Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Art of Growing Up

There are very few original thoughts in the world, most every subject has been covered somewhere at sometime and this is no exception.
When I read something profound, I want to mull it over, squeeze the truth out of it and look at it in its most basic element. I am ever so grateful for this thread of wisdom...
On the yahoo group I belong to, French Chic, there is a thread that started from one person reading a quote in the book Entre Nous, the quote is from Edith Wharton stating that the French woman is "in nearly all respects, as different as possible from the average American woman. The French woman is grown-up." Ouch......
My mind went into overdrive thinking about this. Thinking about different cultures where maturity is respected and valued. The adults are indeed grown up. If you start to think about this seriously, you can put together that our culture practically worships youth and our youth are the least respectful of the elders in our society. Could there be a connection ? I suspect so. Perhaps, we just are not worthy of respect since we don't want to grow up. I have found myself saying many times, " I don't want to grow up" and I mean it, but now I am thinking that this mentality is cheating me out of the very wonderful aspect of finding value in the life experience I have had. The lessons learned that have made me different from some 20 year old. I know at my age that you can live through some pretty tough things and come out better for it. I have gained wisdom and I should love that and not want to hold on to the ways of youth where experience in life is so limited for most.
I believe in maintaining enthusiasm for life, and wonder at all around us, but maybe there is a time to act grown up. I think by avoiding being grown up I have cheated myself. Cheated myself out of something very beautiful, that element of sophistication that is beyond attractive, it is something people stand in awe of. Sophistication comes with age and it brings with it respect.
My mother and Grandmother were not youth worshipers, they took on the role of adult women with pride. That didn't mean they were not fun or stick in the mud type ladies, but they walked into a room and you knew from the moment you laid eyes on them that they were in control of themselves and could handle any situation with grace. They had everyone's respect. They were grown up.
We cannot be valued for what we do not have and I feel enlightened today about this subject, thanks to some very wise women on the French Chic list. I used to sing, jokingly but with conviction too the song from Toys R Us, " I don't want to grow up, I want to be a Toys R Us kid" Well, today, on the eve of the new year, I do want to grow up, finally.
Put away the childish things that don't serve me anymore. I cannot keep the past and shouldn't. Growing up and being wise allows a person to march on and be where they are meant to be and be beautiful in that moment. Holding on to youth is like trying to hold grains of sand, how much better to let the sand fall and walk in it with a head held high, looking towards the next step in life with an air of sophistication, with all its beauty.
I saw a woman in Wal-Mart last night and she was gorgeous...chic to the hilt. She was in her 60's, wonderful figure, dressed in a black pant suit, hair perfect, shoes were perfect, jewelry, simple but lovely. She was not trying to be younger than her years, she had the essence of sophistication and thinking about it now, the thing that made her stand out even more than the way she was dressed, was that she was grown up and you could tell that. She wore on her face the beauty of experience. I actually followed her down the isle, she was beautiful and yet wore the lines of age, the very ones our culture wishes to erase. She was radiant. I just knew people respect her. Next to her was a woman about the same age with a pink tee shirt on and yoga pants, the shirt had something written on it. The woman had a cloth shoulder bag on and some sort of print socks, with her a teenage girl, no doubt a grandchild and the child was talking rudely to this woman. No respect at all. The grandmother was trying to tease the teen out of the foul mood, playful like and although this pink tee shirt clad woman was actually prettier than the other woman I wrote about, you saw beauty in the first woman that came from a personal grace that went far beyond looks and yes, it was that she was grown up.
This new year, I intend to grow up but maintain my enthusiasm for life. I used to quote Katherine in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun when she quoted the maestro, regarding embracing life with childlike enthusiasm, but to think of it, Katherine was rather a pathetic character in that movie. So leaving off the childlike part and just being enthusiastic from where you are is no doubt the best.

last nights sunset

Friday, December 29, 2006

Very Frightening Day




We just got home from the tornado shelter. The sirens went off this afternoon at 3:50 pm with a tornado expected at 3:58 pm. At the city storm shelter, most of the people there formed a circle and joined in prayer for protection from the tornado, and by the grace of God the tornado went back up, passed over our town and touched down just outside of our town.
We are still under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. so we have everything handy should we have to leave home again. We had some hail the size of ping pong balls. You could hear it beating on the small windows at one end of the shelter, which is the basement of the woman's dormitory of the University down the road from us. It was so stressful being there, wondering if our homes were in one piece.
Melanie and Casi were at our house this afternoon watching the weather reports on TV and then went to the shelter with us.
Melanie and I were shopping today in a neighboring town, we decided to leave around 3 this afternoon and got home just 7 minutes after a tornado touched down right where we had been shopping.
We heard about it on the car radio, just as we were pulling into Melanie's driveway.
Steven said he saw a funnel cloud come out of the sky but later went back up. When he went home today after work, he had no electricity and he said it was pretty stormy, so he and Priscilla went to his place of work. What a frightening day.

Looking down the road from the University
Emery holding a small piece of hail
Inside the storm shelter, men watching the storms approaching on the tiny TV

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Ramble from yesterday

There is a chill in the air and a blustery wind blowing . The sun was setting, filling the sky with pink clouds and pink vapor trails from jet planes, making the sky look like a giant etch- a- sketch.
It felt good to be outside in this kind of weather. Its invigorating. My hands were pink from cold as I shot a few baskets at the old worn out basketball hoop, the very same one that the boys played with for years. I got 10 out 15 shots.
The whole time I was shooting the basketball I was thinking only about making the basket. Feeling positive and shooting with intention. When I quit playing to lock up the chickens in the hen house for the night, I took the time to look around. They sky was beautiful, baby colors. Pink in a blue sky. The moon half full and glowing white.
It was difficult to stay on task. There was so much to see. Birds flying from here to there, something moving in the woods. Clothes needing to be pulled in off the clothes line, but I wanted to explore.
I was thinking about yesterday morning on my way to the store, iced over puddles, cows with great puffs of steamy breath, tall grasses sparkling with frost. I was thankful I had chosen the country road, well, the most country road. It takes a while to get to any city in this area and for that I am very happy. The city is not my favorite place. A few hours in the city is enough to last me a couple weeks.
It was fun wandering around as this day turned into night . The chickens all comfortable on their perches. The cats curled up in hay bales. A candle in the window drawing me into the warmth. The clothes all taken down from the line, smelling sweetly clean and feeling soft from being beaten by the wind of the day. Smoke from the chimney, curling towards the back of the house, scenting the yard with the smell of burning oak. Just another perfectly simple day on the homestead.

Last night it was hard to get my pictures to load so I gave up !

Yesterdays sky at sunset, with the moon tiny near the middle of the picture
One of our chickens, she was hoping I had some treat for her

Tomorrow we are expecting blinding rains, high winds, hail and a bad thunderstorm. Thats Texas for ya !



Our "Herd" of Cats




Aya watching Tuk Tuk as he heads off to a tree, ready to pounce on him if he misbehaves
Tuk Tuk loves to have his picture taken and will pose for me.
Ling Ling looking so sweet
And old man Smokey laying in the grass next to the rosemary.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Spring in Winter



Nature seems a bit confussed and things are blooming in my yard. Our cottonwood tree has buds also.
The first picture is of some little weed blooming in our front yard
Wisteria putting out tiny buds
And my paperwhites blooming as if it were spring.

Christmas Day





What a delightful Christmas we had ! A day filled with fun, laughter, good gifts and lots of love. Only one thing seemed wrong with the day and that was the fact that Melissa and James were not here with us.
How much we all missed Melissa. We talked several times on the phone, but its not the same as being together.
My family showered me with delightful meaningful gifts, each present assuring me that my family knows me well.
Today I was brave and went shopping for 50% off wrapping paper and Christmas cards for next year.
Just so happened that all the Hello Kitty ornaments and Christmas decorations were 50 % off too, so had to get some for gifts for next year.
The stores were not crowded, making shopping fun. A quick trip to Starbucks made the morning extra special, thanks to a Starbucks gift card I was given.
Tonight Emery and I met Melanie and Casi in the store where we all looked at baby beds and all sorts of baby equipment.
She needs everything but clothing for the baby !
What fun to be preparing for this new baby and another grandbaby a few months later.


Emery discovering Santa gave him Tabac, the cologne he wore when we first met.
Melanie and Casi, looking cute as ever together
Steven and Priscilla working on uploading pictures onto a digital key ring my sister gave them
All around the table, ready to eat.
Yes, I am the camera person so no shots of me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve From Our House to Yours



On this Christmas Eve, we prepare to celebrate a very special day. A day of family, of love and of hope. Hope for many blessings of the coming new year.
We are so blessed this year as a family. Two of our children found and married their soul mates, making complete that our children have all found great and abiding love in life. What more could parents want for their children !

And now we are expecting two wee ones in the coming year. Yes, two...can you guess the parents of baby #2 ?
Our year has been so full, we have felt blessing after blessing poured out to us. We have been touched by wonderful friends and dear family. We celebrated 28 years of marriage, and can only say that our love has grown more each and every day.
Christmas has become a consumer holiday, often times forgetting what the man stood for, whose birthday we celebrate on this day. A man of peace and compassion. It would be a wonderful gift from us to give what he taught us to give. Love, unconditional love.
This night as the fire casts copper reflections on our floor, warming both body and soul. A night when the tree is lit, and candles glow, we wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Merry Christmas,


Patty and Emery

Our dinning room table this very night.

True Bayberry Candles burning brightly, with the hope for a new year filled with good luck as is the custom from colonial days, they will burn down to the socket of the candle holder tonight.
There is a little saying from days of old that say... " a bayberry candle burned to the socket puts luck in the home, food in the larder, and gold in the pocket."

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Merry Christmas to Each of you, and on this Christmas eve, I wish to share with you my all time favorite poem. May your lives all be filled with love, hope, compassion and the real meaning of Christmas !








Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Our tree last two years ago

Annike peaking out of her barn

Melissa, her first christmas, 1980

Melanie, age 5

Melissa in Massachusetts age age 2 1/2 years old

Melanie with Santa, the first year she liked him, age 3

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Practice

Melanie and Casi stopped by this afternoon and Melanie decided to check out just how nice the new pram is. The pram got pushed around the living room a bit. She was getting ready to go home, so that is why she had on her coat and hat....it wasn't that cold in the house : )
She just looks so cute and happy, but then I might be a bit bias ! We are hoping to find out if I should be knitting with pink or blue yarn by the first or second week of January.

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup “Smart Balance” butter spread ( I used Earth Balanace, I really like it)
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used Sucanat)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
10 oz. package chocolate chips
Fat: 4.1g
Carbohydrates: 18.2g
Calories:110.1
Protein: 1.5g
1. Mix together Smart Balance and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and continue mixing. Slowly add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a wooden spoon, mix in the oatmeal and chocolate chips.2. Cook at 375° F for 10-12 minutes.Makes 3 dozen (36 cookies). One cookie equals one serving.

Not sure where this recipe came from, I has it in my recipe files, but I sure like it. The cookies are fantastic. Moist, chewy, and not the least bit heavy. Next time I make them I think I will use 1 cup whole wheat and 3/4 white. I used not so healthy chocolate mint chips, its what I had in the freezer !



Thoughts on a Winter Day



Maybe its my age. Maybe its all I have seen in life. Maybe its just a general weariness from watching the way people in need are ignored in the world. Homeless people seem invisible to us, starving children on the t.v. don't seem real. Asian workers in U.S. territories living and working in slave like conditions making things we purchase without a care of how they were made. It doesn't have to be this way. And Christmas time is a good time to make some changes in how we all see things.
Young families just starting out with so little. We might say it's good for them to do without or shake our heads when they use a credit card to buy food. Maybe we should pay their bill when we see them take out that plastic. And just tell them to remember to pass it on some time in life.
All of us know that "all beginnings are hard" so why not help out.
Does it even matter if they mismanage their money a bit ? Did you ever do that ? I did.
When our first child was born and we lived on less than $5 an hour income (I stayed home when we had our family, so we only had one income) my mother, of blessed memory, would do food her shopping and stop by my house with a couple bags of food. Telling me, "these were on sale, two for one, so I picked one up for you". Mercy and compassion. We need to love that much. And not only our families, but our neighbor, our fellow humans, no matter where they live or how they live. Compassion is an amazing teacher.
Maybe this morning I am remembering the ideals of youth, or perhaps its being reminded of the message of Jesus this time of the year since it is the time we celebrate his birth, and we celebrate it in such a huge way because of his greatness and his humble life....
I thought since so many in the world are preparing to celebrate his life, it might be a good idea to share what he stood for, what he taught that made him so great.
No matter what religion you are, there is great wisdom in the things he taught. I often wonder what kind of church would come from just using the words of Christ and nothing else. It is my thought, that you would see a very different type of church than what we see now in the world.
I am no fan of how the churches twist and turn the words to make them work with their personal agendas, justify their lofty ways or how they emphasize a word of Paul to make them feel higher on the scale of righteous beings by comparing themselves to those that don't do this or don't do that.
As I sit here typing this out, I wonder if Jesus stepped into my living room today, what he would think about my way of celebrating his birth. A tree, pine boughs, presents for my family, cookies, etc. I suspect he would like to see acts of compassion from me, given to others more than all the glitz. Gift giving is an important aspect of Christmas and has great value, when done with modesty, and moderation and not forgetting to give of ourselves all year long.
Perhaps, he would understand this celebration of his birth if I had given compassion in his name to those in need, along with the other gifts I have given.

On a personal note, I am not so sure I would be thrilled to go to a birthday party for me, and it was celebrated by giving gifts to everyone but me, but that is the very human side of me.
So here are some of the things he said to us, let us not forget the teachings of the man we are celebrating this week. Let these words direct our actions and our thoughts....

Matthew 5:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies.

Matthew 6:
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.

Matthew 19:
21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Our Light

Holiday time brings out the best in people. Folks give more, have more compassion on those less fortunate and seem to remember a bit about the message of the birthday boy.
The world seems to get caught up in daily living for 11 months of the year. Forgetting that our real purpose in life is to end the suffering of others.
As humans in a world that is no longer small, we should consider how we live our life. Is it for our pleasure only, or to make the world a better place ?
Actually I believe the greatest pleasure, the greatest joy comes from living a life that reaches out to others.
This is what letting our light shine means. It doesn't matter what religion you are, compassion is the root to most of them. We no longer live in a small world, its global. All of us know what is happening to people all over the world. We know about AIDS orphans, starvation, genocide and so much more. Happening to people with all the same emotions we have. Yes, this is an idealistic thought, but what would the world be like if we all lived simply, and shared all our excess with those in need. What would this world be like ?
This type of compassion is what Christ, Buddha and many other religious prophets spoke of.
For me, this holiday season has prompted me to look beyond this one month of kindness and seek to reach out 12 months a year.
Believe me, this is for my own heart.
How many silly things do I buy or want, when I don't need them, or shelf them after a few months time?

The new x-box costs $300
what does $300 buy to end suffering in the world and in your neighborhood .......

A months heating bill in winter for an elderly neighbor.

A months worth of food for an elderly couple.

It would fill 75 $4 prescriptions at Wal-Mart for a person with no health insurance.

$300 would purchase an entire Christmas dinner and presents for a single parent family

3 billion of the worlds poorest people live on less than $2 a day. Many on just $1 a day. So $300 would last 150 days for so many of the worlds poorest.

Through Heifer International, $300 would purchase 2 goats which would provide a family with plenty of milk and enough to make cheese with for the family and some to sell for clothes and school.
For $500 you can give a heifer to a family, providing 4 gallons a milk a day. Or four wool producing animals that will allow a family to weave or knit countless warm items for the family and for income.
http://www.heifer.org/

Malaria kills 3,000 children every day, treatment is cheap. A simple bednet that will protect a person is something like $5. $300 would by nets for 60 people.

I could make a list a mile long of what $300 could do for those in need. Baby clothes for a young mother, blankets for those on the street and on and on.

Lets work to make our light shine, and share what we have, wanting less and sharing more.

The end of my bayberry candle burning today, ready to put a new one in on Christmas eve.




For the Love of Home




This morning I gave myself permission to just stay home and pitter patter around the house. I had an appointment with my trainer for a workout session, but I felt less than energetic. Not sick, but not rearing to go either. I just wanted to stay home all day long.
Its nearly 10 in the morning and I am still in my pajama's. The fire is glowing, some favorite music playing on the stereo, Loreena McKennitt's CD Book of Secrets and my all time favorite CD of hers, The Visit. I made myself some peppermint coffee, had some toast made with Carrot bread, sat down and just listened to the music. Got a couple ameretti cookies after the toast was gone.
Burned some incense, exotic smells to go along with the music. Ancient sounds mixed with new. A blending of emotions from times past and present.
There is no better place in the world to me than this little house of ours. Its real. No pretending. Its a structure that holds our needs and our love. It doesn't own us. It doesn't require more than we wish to give. And it isn't giving any impression we are more than we are. One thing I love about this place is that its old and has a history. I was thinking this morning that it has experienced 91 Christmases. It has no doubt seen babies born and people die. It has held laughter and tears of 9 decades. That is really not long when you consider how old this world of ours is, but its long enough to let my mind fly with thoughts about those who laid their heads to rest in warm beds after a hard days work. And wonderings about the young girls who may have seen their first beau arrive at this front door. And about the family that had the Christmas tree that caught fire and nearly burned the house down. You can still see the charred beams in the attic.
For me, today, its a home that brings a deep and abiding sense of peace and freedom. I took out some colored pencils and drew our old cottonwood, I didn't care that it was not a masterpiece, it was fun and a way to express a connection to the land.
I had time to take touch my fabric stash and decide that today I will sew some and use this and that fabric.
I took out butter to soften, for baking cookies later. Simple freedom. I guess you might say it comes at a cost that some are not willing to pay. The cost, simplicity and no show. No fancy extras in life. But I am not fancy so it works well.
Pier and beam foundation that connects us to the earth with floors that creak and squeak. Low ceilings and old doors. When the house was built it had just three rooms. At some point two bedrooms were added on and a bathroom too. The bedrooms have slopping ceilings that are low and no where in this house is a closet bigger than 3x4 feet. And for the whole house there are only 3 closets. Simplicity comes at the cost of not being able to show off. I see that as a good thing, but not everyone does.
There are folks that won't come to visit us simply because we live out in the boonies in a small old house. It makes me smile. I don't hold it against them, just lets you know what they value you for. When we had the big new house they came to visit. Behind the walls of our little house is peace and love so deep it makes me sob to think about the power of it. Sob because its so deeply profound, joy so deep you can't put it into words. Emotions so powerful they overflow at times and fall to the earth in sparkling tears.
This little house allows us to concentrate on the things that matter to us. Its the same thing with our car. It works great, its old and looks like it has a skin disease as the paint is doing some odd peeling and fading. It has nearly 200,000 miles on it, and is a whopping 15 years old. But it works wonderfully and it hauls hay bales and feed sacks. It has a inside roof that is scratched and peeling from hauling trees that now shade our land. It carried 4 children on many long trips with room to spare.
Way back in 1990 a friend of mine had a Taurus wagon just like what ours is, even the same color. I loved it, and said it was my dream car, well not really my dream car, that is a Volvo station wagon, but this Taurus was good. Here I am with one now. I love it. Emery keeps it in perfect running condition. Its not bad on gas mileage either. So why get a new one ?
So today I am taking you around to see what I am seeing here at home. Wood smoke drifts up to they sky as though reaching right up to heaven. I can feel that too. A connection to something much bigger than we can understand fully in this life. Today I feel like it would suit me just fine to never have to go beyond our land.

Christmas cards, coffee and cookies
looking down the hallway from the kitchen to the living room
just fun drawing a picture of our cottonwood tree
My rocker by the woodstove

I am grateful for:
Sunshine and clouds too
Rain and snow
Daughters that share so much with me
A son who calls every day just to say hello
A husband that is forever and always
Good son in laws
A delightful daughter in law
Cold mornings and warm socks
The smell of incense
Books
Music that stirs the soul
Feather beds
Quilts that comfort
Knitted hats that cover bad hair days and keep you warm
Good chocolate

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Tonight a bit after sunset here, it officially became winter. To me Winter Solstice is always such a pleasant occasion, as winter is by far my favorite season. A time to hibernate a bit and enjoy the warmth and coziness of home. To do baking, knitting, and spinning. A time to wear my woolen shawl and home made wool socks.
To prepare for holidays and take the time to show appreciation for those we love.
I am fighting off a cold tonight, during Tai chi I felt hot and cold, my lips felt like they were burning and my eyes were watering. My bones achy.
Came home and did all my herbal remedies and took a nice long nap. Colds and flu are just part of the season, but I sure am going to fight this one off. I hope to win !

Picture of the late afternoon sky yesterday, taken looking east from my garden.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tonights Sunset


Some pictures just don't need words !

this picture was taken off my front porch

A Christmas Goose, just where she should be

The ducks and geese were enjoying the wet weather today. They even seemed eager to pose for me.
I love the way the colors of the landscape come alive when rain has fallen. In a span of about a hour I took over 100 pictures today. Its hard to pick just a few to share with you all.
I was happy to be able to get a fairly good picture of a bird I am not familiar with so I could hopefully identify it from one of my bird books.
Today was a keen reminder to me that the simple beauty of nature is one of the most soothing visuals we have available to us.
It didn't cost me a dime today to have hours of enjoyment and pleasure. The walk was good, the air clean and invigorating and the scenery breathtaking. Simple pleasures.

I am no fan of eating a goose, and would much rather see them walking and squawking then on a serving plate. Much rather feed them, then be fed them.

Perfect Decorator





I have been held in awe of the skyscapes of the last few days. This morning we woke to rain, wind and chilly air.
On my way to the gym, my heart filled with delight at the changing clouds in the sky. They were breathtaking in their subtleness. No flashy colors, just muted shades of gray that ebbed and flowed as if they were an ocean of clouds. You could pick out the painted waves of a Japanese woodblock, or the pencil drawings of winter skys in a favorite book.
I had to stop at the health food store and instead of hopping out of the car, I found myself sitting there, gazing out the car window, mesmerized by the shapes and the softness of the sky. There were some clouds that were a bit puffy, but orderly. There was something familiar about them, but I couldn't think of what it was, then it came to me, they looked like my Grandmothers curls. Soft and full of those wonderful colors of aging hair. White, gray and true to form for the times, they had a touch of that purple-blue that came from some silver bottle of tint, so well known to the older generation of that time.
These simple clouds made me feel so much. With my eyes closed, I could feel the touch of my grandmothers hands, the feel of her soft curls, the sound of her voice and the remember the love between a Grandmother and Grand-daughter.
To be truthful, I felt lost in the moment...only the car door being slammed shut in the next parking spot brought me back to the present.
I shopped for what I needed, and headed to the fitness center for my training. I did push ups today. I real accomplishment.
After my workout, I headed home, praying the clouds would stay so alive, yet so much like snow on rolling hills. Walked in the door of the house, greeted by the chill of a house with no heat on, but grabbed my boots and camera and headed out the door. So much to see. I was not disappointed by my walk. Skyscape, ever changing, like masterpieces on a conveyor belt before my eyes.
Holly with berries so bright. Tiny white berries appearing on the mistletoe, perfect for harvesting along with the arrival of Winter Solstice. Ducks swimming, others grooming. Water rippling in the gentle wind, the air chilly. Feathers in the grass, tiny green plants holding fast to the earth.
If it had not been for the chill in the air I suspect I would still be wandering.
Now at home, fire burning brightly, a cup of hot Pero next to me and a warm woolen shawl around my shoulders, that feels right too.
Nature astounded me today with its beauty. Colors, shapes, sizes, form and a blending that is an example of a Masters hand.
Ahhh, a perfect day.

The clouds today

A Feather,

Mistletoe with its white berries

Holly Berries

All taken within 2 miles of my home

Silence

It is a long way off until the day breaks. Early morning silence prevails and graces this new day with time to think, time to reflect and time to listen to each heart song.
Outside the window, the pinkish lights of the school playground, although a mile away, these lights color the fog heavy sky with a hint of color. The now naked limbs of the trees standing dark against this man induced color sky. I am fascinated by the way the branches appear to be reaching up, like an old mans hands, full of veins and thinness. Its difficult to take my eyes off them, they are waving in the wind, but not gracefully as when there are leaves on the trees, now they appear more jerky in motion, less fluid. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we speak of old age as being the winter of life. The beauty is there all the same, maybe even more so. Less is hidden.
I love the morning silence. It gives way to deeper thinking, evaluating ones personally philosophy is possible when sitting in silence, gazing out the window.
This week I feel a bit like Scrooge. It weighs heavy on my heart the total commercialism of the holiday season. It seems so over done, so over the top with decorating and buying. Gift giving has been reduced to what is easy and takes little time. I long for that Little House on the Prairie experience of gift giving. Hiding carefully planned, home made gifts.
The heavens just opened and rain is falling in buckets from the sky. The silence of the morning is gone. The view out my window now appears to be behind a curtain of water. Nourishing rain so good for the parched land. A gift, this rain is. Much in keeping with the theme of this little blog entry. A gift given, that is needed, wanted and well planned out I am sure.
Life is short, said so often, this little phrase is, but it is true. Went to a funeral this week, a dear friends mother passed. Her gift to her loved ones given in wise words to her children, in kind deeds, in always being a lady. Not in the once a year gift giving of Christmas . The point. This year, think about the gifts you are giving all the time to those you love. You, who you are, what you are. Your wisdom that you impart, the joy you radiate, the peace in your heart, those are the real gifts.

Its time for me to cook breakfast, another gift to the man I love. A real meal, nothing boxed or packaged. Something taken for granted at times as food is, since its done daily, but still, its my gift to him to take care in what I put together, how I present it and how it is done with joy.

The wind has blown in with fury, makes you shiver. Time to get that stove going good, its a cold wind.

Please consider giving the gift of compassion, unconditional love, and joy, inner joy that just tumbles out of you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Being Willing To Learn

The last week has shown me something, a lesson right in front of my face, proof too of its importance has been obvious, now the question remains...am I willing to learn from this.
Most of my adult life I have known about eating healthy and from time to time I practice healthy eating. Seriously healthy eating. Often times with the zeal of a missionary, but then I fall off the wagon, loose my enthusiasm and drive. No, loose my discipline, that's what it really is. The other factors are minor. I am not disciplined.
Please, never think I am being hard on myself when I say how I see it , because that's all it is, not guilt, remorse, just facing the facts and that allows me to learn. I am willing to learn, willing to see where I go wrong. Willing to put priorities back in line.
This past week I have eaten things I have not been eating for a long time, due to their negetive affect on my body. Things like potato chips, onion dip made with sour cream and dry soup mix, salty things and things made with CORN SYRUP, the goop that really messes up our insides and sugar in amounts I have avoided for a long time. I am feeling different from eating less healthy, less vigorous and certainly more stiff. My fingers even have swollen. My energy level is not the same either. I feel draggy and slow.
So will I learn from all this ? I hope so. Will it inspire me to eat more carefully ? I hope so. Will it increase my discipline ? That is up to me.
Tomorrow I will bag up the sugary things and the foods with preservatives and decide what is the moral thing to do with them.
Once again my drink of choice will be water, my snacks, things like nuts and fruit. I loose weight when I go healthy and stay away from sugar and processed foods. I am not hungry either. My energy level comes back full and strong.
I wonder just how many times it takes for me to learn a lesson when the answers stare me square in the face.

Another hot cup of Chai is in order, its getting really chilly out. Not so much because of the low temperature, but more from the cold damp air that has greeted us here in North Texas.

Oregon Chai is my favorite chai that is premade. When I make my own, its usually the first recipe on the web page listed below. Its fantastic.

Good Chai Recipes can be found at
http://www.odie.org/chai/recipes.html

Flowers in bloom on my front lawn, nature is confussed from the warm weather we had. The flowers smell so sweet. A special blessing on a rather dull day.

The Fog of a Winter Afternoon



The warmth of the morning gave way to the chilly air arriving from the north, the result was a thick fog rolling in and hiding the earth.
It seemed forever morning, never getting lighter than what is normally early morning light.
Of course I had to head out with the camera and grab some shots. The local duck pond seemed the perfect place to go and much to my surprise seagulls were everywhere. We are 5 hours at least from any ocean. They soared over my head, so close I could almost touch them. From the time I was a child I loved watching seagulls and have had them eat from my hand many times.
The ground was wet, and soon my shoes were soaked but I cared not. It was invigorating and the air made my skin feel soft and youthful.
I could have stayed there all day feeding ducks and watching the gulls but it was time to head off to tai chi. On the drive to class, the fields looked like moist golden hair. It took all I had to keep driving and not go wandering the fields. I did stop to take a couple shots near the fitness center. It was just too pretty to pass up.
Its cold now, bone chilling damp. The wood stove is crackling and sending its golden glow around the room. Soup, simmers, filling the house with tempting smells of vegetables and spices.
Hot spicy chai warming my hands as I sip it from my favorite mug. Outside chores all done for the day.
It really is a perfect night to snuggle up and watch a good movie.

There is talk on the news about the possibility of snow or ice on Christmas eve, I will hope !

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Around the House





Here are a few pictures that I took today around the house. The first two are of the living room taken from one end and then the other end of the room. The next picture is of the guest room.
I will take some more pictures later. Since the house is all tidy from the party, its a good time to take some pictures !

Sunday Blessings

Soft music, the gentle kind of music that makes you feel content with life... the view from the window as I sit and spin at the wheel makes ...