Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'"
"...And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Quiet Morning

Sunrise this morning
Sometimes I make comments about how I'm up at the crack of dawn and I am busy, busy, busy. But you know what? I was up at the crack of dawn today and didn't immediately start on my to-do list. I just laid in bed and enjoyed the quiet of the house.

I slowly woke up with the rising sun and let my thoughts form. Of course, I mentally went through what I want to accomplish today, but I spent more time thinking about my life.

As you well know, I've been pretty intense about the whole process of moving and buying and selling houses for several months now, and things will continue to be intense because that's just the nature of the process. But during this whole undertaking, I've had a warm house to live in with all of the amenities. I realize that this is not the case for many in the world and many right here in our own country. Especially when nature gets involved, there's not much you can do except recover. Case in point, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They had horrible flooding at the same time we started our house change, and as I sit here in my new house, many of them still don't have a place to live. A few are still in tents. Some are in sheds, and others are cramming their large family into one room. The list goes on. They are dealing with house issues on an entirely different and more serious level than I can ever imagine.

We all know that no matter what challenges our lives present, there is always someone who has more to deal with than we do. I don't always like that argument because it suggests that your particular circumstance isn't difficult because someone else's is worse. But sometimes, that's a good thing to remember. I've been telling myself all along that the stress during the last few months is a good thing and how lucky we are to be able to make this change. But I hadn't heard it until I took a moment to be truly quiet this morning.

I hope each of you gets a chance during this busy time of year to be quiet and hear what you already know. I know for me, it's been a great way to start the day.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Thankful Sunday, December 18, 2016

Look carefully and you'll see two cedar waxwings among
the icy branches, berries, and fog.

I am thankful for a morning at home.

Most days, I'm up early and dashing off to work. Then it's off to the stores and back to the old house to work on things. Consequently, I'm not spending as much time in my new home as I would like. Well yesterday morning, things were covered with snow and ice and it wasn't safe to go out, so I stayed put.  I did a little tidying and made a pot of turkey soup and biscuits. And a great thing happened while I was working at the kitchen sink. Out the window, I saw a flock of cedar waxwings eating fruit off a tree in the front yard. They were joined by several starlings. It was a sight to behold. And for the quiet morning at home that allowed me to see it, I am thankful.

Starlings were enjoying the icy berries also.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas ornaments, again

We put our tree up this week, but since Wally and Theo were busy with their own lives, it was just me and Ward working on it. And mostly just me. What all of this means is that I lacked my usual audience to tell my stories to about each ornament that we have.  Remembering where we got everything and sharing that with the rest of the family is a long tradition of mine. Since I didn't get a chance to do that with them this year, I'm going to share a few of our decorations with you. I've done this in previous years on this blog, so if you happen to be "busy" when it's time to read this post just like my family happened to be this year I'll understand.

Ward and I got married at Thanksgiving and our friends used Christmas decorations they found in the local store to decorate our car. This bulb was one of several that filled our back seat. Thirty five years later, we have five of those bulbs left. Make that four. I dropped one and broke it this year. :(

The next year when we had our first tree, my aunt sent us a dozen handmade ornaments to help us get started with our collection. This was one of them.

We have several places represented on our tree. WV, of course, where I grew up.

Virginia, where Ward grew up. (That's a state quarter in the middle.)

and Texas, where Wally and Theo spent their early years.

A Zulu doll from Ward's cousins in South Africa.
Notice in the background is another doll a friend brought me from Mexico.

The dinosaurs get hung on the tree every year. These were a gift to Wally when he was a toddler.

This is a knitted cover over a clear bulb that a friend made for us.
Some day when I get all coordinated, I'm going to try to make some of these.

Every year the leader of our book club gives us something for Christmas. This year it was this reading snowman. I smile every time I see his happy face.

Last year we had a craft party to make these origami stars. Mine didn't quite turn out, so my friend made me several that I have placed around the tree.

This God's Eye was made by my nephew. When he was young, he detested anything that involved fine motor skills. So when he made this for us, I was very touched because I know it took tremendous effort for him.

And the tree wouldn't be complete with the apples we hang around the bottom for the cats. They bat them off the tree and chase them around the floor. The apples act much like ping pong balls and the cats love them. Every day we do a roundup of the apples and put them back on the tree.

So there's a small sampling of my stories. Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Yes, still...

Like many of you in the blog world, lately it's been difficult to spend as much time as I would like writing, reading, and commenting on posts. The are a couple of reasons for this. One is this time of year is busy with holiday preparations and the other is we are pretty much still in the "all house, all the time" mode.
This is what I much prefer to pillows, comforters and paint colors.
Yesterday morning, we woke up to snow and this red-bellied woodpecker
at the seed feeder. This was unusual since there was a suet cake nearby.
That's what they normally prefer.

Actually, the latter is the bigger reason I haven't been posting. I got really tired writing about how busy I was and how stressed the whole house thing was making me. About how until we got the other house sold and some money back in the coffers, I was going to be worried. That was part of my money anxiety talking. Not always rational thought, but that's the way my brain works.  Although steady progress is being made, I am still feeling overwhelmed in the house area.

We are cleaning up the old house with lots of cosmetic work--painting, small repairs, cleaning, and staging. Staging. That's my new obsession. I decided that I could stage the house cheaper than the stager who would stage it and rent us her stuff for three months at a time. And we could use some of the things in our new house.

However, I've had to do a lot of educating of myself in this area. I'm not naturally gifted in decorating in the first place and I had to learn the difference between decorating to live in and decorating to sell. And that involves, among other things, taking away personal things but not making the place look too sterile. A fine line to walk for sure.

Aunt Martha and I went out recently, and started to scope the stores to see what was out there and how much it costs. We found out quickly, that we are behind the times in what is current in decorating, and our tastes are not the ones to sell a house. I am drawn to detailed nature themes and Aunt Martha is drawn to Southwest themes. Neither one is neutral enough for staging. In fact, we figured out that if we liked it, it probably wasn't appropriate for the job at hand. Ward went with me recently to do a little shopping in this area and figured out the same thing.

I am using all of our large furniture like couches, tables, beds, etc., so we haven't move those yet. It's funny how the furniture that seemed good enough when we were using it every day, looks pretty shabby when you look at it through a stager's eyes. Sofa covers, new comforters, and lots of throw pillows have helped in this area some.

But here's the frustrating thing with this process. I don't have the eye to perfectly visualize what I find in the store and how it's going to look when it gets in place or will coordinate with the other pieces that we already found. So there's a lot of buying, trying it out, and either keeping or returning. I am pretty tired of shopping for household goods.

But I have learned a few things. There can be individual parts of a room that I don't like, but when combined together make a very nice complete picture. And a couple of times when this has happened, it's been very satisfying.

So I'm still here and fretting about house stuff. But I'm trying to look at the positives and what an incredible amount we've already accomplished. And when I take a minute to let my thoughts slow down, I remember how fortunate I am to be fretting over something like getting a new house.

Until next time...

(You would think that I would have some pictures of all of this work to share, but I don't.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

One Special Bird

Recently, I told you about my morning with Sarah and her friend, Beth. Here's what Sarah and I did the rest of the morning after we left Beth and her singing. It was a simple, routine morning, but one that gave me a smile for the rest of the day.

The air had a chill to it as Sarah and I did our regular walk from one building to the other on a short path that goes through the woods. Sarah enjoys these walks because she loves everything to do with nature. We always stop and examine a leaf, bug, or bird along the way. Actually, we examine many leaves and bugs- some of which we collect. More often than not, our pockets are full of her treasures. This morning as we were walking along, Sarah said she saw a skunk. I told her, I wasn't sure it was a skunk and suggested that maybe it was a cat. I then told her about a black and white cat I used to have named Samantha.

I shared stories about how Samantha would stand up on her hind legs and hold her paws like she was praying. I also told her how Samantha would drag clothes into a pile and how one time she made a pile of my mother's underwear by the front door. Sarah was amused by these stories and asked how old Samantha was. I told her that Samantha lived a long time ago and she had died.

We finished our walk to the other building and sat down to examine our treasures. However, Sarah had other things on her mind. She was obviously still thinking about Samantha because she told me that it was okay to be sad sometimes and gave me a big hug. She said that she had my back and she loved me. But to top it all off, she dug through the bag of stuffed animals she had with her and picked out one specific one for me. It was a very well loved Beanie Baby bird that she told me was a kookaburra. I was afraid that Sarah would miss this bird when she got home so I suggested that she could keep it for me and she could bring it back every time we met. You see, even though Sarah has dozens and dozens of stuffed animals, she has given each one a name and personality. She would definitely know if one were missing. But she insisted that I keep it, so I did.

After our very tender moments of Sarah consoling me about the loss of Samantha, we started to sing Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum tree laughing as we sang. A perfect ending to another special morning with Sarah.