Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Grief Observed

It's hard to believe that it was only one week ago that we rushed to Tulsa to be with my dad before he passed away.  It feels like I have lived years and years in a week.  Coming home brings the seeing that life has really only passed a span of 7 days, and we are the only ones who have aged with the suddeness that loss brings. I have only ever been on the other side, watching friends grieve the death of a close loved one.  I've felt like I was watching from the outside, peering through the windows, without knowing quite what it was like inside or how to be a comfort.  Now it's my turn inside and I'm not really sure what to do.  The chapter that I had been living in closed with such finality, and now I'm looking at the blank pages of a new one, wondering what they will bring. 



I'm not worried about my dad; there is peace in knowing that he is no longer in pain, and is celebrating in the arms of Jesus.  That brings me joy.  I'm just wondering what life is going to look like now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


A friend invited me to go foraging today for wild plums.  First of all, I don't really like plums.  My mom used to buy them for my sister, but I always thought the texture was disturbing.  But foraging sounded like way too much of adventure to pass up.  We traipsed slightly off of the trail in South Boulder along side a stretch of houses that average over a million dollars each.  (Which is not all that hard to do in Boulder)  I felt slightly sheepish as the bikes and runners whizzed by while filling my bright green HEB bag.  We didn't find many to begin with and started on the rose hips when my friend spotted a little grove across the way (and under a fence).  And along the way, we discovered the mother lode of wild aparagus.  Now you have to understand that the knowledge of wild asparagus patches are a closely guarded secret around here.  We had to promise eachother to keep the secret for a spring round-up so don't even ask, I'm not going to tell.  But it's somewhere near some wild plums.

The plums are amazing and worth the wealth of stickers we picked up as well.  Slightly sweet, and tart, and wild tasting.  They are a bit bigger than grapes and not disturbingly squishy at all.

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Don't they look amazing?  Now I have to figure out what to do with them, I didn't really plan that far ahead.

Oh, and just in case you are curious about what kind of people go foraging...well, there's me and I'm not quite sure what kind of category I fit into, and there's my friend who has a PHD in plant genetics and happens to live in one of those houses near our foraging site.  And then there's those that I have met who do it out of principal.  The founders of Celestial Seasonings started their company foraging ingredients for their teas.  So I guess I'm in good company.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Walk

I went for a walk yesterday in Old Town Lafayette.  The sidewalks were just beginning to show the offerings of fall, with occasional concrete peppered with green yellow leaves. Roscoe was pulling at his leash and I was on the lookout for something interesting to photograph.  For some reason my attention kept being drawn to a worn out building.  There was nothing really photo worthy about it so I kept walking and circling around the tree lined alleyways. (for the record, I really like alleys) But I couldn't get this building out of my mind.  It had a sort of sad feel to it.  The windows were boarded up, the doors were chained with big rusty loops and there was a tree growing out of the middle of the roof. 


So it just sat there sagging while time had its way.  I couldn't help wondering what kind of dreams it once held.  What kind of story it could tell if it had a voice.  The street it sat on was wide and quiet.  What once used to be a main thoroughfare now sees only the occasional neighborhood traffic.  The city grew and changed, moving its hustle and bustle to a newer location. 


I stood there and could almost imagine the voices and laughter that the hope of new ideas and dreams bring.  Maybe the promise of a new future.  But the people left.  And the building still stands there as a sort of memorial to the history that passed through that place.  I wondered if they had found what they were looking for, or if they had left disappointed.  I wondered if the things that I am excited about in my life will build any sort of last memorial, or will be left, like this building, as only an empty, forgotten reminder when I have moved on.


Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Bit of Dick Van Dyke

We love NPR on Saturdays.  In fact, we will sit in the car even after arriving at our destination if "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" is on.  It's our favorite show.  "Car Talk" comes in a distant second.  So they had Dick Van Dyke on the other day. My poor, deprived children had never heard of Dick Van Dyke.  Obviously I had missed a crucial element in their upbringing.  Anxious to correct my parental error, and eager to share a part of my childhood, we you-tubed the Dick Van Dyke show.  Not 5 minutes into the show, I began to wiggle a little uncomfortably.  The mum in the show seemed to act an awful lot like, well, me.  (minus the dress and high heels).  Then standing behind me I heard a giggle.  Well, it wasn't exactly a giggle because it was a man-giggle.  If it were from a girl, it would have been called a giggle, but since the sound was coming from a man, it had a much more manly sound and should, perhaps, be called a chuckle.  The chuckling turned into a full blown laugh combined with the loud revelation (that I was hoping would go unnoticed) that the chuckler's darling wife was exactly like the character played by Mary Tyler Moore.  He wanted to expand the now scientific study by watching more old Nick at Nite reruns that comprised those formative tv watching years.  But I gracefully demured.  After all, too much expose could ruin the mystery.  In my defense, it was a very small comparative study as we only watched the one show in which little Richie was presumably sick because he turned down the chocolate cupcake.  And really, it could have been much worse.  What kind of person would I be if I had grown up watching Redneck Zombies?  Now I need to go dig out some high heels, surely I have some around here somewhere...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Notes

I have trouble thinking of a title most times.  And when I do, I have this annoying tendency to add -ness to whatever it is.  (If you haven't noticed, then forget I said that, and don't start noticing now.) I should just label them with the days of the week.  And what do you say when days like today are just a mish mash of random notes? And when the only reason I am blogging is because I am putting off what needs to be done?

The dogs broke into the chicken run the other night. We know it was a team effort because only one dog is strong enough to rip apart the gate and the other dog left her hair in the wire when she squeezed through.  (And she wanted to avoid retribution, so she refused to come out of the garage...who me?)  They weren't after our sweet little chickens though-they were after the leftover noodles we threw in there.  After all, if you're going to commit a heinous crime, you should at least have sufficient motivation.

I was initially thrilled as my cherry tomatoes started coming in.  I kept arranging them in cheery heaps on the counters.  But then they REALLY started coming in, and the bigger tomatoes with them. I was secondly mildly alarmed at the amount, then completely overwhelmed.  So I started eating them with everything and sneaking them into stuff for the kids.  Drying them, making sauce, salsas, bruschetta, and finally passing them off on my neighbors.  Lunch is often a broiled toast with tomatoes, cheese, olive oil and fresh basil.


A word about dates:  I just discovered, thanks to The Raw Chef, that you can make a date paste to use in baked goods instead of sugar.  I blended dates with a bit of water and vanilla yesterday for the sweet in our scones.  They were delightfully scrumptious.

Aidan is doing so much better.  He's back at school this week and last night I caught him (and stopped him) wrestling with the neighborhood boys in the front yard. (Chloe was in the act too as she was about to take on two bigger boys at once) He doesn't get his cast on until Monday and I am hoping the splint lasts until them.  It's a raggedy and fuzzy and the ace bandage is tearing off of it. 

Well, off to eat some more tomatoes...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Today is a sort of back-to-school day for me.  I've given myself an internal deadline to finish my course on professional photography.  I'm nearly to the end and have been finding it a bit hard to find the motivation for the final push.  But fall is my favorite time to study.  There's something about chilly mornings and rainy days that make me want to grab my notebook and a cup of coffee and start my lessons.  Before I start sharpening the crayons though, here are a few more pics from our summer adventures in Oregon.

One of the highlights of our trip was the trip to my brother's farm.
Everybody who knows Chloe can imagine how much this scene made her happy.

Making bread.

Aidan was nearly giddy with delight at the chance to run his uncle's backhoe.

Not about to let the boys have all the fun.

8 cousins + 7 more friends of the family=some crazy fun.

The yard, trampoline, and pool were full of laughing, scrambling kids as they careened from one imaginary game to another. 

To top it all off: ice cream sundaes with TILLAMOOK ice cream.  It's no wonder they didn't want to go home.

And oh yes, I found some old wood and wire.  Happy sigh.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oregon Part 3

Give my kids a river and some rocks to play on and they are in paradise.

Um yeah, this was obviously pre-broken arm.  But the action of leaping is coincidentally what caused the accident....hmm.

The nicest old man shared his can of mixed nuts (I had to be careful how I worded that) with the kids so they could feed the chipmunks.  Chloe waited the looongest time before some came and ate out of her hand.  My sis and I were holding our breath knowing that she was on the verge of a tears.  But sure enough, they cautiously came tip toeing up-as only little chipmunks can-and left Chloe with an empty hand and the hugest grin.

Some crazy cousin love.

Aidan helping his younger cousin across the river.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Dog's Boy

Roscoe had to stay outside the whole day yesterday because I was worried about his puppy-in-a-big-dog's-body/bull-in-a-china closet syndrome. And I didn't want him jostling his favorite playmate. (I'm not sure if he thinks Aidan is a puppy or he is a little boy, but either way, Aidan is his roughhouse buddy of choice. We finally broke him of the habit of slyly reaching up and nipping Aidan in the bum when he walked by as he tried to antagonize his boy into playing) But I didn't need to worry. Roscoe immediately sensed something wasn't quite right and didn't even pull his favorite trick of frantically licking anybody laying on the floor. Instead, he cautiously and respectfully lay down with his head on Aidan's feet, comforting him in the only way he was able.

(A tiny disclaimer: this pic was taken with Chris' blackberry.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Other Side

But first of all, a note about a sweet little nurse. Aidan is sleeping on the blow up mattress in the living room. He drifted off with Chloe holding his hand and singing a lullaby. She bedded down on the couch next to him so that she could be near if he needed anything, eagerly hopping up everytime he needs a drink. She cheerfully endured 5 hours in the waiting room this morning and didn't get at all irritated when her big brother responded in a cranky manner as she fed him crackers in the car. She may have found her calling. All big brothers should be so blessed to have a such a little sis like this one.

The other side doesn't seem so scary. When you come to the part past that really hard thing; it would be easy to forget why you were stressed in the first place. It would be easy to shove the whole pile of turmoil under the relief. But remembering brings a whole new gift with it. It reminds me of the friends who carried my burdens and were brave for me when I wasn't able to be brave on my own. Who guarded my heart with me when I was fighting my own inner turmoil. Friends who stayed up late, and woke up early, thinking and praying for my boy, and his momma. Who fed us and loved on us. Neighbors who picked up our milk, and took out our trash, because I forgot.


And I hope that the next time I hear of somebody who is freaked out about something, I will not think they need to be braver or stronger or tougher. I hope I will remember how not brave, not strong, and not tough I was, and give the same compassion and grace that I have been given. And I'll remember how it felt to not be alone, and I'll give my hand for somebody else to hold.