Friday, December 2, 2016

Patio Winter Decor

Amy and I made two winter patio boxes for fun today. We have neat little solar lights from the store which we enjoyed all summer  ranged among the impatiens just so. They flicker and glow in the evening till late at night. So we moved them into the boxes for some more joy.
This is an easy project with few rules. We left the soil intact in them and the two or three ivy plants that are still alive and kicking. We gathered up pine boughs, a few red briar stocks, left over lilac bloom heads, rose hips, and pine cones. To the tidy critic this is probably messy hodge-podge. That's okay. To me, they're beautiful. This is one of those flower boxes made from weathered rotten wood that Brad made for us three years ago. The first winter we fixed them all up like this after a glorious geranium show all summer. Last winter all three boxes stood empty in the store room. This past spring we had to throw all but this one away. The wood had truly disappeared in strategic places so the jig was up. This one still works.

   

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Random Blurry Pictures of Our Thanksgiving Time


 And Other Pictures, Too. Like this one of Havilah and the kitten. I post this here because it is one of many pictures that I have taken lately that didn't go all blurry on me.
The cute kitten  that is no longer having succumbed to a fisher or mouse poison or neighbors gave Havilah much joy. He disappeared without a trace, as they say.We have had no luck with kittens in the past and evidently that hasn't changed.  

You are seeing a little jet lag happening here. The Thai children came home and jumped right into American life, but not without catching up with the viruses that are going around. Dru and Lisl bought them new coats and they wore them rather constantly at first, but they're adjusting quickly. They're anticipating snow as heartily as the rest of us.



Asher turned four midst the hub-bub of fall events and home-comings and travel.  Charlotte didn't forget and brought a cake and candles along when we were all together one evening and we took time to sing Happy Birthday and take a picture.
 


 And then it was Thanksgiving Time. We had our usual spread of pies for the weekend and plenty of family coming home to eat them. The pecan pie seemed to be a real success made with cream cheese. It was like pie and cheesecake all in one dish. We'll do that again.
Josh and Francis and Anne came from Nebraska to spend the holiday with family. They and Lance's were here at our house for Thanksgiving Day proper. All the pictures I tried to get of our loaded, pretty tables are blurred. It's a disaster directly proportional to the wonderful day we had together. So it's all fine. I promise to not be too lazy to set up the tripod for Christmas.


 
 Our Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday at Lewi's was a perfect family day together complete with a four generation picture and plenty of after-dinner laughter and story.
We pushed back our chairs from a wonderful meal and the men spent the next couple of hours playing table games and visiting while us girls helped mom to disperse the contents of her cedar chest.
We found old quilts, old lacy pillow cases and kerchiefs. Mom remembers that the quilt made of one inch squares came from her mother's mother even though she can't remember the newest great grandbaby's name nor yet to which granddaughter he belongs.
We spent quite awhile just looking these things over while she told us what she could remember.  Eventually, we worked out a drawing system to try to divvy these things out. It's impossible to be completely fair and I often come away worrying that I am cradling something someone else wanted or deserves more than I do.
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 While the babies play on someone's device. What is this world coming to!
And Russ Sips His Soda

Youngest Grandson Moments with Grandma Graber

 Story is a big part of our lives. The babies love to have them read ... the same familiar stories, over and over. So do the rest of us.
Our niece, Kara, walked the  Appalachian Trail in the past year. She has stories to tell, parts of which she shared with us. I was inspired by her tales because I am familiar with the themes, as are you. That's what makes story important. It's the familiar themes that we identify with along the way that provide us faith and community. The rocks in her trail remind me of mine. Her triumphs give me hope. And the bears along the way that strike terror are no less chased away than my own fears. Faith stories beget faith.
Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Winter Cottage Decorating

 We have begun to decorate for the Holidays. I want to keep it simple and homey as much as possible this year. It is a great opportunity to vacuum up the rather prolific spiders and their messes, too. So corner by corner, little by little we shall have a clean house again. 
The fat cardinals came down from the window shelf in the dining room where they had collected a coat of dust to be washed and rejuvenated with some new pine picks from where I work. This is a fun and inexpensive way to decorate in the kitchen.
Fall cleaning/winter decorating, my style, is to putter at it an area at a time as the dirt bugs me or as I get a decorating brainstorm.
I remember 30 years ago when we bought this little stone house nestled under too many, too tall, forest trees. It certainly wasn't a mansion just over the hilltop. It was old and rickety and had not been lived in for many years. There were ugly, tan tiled floors throughout, upstairs and down! Boring worn out tile! It was very discouraging for me who had fallen in love with the gambrel roof line, the stone walls and the deep windows. I painted a lot of things to redeem them: walls, trim, ceilings, and stairways; but paint doesn't fix rotten floors and a leaking roof. After what seemed like many long years of waiting, we had new joists, flooring coverings, roof, upper story windows and many other renovations. In the process I learned to think in terms of cabin instead of farmhouse. That important change of thought process was my key to fun and happy decorating and homemaking in general.


Lisl makes beautiful things with fabric and paint. She worked on this the same day that I was cleaning and re-working the pantry shelves in the kitchen.
The doily you see here is an heirloom from Elv's grandmother Graber. She used it and must have loved it. It is mended in several places, great patches of mendings, which makes it even more special to me. It is folded in half to fit the shelf. So, it is just an old doily, but it's history, too, and part of our story. Home making should include pieces of story, "re-purposed" and treasured.
Contented decorating sees possibility in the old and used. It is budget friendly, too. That's my sermon-ette for the day.






Right now we keep fruit and nuts available on the table. The grandchildren group around the table cracking nuts and visiting. I love this. The oldest of them is seven years old, the youngest four months old, seven children who know how to make too much noise at play or squabble like all kids do, or how to sit quietly and listen to story. I'm impressed that they can handle the nut cracker successfully. And they know how to share it, too.
Real winter cottage stuff is happening around here. We even have snow to match.
Thanksgiving with company is coming up next week, so I need to make lists: menus, shopping, and to-do. We should have deserts and salads done ahead, a fridge full, I hope. Pies, cookies, and not to forget to buy an oven bag for the turkey.
Also we plan to go visit Elv's aged mother.
And then there are Christmas programs to share and caroling and more company and visits.
Snowmen to make, hot chocolate parties to create and enjoy, and boots and mittens to dry by the stove. Which reminds me, I bought a hall tree just the right size for the grandchildren to hang their coats on when they come. No more piles of coats and hats to plow through on the entry floor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Just a Note


    To record that I picked this bouquet of flowers from the garden today, the ninth of November. We had a little frost here this AM but not enough to kill the bachelor's buttons, nor the cosmos.
   Today, I have an amazing quiet afternoon to brainstorm the holiday decorations. Christmas decor of snow covered pine trees on black boards and sparkly pine and berries and lights.
    With the sun casting long shadows on the green grass and brown leaves outside because the days are so short, I ask, where is the frost? Where the ice to skate on Thanksgiving Day coming up as we used to do?
   Nevertheless, the holidays are approaching and I'm getting excited about meal plans and parties accordingly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall Work List at Home


   There's blue sky and sunshine outside today on a lovely mild day in November. It's a perfect out there for working a list of fall chores. First thing this morning I ransacked the refrigerator freezer to see what's for supper. There was spilled yeast and a few unidentifiable things that got thrown in the trash. There was also a pack of cranberries.  A clean, almost-empty freezer begs for some thoughtful grocery shopping. We'll get to that, too.
   In the meantime I stirred up some needed cookies. Brad expects them and so do the grandchildren who come and go here. The cranberries got minced in the blender while still frozen and added to our favorite oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. They are really delicious. I'm not bragging, I'm complaining because I must not eat them.
   While the children play outside today...
         
     ~ Paint/seal the wood around two new basement windows to that Elv can add the trim.
     ~ Rake up the leaves on the lane.
     ~ Trim the spirea shrubbery.
     ~ Put away the patio furniture. This feels sad. We never get enough of patio time around here although I have pictures to prove that we spent a lot of time there this summer.
     ~ Clean and store the patio carpet. I know just the place to "store" it. I am hoping to add it to Clark's great room for the winter gatherings.
     ~ Clean off the morning glory trellis.
    
   Then we will come in and have hot chocolate, as per Benny's request for today, and cookies. Are there any other grandchildren looking a fall party?


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bringing Thailand Home

 Thailand. The travel experience we anticipated for months. The place of many people, busy streets, food vendors, colorful and over-flowing markets, motorbikes, humidity, elephants, green glass, exotic plants, palm trees, magpies, and hot weather.
Where you'll find  inviting coffee shops around every corner with yummy iced java's and sorbet or ice cream. The place of strange-to-us languages, where greetings are sweet-sounding and elaborate with the accompanying Y-ing, two hands in supplication.


 And where we found this dear-to-us family working on closing out eight years of work and life in Chiang Mai. We helped with what we understood. And tried not to be in the way for the rest. Our ignorance was possibly more bliss to us than to them, but they seemed grateful for our help. How could we know in May when the tickets were booked that we would be helping them with this big move? Only because God can orchestrate perfectly did it "happen" this way.
    We landed in Chiang Mai early Sunday morning after twenty-four plus hours of traveling around the globe in airplanes, exhausted and triumphant at the same time. So we went to the morning worship at CMCC with them, as well. It was good to hear Pastor Kiat preach, Dru translating for us.
These two were friends immediately. Lisl and Dru had kept us so near in their hearts thus in the minds of the children, there was no strangeness whatsoever to overcome. Our away from home children are good at this. Thank you, all of you.

 Grandpa helped with the trimming and tucking in of the small yard in front. Jube was slightly scandalized when the little vegetable garden had to be dismantled, but he soon recovered. They emptied the pots and stacked them in a pyramid beside the fence for the next tenant to enjoy.

Elv and I fell in love with their beautiful little house. Cool marble floors in white, tile porches front and back, and pretty windows and roof lines, and a tiled carport. So cute and cool and cozy. With AC!


 The pile of shoes at every entrance was mute instruction to follow suit. It felt odd to go barefoot to church. I hadn't since I was five years old, I think. But the wisdom of it was obvious. It was much cleaner and cooler that way.
The porches were dryers as well as the shoe place. Every day another two loads of laundry could be easily dried in the hot sun on the convenient racks. I enjoyed hanging the laundry out, listening to the ridiculous magpies.



 When the afternoon was just too warm for working or playing outside, there was plenty to do indoors.
   The ever present legos. What is it about those bizillion of small parts and pieces?  All children have them. All mothers despair of tidy living rooms because of them. Have you ever stepped on one of those guys? Yet, we all keep doing them. The children gravitate to them first, all ages and both genders. Dad's, too. Lisl has at least learned to defend herself this much; to make them play on a blanket. Go figure.  
 Lisl is a creative, artistic home maker. So not only was the house lovely in the first place; she knew how to add her own touch to make it home.
On another day we made pumpkin cheesecake which we enjoyed with our iced coffee and coloring. So we didn't work the whole time we were there. We were treated like royalty and had time to visit for hours and enjoy the children and get plenty of naps to move beyond jet lag. And eat cheesecake and always another round of freshly pressed iced coffee as if nobody was moving to the other side of the globe in ten days at all.
We actually left the wall hanging pretties in place until almost the last day. It was easier that way, anyway.
One day the children took me down to the park. In their walled mooban it was safe to let them go alone, but I wanted to see the places they knew.




The Lattin residence in Thailand. I have a picture of the whole house, a better perspective, but I think it's on my phone camera.
The Park




 Most days the ice cream truck came by singing the news that ice cream was available. I was a tiny bit disappointed that we didn't get any while we were there. I got this picture of it by carefully pointing my camera through the shade so as to not give the signal that we were asking him to stop.
We were happy to meet the IGO folks that have been part of Dru's church family and social community besides their work with the Thai folks. They came one evening to give Dru's a farewell and the following Sunday we went to church at IGO, as well. It is so encouraging to find the familiarity of home in a strange land.
And the last evening for whatever reason I ended up waiting for the rest of the family babysitting Rian and Rennie in the empty, clean, and quiet lounge beside the IGO dining room. Someone had put fresh flowers on the tables and the floor was shining clean and cool underfoot. There was peace and comfort waiting there, as if I had known this place and these folks all of my life. Thank you, IGO people for sharing with us and for blessing Dru's with your love and care.
 Possibly the best part of our trip was getting a proper introduction to Asia through Dru and Lisl. We said we didn't need touristy stuff but we ended up at Market anyway, where Lisl knew her way around in that amazing, convoluted, maze of uneven sidewalks, haphazard roof lines, stacks of wares, narrow crooked aisles and streets and so many people everywhere. She knew exactly where to find a tiny restaurant in the midst of the the hubbub at the top of an old wooden stairway. I felt like we'd discovered this secret room suspended among the rafters with only tapestries for walls. Yet they brought real food and iced coffee to us from the makeshift looking galley kitchen on the edge of our little oasis.
   The last day in Thailand, while Dru finished up last minute errands, Lisl took the rest of us up to the elephant camp. I suppose this will be one of the highlights of our trip. We almost didn't go, since Dru couldn't, but they had promised Havilah a ride with Grandpa on the elephant before leaving the country and so we did. 









 On our way to "America" at the Bangkok airport was Jube's first introduction to a vending machine. At 2:30 in the morning with nothing to do but wait, Dru handed Jube a few coins and told him to go figure out how it works.  I enjoyed Jube's delight at this privilege. He took his time, read the directions, studied it out, and then relished the soda, albeit shared.
Would we go to Thailand again? We would love to see Dru's next place of mission work in southern Thailand, although the memory of fourteen hours in the same airplane provides plenty of pause. It's long flight at the end of which you have lost track of what time it is as well as what day  it is.  And it takes several days to figure it out, again.
For now, the memories are sufficient and so is our little, stone house in America.