Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Scribblings

 It is cold and rainy outside. The canning canopy is abandoned and damp. The jars of venison hamburger sit sealed in the canner on the gas stove, left to bring in later. We hope to make applesauce one of these days, but I'm waiting until we get a golden, sunny day. 
   September is here. We finally have some fall color, but not all that we will get. It's late for our leaf show, I suppose, because of all that rain. 
   In Wisconsin, the thing to do is to have weather happening that only a few old folks can remember the likes of before. Weather is a big deal here. So we're all set with small talk peppered with complaints or amazement depending on attitude.
 I've been hearing that we're going to have a hard winter, too. So there's that to conjecture about now. I'm interested in what a hard winter really is, aren't you?  I've lived here all my life and the hardest thing about winter is what happens to the cars and water pipes when it gets forty below and stays there for several weeks. Now that's something to complain about, I guess. I've noticed though that we don't need radical weather to get complaints. It probably hasn't much to do with the weather outside, and more to do with what's inside our own heads. Complaining is only an attitude and easily indispensable. So let's worship instead. 
 
During our visit with Herb and Susan on Sunday while we were at the cabin, the kitties kept us entertained. I love watching this man play with kittens. There's something rather pleasant about seeing a strong man enjoy something this helpless and little.

I made this little wall collage because it was time for an update of the family. And it was fun to create. I took advantage of the discount I get from work and bought the two rustic shelves and varnished them for this project. They are not expensive in the first place and if you need some, we still have them.
The pictures are edited to the same coloring so that they would be compatible as a grouping. Then I found the cheapest of framing, all black in different sizes and shapes to frame them. I shopped my own home, which is a great concept, by the way, for the lighted canvas, the wall word and the greenery. The lantern really works and is a gift from Amy to her dad and soon got taken away to the cabin for use. But I shopped MyOwnHome again and found a black tin candle holder that sits in there perfectly. 




Elv and I spent last weekend at the cabin for my birthday and our anniversary. We had two perfect days.We worked up a bit of firewood  and took a hike through the woods to the top of Buck Mt. for our exercise. Enjoyed small warming fires in the stove with our morning coffee. Ate pumpkin cheesecake and read books. We also rearranged the room, again, to suit our tastes better. That was a problem we had left unsolved last time we were there. Very satisfactory end to that story, right there.
The two baby maple trees behind the cabin can now be seen from inside since Elv cleared away the spruce brush for that purpose. I'm very excited about those two trees. They're soft maple so they're brightly clad in fall colors just now. In my mind's eye I see them in twenty years, tall and spreading out over the cabin making the light golden and mellow every fall.

This is Gwen's pretty coloring. She said it was done in sunset colors. I agree. It's also fall colors and so it suits the season. And it suits my soul, too. Thank you, Gwen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Treasures In Heaven

We are studying the Sermon on the Mount for Sunday School. It's been interesting to restudy and to hear again Jesus' approach to relating with God and people.
Sometimes I want to stand on my chair and wave my arms around and shout to everyone, "This is not about works and legalities! This is Jesus speaking, folks, and He's saying how The Kingdom works inside of you!"
But then I have to stop and think that maybe I'm the only one finally getting smart and seeing it better this time. Perhaps the rest of you know all of this already. Good for you! 
       I've been noticing for several years that prayer is more the relationship/dialogue between the Father and me inside where the thinking and feelings happen than about organized prayer lists. Inside my heart and mind the faintest longings and motives are met more than half way by a loving, sovereign God taking care of everything even before we really know our need. It is so much more than kneeling by the bed at night, though that still seems needful and restful.
      "Sometimes the situation has gotten so bad that the only thing I have left is prayer!" Isn't that about the stupidest thing that has ever been said?! And I've said that! As if I had anything else worthy in the first place or that I even wanted anything else. And I also realize in those times that He is patient and kind.
     When we studied fasting I hit the same wall that I always do. I'm not impressed with the usual fasting teaching fare that gets passed out as the possible interpretation of this scripture. It is like someone totally unrelated to the family trying to describe what the Graber's do for their family devotions without ever having been in on it and then instructing everyone that perceived pattern as the way to do family devotions, promising clear thinking and a more healthful lifestyle. Sometimes I think Jesus must shake His head at our poor, funny ways of trying to "live out" the sermon on the mount under our own legal steam.
   So what do I "believe" about fasting? Frankly, I don't think Jesus was trying to teach the supposed mechanics of fasting in that scripture. I think He was trying to get rid of the whole obvious exercise of the Pharisee's tradition of fasting out loud, so to speak. I think Jesus assumed we would discover fasting through a relationship with the Father because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to not abuse it with a lot of showy stuff.
     Sure enough, when I got to the treasures in heaven verse there were more discoveries. You get a few clues, which are these. Treasures in heaven can't be stolen. Treasures in heaven won't rust. They won't rot. They need no guarding. They are lay-up-able. And they are accumulative. And they'll grab your heart and keep it.
    I knew Jesus hadn't really changed the subject when he shifted from Treasure to God and mammon. It was enlightening to think about what treasures in heaven were not, from the new angle. Not money. And not things. As in, not earthly wealth kept to ourselves and not earthly possessions valued only as such.
 
                                      Treasures In Heaven
~ Relationships. People. That's why God puts such a premium on one anothering.
~ Our faith.
~ Salvation of our souls.
~ Our children's souls, too.
~ Kindness
~ Joy
~ Gratitude
~Forgiveness
~ Worship
~ Our tears. He keeps those in a bottle, says The Poet.
~ The prayers of the saints. Those are heaven's potpourri/incense in golden bowls. Revelation 5:8
~ Helping the poor.
~ etc, ad infinitum

It is just as impossible to create a comprehensive list of Treasures in Heaven as it is to corral a concise description of heaven itself. But then consider the Creator and King of all Heaven. Hallelujah!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chicken Little


     Last summer the sky fell in. I was the perfect embodiment of Chicken Little and the proverbial acorn that hit my head was so hard that I was convinced of it. Panic ensued and fear ruled. I did a lot of praying and running. There were no Henny Pennys or Turkey Lurkeys around, though, to run with me. I guess I wasn't as good at telling my stories as was Chicken Little. Besides, I hate doing embarrassing things like tell someone or get help or cry in public. So I did most of my Little Chicken-ing in private, at home, with my poor family who had to hold my hand and hand me clenexes.
    Everyone told me that I was wrong about the sky falling in and that it wasn't real after all. In the end I had to walk with the brazen sky overhead and resist the urge to run. I could make myself not panic because underneath my wreckage the fundamental truths that I had been taught to trust, held. So I chose to believe what I knew to be true in my head, though my heart screamed, "Run, run run!"  I suppose that was faith. Chicken heart-ed faith. But, the mountain did move over, eventually.
   Afterward, there were actually a few acorns rolling around on the ground that had fallen and I was able to point them out as the pieces of sky that had bothered me. That comforted me in some ways because even though I had overrated the situations and some of it wasn't real, still, the acorns were there and they had fallen so I wasn't exactly shooting blanks, as they say.
     I learned a few things through this experience of hyperthyroidism. I learned that illness can provide a bad case of me-ism. And me-ism ramps up the issues of illness on a scale of one to ten from a do-able four to a panicky nine. And that is not necessary. If I had actually gone into a thyroid storm and died, I would have simply gone to be with Jesus. So what's so bad? That kind of reasoning kept me at a more responsible four until the professionals could help me with a practical solution like radioactive iodine.
   I also learned that everyone else has a piece of the sky on his head, as well. Some folks carry it around "patiently" waiting for a hero party about it. I did some of that, I think. Most sane people roll up their sleeves and tackle life's journey using the cross to build bridges and crucify self and smile. I like to think I'm learning to that better.
    And I also learned that what is scary to me, is scary to me. I can discipline myself to resist running but it is still scary and I have to do what it takes to overcome. Having others tell me it wasn't scary was not helpful. So now I know that what is scary to you, is scary! for real! to you! And I must learn to help scared people in kind and comforting ways until they've passed through that part of the trail. I don't have to establish the fear, but mocking it isn't helpful. Comfort and empathy is much more productive. I think I might know more about holding hands and handing clenexes than I did before.
    Now I pray that I can be alert and comforting to the other Chicken Littles I meet. It's scary how many we miss when we get to feeling too cocky locky about life.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Morning Glory

    Morning Glory flowers remind me of Mom's trellis back home, long ago. The trellis guarding the doorway high and wide,  was covered deeply with vines that produced masses of blue on summer mornings. This is a sharp memory for me, clearly standing out on the busy backdrop of full flowerbeds, sweeping lawns, and well kept farm buildings in my memories.
    Every spring when I plant those small lumpy rock-like seeds; I see Mom's doorway blooming full of blue blooms in my minds eye. Now it is September and finally I have a few blooms. I wonder how she got them to bloom earlier? Perhaps they reseeded themselves and in the southern exposure they sprang to life in April with the crocus. Who knows!
    Or is this only a trick of memory gone rogue giving me a false hope?
     At any rate, this blue is real and amazing. I try to memorize the fragile color pointing my camera this way and that to catch it just right against the white trellis or the blue sky above.
     I stand stock still by the orange cosmos and wait for the bees to settle again to try to get close-up pictures of their delicate grasping forelegs and furriness. The flowers dance at every level on long, seemingly invisible stems over my head and almost at my feet. You simply cannot capture the intricate beauty of them with a camera.

   Suddenly summer and the rush of work is over. I actually have time and peace to wander along the full rows of zinnia. There's time to gather seeds and cut bouquets.  There's no hurry, I can stay another half hour and watch bees and pull weeds, or not, as I wish. This is the time for which I planted the garden last spring. Now it's here, am I going to live in these moments, fully, as I ought?
   Where did I gather the notion that every moment not spent in service or sharing with others is not worthwhile? Why am I driven to be doing something "productive"? Who says just standing and watching bees is wasted time? Why not gaze at the exotic, brilliant colors of zinnia? Why not worship the Creator a little longer today in the garden? What better place to Be Still?
   
  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why I Like Blogging ... And A Progress Report

If you scrolled down to see the bottom line quickly and gave up finding it because this is so long and now you are rolling your eyes. Go ahead and leave this page. Yes, it's long and a mess. It's for our record. You're welcome to stick around, too.

First, here's one reason I like to blog. I get to talk. I get to say what is burning to be said. I probably repeat myself in a million different ways after seven years of blogging/saying what I feel needs to be said. I try not to do that, but I'll quickly admit the pool of news and observations is probably not that large. I try to read and learn and get good experience to broaden my horizons even so. Yeah, all that!
    Now, let's get these parallel projects out here where we won't forget how it was, ten years from now.
   These pictures are of our cabin project. The cabin came into the family with insulation and studs showing on the inside, Tyvek on the outside.


 They covered it in plastic so it hasn't fallen out in our five years of ownership. But we're really, really tired of looking at that wall.
   Those Minnesota black flies come in every fall when it gets chilly. Most of them drunkenly buzz and crawl around on the windows and walls where the sunshine is at the moment. We try to coral them on sticky traps. We get some of them. Some of them get trapped behind the plastic and come to life as soon as the stove warms up during a winter weekend visit.

 So this past weekend we moved the one small wall left as a partition in our open plan cabin from one place to another. Now we have a definite little eight by eight entry and a place to hang a shelf and hooks for coats and do-dads. We can park a bench under the shelf. There's room for a black board and the desk on the other wall by the door. We hung the snowshoes on the new stud wall for pretty for now.
   Of course, this is exciting. Well, anyway it is for us. You can take it or leave it as you wish.
   The next couple of pictures happened after we had cleaned up and put our tools away and Lance's had packed out to go home.

 We went out for a late lunch with Lance's before returning to the cabin. We ate at the Northern Lights Restaurant on the shore. Contrary to appearances on the one picture, this is not a tavern, nor yet a local pub. I suppose they sell drinks there, but so does Perkins if you didn't know it, and none of us noticed the sign over our heads. We were far too busy enjoying the lake breezes through that screen and the flowers and scenery of Lake Superior.
   Our waitress looked for all the world like my old Great Aunties on the Skrivseth side and was of a  motherly sort to boot.


 Now there's a good looking kiddo. We love having him back. He was having a quick re-read of The Black Stallion. Tell me, what's better than a familiar book to read on vacation? I read Wild Orchards for the third or fourth time while we were there.
  On the other side of the re-positioned wall is the cabin kitchen, as you'll see on the next picture.
   I was all geared to spend part of my vacation hanging sheet rock. Bought myself a brand new utility knife and plenty of blades and watched a utube to see how it was done. On the utube a lady at least my age made it look like child's play so I was pretty excited about finally getting some real walls up over that horrid plastic.
   I couldn't even lift one end of those sheets of sheetrock. At least not to do anything with it. I could have cried. Elv felt sorry for me. And so did Lance and Brad because they took over for me. None of us knew what we were doing but we tried and four sheets of that enigmatic, maddening, ridiculous stuff got nailed up!
   The result is lovely and wonderful and the stuff of dreams come true.  Well okay, it's just a kitchen; but some of us know what I mean and that's all that matters. I looked upstairs and there are eight more sheets left and that's all we need to finish the kitchen and dining part of things. It won't be Elv and I hanging it. Just saying.



 Those two windows will go where the other two maverick windows are. When the nice, big windows are in we shall have a view while we sup.

The next picture brings up the other project that we're working these days. This is a Pinterest color inspiration page for our new basement bedroom.
  At present we are getting ready to insulate. I did the price comparisons between Menards in Rice Lake and Stone Lake Lumber ten miles away and we won't save a dime going to Rice Lake. Thank you, Stone Lake Lumber for your good pricing. It saves us in more than one way.



     In all it's hideousness and mildewy-ness and icky-ness. Let me say to you, dear reader, that it takes a certain strength of mind and sinew to work with what you see above to get something close to what you see in the next two pictures. But Elv is doing it, tiny bit by tiny bit. Hopefully by Thanksgiving time I can make a progress post that looks something akin to my two inspiration pictures.
   On the damp rough stones will be sprayed a layer of closed cell foam from a kit that costs a zillion and a half, but the plan is to have moisture proof insulation and no mildew smell on our clothing ever again, ever! 
   We are paying as we go which is a large part of how long it has taken and we're doing it ourselves, which is the rest of the story.
    Press on. The reward is ahead. Hope is our strength.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Home Things

 Home is the place the family lands at the end of the day. It's our safe place. It's where we rest and rejuvenate. 
Home is where the family belongs without question. We can always come back home or go back home. 
Home is where the family lives. We tell each other about our day at work. We laugh about the things that are funny to us, together. We understand each others' opinions. We help each other to decompress when the day was hard to do. We solve with each other. 
  Happiness at home is a choice just as keeping a clean, orderly home is a choice. None of these things happen by default. Everyone has to work on both to make it happen. 


  Our table just now is sporting this beautiful runner that Lisl made and sent to us from Thailand. She painted the birds and attached the lace to a long piece of lovely linen. I am treasuring this by using it. The birds Salt and Pepper shaker set is from Francis and I am pretty sure it was Francis who made the buttons, too. 
  The pitcher is Amy's find from our favorite used shop in Seward, I think. 
   Home is the best place to create beauty and share it, too.


Lisl, I have been thinking hard about your problem of wondering how to feel at home while you live on two sides of the globe by turns. Here's a messy list of thoughts to ponder.

~ The Stonehouse is home in some way or other to our whole family. You each have invested in this place by belonging and living here and by enjoying our family together here for parts of thirty years. 
~ I would love to be able to say that home will always be here, but that would be false. Home is here only as long as WE are here. It's possible that in one generation, this home will only be a memory. In another, just lore. We have no continuing city.
~ But we seek one to come. And we transfer our home feelings to heaven as we get older. It seems far away and unreal but that will change, I promise.
~ Keep a few treasures to grace each and every house you live in like Laura Ingall's mother did. We all need a china shepherdess, after all. It provides for an on-the-spot piece of the familiar when we need it in a strange land. 
~ With communications as they are, the whole globe is home, in a sense. Besides, where can we flee from His presence? And there is prayer with which to touch each other no matter how far apart we are geographically. 
~ I can't wait to bless you and yours in your Thailand home as you have blessed us in our stateside homes. It's all just preparation for the mansions in the end. This effort to beautify our surroundings is worship and hope of the Home above. Let's give it our best.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Comfort One Another With These Words

 How often do you hear someone express doubts or fears or tears? The need for comfort is real. And it is a need that should be met. Especially in others. But I've been noticing that it is far easier to know when I need comfort than to sense when someone else needs a little cosseting.Why?
    It's the most aggravating cycle. When I need a few warm fuzzies is exactly the moment when I have the hardest time providing it for someone else. And when someone in my family is the hardest to love, they're suffering a little Affirmation Deficit Disorder themselves. It's hard to love a sour person.
    This morning at four I received a little comfort from the Comforter Himself. Paul said, "Comfort one another with these words." I haven't even gone over to the verse to see what those words are, yet. But I'm confident that they're good words full of affirmation and hope.
    So today, let me not miss my cues.
~ Let me bless today. Someone's sourness is a cue.
~ Let me learn how to say, "Good job." And mean it.
~ Let me trust today. Let it be the kind of trust that begets trust.
~ Let me learn to pry my mouth open and say the yeses that need to be said that gives others the hope they're needing.
~ Let me LIVE the yeses that turns the lights on and warms the rooms of other hearts, too.