Wednesday, December 20, 2017

'tis the season

I've tried to be less busy this month, preferring quiet moments.
And I haven't done any Christmas shopping in a store this year. Maybe
I should do a mall visit just for fun--but probably not.
We've enjoyed having friends in, going to a couple of parties, and most recently,
a tea party for our oldest granddaughter and some of her friends.
It was fun (at least for me.) They did consume the sweets!
Then there was the school Christmas concert. Now we have two to watch.
And a visit to school to help grandson with the blankets they were
preparing for "babies or old people." Both cutting the
fuzzy fabric and tying knots was a challenge for KG.
Thus the required adult participation,
Every grandchild has played with this creche 
more than anything else when at Grandma's during Christmas.
Just as their dad and uncle did. The Story never grows old.
The jury is still out on this pencil tree, giving our new knee and repaired back
 a break from bringing our big tree out of the "crawl in" attic space.
I'm missing some of the ornaments that didn't fit.
The grands are just happy it's not their tree!

My sister once wrote, "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 the baby born that night."
May your joy be full and complete as you celebrate His birth.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

simple fare

Just plain cooking--laced with a little ambience--and so we invited good friends to 
join us at the kitchen table for "supper." Perfect for a cold winter night.
I made spaghetti--a favorite of ours. And a salad. 
Our friends brought some of their holiday treats for dessert. 
Coffee--and then an old movie, based on an Irish Italian restaurant. 
You probably know it. One time when we were talking, the movie had came up and
we discovered they'd never seen it. Since we have the movie (on VHS) 
we planned the evening, and we chose the menu to go with the movie.
With a pleasant fire going in the fireplace, we cranked up the old VCR, 
passed around blankets and we were set.
An easy and fun evening.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Invitation to Tea

Rhondi and I first met when we started 
to recognize photos on each other's blogs and realized we lived 
just a few miles apart. Soon Rhondi was coming to 
our book club and has added so much.
She is upbeat and just fun to be around and finds beauty everywhere.
 So when she invited some of us to tea there was no
doubt we were in for a treat. Her house is beautiful and full of character and comfort.
So much is thrifted or created simply with her own hands.
 Just walking around her house is great fun and inspiring!
The beautiful table included cucumber sandwiches, 
her mother's shortbread cookies,
and so much more, including great conversation.
Good memories of a pleasant winter afternoon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

the thirteenth plate

We were planning on 14 for dinner, but then one husband needed to sing in the Messiah. 
So we were down to thirteen. The Gardener surprised me with 12 Christmas plates 
a few years ago, and how I have enjoyed them each Christmas. 
We liked the pattern so much we gathered from here and 
there enough everyday castle dishes to use the rest of the year.  
So a thirteenth, I thought a castle plate would barely be noticed.
This group of friends gets together almost every Christmas season, and it's usually at our house. 
I was thinking 13 would be quite a squeeze for us, and since our kids were going
away for the weekend, they kindly agreed to let us use their house for the party.
It has more room in the dining room, and well, everywhere.
I was determined to bring everything that we needed from our house.
That was extra folding chairs, tablecloth, dishes, glasses, napkins, cutlery,
table decorations, my apron, etc. It was like catering for a party.
I went over in the morning to set the table. It was fun getting ready in their pretty house. 
Everyone brought part of the meal. It was delicious. 
It was festive. It was fun.
And we laughed a lot.
After we all went through the buffet line and settled down to eat,
I suggested they each look inside their place card to see a question to answer.
If they did not like the question, they could trade with one other person without
knowing their question. I'll list the questions we came up with at the end. 
They created a good deal of laughter and discussion.
The only damper to a lovely evening was discovering this 
when we arrived to get the final details in order. 
Our kids, sadly, lost favorite ornaments. Glass scattered far and wide.
One couple came early to heat their food
and helped us clean it up and stabilize the tree again.
The lights kept working, so it still looked pretty.

What 5 things would you grab to take with you in an evacuation?
What are you especially thankful for this year?
What new thing have you learned this past year?
If you had to live in a cubicle, what things would you want around you?
What does comfort mean to you?
Describe one of the most memorable persons you've known.
If you had the chance to do one thing over again in life, what would it be?
If money were no object, what would be your ideal vacation?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's That Time Again

It's our turn to have Thanksgiving dinner on Friday.
We alternate with our DIL's family.
Our kids seem to love two Thanksgiving dinners in a row.

On Saturday the pumpkins and autumn colors will go away
and Christmas will show up at our house.
This year we got a pre-lit pencil tree and are leaving our
big tree tucked away in the attic for next year when hopefully
my knee will be totally healed and we'll have more energy!
"Not so little one" wrinkled up her nose when she saw the very thin tree and said it looked
like it belonged to a great-grandmother in a nursing home.
She has one of those, so knows just what she's talking about!
But simplifying is my goal this year and the smaller tree will help
Do you consider making things simpler as Christmas approaches?
I've had some time to think this year as our December calendar starts to fill in.
All such good things.
But does that mean we should try to do them all? 
As I get older I find I'm yearning for more time to read and think and just be.
I enjoy the Christmas season so much, but should I fill the calendar
so there is little time for reflection?

In the book Radical Hospitality, the author says,
"We do not even know how to imagine our lives without all the bustle."
I don't know if I'll slow down this Christmas––
But I hope so. 
I long for quiet and stillness.
Time for slow conversation with good friends.
Time to savor thoughts of the Christ Child.
And to worship and adore.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Littlest and Puppy

It's so hard to keep the grandchildren from growing up.
It's actually impossible.
Therefore I'm savoring time with them this school year.
I volunteer in the original "Little One's" (now 9) classroom one morning a week.
I can't express the delight it is for me to sit at a table and listen to the kids
read their chapter books aloud.  Every so often we have to stop and chat.
They often have twinkles in their eyes as they mention something 
they learned from their grandparents about the "old days."
I pick up the next youngest from KG two days a week and bring him back
to my house for a couple of hours. It saves his mom carpool time.
These are precious times, at least for grandma.
As far as Littlest, now in preschool, we enjoy special arranged times.
The other day, on the way from school to my house, she was missing her "puppy"
and had the idea of making a house for him.
Little did she know Grandma had the perfect box,
just an hour before placed in the recycle.
She described just how we would make it--and we did!
The buttons her tiny hands used to sort were now used for decorations.
The green decorative arches doubled as handles in case it becomes a "puppy carrier."

Back at home it was a perfect fit for Puppy.
I even heard Puppy, in the "Carrier," went along for trick or treating!

Monday, October 23, 2017

a bird among pumpkins

I placed a little bird among pumpkins for our recent book club gathering.
 The only other nod I could give to the book was some French pastries.
Attendance was nearly 100% for this riveting book, and because
of the busyness of hosting, I forgot to take photos.
We read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It's hard to describe how good the book
is. The writing is exquisite. In case you don't know about the book, two sisters, separated
by age, circumstances, ideals and passions, live their lives 
in war-torn, German-occupied France. 
The novel celebrates the strength of women and the resilient human spirit 

Our discussion was rich as our leader particularly emphasized the characters.
The Gardener and I listened to the book on cd as we drove many miles on a recent road trip.
The reader read with great expression and skill so we got to know the characters
even through her voice. It took many hours (but made the miles fly!) Normally I wouldn't
have time to listen to a book like that, but it was amazing to experience the story this way.
And we enjoyed listening together, stopping the cd occasionally to discuss.

I tried to get a little fancy with something I saw on P*nterest.
Apparently donut holes are not as popular as I thought, but
the grands sure loved having the left-overs.
It was fun to do! 
Now to find the next book.

"In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are."
Kristin Hannah

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

eggs and a little more

Farm fresh eggs as local as from the backyard where we were visiting.
Such gorgeous shades of "egg" and, yes,  delicious.
Friends … I think.
No matter how short the country visit, refreshment comes in large doses.
It's hard to believe my father would be 100 this week.
He loved to read and could pick up any book and enjoy it for a few minutes.
Of course he also read whole books.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


"I hope you evacuees can come to church with us tomorrow," I said to my great niece.
"What's an evacuee?"
And so we learned a new word, one they will never forget.
After a little storm prep ourselves, for a storm that didn't amount 
to much after all, we got a text saying our nephew, wife, 
four girls, MIL and pet rabbit were coming up to our house to seek shelter.
We were happy to have them here.

But it was a bit stressful texting back and forth with my sister as they
packed up important stuff, wrapped photo albums in plastic, 
boarded up their house and left to shelter at their nearby church, 
not knowing what they'd find when they returned. 
We prayed much.

Nephew was anxious to get back to check on their house, farm and horse, so
left when the worst was over. As soon as we had washed their sheets and towels,
our niece and her family arrived. They had left before the storm hit, but because of road
conditions had to overnight on the way up. The decision to leave had been
very difficult and you could see the exhaustion and strain on their faces,
as they too chose what to take and what to leave, 
and then drove through driving rain and wind.
We're thankful everyone was safe, minimal damage was done 
to their homes and the power is coming back on.
It was a bonus family time for us and the cousins.
We have much to thank God for, 
while there are others hurting to pray for.

...Therefore (we) have hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

house dressing

I notice our former neighbor is back in the cul de sac visiting so I run out to say hello. 
As we chat I keep sweeping my hair out of my eyes and realize I haven't combed it yet today. 
And I look down and see I have my "yard pants" on, 
which also double as painting pants, and an old faded top. 
But never mind, the neighbors are used to seeing me dressed to work in the yard.
I love days when I can stay home all day in comfortable
old clothes and not wear make up.

 But then of course, someone usually comes to the door.  
     My grandmother in her housedress

My mind rambles to "house wear" and remembering 
what my grandmothers wore at home--what we called "house dresses." 
They were sturdy and basic. I remember my grandmother changing
 to go to town, but I never saw either of them in anything
anything but a dress, usually topped with an apron. 
My grandmother as a young mother   

   My mom (and dad) on their honeymoon

I don't remember what my mom wore around the house; 
she was usually at home except for Wednesdays 
when she had the family car to run errands and drive us to piano lessons. 
I assume she wore a dress or a skirt.
 I found the top photo of her in a skirt at a Memorial Day picnic.

In her later years, my mother wore slacks around the house, but before that? 
I skimmed through her photo album and realized how few photos there are 
of her unless it's a formal family photo 
because ... like me ... she was the family photographer.

I remember friends' moms' house dresses. Very plain, usually gray or beige
with a small print. Maybe they just were faded. Set in sleeves,
buttons up the front, maybe a collar. 
What we called back then "serviceable."

What do you wear around the house? 
And do you remember what your mom wore if she stayed home?
A favorite picture of my mom and aunts in my grandmother's kitchen.

Incidentally, I don't remember even thinking about such things 
until we moved to the south. When we first arrived I remember 
being amazed to see southern women "dressing" to go to the grocery store. 
But in more recent years with the influx of many northerners,  
clothes have definitely gotten a lot more casual here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

by ear

Got some good soup at the market recently and then realized I had gotten the no salt version. It needed help. I added this and that and by the time I had it tasting as I'd like, there were like 10 items on the counter--various cheeses, spices, etc. I love making up recipes or fixing up established ones. After 45 years of cooking I've come to know what additions will make it tasty for us.

It reminds me of playing an instrument "by ear." My father used to tease us with an image of a head lying on the piano keys with the ear doing the playing. My father was my first piano teacher. He played beautifully as did most of his siblings. In those early days he would tell me piano stories. The black keys were the rooms and little people would fly up and down the keys from room to room.

When I got a teacher that we paid, I had to perform in recitals which I didn't like very much. I studied with her into junior high school. Then one spring came the recital in a downtown Chicago building overlooking Buckingham fountain. I gazed out the window at the fountain so much as I played that I made a little mistake. It was enough to humiliate me and I decided it was the end of piano lessons for me.

But what made it easier to give up lessons was that I  could play things without reading the music. I just needed to hear it or see the words and I could play it. I see in my mind what key to start on, and the less I think it through, the better I do. The downside is that I began to get lazy about reading music and now I find that challenging for me. But I do love being able to play so many things I would not have music for. It's relaxing and I enjoy it when I have time.

Apparently "playing by ear" runs in the family. My father could play that way and I have a cousin who never took a piano lesson but plays beautifully. It's a strange thing. Maybe playing by ear is on the same gene as cooking by taste. At least I began this by talking about a pot of soup. What I need to do is read labels more carefully rather than relying on a familiar picture or color on the label.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Intentional Summer

 We rushed summer a bit this year. Made more definite plans than we usually do,
wanting to enjoy some things before the end of July when life would change for us.
It's easy to take little road trips where we live--to the mountains, to Charleston, to the beach,
and a favorite dinner picnic spot--by a fountain up in our beautiful city. So we did, enjoying
times with family and friends, and with just the two of us.
There was lots of "nesting" going on at home--some projects, 
some big cleaning, checking off "to do" lists.…
All in readiness for another knee replacement.
Now I'm recovering at home and it has gone very well.
I keep busy––walking, exercising and napping. Slowly building up my new
 knee and looking forward to being free from nagging pain.
And, always grateful.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

chapel by the sea

Alongside "Old Baldy"--the longest standing lighthouse in North Carolina--
sits this ever-so-charming chapel. We saw it first as daylight faded.

Actually it's along Bald Head Creek, but ever so close to the ocean as well.
The Gardener and I were so taken by it that we went over the next morning, 
and sure enough we could go inside to have a look around. 
It is as beautiful inside as it is outside.

Visits from different siblings bookended a week at the beach 
with our son's family, so it's been a busy time lately.
Bald Head Island has a different feel to it than most beaches I've experienced.
Having to take the ferry over made us think twice about what we took with us.
It's a quiet place with lots of shade and old trees and no motorized 
vehicles--just the hum of golf carts which are so fun to drive.
But--don't forget to plug them in for a recharge! 

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