Sunday, November 30, 2014

It Starts Out a Little Sappy, But Oh It's Beautiful! Prepared

1. Our voices unite in a song of prayer. These lyrics break my heart and soul because they are so beautifully true. 
"These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may'st find thy all in me."

2. To stand shoulder to shoulder with one hundred other people in song is such a gift. Some of us can't sing worth a lick, but when it's all swirled together it always sounds beautiful. This is the way I imagine Heaven will be. Billions of voices from all eternity raised in praise to God.
3. A warm-up has arrived. We go around the yard, tossing out the pumpkins, gourds, and dead mums. We put the lawnmower away and generally prepare for winter. I think we're all tucked away now.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Done Deal, You Lookin' At Me?, Evening Out

1. Steve chose the son-in-laws' gifts online and BAM!, Christmas shopping is done.
2. Cows are funny, curious animals. When Henri and I walked to the mailbox, the herd turned and walked toward us en masse. It's hard to believe Henri and I are that interesting.
3. We met up with Steve's co-worker and wife at Blue Five for dinner and live music. Melissa and the Growlers perform Blues, Funk, and Soul.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What's All the Fuss About?, My Choice, Advanced Style

1. Daughter #4 and her friends left the house before sunrise so they could go to the mall to see what Black Friday was all about. They've never been. I told them the word of the day is 'patience'. She texted me a while later and said there was no one there and nothing that made it worth all the fuss. I gladly rest my case.
1a. She was very excited about her one purchase, though.
Prada $300. Some store at the mall $9

2. Now me, on the other hand, I went to Walmart. And only because we had the pressing need to get Advent candles before Sunday. I reasoned that since I was feeling very mellow from all the food I ate the day prior and patience was my virtue today, I could handle Walmart, at high noon on Black Friday, no problem. I'm happy to report that we sailed right in and out of there without even anyone in front of us at the checkout. It was painless. painless as Walmart can be.
3. I watched this movie tonight. It has me thinking a lot. It's more about attitude than style. I told Steve that I think I need to be eccentric as I age. He said I am already eccentric. Ha!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Together, Here and There, Telephone Pictionary, Sharing Thoughts

 1. The snow cover makes it feel more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. That's okay. The bottom line is that it's a holiday and we're gathering round the table.
2. We make and receive phone calls to loved ones who are faraway and cannot be with us.
3. One of our guests brought a bottle of Muscato- one of my favorites! I sip one glass with dinner and another when the day is done and my feet are up.
4. When we were finished dining and settled into comfortable chairs, we played one of our favorite games. It's guaranteed for lots of laughs. Instructions HERE.
5. It's a rare opportunity to sit and have a long length of time to talk with a daughter, one-on-one. I'm so glad the opportunity presented itself tonight. I was shocked to look at the clock and see that it was midnight when we finally went to bed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

People's Kindnesses Saved the Day, Including Husband's

1. We woke to a persistent, heavy snow! To everyone's surprise, school was in session and it was a morning of telephone chaos at the office. Right in the midst of it, our third grade teacher's husband came in with Panera bagels, a large carton of coffee and a box of Krispy Cream donuts. How we thanked him for his generosity! It was appreciated beyond words.
2. The snow and the winter wonderland it gave us was really beautiful. Yes, it was inconvenient, uncomfortable, and too early in the season, but it was so pretty.
3. Steve drove us to work in his four-wheel-drive so, we arrived home together this afternoon. We walked into a freezing cold house and a power outage. Steve set to building a fire in the woodstove and starting up the generator. I'm so thankful he was here.
3a.We dined on S'mores and then popcorn for dinner.
3a. Power was restored at 7:00pm and by 7:30 two pies were in the oven. (The generator can run everything but the oven. We cycle the other utilities on and off as needed such as lights, heat, and water.)
4. Our mailbox was knocked down into the ditch. It happens more frequently than we care for. We were waiting for packages to arrive, so Steve parked his truck at the end of the drive and waited an hour to catch the mailman as he went by.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Simmering, For Me?, Getting Ready

1. I LOVE to create something from practically nothing. Chicken and turkey stock is one of those things. I had two turkey breast carcasses left from Sunday and I used a simple recipe to make a ton of stock. The stock is then poured into one-cup portions and frozen. I used Styrofoam cups because I had plenty on hand. Once frozen, I tear them out of the foam and store them in Ziploc bags for use all winter long.

2. I received two beautiful gifts from out of nowhere today : )
2a. B. left a pottery bowl filled with candies along with my eggs this week. It is the prettiest form with a beautiful profile.
2b. K. dropped by with a gigondo poinsettia in shades of pink. I have the perfect spot for it. The house is beginning to look festive!
3.It's still so mild outside that it's hard to believe we're talking about a possible snowfall for tomorrow. I sweep up the porch and make it winter-ready. The winters and summers seem to muddle themselves together sometimes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Hand, Puzzling, Helping

Flickr photo by Muffet/liz west.
1. I captured a milkweed fairy and brought it inside. It sits under the cloche in company with the peacock feather and bird's nest.
2. Adding pantry items to already full shelves was like solving a puzzle: If I move this there, then I can slide that over... It was also a game of chance: If I stack this on top, will it topple over?
3. A friend emailed to tell me she found boiler and pearl onions somewhere and do I want her to pick some up for me.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tune In, Checking It Twice, Showing Great Restraint

1. I turned the radio dial and hit the NPR station just as "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" was coming on. It's one of my favorite shows with it's clever word plays and witty panelists. It also made one hour of my drive fly right by. You can listen to the episodes HERE!
2. The internet was invented so that I could Christmas shop online. I don't know who invented coupon codes, but they should be commended as well.
3. I was confined in a car for three and a half hours with a box of Godiva chocolates. Alone.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baby Dear, Insomnia, Dancing and Hunting Bears

1. How much love can our hearts hold? It is infinite and overflowing.
2. To give mom and dad a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep, I took baby downstairs with me at 3am. (My nighttime wakefulness has its upside.) I swaddled him close to my chest and we rocked and dozed for three hours.
2a. I rest my lips on the top of his head. I have so much to say to him.
3. I've noticed that Mari doesn't simply walk, she skips and dances along. She'll obediently hold my hand and the joy in her movement flows up my arm.
3a. Mari, Jack and I watch our shadows as we walk along, holding hands. I can't recall the last time I took an interest in my shadow. I hate this "growing old and serious" stuff.
4. We were digging trenches to capture tigers and crouching in caves to escape from bears. Mari took charge of the flashlight as we three huddled in the coat closet when suddenly an animal scratched on the door! For a moment, our game became more real than the children bargained for. It turned out to be Henri-the-Scnoodle wanting to join us in the closet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching Up in Raleigh- Happy Times!

1. We finally have big enough trees on our lawn that dropped a decent amount of leaves this fall. I rattled through them when I trudged up the slope, scattering them with the sweep of my feet.
2. I made the drive to Raleigh under sodden skies. I'm satisfied that November doesn't disappoint and presents itself under no disguise. It's bleak, damp, and deeply rusted.
3. With weeks and sometimes months between visits with the grandchildren, it allows time for me to see how much they've grown and changed. The first thing I noticed on this trip is that they didn't run from me like they used to when I entered their front door. That has to be good, right? : )
3a. Books are simply the best tool to bring adult and child together. It's common ground, a shared experience. It's my favorite activity and I'm glad it's theirs, too.
4. Sending Claire and Daniel off to the hospital at 5:00am with hugs and kisses. Very soon they will be three and their family will be five.
5. Oh, he is a dear! Matthew entered the world loved and treasured, as every child should be. We were able to visit him within hours. Words fail me when I hold a newborn miracle. "Oh my goodness!" is about all I can manage.
6. I was struck by Mari's tenderness and love toward her baby brother. She held him close and enveloped him with love, kissing his head and tenderly rubbing her cheek on his baby hair. She had her eyes closed in bliss. I do believe she is in love.
6a. Mari, who is four, was wishing for a baby sister to share her room. When we got home she said, "It's okay if he's a boy. He can still share my room with me."
7. Mari and Jack were highly entertained by our dolls singing and acting out, "The Wheels on the Bus". The dolls also performed the "Hokie Pokie" at which point Mari threw her doll down and danced it herself. Two-year-old Jack decided he was able, and we ended our day in song and dance.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bambi's Dad, My Love, Dreamland

1. I eased onto the brakes and slowed the car in time for a buck to cross the road. His leap over a barbed wire fence with front legs tucked under a thick chest and his head held high under mighty antlers was majestic. Time slowed for a moment and then he bounded across the road. I thought, "Oh I hope no one shoots this one. This one needs to live."
* With all the gunshots ringing in the woods these days, I'm afraid to even walk the roads. I don't mind hunters. I'm just afraid of those who are careless. I think of the bullet hole in our roof...
2. Tess and I had another fun college visit today with a personal tour of the music department. The recital hall houses a beautiful, Steinway grand piano and when Tess began to play I got goosebumps. The sound was so rich and varied, more beautiful than any other piano I've ever heard. We went on to meet another faculty member downstairs and he called the piano seductive. He was right. We went back upstairs and Tess played it again. We were easily falling in love with a hunk of wood and metal.
2a. One of the practice rooms had a worn baby grand piano that was decades old. Some of the ivory was missing from a key or two and long ago someone painted it white. The music rack had pencil writing on it. It was a little poem to the effect of, "please love me". It was a dear, old piano.
3. Not bothering to fight the sleep that weighted my eyelids heavier and heavier; I gave in and drifted off at the embarrassing, elderly hour of 8:30.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Tumbles Out, How I See It, To Benefit W.A.R.

1. We have no idea where #4 might go to college; it's a quest at this point in time. However, she did think it was a lot of fun to open this letter and have confetti tumble out.
2. It's a perfectly flat, gray, November day. No wind, no shape to the clouds, just flat and cold. It's the epitome of November. Sometimes things are supposed to be cold and flat and gray. That's what normal is.
3. A friend held her annual W.A.R. party this evening and, as always, the items for sale were beautiful. The dining room table overflowed with jewelry, scarves, purses and other handmade items from around the world. As I handled each piece, I imagined the woman who crafted it and the small  connection we have from halfway around the world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wrapping Paper, Lunch from Walmart, Kept in a Jar

1. Who would think purchasing Christmas wrap could take an entire afternoon?! I went to Walmart, Target, and Tuesday Morning. While the selection vs. price was appalling, I did have fun poking around all the stores, especially Tuesday Morning. The gift wrap results of these three stores is as follows:

a.Walmart has the largest selection of the three and the lowest prices.
b. Target has a line of pretty, coordinating papers, but they're $5.00 per (thin) roll. The less expensive paper on the opposite side of the aisle was not attractive to me.
c. Tuesday Morning has almost no paper, but the little they have is very pretty. Prices are still moderately high considering square footage on the roll.

Paper-choosing neurosis aside, I purchased five rolls at Tuesday Morning and none of it matches. I'm proud of myself for breaking the need to have coordinated wrapping paper. Breaking free of this habit makes me feel like I just won something.
2. Lunch was a bag of peanut M&M's and they were delicious.
3.The peach preserves I put up last August taste just like summer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

By Hand, Much Better, Burning

1. B. sent over a loaf of bread that she baked. It's so pretty I hate to cut into it but, at the same time, I can't wait to eat it!
2. Yesterday was one of those irritating days when everything was out of sorts and nothing went right. I told myself that it was just one of 'those' days and it would pass. The silver lining in this is that I am aged enough to know it's true!
3. I walked without a jacket this afternoon and the sun really heated up the back of my neck. The weather person said cold air is barreling down from the north so I tried to soak up all the sunshine I could today.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bravery, A Favorite Dinner, Birthday Month

1. A young father maneuvers two shopping carts up and down the aisles of Walmart. He's pushing one cart with a baby in a car seat in it and pulling the other cart, which he carefully loads with groceries. He is the picture of calm and happiness. I smile and nod to him and he explains that his wife works third shift at the hospital. I tell him I think he is a brave and a wonderful husband and father.
2. This recipe for Chicken and Gnocchi has become one of our all-time favorites. It's a satisfying, comforting dinner for a cold and blustery evening like tonight.
3. How could I forget to mention that Jack turned two this week! I talked to him on the phone and Claire said he listened intently. Then, Mari got on and chatted quite a bit with me. Her birthday is also this month as will be their new baby brother or sister who arrives in two weeks!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Good Deals, We Were Not Alone, The End, Ready for Baking Season

1. I stopped at Heritage Family Market to get another loaf of Italian Cheese bread. (I thought it would be great for grilled cheese sandwiches.) I saw bay leaves, which I needed, and coriander, and corn meal. My hands were getting full so I broke down and got a shopping cart and added a bunch more stuff. Obviously I wasn't just stopping in for a loaf of bread any more. This store is too fun and their prices are incredibly low.
2. The wind didn't trouble Henri and me too much because the road followed a low spot through the woods. But, it blustered and rattled the dry leaves in the upper tree branches. It made such a racket that it sounded like we were accompanied by a thousand tempests who wouldn't leave us alone to walk in peace and quiet.
3.We shared the very last, vine-ripened tomato from the garden.
4. Those spices I bought in #1 caused me to clean out and rearrange my spice and baking drawers. That was fun!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Love is Not Hearts and Bows, A Little Shopping, Pop's

1. I saw this video over at Sayable where Brene Brown talks about love and forgiveness; real-life topics which both fascinate and overwhelm me.


2. I purchased my first Christmas gifts today. I discovered that two of our daughters desire the same gift and neither is aware of it. How fun is that?!
3. We headed over to Pop's in Grandin. It was a nice day to be out with another day of mild weather.
I ordered an afternoon cup of coffee hoping it would get me over the slump later this evening with the time change. (It did!) They serve the most amazing gluten-free cakes at Pop's. We shared a huge wedge of coconut creme cake.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bounty, By the Road, Bread and Butter

1. This must be a good year for pears. Down a back road, we walked past two pear trees that had dropped their heavy crop to the ground. We filled our pockets with unspoiled pears and munched on another while we continued our walk.
2. That walk gave me more energy than a nap. It was filled with beautiful things to see as well. Bittersweet tumbling over fences and hedgerows, rose hips also climbing a fence post, and leaves in reds and golds still clinging to the trees.
3. Oh my goodness, the bread from Heritage Family Market is so good! Chelsea brought us a loaf of Italian Cheese Bread and we ate it with our soup. As I slathered a second slice with butter, Steve gave me a look. I said, "What? I walked three miles today." And he said, "Yes, but you spread ten miles worth of butter on there."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Gray Month, Applying It to Life, A Warm and Safe Place

1. Snow flurries dart and scatter under the light at the front door. Whose inner child doesn't leap at the sight of first snow!
2. I'm drawn to the beauty of the hills and mountains that fill the view from the church windows. This is one place where it is okay to gaze out the windows and ponder things, seemingly daydreaming, yet hearing every word.
"And this mountain that is in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea."

3. A walk after dinner is now a walk in the dark. Up on the hill, I turn back and see the smoke rising from our chimney and I smell the wood fire burning. I watch the smoke rise and curl in the wind.