Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Toys Come Out.

Small children make saving an old collection of toys the best thing in all the world. Fisher Price Little People, puzzles, pretend ice cream cones... And the very best thing of all is watching my son get down on the floor and play with his son, just like my own dad used to do with Jim.

I've missed having a little person around. This small child is well behaved, even if he did cry and want to go home last night. He's fun to watch, and fun to listen to too. I was in the living room when he thumped his fist on the table and said, "I want some beer! I'm twenty-four!"

Friday, December 30, 2016

Minnesota Arrives

There were micro pellets covering the ground when I went to let the chickens out today. Tiny snowballs of varying sizes covering the ground and rolling about in the wind.

I cleaned somewhat frantically this morning. Somewhat... But Minnesota didn't come to see if my house was spotless. They came because they love us and want to spend a little bit of the holiday with their family.

Austin fell asleep watching a movie in the recliner with his daddy this evening. He woke up just enough to decide he didn't want to pick up the Matchbox cars and he really didn't want to stay here overnight. He wanted to go home. But "home" is seventeen hours away. Poor child. His grandpa says by the end of the week he won't want to go home. Aside from the tears before bed, it was a good day.

And in other news, Number 10 will make his arrival very soon. He is a tiny guy so there is some concern for his safety. Our sweet daughter in law is being induced due to his being so small. Prayers would be appreciated.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Baby Beans

I don't recall which one was the Year of Baby Beans, but I do recall the silly little bean filled dolls with smiling faces and bright colored pajamas. My sisters each found one under the Christmas tree that year, as did my five Plotzker cousins. Eight little girls and seven Baby Beans.

On our holiday visit to Aunt Barb's house, all eight of us girls lined the stairway to the upstairs bedrooms and the Baby Beans slid down the railing one after another while we handed them back up to the top fire brigade style, over and over again. It was a simple, yet wonderful, laughter-filled game.

When my sisters tore the wrapping paper off their Baby Beans gifts on Christmas Eve, it hadn't occurred to me that perhaps there should have been a similar package for me. I didn't feel left out until I found that every one of my cousins had also received one of the floppy little dolls. I was the only one without. Later Mom explained that they had ordered a doll for me too, a sleepy, yawning, orange clad baby, but the company had run out and mine never arrived. I think she felt bad, but needn't have. I managed okay and learned that I didn't have to have everything the others had in order to have fun.

I took it well as a child and only missed my nonexistent doll during our stairway game. As an adult I find myself looking him up on ebay after watching The Santa Claus 2 where Santa pulls all kinds of vintage gifts from his bag, and I smile at the memory of childhood games with my passel of girl cousins.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Eve

We were invited by my worship leader son to their church Christmas Eve service and were blessed to accept. I found myself watching him as we stood singing Christmas carols. I was suddenly struck by how much he reminded me of the brother my sister and I had just visited earlier in the day.

My brother bears the result of not only his handicap, but years of psych drugs as well. I got a lump in my throat as I watched my son sing and saw in him what my brother might have been... It was sad, but sweet at the same time. Perhaps a little glimpse of what heaven will one day do for my brother.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Stick Man

Nice dinner of leftover lasagna this evening. We convinced a couple of couples to come over and help us eat it and we're now down to a more manageable amount.

After the meal we settled down to watch a movie. "Stick Man" was the perfect choice. Spencer liked it, and we liked it. Even Naughty One was intrigued. He got up on the table to take a closer look, and even tried to catch a falling snowflake.

 I have eaten way too many heavy meals and way too many cookies/snacks these past four days. My stomach hurts. I'll have a few days to (hopefully) recover before the party gets started all over again on Sunday. Back to work tomorrow, and back to eating apples and almonds.

Thank You, Lord, For Chickens

I am thankful for the gift of chickens.

It was about 4:30 when I stepped out to lock the chickens in for the night. It wasn't quite dusk and a few fowl remained outside as I rounded the barn corner. Upon seeing me, several birds hopped back out of the cage, hoping for a treat of bread or fruit, of which I had none. I dumped another helping of pellets into their pan and they obediently went inside. Eleven birds. Ten hens and a rooster. I count them every so often. I checked for eggs, found none, and headed back to the house. I'd been gone five minutes at the most.

We had just been whipping up a couple batches of frosting and getting out the goodies for building graham cracker houses. The fun was about to begin, but instead some kind of altercation had erupted in my absence and our holiday happenings suddenly over. I had missed the entire ordeal. I found myself numb, which is an all too often occurrence recently. There wasn't a chance to take sides even if I would have. I heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing other than the fact that a few family members were missing and another several were leaving as well.

Like my husband and my children, I miss my father's presence most of all at family gatherings, and especially at Christmas. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "His was a steady, peaceful, calming presence." We miss him being here, we miss his intervention and words of wisdom, and most of all we miss his prayers over us. Nothing will bring him back, but I am seriously considering hanging a large portrait of him in a conspicuous place in the living room. Maybe that would make him feel just a little bit closer.

And to top it off, we get to try this all over again in another week when Minnesota comes to visit.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016....

The dust, most of it, has settled and we are watching a Christmas movie. The room is dark and just slightly chilly. It was a different kind of Christmas...

There was church this morning, a lasagna dinner this afternoon, a bit of graham cracker house building and decorating, and finally the movie. We're full of sugar and there are a few untouched desserts to pop in the freezer for next week.

We're saving the gifts for next week when we can get all the kids together. Our Minnesota family hopes to arrive Friday.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Pie

When Rachel and I visited our brother Tim last week, the subject of Christmas gifts came up and we reminisced on the story Mom would tell about one time when they were out shopping with Dan and Tim before the holiday. It was time to leave the toy store and Timmy, then maybe three or four years old, turned around and waved at the Hobby Horse he'd been admiring. "Bye, Haudie..." he said. Mom said it was the first,and maybe only, time he'd ever asked for a specific Christmas gift. Of course, they went back later and bought it.

It's harder to pick gifts for Tim now (Mom always got him a new shirt), but I got the idea of taking him an apple pie for Christmas. It became the topic of conversation while we took our drive. At one point Rachel leaned over, looked him straight in the face, and said, "Do you want an apple pie for Christmas?" and he answered with a faint, soft "yes."

So, this morning I baked another one of my frozen apple pies and while it was still warm, Rachel came to get me for another ride to Newark. We arrived shortly after lunch (11:30 am) and went out for our customary drive through the drumlins while he ate a few cookies and a glove compartment candy cane. Of course, we stopped at Wendys for that "one small chocolate Frosty, please" which he devoured in a minute flat.

 We had one of the aides take our picture before we went home today. Just one picture, because the first one turned out so good. Even Tim smiled when we showed it to him.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cookies, Kind of...

Rachel and I made cookies today. Not the fancy cutout kind, but cookies plain and simple. Snickerdoodles and Snowballs. I think we had higher expectations than we were able to deliver today...

We were distracted by the heartbreaking news that my cousin lost her 27 year old son last night. Three deaths close to us since October; a 21 year old, a 26 year old, and now a 27 year old. The last one left behind a 10 year old daughter... When will it end?

So we measured, mixed, and baked, but our hearts were elsewhere. We were aching for our cousin and her family as Christmas grew another year sadder. And I practiced using my new camera lens and light scoop. How about that sleepy grandson of mine?  My sister's dog decided to hide after I took his picture. Literally took off into the other room. The snowmen on the shelf were more than happy to smile and cooperate. I think I like them.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Snow Globes!

Quite often Thursdays are the days I stay home. Last night I had a whole list of things to accomplish today, but now that today is here, I can't remember what they were. (Lucky me!)

So I've not done much. However, I did attempt to put together some stemware snowglobes. They turned out cute enough but need a little bit of "polishing" around the edges. Perhaps a better method for cutting the bases so as to clean them up a bit.

Potential. They have potential. If I find some ambition, which must be around here somewhere, I could likely make the snowmen myself. I know I have some Sculpy Clay. It's probably hiding out with the ambition... Now if only I could get the two of them together. We might actually accomplish something not only fun, but wonderful too!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

And So This is Christmas... and What have I done?

It's been a strange December. Most years I am totally stressed about finding ways to make sure that Christmas is special. I want so much to make it magical that it only ends up being burdensome instead.  I'm still stressed this December, but not about Christmas. In fact, it's probably the most "relaxed" holiday season I've had in decades. (Of course I could decide to stress tomorrow...)

I haven't gone shopping, I haven't baked cookies, and the decorations are minimal. I did buy a book for each of my ten grandchildren, and yes, I am counting Number 10, who has yet to make his official arrival. I bought a few shirts and sweaters for myself because I know 1. I like them, 2. I need them, and 3. I want them, and therefore have wasted no money on their purchase. It may sound selfish but it isn't feeling that way, at least not today.

I have been asked several times what I "want" for Christmas. I was asked again today and my answer was "nothing, I want absolutely nothing," and the truth is, if there is something I want, I couldn't tell you what it is. I might, perhaps, have that information on a shelf in the back of my mind, or maybe in an obsolete brain drawer, but for the moment that little bit of information is lost. No sweat, I'm set.

I do have plans to bake cookies with my sister and youngest daughter on Friday. Hannah doesn't get out much, so I invited her along. And on Saturday morning I will bake one of my frozen apple pies and deliver it to my sweet brother at the group home where he lives. Somewhere in the mix there is a plan to decorate graham cracker houses with the grandkids, but I'm not entirely sure whether that will be on Christmas Day or New Years. If we wait we can get everybody in on the fun.

On Saturday evening I hope to attend a Christmas Eve service at the church where my number four son is one of the worship leaders., and on Christmas morning go to our own church. That is my plan and I rather like it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bouncing About

I'm not the kind to take unnecessary risks, so bungee jumping is not on my "list of things to do" before I die, or die doing for that matter, but life can sometimes feel like a bungee jump all its own. It's the bouncing back and forth (or up and down) that leaves me both dizzy and quite unable to stand up and walk a straight line. (Yes, Wanda. Another riddle for you... Sorry.)

So anyway, I've been bungee jumping (figuratively), not by my choice, but bungee jumping regardless. And I don't care for it much. Every time I think I know which direction I'm headed, I am yanked back upward and come back down again in a slightly different location. It's exhausting.

I have been grateful recently for quiet afternoons here at work. While my friend rests, I sit in her room doing puzzles on my Nook or, if I'm feeling brave, I lug my laptop along to work for the afternoon hours. Today "The Hat Man" is out in the hallway singing Christmas songs to the members who live here. Each song comes with a new hat perched atop his head. I can only imagine what his closets look like. haha! I found his picture on Facebook. Apparently he is a regular in several area nursing homes. Some of the aides here think he's creepy, but I find him rather amusing. Of course, all of today's hats are Christmassy in one way or another. I didn't see any Sombreros, but then again I'm not out there with the rest of the audience. G is tucked into bed and we're listening from here, just across the hall. I told her she has the best seat in the house.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mr Gnome stayed home...

Maybe I'll write this book...

No one had actually ever seen the gnome, but the fact of his existence was hard to deny.

 Somewhere, deep behind his brightly painted tree house door, he was likely having his breakfast of buttered toast and coffee with sweet cream. (Like Wanda.)

Outside the snow piled high and deep, much too deep for a gnome to trudge through, and so he stayed inside...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Glad Tidings and Joy

I met up with Santa Claus this morning and he gave me the prettiest Christmas wreath ever! It has pine cones, apples, and lemons and looks beautiful!!! It even smells good. I only wish I had a pretty door to hang it on, but both my doors are glass and I did not find a safe hanger inside Rite Aide, so it is hanging outside the backdoor on a nail on the porch wall.

Thank you, Tom!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

And So... (The next post will be cheery. I promise.)

When I started blogging nearly eleven years ago, I never dreamed where it would take me, the friends I would meet, or what it would become. When and if these pages disappear, I will have lost a great treasure. So much has been recorded; lazy days and laughter, joys and sorrows, gains and losses, heartache and hopes. Sometimes I find myself looking back, finding vague posts that leak heartache. They are often so vague that even I don't know precisely what was on my mind. But they're vague on purpose, because my wish has never been to expose the pain or wrongs of others, but rather release the ponderings of my own heart and soul.

In spite of my efforts, sometimes my words hurt someone. Perhaps they think I am trying to inflict pain, expose their bad deeds, or get even. Or perhaps the pain in my heart is just too much for them to bear. We've had some rough spots through the years and the journey isn't over yet. I don't know where the road is leading, only that we must travel on, even when the way is rough and the hills are steep. Even when the destination is uncertain.

I am working to change things in my own heart and actions. Those changes are difficult and uncomfortable, even strange, but necessary. Sometimes I will have to say no when my heart wants to say yes. Sometimes I will need to do things that I desperately don't want to do. Sometimes I will need to chose courage over comfort. Life is fraught with pain. It is unavoidable and also a gift that gives us new perspectives, fresh vision, and tender hearts.

I pray that those I hold the dearest, the ones for whom I would (and have) laid down my life, will learn to love and forgive me because I have never wanted anything other than good for them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Out and About and a Naughty Tale

Yesterday was nice, but I didn't take any pictures. Took my camera into Panera Bread with me but it was in my backpack and I never gave it a second thought until Cindy and I were pulling out of the parking lot, in separate cars. I had it with me when Deborah and I traipsed through two Goodwills and one Savers, but it never came out of the vehicle. I didn't buy much, but I did find a giant coffee cup, a few blue and white plates, and a lovely piece of pink transfer-ware.

However, I did grab my camera Thursday afternoon when one naughty cat hopped up on my stool by the kitchen table.

I decided to appease him with a nice little made for cats video. Birds and squirrels. Once I turned the volume up, he took notice and was thoroughly entranced (and entertained).

The furred and feathered friends in the video were terribly brave and took little to no notice of the ferocious feline watching their every move. The longer he watched the more excited Naughty One became until he could stand it no longer. When one of the animals disappeared off the edge of the screen, he made his move. He lunged toward it only to find it had disappeared altogether and he went crashing off the side of the table. ha ha!

 He was left looking disappointed and slightly confused, not at all sure where his snack had taken off to and how in the world he had missed. He is such a very good hunter, after all. After his tumble off the table we both (he and I) decided it was time to put the computer away and find a different game to play. He may have been no longer entertained, but I was.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Out and About Once Again

It's not been the best of weekends, my heart is pained, but today I am meeting my friend Cindy for an early lunch and afterward I shall find my friend Deb for a traipse about the area thrift shops. Maybe we'll find something wonderful! Maybe I'll even take my camera.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

There's another shovel right there. Wanna help me dig this hole?

Looks like I'm just digging myself in deeper. Do you think it's possible to dig oneself out of a hole? What if I dig down to the water table and let it fill up? Will I drown? Or can I hope to swim out? What if all I know is the back float and doggy paddle?

It's snowing. Winter has returned. Finding myself tired and discouraged today, I took a nap. This afternoon I built a fire in the wood stove. I didn't bake or paint. I didn't want to. But I am still thinking about it.

Friday, December 09, 2016

A Thrift Shop Treasure and a Grocery Run

Today I meandered... Goodwill, Walmart, Aldi, Target, Barnes and Noble, Panera Bread, Hobby Lobby, Wegmans... My wandering through Goodwill found me with a painting in my shopping cart. It's not huge, maybe an 8x10, has a beautiful bouquet of red and yellow flowers, and says "Hecho en Mexico" on the back. I love the frame too.

In Panera Bread I bought a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and ate it with my free for the month of December bagel. Mostly I bought groceries. This afternoon I made my own pot of broccoli cheddar soup. We ate it with salad and batard bread, My newest grandson came for supper and he smiled at me.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

There Will Be Pictures...

... eventually. Maybe this afternoon.

There are so many thoughts bopping about in my brain that I scarcely know which one to follow. There is a house to clean, cookies dough to mix, and a Bible study to complete... The chickens have been tended, the dish washer run, and the bed made... But those aren't the bouncing, bopping thoughts.

I am still thinking on my ability (or mostly inability) to say no and go with it. I am also pondering my own lack of skills when it comes to asking for what I need. I've taught my children the bad habit of being indirect ("Hey, Joe, what are your plans today?" I heard myself say.) rather than being specific. (I should have said, "Hey, Joe, do you have time to help me move some furniture this afternoon?") I know I can feel cornered when asked what I'm doing on a supposed day off, rather than being told exactly what is needed. It makes answering so much easier if I know precisely what is being asked. Perhaps I need to let the need for specifics be known, and then start saying no when the questions aren't direct...

It's not really others I am working on, it's me. I'm not trying to be mean or selfish, although it can feel that way. I am trying to untangle some of the unhealthy thoughts and habits I've picked up on my way through life, thoughts and habits that make relationships and living day to day more complicated.

And then there are those bouncing Christmas thoughts... "Never be ready" seems to be my motto, but I'm purposing not to stress this year. (Ha ha! I'm trying to purpose anyway.) Thinking about painting some of these ideas on a few of those pallet pieces... If only I can sit still long enough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sparkle On!

We have a tree, now all we need is some lights and sparkle.
I'm going to work again today, without a headache, and then I will have several days off. I think that will be nice. Perhaps I shall sparkle the house and tree, whip up some cookie dough, or play festive music... Maybe I'll even take pictures!

Today marks the 5th anniversary of a terrible fire in West Webster that killed the two brothers and father of my childhood friends. It is also the birthday of the oldest son who went to kindergarten with me, whooped me in winter games of King of the Mountain, and pummeled me in after school snowball fights. He is one who would knock on my bedroom window in the dark during our teenage years in hopes that I might have a piece of gum to mask whatever kind of mischief he'd been up to. I rarely see him now, but still smile at the thought of childhood/Wonder Year memories, and once in a while the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies brings him to mind.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Adventures in Migraine Headaches

Every four to five weeks I am assaulted by a vicious headache. The latest arrived late Friday night while I was out at a concert with my friend Cindy. Perhaps the poutine, nachos, and dipping pretzels post concert contributed, I'm not sure. I know they didn't contribute to a restful night, but they were yummy, even if it did feel like I'd eaten rocks.

I took that headache to work this weekend and was thankful for an easy job. I popped ibuprofen at regular intervals and attempted to relax my knotted muscles. Last night I left work with aching eyes, tense muscles, and a throbbing head. On my way home I stopped at Wegmans for "supplies," not because I wanted to, but because my "girl cupboard" upstairs was completely bare and I can't have that.

I gathered my things, took them to the register, and checked out. As I headed out the door to my vehicle, two cars were crossing in front of the store. The first stopped at the stop sign and then continued on. The second, which should have stopped also, appeared like it would not. It was my turn to cross. I weighed my options and decided to keep walking. (Please understand that although these headaches can make me feel like I am going to die, I had no wish to. I would not have actually walked in front of the vehicle...) The driver hit the brake last minute and came to a jolting stop. I momentarily wondered if I he was swearing at me, but I was tired and took little thought. By the time I got into my van, I'd all but forgotten my brush with death.

I did not open my computer last night. When I arrived home I took a decongestant and a Benadryl, found my jammies and my pillow, and laid down on the couch. It wasn't until I opened my computer this morning that I found this message from my favorite friend Deb..."so hey... sorry for almost nailing you in the crosswalk at wegmanssss"

Now, mind you, I don't typically play chicken with moving cars. I don't want to die, even if my headache is making it sound like a viable option, but hey, if I am going to get run over, it may as well be by friends... right?

Deb went on to explain what I had missed just moments before exiting the store. "the suburban in front of us had literally a chinese fire drill with people spilling out 3 sets of doors. they stopped to leak people twice. dave's not patient at all. so while i was still laughing, he almost flattened you... you would have loved it. one girl had frosty pale orange velvet leggings and another had a blue super hero cape"

It's all too funny this morning, even if I am still fighting that headache. And Dave, he's the one always telling us not to get arrested on our adventures.

(Too bad I have no photos. Chickens will have to suffice.)

Friday, December 02, 2016

What? No Pictures?

I've not been out picture taking since my walks in the woods. I've been preoccupied instead. Went out to breakfast and lunch with friends but didn't take the camera out. Went to visit  my new grandson, but rather than take his picture, we cuddled. It was nice. I've been to work, church, and out shopping, but not down to the bay and not in the woods.

I did have a message from the Cabinet Maker last night. He said a black lab was out in the yard chasing our chickens, but I wasn't there with my camera to document it. I counted eleven chickens yesterday morning. Now we have ten. Unless she's in hiding, 1 black lab + 11 chickens = 10 chickens. I'm keeping them in today, just in case, Hate doing that, but it's better than the alternative. Aye yi yi! Kids with sticks and a black lab. Those chickens never catch a break.

My friend Lia sent me some pictures of Sofie last night. It's good to know she's happy and enjoying her "new" home. She's been there almost a year now.

UPDATE- Eleven. there are eleven chickens. One was out alone today when I returned from visiting my brother. (It's hard to get one stupid chicken into the coop without letting the others out. I lost count of how many times I followed her around it.