Sunday, June 29, 2008

For Mike

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a gentleman from Minnesota named Mike who loves music, his friends and most of all, his family.

Three months ago his beloved father was diagnosed with cancer and given little hope for survival. But with many prayers, good thoughts and hope he is doing well and was able to share this past Father's Day with his sons.

When I heard this song I thought of Mike and how he and his father are living each day as it comes, rejoicing in the moments that they share and taking nothing for granted. We could all learn a lesson from them and from this beautiful melody by Josh Groban that tells us to be awake through all the blessings we are given and live each day with joy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Backyard Pyramid

pyr·a·mid [pírrəmid]

system with expanding structure: an arrangement or system that has a small number of items at one point and expands gradually to have a large number at the opposite point

Though the sky in this photograph is hardly spectacular, to me these six faces make it special.

For more Sky Watch, visit Wiggers World.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yes.....they're mine!

Raising teenagers is an adventure. Just by watching their antics and listening to their laughter, I feel young, hopeful...alive.

My daughter and son are never far from "quirky", and I love that about them. A girl they go to school with saw these photographs and said that they must have been really bored the night they took them. I beg to differ. It isn't that they have nothing to do, but simply that they find joy in whatever they do. Even if it's taking silly pictures in our backyard with a group of their friends (and a dog or two).

Lucky them....lucky me. And lucky the world that awaits all the fun they will share!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Paper Doll

Oh, you beautiful doll
You great big beautiful doll,
Let me put my arms about you,
I could never live without you.
Oh, you beautiful doll
You great big beautiful doll,
If you'd ever leave me how my heart would ache,
I want to hug you but I fear you'll break,
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh, you beautiful doll!

While going through old books this afternoon during a reorganization of our family room, I came across a folder of paper dolls from my childhood days. Among them I found this sweet, red-haired baby with brown eyes and a cherub's face. I remembered how much I had loved playing with her, evident by the tears and tape across her little body.

And then it struck me how much she looked like my own red-haired, brown-eyed baby girl of many years ago. Interesting how things in life repeat themselves in strange and wonderful ways if we are observant enough to take note. But as much as I delighted in this paper baby as a little girl myself, she couldn't compare to the joy I experienced from the real thing in the years ahead.

When my daughter was little, my mother used to call her "my little paper doll." With her easy smile and delicate ways, it seemed a fitting description for the tiny miss that she used to be. She's all grown up now; a young lady that long ago surpassed the love I held for my paper toys. And though I'm now too old for dolls, I will never outgrown my love for the real live, red-haired baby I once held in my arms, and forever hold in my heart.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Badminton

Though I've had just about enough of the thunderstorms these past few weeks, I have to admit it's given me some wonderful cloud photographs for Sky Watch.

This storm mixed it up in the east so was already past us before it began. It made an excellent backdrop for an evening of badminton, and an interesting subject for me to shoot.
Please visit Tom's blog at Wiggers World for more Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Someone I've been missing...

My son has just returned to Kansas after a week long fishing trip up to Canada with his dad. Though the vacation itself was only seven days, he's been gone from home for almost two weeks....and I've really missed him.

They said that it was a cold trip this year and it's evident by their layers and coats. But something must have been just right in the air, or in this case, the water because the Northern Pike were definitely biting!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I love this picture of my dad, taken in 1944 during his senior year of high school. In it the smile of a young man, just beginning his journey, lights up the photograph with a grin nearly identical to my own teenage boy - his grandson.

He had no way of knowing that he was to meet my mother and have six children together, who in turn would give him twelve grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He also had no knowledge of the trials life would throw his way, nor the joys that would over ride any sorrow in his life.

My father. A man of integrity and honor. A gentle soul who loves babies and animals, who tends the flower garden with my mom and takes pride in his own small garden at the back of the yard. A man who loves trains and old telephones and at 80 years old, still rides his bicycle around town. A man who doesn't know a stranger and believes in the goodness of his fellow man. A man who adores my mother and has shared almost 60 years of married life with her. A man I am proud of, respect and look up to.

Six children can tax a one-parent income, but I never felt this from my father. He went to work every day, knowing we were safe and loved in my mother's embrace and came home each night with the resolution to keep earning, keep giving, keep going. I always felt valued, and though one of three daughters and one of a brood of kids, felt special. I still do.

These days when I go home, he greets me with that same wonderful smile, worries about me like I'm still 17 and as always, calls me "Lor". He is the pillar in my life that never wavers, remaining steadfast through both shadows and sun. He has given me a name that I will always treasure, knowing it was handed down in honor by a man whose quiet goodness is matched by few.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thank you for all you have done and given me. No matter where I go or what last name I bear, inside I will always be a Slater, and because of that...... I'm rich.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Approaching Storm

Kansas has been plagued with many storms this spring that have threatened and rumbled across the landscape. Though I am a native of the prairie, I've never gotten used to the anger of an approaching thunderstorm. It is something to be respected, always, and not taken lightly.

In the same breath, I can also appreciate the amazing beauty of the clouds and sky as they put on a spectacular show unmatched by anything else. These photos are exactly as the horizon looked before one of these storms. The white clouds above the house made me feel as if I should blink to clear my sight as they appeared as a "double vision" to the beholder. The puffy hail clouds above the sunset had a true silver lining: promising - and delivering - a sun-filled morrow.

For more on Skywatch Friday, please visit our gracious host, Tom, at Wiggers World.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Aunt Nora

Aunt Nora was born into the Crawford family in the early 1900's. I know very little about her growing up years other than the fact that she had an older brother Vachel, who was my first husband's maternal grandfather.

I have always thought that this high school picture, taken her senior year, is the most beautiful I've ever seen of a young woman of that era. Perhaps of all time. Except, of course, for my own daughter who through my eyes, is matched by none. But then, the same blood courses through their veins, and I'm told that my daughter's great, great Aunt Nora also had a head of beautiful auburn hair.

Due to finances, only one child could attend college. It was decided that Nora would go. She studied Art at the University of Kansas back in the 1920's; a time when college was not the natural progression of a young woman's post high school years. Somewhere is her drawing board where pen and ink sketches of hairstyles and fancy shoes still flow across wood.

She went on to teach Art at a community college and met and married Harlan Blachly. They lived in a small Kansas town all of their years together and were fortunate enough to travel and see the world.

I met Aunt Nora in 1982 when I was 20 and she was in her 70's. From the beginning I knew she was someone special. She was elegant and classy, loved KU basketball, playing the piano and all that was fair. I never heard a cross word or an ounce of gossip from her; she was a true lady in every sense of the word and a kindred spirit in a family where I sometimes felt I didn't quite fit. Though she wasn't really my family, she always accepted me as hers.

After my daughter was born, Aunt Nora gave her this pen and ink drawing done in college, somewhere around 1927. Having no children of her own and knowing our love for Art, it was passed down two generations so that when my daughter has a home of her own, it can hang on those walls. It will always be a reminder of this beautiful woman in her life; a woman she was just getting to know.

Today, June 9th, was Aunt Nora's birthday. She passed away a few years ago and is laid to rest beside her beloved husband in a quiet cemetery along the prairie. She left behind a legacy of kindness and compassion, a true Christian spirit of loving thy neighbor, and a radiant smile we will always remember.
Happy Birthday, Aunt Nora. You are missed.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Where, Harvest?

Last year I wrote about the wheat crop and the devastation of our farmer's harvest. With the combination of a late freeze and a rainy spring, the earth produced short small stalks and weedy fields.

This year promised to be a bumper crop. Tall golden wheat rose proudly across the prairie, straight and healthy; a beautiful consolation for the previous year.

Combines posed ready beside tin implement sheds as the farmers waited patiently those last two weeks for the wheat to turn from green to gold...... and hopes were high.

Then it happened. Again. Thunderclouds gathered on muggy afternoons unleashing their violent temper night after night. This last week we've been hit with two major storms that broke strong tree branches and saturated the ground. In between each storm the wind would continue to blow, but blue sunny skies renewed hope that the crop could still be saved.

Tonight I drove down our road and watched as yet another front came rolling across the landscape.
I looked at the fields that had taken a beating yet continued to stand with the golden promise of what could still be. And I hoped that the storm would pass around to our north - or better yet - dissipate completely and give our farmers a reprieve.

I turned the car back towards home and my heart fell as I got out, looked back over my shoulder and saw the storm rapidly approaching. I had time to snap a quick picture before the lightening got too close then came inside to watch from my west bedroom window.

It was a matter of moments before the wind gust was upon us, smashing against our little trees and carrying precious top soil across the horizon. And with it came rain. Lots of it. Again.

Once more the Kansas farmers... our friends, our neighbors..... are fighting the elements during an already difficult economical time. And the hopes of all their toil are once more dashed in the midst of a harsh and seemingly relentless spring.

When you buy your bread this summer, think about these people who have worked so hard to put food on your tables, and ask God to grace them with peace, perseverance and hope.

In the midst of all this gray, it's very difficult for them to see the rainbow.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Badminton Anyone?

Before all the storms of this past week began to hit, the kids took to the back yard for an evening of badminton against the golden backdrop of dusk. I sat in the grass with our new puppy, Lucy, braving the chiggers and watched as they ran after the little plastic birdie. It didn't matter that they couldn't find the net. With five acres of room and a glorious evening, it wasn't necessary...and hardly the point.

To the east the clouds gathered in lovely billows of white cotton: a thing of beauty for me - an evening of storms for someone else. Turning to the west I could see faces raised to the sky and hear laughter floating through the air.

I'm happiest when there are young ones around, for merriment is always better when multiplied and shared. The heart of a teenager is still optimistic and uncluttered from the world's trials and disappointments. The smiles and laughter are real, unrehearsed and contagious.

May the joys of the summer find you too this weekend, and may you celebrate their glory with the enthusiasm and energy of youth.

Give it a try!

I stole this off of John's blog and wanted to see how it worked. Too many songs to choose from, but my husband and I had a lot of fun remembering some golden oldies and dancing to one of our favorites.