Friday, July 29, 2011

RGBP's Friday Five: Decisions, Decisions (deja vu edition):

Today we play off of one of my favorite and most memorable Friday Fives to blog from: Decisions, Decisions posted by Songbird last July 23. I went back to that post to make sure I had new choices for you to make. I found out -- again -- that she was then, as I have been recently, in the midst of a discernment process and thinking about what goes into decision making.

A decision from history: There is a chair that still sits in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall). Legend has it that it was George Washington's chair, the back carved with a half sun. Benjamin Franklin would look at it and wonder whether it was a rising or a setting sun. Eventually Franklin decided it was the hopeful symbol of the rising sun, a sign of the future of our new republic.

How do you decide? Check out the following pairs and tell which one of each appeals to you most:

1) Sunrise or Sunset -
Sunset. We see some of the most beautiful and incredible sunsets from
our backyard with the open meadow behind us. What's not to love? The
day softens around the edges, the colors are amazing: turquoise,
salmon, fushia, gold, apricot, lavendar, grey and blue. Sunsets can
say, the day is over, let it go, see the beauty, tomorrow is
another day, be thankful and go softly into the night.

2) To the Mountains or To the Beach -
Probably, the beach. I love to stroll along the beach, wade into the
water, watch the waves and ebb and flow. All very healing, restful,
calming. Even watching storms over the lake are so cool. Ocean beaches
are wonderful as well. I think the water is my main draw and just
ambling along the shoreline with feet in the water is for me, a great

3) Coffee or Tea -
Mostly coffee. Although I do enjoy a cup of Rooiboss - red African
bush tea.

4) Advent or Lent -
Tough one. I like the anticipation of Advent, but it's just so short
and so busy. It's hard to say I "enjoy" Lent, yet the 6 weeks offers
more preparation time. Lent is a more introspective time for me and
emotionally more intense.

5) "Raindrops on Roses" or "Whiskers on Kittens" -
I'd have to go with the raindrops on roses, since I'm not a big fan
cats. I love flowers and seeing their colors and even the raindrops
speak more to me than kitties. But little kittens are very cute.
Make it puppies and you have me there. Puppies are just too cute
and wriggly and snuggly, warm and fuzzy and I could never resist
a puppy. Puppies even beat raindrops on roses.

BONUS: Tell more about one of the pairs. Why did you choose it? Difficult or easy choice? A story from your own experience?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am mourning the loss of Borders book stores which are in the process of closing. I enjoyed going to Borders, spending unhurried time to browse new releases, classics, religion, the bargain shelves, to get LH his Wegman calendar, Lang cloth calendars for the kitchen (which when the year is done, is washed and then becomes a drying towel), maps for the countries we visited and guide books, and all the fun stuff in their stationary section.
I could spend hours in a book store and every time I entered one, I was like a kid in a candy store; full of wonder, delight, and it always made me feel good all over. Going to the bookstore has been a salve for a sore spirit. It's not a place to hurry, but to take time, to find the right read, and to happen on something you hadn't known about.
Even when I was a child and would take the "EL" into Chicago and meet my Aunt at Marshall Fields, we would always stop at Kroch & Brentano' - the forerunner to Borders. What joy would fill me to behold shelves and shelves of books and to find something special and wonderful to read.
Book stores have always been a place of wonderment for me. And alas, they are going away. And I am, mourning.
As much as I also enjoy Amazon, sometimes, you just want to hold the book and read the synopsis before purchasing it or run across a book you hadn't noticed before. Shopping Amazon is just not the same as wandering in and around a bookstore.
It is a sad time for me. No longer will I be able to just be in a bookstore surrounded by wisdom, advice, knowledge and imagination. The Library for me always felt stark and cold, but the bookstore was crammed with possibilities and always a purchase.
So, I grieve this passing. We have a Barnes & Noble fairly close by, but I wonder how long they will continue to be around.
I am intrigued by the Kindle, but love to hold my books, and use a lovely bookmark to mark my place. I have held off giving in to e-reading.
But now, now, I am confronted by it and I can no longer ignore it or hold off. Borders is closing. Bookstores may be a thing of the past. And I have to make an unexpected trip to Switzerland. How can I justify bringing along three books - size and weight - when there are so many weight and baggage restrictions imposed by the airlines? The Kindle is lightweight and small and can hold several books. It just makes sense.
And so while I mourn the closing of a great bookstore, I am stepping out into the future and ordering a Kindle. Hope I can figure it out before I leave the end of August. I hadn't planned on making such a purchase but the time seems right.
I hadn't planned on going to Switzerland but with the death of my last Aunt, the one who met me at the "EL" station and took me to Kroch & Brentano's Bookstore, and is the last of my father's siblings and last of that generation, I am going to her memorial service. And getting the Kindle almost seems fitting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yes, we are roasting here in OH and aren't the only ones to do so!!
I am so very thankful for air conditioning and no power outages.
I was going to do some work in the herb garden - fix a tomato plant, weed some more and dig up some garlic -'s so flippin' hot! I still have to deadhead the other planter box of geraniums. That may be all I get to today while doing my laundry.
It is so good to be back home again. It just wasn't the same without LH.
I did enjoy some sista time!!! Had dinner out a nice french bistro on Bastille Day and we ate outside!!! Went to Talbot's outlet store and found two great blazers - one a grey boiled wool with cute gatherings on lapel and pockets. The price: about $22.00, regularly priced at $224.00. The other was a plum/raisin corduray blazer with shirring in front and back for $10.80, I can't even remember the regular price. Found some good red wine at Trader Joes and hit the Outlet Mall in WI with my sister - she found, I actually found the airy kinda crocheted cardigan, and with her store credit, and my contribution as a birthday present, she only paid $10.00 for it.
The Beach was...well...fishy! Dead alewives were strewn all over the beach washing up on shore. We raked dead silvery little fish with lifeless open eyes into piles then buried them in the sand in trenches. On Tuesday, the lake was calm and with great effort waves broke upon the shore. I was going to step into the cool water and walk along the beach. Unfortunately, along the shore the waves just brought in lake spinach and more dead alewives and not just a few that you could sidestep like on Monday. More's the pity. I did see a dead Coho salmon further up the Beach in the State Park area.
We enjoyed the most beautiful moon rises where it seems as though one cast a line far out over the edge of the lake and reeled up the moon from the horizon's edge.
We saw a fawn and doe, the little bunny, the robin mother feeding her two young, dragonflies and hummingbirds and the great blue herons who flew right over our part of the beach.
I had two days of alone time and read and wrote and gazed upon the lake. It was wonderfully restorative.
My sister and BIL went to the town's big summer one day event with several bands, crafts, and of course, fish fry mania with several service
groups offering a medley of fried fish and fries. The cold beer was refreshing.
We went to another town's art fest the next day and I found a new pottery mug with no room in our cupboard for it! And after discussion with LH, a digital pic taken by BIL and his email (I was without computer and internet service), I bought my first contemporary painting which will still need to be mounted and framed. Hope it gets here soon!!! I was really taken by the use of light color palette and some texture. IT just spoke to me and drew me in. Not too many contemporary pieces will do that to me. I knew it was a keeper and would go well on our dining room wall. I had to convince LH and I think we all did!!!
Came home with some local smoked salmon and fresh (but I immediately froze them) whitefish fillets that traveled back to the Windy City down to central IL University town, across IN, halfway through OH and up to NE OH all in a cooler with freezer packs. They made it frozen even with this great heat.
I also found a new brew in WI - New Glarus Brewing Co.'s Two Women. A very pleasant beer.
I savored a bottle of Mad Housewife Merlot at the Lake House. It was pretty good for an unknown CA winery.
I spent a late afternoon and night with my niece in Central IL University Town and got the grand tour and saw her cute, old bungalow freshly painted with some renovation and her huge garden with sweet corn, squashes, tomatoes, radishes, asparagus, lettuce, etc. We had dinner at a Barbeque joint - Cuban sandwiches with pulled pork and ham and cheese, red slaw and of course, a couple of beers. Then for dessert, we went to the cupcake shop - for Fudge Rush cupcake and she a White Chocolate Macadamia nut one. Simply delicious. We had time to talk face to face and I could admire all she's done with the house. I brought her down a contemporary artwork/painting she bought by a local painter who lives on the Beach and it will go very well in her dining room.
I had a very long drive home yesterday in very hot weather, but it was safe and good.
The boys, all my boys (greys and LH) will thrilled to see me as I them. I brought them treats TJ's Peanut Butter Flavored Dog Cookies, and some wonderful Tortuga rum for LH. So they were happy.
It is good to be home again. Time to pick up and deal with things and get ready to supply preach for a couple Sundays.
The summer storm is rolling in and I must tend my laundry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Ready -
The van is vacuumed out, the windshield is clean, shiny and new, and the dashboard and all is cleaned. Just have to go fill the tank so it will be full come morning.
Next comes the packing and it looks like it will be rather warm over the weekend up at the Lake House. Sigh...It must be me. Whenever we go on vacation, it is always hot even in places that "never gets this hot!", like the Dawson City, Yukon, Canada! Ha! Just wait 'til we arrive, you'll know hot!
I have a couple of items to make sure to bring back: Amarula and some Ewig Bros. smoked salmon.
Somehow, the adventure is not the same going without LH. In some ways, I can feel free to walk the beach and read by the Lake without him being bored. But, it's simply more fun with him and going to our usual haunts and discovering new places and things. I feel kinda bad leaving him with the dogs and working.
Yet, the pull to spend time with my sister and all the family I have left is too great not to take advantage of this inbetween positions time to make the trip. I hope I won't get too sleeply driving. I haven't pulled a 7 hour drive in years. I can do 4 hours fairly easy. It's just some parts of Eastern OH after Toledo and Western IN are so flat and dull and the with the rhythmic sound of the road seams under the tires I get lulled to sleep. Will need plenty of tunes and some M & M's for an afternoon sugar rush.
So, I will probably not be posting for the next several days and hope to have some things to post on my return.
I pray the time away, at the Lake will be healing, inspiring, renewing to my soul and my spirit.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's been dry. And hot. The lawns have gone brown already and it's not even mid-July! I have been busy watering either the front flower beds or the back garden every evening. The Japanese beetles are back but not in the numbers they have been in the last three years. Could it be that we have actually decimated the population?!!?
It's been dry in my life as well. I've cleaned house, done laundry, cooked and made salads and marinated carrots that last for weeks in the fridge. I still have to vacuum out the van. That's for Wednesday morning when it's supposed to be cooler. Today, the van gets a new windshield, again. It's the second replacement. I don't know why rocks spewed up by vehicles on the other side of the road hit my windshield and not someone else's. I've never, ever had to replace a windshield on any of my vehicles before, let alone twice.
I am restless. I am not a good housewife. I need something more. I am going to take advantage of this free time and head to the Lake House for some quiet time by Lake Michigan and to see my sister. It's been 11 months since I've last seen her. It's time. I have books to take with me and my camera and my journal. They will be my companions. I will miss the boys.
I will be going on a shoestring and will miss visiting some of the usual places LH and I always stop at. I will squeeze in one or two. I pray that the snakes will make themselves scarce. Every time I am by myself, the garter snake appears and disappears in the yard or in the grasses by the State Park along the beach. I could do without the snakes.
I long to be working, serving, doing something useful and contributing to the household expenses. I miss church.
Aye, there is more to dryness than just the physical. There is a spiritual dryness as well. Part of the dark night of my soul. I continue to pray and to spend time with the Great Silence. And I have a few things to read that will water my spirit and keep me hydrated for a while.
Like the River Clump Birch tree in the backyard which is dropping yellow leaves like it is fall, I feel the same dryness and thirst, thirst for something more, thirst to serve, thirst to get on with this next chapter of our lives. I tend to the dryness through scripture, prayer, reading, journalling and still it is not enough to quench the dryness.
And so we, thirst in this dryness - the trees, the flowers, the herbs, the tomatoes, the grass and I. Longing for the refreshing rain from the heavens above, that quench and satisfy, revive and cool, and make all abundant and growing again.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Naked Meadow -
There are about 20 acres of meadow behind our house in the subdivision. The greatest expense in the HOA fees has been for mowing these past years.
This spring with all the rain the meadow has flourished and the grasses so tall that one couldn't even walk the 1/4 mile track loop. If you can even call a bunch of gravel with weeds and grass a track anymore.
We wondered if they were ever going to mow, knowing that once it gets dry, the meadow could be a tinderbox.
Well, on Thursday, the mowing began and at the end of the day, it was piled with cut down grasses and weeds.
On Friday, the serious work began. First, a machine that combed the cut mowing into neat rows, then they came through with a baler and then finally, the gleaner that rolled the remaining clippings into shredded wheat rolls. There must have about 25 shredded wheat rolls and about 4 wagonloads - overloaded with bales.
What a marvelous idea! To have the meadow mowed for hay - bedding for horses, for use in a dairy barn, etc.
The ones who did had all the equipment necessary and obviously knew what they were doing. They finished around 11 pm last night, loading the last of the rolls that look like ginormous shredded wheat. It was a very long, hot day of great physical labor.
I, who grew up a suburbanite of the Windy City, was amazed at the baler and curious about the gleaner and even got to see the machine burp out a finished roll!! Then, I was wondering how they got those rolls on a wagon and later that evening, I saw them with a lift fork and watched them load the rolls on the wagon.
Finally, a good use of all the meadow grasses and somebody will make some money selling it and we, are happy homeowners. Wish, I had thunk of it! A brilliant idea that is good all the way around.
And I could marvel at how it all works and is done!
The Japanese beetle war has begun for this year. All it took was a hot,dry day! Bag One - 8 beetles. Sevin - 4 beetles.
I don't really like to use Sevin on my flowers or bushes. It seems to speed the burning bush's turning to red and then dropping its leaves by the
beginning of September. We have honey bees, bumblebees, finches and hummingbirds that feast on the flowers and their seed. I have no wish to harm them or the flowers. So, with great reluctance, I resort to Sevin only when the infestation is great and their is Japanese orgy going on in my potentilla and burning bush.
There will be many more beetles to come as the day promises to be a very hot one and our morning rain is over.
For all the bags and beetles we have caught over the past 3 years, you'd think the population would have been greatly decimated. Time will tell, how we do this year!