Monday, September 30, 2013

The King's Speech

The story of Eugene Allen, a long-time butler in the White House, was portrayed in a recent movie we saw. In a dinner table conversation with our daughter, I remarked at how the man's gentle demeanor and respectful manner set him in good stead with his famous employers. "I guess it really paid off for him," I said, referring to his quiet, polite way of speaking, since he served under eight presidents.

"You know, that's true. It does, Mom," Amy said. "The other day I was talking to a woman at work and said, 'You always seem so calm. I don't think I have ever heard you raise your voice.'

Then the lady said, 'Let me tell you something. I worked for a woman for many years, helping her raise her son. I never raised my voice to him, and after he grew up and went to college, his mother told me how she appreciated that. Every Christmas for many years now, she has sent me a check for $600, and $300 on my birthday.'"

Proverbs 21:36 says of the virtuous wife and homemaker, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." That is a virtue I have always aspired to, but one which is often elusive for me. In today's world where old-fashioned femininity is largely out of style, it is almost the norm for girls and women to speak in strident, assertive voices to prove their equality with males.

The other day I saw part of a reality show on television involving a mother and daughter conversation, and I remarked to my husband how much alike they sounded. I had noticed the girl's soft, almost slow, way of speaking and her well-modulated words, then when I heard her mother, I realized the daughter sounded just like her!

The Bible says in Proverbs 16:24 that pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones. And again in Proverbs 13:3, "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."

Both the aforementioned butler and the caretaker of the child saw the benefits of these attributes in their employment and success in life. As children imitate parents or unconsciously take on their characteristics, may be imitate our heavenly Father and let Him be seen (and heard!) in us.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Deja vu

While out shopping on a visit to my daughter Amy's home in Georgia last week, I bought some very life-like, beautiful long-stemmed roses (complete with thorns) and was pondering about a vase for them. That night, from somewhere in the back of my mind came the nebulous memory of a very large vase I used to have.

"Rachel," I said to my 14-year-old granddaughter the next day, "Did I give that vase in the foyer to your mom?" When I saw it on a tall stand in the grandeur of a beautiful arrangement, it took on the shape of the vase of my memory.

"No, Mimi," Rachel replied, "Someone gave that to Mom when we first moved here." I mentioned that to Amy, and she told me that I had indeed given her the vase. She reminded me that I had bought it at Sam's Club several years ago and that I'd also given one to my daughter, Julie, for her birthday!

Still, I distinctly remembered having one like that and filling it with flowers. Finally my recollection cleared up and I recalled buying one for the church where my husband was pastor at the time. As church secretary, I varied the arrangements in the distinctive vase with the molded wire design following the curves in a basket-like frame.

A visit to Julie's home in Tennessee followed, and the first thing I noticed when I walked into their church was her vase! The lovely, tall urn stood empty, and immediately I knew why I had bought the flowers with the extra-long stems! "I have some roses that would look beautiful in that vase," I told her. I went to the car and got them and they do look gorgeous!

I knew I didn't have a vase that big, but the flowers, discount-priced from $8 at the fancy store to $4.49 each, were being sold for 90% off, so I got them for 45 cents apiece! How rewarding to fill the unusual vase with flowers and to know again they would be enjoyed by church-goers. Either it was a lesson in stewardship, or maybe God enjoys sharing a bargain with me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Making a Memory

"The girls really liked you helping them make strawberry shortcake yesterday," our son said. Kate, his eight-year-old, had told me before how much she liked my strawberry shortcake, so her mom suggested I teach them to make it. They brought over the ingredients, so Monday after school instead of the kids watching television, we had our own cooking show in the kitchen!

"Who wants to cut up the strawberries and who wants to mix the batter?" I asked, after we washed the berries in a colander and she and six-year-old Beth had removed the caps. Kate felt confident enough with a knife to slice the berries on the cutting board, but Beth wanted to mix the batter.

I just use baking mix, nothing special, to which Beth enjoyed adding the carefully measured tablespoons of sugar, melted butter, and a third cup milk. It was rather stiff and difficult for her to stir, so we added more milk until it was just right for plopping big scoops of it onto a cookie sheet.

"Is this enough?" Kate asked after she had quartered half a carton of the beautiful, fresh berries. It looked like plenty for the three individual cakes we made, so we sweetened them to get juicy while the shortcakes baked.

Then the fun began! The golden brown cakes came out so large that we cut them in two, making six portions. Berries, dripping luscious juice, had to be sprinkled on, and large dollops of whipped cream dispensed generously to decorate the tops. Mmm! They were good! There's nothing like homemade. We had enough for Dad, Grandpa, and Mimi, too!

"They'll always remember that," my husband volunteered as we chatted with their dad yesterday. "Like the story of the man who took his son on a fishing trip and thought of it as a waste of time away from work." Then he told how many years later, the father found an old school paper belonging to the son, describing the day his dad took him fishing as the best day of his life.

We never know what will stick in kids' memories. My own children have brought up things I did that affected them or that they learned from me that I don't even remember. I do remember though, one hot summer day when they persuaded me to take them to a lake for an afternoon of swimming. Normally, I wouldn't set out on such a venture without their dad, but for some reason I did, even though I'm sure I would have rather stayed home and taken a nap or something. My daughter brings that memory up from time to time and still remembers it as a special day.

I have heard my oldest son, a minister, tell in a sermon of the time I led him to the Lord in a salvation experience. To be honest, I can't recall if that was at church or at home. I have a vague recollection of accompanying him to the altar one night when he was 13. Although that was over 40 years ago, it still remains in his mind as the most important decision of his life. Thankfully, I was there to share it, even if I'm a little fuzzy on the details. The Bible says even if a mother forgets her child, He will not forget us. He has us inscribed on the palms of His hand. Psalm 49:15,16.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bucket List

"We've got to find the papers for my grandfather's farm!" my husband said as he pulled out folders from the file cabinet. "I'm looking for a purple plastic folder!" he exclaimed. Our son had just offered to take us to look up the historic homestead, and Howard was searching for computer data our daughter-in-law had researched and given to us several years ago.

When his hunt was unsuccessful, I remembered some makeshift files of my own. The leather volumes I was thinking of were boxed in a storage closet, which I didn't want to go through, but in looking through some keepsake papers in a flimsy pocket file, I caught a glimpse of the words, "United States Census, 1900 for George F. Summers," at the top of something official looking. Other pages included a historic map and location of the townships in a county west of here. Howard's eyes grew wide as I nonchalantly pushed the papers in front of his face while he was on the computer.

"Since it's rainy, do you think Greg will really want to go?" I mumbled sleepily to my groggy husband this morning, to which he responded, "Oh, yes, we are going," getting out of bed and checking the weather. Sure enough, our son was here at 8:00 a.m., despite my misgivings. Shortly we were on the road for our big adventure. Ever since we moved back to Oklahoma 6 years ago, Howard has had a fixation with re-visiting the land where his grandfather had staked his claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run in 1893.

True, our maps showed the area and the different sections of land, one marked with the words, G.F. Summers, but it didn't show the names of the roads to get there. We had to stop at the courthouse for that. After going a few miles in the wrong direction, we got on the right path and found the roads marked on the courthouse map.

"What do you expect to see?" I asked my determined spouse. "A vacant field?" After all, after having been in the family 50 years, the property had been sold in 1943. His grandparents had raised 10 children there, and Grandpa George had lived there as a widower from 1917 until the time he made his home with his youngest son's family, Howard's parents.

I got my answer when we did indeed stand in a plowed field and Howard breathed deep and said, "I feel like I'm finally home!" A lump came in my throat, because I remembered feeling the same way when, in a genealogy search, a picture popped up of an old cemetery in Tennessee where my mother's ancestors were buried. I'd never been there, but seeing the terrain and hills of Mama's roots filled me with a sense of familiarity, and a poignancy I couldn't explain.

Our journey today ended in a cemetery, too, when we searched for the graves of his grandparents. We had no idea where to start looking, but as Greg and I wandered along a path, Howard suddenly cried out triumphantly from several rows over, "I found them!"
Suddenly the sun came out, and a beautiful day shone through the parted clouds, just in time to illuminate words on another tombstone: Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893.

"That should be on your grandpa's headstone, too!" I said. Howard didn't seem to hear me. He was still back on the prairie a hundred years ago, visualizing a young couple pioneering a home in a tent, then cutting down trees on the property to make a log home, clearing the land and enduring hardships and losses to live out the dream of a plucky young man brave enough to ride hard in a race and claim a future for his family.

And I am a part of that future! I have been blessed with a husband who grew up with the same strong work ethic, sense of responsibility and integrity that has been carried on to our own children. God is faithful from generation to generation! He is the Road Map by which we chart our course. And when we have finished our race, we won't have to build a log cabin in glory land, because Jesus has gone before us to prepare us a dwelling, "that where I am, there you may be also," John 14:3. Then we'll be finally home!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It Happened One Sunday

What's this? I wondered, as I sat down at a table in Sunday School class and the teacher's husband placed a small paper bag in front of me. A donut? I guessed at the content of the white, folded down sack.

"Is it going to jump out at me?" I teased, then opened the bag to see it was full of miniature tomatoes! Of course! Our teacher is a gardener and has shared produce with us before. "Did you raise these cherry tomatoes?" I marveled, to which she said, "Those were all volunteer."

"Do you have a knife?" my husband, who loves summer tomatoes, joked. We had some of them in a salad for lunch, and they were delicious.

In the morning service the pastor reminded us that instead of our Sunday evening prayer time, we would be participating in a prayer walk for the schools late that afternoon. A long oval walkway in the park would be marked at intervals with the name of one of our local schools for prayer emphasis. Due to trouble with my knee, I wouldn't be walking, but Howard did.

Just as he got home, our phone rang. It was our son, whose family had been walking, too, but evidently behind him and they didn't see each other. He invited us out to their farm to visit, since there was still plenty of daylight left. It was beautiful out there, owing to a lot of mowing done the day before, and as we sat in the yard I remarked that we should have a watermelon to eat outside. Howard and I offered to run into town and get one.

We went to the discount store where we can always count on a bargain in produce, but their melons were small and a little expensive today. We were pushing our empty cart back to the cart stall when we noticed an elderly woman standing uncertainly beside a heavily loaded cart. Howard nudged me and said, "That lady needs help."

"Ma'am, do you need some help with that cart?" we asked, and she smiled and protested a little, but she was frail and with a cane, so we helped her out the door. Howard began to unload her groceries and place them in her trunk. Besides several full bags and two gallons of milk, there were flats of canned chicken and dumplings, spam, Vienna sausages, evaporated milk, and other canned ready-to-eat products.

I commented that she must be buying for a school or something. She said no, but she did feed several people--two families, she said. She mentioned several grandchildren and told us she had recently taken in a homeless granddaughter from Tulsa. "It would've really done me in to load all that," she said in thanking us.

Just everyday events reflecting care and love for each other as Christians. The pastor preached this morning that it's not the big events that churches do nor special highlights in our lives, but what we do in between times in our everyday living that counts. I think I know what he meant. And even though we found the melons we wanted at another store, I think God had us go to the first store for a reason. And the watermelon was particularly delicious!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fair Weather

"Do you think we'll see anyone we know at the fair?" I asked Howard as we set out to Blackwell, 15 miles away on this fall-feeling September evening. Our granddaughter, Allison, who had gone with her family last night, had posted a picture on Facebook of the Ferris Wheel lit up in all its grandeur against the night sky, drawing me like a magnet to go and experience the fair for myself.

Immediately on entering the fairgrounds, a man spoke and tipped his hat to us. "Who was that?" I asked my husband. It was the owner of a hardware store in our town. After a cursory glance around at the throngs of people and varied vendors, we sat down for a bite to eat at our customary church stand.

As soon as we finished and walked toward the midway, we met our former pastor from home! Next, I recognized a beautiful young woman as my hairdresser! Then we bumped into two of our neighbors, one living across the street from our house, and one in back of us. On the way to the exhibit buildings, we glimpsed a couple through the crowd that we used to know from church.

"Look, they have popcorn," I said as we came to a snack bar in a Homemaker's craft building. They also had tea for 50 cents, and we bought a small homemade pound cake loaf for $1. Browsing further, past a Tupperware dealer's counter, my eyes fell upon a lovely stoneware casserole dish displayed with other attractive pieces.

I inquired about it and found it was for sale, and at a reduced price, too! I loved it! A creamy, covered pot with a hand-painted bird design on the front, with pink flowers and edged in brown. It was beautiful. I showed it to my husband, and he said we might stop on our way back after we'd seen the animals.

There were only a few left at the petting zoo, but the small ponies were darling with their long lashes, blinking as children stroked them, and two little pigs were replicas of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. A couple of llamas and an immaculately groomed cow, plus some frolicking young goats, made up the remainder of the animal exhibits.

We decided to go back to the Homemaker's building to check on the dish. Going in, I saw a familiar-looking face and couldn't believe my eyes when I realized it was a friend from childhood whom I hadn't seen in a couple of years when we'd re-connected at a Bible Study! She invited me to come to the current Bible Study formed after the other one closed, and I might just do that!

Turns out the woman selling the serving pieces was a cousin of hers, and we had a delightful time unraveling threads to other cousins and relatives of theirs that we had known! What a small world! We have felt a bit like we've been set down in a strange land since we moved back here a few years ago after an absence of nearly 40 years. But we are finding we have been surrounded by (or at least the descendants of) many people from our past!

The smooth, gleaming surface of the stoneware pot that now looks perfectly at home in front of a platter on my dining room hutch feels like a touchstone to the past, a little of which I found tonight at the county fair.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Heritage

"Look at all the flags!" I exclaimed to my husband as we passed through a small town yesterday on the way to a doctor's appointment. The main street was lined on both sides with the stars and stripes of our country, turned into fiery red banners by the morning sun behind them. Then I remembered it was 9/11, a day of both remembrance and honor for the victims and heroes of the attack. It was a patriotic day, and the sight of Old Glory waving faithfully in the breeze loosed a wellspring of pride and thankfulness within me.

I saw another symbol of thankfulness walking across the highway as we were going to church last evening. A soldier bearing a flag? No, it was a wild turkey crossing the road! The cooler weather brings thoughts of Thanksgiving, when golden-brown versions of their domestic counterparts will grace many a holiday table. The last time I saw turkeys in the wild was in Tennessee a few years ago, where cars had to stop while whole flocks ambled across country roads, safe in their protected status.

Last night was Family Night at church, and my heart was warmed by the swarm of children in attendance. They enthusiastically participated in the games played by some of the adults as well: Sliding an Oreo cookie from forehead to mouth; catching as many balls as possible tossed by a partner into a container held high; picking certain catch words in a story told by the pastor and repeating them in unison; and passing out mystery stickers relating to the story-sermon.

One of the games, a brain teaser, was for the adults. A chart on the wall screen displayed the puzzle squares, with words like "man overboard" hinted at by "man" written over a line and "board" underneath. There were 20 squares, and I got most of them right. The one that gave me most trouble had the words, "Knee," and "Lights," with "Knee" on top. I thought and thought, only coming up with knee-high and low lights, but the right answer was "knee on lights," or "Neon Lights." Pretty clever.

Faith, Family and Patriotism were the components that made up our day, and they make up what is important in our country. The children are our future; it is up to us to teach them our values!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ebenezer (Not Scrooge)

"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, hitherto hath the Lord helped us," I Samuel 7:12.

The pastor was preaching from this verse, asking if any knew what the word "Ebenezer," means. He explained it as a monument, or a stone of help. Samuel was using it to call to remembrance what the Lord had done there on that date, which was to help the Israelites defeat their enemies, the Philistines.

Instances were given of things everyone employs, tangible or intangible, that bring back memories: A song, a fragrance, a keepsake--all help us remember something special. Jesus used the last supper as a time to make an indelible memory by instituting the act of communion with the bread and wine, signifying his blood and death on the cross. It was an Ebenezer, a monument.

We even sang the song, "Come Thou Fount," which says in verse two, "Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by thy help I come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood."

"When something makes a significant or life-changing impression on you, that moment could be called your Ebenezer," said the pastor, further comparing it to when a person receives Christ for salvation.

That evening several had gathered at the church for a time of prayer, and when I had to step out for a moment, my eyes caught a glimpse of a young woman sitting on a bench along the back wall holding a child on her lap. I looked again when I came
back in and saw it was not an adult, but my 8-year-old adopted granddaughter holding her 6-year-old sister!

She was cradling the child's head against her shoulder, her hand holding it firmly as she rocked back and forth, the smaller girl sprawled against her with legs dangling. Their mother was at prayer, and the little one must have gotten sleepy. I had often seen them like this when they first came to live with our son's family. After having been in several foster homes, the children had held on to each other as if their life depended on it.

In fact, their favorite game at that time was to play "baby," with the older one mothering the younger one. (We learned that when only 3 or 4 years old, big sister had cared for the baby, even changing her diapers.) The act of cuddling and rocking was their Ebenezer! Their rock of remembrance, their stone of help! It was established during their time of uncertainty and helplessness, and it seems they still return to it for comfort!

Lines from other verses of the song read, "Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above; Here's my heart, O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above." He is our Rock of Help, our Ebenezer!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Via Point

"Program the address into the GPS," my husband said. We were looking for an estate sale and trying to locate an unfamiliar street. I was searching for an address in the 200 block, but the GPS gave an address on the 3600 block. The only thing there was a trailer park, and estate sales are not usually held there!

We decided to return home and look up the address on the internet again. As Howard pulled it up, the phone rang and I went out to chat with my daughter. "Did you find it?" I asked, going back into the room.

"Yes," he answered wryly, "It's in Blackwell." Blackwell! How did I miss that when scanning the directions? That was 15 miles away! Well, if we left now, I thought, we would get there just as everything was marked half price. It would be lunch time, but we maybe we could get something to eat afterward.

The sale was entertaining, and in a neighborhood Howard remembered as once quite grand. He pointed out the house of a wealthy oil magnate, now grown rather seedy with time. The first thing I saw at the sale was a cute, stuffed scarecrow doll that I could fit in with my fall porch decor I had begun. About two feet high, it would be perfect propped on a bench next to a pumpkin!

I also picked up a colorful patchwork quilt for a song that I draped over a porch rocker when I got home. Howard found sawhorses and gadgets men find fascinating, so we left with a feeling of satisfaction to find a place to eat.

After discounting Pizza Hut and Braum's, we stopped at a small corner cafe which looked a little off-beat, but interesting. The lunch was delicious! I couldn't eat all of mine, so I got a box and Howard enjoyed the rest of it at supper.

We had enjoyed the pleasant day. Every day we visit the area where we grew up fills me with nostalgia, from passing the fair grounds (Kay County Free Fair--September 10-15, the sign read), to the ambiance of the rural scenery and the memories of our youth there.

Now we have joy in seeing our grandchildren as youth and young adults. Just tonight we got the happy news that our 16-year-old granddaughter, Corrin, was named First Runner-Up in the Miss Woodland pageant at her high school. She was a vision of startling beauty in the pictures she posted on Facebook. It seems impossible that just three months ago she was seriously injured in an accident and is making such a marvelous recovery.

She gives God the glory. Her mother shared that in the interview segment of the contest, Corrin was asked what is her favorite song. She named a praise and worship hymn. When they asked why that one, the spiritually attuned teen told them it had comforted her after the accident. She is going in the right direction, and with the Word of God as her road map, that is the only GPS she needs!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Grandparents' Day! I almost forgot, even though I'd had the notice posted on my fridge for weeks. I'd had a mental note that it was for 2:30, but when I rechecked a little before two, I saw that it was 2:00-3:00 p.m. We hurried and got ready, but we didn't get there until 2:40. Oh, well, it was come and go, I reasoned.

It looked as if everyone were gone, and an attendant was wiping tables and cleaning up when we walked in. The kids came in, and as we visited over cookies and green koolaid, I heard the other lone grandparent there say, "There weren't many here this year."

The helper replied, "I think it might have been because we sent the announcements out so long ago that people forgot about it." Oh, that made me feel better! "We only had about half as many as last year," she went on, "and most of them were here right at 2:00 o'clock."

Speaking of clocks, we were in Cracker Barrel later than evening, and after I glanced at the beautiful, if premature, Christmas selections, I headed over to the clearance corner of the old country store. Scanning the merchandise, I saw something that caught my eye. A reproduction antique scale clock! "Vintage farmhouse kitchen scale converted to a modern functioning clock," the words on the side of the box read.

Just then Howard came looking for me. "Look what I found!" I exclaimed. He saw the discount sign and told me to get it if I wanted it. The stressed-looking, barn-red painted finish and rectangular tray on top combine for a very attractive clock! The bold, schoolroom numbers on the on the face are just what grandparents need, too!

The new addition is a nice accent in my dining room on a tall, wooden stand topped with a checkered cloth of the same color. (I didn't have room in the kitchen for any more bric-a-brac!) I take that back. There may be an estate sale this weekend, and who knows what we may bring home. After all, every day now is Grandparents' Day!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall Fever

The temperature was a delicious 58 degrees when we set out just before 7:00 this morning for the 60 mile drive to Howard's eye doctor for a final check up on his cataract surgery. "I'm going to start getting out earlier!" I announced as I saw the beautiful countryside unrolling before us. The picturesque landscape of undulating pastures and valleys with little farmsteads nestled cozily in clumps of trees were out of a storybook. In the early chill, feathery drifts of morning fog settled like downy fluff comforters over awakening households.

After the brief, satisfactory appointment and a late McDonald's breakfast, we checked out a mall (there are none in our town), buying only an amazing pretzel before heading home. The fall like weather had given us a drop-dead gorgeous day, and domestic stirrings within made me eager to get home and accomplish something around the house.

"Howard, let's clean the front porch when we get home!" I suggested, to which he gave an agreeable grunt. Since it felt like fall, I thought I might as well get an early start on sprucing it up with autumn decor. I knew of some flowers I had stored in the basement, so when we got home I enlisted his help in prowling through things stored among the boxes from our move last year.

I pulled out a miscellany of junk, wondering if I could make something of it. I found my garland of sunflowers, so I took away the roses woven into the lattice of a porch etagere and put them up instead. "Where is my big copper tub?" I wondered when we got upstairs. Howard said he had seen it down there, so he was dispatched to retrieve it for me. I had decided to put it in a porch wagon as a prop for an arrangement.

That done, I dusted and filled shelves with seasonal accents, putting patchwork pillows on the white bench and generally pulling the look together. It was turning out well, surprising even me! I love it when a new season sparks new interest and energy every year! It seems God does not want us to be bored, creating a fresh outlook (and look) just about the time our patience has run thin and we have lost interest in the present season.

He is the Master Painter of the sky and earth, and even lets us enjoy a bit creativity, too!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Good Day

Wow! Talk about Oklahoma's seasons being right on time! For weeks we have had a blazing sun and sweltering summer temperatures, with 104 on Saturday, then we wake up Sunday morning, September 1, and the sky is blanketed with heavy cloud cover, the air actually cooler and with a hint of moisture. No rain, but today dawned clear and cool, so beautiful that I set about household chores with new energy.

We had nothing planned for this Labor Day Monday, what with a busy weekend behind us, but as I heard our lawnmower rev up and knew Howard had tackled the grass, instead of just making the bed, I pulled off the sheets and replaced them with my favorite yellow set, matching my cheery mood. Then my eyes fell upon my favorite dress tossed on a chair awaiting hand washing, something so easy for me to put off. I sudsed out the dress and matching shrug, hanging the dress to line dry and laying the sweater to dry flat.

When I had put the sheets in the laundry, did the dishes and straightened the house, I had a sudden inspiration. What a lovely day for a picnic! I remembered a friend saying how good oven-fried chicken is, and I had a pack of drumsticks in the fridge. While they baked, I made some deviled eggs, bread-and-butter sandwiches, sliced some fresh tomatoes and packaged them for the picnic basket. With iced tea, buttered corn-on-the-cob, grapes and cookies, we had the makings of a regal feast!

Sitting in Cann Gardens under the beautiful gazebo, I thought what a genteel way to have a picnic! Perfectly manicured lawns and fall flowers were all around us, the huge, lovely trees providing cool shade and our wicker-basket lunch spread out on the slatted octagonal table that was topped with my red-checked table mats. Afterward, a short walk ensued until an inviting bench beckoned us to sit and make a phone call to our daughter in Tennessee. She regaled us with stories of her amazing grand babies, whom we hope to go see in a few weeks.

Home again for a rest, after which I find I still have inspiration enough to transfer a potted chrysanthemum to a planter box, I look forward to sitting on the screened porch to contemplate this zestful, restful, not-too-laborious Labor Day.