Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Than Enough

I had a “routine” cancer screening last week.  On Friday night, after 8 p.m. I had an incoming call with the Naval Hospital exchange listed. I felt my heart stop for a minute.  They don’t call you at 8 p.m. from the Naval Hospital to say, “Hey, Annie, thanks for being such a great patient and have a Merry Christmas.” There’s a problem with that test which I have to wait to unravel until after the first of the year.
For a few hours, the ground under my feet gave way.  I wasn’t up for more health challenges.  Finally I dug into Psalm 46, you know, the one that says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  That has been a much loved verse for many years.  As I read through that Psalm and took in the study notes, I had a revelation. 
“Be still and know that I am God,” sounds gentle.  The original Hebrew words for “be still” are a bit different.  The study notes told me that what God actually said was an imperative that would sound something like this.  ENOUGH!  Enough!  I am God.
That Word from God dried up my tears and hiccupping pretty quickly.   Those words were just the same as a parent would say to a child in the midst of a tantrum or to unruly children making entirely too much noise.  ENOUGH!  My mother and father have both said that to me many times.
Does He say “ENOUGH” to us because He can’t deal with us for one more minute?  No.  He says “ENOUGH” because He wants us to hear what comes next.  “I am God.”  Stop your panic.  Stop your noise.  Stop your tears.  ENOUGH! I am God.

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough
(Chris Tomlim sings it a lot better than I do.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Papa's Jacket

It was my Papa's birthday at the end of last week.  I was out at my Mom's in Williamsburg on Wednesday taking some things to Goodwill.  In preparation for this post, I took the pic you see above.  The problem was, I just couldn't sit down to write about it.

This is Papa's jacket, where he left it that last time he left Williamsburg and went back to Atlanta for more treatment.  We all kind of stroke it when we walk past, a visible talisman; a touchstone of the person who never has really left us in our thoughts.

When I wrote his eulogy, I put in a section about how much I would miss his coffee.  He made the best coffee, infused with either cinnamon or allspice.  I'd look forward to having it every time we were together.  When I wrote his eulogy, I mentioned that it was a blessing that the last time he handed me a cup, I didn't know it really was going to be the last time.

I did pretty well during the eulogy, but when I looked down at my notes about the coffee, I knew that I couldn't get through that part.  In order to maintain my compsure, I skipped it.   That thing about the "last time" really gets to me.  I know where he is, but I really miss him. Who knew that the last time he hung his Williamsburg jacket on the hook that it was really going to be the last time?

I mean, brethren, the appointed time has been winding down and it has grown very short.
1 Corinthians 7:29, Amplified version

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lessons About God from a Dog

I have struggled for my entire life to understand the love of God.  There, I said it.  For various reasons, I have often been overwhelmed with my concept of myself, a flawed human being, loved despite all my mistakes by a perfect God.
I know all the theology involved, but there is a difference between comprehending something in your head and feeling something deep within your being.  I understand objectively that Jesus has already paid the price for my sin, but my innate ability to be incredibly hard upon myself causes me to feel separated from God’s love a lot of the time.  Mind you, I could tell any one of you reading this why you are always loved by God.  I could cite the correct chapters and verses, but inside I’ve often felt that they applied to everyone but me.
God has presented me with lessons over the years which helped me better understand Him and his everlasting love for me, but I just couldn’t take it on board.  And then God sent Lulu.
I’ve had some great dogs; Alex, Maxine, Lupa, Little Bit, Francis, and now Lulu, the best gift of them all.  Lulu doesn’t do a lot of tricks.  She sits and she walks well on the leash.  Lulu looks adorable and everyone who sees her loves her.  Like most of the best things in life, she was free.  A neighbor called me and asked me to come look at the stray dogs in her yard.  One of them was Lulu.
God has truly used Lulu in my life to help me understand His unconditional love.  You see, sometimes Lulu does bad stuff.  She doesn’t mean to, she just can’t help digging big holes in the yard.  When she digs, she tracks in unbelievable amounts of dirt that I have to sweep up.  Much like God has to sweep up after me.
Last week, she decided to dig the pillow top thingey on top of the mattress.  There was “memory foam” everywhere and a guilty little dog licking her lips while I stood there saying, “Did you do THAT?”
But here’s the deal.  I didn’t love her any less.  I know her heart.  I know she loves me and she wants to please me.  She sometimes has a hard time controlling her impulses, but her heart is in the right place. 
When Lulu loves on you, she just leans into your chest, rests her head on your shoulder, and puts her whole weight on you.  This is what God wants me to do with Him.  Then He says, “Good girl.”  He knows my heart. It took a stray white dog to teach me that.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Ick Factor

It’s the story, of a crufty bathtub which was growing nasty mold upon the grout…(to the musicians, sing to the tune of “Brady Bunch”)
Okay, my bathtub has ISSUES.  My house is almost one hundred years old and the tub is nearly that old.  Not charming, claw footed, and Victorian old.  Just old.   I looked into replacing it, but the length is smaller than is standard today.  There is a slender wall that separates it from the commode which cannot be removed without the ceiling coming down.  I said commode because I think it sounds more genteel than toilet.
I had the tub refinished which worked well for ten years. Then the grout between the tub and the tile got icky.  Icky is a professional plumbing term.  I tried everything to clean it.  Then I asked the handier member of the house to take over.   The project just kind of sat because he’s kinda busy.  Then he happened upon a product that is a sort of a tape which can replace traditional grout.  Eureka.
Only it wasn’t applied right and kept peeling off.  The grout underneath was ickier than ever.  So I pulled the tape off.  I shut my mouth about the public housing project appearance in my tub, cleaning it as best I could.  Finally I asked that it be scheduled for repair. Three months later an expert job was done that looks like this.
Okay, are you kidding me?
What is up with that color?                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
So I went nuts over the two-year bathtub saga with my good friend, Terry.  She gave me wise words of reason.  Finally, I addressed the “plumber” saying “Hey awesome job that you did on the tub.  I was so blessed by not seeing the nasty grout this morning.  What was your thinking about the color?”
“That’s the only color it comes in.”
“No, I just went to Lowes, they sell it in white.  They were just out of stock.  You got the color they call “biscuit.”
“Biscuit was a color?”
“Yeah, what did you think?”
“I thought biscuit referred to the round shape the roll of tape came in.”
This post brought to you by “Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus” and the exclamation “arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On The Fifth Day of December My Friend Nancy Gave To Me…

The last vegetables from her garden…festively

Aren’t we lucky to have such a long growing season here in the Tidewater area of Virginia?  My friends are such a blessing to me.  Look at this basket of vegetables, looking very holly jolly and Christmas-y in red and green.  I made potato leek soup from that basket and used the green peppers in baked ziti that I brought to the civic league meeting last night. And I still have some vegetables left over!

I always get creative when my mother or a friend blesses me with something from the store.  They often give me things I don’t ordinarily buy, like leeks in Nancy’s case or citron in my mother’s.  That citron looks like some crazy thing from another planet, but it smelled exotically wonderful and tasted even better used with a chicken recipe. 
The unusual items get my creative juices flowing.  This makes me think that I should be more adventurous at the grocery store and buy my own unusual items from time to time.

We all have ruts of thinking, ruts in cooking, and ruts in our routine.  So shake it up.  Buy something new to try like parsnips or garam masala or a different type of flavored coffee.  Mix up your Bible reading and devotional time.  I had my devotions outside today, because the temperature is in the 70’s.  God makes all things new again, but we can cooperate, get with His program, and try something out of the usual routine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I had an impromptu gathering of old friends and new neighbors yesterday...just some baked brie, apples and crackers with some Goldfish and chocolate milk for the kids.  As I looked around the house, I just didn't think it looked Christmas-y enough for guests.  I know I'm not called to be Martha Stewart with housing perfection, but I just felt a little burst of energy to do something...well, different,

Things being tight, I thought about what I had on hand.  This is what I came up with in about twenty minutes.  My "assistant" did the lights.
I have a large stairwell which can be seen from the foyer and the living room.  I thought this would be a fun place for a tree.

This lovely doll with a bisque face was sent by a wonderful blog reader a while back.  Her daughter works at my local Goodwill.
We used to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on December 5 when I was a kid.  My mother outdid herself on holidays.  We would wake up to find candy and little toys in our shoes, which was the tradition.  Yesterday was Saint Nicholas Day, which must have been how I came up with the stuff in the shoes.  Please note the initials on the suitcase, which once belonged to a Mary Lou Kennedy.  The inner-city children we mentored firmly believed that this was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s suitcase "back in the day."
My Nana's engagement picture.  Annie, my great-grandmother, made her dress.

Enjoy the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Beloved Waltons....How on earth could it be 40 years?

Just in case you guys didn't see this on Friday, I want to share something wonderful with you.  The Walton family reunited on the Today Show with Matt Lauer to talk about old times.  How on earth can John Boy (Richard Thomas) look just the same?

When things were falling apart with my own mother and father, they were there.  Maybe we need to find them again.  In the despair of the Depression and of World War II, they triumphed...together.  They made do...together.  They prayed, they ate together as a family, and met every challenge...together. I loved them.  Check out the link below.

Good night John Boy.  Good night Mary Ellen.  Good night Ben.  Good night Elizabeth.  Ahhhhh, home.  Did you know the narrator was Earl Hamner, Jr., the real John Boy?  Cue the harmonica music.  Good night, everyone.

Stuff It!

Looking for a cheap fix for dinner?  You can’t go wrong with a baked stuff potato or yam.  Yams were on sale for me locally at 28 cents a pound, so I stocked up.
You can stuff a baked potato with almost anything and it turns out tasty.   What goes into a stuffed baked potato?  Leftover diced chicken, turkey, pork or beef.  Leftover vegetables like peas, carrots, corn, broccoli or asparagus.  Black beans are really yummy stuffed into a baked potato.  Chili is equally so and needs nothing but a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top. Baked potatoes and yams are very forgiving as to what you put on top.  Those little drips and drabs of leftovers that are too small to use for another meal tend to be just perfect.  Use either a simple white sauce, cheese sauce, or gravy to mix your other ingredients together.     You can find recipes for any of these on the Internet. 
The combination pictured is leftover diced turkey and a half a bag of mixed vegetables mixed together with a cheapo packet of sale gravy mix I added water to.  I had a very small amount of leftover sour cream and mixed that in.  I stuffed each yam with that mixture, two for our Friday dinner and two more for weekend lunches.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Like a Gingerbread House

This charming Craftsman-style stone cottage is in a neighborhood not too far away.  Something about this house just speaks to me.   Perhaps the charm is that the home is constructed like some country cottages I grew up around in Connecticut, with the same stone fence.  Farmers in Connecticut, ever frugal New Englanders, used the rocks removed from the fields while plowing to build walls for their hones and fences for their property.  Like this one:
This time of year, I always think the house looks like a gingerbread cottage.  Like this one from Country Living's website:
How adorable is that shredded wheat "thatched" roof?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's December!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...
Brenda at Cozy Little House did a terrific blog entry showing how she decorated with candy canes.  This is how I copied uhhhhhh this is my homage to Brenda.
For those of us who have a lot of white in our decor, Brenda was correct that the humble candy cane can punch up our Christmas decor for next to nothing.  I am so thankful for all the bloggy girls out there who are committed to blessing their homes in a frugal way.  I learn so much from each one.