Friday, December 31, 2010

farewell 2010

Some random favorite photos from 2010. As always, a picture helps me to remember
... and there have been many good times to remember from this past year, all with a heart of gratitude.
 Best wishes in the new year.

Connecting to Dear Little Red House. Check it out for more mosaics!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Every afternoon around four o'clock there's a rustle at the door and the sound of a key turning the lock. The door swings open. The Staff has arrived. It's the highlight of the day.

Yawn, the rest of the day is pretty boring ... lounging on the couch, staring out the window, an occasional romp or attempt at mischief.

But this time of day is best. If it's the Tall One, there's usually some lingering to play a bit. If it's the Mother, there is some sweet talk but not a lot of petting, and she seems a bit preoccupied. Fresh water, clean litter, more food. Then watching while they make quick dash in the Closed Door Room to water a plant. A chance to run in there and hide in hopes of extending the visit a bit.

Before you know it, it's lights out, alarm on, key in the door, and away They go. Quiet house again.


I'm not a "cat person" but we are taking care of our neighbors cats for an extended period of time. I feel sorry for them alone all day. Occasionally they leave us an overt message of displeasure, but for the most part it's going well and I'm adjusting. I'm even finding them a little cute. Like when I check the house for their mischief and they run from room to room with me like little children showing off their good behavior. I noticed that they waited until the day after Christmas to start undecorating the tree. Could they know?

But I sure I understand why some say that "Dogs have masters and cats have Staff."

not my photo

Sunday, December 26, 2010

christmas card

We had a white Christmas. Well sort of. It started snowing after dark, so officially we had snow on Christmas. But when I woke early this morning, Boxing Day, the world was white with new fallen snow. As I drove to work with big flakes bouncing on the windshield. I was astounded by the beauty. Many homes, particularly the larger ones towards downtown, had their Christmas lights on, reflecting softly on the snow. Since I don't remember a snow like this at Christmas, I realized that for the first time our fair southern city looked like a Christmas card. I'm so glad I had that beautiful drive this morning! With the dropping temperatures tonight, we may have the snow around for at least part of another day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

to stand or to sit

We were planning 13 around our table last week ... 13 was a squeeze so I 
decided I'd be what I call a "Swedish mom" (not sure where I got that from)
 and would not sit at the table but serve everyone. 
I'd would just pull up a chair to the side to join in coffee and dessert.

Sometimes I actually prefer that; it seems easier.

But at the last minute one person canceled, so I found myself sitting at the table. 
We were pleased to so easily fit 12 around the table, and enjoyed using
 the beautiful "pearl-like" poinsettia tablecloth my SIL gave us.

It was cozy,  to say the least. 

Merry Christmas!

Connecting to Between Naps on the Porch for other tablescapes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ready and waiting

My mother gave me these punch cups with her punch bowl long ago. I never dreamed how often I'd use them--especially the cups, as I did for hot cider the other night. They are very old, but sturdy and just keep going. As I looked at them lined up on a festive tray, I just had to get my camera. I'm such a "visual" person!

Linking up to Mary's Little Red House for Monday's Mosaics!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

about the Manger

From my sister's Christmas letter: "Each Christmas as we struggle to preserve a sense of worship and gratitude amidst all the busyness which accompany this time of year, it seems as though there is some point [when] God breaks through and moves me with a song or verse, or maybe a word from a friend, and I am blessed. This year it was the last line of one of the songs in our choir cantata, sung as a solo by a sweet and clear soprano voice: 'The manger held it all.' So simple and so profound.

"Everything we need in this life and the next was held in that Bethlehem manger 2000 years ago. Our hopes, desires, dreams, and above all our need for forgiveness and fellowship with God, are all gathered up and met in Christ Jesus. One of [our] father's favorite Christmas carols, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' says, 'The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.'"

This is the second time I've reposted these thoughts from three years ago. Please see Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday reposts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

letters from afar

One thing I enjoy so much this time of year is sitting down with a
hot cup of tea and visiting with old friends!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

altered soup

Brrr ... it is cold outside.  A friend said today that 15 degrees is a lot colder to a southerner than to a northerner because our old bones we aren't used to such cold, nor do we have the "equipment." For instance, today I wore a fleece jacket which is usually adequate for our winters. So we layer underneath. But realistically, how many layers one person wear? We have to be able to move our arms, etc.!

Seems like all I want is to do is slurp hot soup or sip hot tea or coffee. I made what has become one of my favorite soups the other day. Here's my altered recipe. Each time I make it a little differently, of course ... and it's a healthy soup for sure.

Salmon/Sweet Potato Soup
1 large chopped onion sauteed in
3 Tb butter; add:
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken broth
2 C milk
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 pound skinless salmon fillets (or chicken pieces) OR canned salmon, which I use
1 small broccoli stalk cut into small pieces (I used fresh spinach instead)
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

I sauted the onion, adding the sweet potato after a short bit. And then I put it all together.

Stay warm!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

around the house

It's finally looking a bit like Christmas around here.

Can you hear the music playing?

See Mary's Little Red House for more Mosaics!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

my big white bowl

My mother recently gave this big "pasta bowl" to me. 
 It's a family heirloom for sure.
The company that made it began in 1835 (Petrus Regout). Sure enough there is the oval "P. Regout" stamp on the back of the bowl. My great-great grandmother, Klazina, packed it up and brought it from Holland in 1888, when she traveled here with her girls after her husband died of smallpox. 
I wonder what all Klazina used it for, and why she chose to bring this particular bowl. 
Certainly there would be plenty to buy in the "new world."
 (But they were not wealthy, apparently the family lost all their money in a huge fire.)
I've already filled it with fruit, and now with some Christmas balls. I'm sure I'll find all kinds of things to do with my bowl--all very carefully of course! And here's something to ponder: Did my great-great grandmother ever think it would last through four generations, and that a female descendent 
would do such a thing as    b  -  l -   o  -  g     about it? Hardly!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

do you hear what I hear?

It's amazing how here in the (currently frigid) sunny south, the slightest hint of a snowflake or a touch of sleet can cause the "it feels like Christmas" spirit to swoop down onto all things. A cold, chill-to-the-bone drenching rain added even more to that feeling as we went into the city the other night for Christmas at the symphony.

The crush of cars and people (a big football game was taking place) and the Christmas and city lights shining even brighter in the rain, caused us to think for the briefest of moments that we might be in the "big apple." Sharing the evening with friends added to the festive time.

We climbed up to the "nosebleed" section where we had an excellent ariel view of the jazz pianist's hands on the keys, working his craft. This evening has been a traditional birthday gift to the Gardener over the years, but last year he missed most of December homebound with the agony of shingles. So this year, it was doubly sweet to snuggle close to him as we shared the delight of the sounds of Christmas. I never take his company for granted; his sitting beside me is something to thank God for every day.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

again, messy deeds

The other day I lingered in bed after the phone call came telling me I could stay home from work. The luxury of sleeping in tempted me briefly, but is easier said than done when my mind begins to work. I wiggled my toes and stretched as I thought of the luxury of unplanned free time. The gift of a day. Maybe I would just spend the whole day reading. Or making a few Christmas cookies. Definitely time for myself.

Then I remembered an elderly friend who had been rushed to the hospital the night before. I should check on her and maybe I should take my mom along with me to visit her. There was someone else I needed to visit in another hospital too. And find a plant to take to her. And then there was another older lady who I needed to help with a change to a new drug plan. Suddenly my day seemed to be planned for me as I hopped out of bed to start it. I decided, OK, this would be a day of "giving to others." I pictured myself serenely gliding through the day, bestowing acts of kindness on others like the sprinkling of fairy dust.

Well it certainly did not turn out that way. I did do what I needed and wanted to do, but it was a big case of one thing can lead to another. Throw in the mix holiday traffic, not finding the right plant at the store where I thought it would be, and dealing with some extremely inept insurance people on the phone for an hour reducing me to tears. The day deteriorated rapidly.

I came home with a splitting headache many hours later (long after I would have arrived home from work). I had a talk with myself on the way. What led me to believe that acts of kindness come wrapped in ease? Did I think I was owed a "smooth sailing" just because I was helping others? Nowhere does God say our doing good for others will be pain free. If anyone knows about that, He does.

One of my prized possessions is a little soup bucket. The story, as I understand it, is that my great grandmother used it to take soup to sick people. I have a mental picture of a tiny Dutch woman in her heavy brown cape, walking down a city street carrying a little pot of soup and probably a basket of bread too. My soup bucket reminds me to think of others. My guess is that she didn't have an easy time with her good deeds either. 

Originally written December 2007. I still find helping others is messy, don't we all?
See Chari's Happy to Design for other Sunday favorites.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

no elves in a row here

Our house doesn't look like Christmas yet, except for the tree up, thanks to our kids helping at Thanksgiving. I am trying to take life as it comes and not wish to have all my Christmas "elves in a row" like they have been in other years. These days I'm consumed with moving my mother to her new home in assisted living and then cleaning out her apartment. Every step I take holds memories dear, and even some new things to discover about my parents. It's not just moving ... it's much more, and something that cannot be done overnight.

And a poignant moment: as we were literally moving some of mom's furniture to her new room, just down the hall, in a room quiet except for soft music coming from a small cd player, a friend's mother left this earth. I was so glad I could leave my task and go down to be with her for a bit.

And for some reason, comfort came from a photo e-mailed this morning from a friend in England. I've stayed in her house and know this scene out her window ... somehow it brings a smile to think of her snowed in--snuggled down with her hot tea and blankets.
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