Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gifts for Mom

Gifts from nature...
the ones my children share with me always come to mind when I think of Mother's Day.  
I don't know why, as it isn't like the gifts arrive on that day~rather they arrive throughout the year.

Last week this handsome fellow visited me.

Frogs this big explain the consumption of frog legs.

Last  summer, this praying mantis intrigued me until he jumped on me as I was trying to take his picture~evidently he is not photogenic.

The crawdads live in muddy holes at the bottom of the pond, and evidently I need to appreciate this gift as it is reported crawdads pinch hard~shocking news!

The bass doesn't intimidate me as much.

Kade caught one of every critter in and around the pond on his first day at his new home late last summer~including this water snake. Water moccasin country is new to me, so this snake upset me until I could identify it.

The toads hang out near the trees, and Chayse loves to catch the plump amphibians.

My stipulation?  The backyard is a catch and release sanctuary.

I do appreciate the skill of catching the critters and the understanding my children have of the pond ecosystem.  Through those eyes, I appreciate all the gifts my children share with me, and the adventure of discovery brings bright smiles to their faces that makes me smile too~even if my skin is crawling!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


"One of the prettiest birthday cakes ever!"~our 17 year old proclaimed.  It is a good day when a seasoned teenager is happy with my carefully selected cake from the bakery!

And the great thing about birthdays with family...the youngest cousin is keeping his eyes peeled as he moves in on the cake.

But alas...so is dad!

All our kids...

All those candles burning bright...but not as bright as the smile of an adoring cousin!

"What do you mean, I can't blow out the candles yet??"

He is easily placated waiting for the next cake!

She insisted that 19 candles would melt her ice-cream cake, so she lit a few less candles. 

I love that beautiful smile of hers~unchanged through the years!

And she gets much needed help blowing them out!!

An authentic storyboard that captures the essence and chaos of birthday fun!

Happy Birthday, girls!!

May your wishes come true in the year ahead!  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunset Splendor

California sunsets will always be close to my heart~and one of the most vibrant greeted me as I stepped out into the brisk evening air on Sunday evening.  As I stood there knowing I couldn't truly capture the splendor, I let my mind soak in the colors and landscape as I felt the tug of familiarity at my heart.  Here, in this moment, I missed my old home.

My fondness for sunsets began when I was a child, and when I see a prairie sunset, a barefoot little girl emerges who wiggles her toes against the cooling earth.  In contrast, my father loves the sunrise, as it brings the warmth of a new day...and a new beginning. While I appreciate the light nudging slowly against the horizon, my eyes and mind tend to be sleepy, but recently I feel that nudging encouraging me to embrace the emerging day and find my voice again.

The sun sets on our California adventure,  and it rises again to embrace Indiana~and the rich tapestry is woven in our hearts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ocean Images

Tide pools reveal the amazing life underwater.  Kade artistically captured this anemone with his underwater camera.  

And he doesn't miss anything...as this anemone is dining on crab.

Of course we dined on seafood oceanside too!  Though ice cream topped this meal, as Ron spied a whale spout from the window!

A rare photo with my intrepid marine biologist who recently surpassed my height!

Father and daughter enjoy the warmth of the emerging sun!

Sea urchins fascinate me~perhaps it is that purple splash of color they add!

Sea stars have struggled to survive in recent years due to an unusual bacteria, but we were so excited to see a few!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Grandma Hilda

Signs of springs are sprouting everywhere.  The yellow daffodils were first.  Then I noticed the red tulips.  On Saturday the warm sunshine encouraged the trees to blossom too.  The new grass seed is creating a verdant carpet in my yard.

And amidst the changing season, my grandmother quietly slipped away on Saturday afternoon.  With 95 years of living, she had grown weary as the maladies of old age descended in recent years.  In my heart I know she is at peace now, but it is bittersweet because that same heart tightens with the memories of a vivacious grandmother.

As I gaze out at my emerging peonies, I think of her, as I always do because her peony bushes were so beautiful (it was so hard to resist plucking the pretty blossoms as a child!).  Her yard was always alive with color, as I would run and play with my brother and sisters and cousins during our treasured visits. I loved running barefoot through that soft, plush grass!

As we would run and play, my grandmother's hands were never idle, as she pulled weeds and worked in her garden, that abundant garden I will never forget, and the produce that she could transform into a feast that I still recall with fondness, and if I am honest, a longing to have just one more of grandma's Thanksgiving dinners with mashed potatoes piled high and covered in rich, flavorful gravy...and green beans that only grandma could make that enticing to a child.  She was frugal in many ways after surviving the great depression, but never with food~her generosity overflowed as she quickly shared her gift with all of us (family, friends, neighbors, and community) in times of hardship or sorrow or celebration or just because!

The aroma of bacon cooking still often triggers a craving for grandma's platter piled high (and as my own children now clamor for bacon I smile.)  We would start the day at grandma's house with grandpa at the end of the table as he bowed his head in prayer and gratitude before we indulged in our bountiful breakfast

Then, as grandma went about her morning chores, she oft was humming or softly singing hymns, and if I close my eyes I can still hear her.  Even now I will listen to hymns during the day for as an adult I now understand the strength and comfort the words give... and perhaps to also help motivate me to find my grandmother's energy to finish the chores I too often find dreary!

In the rare moments of rest in the afternoon or evening, my grandmother's hands were still busy as she would crochet in her rocking chair.  I always loved watching her hands so gracefully transform thread into beautiful doilies and yarn into colorful blankets.  As a child it was enchanting, so when I became a young bride-to-be, I asked her to create the lace for my wedding dress.  That was nearly 23 years ago that my mother and grandmother created the perfect wedding dress for me that I still love. The lace that adorned my dress on my wedding day was accentuated by my grandparents' presence on my wedding day and throughout my life...quietly exemplifying the deep love and partnership of marriage and family for 58 years.  My grandmother was married to a man she adored (we all did), and she missed him every day after he was gone.

Today, as I walk through my memories I cry, I smile, and I laugh as I try to say goodbye to a woman who will always remain close to my heart. She dearly touched the child I was, the woman I became, and hopefully the grandmother I will become.

I feel the squeeze of her tight hug in my heart today and I hear her voice...

"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling--
Calling for you and for me.
See on the portals He's waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come come;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, "O sinner, come home!"

Friday, April 3, 2015

Awaking to a foggy, grey dawn, we began our trek to Santa Cruz.  As we wound through the familiar mountains, spring was painting the distinctive foliage unique shades of green with help from the coastal environment (similar to a rainforest with the moisture descending from the foggy, humid air~though cooler).

We arrived hungry at the Crow's Nest, and breakfast was served with oceanside views~much to my delight. I have missed dining near the ocean and watching the waves roll into the sandy, craggy Northern California beach~even on a foggy Sunday morning!

Afterwards we tried to capture a group photo with the timer setting when the shopkeeper stepped out onto the marina and offered to help!

Then I tried for a brother and sister shot...but Kade was tormenting his sister resulting in his big grin and her glare (she claims I have a "mom" look but I am not so sure hers isn't better!)

A drizzling rain started as we ventured down the Santa Cruz wharf next, but we sought solace in the rows of shops searching for goodies to take home.  At the end of the wharf we found this exhausted mother sea lion sleeping as her baby nursed.

Then in predictable coastal fashion, the fog lifted and the sun broke through before we headed to the boardwalk (in the background)!

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Gone Fishin'

As we eased onto the California freeway, the morning was still dark.  The rumble of the tires across the rough road filled the quietness.  Chase and I were anticipating our first fishing trip on San Francisco Bay.

Kade had been waiting impatiently for this fishing trip to celebrate the first day of spring break~though he is a seasoned ocean fisherman.

Pulling into the marina, it was quiet.  The rows and rows of boats moored to the docks moved gently in the glassy water of low tide.

Our fishing group slowly straggled onto the boat. The horizon showed evidence of the dawn that was coming before the captain eased the boat out into the waters.

In the cool morning, the boat breezed across the Bay to the north.  I sought shelter in the cabin.

Slowly the day lightened under the cover of fog and clouds.  Finally, the boat slowed and we were instructed to lower our fishing lines. Since salmon season hadn't started, we would be fishing for halibut and striped bass.

The boat trolled and we all waited and watched in anticipation, but the fish were not jumping too quickly for our anchovies.


Chayse snagged the second catch of the day (but it was first in our family) with a little help from the deckhand.

It was a nice striped bass. She was so excited she was grinning for an hour!  (Plus she beat her brother!)

And then she snagged another...though this little guy had to go back.  She was practicing holding him with her fingers~thus the expression of delight on her face!  Though after a little practice, she was soon handling fish like an old pro.

With more patience required, the rest of us waited for the clouds and fog to lift...and then admired the scenery.

 But even a quiet morning fishing is better than school!

Plus nothing beats chilling' with daddy!

Then alas Kade reeled in a nice bass!

And a halibut!  He wanted to catch a halibut just to see what they looked like!

And even mom got in on the action!

It was a picture perfect day.  The Bay was calm.  The sun was shining.  The scenery was stunning.

I don't think I am quite ready for the rough ocean yet...nor the fight of the big ol' salmon...

But this day I will never forget...the smiles...the good-natured bantering...even the occasional tangled line...and the call of "fish-on!" and the scurry to reel and net.