Tuesday, October 14, 2014

moving glitches

Just a note:  the blue "join this site" button at the new address is [temporarily, I hope] out of order.

Fortunately, there is a way around that - click on the tiny red boxes to the right of the blue button, and a window will pop up displaying followers.  At the top right of that window is a "follow" button.  Click that and you'll be able to go through the usual process to receive new posts.

Thank you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

moving time

Hi there!

Guess what?  I finally lit on the right name for this blog, and to celebrate its fit-ness, I not only renamed, but re-designed my life: in short.

Hop over to the new site with me?  All the content from my life: in short will be there, and I hope you'll join me for the move.  I am so grateful for all of you who - by reading what I wrote, by commenting, by coming up to me in church to tell me that you liked a post - have walked with me through the past few years.

The new name is based on that time when someone very kind told me that my writing "makes the ordinary holy."  Suddenly a long-forgotten piece of a poem sprang from the depths of my memory, perfectly encapsulating what I want to do with my writing:  point you to the fire of God in the everyday.

I read to know I'm not alone.  I write in hopes of showing others - you, sometimes? - that they're not alone, either.

If you've enjoyed following my life: in short, you can join the new site to continue receiving content.

See you over there!

[update on the blue "join this site" button at the new address, which is temporarily out of order - if you click the tiny red boxes to the right of the blue button, a window will pop up.  Click the "follow" button to the top right of that window and you'll be able to sign up!  Thanks!!]

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

passing through shadow

The moon was still nearly full when I pulled myself from bed at the usual too-early time.  I'd almost forgotten about the eclipse - and how quickly it would go - and by the time my shower had woken me up, the earth's shadow had eroded the moon to a slim, shining sliver.

I rushed through coffee prep, grabbed my inadequate camera and binoculars, turned on the porch light, and stumbled over fallen walnuts out to the middle of the backyard, where no branches would obscure my view.

The porchlight started flashing.  I turned, saw my Farmer silhouetted in the doorway, and waved.  When he didn't come out, I went up to investigate.  Turns out he'd seen the glow from my camera's display, and thought there were bioluminescent mushrooms growing on the stump I was using as my tripod.

Meanwhile, the moon had turned reddish, passing through the penumbra of the earth's shadow, reflecting "all the sunrises and sunsets in the world, all at once."

The girls traipsed out in their pajamas, barefoot in the cool dew.  Taking turns with the binoculars, we watched as the moon sank in the sky, grew dimmer and dimmer.

We never did see the "turquoise band" resulting from reflected ozone.  Photos online were much more spectacular than the ones I took, than even the reality that we saw, despite a forecast-defying unclouded sky.

So a shadow passed over the moon, temporarily obscuring its brilliance and shading it rusty-red.  Cars hurried to work just yards to our left, buggies, pickups with ladders and tools on their way to build things, fix things.  No one slowed to watch the spectacle.  Perhaps no one noticed there was one.

I wouldn't have missed it, though.

When we could barely distinguish the morning-faded moon from the morning itself, we headed back inside - me to cook the eggs, them to read abed, and dress.

Quietly, masked by daylight, the moon emerged from shadow and once again - to the other side of the world - reflected sunlight fully.

Friday, October 03, 2014

what I saw, when I looked ...

Some days look bleak. . . .

. . . until I slow down,
lean in,
peer closer,

The more closely I look, the more beauty I see.

God lavishly "wastes" his creative design 
on weeds,
inside trees,
even in the midst
of decay.

All over the ordinary,
he hides

All it takes to see it
a seeker.

have a look!

(I started inside the house)

Sugar's eye.
Is there anything like the human eye to stir wonder?!
The colors it can see...
The emotions it can communicate...

The zipper!!  The colors!! 
(No, God didn't make it, but he tucked it away in a thrift store for me to find,
knowing that its bright design and pockets galore would delight me.)

Glass.  Water.  Mums.

Glossy kernels of Indian corn & popcorn.
Think of the explosion of popcorn!
The transformation of Indian corn into meal, and again into bread.
Edible art.

(I headed outside)

 Raspberries!  Giant ones, too, glowing in the sun.
He could have made us to live on mere grass, you know.
Berries are pure gift.

And speaking of grass - have you ever seen anything
as the green, green grass of summer?
Emeralds don't even come close.

This purple-mauve gem of a weed is called Pennsylvania smartweed.
Like the indiscriminate rain,
flowers spring from the earth for the just and the unjust alike,
free for the looking.

Humble tansy, holding its world of yellow blossoms,
and the humble ant in his gleaming everyday suit.

The sepals on this flamboyant pokeweed!
Almost plastic perfection.
Did you ever see such fuchsia?!

 Who would ever suspect this powdery unassuming plant of a powerful fragrance
used to calm everything from digestion to anxiety?

Asiatic dayflower.
Just a delicate, frilly little weed.

Even in fall - season of death and decay - beauty is tucked away . . .

 Dogwood fruits amongst dying leaves, beside next year's blossoms-to-be.

Fallen leaf, caught in the sunlit angles of decaying poplar wood.

Lil' Spice's loud cries brought me running, sure he was hurt.
He held out his best, favorite leaf:
"It broke!!"

Between two sheets of wax paper,
we mended it.

Translucent fish scales, like delicate miniature seashells!
(Even fish scales are touched with beauty!)

Every seed pod, unique to its species.
Does He never run out of ideas?!
To tuck hard, dry, withered little kernels of life
inside fibrously whiskered cavities 

where just weeks ago
tissue-thin petals of palest pink had been?

Intricate network of veins on a poplar leaf - a study in fractal art.

Crabapple among clover.

 Leaf lace

Dried echinacea "pincushion"

 Star Magnolia flowerbuds
forming spring's lavish creamy blossoms
like a caterpillar in chrysallis
unfolding into

Chrysanthemum bud, blushing into blooms
to brighten autumn.

And God's greatest handiwork of all
is us,
of course.

No flower
or common creature
could have a sense of humor
a boy!

May God bless you
with opened eyes
to see
what He lays


before you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quiet Time

If you are observant, you will have noticed that, e. e. cummings*-style, I neglect to capitalize the titles of my blog posts.  This is to remind myself of how little importance my opinions are.  ([grin] - I'm not sure how effective that is, but it's an attempt, anyway).

Perhaps you have noticed that the title of this post is capitalized.

That is because of its great importance.  I always write about Quiet Time in capital letters.  I even try to speak about it in capital letters, although that is, admittedly, more difficult.

Since time immemorial we have observed Quiet Time in our family.  Originally we called it naptime (I didn't always think to capitalize it then), but as the nappers grew fewer in number - and greater in age - naptime became a misnomer and we transitioned to Quiet Time.

This is what Quiet Time is (for our family):

1)  Everyone is in a separate room (if possible).

2)  No one talks.

3)  Mommy (that's me) gets to read, or nap, or have a snack,
or talk on the phone to a friend without interruptions.
Sometimes, all of the above.

Since it started out as naptime, it was easy at first.  Of course it was quiet; they were asleep!  

But then they stopped needing sleep.  Then it got hard (for a time).  I put on calming music and gave them books to look at and told them no talking.  Someone-who-shall-remain-nameless required quite a bit of training in this.  I had to give up, for a time, my own nap/snack/phone conversation in order to sit in her room with her, at the ready should any corrections be needed (and they usually were). 

Eventually, though, everyone got the hang of it and it stopped being hard and instead became a Thing of Exquisite Beauty, well worth the initial effort required.

In our house now, every day at one o'clock, the children all gather in the livingroom (or the playroom, if Lego projects are in progress) and sit more or less quietly while I read aloud to them from a book.  This is a cozy time and the prime seats are considered to be on either side of Mommy, snuggled up against one shoulder or the other, following along in the book du jour.

By one-thirty, we're usually "right at a good place!" but my throat is parched and after all, it is time to begin Quiet Time, so we put the book away till tomorrow.  If it's a weekday, Sugar, Spice, and Nice gather their schoolbooks and whatever "fun" book they're in the middle of, and Lil' Snip puts a few toys and books into his basket, and up the steps they all go.

* * * sigh * * *

And for the next hour and a half, the house is quiet (except for Lil' Snip's signature request for a bum-wipe:  "I did a poooooo!").

And Mommy gets to read her book, or take a nap, or talk to a friend on the phone without any interruptions.

And when three o'clock arrives, restored by solitude, we are happy to see each other again.

And that, my gentle reader, is Quiet Time.

* [I feel it only honest to add that I know nothing of the poet e. e. cummings other than his uncapitalized name, and what wikipedia just told me.]

Saturday, September 20, 2014

proof positive

For those of you who read my last post and are feeling concerned about my qualifications for motherhood, I want to reassure you (if it were possible) with the following facts:

(First, I know I don't deserve them.  No one ever deserves the gifts they are given.)

I love to hug my children and they hug me back.  The feeling of one of my offspring snuggled up trustingly beside me is immeasurably precious.

They smile when I kiss them.

I enjoy working beside them, cooking, or sewing, or doing yardwork.  I even enjoy teaching them these things.

According to them (despite my offering proofs to the contrary), I am a kind, patient, and funny mother who is never selfish and always puts them first.  (Let's just chalk that up to the optimism of youth, shall we?)

I love giving them good things - a favorite meal, a sweet treat, a small gift picked up while I'm running errands - just to see their faces light up with pleased surprise.

They trust me.  Confide in me.  Offer their journals to me to read.

I ask for their opinions and preferences when we make schedule changes or plan family week (photos coming soon ... !).

They still call me Mommy, despite hearing their friends move on to "Mom."

Most of my waking hours are spent considering what is best for them.  They fill my prayer time; God has heard more from me about my children than about any. other. thing.

I trust them.  I regularly answer their "Should I ___ or ____ ?" with a confident "You may choose.  I trust your judgement."

It's true that I dearly love Quiet Time.  It's true that evenings, after the children are in bed and it's just me and my Farmer, are one of my favorite times of the day.  It's true that I look forward all month to the time when my own mom comes to spend the day with my children so that I can (one sweet day a month) meet a friend, or go shopping for fun, or walk in the park with just my thoughts and the birds to listen to.

I am wired for solitude.

And I am a mother.

And I love my children.

[I just don't love to play their games.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

child's play

There are times, I will admit, when - caught without a legitimate reason to decline - I get roped into coloring with Lil' Snip, and I end up enjoying it.

Times when the playdough comes out and he's been deprived of my company to a guilt-inducing extent and before I know it, I'm rolling and sculpting, having fun.

And then, there are times like today.

When I'm on the floor, prone, a reluctant driver of Hess trucks (I never get the one I want, no matter how sincerely he seems to be offering it; in Lil' Snip lingo "Which one do you want?" is code for "Which one do you think I want you to have?"), and I succumb.

As soon as he seems to be adequately involved in truckplay, I close my eyes and take a micro-nap until he notices, which I am happy to say can be an entire minute or longer.

Just wanted you to know, from one "supermom" to another.  {*wink*}

Monday, September 08, 2014

how to (mostly but not really) ruin bread

Bleary-eyed, I should have gone to bed a crazy hour ago, but as usual I'm smitten with must-have-recovery-time-itis and am staying up way past tired in order to .... um .... read facebook and tell you about today's bread-baking fail.

I was going to teach Spice, who is always eager to get her hands on a new kitchen skill.  Actually, Sugar was assigned to teach Spice, but then Sugar got wrapped up in making a K'Nex tow-truck for His Imperial Majesty Lil' Snip, and as I would always rather work in the kitchen than with toys of any kind (although I must admit that K'Nex and Legos, once you are roped into using them, are head and shoulders above *shudder* dolls), I quickly acquiesced to a change in plans:  K'Nex for Sugar, bread-baking lessons for me and Spice.

Spice eagerly located the recipe, read it twice per my instructions, and assembled her ingredients.  She measured and stirred like a pro, and only turned it over to me when her arm was exhausted.  I got the kneading started and then gave her a shot at it.  Her hands are still too small for a three-loaf batch of dough, but she gave it her best effort, and compensated nicely for her handicap.

We tucked it into the warmed oven to rise. . . .

. . . . came back at the timer's cue to punch down the bread and shape the loaves.  This time Spice just watched the shaping.  Another time or two, with her sharp eyes recording every nuance of motion, and she'll be ready to do it herself.  We set the resting loaves back into the oven to rise a second time, timer cued once more.

When it rang, I set the loaves on the counter, turned the oven on, and paid some bills while I waited for the "click" that signals the oven has reached temperature.  Placed the loaves into the heated oven, and then set the timer for 20 minutes - guesstimating because I'd let an known number of minutes go by before remembering the timer.

It called me back all too quickly and I pulled open the oven door to check them.  Wow, they got big ... but still too pale.  A few more minutes, then.

Five minutes later they were still awfully pale.  And then it dawned on me:

The oven was on WARM.


Not, for instance, 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as the recipe specifies, and as I have successfully accomplished for each of the roughly 18 million previous times I've made bread.

Nope.  "Warm."

Well, there was nothing for it but to crank up the heat to 350 and hope for the best.  I mournfully apologized to Spice for ruining her first ever batch of bread, and she cheerfully offered to help me mix up another batch.

I am here to tell you that if you let bread rise for 30 minutes in an oven set on warm, after it has already risen for its allotted time of 30 minutes, and only then turn the heat on to the proper temperature . . . .

. . . . the world does not end.  The bread, despite my pessimistic certainty, was not even really ruined.  The center of each loaf will be too crumbly for sandwiches, to be sure, but it tastes great.  We'll snack on it, or at worst, turn it into bread crumbs for all those recipes that I don't use that require breadcrumbs.

So it often goes with life:  Something [small] goes awry.  Unplanned.  Skewed.  I lose my cool, convinced that all is now doomed.

And life goes blithely on, largely unaffected by the bumps in the road that I mistook for mountains.

{I dunno, ya think there's a lesson in here somewhere??}

Tell Me a Story

Friday, August 29, 2014

the proper way to honor a potato

"Ahhh," says I, fully satiated after our supper of roasted red potatoes, peas, roast chicken, and watermelon, "now that was a meal!"

"Yup!" agrees Spice, "some people don't like to eat hearty, but we do!!"

She is right.  We do!  And if you, like us, enjoy eating "hearty", here is a recipe for your files:

Roasted Red Potatoes

(I'm pretty sure you will enjoy these no matter what kind of potatoes you use - I've used all kinds - but the ones we had tonight were especially spectacular, probably because my Farmer grew them in the richly pampered soil of the chemical-free CSA farm he manages a few miles from our house.  (click to visit the farm blog, facebook page, and local harvest listing)  They were tender-skinned red potatoes, a variety called Chieftain, turned out of the earth just days ago.)

So here's what you do:

Preheat the oven - 450 degrees Fahrenheit and not one degree less.  This is not the recipe to skip preheating.

Parboil the potatoes (we decided it must mean "partially boil" but never did look it up) - basically cook them in water so that they're not raw, but not perfectly soft, either.  If you're a purist, you'll boil them in their jackets (that's "skins" to us regular people).  If you're short on time, like I was, you'll cut them first - cubes, wedges, half-wedges, as you like 'em - and then parboil them.  Took about 10 minutes.

Drain the water (eternal optimist that I am, I saved the water for potato bread that I probably won't get around to making.  Feel free to pour yours down the pipes.)

Gently tumble the parboiled potatoes into a 9x13 glass pan (or if you like scrubbing, use a metal pan - do they even make those anymore?).

Add oil - peanut is what I used - and seasonings (I recommend salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and thyme).

Carefully turn the potatoes into the oil and seasonings.

Roast 40-60 minutes.  

Resist stirring, except for twice.  Trust me on this.  You will interfere with the incredible french-fry-like crust that forms if you stir too often.  So set your oven timer for 20 minutes and go read (or rot your brain on facebook or something).  You may stir when it rings, and not before!  Add more paprika if you want the potatoes to brown more, or faster.  Add oil (more peanut, or coconut) if your potatoes drank up their first dousing.  Then 20 more minutes of whatever, stir again, 20 more minutes and you're ready to call the family to the feast!

And a feast it is.  I sincerely hope that your roasted potatoes are every bit as satisfyingly delicious as ours were.

(We were too busy eating to take pictures at the table, and the only reason there were any potatoes left over to photograph later is because we were also eating roast chicken, our all-time favorite!)

(If you're a local reader, you can better your odds by signing up for a share at my Farmer's farm!  Late entries to the season are pro-rated.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

several thousand words (2)

What's been going on at the "buretachi" homestead lately (other than wording rants about chivalry)?  Take a look - you know what they say a picture's worth:

mycological mountain find

honoring our favorite mycologist's birthday

sauerkraut, the way we like it

men at work

husking the bounty

Golden Jubilee and Butter & Sugar

my Don Juan rose - perfection!

hibiscus secrets

guess who's pleased with her useful new skill?

the usual suspects

a night on the town

King's X - a new genre for me

rain + campfire + umbrella = contentment

the mystery caterpillar emerges from its cocoon

spectacular detail!

Luna Moth, released onto the crepe myrtle

Happy Birthday, Spice!

confection-esque hydrangea 

fiery gladiolus 

look what someone left for me on the counter!

beaming playhouse resident

the first tray of pfeffernusse ... ahhhhh!!

peeking around a tree near you ....!

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