Friday, December 29, 2006
This applies to other areas of the house as well. The kitchen counters are littered with things that have never found a permanent home. Things we don’t use often can be relocated to a storage area, and the counters opened up for their real purpose—food preparation! Ken got several cookbooks for Christmas, and though he has less time to cook than he used to, and I am doing more of it than I did, there’s plenty of inspiration available to put that counter space to delicious use!
So, where to start?!! It always seems that to bring order to an area a little disorder is necessary in the process. Maybe an hour a day, every day, making a dent here and a dent there will lead to the solution. All I know is that I have to try.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
We took a couple of hours to open presents, had a late lunch, and then Ken popped in his new “DaVinci Code” DVD and I promptly fell asleep on the couch. Not a commentary on the film, but my fatigue! Later we grazed through dinner, enjoyed some time in front of the fire, and then called it an early night. It was a nice, just right kind of day.
Here’s a guide to a few pictures from the last few days…
~a family portrait, including dogs!
~When he wasn’t helping Ken at work, Junior spent a fair amount of his time with us crafting five gifts for Christmas, which he finished shortly before we left for church Christmas Eve evening. They were shadow boxes that he made and stained, and filled with flags that he had taken with him on combat missions during his last tour in Iraq, along with a certificate of authenticity, his Ranger battalion coin, a Joint Services Commendation Medal that he received during his last stint, some Iraqi currency, and two pictures (one from his Ranger graduation, and the other of him in his dress blues). He worked so diligently to get these done, and I’m so proud of his efforts, as well as his accomplishments!
~Both Junior and Ken suffered thumb injuries over the weekend—Ken smashed his thumb when it didn’t get out of the way of a hammer in time, and while cutting the Styrofoam for the shadow box Junior lost the tip of his thumb to the knife blade!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Ashley and Travis arrived late on Friday from Savannah, detained by considerable traffic between Atlanta and Chattanooga. But oh, they’re young! At 11:30 PM they sat down to begin playing cards, and I took my tired body off to bed. The day had been one of nonstop activity—grocery shopping, food preparation, errands, wrapping stocking presents, cleaning the house, making up the beds and doing laundry, and so on. Poor Ken managed to smash his thumb early in the day while he and Junior worked on a project, so his task list went immediately out the window, with a few items delegated to Junior and me. It was a little crazed!
Saturday was our virtual Christmas, with a leisurely breakfast (this because it was being made from scratch, and there’s only so much you can do to hurry things along under such circumstances!). After breakfast we rearranged some furniture in front of the fireplace and opened stockings. Travis was a riot. Except for food items most all the other stuffers were wrapped, and he tried to determine what was in each package before opening it (see photo). His first attempt: a lighthouse calendar, which he nailed right down to the theme of the calendar! Other amazing, accurate guesses included a combination lock (and yes, the color was blue), post-it “flags,” and some silicon gel used in diving. How he did this I do not know. I think the only thing that really stumped him were some pop-up sponges, but even those he determined were not “in their full form.” The dogs had stockings, too, and were quite attentive in their posture awaiting their treats!
After stockings we broke for a little noshing and grazed our way into the afternoon, when we shifted gears to presents. One humorous moment in the day occurred when Junior opened a gift that was labeled for him but turned out to be mislabeled, and was intended for Ken! (It was an easy mistake, the two boxes were the same relative size and weight, and had been wrapped in the same paper!). Ken’s gift (a tool belt), was from my dad, so to balance things out I also opened a gift from Dad: portions of the Willow Tree Nativity set to complete what Mom had given me a couple of years ago. See photo! From Ashley and Travis I received a Willow Tree figure (a girl holding a sheep—have you noticed that I have a thing for sheep?), and an Italian charm bracelet. Great choice! Now I can be on the lookout for charms to add to it.
When it got dark we headed to the Opryland Hotel to see their holiday decorations, lights and displays, and stayed there for dinner (picture below). Ashley and Travis shoved off to Travis’ parents’ house in Clarksville just as I was heading to bed, and Ken and Junior stayed up a bit for some further conversation.
Today has been more like an ordinary Sunday, with the exception that we’ve got a late service at church for Christmas Eve. This morning we actually had a crowd of 65 (40 is a high number), but there are lots of folks who are out of town, and those with kids won’t venture out late, so I’m not sure what sort of showing we’ll have. Parishioners worked very hard to set up the parish hall for worship, and did a fabulous job converting that space into a place that feels sacred. In fact, it inspired this morning’s sermon, and I was able to echo the gospel text of Mary’s Magnificat and say to them that their souls magnified the Lord.” It was a very meaningful worship for many, and tears were flowing!
Okay, this could become a book, so I will cease for now and resume later with further reports and any tales to share (there is at least one!). Good tidings to all, and Merriest Christmas from all of us here.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
But it just goes to show that anything can happen to alter life as we know it.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from the senior warden at my church. A small fire had broken out at the church in a room under the choir loft. The copy machine had melted (though not entirely), and was thought to be the culprit. Thank goodness the roof is in the process of being replaced, because it was the roofers who saw the smoke and called 911. Had they not been there, chances are high that the church would have burned to the ground, or at least damaged significantly.
This morning I made a trip to the church to check out the damage first hand. While I was there a representative from the fire marshal’s office stopped by, and he determined that an electrical short was to blame. The fire was contained to the room that had been serving as a bizarre storage area: odds and ends, Christmas decorations (that we had removed the previous day to decorate the church!), the copy machine, a refrigerator, the Sunday ledger of receipts, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. A slightly humorous note: some sheet music survived the mini inferno, titled “In the wake of new disaster,” (it was written post-Katrina).
Things don’t look bad, but the pros have been there and given the place the white glove test. We didn’t pass. Anywhere. Smoke damage may not be visible to the naked eye, but it is omnipresent, as is the odor of burned plastic, rubber, and other assorted items. The smell was toxic, and I’m praying that my lungs recover quickly! It remains to be seen if we’ll be able to worship in the church on Sunday. Service Master has committed itself to cleaning the parish hall, but they were certain they couldn’t clean the nave and sanctuary in time. All we really need cleaned to worship is the pews. Either that, or we can all wear our best “get grubby and dirty” clothes for Christmas services.
Sigh. Anything can happen.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Back at the ranch I finished wrapping a few more gifts so that I could close down “wrapping central.” I had been using the guest room, and as of this evening, Junior is here to occupy that space! Tonight I’ll work on signing the letters and stuffing those into envelopes to be mailed tomorrow.
Progress. I like it. And I should sleep well tonight. Ahhh…….
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
But wait. There were deer in the yard! There is a “family” of four that we see pretty regularly—one older doe with three younger deer—as they have a habit of traversing our back yards in the early morning hours noshing on their leisurely breakfast snacks. They had spotted us before we saw them, and were stock still. This morning our usual family had guests with them, another doe and another young one. They stood watching us as I tried to determine whether to continue our pace forward, driving the dogs crazy as they picked up the scent, or wait until the deer decided to move off in another direction. Their position indicated that we were interrupting their route. Too late, Juliet saw them and began straining at the leash, and Dooley began to do likewise. The deer, calm as ever (they’re very familiar with the neighborhood), moved slowly to give us berth and continued to watch. They found a safe distance for them, and we continued on our way.
One of these days I want to have my camera handy when we encounter them. They’re not skittish (not usually), but they do like bad light!
Monday, December 11, 2006
The unexpected late hour of Junior’s graduation (3 PM, when we anticipated a morning ceremony) put us home late on Friday, and Saturday morning I had to catch up taking care of a few things that I had hoped to get accomplished the night before. Those delays made for a later than desired departure for St. Louis, where we had a few wedding gifts to return before stores closed that afternoon. En route to the Gateway City we also had a change of venue for our accommodations that night, shifting from one location to the home of some friends who get the hospitality award for going beyond expectations—they had returned earlier that day from a week in the Bahamas! We joined them in time for a delightful happy hour and then dinner at a small Italian restaurant called Mangia! Yum! It was a very pleasant evening and good to get caught up with them (these are the same friends whose son is getting married in Napa in the spring!).
Sunday morning was Ella’s baptism and birthday party, where Ella rose to the occasion (literally) by standing on her own for the first time while we were all gathered to encourage her and applaud madly.
We departed a little earlier than usual from those festivities to make one more gift return on our way out of town, and then pointed the car southeast and said, “Go!” It did.
We are glad to be home, reunited with beloved four-legged children and faced with the next set of lists. Among the items on mine today is getting a new car windshield installed, making a card for our new presiding bishop that I will take with me tonight to be signed at our annual clergy women’s Christmas dinner, making a dish to take to said dinner, begin writing our Christmas letter, and a couple of errands on my way to the same said dinner. I still have presents to wrap to get shipped, but I suspect that won’t happen today. That’s what tomorrows are for!
And speaking of lists, I’d better start tackling it!
Friday, December 08, 2006
Anyway, we had fun last night—out for dinner, a quick stop at Winn Dixie to pick up a deck of cards, a swing through Starbucks, then back to our “quarters” for a few rounds of rummy. I don’t play cards very often, so I always have to relearn, but I did okay.
Shortly we’re heading to breakfast, after which we’ll have a long stretch of day to hang out until a very late graduation at 3:00. It’s going to make for a late night getting home, but thems the breaks, as the saying goes.
Y’all have a good day!!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Anyway, I decided to rectify the Holiday Sweater Problem and added a new one to the wardrobe. It was quite adorable, if I say so myself, but wouldn’t you know it, the first time I wore it I managed to splatter small bits of barbecue sauce onto the front. It was a “wash by hand” sweater, and we all know what that means—it would be months before it would be wearable again!
So last year I indulged myself and bought two more sweaters, ready for whatever action might come my way. I’d resorted, frankly, to wearing them at home even if I never stepped one foot outside the door, so they would get some use! This year, we actually got invited to a holiday party over the weekend. Time to pull out the seasonal attire and dress up in full holiday regalia (which simply meant donning the sweater). But imagine my surprise when, at least among the first dozen women to show up at this party, none of the women were adorned with holiday fashion or even holiday color. In fact, half of them were wearing skirts! I gasped inwardly—I was out of fashion touch, and now I had a closet full of sweaters that would languish!
Eventually I was joined in my state of fashion staleness by two other women (one older than me, which makes me think this is a generational thing), so my pulse relaxed a tad, but it make me wonder. Is seasonal attire generational? Socio-economic? Dictated by Paris Hilton and her cronies? I’m at a loss. But I have decided this much—I will wear my fashion without apology and enjoy the festive look. Who cares, anyway?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
1) I got a phone call in the morning from a friend whose son is newly engaged, and he and his fiancé would like me to perform their wedding next spring/summer. They will fly Ken and me out to Napa for the event! As I said to her, that’s an offer I can’t refuse!
2) I had a great shopping day on my way home from church, narrowing down the list of gifts to get to a mere handful
3) We received a wonderful wedding present from a group of friends (you know who you are!!) that will allow us to take a honeymoon—finally!!
Kip would call this a big biscuit day (as would I), and future days won’t have such obvious “goodness” happening from which to glean my three good things. But what a wonderful way to start a process of reflecting on what is good, to improve dreams (and sleep!), and increase my joy. I’m on the lookout now!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Here are a few more pics from the wedding that we got from Mom yesterday. I love the one of Mom, Sammy and me. I’m afraid there really aren’t going to be any good pictures of the dress. It’s embroidery is not symmetrical, running down the left side of the bodice and skirt, and it seems that in all the pictures I am turned (mostly) with my left side away from the camera. This picture is probably the best so far that shows the dress from head to toe. The other is of the best women of the bridal party, including our best girl, Katie. (Left to right are Jayne Trapnell, our Yenta, from Ringgold, GA; Caroline Gilje, friend from St. Louis and veterinarian extraordinaire; Judy Stoughton, matron of honor, from Manchester, CT, and friend since the fourth grade; and Barbara Walton, friend of mine and of my family and my grandmother, from Augusta, GA. Katie needs no introduction!) We’re still waiting to hear from the photographer about her pictures!!
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The kitchen window is a half window, with a wooden façade below it. It’s the only window that we really spend any time looking out of that faces the front of the house, so I didn’t want to obscure that small space by hanging the wreath there while there was an adequate space to attach it below. But I’m wondering if it looks funny hanging lower than the rest of the wreaths, which are suspended in the upper half of the windows. Any thoughts out there on the subject? I could really go either way.
We’re grateful for a nice day with moderate temperatures to get some of this outdoor work done, and this afternoon will go to Cheekwood (our botanical garden) to see their holiday display and get some pictures for use on my cards (I hope). I am loving this long weekend, and it’s nice to have a leisurely pace after the fullness of the previous months. That will end soon enough as Christmas preparations swing into full gear! Today, I’m enjoying a gentler pace.
Friday, November 24, 2006
The weather was lovely, too, sunny and pleasant, and the dogs and I enjoyed an afternoon stroll after getting the kitchen cleaned up. In the evening I made bows and attached them to wreaths that I bought on Wednesday to hang on the windows at the front of the house. Forgive me Mom, they’re fake! More economical over the years and you can’t tell the difference from the street. We had hoped to bring decorations down from the attic but didn’t get to that, so will do that this afternoon, as well as get the wreaths hung. Here’s a picture of two of them ready to go!
It’s so nice to have a place to decorate after the limitations of the cabin the last two years, and though I’ve always enjoyed doing this on my own, what a difference it makes to have someone to share in the preparation and pleasure!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
In short, our present day Thanksgiving (minus the parades and the ball games) is grounded in a historic truth, though we also give that truth short shrift by focusing only on blessings. That first meal was also the fruit of two differing peoples that found mutual benefit in forging relationship, and establishing bonds of trust, however tenuous under the circumstances. It strikes me that the greatest gift of that first year was more than survival, it was hope. And after learning about what that first year was like, hope was indeed a great gift.
So today I give thanks for what is and has been, and in the spirit of my pilgrim ancestors, celebrate and offer a toast to all that is yet to come. Slainte!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
For the gift of memories of treasured times and places, and the joy of experiencing those feelings here and now, I give thanks.
Monday, November 20, 2006
For the most part I haven't missed sugar—I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth before beginning this new regimen—though every now and then a little something sweet would be a wonderful thing. The other day while shopping for my “healthy” Thanksgiving turkey at Wild Oats I happened upon these little morsels. Most of the time when I check labels on items like this I expect to be disappointed, but this time around, the ingredients fell within the realm of the consumable. Yeeeehaaawwwww! Spice cookies are among my favorite (it’s no shock that the wedding cake was a spice cake), and these are incredibly moist and yummy. Thank you, Uncle Eddie, for creating nirvana for this girl’s taste buds, and for taking a bite out of the sacrifice of eating healthy!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
When I first met with the owner of the shop I took with me several books with Celtic designs, and we talked about the complexity of transferring such designs to a cake. They did some research, and I did some research. They tried a sample, and we did more research. Finally I found several quilt border templates that I thought might work, and Amy and I conferred about which of them would work best. The result is what you see here.
I know this picture has already been posted, but it is repeated here for a reason. The cake was prepared the day before the wedding, and that evening photographers from Enchanted Bride magazine were at The Bake Shoppe doing an interview, and our cake caught their eye. They photographed it, and it may appear in their magazine! Unfortunately it wasn’t fully decorated at the time (flowers were added the next day), but the fact that they liked it enough to photograph even without the flowers speaks to its artistry. To me, the end result was perfect. Thanks, Amy—I hope they publish your cake! (and PS--thanks, Pam, for the photo!)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Today I am trying to get back into the swing of things. Thank you notes are a must! Laundry is caught up, and the house is in reasonable shape after the chaos of the weekend. I’m aware of a little post-event letdown, so I am being nice to myself. It really was a great weekend, and I’m envisioning a scrapbook page following the “Master Card” motif: wedding dress, $???; centerpieces, $??? A perfect wedding, priceless. You get the idea. I welcome suggestions about what items to include in that list!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
-My nephew, Jesse
- getting ready to cut the cake
- a pose at the altar between photos
Monday, November 13, 2006
I have no pictures of my own to share, and at this point only have a few that Jules has forwarded on to me so that I could have something to post here. I am hoping that others who attended will send along their pictures. It feels very strange, as a photographer, not to have been in a position to be behind the camera and snap away. Our professional photographer used film, so for digital images to share I must rely on others.
These pictures are from our first dance, when we were attempting to waltz. I say “attempt” because my dress was so long at the back (even bustled) that I kept stepping on it, and as any dancer knows, that can tend to mess you up a bit. At least there are pictures!
Back at the ranch we have opened the gifts that were brought to the reception, and now the work of thank you notes begins, not to mention finding places to put things away! At the moment the dining table is close to overflowing, but frankly, that's a problem we can live with.