Sunday, December 25, 2011

i is for infant

Especially this day, wishing you simple gifts...
love, joy, peace.

Monday, December 19, 2011

H is for helper

Just a few days left in the countdown to Christmas. Couldn't we all use a little help?
Above is my best helper, Dovey, assisting me with my greeting card production. That was before our latest trip to the city.
Since I've been back at the farm, Dovey has insisted on being within sight of me constantly. Today she wants to be on my lap any time I sit, like now, for instance, at the computer. Earlier today when I decided I needed a power nap, she lay her little self right across my chest. And this evening she has tried to keep me from crocheting my last minute snowflake ornaments. When she saw I had no intention of stopping, she just made room for herself the best she could.
Love you, Dovey.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

botanic garden under lights

Still visiting the city! I've got the annual Christmas outing with my garden shopping buddy/teaching colleague Barb along Chicago's Michigan Avenue tomorrow, and an order of soap oils to pick up for an Amish friend on Friday. That's given me  lots of time for area shopping and a little visiting, too.
Yesterday I stopped at Quilter's Destination, my favorite quilt shop in my city home area. Patti, the owner, is currently running her annual 12 days of Quilting shopping specials. (As if I need an excuse to shop there when I'm in town!) Her husband has just put his hand to some in shop installations of new display and sewing spaces which came together beautifully.
I squeezed in an eye doctor visit yesterday and I'm happy to report all is well on that front. Twenty two years since my first eye surgery, doesn't seem possible!
Today I have some sweet discount coupons to try to use and plan to stop at Chalet, mostly to fill my senses in their greenhouses.
After school yesterday Jerome and I picked up Phil and Kelly at Loyola Academy (where Phil teaches and coaches) and drove to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, intending to see their train exhibit and view the holiday decorations. They always do a great job with holiday lights. The photo above is a shot of the floor in one of the greenhouses, snowflake lights beemed to your feet from above!
Unfortunately, all of the tickets for the exhibit for that day were already sold. Bummer. Well, we enjoyed the greenhouses and displays that we were able to see inside and the lovely lights outside.

Inside tropical greenhouse looking toward entrance to the train exhibit, Wonderland Express

 an enormous sphere of moth orchids inside tropical greenhouse


  lawn outside exhibit hall.

 Phil and Kelly

We ended our too short visit with the kids at Bonefish. Dinner was delicious and we lingered over shared desserts, not willing to let the evening end.
Bliss for this mom who spends far too much time away from her lovely family.

Monday, December 12, 2011

G is for gaudete sunday

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice.

I've been in love with Latin since studying it in high school. No, actually, I've been in love with Latin since  my earliest memories of attending mass. I truly miss hearing it in worship and was pleased to be reminded of it yesterday.

I'm once again at the city house. I arrived on Saturday as a surprise for Jerome. His church choir, accompanied by a string quartet, was to present Bach's Christmas contata, For Unto Us a Child Is Born, during worship the following morning and I wanted to be there for him and for me. The worship folder for the service contained the above quotation and at the lighting of the advent wreath we were all reminded of the third Sunday's rose colored candle of joy, the gaudete candle.

If you look closely at his baton lying across the score, you can perhaps imagine the breadth of its history. I am delighted that he is once again directing a choir. He is truly gifted as a director.  Yesterday I witnessed just how much he is already loved there, after just short of a year in the position. The tiny choir, 8 voices, was so moved by the combination Bach and Butera that we were all brought right into that lowly manger. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

of christmas cards and coyotes

I put the finishing touches on this year's holiday cards this morning. I do enjoy the process once I get over the planning stage! Simple punch, embossed image and rubber stamps.
Yesterday I had a brainstorm about the garland of lights on the front porch railing. Last year I had to go out and plug in and unplug the lights every night. One night last season Dovey ran out the door as I went out to unplug them. I was able to just barely grab her by the tail as she dashed for under the porch. I was terrified!
Some little bit of grace made me think of an outdoor timer, really how dull could I have been not to think of it sooner? So last night was the trial run. It became very cold and the wind was right out of the north across the front porch. Then just after dinner I heard the coyote pack howling so close to the house it gave me shivers! I was simply thrilled to know both Dovey and I would stay safe indoors and our lights would still shiny cheerily in the darkness and turn themselves off at bedtime.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December the 5th

My mind wanders this morning to my mother, whose birthday anniversary it is today, and to my daughter who will be bringing home two additions to her family before day is through. My heart swells with the thoughts of both of them.

But I'm also beginning to feel the now insistent  tug of the approaching holiday season, trying to fix in my heart just what Christmas means to me at this time of my life. What beliefs I still hold about the 25th of December and thoughts of a new year on the horizon.

As has been my custom since long before I was married, I will be making my greeting cards again this year, and today's goal is to decide on a design. I have been collecting the "stuff" needed for years and years, and can't begin to remember each and every stencil, rubber stamp, or punch I own. I have saved some of my old cards as sample designs and feel some anger at myself for not saving one from each year. I hunted today for one I remember seeing recently, a silk screen print of the Chicago skyline with the tall Ls of alleluia strategically placed in the tall buildings against the night sky, but couldn't find it here at the farm. Perhaps it's filed at the city house??
I should let go of how my card will be received and focus instead on what I want it to bring of me to the receiver. Not an easy task. Settling for an idea has always been the hardest part of my creating. I'm listening to holiday melodies on iTunes, and looking out at the soft dusting of snow outside my window, flurries in the air. Yesterday I nearly finished decorating the farmhouse and it looks quite festive. I've got a few lovely candles lit now and have spread my tools across the table. The box of cards from former years is out as well.

The card below was our greeting 33 years ago when Phil was a babe in arms and we were worshiping at our new church where Jerome had been appointed director of music just months before. Only yesterday he and I were talking about how special attending that church was for us in those beginning years.

It's just a simple line drawing of our family. Jerome had not yet grown the beard he has worn for over 30 years and he was still an avid pipe smoker. It was a  time when everything seemed clear and easy for me. How has life gotten so complicated??
Now you can see how I get so sidetracked from settling down and getting the job done. A simple task of creating holiday cards has turned into a stroll through memories and the morning is gone.
I will eat some warm lunch and strive again to begin.
Don't forget to put out your shoes tonight for St. Nick and look tomorrow for word from Anne about "the boys" and from me regarding the card situation.
And as you go about this week so near the holiday mayhem, be purposeful and peaceful.

Friday, December 2, 2011

F is for friend

Recently I had the need for a few quick birthday cards, for a young male teen and a one year old, that I didn't have time to make myself. (Where has time gone recently?)  I was nowhere near the small shops that I can count on for beautiful, thoughtful greetings. I was near a large card and party store and so, "needs must," I took my chances. Scanning the shelves of cards, lots and lots of them, I felt as if I were being assaulted. Ugly often suggestive illustrations, base puns, and not very cheerful notes inside. Even the "funny" cards were questionable. Either that, or they were so saccharine sweet you'd gag reading them.
I did find blah cards that would suffice, sadly chosen because of my lack of foresight, and not at all representative of me or what the recipients mean to me. But it got me to thinking about how I tell people what they mean to me. Not only family, but the many lovely people in my life who give my days depth and dimension though I spend so much of my time alone.

Maybe it is because my days are mostly quiet that thoughts come to me frequently of so many dear friends. This morning while mixing my favorite cranberry muffins, I let my mind dwell on Diana, whose recipe I used. She and I often spent time together while I was raising my children, a woman's circle colleague, a member of my Jung study coterie, a fellow cross stitch nut (her work is exquisite) a fellow bell ringer, someone who appreciated Jerome's organ and choir work at out church nearly as much as I did. Our lives do not intersect as they once did. Sad. Perhaps it would lift her to know that today I sent healing energy her way and felt blessed to know her.
Each of you who read this post should know that I hold you dear and count myself extraordinarily lucky that you are in my life through this marvel of technology. Perhaps having read it you may give thought to sending a "real" note to someone who means something special to you. I hope you do.