20 February 2010

Another Man’s Treasure

It is time to sell grandma’s house. She no longer can live on her own. Family members have been through the house to take home what tokens mean the most to them. Now in the very caring hands of a granddaughter and her home and hearth, grandma has only the things there that she needs.

Texas mom came up here to the PNW to help her brothers finish going through boxes and make some final decisions about their mother’s estate. Mom brought us something from grandma’s house she thought we might enjoy. She chose considerately. Texas mom brought us her grandparent’s Bibles. Published in 1946, but gifted, by inscription, nearly ten years later by one of their daughters, Texas mom’s aunt, grandma’s older sister (still with me?). Though not heavily worn on the outside, the contents prove the godly heritage imparted to us, through Mike’s maternal ancestry. The girls have already taken to them as their own Bibles and have begun reading in them.

Honored we are, to have received such a treasure.

Thumbing through the Bibles, one belonging to Walter, the other to Lillie, we found old photos, hand written notes, family records and yellowed newspaper articles; history, as it were, in our very hands. Along the pages were inked references and annotations. Among the pages are prayer cards and tracts from multiple western states, their cities and of different denominations.

The markings in and alongside the leaves of scripture are diverse. Each great-grandparent exercised their Bible; you can see by the variation of scrawls and symbols, circled scripture cues, written in their own hand. The very nature of the pamphlets and handouts from various missionaries and Bible societies, tell our little family of how much these great-grandparents of ours valued their salvation. They honored the sacrifice made on the cross.

Yet there has to be more. There can be no relying on ancestry for our ticket into heaven. While at present, it is the responsibility of Mike and I, to teach our children to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength, at some point that responsibility rests also (also, I say, for we do not relinquish responsibility for their independence) on their shoulders to obey their parents in the Lord and walk in righteousness to stand before God on their own.

It is a treasure to have these beautiful Bibles in our household. Nonetheless, in the words of a favorite Christmas song we have been humming during the last several weeks,
My precious Jesus is more than an heirloom to me

16 February 2010

“Daddy, Look! A Sign of Spring!”...

Said Abigail years ago, pointing out crocus leaves jutting up though the icy earthen bed.

Big Daddy, being the breadwinner and all around outstanding provider, hunter-gatherer, door-knocker- downer, bad-guy-thwarter, omelet-slinger and so forth, does not have the hours with the girls as I do(pretty busy guy, eh?), so he is often surprised by their funny little quips and assessments of their surroundings when in their company.

Originally coined by Anne and myself, Mike had never heard our observations noted as “a sign of spring” and he found himself taken by the darling ‘Abi-dale’ and her remark; innocent, fresh, pure, completely aware of her world.

Now the girls participate in the “signs” at a new level. They are learning to propagate, store, divide, plant, and design, for future winter walks that bring about “signs” and the pleasure of anticipating the hope of the spring to come.

TOP: Crocus from Gran's garden CENTRE: white hyacinth BASE: Indian Plum in bloom

11 February 2010

One Garden Down, One Garden Up...(and a tip on tulips)

Early December brought record lows to the PNW. Our usual cold snap comes late January early February, so this mild winter has flora and fauna a bit befuddled. The garden is bursting with buds not typically exposed this early, or in any case, to such an advanced degree.
The wintery decorations we typically keep up until March seem erroneous. The usual Epiphany season activities, while including some garden clean up, consist mostly of closet cleaning, baseboard dusting, seed catalogue ordering, puzzling (of beautiful spring scenes of course)at solaced tea times, quiet and restful before the full swing of spring is cheerfully unavoidable. We gladly observe the days lengthening and the perennials awakening. So what are girls to do when it's fifty and mild with 'spring-like' conditions? Head on out.

In the garden yesterday, I harvested our last crop of winter brassics- Brussels sprouts. These stalks look a little worse for wear; however, they weathered some less-than-mild conditions late fall. This is variety ‘Jade cross “E”’. These darling little morsels cleaned up nicely, took a good steaming, sautéed in garlic and butter then tossed with parmesan. Mmm.
The tulips are further along this year than projected. It set me to thinking about the work ahead of me this summer. Tulip propagation and maintenance is scheduled for this year. Unlike naturalizing daffodils, when a tulip creates offsets, if not dug-up and separated, the parent bulb suffocates by the crowding of the new bulblets. The underground nursery maid exhausted by its little charges, gives out. No more blooms, weak leaves, maybe. Here’s what ya do:
Sometime in June after the plant has yellowed, unearth the bulb and remove the bulblets. Set them in a lightweight medium in full sun, where there is little chance of dousing with a sprinkler system or the garden hose (here’s the dry, airy rest). Replant them by September’s end for their required cold hours.
Here’s the trick:
A deeply planted bulblet grows fat and large over the course of 3-4 years, to produce the bloom-bearing bulb. If planted deeply (up to 12in), the bulb should be good undisturbed while forming into a mature bulb. A shallower planting (6-8in or less) for an already mature bulb, creates more bulblets for more aggressive propagation, future blooms for the dinner table!

09 February 2010

Little Abe Lincoln

By Elizabeth Upham

Ambitious little fellow,
Did you dream of being great ,
With charcoal for a pencil
And a shovel for a slate?

Earnest little fellow,
What high hopes filled your head,
As you lay upon the bearskin
Of that wee log-cabin bed?

Honest little fellow,
When a neighbor’s book got wet,
You labored with your axe for weeks
Until you paid the debt.

Unselfish little fellow,
Whose life was ever spent
In doing deeds for others,
You were made a President!

08 February 2010

Kentucky Birthday

Kentucky Birthday February 12, 1816
By Frances Frost

Leaning his chin in his small hard hands,
Abraham thought and thought
About adventure in distant lands:
His breath came fast and caught

In his throat as he dreamed on the cabin floor.
The firelight danced on his book
In a gust from the suddenly opened door,
He twisted around to look.

His father stamped the snow from his feet;
The steaming stew on the crane
Smelled tender-rabbit, spiced and sweet;
The sharp snow knocked at the pane.

Abraham smiled at the alphabet,
Tall on the firelit page:
He guessed he’d remember the dark floor wet
With snow, till he came of age.

He thought of wide American lands,
But this warm room was heaven.
He cupped his chin in his small hard hands-
Abraham Lincoln, seven

07 February 2010

Sunday at Grandma Grace’s House

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, with faithful Scooter by his side, Pop drives a whole fifth of a mile to his childhood home to see his folks and have coffee. It has slowly evolved into, well, all of us…for breakfast. Gramps passed away a couple of summers ago and for Gran, Sunday is an important day of fellowship (besides reminding her what day of the week it is!).

Gran has lived in her house since ’34 when she and Gramps were married. They moved only once: the whole house, across the street. Their youngest son and his wife and all their children live in homes surrounding (that's us).
Life on Route 3 varies little and that is what we all like about it. Change can be good; especially when you’re rearranging furniture, buying new shoes or seeing a cloud-cover free the sun, but at Gran’s the less change the better!

Kai said last week, while mowing down yet another sausage link, “I love Sundays”. He stated clearly his emotion of approval and satisfaction of having it remain the same. Hear hear!

So, yet again we meander ‘over the river’ or anyway, up the street to Gran’s for breakfast, coffee, fellowship, dogs at the hearth, kids in the side room, knitting needles clicking, kick off times confirmed, daily schedules discussed.

Bacon and eggs, anyone?

04 February 2010

Baited. All on my Own.

I bit, hook, line and sinker on dry land. Me and my big ideas for ‘quality entertainment’.
In ta blesset name of Saint Brrridgette, what was I tinkin’?

Avoca, County Winslow, Ireland

This winter, I thought that it might be fun to watch some BBC early in the morning before the children awoke. You know, period drama, a little romance and often a message of virtue. A nice way to get the day rolling.

Oh, it’s been fun. And foolish.

The idea started with good intentions; Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Shakespeare. Soon it deteriorated to series drama. Ballykissangel to be exact.
You think I’m joking? I want to defect to Ireland, take conformation into the Roman Catholic church, and drink (or pull as a publican)pints of Smithwick’s, Guinness, Harp, at Fitzgerald’s Bar.

Fitzgerald's on the right

And that ain’t the half of it!

Ballykissangel, come to find out, does not truly exist. The town’s real name is Avoca, in Co. Wicklow. It’s a ruddy tourist trap! Brenden and Siobhan are in fact, just friends and Father Peter Clifford has not actually disappeared in the unknown Irish wilderness questioning the priesthood, how to serve God and mourning the death of his beloved Assumpta, local barkeep!

And how did I reach such outrageous conclusions, you ask!?
Series 4.

Very disappointing.

Now it seems like I’m just watchin’ TV.

01 February 2010

"Good as workin' as it sure shines a-bright!" says Abi-dale as she hands Pop the flashlight.

I love seven-year-old-speak.