Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the Sixth Day ~

On the sixth day of Christmas I am grateful for the gift of books, for all the ideas, stories, thoughts, dreams and possibilities that have been written down since the beginning of time. Humans have wanted to preserve and share their ideas ever since they drew their stories on the walls of caves. What an amazing invention writing when we created letters and an alphabet and symbols that meant the same thing to everybody. And then the printing press allowing masses of people to read for themselves the Bible, political pamphlets, and later on eye-opening books like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. 

I think of the great library at Alexandria, unfortunately destroyed by fire. Our Library of Congress. Then I look at my little library, a wall of books in the den. Both great buildings and small holding those ideas and stories that make up human thought and history. Even my Kindle is becoming crowded. 

I am the book giving grandmother at Christmas. The grands know what they will receive. The only surprise are the titles. Some are old enough now that they prefer gift cards for their e-reading devices or for the book store so they may pick their own. The point is, I have loved the gift of books and reading all my life and have been helpful in inspiring a new generation to read. So many books, so little time. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On the Fifth Day ~

On the fifth day of Christmas I am grateful for friends. At my age I have collected a lot of them over the years. Some dropped by the wayside because of moves or other ordinary circumstances. Some because our energies just didn’t match and long before I knew about such things, I knew I needed to free my space of their energy. Others have been around a long, long time, including one who is six months younger than I am and I like to say we’ve been friends since the day she was born. Our parents went to the same church and although she and I didn’t go to the same school, we saw each other every Sunday and at about age 8 or 9 when someone asked who was my best friend, I said Lynn. She heard that and knew it was right. To this day, no matter how much time has passed, we pick up where we left off, speaking as if we had spoken the day before. 

Dean and I are still in touch with a number of people from our elementary and high school classes. FaceBook has brought former students into my life in a way that is fun and delightful. My “kids” now have grands of their own and I am So Proud of all of them. Friends truly are a blessing. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On the Fourth Day ~

On the 4th day of Christmas I am grateful for health. At almost 73, I am at the age when I start hearing of the death of school friends or seeing people dying at my age or younger. I know we all die. And ~ I am grateful for a hip replacement that has me in gym or hiking or snowshoeing; for supplements that keep me going without having to medicate too much. For the ancient art of acupuncture and its growing acceptance in the western community. When I had my hip replacement, I had a wide-ranging wellness team that included the very western practicing surgeon, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, hypnotism and physical therapy. Each one played and still plays a part in keeping my body strong and moving with ease and comfort. We are very blessed to have the wellness support we now have to help improve our quality of life. I still have many years of gratitude to live. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

On the Third Day ~

On the third day of Christmas, I am grateful for technology ~ mainly because it keeps me in touch with the family mentioned yesterday. Christmas Eve I was able to continue a long tradition of reading The Grinch and a family favorite, Giant Grummer’s Christmas, via Skype. All day Christmas day calls on cell phones, on Skype and on Face Time came through with the best of wishes and lots of love. And I even heard from a friend in Wales. Face Book brought greetings from friends around the world as they posted blessings and good wishes. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

On the Second Day . . .

On the second day of Christmas, I am grateful for family. This includes ancestors, aunts, uncles and grandparents who thought I was the most wonderful baby and child in the world. It includes cousins who were like brothers and sisters to me. Parents  - I was asked once what it was like to be raised by giants. Yes, they were very special people. 

It includes my adult core family: my wonderful first husband, Rex, who died 19 years ago last night. Our two daughters of whom I cannot be more proud. And now their delightful spouses and children. 

It includes my wonderful second husband, Dean, whose family welcomed me and allowed me to be Mama Susan to their children. And it includes 12 1/2 grandchildren ranging in age from 25 to arriving in February. Everyone of them is so special to me and I am so thrilled to be sharing in their lives. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

On the First Day . . .

This morning I counted. Was yesterday the first day of Christmas or is today? Today. The 12 days start today and end on Epiphany, January 6th. 

So ~ on the first day of Christmas, I am grateful for ~ Christmas. For the ancient story of the coming of the Light that in my tradition segued itself into the birth of the Baby who became the Hope of the world for many of us. I am grateful for all the return of the light, both a little earlier each morning and the return of the Light which reminds me that the dark shall not overcome. Sometimes evil is dramatic and makes the headlines. Over and over gentle acts of kindness and compassion, love and tenderness prove that Light and Love still hold sway over our lives. Blessed be. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day, 2015

The day began with the lighting of the Christ candle. All candles lit. Hope is born.

My two men enjoyed a moment together. 

Kyle found some surprises under the tree. 

Oso received a gift from his friend Stormy. It was
small enough to play with in the house so he kept it close all day. 

Kyle wanted us to see his Christmas Eve project. Wow.

We were invited next door to a delicious brunch.
My hot chocolate was the real thing. 

Dean, looking rather Elfish in red and green. 
Note the Christmas socks, green with wreaths.

Back at our house, dinner was early enough that we could all eat before Kyle left for work. During the day we received calls in some form or another from all the family. I remember and miss the hoopla of a house full of kids on Christmas morning. At the same time it was really nice to have a gentle, rather quiet Christmas Day. There was actually time to remember our blessings and be grateful. And so once again I hope you had a blessed day and created memories that will last all year through. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve, 2015

Christmas Eve Reflections ~ neither particularly spiritual or religious and yet, maybe by approaching this day a little obliquely, I just might come close to the real meaning of this celebration. 

This is the view out my window this morning ~ 

~ and once in a while the wind blows causing a white out even deeper than this. In the midst of this I have much for which to be thankful, starting with storm itself which is bringing desperately needed moisture to a draught ridden land.

I have new boots. My wonderful boots which have gotten me through the last 5 or 6 winters refused to make an appearance this year. They just weren't there. We opened every winter box, took out all the gloves and scarves and hats and coats and Dean's boots and my Uggs. No boots. I have no idea. And as you can tell from the pictures, we live in boot country. Now I can slip into these to take Oso out in the snow or go to the store or even dress up to go out for the evening. I am grateful for new boots.

Grandson Kyle working in his "Studio under the Stars" located just outside Dean's workshop. It is such fun to be around and see his creativity in process. He represents the whole rest of the family so we have family with us this Christmas and for that I am grateful. 

Biscuits for breakfast ~ thought of and baked by Dean. 
Real Southern buttermilk biscuits to which we added fresh squeezed orange juice, grits, bacon and eggs. How grateful for a well-stocked larder and good food shared in love. 

Every morning from early fall until late spring Dean lights a fire. This morning it is especially appreciated as the storm continues to pour snow on us and the temperature gets colder and colder.

And so here I am, being grateful for home and hearth and family both here and on text and email. Tonight I will read a favorite Christmas story via Skype to grands in Ashland, Oregon. And I will begin work on our Epiphany letter, remembering each and every one of you who have blessed our lives this year and being grateful for life itself. Whatever you celebrate, blessings on this special night.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Spirit of Christmas

So many people, so many holidays, so many greetings ~ and so many people willing to be offended if the greeting is not to their liking. *Sigh* What's a person to say? Well, I think my grandson has the answer. 

This young man, well, still young in my eyes, a college student, and a professional who works the front desk of a motel in a resort town, really understands what it means to have the spirit of Christmas when greeting folks who come to his motel. I will let him speak for himself: 

Instead of rolling the dice and possibly offending someone with the wrong seasonal greetings, I've started asking people what they celebrate. Since then, I've been told to have a happy holiday, a merry Christmas, a happy al-Adha, and a blessed Solstice. This is my new favorite way to talk to people at the holidays.
I was asking myself why everyone in the service industry doesn't do this. It's because my job makes it possible and preferable to interact more with the customer. We establish a rapport and make small talk while I do my job. The woman at Subway or the guy at Walmart don't have jobs that let them do that. So I recognize how lucky I am to be in that position. (Joshua Supelana-Mix)

He tells me that al-Adha is a Muslim holiday that does not correspond to Christmas nor is celebrated in December but the man was so thrilled to be able to talk about it that it was the greeting he gave Joshua and that Joshua returned. 

I am suggesting it would be wonderful if we all cared enough about other people to ask what they celebrate and listen to their story and respond in kind. And if that is not possible, then I suggest we be very grateful if someone passing on the street cares enough to wish us happy holidays or happy anything else that brings the spirit of celebration into our lives. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kyle's Birthday

Gold star grandson was 25 this week so tonight we had a small party for him. I was willing for it to be a larger party and it ended up being our next door neighbor and us. That was ok. We made it work. 
Tradition in my family is that the birthday person chooses the menu for the evening (or the restaurant if we're going out). Kyle decided on an interesting menu: Artichoke dip, Onion soup and Bacon wrapped asparagus. 

Having never made artichoke dip, I was very pleased as the men gathered around and went to eating. 

Neighbor came to dinner and joined them next to the artichoke dip.

Onion soup and bacon wrapped asparagus. 

We were glad to be together, sharing stories and having a good time as we ate good food.

Happy Birthday to you ~ candle on ice cream. He blew out a wish. It was small, intimate and delightful and Kyle's choice for dinner stretched me to realize I can make hot artichoke dip and bacon wrapped asparagus. What a good time!!

Woo: Longfellow's Poem

The last blog shared about my experience at Longfellow's Wayside Inn on the Old Boston Post Road. Why Longfellow's? Because he wrote a long poem called Tales of the Wayside Inn which took place at this inn. Portions of that poem are posted around the inside of the Inn. 

Outside, this gate leads into a lovely garden ~ 

~ where Longfellow himself presides over present day weddings and parties.

Me in the center of the path. Now ~ picture David standing there instead. Meredith and I were almost back to the gate when we heard David's voice. He was reading from the center of the path. He read us  one of Longfellow's poems: A Gleam of Sunshine.
"This is the place. Stand still my steed."

What a lovely surprise and yes, a blessing to have the poet's words read in the middle of his garden.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn on the Old Boston Post Road. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Woo: The Longfellow Wayside Inn

Oh, my dear friends and readers  ~ While in Worcester, we went to the Longfellow Wayside Inn and I found myself in the middle of history. First of all, you notice on the sign that the Inn has been in continuous operation since 1716. History.
If you will look closely behind me under the sign you see a modern road with the yellow stripes down the center. Over my other shoulder you see a little grey strip that comes off the main road ~ 

~ comes right to the door of the Inn and is indeed, The

Whether the sign is really old or has been weathered to look that way makes no difference to me. I asked to be sure and that road in front of the Inn is indeed the Old Boston Post Road. How many carriages, riders, coaches have pulled up in front of the Inn since 1716, travelers grateful to have a stop on the way to and from Boston. 

"Washington passed this place on his way to Cambridge to take command of the patriot army, June 1775"

We were met at the door by Jonathan, a Minute Man, who kissed my hand and called me Mistress, the title of respect for older women in those days. I'm in love. 

He showed me how to hold the 12 - pound rifle. I have only held one other gun in my life and it didn't come close to weighing 12 pounds. I gained a new perspective on all the pictures and stories about the revolutionary soldiers who marched for miles carrying this rifle plus powder and food and all their other needs for battle.

David also learned the proper way to hold the rifle.

And then, taking us across the road to a stretch of green, Jonathan demonstrated the use of the rifle. It took a while to load ~ one shot and you had to do it again. Like I said, another perspective for me.

Ready ~ 

Aim ~ 

I stood on the Old Boston Post Road and visited with a Minute Man.
What more could a history fan want?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Woo Food

It took less than the 72 hours I spent in Worcester for Meredith and David to spoil me around food. David is an amazing cook - a gourmet cook of the finest kind who loves cooking and laying the food on the table in a beautiful presentation.

Salad. We had several of these to accompany delicious entrees. 

The entree' with one above was rack of lamb and roasted potatoes with rosemary.

Breakfast at his suggestion and my request was a scramble with veggies and bacon and cheese. This morning my bread was a poppy seed roll bought at their incredible store, Wegman's. Another morning bread was a toasted English muffin with David's homemade strawberry jam. Homemade jam is so different than any out of a jar from the store.

We also ate at the Wayside Inn (more about the Inn later).
Meredith's butternut squash ravioli.

My lobster caserole was preceded by a cup of the very best lobster bisque I have ever had. 

David's roast goose ~ and of course me, looking more and more like my cousin Evelyn.

Indian pudding with ice cream. Yum!!! Also the best of this kind I have ever had and because I love the name, I have tried it several times. Like rich gingerbread. Yummy!

The food we ate out which included ice cream, Dunkin' Donuts (my last morning at the airport), popcorn and hot dogs at the movie, was all good and fun and delicious. This morning though I knew it was really David who had spoiled me. I found myself standing in my kitchen opening cabinets and drawers and the fridge and thinking, "I am hungry. Where is David? He is supposed to be standing in here making lovely suggestions from which I may choose one and it will be laid before me in style in a few minutes. Where is David??" 

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Woo-hoo, I'm in Woo. That's Worcester MA for the uninitiated. Yesterday was spent in recovery from the long, long day on Thursday. It did include the Peanuts movie, which is another review type blog. Let me say though, if you know and love the Peanuts gang, see this movie!!

Today we walked a lovely greenway that they use often. Three miles with a rushing creek on one side and a live railroad track on the other. It was 60 degrees by the time we returned to the house. Sixty in MA in December. Wow!

Meredith and David on the path.

Me on the path.

Lovely, velvety blossoms of some sort.

After lunch we went to Grafton and I took a picture of the first church on the square. There were two more that looked almost exactly like this one. 

Meredith and David in the gazebo in the park. We crossed the street to the country store where I bought another scarf and we had ice cream.

And as we were leaving, look who we saw walking his dog instead of his reindeer. He very graciously allowed me to take a picture. Delightful day.