Sunday, May 25, 2014

An Unexpected Reminder

Last week we drove a couple hours North to Wabash
 and then headed West a few miles,
 deep into Indiana farm land. 
 As we rounded the bend toward our son's friend's house,
 there across the barren corn field stood this barn
 with the flag image shingled into the roof.
I was caught by surprise to see it there.
And  I was proud.
My phone lens attempting to zoom across a half mile or so,
simply doesn't do the picturesque scene justice,
but it still reminds me
of my heritage,
my freedom
my memories
of loved ones
gone before.
Thank you to those men and women
in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice
for our freedom.
Sometimes we just need a visual reminder, don't we?
Fear not, for I am with you.
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
Yes, I will
 help you,
I will uphold you
with My
righteous right hand.
Old Testament Book of Isaiah
Chapter 41 verse 10
That is really great news!
Isn't it?

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Parents' Gift To Me

It's hard to believe that it's been more than a week already since my birthday,
and that May is more than half over.
Where is time going?
My son took this photo.
It's there to prove 
I have "etchings" from life
and living.
"Etchings of living"
ah yes,
what would life be without the scars 
and lessons
and new insight?
Would it just be a meaningless
existence of days?
I don't want to live like that.
It seems life is made up in the daily journey.
Last Thursday I wanted to post 
and say how thankful I was to have another birthday...
and all that stuff I say on my birthday
every year.
And I mean all of it.
It is my parents' gift to me.
I open that gift with every breath I breathe.
And I am filled with thanksgiving.
I am thankful for life
and health
and safety
and joy.
But we had deadlines that day.
Deadlines that really were deadlines.
They weren't moving targets.
Stuff had to be done,
THAT day,
not some other day.
So we started at 5:30 that morning
 in hopes of "knocking it out"
right away.
At 8:30 that night we finished!
We finished!
We met THAT deadline.
Then we jumped in the car 
and went to get a bite to eat
I hadn't cooked all day.
No fanfare.
No singing.
No balloons and confetti.
No less a birthday.
My birthday.
I was really happy to be having
Not everyone gets that privilege!
I am blessed!
My family...
It was so sweet
 when I looked in
 and saw that my daughter 
had changed the chalkboard message.
She said she was going to draw the dog on there
until she remembered that my name
All day long I received messages,
phone calls,

Our son went to Walmart about midnight and bought
German Chocolate Cake Mix
Coconut Pecan Icing!
He made a cake the next day.

Around 10:30, the next night,
 the 16th,
three of us decided to eat the 
German Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream,
while one slept,
while one hung out with friends,
three of us ate.

it was good!

So I had a good birthday.
Yes, I had a birthday.

And who knows...
maybe we will celebrate
on June 15th,
and throw confetti
and release helium filled balloons,
and take an impromptu trip to 
Prince Edward Island
(a dream, a wish)
and laugh
sing happy birthday 
to the top of our lungs
and eat more cake.

Or not.

And you know, 
I'm just fine with that.
Because I still had a birthday.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How To Cut An Onion Without Crying

At the very bottom of this blog post,
you will find the directions for cutting an onion without crying.
In my experience, if I vary from this at all,
I will cry...
so I do it the same way every time.
Do not vary from the directions.
If you want to read the story behind the method, then keep reading!
Thanks for stopping by!
I'm not picky about the type of onion that I buy...sweet, Vidalia, white, etc.
I buy what is on sale,
unless I need a red one to garnish a salad.
I don't eat raw onions.
Nope, just will not do it...don't care for the smell or taste!
And I love vegetables, but is an onion really a vegetable?
However I know they are extremely healthy,
so I usually include them in meat dishes
or stir fry
and when we have a meal
that I know my guests will enjoy them as a garnish.
My onions are stored under our kitchen island in a large plastic bowl.
I always chop the whole onion.
Any I don't use, goes straight into a Ziploc bag
and promptly to the freezer,
ready for use in a cooked meal.
That way my fridge doesn't smell like freshly chopped onion either...
just a few of my quirks revealed here!

I originally posted this on January 12, 2010,
but have been asked how I cut an onion without crying,
so I am re posting it today.
At Christmas one of my sisters was here for a few days.
We were having a large family meal with my husband's side of the family.
A big bowl of chopped onions was part of the menu (chili...another post).
I plopped 3 very large onions down on the counter and told my sister,
"Here, chop these."
I went about my business with other "kitcheny things"
like you do preparing a meal,
when suddenly I realized that I was crying,
no actually bawling...
a full on 4 tissue cry!
I thought, "What in the world?"
Looking at my sister, saw that she was crying too.
Her eyes were clamped tightly closed
with her nose daintily tipped in the air.
Her hands were stretched as far away from herself as possible
and still be able to chop the onion.
Tears were streaming down her face.
I apologized profusely through my tears for making her cry.
Now, doesn't that sound silly?
I had no idea that chopping onions
would have that effect on her or myself for that matter!
I said, "I never cry when I chop onions,
I wouldn't have asked you to do it if I'd have known they made you cry."
She wanted to know how I chopped an onion,
so I grabbed a knife and an onion and started to show her.
Then we began to laugh.
How could I possibly show her that my way of chopping an onion
doesn't make you cry...we were both in a full on cry at the time! A few days later and hundreds of miles away she sent me a text message. She'd cut an onion for a meal,
and she hadn't cried!
It feels very egotistical to call cutting an onion MY WAY...
I didn't even really realize that I had "a way" until I started to show her,
then Ah ha, it hit me...
I do this the same way
Ah the things learned from a Sis! I just wonder if this will work for anyone else.
Last night I chopped an onion
and I could feel the "onion juice" spray on my fingers
and I did feel a slight burning sensation in my eyes and I thought,
"Oh no, I've put myself on the line here
and now I'm truly gonna cry."
But the sensation went away and I didn't cry.

I'm sorry these photos are blurry,
but quite frankly I was a tad bit grossed out
with the idea of getting onion juice on the camera,
so this is what I got.

And speaking of onion juice,
when I'm finished chopping,
I put a tiny bit of dish detergent in my hands
and hold a stainless steel spoon while I wash the soap off of my hands...
no stinky onion smell!
So well there,
now I've told you all I know about chopping an onion in about 8.7 minutes. I'd love to know if this works for you too.
1. Cut the stem of the onion off first.
2. Peel down the papery skin and the first layer of the onion sorta like shucking corn. You know what that is right?
3. Cut off the root and the papery skin stuff and the first layer or two of the onion all a the same time...just cut right across all of it and separate it from the bottom of the onion.
4. Set the onion down on a cutting board, stem end down on the board..
5. Make a slice through the onion, vertically, in half, with the root end towards you...remember you put the stem end down on the cutting board.
6. Then lay both halves of the onion down on the plate cut side down.
7. Begin to make slices through one half of the onion, starting at the stem side, cutting so the slices make little arches.
8. Turn the onion half that is sliced in little arches around, and make another cut across the arches to make little onion pieces. You can make all of these slices as big or as little as your recipe demands. For stir fry I make big slices and for meat dishes, I try to make little tiny slices.
9. If you have a food processor, none of this matters anyway.
10. Hurry stop reading this and go chop an onion. Do a happy dance if you don't cry. Be sure to wash away the stinky onion juice holding a stainless steel spoon, and then rush right back to your computer and tell me if it works for you too.
If it does...I think I'll just set right down and have myself a good cry, a full on 4 tissue bawl my eyeballs out kind of cry!

Happy chopping.
Love, Rachel

I'm sorry for the blurry pictures. I hope they helped a tiny bit.
As soon as I can, I will update the photos.
P.S. If you read to the very end of all of this, thank you thank you so much!
On a side note:
Last night as she sauntered into the kitchen our little girl said, "By the way, what's for supper mama? It's gotta be something romantic!" "Romantic!" I said, "Where'd ya get that idea?"
I wonder if chicken tacos qualifies as romantic?
She must have thought so because she scurried around to write menus and set up a restaurant!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Do You Understand A Dog's Nose?

 I was not impressed
 when I discovered that the coon dog pup
had dug a basketball size hole
under the play set.
However, I was grateful
it was under the play set,
so I didn't have to see it every time
I walked into the backyard.
 Upon closer inspection,
 I realized
 that he had stopped digging
when he got to this glass bottle.
So I lifted it out with a shovel.
Why did the dog stop digging
when he got to the bottle?
Did he smell it?
And if he did smell it,
why now?
Why not months ago?
Once he saw it was a bottle
did he loose interest?
Did the smell dissipate?
I just don't understand a dog's nose.
Do you?
And he wouldn't answer any of my questions.
I have no idea how things like this get buried.
When I showed it to him,
I expected the pup to lift it off the shovel
 with his teeth and prance around
 the yard with his "trophy".
He just gave it a passing "ho hum" glance.
I said, "Good job pup. 
Next time dig up a million bucks."
I don't think he was listening.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

Do you have some days that are particularly grueling?
Do you?

Yeah, me too!

Last Wednesday,
 May 7th,
was sunny and warm.
I can't remember if there were clouds in the sky.
But certainly there seemed to be no rain, anywhere.

We had an appointment,
downtown Indianapolis.
From the 25th floor
 of the high rise office building,
everything was clear,
it seemed.
The sun was shining brightly
 and glinting off the mirrored
windows of the other buildings.
 the streets stretched through canopies of trees,
making the downtown look more like a forest,
than a bustling city.
From my vantage point,
I saw the cars,
 and buses and bicycles,
and pedestrians
and watched the symphony
 of hurry and scurry.
There seemed to be some order to all of it.
But I couldn't help but wonder what the lives
on the streets below me were bearing. 
What were the stories being written in those lives,
those lives on the streets below?
 Around 8 p.m. our meeting ended.
We headed toward home.
Dusk was beginning to show the shadows of night.
As we drove,
 I was sorting through files
and rearranging notes.
I looked up to my right,
 just in time to see this rainbow!
A rainbow?
It wasn't raining.
There was no rain.
In my concentration
on the task at hand,
I almost missed this miracle!
And I've lived long enough...
just barely long enough...
to realize that things are not always
as they seem.
no rain
still a rainbow
behind clouds
seeds germinating below the soil
then harvest comes
That's where faith and trust come in.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
 neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah chapter 55 verses 8-9 
Old Testament Holy Bible
Are you struggling with faith and trust? 
Are your feelings clouding your dreams?
Things are not always as they seem.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Legacy Is Written

 When our eyes and heart first fell in love with this old house,
  a porch swing hung,
in the place where one of our rockers now sits.
  We were looking for an old house
on this street
with character and porches. 
 In our opinion,
 this one had an awesome back porch
 and the possibility of a front porch (click on the blue words to read that story).
  We loved the street the house sat on and the alley behind the house was so quaint and useful. 
 When the "for sale" sign went up in the front yard,
we began to drive past and dream. 
 One day as we slowly drove down the alley,
 thinking and looking
 and trying to decide if to pursue our fascination
 with the house a little further,
we saw the owners sitting in the porch swing. 
 They were sitting close,
 there was plenty of room left in the swing for another person
 and he had his arm pulled tight around her shoulders. 
 It was obvious that they were happy
and enjoyed each others company.
  The porch was "A Romantic Porch" even back then. 
 We didn't know them or anything about them
 when we decided we wanted to buy their house.
Across all these years,
 there are some things we have never changed,
 such as this bumper sticker stuck to the bedroom door.
  I have no idea how long it has been there. 
 Obviously, it was probably stuck there
during one of his mayoral campaigns. 
 We have never changed it.
  Isn't that funny? 
 Our sons would protest its removal. 
Honestly, at this point, I might protest its removal.
Directly across the hall on another bedroom door is a sticker for the county volunteer fire department.
On the back of this closet door,
 scratched into the wood panel,
 one of their sons declared his love for a girl,
 not just once but twice!
It is darling.  
I fell in love with the inscription from the moment I saw it.
  Somewhere along the way,
 one of our children etched his name into the door panel also.
  In my opinion, that is precious too.
  The walls can talk.
I believe it is important to take good care of what we have.
I don't think we should deface property.
But for me,
 those are three reminders of
the hands of time,
 passing memories,
passing moments,
passing moments into days,
and passing days into years,
until life is spent,
and the hands have written our legacy,
one stroke at a time.
We've loved the family who lived in our home before us.
 They told us some neat stories of their 35 or so years here.
 This amazing man,
 the one who was on the porch swing with his wife,
 was the mayor of our town.
  He had an incredible ability to call people by name anytime he saw them.
 He made them feel special.
A few weeks ago,
 we ran into him and one of his devoted daughters at a local eatery.
  They were seated at a small table by a large window.
Philip said to me,
"Rachel, you've gotta get a picture of Mr. McClarnon.
 Just look how he is seated."
  Directly behind him,
 through the large plate glass window,
 we saw City Hall which was named in his honor.
As they and we were leaving about the same time,
 we had a brief chance to chat.
 They so kindly obliged our desire to snap a few photos.
It brought me such joy to have a chance to take these pictures. 
 As we took them, he greeted people passing by, calling them by name. 
Last night, 
we went to pay our respects
as he was laid to rest today.
 In the past, he served our town with excellence for 20 years.
 His daughter said, 
 "We left a lot of really good karma in your house.  We really did."
 Yes you did!
And for us,
 it possibly started right out there in a porch swing on
 "A Romantic Porch".
Rest In Peace
Mr. McClarnon
Thank you for the smiles

These are my personal photos used with permission by his family.

Friday, May 9, 2014

No One Told Me

No one told me
 that these hearts would beat inside mine,
 forever at the same time.
And no one told me that my children's hearts
 would also
 beat outside my body
all at the same time, 
and get knocked around,
and hurt,
and bruised,
and cut,
and loved,
and I would feel all of that too... the same time.
I just wasn't prepared for the "unpreparable" part...
the life lived as it happened part...
the unforeseen
minute by minute part,
as a mother.
I wasn't prepared to hear how all the other mothers
did this that and the other thing
and how good they were at it,
and how utterly miserably failing
I seemed to be.
Yep, I was unprepared
for the trenches of mothering,
the sleepless nights
that I've never outgrown,
the soothing when nothing soothed
the meals cooked that didn't fill
 the hunger
the ache
the pain
of childhood,
that mothering can't mend.
I was unprepared for the rush,
the scurry,
the strained words
when personalities don't meld,
unprepared for such different personalities
bound together as siblings.
I mean after all, I'm the mother.
Shouldn't they have a few bits and pieces of me,
 beating inside them?
Instead it is their heart beating in me.
I was unprepared for the bittersweet knowledge
 that instead of teaching them
so many life lessons
important life lessons
the bigger lesson learned
was for me
to become more
to learn more
to be more
 as their mother.
And in my learning and growing
I wasn't prepared for the times that silence
took precedence over words.
I wasn't prepared for the longing
for them to see
and know
my love.
Loving them
in all my mistakes
in all my failures
in all the unpreparedness
of being a mother
in living life 
the best I knew how
every single minute
living each minute intentionally
and still messing up!
I'm flawed.
They are flawed.
But we are bound
and I've got their  heart
right here inside my unprepared self
because I'm
their mother.
And to one told me!
If you would like to see a couple of my other thoughts on mothering you can read about that here and  if you never read another word on this blog, please encourage yourself here.
But most of all I would love to hear a mothering story or two from you, because you are just that awesome!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What A Lucky Dog

I need one of those real "fancy smancy" cameras to zoom in on animals
 because I think they do the funniest things when they think you aren't looking,
or something like that.
And this would have been a crazy great photo,
with the right zoom lens.
in my opinion
You know some people say to let sleeping dogs lie...
I don't know if that's a very good idea.
In this case,
 it struck me as funny,
 seeing the ole' coon pup
 sleeping so hard his nose was "smushed" to the ground.
But I have told you before, I am easily entertained...
lucky for the dog!

Has your dog done something funny in the last couple of days?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

That Is What They Say

I've heard it said, "Into each life a little rain must fall." 
Have you heard that too?
Well, if there is rain, somewhere there is a rainbow.
I love looking for rainbows.
Do you?