“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston
I think 2012 was definitely the year of questions – so many that sometimes it seemed overwhelming. Lots of changes for our family – some good, some great, and some just not so much. I watched my children be braver than I could ever hope to be as they started new schools. I am grateful for their strength and the people who guided them through those first days and weeks.
We unexpectedly lost Uncle V in 2012 and that has left a huge hole in our family. We are learning to think like four and not five – learning to remember with love the things he left behind – and move on from that loss, as well.
I am looking at 2013 and wondering what it holds. Regardless, my resolution is to be grateful and faithful.
Image Retrieved from Behold.com
Our journey continues in our new community with a new school and lots of changes for our girls. A long commute for Mom and and a new job for Dad. Several weeks into the new school year, things began to seem pretty bleak. Lots of things weighing on my shoulders and sometimes the long drive resulted in too much think time. Early mornings and late nights with little sleep also contributed to my black cloud.
However, one early morning, I had someone I love very much visit me in my dreams. Grandma Vera was standing before me smiling and calling me “Cinders,” which was her way for thirty years. Her presence was so near, and yet in a blink she was gone.
Did her memory bubble to the surface because it was September – our birthday month and the month she got sick? During that terrible autumn, I baked and canned like a crazy woman to block out the pain of her leaving us. And the day we lost her, I felt her spirit whisp past me in our drafty kitchen in Osmond. I was baking our favorite chocolate star cookies in an attempt to hang onto something that kept her close. This time, I am choosing to believe her visit was the sign I needed after a long silence. A message that all these things will be OK, just as they were when she first left us.
This is by far our smallest production year of the super secret salsa. Due to our move, we made no effort to plant a garden. However, after this weekend’s visit from my parents, we ended up with a bumper crop of tomatoes and a fully functioning kitchen sink. And so….Saturday was Salsa Day! It involves big, steaming pots, lots and lots of jars, and bags of good tortilla chips. Thankfully, our children love salsa because that’s all that we eat on Salsa Day – maybe adding some cheese if we feel frisky.
Salsa day is an almost twenty year tradition that began in Osmond, NE. Chris traded a good friend a basket of tomatoes for her salsa recipe. Chris also became known as the tomato man at church, and all the little ladies LOVED him and his bumper crop of vegetables. I still have the original printed copy of that recipe. It is now stained and brown from seasons of use. I treasure that friendship which continues today and the love that was passed in one piece of paper. That first trade provided us with some roots and a sense of community. Years later, after another move to another school district, that salsa recipe and its subsequent jars of fabulous-ness paved our way to friendship with many people we have come to cherish. Traditionally, Chris would insist on some type of trade for the secret information. As a librarian and believer in free speech, I pretty much just gave it to people I liked and trusted.
Our nephew grew up in our house eating salsa. As a husband and dad, he has carried on the salsa tradition, but prefers to steal as many jars as possible from our house. “Cause yours tastes better….” I have given him jars to take home, only to find three additional jars of contraband stuffed into the diaper bag.
Now, in a new community, salsa has again paved the way to new friendships. Chris has hauled jars to school to share with teachers and fellow administrators. It has become a conversation piece and provided a treat to share over meetings and preparations for the new school year. The famed super secret recipe had a moment of fame on Twitter as it was bartered and shared with some of our Twitter network. We ended up with a smashing snickerdoodle recipe! It has also strengthened those old bonds from Osmond as we shared memories with the children of the original recipe owner through Twitter.
I started thinking about how in Osmond, we had no smart phones and social media wasn’t even on the horizon. But this one recipe, like many others shared around the world, seems to bring us together over some spicy goodness that transcends technology and all our challenges.
This is what nineteen inches of snow looks like
Christmas came and went this year, somewhat disguised in a blur of blinding snow. Like most people, we spent the holiday at home and with no possibility of going anywhere else. With all the craziness of the holiday season, I think this was the Good Lord’s way of reminding us what does really matter. We spent three days in our pajamas, playing games and watching movies. When the skies finally cleared, we still had to wait for heavy equipment to dig us out. Thankfully, we had power throughout and plenty of provisions since Christmas dinner was supposed to be at our home.
Not sure what 2009 was on the Chinese calendar, but here it was the year of the sock monkey. There seemed to be a sock monkey explosion at our house with monkeys, pajamas and slippers. We made several of our new friends and purchased a couple. Santa brought a lifesize monkey on Christmas morning. His name is George Finkelmeier and is already the star of several videos that are still in the editing process. He also surved an attack by the dog and the gash on his leg is healing nicely. We discovered that Fox River socks also come in blue – so we had to add a blue monkey (Max) to our family.
Sock Monkey Christmas
Another blue monkey went to one of the little girls – and she promptly named it Sally. A rainbow monkey was created from the crazy socks worn during basketball last season because someone just couldn’t part with them. “A” has collected a few other pairs of crazy socks to create additional members of the gang. Dad is a little concerned about all the monkey business going on -but a little harmless fun is always in order.
H and I are sifting through the Sunday paper in a fog of fatigue and fever induced confusion. She’s wondering why the comics are only in color on Sunday. No idea. Three nights of little sleep and fever watch have left me in a state of dazed confusion. Made a trip to the local Wal-Mart on Friday PM to stock up on Children’s Motrin and Tylenol – shelves were empty. Two stores later – we finally had a new supply. Kind of creepy and quite unsettling. Couldn’t wait to get back home and maybe not leave again for awhile. They are not kidding when they say to expect a fever of 102+. Finally, turning a corner today.
Vivaldi Takes Considers a New Perspective
Vivaldi has abandoned his post at the end of the hall and spent time monitoring sleep and fevers with me. He slept with A for awhile and sat on H’s floor to watch her sleep. They have an understanding – he doesn’t sleep in her bed – and she doesn’t kick him off the bed. He finally sacked out in our bed – finding that I probably needed the moral support. Aside from his medical montoring activities, he’s taken an interest in peering over the banister and slapping unsuspecting individuals coming up the stairs.
We are not sure what he’s looking at – but he seems deep in thought about something. We’ve all looked over the banister to see if there is really something to look at – nothing out of the ordinary – except that the carpet on the steps desperately needs cleaning. I don’t think he’s worrying about that.
The first warm sunny day brings all the sheets off the beds and into the spring air. Everyone seems to sleep better on sheets that have been warmed by the sun. Dad and Grandpa built me a clothes line when we lived on the farm up North. Several years after moving away, we put two holes in the siding to install a retractable clothes line. No more borrowing the neighbors line to air out bedding on her non-laundry days.
Although we still are negotiating the hanging of towels – some like them fluffy – some like them crisp – I hang things on the line whenever the weather cooperates. Even though it is more work than stuffing sheets in the dryer – the feeling I get from hanging neat rows of laundry goes clear back to my childhood. Hanging washclothes for my mom, and taking down laundry for Grandma at her house on the farm.
The patio and gazebo are back together for the spring and summer season. Vivaldi staked his claim in the sunshine this morning, clearly not willing to share his warm spot. He is outside at night and inside with his feet in the air now that the weather is warm. He spents his evenings pretending to be invisible in the tall grass.
We planted a garden for the first time in ten years. We both agree that it was alot easier a decade ago and we had a great deal more energy. Things are coming up and we are looking forward to sharing the bounty and the work with the girls.
We have our own lilacs after a long wait, but they are not quite ready. Mr. Frog joined the family this spring and was happy to host some lilacs from a friend’s yard. Lilac season always reminds me of spring on the farm up North. It was time to open up the sand turtle for sand castles and the neighborhood mama cat stopped in to have her kittens and then leave them in our care later in the summer. It is the time when things started to wake up and I brought both my babies home. A. learned the color red by picking ripe strawberries. Now that my babies are older, I sometimes feel like I am forgetting to do something during May and June.