Family Threads

I interviewed my grandma in 1991 during one of her last visits up from Florida. She was 91.


Here she is at 101. This time I was visiting her.

I wanted to record as much family history as she could remember so one evening, after my 1 year old was tucked in bed, I made us each a cup of tea and got out my notepad.

For the next hour I coaxed as much info out of her as her stamina and memory would allow.  So much tender, loving effort on her part, and mine, and I no longer have the notes. I’ve forgotten the names and the dates and the places, but a few of her stories made a permanent impression.

One such story came to mind this morning as I was folding freshly laundered sheets and blankets – wet in the night by my elderly – and, I fear, newly incontinent dog, Max.


My sweet white-faced boy.

Standing in my kitchen – now doubling as a dog hospital – folding bedding, I thought of Christian Attridge and his wife, wish I could remember her name. I’ll call her Anna.

When Christian was courting Anna he led her to believe he was a veterinarian.  He wasn’t, he was a vet tech.

After they were married and she learned the truth, she exclaimed, “Oh no you don’t! You told me you were a veterinarian and you are GOING to be a veterinarian!”

So he went back to school.

Apparently strong women run in my family.

And so does taking care of sick animals. Though I think horses were my great grandpa’s specialty.

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family, love, the friends

Sacrificial Gifts

A few weeks before Christmas my daughter texted me a picture of Sorel Slimpack II Waterproof Boots – in case I needed a gift idea.

I had already bought her gifts but I was tempted to buy just one more.  Except the hub said we needed to scale back this year due to all the vet bills.  So I resisted.

The Monday before Christmas I stood at the pharmacy counter with a prescription for a colonoscopy prep kit – the same kind my husband used back in October when he had his colonoscopy.  The kind that is a lot easier to take than the Golytely jug I’ve used in the past.

“Your insurance doesn’t cover this one,” the pharmacist said, “it will be $100.”

“What?” “Is that how much my husband paid back in October?”

She checked her computer.

“He paid $86, he had a coupon. I’ll try applying that same coupon code to yours.”

With the coupon it would be $91.  The price must have gone up she said.

“Is there another kind that my insurance will cover?”

She advised me to call the doc’s office and ask them to authorize a switch.

Golytely. The dreaded 4 litre jug.

Dreaded but 100% covered.

I texted the hub.  He said go ahead and pay the $91.

But then I remembered the boots. I was willing to suffer for the boots.

So I took home the jug.

The day after the colonoscopy I went to Nordstrom to purchase the boots – for $145.

“I thought I saw them on sale on your website for $114,” I said, as the clerk rang them up.

Apparently not.

As I was leaving the mall I spotted the same boots at another store – on sale for $109.

Back to Nordstrom to return, then back to Journeys to buy.

Those 8 hours of gut-wrenching misery – literally – paid for all but $18 of the boots.  The hub could live with it.

Sacrificial Giving

As we were heading to the theater to see the matinee showing of La La Land the day after Christmas, I told my daughter the story of the boots – my own small version of the Gift of the Magi.  Not because I wanted a medal or anything, but because I wanted her to know the depth of my love. And because giving a sacrificial gift felt so good, I thought receiving one might feel good, too.  Judging by the expression on her face at the end of my story, I think it did.

Same Love, Different Scenario

That evening, after dinner, I said, “Time for family goodness.” (“Family goodness” = all of us taking the friends for a walk.  One of us takes the hound, another takes the beagle and the third is on bag duty…”)

“It’s almost dark,” the hub said, sitting comfortably on the sofa watching some sort of sport on tv.

“Bring a flashlight,” I replied.

My daughter didn’t say anything, but the look she flashed revealed that she wasn’t thrilled either.

It was a rare 50 degree day in December and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to walk the little beagle. She cannot tolerate the cold anymore and getting oxygen to her lungs is so important.  I had been waiting all day for the rain to stop so we could take her.  It was still drizzling when I made my announcement, but it was getting dark and the window was closing.

“Come on,” I said.

As my daughter put on her coat she said, “You’re never going to be satisfied with the manner in which I parent your granddogs.”

“I just won’t come over,” I replied.

She continued, “Because I’m going to treat my dogs just like the rest of the country does.”

It snowed 8 inches the weekend before Christmas.  I bundled the beagle up and took her for a walk a few days later when the temp rose to 32 degrees.  She begged to romp through the woods.  “Sorry, little Be,” I said, “but your legs are too short, your belly will drag through the snow and you’ll get too cold.” I promised her that once the snow diminished enough we would take a walk through the woods.

And on that rainy, 50 degree day after Christmas when the snow was just about gone, we did.

The five of us took a walk through the woods, the hub carrying a flashlight and me using the flashlight on my iPhone.

It felt good to keep a promise.

It felt good to take my friends for a damp, drizzly, sacrificial walk in the woods.


It’s all the same.

I thought about my daughter’s comments as I was unloading the dishwasher the next morning.

It’s all the same love, baby girl, I thought.  The same quality of love that bought your boots kept its promise to the Be.

It’s that way with God, too.  The quality of His love is always the same  – whether He is extending it to the saint or the sinner.

It isn’t about how lovable we are, it’s about how able to love He is.

And I so love Him. ❤






On the Threshold of Christmas

Our tradition has always been to cut down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.




But this year Netflix premiered Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on our annual Christmas tree day.

So instead of stepping directly from Thanksgiving into Christmas, we straddled the threshold; instead of bundling up and heading to the tree farm, we stayed in our pjs and parked ourselves on the sofa to marathon watch all four 90 minute episodes.

When I say “we” I mean my daughter and me.  Not the hub.

Six solid hours of Gilmore Girls with a brief intermission to walk the friends.

It was perfect.

Gilmore Girls was the weekly mother/daughter bonding date that took us exactly through my daughter’s adolescence. It began airing when she was in sixth grade and it ended just as she was graduating.

The show kind of reminded me of us – except Lorelai had her daughter at 16 and I had mine at 30. Lorelai gave birth out of wedlock, I gave birth in wedlock. Lorelai was hip and cute, I was not hip and only kinda’ cute.

But, Rory was smart and adorable and my daughter was smart and adorable.

It was just the two of them and they were close.

It was just the two of us for ten years and we were close.

When the reunion series was announced last summer, we started counting the days until we’d all be together again.

And it was perfect.


And then this morning, one day behind schedule, we drove an hour to Nicholas Tree Farm and loaded ourselves into a wagon.

In search of the perfect tree.


“Hey you guys,” I called them over, “how about this one? It’s nice and straight, and there is plenty of room between the branches for ornaments.”


We had a winner.


The blade was sharp, the trunk was slender and the hub had it felled in record time.


Waiting outside for the return wagon.


Waiting in the warming shack.


Here it comes.



Loaded back up with the loot.



Shake, bundle and roll.

Then off to lunch.



Jesus, Light, the friends

Heartbroken, Hopeful & Grateful

They say a blogger shouldn’t go more than a week without posting.

This blogger went more than two weeks.

Forgive me.


Even though my shingles rash was small and only mildly itchy, even though it never blistered and it held no pain, it left me tired. Too tired to force the thoughts that were bouncing around my brain to coalesce – thoughts on politics, thoughts on the third chapter of John and a snake lifted high. Too tired to even read your posts.


Just as my energy and my brain returned, my little beagle coughed up blood. Blood and a hunk of tissue.

I threw the blanket onto which she coughed into the washer, put the hunk of tissue in a small container and put the beagle in the car.

The emergency animal hospital did a chest x-ray and saw a mass in her chest – in the caudal area behind her sweet little heart. I authorized an abdominal ultrasound. The tissue was sent off to a lab.

Two days later we were back at the hospital, this time in the oncology department for a CT scan. To determine whether the mass could be surgically removed.

It can’t.

The location of the mass, which is growing out of her lung into the space behind her heart, makes surgery too risky.

In the one week since she coughed, she’s been diagnosed, she’s had an acupuncture treatment and she has been started on Chinese Herbal Medicine, supplements to strengthen her immune system and an antibiotic for a lung infection.

Thoughts of politics and snakes on poles have been replaced with thoughts of cancer and grief. All my mental energy has been focused on decisions re: treatment options, measuring out doses and making sure she gets a walk every day to stimulate her immune system. But not too long a walk….

Today in church God spoke to me as we sang:

All the weak find their strength
At the sound of Your great Name
Hungry souls receive grace
At the sound of Your great Name
The fatherless they find their rest
At the sound of Your great Name
Sick are healed and the dead are raised
At the sound of Your great Name

I’ve been praying every day for my little friend, but I haven’t been praying over her. I haven’t been speaking His great Name to her. Now I will.

Not a single sparrow falls to the ground outside my Father’s care.

Jesus said so.

The great Name said so.

Likewise not a single beagle gets lung cancer outside His care.

He cared for her for however long she was alone on the streets, lost or abandoned.

He cared for her when some cruel monster riddled her cheerful little body with BBs.

He rescued her and He placed her in our home – with her 2 rotten teeth, swollen spleen, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease – to get her the surgery and medicine she needed. To envelop her in a family’s love. To strengthen her with home-cooked meals.

He cared for her then and He still cares for her now.

I am heartbroken, hopeful and grateful.

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Determined and watchful.


Curious and intelligent.




Food, life

Lemon & Lavender Love

I received a curious piece of e-mail on Saturday.  It was a note from a spice company asking those of us who cook to please watch a documentary about Amy Winehouse.

I didn’t know much about Amy except that she died of a heart attack brought on by heavy drug and alcohol abuse, won a Grammy and wrote a song entitled Rehab – the first two lines of which I sang repeatedly after I broke my foot.

Curious, I drove to the library after church, borrowed the dvd, got comfy on my bed and slipped the disc into my laptop.  The hub was hogging the family room tv with NASCAR.

For two hours I sat on my bed and witnessed the sad and infuriating progression from hopeful to hopeless. Exactly five years and one day after she died.

She was simply a hopeful, humble girl grateful for a gift. A gift that she would always have to enjoy, a sanctuary, a refuge from depression.

Along came a spider and sat down beside her.

A bad boy by the name of Blake Fielder turned her on to cocaine.

And then he left her brokenhearted and addicted.

After “Rehab” made her rich and famous, he returned to ride the gravy train.

The anger I felt while watching the film was directed at him.

And at her dad, who also took a seat on that train.

Neither of the two most important men in her life nurtured her talent or protected her heart and soul.

Both of the two most important men in her life exploited her talent and neglected her heart and soul.

Toward the end of the documentary, toward the end of her life, Amy was invited to sing a duet with her idol, Tony Bennett. It was a big deal.

After she passed he said, “She was one of the truest jazz singers I ever heard. To me she should be treated like Ella Fitzgerald, like Billie Holiday. She had the complete gift. If she had lived I would have said, ‘Slow down, you’re too important.’ Life teaches you really how to live it, if you can live long enough.”

Amy might have lived long enough if her talent had been nurtured, not exploited; treasured, not trashed.

So why did the owner of a spice company beg me to watch a documentary about Amy Winehouse on the anniversary of her death?

Who knows? Frankly he is a bit of a lunatic. And a bit of a pompous jerk. But that’s a story for another post. He wrote something about life being 25% better when we cook and share meals together.

My take-away: Amy’s is a cautionary tale about a malnourished soul.

I’ve told you before that I went through several months of bizarre and scary neurological weirdness about seven years ago.  At times I thought I might die.

Sitting in my family room one day I told God why I didn’t want to die.  I was thinking out loud, stripping life down to its bottom line.

It wasn’t my ministry that I wanted to live for – someone else could do that – I wanted to live for my family. I told God that I wanted to live so I could cook nutritious meals for my family.

Since then, the Formica-topped, nothing-special island in my kitchen has become my sanctuary.

It is a place of refuge from the depressing realities of this fretful world. When it all becomes too much, I close my laptop, head for the kitchen and engage in culinary art therapy.

It is the holy place where I prepare sacred gifts for my family.

It’s where I do what I can to make the world a better place.

Lemons and lavender.

I feel better about paying top dollar for organic produce if I at least try to use every bit of it.  So on Saturday, as I was making a citrus marinade, I zested the lemon before I cut and juiced it.

I paused the making of the marinade, poured about a cup and a half of organic sugar into my food processor, zested the lemon directly over the sugar and then added a tablespoon or two of dried lavender flowers which, coincidentally, I bought at the spice store on Friday.  I gave it all a good whirl and then poured the sugar into a jar.

So now I have a jar of lemon, lavender sugar in my fridge right next to the perpetual jar of plain lemon sugar.  I just keep zesting lemons into that jar and adding more sugar as I go.

There’s always citrus sugar on hand for pancakes, scones, sugar cookies, tea.


I was feeling a bit out of sorts this morning so I headed to my sanctuary and sliced a peach and some strawberries.


I threw in some blueberries, too, and then sprinkled it all with a spoonful or two of that lemon lavender sugar.


I love how the sugar makes the fruit glisten.

And how it draws out the juices.

Juices. We’ll need some shortcake to soak them up.

So I poured 12 ounces of half-and-half into a small saucepan, added 3 tablespoons of local honey and a half teaspoon of the lavender flowers. Just as it started to turn from a scald to a boil, I removed it from the heat, covered it and let it steep for an hour. Now the strained cream is in another jar in my fridge just chilling.


Later, when I make Alton Brown’s shortcake recipe, I’ll use my lemon, lavender sugar in place of plain sugar and I’ll use my honey, lavender infused half-and-half in place of plain half and half.

Because the love is in the lavender and the lemon.

Lavender-honey whipping cream would be great to top the shortcake and fruit. But I spotted my whipped cream dispenser already in the fridge and remembered that I have limoncello whipped cream to use up. That will be really good, too.

The hub is working in his office twelve miles away, my daughter is shaping youngsters into fine citizens twenty-five miles away and for the next hour I will be in my kitchen baking 25% more goodness into our lives.



family, love

The Epitome of Matrimony

Fishing hub.001

The Hub: I’m going fishing now.
Me: Come in as soon as it starts to storm.
Hub: Naw, I think I’ll stand in my boat and wave my carbon fiber fishing rods.
Me: Is your premium paid up?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Are your accounts easily accessible?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Who do I call to make sense of them all?
Hub: Tom.
Me: Okay, then, do what you want.


daily prompt

family, Food, love

Pancakes in Portland

My one and only child is clear across the country on Mother’s Day.

And I blame Donald Miller.

Back when she was in high school she read Through Painted Deserts, she’s wanted to visit Portland ever since.

So she booked her flight not realizing…

I awoke this morning to a text that was time-stamped 2:30 am: “landed in Portland.”

At 12:30 pm Detroit time,  9:30 am Portland time, I sent her a text: “Safe and sound?”

Because that’s all a mama wants on Mother’s Day.

Especially when mama’s personality type is INFJ – The Protector.

“yes. Happy Mother’s Day. Love You!”


“first stop: Breakfast at a Swedish restaurant
Danish pancakes with lemon curd and lingonberries”

Love you, too, baby girl. Keep the pics coming.