As Christians, why do we struggle against the world when we are told our enemy is not flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12)? Why do we wage war as the world does, with hateful words and rhetoric, when we are told these are not to be our weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)? Why do we insist on clutching to our own agendas when following God’s agenda would be so much more fruitful (James 4:7)?
We’re a fearful culture. We exclude, discriminate, segregate, judge, restrict, and divide. We live from fear. We are slow to learn and resist change. We refuse to gently and lovingly engage when we see or hear private wrongdoing; we step away because, “it’s not my concern.” Yet we’re quick to indiscriminately judge whole groups, deciding they are greater sinners than we. We’re caterpillars who inch along, give our Sundays to God…
Until we moved to Florida, I’ve never had trouble taking care of my house plants. We had geraniums on the veranda along with jade plants. They loved the climate and grew to magnificent sizes. I discoverer something on the jade plants that I had never seen in the states: they had tiny flowers blooming in the winter. I had an African violet in the house.
Plants were not the only thing that thrived in our home. Our cat, Fofinha, had been to the vet for an operation. After that she made herself at home, and grew. She made peace with Susie after she got into Susie’s food that I was warming on the stove once; she regretted it afterward.
Eventually, we had a pair of canaries courtesy of my friend who opened her own flower and bird shop. They were Caruso and Kate (short for Kate Smith). Caruso’s song was complex and always lifted my heart. When Kate laid eggs, we loved watching how he fed her so she could feed the chicks.
Bethy had grown up a lot that year she turned four years old and began to lose her baby looks. Being the big sister sobered her to a degree as well. She worried about Susie’s unpredictable moments. A lot. (And I think she still worries at times.) Christmas was a familiar friend by then.
Susie didn’t know what Christmas was, but she was ready to party. She clung to her habit of waking me several times a night, and I decided that our family size had reached its limit. Never again. Harry and I had also been growing along side of the girls; it is difficult not to when you have two young children whose needs often required to be dealt with before our own.
Right after Christmas, it was Susie’s first birthday. Of course she had a chocolate cake. She was a proper girl!
Portugal is on the same parallel as New York City. The climate, however, is mild courtesy of the Gulf Stream which makes it a Mediterranean climate. That does not mean that spring is less welcome. The wet, chill rains of winters pelt the pavements from October through February.
The first harbinger of spring blossoms in the Algarve when the almond trees burst forth in January. The blossoms are like snow without the cold and wet. Slowly spring moves north and soon the warmth of the spring sun warms the country altogether.
Soon the winter vegetables give way to peas, lettuce and other warm weather delights. The school children take off their woolen clothing and exchange them for something lighter. Potted plants begin to stretch toward the sun and thoughts of the beach. I think spring was my favorite time in Portugal.
This afternoon, as I was looking at the comments from my readers, I saw a new blogger had liked it. It is about the beauty of Portugal and the food. That was fun to see. Here is the web address for this blog. http://saltofportugal.com/
This Medievalvillage, built on top ofan isolatedhill,820 metersabove sea level,offersa splendid view overthefields and hillsaround.Thisancient walled town, fully recovered under theHistorical VillagesRecovery Program, shows signsof human occupationdating back to thePaleolithic age. Although thecounty seathaspassed toFigueira de CasteloRodrigo, the village still hasmany placesof interest, such asthe mother church,founded by theHospitallerBrothersin 1192anddedicated to OurLady ofRocamador; the tank, served by two gates, a GothicandMoorishanother; the pilloryandthe clockinstalledonan oldtower. You can see how the castle ruinsreveals theangerof the populationwhen, at the endof the reign ofPhilip II, burnedthe old palace ofCristóvão deMoura, one of the defendersof Spanishlegitimacylusitanialand.
Birthday parties are well celebrated in Portugal. At least they were among the people we knew. Bethy, who was born in August, and other staff kids who had birthdays during camp time, always celebrated their special day at camp. Along with cake, there were other sweets and food. Along with the food there was general pandemonium during the space of a couple of hours.
After Susie’s birth, Bethy began to grow up quickly. She loved being Mother’s Helper. She began by learning how to stir the breakfast oatmeal and followed it up by learning to wash and dry dishes. Once she realized she had power to create peace in her room, she started putting things away. She helped me shop and clean house.
Susie was very different. Her favorite place to be for quite a few years was wherever Mommy was at any given time or place. If I was there, she was fine. If I was not, she would not rest until she found me or until I cam home. Within that factor, she was an explorer of many things. If I was in the kitchen, she was in the kitchen. Eventually, I had to give her some of my plastic kitchen ward in self-defense.
Susie learned to walk and then to run. She was most pleased with her self when she could run back and forth on the varanda. Clearly, she was going places. But, she still stayed close to Mommy.
In spite of that, she did manage to get into her fair share of trouble. One day my friend was helping me clean. She called me to come to the bathroom. I often used my typewriter to write letters to supporters and to family and friends. Normally, I covered it up when I left it, but planned to return soon. Susie took advantage of my absence and decided to explore this machine in which Mommy had so much interest. I found her in the bathroom looking like this:
Between her and the young kitten, things were lively for quite some time. They played together, and they shared a hobby. Long before paper shredders were available, these two were paper terrorists. As soon as Susie was able to get around and grab a book to use for teething we made an executive decision to abandon the room that was our bedroom, move the bed into a different room and make the former bedroom the library. Where we could put the considerable collection of books we had.