Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birthday dinners

I had the very great pleasure of cooking two birthday dinners this week.  Erin was here with us on her birthday for the first time in a very long time.  I asked what she wanted and she just said, "Something I don't usually have."

So, I made Thai Tom Kha soup and Pad Thai.  For her birthday dessert, we had gluten and dairy free pumpkin pie cupcakes 'cause that's how she rolls - gf and df right now.  The cupcakes were topped with coconut cream with just a bit of sugar, and they were delicious.

We all loved the Tom Kha soup, but I think baby Levi was the biggest fan of all ...

He just kept eating and eating and eating ...

Tuesday was Andrew's birthday. His dinner included Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac n Cheese, Black-eyed peas with avocado cilantro salsa, and garlicky sauteed kale.  For dessert, a Hummingbird Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting.  So good.

Tonight ... we ate leftovers!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Porch time

Porch time is, for me, a treasured time.  We move to the screen porch after the dishes are done and light only candles. Crickets humming as background music, the squeak of the porch swing chain marking the slow rhythm of our conversation, we tell stories, laugh, sit quietly, and then by ones and twos, drift inside and to bed.

Clara was introduced to porch time tonight.  She heard stories about her Uncle Joel getting seven shots at once when he was six years old, her Gramma hooting like an owl in answer to the next door neighbor boy's owl calls, her Mom and Dad's early conversations and house designs when they were but teens in Cameroon.  There were a few jokes.  She told one about cupcakes in the oven and we all laughed.

The porch is a special place.  We all feel it.  We all love it.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


It's a big day/week/year for another reason that I was just reminded of ... this young man begins his Ph.D studies today.  (Well, he sort of continues ... Jonathan's at the same institution, the University of Denver where he completed his MA in International Studies last spring).

Thanks to his mother-in-law, Maata ji (aka Kathy Kingsley) who took this wonderful picture back in the summer.

I am amazed and humbled that I have this privilege also ... of seeing my children work hard to discover and pursue what is important to them; to strive through challenges and hardships, to persevere in the ups and downs, toward significant goals.

I don't write too much about my adult children anymore here because, well, they are adults.  Their lives are their own to share or not, with the wide world, as they please.

There are many, many times that I miss the old days; the full house, the noise, the involvement in activities of my children ... horses, chorus, theatre, football, orchestra, movie-making, soccer.  As much as I miss those days, however, I am well content in this new-ish season.  I say "ish" because we only became empty-nesters last fall. I am still getting used to it, still figuring out what it looks like to be a mother-from-a-distance.  That distance is only physical, though - each of my six, and now their spouses and children -  are never far away in my thoughts, hopes, longings, and prayers.

In the Gramma department ...

this is a pretty great week!

Today, we're remembering the arrival of the little girl that made us grandparents for the first time. 

(holding newborn Clara for the very first time)

Later this week, Clara (and her mom and brother, Levi!) arrive for a nice long visit.

And, of course, yesterday we got to spend time with Thomas and Kay and baby David.

I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of being Gramma to the these three little ones and pray for the wisdom to love them well, to encourage and support their parents, and to point them to the beauty and glory of God in all things.  It is a weighty and joyous thing to be a grandparent.

On another note, today is my parents' 60th wedding anniversary.  That's a pretty special and increasingly rare milestone. I am so thankful for their example of faithfulness, support, and love through these many years.

Happy 5th birthday, Clara, and Happy Anniversary, Mama and Daddy!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Sweet, sleeping baby

There is nothing in the world like holding a sleeping baby in your arms and looking down into his sweet face.

So very happy for baby David time today ... and for time with Thomas and Kay.  I do love having children and a grandbaby close enough for a day trip visit.  It's a big plus that Joel is just 20 minutes down the road from them!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The end of summer

"The crickets sang in the grasses.  They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad, monotonous song. 'Summer is over and gone,' they sang, 'Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.'
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into fall - the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change...
Everybody heard the song of the crickets.  Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road ... Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. 'Another summer gone,' she sighed.
'Summer is over and gone,' repeated the crickets. 'How many nights til frost?' sang the crickets. 'Good-bye, summer, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye!'
The sheep heard the crickets, and they felt so uneasy they broke a hole in the pasture fence and wandered up into the field across the road ... a little maple tree in the swamp heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.'"
I read this chapter, "Crickets, " from Charlotte's Web to Clara the other day and thought that perhaps E. B. White felt the way I do about the ending of summer.  I never want it to end.  I want the long hot days to go on and on and on; for watermelons and corn and tomatoes and yellow squash and okra to keep ripening; for the farmers to continue bringing their produce on Monday afternoons to the little market by the railroad tracks.  I want to be hot enough that the cool, well water in the pool feels refreshing; to sweat when I walk; to hear the electric throbbing hum of the cicadas.

Down south, first frost is still a ways off.  We will have plenty of hot days in September, I'm sure.  I even thought about challenging myself to swim outside every day in September.  We'll see about that.

E. B. White, who wrote Charlotte's Web, lived in Maine, so Labor Day weekend really did signal the end of summer for him.  Fall was just around the corner, the brilliant colors of the maples and oaks, the harvest of apples, the chill of frost soon coming very soon.  We still have a bit of time.  September is not yet full-fledged fall here.  In October and on into November, we will have mild, shirt-sleeve days.

It's coming, though.  Leaves are already drying and drifting down.  The tulip poplars are the first ones that yellow and fall.  We scoop them out of the pool along with the last of the pink crepe myrtle blossoms.  I spotted a bit of red on the drooping leaves of an August-dry dogwood.  Mums are appearing in the garden centers.  Pumpkins will be here soon.

I don't want summer to end.  I'm not ready for sweaters.  And yet ...

I feel the dry, brittle grass in the front yard, see the summer weary beauty berry with hints of purple in the clusters of berries. The hosta blooms are spent, their stalks, dry pokers now.  The bronze fennel has gone to seed, .  So, let the season change.  Let the cool weather come.  E.B. White said these were the most beautiful days - the days when summer was changing into fall.  I understand but don't agree.  I still prefer March and April, with the promise of growth and warmth ahead, but I'll settle into the beauty of fall when it comes. I'll put a mum on the porch and change out the summer wreath on the front door and even enjoy wrapping up in a quilt on the porch in the chill of the mornings to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gramma x 3

A week ago, weary from the roller coaster ride of a 55 hour labor and home from the birthing center, Kay and Thomas slept.  I got to hold the baby.  I snuggled that little curled up body and watched the changing expressions on his tiny newborn face.  It was the second time this year that I have had the incomparable privilege of holding a newborn grandchild.  In January, it was baby Levi and now, baby David.  First cousins who, I hope, will get to know and love each other as my children know and love their nine first cousins.

The births of these two cousins were very different in many ways but alike in this, the labors were long and did not proceed as anticipated.

I bore six children, the first in a hospital in Nairobi and the rest, with the help of midwives, at home.  People think there is something special in that - that you are a superwoman ... or crazy.  I didn't think so.  It felt natural, calm, peaceful.  I had quick labors and rather easy deliveries.  So, when I think of what my Erin and Kay went through, I am a bit in awe of their strength and courage.  They are the superwomen.

I am Gramma x 3 now and thrilled about it.  Baby David is only two hours away.  Hooooray!  And Erin will be coming down with Clara and Levi next week.  My cup overflows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We went to the beach ...

We read a lot ...

at the house ...

and on the beach.

I cooked, they cleaned.

We ate a lot of peaches.

We played the dice games we learned in Bolivia.

We rode in the golf cart.

We missed the ones that weren't there.

Gosh, I love being with these people.

Sewing with a friend

I have creative friends for whom I am very thankful.  They see things I don't see and create in ways that are inspiring and exciting.  I am encouraged by their vision for beauty and their dedication to developing their art and craft.

It is particularly fruitful when I am able to spend time with them creating.  I don't get to do it often enough. For two summers in a row, some of us worked together on quilts for the Sari Bari auctions.  But there was no auction this year, so no communal quilt making.  I'm missing that gathering together to make.

Fortunately, I did have a chance a couple of weeks ago to do some sewing with my friend, Carla.  Truly, this dear friend is one of my creative muses.  I learn so much from her.

We worked from the book, Happy Homemade: Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs.  It's a lovely little book and the designs are, indeed, quite simple.  I had sewn one dress from the book and Carla and I worked on a tunic top.  We're trying it with some leftover sari fabric first to see how the pattern fits.  I think it's going to be lovely.

I'm also altering a lovely white linen dress and a pair of linen pants for her.  The pants will be shortened and then embellished with some of the crocheted doilies pictured above.  It is a challenge to me to figure out how to alter and make a beautiful, but unworn, dress fit well.  Hoping I can get it right with C's linen dress because it will be quite lovely on her.