Saturday, March 29, 2008

Avocado Oatmeal Scrub

Sometimes I buy avocadoes that look perfect but when I slice into them I find they are not edible. Avocadoes are not cheap, and I don't like to waste them, so I found another way to use them.

Avocado Oatmeal Scrub

about one avocado, scooped out and slightly mashed
(even if it's turning brown or the texture is all wrong for eating)
1/8 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp olive oil or almond oil
5 drops skin safe essential oil (lavender is nice)
1 tsp lavender flowers (or a slightly larger amount of lavender leaves if your herbs aren't blooming yet)
a few mint leaves

Process all the ingredients with a stick blender (chopping blade) or food processor. Refrigerate until ready to use (I use it within 12 hours).
To use: smooth over your body and then rinse off.

I find this procedure best when using a scrub: turn the shower on for a few moments before you enter it so that the environment is warm and steamy. Turn off the shower, enter the shower, apply the scrub all over your body. Then turn on the shower and rinse off.

Optional: add a little almond meal for a scrubbier texture.

This week, Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by . Rules for Weekend Herb Blogging are here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

preserving chocolate truffles

Do you know that homemade Christmas truffles are still yummy in March?

They need to be preserved carefully -- I recommend putting them in a ziploc in your mixing bowl and putting a small cookbook, an almost empty bag of flour, and a bag of apples on top of them. Change the bag of apples for a bag of bananas when the apples are gone, then a bag of grapes when the bananas are get the idea.

On St Patrick's Day when you use your mixer to make Irish Brown Bread, you will be pleasantly surprised to find chocolate truffles under your cookbook. You might think about throwing them away when you find them, but do hold on to them for a Friday morning when you almost forget to eat breakfast.

Serve with tea.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Rabbi's Heartbeat

The Rabbi's Heartbeat, by Brennan Manning

This book has been a source of encouragement and comfort to me for the last two months. As I've had to make some decisions for my dad, my role as a daughter has changed; this has been stressful, to say the least. The Rabbi's Heartbeat continually reminded me that God is my Father and I am His beloved child. This familiar truth has been a beam of light on dark days.

Brennan Manning has a simple honest style that is welcome during a stressful time. Filled with Biblical truths, it is far from shallow, yet it was very accessible when I was feeling burdened and discouraged.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

celtic mugs

A friend of mine has this beautiful mug. I've always admired it, and I finally found an online retailer (with a little help from another friend):
The price is a bit more than I expected, though. I don't think I'll be replacing all our coffee mugs anytime soon...
In my searching, I also found these, which aren't as much fun, but are certainly more affordable.
There's a beautiful pitcher here, but I am trying to decrease my cream pitcher collection at the moment.

Devotional Books for Lent

Small Surrenders, by Emilie Griffin
Seeking His Mind, by M. Basil Pennington

I added these books to my devotional routine during Lent. This was the first year I had celebrated Lent in any way (I also gave up buying books). Both books gave me an introduction to the idea of Lent, and I found them interesting. Both books are written from a Catholic perspective, which is something different from the rest of my home library. Neither of these books will be a yearly tradition for me, but they were helpful for my first Lent season.

Small Surrenders quoted more literature than scripture; I enjoyed the quotations but I expected more scripture given the subject matter. Seeking His Mind discussed the life of Jesus. I think someone with a more Catholic background than mine would have enjoyed these books more than I did, but again, they were both useful introductory books.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Herb Blogging: Avocado Bean Salad with Herbs

My herb garden is not exactly flourishing, but I was able to pick a few sprigs of this and that for a spring salad.

This is a simple recipe that is always popular in our home, with children and guests alike. All measurements are approximate and can be tweaked to your own preferences.

3 TBS olive oil
1 large sprig each: sage, tarragon, marjoram, oregano
a bunch of chives (define "bunch" to fit your own tastes)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans or cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 or two green onions, diced (optional)
2 avocadoes, diced
salt and pepper

Chop herbs and place them with olive oil in a bowl or pitcher. Process with a stick blender (chopping blade) for a few moments.

In a large bowl place the beans, green onion, and the avocado. Pour the herbed olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Mix vigorously. The avocado will mash up a bit, coating the beans.

The flavors are best if you prepare and chill the salad for an hour or two before serving.

For a more colorful salad, add fresh diced tomatoes.

I like to just eat this with a spoon, but it is lovely on a bed of greens, on whole wheat crackers, or on small slices of rustic bread.

This week, Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Thyme for Cooking. Rules for Weekend Herb Blogging are here.

two poets

A month or two ago, I read Donald Miller's review of Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz (at Donald Miller's blog) and consequently checked out the book from the library. I read the first few poems and a few more chosen randomly. I read the last few poems. I tried random pages again. And then I gave up. I found the poems inaccessible, and I decided that not only would I never ever be able to write poetry myself, I was unlikely to even understand it.

Last month, Donald Miller recommended Billy Collins' book Sailing Alone Around the Room. My husband read the samples of Collins' work on Donald Miller's site, and enjoyed them so much that he ordered the book. We have both found the book delightful, and we will seek out more of Billy Collins' work.

Billy Collins writes poetry on a wide selection of subjects, from the amusing to the thought-provoking to the truly unusual. Each poem is immediately enjoyable, but can be lingered over and savored as well.

Here's an example: Billy Collins' poem Introduction to Poetry

(Note: A few mature themes -- a parent might want to do a little pre-reading before just handing this to a teenager.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rosetta Stone Contest

Rosetta Stone has been the #1 foreign language
curriculum among homeschoolers for a while -- next week they are unleashing a
brand new curriculum, and you can WIN the *all new* Rosetta Stone Homeschool
Version 3… FOR FREE!

This is a $219 program (and believe me it's worth
every penny!) and the winner gets to pick from any of these 14 languages:
Spanish (Spain or Latin America), English (American or British), Arabic,
Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Hebrew, or
This will also include a headset with microphone, and students will
participate in lifelike conversations and actually produce language to advance
through the program. Rosetta Stone still incorporates listening, reading and
writing as well, in addition to speaking. Many homeschoolers requested grammar
and vocabulary exercises, and with Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3, they're
included! For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into
the program and allow parents to easily enroll students in any of 12
predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, and view and print

To win this most excellent program -- in the language of your
choice -- copy these (blue) paragraphs and post it in (or as) your next blog
post -- then to enter the contest, go to the original contest page
HERE: and leave a comment with the link showing where you blogged about
it. And please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page
when you post it. And good luck! The winner will be picked randomly on March 26,
and will be notified thru the link they left to their blog pg. And if you have
more than one blog, you can post them and enter those separately for more
chances to win. Yay for free stuff!

Thanks to Arby at Arby's Archives (see list of blogs at right) for posting this!

Two Events Today

A Fun Event: It's Wear a Sweater Day!

We visited a local park today. I wondered why at least four children were wearing sweaters on a seventy degree day. Perhaps they were celebrating?

And a Serious Day: Maundy Thursday
I found this blog post insteresting:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Book Review: A Walk with Jane Austen

A Walk with Jane Austen, by Lori Smith, is the story of the author's journey to England where she visited many sites associated with Jane Austen. The book blends her descriptions of Jane's environment with thoughts on Jane's life, as well as Lori's own life. At the beginning of the book, Lori spends a week getting acquainted with a handsome young man at Oxford, and throughout the book she wonders what the future holds for the two of them.

I found the book to be an unusual way to learn more details about the life of Jane Austen. I enjoyed the author's comparisons of her own life to Jane's and to Jane's heroines. When she mentioned being a bit of a Marianne one day when she'd rather be an Elinor, I could sympathize.
I wouldn't put this book in the can't put it down category, nor would I put it in the deep spiritual insight category (although it did have its thought-provoking moments), but I found it a pleasant companion for an evening bath. It will be a valuable tool someday when we visit England; Austen sites will be on our must-see list.

Lori Smith also hosts the blog Jane Austen Quote of the Day, with a quote from an Austen book almost daily, and occasionally a quote about Jane herself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

lip balm!

I love to try new lip products, but I always come back to this one. On the scorching days of our desert summers, or the windblown winter days of our holidays in the Northwest, I rely on Rosebud lip salve. This is not a new product; it's been around for more than a hundred years. It feels fabulous, it adds a little shine, and it heals chapped lips. My only complaint is that if I've just applied moisturizer to my face, my hands are too slippery to open the tin. I finally realized that I could scoop some Rosebud Salve into a more easily opened container.
I buy this at ebay, but I've also seen it at Victorian Trading Company. I'm currently using a minted version.
I misplaced my Rosebud Salve in my suitcase last time I was in Oregon. Two days without it in the cool March air left my lips dry and rough. Thankfully, I discovered the salve in an unexplored pocket, and my lips recovered overnight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Patrick's Day!

I wore green nail polish today (which isn't all that unusual for me), we listened to a lot of Irish music (again, not unusual) and we had a fabulous Irish meal. We splurged and bought Irish rashers (that's what the Irish call bacon) for our Colcannon. We also had black pudding and brown bread and Silver Shred marmalade. The children all love black pudding, but the younger two ate the rashers and left much of their colcannon behind. They'll like it better tomorrow when it appears as Bubble and Squeak.

My favorite brown bread recipe:
adapted from

Makes one loaf
You'll need a piece of foil approx 12in
x 8 in
Preheat the oven to 425. Spray your bread loaf pan with the Pam that
has flour in it, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
1 cup whole wheat
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup oat bran flour or oat flour
teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 oz Butter,
1 Egg
12 ounces buttermilk or kefir
Sesame Seeds

Place flour in bowl and sift in Soda, Salt and Sugar. Mix to combine.
Beat Egg with half of the buttermilk. Pour egg/milk and melted butter into
flour. Mix thoroughly with stand mixer,adding the rest of the buttermilk.
Pour mixture into lined pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Make a domed
lid for the pan with the foil and press securely around the rim (Mine doesn't
"dome" very well but it still works)
Bake 1 Hour. Remove foil, and invert
baking dish to remove bread. Pull the waxed paper off the bread.
Allow to
cool completely before wrapping. Serve with butter and marmalade or with chutney
and cheese (brie is nice). Especially nice with a cup of tea.

Links to recipes for colcannon and bubble and squeak are here:

Although I love corned beef and cabbage, our hostess in Ireland last year told us that Irish people in Ireland don't eat "that stuff", that it's more typical of Irish immigrants in the United States. So we'll have corned beef and cabbage some other day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

semantic feature analysis graphic organizer

I couldn't wait 'til Friday to share this funny with you. One of the homeschool moms at posted something hilarious today, and she gave me permission to post it here:

I am taking some free online courses so that I can change my teaching certification from inactive to active (may be teaching summer school). OH MY WORD. These courses seem to be designed for someone who has the IQ of a turnip, but by someone who wants to use a lot of fancy words as he/she educates the turnip. Today, I learned all about semantic feature analysis graphic organizers. Do you know what semantic feature analysis organizers are? They are charts. And, as I was told about 3,241 times during the audio-visual lesson, semantic feature analysis graphic organizers can help students to learn and retain information. Imagine that!!!!! Charts can help students to learn and remember!!! AND....GET THIS..... YOU CAN PUT SEMANTIC FEATURE ANALYSIS GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS ON PAPER OR A WHITE BOARD OR AN OVERHEAD PROJECTOR OR...well you get the idea.In the audio-visual portion of the lesson, words come up on the screen, but there is also a voice-over who reads the words. You can't click onto the next screen until the voice is finished reading the present screen. I can read the screen with its totally obvious information in about 3 milliseconds, but must wait for the minute or so as the reader slowly and deliberately reads the information to me. Today, I read a book as I worked my way through the lesson. ARGHH!!!I keep telling myself that it's free and it will get my certification active again so that I can teach in a public school if need be. Okay....frustration over. You may go back to your lives and ignore the woman with the frothing mouth and glassy eyes cowering in the corner with her semantic feature analysis graphic organizer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


For weeks now, I have been blogging away but not sharing my blog address with many real-life friends. I finally and bravely shared the address with a friend yesterday...and woke up this morning realizing that I had blogged about my hometown (in a not always complimentary manner) ... and my friend still lives in that area. Oops.

I wish I could eloquently express my varied perspectives on my past and present locations, and how their voices argue with each other in my mind.

For example, the cozy small-town perspective of my past finds my current master planned community of carefully matched homes rather boring and the homeowner's associations are just annoying.

My present Bigdesertcity perspective finds the small town neighborhoods a little mis-matched.

One thing I miss about the small towns is the way they value their history. Here, we implode old buildings and promptly replace them with something new.

These thoughts have led me to the conclusion that my blog captures only snapshots of my life and my thoughts. It cannot show you the entire moving picture, only what I was thinking at one moment in time. My blog captured my feelings while driving through my hometown and my viewpoint from the "hospital hill" -- but it would be difficult to express how much I miss those dark green hills ... or how much I would miss the balmy days of March if we moved from Bigdesertcity.

"Home" means so many different things to me. When we fly to Oregon to see my husband's family, I say we're flying home. When I drove to Smalltown, I said I was visiting my "hometown." But when I walked in the door of our stucco house with the obligatory palm tree in the yard, that was home too -- and more home-y than anywhere on earth because my husband and my children are here.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Eleven years ago I moved away from my birthplace -- a small coastal town in Washington state. After five years in Oregon, I moved to a very new master-planned community in the desert.

Last week I visited my hometown. It looked much the same, probably, but to my eyes it now looks a bit shabby. The fence is gone from my old front yard, but our old house is still the dusty blue my dad painted it soon after I left home. Plants in black plastic pots cluster around the front door, and the once-tidy rose bed seems to be covered over with grass.

A search for an old friend led me up the tallest hill in town, to the hospital where I was born. The hospital lobby was filled with fussy children and the aroma of fresh espresso. The desk attendant said my friend was not on their patient list, so I returned to the parking lot.

I wandered to the edge of the hill and looked down at the rows of tiny houses. From this distance, the town sparkled in the spring sunshine, surrounded by dark evergreen hills and a silver harbor. Far off on the western horizon the silver harbor met a gray line that I knew was the Pacific ocean. All thoughts of shabby depressed little towns fled as I meditated on the beauty of my native environment.

This week I am thankful to be back with my family in the desert. As I prepared breakfast this morning, I played a Tommy Fleming CD. The first song on the CD is "From a Distance." I've never liked the song, but I do like Tommy Fleming. As I listened and scrambled our eggs, I thought that it was sad to hear the Lord portrayed as so very distant from us, but as I kept listening I suddenly heard another viewpoint: it's not about the distance, it's about His perspective. Our lives are like my favorite Impressionist paintings -- just a bunch of dots and blobs when seen too closely, but take a step back and the painting makes sense and becomes a thing of beauty.

In Remembrance

Communion --
Lord's Table --
Lord's Supper --
It doesn't happen often at our church,
and I'm not always able to attend when it does.

Today I remember You
at home.

I remember trusting You,
believing that Your death purchased my pardon.

I remember Your presence with me,
Your promises upholding me.

I dip my bread
in my wine
and think of You
sharing a meal with Your friends.

I know You share this afternoon with me.

praying with Psalm 28-30

May the Lord be praised,
for He has heard the sound of my pleading.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him,
and I am helped.
Therefore my heart rejoices,
and I praise Him with my song.
The Lord is the strength of His people;
He is a stronghold of salvation for His anointed.
Save Your people,
bless Your possession,
shepherd them, and carry them forever.

O Lord, my strength and shield,
You are my stronghold,
my place to hide
when criticism leaves me wounded.
You carry me when I am too weak to stand.

The Lord gives His people strength;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.

You turned my lament into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
so that I can sing to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise You forever.

my friend told me I was grieving.
I hadn't labelled my emotions yet,
but it is an accurate word.
Grieving because my dad no longer
seems like my dad.
Grieving because I now have to manage the finances
for the man who taught me to tithe and save
and balance a checkbook.
Previous seasons of grief
have shaped my life
my personality --
and driven me to You.
Use this one too, Lord!

(Psa. 28:6-9, 29:11, 30:11-12)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

praying with Psalm 25-27

Lord, I turn my hope to You.

Make Your ways known to me, Lord;
teach me Your paths.

...Your faithful love is before my eyes,
and I live by Your truth.

The Lord is my light and my salvation --
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life--
of whom should I be afraid?

...Be courageous and let your heart be strong.
Wait for the Lord.

(Psalm 25:1, 4, 26:3, 27:1, 14)

No words today, Lord.
Or perhaps one:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

praying with Psalm 22-24

Lift up your heads, you gates!
Rise up, ancient doors!
Then the King of glory will come in.

O King of glory,
Creator of heaven and earth,
Lord of love and mercy,
I invited You into my life 29 years ago
on a spring afternoon.
Thank You for never leaving
even when I forget You're here
and try to carry all
my burdens alone.

Do not be far from me,
because distress is near
and there is no one to help.

Sometimes "distress" seems closer to me
than You, Lord.
But You live within me
and no one -- and nothing --
can be closer than that.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.

I'd like more money, Lord.
I'd like to be released from responsibility
for my dad.
I'd like to fly away to Ireland today.
But I have You, Lord,
and I have a loving husband
and children
and a house
and two cats
and thirty-seven varieties of tea in the pantry --
so, really,
I lack nothing.

He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name's sake.

Last week, Lord,
on a stressful day,
You provided refreshing green scenery
and precious
and amusing memories
to keep me company.

Even when I go
through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff --
they comfort me.

You are with me.
You comfort me.
Truly, Lord,
I lack nothing.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love
will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Sometimes I feel that stress and exhaustion
and headaches pursue me --
but You promise that Your goodness and faithful love
will be with me every day.

(Psa. 24:7, 22:11, 23:1-6)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Praying with Psalm 19-21

The heavens declare the glory of God
and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.

O Creator God,
open my eyes to appreciate Your masterpieces!
Show me Yourself, at work and involved in Your creation.

The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.

Oh Lord, this new burden You have given me
is so heavy
I ask for wisdom
and a revival in my soul.

...Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to You,
Lord my rock and my Redeemer.

my faults are far from hidden.
My impatience,
my lack of self-control,
my lack of faith in Your ability to empower me.
Forgive me...
strengthen me...
change me.

May He give you what your heart desires
and fulfill your whole purpose.

I have a friend in mind --
You know her name --
You know what she desires--
and I trust that You will
either bless her with fulfillment
or hold her close
while You lead her on a different path.

Be exalted, Lord,
in Your strength;
we will sing and praise Your might.

You are strong.
You are mighty.
I need You...
I trust You.

(Psa. 19:1, 7, 12, 14, 20:4, 21:13)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Praying with Psalm 18

I love You, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress,

and my deliverer,
my God, my mountain where I seek refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I was saved...

O Lord my strength,
You are the changeless dependable rock today
while I am uncertain and worried.
You are worthy of praise--
and I praise You for carrying me through last week--
and I praise You that Your strong arms will carry me through this one.

I called to the Lord in my distress,
and I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He pulled me out of deep waters.

...He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Oh Lord,
"distress" describes my emotions today;
I know You hear my cries to You,
and though I don't feel "rescued"
at this moment
the thought of Your delight in me
gives me joy.

Lord, You light my lamp;
my God illuminates my darkness.

God--His way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is pure.
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is a rock? Only our God.
God--He clothes me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

My lamp on a dark day,
my guide when the way is foggy,
my shield and my refuge
when life overwhelms...
Clothe me with strength, Lord.
Be my rock!

(Psa. 18:1-3, 6, 16, 19, 28)


I'd like to comment on the current Homeschooling battle in a California court, but I'm too tired.
Arby's blog is eloquent on this subject today:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Home Decor

Woman Diving into Cup of Coffee
Woman Diving into Cup of Coffee

We're making some changes in our home decor. Our new theme for the guest bathroom is coffee and tea, and I ordered this poster. It reminds me of the theme song from the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries (a delightful mystery series on DVD; Diana Rigg plays Mrs. Bradley).

I already have a knickknack shelf with ten china cream pitchers in that room, so we're off to a good start.

We've had red and pink roses dictating the color scheme in this room for awhile, and it's time for a change.
A month or two ago, my husband and I looked around our home and said, "Our decor no longer reflects US." Much of our decor was purchased or gifted to us ten years ago, and our personalities have changed and expanded since then. We'd like our house to be a little less foofy.
I describe our style as "Grandmother's Cottage." The grandmother of my imagination grew up in the Victorian era and loved the dignity and beauty of Victorian style, but travelled around the world later in her life (perhaps in the 30s) and her home is a blending of Victorian china, vintage travel posters, and photos of Irish landscapes as well as old European churches. Perhaps Grandmother is a bit like Aunt Ada Doom (in Cold Comfort Farm) after Flora awakens her spirit of adventure.
I found this cheaper on ebay:
Oh dear...I just remembered I have Meditation in the closet, waiting for a frame. I'm not sure the colors will blend with the others, but all the pictures have green in common, which happens to be my favorite color:
I guess the walls are full now....

Friday, March 7, 2008

other blogs

I agree with this: a call for homeschoolers to unite...and collect public school horror stories...

and I have a question about some blogs I've read lately (not Arby's blog in the above link). Why do some bloggers put music on their blogs? I tend to read blogs while watching tv (and the music doesn't blend well with Bones or American Idol or my favorite Britcoms) or while the kids are napping (and obviously I want it quiet during that time -- but I forget to turn off the sound til coming across one of these blogs). So why the music on the blogs?

Links to Irish Food

St Patrick's Day is coming soon!

There's a link here to Helen Mirren's recipe for Colcannon, corned beef cupcakes, and many more recipes:

a gift to myself

I bought this lovely necklace from (there's a link on the right hand side to her etsy store.

Friday Funny

A story from the airplane trip yesterday:

As we flew over BigDesertCity, a couple behind me were obviously visiting for the first time. The man seemed to have done a bit of research and was pointing out the sights to the wife. They were amazed at "all those houses in straight rows." They observed the many swimming pools and gasped at the lack of trees. And then the man stated very seriously, "Water is very precious to these people."

As one of "these people" I suddenly felt like a member of an obscure desert tribe being documented by National Geographic. Especially when he followed this with another serious statement in a thoughtful amazed voice: "Imagine...imagine...people actually want to live here."

Thankfully my seatbelt kept me from rolling in the aisle with laughter.

I have updated my blog now, and the posts about my trip begin with last Friday, February 29.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

waiting to board the plane

I'm at the Portland Airport, waiting to board my plane back to the desert in just a few moments. It's been almost a week since I saw my husband and my kids. I miss them -- and I miss my husband's cooking!

It's been emotionally exhausting and I am so happy to be on this final leg of the journey.

The Lord has continuously reminded me that my identity as His child and His beloved has not changed -- even as my role with my father changes, and as I have been missing my beloved husband so very much!

I want to give a big compliment to Enterprise Rent a Car. The friendliness of their staff is admirable. And when I pulled up to their return center today, a staff member opened my car door, called me by name, and handed me a receipt. Nothing to sign, no fumbling for my own papers about the rental, just thanks for my business, and simple directions to the terminal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

one more day...

Tomorrow I get to go home!!!!! I am more than ready. I miss my husband so very much...and of course my kids too.

Today I had financial errands to run, and I took my dad to lunch. After looking for a restaurant he recommended...which he told me was in a different town than its actual location...we finally found it. We walked through the doors and I suddenly realized I'd been there before. When I was pregnant with Faith, my husband and I had met some of his coworkers there. It is a smoky place filled with the odors of years of fried food. I would advise pregnant women to stay far far away from this restaurant!

My dad and I both ordered salads...which took half an hour to arrive...and mine was a really crummy salad!

I met my aunt for a snack a little later and I had a better salad with her.

I did not sleep well last night. The stress of taking over my dad's financial affairs, interacting with this man who no longer seems very much like my dad, being away from my husband, and driving for eight hours yesterday has left me weak and mush-brained.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

a trip home

What a long day! I drove to Smalltown on the Washington coast, and its neighboring town of Hickville. Neither of these towns has been economically prosperous for years, and it looks as if nothing has changed. I had to visit some credit unions to withdraw money for my dad's care, and I visited his new assisted living center. They'll have a room for him in a couple weeks. Although it's in Hickville, it is a pleasant place with a caring environment, and I think he will be very happy here. I know he will find that he knows many of the residents.

(Okay, of course...those aren't the real names of those towns. But if you saw them you'd understand.)

I did find a decent cup of chowder at a riverside Seafood market. Not the most fabulous chowder I've ever eaten (that was in Ireland...) but better than we find in our desert metropolis.

I was able to put aside the stress...part of the time...and just enjoy the green hillsides and the trees and the clouds.

My dad sent me on a bit of a wild goose chase; he really wanted me to visit my mom's friend who is in a nursing home. He called me this morning to tell me that this friend was not doing well and not expected to live. He didn't want me to be shocked by her frail appearance. I thought this was extremely thoughtful of him to tell me this...but he left out one important detail.

I went to the nursing home. They said she was no longer there but she might be at the hospital. I drove to the hospital, and hesitated for a moment outside as I realized that not only was this my birthplace but also the place my mom died. In fact I had not visited that particular hospital since the last time I saw my mom. I asked the front desk attendant and they did not have my mom's friend on their patient list. This was not a wasted trip though, because from the hospital parking lot (built on a hill), there's a beautiful panoramic view of Smalltown and Hickville and the hills and the Harbor surrounding them. The clouds were particularly lovely this afternoon, and it was a great reminder that though my hometown looks a bit ragged, it was a beautiful place to grow up.

Tonight I called my dad when I reached Salem, and he said, "Oh, your mom's friend isn't in Smalltown anymore, she's in Olympia." That's an hour away from Smalltown and I was nowhere near there today!

I had tea with a friend who lives near Hickville: a refreshing break.

So....a very long exhausting day full of driving and memories and beautiful scenery.

Monday, March 3, 2008

very weak and weary indeed

A friend and I did a lot of sorting at my dad's house today.
A bit of Royal Albert china, a lot of junk.
20 credit cards.
A debt total that is unbelievable.
Tomorrow I have to drive to my dad's hometown, four hours each way....
and I'm not used to driving more than 25 minutes from home.
So many details, so many burdens.
I pray the prayer of St. Patrick often
("Christ as a light, illumine and guide me,
Christ as a shield overshadow me;
Christ over me, Christ under me,
Christ beside me on my left and my right....")
because I need illumination,
and the surrounding presence of God.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

off to Salem

This afternoon I got a rental car and drove to Salem. My dad is currently in an assisted living center not far away. I'm staying with my husband's aunt and her family. Their home is always a pleasant and refreshing place.

I saw my dad for a little while this evening; it was the first time I'd seen him since last July. Our plan is to move him to an assisted living center in his home town. Well, a little town next to his home town to be specific. He would rather go back to his house near Salem, but that is not possible anymore. An assisted living center near all his friends back home is the only thing that convinced him to stay in an assisted living situation.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday in Portland

A soft rain is falling outside and I am delighting in the many shades of gray sky and green hills. I hope to find a cup of clam chowder at some point during this trip -- a decent chowder is difficult to find at home in the desert.

My friend spoke at the session this morning, sharing some of her own spiritual journey, as well as insights on the life of the Mary. Of course she did a lovely job, and it was so special to be present for this.

In the afternoon we went to Saturday Market. I purchased several small decor items.

This evening we went to a Morroccan Restaurant. This was a new and fabulous experience for me! The food was so flavorful, but there was no hot spiciness. The flavors were blended in unusual and enjoyable combinations. My favorite was something similar to this:

Tonight my back was really hurting so I skipped the evening session and came back to our room to lie down...and have a long phone conversation with my husband about the fabulous Morroccan food!