Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve and Boxing Day Evening



On Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day evening, we were treated to wonderful meals.  And to time well passed with much loved family.

Christmas Eve, we spent a few hours over bowls of chilli, Christmas baking, wine and conversation.  It is one of the few times a year when most of my family is together in one place, as my sister and her husband open their home every Christmas Eve.

We share a glass or two of wine, reminisce about the year past, get to know newcomers to the family, share laughter over stories of past Christmases, and talk about what we have in common as a family.  It is a time for feeling good about where we come from and who we are.  For cherishing family and the love that hold us together.

On Boxing Day, we went to visit my husband’s son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.  We spent a few hours over hot turkey sandwiches (everyone’s favourite post Christmas meal), Christmas desserts and Caesars or gingerbread tea.  We had time to be with our grandchildren, as they played with the games they had opened the day before. 

We sat and talked in front of their beautiful tree, shared our lives and where we are right now.  We ate and enjoyed the decadence of gravy and cheese on everything, while discussing the need for restraint after Christmas, laughing about the dichotomy between the conversation and the meal. 

We had a great time just sitting and talking with no agenda and no place, we had to be, nor anything, we had to do.  Such luxury after so much busyness.  And such a delight to be with a son and daughter-in-law we love.

I took my camera on both occasions.  On Christmas Eve, I captured photos, soon stopped as I was interfering with comfort levels of people trying to visit.  On Boxing Day, I didn’t even get the camera out, as it seemed quieter and more pleasant not to impose my need for photos on others.

Sometimes, it is better just to BE with others and to listen, share laughter and talk without interjecting photo taking. 

Thank you for Christmas Eve.  Thank you for Boxing Day evening.  We enjoyed your company and the time with each of you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day 2011



This year, on Christmas Day, we were unable to spend the day with any of our own children.  My niece invited us to a pot luck dinner at her home with her sisters and mother, grandmother and extended family.  It was a bright and busy time with their three small children.



They opened their gifts and shared their delight at surprises from Santa!






The baby was keenly interested and wanted to eat the decorative paper, while his Dad unwrapped the gifts.





Mom enjoyed unpacking her stocking full of goodies, too.






And after dinner and after the gifts and after dessert and after the clean up, the adults helped the children put together toys and some lost at video games against the younger, more expert players.





Thank you for time with family, for a meal together and for sharing the delight and wonder of your children at Christmas time.

Sunrise



SUNRISE

...and I thought
how the sun

blazes
for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
fire.


(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)


This photo is mine.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve



The kittens are nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of kitty treats danced in their heads.




Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Snow



Today there is a light fall of Christmastime snow. 
  
Coating our world with white, softening the air, drifting slowly, kissing the earth with Christmas. 

Lovely, relaxing and peaceful. 

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Tree Decorations


Yesterday afternoon, I spent a deliciously quiet time with a dear friend sharing tea and conversation, while sitting in front of her fireplace and Christmas tree.  After talking a while, we got closer to the tree to visit with memories and her decorations.  We shared laughter and friendship, and decades of memories linked to various ornaments on her tree. When I came home again, I spent time really looking at ornaments on our tree, just allowing memories to flood my busy mind and settle me. 




This little blue felt dress was a gift from my younger daughter.  Handmade from recycled materials and complete with a tiny metal hangar, which you will see, if you look closely.  She made one of these for each of my sisters and me; when I see them on many trees, I am reminded of her artistic ability.




This handmade snow person is a gift from my older daughter.  It reminds me of all the snowmen and snow women we built over the years, with various scarves, hats, mitts and carrot noses.  A remembrance of playing in the snow together.





This is one of many crocheted snowflakes on our tree; all shapes and sizes, each with a shared memory of the person who gave it.  Some were made by my first mother-in-law, beautiful delicate designs.  Some are gifts from children or sisters or friends.  I love them all.




This is a whimsical Krinkle decoration I bought for myself one Christmas years ago.  There isn't any place here which sells them anymore, so I will have to search online if I want more. I like the over the top silliness of this ornament.  It is a Christmas stocking but it has feathery hair and feelers and a tiny face peeking from under the feathers.  It's holding a gift in its thin arms.  A just for fun decoration!




This is another Krinkle decoration, one in the series of Santa's reindeer.  This one reminds me of my youngest sister who collects Krinkles and who first introduced me to these imaginatively detailed delights.   Her tree is full of them and is a treat to explore with her.




This chubby Santa came from my grandson.  Santa is hand knitted and looks as though he has had too much eggnog while sitting by the fire. 

Every year when trimming the tree, I remember the friends and family who have gifted our tree with such love and memories.  Every year, I appreciate anew the wonder of the relationships in my life and am grateful for all of them, especially at this season.

All photos are mine.  If you click on words in red, you will go to another website with additional information.

Please note:  I have checked out the current prices of Krinkles decorations online and they are ridiculous.  They are 4 and 5 times higher than what I paid.  It has been many years since I purchased the ones I have and I won't be getting anymore.  The handmade decorations are best!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Lights


Today is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, a day when night dominates and light is at a premium. 

Christmas lights outside on houses and in yards cut through this darkness to touch our hearts and cheer us.  My favourites are houses decorated with small white lights.  The warmth of the glow and the understated quietness of white lights make me feel peaceful and content.


While I prefer little white lights, I recognize that there are myriad colours and combinations which mean Christmas to others.  Differences give life variety and wonder.  Some folks prefer lighted figures and vibrant colours.


 
Some folks spend much time creating wooden shapes to decorate with lights, love bright colours and work diligently to make their home look festive.  Even to the point of creating sequences of lights flashing to a jaunty Christmas tune.

 

 
And some folks like a bit of everything, festooning the interior and exterior with myriad colours and figures and wreaths and candy canes and signs.



All are cheery and bright.  Each different combination pleases those who placed them, lovingly and carefully to light the darkness. 

At this beginning of winter, may all your darkness and all your light be in balance; may you be filled with joy and wonder, appreciating differences, and recognizing yourself in all others.

Enjoy this season of rich darkness and of twinkling lights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bedroom Project


When you buy a home, how long does it take to get everything the way you want it?

What I want evolves as I live in a home and become used to its secrets and seasons.  Tastes and uses for rooms vary.  Simply living in a home changes what one needs and wants.  The innate feeling of a space sometimes calls for transformation.

We have a spare bedroom with two sunny windows and pine bookcases, an antique desk and a welcoming bed, a rocking chair and spaces for the cats.  It is the last room to be re-done after our move here. 

We can’t decide what to do about the wallpaper border at the top of the walls, and the ancient wallpaper stuck half-way up the walls.  We want it gone, but it doesn’t want to go.  We soak it, peel it, score it and steam it.  It will not leave!  We ask the local wallpaper store for suggestions; beyond what we have tried, they have nothing.  And there is always their cautiously worded question, “How long has this paper been on the walls?”  The staff looks down at their feet and scuffs with their toes, when we reply, “Well, as long as the house has been built.”   That being 60+ years, they then announce that sometimes, old paper and old glue cannot be removed.  Further, the plaster walls underneath the paper would certainly be damaged if we press any more water into the paper attempting to remove it.

So, plan B.

My husband carefully, with much measuring and swearing puts wainscoting and trim over the lower half of the walls to cover the impervious wallpaper.  We paint the wainscoting to match the wide baseboard and rounded window frames. 

What about the wallpaper border next to the ceiling?  We paint the upper half of the walls and purchase a wider wallpaper border to cover the stubbornly resistant older one.  We are warned that this new border will have to be pasted to the wall to adhere properly, as the normal glue on the back of the border isn’t meant to stick to anything but painted walls.



We get out all the supplies to deal with the new border.  Table, small foam brush, can of glue, water, smoother thingy, different cloths for different tasks, measuring tape, sharp knife, scissors, and chairs upon which to stand. We discuss how to do this, read the directions on the can (many warnings about not getting glue on anything else but the wallpaper), measure, measure again, discuss which side is the top and which the bottom of the trim  (no conclusion reached, so just pick one).  Have coffee and more coffee, then toast and snacks to help with decisions.  I suggest wine, but my husband warns, “No, that won’t be good.”

Finally, we are off and pasting.  By the end of the first strip, we decide that even though the can warned not to put too much paste, we put too little and have to re-paste the first strip.  Muttering, but philosophical, we settle on hanging the border…first…on the wall that shows the least. 

Wise decision.  Old plaster walls are not necessarily straight.  Muttering turns into frustration.  After a very long and sticky time, the first strip is on the wall and looking fine covering the old wallpaper border.

But, what’s this?  The first four feet are doing a slow-motion peel off the wall.  Quick!  Hold the paper, get more glue, there, there, and there…OK…OK.  Now with many cloths, wipe off excess glue before it does all the horrid things warned about on the can.

Drinks of water, and much stress-filled discussion.  How can we improve what we are doing?  Suggestions flying.  Realize my best suggestion is to make none.  Things flow along better after this discovery.

Second strip does indeed stick better with copious amounts of glue spread on by husband-in-charge.  We are both feeling very confident after this and give ourselves the luxury of another coffee and standing about to admire the job, now half complete.  Going well!

Third strip.  The plaster walls and ceiling seem to be totally out of whack, nothing is straight.  Nothing is working.  The border wants to travel up onto the ceiling if we try to keep it in line with the second piece of border.  My arms are tired from holding up wallpaper border.  Husband-in-charge is into full scale swearing and nearly falls off his chair.  After heated discussion, we cut off the offending piece of border, leaving the section which seems to be behaving properly.  I want wine, now! But, no…

Time to sit and determine what needs to happen next.  I remember to be quiet. Since walls and ceiling are far from straight on this second half of the room, “we” determine that cutting the paper into the corners will help, and it does.  We finish the room a touch more than three hours after we started.



It looks good, if you don’t examine it too closely.  The colours are attractive and well-matched.  There are a few places where the edges are not quite glued as much as needed.  That is easily fixed with tiny sponge, eye shadow applicators, dipped in the last of the glue, and dabbed under the offending edges.

The bedroom is complete and ready to welcome guests and admirers alike.  

Caveat:  If you perceive that the border is upside down or notice that it isn’t perfect, you’d better keep those thoughts to yourself, if you’re expecting a welcome and a glass of wine!

And, this room?  This room is staying this colour, with this border, until we move!





Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Ornaments


Over the years of celebrating Christmas, the tree decorations change.  Some special ones remain the same; much loved and each attached to a significant memory or story.  I have an affinity for sparkly decorations.  This long shiny one was given to me
by a dear friend years ago.


This handmade hobby horse was a creation from one of my sisters.



This gold sparkled blown-glass heart
is the sole survivor of a set,
 I bought for myself the first Christmas I was alone. 
I cherish the memories that accompany this delicate heart.



This glass snowman with an evergreen tree hat reminds me
of the one who gave it
and of the love we share.



This whimsical glass ball overflowing with red feathers
 was created by one of my daughters while she waited in airports,
on her journey home one Christmas.

My Christmas tree is trimmed with memories of significant times
in my life and the significant people in my life,
who light my way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tree Progress


We buy our tree at a nearby lot run by a local charity, supplied with trees from a local grower.  It is smaller than usual, needs trimming and settling of boughs before we decorate.  Now the house is full of the fragrance of winter, cold air and balsam.  We inhale the outdoors, breathing deep contentment.



After the tree branches settle, we add lights and the tree topper, a poinsettia fairy with feathered collar!  The warmth from the lights enhances the balsam smells.




Gradually, we decorate with the lightest weight ornaments,
as the tree's branches are tender
and easily bend with too much weight. 
Much of what we usually add to the tree
are handmade ornaments
and keepsakes from over the years,
which are too heavy to hang.


Now it's time to clean up the boxes and bags left behind
and sit with an eggnog by the fire, enjoying the tree,
breathing in Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photo Wall



It’s Christmas, time for the annual influx of updated photos from our grandchildren.  Always delightful!

And challenging!  We have photos of our grands displayed on a side wall of the stairway; a staggered showcase of children from 3 to 17 years.  This photo wall charts our family’s evolution.

It’s a recording of physical growth, emerging personalities, hair colours, hair cuts and hair styles, of baby teeth, teeth missing, permanent teeth and braces.  The wall shows dimples, and grins and lopsided smiles, kinky hair, curly hair, straight hair and hair that won’t behave.  Blue eyes, hazel eyes, green eyes and dark brown.  Each photo is a delightful reminder of a much loved grandchild.

The updated photos each year are a delight and a challenge.

The challenge is to arrange the photos on the slanting wall, using the nails that are in place, to form a cohesive format.  Some photos are vertical and some horizontal, some are smaller requiring mats. They are all framed with simple 8x10 black borders for continuity.

While rearranging the new crop of photos, I struggle with using the spaces and nails already there.  I can’t get them right, no matter what.  I’ll have to poke more holes in the stairway wall.  I’m certain the housekeeping gurus at Martha Stewart would be appalled.

After considerable fiddling, I’ve managed to arrange the photos (fairly) evenly – at least until the new ones arrive – either photos or babies.

Now to enjoy them!



The words within the text, written in red, will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grandchildren


We are lucky!  We have 10 grandchildren with another on the way; a new wee one due next May.  We are not so lucky, because all but 2 live far away from us.  It is hard having 7 grandchildren living in other provinces and 1 more living in another country!

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of watching our eldest grandchild play basketball.  She is delightful, tall, lanky and fast on her feet.




It was amazing to watch her using her arms and ability to move quickly to block shots on the basket.  She is very good at that!





She made several baskets herself during the game, helping her team's score.





Even though she scored points for her team, they didn't win.  She says that's not what is important, though they win as much as they lose.




She says what's important is playing as part of a team, where everyone gets equal court time, no matter how skilled they are. 



They lost but had fun, felt appreciated
and encouraged by their coach. 
They were good sports and enjoyed the game
and being part of the team. 
                              Good lessons for a grand-daughter to know!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby



Today is my first baby’s birthday.
More than a day of intense labour (as first labours often are) produced a lovely dark haired child with penetrating blue eyes.
A new woman in the world.  A tiny pink mouth in a miniature of her father’s round face.
She would grow to be frugal, make careful decisions, and have boundless capacity for love and sudden laughter.
A mixture of caution, adventure and loyalty, sneaking home stray kittens in her jacket, excelling at school and university, especially in the Sciences.
A woman of strong will and inner strength, quick movements and quicker temper, wise counsel and generous emotions.
She is all this:  Motorcycle driver, baker of cookies, handy-woman, organizer, maker of lists, promoter of fresh air and clean water, working Mom, fierce and loving mother of two, scientist, wife.
And more:  Dark haired, blue-eyed baby, now a woman with tattoos, wicked wit like her Dad’s, fit and slender, healthy and strong, more beautiful than she knows herself to be.
Happy Birthday to you!
As you walk your own path,
as you dream your own dreams,
as you live the life you choose,
may your living be blessed.
I love you my child.

Christmas Tree


One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the tree.  I love the lights, the glow, the sparkle and the fragrance. 

I’ve tried all sorts of trees over the years.  Artificial: easy, tidy, always a good shape, no daily watering but no outdoorsy smell. (Scented candles help.)  Pine: prickly, difficult to decorate, hands need recovery time after decorating is finished, smells great.

I’ve tried various real trees from tree lots and tree farms and roadsides and fields.  Some dry out too quickly and needles fall before Christmas comes.  Some were so fresh that the branches remained pliable after Christmas had passed.  

The outdoors has a much higher ceiling than home; occasionally I’ve had to trim a few feet of tree to get it into the house.  Some come so oddly shaped that the most creative cutting and sticking-in of additional branches couldn’t salvage them.

I’ve had trees that came with bird’s nests and mossy growths and trees that were so bad, there wasn’t any “good side”…and yet every tree has been special, when decorated.

There have been years with no tree or extremely small trees (the size of driveway markers) or birch trees or tiny ceramic trees.

And yet…

Every tree has had redeeming features, and the soft glow that called for egg-nog and carols playing, and relaxed happiness.

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the tree.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spending Time With the One You Love



Do we actually spend time?  Or does time pass and we spend our lives “doing stuff”?  Stop a second, how do you pass your time?  What are you doing?

At this season of the year, there can be more chores to do and to get done, than time allows.  I wonder if getting stuff done, completing the dread “To Do” list, working at a job, doing volunteer work, watching TV or working on the computer completely shuts out any time available to “simply pay attention” to the one you love.

I wonder how much time and energy people spend each week in really listening, actually making eye contact, really touching, hugging or holding, truly giving attention to the one they love.  In balancing the one life, we each have to live.

Giving full attention doesn’t mean merely being in the house at the same time as your significant other, or being in the same room as one sews and one does dishes, or as one watches TV and one uses the computer, or as one does bookwork and the other reads, nor does it mean one sleeping in front of the TV while the other sleeps in bed.  Certainly those things are part of life, but they are not all of life.  It’s about balance in relationships.

Relationships flourish with mutual interest and attention, shared love, vibrant lovemaking, intimate conversation and paying attention to one other.  When all one’s time is given to doing, going, running errands, volunteering, working, and almost none is set aside for “attentively being with” the significant other in your life, two things begin to happen:

1.               The relationship suffers;
2.               The relationship dies.

This is something to ponder, especially at this season of the year, a season which traditionally is meant to be about hope and love.

Some questions:

How are you really “spending your time”?
Are you paying any attention to the one you love?
Is what you are doing getting you what you want in life?
If not, what needs to change?