Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time to Ponder, Five Stars, I'm Impressed

1. Hmm. I'm not quite sure I grasp the whole concept of time and its passing. I know I don't like it. I also know that anything contrary would go against the laws of nature and the universe, so I float along on River Time just like everyone else. I have no idea where it will take me during the 2014 stretch. Might there be whirlpools and floods and logjams? Sure. But, there will also be sweet meadows on its bank on which to rest and white water rapids to excite. Either way, here we go. Hang on tight! May I find peace in knowing God is my guide and the river flows through his hands.
2. "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey is a captivating book. The author writes without quotations and the whole effect is stunningly blunt. The story creates a very fine line between what is real and what is not. The author was born, raised and still resides in Alaska, so it's no wonder her descriptions took me there.
3. Youngest is throwing a party for her friends at our home. I'm the chaperone. My main observation: they make a lot of noise.
3a. I could not find balloons anywhere in Botetourt County. I wanted the rubber kind you blow up yourself. My last ditch effort was at the dollar store. Eureka! They had tons of balloons, even bags of individual colors. I have to stop dissing the dollar store.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Keeping Winter, A Good Book, No Appetite for Clutter

1. Even though Christmas is winding down, winter has just begun. To beat the darkest days of the season, I'll leave wintery themes and sparkling lights here and there for a few more weeks.

2. Another quiet day for laundry and reading. I'm reading "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey. The eerie theme and 1920's Alaskan setting makes me wrap my shawl tighter as the winter wind rattles our windows tonight.
3. As Daughter #3 moves out of her room, we are left with bags for Goodwill. The timing is perfect for my annual "sweeping of the house". I'll sort and box and organize and feed the hungry monster within me that craves to de-clutter closets and shelves.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's Not Over Yet, What the Children See, Blessings and Prayers

1. Our Christmas celebrations continue through January first.
1a. On our walk this weekend we cut down a tiny "Charlie Brown" tree and decorated it.
1b. Tess and I browsed antique shops for old ornaments.
1c. We watched Elf tonight. This is a Christmas classic for me.

2. Granddaughter is now old enough to participate and understand the joy and wonder of Christmas.

3. Seeing the joy and wonder of the world through a child's eyes.
4. After everyone is gone and the house is too quiet, I reflect on the gifts from my family. It's obvious, the thought that went into each one, and I feel very blessed.

5. Far-away Daughter #3 sent me this tiny one-inch doll as part of my gift. (She knows me too well.) I realize this doll can't hear my worries nor take them away, but I will carry her in my pocket as a reminder to pray for those I love and others who come to mind.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


 We finally got to hug the newlyweds! I love their expressions in this photo.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

1. Snow flurries! Just a few snow flurries in the air caused great excitement. I watched them skid and burst into pieces on the road.
2. A thought from our pastor at the candlelight service: The stars we see in the night sky are the very same stars that Mary and Joseph saw. They are the same stars Jesus saw. And they are the very stars every other person throughout history who has ever turned his face toward the night sky has seen. 
2a. We sang Silent Night by candlelight. I glanced down at Marian's illuminated face and her eyes were wide with wonder as she held her candle.
3. This is the first Christmas when the four sisters cannot be home together. It doesn't feel right to continue certain traditions with some of us missing so we decide to improvise.
3a. Once the little ones are put to bed, two of the sisters, a son-in-law, and myself arrange gifts under the tree. Then we sit back and talk quietly under the hush and glow of it all.

This is what peace feels like, even if for a fleeting moment. The cold, dark night is far away outside the window. We are warm and fed, comforted and loved. We want for nothing and have nothing to fear. How undeserving yet blessed we are.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Joy, What's Up With This?, Stitching

1. Joy is represented on this fourth Sunday of Advent. I am thankful to hear the quiet words of the Gospel that drown out the noisy, clamoring distractions that have become Christmas. The words that turn us inward toward the true gift we celebrate.
Our joy is not based on circumstance, but on the eternal promise that God is with us.
2. OK, the weather is weird. Balmy, rainy, smells-like-spring weather. 
2a. We watched the movie, "Prancer" and I liked seeing the snow. Even the dirty, slushy snow in the movie makes me long for it.
3. I began sewing Jack's Christmas stocking. Toy-shaped felts are blanket stitched onto the background. The blanket stitches look like Stonehenge. One of the nice things about hand work; thoughts are free to meander.

*Anyone who lives nearby and does not have a church at which to celebrate Christmas is warmly invited to Wellspring Church for Christmas Eve service, Tuesday at 5:00PM.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Under the Mistletoe, Baking Day, Long Distance, Rustling Paper Noises

1. We took a walk to see the mistletoe John told us about. It grows high up out of reach. I don't think I would ever have the heart to cut it down so we figured if the mistletoe couldn't come to us, then we would go to the mistletoe...for a kiss.

The green mistletoe ball is to the left of the center of the photo, up in the tree. There were five clumps of it throughout the tree with this being the lowest.
The clumps of denser foliage are mistletoe.

I've never seen mistletoe growing wild like this, so it felt rare and magical to me. I could see its white berries! Under this we stole our kiss : )

2. Baking day! Two cheesecakes, sugar cookies, butterballs and butter horns (and biscuits for dinner).
2a. Today was the second time this season that I listened to Christmas music. The first being the day we decorated the Christmas tree.
3. Audrey called from her honeymoon. I was overjoyed to talk with her!
4. Tess came in late and I was dozing in the chair. I heard, "Don't look! Presents!" They scurried up the stairs, returning briefly for wrapping paper.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Treasured Frienships, Party Food, Bag Lady with Bling

1. The hustle and bustle of a busy day faded as I sat with contentment in front of our friends' cozy fire. A tray of assorted, bite-sized cookies and a mug of warm, mulled wine stay within arms reach.
1a.The conversation was mind bending on occasion as we contemplated the size of the universe and God's hand in all of it. But we were free to steer the talk according to our will and children, movies, and dogs became topics just as often.
2. The food for school classroom parties has certainly shifted gears over the last four decades. In place of cookies and cupcakes they serve strawberries, grapes and cheese cubes.
3. Don't you love it when three-year-olds are given the freedom to dress themselves? They come up with the most creative outfits.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Audrey and Jared are married! Crazy and unconventional, perhaps; but this is our normal. Why not go off to Las Vegas and get married? I will forever think of Audrey as my little handful of a girl and I love her to pieces. Lucky me! I have another son! 

Grab the world by the reins and go for it!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Best is Saved for Last, Shushing Linda, All Natural, A Big Day

1. I eagerly drove to my favorite chocolate shop to purchase Christmas gifts. Their truffles are so wonderful that they sell little boxes to hold just one or two. As tradition would have it, I always buy a White Pecan Turtle for myself to eat on the drive home : )
2. It's impossible to go out for dinner with these ladies and not have a good time. It's a good thing they seated us in a back corner because we were having way too much fun planning for our elderly years.
3. I opened my special gift from Chelsea. That girl...
4. I cry, I smile, I cry some more. I'm a little bit distracted. My thoughts are on something big that is happening in our family tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tis the Season, Santa's Helpers, More Love in a Box, Getting With the Program

1. In the school environment it is easy to be in step with the heartbeat of the seasons. They factor into almost every activity and conversation.
2. It took a small moving van and a happy crew of six to collect all the gifts that generous families donated. They will go to eighteen children who will assuredly have a happy Christmas.
3. I collect a box from the post office. It's from Chelsea and Chad in Colorado! At home, she talks me through opening the box via cell phone. There's a fun assortment of wrapped packages to go under the tree. One special box for me is to be carried off to my bedroom and opened soon. That's what she said to do : )
4. Thank goodness I got into cleaning mode! Things were going to pot around here. This led me into decorating mode which became a creative outlet which buoyed my spirits.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saturday and Sunday Melts Into One

The weekend was a whirlwind of activity and it all blurs together now that it's over. These are the stand-out moments.
1. Feeding B.'s animals, especially the horses in the barn. The smell of barns casts a spell over me, causing me to forget any worries and lowering my pulse and blood pressure. (I have no scientific proof of this, but I'm sure it occurs.)
2. Friends and coworkers invited us for an outstanding Christmas dinner at their home.
3. We shared another meal with church friends on Sunday evening. I especially enjoyed the conversation game we played.
*Our host passed around a selection of Christmas photographs downloaded and printed from the computer. Each person was to choose one picture that reminded them of something from their own past Christmases. Then we went around the table and each shared our memories.
4. I started reading The House Girl by Tara Conklin. I'm halfway through. I feel like the author has taken me on a journey. This is always a good thing when it comes to reading a book : )

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lit from Within, Another Semester Down, Another World

1. Long winter nights are synonymous with glowing candlelight. Thirty winters ago I was given this hunk of heavy glass, blown to look like an ice ball. It's lighted inside with a tea light and I love the way it glows from within.
2. A room full of happy, pretty, college girls calls out, "Goodbye" in unison and it sounds like a song.
3.  We went downtown to a movie tonight. Living so far out in the country, it's easy to forget that the entire world doesn't live in quiet darkness. So many Christmas lights and headlights!
3a. We passed magnificent homes with lighted trees in the windows and rooms lit from within. One home had a wing with floor to ceiling windows and an elegant grand piano in stately presence. It looked just like a home from a porcelain Christmas village

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keeping Warm, Creative Sweets, Joy to the World in Lights

1. Henri and I share a chair in the sun for our nap.
2. S. made each of her students the cutest candy sleighs. KitKat bars are laid across two candy cane runners and colorful foil wrapped chocolates and Reese's cups are stacked on as gifts and tied with a ribbon.
3. At night, driving past all the homes decked out with Christmas lights, I ponder the fact that they are lit because a King has been born and people everywhere rejoice. I wonder whether or not folks thought this same thing as they hung those lights.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Solid, To Liquid, Handle With Care

Photo by Tess

By Tess
1. We wake to a world encased in ice. It looks like a world of glass.
1a. No school!
2. The rising temperature causes a sudden melt. It sounds like it's raining when it's really only the water shedding from the trees.
3. The friendly UPS store takes my box and readies it for shipment. As I'm walking out the door I have an impulse to turn back and write on the box, "Handle With Love". But it's too late, they've already carried it off.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Being Still, Matinee, Holiday Tradition

1. An ice storm has cancelled everything today. No church, no Lessons and Carols, no shared meal with friends. We embraced the forced isolation and took it as a sign to do nothing.
2. Steve made a most excellent bowl of popcorn and I fixed mugs of sea salt and caramel hot cocoa. Then the three of us watched a movie in the middle of the afternoon.
3. The contrast of spices on flour as I begin a batch of gingerbread cookies. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice means Christmas time is here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Choosing the Tree

1. That was a close call! Someone else almost chose our tree while we walked down to talk to the owner. It would have been fine, really. I'm sure we would have found another tree. Nevertheless, we were relieved when they walked away from it.We had formed a bond with that particular tree. : )
1a. It's good news to hear they have planted more trees. It will be eight- ten years before they're ready, but we can be patient.
2. I always admire this massive tree trunk that stands near the road behind our house. They left about fifteen feet of trunk standing when they cut the tree down. It has wonderful animal holes and gnarly spots.It must have been a massive tree when it lived.

3. It was a perfect day to be outside, brisk and chilly with pretty views of the mountains.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Little People, Celebration, Spring Revisited

1. The accident scene involves a pink Barbie convertible and a camo-painted Hummer. The occupants have fled the scene and left their vehicles in this wrecked position in their front yard all week.
2. Two friends have organized a surprise dinner party for a mutual friend's birthday. We dine on take-out white chili and bread from Hollywood's followed by an all-female singing of "Happy Birthday" complete with sheet cake and candles.I haven't chatted with some of these ladies in a long while and it felt good to be in their company.
3. The weather continues to be mild enough to go out without a jacket. It's a weird-but-nice kinda thing.
God makes me smile.  Click  SNOWFLAKES 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Three Beautiful Things and One Negative Footnote

1. My brown wool pants with the lining feel good to wear.
2. A perfect day for gardening. Down on the ground, digging and thinking, thinking and digging. Dig a hole, plop a daffodil bulb in, cover it up, repeat. All the way up the fence line. I think of spring with hopes of seeing these daffodils emerge.
2a. My cell phone rings so I pull off my gardening gloves and lie back on the grass to chat with Claire.
3. Tess and I are still on our Big Bang Theory marathon and loving it.

From Monday: Tess and I went to the mall at 6:00PM. It was peaceful and quiet. We found that every store had 40% and 50% off sales. I refuse to shop over Thanksgiving. There's absolutely no need for it. And I refuse to be a puppet to consumerism, jumping through circus hoops on "Gray Thursday" or "Black Friday"and becoming an embarrassment to all mankind on the nightly news fighting over some electronic.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thinking of Snow, With Spit, This One?

1. I hear a motor running outside which means he got the snow blower working. He had the engine entirely apart to find what parts were broken. And then we all got to inspect said parts in a plastic baggie all week : ) Who knows if we'll need a snow blower this year, but it's good to have equipment working and ready in case...Of course, if he didn't have it working we would surely get dumped with snow.
2. Jack says, "Puffs" by making a "P" sound followed by raspberries on the end. "Pffthsss" 
3. Steve suggests a walk and the three of us, plus Henri, go. We walk past the Christmas Tree Farm and notice a steady stream of customers. On our way back we hear someone calling to us from that direction. It's some friends of ours and we walk over to see the tree they're considering. After we get home, the phone rings with another friend calling from the tree farm asking to use our truck. The tree they chose is too big for their vehicle. "Griswald" style as she describes it. : )

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Second Day After

1. We celebrated Marian's third birthday today. She was totally into decorating the cupcakes.
2. One of her cousins called me Nonni even though we're not related. I remember all the kids in my neighborhood referred to my aunt as Aunt Katherine because that's what we called her. I'm OK with being Nonni to all.

 3. Mari is so happy that the big kids indulge her with play.
* Her Grandma and Grandpa H. gave her this cool fort building set. It can be built in all different shapes; igloo, castle, tunnel, etc. It comes with sticks and connectors and you add your own sheet or blanket.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After

1. It felt good to be outside. We bundled up against the cold and trekked up the hill to the swing and tree fort. Mari said what every child says when swinging, "Higher! I want to go higher!"
1a. We swept years' worth of leaves and twigs from the tree fort with our gloved hands. We talked of plans to resurrect the make-believe place for Mari and her cousins to play.
2. Thanksgiving Dinner Revisited : )
3. A do-nothing-in-particular day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Thanksgiving at Our House But They're Never Quite the Same

1. The parade is on (and later the dog show). We arrange a glass platter with assorted fruit for snacking and a bowl of nuts for cracking as the kitchen begins to fill with good aromas.
2. Audrey lies on the floor playing Polly Pockets with Mari.
3. One of my favorite tasks of the day is setting the table. The contrast of a natural linen tablecloth with the silver and glassware is eye appealing to me. Tiny white pumpkins hold votive candles and the leaves I waxed last month are scattered down the center of the table. Bundled twigs and berries are tied with name cards to add another touch of rustic autumn to the table.
3a. Our son-in-law-to-be introduces us to his mother. I greet her with a hug and make the observation that both our families are growing : ).
4. An "off" sound comes from upstairs. It's the vacuum. Tess has decided to rearrange her room which leads to her cleaning it, of course.

5. She's inspired by the new paper, charcoal, and colored pencils we bought in the pouring rain yesterday. Throughout the day, she shows me her sketches which make me smile.
6. Mari has pumpkin pie and then apple pie for her dinner.
7. At the end of a very long day, after some have been tucked into bed and others have begun to doze, there is a little boy who cannot sleep because of his stuffy nose. Nonni cuddles him up on her lap and whispers sweet things to him. He gazes into her eyes and studies her aging face. He takes his finger and touches it to her nose. She strokes his little boy forehead and his little boy hair. His eyes become heavy and soon he is asleep. 

I just realized Jack's hair is the same color as his mother's.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baking Day, With an Occasional Squall, They're Here!

1. Four pies and two loaves of cranberry nut bread sit cooling on the counter. It's a pretty sight to see this morning's work laid out.

2. Snow flurries fly past the windows on a frenzied wind. It makes the kitchen feel welcome and cozy.
3. I bundle up and go out to find the berries and twigs that I'll use to make place cards for the Thanksgiving table. I'm bundled up properly so it's not that bad outside. The walk clears my head of all the 'busy-ness' that was tumbling around in there.
4. Claire and her family arrive, blown in by the cold and blustery wind.
5. We dine on take out pizza. I love the garlic dipping sauce/guilty indulgence from Papa John's.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

To a Mouse...at Thanksgiving

Robert Burns' poem and its line, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry." has often come to mind this week as we attempt to plan a holiday that is free of bad weather, sickness and travel woes. The last two stanzas say it all.

 Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
What makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell -
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me;
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects dreaer!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bottle this!, The Right Stuff, Good Food

1. I set the pecan pie out on the porch to cool. It's frigid cold out there and the smell of sweet pie, wood smoke, and cold air blend together in a magical aroma.
2. Daughter #4 is dating a young man who comes to our home and happily blends in with us. Any mother will understand how thankful it is to have this scenario. And he likes my cooking. That never hurts either.
3. Our church holds a celebratory Thanksgiving meal and the table overfloweth, and the little children overfloweth, and the talk overfloweth...you get the idea : ) So much for which to be thankful!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Music Festival, With Cold Air, As It Should Be

1. Presser Hall at Hollins University is an old, old building, covered in brick with ancient hardwood floors and molding, cast iron radiators, and transom windows above the interior doors. It houses the music department. On this particular Saturday young musicians played and practiced piano simultaneously in several rooms. It was a cacophony of music notes and scales that ironically sounded pleasant.
2. Steve gets a fire going in the wood stove and it smells divine.
3. The guys are shooting pool in the basement, the kids are noisily playing boardgames in the family room, and B. knits while she and I visit in the living room. The house is being used and it makes me very happy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clever Sweets, Company's Coming!, Open Door

 1. A parent made sweets that brought a smile to everyone's faces. She made dozens of these cute creations to hand out to the children and generously left the staff with some too. They were sealed in tiny plastic bags, but I could smell the chocolate all morning while I worked. *Mr. Turkey got a little beat up in my purse on the way home.
2. Uncle Jimmy and Jacob arrived from New York this afternoon. We're so happy to see family that it feels celebratory. Audrey and Jared joined the party. She had not seen her uncle in at least five years. Plenty of, "Remember When..." stories were told.
2a. I can't help but exclaim how my fifteen year old nephew is taller than me! Such a typical "aunt" remark.
3. Very mild temperatures allowed us to sit on the porch well into the night. Home brew and cigars all around. : )

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jack's Art, I Don't Bite, Getting Ready

1. When I glance in my rear view mirror before driving out this morning I see a beautiful frost pattern on the back window. I sit for a minute and study it in the mirror before I have to drive away.
2. The children are timid and shy when they come into the office on errands. We must be a scary lot, Marie and I with our flowers and smiles.
3. Claire says Mari is playing, "Going to Nonni's House". She has her stuffed toys in a bag and pretends to pet Henri. My arms are ready to have her at our door. : )

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beginning to Gel, Autumn Lunch, Craft "Shopping"

1. Thanksgiving preparations are forming in my head. This is the stage where I gain confidence that I've got a handle on it and I even begin to get excited.
2. B. invited A.and me to a lunch of butternut squash soup and homemade oat bread. There was a fire in the fireplace and a beautifully set table. What a treat to have all this placed before us and a good visit to enjoy as well! Two cups of coffee provided extra energy for the rest of the day.
3. I scan the roadside while I walk Henri, looking for winter berries and sprigs of this and that to use in decorating over the next month. I make another mental note of where to go back and find it when I need it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gray, Endless Possibilities, How I Gear Up

1. It's what I think of as a true November day; Gray sky, gray trees, gray, rainy air. It's how November should look, in my opinion, so I embrace it.
2. Her friend works in the camping department and we got the inside scoop on what's good and what's not. I marveled over the entire wall of freeze dried foods. I'm not a camper, but I love looking at all the equipment. It's similar to the appeal I have of hardware stores.
3. A nice hot cup of coffee before we venture back out into the night and the rain.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Separate Paths to the Same End, Ten Feet, Bare Wood and Crunchy Leaves

1. To have a Saturday when we are both feeling well and have no commitments outside the home. Although he and I work on separate projects, our purpose is united in that it all benefits the common good of "keeping house".

2. The smell and feel of natural linen as I hem a long length for our Thanksgiving table. I ordered it from fabrics-store.com. It's a bargain at $8.01/yard.
2a. Steve is building another leaf for our table which will extend it's length to ten feet. Now we can all sit at one table for holiday dinners.

3. These are November woods, my favorite kind for tramping through. I won't go farther than our own field for now...until hunting season is over.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings, Herbs, Children on Errands

1. I cooked a pot of Chicken and Dumplings to celebrate Friday night with comfort food at the end of our busy week. I could eat dumplings every day and never tire of them. Find a very easy recipe here.
2. My rosemary thrives year after year through all kinds of winters here in Virginia. It has become a woody, thick shrub. The parsley is still hearty, but it will die back soon. The dill surprised me today when I went to see if any still lived. A few rugged, misshapen stalks still have plenty of feathery green leaves to pinch and chop for the dumplings.
3. I have less interaction with the school children now that I work in the office. However, each morning little ones walk in pairs, holding hands to my desk and hand me their class folders. They all behave timidly except for one little boy whose eyes dart around with excitement as he asks questions and seems to want to stay and play a while.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Up Where the Air is Clear (Hum to Mary Poppins Tune), At Least I Still Have Teeth, Nice Fit

1. As we take our first blast of arctic temperatures in Virginia, I see this photo of Chelsea and Chad  on Mt. Bierstadt. And we thought it was cold here! They made their first hike of 14ers in Colorado today. I'm so proud of our adventurers.

2. Daughter #3 cleaned my teeth today. Ha,ha! It strikes me funny that she pinned a bib on me, told me to spit, and brushed and flossed for me. I teased her and told her now I know what it will feel like when I'm old and senile and she has to care for me.
3. Sometimes you have to trust the salesladies. One such lady suggested I try on a pair of pants that I never would have chosen for myself. She was right and they're great.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter Scene, When Steve's Away, Something New to Bake

1. Most of the time I don't see anything I want at the antique mall, but today I saw three things: a Department 50 Dickens Village building at 50% off, an original box of Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments, and this painting. I could only choose one thing, so I chose the painting. It's unframed and unsigned, but I love it...for only $15.00.
2. Steve was away, so for girl's night Tess and I had scrambled eggs for dinner. For entertainment, we watched a good murder mystery in the series, Midsomer Murders.
3. I baked chocolate mint cookies with Nestle morsels that combine both dark chocolate and mint. Delicious! We ate some, warm from the oven, with #2.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Protection, Already?, Deck the Halls with Autumn

I couldn't resist. This is how I saw the Indian corn this year, as a bouquet.
 1. I picked some rosemary and placed it in the wall planter outside the back door. It's to buffer the little bird who sleeps there from the wind. He is there every night and every morning. His feathers are brown with white spots, like a fawn's.
2. The Sunday sermon was so interesting and engaging that the time went by in a blink.
3. We return home and find Daughter #3 glittering pine cones at the kitchen table. She has also picked bunches of bittersweet and arranged it around the house. Her holiday Pinterest board is filling with ideas and she calls me over to come see. It's contagious behavior and I'm glad a little of that spirit rubs off on me.

Bittersweet in glass

Bittersweet twining up the chandelier

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ten Minutes Early, Comfort Food, Floating Off

1. I woke multiple times during the night, afraid I would oversleep on my first day at the new job. All the butterflies in my stomach were for naught because I received the warmest welcome when I arrived.
1a. A cheery pot of Gerbera Daisies was placed on my desk with a note that said, "Welcome to Greenfield!".
(I didn't know I was going to have a desk. I have a desk! The last time I had a desk was in 1985 : )
1b. The date on her calendar was marked, "Lee starts today!" with a smiley face next to it.
2. I love the complimentary flavors of macaroni and cheese with crunchy buttered breadcrumbs on top and stewed tomatoes on the side.
3. I wrapped myself in a down comforter to watch TV. It was so cozy, I feel right asleep.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A little post written in memory of my Uncle Tony. I enjoyed going through some old photos for this: Today I Have Something to Say

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TO: "Mom", Celebrating One, Leaving Soon

1. A facebook message from daughter #3 that made me laugh:
 I went to go type a message to you and I entered "Mom" in the recipient box.. It took me 1 whole minute to figure out why you weren't showing up. Ha! "Leonora". 
2. Our grandson turns one year old today! It pleases my heart to see our children happy and content which means their children are happy and content.

3. When people tell you that you will be missed and you know they sincerely mean it. 

My head still feels stuffed with cotton wool. It really affects clarity of thought!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's All I Have To Bring Today

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
                                                              Emily Dickinson

Still recovering from a weekend lost to fever and illness (yet again). The biggest down side of working in public school is all the lost time for sickness. C'mon immune system. Get with the program!

Netflix Makes Everything Feel Better

...and I'm watching a lot of Netflix.

I loved this "feel good" movie: Papadopoulos and Sons

I also watched the recently released second and third (!) seasons of The Land Girls. If you like BBC period pieces with a soap opera edge, then you'll love these.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Humor is Like Happy Candy, 76°, Three Down One to Go

1. I discovered Amazon has a section for "Funniest Reviews". Am I the only one to not know this? My day just got a little brighter.
2. I went grocery shopping in a short-sleeved T-shirt on the first day of November.
3. The happiest and most beautiful thing of the day, Daughter #3 is engaged! A fine, young man is joining our family and we are once again blessed.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where to Hide It?, Gathering the Colors, Mini Pot Pies

1. Gray squirrel scampers across the lawn with a big Black Walnut in his mouth. He dig, dig, digs in the grass to bury it. Nope, not the right spot. Dig, dig, dig. Nope, not the right spot, Dig, dig, dig. Nope, not the right spot. He tries again and again and ends up scampering away with the nut still in his mouth. If he's going to be that neurotic about burying his nuts, he'll never be ready for winter.
2. It's both balmy and blustery today, blowing the leaves straight off the trees. Henri and I took a stroll to gather a bouquet of leaves in red, orange, and yellow. I got up under a Maple covered in yellow leaves and pushed my head into the lower branches to reach some nice ones. The blinding yellow leaves rustled and swirled around my head making it feel like I should back out and return to reality.
2a. Pressing leaves in wax paper.
3. I made our chicken pot pies in the little pie tins. This made them taste better, of course : )

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Piano Guys, Home in the Country: Autumn

1. By far, one of the best concerts I've ever been to. If you have the opportunity, most definitely GO SEE THE PIANO GUYS!

 Thank you, Sara, for jumping on these tickets for all of us last summer. It was quickly a sold-out event.
2. Living out in the country like we do, it's easy to forget that a vibrant downtown life exists. It was  fun to do something out of the ordinary and drive into town this evening.
3. It was so mild tonight that we ate dinner on the porch. Surprisingly, there were still a few crickets singing in the field.
4. Two little house finches bed down each evening in the wall planter by the back door. We've gotten used to one another and they no longer fly out, startling me. I glance their way and see them hunkered down in the dirt under the geranium, staring at me with beady little eyes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

At Night, Funny Nerds, Slow Cooker Dinner

1. We're in the field after dark on a mild fall night. Coyotes yip and bark in the distance, making my skin crawl and the horses loom like large specters in the flashlight. But the smell of hay in the lean-to feels like a safe haven.
2. Tess and I are watching back episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Oh, they are so funny!
3. This was a good recipe from Rebecca at Shenandoah Gateway Farm: Cabbage With Sausage and Apples. I love sausage and I love cabbage and the brown sugar, coarse mustard and apple cider vinegar give it just the right flavor. (I would let it cook for the full 8 hours)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Part II: Pressing Apples

1. The antique apple press is a work of art in the simplest of mechanical forms. It has aesthetic appeal as well as a functional purpose. A cheery wooden frame, painted red, is fitted with black cast iron gears and a large turning handle. It stands on the ground and we take turns tossing apples into the hopper. Someone else turns the handle and mushed apples fall through into a slatted bucket. Then a press is placed over the bucket and hand-cranked down to smoosh the juice out. The juice runs through a wooden strainer and into channels that funnel the juice into a pot for collection.Of course it's the best tasting apple cider I've ever had.
2. John and B. created a party for the apple pressing. Complete with a bonfire, tons of cool weather foods, and friends we have not seen in ages. There were new people to meet and we all visited well into the night.
3. As friends depart, we promise not to let so much time go by until we see each other again.

Open Studios 2013

Once I knew Tess was going to take my picture I couldn't stop laughing. It was a chilly, bright autumn morning for our mini adventure.

Our first stop was at Mark Woodie's studio. He was Tess' first art teacher when she started middle school and she loved his class.

She chose one of his newest paintings titled, "Early Autumn Comes". It's a fitting title for today! We didn't know the title until after she chose it.

The painting depicts a hedgerow scene that is typical of our country life. I like the line of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

Our second of only three stops today was Ed Bordett's studio in downtown Fincastle. It occupies a big, old space that he shares with another artist named Brett LaGue.

I love the smell of the paints and thinners in the studios. It makes me want to create something even though I'm not artistic.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn Has Truly Arrived, Where Are They Going?, It's Yours If You Want It

1. Bracing cold air infused with wood smoke, white frost coats the ground, pumpkins on the doorstep; today I am in love with autumn.
2. At a red light, I pull up next to a little Nissan hatchback piled to the window top with a variety of cheery mums and pumpkins.
3. Someone wants my job! Yahoo! I tell her how to apply and she hurries out the door to seek it out. A suitable replacement will enable me to move on to my new job.  : )

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Raining Down, Clutched in the Wind, What Did They Intend That to Mean?

1. Leaves swirl over the road like whirling Dervishes. The wind sets them free from branch's hold and they shower down, joining the dance.
2. I add a scarf (and later, a shawl) to fight against the chill. They provide a hint of 'cozy' on a day when warmth is elusive.
3. I love studying with this group of ladies on Wednesday evenings. Curled up on sofas, perhaps a cup of hot coffee by our side, we dig into the meaning behind the meaning, desiring to know. Our studies are punctuated with laughter and anecdotes as we explore our way toward understanding.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Seventeenth, A Visit, Celebration

1. Daughter #4 turns seventeen today. Every year of the past seventeen is filled with happy memories.
God knows what we need so much better than we know for ourselves.
2. Daughter #1 and the grandchildren are spending the night in a whirlwind visit. Mari is so excited to be here. What more could a grandmother want?
3. We sing 'Happy Birthday' and enjoy fruit pizza together. The raspberries and summer-sweet strawberries are now a special treat this time of year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A New Song, Dating, Stacked and Ready

Perfect for holding herbed olive oil for dipping crusty bread.

The lemon and orange zest in these packets is moist, not dried. A gem of a gift.
1. Strummed by the wind, dry leaves rustle an October song.
2. Antique shops, farmers markets, Local Roots restaurant, photography shoots, hiking, and movie nights at home; these are the destinations Daughter #4 and her boyfriend choose for dates. She comes home with old books, tin types, photographs, and interesting stories of people they've met.*
3. Steve arrives home with a truckload of firewood that he and John cut over the summer. It's neatly stacked and ready for the dropping temperatures.
3a. B. sent him home with some of her pottery- little bread dipping bowls, and packets of lemon and orange peel brought back from Germany. A gift for no reason : )

* This is not the typical dating scene we commonly hear about. No wild parties, underage drinking, sex or drugs as the movies tend to portray. This is our dating reality and the reality for most families we know. I am not naive as to what goes on, I grew up in the 60's in the thick of it all. However, the media tends to lean towards reporting all that is wrong and twisted in society rather than focus on what is good and noble. I hate being brainwashed that way. 
Speaking of brainwashing: 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cutie, Thoughtful, Prepared

1. Henri sits in the doorway and looks at us with his head cocked to one side. Tess and I look at him down the hallway and laugh at his silly posture. We talk to him and say how cute and funny he looks, but he doesn't understand and keeps staring at us with his head cocked. (Or maybe he does get it and has some thoughts of his own about us.)
2. Steve returned home after being away quite a bit. It was enough to have him return home, but he also brought me a gift.
3. I have restocked my reading stack and received another good recommendation for later. I feel like a squirrel hoarding nuts for a dark winter's evening.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Everyone Stay Calm, Pretty Treats, A New Color (for me)

1. An exhausting day! Everyone kept their sense of humor and we chuckled our way through. Just to give an idea, we had kids standing on tables today. Yes, there was momentary chaos.
2. I tried some new piping techniques on my cupcakes. It made them look fancy with barely any effort. (Thanks Youtube.) Orange, yellow, and black sprinkles made them festive for fall. I love to celebrate the seasons.
3. I thought a hot fudge sundae would be a perfect ending to this harried day, but a new blouse worked better. Ahh yes, shopping therapy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Extremes on the Road, Crossing the Road, A New Path

1. A big, old, beat-up Cadillac drives by as I wait to pull out onto a country road. The only occupant is the driver, a scowling old lady with long, gray hair and a chubby cigar gripped between her lips.
2. The Wooly Bears are on the move. I've never seen this many Wooly Bears! I know the weather prediction tale is just that, one of folklore. But what does it mean when there are so many? The Isabella moths must have been prolific this summer.
3. There are two students waiting in the hall to be disciplined by the principal. I tease and tell them I want to get in line first.
3a. I feel humbled and honored that two different principals want me for their schools. These are small positions and not a big deal, but still... All I can do is shake my head in disbelief that at my age one can embark on something new.
4. Audrey had a couple of hours free and spent it visiting with me : ).
5. Tess dressed like a nerd today. So did everyone at the school. That must have been a sight to see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ready, Making an Appearance, Missed You

1. We came home late from our busy day and sat down to a dinner that simply needed to be reheated. Cooking it during spare time early this morning was worth the payback at 6:30 this evening : )
2. It's been so dark and drizzly the last four days, we didn't even notice the sun was shining. Driving down the road, I racked my brain trying to pinpoint when the sun had finally come out. I asked Tess, "When did the sun come out?" Neither of us could say.
3. On a nice little walk with Henri I reconnect with all the beautiful things along the road side. Bittersweet has lost its shell and is ready for harvest, tiny white asters, colored leaves, and muddy deer trails that break through the underbrush. It's been so long since I took the time to walk outside and I've genuinely missed these friends.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Successful Day, A Successful Life

"To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded. "

 Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Steve is away, attending his 35th high school reunion. My thoughts wander around what defines success.
2. Clouds hung low and gray all day. The rain was a fine mist, just enough to turn one's hair into tendrils. It was a cozy day of housekeeping and housewarming.
2a. A pumpkin here, some berries there, candles and cornucopias: I added a few touches of fall to the rooms.
2b. Audrey asked for my help to bake a pumpkin pie for her boyfriend. We baked two pies together and she decorated them with little pastry leaves. Audrey has a great sense of humor and she made me laugh while we waited for them to bake.
3. Lucky there's a man in the house to kill the wolf spider standing between me and my clothes dryer. Tess' boyfriend smooshes it with his bare hand. She and I are horrified and can't help but scream. He picks it up (again, bare handed!) to throw it away and we flee, running and screaming up the stairs and behind a locked door. Our behavior took him by surprise and he laughed hard at our antics.