Thursday, February 26, 2015

Family Time

 Last Thanksgiving our nephew Luke was with us from Seattle. He is a photographer there, and owns his own company 'By Luke'. We took advantage of his skills, and had several family photos taken. Since many of our family have not seen these yet, I am posting them to share. Above is our granddaughter Macy, age 7.
 This is us with our two daughters Joy and JoAnn and part of Joy's family.
 It has been many years since the two of us had a photo taken, so we indulged. Luke set up shop in our living room and these are the results.
 The insurance man and I (alias Papa and Grammie) with two of our 12 grandchildren, Kory age 21, and Macy.
 My mother and father-in-law, Larry and Bethel. SUCH a nice photo.
Another view of the two of us, plus a black and white that I edited.

Luke did such a nice job, and was kind and patient throughout.
Thanks Luke!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

West Coast and East Coast Perspectives

So much in life depends on our perspective. Is it winter or is it spring? February has brought winter finally to Julie in West Virginia. Frigidly cold temperatures and snow and ice.

Here is her shoveled walkway from the car to the house. The trees are barren and the ground crunchy.

And the car must be left at the top of the driveway to make sure they can get out.
But....February has brought an extraordinarily early spring to Oregon on the opposite Coast. All day people have been phoning to say that they have blooming flowers. In Washington State where Joy lives, she says the daffodils and daphne are blooming. I have rhubarb and tulips up, and flower buds on the quince. And as you can plainly see, pussy willows a-plenty. What a great armload we harvested last Saturday. So for today, here's to winter and to spring and all the in-between days.
Pussy Willows
"Close your eyes
and do not peek,
and I'll rub Spring
across your cheek"
by Aileen Fisher

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fighting Cultural Aesthetic Relativism

"The world may believe there’s no standard for beauty, but the Word says otherwise."

"My view is this, that there are, however difficult they might be to define and to wield, that there are objective standards for quality and beauty, including quality and beauty in music. I do not buy the lie that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But rather, there are standards of excellence, standards of beauty. That is why the Scripture calls us in the Psalms to play excellently, to play beautifully before the Lord. And I think that we have done the world a disservice when we have rolled over on this issue, when we have embraced aesthetic relativism.
Isn’t it odd that Christians are rightly, jealously fighting against epistemological relativism, the idea that there is no true or false, and fighting that same good fight against ethical relativism, arguing that there is no good and bad. We are arguing that in fact there is, and that God is the standard. And yet when it comes to beauty, the third great virtue, which is an end in and of itself along with goodness and truth, beauty we are willing to concede is in the eye of the beholder. Well, I am willing to concede that—as long as we understand that the beholder is God. When He says to bring our best, when he calls us to worship Him in the beauty of holiness, we had better not say “beautiful to whom?”
Friends, let’s be careful about the cultural bromides that we find ourselves swallowing. We Christians, of all people, who worship a God who is three-in-one, complexity harmonized in the ultimate beauty, should be defenders of the objectivity of beauty."
Dr. RC Sproul Jr

I receive a podcast most days from RC Sproul Jr, and since this blog is dedicated to God's beauty in the world around us I decided his quote this morning was worth a repeat here. As a piano teacher and lover of music, I have wrestled with this issue for several years in the field of music. However, it is repeated in all aspects of the Arts in our culture. Hope you will join me in the fight against cultural aesthetic relativism.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A New Kitchen Look

 At Christmas time my cousin Beckie wrote to tell me that she wanted to give me a table and chairs that my Aunt and Uncle had owned. The table came from my grandparents, Guy & Mabel Erskine, and the chairs my Aunt & Uncle purchased to go along with the table. Beckie knows my love of family history, and it fits perfectly with my taste and decorating style. (An extra plus is that I just love the set, and have many happy memories of meals around it. Doesn't the idea of many delicious meals served make a dinning table extra rich?). We made a quick trip to pick the set up this past week-end, and today on Presidents Day had our first breakfast together. I can't begin to express my delight.
 The table legs had been cut down at some point in its life, and the table was currently on casters, but the insurance man removed them as he didn't want me rolling it around and scratching the oak floor. He quickly made some temporary risers yesterday, to make it the right height, and will be working on a permanent fix.
 I love oak, and the chairs are so comfortable and the carving so pretty on the chair backs. This really is a perfect fit for our kitchen and needs.
A few years ago, Beckie also passed on to me this wonderful dresser used by the same grandparents at their Oregon farm, and then by her mother and father. Next to it is a small oil lamp that her father, my Uncle Roy, used as a child. I painted the lamp holder for him as a gift about 40 years ago. Beckie and her brother were kind enough to also pass this along to me, and I view it as a real treasure. Next to that is a bed that belonged to a great aunt in the same family. My house is full of family inherited things, and I admit my sentimentality and love of things old. I wonder in which home these pieces will next reside? I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Elias Story #4

     Elias sat holding a somewhat cool cloth on Cecelia's forehead. He was sweating and uncomfortable, both from the heat and from being cooped up indoors. Hannah had asked him to stay this afternoon and help out as she had her sick baby Ellis to look after. Elias looked around the small, smelly, stifling room, at the crowded cots and all the sick people. Most were shaking, lying with their eyes closed, but a few were groaning and moving around restlessly. Several cots made strange clicking sounds on the wooden floor as the occupants shook. Elias saw women he knew from town and nearby farms looking after their own, plus the ones who didn't have anyone to tend them. They were all at the log church in town, which was being used as a makeshift hospital. It was late summer and as the sickness raged, church was being held outdoors as people came to pray each evening.
     Looking back at Cecelia he felt relief that she was still and asleep. He noticed the doctor moving around giving some white powder and then a spoonful of water to the sick folks. He knew the powder sometimes made people worse, and he watched as the doctor only stopped and gave it to adults and the bigger children. The dreaded ague came each midsummer, and last year their one year old sister Ella had died. Now Cecelia was sick, and Hannah was rocking baby Ellis in the corner. Elias gently took the cloth from Cecelia, and dropping it in the basin on the floor he stood abruptly. He hated being around the sick, as it reminded him of Modder. He stretched and squirmed, then sat back down on the stool. He looked out the only window at the gathering clouds and knew that before nightfall a storm would be upon them.
     Elias wished for a distraction, and suddenly one appeared, but not one of his liking. One of the women started wailing, and the sound raised the hair along the back of his neck. He suddenly wanted nothing more than to bolt out the door. The other women quickly gathered around her, laying comforting arms around her shoulders, but she would not be comforted, and finally had to be pulled outside. Elias could see a small child in the cot they left behind, lying unnaturally still, and he could still hear the woman's moans through the thick walls. He took a deep breath and turned back to stare at eight year old Cecelia. She still slept, though her breathing came hard and uneven, and her face was blotchy and bright with fever. The doctor had told Hannah and Fadder that she was a strong and healthy child and should come through just fine, but now Elias wasn't so sure. He reached down, wrung the wet cloth, again laying it across the plastered strands of hair on her brow. He wished there was more he could do to relieve her. The narrow wood cot was low to the floor and Cecelia looked crooked and uncomfortable lying there. On the floor beside the cot was a white basin of lukewarm boiled water, and another basin for when Cecelia was sick. There had not been much use for that one today, as she hadn't eaten in over a week. Elias didn't mind washing it out, as it gave him an excuse to go outside and just breathe.
     Elias looked up as he heard the first crack of thunder. The air was thick with heat, pain, and sick smells and pushed against his face and nose. He thought of Fadder haying and wished he could be out helping him in the fields. He hoped the crew of men finished before the rain came. He stood up once again, and then his eyes were drawn to Hannah in the corner. She made no sound, but by the way Ellis lay drooped across her lap and her head lay on her chest, Elias knew that they had lost another baby. The closer women gathered around her, and one took the precious bundle from her lap. Elias felt a wave of helpless frustration well up, but also a reluctance to go near the dead baby. He heard the cot moving behind him and turned to see Cecelia struggling to sit up and shaking all over.
     "What is it Elias? What's happened?"
     "Lay back now, 'tis nothing much."
He pushed her back and pulled the thin blanket over her shaking arms. She looked at him with her clouded blue eyes, knowing full well that he wasn't telling her the whole truth. However, she must have decided she didn't really want to know, as she did not repeat her question. He sat by her side and again wetted down the cloth. Through her quivering lips she asked,
     "Elias, if I die do you think I will be with Modder?"
     "Do not talk about dyin, Celia. You will get better soon and be back at the farm as usual." He awkwardly patted her shaking arm under the sheet.
     "But do you?" she persisted in asking him again.
     "Yes, I think that any of us will join Modder when our time comes" he said thoughtfully. "Now drink some water and rest."
      He held her up while she sipped at the water, but between her shakes she didn't get down much. He noticed that her lips were bluish, and her breath came in short gasps until her laid her back down.      
      Suddenly a loud roaring sound swept over them, and Elias looked to see hailstones pelting down past the window. He jumped up and ran to the door. The hail was thick, sizzling as it streaked through the hot air, and the ice balls pounded the ground furiously, as if to take revenge on the stifling heat. A huge roll of thunder and a loud crack of lightening overhead underscored the intensity of the storm and the room and the sickness. Elias was sharply aware that their crops and their lives were in danger.

In memory of:

Ella Vista Williams  1850-1851

Ellis Williams  1852-1852

*Augue was the English word for Malaria.
The Williams lived in the Black Swamp area of Ohio, and each summer the mosquitoes would transmit the disease.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sweetness In a Sweater

Jameson Peter, 3 weeks old, wearing his dapper sweater made by his Aunt JoAnn!

Starting the Year Off Right

The insurance man and I took advantage of our great weather on the West Coast, and slipped away for a few days at the Oregon Coast.
It was beautiful, as you can see the blue sky, and warm with little wind. We could hardly believe it was January. This was our friend next door.
There was lots of driftwood on the beach from previous storms, and these accommodating trees were a great place to sit and ocean watch.
We found some good hunting areas, and managed to find several whole shells, still intact. The shell on the top row, 2nd from right, had a little baby shell stuck in its curl, and was so very precious.
Lots of agates being turned in the waves and sand. This is one of our favorite hobbies, finding treasures.