Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Life is Good

 I dislike when people wear "busy" like a martyr or a hero. We live as we choose and we do what we really want to do: work, social events, play, eat, sleep, complain, or have a good attitude. We should not even try to deny it. 
Right now, we are running at full much we WANT to do.  And I have to say, we're trying to do ALL of it. Elv usually says "enough" before I do, but this time I think he's enjoying it as much as I am. 
Brad is graduating this spring with honors. We plan to celebrate soon. Stay tuned. 
Not be trite, but it went so fast. 
 Thanks Brad for the great school days with you. And for studying hard and staying with it till the end. You did well! 
This morning, summer vacation underway and there's nobody home here.  "Empty Nester" has got to be the silliest term for where we are these days. 
   Mostly, we are busy with work: our own daily work, projects on the house that are still in the very early stages, helping Francis and Josh with their new property, and my work at the store is rich and varied just now with all the new stuff arriving daily to be priced and displayed. Besides, the lawn needs mowing and the garden weeding.  

This is me trying to write for Dad's story. Dad, are you praying about this project? My stack of papers is not yet this numerous but it will be soon, a pile of false starts. The deadline marches steadily closer day by day. 

The Martin reunion is ten days away and I am still laboring on a picture presentation. We've been collecting pictures such as these. Take a good look, if you know Aletha Martin Kauffman and her three sisters, Mildred, Ella, and Rhoda. This is a sister group, yes.
  Piles of black and white photos to sort through and scan in to change them to something that will project from my computer to a large white space for viewing by the 28th. Another deadline that I'm a little nervous about.
    I just have to say that Grandma Kauffman always wore that style of shoes just like she is wearing here: heels and pointy toes and all. I remember. Maybe this is the reason I like pretty shoes.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


   This will be a messy Monday post of food opinions and plans, groceries shopping, and maybe a few recent photographs. Lisl said I should say something profound and post my shopping list, as well.  We shall see what comes of it. 
    To begin with, on a quest for a better meal plan for this household of three working adults, a serendipitous moment completely sidetracked me in the form of a video that came up on the subject of food that I have wondered about. I don't say it was correct scientific information. But I will say that it took a healthy crack at nonsense about labeling that we see all the time: "light", "low carbs", "100% natural", and other such claims. And the adage: "If you can't read it, don't eat it!" was there as well. I like that one. 
    The solution to the sandwich meat problem may lie in last nights supper. A planned, gracious meal at supper could yield some pretty decent sandwich materials.  Hamburger meatballs and rice.  Chicken breasts and rice. Meatloaf and baked potatoes. Home made baked beans and fresh baked biscuits. And steamed mixed vegetables with each meal. 

 These are tamarack buds. I think they're very lovely and precious. Elv had to run the canoe straight into the bush to reach a branch for me. My eyes aren't the best for seeing detail unless it is right under my nose. So he obliged. Soon the tamarack swamp will be a green haze overlooking the blue water of the channel where the bass are spawning right now. 

 Saturday.  So much for a messy Monday post. Most of what I had written got lobbed off. So Lisl, I have nothing profound to say at the end of this busy, eventful week. The garden is planted in zinnia, cosmos, straw flower, and other kinds, as well. I wanted to plant poppies. 
I used Clark's rider and mowed most of the lawn. Then I lifted the weed eater down from its hooks in the mini-barn and it started right up for the first time this season. Woohoo! Everything is trimmed and tidy now. 
    The long list of spring cleanup is considerably shorter thanks to our children and Elv and me. Amy cleaned and painted the walls in the Boy's Cabin. Clark took the wood stove away to his shop. I used Lance's lawn fertilizer spreader, pushing it round and round till we used up a whole bag of little white granules that will supposedly make the grass green and thick. We'll see about that.

                                                        Blessings Tally-Up

~ Tickets to Thailand have dropped to a seemingly attainable price. Suddenly the sky opens and Elv and I may get to go.  Thank You, God. 
~  Spring work happened around here.
~  Two "fat" envelopes in the car after church. Praising the Lord for that timely-ness.
~  After praying for a lost book of Grandma Skrivseth's memoirs; I found it under the couch, possibly right where I left it.
~  Getting ready for a picture slide presentation for a reunion makes the reunion for me already! It's amazing. Talking to cousins I never have before to collect those prints. 
~ A lovely date with my man at Blackwoods last night. 
~ Amy and I get to go to Nebraska and help Francis paint and clean in their new house. 
~ Reading the fourth book on my list of 32 books-to-read this summer. 

                          The Books I'm Reading

  I read Second Suns by David Oliver Relin and was inspired to realize that God is still miraculously making the blind to see through the work of two skilled doctors willing to work in the poorest, most needy places on earth. 
    From there I moved on to reading the other two books I had out on library loan, simultaneously. It was not confusing because both books were set in New England during the years of the making of the Declaration of Independence.   The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island was fascinating. It gave me a window into the world that then was when my Kauffman ancestors came over from Switzerland to settle in PA. I didn't read Dear Abigail nearly as closely since it was a document of letters written between Abigail Adams and her two sisters. But there were pieces of interest. 
   The book I am reading now is The Lost Art of Dress with a subtitle of The Women Who Once Made America Stylish. This book has my full attention. Linda Przybyszewski did her home work. It is packed with documented history and well researched information and plenty of candid observation.  I quote: Tight skirts also ignore the fact that a skirt with walking ease done up in a fabric that drapes well will make a woman's figure look more slender and infinitely more graceful than it appears in a straight skirt. The skirt will swing, ever so gently, as she walks. And when she sits down, she does not have to worry about it hiking up her thighs. End of quote.  She is more forthright and unapologetic than most of us Christian women in her approach
      And now it is time to close this epistle.  Have a good Sunday. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

"This Is Why I Work Here"

 That was Rosie's comment the other day while she was enjoying her work of redoing a mug display at the store. It is a matter of choice, where we work, and if we enjoy it or not.
I finally chose, almost thirty years ago, to love the home I own and to own the home I love. It wasn't easy sometimes to decide to love the home we own including the unchangeable window sizes and inevitable traffic of the too close streets.
 And the traffic through the yard of other peoples children, more yet the feet of a different culture pounding by the house at night or any other time they chose. It's all been training ground for us and our children. They grew up knowing that we are definitely in the world even though not of the world. We've had a lot of practice with that here.
    And yes, the willingness to maintain and love this odd, old house has been a choice, over and over. It's why I work here. Last night we brought home the first batch of lumber to remodel the basement. We have a dream. That's another reason we work here. A dream motivates us to believe that we can create a beautiful, functional space in what is now damp and unlikely. 
 Another reason for working here is that the next generation is depending on us. There's a park next door where the boys love to play. I hold out the promise of some park time after a portion of work is done.  This property is where we motivated our children to enjoy the constant work of a lawn, garden, and again the odd, old house. Here we are...still! I love my work here because it is where I am. And I have this wonderful privilege of sharing the love of living with our grandchildren. What can possibly more fulfilling than this? 

 Speaking at a girls retreat was also not really in my bucket list of things I wanted to do someday. I have to admit though, it was another reason to be glad that I work here. Here, where I am in my life with our own girls raised and also choosing to love their work. It is a taught/learned attitude. I thought and prayed over this speech for weeks. You heard about that already. It didn't take me long at all to realize that speaking is one of the places we work when we write and care about other people. Because we want to share in ways that encourage the rest. Ultimately, I discovered that love of sharing is why I work here in the world of words. 
 I enjoyed putting this display together this week at work. With Rosie's words on my mind I decided to get pictures to show you. This display is old and new stock rearranged to help our customers see the possibilities for their own decor at home. It is one of my favorite forms of sharing. It's fun to figure out new ways to do this. It is  an art, in a way. And it is definitely part of why I work here. The rewards are immediate and long term. And than there's a check at the end of the week, too. But truthfully, I would be tempted to do this job just for this pleasure. Elv might have other ideas about that. 
   Oh that's right, I guess this work is the reason we get to remodel the basement. Remember, life/work is what you make of it: a drudgery or a pleasure.

Crex Meadows On a Sunday Afternoon In April

 Welcome to the local wildlife refuge.  We had a very small gathering that Sunday so Lance and Kristine "hosted" a Crex outing for the afternoon and evening. 
We all got into four vehicles and headed over to Grantsburg. 
Crex Meadows is the most beautiful spot in Wisconsin in April. 
Do go over to the webpage. You'll see the very picture I'd love to be able to get. 

 Katherine was very enthused about this sight seeing process. I have to say that some people like this sort of thing more than others. Elv and I tend to assume everyone will enjoy this as much as we do.
Nest builders.


 Yes, here is my photography.  All you see is a wanna-be picture of a couple of male mergansers. At least I know what they are, huh! 

 A couple of our favorite people. And Clark's camera there. Look at that long nose of a lens paraphernalia. Wow! 

I haven't seen his collection of pictures. I wish he'd post a few of his. Don't you? 

 The best seat for this show is in the bed of the pickup. Binoculars help, too.

 A beaver condominium. The sky/water play was awesomely beautiful that day. I think Crex Meadows is one of our favorite-est spots to appreciate God's power and majesty here in Wisconsin in the spring.

If you look closely you'll see a beaver swimming there in the picture above.

  Often the wild fowl are not worried about our presence, but this goose was not impressed and had his or her neck all stretched out protesting loudly. 

 See the red buds there in the woods? This is a true sign of spring. Trees are brilliant in fall here, but they are colorful in spring too. They all flower, and the maple flowers are astounding on close inspection. When they fall, the ground below them is a red carpet. 

 We had our picnic supper there by the water. Warm spring breeze and our fellowship was a relaxing way to spend the evening. 
Lance was MC for our supper. Doesn't he look it?

 I asked Christina to take a picture of us. So often on these excursions I have no pictures of the two of us for the record. So we fixed that for this time.

 Watching wildlife requires patience and quiet. But we know how to do that. It is rewarding, too. A pair of swans was turning in for the night right below our picnic spot after supper. 
Clark and I worked at getting their portrait. My photographs are grainy. But, I think Clark has some pretty nice ones. He had quite a lot of zoom and power to go with it.

                           The perfect way to end a good day.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Week In Words

     Actually, the week started last Saturday instead of thinking in the usual way that it starts on Monday. Or that's just my way of notching my stick, I suppose. Anyway, it's Saturday again.
    Last Saturday at this time Elv and I four-wheeler-ed up to our lamp-lit cabin and clambered down the snowbank through the front door and found Lance's and Amy welcoming us with triumphant smiles. They'd cut the electric lights just in time and had all 16 lamps polished and glowing just for us. 
    Sunday, about noon Susan and I took the four-wheeler out through Joshua road's mud and ice to the car parked on high ground and headed toward Walker, Minnesota. We had 3 1/2 hours of driving and plenty of visiting to do so it was perfect. The only thing we really saw all the way over was a porcupine high up in an  aspen tree by the road. We actually stopped. Susan said Abram would want to see a picture of it. So.
    We found the little church where about 100 people were gathered to listen to Michael Card sing. It was the nicest concert I've ever attended. I am encouraged to discover that an artist turns out to be just people, too. About my own age and ordinary. It was fun to be able to sing along. I'm just that sappy. Oh well, I told Kristine the other evening that I hope to sing with Vestal Goodman someday in heaven. Everybody just laughs at me. I suppose we all have our bucket list for the heaven days. That's just one of mine. For once, we'll have time. 
    We drove back across the swamp and arrived home around midnight. It was worth it. Monday morning headed home to Wisconsin. 
     I worked Tuesday. Amy worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Wednesday evening she had me come look at her mysterious, spreading rash. What is that? She'd been feverish and tired over the weekend. Pushing through her days, now this rash. Who knows, but chicken pox came up. We still don't know. All better now. Just scabs. Who knows!
    Over in Thailand, Dru's attended a staff retreat this week. Some of us have a better idea what that means for their little family. Sewing dresses for the Havilah. Laundry with the iffy rationed water situation. Preparing and packing in 100 degree weather. That's just ordinary stuff for them. Then there's the future of Dru's work and visas and questions and plans. So we prayed for them. 
   The weather finally turned summer-y, suddenly. Not much green and the fire danger hiking higher every day. We need rain and green. But finally, it is warm. At work, we opened up the garage door and let the sunshine and warm breezes pour in. At home here the stoves stand black and silent. A lot less dirt and dust! The tulips and daffodils are up. Blooms to come soon. 
    Elv is coming home filthy every evening because it's the season to power wash the woods machines. And, absolutely beat and weary and sore. Road bans go off on Monday. Then the real work of summer logging shall begin. 
    Hopefully, despite the busy-ness of summer work we can find time to go canoeing and picnicking.  Francis called today to say that they are closing on their "new" country home next month. "You can all come and help me paint the kitchen, Mom."  We will do that about the second weekend in May.
     Elv and I stood in the most unfinished part of the basement under this old stone house and brainstormed a walk-in closet. It'll be a lot of icky, hard work. And the two of us always get to practice getting along well, when we're remodeling. When we're done, it should be a lot dryer and cleaner. With the addition of an egress window, it should be a lot sunnier down there, too. We hope. 
    The dog ran off twice this week. I think he's bored. And I think he misses Brad. But not as much as I do, I'll wager. 
     I'm reading Second Suns by the same author as Three Cups of Tea this week.  True story of the miracle of sight given to the blind in Tibet by the skilled hand of two ophthalmologists. Of course, it's a fat book with lots of other interesting tid-bits, too.  And this is not to be taken as a book report, because it isn't. The truth is, I have three of the thirty-two books on my to-read-this-summer list in my hands from the library right now. And It's going to be amazing if I get them read in time. 
    Because, most of any free time must be spent trying to make a viable speech out of my collection of scribblings and ideas and a long power point creation. I'm suppose to speak at a young ladies retreat this coming weekend. To say that I'm scared is an understatement. I'm sure everybody is sick and tired of hearing me ask for prayer by now. But I'm depending on those prayers and a lot of God's grace. I realize that I am not going to feel ready, ever! I just need to work on this my best and let God do the rest. Knowing that and trusting that are two entirely different animals! 
    I didn't tell you about the crazy days at work because people went traveling to PA for business and a wedding in Canada and birthday parties. And we finished the week off with a nicely busy Saturday of selling furniture right and left. 
    One day this week, I had Clark's children for a few hours here. We put shoes on the baby and let her play on the patio and the boys and I did some raking and picking up sticks. We piled the sticks in the fire pit and tried to burn them but they were still too damp. Angelie kept taking off her shoes and plumping down on her bottom on the wet ground and getting dirty. We sat down to hotdogs and carrot sticks and fresh, baked, still-warm cookies for lunch. Asher couldn't believe his good fortune when I told him, twice, that he did not have to eat his bread. He ate his meat and veges, happily. What more could a Marmee expect, I ask you! So he got cookies, to boot. 
    Clark's invited us for fajitas one night this week, too. He dug out his old LP player and we settled down for an LP party, but this old player kept not working without a lot of fiddling. I've decided that he needs a new one. We love listening to old records: Cathedrals, Lundstrums, Disney's Winnie the Pooh, and Gospel Echoes. We order up one song from each and he stands there and keeps changing them for us. It's fun. And the in-laws roll their eyes. And that's fun, too. We didn't even get to the Statler Brother's Christmas album.
    And nothing's been said here so far, about the fact that in two weeks I am to swallow a radioactive iodine pill to kill the overage of thyroid action I have going on. It's nuclear medicine and comes with precautions that I will be advised of when I get it. They'll likely roll a couple of pills out of the inside-est of two bottles one inside the other because it's radioactive, you know, into their gloved hand and hand it to me... my bare hand. I'll swallow that and be immediately dangerous to society in general. I am to stay at home, not share anything: my bed, my rest room, my plate, anything with anybody else for three days or so. They say this is a safe medicine. All I have to say is that it better work! 
    And those are my paltry offerings of life at the Grabers. While ordinary weeks like this are happening for us; others are being touched by eternity in more real ways with birth and death. I noticed that this week. We never know what the week ahead holds, do we?
     I asked Elv tonight what would he do if he knew he had only a year left to live. He said, "I'd probably concentrate more on my walk with the Lord, and my relationships."  I'm thinking that this is just the ticket for our days right now no matter how long we have left to live.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Happy Things

 Here's a chance for the rest of you to laugh at me, too, like Amy is. About my precious, little radish green. I don't mind the schputting. When I saw those green, curly leaves I couldn't resist. They're growing quickly... an inch in 12 hours easily. 
 "Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?" Zechariah 4:10 NIV

Small beginnings of spring and  the upcoming summer projects are not to be despised.  Every little bit helps. 

The plan is to paint the bathroom the same white stain as is the frame.  I have permission to change the bathroom to white as along as the wood grain and character still show through. When spring comes. 

                                  Isaiah 61:11
    For as the earth brings forth its bud,
    As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to  spring forth,
    So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


 Today I noticed that the robins are waiting and listening out by the washer drain. They believe there will be worms there. Snow falls sporadically. Snow lies on the grass in places where the sun hasn't been much yet. 
   With my camera I stood at the window and tried to capture their stance. I have plenty to learn about picture taking and I'm glad for Picasa's edits. 
    I deleted at least as many "fails" as those I kept. Among the shots I kept; I edited these. 

 The robins showed up here in early March when we had that first exciting rush of spring. I thought they surely must have died in the snowfalls since then. It seems I was wrong. They take what comes and find worms in unlikely places like the washer drain behind the house.  I have yet to hear a robin tell the world that he is not going to sit by that soapy water and wait for worms when there are God given streams in the woods nearby trickling toward the ice covered lakes.

I am grabbing a lesson from them today. I have consented to speaking to the 14-18 year old group of girls at a Daughters of Promise retreat. It's scary. I am not adequate.  Moses and I have the speech problem in common these days and I have yet to be offered an Aaron. 
I pray about this a lot. I ask that you pray for me as you think of it. 
I have a small ream of paper filled with an outline, ideas, and thoughts. Scattered, disorganized sentences. It's not that I don't have a topic. It's not that I don't have anything to say on the topic. 
How to say only those things that will meet their understanding. I keep praying that God will prepare them for my stumbling words. I hope to keep it so simple that the message is unmistakable. No fluff. No baggage.  I keep praying for something to share that will be unforgettable to take along through their teen years. 
I think my desires are in tune with what should happen there. But I still feel silly and inadequate. And panicky. 
What if I get right down to the week of... and I still have nothing organized to say? So I have written it all down, twice now. The whole thing. But it doesn't have any heart yet. It's flat and ordinary and awkward. 
Finally, I realize that I must just wait and pray. And trust God to fill me with what He wants them to have. Just to give up my own ideas of how to speak it.