Monday, January 25, 2016

Welcome, Hugo!

Welcome to the family little one. How incredibly loved you are.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Blizzard and a Baby

Henri could only wish for a walk in the field today. The snow was too deep and came over his head.
The poor little dog couldn't even get out the back door to do his morning business. The snow sifted off the roof and made a nice pyramid. He had to use the front door, which wasn't much easier.
Steve went around and shoveled us out from the other side. Until the snow melts, Henri's walk will be limited to a narrow path around the yard. The ramp Steve built for my mom is twenty-two inches off the ground at the door. It appears we got about fourteen inches of snowfall with twice that depth in drifts.
Neighbor W. came with his tractor to clear the driveway. His assistance saved Steve many more hours with the snowblower. Grandson Jack would have enjoyed watching the tractor clear snow!
On Friday night, as the snow fell and the winds blew, our second daughter had her first baby. Ironically, no blizzard raged near the Canadian border and the night that welcomed little Hugo in those northern parts was clear and bright. His name means, "bright in mind and spirit". Oh, how we cannot wait to meet him!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Henri's Walk

We begin at the road with a stop at the mailbox. We duck under the fence and walk along the fence line. Even in winter there is shade and shadow.
The entire area under the apple tree has been pawed by deer. Their hoof prints and droppings are everywhere and the ground is very bumpy to walk. They must be searching for buried apples.
The nesting box shows signs of habitation.

An old Tulip Poplar bud casing has blown from somewhere.
Old tree stumps are everywhere along the fence line.

The little graveyard behind the horse shed.
The hole under this one is a bit eerie. Perhaps a groundhog has made a nice home here.
This makes me smile. A squirrel used the wood block as his nut table. It is covered in Black Walnut husks.
The squirrels leave traces of their Black Walnut meal everywhere. I can't resist picking these up and saving them. They're probably covered in squirrel saliva. I wonder if I can get sick. 
Our property used to be cow pasture. Overgrown Locust fence posts still remain. I've been meaning to unbolt these old insulators and bring them inside because the ceramic bases are so pretty.
The neighbor's wood pile.

Returning to the house, smoke rises from the wood stove.
It may be the same circuitous walk over and over again, yet it's always different. Seasons and weather greatly change it up. Sun and clouds, hot or cold, windy or calm, all combine to create a very different walk. It can also be noisy or quiet. Today was on the quiet side, although I did hear a woodpecker, two different bird calls and a chattering squirrel. The weather forecasts snow for the weekend. That will be a beautiful walk, indeed!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Coasting Through January

     January has been a month to get back on track, of sorts. I had some dreaded tasks hanging over me like a bad dream that wouldn't end so I tackled them head-on. The first, most-dreaded task was filing and printing tax stuff for my bookkeeping job. When a task is done but once per year, it's like starting from scratch for the very first time and I have to figure out the computer program all over again. I hate revisiting old stuff and having it greet my like it's new. Now that I've finished it, I have a much lighter attitude. Now I'm ready to move on!

     As my reward, I worked on to a sewing project. I've been motivated to replenish my apron supply and eliminate some of my worn out aprons. Over the years, I've gravitated toward simpler apron designs and I prefer those that are more like smocks. In my search for a pattern, I found the ultimate apron! It's called the Maria Wrap Apron. I completed my first one this weekend using a dark gray linen. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. The hardest part of the whole project was printing and constructing the pattern itself. The pattern is only available to purchase as a downloadable pdf file. You have to print it on copy paper from your printer, then piece it together like a quilt, then cut out the pattern. On the positive side, the download is yours to print, in any size, whenever you have need. On the negative side, copy paper is thick, hard to pin and not very flexible. I would like to find some large sheets of tissue paper and transfer the copy-paper pattern to tissue paper for easier handling and pinning. Now that I've completed my first apron and am familiar with the pattern construction, I'm eager to make another. There's a tutorial to make a reversible version of the apron and I may give that a go.
     Remember those trolls from my last post? Well, a friend phoned me the day after I posted about them and said they are selling on ebay. She encouraged me to have a look. Sure enough, people want them. I listed the lot of them and have two bidders with seven more watching and three days until auction's end. They're currently at $26.25. It's nowhere near a get- rich endeavor, but I'm happy for them to go to someone who really wants them.
     Things continue to be the same with my mom. Too many falls, but no serious injuries since the broken nose and lost tooth, thank goodness. We had one fall at 2:00am, which was rough, but Tess helped save the night for that one. On Saturday I took mom for a scenic drive into the mountains just for something to do. I've become accustom to my emotional cycle of compassion vs. annoyance. The compassion always outweighs the annoyance. I've become pretty good at turning off my annoyance. It serves no purpose. I still carry an undercurrent of depression, which is difficult to ignore. I'm sure this is normal in any caregiver situation. The need to be a compassionate caregiver automatically puts ones emotions at a vulnerable disadvantage. I've never been a patient person and apparently this is where God thinks I need the most work. I'm still learning abut patience. Patience to converse with someone who has a speech impediment, patience to clean an elderly person's bathroom (it's different), patience to listen to conversations about my sister's death, a topic I would rather not visit on a weekly basis, patience to repeat sentences five times over, patience to see my family and friends all doing things and going places and feeling left behind, and so on. I plan to ride it out and grab moments of respite when I can. My favorite escape has turned out to be my little walk with Henri around the circumference of our property. Most days I can't wander too far away and it only takes us fifteen minutes if we stay on the property, but there is so much to see on that little walk! I see little things that make me smile and at the same time the air clears my head. I'll share some photos after my walk today so you can see what I mean.
     Our fourth grandchild and first baby for Chelsea and Simon was due last Saturday and we eagerly await news of his or her arrival. Chelsea lives far away so I won't be able to go and see them or help out but, she introduced me to facetime and it will suffice until they can come visit us. Arrive safely little one! We love you already. : )

Friday, January 8, 2016

Say Cheese!

     My favorite way to celebrate the beginning of a new year is to clean up, clean out, and have a project to look forward to. Once the Christmas tree and decorations are put away and the house is dusted and put back in order, I'm ready to tackle something big. This year I decided it was time to tackle the basement. When we moved my mom here last summer, we added a truckload of her stuff to our already cluttered basement. We have the space to spare for storage, but my problem is that when my home and life are cluttered, then my brain feels cluttered and I begin to feel anxious. It was time to face the mess we created and try to bring some order to it. I knew from experience that I would feel so good when it's all done.
     The photo, however, is an example of the problem I'm dealing with. (By the way, when I photographed these guys, I was cracking up.) I have so much sentimental junk, all of it worthless other than the value of the memories it conjures. These trolls were my playthings in elementary school. They all have specific personalities, as do all toys with faces. Dolls, stuffed animals, figurines; if a toy has a face then to me, it's 'real'. It's impossible for me to look them in the eye and send them off to the landfill or to Goodwill. It provokes a guilty conscience in me that I'm betraying them somehow. I may need psychotherapy more than I need moving boxes, haha!
     I found the driving force I needed from my own words to my mother during the events of this week. The changes in her life over these past seven months have all been about letting go. This week we made the last step of closing on the sale of her home. This final act of letting go is very sad for her and bittersweet for me and my sister. Every childhood memory is contained in that home and it's time to let it go. As my mother cried and we talked, I made the comment that where we are going we can't take it with us, nor will we want it! It sounds cliche, but it's true and it can be the release to letting go of earthly baggage in preparation for a much bigger journey later on.
     The second motivator for me to get rid of these sentimental loads of stuff is the fact that I'm dealing with all the stuff my parents couldn't or wouldn't get rid of. They grew up during the Great Depression and every string and piece of whatever held value. If not value, then it at least had potential to be used for something later on. For example, my father made a birdbath out of the agitator of an old wringer washing machine. He saved everything! Why our baby dolls hung by their necks from his basement rafters until their eyes mildewed green and creeped out my daughters when we visited is beyond me. I can only chalk it up to my dad's sense of humor... and the need to keep everything.  I will not do this to my children. I cannot leave them a headache to clean up. I hope my legacy will be to make their lives simpler, not more complicated when I exit.
     "I can't take it with me." I repeated those words over and over as I bagged up the trolls and all sorts of paraphernalia to haul out of here. We texted our daughters on a few items to be sure it was okay with them that it was going. Daughter #3 replied, "Get rid of it all!!!" (With exactly three exclamation points.) Finally, Steve spent hours last evening with a paper shredder. Between our home filing cabinet and moving his office he had several bagfuls of shredder- jamming paper. We have begun 2016 feeling much lighter of "stuff" this day. I don't think I have much of a guilty conscience either!

All these trolls are from the mid to late 1960's. I think the marketers were tapping the hippie movement here : )

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Not Ready to Let Go Yet

     When I was a child I thought that being grown up meant having things. Now I realize that being grown up is all about letting things go.      

     On letting go, Christmas is not over, people! Unlike my neighborhood where every Christmas light went dark the minute December twenty-fifth was checked off the calendar, my lights are still on. There are twelve days of Christmas to celebrate the nativity of Jesus, which brings us to January fifth. How is it that Christmas is turned off like a light switch?