my home


img_2389-xangaIt interests me, that all through our lives–if we seek to think about others more than ourselves–we will give and adapt and adjust in order to sustain and cultivate relationships.

Parenting demands more of this than any other, perhaps.  I suppose it depends upon our personality, as to what amount of “giving in” we need to do in our marriage, our parenting, and with friends.

And of course there’s a fine line between doing what is needed, and doing too much.

And some of it is not “giving in” at all, but just plain pride in what our loved one has accomplished!

In keeping with my tradition of supplying scotch tape to my toddler, bread twist-ties to my preschooler, and countertop space to my semi-adult son, this weekend I changed the decor of my kitchen.  It will be so for a while, anyway.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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My Older Son has been taking a ceramics class in college this semester.  Given his serious passion with antiquity, he has produced all his pottery in the Anglo-Saxon style.

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This too shall pass?

He has signed up for Advanced Ceramics next semester.

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We have a “vernal pool” back behind our house in the woods.  It’s actually a big mud puddle caused by ATVs that roar through our property on what used to be a gas pipeline, spoiling the path for anyone who would like to walk through.

The frogs and toads don’t know it’s a motorized disaster-in-the-making, and they enliven our lives by using it as a place to lay eggs and grow their babies.

The last few years, we’ve had the privilege of having rather different critters in the pool:  wood frogs.  Instead of the usual “peep-peep” of the spring peepers, we hear a loud “clack-clack”-even in the daytime.  The first year we heard these, we were completely mystified over what sounded like a large gathering of turkeys in the woods.  They are supposed to be common, but I don’t hear them elsewhere.

They’re extremely shy and it’s almost impossible to catch a glimpse of them.  Before we can even sneak close to the pool, they become silent and invisible.

Today it is cool, so I crept out there, hoping they wouldn’t all be sleeping at the bottom of the pool, waiting for the sun.  But they are.  It’s simply a puddle of mud and leaves, quiet and undisturbed.  Lifeless.

But I know.

Valentine’s Day was always a special event when I was growing up, because my mother always bought us a little gift and candy. I still have the plastic pin she bought me, and each year I manage to find an occasion on which to wear it.

I’ve carried on the tradition by always buying some Reese’s peanut butter cups for my guys, along with making a personalized Valentine for each.  For example, when the boys were into dinosaurs, I cut out red dinosaurs with something like “I’m stomping over to you to tell you I love you” or somesuch.

But this year, I was out of ideas.

The internet showed how to make an origami heart, so midnight last night found me struggling and exasperated trying out to make sense out of those directions.  I could NOT do it!  I finally found a different heart on a different website, and finished by beating out a ragged form that was kinda like a heart; it was easy enough to think of a slogan to write on it.  I decided one heart was enough, and that prize went to my husband.

I also broke tradition by giving him a small gift, enlarging and framing a photo recently found when unearthing old treasures.  This is a Christmas card his family sent to friends in 1961.  Chip is the youngest of the family.

As for myself, I snitch a bit of the others’ candy.And Chip usually gives me flowers, which were particularly lovely this year.

I had a flower from another source too:  my chiropractor, who gave a carnation to each of his lady customers!

Supper for us on Valentine’s Day is always the same menu, simply because I looked through a cookbook 27 years ago to find something different to fix when Chip was coming to visit me on this special day.  I remember painstakingly following this new recipe, as Chip sat in a corner of my small kitchen, keeping me company.  Disney’s Parent Trap was playing on the television in the other room.

Here is what we always have:

Chicken Imperial (from Good Housekeeping Illustrated)

Mashed potatoes

Carrots with brown sugar glaze (Betty Crocker)

Company cheesecake with strawberry topping (Betty Crocker)

Chicken Imperial has ALWAYS been very very good to eat, even when through the years we’ve done it differently–without flour, with gluten-free flour, with rice milk, with soy milk, or with water replacing the cooking sherry.  Here is the recipe:

Chicken Imperial

(with my comments in parentheses-as you can see, I’m not fancy!)

4 large whole chicken breasts, skinned (I use 3 lb. cut into small pieces)

¼ to ½ C. flour

½ C. butter

1 lb. small mushrooms–quartered (I use 8 oz. chopped)

1 T. minced onion (I use a bit of onion powder)

1 C. heavy or whipping cream

¼ C. dry sherry

1 ½ tsp. salt (I use 1 tsp. nowadays)

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 T. water

1.  Coat chicken with the flour.In 12-inch skillet over medium heat, in hot butter, cook chicken till lightly browned on all sides.  Put aside.

2.  In drippings in skillet over medium heat, cook mushrooms and onion for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in cream, sherry, salt and pepper and stir to blend well.

3.  Return chicken to skillet.  Reduce heat to low; cover skillet and simmer 20 minutes or till chicken is fork-tender.

4.  To thicken sauce (which I usually skip):  Blend 1 T. flour with water. Gradually add to pan liquid, stirring constantly, and cook till mixture is thickened.

5.  To serve:  Spoon sauce over chicken and/or put sauce in a gravy boat for the mashed potatoes.

Now to the subject of the greatest love of all: Yesterday I had the privilege of listening to the first eight chapters of the letter the apostle Paul had written to the Romans; when you hear the Word of God in big batches, it is so fine.  And when I listened, I tried to think of what it would be like living in that time and hearing Paul say those words.  Paul points out how terribly bad we are, and how hopeless it is to try to make amends for it ourselves.  It makes you feel horrified.

Then Paul explains how God passes over our sins, because Jesus paid the price for it.   By His grace, as a gift to us, he says.

Can you imagine it?   The people of that time knew so many gods, and these gods were so cruel; they demanded behavior and sacrifices to be just so, and you could never really tell whether or not they were going to be appeased (and isn’t that really what it’s like now too?).   But here is such a different God, the real God, who is so unlike the others (who were never real at all).   A God we can cry out to like children, and He is our papa.  A papa who loves us, gives us assurance, and gives us all hope for the future.

The passage ends with such a strong and definite promise:  Romans 8:38–“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

WHO needs ANYthing else?

TRUE RECYCLING

Imagine what my family thought when I trucked off to the recycling place with two large plastic tubs of tin cans, newspaper, and glass, and returned with two large plastic tubs of …… different glass!   And being proud of myself too!

This is what happens when you have a mead-maker in the house.

I am under five feet tall, so imagine me tipping myself into the recycle bin while pulling out these treasures.

I could easily fall in love with glass.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

A few posts back, I-Was-There-And-Back-Again commented on this photo, saying the chair looked like it had droopy rabbit ears.

One week later, the chair looks like this:

On the deck, there is also this for me to look at, every time I glance out the back door.

The umbrella will need to be replaced next spring, so I guess no one has bothered to put it away for the winter. It hasn’t outlived its usefulness YET, however, as the chickadees were picking at it last spring to get tufts of fabric for their nests, and most likely will do so again this coming spring.

It’s a little unsightly, so it tends to give me a pang of guilt and embarrassment every time I see it, but it does stand as a reminder that the seasons come and go and come again; what is snowy now will be hot with sunshine in a few months, that’s for certain.

“In the past, He let all nations go their own way. Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” ~ Acts 14:16-17

SMALL TOWN EXCITEMENT

I was born and raised in a small town in Indiana, a one-stoplight town where EVERYone knows EVERYone else.  As I was growing up, I struggled with this, because there was no privacy, everyone had opinions about yourself, and there was so much gossip.  I was glad to get away.

Fifteen years later when I was chatting with an old friend who had stayed, he told me what a comfort it is to him to be in a place where everyone knows his history and who he is.  I had never seen it from his viewpoint before.

The biggest excitement the town had in those days was in 1979.  Indiana is known for its intense love of basketball, and our town is no exception.  In those days (oh, for the Good Old Days), Indiana had “single class” basketball.

Today, large high school teams from big cities compete with other large high school teams, while the smaller schools compete with other small teams of their own “class.”  But this didn’t come about in Indiana history until 1998, and so when I was younger, all schools competed against each other.  And in 1979, my hometown went to the State Finals.

Let me say that again (insert screaming hysteria here):  WE WENT TO THE STATE FINALS!!!

I was in college at the time, but was able to come home for spring break just in time for the excitement.  Our team won the Semi-Finals right on the buzzer; it was one of those Movie Moments where the teams were tied for overtime, and the score kept bouncing back and forth between both teams.  The other team was ahead, the countdown was coming, and our player threw the ball from the middle of the court as a last attempt at the basket.  The ball went in, but everyone was screaming so loudly the buzzer couldn’t be heard, and we all had to hold-our- breath-while-screaming-at-the-same-time until we saw the final score on the scoreboard:  that basket scored the last and winning point for our team!  It’s worth listening to the radio announcer as he reports the last 8 seconds here.

The day we won the Semi-Finals, each and every one of us was a celebrity just for being from that town.  On the 1 ½ hour drive home, people stood along the highway waving in the dark, and one town even had people standing on an overpass with a huge banner of best wishes.

The following week, the town had a parade every day. And just in case you think we were being a bit over-the-top, I will validate its importance by telling you that the town was overrun with reporters, and we were even mentioned in magazines such as Sports Illustrated.

It seemed there were enough tickets for the Big Event for most everyone in town, which created jokes such as “Will the last person out of __ turn out the lights?”  Many people cancelled their US Postal Service mail for that day, so that the mail lady wouldn’t have to work (she had a son who was on the team).

Well, we lost, of course.  Our guys were scared so spitless they lost the very first game.  But that will never lessen our happy memories.

All this is to say that my town probably hasn’t seen that much excitement…until now….unless it was in 1988 when a young girl was brutally murdered less than a mile from my parents’ farm, and the murderer was never found.  It’s one of those things you always wonder about, with sadness and a bit of fear, but you don’t talk about it much, because of the same.

Thomas Crowell became intrigued about this unsolved murder when he visited our town, and he decided to write a book about it, which came out for sale just in time for Christmas.  This book, called The Passerby, is written as a fictional account with a made-up town and made-up characters, but it is very real.  So real that townspeople can read it and know who is who is who.

And he names who he believes to be the murderer.

And the presumed murderer still lives in town.

Can you imagine the stir this has caused?  People reading the book, figuring out all the characters and finding themselves here and there?  People pointing fingers at the nervous man named as the suspect, and other people angry at those who would accuse him without cause?  Needless to say, things are really humming!

This week, the Indiana State Police re-opened this cold case.

JUST FOLLOWING ALONG

Teacherperson passed along the game of Fourth Picture Tag, and I found an interesting photo in my files:

This was taken last summer with my mother-in-law, her children, and their spouses.  We are all squinting in the sun while our niece is telling us where to stand.  In many ways, I think it’s better than the formal photos that were taken afterward!


If you would like to play this Tag, here are the rules:  1) Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on your computer

2) Select the 4th picture in the folder

3) Explain the picture

4) Tag 4 people to do the same (I am tagging the four people who read this blog!)

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