Sunday, January 31, 2010

tomato genes

The older I get, the more I enjoy delving into my family history and especially looking at old photos. I like to enlarge them and search into the details and find familiar things. For instance, these three photos. At the top: Thanksgiving 1962--my mother's table. Middle: 
Christmas 1951--my grandmother's table. Bottom: Thanksgiving 2009--my table. Do you see a familiar theme throughout? (Unfortunately the top photo is not in color and the juice glasses are empty but I have no doubt that they were filled with tomato juice or "V-8.")

I often start our traditional holiday meals with a glass of tomato juice and knew that my mother did also, but I had no idea my grandmother did until I studied this photo. I also see a centerpiece vase which is in my mother's house now. And I notice that my grandmother's water glasses are undoubtedly Fostoria, very similar to the ones she gave my mother. And lastly, it is interesting, though not evident here, that the Johnsons Bros. "Old Mill" pattern on my table are/were owned by all three generations. They are all now in my cupboards.

All history, but especially of my family, fascinates me. We can learn so much from the past, and as we do, understand more and more about ourselves in the present.

See Little Red House for more Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

At the Foot Doctor's

It had been a long day already when we arrived at the foot doctor's for a small procedure in the late afternoon.  I was rather tired, and just wanted to sit and read my book while I waited for the Gardener. But I was very aware of my surroundings. I had never been to a foot doctor's waiting room before and was amazed at the variety of people that had something going on with their feet. I made particular note of all the feet coming and going.

A 70-something woman wheeled in her husband. He immediately lost himself in his news magazine while she registered at the window. She looked exhausted. I was thinking of her small size and how in the world she managed to care for him. A mother and sister brought in their son/brother, a 40 or so year old man with cerebral palsy. My, they had him in line. Turns out the mother, also in her 70s, had had recent knee surgery. 

But then the most amazing thing occurred. The door opened and it was as if a light filled the room. A beautiful woman in her 50s, well dressed with gorgeous shortly cropped silver hair, sailed into the room. She went right up to the office window and greeted everyone. Obviously she was a regular patient. She asked everyone intentionally about their Thanksgiving plans, and wished them all a happy holiday. I noticed she was wearing a long skirt with nice white sneakers. I looked again and noticed that she had a light limp. And then I looked again and realized she had a brace on one leg for support, and on the other---no leg at all, but an artificial, mechanical leg. 

She finally sat down and engaged the waiting mother-with-the-new-knee in conversation (remember, I had my nose in a book, but obviously wasn't terribly focused on my book.) She again asked all about Thanksgiving plans, down to the details of the menu and who would cook what. What an art she had  in conversation! Then the mother turned the talk around and asked the silver haired lady questions. "I can't help but notice you have only one leg, yet you are so happy. By watching you today, and how beautiful you are inside and out, I realize my problems are small, and how I need to count my blessings."

The silver haired lady replied in such a gracious manner, "Oh, I can handle this, because I am alive! I have had severe diabetes for years and needed a kidney replacement as dialysis did not work. Oh April Fool's Day some years ago I got a call at 2 am saying they had a kidney and a pancreas for me. My body accepted the transplant beautifully and all was well until I got a blood clot in my foot. They had to amputate my leg. But I could so easily have died. Losing a leg is nothing. And it is all the Lord. He got me through it, and HE gives me joy each day."

This silver haired beauty positively glowed. I felt like I was on holy ground. It was an experience I will never forget. At this Thanksgiving, though I may fret over some challenges in life, there is SO much to be thankful for.

Reposted from November 2008. See Chari's blog for more Sunday reposts.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It was so much colder this afternoon when I left work than it was when I went in early this morning. The hospital had a sense that something was about to happen. And indeed, babies were being born one after the other. On the way home the traffic was heavy, and the grocery stores full of people looking at empty shelves.

You could almost taste that snow was on it's way.

And indeed, it arrived, in time for us to enjoy the view before darkness came.

We have flashlights, candles, soup fixin's, firewood, hot chocolate, and nowhere we need to be tomorrow.We're settling in for the storm.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Breakfast (NOT) at Tiffany's

It's close to Valentine's day and I thought it was time for some girl time at my house. The Gardener is out of town and it was just the time to enjoy breakfast with three friends--two of the three are blogging friends.

It was nice just to relax and enjoy a cold sunny day inside a warm, cozy house. It was also time for some pink.

Everything I set the table with had meaning for me. Well, except maybe my 50 cent bird candles and the fake 50 cent pearls. The flowers are in a depression glass sugar bowl. And I love pink carnations, by the way. They last (almost) forever.

The cutlery is from a charity shop in England, and I know it's for fish (knife) but it worked fine to spread our clotted cream and lemon curd, which was served in an old bon-bon dish given to me at my last birthday by Lydia Grace.

Napkins from a garage sale many years ago, owned by someone who was elderly then, so they must be old, but they are pink and that works for me! The old pink tablecloth is my mother's--probably 50 years old.

Teapot is newish, from Youngest when he was in highschool. It's my favorite because he gave it to me, and because of how pretty it is.

Two of the teacups are a story for another time but are the old stamped Tower Spode and very old, and very dear to me because of the story.

I love using my grandmother's depression glass, and my mother's nearly 70 year-old Fostoria crystal glasses. And even the little "salt dishes" at the left side of the plates are old, from my mother in law's things.

Menu: fruit, cranberry scones, muffin quiches, assorted teas, and HEALTHY chocolate inch-size brownies.

Of course the best item on the menu were the friends around the table!

I thought I'd end with "the end." How often on our tablescapes do we show that the meal was actually enjoyed?

Today I'm joining Susan's Tablescape Thursday. Check her out for more beauty!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

first stage miracles

"Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty, but impossibility."
 ~ Lilias Trotter, who lived 1853-1928

Sunday, January 24, 2010

all in pink

See Little Red House for more monday mosaics.

Friday, January 22, 2010

lace for the eyes

The Gardener and I have been to Romania, but not at the same time. But both of us were drawn to the hand work the ladies sold in the market. And we both came home with some. Such wonderful detail work. This large one is one of my very favorite things!

This is a "cheaper" one but I find it lovely as well.

And this little sweet thing was just an extra thrown in by the market lady I bought from, to thank me for my purchases. I hang it on the guest bath wall. They all bring wonderful memories of our time in that country.
Connecting to My Romantic Home "show and tell" today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

saying thanks

I think there's a lot of power in saying thanks. A "thank you" shows courtesy, and acknowledges the gift has been received and appreciated. And even in this day of email, texting, and FB, I still think a hand written thank you is the best! It sort of extends the celebratory life of the giving and receiving of the gift! If that makes sense. And requires a bit of effort, which is also a gift returned, in a way.

So I wanted to write a thank you to the salesman and store where we had our refrigerator experience. At least to let the manager know what a good salesman he had. I know customer satisfaction and thank you's are very important where I work.

I was amazed how much work it took to research where and how to send this letter. It obviously was not a normal thing. In fact, when I eventually arrived (by phone) at the corporate office they couldn't believe I was not talking about a complaint. They just seemed shocked I wanted to write something positive. So I'll be writing my letter today, and I hope it will encourage at least our salesman, if not his boss!

Speaking of our frig, dear friend  Lydia Grace came over the other night with a new magnet for my shiny new refrigerator. I thought the message was right on! Thanks, LG!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

thawing out

Southerners don't tolerate winter for long. (I, as a "notherner," enjoy a good cold spell.) Of course there's nothing they can do about it anyway. But after a couple weeks of frigid temperatures and two days of rain, spring peeked her head into our neighborhood this week. Three days of near 60 degrees and people are out celebrating in shorts. I notice daffodil shoots pushing up through the soil.

Clear blue skies and the warm sun call me out to walk. It's definitely weather to notice and be thankful for. Of course winter will be back, but today is today.

Monday, January 18, 2010

don't forget the chalk

I found this little tray sort of thing at Michael's.

After priming I painted the back and frame in green.

I'm not that artistic but can cetainly work with tiny paint drops to decorate the edges.

Final: paint with chalk board paint.

Mailed it to my sister in her birthday package. Of course I don't forget to add a couple of pieces of chalk. Lulu photographed it once it arrived at her house, along with her birthday flowers! (see above)

I also tried the chalkboard paint on a stray plate. I'd read it needed a porous surface, but so far it's working.

I think my new love of chalkboard paint has something to do with remembering the old chalkboards in school. Anybody else remember the gizmo my teachers used--a metal thing they could put four or five pieces of chalk in at a time, to draw lines on the board? Music teachers would use this, as well as those trying to teach us good penmanship!

Top photo credit: lmm

See Between Naps on the Porch for more "metamorphoses."

Friday, January 15, 2010


We hear the word "happy" often this time of year related to new year greetings. I think a lot about happiness and how we get it. And I think about joy, which I consider more a more deeply rooted emotion, not based on outside things, coming from the depths of my being. Happy, to me, is more temporary and maybe a bit more superficial, but I guess it's all in the semantics.

If my happiness depends on circumstances and things, and even people, it can shatter instantly into a zillion tiny pieces, just like a jar dropped on my ceramic tiled kitchen floor. But if it's based on looking outside of myself, if it's based on caring about and doing something for others, it becomes more deeply rooted and genuine. I may not have it all figured out, but one thing I know, it's all about putting others first. And everyday life in my small world, and in the big world around me (think Haiti), gives an abundance of ways to do that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heart Time

It's not too early to start thinking about Valentine's Day. A perfect time to have a tea party.

Things of interest on table: blue plates from a charity shop; teacups/saucers/creamer purchased in Romania (by the Gardener, a man with a good eye. Brought home in a suitcase, poorly packed, I might add, but all intact!); placemats brought from India by my Asian friend, pink napkins and tablecloth from a yard sale 24 years ago and they were old then. Teapot and sugar bowl from Good Will. Pink depression glass cup (filled with M&Ms) from my grandmother. Antique stoneware white pitcher from, guess where? --an antique shop. This would be a good picture for one of those elementary observation skill games, for I can spot three errors in this tablescape!

Check out Between Naps on the Front Porch if you'd like to see more tablescapes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

waiting game

A good friend of my mother's died. Actually quite a few friends of Mom's are dying ... and cousins, brothers-in-law ... I guess that's what happens when you get old. If you live long enough, it can get pretty lonely. This was a particularly good friend; Mother ate dinner with him and his wife every night at the small retirement center where she lives. G. was a good friend of my dad's as well, and added much culture to their conversation around the dinner table.

We went to his memorial service last weekend. The place was packed out with residents, and G's former students and friends from afar. Old hymns were being played as people gathered, waiting for the service to begin. I suddenly realized that low hums were accompanying the piano, growing louder all the time. I found myself joining in. The old hymns I grew up with -- how could I not hum along as the others were? As one song was being played, a woman next to mom leaned over to say, "This is my favorite song; it will be used at my funeral." I looked at the program, and noticed one song my mother had already requested for her service. She pointed to the one on the opposite page and said, "That would be great too; I love it."

I looked around at all the (mostly) octogenarians, there to honor a friend, looking as fit as they could, but many suffering with some ailment related to age. I wondered just what was in their minds as they laid another friend to rest. "Will I be next?" I'm guessing each one was thinking. I felt like I was in a sort of "waiting room."

"Man knows not his time," someone has said, but how good to have a hope in what lies ahead.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pillow Talk

I like to recover old pillows with whatever I find around the house, or something on the sale shelf at Marshalls, etc. I seem to mostly use old tea towels or cloth napkins.

In this case you can see it was some recycled blue jean material--maybe from some old clothing.

And sometimes I just add a ribbon to "dress  up" a pillow. I am noticing a color theme here!

Thanks, Rhondi, for encouraging us to show off our pillows. So I'll join in with  Rose Colored Glasses and also Mosaic Monday. Thanks, ladies.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

is your frig running?

"Hello, is your refrigerator running?"  "Yes it is."  "Well, you better go catch it!" I can't believe that was a game we used to play as children ... calling random phone numbers and asking them such a question. Of course that was "back in the day," a relatively small town, and people probably tolerated such foolishness with a smile (I hope.) Certainly my frig has not been running well lately, and it's a new one at that.

I think we have a lemon ... at least six service calls, and we bought it less than two years ago. It's been acting up again. And during a particularly challenging week, and not only because I was sick. Monday the food was all frozen, so we emptied the frig to the slightly less frozen porch. Repairman finally came out and fixed it "for now," with a new part ordered, to come in two weeks. The Gardener went shopping for me and replaced some of our spoiled food. Friday night at our small group we talked about how God does not promise a trouble-free life, but He does promise enough grace for each day's troubles. Not more, just enough.

Saturday I woke up thinking about making our blueberry pancakes. Taking a stretch, I turn up the heat a bit and headed towards the kitchen. Opened the frig to be met by a slight gush of sour scent and warm air. Freezer the same. Everything warm. No!

I didn't handle it very well. The gardener sat me down and reminded me about the grace. The repair people I called, as I choked back tears, said this was related to the repair job earlier in the week so did not qualify us for a "lemon" frig replacement.

We headed to the rental place. "What? You need our SS number just for an $80 frig rental?" They don't ask for that when you rent a car! So nix on that; we don't share that number so freely. Ambled into the store where we bought the frig two years ago, checking out the price of mini frigs, contemplating, can we live two weeks without a frig? (I had decided we could). A pleasant salesman came up to us and asked, "How are you folks today?" (Later he told me our faces had said it all before he even asked.) Of course I poured out our whole story and two years of frustration. (You know, it really helps to have a woman along in cases like this.) Then I realized we were speaking to the very man who had sold us the frig, and he remembered us as well (many people remember the Gardener; he's 5' 18" and covers his chin with a beard). "Let me see what I can do," he responded, without any promises, and, I might add, without us asking for anything.

Just think about it: what caused us to not get the rental? ... and to go to that service store and have our salesman available, and he approach us? ...and five minutes after we left, apparently, his manager walked up to him and they worked things out. The phone was ringing as we walked back into our house. Our friendly salesman was going to replace our frig with a new one. We went back an hour later and sealed the deal. New frig to arrive the next day.

To me it was all about God's mercy and grace there for us today. 

Photo above has nothing to do with the story other than to effect a much-needed peaceful, calm feeling.

Friday, January 08, 2010


If they read this blog, they'll know what's coming in the mail! And these  three sisters (you can see them in pencil sketch on the side of this blog) remind me of three other sisters who were little a good while ago. This is a photo of my mother and her three girls. The baby in this photo is grandmother to the three sisters who will get my package.

See Cindy's My Romantic Home for more "show and tells."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gifts for Thanks

I'm always thankful for Rhondi, who reminds us to be thankful. She does a special post about this every Thursday. So today I'm thankful for these gifts:

1. The Gardener recovering, finally, from a painful dose of shingles.
2. A warm house in this very cold weather.
3. Feeling a little better after a flu bug.
4. My friend Susanna recovering so well from her knee replacement
5. My friend Lydia Grace who so graciously went and helped with my mom so I could stay home today.
6. Two unexpected "sick days at home" --- one to sleep, and today, maybe, I'll feel like reading.
7. A pot of hot soup.

And our pausing to give thanks, is a gift in itself to our heavenly Father, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

hey it's cold outside

A solid dose of cold weather -- that's what we're having here, as it seems to be in most parts of the country. I love it, at least for awhile.

Here in the sunny south you may be cool in the morning, but by afternoon you shed your coat or sweater. But this week, in spite of sunny days, you can start out with a turtle neck and sweater, and wear it the whole day (plus a coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.) Brrr! Hot drinks coming right up! It is tempting to stay indoors, wrapped in a blanket.

How odd that our nearly new frig is freezing the food. I think we have a lemon. Meanwhile, the food is on the porch--it's a little less frozen there. I think there is some humor here somewhere, and I may find it--right after I finish listing the spoiled fresh veggies and other foods that they say we'll be reimbursed for.

And, how thankful we are that the Gardener is feeling better!
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