious cheese fondue made from cheddar cheese and milk (plus a roux of flour and butter) with a hint of garlic, paprika, nutmeg, and the juice of a lemon dashed with a bit of salt and pepper.

With proper accompaniments like fresh brown bread,
sweet 100s from our garden,
juicy grapes, and generous chunks of gala apples,

Along with a sweet treat of Virgil's old-fashioned Root Beer
(free of any high fructose corn syrup)

We prayed and dug in with delight!

Heavy-laden little forks hefted gooey, gushy, globs of YUM into our mouths.

Fortunately I had the foresight to choose a cheddar-colored table cloth,
so blops didn't distract us.

Long before the fondue ran out
Our appetites ceased calling for more.
We pushed back with a sigh and
Imagine that . . .

: D

p.s. The power returned before we sat down to dinner, so I washed dishes in a brightly lit kitchen ALL BY MYSELF (and enjoyed every minute of it after such a fabulous feast).

Remembering . . .

The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings:
His heart is fixed,
Trusting in the LORD.

Psalm 112:6b,7

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been?

Well, my dear friends, I have been away from the blogs for a fair piece (returning soon to see what you have been up to in my prolonged absence), but I haven't been to see The Queen or even a lowly jester. Instead, I have been about the business of treasure hunting . . . for true wealth, as can only be found in the memories made in each passing day.

With Autumn still about two weeks away from her official debut, the welcoming coolness of these late, late Summer days has paved the way for coming away from the fans and back out into the gardens for fun and work and a host of other activities.

Around here we choose to mix up work and play,
Evidenced here in the building of a treehouse

For one happy girl (and dad, too, I see),

Who will lie back and gaze at this wondrous site.

Not one to enjoy wielding a hammer or saw,
Miss Lydia prefers to run amongst the flowers and trees.
These sweet days offer no finer opportunity
To dance among the trees

Finding flowers laden with unexpected gifts,
Like this Praying Mantis Maiden
Coyly searching for a mate.

Another rich memory greeted us one sleepy morning
When we tumbled out of bed
And found this delightful brunch awaiting us.

Rachel had set the table,
Prepared the meal,
And then simply waited for us
To discover the surprise.

Truly priceless memories found amongst these days.

Still, there's more . . .

More spinning dates.
More to learn.

Like how this unusual contraption
makes a skein of yarn into a tidy package,

Which can then be turned into something very special
(like this blankie Elizabeth has fashioned
for a soon-to-be-born little boy).

Miss Elizabeth has had especially busy hands these days.
Here you see her very first pie crust

And the mouthwatering dinner we enjoyed.
Trust me . . . it was soooooo rich and delicious!

With so much happening around our busy homestead,
We easily lose track of time . . .

But the maturation of these "chicks"
Reminds us that time does fly.

Similarly, some things never change,
As you can see that Miss "Freckles"
Still plays the loner.

"Company's Coming!" always delighted me as a child,
and the passing of years has not changed that one bit.

Getting together with a treasure trove of friends
Makes for a day overflowing
With the kind of wealth and blessings
That satisfy long after the meal has been consumed,
The table cleared,
And the dishes stowed tidily away.

Our dear Friend, Chef Karl,
"Laboured" away over a fully-laden BBQ

While his wife Lily and her sister Susan
Enjoyed catching up on all the happenings
Around here since our last get together.

Relaxed fun for all!
(You can't find that in a bank vault.)

As the sun slipped slowly away
We chatted by candlelight,
Wishing we could find a firefly
To add to our cache of beauty
In this gently, rich life.