Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I love my job. I love my house. I love my city. I love the awesome girlies with whom I abide. But I love my family, too. And I miss them.

Mom pinning a boutineer on my handsome dad before my sister Rosemary's wedding. (All photo credits go to the incredible Regina of Radiant Images.)

I love how my mom texts me all the funny things my little sisters say. Yesterday they bought a parakeet (I must be a good influence) and named it Tarragon. Kelsey (age 6) wanted to name it Teargas. I owe my cooking, creativity, bookworm, and artistic genes to my mom. She can make anything. Period.

If I ever marry, I hope to marry a man like my dad. From my dad I learned dignity, perseverance, strength, and work ethic. I wouldn't trade for a universe the years I spent as a teenager in the barn with my dad. One of my proudest moments was when Dad left me to do an entire milking alone. I knew he trusted both my abilities and my dependability. Within the past year, Dad and I have gotten a lot closer. Nothing quite turns my world right-side up so much as a good phone call with Dad.

From left to right, my whole family plus the first boy to make one of my sisters lose the last name of Yoder.

Back row: Candace (16), Abby (24), Eldon & Rosemary (21), Bobbi-Jeanne (Mom), and Enos (Dad)
Front row: Lori Sue (8), Kelsey (6), Carol (12), and me (23)

I used to wish for a brother, but not having one certainly gives our family a unique dynamic. :) 
I so love these girls.

Just because they're too squinchable to be true... Kelsey and Lori Sue. 

Because I opened with a Kelsey quote, I'll close with a Lori Sue quote that was coined when I was home for a visit. Carol had made Orange Julius drinks for everyone. Lori, drink in hand, was being attacked by Kelsey. Laughing because she already anticipated her own punchline, Lori told Kelsey, "Look out! I have an Orange Julius and I'm not afraid to use it."

 They say they're going to come visit me soon. I hope so.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Working on the weekends can be boring, so this morning I've been trying to finalize plans for the next five years of my life. I'm serious. My excited resource huntings started waning in velocity a few hours ago and tiredness set in. Tiredness was soon followed by a gray nothing-is-going-to-work-out-and-the-whole-world-is-a-nasty-place-to-be feeling. Call me a melancholic. I know I'm a melancholic. Thankfully, my analysis system kicked in and I realized that I couldn't breathe very well. Current hypothesis is that my usually dormant asthma is having a heyday with the new varnish on the staff desk, limiting the oxygen flow to my brain, triggering symptoms of tiredness and depression. So glad they're having fun.

I'm chortling over the fact that just knowing what is making me feel gray makes me feel better. The sunrise over the rising mist in the east combined with the grand discovery of an unopened pack of animal crackers sure isn't hurting.

It's almost official that I'll be beginning my quest for a BA at Edinboro University next fall. The only unofficial part is the fact that I haven't yet been accepted. Because Edinboro is located a convenient twenty minutes north, I can continue to reside at Place de la Concorde and my work. Also convenient is the fact that they offer excellent programs in the fields of my interest: psychology and art. With a psych major and an art minor, maybe I'll score a job as an art therapist someday.
I like when dreams solidify into plans. I also like that I only have two hours left to bask in the aura of this varnish.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What I Did On My Days Off

After working nine consecutive days, having two days off was utter bliss. I slept, slept, and slept some more. In between all those beautiful sleeps, I did the following:

Amanda (my dear friend who just moved into Place de la Concorde, as I've dubbed our house, making Three instead of Two), Bekah, and I went to the fair. Forgive me if I wax sentimental, but walking through the cow barns was my favorite part. My lungs felt as if they'd been suffocating for lack of dairy air. I breathed deeply, patted cows, and just generally reveled in the sight of so many beautiful animals. My dad is a genius when it comes to dairying and is a self-taught cattle judge so good that he won a judging contest once. From him I learned what I know about cattle genetics and the marks of a good cow. Here's a little-known Becca fact: for as long as I can remember, I read my dad's "bull books" from Select Sires and picked out which bull I'd like to breed with each cow in our herd to balance her weak points. For fun. Until I was seventeen years old. What else do you expect from a girl raised in a family that goes to cow sales for family entertainment? Suffice it to say that there were some lovely bovines at the fair, and I enjoyed them more fully thanks to my dad. The horses, of course, were my second-favorite of the animals. Cupping the nose of a prize-winning Arabian in your hand is quite thrilling, as was the draft horse judging. Oh, and the pigs! I so wanted to take a baby squealer home with me! They are so comical and their mini snouts so perfect. I restrained myself, however. I doubt city ordinances would allow a pig in my backyard. We held a 7-foot boa, ate sausage sandwiches and ice cream, I won a T-shirt in a dart-throwing game, Amanda won an adorable mug in a coin-tossing game (to add to our epic collection of mugs), and Bekah gave me a bite of a deep-fried Snickers bar (it was good, but one bite sufficed). Oh, and I bought one of those super-comfy Indian blankets. The fair was lovely.

I've been reading The Children of Hurin and The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun, both excerpts from the (I think) twelve-volume set of Tolkien's "History of Middle-Earth". Fascinating history bits and genealogies. Did you know the elf-lord Elrond of Rivendell had a tiny bit of human in his ancestry? Also, Elrond and Galadriel, the elf-queen of Lothlorien had a common ancestor. Of course, being so immersed in Middle-Earth lore, watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was perfectly natural. Good thing Bekah and Amanda love it as much as I do. Such fun to laugh, clench your fists, shout agonized advice to Frodo, and quote favorite quotes together!

In the evening air that smacked invigoratingly of fall, Bekah and I dug a flower-bed home for the birdbath. I most satisfiedly mixed good compost into the soil around the white echinacea and pink tea rose bush. I'll have to post pictures of the result later.

My days off were quite tolerable, indeed.

This entire post is for those of you who want to know what I actually DO with myself. If, perchance, you've read this far.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

These Hands

She holds her head proud
She walks tall
She tilts her chin in defiance
She refuses to talk when she's mad

Today, she walked by me
Eyes blinking
Chin on her chest
Eyes on the floor

I followed
Found her willowy self
Scrunched in the corner
Sobbing into her arms

I sat down beside her
Rubbed her back
"I know it's been hard
You have what it takes"

"I don't care," she spat
"I've tried to change
No one sees
So I'm not going to try"

"Oh, honey," I said
"You can't change yesterday
But you always have a choice
Make a good one"

"No! I don't care
What happens to me
I'm done"
She shrugged off my hand

"But I do care
You're smart
Beautiful and talented
You can do this"

A few minutes after
I left her alone
She emerged
Head up proudly

She put on her shoes
I walked her to school
Told her she made me proud
She walked tall and smiled

This afternoon
Kneading bread dough
I noticed my hands
Stared at them in awe

How does God see fit
To use these hands?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who needs Walgreens?

We have greens on our wall, too.

Bad joke, I know. I just crack me up sometimes.

Air-drying basil works, but more ingenious is a tip I got from a friend: to dry herbs, spread the leaves on cookie sheets in a hot car for a day. The herbs dry in no time, and your car smells amazing.

I'll have to do that next time. For now, I smile at the sight of herbs drying in my kitchen and laugh at my strange sense of humor.

For real, when you can grow your own herbs and spices, who really DOES need Walgreeens?

Chair Makeover

 Two dining room chairs came home with me from the coolest sale last Friday.
Two for $8 is just my style.
The scratches and worn vinyl were not so much.

After much sanding, paint, and my first attempt at upholstering,
they are much more my style.

The fabric came from Jo-Ann Fabrics.
I kinda sorta really adore it.

I used this paint and absolutely LOVED it.
It's by far the best spray paint I've used.
The Painter's Touch primer is great, too.
Some primers leave little warts; not this brand.

Next on the makeover list is the dresser/secretary I use as the coffee center in the kitchen...

Thursday, August 12, 2010


A little over a month ago, I posted this:

I admired a friend's tea rose bush this morning, and she promptly cut a sweet rose for me. I read that honey can be used as an organic rooting hormone, and I hope the article was right. I wounded the bottom of the cutting, smeared it in honey, removed the lower leaves, immersed six inches of the cutting in loose potting soil, and inverted a container over the leafed, exposed end. The Rosebush Project has begun, adding to my family of growy things. :)
After weeks and weeks of checking for new growth, I peeked under the container "greenhouse" last week, and this is what I saw:

The reddish leaves were brand new! I admit I ran into the house and grabbed Bekah, yelling, "Come look! Come look!"

This week, here's what she looks like (the rose cutting, not Bekah):

A whole new rosebush, from one rose. Pretty soon, she'll be ready to be planted in a flower bed.

It's the simplest joys that run the deepest.

Speaking of joys, one of my girls at work has been very open in her hatred for me. I didn't think it would ever change. Over the past week, it seems to be, almost imperceptibly. Yesterday, she walked by me and hit me with this comet: "I love you, Becky." I recovered my verbal capacity in time to assure her I love her as well. Wow. Sure never thought I'd live to see that day.


In other adventures of last week, here's one I have no desire to relive:

In the merciful coolness of an evening last week, I began digging a flower bed for my new bird bath. Bekah started mowing the lawn. The flower bed's perimeter was  barely finished when Bekah came running around the corner of the garage. Followed by a swarm of hornets. The hornets were rather upset that Bekah had dared mow their little backyard and stung her with great vim and vigor.

I dropped my shovel. What could I spray on Bekah that would kill the hornets and not kill her? I ran for the Windex and proceeded to empty half the bottle on her while imploring the hornets not to sting me because I'm allergic and really didn't feel in the mood for any kind of medical emergency.

One hornet was not moved by my pleading.

By the time Bekah was insect-free and checking out her battle scars, I felt really... weird.

If I take Benadryl immedately, I usually don't have too dangerous a reaction. Not like when I was Five Years Old and my throat swelled shut or anything.

We didn't have Benadryl.

Both of us sweaty, Bekah and I, covered in Windex and soil, respectively, drove as quickly as legal to Walgreens. Bekah, despite her multiple stings, had to drive because I was staggering like a drunk.

Not to complain about Walgreen's customer service or anything, but I stood at the checkout for a good long time before anyone came to let me pay for the Benadryl.

"Would you like any KitKats, Baby Ruth, or Twix bars today?" the cashier asked, gesturing at the "ON SALE" array on the counter.

"No, thanks. Just the Benadryl," I replied, swaying slightly and trying to swipe my card.

He hadn't totaled the order yet.

"What about Walgreens-brand toothbrushes? Two for fifty cents?"

"No, thanks. Just the Benadryl." Not feeling very coherent at this point and hoping vaguely he didn't think I was drunk, I again tried to swipe my debit card.

He still hadn't totaled the order.

"How about.."

"No, thanks. Just the Benadryl."

Giving me a strange look, he pressed the total button.

I paid, grabbed the Benadryl, and swayed out onto the sidewalk where Bekah was waiting with my water bottle. Like pill poppers, we both immediately took the max dosage. Thank God she isn't allergic to stings, but she had a massive lot of poison going on in her system.

That having happened last week and this being THIS week, obviously we survived. I just don't think I'll ever have the courage to go back to Walgreens.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Tolkien and the Gospel, or "Adventure"

I think we all reach points in our stories when it seems like we've reached the end. Nothing seems to be turning out the way it should, and we don't see much reason to go on. The problem is, the book isn't over. Somehow, we have to keep living, going from page to page.

It's hard. So hard that you being to understand that you can't do it much longer. Only you don't seem to have much choice.

If only you knew how it all would end, you could live this page. But that's the problem: you don't know. And every page of every day, the words your feet scratch seem to be the same as the page before. You guess the next page will be the same.

I've been there, and I began to understand something: my story isn't my own. I'm a character in a meta narrative, an epic that was begun before the ages. Rather than focusing on whether or not my end will be the one of my choice, I only have to see what my part is on this page. In that realization, I found something: adventure.

J.R.R. Tolkien, master of human story-telling, says it well. It's the scene where Frodo and Sam are nearing Mount Doom in the evil wasteland of Mordor, near the end of their weary quest to destroy the One Ring. But you know this, right? If you don't, I beg you to end your deprivation and read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.’

‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just landed in them usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’

‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’
It's true. Life isn't for wimps. That doesn't mean we have to just buck up and deal with things, pretending we don't care or it doesn't hurt. Neither should we have to pretend that because God knows what's going on, this must be His Divine Doing and we shouldn't question. Being characters who only see today, it's not only fine, but necessary, to be honest. To cry as well as laugh, to question as well as believe. Meanwhile, we keep writing. With hope and an abiding sense of excitement. Because we know the Author. And we know that He is weaving together, with threads of Redemption and Mercy, the imperfect parts we all play... and that, somehow, when the Author ends the chapter titled "Time", it will all come out right.

The most admired of lives were lived by those who kept going, not avoiding hardship, because they knew. They were part of something bigger. A grand adventure.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A little table with your coffee?

A birdbath for my back yard. 
That's what I've wanted. 
But, of course, I wanted something less expensive and more creative than the predictable white plastic.
I thought I could use a large planter base for the top, if only I could find a base.

A little table at my favorite coffee shop, Artist's Cup Cafe, caught my eye more than a year ago.
Sure, the gold was a bit ghastly, but its style was adorably French. I was just a bit jealous.

Yesterday, to escape the heat and humidity, Bekah and I went to Artist's Cup for smoothies.
A blended mocha for me, thanks. Some concoctions were just meant to be.

Bekah noticed the little French table siting in a corner. Its ceramic top had been broken.

I know a scavenging opportunity when I see one.

The cafe owner is a sweet lady who always talks to regulars like me and makes the coffee shop feel like a family of sorts, drawn in from the sidewalks by the warmth of human company, art, and (of course) phenomenal coffee.
I could work up enough courage to ask her if I could buy the broken table.

"Just take it! On one condition... don't bring it back." 

Who walks into a coffee shop for a drink and comes out with a free table? 
What can I say? ;)

Back home, I immediately took Miss Too-Golden 

for a visit to The Graveyard. It's behind the shed, where the grass that barely grows there is usually covered by a fine mist of paint.

A coat of spray primer followed by satin-finish ivory spray paint
a $6 planter base from Home Depot

I'm still debating whether or not to paint the terra-cotta planter base.
 Pretty sweet birdbath for $6, no?

All the more reason to love Artist's Cup Cafe.
As if I needed a reason.

Monday, August 2, 2010


While Bekah and her parents moved her things into the house that is finally not my solitary abode, I entertained Isaiah, her adorable nephew. We washed dishes, made guacamole for supper, and built things with wooden blocks. I haven't had so much fun in a long time. I'd forgotten how everything done with kids is so much... richer, somehow. It's impossible to be completely time-driven, and you're more aware of the simple joys so easy to overlook. Like putting soapsuds on your nose, letting water run through your fingers, squishing avocados with a biscuit mixer, and racing to see if you can complete a replica of Stonehenge before marauding feet gleefully destroy it.

Sometimes life can wear on a person, you know? Sometimes constant prayers still go unanswered, people try to step on you to advance themselves, and innocence, love, and trust seem extinct. Kids remind us of how the world should be. Just by being himself, Isaiah refreshed me... gave me the energy to keep working for a better world.