Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas is Coming

It has never been too hard for me to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. This year was different. Maybe it was because stores seemed to start decorating even earlier than usual. Maybe it was because the Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings were prepared and served in late September. Maybe it was because I just needed Christmas.
Whatever the reason, I had a harder time waiting this year than usual. Today is the first Sunday in Advent and I decided it was also the first day of my Christmas celebration.

Our Advent wreath changes year to year, always including the candles and the Christ child and the story and many times a Santa. This year instead of my Bible I decided to put out the book I chose years ago to tell the story to the children at my church. I have never separated, at least not much, the spiritual from the festive. It is all celebrated because of the Birth and so Santa watches over Advent. 

The pine cone tree was here when I arrived. I have always loved it but never used it. This year Dean suggested it go in the center of the round coffee table. He even saw the red and gold beads and suggested I use them on the tree. The tree skirt was given to me years ago by my step-mother who worked diligently once a week at the church to prepare for a huge holiday bazaar. My books, which I feel like I just read, but it really has been a year and so they once again take a place of honor and I will start reading them again soon.

We took a break in the rain to walk up the hill and cut a small tree. Like all Christmas trees before it, it is perfect. Because we are having small trees now, I am choosing my ornaments. This year I planned to use some crocheted snow flakes Michelle had given me years ago. I didn't have as many of them as I remembered so I added some white and gold ornaments, icicles and of course my big red ball, a very meaningful gift from a play cast in 1986. It is included every year no matter what the other ornaments are.

The decoration feast also changes from year to year although when the daughters were growing up, it was mostly popcorn, cider or cocoa, cheese and crackers, and something chocolate. Today it was white bean soup, made by Dean while I was decorating. It was and is perfect. It tastes exactly like I remember white bean soup tasting. What could be better than that? And to add to the perfection of the day, it has started to snow. Christmas is coming indeed. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2

Yesterday I posted pictures of food. Today pictures of 3 of the 4 people present. The fourth was the one taking the pictures. 

Neighbor David and me. Such a good time with good friends!

My sweetie doing his hosting. You can tell by his smile that we were having fun. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Little Break with Tradition

Regular readers of this blog may remember back in late September I prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for the Chinese side of the family who had never eaten a home-cooked American meal. It was delicious and perfect . . . and I laughingly said, "I only do this once a year." Well, I may have laughed but I was right. 
When I issued the invitation for dinner to our neighbors, I included the caveat that we were having lamb. She said, "Wonderful. I will bring salad and vegetables." My goodness. That meant all I had to do was set the table and make dessert. Dean was grilling the lamb. 

Dean lost track of time in the middle of delightful conversation so the outside of the lamb was a little charred as were the asparagus spears. Inside of the chops were perfect and with the cherry sauce on the asparagus, it was delicious. Polenta with pesto, olives, pimento and basil straight from our garden was a delight. 

The salad was a delightful mixture including beets.

I forgot to take a picture of the peach crisp made from fresh frozen peaches from last summer. And most of peach crisps look the same so the picture is from earlier in the year. Served with a dollop of ice cream, it was the perfect end to the non-traditional feast. 
A little break with tradition is good now and then. We had a very happy Thanksgiving and pray you did too. ~ with blessings

The Gift of Silence

This morning we took a long walk through the woods which included The Loop. Now the path we call The Loop wanders through silent, sacred space. Dean moves with the silence of a tracker. Oso of course makes no sound as he sprints up and down the trail. My feet land with less impact and even on the upward slant, my heart slows down and my breathing lessens and I become one with that silent space. The space is inhabited by amazing magical 4th dimensional beings who, although also silent, reveal themselves as blessings for those who move with grace. It is a wonder-full walk to take anytime. On Thanksgiving, it is especially nice as I was both in the moment and aware of so many blessings. Family faces, from both past and present, floated across my memory. Friends drifted by. The very fact of being in those woods, on that path with my love and my dog, brings gratitude beyond measure. May your day be filled with the blessings of life ~ and if perchance you read this from another country, take a moment to be still and be filled with Thanksgiving. 

Got it Right

Thanksgiving morning. There are so many big things to be thankful for in my life. And this morning I am writing about one very simple thing. 
While perusing one of the myriad of catalogues that arrive this time of year, I discovered a fleece kaftan. I have wanted to find a fleece kaftan for years. It was in pastel colors though and I am more of a red, purple, teal sort of person. So I folded the catalogue open to the page and let it sit. And sit. 
After two times when I would have loved to have had the fleece kaftan I bought it. It came yesterday.
And here I am this morning snuggly and warm while I start my day,
thankful for so many things, and especially for my robe. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I do not know what a white woman of privilege can say with integrity about the decision in Ferguson. I believe I might say this: I am a mother and a grandmother. Another woman’s unarmed child was killed by an armed adult. For that there should be responsibility taken and a sense of justice. So far there is none. God bless us everyone. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All in the Name of Football

Dean and John had been invited by the Dean of the Business School at UNR to a football game on a warm, sunny September afternoon. Neither were in town and unable to go. The Dean reissued the invitation for last night, a cold, blustery November day. They accepted. 

What to wear? Layers . . . upon layers. Emailed Robert who went there and is a big fan to discover the UNR colors: blue and silver. Perfect. Grey jeans, blue top with grey vest. And my red coat and hat because that is what I have to keep me really warm. It wasn’t until we were half way down the hill that Dean remembered that Fresno State colors were red and grey and there I was in my grey jeans and my red hat and coat. Ah well. I did have to explain to some UNR fans giving us their seats as they were leaving the restaurant that No I was really a UNR fan and they could safely give me their seat!

In the stadium we had special box seats. The box was a small area at one corner of the field next to the UNR cannon. Dean was the only one who remembered to cover his ears when the Wolf Pack scored and the cannon exploded. My ears were covered enough in layers of warmth that the sound wasn’t too bad. 

The box also provided some very nice food, including (thank goodness) hot chocolate in a huge container that kept it hot all night. I was very grateful. 

By the end of the evening I was wearing six layers including Dean’s sweat shirt over my red jacket. At least I looked less like a Fresno State fan. When I had found my fuzzy boots, they had new winter socks in them. I had forgotten buying them last spring on sale somewhere. They were Perfect. My feet stayed warm. I sat on a blanket and Marian and I put the other blanket over our knees, the only places we were really cold until late into the evening. 

I had told Robert that on his behalf I would try to care who won the game. By the time of the first long pass, I realized I was back in football mode and would have to be careful not to out yell my throat capacity. No worry about 
caring or not who won. Unfortunately the Wolf Pack lost rather badly. The cold got to us though and we left before the end of the 3rd quarter. By then it was already 10:45 and the game still had some time to go. 

We spent the night with our friends so we didn’t have to drive back over the mountain. It was lovely and they provided an amazing breakfast before we did come home. It was a cold, fun evening and maybe next year the guys will be able to accept the invitation to the warm, fall September afternoon game. I’ll go back for that. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gratitude for Gifts

I always say Thank You when I am given a gift. Mothers teach us early to write thank you notes or these days send an email or make a phone call. Sometimes we despair over whether that manner has really been learned but on the whole, we are grateful for gifts and say Thank You. 

This morning Dean was making chili and I noticed he was using his Ulu, an Alaskan knife with a rounded blade, to cut onions. Several years ago when they were living in Alaska, our daughter and son-in-law sent him the Ulu for Christmas. He still uses it and we are grateful for it. Maybe it is time to say thank you again. 

 Dean’s whole family gave him a rolling table/cutting board for the deck. It stays very close to the grill and has been used for a buffet, a bar, storage and any number of other things. We both continue to be grateful and so we say thank you again.  

I brought with me from Virginia a large round tray and a blue and white bowl, both received at different Christmases from friends who came to visit us this summer. As I continue to use both items I lot, I said thank 
you again even though they didn’t really remember that they were the gifters. 

Sometimes gifts come in the form of learnings. I have always made terrific pie crust and yet my daughter was able to give me several tips that have raised the quality of my really good pie crust. Thank you again. 

At this Thanksgiving season it is fun to remember the thoughtfulness that knew us so well that we continue to use the gifts over and over. It is time to say Thank You again. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dean's 72nd

Dean’s birthday is Monday. So is John’s, a business friend. Last year and this the two couples have gone to the same place for dinner to celebrate. We always enjoy our time with them. Conversation is lively, food is delicious, and we say “Happy Birthday” a lot. 

While getting dressed, I remembered that for the last two years, I had worn the same white sweater to dinner for Dean’s birthday so I went to iPhoto to jog my memory so I would wear something different this year. Would anyone but me have realized? No. Did anyone else care? No. And yet, I do have a closet full of nice clothes and like variety even when there’s a year in between the occasions.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Latest Project

The math goes like this:

Logs lying in the forest from county clearing a long time ago
Dean's brain, shop and bobcat
Evan's ad on Craig's List that he cuts logs into boards
Logs coming off of Evan's truck so he can cut

Cutting ~ 

and beautiful pine boards with which to do . . . what?
Well, they just might become new tops for several kitchen counters!! Yay!!
We'll see, and Dean has suggested as much so he has 
probably committed himself simply by mentioning it to me.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Morning Scenario

Waking she lay relishing the feel of the sheets and the sense of nesting which a slow start to the morning gave her. From the deck came the sound of an ax on wood, telling her the morning fire was being prepared, to be both practical, taking the chill off, and delightful, offering the perfect ambiance before which to have a cup of tea. 

Outside her window the stars blinked out one by one as the horizon sky turned the palest peach, pine trees came into focus and the sun made its rising presence known. One more long, lazy stretch between the sheets, not unlike a cat on a window sill, and she rose to begin her day. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Elections Reflections

National elections of any kind - even mid-term - bring forth memories of elections past. 

First of all, the Suffragettes. Amazing women who decided “the weaker sex” had the brains to vote and made it happen. Men didn’t like the idea of course and so these women were beaten, jailed, force-fed and totally degraded in so many ways and still they fought and marched and changed who could have a say in government. Remembering them, I vote. 

Second, Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the first free election in South Africa. In all his red, royal regalia, he stood in line, marked his ballot, carried it to the ballot box, slipped it half way in, brought it out and with that delightful twinkle in his eye, he danced! He put the ballot in, he brought the ballot out, and all the time he danced . . . and laughed . . . and danced. There was no apathy in him that day. Because he could vote, he danced! Remembering him, I vote. 

Third, my own daughter, Meredith. She was 18. She could vote for the very first time and it was a Presidential election. She had watched her parents vote for years. She had heard family discussions of issues and of the privilege of voting. She had done her homework and was ready. And she was sick. So sick I had to help her walk from her bed to the bathroom. I went to vote at the school up the street where one of our good friends from the college was always a poll worker. He asked about us and I told him how disappointed Meredith was. “Can you get her here?” Yes, but there is no way she can stand up much less stand in line. “Bring her. I will meet you at the car with a ballot.” And so I did, he did, and she voted. Remembering them, I vote. 

You have election memories of your own. What helps you to the polls no matter how ugly the campaign, no matter how much you dislike all the candidates, no matter what the weather? What stories make you realize that voting is a right and a privilege that you dare not give up even for one day? Whether you share them here or just remember them on your own, think about them. Be glad you voted yesterday ~ and if you didn’t vote yesterday, promise yourself that you will in two years. It is worth it. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Voted

I almost didn’t. I am so apathetic about this vote and the only things that really kept me going this year were 1) voting gives me a right to complain and 2) the thought of all those suffragettes who were beaten, jailed, and force-fed so that I could vote. And so I voted. In a reasonably informed way. 

I admit to my own ambivalence. Some choices are very clear. Some really aren’t. Both sides of the argument sound good to me. People I respect (teachers, police, nurses) stand on both sides of the same issue. I find it difficult to make a decision. And eventually I do. Mark those little circles and turn it in. 

Technically I should have voted before now as I vote by mail. This year, my ballot didn’t get to me in time to be certain it was in by today so I had Dean deliver it when he went to vote. He brought me back my sticker. No matter how ambivalent, how apathetic, how upset with the process, I Voted! I hope you have too. It is a right and a privilege we should never give up.