Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snapshots of a Legacy

So many of us were gathered in one place this week, celebrating the life and mourning the death of my grandpa.
We were so cared for by those who love us and those who loved my grandpa. There were anywhere from fifteen to fifty of us at any given time, and none of us went hungry!


Stories were told,


silliness abounded,


and four generations mingled...



crammed into every nook and cranny of my mom's house because it rained for two days.


Cousins, couples, aunts and uncles:



and dear friends who helped us so much:

We broke out a journal we'd written in ten years ago on Grandpa's birthday and the journal of questions I'd sent him that he answered, and we all enjoyed reading his words and our own words to him.


Last year, my brothers talked Grandpa into growing out his beard. Eventually, he trimmed it down to a goatee. He got so many compliments from the young ladies that he decided to keep it. When my Uncle Kenny arrived this week, he was sporting a nice goatee and talked the boys who had beards into shaving down a bit in a show of solidarity. Chris had already pared his beard into a handsome goatee. Don't they all look nice?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Processing

Our extended family has started to arrive as we prepare to say our final goodbyes to my grandpa. Plane tickets have been hard to come by since the Superbowl is being hosted here in Tampa this weekend. Which seems right in an odd way. He was such a big sports fan - especially football.
So many people cared for him. We have been cared for in his honor this week. People we don't know are bringing food to the burgeoning number of hungry mouths at my mom's house. The phone is ringing non-stop.
And I have continued on with life-as-usual in an attempt to...I don't know what. I guess I just thought I'd take off Thursday from work for the service. Somewhere in the middle of the morning today, I thought, "What am I doing?" and I left, crying my way home. I seem to be more tearful as the week progresses and I don't really know why. I suppose it's because I still am coming to terms with the reality that he's gone. He's really gone and even though I kissed his cold forehead goodbye, I still haven't quite wrapped my brain around that fact. It doesn't seem real.
At the same time, I've recounted the story of his passing many times by now, always smiling at the end, telling people and reminding myself that he lived a full & Godly life and that, even in the middle of the sorrow, I am at peace. I know he knew we loved him. We got to sit with him and visit just the day before he left us and I kissed his warm forehead goodbye.
I will probably check out for a bit here as we busily host and serve and mourn and rejoice and allow the hearts and hands of our friends care for us and minister to our needs.
The memorial service is going to be huge, full of music and messages. His brother and two of his sons and countless nephews and in-laws are pastors and everybody wants their turn at the microphone to celebrate him. Their church choir will be singing as well. That doesn't happen for just anybody, you know. But he was one of them for a long time. And they, more than most, understand what it means that heaven has gained one of its most exuberant baritones it will ever see. And we all know how hard it is to come by an exuberant baritone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bob


My phone rang this morning in the dark, early hours. It was my mom. My grandpa is gone. He made it through so much, but I think the dawning awareness of the difficult road ahead of him convinced him to go Home instead.
Before my brothers and I were old enough to understand the significance of last names, having two men in our life named Grandpa meant that we'd have to somehow create a way to distinguish between them. So, my mom's dad came to be known to us as The Funny Grandpa. And so he was. White-haired since I can remember, this wiry guy with a pipe and a naughty smile made us giggle till we turned pink in the cheeks. He had a silly voice he'd use when he played with us and a cartoonish, wheezy "hee hee hee" that makes me laugh just to think of it.
My grandpa, Robert Louis Trinklein, was the son of a Lutheran minister who died when he was only 41, leaving 15-year-old Bob and his three younger siblings in the care of only their mother. But "only" is a sorely inadequate word to describe this woman. She was tough, she cheated her own great-grandchildren at dominoes (not that I'm sore about that), and she passed down to my grandpa her propensity for saying shocking things out loud. One never really could be sure what would come out of his mouth when it opened. Some of us awaited his commentary with glee and some of us preemptively winced. My sainted grandma could often be heard admonishing him - "Bob!" and "Robert!" if it was really bad. If you ever did meet my grandpa, you certainly would remember it. Everyone who knew him has a story to tell about him.
He was a brilliant ceramics engineer who melted his own sneakers by sitting too close to the campfire - while they were still on his feet. He was an inventor who didn't think twice about smoking his pipe while pumping gas into his vehicle. He was an avid golfer and was famous for his morning exercise routine. He had a raucous laugh and he loved for his children and grandchildren to cause trouble, relishing in re-telling the tales of their mischief to anyone who'd listen. He smelled like Listerine and vanilla tobacco.

He was a riot.

He was so animated that it sometimes made the young, shy, reserved me a little uncomfortable. I remember walking in the woods behind their house and getting slapped near my eye with a tree branch. He violently snapped the branch off the tree and gave it an over-the-top scolding for hurting his Christy. I was not really sure if all of that fuss had been necessary, a simple "oh-are-you-okay?" would have done the trick. But that wasn't his style.
When my brother Jon and I were small, we went camping with them and pitched our tent in the dark. In the middle of the night, we discovered why such a prime campsite was still empty so late in the day when a train came roaring down the tracks, just on the other side of the bushes from our tent!
Somehow, adventure followed my grandpa everywhere. Or maybe he just caused adventure to happen wherever he went. I can never be sure.
We usually spent a week or two of our summer with Grandpa and Grandma in Arkansas. Our days there were full of ice cream socials at church, swimming at the community pool, fishing, fireworks and the annual 4th of July parade - all the good things that childhood memories are made of.
The amazing thing, though, is the role he's played in the lives of my own children. Not many are blessed to know their great-grandfather. And not only to know him, but to know him as an active and involved person in their lives. Since great-grandpa is a mouthful to say and we had so many grandpas in our lives, my grandpa and grandma wanted a unique name for my children to call them. We settled on G-ma and G-pa. G-pa came to recitals and concerts and birthday parties. Andrew and Emma sat on his lap in his recliner, talking about the deep mysteries of childhood and they knew he was so proud of them. He loved for Andrew to tell him jokes, and gave him the same silly "hee hee hee" that I remembered from my childhood. Before Emma could even write, she would scribble lines on tiny scraps of paper, fold them and hand them to her G-pa, telling him they were "secret notes." He kept them in a box by his chair and when she'd visit, he'd pull them out and whisper their secrets back to her, "reading" the notes straight from his own imagination.
My children will miss him nearly as much as I will.
Several years ago, I passed out journals with questions in them to the grandparents in our lives. I asked them to fill them out at their leisure, giving us a tangible piece of their experience to pass down to our children. Not all of our grandparents were willing to play along in this exercise, but my Funny Grandpa did. I pulled out the journal this afternoon and have been paging through it. Question number 44 was, "Is there anything that you have learned in life that you really wish you knew when you were young?" And here is my grandpa's answer:
"What I have learned in life is that the only way to be content is to reflect on God's blessings."
He has been the same for as long as I can remember - his hair, his face, his habits unchanging. In a way, I guess I thought he was immortal. Or as much so as a person can be. Tonight, even though I am deeply sad, I choose to reflect on the blessing of having had this unforgettable character in my life, in my heritage. I am blessed to know that he is with his beloved Jesus and in that truth, I can't help but be content.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Couldn't You Just Squeal?

This is Tyson. He's a piglet. And I love him unabashedly.


Honestly, I haven't even met him yet. But he's my friend Darla's new baby.
This photo should give you an idea of just how tiny Tyson is. That's Darla's husband's shoe behind him.
He's two weeks old today.
And he's very independent. This is pretty much the only time he drank out of his bottle, according to Darla. He insists on drinking milk from a bowl like the big boy he is.
Gratuitous Pig Photo:
These are all photos that I stole from Darla. If I ever meet this pig, you'll certainly know about it. But I simply couldn't keep all of this to myself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bundled Up

It's definitely cold here. I don't care if you're from Canada or Michigan or whatever. It was 27 degrees here last night and it's cold.
We bundle up ourselves in patchwork wrappings and we bundle up our plants in even sillier things:

We were covered in frost too. It's interesting to see those undulating, usually-green golf courses all sparkly and white.
The retention pond at Emma's school was just steaming in the sunrise.

Emma was fascinated with the crunchy grass and frosted weeds.


My little baby orange tree's blossoms that were just budding have all died. I hope there's still time for it to put out some new ones. I really want some oranges next year.

DAILY BLISS: blueberry pomegranate tea

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tribute

Magnificent. Glorious. Resplendent.

What is this of which I speak? Oh, it's just my husband's beard.

To paraphrase the great Tenacious D*, This is not the greatest beard in the world, no, this is just a tribute.

Y'all know how I love a good beard.
I listen to musicians that have great beards (Sam Beam, Ray LaMontagne, the Avett Brothers, and Jim James, to name a few, but probably not Joaquin Phoenix).
I love movie characters with great beards (Leonidas from 300 - who kinda looks like my hubby anyway...maybe it's the teeth).
I snuck a picture once of a trolley driver with a fantastic beard.
Heck. I've even bought root beer because the dude on the label was sportin' a great amount of chin fur.

It's safe to say that I'm a fan.

I think it's a childhood thing. I come from hippies. Jesus people hippies, but still, they were hippies. Every guy had a guitar, a Volkswagen bus and a beard. And he probably wore flannel shirts all the time. We sang around camp fires, went to music festivals and all that sort of thing. So, I think the beard is just a happy thing for me. I inherently trust people with beards. Tattoos too, but that's another post entirely.

So, my patient, loving, considerate man decided he'd grow one. Just for me. And I simply adore it.
I hear you asking, now, why this post is called "Tribute."
Because he's shaving it off. He can't take it any more.
I've been putting it off by procrastinating this post. He promised to leave it on until I took pictures for my blog. And I've been meaning to post this for a good month or so now, but haven't taken pictures yet. So I read about beards on another blog today (great pictures and he's a Vineyard pastor too, which is where our little house church has its roots), and that, coupled with a dire warning from my hubby (I'm planning to cut my hair tonight, and if I nick this beard on accident, it's gone whether you've posted or not) spurred me to action. I had wanted to take nice, outside, well-lit and creative photos. But these will do.
Sigh. I will miss it.

But even my patient, loving, considerate husband has his limits. Especially when it comes to beards and posing for pictures.


BLACKOUT NIGHT UPDATE: If you are new here or just popping in for some reason and don't already know, my family takes one night a week and turns off the TV, game systems, computers and lights, eats a no-cook supper and plays board games by candle light. We call it Blackout Night. It helps us to focus on each other and quiet ourselves for a bit. We are trying to ease back into it after the craziness of the holiday season and it's not gone too well yet! But tonight, we made progress. An almost-no-energy dinner of black bean and asparagus salad with whole-grain crackers was enjoyed by all as we collapsed into the living room furniture, exhausted from our day and too tired to find candles to light. We'll try again next week.

DAILY BLISS: Seeing photos of my friend's new pet. It's a teacup-sized pot bellied pig!! I promise to take pictures for you if I ever see it in person.

*I absolutely cannot endorse their music. But the song "Tribute" was pretty funny. And I love Jack Black. There, I said it. He's my celebrity crush. And not just for the beard, either.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bloogs Blowing By

The sea foam at the beach today was so crazy to watch. It didn't just sit there, you see. Some of it rolled along the shoreline like fluffy, sudsy tumbleweed. And some of it skimmed along the surface of the slick sand that was being lapped over and over by the waves. The way it kind of floated made me think of Bloogs.
Do you remember that part in Oh The Thinks You Can Think (by Dr. Seuss, of course) that says,

Think of black water.
Think up a white sky.
Think up a boat.
Think of BLOOGS blowing by.


video

Don't you agree?

Beach Day

We spent our day off at the beach today. I hope you readers in northern parts of the country are still with me and didn't just close your browser in disgust. I mean, it wasn't like it was warm or anything, but sometimes you just have to go somewhere - anywhere - as far away from anything as you can get. And today provided the perfect opportunity. We were uncertain until this morning whether we'd go. A "cold" front is coming through the area and it promised rain and super-chilly winds. But, we had a window of time between the rain and the wind, and it corresponded with this morning, so we put on our sweat pants and long-sleeved shirts and took off. And it was really beautiful. I wish you all could have gone with me, so I took lots of pictures and I hope that, maybe, your ears and noses will warm up just looking at them.


Because of the changing weather and wind, the water was really rough today, and there was an incredible amount of sea foam all over the place! I have never seen so much of it!

It's like Mr. Bubble had been vacationing at Reddington Shores.

Only, I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't want to bathe with these bubbles, no matter how enticing they are up close.
We found beautiful treasures and textures on the shore today. Floridians pretty much stay home if it's less than 75 degrees at the beach, so there was very little treasure-hunting competition.






Emma busied herself with building a great civilization. She has a silly song stuck in her head that she sang all day on the beach. It's called The Grizzleback Snookerhog. It's an old song for kids by Joe Wise, who wrote such children's classics as The Epic of Peanut Butter & Jelly and I Love to Color. Excellent tunes if you're on the silly side and think like a 5-8-year-old.
Andrew laid on the beach blanket and read. No surprise there, I guess. He received in the mail this weekend the package of his dreams. Kate heard that he was trying to collect all the Harry Potter books in hard cover and, as she is trying to simplify and clean things out, well...it just worked out perfectly. He's already read all the books, but the receipt of such a package has warranted another go-round.
And me? Well, I knitted. Of course. This is my aunt's (we call her Nana) Christmas present. And I fear it will also be next year's Christmas present. I have nearly twice as far to go on this as I'd thought. Sigh. I am going to try to be fairly monogamous with it, though, until it's done. For the most part. Sorry, Nana. But at least it spent some time at the beach.


Kate, who I just mentioned a second ago, sent me a link to set up a progress bar for projects. You'll see it pop up here soon on the sidebar and that way you can all eagerly await its completion, fists clenched, breath held, cheering me on the whole way! Ha. Just a little dramatic, I guess. But I do love its pretty beads:


The sky was so clear and blue today.

And my smallest bore all the evidence of serious fun being had. Those sandy fingers hardly compared with her sandy butt. Only, the fingers made a much nicer photo.

I enjoyed these bright patches of color - my red knitting and toenails (still from Christmas Eve). I took another photo with the toes in focus and the knitting not, just to compare. I had been thinking it would be interesting, but I decided it was more redundant than anything else. So, just the one photo:

Someone was flying a pretty kite:

Hello, Freckles! We've missed you so. Welcome back to Emma's nose! Hugs & kisses...


I got in the car and was a little startled by my own reflection. Man, I need a haircut!

DAILY BLISS: I had a cup of coffee from a little coffee shop at the beach. It's called Bad Ass Coffee. I laughed out loud as I drank it. And, yeah, I hear you wondering. It pretty much was.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grace

We had the pleasure of visiting with my grandpa today. His journey back to health has been and will continue to be long and difficult. He has been released from the hospital into a nursing home, which we are calling a rehab center, but my mom and dad sprung him loose for the afternoon and brought him to their house for some fresh air.
He still isn't allowed to eat or drink, so he has a feeding tube along with his oxygen tube. I can't imagine having nothing in my mouth for months! His spirits are good and he likes to joke around with us, just as always. But, there are moments...
He'll grow quiet and shake his head, wondering aloud, "Why didn't God just take me home?" And I have no good answer for that - nothing that isn't a platitude. I think the loss of dignity is just as painful as his physical state. He has found himself in situations that are more embarrassing than I could have imagined and has had to accept his state of helplessness with grace. And he has certainly done just that.
My mom has experienced a new kind of grace, too. She has found it within herself to care for him, and has shared with me how amazing it is to discover the ability to do things you would have considered unsavory at best, as a loving gesture to a parent.
We came by the house to visit him this afternoon and found my mom giving him a pedicure, soaking his feet, clipping and filing his thick, yellowed toenails, lovingly massaging lotion into his parched skin. My dad pulled out the clippers and gave him a haircut.
The dogs all barked and ran in circles when he vacuumed the hair off Grandpa's shoulders.
It was beautiful, really.
He enjoyed the sunshine and the breeze, felt refreshed from the "spa" treatments, and it wasn't long before he was tired out and nodded off to sleep in the leather recliner that had been positioned in the living room just for him to enjoy.

DAILY BLISS: Chocolate cake for breakfast!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oh Well

I am working very hard this year to live in the present moment. Most of you will scratch your heads and wonder why in the world that would be a problem for me. It's kind of the way I've always lived my life, and this blog certainly has reflected my love of being intentional and alive and enjoying the everyday beauty around me. But the last year or so has brought some change to that, with my childrens' ever burgeoning schedules and, you know, other stuff. We've been busy and I'm sure it's obvious.
Anyway. So. I'm trying to be a little more conscious about that currently, even though it's something that's always been as natural for me as breathing.
This is harder work than I thought it would be. It's one thing for me to say no to commitments or to let go of some things that I wanted to do or to make a party a little "less" than I had envisioned...that sort of thing. But it's very difficult for me to be late to an event, to drop the ball, or to not fulfill a responsibility. It's the difference between letting myself down or letting others down, which I just cannot live with.
That doesn't mean it's easy to let myself down. Oh my, no.

We were invited to a get-together tonight by a family that hosts big get-togethers often. There were at least a dozen kids running around, countertops and tables full of food, and a campfire! When asked what I wanted to bring, I of course volunteered for dessert. I have always liked to bake, but now that I'm aware of my silly food allergies, bringing dessert is the best way to make sure there's dessert that I can eat. And honestly, you can have the green bean casserole. I'm happy with just dessert, thanks.
I found a yummy-looking recipe for a chocolate-orange cake, but it' was a vegan recipe (which means it's friendly to my dietary restrictions), so I had no idea if it'd taste good to normal people. That necessitates a test run, wouldn't you think? I had planned to make a practice cake on Wednesday or Thursday, but it just didn't happen. So, I thought I'd make two cakes today and just cut into one that I'd keep at home. That way, if it was awful I could just buy a pie at the grocery store on our way to the party.
So, living in the moment as I am, I was late getting to the store to buy my ingredients. Consequently, I was late to the cake-baking session, and it took nearly twice as long to bake as the recipe had suggested. And I only have one pan. Now, instead of one test cake and one party cake, I only had one cake, period. It would have to be glazed once I got to the party, because I took it out of the oven just when we had to get out the door. And I'd forgotten to make the suggested modification - adding a little oil to keep it from being dry. Also, I'd forgotten to buy the bread I'd promised to bring.
So, we were late to the party with a cake of unknown edibility (is that even a word?) and still had to stop at the store.

Oh well. Taking each minute as it comes means letting go of that stress, right?
Sigh.

We had a wonderful time. Campfires are some of my very favorite things. I love the smell of wood smoke. And one of the families has a precious exchange student from Hungary, named Sophie, staying with them. We had the most interesting conversation about the cultural differences she's found here, what she likes in school, how different our education system is and many other things that sounded even cooler than I could make them sound because of her accent. The kids jumped around on the trampoline and made s'mores. My heart sank when I realized I'd left my camera at home and I almost went back home to retrieve it, but I thought that was pretty ridiculous. Well, Chris thought that was pretty ridiculous.
Instead, I watched the embers float up against the backdrop of Orion's belt in the sky and enjoyed pointing out Venus to Sophie, who was so excited about that information.
And the cake was pretty good. Not my best, but everyone seemed to like it. So, I guess I didn't really let anybody down after all, which is good.
Plus, now that I'm home, I have the not-practice cake, with the oil in it this time, in the oven. I'd already measured out the ingredients before we left, so it would certainly have been wasteful to throw them away.

I think, while I wait for that, I will continue to stave off the crush of responsibility that comes with thinking of tomorrow by taking a hot bath while drinking a cup of hot, blackberry tea.

DAILY BLISS: Andrew played tech support to all of Emma's friends, helping them set up their Nintendos for chatting and playing multi-player games....so perfectly geeky and cute!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's the Little Things

Things are humming along here in our lives. School is definitely back in full swing and clubs and extra-curriculars are too. Music lessons re-started this week, and both of my kids are participating. Andrew has piano and euphonium lessons (he decided to return to the keys instead of continuing guitar....he is my boy after all!) and Emma is beginning flute. She has desperately wanted to and we have discovered that she's a mite small yet. Her arms hardly reach down the length of the flute when she holds it in the right spot. We will probably work her into it with some recorder lessons, but keep the flute as part of her practice and lesson schedule so she doesn't feel disappointed. We have practiced making noises by blowing into a soda bottle today and we have made some "twee" sounds, as Emma calls them, on the flute's head joint (which is basically the mouthpiece).
Andrew was thrilled to discover that, since his lessons are no longer on Thursdays, he can join the chess club at school.
Sigh.
That boy will be the death of me. He wants to do everything. I told him we'd look at it and make a decision soon. I'm feeling very much in-the-trenches right now and as such am indisposed to making new commitments.
I mean, it's not a bad thing. This is the part of mothering that I always meant when, growing up, I said I wanted to be a mother. Their interests are growing and they are unfolding as people right in front of my eyes. It's very exciting!
But still.
It's kinda sad when one of the most beautiful things you've seen all day is a warm ray of sun glinting off an instrument case.

Rather, it's kinda sad when the most beautiful thing you've noticed all day is a warm ray of sun glinting off an instrument case. Because that's the most still and quiet you've been all day - the most able-to-notice-things you've been all day.
I've always been one to look for the beauty in simplicity - to find things that feed my soul wherever I am. But still. People looked at me a little weird when I whipped out my camera in the lobby of the music studio and started snapping shots of a beat-up euphonium case...

DAILY BLISS: music teachers gushing over my son (his piano teacher said that talent and ability were "just oozing out of him") and a gorgeous, deep-orange to velvet-midnight-blue sunset.