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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

3 Important Things

Autumn colors and natural elements

Pretty painted mugs for sharing coffee and tea with family and friends.

Blankets and throws...warmth and comfort.

A gift from my Chinese daughter in law. A symbol of her love, culture and of ceremony.

Old books. Love of literature, knowledge and learning. And though not shown, there are many, many, many Bibles and lexicons in our home because faith is everything.


When I was just in my twenties, one of my first jobs was as an aide for Miss Leah Finkelstein. Leah was a 90-year-old spinster; a former librarian who went blind in her old age. We who treasure books can just imagine what a blow this must have been to a woman whose life centered around literature! But Leah never complained.  Though completely blind, Leah had memorized each detail of her little studio apartment which was situated in a renovated carriage-house near the university. Every morning when I came to work, she would feel her way from her little cot  to a well-worn armchair in a gabled window. Once comfortably seated, I'd hand her a mug of her favorite beverage; cafĂ© au lait.(Prepared exactly to her specifications.) With a contented sigh and a little smile, Leah would warm her gnarled hands with the mug. She'd sniff the coffee and take a long sip. Then she would say, "I can feel the sun on my shoulders, the warmth of this mug, and I have had a long and wonderful life. When I go to meet my Maker, I will have nothing to complain about. Just a bouquet of thank-yous for all of the blessings in my life."

Leah loved to tell me of her childhood in the late 1800's. Her family were emigrants; Jews. Though not rich by any means, Leah used to say that her family had three things that every fine home should have...a dictionary, a finely tuned piano, and a gentle, steady horse. These of course did not preclude things such as love and kindness. They were symbols of the family's love for music and education. The horse of course, was necessary to her family for transportation, and more than this, the faithful animal was much-loved as a family pet. 

Times have changed but still, we often display items in our home that symbolize the things that mean the most to us.

If you asked me to list only 3 items necessary for a fine home, I think I might say to you...

"A well-worn Bible, photographs of family, and a sweet-tempered dog."

What 3 things would you name?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Carry Your Chin In and the Crown of Your Head High..."

I found this quote in Dale Carnegie's great book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People"...

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of your head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine, greet your friends with a smile and put soul into every handclasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction you will move straight to the goal. Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the elements it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual. Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude---the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.

by Elbert Hubbard

A peaceful scene at Mount Baker.

*** Peace to you. ***

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What is a Ragamuffin?

The only decent definition of a ragamuffin came from a guy named Brennan Manning. I first read Manning's book entitled "The Ragamuffin Gospel" about 10 years ago. It broke my heart into little pieces. It made me ashamed of my self-righteousness. After exposing me as a self-absorbed, hyper-spiritual religious bigot; it assured me that Jesus still loved me--faults and all; the same way He loves prostitutes and greedy Wall-Streeters, and homeless people who hear voices and talk to themselves as they shuffle along with their shopping carts and sleeping bags. I haven't been the same since I read this book...Thankfully! I've read and re-read this book; marked it up, gave it away, bought 7 more copies, and gave them away.  I gave this book to an agnostic friend who told me he cried like a baby at Brennan's description of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. He told me that this is the Jesus he always believed must have existed, but had lost hope because of the mean-ness of the church.  I gave it to a young girl who was shunned by her church and family because she didn't look or behave the way they expected. I wanted her to know that Jesus would never shun her like that.

  Brennan Manning went to heaven this week. I'm sure he was met by scores of ragamuffins, waving, doing happy dances, and giving him big high-fives. I wouldn't be surprised if that heavenly rabble was led by one of the biggest ragamuffins of all...Peter! If you have ever felt like a big fat failure, a hypocrite, or a loser, you'll love Brennan Manning.  

There is no eulogy that could adequately describe Brennan Manning. It's best just to read his words. Here's his forward to "The Ragamuffin Gospel."

  • "The Ragamuffin Gospel was written with a specific reading audience in mind.

  • This book is not for the super-spiritual.

  • It is not for muscular Christians who have made John Wayne and not Jesus their hero.

  • It is not for academicians who would imprison Jesus in the ivory tower of exegesis.

  • It is not for noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate Christianity into a naked appeal to emotion.

  • It is not for hooded mystics who want magic in their religion.

  • It is not for Alleluia Christians who live only on the mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation.

  • It is not for the fearless and tearless.

  • It is not for red-hot zealots who boast with the rich young ruler of the gospels; "All these commandments I have kept from my youth."

  • It is not for the complacent, hoisting over their shoulder a tote-bag of honors,  diplomas, and good works actually believing they have it made. (If you see a hyperlink here, don't push it. It's not mine but I can't make it go away!)

  • It is not for legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus.

  • If anyone is still reading along, The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.

  • It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.

  • It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don't have it altogether and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.

  • It is for the inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.

  • It is for the poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.

  • It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.

  • It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.

  • It is for smart people who know that they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags.

  • The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the Way."

Brennan Manning

Hey Brennan, if you can hear me up there...you made it man! Woo-hoo! Jesus carried you through, just like you said He would! Thanks for all your help. I'm still reading your book down here and shuffling along on feet of clay. I'm still a stupid scalawag who's crawling about on the kitchen floor; searching for the cheese that fell off my cracker. Thanks to you, I can admit that. I'll see you on the other side...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Simple Math

I'm reading "Spiritual Simplicity" by Chip Ingram. It basically says...


This isn't the new math. It's old school. You can read about it in I Corinthians, chapter 13.

It's really that simple.

Blessings to you and yours this weekend!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lavender Cleaning Spray

Just a little concoction to help make your spring cleaning more pleasant; a natural cleaning spray made of borax, vinegar, and essential oils. Your house will smell all lavender-blue, dilly dilly...lavender green! I almost enjoy cleaning the bathroom when I use this spray.


3 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup borax
1/2 tsp lavender essential oil
1/2 tsp tea tree oil

Mix all ingredients and pour into a clean spray bottle.

NOTE: Please use a clean, preferably new sprayer so you don't inadvertently mix chemicals. And though this is all natural, it surely should not be consumed. So don't let the kids or pets drink it...and if you use it on your sink and counters, rinse it well. (Just as you would Comet or any other cleaner.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Spring Party in the Valley

Today is overcast and the rain is drizzling on my windowpanes. But yesterday was perfect. A fine spring day. So I picked up Kayla and Kayden and we went off in search of tulips. April is tulip season in the Skagit Valley. Every spring, after a long dreary winter, the valley bursts to life in a symphony of color. I once read that Spring is nature's way of throwing a party. Indeed, this is one shindig you don't want to miss! Everybody comes dressed in their finest! Tulips of crimson, salmon, lipstick-pink and candystripes,,  hyacinth of cornflower blue, girlie-pink and lemony-custard-yellow arrive wearing perfume that smells of heaven, good-natured daffodils, and sweet narcissus were just a few of the attendees. And of course my grandgirls were the prettiest faces in the crowd!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thoughts on Tractors, Sandwiches, and Paying it Forward

Alyce called me up and asked me to come over to the community garden with my camera and take some pictures of the official tilling of the soil.  She ran into Mr. Linde, an old friend over at the senior center, and he offered to bring his tractor over plow it up our plot. Alyce is in her eighties...can you believe it? She can handle a pitchfork as well as any twenty-something. (Probably better since twenty- somethings seem more adept with cell phones and remotes than implements designed for manual labor and profuse sweating. Don't yell at me here; I'm aware that I'm generalizing. But I'm just sayin'...)

Mr. Linde is an expert on that tractor. You can tell he's a 'tractor guy.' We have quite a few tractor guys in our small town. The great thing about tractor guys is that they love to drive their tractors. So even though our fair town doesn't have snowplows and such; after a snowstorm our tractor guys come rolling out of their barns and garages on their John Deere's, Kubotas, Farmall's, and New Holland's and start shoving snow every which way. They clear paths down the streets, get church parking lots ready for Sunday, and even do driveways for elderly folks. I guess I'm not elderly yet, because when the tractor guy came down our street he did my 88-year old neighbor lady's driveway, but passed right by me by as I was heaving snow from behind the Jeep. Last winter he didn't do anybody's driveway cause it didn't even snow. (We got an afternoon flurry in March that thankfully melted before I had to drive home from work in it; but that was it.) Tractor guys are very particular about their brands which are easily identifiable; even across a big field, by their color. John Deere's are green. Kubotas, orange. Farmall by International Harvester are bright red, and New Hollands are predictably blue. My favorite is John Deere's green. But I do also love a traditional old vintage-red farmall. Kubotas, like Mr. Linde's are pretty popular here in Lynden since we have both John Deere and Kubota dealers here in Lynden.

When I was little, we had a tractor guy on Slater Road. Old Mr. MacGregor  lived at the end of our road. Every spring he'd drive his old green tractor over the two big hills on our road, turn in our gravel driveway, and head back to our one-acre garden spot to plow. We never knew just when he was going to show up. Tractor guys generally work on their own time...since they work for nothing. That wasn't a problem though, since Old Mr. MacGregor was an expert gardener. He knew exactly when he should get our plot ready for planting.   Then another fellow  in a beat-up Ford pick-up would stop by with a truckload of cow manure. Neither of them ever asked for anything. When harvest time came, we gave just about everybody we knew some of our Blue Lake beans and Golden Jubilee corn or fresh-dug spuds.
These days they call it 'paying it forward.' Back then it was just being neighborly.
This my friend, is rich, fine soil. Very fine soil indeed! You know you're a gardener when nice dirt excites you. That and worms in the compost.
When I got to the plot, Alyce was tickled pink. "C'mere, I want to show you something." While she'd been pulling stuff up so Mr. Linde wouldn't have to run over it, she found these in my plot...

My tri-colored carrots survived the winter!!! If Alyce hadn't had that pitchfork in her hand I'd have done a do-si-do with her! We will be having fresh carrots with supper tonight; compliments of Mother Nature and her mild winter.

So tonight's fare will be fresh carrots and BLATs. That's Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato sandwiches. There's no point of eating a sandwich without avocado.

I buy my turkey bacon from Trader Joes. It's nitrate free so you won't grow horns (or tumors). I don't know if it's true, but I read that when scientists mixed nitrates (like those found in bacon, sausage and hot dogs) with soft drinks; they caused brain cancer in lab rats. Think about that when you're having hot dogs or pepperoni pizza and soda! So I think it's good to avoid nitrates if you can. That said, we still enjoy the occasional hot dog at a ball game. All things in moderation---right?

If you're looking for a healthful, easy meal, get some uncured turkey bacon from Trader Joes and make yourself a BLAT.I won't list an official recipe. I think you can figure it out!
And eat your carrots!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Hobnobbing with faeries, toadstools and snails

If you had a week off from work, how would you spend it? Would you be cleaning greasy, grimy ovens and polishing the silver...or would you dilly-dally around? I'm choosing the latter.

Though I dutifully scheduled all of my appointments for this week; I left some time for just moseying around. Some of the best places, as I see it, to fritter away time are bookstores, beaches, second-hand stores, libraries, and today's choice...Nurseries.

 I stopped by Bakerview Nursery and spent an hour or so chatting with their friendly staff, oohing and aahing over the pretty plants, and dreaming of putting a 'fairy garden' out under the fir trees in the back yard. (Wouldn't that enchant my little grands?) Oh...I did buy some begonia bulbs and got a real bargain on gladiolus bulbs...they were only 59 cents apiece! I find that there are three places one can really BREATHE on this earth...the beach, the mountains, and the nursery.

 (Please overlook the randomness of my photos. I took them with my cell phone and just uploaded them straight to my blog...no editing and no particular order. Kinda like my first day off from school!)

Grandma's turquoise kitchen's window sill was lined with African violets. Now where are the sugar cookies?
Nice nursery-lady tells me that these will grow nicely in my heavy shade.
This gorgeous succulent just belongs on my dining room table. But for $40, he gets to stay at the nursery! However, it costs nothing to admire.

Breathe, froggy, breathe! Froggy looks so center, so placid! Froggy and I seem to share body types! (But I'm workin' on that!)
Never thought I'd say this...."I want snails in my garden! Ones with pretty ceramic shells, that is..."
And toadstools, and little gnomes...
Any kind of daisy is a friend of mine...Gerbenas, Shastas, English daisies; it doesn't matter. They are the most unpretentious flower ever!

 Hubby has a chess set with pieces like this. Hmmm, he doesn't play it ever...I wonder if he'd notice it if I took his Queen, Rooks, and Bishops and stuck them in my flowerpots?
Here's the Bilbo Baggins' house. More stuff for my fairie garden.
Oh dear! I'm glad that water isn't yellow! A grandma had her little grand-daughters with her at the nursery. They were laughing hysterically at this fountain and taking pictures in front of it, positioning themselves to make it look like they were getting tinkled on. Pretty creative if you ask me! I think grandma's outing will long be remembered! (Mom was along too, but she wasn't laughing...)

Lovely little blue blossoms

Exotic orchids
Splashes of color everywhere!

Have a wonderful week. And don't forget to




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