Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Saturday, April 30, 2011

One of My Favorite Things from the Royal Wedding

That sweet, simple bouquet.

Lily-of-the-valley -– Return of happiness

Sweet William –- Gallantry (and undoubtedly chosen for their reference to Prince William)

Hyacinth –- Constancy of love

Ivy — Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection

Myrtle – the emblem of marriage; love. (The stems from a myrtle planted by Queen Victoria in 1845 are traditionally used in all royal wedding bouquets.)

     The entire wedding was a study in understated elegance.  I loved Kate's gown, the stunning dress worn by her sister, Pippa, and the simple, beautiful wedding band made from rare Welsh gold given them by the Queen. But my favorite part of that wedding was her bouquet. Diminutive, pure, simple, perfect.

     Can you just imagine how heavenly that bouquet must have smelled? The only flower I might have added to this bouquet would have been a sprig of white lilac.  Weren't the Sweet Williams a romantic touch? I think William's mother, the lovely Diana would have liked that! ( I'll bet she called her sweet little son 'Sweet William' from time to time.) And I think she would have loved her new daughter in law!

     Best wishes to the happy couple!

     (I'm off to the garden store...yes, I'm going to find a sunny spot in the garden for some Sweet Williams! When you plant them from seed, it takes two years before flowers bloom. Maybe just in time to greet a new royal baby?)

note: credit for information on the significance of the wedding bouquet and photograph goes to www.hollywoodlife.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rainy Day Magic

     So it's raining here in the Pacific Northwest. Again. Now we native Northwesterners can handle lots of rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. Cats and dogs kind of rain.
      But sometimes you've just gotta say "Enough already!"
     After all, We're trying to plan our veggie garden here. I have sweet peas to plant and manure to spread-and I'm not talking about my blog!! I'll leave that interpretation up to you all.
     So I'm standing here on the patio singing, "Rain, rain, go away..." and thinking of a magical rainy day I spent in Gresham, Oregon, some 10 years ago.
     My daughter and her husband had just relocated to Gresham (where his family lives and a good job awaited him)... and they had the audacity to take my grand-daughter with them! The nerve of some folks!      Jordynn was my first grand-child, a little toddler at the time and I was heartbroken at her departure. So Grandma Debbie did what any sensible Grandma would do...packed a few clothes, loaded up the car and headed down I-5...destination: Gresham. (It's about a 6 hour drive; but 5 if you really miss your children.)
     The drive was a rainy one and so was the weekend. But Grandma Debbie was determined to go outdoors with little Jordynn. So we grabbed an umbrella and set out for a walk; toddler style; which means slower than a snail's pace because we had to pick dandelions, scurry away from bumble-bees (while discussing how nice bumble-bees really are), and smell all the sweet apple blossoms  along the way; AND simultaneously avoid stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk. This is all important stuff and that's what grandma's do-that's how we roll. Of course we were only about halfway around the humongous city block when rain started to pour down upon us. Not to worry. We would just sing all of the way home. "Rain, rain, go away...Come again another day...Grandma and Jordynn want to play!"
     Then something magical happened. The sun poked it's head from behind the clouds. A rainbow appeared, and the rain stopped. Little Jordynn squealed with delight, "Grandma, you did it...your song made the rain go away!" So we skipped all the way home, singing our rainy day song.
     After that, until she was old enough to know better, Jordynn would call me her 'fairy grandmother'. She thought I possessed special powers. But of course we know that's not true. No, it isn't me, but Jordynn, and every other sweet grandchild like her... who are magical. Their special charm is to remind us that this world is beautiful and full of lovely things if we can just slow down to really look at them. Their special charm is to take us all the way back to that wonderful land called 'Childhood'.
     Jordynn and Kayla, Ana and Isabella, Dane and Junior, Ethan and Kayden, Abbey Rose and  Sophia, Kyle and Ivan - you are my special magic and my rainy day songs. You are my Fairy Grandchildren!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christmas at the Boarding House

The boarding house in 1928
upper left row: Claude Miller, Vernon Miller, Raymond Miller

Claude and Maude Miller (no, I'm not making these names up) had 2 sons; Raymond and Vernon. Raymond, my dad, was born in 1910. I'm told that  my very beautiful Grandma was only 13 or 14 years old when she married Grandpa Miller. The marriage did not last. Back in those days divorce was very rare and always caused quite a scandal. There were rumours of infidelity. Anyway she and Grandpa had a bitter dispute over custody of the boys; and they were so slanderous of one another before the judge that he took the boys away from both of them for a time; putting them into an orphanage. Eventually, the boys were given to Grandpa Claude.
     Now Grandpa Claude was a salesman. He travelled up and down the countryside in a horse-drawn wagon selling coffee, tea, blankets, and such to the early settlers of this area. When he was not travelling, he lived in a boarding house out on the Kickerville Road; way out in the country, just west of Ferndale. The place was a large, white, farm-style home that was surround by rolling pastures and dairy farms. It was to this boarding house that he brought the boys to live. While I can't quite recall their exact ages; I seem to remember that my dad was under twelve; and Vernon a few years younger. The lady who ran the boarding house was to look after the boys while Claude was travelling; but I suspect that they really looked after themselves.
    Well one particular winter; Grandpa Claude was away for some time. Christmas was  rapidly approaching and he still had not returned. On December 24th the boys were anxiously looking for their father; but late into the evening he still had not returned. The boarding house had a beautifully trimmed tree with many presents beneath it. The proprietress had prepared a Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings, and all of the tenants were in a festive mood  except young Raymond and Vernon. They were still nervously waiting for their father to arrive-but he never did show up. After dinner; the guests gathered round the tree to exchange gifts. The boys stood awkwardly  by as one by one, each person received a gift. When all of the gifts had been distributed; it was evident that no one had thought to give the children a present. Claude didn't return the next day either. The boys spent Christmas alone in their room.
      I do not know what detained Grandpa Claude. Perhaps it was snow or some kind of accident. He was a good man; and I cannot think that he would deliberately hurt his boys like that. And I will never understand why Maude made no effort to see her children on the holidays. She never really became a part of their lives until they were grown men.
     What I do know is that a certain melancholy always surrounded my father. Perhaps in part because he never really had a childhood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's Your Story?

     One day I was talking to John, my oldest son about something or another (I don't remember the subject), when he said something startling to me.
     He said, "Mom, I think you should teach history."
     I was shocked. I hated history in school. I don't remember numbers very well; so I practically broke out in welts before every history exam.  To tell the truth, there are very few historic dates I remember.
     I asked John why on earth he thought I'd want to teach history, to which he replied, "Well Mom, you are always telling us stories about our ancestors."
      He was right. That was when it hit me--that even though I could care less about what years the Great Depression happened; I am fascinated by the stories of how my grandparents and parents survived those years. For me, it's not about remembering the dates; but about remembering the people involved. And yes, I love that kind of history. Folk history. Stories about grandpa's coming to America from Holland when he was just 12,  and how dad worked in the CCC camps when he and mom met; and how grandpa fashioned ski's from barrel staves for his children to use in the cold Michigan winters. 
     I suspect that you have stories like that. Real life stories from your family history. Stories you 'caught' from your family- (as Christina Baldwin-author of Storycatchers describes it.)
     So I am challenging you all to tell me a story this week. Doesn't have to be lengthy. Just a snippet from the past.
     I think I may tell you a poignant story about my dad this week. Or maybe a rather funny account my mother shared from her childhood...we'll see. What about you?  Will you tell me a story...please?  

My inspiration for this post came from Storycatchers, by Christina Baldwin. An encouraging read for anyone who loves the tradition of stories and wants to keep them alive.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Haiku Monday: Chicken Theme

Think your sky is falling down?
Henny Penny did-
turned out to be an acorn!
(Note: illustration compliments of www.theantiqueimage.com )

Chickory is hosting a Monday Haiku. Sure hope I win that chicken! Check it out at http://chickory.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Being Faithful in a Few Things

     When I was first married (at 17) we lived in a run down duplex which was quite literally on the other side of the tracks. The day we moved in I discovered that the former tenants had neglected to remove their food from the fridge. It was a vision in green- mold that is. And the oven had so much cooked on grease that it looked like a hibachi. I rolled up my sleeves and cleaned that place until it sparkled. It took a week to remove all of the filth from that duplex. It had no washer and dryer so we had to use the laundrymat. That was expensive for a young couple with a new baby. Sometimes there was no money-so I had to hand-wash my baby's diapers in the bathtub, then dry them on a wooden rack in the sun. (No huggies in those days, girls!)
     Then we moved to a cabin on the South Pass Road; up in the woods. The rent was $35 a month and we thought we could save some money. We didn't. That old cabin had 2 big rooms and a bathroom. I still remember taking a shower and seeing a mouse pop his head up through the drain, right next to my foot! That was my last shower in the cabin. I drove to my mother's house almost every day to shower and bathe the baby. Tough times.
     The next place was a one-bedroom cottage. By then we had two children. My sister told me how 'cozy' it was, but realistically, it was too small for our family. I did my very best to make a home of that little place. My husband and I moved our bedroom into the dank old basement and gave the boys the only real bedroom.  Mom brought me a good solid used washer and dryer so that I wouldn't have to go to the laundrymat anymore. I was thrilled with that mismatched set!
     After this, we were approved for a brand new FHA home in a newly built housing development. But we needed some place to stay until  the construction was finished. So we moved into a flimsy cabin in the back of a friend's garage. I think before he moved it to his property, it had been a migrant farm-worker's cabin. (Maybe that's why I drive past the raspberry fields and feel such empathy for the families who live in migrant camps. I feel such passion for this 'invisible' piece of our society- but will save my comments for another day.) Anyway, I'll never forget trying to wax that old chunk of 'brick'  printed linoleum in the fuschia-pink kitchen. I buffed that floor so shiny-slick that the kids could skate on it in their socks. Shortly before we moved into our new home, some close friends stopped by. My friend Barb looked at me and said, " Debbie, if anybody deserves a new place; you do. You could write a story and call it  From Dump to Dump with the Lord."
     I didn't comment, but I felt differently. If I had written a book, it would have been called; "Being Faithful in a Few Things."
You see, even though I'd only been a believer for a few years, I had read something in the Bible that had inspired me during the lean times. It's called the Parable of the Talents. And the essence of the story is that if you are faithful with little; God will bless you with more. I believed that. I believed it when I faithfully scrubbed  that scuffed-up linoleum floor and planted nasturtium seeds in front of  our weathered cabin. I believed it when I bought old remnant pieces of rug for carpet and when I used contact paper to wallpaper my kitchen and  as I lemon-Pledge-polished cheap wall-panelling until it gleamed. I still believe it.
     Times have changed for me. I was divorced and remarried. The kids are all grown up with babies of their own.  And I've lived in many more homes. Some were old and some were brand new.
     I still remember in my first new home; mom looked around wistfully and said,  "Honey, I've never had a brand-new home. It must be so wonderful to walk on a brand new carpet and put your dishes into cupboards that nobody else has ever used."
      She never got to experience that.
     So in a week or two, we will be gutting our old '80s vintage bathroom and replacing it with new tiles, fixtures, lighting, flooring...the works. Today as I stood in that old room; I remembered the Parable of the Talents. I got out my scrub brush and donned my Playtex rubber gloves, and  scrubbed that old tub until it shone. Even though the grout is so old that nothing, and I mean nothing, will remove the mold from it; I tried again. Then I got down on my hands and knees to wash the floor. (There will never be a better way to clean a floor than on one's hands and knees.)  And as I knelt on that floor I gave thanks to my Father. He's been with me every day for these many years in all of  my homes, and blessed me with so much more than I could have imagined, just as He promised some 30 some years ago. And no matter what surface I've knelt upon, linoleum or tile, wood or carpet-He's always been right there with me; hearing and answering my prayers.
     So when the remodel is done and I share my 'before and after' pictures of the bathroom with you; I hope you won't be envious or dissatisfied with your own home. Instead, I'd like you to remember that no matter what you have; little or much...be faithful to take good care of it-and be grateful for it. Be assured that someday you'll turn around to see that you too have been blessed with more than you could ever imagine!
(The Parable of the Talents may be found in Matthew 25: 14-30)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Easter

Well, there's a toilet, bathtub and sink in my living room. A vanity in the back of the pickup. Tile is enroute. Easter is Sunday; and a great friend is celebrating her 50th this Saturday.  So...for the next few days I'll be coordinating our remodel; celebrating my friend; and celebrating the Resurrection of my BEST FRIEND, Jesus. There's an outside chance that I'll be able to do some blogging; but if not; Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Snowshowers Bring...

My little garden cherub (now wingless thanks to Miss Koda) was awakened to a surprise this morning...an April snowshower!

The dog and I went out early to see what we could see. My apple tree, which has just begun to bloom, was dusted with snow. Snowflakes were falling lightly on my face, and the scent of apple-blossoms filled the air. It was delightful.
Don't laugh, but I actually looked around for an angel. I've heard it said that when angels visit the air is permeated with a sweet aroma. I don't know if this is so, but I don't doubt it. Perhaps some of the loveliness of Jesus, who is called the Lily of the Valley rubs off on them when they kneel in His Presence.
It went away quickly, leaving me with a sweet memory and the thought that just maybe I had entertained angels unawares.  It was probably just my apple tree; but please indulge my little flight of fancy.

(Actually, twice in my life I have had undeniable experiences involving angels; I don't often speak of them as I don't care to be labelled fanatical. But one day I  will tell you my stories.)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Daughter's Children

Their eyes are like yours
dear daughter...
enchanting as you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Keeping My Hair...at Least for Now

Do you remember Truvy's Beauty Shop
from Steel Magnolias?

This winter I caught a bad case of frumpiness. You know. Slogging around in sweats and old flannel shirts. Looking like something the cat dragged in (maybe it's drug, but Mom always said dragged.) Hubby hinted that I was starting to look like a Huxley-chick. For non-locals; Huxley is the Environmental Studies arm of Western Washington University.  Some of the more mature students there tend to be a bit granola-ish. Not the hip Seattle-Portland kind of granola. I mean the 'I've been down with the flu for 2 weeks' kind of granola. I think he's scared I'm going to go gray, grow out my hair (including leg hair), and start wearing tie-dyed shirts.
     So I gathered my frumpy self together and headed for the beauty salon. Not to my usual $14.95 haircut-with-no-style salon... but to a chic, expensive salon. There I met Vika, a cosmopolitan Russian beauty who transformed my gray roots and Lady Clairol ends to a really pretty light brown with blonde highlights and a nice cut. All for only $150.00. Plus tip. Gulp. But now I'm hooked. How can I have anyone but the lovely Vika do my hair? Besides, look at my life list...it says "find the perfect hair-do." This is as close to perfect as I'm gonna get!
     When I broke the news to hubby, I said," I don't have enough mad money to do this every 8 weeks. We need to build my hair appointments into our budget, right under the food expenses."
     He liked the hair, so he offered to pay for my next visit. Which was yesterday. This one was only a partial color so he got off cheap...$92.00. Without the tip. I paid for it on our credit card with the agreement that hubby would pay it off. So today he calls from the bank and quips, "Just called to let you to know, you can keep your hair... I've paid off the Visa card."
     "Thank-you dear, I'm so relieved. I'll look good for another two months".
     This whole thing reminds of an incident involving my Mom and my brother-in-law, Allen. As Mom got older, her hair got thinner and thinner. No matter what she did you could see her scalp. So she bought a couple of wigs. They looked pretty good as long as she was wearing her glasses when she arranged them on her head. Without glasses, it was pretty hilarious. Instead of wearing a hair-net under her wig, my oh-so-frugal Mom would cut up her old nylons and put them on her head like a skull-cap. Occasionally the nylon 'cap' would roll down onto her forehead, right over her eyebrow. And from time to time her wig would be a bit askew; making her look like her head was cocked to one side-like she was curious about something. But usually she looked very nice-she had  very few wrinkles, dressed smartly, and always looked 10-15 years younger than her true age.
     Well, one evening she donned her best wig and got all dressed up to go to dinner with my sister and her husband. After dinner, Allen drove her home. She was just getting out of his car when a strong wind came up. It caught her wig just right-and I guess she didn't have it pinned down well enough, because it flew right off of her head! There she stood in the assisted-living parking lot in her nylon 'skull cap'. Allen was a real gentleman. He chased that wig all over the parking lot. He said it was rolling around that lot like a tumbleweed. When it finally rolled under a parked car, he dove to the ground, tackled it, and returned it to Mom. She shoved the wig back on, squared her shoulders, and strolled proudly into the building, cane in one hand and holding her hair down with the other.
      So thanks to Allen, Mom got to keep her hair too!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe for a Drizzly Morning

Take a drizzly Sunday morning.  Add flannel pajamas, fuzzy slippers, flaky scones, raspberry jam, and a pot of Earl Grey tea...   perfect.

Scottish Scones

1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1. tsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small chunks
Milk and sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine milk and egg.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until
mixture looks like a course meal. Mix quickly with a fork until dough clings together. Turn onto a floured surface. Knead 8-10 times, lightly.
Roll 1/2" thick into  a round shape. Cut into pie shaped wedges. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes.
Serve warm with butter and jam.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dilly-Dallying in the Daffodils

 Koda and I headed south today...we were bound for the tulip-less Tulip Festival. (They'll be here later this month.) We ate our treats; well actually she had treats; I had a  pb&j sandwich; and sang along to country music on the radio. Isn't that Taylor Swift song called 'Mean' catchy? I should listen to country lyrics more often! We visited the towns of Bow and LaConner,  drove out to Samish Island, and took to the beach at Padilla  Bay. (Those pictures and stories are for another day.)  
Used the 'fresco' feature on Photobucket to make this picture.

and the 'cross processing feature on this one.

This last photo is just me and my camera.

It was as fine a day as I could ask for!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

For Dallas

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Dear Dallas,

     You were born too soon, and you died too soon.
     Premature you were; born at 7 months, I think. Mom said, that you'd have died  at birth except that old country doctor saved your life. When she brought you home your skin was transparent and bluish and you were so delicate she was afraid to touch you.  I suppose if you'd been born today they'd have kept you in a incubator for some weeks. Maybe this is why Mom always felt so protective of you.
     You were the middle son. Raymond was the oldest, he was just a toddler when you were born. And Allen was the youngest boy who when you were adults, became his brother's keeper during your troubled times. Then came Linda. I was born a long time later. You'd joined the Air Force by then.  It wasn't until I was almost a teen that you came home from the service to stay. So Linda's filled me in on your younger days.
     Well brother, I guess I don't have to tell you that everyone's gone now, except  Linda and me. Why, there's more of our family in heaven now than here on earth! Linda and I spend hours together, pouring over old photographs of you and the boys, Mom and Dad, and our grandparents. We have long talks about the folks and you boys. It's like we're sifting through the sand; searching for golden nuggets from our past...memories that will make us laugh until we cry; and sometimes make us cry until we wipe our tears and smile. Just yesterday we were looking at that old picture of you sitting on that spotted Shetland pony. It's a cute picture, that's for sure; but we could tell that you were scared.
     Linda says that when you were just a little kid; walking home each day from school the bullies always picked on you. They made you walk that whole way home from school in the ditch. So every day you'd come home, your feet all muddy and your shoes soaking wet. (And I'm sure you remember how precious shoes were back in those days!) The folks told you to fight back. Finally you did- and won. After that  you never had to walk in that ditch again. Back in your day; boys fought a lot. So Mom and Dad put an old mattress in the upstairs bedroom for you boys to wrestle on. Ray was quick and wiry; and Allen strong as a bull. You never won those wrestling matches.  That must have been real hard for you. It wasn't that you couldn't fight; you just never wanted to. You were a gentle soul.
     But smart...my how smart you were! You got A's in school and you didn't even have to try.  Linda says she always hoped that when Mom and Dad went out,  you'd be the one that had to babysit her. You were always extra nice to her and would always play checkers with her-even taught her how to win.That's why no one can beat her to this day-you taught her that!
     Brought up in a poor family like ours; you never had a lot. New clothes were rare to us; more often we wore hand me downs. But in spite of that you were always optimistic.
      "Just needs a little fixin'," you'd  say with a lilt in your voice. And you were good at fixin' stuff.  Remember the time you talked Dad into hauling that old convertible home from some vacant lot or field? It didn't run-but you had big plans for that old jalopy. Shortly after you got it home, it started raining cats and dogs. Everyone laughed when you ran outside and jumped inside that old car and started rolling up the windows-in your excitement you'd forgotten that there wasn't a roof!
     Then you and Raymond joined the Air Force. How proud we all were of you boys. Mom had a double picture frame with her two handsome boys in uniform conspicuously displayed in the living room for everyone to see. It was kind of like a shrine, that picture. I dusted it every Saturday morning and placed in carefully back on the old buffet. Wouldn't do to break that picture; I'd really catch it if I did. Well, the Korean war was on and you were shipped off to Guam. Just 18 years old you were. You were an A and E (airframe and engine) mechanic; and a darned good one. Quite an accomplishment for a country boy! Your friends back on base used to tease you about your family, living 'back in the sticks'  in Washington state.
     They'd quip, "I bet your daddy even wears bib overalls out there in those woods."
     And of course, he did. But you never cared about what they said. You loved us all anyway. I still have that beautiful yellow kimono you sent to Mom. And Linda keeps a picture of herself wearing that Jantzen sweater you sent her. It was way too big; but she didn't mind; she wore it anyhow. It was one of the few name-brand things she owned.
     It wasn't too long after that you met a beautiful girl named Barbara. You remember don't you, how you would sing that 60's song  Barbara Ann over and over to her? She had dark brown hair, sparkling eyes and a beautiful smile. She looked like one of those girls on the Miss America Pageant. You two had beautiful babies; 4 of them right in a row. Laurie and Greg favor Barb. But I think Cindy and Raymond look like you. And just the other day on facebook Dal, I saw Nikki your grand-daughter. She's absolutely gorgeous;  just like your Barb. I know I shouldn't say 'your' Barb. After all you two divorced; but we know, (Linda and me) that you never really got over her. And we think sometimes she felt the same...oh how we wish that things might have turned out different for you two.
     So many things we wished that we could have changed for you. It was so hard to see you sick, especially toward the end. I'll never forget the day the Mom called me up at work to tell me about the cancer. Mom had never called me at work before; so I knew it must be bad. She and Linda took you out to the old infirmary. Linda said she dreaded that day; she and Mom; but you made it easy for them. Most of the people in that place were very old or mentally ill; and here you were just in your forties. It should have been your prime. When you walked down the hallways there was a kind of crazy guy shuffling along. "Looks like he's sweet on you, Mom!" you laughed. And they laughed too...through their tears.
     In the following weeks you became reflective. Linda spent a lot of time with you; as she didn't work and her place was just a few miles from the infirmary. That was nice for you, wasn't it? You two would talk and reminisce; and chat about your kids. One day she got the nurses to give you an oxygen tank-and off you went; just the two of you. Out to the country you drove; past the places you grew up and where our Dad lived when he was young. The Kickerville Road. With rolling pastures, cows and barns. I still drive out there by myself when I want to think about our Dad. Well on that day you didn't joke...you shared how scared you were. "I've never done this before... I don't know how to die." (Linda still chokes up when we talk about that drive.) She did her best to comfort you-the same way you always comforted her when she was a little girl; and you were babysitting her. She says that day your senses seemed particularly heightened to all the life around you. "Look at that bird," you would exclaim. "Funny how you never notice things like that..."  That day for Linda was the loveliest, saddest day of her life.
     And there were other talks too. About what to give your kids to remember you by.
     And about J.C. That's Jesus Christ. You spent a lot of time talking to J.C. You wanted to get baptized; you never had before. So Linda set it up for you. Got a minister to come to the infirmary and do the baptism. You were so exicited about it that you wanted everyone in the family to be baptized right there with you. I already had; but Linda hadn't and neither had Mom. Now our mother would never have gotten baptized and Linda knew it.
     She jokingly said to you, "Oh Dal, Mom'll never let someone dump water on her hair. All that dye will come running out of her hair and stain her clothes!"
     Linda didn't get baptized that day either;  and to this day she's still sorry she didn't have the nerve.
     As I remember it you died on a weekend. I was sound asleep early that morning when I woke up to a presence. At first I was scared, but then I realized that it was you. I didn't actually see you; but I felt you in my room. You were saying over and over, "It's OK, I'm OK."  I think you must have known how upset I was about you. I'd been crying out to God for weeks to heal you. I knew He could. I'd seen it happen for others. And I was getting pretty upset with Him about it. So I always took that visit to mean that  even though my prayers weren't answered like I wanted; you were fine. Better than fine;  at home with the Lord. But it was still so hard, Dallas, to let you go. To wonder about the life you could and should have had. And when I think about you; it's still hard. You were born too soon and you died too soon.
   Well Dallas, say hi to Ray and Allen. Tell Mom that I do love her; in spite of our differences. And tell Dad how much I still miss him after all these years. Tell him Okie Dokie Billie Okie--Tomcat. He'll know what I mean.  Linda sends you all her love and she's making sure no one forgets any of those sweet and precious times with you. We're doing fine, she and I. And your kids are doing great. You'd be real proud of them.                                  

You were a good brother. Your gentle spirit will stay with us forever.

Debbie and Linda

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tip-toe Through the Tulips With Me

Official Skagit Tulip Festival 2011 Poster by artist John Ebner
 Woo-Hoo! It's Spring Break in my school district and I have the week off! I have a long 'to do' list for this week; and an even longer list of 'want to do's'. One thing I'm bent on doing this week is to pay a visit to the Skagit Valley. (Skagit is an Indian word and is pronounced Ska-jit. It is the name given to the Salish Indians who inhabit the Northwest). The Skagit Valley is situated between Seattle and the Canadian border at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range. The area is known for producing some of the most beautiful tulips this side of Holland. In April, the fields are transformed into earthbound rainbows of color as the acres and acres of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth come into full bloom. Mount Vernon, one of the charming towns in the Valley, hosts an annual Tulip Festival. There are art exhibits, quilt walks, winery tours, a tulip run, and best of all tulips as far as the eye can see. So this week; with the good Lord willing and if the creeks don't rise AND  if   the tulips are a-bloomin, I'm goin' down to the Valley to tiptoe through the tulips! Sooo...

Tiptoe through the window
By the window, that is where I'll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me

Oh, tiptoe from the garden
By the garden of the willow tree
And tiptoe through the tulips with me

Knee deep in flowers we'll stray
We'll keep the showers away

And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight
Will you pardon me?
And tiptoe through the tulips with me

From My Library Bag: THE SISTERS from HARDSCRABBLE BAY by Beverly Jensen

I've noticed that quite often you like the same books, music, and movies that I do. (Yes, I snoop around your profiles.) And quite often when I see that you've listed a book or movie that is a favorite, I make a note to myself to check it out. Birds of a a feather do flock together! With that in mind, I thought I'd share my views on some of the books I've read lately...sort of a layman's book review.

Book:    The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay
Author:  Beverly Jensen

Star Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Synopsis:  The story of sisters, Idella and Avis Hillock; daughters of a rough New Brunswick potato farmer/lobster fisherman and a beautiful mother who dies giving birth to their younger sister. The tragic death has a profound effect upon the girls' lives. The story covers  their lifetimes, from 1916 to 1987.

What I liked:  I love stories about common folk; and this surely is that! The characters are lively and flawed. The scenic descriptions are lovely. I love stories based in the early 1900s because like the heroines; my own mom was born in 1915. Folks from this era went from horse-and-buggies to Neil Armstrong's moon walk. Values changed drastically; especially women's roles in the world; forcing Western society to adapt and evolve rapidly. The story masterfully portrays this. And though I have some problems with the women in the story; I appreciate the fact that they are strong characters with minds of their own. As a writer, I admire Ms. Jensen's ability to create a story so character-driven that even everyday scenes are colorful and interesting.

What I didn't like: I felt that the explicit language was overdone. I'm trying very hard not to sound prudish when I write this. Now I've been around some pretty salty language in my day; but children were never permitted to speak this way. In this story; all of the characters, including the little girls swear like sailors. (My apologies to sailors; it's a figure of speech. I know there are many who are gentlemen!) Call me Miss Polyanna Sunshine if you will; but I just don't believe that everyone talks like this!
There is enough sexual explicitness in the story in it for me to rate it an 'R'; but not enough to really turn me off.  And since, upon reflection, I probably am a bit of a Polyanna Sunshine, I prefer a little 'lighter' story than this.

Would I recommend the book? If you were from New Brunswick I might casually suggest it; as long as you were over 18. But generally, speaking, no. I think there's better stuff out there. That said, Stephen King gave it a rave review!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Outwitted; the Sequel

by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

Jojo suggested that I search Koda's 'pawrse' for my missing $20 bill. I found my money, a few poker chips, and this photograph. She claims that the money was for a pedicure; but I'm afraid she's getting mixed up with the wrong crowd...


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