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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeding His Lambs

John 21:15  NRSV
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."

When our daughter Alida was 16, she asked our permission to join a group of adults and young people for a two-week trip to Bosnia, where they would run day camps for children.  The trip was sponsored by our church's New Jersey synod.  The purpose?  To give these children, who lived with the grim shadows of their civil war all around them, a day of pure fun . . . and to let them know that people cared.

Her father and I discussed it; we decided that 16 was too young for this.
We told her to wait a year, and see if she still wanted to go.
She did.
With some many misgivings, and after prayer and much discussion, we said Okay.

But I asked her, wouldn't it be better to send money to Bosnia,
for rebuilding, for job creation, for schools?
Why did a bunch of Americans
have to go and play with Bosnian children?

Because of Alida's age, Howard and I went to the planning meetings for this trip.
Not surprisingly, this question came up from more than one parent:
why not fund raise and send funds, instead of yourselves?

The trip coordinator, Jason Reed, quoted the Bible verse I put at the beginning of this post.

In that post-Resurrection conversation,
Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs.

To feed a newborn lamb takes patience, and presence;
you can't just throw food at it from a distance.
You need to hold it, and bottle feed it, and care for it faithfully.  It needs you to be there.

That, said Jason, is why we go.  We are feeding His lambs,
feeding them with our love and care, our games and laughter and song.

Those weren't his exact words -- it's been a long time -- but you get the idea.
And I got it, too, and (kind of reluctantly) understood.

 The physical presence of the Americans
among these children was in itself a gift to them.

I thought of Jason and his explanation today, as Anne and I helped bring bagged lunches
to people who have lost so much in the recent flooding.
They were hungry as they cleaned out their sodden living rooms
and began hacking at their walls and flooring; the food was certainly welcome.
That's daughter Anne knocking on the door; no one was home at this house.

But I realized as we moved through this once-lovely neighborhood, that being there was also important.
Waiting for the trash trucks.

It means a lot.  If you've been in a similar circumstance, you know what I mean.
Even the smallest kindness, like a simple bagged lunch, and a smile, can lift your spirits.

Someone came.  Someone cares.

Annie has gone back to school; classes and her work start tomorrow.
But I will be joining the other church ladies for as long as there is need,
feeding His lambs.

Thank you Anne and Judy and Emily for being the runners for the red minivan today!

Best comment of the day:
Elderly lady, sitting amidst the rubble of her home, to Anne:  "Where are you from again?"
Anne:  "The Lutheran church on the Turnpike."
Elderly lady:  "Ah, trying to show up the Reformed Church, are ya?"
How did she know?  :-)
I'm afraid I can't remember how many times Alida went back to Bosnia.  Four?  Five?
I can't say that those two weeks each summer weren't fraught with anxiety for me,
and seeing her come through customs at Kennedy Airport each time was a great joy.

Alida has written about a few of her experiences in Bosnia on a blog (like mother, like daughter).
Some posts are book reviews, others are about the trips.
You can visit Journeys of a Jersey Girl by clicking here.

And special for my Jersey Girl who now lives in California,
a final flood picture for today, of a favorite high school destination:

Anne and I drove through this little downtown area on our way home from church;
the waters have left the streets and shops, but it's a massive cleanup job.

I'm sorry I am not posting my usual stuff,
and I apologize for not getting to as many of your posts as I'd like;
I'll be back in form soon, I promise!  -- Cass

What Can We Do?

In about an hour, Anne and I will be leaving,
heading to our church to help make bag lunches
for people in the local flooded areas.

In the car is our dehumidifier, which Howard bought earlier this
month to dry out the new concrete on the French drains in our cellar.
Someone right now needs it more than we do,
because we are lottery-win-style lucky.

Had we not moved to That Old House 3-and-a-half years ago, we'd be in the thick of it.

See that stop sign?  On the other side of that road is the old house we used to live in.
Dion used to read his "pee-mail" on that street sign, now nearly submerged.
I lifted this picture from the Facebook page of our former babysitter and neighbor, Jackie.  

Our dear old Craftsman, in the late Fall of 2007.

I still have dreams that we live here.
I think you always feel a special love for the house where your children grew up.

Well, we're off to make sandwiches; it's such a small thing, but at least it's something.

Enjoy your Wednesday!  See you tomorrow ... Cass

Link Party!
It's Outdoor Wednesday at Susan's blog, A Southern Daydreamer. Go visit! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Lantern Top?

So when I thought we had absolutely no damage
from Tropical Storm Irene (nee Hurricane),
I might have been just a little mistaken.

This morning my husband said to me,
"Did you notice that the top of the outside lantern is gone?"


That must have happened while Annie and I were sitting on the study sofa
watching The Weather Channel, accompanied by nachos and wine.

But yes, the pagoda-like top of the lamp near our street steps
has clearly gone A.W.O.L.
As for finding it, it's probably blown away to Poughkeepsie.
Now you have to keep a secret.  I picked out this lantern, but once it was installed I realized it was too small,
so I've never liked it.  I may not look all that carefully for the lamp lid carcass on the lawn.
This is my chance to get it replaced; don't tell Howard, okay?  Okay.  I'll keep your secrets, too.
Pinky swear.
This morning I reached for a shampoo towel in our bathroom
linen closet, and it was wet.  And so were its little shampoo towel siblings.
All damp.

I looked up, and it seems that clever Irene found a spot in the roof to
wiggle her way into the attic, and then down into the linen closet.
Bad, bad Irene.
Anyone know a good roofer in Morris County NJ?
Meanwhile, we are wondering how the beach house fared in this.
That's our family house, on the left -- hope the cove still looks like this!  From July 2011.
I have tried calling some people who live in the area -- like our plumber -- but all I get is
"We're sorry.  Your call cannot go through."

There are loads of trees down.  Some of the crops out there took a beating, too.
This corn is definitely no longer as high as an elephant's eye.
This shot and the next two from, taken by Wendy Annibell
 A beautiful sailboat, beached, in Cutchogue.
Note the name of the boat:  Bittersweet.
 Anne and I had breakfast on this beach in Greenport, last Wednesday.
What sand?

Otherwise, for our family, all is well.  Our "damage" is negligible and easily repairable,
although check back with me if we need the whole roof replaced.  You'll find me in the local debtor's prison.

Our church is lining up assistance for the half dozen or so member families who have suffered terrible damage in this storm,
and Annie and I will do what we can tomorrow.  I'm sure other religious and civic organizations all along the Atlantic coast
are doing the same.  Having lived through floods, I know how good it is to have someone come and care.

-- Cass

A personal P.S. -- Just so the family members who read the blog are up to date. . .   My brother Lindy and his wife Carol in North Carolina are still without power, and it is getting hot and humid there now; many of their neighbors are abandoning ship and moving someplace with electricity for the duration.  My other brother Kirby and his wife, who live in Williamsburg, VA, have had their power restored, but no cable or internet or land line phone.  I talked with Doris today and she hopes Lindy and Carol will move in with them for a few days.  Everyone likes a post-storm slumber party.  Love to all.
P.P.S.  Carol and Lindy have power now -- so they are basking in blessed air conditioning!

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other . . . .

Here at That Old House, we weathered Irene just fine.
Our worst damage?
Anne went out last evening to walk Dion,
and came back with Dion and a shutter.

One of our shutters lost its pintel hinge -- at the bottom --
and was hanging onto the house by only its top hinge.

Which probably explained the occasional thumps against the clapboards during the high winds.
Easily fixed, and a very minor inconvenience.


With Tropical Storm Irene (nee Hurricane) gone,
I just need to say . . . 

On behalf of the 1 in 5 Americans who experienced Irene,
and the Canadians and Bahamians who also were in her path,
thank you 
for the good wishes, positive thoughts, and many prayers from
all over the world that flew with Irene up the Atlantic coast.
This fawn is in our former neighborhood.
Now, we live on a hill but my heart is with my old neighborhood and the record breaking flooding there.

To the governors, mayors, and emergency management officials
who painted the direst picture for us ahead of Irene's arrival
and urged us in no uncertain terms to take all precautions,
thank you.
This is the town where our daughter Anne lives.
She wisely rode out the storm at That Old House.

To the people who chose to defy the evacuation orders and
"ride out" the storm in their own homes, or visited
the scene of the action because they were curious -- shame on you.

Your selfish, thoughtless actions put the lives of
emergency personnel at risk, and -- although less importantly
-- add to the already burdensome cost to the public.

If you have sufficient warning about an impending disaster, and the ability to leave,
and you choose to stay in harm's way -- you should be fined at the very least.
If I were Queen, I'd have you put in the public stocks so that firefighters and policemen
and military rescue personnel could throw flood-soaked debris at you, and call you unflattering names.

Golly, Cass, how do you really feel?
On the whole, we were lucky because Irene could have been worse.
But what she was, was very bad indeed.
Thank you, Laura Schank from Lincoln Park, for this shot of Wolfson's Market, the world's best little food store.
Our daughter Anne worked here -- her first-ever summer job.  The owners and employees are wonderful folks
and seeing water halfway up the door is startling and upsetting.

It won't be until emergency personnel and reporters can get into
towns now cut off from the world by water . . . 
it won't be until then that we will see the true extent of the damage.

Irene's winds tore up trees and did some damage,
but her real legacy is her water.

Along the coast, storm surges from the ocean or other salt water bodies roar in,
and then they roar rather quickly back out again.
And you pick up the pieces. 
In some communities all along the coast, there are a lot of pieces to pick up.

Freshwater flooding is very different.
There are flash floods, when smaller rivers and streams suddenly go rogue and --
like a storm surge -- quickly inundate,
do their damage and then leave.  And, you pick up the pieces.

Then there is the type of flooding that doesn't clear out quickly.
It's from the larger rivers, and New Jersey is full of them.
And they are over-full of water from Irene, which is still rising into neighborhoods,
shopping centers, parks, industrial areas, and small and large roads and parkways.

It takes days for this water to get back into the rivers' banks.
And it leaves behind a gawd-awful mess.

We used to live along a river, and several times had a basement full of water from the river --
a river that most of the time was a delight to watch.
But our old neighborhood is under much more water now; Irene brought disaster there.
It breaks my heart.

The good news is that disasters bring out the best in most of us.
People are helping people, just as we saw in Joplin and,
unfortunately, too many places this year.

Keep those prayers and good thoughts coming, folks!
It amazes me that all we have to clean off our front porch are some leaves.

It is a spectacularly beautiful day in the North East.
One other thing hurricanes leave behind
are skies scrubbed clean
and brilliant sunshine.

Good luck to all -- Cass

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain ....

On Saturday Night we got pounded.
Crazy Irene came to town.
She blew and she spat and she sounded
Like she wanted to blow the house down.
Irene, Goodnight.
Irene, Goodnight.
Goodnight Irene, Goodnight Irene.
Stop giving me bad dreams!

Okay, I promise, no more bad rhymes or songs.
At least not today.

It is 4:00 in the morning on Sunday, and Hurricane Irene is not done with us yet.
According to the weather dudes, she hasn't gotten up to speed around here.
Oh joy.

Howard is in Manhattan until Monday night, so Anne and Dion and I are holding down the fort.
It's awfully noisy; we have a translucent ceiling in the sunroom and every drop can be heard.
The winds are just now picking up, there have been a few thuds outside, and I can't settle down to go to bed.  Yet.  Or, at all.

So what's a gal to do?  Blog, of course.

I'm recycling a post from August 2009, and it's about rain.

What does this look like?

No, it is not a bad painting of Niagara Falls.

Stay tuned; all will be made clear. Well, not really clear. . . you'll see!


We look through a glass darkly.

See that long piece of granite on the left? It is the step from the lawn
behind the house, down to the patio outside the conservatory.

Look closer.
There's our Niagara Falls, at the end near the steps:

On Saturday, when we traveled down to the Jersey shore
to pick up my 99-cent high-class Hooker coffee table
(read about that here, if you are curious),
we had brilliant sunshine on the Garden State Parkway.

That was Saturday, August 2009.  It didn't last.
On Sunday. . . I took these pictures through our conservatory windows:

The last time we saw this much water swamp That Old House this quickly, was the first day we owned it.
We ran for our soggy lives from the driveway into the sunroom.
It was also the day we discovered that rain on a conservatory roof is really loud,
and that the boiler room gets puddles during very heavy downpours.

Welcome, Mr and Mrs New Mortgageowner, to your new home!

These pictures aren't great, because they were taken through rain-spattered glass, but you can see the water
a couple of inches deep on top of the patio pavers, with ripples from the wind on the surface.

How big is a cubit anyway?
And that's my lazy post for this Sunday, linked to 
Sunday Favorites, at Chari's Happy To Design blog.

Click here!

Since I fully expect to lose power when Irene really begins
blowing in about an hour, I thought I'd better post now.

Irene is already causing our shutters to flap and tree limbs to go flying,
and odd things to thud against the house.  And our patio is already covered in a few inches of water.
Can't wait to see what else she has in store.
And she's spawning tornadoes.  Charming.

I hope that all 65 million of us in Irene's path use our God-given common sense, and stay indoors and safe.  And Irene?  You've made your point; go home.  No, really.  GO HOME.  Thanks.  -- Cass

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary to us . . .
Hey.  Hey!  Where are you going???

In a couple of hours, my husband Howard will head to
New York City, on this our 33rd Wedding Anniversary.

I will not be in the car.

He will be staying tonight and Sunday night at
the London NYC Hotel, with its Gordon Ramsay restaurants.

I will be staying at That Old Housewith its
non-perishable cans of soup and its graham crackers.

This is what happens when you work in the news biz.

After 33 years, Howard is a wise husband.

Upon his return from a hunter-gatherer trip this morning, he put these in my arms:
a dozen red roses from my favorite florist, Charlie at Dickerson's in nearby Dover.

Charlie told him that he was the 5th or 6th person buying roses today.
Odd.  What's romantic about hurricanes?

They are gorgeous!  Thank you, O Husband of 33 Years.
See you Monday night around ten!

So about that Irene. . . 
at 8:15 this morning my brother called from North Carolina, where
he and his wife have a waterfront home in the Inner Banks;
their power was out, and the water was over their dock
and creeping into the yard.  I haven't heard from him since but
we are assuming no news is good news.

My other brother and his wife live in Tidewater Virginia.
We spoke just after 11:30. They still had power.  Fingers crossed.

And us? We had a teeny spatter of rain on the sunroom roof at 12:05.
Little spurts since then.  We'll be fine.
Yesterday, New Jersey's governor Chris Christie explained,
in blunt New Jersey fashion, what people along the shores should do.  

And he is right.
While the effects of Irene may not be as bad as they might have been, there are no guarantees with Nature.
It's that old chestnut:  Better safe than sorry.

Enjoy your Saturday!  If you are under Irene, hunker down, and God bless.
Remember that things can be fixed or replaced; you can't.  -- Cass

Friday, August 26, 2011

Of Teensy Old Cups and a Wise New Owl

Sometimes the postman doesn't even ring at all,
but just stands on our front steps,
slides a box across our porch floor,
and watches it come to rest against the front door.  Slam.
Note to self:  Take down the hanging asparagus fern before Irene does it for me.
Then he leaves.  And I get to bring the box in, and open it.
I love that part.
Last week I shared my plan for gluing innocent, unsuspecting
demitasse cups to their saucers, and making Christmas tree ornaments out of them.

See?  Like this:
I still need to add ribbon and a little bling, because what is a
Christmas tree ornament without some bling, but what I need
even more are more demitasse sets to glue!  So far, I have 11.

What should show up outside my front door yesterday, but a box.
In the box -- yes you guessed it! -- more demitasse cups and saucers.
Are these pretty, or what?
There are four sets in the box, but I'm not unpacking them all yet
because today I'm busy with house things.

But I had to show you the two cups I unwrapped.
What dust?  I don't see no stinkin' dust.
 My keyboard is a different color than my computer;
I wore the letters off the matching keyboard.
 This was an eBay auction with an opening bid of 99-cents.
I was the only bidder.
 The saucers are buried in the bottom of the box, and there they will stay until I get my glue out
and begin to transform these old demitasse cups into ornaments for our dining room tree.  
Meanwhile, back in the box!

A quick Google of Schwarzburg porcelain marks tells me they date from between 1904 and 1924.
Except for that one crack in the one cup, they are in excellent condition.
They have asked that they spend their retirement years hanging on a Christmas tree
in our dining room, with time out for good behavior, napping in the attic.

I wonder where they've been all these years?
Now I know all about our next box buddy!

Earlier this month, my friend Carol, who has a lovely
blog called Serendipity, had a giveaway.
And I won one of the prizes!

Whooooo is in the box?
 He is, that's Who!
 I have always loved owls and collected a gajillion of them in my youth.
Now, I still love them but have pared down my collection, and am
delighted to add this little fella to the bunch!

Carol said she thought his colors would be good for our beach house.  And they are.
When Anne and I went out this week to Irene-proof the house, we brought him with.
 Here he is, lolling in the Master bedroom.
He looks quite at home, don't you think?
I told him he was in charge of the house, and that we expected
to find it all intact and as normal after the Hurricane.

I suspect he may find his way upstairs, to the twin room that
was once the sewing room; that room is even more his color!

Thank you, Carol, for this adorable owl pillow -- he makes me smile!
My daughter Anne covets him, so I need to be vigilant that he doesn't end up in her apartment. 

And if you haven't visited Carol at Serendipity, you should!
She has beautiful photographs, and gorgeous quilts to share.

One last thing for me to share:  A Farmhouse Chore.
Ahead of the threat of Hurricane Irene, we are taking down the shutters on the first floor.
 These old shutters don't have secure ties to the house to keep them from flapping, and they are too
old and rickety to actually close them anymore to protect the windows.  So while it's lovely to have an old house with a big front porch and big old shutters, it also means that when a big storm is looming, there's a little bit of work to do!  Out at the beach house we cleared the decks.  Here, we clear the porch!  -- Cass

Link Parties!
LaurieAnna's Vintage Home is sponsoring a new meme -- Farmhouse Friday Click here!
At My Romantic Home, it's Show And Tell Friday Click here!

It's Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage.  Click here!
The Charm of Home features Home Sweet Home on Fridays.  Click here!
It's Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground.  Click here!