Friday, November 27, 2009

Skywatch Friday

At last we're getting some rain today to quench the thirsty ground. It's a gray day, but we enjoy it because it's a change of pace.
It means that it's snowing higher up in the mountains. That snowpack is what fills our streams, rivers and reservoirs to give us water for the rest of the year.
Maybe we'll even have an above-average yearly rainfall (and snowpack) this year...That would be the first time in about three years!

I'm thankful for a gray, rainy day.

See prettier skies around the world at Skywatch Friday!

Thanksgiving dinner replay

Though we usually have our Thanksgiving feast with family members, this year we shared it with friends due to the fact that we'll be seeing our sons and their families next week. There were five of us and each family contributed to the banquet at Dirk and Jeanne's home yesterday.
Jeanne made these elegant hors d'ouevres which included Belgian endive, marinated orange segments, goat cheese and candied walnuts---very tasty.

The table is almost ready--the platters of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry-horseradish relish, molded cranberry ribbon salad, grapes, crackers, hors d'ouevres...

Dirk and Gaelon deep in conversation. The large glass baking dish holds Gaylon's sweet potato-pecan casserole (fantastic!).

Gaelon and Jeanne pause for the photo op. The basket in the lower corner holds my whole wheat rolls.

I took this photo at a tilted angle so as to capture most of Jerry and the table.

After dinner we talked for a long time and recited poems we'd memorized in our youth. It's amazing how much poetry we had stored in our brains from many decades ago. Eventually we had room for pie and/or pumpkin pie with (light) whipped cream on top. There were lots of leftovers, as you can see from this shot, so we divided them up and all took some home. That's one of the bonuses of Thanksgiving dinner--we have leftovers for days afterward!

Dirk, Gaylon and Jerry relaxing after dinner as Jeanne and I cleaned up. Conversation ensued for hours as we regaled one another with our stories, experiences and opinions....It was a very pleasant Thanksgiving Day. Hope yours was, too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

by Nichole Nordeman
Send some rain, would You send some rain
’Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high, and we are sinking in the shade.

Would You send a cloud; thunder long and loud…
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down.
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid.

But maybe not. Not today.
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways,
And if that’s the case,
We’ll give thanks to you, with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You.
How to bless the very sun that warms our face,
If You never send us rain.
Daily bread…give us daily bread;
Bless our bodies; keep our children fed.
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight.
Wrap us up and warm us through,
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs,
Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time.

Or maybe not. Not today.
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways,
And if that’s the case,
We’ll give thanks to You, with gratitude,
A lesson learned to hunger after You,
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread.

Oh the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need!

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace;
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight.

Or maybe not. Not today.
Peace might be another world away
And if that’s the case,
We’ll give thanks to You, with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in you,
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need,

And if You never grant us peace—but Jesus, would You please!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Photos 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 are from Google Images. Photos 4 and 6 are of my sons in May 1985 (Nathan, Ben, Tim, 4th photo) and July 1981 (Nathan, 6th photo).

You can hear Nichole Nordeman sing this song here:

Warren Baldwin has a good description of the first Thanksgiving day in America.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nascar practice--Grandpa and grandson

Happy Birthday Jerry!

I wish you a most happy and fun 61st birthday. I love you so much…your humor which always makes me laugh, your intelligence which guides our decisions to successful outcomes, your love, hugs and kisses which make me feel treasured and cherished and your love for God which grounds us in peace and strength.
You won the prize in 1959.

I won the prize in 1976. (I know, this one was taken in 2009!)
Love, Pat

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Johntown Creek and Oak Lane Reservoir videos

This past Saturday I took a stroll down our road, Oak Lane, which is atop the levee (dam) which creates the Oak Lane Reservoir. I wanted to to give you a multi-part video commentary about our lovely lake and the creek which feeds it and drains it, Johntown Creek. I did it in several small clips because it was easier to upload several short clips.

Hope you got a laugh out of the mini tour of my world.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Cloud

The Cloud
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Happy Skywatch Friday, everyone!

See more lovely skies from all around the world at Skywatch Friday! Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise for maintaining it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So-so sewing

When I was 9 years old back in the day (summer of 1957), my mother taught me and my two sisters how to sew using her 1945 Singer sewing machine. She started us right off with sewing a dress...all of the same fabric, same style. Even my little sister, Mary Alice, age 5, made herself a dress. It was a simple Simplicity pattern. Those were the days when you could buy a pattern for 59 cents and cotton fabric was around 99 cents a yard. When I think about teaching three little girls each to sew herself a dress, I am amazed at my Mom's patience and wisdom in letting us do it ourselves. Of course, they weren't perfectly done, but we were each extremely pleased with ourselves for making a dress.

As the years went by, I became more interested in sewing my own clothes. At first I would ask my mother at each step, "What do I do next" and she would read the directions to me. Finally when I was about 12 or 13, I realized...duh..I could read the directions myself. I learned by experience not to skip things like basting or ironing open seams and to keep checking to see that the sleeve I was attaching to the bodice was not wrinkling up and being sewn on wrong.

By junior high, I was babysitting nearly every Friday or Saturday to earn money. I saved it and used it to buy patterns and material to make my own dresses (and also to buy Christmas presents for my parents, brother, sisters and grandma). That was when girls had to wear dresses or skirts and blouses to trousers/jeans allowed. In a family of 6 (4 kids plus Mom and Dad), my parents didn't have the extra money to buy us much in the way of clothes, so I was happy to babysit neighborhood kids on weekends to be able to expand my wardrobe. I sewed my own clothes (i.e., dresses) throughout junior high and high school.

I continued sewing for myself during college and on after that. After having three boys, I had it in mind some day to make them matching shirts as my mother had done with us kids--shirt and dresses of matching fabric. Finally in 1988 I did...
August 8, 1988...VanderBeeks at Jerry's uncle's house for a barbecue. I had actually made a matching shirt for myself, too, but I didn't wear it that day. When the five of us wore our shirts all at the same time we looked like a bowling team. The boys humored me by dressing alike a few times, but then they outgrew the shirts and that was the end of my sewing matching shirts for them. Jerry and I still have our Hawaiian shirts and we still wear them occasionally.

I don't sew much any more as it's cheaper to buy clothes than to sew them myself. Plus I don't wear dresses all that often. I've made a few more Hawaiian shirts for Jerry and a few wall hangings. But I'll always be thankful to my mother for teaching me how to sew...I know my way around a sewing machine!

Sally at The (Mis)Adventures of Karl and Sally has begun a meme for sharing your old family photos and stories. Go back in time and take a walk down memory lane by clicking here for Remember Whensday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Cori!

Happy 30th, Cori!
Hope you get lots of hugs and kisses from Drew and Nathan, as well as cards, cake and calls!

You're a wonderful mama to Drew, wife to Nathan and daughter-in-law to us!

Pat and Jerry

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Windows on the ocean

Every summer my husband and I and sometimes friends, too, head up north to the Oregon coast to escape the 100+ degree temperatures of California. Our favorite place to stay is Newport, Oregon, in a condo overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
It's usually cool and foggy in the mornings, and then the fog lifts in the afternoon, giving us lovely views of the ocean through the octagonal window...
and the rectangular dining room window.

It's a great escape from the heat!

See all kinds of window views and doors too at Window views...and doors, too!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Once again I go back to sky reflections in our lake, an-everchanging source of reflections.

The willow branches are wearing the last of their greenery for the year until next spring. The blackberry vines will keep their old leaves but go dormant till spring. We haven't had a freeze yet, but I know it's coming soon.

See more lovely skies from all around the world at Skywatch Friday! Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise for maintaining it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mama duck and her baby ducks

August 7, 1983... Pat - 35, Timmy - 10 months, Ben - 2 years 9 months, Nathan - 4 years 9 months

Sally at The (Mis)Adventures of Karl and Sally has begun a meme where you can share your old family photos and stories. Go back in time and take a walk down memory lane by clicking here for Remember Whensday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stove job

Have you ever done a "stove job?" In this case stove job has both a literal meaning and a metaphorical one. I just did one today, and I pulled out all the tools of the (housewife) trade: grease-cutting spray cleaner, Dawn dish detergent, glass top paste cleaner, razor blades, rags, scrubbing pads and toothbrushes.

I took off the knobs to scrub out the grease, scraped burnt stuff off the glass stove top, applied lots of elbow grease to eliminating built-up grease from cooking. I was in full military assault mode on that grease.

It looks nice and shiny now, right?

I love my Maytag self-cleaning oven, but I must confess that I'm not good about biweekly or monthly deep cleaning it. A stove job is analogous to having a car "detailed." I put it off for long periods...until, that is, I know there's something I really must do and I'm not enthused about doing it because it's hard or tedious. So the stove job becomes the delay tactic.

Here's where it becomes a metaphor for pouring your energy into an activity because you are avoiding a different activity that you know you should do, and this mindless cleaning makes you feel good about yourself even though you know you are procrastinating in the doing of the other thing.

What is that thing on the floor?, you ask.
Well, let me tell you. We could not find a long enough door stopper (the thing that keeps your doorknob from hitting the wall or, in this case, the tile). But we did find a nice big thick Calculus book that my husband had received as a sample copy from a former math professor of ours that was just the right size to prevent the brass doorknob from hitting the tile. So I wrapped it in flowery gift wrap and covered that with Contac paper, and voila! It's a doorstop!

Well, I'm off to walk for 90 minutes now. What I was procrastinating about was doing my weight training, but I finally did that. Have a great Tuesday!

Join the fun and see places all around the world at My World Tuesday.

Brussels tree

When I was a kid, the vegetable I disliked the most was Brussels sprouts. It was probably because my mom only bought BirdsEye frozen vegetables in the little boxes and I think she overcooked them. I thought they were the most horrible tasting thing ever, next to canned spinach that was occasionally served in the school cafeteria. My brother made such a stink about eating them that my mom would give him only one sprout and he would cut it up into tiny pieces and then smother the pieces with ketchup. Over the years, anyone I ever talked to about Brussels sprouts had the same opinion of them--that they have a most unpleasant taste, to put it mildly.

Then I met Jerry, now my husband, and to my shock and amazement, I discovered that Brussels sprouts were his favorite vegetable. He requested them often, and when we shopped together for the first time, I realized that he picked out fresh Brussels sprouts, not the frozen ones. The first time I ever ate fresh cooked ones, I realized what I had been missing in my gustatory experience with B-sprouts--freshness! Cooked fresh ones taste absolutely delicious with a little butter or mayonnaise on them. I learned that Jerry puts mayonnaise on lots of different vegetables. And now, I too have become a Brussels sprouts-and-mayo kind of person.

Our local grocery store sometimes sells these Brussels Trees. I had never seen how B-sprouts grow, so this tree thing was a learning experience for me. The great (nutritionally and gustatorily--sp?) thing about buying the tree is...
...the sprouts stay fresh for a long time (in a plastic bag in the refrigerator) and you simply cut off the number you want to cook.
In order to cook them evenly so that they're not soft on the outside and still hard on the inside, I cut them in half and place them cut-side down in a microwaveable dish with a half cup of water, cover the dish with a dinner plate and nuke them on high for 10 minutes.

Try it--you'll like it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Ben!

May 8, 1981...Ben at age 6 happy bouncing baby boy...with a laugh that came easily and often! You kept us laughing through the years.

November 5, 1987, Ben age seven (minus one day)...You had a big smile for your school picture just three weeks after your appendectomy. The surgeon pulled your two loose top front teeth before the surgery.

...and now a happy husband to Johanna and father to Noah, still making us laugh.

Happy 29th birthday, Ben!

With love from Mom and Dad

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Noreen!

Today’s a day to celebrate
Noreen’s most special day;
November the third is the date
And all her friends will say:

A happy birthday, dear Noreen-
You teach with tender care;
Your generosity is seen
In how you give and share.

A loving wife and mom you are,
And faithful friend indeed;
You cook, you teach, you raise the bar
As by your life you lead.

With Ted you travel far and near;
In Addis Abbaba
You were a Peace Corps Volunteer
—That’s Ethiopia!

With travels to exotic climes
Like China and Viet Nam
You hike and eat, enjoy good times,
And all without a qualm.

Have fun this day with songs and cards
Of love from family
And also from the pseudo-bards
Who try hard such as me!

It has been a pleasure knowing you, Noreen, for the past 29 years. It's been fun watching our children grow up. Have a wonderful birthday.

With warmest wishes from Pat