Healing River

Possibly heartbreak is the thru route to healing.

Sometimes it’s raw and real, and to be honest, my heart is a quivering mass the last few weeks too.

And sometimes it feels so forsaken because we long for the speaking, breathing voice of God, and there is only this silence like before the tornado breaks loose and destroys us all.

But perhaps it’s from this trembling bit of broken silence that the stuff of faith is made of. Perhaps all that is going to break loose is our besetting wounds, bursting not with destruction but with expelling the putrefying infection that has been plaguing us and slowing our steps for so long.

This, I suppose, is the Hope that we hold near in the times of fear and loss.

Not only do we hold Hope near, but Faith too, and Truth.

Here is one Truth I keep close these days.

We fight valiantly against our light being consumed.

We kinda forget that in the darkness we grow light, and that our hard makes us soft, and that our broken hearts meld back together in a bit of beautiful, unsurpassed redemption.

The children play it nearly every day in the van CD player, and sometimes I actually hear it.

Oh Healing River, send down your waters, and wash the blood from off of the sand.

Busted open, gory and bloody, and here comes the healing.

It’s our God that specializes in this stuff.

Light from darkness.

Joy from sorrow.

Beauty for ashes.

Healing from heart break.

I want to say it happens every time. It does, if I let it. If I can hang onto my light and shine, even when this old world doesn’t make alot of sense.

Hang in there, hearts. Break, if you must, and let the healing waters come washing on in.

Shall we gather at the river?????

Steamy

Tonight I make a delicious cheesy broccoli/cauliflower/carrot casserole. The veggies themselves are healthy, being fresh from the garden, and steamed, but the butter and cheez whiz and cracker crumbs are not.

I even cheat on my diet and scarf some veggies that have just a little sauce on them.

I serve it with pride.

I look on enviously at it’s oozy cheesiness.

I salivate and seal my mouth shut with a mental vice grips.

Oldest daughter, who ought to know better, takes three hot dogs and declines potatoes and veggies.

I stab two of the hot dogs from her plate and load on the veggies and potatoes.

A bit later, longing for recognition, I test the waters about the veggie casserole.

Oldest daughter winces and stage whispers across the table.

The broccoli….. She has found an….earwig.

She has immediate attention from the crew.

She also has the Good Man’s consecrated understanding. He has once found an earwig that was canned in Campbells mushroom soup. He crunched on it, and by legend, nearly barfed. I don’t blame him.

But this is not a canned earwig. It’s steamed.

I blame oldest daughter just a bit, and this she can’t understand. I think she could have quietly disposed of it. She thinks she did her best. She whispered, after all. I assure her that this is the most sure fire way of getting her sibling’s attention.

I’m ashamed to say, I also do some whiny things with my mouth, in a last ditch effort to reinstate the dubious popularity of the casserole. Also to make them feel just a little guilty. I sort blather about how much I would love to eat it.

The Good Man is not impressed. (I’m not impressed with myself either). He hunts for the phrase about not making it their emergency. We think of the right words at the same time and chant it out. “Your necessity does not my emergency make!”

Small daughter delightedly start talking about Coca Cola.

I decide my mind is truly leaving me. But then they all explain. If you say a sentence at the same time as someone else, someone has to buy someone a Coke.

It’s vague, but my mind is still intact.

Middle daughter asks for more veggie casserole.

I inform her, privately, that for tonight she is my favourite child. This is a high moment for her.

The Good Man, he is good, but sometimes he is also Annoying.

The cracker crumbs, he informs me, are soggy. He has never liked soggy cracker crumbs, hence that sort of puts a damper on the whole thing for him. Now, corn chips, for example, would be amazing.

Obviously, he has absolutely NO experience in the kitchen. Just the thought of corn chips and cauliflower turn my stomach. And I’m not pregnant.

I lean into his ear and whisper it sweetly.

“ I do not like you very much tonight.”

He smiles happily. He loves to make me steamed.

Photo Bomb

Tonight I’m not going to say much, just give you a photo potluck to celebrate summertime and the beautiful Lake Huron.

This evening has rested my soul. Restored my soul, maybe.

I hope this beauty can do the same for you.

Scaling the wave at windy Point Clark
Little Prince is unimpressed
No longer sweet sixteen but still sweet on him
So, so beautiful
It makes it worth it. “Sophia loves Mom and Dad”
Marinas and thunderheads. Both favourites of mine
I’ve never liked my short toes. But they are tolerable with sand on them I suppose
Oh my. My heart melts
Small daughter
Middle daughter
Oldest son
Oldest daughter
Bri
He might look like an ex con but he’s not, I assure you
He loves selfies
If I had a favourite spot, it would be like this

Bask in these days!!!

A Lovely Thing

Dappled sunlight slides into dusk, and the evening songbirds celebrate, like I do, the golden hour. Work laid by. Feet, with cracked, worn heels, propped up to soothe the aching. Favourite books nearby. A cup, maybe, of cold lemonade or garden tea.

The day, with it’s highlights and undertones, past and gone.

There are beautiful things in this world.

Sometimes I think of words, words I am in love with.

Like feather. And mahogany. Lavender. Tiramisu. Hollyhock. Ballerina.

And then I think of moments, moments that make me alive.

Slanted sunlight on the meadow grasses, gilded gnats swarming above them.

Bare baby feet pattering across hardwood floors.

A gifted card from a seven year old. “Mom, if you would be some wear else I would miss you.”

Creeping Jenny cascading out of my planter, bolstered up by a blush pink begonia.

Blended hues of lavender and vintage blue and linen white, twinkle lights entwined, the creativity of my evening.

Ahhhhh….

And then there is love, love that makes it all worth it.

The arms, though grimy, around my neck, and the sweaty mouth whispering good night.

The work worn hand in mine, walking through the garden at midday, to check on the raspberries and taste the explosion of experience in the first red one of the season.

The clamour of thanks at the supper table, grateful for the fresh peas and potatoes and red beets, bursting with goodness.

“You are my best friend,” he says to me. And I am both warmed, and filled.

This is a good life. This is a life of beauty and grace and tomorrow I may be crying and so may the sky, but there is still so much to love.

Look for a lovely thing, and you will find it. It will not be far. It never will be far.”

Unsung Talent

“I have two talents,” she tells me as she bustles about weeding her flower garden, her gapped toothed smile radiating.

“Falling and spitting.”

Oh.

The poor child.

She can fall alright. This very morning she fell halfway, more than halfway, she emphasizes, down the the stairs. And last night while we were watching a calf trying to be born she tumbled about so much that “Ouch” was just sort of a background wallpaper.

Spitting is new, apparently. She explained, with frequent pauses to spew peremptorily, the why and wherefores but I was still stunned by the original declaration and didn’t catch more.

Is this a family problem? Do we have few talents or an inability to detect them?

I’m good at sleeping and eating. That appears more healthy, if less…. bohemian than my toothless beauty’s artfulness.

My oldest daughter is fraught with talents. She plays the piano with ease and now has decided to take up drawing with similar suaveness.

I can’t just decide I’d like to draw portraits. She can.

She never drew in her life until three months ago

I am, to put it mildly, rather proud of her.

But why should poor little Missing Tooth have claimed only spitting and falling and I only sleeping and eating when this blood relation draws and plays like nobody’s business?

Not that there seems anything lacking to said Toothless Wonder. She was inordinately pleased.

“And whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

We Have This Hope

Out here on the deck, in the dusk, a breeze evaporates the prolific sweat our bodies have produced this day.

It is a relief.

The frogs croak down in the river and that too is comforting and restful, their voices having carried us through many a hot summer’s night. And also, through many a time of stress and turmoil, they have soothed us in sleepless hours.

A couple of years ago, more like 5 or 6 probably, we went through a church split. We would sit out here after late night meetings and de-stress, and after we were sufficiently comforted, we would laugh together at the frogs. They were holding a brethren’s meeting, we decided. The firm, bass frog was the presiding bishop. The lay frogs would toss incriminations back and forth and then the bishop frog would silence them with one croak of his powerful frog voice.

But here and now, they are just happy frogs, church turbulence a hazy apparition way back in the past. They, and us, have moved on to greener pastures, happier relationships.

But it is hot. So hot.

The baby is tucked into bed, wearing his sixth outfit for the day. The rest accompanied him to the kiddie pool countless times.

The others are also tucked in, cold water in bottles by their beds, fresh, crisp bed sheets draped over clammy skin.

Tonight is the eve of our 16th anniversary.

It is a very busy week but we managed to scrimp together enough time to scamper jauntily off to Goderich for Chimichanga at the Beach Street Station beside Lake Huron.

Bored waiting for Chimichanga

We walked the boardwalk that is lakeside and talked about stuff.

Then we stopped at a shop called Cravings for some perfectly amazing raspberry soft ice cream in waffle cones. They were the best. The raspberry just exploded in your mouth. So good.

The couple ahead of us in the line was married less than 16 years I think, and I can’t see that they will ever get there.

They were disputing over vanilla ice cream and caramel ice cream and soft ice cream. She tried to be workable. But every time she looked at the shop keeper and gave her order, he changed it. Or looked at her and said, “What? You don’t want caramel? Why? I thought you didn’t want vanilla. Why are you doing this? Is something bothering you? Why are you acting this way?”

She tried to be off handed and brave but she was obviously embarrassed, with good reason.

My Good Man said he was a jerk.

For once I kind of agreed.

I felt so sorry for her, trying to act as though it didn’t bother her, but for pity’s sakes, I am a woman too, and of course it bothered her. Would giving her a hug have been too obvious?

I didn’t. But she needed one.

There’s so much sadness in the world that sometimes I feel like I’m going to choke with the sorrow of it all.

But I’m learning that it’s not my business to care for the world, that there’s a God in heaven for that. Just in my little corner, that’s all.

The frogs still croak and the breeze still wisps my hair. The Good Man, who is very usually not a Jerk, sits by me, preparing Sunday’s sermon. He wonders how porridge is spelled. The keyboard clicks.

This is peace, I decide. A world of sin and sorrow all around. Also a world of sunshine and peonies. All mixed up together in this thing called Life.

And inside, peace, because someday, the good will all win out and we won’t be faced with this constant barrage of imperfection.

Or the heat. Or babies who get wet every other second.

Oh, but…. What about frogs? And anniversaries?

We can only hope.

Practically Perfect In Every Way

The way the orchard grass, (I know that sounds knowledgeable but the Good Man told me what it was)….

Oh yes! The way the orchard grasses heads shimmer with this muted lavender thrills my soul.

And then the flowing mane of the umm… (pause while I text the Good Man for the forgotten name of this one…..)

Got it! The flowing mane of the brougham heads also sports that dusky sunset hew. It makes me so happy.

Maybe it made me so happy because the Good Man and I wiggled out of supper clean up and went for a walk on the dirt road behind our house.

Walking behind our property, separated by the river, we commented modestly and offhandedly on how beautiful and shady it looked in there. But we weren’t really feeling offhanded. We were feeling amazed that we live there.

Next week is the 16th anniversary of our marriage. Which means we lived here for fourteen years.

It feels like a long time to me. It also feels like a short time.

This also means that I have known Randall for 22 years. Since I was 15 (oh my goodness gracious, my little girl is 15!) and sitting on the couch awestruck by his beautiful singing voice. Since I perched on the counter watching him and my big brothers consuming lasagna at 10:00 at night before they headed home to Ontario. Since I went to Bible School with him and he drew astounding faces of the teachers, oh blasphemy! and then showed them to me.

Last night we were discussing our first memories of marriage. Like very first. The first kiss, (in my desk chair where I had taught for two years) and such like. You actually don’t want to know more.

Thing is, he still has that amazingly gorgeous voice and it only gets better with age.

He also still kisses well. (Did you want to know that?). Oh the nostalgia!

So I really don’t know where this is going. It began with purple grasses and has migrated to kissing.

Maybe it’s because lavender grasses and beautiful voices and scandalous drawings and lasagna consumption and first kisses are sort of in the romance spectrum, which sounds like a disorder, but isn’t.

I look at these lovely children we have borne together and aside from the fact that they are watching Veggie Tales, they are as close to perfection as things can get. (I’m ignoring the fact that the youngest is poking the next one up in the eye.)

I look at this place, this shady, riverside haven I live in, and aside from the weedy garden and junky barnyard it’s as close to perfection as things can get. (This time I’m ignoring the chicken yard that has no chickens but has three foot long grass.)

I look at the Good Man and his chiseled jaw and high cheekbones, (thanks Oliver from The Penderwicks) and aside from…. from…. from…. well there are lots of things I’m sure I could say if only I could think of one, he’s as close to perfection as things can get.

Actually, he isn’t perfect, but even the bad things feel perfect because it’s all in the package.

And I look at the lavender grasses waving in the waning sun and the winding dirt road along which they grow and it’s so peaceful and cool and beautiful and it’s as close to perfection as things can get, down here, under the sun.

Watered Down

Writing a blog post with a writhing toddler atop me is no small accomplishment.

Our agreement was that he would look at his Fancy Nancy books while I write.

He proceeds to vigorously chomp on the books. I inform him that this will hurt Fancy Nancy and that she will cry and cry.

He ponders this soberly for some time, peering at the girl on the front of the book. He makes crying sounds. Then he bites the book again.

I allow Nancy to indulge in her own emotions.

Lord knows, I’ve indulged in plenty of my own. Near panic, being one of them.

I leaned against the deck railing with the Good Man this afternoon and surveyed my kingdom.

The lawn was mowed exactly as long ago as Friday and the dandelions stand high and dry.

I’m telling you, I have sent my son out to weed eat around the bridal wreath numbers of times this spring already and why is it all still so shaggy looking, ragged and long and bedraggled?

The garden has lovely little plants growing in it but also evil little weeds and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so carpeted.

And the process is so complicated.

First I need to till. Then weed. Then, finally, I can mow. Because the mower has a bagger on. And the grass cuttings need to be spread on the garden pronto or they begin to smell and get hot like so much wet hay. Which it is, sort of.

So much is fraught with complications, which is why I am nearing panic.

I can’t just do anything. It must be surrounded on every side by chaos and disorder.

Such as my baby’s bath last night.

He has a thing with water.

I fill the laundry tub with sudsy water. Place in the baby. Foolishly, oh, so foolishly, walk away.

The water begins to run again. The faucet is pushed back out of the way, so the water runs down the back of the counter, out around the sink, and puddles on the ground.

I return and mop it up.

Walk away again.

Gurgling sounds, and the gulp of water being suctioned down the drain.

I fill the tub again. Put in more suds.

Am I a moron? I walk away again. My book is very captivating.

Happy, delighted sounds. Mommy!! Yummy!

I run.

Egg yolk visible beneath the suds. Broken shells held aloft with glee.

Stupid, stupid mother.

(I do not even let my children say that word.)

I give up on the bath. Instead I cuddle him, all fresh and cool, and we take selfies. I feel virtuous. He is that bad and I still adore him.

This is not the last of the water fiascos.

Today I pick up a kiddie pool at Walmart and fill it up so it can sit in the sunshine and warm up.

I let the cold water run and run, to fill the pool, while I scurry about doing other things. When I finally kink the hose and turn to screw the nozzle back on, my son dumps my whole container of spearmint tea into the clean water. While I fish that out, including a small startled snail, he helpfully pulls an alium flower and throws that in.

I give up and feed him lunch.

Since then we have cycled through exactly four sets of clothing. I would let him swim in his scivies if I was assured he wouldn’t run out the lane.

If I thought that was enough, well, let’s say I sort of thought wrong.

The Good Man had a free afternoon. He would, he promised, till the garden while young stripling mowed and then other offspring could mulch.

The mower actually mowed a whole bagger full before it did whatever mowers do to their belts. I suspect it feels about belts the way I did when I was young. Is it a young mower? It is not. It is old. For that matter I am old and I still don’t like belts.

The grass clippings got dumped by the garden, which the dear darling Good Man actually got completely tilled between phone calls.

The baby son saw the clippings and he called them good. He hauled a goodly portion over to the swimming pool and tossed them in. Then he got in after them.

The Good Man and I, we surveyed the damages and dumped the pool.

I retired to the back lawn to shut the gate to the river so that I did not lose my water mishap prone son to this great body of water.

Coming back around the corner of the house I saw the tiller, momentarily unmanned while the Good Man picked up a stray rock, launch full tilt across the lawn, tines spinning heartily. It sped frenetically through the grass, plowed across the mercifully empty kiddie pool, and landed nose down in the (long) grass on the other side.

I am delighted to have witnessed such an accident, such as would normally have happened to me, happen to him.

As the dusk creeps across the land and gives us some relief from the unseasonal heat, and as I stroke out Till Garden from my list, I feel strangely satisfied.

I have survived.

This is a true narrative and if you do not believe me, come see me, and meet my two year old son. You will no longer harbour doubts.

I have if anything, watered down this perpetual chaos that I seem to live in.

Sunshine In My Soul

A Saturday morning…. A luxury.

Even if the dog barked at 5:45 am.

It’s glorious sitting on my couch at 6:22, my windows all flung open to let the morning air in. The birds are so jubilant this time of morning and the trees have popped their leaves and all around is life and joy bursting at the seams.

I’ve been meaning to write all week because I had a project on the go that I wanted to post about. Well, like a lot of my ideas, it fell slightly flat.

But seriously, it was great while it lasted. I got so much sheer delight out of it that I’m still going to post pictures.

We have a little rental house, tucked in the swamp, surrounded by birches and oaks and larches, and in the spring, it sports a patch of violets so thick and luscious that I just really had to do something with it.

Spring at the little blue cottage

I heard about violet lattes.

So this week one gorgeous afternoon I sallied forth, with my copper cup, to gather violets.

A cup of sunshine

It was a most glorious experience. The sun shone warm and there was such happiness in doing something as inconsequential as picking violet after violet.

After all, it’s been ages and endless ages since I was a kid and we picked dandelions for dandelion chains, or more likely, to chant, “Mama had a baby and her head popped off,” while flicking off the flower with our thumb nail. The more parent approved version was, of course, less violent. “Daddy had a tractor and it’s wheel popped off.”

So gathering violets felt so young. And I wasn’t even popping any heads off, I was just making violet syrup for lattes.

My baby puttered around beside me, holding the cup in his fat, grubby hands and watching with fascination as the bees hummed about inhaling the nectar.

My sweet baby

I truly feel that I have never been so happy in all my born days.

The violet syrup is beautiful and purple but not enough to colour the milk when I add it. It tastes amazing but I heard my daughter say it basically tastes like maple syrup in milk. So honest there.

But I don’t care.

I sit here this morning, early, all by myself with my coffee, not quite so happy, but almost, and I know that I will do it again, every spring.

Slightly Sour Sunday Spirits

I was startled this morning as I commenced to clear off my cluttered table.

Little wooden letters/ shapes carefully coloured with marker and arranged in this one sentence, completely encapsulating humanity’s besetting sin.

I ❤️ ME.

I looked a couple times, and yes. It really said that.

I wanted to write a blog on it and I wanted to take a picture of it.

But I wanted my coffee even more, and when I came back later, it was arranged more circumspectly.

I ❤️ WE.

Which seemed less human and more divine somehow. Or maybe my child was expressing an unusual but welcome appreciation for his/her family.

I’m kinda struggling with the I ❤️ ME thing this morning.

I’m tired. Chronically, it seems. I have a headache. My van is filled with squabbling as we drive the hour to church.

Well, the squabbling isn’t exactly completely honest. There is also a discussion between father and oldest daughter over why people can’t get along. And there are people singing three songs at once in an attempt to find a list of praise songs to jot in the Sunday school lesson.

And there is an occasional sign from Mother.

Who is, as we said, having a case of I ❤️ ME.

Sort of fed up with fighting, whining children.

Done in with meal prep and laundry.

Utterly OVER managing a crew that talks and sings and calls Mom all day long.

I guess it’s good it’s a Sunday.

I can sit in church and warble praise songs happily and beam down at my well groomed children and pretend I’m not clenching my teeth and that I don’t see the egg on small son’s new shirt or that small daughter wore her older sister’s sweater that was too big for her. Or that both girls wore used-to-be-white bally school socks with their shiny white Sunday shoes.

And I will look the perfect wife to my husband whom I just consigned to the dog house for an unlimited amount of time. (That was a joke, but I still meant it with a teeny tiny part of me😌)

And it’s good it’s a Sunday and perhaps my sour spirit will receive the chastening rod or, if God is merciful, some word of comfort. (Why couldn’t today be Mother’s Day?) (On second thought maybe that’s good. They’d slap Proverbs 31 on me yet.)

And hopefully, till we emerge from the meeting house, slightly disheveled, I will be more inclined towards I ❤️ We.