Friday, December 24, 2010


"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."  The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg

On this night when reindeer are given the gift of flight, may you hear the sweet sound of the Christmas bells.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Autumn Reading

Today, a little after dusk, somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30, autumn will quietly exit from the stage and winter will make her entrance.   I love winter!  It's quiet time.  The one time of year I don't have to make excuses for curling up with a cup of tea in my hand  and a good book.  Truth be told, I don't ever make excuses for slipping away into a good read (or a bad one for that matter).

While my little guy up there is already dressed to settle in with his winter reading list, I thought I would share my autumn reads.

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
(loved everything about this book)
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
(beautifully written.  It fed the part of me that would love to be a professional student, minus the papers.)
Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman
(This little jewel was a reread.  I forgot I needed to keep a dictionary near)
The Common Reader, Virginia  Woolf
(didn't enjoy it as much as A Room of One's Own)
Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
(loved Sarah's story; found Julia's story weak)
My Reading Life, Pat Conroy
 (I would read anything by Pat Conroy)
The Nimrod Flipout, Etgar Keret
(short stories filled with loneliness.  Not really my cup of tea)
The Sparrow, Doria Russell
(I listened to this while on a road trip.  Who knew I would enjoy science fiction?)
Great House, Nicole Krauss
 (Beautifully written!  Not a book to read when you have a lot on your mind.  I am going to reread.)

I hope you have a fabulous winter reading list.  I would love to hear about it.  Stay warm and happy reading!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gifts from a Child

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."   -William Saroyan

Yesterday  was the last day of school before Christmas vacation.  It was the perfect day for wearing pajamas to school, handing out presents, snacking on chocolate waffles with whipped cream and hot chocolate, and for filling up treat bags with presents. I am always awed with my parent's creativity and humbled by their generosity.

Along with the fabulous gifts my children gave me, I had a present, left in my care, to deliver.  Today I carefully pack it in a box and shipped it out along with this attached note:

 This gift is for you.  It isn't from me or anyone you've met.  It is from one of my children.  L. and her mom made gifts for the class.  When they had finished they had one  left.  B., her mother, ask her what she wanted to do with it.  B. told me that without thinking L. said, "it is for Miss Bonnie's daddy".  She continued to tell me that everynight you and I are in L.'s prayers.

L. is a delightfully spunky little four year old with a mind of her own.  (Remind you of anyone we know:))Trust me - she will ask me if I gave this to you.

So, Merry Christmas "Miss Bonnie's daddy".  L.

Love you Daddy, 

Yesterday I was the recipient of the true meaning of Christmas, given by a  four year old with a loving heart that I don't think most can comprehend.  (Oh yeah, you know there were tears!) 

I repeat, my children teach me so much more than I could ever teach them.

(Note  I first posted this last night.  I pulled it this morning because I rewrote the note to my Dad)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Sentimental Journey

Each year as I toss out the last of  the Thanksgiving turkey, tote the pumpkins back to the potting area, move the mums to some little noticed area of the garden, my thoughts head toward the coming of Christmas. 

When  Heather was home we would make a big deal of heading out to the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving to find the perfect tree.  Later in the day, Roger would carry all the boxes downstairs, and we would begin the decorating.  Roger was in charge of putting on the lights even though I was never short of advice of how to string them around or how many were needed (I always want more, more, more).  Soon it was time to tackle the daunting task of finding the perfect spot for each ornament.  Heather would hang her collection (she always found an ornament in her stocking on Christmas morning) and then help with the rest.  She now has a home of her own with her own  Christmas tree decorated with her collection.   Roger and I  may be a little slower in getting it all together, but our routine is pretty much the same.

As years have passed, I have admired friend's trees that are theme decorated; I have toyed with having someone come in to give me a show stopping tree.  Then I remember the ornament Roger gave me the Christmas before Heather was born.


There is the Santa that came back with my family from Germany.  I was two when we returned home.  He no longer is allowed on the tree, as he  seems to become more fragile each year.  Growing up my brother and I would fight over who would hang him on our tree.   This lovely old man and I are the same age.  I am the fortunate keeper of several ornaments that survived the relocations of a military family, and my brother and I.

There is the Santa Claus I made when I was in kindergarten, made from a styrofoam ball, a triangle of red foil and some cotton,  and, the apple Heather's first teacher, who has become a cherished friend, gave her.  My dear friend's granddaughter is in my class this year.

There is the whale bone cross, a student in Nashville gave me shortly after he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Each year as I take it out of the bubble wrap I pray is well and happy.  It is given a place of honor.

And I can't forget the beautiful Santa Claus my son-in-law gave me the  Christmas before he and Heather were married.  I was overwhelmed with it's elegant beauty and his thoughtfulness.

There is a royal monkey (a gift from Heather), a bear or two, an otter, several reindeer and I am amassing quite a collection of birds.  Some were gifts from Santa, friends, students,  or clients.  Some were gifts we gave each other.  Each decoration has a story about a person, a place or moment in our life.  I don't think I will ever tire of reminising as I carefully unwrap each precious treasure and place it among the branches of the most perfect tree.

I  may never have a "show stopping" tree, but it will always stop my heart for a brief moment one night each December.  You see, it is not a tree loaded with random pieces of colorful glass, wood, paper, dough and maybe some plastic.  It is a record as vivid as a photograph of this family's life and love.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Sunday morning the howling wind, which lulled me to sleep Saturday night, woke me before 6:00a.m.  I could have chosen to pull the covers a little higher and fall back to sleep, but I decided to get up, put on my warmest (not my favorite) robe and head downstairs with Willie at my heels. 

Willie was eager to go outside; I was eager for caffeine.  It was in my best interest to put Willie's needs ahead of my wants.  Once we were back inside I could have chosen to turn up the downstairs thermostat; I decided to turn on the fireplace (yes, I have gas logs).  

With the coffee brewing, Willie and I settled into a comfy chair wrapped in a cozy throw.  My laptop laying on the stool in front of me, my book  on the table beside me, and three balls of yarn yearning to be played with, waiting in my knitting bag next to the chair, it was a quiet morning with options.

Sometimes that is all that is needed to recharge.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Alas, Dear Elna You Served Me Well

My grandmother's sewing machine

I come from a long line of accomplished seamstresses.  While they did not make a living sewing for others, they clothed themselves and their children. They sewed for their homes when there was cloth or money for such extravagances.

I honestly don't believe my grandmother ever owned a "store bought" dress.  The only thing she made for me was the "sunbonnet girl" quilt that covered my childhood bed.  I would give anything to have that quilt.  When I was little I was afraid to sleep in my room by myself.  My mother would lay in bed with me and tell me to pick a girl.  I would select one of the squares;  Mother would tell me the story of the dress made for her out of the fabric.  I would keep selecting squares until I fell asleep.  My grandmother had made the quilt from dresses she had sewn for my mother when she was a child.

Like  her mother,  Mother was quite talented.  Each year before school started we would go to town and pick out cloth for my school wardrobe.  If I saw a dress or outfit in a store window or catalog, Mother would draw out the pattern on newspaper and make it for me.  She made most of my clothes while I was in high school and college.  I ask her to make my wedding dress and she did.   She stopped sewing after she made several maternity outfits for me.

I have to say, I really thought that particular creative gene had passed me.    Mother tried to teach me; sewing bored me.  My freshman year she would not sign off on my class schedule until I signed up for a home ec class.  I started a garment, but Mother finished it; I got an A.  I just could not learn to sew.  And, why should I want to when my mother sewed so well?

Well, Heather was born.  I started playing around on a little sewing machine Mother and Daddy gave me for Christmas one year (just in case I needed to repair something).  I found I actually  loved making little clothes.  

Once I started, I was obsessed (we've chatted about my obsessive personality).  I was at my sewing machine whenever I had free time.  If I was not sewing, I was smocking or working at the local fabric/smocking shop (to pay for my habit).   I pretty much taught myself to sew on the little machine that could only sew a straight stitch, and, with great effort, make a basic buttonhole. 

Many years later,  I was fortunate enough to purchase a brand new fancy computerized Elan sewing machine.  Let me tell you, it did everything.  My sewing went up several levels.  I bought my Elna in 1990.    

This past Saturday I took my machine in to  be repaired.  Something was wrong with the bobbin.  They told me it was probably the timing, and it could be repaired by servicing; they would call me if there was something else.  Well, today while browsing the bookstore I got the phone call.  There was, in fact, a crack in a part that can no longer be found.  I ask what I could do with the machine.  I ask if he would be interested in buying it for parts, or if he knew of someone who might.  He told me this machine had not been popular "in this part of the country".   I was so sad, and my first instinct was to become defensive, but instead told him I would pick it up later this week.

Alas, dear Elna you made me look really good!

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Bird by Bird"

Many many years ago I read Anne Lamont's book, "Bird by Bird".  There are probably of a lot of things one could get out of the book.  My favorite story and the one I still carry with me is about her brother and her dad.   This is how I remember it (I apologize to Ms. Lamont if I butcher her wonderful story).

Anne's younger brother had been given an assignment to write a report on birds.  Like most children, he put the report off until the night before it was due.  Sitting at the dining room table he quickly became frustrated and overwhelmed with the amount of information on birds.  His dad returns home to find his son panicked.  In one of his better parenting moments, he sits down next to him, places his arm around his shoulders and says to him, "Buddy just  take it bird by bird".  To be really honest I don't remember if the "bird" report was completed, but I don't think that was the point of the story.  At least it was not the lesson I took from it.

Through the years I have carried the phrase, "bird by bird" with me.  Whenever things become overwhelming, I remind myself, "take it bird by bird".   I suppose you could say it has become my mantra when life gets busy and there seems to be so much to do.


This Christmas I am taking it "bird by bird".


brought tree home


tree placed in stand

Tonight, I thought about putting on the lights.  I took  the lights out of the storage box.

"Bird by Bird"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

From My Hands and Heart

Several years ago when my friends went from having babies to having grandchildren, I decided I wanted to knit something for their first grandbaby.  Well, it has sort of grown.  Have you heard "We have met the enemy..."? It is no longer the first grandchild.

While knitting for the baby, I think a lot about the relationship I have or have had with the parent or grandparent.  I use the time I knit as sort of a little mini-trip back in time; a time to reflect on friendship and time together.  There are times I find myself giggling, and others I may become a little misty eyed with gratitude.   When I knit for friends, it is a gift of love from my hands and heart. 

In July I posted this picture with the caption "future baby dress".

I changed my mind.


Pretty darn cute!

I do love the process, but I am always happy to see the finished product.