hellomarylou

Inklings from within


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September So Far

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It’s a funny feeling being back here, writing again, on this long forsaken internet island. It feels strange, but good as well. Like coming home.
I think to un-clog the pipes I need to do a quick rundown of the events of the year so far.
Here goes.
January: In January we bade farewell to my eldest sister and her family as they moved to Thailand for 3 years, maybe longer. It was painfully bittersweet…..we are thrilled for the opportunities God is leading them into but simultaneously feel the distance of all that earth between us. David and I adopted their Golden Retriever, Keiko, when they moved and she has been a JOY. In January we also said our final earthly goodbyes to my aunt Mary who passed away after battling cancer. She was an amazing example of generosity and love to so many people, and she is greatly missed by all of us.

February/March: We finally moved into a rental house next door to my mom’s after waiting for months for it to open up. The weeks flew by with painting and unpacking and organizing but wow…it was so nice to be out in the country at last after living in a small, congested town for the past 6 years. We love it here so much, and not just because I can raid Mom’s kitchen whenever I run out of something. We love the setting we’re in with its beautiful farmland views, and the back roads and the deer in the fields….I could keep going. In February Keiko had to have surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from the base of her tail. Poor dog, I’m not sure who hated the e-collar more, her or me.

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April: In April, my sister, cousin, and myself spent a few days in Maryland at our uncle’s place. We were helping him sort through some of aunt Mary’s peripheral belongings. It was a bittersweet time with our dear uncle who is clinging valiantly to the goodness of God.
David and I spent a weekend on the eastern shore in April. We visited Assateague Island and saw the wild ponies, (should I have been more amazed by them? I felt strangely underwhelmed) we spent a few hours in Berlin, Maryland, an adorable small town where the movie Runaway Bride was filmed, and walked the boardwalk in Ocean City. But by far our favorite times were spent around the campfire in front of the little cabin we rented in Frontier Town, a western themed campground. Frontier Town would be a blast for kids but we enjoyed it too….even though we mostly were just there for the campsite.

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May: Ah, May was a blur. I remember someone saying, “Hey, Keiko looks fat,” and two weeks later she had five puppies. That was a happy, but unplanned surprise. Two days after she had her puppies 4 of my nieces and nephews came to stay with us for a few weeks. (Their family was in the process of adopting a baby who was born prematurely and their momma had to spend lots of time at the hospital) The kiddos roamed freely between my ours and my mom’s house, playing football with David, holding puppies, planning elaborate tea parties, and just in general living on the love of a grandma and aunts and uncles who live too far away. Also, they are hard workers, and helped complete more than one project around here!

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June: June was strawberries and good food and campfires and growing puppies and lazy days on a blanket on the lawn and one adorably cheeky niece we’re lucky enough to have live close by.

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July: Hmm……..I can’t remember, was it June or July when we had thunderstorms almost every day for a week or two? Poor Keiko, she is terrified of storms and tries desperately to hide out inside the house at the slightest sound of thunder. In July the puppies all found new homes….it was hard, yet good to say goodbye. July also included a family reunion and an impromptu-one-hard-days-work-of-filming-and-editing (on an iphone, ha!) birthday movie for a niece in Thailand. It was a lot of work for a few minutes of silliness but we made some good memories.

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August: Along came August and David and I spent the first long weekend in Niagra. The falls are beautiful and worth the trip to see but the rest of the the town itself doesn’t have a lot to offer. We drove north to Niagra on the Lake and I was ecstatic to find this beautiful little town sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario. David was making friends with all the other husbands who moved from one street bench to the next as their wives popped in and out of one little shop after another. I mostly window shopped but it was fun. It’s interesting how EVERY shop has scarves, and scarves, and more scarves. Will this trend ever end? One can only hope. Lake Ontario itself is the most beautiful deep blue…gorgeous. In August I helped mom and my sisters put lots of corn in the freezer. We borrowed an Amish neighbor’s outdoor cooker and fell in love with it. It’s something I definitely want to invest in for next year.

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September{so far}: David was gone half of last week on a business trip and while he was gone I got Keiko fixed. No more babies for her. I don’t know how people can raise puppies and get rid of them, over and over. The single most stressful part of it is finding people to take/buy/adopt them. I was fortunate enough to personally know all the people that took puppies in July but I do not want to bet on that again. So yes….barring some miracle, Keiko’s child bearing days are over.
For some, those days are just beginning. On Sunday we celebrated the new life coming to my brother and his wife at their baby shower. November is not far away any more you two!

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So that catches me up! Here’s to not letting time go by so swiftly any more…if only.

Happy fall y’all!


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Blessings Flow

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It was a Merry Christmas and an exceedingly Happy New Year!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera on our family’s New Year’s weekend getaway; therefore I am unable to prove the good times I claim we had. If I find the opportunity, I will steal some from some unsuspecting relative.
After getting home Monday afternoon, it was back to work on Tuesday. And today, today I have been cleaning and de-cluttering like a mad woman. My goal is to finish the de-cluttering and spring cleaning process by April 1st. Maybe by March 1st. But definitely by April 1st. Heaven knows this place isn’t that big, I could do it in a week if I really wanted. But let’s be realistic.
Freeing our house from clutter is a bug that has bitten me slowly….only recently have I started to get really serious. I have already taken a few boxes over to my Mom’s basement with plans for a big spring yard sale. Today I added more to a yard sale box and took lots more to the dumpster. Just getting rid of simple things like half a year’s worth of my husbands Cabelas magazines feels good. Not to mention small fabric scraps not worth saving, Christmas wrapping odds and ends, old, paid bills, wedding gifts I never/almost never use, antique or used store finds that are no longer practical enough to suit me, leftover WEDDING PROGRAMS, (I had a stack of about 50!!) scrapbook paper I don’t need/want, etc etc etc. Just STUFF, that takes up space in my house and in my mind and slows up productivity.
The Unclutterer is a website that’s been hugely inspirational to me. A bit extreme sometimes, but it points me in the right direction. It has really helped me figure out that hanging on to sentimental objects is only rarely worth it. Our memories are what we should hold precious; and more often than not, the objects that represent those memories, become an overwhelming and annoying cluster of things to step over, dust around, and sweep around, taking up space in our homes that could be free for real creativity.
Anyhoo….a salute to 2012! And to our God who gifts us with each new day.
Blessings,
Marylou


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Bella Sobrina

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Last weekend found my baby sister and I at my eldest sister’s house in Ohio. We were there to celebrate my niece’s bat mitzvah. Christy is 15 years old and she is a treasure. {May I just state for the record, it is unbelievably fun to have teenage nieces.} We had a great time helping her and her family prepare for the festivities. We made pumpkin lanterns, and hung lights, and pushed furniture around, tore up old sheet music, and made food. It was a jolly good time.
Friday night it was just a small, intimate gathering for family and close friends. We shared our blessings with Christy, and heaped affirmation and love upon her. It was a beautiful time, full of love and lots of fun memories shared about her life so far. She’s a feisty one. Small but mighty. As a toddler, she once took a boy thrice her size to the floor, sat on him, and firmly reprimanded him for bullying her friend. He’s still thrice her size I believe, and only a few weeks ago (allegedly) she affirmed her unwavering courage when she tossed her glass of water in his face. He was bullying her this time. Allegedly. ๐Ÿ™‚
Besides her courage, she is well noted for her contagious enthusiasm for life. She is passionate about truth. She is a woman of influence. I have no doubt that more than a few lives will be changed by the influence of her presence on this earth. She is witty. She is hilarious. Like her older sister Cherie said, she is so unique that everyone wants to be like her, but they can’t, because there’s only one Christy. ๐Ÿ™‚
Saturday night’s festivity was held at their church where we had created a somewhat “homey” atmosphere in their balcony. Here there were lots more people, her grandpa, friends from church, and friends from afar. Her mom and dad and two oldest siblings shared their blessings with her that night. It was touching to say the least. What a beautiful thing, to see a young woman affirmed, told that she was loved, beautiful, and accepted. She was encouraged, blessed, and honored. There’s a girl who I doubt will go looking for a boy to give her an identity. She has one, loud and clear. She’s a daughter of the King, and a valued treasure in her family. She’s a talented musician. A classical actress. A sought after singer. A photographer extraordinaire. A giggling partner in crime. A lover of coffee and a domestic diva.
What if we all did a little bit of that each day? Affirming each other, expressing someone else’s value, their beloved-ness, instead of their unloveliness. Would people’s lives change little by little? Would it change the way someone looked at themselves? No great ceremony, just a day by day appreciation of someone’s value. Ahhh…I’m inspired.
I love you Christy, more than you’ll ever know.

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God Save the Queen…..(and this lovely weather)

We returned on Sunday from our retreat in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. We had a great time connecting with friends and enjoying the beauty of the mountains. But that’s another post for next time.

My two baby sisters and I enjoyed an afternoon at the PA Renaissance Faire a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, pretty much the best part of it is laughing at the funny costumes and the commitment with which the actors play their parts.

ย  ย  ย Entering- (dear nieces I wish I could take you. We would laugh much. Much.)

ย  We made our way straightaway to the privies. Of course.

We window shopped…….

……took pictures of courtesans and commoners……

ย ……..had our pictures taken with knights and foreign diplomats……(I may have coerced my sister in to hers) ๐Ÿ˜‰

…..read the funny signs in the shops…………

……cavorted with royalty…….

…….wished these plays were playing…..(oh the glory of the war betwixt the sexes)

……tried on pretty hats…..

……did some wine tasting……..

ย …and listened to outrageous stories from these two scallywags.

And that may have been the longest run on sentence ever written. It was a good time….the stinky pickles my sisters ate notwithstanding.

Marylou


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August

August- it rushes in with white hot heat, drenches us in humidity, and almost, almost makes us long for the coming season. Autumn is the season I relish most, but this year I’m watching its arrival with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation for the crisp weather, apple cider, FOOTBALL, and campfires. Trepidation, because I know that just beyond the beautiful harvest sunsets lurks the icy grip of winter. But today, today I close my eyes, let the summer sun sink into my bones, and thank God for this day.
This day- today is an extra day off for me. I traded a few extra hours last evening for my entire shift today. Yesterday was a long day but today is bliss. I hung the laundry outside and enjoyed the clean, crisp smell of it when I brought it in. I chatted with our land-lady-we were standing in the yard when everyone else felt the earthquake. We didn’t feel a thing. I took my husband a glass of ice water while he mowed the lawn. I chopped up peppers and basil from my garden to put in the pasta sauce I made for dinner. Now DH is gone for the evening and I am reflecting.
Reflecting on August-

The second weekend in August we traveled to Oklahoma for my cousin Tony’s wedding. There were ten of us, assorted siblings, in-laws, Mom, and DH and I. We took two vehicles and had a great time traveling out there. The above photo features a number of us cousins that were lucky enough to be together for a few days. It was supposed to be a serious photo but some of us couldn’t maintain the seriousness. Oklahoma is…….vast. And beautiful. One night we sat out in the prairie watching the most fabulous lightning storm of our lives.

Last weekend DH and I took an impromptu weekend off in Delaware. We left Friday evening, checked into our hotel, then went out to dinner.

Dessert was complimentary coffee and cookies from the hotel. ๐Ÿ™‚

{cute pillow}

{good books}

{good company}

The next day we crossed a few bridges, criss-crossing our way from Wilmington, to New Jersey, and back to Pennsylvania. We visited the Brandywine Zoo, (took us about 10 minutes to walk through the entire thing :)), a “farmer’s market” that wasn’t, Swedesboro, NJ for lunch, and then ended our day at one of my favorite stores in the universe.

{love}

{loveliness}

{beautiful $$$$ scarves}

{furniture I want to take home}

{more coffee}

{chalkboard}

{purple}

{love forever}

Lest you think it was an all butterflies and roses weekend…..it was not. It was one of those weekends where even though we were together, DH was being a perfect gentleman, and he played romantic music in the car while the rain came down…..there was something in my heart that was demanding more. More what? I’m not sure I could tell you. It was just this little voice in my head that wanted to somehow shake what I needed out of my husband. It was a demanding voice. And although I restrained it, by Saturday afternoon I felt myself starting to withdraw. I started making a mental list of reasons he was to blame for my discontented spirit.
Friday night I had picked up a book at B&N entitled “Every Woman’s Marriage,” and the small part of it that I had read started to come back to me, and I thought with surprise, “Oh this again.” My spirit was dry because I had not been feasting on living water. I had not been leaning on the only REAL source of fulfillment and joy available to me. Everything else is but a shadow of that source. Forgive me God. Forgive me husband. We put our relationships in rough place when we expect them to meet our every deepest need. Marriage is beautiful….but what gives it its beauty is what it reflects….and that is our relationship with our Creator. And He is so faithful to remind us of that, and not leave us stumbling in the dark forever.

Sunday night we celebrated my brother’s birthday, (pictured here with his gf) with grilled shish-kabobs, grilled veggies, cake and ice cream. And coffee.

We also discovered that his dog has an…..unauthorized pregnancy. Oh dear.

Until next time,
Marylou


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Johnny Chuck is dead.

For the past few summers David and I have been plagued by a family of groundhogs living in the dark jungle behind our house. We would watch them from our windows, sitting on their haunches, the weeds around them waving violently as they grabbed them and stuffed them in their mouths. Their eating habits did us no great harm, but their burrowing habits however, almost brought down the fence separating our lawn from the aforementioned jungle. They would dig their tunnels from one fence post to another, significantly threatening the posts’ abilities to hold up on their own.

My husband would make threats, sometimes taking aim at them with his gun through the open window, but never getting them quite close enough to take the shot. I would beg him to please not shoot them, (cause I thought they were cute) but when ever I was home alone and saw one, I was overcome with a desire to shoot one myself. (The prospect of proudly presenting a dead chuck to my husband was a big motivator.)

Then early this spring the fateful day was upon us. Upon the chuck. We were both at home and watching as the largest of the family, Johnny, waddled ever closer to the back of the house. David graciously agreed to let me have a go at him. After trolling and eating his way along for about 20 minutes, he made the fateful decision to finish his picnic under our office window. After making my way to the office, I slowly, s l o w l y, opened up the window, and took aim with my .22 pistol. I felt no hesitation in that moment, my hands weren’t shaking, and I calmly took aim at a spot on the side of his head, right below his ear. I fired. And hit. He fell over on his side, twitching violently, and then slowly, rolled over onto his back.

I jumped up, screaming, “He’s dead! He’s dead!” I ran outside straightaway to check on it, and unfortunately he was still trying to….live. I couldn’t stand to watch him struggle so I put one more shot in him to end it. The initial elation and rush ย I felt started seeping out of me and I before I knew it I started to feel really, really guilty. This was the first animal I’ve ever killed intentionally. Why, did I do it? What had Johnny ever done to deserve such wrath? I worked my way through those emotions, however, and eventually came to a deep satisfaction. I was doing my duty as a human, protecting our fence, and the young, tender crops growing in our vegetable beds.

Maybe next time I will try to eat it. I’ve heard groundhog is very tasty. And it can’t be too unhealthy, they stuff themselves with leafy greens all day long. Have you ever eaten groundhog? Was it good? How did you cook it?

There he lay. And then David buried him. Farewell Johnny.

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Coming up next, my opinion on Ira Wagler‘s new book and why you should buy it.


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Pioneer Woman!

About a 2 years ago, on the recommendation of a friend, I started reading Ree Drummond’s blog, The Pioneer Woman. I. was. hooked. And I have remained so ever since. Ree’s blog is uplifting, hilarious, refreshing, and still very much established in the sometimes gritty reality of life. Her recipes are divine. Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Sheet Cake, and heaven help us, THESE, are just a few of the recipes she’s unleashed upon the world. Every time I make one of her recipes, I get thanked profusely and sincerely by my husband for days afterward. So when she got her cookbook published and I read that she was going on a book-signing tour, I was thrilled to find out she was making a stop in West Chester, which is a mere 30 minutes from my house!

The signing was scheduled for 2:30 this afternoon at the Chester County Books & Music Company. My sister Dorothy and I hit the road around 11:15 this morning and drove towards West Chester with great anticipation. When we got there we were assigned a number (71), bought our books, and found our way to an area in the back of the store where they had set up 200 chairs. We were glad we got there as early as we did ’cause we got great seats!

There’s her lovely cookbook! Dorothy was more enthused about reading about all the cows, horses, manure, and cowboys on Ree’s ranch than the recipes! ๐Ÿ™‚
We took turns holding our seats and going and wondering around the store which was quite lovely. It’s shelves were laden with books you don’t see in a “big box” store.
And then we sat, and we waited. And waited.

And Dorothy took pictures of the book I was browsing through. One of my favorites of all time, Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. Inga Moore’s illustrations are out of this world!

While waiting in our seats, while browsing around the store, and even while in line for the restroom, there was one name that kept coming up over and over from the lips of ladies from 18 to 67. Marlboro Man. Ree’s husband who’s been with her for parts of this book tour, but unfortunately for some, not for the last part. So we took a few pictures trying to convey the emotions these women (d d d definitely not us) were feeling.

Here I think I did an OK job of conveying the desperation I heard in the whispered rumors in the restroom line. Somebody heard Marlboro Man had been in NY for the weekend. Hmmmmm. Could that mean he might grace us with his presence here today?

I did my best to capture the sadness we all felt within! No, just kidding. Kinda. It sounds like MM is a good man and we’re all happy that Ree has such a supportive, and yes, handsome man awaiting her at home.

And then the seats started to fill and the crowd grew more and more fidgety and giddy with anticipation. Or was that just me?

And then there she was.

She was so happy to see us she did a little dance.
Just kidding.
She was probably trying to defend herself from the 768 camera flashes that were going off in her face, poor lady.

She had a little question and answer session.
And she answered a question of mine that I’ve wondered about for some time.
What did she study in college and is it of any value in her life now?
Her answers were gerontology and no.ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

And she blessed us with a rip-roaring line from “There’s no business like show business….”ย  She was good. Really.

And then she taketh up her pen and commenced to do what she came to do, sign her cookbooks!

The line moved pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were almost there.

And then it was our turn. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ree is a lovely and beautiful lady, crazily successful and still so down to earth and comfortable to talk to.

Thank you PW!

Thank you Ree for all the miles you’ve traveled the past few weeks to meet your blog readers!ย  Blessings upon your head forevermore!


Pretty much all these pics are the work of DKauffman.