Thursday, August 29, 2013


Ahhh summer. Blue River did have summer ever so briefly, savored between the season of old snow and the season of new snow.
Now this is a snapshot of summer if ever there was one; children and water.
The two year old is holding a cup and is learning the principle of abundance. My oldest sister is gently (she's a girl) directing the water into the little cup. The abundance will spill over into the endless sea of a tub.
I love that my sisters are dressed alike. I think that early alike-ness was a gift to them, a bond my mother unknowingly created.
Two little girls hard at the work of play, learning more than is readily apparent.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

blue river boy

This is my big brother before he was big.
It is spring, 1951 and although snow still covers the ground, he is as warm as toast in his winter woolies.
He's happily reclining in a remarkable chair; a wonderful wooden baby lounge made by my grandpa Nelson.
I wonder if it is an original design or a copy of something that grandpa remembered from his childhood in Norway.
I wonder what became of that chair.
The folded Log Cabin quilt is wonderful too.
What an appropriate pattern for a little Blue River boy. 
It was probably made by great grandmother Minerva.
It seems to have her fingerprints all over it.
The sun is smiling down on my brother.
Three generations of love surround him.

So these three things endure forever; faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13: 13

Monday, August 26, 2013

sensitive viewers

I tend to gaze out my window at times, my thoughts engaged, my eyes unseeing. This dubious duality likely began in elementary school, becoming in time a well honed skill. By high school, I had become such an avid doodling daydreamer, my teachers assumed I was industriously writing notes. Fortunately, my ears seemed capable of working independently and I somehow sailed through with flying colors.
This morning I was jerked back into the moment by a gray squirrel sprinting across the road below my window.
At the same time, from a distant yard a dog exploded, running hard.
I could see the intersecting lines ahead for dog and squirrel.
I thought suddenly of the warning, 'The following scenes may be disturbing. Sensitive viewers are advised....'
Fortunately the squirrel had only been sprinting at three quarter speed. When it heard the scrabble of approaching doom it shot in a single bound to a tree and was up and away.
Its ears worked independently too.

and everywhere

The voice of a Mourning Dove woke me yesterday. Its murmured greeting was punctuated by the sharp rasp of a Crow.
Crows always talk so loudly.
They are big and loud.
And everywhere.
I will watch now to see if a single day can pass without a crow winging past and shouting in my direction.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

best before

Nothing makes time go faster than having leftover tomato sauce in the fridge.
Before you know it you are standing in the kitchen with a cold jar of Newman's Own clutched in your hand, mentally walking backwards through a week of supper menus.
I suppose I could jot the Date Used on the jar with a felt pen or use one of those fancy left over containers that have a Dial the Date top. Probably not. I know myself.
Why don't I turn to the freezer with a glad sigh?
It would seem such an obvious solution.
I think it is because I am sure I will use my leftover sauce any moment now.
That a soon to eat supper depending entirely on tomato sauce is just waiting in the wings.
It seldom seems to work out that way though and underlines a fatal flaw in my thinking that applies to more than tomato sauce.
Time will swirl by.
Out of sight can be out of mind.
Without a plan things don't necessarily happen in a Best Before sort of way.

We are having pasta with tomato sauce for lunch today.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

until that part

There was still a look of horror on my daughter's face. They had been sitting in their van, waiting, when she had spotted it. She had thought at first glance that it was a large piece of black tubing, but it was so thick, and in that moment, she realized that it was a large snake, sunning itself.
A truck pulled up and a man and woman jumped blithely out.
The snake gave a mighty heave, flipping over in mid-air.
It seemed to drain off of the road into the grassy verge.
The couple walked unknowing over the very spot the snoozing snake had been.
They unlocked a gate and as the man returned to drive the truck through, the woman walked slowly along the grassy edge staring intently as though she had lost something.

Now this story would be shocking enough, but there is more.
The woman in the truck was me.

As we drove down the long lane, my eyes were on the van alone.
When we pulled up to a stop, I noticed my son-in-law begin to open his door, his hand held out as though to steady or stop me, but I misinterpreted the meaning.
I thought he was chivalrously offering to open the gate.
I demurred.
Fortunately, the snake didn't.
It just disappeared.
As I peered along the grassy verge, looking for frogs to amaze my grandchildren, my daughter was saying in the van, "Mom CAN'T be looking for the snake."
Had the world tilted off of its axis?

"Oh," I squeaked, as the story was relayed moments later.
"Oh, you were trying to keep me from being frightened by the snake," I gasped gratefully, patting my son-in-law on the shoulder.
"No Mom, he just wanted to see the snake up close. He wasn't thinking of you at all." my daughter added.
And I wasn't thinking of me at all either. At least up until that part.


Have you ever wondered where the middle of a snake ends, and where its tail begins?
I found myself wondering that as my startled gaze was fixed upon a snake disappearing into the brambles.
It makes a difference you know.
If you only see half a snake.
You may be seeing half of a very modest snake or only the tip of a monster.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Sometimes, when I sit in my living room and gaze out my windows on either side, I have the strangest feeling, the feeling that I am living in a tree house.
Because we do our living on the second floor, and are on a bit of a hill as well, we look out into the arms of giant trees, bird high.
The branches sway and wave as they ride the wind.
Crows and robins and jays come and go.
Squirrel glance our way as they balance on the deck railing.
I just need a trap door and a rope ladder.

sugar cube

Sugar and spice and everything nice,
That's what little girls are make of.

I never really stopped to think about it before but that may actually be right.
My granddaughter is as wary of water as if she were a little sugar cube.
Now I don't mean she doesn't like baths or 'washing up.' She is a very motivated little hand washer.
I'm talking about the stray sort of water that summer is often rife with; rogue lawn sprinklers, a hazardous hose, or even, gasp, damp hands smoothing back her hair.
My dear dainty dissolvable darling.


"Is there more darkness or more light?" my grandson asked. He is a philosopher and theologian as all children innately are.
"It seems like there is more darkness," I said slowly. "It does seem like there is so much darkness, but God is light."

there was once

 We were taking turns making up stories.
"Do you think I could teach people about good and evil with my stories," my grandson had wondered.
"There was once a righteous man who had seven sons," he intoned, startling me.
"Oh" I enthused. "I like that. That part about the seven sons......
"But some of them were turning to the dark side."
George Lucas meets Genesis.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

sequin seeking

Once upon a time, my youngest daughter was a dimpled, crawling baby, her older sister a fridge door artist.
It was in the opening and closing of that fridge door/art gallery that a drama (or trauma) was innocently set in motion.
One of the works of art had sequins attached in the haphazard fashion of preschool artists and a sequin had fallen unnoticed to the floor.
Unnoticed by me but not the baby.
Crawling babies are a sort of early form of vacuum cleaner.
All of this was completely unnoticed by me; the shedding artwork, the sequin seeking baby.
But when it became apparent that something was amiss in the babies mouth and a glimpse of glittery gold appeared as a half moon behind her tiny front teeth, I hastened with her to the dentist.
Poor Dr. Hegedus.
Over the din and amidst the chaos, he was able to get his tiny little dental tool into the babies mouth.
He flicked the offending sequin out but another inexplicably appeared in its place.
He flicked that one out too.
Another sequin glinted in the light.
He flicked that out as well.
And another.
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins came to mind.
The last sequin was finally banished.
Who do you suppose recovered the quickest?
The baby or Dr. Hegedus or me?

poor bartholomew

I always viewed Dr. Seuss with suspicion as a child. We owned a large hardcover copy of The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins but I felt scared every time it was read to me. The executioner was large and burly. Did I just say executioner? That story should have been rated PG seven or eight at least for violence don't you think. Poor Bartholomew. He was supposed to take off his hat and he really did try. It's just that there was no end to the hats hidden under hats hidden under hats. I found that disturbing too. Couldn't he have just snatched them all off at once?
The artwork of Dr. Suess added to my unease. Thing One and Thing Two looked strangely like The Cat in the Hat and for that matter, the fish had the same face as the Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz and that can't be right.
Time heals they say and perhaps it's true in measure.
One of my favorite books to read my own little girls was the Dr. Suess ABC book. I had it committed to memory in time and could probably still chant it out if I had to.
A...a....what begins with a.....Aunt Annie's aligator....a...a....a
B....b....what begins with b....Barber, baby, bubbles and a bumble bee.....

r and r

Our home is built on a small hill, the  perfect vantage point for surveying the realm. This morning I happened by the window at just the right moment to see two families delivering papers at the same time.  We are inundated with papers here and dig our way out from under the local news each week, not to mention the stacks of flyers wedged between the editorial and the classifieds.

Down on the street, a young mother pushed a stroller with one hand and towed a cart of papers behind her with the other. Two spritely little girls took turns dashing up each driveway with a paper. It's all about turns at a certain age. Soon an older child sprinted into view and took the cart handle from her mother. This was obviously an established routine and toast and jam had likely delayed her. They continued down the street, the girls flitting up and down, back and forth.
On cue, a second team appeared; brothers.
The big one towed the papers in a wheeled cart and the younger did the leg work. Seemed like a match made in heaven. They were soon out of sight as well.
It looked like fun, working together like that.
Recreation and responsibility rolled up and delivered at the same time.


As I troll through old family photos, something becomes very evident. My grandfather loved to take family pictures. He had a vision, a dream that was irresistible; his smiling wife and children gazing gladly camera-ward.
Life has a way of being uncooperative though doesn't it, our dreams elusive.
My grandfather had the best of intentions too poor fellow.
He chose a sunny day and a grassy bit of yard.
He mustered the troops.
He positioned his camera just so and repositioned his troops.
He attached a string to the camera and wound it back, back, back to the waiting, restive group.
Instructions were given.
He seized the string.
Hold it, hold it, smile, look over there, smile......
How hard could it be to get seven people to smile as they gaze nonchalantly in the same direction?
Pretty hard apparently.
About the same odds as being struck by lightening I'd say.
Strangely though, those failed attempts to record a golden moment of time have achieved something even grander.
They have captured the dynamic of family life, fraught with emotion but infused with joy and love.
Well, maybe not joy in this picture. Grandfather has a defeated look. Grandmother looks wan.
The children are variously somber and sober. Hmmmmm, needs more practice.
A marked improvement. Some smiles, the dog looks happy.
Almost there. A lovely warmth although gazes are divided in three directions.
Ahhhh, much better. Happiness all 'round. Still not all looking at the camera but nobody is concerned about a little detail like that anymore.