What does July mean to you?

June 30, 2012 | My Jottings

Over the past few years I’ve published a few posts asking you all how you feel about certain months, what those months elicit in your memories, feelings and expectations. I think I’ve asked you to tell me what September means to you, along with October, November, December and January. I’ve never asked about July.

July is one of those months that just seems very ho-hummish to me. One of my daughters even teases me a bit about it. Sharon usually asks at the end of each June, “So what are you going to do for the 4th, seeing as it’s your favorite holiday?” NOT! And she knows it’s not, so she mocks me. Can you believe a grown daughter who owes her very life to me, making fun of me about my least favorite holiday? The nerve.  🙂

I have no idea why the month of July doesn’t make my heart go pitter patter. I don’t have any bad memories from this particular month. Growing up in Southern California we always had fireworks and as I child I supposed I liked them well enough. I liked to write cursive words in the dark night sky with a sparkler, I remember hearing Piccolo Petes scream way past midnight back then, and we went to Disneyland a time or two to see their 4th of July fireworks show.

When my girls were little, I thought I was making a gigantic sacrifice to stay up late enough (10:00 p.m.) on the 4th of July to see our city’s fairly nice fireworks display. A few times over the years, we bundled and trundled and rumbled and mumbled and stumbled. We bundled the girls into their jammies and brought blankets in case the night air turned cool. We trundled them out to the car, which was always a station wagon. We rumbled off to a high place in the city for optimal viewing, then parked, and turned on the radio to the local station that played John Phillips Sousa music just for this occasion. I mumbled about how tired I was and wanted to go home. And then after the grand booming finale, we drove home and stumbled into our beds so we could get up the next day and talk about how beautiful the fireworks were.

One of those last sentences is false. I hope you can guess which one.

July seems to be a picnic month too. And I like the idea of picnics, but I’m not sure I appreciate actually planning and carrying out a picnic. The thought of languishing on a soft blanket under a huge, spreading tree on the banks of a beautiful river while a cool breeze ruffles the leaves, with the air full of birdsong, paired with really good food in a basket that I don’t have to tote or prepare? Throw in a good book and a season where all the spiders in that vicinity have mysteriously died, and that would be a nice picnic. Those are my conditions, and if a July picnic isn’t going to be just like that, I’m uninterested.

I guess everyone knows that Independence Day is a federal holiday commemorating my country’s adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. People in the U.S. usually celebrate with fireworks, barbecues, parades, family gatherings, carnivals and picnics.

When I think of 4th of July food fare, I think of potato salad, watermelon, any kind of barbecued meat, but especially hot dogs and hamburgers, baked beans, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and some kind of red, white and blue dessert. Like this. Or this.

But mostly what I think about in July is that I want August to hurry up and arrive. Isn’t that the silliest thing? I have the same thoughts about January. January and July are my least favorite months and I cannot explain it. If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect that years ago during the months of January and July I was kidnapped, drugged and taken into slavery, and forced to dig mines by hand deep into the earth, and finally released both times in February and August. And I’ve repressed these memories all these years, and what’s left over is that I consistently feel ambivalent (at best) about the months of January and July.

I wrote about January awhile back and how dangerous it feels to me. Don’t click on the above link if you’re afraid of icicles.

What are your thoughts about July? Do you love the month? Do you have lots of family get-togethers and food and fireworks? Is it when you celebrate your birthday? Do you revel in the hot weather? Do you work in your garden? Do you swim? Fish? If you celebrate the 4th, what kinds of things do you do?

What does July mean to you?

Your Favorite Blogs

June 29, 2012 | My Jottings

I always like it when a friend recommends a favorite blog, and I end up loving it as much as she does.

Recently my friend Kay in Cornwall, England told me about Susan Branch’s blog, and I’ve now bookmarked it and will make it one of my regulars. I remember Susan Branch’s cookbooks and calendars from years ago but had forgotten about her, and visiting her blog is almost like taking a vacation. She recently returned from a trip to England, and I couldn’t get enough of her pictures and posts.

I love the blogs in the sidebar directly to the left of these words, and recommend those to you, of course. I also love my friend Helen’s blog. She lives in Switzerland and the week wouldn’t be complete without my checking in to see what quilt or knitting project she’s working on.

What are two or three of your favorite blogs? I would love to know which ones you visit over and over again, and why.

Are there blogs you visit because of the beautiful pictures? Or for girl talk? Or to learn more about God’s love for you? Or to feel connected with other people who share similar interests? Do you like decorating blogs? Blogs that are like reading another person’s diary? Cooking blogs? Funny blogs?

I look forward to reading what you share, and I wish you a wonderful weekend, dear friends and family!

The Schnauzers are settling in…

June 27, 2012 | My Jottings

The first few days at our new house, Edith and Mildred, our two Miniature German Schnauzers, acted like they were on amphetamines. They paced and panted and looked at us wild-eyed. They followed us from room to room. They acted like their new front yard was a dangerous place, hurrying to do their business and then bounding up the deck steps to get back in the house as fast as possible.

They caught on to things quickly, though. They know this house well now and act like they’ve always been here. They trot boldly into the master bedroom, leap up on the new king-sized bed and throw themselves down with heavy canine sighs for their mid-morning, mid-afternoon and mid-evening naps.

Millie is the dog we always say might have some developmental disabilities. She is opposite from Edith in so many ways, it’s an enigma to us. If you’ve never read about their differences, you can click here for enlightenment.

This morning as I was doing a few things in our bedroom, Millie opened her eyes and watched me. When Edith watches her humans, she just watches. When Millie watches, she seems as if she’s a little bipolar and is on the verge of a manic episode. Older Edith, in the background, knows how to fully rest, and has an adorable schnauzer snore. Millie is on alert. Her ears are up, her eyes are open very wide with the whites showing, and her front legs are a little stiff. The picture below actually makes her look calmer than she really seemed.

Someone in our family calls Millie “Dreadifer.” I think its an apt nickname.

Tomorrow, June 28th, Michael and I will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. We will be staying home this year, not venturing out for a weekend away. I’m sure we’ll probably go out to dinner, and without even asking Michael where he’d like to go, my bet is he’ll choose here.  That man sure loves a good steak.

Well, I’m off to make tacos for dinner. There’s nothing like frying your own corn tortillas when it’s taco time.

What’s for dinner at your house?

The Living Room

June 25, 2012 | My Jottings

I thought I would post a few more pictures of our new house. As I’ve mentioned before, the previous owner must have loved blue, because the living room, main floor bathroom, one bedroom, master bathroom, and the family room in the basement are all blue, or a form of blue, like light aqua, turquoise, or periwinkle.

I love blue as well, but probably would not have chosen as much blue if I were painting the inside of the house myself. But I made a decision before we moved in – to be fine with it. It’s okay. No worries. No prob. And it feels wonderful not to be thinking about how to make things exactly fit my own preferences.

Lest anyone think I’ve suddenly transformed into this easy going, c’est la vie type person, I will say that if the living room walls had been bright orange or electric purple, I would have had to paint them.

When we purchased this home and I saw that our living room furniture, which is very traditional, with dark woods, deep colors and bold patterns, was going to have to settle in a room with walls the color of robins’ eggs, it made me pause. Hmmmm, I said. Deep jewel tones, a neutral, taupe colored couch, and a black console table, all arranged in a smallish, light and airy room with turquoise walls? Okay! I answered myself. And so even if everything doesn’t “go,” it goes enough for me.

Every single day I thank the Lord for bringing us here.

Each morning I walk down three (not eighteen) stairs and look out at the largest freshwater lake in the world, and feel a deep contentment.

See the water color print in the photo below? I’ve loved it for years and it has usually hung above our fireplace mantel. It’s by an artist named Cheng-Khee Chee, and it’s a winter scene of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, MN, our capital. Click here to see a lovely photo of the cathedral.

The domed roof of this beautiful cathedral is copper, and over the decades has turned a beautiful turquoise. So our Chee print speaks to our turquoisey/pale aqua walls. (That’s decorating lingo for “our Chee print matches the walls.”) Ha.

Don’t the kennels in the corner add a nice, homey touch?  🙂 Our schnauzers Edith and Mildred have always loved their kennels. Sometimes during the day they just curl up in their little “dens” of their own accord and take puppy naps. I’m not sure we’ll keep the kennels here, but for now, sleeping under the Chee works for them.

Someday soon I’ll post photos of our master bathroom, which still feels like it belongs to someone else.

Tomorrow, the living room you see above will be filled with women. Ranging in ages from early forties to mid-sixties, almost a dozen of us will be gathering each Tuesday morning for the rest of the summer to study the book of James, and its author.

I feel such an expectancy about this study. I desperately need a fresh word and a fresh work in my life.

I look at our peaceful, robins’ egg blue living room and picture the dear women who will gather here this summer. Today I am praying for Deb, Carey, Lana, Kristi, Kay, Dawn, Su, Laurel, Fiona, Sharla, Sue and myself. I’m asking the Lord to change our lives for His good pleasure as we open His Word together these coming weeks.

Lord, this is the main gathering place in our new home, this delightful house you have provided for us. I ask your blessing on every person who ever sets foot in this room of robins’ egg blue. I ask that your peace and hope always abide in this room. I ask that your truth and love will be lived out in this room. I ask that mercy will triumph in this room.

With a very grateful, but very needy heart,

The Power of Water

June 21, 2012 | My Jottings

Today is a beautiful sunny day with just a few puffy clouds in the sky. Normally sapphire blue Lake Superior is a shocking muddy brown right now, because our area had a record-breaking storm the night before last, and our dozens of rivers overflowed their banks and poured into our Great Lake, bringing uprooted trees, debris and tons of mud.

Here’s an amazing aerial photo of the lift bridge in our harbor, and the huge lake beyond, taken by my good friend Bob King for our local News Tribune.

Parts of our city are underwater, and I feel soooo sorry for people whose homes have flooded. Our mayor has declared a state of emergency, and it will take months to do the repairs; streets were lifted up and carried away, huge sinkholes opened up and swallowed cars, entire shopping centers were flooded. 



This next photo by MinnPics is of a street less than a mile from our home.

We had a few rivulets in our basement and a drip or twelve from the ceiling in our entry way, but if you could have seen the sheer volume of water that just poured from the sky, you’d understand why we aren’t upset about our dampness at all.

Our area received between 8-10 inches of rain in 24 hours. I’ve never seen anything like it. Here’s a link with some other photos, if you’re interested.

And this is a photo taken from space by satellite of our huge lake – the mud can be clearly seen.

Thankfully, no lives were lost even though so many homes and businesses have been flooded.

It often takes some kind of shakeup to get us to see more clearly the blessings we take for granted. As I type this I’m sitting in a dark theater with four of my eight grandchildren. They’re watching Madagascar 3 and I’m not. 🙂

We have more than we need. We have hugs and kisses. We have family. We have a relatively dry home. We have food in the cupboards. We have hope. We have Christ. We have hope because we have Christ.

If someday my home is flooded and my street floats away, I may need you all to remind me that blessings still abound. I pray that I’ll always be able to rest in whatever He pours out, even if I think it’s too much rain…

Wednesday Whimsy-Edition 85

June 20, 2012 | My Jottings

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

G.K. Chesterton

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What color should we paint our fireplace?

June 19, 2012 | My Jottings

As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t plan on changing very much about our new house. Been there, done that.

We’re old, and not in the mood.

The two things I think we will change are the office walls (I’m still thinking about red and white toile wallpaper!) and the lime green fireplace.

There’s a neat little fireplace in our dining area, which is in between the living room and the kitchen. This fall, we’ll have a gas insert installed in the fireplace (we’re not in the mood to haul wood either) and I know how much we’ll appreciate a cheery fire during snowy winter mornings, or having a comforting little blaze at dinner time.

We also plan to change out the light fixtures in the kitchen.

Good morning Michael!

I’m not sure what color to paint the brick of the fireplace. The things we have for our kitchen are Delft colored — lots of dark blue and white. Our new kitchen is on the modern side, with cherry cabinets and sleek pulls. I’m not sure the two styles can actually meld, but that’s okay.

I’d like to have your opinion on what to paint the bricks of the fireplace. A friend suggested metallic copper, another friend suggested caramelly light brown. Someone else thinks a neutral taupe would do, and another person suggested darkish periwinkle blue to help us use all our blue stuff in the space.

What do you think? I’d love to know…

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

June 16, 2012 | My Jottings

There’s a large deck that runs across the front of our new house. The sun rises over one end of the deck, and by noon it blazes on the center portion of the deck. By three o’clock the sunlight is at the other end, near the front door, and by this time there are shadows that make it lovely to sit outside and enjoy the views of Lake Superior, and watch the ore boat traffic. There are plenty of sailboats and fishing boats on the lake too, but the huge thousand footers are the ones that grab our attention the most.

The first weekend in our house, we bought flowers for the three flower boxes on the deck railing. Sara chose varieties that do well with full sun exposure, and they’re all settling in and growing, and making me feel happy about their beautiful little lives.

The red ones are called Lantana, and they attract hummingbirds, and lots of bees so far.

“The earth laughs in flowers,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I love that quote, and definitely agree. It seems so heartening to bring that laughter just a little bit closer to the house.

A Polka-dot Peek

June 14, 2012 | My Jottings

It seems like all I do lately is post fluffy stuff. Maybe now that we’ve downsized in house and business, my brain has received the signal that it’s finally okay to rest. I have a few things I’d like to post soon, but for today I’ll give you a peek of my new office.

I’m not sure what this room was originally. I wondered if the round mirrors and the polka-dots on the wall were to decorate a nursery. It’s a small room, just right for my office. I had to do away with a piece of my desk in order to fit everything in here, but that’s okay. I have a temporary folding table up to help me with the licensing paperwork I’ve been working on for a while now.

In this new house there’s very little we’re going to change. I’m just not in the mood for much redecorating, and that feels perfectly fine.

I do think, however, that I will change the office someday soon. I am missing the black and white toile from our old bedroom, and think this little office would be the perfect place for some toile wallpaper, only in a different color.

I love blue and white toile, but there’s a lot of blue in this house. The previous owner loved the color (as do I) — I don’t think I’ll add more. I love red. I wonder what a small red toile office would look like?

Like this, perhaps?

I think I like that.

I’ll post a few more photos soon of other rooms in the house.

I’m currently reading Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter and it’s beautiful. I read his Jayber Crow last year and it was an utterly unique and transporting book.

I’d love to hear what you’re up to today, or what book you’re reading….

Our Oasis

June 8, 2012 | My Jottings

I’ve got many things I’m turning around in my mind these days, things I’d like to write about, but there are other items on the to-do list that come first. Our foster care re-licensing is coming up next week and I need to finish preparing for that. My dear friend Su came over to help me with that this morning since she’s a foster care provider too; she looked lovingly at me and told me I looked shot, and I believed her and gratefully received her assistance.

We are 95% unpacked, which means there are only two or three more small boxes to unpack and then we’ll be completely finished. We’ve been in our new home for a week now and we love it. I thought I’d post a couple of (not the greatest quality) photos of Michael’s and my bedroom, which feels like an amazing oasis to us already.

A couple of days ago I was poking along at my Fifty-four Year-Old Woman Pace, trying to put things away in the best places in our bedroom and closet, when Sara came to the rescue. She worked fast and efficiently and by mid-afternoon our room was done. (You can click to enlarge these if you like.)

As with our old bedroom, we have a sitting area where we can have our morning devotions together, read, and take an occasional tea break. We have a view of Lake Superior from these windows, which I never get tired of.

The room is quiet and restful (and yes, embarrassingly huge), and Michael and I have our first king-sized bed in our 31-year marriage. I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference in our sleep, but it has. And Edith and Mildred seem to appreciate the extra room too. 🙂

I will post more photos when I get a chance, and I thank you again for making time in your day to stop by.

(Note, added over a year later: we changed our bedroom around and it now looks like this…)


Have a very blessed and peaceful weekend,