Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve with the Clan

Family came up on the 27th and I have been trying to remember to take pictures ever since. Tonight we finally accomplished that. Happy New Years from us to you!

We feasted on quiche and roasted veggies.

Carter, Carly, Dean and Rob

Carly, Carter and Susan

Grands with grandparents

Neighbor Dianne came for an evening of 31 and wore a hat. It got passed around - and proved lucky. The wearer tended to win! Yes, friends. I had a 3 game winning streak at the end and won that round. 

Learning the art of the hat. 

Two classy ladies ~ and good friends.

I Loved It!!

I was ordering something on line today and I was ordering from a company that deals mostly with professionals. When filling out the order form, two of the required fields were Title and Company Name. They were required and I couldn't keep going without them.

Ergo I filled them in.

Title: Grandmother
Company: The Mix/McKay Clan

Placed my order and all is well. What fun!! I hope someone in shipping gets a grin out of that one.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How Traditions Are Born

We often think a tradition comes from some deep meaningful experience back in the history of the world, our family or even just in ourselves. It was and remains something that Matters. That may not be totally true however. 

When the hectic delight of Christmas morning kept me from wanting to spend time making breakfast, Sara Lee Butter Streusel became our go-to Christmas breakfast. Pop it in the oven - these were the days Way before microwaves - and by the time the presents were open and family was getting hungry, streusel was warm and ready to eat. Easy. 

Then I moved to Tahoe. No Butter Streusel. Oh, all sorts of other Sara Lee coffee cakes and even a streusel or two. No butter streusel. So I improvised and we ate something for breakfast. Now, Dean tries to be as gluten free as possible and honestly, after looking for several years, I gave up. 

This last week several things happened. My friends came to lunch and one of them brought an appetizer tray that included fig jam. We went to the Victorian Christmas and I bought some pomegranate jelly. Meredith and David were going to tea on Christmas Eve and high tea means lemon curd which I saw on a shelf - right next to mint jelly which I love. So - on my shelves yesterday morning were fig jam, mint jelly, pomegranate jelly and lemon curd. And fresh bread. Ta-dah!! A tradition may have been born.

 (Except - shhhh - I don’t think I will save it just for Christmas morning.) May the blessings of the season continue to be with you and yours ~ 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

For Unto Us A Child is Born

The Christ Candle is lit. Joy to the world.

The tree shines in the morning darkness and will bless us with light all day ~ 

As will the candles on the table although only two of us will gather there. We will remember all who have shared this table with us before and will again.

Another candle lit at another manger ~ and in maternity wards, and ERs, wherever birth and death and life is celebrated, appreciated and released. 

The fire takes the morning chill away until the sun has time to shine in and warm the house. We are so blessed ~ and we pray that you are too in whatever way the Light finds its way into your life today. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Victorian Christmas

 Nestled in the foothills of the Sierras is the little town of Nevada City, California. Every weekend in December its streets are filled with booths and flags and people, all celebrating a Victorian Christmas. We spent an afternoon there.

There are amazing crafts. A very different kind of wreath. 

Homemade goodies of all sorts abound sold by folks in semi-Victorian dress. 
Notice the short sleeves though. Unlike any December the Victorians ever knew,
it was 70 degrees this day. 

The bagpipes played and the dancers danced.

I understood from this lady that the Pie Lady and her truck had a corner in town when the festival was not in full swing. I had a dirty mash and steak pie for lunch. About 2 1/2 inches in diameter, filled with savory goodies, it was the perfect size without being overwhelming. I had to go back for dessert though. She had buttermilk pie. I asked her to tell me about it and she said, "It is a southern recipe." "Yes," I said. "I know. That's why I asked. Is it really southern, or just something someone in California made up?" She laughed and assured me it was really southern. And it was. So delicious. I haven't had one like that since my Aunt Lalah stopped making them when I was still a little girl.

Dean wanted spiced pecans.

This gentleman didn't have to wear a special costume. He dresses the part all the time.

Whole families did dress for the occasion however.

The day was made perfect for me as we were leaving and came across Father Christmas himself handing out goodies to children from his green bag.

Advent 4

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus . . . " (Luke 2) 

So here it is a few days before Christmas, before The Birth. For just a moment, let’s strip Mary of the heavy burden of Holy Mother of God. Let’s see her as she probably saw herself: a very pregnant, uncomfortable woman who had to travel by donkey to a distant city. Now I have birthed two children and I know what happens to a mother’s body within a few days of birth. We nest. We gather husband and family around us. We clean. We prepare. There is something in our genes that does this. I know I am certainly not a cleaner naturally, but wow, did I clean. And suddenly Mary has to travel. 

For the next few days I will be aware of the reality of this birth. 

“Joseph, we have to room for some swaddling cloths.” 

“Joseph, you know I’ve been craving soup. Please, find room for some vegetables so I can make some soup on the road.” 

“Joseph . . . “ 

Or maybe she really did all this in silence scared to even call attention to what was about to happen in their lives. 

I learned but do not remember how long a walking, donkey-back journey would have taken from Nazareth to Bethlehem ~ doesn’t matter. Mary would have gathered and prepared and if she couldn’t “nest” at home, she would do her best on the road. 

The Gospel writers didn’t write to tell us about real life. They wrote to tell us the truth of the messianic prophecy fulfilled in the man Jesus. I find great comfort in the idea of the real life that took place in and around the prophetic story. A young pregnant woman setting out on a literal journey that would lead to a life-changing journey for all human kind. 

Blessed be as you make your journey of grace.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pot Luck Evolution

The term pot luck for a meal comes from when we literally took the luck of the pot -- whatever was in it, you brought to the church, the town hall, the park and shared the little you had with others who had done the same. Eventually it evolved into meaning, put your finest and best on the table. Yesterday, following a now decade long tradition, I hosted a holiday potluck lunch for some women friends of mine. In order to avoid having an all salad - or all dessert - meal, we have always signed up for what we will bring. Yesterday, there was no way I could call it a pot luck.

We opened with hot apple cider accompanied by a lovely platter of cheese, olives, jams and bread.

Our main course consisted of butternut squash soup and two lovely salads, created in house with ingredients brought from their homes.

Dessert was my pear crisp with ice cream followed by "booze balls", a rich chocolate confection that includes Jack Daniels.

There were only four of us ~ several others being unable to attend ~ and we had a lovely time, visiting, visiting, visiting and eating. Luck was with the pot that day -- it was all delicious and with all good intentions I still didn't take pictures of the individual dishes. Nevertheless, here we are enjoying.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Song Cue: Tradition!

This morning at the grocery store there was a man filling the candy shelves. I stopped for just a moment to watch him, thinking what a delightful job he had for this time of year. As I watched, I realized it was almost Christmas and Christmas in the Mix household meant and means red and green M & Ms!! And there they were - and now here they are - in the same bowl that has held them for Ages. Just so my daughters know, yes, they are the ones with peanuts, but then as you were growing up there were no peanut M & Ms. Allow mom a little slack to change the basic tradition just a bit. 
Christmas and Holiday fun to all of you! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent 3

Today’s chosen scripture is from the first chapter of Luke, Mary’s Song or “The Magnificat” ~ the song she sings after hearing she will bear God’s son, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” 

For those of you who follow the lectionary, I understand this is Way out of sequence. Chronologically this comes nine months before Christmas not two weeks before. However, the first time I was ever asked to dance in church it was for a Christmas Eve service and I was asked to dance The Magnificat. It began for me a long and glorious faith journey of dancing to hymns, scriptures, and anthems. And over and over again through the years, I danced Mary’s song again. 

Then one year, a beautiful younger woman in my dance ensemble was pregnant. By then my hair was grey and my own children grown. This was her first. She was also African American with dark hair and a lovely dusky skin color, surely more akin to mid-eastern Mary than mine ever was. I asked her to dance it. 

People wept. They really saw Mary, many for the first time ever. There she was, pregnant, scared, filled with praise for God even her questioning and wondering. And about to give birth to their Savior. Her image is forever in my mind whenever I read these powerful words of hope and praise: 

My soul magnifies my God,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . 

May your spirit rejoice even as you question, ponder, worry and celebrate. May you be blessed on your journey of grace. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

~ but We Really Are There

Last night at dinner the woman next to me asked me about my work. I told her I had been a stage manager and she was Amazed. In her words - so totally out of her range of experience, she couldn’t even imagine. I haven’t had that kind of reaction in a long time. I told her - when you go to the theatre, if we do our jobs well, you aren’t even aware we are there. She just kept shaking her head in amazement. And No, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to tell stories. 

I went file-searching to find a picture to illustrate and because we aren't there,  this is the only one I could find, taken by someone who was more interested in the T-shirt than the job. You can tell by the open mouth that I am still doing the job - talking to someone on that headset while trying to oblige the photographer. It must have been before curtain - I never would have allowed it otherwise. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Good Christmas Read

Among my Christmas books is one book with two mysteries. Anne Perry’s Christmas Mysteries includes “A Christmas Guest” and “A Christmas Secret”. One thing I like about Anne Perry’s writing is that she deals in character and not just in plot. This concept is heightened in these two short novels. 

Yes, there are “mysteries” in both. In finding the answers, however, those involved find out much more about themselves and the people around them then just their knack for solving a mystery. 

“A Christmas Guest” is about Grandmama who is shuffled off from the warmth and comfort of her London family to a daughter and son-in-law (who, heaven help us, is an actor!) who are spending Christmas in the wilds of the English coast. Into this home comes another unexpected and shuffled off guest who has the audacity to die after only two days in the house. Might it be murder? Much to her own dismay and amazement, Grandmama sets out to bring justice to this woman she was determined to despise and whom instead she found herself admiring. 

“A Christmas Secret” is the story of a Vicar who, with his lovely wife, is sent to fill in over Christmas for another priest who had to go out of town suddenly. Or did he? And when the Vicar’s wife finds the vacationing Vicar's body in the basement, she is determined to learn what happened. Again as she and her husband learn about the parish, now theirs, they learn that every small town and even smaller church have secrets they don’t want even their Vicar to know. 

Perry does not shy from emotions and (very pleasing to me) the faith of the Vicar, his wife and the people of their church. These are real people, struggling with their own lives and insights into themselves. The mystery is there to be solved but takes second place to the mysteries of the human heart. Both are very gentle reading for the Christmas season. Enjoy ~ and blessed be on your journey of grace. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Give Us Some ~ Figgy Pudding???

Our mail boxes and inboxes are full of them ~ pleas for organizations for end of the year, tax-deductible donations. Grocery stores have bags that you can fill for families other than your own. Groups of all kinds sponsor families and buy gifts so that someone who can’t just maybe can this year. Much of this seasonal giving is very well organized and documented. Some of it isn’t. These are two of those stories. 

First: whenever she shops, she picks up an extra toothbrush and toothpaste adding less than $3 to her grocery bill. Every time. The toothbrush and toothpaste go into a grocery bag hanging on the back of a door. Sometime this season, she will take the bag to a shelter that serves the homeless - a women’s shelter where women come who have left violence with nothing but themselves and sometimes their children - a place that offers shelter and a little dignity to street people. She doesn’t get any tax credit. No one knows about it except her and the person to whom she hands the bag. And people who just might not have a toothbrush and toothpaste, have them.

Second: two young men standing on a corner by a grocery store with a sign that said “Hungry. Anything helps”. With her own finances in flux, she bought $20 worth of groceries ~ bread, lunch meat, sliced cheese, grapes, bananas, roasted pumpkin seeds and a gallon of water. No tax credit. No credit of any kind except the gratitude of two hungry people. 

These are the kind of people that epitomize the true spirit of giving at this time of the year and all year. Which brings me to one last reminder: whatever you do now, go to July on your calendar and make yourself a note to do it again then. Hungry people, shelters, non-profits have needs all year round. Blessings, to all who stop by here, as you continue your journey in grace. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

He Says It So Much Better Than I Would Have

I don't often share links here - and never on Facebook. However,  a friend found and posted this article this morning and I think it is worth a read.


I'll be honest - I am not sure how this works and if it shows correctly, please, take a minute or two - it's a short article - and read it. ~ blessings on your journey

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Sacred Spaces

We have done minimalistic decorating this year and I couldn't be happier. I learned how easy it is the year I had my hip surgery and had to forego a tree. We've had trees since then and this year I was into easy so we compromised on the size of the tree. I knew when Dean offered to help me decorate it if I "really wanted" a tree that he wanted a tree. I suggested one that would fit on the table top. He is So Pleased - and so am I. Along with the little tree went other smaller decorations this year. What I realized this afternoon is that all the little decorated spaces are sacred to me. They are all special and I love them. 

You have seen the table that holds the Advent wreath and candles. The Bible is turned to a different favorite and meaningful scripture for each week, and I use it as part of my meditation.


Here is the small tree. Can you tell it is sitting on a table? It is decorated with lights and icicles and a few gold bows. Period. Please, notice there is still room for presents under it. When I was first thinking I might not have a tree, the Owlet was very concerned. "Where will you put your presents?" As you can see, my darling, there is room for presents. 

The center of our dining room table. Very simple. Very elegant. And absolutely perfect.

Our coffee table is exactly the right size to hold the tree skirt. There is history in this space. The skirt was given to me one year by my step-mother who regularly attended the bazaar workshop at my home church where a group of talented ladies worked from January through late November to make gorgeous crafts for sale to raise money for the church and charity. My first husband and I bought the nativity in the early 60's from a workshop in the deep South. African Americans had gathered together and decided they would no longer work for 25 cents a day (yes, dear young readers - a Day) and they formed an artists workshop and made crafts. I have been putting this nativity on a window sill for guests to see as they came up the stairs. This year I decided I wanted to look at it myself. 
That is indeed Santa you see standing there. One daughter has the little statue of Santa kneeling at the manger given to us after her father died. I like all of Christmas and so now there is a Santa in my nativity. The books have been gathered over the years and read to children, grandchildren and even when they aren't around, I indulge my inner child and will probably read all of them before the season ends. It is a blessed and sacred time and I enjoy it. May you too enjoy your sacred times and spaces and be blessed on your journey. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent 2

The scripture I chose for this week is from Isaiah 40: Prepare the way of the Lord. We are promised that when we do that mountains and hills will be made low, rough places made smooth. As I ponder these words this week, I will think about the rough places in my life that God has smoothed for me; the mountains that seemed impossible to climb that were lowered enough for me to make it up and over. 

These times come for all of us:
~ like the death of a loved one and how we manage to keep on with our lives as we climb that awful mountain. 
~ like a job opportunity slipping through our fingers or another financial set back and we stub our toes on those stones in the road and yet keep going and discover the road smoothing out ahead of us

Each of you will have your examples. Some of you will look back and be grateful. Others of you are in the midst of mountain climb right now and may be saying “yeah, right” in a very sarcastic voice. We will each have our own perspective on these words of hope and promise. 

Wherever you are on your journey, whatever your expression of faith, contemplate the words of this promise and how it is made whole in your life. May you be blessed and graced on the path you have chosen. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

First Snow

Snow! There's snow! Yay, there's snow!

Come on, mom, come on. There's snow! Come out and play!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I watched the Rockettes 75th Christmas Show on Netflix and noticed a couple of things:

~ After 75 years, the show is just as or even more spectacular as it ever was. 

~ All the dances are precision to the maximum degree and the toy soldiers are amazing. All they do is "walk" in perfectly straight lines, backwards, forwards, in rotation, back and forth and it is the most amazing walking you have ever seen. And then while in a long line, they get shot down by a cannon and they fall back into each others' arms until all 72 of them are lying on top of each other on the floor. At which point they pop up into a sitting position and strike a pose. Incredible. 

~ All dances except the one mentioned end with the traditional high kick. It is still wonderful to watch.

~ Close-ups cause a bit of a problem in an extravaganza. Too close to the faces of the dancers and you see the sweat and just a bit of strain in the smile. One close up of the lovely young dancer playing Clara in the Nutcracker and you could see her thinking. It was just before a pirouette and she was probably counting even though she was smiling. 

~ Because tradition has it that there were three kings who came to the manger, and because (let's be honest) churches usually have to scrounge to have that many in the pageants, we have always thought three. Period. What a delight to have the kings cross the stage each with his own entourage of servants, ladies, and leaders of the real camel and donkey, and all dressed as might befit eastern royalty. If they were as wise as they are portrayed, they probably did bring some help along for the journey. 

~ The special effects were slick, smooth and perfect ~ and the best effect of all was the delight and wonder on the faces of the children in the audience caught on camera shining with pleasure at dancers, flying Santa, dancing bears and the lovely, lovely nativity. That was an effect no stage artist could produce. On the other hand Radio City Music Hall produces it every year by creating a show that delights and amazes. If you have a chance to see it, do so. It will bring out the child in you. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

OK ~ That's Just Plain Cold

We have a winter mantra at our house: if the weather is bad and you don’t Have to do it, then stay home. Now this usually applies to snow conditions, road conditions and precipitation. This morning it applies to temperature. 

When I got up at my usual time, the temperature was 0, to be 7 by the time I usually leave for gym. With apologies to my Minnesota friends who live with this all winter, I went back to bed for an hour. When I got up a second time the temperature was still 0 even though it was supposed to be climbing by now. I will make my 10:30 haircut, but oh my dears, I could not face 0 or 4 or even 7 first thing this morning even for a warming work out. Brrrrr.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us!

(Picture from 2 weeks ago)

Happy Anniversary, us! Twelve years ago today Dean and I married. We have celebrated the day. We have forgotten the day. This year we remembered the day and Dean is slammed out at work for the whole week so all we did was remember. Oh, and I sent him an e-card. Twelve years ago we married in Virginia and two weeks later had a party in California followed the next day by a blessing service during church. This year, Dean will be out of town at a business retreat during that time. Still, it is a happy anniversary time ~ we are grateful for each other and we remember with joy and pleasure how pleased we are to celebrate this day in our own way.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent 1

Advent, the anglicized version of the Latin adventus meaning coming. Advent is the time in the church year when Christians anticipate both the birth and the second coming of Christ. In the societal, commercial rush of Christmas, Advent has a way of getting lost. Even if you do not adhere to the tradition, it is nice to remember in the middle of the crush that this is a time of expectation and waiting, a time for the heart to focus on what is important. 

I chose to open the Bible to the prophecy from Isaiah 43 “Behold I am doing a new thing.” What hope! Even God is doing a new thing, shaking things up, changing things around. At a time of year when tradition means so much to so many of us, it is interesting that Biblical tradition has it that God is not a traditionalist. God is about to change the world as we know it and it just may be that our waiting and expectation could be preparation for that Divine change in our lives.