Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another "Four Sisters" Poem

(Here's another poem I wrote about the same four sisters. This is in a totally different style, about a hat they all like to wear.)

Hat Trick

I like the way that
I look in this hat.
I'm stunning,
Don't you agree?
The trouble is,
Well, gee whiz,
The hat isn't yet for me.

Every Sunday for church
I see Annabelle perch
The hat on her
Flowing brown tresses.
I'd love to wear it to my class
But I'll have to let it pass,
Though it looks better with all my church dresses!

Nancy went in style
To her piano recital,
The little hat
Proudly she wore.
I'd have played better somehow
With the hat on my brow,
But I'll just have to wait some more.

There's to be a birthday bash, you see -
Miranda's wearing the haberdashery.
She'll look regal nibbling her cake.
I could probably win a prize
With the hat above my eyes.
How long will this growing up take?

Serena is my name,
And, well, the day finally came
To wear the cunning little hat
I so adored.
So I'm sitting on my bed
With the hat upon my head -
And I'm bored.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does Housework Make a Home?

I was thinking about housework the other day (cause that's more fun sometimes than doing housework!). I am trying to decide what the proper balance is. I mean, I want to have a neat, clean and tidy home, and that just plain takes work. But honestly, I don't really mind the work. There's something very satisfying about tidying up the house. One of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes, from the Missouri Review article on farm wives, is "Our homes can be as pleasant as we care to make them." That really resonates with me. Just like everything else, how pleasant we make our homes is a choice we make. The problem I have is the sheer amount of things there is to do, so many details, all needing to be done over and over and over again, with no real end in sight. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, which means I am pretty much my own boss. Sometimes I'm a slave driver! I tend to think of absolutely everything that could ever be done and think I must do it all at once. Sometimes, no matter what I'm doing I feel guilty, because I think of something else I should probably be doing more. Or no matter what I accomplish, it doesn't seem like enough because of all the things I have yet to accomplish. That's no way to live. My husband has been slowly teaching me a better way (well, he doesn't teach slow, but sometimes I'm a slow learner). I still have one of my monster "To-Do" lists that I left laying around one busy, busy day. When I went back to find it later, I saw that my husband had penciled in "**TAKE A NAP**!" right in the middle of it! It made me laugh, and I kept it to remind myself that sometimes I can get so busy doing things FOR my family that I have no time to spend WITH my family! Now that my kids are grown I can honestly say that when they reminisce, they never mention how super clean and neat the house was. Instead their fond memories are of things their father and I did with them - not for them.

So I am trying to find the balance. After all, as someone has said, "We are human beings, not human doings." And as the Bible says, whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. So I have decided to give myself permission to do just that. When I am washing dishes, I try to enjoy the feel of the warm water and the time to daydream or sing. When I am visiting with a friend, family member or neighbor, I try to concentrate on the conversation, not the undone work. If I am reading, I try to relax and take it in. If cleaning the bathroom, I think of how pleasant the bathroom will be when I am done. My home can be as pleasant as I care to make it. Part of what will make it pleasant is the little joys and freedoms I partake of, and part is the work I put in to cleaning and caring for it. I believe enjoying each equally is the balance I have been seeking.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ten Thousand Villages Part II

Took another trip to He, She and Me and used my gift cards for a Ten Thousand Villages purchase. As you can see above, it is a bud vase, made of polished onyx. It is so pretty! There were also apples and pears in onyx, smaller in size (the size of a real, small apple or pear). There were a million things I wanted - I'll definitely be going back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ten Thousand Villages

I went to a little shop locally called "He, She and Me." It is a delightful shop, part customized clothing, part coffee shop and part showroom for craftsmanship from all over the world. A great deal of the very artful displays consists of merchandise from Ten Thousand Villages. This is a way for true craftsman from every corner of the world to sell their art for fair market value. The variety and beauty of the items is truly amazing. The craftsmanship is impressive. And the prices are very reasonable. With each item comes a Romance Card, telling a little about how the item is made. There is jewelry, scarves, candle holders, vases and teapots and baskets, musical instruments, planters, stationery, journals and photo albums, pictures made of straw, Faberge eggs and stacking dolls from Russia, and on and on it goes. I bought a little paperweight, made of a river rock from Vietnam. The artist puts 8 coats of varnish and iron oxide, with each coat taking up to a week to dry. Then he painted the koi and covered it all with a clear coat. It's so smooth and unique! Going to the shop is like visiting an art museum, only with pieces you can actually afford to buy. Especially since I got gift cards to the shop from my youngest son for Mother's Day!

Monday, May 19, 2008


My son got me a movie for Mother's Day, called "Bella," that I had never heard anything about. But I have reason to trust my son's taste, so that night my husband and I watched it. It was wonderful, and I can heartily recommend it. I can't tell a lot about it, it is better if it unfolds naturally, but I can say there is a young man who is a very good soccer player, until a tragedy occurs, and there is a young woman who finds herself pregnant, to her dismay. Then a story unfolds that is worth the telling. There are two small things that took a moment to get used to. One was that even though this is a movie without foul language, it does have a lot of conversation in Spanish, so you have to read the English if that is all you speak. Also, it does jump around some, but you quickly get oriented, and it is somewhat necessary to the story.

Another thing, though not a flaw, is that this is an adult movie. Now, by that I do NOT mean what passes for "adult" now - i.e. for immature jerks who ought to be old enough to know better. Instead this is a story for real adults, mature, responsible people. There is no sex, bad language, or cruel behavior. It does have real love, family, and compassion. But still it is not for children. If you choose to watch it with a spouse or friend, I think you will be glad you did. Then, after you watch it, google it and read some of the interviews with the writer or actor, which will reveal things that enrich it even more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother-Daughter Banquet

I went to the coolest Mother-Daughter banquet I've ever been to recently! The small, rectangular church fellowship hall was transformed by rich tapestries, colorful cloths, candles, flowers, scarves and rugs into a Persian banquet hall for The Feast of Esther. Young girls in colorful, flowing costumes glided and twirled about the room, visiting booths where they could create crowns for themselves, paint their or their mother's nails, and don pipe-cleaner tiaras. There were games stressing poise and beauty, as well as a hilarious beauty contest where more than one normally mild-mannered woman showed off some amazing dance moves! Soon the women were seated at long tables surrounding the girls, who were shown to low tables with large pillows to sit on. Two hard working husbands, pressed into service as manservants, served trays of grapes, flat bread, feta cheese and olives. There was challah bread in baskets, and salad. The water goblets were kept filled from crystal pitchers, and bowls of a delicious apricot chicken and rice dish were thoroughly enjoyed. After the meal, as dessert was served, a young girl began telling the Bible story of Esther. As we enjoyed our sherbet and soft fig cookies, we also participated in the interactive story, cheering for Esther and Mordecai and booing so the name of Haman, the villain, could not be heard.

Everyone had a lovely time, and I was especially impressed since I knew who had done the work and what a small budget they had. They cooked the food themselves, and used sheets and rugs and scarves from home for the decorations. It was such a lovely, girly day. This was a true labor of love, and I was pleased to enjoy it with my mother.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ode to Spring!

Since it is spring, I thought I'd share
photos of the largest butterfly I've ever
seen! I promise to post more soon, but I
got heat exhaustion mowing my lawn
(some spring!) and even though I have
a dozen posts swimming around in
my head, I've felt too puny to commit
them to (cyber)paper - soon, tho, I

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Childhood Sweethearts

Someone (I can't remember who!) suggested we post pictures of ourselves and our honeys when we were little. I thought that was a sweet idea, so here we are. I am about a year old. I thought it appropriate that I had a spoon in my mouth! And judging from that smile, I'll bet it had a bit of chocolate on it. My husband is around 3 or 4 - isn't he handsome?!? We got married young (I was barely 18 and he'd been 20 for 3 days!), but we've been married nearly 30 years, so all those people who thought we were TOO young can quit worrying - we're still crazy about each other! I would love to see other people's childhood photos!

Friday, May 2, 2008

When Are Bugs Pretty?

No one thinks flies are pretty?! I'm shocked. I mean, look at the little guy, with his huge red goggles, his shimmery blue-green hide, and his little hook to hold on with! Though, to be honest, if he had been on my kitchen counter I'd of whacked him without a second thought. For me the demarcation line is inside versus outside. I've always been an outdoors girl, and I marvel at the beauty of all kinds of unusual things. Snakes, for instance. My mom says there's something heathenish about my fascination with snakes. But have you ever really looked at, say, a coral snake? They are really gorgeous. We have large indigo snakes here too. Once my young son was leaning against a tree by the pond and felt something on his leg. He looked down and there was a 5-ft. indigo climbing him! He did a frantic little panic dance and the startled snake dropped off. Evidently he'd never seen a tree behave like that.

I find many spiders and other unpopular creatures to be beautiful too. My sister and I loved ants when we were little and were always trying to make homemade ant farms, with moats around them. An awful lot of ants drowned themselves rather than stay with us! Maybe it's from growing up in Florida where you either get used to things or stay nervous a lot. We always did a lot of camping, so when we went swimming or canoeing, it was usually in a pond or lake, and there were often alligators nearby. Mostly they leave you alone, especially if no one has been feeding them. Unless they've been fed, alligators are pretty shy of people. I did get to swim with a manatee once, back before it was illegal to touch them. They have hides like elephants and faces only a mother could love. We have oodles of lizards and frogs. We watched quite a drama in our bathroom window one day. We heard what sounded like a girl screaming and ran to find the source. There were 3 frogs on the outside of the screen, but there was the glass of the window kind of trapping them. They were what was screaming! A snake was crawling up the screen, wanting to eat them. While he was trying to pick out the juiciest looking frog, a tiny spider started sidling sideways toward him, ever so slowly. Finally he reached the snake's head, climbed on and bit him right between the eyes! The snake jerked, then fell from the window. So the little spider saved all those frogs! Sort of made me think of the story of the mouse saving the lion.

I love watching all the little dramas unfold as long as the creatures are outside where they belong. Even birds, which are so beautiful and fascinating flying free, I've had no luck with inside. Once we had a parakeet named Midnight. It was basically psychotic. I figure it was because it was caged. Another time we came home to find a peach-faced lovebird clinging to our screen door. Someone's pet that had escaped, we thought at first. My son made a pet of it, and at first it was adorable. It would sit on his head and sing and act all innocent. Soon, though, it became an attack bird, refusing to allow anyone in to his bedroom except him - and then, it turned on him too. We came to realize that it had probably been booted out by it's original owner in self-defense! I use to like squirrels, too. Until one got down inside our bedroom wall! So, if any bugs could read this, the moral of the story would be - stay out of my house! The bugs in the pictures I posted were all found outside and left to live and let live, except the red and black one that I trapped in my kitchen! He was left in a jar to be admired until he expired.

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