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. : )