Gathering Graces 9/29/2018

*It was a full and fun day in the Seattle area today with Brenda, Karla and Tina.
*We started the morning walking through the Magnolia Neighborhood that overlooks Puget Sound.  I loved seeing all the beautiful homes as we strolled along.

*Tina drove us downtown, and we had a special treat of eating at Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge, a  a New Orleans-inspired restaurant offering the best in Louisiana cuisine.  I had a delicious combination of Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab and a Creole Grilled Gulf Prawn and Avocado Salad.  It was delicious.  Apparently this restaurant is very well known nationally.  It was a really special treat to eat there.

*Then we walked down to the area around the Space Needle. We enjoyed watching kids play in the fountain, and walked through the Italian Cultural Festival. 

*We drove back to Tina’s house, packed up, and drove to Karla’s house in Lake Stevens.  What a lovely home Karla and Terry have in a beautiful area.  We all had to drive separately to Karla’s house, because we all were needing to leave at our own times the next day.  So Karla arrived at her home first, then Brenda and I arrived.  When Tina arrived, she had a couple extra “guests” with her....a pair of German Shepherds on the loose that had come into Karla’s neighborhood.  There was a tag on one of them, so the owners were called, and they came and picked up their dogs.  The dogs apparently like to escape and run away from home every so often.  They were wonderful, friendly dogs.  We were glad they were reunited with their owners.
*We went to a place called Rascals to have dinner, and participate in some karaoke singing, something that I have not experienced a lot of in my life.  But it was actually really fun.  Tina, Karla, Brenda and I even did a tribute to our Freshman year at Kellogg Junior High School by singing the Barry Manilow classic Looks Like We Made It, which was the theme of our Freshman Dance.  We also did a rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen.  It was a really fun night with long time friends, and meeting new friends as well.


Gathering Graces 9/28/2018

*I spend most of the day driving across the state of Washington with Brenda for a fun weekend getaway with some friends from high school.  Brenda and I had a great visit on a beautiful day.  And the only time the traffic was bad was going across the I-90 floating bridge.  Other than that, driving in Seattle wasn’t bad at all.  And Brenda made an awesome navigator!!
*We made our way up to the Magnolia neighborhood to meet up with Tina and Karla.  What a beautiful area and lovely neighborhood.  We had a fun visit, and went for a walk to explore the area, and found a lovely park that overlooks the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier. 
*Later we made our way to the Village Pub for dinner and more fun.  What a great night visiting with lifelong friends, enjoying good food, good drinks and good conversation.


Gathering Graces 9/27/2018

*I love my ride to Wallace each morning as I go to work and watch the fall colors come out on the hillsides.  When I leave work each day I drive down the residential area of Cedar Street, and the trees are starting to put on their fall show.
*Later in the afternoon I drove to the airport to pick up my sister-in-law Debbie.  As I drove, I listened to the radio and the events of the day focusing on the Supreme Court nominee testimony, as I heard bits and pieces of both Christine Blassey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh give their statements.  It reminded me of the conversation we recently had here in my home about truth, and story telling and what is really truth in story telling.  They both had their stories to tell.  Now we find out how these stories that were shared make an impact on our country’s judicial system.
*It was early to bed for me tonight.  I was tired.  Paul was tired.  So we headed to bed early.


Gathering Graces 9/26/2018

*Last evening I headed uptown right around sunset.  I needed to drop off some bills, and one was my City of Kellogg bill at City Hall.  I enjoyed seeing the beautiful sunset hovering over the City Hall building on the west end of McKinley Avenue.  Where we live in town, we don’t get to experience sunsets, so I always love when I am out and about, and get to see one.
*This morning I taught a student named Eason.  At one point in the lesson there was an image of a rabbit on the slide.  All of a sudden, he is picking up his computer and carrying it across the room to a cage on the floor to show me his pet rabbit.  It was so cute!!  I hope I get to teach this student again so I can show him pictures of the rabbits we babysit occasionally, Booker and Bunz.
*I don’t like getting that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach when things all of a sudden seem to be a bit chaotic, or off, or our of sorts.  Bam!  Today I felt like I was getting hit from all sides with conflict, strife, bad news, sad news, anxiety, worries.  I don’t like ending up in this place.  I try to avoid it at all costs, but sometimes it is just unavoidable.  But how do I cope with days like this?  For me, I turn to the scriptures.  And take deep breaths!!  Psalm 91 is especially comforting to me, with the imagery of being safe and secure in the refuge of God’s love. 
Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”


Gathering Graces 9/25/2018

*On my way home from work I stopped at the library to pick up my latest book to read, and I stopped at Christy’s house to give one of her cats some medicine.  The cat was nowhere to be found.  I hope to see her tomorrow!!
*I could not believe how beautiful it was outside when I got home.  I drug one of our butterfly chairs out into the sun, and read a little bit of the book.  But I kept dozing off, so I gave in to the dozing, and enjoyed feeling the warm sun beating down on my, the blue sky, the wonderful smells wafting through the yard, and the sounds of birds in the trees.  I loved being in that autumn moment.
*I had a parent call to talk to me about their son taking the ACT test and how he should prepare.  Even though I am not working for the school district anymore, it still warms my heart when I can help a student be successful on their journey to higher education!!!


Gathering Graces 9/24/2018

*I was feeling a little off this morning, so I skipped my walk and crawled back into bed for a while after I taught my classes.  My head hurt.  A bit of upset tummy.  But by noon or so, I was feeling much better.
*I ordered some bushes, and some of them arrived today.  I wanted to get some bushes that would be a great contrast to the front of our much darker painted house.  I look forward to them blooming next spring through fall.  They may go into the big pile of dirt for the winter, then I will transplant them in the spring once I have a plan on what bushes I want to go where. 
*I loved walking around the garden this morning.  The sky was so blue and beautiful.  Every day the roses bloom and their lovely fragrance wafts throughout the air as I stand and drink it all in.  Ahhhhhhhh.


Gathering Graces 9/23/2018

*Paul found this huge dahlia toppled over in the garden.  He cut it and brought it inside and put it in a vase.  Later, we cut another one about the same size to join the first one in a vase.  I have never grown dahlias, but this summer I took the plunge.  Some I have growing in one of the bathtubs.  The one in above photo is growing in the big pile of dirt.  Brandon Hoxie, who teaches at Kellogg High School, had worked with these dahlia bulbs with students in one of his classes, and had given them to me at the end of school last year, along with some other bulbs.  I had no idea what I was getting, but I am so glad I took these bulbs, planted them, and I have been enjoying their enormous beauty!!!
*At work today I met a woman from Israel.  I told her traveling to Israel is one of the top countries I want to visit soon.  She said I need to visit.  My friend David Dose recently took a group of people from the Silver Valley to Israel, and I loved following the trip through his photographs.  He brought a group of friends to take the mine tour a few days ago, so I was able to visit with him briefly about his trip.  I will visit there some day!!
*Family dinner was at Bill and Debbie’s house tonight.  Bill spent the day creating a wonderful dinner, including Cider Braised Pork Roast, browned sliced apples and a mixture of baby potatoes and zucchini fried in garlic butter.  It was all delicious, and the perfect meal to start our Autumn Family Dinners.


Gathering Graces 9/22/2018

*I had a much needed day of rest today.
*After teaching classes last night and this morning, I knew I would need some time to catch up on my sleep.  And I was right.  I napped for a couple of hours this afternoon, and it was just what I needed.
*I also took some time to write our current Sibling Assignment that Christy assigned to us.  I love the poem by Henry Van Dyke called Autumn in the Garden that I found to write about.  It was beautiful.  And I was able to incorporate some of the photos I recently took in my garden into the blog post.  If you would like to read our assignments, you can go here.
*As I napped on the couch, episodes of Chopped kept playing in the background.  Phrases like “crunchy element”, “brightness” and “needs more sauce” kept playing over and over again on each episode.
*I did make it outside to harvest my Roma tomatoes.  I was hoping to have more so I could can some tomatoes, but I don’t think there is enough.  I will have enough for a couple meals of sauce for us, though.
*We are in the process of doing some renovations to our basement bedrooms.  Paul has been researching what kind of flooring to put on the floors in the two bedrooms, and finally came to a decision.  He drove over to Spokane this morning and put a down payment on some flooring.  He will go pick it up next weekend. 


Sibling Assignment 2018:7 You Never Walk Alone in an Autumnal Garden

Christy gave the sibling assignment for this week:

"The first day of autumn is September 22nd.  Share a poem about the season that appeals to you and why.  

Christy's link for the sibling assignment is here.   Bill's assignment is posted here.

Autumn in the Garden

When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark
Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.

'Mid the crumpled beds of marigold and phlox,
Where the box
Borders with its glossy green the ancient walks,
There's a voice that talks
Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here
Year by year,--
Dreams of joy, that brightened all the labouring hours,
Fading as the flowers.

Yet the whispered story does not deepen grief;
But relief
For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow
From the Long-Ago,
When I think of other lives that learned, like mine,
To resign,
And remember that the sadness of the fall
Comes alike to all.

What regrets, what longings for the lost were theirs!
And what prayers
For the silent strength that nerves us to endure
Things we cannot cure!
Pacing up and down the garden where they paced,
I have traced
All their well-worn paths of patience, till I find
Comfort in my mind.

Faint and far away their ancient griefs appear:
Yet how near
Is the tender voice, the careworn, kindly face,
Of the human race!
Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,
Not apart!
They who know the sorrows other lives have known
Never walk alone.

One of the reasons I chose this beautiful poem by Henry Van Dyke was because of the images of the fading autumn garden. I have never been able to spend much time in my garden in autumn.  This year will be different. I now have the luxury of being able to take time each day and walk through my gardens and experience the changes that are happening as summer fades into autumn, and the garden starts to slow down, preparing for the cold and sleepy days of winter.

The changes I see already are the burning bush, in all her glory, flaming red to welcome fall.  The withered leaves on the tomato plants, the squash vines, the green beans, and the cucumbers, showing harvest time is coming to an end.

Can it be that the colors of the flowers are even more vibrant than they have been?  The roses last blooms as they share their beauty and fragrance one last time.  The dahlias bursting forth their colors of yellow, orange and red.  The sunflowers finally bursting forth, yearning to turn their face toward the shrinking hours of sunlight.

The words in this poem also bring me comfort.  The comfort of know that, in all the battles and struggles that we face, we are not alone.  We are not facing our trials alone.  There have been others who, as this poem so beautifully explains:

Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,
Not apart!
They who know the sorrows other lives have known
Never walk alone. 

We are not alone in our griefs and sorrows.  This has been my experience this past year of losing my mother.  I cannot count the number of people who shared and knew the grief of losing a mother, and what happens, and their words and actions were so comforting as I was dealing with my grief.

As I was reading about Henry Van Dyke, I found out he was a good friend of Helen Keller.  Here is what she had to say about Van Dyke:

"Dr. Van Dyke is the kind of a friend to have when one is up against a difficult problem. He will take trouble, days and nights of trouble, if it is for somebody else or for some cause he is interested in. 'I'm not an optimist,' says Dr. Van Dyke, 'there's too much evil in the world and in me. Nor am I a pessimist; there is too much good in the world and in God. So I am just a meliorist, believing that He wills to make the world better, and trying to do my bit to help and wishing that it were more.'"

As I walk the paths of my gardens this fall and ponder the multiple griefs and sorrows of the circumstances swirling around me at this season in my life, I will remember these words….

For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow
From the Long-Ago,
When I think of other lives that learned, like mine,
To resign,
And remember that the sadness of the fall
Comes alike to all.

and remember that I never walk alone.

Gathering Graces 9/21/2018

*I thought it was going to be a chilly day today, but I was surprised when I got out of my car to walk to the mine tour office, and the sun was shining and the temperature was very pleasant. 
*Today is the last day of summer.  What a wonderful summer it has been.  As transformations have happened in my garden throughout the past three months or so, so have transformations happened in my personal life.  I am 40 pounds lighter, and feeling healthier than I have felt in a long time.  I have retired from the job I have had for the past 11 years, and am now finding a new passion teaching children in China how to speak English.  Paul and I are looking at creating our own LLC, and focusing on ways to share our love of the Silver Valley with others.  As the flowers in my garden show their last vibrant colors.....as the plants and vines share their bountiful harvest.....so I feel my life it moving into a place where the past fruits of my interests and passions are coming together.  I look forward to the time of resting this fall and winter to let these ideas and creativity rest and recover, so by spring time, the ideas will be bursting forth with new beauty and new life in our lives.
*As I look over the summer, and the things I have been able to experience, I feel so very blessed.  We started off the summer hosting the KHS Faculty end of year party.  In June, Paul and I attended the Idaho Indian Education Summit in Coeur d’Alene.  Close to home we were able to have a fine crew of family home the first week in July to paint our home.  And what a wonderful job they did.  It was a fun week of working together. Paul and I finished up filming for the feature film project we have been acting in the past few years.  I was able to take a quick trip to Meridian to attend Kyle and Kim Warwick McMorrow’s wedding, and my niece Karlie’s wedding shower.  Paul and I also gifted one another with new bikes this summer, and were able to ride the Hiawatha Bike Trail with Zoe and Jason.  We have also enjoyed parts of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes bike trail.  We enjoyed a hike through the Settler’s Cedar Grove with Molly and Travis, and some time exploring and eating in Murray, Idaho. Paul and I were able to “Speak Life” into many children in the Silver Valley while volunteering at the “Dare To Imagine” Camp at the end of July.  At the beginning of August, Paul and I had fun attending his 40th Class Reunion, and providing a little entertainment at the dinner on Saturday night.  Spokane was the location for our August “date night”, when we heard the Spokane Symphony perform in the beautiful Fox Theater in Spokane.  I returned to Spokane a few weeks later with my two siblings to enjoy a sibling outing to Manito Park and the Perry District.   I enjoyed attending the Silver Valley Farmer’s Markets and Sunday family dinners.  I enjoyed visits from family and friends from near and far.  It was fun transforming our back yard space into a beautiful space to spend time.  It was fun to be with all our family at our niece Karlie’s wedding in early September.  I have enjoyed meeting all kinds of interesting people at my job at the mine tour this summer. I traveled to Moscow to hear author Tara Westover speak, and spend some time with Cosette and Taylor.   It has been a summer of blessings!!


Gathering Graces 9/20/2018

*I met a man at the mine tour today from Australia.  His son is a punter for the University of Washington Huskies.  Apparently, many colleges in the United States recruit students from Australia to be their punters because, as the gentleman explained to me, “our kids start playing football (their name for soccer) at a very young age, so they learn to kick the ball.  American kids learn more about throwing the ball.”  I thought that was interesting.  He and his wife have been traveling to some of the games.  They are heading back to Seattle this weekend to watch UW play Arizona, then will travel back to Australia.  It is amazing the little tidbits of information you learn from short little conversation from people traveling through Wallace, Idaho.
*While visiting with another gentleman, he told me of taking a Salt Mine Tour in Austria.  It is the Salzburg Salt Mine Tour with Underground Boat Ride.  He said you get on a big slide, and slide down into the mine.  Then you get on a raft and ride across a subterranean lake.  He said it was fascinating, and something he will never forget.
*Even thought the temperatures are dropping, it is still so beautiful outside.  My garden is loving the weather, and the flowers are still blooming as beautiful as ever.  Here are some shots of some of my roses in bloom.


Gathering Graces 9/19/2018

*Remember last week I talked about a woman I met at the mine tour who was visiting all 50 states, and Idaho was her 50th state?  Today at the mine tour, I met a man who had the same story!!  He was visiting Idaho, and it was his 50th state to visit in his quest to visit all 50 states.  Pretty cool, and a great goal to accomplish.  We have a beautiful country, and each state has something unique and special about it.  I counted, and I have visited 21 of the fifty states in the United States.  I guess it is time to start planning some road trips to see more of our beautiful country!!
*Tonight at our P.E.O. meeting, we were all asked to name something on our “bucket list” of things we want to accomplish in our lifetime.  Many of the answers had to do with travel.  I shared I would like to take a trip to the Holy Land, visiting Israel and the Middle East, especially the Holy Lands.  But there is so much more of the wonderful world I want to see and experience as well.  Many of the women also answered about spending time with their family.  But a few said they really don’t have a bucket list, because they are content with the way their life is right now.
*I have decided to be somewhat of a “season purist” this year, at least regarding transitioning from summer to fall.  According to the calendar, fall does not officially begin until this Saturday, September 22nd.  So my home fall decorations will not be pulled out until this weekend.  I want to experience every last bit of “official summer” this week that I can.  And the forecast looks good for the next few days, with high temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s!!
*There is an app called Voxer that we have used to leave audio messages to one another each night to share about our day.  With our summer schedules, we got a little lax in sharing with one another what has been going on in our lives.  Now that most of us are back into a better routine, we started Voxing again, and it has been such a joy to hear from our kids and learn about their daily triumphs, struggles, and just little every day ordinary things that go on in their lives.  Paul and I LOVE IT!!!


Gathering Graces 9/18 2018

*When I went out to get the mail around noon I could not believe how warm it was outside.  The house had stayed pretty cool, so I thought it was cool outside.  I took advantage of the lovely warm weather and walked around outside and sat in the warm sun for a while.  It felt so good, and the sky was blue, and it was a beautiful moment in the last of summer’s sunny rays.
*I grabbed my 35 mm camera in the later afternoon and took some photographs of my garden, to help remember what it looked like during the last week of Summer 2018.  This is the first year in a long time where I have the luxury of enjoying my backyard at this time of year.  Usually at this time I was busy returning back to work at the schools, and didn’t spend a lot of time out in the yard.  I hope to spend as much time as I can as summer turns to fall, and enjoy the different seasons in my garden.  (Anyone have a guess as to what the above photograph is from my garden?)
*The West Wing Weekly podcast continues to be a favorite to listen to each day, and a very enjoyable way to watch the television series The West Wing in a whole different way.


Gathering Graces 9/17/2018

*My day started out teaching Sherry this morning at 4:30 a.m.  I am slowly getting used to the earlier mornings.  Once I am done with classes for the morning, I dress in my walking clothes, and walk down and meet Nikki, Clifford and Butters for our morning walk around town.  Then it is home, have my morning “keto coffee”, pray with Paul before he heads to work, and then start this new routine I have created for myself.
*I finally got my office organized and have moved myself back into this space, using it instead of the coffee table in front of the television.  I like working in my office space.  I am going to try and have different spaces in the house dedicated to certain things I want to do throughout the day.  My office is for writing and teaching prep.  My bedroom desk is for bill paying and business related projects.  I have a room in the basement for my teaching.  I hope to get our basement organized enough where I can have a space devoted to “crafty” pursuits.  I think these different spaces in the house will help me keep scheduled and focused better as I create my new routine.
*I set out a package of hamburger, and looked for something to prepare for dinner.  I found a Beef Strogonoff recipe, but I didn’t have any sour cream, and didn’t feel like going to the store.  Then I found a hamburger steak recipe with mushroom gravy.  All keto friendly.  Lots of heavy whipping cream, butter, avocado oil, onions, mushrooms, a dash of bourbon, Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Many of my favorites.  It turned out really good.  Then I picked some tomatoes, and a couple of the Armenian cucumbers and paired them with some oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Eating the Armenian cucumbers made me wish I would have more.  They were a little on the sweet side, and so flavorful.  The two I picked tonight may be the only two  I harvest this year.


Gathering Graces 9/16/2018

*It was nice to be back in church today.  Because of my work schedule and traveling, I haven’t been as consistent going to church over the summer.  It was nice to be there today.  I loved Pastor Dave’s message about hope and believing in the power of God to overcome what seems like circumstances beyond our control.  He used the example of God putting skin back on dry bones and breathing life into the bodies.  It reminds me of this wonderful song by Lauren Daigle called “Come Alive (Dry Bones).  To watch the video of this song, you can to here.
*With my new early mornings teaching the online classes, a nap was in order this afternoon.  It was very much needed!
*I had this awesome student Sunday morning named Peter.  He was so nice and polite, and after I did my elephant imitation, using my arm as a trunk, and blowing on my upper arm to make the elephant sound, he laughed and said, “Teacher, you are cute”.  He had some IT issues during out class.  But despite those issues, he signed up to become a VIPKID student!!  It would be great if I get to teach him again in the future.
*You hope to get feedback from the parents of your students, and you hope that feedback is positive.  I received two parent feedback today, and both gave me five apples (that is the best you can get), and both gave me very positive feedback.  It was a good confidence booster.
*We hosted family dinner tonight. The theme was “Goodbye to Summer”.   I had some left over bay shrimp, and had thawed out some beef sausage.  We moved some of the squash vines in our big pile of dirt to try find where the potatoes were growing.  We managed to dig up enough to put in the foil packets that were going on the grill for dinner.  I also added some of the rat tail radishes and some squash to the packets.  Since the shrimp was already cooked, I just heated it up in some butter and lemon juice on the stove, and added it go the bowls once we opened up the packets. I also picked some salad greens, tomatoes and cucumbers to put together a salad to go with the meal.  It was delicious.
*This summer we had a large amount of raspberries, so I took some and made raspberry liqueur.  I decided after about two months, it was ready to try the liqueur.  When Christy, Everett, Bill and Debbie arrived, they got to have some.  It had a really nice taste, not too sweet.  I liked the way it turned out.  After dinner, for dessert, I took the raspberries from the liqueur mixture, added a little Stevia and heavy whipping cream, and served it up in little dishes.  It was delicious.

*A discussion of the book Educated by Tara Westover, and the talk she gave last Monday in Moscow prompted us to have a discussion about story, truth, memories, our view of a story, and how there are many versions of how an event happened, and often everyone has their own truth about an event.  And just because two stories differ, doesn’t mean one person is not telling the truth.  Often our perception of what happened is different from someone else’s perception.  And that is okay.