Monday, July 23, 2007

Company for Dinner

Zinnias from my garden in a pitcher my daughter's bought for me in Croatia.

The table is set: placemats from Wal-mart, napkins from a gift shop, and flowers from my garden.
We are having friends over for dinner this evening. If it wasn't so hot, we would eat out on the back patio. But I think we will all be more comfortable inside in the air conditioning. Maybe we will take our strawberry shortcake outside after dinner if it cools off.
Does having guests for dinner stress you out? I hope not. Sometimes we spend too much energy worrying about everything being just right instead of just enjoying the preparation. I have tidied things up a bit, but I haven't cleaned the entire house. I have come to the conclusion that a stressed-out hostess doesn't create the warm, friendly atmosphere that I desire for my guests. Family and friends will generally overlook a little imperfection when the mood and food exude a welcoming environment.
Here's a good summertime potatoe recipe (I'm serving this tonight!) that is good served warm or at room temperature:

4 boiling pototoes---peel and slice 1/4 inch thick. Boil in salted water
until tender. Drain and add to the following mixture. Toss.

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil, either light or extra virgin
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley (If I don't have the fresh
parsley, I use dried parsley or dill.)

If you have leftovers, make some pototoes salad with it! I rarely have any left, even if I double the recipe.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mid-summer Slump, Time for a Little Umph!

A butterfly enjoys my zinnias!

My bed of zinnias. I cut these for indoor bouquets.

My greenbeans will soon be ready!

This time of year most gardeners get a little weary. If you are like me, you are not as inspired right now as you were in spring and early summer. Early on we can't wait to get outside, get our fingers in the dirt, poke a few seeds in the ground, and plant our flowers. But then our enthusiasm gives way as summer wears on and the temperatures soar. We find a plethora of reasons NOT to work outside---anything to escape the heat.
Over the years, I've found that just when I start to get weary of yardwork is the exact time to give it one more push. So I have been out weeding, deadheading flowers, and fertilizing my potted plants. As we move into August, this last bit of "umph" pays off with more blooms and a nice garden. So another few hours out there sweating profusely---then I will rest a bit. I know I will be rewarded for my efforts.
As I think about it, life is often the same way. Many endeavors such as education, jobs, marriage, and raising kids are started with great enthusiasm. Then over time we often tire of the energy these things require.
I started writing several years ago. I began with gusto! My excitement was obvious to all who knew me. As time has gone by, that excitement has waned, and I am less inspired about writing. I am wondering if this might be the time for me to invest with a little more umph. A little spirt on energy might get me through!
How about you? Is there something that you need put your shoulder into? Could it be that the dividends of a little exhertion physically, emotionally, relationally, or spiritually might be worth it?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Returned to Sender---Sixty-Two Years Ago

This is a photo I took of a stack of letters that were returned to my father that were written to his younger brother Alvin during World War II. Across the front of them is handwritten deceased.

I just finished reading these letters as well as others written by both my father and an uncle I never met. There were also some notes from my grandmother to her son. What an up close and personal history lesson! I am keenly aware of the sacrifice famlies made for freedom around the world before I was ever born.

The last letter included both a letter from my dad and my grandmother, dated April 9, 1945. Here is a quote from my dad's letter:

"Dad just came with the news that you were wounded in action, slightly. I sure
will pray hard for you.... I hope the war is over in a few days, and you don't
have to see anymore action. Take good care of yourself, and stick with the

Here is a quote from my dear grandmother:

"...Dad called me after he got the telegram saying you were slightly wounded
the 28 of March.... I do hope you are not in pain tonight. It is very hard to not
know, but not as hard as it is for you to be in this awful battle. ...if there
was any way I could be with you I would. With much love, Mama."

My grandmother said she had saved a poem to send Alvin before she new he was injured. She enclosed it with her letter. This is the poem she sent:


I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea

Come drifting home with broken masts and sails:

I shall believe the hand which never fails,

From seeming evil worketh good for me;

And though I weep because those sails are battered,

Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,

"I trust in Thee"

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return

Unanswered from the still, white realm above;

I shall believe it is an all-wise love

Which has refused those things for which I yearn;

And though at time I can not keep from grieving,

Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing

Undimmed shall burn.

----Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Her son died before he read her letter or these words. How little did my grandmother know she would indeed grieve and yet continue believing in an all-wise love.

I am overwhelmed with emotion at this glimpse into the past.