Friday, August 31, 2012

Every Child Should Have an Aunt Effie

Mom (in purple) and Aunt Effie (in pink)

Let’s have more Aunt Effies in the world.
She’s the aunt who always has something that just came out of the oven.
If that something is chocolate chip bars with gooey meringue topping it is elevated to SOMETHING.

While you know Aunt Effie prefers her own children, you are certain she would have been happy had you also been her child.

She sees you sneak a second gooey chocolate chip bar but pretends not to notice even though you know she noticed. So you don’t need to be told to help her clear the dishes from the table.

But Aunt Effie will tell you not to worry about clearing up. Just go play with the cousins.

An Effie-type of aunt blithely ignores your ugly-duckling phase, no matter how many decades it lasts. She will always find something to compliment, even if it is just a different part in your hair.

The Aunt Effies of the world hug like mom and praise like mom and laugh at lame jokes like mom but never scold like mom. Yet they make sure you always know your mom is the greatest and scolds because she loves you. Even though all Aunt Effies thinks you are almost perfect.

An Aunt Effie never sits down, but moves from table to sink, from oven to husband, from niece to nephew, from the fragile elderly to the fragile child, and brings warmth and gentling and contentment along with her.
She is tired but tells you she is fine.
Her heart is hurting and she’ll say how it makes her happy to see your smiling face. And you realize that you were, in reality, pouting, but she isn’t being sarcastic. She is just looking at your petulant expression and bathing it in love.

Did you have an Aunt Effie? You are richer and better because of her.
If not, try to be one. (or the male equivalent) You don’t need a niece or a nephew. Even if there is no blood connection, every child should have an Aunt Effie.

A week ago I had an Aunt Effie. Now she is in heaven with the ever-expanding number of her loved ones.
Those who knew her as Wife, Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma mourn.
And so do we–the ones who knew her as Aunt Effie.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flutes by the Lake

My friend hosted a flute concert at her home on the lake. If you want to know real joy, skip around the shores of a lake at sunset, taking pictures to the tootling of flutes. It is sublime.

A neighbor sat out on her pier to enjoy the rhapsody

The Little Mermaid showed up,

and delighted us all with her dance in the water.

May your weekend be filled with all kinds of music.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wood feels no pain

There came a moment at one of my high school spiritual retreats when the leader encouraged us to write on a sheet of paper some of our besetting sins.
Then we all walked up to a wooden cross and thumbtacked our folded sins someplace into the sticks.
It was moving. Really. We sat back down and the girls all cried and the boys all looked somber and the leader (I am guessing) offered a silent prayer that we would understand the message he was trying to illustrate.
‘Bring your burdens to the cross and leave them there.’  ‘Your sins are forgiven.’

I thought I understood, as far as is possible for a dense, fallible, forgetful mortal.
At various times over the years, when besetting sins would beset with a vengeance
I have pictured that cross and all it represents (or, again, as much as my limited mind can grasp). Folded sheets of paper thumbtacked to some twigs bound together with twine. It didn’t matter that the twigs weren’t as bone-breakingly heavy as the real cross, or that thumbtacks weren’t as deadly as spikes.
It was just important to understand what these symbols represented.

What they represented?

It took me decades to finally see, in part, what the symbols represent.
It does no good to tack sins onto a piece of wood.
Wood can’t save me.
Those tacks–those spikes–had to be driven through the layers of skin and blood-filled veins. Every sin, EVERY SIN, including the myriad I don’t even recognize, were pounded into flesh screaming with mangled nerve endings.
For my sins to be nailed to the cross they first have to be beaten into a vulnerable, fully human, pain-wracked body.
It is more pleasant to picture my selfishness, pride, gluttony, impatience, sloth and greed nailed to a couple of sticks of wood.
Wood feels no pain.
But wood offers me no hope.
‘My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.’
May the memory of evil and outrages pounded into the body of my Best Friend, my older Brother, my Lord, cause me
such grief that I have no desire to sin with impunity.
And when I picture the empty cross may I rejoice that it is truly empty. My sins aren’t there, and neither is my Savior.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fitness in the Raspberry Filling Years

It never ends. 
Women in the subprime of their lives are not allowed to be pleasingly plump and happy about it. We see TV interviews with great-grandmothers who run marathons. 
Actresses who were old enough to know better 20 years ago still choose to appear in the altogether. 
Diana Nyad is in her 60’s. She recently cavorted in the ocean before TV cameras in a swimming suit. For the love of Mike. Many of us would rather moonwalk past Buckingham Palace with our 80’s perm rather than wear a swimsuit in public.

Middle age spread has descended to the status of the bubonic plague. It must be avoided at all costs.

Some of us defy public scrutiny, don a one-piece swimsuit and head to the health club pool. Others lace up the walking shoes and hit the pavement. Some perch on stationary or gallivanting bikes, ignore the pain in the posteriors, and pedal their way to thinner thighs.
But what about the woman who, as detailed above, does not aspire to swimsuit exposure? How about those among us whose knees and ankles protest at the punishment of pounding and pressure? Whose hindquarters have no desire to be permanently numbed?

Two words, dear raspberry filling friends.
Hula Hoop.
Half an hour with a hula hoop and you’ll burn off 200 calories. Swivel your way through a rerun of ‘Murder, She Wrote’, and you’ll have shaken off your lunch.
Just like that. No pressure on joints, no special clothes, no expensive equipment, and only 1 caveat.
Unless you are pint-sized, chances are you can’t use your kids’ old hula hoop from the garage.
You could order an adult-sized one and pay money.
You could make one. Like I did. Via my husband.
Just sweet talk someone into giving you some old flexible water line. We used 3/4”. Measure it so that, when looped, it hits between your...upper hip and upper ribcage.

Connect the 2 ends with a connector. We (as in my husband with my enthusiastic approval) used a piece of 1/2” tubing to connect the ends to each other.
Wrap it with electrical tape and
Your own custom made hula hoop. You can get funky and decorate it, or you can keep it rustic.
Wait till everyone is out of the house, make sure the breakables are out of the spin zone, turn on the TV or the dance tunes. Sashay, shimmy, and get down with your own bad, ever-skinnier self.
Because that’s how Raspberry Filling Women roll.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Didn't Want to Clean House Last Saturday... instead I

admired a few dozen turkeys in the front yard at dawn, while resolving to never walk outside barefoot again,
went to eat with Husband and College Boy at a cool diner, where

I remembered to take a photo only after I had eaten half my veggie Egg's Benedict on hash browns, and it was looking less than appetizing,

but did try to get artsy with the ice cream dishes against this wall that I want in my kitchen but my husband won't give me,
and empathized with the delicious longing filling the very being of these little girls.

This is not an exhaustive list of the pie menu at the diner,
which is why it earns this title. Then, instead of going home and ironing,

I dragged the men to this Farmer's Market,
where we admired this sign, and bought as many veggies as the cash in my pocket would cover.

I pretended to do something useful in the afternoon, but when College Boy abandoned us for folks his own age,
I dragged Husband and Pup to this tucked-away conservatory.
Hot-air balloons are a common site in our area.

Unfortunately, so is damaged corn.

 An Interstate Runs Through It. technically it runs alongside the conservancy but that doesn't sound as poetic.

Anyone else remember the Sunday School song 'He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills'? I whistled it on our entire walk after seeing these serene bovines.
We stumbled upon this wonderful little rock garden. The cows are only 15 feet away.

We headed home to a messy house with full hearts. I may have to repeat it all tomorrow.

Have a weekend full of unexpected delights!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Pair and a Spare

Here are my three slow cookers.
Why, you may wonder, would a woman whose children no longer live at home need so many slow cookers?
Daddy, Mommy, and Baby Slow Cooker?
It is linked to my obsessive need for a spare of almost everything.
Because you NEVER KNOW.
I don’t keep the little coffee pot in the background solely for its looks. If my Bunn breaks down on the same day all the Starbucks go out of business, we’ll still have our morning brew.

In my walk-in pantry are 3 lunch pails for my 1 husband, 2 coffee thermoses, 2 coffee carafes, FOUR igloo water coolers of various shapes and colors, and 2 sets of mixing bowls for a Kitchen Aid. This does not include the half dozen mixing bowls in my kitchen cupboards.
Is there room for food?
Not hardly.

On the premise that one can never have enough serving spoons I own 8.  2 full sets of pots and pans, including 6 frying pans live in my kitchen. Need a 9x13? I have 5. You can borrow one, but bring it back or I’ll have to buy another.

Like attracts like.
In the garage you can visit my husband’s baker’s dozen 32-gallon trash cans, his million-and-a-half nails and screws, two table saws and his THIRTEEN hand saws.
Granted, the man is a contractor. But he only has 2 hands, for pity’s sake.
He also has close to fifty 5-gallon pails with lids but he has my blessing for those.
If our power ever goes out and we can’t use our toilets I have a nice little pail-sized seat.
When finished all we need to do is put the lid on and bury the pail 100 feet deep. Good thing my man also has 15 shovels, spades and hoes.

Don’t worry that we are hoarders. All our stuff works. We use (most of) it. And if we wanted to we could get rid of our spares any time.
But we’ll hang onto them for now.
Because you never know when you’ll need 6 frying pans and 13 handsaws.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When the nest is empty but you’re still in fine feather

If you google ‘Top Blogs for Women’ you’ll find sites to help you start a business, improve your business, get a raise, make money from home, make jams at home, and make crafts from jam jars.
Your kids are bored? Mommy blogs teach you to teach your kids crafts and cooking and CPR and subsistence agriculture and marine biology using simple objects from around the house.
Your house is boring? Have you never heard of Pinterest?
If you aren’t frugal, organized, stress-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, pain-free, debt-free, and germ-free it isn’t the fault of the blogger world.

But what if you are dependent-child-free?
Where are the blogs for women who no longer need to be on high alert EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY to keep their offspring from tearing apart the known universe and blaming it on a sibling?
How do women who have spent a few dozen years trying to get food on the table and wiped off every other surface of the house learn to wind down but still feel productive?
How do we keep from turning into my old neighbor Ellen, who, once her children left home, could never get out of the habit of doing 3 loads of laundry a day and putting up 200 jars of pickles every fall?

Here we are at the Raspberry Filling Years. Sandwiched between sponge cake layers of motherhood and grandmotherhood, or, for those of us without children, between layers of building a career and looking forward to retirement.

Yes, there is always online Scrabble. There are part-time jobs and volunteer work and caring for aging parents and being on the lookout for potential spouses for our unattached children and wondering when the heck we will be able to put all our wisdom to use as a grandmother. But some of us have something new: extra time. How do we fill it? Where is our blog?

As a good prude who never shirks her duty, I plan to add a weekly segment called ‘The Nest is Empty but You are Still in Fine Feather’.
Because Raspberry Filling Women need a voice.

Friday, August 10, 2012


If a prude ran the Olympics,
NBC would not have cut away from an opening ceremony tribute to terrorist attack victims for an interview by Ryan Seacrest with Michael Phelps. Seacrest and Phelps are, of course, quiet and elusive, and coverage of them is tough to come by. But America missed an opportunity to join in mourning, we missed the opportunity to hear the old hymn ‘Abide With Me’ sung with pure simplicity by Emile Sande, and we lost the chance to prove to the secular world that Christian hymnody is not limited to ‘Amazing Grace’.

If a prude ran the Olympics, 

she would have hired better uniform pattern inspectors.
Somehow the pattern for the female gymnasts uniforma, with its deficient bottom coverage, got flipped upside down and sent to the tailor for the female swimmers. As expected,the deficient coverage moved to the top. The result was that our women gymnasts and swimmers spent precious muscle and concentration pulling and tugging and tucking themselves into their suits.

If a prude ran the Olympics,

she would remind newscasters that syllables are not in such short supply that we can’t spare a few and refer to the gold medal tumblers as the ‘Women’s Gymnastic Team’ instead of the ‘Fab Five’. Announcers have no problem wasting literally billions of syllables in their commentaries. Why the sudden coyness with the gymnasts? C’mon folks. Throw caution to the winds and splurge on those extra four syllables. Please.

If a prude ran the Olympics, 

she would argue that, although honoring our roots is a good thing, and tradition is dandy, let’s not return to the days of the original Olympics in ancient Greece and have our athletes perform in the all-together. No doubt the male divers are just being all historical and nostalgic with their ‘almost all-together’ Speedos, but some notions from the good old days are better disregarded.

If a prude ran the Olympics,

she would spot all the female runners a couple hundredths of a second. Then they could wear a nice pair of sweats and wouldn’t have to worry about lack of aerodynamics.

If THIS prude ran the Olympics she would demand that whenever the Dutch win a gold medal, we televise the ceremony. We could watch the winner on the platform sing these stirring words of the national anthem of the Netherlands, and get all teared up:

William of Nassau am I, of Germanic descent;

True to the fatherland I remain until death.

Prince of Orange am I, free and fearless.

To the King of Spain I have always given honour.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Which Olympic Flavor are You?

I couldn't help myself. Watching the Olympics made me want to dig up a bunch of sports photos.
Here is my tribute to athletes of all makes and models–anyone who plays for the love of the game.
NOT ping pong. We call it 'Table Tennis'

Equestrian event akin to dressage

Competitive wall climbing
Badminton (Goodminton?)

Headless basketball
By the time she's old enough, hula-hooping will be an Olympic event
Rhythmic volleyball
Precipitation volleyball
Petitioners volleyball
Contact frisbee
Grimace football
Squeezable football

Terrier tetherball
Synchronized karate