Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hello Again

I've been absent in recent days. I've had trouble with photos on my computer -- not sure if any of you have similar woes. I used Iphoto, and then it stopped being supported by  Apple, and stopped working for me. So ... I switched to Picasa, since Google seemed to want me to. And boom! -- as soon as I got as many photos as I could salvage out of Iphoto into Picasa, it became unsupported by Google! Argh!

So now, Adam and I have tentatively slid into Google Photos, and are hoping it will work well. But honestly, I have to get into the program and find out how in the world it works. It's like a maze to me, each time I try something new on the computer! I'll try to get a few photos here at the end of the post, and see if it works :)

My personal stress and shocking anxiety of recent days is a bit better. In the past few years I've generally handled it better, but this particular series of events really threw me for a loop, and made me realize how very weak and helpless I am in the face of fear. I wanted to pray for others when I was sleepless, but my mind kept racing, unable to focus or think coherent thoughts. I was panicked. I needed rest, but fear kept me awake. I read the Bible, but my brain found it hard to comprehend the words. I pleaded with God to send His Holy Spirit to fill and calm my own spirit, and He did, over and over, until I slowly began to feel better. Talking with a friend helped. After a while, thinking and reasoning with myself helped too. I drove in the car for about nine hours on Monday, and that gave me time to sort through my fears and examine them.

Our house closing was to happen tomorrow, but probably won't now -- next week, we hope. It's a lengthy, complicated loan, with so many documents to hand in. (sigh!!!) We wait. God usually asks us to wait, and wait, and wait, before He ever asks us to do anything.

I'm also looking for a part-time job, to help make ends meet, but also because my youngest child will soon begin community college, and I want to be busy, and not sitting around the house checking facebook :) You know how it is!

Yesterday was our 26th wedding anniversary.
 Here's Adam, when we were dating. He loved photography.
 Scrounging around in photo albums, looking for pictures from mission trips, I found this one from Poland. I think it was 1988. That's me in the blue turtleneck with a perm! My translator Ewa is over my shoulder. I've always wanted to get in touch with her agian.
 Around the same time I was hanging out with a crowd of fun girls. Oh, we had so much fun! I'm sprawled out in the middle of the couch with my mouth hanging open. I do wonder what we were all watching on the TV. "Princess Bride"? From the time I was 18 until this point, I had clearly come out of my shell.
 And just to show that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and I get that silliness honestly ... here's my mother (in the middle) with two friends, in 1948.
 A few more random photos from the past -- this is in Iowa, about 2000? Cousins, having fun together. It was wonderful when my kids' cousins came to live so near us then. They were very hard days in many ways, but perhaps we didn't see then what we can see now -- that God put us all together there for our blessing.
 Philip and Peter with Philip's good buddy Adam, on the left. You can tell from the landscape that it's Iowa.

 I mentioned it was our anniversary. Celebration was quite low-key this year. We ate breakfast at the local diner. I took photos of us as we start this 27th year together. I can truthfully say I think Adam is cuter now than when I met him, and that's sayin' something! Happy anniversary, darling. Even if we never ever get that little farm, and even if everything else in life falls apart, we still have each other, and that is the very best. I consider my (quite a few now) widowed friends, and I do wonder how in the world they face the troubled days in life without their husbands. I would be so bereft. When I was so fearful and anxious lately, what a comfort it was to sit close to Adam and feel him near. How weak I am. God knows I'm certainly not capable of facing widowhood yet. I admire you ladies who are passing through those dark waters with such grace.
Not to end on a sad note -- Happy end-of-summer to everyone! Autumn will be here before we know it, and I do hope I will be sharing it with you from our little farm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Even in July

Even in July I feel it coming
like the evening storm
you smell at morning,
a heavy waiting in the air
until the gray clouds
nibble into the western sky
at last.

Like the souring of a love affair
before anything’s gone wrong –
One feels one’s heart drift,
something’s changed.

Like the fluttering in the stomach
that's probably nerves,
but might be a baby.
How could something so important
be so small?

Even in July I smell you, Autumn,
my old friend, beloved season,
I’ve been waiting for you.

Oriental, NC
July 23, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

In the Dark Hours of the Night

It's 12:15. Just after midnight. I stayed up until 11:15, knitting, trying to become sleepy enough so that when I did go to bed, I would fall asleep. My stomach hurts from so much churning, and the churning is from anxiety. There are things to worry about, and it doesn't much matter what they are this time; in a few years it will be a new thing to stress over. But the stress, the anxiety, the churning, will feel the same. It's felt the same for years, on nights like this.

When I flicked off the light and lay there and almost drifted into sleep several times between 11:15 and 12:15, each time my nervous, frenzied brain would wake me with a start. It's just fear. Sometimes I deal with it better, and sometimes I deal with it worse, like this time. I recited the Scripture I presently have memorized, and it's a good one -- "For this reason (because you cannot worship God and money) I say unto you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or drink, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor do they gather into barnes. Yet your heavenly Father takes care of them." That's as far as my memory could get.

I imagined Jesus speaking to me, just to me. "Do NOT be anxious." Worries are so much worse in the middle of the night. My heart is unreasonable and will not be consoled. "He has it all in hand." 'Then why is it falling apart?' I ask. I bring to mind the consolations that friends have shared in recent days, especially one from an old saint. "Try not to worry about things so much, and if you do, remember that He has it all under control." That's a paraphrase. The mind paraphrases a lot after midnight.

Again, this isn't about this particular trouble. There have been literally hundreds of troubles over the past thirty years. It's about how I handle the trouble. Sometimes it seems to slip off my back and leave me unscathed. This time, my heart is trembling and palpitating, my throat feels closed, I can't eat much. I feel sick. And my brain jerks me awake when I'm exhausted.

So I sit up now. It's 12: 26. My old trusty Bible lies by me, and I will read. I will read until I feel reassured, until the Holy Spirit calms me and takes charge of my weak spirit again. Anxiety is such a useless state. Reading the Bible puts one's life in perspective. When I read about how God rescues millions of people from slavery, or saves a man from death, or keeps His promises over and over, then my little trouble seems manageable. I know it's manageable to Him.

Then why does my heart still quiver? Why am I so afraid? My eyes drift over the pages of the psalms, looking for words for my situation, comfort for my trouble. Some are so pertinent that they're sharp. I will not quote them here. But "In my trouble I cried to the LORD, and He answered me." Yes.
Suffice it to say, I know both David and the Lord fully understand my fears and inner strife.

How thankful I am that His Word brings such comfort in the dark hours of the night.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Crazy Chinese Birthday Candle

Hi, all. Today is Julia's birthday. She's sixteen :) She's happy because her cousin is here visiting, and they're having a ball. Today they went swimming in the river (again). Adam made a pound cake for her birthday with a light strawberry glaze and strawberries on the side.
So far, so good. Julia got a few fun gifts. Then Anna pulled out ... the Crazy Chinese Birthday Candle that she bought in China last summer. Yep -- she bought a big birthday candle in China, brought it to the U.S., and saved it until Julia's birthday today. It came in a box. "Happy Birthday!" it says. The rest of the text, however, including all the directions, were in Chinese.
It was the strangest-looking thing. We studied it, and studied the pictures on the box, quite carefully. We wondered exactly how to light it, and ... um ... exactly what would it DO after we did light it.
You're supposed to stick the candle into the cake, but because the cake already has a big hole in its middle, we had to stick the candle into the side.
Maybe we should've taken that as a warning ...
It looks kind of cute from above. Lots of little bitty candles. But that circle in the middle with the red dot ... it looks more like a firework.
And lo-and-behold, it was. It hissed and flamed and shot up toward the ceiling, and we all screamed. My niece captured it on video. Being the intrepid blogger that I am, I made sure to photograph the terror.
Yep, it really was a torch, no kidding. Anna snickered with delight. She admitted that the Chinese are really into birthdays, and kind of into pyrotechnics.
I'm not sure which is more annoying though: the flame-thrower moment at first, or the truly irritating high-pitched happy-birthday-song that the candle kept playing, over and over. It ran (and the little candles circled slowly like a carousel) for five or ten minutes.

Julia blew out the little circling candles, and I told Anna to take the contraption outside at last. I couldn't listen to the song One More Time. That was about two hours ago. It's still playing out there stuck into one of my front porch ferns. I'm sure the neighbors think we're nuts.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Poems by Nick Barker

A Ten-Year-Old's Wisconsin Summer

From the dark of the woods where damp bark rots,
Dave the handyman lugged by its spiky tail
The biggest turtle I had ever seen.

That night with prehistoric ease it nudged
Its bushel basket prison noiselessly
Right-side-up again, left a crescent flaw
in the screen door, and scratched its way back home.

Mary the cook said they were good for soup
And under tough wrinkles their blood was not red
But black like oil. I didn't believe her.

Seasonings, p. 7


The fish bending incuriously away from the hook
Is last to become aware of his element.
His father on the wooden pier flop-gasping
Understands water as never before.

Seasonings, p. 55

Sunday Afternoon

Wafer flat snowflakes
Drop with more sound on browned lawns
Than your just removed stockings
On our waiting bed.

Seasonings, p. 70

Dr. Nicholas Barker was a professor at Covenant College. During my four years there he worked in administration, and rarely taught a course. But I was fortunate enough to take a poetry class from him during my last semester with a handful of other girls. We met in his elegant, quiet office. At the end of the class, as I recall, he gave us copies of his book of poetry, Seasonings. How I admired him for giving his precious writings away, sharing such personal thoughts of family and experience! Shuffling through a box of old photos and documents today, I found the unbound, unpublished (I think) volume. I chose three of my favorites to share with you.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mapping Oriental: the Bridge

"The Bridge" is a focal point of Oriental life. It looms high over the water. Where the Neuse River curves left and heads to New Bern, Smith Creek cuts off to the right and divides into three creeks: Smith, Kershaw, and Greens.
In the photo above, you can clearly see the three fingers sticking into the northwest from the big water. You can see the white line of bridge cutting across the neck of the creeks like a choker.

The span of bridge, as seen from the Wildlife Ramp on Smith Creek, at the end of Midyette St.
Here's a better close-up map of the village and its waters:
In the new Dog Days of Oriental story, the ketch rests in the shelter of that breakwater, a thin strip of rock that juts into the joint of the Neuse and Smith Creek, offering a nice anchorage at the opening of Raccoon Creek.
Here's the anchorage. The sailboat at anchor sits in front of the rocky breakwater. This is the dinghy dock where Muffin and her lady sat to rest after disembarking from the ketch. The big bridge is out of sight, to the right.
Shrimpers pull nets at twilight just southeast of the bridge. 
They're not allowed to net for shrimp on the other side of the bridge in the creeks, although they can drop crab pots there and gather them.
Gaggles of seagulls follow the small shrimp boats and harass the fishermen.
The shot below, taken just before the fireworks show on July 4th, shows the bridge as viewed from Greens Creek.
The bridge pilings dwarf the tiny shrimp boats.
From the Wildlife Ramp, looking out into the Neuse:
This "earth view" map gives you a more accurate idea of what I mean by the Wildlife Ramp and its three docks. You see the bridge. You see the white parking lot area straight north from the bridge,in the photo's center. Two docks jut west from the parking lot, and one sticks southwest into the water, parallel with the bridge. That's a favorite spot for photographing the bridge, and was where I was standing for the photograph above.
On this map you also see Raccoon Creek, which feeds straight into the heart of the village -- town dock and the Bean. Hodges Street cuts across it. The breakwater is evident. The three L-shaped docks of the Oriental Harbor Marina are in the center. You can even see the dinghy dock, sticking out at the end of Water Street. The only glaring inaccuracy I note is that the Catholic Church, St. Peter the Fisherman, is NOT located at the Wildlife Ramp! Why Google Maps chose to locate it there is a mystery to me!

at the foot of the bridge, near the Wildlife Ramp
viewing the Wildlife Ramp area, looking back up Smith Creek on the left.
I'm standing on the single floating dock. 
the junction of Smith and Kershaw Creeks, viewed from the Wildlife Ramp
the pair of floating docks at theWildlife Ramp, looking at Smith Creek.
The little fishing boat was probably picking up crab pots or looking for flounder.
Perhaps this quick tour with the bridge as a focal point has helped you understand Oriental better. If you read my dog stories, now you can follow the pups as they walk around the docks, the park, and Water and Hodges Streets.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Muffin Comes to Town

Chapter One: A Place to Stay

On a blistering hot day in mid-July, after the hubbub and crowds of Croakerfest had passed, a sleek ketch sailed into Oriental. It dropped anchor in the harbor in late afternoon. Behind the protective breakwater, Raccoon Creek was still as glass. Shrimp trawlers lined up on either side of the approach to the town dock, and the aroma of fish settled along the water's edge. A dinghy bearing a man, a woman, and a dog slid away from the sailboat. Five minutes later the woman and the dog stood on the dinghy dock, and the man putted his diminutive pram back to the sailboat, its weightless nose thrust into the air.

Muffin was glad to be off the Chesapeake Mistress. The humans aboard were rude and did not practice proper rules of etiquette. They seemed to eat every crumb of every meal, and when they didn't they cleaned their plates with a spatula. Dirty socks were in tragically short supply in the cabins. No one kept tennis balls or frisbees aboard, and there were far too many ropes lying about. Muffin knew ropes could become leashes, and she hated leashes. She never allowed her mistress to keep one.

Muffin looked at her now, a slim human with gentle hands and warm eyes. Her human had a habit of rubbing Muffin's forehead in a slow, distracted way, and whispering, “Muffie. Muffie.” Muffin sniffed her human's sandal, licked her toe, and lay down by her feet. It was too hot to stand up anymore.

The woman stepped over the lean beagle and sat on the peeling wooden bench located conveniently on the deck by the dinghy dock. “Here we are, Muffin,” she said. “Oriental. Kinda small. Seems kinda boring.” She leaned down and scratched Muffin's warm side. “What kind of adventures will we have here, old girl, eh?” She smiled a tired smile, the smile of a woman too long aboard without friends or a cold shower. “Voulez-vous l'aventure?”

The pair were from Canada, and a little French often slipped into their conversation. Muffin was quite fluent, in fact. She frequently sang in French, although she'd yet to find a dog who could harmonize well with her in that language.

No trees shaded the dinghy dock, so minutes later the human and her dog stood, hefted their packs, and made their way down Water Street toward Oriental's tiny hot spot and night life area – a stretch of road between the Bean coffee shop and the town dock.

“We'd better find ourselves a boatyard and a place to stay, Muffie,” the woman said. “It'll be nightfall in a few hours.”

* * *

Just around the corner, Farley the poodle mix and Jaxson the black pit bull were having a friendly disagreement over some shrimp that Buddy the fishmonger had happily dropped from his boxes while trollying them across the street to Fulcher's Fish Shack.

“There were five,” Farley said firmly. “I can count, and I know there were five. And since I spotted them first, and Buddy is my friend, I get three.”

“There were six, you nincompoop,” Jaxson growled. “You and I both know there were six.”

“You're a pit bull. I wouldn't growl if I were you. They do profiling around here, and you'll get arrested.” Farley plastered a smile on his jovial face, wagged his tail, and flopped one ear down. He instantly looked cute and harmless.

“That's not fair,” Jaxson said.

“That's dog life,” Farley replied. “Now, drop that shrimp or I'll call the cops. You've had your two.”


Jaxson spit out the shrimp. The tail and head were missing. He grinned. “Sorry. They fell off and slid down my throat.”

Farley polished off his snack and burped. “That one was a little salty. Let's go see if Buddy misplaced any more by the back door.”
They loped across Hodges Street. Jaxson tried to look as adorable as possible, he really did. Each morning he chose a fresh, bright kerchief and asked his master to tie it round his neck. He carefully brushed his head fur along the sofa, and left a few tiny water droplets dangling from his whiskers prettily, even though it tickled his cheeks. Humans seemed to find this endearing. He chewed a little mint each day for his breath. He always wiped his paws carefully before entering buildings, and he never, ever wiped his hind end on anyone's carpet.

But Farley? He was the most disgusting of dogs, and all the dogs in Oriental knew it. In spite of his weekly baths he always smelled bad and his dingy curls never looked shiny. Only Goldie who swam daily in creeks was muddier. Farley did not brush his teeth, did not keep his belly fur clean, did not do regular paw maintenance, and had the most appalling halitosis. Still, humans loved him. They kissed him – kissed that mouth! They stroked his head while eating their food and buried their faces in his fur. It made Jaxson shudder even to think of it.

But Farley was a poodle mix. And Jaxson was a black pit bull. Discrimination was a sore trial in the dog world. Jaxson knew he was at the bottom of the heap. It was a miracle that Farley condescended to play with him.

Both dogs glanced down Water Street as they approach the fish shack, and they noticed Muffin coming toward them with a tall, tanned human wearing a tank top and a sarong. They admired the lean, well-muscled beagle. She carried her tail well – curved regally into the air and bobbing slightly as she walked.

Farley had a particular talent of whistling while smiling, and he utilized this talent the moment he saw Muffin. It was a long, loud wolf whistle. Muffin stopped, glared down the street, and scowled at the culprit. Her scowl, naturally, fell on the pit bull. “What a rude character!” she thought. To the sweet-looking poodle with his happy smile, she gave a friendly wink.

“Jerk,” Jaxson mumbled again.

* * *

Muffin's human quickly found a friend in Buddy, who had been selling fish for over twenty years and knew everyone in town. Of Oriental's various large marinas and boat yards, he directed her toward the one most useful in her situation.

“Sail Lark is yer best bet,” Buddy drawled. “Friendly folks. Lots of boat work goin' on. Prob'ly somebody there'll hep you out.” He pulled a dog biscuit from his pocket and lowered it to Muffin's mouth. “Here, sugar.” Muffin sniffed it carefully. She detected residual traces of tobacco, fingernail clippings, shrimp scales, lint, Walmart bags, and another potent animal aroma that she couldn't quite identify. Gingerly she received the biscuit between her teeth without touching it to her lips. One never knew where a human's pocket had been.
She turned quickly and made for the doorway of the fish shack with her treat. Blocking her way were the poodle and the pit bull. She gave them both a withering gaze.

“I wouldn't eat that if I were you,” Farley said quietly.

Muffin kept the biscuit between her teeth.

The pit bull spoke. “He'll steal if it you drop it.”

Farley continued. “Do you detect that strange, unidentifiable animal trace? A bit repulsive but at the same time somewhat alluring? Do you know what that is?” He smirked languidly.

“Don't listen to him,” Jaxson warned. “He's such a jerk.”

Farley cocked his head slightly and smiled at Muffin. “Possum. Buddy keeps possums in his back yard. As pets.” He shook his head at her sadly. “Yep, that's possum fur you're holding in your mouth.”

Muffin dropped the treat instantly and spat slightly on the pavement. “Bleh!” she said.

Farley dashed forward, gobbled the biscuit in a gulp, jumped back, and laughed. “Thanks!” he said. “I like possum.”

“Told you,” Jaxson said to her. Muffin's ears sagged in dismay. “He's a jerk. Buddy doesn't keep possums. He does have a pet ferret. I think they smell worse.”

“Ferret!” Farley choked and spat on the pavement. “Ferret!! I detest ferrets!” He bared his teeth briefly at Jaxson. “Why didn't you tell me?”

“You didn't ask,” he replied. “Besides,” and here he cut a handsome gaze at the beagle girl, “she doesn't strike me as a girl who eats ferret.” He trotted out the door into the sunshine with Muffin. “And you do!” The pit bull threw this comment over his shoulder with a laugh as Farley hacked a chunk of ferret biscuit into the gutter.

“Thanks for that,” Muffin said to him. “I'm Muffin.”

“I'm Jaxson. You new in town? Off a boat?”

“Yes.” Muffin lay down in the shade of a crepe myrtle tree. “It's so hot here.”

“Where're you from?”

“Well, we came from Virginia this week, but we're originally from Quebec.” Jaxson looked puzzled. “You know – Canada. Way up north.”

“North of the hardware store?”

She laughed. “Yeah. North of everything around here.”

Just as Jaxson was about to ask her to the Tiki Bar that evening, the lady exited the fish shack and called. “Muffin! Here girl!”

Farley and Jaxson watched the two stroll down Hodges Street toward the park.

“Didn't get very far with her, did you?” Farley asked.

“Farther than you, ferret breath,” Jaxson replied.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thoughts on China and Crystal

Where to begin? I'll begin with the oldest item, this cup and saucer. It belonged to my grandfather Robinson. I recall my grandmother told me it was his favorite cup and saucer. The cup fell and broke a few years ago, and I glued it (rather badly). I've kept it for sentimental reasons ...
... but now we are moving again, into a smaller house, and I ABSOLUTELY MUST DOWNSIZE
It's time!
I'm sorting through boxes of china and crystal, hunting for things to get rid of.
So last night I threw away that cup. I kept the saucer :)
Here' the pattern.
My first priority was to sort through my wedding crystal, now 26 years old and most of it never, ever used. It's Gorham Andante. I had a dozen iced tea stems and a dozen water stems. 
Here's one water glass that has a big crack in it. See? I'll toss it in the trash today sometime. It's hard to toss a crystal glass into the garbage can, especially when it cracked from being moved around for 26 years ... not from being used and enjoyed. Sigh. I don't have room for the boxes anymore. I'm tired of lugging them around. I want to sell them. Anybody want to buy some lovely stemware?
Before you rail against me regarding my fear of using my fine crystal that cost $16 per stem, allow me to tell you the story of my everyday china. It's Villeroy and Boch, Manoir. Adam wanted plain dishes for everyday. He didn't like discovering painted plants or birds beneath his dinner toward the end of the meal. I started with a full complement of twelve salads, twelve dinner plates (and many other items). The salad plates were a nice size for lunch servings when the children were young.
What that means is that Peter ate many lunches on these plates, and eventually I was down to only FIVE salad plates. That's when I put them away until he left for college. Haha! Yesterday, I pulled them back out again. Why not? I've changed a lot. Who cares now? If we break the rest of them, they'll have been used for their purpose -- everyday abuse use.

For those still reading, now we come to my fine china, Rosemeade by Mikasa.
Digging through boxes I discovered soup bowls. A china soup bowl is a slightly unusual gift to receive for one's wedding. I was given a dozen each of dinner and salad plates (plus a few other items), but only five soup bowls.
I've never used them. 26 years of living in a box.
And I really like soup bowls! Do you know that they are quite handy for all kinds of foods? 
I often have two or three soup bowls from thrift stores, just for eating leftover pasta or chicken/rice for lunch.
I even found four -- all four! -- soup bowls I bought in Poland in 1987. I thought I'd broken them all.
There they are! And I don't remember this soup bowl. Opening china boxes is rather like Christmas that way.
I decided to eat my breakfast in that bowl this morning. Soup bowls offer a nice flat surface on which to set foods (or egg cups), with lots of space for food, with a slight inclined edge to keep food from slipping off your plate. 
They're excellent for carrying food from one place to another, with slippery foods (like pasta) that might slide off a plate.
So ... now I keep a stack of soup bowls. Let's see if the family rebels against this. 
For now, I'm keeping the fine china, hoping to use it more often when I have more kitchen cabinet space to store it in.
 (Our next house has lots of kitchen cabinets, but almost no closet space.)
I may reduce to only 6 or 8 place settings, instead of twelve. 

What are your thoughts on china and crystal, especially those of you in your 40s or 50s? 
Keep? Use? Sell? Give away?
Do  you find that your daughters are interested in your old stuff?
Anna guffawed at the idea of people giving china and crystal (and silver even!) as wedding gifts. She asked, "Was that a Southern thing?" Heehee. Although even she will confess that we use our teapots and fine cups/saucers all the time. 

Do you still have your crystal or china? Do you use it?
Do you want to get rid of it but don't know how?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Few Days' Hodge-Podge

I mentioned to Lisa at Pen and Ink (who ordered her own copy of White Road) that I'd dog-eared the page where I found the most lovely sentence in the whole book, in my opinion. I meant to share it sometime. Here it is:

"The profile of the moon, still a narrow but brilliant bracket, was climbing over the roofs against a blue-black sky." (p. 138)

Simple, elegant, unique. Penned by a woman not writing in her native language. This sentence describes the evening when she and a group of women and children (families of the regiment) had to flee a town in Siberia at night, barely ahead of the pursuing Bolsheviks. Their officer husbands had left separately. They didn't know when they'd see them again. Chaos reigned among their sleighs, yet overhead the moon ascended and slid through its usual course, untroubled by the violence below.

Remember the abundant pecan harvest we had last fall? Already the trees in town are making the next crop. Here's a cluster of itty-bitty pecans:
I took that photo while walking the dogs on Saturday. Julia had flown away to Washington state. Adam was gone to presbytery meeting. I asked the doggies to pose calmly for some photos.
 I never did get them both looking at the camera simultaneously.
I said, "Where's Daddy?!"
Also, in family news, Anna has successfully bought a car.
She'd been saving up ever since her last little red car was totaled by a policeman who rear-ended her. Finally, her daddy took her to a bunch of used car lots, and she picked one. In the end, that's what you have to do. The girls has wheels, and we are so glad! She made it look so easy, I may have to do the same thing one of these days, if we can't get the Jaguar running.
I mentioned that Julia's gone. She went on a mission trip with some other church kids. They are working on an Indian reservation. I snapped a photo of them when we dropped them off.

Julia on the left, one of her best friends in the middle, her cousin (my niece) on the right. The report thus far is that they are having a great time and getting along well. Evidently these three are hanging together and getting to know some Korean kids from Canada who are also there to work. I'm so happy she could go. Mission trips were a huge part of my life from the time I was 15 to 25. I went on at least five trips to Mexico (the Yucatan), and two trips to Poland. Those trips are a huge part of who I am.
Lastly, while melting in the heat at the farmers' market Saturday morning, I made yet another purse-baby. I promise I won't post pics of each-and-every one of these. Maybe.
I love the curly red hair with the periwinkle purple bed. Her name is Helen.
Blessings and peace to you all on this Lord's day! Wherever you are, don't forget to worship and give thanks.