Material Culture III

Posted by: Richenda at Wednesday June 3, 2009 in

Going through my office. There were a few boxes put aside a few years ago, they’ve been in limbo at the back of the closet. And things are changing for me. So I’m dredging them up, sorting them out, seeking to live into the vocation of my life.

And what dusty treasures there are.

A set of note cards from when I was studying to take the GRE. I have to laugh at words like extirpate, appurtenance, mephitic (actually I like that one). People say I have far too large a vocabulary as it is! Lol. I’m sesquipedalian, shall we say! Lol. But if I’m the only one to enjoy my jokes, I ask you, what’s the point?

No, these are best set aside. Why fill my memory with so many unnecessary syllables? Speak Plainly! Goodbye to the linguistic bibelot! I will reach instead for hardy Anglo-Saxon words. I will squat over them, pinch them together, and whack them into shape. That’s more fun, anyway.

And on into the boxes… to find a envelope with a baby tooth inside. Why did I not mark which child the tooth belonged to??

A note from a 1995 family camping trip.

A picture my daughter drew for me when I was “Mama” and she was six, with hearts and bunny rabbits.

A notebook I kept when my sister died of cancer. A shopping list. A note. A list of medications, a dispensing log that starts with handfuls of pills and ends with simply morphine: ½ dropper every ½ hour. And then she was gone. God bless my beautiful sister, I miss her so much.

I have rolled beeswax candles, too. And some hand dipped. I think I wash off the dust and light them, and think of Charlie.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. God makes me lie down in green pastures; leads me beside still waters; and restores my soul

Trip to Bellingham

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday June 2, 2009 in

I had to go up to Snohomish, so I figured, what’s another hour up to Bellingham to see my boys?

On my way up the 5 I had to snap this photograph. This is the famous 1-5 Redneck politics sign from Washington State. It’s always worth a look so see what they’ve got posted on it. The trip north wouldn’t be the same without it.

I arrived at 11am and stayed for about 23 hours. It was great. Here are my boys on the beach on Bellingham Bay. They are posed to channel Steve Zissou’s Life Aquatic. I don’t quite get the reference, but I love Bill Murray and especially Angelica Houston so I should probably watch the movie at some point. (Maybe on my next trip to B-ham!)

Here’s a picture of the bay itself. We stopped at a little coffee shop on the shore which was about half a mile or more from Old Fairhaven. There were a number of people and families there, a very nice spot.

Here’s a picture of some beachy-barnacle rocks. Don’t pretend like you didn’t want to see a picture of these. I know everyone loves seascape barnacles as much as I do! lol.

We also went to breakfast. Well, Michael and I did, at the Harris Ave Cafe. Michael submitted to a photograph wearing his favorite hat.

I’ve been to the Harris Avenue Cafe before. It’s the kind of place you go back to. And, just for the foodies who might read this blog, here is a photograph of the eggs toulouse. It’s an English muffin with poached eggs, smoked salmon, and their champagne cream tomato sauce. I had this last time, too. It’s wonderful.

The only bummer of the day was that the Abbey Garden Tea Room was closed. WAH! What a tease to name something Abbey Garden Tea Room—a mix of British tea and Abbeys, my favorite things in the world come together—and then have it be closed.

I took a picture as that was as close as I was going to get to it for the moment. (I’m still sulking. When I go back it better still be there. And it better be fabulous!)

After dinner at a well-known local brewery (my eldest is now 21), we piled home onto the sofa to watch Hot Rod and play Apples to Apples.

The trip was so much fun, and far too short. I’ll have to go back—soon.

Trip to Delaware

Posted by: Richenda at Thursday May 28, 2009 in


My daughter and I packed our bags and headed to Delaware and Pennsylvania to see family, including (and especially!) my brand new baby nephew Michael Julio.

We arrived on Saturday and on Sunday was the baptism service. My mom baptized the baby at the Delaware Methodist Church and Verity had him dressed so adorably. She got a long christening gown which topped off with a little cap. The outfit made him look like a very tiny French chef, lol. I have to get a picture of that for all of you. (I preached so I wasn’t really able to hang around with the camera.)

We had a wonderful time. I got to see my sister and my nephew (here posed with my daughter) who is now all grown up. I hate it that time has passed so quickly. I remember my nephew as a little charmer with curly hair and then a teen with a wicked tackle on the football field.

I tell you, just spending precious time together was amazing. Gathered over bagels or pizza or meeting new people over a baptismal party buffet. And all the while we had the fun of watching my mom’s pugs rush around the house, around and around and around. This one is Caleb, Sirus was cameral shy:

We also got to go to Lancaster and visit Amish country. At the edges of Amish country, today mixes with yesterday. In one shopping parking lot was a horse and buggy parked in a space alongside the cars, lol! I wish I’d gotten a photograph of that.

The most fun was the buggy ride through the Amish farm lanes. My daughter has the best pictures, but I got these on my cell phone. Here is my daughter with the buggy horses:

And here is an Amish school house:

Complete with boys’ and girls’ outhouses:

You know, as an historian, as we drove up along the first Amish farms I realized just how much of American history we were looking at. It was the horses that did it, each farm had a few of them for buggies and farm work, and it hit me that I was looking at Fishers Landing, and every other affluent American farming community from the 1890s. Fishers Landing was not dissimilar. It, too, had large prosperous farms where horses were raised for work, for speed, or to be trained as carriage horses. It too had families of many children.

Of course, many of the the Amish farms were larger and their homes were larger than those of yesterday’s Fishers Landing. They have had more time to build and rebuild with the existing infrastructure in place. But still, it caught my breath to be confronted with the visuals, so ideallic, of our American heritage.

It must be strange to be Amish and have us come traipsing through their territory goggle-eyed at them. It is polite to ask before taking a picture, and the Amish Messenger on horseback who came up behind our buggy said he’d rather not have his picture taken. Too bad because he looked wonderful in his beard and hat! And the children were so adorable in their hats and bonnets. Still, not sure how amused I would feel if our situations were reversed, and an Amish person with a camera were suddenly passing my driveway staring curiously at me…

(Note: did you know the Amish use solar panels?)

Finally, I would like to thank all the Amish for putting up with a tourist from Washington State. And especially, I would like to thank the farmers and their Amish Jersey cows for the creamiest, most delicious Rootbeer float I have ever had in my entire life.

Note to the East Coast

Posted by: Richenda at Thursday May 28, 2009 in

You know I love all of you, right?

There’s just one thing I wanted to mention. Just something I noticed.

I am one of the 62% who wash their hands after using the bathroom. That number always seemed low to me, because I see people wash their hands around here. So I figured it was men, lol. And I would quiz my sons about it, did you wash your hands? Is this against the man-code?

So…where are this 38%? Um….from what I saw on my trip to Delaware/Pennsylvania, they are on the East Coast.

It’s not only that people don’t wash after going to the bathroom, it’s also that the handwashing facilities are lacking. You have to really want to wash your hands and put considerable effort into it. At the Willowgrove walmart in PA, I must have spent 10-5 minutes standing at the sink attempting to get enough soap, then enough water, to actually wash up.

At most, some people would wet their hands and fling the water around. This is a serious waste of a paper towel. As I used to tell my kids when they cleaned the kitchen counters after dinner: “If you don’t use soap you’re just giving the germs a drink.” (Do employees get an extra 15 minutes on their breaks to try to get their hands clean?)

And, while the Willowgrove walmart was the worst, the problem was systemic to almost all East Coast public bathrooms.

The only exception was the bathrooms at the little Amish tourist shops we visited. (Those were great. Soap and water and everything! Thank you!)

So…what gives? (And puuuleesse tell me why people pee on the seats? Don’t they realize that just makes the problem far worse?)

Washington State seems to be on the right track here. Yes, we have a lot of rain, so maybe water isn’t an issue. But our taps work. There is soap in the dispensers. And there are signs on the doors and walls. I’m not just imagining it. Here’s a sign from Whatcom College in Bellingham “don’t give bacteria a free ride.”

This one at a restaurant in Vancouver Washington “use plenty of soap and hot water”:

In the age of Swine Flu (and I was visiting an infant to whom I did not want to spread any kind of disease) leaving the bathroom without washing (and I saw you do it!) isn’t going to help.

I have a solution. I think probably water is an issue. I also think that remodeling all East Coast bathrooms so that they actually work is probably cost prohibitive. And, it seems people have given up on handwashing anyway. The people are busy and they rush right out of the bathroom as if they couldn’t get out fast enough. So. We live in the age of Swine flu? Well, we also live in the age of Purell. I suggest we solve the problem by adding Purell dispensers. Put them near the door so people can pump some up on their way out.


Posted by: Richenda at Saturday May 23, 2009 in

Sitting under the trees writing my sermon for Ascension Sunday I just had to take a photograph of the sun shining through the canopy. It’s not about staring up at heaven, of course. But light through the leafy canopy sure looks like heaven to me.

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