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!

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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 friend....you 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 word...it 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. 

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

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I have the dark brown leather sofa.

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Love the black and white.

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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  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Bit of a Bookish Weekend

The Public Library had it's used book sale Saturday.  We first stopped for breakfast at our favorite spot and then headed downtown to the main library branch.  Whenever I visit the main branch I am always struck with how quiet it is.  It seems libraries are moving away from restricting noise.  I, personally, enjoy the quiet.  I really should make an effort to go downtown more often.

The sale was in the basement.  I was overwhelmed with the number of patrons and the number of books for sale.  Roger went in one direction and I in another.  The books were arranged by subject and volunteers continued to shelve books as fast as books were pulled off the shelves.  While browsing I noticed everyone had boxes and bags full of books.  Being a people watcher and a bit nosey, I sort of became a little sidetracked trying to see what everyone was pitching in their boxes.

When I met up with Roger he had picked up a small reference book on writing, John Grisham's The Painted House and a boxed set of books on Modern Religions (?).   I managed to find a first printing of Isak Dinesen's Last Tales, another book of short stories and a small book about the passion of reading.  Total cost?  $5.00.   You really can't beat it.

When we arrived home I had a package waiting by the door.  Roger had ordered a beautiful copy of Williams Faulkner's As I Lay Dying from the Folio Society.   He had surprised me last week with a first edition of John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus.  (I love old books.)   Tonight I am having a great time browsing all of my new treasures.  Looks like I may need a new bookshelf.... and more time to read.

Just opened Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire.  It is looking promising.

The trees are finally fully dressed for autumn.  I took a walk around the neighborhood at dusk and captured a few shots.  More treasures!

I hope you had a lovely weekend and found a treasure or two.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Events to Come

The bluebirds have bid farewell and headed further south perhaps.  My turtles have disappeared.  I suppose they are already snug underground.  The holly bushes are turning red with bright berries to carry the cardinals through the season.  The oaks and hickorys are beginning to shed their clothes,  from either lack of rain or the crisp autumn temperatures, giving the squirrels building material for nests and covering the earth for winter's nap. 

Here in the south this is the time of year when we pull up all those impatiens (if they survived the heat) we planted in the spring and replace them with pansies and winter hardy annuals.  This past weekend I picked up six flats of pansies.   I managed to get two and a half  flats put in the ground that afternoon while trimming back and cleaning out the beds.  Yesterday, I rushed home and planted three flats.  I will need more, but I feel like I have a good start.

While I do not relocate or hibernate for winter, my calendar has a few things posted I am really excited about.

My daughter is flying in for a quick visit in a couple of weeks.  I can't wait to have some time with her.  It is always much too long between visits.   We are already making plans.  Really, I just want to sit and look at her, talk with her... and maybe take her shopping?  I am counting the minutes.   My son-in-law has some studying he needs to tend to and will not be able to come with her.  He is the best, and we enjoy his company very much.  He will surely be missed. 

Next,  I am planning a trip to Sweden.  My husband was offered the opportunity and he is going to let me tag along.  I am a bit concerned about the weather, but I am doing some research to make sure we have the proper clothing.  If you have any recommendations do not hesitate to share.  I am pretty excited!  I've made arrangements for Willie, my substitute has it on her calendar and the house sitters are scheduled.  I need to start planning what I will be taking with me.

A little bit of excitement happening around here.