Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Very Good Morning

Fanny, Sookie, Ruby and Rick wish you a very Merry Christmas!

And my dad wrote a beautiful poem for his Christmas card this year that must be shared:

And now on to the Swedish Ginger Cookies (the fat in the cookie: bacon grease) for my dad, who is visiting tonight with my Grandma Ethel, and Boeuf Bourguignon for dinner!  The very good morning will soon become the very good day.  Cheers!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Prettiest Sight To See

"...It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys in every store, 
But the prettiest sight to see
Is the holly that will be, 
on your own front door."
--Meredith Wilson

I LOVE to be home during Christmas.  And Christmas officially started for me on Friday--my last day of work for 2 plus weeks!  Yay!  There are so many fun things to do at home this time of year.  The advent calendar has really been bossin' us around, but we don't care!  

Friday was low key because little Miss was sick, but we had a nice fire and read some books.  She's really loving Snowmen at Night, thanks to my swell friend, Tia, who pointed out that there is a hidden Santa face on every page.  Fun!  On Saturday, the calendar told us this:

Fine with us!!  Jack went free-form, Caroline cut out hearts (why not?), and I used a pattern book and made snowflakes with bells, kitty cats and ballerinas.  See:

And I'm leaving these up all winter and want to make more, more, more!  Cuttin' out snowflakes is fun, yo.  

The weather was beeautiful on Saturday, so we actually left the house and walked/rode/scootered up to the park.  We were the only ones there; I could not believe it.  Jack and I shot some baskets.  As I was teaching him how to shoot, I had to wonder if I was the best person to do this.  You should just see my form, it's not good.  But, Jack survived my "coaching" and we enjoyed it.  

Upon returning home, we worked on our Christmas cards.  I'm pretty sure everyone reading this blog is on my card list, so here's a little preview for you.  And by preview, I mean, 'Heads Up!'  Because it was a mass glittering this year, and the glitter is en route now, from my home to yours:

The advent calendar also said this, and so we did:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Earth's Hopes Awaken

"O thou joyful day,
O thou blessed day,
Gladsome, peaceful Christmastide.
Earth's hopes awaken..."

--from an old Sicilian Christmas song

Even on a regular old Wednesday, the fact that it's the Christmas season inspires me to work a little harder to *bring the sparkle* at home.  It's only for about a month, which is a doable amount of time to special-it-on-up for the kids. And each day is joyful and blessed, just like the Sicilians say.  And I'm sure my favorite Sicilian, OM, would agree!   

As I made dinner, Jack worked on his homework, which was to interview me about a special holiday memory from my childhood.  Here it is:

Why yes, Jack, it is a fun memory!  Thank you very much for asking. I'm all about the magic of Christmas...still.  

I make a lot of fires in the woodstove this time of year, obviously because it's cold, duh, but also because it's sort of special and a warm fire brings us together.  We all love to hang out by it--who wouldn't?  It is the cozy business.  Caroline plunked down next to the woodstove and played cards--she made up a new game called Capture the Ace.  She played for a while, with great joy and gusto:

Jack played his own game, too.  But his deck was super weird, he said and only had 9s, 10s, and face cards.  I thought it had been messed with before I had my a-ha moment--pinochle deck!  From back in the day (college) when I played a ton of pinochle one summer.  I haven't played since, but I bet it would come back to me quickly.  Pinochle, anyone?  

When kids want hot chocolate, I say, YES, and when they suggest we stop by the store on the way home to procure marshmallows AND whipped cream, AND sprinkles, it's a go.  

All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth!

Gladsome, peaceful Christmastide!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Everlasting Light

Tonight, we had fun!  When we got home, after Jack gathered the eggs and I started a fire, the kids did the advent calendar. Look what it said:

First though, we had some chicken noodle soup with Christmas tree-shaped cream biscuits(Recipe: 2 c. flour, 1TBS baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. sugar, stir together and add about 1 cup of cream (heavy or half and half--whatever you have, although heavy cream makes a tastier biscuit, of course). Stir the cream in until it sort of pulls away from edge of bowl.  Knead gently for about a minute, pat it out on a lightly floured board, and cut out with your fave cookie cutter.  Transfer to a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.)  Caroline also played Christmas carols on the kazoo (from yesterday's envelope).

And then after finishing her homework, she read me a Christmas book, Snowmen At Night, while we sat in front of the tree:

After that, we took a drive to see the LIGHTS!  There is a big neighborhood up the hill that goes bananas at Christmastime.  Almost every house gets into it and the result is spectacular!  We'll probably go on this drive at least one more time this year.  It's a sparkle-fest!  See:

"...Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight."
--from O Little Town of Bethlehem by Lewis H. Redner

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Follow Me in Merry Measure

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa-la-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la
Strike the harp and join the chorus,
Fa-la-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa-la-la-la la-la-la la la la
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fa-la-la-la-la la-la la la!
--from Deck the Halls, a traditional Welsh melody

I am BIG on decking the halls.  Huge!  For 11 months of the year, I like things plain and simple.  For 1 month of the year, I love the fancy!  We do 2 Christmas trees--kids' tree downstairs:

And fancy tree upstairs with Grandma Marge's beautiful ornaments:

And we do an advent calendar from December 1-24, which I realize probably isn't the real advent season or whatever, but it works for us.  I made 24 little envelopes and wrote a number on each one with sparkly glitter.  Then I clothespin them to some yucca branches that I keep in a jug.  See:

On the days the kids are with their dad, they get little chocolates and candies, but the days they're here, it's usually some sort of experience or gift.  For instance, today, this is what was in the envelope:

...and so we did:

So much fun!  And tonight we got to light the first candle in our advent wreath (Nancy and I made advent wreaths for all the Sisters, as a surprise).  Tonight's candle was for hope.  I hoped for the health of my loved ones, Caroline hoped for our family and friends (general, non-specific hope), and Jack hoped to get lots of Lego sets for Christmas. Ha!  Here's the wreath:


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So Take the Lively Air

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!  I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always.  And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 --Theodore Roethke

Have I mentioned that I love Theodore Roethke?  He's one of my favorite  poets evah.  This poem is a villanelle--a form I just really, really like.  And there is much truth in these words:  we think by feeling; what is there to know; I hear my being dance from ear to ear; God bless the Ground!; What falls away is always. And is near.  Nice, nice, nice and true, true true!

With the approaching holidays, I think it's important for me to take my waking slow.  Every year, I try to simplify a little more.  Buy less, make more.  Keep the excess in check.  Well, except for my beautiful tree.  More is better there.  But it's OLD stuff, family history glittering from the branches.  I love it!!! And this year, I'm making (sewing!) a Christmas tree skirt!  I finally figured out how to run my machine and it pleases me to no end.  Once I finish the skirt, who knows what else I'll sew? While the children have visions of sugarplums, I have visions of cloth napkins, patchwork quilts, a-line skirts and aprons.  Jump BACK!

I've already bought a few things for the kids, which feels good.  I'm going to try hard not to go overboard crizzaaazzzy!  And I'm NOT shopping big box this year.  I would rather suffer death by fudgsicle sticks (if you know me, you know what I mean) than shop Black Friday at midnight on thanks-freakin'-giving.  One of my fave blogs, Bedlam Farm, introduced me to the idea of Plaid Friday--which means shopping locally and supporting real people's businesses instead of the big box Man.  After I drop off my kids with their dad on Friday, I'm going to go to Miller's in Carnation to buy trinkets for the advent calendar, and whatever else strikes my fancy.  That is one awesome shop with a super nice owner from whom I like buying some Christmas.  And I encourage everyone reading this to do Plaid Friday, too, as much as possible. 

But in the immediate future is Thanksgiving, the most wonderful, overlooked holiday.  We are celebrating with Carrie and her family and it will be lovely.  And relaxing.  And fun.  And after that, we'll talk Christmas, mmmkay?

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Then All Is As It Was

"...The moon goes to the full;
The moon goes slowly down;
The wood becomes a wall.
Far things draw closer in.
A wind moves through the grass, 
Then all is as it was."
--from Theodore Roethke's The Small

It was a beautiful weekend in Eastern Oregon.  Home.  We celebrate Thanksgiving early to avoid holiday traffic and worsened weather.  It is a great thing!  Everybody congregates in Cayuse at my dad and Tina's, even my mom, the surprise guest, this year.  Yay!!!  We had a great time enjoying the beauty of the fall landscape:

Watching dogs and horses do their thing:
Geisha and Gonzo-- Temple Guards

Ed and Crystal out to gather rosehips and sumac, with Darby, Chester and Ruger
Crystal and Sugarfoot

Oh, they were just happy to see us
Babies and beer bottles and cousin-time:
Layla loves a cold Beck's

Jack and Buzzle rasslin'

C.Line and Auntie Erin
And special time with Grandma Ethel, who will always be 30-10, for the record.

The wind blew, the grasses undulated, the clouds moved in and out, the rain came, the rain stopped.  We were all together in Cayuse, nestled into the hillside, being thankful.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Does What It Should Do Needs Nothing More

That's a great line from Theodore Roethke's poem, The Manifestation. Here are some images from this weekend that do it for me.
Baby IvyAnne Belle's tiny foot

Mama Whitney

Jack and his working bot, made entirely from spare parts

Caroline's fairy garden

Oh, hello Coco Kitty!
Morning Sunlight

A frosty chicken morning to you!

Fall meadow and a swing


Gino and the river

Jack in silhouette

Sweet Angelina