About The River

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Time to Hit the Beach Hodgepodge

It is Wednesday and it is time for the Hodgepodge.
Join in on the fun! Joyce asks the questions, we answer the questions.

1. The first day of summer rolls in later this week. What are ten things you'd put on your list of  quintessential summer activities? Will you try to manage all ten this summer?

1. Time at the beach!  
Yep, we have a camp trip planned on the Southern Shores of Lake Superior in July.
2. Enjoying a bon fire.
Have done that and will have a few more.
3. Eating S'Mores while enjoying the bon fire.
Yep, did and will do again. 
4. Canoeing!
We have plans to enjoy a day paddling a new lake.
5. Catching Fireflies!
I use to do this every summer with my sister and cousin. I ask the boys to help me catch them now. It always ends in laughter and mosquito bites. The fireflies are out at the same time the mosquito are out.
6. Picnics
We already had a few of these and have some more on the calendar.
7. BLT's
This will happen in August for me, a fresh BLT with lettuce and tomato from our garden.
8. Berry picking.
Each summer I take the boys strawberry picking. That time is coming up.
9. Moon Walks.
Our family was treated to a special night with Judy and Mr. C of  Cranberry Morning.
We played croquet, enjoyed a lovely meal sitting on the porch and ended the evening taking a moon walk during the full Strawberry Moon.
10. Family Time!!
YES, I will be sure to get some of that in too!

  2. Do you collect seashells when you're at the beach? What do you do with them once you get them home? What's your favorite place to comb for seashells? How many of these 'best beaches for hunting seashells' have you visited? Which one would you most like to visit?

Calvert Cliffs State Park (Maryland), Jeffrey's Bay (South Africa), Sanibel Island (Florida), Shipwreck Beach (Lanai Hawaii), Ocracoke Island (North Carolina), Galveston Island (Texas) and The Bahamas

I do collect sea shells. I put my small shells in a jar. I have a few large shells that I have with my summer decor. When we enjoy the beaches of Lake Superior, we usually look for agates, sea glass and unique drift wood.
I have not visited any of the beaches on the list. 
My friend Marv loves the beaches of Texas. I have family that live in Texas. I will pick Galveston Island as the first to visit.

 3. At a snail's pace, shell out money, come out of your shell, go back into your shell, drop a bombshell, happy as a clam, clam up...which 'shell' phrase could most recently be applied to some event or circumstance in your life? Explain.

Happy as a Clam
School is out! 
Our claim for the damage done to our home during the May 16th storm is all settled. 
My boys are enjoying the days of summer and working part time.
My dad continues to heal after his April 11th heart attack.

4. What summer activity do you dislike? Why?

  I can not think of an activity. Instead, STORMS continue to pop into my mind. Summer brings heat and humidity to Wisconsin. We can have awful storms. 
I dislike when the storm siren is blaring and the sky is angry.

 5. What's something you see as quickly becoming obsolete? Does that bother you?

It means “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine."
Yes, it bothers me.  

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Pacific Ocean
Torrey Pines State Park

I vote for this to be a must see!
Our family loved Torrey Pines.

Friday, June 16, 2017

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go into the New Year

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go into the New Year

What I have accomplished earlier this year and blogged about ...

New Challenges ~ Downsizing closets ... cleaned two closets and said good bye to some of the boys things from when they were wee ones.
Love -n- Sharing Summit ~ saying I would help put on a children's program and was put in charge.

New Experiences ~ Active Shooter Class

New Hope
Congratulations Mom .... I now am a Master Gardener.

New Hope ~ to complete the Wisconsin Master Gardener class.
I did it! I will be honest, heading back to school was not easy. I had to re-read a few chapters and watch a few on line courses over to retain the information. 
I enjoyed my classmates. The night of the F3 tornado, I missed class. My classmates e mailed me asking if I was alright and if my neighborhood needed help.
Our instructors were great. They never made me feel dumb for not knowing something that seemed so obvious to them. They were very patient in helping all of us.

My boys made me the sign above and is still hanging in our dinning room. I just love how they drew flowers and the graduate in the center.

I will be sharing my New Project with you next week.

How about you?
New Projects?
New Experiences?
New Challenges?
New Dreams?
New Hopes?

Enjoy the Weekend!



Thursday, June 15, 2017

A story from the 92 year old lady ....

This past September I applied for a Meals on Wheels position with our local Office on Aging. I work part time. The position is two weeks on, two weeks off. During my weeks on, I work a total of 20 hours a week, 4 hours a day.
I have a rural route. I deliver to 10 different homes and take bulk food to the Chetek Senior Center. 

May 16th, our county was hit by a F3 tornado. It made the National news, 25 injured and one person died. This tornado was only two miles from our home. 
This tornado touched down right in the area I deliver meals.

I was not on the route the week of the tornado. Doug my co worker called to share with me that everyone was well, but oh my, a mess.

Now for my story, from my sweet 92 year old.
I was back to work the week after the touch down. As I made me deliveries I was in shock. As I drove to my sweet 92 year old, I could not believe it!  A huge pine tree fell on her house and the entire area around her was gone, ripped up, her deck was gone, trees, flowers, garden and even the shoreline down to the lake. 
I gave her a hug! I asked her "you are 92 years old, have you ever been in a tornado?"
"No, I have not! This is my first one."

Her son lives across the street from her, she told me he came over and said "Mom, a tornado is on the way. We need to get you down in the basement." She told him, " I am not going in the basement she said, I am going to the bathroom, I will never make it back up from the basement." 

She was out of power for four days. She told me, "I stayed right here! I was not about to leave my home."  The interesting thing was that after the tornado, our weather was cold and rainy for the rest of the week. With a tarp on the roof and half the house and no power, it got chilly. She said, "Oh I was fine, I went to bed early and got cozy under the blankets."

So why did I share the quote above?

My sweet 92 year old, has just lost half of her home, all of her trees and her shoreline. She takes me to the window that over looks the lake. The tornado also touched down across the lake, and took all the trees and tore up the earth. As she looked across the lake, she looked at me and said "Carla, I never knew all those homes where across the lake, it is so pretty at night to see the lights twinkle." 

Another positive thinker in the tornado.
The area the tornado hit was full of trees, the homes were built among towering pines. What is so strange is the tornado took the pine trees, garages, out buildings but left many of the homes. I noticed today when I delivered, one of the homes that survived, they planted a vegetable garden. Something they could not do before because of all the shade. 
I hope they have a great first vegetable garden season.
 "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." - Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Proper Pruning for Woody Ornamentals .... Lilacs

Proper Pruning for Lilacs

During my Master Garden Class I learned the proper technique to prune lilacs. I had no idea that the largest stem or large branch of the lilac really should be cut out. I was thinking you would want the old branch.  Pruning helps open the plant up and encourages the new shoots to grow and have new lilac blooms.
And another thing I learned, spring blooming woody ornamentals produce next years flower buds shortly after they bloom. If you want the maximum number of flowers, prune in the growing season shortly after blooming ends.

Below I have included the UW Extension Master Gardener tips to pruning  woody ornamentals. 
Old fashioned, or common purple lilacs are one of my favorite plants. But they can get large (and ugly) if left unpruned for a number of years. The good news is you can easily restore them with proper pruning. Multistemmed spring and early summer blooming shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, bridalwreath sprirea, dogwood, and mockorange should be pruned by cutting off the largest stems at the ground line. I like to prune all of these in the spring before they leaf out so I can get in there and see the stem and branching structure and I don’t have to see around all the leaves. But, spring bloomers, do produce their flowers buds for the next year shortly after they bloom. If you’re going to prune spring bloomers in the late dormant season remember you will remove some flower buds, reducing the number of flower buds in the spring. If you want the maximum number of flowers, prune in the growing season shortly after blooming ends.
Regardless of when you prune, follow the guideline of removing 1/3 of the largest stems at the ground level. Pruning opens the plant up reducing insect and disease problems and encourages new shoots to grow from the root system.   Continue to remove ¼ to 1/3 of the biggest stems each year and in 3 to 4 years you’ll have a brand new lilac with much better shape and size.
There’s another option for old multistemmed lilacs and spring blooming shrubs. The plants can be cut down to the ground before they begin to leaf out in the spring. They definitely won’t bloom that year but will send up many new stems. In a year or two they will grow back into a shrub that will add, not detract, from your landscape.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Joy List Monday

Tracks on the Beach

Joy List Monday
♥ a weekly ritual ♥
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces 
that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

♥ peonies ... oh how I love the smell of peonies
♥ fresh baked peanut butter cookies
 ♥ orioles feeding at the oranges we have setting out
 ♥ the feel of beach sand on my feet
♥ the taste of 7 Up on a 90 degree day

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tips for Keeping Lilac Bouquets

Tips for Lilac Bouquets 

Do you love the smell of lilacs? You want that wonderful romantic smell next to  you on your nightstand. You go out and pick your bouquet of lilacs and soon after they are droopy and the flowers wilt. I will share with you a few tips to keep lilac bouquets.

Lilacs need hydration. When you go outside to pick your lilac, take a bucket of cold water with you. As you pick your lilac, put the flower heads into the cold water. I know it may seem strange at first, but go ahead and dunk those lilac.

 When you get inside, again, put your lilac in a sink of cold water.

 Next up, is step two, stems.
Boil some water and fill a mug with boiling water.
Dunk the woody stem into the water.
Then take a hammer and pound the stem.

What you are doing is helping the woody stem be able to drink the water in the vase.

 Here you can see the woody stem opened to drink water while in the vase.

Your lilacs are now ready for you to create your bouquet.
Lilacs can be put into a vase with other flowers and greens.
Watch you water level in your vase. Lilacs can drink up quickly and you will need to add fresh water with in the day.


"It is the season now to go about the country high and low, among the lilacs hand in hand and two by two in fairyland."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, June 1, 2017


bloom (v.) 
to grow or flourish with youth and vigor.
to shine or glow.

be back soon 
planting season is here

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy 20th Anniversary

May 31st, 1997

Jeremy and Carla 

Memories of the Day

♥ we had beautiful weather for our outdoor wedding
 ♥ family and friends made the day very special
 ♥ our wedding colors ~ yellow and white
♥ our wedding flowers ~ daffodils and daises
 ♥ we released balloons into the air after saying ~ I do
 ♥ our wedding cake fell over


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Black Chokeberry ~ The topic of my Master Gardener Final

 Hello Friends,
Several of you asked for more information regarding the shrub I had to do my final presentation on for my Master Gardener class.

I am attaching some of my fact sheet that I presented as my final.

Black Chokeberry



The black chokeberry is rising in popularity. A user friendly shrub that gives your garden year around interest.

The black chokeberry is a member of the rose family.
It tolerates partial shade (up to 50 percent) but thrives in full sun. Hardy to zone 3, it is an excellent choice for low lying wet areas where only moss and mosquitoes flourish. Yet, it can acclimate itself to dry, sandy locations.

The leaves of black chokeberry emerge a medium green. Leaves are alternate on the stems, simple, 1-3 inches in width. They are obovate in shape (oval, but narrower at the base than near the tip), with fine and regular teeth along the edges. Their upper surfaces are dark green and lustrous, with dark glands on the upper surface of the midrib. Lower leaf surfaces are lighter green. Both surfaces are glabrous (smooth). The petioles are ¼ inch or less in length. Leaves often grow only on the top 2/3 of plants. The leaves are bright green as they develop in spring, and they darken as the season progresses. In early spring the black chokeberry is a showy display of clustered white flowers. Black chokeberry flowers have five white petals, and numerous pink stamens. They open in mid – May, late enough that they are not often affected by late spring frost. Primary pollinators are small bees.
As the season progresses, the leaves turn a deep, glossy green, which brightens the plant and heightens its appeal during the dog days of summer. In mid to late summer, the berries start to develop; within two weeks many of the branches droop with heavy clusters of fruit. Ripening a purplish black, the 1/3 inch berry persists into January.

The black chokeberry is a Spring – flowering shrub. Spring – flowering shrubs produce flowers on one year old wood. Spring – flowering shrubs that sucker readily from the base benefit from thinning. You should prune these shrubs AFTER they have flowered in spring, but before the next year’s flower buds are set. If you prune these shrubs in winter or early spring, you will remove many of the flower buds.

Examples of spring – flowering shrubs are: lilacs, forsythia, viburnums, honeysuckle, chokeberry, mock orange, and weigela.

Why prune shrubs?
Pruning is important for a variety of reasons. Pruning can help control the size of a shrub, direct growth, influence flowering or fruiting, rejuvenate old, overgrown plants, or maintain plant health and appearance. Pruning also encourages growth below the pruning cut.
Contact your local UW Extension for more information regarding pruning.

Should you plant a Black Chokeberry?
The black chokeberry is an adaptable shrub. It is moderately tolerant of shade and prefers moist acidic soils, although it is adaptable to a wide range of soil moisture, being found in both low wet lands and dry sandy slopes.
The black chokeberry tolerates salt spray, drought and soil compaction.

Insects that cause problems to the black chokeberry
Two Spotted Spider Mites
You will notice the following complications on your black chokeberry if Two Spotted Spider Mites are present.
White to yellow stippling on foliage, clusters of the mites and premature leaf drop.
You can shake the leaves over a white paper plate and identify that you have two spotted spider mites.
If you have confirmed you have the two spotted spider mite, you can do the following to help control the pest.
Physical Control– using a water hose, spray the infested leaves to dislodge some of the mites. This can also wash away their protective webbing.
Natural Control Lady Beetles
Chemical Control - Miticides/Insecticides using an insecticidal soap.

Clearwing Borers
You will notice larval feeding of the clearwing borers because your plants will be wilted. Lower parts of stems are gnarled and scarred with sawdust. Pupal cases may be found sticking out of holes in the bark in spring.
Entire bush may die – Plant mortality risk: High
Cultural Control – avoid mechanical damage to the bark, do not band trees as it has been shown to increase borer attack.
Chemical Control – spray a long lasting, broad spectrum insecticide on the trunk and limbs.
Biological Control – Parasitic Wasps

Snowball Aphid
You will notice signs of snowball aphid damage if you have twisted, curled, distorted and cupped leaves and shoots. Look for aphids on underside of leaves. Adult aphids are bluish gray and bodies that appear to be dusted with white powder. You can often find ants tending the aphids.
Control is usually not suggested, but using insecticidal soapy sprays reduce the numbers.

Disease that can cause problems to the black chokeberry
Black chokeberry appears to have very few disease and pest problems.

Mildew can become a problem when plants do not receive adequate sunlight and air circulation. If you notice your leaves appear dusty and spores can be rubbed off the plant tissue on to your fingers, you may have a mildew problem.

Physical Control – increasing air circulation and light penetration will help. Shrubs should be pruned and thinned to reduce over crowding in the landscape.
When planting new shrubs, select those which have resistance to powdery mildew and allow for adequate spacing of plants.
Chemical Controls – Mildew seldom warrants chemical control. If you decide to use a fungicide, Contact your local UW Extension for more information.

Other facts about the black chokeberry
The black chokeberry is an amazing shrub. It has no serious stress or pests, however, rabbits and deer enjoy browsing on the black chokeberry.
It is tolerant to salt, and is tolerant of compacted, wet, and dry soils.

Reproduction is primarily by seed.
Though black chokeberry is native to eastern North America, it has been planted extensively in Europe and Asia. In Russia, Denmark and eastern Europe the fruit is widely used for juice and wine production. The Europeans have developed several varieties which are now available in the U.S. from commercial nurseries.
Viking’ is a vigorous, productive variety from Scandinavia, which can grow to a height of six feet.
Nero’ is a shorter growing variety, reaching a height of 3 to 4 feet, with dark blue berries. In the U.S. a selection from a native source in Michigan is being sold as ‘Morton’ black chokeberry. It is marketed in the Midwest under the trademark Iroquois Beauty™.

Prepared by:
Carla TePaske

USDA - Black Chokeberry Plant Guide
UW Extension Wisconsin – How to Properly Prune Deciduous Shrubs
UW Green Bay – Shrubs of Wisconsin
University of Maine – Black Chokeberry
UW Madison –Dr. Brian Hudelson – Plant Disease

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thank You

Thank You


In Flanders Fields

"In Flanders Fields" is a war poem in the form of a rondeau, written during the First World War by Canadian physician and Lt. Col. John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died during the Second Battle of Ypres.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lt. Col. John McCrae

My dad shared with me, that he recited, In Flanders Fields at a Memorial Day service, when he was in school. It is something he still is proud of doing and remembers well.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Who is knocking at the door?

Hello Friends,
I am just letting out some frustration.
As you know our area was hit by a storm and 2 miles down the road (the National Weather Service as upgraded the tornado to a F 3) ... we have enough to deal with.

Wednesday afternoon, a knock at the door.
I went out to open the door, and this  fella is standing on the deck. He quickly starts telling me how we can get a new roof, windows and so much more. He needs to just take a peek at our roof. Before, I can say a word, he says to me, and points out, "yep, I can see that it is possible, you have this and this."

Who are you? 
What are you doing bothering me?
He is off to get his ladder, he does not seem to care that I am telling him, No!

Thankfully, my husband pulls into the driveway. On his bike. My husband rides his bike to work.
He looks at me and the fella. I shake my head and my husband is quickly at my side.

Needless to say, my husband chased the fella off. 
About 10 minutes after this happened, I heard an alert on the radio regarding Storm Chasers, who come in after a storm, knocking on doors.

I will be ready for the next one!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Reveiw ~ Lilac Girls

Book Review

Lilac Girls
Martha Hall Kelly

 I recently listened to Lilac Girls while driving my Meals on Wheels route.
Have you ever heard a story that just made you want to know more.
Lilac Girls did that to me.

Based on a true story of a New York socialite who championed a group of concentration camp survivors known as the Rabbits, this acclaimed debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.
Caroline Ferriday is a former Broadway actress and liaison to the French consulate whose life is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, sinks deeper into her role as a courier for the underground resistance movement. In Germany, Herta Oberheuser, a young doctor, answers an ad for a government medical position—only to find herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents, as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

If you have read Lilac Girls, tell me, did you like it? Did you dig into the story further?
I wanted to know what happened to Herta Oberheuser, the female German doctor. 

The survival of the girls, the sisterhood the prisoners create was amazing love, on how the prisoners where determined to save the Rabbits.

That is all I better share...let me know if you read it.


Monday, May 22, 2017

May Happenings and Joy List Monday

Hello Friends

I only have two classes left and my oral presentation left to complete my Master Gardener class.
 Graduation is May, 30th.

For our final exam we had to pull a plant/tree/shrub out of a hat and do a report on that plant.

My hand pulled Black Chokeberry out of the hat.

I had not a clue what a Black Chokeberry was. 
After my research I think I just may have to plant one in our yard. 
My son Sam, who edited my final paper, thought the same after reading my three page fact sheet. Sam is not a gardener, so I hope I did something right in writing  my paper, if I convinced a non-gardener to plant a Black Chokeberry.

I am working on my oral presentation. It can not be longer than 5 minuets.
The idea is that I am asked about a plant/tree/shrub, like a hotline, I am to be able to answer your questions.

Joy List Monday
a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties 
and graces that make life magical and to set aside time
for gratitude each day

 ♥ bluebirds ... we have a pair we see on our walk
♥ birthday boy ... our son Atticus turned 15 this past week
 ♥ friends ... calls and texts making sure we were alright after the May, 16th storm
 ♥ a trip to the greenhouse ... I just love the smell of a greenhouse
 ♥ apple blossoms and lilacs ... making a lovely perfume outside

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 16, 2017

Hello Friends,

"When it rains it pours?"
"Up a creek with out a paddle?"

That seems to be how I am feeling as of late.
If you are a regular here at The River, in
April, my dad had a heart-attack. A wee bit of added stress.
May 16th, added just a wee bit more.

May 16th, I was packed up to head to my Master Gardner class. 
 It takes me about 45 minutes to drive to class.
 All day we had a chance of storms.
Just as I was about to leave, the tornado sirens went off. 
My husband and I looked at the radar, the storm was heading for Cameron. My class is north, so I thought I could beat the storm as I drove to class.
I kissed my husband, grabbed my bags and got in the car. I turned on the engine, as I did a golf sized hail hit the car windshield. I screamed!
I turned, there was my husband with a jacket to protect me, got me back in the house and said, "You are not going to class." At this point the storm built in strength.

We had golf sized hail, wind and heavy rain.
We have hail damage to a house window, the roof and our vehicle, we were lucky.

At this time, one person was killed and 25 injured.

If you google or you tube Barron County Wisconsin Storm, many videos come up to view. One that I did watch was filmed by a drone. The destruction, the force of nature is unbelievable. 
I posted a news story at the bottom of my post.

The actual tornado touched down about 2 miles from hour home. 
The area that was hit, happens to be my meals on wheels route. I delivered meals to two elderly gentlemen in the trailer park that was destroyed.

 The power came back on.
Our son Sam came home from work about 9:30pm. He shared stories of his own. 
We began to settle down for the night. Sirens started again. Firetrucks rolled down our street.
At 10:15 pm the Faith Lutheran Church, located three houses down from us, was on fire.

The following report ... 
Our bell tower was struck by lightning (?) last evening around 10:15 pm. Firemen worked for about 3 hours to contain the fire. They did an outstanding job! We are very thankful the damage was limited to the bell tower area. We are still touching base with our members this morning as we know that we have one family with a home loss.

 The following photos my husband took as we watched from the end of our sidewalk.

This morning we squeezed each other a little tighter.
Thankful to be safe and praying for those who lost everything.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Love Matters

 A friend of mine shared this story.
I loved the the following paragraph....

 When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his
friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

I will be honest, yes, at times during this adventure of motherhood, I have felt invisible.
I have wanted to be selfish at times. 
Then something tugs at me, reminding me, we only have them for so long, then they grow up.
And yes, I do want them to come home for holiday. 
And yes, I want my boys to say to friends, "You're gonna love it there."

 Remember the baby years? 
Remember potty training?
Remember sleepless nights?
Remember having to say "NO" ...you would get those eyes and the smile, you had to stick to your guns. 

Teen Years
Choosing what battles to fight.
Teaching them to drive.
The first job, in the big world.
Letting them go .... watching them grow up.

Motherhood is no easy job. 
I will be honest, I am blessed to be one.
With all the ups and downs motherhood can bring.
Having my boys hug me in public.
Having my boys come and ask me for advice.
Having my boys say "I love you, Mom."
It is all worth it.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you.
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Invisible Mother…
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!?
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was
feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription:
‘To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are
building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building
was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And
the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to
sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his
friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women. 

Nicole Johnson’s The Invisible Woman

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Birthday Story

A Birthday Story

This week at my Master Garden class, during our break, we began to discuss our birthdays.

Cindy, "My birthday is 10/10."
I was sitting right next to Cindy, I poked her and laughed, "I am 12/12!"
Karen across the way from me said, "I am 11/11!"

"You are kidding?" 

Nikki who was listening to our conversation as she walked into the room, said, "I am 9/9."

Now that is a Happy Birthday story!

Have a great weekend!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Joy List Monday

Happy May Day

May brings us armfuls of delight, Bird - song, warm sun and gardens bright.
Tasha Tudor 

♥ Joy List Monday ♥
a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life
magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

 ♥ daffodils
♥ listening to baseball
 ♥ a surprise package in the mail
 ♥ extra hugs from my boys
 ♥ rhubarb

.... do you have a favorite rhubarb recipe to share?



Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Bad Hair Cut

A little story about my hair, my dad and ice cream.

I have naturally curly hair.
You have to be careful how you cut naturally curly hair. 

I was in 8th grade.
My dad drove me to my hair appointment.
8th grade was a hard time for me. I was going through all the changes that come your way as a girl. I had surgery on both of my feet. I had naturally curly hair and I wanted straight hair.

My dad took me to my hair appointment.
He stayed in the truck, I went in. 
Bev was the cosmetologist that was ready to cut my hair. I do not think we had one person do our hair, my mom would just take the appointment with whoever was available.

Bev gave me a nice hair cut, until she got to my bangs. She cut my bangs, not realizing she needed to leave some hair for the natural curl. 

I paid for the appointment.
I quickly went to the truck. 
The tears started to flow. Down they came as I desperately pulled on my bangs, trying to make them grow back, or pull hair from my head.

My dad really had no idea what to do.
He said, "You do not like your hair cut?"
"No." I cried.

"Let's go for Ice Cream." my dad said.

He drove to the A&W. He went in and let me stay in the truck. As I pondered how to glue hair back on to my hair. He came back with two Twist Cones. He smiled! I smiled!  

It was a special time for me. Just me and my dad. In his own tender way, he told me he understood about the hair cut.

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