Friday, September 28, 2012


Two years ago Tom and I were in western New York for a little time on the family farm. The colors were glorious and the air was crisp. Today I want to share some photos of Fall in Houghton over the years. My soul could use a glimpse of it today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Published At Last!

Horse chestnut bonsai grown from seed
You've met Tom, my renaissance husband: bread baker, cheese maker, violin builder, painter, potter, among other things. Now he has something new to add to the list -- published author!

Long before I met him Tom had been growing bonsai. When he was hiking or exploring nurseries and garden shops he'd find young trees with interesting features to take home to shape and train into lovely miniatures.  By the time we'd met he had several in process, including a flourishing horse chestnut bonsai, grown from a chestnut that he found on the ground at Seattle Pacific University.

Sculpting trees brought him a lot of joy. As a way of sharing his interest he wrote and illustrated a booklet to show others how they, too, might grow bonsai. He called it The Art of Growing Bonsai From Seed. It was camera ready art, pasted up and ready to go. He planned to have it printed and sell it through magazine ads, including a starter packet -- some seeds and soil -- with each purchase.

But that was before he married me and we had our kids. The book languished in a file cabinet while we raised boys and computers rendered camera ready artwork obsolete.

When I got back from Burundi in July Tom had a surprise waiting for me. He had digitized the book, inputting all the text and recreating his tables and illustrations on the computer. Over the past few weeks he has been putting on the finishing touches and just last night he clicked the "Publish" button, uploading the booklet to Kindle!

I don't have a Kindle, but I have the Kindle app on the desktop, the laptop, and the Thrive, so I can read Kindle books on any of those devices. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get the app and download Tom's book for just $0.99! It's an easy, helpful guide for anyone who is interested in bonsai, whether a novice or a long time enthusiast.

Here's the link; check it out! It would be great if you'd take a few minutes to write a review, too. Thanks!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Forget Roget

In school we were taught the value of the dictionary and the thesaurus. We all became proficient with the dictionary -- learning to find words in alphabetical order, decipher their parts of speech, their pronunciation, their multiple meanings, their origin, and even how to use them in sentences. But the thesaurus? Did you really spend much time with your thesaurus?

You are sure to turn to a dictionary every now and then, even if you have spell-check activated. Surely someone throws a word your way, even if it's once in a blue moon, that baffles you.

How often do you grasp the thesaurus in your hand to appropriate a more germane word, a more apt or befitting expression that will convey your notion plainly? Or maybe it's color you want. In the thesaurus you will find words that make your writing pop! To depict a sunset you can use words like dazzling, stunning and resplendent rather than the uninspired beautiful. (According to Roget, you can also use pulchritudinous, which would be amusing, as it might send your reader scampering off to procure a dictionary!)

You can, of course, overindulge this convention. It is conceivable that the populace may cultivate weariness owing to your intemperate employment of synonyms. (I postulate you do not fancy being a buffoon.)

Used with discretion, the thesaurus just might become your new bosom buddy!

* * * * * * *

Here are some links you might dig. (OK, that's my last time to check the thesaurus for a choice word.) If you'd like a bit more information about Roget, check out this brief biography or the book The Man Who Made Lists, which I just reserved from our library. It sounds absorbing. And here's a fascinating article about a man from India who has spent many years creating a Hindi thesaurus.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Everett Offers Food, Fun and Function

It's a rare day that I spend much time in downtown Everett, unless I'm shopping at the Sno-Isle Co-op. But yesterday I hung out for the afternoon in the city of my childhood. And I had a great time.

Photos of Under the Red Umbrella from their
Facebook page.
Several times a year I have lunch with the girls from my old neighborhood, four or five of us who went to school together from Kindergarten through high school. We ate at Under the Red Umbrella*, a delightful neighborhood coffee shop on the corner of 15th and Rucker. The building, a former butcher shop, still has the original meat counter and walk-in cooler. They've retained the buildings charm -- wood floors, big glass-front cabinets, some well placed antiques -- and added rich colors and casual furnishings to produce a welcoming atmosphere. Tables on the patio provide additional seating on warm days.

A restaurant by day and a concert venue by night, Under the Red Umbrella is the a great place to eat. Most of us ordered the three-salad plate, choosing from six or seven options and served with bread. (I chose chicken tarragon, fruit and broccoli grape salads.) Add a cup of coffee (which, by the way, was very, very good) and you've got a delicious lunch for about $10. It was also a great place to catch up with friends, with its ambience, delicious food, and friendly, efficient service. I wish we had such a coffee shop in my current neighborhood!

I stopped in to the Arts Council of Snohomish County's Schack Art Center on Hoyt to browse the Schack Shop. The small gift shop, filled with lovely pieces by local artists, nestles inside the front corner of this 19,000 square foot center. This is much more than a typical gallery, although it is that too. Opportunities abound for hands-on art through classes and workshops. The fall catalog offers nearly 60 classes, such as basic drawing, silversmithing, calligraphy, and wood block design, as well as two or three classes for children/families. The glass shops provide opportunities to observe the glassmaking process (I arrived just as a glass blowing demonstration was ending) and to participate in it as well. Above the center are 40 artist lofts where writers, painters, sculptors and other artists live and work.

My final stop was at Althea's Footwear Solutions. I avoid shoe stores at the mall; it is difficult for me to find shoes that are both stylish and well fitting. The staff at Althea's on Pacific and Colby specialize in providing help for people like me. They are all Board Certified Pedorthists, working to provide therapeutic footwear for their clients. They sell shoes that work with orthotics, shoes that are diebetic friendly, shoes that can be modified to meet folks' needs. The main floor is their showroom; a shop fills most of the lower level where they design or modify shoes to provide optimum fit, function and workmanship for the client.

This kind of shoe store is very hard to find, and a real blessing to people who have issues with their feet. They work with health care professionals and insurance companies, making it possible for people to get the relief they need for medical problems.. With stores in Everett, Mt Vernon and Lakewood (Tacoma area) they have clients from all over the west coast.

See for yourself some of what Althea's has to offer.

If you or anyone you know is in need of special attention when purchasing shoes, whether your issues are medical or not, I encourage you to check out Althea's Footwear Solutions. They'll do all they can to help you.

*(The website for Under the Red Umbrella seems to be down right not. At least this one will give you the basic information to get you there.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Celebrate Recovery, France

Hurts, habits, hang-ups...we all have to deal with them. But when they are out of control -- or should I say when they are controlling our lives -- that's when we need help. Celebrate Recovery, which uses the same twelve steps as AA, invites people to give their problems over to God. It can be applied to every kind of out-of-control issue, things like gaming, gambling, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual addictions, co-dependency, adult children of dysfunctional families, compulsive behaviors, grief, and anger.

It's in submitting oneself to Christ and allowing Him to address the issues that real transformation takes place. People have attended Celebrate Recovery, thinking that it would help them deal with their unwanted behaviors, only to find that it actually removes those behaviors and changes the whole person!

Marvin and Lisa Klein
Marvin and Lisa Klein have been missionaries in France for 14 years. Throughout that time they have seen the church as it struggles to reach people for Christ. They believe Celebrate Recovery, which will be starting soon in France, will provide an introduction to the church and to the transforming power of Christ that is so needed there.

When Marvin first began considering CR for use in France he asked around and learned that there was no existing Christian program like it in the country. As he talked to pastors and missionaries he was encouraged to bring Celebrate Recovery to France. Responses such as, "Don't give up!" and "You have to do that!" were confirmation for him to pursue this dream.

Marvin attended an advanced leadership training program at Saddleback Church in Lake Forrest, California, to prepare for translating the CR material into French. It took four months of 20 hours a week to translate, but in August of 2010 the curriculum for A Life Renewed was completed.

The Kleins have spent a year back home in the Pacific Northwest, where they have been connecting with family and friends and pursuing their work with Celebrate Recovery. While here they developed a leadership team at their Redmond, WA church and launched the program on February 29. As they return to France today they leave a strong team and a number of people whose lives are being changed as they face their problems and allow the Lord to work in them.

I asked Marvin what he learned this year that he can take back to France. His immediate answer was "Team dynamics!" You need to be able to work together, and it takes time to build a team. The leadership team in France is not yet established so they will be working with the churches in the Grenoble area to identify leaders. They'll spend the first year working through the materials before they actually launch the program.

"We are ministering out of our brokenness, not out of our strength," he said. God takes broken people and He restores them and gives them a ministry more effective than they ever could have dreamed.

Celebrate Recovery is not intended to replace counseling or rehab, but it is a way to help keep people accountable. In CR they must admit they have a problem; they have to want to change.

"This is about redemption. It's not just that our sins are blotted out (though, of course, they are); it's not just making us equal; it's Christ transforming us and making us a blessing to others. It's not just the bad stuff being erased. It's about our being transformed, receiving new uses for our lives!"

As Marvin and Lisa return to their lives in France, leaving behind loved ones and the work begun with Celebrate Recovery in their home church, our prayers go with them. May God do a deep and lasting work in the lives of men and women through the French CR, A Life Renewed!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hymn of the Month -- I Will Rise

Lately I've had to plan my weekend schedule around funerals and memorial services. An incredible number of folks have slipped away in the past few months, many of them being the parents of friends or people I may not have known personally but people who are close to people I care about.

Even though death is inevitable, I suppose we will never grow used to it. It's a terrific disrupter, this tearing from our hands and hearts people we love. Death is, indeed, an enemy.

Yet it is a defeated enemy. In Christ, death has lost its sting; it has lost its victory.

As followers of Christ, we do not grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We can face death -- our own as well as the death of those we love -- with the hope of seeing Jesus face to face and being made whole in His presence. We will be united with those who have died in Christ. We will be a part of the vast host who spends eternity in the presence of Jesus! 

Here are two videos of Chris Tomlin. The first one tells why he wrote "I Will Rise" and the second one is a live performance of the song. I share it today for those who are grieving. And I share it to remind us all that this life if not all there is. And even at its best, this life has nothing to compare with the joy of being in the presence of Jesus, our risen Savior.

This post is dedicated to the memory of friends who have recently risen. Vital and whole now you stand, in the very presence of Jesus. (It seems like I am missing some names, but these come to mind as friends who have passed away this summer):
Lorraine Koffler
Margie Legg
Sarah Norris
Patty Hussey
Eloine Beckwith
Ruth Burr
Gene Davidson
Barb Manke
Art Liddle
Gus Breitenbach

Friday, September 14, 2012

See the USA

Photo Credit
Do you remember the Dinah Shore Show in the 1950s? A variety show sponsored by Chevrolet, it had this as its theme song.

So what would it be like to see the USA in a Chevrolet, or any other vehicle, for that matter?

The summer I turned 21 our family piled into the station wagon, pulling a rather-small-for-the-family travel trailer and headed off for Colorado on a Thursday. We were slow travelers, but our only commitment was to be in Fort Collins by Monday afternoon, when IYC (International Youth Conference) would begin. My three siblings would be campers and I would be a counselor. After camp finished we followed the Million Dollar Highway through the Rockies, toured the cave dwellings at Mesa Verde, looked over the edge at Grand Canyon, survived a flash flood, and played at Disneyland. We saw the West. We dawdled; we explored; we saw a little local museum or two; we sang; we really enjoyed the trip.

In 1995, now married with two pre-schoolers, we made two cross country trips. The first one took us from our home in Western New York to Seattle -- by driveaway. Now there's a way to see the country! (Driveaway companies provide a way to get your vehicle to a certain destination, and for someone to drive it for you without cost, except for gas. It is a service to both the owner and the driver of the vehicle.)  Our situation was tricky -- planning a route that would allow a family of four to get clear across the country. It meant we'd have to go a bit out of the way, but it was what we wanted to do.

We picked up a brand new van in Buffalo that needed to be delivered to Indianapolis. Woohoo, I thought, we'll see the country in style! But when Tom went into the office to exchange vehicles in Indianapolis, he was assigned an older car in rather poor shape, a repo that a bank in Nebraska wanted back. Our next vehicle, to be delivered to Bremerton, was a beater of a van, another repo!

We did see the country on that trip, but it was mostly a blur to me. We were on our way back to the Northwest to explore the possibility of a move home. As it turned out, we ended up leaving the boys with my parents and flying back to New York, packing up our house, and seeing the USA again, east coast to west, from the seat of a 24-foot U-Haul (or was it 26 feet?). It was a less stressful trip than the one just a month before. Now that I say that, it may have been plenty stressful for Tom, as he did all the driving, manipulating the monster truck through toll booths and over mountain passes. We never had a problem until we were a block away from the destination, refilling the gas tank, and we backed into a corner we nearly couldn't get out of.

Photo Credit
So why all this reminiscing today about road trips? Well, yesterday I read about two brothers from Belgium who came up with a unique way to see the USA -- by Segway! Twenty-six-year-old Pierre-Jean de Stexhe and his brother Remy (18) left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 10 and pulled in to Edmonds, Washington, two days ago, September 12, a trip of nearly 2000 miles. Pierre-Jean, partially paralyzed in a ski accident in 2006, loves to travel. Now his trips are by Segway. Other friends have traveled with him on his past trips (the French Pyrenees in 2008, the Rockies in 2009, and Norfolk, Virginia to Omaha Nebraska in 2011) but this is the first year for his brother Remy to join him.

They are able to ride about 40-45 miles a day before they must stop to charge the Segway batteries. They have stayed in churches and in homes of people they've met along the way. They document their trips on the website, Segway Travellers. I just wish I'd know they were coming; I would have loved to meet them.

Have you seen the USA today -- by car, van, U-Haul, bicycle, wheel chair, Segway? If you haven't, isn't it time to? Even a Sunday afternoon drive would be good. See what's happening outside your door! It's going to be a beautiful weekend, so go outside and see the USA!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pairing Pears

I bought a box of pears on Saturday, planning to can them. I really did mean to. But by yesterday, Tuesday, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to do any canning. The pears had been used in lunches and snacks and, well, it's just a whole lot more fun to eat pears than it is to can them! I may change my tune come February, when a jar of home canned pears sound really, really good. But for now, I'm quite satisfied with our abundance of fresh pears.

Pears are sneaky. You think you're keeping your eye on them and just when you turn your back they start getting soft and mushy. I hate that.

So I opened up a temporary test kitchen and tried out a few new recipes. My strategy was to pair pears with other ingredients that would put some zing! in our dinner. I'll tell you about it in a minute. But first there is something that I need to show you.

A pair of pears
A pair of pared pears 
A pair of pared (and cored) pears

OK, now that I've taken care of that I can move on to the recipes!

In the morning I paired pears with quinoa and walnuts to share at our first MOPS meeting of the year, and it made a tasty salad. I'd like to recommend the recipe, but I need to tell you this: it doesn't save well. I had held out about half of it for our dinner but the pears got too soft just sitting in the salad all day.  Not so good in the evening as it was in the morning, so you'll want to eat it fresh, either warm or cold.

Here's the Pear-Quinoa Salad recipe I used. The only addition I made was to add dried cranberries.

While looking for pear recipes on the internet I passed over one that added pears and green peppers to cornbread, or at least I thought I did. When I went back to retrieve it, it was nowhere to be found. Who knows, perhaps I just made it up. So I chose a gluten-free cornbread recipe I use from time to time and added pears and peppers, and made muffins to go with our dinner salad. It was declared a success, though not the most beautiful muffins I've ever made. Your family might also find it a pleasing combination. Add two diced pears (we left the skins on) and about a half-cup diced green pepper. We got 18 muffins instead of the usual 12 that the recipe usually makes.

For dessert I tried pairing pears with blackberries from the bushes behind Merrill Gardens. The recipe I used was for strawberries and pears. Next time I'll stick with the recipe. The blackberries so completely overshadowed the pears that you couldn't even tell there were any in the dessert. I should have made a crisp rather than a cobbler, and the blackberries clearly needed more sugar than the strawberries would have. So instead of giving you the recipe I used, I'll point you to the peach crisp recipe I posted a year ago and suggest you try it with a pairing of blueberries and pears. Two pointers -- be sure to add a little corn starch or flour if the pears are too juicy, and be sure you have enough fruit to provide a substantial layer for the topping.

So this is how my pear box looks this morning. I'd probably better get started on pear sauce before I go to the fruit stand to buy a box of pears to can.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fairhaven Fun

We picked up my parents late Saturday morning for a trip to Fairhaven, on the southern outskirts of Bellingham, about an hour from home. We were going for lunch at the Calaphon Cafe which is located on the first floor of Village Books, and then hang out in town for a while.

We'd never been to Fairhaven together, so it was fun to just hang out. Our lunch was delicious -- so good, in fact, that we went back several hours later for dessert!

The bookstore and its sister store, Paper Dreams, occupies most of a city block and is full of books, gifts, and two eateries. While we were there a local author was sharing about her book, just one of a number of scheduled events at Village Books this week.

Artwood and Good Earth Pottery call our names whenever we're in town. We loved the beautiful wood works and the amazing colors and styles of pottery. But you shouldn't touch things in stores like this. You can, however, touch stuff at the Fairhaven Toy Garden, which is just what we did. We picked up table games and read the backs of the boxes; we studied toys and creative kits that would delight the hearts of 10-year-old boys; we celebrated the bright colors; we cheered on the juggler; and we tried out the wooden games. I think the trip to the toy store was my parents' highlight!

What would a trip to town be without finding a yarn shop with its skeins of color (Mrs Hudson's Yarn and Tea), or checking out the architecture, hanging out with the local sculptures or talking to the kids painted on wall at the park?

We also scouted out places to go next time -- restaurants, boutiques, a craft studio. 

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. As we drove along a couple of motorcycles passed us. I turned to Dad and asked, "Would you like to have a motorcycle?" It was Mom who answered. "Yes, I'd like to have a motorcycle with a sidecar so Dad would have a place to sit!" Well, parked in front of the Toy Garden, we found just what Mom was looking for, a bright orange Ural with a sidecar! Dad, being a bit more conservative than Mom, found his new car parked a few spaces away.

We headed home on Chuckanut Drive, with rugged rocks to our left and peeks of Puget Sound through the trees on our right. A drive along Chuckanut could be a day trip in itself, with its oyster restaurants, parks and beautiful scenery.

All in all, a very fine day!

(All photos were taken by Tom or me except the photo of the Fairhaven double decker bus)