Tuesday, April 29, 2014

For Grandma & Grandpa

This sweet couple are my grandparents.  
All of my life, they've lived in their little house filled with art work (they are amazing artists!) and surrounded by gardens and fish ponds- all of their own creation.
Never well off, always just making-do.  They've created their own fun and kept at their hobbies through the years.  

If you were to arrive at their doorstep, and looking down upon the bottom step, to the right, you'd find their names carved in the cement Grandpa poured to build those steps.

At the door, you'd find a half-gate; upon which they often lean their elbows as they wave goodbye to you from their doorway, tears in eyes, smiles on their faces, no matter if you've been to visit the day before or five years earlier. 

Now, walking into their home, you'd surely be greeted by dogs.  One or two or as many as ten or more at times, most rescued from the Humane Society. As the dogs come to greet you, Grandma or Grandpa would be shooing them away, almost tripping over them to get close enough to hug you.

You'd be clasped in Grandma's arms first, melting into her soft hug and smiling to hear her soft, sweet laugh.  (Which has always reminded me of Dolly Parton)
Next, a hug from Grandpa (if you're a girl) or a warm handshake (if you're a boy).  If you're me, then you get to hear Grandpa comment on how tall you are and enjoy a few witty jokes while he lets you know in every way how glad he is to see you again. 

Walking through their small home, you'll notice in every bit of space things hand made and carefully created.  From their hearth area displaying antiques and wood carvings to the walls and shelves housing paintings and pottery along with family photographs and knicknacks.  

Into the kitchen, more of the same and in the cupboards you're sure to find Grandpa's thick coffee mugs, his Cheez-It crackers and Grape Nuts as well as  Taster's Choice sitting next to the stove.  Grandma is sure to have cottage cheese in the refrigerator and cantaloupe as well.
Before he retired, you would have also found Grandpa's black lunch box on the counter and in another room, well-worn black workboots waiting for the next day at the mill.

If you stay a bit, you'll hear stories and jokes and family lore.  If you stay longer, you may find yourself into an art project or deep into family genealogy or even yard work.

Back in the day, their yard was a glorious acre of land.  Fish ponds and waterfall, every fruit tree you could want, rose gardens and bamboo thickets, a back field Grandpa mowed into a maze for the kids and even a pet cemetery.   

If you were a grandchild, back in the day, you'd be enlisted to help plant violets on the cherished pet graves, feed the hungry fish at four O'clock every afternoon,  pick ripe golden plums from the towering old trees; eating a bunch as well, with juice dripping down your chin and your belly growing tight, pick raspberries or black caps or even Grandma's prized Marion and Logan berries the size of your thumb.  

You'd be sent to fetch a jar of homemade raspberry jam from Grandma's cool canning shed and upon returning with the jar, smell the pungent odor of dill harvested from the garden.   She'd make you a sandwich, consisting of Wonder bread, Skippy peanut butter and her homemade jam.  Nothing on planet Earth tasted better to a grandchild.

Out in Grandpa's workshop, you'd hear him grinding and sawing, building something or creating knives.  (His hobby)  Grandpa was also a gymnast as a young man and would sometimes  show us his athletic abilities.  Grandma was also in great shape and would often have races with us kids, beating us every time.  

 Outside again, you'd be offered a penny per snail that you disposed of to rid the corn patch of them and later, you'd walk with your nickel or dime or quarter down to the little neighborhood store to spend it on candy. 
Along the way, you'd most likely find a can or bottle in the ditch to trade in for the deposit of 5 or 10 cents.   Once there, you'd purchase gum for a penny and a bottle of blue Nehi pop for 20 cents along with a 10 cent pack of candy cigarettes.   

You'd walk back to the house with your brother, sister and cousins, relishing over the treats, pretend-smoking your candy cigarettes and soaking up the summer weather.  Ready to run through the sprinkler in the back yard or watch an old black and white scary movie with Grandma.  

At Halloween, you might be enlisted to help get their yard ready with spooky, hand painted,  glow-in-the-dark headstones, wooden caskets, rubber skeletons and a mummy.   Your aunt would dress up as a witch and greet trick-or-treaters at the door or while stirring a steaming cauldron of apple cider.   
Your own skin would crawl with each recorded scream on the spooky record Grandma played again and again.   (Even though you knew it by heart)  
 You'd be fed a hot dinner of delicious beef stew or spanish rice with a slice of buttered bread and a glass of milk. 
 Never allowed to go trick-or-treating until you first finished that dinner.

At Thanksgiving, you'd enter the house- warm with a wood fire and the smell of turkey in the oven.  You'd see the little house fill up to capacity and then some with relatives of all ages.  Even some who were technically no longer family by marriage.  In-laws and outlaws always welcome.
You'd wander throughout the house, hovering over a variety of conversations, jumping in when it felt right.  A smile on your face and contentment in your heart as you looked upon your loved ones and felt all was right in the world.  

 In the kitchen you'd find Grandpa basting the turkey, getting the skin deep brown and nicely crisp on top.  A couple of grandkids hovering nearby with hopes of a small piece of that skin when the turkey is carved.  
 Grandma giving directions on making the fruit salad to the group deseeding the grapes and slicing the bananas.  She would be peeling potatoes, along with Mom while talking and laughing over numerous things.   Smells, smiles, conversations, babies, hugs and a warm cozy feeling winding its way through the house.  Magic!

I will leave you here, dear reader, to soak up some of the contentment of my childhood.  There are so many more memories to share, but these are simply wonderful.

That little house, that sweet, sweet couple fill my mind and heart with precious memories.  Their home feels like love to me. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


By Mary Engelbreit

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Words to Live by

Beautiful quotes- inspiring and, at times, life changing.

Victor Hugo has penned so many that I love and I feel compelled to add a few here.  For my own blog is a place I return to time and again to re-read the thoughts and experiences I've recorded.  My own and those I've added that inspire me.  This is a scrapbook of sorts, for myself and my loved ones.

"No one knows like a woman how to say things which are at once gentle and deep."

"Conscience is God present in man."

"Evil.  Mistrust those who rejoice at it even more than those who do it."

"There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees."

"To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful."

 "A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."

"Forty is the old age of youth, fifty the youth of old age."

 "Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace."

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."

"When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes."

"Adversity makes men, prosperity makes monsters."

"Initiative is doing the right thing without being told."

"When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable.   There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age."

"One is not idle because one is absorbed.  There is both visible and invisible labor.  To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do.  The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act.  The eyes upturned to Heaven are an act of creation."

"Do not let it be your aim to be something, but to be someone."

"There is in this world no function more important than that of being charming. The forest glade would be incomplete without the humming-bird. To shed joy around, to radiate happiness, to cast light upon dark days, to be the golden thread of our destiny, and the very spirit of grace and harmony, is not this to render a service? Does not beauty confer a benefit upon us, even by the simple fact of being beautiful? Here and there we meet with one who possesses that fairy-like power of enchanting all about her; sometimes she is ignorant herself of this magical influence, which is, however, for that reason, only the more perfect. Her presence lights up the home; her approach is like a cheerful warmth; she passes by, and we are content; she stays awhile, and we are happy. To behold her is to live: she is the Aurora with a human face. She has no need to do more than simply to be: she makes an Eden of the house; Paradise breathes from her; and she communicates this delight to all, without taking any greater trouble than that of existing beside them. Is it not a thing divine to have a smile which, none know how, has the power to lighten the weight of that enormous chain which all the living, in common, drag behind them? Deruchette possessed this smile; we may even say that this smile was Deruchette herself."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Morning

The Man of the House arrived home last night after a week spent with his mom and brother on the coast of Oregon.  Visiting relatives, cleaning family graves, reconnecting.

 Easter is an amazing time - how I love these 'stopping points' throughout the year.  Times to pause, ponder and pray.  We live such busy lives, full of many good things.  But I believe in the good, better, best principle.  It's the challenge of this era in which we live to choose and choose wisely what will fill our time.

 For me, personally, I try to fill my life with family, work, wholesome foods, books and activities. Even within these categories, there is still the good, better, best principle to apply.  It will always be a matter of finding balance.

This Easter morn, I am filled with gratitude for
Quiet spring mornings
Familiar faces of those I love
The gift of a strong body and mind
The usefulness of work and the brilliant effect it has on one's soul
Green life in the form of trees and grasses, newly sprouting vegetables and flowers
The comfort of a good night's sleep beside my husband
The sparkling eyes of a grandchild enjoying Easter's bounties
The laughter of my mother and her good sense of humor
My sister's constant, patient friendship
The opportunity to watch my children grow and mature
 Nieces and nephews whom I adore
Family....with all their quirks and weaknesses....they are beautiful to me
Peace of living in the country
The Atonement

The Atonement- Christ's gift to us.  At- One- Ment.  To be at one with His teachings, His wisdom.
Truly, in those rare moments when I think I have it, think I have reached my goals in living His ways, I know true bliss and deep peace.  
This may last for a few minutes to a few weeks as I am only human and mortal life has challenges.  But I have tasted it- and know it for the great gift it is if only in remembrance.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30

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