Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From Time to Eternity

For death is no more than a turning of us over
from time to eternity.
-William Penn

My Grandfather passed around midnight. I cried as I kissed his cheek a final time and watched through puffy, water-logged eyes as the funeral home loaded him into the hearse.

I miss him already.

The thing about death... it's so simple yet so incomplete. It's like peering into a dark tunnel you can't see the end of. We think we have an idea of what's on the other end, but really, who can see for sure? Christians - those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah - believe that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". You die, you fly, in other words. We stake our current situations and our very lives, even, on the blessed hope that another world awaits beyond the grave... a world that promises no pain, no tears.

I don't have all the answers, and I'll admit that sometimes it all sounds a bit far-fetched and idealistic to these human ears. Yet I believe it all the same. Where is my Grandfather right now? He's in heaven. Maybe it's even dinner time there. Maybe he's feasting on chicken and mashed potatoes and cornbread and lemon icebox pie. Maybe it's the best day he's ever known. Maybe exchanging time for eternity is the greatest and sweetest thing for which we can ever hope...


I miss you, Grandad, and rejoice that you're no longer in pain. You were the best grandfather a girl could have asked for, and I'll always remember the laughs, life, and love we shared. If you run into Jesus up there, give Him a message, would you? Tell him I can't wait to see His face. And know that I can't wait to see yours again, too. All my love, BB.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Heavy Day... and A Sale!

The deed to relinquish ownership of Freeman House is drawn up. I just can't bring myself - yet - to sign it. How did it come to this? How can I bravely venture into new adventures knowing my beloved home won't be there to return to?

For now, I'm keeping my head down. I'm sitting at my Grandfather's bedside or home, knitting. As a result, you'll find the Freeman House HouseHelper Sets on sale this week - $5 off! If you've been wanting a piece of Freeman House, now's the time and here's your excuse. I truly hope these find happy homes....

You know how, when you get emotional, your throat feels thick and your eyes pound, heavy with tears? Guess that's how I feel right now. Good thing I know good things are coming, else I'd be despairing under a thick and heavy load...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still holding out over here. You?

So. Okay. I skimmed my emails quickly just now and noticed several inquiring about the "Sponsor this blog" button that's just landed on the sidebar over there. Have you seen it? Here's the deal: beginning this week, I'm offering sponsorships of this blog. Huh? you say. Here's how it works: individuals wanting to support my little corner here while simultaneously promoting their shop, business, or cause can now do so by signing up for a sponsor space. Rates are super affordable and... well, they provide other small businesses with limited budgets an opportunity to meet and reach out to the Messy, Thrilling community. And it is an awfully great group of folks we have here, isn't it? *wink*

I won't bore everyone, but if you're interested in a sponsorship space, click on the information I've provided here.

Thanks in advance. For everything... -Brin

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'll never forget yesterday.

Father's Day. After waking up on the hard, hot floor at my parents' house, I trudged the hard, hot quarter mile to the octagon-shaped house on the hill. Easing the door open, I heard joking and laughter. Aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings were gathered around my Grandparents' large kitchen table. Beyond them, pushed against the large sliding glass door, was a hospital bed. The oxygen machine pumping breath into my Grandfather was still purring. He made it through the night, I thought, and shut the door behind me.

The stool next to his bed sighed as I lowered myself onto it. I reached for my Grandfather's hand. It's Brin, I said. Happy Father's Day.

He's on morphine, someone said from the table. He isn't responsive today.

But that didn't stop us from talking to him. Or singing to him. Or telling him jokes or reading to him. At one point I saw my mother draw the stool close and, speaking softly, read from a Father's Day card she pulled from her purse. I love you, Dad, I heard her whisper, and her tears made wet stains on his pillow. That's the last Father's Day card my Mom will ever buy, I thought. My eyes welled with hot tears.

We planned the funeral service, considering favorite songs and Scriptures. My Grandmother copied down the order of service, pausing to ask me to write my Grandfather's obituary. I'd be honored, I said. My mind skipped back through difficult writing assignments: papers for my law degree... stories I'd written as a reporter... my divorce paperwork. This will be the most difficult thing you've ever written, I thought.

Evening came, and stars shone through the sliding glass door behind my Grandfather's bed. My aunts twisted the floor-to-ceiling vertical blinds, shutting out the night. I still have towels to take off the clothesline, my Grandmother said. I volunteered.

The night was still warm, and from somewhere in the darkness, tree frogs sang to the stars. I walked the back porch, pausing at the glass that separated me from my Grandfather. Peering between the slats in the blind, I saw my own father sitting by the bed. He embraced Jack, murmuring something I couldn't make out, and began to cry. As I watched his back rock with sobs, I was surprised to hear another crying. It was me. For twenty minutes, I pressed my forehead to the glass and watched and cried as my father, and later my father and mother, said goodbye.

I'm sure I will never forget yesterday....

Friday, June 19, 2009


Still here. Still sewing. I brought the sewing machine along to my folks', so I'm busy stitching away as I'm caretaking. It works.

Coming from a deeply patriotic family, I usually start planning for July Fourth around this time... when it gets glaringly hot and fried pies and rootbeer floats start popping up in diners and stands around town. I came across some patriotic stash prints and have stitched those up, catching myself humming Yankee Doodle or Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave... as I sew along. So much comfort there. The aprons are up at the Shop as I type...

Wanted to tell you that my mother sat down with my laptop last night and read aloud each of the 70 or so comments you all left the other day. About halfway through, we were both crying. They touched me deeply and mean so much right now. I simply can't offer enough thanks. God bless you.

Hoping your summer weekend is full of hope. -Brin

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thanks for all the kindness and support you shined down on me yesterday. These are for you.

Although fall is my favorite season, summer's flowers and produce have a special place in my heart. My friend Shelley owns Faith Farms, a little place outside town that turns out astonishing flowers and vegetables. Her Zinnias are my favorite. Can't you just feel the summer sunshine when you gaze at these beauties?

Speaking of beauties, I have some cool summer Apron Toolbelts somersaulting into my Etsy Shop this week. I know I've blogged about them before, but they truly are a big help around the house. I wonder if I'll ever tire of making them?
Off to sit with my Grandfather for awhile. I started reading a story to him last night and want to be sure to finish it....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I wish my life was as organized as my kitchen cabinet.

So much to say and respond to today, but the truth is, I have other things on my heart. My Grandpa is being released from ICU today. We're bringing him home so he can pass in the place he loves best. Funeral arrangements were made yesterday, so now we make him as comfortable as we can and wait.

Yes, there's that, and this: the bakery is closed and I'm losing Freeman House. Deciding where in this world to move and what in the world to do in the meantime is about all my brain can manage.

Yes, I wish my life was as easily ordered as my kitchen cabinet....

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Pup's Having Pups

There is no psychiatrist in the world
like a puppy licking your face.
-Bern Williams

Suppose I'm in for a lot of psychiatry soon, because Millie is pregnant. I happened upon this discovery Saturday while rolling around on the floor playing Getting Licked In the Face by My Dog. (What, you've never played that game? You should. I promise it lowers blood pressure faster than any bowl of oatmeal ever could.)

I think this is how it happened: while I was away at the bakery, Millie went to doggy daycare next door. Only... okay. Remember that fire on our street? Several weeks ago, an enormous oak tree, badly charred in that fire, came crashing down on the house next door. It took the doggy daycare fence with it. The dogs - Millie included - escaped and roamed the streets for the next six hours. It had to have happened then. Dang it.

Anyone going to be needing a chocolate lab/mix puppy in several weeks? I hear it's better than therapy....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding has been a big hit at henrybella's. Creamy, sweet and cold, it has all the ingredients of a summer hit: fruit, peanut butter and whipped cream.

I found a recipe - this one - in Southern Living a few months ago. The good news? Even folks who don't cook can make this luscious layer dessert. Using store bought pudding, Cool Whip, bananas and cookies, a sweet lover can make and take this in a hurry. You can even make it in advance and then stash it in the refrigerator and forget it.

I'm thinking of making this for the weekend. I'll use my homemade vanilla pudding, though, and vanilla beans to round out some sweetened whipped cream. Just like at henrybella's. I think my family can use some cold, comforting desserts this weekend....

Thanks for all your kindness this week. Wishing you a happy Friday. -Brin

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For Now, We Wait

Let us then with confidence draw near
to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
-Hebrews 4:16

I rushed away to my childhood home on Saturday, games and ventures and projects temporarily suspended. My Grandfather, the one I've written about often, has been in and out of ICU. Late Monday, the doctor signed an order that said, ominously, to "Allow Natural Death". I looked over the hospital bed to my Grandmother and Mom. They were crying.

I've been here for several days now, cooking meals. Washing clothes. Running errands. Making phone calls. Trying to help. The other evening, while walking my parents' place and snapping pictures, I realized I'm seeing it firsthand: that people who tie up their faith in Jesus... in His person and His sacrifice for us... don't mourn like others. Death is... different for us. Sure, it hurts. Yes, it presents the usual survivor symptoms: shock, grief, etc. But in the midst of the avalanche of emotion is a current of blessed hope. An assurance that reminds us that to be gone from this place is to be present in a far, far better one. So, sometimes with confidence - other times with simply all the faith we have - we draw near to get our fill of help in time of need.

The doctors can't say when Quarterback Jack will slip away. Could be hours, could be days. Sitting in the hospital, I imagine an angel beside his bed, waiting on a nod from the throne of grace.

For now, we wait, too....

Friday, June 5, 2009


The bakery has been dead since summer began. Or, you know, since school let out. I've been worried. Now I'm just exhausted. Yesterday I closed early and walked home and folded my legs under me on the couch and reached for the nearest book and read.

Have you ever tried to settle in with Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson? It's rhythmic and quiet and reading it is akin to trying to run with a bloated, near-bursting water balloon - you simply have to slow down and give it your full attention. Any less and it wobbles and slips out of your grasp and you lose it all.

Most of all, I love how one of the characters, at the beginning of the book, is spelled out: She had always known a thousand ways to circle them all around with what must have seemed like grace. She knew a thousand songs. Her bread was tender and her jelly was tart, and on rainy days she made cookies and applesauce. In the summer she kept roses in a vase on the piano, huge, pungent roses, and when the blooms ripened and the petals fell, she put them in a tall jar, with cloves and thyme and sticks of cinnamon. Her children slept on starched sheets under layers of quilts, and in the morning her curtains filled with light the way sails fill with wind.

I adore it. I want to go there. I want to know her. But most of all, I think I'd want to be described something like this. Yesterday I put a vase of roses on the piano, and left several more to dry with cloves and cinnamon and thyme. Just to see what it felt like.

Still playing at my Garden Grocery Game. I think I'm winning. The past two days I've had baked potatoes for lunch. Dinners have been stir fried veggies with rice... the next day vegetable soup. Tonight is an herb pasta with the first two tomatoes picked from this year's garden. Nothing too inspiring there. Next week I'll do some Spinach Gnocchi and Onion Tarts and Creamed Squash. Or something. Next time I do this, I'm planting a row of cheeseburger and chicken fajita and cheese plants. That's right. If I had any hopes of becoming a strict vegetarian out of this craziness, I think it backfired.

(A row of pork tenderloin would be nice, too.)...

Wishing you a warm and lazy summer weekend from Freeman House, the home of warm and lazy summer weekends. -Brin

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Garden Grocery Game, Day 2

This morning's garden fare: gangly green beans, lush lettuces, nutty broccoli and potatoes that will taste of butter. All organic. This is incredible. Most incredible. Instead of fearing for my health on this 84 cent-a-day diet, I'm excited. Come to Freeman House, I want to yell to people sitting in the drive-thru. The eating's great!

Today I'm thinking of some sort of Potato and Tarragon Cake. I saw this yesterday in Fran Ward's Food For Friends, one of my favorite cookbooks. (And seriously, they have it on Amazon right now for about a dollar. Go grab you one.) Trouble is, there's no recipe for this dish. Do you have one? No? Guess I'll have to make one up. Yep, I'm thinking a Potato and Tarragon Cake with a side of steamed broccoli. Or maybe a side of salad with raw, crunchy green beans. Maybe I'll wash it all down with sun tea with a sprig of mint. Yeah. That sounds perfect.

It looks as though this may be typical of the gardening offerings for this week, at least until the squash, zucchini, cucumbers, okra and tomatoes ripen up. Then I'll have so much I'll be sending food to your house, canned into jars and glowing back at you like colors from a stained glass window.

Wouldn't it be cool... yeah, I'm thinking it would be fun... if I journal my meals here and offer recipes to go along with the meals I dream up. Wouldn't it? That way if you have your own little garden plot or get to the farmer's market or grocery, you'll have even more ideas of what to do with all that beautiful produce. I'll try to get right on that.

Okay. Yesterday, June 2 - oatmeal with fresh plums and honey (I traded peppers for plums with my friend Shelley); and garden pizza (homemade crust, pizza sauce, spinach, garlic, onions and broccoli from the garden, and fresh mozzarella). It was superb:

I think I'm going to call this my little Garden Grocery Game, or 'How to Eat on 84 Cents a Day'. If you have a garden. And if, like me, you're broke, hungry and a smidge crazy....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Growing... and More Growing

This year's onions are in. Harvested. I pulled them up, dusted them off and looped them together with fistfuls of twine. Now they hang from the enormous pot rack in the kitchen, bunches of them. Garlic and shallots will soon follow. It's a good time to be a gardener.

Over the break, I found a box tucked underneath a bed in the back of Freeman House. In it were mementos from elementary school days, and at the bottom, a tattered copy of Little House on the Prairie. The cover was hanging from the book, exposing my name written in my childish hand. Underneath it, in crooked numbers, was a phone number: 796-9389. Our first number after we moved to Texas. I would have been nine. I flipped through the book, seeing familiar but forgotten pictures of Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura and baby Carrie. An hour later I looked up, realized the time, and put the book aside. I had laundry to hang and rows of beans to weed, for heaven's sake. I was a grown woman now, with a house and land of my own to tend to. Laura would be ashamed of me, hiding in the back of the house, reading like a nine year old again.


In true Little House on the Prairie style, I've dreamed up a new mission for myself: to survive the entire month of June on brown rice, oats, corn meal and bread flours, and what I can dig out of the garden. Or what I can trade for what I dig out of the garden. Truly. I gave myself $25 to buy staples for the month. I bought brown rice, organic oats, corn meal, flours, and cheese. Extras like butter, yeast, honey, condiments, salt and spices, etc., I already had, so those didn't count toward my $25 grocery budget. Twenty-five dollars. Works out to about 84 cents a day. Can a girl live for 30 days on that? We're about to find out.

Here's the rundown so far:

June 1 - no breakfast (I rarely eat breakfast); roasted sweet potato fries with garlic for lunch; baby Yukon potatoes, green beans, and onions from the garden, along with a chunk of homemade bread for dinner. So far, so good.

Yes, there's a lot of growing going on over here. Growing outside and growing inside. Always pushing myself to do more, learn more, see more, live more. (Or in this case, a bit less.)

I wonder what Laura would think of it all...