18 July 2015

Vacation Diary #6

Today is Saturday!  Not that that matters on vacation.  However, it is the day of the Taos Farmers' Market, a farmers' market to beat them all. 
And, more importantly, it is July 18, the day when our beloved John Clayton Standridge came into the world 15 years ago! I am so glad we can celebrate with him today. He's already been getting all the sugar cereal he wants while on vacation, so we're hoping we can meet some of his other birthday wishes this week, namely sushi and foods with lots of sugar.

We sure love this guy and are really glad to be with him and have time with just him. His grandma made his favorite birthday cake for him.  See how much he love to be hugged, too?

I wish you could come with me to the Taos Farmers' Market.  It is tremendous.  One can find all kinds things, including but not limited to: baked goods, vegetables of all sorts, greens, flowers, hand-spun yarn, soaps, candles, flowers, coffee, tea, fruits. And one can hear some great music and do some awesome people and dog watching.

17 July 2015

Vacation Diary #5

Today was a lazy vacation day.  This was our breakfast. I wish you could taste it.

In fact, we're getting to the point in the trip when the days start to all blur together.  That's a good thing, I think?  We lazed around the house, sat outside reading, and took a short walk into the plaza (only 1/3 of a mile away). 

Today began the annual Fiestas de Taos, when all the  old families and especially the Hispanic culture of Taos are celebrated. Taos Plaza is closed to vehicles and vendors crowd the streets. There are processions, a Reina and Princesas are crowned (that's Queen and Princesses) and performances from now until Sunday. 

Then we had dinner at home on the portal. It was chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt! Then we adjourned to the front porch to watch the colors of the sunset. 

Tomorrow we have the amazing Taos Farmers' Market AND we celebrate Clayton's 15th birthday! 

16 July 2015

Vacation Diary #4

Today we took Fenway on his first hike!  It was great fun.  We hiked north of Taos near a tiny community called Arroyo Seco.  You drive up a narrow road, stop at the green house, pay $4, fill out a permit and you can hike on private land. It's beautiful and not too challenging, which was perfect for us and for our dog's first foray in the mountains. We're still figuring out how to be good dog owners, so we kept him on the leash and made sure to bring poop bags.  

Speaking of poop bags, I remember thinking, when we lived in the city, that to own a dog in the city was to just resign oneself to picking up and carrying poop.  Every day. I was not ready for that, so we haven't had a dog til now, when we have a yard in which the dog can poop at will, and we can toss it over the fence into the empty field.

The weather here is just perfect.  I think the high today was about 82.  The sun is strong, but the air is dry and the breeze keeps it pleasant.  We hiked for an hour or so and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, despite a short and very weird interaction with a bat which seems intent on dive bombing us.  This is irregular daytime behavior for a bat, so we high-tailed it down the trail.  Clayton and John picked up sticks with which to whack the bat, should it have tried to say, bite our necks or something.

When we can home, I harvested some more choke cherries.  They are baking into a peach and cherry pie as I type this.  It will make a perfect breakfast! 

15 July 2015

Vacation Diary #3

This morning John and I woke up earlier than everyone else and went on a walk around Taos. This is a habit of ours when we're here. The summer mornings here are cool, in the 50s or 60s, and it's a perfect time to walk around town or in the local park.

On the way home we stopped at our favorite coffee shop, World Cup. This shop is tiny, with almost no seating and almost always a line. The shop is on a corner of the plaza and faces east, into the rising sun.  Benches line the sidewalk outside, and these are often occupied by locals (or seasonal locals) who know each other and chat while they drink their coffee in the strong sunshine.

We had the dog with us today, and I didn't want to bring him around the crowded entrance to the shop, along with the myriad other dogs on leashes. (Taos is very much a dog town. And a stray dog town.) So I sat down on a bright blue bench around the corner from the shop door to wait for John to bring our Americanos.  

Fenway sat on the dusty sidewalk and I watched the folks come in and out, the cars slowly driving through the main intersection of the town.

After several minutes, a disheveled-looking older gentleman came around the corner, singing the Judy Garland song, "Good morning, good morning to you." He stopped when he saw me and said good morning.  "That's a New York song, you know.  It goes like this," and he proceeded to sing me a verse and tell me that in New York, the bars close at 4 am and then you can go to an after hours bar.

We started talking about New York and places we had lived and I must have mentioned Boston because he said, "Are you from Boston? Me, too!" and he stuck out his hand to shake mine.  

He asked my name and leaned down his ear so he could hear my answer.  He told me his name was Stan. He said he was born on Marblehead Neck and lived there for a while, until he was sent to boarding school in Sevilla, Spain, where his mother was from.

He sat down on bench with me, but it had to be on my left, because his right ear is the good one.  We talked about all manner of thing and I noticed his weathered hands, his blue eyes, his closely trimmed beard and his pants - they were inside out. Eventually John came with the coffees and sat with us and joined in our talking.  He flowed easily from one topic to the next, so it was hard to find an easy segue to our leaving. But also, he was interesting and made sense and had seen a lot of things.

He was a good story teller.  He told us that going to school in Marblehead Neck (on Boston's North Shore) when he was five years old was tough because he had to walk each day along the causeway which connected the spit to the mainland.  And he had to look at all the sea animals along with way, the crabs and even sea horses.  He said he would get to school around 11:30 or 12, just when all the other kindergartners were getting ready to go home.  So that was hard.

When he was 8 he was sent to Spain to go to school, and I could hear his Spanish accent when he pronounced certain words.

Another man, younger and fit, came around the corner, calling for Paco.  He had a bandana folded around his brow and sunglasses on. His skin was smoothly brown. He knew Stan, but called him Paco, which he explained is a nickname for Francisco.  John started talking to the working man, who does landscaping for a business and was taking a break from his early start to the day. Stan and I kept talking, about Spain, the pope, where he lives, the PBS special that ran recently about the Roosevelts.  His mind was sharp, and he was fun to listen to.  

When we stood up to go, we discovered that Stan/Paco is about to be 95 years old; he was born in 1920! I don't know his story, and I imagine there is pain and loss and suffering involved.  But I enjoyed looking into his eyes while we talked and listening to his stories. 

14 July 2015

Vacation Diary #2

We arrived in Taos late last night, after 11. We were so tired, but had to unpack and let the dog become acclimated to his new surroundings.  By the way, he was a champ on this first long car trip.  We had room for his crate so he rode contentedly in that the whole way.
We slept in today and spent the morning looking over the garden and enjoying the cool air.  
My favorite part of the garden are these:

These are choke cherries and they are sour. Last summer was the first time we had been here at the right time to harvest, and we made them into a peach and cherry pie. This year the tree is just loaded with fruit, so I'm sure we have enough for at least two pies. I made one tonight.

Sometimes I find pie making intimidating and laborious. I worry about the crust, blind baking, it shrinking, burning the edges. But here I'm on vacation and I'm not going to worry about such things. On my phone, I looked up my favorite pie crust recipe from the New York Times. I made it without worrying about how cold the butter was, or that I didn't have a pastry blender or a food processor.  I just used my trusty fingers, like they did in the old days. The pastry went in the fridge to chill while Clayton and I pitted the cherries; the pits popped out easily and without much mess, as these cherries are not a deep red. I called my mom for a reminder about the fruit pie recipe we used last summer.  I used extra sugar to counteract the sourness of the cherries(turns out I overdid it). I didn't blind bake the crust and when I rolled it out, it was all wonky-shaped and irregular, not anywhere close to a circle.  No matter; I draped it over the pie pan, filled it with the filling and wrapped the messy edges back up over the fruit.
I don't have a photo of the final result because the it was dark by then. But let me tell you - delicious!  The cherry flavor was perfect and the crust was no worse the wear for my cavalier ways. Hooray for vacation baking! 

13 July 2015

Vacation Diary #1

We start our vacation today!  It's a weird vacation in that three of our children are away at camp, so just John, Clayton and I are going to Taos this time around. 
Getting ready to go on vacation kind be overwhelming, even when there are only three of us (and the dog). So many loose ends to tie up so that you can actually relax when you get there.  And even then, we'll probably have some work to do to make sure things are all taken care of.

Our church people were so encouraging yesterday, telling us not to worry about anything, that everything will be fine, to relax and get some rest.  Of course, church planters tend to worry about all the things that could go wrong when they're away.  But it is a good thing for us to remember that God loves His church much more than we do, and it certainly does not all depend on us to keep it going!  If nothing else, God's Word will be proclaimed and the Lord's Supper will be shared. And that is enough for all.
There is something satisfying about driving away from home to go on vacation, leaving your workaday life in the rear view mirror and looking out to different vistas.  In our case, we're looking at a 12 hour road trip and there will be plenty of vistas, especially here in the wide-open west.

I'm hoping John and I can really rest, and that Clayton will still have fun, even without any siblings to fight play with.

I've brought many books to read and even some coloring to do, but I have a feeling I'm just going to look out the window, listen to music and talk to John most of the way (John usually does all the driving). 

Adiosito, Kerrville!


07 June 2015

Both to will and to do

Dear readers, thanks for bearing with me as I get into the hang of blogging again.  It's going to be rough and if you quit reading, I completely understand.  I'm doing this more to help me make sense of things myself.  I'm always happy to share and process with you, as well.

As I mentioned before, Amy Carmichael's devotional Edges of His Ways, has been a constant for me for just about 20 years.  In fact, I had an idea for a blog where I would post each day in response to that day's entry by Amy.  Every single year her writings point me to Jesus and to His love and every single year (and day and minute)I forget Him and His love.  

The Scripture she highlighted for yesterday, June 6, was Philippians 2:13:  For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

This is a perfect word for me on a Sunday morning where already things are not going as planned and it's easy for me to gripe and groan and feel sorry for myself. Amy provides an amplified version of this verse by Dr. Arthur Way, which I find encouraging today:
"You have not to do it in your unaided strength: it is God Who is all the while supplying the impulse, giving you the power to resolve, the strength to perform, the execution of His good pleasure."

Let us all go out today knowing that we have not to do it all in our unaided strength; He is all and will supply all. Lord, increase our faith.

04 June 2015

Just a Thursday morning

I was enjoying a good sleep this morning, wondering what time it was, feeling that surely I was sleeping in, when I heard our puppy begin to yip from his crate in the family room.
"Dang it," I thought, or maybe it was something worse.
I began to think through what day it is and what needs to get done and I remembered,"It's Thursday!  And I haven't prepared the church bulletin for Sunday yet!"  Normally I send all the elements of our bulletin to our design friend in Boston, she plugs it all in, we go back and forth for a bit with edits, and I send it to our local printer on Thursday.  Some Thursdays I get an email from the printer:  "Hey there, just wondering if we're going to see the bulletin today."
Yes, you are, after I scramble around a bit.

It's cool enough this morning for me to wear a sweatshirt while sitting on our back porch. As you can see, the sun is just rising above the trees at the back of the yard. It's about to get much warmer, but for now I'm thoroughly thankful for the cool breeze and the shade.

I wrote this post early this morning. Then before I thought it was finished enough to hit publish, I was swept into driving kids to camp, doing errands, making sure the dog doesn't chew up our whole house, feeding a person who can't eat solids (Clayton had his wisdom teeth out on Tuesday), making the church bulletin, going to work, picking up kids, taking to lessons, going to the store, cleaning up the clutter of the day so that we could host our lovely community group. Now I'm ready to hit the sack.  So you can see what kind of a run-around day it's been. But ending with a happy community group, good food, margaritas and not having to worry about getting everyone straight to bed is a good end to the day. 

30 May 2015

In the back yard

Yesterday was the last day of school for three of the kiddos. (Walter was done last week.) You may have heard that we've had a lot of rain in Texas over the past month. Flooding in our area has been minimal, nothing like the damage done further north and east of us.  In many ways the rain is most welcome because Texas has been in a long drought; that may be coming to an end (we hope).  
Yesterday was a welcome sunny day, not too hot, clear skies.  I took the opportunity to sit in the back yard and enjoy the not-hotness for a while, as I know I won't have many not-hot days from now until probably November.
I'm glad it's summer, but it doesn't feel as free or as gleeful as usual.  This year I've got a job which doesn't really take summers off.  I certainly have some flexibility and can also do work from home, if needed.  But I AM very glad to be free to get up early and not have to all rush off to school.  It's a good change in pace and I'm sure I'll learn the new rhythms of summer time and work time.
I think being a teacher all those years spoiled me to getting off work when the children did.  What a blessing!
What does summer mean for you?  Does your schedule change or stay the same?  What things do you look forward to in this season?

I liked the red of the flowers down below and the red of the umbrella up above.

Can you see the amount of water in the bowl?  That is how much fell night before last during a VERY loud thunder storm.   
There is our little buddy, Fenway.  He's just about four months old.  

26 May 2015

Come to Me

Sneaking in here, hoping to blog a bit more.

I've been suffering with anxiety and worry of late. This song, though meant for children, makes me cry every time I hear it, and soothes my soul. The last line describes something I want very much to do: "Learn to rest even while you are awake."

The lyrics describe me too well:

Are you tired?
Are you worried?
Worn out from the day?
Have you been in a hurry?
I will slow the pace.

In her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Butterfield describes a time when she and her husband were planting a church. She was responsible for feeding 50 people, almost single-handedly, each Sunday. Reading about her experience as a church planting wife gave me an appreciation that our work in church planting is different. I can't say it's easier, as different things seem hard or easy depending on the person. But one thing she said intrigued me and still does. She said that in that deeply trying time of busy-ness and unrelenting work, she and her husband found rest in God's Word. What does that mean? It obviously wasn't a physical rest or a break in the work. I have been mulling that idea for months, and trying to remember that I can find rest from the unrelenting nature of church-planting by drinking in great draughts of God's life-giving Word.  

I pray I can hide myself in Him and find deep rest, even while I am awake and my body keeps moving. There is so much to think about on this topic. I'd love to know your thoughts or insights.