Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Well,  here it is... Christmas is three days away.
 It is time to take a few moments to express my gratitude to everyone who has visited Living Life, joined me in this journey, and shared bits of your life with me.   I hope this past year I have entertained, made you giggle, or left you with something to think about.

You, my readers, have given me so much.  You have shared your travels, knowledge and creativity.  Mostly you have shown me your passions and your courage.   I am humbled.  Thank you!

The Guards are keeping a watchful eye.

Santa is making his final inspection.

    The reindeer are being readied for their night of magical flight.

All that is left is to wish you and all who surround you a most  joyful and peaceful Christmas.

I'm giving my muse sometime off, sort of an unpaid vacation.  We will be back after the New Year.  (Father Time and I change ages very near to one another, sh-h-h-h.)  When I return I'll have more to share of Sweden.  And... do you believe angels walk the earth?  Until next year.... embrace each moment and live life! 

   Hugs, Bonnie

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Ghostly Visit

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"
Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"

Friday evening Roger and I attended the musical production  "A Christmas Carol" at our local repertory theater.   I loved every minute of it.  Not knowing how Dicken's small tale of industrial capitalism would translate in song and dance, I attended with an open mind.  I was not disappointed.   It translates beautifully.

A Christmas Carol was first published December, 1843.   One might wonder what Mr. Dickens might think about today's excesses.  How would he write the story today?   

"A Christmas Carol, The Musical" was a most wonderful and entertaining way to spend a Friday evening.  From the moment  the ghost of Jacob Marley emerged from the fireplace to the moment Ebenezer Scrooge's winter heart is melted like the frozen ground after spring's first breath, I was mesmerized. 

I needed a bit of a Christmas transformation.  I had my own Christmas spirits visit during the night, keeping me awake and reminding me of everything I needed to do.   My ghosts were more demonic and not nearly as entertaining.  Actually a tad rude and annoying.  They did however make their point and set me in motion.  I will sleep better tonight, I am most certain.

"He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Story

Many years ago, a dad, a mom and a daughter prepared for their annual night at the Ballet.  Each year, the weekend before Christmas, the family would dress up in dressy Christmas outfits, have dinner at a fancy restaurant  and travel to the theater to watch the magic of "The Nutcracker Ballet" unfold before them.   This Saturday night was cold, it had been raining and sleeting all day.  There was even discussion about canceling, but everyone was excited and looking forward to the night out.  Reservations had been made and tickets had been purchased, the decision was made to go on as planned.

The restaurant was downtown in a historic hotel.  The dad drove the car up to the door of the hotel.    The car doors were opened and the family emerged leaving the car to be parked by someone else.  The doors to the hotel were opened and the three were welcomed with smiles, into the warmth,  never having to feel the biting cold of the winter wind.

The dinner was wonderful.   Each course came out on schedule, more delicious than the last.  The food was everything one would desire on a night of pre-Christmas celebration.  The family lingered over dessert enjoying their fancy evening out, talking about past years and what made each special.

With curtain time approaching and needing to make one small stop before continuing on to the theater,  it was time to call for the car.  Once again the family moved from one place of warmth to the next.

On the way to the theater the family pulled into the post office to mail a few last minute cards and letters and some bills needing to be posted on time.  The Dad turned the car into the circular driveway where the letter drop boxes stood.  Next to the last box stood an old man dressed in a way that you knew immediately he lived on the streets.  His pants were baggy and soiled.  His thin jacket was too big for his thin body.  He wore no hat nor gloves.  He wobbled a bit and spoke into each car as it stopped and moved forward.  As the family approached the line of mail boxes, the Dad handed the Mom the envelopes to be deposited and said, "He's drunk, just don't make eye contact".

The Mom rolled down her window and placed the mail into the mouth of the waiting boxes.  Just as she rolled up the car window the shivering man said, "Merry Christmas".

As the Dad pulled through the drive and stopped to merge into traffic, he looked at the Mom and asked, "Did you hear him".  "Yes, I did", she replied.

"What do you think"?

"Well, when you have done unto the least of mine, you have done also unto me" was the Mom's reply.

Without another spoken word the Dad pulled across four lanes of traffic making a u-turn and drove back into the post office driveway.  All of this took less than three minutes.

When they arrived back at the mail boxes, the man was no longer there.  The family drove down surrounding streets and alleyways.  They searched doorways and places one might be shielded from the night's wind, until they finally realized they were not going to find him.  A chance to help someone without judging had vanished.  Eye contact had not been made.  Opportunity had knocked unanswered....

 A lesson was learned on that cold winter's night, a week before Christmas, many, many years ago.

We often talk about that night over twenty years ago.  It is an experience that will remain the rest of our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Rainy Day in Copenhagen

Traveling to Denmark and Sweden in December when one should be preparing hearth and home for the holidays, and taking a week away from school at one of the busiest seasons would have sounded preposterous a year ago.  And yet, a week ago it is exactly where I found myself.

The days in Scandinavia this time of year are short (very short) cold and dreary.  With the heart of an explorer I couldn't let the weather keep me from an adventure. There were streets to roam, sites to see and people to watch.

I find I am at my best, and discover the most extraordinary things when I set out without an agenda.  I think when one limits one's self with a destination much is overlooked and missed along the way.  I enjoy the surprises around every corner.

I visited H.C. (Hans Christian) Anderson, trespassed through Christiansborg Palace,  found the Royal Library and happened upon a mermaid (not "The Little Mermaid" though).

A few of my favorite images of Copenhagen.

The moon is up by 3:30.  
Time to catch the train.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Beautiful Photograph

Yes?  Alas, I can not tell a lie, it is not mine.
Well, technically,
 it is my photograph...
I took a picture of a postcard.
Why?  This is the Copenhagen I wanted to see.
This is probably the Copenhagen I would have seen
had the calendar read May or June,
 not December.  

We had one day to spend in Copenhagen, Denmark before catching a train to Lund, Sweden.  The day just happen to be a Monday.  During the winter months,
 castles, museums, and all exhibits in general are closed on Mondays.
I was, needless to say, disappointed.

Give me streets to roam.  People to watch.  Things to learn.
I can have the best of times.
This is really all mine.
I did make it to the harbor.
It was very cold and started to rain.
We slipped into a little Italian Resturant for a bit of lunch.

We had the choice of sitting outside; blankets were provide
to ward off the cold.
We opted a table by the window...


This was a beginning of a wonderful time, albeit, cold and rainy week,
exploring Copenhagen and Lund, Sweden.

I am suffering a bit of jet lag, but will be sharing more of my week as the week progresses.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

image via
Tis the season to get busy....exhausted and stressed.
I am not a "have all the shopping done before Thanksgiving" kind of girl.  I cringe when I see Christmas decorations up before the turkey is finished roasting in the oven.  

Now the day after Thanksgiving is a whole different ballgame.  Routinely we head out to cut our tree the morning after Thanksgiving.  Decorations slowly come down and out of the closet; my "this year I'm not going to do a lot of decorating" statement
becomes my one lie for the year.  

This year....I am not going to do much decorating....seriously!  We broke with tradition and went to the nursery two days after Thanksgiving.   Our tree was pre-cut, who knows what month.  It is still outside in a bucket of water.  I may decorate in a week or so.   December is going to be an unusually busy month for us this year.  We will be in and out, traveling here and there throughout the month.  And yes, we will be hopping on planes and trains, and spending a fair amount of time in the car.

I will will have a good amount of time to enjoy a little light reading.
I've downloaded
two new books on my e-reader.

 Daphne, Justine Picardie, was recommended by
Jeanne at Collage of Life.
A story of Daphne du Mauier.


 The Time In Between, Maria Duenas
I was intrigued with the overview.

"...between youth and adulthood
...between war and peace
...between love and duty"

The Time in Between

They both promise to be good books to enjoy while traveling or to escape into while sitting by a fire after a busy day of  Christmas preparations.  I simply cannot wait to jump between the pages.  I may have a problem deciding which to begin first.

I recently finished Waiting for Snow in Havana,  Carlos Eire.  I'm not really sure how I feel about the book.  It is beautifully written.  The characters almost jump off the page.  I had a bit of difficulty embracing Carlos.  It is not necessarily an easy read, but you can certainly put it down and return without needing to review.  Each chapter could almost be an independent essay.  With that said I would recommend it simply because of the history lesson.

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy

Have a great weekend!  I will be checking in and posting when I can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"My Grownup Christmas List"

Do you remember Me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies

Well, I'm all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child
But my heart still believes

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree

Well heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

What is this illusion called
 The innocence of youth
Maybe only in our belief
Can we ever find the truth

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end.

This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only life long wish

Lyrics by David Foster
                 Linda Thompson

This year while rushing from one place to another trying to fit everything in the little time there is, 

let's slow down and breathe...
 slow down and share a smile... 
slow down and let someone in front of you...
slow down and give someone the gift of your time...
slow down and drop a coin or two in the red kettles.

Enjoy this season of Advent!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Your Mark...

The leftovers have been wrapped and put away.
The dishes are washed and safely back in the cabinets.
Cookbooks closed, with a few more stains, and reshelved.

Let the race to December 25th begin!

Pinned Image
image via
Wouldn't this be the loveliest spot to hide and avoid the chaos?

Happy Thanksgiving

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise a song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God our maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied,
Come to God's own temple come,
Raise a song of harvest home.
                                                 --words...Heny Alford

The cranberry sauce is chilling, the dressing is mixed awaiting its turn in the oven, the rolls are rising and the turkey breast is roasting.   I would love to have a crowded kitchen, everyone in everyone's way, chattering nonstop.  This year it is just Roger and I.  The size of the meal has been decreased.  I am a traditionalist, so there will be a little bit of our favorites to celebrate our blessings and remind us of years past. 

And when the sunsets this evening on this Thanksgiving Day,
 I hope you find your heart filled and nourished
whether you were one among many or only a few.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Pray-er

“If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!”
                --Shel Silverstein

I was recently given the assignment to select one word that describes me and write about it.  At first this sounded so simple, but in my usual fashion I spent a little too much time dwelling over it.  I wear many badges.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a teacher, a get my point.  The word that returned to me most often and a word I've never used to describe myself was pray-er, a person that prays.  I questioned if it was really a is...I looked it up.  It is seldom used, but it is a word.

When I think of a pray-er I most often think of the painting of a child kneeling beside the bed, hands clasped with fingers pointing upward and head bowed.  Or that of a man giving thanks over a loaf of bread.  Both are inspiring visions.

I've ofter heard we should find a time and place to spend a moment with our Creator in quiet meditation.  It is a pleasant thought.

I was in the second grade when a Sunday School teacher become quite upset with me because I add "thank you God for the birds that sing" to the end of a chain prayer.  I was told it was inappropriate and I should find something more serious to pray about or for.   My feelings were so hurt I bolted from the room.  It was the moment I became a pray-er...a silent pray-er.

Several weeks ago I was passing snack to my children when I noticed a child crying.  I ask what was wrong and several children chimed in to say the child had eaten before we said the blessing.   The child, through tears, said, "I'm sorry, I forgot".    I had just set the bag of crackers down on the counter.  I reached over took out a couple of the bite-sized crackers and ate them.  The children looked at me silently with wide eyes.  I immediately placed my hand over my mouth and said, "Oh my I just ate a cracker".  I continued to explain that God doesn't care when we give thanks.  He only ask us to give thanks.  My tearful friend was now giggling and everyone else was hushed.

I don't have a special prayer formula.  I don't have a set of special words.  I don't have a special place to sit.  And I certainly do not have any special gifts.   It is just something I find myself doing more often than not.  Most often I am not in a quiet place.  I pretty much have an ongoing dialogue and I ask a lot of "why" questions.  To some my prayers may even seem irreverent.  I once ask God to give me a sign to let me know what to do.  Not a subtle sign (I'm not very good with subtleties), but please just hit me over the head with it.

I can't look out over the ocean, sit across from my family, go to bed with a roof over my head, face the morning without first giving thanks and asking for direction and help.

I often think of my second grade Sunday School teacher and wonder how she would feel about my prayers.  I wonder what she would think of one of my favorite children's prayers.

Oh, the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain
And the apple seed.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.

And yes, I still thank God for the birds that sing.

I'm also a magic bean buyer, but that is a story for another day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Mother's Heart

“You can't stop time. You can't capture light. 
You can only turn your face up and let it rain down.” 
                                                                                          --Kim Edwards The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Child's Bath, c. 1893
Mary Cassatt
This mother's heart is grateful!  I had the chance to talk, laugh, and reminisce with my delightful child, who is now a grown woman.

Friday evening we had a fabulous dinner out, just the two of us.  We chatted and planned the few hours we would share (she was home to attend a wedding).  We returned home, donned our pajamas, curled up on the sofa talking and giggling awaiting Roger's late return home from Boston.

Shoe Shop, c. 1911
Elizabeth Sparhawk Jones

Saturday after breakfast we needed a bit of spa time.   Later in the afternoon the three of us headed out to do some wallet damage with her daddy.  Once home we gathered in the kitchen to prepare her requested "Daddy's gilled steak" dinner.  Heather assembled a cheese platter, I roasted winter vegetables and brussel sprouts and Roger tended the grill.  We set the dining room table with linens and silver, but all was overshadowed by the conversation, laughter and love present.

This morning I woke early with aching heart; I knew it would soon be time to release her once again to return to her husband and the life they have built together.    And, that is how it should be.

As I sat alone watching the sun rise and waiting to hear movement upstairs, I couldn't help but think of wise Charlotte (Charlotte's Web, E.B. White) describing her egg sac to Wilber.  She told him it was her magnum opus.   And I agree with Charlotte, everything dims in the presence of my child,  she is my masterpiece.  She is my heart.

Life is returning to what it has been.  Tomorrow morning I will jump out of bed and ready myself for school.  I will head downstairs to send a quick email for her to open when she arrives at her desk.  It will begin as always "I am running late".  Tomorrow evening we will chat a time or two, and I will have a joyful heart.

The Bedroom, c. 1889
Vincent van Gogh

One day though...we will live closer together.....a mother's hopeful heart.

pictures of artwork taken
 on my earlier trip to Chicago  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Day is It?

Is it really Thursday?  It has been that kind of week.

Tuesday, a bit of a storm blew in causing the mercury to fall ever so slightly.  Wednesday it seemed to get cooler as the day progressed.   This morning I wore a heavier jacket but ended up taking it off on the playground.   By the time I walked out of the bookstore this afternoon I was wishing I had not left my coat in the car.    The meteorologist is saying high 30s tonight.  I've brought a few tender plants in for the night and I will cover those I cannot lift by myself.  My trees are still providing a nice leaf canopy;  I think most things will be okay.

It seems this might be the perfect night for the settling in with the first fire of the season, a couple of new magazines I picked up while browsing this afternoon
and a bowl of

Roger's Fish Stew
(adapted from several different recipes)

1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
2 to 3 garlic cloves
(I love garlic)
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish or chicken stock
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. fennel seed
1 lb. cod fillet, cut into large chunks
(I also like to add shrimp and or scallops)
a handful of italian parsley, coarsely chopped

In a large stockpot saute' onion, pepper and sweet potatoes or about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Stir in garlic and tomatoes.  Add the wine, broth, tomato sauce, cayenne, salt and fennel seed.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 25 minutes.  Gently push fish into the liquid until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir, breaking the fish into large spoon-sized chunks.  Check seasoning. 

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle parsley on top.

I like to serve this with thick slice of dark brown bread.

(4 servings)

This time tomorrow I will be enjoying dinner with my sweet daughter.  I hope you have something wonderful to do this weekend.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Thinking!

Did I mention I might need to add a new bookshelf somewhere?  I'm thinking I need a room designated for books.....a home library.  I've often thought of moving things around and making my seldom used dining room a library.  I found a few designs I might consider. 

Pinned Image

I don't know.  It might be a bit too much?

Pinned Image

I have the dark brown leather sofa.

Pinned Image

Love the black and white.

Pinned Image
his might be my favorite spot.
I could see myself curled up here with a book,
 or sitting at the writing table jotting a quick note to a favorite friend.

Do you have a favorite?

Just some Monday night dreaming!

images: house beautiful

 and pinterest