Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Holding Things Loosely

Like many Orthodox Jews, my grandfather never made an appointment or spoke of any event in the future without adding the words "God willing." So whether someone said "I'll see you next Tuesday," or "We will have dinner in an hour," Grandpa would invariably respond, "God willing." God might, after all, end the world sometime between now and the chicken soup. There was never any fear in his voice when he said this, just a simple reminding of himself and those around him of the nature of things.

Life required us to hold things loosely, not to be attached to a particular outcome. The lunch appointment, the pot roast, the graduation, or the marriage--all were in God's hands. To be alive was to wait for the will of God to reveal itself. And one waited with curiousity. A sense of adventure. Much the way you read a detective story at bedtime, struggling to stay awake in order to discover what is true, to see how things will turn out.

--from "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Rachel Naomi Remen

This woman's writing always speaks to me and helps adjust my perspective. She's written other books too, I read one at the Oregon coast a few summers ago and keep meaning to order it. The excerpt above is timely, as we wait to see what happens with the house, and also as Jeff will be coming up on decision time with his job not too long from now. I'm trying to remember!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Adieu, Dear Home

We're in the midst of selling our home in Oregon, while living in Germany. Our renter is buying it, so at least we aren't going through the entire marketing process (thank you, thank you!), but the next few days are complicated, what with a nine hour time difference, and faxing papers back and forth, and consulting by phone with a real estate lawyer. And that's just the start! But in about a month, we should be finished, if all goes as planned.

I think I've mostly mourned the fact that I'll no longer be tending to my lavender, rosemary, and tarragon plants. And that the tulips and lilacs each spring will now be blooming for other owners. We do need to alert them to the presence of doggie graves in the backyard ("don't roto-till near the upper fence--you might bring up a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd skeleton..."). It is time to sell, I believe that, it's just all the memories connected with this house. Danielle, our 21 year old, moved into the place with us as a tiny seven month baby. All three kids learned to ride their bike in the cul-de-sac, David flipping over his handlebars in the process. Anna climbed the cherry tree every summer with Briana, from next door. And so on.

So, I look forward to whatever's ahead--but I did love that home and neighborhood. Adieu, dear home. May you be blessed with good raingutters and solid beams. Most of all, may the love and good times we experienced within those walls never be forgotten.

P.S. I know, this is a bit sappy, but that's how I'm feeling.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

We Are All Falling


The leaves are falling, falling as from way off,
as though far gardens withered in the skies:
they are falling with denying gestures.

And in the nights the heavy earth is falling
from all the stars down into loneliness.

We are all falling. This hand falls.
And look at others: it is in them all.

And yet there is one who holds this falling
endlessly gently in his hands.

By Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated from the German by M.D. Norton)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

China On My Mind

This last week, I've been thinking frequently about the country of China. Partly because Spidey ( ), whom I met via Real Live Preacher, is taking a Chinese class. And also because I have two great-grandparents buried in Chefoo, China. George Cornwell, my great grandfather who founded the Temple Hill English school in Chefoo, contracted cholera and died August 26, 1909. My great grandmother, Mary Cornwell, died six days after him. They were buried in Chefoo (I'm not sure if the name has changed, I'll have to look that up).

Ten year old Laura, my future grandmother,was sent back to New York with her brothers and sisters, to live on an aunt and uncle's farm. Later, after she grew up and graduated from college, Laura married and returned to China with my grandpa Dan. They worked in Changsha and Tungjen, both marked on the map below. When I was a little girl, grandma Laura told me many stories of her childhood in China--and I still plan on visiting there someday.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My First Meme

I copied this meme from Stacey at -- thanks RevStace!

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life
1. Hostess & Dessert-maker for King’s Table Buffet
2. Live-in Staff at Youth for Christ Girl’s Home (for thirteen to sixteen year old wards of the court)
3. Mental Health Therapist in Hospital Psychiatric Unit
4. Writer

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over
1. Winged Migration
2. Lord of the Rings movies
3. 7 Up documentary
4. Riverdance

Four Places I Have Lived
1. Brussels, Belgium (I was only two, so barely remember anything)
2. Murore, Burundi
3. Kijabe, Kenya (Rift Valley Academy)
4. Portland, Oregon

Four TV Shows I Love To Watch (this is tough, I hardly ever watch t.v…)
1. Candid Camera
2. Almost anything on PBS
3. The Messiah and other Christmas classical music specials
4. A Charlie Brown Halloween (love that great pumpkin)

Four Places I Have Been On Vacation
1. Lake Kivu, Rwanda (this is the place I learned to swim, on a missionary retreat with my family)
2. Paris, France
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Rome, Italy

Four Websites I Visit Daily
1. Real Live Preacher
2. Calvin College (our two oldest children are there)
3. (for email)
4. BBC News

Four Favorite Foods (feel free to send care packages!)
1. Lindt dark chocolate truffles
2. Tazo Earl Grey tea
3. Spicy chicken curry
4. Indian chai

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. In Oregon visiting friends and family
2. At Powells Bookstore browsing the shelves
3. Sipping a mocha at Coffee People
4. Visiting my brother in Bujumbura, Burundi

Consider yourself tagged if you read this, and leave a comment to let me know, so I can read your responses.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vive la France!

I always enjoy crossing the border into France. Conversation comes easily, even if I've forgotten much of the past and future tenses. And I can't forget the wonderful bakeries... did I mention the bakeries? Pain chocolat cures a variety of ills.
Madame Hertz-Meyer, our eighty-six year old hostess, lives in a huge house surrounded by riesling grape vines. She encouraged us to take many "promenades" around the quiet town of Eguisheim, situated on Alsace Lorraine's wine route. It was cold enough that all the vines were frosty, but the sun was shining. What more could we ask?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Step by Step

Here it is January, and I'm trying to get motivated. I've completed part of a collection of poems about Africa, and want to finish more so I have enough to submit to a children's book publisher. But this isn't happening quickly.

I ask you, what is it about some people, they seem to have the energy of ten? And to subsist on five hours of sleep a night? That's not me. When I was seven years old, maybe. But definitely not now.

Oh well. I'm closer to my goal than I was a month ago. And I've researched publishers online and in the Writer's Market book. Step by step... I have a feeling Abraham and Sarah might have been wishing things moved more quickly when they set off for the promised land. How many years did they travel? I'll have to look it up, but it was longer than Sarah'd planned, I'm quite sure.

"To everything there is a season." Yeah.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More Amusing Signs

Well, as promised, here's a further series of signs I found amusing--these photos were all taken in Salzburg, Austria during our December trip.

The man himself invites you to try "Mozart-Kugeln" (marzipan chocolates)
It's Sound of Music land, beware of painted bovines And you thought gore-tex was only for humans...
This sign is supposed to make me want to drink beer?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Von guten Mächten wunderbar geborgen

--Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, confined in a prison cell, December 1944.

Von guten Mächten treu und still umgeben,
behütet und getröstet wunderbar,
so will ich diese Tage mit euch leben,
und mit euch gehen in ein neues Jahr.

Von guten Mächten wunderbar geborgen
erwarten wir getrost, was kommen mag.
Gott ist bei uns am Abend und am Morgen
und ganz gewiss an jedem neuen Tag.

(I've only posted part of it, there are 7 stanzas altogether).