Sunday, March 10, 2013

52 Blessings - Life

This week I had a terrible dream. There were bombers flying overhead and I was carrying a baby when I spotted them. They weren’t from our air force. I looked around for a place for the baby and me to hide and ran to a culvert under the road. Once there I realized it wasn’t safe, so ran to warn others as the planes zeroed in. The town had already been infiltrated with the enemy and they kept trying to take the baby from me. To put it mildly, the dream was disturbing.

I woke up thinking, “Whoa. Life is pretty darn good. I may be worried about a lot of things going on in the world, but at least I’m not looking for a culvert.”  That thought has stayed with me the rest of the week:  life is so very good.  Here are two things we enjoyed recently:   

Good life one:

A few weeks ago, Levin came and stayed with Calvin and me for five days while Cali accompanied Ray on a business trip. Each morning when we went in to get Levin out of bed, he greeted us with a great big “Hi” followed by a happy dance. His enthusiasm makes you feel like no one in the world is more important than you to him at that moment. Calvin fixed him breakfast each day – sometimes it was oatmeal and other times eggs, but always it was peaches.

In the afternoons Levin and I would go out and gather the eggs and I’d pull him in the wagon on a walk. Then, while I sat in the wagon, he’d wander around the yard and sweep the leaves with a branch, watch the crows caw, dig in a gopher hole, or play behind the row of trees. I don’t ever remember feeling as patient with our kids while they explored.  More than once, as I watched Levin walk and explore, this poem came to mind:

I like to walk with Grandma, she takes small steps like mine.
She never says "let's hurry-up! she always takes her time.
I like to walk with Grandma, her eyes see things like mine.
Shiny stones, a fluffy cloud, stars at night that shine.
People rush their whole day through, they rarely stop to see.
I'm glad that God made Grandmas unrushed and young like me.

However, I did teach him to “Hurry, hurry, hurry” as I thumped loudly after him chasing him. When he wanted me to chase him, he’d yell “Hurry, hurry, hurry” and run.

The week after Levin stayed with us, Cali and Ande both came and stayed the week while Ray and Joe were traveling. We worked on a fun project , tried a great new recipe, and each afternoon we’d go on a walk. The highlight of the week was on Friday when we went down to Tri-Cities baby shopping for Ande. Both girls are noticeably pregnant and they looked so beautiful walking up and down the diaper and one-sie aisles pointing and looking. Ande was a bit overwhelmed at the reality of getting ready for a baby; by the end she was not only comfortable and ready, but excited.

We ate lunch at a little bistro. We shared a basil-tomato-chicken Panini, Caesar salad with house dressing heavy on the horseradish, and an apple, chicken, caramelized onion pizza. We topped it off with a red velvet, coconut, and a salted caramel cupcake. It was just such a fun and satisfying day.

On Saturday two friends threw a baby shower for Ande. The generosity of people continues to warm me through and through. Though Ande moved away from here years ago, the women continue to show maternal support in her life.

Good life two:

We made some new friends a month ago via the friend of a friend of a friend who bought something on Craigslist. We needed to get rid of some old layer hens and they offered to take them. Sergei brought his daughter, Anna, and her children to come and catch the chickens. After Anna and I caught them, Sergei tied their feet together, threw them in a banana box, and loaded them in the back seat between the grandkids. While Calvin and Sergei talked, Anna and the kids followed me inside to wash hands and visit and eat cookies. Anna became a quick friend and since then we’ve swapped recipe secrets, apples, squash, potatoes, onions, bread, pickled vegetables, cookies, and cake. Last week she went to Seattle and picked me up some special flour; this week I’ll go to her house and teach her how to make fruit leather. Each week Anna and the kids come and buy eggs.

A few weeks ago Anna invited us over for dessert. She failed to tell us that dessert came with four other courses. We started with a zuppa toscana soup and bread. Oh-la-la. It was good. The soup was followed by pickled vegetables and salads, and that course was followed with meat and potatoes. Then we had two desserts: a Russian ice cream cookie and a rich, creamy dessert. Calvin and I waddled home.

Anna and her family moved to America from Moldova a few years ago and there are several families who emigrated from the Ukraine who attend church together in a small community forty miles from here. Anna had invited their church family and us to Lavinia’s 7th birthday party tonight. What a grand time we had. 


The Ukrainians are meat and potato people and Anna graduated from culinary school in Moldova, so how can supper at their home not be good?  We had grilled pork, beef, and shrimp kabobs. We also had several salads – a broccoli, bread, tomato, and mayonnaise salad, a purple cabbage salad, pickled mushrooms, and a green salad as well as potatoes and bread. There was lots and lots of food, and the men just kept bringing out more and more meat. Calvin was in heaven.

The birthday cake had several layers.  Whipped cream and fruit – berries, oranges, peaches, kiwis –were in between each layer.  It was wonderful. 

And as good as the food was, and it was very good, my favorite part of the evening was the singing. First the children stood and sang. They sang with great volume, clarity, tune . . . and parts! (The oldest was Willie who is only 9.) All of the songs were in Russian and Ukrainian. In between the songs they recited bible verses with gusto. The program lasted ten or fifteen minutes. The parents expected their children to be well-behaved and if a child got out of line, he was pinched or corrected.  The children responded quickly and positively.

After they performed, the children ran outside to play.  When I told the adults how impressive it was they projected so well and in tune, one mother replied, “They’d better. They’re part of the choir.” I asked if she sang in the choir and she nodded and then nodded towards everyone in the room and said, “We all are.” I said, “Oh, please sing.” So they did. Just like that. No begging. No hemming or hawing or saying, "Not tonight,"  they just opened up and sang a song (in parts) about the Savior. Soon, the pastor of the group came to the party with his guitar and the whole room started singing hymn after hymn after hymn in Russian and Ukrainian. It was all sung in parts – the bases were deep, the altos were solid – and they sang with great fervor and volume for the better part of an hour. They included How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace so that we could sing along in English. And before Calvin and I left, they sang us a song in parting.  There was such a sense of community and conviction.  It was easy to understand why the children had sung with such fervor.     


melanie said...

I've missed your posts, I'm so glad you took the time to write this one. I love picturing you living your good life.

All that food makes me think of all the dishes it would take to make. That's a lot of clean up! Sounds like a great time, especially the kids singing.

Jill said...

I've been wondering where you've been, but now I see you've been busy! How fun to have both your daughters pregnant at the same time!

Your life is enchanting.

Watson Family said...

What wonderful experiences! Thank you for sharing them and even the smallest of details, because now I feel like I was there eating delicious food and listening to those beautiful singing voices with you!

Rachel said...

I loved the mental picture you drew of Ande and Cali shopping, and how beautiful they were pregnant. You are right, oh so right. And I enjoyed Levin vicariously and wish I could hurry, hurry, hurry after him. And I would have absolutely loved to have heard that impromptu choir. I love you.

Ande said...

Yes, we do live a good life. That week at your house was so enjoyable.

I loved hearing about your new friends and the party and impromptu choir. That really is such a cool story. I'm glad you've got some new friends.