September 27, 2012 | My Jottings
I wonder why God does some of the things He does. I wonder about how He seems to take His time answering prayer sometimes, and how hard it can be to trust Him to bring the deepest things in our hearts to pass.
And I wonder about some of His wonders. Why did He make nudibranchs so colorful and unique, when hardly anyone was going to see them?
Why does He allow some of the things He does, when He could so easily fix them?
Why do my dogs bark so much? Why?
I’ve also wondered why God has preserved a friendship that began 48 years ago, when my friend Denel and I were seven years old, and met in Mrs. Lokken’s second grade class. I’ve wondered why, and I’ve come to this conclusion: it’s a wonder. And it’s wonderful.
Denel and I flew to Colorado for our First Annual Lupi-Soo Reunion two weeks ago, and it was all I’d hoped for. Beautiful scenery. Restful. Comfortable sharing and equally comfortable silences. Good food. Laughter. Reminiscing. Praying together for those we love the most. And we experienced a few wonders in our almost five days together too.
Here’s the A-frame cabin we stayed in, which was called The Secluded Chalet at Fawn Trail Junction. Doesn’t it look terrific? Doesn’t it sound like it would be secluded, with a name like The Secluded Chalet at Fawn Trail Junction? We thought so too. (You can click to enlarge the photos if you like.)
In the photo below, you can see the inside of our secluded chalet. We were sort of led to believe that there would be this big wood-burning stove and we could build crackling blazes and warm our feet while we read and talked. Evergreen, Colorado is 7500 feet above sea level, and our cabin was 9000 feet above sea level, so there were some chilly nights, and that roaring fire sounded so inviting. Except that the stove was a gas stove, and the gas flames didn’t roar or blaze; they sort of twinkled. And it took a while for the secluded chalet to warm up. Have you ever tried to warm your toes in front of a twinkling fire?
But the furniture and the light coming in through the windows and the trees and the breeze? Wonderful.
Below is a view from the living room, looking into the kitchen area. It was nice to have a washer and dryer. Washers and dryers are especially necessary if the owner of the cabin leaves you a note and tells you that when it’s time to check out, you must strip your beds, wash your sheets and towels, remake your bed and replace the towels “with the same housekeeping care you would your own home.”
The Secluded Chalet at Fawn Trail Junction was billed as a two bedroom cabin. Denel and I used to sleep in each other’s beds when we were little girls and spent the night at each other’s houses, but we’re old now. We like our own beds to toss and snore in, so two bedrooms was definitely the way to go.
Here’s a picture of Denel getting ready to tote her suitcase up the stairs. This shot doesn’t come close to showing how steep these stairs really were — they were literally like a ladder of steps.
I wonder….why the owner decided to decorate with unfinished plywood on all the walls? 🙂
Here is Denel’s bedroom, which has a nice deck that looks out over the forest at the back of the cabin.
And here is my bedroom, which faces the front. One thing the owner neglected to mention in his online advertising, is that this is not really a two bedroom cabin. It’s a cabin with one large room on the second floor, slightly separated by the ladder-like steps. If two couples had decided to rent this place for a romantic skiing vacation and hoped for some privacy, they would have been disappointed. I think the owner should provide earplugs for all his guests.
The beds were super-comfortable, however! I slept so well while I was there. Going down the steep steps in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom was an interesting experience.
Denel and I visited Evergreen Lake, which is so beautiful. There’s a great trail that circles it, and it looked like the locals used it a lot — we saw young moms with babies in strollers, joggers, and seniors ambling.
We had heard about this great place to eat in downtown Evergreen, called Creekside Cellars, so we had lunch there one day.
Isn’t Denel beautiful? She looks the same to me as she ever did. And she’s lovely inside and out.
The antipasto salad is one of the specialties at Creekside Cellars, so we ordered it. I have never had an antipasto salad before, not being one who usually craves assorted olives or Italian meats. But I was game to try it, and when it was placed in front of us we just had to take pictures — such a feast for the eyes!
There’s a red pepper paste, some herbed olive oil and pesto there in the middle for dipping the warm, crusty bread in. There were different kinds of cheeses, baby red potatoes, different salamis and stuffed peppers and grape leaves. We ate about half of this and took it back to The Secluded Chalet’s refrigerator in case we wanted to snack later.
While Denel and I were enjoying our lunch, some movement caught my eye through the windows of the restaurant. The photo below isn’t that great, but I wanted you to see my initial view. Remember you can click on any of these photos to enlarge them if you like.
It was a herd of elk, walking on a craggy hillside just above some of the downtown businesses! How many elk herds have you seen in the city center where you live?
Denel and I were so excited by the prospect of seeing wildlife in Colorado while we were there, so seeing the elk like this was a wonder to us. We kept praying as we walked and drove that God would show us more wild animals.
I found it fascinating to see how many houses were built high up on the rocky cliffs above downtown Evergreen. I wondered why people would live in houses supported by thin little stilts like this.
I loved the early mornings, when I would get up, turn on the gas stove so I could have a teensy twinkling fire, light a candle so things would smell nice, and sit in the dawning light and read my Bible, and consider what a wonder it was to be there at all.
We wondered what in the world we were going to do when we saw this little sign right next to the toilet:
This photo below is a view from The Secluded Chalet’s living room window, and we wondered why the owner called it The Secluded Chalet when this other cabin was a mere stone’s throw away.
There were signs throughout the cabin warning us not to put any of our garbage outside in the bins, because many trash-thieving bears had been in the area lately. Well, Denel and I wanted to see some bears, so while we didn’t put our garbage out, she did go outside and spread some berries here and there. We wondered if we could attract a bear or two. Alas, we never spied any bears.
One morning as we were driving from our cabin down into Evergreen, Denel said out loud when we’d gone about 1/10 mile down the road, “Lord, show us some more animals!” Within five seconds of that prayer, this is what we saw on the side of the road. Of course we had to pull over, roll down our windows and talk in high-pitched voices to these beautiful, graceful deer.
When Michael (The Mighty Deer Hunter) saw these pictures he said, “Oh, those are Mule Deer.” We have White-Tailed Deer in Minnesota.
Seeing these deer at such close range was a wonder and a joy to us.
We strolled, we shopped a little, we oohed and aahed over the beauty. Evergreen is aptly named, because it’s hard to find a square yard that isn’t full of some kind of pine or spruce tree.
One morning we walked to a local park.
This is where Evergreen Lake spills into a small, rocky river whose name escapes me at this moment.
As we wandered through this little park I saw two good-sized birds on top of the dam, or whatever it was. One was clearly a female (on the left) and the other a male, trying to get her attention. He kept spreading his wings and wishing she would cast a glance his way, and as long as we stood there and watched, she never did. Ho-hum, she seemed to squawk. I thought they looked like Cormorants, and we later found out they were.
This isn’t the best picture below, but I zoomed my camera lens to get a better shot of Mr. Ardent Cormorant trying to impress Ms. Aloof Cormorant.
She was having none of it.
Rocky Mountain wildflowers in our cabin:
We sat outside as the sun went down, on the back deck off of Denel’s bedroom. We talked over old times, and we shared about current times, and we wondered how God was going to answer some of our deepest heart’s desires. That’s the wonderful thing about having an old Christian friend — when you are short on faith, she can come along side and pray for you. When she is needing a faith boost of her own, there you are, ready to pray and believe for her.
We had such perfect, wondrous weather while we were there. It was very cool in the evenings, and in the 60s and 70s during the day. The air is so dry at that elevation you can feel it in your skin in just a few hours. We were lizard-like and kept wanting lotion for our hands. We were also informed that at over 6500 feet above sea level, one should drink twice the usual amount of water. Would you like to live in a place where you never sweat? Move to Evergreen.
I wondered if we would be affected by altitude sickness, and the first morning there we both had headaches. So we drank and drank and drank our H2O, and felt better in no time.
I love it when I learn or see something new. While in Evergreen, Denel and I saw majestic Ponderosa Pines everywhere we looked. Did you know that the bark of the Ponderosa Pine smells like vanilla? Truly! The shaggy bark is sort of cinnamon colored, and now and then we put our noses right up to the sides of the trees to inhale that wonderful smell.
I wonder why God made some pine trees smell like pine, and others smell like vanilla?
This elk was standing on the side of the road and when I saw him I ordered Denel, “Pull over!” so I could get a picture. He was huge, and we were praising God for the beauty of His creation.
Here’s our coffee table in The Secluded Chalet. Bibles, Kleenex, keys, journals, iPad, cell phones, and the workbook for a Beth Moore Bible study (I just finished doing James and Denel is just starting it.)
Enjoying my first ever Soy Latte. Denel likes Starbuck’s Soy Lattes and has one every day. I had never tried one, so I ordered a medium soy latte with a shot of hazelnut at a rustic and quaint establishment we liked in downtown Evergreen.
The photo below was taken in a park where we stopped to inspect true-to-life replicas of old western chuck wagons. We wrinkled our noses as we imagined what it would have been like to travel in them years ago, especially as women. We wondered how anyone could possibly have crossed the Rockies in a chuck wagon. Not wonderful.
One late afternoon as we were driving back to our cabin, I caught a flash of black out of the corner of my eye.
Wonder of wonders, it was a black fox! We had never seen a black fox before…have you? (Click to enlarge if you like…)
He was smacking his foxy lips and licking his foxy chops as if he’d just enjoyed a juicy fox meal.
I included this picture below so you can see his white-tipped tail. “Thank you Lord!” we crowed….we kept marveling over the wonderful wild life we were seeing.
For our last dinner together on Sunday night, we decided to drive to Idaho Springs, about fifteen miles away. We ate at a highly recommended Italian restaurant called Mangia, and it took a while for me to learn to pronounce it correctly. I kept saying MON-jee-a, with three syllables, and finally with Denel’s help (she’s Italian) I got it: MON-ja! Only two syllables, Julie. Javol.
We wondered if there was any loaf of warm bread anywhere that smelled as fragrant and wonderful as this one, paired with olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs for dipping.
And here is my oldest friend.
Part of my dinner was a salad of mixed baby field greens with roasted pistachios, sun-dried cranberries, and feta cheese tossed in a light raspberry vinaigrette.
Yum. Absolutely yum.
After our fabulous dinner we walked across the street to have an ice cream cone for dessert. Denel had Green Tea ice cream and I had (what else?) Peanut Butter and Chocolate. We smiled as we recalled having Baskin-Robbins ice cream cones almost every Sunday when we went to Sunday School as young girls in Covina, CA. The ice cream shop was across the street from the First Baptist Church.
Still with our wild life radar always on alert, on our last evening together we saw one last wonder. The streets of Idaho Springs had lush, colorful baskets of flowers hanging from almost every lamp post, and as we came out of the shop, I was holding my ice cream cone with one hand and aiming the camera with the other.
Do you see it below? A huge Hummingbird Moth, with its spirally curved proboscis reaching into one of the blooms! We stood and watched it in amazement for a few minutes before walking to our rental car to drive back to our cabin.
Next year, for the Second Annual Lupi-Soo Reunion, we will meet at the place of Denel’s choice. I have a feeling the ocean will be involved, and I can’t wait to see what she decides.
Anywhere would be okay with me, as long as we could have a couple of days together. Pacific Northwest? Outer Banks of North Carolina? SoCal? We don’t know yet.
What a wonderful gift from the Lord it was to have two relatively smooth flights. I am not always a happy flyer. After Denel and I turned in our rental car in Denver, we hugged long and hard and said how much we loved each other. I walked toward the Delta Airlines counter and she headed toward Southwest. After my packed flight landed in Minneapolis, I took the shuttle from the airport to the large carpark where I’d left our Highlander days before, and happily headed home.
The farther north I drove, the more excited I was to be with my family again. Look at our gorgeous Minnesota sky:
And as I’ve said more than a few times on this blog, I never tire of the wonder of autumn, and all the breathtakingly beautiful leaf colors.
I am so thankful for the Lord’s provision in my life. He has blessed me with Himself, and He has blessed me with the most amazing people to do life with.
In the picture below, Denel and I were two teenagers reaching out toward the camera. I’m not sure why we did that. I don’t think either one of us had any idea what would be ahead. Life has not been easy for either one of us, even though we’ve both been so blessed. I look at this photo and like to think that we were reaching out to the wondrous future God would carry us to.
We are both still reaching out to Jesus. And to each other.
And I think that is….
Wednesday’s Word-Edition 88
September 26, 2012 | My Jottings
“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.”
This is my prayer today, for all of us who have been blessed with children….
September 24, 2012 | My Jottings
You know you’re doing too much when you forget that on the same day, someone is coming over to your house at 9:00 a.m. and you have an important meeting at 11:30 a.m. That’s what I did today — forgot both of those things. Thankfully these oversights aren’t going to wreck my life, but it sort of shocked me that I would forget two things in one day. I guess I need to be checking my calendar six times daily or something.
Tonight when I get up at 3:15 a.m. to go to the bathroom as I always seem to do, I just might creep down the hall to my office and check my calendar then too. Better that than forget two things tomorrow!
I have had two posts with lots of pictures in the works — one about my grandchildren and their first days of school, and the other about my recent trip to Colorado to spend time in a mountain cabin with my oldest friend Denel. But I’m still not done with those posts.
So instead I will put up some photos I took yesterday when Michael and I went on a beautiful Sunday drive.
The photo below was taken at our local Polish cemetery:
We love to drive through cemeteries…do you?
I never get tired of the fall colors we see year after year! I still oooh and aaah over them like each tree ablaze is the first one I’ve ever seen.
This picture below was taken on the way home. We drive down this street and turn left, right about where you see the car at the bottom of the hill.
We love living so close to Lake Superior.
How does the arrival of autumn change your everyday life, if it does?
A couple of ways it changes my life are: 1) there is chili simmering on the stove this very minute, 2) I wore a longer sleeved tunic today, and 3) the furnace went on this morning before we got up. It was 36 degrees on our deck.
Thank you for stopping by…I’m praying that you and I experience and respond to God’s love for each one of us this week,
9000 Feet Above Sea Level
September 18, 2012 | My Jottings
I just returned from Colorado where I met up with my dear friend of 48 years, Denel. She flew in from SoCal and I flew in from NoMin.
We had a wonderful time in our little cabin (at 9000 feet elevation) and made some fantastic memories. I took over 200 photos and will share some of them in the next few days as I have the time to start on the lengthy post that will tell of our adventures in the Rockies.
We had some laughs, some surprises, some goofiness, some rest, some food, some sharing, some reminiscing and some prayers.
We are already looking forward to The Second Annual Lupi-Soo Reunion. We’re thinking about the Pacific Northwest or the beaches of North Carolina, but only time will tell.
Have a blessed week!
September 15, 2012 | My Jottings
September 12, 2012 | My Jottings
Sometimes I read something in the Scriptures that seems to shimmer on the page, and I’m drawn to read it again and again, and then set my Bible down on my lap and look out over Lake Superior, and ponder. Sometimes what I read seems to beckon me deeper into the verses, to meditate on them, to pray over them, to say them slowly aloud or silently again and again in my mind, because I know there’s treasure there to be mined.
These are the verses I’ve been meditating on lately, from the seventeenth chapter of Acts:
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
And here’s the same passage from The Message:
The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!
I love this passage.
And sometimes a word or two from the portion I’m reading seems to lift (not literally) off the page and lodge itself in my heart and mind so that I want to think on them for a long time, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal something to me in them that may not be noticed at first read. Or even second, third or tenth read.
The words in this passage from Acts that I can’t get out of my mind are…
Maybe soon I’ll write about some of the richness being unearthed from these words.
What is your favorite verse or passage from the Bible?
Do you ever meditate on one portion of Scripture for long periods of time? If so, what have you found or experienced from doing this? I would love to read your answers.
God bless you all today….
September 7, 2012 | My Jottings
My middle daughter Carolyn and and her husband Jeremy have four children, and Audrey Elizabeth is their youngest. She is 4 1/2 and I always say she’s a little sparkler, because life and cheer and energy and joy beam out of her almost at all times. She is a force to be reckoned with. She also shows her love very demonstratively with excited squeals, long, strong hugs and huge smiles.
A couple of days ago Carolyn texted me about Audrey, and here’s the conversation:
I hope you’re chuckling, because I certainly was, and am. Audrey is a happy little girl who makes me happy. Just being with her cheers me up.
Now I ask you.
Do your grandchildren like your bottom?
A Sad Day In Schnauzerville
September 6, 2012 | My Jottings
Oh, the shame.
I stared at the envelope we found in our mailbox today and felt a mixture of shock and chagrin. And even though it wasn’t signed, I knew immediately who the note was from.
After the shock and chagrin faded, I felt guilty, and then upset with myself for messing up with our neighbors so soon. We’ve only lived in this house three months, and already we’re getting hate mail. Sort of.
But it’s well-deserved, yes, yes it is. You see, in our other home, we had a huge back yard that sloped down away from our house toward a little woods, with a creek bordering the back of our property. Edith and Mildred, our two Miniature German Schnauzers, would bound outside and run around the back yard, and would usually only bark if they saw wildlife. When they barked I brought them in, but we weren’t so geographically close to neighbors there and I don’t think Edith and Millie were considered neighborhood nuisances. Their barking was infrequent, even though they’re vigilant little hounds who believe their primary reason for living is to alert us when any rogue leaf moves in the breeze.
At the other house, we also had a very large front yard, so even if Edith and Millie were looking out the front window, they weren’t close enough to see all the people walking by, and they certainly didn’t yap at each passing car.
But now they do. And it’s terrible. We love our new house, but our yard is very small, which we welcome at this stage of our lives because it’s a lot less upkeep. But now we have to let our Schnauzers outside via the front door, which takes them into the smallish front yard, where people walking by with their dogs, and neighbors working in their yards are immediately visible. And whenever Edith and Millie see people, they bark. It’s not a warning, threatening bark, because they’re friendly people-dogs and just want to be loved and have fun.
If you’re wondering what our Schnauzers sound like when they bark, this is pretty close. I know it can be irritating — we’re irritated. Whenever they start to bark, one of us goes outside right away to shush them and to bring them inside. But by the time that happens, they’ve gotten a few good shrieky barks in.
Here’s how the American Kennel Club describes the Schnauzer breed: The Official Standard of the Miniature Schnauzer for the American Kennel Club describes temperament as “alert and spirited, yet obedient to command…friendly, intelligent and willing to please…should never be overaggressive or timid.” Usually easy to train, they tend to be excellent watchdogs with a good territorial instinct, but more inclined toward barking than biting. They are often aloof with strangers until the owners of the home welcome the guest, upon which they are typically very friendly to them. However, they will often express themselves vocally, and may bark to greet their owner, or to express joy, excitement, or displeasure.
Well, our dogs have been, uh, expressing themselves vocally, and because of that, here’s what was in our mailbox today:
I’ll say it again: oh, the shame.
I showed Michael the note and we just looked at each other. Sigh.
I then sat down at the computer, read the reviews on amazon.com and ordered two bark collars, which will be here by Saturday morning. I bought the most humane ones with good reviews. Most of the training will be done by a recognizable beep the dogs hear. Hopefully only one little jolt will be necessary at the beginning. In case you’re wondering why I ordered bark collars, it’s because I think we’ve tried everything else. We’ve tried spraying them with a small jet of water from a spray bottle when they bark. We’ve tried tossing small circlets of (harmless) chains at them when they bark. We’ve hollered at them. We’ve reasoned with them. We’ve rewarded them when they’re quiet. We’ve lowered our voices and said ominously and authoritatively, “Nooooo.” I’m sorry to say we’ve even tried swatting them a time or two. We’ve taken them to dog training classes, where they did remarkably well because they’re so smart and learn quickly. But what they learned in the arena never translated to the yard. We’ve read the books, watched the shows, and have utterly failed.
I know this is an owner problem, I really do know that. I know that if The Dog Whisperer came to our house, he would tsk-tsk at me and would have Edith and Millie trained to be sweet and silent Schauzers in no time at all. But I have not been able to keep them quiet outside with lasting success, and now I’ve alienated my neighbors because of it.
After I ordered the collars, I asked Michael to pray for me, and I walked across the street to apologize to Burt and Arlene. They’re a retired couple I introduced myself to the first day we moved in. Burt was nice enough that first meeting, but when he waved for his wife Arlene to come greet me, she was kneeling in the garden and declined, waving me off in an impatient gesture that was a little surprising. This afternoon as I approached their house (which you can see in the photo above), through an open front window I heard an interior door close, so I knew someone was home. I knocked and they didn’t answer. I rang the bell and they didn’t answer. So I walked back home. I found their phone number on the internet easily enough, and called them. They didn’t answer but their machine wished me a very good day. I left a message telling them it was their neighbor Julie from across the street, and I sincerely apologized that they had been bothered by our dogs, and I let them know that I had purchased bark collars that would be here soon. I told them we were truly so sorry, that we want to be good neighbors, and that I hoped our dogs would be under control soon. And I thanked them for telling us.
It’s a Sad Day in Schnauzerville when inept Mommy and Daddy have to resort to a “specialty” collar to keep our little dooginses from doing what is totally instinctual: expressing themselves vocally.
I’ll let you know if The Schnauzer Silence descends.
September 5, 2012 | My Jottings
I could have titled this post Wallpaper Woes or Wallpaper Wows, and I’m so glad it’s the latter. Yesterday my office was wallpapered in a deep red and cream toile. I love it. I say “aahhhh” in here when I come in and sit down now. As a matter of fact, I’m in here right now, typing on my computer to prepare a little blog post so you can see some pictures, and I’m sitting down, and I’m saying, “aaahhhh.” 🙂
You can click here to see what the polka-dotted room looked like when we moved into this house on May 31st, and also an inspiration photo of what a small office wallpapered with red and cream toile can look like.
We had to put two coats of primer on those dark, polka-dotted walls in preparation for the wallpaper. Apparently the dots would have shown through the light background of the wallpaper and that would not have been the look I was going for.
Here’s a photo taken yesterday morning of my little office. It’s about nine feet by eight feet. The sliding glass door looks out onto the “back yard,” which is a very generous term for the strip of land behind our house. We pulled all the office furniture away from the walls to make the hanging process a little simpler. (You can click to enlarge these if you like.)
And here’s a photo taken a few hours later:
This view below was taken near the sliding glass window, looking toward the French doors that lead to the hallway:
And below, looking toward the back yard again. You can see one of two small closets I have in this room, which are filled with wonderfully built shelves and cubby holes for all my office supplies and foster care notebooks.
Soon I will hang curtains over the sliding glass doors, for some privacy, and hopefully for a little bit of style. I’ve chosen a velvet fabric and it’s a very unexpected color that I love. All three daughters helped me decide on it and they love it too. Maybe I toss around the word love a little too much. All three daughters helped me decide on it and they admire it too. Is that better?
Believe it or not, when the desk is against the wall as it should be, this cozy room easily fits a queen-sized inflatable mattress we just purchased, along with a nightstand. And one of the two closets is almost empty. So it can double as a guest room. And if people feel strange about coming to visit us and sleeping in our office, they can sleep in our closet. It’s bigger than the office.
What? You don’t want to come for a visit and sleep in our closet? Picky, picky.
I’ve put the desk back against the wall, and today I have some clean-up to do. I need to hang my calendar, put things away in their places, and get back to work. I have a couple of hours’ worth of paperwork to tend to today, but I get to toil under the toile! Yay!
Thank you for stopping by today. I have a serious blog post in the works that is requiring a lot of thinking and even some tears….I’ll try to publish that soon.
May God bless your day, dear friends and family….