Monthly Archives: April 2015

Unexpected in the Miele

One of the things I do daily in this household of five (and sometimes six) is unload the dishwasher.  It is just one of those things that needs to be done, and I often combine a phone chat while I’m doing it to distract me from the mundane.  So, the other day I was on the phone with someone (if it was YOU would you please remind this fur brain) and I had finished the first rack and was on the middle rack (my Miele model has three levels) that holds mostly cups and drinking glasses and measuring cups and then lids stuffed in among the drinking utensils (so that they can stay upright and are not as apt to collect water).  Between the water and juice and coffee and tea, this rack is always the first to fill up.

Things were moving cheerfully along and I was in fine spirits until I reached for something to put away and I saw the strangest thing.  There was this thing!  A greyish lumpy thing, hung up over one of the grids of the dishwasher rack.  It looked like a small, melted mouse, all hung up and drowned, hung up on a wire.  Its long, skinny tail hung down dejectedly.

I felt sick.  I gingerly pinched its back where it was doubled over the vinyl covered strand and pulled it off, trying not to gag. It was very soft and squishy.  What about that load of dishes, now mostly put away?  How had a mouse gotten into my dishwasher?  I felt like not looking at it, but this thing begged my attention.


It wasn’t a mouse.  It was a large tea bag.  The string trailed its deceptive ruse of a tail, as the grey-brown bag hung from my pinched fingers.


Oh, well.  That’s actually a better scenario.  I put the offending tea bag in the trash and went back to my job.  Nothing like the unexpected to break up the monotony of an ordinary job.

In other news, the first big bouquet of lilacs is on the table, making the house smell wonderful.  How I am enjoying these glorious days of spring!


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Filed under Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

First Hummer and Thoughts of Grace

The wind is  blowing wild, wild.  The rain, like a cloud of mist from my spray bottle when I’m ironing, blows around the shed, into the garden and across the yard at Shady Acres.  I feel it smooth over my face as I scramble to cut the last few stalks of asparagus that can be called “ready.”

The house feels safe and dry and warm.  Cecilia rocks to the gentle music of Fisher Prices “Baby’s First Hymns” in her chair and I call my Sweet Mama to see if it is raining there.  We chat about the surprise storm and then, suddenly–!

“Oh, there’s a hummingbird!”  My Mama’s voice is light and full of joy.

“Really???” I ask, almost enviously.  I’ve been looking for hummers for a couple of days, and even put two feeders up last evening, hoping to entice early scouts to our yard.

“Yes,” breathes my Sweet Mama.  “And I don’t have any food in mine yet.”

I come out of the study into the kitchen and mosey on over to the window.  At that very moment, a flash of green with a ruby red throat caught my eye as it made a dash for my most protected feeder on the deck.  I catch my breath.

“Mama!”  I say, almost unable to believe my eyes.  “I have one, too!  Just now!  It’s the first one I’ve seen this season!  I can’t believe it!  I am so happy!!!”

He darted around for a lengthy amount of time for such a flighty little bird.  He looked healthy and fit and ready for another summer.  I wonder how he likes this unpredictable weather, even while noting that it probably was somewhat the weather that drew him to a stable source of sustenance.  And I gave thanks for the unexpected gale.

The days since just before Easter have been tumultuous for this Delaware Grammy.  Just hard decisions to make, trying to please the right people while not making enemies of the ones who may or may not have the right to speak to the situation.  Wishing with all my heart to spend time with the Ohio grandchildren, but understanding that it just isn’t going to happen right now.  I’m feeling keenly some losses, and also feeling sad over choices made that were not mine to make, but never the less, are still heavy on my heart.  And there have been some difficult psychotic moments with Nettie and some trying, anxious moments with Cecilia.   More than once, it has felt like gale force winds and blinding rain. Today, at a funeral for an old lady that I barely knew, I found myself crying and knew it had nothing to do with the funeral and everything to do with how life is on several fronts right now.

I watched that little hummer at the feeder, blown by the wind, but seemingly indifferent to it, and realized again how it is really all good!  All these things that drive us to the stable source of soul sustenance are all good.  And I do not need to fret or worry or be dismayed.  The One who loves me and knows what I need is on the watch, and He will provide.

In my heart ring the lyrics of my Grandpa Dave Yoder’s favorite song:

  1. If, on a quiet sea,
    Toward Heav’n we calmly sail,
    With grateful hearts, O God, to Thee,
    We’ll own the fav’ring gale;
    With grateful hearts, O God, to Thee,
    We’ll own the fav’ring gale.
  2. But should the surges rise,
    And rest delay to come,
    Blest be the tempest, kind the storm,
    Which drives us nearer home;
    Blest be the tempest, kind the storm,
    Which drives us nearer home.
  3. Soon shall our doubts and fears
    All yield to Thy control;
    Thy tender mercies shall illume
    The midnight of the soul;
    Thy tender mercies shall illume
    The midnight of the soul.
  4. Teach us, in every state,
    To make Thy will our own;
    And when the joys of sense depart,
    To live by faith alone;
    And when the joys of sense depart,
    To live by faith alone.
    ~Lowell Mason

The sun is suddenly peeking out on this unpredictable day, and women I love are coming for our own small group while the men go to see Gary Burlingame.  There will be kind words, prayers and encouragement.

These days are made better by these glimpses of glory, touches of grace.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Spring has Sprung


“Sum’ping happened to mine parrel . . .”

The squirrel is on the fruit and nut block again. I tap my fingernail against the glass. He looks briefly in my direction, then darts up the tree and out to the sunflower seed feeder. I give up on the window tapping and go to the sun room door and open it to encourage him to move on.  He flits about in the upper branches, scolding and watchful.  He makes me laugh and I go back inside.  I have a hard time being venomous with the squirrels.  26 years ago when we moved to Shady Acres, the name, though old and established, was a misnomer.  There was almost no shade.  There were no wild animals to be seen, either.  We moved from our house at the edge of the Andrewsville Woods and I missed the squirrels and birds and woodland fauna that surrounded our house there.  A tree farm in its earliest stages bordered our new property, and held some promise, and Certain Man wasted no time in planting trees wherever he could imagine one growing.  Over the years, the shade has made welcome inroads, the tree farm has been home to woodland creatures, and the squirrels are frequent visitors to the feeders and feeding stations around the yard.  Certain Man will shout and scold them sometimes, but he also loves the fact that the environment is hospitable to the creatures.

This was a rainy morning.  I took my camera and strolled about catching some pictures in the morning light.  There were raindrops on my tulips, glimmering jewel-like against the rich colors.


And that whiskey half-barrel that has served me so well so many years really has given up the ghost.  Last year, it showed signs of great disrepair, but I decided that its dilapidated state only added to its beauty, and I carefully nursed it through another year.  I don’t think I can do that this year.


All around the yard, there are signs of spring and new life.


The tulips along the grape arbor are really putting on a show.


The bluebirds are building their nest.


As is some other bird in the blue spruce.  I haven’t figured out what kind of bird this is.  Usually a Mocker builds in this particular tree, but I don’t think this is a Mocker’s nest.  Too messy.

This afternoon, our trusty helper, Grant Miller, is mowing the lawn.  The smell of fresh cut grass is coming through the open window, and the birds are singing.  Certain Man is home from work and looking at a busy and full evening.  He has planted some of his vegetable garden, and there are some tender shoots making their way up.  I cut my first cutting of asparagus a few days ago and lo!  And behold!  There are bunches more to cut tonight. Certain Man just said that I had better get at it.  And so, I shall!  The evening of this wonderfully ordinary day is moving in, and I give grateful praise.

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Of Life and Hope and Frieda and Heaven

It’s the first Easter without her. Somehow the resurrection and the promise of The Eternal comfort me like never before. My brother was here this weekend, moving though our lives with grace, some tears, but also a determination to remember the good. He saw family, laughed and watched the activity that never stops when the Yoders are together, visited with Frieda’s family, fellowshipped with old friends, laughed with his cousins, comforted his aging mother with his presence and his tender care, ate pickled eggs and read old books. He was home, but he wasn’t. Never more than a breath away are the memories, drawing him to another time and another place. So many things to remember. He is a more pensive, gentler version of the man he has been, and though the grief has changed him, it hasn’t made him angry or bitter.

Saturday would have been her birthday. It is strange to mark the day without her. Even as I know that this is the way of LIFE, I hate this death business. Even stranger to me is how we mark a death and rejoice in a resurrection on the same weekend, but live as if we aren’t really paying attention to the fact that we have this hope within us. Most of the time, we don’t want to think about dying.

Tonight, I think of those who are already there, and wonder what they are doing. Has it been a split second for Daddy, these nine years since he crossed over? I just cannot comprehend. Sometimes I think I have to wrap my mind around it somehow. But how can a mere mortal understand Eternity, the very presence of God and His GLORY?

I stopped at my Daddy’s grave last week to think and pray and cry. In the next row, Freida’s gravestone, newly placed sat in its simple beauty. I hadn’t seen it there before, and in that moment I acutely missed the grace and honesty and fire that was my red-haired sister in law. I stepped over to her monument and touched the rough top of it, crying now so hard that I couldn’t see.

“We miss you so much,” I said. “I wish I had told you more often how much I loved you!” And then I went through the sharp Delaware wind to my van and came on home.

Home. My favorite place in all the world to be. Here are the people I love most. Here are the memories and the familiar. But even here there are scary things — medical issues, aging, auto accidents, bills, disappointment and reversal and loss. But when we get to THAT Home — ah, there will be nothing to disappoint, destroy, alarm or regret. There will be all the good and none of the bad. And I believe that the people I love most will be there, with good memories intact and none of the bad.

One time, in a desperately difficult time in my life, I dreamed that my Daddy came to me and he said, “Where I am, relationships are so easy because there are no regrets.” Sometimes that aspect of Heaven lures me more than anything else. And gives me pause to consider how to do relationships here with no regrets.

Brothers and sisters. In these days when we are so often bogged down with the things of living, may we fix our eyes on Jesus, believe His Words to us when He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die!”

And may we live like we believe it.

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Filed under Dealing with Grief, Family, Resurrection