Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Silent Applause

Every Tuesday morning, as part of my chaplain ministry, I drive to a care center in a community not far from my home. I have grown to love and care for the residents there and in each of the facilities where I go each week. They are friends. Good friends. I know they feel the same. Their faces reflect what they do not say. I spend time with many of the residents, chatting and laughing and sharing in their lives and mine. Then I lead a time together we call HeartSongs - we sing the old hymns they love, I read a Bible passage and share a devotional thought, a story or illustration that applies that Scripture to our lives. We have a great time together and after I close in prayer I spend more time with them individually. As I drive away each week I feel that I am the one who is truly blessed.

Yesterday morning as I was about to begin, the Activity Director and the Administrator stopped me for a special presentation. They said some kind words of appreciation and gave me this cute gift bag.I was overwhelmed. I wish you could have seen the joyful faces of the residents. They were thrilled! I asked if they would like me to open it right then. A big "yes" and I knew they wanted to enjoy my pleasure with their gift of honor. Chocolate. More chocolate. A sweet "Helping Hands" bookmark. And a framed thank you that nearly brought tears to my eyes. Then, a look at the faces of the residents in wheelchairs all around me and I knew. If they could they would be standing and applauding. I could hardly contain it. These precious people, many who have been part of my life for nearly three years, felt honored and delighted to honor me! And to say thank you!

There are few things that have brought me such joy as the privilege of being a chaplain in healthcare settings, especially in care centers and assisted living homes. To make a difference in the lives of dear people who often feel cut off from life outside. They love to hear of simple things. Things like what I will have for dinner. Or what my family is doing. They long to know what the world is doing while they sit quietly through the long hours each day. Some cannot speak but they respond with a smile or a nod. The ladies love to hear me admire their outfit or their earrings or notice a new hairdo. The gentlemen would deny it but they love to hear me compliment them for their smile or tell them how nice their shirt looks on them. A smile, a chuckle, a nod of the head and I know that they appreciate being noticed as much as you and I do.

Yesterday as I stood and thanked them for the gifts and the honor they gave me I tried to tell them how I hold them dear to my heart. Words are so inadequate. But they heard it. Just as I heard their applause. Silent applause. Like no other I have ever heard before.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Stop Along The Way

After leaving Flourishes on Saturday we stopped in Washougal at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Outlet Store. I hadn't been there for several years and I was pleasantly surprised with the changes they have made and the merchandise they offer for sale. The store is filled with beautiful products made by Pendleton Woolen Mills. Behind the outlet store is the mill where Pendleton blankets are made. Tours are scheduled frequently. Several years ago I was part of a group that toured and watched the process from raw wool as it arrived and was prepared, then spun into yarn, dyed and woven into beautiful blankets. Blankets are for sale in the store as well as lovely men's and women's garments that are made at another location. Many of the garments are wool but you will also find silk, cotton and linen as well. The store is nicely arranged and decorated and the staff is friendly and helpful. While the merchandise is discounted, much of it is marked down more, some as low as 60% off the lowest marked price. One area of the store offers beautiful Pendleton woolen yardage for sale. I bought a pretty silk scarf and yardage to make a jacket. On the wall of the store is a big sign that looks like Pendleton's signature label that is on all of their products.This rack of Spring blouses caught my eye - it looks like candy! Blankets and throws have changed from past years. They used to all look alike in the style of Indian-woven blankets and rugs. Those patterns are still available but the colors and patterns have been updated to include pastels, checks, plaids, stripes and solids. Nearby, a bin of buttons. . .Millions of buttons.I wish my sweetheart could have seen these chairs! He has always dreamed of having a log cabin near a stream or lake. Somewhere near a good fishing and hunting spot. We often talk and joke about the decor for the dream cabin. He loves to tease me that it's all going to look like Indian-style blankets, with fish, deer, elk, moose and bear decor everywhere. No roses. No pastel colors. No lace. That would be fine with me. I think. When I saw these chairs I knew he would like them on the porch of his cabin!This totem pole in the center of the store is a typical Northwest artifact. Near the fabric section old tailoring and sewing items made a nice display. I'd love to have an old thread cabinet like this one. (See the ends of the wooden bobbins in the drawer?)I love antiques, including vintage sewing pieces. The store is tastefully decorated with old things from the wool handling and weaving process. This wooly fellow is a reminder of where the process begins. The wool goes to market.It is carded (combed and separated). . .Spun and wound onto bobbins for the looms. (See the old wooden bobbins on the side of the winder?) The process hasn't changed much over the years. While technology has sped up and improved the way wool is made into yarn and woven into fabric the age-old methods are proven and reliable.

If you are ever in my area I would love to take you to the Pendleton Mill and Outlet Store in Washington, just across the river from Portland. It's an adventure, for sure. I think you would enjoy the tour and I bet you would like the store!

(You can read about the history of Pendleton Woolen Mills and their blankets here.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Return To Flourishes

Not long ago I shared about my first visit to Flourishes on the hillside at Mt. Pleasant, in Washougal, Washington. On Saturday my dear friend and I returned once again to this special spot on the cliffs above the Columbia River. The skies were clear and sunny but chilly winds up on the bluff helped speed us along between the car and the entrance to the old gymnasium that was turned into a world of magic once again. As we stepped through the door our eyes were immediately drawn to the sweet umbrellas and crystal prism 'raindrops' that had been hung from the roof over our heads.April showers! How appropriate in the Pacific Northwest. As anticipated, treasures in abundance and sweet friends in attendance waited our arrival. Precious things. . .Plenty of pink things. . . And shelves filled with treasures.A sweet little girl in white almost came home with me but she needed to stay and meet more new friends!One shelf held the dearest little frame with the words of a precious 7-year-old girl: "If grandma's mommy is great-grandma and great-grandma's mommy is great-great-grandma. . . then, the older you are. . . the greater you get." You have it right, dear girl!Bassinets and beds and special places held delightful pillows. This elegant lady was my favorite.A banner of vintage pieces caught my eye. Nearby, a drawer of patchwork hearts.There was more - much more to see. Sweet vignettes of special things.Everywhere, something to enjoy.One last look before saying goodbye.

Despite the wind I wandered outside a bit, with camera in hand. A few moments to take in the beauty of this special place. The old Mt. Pleasant Schoolhouse has been turned into a home with character - oh, I'm sure there are millions of stories to tell, if it could.

This sweet boy stands on the patio table near big windows on the back.A magnificent old tree gives support to a swing that provides a few quiet moments in the rush of life.My heart longed to rest awhile in this dear swing. A place to rest. And think quiet thoughts. And enjoy the fantastic view. But the chilling winds gave cause for putting that plan on hold. Perhaps another day.And then one last look at the schoolhouse as I headed to meet my dear friend who was waiting for me with a warm car - and heated seats! A respite from the cold outside as we drove toward home. With a few stops planned along the way.

It was obvious that Aleta and Bill had once again worked very hard to make our time above the river something special. You don't have to wonder if they love what they are doing. But more special than what we saw was the genuine welcome that they gave. A warm hello, remembering my name, and a big smile of excitement to see me again. And a chance to share plans for more events at the special place they call home. I will return again and again and again. I hope someday you can join me there, too.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Consider The Lilies

I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Words of Jesus
Sermon On The Mount
Matthew 6:25-34

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Is My Kitchen Range Doing. . .

On the patio? Is my sweetheart about to build an outdoor kitchen? As much as I would love that idea, this is not exactly what I had in mind. And it's still too cold in our part of the world to even begin to think of cooking outside. So what's going on? Why did he move it outside?It's waiting for the used appliance man to pick it up! I have a 'new' stove in my constantly-in-process kitchen.We have been working on the re-do of our kitchen for what seems like years. Really we have! It's been done in bits and pieces as we could afford it or when we finally decided how we wanted the next step to be. And then there were times when grown children and grandkids moved in for a time and it wasn't wise to tear into wiring or plumbing or disengage the kitchen with little ones in the house. Now - we think!!! - we're nearing the finish. There's more to do. Soon. Hopefully!

We shopped for new stoves and ran into problems replacing our drop-in stove with a free-standing range. The counter is lower than standard. Just a bit. I wouldn't be happy with my stove standing taller than my counter top. We shopped for and priced drop-in ranges. Oooh, they are much more spendy. We discussed and debated and thought. I decided I could live with the old stove until it gave up. The problem: some of the burners were not level and there was no way to level them. They wanted to do their own thing! Not a problem with most food but try to fry an egg in a pan that goes downhill. We compensated for it by holding the handle until the egg began to cook. In our hearts we really wanted to replace the old dark stove with a new white one.

A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden thought. Look on Craigslist and see what kitchen stoves you find. I typed in "Drop in kitchen stove", hit search and Viola! There it was. Just posted a short time before. It seemed perfect except for one thing. In the picture it appeared to be the perfect size but the measurements given were too narrow for the opening in our cabinets. The seller listed the make and model number so I quickly searched to see what I could learn about this range. It is currently still on the market! Good. And the measurements were exactly what we needed. A couple of quick emails to and from the seller and he discovered that he had mis-measured. We made arrangements to go see the stove and soon we were there. It was perfect. Just what we needed. The seller was remodeling the kitchen in their nearly-new home and his wife wanted a different stove. The builder had installed this stove before they bought the house. The stove was in great shape, not used much and perfect for our little kitchen. We paid the man and headed home. Happy with our stove and eager to see how it would fit into our slowly emerging 'new' kitchen. The seller offered to refund our money if, for any reason, we weren't happy with it. The best part was the price. This stove lists for around $1,000. We paid $95!! Can't go wrong with a deal like that.One of these days I'll dig out pictures of the old kitchen so you can see what we have done. Big changes. More to come. Overhead cabinets, an over-the-stove microwave and a chance to get some pretty things out of boxes in the garage and attic. Oh, I just can't wait. Now we want to replace the refrigerator. Craigslist, here we come! Again!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of A White. . . Spring?

Spring has arrived in the Northwest. At least that's what we thought - until this last weekend. It didn't look like Spring and it didn't feel like Spring. Brrr, it was cold! Snow was predicted at higher elevations and there were possibilities of hail and snow in some lower places, too. Saturday afternoon I suddenly heard the sound of hail. I opened my door and stood to watch the downpour of white from the skies above. My sweetheart was out of town so I reached for my camera to share with him what happened here while he was away. Hail began to slowly cover the ground. It continued to fall, bouncing high as it hit the surface. Soon my neighborhood looked like a winter wonderland. Nothing was spared. The patio was covered and I think I saw the little Spring flowers shivering with the chill. Soon the streets were covered and became like ice. Motorists pulled over to wait for better conditions. As I watched through the storm door a motorcyclist slowed to a stop and waited under a big tree in the yard of my neighbor across the street. Then, as quickly as it began, it stopped. Traffic slowly began to move again. Later it was nearly gone. The local news reported that my town received the strongest hail storm in the area. They said it lasted for eight minutes. That's not what is usually reported for my little town at this time of year. We are often in the news for the beautiful acres and acres of tulip fields nearby. Or the beauty of Spring in our neighborhoods. And flower shows in pavillions at the fairgrounds in our community. Flowers. Beauty. Spring. But not a covering of white. Not this time of year. Not here!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Sun Is Shining

God makes the sun shine every day ~
even though it is sometimes hidden behind the clouds.

~ Corrie ten Boom ~

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Laundry Room Blues

My laundry room is a 'work in progress'. It's not yet what it will be. I enjoy seeing the laundry rooms of blog friends. Some have been thoughtfully decorated. Some are creative. Some are full of laundry-themed decor. And some display vintage treasures of all kinds.

My dear little mother's laundry room is like no other in her neighborhood, I'm sure. It's not unusual for a first-time visitor to enter her laundry room with a gasp of surprise. It is like walking into a lovely antique shop filled with all kinds of wonderful things. Her home is decorated with blue. Blues in all shapes and sizes. Her laundry room echoes the same hues. Pictures can't really do it justice. Words can't describe each carefully-placed thing that she has gathered and collected through the years. She has a special way of putting it all together. Many things are garage sale finds. Some were found in the recesses of little shops many years ago. Others were gifts from family and friends. Whatever you see, it was probably a bargain. And there is a story behind each wonderful piece.

Blue granite ware and utensils with blue handles are hung throughout the tiny room. My mother's great-grandmother crocheted the lace on the shelf near the ceiling.Corners are filled with treasures.
There are more around the corner. An old, wooden ironing board holds many things to see. And across the room, there's more above a little white dresser that held my baby clothes!No one notices the hot water heater that is nearly hidden. Reminders of laundry rooms in years past share the space. Don't be in a hurry. You need time to see things up close. Old coffee pots, a coffee grinder and a tiny metal teapot. Another shelf hold special teapots. And old, wooden pop box holds pretty little things. Look at this sweet old potholder. A lovely, old cookbook that belonged to my grandmother is tucked in between special treasures. An old blue dustpan and little broom stand nearby.Is there room to do the laundry? Yes. It's amazing how many things are in such a tiny, little room. Yet it feels open and spacious. My dear mother often tells me that this is part of my inheritance. She reminds me that when she is gone I can sell it all. I always say, "No, I'm going to put up a sign and open a museum!" Maybe we should do that now so she can be the tour guide. She knows the history and the stories about each of her special treasures. It would have to be an all-day event! This is just one room of her sweet little cottage home. We would have to serve lunch on the grounds so you would have a chance to see it all. Let us know when you plan to arrive. Lunch will be ready!