Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Day Dawning

This above all; to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any men.

This is my new mantra, catch-phrase, philosophy -- one I have always subscribed to but seem to have forgotten in the recent past.  However, it will be in the forefront of my days from now on.

So, as we forge ahead into this new year -- yes, I realize it isn't New Year's Eve yet -- my only resolution will be to be true to myself.  If I do this, then all things will fall into place as they should.

Even though this year has not been a bad year in most respects, it wasn't the best either.  Our unexpected retirement had made me do a lot of thinking, mostly about time.  From childhood until now my time has been spent doing the things that need to be done during that time -- school, raising children, taking care of parents --all those stages of life and now I feel my time should be my own to be spent as I see fit. 

The first thing I intend to do is quit spending time worrying about being "old".  In the great scheme of things I am not that old -- not young but..well, you get my point.  My body might be aging but my soul is young and vibrant and interested in things and I am compiling a list of new things that I want to try and see.

The second thing that I intend to do is get back to some of the activities that I have always enjoyed but put on the back burner for a while.  I love old movies and I am going to make a list of those that I would like to view again and have "vintage movie night" once a week. I just love black and white movies and the first on my queue is "Bunny Lake Is Missing" -- a 1960 something psychological thriller.

Reading is, of course, one of my main interests now and always has been.  I have joined two new reading challenges for the new year.  The two books I am reading now will, of course, count among those completed early in the year. I didn't do so well on my 2011 challenge but, in fairness to me, I did start later in the year.  I love to read and, unfortunately, it was neglected to a large degree for many years and now I plan to indulge my desire and need to pick up the pace again.

My genealogical quest will be ramped up as will creating scrapbooks of the many boxes of photos we have.  I don't like "scrapbooking" as we know it today so mine are going to be more "vintage" -- black paper, photo corners and  photo descriptions written in white ink.  Even though I am definitely a 60's kind of gal, I really love all the trapping of the 40's -- just love it.

My family is the most important thing to me.  I will spend time with them, as much as I can, and be a benefit to them as much as I can.  However, in looking back at A's and my "middle years" much of our time together was separated by his job, sometimes for months on end.  It was a difficult time and now we need to take the time to try to recapture some of that time for ourselves, whether it is on short road trips, gardening, cooking, or sitting here staring mindlessly at football -- it doesn't matter -- we just need time.

The main thing that I will not be spending ANY time on is trying to be somebody other than who I am just to please other people.  I have served myself well for all these years and I think I like myself well enough to continue on.  That is not to say that I don't make mistakes -- I do -- or that I can't learn something -- I can but I will no longer worry about what other people think of me and I will not change one thing about myself to meet somebody elses expectations.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lovely Christmas Things

I will admit, I have a weak spot for Christmas ornaments.  I still put baubles on the tree that my children made in school.  I love the look as opposed to the sophisticated trees in department stores.  I love getting ornaments from the children and display them proudly.  Here are photos of the ones I received this year.

From Beanie

from Kathryn
from Nathan

The one from Beanie is a collage of Christmas themed scrapbook paper framing a piece of original art a la Bean! It was laminated to insure that it lasts for a long, long time.

The lovely stars from Nathan and Kathryn were crafted from a recipe of glue, water and cinnamon, similar to salt dough but probably not as rough on little hands.  They are dated and initialed and smell gorgeous.

Over the years, JLSHall has been giving me Lenox ornaments and I have a nice little collection.  I love them, I love the feel of them and the colors.  This year I received this lovely tree.

It is so sweet because each of the ornaments on the tree is a package and when you give it a shake they all tinkle! Again, it is a lovely shade of green with gold and red accents.

I don't put these Lenox ornaments on the tree but rather I line them up on a shelf where they are out of danger -- well, relatively so.  They make such a pretty arrangement and I love looking at them.

So, now that I have had my ornament fix I hate to have to put them away.  I decorated in stages this year so it wasn't such a chore --- I wanted to enjoy it -- and I think I will undecorate the same way this year.  I can't say I will enjoy it but maybe it won't be so bad.
A View From A Window Thursday

I have been participating in an event every Thursday called A View From A Window, hosted by Jane at The Maple Syrup Mob.  Due to the holidays I have been remiss in posting the last couple of weeks so I will make up for it today.

The first two photos are from two weeks ago -- I got them taken but just didn't get them posted.

Rainy Day

The next two photos are from last week.

Chilly Day

The last two photos are from today.

Promise of a Really Nice Day to End the Year

We are having a warm spell these first few days after Christmas but if you look closely you will see that the freezes of days past have taken our umbrella plant, our cannas and all our purslane.  My husband doesn't care for bedding plants but I am thinking that some lovely purple and yellow pansies would be nice to replace the purslane.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Has Past --

And it was one of the bloody worst holidays I can remember.  Now, you must keep in mind, that when my children were small, I can barely remember a holiday where one or the other of my children didn't have an earache or a sore throat or a cough or some form of respiratory misery.   But, this year was our first to spend in the emergency room.

Our holiday season began quite well.  We were invited to several "events" with my daughter, her husband and their small daughter affectionately known as Bean.  Not her real name, although it probably should be, long story, another time.  Anyway, we saw Santa, we ate out several times, we went to the Gaylord to see the lights and decorations, we were zipping merrily through the holidays and doing quite well.  Nobody was completely exhausted yet and things were getting done at a nice pace. Our weekly Advent lessons were anticipated and enjoyed. Moving on to Christmas Eve morning.  I was chatting with DD on the phone when she said something along the lines of "OMG, she's cracked her head open, gotta go".  Next phone call, was "how do I stop bleeding".  Next phone call, "what do I do if it won't stop".  Next phone call "why won't that damn ambulance get here".  Next phone call " we are in the ambulance, meet you at Cooks".  I finally got around to asking how large the cut was -- 1/2 inch but deep.  Five stitches in that tiny forehead.  The most unfashionable of bandages -- didn't go with the gorgeous Christmas dress at all but it did  make her look like she had bangs/fringe.  Have I mentioned that I am a nervous person? But, I don't flinch at blood so I'm all good -- sort of.

Church was fine although we were all shaken up.  The children's service is  always great fun -- it is so interesting to hear the children participate in the service.  Bean was in the middle of the fray so she was up for the challenge.

Didn't sleep too well that night, just worried but then, it is what I do best so there you go.  Christmas Day was spent at home with the kids coming over in the evening.  Our son didn't join us -- can't remember why, oh yes, I can,  never mind -- nothing unexpected here.  There was gift opening and a fantastic honey baked ham obviously cooked by somebody other than myself. The birthday cake for Jesus was good even though it is clear  that I can't write with frosting!  It was a good time.  Didn't sleep well that night -- oh yes, the mountain cedar is alive and well and pollinating profusely.  That will do it.

Monday and Tuesday brought us house guests in the form of DD, Bean and SIL.  Their heater was acting up and we had had a cold snap so they had an extended vacation with us -- great for us, not so swell for them.  Tuesday was spent with Hubs and I helping them out while they dealt with the heater people who don't seem to know much about heaters even though they are a large, well known company with really big trucks.  All of that was compounded by a gas leak at the meter -- gas company was out in a flash, took care of it and it was pronounced fixed.  The second heater guy was good -- it is fixed -- they are warm and all is good.  You probably haven't guessed that I am a nervous person.

So, that brings us to last night -- I was completely wrung out -- even a seasoned "nervous person" has their limits.  I have done a lot of soul searching and have made some New Year's Resolutions already.  After 61 years of holiday mania, family drama, striving for "perfection" and always failing in somebody's eyes, I am done.  Passing the baton so to speak.  I have officially become the Grandma that visits.  I will bring the bowl of potato salad or not.  I will help clean the kitchen or not.  Or I will sit home, watch my favorite movie with the Hubs and drink hot tea.  Whatever happens I will be living in the season, not of the season.  I have moved past the trappings of accepted and expected frivolity.  I will not be coerced or cajoled into doing things I don't want to do.  I will throw away every Christmas ad when they begin arriving in, what is it now, July?  I will participate when I want and send everybody good wishes when I don't.

I am tired and this rant will probably mellow over the next few months but I am serious -- I am  done.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins -- December  16, 2011

It is official -- I am behind in the Christmas prep.  Today is going to be an interesting day trying to play catch up.  I am beginning to panic just a little bit since so much of what I have to do is mail order!  However, I am going to calm myself down a little bit by doing a Friday Fill--In.  So, here goes --

1.  Sleigh bells ring trying to lure the reindeer back that escaped this week in Dallas.

2.  It is coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees which is, from what I read last night, much more ecologically responsible than  using artificial trees.  Who knew?

3.  You're a mean one fake Santa. I think you need to be investigated and evaluated.

4.  Father Christmas sounds better than Santa Claus.

5.  Silent Night, when listened to on Christmas  Eve, always means so much to me.

6.  All I want for Christmas is  -- well, never mind -- ain't gonna happen anyway.  Significant jewelry might help.  On further review -- nah.

7.  And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching "The Shunning", tomorrow my plans include a visit to the Gaylord with Beanie -- thank you daughter for asking us to join in your holiday celebrations, and Sunday I want to be done -- but won't be -- as I said earlier -- I am lagging behind.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 December 2011

Time for another Musing Mondays over at Should Be Reading hosted by Miz B.

Today's question is What kind of books do you like to read?  Why?  Provide specific examples.

I guess I never really thought to analyze my reading preferences but, when asked this question I had to take a long look at my shelves and see if I could see a trend.  Yes, there is definitely a pattern to my reading.  I tend to read books about the human condition, lots of family related books, not without conflict but with a definite happy ending.  I also tend to read series books and once I decide I like an author, I find I read many of his/her books.

I am not sure why I read series books, or books with sequels, so much but, upon further review, I think I always have.  My first "series" books was Honey Bunch's First Visit to Puppyland.

I was quite small when I received this book, I couldn't read it but I remember being read to and liking the concept of "chapters".  As an adult I have collected a few more of the Honey Bunch books.  Nothing like a collection.

Once I began school, one of my favorite things was the "required" book list we received every September.  This was a mimeographed list (anybody remember the purple ink?) of age appropriate books that we were to choose a certain number from, read, and write a book report -- all without prompting from the teacher.  We were just supposed to do it and turn it in on our own.  I think back, then it was called "responsibility".  I don't think it exists anymore.  I digress.  One of my favorite authors was Kate Seredy and I loved the books in the Good Master series.  I loved the covers, the illustrations and the stories.  I read them all.

Another author that I enjoyed as a child was Laura Lee Hope of The Bobbsey Twin fame.  My very favorite book was The Bobbsey Twins at Tower London.  I remember Christmas shopping with my mother, finding the book and she buying it for me.  I was probably too old for it but I loved it anyway.  I guess I was interested in my "roots" way back then, as well, and was always fascinated by all things UK.

Shortly after my love affair with all these children's books (I still love them, honestly) I stumbled across Shirley Jackson's books after seeing "The Haunting of Hill House" in about 1963 or so.  Quite a far cry from The Bobbsey Twins but I couldn't get enough of her writings and while I thoroughly enjoyed "The Haunting" book, I really liked We Have Always Lived in the Castle and have read it more than once.  I thought I had acquired all that Jackson had to offer until recently when I discovered another book called The Lottery, published in 1948.  My copy includes this title as well as twenty four other short stories.  I haven't read it yet because I am caught up in my current series but I think it is the next on my list when I need a break from Aunt Dimity.

As an adult, I still love series books. I have read most of the entire Woman of Substance series as well as Jan Karon's Mitford series.

While I am anxiously awaiting a third book in the Father Tim series, I am enjoying the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton.  I have never been a huge mystery fan but these are really nice little books and aren't so involved as to confuse this easily confused brain!  There are fifteen books in the Aunt Dimity series and I am on number five.  They are short books and shouldn't take me as long to read them as they do but I am easily distracted.  I managed to space them out so that I am reading the "Christmas" book now -- good planning, don't you think?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Beverly Lewis and all her books about the Amish community in Pennsylvania.

  I am not Amish nor do I live in Pennsylvania but I find that I really enjoy these books.  I don't know whether it is the inspirational message or the vision of a connected family life that is seems to be diminishing in mainstream American or just the diversion of reading about a culture different from my own but, whatever it is, I find them to be very relaxing reading even though quite predictable.

So, there is my answer -- sorry it is so long!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cold and Dark Sunday Morning

It is very early -- barely six a.m.  Yet, I am up having my morning cuppa and putting off making oatmeal which I don't enjoy doing.  However, in a quest for better health  I will do in a little while.  I am alone since Hubs is still snoring away. I wouldn't be awake right now if I could  stay up a bit later but it seems that lately I am turning into a pumpkin about 8:30.  Hubs is into action adventure movies which I am not so I sort of just pass out from boredom.  If I sit and read while he watches, I put myself to sleep so I guess I am doomed to an early bedtime regardless of what I do.  However, it does cause me  to wake up early and here I am.  I have come to enjoy this quiet time before the rush of the day begins.

Last night we were invited to go to an outdoor shopping center close to my daughter's house.  We were going to see Santa for the first time with Beanie.  It was cold, I was concerned because we don't need another ear infection.  However, the line was short and  it didn't take long for us to have our turn.  I won't lie --- it didn't go well.  It was like Beanie knew it was expected of her to reject the whole thing and scream and scream she did.  It made me smile.  My own children didn't like the whole fake Santa thing either and, honestly, neither did I.  I have one photo of me at three taken with a department store Santa that I am keeping at arms length away with the look of sheer terror on my face even though I was smiling.  It was sorta funny and sorta sad.  I remember that photo being taken, though, and how I felt and I never pushed Santa on my kids.  That wasn't our emphasis anyway.  The shopping center was heavily lit and we enjoyed the lights as I continued piling all manner of cover on top of Beanie to keep her warm.  She looked sort of like a little mummy with pink mittens and a pink snowman hat sticking out!  I think she enjoyed it but what she mostly wanted to do was climb the stairs to the bar at the restaurant where we were having dinner.  Nothing like a flight of stairs to zap all the excitement out of Christmas lights, horse drawn carriages and Santa!

As I watched this little child take in all that was being offered I had some of the joy of the Christmas season return to me.  You know, things just aren't the same when you grow up and your children grow up -- the vision is just different which isn't a bad thing but it is different.  It was delightful to see Christmas through the eyes of a child again.

I have spent some time this morning studying the Advent lesson for this week.  We are doing the Advent candle each Sunday evening with Beanie.  Tonight the pink candle, for joy, will be lit and she will be doing the lighting with a lot of assistance, of course.  She seems to be enjoying our little ritual, she has been praying since birth so she very reverently folds her hands and is quiet through the prayer.  I like to think that these candles are as awesome to her as the lights in the shopping center.

As I sit here, with my warm tea, I am aware that the cold darkness of the morning is so representative to me of the quiet time before the birth of the Baby that would change everything like the light and warmth that will come when we light the candles this evening.  To me, lighting these three candles tonight will be more magical and meaningful than all the lights and horse-drawn carriages in the town center.   I hope Beanie feels it as well.

Well, guess it is time to cook that oatmeal -- we are going to early church and I always fast for at least an hour before communion so I best get on with it. Oh yeah, I have to wake up Sleeping Beauty in there, too!  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A View From a Window -- Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things don't look too different this week -- I didn't post last week because absolutely NOTHING looked different.  We did have a couple of freezes and a bit of snow earlier in the week so some of the plants -- the purslane to be exact -- are pretty well gone.  Other wise, just leaves and doves and birdseed that the squirrel likes to throw all over.  Wish I could have gotten a snap of him -- cheeky thing he is.  It is hilarious to see him and a couple of sparrows sitting on the bird feeder tray -- him making it swing with his chubby self.  I love watching the wildlife in the yard but, sadly, one of the ginger cats that tromp through on a daily basis was hit by a car last week.  I will miss him -- he made the squirrel duck for cover!

I also thought I would add this photo -- a view of The Village!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It is time for another Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading.

My teaser this week comes from  Aunt Dimity Digs In by Nancy Atherton. 

"Sally's words had a pathetic ring of truth to them.  No middle-aged woman in her right mind would want her neighbors looking on while she did jumping jacks."

Ok, it is sort of funny until I think about this middle aged woman doing jumping jacks.  Scary visual!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Today's Question at Musing Mondays over at Should Be Reading hosted by Miz B is "how many books do you read in a week? a month? a year?"

I never kept up with my reading totals before now.  I would just read.  Some books went quickly, some took  forever, and some didn't get finished at all.  However, now that there are a number of reading sites out there which host all manner of challenges, I have become more aware of how much I read.  I rarely complete a book in a week -- I am easily distracted.  Most would be done in two weeks.  I can read a couple of books a month if I put my mind to it and I have read about 18 books this year -- to date.  I had a goal of 25 but it isn't going to happen.  I am definitely not a fast reader but I am, what I would call, a steady reader.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Jingle Bells, Jangled Nerves -- What a Horrible Week

This past week was horrible. Not the whole week -- just the latter half.  Up until Wednesday we were having a really great time getting ready for Christmas, putting up the village and having a babysitting day.  Wednesday was planned to get some Christmas sewing done and finish some decorating.  We were having a ball around here just relaxing with the gorgeous weather and getting into the swing of the season.

Then the call came.  It was around lunch time on Wednesday when my phone rang.  It was my daughter's best friend from San Antonio who now lives in Austin.  It was unusual for her to phone, we talk on the computer from time to time but she never calls.  She lives on Ave. G in Austin, two doors down from a little, independent church which was begun by my cousin thirty three years ago and which he still pastors.  She had met my cousin on a number of occasions, once when we were visiting her.  She called to give me bad news.  My cousin and his wife had been killed in a horrific accident outside of Austin on a highway that was undergoing construction.  I simply couldn't process what she was saying.  I have never felt such shock, it was like I had been slapped.  We are supposed to go visit this young woman and her new baby and I had been planning on taking my cousins to dinner.  I was planning.  What was she saying?  This just couldn't be.

After much internet searching I found news story after news story, photo after photo and video after video.  I watched them even though I knew I shouldn't.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  It was horrific and tragic and my cousin was gone.  I spent the rest of the day trying to get information.  I called his church and was told that I couldn't be a relative, he didn't have any relatives.  They were rude.  I was hurt.  I had to break the news to my aunt and her daughter -- it was so sad because he was to officiate the wedding of my cousins child in January.  

I had a strange relationship with this cousin.  He was my father's first cousin, my second cousin, even though he was only three years older than I.  I know him even though we didn't talk on a regular basis.  I called on him many times for help and he was always there to help me.  I always looked at him as someone who would always be there for me  because he was always there for me.  I counted on him for strength and guidance on a number of occasions and I will really miss him. He was really a great guy.

His wife had said that she didn't want either one of them to "go" first and either one of them to have to live without the other.  I find it very comforting to know that is exactly what happened.  That just shows me, once again, that God listens and knows what is best for us.

I have been very sad but on Thursday, as I traveled to my daughter's house in the dark of morning, I could see his face and hear his voice telling me "we are fine (in the Texas drawl he had) -- don't be so sad -- just get on with it.  We are fine" and he was chuckling as the vision faded.  I know they are fine but it is really hard to not be sad.