Spring Comes Lately

May 28, 2011 | My Jottings

Living as far north as we do, our green-up and blooming days always seem a little slow in coming. Last weekend I was in the Minneapolis area for this, and the farther south we drove, the greener it got. Driving back home was like driving into winter without the snow; mostly bare trees and not much grass yet.

That’s why I had to go outside to take some pictures today of our full-blown spring. The grass has been mown already, the flowers are blooming, and there are dozens of birds everywhere, making our yard sound like the soundtrack from Bambi.

Speaking of Bambi, this little newborn fawn was photographed in our town last week, resting peacefully in someone’s front yard.

Isn’t that the most adorable photo? It’s enough to to make me never want to eat venison again!  OH WAIT!I already never want to eat venison again. I almost forgot.

I love Bleeding Hearts — these are in our garden that surrounds the big maple tree in our front yard:

I noticed how huge the rhubarb leaves have gotten in just one week — the largest of these leaves are about the size of a large pizza pan. I think if you put a chair right next to this plant and kept really still, you could probably see them grow before your very eyes. Time for some rhubarb crisp!

I noticed some small, feeble-looking leaves on the ivy vines that grow up our chimney, too. It’s hard to believe that in just a few months this chimney will look like the photos I posted here.

You might never suspect from the picture above that this is the vine that wants to eat Michael and Julie’s house every year, would you?

I’ve been watching our backyard maple tree through the kitchen window for several days now. A few days ago there were just little red buds. You can click on these pictures to enlarge them if you like….then there were new, shiny leaves unfurling:

And closer to the south side of the tree, there were larger maple leaves beginning to spread out and take their shape:

This tree will put on the most gorgeous autumn performance in about three and a half months. And then all the leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground. And then it will be winter. And then the temperatures will plummet to thirty degrees below zero. Waah.

And what is spring without a hammock?

And what’s a hammock without a Schnauzer?

I can hear a small plane drone overhead as I type this. I can see my husband and daughter in the front yard planting the truck full of flowers they bought at the nursery today. I see chickadees flutter fast to the feeders on our back deck. I can not hear the quiet hum of the furnace.

I guess this means I can stop wearing SmartWools with my Birkenstocks now.

What does spring mean to you?

“We’re pretty sure she’ll need braces.”

May 24, 2011 | My Jottings

Tell me you don’t have a school picture like this in your past.

A photo with teeth poking through all over the place and not knowing where to finally settle, with hair done by your mother who probably used Aqua Net hair spray, and with freckles and innocence all over your face.

When I was ten years old and in the fifth grade, my parents began furrowing their brows whenever I smiled at them. At that age I hardly looked in the mirror, so I had no idea that my teeth were looking so, er, outstanding. But I guess parents can see things that ten year olds cannot. Even one of my older brothers, Steve, had noticed. But he wasn’t furrowing, he was guffawing. And he called me Bucky Beaver a lot. He also called me Porky Pig, but I was twig-thin back then so all these years later I’ve finally figured out that he was just plain mean.

This is my fifth grade school photo, which just seems wrong on so many levels. :)

First of all, the hair. I shared here about how my mother had an intense aversion to a thing about long, stringy hair, and did not like bangs at all. I guess the do she gave me (I slept in hard, plastic rollers secured with hair pins) reflected what she thought was the best look for little girls in 1967.

Second, the lavender bow. I had a whole drawerful of velvet bows and plastic headbands, and this one was obviously picked because I was wearing my purple ribbed turtleneck sweater.

What you can’t see is the matching purple and white plaid wool skirt with the thick purple belt. And the purple fishnet stockings. And the black Mary Jane shoes. (The spots you see on the sweater are on the picture itself — there is no way my mother would have let me out the door on picture day with spots on my clothes!)

Thirdly, the old lady pin. I’m pretty sure the pin was my mom’s idea too. I don’t remember balking at wearing it, because I was ten years old and didn’t care about things like purple flower pins to go on purple sweaters. What I cared about was 1) swimming, 2) reading books, 3) tether ball, and 4) riding bikes with my friend Denel.

Oh, and I wanted my parents to be happy and to love each other all the time and forever.

Fourth, my teeth. My permanent teeth had begun their eruptions two years before, and I think everyone held their breath to see if my bite was going to be a steep slope or go all the way to a cantilever. This photo doesn’t quite show just how much of an overbite I had.

My dentist, Dr. Kent Payne, recommended a good orthodontist. After my first appointment with him, Dr. Teal, a master of understatement, came out to the waiting room to gravely tell my mother “Well, we’re pretty sure she’ll need braces.”

I had to wait one more year until more permanent teeth came down into place, and then I was fitted for headgear, which looked very much like this photo. The headgear was designed to move my upper molars back to make room for the correction that was to eventually be done on my front teeth. I wore the headgear at night while I slept and on weekends. I can remember many hours of curled up reading with my headgear on.

After a few months of the headgear, I had braces put on my front teeth. I wore those braces for less than a year because my teeth moved quickly. I was called Metal Mouth and worse, but I don’t ever remember minding that moniker. I never minded the Metal Mouth moniker. I like alliteration so just spontaneously decided to say the quadruple M-phrase over again for your enjoyment.

Then I was fitted for a retainer, and I was to wear that round the clock for two years. It was a pink plastic mold that in hindsight looked like a crustacean of some sort, that was fitted to the roof of my mouth and had a wire in front of my teeth to keep them in place after all the realigning that had been done. My friend Denel had braces and eventually a retainer too, and we liked to have our pictures taken in photo booths — some of our most memorable were when we smiled at the camera with our retainers sticking out.

I’ve always been thankful that I had braces when I was young, and I told my parents so. My brother stopped calling me Bucky Beaver, and I was finally able to easily close my mouth after years of several front teeth getting in the way.

Did you have braces? What were your experiences with them?

And if any of you have an elementary school picture of yourself, scan it and email it to me, and I’ll put it here on the blog. It’s good to laugh together. Anyone who sends me a photo wins something too. :)

UPDATE — May 26 — My sweet friend Shari, whom I met in Junior High and have some wonderful memories with, sent this photo of me today. It would have been around eighth grade, I believe.

You can actually see the retainer I wrote about above. So exciting, I know.

And here’s a darling photo of Shari. Shari is a wife, mother of two beautiful grown children, a gifted, published artist, and follower of Christ. She and I used to swim together a lot when we were in Junior High School, and I’m so thankful to still be in touch with her forty years after this photo was taken.


Resilience

May 23, 2011 | My Jottings

My friend Carole and I were in Bella Flora last week and she found this card. She bought it and plans to frame it.

I know it’s supposed to be funny, but it impacted me in a wistful way.

This is a person of resilience, this person who can rejoice at seeing the moon after the barn was reduced to ashes.

I would like to be more resilient. In fact, if I could find a Resilience 101 class, I would sign up for it.

Are you a resilient person? If so, how do you think you became resilient? What are some strategies you use to bounce back? If you’re not the resilient sort, what do you think you could do to become more resilient?

“There is no other stream…”

May 16, 2011 | My Jottings

My friend Steve sent me this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair recently, and my eyes immediately filled with tears. It’s a scene between the girl named Jill and The Great Lion Aslan…

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

It is becoming increasingly unpopular these days to assert that Jesus is the door to God. People seem to be okay talking about God, but I’ve noticed that the name of Jesus makes some people uncomfortable. I have not posted this to make anyone uncomfortable, but every now and then I feel inclined to declare my faith in Christ. I do believe He is who He says He is:

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

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A Mother Bear’s Prayer

May 12, 2011 | My Jottings

No thees and thous for me these days. Not that I’ve ever prayed using thees and thous…

Just short, heartfelt, pleading prayers.

“I call to you, LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you!”

Psalm 88:9b

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 61

May 11, 2011 | My Jottings

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

Minnie Louise Haskins

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Christy

May 7, 2011 | My Jottings,My Joys

I have a friend in Tennessee. She is one of the people I love most in the world, yet we’ve only had the opportunity to be together six times.

The first time we met was in 1994 at her and my brother’s home in Southern California, a horse ranch on the high desert at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The next time we saw each other was just a year ago, when my husband Michael and I traveled to their current home near the banks of the Tennessee River in the eastern part of that state. The last time I got to spend time with her was in August of 2010, when she and her daughter (my beloved niece) came to visit us in Minnesota.

I’m not sure how someone can have a close and devoted relationship with someone they’ve only seen in person for three periods of time, but I know it’s possible.

I’m talking about my sister-in-law Christy. Christy married my oldest brother Larry a couple of decades ago, and introduced herself to me through a letter in the mail. I knew we were kindred spirits as soon as I set the letter down, but I had no idea that we would be dear friends someday.

Christy loves knitting, books, animals, long vigorous walks, quiet times in a hammock in their fruit orchard, canning the bounty of what they grow, crafting, her family and the Lord. Even though she loves her alone and quiet times, she’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known.

Christy is a woman of deep, solid faith in Christ, and we pray for each other and for our loved ones. I would trust her with my life.

She is an educated woman who gave up her secure and lucrative ob/gyn nurse practitioner job in order to school her daughter Savannah at home for twelve years. Christy and Savannah did a lot of their homeschooling in a tent that they moved around on their five acres of land, so they could be outside while they read and learned and drank in the beauty of the land around them. Christy has told me of those golden days when she and her daughter would take pillows and blankets to the tent and read and study for hours while the breezes blew the tent flaps and the bees buzzed and the birds sang and the river just over the edge of their property streamed slowly by. As the years passed, Christy and her only child grew very close, and the result of Christy and Larry’s sacrifice took firm root, grew tall and bloomed. Savannah is a lovely young woman who went on to graduate from college with honors, and is now getting ready to enter grad school. She is a daughter any mother would be thankful for.

When Christy and I occasionally talk on the phone, it’s entirely possible for an hour or two to go by and still not be enough time to cover all that we could in conversation. Christy is a wonderful, compassionate listener. She’s hysterically funny, which in my opinion is largely wasted because “she’s not a people person but is a person person,” so her ability to make people laugh is only revealed in small, infrequent measures.

Christy has a slightly warped sense of humor that I absolutely love. When Savannah was a young girl she was saying her own name out loud one day, “Savannah Kate,” and Christy sat down and looked into her eyes with great concern and said to her innocent little daughter, “Savannah…did you think your name was Savannah Kate? Oh, honey I’m so sorry. Your name is Savannah Gate.” Can you imagine what must have gone through Savannah’s mind? A small child’s world must have shifted right then. Savannah Gate? My name is Savannah Gate and not Savannah Kate? Think of the bewilderment and the sudden reorienting it must have taken for Savannah to realize her name wasn’t at all what she had thought for her entire young life! When I asked Christy how long she allowed Savannah to think her real name was Savannah Gate she answered “About three or four days.”

I must confess that when I heard this story I was practically pounding the table and could hardly catch my breath from laughing so hard. Here was a woman after my own heart! I never told my daughter Sharon Lindsay that she had heard me wrong and was really Sharon Whimsy, or my Carolyn Beth that she was really Carolyn Bath, or my Sara Yvonne that she was Sara Beyond, but after hearing Christy and Savannah’s story I almost wished I had!

One might think that this was not a particularly kind trick to play on a child, but you would have to meet Christy to understand. No one loves her daughter more than she does. It’s just a quirky way of hers that I love and that she and Savannah giggle over years later. There are other stories of theirs that I always crave hearing because they make me laugh so hard…maybe I’ll share about them someday.

Here is a photo taken of Christy and me last August…

Now that I’m a grandmother, my thoughts sometimes meander ahead to what my later years might look like. I realize that today could be my last day on this earth and do not presume upon any time the Lord gives me. But if I should ever outlive my husband, I’ve always known that I would like to live alone in those later years. I don’t want to remarry, don’t want to share a house with anyone, and I know I would fill up my days with my children and their families, books, times with friends, possible travel, and blessed quiet and solitude.

One of the last times I talked with Christy on the phone, I told her all of the above. And then I also paid her the highest compliment I could ever give to someone. I told her that if there was one person on this earth that I could live with in my retired years (aside from Michael, of course), I think it’s her.

I don’t know if she thought that was much of a tribute, but it was.

She is the sister I’ve never had, a friend I completely trust and adore, a fellow believer who radiates beauty and grace, and a woman I can never spend too much time with. I thank God for blessing my life with Christy.

Copying My Daughter

May 5, 2011 | My Jottings

Yesterday Sharon listed some “true facts” on her blog and as usual, she made me laugh. I have so many posts for my own blog in the works, but can’t seem to finish them. I’ve had a couple of posts started about close loved ones for a long time now, but can’t finish them without sobbing (in a good way), so I keep putting them off so I don’t get snot on my fancy Mac keyboard.

I thought I would share some “true facts” as well, copying Sharon’s idea and keeping the keyboard clean and dry. By the way, aren’t facts supposed to be true? Could there be such a thing as “false facts?” If pieces of information were false, would they then be facts? Maybe someone can answer this question for me.

True Fact #1 – Yes, indeed, my daughters did know all the words to Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5″ when they were very young, and were called upon on occasion to stand up and sing it. For about three years during the early 1980s I had a couple of Dolly’s albums and when I saw that the girls could sing along with many of the songs I encouraged it. Chalk this up to one of the 647 things I did as I mom and still have no idea why. Do you think having my daughters sing Dolly Parton songs when they were still preschool aged was odd? Really? I did use some discretion, however, and drew the line at them learning “Jolene.”

True Fact #2 — Sharon hasn’t seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and I have never seen a Star Wars movie. Not even three minutes of one. I hope to never break this habit of not watching any Star Wars movies. If I fall off the I Refuse to Watch Star Wars Movies wagon, I will share about it here.

True Fact #3 – I am a slave to Cappuccino Coolers, my own concoction I make every morning from cold milk, instant coffee granules, Hershey’s chocolate syrup and hazelnut creamer. Sometimes I get a little daring and put my coffee cup in the freezer at night before I go to bed. Then when I wake up at 5:15 a.m. the next day, guess what my mind goes to? Thank you Lord, for another day? Sadly, no. The first thing I think of is how I’m going to quietly go downstairs and whip up my Cappuccino Cooler in that frosty coffee cup the minute my feet touch the kitchen floor. Things have gotten dire. I know I should stop drinking Cappuccino Coolers and have resolved to quit, but have not been able to forgo them with any long term success. I have thought about going to Betty Ford, but I am needed at home and can’t spare the time away right now. If you’re smiling at True Fact #3, stop it right now. I’m not kidding. :O

True Fact #4 – When I was very young I used to sit on upholstered gliders while wearing pleated skirts, red patent leather shoes and graciously buttoned sweaters draped over my little shoulders. My hair was a shoulder-length cascade of curls held back with a headband, and I liked to sit with both hands placed over to the right of my legs in order to strike a more genteel pose. For those of you having difficulty believing True Fact #4 is a true fact, I introduce into evidence the photograph below.

I was two months shy of seven years old.

True Fact #4B – In spite of the picture above, my hair was not red. It was a dirty dishwater blonde.

True Fact #5 — I no longer own any red patent leather shoes, pleated skirts or flowered gliders, and I don’t have cascading curls either. And if you should find me one day just benignly smiling and sitting with both hands placed to my right side, you should probably contact my nearest relative.

True Fact #6 — We have decided to put our house up for sale in June. If you know anyone who wants a large home with a large kitchen and a large master bedroom and a large yard near a large lake in a largely unpopulated state, please e-mail me.

True Fact #7 — God is on His throne, is slow to anger, full of mercy and grace, knows your name and mine and how many hairs we have on our heads (whether of the cascading or the moth-eaten variety) and loves us with an everlasting love. What would our lives look like if we really believed this?

True Fact #8 – I wear makeup now only a few times a year, so thought I would document one of those rare times this morning, for posterity’s sake. I hope posterity appreciates it.

Except perhaps you can’t tell in this photo anyway. But I’m smiling at you and greeting you today, and I hope your Thursday is thoughtful, thankful and therapeutic.

Blessings,

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