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?