Thursday, July 17, 2014

Housing Matters

Everyone needs a good, sturdy, lovely home.

Even dolls and fairies.

This week, we’ve had doll house lovers and fairy-house builders visiting. Doll houses have been decorated and re-decorated,  and the big back-yard trees have provided lovely building sites. There is plenty of building material: sycamore bark, leaves, acorns, tiny branches fallen in the last storm . . . fairy comfort was well considered in the furnishings and arrangement of rooms.

I think any house-hunting dolls or fairies will be pleased with our efforts.

It’s got me thinking, though, about what it takes to make a home.

A sturdy, comfortable building is important, of course, and I’m particularly partial to a space with big windows and lots of light. I like spacious rooms, high ceilings, and generous closets.

But it takes more than pretty, comfortable space to make a home. It takes laughter, music, good company, and enough of life’s necessities . . . and those things require a bit of purposeful thought. We need to be intentional about creating family, about making space for friends, for hospitality of the heart.

We learn that from experience, from seeing the people who care for us making room in their lives for us, and maybe we begin to learn to do it ourselves, when we make a home . . . for dolls and for fairies.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rainy Days and Mondays . . .

One of the 5-year olds is staying with us this week-end while his parents are away. This morning we woke up to grey skies, and sure enough, by breakfast time it was raining.

What to do on a rainy Monday? Laundry awaited, but first we had to make provision for a very energetic boy; no outdoor romp for us – at least not for a few hours.

TinkerToys? Blocks? Or perhaps the barn and tractors? 

Why not all of them? And a bear or two to help out?

Don’t forget the cars and trucks, and maybe a few Legos. And trains – we need the trains.

It’s fun to see a child entertain himself, with a little help from some friends.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Like many things, gratitude is sweeter when it is shared.

For the past few years, our Thanksgiving celebrations have become an opportunity to share not just a meal, but also the blessings we've experienced over the last year. We write them on some seasonal symbol -- autumn leaves, acorns, pumpkins -- and as people come for Thanksgiving dinner, we post them somewhere, usually in the kitchen, since everyone ends up in the kitchen sooner or later.

I try to send out the leaves or the acorns or the pumpkins a week or two before Thanksgiving so everyone has a chance to think about their blessings. That's part of the fun, too -- taking a bit of time to remember and write down all the good things that have happened, all the blessings we've experienced individually, and as a family.

Each year I keep those symbols with any other mementoes of that particular Thanksgiving, and once in awhile I look through them. They are a record of family joys, news, and growth, and a way of reliving a year's worth of blessings. As I sift through them, I am reminded all over again of how much we have to be thankful for.

Like every family, we have difficult times, disagreements, secret sorrows. Naming the things for which we are grateful, focusing on thanksgiving helps to balance out those things, and gives us a measure of strength to carry on -- a kind of secret weapon against all the things that wear us down and out.

And it's fun to see what the rest of the family comes up with, to compare the perspective of the 4-year old with the 80-year old, to see if anyone has a bit of good news to share (like "we're thankful for the new baby on the way!"), to appreciate the artistic stylings of family members who improve on the standard leaves or acorns or pumpkins.

 Invite your family to list their blessings, and enjoy the way they multiply.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

So What Have You Been Doing With Yourself?

Change happens.

One day, one hour, one minute at a time, things change, and we hardly notice.

Then suddenly we realize a lot of time has passed, and a lot of things have changed.

So it's been awhile since I've posted here -- and really, did anyone notice? -- but it seems as if it might be time to re-visit Grandma on Board, write a bit about what's been happening around here, share a few stories, ideas, and questions, get re-acquainted.

We'll see how it goes . . .

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Bridge From Here to There . . .


May is like a bridge from spring to summer, and this year, it's almost as busy as December.

 There are concerts, games, and end-of-school events to attend, birthdays, Mother's Day, graduations, birthdays, and wedding anniversaries to celebrate, and flower beds to tend. And this year, just to make things more interesting, we have a bridge/road construction project going on in front of our house.

And someone gave me some sourdough starter.

All good things -- just so many good things that it can be hard to take a deep breath during May.

So, how do you cope with being so busy?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coming Right Up . . .

Thanksgiving is coming right up, which means that this week means getting down to cleaning and baking.

It feels like stage management: what we're doing is setting the stage, so to speak, for our family and friends to come together and celebrate. Pleasant surroundings and good food contribute to the over-all experience, and that's where the cleaning and baking come in.

A clean, welcoming home, filled with the fragrances of good food, is the foundation of fun. Making sure there are comfortable places for guests to hang their coats, to sit and visit, to eat, and to have fun together means our guests are more likely to have a good time together.

So this week is scrubbing, washing, dusting, and maybe even a little furniture moving; it's baking and planning menus and shopping. The goal is to create a space and time when we can relax together, and remember how much we love each other; to cherish old memories and make new ones. We'll take pictures, tell stories, laugh -- and eat!

Building a family can seem difficult at times, tedious at others -- the work of it sometimes seems to go on and on and on. But what a harvest! The day comes when all that hard work bears fruit, and we see our loved ones enjoying one another's company, caring for each other, welcoming spouses and children and friends into the family circle. And that fruit, that harvest, is something to give thanks for.

It's coming right up!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Need to Nest . . .

As the season changes, I'm reminded of the importance of a cozy nest. We all need one: some place where we are sheltered, protected, comfortable.

I love to study the ways birds build their nests. They use all kinds of materials: mud, straw, string, bits of plants and flowers -- they are practical and creative and what they end up with is usually sturdy as well as pretty.

We're looking around our nest with an eye to change. What do we need to change, adjust, rearrange so our nest will be more efficient, more practical, more pretty?

And how about you -- how's your nest?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Change of Season

Is there ever a time when things aren't changing?

We had to cut down a tree this fall, to accommodate some construction work being done on the bridge by our house.

It seems wrong to cut down a healthy tree, but in this case, cutting down one linden tree may have saved at least one other healthy tree.

Still, change is difficult.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Sandwich Generation

These past few weeks have been busy ones.

I’m the peanut butter in a generational sandwich, helping my aging mom at the very same time my kids are raising their own kids and looking to me for a measure of involvement in their lives, and even occasional help.

It’s a rich blessing to be involved with multiple generations. It’s also a recipe for intense busyness.

I find myself sandwiching mom’s doctor appointments in between end-of-the-school-year events my grandkids have invited me to. Or I fit in watching a 2-year old between my mom’s women’s group game night and fixing my husband’s dinner.

Speaking of my husband, he has his own calendar of events and occasions he’d like us to be part of; he’s a patient man, but he’d like some time and attention, too. It almost seems selfish to mention the long-delayed career, the hobbies and interests, the other friends I’d like to have time for.

I’m certainly not alone in facing these issues. Many women – and men – around my age are helping to care for aging parents even as they carry responsibility for younger family members, work, and civic duties.

How do we fit it all in? How do we make it all work? Where are the practical tips that will help us manage all the things we’re trying to manage?

Let’s talk about that over these next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's Cooking?

I’ve promised myself I’m going to exercise self-discipline. I’m just going to say no. I’m not going to buy another cook-book.

It’s not like I don’t have enough. We have an entire bookcase of cookbooks, and in the kitchen, several more shelves of cookbooks and recipe card files.

But one of our daughters is tempting me with her new favorite cookbook. It’s filled with recipes for things I’ve always wanted to try, both to cook and to eat. The directions are clear, and the text is fun to read – just what I like in a cookbook.

I like to cook, and I like to read about cooking. Reading a good cookbook is like having a conversation with someone who likes the same things I do. The photographs and illustrations inspire me, new ingredients and recipes intrigue me.

“I could do that,” I tell myself smugly, as if creating a three-layer coconut cream cake is, well, a piece of cake.

The problem is that all the hungriest people have moved out of our house into homes of their own, and the preacher and I can’t possibly eat everything I can cook or bake. Oh, the hungry people all come back regularly, and they bring their own little hungry people with them, but their visits aren’t regular enough to justify the kind of cooking I used to do. And while the preacher’s a good sport, he does occasionally take note of the left-overs.

Sharing a meal with people you love is one of life’s most persistent blessings. Like most blessings, it involves a fair amount of effort, but even that effort becomes something of a blessing when the work is shared. Showing the kids you love how to shuck corn or peel potatoes or make a piecrust is not only helpful – it can be fun. The cook gets some help, and the helper gains a new skill, not to mention that lovely feeling of contribution and accomplishment.

A good cookbook is an encouragement, offering direction, instruction, and vision. It’s a back-up for when the cook runs out of ideas – or patience in instruction. And having a shelf-full of cookbooks is like having a kitchen full of friends.

So what's your favorite new cookbook?