I’m a teeny bit numb. I was dilly dallying around for a year wondering WWTD, (What Would Terri Do)- paint stuff, write wittily and wisely, read leisurely, rise late, coffee klatsch about. And then Bam! my mother-in-law really did come to live with us. She sleeps a lot. A lot. I now know that the story of Rip Van Winkle is based on a real person. And she sleeps here.
All week I have been remembering a quote that really encouraged me when I was a young mom changing dirty diapers, feeding little people, throwing in a load of laundry, cleaning up the same mess again. And I figured it was time to make it my mantra. Again. Because, well, circle of life.
It shoots holes in the idea that the apex to a Christian life culminates at: holy and spiritual missionary or pastor’s life, or me doing whatever I feel like doing. Jeesh. Which would, I am positive, be way more sanctifying-ly amazing than taking care of people. Way more. Way more cool, exciting, and fascinating to write about being a servant, to wax lyrical and to exhort wisely about lasting patience, kindness, long-suffering and just being amazing all by myself at a quiet desk all neat and tidy. Way more fun than scheduling meals, showers and pills.
The quote is from Amy Carmichael in A Chance to Die:
“Amy was learning that if the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the dusty feet of His disciples , then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord of Glory transforms it into a holy task. “Could it be right,” Amy had asked,” to turn from so much that might be of profit and become just nursemaids?” The answer was yes. It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant–he is not greater than his master. ‘If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary’s love.’”
Now when my kids pop in for a visit, granny gets a visit too.
As awful as it sounds, I hope she changes her mind. My mother-in-law. We built this house with her in mind. She wanted to come live with us. Forever. And then she didn’t. She bought a third great dane puppy instead mid way through the project, kind of like three bold italicized exclamation points declaring that she had changed her mind. !!! In the meantime, I’ve gotten used to not being wholly involved with the welfare of others. So that kinda scares me that someone will really need me again like small children used to. I’ve grown accustomed to this new phase of life.
Then a few months back I popped in to see her during my art adventure and she said, “I don’t think I’ll be here much longer.”
I thought, “Oh my goodness she thinks she is at death’s door,” but what I calmly said was, “Oh really? Why’s that?”
“Because I’m moving in with you,” she states simply.
I (again calmly) reply, “ohhh.” But what I’m thinking is, “Oh no she didn’t!”
The problem though is that, I’ve been haunted by her laying there in a bed with the one window of the room enjoyed only by her room mate, blocked for my mother-in-law by the pulled curtain and a bathroom wall on the other side. Doing nothing all day long.
“That’s it? That’s her life?” is all I could think for weeks, “All that buoyant fulfilling busy life is reduced to a curtain and a bathroom wall?”
And then like God so often does, He gently nudges me. Every time, EVERY time I start the car, the radio would come on with a Visiting Angels ad for in-home nursing care. Coincidence. Drive on.
Then on that very Sunday we pull into the church parking lot and yes, a car is parked there with “Visiting Angels” ad plastered on the car door meanly screaming at me.
And today, today I was just brought to a new understanding of sacrificing, of living for others by a friend who God sent my way so I would see this:
Jesus. This man. It worked.
So here we are getting ready to have my mother-in-law move in with us. But she might change her mind.
Last time she was here, Taite painted her nails.
Talking to Taite early that morning, she said it was fine; I didn’t need to come for the auction. I was sort of relieved in an I am such a lout of a mother sort of way.
I’d been to the fair the day before; I’d watched her show her pig; I’d eaten an elephant ear and other greasy carni food, seen all the exhibits, checked out all the animals; I’d done it all. So I hung up with Taite and sat there in my bathrobe for about 5 minutes. Then I had to ask myself what sort of a low-life mom would not even show up at the fair to watch the culmination of her daughter’s hard work? Who!? I dressed, grabbed my camera ( after checking to make sure I knew how to put it on ‘record’ because when she showed her pig; I did not) and sped off.
Okay, paying 8 bucks to park again didn’t thrill. Added to that was the pain of a $13 entry ticket. I seriously thought about passing myself off as a geriatric to make it a mere $5, but a twinge of conscience made me pull out the full 13. That and the fear they’d believe I was due the discount which would have been a tiny death of its own.
The place was so quiet; even the animals were still sleeping. I wandered alone and checked in with Orion:
Promptly at 9 a.m. I took my seat at the auction with the sale book. And then saw that there were about 2987 pages of animals to sell. Goats were first. One page took an hour to sell. My butt was sore. Taite was on page 10. The math.
But thankfully after the one-by-one goats, the pigs were sent in three-by-three and the sale speed picked up. By 2 p.m. her pig was finally up for auction. My butt was dead.
Three by three selling
Andrew had very sanely gone to work that morning and as he so often does in his charmed little life, arrived just in the nick of time to see Taite’s pig up for auction. I am not even kidding; our entire married life has been me ahead of time and waiting and he swoops in at the critical moment reaping all the benefits as though his butt had died on that aluminum bench too. But it hadn’t.
After that we wandered about then went home to scramble quickly out of bed the next morning to zip down to see Matthias, ranch hand extraordinaire. Here is the account of just one day in his very full life (and let me mention that when he writes very “little experience with stick shifts,” the boy DOES NOT HAVE A DRIVER’S LICENSE!):
So that was a strange birthday eve and morning. I was spending the night at my bosses house when a coworker spotted a fire on the ranch; so at 8:30 I set off to meet up with my other coworker and on the way over to our meeting spot in the rain in a car with terrible windshield wipers a 300-400 lb black bear ran across the road 30 ft ahead of me! Then after meeting and following my coworker down a long winding road with very little visibility due to his dust cloud I was sadly told to change rigs from an old gmc to an enormous manual dodge with a 35 ft trailer full of my bosses dogs. I, by the way, have little experience with stick shifts. I am then told that I will be driving this contraption along a narrow road on the side of sheer cliffs with drop offs in the pitch black of midnight. We eventually left and I rode very slowly behind a bulldozer for 10 nerve racking miles. By the time I arrived a fireman who was in a truck behind me informed me that I had been cutting corners the whole time and was in a all likelihood closer to my demise than I had ever imagined. In the end we stayed there till 5:00am watching the flames slowly approach a hastily built fire line before it’s blaze was diminished to a slight glow in the distance be the efforts of the forest service. That morning the state sent in planes and the fire was put out.
There are tiny narrow roads in this photo.
On Sunday we had a party. When this guy is at the grill, good things happen.
Summer has been a little bit about new animals. Caitlin and Zac have themselves a couple hundred cattle that they are trying to keep ahead of the fires that engulf the northwest every summer.
Out in this part of the country forestry firemen get huge respect for the really tough job. There is always a fire somewhere in the summer in the northwest. Always. This one is coming a little too close to Caitlin and Zac’s cattle.
Caitlin just checking to see if this cow is gonna have a calf.
And Taite has been up and out by 6:30 every morning and back in the evening caring for pigs that she’s almost ready to show. You may remember that I was a big fan of Taite raising a few pigs this summer; so I’m pretty proud of her stick-to-itiveness in passing up doing some fun stuff and dedicating herself to this project.
When Andrew said he’d like to go with her on Sunday morning; I figured I’d just sleep in and wait for them to get back. Guilt. So we all got up and out by 6:30 and I am so glad I went. It confirmed my respect for Taite’s fortitude. Pigs are thankless, snorting lot.
It amazes me how tame pigs become just by working with them everyday.
This big guy needs to watch his weight; he’s bordering on the upper limit for showing. If he jogs a little when he’s out and about; that’s okay, he can use it.
Showering down is a treat for the pigs. You do know right? Pigs are very clean animals.
Just enjoying the shower.
Have you ever noticed that a pig’s snout is almost an upside down heart?
“Jarrett, quick, help me get these out of here before your mom changes her mind!”
Andrew was so relieved when I proclaimed that I never wanted to can another thing again in my life. Ever. So a lifetime ago in about 16 seconds, he and Jarrett hauled every canning jar, canning lid, and canning ring out of the basement and into the back of the truck and hoofed it all to the second-hand store. The overwhelming sticky mess of canning is such a labor of love that I hate to actually ever open a canned delicacy because of the lingering memory, all the loving labor that begrudgingly went into each jar. So I hoard it. And then a decade later wonder if the cherries will kill us to eat them. There was this one jar saved. .. But…
last week a heavily laden apricot tree ripe and dripping off the branches beckoned. In a weak moment I started stuffing pounds and pounds of the little rosy yellow beauties into a paper bag. After having to pull over to a curb once to rearrange the bag that had toppled and spilled all over the car floor, I arrived home and laid them on the counter. And began to hyperventilate. What had possessed me? I left them there on the counter to think about what they’d done, seducing me like that. I wished upon them mush and mold to justify their quick trip into the trash.
But they were too fresh for that.
Having given them the evil eye all the next day, I finally dared to search: ”easy apricot jam without pectin.” My search revealed David Lebovitz’s apricot jam with just 4 ingredients- one being water and another, apricots; this was the simplicity of which I dreamt. I pulled out the canning jars that I have managed to squirrel away in the last decade, having come from other more stalwart cooks who have filled them with good things and gifted them to me. And very reluctantly set up shop.
Let me assure you, if I can make this jam, anyone can. I did not even wish to bother with the candy thermometer, so I set the timer and let the jam bubble away for 15 minutes and then ladled into the canning jars. If it doesn’t set up to jam consistency, it will be a great syrup on waffles and pancakes.
The small batch was so doable that when Tim and Erin came last week with a bag of blackberries and a bag of small wildly grown apricots that Erin thought about taking home with her; I assured her it would leak and be a disaster on the plane. My motives were ulterior; I was excited now to try the simple recipe with blackberries.
These tiny apricots came from the wilds of Hell’s Canyon area
These got the evil eye but refused to rot.
They actually did set up!
Feeding all these people?! Kinda easy. Each family took a night and made something for the crowd. Besides that, various people would up and run to the store for more beer or hard cider or some food item to keep the masses fed. And we did a whole lot of eating out. We highly recommend Lostine Tavern and Terminal Gravity Brewing- both amazingly kid friendly with excellent beer and food. And R&R in Joseph. Seriously, they still sell 25 cent cones! Starting out on Lopez Island in the San Juans, we ended at the Chief Joseph Rodeo.
I love photos. They are a good remembrance of good times.
Just mom, dad and the kids- and squishing in down there- Valiant!
This guy is working looong days on a ranch and getting pretty much buff. I was so happy he got the time off.
Poor little Aoife gets mixed up when all her aunts are around about just who exactly is her mother.
Aoife is wondering if maybe the wrong mom is holding her.
Mostly Aoife wants to feed herself, this is a rare shot.
Happily, Jarrett flew back from Penn State to join the fun.
Kids got to belly up to the window at the tavern.
Just waiting for everyone to get here for the big family photo
Ah, here we are.
It’s worth trying them all at Terminal Gravity
I was so happy that Tammy and Marty got to be a part of the big va-cay.
The last of the family trickled in to Terminal Gravity while we ate and drank. Welcome, Jason!
These two are the real deal, the rest of us are all poser cowboys.
Yup, for real. She rode.
Some of the other brave riders.
And then we came across the hat guy.
And we bought a bunch.
And we watched the kid’s parade featuring Freyja and her side-kick, Jude.
When I showed Rhys a piece of candy that had been thrown his way, he simply looked down at it and said, “Oh, cool.” And left it there on the road.
Those are not boots on Fox. Terminal Gravity has an enticing stream running through the outdoor eating area and it’s pretty much too difficult to ignore.
Good food right there.
“I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice
might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.
Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe
behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,
the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time-
now a fire starter, now a torch bearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,
lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country.”
Billy Collins will make you fall in love again with poetry; if you have never enjoyed poetry, you will love it for the first time. Collins is witty, insightful, poignant, and most of all readable.
In 2001-2003 he was appointed, for good reason, Poet Laureate of the United States.
You will not want to borrow this book you will want to own it and if like me, you find that your son-in-law owns two copies- he loves it that much- then simply, quietly, deftly, slip it into your overnight bag and make it your own, but by all means, have a copy to keep and reread. Nine Horses by Billy Collins
Rabbit trailing stuff:
Our decades long tradition has been to make pizza on Friday nights and watch a movie. So this small pizza oven at only $299 is beckoning. It heats to 840˚F (not a typo!) and cooks a pizza in 2 minutes (also not a typo!)
And to go along with the pizza making, if you are in the market for a great garlic press that won’t break the bank; I highly recommend this one. Erin reviewed this other one a long time ago, and I’m just gonna say; this is the same at 1/5th the price.
This, I almost hate to share because I want it and it’s probably a limited. A fire engine red iron sling chair a.k.a butterfly chair. The great thing about this one is that the legs do not fold up. I will reluctantly give you the link if you ask… I want two of these on my back porch.
And my very own daughter, Taite, is making these really clever animals:
Of course the summer includes good books.
“The work that God has given me to do is helping people to enter the existential experience of being loved in their brokenness.” Have I mentioned that Brennan Manning senses the presence of Christ? An alcoholic and self-hater to the level of idolatry, in short, his admission of his failings makes him a relevant, Christ-like example of strength through weakness. Ragamuffin Gospel is excellent.
I am a sucker for a food memoir that ends each chapter with a recipe: Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, Shauna Neiquist’s Bittersweet, Susan Loomis’s On Rue Tatin, so I also liked Delancey by Molly Wizenberg.
Reading for fun! Author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris has written Peaches for Father Francis which isn’t exactly about food but it’s always wafting into the story. But dang if the ending didn’t drop into disappointment. We are also listening to this same author’s Five Quarters to the Orange.
Start to finish watercolor I painted today.
I start with a light pencil sketch of the subject. My favorite watercolor paper is made in France with 100% rag content D’Arches 140 lb. cold press.
That means I can even soak the paper in the bathtub and will not fall apart.
Then I happily continued painting stripes, blending colors on the paper. My brushes for 25 years have been Winsor & Newton Series 233
I decided the piece was too white so I added a border- using the same three colors. But it was too light…
I did an overlay of Quinacridone Gold to deepen and brighten the stripes.
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I finally felt like I had a right to go see;
“She’s gone,” Andrew declared, “And her babies.”
Everyone had seen the mama and her two little squabs. I’d only seen the phone and iPad photos; they were a short walk from my back porch, but I just could not interrupt this little feathered mother to peek. Interrupting a mother and her newborn? No. Solidarity.
Watering the tree or mowing the grass, Andrew would peer into her nest. The mother would stay a daringly long time and then fly suddenly and low to the field where she pathetically mimed a broken wing or leg or worse, floundering about on the desert dirt, begging for you to grab her, please; leave them be.
She had trained her birdy babies well; they were still as stone; “please do not notice us; we are not here.” And the mother dove, flailing and feigning weakness, willing to sacrifice her life for two ugly barely feathered fowl.
So returning one evening from a little walk, and Andrew told me, “They’re gone.”
I finally could run out and see what everyone else had already. Her nest was silly and so low in the branches that even I could see in without a hint of tiptoe, in fact; I had to look down to see in. That’s rare.
There it was a mere mishmash of paltry twig and needles hardly big enough for a single mother, let alone her fledglings too.
And while I am quietly contemplating squabs, Matthias sends me a photo from his day. Which pretty much freaked me out. Matthias was not sweetly gazing down into a bird nest. This was Matt’s little peak at the bedding choice FOR A BEAR! Matt was looking up and the bear was looking down. And I mean, I wanted Matthias to put in some hard labor this summer and come home with lots of stories to tell. But really.
I knew there was a God lesson in all that, in the nest, in the bear. But it didn’t become clear until it had come all the way round to the bear’s bed. It seemed so sweet and easy to look at that dove and her baby birds and wistfully think how God cares even for a silly dove who builds her nest too low, safely in the backyard of suburbia. But the bear, I was not have fretting for his safety. It came round to this mother- me- and my children, that I really have to trust that “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches Matt.”
AND he stood there and got a photo!!
If ever you find yourself up against a brick wall, find someone in town who goes by the nickname of ”Tank,” ”Tank” because he is about 6 feet 12 inches tall and weighs a muscular 350 pounds; that’s it and your bacon is saved.
I was up against a brick wall literally (don’t you hate it when people say “literally” literally in every other sentence and obviously it is most assuredly not literally?) Well, in this case I was literally up against a brick wall- all my paintings had to hang somehow on a brick wall. I had no hardware. And that is what I was up against.
Andrew wasn’t with me because he was on call in some close radius to work and doing conference calls all weekend and literally saving the world from nuclear disasters. Because normally if I’d have been up against a brick wall like that, I’d have simply abdicated, abandoned, and rolled over and played dead about having to do a handyman sort of thing. And then he would have swooped in and saved the day.
But that wasn’t going to work this time so off I went to the local hardware store that sells everything in the world: wine making stuff, beer making stuff, kayak stuff, hunting elk stuff, building bridges stuff, and picture hanging stuff. And right on the teensy hook that should be holding those little four pronged thingies that would go into brick and hold a painting at the same time, that little hook was empty.
“Yah, those are all sold out,” the helpful helper told me.
I didn’t think I could use anything permanent so in the end I bought 5 different things, but the one I was putting my money on was something called “Extreme Duct Tape.” And the wrapper showed the tape holding up an Exit sign. Exit sign/picture, same thing. Up went the paintings with a little more generous strip of tape on the bigger paintings. And then I left to go visit and gad about.
And while I was sitting there lazing about visiting, all exhausted and unwinding, an alarming text arrives,
“All your paintings are falling off the wall.” (literally)
“And hitting the customers.” (unfortunately also literally)
Meanwhile (and I didn’t find this out until much, much later) Andrew and my son-in-law whom we shall call Jason are giddily texting each other about the fact that I might be able to paint but I sure am not an engineer. Or a scientist. Or anyone who would know that duct tape does not, in theory or reality, hold the world together. Ha, ha. ha.
In the end God sent an angel in the form of a big hulking guy about the size of John Henry and his hammer named “Tank;” he too had a hammer. So with one fell swoop he would whack each nail in the wall. And thus most of my painting survived unscathed.
And the really great thing is that now some of the painting are missing but it’s because people I don’t even know came in and loved them enough to buy them. That’s something.
See that little red roll of tape on the table? Yup, that’s Extreme duct tape! There they are- my paintings on the wall. Literally.
I sat across the table from a woman and fessed up that I occasionally struggle in my marriage, maybe it was a tiff I was admitting to, possibly full on battle with my husband. She countered with never ever having a problem in her marriage, ever; well, there was the one time when she thought she was mad at him but upon further reflection realized it had been a dream in which she had been mad, so, no, she actually never ever had had a marital problem. And I felt sorry for her. Not for the not fighting with her husband but rather that either
1. She could not be honest with herself about marriage, hers in particular (seriously? 24/7/365?) or
2. Her marriage was really that milquetoast blah, that nothing ever had impassioned her or her husband to react, maybe overreact to a word spoken, a slight felt, a begrudge-ment suspected, a reading too much into a spoken word. Nothing; like living a white noise marriage.
Reading Ragamufffin Gospel it all jelled for me; her halo was on too tight. It seemed she had never made peace with being flawed; she had not experienced what it means to be poor in spirit, to be sad in the knowing and admitting of sinful facets, “aware of her lack of wholeness, her brokenness, the simple fact she doesn’t have it all together… to not pretend to be anything but what she is: a sinner saved by grace.”
Having a halo on too tight means not being honest. She could not risk an imperfect marriage. The ugly result is an air of superiority, of looking down at the rabble- those who still have a fight.
“Our halo gets too tight and an attitude of moral superiority results. “And that attitude does not allow honesty; honesty would require admitting fault or failure, to admit the attachment or addictions that control our attention, dominate our consciousness, and function as false gods.”
Obvious flaws are easy but
We “can be addicted to vodka or being liked, to marijuana or being loved, to cocaine or being right, to gambling or relationships, to golf or gossiping.” We can be addicted to being seen as nice, we can be addicted to being seen as having it all together, of being unflappable, of never saying the wrong thing. Those sweet little things can actually be SIN.
We can be addicted to being perfect- I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. That is a heavy load to lug around.
“Maybe this is the heart of our hang-up, the root of our dilemma. We fluctuate between castigating ourselves and congratulating ourselves because we are deluded into thinking we save ourselves. We develop a false sense of security from our good works and scrupulous observance of the law.”
And that was that poor woman’s problem- she could not ever admit failure in her marriage; her salvation rested on it.
Brennan Manning, author of Ragamuffin Gospel, was a Franciscan priest who struggled with alcoholism, a man with a tilted halo able to encourage with spiritual reflection because he was a flawed man. Only people who know they’re flawed can really understand the wildness of grace. Some have criticized that he was too free, too liberal with God’s grace, radical grace, some might say but isn’t that precisely what makes it grace?
That crazy radical free flowing grace is what allows us to face the truth of who we are, “regardless of how threatening or unpleasant our perceptions may be. It means hanging in there with ourselves and with God. learning our mind tricks by experiencing how they defeat us, recognizing our avoidances, acknowledging our lapses, learning completely that we cannot handle it ourselves. This steady self-confrontation requires strength and courage. We cannot use failure as an excuse to quit trying.”
Hello, my name is Terri and I still occasionally fight with my husband after 34 years of marriage. Grace.
Moscow, Idaho Artwalk is happening and my work is in the event! If you are in Moscow THIS Friday evening- June 13- beginning at 5 PM, stop in at Bucer’s at 201 S Main Street and say, “Hello!”
And buy one of my paintings! and see what I’ve painted, but, I mean, buy a little something if you feel inclined. Really though pop in and say Hi.
I was pretty much thrilled to have one of my little pieces make it onto the poster too. Truth be told while Jarrett, Andrew and I were driving through hilly Pennsylvania, in fact, flying by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for which they refused, refused, to take a little detour so I could see the house, right then I received an email from an artwalk person about the onion for the advertisement poster and wondered what the title of the gourd was.
“Gourd!” What the!”
I didn’t want to offend by saying something like, “Excuse me, that is most definitely NOT a gourd; it is, in fact, an onion,”
And I didn’t think I should name it something obviously not gourd-ish like “Humble Now Exalted Onion” lest she nix the onion for the poster out of embarrassment. And when I showed my sister the onion while I was visiting her quickly in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, she quietly, under her breath, almost as an aside said,
“It does look like a gourd…”
And then we both bust up laughing and couldn’t stop even though it was midnight and everyone in the house was sound asleep and, we assumed, hoped to remain that way.
So in the end I fell upon the Spanish word for onion, “Cebolla,” which is fitting because everyday while I paint, I listen to Despierta America to recall the Spanish I once spoke.
Gosh, it’s a little like getting my children dressed up to go impress the world to select which paintings make it into the show. This is a small sampling.
”Five Eggs.” Watercolor will always be my first love media-wise.
This was inspired from an ad for something in a magazine and I just loved the lighting, the sepia, the hairless softness of the great dane.
These little fruits and vegetables have been such fun to create. These will be soooo reasonably priced you will probably want to just buy them all. (And they can be whatever fruit or vegetable you want them to be.)
These too. I have a thing for birds, and the street we live on is named after a bird- the quail up there in the right corner.
This guy is done in oil and was told he needs to dry out before he gets to come to the show, so we will see if he can manage or if he’ll still be feeling sticky.
And there will be more too both serious and whimsical… until Bucer’s cries, “Uncle,” for the multitude.
What a great summer activity- plein air painting with the kids. Pack just a few essentials and your budding artist is ready for a plein air outing:
1. watercolor set (even the kid’s set sold anywhere would be a good start)
2. paper (a little bit heavier would be best) and a board or cardboard for a ‘table’
3. brushes (the ones that come in the cheap set or add a few)
4. a few paper towels
5. some water and cups for rinsing
Pick an outdoor spot- even your own backyard and let the creativity begin.
To get ready for the event you could read Linnea in Monet’s Garden or Katie Meets the Impressionists.
Vacation evokes a visceral need for me to purge; it happens every time, and it does not matter if the places I’ve been are neat and sparse or disastrous; it’s that I manage on vacation to get by with a very small pouch of toiletries and a couple good books. And lots of great people. Which makes me wonder, “why all the stuff in my life?”
I begin going through my mind all the closets and tucked away stuff that I could let go. Size 3 Toddler tuxedo came to mind. Matthias had worn it in Meghan and Eric’s wedding and hey, you just never know when you might need a 3T tuxedo again… and the size 10R, the size 7 and the size 16. (Plus three wedding dresses…)
I thought also to part with the Classic Motorcycle Sissy Bar Bag. That brand new beauty was too good to go to Goodwill, so I listed it on Craigslist. It was a popular little item, but the first person to call was a man who was ready to come that day but we were leaving town; how about Monday?
“The afternoon would work;” he thought, “Oh no, wait a minute,” yes, he had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, “what about the morning?”
“That would be fine.”
His name was Earl; who names their son Earl these days? So I knew he was older with a medical problem which made it easier to give him my address since I’d be home alone when the deal went down.
At 10:15 Earl calls, lost. Of course I am all pity and empathy what with my lack of directional and map skills and when he finally blurts out,
“Can you just meet me at the mall parking lot?”
I am a little put out but I think,
“Poor old Earl is driving around lost on his motorcycle with a medical condition,” so I agree. (Retelling this later Taite says, “That’s good, you should meet Craigslist people in public places.)
It was easy to spot old Earl when he drove up; I hauled out the sissy bar bag and then had to show him how to mount it on his bike. And then I had to show him how to attach the included roll bag. And how to further secure the whole deal to his bike. And then he wanted to pay less than agreed price “because,” he contended, “you can get the bag local for just $2 more.”
“Uh, No.” (And I’m wondering why then he didn’t.)
I wasn’t feeling sorry for him any longer. He paid in full and I drove off while he continued to futz with the bags.
So, if you’re in need of a few boys’ tuxedos, they’re available on ebay for another day.
Meghan’s first day. Kindergarten for Pete sake. Andrew called our friend the church secretary, a single woman who popped in almost nightly to see what we were having for dinner; to see if she’d stay once he’d left for work that first of firsts. Andrew knew I’d be a wreck, heck, I already was and we had days to go so he planned to take the morning off from work. And make sure Marcia would be available. I have never even remotely been excited for my kids to leave home. They leave a hole.
The years have rolled by and the simmering sadness of another one of our children leaving for college was nearing. I knew already how it would go; this was 5th time around. Kind of like giving birth, the first time ’round you can kid yourself into thinking you might sleep through the whole thing. So I was in a funk and I knew without a doubt it was going to be hard. Again.
But I also knew it was time and that God would steer me through yet another life altering change. So last minute dreading the good bye, I bought a return ticket from State College, Pennsylvania and squirreled away in a cubby hole in the car and did the road trip too. I quietly read, renewed my passion for sudoku, snapped pictures of the clouds. And gave the much appreciated back seat driver advice.
We joked about waiting until we’d driven 2700 miles across the country for Jarrett to find housing. In the end that’s what he did. Who does that!!!?? As we hoofed our way down the street to McDonald’s for their free WiFi so we could access Craigslist- housing- sublets, I muttered the names of every person I know who would never live life on the edge like that; how any sane person would have that sort of minor detail wrapped up before the cross country trek. Gosh.
At the McDonald’s table, it came down to:
1. searching for sublets that didn’t have photos of pink and purple bedrooms
2. a warm body willing to immediately answer the phone or email back of availability
3. buying a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup McFlurry so McDonald’s wouldn’t throw us out the door.
The next day Andrew and I were flying home- separate planes- and Jarrett would be moving into the apartment of the person who called him back first, no helping Jarrett unload, no going for essentials and groceries, no helping to clean the place a little, take a little peek into his new home, nope, Jarrett just dropped us at the airport and off he drove to start the next chapter.
We (meaning not me) got the fire pit ready for business. This is that 600 pound fire pit Jarrett about sacrificed his finger for while loading it into the truck and he misjudged the placement of the two-by-fours so that he just about set the behemoth straight down on his finger. But he didn’t. Thankfully. And now it is part way in the ground in its perfect location and we now have a place to gather ’round in our backyard for conversation, warmth in the cool evening, ‘smores, and hotdog roasting. Now if April, never even mind March, would act more like a lamb we would be out there even more.
After pouring through Pinterest and then heading off on rabbit trails and then back to the fire pit ideas; we landed on simplicity.
The bottom of the cast iron is open for drainage.
A layer of cloth to keep out the pesky weeds.
Kept in place with a ring of fiberglass edging
And then rock for the stray embers.