5.20.2016

Everyday Celebrations


I know some of you would be horrified at the carbon "footprint" my household 
stomps into the earth. Especially during large family gatherings.
When we host the entire tribe of extended family, I break out the paper 
plates, plastic forks and styrofoam cups. 
(sigh) I'm not proud of it, but there it is. I'd like to list all my excuses, but I'll spare you.

But look what I scored at a recent yard sale:
Vintage "pressed glass" goblets in all colors of the rainbow!
The home owner was selling the contents of her mother-in-law's
 home to pay for her stay in an assisted living facility.
"We have to pay a little extra, doncha know, because Mama needs her hair done every Friday."
Her mother-in-law is 103 years old.

My husband and I admired the collection, but drove away, only to return an hour later to 
scoop up what was left. We purchased nineteen goblets and contributed a 
little extra for Mamma's hair needs.
It seemed appropriate to store them in our Hoosier cabinet. 
When I open the doors, it just looks like a party in there. 

I've resolved to use these every time we host a family gathering. My younger self 
would have kept these only for good, only for the very best occasions. 
But now that I'm (ahem) older, wisdom urges me forward with the earned understanding
that every gathering qualifies as the very best occasion, and
every single family dinner is an occasion to celebrate with 
fancy, rainbow-colored, antique goblets.





5.11.2016

Garden Bangles


Last year's Mother's Day gifts included these cool garden markers.
The black resin stakes came with a white grease pen to label ... anything! 
(... why not keep a pie bird in the greenhouse?)
Garden markers are the bangle bracelets of the flower bed, 
the bejeweled pinky rings of the veggie patch. 
Not at all necessary, but an oh-so-cool addition.
The sort you have speaks to what kind of gardener you are.

Some of us (ahem ... me) go with utilitarian methods 
of labeling in the garden: this, those, and (ugh) these.
I've even just re-used plant inserts, marking over the print with a fat Sharpie.
But ... with any Pinterest-y craft ability or Etsy cash flow, 
you could have this, those, or (ah!)these.

5.10.2016

Hymn Browsing

I'm working on a special order tie-tack for a music teacher. 
My Etsy customer wants a tiny Scrabble tile to display a bit of sacred music
under a dome of diamond glaze.
I LOVED browsing antique hymnbooks this weekend, humming through 
familiar old hymn-friends. Although I can't say my family enjoyed my 
impromptu, off-key concert ...
My favorite is probably the closest tile, "Amazing Grace" on letter A.
But the last one, "Take My Life and Let It Be", is close to my own heart's cry right now. 
An inspiring hymn of dedication, this one has a sweet history
Oh, to spend an hour with Frances!

  I'm pretty partial to this pendant. 
My grandparents had one Nikko blue bush on their farm, and it was ENORMOUS.
This hydrangea bloom is from my own bush, which is a start from theirs. 
It's a tiny piece of the old farm preserved and even wearable.

5.04.2016

Basking in Sunshine

These hosta emerge as purple nubs in early spring.  
I noticed them studding the wet ground weeks ago.
Then while I wasn't watching ... all this!
It's one of my favorite plants because of the leaf texture. 
Deep veins with a seersucker surface make it unique. 
SeersuckerWHAT? I know. Is that a weird word or what? 
SIDE NOTES:
* I keep all (most) of my plastic plant tags as a sort of catalog of perennials I've purchased over the years. There are  definite patterns: blue and purple flowering plants, sturdy beats frufru, and hydrangeas must be had! Tip: If you buy from a garden superstore and your plant dies, you can usually return it if you have the tag. Just dump the dead plant in an old store container, stick that plastic tag back in the dirt, and slug it off to the store for a replacement.
* Cowbirds invaded my feeders this year. I usually grind my teeth about spring starlings, but this year—COWBIRDS are the birdseed gluttons. But I did spot a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks at the feeder two days in a row! I tried to talk the lovely couple into staying longer, but they said my feeder attracted too much riff-raff. Dang cowbirds!
* Speaking of riff-raffy gluttons ... I'm listening to a library audiobook called Made to Crave. After six months of intensive study at The Lord's Table, it's making a lot of sense. God is revealing new parts of my heart and helping me see just how grateful I can be for His finished work on that cross!I highly recommend both books.
* Back to spring gardening: I usually swoop through garden centers at this time of year, on the hunt for new plants or crazy bargains. But yesterday my mom and I took a Mother's Day jaunt and wandered through a local greenhouse, savoring the color combinations and vast array of plant varieties. It was fun to recall what aunts or uncles favored which old-fashioned annuals: Great-Grandpa loved zinnias, Uncle Mike loved cockscomb ... remember when your cousin pushed you into the cactus bed at the conservatory? 
Yes. Yes, I do.  During our greenhouse stroll, I had a couple close calls—I almost fell (keeled over backward) into a huge display of geraniums as I admired the colors and lost my footing. And I found out just how far it is to the half-person bathroom in the check-out area—VERY far, especially if you're trying not to laugh or drag one leg behind you. 
* I'll only be forty-nine for four more months. Oh, man. I'm twenty-five on the inside! Which reminds me of Wanda. Have you heard her poem? Here it is.  



4.29.2016

Glorious Iris



 Look at this glory!
These purple iris even smell delicious—like grape-flavored candy. 
To get a full measure of iris glory, the entire process must take place.

The tight bud of preparation, when all that purple glory is 
hidden, brewing away under wraps.
And the un-beauty of the finished bloom—nobody enjoys that.
It's the bit of the process we pinch off to make room for something new.
Do you see bits of yourself, as I do, in the life cycle of an iris bloom?
Here's the good news:

And I am certain that God, 
who began the good work within you, 
will continue his work until it is 
finally finished 
on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


4.18.2016

Persistence


It's almost time for these to start blooming. 
I'm surprised to see them at all 
since I thought I killed them last season.  
Every year, I think I've killed all the oriental poppies. 

That's because after they've finished their beautiful show and scattered 
their seeds, they get ugly. Too ugly to leave in the flower bed.
So ugly that I'd rather see bare dirt than their brown, raggedy foliage.
Then I chop them right out of the garden. 
Gone, baby, gone.

But every spring, their silver bristled foliage is among the first to rise 
from the winter-stripped ground. 
What more could any gardener want? 
Beautiful spring foliage with attention-getting buds perched on hairy, twisted stems.
Gawk-worthy blooms—papery-orange petals paired with twinkling purple stamens. 
Extravagantly intricate seed pods that nod and sway, spreading treasure for next season.
AND they come back, even if I rip them out in the fall!
More on growing poppies here and here.

I changed the first photo at the Funny Pho.to website with the "impressionism" tool in the "sketches and paintings" category.
They offer free effects, and it's easy to download your altered photo. 

*****
And I didn't know THIS about poppies, but you probably did.

*****
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the 
word of our God stands forever."



4.08.2016

Hot Juices

Do you enjoy finding once-beautiful things gone shabby and ragged?
In those moments of discovery, 
(at a thrift shop, in a yard sale box, even in a pile of free-to-a-good-home stuff)
 the excitement of what "could be" nudges my elbow, and I'm a goner.

(some of my favorite materials)

And contrary to what you may think - 
- from the Desiring God website
If you need more convincing, here's Chuck Colson's Breakpoint article.
He says that in every area of life, creativity plays a major role.
"The reason is simple: part of our nature as image bearers of God 
the Creator is to be sub-creators."

If I popped over to your house, what creative project would I find you working on? 


Dream studio - here

3.24.2016

Looking Through the Peephole

I torture myself—do you? 
Every Easter season, I read deep things. The more profound the better. 
Thank you, Oswald, Clive, Ravi and Aiden Wilson for providing 
the study tools to help me along the way. 
Now it's almost Good Friday, and I sit with my Bible and some profound book ... 
and squint. 

I ask the Holy Spirit to multiply my understanding and 
plow wisdom deep into the soil of my heart. 
I add forehead kneading to the squinting and throw in some deep breathing. 
Sometimes I just get it over with and kneel.

I long to run into the throne room of His magnificence and openly gawk 
at the mysteries of grace displayed there.
But so often, it seems like I'm standing on a chair, which is balanced on a desk, 
straining to get one eye to the peephole of the firmly closed door. 

I invite you to join me and chase the deep things of God this weekend as the Church, 
worldwide, mourns and celebrates the death and resurrection of our Savior. 
Because sometimes—
He lifts us to the peephole and we see something world-rocking.
Something life-changing. 

 He did it for Moses





3.21.2016

Effective in Prayer


I'm praying for a dear friend today.

It can be daunting, do you find that? Not that my friend is a burden—never that—but I want my prayers to be as effective as possible in a situation that seems desperate. That's when I turn to praying scriptures. 

My favorite is Psalm 23. Yes, the one commonly used at funerals is really for the living. Not only is it simple to use this chapter as a prayer template, but I believe it's powerful as well. If you're not used to praying the scriptures, here's an example, using Psalm 23.

Lord, you're Lori's* shepherd, she shall not be in want. 
Make her lie down in green pastures.
Lead her beside still waters.
Restore her soul.
Lead Lori in paths of righteousness for Your own name's sake. 

She's walking through the valley of the shadow of death, 
but let her fear no evil, for You are with her. 
May Your rod and Your staff comfort her.

You've prepared a table for Lori in the presence of her enemies. 
Anoint her head with oil, Father, and let her cup run over!
Surely goodness and mercy will follow her all the days of her life, 
and Lori will dwell Your house forever.

More scriptures to pray for others, or for yourself, here, here, and hereAnd check out this excellent article about praying the scriptures. 

It's magnolia time in Kentucky. 
And this best nest is ready for its occupants to return.


*not her name




3.11.2016

It's Happening Again


Spring plants stretch from damp dirt and toss their heads in the breeze.

 Weak rays of sunshine penetrate nearly-transparent peony leaves. *

Red-winged blackbirds are first to announce—SPRING IS HERE! 


Side Note -
My neighbor, an elderly spinster lady, passed away last year. In the late fall, her brother invited me to take her peonies plants.
"She set such store by those, but we don't care about 'em." 
I just nodded, but, oh, I felt the horror my neighbor would have experienced at the lowly description of her prized "pie-knees". So, shovel and containers in hand, my Wonderful Husband and I began a search-and-rescue mission. It's not easy to find dried-up peony branches under a carpet of fall leaves and pine needles. We brought three clumps back to our yard, and I broke those into even more parts. I thought it might be too late to set these in the ground and have any chance of seeing them in the spring, but in her honor, I tagged each clump of tubers with her name.
And they're coming up! I know she'd be pleased.






3.04.2016

Ladder to Nowhere

As I drive along, I notice unusual things in yards. 
The men in my life do not appreciate thisthey say I'm swerving, but of course, I'm not
If you happen to be gawking along with me, you know there's lots to see.

For example, not far from here, an entire (plastic) holy family huddles on the front porch of a small white cottage. I'm sure someone intended to put them back in the shed until next year, but they just haven't gotten around to it

In another yard, there's a life-size bear figure, standing tall and menacing. The owners may think it's hidden behind that pampas grass, but people with excellent observation skills will notice these things. They also have a fake white pony, frozen mid-trot, not far from the bear—is there a story in the mind of the yard decorator?

Perhaps my favorite oddity is in the yard of a pink Cape Cod home, set high on a hill. A yeti statue strides through the side yard, perhaps on its way to the next meeting of the RUFO Society


And what about this ladder? 
It's propped against a tree with no apparent purpose at all.
I may have an overactive imagination, as some say, but doesn't this spark your
sense of wonder? A room full of first graders would be bursting with ideas about 
the mystery of this ladder to nowhere.

*******
Here's mine—a Story Snapshot called (what else?) 
"The Ladder to Nowhere"

     Benji walked around the ladder to better see it from all sides. His fingers, sticky with the evidence of three s'mores, brushed once-sharp wooden edges and skimmed embedded, rusty nails. It was almost too dark to really inspect the mysterious ladder now that the sun was going down. He thought about calling J.D., but then everyone would follow, and he might even get in trouble for wandering too far from camp. "Don't leave the circle of firelight," the scout leaders kept repeating. But they were only moms anyway and not real scoutmasters like he used to have in Indiana. 
     Bracing his hands on the side rails, he put his weight the bottom rung with one sneaker. Was it strong enough to hold his weight? He took three more rungs without taking a breath—still safe! From this perch, Benji peered up, up, up through the gloom, but the tree's neighbors huddled too close, blocking any final fingers of sunlight. If he was going to get to the top, he'd have to be fast ...


2.24.2016

Frowzy


This is the time of year when the Annabelle blooms 
I dried and displayed in the fall start to get all ...
frowzy
Covered with a thin sheen of dust and quite faded, 
there's just no way to fix these problems. 
Soon they'll be decorating the garbage can. 

New blooms are just around the corner, though ...
More on Annabelles here, here and here

*****
Is it strange that those hydrangea heads inspired a 
story snapshot? 

Frowzy
     Doris flipped the visor mirror of her 1995 Toyota Camry back into place. She gripped the steering wheel and pressed her forehead into her knuckles. Behind the front door of her home, shrill terrier yips beat a methodical cadence loud enough to reach inside her driveway-parked car. She had to face it: this wasn't going to get any better.
    The unfamiliar feeling of cool air against her neck surprised her againjust as  it had when she left the hair salon this afternoon. Stepping out of her car, she shook her head, scattering waves of chemical fragrance, then shut the car door and locked it. Her Saturday trip to the Anita Cut Salon on 2nd Street for a "new leaf" transformation turned out to be a lesson on the danger of spontaneity. She'd felt the warning twitch in her right eyelid but gave it no heed as Jack-Qua-Lyn rushed her toward a chartreuse plastic chair. Five hours later and fifty dollars poorer, a wiser Doris climbed the steps to her front door.
     Twinkie's nose brushed her foot when she stepped inside; her husband's dog was always glad to see her. Doris pocketed her car keys and bent to greet the suddenly silent pet. Confusion twisted Twinkie's wiry brow, and he backed away instead of jumping into her arms for kisses. With loud whimpers, he turned tail and fled to his favorite hiding place under the dining room table. 
      Doris stood under the bewildered gaze of her husband. "Well? What do you think of my hair?" 
     His eyebrows floated toward his hairline. "Ummmm ... " He blinked hard once, no, twicetherethree times. "Well ... do you like it?" He swallowed and blinked again. "I mean, is that what you ... wanted?" Twinkie slunk forward to cautiously re-investigate her shoe and identify this frowzy impostor. 
     "Yes," she squeaked in a voice that even she didn't recognize. Giving her now-damp foot a sharp flick, she choked, "It's exactly what I wanted."