What's going on? Depression? Her mother had passed a couple years earlier. The two had been very close. The death hit hard. Maybe so hard that depression was taking away her voice?
It didn't seem so likely, when time kept passing and the words became harder and harder to decipher.
A notebook and pen became a constant.
Man. What in the world could it be? 67? 68? Still so young. She was so active and healthy and vibrant. A firecracker.
But then the diagnosis. ALS. What in the world. Louis Gehrig's disease? What does that even mean? It means that she can't talk anymore. It means that she can't clean her house. Or decorate her own tree at Christmas. It means that your super cool Nana with the candy apple red convertible mustang is going to slowly fade away. Because there is no cure. There is no treatment. There's only suctions and feeding tubes and feeble hand squeezes.
It means taking turns staying by her bedside at the hospital so she's never alone.
It means soft music and foot massages. And love. And scripture. And Jesus.
It means the most beautiful death. Surrounded by family and the most providentially timed reading of David's Psalm. Last breaths counted and charted until there were no more.
And now all these buckets of ice...all these nominations and donations. All this attention. Towards a cure? It feels a little bit like hope.
We're in full-on summer mode. At the onset of summer vacation, I mapped out a three month calendar. It amazes me how quickly all the activities fill our days. It's good stuff. All the kids are old enough now to have places to go and things to do.
Busy has been good.
But this is how I start my day, every other day...with the bread. Two loaves. For toast in the morning and sandwiches in the afternoon.
This is my favorite recipe:
Amish White Bread
1/2 cup raw sugar
3 tsp yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax
6 cups flour
Proof first three ingredients for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, save 3 cups flour, stir to combine. Fold in remaining flour and kneed for 10 minutes. Cover, and let rise for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Punch down, and divide into two greased bread pans. Let the second rise go for a good hour. Longer is okay.
I think most people have one? Mine is less about things I want to accomplish and more about things I want to accumulate.
Less exciting and more greedy.
In college, we toured a Herman Miller Dealer. The purpose of the tour was to learn about systems furniture (cubicles), but we couldn't help but learn about a handful of Design Greats during the process. Major contributors to Midcentury Modern style.
That's when I first fell in love with this chair:
I will be an official grown up when I own this chair. In my own library. With my own husband reclining in it as I bring him the morning paper and his coffee. And then I'll sit down next to him in my matching Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. We'll look out the window at the rolling hills outside. I'll say with a happy sigh, "Honestly." (that's a word I'll use a lot when I'm older)
Then I'll ask what time it is.
And we'll listen.
Because down the hall will be:
our Howard Miller (or some other) Grandfather Clock -
ready to chime on the 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and top of the hour.
we'll listen for
our Chalet Black Forest Cuckoo Clock to sing.
Then I'll say, "I should really get the sheep their breakfast."
Christmas this year? Was pretty eventful. And by eventful, I mean full of events. Like everyone in my family contracting strep throat. Also our (new) furnace quit working. 5 times in 7 days. And on the day right before Christmas eve, when my furnace was out, I thought it a good idea to bake. You know, to keep my house toasty. Which worked as well as it can when it's freezing Minnesota December outside and one space heater plus an oven inside.
AND THEN, I popped some cinnamon rolls from my sweet friend Anna into the oven. I was puttering around the kitchen. When I heard sparks and saw FLAMES SHOOTING OUT OF MY OVEN. Which was when my oven became dead to me.
All summer long, I waited for the fall colors to hit. I do this every season - too excited for the next to enjoy the present. It's something I have to work on. All the time. Enjoy the now.
Right now, life feels busy. Good busy. The kids are all doing things. Getting involved and figuring out what they like to do and how they want to spend their time. It's been a (good) trip seeing them blossom. We are pretty lucky duck parents.
We remark on that often. How blessed are we? Most evenings once all the ducks are in their nests, we sit. And remark. And plan. We've got this plan. It's loose. Maybe more of a direction? There are things we are doing and things we are not doing. Evaluating our choices....prioritizing, etc.
Our little home was starting to look a bit shabby. A weekend of scraping and painting and things are perking up.
I've been painting on canvas, too. Some good things are happening on that front. I'm excited. So far everything is fitting in the loose direction plan.
My living room is a little 50s living room. So, for a long time, I've been looking for little furniture. Most contemporary pieces in my price range are overstuffed and oversized. The same goes for chairs and coffee tables. It's all too big. But I get it. When you live in new homes, living rooms are big. And little furniture looks ridiculous. Big homes need big pieces. Scale and whatnot.
I had my heart set on something midcentury modern. But then that show came along and everyone else got their hearts set on MCM. It's The Thing. So MCM is no longer in my price range...supply and demand, you know.
I did some self reflection. Am I really a midcentury modern kind of gal? Or am I an old lady kind of gal? Do you know what I discovered? I am an old lady! AND! Old ladies take THE BEST CARE of their things. I found a couch on Craigslist. She is a thing of beauty. She is sturdy and pristine. She lived her entire life covered in plastic. We named her Granny Lou. Do you see Granny Lou's sister? That coffee table? Eighteen dollars. Ha!! She needed a little bit of love in the form of Murphy's and Mineral Oil. These gals are right at home in my old lady living room.
The other day I walked into my kitchen and something smelled great. Like a fruity candle. Or a middle school hallway at the beginning of the day. The culprit was a basket full of super ripe nectarines. They were dangerously close to the point where I normally would have cut my losses and tossed them out. But this time, I just couldn't. They were too soft to eat without making a terrible mess, and just enough to them to make discarding the lot painful.
So I stepped into the 1950s and turned them into refrigerator jam.
Since then, I've done the same with a carton of strawberries that were too tart for my kids liking. It's such a simple process that requires only three ingredients: fruit, water, & sugar.
First, wash the fruit and cut away any stems. Put them in a sauce pan with some water. Not so much water that they're completely covered, but enough so that if they were little children they would be splashing in the kiddie pool. Set the pot over medium high heat and let the water cook them a bit. After a couple of minutes take a spoon and start smooshing the fruit. At this point, add sugar. This is not an exact science...I just dumped in sugar until I felt good about it. Maybe 1 part sugar to 3 parts fruit. If you like things less sweet, use less. Allow this mixture to cook over low heat for a little while. I set my stove to the lowest setting and went outside to pick weeds. About 20 minutes later I came back to it, smooshed it a little more and poured it in a jar. (The nectarines I ran through the food processor because I had left the skin on.)
This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. Use it on toast, crackers, ice cream, cupcakes, pancakes or a spoon. If you made a ton, you can turn it into bread. I'll share that recipe tomorrow. I've got almond/nectarine bread in the oven right now...I'll let you know how it turns out.
I started my road trip on Friday late afternoon. Nora Efron's I feel bad about my neck talked me through rush-hour-stop-and-go traffic. Six hours later, I pulled up to my sister's house and crashed on her couch.
In the morning with a delicious cup of coffee in hand, I drove to the wind swept Eco Chic parking lot to set up my wares. My vendor neighbor's were the. best. ever.
The ladies from Modern Textiles had the most wonderful fabrics. And were so so great. I want to be their bff and chat with them all day over coffee and muffins.
I sat right next to The Honey B Soap Company's soaps. Oh my goodness. Some of them smelled so good I wanted to taste them. I refrained. I now have a bar of her golden flax goat soap in my kitchen and I can't say enough wonderful things about it. Brittany was so sweet and nice, and passionate about what she does and why she does it.
The wind threatened to blow us away, and I nearly lost my toes to frostbite. But! The good people of Fargo, North Dakota came out in droves. Thank you, Fargo, North Dakota. You are swell.
If I didn't hug you, I wanted to.
(And if I did hug you, you're welcome. Or, I'm sorry.)