Six-day Riddle



As I wrote in my last post, I’ll be traveling for the next several days.  So, I thought I’d leave you with a riddle to work on til I get back around the 2nd. 


I took this photo.  It’s untouched.  It’s the real deal.  Where is it?  What is it? 



Memorial Day Birthday


      For most of my married life, my birthday has been lost in the shuffle of Memorial Day weekend.  Time and again it got overlooked because we were out of town or busy with other activities.  So my birthday has become basically a non-event.  Not that we didn’t acknowledge it, it’s just that it was never much of a celebration. 


         About this time last year, I was with my sister reminiscing about the simple two-layer cakes our mother used to make for us eight siblings on our birthdays.  “It has been so many years since I’ve had a ‘real’ birthday cake,” I told her.  I couldn’t even remember the last time.

     As we chatted, I got excited.  I got bold.  I decided I was done ignoring my birthday.  I determined that I wanted to have an old fashioned two-layer birthday cake once again. 


     My heart’s desire was to celebrate with my siblings but we live 4 1/2 hours apart and that didn’t work.  So, after my birthday, one sister emailed asking whether or not I got my cake wish.  I wrote back:


Dear Sis, 


      Yes, I got my two-layer cake.  I made it myself.  I used a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix.  Not quite as homemade as I’d originally envisioned, but both layers baked fine. 


       For the filling, I chose Smucker’s Seedless Raspberry Jam and Orange Marmalade.  I planned to put one flavor on each layer and then put the two together.  Then frost the whole cake with orange whipped cream, and beautifully display my masterpiece on Mom’s vintage cake stand.

      As I worked, trying to get the right flavor mixture for the whipped cream topping, I pinched a bit of the cake out of the center of one layer to taste with the frosting and fillings.  I did that three or four times while trying to get the orange flavor just perfect.

      I placed the bottom layer on the cake stand and applied the Raspberry Jam.  Then I picked up the top half on which I’d spread the marmalade, but it stuck to the waxed paper I’d set it on.  With fingers spread wide, I attempted to balance the whole layer with one hand while peeling the paper off with the other.  However, because it was weak in the center from my taste tests, it broke in two.  One half plopped on the counter.  The other was still in my hand, stuck to the waxed paper. 


         “Well, no problem,” I thought.  “I’ll just put the two pieces up there and cover it with whipped cream; the break won’t even show.”   I picked up one half and positioned it on top of the bottom layer. 


       Now, as you know, a nice two layer cake is mounded highest in the center.  And mine happened to be a nice cake.  So before I could get the second half off the wax paper and on the top, the first half started moving.  The jam and marmalade fillings made perfect conditions for an avalanche.  With great glee, that first half started down the slope and was picking up speed.  I ran to the cupboard for toothpicks. 

      I finally got them to stay put.  But even impaled with all that wood, those two pieces would not stay together.  There was definitely a Grand Canyon divide down the center.  Jam and marmalade oozed out the sides and down the cake, puddling around the edges of the cake stand. 


       I got out my specially-formulated Orange Whipped Cream and tried to camouflage the whole mess with the creamy topping.  Have you ever tried putting whipped cream on a porcupine?


       My original idea was for a nostalgic “like-Mom-made-when-we-were-kids” birthday cake – the kind with a simple buttercream frosting.  The whole problem occurred when I decided to embellish.  I have learned my lesson.  No more fancy, schmancy two-layer cakes for me. ”


       Love, Your Older Sis


      Well, here it is, a year later, and  Memorial Day Weekend to boot.  Wouldn’t you know, we’ll be traveling.  Again.  On my birthday.  Which is the 28th.


     I still want an old-fashioned two-layer birthday cake like mom used to make.  Still looks like I’m going to have to make it for myself, too.  Wish me luck.



Finding My Marbles




I think some of my marbles are missing.  So I’m taking some time off to find them. 


You can still reach me by leaving comments.  I’ll be checking my email from time to time and will see them there.  


I know I’m going to miss you.  And I may post a photo or short line once in a while…to update you on Mama Robin’s progress…or something…


…but right now…I’m on a mission…



Mid-day Reverie



It’s 1:14 p.m.  Mid-day.  Just stepped out onto our front porch to retrieve mail from our box across the street.  Mama robin is still vigilantly brooding in the nest she built under the eves of our front porch.  Last night she weathered quite a storm.  Thunder.  Lightening.  Wind gusts.  Rain.  Exceedingly patient, she is.


Strolling the sidewalk and down our driveway, I hear the raucous songs of frogs gone wild.  Lots of them.  In the middle of the day?  Is that what rain does? 


The misty field across East Cemetary Road reveals the high humidity.  My instantly frizzing hair confirms it.


Lowering the front flap of our black box, I reach in and retrieve its contents, then turn back toward the house. 


Perennials are up.  Annuals planted on Mother’s Day are taking nicely to their new home.  Mr. Big Fat Toad has again staked out his territory near the sprouting Black Eyed Susans.  So well camoflaged, only his Creator protected him from the claws of the hand hoe by highlighting his barely-visible, nubby brown back when the soil was first turned. 


I slap the mail on the kitchen table, automatically put the Penny Saver on top of the newspaper stack in the broom closet, and shred the rest of the “mail.” 


Several pair of men’s jeans churn on Heavy Duty in the washer…


The theme song of a Gunsmoke rerun plays in the background.  Was I watching it?  Not really.  But Matt Dillon is kind of cool.  I once had a crush on him. 


Mmmm.  The washer’s quiet.  Time for a load of “darks”…    What’s your favorite laundry product? 



Timely Name Dropping


For a semi-Wordless Wednesday, I thought it would be fun to post this untouched photo for a little timely name dropping.  I found Dr. Oz to be a very kind, gracious man.   His wife, (not in photo) is adorable, and smart!


P.S.  No, I don’t watch Oprah.  I saw the headlines on the web about Dr. Oz’s new TV show.

Modeling Mom



My mother pretty much raised us eight kids by herself because Dad spent most of those years in and out of the hospital.  That meant Mom was really busy.


Barely eye-level with the table, I observed her kneading bread and rolling out pie crust.  I watched my mom can peaches, raspberries, and applesauce.  I held my nose when she singed freshly-plucked chickens, and butchered them for flying. 


On hands and knees, in her zip-up-the-front housedress, my mother scrubbed the linoleum kitchen floor.   


In the evening, she read Bible stories to us, and listened to our prayers.  Many nights, from my bed I heard the rhythmic whirring of her sewing machine, afterward. 


On Sundays, my mother managed to get us all to church.  Regularly.  We walked, about nine blocks, pushing the youngest children and the babies in the baby buggy. 


In the church balcony, surrounded by squirming children, my mother balanced a hymnal and sang “Holy, Holy, Holy,” with the choir as it walked below us, up the center aisle toward the loft. 


I think it seemed easier for my mother to do many tasks herself, rather than take the time to train us.  But I learned a lot anyway, just by watching.  I first realized this right after I got married, when I discovered I knew how to cut up a frying chicken.  I found I could do a whole lot that I can’t remember my mother ever trying to teach me.  She just modeled it. 


This Mother’s Day, I’m not only thinking about my mother; I’m looking at myself.  And other mothers.  And I wonder.  What is the legacy we’re modeling for our children?  What are our children learning from us,  just by observation?



Adapted from my newspaper column, published Wednesday, May 9, 2001


Partying When God’s Will Fails


      A couple weeks ago, I posted   It’s Your Call  and   It’s Your Call – A Follow-Up  about forsaking bitterness and embracing forgiveness.  I listed important reasons for letting resentments go but I left one out, which, in the past few days, I’ve been thinking about a lot.  It’s a Scriptural reason which may be the most important reason of all.


       After reading this blog  Larry Who  today, I felt compelled to follow through on my idea to post again about forgiveness.


       Let’s face it.  Apart from the Word, within the heart of each of us there is something carnal which delights in witnessing the downfall of anyone we resent, are jealous of, or hold a grudge against.  It feels good – real good – to watch an adversary fall flat on his/her face.  The temptation to celebrate an enemy’s humiliation is overwhelming.  


       Sometimes we don’t even recognize that it is a temptation.  We just jump right in and party with abandon when someone who has hurt us, or others, is in misery.  The problem is, few of us realize that we are reveling in the failure of God’s will.


      Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


      When God creates us, He has a specific purpose for every person, a plan which is in place even before we exist.  If a Christian fails in his or her God-given task, even though they may deserve to fail, it is not just the downfall of that individual; it is the failure of God’s pre-existed plan.


      Think about it.  Are you really ready to celebrate that?