Monday, February 20, 2017

February Gardening

We spoke of gardens today at lunch.

And February gardening in the North Country means CATALOGS!! 

So I came home ready to dig into the 28-30 seed and plants catalogs that had begun to arrive earlier in the month.

My winter borders are really lovely, covered with snow and sometimes ice. Creating sculptures and skeletons and tremendous shadows in the sunlight.  The little crabapples have clung to their branches and the juniper bushes get clipped regularly for indoor winter arrangements.  Knowledge from the past assures me that the 20 varieties of hostas, and the showy peonies, are just waiting for the disappearance of snow and the softening of the soil.

But the vegetable garden sits empty. Waiting for the fresh compost that's been cooking all winter, and the edge of the rototiller, on holiday in the barn.

There are new varieties of heirloom tomatoes that I'm going to try, And the organic beans and peppers and cucumbers I ordered each year are available.  How many different varieties of eggplant will my family tolerate, and how many raised beds can I dedicate to the Viking Reds, Yukon Golds and Swedish Peanut Fingerlings? Where am I'm going to plant the Kale and do I really want to grow carrots again?

In the middle of February I'm encouraged that I'm receiving more catalogs with options to order heirloom varieties and certified organic seeds. A change from just the biggest of everything is the best.

So "visions of sugarplums" don't dance in my head,  but packages of seeds, and bulbs, the smell of freshly tilled soil, the sprouting rows of garlic and onions, that were planted last fall,  and trowels and spades, float through my daydreams this midwinter day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I'm cleaning out closets and drawers.

Jump start on spring cleaning, I guess.  And I came across two letters from my Grandmother dated 1963.

The first was dated June 13, 1963; Dear Ruth, Ev and the girls.

The second dated July 10, 1963; My dear family!

She and her sister, Doris had set sail from NYC across the Atlantic to their homeland of Norway.

I remember "seeing them off" with my parents, visiting their berth, saying goodbye, wishing them bon voyage, and waving frantically from the pier,  not being able to identify those two among all the people lined up by the ship rail as it slowly slipped from view.\

The first was a newsy note about arriving in Norway, "Well, here I am, once again back in Norway- everything seems so strange for me-So different from home, but it seems good to see it again"  She briefly tells about calm seas, no one sick, and not missing a meal, with the current thought about "gaining 5 pounds"!!  She tells about the big celebrations with their families in different parts of the country and hiking up mountains still covered with snow and ice and descending to valleys all "green and covered with flowers- some contrast", and visiting a village all bombed out during the war but rebuilt.  And then she ended with hopes that everyone was well and assumptions that my sisters and I were looking forward to summer vacation.

My mother must have written her back because the second letter was the appreciation of receiving a letter from the States and knowing some of what was going on with all of us back home.  There was more information about her visits with their brothers, parties, concerns that my mom must have had about small pox shots (which they received aboard ship), and the tired feeling one gets with this "life of traveling" but not to worry, they were getting "used to it"!

The letters were not long but she managed to give a newsy, interesting report of her trip back "home".  And an awareness of her family in the States, and their activities.  She made me remember that my Dad was still going to college for advanced degrees in 1963,  I was a freshman in high school, he was doing graduated work at Brown.  I admire his focus and dedication.  And he was interested in purchasing a baby grand...he did "gigs" in high school and after his WWII service, to supplement his income.   My grandmother was interested in "helping"with the purchase of the piano.  One that is still in the family, occasionally played at the Inn.

Communicating through long hand on stationary seems to be a lost art these days.  Phone calls, tweets, and text messages are great....but they're gone and they're short.  Please Nordberg children don't stop calling!  I love hearing your voice and catching up on your lives now that we live so far from each other.

But the sweetness of seeing my grandmothers handwriting, the yellowed stationary, and the memories  which were, at the time,  just rehearsals of everyday life, were revisited  fifty four years later in a small rural upstate community, far from Norway or Mount Kisco, New York.

I'm sticking them back in the dresser drawer for my grand daughter to find twenty years from now.

But first I have to tell her the "stories of her great great grandmother from Norway" and then write letters of my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


How do  you pack for a funeral and a celebration?

I'm filled with tears, knowing that a man who has been so inspirational in our lives, is moving on.
On to his real home but leaving us!

He's 90.  And he's ready.  But we're not.

I'm not.

I haven't learned everything yet.
Just one more visit, one more memory, one more Bible study, one more time around their table.

But time is a funny thing and life is fragile and we can't keep it forever.

He's the most content man I know.  And his wife loves him beyond measure.

They are 90.  And he is homeward bound.

They have showed me, in their everyday lives, what extra ordinary means.

What living in grace and acceptance, and family and community means.
What living with honor, and giving, and sharing looks like.

In ordinary life.

University life, military life, working NYC life, church life,  retirement life.

I hope I get to tell you one more time that I love you.
And you are so important to my life, my family's life.
 And that you have lived up to the gospel you taught and loved.
 And you taught many through your whole life,
not with words so much,
but with your life.
Bravery, honor, courage of convictions, love, and acceptance
And peace
and our Savior
and thanksgiving for the life that was given him
and the people that surrounded him
and the Savior that gave himself for him
and the hope that enabled him
and the direction he focused on

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Corinthians 4:1,2

"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."  I Corinthians 4:1,2

Faithful....not perfect or absolutely correct.

But faithful.

We can all do that.

Be faithful, be committed, show up, be present.

I was visiting with some friends last week who have exemplified faithfulness to me over the 52 years that I have known them.

They are 90.  Well into their 80's they were teaching Sunday School to young children; having women and men's Bible Studies, taking people into their home who needed a temporary home, writing notes, calling friends, encouraging others, loving people.  When they moved into their home in South Carolina, she had a sign painted that sits over their kitchen door.  Bethany.  A place for respite for others.

 And they continue to love the Lord and His church, the Word and His people.

If you call or visit them, they will tell you that "The Lord has been so good to us.  He has blessed us so much.  We can't believe all the things He has done for us, given us, blessed us with."

And yet they are having to make decisions that people that age have to make.  And it is hard.

But when I leave......she gives me gifts, as usual, and a note that says:

"What a gift your coming to bless us has been!  Thank you - a taste of heaven.  I have a long way to go to take all this senior stuff  IN STRIDE!  But I have the Son of the King, no less, to help me!"

They both, have taught Rob and I, about living for Jesus, everyday in our ordinary life.

Being faithful and continuing on.......forever.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I have a friend.

Her daughter, Emma,  just had her 17th birthday the beginning of August.


Emma has never sat by herself, stood, walked, talked, dressed herself, fed herself.

She has never crawled into bed with her mom and dad, but they have crawled into bed with her.

She has never begged for a birthday party with her friends, but every year they have a big birthday celebration with family and friends and a table loaded with good food and birthday cake.

She has never irritated her mom by pestering her to go to the movies with her friends.   But Emma has been to lots of movies that all kids her age like to see.

Emma goes to the beach, and wears a bathing suit.

She goes to church, the mall, the flea market, the doctors office, the hospital.  She goes on vacation.

She wears all the latest fashions!  And has the greatest hair ever!

And talk about a teenagers room....Emma has a room that any teenager would long for.

She's run a 5K, right in front of her dad as he proudly pushes her jogging wheelchair.

She has bookshelves full of books.  And likes Harry Potter.

She's never told her mom and dad how much she loves them, but they have told her continuously how much they love her.

And although unspoken, she lets them know when she is content, when she is hurting, hungry, uncomfortable, happy, sad.  Or when she thinks something is funny, or when she is mad!  And Emma lets them know that she loves them, and her grandparents, and cousins, and brother, and aunts and uncles.

I've known Emma since she was born.  Her birth caused me to know her parents and to be a part of their lives regularly for several years while they lived in upstate New York.

I've been a Christian for 50 years.

This family teach me Jesus.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thank You Notes

My mother taught me a lot of things.  How to be organized, how to clean, how to prepare nutritious meals, how to entertain, how to love children.

But one of the most valuable things she shared, and modeled, was an appreciation of the time, gifts, and fellowship that people gave to her.

She taught my sisters and I to write a note of thanks for Christmas and birthday gifts.

I was "downsizing" my correspondence basket on my desk the other day when I came across this little letter we received.

We had given a Passover Supper a couple of years ago and invited some families with children.  aAt one point during the meal several children are to ask questions about what the meal is all about.  And currently we did not have any "young children or grandchildren" in our home.

 One family could not all attend but their "older" boys were interested in coming with the neighbors who were attending.  They sat upright and big eyed in the dining room which was all set up with our best china and silver, and various different foods were presented.  During one part of the meal a small glass of red wine was served, signifying the blood of the lamb which was applied over the Israelite's doorposts the night before leaving Egypt.  They did ask for the "real" wine but we thought their mom and dad would appreciate the grape juice we served them and the other children.

We had a wonderful meal together.  Shared scriptures with each other and had a new appreciation of the meaning of Passover.

And on Sunday I received this handwritten thank you note from the six year old who had sat so politely and attentively during the whole meal.

This was a special thank you note!