Wednesday, December 21, 2016


 Back-to-back guests for dinner this past weekend 
brought a festive warmth to our house.
Old friends. We spoke of the blessing of friendship over many years.
 It was easy to use the same table setting. 
Dishes out of the dishwasher and back on the table.
The second night was a more casual meal but required 
64 items on the table not including serving things,
or dessert dishes and coffee cups.
 A very fun cookie decorating and ornament painting party took place
another day.  My DIL is a brave one to host 16 2nd grade girls
with a few young siblings tossed in the mix and
more toppings than at least I could have imagined.
The annual school Christmas concert. 
I loved their costumes.
 The grandees enjoy special Christmas things at Grandma's house.
And how I love having them come over.
Things will be less busy the rest of the week and we enjoy quiet nights at home.
The anticipation we feel in the culmination of all these 
festivities, lights, food, music …
is the coming of the Christ child, the Savior.
That's what we celebrate in our family.

Monday, December 19, 2016

this is your life

 We celebrated the Gardener's birthday soon after Thanksgiving.
Anticipating our small family gathered around the table I came up with what I
think is one of my better ideas for a sort of game to play while we ate.

As a child, I learned a lot about my parents' lives through stories they told 
around our dinner table. I thought maybe it was time for our grandchildren 
to learn more about their grandpa's interesting life.
I formulated questions about his life and wrote them on small pieces of paper,
folded them up and put them in a bowl.
For the little non-readers, I printed small photos
for them to ask Grandpa about and put a smiley face on the outside
so they would know which ones to pick.
During dinner we passed the bowl of questions around, 
and enjoyed listening to the answers.
One question was about ice skates. In college the Gardener was
skating with a girl (not me) and showed off by jumping over a pile of brush.
The crack as his ankle broke echoed over the ice and he ended up in 
the hospital for four days and missed the rest of basketball season.
Littlest one, now 3 1/2, insightfully commented,
"I guess it's not so good to show off."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

a tale of two stables

When the boys were teeny and we were preparing to move to Africa,
I bought a stable-less, plastic nativity set to take along with us. Even though
cheap, the details were lovely, and we have continued to use it
now more than 30 years. We've added a wooden donkey and camel.
Over the years I've made stables out of bits of wood but none of them survived,
or they were cast off in moves.

The gardener keeps a running list in the "back of his mind" of things he may
like to purchase if he ever saw them and the "price was right." 
Likewise I've had "stable" in the back of my mind because the grands, 
who love to play with it, always ask why there is no stable.
Eventually I found a basket that would work, but it was awkward at best.
I dropped off things at a local thrift shop the other day. It's very 
popular, tucked into a little house, and on this day it was crowded. One almost has to 
wait in line to move to a different section. I was drawn to a set of blue
willow dishes, but of course didn't need them. As I was about to turn away, my eyes
rested on the shelf above and there it was. The perfect size-to-scale stable.
Mary and Joseph were missing but there were two kings, 
a shepherd and two animals, and they do look "vintage."
The vintage? 1930s. Perfect.
For, my grandchildren love to say, "Everything is old in your house, Grandma."
Mary and Joseph seem a bit more comfortable here.

With my five photos. I'm joining Amy's Five on Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2016

a Christmas week

 There are times weeks are so jammed full I can barely remember all that took place.
I'm always thankful when I've remembered to take a photo or two.
This week: an early Christmas with family visiting, a birthday celebration,
a visit to a beloved old friend who read me some of her poetry,
recovering from minor plastic surgery on my face (!! yes, rid of more of those atypical cells),
a birthday celebration of the life of a babe taken to heaven,
time with grandchildren, and ending the week 
with an amazing concert by Kristyn and Keith Getty. 
If you like Irish music, look them up! 
It's been wonderfully cold and rainy. 
About the best winter-like weather we get in this part of the country.

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron,
water like a stone …
(Christian Rossetti)

Joining with Mosiac Monday.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Friday, December 02, 2016

Five nuggets from an old photo

I have a nifty iphone scanner that works quickly and adequately. I've been scanning 
our mom's photo albums from the years we were growing up. 
Even though many were taken with her Brownie camera, the quality isn't too bad. 
Some are a bit blurry, but the memories are as clear as looking 
through a freshly polished windshield.

One advantage to putting old photos on a computer is the ability to zoom in. 
This was my brother's 4th birthday. Oh the things I see that 
pour memories back into my heart and mind:

1. It's after dinner, and the Bible is at my dad's place. He always read Scripture to us after dinner.

2. The brown radio…our only media in the house. (My parents chose not to have a TV when we were growing up; we read instead I guess.)  The radio came to a chair by our beds when we were home from school sick so we could listen to "Beulah" or "One Man's Family" stories on the radio (precursor to soap operas I suppose). But every night, at 5:45 we were quiet while our parents listened to Lowell Thomas and his 15 minute news broadcast. I don't know if it was before we ate, during, or after.

3. The corner of the kitchen counter where the radio sits … twirling before school (KG) in my new red corduroy jumper, I slammed into that corner and punched a triangle into my eyebrow, just missing my eye.  

4. My grandmother, mother, and I all have shelves to the right of our kitchen sinks. But what on earth does my mother have on her shelf? It looks like a bunch of bottles. I can't imagine what they are. 

5. Lastly, a sink full of pots, pans and dishes. My mother taught me to CAYG--"Clean As You Go" when cooking dinner. But I'm guessing back then, with four kids, a dog and a husband to deal with, her kitchen probably wasn't as tidy as I remember it being as she got older.
                                                                The following year's birthday.

As always a bonus after the five: the Angel Soft clean-x box is in a lot of the photos, as is Buffie, our collie dog. Mom's  Kitchen Aid with that ugly plastic cover on it, made of the same stuff as brother's bib, and her wedgewood-looking blue and white cookie container on top of it. Did we have cookies around all the time? No, but this is two days after Christmas so most likely it's full of sweet things.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

mystery vase

Wandering through small towns as we love to do,
small and large shops antique or junque shops draw us in.
We stop at a corner shop; it looks large, but old, old.
No pretty cracked plates or pitchers in the windows.
We walk the dusty aisles, floor boards creaking under our feet.
Lots of old equipment it looks to me through the dim light … maybe a farmer
would know it. Of course we make our way through it all to the back.
You just never know what you might find.
Something catches my eye in a dark corner table loaded with stuff.
No price of course. I offer 50 cents. Probably generous.
And I have used it over and over.
I call it my character vase. 
Squatty and a bit wide. Perfect.
I used it with a TJ's amazing 3.99 bouquet at our Thanksgiving 
table (with some of our own late garden gerber blooms added).
Can you guess what it is?

Joining with Mosaic Monday.

Monday, November 21, 2016

mixing seasons

I wish I had been in reach of my camera at our last book club.
These few taken after it was over will have to give you a glimpse into enchantment.
Our hostess outdid herself in setting a table that was a wonder to gaze upon.
I soaked in every detail. The book, Finding Jupiter, had a winter theme,
and Christmas too, so she combined that with autumn in a subtle, brilliant way.
There were many little things on the table that were significant to the 
story--some we got right away and others she explained to us.

What I appreciated was how she expressed how much she loved preparing the table.
(We all brought the food--such as scones, sweet bread, muffins, cheese, etc.)
I love going to casual get togethers at friends' homes, but I also
like feeling honored when someone prepares in a very special way.
 And our hostess did just that on a beautiful, late fall morning.
Sun streamed in the windows, reflecting the warm colors of autumn
leaves, and danced on the glittered objects on the table.
All while we drank tea and discussed our book.
We all left feeling like "we'd been somewhere."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

a rare hodgepodge wednesday

1. Share one of your happy thoughts here: Looking forward to the holidays after a long hot summer and election season. Family coming, friend gatherings, and quiet moments at home … all 
are things to be happy about.

2. There's a Chinese proverb that says, "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap, if you want happiness for a day, go fishing." What say you? It doesn't take much to make me happy: a walk in the woods … a ride over back roads … a bike ride … playing with my grands!
3. Where do you go to decompress from the world around you? 
Water does it--lake or ocean, or the mountains.  Even home--with a cup of tea and a good book.

4. What song never fails to make you happy? It's hard to choose. Music is soothing and 
often brings joy, but what popped into my head immediately 
was the 2013 Ph*rrell Williams "Happy." 
It's a real "perker upper."

5. Today is National Fast Food Day.What's the last fast food you consumed? If you were putting together your own version of happy meal what would it include? Fast food has it's place, 
I suppose and possibly our most recent may have been a Chick-fil-a piece of chicken 
on a recent road trip. My own happy meal would include an apple, cheese, nuts, olives, 
a piece of very dark chocolate and a bottle of water.
6. In a few sentences tell us why you blog: I started blogging to give me an outlet for 
writing and expressing some thoughts after my father died 11 years ago. 
I love both photography and writing so it was a good combination for both. 
What I didn't realize initially how I'd come to appreciate the community 
that you find with other bloggers. 
7. List seven things you're especially grateful for today: 
Each and every day I'm thankful for my relationship with God and His daily grace; 
my gentle, very tall husband; the heritage of my family,
 the internet to keep in close touch with friends and family; 
my loving boys; grandchildren; and our freedom.

8. Your own random thought: 
Relief has come with cooler weather finally arriving. 
Some rain would be wonderful, but meanwhile the early
darkness settling in calls for candles and coziness. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

getting under my skin

 A few of my nursing school friends were getting married right after college graduation,
as was I. Apparently we wanted a tan for our weddings.
So during lunchtime we'd run up to the roof of our Manhattan 12-floor dorm,
slather on baby oil and "lay out" for 45 minutes. Ouch!
As I grew up there was at least once or twice a year
when we would be "down the shore," as we called it, or
in my midwestern days, at Michigan sand dunes,
always without sunscreen. We didn't know better back then.
Now I'm reaping the results of a few bad burns.

When my father got skin cancer I realized I needed to be cautious and
wear sun screen. I could already see sunspots appearing on my
skin, which is so much like his. An uncle of mine died of a misdiagnosed
melanoma. Others I knew either survived or died from melanomas.
I began to fear melanoma.
(I now spend most of my time in the shade.)

Then my mother got an ocular melanoma (thankfully she did well). 
I began going to the dermatologist for a full body check once a year.
The Gardener, who has olive skin, had some basal cell cancer spots removed.
A year ago I had my annual skin check. I have lots of spots and 
most of them are OK. My doctor was just finishing when she said,"What's this?"
pointing to the tiniest freckle near my knee. 
"Oh that's only a freckle," I replied.
She insisted on taking a slice of it. Before long I received the phone call.
Not quite what the dreaded phone call, but close enough.
I went back for surgery. Thankfully the margins were clear.
Six months later I went for another check to be sure it still looked good.

I share this in case you might be someone who
 should think about going for a skin check.
A tiny freckle that I would have passed over as nothing
is what really "woke me up."

Saturday, November 05, 2016

time out

A little time out from a relentless political season
 to look back at simpler times.
I'm thinking our moms were clever to give us this bedspread shade
for a picnic in our sunny yard. Remember those
sticks that raised clotheslines high? 
Here we are with our Alaskan cousins 
who we only saw once every four years.

If this was a clearer photo I'd zoom in and see what my mom
fixed us for lunch. I do see bowls, so my guess is soup,
even in the summer. My mom was a soup queen, year round.
Lastly, some color. It's in full bloom now as seen on
our neighboring street on the right.
Photo on the left was taken by our son
 on the Blue Ridge Parkway a few weeks ago.

Friday, October 28, 2016

one doll, five views

My mother's doll … or was it her mother's?
We can't seem to remember now, but it's a doll that Mom always
had perched on the mantle in our childhood home.
 Eventually my older sister, the one who sews so well,
made a whole new outfit of clothes for the doll who has no name...
…at least that we can remember.
The new garb includes under garments trimmed with lace.
Beautiful details, fine hand work,
and a fresh pink ribbon.
All beautifully dressed up, now residing on the piano 
at my younger sister's house.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Elements for a Girls' Teaparty

 1. Fancy teacups.
 2. Curled pinkies.
 3. An abundance of sugar cubes--even better with silver tongs.
 4. Sweets--homemade not necessary.
 5. Special guest Peter Rabbit who prefers a green snack.
When I arrived at my sister's house, where her four
granddaughters were visiting,
 I saw little signs scattered here and there about a tea party.
Hint. Hint. 
And so we had a grand one.
Joining in Amy's Five on Friday and
Bernideen's Tea Time
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