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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Planting Blue Lake Beans on Ray's Little Acre

     It's been so rainy in these parts-it's been hard to get the garden in. When I was a child, we would have certainly had the garden planted two weeks before now.  Since the growing season here in Washington only runs from about May until mid-to-end of September (if we get an Indian summer), I've been fretting about delaying my planting until now. Because of this I decided to 'cheat' and buy some starts. I ran down to Ace Hardware and bought some Blue Lake Pole beans and some Early Girl corn. Dad would be shaking his head right about now. And though he passed on some 40 years ago, I find myself deep in discussion with him about the garden.
     "Starts! Early Girl corn! You know we always plant from seed. We used to buy seed- you and me,  for 25 cents a pack. You paid $1.49 for 8 starts. And you should have bought Golden Jubilee corn."
     "I know Dad, but we're 2 weeks behind already; and it's 2011, not 1965. Things cost alot more these days. And my garden is so tiny compared to ours. I only needed a few starts. But look Dad, I got the Blue Lake beans...and they're pole beans, not bush; just like we always planted."
     I sense his pleasure with this choice and run home to plant the beans.
     I learned to plant a garden from my Dad.  We had an older cottage on an acre of ground that Mom used to call 'Ray's Little Acre.' Shortly after we moved there he was diagnosed with emphysema. Probably from all of the sawdust he breathed in as a millwright-that and those Winston cigarettes. He was pretty short of breath most of the time, but this never stopped him from planting an expansive garden out back behind the house.  I helped. That was our job; Dad's and mine.
     First, old man Geiger from down the road would drive over with his Farmall tractor. It didn't take many passes until the soil was rich, espresso-brown furrows. Then we'd rake it for hours, tossing all the rocks into the field beyond. No matter how deep you dug, there were always more rocks. Why is that, I wonder?
     After this, we'd cover it with cow manure. Not too fresh mind you, or the plants would burn. Cow manure wasn't hard to come by in our parts. If you're a city dweller, you might think that it would stink. But it didn't...really! It had a pleasant sort of musky odor, not unlike the smell of a horse-and nothing smells better than a horse!
    Then came the fun. Planting. I'd put a ball of twine around a stick. Then with Dad at one end and me at the other, we'd lay nice straight rows to plant by. Using the twine as a guide, he'd make furrows in the soil with the corner of his hoe-blade. If we were planting things like radishes or carrots, we made shallower furrows using the handle of the hoe. And did I mention that hoe! What a beauty! I've never seen one since. The handle was painted with green, red, orange, and yellow stripes. Each stripe was a certain length, so that you could easily measure the distance between your hills of beans or corn or spuds. Oh how I'd love to have that old hoe today!
     My rows of beans today weren't nearly as straight as Dads. I didn't use twine; and I guessed on the distance between. I stop to talk to him about it.
     "These rows are a little wobbly, I know Dad. You always made the nicest rows. Even made me redo mine when they were crooked. Guess it's good you're not here to make me do this over. Just the same, I wish you were. And I wish I had that old hoe of yours...my spacing would be better. I'll never forget watching you trudging down the garden rows with that hoe in your hand; smashing a clod of dirt with the blade... pulling up a bunch of quack-grass... and leaning on it to catch your breath. No, I dunno where I'm gonna get poles for the beans. I remember you used to make them by splitting 2x4's. I don't have any 2x4's Dad, and I wouldn't want Kelly to split them if I did. He might get hurt. Laugh if you want, but admit it, you were pretty handy with an axe, that's for sure. But Kel, well, he's pretty handy with a car. He's no sissy-pants!"
     Again I sense Dad's approval-- that I didn't marry a 'sissy-pants'. That's what he called men who didn't work with their hands. That was also his special name for my older sister Linda. It was OK for her to be a sissy-pants, because she was a girl.
     "I would never marry a sissy-pants, Dad. I think you'd like Kelly. He's funny. My boys? No they aren't sissy-pants either. I taught them to do lots of stuff. You'd like them too. Sam looks alot like you. Tall, dark, very quiet. Like you Dad."
     With my little bit of planting done, I slowly straighten up, using my hoe to steady me. I'm a little bit sore, but thank God, I'm not short of breath like Dad used to be. Nonetheless, I lean on the hoe for a moment to survey my little garden plot.
     "I might get enough beans to can this year, Dad. Yes, I know I need a pressure canner. I'll have to buy a new one. The kids wrecked the old one some years back. They took it down to the creek and tried to mix clay in it. Gummed up the pressure valve. Yep, there were fish in the creek. Squalicum creek. Sam used to catch trout all summer long in that little creek. Didn't I tell you so Dad...he's a lot like you! Yes I'll talk to Mom before I can those beans. Well, I guess I'd better clean up now...Bye Dad. Love You. Hokey Pokie Billie Okie-Tomcat!"
     Dad knows what that means.

Dad and his aunt Ada

Dad and Sarge

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lilac and Lavender Memories

     Lilacs remind me of Grandma's house. She lived in a pretty cottage-style house near a lake. I loved that house. Grandma was a meticulous housekeeper. Even mom said so; and mom didn't like her mother-in-law very much. She told me that she used to go into Grandma's pantry and run her fingers along the creamy-painted open shelves that housed her glassware--looking for dust. She never found any. Not once!
     In spite of Mom's feud with Grandma, I liked going there. Every room had it's own loveliness and special scent. The turquoise kitchen had a little chrome dinette set that sat under a window lined with African Violets of every hue. The kitchen smelled of roasted beef and cinnamon-apple pies and just baked sugar cookies.
      Her bathroom was sparkly white with a clawfoot tub and pedestal sink. Sometimes I'd go in there even when I didn't need to use the bathroom; just to wash my hands with her fancy Yardley soaps and sniff Grandpa Charlie's Old Spice after shave. And occasionally, if I felt really brave, I'd give her pretty cologne atomizers a little squeeze-in spite of mother's stern warnings to keep out of Grandma's perfume. She kept a little tin of lilac talcum powder on the windowsill. I always marvelled at how it smelled just like the real flowers--and so did Grandma.
     Back in those days, Grandmas always wore dresses. Her's were silky florals, always in dreamy lavenders, pinks and blues. I thought that she must wear those colors to match her clear blue eyes. 
     I really hope that my own grandchildren will have such pleasant memories of their visits to my house. No, I'll never be half the housekeeper or cook that my grandma was; but I do try to make my place tidy and neat. And I purposely leave a few pretty things around for them to secretly inspect. I listen to their parents scold them and tell them not to touch Grandma's pretty things...and I smile to myself. Of course I want them to touch my pretty things, to smell them and to enjoy them. But I keep this to myself. I'll just let them sneak a whiff of my perfume, or a dab of my lotion.
     And though I'm far too practical to wear those pretty pastel dresses like my grandma did; I do love to wear a nice cotton blouse when they visit- often in shades of blue. To match the blue eyes I inherited from my grandma.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Breanne's Smile

     She was crying. That's unusual for little 'Breanne'.
     She's a little slip of a thing with long, straight red hair and freckles that cover her tiny face. Her eyes are large and round as saucers; almost too large for her face. But my how those eyes sparkle when she smiles-and she always smiles. I sometimes suspect that she has invisible wings, and is really a little fairy or elf from a magical forest.
     But today my little sprite-friend was crying.
     "Whats the matter honey?" I asked.
     "My finger hurts real bad".
      Huge teardrops were rolling down her freckled face. She showed me the injured finger, but there wasn't much to see...it was covered with a bandaid.
     "When did you get this bandaid?" ( I asked this because often our poorer students' families can't afford bandaids. They try to keep them on as long as possible, and I've seen some putrid sores hidden under dirty old bandages.)
    I examined the finger closely and noticed that the bandaid was on way too tight. Her little finger was white and puffy from the pressure. I'm sure her finger was throbbing in pain. Whoever had bandaged it must have been in a hurry.
    I could sympathize with her situation. Just this week I'd had a minor procedure done in the doctor's office. It didn't work as well as they hoped, so they decided to refer me to a surgeon. But the surgeon isn't available for 2 weeks. When I called to ask the nurse if it was OK to postpone taking care of the problem for two weeks, she hurriedly said, "Yeah, as long as it doesn't get unbearably painful or start bleeding profusely." Not terribly encouraging.  So I called my insurance's on-line nurse for some reassurance. (This feature of my insurance plan has been a God-send.) She told me just what to do and how to get along until the surgery. It's going to be fine... I just needed someone to tell me that.
     That's what Breanne needed. Some assurance. So despite the fact that at that moment I really needed to be somewhere else; I took her to the school sick room and removed the bandaid. Whoa! Now I could see why it hurt! Her little 'fake' fingernail had bent back and broken right in the middle of the nail, causing the real nail to crack also. But the fake nail wouldn't come off. So we ran cold water over it for awhile and daubed it dry. Then I loosely appled a new bandaid. A little smile was returning to her face.
     In the meantime; the person who'd put the first bandage on her came in.
     "I TOLD YOU that those fake nails are NO GOOD!" she lectured, then walked out in a hurried huff.   
     The smile faded.
     So I told her a silly joke and gave her a hug. The smile returned. Like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
     Now I'm not bragging or trying to compare myself to the other 'bandaging lady'. I get hurried and huffy too. But today I remembered to slow down; and to stop and think about how someone else might be feeling.
      And I thought I'd tell you this little story to remind you. There are lots of important things competing for your attention. Most of them aren't really that important in the grand scheme of things. Don't let the clock or your day planner become your dictator.  Let your heart dictate your actions.      
     That's what I did today. I put a bandaid on a little girl's finger. I did some other stuff too; grown up, important stuff. But that best thing I did today was to get Breanne's smile back.

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones...will certainly not lose his reward."  Matthew 10:22

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bathroom Remodel; Details, Details, Details

     I am a big-picture person. I get really excited about big ideas. Minutiae drives me crazy. Lock me up in a room with a micro-manager and somebody's liable to get hurt. Sooo, this bathroom remodel has been a bit of a challenge for me. I knew I wanted it to be a relaxing, spa-like, sort of modern-ish space; and I think we've pretty much achieved that look; in spite of a few details that nearly put me over the edge.

     So, for those of you who like me just want to 'getter done', here's  a bit of advice...

*If you are using more than one type of tile as I did; pick your grout color when you pick the tile. I did not. It turns out that the tile on my floor and bathtub surround has subtle shades of greenish gray to it. I knew that. I love green-that's why I picked it. BUT my glass tile, though it has some greenish gray in it, has a lot more slatey gray with blue in it. So-when I looked at the 50 or so possible colors of grout, I soon realized that there was really only 1 color, and I mean ONE color that would contrast nicely with both of my tiles--pewter. I had to go back to the tile store and get a designer to help me with this decision. Which leads me to the next piece of advice...

*When you buy your tile, consult the designer first. Walk right past the salesman and ask to see the designer. Because the salesman is good at sales. He loves sales. He doesn't care what you buy as long as he makes a sale. But the designer loves design. She doesn't care what you buy, so long as it looks great.

*Measure, measure, measure. Now I do know enough to measure stuff, really I do! I even memorized the measurements of my new vanity. What I did not think about, was the fact that my new Quiozel lights hang much lower than my old dressing room style lights. (That ugly chrome strip with four big bulbs sticking out from it.) So the mirror I bought for my vanity was too big for the space. We are probably going to have to have one custom made. No big deal, I just wish I'd have thought about that first.

     That said, I LOVE MY NEW BATHROOM! Here are some of the details I did good on:

That deep tub. It's from Kohler's Sterling series. It's about 18 inches deep with a nice sloping back. When we shopped for tubs I swallowed my pride and crawled into them to try them out for size. We bought this one at Lowes, and it was up on the second shelf. So I climbed up on the boxes below to get into it. I'm sure I looked silly. It was worth it.

The accent glass tile. It was expensive, but it's one of my favorite features. It makes me feel like I am sitting on the beach at Semiahmoo or Chuckanut Bay. That's because the colors are all the colors you find on our local rocky, driftwood strewn beaches. Very Northwestern. It's called Cascade and is by Crystal Glass. The floor tile is by Florida Tiles and is in the Tuscana collection. The color is Verde.

My granite vanity top. I decided not to cut corners on the vanity top. I took my tiles and wood color with me when I picked it out. It has every color of both of my tiles in it--and again, it is feels very Northwestern. We ordered it from Lowes. I can't remember the brand, but it's called Canyon.

Those beautiful light fixtures are by Quoizel. My camera doesn't do justice to them. They cast the softest white light I have ever seen. I found them at Village Lighting, a local lighting store.

The brushed nickel faucets are Windermere by Delta. I think they are a discontinued line. I love the simple lines.

The toilet is by Kohler, called Bold Power. It flushes quietly and it sits higher than some. This is important as you get older. If a toilet is too short, it's harder to get up and down on them. We're not that old yet, but we do intend to be here for awhile. (But I do now qualify for senior discounts at restaurants!)

My shower curtain is a swanky waffle weave and does not require curtain rings. The top half of it is a sheer white fabric which allows light in. The bottom half (inside) has a detachable fabric shower curtain liner (which attaches with buttons) and the outside is the waffle weave fabric. I absolutely require fabric curtain liners. Don't want to breath in all of those plastic resin fumes every morning.

Our contractor, Dean Harvey is a genius. Probably the most important choice of all. Dean removed walls, re-did plumbing, redirected heat ducting, does extradordinary tile work, and did a meticulous job. AND he didn't even mind being accosted every morning by Koda, our yellow lab; who was so happy to see him that she jumped all over him and demanded belly rubs! (I did take Koda to doggy day-care every day when I left for work-just to preserve Dean's sanity.)

Whats left?  I still need mirrors over the pedestal sink and vanity, some over-the-door brushed nickel hooks for towels (I don't have space for towel bars), some kind of window treatment, and a small stand that will house a few folded towels topped by a fern for that outdoorsy feeling I love. I'm also searching for just the right piece of artwork to go over the toilet. Something with those rugged, green elements we love so much here in Washington. Maybe a forest scene; or a rocky beach...we'll see.

When I get those final pieces added, I'll post some pictures that show the finished product-and the 'before pics'. But right now, I think it's time for a soak in that tub with some bubblebath and chamomile tea!


Monday, May 16, 2011

A Short Intermission

Hello Friends,

Just a note to say I'm taking a short blogging break while we finish up our remodel. Be back real soon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Recipe, A Remodel, and the Rewards of Motherhood (just not in that order)

Lots of good things are happening around here. We just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary, followed by a really nice Mother's Day. The remodel is in full swing and I found a recipe with just two ingredients that only takes a couple of minutes to mix up!

The Remodel

The bathrooms half-done and partly functional. We only have one bathroom, plus a toilet and sink in our laundry room; so taking out the tub meant that we had to take what mom used to call 'spit baths'. That gets old. So Dean, our contractor, took pity on us and was nice enough to install the new tub right away so that we could at least take a bath. The past few mornings we've been tippy- toeing across the cardboard that covers the new tile (which will be grouted after the walls are finished and painted) and soaking in our roomy new tub while viewing exposed plumbing and walls. I decided to think it rather avant-garde; like those swanky city lofts with the pipes running across the ceiling...well almost like that...in my imagination anyway! So as it stands today, the tub is in, the tile is laid, and the walls were texturized this afternoon. Tomorrow we paint, and after that-the grouting. Then the vanity, lights, and fixtures will go in. Hope to be done by Sunday.

'Avant-guarde' ??? The big tub isn't shown, it's just to the right. More pictures are forthcoming.

The Rewards of Motherhood
My biological kids all live out of town, but they don't forget me on Mother's Day. Some pretty tulips arrived from son, John and family.  Sam and Heather and their families each sent me beautiful, sentimental e-cards. Don't you love those e-cards? I have an account with Jacquie Lawson (a talented British artist) that allows me to send all the e-cards I want for one whole year. With a passel of grandchildren this is a life-saver. That year-long deal allows me to send cards on those less-important holiday that I normally don't acknowledge. The link to her site is www.jacquielawson.com. But can you guess what made me that happiest on Mother's Day? It wasn't the flowers or cards, or the yummy brunch that Kelly took me to. It is seeing that my grown children have grown up to become even better people than I dreamed. That's the real reward of motherhood-having great children. So hang in there, all of you young mothers. Keep loving them, making them behave, and praying for them. Your reward is coming- trust me.

The Recipe

And finally, I came across the easiest recipe ever last week. Thought I'd share it with you. It's for seasoned creamed cheese spread. I served it on fancy little sandwiches with thinly sliced cucumber at the Royal Wedding Brunch I attended. But oh, my goodness... this stuff is fantastic on toasted bagels. It takes all of my self control not to eat one (or two) of these for breakfast every morning.

Savory Creamed Cheese Spread

A tub of whipped creamed cheese
A packet of dry italian salad dressing mix

Directions: Stir the creamed cheese to soften a bit. Dump a little of the dressing mix in it and stir. Taste. If it's great, stop. If it's not, add more dressing mix. Repeat the process until you are happy with the results. Serve on bread, bagels, crackers, or as a veggie or chip dip.

Don't blame me if you eat more than you should...you were warned!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sending Healing into Our Family's Future

     Isaiah 58: 12 says "And they that be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach; the restorer of paths to dwell in.

     This is a precious passage to me. I've made a pencil-drawing of my family tree which I keep carefully folded inside my Bible. Every now and then I take it out and place my hands over each name and pray for God's blessings upon them...from the oldest to the youngest. And I ask that God will strengthen my family tree and bloodlines with his grace and goodness...and that he will banish evil from it. I want those old waste places and breaches restored or in modern day language-the dysfunction healed.
     So this evening, as I continued my reading of "Storycatching",  by Christina Baldwin, chapter 7 really spoke to me. Chapter 7, entitled Writing and Talking in the Seven Generations describes a Basque tradition from the people of Spain which says...
Angeles Arrien, a transcultural anthropologist raised in the Basque traditions of the original mountain people of Spain, teaches that our ancestors hover over the cradle of each new baby born into their lineage and ask...'Will this be the child to heal the line? Will this be the one to change our story?'
     As a grandmother, I feel responsible to write as a legacy for my family; to say things that will connect past to  present; and give those headed into the future the foundation of knowing who they are by telling them where they have come from.     
     But an idea proposed in 'Storycatchers'  really startled me...the idea that one might actually be able to heal the family line with her stories by recording not only the admirable things we know about our family; but to expose the pitfalls, those dark shadowy clouds that seem to hang over consecutive generations...cursed things like alcoholism,  teen pregnacy, depression, poverty...and the like.
     I wonder... Could you and I really banish the monsters that have hidden in our closets for generations by exposing them? And if so, how can we tactfully yet courageously open those doors that so many family members would prefer that we keep shut?
     The final question in the chapter asked...
"What decisions made in the last three generations are you grateful for? What decisions are you making now that you hope your grandchildren will be grateful for?"
Something to think about, isn't it?


Happy Mother's Day

Image courtesy of LISATRAVELBUG.imagekind.com/

Remembering all of you 'Mommy Bunnies' out there who are working hard to keep your 'Peter Rabbits' out of Farmer McGregor's garden. Its a wonderful, worrisome job.

Friday, May 6, 2011

After 23 Years...

He was alone,

She had been derailed...

They met.
They talked, they laughed, they fell in love.
Their journey together began...23 years ago on this very day.

They're still talking and laughing.
They're still in love.
 Still travelling together
through this life.

Good things await them
just around the bend


Come live with me and be my love,
and we will some new pleasures prove,
 of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
with silken lines and silver hooks.
John Donne

Happy Anniversary Kelly,
I love you and I'm so glad we're still
ridin' the rails together!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homelessness Has a Face

This post is not lovely; as my blog title suggests. Please forgive me for that; and allow me this moment to open my heart to you about something I see every day that breaks my heart every day...Sometimes I just need to talk about it.
   The poverty rate among the students in my school is extremely high. It's one reason that I work there. I want to make a difference in a child's life. And I'm trying. Since Easter, there have been nine children that I know of who have become homeless. And I don't know about all of them.
     Homelessness is a difficult issue.   Politicians talk about statistics and federal money-to help or not to help, that is the question. Sociologists discuss the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on families and their ability to provide shelter for themselves. Churches tell us to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless while most of their monies are spent on the next building campaign.
     Here's what I can tell you about homelessness. Little "Alandra", a pretty 6-year-old kindergartener with soft brown eyes and a quiet smile often comes to school with most of her clothes in her backpack because she has nowhere else to keep them. The beautiful brown ringlets in her hair are matted because she doesn't always have a place to shower. She is bright and wants so much to learn, but I often see her with her head in her arms on her desk; trying to get some rest. I wonder where she slept last night...or if she got to sleep at all. I turn my head, wipe tears from my eyes and tell myself, "Debbie, you can only do what you can do."
     I give her extra hugs and lots of support with her math and language. I say lots of prayers. And it feels like the tears that I've restrained from falling from my eyes are backing up into my heart; and it is becoming very heavy.
     For me, homelessness has tousled curly hair and an angelic 6 year old face that is buried in her arms and fast asleep at her little kindergarten desk. That's what I can tell you about homelessness.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

An Excerpt from "Storycatchers" : Extraordinary Grace

     With our bathroom remodel in full swing, mandatory state proficiency testing at school, a community meal with the Lummi's, our local Native American tribe, and life in general; time to write is precious this week. So rather than write something of my own, I will share an extraoradinary excerpt from a book I am reading. 
     In Storycatchers, by Christina Baldwin, there is a description of how an African tribe deals with a tribal member's wrongdoing:
I have read the story of a tribe in southern Africa called the Babemba in which a person doing something wrong, something that destroys this delicate social net, brings all work in the village to a halt. The people gather around the "offender," and one by one they begin to recite everything he has done right in his life: every good deed, thoughtful behaviour, act of social responsibility. These things have to be true about the person, and spoken honestly, but the time-honored consequence of misbehaviour is to appreciate that person back into the better part of himself. Ther person is given the chance to remember who he is and why he is important to the life of the village.
     The author goes on to say, "I want to live under such a practice of compassion. When I forget my place, when I lash out with some private wounding in a public way, I want to be remembered back into alignment with my self and my purpose. I want to live with the opportunity for reconciliation..."

Me too, Christina, me too.



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