Thursday, June 27, 2013

Refreshing Rain

We're supposed to have an all day rain...which is indeed refreshing after the hot humid weather we've been enduring enjoying. I can't complain about hot humid weather -- we have a pool for heavens sake. But I'll tell ya what, the break in weather is kind of nice. Besides, I have housework to do and it goes better when I'm not tempted to be outside.

Here's a view from my kitchen...

This drencher serves as inspiration to call around and get a price for a canopy type tent for our 4th of July family reunion. No sense tempting fate. Besides, rainy or beautifully sunny, a little protection may come in handy.
There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat,
and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:6
But here is some of the fun that went on during those fabulous hot sunny days.
Little neighbors and a cousin
Neighbor kids and their mama.
Jerry playing on the tractor and Pierre working...

Time to say good-bye to company...
                                                                    Luann and Jerry without Rebecca, but with their (temporarily) adopted Pierre.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What Summer's All About...

Children having fun in the pool!
Tom and I had my sister's little girl for a few days this week and my other sister's Parisienne friend's youngster, Pierre. It just happened that one of my nearby friends could use a babysitter for her 10-year-old girl on the days that I had charge of my niece Rebecca. Another friend came over with her 10-year-old girl too. What a happy threesome they were -- delightful to have around. (I know, I know...what's up with me having friends who still have little kids? I do actually have some friends my own age. They come over to use the pool too. But somehow pictures of 60-year-olds in swimsuits isn't so endearing as kids and tots in swimsuits. So there will be no postings of us oldsters working out our kinks through water aerobics.) 

Syncronized swimmers in training.


But it's not all fun and games. There's work to be done.
                 Who knew a 9 1/2-year-old could operate a power washer?                                   
                             For sure, 16-year-olds can drive tractors.
Sign your kids up for Camp Tom and Betsy, we've taken a page from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. "This is so much fun. Well I guess you can have a go at it if you really want." Of course it didn't work as well with our own kids. And by the time they were old enough to be of real use to us they up and left for college. All that training and phffft...they left us to use their skills elsewhere. Which I guess was the point all along.
We (me, my brothers and sisters, and even my parents) have a long history of hosting French students for summer vacations. Kathy, the eldest of us Bruce siblings, who has lived in Paris, France for some 30+ years, makes arrangements with her friends, co-workers, or bosses to send their children to the states to be immersed in English language and culture for 2 or 3 weeks. It's been a grand experience for all of us and our children through the years. Sofie was the first student as I recall. She's is grown, married and has children of her own now. We hosted Jonathan 3 or 4 different summers. The first time he was only 11 years old and our David was 10. Jonathan learned to shear Christmas trees alongside David. They were a great help to us, although neither of them took much delight in the task. I remember the day I found them off in a corner of the field, sitting, chatting in the shade of fir trees, clicking their hedge clippers, somewhat rythmically, or at least often enough to sound like they were still diligently at work. Big sheepish smiles greeted me when I confronted them. Me, hands on hips shaking my head. Them, laughing at their good joke.
Then there was Ben. He visited us a few years ago, but it was too early to shear trees. He scraped and painted our front porch. Hmmm, I wonder what he's doing next summer? Like I said, our kids up and left us, but other people have kids. You just have to borrow and bargain and there's no end to the work you can get out of 'em.
Here are Pierre and Tom checking out basketball schedules. Big finals tonight on TV! (Or last night, or the night before...I don't really know.)
A tour of the property always includes a trip to the beautiful beaver dam. A good place for a photo.

Upon returning from seeing the full scope of the grounds with Tom, Pierre said to me -- in his delightful French accent, "Deese property of yours is verry beautiful. It is really lovely."
His English is superb, and his accent, oh so charming.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

It's a special day for the dads and grandads and step dads...hurray for papas everywhere, of every sort! Only one of my sons is a daddy. I'm still hoping that they all will be daddies before I'm too old to enjoy being Nana to more than the two little guys we have. Oh wait, today isn't about me or what I want. And being a parent isn't something you should do to please someone else, ever -- even if she is your mother.

Just a minute, I'll go ask Tom, since it's his special day, if he would like to be Papa to more than just the two...nah, just kidding. I'll stop now.

Our son, David, spent a good part of the day with us. We had a mid-day dinner together and then he and his dad went to the driving range to hit a bucket of golf balls. Afterward we had a quick swim and then headed into town for ice cream. At the local dairy isle, Lickety-Split, dads are treated to a free hot-fudge sundae. I don't know which tickles me more, the name of the ice cream shop or the fact that they hand out free treats for special occasions -- oh the endearing charms of small town living.

The other boys called and/or sent cards to their dad. I called my dad in Florida -- I'll get to see him and mother early in July for the Bruce family reunion. I'm looking forward to that!

Meanwhile, Happy Father's Day, Dad!
Just me and my Dave and Mel's wedding in October 2010
Looking forward to seeing both mother and dad for the Bruce Family Reunion in July!

I can't wait to sit on my front porch with dad and watch the grass grow and the wildlife graze. We've had lots of wild visitors lately, but most of them are too speedy to catch on camera. Several times a day a little bunny darts straight across the yard, from the safe cover on one edge to the other. Hoppity, hop, hop, hop, gone. Yep, that must be why they say 'quick like a bunny'!

From the back deck we watched mama doe sprint across the open area in the back yard. And surprise! Behind her scrambled twin fawns. If you'd have blinked you'd have missed them. They're still really tiny and all spotted. I'm sure we'll get better glimpses as they grow and as their mother comes to trust us.

Then there's this guy... He is not a speed demon.

But neither was he in the mood to pose with some friends that we tried to introduce him to...

 In fact, he beat it out of there pretty quick.
Not quick as a bunny, but still pretty quick.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Puppy Sitting, VBS, and Being Great!

Yeah, I know...isn't she melt-your-heart cute? Her family left her in our care for the week. While they are vacationing at the beach she's vacationing at Camp Tom and Betsy. I think she likes it here. There's lots of house to investigate (when she isn't baby-gated to one room) and there's another doggie to play with. Our dog, Phoebe, isn't as enamored with little pup as pup is with her. Fortunately, Phoebe can get away through her doggie door, so it all works out. She'll let the little one hop, skip, and sniff around her, but when the nipping starts, that's it. Phoebe looks at me like, "Are you going to do something about this? 'Cause if you're not, I'm outta here."

This little fluff ball is good company and she keeps us on our toes. You wouldn't be wrong to interpret that -- she's pretty much underfoot...all the time. If I were much older I'd be concerned about tripping on the little sweetie and causing damage to one or the other of us. I've heard that older people live longer and stay happier and healthier if they have a pet. Which begs the question, am I an older person yet?

Pets, when they aren't causing grief, serve as comforting distractions from the real world. We lost our cat, Cleopatra, to old age this week. I'm grieving over her as well as for our son, Nathan. She was his cat. He knew her, cared for her, and loved her many more years than we did. Cleo came to live with us 3 years ago when Nate moved to California. Okay, truth be told, he left us with 3 cats, and Cleo was the last survivor. But listen...we're not that bad of our defense, two of the cats were old, and the young one met with unspeakable tragedy. Enough said.

This week I've been out the door every morning to help with Vacation Bible School. I have a job I didn't think I would care for. I shuttle 3-year-olds from station to station, helping them learn and participate, take turns and follow directions, have fun, be happy, and not think about mommy or daddy or grammy or whoever dropped them off.

Given a vote I would have said 3 is too young for VBS. But the director has a philosophy that if they'll stay at 3 they'll begin learning how VBS works, how to be part of a group, they'll get a clue what this is all about, and next year they'll be eager learners. I think she's right! I've seen these kiddos grow more confident every day. They sing the repetitive parts of songs and do the motions. They're listening to stories, answering questions, making crafts, and waiting for prayer before eating snacks. They are so indescribably cute -- precious, adorable little munchkins! Tomorrow is the last day of VBS, our last day together. Oh gosh, how sad. I'm getting separation anxiety just thinking about it. It's been a joy this week to make the little 3-year-olds feel welcome.

There are a lot of important things I'd like to write about. I'm passionate about social issues like feeding the hungry, protecting people from senseless violence, teaching tolerance. encouraging dialog with and respect for people of differing political and religious views. I'd like to defend the persecuted and stand up for equal rights. I want to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for anyone who spitefully uses me.

But here I am, blogging about puppies and small children. The innocent, the cute, the cuddly, the ones who offer acceptance and affection, no questions asked. I like them best. I think maybe they are the greatest on earth and in the kingdom of heaven. It's no wonder Jesus told us we need to be like little children. Just like children and puppy dogs, Jesus is all about unconditional love. He offers it freely to everyone. Good thing too, because, if not for his unconditional love, I'm afraid we'd all be doomed.

Matthew 18:1-7
Who Is the Greatest?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Squirrely Visitors

This little guy is in the yard, a safe distance from the house. Smart. Unlike his friend, a brave woodchuck, who comes investigating right up on to the front porch, and a little rabbit who hippity hops within feet of the house. Time was when the cat, Cleo wouldn't allow such tom-foolery. She'd chase them off. But the dear old cat is failing, and if she cares that the critters are encroaching she doesn't show it. She only has enough energy to assume her stalking position, but she's not in the grass or even on the edge of the porch ready to pounce. Rather she's on her favorite blanket, which also happens to be my favorite blanket, loving placed on her favorite adirondack chair, so she can commune with nature in warmth and security. I imagine in her mind she's stalking prey, sneaking up on birds, preparing to pounce on chipmunks. Only in her dreams at this point. It makes me sad, but she seems calm and peaceful. And when I pick her up, blanket and all, and take a seat on the adirondack chair with her on my lap she almost purrs. Almost. But I feel it, and it comforts me, as I intend to comfort her. The passing of the peace.

I don't know how many more days or weeks we have with her, but I like to think she's enjoying every last minute of life. Meanwhile the squirrely dude is learning from bad example and scampers up on the porch. He doesn't know human dwelling places are not to be trusted. A camera today. A cat or dog tomorrow...or worse. But for now, I'll enjoy his company too.

And there are other visitors to sit quietly and observe -- so as not to scare them off. A turkey or two confidently strutt through the yard. A Jake turkey, taunting Tom, who didn't catch us a wild turkey for dinner this spring. This particular youngster wouldn't have been taken even if he had shown himself in season. By next year he'll be bigger and more plump. He'll also be older and wiser, no easy shot for the photographer or the hunter. Mark my words.

Spring time is when all the new babies come. Tom saw a dozen fuzzy little turkey chicks. I saw one teeny tiny fawn in the distance scampering behind mama deer. Soon the fawns will be big enough that their mothers will let them come out to forage and frolic in the open areas. I'm just waiting for that. Any day now.