My Tummy Isn’t What It Was

Saturday 5-4-57

My Dearest John,

I just got home from shopping so will get a note off to you before I start lunch. Spent $18 on groceries this week, but quite a bit of it went into the deep freeze so I guess that is not too bad. Lots of day-old bread on sale, a half gallon of ice cream at 59¢ and a pork roast in the freezer. Also go fryers for 29¢ for dinner tomorrow. I guess that I should have gotten a couple for the freezer, but the pocket book wouldn’t take that.

Perhaps you are wondering where the money came from. The Lord directed others and are needs are being met – the enclosed letter from Wheaton explains $30 that was sent here yesterday, and Kreimes sent $24 for insurance that I used. Got the rent paid, groceries for today, and enough for offering tomorrow. Still have the utilities, gas, and telephone, plus insurance that will have to be paid this coming week, so if mail comes from you today, those things will be taken care of.

Danny stayed with the girls this morning without complaining much. He is feeling much better, but still has a bad cough, cold, and measles on his body. But the temp is down a lot and he wants to get going, though he tires easily. I won’t take him out tomorrow and it is the rally for CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship] which disappoints the youngsters. They will go, but I won’t hear Dorothy’s Welcome Speech.

Got the whole downstairs cleaned yesterday – really cleaned, floors even waxed. It won’t last long, as sand is tracked in by the shovelful. It is beautiful pure sand that they dug up from the sewer hole, and the children play in it and bring it in. This afternoon while Danny naps we hope to start our garden.

Have had a good fire going yesterday and today – a cold wind blowing – so different from the first of the week.

I have a terrible headache. Dieting always causes constipation. Guess I’ll have to choke down some all bran today. Dr. said to take mineral oil or milk of magnesia whenever I wanted it, but they are both terrible, too.

The package came from Sears that Mrs. Warner ordered. Two lovely dresses – dark blue with a white collar, lovely for Sunday, and a navy blue with pink-rose top that is lovely, too. Smock type. David keeps kidding me about starting in to wear them. Since I’ve lost some weight my regular dresses still fit, though I guess my tummy isn’t what it was.

David just brought a pup in. The eyes are open now. Two weeks old today. My typing is horrid, but I guess you can take me by what I mean and not what I write.

As much as we would like to see you and are waiting for summer, I still think that you had better stay near school next weekend and try to get caught up with your papers, etc. It should all be done soon, and if it goes to the last week, you’ll be a wreck for the whole month of June which is no good. Another thing about staying near school this summer — perhaps you could work on the radio programs that Dan Ball has been working on. Camp still intrigues me, but unless we ate in the dining room all summer I can’t see where with our size family we could get much done outside of taking care of them. I keep looking for ideas in case we do go, and at the same time, work on things here in case we move to Chicago. We are praying and planting as though we will stay here! Quite a situation! If we do stay, let’s think about a trip to Washington.

I can day dream and suppose a lot – eh? Well, I had better close and get down to realities – plenty of them around here. I love you and marvel at the Lord giving me such a patient, loving husband, when I am so much the opposite.

All my love,


27 Summer Benedictions


My summer has included grief, groans, and groping in the dark.
Same as you.
So this is not intended to be an episode of ‘my beautiful life’.
It is my retrospect of benedictions as I press onward.


:: Farmer grandson in line to show his sheep at Stock Show ::


 :: experimental gardening  growing Brussells Sprouts ::


:: captivating clematis ::


:: Mint, juice of one lime, Truvia, ice, and water ::


:: her hair reminds me of a Fibonacci spiral ::


:: halfway through The Pat Conroy Cookbook – a good book for foodies ::


:: garlic scapes and wood rounds ::


:: the moments before Susan from Munich arrived ::


:: anniversary camping trip, Curt reading Shop Class as Soulcraft ::


:: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge ::


:: reminds me of Hank, the Cowdog ::


:: glory, glory, glory!! a surprise sibling reunion! ::


:: Chris & Jessie’s table set for an extended family dinner ::


:: Who knew 80 could look so glamorous? ::


:: this girl, our youngest grand, lives life with zest ::


:: moving up the ladder ::


:: breakfast with Jack & Stacia, who mentored Curt in his teen years in Los Angeles ::


:: harvest golden tones ::


::   Papa cheesing it up with our Seattle grandsons ::


:: Fair is where you take the hogs in August ::


:: my ongoing magnet project — thank you, Shutterfly! ::


:: last year I saved zinnia seeds. My frugal self is exultant. ::


:: squash blossoms, garlic and cilantro from the garden; the makings of quesadillas ::


:: teddy bear doubling as a pillow ::


::  day is done (pinching myself that we live here)  ::


:: chipmunk visiting during my day of silence and solitude ::

Awake Thou Wintry Earth


Chives growing in my garden, February 12, 2016

Awake, Thou Wintry Earth is almost a life anthem. I came to Thomas Blackburn’s poem by way of Bach’s Cantata 129. When I heard it, I came to understand in a new way that spring is an annual demonstration of resurrection. Listening to this still gives me shivers. Singing it means I end up whispering to tell that dead is dead over a voice that is breaking.

I took a walk around my backyard this morning and was delighted to hear garlic and chives laughing at winter, death, decay.

Awake thou wintry earth,
fling off, fling off thy sadness;
ye vernal flowers laugh forth,
laugh forth your ancient gladness.
A new and lovely tale
through-out the land is spread;
it floats o’er hill and dale
to tell that death is dead.

Here is a joyful organ. 1 1/2 minutes that will lift your day high. Sing along! It’s pretty loud; turn your sound down. Or don’t. The organ is a dominating instrument and its volume is glorious!

Saying Thank You Before Opening Gifts

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_A_Little_Coaxing_(1890)I read a passage from The Approaching Storm in September which has taken up residence in my thoughts. It describes a Czech Christmas in 1937.

This was a feudal Christmas. Castle and estate people joined in its celebration, as has always been the custom here. They were all Czech. They came to the tree gorgeously dressed in silk and satin of lovely colors, finely embroidered. The men and boys were as handsomely garbed as the girls and women. There was no servility in these people. I liked their quiet self-assurance.

The celebrations were opened by the children going up to their parents and thanking them for their love and care since last Christmas. The eldest, a son of fifteen, spoke first. He was followed by his brother and sister. This is an annual custom.  […] Then we had the presents.

My first instinct on reading this was to clap my hands together and plan a new custom in our family. Then I paused. This Czech annual custom was rooted in generations of thankful attitudes. Can we turn that around with a simple prelude to opening gifts? No, I debate myself, that is not the way to change a culture. Just another band aid fix.  It’s hard enough to get some of our kiddos to say “thank you” after they’ve opened gifts!

I’ve mulled this over. Thankfulness has to be inculcated in kids from the get go. I’ve seen parents teach thankful habits in tiny tots using Baby Sign Language. Long before they can talk, they sign “Please” and “Thank you”, the cornerstones of good manners.

I’m still pondering, still admiring this custom. Wanting the heart felt version, not the formulaic one. Thoughts, anyone?

My Thanksgivings

DSC_2423I’m thankful for the gloaming,
old hymns in minor keys,
For Reepicheep the Valiant
and our comfortable Jeep.

Forgiveness for besetting sins;
wood that crackles while it heats,
Bach’s glorious Passacaglia,
fresh mint in my smoothie.

For long long-distance phone calls,
long interlibrary loans,
long BBC programmes,
long tables set with love.

I’m grateful for grandsons, boisterous and brave,
for solo granddaughter’s exuberant cheers,
for garlic in olive oil, for book-lined walls,
for Welsh men’s voices, giving me thrills.

Pumpkin soup, spicy cauliflower,
Billy Collins’ poems, a good red,
Jack Johnson on a Friday night,
and uninterrupted sleep.

Truth, beauty and goodness,
goodness and mercy —
a life bejeweled in mercy.

For bedtime laughter,
down comforters,
freedom from debt.

I praise God for reconciliation,
John Rutter and
friends who want my books.

For the long lens,
Hand-painted cards,
alliteration and articulation.

For the befluttering be-prefix,
Besotted am I—beguiled—,
Bespectacled, bestowed,
Beholden, begladdened,

Extended family, a wedding in Maine, lingering memories.
Gathering from distant corners,
beauty bedecked with generosity.

Finding new friendship with old friends,
Finding old friendship with new friends,
kinship renewed, connections rekindled.

For a sister who suffers
Yet bears it with grace,
choosing silence
When tempted to complain.

Pesto, bubble wrap, a man and guitar on a stage,
Asparagus, steam, good water from the tap.

Sons who move in with their elderly mothers,
Daughters-in-law who joyfully rearrange life.

I’m thankful for the death of death,
for mingled tears, for clean grief.
For new widows who’ve discovered joy (!)
in the suburbs of sorrow.

Asian noodle salad, cilantro, Athanasius.
I will always be grateful for Athanasius.

I give thanks for comfy sweaters, for jeans that fit,
Direct communication and southern windows.

For a working esophagus, for toenails and elbows,
For friends who travel and post pictures,
Different cultures, different customs,
same humanity.

Countless gifts of love.




I’m thankful for the gloaming,

ancient hymns in minor keys,

Reuben sandwiches and Subaru engines.


For repeated forgiveness,

wood heat,

Bach’s Passacaglia,

and B.B. King. 


For sibling phone-calls,

library downloads,

BBC films,

an expanded table. 


I’m grateful for grandsons and stacks of books,

for garlic sizzling in olive oil,

for book-lined walls and long car-talks.


For basil, cilantro,


fresh limes,

toddler laughter and

blesséd uninterrupted sleep.


Truth, beauty and goodness,

goodness and mercy,

mercy and grace.   


I’m grateful for Psalms,

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes:

Wisdom for the taking.


I pray for reconciliation,

renewed relationship,

the safe return of a wandering soul.


For husband hugs and kisses,

Love you, Babe…“,

alliteration and Winslow Homer.


Declared righteousness,

Thanks be to God” and

We believe…”.


Extended family, augmented chords, lingering meals,

Scented candles, words!, and memories.


For daughters, and the sons who married them,

Nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews,

Extra sharp cheddar, and

The UPS man carrying boxes.


Pesto, bubble wrap, smiles that light up the whole face,

Asparagus, spiced chai, and abundant drinking water.


Cape Town, Johannesburg,

Budapest, St. Petersburg,

Ankara, Lusaka,

Harare, Krakow;

places where a piece of me resides.

I’m thankful for the death of death, for mingled tears,

For the grace to finish well,

For comfort in sorrow, the grip of hope.


Asian noodle salad, Augustine, whole wheat toast.

Reading evenings, empty nest.


I give thanks for Gore-tex, loving rebukes,

Laughter in the morning and southern windows.


For nostrils, fingernails and funny belly buttons,

For DSL, clematis, and airplane travel,

Enduring friendships,

Lively discussions.


I’m thankful for home,

a place to belong.


“Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.  His mercy endures forever.”


(adapted from previous posts)

The Gift of Ann Voskamp


She looks like a college student, not the mother of six kids, all spritely in her cute black dress and knee length boots. You expect a high voice, but it is a husky one that begins, “I’m in over my head.”

I don’t have time this morning to tell you about her humble spirit, her potent words, her exhortation to slow down, wake up, pay attention and above all to give thanks.

But you can hear her message to Wheaton College students yesterday here.

What I Owe My Father-in-law

The short answer: a bunch.

When I consulted with my 19-year-old self, I decided that one vital point I would look for in a potential husband was a guy who had a robust relationship with his dad. I craved children; even more, I wanted a man who would be a good father to those future children. Specifically, I wanted a man who had lived with an example of strong leadership, who knew firsthand what a good dad looked like; a man who wanted to be like his father.

[Disclaimer: I know that men who have had passive, indifferent, distant, or abusive fathers are capable of being good dads.]

Thus, when I talked to a guy who dissed his dad, I drew a mental X next to his name: Disqualified.

When Curt and I started going out, he was working summers with his dad. He came to take me to dinner in his dad’s brand new Triumph Spitfire. There was a confidence and respect that flowed between those two men. Curt introduced me to his parents very early in our relationship. When it came time to marry, Curt did not hesitate in choosing his Best Man: “my Dad“. After we had children, we moved nine hours to our current location (where Curt’s folks lived) in order for our kids to live close to their grandparents. Curt and his dad formed a partnership and worked together 12 years. Ever since Curt was old enough to hold a gun, they have hunted together.

“Dad” poured himself into Curt, and through the man his son became, my sons and I have reaped a boatload of benefits. What did Curt learn from his dad? Motivation to work; equilibrium expressed in the family motto: Let’s get the work done and then have fun!; a willingness to confront tough issues and pursue resolution; the courage to be unpopular; stubbornness; unflinching sacrifice; bluntness; the beauty of order; affection; fidelity; compassion; service; laughter.

He made an investment. He renewed that investment. He continues to invest. And I am the rich beneficiary.

Dear Joan


Dear Joan,

Thank you.  Even though I had never met you before, and I don’t expect to see you again, you made my day today.

I am the woman in Costco Optical who was standing in front of cases of frames, forlorn, perplexed, indecisive…inadequate.  Still coming to grips with the transition from contacts to glasses.

And there you were: an older woman wearing black tights, an herringbone skirt and black turtleneck, your elegantly coiffed hair framing a face as beautiful today as it was fifty years ago.  Everything about you reflected exquisite taste.  Your deep-set eyes told me that kindness was spiraled into your DNA. 

“Would you mind giving me your opinion?” I appealed, looking as helpless as I felt.  You smiled your assent and we got straight to work.  Which ones have you tried?…Let’s see that one again…No, that’s too harsh….Oh, I really like those!Yes, those are very nice.  You voiced your responses freely but not forcefully.

Here’s the thing: you attached yourself to my need, converting it to our project, fully invested in finding the best frames out of all available.  Halfway through the process I gave a wry grin and said, “Hi, I’m Carol.”  You said, “Hi Carol, I’m Joan.”  And we were comrades.  We chatted and laughed.  You didn’t act rushed, impatient or put upon.

When we had reduced the decision to two frames, you took your leave.  It occurred to me later that you really had no business in the optical department.  You were just there! And then you left. 

I hope that my new glasses remind me of you often, that I remember to be thankful for our ten-minute friendship.  I would love to be like you when I grow up.  I can’t aspire to your beauty, but I can be friendly and available.  Today you reminded me of how refreshing it is to be connected.  To be humans together in this fragmented world.

Thank you.

Yours fondly,


P.S. I ended up choosing the plainer frame.  I know you preferred the ones with pizazz, the sparkles on the corners that matched my coloring.  Someday I will be brave enough for sparkles, but all my life I’ve chosen safe over brave.