art, blessings, Blog, creativity, friends, jewelry, memories

Feeling Accomplished

Day 57

Today I felt accomplished in some things but recognize I still have a number of things on my list that remains. It’s nice to check them off as tasks are finished.

Decorations

IMG_7915Finally, all the indoor decorations are complete. The tree has a topper and a skirt now. The fireplace is decorated and the nativity scene is out. I love this phase because that means all the mess of boxes can be put away until it’s time to take it all down again.

Hubby started putting the outside decorations up. We just do lights outlining the house and lights through the bushes along the driveway. He’s about halfway done so it won’t be long until we can just sit back and enjoy it all.

Shopping

I mailed a few things today so some of my shopping is complete, but not nearly all. We ordered a few items online and will go out a few times together to finish the shopping for the grandkids. It gets harder as they get older and have very definite ideas about what they want and do not want.

I really missed Toys R Us and Babies R Us this year. Going store to store in hopes of finding something is tiring. Then the toy aisles in stores like Target and Walmart are just picked over and messy. That is why people order so much online – it is so convenient and it does save money and time. It doesn’t do much for the local economy, unfortunately.

Memories of Treats

IMG_7893 2I bought a box of clementines which started a conversation with hubby about our youth. When Christmas rolled around, there were certain treats that showed up that we did not seem to have been around otherwise.

The first was soft peppermint sticks. We both grew up in a common geographic area, so the brands we had were often the same. The peppermint sticks were made by Helms Candy Company which was just down the road from my grandparents’ home. The candy came in a box and it was nice and soft – not hard like peppermint candies. They are still in business and you can find the candy at a lot of local stores.

The second was of course tangerines. Both tangerines and oranges showed up around Christmas and they were a treat! Our stockings always had an orange or a tangerine in them.

The third was ribbon candy. Now I am picky about my ribbon candy. It cannot be thick. I like it wispy thin. And I don’t like for the colors to be overwhelming. Of course, if you bought the thin candies, there were always little sharp shards of sugar broken in the box.

The last was chocolate covered cherries. Now, we always had these at home, but I NEVER liked them and I do not care for them now. It was always THE gift for teachers or gift exchanges at school — do kids even do that anymore? Probably not.

Creativity

I finished NaNoWriMo which was an accomplishment. All my writing buddies finished, too, which was really nice. (Goodonya Tanya for finishing first time out!) Now I have a nice novel that needs to be finished, then ripped apart to fix all the ‘stuff’ that creeps in when you write that much in a 30 day period.

This weekend I have another jewelry workshop. It’s supposed to pour rain all day, so I’m glad I have some inside fun things to do. This is similar to the workshop I had to bow out of a few weeks back because I became ill. I love working with silver so I am hopeful I have better luck this time.

Earthquakes

Today there was a 7.0 earthquake in Alaska. The epicenter was very near where I lived when I lived there. I only have a few friends who are still in Alaska so I was holding my breath until I knew everyone was okay.

This brought back lots of memories of my time in Alaska. I remember going to ‘Earthquake Park’ which was an area of town devastated by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. I also remembered feeling small quakes when we lived there and waking my children up to stand in the doorways when they occurred in the middle of the night.

Earthquakes are the most unsettling of natural disasters I have ever encountered. Everything moves. The buildings and their foundations, the ground, the cars, everything that is not nailed down. I worked as a switchboard operator (another thing I doubt exists anymore) on Elmendorf AFB when a fairly strong tremor occurred. After that, they secured the switchboard to the walls for fear someone would get crushed if it fell over. They were huge pieces of equipment.

Of course, I never felt anything of the magnitude the good people of Alaska felt this morning. I am holding them all in my prayers. Thankfully, it does not appear there were any fatalities or serious injuries so that is a blessing, but there is extensive damage to roads, buildings, and homes. And there is an unsettling feeling that takes a while to overcome.

That’s about it for the time being. Now it’s time to unwind for the day.

“Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, and love as long as you live.” 
Rachel Ann Nunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

blessings, Blog, friends, religion, spirituality

The Gift of Friendship

Day 56

As I have said many times, my family and I celebrate Christmas. I grew up in a very small town and everyone there was Christian — protestant to be more accurate. That was my norm and I knew nothing about any other religions or beliefs in the world.

I was so fortunate to be loved and to grow up in a community of really good people. I guess my youth still stands as my ‘gold standard’ as an example of what Christian people should be. Kind, caring and truly loving each other.

As I grew up, I learned that people belonged to many different religions. Most of which I had no knowledge of at all. My parents were steadfast in their beliefs and like so many people, believed their beliefs were the ‘right’ belief.

Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to move around and experience the world in a way I never would have, had I never left home. I had the opportunity to meet such good people that were Catholic or Muslim or Jewish and while their beliefs were different than mine, they were in many ways spiritual in the same way I was.

Discovering Goodness

My life has been so enriched by learning more about people who are different than I. As spiritual people, we all share so much. We strive to be good people in a world where we are bombarded by a lot of negativity and hate.

If we all believe that our belief system is the ‘right one’, why do we worry so much about what other people believe? Why do we build walls to protect ourselves from other beliefs if we feel confident in ourselves? What is the threat? Why must there be hate? What are we so afraid of?

Online Friendships

I have been so fortunate in having amazing friendships with people that I met online. I have met many of them in person, but there are many more that I have never met. We are all so different. Different ages. Different occupations. Different beliefs. Different locales. Different ages.

Through these relationships, I have learned a lot about friendship. I have learned we are all more similar than we are different. I have learned we all want the same things — peace, love, happiness, laughter, and connectedness.

Surprises

Yesterday, when we returned home there was a package waiting here. It was addressed to me — yay! I wasn’t expecting anything in the mail so I was thoroughly surprised. Since we do not exchange gifts with our family anymore, I knew it was not from anyone in my family.

After reading the return address, I realized it was from a new friend I met a few months ago in an online writing class. I was overcome thinking that she took time out of her life to send and share something with me.

Inside the box, I found a beautiful handmade card that said ‘Invited’. There were eight lovely gifts inside — one for each day of Hanukkah. I was invited to participate in a few her customs and her rich, rich history. What a touching gesture.

IMG_7918

I cannot tell you how touched I was. I have been following her blog and learning so much about the beauty of her history and her traditions. I have also felt the pain she has felt with the recent rise in anti-semitism. It is a tough time in our country and to stand by your beliefs in the face of violence says a lot about one’s strength.

So, my friend — I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so blessed to count you as one of my dear friends. As with so many of my online friends, I wish we lived closer, but I am so thankful to have you in my life no matter the distance. The journey in my life led me here to this place and this time and I am so grateful.

“Our differences are beautiful, yet sometimes connection requires us to focus on our similarities, like the fact that we are all trying, all struggling, all wanting to be seen and to be loved. Perhaps if we start there, with this basic understanding of what it means to be alive, we will grow in our connection to one another and learn to love the beautiful differences that embody our improbable human reality.” 
Scott Stabile

 

 

 

 

 

Blog

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Day 55

Last night was one of our coldest nights thus far this year. The temperature dipped down to 23 degrees F and it stayed cool most of the day. It will be a tad bit warmer tonight — about 28 degrees F.

Needless to say, we delayed our walk until the temperature hit 40 degrees F. There were wind chill warnings out all morning, so when we did leave for our walk, we bundled up. I found some really thin ‘base pants’ at Costco that made a huge difference when we walked today. The wind really cuts through a pair of sweatpants QUICKLY!

The walk was a little harder for me today. I’m not sure if it was the cold or the fact that we skipped yesterday. Either way, I was sweating by the time we started the long incline home.

IMG_7911After that, we lazed around a little, then decided to go into Asheville and Hendersonville. Barnes and Nobel, the toy store, the tea and spice store and then to Fresh Market and Publix. I’m excited to have some of the decaf teas we bought. Midsummer Peach, Citrus Green Tea, and a Walnut Green Tea. They smelled divine!

It was a beautiful, but cold and crisp day. Definitely feels like winter. It’s nice to be back home, though, where it’s nice and warm.

Now we are baking potatoes (Irish for hubby, sweet for me) to which I will add a nice salad and we will call it dinner.

All in all not an exciting day by most people’s standards, but it suits us just fine. Lots of memories stirred up today. And I came home to a surprise package in the mail which I am anxious to open. Aren’t surprises just divine?

“I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future – the timelessness of the rocks and the hills – all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” 
Andrew Wyeth

Blog, christmas, reflection

Looking Inward

Day 54

IMG_7907For the last few days, I’ve been wrestling with thoughts. Jumbled, mixed up and confusing thoughts. I could not articulate so even I could understand let alone talk these thoughts out with someone else. I decided to put them aside and just get out and do a little holiday shopping today.

Okay, holiday shopping is a misnomer. I was actually running errands that in some distant way connect to the holidays. That is more accurate. What that meant was I would be running from store to store, looking for little minuscule things I needed to complete decorations or boxes for mailing packages or whatever.

Regardless, I was off.

First stop was Target. I needed birthday cards and Christmas cards and a couple of replacement bulbs. Of course, as soon as I entered the store I was confronted by the very neat Starbucks with NO ONE in line.

I ordered a skinny peppermint mocha latte. I mean, if you’re going to shop in 40-degree weather, one should have a warm beverage to hold — right? The young barista was quick to deliver this nectar to me and I was off shopping. Such a happy girl!

I looked at Christmas decorations I did not need and candy I did not need and art supplies I did not need. Such fun! Then I remembered I needed to get my grandson’s birthday present so I was off to the toy department. By this time I was feeling a bit ‘off’ — a little woozy. I chatted briefly with my son, looked at books and perused the dvds.

That’s when I started feeling lightheaded again. Then it hit me. CAFFEINE. Ha! I have not had caffeinated coffee in months. I had been so fixated on ordering my coffee ‘just so’ I failed to mention I wanted decaf. My bad. At least that explained the wooziness I was feeling.

I had mundane errands for the rest of the afternoon, running in and out of stores. Most of the department stores are in a sad state here. Products are low quality and high priced. Shelves are not restocked and merchandise is displayed helter-skelter around the stores. Not like the old days — before malls.

I thought of my grandmother and how meticulous she was in her shopping. I loved to go to the grocery store with her. In the middle of the store, raised up from the rest of the store was the butcher shop. I remember how discerning my grandmother was about the cuts of meat she ordered. I always loved watching the butcher in his white apron pull the white paper off the huge metal roller and then wrap and label each cut. Such a distinct memory!

Then I remembered the year my Dad gave each of us kids (four of us) $5 each to buy presents for him and mom. He took us to Montgomery Ward. Five dollars didn’t go very far even back then, but I found an old metal combination key rack and letter organizer.

I cannot remember the last time I was in a Montgomery Ward. It might have been when I bought my first (very humongous) microwave oven and cart. They were almost too big for a kitchen counter!

But my favorite shopping of all was when we went downtown. We often ate at the Woolworth lunch counter. Toys were often purchased at the Ben Franklin 5-10. It was always cold and most of the stores were too fancy for us kids, but it was still fun to walk in and out of the stores and see the town all decorated for Christmas — what a great memory.

Winding Down

IMG_7905 2When I returned home hubby was here after his day of jury duty. I warmed up some chili I took out of the freezer last night and we had dinner together. Then our daughters called for a quick video chat with our granddaughter. We talked to our grandson and congratulated him for being inducted into the National Honor Society. Then we turned the lights on the Christmas tree, turned on our various lighted decorations and I started to write my blog.

The funny thing is, the thought I was wrestling with this morning has melted away and no longer seems to matter. I think when we dwell on things and over analyze them, they grow larger than life. A little breathing room and a little time away help us gain perspective and balance.

“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out,
it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” 

Muhammad Ali

Blog, children, christmas, Family, grandchildren, memories

Frosty

Day 53

I just trashed the last two blog posts I wrote. I have a few things on my mind, but putting thoughts into words and making it cohesive just is not happening for me tonight. Perhaps it is not the right time because my thoughts were more serious in nature. So now, I switch gears for the third time. Let’s see how this goes.

Memories of My Children

Today I continued to unpack more Christmas decor. I found more ornaments and decorations that my children made throughout the years.

I cut open the tape, open the cardboard flaps and memories come pouring out. I can see my children — both small and delighted about all the excitement that surrounds Christmas. I can hear their young voices playing over and over in my head. It’s magical how the mind works. It is a gift to be able to hold on to the cherished memories and yet pack away those memories we wish to forget.

I vividly remember how proud my children were when they brought home creations they made with guidance from their very patient teachers. At the time, it seemed like they grew so slowly, but looking back, the time has flown. That’s the thing about life.

Frosty the Snowman

IMG_7894One of my oldest decorations is a ceramic Frosty. He’s designed to have a candle inside him, but I never put candles inside. It sat on the table as sort of a centerpiece.

At dinner, my children always had a 1-A-Day vitamin after they ate. I can still remember them feeding their vitamins to Frosty over and over until either they tired of it or mom intervened and made them take their vitamin.

Every Day is Special

All I have to share tonight is to tell you that every little moment is special. These moments become the memories that you hold close throughout your life. And when your children are grown and living on their own, these are the memories that will comfort and sustain you.

These are also the stories you will tell your grandchildren about their parents. They love to hear all about the times when their parents were young like they are.

“Parents, keep your children closer when they are young,
because they will keep you closer when you’re old” 
Zybejta Beta Metani’ Marashi

 

blessings, Blog, children, christmas, Family, friends, grandchildren, memories

Ornaments

Day 52

I love the consistency of my life. It might be boring to some but to me, it is perfect. Our days usually start out the same way and I love that. When we were working, mornings were always such a rush and a blur. Get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack lunch, then a 45-minute drive to work. That part of my life is in the past now and I appreciate the freedom of retirement.

More Tree Decorations

Today, I added some ornaments to the tree. I always start with some of the most sentimental ornaments. I have ornaments I made when my children were small, ornaments my children made in school and ornaments received from friends and family throughout the years.

IMG_7890<==This ornament was made by my son (with a lot of help from his teacher) in 1st grade. He now has a wife and two children of his own so it’s been a bit since this one came into the collection.

IMG_7889==>This one was made by my daughter – it’s a pierced piece of copper. The ribbon has yellowed and every year I add a little glue to keep it together. It’s special though. She, too, is married and has a child of her own.

IMG_7888<==My great-aunt made this for me about 40 years ago. It’s made of wooden spools. The dress was hand-made. She passed away last year. The last of my great aunts and uncles.

IMG_7892==>I once had a dear friend who I thought would be a life-long friend. But some things do not turn out the way we think that they will. I keep it and hang it to remember the good times. Sometimes people are only in our life for a season.

IMG_7885<==My sister passed away in 2010. When I lived in Florida she came to visit and we took a trip up to St. Augustine. She bought this ornament for my husband because she knew how much he loved lighthouses. They had a good and kind relationship.

IMG_7891==>Our grandson made this ornament for us maybe when he was 8 or so. He’s now almost 17. Another wonderful addition with great memories of the sweetest little boy.

IMG_7886<==This one always makes me smile. I made this with my step-daughter and my two granddaughters. It was to be an easy project but after hot gluing all those pom poms we were ready to be done. It was a day filled with great joy and laughter.

 

When my children were small, I made a number of ceramic ornaments for the tree. Many have been broken through the years, but I still have about 5. These are two of my favorites. A partridge in a pear tree and an elephant — because elephants never forget.

There are more ornaments and more memories to be placed on the tree. All in all, it was a day filled with wonderful memories and thoughts of people and times and places that can never be replaced. Tonight I am blessed.

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” 
Steve Maraboli