1800's Farmhouse where I grew up

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Half a World Away

I am regularly amazed that my blog is viewed by so many people, and that they are not all logging on from a place somewhere here in the U.S. of A.  When I first started writing, lets just say a "while" ago, I was my only audience, and my writings (ramblings?) were kept private for fear of ridicule or being misunderstood. Especially the song lyrics and poetry that have taken shape in my mind, with only the fourth or fifth mental re-write actually ending up on paper.
Working with words is a tricky business.  It is easy to bare your soul when writing about topics that are close to your heart, and learning to take criticism, both good and bad, is a given. Editing student papers for years has given me some insight into critiquing written works with both compassion and an open mind to the message the writer is attempting to convey to their readers.  Remembering the countless papers and essays of my own children throughout high school and college...always prefaced with a whiney-voiced reference to the assigned length of 1,000 words or more...I was quick to remind them I have words (and I know how to use them!). 
My daughter's friend from down-under warmed my heart today when she mentioned I had helped her, from half a world away, to put words to a memorable and emotional experience she had overlooking crashing waves of the Pacific in Australia. 

I think this points to the pull of song lyrics for the teens and tweens, and poetry for the more refined reader.  When another individual can put into words or lyrics the feelings of love, angst, anger, and other emotions, the listener has an "ah-ha!" moment, bringing together swirling feelings and descriptive phrases with a clarity that just moments before had been non-existent. 
I write for myself, for the pleasure it gives me to create and express myself.  It is an added bonus when others appreciate my efforts or applaud my creations, and I am so very thankful for that. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, March 28, 2011

Forcing Spring

It's definitely time to shed my winter frame of mind in favor of longer daytime hours, and eventually, warmer snow-less days.  A much needed break visiting the birthday girl this weekend was uneventful weather-wise, and the greening scenery with cloudless blue skies on my journey served to both increase my desire for warm weather and soothe my tired winter soul.
Kate and I broke out the cleaning supplies and put our heads together to redo her dark and wintry bedroom. By the time I left, brights of purple, pink, and teal floral-bedecked paisley swirls covered her bed. Purple silk dogwood and spring greenery popped against a newly painted white wall, nearly screaming "SPRING!" Yellow blooms, like miniature suns graced her dining area.  Beach accents were also turned up a notch in the bathroom, with a sign announcing that "The sea calms the soul".  Amen to that, and countdown to Mother's Day at the BEACH!
Visiting the Presbyterian church in her town, we were treated to a sermon expressing the effect of nature on the human condition.  Solitude in nature does not promote feelings of lonliness, but of wholeness. There's a reason eggs (new life), bunnies (always reproducing), and Easter grass fill baskets at this time of year. There is a promise made and delivered to us each spring that life indeed goes on, despite the harshness of nature during winter or after globally felt storms, as have been felt world wide this winter season. (Summer down under in Australia.) 
The promise of spring....this year... still remains a promise. The calendar announced the new season, but Mother Nature seemed to miss the memo. So for now, I will continue to THINK spring, to spring clean, and force blooms that keep that promise alive in my heart.
Forsythia is always the first bush in my yard to erupt with blossoms, about the same time the daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths pop through the frozen ground and burst itno bloom.  This year we have flowers pushing through SNOW, greeting still cold days with the outstretched greens.  Surprisingly, day lilies I don't usually see before early summer were convinced during the unseasonably warm days in February to adjust their arrival time. It appears the gardening game is ON!


Thinking... and forcing SPRING!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

My BABY is a quarter of a century old today, and I would sincerely like someone to explain to me when exactly that happened?!?  I am positive it was just yesterday that she was a 3 year old clinging to my leg as I rang the bell of our new neighbor's house to introduce ourselves. I am sure it was only yesterday that her big brother thought it would be a good idea to make her take a bite out of a night light bulb. I am certain it was only yesterday that her little 3 year old hand took mine, and calmed MY fears as she was about to receive stitches for a gash in her chin...telling me not to worry, because Jesus was with her. *Sniff*
There are certain stories that you just never forget. They live in your memory as though they did just happen yesterday.  Mothers forever remember the intense labor, and pure joy, when their newborn child is placed in the arms, pain immediately forgotten.  The fact of the matter is that your child, your baby, will always be your child and your baby.  Even when they are a quarter of a century old.
So as we sing and celebrate, as the candles are blown out, the private moments, memories and stories flood back, warming the heart and once again bringing out that unconditional love a mother has for her child.  When their special day arrives and they are hours from home, leading adult lives, we can be thankful their new found "family" of friends will also celebrate their life and new found "old age".
Here's to birthdays, extended family (thank you Ping and Dont!), and our babies staying forever young in our hearts.

Oh, and let them eat cake! 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3
Happy Birthday BABY!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Curly Sue

Rushing to the nursing home after school today I hoped Mom would still be awake. It's her normal shower day and it tends to wear her out to the point of "sawing wood" when she dozes off in her lounge chair.  I found her wide awake and smelling sweet from her bath time, and was astounded to see the hospice aide had dried and curled Mom's nearly white hair. The new "do" softened her features and made me yearn for the days when our curly headed mother with the big smile would greet us all with hugs at the door when we visited. It was truly bitter sweet, and brought tears to my eyes.

As usual, though, Mom dozed off as I was talking to her. I work very hard not to take it personally, assuming it isn't my daily stories rehashing my day that cause her to go into hiding behind her nearly translucent eyelids.  She loves my company, of that I have no doubt. My presence brings her some peace and security in the chaotic moments she survives each day on her unit.  I understand now that, when she holds my hand and dozes off, she is comforted and feels safe in my company. She is able to relax and rest.
I also found a flower on Mom's pillow today. Some benevolent soul had placed an unopened daffodil on each resident's bed.  A true sign of spring and the hope it brings our tired, winter souls is unequalled.  Mom, like many of the residents, was oblivious to the gift, although I did attempt to get her to notice the sunshine yellow of the bloom by waving it under her nose. I brought the bud home with me to place in a vase on my kitchen island, a bright reminder from nature to let our light shine, no matter how hard winter is trying to hang on right now.
I sent my silent thanks to the secret flower girl or guy, and hope they somehow know they truly brought some sunshine into my life today.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

Here in the mountains, we are celebrating the first day of spring with about 4 inches of the white stuff and a SNOW DAY from school. Quite unexpected.....who believes the weather forecasters these days?!  It sure looks pretty, but it is difficult to believe I was sunning my oh-so-white legs on my porch in 50 degree weather just yesterday. Friday I had already shed my coat and packed away sweaters. With another day of snow, note I didn't say snow day (ah!) due on Wednesday, I can only hope this surprise from nature is short lived and melting quickly!
Now I have some shoveling to do, and apparently time to work on the next chapter in Country Roads. Until I am able to get out on those roads to walk, I will live through my own story.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

PS Weather done RIGHT yesterday
Happy Valley Style....thanks Kate

Yessssss, she rubbed it in a bit!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Story Two...Continued

Continued from Original Blog Country Roads, January 28, 2011
Relaying the story to her brother, who moonlighted as a security guard, meant Kate was in for a lecture on safety afterwards. She new she should have had her cell phone with her, even (or especially?) on infrequently traveled country roads. I’m strong, and fast, and smart, she thought to herself, rationalizing her lack of preparedness in an emergency. Besides, there wasn’t a Pine Ridge, or Pine Anything road around here that even has cell service.
“Psshhh”! The expelled air calmed Kate a bit, as she thought about her early morning experience. Then she giggled to herself. He’s probably some nice, old man who thought I needed a ride, right?
Glancing at the pendulum clock Kate had inherited from her grandparents, she realized Topher was likely to be sleeping in especially late, after a night shift. Thankfully the tale of her “brush with death” could wait. And Dad never had to hear it at all.
Pouring a steaming cup of tea with an excessive amount of sugar and half and half, Kate returned to her waiting laptop to work while the cottage was quiet and still relatively cool. In a few hours the sun would beat down on the surrounding decks, inviting Kate to take a sun-break. This was her summer ritual. Workout, shower, write, RELAX.
Today’s agenda took such a twist when run for your life was added to the mix, Kate thought.
“Back to work”, she said out loud.
Pulling her still somewhat shaky legs beneath her on the couch, Kate began typing.
“The incidence and risk of suicide in brain injury patients increases for those sustaining repeated concussions during athletic events.”
Her latest story for FemSport was beginning to take shape. The controversial topic was difficult to address and personally devastating, knowing people who had lost loved ones in such a tragically, horrific way. All stars and scholarship athletes, ending their own lives after concussions had altered their frame of mind, or perhaps even their brain chemistry. That’s what she hoped to learn and present in her current article, after meeting with an expert later in the week.
A stiff neck and aching knees alerted Kate to the fact that she had been curled up and hunched over her laptop for over an hour. It took her the better part of five minutes to untangle her long legs and slowly stretch the taut muscles both there and in her neck. What she wouldn’t give for a shoulder massage right now, she thought.
Rubbing her own neck as she headed for the kitchen to find food, Kate felt a presence before she heard the sound outside her front door. She had locked it, hadn‘t she? The hair on the back of her stiff neck stood up, and that fight or flight instinct kicked in, sending her heart racing as she approached the door. A shadow crossed the arched, glass panel at the top of the door as something briefly blocked the sun from entering the room. The sun was now at its peak in the sky, but Kate felt a chill, fear gripping her and leaving her unable to move any further. Whatever caused the shadow, just as suddenly moved away. Swallowing hard, Kate got up the nerve to approach the door. As her trembling hand touched the doorknob, she closed her eyes, took a deep, steadying breath, and pulled the door towards her.
A sudden flutter of wings caused a gasp to escape her lips. Then nervous, relieved laughter bubbled up, making Kate sound a bit on the hysterical side. Thankfully the only one to hear her was the blue bird, caught stealing pieces of Spanish moss from the wreath that decorated the front door of the little cottage. The events of that morning had affected her more than even she had realized.
It was time to tell SOMEONE, and to do a little investigating of her own.

Part 3 Anyone?!
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Whose Cause is it Anyway?

I can't go anywhere in my smallish town without being asked either for money, a signature, my time, or today.... to beep my horn.   The support staff union at our local medical center is on strike. While I am 100% behind their right to do so, I cringe at the idea of blaring obnoxiously loud and somewhat rude/crude music outside the windows of those needing hospitalization.  While I believe in the right to free speech, I stumble in my backing when bull horns are used so close to a nursery where newborns lay, or cancer and cardiac patients recover from surgery.  I refused to BEEP my support, outside of an institution where people on hospice are taking their last breaths.  I know I sound anti-support.
In actuality I am a giver, usually of my time or helping in some way, although I feel like a Scrooge every time I say, "Sorry, not today", to hopeful faces from brownies through the VFW.  Mind you, I occasionally drop in a buck, but where does it end?  There are so many GREAT, worthy causes out there.  The cause of the week seems to be Japan, and well, if it's not... it should be.  Just the images of destruction and homeless people makes me want to cry.  And then I remember my church is hosting several homeless families this week too. I should really be there doing what I can.
Instead, I was once again at the nursing home giving my time to Mom. In the end I think this is as it should be.  Mom is not a cause, but she is worthy of my time and the funds I spend keeping her clothed and well taken care of now.  It is not charity, but love. It is not a donation of my time, but an investment.  It is not done to receive, but to give.  She is my family.
I also arrived home today to find a fundraiser packet from my GROWN son's drum corps band.  It made me laugh, remembering all the pizzas, wrapping paper, and goodies we bought to support him in his high school band. Thankfully, the Blue Band at PSU didn't nickel and dime the parents. They just flat out asked for (large) donations. I have to give them credit for that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


A picture is worth a thousand words, yet this one leaves me speechless.

Hair Cut $25
Nursing Home $7,000
Time with Gram....

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Last week the doctor took Mom off Aricept, the drug used to help with her memory as the Alzheimer's was claiming her life one remembered story at a time.  I understand his decision, and support the idea of minimizing unnecessary meds. The drug treats mild to moderate cases, and we have surpassed that stage in Mom's care.  She is comfortable, well fed, and has many aides who dote on her at the nursing home.  The idea of quality of life for her has changed dramatically since she first became a resident there. 
During her initial 2 years on the ACU (Alzheimer Care Unit), Mom participated in daily activities that included the likes of parachute play, seated kickball, indoor (plastic) bowling, along with singing and dancing. Sadly, her then dance partners have gone before her to that big ball room in the sky. So have the duets and quartets that sang incredibly accurate and musically sound versions of Chattanooga Choo Choo and other oldies but goodies.  I miss them all, as well as the fun of observing or participating in their social and recreational activities. 
Since Mom's hip was broken 2 1/2 years ago, and as surgery was not an option due to non existent bone density and her inability to rehab in a constructive way, she has been a granny on wheels.  As her body has deteriorated from lack of use, her mind has gone the same way. Aphasia has turned into a general lack of speech.
Then today, a week after stopping her memory drug, something of a miracle occurred.  Mom began repeating many words I was saying to her. She smiled her beautiful smile for the first time in a very long time. I was elated, and yet it broke my heart at the same time.  I know in my heart this is not permanent, but to have such a gift for even a day is something to celebrate and be thankful for.  Mom's aide mentioned she even tried to feed herself today, for the first time in an even longer time.  It is most definitely a miracle. Small by many standards, but huge in my life, for I thought the mom I knew was already gone forever.
This glimpse into the past has reaffirmed my faith, blessed me with something of a family reunion, and given me the strength to handle whatever God places before me and Mom on this journey we call life. Amen to that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Twins and Things

Mom was a twin. Dad was a twin. Mom's twin had twins.  I found out today that I have a twin also....not the identical, born at the same time kind of twin, but the mother-daughter variety.  More like a mini-me, except when your daughter is taller than you are, she's not exactly mini.  There is a family resemblance, with similar hairstyles, heels equalling out our heights, and strikingly similar clothing styles. When being processed by an elderly mind, all things added equals...well, twins. 
Katie and I visited Mom at the nursing home while she was home this weekend, and this is where we discovered we were "twins". In actuality, Katie was told she looked better as a blond. The blond was actually me. I can not even imagine how the resident's mind was working when she saw Kate and I together, how she processed two similar images, decided they were twins, then translated that information into mirror images to comment that Kate (me) looked better as a blond. Confusing.
The mind is truly an amazing thing.  I have read that we only use about 20% of its capacity for learning, solving, and storing facts and information.  The potential is there, the ability and neurons are there, yet we somehow are unable to make use of it.  Building up the brain, working it out, generating new connections can stave off diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia in later years. Like muscles, the brain must be worked in order to strengthen it.
During Katie's visit this weekend, we also found some time to play a few games of Scrabble. It was fun, but not as intriguing as I thought it would be. I don't recall ever playing it as a child, but perhaps I did and it is my brain's inability to bring up that information.  Personally, I prefer the word game of creating smaller words from the letters that make up a larger one.  For example, the word achievement can be scrambled to form words like hive, chive, and meant. It's a great game to play mentally, no equipment, gameboard, or pencil and paper required.
Twins often skip a generation, so the probability of Katie having twins is conceivably far greater than mine had been.  I look forward to having granchildren, and especially the idea of a two for one deal.  I will cherish whatever we are blessed with, and pray that good health and more mental gymnastics will keep the degenerative diseases of the brain at bay, both for myself and future generations. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Thursday, March 10, 2011


As the rain pummels the northeast, particularly the east and west sides of my state, the central counties have somehow escaped the worst of the deluge. This makes my daughter happy, but for me, I am currently living in fear that the sump pump will die a quiet death while I sleep. Awaking to an indoor basement pool is not something I want to repeat, as we have had to throw out life preservers for some of our family room furniture and other items twice before.  Since then I have sworn by our newly installed B-Dry system, and just want to say...don't fail me now! Tomorrow promises to bring clearing skies, and with it safe travel for my daughter to come home for a weekend of shopping for her upcoming birthday, and all the good food she can eat. The fact that for 2 days she doesn't have to cook it herself is a bonus.
It still strikes me as strange that my baby is all grown up and living and working so far from home.  She recently sent me a pic of her in her lab coat....giggling the entire time she was posing.  I think she finds it even harder to believe that she is a mature and contributing member of society.
At work she is currently researching and providing data to doctors on head trauma injuries. I find it interesting and am totally proud of her knowledge, the experience she is gaining, and how capable she is in her role at the lab.  There is no doubt in my mind I would trust her with my life....and should probably have my head examined at some point.
Her Gram and Farfar are happily contemplating spending some time with their granddaughter, or at least they would be if either had any sparks left in their short term memory. While biology and disease has stolen pieces from their memories, the upside is the joy that overtakes them at "surprise" visits they were told about repeatedly.
Here's to family reunions and living in the moment.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What are you making for dinner?

Reservations! I've always loved this old joke, because I truly hate to cook. If anything takes longer to make than it does it eat, I most likely won't be making it. As a kid, my mom served us the typical meat, potatoes, and vegetable dinner, and although I had my favorites, the canned beans were uninspired. Our family didn't have pizza for dinner until I was in high school.  Until reaching college, I never realized how deprived my taste buds were.
I have adapted most of Mom's recipes to appeal more to my own family's tastes, and vegetables are now fresh or frozen....which means I eat a lot more of them!  Mom's homemade potato salad, minus the onions and celery seed, is requested by my kids and even my daughter's boyfriend.  It wil always be known as Gram's Potato Salad.
Most of what I make now has an Italian flare, learned basically through trial and error, although I did discover what a creamy addition ricotta cheese can be in pasta dishes. I learned that from my SWEDISH mother-in-law.  I quite honestly have no recipes from Denmark or Sweden. She embraced being American, and otherwise cooked to please her Italian husband. 
The rest of my culinary triumphs came from recipes that claimed to be ready in 20 minutes or less. That's my kind of food! As it turns out it is my daughter's kind of food as well.  After her first year of dorm life at college, she excitedly moved into an apartment, but the one drawback to being grown up was the cooking.  I sent her off that year packed with her Gram's old cookware, plates, and silverware, along with a small book of recipes that even she couldn't mess up.

She found it hysterical that her entire repetoire of recipes numbered less than a dozen, and despite explicit directions, she still called home everytime she attempted to cook.  In spite of herself, some of her meals were quite good, although she didn't like cooking enough to do it often. Thankfully though, she had one roomie who would feed her on occassion, and her other unfed nights became take out or something simple. (Cereal?!)

Now that she has another hungry person to feed, with an appetite like no one we know, she has grown into the art of cooking, and experiements a bit beyond my tried and true recipes. That's the way it should be. We take what we are taught, incorporate our own likes and dislikes, and create something new based on the old. It is much like this with traditions, customs, and parenting, in addition to cooking.  We all learn from each other and pass on what we know from loved ones, and of course from family.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Parking Gestapo

My time is limited for visiting with my ailing mother.  Circumstances have changed dramatically since she was in her own home. At that time I had a key, and could come unannounced, staying over if need be. The nursing home still advertises a facility where loved ones can visit at any time...day or night.  The web site, nor any printed information, don't seem to have (but perhaps should) the fine print that gives exclusions to this offer. 
Arriving at my usual time to see Mom recently, I was flagged down in the parking lot before I even had an opportunity to look for a parking space. Lowering my window, the receptionist-turned-parking-gestapo barked at me, "You can't double park!"  I wasn't even aware all the spaces were filled at that point, and felt almost violated by the brusque treatment.  Thankfully, another visitor was departing as I was biting my tongue, holding in the response I would have liked to share. Suuuuureee I can come ANYTIME....as long as there's parking! In a discussion with the facility administrator just a short week before this incident, I was instructed to come see him if there was no parking available. Apparently he forgot to mention I'd have to come see him about there being no parking when there WAS parking. Ridiculous right?
After parking, I headed for the main entrance, biting back a giggle at the receptionist being wind-blown and aggravated. There was a lot of that going around that day.  I am certain her job description does not include parking attendant, and her treatment of visitors was tempered by this fact. It was also only about 32 degrees outside that day.
Once inside, breathing a sigh of relief, I was able to greet Mom, grab her a snack, and we headed to our usual hangout in the sunroom. Or so I thought. The door was closed, but opened as if by magic as I approached to reveal a meeting in full swing.  The sunroom is advertised as an amenity for residents, but on that day was being used for training sessions. I was told it would be free the next hour, so I bit my tongue again....a little harder this time....to wait it out.
Unfortunately, the information I had been given was again incorrect. A second hour of training sessions were to start.  At this point I felt compelled to file a grievance.  I am truly not an unreasonable person.  I definitely don't like to make waves.  Over the past 5 years, though, I have learned the true lesson of the squeaky wheel, and went ahead with my complaint.  Mom and I had only an abbreviated visit as there was nowhere to sit quietly with her. This made me more sad than angry, and feeling emotional, I fled the building before tears overtook me.
A few days later I was approached by the unit director with the training staff in tow.  I received an apology and the promise that future training sessions would not be held in the residents common areas.  I appreciated this gesture, but feel the need to insure it is followed in the months and years to come.
Petty? Perhaps.  When there are individuals who cannot speak for themselves, someone needs to speak up. And for Mom I would do anything, because family is everything.
By the way, turns out there was no parking due to the ill planned, timed, and improperly located training sessions. Imagine that.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Still Do

Thirty years ago today I was on spring break from my first teaching job.  It was also the week before my wedding, which had initially been planned for summer of that year.  Teaching at the same school as my husband, a couple states away from home, we decided to move the wedding up to our spring break. I had a week off for the final list of things to do, and a honeymoon week following the mid-break ceremony.  Perfectly laid plan.
From the date of our engagement in August of the previous year, plan time amounted to only seven months, and was being done long distance, mostly by my mom.  In retrospect, I am amazed we were able to pull things together so fast, and so well.  While time was not on our side, the fact that I was no "bridezilla" was. I would travel three hours home for weekends spent dress shopping, flower selecting, and reception hall hunting.  Once I had THE DRESS, the rest was easy.  My fairly simple tastes made selection of invitations easy and flowers even easier.  A reception to be held in the ballroom of a local racquet club was also a piece of cake....which they provided with the sit down dinner for almost 200. 
There were no real snags except the missing song for our first dance, for which we easily substituted another equally romantic and meaningful tune.  The most wonderful memory I have from the day of my wedding was the feeling of calm, and everything being right with the world as I waited for the evening ceremony. I was a very happy bride.
Thirty years later I still am. I still "do".  I find it uncanny at the timing of my husband discovering a yellowed slip of paper among his mother's things yesterday, much like I did recently.
His mother and I were not what I consider to be close while she was alive, but I loved her and wished I had the words to comfort, to connect, or to just talk sometimes during her life ending battle with cancer.  I am sure she knew my depth of caring, but it makes me pause with regret to this day.  Before John and I married, she and I never talked about marriage, and she never shared with me any advice or thoughts on the nuptials. Now, thirty years later, my husband handed me this just discovered top ten list, written in his mom's own handwriting.
"The Ten Most Important Things in a Marriage".  Love, laughter, talk, involvement, friendships, integrity, tolerance, adaptability, sex, sharing.  All true, so true.  I can't help but wonder at the circumstances causing her to pen the list. Was it something she had shared with my late sister-in-law perhaps, or a moment of wisdom she had hoped to share with me or my husband? We will never know for sure, but the fact that it has surfaced means it will give future generations the benefit of her insight and power of perseverance with a man she loved with all her heart... when he wasn't driving her crazy. I am grateful to have this heartfelt, handwritten advice to pass onto my own daughter, together with my own recipe for a good marriage, before she weds the love of her life one day. 
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Friday, March 4, 2011

Forever Young

I spent the afternoon with the most amazing woman I have had the pleasure to call MOM.  She is now 82 years young, and to celebrate we had a quiet time decorating her once-Christmas tree for spring. It is now a colorful piece of art, with colored eggs, pip berry rings, grapevine hearts, and bows added to the lights. I used to laugh at people who hung plastic eggs on trees. The joke is on me now, since Mom's little tree is festooned with the same brightly colored eggs.  The nursing home had threatened to take down her tree since it was no longer Christmas.  It is now seasonally correct, however, and Mom can continue to enjoy the twinkling lights when she lays down each night.  I am thankful she has such small pleasures.
Before going to see Mom today, I purchased my first real piece of art from a former student at our local high school.  It was intended to be a gift for Mom's birthday, but I am not yet ready to part with it. The piece evokes such strong emotion in me, that, much to the young girl's chagrin, I couldn't hold back the tears when I first held it in my hands.  The artist was not someone I knew, but from the first time I saw her creation in a school showcase, I was brought to tears by the powerful message it relayed. I have never been brought to tears by a piece of art.
The picture is beautifully done in pencil, which accentuates the aged features and deeply lined faces of the central figures. They are an old, distinguished looking, and obviously in love couple. The gentleman is affectionately holding, and kissing, the hand of his true love. Superimposed, and appearing to escape from their memories, are childhood versions of the same two old souls.  The young faces, so innocent and playful, are at the same time separate, and yet part of the two old people.   A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. As much as I love to write, I find that I am at a loss to fully explain the impact of this piece of art on my heart and mind.

Though young in years, the artist must have an "old soul" to see so clearly what everyone else misses. I wish her years of creative, passionate, and heart touching art work.  I don't think she has yet realized the depth of her gift, and I am honored to be the first patron of one of her pieces. I have an original Lauren Williams.

A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Cutting Edge

I never remember my mother having a wood cutting board. Of course that doesn't mean she didn't have or use one, just that it has joined the black hole of memory details that seem to escape me at times. My in-laws, on the other hand, had several boards of different sizes that they pulled out to cut and chop various veggies and fruits, many of which I had never had before. One of my favorites they introduced me to was fennel. With the crunch of celery and a hint of anise in it's sweet taste, it was an instant hit.
Recently, my favorite cutting board...given to me by my in-laws no less, is showing signs of age. The wear and tear of decades of family picnics, holidays, and week night meals has scarred the maple.  It is also developing a crack, just off center, that threatens to split each time I mince an onion. There is so much character in the old cutting boards, that I cannot toss them away, or relegate them to the wood stove as my husband is so eager to do. Instead, I have found a new purpose for the old boards.
One round board, that I distinctly remember my father-in-law using to prepare the end of the meal salads he was so fond of, recently landed in my craft room, secretly saved from the wood pile by the stove.  I have always wanted a wall decorated with old game boards in my family room, but was abhorred by the prices being charged.  Thus began my quest to turn old cutting boards into usable game boards that are both  functional and decorative. Not to mention it's fun to find and paint them.
My first creation took only the drying time of the paint to make.  It is simple, but colorful, and inspired me to contemplate designs for future restorations.  I have seen many collections of old cutting boards displayed, well, as cutting boards.  Watching my pieces evolve into game boards has been wonderfully pleasing.  Checkerboards are my current go-to pattern, but my goal is to find a board both big enough ,and with enough character, to create a Parcheesi game board. This was my favorite game as a kid, and I promise I really WILL play it if I can just pull it off the wall! ( That's for you Katie!)
Re-purposing something that would end up in a landfill or adding a few BTU's to your house is well worth the time.
A warm country hug to all,
Lisa <3

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

G'Day Mate

The other day I spent a few minutes trying to figure out more of the available apps and such on this blog site. In looking at my "audience", I discovered I have had people from as far away as Sweden and Australia view my blog. Wow! Then I remembered one of my daughter's best friends is studying abroad this semester... way down under.
Being in the southern hemisphere, the Aussies are enjoying their summer-into-fall season, as we rush spring on the heels of the last snowstorm.  I am truly looking forward to hearing stories of the kanga and roo variety, as well as see pics of the pandas (koalas?), and nearby reefs. So Natalie, get to work on that and keep us all updated! What we have all lost in your absence, will bring us views of the world we may never have the chance to see. Consider yourself blessed to have this opportunity.
Only once in my life have I left this country, and that was on my honeymoon to the Bahamas. It was a wonderful trip, and I have no wish to replace it with another memory.  I thoroughly enjoy the idea of traipsing off to explore new places, but in reality would rather see them through a good book or movie, while curled up in a chair at the beach, or by the pool or a warm fire. There is something to be said for living vicariously. No jet lag, language barrier, 4 hours in an airport, customs searches, or breaking the bank. 
Here's to the adventurous souls and brave at heart who, after exploring new places, find that coming home is just as exciting as taking off for new places.  When you return, Nat, we will see you at Kate's and you can show us how to throw a shrimp on the barbie and celebrate Aussie style.  You are missed.
A warm country hug to all (continents),
Lisa <3