Saturday, August 27, 2016

counting breaths

when the sun rose this morning through the east window of her hospital room
her heart continued to pulse
breaths were abandoning their regular rhythm
but insisted on catching on some unseen sprocket
continuing raggedly
labor reversed

counting the spaces between my mother's breaths
wondering if this time her chest would no longer rise
wondering if the breath or pulse would be the last thing we would see
I remember being surprised
but no longer remember what lasted the longest - her breath or her heart

she had long heard angels in her dreams
singing to her
new songs and old
she impatient with us in our inability to hear them
writing them down so that she could sing them to us when we arrived

someone had come with a bouquet of helium baloons in the night
a celebration done, and they wanted to share this gift of color and celebration
with someone
and they thought of Lydia

we set them on the table as if she might see them
the nurse took one home at the end of the night shift
she would let it go when she got home,
with a prayer for Lydia

when she came back this morning, Lydia was still there
she had one more day
to breathe
to hear?
to labor
to leave

once Mom sang with me
a song she had taught me long ago
I sang into her ear and stumbled on the words
so she faintly joined me
"you forgot the words" she whispered

she often told me how long she had waited for me
for children
stories of expectation and joy

now I waited with her
watched this dearly loved body
still clinging to her life

she lived with joy
and an edge of defiance
with determination
with music
always there was music

tomorrow, four years gone
Lydia John Guenther Krahn

(Written Friday, August 26, 2016)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

dusk on the deck

we wrapped ourselves in quilts as the sun went down

sun brushed dark pink against the wisps of clouds in the west
a hummingbird stopped by to drink from the pink fuschia on the deck
  lingered a while
 drank from hanging blossoms
 stayed with us for a moment, suspended
 beside the umbrella that sheltered us from a momentary falling evening mist
coyotes sang from the river valley
shadows flitted across the darkening sky
 bats emerging for their evening adventures

Monday, August 1, 2016

August ... gardens and kitchen and days to remember

Welcome to August.  My poplar tree has been throwing down yellow leaves for the past few weeks. It's an old game it plays - it has such a large storehouse of green leaves that it turns some yellow just to mess with me, and starts throwing them into my back yard by early July. 

I took down my morning glories yesterday.  They have been self seeding rampantly every year since our daughter's wedding 10 years ago, but there are little unseen creatures eating away at the leaves and flowers this year.  So I took down the whole mass of plants and moved the planter over to the deck where the yellow black-eyed susan can take over the trellis.  I'll give the morning glories a break for a year or two, and give the bugs a chance to find forage elsewhere.  

The restless night-time winds and storms have bent my hard-fought yellow blooming begonia  - but it is not broken!  My potatos are listing starboard as well.  But the little potatoes underground should soon be ready for taste testing.  Tomatoes and peppers are turning color and ripening, my seeded cosmos are beginning to flower, gladiolus spears are throwing their first rows of unopened flowers skyward, and sunflowers are poking their heads up over fences and brightening many corners of the yard.

This is a season for marking time in our home and family.  In June Randy and I celebrated our 25th anniversary with a wonderful trip to Quebec - la belle province. 

View from the Chateau across the St. Lawrence

A couple from France offered to take our picture,
after we chatted with them for a bit about our Quebec holiday.

We caught Whitehorse live, at a fun little folk festival in Montreal.

Chateau Frontenac
Under a canopy, sheltered from the rain at the top of Montmorency Falls

Darlene behind a cannon ... 

Night sky in the Laurentians, close to Lac des Plages

August 1 marks 14 years since our family arrived in Saskatoon.  July's VBS marks one year since I began my work in children's ministry at Lakeview.  Our Josie and Mitch celebrate 10 years of marriage this month.  August holds my birthday and my sister's birthday, and my mom's last day here. So I find myself sitting at Long Island in our kitchen, thinking of the many ways that God has shown his faithfulness in our lives over the long haul.    

My friend asked me for my fruit platz recipe this morning.  It is my mom's recipe and I've had it written on an old recipe card for more than 30 years.  Bears the notes and stains of regular use. Carries with it memories of my mom's hands spreading the dough, and many evenings of laughter with friends over a lifetime.  


Lydia's Fruit Platz

2 cups flour
¼ cup shortening (I use butter)
1 tsp salt (I never add salt)
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 c buttermilk or cream 
(I generally use milk with a tbsp of vinegar added, and let it sit for a bit while I mix the dry ingredients.  If I have cream that is close to expiry, I’ll use that too, and that makes the dough much firmer and a bit harder to spread into a cookie sheet.  But the texture of the dough is very nice!)

“Mix as biscuit dough and spread in bottom of large pan.” 
So mix dry ingredients, cut in the butter, and then mix in the buttermilk.  
Spread into greased cookie sheet.

"Spread dough with 4 cups fruit, and sprinkle with 1 ½ cups sugar and 1 tbsp flour."  
(I never use that much sugar – maybe ¾ cup sprinkled onto rhubarb?  I take a ½ cup measuring cup full of sugar and sprinkle till it looks right.  Add another ¼ cup sugar [Sorry - isn’t that just classic old recipe specific?]  I've used apricots, rhubarb, saskatoons, plumbs, haskaps, haskaps & rhubarb together make a delicious and beautiful combo ... blueberries, sour cherries ... )
You can start mixing the crumbs while you are spreading the dough.
Crumb topping:
1 cup flour
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup butter

Sprinkle crumbs on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

(Mom often set it onto broil for a minute or two at the end, just to brown the top a bit and then the platz didn’t get soggy as quickly.  That has been the downfall of several platzes for me ... note to self ... NEVER walk away from a platz in an oven set to broil!!!  Set timer and stand in front of the oven glaring at the broiling pan of almost done platz ready to save it from becoming sadly torched.)