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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today's Programming is being interrupted by ... well... Life

I found the gorgeous picture above from this website. Can I please, please, pretty please be transformed to that place? It looks like living inside a Jane Austen novel.

Life has taken a pretty distressing turn for our little family these days. We're struggling to find answers to a major decision. I'm having a difficult time coming up with lighthearted, fun things to say, so I will be taking a little break from my blog for a while so I can deal with the roller coaster life has put us on.

Hopefully I won't be long. And hopefully when I come back, I'll be feeling fun and full of enjoyment again.

Meanwhile, I'll close with the words of the hymn my mother used to sing to me as a lullaby when I was a baby. It has a significant importance to me these days:

How gentle God's commands!
How kind his precepts are!
Come cast your burdens on the Lord
And trust his constant care.

Beneath his watchful eye,
His Saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard his children well.

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav'nly Father's throne
And sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I'll drop my burden at his feet
And bear a song away.

How Gentle God's Commands, page 125
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Hymnbook (1985)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Living in a Park

When my parents first split up, my dad moved around a lot.

He lived in a little apartment just blocks from our house for a while. It was a drab and depressing place, but I loved that he lived on the 2nd floor because I could throw my little parachute men off the railing and watch them float down to the ground. I'd run down the stairs, scoop them up, run back up the stairs and throw them again - over and over.

For a while, he lived in the next town over. The water tasted terrible, the house was just plain weird, and his roommate was constantly throwing parties with odd people around. But my sister, the pyromaniac, enjoyed the wood burning stove in the living room. I loved waking up to the sound of the neighbor's rooster and the chickens that would wander through the broken fence into the back yard.

At one point, he moved from one house he'd been living in to a house right across the street! I found it really funny when he and his roommate moved because we just trekked across the street with furniture and boxes. No moving truck or even pickup needed! I don't remember much of the first house, but the second house had a huge yard with flowers growing everywhere. I spent many a day sitting in the tree in the back yard with a good book.

But it was the tiny house in the park that was the most memorable for me. It wasn't much of a house. My dad's bedroom was literally only wide enough to fit his bed. I don't remember much from the inside of the house, but we had the whole world right outside the door!

The house was the only on-site-built house among a group of mostly trailers that were located at the top of a nature park in our town. I couldn't tell you why there were houses in that particular spot, but I have wonderful memories of going on adventures with my dad out there.

We would start down one of the many small trails through the trees.
Picture at top and this one from here.

Along the way, we would come to little streams that we would need to cross.
In some places, someone before us would have placed rickety old boards over the streams to make the crossing easier.

If we were lucky, we would see a deer peeking at us through the trees.

Sometimes Dad would tell us he had a surprise for us, and would take us someplace we hadn't been before.

One of those times, he took us to find the beaver dam he'd discovered.

No matter where our paths led us, we always ended up at the river.
There, he taught us how to skip stones. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to skip as many times as he could. (Still can't.)

After exploring and playing for hours, the sun would be lower in the sky - signalling that it was time to head back up the trail.

Through dimming light, he would point out the wild watercress growing on the side of the hill.

Once back at the house, we would throw on jackets to block out the now cooler air.

Then we would go back outside to roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fire pit behind the house.

The houses aren't there anymore. They were eventually moved away or leveled to make room for a new parking and picnic area. But those memories of hiking through those hills and trees with my dad will always be precious to me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Toute chose appartient à qui sait en jouir."

Beautiful photograph found here.

I do not claim to speak French. The quote in my post heading came from this website. According to them, it's a quote from André Gide, a famous French writer. Translated into English, it means "Everything belongs to those who appreciate it."

My sister was a French teacher. Her love of all things French started more than 20 years ago. She had taken Spanish all through high school, but her senior year she decided to take French as well.

She fell in love.

While she was always fluent in Spanish, the French language stole her heart. She got a teaching degree in college, but minored in French so she could teach it as well. At one point when she was in college, I painted a picture for her of the Eiffel Tower. I found out later that not only did she frame the painting, but she painted little fleur de les all the way around the frame.

When she and her husband were engaged, he had told her that their honeymoon location was a secret, but she would need her passport. My mother and I debated back and forth where he might be taking her. For me, there was no question - Paris. He was taking her to Paris.

I was right.
Gorgeous painting found here.

I'm not sure if he couldn't keep it a secret anymore, or if she got it out of him somehow, but he eventually told her where they were going.

Days before the wedding, we were in Arizona (which was MUCH hotter than I expected it to be that early in the spring!) spending time getting to know the new in-laws and getting things ready for the wedding. We had gone to a really interesting Asian market for some ingredients for that night's meal. At the front of their store, there was a case of the most beautiful pastries. My sister and I were admiring the pastries when she stopped, stood back and said "I don't know why I'm bothering to look at these. Next week, I'll be standing in a real French patisserie in Paris."

Made me laugh.
Drool-Worthy Picture found here.

Amazing bread picture found here.

I was never really interested in France. As far as Europe went, England and Italy were the places I dreamed of visiting.

But something has changed in the 4 years since my sister went Home.

Her love of Paris and all things French has started filtering into MY life.

My two favorite choices for music when I'm working in my kitchen are the French Kiss and No Reservations soundtracks - both are loaded with French music. For a couple years now, I find myself humming the song "Les Yeux Ouverts" by the music group Beautiful South. (It's the same melody as the song "Dream a Little Dream of Me", but I always hear the French words in my head.) I've had my eye on a 50's style step-stool that's been covered with French fabric. Someone on Pinterest posted a picture of a Kitchenaid mixer with French designs decoupaged on it, and I really want to do that on the red Kitchenaid my sister gave me.

I made a decision today that's been a long time coming.

My kitchen needs to be French.

I'm going to hang the Eiffel Tower picture I painted all those years ago in my kitchen, and I'll start adding French touches here and there in the room. I'm also going to buy that step-stool I've wanted since last fall.

My sister loved Paris and she loved to cook. What better place than my kitchen to be a tribute to a place she loved so dearly?