Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

No Ants, No Pants May 15, 2016

I tried on a pair of jeans that cost $187.  They were free to try on.  The adorable redhead who rocked those jeans chattered on to me about their qualities and benefits the whole time I struggled to pour my fifty-one year old body into them.  I ask you:  “Should one have to pour, pull, push, jump, suck, hold breath in, yank, and sweat to get into a pair of the correct size jeans that cost one hundred and eighty seven dollars?”  The fabric felt weighted and silky, drapey and stretchy.  Supposedly, they would not leave baggy spots where you bend (if you could bend), after hours of wear.  That’s the benefit of such a perfect denim made sustainably, produced scientifically, ensuring rich quality.  When I looked in the mirror, I thought the jeans looked painted on.  Can a woman over fifty wear painted on style jeans without embarrassing her daughters or herself?  If the painted style pour-yourself-in jeans had been marked down from $187.00 to $18.70 would it be a good idea to wear those in public?  I asked myself this in the dressing room.  My answer and the knowledgable twenty-something answer were completely opposite.  She said the jeans looked fantastic on me.   Ha…of course she would say that.  Shes PAID to say that.  I did not agree.

Two weeks later I took my pants off.  Not the expensive jeans – I did actually get those off in the store and left them there, I mean I took off my long-legged pants that do fit.  The temperature outside was 70’s warm after long months of 20’s cold.  Suddenly everyone had on completely different clothing.  Including me.  I exchanged the pants for capris – or ‘caprants’ as re-named by my friend Heidi, whose daughter thinks capris are silly.  Well Miss Mackenna, they are NOT silly, they are necessary for the greater good of humanity when one has leg skin that needs constant ironing.  It it much more appropriate to wear ‘caprants’ than short skirts at this stage of life in order to maintain personal modesty and public decorum.  You’re welcome.

Two days later, I put pants back on.

My new state of Michigan has a lot of surprises up its sleeve.  I’m not certain I will become fond of the morning surprise of sunshine.  I would prefer that to be reliable, a regular occurence not a rarity.  This is the first spring I’ve been a resident and I am gathering you go outside and do outside things when the sun is outside for tomorrow it may not be.  Today I tried three times to go outside when I saw the sun.  We started a neighborhood walk to peruse the garage sales, but it ended at block two with sudden rain and dare I say hail; possibly MI spring snow nuggets?  I’ll ask around to confirm.  By the third time I went out in a car, the garage sale hosts had given up and gone inside.  I did score a crooked floor lamp for $15.  Looks great in the spare room standing mostly straight in the corner.  Beside garage sale shopping, I wanted to get in the dirt.  My goal all week was to go outside and reduce the amount of mint that is growing and tame the fern in my gardens.    One week I had no fern.  Next week, fern farm.  I have no previous experience with mint or fern.  What I can confidently say after one partial spring, is they are both fast and hearty growers.  Clearly, they don’t need the sun like us humans do.   I’m not sure I will meet the plant reduction goal today.   Unless…I go out in the clouds with long pants, coat and mittens.

Ants.  Michigan, I need to ask you, do ants thrive here too?  I keep a relatively clean house.  Not “dutch clean” like my mom, but pretty clean.  One time in Florida we had a rat.  In My Kitchen Cupboards.  I discovered the rat before I discovered its feces in every single solitary drawer in my large kitchen.  I came undone, unravelled, repulsed, devastated that such filth touched the things I cook with.  And I kept a clean kitchen.  We also lived on the water and the rats apparently lived in the roof of the building with occasional drop downs into human dwellings. I threw our cat in the cupboard where the rat was and shut the door.  Crickets.  Fifteen minutes later (that’s long enough to take care of a rat right?), she sauntered out as if she was done using the bathroom.  She did not choose to pursue the rat.  Worthless cat…  The rat clean up project required the man of the townhouse; and later, flowers in all the drawers for therapeutic reasons. No more rat ever.  But now I have MI ants.  I’ve tried several removal tactics including letting them go outside.   When I opened my sugar bowl to scoop the raw sugar into my first cup of morning coffee and there is an ant flailing around I put my foot down, picked up the phone and called my mom.   She poo-pooed all previous ant removal systems and said get Tero.  24 hours after Tero tactic, no ants.  I hope ants are like the rat and not one of Michigan’s ongoing surprises.

Wooden shoe dancers, tulip lined streets in Holland, Fricano’s pizza, the Cone Shops soft lemon twist cones; the pure sound of Calvin Alumni Choir,  Stella’s burgers and chronic fries, Grand Rapids Opera, Marie Catribs, Fulton Heights neighborhood, the people of Art Of The Table,  solid-friendly, healthy-growing Encounter Church, Women and Wine, Grand Rapids Main Library, the acoustics of Cathedral of St. Andrews, generous beauty of all that is colorful and blooming are some of the Michigan surprises working to convince me to stay, belong, engage.  The increasing list of good surprises far surpasses the unpleasant.  The sense of settling down is happening.  I may weigh more than I want, battle fatigue more than I like, and am more conversant in grief than I’d prefer.  Those things accompanied me here.   But this new state is kindly meeting me with a sweet place to heal and renew.  Ants, clouds and tight pants, you might live here, but despite you I believe some really great new is happening.

Better than being surprised, I am so very thankful.

 

Day 30: Food Love Stories November 7, 2013

Three Food Love Stories

Key Lime Love

When I turned 40 (yesterday…not really, a few yesteryears ago) my hubby threw me a surprise party.  He planned it via email in one week and no one blew it.  A handmade card from the girls gifted me with “go out with dad and we will stay home alone and pay for your dinner.”  My sweet near 12 year olds offered the gift of bravery and we took them up on it.  JR paid for dinner.  There were 2 calls during dinner which JR took,  passing on the updates from the brave ones.  Of course, they were in on the whole thing.

We pulled in the garage, I opened the door into the kitchen and in 2.5 seconds all of this happened:

  • I noticed the room was pitch black
  • The dog didn’t come to the door
  • The girls would NEVER have all the lights off
  • There was the silhouette of a very tall man dressed in all dark clothing
  • I panicked
  • The lights went on
  • 40 people I love shouted surprise
  • I fell in the doorway.

Horrific fear and delightful surprise slammed into each other.  The next 10 seconds all of this happened:

  • I saw my BFF  sitting on my kitchen stool
  • I went to her and started crying
  • I sobbed, “I LOVE SURPRISES”
  • She laughed and said, “I know you do”
  • I turned and saw all the people and couldn’t say anything
  • Then I saw the table full of everything Key Lime you can think of
  • I indignantly said to my hubby – who pulled off this wonderful surprise,  “Why did you let me order key lime pie at the restaurant?”

He said he didn’t want to blow the surprise over dessert!  It is the best gift he’s ever given me.

Hand Me Downs

When reorganizing my file drawer after moving into our little apartment here, I came across this envelope from my Grandma Rozie (Mother Mary’s mom).  Here’s what was inside:

  • One 4×6 card with a recipe for Never Fail Tomato Soup.  It has a swirly line under the title and this comment:  From Pella’s Choicest Cooking Recipes, green book.
  • “Leanne’s recipe – Delicious” on a Ciba Seeds note page with a recipe for something that has strawberries, yogurt, marshmallows in it and she took it for a potluck in R.Rapids Health Centre
  • 6 newspaper cut outs with recipes for Three Bean Salad, Rhubarb Blueberry Jam, Crock pot Barbecued Roast Beef, Sumi Salad, Creamy Rice Pudding, and Good Moist Coffee Cake
  • A Mutual Telephone Company  ‘tear off and remit with payment’ portion of the bill with a recipe for Penuche frosting on the back.
  • And a newspaper poem.  I’ll just share these few lines:

“All angels don’t have silver wings, Or long gossamer robes of white, Nor do they have haloes,  Of gold that glow both day and night.                                                                       There are those in polyester,  Who hasten to a sick friends’ bed, With love, a bowl of chick soup, And loaf of homemade bread.” 

Foodie language handed down through generations found in an envelope.  That explains a few things I love.

Crunchy Chili and Hard Tack

Michigan in the fall is spectacular.  They have colors there I’ve never seen anywhere else.  Michigan has two of the best things in my life.  1Pyc565026517m

I was just there in soup season, in my sweet spot.  Friday pizza birthday party night was a kitchen that slowly filled up with college students.  They came to celebrate,  meet and be met, and take part in dinner preparation.  I stood in the center of  kneading bread, chopping veggies, grating cheese and thinking, ‘life doesn’t get much better than this for me.’  I laughed when the girls pulled their dough covered hands out of the bowls asking why ‘hers looks different from mine’ and I remembered the missing 1/2 cup of water.  I thankfully handed the many blocks of mozzarella to ‘i want to do something’ helpers.  A meaningful conversation happened by the sink as one shared a piece of her life and learnings so kindly with me.   When it was time for assembly the volume increased around what would go on first, last, on half  or the whole thing.  Evenutally we ate the pizza creations, opened birthday gifts, shared life stories.

A day later, JR and I arrived at the house loaded with groceries once again and started some beans to soak overnight and prepare ingredients for chili the next day.  Prior to church Sunday, we threw ingredients in 2 crockpots and turned them on high.  What smelled good when we returned for lunch turned out to be chili with hard beans.  I took out a pot and poured one crockpot full into it and boiled away.  Even after 2 hours in the crock pot and an hour on the stove the beans were not very done.  Turns out that crunchy chili went well with the missing baking powder cornbread (aka: hard tack).  Yet, this less than perfect food didn’t take away anything from the joy of sitting around the table with my family and their community of delightful friends.   

Getting the food, making the food, eating the food…this is the love language I speak.

DSC_0782  

 

Julia August 1, 2013

Filed under: Authenticity,Grief,Humor,Laughter,Loss,mental health,Sisters,Suffering — lauradegroot @ 4:12 am

“Happy Birthday to you…Happy Birthday dear Juuuulia.  #40 is a Big One.  Mom thinks you would have chosen Brats or Mexican food for your birthday supper.  I think I would have given you a great new purse.  Jeffy and Sara are visiting with the little ones – we know you would have been so glad they were theer on your special day.  I wonder if Jim would have sent you black roses like he did on my 40th birthday?  I don’t know what type of cake you liked best.   Just thinking about picking out a card for you makes me giggle…                     Love Laura”

(excerpt from a birthday letter, July 30, 2013)

I think its important to celebrate the day people were born.  No life is random.  I’d like to celebrate my sister Julia’s 40th birthday by sharing a little of her best with others.

She could laugh till she snorted.  Which made other people laugh too.  She was one who knew great sadness but also able to laugh with gusto.  It was contagious when she was with my girls.  I am not certain what she did, but she consistently produced snot, toot, and tear producing laughter when Lauren and Lyndsay were in her presence.

Following a women’s retreat she attended, she called me to share what I must do every day to improve loving myself, just the way I was made.  Her instructions were, “Stand in front of the mirror naked, look at yourself, raise your hands in the air and announce loudly, ‘I AM A MASTERPIECE’!”

I tried it.  I still do on occasion. I’m not sure my self-image improves, but it always makes me laugh.  Go ahead and give it a shot – you’ll know just what I mean!

Julia suffered so much for so long.  Yet in some of her toughest  days spent in offices, clinics, units, hospitals,  she engaged with the suffering.  She went where the sad and lonely, bruised and confused were because those parts of herself were not hidden behind masks.  And though she was frightened by parts of life, she was courageous in this place – a place where I, maybe you avoid because we are frightened by it.   She shared  kind words.  She shared the Good News.  She shared herself not out of pity for others, but from a simple authenticity of one who isn’t afraid of others who hurt.  The world needs more authentic people and less wearing masks.

Maybe the best of her best is a legacy she leaves.  It is being gleaned and repeated by our wise mother who loved Julia

the  longest

the best

the most.

Julia did the best she could.

Honestly, how can I, how can anyone do any more or better than that?

Then why do we all try so hard to?

“Julia, I’m sorry for my part in trying to ‘help’ you or push  you to be someone you were not; to do something more or less than what you could do.  It was selfish; I wanted you to get better.  I believe now,  you did do your best.  You were the very best Julia you could be.  I so admire that about you, though wish I had realized it sooner.   I will try to head in that direction too.  It may take a few more trips to the mirror naked,  and taking off a mask or two, but I hope I can do it as well as you did.  Way To Go SISTER!

Happy Birthday Jules.

Love Laura”

Julia left earth, circled by family song, story, prayer, and love and moved into her Mansion –  a perfect place prepared just for her on October 15, 2011.

 

 
followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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