Thursday, December 31, 2015

Taking a Break Today

It's high time I got my backside off the sofa and hopped into the shower, but I've been basking in the fact that I've nowhere to be today and there is nothing pressing on my schedule. No work. No shopping. No baking.  No company coming. Ahh... I like this.

My New Year's resolution is to change up my blog. I think I'll join up with ABC Wednesday again, revisit Sunday Scriptures, high-jack Kristina's 3X's Thursday, and maybe come up with something excitingly redundant all my own.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This and That and a Bit of Work Too

I spent a good part of my afternoon working hours last week reading my own blog. I started at December 2013 and finished up with this December yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure exactly what I thought I would find or learn, but was looking for clues to who I am and how I think. I found myself often redundant. (We got Tim a small chocolate Frosty...) Perhaps I could be called "consistent"... at least in some ways. I also found my mention of struggles vague enough to leave even myself wondering what trial I was dealing with at any given time. Aside from particular phrases or brief comments that perhaps only I notice, my blog might lead one to believe that life is always rosy and I rarely struggle. Of course, that is merely a mirage.

There isn't much time to sit and write lately, and even less time to read and contemplate the blogs of others. Life has become busy and the last month has found it busier still. I'm not sure if life will ever slow down or if the momentum will continue to gather, but I am longing for a stretch of respite to reconnect. (Although I might not be totally sure exactly who or what I am reconnecting with.) (Do I have you confused yet?)

I'm working another long day today, but long days now are just 8 hours, not the grueling 12 that I did in the other facility. My routine schedule has been 8 hours Monday and Tuesday, and then 5 Wednesday, but my early relief called in sick today. My friend's arm must be feeling better because she's been back to her "normal" persnickety self this week. Yesterday she threatened to throw her juice on me because I made the suggestion that she drink it.

In other news, Joe and I continue to share a vehicle. At least for today. It is our sincere hope that he will have one of his own on the road by tomorrow. Nate's alternator has been replaced, The Cabinet Maker has his vehicles in two different shops, and we are still managing to get where we need to be at approximately the right time.

I've missed Ladies' Prayer two weeks in a row, the Christmas service, and church on Sunday. I'm looking forward to getting back into the old routine. The holidays can leave one feeling used up and drained. Thankfully, the Lord left us reading a Max Lucado book that has been meeting us where we are and encouraging each of us to keep on keeping on. He is good.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I'm Pooped!

I guess the next thing on the itinerary is New Year's Eve. I'm not sure what kind of excitement it has in store, but I'm done planning parties for a few days. I'm all partied out.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Car Trouble

It's been an interesting month with vehicles. For quite a while we've been driving back and forth, coming and going as we please, and generally taking little concern as to whether or not we will be able to get where we want to go when we want to go there. Things have changed.

We gained four household members immediately following Thanksgiving. Nate and his family, and Josiah. Nate and Sabrina have their own vehicle. Joe arrived carless. Nathan rises early while the rest of us are in deep slumber and is off to work even before his dad is up. Sabrina goes to work a few evenings each week. Joe works here in town.

Joe's been trying to buy a car, but the lien release was slow in coming so we've been sharing my van. A little tricky sometimes, but so far do-able. This week Nate blew a tire (it's fixed), and he's having alternator issues. This morning he used my van to get to his job, and this evening Sabrina has it. (We're hoping they can get their alternator fixed Monday when Nate has a day off...)

The Cabinet Maker and I went out this morning and while running errands, stopped at Costco. We parked far out in the parking lot, wandered around inside, made our purchases, and headed out to his van. Next to our van was parked a rather large tow truck. The Cabinet Maker put the things in the back of his van and I, being cold since the weather changed, hopped into the front. On opening the door I was pleasantly surprised by a rush of warm air, and then I noticed the driver's side window was open. "Strange..." I thought. "I wonder if that has anything to do with the tow truck parked next to us?"

I leaned forward and looked out the window at the driver of the tow truck, all the while realizing the van was running and the radio was on. "Is this the vehicle being towed?" asked the Tow Truck Driver. I, speechless at the moment, glanced back at the Cabinet Maker who was totally oblivious to the transpiring situation.

"And what is this?" I found myself thinking... The lap and shoulder belt on the driver's side were wrapped around the steering wheel, twisted several times, and fastened into the seat belt clip... Apparently someone needed a tow truck for their Chevy Express Van.
"Paul" told them the key would be in the cup holder... but to wait for him to come out of the store. Um, we have a Ford Econoline Van... with a key in the cup holder... Kind of scary to think that we could have come out and found ourselves stranded at Costco. Ha ha! And kind of funny at the same time (but not really). We almost had to ride home with Nate. Oh, goodness! We won't be leaving the key in the cup holder again. And I'm slightly suspicious about a tow truck driver who doesn't know the difference between a Ford and a Chevy.

Some Christmas Thoughts for Next Year

The holidays are not quite wound down, but while thoughts of the actual day are still fresh, I'd like to make  myself some suggestions for next year. Something like the list I posted five years ago, but with some tweaking. Five years ago we had three very small grandsons and Christmas was still fairly controllable, but our grandchildren are bigger now and they've multiplied, adding a new dimension to an already often chaotic time of year. So... here are my new thoughts.

1. Once again, lasagna (or a one dish main course) makes a great Christmas meal. Keep it simple and let the others bring sides and appetizers.

2. Don't neglect a Christmas Eve service somewhere!!! Find one and go. In fact, go to several special services. Just do it.

3. Find out what the kids would like. Ask them, ask their parents, have them write a letter to "Santa Claus," but find out, buy whatever it is, wrap it, and leave it at their house to open ahead of the family Christmas gathering. Stay and watch if you must, but have it done before it gets dark on Christmas night.

4. Buy or make something for your honey. It doesn't have to be grand or glorious, but there should be something under the tree that says, "Hey, I love you and you matter to me." (Please forgive me, my Barefoot Lumberjack, for I have failed.)

5. Listen to Christmas Carols, the old fashioned babe in the manger kind and remember who and what we're supposed to be celebrating.

6. Watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate, and eat popcorn.

7. Remember the less fortunate; the homeless, Samaritan's Purse (Operation Christmas Child), Compassion International,... Give to someone who can't give back. Don't forget the Red Kettle.

8. Take a ride. Go look at lights. Visit Seneca Falls (think "It's a Wonderful Life.") Drive to Schenectady (think "A Christmas Carol.") . Find something or someplace to fill your heart with childlike wonder.

9. Host a graham cracker/gingerbread house building party for the kids.

10. Make and decorate cookies. (You might not want to wait until Christmas Eve, especially if trying new recipes for the first time...)

11. Plan a fancy "adults only" dinner complete with Grandma's fancy china and a gift exchange.

12. Take an annual "Grandkid" photo (If you can get them all in one place at the same time during the year.)

13. Enjoy the crowds and chaos while shopping. It's part of the fun. Say "Merry Christmas" often, smile much, give random gifts, and relax.

PS. While I'm at it... You may as well take advantage of those sales and not feel guilty making purchases for yourself while the prices are right, things are on sale, and you're out wandering the aisles. If you don't buy it, chances are nobody else will either. :0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Orchard Walk

It's Christmas Eve. There is no snow. There is not even any cold. Rochester, NY reached a high of 68 degrees today. We broke another record and I decided to wash my windows since it felt like spring. No sense waiting until it gets cold out.

Without cold and snow, and having worked every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this month, I do not feel very Christmassy. I know Christmas is not about cold and snow, but December usually is, at least where I live. I gave up on making cookies this afternoon and decided an orchard walk was in order.

I've missed so many beautiful days. Sometimes taking a bit of time out to walk  is more productive than hours spent at work (or int he kitchen). My house might not be spotless when the family arrives tomorrow, there might not be the vast array of cookies and desserts, and there might not be as many decorations, but there will be Christmas carols, a few gifts, and love and laughter, and family.

My walk was relaxing. I didn't hurry and no one rushed me on when I stopped to take photos.

The orchard was full of apples, hanging like ornaments on naked Christmas trees, and laying on the ground beneath as if The Naughties had been along and knocked them off. I didn't go far, just down to the pond and back in search of color, which  consisted of mostly rotten apples.

It was an absolutely splendid day!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cookies or Nothing

I have nothing to write... and I find that sad.

Oh, wait! Maybe I do... My Hannah Girl called this morning looking for cookie cutters so they could decorate cutouts with her niece, nephew, and little brother in law. I asked if she had sprinkles. She didn't. I asked if she had cookie sheets. Umm... I asked if she had powdered sugar. She planned on stopping at the store one the way home. I asked if she might happen to want a batch of cutout cookie dough from my basement freezer. (I had 2 bags.) She thought having ready-made cookie dough would be a big plus.

I packed a bag. Powdered sugar, food coloring, sprinkles. Cookies cutters, baking sheets, hand mixer. Frozen cookie dough and directions. On my way to work, while Hannah was babysitting, I stopped at her house and left her all the supplies I thought she would need. I haven't seen any pictures, so you get my cookie pictures, from last year, because I can't find her last year's cookie pictures.

On Thursday I will roll and cut my own cookies. Perhaps I will find a child or two to help me decorate. I think I know a few who might be willing.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1Timothy 6:6-8

It's almost here, the Big Day, and I'm about out of time to prepare. I'll have a few hours Monday and Tuesday, and a few more Wednesday... Maybe I'll pull it all together, and maybe what we've already done will have to do. Conversations lately have revolved around the pressure we always feel to live up to the season's expectations, either our own or the perceived expectations of others.

I've been blessed to find that we somehow always made Christmas special for our kids, even if it meant raiding attic to fill stockings. (Yes, we really did that once.) They never got extravagant gifts. Shoot! Some years they were lucky to get any gifts at all. Christmas trees came from the back yard at least once or twice, the Charlie Brown kind, and our kids were grateful. While I feared disappointing them (and still do), they instead, by going without, learned to appreciate the little things.

We will have gifts this Christmas, little gifts, and we will have food. We will have a warm roof over our heads and we will have each other. What more could we ask for?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sofie Update

A few weeks ago The Cabinet Maker's friend came to the door with a delivery. Sofie, all excited to find a visitor outside, wagged her tail and jumped about as he tried to pet her. I casually remarked how I should have let him take her home while I had the chance. "Yeah," he said, "We already have two dogs and a cat." Off he went and I thought that was the end of it, but when the Cabinet Maker returned an hour or so later, he said, "Hey, if you're really serious, Jose says they'll take Sofie."

I'd struggled for a long time with how to best meet the needs of this small creature who desperately needed company and yet was left home alone so often. The kittens weren't doing the job, and even on my days off work I found myself running out for one reason or another, I hardly had time to meet her need for company much less keep her bathed and groomed. I knew Jose's wife would love her and give her a good home, so I agreed.

Sof already had a date for a check up and shots with our vet, so we waited until Thursday evening. Lia was anxious and excited to introduce our little dog to her family. I packed a bag with Sofie's leash and dish, her bag of dog food and chewy sticks, and tossed her favorite Beanie Baby in too, just in case she should feel lonely. I thought of how much my Mom had loved the little white dog, and what good company Sofie had been for Mom, and I knew I had to do what was best for Sof, so when Lia and the boys came to the door, I smiled and reminded myself that this was a good thing.

I've been blessed with Facebook photos that show my little friend settling into her new home. She has friends now, doggy friends, instead of the feline variety that like to jump on her head. She has a hand-me-down sweater from her doggy friend Gracie, in case it should ever get cold outside... and for the first time in her life, a Christmas stocking with her name on it. She has really moved up in the world!

When the craziness of Christmas is behind us, and the dust has settled a little, I'm going to take a ride out to the Lake Bluff Honey Bee Farm and visit my little friend.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reminds Me of My Dad...

Whose Fields Are These
by Russ in Sonnet

Whose fields these are I think I know.
They were my father’s long ago,
but sold to farmers living near:
two men who’ve yet to come to mow.
I come in gray disguise of year
to search for yesterdays more dear,
so they’ll charge me with no misdeeds
for walking in their meadow here.
In northern clouds the sun recedes,
and summer now, to fall, concedes,
but I have come once more to find
a warmer day among the weeds.
Those warmer days are now confined
to memories concealed behind
the shroud of years that clouds my mind,
the shroud of years that clouds my mind.

Quite honestly, this poem reminds me of both my parents, because it was my mom who used to quote the poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, and she quoted it often enough for me to recognize it hidden here. I don't want to lose this version, so I'm parking it here for you to enjoy and me to find later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Grammy Gracker Houses

I woke up in a bit of a panic this morning when I realized I have just four days to get all my Christmas preparations done... I don't know how I will ever pull it off this year. In spite of my lack of feeling "ready" (Do I ever feel ready?), we did have a very nice few hours decorating graham cracker houses with the grandchildren last Saturday.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Great Things Are Happenin'

"Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
1 John 4:4b

The Grandfather was out of town this morning so I went to church without him. It's been a rough few months (or maybe a rough few years...) for The Grandfather and me, but God is greater than the one who seeks to destroy us. According to Pastor Ray, "He (God) makes possible that which  is impossible." Perhaps there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and a path out of the dark woods. God is not finished with us yet and He is good.

Last night, while he was still in town, The Grandfather and I went to the church Christmas Party. It was a little overwhelming (lots of people) and fun at the same time. There was a gift exchange. One of our fellow table sitters declared it, "The most insincere gift exchange ever!" We laughed. Each gift was wrapped in a festively decorated brown bag and contained an item worth about $5. Lydia, who was at our table, stole Sam's gift bag and was transformed into a reindeer for the remainder of the evening. (Isn't she cute?)

There was a gift wrapping contest, a gift unwrapping contest, a portrait drawing competition, and a gingerbread decorating contest. You might say The Grandfather and I were a little unprepared for the trickery of these games. I volunteered to draw and found out that I would be the model instead. Each table member had 15 seconds to "draw my face" before passing the paper on to the next person who continued the drawing.  We lost, but that was a good thing because I didn't really want to look like what we ended up with. ha!

The Ginger- bread Decorating Com- petition came with a twist. Each table was given a Bible story to illustrate. Our paper said "Absalom's Defeat" and I immediately assumed each table in the room had an obscure Bible story. I was wrong. There were some pretty stiff competitors with well known stories. We didn't win.

Got any idea what these two stories might be?

We didn't win any prizes and we didn't get any gifts, but we did go home smiling. So did Lydia.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's Getting to Be Christmas Again

The Christmas tree has been "discovered" by cats and kid. It's going to be an interesting few weeks. ha! And who can blame them? With all those lights and dangling decorations, it's bound to call for some touching and attention, so touch and attend they do. As long as it stays upright and ornamented, I don't mind. If I was small and wonder-eyed, I'd be in there too. Thankfully, I remember being small enough to lay under the Christmas tree and stare up into the branches.

I almost stayed home today, but when I called Hannah this morning, she wondered what I was doing as she had a bit of shopping to do. Shopping is more fun with a friend and I hate passing up an opportunity to spend a bit of time with my kids, so off I went to find her.We had fun strolling through Target, K Mart, and Aldi today and came home with bags of treasures. My treasures were small and relatively few, but I did find something to carry back with me.

 After fifty years of Christmases, I've come to the conclusion that I may never get the hang of buying gifts, but I can make memories and memories last so much longer than material things. So, I let the small child touch the soft branches and gaze into the greenery. Tomorrow I will build graham cracker houses (at least that's the plan) and on Saturday morning my other lovelies will come with candy to decorate them. And one day soon, there will be cutout cookies to frost and sprinkle.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Few Thoughts, Maybe

I writing this morning, not because I have anything of interest to share, but because after nearly ten years of blogging, I don't want to stop. I've loved writing my thoughts and happenings, enjoyed making new friends, and found it therapudic, but lately the words don't flow.

I feel a little lost in life right now and am not entirely certain how or where to find myself again. Perhaps it's empty nest syndrome, but my house isn't exactly empty. That smiling child has come to stay for a few months and I've been blessed this week to have him smile and "talk" to me. We're making friends with each other and that is a wonderful thing.

The Naughtiest discovered Christmas ornaments this morning, particularly one that is actually a little gold bell, like the kind Zantac (Go, spellcheck!) gave the boy in "Polar Express." Now the fun begins... We're going to try hanging one on a knob away from the tree to see if that will help. I know. Don't count  on it.

What I'd really like to do right now is stay home and paint an army of snowmen. I have enough fence pieces, but not enough free time at home. This little guy is at Hannah's house waiting for her to come home. 

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Seeing Double

Yesterday and today, we were blessed to see not one Little Red in the tree outside, but two! He's got a girlfriend! She's not wearing a bow in her hair, nor are her eyelashes long and dark, so I'm not sure who is who, but there are definitely two of them. Maybe that's a good thing because when it comes to avoiding the claes and jaws of The Naughties, two pairs of eyes are better than one. "Stay safe, Little Reds!"

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Going Green and Other Stuff

I dug some paints out my basement this week and set about making snowmen. Now if only I could make a living at something like this... Wouldn't that be fun?

While painting fence pieces this morning, I painted myself as well. Accidentally. There I was just giving that container of green paint a good shake when *splat!* I felt a wet blob hit my neck. The bathroom mirror confirmed my fears. Not only was there green paint on my neck, but on my fleece and in my hair as well. The sweater went into the wash and I did the best I could to clean the blobs of green paint out of my hair, and then I painted a nice green scarf on my snowman.

The Wood Cutter and I did something unusual this December. We went out and got a Christmas tree together. How cool is that? 

We didn't go far, just down the road and around the corner. The nice Lumberjack provided us a saw and even helped my Wood Cutter carry the tree back to our vehicle. All I had to do is take pictures. We didn't even have to brave gale force winds or knee deep snow, just a little soggy grass and a bit of mud. Easy peasy.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Bits and Pieces

- Work is going. Some days are good, some days are stressful. I tend to get headaches Sunday night through Wednesday. On Thursday they subside and I'm okay again until the next Sunday evening. I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Do you suppose there's a connection?

- My friend at work met with an accident.. On Wednesday we went out and she came back with a pretty blue cast on her arm. She had me smiling several times while we were out. We were in the "cast room" when the woman on the other side of the curtain said, "Hello?" (she was making a phone call) and G said, "Hello?"
The other lady said, "Are you there?"
and G said, "Yes, I'm here..."

Too funny because G is totally serious. If she can hear them, she thinks people are talking to her. 

- With Sofie gone to Lia's house, our pet collection is down to three cats and a grandchild. There was no raucous barking in the house today. I did see one Naughty stalking some prey out by the driveway and upon further inspection saw Little Red (or one of his buddies) across the lawn. I opened the window and yelled, "Run, Little Red! Run!" at which point the cat looked up at the window like "What in the world did you do that for?"

- I am painting snowmen. On fence pieces. Again. Just something about snowmen. I love them.

- I have two batches of cut-out cookie dough waiting in my freezer. One day I will cut and bake cookies to frost with my grandkids. I do love cookies, and grandkids too.

- Nate and Sabrina are settling in. She likes to cook and I don't mind. We actually ate dinner several nights this week. I'm not sure what will happen when she has to go to work, but I'm guessing we might be eating grilled cheese.

-Poop. I hate poop. I have stepped in it two times too many in the past week. Not a pretty sight. Or smell for that matter.

 - I have taken to falling asleep during movies. I missed the entire middle section of  "Frozen" early this week, and last night I totally missed Violet Beauregard 's transformation into a blueberry in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" last night. I saw Augustus Gloop go up the tube, missed Violet, and woke up in time to watch Veruca Salt go down the garbage chute. Then I completely missed Mike TV's adventure and Charlie's ride in the glass elevator. I try to keep my eyes open, I really do, but they keep going shut.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Sofie's Big Day (and some "Naughty" pictures)

This is Sofie's big day. She is going to a new home tonight. It will be a little sad, but only a little. She will have a family that is home more often than we are, kids to dote on her, and other dogs to play with. I love her, and she was wonderful company for my mom while she lived with us, but I just don't have the time a small dog needs and deserves, so today she had a nice bath, had her hair combed out, a flea treatment, a visit to the vet complete with two shots (distemper and rabies), and a clipping of the toenails. She's got a clean bill of health and a clean coat to go along with it. I'm sending her favorite Beanie Baby along on her new adventure so she won't be lonely.

The Naughties will be having a day with the vet too, in January. Maybe the few weeks between now and then will give me enough time to save up for their impending shots and surgeries. I am thankful that God made cats for those of us who like a small furry body to snuggle with but can't necessarily be home all the time. Cats don't mind if their person is gone all day, so long as they have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and trouble to get into. In this case the trouble is double.

The Cabinet Maker got a box on the back porch the other day. What ever was in the box, probably work related, was removed and the box full of packing paper left in the dining area, Two small somebodies found the rustling, paper filled box a wonderful playground. I heard one of them stirring and thumping around in there long before I saw the paper strewn across the floor.

They were nowhere to be seen when I took the first photo, but I tripped over a strip of paper on my way back out and they were back in no time to rustle the paper some more. They are easily amused and so am I... Christmas should be interesting, especially if it involves wrapping paper.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Down By the Bay (again)

It's not looking or feeling terribly wintry. The trees are stark and leafless, and the grass lies green across the yard. Last week I took a different route to work and ended up at the southern tip of Irondequoit Bay, with my camera.

Once upon a time 70 years ago, much to my grandma's dismay, this was my father's favorite playground. As a teen, he and a friend would often rent a boat and go out on the bay, sometimes fishing, sometimes following a creek inland or into the swsmp, and sometimes paddling to the opposite bank. Dad loved the water.

My mom did not love the water. She had fallen in a creek as a very small child and "nearly" drowned. (I don't know exactly what that means... My husband was found unconscious at  the bottom of a pool as a small child and he still swims...) Apparently Mom was a sinker because she always claimed to "swim like a rock."  Thankfully, though I wouldn't win any swimming contests, I can keep my head above water. Just please keep that seaweed off of my toes.