30 June 2013

Flowers at the Beach

Yesterday, we went to the beach.  We did that today, too.  I'll show you more of the beach later, but for now, enjoy these little friends who greeted us at the top of the path.

27 June 2013

How to Write a Love Letter

1.  Begin with Beautiful Paper.  There's something about beautiful paper that says you cared enough about saying lovely things to your sweetheart to purchase something more than plain notebook paper.  Beautiful paper says, I thought about you before I went to the store.  Then I thought about you while I was choosing this paper.  I thought about you while I stood in line, and when the clerk commented on my stationery I told her I wanted it for someone special.  I carried it home, and in a quiet moment, I wrote to you what was in my heart.

HOWEVER.  I realize the above paragraph may appeal far more to my female readers.  And I think I may safely say that while we would delight in the process of purchasing and using beautiful paper, a thoughtful love letter FROM our man would be treasured on any paper.  Yet...if he chose delightful stationery?  (as my husband has done on multiple occasions)  I think we ladies would feel especially treasured.

About the paper, though.  If you're a lady, you may be wondering whether the paper should be feminine or masculine.  Well, it could be either.  Feminine paper that you especially like will remind him of you.  Masculine paper that reminds you of him (maybe a fish theme for a fisherman, or botanical illustrations for a gardener, for example) has a way of saying, "I didn't just pull this out of my stash of paper I use to write to my girlfriend from England."

If you can't find paper you like at the usual places (Michael's, Target, Halmark, Walmart, Shopko), search for stationery on Amazon.  As usual, they'll have a lot of options.

2.  Choose Delightful Stamps, and Buy them Ahead of Time.  Expressions of love should be sent right away, to be enjoyed by your sweetheart as soon as possible.  Don't delay simply because you don't have a stamp in the house, or because you can't make it to the post office right away.  Slip the stamp on the envelope, and put the letter in the outgoing mail as soon as you've written the letter.  Forever stamps are great not only because they don't go out of date, but also because they tell your sweetheart you'll be together forever.  (I know.  That's sappy.  But we ARE talking about love letters, you know.)

Of course, if you're simply writing to a spouse, you can just leave the letter on the pillow where they'll see it at bedtime.  Even for married couples, however, there may be times to mail a letter to your spouse:  when you know he or she will be visiting relatives without you, when you have to travel for work and you can mail a letter home, or just for fun when you can send a letter to your spouse's office as a surprise. 

3.  Use a Good Pen.  Don't get stuck using a pen that's running out of ink.  Or a pen you hate.  If you like blue ball point, make sure you use that.  If you like gel pens, use those.  If you like the really liquidy inky kinds, use those.  Have a supply on hand.  A good pen doesn't have to be an expensive pen, but you don't want your thoughts to get interrupted merely because your pen isn't writing the way you like it to.  I'm serious.  It can (and does) happen.

4.  Slow your hand enough to write your best script.  Just in case you're wondering, there's still a place in the world for cursive handwriting.  Truly there is.  If yours is terrible, practice before you write the real letter.  Or if you have a carefully crafted print with personality, use that.  Whatever is your best, whatever is you, whatever is special.  Even if it's a little rusty or messy.  (Although it's nice when you make an extra effort to be readable, of course, because you wouldn't want the words "I love you" to be indecipherable.)  When you try to add a special touch of some kind, such as writing in cursive when you normally don't, your sweetheart will notice.

5.  Be Specific, Be Authentic.  I vividly recall sitting in my undergraduate music history class studying love songs from a few hundred years ago.  The poetry was beautiful, moving, creative, romantic.  Our energetic teacher called our attention to a particular verse, shouted over the music playing not so much in the background, and said something to this effect:  "Guys, take notice!  This is how you should talk to a lady!  Right girls?  What lady's heart wouldn't be won with words like this?  Am I right?"

Well, he looked at the wrong girl for an answer.  I was too practical for such questions.  I squirmed in my seat, and blurted out with an honest measure of skepticism in my tone, "I don't know!"

And I stand by my answer to this day.  I love a good poem, but I wouldn't love good poetry from a man who had no integrity, or who just said nice things to sweep me off my feet and then didn't treat me well in real life.  I wouldn't love the most romantic verses or the sweetest harmonies if all they were was an exercise in creative writing.  The problem with those old love songs in class was that they could have been written about or to anyone.

I love getting love letters from my husband, because he always writes things that are true, and he always writes things that are specific to me (and me only).

When he writes that he would never want to be married to anyone else, I love that because I know that's what's really in his heart.  When he writes that I'm beautiful, I know he means it because he treats me like I'm beautiful (and doesn't cheapen his talk by looking at any other women).  When he writes that he loves to be with me, he backs up his words by actually spending time with me.  When he writes about how much he appreciated something I did that day (paying bills, doing dishes, making a meal, running errands, whatever), I feel truly and authentically appreciated because he notices when I do things to feed our life and relationship.

So the point?

Say things your sweetheart knows you really mean, and don't go live your life in a way that contradicts those things or makes him or her feel like your words are cheap.  Freely say those things about beauty and how much you love the feel of his hand in yours and all that, yes (although be careful with the physical attributes if you're not married yet).  But don't be afraid the apparently mundane things will ruin the poetry.  Sometimes the real-life things, the specific memories, are the things that make the letter the sweetest.  Those are the things that say, This letter couldn't have been written to anyone but me.

26 June 2013

Today's Playlist

 I harvested mint from my parents' yard today, some to dry, and some leftover to figure out what to do with fresh.  Maybe some Indian chutney?  Maybe some minty summer (non-alcoholic) drink to offer my parents when they arrive home from their anniversary trip this evening?

When I first arrived here this summer, my dad showed me the beautiful patch of mint growing, and reminded me that I had given him a couple of shoots with their root ball when they moved here.  It was somehow delightful and comforting to have the "offspring" of my own plant from Washington state when I had just come from Virginia.  It made me feel more like I have roots right now, during this transition time of life.

While I plucked leaves for the dehydrator, it dawned on me that I again have access to the wonderful recordings on YouTube.  It has been quite some time since I had internet at home, thought I, so that I could do serious listening from the kitchen.

Then like lightning it struck me:  One year ago today, I took comprehensive exams for my master's degree.  What a day it was!  Six hours of essays and theory problems to solve.  I love solving theory problems, to tell you the truth, so it was not a loathsome six hours.  Just very intense.  All at once.  My hand felt weary from writing at the end of the day.  I visited the grocery store directly afterward, and added up my purchases in mod twelve.  Exactly like I would if I was analyzing a twelve-tone row, or a pitch class set.  

So today, I'm listening to favorite pieces from the repertoire.  Pieces I've studied in depth, pieces I grew to love the more as I studied them the more.  Some, I'm listening to more than once.  Since I have to get right back to my mint leaves, then my lunch, and then the strawberry patch, I won't write about each piece.  But you'll write and tell me if there's more you want to know about any of them, right?  I hope you love them as much as I do!
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Vienna Philharmonic, 1973


 Mendelssohn "Reformation" Symphony
Conducted by Leonard Bernstein (hence his photo above)

Charles Ives Symphony No 2
This video also has the particular delight of an explanation of the symphony and introduction to Charles Ives himself by Leonard Bernstein, which is incredibly worth listening to.  Then once that's finished, listening to Symphony No. 3 ("The Camp Meeting"), my favorite, is also a wonderful use of your time.


24 June 2013

Visiting Jefferson's Monticello

After visiting Washington's Mount Vernon, I was especially eager to visit Jefferson's Monticello.  I had picked up a copy of this book at my local library, delighted in the garden photos, and desired to see the grounds in person.  And this book, which I also picked up from my local library (a small but wonderful little building), mentioned heirloom varieties that Jefferson had planted in his garden even while he was in the presidency.

So when we found out we would be moving this summer, and that our route away from home would go within half an hour, the dear husband and I decided it would be a great three-year anniversary treat to buy the tickets and relax a little before we drove three thousand miles.  While the tickets were even more expensive than the ones to Washington's Mount Vernon, we felt they were completely worth it (and our happy marriage was worthy of the price!):  the area was beautiful, and you can join several guided tours as well as meander the grounds and gardens on your own.

My photos today are not in any particular order.  (Click to enlarge them, if you wish.)

I had the most wonderful time seeing all the different ways a person could make a trellis for climbing plants.  Above, you see just sticks stuck in the ground at angles.  The two rows lean toward the center, making a triangular tunnel.  I don't recall what was to grow there, but the different kinds of stick trellises gave the garden a natural look.

The garden is almost at the top of the hill.  (The house is at the very top.)  Looking down here, you can see the vineyard and orchard, and the valley with all its green splendor sprawling out below.  At various points along the garden (which you may recall from seeing photos is quite long and narrow relative to its length), volunteer master gardeners were stationed to answer questions about the plants, the garden, the plans Jefferson implemented here.  From one of these master gardeners, I learned that Jefferson did indeed have the crops rotated from year to year throughout the garden (except, of course, for the perennials such as some of the woody herbs that generally stayed in their places).

Each row in the garden is marked well with a little stake, showing the name of the plants as well as the year of the first recorded propagation of that variety.  It was fun to see some that had been cultivated, the seeds saved and replanted from generation to generation, since 1794.

Here is the back of the house.  There is a large lawn here, surrounded by a walkway bordered with flowers.  As at Mount Vernon, no photography is allowed inside the house during the house tours.  However, I highly recommend taking the house tour, both at Monticello and Mount Vernon.  I was struck by the vast difference between the houses.  Jefferson's fascination with education (think Enlightenment philosophy) was evident from the entry way, where there were educational items laid out as if in a miniature museum, and throughout the rest of the house.  

My favorite technological innovation was a machine he used when writing letters, of which he wrote many.  The pen with which he wrote was attached to a sort of pulley system that had another pen at the other end.  As he moved the one pen, the second pen simultaneously followed every motion he made with the first pen, creating an exact copy on the spot.

Sometimes I feel like I need one of those.  Yes, I still write some letters by hand.

A beautiful creature, no?

Another example of some stick "trellises".

Very old Nasturtiums!  This variety has been around longer than the Declaration of Independence!

Another view of the garden and its path.  Here again, my visit was not long enough to give proper time to ponder the issue of slavery at Monticello (not that time could ever help me understand it, or comprehend how the same pen could write about all men being created equal as well as record the purchase of a human being), but the thought of how much labor it must have taken to maintain this garden crossed my mind many, many times as I wandered through it. 

The cicadas (the ones who come out only every seventeen years) were out in force.  They were loud, they were beautiful, they were amazing with their black and orange.  Have you seen one before?

And in case you were wondering?  You can buy heirloom seeds on site or online.  Maybe you'd like to have the Nasturtium variety that has been around longer than our country.

23 June 2013

Visiting Washington's Mount Vernon

We didn't totally know what to expect, but after {maybe} rear-ending someone, waiting for a police officer to come and explain {to the other person} that there would be nothing to do since the {other} car was not damaged, my mom and I headed totally out into the unknown looking for George Washington's house.  {In April.  I know.  I should have told you about it months ago.}

It wasn't long into our tour of his home that we learned we were not merely among a crowd of after-the-fact, first-president enthusiasts.  George and Martha evidently welcomed hundreds of overnight guests each year, many of them random and unplanned for.  Except if you are in the routine of having hundreds of overnight guests each year, you probably plan for them whether you know they're coming or not.  It was hard to imagine such a pre-secret service kind of era, where one could simply show up to a former president's home expecting a meal and perhaps a bed.  More than one tour guide mentioned a letter in which George wrote something like the following, "If no one comes in the next fifteen minutes, something will happen that has not happened in twenty years.  My wife and I will dine alone together."

These covered pathways curved away from the house on, which was really just a box that had been extended a few times.  With fancy things put inside the box.  I thought it was a nice touch to have vines and flowers and archways, with the river in the background.  I did the unthinkable, and left without a photo of their beautiful river view.  But since the river curved around multiple sides of their land, I couldn't think how to properly capture it all in its breathtaking beauty.  I could see exactly why Washington's father put his house just right there next to the river.  It was only later that I learned how to use the panoramic function on my phone.  {Disappointed frown.}

See the greenhouse?  Lots of glass, a beautiful place.  Part of the huge gardens extended in front of it.  I tried not to think of how much work it would have taken to maintain the grounds and gardens of Mount Vernon, simply because we did not arrive for our visit with enough time and space to ponder the sad fact of slavery at our first president's home.  I merely took in the gardens, the plants, the home, the river, leaving that topic to be grappled with another day.

This fruit-growing technique is something I've seen once before, in a magazine, and have kept in the back of my mind to try someday.  Essentially, the fruit trees are pruned in such a way as to remain about shoulder height (at least, shoulder height for me).  These particular trees were pruned so that two sets of branches extended horizontally from the trunk, along the brick wall.  When it's time to harvest the fruit, there are no ladders, no climbing.  Just reaching out to pick the fruit that is ripe right in front of you.  Seems like the way to go!

Here's a view of the way the some of the gardens were set up:  like decorative flower beds, but with herbs and vegetables in the beds.  It felt so artistic and beautiful, yet practical at the same time.  One of my disappointments in the visit was that we got there with only about an hour and a half to enjoy the grounds.  Perhaps someday I'll go back for more!

Above:  the rosemary rows.  They're gigantic.  The employees told me they don't sell the produce.  It's just available for them (the employees) to take home as it ripens.  Don't you think I need a new job??

If you go:  It's not cheap.  Check out tickets, though, because it's worth every penny.  The house, the museum, the different kinds of tours, the grounds.  My mom and I also discovered that because we arrived past 4:00 p.m. (I believe it was), our tickets would have been good through the next day, and had we been close enough to it the next day, we totally would have been back for more.  We both loved it.

Also if you go:  Please go to the gift shops.  I am NOT one who normally wanders the gift shops.  However, in this case, it was again totally worth it.  With my recent fascination with heirloom seeds, I was overjoyed to learn that a person can buy heirloom seeds from George Washington's garden.  Again, I wouldn't say they're cheap.  However, with the potential of letting your plants go to seed and planting those seeds again next year, it doesn't seem like such an expenditure.  AND if you're too far away from Mount Vernon for a visit, you can still order the heirloom seeds online via the link above.

22 June 2013

Nebuchadnezzar and the Fiery Furnace

It has been a long time since I've updated you on my memorizing goals and progress.

So today is the day for a progress report, because it's good for me to evaluate how it's going.   And for something beautiful and difficult and mind boggling I've seen in the Bible, and may not have seen in any way other than through memorizing large chunks at a time and repeating small chunks over and over until I get familiar with the large chunks.

And in the whole package you get the regular and gorgeous Shasta daisy that was growing wild along the road, along with the totally strange and cute two-faced daisy that I didn't notice until I stooped down to take a picture of what I thought was a normal daisy.  It startled me a little.  I had never seen such a thing.  Which is a small reflection of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar at the fiery furnace, but more of that later.

First, the progress report.  I have to honestly say that even though I have all my little goals plotted out on the extra calendar I told you about, I've been behind quite a few times.  Things get crazy, I pack up my house, jump in the car, and end up clear on the other side of the country....and the next thing I know I haven't been memorizing for a week.

The thing that has been totally great about this system, though, is that I am MEASURABLY behind.  Which for someone with my personality bent, is huge.  It means I don't have to beat myself over the head for getting behind.  All I have to do is catch up.  All I have to do is look at my calendar to see how far I'm behind, come up with a reasonable system (not trying to make up for a week's worth of work in one day), and catch up.

I know that may sound strange.  You might think I should just acknowledge that I haven't been perfect, pick up from there, and be happy whenever I do something.  But for me, a measurable goal means something, and it helps me reach my goal if I have a way to catch up.

So.  This system has been the best ever for me.  I love it.  I just finished catching up from a being-behind stint today, and it makes me so happy to know that it hasn't all been time lost, that I'm still reaching for my goal in meaningful ways without giving up or being behind where I feel like I should be.

Now for Nebuchadnezzar.

You know the story of Daniel chapter 2, right?  How the king has a dream that outlines world history to the end of time via an image with different metals (gold, silver, brass, iron, iron-clay mixed)?  And you remember how Daniel 3 opens with Nebuchadnezzar blatantly trying to deny prophetic world history by building an image made entirely of gold?

Yeah.  Bold.  Blatant.  Blasphemous.

Because with that gold image, Nebuchadnezzar snubs his nose at the God of heaven who not only gave the dream and provided the interpretation (through Daniel), but also showed through prophetic vision that His own kingdom would be the everlasting kingdom from generation to generation.  It's  obvious and intentional rebellion against the God he just acknowledged as the only God who could reveal secrets this way.

He invites--nay, commands--all his officials to be present at the dedication of the image.  These officials include the newly promoted Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refuse to participate not only in the worship of a God other than their own, but also in such flagrant blasphemy against Him.

What's surprising is that when they do not worship the image, Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second chance.  In the face of such mercy, however, they boldly declare in front of the king and his closest advisers that it doesn't matter how many chances he gives them.  They will remain faithful come what may.  Furnace or no furnace.  Divine rescue or no divine rescue.

Here's the difficult part.  The furnace is so hot that being close enough to throw in the three Hebrews is enough to kill the mightiest men in the army of Nebuchadnezzar.

Think for a second about how large his dominion really is.  It's big enough that the Bible says Nebuchadnezzar makes a decree for all people, nations, and languages.  His authority essentially covers the earth.

And out of the whole world, he has the best of the best in his army.  But without giving it a second thought, he has just thrown away their lives in a fit of rage.  

Makes a person think about the implications of losing a temper.

The top people in his army are gone, their lives lost in throwing away the lives of three of the four men who came out ten times better "in all matters of wisdom and understanding" than all the wise men in this extremely large kingdom.  (See Daniel 1:19, 20.)

We already know these three of the four wisest get rescued, and have a chance to walk with Jesus in the furnace.  I'm not going to dwell there, partly because Nebuchadnezzar could not have known it would happen that way when he willingly gave the command to murder them and partly because although the story from their angle is bursting with promise and victory, there are other perspectives that leave me in awe.

First, in contrast with the men who bound and tossed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the flames, Nebuchadnezzar, seemingly forgetful of what just happened to his mighty army men, draws near to the flames.  And not only does he draw near, he lives to tell about it.  He's the fourth one spared from the fury of the flames, by nothing less than Divine intervention.

He doesn't deserve it.  He just lost his temper and did his best to throw other people's lives out the window, with partial success.  Yet somehow, the God who "searcheth the reins and hearts" (see Revelation 2:23) sees something in Nebuchadnezzar that's still worth working with.

Because God doesn't look at people like I do.  He looks at the heart.

And it brings up a bit of a question for me.

Why did God spare Nebuchadnezzar, and not the men who simply followed his orders to their own death?  In these moments where God certainly knew how to spare those who were faithful to Him as well as the wicked king who tried to take them out, couldn't He have had room to spare the ones who bound and threw them into the furnace?  Were they really more beyond hope than this apparently pompous, tempestuous king?  After all, Daniel later describes Nebuchadnezzar this way:  "Whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive."  (Daniel 5:19) 

Sounds pretty heartless.  Pretty hopeless.  Yet somehow God looks all the way through the temper tantrum and pride, and sees something He can work with.

Amazing grace.

Yet what about the others?

I don't ask these questions to arouse doubt.  In my heart of hearts, what these questions bring on a great sadness, a grief for those men who lost their lives, but not doubt. 

Maybe it's my personality not to doubt.  (Don't worry.  I have plenty of other flaws.)  With the story of these men, however unnatural it may seem, I am overcome with grief, not doubt. I have no answers.  I don't know why their lives were allowed to end that day.  I'm simply and incredibly sad that they did lose their lives; and I'll just tell you what I do know.

In the Bible, which I have always found to be the word of God to my very own soul, I have found a God who knows everything and everyone.  He knows who is completely hardened against Him and without hope, and who has even the slightest potential of someday hearing His voice.  He knows what would happen with every life, whether spared from tragic death by heat of a furnace or not.  He knows better than anyone else can how temporary the deaths on this earth really are for those who trust Him.

It's not that He always gets His way.  He labored and labored and labored for Judas, for example, only to have Judas turn completely against Him and lose his life in spite of all the Lord's efforts on his behalf.

But he knew those men who picked up His servants and threw them in the fire, inside and out.  He knows whether He will resurrect them to eternal life at His second coming, or not.  He knew whether more life coursing through their veins would be a blessing or a curse to them and those around them.  So while I want to be careful to say that I don't at all believe God would ever take pleasure in the death of any person, I want to also carefully and intentionally say that whatever the questions, I trust Him.  We can trust Him.  With all of it. 

We can trust Him to give amazing grace in the face of our terrible rebellions.

We can trust Him with our living and our dying, as well as that of all those around us.  Even when we and He don't get His way.  He'll sort it all out, and we can trust His judgment.

We can trust Him, even when our questions don't have immediate answers.  Because there's no way we can know all the answers.  That's part of why He's God, and we are not.

20 June 2013

Hiking Tiger Mountain

My mother-in-law knows the best places to go hiking.  Husband and I had never been to Tiger Mountain before, and we were certainly not disappointed.  See Mount Rainier in the background?  (Click to enlarge photo.)  I haven't been happy with the zoom on my phone camera--or I haven't learned to use it with good effect--but I wanted to have one souvenir of the breathtaking view. 

My mother-in-law says these are salmon berry flowers.  I don't recall having ever eaten a salmon berry, but maybe she'll be willing to take me on the same hike later in the summer so I can try one.  What do you think?

At the top of the {very steep} hike was another opening with another breathtaking view.  This time, though, there were hang gliders taking off.  One woman went especially high, while most others floated evenly with the top of the hill and then down.  Twice she caught thermals, and soared with the birds for a long time.  Maybe half an hour or more.  It seemed so dreamy--a much better idea than the free-for-all of sky diving.

I hope you enjoy the crinkle of the salmon berry flowers as much as I do, and the little berry growing after the petals fall to the forest floor.

17 June 2013

How to Prune Basil

I didn't use basil much until my wonderful husband entered my life.  Then I learned what delicious stuff fresh pesto is.  

And then the price of pine 
nuts, central to his recipe (if you call estimated dumping a recipe), sky rocketed.  

But happy was the day when dear friends taught us a new recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of pine nuts.  Fresh pesto was back!

We decided to grow as much basil as we could.  However, the basil grew tall and spindly, not bushy with lots of leaves to make pesto like we desired.  

We needed to learn something, but we didn't know what.

Enter Pinterest.

And this lady, who taught me how to prune basil via her blog which of course I found via Pinterst.  

We tried our first pruning experiment on the mother-in-law basil this evening, and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.  It seems promising, and I will do my best to let you know how it goes.  You'll let me know how it goes for you if you try it, right?

16 June 2013

The Mother-in-Law Garden

This summer, I do not have my own garden.

You may recall from a few posts earlier this spring that I had gigantic plans to the contrary, but those plans came to a screeching halt a few months ago.  Not, however, before the dear husband and I had ordered and started seeds indoors.

As the little herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants sprouted in their toilet paper tubes cut in halves and thirds, watering them became an act of faith for me.  No matter how big the space out back, I knew I would be leaving it by the time I would have set them all out to enjoy a real home in the garden.  So there they were, my three disposable casserole dishes from Costco full of little plants, depending on me to care for them while I wondered where and if they would be planted to bear their fruits.

But more about that next week when I can share photos, because although I wouldn't call my current location one of permanence, the little guys actually do have a delightful home to take root in for the summer.

What I want to show you for today (and maybe more as we wiggle our toes in the dirt together again tomorrow) are some delights from the mother-in-law garden.  Which really is the father-in-law garden, too, of course.  And which I've been given the distinct pleasure of helping in over this weekend.

Just to give you an idea what's here:

* Two kinds of raspberries, one ever-bearing, the other not.  My in-laws have gradually moved them so that the rows run north-south, which gives them morning and afternoon sun on each side of the row.  Brilliant, right?

* Three grape vines.

* A large compost pile.  The pile migrates around the outside corners of the garden each year.

* A giant sage patch.

* Currents of some kind.

* Two long, double rows of dahlias.

* Lots of onions.

*  Potatoes.

*  Beets.

We planted zucchini, sunflowers, black eyed susans, and zinnias yesterday, along with a nice patch of heirloom dill.  I hope they dry some of the dill and send it to me at Christmas.  Good thing my husband's family makes wish lists so I don't have to feel bad for asking.  (Smile)

We have more things to plant tomorrow, and I'll (try to) let you know what we do.

But as a parting thought, I just have to show you the little volunteer surprise we found in a little brick wall.  We harvested the leaves and dried them so this little oregano plant wouldn't go to seed too soon.

Oh, and some of her lillies.  Aren't they pretty?

13 June 2013

Why You Should Start Playing Disc Golf

1.  It's exercise in the open air, at your own pace.
You can run, you can walk, you can skip, you can hop.  All the while, you'll be out in the fresh air.  You'll use your arms, your legs, your feet, and your lungs.
2.  It's humbling.
Maybe the best of the best never hit a tree with a disc, but I'll hit a tree as often as I'll miss.  (And I've hardly seen a coarse from the east to the west that didn't weave and wind through the trees.)  Maybe the best of the best never throw with their might just to see the bright orange go too far to the right, but it happens to me every time.  Hitting trees and missing my mark may be just one more way to remind me I'm a bit short of perfect.
3.  It's good group fun, even when the players are at different skill levels.
Do I know you yet?  Maybe not, very well, and maybe we're both a tad shy, but whether we're new to the game or whether we're not we can meet at the coarse and all have some fun in the sun.  Or rain.  We don't even have to keep track of our scores.  It gives us a focus, a something to do with beginning and end, with pieces of conversation surrounding our play.
4.  If you play with someone better at the game, you just might improve by great strides in one day.
It may feel quite clumsy at hole number one, but with eyes and ears open, by hole number eighteen your disc will fly farther and straighter.  So while all the trees keep you humble, the growth in one game gives a boost to the confidence.  And we all need a boost now and then.
5.  You'll see some beautiful scenery you won't want to miss.
In the course of my time in the game, I've played in four different states.  Not one disc golf course has been ugly.  Over the rivers and through the woods, comin' around the mountain when she comes, and somewhere over the rainbow, the eye always has a pleasant scene before it.  It's worth the play just to see the course.

10 June 2013

Welcome Home {Away from Home}

Everyone needs that place, those places, where even the strawberries are happy to see them.

We arrived today, nealy three thousand miles of road covered safely, all the little garden starts with us and happy. 

And it feels good to be home {away from home}.

06 June 2013


The day before the last day, some children were over.  They had a way about them--a way of finding every possible interesting thing that could be found.  They delighted me with their explorer spirit, and reminded me to look around for beauty, among which was honeysuckle, growing right at the back of my own yard.

Oh, to wander back there, not even close enough to touch it yet, and smell the sweetness wafting on the breeze!  Am I ever glad I didn't miss that!

Thank you.  For reminding me that in the midst of chaos and constant labor, there just may be something beautiful worth stopping for, right under my nose.

02 June 2013

The Mini Truck

These last couple of months have been full of many things, delight being one of the things.

You see, the boarding school where my husband taught this year decided to PAY me to choose and plant flowers around campus, and to weed, water, and prune.  It has been one of the most fun things I could have been doing. 

Today was my last day.  I tried not to be sad, but instead to enjoy the progress "my" flowers have been making, and of course my last chance at driving the mini truck.

I really like driving the mini truck.

It's a stick shift.  It's battered.  I sit on the "wrong" side of the vehicle to drive it.  And it's mini.  It's small.  Which means I can go just about anywhere with it I want to.  Which never really includes a real road, since the only paved surfaces I drive it on are campus roadways and sidewalks.

I drive it through the orchard.  I drive it across the lawn.  I drive it on the side of the hill and bump off the sidewalk and back into the parking lot.  (On purpose.)

But today was goodbye to my flowers and my mini truck. 

I hope the next person who cares for the flowers and drives the little truck loves them just as much as I do.

01 June 2013

Mountain Laurel

The mountain laurel, the newly learned name for the budding bushes we've been watching for weeks, is blooming.  I've never seen anything like it, and I'm just stopping quickly by to document its loveliness for you.