Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Morning

Oh how quickly December is passing.  There are still more gifts to be made, time enough though to do them and baking to be done and still a bit more decorating.  I seem to decorate our bedroom last, every year.  I suppose thinking, that if it doesn't get done, not too many folks will know.   There are still flowers blooming in the garden.  We have never had Angel Trumpets in bloom this late in the year but we certainly are enjoying them.   The mistletoe in the tree tops are full of berries this year.  We will cut a few and hang them for kissing in the doorway.   How I love the dark mornings, I really do.  I light the candles and enjoy a hearty
breakfast, watching the sky lighten and the sun rise as we talk of the days plans.  We linger with that second cup of tea, enjoying the moment far too much to rush from the table.   The simple life is not a rushed life, even if the "to do" list is long.  There are no trips to the mall, or mad dashes to stores.  Our Christmas lists are filled with old fashioned planning.  Come to think of it, its been years since I have been shopping at a mall, I suspect the term, decade would suit just fine.   I never did buy into this massive Christmas shopping idea anyway.  A few well chosen gifts, that don't cost an arm and a leg is how we do it.  Never could imagine going into debt for gift giving and I sure would hate to think that someone went into debt getting me something.  Expensive gift giving for some folks is little more than a "look at me" type of thing. I said, some folks, not all.  In the olden days, it was a simple gift that meant the most.  But through time, we seem to have bought into the marketing schemes, hook, line and sinker and forgotten about being moderate when it comes to gift giving.   I look back on old family photos and wonder how things have changed so much.
Christmas, @ 1944 for a large family

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Saint Nicholas Day

Despite the fact that we no longer have children at home, we still put out wooden shoes on St Nicholas eve, hoping to find treats in them in the morning, provided we were good all year long !   We decided to each use one of Emery's wooden shoes, after all they are pretty big !   I must admit to looking through old photos and finding one of all the children's wooden shoes lined up waiting to be filled and feeling a bit sad that those days are gone, as if they didn't last long enough for us.  Time passes by so quickly.    How grateful I am for the grandblessings to daily remind us of the joy and preciousness of childhood.
We have so many friends that have gotten older and no longer enjoy the holidays, no longer decorate or care to remember the delight in picking out that special gift or seeing packages under the tree, even if they are just for one and you had to buy them yourself.  We all deserve to have fun and experience delight and the simple joy of looking at a decorated tree.  I still love finding a stocking filled with goodies on Christmas morning, even if I did purchase half of what is in there LOL.   Just because we have aged, and felt loss or pain, there is still plenty of reasons in life to have fun and keep awake those feelings we had as children during the Christmas season.  Treat yourself with love and never loose that sense of joy and delight that comes from making your holiday bright.  

Friday, December 04, 2015

This World We Live In

The news is so horrible these days.  Fear can grip you and squeeze you to the core, when you hear about all these shootings, so totally random.   You can find yourself wondering if you should go here or there.  No place seems beyond the reach of hatred.   When I start to think about all this, I tend to step back a bit further into our quiet life and be an ostrich for a while, completely happy to have my head in the sand for a bit.  To reaffirm in my mind that I was born a couple centuries too late.   To yearn for a quieter time, to mourn for the olden days when we had not even heard of the terms we use so often today on the news and social media.   This morning I had breakfast by candle light, as if to chase away the modern world.  I had my oatmeal in a pewter porringer, old and worn as if I could mingle the oatmeal with history.   We all need a respite from the insanity that rages around us.   I am reminded of the verse I love so well, Psalm 91:4   He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
We all need a time of being under His wings.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Child In Me

Christmas time is my favorite time of the year.  It wakens that inner child in me.  There is excitement as we head out to get the tree and decorate it.  On the first day the tree is decorated, we light the candles that sit on the branches in their sparkling silver holders.   The house is filled with the scent of pine and spices from the garlands of apples tossed in cinnamon and from the oranges, poked with cloves.    
The chill in the air invigorates me and has me going at top speed as I work on all the presents for Christmas.  We never have bought into the materialistic side of Christmas, but have always kept it simple.  Never spending large amounts for a gift or supplies to make a gift.  This year I have opted to make almost every gift we give.  I like the idea that the entire time I work on the gift, I can think and pray for the person I am making it for.  Perhaps that "Little House on The Prairie" episode where everyone was so busy making gifts for Christmas had a big impact on me.  Maybe, I am just old fashioned.  
The holidays should not be about spending more than we can afford, or even for feeding into all the "wants" of our children and grandchildren.  Its about so much more and that seems to be getting lost in the black Fridays, the cyber Mondays etc.   Keeping it simple, keeps us far less stressed.

Monday, November 30, 2015

For the Love of Red

It is no secret that my favorite color is red !   Today my sweet husband came home with red carnations for me, because I have a cold.  I set the coffee table with my red dishes and enjoyed some Irish soda bread and chamomile tea while enjoying the beauty of the flowers.  Red berries outside by the front porch. Red shawl and barn bonnet just waiting for the first snow.

The Beauty of Life

This morning as I sat in the chair by the window, knitting, with candle flame flickering and wood stove popping and snapping, I thought about this quote, by Tasha Tudor,

“Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is. Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!”                                How true those words are.  There are hard things in the world around us and yet, we wake each morning to see the clouds float above us in story book shapes, and hear birds sing to us in songs that gladden our hearts.  For me, I had a wonderful weekend with all my family beside me, hearing childhood laughter, the sound of happy running feet down our long hallways and squeals of delight.  There was laughter around our table and thoughts on all that we are thankful for.  There were pies to be eaten and mounds of mashed potatoes that looked like small volcano's on each plate, spilling gravy as lava.   There was no distinction as far as love goes, between in-law and not in-law.  The love is the same.   My heart nearly burst having so many hugs around my neck and hearing, "I love you Grammine" from each grandchild.  My children are such blessings and my husband, well, to be honest, there are not adequate words to express the love we share.    Today the house is quiet, but the joy is all still there for me.  The deep contentment, the profound satisfaction in knowing my life is so full.   Many years ago, we made investments in time, energy, and lots of prayer to raise a family that would bless us and the world around them.  It had nothing to do with money, or how many toys they had, or what brand name clothes they had or in our case, did not have.  It had to do with the things money cannot buy, love, patience, joy, imagination, gratitude, sympathy where needed and appreciation for the natural world.  It is a privilege to be alive and experience so much joy and peace.  It is a joy to be alive in a world so full of beauty that can be seen easily, is looked for.   Life is good.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Are We Thinking Less ?

Modern life seems to be all about "Doing".   Social media has played a part in this, since we post about all the things we do or about what someone else thought for us.  We take on peoples thoughts without much thinking ourselves many times.  "Oh that's good". Or, perhaps we see something and the thought comes into our head, "wow, that should tell them what I think" but does it really say what we think ?  We seem to be bombarded with other peoples thinking.  The commentaries after the news, the shows that are all commentary, and social media is loaded with tid bits of commentary about every subject matter there is.   Its wonderful to be informed and I love that aspect of how fast news travels and how small the world can seem in relation to world events, but its easy to loose our own thinking time and just instantly hit the "like" tab and take on someone elses thoughts on a subject, without giving the old gray matter much work at all.  One thing for certain, its not easy to think things through on a deep level when we have the television on, or a DVD etc.  Even good music, is a distraction from the fine art of "musing" about this or that.   Quiet if fertile ground for fine tuning ones philosophy in life or deepening your spiritual life.  We all need time and quiet, to put together the pieces of what you have heard, read and digested to come up with something that belongs just to you.  I love being busy.  I love "doing" and I am one of the most guilty for posting things on social media of what I just did, etc, but I am also aware of how this constant status updates of our lives, seems to take something away from us.  Moments of sitting by the window, just looking out upon the world, thinking.  Or those marvelous moments we pause from reading a book and just muse over what we just read, digesting it, slowly and seeing how it fits into our lives or if we feel the same way.   
Even in a simple lifestyle we can get caught up in all the status updates of how simple our lifestyle is.   Its a ll about balance in this life, but I think, that is nothing new.  The new part, the modern part is simply one more vehicle to take us down the most traveled road.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The room is scented by a mix of cinnamon and the homey smell of a fire burning in the stove.  There is a chill in the air each morning now and I love it.   Each morning I am up long before the sun to work on Christmas gifts for the family.  There is knitting and sewing going on each day.  There is doll making and candle dipping in between.  How I love this time of the year.  Holiday preparations are on my mind as I sit by the window sipping chamomile tea.  A little break from the busy-ness of the day.   There are baskets with projects in all the corners of the living room and some spilling out from the corners as they find their way closer to my chair and the light from the window.    This simple, somewhat old fashioned life we live, gives me a sense of contentment that is deep and full of joy.  Life is good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life is Good

Things have been busy around here lately, well, actually its almost always busy around here because I like to stay busy.  But, perhaps this time of the year, that busy-ness gets upped it a notch or two with thoughts of Christmas around the corner.  I like to make as many presents as possible and this year, I am making about 90% of the gifts we are giving.  Which means, if I don't want some sort of mad rush towards the week of Christmas, my hands are busy from the first of October.  One major project is done and wrapped and I am on to the next, but in between, I decided to make a couple of quilts for me.  A small machine pieced quilt for the cradle, which all the grandchildren still climb into, the bigger ones squeezing in with laughter, and then a quiet contentment that often leads to an unplanned nap with bent knees.   The second quilt, just a simple pinwheel design, with fall colors.  That one may not be hand quilted until after Christmas !  
We have had a few cool mornings, not cold yet, just cool.  Cool enough to motivate me to clean the wood stove and blacken it for another season of heavy use.   I love all the preparations for winter, its the New Englander in me.  Knitting hats and socks, and sweaters in the evening while Emery and I sit together chatting about the day and our plans for the future.  Its almost impossible for me to sit for very long without having my hands busy on a project.  
Cold season has arrived in these parts and what a blessing it has been to sip some of the Elderberry juice I made this year from our very own elderberry bushes !  Not only does this juice taste wonderful, thanks in part to a touch of honey, but its a powerful anti-viral, warding off all the nasty bugs going around.  Each morning, Emery and I toast each other to good health as we enjoy a wee bit of the sweet dark juice.    God is good in giving us things from the land to keep us healthy.   Again, "life is good".   

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall Winds

The air is cool and crisp today and I am loving it.  The dry leaves are dancing in the wind and it feels like fall.   The seasons bring changes, not only to plant life, but to me, the way I feel and think about things.  Spring time always motivates me to make changes in how much stuff I have around me.  And, it is a time of motivation for me.  I want to run everywhere and do things.  Summer, well, of late, the heat slows me down, that is until we planned a nice long hiking and camping trip !  Fall time, sends me inwards, thinking about what I believe, what is really important in life.  The falling leaves and cooler weather seems to send me to a place of defining what I believe on the deepest level.  It always makes me yearn for more simplicity in my life, more of that stepping back in time mood, where things seemed less complicated.   I am there once again in my thoughts.  Thinking more about "home fires" burning brightly accompanied by quiet and good smells coming from the kitchen.  There is a sense of preparation for winter, for getting in the wood for the stove, for canning apples and such.  For quilting and getting socks knit for the family.   I love this time of year, no doubt something in my New England genes.  I love the way the shadows of sunshine and shade dance with one another across my desk and how the trees begin to show their "bone" structure.  I want to read poems about home and family and being thankful.  I am content to sit by the window, hand work laying idle on my lap for a bit while I wonder about, what does God really want from us ?  Does television fit into Philippians 4:8? What in our modern world does fit the category of "whatsoever things are pure"?   Fall time sends me to these questions more than any other time of the year, perhaps because I see it as a time of preparation.   Winter will come and that is the time I reflect deeply on life, and where I want to be and what I need to do to become a better person on every level.  Today, the Autumn winds have sent me on a walk, to think, to see, to learn and to listen, to that small still voice that guides us along the way.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life With The "Enhanced" Accelerator Always On

In downloading all my pictures onto the new computer, I grew annoyed by the "auto enhanced" feature.  It kept making my photos brighter than reality, changing the colors, sometimes subtly and sometimes with dramatic results and yes, I must admit, some enhanced photos made me say, "wow"  but at the same time, I realized that if I saved it that way, I would be saving something other than reality.   My phone does the same thing when I am putting pictures on Facebook, automatically enhances the photo.   After getting all my photos the way I wanted them to be on the computer, I started thinking about how it seems that just about everything we do now, is enhanced in some way.  The packaging on items are so often bigger, brighter and more appealing than reality.  Our television sets show life in something beyond "living color" with high definition that takes us far beyond looking around our own living rooms with our naked eye.   Music is enhanced to let us hear each and every beat, with most sound systems having choices into which sounds we want emphasized beyond what we could normally hear.    Our eyes and brains are being overloaded with a false reality.    Television and movies keep us so high paced, the FPS (frames per second) rate keeps getting higher and higher.   Our perception is changing on what is real and how fast life should move.    We can't wait for anything, patience is a virtue no longer in the eyes of most and yet, we hear more and more whisperings about how we have gotten ourselves in such a state, that in some parts of the modern world, Doctors are actually writing prescriptions for time in nature to cure some of our woes  RX in Nature 
Parents are being told that they should MAKE their children go out and play. Sad.  No one should have to MAKE children go outside and play.  I was always being told I had been out long enough and it was getting dark so I HAD to come inside.   We are buying into all this "enhanced" stuff without realizing what is going on.  We are cattle being led to the slaughter of reality.   If you stop and think about your day, your week, you can see all the places where we are moving from the beauty of the natural.  The subtlety of color changes.  The balance of colors in nature.  The ability to hear and see on our own what is real as far as colors, sound, taste etc.  
Real is just that, real.  Its honest, its basic and its good and it keeps us grounded from getting lost in a fake world where we need to be TOLD to get out in nature and be calmed by the beauty and serenity of the natural.     Seek out a place where you can look up and see the Milky Way, just as it is, seek out the mountains, the colors of the desert.  Look at trees as they are, the shades of green, the beauty of tree bark, just as they are.  Walk away from the enhanced accelerator that surrounds us and see things as they are.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Basking in the memories

Since coming home from our camping trip, we have been basking in the glow of so many wonderful memories.  It's been such a delight to look at the photos I took and remembering how much fun we had.   One of the best aspects of coming home though, besides hot, running water and no small tent entry to crawl through each night, is that this trip cost us just a bit more than our usual budget for a month and so we were not burdened with having to pay thousands for the trip and so many folks we know take trips to marvelous places that come with people waiting on them hand and foot and perhaps giving them a taste of how the privileged forks live...don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that at all, its just so often people we know that have taken trips like that come home and feel sad that they have to come back to "reality" where they have to cook the meals, clean up after, and so on and so forth.  Its almost a disappointment for them to come home.   For us, we came home to what felt like luxury.   Hot running water, a soft bed, the simple things like being able to just turn the stove on quickly, have clean hair every day, sit on a sofa and even use a normal bathroom.   As they say, "different strokes for different folks" and I am fine with people taking whatever kind of vacation they can afford, but for us, we like to keep it simple, like our day to day life.   We are already planning our next escape into the wilds, it was just so refreshing and so peaceful, that we can hardly wait to sleep under the stars once again. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"We Took To The Woods"

To quote the title of one of my favorite books, "We Took To The Woods", that is exactly what Emery and I did.  We headed off, tent, and camping supplies in the trunk of the car and we headed for Colorado.   No set time for the return trip and lets just day a very flexible set of plans.  One thing we did know for sure, we needed to get away to refresh our souls.  Emery retired a year ago and was long overdue for a vacation.  He had not taken one in decades, and we never had a honeymoon, so after 37 years, we thought, no time like the present.  Off we went...with our children a bit concerned about their parents going on a road trip with tent and sleeping bags !   What fun we had and memories that will last us well into next year, (we had so much fun, we plan on making a habit of this)   We stayed where we liked, for as long as we liked and forgot to look at watches, and calendars.   Most places we stayed had no cell service but we did manage to check in with the children enough so they would not worry to much.  We stayed at Palo Duro in TX, Great Sand Dunes, Durango, Mesa Verde in Colorado and the mountains outside of Santa Fe.  In all we were gone just over 3 weeks.  By the time we got home, we both were chilled out and any stress that sat on Emery's shoulders from working stressful jobs all his life, melted away more each day.   We hiked, we ate simple foods. Went to bed with the sun and woke with the sun.  Slept in our clothes and only one time did we stay at a campground with showers.  Most times, flush toilets were a luxury.   Never in my life, have I felt so at peace.  Living in the moment was natural, worry and monkey brain, just dissolved away.   
The day we left, our computer died and after coming home, that seemed like a blessing.  I guess we will fix it at some point, but for now, the laptop is more than adequate.   Priorities have changed.   I took about 2,000 pictures on the trip.   We saw so much beauty.   We kept being warned about bears but never saw one, only fresh tracks on the trail.   Our lives have been changed. Simple living, has a new definition for us and one we like a lot.  Life is good and as a long time favorite author once wrote.... "Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail."
John Muir
"Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains." John Muir

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...