Monday, November 28, 2011

A Christmas Dilemma

So here’s the Christmas deal. Decorating was always a delightful time in the Mix family. We listened to carols, popped corn, had hot cider or cocoa and made a family night of it. Sometimes the daughters’ friends would come over when they knew that was happening. We had a good time and once the tree was done, we all braved the cold and went outside to see what people passing the house would see through the window. It was really nice.

When I married Dean, he told me he didn’t decorate. Oh, he will help with opening the window seat storage and with the lights but that’s it. No decorating for him. Well, that left me. And once I had adjusted to that change, it was ok. Then came last year. My hip surgery was too close to Christmas to allow me to do the tree decorating. I took out a few things: the dishes, a Santa placemat, red candles. My Advent wreath was a nativity I keep out all the time surrounded by four candles that I keep out all the time. It all worked.

And guess what? Christmas came anyway. :)

This year, the hip is back to normal, all is well, and . . . there was a great freedom in the lack of decorating last year. Hmmm - Interesting dilemma. I’m not sure if I want to expend all that energy this year. I love the season. I love all of it ~ the carols, the presents, the candles, the busy-ness and the silence. I love the gentle Advent preparation and the Christmas morning excitement. I love leaving decorations in place until Epiphany (although when the daughters were in school, I would take the tree down before they went back).

And . . . there was freedom in the very simple decorations last year.

I have my new red candles. I will do some basic decorating today ~ and I will give more thought to the tree and all that entails. And we will see. What I know to be true is that the Light of both the Solstice and the Savior will come into the world regardless of what I do. And there is great freedom in that knowledge.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Death Valley Camping

My one request: the sun sets at 5 so please, let’s get there before 5 and set up camp while there is still sun light and not in the dark. And the gods laughed. The blizzard winds (although not much snow) kept us from loading the truck Friday night. By the time we were away and made all our stops on Saturday, we drove into the park at exactly 5 o’clock, having watched a beautiful sunset as we drove in. We set up camp in the dark.

What is there about Dean bringing me to camp in wonderful fall-warm camping grounds and they having an unusual cool snap? Today it was just 57 and a strong wind at Scotty’s Castle and Ubehebe Crater. Scotty’s castle was inside of course. Amazing place about which much has been written. I think all stories are eclipsed by the building itself - which Scotty had nothing to do with building. The artisans who created the Spanish architecture were amazing. I’m not even sure such people exist any more.

We were going to tour and then have our lunch in a lovely little grove of trees with picnic tables just beside the parking lot. Instead, Dean (with his bare knees) sat in the truck and I hurriedly made the sandwiches with freezing hands and then hopped back in the truck where we ate lunch in relative warmth.

On the way back we drove into Ubehebe Crater. I could hardly open the door to the truck to get out - in my hat, earmuffs and gloves. No worries today about falling into the crater. The wind was coming across the crater. I could hardly make it there - and I am not a slender woman any more. And the gods laughed. Tens of thousands of people come to Death Valley every year and never see a drop of rain. This night just as we were about to prepare dinner, the rain came. Not much and enough to send me inside. And I had the chairs and stuff inside or put away before it came hard - and Dean had the steaks and asparagus grilled. We ate inside and would occasionally check on the rapidly dying fire. Dean took the breaks in the rain to finish rigging the tent and much of what he did was Very Helpful. Not as much blowing in the wind and firm so that we could hear the gentle rain.

The gods stop laughing and are smiling on us. A wonderful hike to and through Natural Bridge.

Two delightful swims in a beautiful, warm spring fed pool. Insight: if I had a private jet, I wouldn’t fly to Europe or the Caribbean. I would fly into Death Valley three times a week and go to the Furnace Creek pool.

~ and on the way out of the Valley, lunch inside a great big empty

The silence was truly profound ~

~ when we got on the 15 driving through the desert was suddenly boring. We never said “boring” about driving through Death Valley.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being a Butterfly

Years ago as I went through a hard time in my emotional and spiritual life, the butterfly became a wonderful, healing symbol for me. It took other people pointing out to me that I was a butterfly. Tight in a cocoon of hurt and pain and confusion, I came forth as a stronger, happier, Present person. Butterflies represent new life, resurrection, and beauty. They have to beat their wings against the walls of their cocoon to give them strength to break out and fly. Butterflies also share from one flower to another. A person can move between persons, friends, sharing wisdom and love and insights. Butterflies bring blessings as they flutter by, gracing our eyes with color and life and then disappearing on the wings of air.

Today I read this: Every time Claire saw a butterfly she couldn’t help thinking of Carl Jung’s story of the butterfly beating its wings against the window, asking to be let in, bringing with it the divine hand of Fate, of -- what did Jung call it? --”synchronicity.” Because of this, she always thought of butterflies as messengers from the world beyond our knowledge; . . .” (Carole Bugge’)

I will add this image to my understanding of the butterfly experience. I am intuitive enough that I like the idea of on occasion being a messenger from the world beyond our knowledge.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kindle Follow-up

So I have had a good time with my Kindle and my library. The Kindle app came with three books, one of which was Pride and Prejudice. Now of course I have P&P in my library. It is one of those I read at least once a year. So I started reading it on my Kindle. And then it came time to go to gym where I always read while riding the bike. This time I didn’t have to find another book to read. I picked up my hard copy of P&P, found the chapter and headed for the gym. When I was home and ready to read from my Kindle again, I found the chapter left off at the gym and continued to read. I know this switching between hard copy and Kindle won’t happen again because I won’t order for Kindle a book I already have on the shelves - probably. And it worked very nicely this week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Honor of National Booksellers Day

== Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I Love books. And I am finding I love them regardless of the format in which I read them.

I have just put a Kindle app on my computer and I am amazed. I immediately downloaded my daughter’s 3rd novel. Then I decided to look for the next mystery in a series I am reading and there it was and here it was on my Kindle in seconds. At the same time, I have 6 used books coming with free shipping from my favorite on line book seller. My library shelves are loaded and I read and reread. I don’t listen to books on cds and yet I know plenty of people who do that as they commute.

I also believe in supporting my local bookstore so within the week I will go there and peruse possibilities for Christmas gifts for the grands. However they come and in whatever format, I love books. I believe in reading ~ books take us to imaginative places, to historical and future times in which we did not and cannot live. Books make us think. Introduce us to new ideas. Help us learn where old ideas came from and how they effect our lives today. Books ~ the writing down of ideas, stories, history ~ are a Wonderful concept. I believe we should be reading, reading, reading ~ and if that means downloads on my Kindle app and a stack of paper backs by my chair and shelves full of amazing titles, so be it. Here’s to reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome Home

Dean’s father was a milliner. He not only made hats, he Created hats. Many of his hats were created to order: “Henry, I am going to thus and so event and wearing this particular color and I need a hat.” HIs was a specialty shop and all the hats were made by Henry. He lived and worked in Dallas and Dallas fashion wore Hats by Henry. Even though my mom was not a part of the fashion scene in Dallas, she did have one Henry hat of which she was very proud ~ and pleased to learn that his son was in her daughter’s first grade class. Henry rode the fashion in hats through to its end when in the early 60’s most of us stopped wearing hats.

Dean has often said that he couldn’t believe he didn’t have even One of his father’s hats. When we were making plans for our 50th high school reunion one of the women (who didn’t come unfortunately) said she and her sister both still had a Henry hat. Several people mentioned to Dean remembering his father and wearing his hats. One man said he even thought they might have one of his mother’s hats by Henry.

Sure enough they did and were generous enough to share the gift with Dean. (Thank you, Bob!!) The picture doesn’t do it justice as the black velvet is as rich and as lovely as the day he made it. As you can see, it still has the hat pin in it. The beads are also gleaming. If it were in style today, someone could put it on her head, wear it just as it is and look very stylish.

Dean will build a shadow box for it so it can be on display and the story told again and again. Maybe he will tell about working in the back room wrapping Christmas presents for Neiman’s across the street. Or even learning as an Eagle Scout to make his own Native American Fancy Dance costumes among all the beads and ribbons. Good memories came out of a box this morning. A Hat by Henry has come home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Out of the Mouths . . .

The grands had been begging their mom to take them to Halloween City and so one day last week they went. They were met at the door by smoke blowing across the door out of the mouths of ghouls. Nope. Didn’t want to go in there. Being a good mom, she decided to help them face their fears, cross the smoke and discover a wonderful store on the other side. Except the store was more ghoulish and horrible than ever and pretty soon the 6-year old girl was sobbing. It took mom 20 minutes to talk her down - and lots of conversation about spooky scary and really frightening. Six-year old daughter looked right at her mom and said, “I told you I didn’t want to go in there. You should have listened to me.” Yes, even moms make mistakes sometimes.

Then came Halloween. At that point the Warrior Princess (disguised as a pink and fluffy Spider Woman) took over. She ran ahead of the rest of the family, would stand outside a house, hands on hips and look it over, make her decision and announce whether or not she could go to the door.

Then came the house with the smoke. Oh, dear - more smoke. Which of course blew as they stood there thinking about it. Finally deciding they could go to the door, they did. When the woman opened the door, “Harry Potter” - age 9 - big brother of the Warrior Princess - looks right at her and says, “Was the smoke really necessary?”