Friday, November 30, 2007

Two Short Stories

Story number One

Our little Ezra is learning to hang up the laundry. When I say learning, I mean trying. The other day Gibbie and I were hanging laundry. After flinging maybe a dozen pieces of wet clothes straight behind him, Ever found a small, red, outgrown baby sock. As long as your thumb. With both hands, he put that wee sock on the lowest dowel, right in the corner. If fell off. He picked it up, in two hands, and oh so carefully placed it back up on the rod. Down it dropped. Again and again. Patiently, carefully, deliberately, he hung that sock up again and again. It never stayed. He just didn't know how to balance it, or stretch it out enough to make it work, but he set it up there again and again.

I thought, I am like that baby. Right now in life-- trying and trying to do something I simply can't yet do.

Story number Two

So I was at the house of this woman whom I respect and like and admire. Being at her house and being around her herself is like drinking a glass of water. Sitting on a rock, having a drink; refreshing.

We were talking and I, who can't stop talking, who am compelled to keep a stream of words going, uninterrupted, to my own peril, didn't have much to say. Her house was peaceful. Not like she'd just cleaned, but like it just was. There was soup on the stove, and it smelled good. It was cold outside and we'd come on the bus, all bundled up against the cold. The kids were busy with a box of plastic animals on the floor.

I said how I always read read read, always all the time, how I fill up all my moments with out stopping, and don't take time to stop, to listen, to be with God.

She interrupted me--"Are you afraid of something?
I never stopped and I realized I was afraid to be still... and it was like He said--What if I just want to hold you?"

We stayed all morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Egg and Laundry Thoughts

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban is one of our very favoritest books around here right now. Inspired by her, we have been having lots of soft-boiled eggs in the morning.
As Frances' father said, "What a lovely egg! If there is one thing I am fond of for breakfast, it is a soft-boiled egg."
"Yes," said Mother, spooning up egg for the baby,
"it is just the thing to start the day off right."
"Ah!" said Gloria, [the baby] and ate up her egg.
My friend Liz Winter taught me how to make a soft boiled egg and we learned how to eat them at our friend Ann's annual St. Patty's day bash. Lots of fun is had by all. Except for non-egg eating Paul.

Here's what we do:
-Put eggs in cold water on the stove. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes, counting from when the boiling actually starts.
-Since the kids are waiting at the table hungrily, after the three minutes, run the eggs under a bit of cold water so they can touch them.
-Set an egg on an egg cup (found ours at the Vinnie, down on West Seventh. Small baby food jars or shot glasses also work great.)
-Use a spoon or fork to crack a ring around the top of the egg by chiseling at it somewhat carefully. Then whack off the top! (I don't remember where I got this great pointy spoon, but it's just perfect!) Dig to the yolk, if necessary. Ideally, the white is all cooked, and the yolk is still runny and bright yellow or orange.
-Salt and pepper to taste and let the kids dip little sticks of toast or pita into the yolk
-Lo and behold! Egg yolks taste way better when they are less well cooked! (we like to use eggs from happy, healthy birds.)

I have seen more than a few bloggers whom I really like post such picturesque photos of hanging their laundry up to dry. Ha! My laundry line is certainly not fit for public display! I'll just show you a little corner to show off Gibbie's hanging job. I guess laundry can be pretty even if it's not all bright white and red tablecloths and vintage linens snapping in the breeze.

So, around here it's getting too cold to hang clothes to dry outside. What's an earth-lovin girl to do? While indoor drying racks are a pain on rainy summer days, I've found they are wonderful for chilly winter days! When it's cold out, the air gets painfully dry inside our old house. I'm real sensitive about this. I have dry skin, and get uncomfortable just breathing the dry air all night long, so we tend to keep a humidifier going at night. Laundry can be a great help too! On a cold day, it will dry inside in no time!

Advantages: Humidify the house and dry the laundry at the same time with no use of electricity!

Plus, our folding rack has lots of spaces that are low enough for Gibbie to hang up the clothes himself. It's pretty fun, working together like this. He can focus now, for a whole basket of clothes, actually hanging each piece up as nicely as he can. He's also started helping me fold things! Here's how it went.

Little Bear: What are you doin, Mama?
Mamabear: Oh, just folding these blankets.
L: I don't know how to do that.
M: Would you like to learn? I can show you.
L: No, I am not big enough to do that. When I am a man, I will fold blankets. I will do that when I am a big big big big kid. Not until then.
M: folds another blanket
L:joins right in
So I showed him how to match up the corners, and stack the folded ones in their place. Now he helps me with all sorts of folding! Above is pictured a common sight around our house these days. The littler one climgs into the stroller and the big one pushes him all around the house. They are taking a lot of trips to the cabin, the lake house, the coffee shop, and the restaurant these days.

Gibbie Says...

Papa, you are a shining light inside the snow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Paddle as a family of four

One of the things I have missed most in the last few years is canoeing. Being out on the waves, pulling ourselves through the waves, with the sun on my face and the water lapping all around. We just haven't gotten much chance since the kids came around.

Well, my uncle Dave recently completed building his own Kevlar canoe. Yeah, you read that right. He made the canoe pictured here by hand. And was gracious enough to let us take it for a paddle around the lake. We were so excited and awed with the privilege, we were holding our breath as we set out from the dock, but oh! it was wonderful.

He designed her very thoughtfully. Note the snappy cord to hold the bowline? He made similar features to secure the paddles while portaging, and the yoke is possibly the most comfortable I have ever used. (The yoke is the piece of wood that sits on one's shoulders to carry a canoe.) Dave said he had the wooden features made out of white cedar by a local craftsmen in his area. I guess the Kevlar is made by building a frame and layering coats of polyurethane over canvas? I'm guessing at remembering what he told me. Also note the ruler on the inside of the gunnel for measuring the catch!
The whole thing weighs remarkably little; I was afraid I would be too out of shape to carry it by myself, but imagine my suprise when I rested that yoke on my shoulders, and found it felt like nothing at all! I think Dave said it was about forty-five pounds. Later I put it together that my two kids together weigh at least fifty pounds and I carry them all the time, so now that makes sense!

Paul obligingly sat in the bow (the front) so I could take stern. He held Ezra, who was overdue for a nap, until he konked out. Then he paddled with me. Gibbie was duffing in the middle. He had a paddle too, but was mostly interested in dipping and splashing his hands in the water and eating the snack we brought for him. Never forget the snacks!We thoroughly enjoyed the view and the quiet time together. At one point, we met a little black, bright-eyed weasel, running along the shoreline, poking his head up to watch us.We saw lots of beautiful old snags, and one amazing, ancient-looking dead tree, weathered bright white by the wind and water. We passed a big roost of blackbirds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands, it sounded like, all calling and starting up from the branches of a young forest, flying in lines and swoops between one tree and another. What is the word for a lot of blackbirds? There is a murder of crows, and where herons roost is a rookery, right. What do blackbirds make? A mass? A swarm? A crowd? A legion?
I like to go right through the reeds sometimes, to let the kids feel and hear them along the side and bottom of the boat.
Thanks, Dave. Nice work.

Cousin Love

The little vacation we took a while back is still percolating and bubbling around inside Gibbie. He is constantly replaying the places we went and things we did. Ezra climbs into the toy stroller and Gibbie loads it up with toys and pushes him around the house. This is called an "outing", a la Francis the Badger (a favorite character from a storybook). They take outings to the cabin, the woods, the meadow, and the lake house. They even visit the outhouse!

On this trip, the kids also got to spend some good time with some of their cousins. They have some great girl cousins who are so good with babies and little kids that Gib and Ever hardly even knew their younger boy cousins. Well, the girls weren't along on this trip, but the boys were.

Eddy and Oakley ran a diner where they took our orders and made us omelets. When Nathan came, they made and played in GIANT leaf piles. They played toys in the lake house. (Gibbie, insists it is not a cabin, and compared to our rustic cabin, it's not.) Our littles listened to the big cousins talking and making and playing. It was just a little regular time together, really.
But now the cousins are showing up at our house. Gibbie tells me that Eddy and Oakley are coming on our walk today. They're making omelets in the kitchen, and he likes omelets! We need a chair for Nathan at the kitchen table, because he's eating with us. Sometimes a little time playing together goes a long way.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hendricks Adoption

Our friends Kevin and Abby Hendricks are in the early process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. I guess it costs about as much as one year of St. Olaf education cost us, so that's quite a bit.

Go Kevin and Abby!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Poetry for the weary pilgrim

My Lord, I have no clothes to come to thee;
My shoes are pierced and broken with the road;
I am torn and weathered, wounded with the goad,
And soiled with tugging at my weary load:
The more I need thee! A very prodigal
I stagger into thy presence, Lord of me:
One look, my Christ, and at thy feet I fall!

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

Sorry to any friends whose calls we have not returned. We have been knocked off our feet by a little virus, and life in general. (The question was "Raising sputum?" and the answer, sadly, was "Yes!") Thanks to Natalie for cleaning our house--she even cleaned the dreaded corner back behind the nursing couch! And thanks to Becky, for taking care of me and the kids with fevers last Sunday. And thanks to Myra and Doug for everything. And thanks to Lacy for special prayer help.

We are returning to health, and trying to get back into a rhythm where we can perform all basic functions again, so don't worry, but thanks for all your prayers. We have lots of things we are hoping to share soon. Much love, all of us.