Wednesday, December 31, 2014

there are no little things

As the year closes and a new year dawns, a person can't help but to reflect.  In many ways, it was a very productive year.  In many ways, it was not an easy year.  In many ways,  it was a time of growth and realization.

I stepped out of molds I had placed myself in.  I stepped into new adventures.  I recognized some weaknesses I possessed, and while acknowledging them, I moved on.

This was the year my youngest became a teenager.  This was the year I became a chicken momma.  This was the year we lost Silas.  This was the year I traveled back to my hometown with my eldest.  This was the year I reconnected with my yoga self.  This was the year I read a lot.  This was the year I found a strength within.  This was the year I fell in love with growing things. This was the year I recognized beauty in life and death.

On the precipice of a new year I reach for the things I gained in the old year, eager to carry them with me.  And at the same time I lay down those things that are better left behind.  I am thankful for my experiences and, with all the hope of a child, I look forward to new adventures in a new year.

A few of my goals:

1.  explore more writing
2.  count my blessings
3.  see the good
4.  say I love you
5.  take risks
My less poetic goals:
1.  finally decorate my bedroom
2.  keep a nature journal
3.  organize the garage shelves
4.  expand my garden
5.  read, read, read
Sometimes, when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think…there are no little things.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 25, 2014

it is Christmas

It is Christmas.  My family has been gracious to me over the last few days as I've spent most of my time laid up on the couch, sick with the flu.  I've not been this sick in a very long time but today I feel more like myself.  My husband is good to me and willingly picks up the slack but it feels good to be able to wash up a sink of dishes and take care of the chickens. 

My Christmas preparations took a backseat to just getting healthy again.  The cinnamon rolls came from a pop open can.  The veggie tray and Chex mix didn't happen.  As it turns out, these things really only matter to me.  Simplicity is the name of the game and everyone is content.

Let's repeat the mantra "Christmas is not about the presents" while I tell you how my guys spoiled me so.  I received a generous gift card to a clothing store from my youngest son.  He rode his bike downtown to purchase the gift card by himself.  Selfless.  I also received fuzzy socks and my favorite dark chocolate truffles. 

My coffee will be sipped in style with my new mug that says "there is not enough coffee in the world to make me a morning person".  Can I get an amen?

  I Believe There is not enough Coffee in the World to make ME A MORNING PERSON!!

My husband got me one of those new casserole crockpots and I'm super excited to get to using it.  Actually, I'm going to use it today for scalloped potatoes for our Christmas dinner, along with ham and brussel sprouts.  And it will come in very handy with the potlucks we do every Sunday at church.
Also gifted to me: my favorite novel.  I look forward to reading it again and again. Holding the weight of the book in my hands, the words like familiar friends speaking to my heart.

"Christmas is not about the presents"
We have a friend that is a photographer.  While at his home recently, he shared with me a beautiful photo he had taken.  He was able to capture the beauty of an aged white rose among rust colored fall leaves, the light playing off them.  I saw something more in the photo, prevailing beauty through pain, a theme that has resonated with me over the last year.  Our friend gave me a large print of the photo, ready to frame and display.  I feel honored that he would give me something as personal as his artwork.
Along the same lines of generosity I feel like I should mention my employer.  I feel very blessed to work for this Christian woman.  She cares for each individual employee as a human being, not just a means to a fiscal end.  We were all spoiled at our recent Christmas party where my husband and I feasted on prime rib.  I was given a generous bonus inside a Christmas card with a personal handwritten note.  I'm thankful because I know that she is an exception rather than the "norm" as far as bosses go.
So, bottom line is: I'm grateful.  The people around me are generous, thoughtful individuals.  They allow me to see beautiful kindness that acts as a balm in a weary world.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
And, Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday before

It is the Saturday before Christmas.  I'm sitting here in front of a fire with a dog and a bowl of popcorn at my side.  It is mid afternoon and Blake is watching the end of a college bowl game on tv.  It's cozy, a day that calms the soul.
I made some treats earlier to share at church tomorrow.  My kitchen is one of my favorite places to be.  It is my space, my things, my organization (good and bad).
Lemon cookies (light and soft and perfect).
Pretzels with dark chocolate kisses melted in between,
 then dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles.

Blake and Charlie were checking out the neighborhood together.
Last Saturday we were in Arlington (Washington) at a JROTC competition.  Seven schools were represented.  Austin shot with the rifle team and took 6th place.  His team earned 1st and 2nd place overall.  Here he is with 3 of his teammates (he is 2nd from the right).
This next picture is from the award ceremony.  Our JROTC is represented by the group in the upper right corner, that isn't all of them, just the representatives.  The rest of the 90-some kids from our school are sitting in the bleachers just below me. The group on the lower right is Marysville Pilchuck.  You may have seen them in the news as they suffered a school shooting just six weeks ago.  They were top notch at this competition and took home many awards.  My Austin is in the center of this shot, standing there in the middle of the group of three, receiving his award for marksmanship.


Happy Saturday before Christmas to you!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

early December

"I almost froze my buns off!"

This from my next door neighbor the day I went over with her mail and some fresh eggs.  She was referring to the cold snap we had last week.  As a petite woman with a child-like voice, to hear her say "buns" was amusing.  She appreciated the eggs and was sure to tell me she likes to look out her window and check on my chickens.

The weather has warmed up enough to bring on rain.  The chickens are, at this moment sitting on the back step just under the overhang of the roof, preening themselves.  Earlier I caught Braveheart up on the woodpile, looking down on the other hens with a sort of satisfaction mixed with trepidation.

As with most folks, we have decorated for Christmas.  We picked out a beautiful tree at the local tree farm.  The teenagers helped hang the old familiar decorations despite the fact that they can barely be together for 5 minutes without arguing.  Oh, this may be the thing that unravels my ever-lovin' mind!

These "China dolls" were given to me by my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Maxfield.  She had been a missionary to the Philippines.  These are one of my favorite possessions and while my children think they are creepy, they grace our Christmas tree each and every year. 

The coop could not go undecorated.  I made the girls a simple wreath with plastic ornaments.  Here they are studying the new addition:

I read a great book this week, Brain On Fire.  This is an account of this young woman's battle with a strange brain disease, how it took her into the throes of madness and back into health again.  Now I'm certain, with each forgetful spell and each crazy moment that I am indeed going mad and I have some sort of neuron-killing virus breaking down my brain bit by bit.  Or I have teenagers, which is more likely.

The eldest teen is in Olympia today at a rifle competition. The venue for this particular competition is little more than a barn with cement floors and no heat.  I think he likes the challenge but I bought him those little air activated hand warmers anyway and told him to stick them in his pockets or his socks or wherever needed the warming!

The youngest teen and I made sugar cookies.  We used my mom's old cookie cutters.  I love the vintage look of them.  And the memories.  My boys have been playing with these cutters since they were babies.  Whenever I was in the kitchen and they needed something to occupy them I'd get these out, along with some old measuring cups and spoons.  They'd be content while I did whatever I needed to do.

The finished product.  With some visitors at the back window.

When I was little my dad would sometimes make me lunch.  He was great at Top Ramen.  I liked it with a squirt of ketchup.  It's a sort of taste of my own childhood.  Not healthy, barely food, loaded with preservatives, stays in your gut for ages, high sodium.  I know, I get it.  But today, I fixed myself a package.  The brain has a section to remember smells and tastes and it associates these with other, more palpable, memories (I learned this in the book I mentioned earlier).  Today, I got to remember my dad.