Friday, December 19, 2008

~pardon the silence

Things have been...... interesting... lately. Death and renewing.... loss and blessings..... its all been a bit much to take in. Soon... very soon I will be able to put this into words. For now I revel in the words God whispered into my ear during the darkest moments of the last month "just wait until you see what I have planned for you......" But right now is a time for losing myself in cookie dough, princess dress up clothes, and picking out my favorite Christmas ornament of the day... touching each card that was sent to us... just being in the moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

~sometimes Prine says it best

"Some humans ain't human
Though they walk like we do
They live and they breathe
Just to turn the old screw
They screw you when you're sleeping
They try to screw you blind
Some humans ain't human
Some people ain't kind

You might go to church
And sit down in a pew
Those humans who ain't human
Could be sittin' right next to you
They talk about your family
They talk about your clothes
When they don't know their own ass
From their own elbows
Jealousy and stupidity
Don't equal harmony
Jealousy and stupidity
Don't equal harmony

Have you ever noticed
When you're feeling really good
There's always a pigeon
That'll come shit on your hood"
~john prine 'some humans ain't human'

......trying hard not to lose my faith in people today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

~ten things that make me love Nashville

1.... you absolutely never know who may be sitting next to you at the bar.
2.... it's like the land of Rob's long lost twin brothers. Big beards, glasses, and hats are like a uniform
3.... once in a while you hear a good true tennessean Dolly Parton twang, and not just in the Cracker Barrel
4.... at any moment you may well be in a spot where Hank Williams got drunk, Waylon may have gotten strung out, and on and on
5... because the idea of making a life there is so completely possible
6.... you may have basement recording studios in the houses on either side of you
7.... it has the good taste of Seattle with very little of the hipster attitude
8.... on any given night, there is something decent to go out and listen to in a bar
9.... PBR tallboys are cheaper than sin and tastier than any other place on earth
10.... it makes us forget the troubles we left back home and renews us with a whole world of possibilities. We know that no matter what, we can chuck everything and just move there

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I've been thinking lately about the things we inherit. I can't believe I've been married to Rob for several years now and he only JUST told me that webbed toes runs in his family. He knows how much I love odd characteristics like that. So I started thinking about all the things our littlest one may or may not inherit. Will they get their Grandpa Bill's clear blue eyes? Will they get the Clarksen cheeks? Will they have mama's shiny black hair or be a fair skinned little red head like their dad? Which then led me to thinking of the generations that went before us. We lost Rob's Grandma Boness last year. It didn't catch us completely unaware but was sudden none the less. My mom is in Tulsa visiting her own mother and preparing for her passing as well. My Grandma Fran gave me more than just her name. In fact, that was a gift from both of my Grandmothers.... something I've always held a deep sense of pride about. She was a resourceful woman. Some of my clearest childhood memories involve running through her rows of peas with the cousins. Years have passed since then and the unimaginable creeps in. One day it became apparent that the devil Alzheimer's had gone from simple forgetfulness, to robbing her of the ability to even thread her beloved sewing machine. I was touched and honored when my mom and her sisters asked me if I would want her sewing machine. Now, my close friends and family sort of laugh about my sewing machine situation. Some people horde cats, some newspapers, some nicknack's. I..... I can not say no to a sewing machine. When I was in college, mom found me a sweet little work horse that whipped up numerous things for roommates and friends. Then I graduated to her beloved Pfaff. The same machine she had sewn my own baby clothes on. When my Aunt Marjorie lost her fight with breast cancer(check often!!! check thoroughly!!!) I inherited a beautiful Singer Featherweight. So, by the time Grandma Fran's machine came, the term "machine addict" had already been tossed around. Then a few years later, Rob's Grandma Boness passed on and tear filled eyes turned to me and asked "would you?" It was then that I realized I needed to take these blessings and share them. Two of these machines now reside at the church where I teach any child who is interested, how to sew on a machine. Now, when they deconstructed the craft rooms of these women, its not just their machines that came along. It was their knitting needles.... their crochet hooks... half used balls of yarn.. their patterns, clippings from Good Housekeeping, and half done sewing projects. You will never EVER hear me whine that I don't have a particular size knitting needle. When I pick up each pair, I wonder what she made with this set. Who got a Christmas gift made from these very needles. And with each box of this and that, I would find treasures. In my grandma's things, I found patterns for presents she had lovingly made for us grandchildren as heirlooms when she knew that her mind would not always let her do such things. And when I looked even closer, I found links to my mother's childhood and how things come full circle. This wooden needle case holds the most beautiful set of metal knitting needles. They are gauge 0 which, for our non knitters, is almost the smallest you can go. I have never attempted anything that delicate but once in a while I open it and touch them. I tell myself, "One day you will complete a project with these.... and then, you will know you really know your stuff." But the most dear thing is the little price tag. It is from a long gone store in Milwaukee, WI. And the set was only 15 cents. Most people don't know, but my mom was born in Milwaukee before they relocated to Tulsa, OK later in her childhood. So when I fell in love and moved to Wisconsin, it just sort of felt right. In the box of projects from Rob's Grandma's house, I stumbled upon a very much used and well loved knitting pattern for children's mittens. She marked it off each time she used it. Numerous check marks, and most every size had been circled at some point. Made me wonder which of those check marks were for a pair made to keep his mom's little fingers warm as a child. And then later to keep her grand children's fingers safe from the bitter winds blowing in off the lake.

All of this makes me think of what I have inherited...... not in dollars or truly even in materials at all. I run my fingers through the jars and vases of needles.... I flip through well loved Christmas decoration patterns.... and I think about all that I am and where it came from. Religion, to me, is merely the culture of faith one grew up with. In my own family I have seen how important it is to hold onto that culture. No matter what roof it was practised under, we all inherited that importance of faith. I inherited the belief that if something is wrong, you stand up against it. Even if it isn't the popular stance. If someone is hurt, you lay down your burden and help ease theirs. I also inherited the gift of craft..... of sewing, knitting, creating. We don't always realize where our gifts come from and just take it for granted. I challenge you to look at your passions and then try to trace back who or what along the way encouraged it. I am proud that my first successful venture into sewing is imortalized on the wall of my parents' bathroom. This little piece of muslin was my first piece.... done at age 4 or 5.
Many years later, I got this very picture inked into my upper arm. To remind me of sitting at my mom's feet in her bedroom as she tried to get a sewing project done. She could have easily told me to go watch tv or play out in the backyard. Instead, she handed me some scrap fabric and a needle and a little bit of encouragement. That was all it took to send me down a path that quite honestly, changed my life. So, with all this.... it makes me wonder, what will my child inherit from me? What shall they gather from their dad? My mom had no way of knowing what lay ahead of me while I stood there at her knee with a bored look on my face. Who are you going to inspire this week? Who have you inspired into their own creativity?

Friday, November 7, 2008

~little feet i ache to nuzzle

Sometimes it's hard to accept there really is a child inside. We tried for so long. At times it seems so surreal, that I start wondering if I'm making it all up. Like one of those crazy women on soap operas that stuff pillows up their shirts. But then I remember that we've got photo evidence that I'm not losing my mind. This little foot.... it makes things so much more concrete for me. I can look at this stubborn little foot and I swear, I can almost feel the soft cool arch on my lips.

We spent so much time praying that the latest combination would do the trick. All those monthes where we were ready to throw in the towel. And then, once those 5 little pee sticks revealed an answer to our prayers, I spent so much time feeling nauseous and queasy. This odd phase of nothingness tricks me. Though I truly believe that lil' foot did a happy little Irish jig on the side of my stomach as the electoral votes rolled in on Tuesday. I think the little one knew I needed some reassurance that we didn't have a teeny Alex P. Keaton on our hands. For they flashed us the tell tale sign of any mini revolutionary.... we got the peace sign.

Hey little one..... I want you to know you are coming into a world full of possibility. I want you to know that you are coming into a brand new age. The season has turned and, even though the newsman just told us the first snow of the year is falling, I see your future blossoming with chances. None of it comes easy. But you have the two of us, hands ready in case you need steadying. You are a child of possibility. We all are.... no matter our age. And I want you to know that your very existence gives others hope. Others who don't even know you.... most barely even know me but are drawn to tell me how you touched them. Just knowing the journey it took for you to find us, is a light to those still wandering down that dark path just before the dawn. I hope your teensy little dreams in there are blessed and warm and give you peace.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

~canning insanity

Maybe it's the nesting instinct telling me to stock up to survive this cold Wisconsin winter.... Maybe it's my reluctance to go to the grocery store and face the crowds.... or, perhaps its a subconscious nod of recognition to my Grandma's life of hard work and an ode to her pioneering spirit as she slips away into the thick fog of Alzheimer's. But I've been canning my little heart out. And were I lucky enough to own a pressure cooker, we would have canned even more. Fearing the deathly threat of botulism, I stuck to what I knew was safe. As I type, there is the final pot of applesauce bubbling away in the kitchen. I hope our fellow church potluckers enjoy apples for I shall become known as the apple pie/crumble/muffin/bread/cake lady at anything that asks for a 'dish to pass'(a phrase I'd never heard until i stumbled into the Midwestern life.)

I would say this pot of apples is my last, but those paper sacks filled with green tomatoes rescued from the frosty garden would say otherwise. There is still a round of tomato sauce to be had if they ever turn remotely red. I had grand plans for bloody Mary mixer canned up, but the impending arrival of our little one made me think otherwise. Tomato juice with no vodka just makes no sense to me. The few jars of spicy tomato juice that did result from our round of salsa canning, will make the tastiest salsa chicken soup in town. I'll admit it.... I feel whole and secure when I come home from work and catch sight of that bounty of pretty little jars with their gold lids filling my pantry by the basement. The housing market can crash, the election can go in a very wrong direction, and the Packers could lose every game left in the season.... but we will be fed through the winter. I thought, while I'm at it, I would post my delicious granola recipe that I made Friday. It makes a huuuuge amount. But have no doubt, if you seal it up well in some good jars, it will keep very well. It makes a great breakfast, pairs perfectly with yogurt, and is a grand topper to any emergency apple crumble needs that may hit you. Believe it or not, but this abundant recipe is actually from an old recipe that I cut in half.
~3 lbs rolled oats
~1 cup brown sugar
~2 cups wheat germ
~2 cups whole wheat flour
~2 cups coconut
~1 cup wheat bran
~1 lb dried cranberries or raisins
~1 cup raw sunflower seeds
~1 cup raw walnuts pieces
~1-2 cups flax seed meal
~2 tsp salt
~1 cup canola oil
~1/2 lb butter melted
~2 cups honey
~2 tbsp vanilla
~2 tbsp cinnamon

~preheat to 295 degrees

~Combine all the dry ingredients in the biggest mixing bowl you own. And I mean big! You're gonna do some stirring in here.

~In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until the smell and consistency makes you drool.

~Poor liquid into dry. I do this gradually as my biggest mixing bowl is barely big enough for the job. Stir it all until it all looks evenly coated and delicious. At this point you may be tempted to just start eating it with a spoon. And I won't judge you if you do.

~Spread evenly on 4 good size cookie sheets with raised edges. Its okay if you have to do the baking part in 2 batches. My oven could only hold 2 large sheets at a time. It won't hurt anything to let half of it sit for a while before it bakes.

~Bake for 10 minutes. Take out and stir

~Bake for another 10 minutes. Take out and stir.

~One more time, bake 10 minutes and stir. All this putzing helps get an even baking.

~Bake until it gets a nice even tan color. It will still feel soft at this point, but don't panic. Leave it alone for a half hour or so and you'll see a significant change in its texture. The longer it sits out, the crunchier it will be. If you seal it up too soon, there is a chance of it still having some moisture in there and getting things a bit on the softer side again. So I let it sit out over night. I broke it up and transferred the first batch into the giant mixing bowl and the only problem was that my husband kept sneaking into the kitchen to grab up some of the larger chunks to nibble on.

~stepping out into thin air

I need to get past this feeling of inadequacy.... that no one needs to hear my voice spoken. For so long I have gathered inspiration, encouragement, and joy from many many bloggers from around the world. Finally I decided that perhaps... perhaps I might have a little something to give back in return. And, this is a turning point in our lives. What better time to chronicle the path we're on. What better time to challenge myself to explore my own possibility. To the few family and friends who grace me by reading along, I thank you for letting me hear my own voice. I sort of wonder if this is all that much different from when I would sit in front of the mirror and cry as a child. But so what if it is..... I'm an individual who has always felt things deeply, and really reveled in those feelings whether they be joyful or painful. The ability to step away from those feelings and look at them objectively has helped me grow over the years. So here it is..... the good, the bad, and the embarrassingly 'francie' moments of our lives.