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Friday, May 25, 2012

Free Spirit, Part 2: Enter Paradoxical Jewish Guy

So one day, as Susan was sauntering up Loma Vista Avenue, on her way to the toy shop where Donna worked,  she was only slightly aware of the portly, reddish haired fellow who was walking a few yards ahead of her.  He vaguely reminded her of her brother Mark-----a good reason to be uninterested.   Not her type at all.  But then the fellow did something unexpected.  He turned around, right there on the sidewalk, and came a few steps towards her.  And he said, in a distinctive New England accent "Would you mind if I walked with you?"  Well.  What could a Free Spirit do but say yes?  "Oh, sure!"  she said.  "Why not?!"  They walked along together, exchanging pleasantries.  "I've never done this before."  he commented.  "Done what?" she asked.  "Asked a girl I don't know if I could walk with her."  He struck her as a little formal and somehow----different.  Definitely not a prospect.  "Oh, here we are!"  she said, as they approached the toy store.  In she went, waving goodbye with no idea what the next two weeks would bring.

Later that day, Donna told her that the same fellow had left something for her.  It was a piece of notebook paper with some kind of design on it, with a note inviting her to meet him at the pier that afternoon, and a flourishing signature.  Stuart.  S t u a r t????  Definitely not a cool name. (try not to write her off----she was twenty and had very little scope)  But as she and Donna squinted at the broken lines of the drawing, it suddenly came to her what it was-----a boy, sitting cross-legged, reaching up for a butterfly.  It filled the entire page.  Once she saw it, she wondered why she hadn't been able to make it out before.  It was strangely touching.  "Why not?" she thought, considering his invitation.  "I like artists."

At the pier, he was waiting on one of the benches that line the long finger of boardwalk that stretches out past the breakers.  It was blustery, with seagulls hanging suspended in the wind like a living mobile, held in place by the current of air.  They walked a little, and he had a lot to say----Susan didn't really understand a lot of his thoughts, but they seemed very spiritual and compelling.  She had never heard anyone talk like that----not even her last boyfriend, the one who had experimented with astral travel.   Stuart seemed to understand a lot about unseen forces.  But after an hour or so, Susan was ready to go home.  She said goodbye and didn't think twice about him.  Definitely not a prospect.

Imagine her surprise a few days later when the ladies at the Montessori school where she worked informed her that there was a fellow waiting out front for her.  "What does he look like?" she asked, apprehensively.  It was Stuart.  Susan did what any self-respecting Free Spirit would do when she detected obligation----she ducked out the back door, through the garden!  But this Stuart fellow had a determined side-----he was waiting for her there at the exit, and she didn't know how to tell him to go away.  And so for the third time, they walked and talked.    And the strange thing is, some of it was starting to make sense to her.  Just like the drawing.

Next time:  Guru

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Who Woulda Thunk it....?

Lately I've gotten several calls/comments from friends, wondering how I'm adjusting after the failure with the adult foster care home.  I can understand people thinking that this must have been a final blow.  But truly, I think the grief work I did last year was so effective, that this last little fiasco was simply confirmation.

Now that Stu has been back at Laurel Hill for a few weeks, I see a positive change in him.  He is accepting that this will be his context for healing.  These people who care for him 24/7 are his main support system.  That must be a humbling thing, to depend on people that you did not pick.  And to reconcile with the fact that it is a long term need.  When I think of the emotional mountains he's had to climb,  I have a new respect for his resilience------ and God's determination!    God is at work in him.  And he is slowly but surely being shaped as God intended.  That says a lot about God, I think----He works his will in even the most reluctant clay!  (Yes, I would call Stu's response to God's shaping reluctant----for most of his life! )  

So yesterday when I was visiting, I had to laugh.  Stu was sharing how he's entertaining the staff lately.  He makes up songs and sings them as they attend to him.  Yesterday he borrowed the tune from "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" (from "My Fair Lady")   His new words :"I'm getting up in my wheelchair in the morning......ding dong the food is gonna stink!.....but I'm gonna eat it (dum dum) I'm gonna eat it (dum) cause I know it's gonna keep me in the pink!"  What was priceless was the goofy look on his face------so Stu.  It's good to see his personality emerging out of all the trauma.

Meanwhile, I am busy working on re-inventing Studabaker's.  And investigating ways to publish my writing.  And keeping my newly beautiful property in shape.  It's all a little overwhelming at times-----but only if I look through the binoculars the wrong way (you know, through the big end so everything looks smaller.  Self-focus, in other words.  Or, as a wise friend calls it, "Navel-Gazing".  When I turn the binoculars around, there's a lot more promise.  

Hope to see you at my June 2 Open Bakery Day.   10 a.m to 3 p.m..  We will be convening in the Cottage Green (in front of my cottage), with a new Butterfly Garden, swingset and activities for the kids, and more parking available in the driveway.   You can still poke around the barn for interesting leather, art, and funky junk  finds,  walk through the cottage (it's a fun place), and smile at my new place for  the red-white-and blue van.   You might even want to enjoy your bagel there :-)  This time I get to toast bagels and spread cream cheese, too-----I've missed that!

Until next time!

Cloud dough will be one of the activites for the kids
Bagels waiting to be kettled, then baked.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Many Hands.....:-)

So, if you've ever been on my property, you might well ask "How does she keep up with it?"  And then again, maybe you've been here and realized "She doesn't"  Ha!  It's a battle, that's for sure.  This year, the graduating class of TEACH, our local homeschool association, must have had a clue, because they voted to make my property their senior class service project.  I was floored!  I had been praying for some kind of help, but had no idea it would come in this form.  What an army!  There were four Dads, one Mom, 11 graduates (hope I counted right), a twelve year-old with his own weedeater, which he wielded with great expertise, and one enthusiastic five year old.  They descended on the property at 9:00 a.m., and by 3:00 they had transformed this place.  I always knew it could look like this!  To celebrate, I plan to host another Open Bakery Day on June 2.  More details on that in the next week.  In the meantime, I am planting flowers and smiling every time I look out my cottage windows.   Just so you know, I asked for a very severe pruning of both the apple and the grapevines---------hoping to build a tree house or fort up in the old apple.  That whole yard will be once again devoted to kid's crafts and play on the Open Bakery Day.  Last time we did chalk drawing, a coloring project, and bubbles.  It should be fun:-)

In front of bakery after
In front of bakery before
Round bed after
Round bed before
Grapevines after
Grapevines before
Apple tree after
Apple tree before
Honeysuckle after
Honeysuckle before
Willow tree after
Willow tree before

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Home again, home again.......

"Triune" (detail) by Stu Mendelson .  On display next weekend at the OWOW conference at Trail Christian Fellowship.   Among other works by both Stu and me.  Just sayin' :-)

Well, we tried.
Although the setting was beautiful and the food was good, Crystal Waters was just not where Stu belongs.
By Sunday, the owner, Lisa, and I could both see the handwriting on the wall.
You know, I usually feel at a loss to describe the reasons why.   I see the behavior in operation, the unquenchable neediness, the fretfulness, the insecurity.  I have my theories, of course.
 But as I walk this kinky, complicated path with Stu, the most striking thing about it is that, whether I understand the underlying psychology or not, it is a path he needs to walk.  And he needs, more than anything, my non judgemental company. And you know, I can do that.  And it does me good.

I'd like to say a word about the staff at Laurel Hill.  They've been walking through this saga with us, too, handling all the nitty gritty details of his daily care, lifting my burden----literally!   Yesterday,  as I walked into the facility I was greeted with a giant hug from Tracie, the social worker there, friendly smiles from every employee I saw, nods of sympathy and understanding about Stu.  These people have seen Stu at his worst,  seen me at my most broken, laughed with me, encouraged me.  They seem to know something about compassion.  Now, isn't that a nice thing to consider-----so much "news" about such places seems sinister.  After more than a year here, I feel blessed to have such an option.  Perhaps other facilities are less encouraging, I don't know.  God led us here, and as always, his tenderness with us is boundless.

As I left yesterday, I caught sight of Dan, the maintenance man there.  His most remarkable feature is his ever-present good humor.  He raised his hand in a friendly wave and remarked "It's good to have you back!  We love Stu, and we love to see your smiling face"

We are, to my surprise, home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The new digs

Just drove home from Stu's new digs.  It took me the same amount of driving time as the regular trip to Laurel Hill, but what a different route!  The scenery as you travel from our house on Coutant Lane across to Fish Hatchery Road (where the new place is located) is all rural, and the farms and woods were a feast for the eye.  One long fence was draped with so much wisteria I thought it would keel over.  But, I digress........

The new place is called Crystal Waters.  The address there is 263 Felkner Rd. (off Fish Hatchery)   There are three sweet quiet ladies there, and another man who will be sharing Stu's room starting on Friday.  The room is huge, with a sliding glass door that leads out to a deck.  The deck looks out over banks of tall pines and other evergreens.  It's like being at a very deluxe cabin in the woods.  The owner seems to know her business, and I've heard good things about the place.  Tonight they are having chicken breast with organic basmati rice for dinner.  There are smoothies for breakfast every morning.  All this to say, it looks promising.

After the past year of unexpected twists in the road, though, I am holding my breath a little.  I think it will take a few weeks to feel confident about Stu settling in.  I know many of you pray for us----and that is a comfort.  Please continue to hold us up in prayer.  Because he is once again in a home setting, he can receive physical therapy again, so I do have hope that maybe he will rally.  We shall see.   Stay tuned!

ON the home front, I am doing my second annual Amazing May Barn/Art/Bakery sale at the home property this coming Saturday, May 5.   Hopefully this link will take you to the events page----not sure if you have to log in to facebook to see it or not.  Anyway, I will be baking up some of those legendary bagels, raspberry date bars, brownies, lemon bars, and marionberry streusel hearts.   I'll also be showing off some of Stu's art for sale in the old barn, plus an assortment of leather odds and ends from his leather shop and plenty of classic yard sale goodies.  Come by if you live close enough, it should be a lot of fun:-)   Lily here (pictured above) will show you around:-)

Finally, the work has started in the main house-----Jerome is in action again, ripping out old kitchen cabinets, scraping acoustic ceilings, (Thank You, Thank you, God!!!  How I have hated those ceilings!!!)  and pulling up old ratty carpet (see above thanks.....same story)   As you can see from the above picture, sometimes he gets some help from Rachel:-)  I can't wait to see how the place gets transformed!  And soon Lily and her brother and sister (and their mom and dad) will be my next door neighbors.  That's really something to be thankful for!

Until next time!