Monday, July 25, 2016

Keeping a Record

I'm keeping a journal in a leather bound book of lined pages. I have been doing this for several years and I enjoy it. It has our own unique collection of facts and "what I think" thoughts written out. Most of it is just the mundane stuff of the unimportant ordinary of us and our lives. You'd be bored. But I keep doing it anyway.
    I dug out the journal of two years ago. Now that one is not boring. I went looking for a happy time that I know that I had with a friend about two years ago. It's not there. I searched and searched. I finally found a few pictures taken that day, here on this blog instead.
   I have concluded that the happy stuff landed here. The boatload of problems and sorrows landed in the hand written journal. That's good. But both are part of our story. So I'll keep all of it. Someone suggested that someday a grandchild might read and learn from that poignant, rich, ugly, taut time in my life.
   So just for today, I'd like to make a list of a few happy things in our lives right now. Because life is full of a kind of pleasant, comfort one feels after a long hard day's work. Oh there's the work and the regular ebb and flow of real life. But at the end of the day it's just good to be able to lay down the load and wash off the sticky sweat and find the cool, smooth sheets of reading and pleasant memories. It's not quite so uphill right now. I think I have caught a glimpse of Rest at last.

~ It's summer. That brief time of green grass and flowers and leaves on the trees. Bugs and campfires and happy, dirty babies.
~ Smells of rain and leaf mold and mowed grass and drying laundry on the line. And fish cleanings. A Saturday cleaned house. The basswood tree full of possibly the sweetest fragrance ever. Sun-soaked, ripening, wild berries.
~ Sounds: Of loons flying overhead morning and evening. The first whoosh of wind and rain of our summer storms lately. The continuous rumble of the thunder. We've had a lot of that this summer.
~ New Vehicles: Brad bought a pickup. His very first vehicle is a pickup after all. After all he said, too. Amy bought a car. This time we saw it in daylight before purchasing. It's old, but nice. After all she said, as well. It's funny what life teaches us about how we don't really know how it's going to turn out. Only God knows. He planned it all along. Makes you wonder at any of our "plannings".
~ Good Jobs: All of our good jobs. Elv logging his logs for the last 35 years or so. It's been a way of life for him. Will he miss it later when he retires? How many million logs? How many machines? how many different land owners? And funny experiences? And those wintertime bogs that never freeze, even in forty below zero weather!
I love the privilege of working with people and for people all day. And the fun of creating vision for homemakers who shop where I work. Amy's job too, is mostly serving. I guess that's what we're made for and where we are the most fulfilled. Only God would know how to throw in life time friends for her, to boot, while serving. And Brad is working far from home, still among family. That's God's gracious kindness, too. Still, I miss him. I hope he comes home soon. (Anybody have a good job for Brad? He is looking for full time work in Hayward, Wisconsin. Preferably, something to do with logging.)
~ Fishing. I really need to go back and try for that lunker that took off with my hook and line and sinker the other evening.
~ Raising flowers.Reminding me of other summers of flower raising: my Mom's yearly sidewalk edgings of red petunia and white alyssum plantings. Eva's long wide rows of marigold and dahlia, Jenny's summer of cut flowers for her winter wedding, and Carolina's rose garden in Mexico.
    It's just been nice for a change to sense the quiet, pleasantness of a summer evening after a well-lived day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This Could Be a Long Posting: Pictures and Pontification

 The furrowing wake of The Tub "loaded for bear", that is, for fishing, with fishermen large and small. That old boat can actually put a small breeze in your face these days. The little people loved it. We swung away from the dock and headed straight for our fishing hole from long ago. As soon as we settled in, it began to pour down rain. We didn't feel skunked. Instead we felt triumphant because we got a small ride and we proved that you can equip and launch four small children and five adults in a very short time.  So the next afternoon when the sun was actually shining we re-enacted the whole thing even faster. We added a boat and three more children and three more adults. We caught fish this time, too. More on that later.

 Our canoe was quite worm and fish and moss and mold infested, so Jenny and Karynn and I gave it a bath one day in the sunshine. Now it is clean and usable again. This is the canoe that we bought new for our camping trip for our 25th anniversary. I am still a little sappy about this boat. We can either paddle it or use the motor. I like that I am very close to the water for fishing or photography. Elv gets nervous when the water is choppy with this canoe, but we've never tipped it and we've been out in it in all kinds of weather. It always brings us home safe and sound. Right now, I'm in the market for a trailer for it, so that we can stop having to heave it on and off the roof of the Jeep and the motor can stay put instead of having to steady the canoe while Elv tries not to fall in or drop the motor in the wrong place with the canoe wobbling from the moving weight of man and motor until it lands in the correct slot. (Nice long run-on there for you.) But wow, that's about the way it is. Try that after dark sometime. It adds to one's repertoire of life's experiences.

 The raspberries have berries! Amazing. Gwen pretty well kept up to them while she was here. We noticed that there are more to pick now.

 And the holly hocks are holly hocking quite nicely now. No rust and lots of pink and maroon. Great drama for my little acre.

 Grandpa Elv and Jimmy enjoying the ride on our way to the fishing hole.

 Fishing for sunnies and bass. There's nothing like a boat load of Graber people arranged in a row up one side of The Tub, and off the ends too, for that matter, with lines cast. Bobbers on green water. Don't think for a minute that all six bobbers are sitting in a quiet silent row bobbing peacefully. We get bites, we get our lines caught in the tree branches (catching a perch), there are hidden dead snags under the surface too, but that's where the best fish are, three bobbers duck out of sight, then the singing of the line coming in with the bobbers darting in all directions and the triumphant catching of a keeper. It's a busy time. Never mind the idea of quiet fishing. Elv has long since debunked the whole theory that you have to be quiet to catch fish; the opposite is true. There's a lot of yelling for more worms when you're sharing two tubs of them with eight different people trying to fish up and down the boat.
    Bass have to be 14 inches long to keep and who has a ruler, anyhow? So we make pretty sure about those before keeping them. They're fun to catch too. I discovered to my sorrow last night that I need new line in my pole. "The big one" made off with everything but the bobber. Makes you feel sick compared to the fun of hauling it in two seconds ago.

 A beautiful little sail boat was out there on the lake, too. It's hard to operate a fishing rod and a camera at the same time, but I keep trying to do it. At least I get the event recorded pretty well. And now and then I get a big fish and a pretty picture on the same event.

 Jenny always lands "the big one". Elv and Gabe look on enviously and proudly at the same time. See how she releases her catch like a pro? Elv eyeballed it for size and they decided that it was borderline enough to release.

Gabe and Jenny decided to spend their summer vacation at our house. What a happy time we had together. They visited around to the others, too, of course, but we got a lot of coffee times, fishing, riding on Grandpa Elv's machine, sewing and visiting, and family times with everyone in.

 Clark's do super on the boat.  The boys had  new poles. By the time Clark got them all strung and ready, he didn't get much fishing in this time, but by next time he will. And when you have effectively four lines out there, one for each child and you and your wife, you ramp up the chances of catching a few by quite a way. It just takes some patience and what my mom calls "stick-to-it-ive-ness".

                                                    Happy little boy faces. Myles and Asher.
                                            Happy big boy faces. Grandpa Elv and Clark.

 Then we played croquet on Sunday afternoon. What a funny blast this family is by now. Most of us hadn't a clue how to play and others of us have to read the directions for ourselves to make sure being poison is "even a thing". The children played next to us in the park after they figured out that we weren't going to share our game with them. And the babies tumbled among and between as they wished until picked up and moved to safer spots at times.

 I love this man with a croquet mallet in his hand and smile on his face. He works hard for us: on the job, in the church, at home, and on his knees.
We decided to share everything almost 34 years ago. And it's been quite a ride: raising seven children, cabin living, and praying together in the morning. Morning coffee, evening walks, patio suppers, outsmarting rodent bears, canoeing, fishing, riding in the machine with him, and talking. And talking. Elv says it takes so much talking to keep me happy! That makes me smile. He defaults to hermit-isms if I let him. So I get him to talk. All that bunk about letting a man have cave time? Not good! It would ALL be cave time. But then, I can talk too much, Anyway, it's part of our story.
What's being threaded into your story? It happens so quickly. There are patterns already in your tapestry. Gotta watch those patterns. I read back one day in the journal and discovered that I wasn't so proud of a couple of the patterns I found there. I needed to change to being more grateful and happy. I needed to give some of those old griping, poor-me attitudes some push-back. Me-ism looks terrible on the tapestry of life.

 These are the same guys that take their jobs and Jesus and family and home seriously. Bill caps and bald heads and faded jeans notwithstanding. Sons. God Bless 'em! I'm proud of them.
We pray for all of our children understanding that the world they'll be raising their families in is even crazier than the one in which we raised ours. They have the same Bible and the same God we did, though, so it's going to be alright. Prayer and diligence and vigilance.
Get after it, guys. We're behind you.

 Chicken fajitas for Sunday supper on the patio. There's a nice line-up of what keeps life ticking in our family these days. Elv and I had forgotten the decibels. The married children assure us that when they're happy noises, it's a fine thing. So we're not debating it. There was mostly happy noises and it was mostly done outside, so it's all good.

 Now that's a clean canoe all ready to putter away from dock. Elv and I and Amy tested it out last night. Now it was too quiet. I can't be pleased. But fishing was really nice. We caught a meal in no time flat including a big-enough bass. The panfish are nice this year, too.

And there's my usual bobber picture.

The only thing I did to this photo was to add the little black hazy border. Otherwise, it's raw and untouched. And the accidental silhouette above makes me feel quite pleased. Wisconsin, Elv's missing fingered hand, the fish, the pole, yes, it's perfect. Memories that are distinctly our own.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Goslings and Children

 We have been going to the cabin for the 4th of July for about five years now. Benny and Asher expect it by now and so do we all. This year the "bugs" weren't too bad yet and the fire flies were just like I remember them from childhood. When Elv and I drove back to the cabin after fireworks on Monday evening we shut off the Jeep lights to see them better. The field along Joshua road was full of their flickering light. It's an amazing sight.

Charlotte and her boys. I've mentioned this before. She is a good mom to them. All the zoom and energy and movement they create are well within her range of understanding and patience. I have noticed this often about families. The children match their parents. God has given parents exactly the kind of people they can love and teach. Of course, it requires effort. Anything important requires effort and wisdom. And what's more important than raising children?

 All the beaches were plugged with people. All the "kid friendly" beaches, that is. Benny and Asher and Elv were pretty frantic to get their feet in the water. But we either had huge rocks dropping off into deep water or we had people. Finally Clark's gave up on us being together on the beach and headed down the shore and eventually found a spot for the boys to play. 
 So this was exactly the scenario that was frustrating to everyone including Benny. No place to really safely play.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

It Matters To Him

 Pink hollyhocks are blooming in the garden. Just in time to show Dot and thank her for these beauties that she gave us a few years ago. Two years ago they rusted badly. It was sickening. So far this year, they're beautiful.

We're in a place of prayer these days. Some of us have vigils to keep for others. I remember Jesus asking the disciples, "What? could ye not watch with me one hour?" Even one hour of waiting for a daughter who is on the other side of the globe laboring to get through it to the other side is long and longer. And it must be walked through! This vigilant prayer on my part.

I am learning something about prayer again lately. Did you know that when it's time to pray about something specific, God tells you about that? If you're listening and available.
I was puttering about house work last night and felt the need to pray for Clark's who were traveling up the cabin right then. I prayed for their safety. Just heart whispers that only God heard. I don't understand why it's important to Him that we pray/intercede in these times. But it is. So we pray. And He moves and protects and guides. Apparently, about the time I was praying, a deer ran into the path of Clark's Jeep and completely totaled it. They were fine. The deer was totaled, too. 
 As moms, we have vigils to keep. Perhaps, the most important part of this is having ears to hear what the Spirit is saying and a promptness in our hearts to stop everything and turn our full attention to an all powerful Father who loves when we ask.


Amy planted an old fashioned rose bush in our garden last summer that she got from Gladys Martin. It grows and blooms and sends out more new shoots and blooms again all summer long. It is a most satisfactory rose bush. We've trained some of it to climb the trellis. It has a sweet, light fragrance. Soon we'll have a whole row of it.

Since that has been so easy and fun, I bought another rose start from Wal-mart this spring. Now that one is blooming too, on the other side of the trellis. Pink again. But the fragrance is spicier. Lovely. It's a statelier rose. Perhaps it require more tender respect than the other. 

     Thinking about our patios this summer of flowers and lights and do-dads, cushions, chairs, and pretties. Aren't they lovely? And it's fun to gather up whoever is around to enjoy a small roasting fire. And hopefully burn enough mosquito repellent candles to make a difference.
    All this beauty and joy to be shared and enjoyed is nice. It's nice because we all need to rest from the dirty and hardness of toil and the grind. It's valuable because it's a temporary privilege in Wisconsin, this sitting outside. Here's my special thought. It's also a glimpse of Heaven.
    Of course, we have no idea how beautiful and restful Heaven will be, we're still sorta grounded for now. We have our ideas of nice and lovely. We enact those ideas. But we can't possibly rob ourselves of Heaven's beauty or joy by somehow getting too much of what we have available to us here now. It's out of this world, better, in Heaven. We're stuck with lights that burn out, batteries that go dead, plants that go dormant, flowers that wilt, mildew to fight, dirt to clean up, dirt to grow flowers, and concrete that crumbles. Yet we work on these temporal things to create a tiny glimpse of the beauty and rest that we crave. God made us this way. Its a way to love our families and our friends by sharing it and maintaining it, however silly and short it is.
And I think husbands and children and grandchildren are happier when we create little spots of Heaven in our homes for them.

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