October 29, 2012

rained in

Hurricane Sandy is approaching.

We all mob the stores for milk, bread, or our own personal emergency supplies of choice (chocolate, for instance, or sardines, or pretzels).  Excitement and dread transform the checkout lines:  everyone is a friend with whom to discuss the weather and your preparations.  Facebook abounds with photos and commentary, predictions and confessions.

Our bathtub is full of water, the trampoline is weighted down with pellet bags, the pantry and fridge are stocked with no-prep foods, and the children are going stir-crazy.

I feel a certain poetic obligation to regal you with tales of how we all gathered in the kitchen today to bake chocolate chip cookies and play board games together .... but alas, it would be pure fabrication.  Mostly I tried to block out the piping voices of four excited, house-bound children - no, wait, they weren't even entirely house-bound!  We actually sent them out into the storm this morning to play for a bit (well, sort of:  they were allowed to dash through the rain to play in the barn for an hour, and they took a walkie-talkie with them for communication purposes).

Power outages do give me warm fuzzies, sort of.  Preparing for them, not so much.  Candles and story-telling and singing are the stuff of memories .... but as long as the lights are still on, the noise levels tempt me to use my Farmer's target-shooting earplugs.

Just sayin .....

October 28, 2012

drops of rain

The talk at church this morning was as much about Hurricane Sandy as it was about communion, almost.  Facebook was full of it (as usual).  After lunch, I hard-boiled the eggs, filled water coolers and five gallon buckets, baked a gingerbread, and, feeling a little crazy, invited a friend's family to come for supper.

Outside the window, the sky was overcast but calm, the windchimes far from frantic, yet.

Our last-minute social plans fell through, and we gathered around, just us, for our usual simple Sunday night fare:  popcorn, fruit, pretzels, cheese, trail mix, and - just for tonight - my gingerbread & applesauce.

Night fell quietly, and Sugar & Spice laid aside their earlier squabbles to play Mancala.  Nice & Lil' Snip made their own peace, and built forts out of the sofa cushions.  My Farmer strummed his banjo thoughtfully and I peered over my book at my lot in life, spread out across the livingroom.

I'm low today, a little.  Ungrounded, adrift.  It anchors me to watch my children play, to hear their happiness, to bear their fighting, even.  They're mine.  They came from me, and God knows where they'll go.

A night of family shores me up, fills in the cracks of dryness in my soul.

The rains begin, outside.

October 24, 2012

wasteland no more

Reading in Isaiah this morning:

"... for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil.  
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, 
and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.  
I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, 
and rebuild them as they were at first.  
I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, 
and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.  
And this city shall be to me 
a praise and a glory 
before all the nations of the earth 
who shall hear of all the good that I do for them.  
They shall fear and tremble because of all the good 
and all the prosperity I provide for it.

"Thus says the Lord:  In this place of which you say, 
'It is is a waste without man or beast,' 
in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, 
without man or inhabitant or beast, 
there shall be heard again the voice of mirth 
the voice of the bridegroom 
and the voice of the bride, 
the voices of those who sing, 
as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:

"'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
     for the Lord is good,
     for his steadfast love endures forever!'

"For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, 
says the Lord."

          {ch. 33:5-11}

October 22, 2012

blinded, mostly

God is up to something.

Of course He is - He always is.  But -

- sometimes He peels back the curtain a bit and invites us to look in.  It takes my breath away, every time.  Even before I understand what I'm looking at.

It makes me realize that He's always up to something, and it's always more than I could comprehend in my wildest dreams, and it's always good.

Just sayin.'

Stay alert.  Watch, and pray.  Your prayers matter, more than you think.  You are part of the plan, and when He's ready, He will reveal the little bit that you can handle in this lifetime, and if you look closely ....

.... maybe you'll see the twinkle in His eye.

October 13, 2012



A good day, a long one.

Up at 6:14, fully thirty-nine minutes after my alarm clock was supposed to have gone off.

Shower fast, grateful that I loaded the van with my pottery and table the night before.

Eat breakfast at a bad-for-my-digestion speed and I'm outta there.

Set up table with 35-degree fingers late-nervous-fast to be all ready just in time, and then - finally sit down.  On my wet camp chair.

Relax anyway.  (but, standing up).

Spend six hours on my feet (except for when I thought my camp chair had dried out, and tried it again...) smiling at people who mostly bought no pottery, but sometimes (thank you!!) did.  Memorize their faces, these people who loved my pots.

And eventually, visiting with my friends, neighbors, God-family, without glancing back at my table for customers, just looking into eyes and feeling spirits expand as they unload themselves of a little piece of who they are, trusting it into my hands.  Stand in that sun, warming my jeans, my hair.  Soak it up.  Soak it in deep.

The rush of the morning, the coming crush of evening's appointments, all fade in the sun, in the warm crowd of people, mingling souls.

: : :

"I wonder," wrote Dr. Frank Crane nearly a century ago, "if it is written just which souls, of all the millions, shall touch ours?  And each one whose personality impinges upon ours, even in the least, leaves some particles of flavor of himself upon us, and we upon him."

I believe it is.  And I believe that someday we will see the beautiful tapestry that has been woven of all the miscellaneous threads of our meetings.

I did some weaving today.

October 11, 2012


Breathe in .... breathe out ....

Two weeks ago our family took a break from life's everyday pace,
to better experience life every day.
For half a decade, maybe, we've been doing this in the fall.
We call it "family week."

We un-attic (& de-stinkbug) the tent ...

... build a fire, and see how long we can keep it going ...

... coffee sets the mood for relaxing ... 
(with an impromptu science lesson regarding coconut oil & cream)

... eat outside every meal that we can ...

... make the most of the new "living space" ...

... learn new skills ...

... smile a lot ...

... firegaze a lot ...

My Farmer took our daughters to the county park to hunt mushrooms.
They also found a grapevine big enough to swing on!

... and a covered bridge ...

One night for supper he made arepas - 
two corn fritters fried with cheese in the middle.
We ate them so hot they burned our fingers.
We didn't care.

Spice & Sugar made dyes from pokeberries, walnut hulls, and pulverized grass,
to color corn husks for corncob doll clothes.

Off on another mushroom hunt, this time in our own woods.

... puffballs ...

... gleaned corn, more mushrooms, and a snail!
Can you see him?

Nice shelling her corn.

... and Spice claims the snail for a pet!

We gathered chestnuts from the treeline, 
roasted them over the fire ...

... and created the Perfect S'more!

... went fishing ...

... looked for beauty in the ordinary ...

... lounged on the hammock ...

All week, we breathed, in & out ...
... talked, read, sat in the sun ...
... drank in the outdoors God gives us for our inner calm.

It stilled our souls,
readied us for "regular" again, 
made it easier to say no, thanks to things that steal our still,
our gratitude re-birthed.

Better than a vacation in the tropics
was this week at home.

October 10, 2012

unbelievable chocolate

Friends, I should totally be making supper, but instead I am writing to tell you about some unbelievable "homemade chocolate" that I just made.  You.  Have.  Got.  To try this!

(and please don't tell Janet Gehman, my favorite high school English teacher, that I just wrote and published a sentence with that kind of incredibly made-up punctuation in it.  . . . on the other hand, she just might approve!)

Okay, credit where credit is due:  this recipe comes from homemade mommy's blog.  I don't know anything else about her but believe you me I am going to find out.  Anyone who invents something this easy, this mind-blowingly yummy, this healthy deserves my investigation!

Enough build-up.  I am unkind to linger.  Here is the recipe:

Homemade Chocolate

1/2 cup coconut oil (the more expensive is supposedly better but just use what you have and research that later)
1/4 cup honey (raw is best)
1/2 cup cocoa (if you know someone in southeast PA, have them ship Wilbur's cocoa to you)
1/2 tsp. vanilla (please, I beg you, do not use imitation vanilla in this.....)
dash of salt

Mix:  warm the oil and raw honey if necessary, but if you're impatient like me you can just mash it all together with a wooden spoon.  Spread on wax paper and chill.  If you melted, you'll have to line a pan with wax paper and pour it in - see, sometimes being impatient actually saves you time!!  Even out the edges with a knife as it chills.  Eat the trimmings.  So important to have the edges even, isn't it?  And so easy for them to get wobbly.  Trim frequently if necessary.  Go ahead and feel virtuous about the honey and coconut oil.

If there is still some left by the time it's chilled (after all those trimmings), cut into bite-sized pieces and eat 'em up!!!  I mean, store in airtight container and ration out a single piece daily, to be consumed mindfully and with gratitude.

Do share the recipe.  Share the chocolate, too, if you're sufficiently generous.  (and I know you are, or you wouldn't be reading this blog!!)

Ahhh ... doesn't life seem a little bit brighter, now that you can make your chocolate, and eat it, too?

October 5, 2012


At the end of each day, my husband and children and I gather on the sofa (we can still all fit, if laps are involved) and, among other things, talk about the best parts of our day.

Dirt was my highlight, today.

I went outside, initially, to pawn Lil' Snip off onto Sugar.  I had stuff inside I wanted to do (as usual).  But, once outside, I was invited to view a catfood-making enterprise, starring soaked corn gleaned from the fields around us.  Then there were the bikers, lost on country roads, who were desperate enough to consult my 10-year-old for directions.  And then .... I saw the weeds.  One thing always leads to another ...

I had seen the weeds before, of course, but somehow they didn't register until I viewed them with my mother-in-law present.  This morning when she came to whisk Spice away for a day out, Nice urged her to accept a chrysanthemum, which somehow led to us all admiring the (weed-choked) plants.  THEN I saw the weeds!

So when I saw them again, later that morning, I thought I might as well do something [small] about it.  It always starts so innocently:  I'll just pull out a few of the larger grasses so we can see the mums better.

And before you know it, twenty minutes have passed, the children are all helping with gusto, and my fingernails are black with dirt.  Glorious, actually.  I felt invigorated.

As a bonus, when I turned around to survey my newly visible lavender, hosta, and chrysanthemum bed, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a scrap of palest violet under the star magnolia by the end of the wall.  Could that be - ?!

It was - the saffron bulbs (corms?) that I had planted while my daughters held a flashlight for me one night last fall, the ones that I had searched for in vain during a mid-summer weed-cleansing, had come up!  They had actually bloomed, these little dainties I had given up for lost!!  I applied my grimy nails to grubbing out the grass and creeping Jenny that had grown up under the magnolia, and soon found all twelve corms (bulbs?), each sprouting a translucent tube of emerging glossy dark-green spike-leaves.  And two blooms, complete with fragrant crimson stigmas (thank you, wikipedia - I was going to call them stamens....) destined for a pot of chicken corn soup this winter.  Ahhh .... that was worth the stained fingernails!

We'll be looking for more blossoms soon.  More stigmas for our soup.

That's some good dirt.

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