Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 Is Almost Gone

 Christmas vacation has been truly restful for which we are grateful. The days leading up to our vacation were anything but restful with a grandson in the hospital for a week and everyone of us needing to be at two places at once. By the time Friday before Christmas rolled around; I was having trouble figuring out what day of the week we were on.
   So here we are Tuesday evening after Christmas having had hours of hearth time playing games, eating too much food, working on a John Deere tractor repair just as his fun project in Elv's case, and reading Richer By India in my case.
    I have also been thinking about my blogging and where to go from here. For Christmas Elv got a year of blogs printed in a book for me. A year makes 139 pages of my own writing and photographs on glossy paper in a hard cover book. I have nine such potential books! Full of unedited writing: our life, my discoveries, home making, work, family story, pictures and scrapbooking. What a big mess. I need to stop creating this impossible mountain, or "let it" as they say in Nebraska. To do something more disciplined and intelligent with all these words. Oh, what shall I do?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Days 2017

 Tis the Saturday morning before Christmas. The house is clean, the gifts are wrapped, and our music those same familiar carols again.
Tomorrow morning we will sing Christmas songs with a full chapel of homecoming family groups. It will be lovely worship and fellowship.
We have already, two days before the Day, gathered up some memorable events that will always belong to this Christmas memory. Our grandbaby, Rian, is on his way home from a week long hospital stay. He had croup. That's really all it was. But we are all deeply grateful for the expertise of doctors and nurses with their tools and medicine. Every breathe being a gift is much more than a thoughtful saying... now. It is a truth newly appreciated by those of us who walked and thumped and rocked the baby to help him cough and keep breathing.
Home means more after the confines of a tiny hospital room even though we had a beautiful view of the harbor. It's just not the same thing as being home where strangers knock before entering nor do they suit up to come in. Home is so nice. Not sterile. Cozy. No tile. At home we have hygge.

 This Christmas I've been thinking more about Elv's parents and Christmas Past. Dad gave me this horse and sleigh thirty years ago. We used it every Christmas for a candy dish and decor and then it kind of fell out of favor because it became so grungy and unhappy looking, just grey-like. I kept it because Dad gave it to me, but felt ambivalent about it.
    This year, Mom lost her short term memory, so she is free to relive the old memories. It's been frustrating for us who live in the "now". We're learning to follow her back and visit about those old memories. We are hearing of things in her past we didn't know before.
   At any rate, I decided to restore the horse and sleigh. In vain, I tried to find a new horse. At last I decided that Dad must have actually bought a Barbie Doll horse. I don't even wonder what Mom would have said about that at the time. So before going further on that hunt, I filled the kitchen sink with warm water and a squirt of dish soap and gave the whole thing a bath.
    It's still a bit tattered, but some of the original white came back so I deemed it usable and precious after all.

 Brad offered to do the chalk boards.  I let him do whate'er he wished on this one and here you go. The other one had to have a line from one of my favorite carols. We all need that thrill of Hope.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Scribblings

 The season of Christmas is here. It's the time for Christmas letters and cards coming in the mailbox every day. It's fun to get them. It's not so fun to make one for all of your mailboxes. This year we had Amy's boyfriend take a picture of us and I have only just now ordered a box of twenty cards with envelopes accordingly for sending out. Twenty are not enough, I know. If they're nice I'll order a few more.
   It's also the time of year when stories of other Christmases come out. This year I am reading Myra Scovel's collection of Christmases they had during the years they were missionaries in China and India. We live rich and boring lives by comparison. I'm not complaining though. We have had our share of Christmases that we could hardly afford, too, not like theirs, but always full of wonderful memories.
    We made Christmas cookies, a bit early, but it was nice to have a tray of cookies handy to take along when we visited Elv's family this past weekend.
      Elv and I traveled down to Sparta to meet with his family for a birthday supper and to visit his elderly mom. It was an extra special weekend to me because I got to spend travel time with Elv alone. And because Brad and Amy were having a regular Christmas-y weekend with youth: a formal banquet just for fun with their large group of friends from church and neighboring churches, and volley ball on Saturday. And because the Graber gathering was quiet and interesting with just Elv's siblings and spouses. Sometimes it's nice to just have the old folks in our lives together. Things come up in the conversation that wouldn't otherwise when we are just us.
   When we arrived at Mom Graber's apartment there was our niece, Lorinda, keeping house, cooking, and making sure we were all comfortable. She was there basking in all the presence of Aunts and Uncles, too, but mostly she wanted to spend time caring for Grandma Graber for a weekend. And we loved having her there. Besides I especially love visiting with her. She has affirming her family and friends down pat. Thank you, Lorinda for our good weekend.
     On Sunday morning we tuned in to listen to Lorinda's husband preach.  "Sometimes we are so stuck in the past, our faith expects nothing new." A.Dexter
   Elv and his brothers reminisced with Mom quite a lot. Mom's short term memory isn't good at all, but it makes the old memories much more available to her for us. Twice, at least, they talked about The Alaska Trip. This memorable family trip was taken in 1967 in a pickup and camper. There were all sorts of interesting details about the trip. I wanted to see the photographs, but among the whole row of carefully labeled and dated albums there were no pictures of that event. We asked Mom. She seemed a little puzzled about this, too. She suggested that Uncle Vernon had them, since he was the camera person. (Gin if you're seeing this question, I'd love to hear from you about the photos.)

 Back to cookie day. The little boys did firewood chores for Grandpa because he promised them sled rides after supper accordingly. There are no pictures, but I'm sure the tradition will live on. Winter in Wisconsin at Christmas time has to be the best time of the year for making happy memories.

How about a
                         List of Cookies We Made
~ Buckeyes
~ Raisin filled cookies
~ Frosted sugar cookies
~ Linzer pepermint cookies
~ Peanut butter blossoms
~ Jam filled cookies
~Gingerbread cookies
~Monster cookies

And it's time for Christmas music everywhere. The mall music is sadly silly and pretty awful most of the time. I have no idea why but they're playing the spiritual, Oh, Happy Day along with I Saw Mama kissing Santa Claus. Very strange combination. Someone has a rather messed up idea of good Christmas music.
    This year I am enjoying the song, I Heard The Bells.  Here are the lyrics for you. By Casting Crowns. Yes, it's a new version of an old song. And no, I don't generally enjoy Casting Crown's type of music, but this one is very nice.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace
Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men
And the bells they're ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)
And with our hearts we'll hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (peace on earth)
The life the angels singing (peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

After I posted this I saw that Three Green Doors had already commented on this song in her latest post. I had no idea, please forgive me, Luci. You said it so much nicer than I did anyway. amg

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Peanut Brittle

 Last night I decided to make peanut brittle. With the right ingredients and a recipe I figured it can't be that hard. Who needs a candy thermometer anyway! The first batch burned. Too hot from following directions too precisely. My own common sense was better for once. I took the kettle off the burner and carried it out across the snow in my stocking feet and dumped it sizzling into the woods telling Ruger to leave it alone unless he wanted a burned nose.
   Fortunately I hadn't wasted the peanuts on a burned batch of sugar and white corn syrup, so I courageously started over. This time I stood there and watched the kettle using my eyes and nose to judge. When the wooden spoon lifted out of the hot bubbling syrup produced hard crack strings I added the peanuts and salt. In a very short time it started boiling again and soon it was ready to pour into a foiled and buttered half sheet pan.
      So I am foolishly pleased about my successful attempt at peanut brittle. May cookie day with the girls tomorrow be just as successful.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Saturday Evening In December

 At the end of a busy week this place in our little old house is welcoming.  I have been thinking all summer about how these hickory rockers would serve our family perfectly. Now there will be plenty of seating when the house is full.
Besides, they are low and wide enough for elbow room for laptop work or for curling up in by the fire on a winter evening.
     At the end of the week I have a list of accomplishments.
     ~ Using my stepladder and a bucket of warm soapy water; I washed the outsides of the living room windows. Warm weather this week allowed for a little more fall work after-all.
~ One day I went over to Lisl's house to help out in her lovely new kitchen: dishes and floors and then a big pot of cheeseburger soup. The small diced carrots, celery, onions sauteing with parsley, basil and butter made for some good hygge. Rennie and Havilah wanted to see the pretty veges so I lifted them up one at a time for a glimpse.
~ We gathered up the lot of our small collection of Christmas decor: nativity scene, pine, baubles, and a few other odd treasures. Can't make it seem like anything much this year. We don't like glitz. Not a Christmas tree either. Just some rich red and brown and sparkle with pine satisfies entirely. The two black rockers with the red cardinals and a plaid blanket thrown over the back of the other is also perfection in winter decor. Does a cabin need more?
~ Listened to music all week. Christmas music.
~ Worked in the mall store and in our own store here at home, too. Pleasing customers was a joy this week to me. They're Christmas shopping, so they are thinking of their loved ones and what they will like. How many times did I hear them say to each to other, "Let's get this for Mom." I concluded that us moms like small pretty things with true meaning. Just listening to my customers with their minds off themselves and their own troubles. I saw teenager siblings seriously considering how to please family members. Once a young man strolled through our kiosk with a baby on his arm, the baby's blanket over his other shoulder. He was completely unconscious of how different he was from most of the other young men walking the mall.  So I saw a lot of tattoos and metal in odd places in faces, and strange clothing, but inside all of those trappings are real people with real families and Christmas is coming for them, too.
~ We celebrated Clark's 34th birthday this week with gift cards for L&M and Texas sheet cake and ice cream. No candles, but we sang for him.
~ Some of the church men pulled out the old carpet in the dining room at church and replaced it the following evening with new laminate vinyl flooring. Then a couple of the girls cleaned and did some seasonal decorations. Amy and Tim refilled the big flowerpot outside on the steps with pine and berries and birch.
~ Elv came up from his study for a small break from sermon work to share with me a flash mob video he enjoyed on utube. I like flash mobs, even those so obviously staged. It's an amazing side benefit of internet media that we can find a commonly known song and play and sing it with strangers impromptu. It reminds me of Heaven when we shall sing the song of the redeemed together. Everyone there will know all the words and the music by heart. It will be the most amazing experience ever!

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