Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!


To all of you-who read my blog-let me say “Thank You.”  I appreciate every single one of you! 

With  love, and many wishes for a wonderful 2011,


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lost and Found


Poor Mary.  Joseph is missing.  One minute he was there- on the windowsill- next to the radiator, with the rest of my miniature Nativity set.  And the next, he was gone-leaving behind a scene of scattered sheep, a fallen shepherd, and a lonely wife.  The main suspect?  I think the dog did it.  What puzzles me though, is that Kona is a herding dog.  I’d have thought she would have gone for the sheep…

Yesterday, I started to put the house back in order.  Our visiting family members had all gone back home, and the tree was starting to lose needles at an alarming rate.  I got out my canister vacuum to see if Joseph was hiding under the radiator.  My canister vacuum is old and doesn’t have the greatest suction-and Joseph is also bigger than the end of the attachment I planned to use-so I figured if Joseph was under the radiator I could rescue him.  Out came several wads of dust, two marbles, and a small soccer ball-but no Joseph.  And then out came an envelope-the kind you find in the middle of a catalog along with the order form-from the Montgomery Ward company, with an address simply reading:

Montgomery Ward
Portland 10, Ore.

envelope front            envelope back

The post office implemented postal zones-like the “10” on the envelope- for larger cities in 1943, but didn’t  devise the zip code as we know it until 1963.   This envelope was very old and had probably been under the radiator  for a  long time.

It is little discoveries like this that make living in an old house so exciting. (On previous occasions, we’ve found a gold wedding ring and a coin from 1869.)  Though the envelope is not a valuable or earth shattering discovery, it is still a connection to the people who lived in this house long before we ever did.  I can picture a teen-aged girl, not unlike my own Amy, flipping through the newly arrived Montgomery Ward catalog, pouring over the latest styles, and having the  envelope fall out  and slip under the radiator…

Maybe, in 50 years or so, someone  will come along with a more powerful vacuum.  They might  also be searching for a missing object under the radiator-and perhaps they will find Joseph. They too-in their future time, will marvel over this connection to us, now in the past.

In the meantime though, it looks like Mary is on her own.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost Here!


These are special days-filled with an unusual flurry of excitement, activity- and anticipation.  These are the days before the THE DAYS.

This coming week,  flour and scissors will be flying as we do our   Christmas baking and Christmas present wrapping, and this old house of ours will be bursting at the seams as we welcome a visit from some of  the people I hold most dear to me-my parents, my sister and her husband, and my Adorable  (with a capital A)  nephew Wil.    Our old house will be alive with the kind of merry making  that big old houses were made for.

I know that when everyone arrives and this Christmas 2010 celebration has begun, the time will fly faster than Santa’s elusive reindeer.  And that when the last sugar cookie is gone, and the house is empty again, the post holiday depression will come crashing down.

So just for now, on this quiet Sunday morning, I am content to sit on the sofa, sip my coffee (and enjoy a handful of holiday M&M’s too!)  while I bask in the anticipation of what is to come. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Discouraged, in a Season of Hope

christmas birds
I couldn’t help but notice her-an elderly woman, perhaps in her 80’s, shoulders hunched, a cart full of groceries-and a bewildered look on her face.   She was a couple places ahead of us in line, and I could clearly see that she was having trouble.   Standing at one of the four  self checkout registers, she just couldn’t figure  out what to do.  The line of people moved around her-everyone wanting to get out of the store and go home.  I saw her ask first one clerk for help, only to get brushed off because the clerk was in the middle of doing something else.  She then asked another clerk for help, only to be told, “I’m sorry, but my shift just ended.”  Finally, I went up to her and offered to help, but she declined.  I could see by now she was extremely embarrassed, but more than that, she was worried about being a bother to someone.  “Are you sure?”  I asked.  “Yes, thank you.”  And so we made our purchases, and left.  I was trying hard not to cry.

I don’t think I need to go into the emotions I was feeling.  I bet you can guess, because I bet you would have felt as I did.    Angry, appalled, bewildered myself...  That why,  in this season of goodwill, somehow this poor woman didn’t count?

While I’ll never have a second chance to help this woman out when she needed help (I should have tried harder) I was thinking about the little things I can do to feel hopeful when I get discouraged.  Here is my list.

1.  Hug my daughter.  She is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

2.  Pet my dogs.  Without even trying to, they make my day with their antics!

3.  Say a prayer for someone-anyone.  It doesn’t even have to be someone I know.

4.  Get the name of a needy child, and buy them a Christmas present.  The fact that it’s anonymous makes it even better.

5.  Reach out and touch someone on the arm when I am talking to them.  I think people need that human connection.

6.  Bake something.  It’s like a hug from a grandmother!  And baking with the help of a child is even better.  My daughter and I have spent many happy hours together in the kitchen.  Next week, my almost 3 year old nephew will be here and Amy and I plan to bake something with him.

7.  When the living room is still dark, I like to plug in the Christmas tree and revel in the quiet beauty of the colored lights.

8. Watch an old Christmas movie.  One of my favorites is “It Happened on 5th Avenue.”

9.  Say “Thank You” to my husband.  For all the things he does that go unnoticed, because I’m too busy grousing about socks on the floor, or dirty dishes in the sink.

10.  Look for the good.  It’s so easy for me to notice the bad around me-I think we live in a culture that feeds off of it, but there is plenty of good to be found.

What would you add to the list?  Please tell me-I’d love to know!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dashing Through the Snow


We got our tree yesterday.  It’s a fun part of our Christmas preparations each year, and we like to go into the mountains and choose one straight from Mother Nature’s own back yard.

Last year it was way too cold in the mountains, and so we bought our tree from a local garden center in town.  Even at half price-it was  expensive. Still, it was a beauty-tall, full, and perfectly shaped.

Setting out with our $5 permit, we had just a couple hours to find our tree before a big storm was due to hit. It’s gorgeous up in the mountains, but it’s not a place to be when the snow falls so hard you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  There was another reason to make this trip a short one.  The snow already on the ground was so deep that it was rough going, and we quickly got tired.

mecutting the tree

We wisely left Willow home this trip-she’s  nearing  15, and she would have been helpless in all that snow. It’s a sad reality.  Willow has gone along every other time in the last 10 years, but she’s not the dog she used to be.  We did bring Kona.  At 7 months she has more than enough energy for everyone, and she was in her element in all that snow.  She didn’t  stop to rest until she was loaded back in the car for the trip home-and then she faded into sleep like a melted snow flake.

KonaAmy and Kona

We found our tree pretty fast.  Even when there isn’t a storm bearing down on us, or snow so deep it’s up to our knees, and we can afford to take a lot longer to find our tree-it isn’t really about the tree.  We are enjoying the hunt-the mystery of what lies around the next bend—or down a path begging to be taken. When measured against the gold standard of what makes a perfect Christmas tree, the ones that we find are certainly far from it-trees in nature seldom are as perfect as commercially grown Christmas trees.  But somehow,  every year-at least in our eyes-we end up with the most beautiful tree, ever.

Willow 2

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First Love

First love.  They say you never forget it.  For his sake, I hope he has.

Robin.  With his wavy blond hair and thick black glasses.  He sat in the desk behind me.  I guess there was something about my brown pixie cut and blue cat eyed frames that made his heart go pitter patter.

He would pass me notes-several a day.  They always said the same thing.  “Do you love me?  Yes or No.  Please check one of the boxes.”  And every day I would stick them in my notebook and pretend I hadn’t gotten them.

Maybe it was persistence on his part, or maybe it was curiosity on mine, but whatever it was, one day I boldly checked the box next to “Yes” and passed the note back.   I could tell Robin was elated.  At recess, he shyly held my hand.  And a few days later, he  presented me with a couple of presents.  A “Hot Wheels” car, and a gold heart on a chain.  With a pearl in the center, even.  Poor Robin.  If he had only just given me the car.  I wasn’t so sure about this love business.

Robin had a friend.  Brian.  Brian sat next to me.  He had dark brown hair, freckles, and 20/20 vision as far as I could tell.  He started passing me notes-making his bid to “steal me away.”  His notes were direct.  To the point.  “Kiss here.”  A wet spot on the paper, circled in pencil.

I guess I kind of liked that caveman approach.  I lost my heart to Brian.  Poor Robin was as forgotten as that necklace he’d given me.  Even with the pearl in the center.

Third graders can be so cruel.

Based on the Red Dress Club prompt "First Love."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor

Arizona memorial
Five years ago my family and I took our first trip to Hawaii.  It had been my desire, since learning more about my Uncle Pete, to visit his grave in the Punchbowl Cemetery on the island of Oahu.
As we walked along the rows of grave stones, looking for the one belonging to my Uncle, we passed many, many markers like this one.


Some of these stones even  marked  the spot of several “unknowns.”

As we later visited the USS Arizona Memorial, and saw the columns of names of the men lost that day, I couldn't help thinking that some of those names matched some of those “unknowns” we ‘d seen at Punchbowl.

For their sake, and the sake of their loved ones-who never had an actual place to say their goodbyes-I’ll remember Pearl Harbor.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Handmade Love

rag doll
I should be straightening up my studio, but I couldn’t resist writing this post based on a feature I saw on the  Etsy blog today, asking people-“If your house was burning, what would you save?” (Everyone-including pets, are safely outside.)

I would save a rag doll.  My daughter made it for me-and this is reason enough, but there is more to it than that.

It was during Thanksgiving, several years ago.  In the midst of out of town company, friends visiting,  and trying to get organized and prepare Thanksgiving dinner-I hit overload-and I got really sick.  I felt like I had a sudden case of the flu, and all I could do was crawl into bed,  feeling useless and miserable.

Amy came upstairs to see how I was doing, and then she disappeared for awhile.  When she returned a few hours later, she placed beside me  the most precious doll I had ever seen—complete with patchy braided yarn hair that stuck straight up in places, crooked features sewn on with a great deal of thread,  and wearing a dress from a discarded baby doll.  And on Amy’s face I could read a mixture of expressions.   Anguish- over seeing me sick, and expectancy- waiting for my reaction to this gift—and apology too.  “It’s not very good,” she lamented.  “Oh Amy,” I  whispered.  “She’s beautiful!  You made this for me?”  She nodded.  The doll was to help make me feel better and keep me company.

I love my daughter, but there are times when the emotion is so raw and overwhelming that I want to cry out-almost like I am in pain.  It’s hard to explain-but I bet every parent out there has felt this way.  It’s like you love your child so much-that it scares you.  Because you realize at moments like these,  that without this child, you would not be able to exist.   This was one of those moments.

This rag doll of mine always makes me smile, and sometimes when I look at it, my eyes get a little misty.   When I picture Amy sewing this doll-the hours she spent on it, and the great care she used in making it…all because she  loved me…forget the diamond rings,  or photo albums, or whatever.   My rag doll is  priceless.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Birthday To My Sweet Girl!


It’s hard to believe, but my sweet heart of a daughter  is 15 today!  It’s a bittersweet time for me-she is growing up so fast, but at the same time it’s exciting to see the beautiful person she is becoming.

Today, and every day, she is the apple of my eye, the center of my universe, my heart, my soul, my life.

huge cakebirthday party
Happy Birthday honey!    mom and kids group party

(P.S.  Amy wanted me to mention that she is wearing her Halloween costume in this photo-it's not her usual style of dress LOL!)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Three Cheers!!!

A big thank you to Cheryl over at Mommypants for letting me know it wasn't possible to leave comments on my blog.  After doing some detective work, I realized that I  had a glitch with the html code on my new blog template, and my comment widget was not working properly.  (Oh the things you have to know to blog these days!)    My husband has fixed it and so everything is now in perfect working order.
Thanks to everyone who has read my posts lately-you are wonderful!