Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, Hodgepodge Style

Goodbye, 2013, and Hello 2014.   Glad we're not bidding farewell to the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Thanks, Joyce, for coming up with questions week in and week out for something like 2 and 1/2 years? 

1. Times Square is the setting for the infamous ball drop signaling a brand new year....when did you last 'drop the ball' on something?

Oh, I suppose I could have planned better for Christmas Eve celebration so that everyone in the family who wanted to attend a Christmas Eve service could do so.  But it was really hard to make that happen since the kids, my sister, and we and we go to five different churches, and the services were at 6 different times.  I didn't get to go, nor did my daughter, and that was disappointing.

2. What is one thing you resolved to do in 2013 that you actually did?

Made a  craft room for myself when my daughter moved out.

3. Jack London is quoted as saying, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Agree or disagree? Why? 

With a club? Sheesh!  That sounds violent.  Considering that the meaning of inspire is to 'breathe into," then going after inspiration with a club sounds akin to beating a respirator with a baseball bat. 

Inspiration can't be forced, only encouraged.  You can wait for it, and usually must.  A person can posture herself where it's more likely to happen, but even then the mind and heart have to be open, ready to "breathe in."  

4. What was the best thing you ate in 2013?

Believe it or not,  fruit.   This year  I had some of the best fruit I ever remember--all at different times. I had an amazing, perfectly-ripe pineapple, a divine  avocado,  the sweetest clementine.

The best cooked or baked thing was Blueberry French Toast Breakfast Casserole, made by a gourmet chef and baker in my Ladies' Bible study. We all brought something to our annual brunch and that was, hands down, the best thing I ate this year. 

5.  Share an anti-resolution...that is, something you plan to keep on doing in the new year.

Brushing my teeth, taking a daily shower, driving the speed limit.  Beyond the basics of hygiene and good citizenry, I plan to keep on volunteering in my daughter's classroom once a week.  She needs and appreciates the help, and I get my kid-fix and schoolteacher-y fix.  

6. The Pantone color of the year for 2014 is radiant orchid.  Like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either?

I love it, love it, love it! You will find almost every shade of purple in my wardrobe, but not sure I have that exact one.  Not much in the home; my decor is more earth-and-spice tones.  No doubt I will add Radiant Orchid to my wardrobe. Doesn't it sound glorious?

7. In three words or less sum up your 2013.

Peace through grief.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My son Ben and his wife just bought their first home! I am so happy for them. 

The contract on the one that they had first chosen (a townhouse)  was contingent on an inspection for structural soundness. My husband and I weren't thrilled with the location, but we prayed a lot and didn't say much. Two days before Christmas, the inspector found close to $30,000 in termite-damaged wood, so the kids walked away.  

 I was excited for the next thing they'd find because, when praying, I pictured a small brick rancher in a quiet neighborhood. 

Lo and behold, the next house they fell in love with was a small brick rancher in a quiet neighborhood!  There's a wood fence and some pretty trees and a level lot, ready for a swingset when the time comes.   It had another contract on it, but the sellers appreciated the letter my DIL wrote, stating they'd love to raise their family there.  And the home is walking distance from our daughter, so they will be able to hang out frequently together.  If all goes as planned, they'll settle on the 24th and be in by the 31st! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Color Coded Goals; 101 in 1001 with Radiant Orchid

For some reason, my most recent update of this list (last week) saved a draft, but not the final one.
So, I've revisited and revised it as the New Year begins.

I can honestly say that this type of list , which spans almost 3 years and is more goal--oriented and not "resolutions" to complete in one year, is proving to be my style.  It includes physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual areas in which to grow, change, and achieve for good in measurable ways.

Here's my color code:

Red--updates as of the end of April 2013
Blue--updates as of the end of December 2013
Radiant Orchid--updates as of January 2, 2014
Green--priority goals for 2014

Revisions in  "Radiant Orchid," the Pantone Color of the Year.  This may not exactly be Radiant Orchid, but it's as close as I can get with my computer. 

Starting date: Aug 1, 2012
Ending date: April 28, 2015

1. Sponsor a new child Joel's age (8/15/12, Marcos)
2. Pack boxes for Samaritan's Purse at a packing facility at Christmas 
Decided I want to make 7 doll quilts to send this year instead.
3. Make empanadas
4. Learn watercolor
5. Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art
6. See NYC
7. Lose 2 dress sizes by June 1, 2013 (as of 8/15, down 5 lbs), 3 sizes by Jan 1, 2014) and 80 lbs total by 4/28/15) Went back up 5 by Oct 1, but went off gluten Oct 1 and lost 10 lbs that month.  Lost 1 dress size. by June 1.   Lose another dress size by March 1
8. Sand off faux finish in the master bathroom
9 Strip wallpaper from master bathroom
10. Give away 27 things a month 12 times (2x in Aug '12) (27x2 bags Nov '12, 1 in Dec 12, 1 in Jan, 1 in Feb, 1 in March, 2x in April, 1 in May)  lost track but it was 12
11. See S&A get married
12. Find a good chiropractor and have at least 6 adjustments
13. Read a book on classical education
14. Visit friends in KS again
15. Make a trip out west    redundant of #46  Instead,  save monthly for trip to Italy in 2015
16. Give blood
17. Talk with my folks about their will and final arrangements :(
18. Get 200K miles out of van  up to about 150K now
19. Write 3x to female soldiers
20. Join a nursing home ministry visited n. home w/ school kids May 2013
21. Teach more art camps at home
22. Host 3 game nights with friends
23. Get my hair cut by Mario (8/25/12) not worth the cost
24. Find a new church home  (been attending the same one since Dec; not sure it's home)
25. Sell the Victorian organ
26. Replace all carpet in LR, hall, and Bras
27. Get new mattresses for the boys
28. Make a guest room when SG moves out 
29. Make a hobby room when S moves out (guitar room)
30. Write a song
31. Send 24 greeting cards (Christmas doesn't count) (12 to date)

32. Design a set of 4 songbird greeting cards (1 chickadee 8/5/12)
33. Paint flowers A to Z
34. Give Daddy my first landscape painting (for his birthday ,Nov 2012)
35. Choose the new mailboxk  (installed 4/26/13)
36. Design the remodel of the kitchen
37. Walk 26.2 miles a month 3x
38. Ride a horse
39. Test drive an Audi A6 or A8  (tested and bought A4)
40. Host international students for an American holiday
41. Have a personal or mini-retreat w/ praying friend(s)  (4/27/13)
42. Troll around in a boat on a lake
43. Get piano tuned
44. Learn to draw 3 animals well (horse, bird, golden retriever)
45. Brush up on my Russian  --(No longer important)-- Instead, help produce a good yearbook
for the school
46. Visit TX and NM relatives *there, not here
47. Read a biography of a martyr
48. Get my tooth implant done
49. Start Joel's school memento book and do up thru grade 5
50. Develop the rest of my old film
51. Do J's baby scrapbook
52. Buy B&D's wedding photos
53. Frame and hang wedding photos
54. Take a drawing class (10 weeks, fall '12)
55. Read Battlefield of the Mind
56. Help S set up her new classroom (8/7/12)
57. Serve my three friends who have MS in a meaningful-to-them way (one passed away; sent my son to help another to do yard work/junk removal)
58. Make a pie crust from scratch
59. Sew two new family room pillows  Sewed 2 (Bonnie & Sarah)
60. Fast from the computer on Sundays, at least 7 times
61. Teach Reilly a new trick (play hide-n-seek with tennis balls I hide in house, per Andrea, 10/12)
62. Get zoom lens repaired    replaced June 2013
63. Make Christmas stockings for everyone (made 4 thus far: B,D,St,A ...12/12)
64. Clean out one drawer a month (kitchen junk 1/14/13, FR 2/13, SG's 3/13, DR 4/13)
65. Sell, give away, or repurpose old entertainment center
66. Organize all important phone numbers and addresses (11/1/12)
67. Play the hammered dulcimer
68. Have a mega-cooking party to serve singles and/or the sick (Mama, post-op, Sept 2012)
69. Get mammogram again
70. Serve a military family in a practical way
71. Go on a school field trip **Franklin Institute, Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit
72. Shop for master bath fixtures w/ hubby
73. Take an elderly or non-driving person to the polls to vote in Nov (offered, none needed)
74. Take a Chinese cooking class w/ hubby from his cheffy friend
75. Make an Indian dish
76. Host a birthday party for a friend
77. Learn Pachelbel's Canon in D Major on piano (making slow progress)
78. Read through the Bible chronologically
79. Keep a prayer journal with columns (Request, Date, Answer) (ongoing)
80. Attend a horse show, race, or other event
81. Host a ladies' brunch
82. Make a baby quilt  *finished 1  doll quilt, 3 table runners, started lap quilt, started haby play quilt, 
started nursery wall hanging  (all from Sept-Dec 2013)
83. Make curtains for basement in Ravens colors
84. Watch an old home video with the kids
85. Watch Ben's wedding video for the first time
86. Have a conference call w/ my 3 sisters at least 3x
87. Sell the Saab  May 18, 2013
88. Visit Savannah, GA
89. Meet a blogging friend for 1st time in person
90. Exchange 2-3 hours of cleaning for someone  *daughter,  spring 2013
91. Do a Daniel diet (10 days in a row meatless)  Jan 2013
92Complete a women's Bible study with a group   Feb 2013
93. Thank a good employee in front of his or her manager
94. Repaint wicker porch furniture   decided not worth it ; Instead, give front porch a makeover
95. Learn to make sushi
96. Do something scary (face one of my big fears) Packed an evacuation bag . Oct 29 for Hurricane Sandy .
97. Attend a professional performance of the Nutcracker (not professional, but saw it for first time 12/12)
98. Apply for tutoring job at local college (writing lab) OR be hired by school for art  
was "hired" by an art-for-kids company but so far no jobs; school hired someone else :(
99. Encourage hubby to have Manhood Weekend with the boy for "that talk" on his 11th b'day (I encouraged, but it didn't happen; maybe for 12th b'day?)
100. Do deep purge of the basement storage area (see #96) summer 2013
101. Hold an Ebenezer dinner to recount answered prayers in the last 6 months

Saturday, December 28, 2013

27th wedding anniversary

Today we've been married 27 years.  I like the sound of that.  Marriage takes a lot more work than I ever imagined. My parents made it look pretty easy, so I wasn't prepared for the rocky roads that inevitably every couple stumbles across after saying, "I do."  Nor was I prepared for how intensely satisfying the reflection in the rearview would be, metaphorically speaking.

To celebrate, we went up to Amish country--Lancaster, Pennsylvania last night. We both love the peaceful drive up there. No beltway, just buggies.  No skyscrapers, just farms.  We had delicious, authentic Chinese food at a little place called Hong Kong Garden.  The humble exterior belies the
great food and service within.

We stayed in the Hampton Inn in Lancaster and requested a  non-smoking room with a king bed. Walking to our room, I smelled cigarette smoke.  But the sign on the door and the doors around it said "no smoking."   I tried to ignore it, tried to be a happy wife the whole entire time.  We stepped inside the room and it was better.

It also seemed we chose a night that some youth group was having a retreat. The guys were on our floor, and teen guys don't speak or close doors quietly.  It almost seemed like rough-housing in the hall.  I almost got up and played the mother-away-from-mother part.

The king bed was very comfortable, to be sure, but the smoke? I could smell it, almost taste it on my tongue. I was starting to get a stomach ache, and then a headache.  Paul was not bothered, and since we were all settled in, unpacked, teeth brushed, yada yada, I decided to take my complaint to God.

 "Please, Father, I know you love me and you care about the little things. Please block this terrible smell and put me to sleep."

And my heavenly daddy, my abba, did just that.   I had a great night's sleep.

This morning we found out it wasn't a youth group. It was a wrestling team. That explains everything.

We heard a joke from some probably-Baptists over breakfast (eavesdropping, but not really).

Q: What was Isaiah's horse's name?
A:  Izmee.
Q:  Izmee?
A: Yes. He was always saying, "Woe, is me."  (Whoa, Izmee!)  

After a hearty breakfast,  my hubby humored me by taking me to four--yes, four--quilt shops while he stayed out in the car at three of them.

 In turn, I stayed in the car while he went to Guitar Center.  Together we spent than $15 on our hobbies. (And, I guess I should disclose that he spent ZERO of those.)

We ate at a yummy little sandwich shop called Isaac's in a town called Intercourse. Yes, folks, you can buy a keychain that says "I love Intercourse" if you want to.  We didn't.

Intercourse is just down the road from Paradise. In case you want to google that, it's not far from Point A to Point B.

When we got home, our daughter (who had stayed overnight with our middler) had surprised us by doing a makeover on her dad's guitar room! And  her brother's room! Pictures coming.

And we waited to hear if our first son and DIL's offer on their house was accepted. It's a darling little brick rancher with a sweet, fenced yard only a half mile from our daughter!

Selfies didn't happen. I asked hubby if he'd oblige me for one couples' shot by a pretty poinsettia (a flower in my wedding bouquet) but he said no.  It wasn't worth spoiling a good time. Love does not insist on its own way.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Winter from my Windows

Ever write half a post, put it in your drafts "for later," only to find out that "later" is much, much later than you had thought?

Me, too.

I wrote this post two weeks ago and then life at Christmastime happened. I was pinned to my sewing chair, trying to get a little something made for every girl in my family.

Anyway...maybe "later" comes much, much later because I jabber on?

----------------Here goes a two-week old post, but still, I'd rather have it published than sitting in my drafts till summer.-------


Monday and Tuesday were snow days here. Instead of getting the 1-3" called for by the very reliable weather professionals, we were graced with 8" here on our Maryland terrain.

My husband's office closed Tuesday,  and it felt good to have him home.  So he could take it easy, you know.   I was hoping he could enjoy the snow blower we bought at a yard sale last summer from a neighbor about to move away.  That neighbor took meticulous care of his yard, so I assumed he took meticulous care of his yard tools as well. Wrong.   Paul could never get the dumb thing started.

Instead, he relied on a shovel and a strong back.  Simple machine meets most complex machine in the universe.

I sat and quilted all day, but took pictures of the winter bliss from every window.

From my sewing room...

The pure white snow inspires creativity.  It also inspires someone to dig out around my van.

Tall, slender trees silhouetted against a grey-white sky
look dreamy to me. 

From the back bedroom...

No photo editing here, this was the natural sepia tone of mid-morning that day.  I felt like I could just reach out and pick a handful of cotton off the weeping willow.  That is where cotton grows, right?

From the dining room window...

And from the kitchen ...

Reilly, the dog, sees me shooting from the kitchen window.  This is his typical look:  "Wanna come out and play, huh? Pretty please?" look. "I have a tennis ball here. All you have to do is open the door and throw it. I'll bring it back!  Twenty times, that's all.  Please??"

I wanted him to come in from the cold.  He was perfectly happy. God gave him a good, thick coat and he puts it to good use.  

Some dogs actually talk their people into going for walks in freezing weather. 
Reilly is not one of those dogs. 

He has a big backyard and woods behind it to escape to when wanderlust strikes .

And a river   stream  runs through it. 

Meanwhile, as I take pictures from the comfort of my bedroom window, 
someone works hard cleaning all that pretty snow from a steep driveway. 
I thank God for him, and--in a fleeting moment of morbid pondering which happens now and then--I wonder what my life would be like without him. I cannot bear the thought of being a widow. 

I return to my sewing, where the snowflakes I touch are in the fabric of the table runner I'm making for my second daughter-in-law. 

I called this little quilt "Get My Drift?" 

And alas, someone is almost finished his work in the real snow. 

And then someone takes a last photo and puts the camera away to 
resume her wintry weather work from inside the windows. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Brandy on the Old Homestead

This was Brandy, the horse I loved and wrote about a few days ago. I didn't have a good close-up photo handy at the time, so I asked my sister to send one.

Looking at this picture makes me remember with fondness so many good times in that pasture. See the tall pines in the "back forty" (on the left of our fence)?  I remember helping Daddy plant 450 pine saplings. I was 12 years old; it was the summer of 1977, a year after we moved to our three-acre farmette in Dublin, Maryland.

Daddy marked straight rows with rope, I think, and tied a red bandana around a point on my 26" bicycle tire.  How far apart should one plant pine trees that will be some 40-50 feet high at maturity? Whatever that distance was, Daddy had researched or made a well-educated guess, and had calculated how many rotations of the tire it would take between holes.

We joked about how our tree-planting talk sounded like a  mixed up mantra of what to do if you're ever on fire.   Instead of "stop, drop, and roll," the bike-pushing/hole-digging/plant-placing routine became "roll, stop, and drop."

The memory of that day is sweet; Daddy was so patient, loved to work, enjoyed the math, relaxed in the great outdoors, got to be with his girls doing something productive. The quintessential conservationalist, engineer, and father.

When the saplings were three years old, they were tall enough to be Christmas trees. That was fun to pick our tree from our own property. Of course we never cut them down; we dug them up, and after Christmas, if the ground was warm enough, we'd help  Daddy replant it.  One year the ground was so frozen in early January  that Mama decided to keep the tree up until the American hostages were released in Iran.  

Funny how one photo can bring back a flood of memories.  And how the smell of a pine tree at Christmas makes me feel like I'm 12 again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Call me a Comet, not a Vixen, in the Hodgepodge

 I only got 4.5 hours of sleep last night and have been busy on this second snow day of the school year.  Think I can answer some of today's headier questions?

Giddy-up!  Giddy-up! Let's go!

1. Are you doing anything special to mark this season of Advent? If so please share.

Sadly, no.  When the older kids were little, there were several years that we celebrated Advent.
I would give anything to have video of them reading passages from the Bible by candlelight.  I don't know why we abandoned the tradition, but I remember it being a tradition that took a lot of energy on my part to initiate and perpetuate, and I found myself feeling (and sounding) like a whiner instead of a worshiper about the whole thing.

2. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...and of course you recall, the most famous reindeer of all...so, which reindeer name best describes you this week? 

What a creative question. The answer took some thinking.

I hope I haven't been a Vixen (according to definition #2 listed there).  I think I've been pretty easy-going.   

I'm going to say I've been Comet,  feeling like I have  had a universe of ideas in my head and going so fast you only see my tail as I pass through your atmosphere. .  Okay, that's quite a stretch. And  a hilarious image to me and anyone who knows me.


3. What's worse-too quiet or too loud? Which have you had more of lately?

The only time "too quiet" bothers me is:

1. when my children got that way when they were little, meaning they were up to no good, or had gone missing, or were choking

2.  when there is tension in the air and I feel like the one who's in trouble

3.  when I'm alone and feeling lonely

As a general rule, I can't stand things (or people) being loud.  But my house is not too loud.  What noise happens (Ravens games on TV, hubby playing guitar, son making a video, texts "binging" on my phone)  I tend to like it.

I have probably had too much quiet lately.

4. This question comes to you from Zoanna over at A Penchant for Pens-thanks Zo! 

When you are administratively gifted, how often do you find yourself not trusting less gifted people to do what they've committed to do?  If you are not so gifted that way, but are reliable, how do you feel when the stronger person (in that area) goes ahead and covers it before giving you a chance to come through? 

You're welcome! Thanks for using the question that had arisen from my real life.

Depending on the situation, I can be the administrative type (and I've had to be as a teacher) but I am definitely not what I'd call gifted that way.  A gifted administrator, to my way of thinking, not only knows how to "keep all the ducks in a row," but also how to delegate with wisdom and grace. Part of that is knowing how to graciously ask for help, how to make the instructions clear, when to give guidance, and how to let creative and independent workers do their part without steamrolling them.

I am definitely reliable. I don't say yes to commitments quickly; I make sure I can follow through, and once I give my word, I keep it as much as humanly possible.  However, I am neither fast  (remember NOT a comet!) nor particularly good at having my ideas vetoed or my work scrapped in mid-completion by administrators who didn't make their expectations clear or who had said "Do what you want" when want they really mean is, "Do it my way."   Most of the time they want to take the credit for everything and none of the blame.

If someone delegates something to me, but then goes ahead and does it after I've WANTED to do it and SAID I would, then I feel disrespected and wonder if that person doesn't trust me.  What an awful feeling.  Communicate, people! No matter whether you're a leader or follower, a good admin person or a helper needing her hand held, by all means stay in touch!

5. What is your most dreaded task relating to the holidays? Your most looked forward to holiday task?

I dread the deeper cleaning  required (i.e. using Comet three times in one day in three different bathrooms) since our home is the hub of the family events nowadays.

It starts before Thanksgiving. In fact, I was so fatigued from cleaning for Thanksgiving that I didn't enjoy our day as much as I would have if I had had a cleaning lady.  I don't mind cleaning, but not when the to-do includes shopping (more bags), wrapping (more mess), baking (more dishes), hosting (more administration), and so on.

Most looked forward to? Gift exchanges! I love to give and receive!

6. Facebook has released its list of the 'most talked about' topics of 2013. Pope Francis took the number one spot.  Does that surprise you? He was followed by election, royal baby, typhoon, and Harlem Shake. Your thoughts? What was your most talked about topic in 2013? (Facebook, around the kitchen table, or wherever it is you talk)

In my own little corner of the world, it was my son's wedding was talked about every day from January till June, and then quite often mention until August and several times since then.  On Facebook, around the kitchen table, at the hair salon, in the car, at church, in Bible study, at the grocery store with total strangers, at the bank, at my quilt shop, on my blog, you name it. A child's wedding is a pretty big stinkin' deal.

7. What's something you consider a necessity that others might view as a luxury?

A professional pedicure.  I know I could live without them (and I went a year between them until about 2 years ago)  but I tend to get painful starts to ingrown toenails if I don't.   It's not the nail trimming I enjoy, but I love the foot scrubs and massage part of it, plus the smooth feet and pretty toes that look good for the next 6-8 weeks.  I can't get close enough to my toenails to paint them well myself.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It snowed here Sunday and Monday, perhaps like it did where you live.  I was admiring the beauty of God's handiwork in white , when suddenly something caught my little eye in our woods.   I SPY an x-ray of a leg.  Do you see it? 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Please Pass the Butter--and the Baby

This Thanksgiving we were all most thankful for the new addition to the family, this darling baby girl.   She is my niece, but in some ways, feels as close to what I imagine a grandbaby could feel like to a woman my age.

We hosted our gathering the Sunday after Thanksgiving in order to get everyone here who wasn't already "taken" on Thursday.

My sister thought I said dinner was at 1:00,  not 2:00.  Hence me in my cooking shirt and apron.  And hence me with hardly any makeup on.   "Get self ready" was on the list for 1:30, not 12:30 !

I was trying to make Joyce's corn pudding:

Let me tell you, once that baby showed up, I was highly distracted.


What should have taken five minutes to prepare ended up taking 25.   Measure the sugar. Hold the baby.

Pass her to her cousin Joel,  who (despite the hair that he insists is "cool" and not too long) is a cute 11-year-old.

Especially when he talks baby talk.


Crack the eggs.  Wash hands. Hold the baby.  The baby who is getting hungry just smelling the food in the oven.  Hungry humans can get fussy, can't they?

 Pass her off to Uncle Paul.  We call him the Babe Magnet.

Something he does  seems to calm all the wee ones. Maybe it's the thinner air up in  his arms.  

The ittle socks that look like shoes with socks, are they not the cutest?

See her darling Ravens outfit?  The onesie was made by my DIL Dee. 

Here's how it looks in the back.  Dee sewed that purple ruffle on by hand. Adorable, huh? 

Not to mention her adorable little hand touching Uncle Paul's big hand. 

Add the creamed corn, sprinkle some nutmeg on top...

Pass the sleeping beauty to Dee.


My daughters-in-law are going to be such  good mothers.They love children and all that goes with taking 
care of them.  

When baby woke up, Jordan was happy happy with her cousin Ben. 

My son, my firstborn, where have 25 years gone? I remember when you were this little! 

Now look at you. Look how your hands fit all the way around your baby cousin. 

You know I'm thinking it looks a lot like practice....

 "My turn! My turn!" Pass the baby to Ambrey, please. 
Ambrey kept the spit-up cloth mighty close.  Baby girl is so slobbery. Must be close to teething time. 

Speaking of teeth and drooling, 
let's eat, shall we? 

Joel took the camera and--scrunching as far back into the corner as he could--snapped the panorama of people
for whom were are all grateful. 

 And my, oh my, aren't we attractive when we aren't quite prepared for the snap of the shutter. 
I'm thinking Joel just wanted to make sure his big brother's face got into the picture, no matter how far away.   Or that his mother regretted the only picture of herself at the table.

I wanted to say "take another one" (and maybe I did) but the family was all about eating, not posing. 
Oh well. 

After all, there was turkey, stuffing and corn pudding to chow down on. 

We also needed to celebrate a very special someone's 79th birthday.    Here he is with all his girls.
Well, not all of them. Two couldn't be here because of a little thing called airfare.

It's bittersweet to wonder, "Is this the last year Daddy will be here?"   I want to hold onto him forever.

Mama said, "I want a picture of my two granddaughters."   For 24 years years, Sarah has been the only granddaughter--and hasn't minded.  Nor does she mind at all sharing the spotlight with Jordan.

My girl and my sister's girl.   

 Three generations... A mama, her baby girl, and her baby girl's baby girl. 

And that was about the time baby wanted to be passed off her daddy. There was a nose to play with. 

And then Ima needed another turn holding her. Please pass the baby again. 

You are getting verrrryyyy sleepy. 

And I don't just mean the baby. 

Joyce's Corn Pudding

Before I forget, or lose the link, here is the delicious recipe from Joyce which I made for Thanksgiving for the very first time.  My only regret is that I didn't double the recipe. We had 12 people here.  There were no leftovers, and I really wanted some!

I copied and pasted this from a comment she left on someone else's Hodgepodge.

Joyce's Corn Pudding:

2 T sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 (1-lb) can of creamed corn 
2 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
dash nutmeg

Mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add milk stirring until smooth. Add eggs, corn, butter, salt. Turn into a 1 qt baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Set the dish uncovered in a larger pan of hot water. Bake at 300 for 1 3/4 hours. I have upped the temp and shortened the baking time without any trouble. I think an hour at 350. It sets like a pudding. It's yummy!

I  (Zo) baked it at 350 for 70 minutes and it was perfectamundo. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Fallen Comrade in the Fall

In 1979, when I was 14 and my younger sister 12,  our parents bought us a horse. A chestnut Thoroughbred-Morgan. Her name was Brandy, and my sister had fallen in love with her at the stable where we took riding lessons.

Gentle, beautiful, smart, strong, Brandy was the kind of horse that every horse-loving  girl dreams of growing up with.  (Andrea's first word as a toddler was "horse," which came out "wuss.")

Brandy was  really Andrea's horse, as she was the best rider, most attentive caregiver, and wannabe
cowgirl.  Every day from March till November, as weather permitted (and  sometimes even when it didn't) Andrea was in the saddle, trotting or cantering her, making her jump without balking (something that unseated both of us a couple times).

Fifteen years passed.  Our parents had encouraged us to follow our dreams, and for the most part, we did.  At our Thanksgiving table in 1994,   just after we sang the "Happy Birthday" song to Daddy and Andrea,  she made an announcement: she had joined the Air Force. She would be heading to Lachland AFB in Texas in early January.  We didn't see that coming.

During a tearful heart-to-heart with her a few weeks into December, I asked her  her biggest fear about joining the Air Force. Was it that war might break out?  That she'd crash a plane?  That one of our parents would die?

No, none of that was on her mind. Her biggest fear?  That Brandy, then 25 years old,  would die while Andrea was gone for four years.

Eleven months later,  in mid-November of 1995, Brandy was struck  with a neurological disease that made her unable to walk a straight line. Instead, she took wide steps to the left with her hind legs, followed by her front legs.  Literally she was turning in circles in the pasture, in the sort of pain and confusion that horses can't really tell you.

Andrea flew home on emergency leave when my parents called to tell her it seemed critical. That was just before her birthday and Thanksgiving,

She had to be there for her beloved friend and to make whatever painful decisions had to be made after speaking with the vet.  If there was one thing no one could bear, it was to watch suffering that seemed to have no end in sight. No medicines, no therapy, no amount of rest or change in diet would help Brandy.

Her last days in our pasture would end as they had begun--by her being coddled and cuddled.  She had no appetite left-- wouldn't eat grain from a bucket, nor hay from a bale.  My children's eyes filled with tears . "Why won't she eat? Why can't she walk straight? Why does she keep holding her back foot up like that?"

I suggested maybe Brandy would eat baby carrots or apples from their hands.  Ben and Sarah ran to the house to ask Ima for those special treats. Their soft-hearted grandmother pulled some from the fridge, gave them a rinse, and loaded a mixing bowl. The children ran back to the pasture to see if Brandy would eat for them.

Sure enough, the old mare nibbled small orange carrots and small red apples from their tender palms.
Brandy blinked slowly. Her big, brown, shiny chocolate eyes seemed to say, "Mmm. Perfect. Thanks for loving me."

I could hardly bear to watch Brandy's erratic ambling.

To see her turning in wide circles, as if she were trying to get away from pain--real or phantom, in her left hind leg.

To watch her stop and gaze wistfully at the barn, and then turn her head toward the pine trees in the "back forty," as if looking for  the comfiest place to die.

To feel my sister's heart breaking into a thousand tiny pieces all over windblown leaves under a crisp blue sky.

To  know that my little sister with whom I played countless games of Cowgirls and Indians, was now  preparing to bury the horse she'd galloped in open fields. When watching an old western, Andrea didn't mind riders getting shot, but she would cry her eyes out when a horse went down.

Soon Andrea would be hearing taps in her mind, a tribute to her beloved steed, her fallen comrade.

Andrea stayed up very late that last night, all alone in the barn with Brandy, lying down with her, holding her around on the neck. Inhaling her unforgettable beautiful aroma, hearing her shallow breath in her ear as she stroked the soft grey muzzle.

"Goodbye, dear girl. I love you. You're the best.  I'll ride you in heaven someday."

Andrea awoke at dawn the next day, checked the barn and found Brandy still alive. She returned to the kitchen and made oatmeal on the stove for her horse.  That was our mare's last Thanksgiving meal before the vet came.

My dad and Andrea buried Brandy in the back forty on our farm, where her bones and soul rest deep under a kaleidoscope of leaves, pine needles,  and earth. She joined many of our other four-legged family members, but her death  carried much more finality.  Her death not only marked the end of a life, but the end of an era.


I wanted to give a nod to Brandy in my quilted table runner,  as a way to remember the joy she gave us to the very end, and also the pleasantness of late November when we celebrate Andrea's birthday, my dad's birthday, and our many other blessings.

Sorrow and joy, pain and elation, like the mixed beauty of autumn colors, somehow come together around everyone's Thanksgiving table. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Depleted, so Deleted

I had an entire Hodgepodge post written, but my answers were too blunt. They are exactly how I feel right now.

Negative. Forceful. Ungracious.

They could be words I regret someday.  I kept trying to edit and rewrite them, but still smelled a stench of arrogance and hypocrisy in my answers.  Truth stinks sometimes.

 I even hit publish, but in the end, thought better of keeping my very strong opinions out there. Who needs to know what I think about selfies, Christmas cards, or the struggle I have with trust?

Some writings, like some feelings, need to be expressed but not in a public forum.

Perhaps I'm depleted of energy, gentleness, and love today. This is not good. Not a good time to post.
A very good time to hit the "Delete" button.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Fall Rail Fence Table Runner & Veggie Turkey

  Having never made even one table runner,  I decided to make two table runners this fall--one for the kitchen table, and another for the
dining room table.

I started with these fabrics:

The kitchen table runner became this one, which is the Rail Fence block design known by quilters everywhere .  I chose to use some of the solid tones and accentuate the espresso brown and gilded brown leaf print. Decided I also liked the homespun red plaid mixed with the bright pops of red, orange, yellow, and green batiks. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child. 
It also takes a whole box of pins to keep a binding on tight before sewing. 

 I sewed this binding on by machine.  Was pleased with the first half, 
but kept having machine problems with the new electronic Janome.
(Or, more likely, operator errors.) 

It kept stopping after two stitches, as if it didn't like multiple layers.

Switched to my older mechanical Kenmore. It did the job without a complaint, 
but I will not 
show my corners here. Ugh. Let's just say I have more to learn about
mitering corners. Not as easy as youtube videos make them look. 

I could not decide on a good color thread to quilt the runner with,  and was using the quilting method called stitch in the ditch. 
(Straight lines in the seams.)  So I ran to Joann's and picked up some invisible thread. 
Think fishing line. Think very forgiving to novices!  

I had forgotten my swatch of 
binding fabric, so took a guess. 

I kind of impressed myself with that guess. 

But the runner did provide a festive  backdrop to this veggie turkey platter
I  saw going around on Facebook. 
I cut up the celery and my youngest son did the rest. 
Quite a sacrifice, considering he gags on the smell of celery. 


That was my kitchen table runner. The other one is coming up next. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ethel Answers a few Questions in the T'giv HP

An old  lady named Ethel came into my life last night. Read my answers, but know that she is tackling #8. 

Thanks, Joyce ,for serving up a tray of good questions once again.  (And by the way, Joyce is not the old lady. Let's be clear.) 

1. Are you settling for something?

It would seem I'm settling for just treating my blog like a weeklong Hodgepodge hangout. I really MUST do better.  Now that my camera is back in business (long story),  and with a family gathering just around the corner, I think I can revive it soon.

2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

I'm totally against making Thanksgiving a shopping day.  They should start calling it "Thanks. Gimme."    I will not be among the shoppers, and in fact, I stay put on Black Friday, too. I just don't get into bargain hunting enough to fight the traffic and crowds. It starts the Christmas season all wrong for me.

3. Speaking of shopping... I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-

New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul. 

Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?

No, I've not.   But if I could choose, then Vienna, but not for the shopping, per se.  More for Vienna itself.

4.  When did you last dine by candlelight?

Romantically? I can't remember. However, I often light a candle on the kitchen table and eat lunch by it.  Sorta counts, right?

Who am I kidding? I guess I'm settling for a tuna fish sandwich and a pickle when I 'd much prefer
shrimp alfredo and a Caesar salad in an Italian ristorante with l'amore de ma vie.

5. What do you have too much of?


6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan?  Did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?  No spoilers please!

Contrary to what I presumed, I actually DID like the Hunger Games movie. Did not read the book, but helped my son do a diorama of it last year. He liked the book so much he is going to see Catching Fire with his big sister tonight!

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what...especially the what! As in what's for dinner?  If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't ya know!), then still tell us your plans for Thursday. 

Thanksgiving Day: home, just the three of us, vegging out and/or getting ready for Sunday when the family comes over.
I'm looking forward to having all the kids, their spouses, my parents, and my sister, BIL, and THE BABY!!!   She is a show-stopper, let me tell you! Forget the sweet potatoes, pass the sweet baby girl this way!  The term "just want to eat her up" comes to mind.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Got a phone call last night, 9:30.   An elderly woman named Ethel  was on the other end.   I guessed her to be in her 70's, with a sweet southern accent. 

Me: Hello?
Her:  Oh, hello, honey!  You must be the one the charity told me about! I am just so excited...
Me:  Charity?
Her:  They said you signed up to bring someone a Thanksgiving meal if they called you. Well, they gave me your number. It's just so kind of you ...I was sure not wanting to spend another lonely Thanksgiving by myself.  Bless you for offering to bring me a meal!
Me:  Um...I am...not sure...
Her: What's that? Please speak up, honey. I can't hear you very well. 
Me:  Um,  well, I ...  I don't remember any charity...do you mean church?   

(I'm trying to recall saying something in my Bible study about having Thanksgiving Day free and ....the homeless...or something...Nothing's coming back to mind .)

Her: You just have no IDEA how much this means to me.  Do you like candied yams? I could make some. 
Me: Yes ,I like them but.....  
(I'm thinking I should ask her to come Sunday when the whole family is here....do I want to rearrange all my plans for one person?) 

Me:  I think you have the wrong number. 
Her: (she pauses, and when she speaks, sounds heartbroken)

Her: They gave me this number and you sound so nice, honey. You CAN come Thanksgiving to keep me company, CAN"T you, honey?  Why it would really mean so much to me. 

Me:  (thinking now this is a trick of one of my dear sons...certain as the seconds tick away...)

Her: Speak up! I can't hear you. 

ME:   (looooong pause...waiting for the punch line)

Her:  And by the way, could you also bring an enema and some rubber gloves with you? It's been one of them weeks, ya know? 


Yes, indeed, my oldest son punked me.  I texted him and he said, "O, did Ethel call you? She's lonely and looking for someone to spend the holiday with. Glad you can keep her company."

Thanks, son.  You rotten, rotten apple!!!!  Good thing you're CUTE!!!!