Druthers 8

October 30, 2014 | My Jottings

Since waking up to twenty-eight degrees this morning reminds me that winter is coming soon to northeastern Minnesota, we might as well dream for a while about spending winter in another beautiful place.

If I had my druthers, perhaps we would spend winter in a little
Norwegian village like this…..

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…and when the hustle and bustle of this maddeningly busy place started feeling like an emotional drain, then we could go stay for a while in our little cabin up the fjord…

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…and of course Michael would be well again and he and I would enjoy
the hearty Norwegian fare…

…he would eat this pickled herring…

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…and I would politely decline the fish, concentrate on not rudely wrinkling my nose, and would happily dine on this…

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…and then Michael and I would notice that it was getting dark at 3:00 p.m. because we were so far north, and we would yawn and stretch and go to bed early, in these….

Norwegian Cupboard beds

…and then after settling down in Norway, Michael would do what he loves to do, and start putting out piles of corn for these…

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…and I would be so well-rested and content I would knit all the time in our little fjord cabin, would become an expert knitter within a month, and then
I would make myself one of these and wear it every day…

blue sweater

…and when the days lengthened and the snow melted, Michael and I would hike down to the valley and do this….

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…but no matter how much Michael tried to convince me, I would never, ever do this….

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…and then we would want to share the beauty and tranquility with our family, so we would send them all plane tickets to come and stay for a month in breathtaking Norway, and our only demand would be that they would have to dress like this…

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…and even though they might resist wearing these clothes at first, the pickled herring and steep valley fjords and the soft sounds of trolls’ footsteps in the night and the pure water and the sheer grandeur of such a beautiful place would help them adjust, and in no time at all they would be doing this….

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…but that’s only if I had my druthers…

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 116

October 29, 2014 | My Jottings

Below is a photo taken by the Hubble Telescope, of approximately 10,000 galaxies. (Not planets, but entire, vast galaxies.) Scientists estimate that there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. (Photo credit NASA.)

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“All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator
for all I have not seen.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

*         *         *         *          *         *

Romans 1:21

October 27, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve been taking my gratitude journal very seriously these past months. I may not write in it every single day, but it’s always out, always at hand so I can sit down to record in black and white the gifts God bestows on me. I number the things I’m saying thank you to God for too. I’m in the four thousands now, and I know that this spiritual practice is something I will do until I die, or until for some reason, I’m no longer able.

A dear friend asked me recently if I ever gave thanks for something twice and I said yes! I’m sure there are duplicates in amongst the four thousand gifts, because a chickadee at my window feeder doesn’t thrill me once, it thrills me again and again. And if my husband has a calm day in September and I thank God for that, I’m certainly going to thank Him again in October for another good day.

Being thankful for one thing
can lead to gratitude about other things.

A simple example is the way color affects me. I might be sitting in my bedroom chair with my feet up on the ottoman, wrapped in the prayer shawl Sharon dyed and knitted for me, and I might have my gratitude journal open on my lap. I might be sitting there quietly, pondering the ways God has blessed me in that moment, and my eyes might fall on one of my favorite pillows, a decorative, deep cardinal red pillow I sometimes put on my bed when I actually make it. That deep red arrests my eyes and I stare, so happy to see such a color. I might write down in my journal, 3941) thank you for the deep, gorgeous red on that pillow.

And then another thank you comes from that: 3942) You have given me sight today, Lord. Thank you.

And then the very basic senses might come to mind and from the gift of sight I think of the gift of the sense of smell, which I lost years ago and was told by an ENT physician would most certainly never come back, and I might write 3943) thank you that I can smell Lord! Thank you for restoring that to me!

And then the next one comes easily and I might write 3944) the smell of Miriam’s head, Lord! Oh you’ve outdone yourself there! Thank you. Deep, tearful thank you.

And after I ponder the smell of Miriam’s head for a while and think about what a lavish gift she is, I might think about how much her siblings love her already, how she has smiled little smiles for her family, how God has a plan for her precious life already, and so on.

Can you see what I mean by thanks begetting thanks? I sit and I write them down, one after the other, and I believe that each one is from God’s hand, given to me that day, because He loves me and is watching over me. (see James 1:17).

These Chinese lanterns are part of a fall arrangement Sara did in a dark blue Le Creuset pitcher that sits on our dining room table. I look at them every day and give thanks for their bright, unique beauty, and that God lets me see them.

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Now, I believe the opposite is true as well. Ingratitude breeds more ingratitude. I have lived this also. And it’s not like I’ve got this thanksgiving thing all nailed down. Life still stuns me with its one-after-the-other hardships and tragedies. There are many times when yet another truly desperate thing seems to be added to my plate and my first inward response is a doubting, cynical, “Really? Seriously? This too? A very ill and increasingly demented husband isn’t enough? X, Y and Z isn’t enough sorrow?” I am sorry to say I have such snarky attitudes but I do. Maybe it’s for that very thing that I am so committed to the spiritual discipline of recording things for which to be grateful. Because I’m often truly blind to God and His ways, and need new lenses put on the eyes of my heart every single day.

And here is a sobering truth and an effective motivation for directing your heart and mind to be grateful every day:

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  

The twenty-first verse in the first chapter of Romans tells me what can happen to a person who knows the Lord, but refuses to give Him thanks:

They would become futile in their thinking, and their foolish heart would be darkened.

Shall I add futile thinking and a darkened heart to my life right now? No. I will not do that.

More than the strong warning in Romans 1:21, though, is a desire I have to bring some happiness or joy to the Lord. I have certainly caused Him some disappointment with the way I’ve lived the life He’s given me. I want to bring a smile to His beautiful face. What in the world can we give the One who made and owns everything? We can’t give him a bouquet of flowers or a new puppy or a treasure of gold and jewels, because those are already His.

But we can give Him something that would bring Him pleasure that not many people are willing to do, and that is our hearts of gratitude, pouring out thanks to Him for all He does for us and gives to us each day.

Is it sometimes a difficult thing to record little blessings when huge catastrophes are all around us? Without a doubt. But we can still do it. And it makes a huge difference in our lives. And I believe it matters to God and blesses Him.

I’m also thankful for a little spot on the web to share my thoughts, struggles, dreams and joys, thankful that a few readers take time in their day to stop in and read, thankful for so many of you who have extended the beautiful hand of friendship to me and have prayed for my family.

May God bless your day with a hundred things to record in your gratitude journal,

More of Miriam

October 23, 2014 | My Jottings

My oldest daughter Sharon is a professional photographer and that can be quite handy when there’s a new baby in the family. She photographed Jeremy and Carolyn’s new little one yesterday and I had to share some of the pictures with you.

Little Miri is a whole eight days old now.

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We are all pretty excited about Miriam Loretta!

In Everything Give Thanks

October 21, 2014 | My Jottings

It’s a grey fall morning, the trees have given up over half their leaves, and the blustery winds are trying to help the birches and maples in our neighborhood let go of the rest. It’s a yearning time of year for me, is it for you? I love the fall and it invigorates and thrills me, but it also does something deep inside me that I can’t explain. The best I can come up with is that it feels like a deep, profound, yearning, beautiful ache.

It’s also a Gabriel’s Oboe kind of morning. Are you familiar with that song? You must listen if you haven’t, and even if you do know it, just give a little click right here, and this deep, profound, yearning, beautiful, aching song will play in the background in a different window, while you read on.

I was up when it was still “peach black” outside, as Vivienne used to say, and preheated the oven so I could bake some cinnamon orange rolls for our in-group coffee in Community Bible Study today. When I open my bedroom door and head down the hall toward the kitchen, Edith and Millie literally tap-dance all over the hardwood floors while they wait for me to feed them each morning before they go out. I wish I had a video to show you. Then they each get their electric fence collars snapped on, so they don’t leave our small yard when they go out to sniff where the deer have been during the night. And they each have to have their anti-bark collars buckled on, so they don’t do any Schnauzer shrieking and bother the neighbors. And it bothers me too, so now the Collar Ritual is automatic each time they need to go out. Such high-maintenance pooches, they are.

After having a great discussion about 1 Corinthians 5 in our CBS core group, I headed home to many things on my plate today. First, a cup of tea and a quick blog post before I head to appointments and tend to tasks with deadlines. I can hear the washing machine tumbling its big load of whites I just threw in (and turned the dial to “sanitize”) and I’m so thankful for washers and dryers. If I had to kneel over a tub and scrub our dirty clothes on a washboard like the men and women of old? Oh my, what a filthy bunch we’d be around here.

Michael has been on his new medication (Exelon) for a few weeks now, and if you prayed that it would help him, I thank you. It has helped him. The nursing staff folks tell me it hasn’t erased his evening confusion, pacing and wandering completely, but that it seems to have helped lower the agitation he was experiencing (I call it torment because that’s really what it was) each night. I have been going up to spend Wednesdays and Sundays with him and I can’t get there fast enough in the mornings. I miss him so much. Our home feels empty without him. I can also tell that his cognition seems a little better during the day, but there are some visits and phone calls where he’s just in a different world. Last week he told me he had been framing in a deck at the veterans home, which of course wasn’t true. He also told me about a pleasant visit he had with some old friends who came to see him, except I learned that they really hadn’t been there.

The best part of these last few weeks of Exelon has been Michael’s smiles. He has a smile like no other person I’ve ever known. Just to see him grin makes me giggle and experience a little blast of joy. Here’s a picture I took of him last week in his Schnauzer “Fear the Beard” tee-shirt.

IMG_1537He’s looking forward to meeting the newest member of our family, little Miriam, who will be one week old tomorrow. Carolyn brought her over for a visit yesterday and everything about baby Miri delighted me. Her little, quick and shallow infant breaths were amazing! Her tiny grimace that turned into a half-smile while she dreamed? Stunning! The way she smelled and the softness of her skin? Mind-blowing! I think the older I get the more I’m undone by things like babies and trees and water and sleep and words on a page and the smile of my husband. Such riches I can hardly contain.

I’m reading a book right now that I want to savor slowly so it doesn’t end. I can already tell that when I turn the last page and close the back cover I’ll be bereft, and nothing in the pile on my nightstand will look even remotely interesting. I’ve shared before on this blog what my five favorite books or series are, and Jan Karon’s Mitford books are on that list. Well, she has finally released a new Mitford book called Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good and it’s making me laugh and sob over and over again. Jan Karon is a genius. She somehow tucks the most life-changing truths and mysteries into such simple-seeming words (some say fluff), and they almost knock me over with their grace and power. I’m about two thirds done with this long book and it’s such a consolation. Have you read the Mitford series? If you haven’t, go get them! Read them in order, and be patient. Keep going. They will take you by surprise and perhaps accomplish something unforgettable in your life. Not that you need unforgettable things to be accomplished in your life…but I know I do.

Well, I will have to share about how I’ve been spending some of my sleepless hours in another post. It’s actually kind of exciting to me. I don’t like waking up at 1:54 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep until 4:00, but I’m trying to make the most of it and I’d like to share about that sometime.

We have had our share of difficult things these past couple of weeks, aside from the things I always seem to write about. There’s one thing that nevertheless keeps flowing through my mind, and it’s this:

“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 — ESV

Today I’m giving thanks for my perfect new granddaughter, for my beloved daughters, for our quirky little dogs, for a treasure trove of a book to read and the sight that makes reading possible, for hot water and clean clothes, for the desire to praise Him in the dark of night, for music that goes to deep places nothing else can reach, for falling leaves that assure us there’s beauty in death, for friends who love and pray and love and pray, and for my husband’s smile.

Are you giving thanks today? It would be a blessing to know what things are on your gratitude list…

It’s a Beautiful Life

October 15, 2014 | My Jottings

Our family is so happy to announce

the safe and long-anticipated arrival of…

Miriam Loretta

born October 15, 2014 at 4:59 a.m.

She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and is 21.5 inches long.

Daddy Jeremy, Mama Carolyn, Clara, Elijah, Vivienne and Audrey love her so much already, and are all doing well.

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I never get used to the wonder of a beautiful new life…I’m giving thanks to the Lord today!

Scenes from a Sister-in-Law’s Sojourn

October 14, 2014 | My Jottings

If you’re new to my blog you might not know that I like alliteration. If you’ve been here before you’ve probably seen that I often use it, sometimes to the point of forcing the words a bit. Perhaps “Scenes from a Sister-in-Law’s Sojourn” could be better said as “Christy’s Visit” or “One Fun Week” or something like that, but “Scenes from a Sister-in-Law’s Sojourn” makes me smile, so I’m going with that.

My sister-in-law Christy flew in from Tennessee last month to spend a week in Northeastern Minnesota with me. We hadn’t seen each other in almost two and a half years. She’s the type of friend who is fine doing just about anything you have planned, even if it’s not much of anything. A super-fantastic evening for Christy is sitting around in some comfy jammies, knitting or reading, maybe watching a good movie on TV, having a little snack, chatting about life and loved ones now and then, being completely comfortable with long silences, and going to bed early. That sounds like a pretty great evening to me too.

We did actually leave the house a few times, though. Here are a few photos and phrases that come to mind from my sister-in-law’s sojourn…

Shopping at Yarn Harbor so she could help me choose the yarn and pattern to knit a hat for Michael… riding Segways all along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior and the attractive helmets required…

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…eating just a few homemade salted caramels from a little shop up the North Shore

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…meeting Carey at the Duluth Grill… sharing our hearts over slabs of Carey’s scrumptious, coma-inducing Peanut Butter Chocolate Birthday Cake…

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…sleeping on an air mattress (Christy, not me)… Millie’s meanness… Christy fixing my knitting… a lemon Bundt cake… the best Vietnamese food… seeing my beloved Michael… a nap under the moose… reading in silence… seeing our autumn trees begin to change… making Christy tell the Savannah Gate story for the umpteenth time… talking about our dreams for our daughters… getting moan-worthy Marcona almonds at Mt. Royal… enjoying the aviary birds… Pippa tales… watching the moods of Lake Superior… amazing food at The Scenic Cafe… (pictured below is Christy’s wild mushroom crepe filled with asparagus, sitting on falafel and garnished with sprouted corn…)

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…and a barbecued pork roast sandwich with cole slaw and cilantro. See the fig by the strawberries below? I knew Sara would love a fresh fig so I put it in my purse to bring it home to her. Guess what sat at the bottom of my purse for too many days?

That’s a first for me — I’ve never heard or read of anyone in the world finding a rotting fig in their purse. Could that be a book title? Finding the Rotting Fig….

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…an evening with lots of pizza and many grandkids… being willing to resemble Dick Butkus and Bozo the Clown in order to have a good time… watching One True Thing… having lunch with Michael… a week passing too quickly.

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Do you have someone you can knit, read, Segway, pray, laugh, snore, sit and dream with? Or someone you can chat, walk, crochet and kayak with? Or maybe someone you can cry, giggle, eat and believe God with?

Fall Flower Boxes

October 6, 2014 | My Jottings

When we moved into this house two and a half years ago, Sara took on the job of keeping the three large flower boxes affixed to our front deck filled with seasonal beauty. It’s a challenge in the summer months, since there’s no shade over the deck and the sun rises toward one end and sets at the other, giving us full solar exposure all day long. It’s wonderful for winter, but hard on most flowers. This last summer Sara planted various sun-resistant plants and flowers, and made each box monochromatic — one was filled with yellow flowers, the middle box was all purple, and the one to the west had red. It was stunning, and I asked her to do it again next year.

She has also put cut evergreens in our boxes each December. We bought some inexpensive but large outdoor ornaments at Menard’s and she wired those in with all the gorgeous greenery, and when a soft blanket of snow fell on them? Oh my, I loved that. Here are some pictures of Sara putting together the winter boxes before the snow, and click here if you’d like to see how they looked after snow had blanketed them.

Well, last week Sara decided to surprise me and transform our flower boxes into something autumnal. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is to sit at our dining room table and look out onto this beauty. It takes my breath away. Fall is my favorite season anyway and I never tire of the colors even though I’ve lived in northern Minnesota for over 33 years, but these boxes have been a feast for the eyes and a balm for the soul.

These photos can be enlarged by clicking if you like. You might be able to see the purple kale, dried hydrangea, red sumac leaves and blossoms, and dogwood branches:

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Box after box, mounded with fall’s beauty:

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The rain we’ve had the past few days has made the leaves a little soggy, but they’re still vibrant. Sort of like people? Are you a little soggy but still vibrant? I don’t know if I am…soggy sounds about right, but vibrant… uhhhhh, not so much.

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Here’s a view from the front…I like the wild and twisty twigs and branches that poke up here and there:

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And this is a view from our front door:

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Sara has a Facebook page for her floral design business if you’d like to check it out, here. And if you click here to see her gorgeous web page, as the slide show plays you’ll see the floral hats and shoes she designed as well!  :)

We also have some fall decor inside our house, and maybe I’ll share some pictures soon.

Do you decorate for fall? If so, what kinds of things do you do?

Our Moose’s Moniker? Mendelssohn!

October 4, 2014 | My Jottings

How fun it was for me to read all your really fantastic name suggestions for the little white moose head we’ve hung on our living room wall. Thank you so much for responding and being the cause of many smiles! If you didn’t see the photos of our living room moose, you can click here.

I honestly liked every single name, and could tell you all understood what I was after — something a little out of the ordinary and a bit quirky. My five favorites, however, are:

Milton
Magnus
Mountgomery (such a cute pun Ronda!)
Moses
Mendelssohn

And Mendelssohn it is! Thank you Jodi! I am going to insist that everyone in our family call him by his real name too. I have a feeling they’re going to just love that.

Doesn’t this guy look like he could be a Mendelssohn too?

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So, very soon I will be sending Jodi a $20.00 online gift certificate for Amazon.com.

I have been fighting the flu for the past couple of days, so will write some more soon.

Have a peaceful weekend, dear Moose Namers,

A Mounted Moose

September 30, 2014 | My Jottings

Moose are very Alaska, very Maine, very Canada, and very Minnesota. I’ve seen one live moose in my lifetime, and it was on an autumn walk Michael and I were taking in the north woods of the Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota. We rounded a bend in the path and the moose, which was about 30 yards distant, lifted his head to peer at us out of his poorly sighted eyes, then turned and trotted off on his stilt-like legs. Have you ever seen a moose trot? You can click here to see.

Sara gave me a decorative plate and a canvas with a red bird painted on it for my birthday recently, and I’ve been thinking about where and how to hang them. I subscribe to the decorating rule/idea that odd numbers are visually better for groupings, so the plate and the canvas seemed like they needed a third item to go with them. I like moose. So I decided to buy a whimsical yet very anatomically accurate moose head to go with them. What do an aqua plate, a red bird and a white faux moose have in common? Nothing that I know of except that a quirky woman needing distraction likes all three of them and isn’t worried about what the Pottery Barn folks would say.

Here’s a picture taken from a distance, so you can see that the grouping hangs on a narrow-ish patch of wall in between our living room window and a tree we have in the corner.

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And here’s a closer shot:

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If you’d like to check out the other animal heads this business offers, click here.

I can envision his antlers being a good place to hang a few Christmas ornaments this December, too.

Now I’d like for him to have a name. You might already know I like alliteration, so I’m leaning toward an M name. This is obviously a manly mounted moose, so a man’s M name would be good.

Any ideas? If I choose your suggestion, I’ll send you a gift. You can list as many names as you like.

Have a blessed week!

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