Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Laugh in the Face of Chaos! Ha Ha Ha Ha!

     So this is my kitchen at one o'clock in the afternoon on Thanksgiving day. I laughed out loud when I went through the photos and saw this. It's so real. I'll admit that I was a little stressed at the moment this photo was taken. I had just discovered that one of the two turkey breasts I planned to cook for our dinner had a bad odor to it. I decided to drop everything and drive the twenty five miles round trip to the supermarket to exchange the stinky bird. Thankfully, all the side dishes and desserts were staged or already cooked and the weather was so beautiful that the family didn't even miss me while I was gone. They were all playing outside. So, I made the drive, got the fresh turkey breast, rushed home and had them both cooked and served only twenty minutes later than planned.
     In general, this sums up how all my days feel lately. Everything is fine, the days come and go without incident, but I can't seem to get a hold of peace and tranquility. I definitely can't get a hold on housework. I will cut myself a little slack and reason that we've had a lot of house guests and activity in November. I've also been sewing and making some Christmas things and I let everything, including the housework, slide because I would much rather sew or hook. But I do wonder why it feels like time is passing much more rapidly these days (and years). I wonder if perhaps the world truly is spinning faster but the scientists don't notice it because the entire universe is moving faster and it's all relative, so it's impossible to detect or measure. I'm sure astrophysicists would laugh at my theory, but someone is going to have to convince me with solid proof that time isn't fleeting the way I imagine it is. 
     My best laid plans for these next few weeks are to get on top of all the housework before the next round of house guests arrive at Christmas. My sister and her family will celebrate with us and I'm excited about their visit. In the meantime, I will try to get my head out of the clouds and stop pondering the state of man and the universe. Admittedly, that chews up more time than anything. Evidently God has already answered all that and put the entire thing in order and we'll celebrate that very fact with the birth of our Savior in a few short weeks. What a relief to know I can rest with that assurance. There is where we find true rest and peace and tranquility. There was another place I found a bit of quiet time and tranquility, just when I probably needed it most. It was during the time it took to drive to the supermarket to exchange the turkey breast. That thirty minutes in the car, all alone on an empty highway, (because everyone else in Botetourt was home having their turkey), was actually quite peaceful. Lemonade out of lemons. Peace during chaos.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Contrasts and Thankfulness


     Wow! What a blast of siding ripping, shingle flaying wind we just experienced these last three days. It is finally calm today and it feels eerily quiet compared to that howling banshee we heard both day and night. I don't think anyone got any sleep. We lost some siding from the house and our neighbor had a huge piece of metal something fly off his chimney. The temperatures also dropped by twenty degrees. It certainly gave us a sampling of what is to come when winter arrives.
     I was just admiring our little rose bush with its cheery blooms the day before. It is a treat to see such pretty flowers in November. In seasonal contrast, the bittersweet vines that represent fall trail up the trees and fence posts right across the road. It's fun to see bits of summer bloom alongside pieces of fall like this here in Virginia.
     I heard reports of snow in New England on Monday from my sister and daughter. In keeping with my fickle self, I both shake my fist at the blustery wind and cold, yet feel homesick for the gray skies and barren landscape that are November in my mind's northern eye. How I wish I could have the best of both worlds, north and south. I suppose the roses and the bittersweet represent this inner struggle I experience to know where I belong.
     As our children have grown up and expanded our family, the folks around our holiday table now fluctuate from year to year. We never quite know who will be able to travel or who will decide they want to begin their own family's traditions at home. Steve and I are fine to go with the flow. Sometimes there might be four of us around the table and other times there could be twenty-four. This Christmas, for example, we will have no grandchildren here. Instead we will have four dogs (and their owners). Now that's a new one for us!
     Whatever loved ones may be around your table this holiday, whether they be two-footed or four, I wish you a blessed time together, filled with thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

When the Bough Breaks...

     When the faraway residents of the family come to visit, it is always a cause for celebration. As soon as Chelsea announced the dates she would visit with Simon and Hugo this fall, we all began to make plans. My part of the planning centered around sleeping arrangements for ten guests and food for seven days. Steve's part was to oversee our annual bonfire that would culminate on the weekend. We were blessed with perfect weather for the entire duration of the week. Temperatures remained in the sixties every day and the nights became chilly enough to feel cozy. The grandchildren (and big children) played, others hiked, and some romped in the fields and bushwhacked trails. The menfolk sampled their fare share of beer, and we all ate a lot.
     Simon wielded the chainsaw for two days and finished cutting down the large tree that fell over the summer. The older portions of the tree, mainly the leafy branches that were already dry, had been piled earlier this summer to fuel the bonfire that we knew would eventually come. The newly cut trunk and larger branches will fuel our wood stove next winter. I've never seen anyone work so long and hard to cut up a tree, yet consider it play as did Simon.
     Claire and Daniel's children all have November birthdays so, we included birthday gifts as part of the weekend celebration. Each child is so unique and it's fun to see their personalities blossom as the years go by. During one quiet moment on Sunday afternoon, I looked out back and saw Steve pushing Jack on the swing. The swing hangs from a tree way out back, up on the hill. While Steve pushed Jack on the swing, Jack yelled out to the hills and fields in order to hear his echo. On and on he swung and on and on he yelled.
     I love being Nonni and I hope for all the grandchildren to have happy memories of coming to Nonni and Pop's as the years go by. We received news that a new grandchild will join the family next summer. Chelsea and Simon are expecting a baby brother or sister for Hugo. Oh boy! (or girl!)
     As our lives cycle with births and deaths, joys and sorrows, I bade another goodbye to my mom at the bonfire when I placed some of her personal belongings on the flames. There were certain items that remained after her passing that I felt too personal to dump in the landfill or to donate to charity. With a heavy heart I carried these to the fire and whispered to her how much I miss her. It's impossible for my heart not to break all over again each time I confront this loss. Surrounded by the children was the best possible way to surge through the sorrow.

Simon works on what remains of the fallen tree.
Hugo is nine months old!
Claire, Chelsea, Henri, and Jack

Tess and Ian

Jack waves from the treehouse.
Simon builds the small fire for roasting hot dogs.

Fashioning roasting sticks was part of the fun.
Jared and Audrey
All of our play took place under the beautiful Super Moon

Daniel and Matthew, Claire and Mari
Lighting the bonfire

Chelsea and her roasting stick

The guys worked very hard to keep the fire safe and contained
Steve keeping watch with rakes and shovels while Tess enjoys a snack. (potato soup or tirimisu?)   
Steve's brother Jim even happened to join us on his way home from North Carolina to New York!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

     Something Steve and I have wanted to do for years but could never seem to find or take the time to do was visit Williamsburg. We finally made it and it was well worth the wait. We barely scratched the surface of all there was to see and I could gush on and on about the architecture, the cobblestones, the bricks, mossy roofs, tidy privets, amazing gardens, the beautiful church, sheds galore, and the amazing history at every turn. We spent ten hours roaming at our leisure. We toured the interior of several buildings including the Capital, the Palace and several small establishments like the blacksmith and apothecary.We must go back again, but in the meantime here are a handful of the hundreds of photos we took.

I had no idea Colonial Williamsburg was so big.
A tiny portion of the main thoroughfare, Duke of Gloucester Street where Steve's favorite spot, the blacksmith's shop is located- on the left in the rear.
We enjoyed roaming the side streets and back alleys.

Every detail was beautiful and every spot used for something, like this little square patch of ivy.
I really liked the Apothecary shop. It smelled interesting.

A beautiful Live Oak on (or near) the Palace Green.

It's all about the details...

First we visited the simple person's garden, which was pretty amazing.

Then we walked to the Palace gardens. Oh my! The left and right sides are flanked by two allees of trees.
Here is the allee on the left.
I chose this perfect place, in the allee, to eat my truffle : )
The rear of the Palace.

Bittersweet espaliered on the wall! I've never seen this done with bittersweet.

We attended an organ concert by candlelight while children and families were trick-or-treating outside. It was fun to be in town after dark with all the Halloween festivities going on. It was also remarkable to sit here in the Bruton Parish Church knowing it was built over 300 years ago and pondering who else in history may have sat here.
The following day we drove along the Colonial Parkway along the Powhatan River and the site of the Jamestown settlement. Another reason we must go back, to see Jamestown.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hooked Rug Bench Makeover


     I found this bench at an estate sale last summer. It's a nice little size for the bedroom and very solid and sturdy. The moment I saw it, I envisioned replacing the upholstered cover with a hooked rug. I really didn't mind the orangey-red color of the bench, but it was hard to work with, so I painted it with Annie Sloan's chalk paint called French Linen, (leftover from our bathroom vanity redo). This neutral color allowed a lot more leeway in whatever colors I decided to use in my rug. I finished hooking the rug a few weeks ago and I finally got around to having Steve help me staple it onto the board backing. I'm pleased with how it turned out. The rug pattern is called "Dianne's Basket" by Holly Hill Designs. I hooked it in #6 cut on linen backing using mainly textured wool plus a couple of hand-dyed pieces for the pinks. I had to extend the background on the sides of the rug to fit the bench seat, which was very simple to do. Just hook more of the black!
     One of the things that continually comes to mind when I hook or look at patterns is the way the background, especially a black background, makes the colorful patterns pop. It reminds me of the Psanky Easter eggs we make. Intricate and colorful designs are dyed onto the egg with the final color being black. Once the process is complete and the beeswax is wiped off the egg, the colorful designs pop out from the black background. Same thing! I love it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Homemade Halloween

     Hang around the children long enough this month and the talk will always turn to their Halloween costumes. I love dressing up in costume and pretending to be someone else. Doesn't everyone? Three of the grandchildren were visiting this weekend and they are almost always wearing some sort of make believe costume, even if it's only a hat or cape. I love it.
     Steve ran across a song about homemade Halloween costumes on Youtube today. To our delight, a certain husband and two daughters popped up at the 1:05 minute mark. It's a nice, nostalgic song that conjures up memories of some of the costumes we wore as children. Enjoy!