Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Rain in February

 The rain has been forecasted for over a week. We were all hoping that "they" would be wrong again. It's a month too early for spring breakup for the loggers. The "Birke"  (annual world class ski race) is scheduled for this coming weekend. Will the snow be all rained away? Will the loggers be cast upon spring breakup rations for ten weeks instead of the usual six?
    So as the rain pours down today, it smells like spring outside. The snow is melting quickly under the 50 degree onslaught of the downpour. 
   Ruger is unhappy and has finally decided to take cover in his doghouse. For unknown doggy brain reasons; he despises his shelter even though we have cushioned it and located it close to our own front door. Today after the rain had soaked through his dirty, long, winter coat he got down off his high horse and went in. Elv says he needs a bath. Yes, following his stand off under that deluge it is not a bath that he needs so much as a good dose of common sense.
    This family is rather grateful for our hearth today. We are all "suffering" with a bad cold thing. Sore throats and coughing and "general malaise" are agents to our suffering. 
   I find "general malaise" an interesting term. Looking up the definition of malaise makes me smile. "a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify." Mom taught me that what you can't specifically identify, you can safely deny. "Get to work and you'll feel better!" Such wisdom you won't find easily in today's preoccupation with self diagnosis, despite the vast amount of "information" online.
Sixteen inch walls make for an unusual place to do group pictures, but these children with their mutually fertile imaginations had no trouble finding it. I had just enough time to catch this photo before the dads ordered them off the window well with warnings about kicking the screen out and falling down outside.
   I knew better anyway. The screen is custom built for the window so it is made with metal screening and real one inch lumber. Don't try this at home is good advise but here at the stonehouse?  Well, as long as Grandpa or Marmee are  in on it, we can get by with a few special stunts now and again. Some of those opportunities will happen only once or twice because everybody grows up very quickly. I know this, too.

These two couples are our new ministry team for Grace Bible Church. They are already well loved and respected. We're thanking God for His goodness in affirming them and us with His definite call on their lives to this work, even before we commenced the process of choosing and ordaining.

   I have been reading Debbie MaComber's book called Knit Together. She says: Unfocused lives are complicated lives. We spend all of our time putting out fires we don't want instead of building the ones we do.
   I have done a lot of this and am working on making changes to simply work on the fire I want to be building today. I want to live our dreams today and continue to dream for the future.
     I asked the married children this past weekend what they expect to be doing twenty years from now. One of them offered the quick and true answer that what we are doing today is deciding for us what it is we will be doing in twenty years. Here's what she said later.
I've been thinking about mom's question about what I want to be doing twenty years from now. I do have some hopes and dreams. But it occurred to me that what we are doing right now and the choices we make today and tomorrow are what really determine what I will be doing twenty years from now.
So, what can I be doing today? Love my children and my husband. Support my church and pray for it. Make my home pretty and welcoming. Educate my children and teach them to love books and music and learning. Take better care of my bookwork and spending money. Enjoy my friends and family.
And many more things, but those are a few I thought of. Only God knows what the next twenty years hold!
  -Jenny Burkey
   Here's another one of the girls' later answer to my question.

I think I have more of a ten-year dream than a twenty-year dream at this point. In twenty years I could very likely be an empty nester. It's really hard to imagine life with the kiddos grown and gone, especially after a Monday morning of meltdowns. And there's a lot of variables in life as well. Who knows what's going to happen with employment, church, health, nation, etc. But I want a happy family serving Jesus in whatever capacity that may be, both in ten and twenty years.
                                                                                               -Charlotte Graber

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Blahs and Other Adventures

 Even in the city there's beauty on a cold winter day. I noticed and grabbed this photo in Minneapolis last week on our way to set up for The Lake Home and Cabin show.
Setting up our booth in the convention center reminded me of Sugar on Snow days. It seems long ago and far away, those days of preparing for our annual living history event in Beaver Bay.
While Rosie boated in the bayou down south under the Louisiana sunshine; Ruthie and I enjoyed setting the stage for showing and sale of our furniture and sheds. Oh well, we get to share the fun around one way or the other.
To be honest, boating in the bayou wouldn't be my pick of enjoying the sunshine. What if we met an alligator or worse yet, a snake? So I comforted myself accordingly and had a great time working indoors where the crisp Minnesota wind couldn't reach us. The guys worked even harder than we did, and were taking a lunch break here, as you can see.

 This pink, hickory rocker is kind of cute. It is stained so the grain still shows nicely. Everybody but me said, "That's ugly!" when it came off the truck. But I could see it cozy-ed up to a huge stone fireplace on a braided rug under old, low-slung  beams darkened with the smoke of a thousand wood fires. Sure enough, it sold at the show and we're going to order more. The next one will be a darker red. Come in to Northwood Outdoor soon and order yours.

On a different note, our Sunday afternoons have been good times of sledding for the children out behind the church and a video seminar for the rest of us in the fellowship hall. We keep the coffee pots busy and the babies who need naps bouncing, the while. We're learning how to teach and speechify.
It's been a wonderful way to combat the blahs and learn something together at the same time.

On  other Sunday afternoons we play table games and visit till almost 5 in the afternoon, sometimes.

On still two other Sunday afternoons we've been trusting God to help us in choosing new leadership for our small group. Next Sunday will be ordination day.  We are happy to welcome Conroy Loewen and Dru Lattin as the new leadership team for Grace Bible Church. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Roses and Silver and Ordinary Winter Days

 Cold weather has returned after a couple of weeks of a January thaw. Amy removed a bucket full of ashes from the living room stove and Elv cleaned them out of the stove in his study. When this cold weather hit yesterday we started having trouble getting a good bed of coals and our fires were sullen and dyspeptic. Everybody came to the same conclusion at once remembering other winters. The fires are choked with ashes. Thus our stove chores today.
 This evening the living room fireplace is wonderfully warming  and pretty, the clean glass allowing us to enjoy the dance and glow of the fire.
Lance sent a picture to the family today of what he had determined was a wolf kill. A freshly taken deer mostly eaten with many tracks all around. Elv said a trash bag had been ripped open, too. The bears are all hibernating so wolves seem to be the logical conclusion. True Wisconsin winter.
The challenges of cold weather must be met with knowledgeable acceptance of extra chores, the need for extra wraps, and more time allowed to commute to work. But the sun shone brightly on our white world and while I pumped gas this morning in 2*F degrees, I felt its wonderful warmth standing where the wind couldn't reach me. Ah, the February sunshine.
   I finished a heavy pair of mittens yesterday that had been on my needles for two years. I hadn't touched them in that long and amazingly it took me only a few minutes to finish them up even though I had to redo the one thumb till I remembered how to do it again. It wasn't procrastination so much as having too many new and exciting projects.  Cold winter days make finishing some of them possible.
    Lisl found the stash of old silver plated table ware that I had in the china cabinet when she got home from Thailand. Among the delights of being home after eight years was this find and the fun of shining it. She lined the sink with tinfoil, laid the tarnished silver ware on it, poured in hot water and sprinkled a liberal amount of soda over it. In a few seconds the silver began to show up. It was an education for me. I didn't know that real silver is actually a very soft, mellow, yellow color. It glows warmly. We both gloated over it. She wants to use it and love it and care for it. So she shall. This old silverware was wedding gifts for Elv's parents from his dad's North Dakota relatives.
    Find a way to celebrate home making and to enjoy winter in your kitchen today.
    And one more happy thing for today. I dropped in at Lisl's after work today to pick up the Bosch mixer that we both use. Instead of the mixer which she was using she handed me a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of bread. At home, Amy had prepared homemade baked beans for supper. So we had baked beans and bread for supper just like old times.
    While Amy did dishes, I rolled the leftover beans and cheese into tortillas to freeze for Elv's lunch for days to come. Winter home making at its best.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Winter Monday Post

 It's Monday evening. We have a few inches of new, powdery snow on the ground and more coming maybe. It's cold again. One of these days maybe the sun will come out on a white sparkling world and we'll be able to get some much needed happy.
   Blogging and writing have ground to a standstill due to a serious lack of courage. I mean, I hope that's all it is.
    When the sun comes out and stays in the sky longer than four o' clock in the afternoon I'm hoping to wake up and come out from under my rock.
   Abbey put a heat light on her terrarium a few days ago and within a few minutes her two painted turtles came out and stretched their little heads out as far as possible to get as close as possible to that light and basked. Soon they began to do what turtles do when they're happy, shoving for the highest spot. Yurtle stood on Turtle and got even closer to the heat lamp. Until Turtle tipped Yurtle into the water and then the race to the top of the tank and the light began all over again.

 The closest I can get to crawling out of my shell is to clean up the kitchen, create some pretty, and have a birthday party for two 30 year old girls in the family.
   Each time I write something or say something it feels embarrassing afterward. Bad case of me-ism going on here.
   But the party was nice, if I may say so.  We opened up the two electric train boxes after four years? (Wow, that was too long) And played trains on the carpet with the grandchildren. Cheering activity. The smoke stacks on both engines and one of the whistles still work.
    That was last week.
    Today, Monday, Amy and I decided to drop everything here at the stone house and go up to the cabin to rouse it for a change and visit our friends up there for a couple of days. We hurriedly swept floors and washed the dishes here and threw food into a cooler and clean sheets for beds and a few duds into our bags, loading it all into Amy's car.
   Phone calls and plans ticked right along until snow began to dump out of the grey skies. While sitting at the L&M parking lot waiting for our rendezvous with Elv who was bringing us the generator, our little plan began to get snowed under, literally.
   We gave it up. Went to the library for another installment of books and a movie and crept meekly home to spend the rest of the day safely content to hug the stonehouse hearth. Maybe next week, we'll try again. 

This Beloved Hearth During a Snow Storm!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Merry Christmas 2016

 This is my scrapbook page of our 2016 Christmas. It will be mostly just pictures: out of order, random captioning, plus gaps. So many things of which I have no pictures.
We had ten days of holiday doings with parts of the family. The men worked days. We played evenings. We had two days where we were all on hand. It was fun, relaxing, sometimes wild, and always a blessing of richness to our whole family. Here are the girls with our new Thai fabric skirts. I had this epiphany/idea of how to bring home a pretty, useful gift to each of the girls while pushing our way through that crazy fabric place at Market with Lisl back in Thailand. Satisfaction.
    Of course, I love this picture. We have such nice times. I love these women! They love Jesus and their families and their life work. They laugh and cry in the right places for the right reasons. They're completely human: both weak and strong and by turns. They struggle with wakeful babies and naughty toddlers and smart first graders and funny or ornery customers. They deeply love the children given into their care and spend their days in training and teaching and "savoring the moments with" them. They keep pretty homes and clean their dirty houses. Those married are loyal wives: loving and fussing by turns there, too, because that's life. Good job, girls!

 One of our young moms decided to put in a few candles/pretties at the church for over Christmas. Loveliness that we all got to enjoy. Another young lady provided the chalkboard art.
We at Grace Bible Church had some blessed worship times of singing this Christmas. I think we sang our hearts out this year of Christmas songs for three Sundays in a row.

 One set of singers I wish I had a picture of to show you was of Clark, Adam, Dru, and Gabe singing for us on New Years morning at church. "Yes Lord, Yes!"
    Ten years ago they sang this song with the same gusto and then found wives, jobs, had children, and worked their individual ministries.And now they know a little more what is was they were singing back then. They sang it again with dedication and a deepened earnestness. Godly men, pressing toward the mark. God has been so good to all of us.

 We had a bit of Christmas-ing here at the Stone House before the rest of the family came home.  Traditional gift wrapping, giving and receiving.
   Elv and I got a new log bed from where I work. And a new wood rack for the living room fireplace. And we all received most of what we'd had on our lists. We have few needs and fewer wishes, I guess. Happy times. 

And sparkling grapejuice.
 I think the snow play is probably some of the best memories for these children. Some of them came from Thailand where they never have snow, so playing in the snow was extra special for them.

 Clark's have a big, new room where a large family can meet to spend time visiting and playing games and eating. They had it ready for us in time as they hoped and it was perfect. We literally spend hours there.
Very nicely done, Clarks.
Another thing I noticed this year was that our oldest grandchildren are reading, playing table games and piecing puzzles along with the adults. Not babies anymore.

 Charlotte and Clark both have a knack for making it cozy without too much busy-ness. So her little touches of pretty were lovely.

 There was room for coloring, and puzzle piecing, and board games, and children play all at once.
There were soft chairs for naps and baby rocking.
Clark had the stove "lit" for coziness.

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.

 Lunch with my munchkins on a sewing day. I love parties with them. I read the Boxcar Children aloud to them this year.
   Children provide the wonder that makes any Christmas or family gathering complete. It's all new and miraculous and amazing to them. Actually, they are the happy miracle that keeps our lives normal and hopeful.