Friday, December 23, 2016

Welcome Christmas Come This Way, Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day!

The sheep is a new gift this year. The slab of barn wood, a gift from a few years ago. I like how old and new combine to create something totally new. This is how our Christmas feels this year.
We added some glitter to the candle box on the windowsill over the kitchen sink.
Audrey and I gathered pine cones and the little tree on one of our walks. The county had just come along the day before and hacked and sawed all the overgrowth from the roadside. Evergreen boughs were left on the ground for the taking.
Some years the lights are white and some years they are colored, but the ornaments always remain the same- with the addition of one or two new ones found in antique shops or estate sales during the year. : )

The wee folk took up residence in the cedar garland this year.

Audrey helped : )
     I am not sure how I feel about the Christmas celebrations this year. I should rephrase that. I know how I feel about Christmas. I love to celebrate the birth of our Savior in every true and real sense of its meaning. Steve has always said that we celebrate this every day and it's true. December 25th happens to be that day the world celebrates it (on steroids) and it's wonderful. But, here in my own little world, as in many people's little worlds, loved ones are gone and perhaps others can't be together for logistical reasons. Missing and longing can make Christmas time feel hollow and empty and leave our hearts aching. And yet, we celebrate. This fact alone gives me great courage. Whether there are  two or ten around our Christmas table, we will celebrate. Christ came to earth to save all mankind. This small seed of knowledge is enough to kindle a fire that burns bright through the ages, bright enough to still give us great hope over two thousand years later. No matter what circumstances shake our own individual lives, God became man and walked among us. Rejoice!

Isaiah 9:6
  "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Past

     The founder of the Wooly Sheep Farm Rug Hooking Group invited us all to her home for our annual Christmas party. Being the newest member, this was my first visit to Hazel's house. Her home embodies all that she loves in the way of Primitive antiques. Even the home's design and construction, which is modern, evokes the Primitive style. Most of the modern conveniences such as appliances and electronics are hidden behind cupboards. Upon our arrival, her husband had a warm fire crackling in the fireplace. Fresh evergreen sprigs and berries filled baskets and adorned mantels, vintage Christmas cards glittered on shelves, and pewter and salt glazed ware lined every hutch and pantry. It was a treat for this history and antique lover to be entertained for the day in such an environment. It was a fun party with excellent food and fun. Being rug hookers, we enjoyed a crazy gift exchange where everyone brought a fat quarter of wool. Most of the women tucked extra little gifts in with their wool gift bundles and there was a lot of stealing of gifts involved. All I can say is, there were no losers in that game because all the wool was beautiful.
     Hazel was happy for us to enjoy her collections and photograph to our hearts' content. I took a few photos of my favorite tableaux.  Enjoy!

Serving hutch in the kitchen

Desserts in the pantry

Poinsettias add a splash of bright color in the living room

An antique hooked rugs hangs behind a child's toy horse in a hallway.
Salt glazed pottery in the pantry
A sweet little hooked rug mat of a Christmas tree

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Around the Place Lately

     All of a sudden, autumn has turned into winter. The shortened daylight hours and temperatures in the thirties and below make it hard to mistake winter's arrival.  By late afternoon I go around the house and turn on various lamps and twinkle lights to make it feel cozy inside. But, it's hard to ignore the dark and cold on the other side of the window.
     The fallen tree from last summer is now all cut up and stacked in the shed. The shed structure used to be the run-in shed for Audrey's horses, but they are long gone and this year we've begun to call it the woodshed. It will henceforth be called, "The Woodshed". Steve likes to go out there with his axes and chop wood. It fuels the wood stove in our basement, which in turn warms our wood floors and gives us a place to roast marshmallow peeps. That fallen tree has given us a great gift in all of this. I would have preferred it remain standing, but it gave us a fantastic bonfire and now it is burning clean and hot for our wood stove.

          I finally gave myself permission to get started on my next rug project. My rule to self was that I must to finish getting ready for Christmas before I could begin a rug. Now that the house is  decorated, the shopping complete, and the two grandsons' stockings sewn, I can begin my rug! I'm experimenting with hand dyed wool for the first time. I will also use regular, mill dyed wool and I have a foraged piece of wool garment from a thrift store that is the perfect color for some leaves. So far, it looks great. Steve took my picture when I was transferring my pattern onto the primitive linen backing. My thought at that precise moment was about how good the linen smelled. It smells like hay, nice and earthy. I love working with it. Every week I get together with two ladies who are teaching me the craft. I enjoy the hours that we sit together. They have so many stories of life to tell and so much gentle wisdom to impart through those stories, and this all while our hands are busy creating. 

You can imagine the excitement at school as we lead up to the holidays. Children come to school wearing Santa hats and reindeer ears. Many children have come carrying boxes to their classrooms in which to capture gingerbread men, and someone sprinkled chocolates on my desk when they walked by. One little girl was late to school because that mischievous Elf-on-the-Shelf made a mess with sticky bows at her house. The Roanoke Children's choir came to perform for our school, three tour bus loads of them! It was a beautiful sound, indeed. Personally, I prefer a gentler, quiet Christmas time, but I still rejoice in seeing others' festivities, especially the children's.
     Speaking of children, our granddaughter made my day when she mailed this little note to me. She has drawn pictures and written little notes to me before, but this one seemed especially grown up now that she is six years old. I smile every time I see this note with the two little blue pompoms taped to the card for an extra measure of happiness.

Monday, December 5, 2016

At the Tree Farm

L: " Umm, I don't know, Steve. I think it's really too big."
S: "Trust me. It will work. It's a great tree."
L: "How tall is it? Look at it next to me. It's huge."
S: "We'll just use the top part."
L: "It will be shaped all wrong. No no no. Maybe I should walk home and get the tape measure. You want me to walk home and get the tape measure?"
S: "C'mon. Let's just get it. "(He raises the saw)
L: "No! Just let me check the front field one more time to see if there's a better one up there. OK? Let's go look. If anyone takes this tree in the meantime, it's fine."

There was a "normal" tree in the other field. Thank goodness.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

     When Steve was in college he started making paper airplanes. The spare room in our apartment was his study and he spent many late nights at work there with his books. The only thing that I can recall adorning the walls of that room was a string tacked across the wall with dozens of homemade paper airplanes clipped to it. He created planes that glided for yards and yards, planes that spun in flight, and planes that looped-d-looped. He weighted planes with paperclips or pieces of whatever to give them the right stability. For sport, he hung balloons from the door jambs and taped straight pins to the noses of his planes so we could fly them into the balloons and pop them. We flew them out of our second story apartment window to see how far they would go and we searched for wide open spaces without breezes to test flight certain models.I treasure the memory of how something as simple as paper and tape could occupy our penniless evenings during those college years.
      Steve's paper airplanes were a far cry from the typical, triangular paper airplanes I learned to fold as a child. I am clueless when it comes to engineering things. But, Steve designs his planes with function and form and he never tires of drawing new designs. Part of the fun is trying them out to see which ones fly better. He has amassed quite a fleet of planes and they are all now drawn on the computer. When it's time to play, he just prints them off.
     I must admit that I wasn't the enthusiastic audience Steve deserved for his paper airplanes. They were fun, but I lost interest quickly and I didn't appreciate them from an engineering standpoint. Years later, when our girls came along, Steve had a new audience for his planes. They embraced the paper airplane concept without question and quickly discovered that coloring them was also a lot of fun. A second generation of paper airplane flyers was now born. My involvement in those years was picking up all the scatterings of paper airplanes from the floor... over and over and over again. To me they were like litter strewn about after a parade. I would pile them in a corner or collect them into paper bags. Once in a while I would rebelliously throw some away without asking. Those that I found far under the sofa, covered in dust were my least favorite. But, usually I saved them for a while in case one of the children came looking for that one, very special plane they had colored.
     Steve likes to amuse children with the planes, but not every child shows interest in them. If he sees a fidgety little boy in church, he will slip him a paper airplane folded from the church bulletin. If their eyes light up, he might hand them a plane folded from home for the next few Sundays so they can play with it after church. Now that our grandchildren are old enough, the archive of Steve's paper airplane designs has re-emerged to entertain a new generation. Our four-year-old grandson, Jack, has shown a keen interest. He likes to stand on a chair and throw the plane hard to see how far it will go. Jack is only four years old but, he has a long attention span for the planes. His sister, Mari, has once again popularized the art of coloring the planes. During the children's last visit, they spent long stretches of time coloring, folding and flying paper airplanes with Pop. Our kitchen table looks like it did two and three decades ago, strewn with paper airplanes, scissors and tape. Steve is smiling. I'm smiling, too. I'm also back in my role of bending to pick up the dozens of paper airplanes strewn about the house like that same old litter after a parade. I just finished collecting a paper bag full and tucked them aside in a corner of the kitchen. They're all brightly colored and cheery, waiting for the parade to return.

Matthew is only two and doesn't quite care about the planes yet. Right now his sole interest is trains. He played with this one toy for the entire weekend.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

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

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