Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
One of our gifts was a sample pack of coffee that included House Vienna blend. “Does that come with those little sausages?” he quipped.
Santa gave each of us a “Life is Good” shirt, with a request that we take a group photo wearing our shirts. Three of us were ready to go for our photo shoot, but Junior was not wearing his. Why? “I can’t wear a shirt that says life is good,” he says, “my life is great!”
And in the perhaps-you-had-to-be-here category… I had fed the pups shortly before Trisha and Junior arrived Christmas night. When they got here we exchanged hugs and hellos and then he said, “Where are those puppies?” I escorted him to my office where the little ones were in their box. He picked one up and was carrying it around when it pooped on him. “Whoa!” he laughed, and she pooped again. We outfitted him with a towel to prevent further wardrobe casualties, and though he avoided further soiling the puppies were just getting going. When it came time to head to bed it was also time for the wee ones to have another feeding. Junior and Trisha offered to take the feeding so that I could go to bed, an offer I welcomed. Trisha and I got clean papers and a towel to put into the puppies’ box while Junior went to heat the bottles. A moment later we heard him in the doorway and turned to discover that he had learned a lesson earlier about pooping puppies: he stood there with bottles in each hand wearing nothing but an apron and a mischievous grin. (Photo is a reenactment)
What takes the prize for this holiday, however, was a moment at the Opry Saturday night. There's a song by Rodney Atkins than Junior claims is his song for Ken. It's a wonderful song about a young boy who imitates his father and wants to grow up to be just like him. During the early part of the show I was thinking that it would be nice if there were a song that could somehow capture the special "mother-son" relationship that he and I have. Heck, I thought, I might even have to write my own song since it is a pretty rare thing to hear about. Well, I didn't have to wait long to be proven wrong. A family bluegrass group called Cherryholmes performed a song called "This is my Son." Half way through the song the tears were rolling down my face, and I reached across the back of the seats to touch Junior's shoulder. When the song ended I turned to look at him and he said, "I love you."
Here's the song.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Keith Urban was utterly charming. For one thing he wasn’t in ratty blue jeans and a t-shirt. He actually wore a button-down shirt and what looked like, dare I say it, a comfortably worn pair of jeans sans tears and holes. (I suspect Nicole’s influence). But that’s not the charming part—simply an improvement in appearance, in my opinion.
The Ryman is actually an “intimate” setting, at least compared to stadiums and the like where so many concerts take place these days, and considerably smaller than the current Opry venue. The Ryman holds about 2000 people on two levels.
When Keith came on stage he told the audience that his wife’s family is in town for the holidays, and she told him it would be lovely if they could all go to the Opry while they were here. Could he call them up and ask if he could perform? (Is that cute or what?) He did, they said yes.
After his first song (he played solo, no backup band, just Keith and his guitar), a member of the audience lifted his three-year-old daughter up onto the stage to offer Keith a rose and a little stuffed monkey. Keith thought this was really cute and started to talk to her. She got shy and turned away, so Keith bent down to be at her level and tried again, asking her name. She would have none of it, so her father replied, “Ellie.” Without missing a beat Keith said, “Wow, Ellie, you have such a deep voice.” He continued to try to engage her, but to no avail. Sweet, sweet moment.
He then asked if there was a stool that he could sit on for the next number, and a woman near the front of the stage called out, “you can sit on my lap!” He laughed good-naturedly, then after a stool was offered settled into “Making Memories of Us,” which he dedicated to Nicole (somewhere out there in the audience).
He had planned two songs, the standard Opry set, but the host for his half-hour invited him to sing a third. He asked the audience for suggestions, and people shouted out all kinds of ideas. “Well, that was a mistake," he chuckled. He finally settled on “Somebody Like You,” and launched into it with full audience participation, country style. You know, like when he gets to the chorus he stops singing and the audience continues on for him? At about the third time around of that the audience was in full swing, and they imitated his “you-uuu-uuu-uu-uu-uu” with such vigor that he broke up laughing. In fact, he was laughing so hard that he couldn’t collect himself to pick up the next verse. He stopped and laughed. Tried again. Laughed. It was the greatest thing.
Not to slight Julianne Hough, who is utterly adorable, she did a great job as well, but her performance just didn't have that added personal touch. We'll cut her some slack, she's new at this (and since we adore her anyway, it doesn't matter). We also had a little fun prior to the start of the show. Our seats were in the last row downstairs, on the far right, just in front of the WSM radio booth. When we got there a guy was inside being interviewed. People (okay, women) kept coming up to the booth to take pictures through the window. Trisha and I kept wondering who the guy was. Turns out it was Chuck Wicks, to which we replied, "who?" We learned when we came onstage that he sings "Stealing Cinderella." Oh! That guy! (Hey, he's a newcomer, not recognizing his name is okay). More fun was that Julianne also came into the booth and sat on his lap for a laugh. All ten feet away from us.
The only disappointment was that my colleague, Stu Phillips, was slated to be on the program last night but was a last minute cancel (well, somebody had to give up a slot to make room for Keith!). He has offered repeatedly to have us come to the Opry as his guests and come backstage. Bummer that of all nights when it would have been such fun to do that we couldn’t! I think I’ll give him a good ribbing next time I see him, which may, in fact, be today.
The kids are still asleep as I write this, and pictures are in Trisha’s camera, so I’ll try to post those later. In the meantime I'm enjoying thinking back on a fun evening and savoring the memory.
Happy Sunday, it sure is in this house!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
By late afternoon I confess that the stressed, nonstop task-focused nature of the day had worked to deflate my spirits significantly, but when J & T arrived that all changed. We had a great evening and lots of fun. We love Trisha, and she is a good match for Junior in so many ways. By the time we finished with stockings in the wee hours, I was a zombie, and the kiddos kindly offered to take care of feeding the pups so I could go to bed.
When we got up the next morning Junior was fast asleep on the couch with a cover half open over him. I got him properly covered and pillowed (look, Mom--it's the pillowcase you made me when I was a kid!) so he could catch more comfortable zzz's, and the rest of us chatted, cleaned up the mess from the night before, and enjoyed coffee.
A planned trip to Cracker Barrell for breakfast turned out to be Mexican for lunch, and before I knew it it was 3:30 in the afternoon before I had a chance to take a breath and a break. Phew! After that I spent more hours than should have been required to make a blog to post our Christmas letter, but at least now it's done. If I didn't send you a link (it was the middle of the night after a puppy feeding when I sent it out), you can see it here.
This afternoon the plans are to go see the holiday decorations at the Opryland Hotel, then head downtown to go to the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman. Keith Urban (hmmm, where have I heard that name before?) and Julianne Hough are part of the lineup, and I won't even start to tell you what we went through to get the tickets!
Well, that's enough for now. This has turned out to be a happier holiday than I anticipated it would be, and I am grateful for that.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Finally, some puppy pictures! Three weeks and a day today.
The top photo is of the pups in their most typical pose: asleep! They feast, they pee and poop, they recover from the combined effort. Rinse (do not miss this step!) and repeat. Mom isn't around to take care of this essential step Are they not the cutest?
We know the mom is a Golden Retriever. Junior thinks the father is Rottweiler, given coloring and head shape. He may be right. If so, these will be large, sturdy dogs!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Updates: the puppies are doing great. Growing like weeds, noisy when they're hungry, and last night slept through the night! At this time there are no plans to keep any of them. I am fostering them through difficult days and enjoying being able to fuss and coo over them.
The ticket that wasn't: turns out that my insurance card was in the car all the time! Right there in the back seat in its original envelope, buried under some other "stuff" that doesn't belong there. Grateful once again for the grace of that day!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
So now I am joining the ranks of the aging population that includes daily multiple pill-popping. Apparently my body hasn't caught on to the fact that I am a non-conformist. We'll have to have a talk.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Nancy, the owner and patron saint of rescued animals (in my opinion), was overwhelmed by a number of things, among them a litter of ten puppies that were two weeks old and suddenly orphaned. The owners of these pups didn't know how to, and wasn't up to the care necessary at this age to keep these puppies alive. Nancy had five of them and the the other five were being fostered, but only until this weekend.
"I'll take them," I found myself saying. I came home and told Ken that it would be the best Christmas present he could give me if he would consent to me bringing them home for a while to foster. "Sure!" he said. Merry Christmas!
They are too young to be utterly adorable, with squished in noses, closed eyes (that are starting to open) and closed ears. Oh, and sharp little toenails! But they are adorable nonetheless. The mom is a Golden Retriever, and dad is anyone's guess at this point. There are four black and one golden, and I am working on names.
Pictures later. When they're asleep they are all cuddled together for warmth, and when they're being fed, well, my hands are a little full to act as photographer. So in the next few days when I'm not finishing up Christmas activity I'm feeding puppies and teaching them how to pee and poop! Thank you, K-Mart, for cheap towels.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
And a word about that chair and footstool on the right. We picked that up at a warehouse that sells off hotel furnishings when hotels remodel or refurbish. This set came from the Opryland hotel, and I've got two of them, plus a pair of standing lamps, at my office at the church. The chair and footstool cost $89. Talk about a find!
Anyway, back to Sunday. One of the nice things about being back at Epiphany is the people there. There are old friends from my time there before, but I am also enjoying getting to know and building relationships with those who are new to me. Among them is Yolande. Like Ken, she's the kind of person who never met a stranger, and we both enjoy her so much. She hosted a holiday open house Sunday afternoon and demonstrated that she deserves the sobriquet given to her by her friends: the hostess with the mostess. Check out this spread!
But besides being a wonderful hostess, Yolande is one of the giving and generous people I know. In the short time that I have been at Epiphany she has "been there" for me more than you can imagine. When Ken has had his health blips of late, she's the first person I call. It is a blessing for me to have such a person in my life, especially when the rest of my sisterhood lives so far away. And Yolande, I'm not just saying this because you are reading this blog, I would have written this anyway! Hugs to you!
And hugs to the rest of you all. You all bless my life and make it richer.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - does jamming in the living room with your brothers count?
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain (actually hiked up a mountain)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped - and I don't intend to!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child - how about a dog?
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb - the picture is in my college yearbook!
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon - Ha!
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run - I say "Ha!"
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught yourself a new language - I tried to learn Gaelic--resources for self-teaching in this part of the world are extremely limited!
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - I paid for someone's toll once...
44. Visited Africa - technically, yes, I've been to Egypt, but that is such a limited experience of Africa...
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance - I rode in the front seat, does that count?
47. Had your portrait painted (it was done in pastels)
48. Gone deep sea fishing - I was along for the ride and too young to hold the pole
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie - Do I get half credit for being on the CBS evening news?
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving - some things are better experienced virtually
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - but I've floated in the Dead Sea!
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Gotten a speeding ticket
Some of these things are on my to do list. Others--not so much. You?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
No problem. This is stuff I can do pretty well in my sleep, but we are going to be a small and thoughtful (read "smart") group, so I want to do better than pretty well, and I've been brushing up.
Holy Cow, if you'll pardon the seasonally appropriate pun. There is some really cool stuff out there that I knew nothing about! Like the origin of Advent calendars (without knowing it my Mama raised me right--we had a tree on our calendar); the three-fold coming of Christ (and here we've been talking about the second coming like THAT was the ultimate); the difference between hymns and carols...
I'm having a ball with all this minutiae that is actually quite meaningful. Of course this stuff would be fun for me--I'm a person who loves metaphor and symbols, and the Church is loaded with it. Who knew (well, I guess God did) that becoming a priest would be such a good fit for me?
This also coincides a bit with my usual annual desire to go on a rant about the abuse of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Food Network's Twelve Days of Cookies (some of which I will probably try to make) and a few other web sites splash "12 Days of" stuff all over the place with such glee that it's hard to feel annoyed, but I am a bit of a stickler about this kind of thing. In the spirit of the season and of learning, however, I've decided not to rant, but relate.
The "twelve days of Christmas" refers to the season of Christmas according to the liturgical year of the Church. The first day of Christmas is Christmas Day, and they follow accordingly through January 5, also known as Twelfth Night. January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem and the recognition by humanity of God's divinity in the Christ child. (This very abbreviated lesson is now over.)
I have a friend who, with her husband, open their Christmas gifts to each other during the twelve days, one gift each day. One year I even did that with my friend Clare, since my package to her was shipped so late that it was likely going to arrive sometime during the "12 days." It's actually sort of a fun way to extend the season. And in some households I know, the Christmas tree goes up Christmas Eve and comes down on Twelfth Night, so as to be true to the season (according to the church year).
Whenever you mark the twelve days it is my wish for you that you enjoy them. I'll love you no matter what.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
On another note: yesterday I took part in an "alternative Christmas market" at the local high school. Sponsored by the student honor society this gathering was intended to help home-based, direct sell businesses like mine. It was open to teachers in the county and a handful of others, and considering the small target audience I did pretty well: took several orders and booked two shows, with a potential third. That's better than most booth opportunities that come along, so I'm a happy camper.
Now it's time to consider how to make the best use of my day. I guess writing my "annual report" for Sunday's annual meeting should be on the list, along with a topic for that morning's adult forum. Ideas for the latter? Have a joyful day!
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
We're approaching Christmas differently this year. Our own financial challenges mirror those of the economy, so our gift-giving this season will be considerably reduced. A handful of small gifts that I couldn't resist will wend their way to recipients later this week (or so I intend), but there won't be additional purchases. What funds we have will be directed to a charity to benefit those in circumstances more dire than our own. It is a decision with which I am more than happy.
But still. I really enjoy giving gifts to people I love, and I miss that quest this season. There are some wonderful gift stores in town, and other ideas pop into my head about things to do or create. I've been eyeing the box of Christmas wrapping paper with longing, and as I look at the bare space beneath our Christmas tree I wonder how it will look with just a handful of gifts below. The picture above is from two years ago, when the kids were here and we enjoyed an abundance of giving. (It was our first married Christmas, and the mom in me was a little out of control.)
It will all be fine. As I suggested to my congregation on Sunday, the season isn't about clinging to traditions. It's about reaching into the light within to carry us toward the light without. Along the way we are to share that light with others, and in the process discover that whatever darkness hovers around us, it lacks the power to conquer.
Today, Christmas music on the stereo and decorating the house will be the balm for my soul. That, and dipping into the light.