Monday, January 31, 2011

The Wistful Whistle

     I am not quite sure what it is about a train...  Something in the sounds evokes many thoughts and images.  Sitting in my classroom, I hear several daily train whistles.  I know they are almost entirely freight trains, merely transporting items from here to there, but that doesn't stop the imagination.  Even the school children perk up and listen to the train whistle signaling its arrival nearby.
     I think that the sound of the whistle is almost like a promise.  It is a promise that life is still moving forward.  People still have places to go and things to do.  It is a promise that one ride on a train will take you on adventure away from the ordinary.  Sometimes, it is a promise of  greener grass and sunnier days. Sometimes it is the hopes of a great escape.  It is a wistful, wanting sound.  Maybe, it is really a sound of hope.  As long as the train whistles, there is something to hope for. 
     Now I know, we are to strive to live contented lives.  It is a mandate from our Maker.  I know that too much wistful thinking is not good for the soul.  But a little wishful hoping can be medicine for the heart.  Hoping for something means trying for something. It means dreaming and working for a better future.  It means perseverance.  Not all wistfulness is foolish!
     I rode on a train once.  (I have been on many small trains for entertainment)  However, one time, I really rode a train.  I, and another girl, took a 1,000 mile train ride through Russia.  We left in search of Moscow, and it was a scene straight from a movie picture.  We had our own sleeping car, table, and tea set.  There was a dining car and a small restroom to be shared by many travelers.  We crisscrossed the terrain for over two days.  I almost hated to sleep because it was such an adventure.  The train was very old and looked much like the one in my picture.  We made many stops to pick up travelers.  Each stop brought vendors and flower-selling peasants.  It was, in many ways, the ride of a lifetime.  We landed in an extrememly large and busy Moscow train station.  That trip was one to never forget.  Once our stay was over in Moscow, we boarded the same train to return to our little village in Siberia.  That ride will always embody all the thoughts I have when I hear a train.  When the whistle blows, I want to find a suitcase and ready myself for traveling adventure. 
     I suppose in general, I want to be ready whenever necessary to take that next step into the unknown.  I want never to be so stuck in my ways that I cannot take the next train to what lies before me.  Until the train leaves the station, I will busy myself with my daily tasks set before me.  But note... the suitcase is in reach!  Is yours? 
All Aboard!
~B Charmer

Friday, January 28, 2011

Guinea Fowl Theology

This is a scene that has become part of my everyday for several years now.  I work in what most would consider rural, South Carolina.  While the school I teach in is in the city limits, most metropolitan areas of the world would not expect to wait on crossing Guinea Fowls during their morning commute.  Every morning, when I turn off the highway onto the road where I work, my son and I pass a modest farm.  We know the owners, and I have taught their grandchildren in school.  We often look to see what animals have decided to venture out to the pastures in the cool morning.  Some mornings we see horses, other mornings it is only goats.  However, nearly everyday we patiently wait on the dear Guineas to decide which side of the road they happen to prefer on any given morning.  Many mornings I chuckle at their awkward, slow walk down the center of the road.  Other times, I insist they are taking my valuable time, and would wish they would put a little pep in their step.  My little boy finds this amusing.  We laughed together this morning at how unconcerned they are with what would seem, to them, to be our enormous truck.  They never scurry, fly, or even seem to care.  The horn does little to rattle their nerves.  They don't appear to be very bright...or maybe they are merely stubborn creatures.  Whatever the case, I couldn't help but think today of the comparison of these fragile birds to fragile humans.  How our Maker must chuckle at our stubbornness when we refuse to see the obvious in front of our faces.  He must certainly wait quite patiently on us to decided just which side of the road we will choose.  He knows how bright we are and are not.  At any moment, He could wipe us out in one swoop, but His loving and gentle hand rests while we mosey through our days.  He even cares which side of the road we choose and if we lose any "feathers" along the way. 
     I am but a speck on this great, vast Earth.  However, my Maker cares for me as His very own.  He shelters me from harm, feeds me daily, and allows me to make stubborn, silly choices.  The little moments God uses to speak to us should never be taken for granted...even those when waiting on the Guinea Fowl to cross to the other side.
May your day be filled with moments with your Maker.
~B Charmer

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Love of Mine...

     I wanted to share a book with you all that I absolutely love!  It is unsurprisingly, a cookbook.  I found this book in a sort of funny way.  Before my first son was born, I spent many hours working behind a desk at a law firm.  It was not exactly the most entertaining job I had ever had.  I was the receptionist and wore a few different hats.  Mostly, I answered phone calls, refilled coffee, and waited for five o'clock.  It was a good job, but it came after a move and in between teaching jobs.  It was rather unusual for me to leave the classroom and work behind a desk.  So, I sort of lived for things like lunch breaks and bank holidays.  Let me just say, bank holidays are nothing compared to school holidays! Office hours certainly do not compare with teaching hours.  Yes, it takes many hours to prepare and teach well, but so much can be done from home....office work, by its definition, takes place well...in an office.  Joy oh joy.  But, I digress....
     Lunch time became my great escape.  I would run away to my car and dial in to a radio program on Moody Bible Radio.  I loved it...Midday Connection was the name of the program. It is basically a women's radio program covering a vast array of topics.  Some days they would venture into home life, cooking, and so forth.  One day, they had these ladies on their show representing their cook book.  I was hooked.  The whole premise of the book was preparing meals in advance and in bulk to freeze.  These meals were tested for quality to last well in the freezer for several months.  Of course, it was intended to simplify the dinner delima, but it was also an avenue for serving others.  It is easy to give to a meal to new parents when you have a stock pile of them in the freezer. Anytime there is occasion where gifting meals is appropriate, it is like a storehouse for the giver.  I loved the idea, and really wanted the book.  That very day, I went to our only bookstore with my fingers crossed.  I was anticipating that this book would not be available through this store, but much to my surprise...they actually had ONE copy on the shelf.  That copy is now sitting comfortably on my shelf at home.  The book is filled with stains and splatters, notes and comments on dishes tried and tasted.  It is a well-worn paperback go-to in my house.  The name of the book is, Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer by Suzie Martinez, Bonnie Garcia, and Vonda Howell.
     It is a fun book to use, and I love the idea that the authors give about creating a cooking circle with local women.  The concept is to gather once a week in some one's kitchen, and prepare meals together.  The group keeps a community box of certain ingredients and freezer materials to be shared by all.  It is a budget friendly concept that promotes saving money and building friendships. It is a great idea that I would love to try out sometime!  So, if you are anywhere near my area, and would like to join a cooking circle, please let me know!  I will be happy to host! 
So, here's to aprons, dirty dishes, and a freezer full of yummy food! May you be inspired to share your kitchen and your tasty treats!
~ B Charmer

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Of Song and Dance and Knitting Needles

     My how the time has passed!  Apologies are futile, for I have neglected my writing.  However, I have been journaling the old -fashioned way and quite enjoying it.  Now, if only those words would magically jump off the written page and into my cyber-space journal I would be doing quite well!
     The seasons have changed, the holidays have passed, and our lives keep progressing.  I cannot believe that in a mere two months, I should be holding my new, precious son.  I feel him inside tugging for more room, and with each tug, my anticipation grows for his arrival.  I did survive the throws of the first 18 weeks of  general unwellness.  Then, there were some new challenges thrown our way...but all seems to be progressing fine these days.  I am a bit concerned that he is trying to make an early entrance.  The doctor is keeping a close eye on his ETA.  Hopefully, this too will progress as it ought.
     I thoroughly enjoyed cooking my ways through the holidays in my kitchen.  The stove and oven hardly had a chance to cool for a near month.  Menu planning is still a life-saver and going well.  Although, the last couple of weeks have been a bit unorganized.  We have definitely gone way up on our quota of family dinners!  Our challenge for the year has not been perfect, but I can honestly say we are far better off this year than last, and to me that is a sweet success!
    I have been singing and dancing daily with my school children and enjoying it greatly.  We had 3 wonderful school programs for the holidays, and I was really pleased with the turnout!  We are now preparing for spring and 2 programs just before baby comes!  We shall see how long this ole gal can kick up her heels this spring! 
     I celebrated another birthday...gulp...31.  It seems odd to be in the over 30 group.  But, I like who I am becoming so that makes aging ok I suppose.  I am, however, upping the nightly face creams!  I may be over 30 now, but I want to look a youthful 17....well I will settle for 25. 
     So, for my birthday I told my husband I really and truly wanted to learn to knit.  He really surprised me and got me all sorts of confusing wonderful tools to learn to knit!  Can I just say, self-teaching the art of knitting has me questioning my intelligence!  I hope to have something to show for it all eventually!  Any knitters out there want to offer some advice...encouragement...good information to make this a little less insane! It is a fun challenge, and something new that I needed!  Just a warning...there will be more posts to come on this subject! 
    It feels so nice to come and converse here again.  I have missed it dearly.  If you have not all abandoned me, thanks for hanging in there!
~ B Charmer
 

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