It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.



Friday, December 28, 2012

A quote I like

 
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All is calm, All is bright

Ah, Christmas night.  Time to just relax and savor the day and the Christmas season before we slip into the week between Christmas and New Years. I really do love this season and I hate to see it end.  I have to admit that I have found myself looking at it a little differently this year.  As I posted earlier I am mindful this year that in the midst of joy there are those who are experiencing sadness and pain and need comforting.  I've also come to view the Christmas story a little differently, too.

My Sunday School class studied a book with a DVD series.  I didn't agree with everything the author presented, but it did provide some thought provoking ideas.  It also caused me to re-read the story as presented in the Gospel of Luke without thinking of all the traditional thoughts and perceptions of the story.  It is a simple story with few details; if we had more details I think we would lose the mystique and the intrigue of the story.

The last lesson centered around the shepherds.  If you re-read the story you will note that it does not say that a big angel with a white robe and wings appeared in the sky fluttering its wings.  It does not say that a huge choir of cherub like angels appeared in the sky either.  It is very simple, an angel appeared to (or stood before) the shepherds.  As the author pointed out, the angel could have just walked across the hillside, right up to the shepherds.  There is no description of the angel either.  The choir is just referred to as "a multitude of the heavenly host" praising God.  Were there a thousand or maybe just twenty of them?  Were they in the sky or were they standing close by on the hillside?  The story doesn't tell us.  We just know the shepherds were directed to the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph by an angel and his companions. 
 
Think of Christmas simply, read the story just as it is, and know that God loves us all.
 
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I know it is Christmas when...

the nandina berries bloom!
I've posted several pictures of these berries during the last few months, Nandina Berries and P.S. to the Nandina Berries post.  Now here they are, not as red as they are in some years but good enough for me.  Sadly, these were just about the only ones on the bushes this year (I'm sure the birds enjoyed the others!).


And, totally unrelated to Christmas but I'm posting anyway, remember the tomato plant that surprised me with the little green fall tomatoes?  Here are the four tomatoes, three are ready to eat, one almost.  I had almost forgotten about them when I went out one afternoon last week to prepare for a light freeze.  There they were, wearing their Christmas red colors.  I ate one in a wrap and it was delicious! A nice surprise! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anticipation

My manager tried to get me to agree to take off on Christmas Eve day this year.  Our office is only open a half day and he was kindly trying to offer me some time off (I've worked enough lately and appreciated the offer).  But I declined and then told him that I actually enjoy working on Christmas Eve.  The morning will go by quickly and then I'll have the afternoon to get ready for the actual Eve.  It is usually a quiet day, everyone will be relaxed and in the holiday spirit.  There will be a different attitude in the office, a sense of what is to come will hang in the air.  Anticipation. 
 
After our conversation I thought about why I like Christmas Eve.  In a way I think I like the day before Christmas even better than the big day.  Maybe it is the anticipation thing, looking forward to the big day.  That reminded me that that is what Advent is all about, really.  Looking forward and preparing for the coming of Christ.
 
Monday night I dropped by Cameron's house for a short visit (actually I was dropping off a large present for his parents to store for me).  He was so cute, dressed in his little pajamas and ready for bed.  I asked him if he was ready for Christmas, and, with a big smile on his face, he replied yes.  I then asked him if he was excited, yes again he answered (me, too I replied!).  I asked him if he was being good so Santa would come.  He hesitated, but still smiling, nodded his head yes.  There was excitement on his face, in the big smile.  Anticipation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A week to go

It has been nice to have a long Christmas season this year.  I woke up this morning enjoying the fact that Christmas Day is a week away, most of my to-dos are done, and most of my major social commitments are done.  I actually feel like I can enjoy this next week, which is the way it should be. 
 
So, it's time to sit down with a hot cup of tea (or Gluhwein) and listen to Christmas carols while watching the lights on the tree.  I don't need the hustle and bustle, nor standing in lines in a store.  I don't need another party (after a while aren't they all the same?).  I've still got presents to wrap, grocery lists to make and maybe a batch or two of ginger snaps.  
 
Christmas is a beautiful time.  I'm thankful for a little time to enjoy peace and good cheer.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How Can There Be Joy?

Last week I had been rolling some thoughts around trying to get them organized into a post.  Simply put I was struggling with the thought of sad things that happen at Christmas time.  Several things happened during the week that caused me to be thinking of how we are wrapped up in the joy of the season but not everyone can experience joy because of events in their life.  A co-worker's military son was missing; a friend of Stephanie's from high school gave birth to a baby with complications that have left a lot of uncertainty about the baby's future; a Christmas card from one of my mother's cousins told of her daughter losing her job after 33 years.  How do you celebrate Christmas when there is sadness in your life?
 
And then on Friday came the horrible news of the shooting in Connecticut.  Stunned and horrified I had no clear thoughts, and certainly no words to write.  How do you explain the joy of Christmas when there is something this awful in our world.  How can you celebrate Christmas?
 
And, then today a friend sent me a prayer written by Max Lucado.  In his simple, easy to read style he brought it all into focus.  A Christmas Prayer
 
Jesus was born in a dark time; the Roman Empire was brutal and poverty was the norm.  But he came to bring light to a world cloaked in darkness and evil.  There is hope, there is peace, and there is joy. 
You just have to look beyond the darkness and see the light.
 
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;on those living
in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned
 
Isaiah 9:2

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And now...

Christmas can begin!

Now I feel like I can really start getting into Christmas and the Holiday spirit!  What's been wrong?  What's been standing between me and enjoying this wonderful season?  Well, I had this spreadsheets class I was trying to finish.  It should have been super easy but, wow, it was a doozy.  It was my fault that I got behind, and there was much work to be done.  I've done nothing but spreadsheets for the last 2 1/2 weeks.  Tonight I submitted the last project.  I'm done, it is finished.  I feel like a weight has disappeared from my life, I'm free!
 
As I celebrated this feeling of freedom tonight I realized that I understand why some people dread the Christmas season and feel so weighed down.  It is hard to get into the spirit of the season when you have something that is occupying all your thoughts and all your time.  If there is an obstacle in the path it blocks your way; same thing with Christmas. 
 
Now I can enjoy the lights on the tree, the glow of the Dicken's Village, think about making a new wreath and mailing out those cards.  Oh yes, there are a few parties and a Christmas concert to check off the calendar before Christmas Eve.  Most importantly, now that my thoughts are cleared I can focus on the real meaning of the season - celebrating the gift of the Savior.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When simple is better

I've cooked a few meals in my life, ha ha! I've done numerous large Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals over the years.  While I don't like everyday cooking, I do enjoy preparing a good meal to be shared over a table with family or friends.  One thing I've learned is that simple is better when it comes to a meal.  Planning, preparing, and cleaning up is more efficient when you begin with a simple plan.
 
After several Thanksgiving meals where I literally over did the food (lots of food, lots of complicated dishes, lots of calories) I decided that it was time to re-think the whole process.  This year's Thanksgiving meal I think I got the process under control.  It was very easy, I just had to remind myself that simple was better.
 
I made a cheese ball and crackers to munch on while we all gathered, note that you don't need several appetizers!  Of course the turkey was the main dish. I buy a fresh turkey every year; they are scrumptious! I resisted the temptation to order a 20 pound turkey this year and only bought a 16 pounder, much better.  I still had sufficient leftovers for sandwiches, soup, and some to go in the freezer.  I even made a note to myself that I could probably go even a little smaller next year.
 
Sides were limited to 9 x 12 inch dishes:  dressing, gratin potatoes, and a green bean casserole made by Stephanie.  Erin brought a spinach salad  and Carole brought brownies (made with our mother's recipe, they are sinful to say the least).  Let's see, what else.  Cranberry sauce, gravy, and rolls rounded out the meal.  We opened several bottles of wine starting with the presentation of the cheese ball, too!
 
That was all we had, and we all had plenty!  The dishes weren't complicated, they all blended together, and we didn't have an excess of eating or storing away leftovers.  It was an enjoyable meal and left all of us with a pleasant memory of Thanksgiving Day.  Simple is better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leaves on the pavement

November went by way to fast for me.  Just about every morning on the way to work I complained to myself that it was a beautiful November morning (my favorite month of the year) and I wouldn't have time to get out and enjoy the day.  Now it is December and the Christmas rush is gearing up.  I've really appreciated having an early Thanksgiving this year; it gave me a week to savor the days after Thanksgiving before rushing into Christmas.  It has been nice but I still felt that I missed out on November.

As I've posted before our fall color coincides with Thanksgiving and early December.  I've come to enjoy the combination of the two seasons; red bows with orange leaves are beautiful (add in a little yellow for accent and it's fabulous!).  Driving to church this morning it was a grey morning.  As I glanced down one of the side streets in the neighborhood I felt like it really was fall.  The sky was grey and the asphalt was grey.  But there on the asphalt were yellow and golden colored leaves scattered in groups up and down this street.  The trees overhead were various colors and completed the peaceful scene.  It started to mist a little, the finishing touch to a quick, beautiful glimpse of the season!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Signs of the Season (SOS)

Several posts back I observed that the holiday season actually begins (for me) just before Halloween with the church's Harvest Celebration. I had planned to do a blog series on the signs of the season, detailing the things that I observed that confirmed my theory.  However, time passed and, although I thought about the series frequently, it just didn't get done.  So now I just have to offer the following list of the things I've observed in the last month (and please note it does not include all the seasonal merchandise seen in the stores since August).
 
1)  Wednesday night and sometimes Saturday morning choir practices, singing "Christmas, Christmas, it's Christmas time", getting ready for the Pops concert.  Director is frazzled and keeps repeating "people, please mark your music so we don't have to keep going over this".
2)  Cranberry Bread.  This has been a family tradition for at least 35 years.  I always make it for Thanksgiving morning, and time permitting, Christmas morning, too.  When the packages of cranberries appear in the store I know it is a SOS!
3)  Remember those nandina berries I posted about?  They are a delicate pink now.
4)  The Christmas cactus that came from my great-aunt Jessie's in Monte Vista MS put forth the usual buds the week before Thanksgiving and has commenced to bloom.
5)  The Dickens Village has re-appeared in my living room, thanks to Jaydon for the set up.
6)  Stacks of mail order catalogs, enticing the reader to spend, spend, spend (to the recycling bin you go, my dears!)  And those beautiful magazines filling my mail box with all their creative ideas for those who have creative time are now neatly stacked in a basket for a future read, maybe after New Years.
6)  Family gathered together around the Thanksgiving table; a Friday trip to the Country Peddler Show followed by dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant.  This is a long standing family tradition, a SOS for sure.
7)  Wreaths and garlands appearing on light posts and store fronts.  I especially love to drive through a nearby community that retains its '50s charm; their Christmas decorations remind me of those from my childhood.
 
More to come, the season is moving right along!
 
(Note that there are no pictures in this post.  Blogger has decided that I've used up all my free photo space.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mixing Seasons

I've been busy. Between a busy-work, non-productive job and school I'm busy.  Then add in preparing for Thanksgiving.  I'm busy.  I've had a lot of thoughts about blogging but haven't been able to sit down and get the thoughts out.  I haven't had to time to read other blogs, either.  But it's ok, life is good anyway!
 
I've always been a firm believer in not mixing the seasons.  After all, I was raised in the generation that didn't wear white between Labor Day and Easter!  I've always stuck to the tradition that one season's decorations were put away before the next season's were brought out.  Fall decorations stay out until Thanksgiving, then they go away.  The Nativity set is put up on the first Sunday of Advent and stays up until Epiphany.  The tree is put up the first weekend in December and goes down (more or less) on New Years.  The only exception to mixing fall and holiday seasons is the Christmas village. Some years I've put it up early in November (I love its soft glow and peacefulness!) and left it up until way into January.
 
Last year I broke my rules and got out some of the Christmas decos early.  I knew that Jaydon would be leaving to see his Dad before Christmas and not returning until after New Years so I wanted him to have as much Christmas time as possible.  And, that was okay with me, too, since I love Christmas.
 
So, last Friday night Jaydon asked me if we could get out the Christmas village.  I had to tell him, no we'll do it next weekend.  I was tired and had too many other things to do.  We discussed the fact that Thanksgiving is early this year so there will be an extra week to get out decorations and move into Christmas.  I'm sticking to my rules here, no mixing of the seasons. Then he asked when would we do the tree and got the answer, the first weekend in December. 
 
But then on Saturday I went out to run errands and I ended up breaking my resolution to stick to the rules.  Walmart had Norfolk Island Pines in their entry way, by the shopping carts.  No fair, tricked me into buying one!    So for the next week, Fall and a little Christmas will co-exist.  After all, aren't rules made to be bent a little?
 
Pupmkins and Christmas trees can co-exist!
 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All you need is...

Remember the Burt Bacharach song "What The World Needs Now"?

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
 
Last week I finished one of my religion classes, New Testament History and Reading.  This was the third of the 4 religion classes required for an undergraduate degree.  Each week we had to journal our thoughts as we read for the coming week's class;  I found this to be very enjoyable since I love to write and it helped me to really focus on the reading assignment.  The week we studied Galatians I found this verse in chapter 5:  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
 
I know that I've read this verse before but this time it really jumped out at me.  Faith, expressing itself through love.  Without love we are nothing; without love there is no meaning to doing good works; without love there would not be God for after all, God is love. We are to show what we believe through showing love to the world.  I had to think of those lyrics to the Bacharach song:

Lord, we don't need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time
 
 


What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Season has started, I think

I've posted before that I love Thanksgiving because, among other things, it is the start of the Holiday Season.  But I now think that tradition wise (and busy wise) that it really starts the Sunday before Halloween with the church's Harvest Celebration. 

Here's my car, ready for Trunk-R-Treat
 
Sawyer enjoyed the afternoon and all the attention he got
 

Emma entertained herself by taking Ellie's pacifier out of her mouth and making her scream


On Wendesday I headed to Houston for the Quilt Festival.  This has been a fall tradition for me for the last 10 years. 
 


Wednesday was also Halloween!  What do quilters do for fun on Halloween?  We wear fun clothes and cat ears that make everyone smile!
This was made through a glass overlook window with a bad reflection but it shows what the vendor portion of the show looks like.  It is amazing and so exciting to be down there!  This view is probably about a tenth of the vendors.  I think there were over 1500 quilts on display in the exhibit section!

This is what I worked on in one of my classes.  I made the picture so I can remember how to put it together when I get ready to finish it.  There are twelve blocks in the quilt, each a different color combination.  And the nice thing is that all the fabrics used came out of my stash so there was no cost involved in the supplies for this class! 
 
Today the week ended with a visit to CokerFest, the church's annual craft show.  There are vendors all around the church selling everything imaginable.  Baylee went along this year.  She enjoyed the attention but I'm not so sure it was a good idea because it slowed down our shopping because everyone wanted to stop us to pet her!

  
So the first week of the Holiday Season has passed.  Now the planning and shopping begins for Thanksgiving.  The next few weeks will go by quickly, better get  moving - it's the Holidays!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Storm watch

This week we've watched the approach and arrival of Hurricane Sandy; a storm that turned out to be a real "doozy" when combined with other forces of nature. I had to marvel that although we can predict the weather with close accuracy we can't control it.  There was nothing to do if you lived in the north east except prepare.  No way to stop it, it was a'comin!
 
I've always loved the weather.  Wind, rain, storms and sun all intrigue me.  Several times a day I check the National Weather Service for the local forecast; I watch the local television forecasts, too.  I love to be outside when a storm is coming or the weather is about to change.  The weather maps with highs and lows and front lines charted are a good read to me.

Years ago I had a paper hurricane tracking map.  I tracked several major storms on it; if the storm was really major I didn't erase the coordinate markings but left them for a future reference.  Back then I had to get the coordinates off the television.  Now I just check the National Weather Service, no paper tracking map needed but it isn't quite as much fun.

As the storm races on its predicted path it has left destruction behind.  The pictures of uprooted trees, flooding and destroyed property remind me of the power of the weather.  A force we can't control but we live with daily.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A nice little surprise

Last spring I had dutifully planted a tomato plant in a pot in the small sunny part of my yard.  I would love to have a little vegetable garden but the shade of the trees that I dearly love prevents the garden.  So I plant herbs and a tomato in a pot in this little sunny spot on the side of the house.  Tomatoes grown in pots usually don't produce a lot of fruit but this year the plant gave me several nice tomatoes.  I kept the plant watered a little but knew the season was over.  Or so I thought. 

Several weeks ago we had a little rain.  I can see the tomato plant through the kitchen window and several days later I noticed that it had greened up and put out new growth.  That's nice, I thought.  I didn't expect a plant that had weathered the summer heat to make blooms and set fall fruit.  But that's exactly what it did. A few yellow blossoms appeared last week.  Today I was surprised to look out the window and see several small tomatoes. 
 
 
I'm not sure how big these will get, and it really doesn't matter.  What matters is that this was a nice, gentle surprise.  One of life's simple pleasures.  And, of course I had to touch the leaves after I made the picture and then enjoy that wonderful tomato smell, another simple pleasure!
 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lists

I like to make lists. Some better than others.  Grocery lists are a chore; shopping lists for fabric and quilt supplies are a pure joy.  Having a list helps me focus on what I need to do.  Sadly, I have gotten out of the habit of making lists routinely.  I just carry around all my to do's and planning lists in my head.  I have a spiral calendar that I carry around and jot notes in, but haven't really made lists.  After all, who has time to sit around and make lists?

I've always been good at multi-tasking at work.  I can juggle multiple tasks, prioritizing each one and working through each in an organized way.  No problem.  But for some reason I've lost total control of multi-tasking in my personal life.  It has been a downward spiral recently.  Big problem.  The solution, I've decided is that I need to start making lists again.  Seeing the task written down reminds me of what I need to do, either that day, during the week, or in the coming month. Making the list helps me focus and set priorities.  Just a simple thing, a list.

But wait, there's more.  How many lists have I made today?  Uh-oh, I think I need a list of the lists!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Out With the Old

This week I said good bye to an object that had been a part of my life for over 13 years.  It was finally time for my beloved Camry to go.  It had been my dream car when I bought it, brand new, in 1999.  It had made numerous road trips, camping trips, trips to births, a trip to a wedding, trips to funerals, trips to pick up the dogs, on and on.  It had been a part of my daily life for these 13 years.  Although it had almost 184,000 miles on it and was, um, shall we say gently worn it still ran good.  I would  have been happy to keep it for a while longer but suspected I was running on borrowed time. 

I hate car shopping, most people do.  I put off doing this for a year, so finally last weekend decided to get going and get it done.  I knew I would not go all over South Texas to shop for a "good deal" since I didn't have the time or the desire to do so.  So after a little shopping and a little negotiating the deal was done.  I picked up my Mazda CX-9 on Monday night.

Even though I was happy with the old car I realize that it is good to have something new, something different.  The change has been strangely refreshing. I'm still puzzled about why, though.  Maybe it is just the difference between the old and the new. After all, the car is just an object, a necessity but it does have new technology and feels up to date, not just plainly comfortable.  Sometimes change is good.
Lacy checks it out!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Similarities

I've mentioned before that one of the many blogs I like to read is Preservation in Mississippi.  (I really need to add my blog list to this blog, someday).  There was a post this week that gave me a pleasant surprise. The title of the post, Restoring Picayune's Disappeared WPA Mural jumped out at me because I love the words restoring and disappeared when given in a historical sense.  The WPA mural part sent me searching through the article very quickly because there is a WPA mural in my past.

The post is an excellent glimpse back into the WPA projects. The mural in the Picayune post office has been painted over, but there is a picture of the mural in the post.  Yes, why would anyone paint over a mural I ask but yes, people do things like that in the interest of progress and renovation.  When I saw the picture of the post office and the now gone mural I was amazed at the similarities with the post office in Eupora and the mural in the Eupora post office.


I made this picture on a trip through Eupora in 2008.  I had wondered if the mural was still there and was relieved to find it was.  I hope it still is!  The post office in Eupora has a special significance to me since my maternal grandfather worked there.  He was hired in the early 1940's and that prompted my grandparents to buy property outside Eupora and relocate there.  During my childhood I remember visiting him while he was at work on several occasions but my real memory of the post office was helping him lock up on Saturday nights.  Back then the post offices were not open 24-7 (that was a real scandal when the always open concept was put in place!) and on Saturday night it was his job to lock the post office.  I would hop in the back of his car, and if cousins were present they would also want to ride along.  There was no air-conditioning in the car, just four windows rolled down and the wind blowing!  When we got to the post office my grandfather would pull out his large ring of keys attached to a chain hooked to his belt.  One of the keys was a funny looking little key that would go in the light switch plate. He would then tell one of us kids to pull the chain and the lights in that section of the post office went out!  It was a simple thing but a big thrill for a small child.  While he locked the doors we would run up and down the stairs and always speculate if we could slide down the rail of the steep steps. We never got up the nerve to try!

I remember asking my grandfather about the mural above the Postmaster's door.  The farm scene intrigued me as much as the style of the mural.  His comment to me was, "that's one of those ol' WPA projects".  I'm not sure why he had such a low opinion of the WPA, but he did. I suspect that might have been a popular idea in rural Mississippi and that was why the Picayune mural (and others) were not preserved.

 
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday's Simple Things

What simple things have I experienced today?

1.  Having time to sit outside on the deck and drink two cups of coffee this morning.  It was around 50 degrees and I was wearing my beloved red plaid flannel robe. There was just a slight breeze and the dogs were exploring the yard, quietly.  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of this quiet, peaceful time to start my day.

2.  Eating a warm bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal out of a Blue Willow bowl. I'm not a big oatmeal person, but this morning it just seemed like the right thing to eat.  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of food.
  3.  The smell of fresh cut rosemary.  I usually try to have cuttings in the kitchen window of rosemary, lavender, or what ever else is growing.  This morning the rosemary was very fragrant and lingered on my hands for quite a while after I arranged the cuttings.  Thank you, Lord, for herbs and their pleasant smell and taste.
 4.  Church service in the morning, an afternoon of football and working on a Christmas craft project.  Tomorrow is Monday and back to the treadmill of life, but today is simply Sunday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Looking Back A Year Ago

A year ago this week I was in New England for my second trip.  I was loving the rain, cooler weather (actually, it turned cold during the week), the pumpkins, and what little fall color there was to be seen.  I was also loving everything else about New England!  So, to feed my nostalgia I am offering the following rememberances of a great trip.

Pumpkins at Pickity Place

 

The Serenity of the Shaker Village




Beautiful fall scenery
 

Dinner cruise on Lake Champlain


Quilts at every stop
 
 

Friday, September 28, 2012

How to finish a project

This morning, as I do on many mornings, I glanced into my still dark sewing room as I headed down the hall to leave for work.  In the darkness I could see the ironing board and sewing machines, plus all the clutter.  It seemed to call me to "come, come spend the day in here".  I imagined doing a few chores and then heading in there for a day, and maybe an evening too, of sewing.  One can always dream, right?
 
I have many projects stacked up, all in various states of progress.  I've realized that the key to accomplishment is in focusing on one project at a time.  And, not starting anything else until I finish at least a few of the WIPs (works in progress).  How did I come to this realization?
 
Last year at the Quilt Festival I took a class from Libby Lehman.  She is a wonderful teacher, as well as an internationally known quilter.  In the class she told us that she works on one project at a time so the creative voices can speak to her.  Her website, http://www.libbylehman.us/index.html, states this in more detail: 
 
I work on one quilt at a time, from start to finish (“finish” means the slides are taken and in the notebook). This discipline helps me to focus in on each quilt as a distinct entity. It also cuts down on the clutter, both literally and figuratively. Part of my creative process involves an ongoing dialogue with my quilts; too many voices trying to talk at once would be distracting. It usually takes from a few days to a month to complete a quilt.

This is the project we did with Libby; this was the example she made to show us.  Her stitching and interpretation of the iris was stunning!  I got about half way through with mine so it is in the WIP stack!

Excellent advice.  Another influence in my realization came from a comment that a co-worker made to me 35 years ago.  I was young, working in my first job.  My supervisor was older, she already had school age children.  We both liked to do crewel embroidery and I was complaining that I had a project that I just could not seem to get going on.  I really wanted to make the pictures but I was having a hard time spending much time on them and seemed to loose interest after I stitched for a while.  She gave me advice I've never forgotten:  "Just try working on the project 30 minutes a day.  You'll be surprised after a week or two with how much you've accomplished."  I tried this and it was true!  I soon had made enough progress that I felt satisfied with the project and motivated to finish it.
 
I also read a statement on a quilter's blog that she tries to sew at least 10 minutes a day.  Ten minutes is a little short for me.  For one thing, I have to dust off the cat hair from the machine and work space and de-clutter the work surface and that takes up the ten minutes!  But the thought is still there:
 
  Focus on one project, start to finish
Work a few minutes a day on the project
Let the inner, creative voices speak to you while you work
Enjoy your work time and be thankful
 
 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just a picture

A peaceful scene that restores the soul
After yesterday's lengthy post I decided that just a picture would do for today.  This was made in the Japanese garden at the Botanical Garden. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Did They Do It? Part Two


A while back I started a post about my grandparents and their lives, How Did They Do It? Part One .  After rambling for a while I realized that I needed to turn the post into at least two parts.  I also realized that I needed to organize my thoughts before continuing.  It has been bugging me that I haven't finished the series.  The problem is that all these thoughts keep swirling around in the salad spinner and I can't seem to get them together!  Part of the problem is that although in my mind I can see the lives that they lived, I can't really imagine what their lives were like. 

Both sets of grandparents were born in the early years of 1900, if my memory is correct in 1904 and 1907. My grandparents grew up on farms.  My maternal grandparents married in 1925; the paternal grandparents in 1927.  So I decided those years would be the first part of their lives.  In the following years my parents would be born and my grandparents would be busy raising them, so I decided that would be the second part of their lives. The 1950's brought high school and college graduations, followed by marriages and children moving far away to raise their children.  Part three is the stage of my grandparents lives that I remember as a child and a teenager.  

After breaking down their lives into these three stages I realized it was easier to understand what life was really like by just looking at each stage individually. (I have to laugh because at this point I'm wondering if one of my grandchildren will break down my life into stages!) So, thinking about the years 1904 to 1927 is hard.  I've seen pictures of my maternal grandmother's family home where she was born and grew up.  I remember one time when we were visiting the cemetery close to where the home was that my grandmother showed us the spot where it stood.  It was a big house, there were 10 children living there, as I remember it was two stories and made of wood.  There were no screens to keep out the bugs, ugh!  I've been in the house where my father lived as a little boy.  It was also made of wood, too, and I think there was a fireplace.  The room where the kitchen was had been torn down but I remember hearing him talk about the women cooking on a wood burning stove.  

Neither family had electricity nor running water, but that was the way of life at that time.  Winters were cold and summers were hot.  They didn't know what a luxury it would be to flip a switch and have light or turn on a faucet and have water, hot water, too, come running out.  If you don't know about something how can you miss it?  Automobiles were just coming on the scene as my grandparents were marrying.  I remember my grandmother talk about taking the horse and wagon to go to the Delta to visit her family.  I also remember her laughing that when the first automobile that could go 35 miles per hour was built that everyone thought that anyone riding in such would be killed!

Life in those days was about survival.  Raising crops for food and income.  Raising animals for food and to pull equipment.  Cutting fire wood for warmth and cooking.  Sewing clothes and making quilts for warmth.  There were social times, too though.  For my father's family there was Camp Meeting in the first week of August.  Churches had dinner on the grounds followed by a "Sunday Singing" that attracted visitors.  Trips to town were a special occasion, too. 

Health care was very different then, too.  Illness and injury took many lives.  Doctors were well trained but drugs and successful treatment techniques had not begun to develop (thank World War II for that). Doctors made house calls, traveling on horseback or in a buggy over the dirt roads.  My great-grandmother died in a February snowstorm as her 10th child was being born, the doctor was unable to get through the snow to the house.  If you walk through a cemetery often you will see many tombstones that have almost identical death dates:  influenza took it's toll during those years.

Did the people of that time think their lives were hard?  I have to think not; they didn't know any other way of life.  As I stated above, they didn't know about the luxuries and modern conveniences that make our lives easy.  Often we hear people talk about the good old days and how simple life was "back then".  I honestly don't think people's lives were really simple during these years. No matter what time period you live in, life is just the way it is at that time.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Water


We've had rain this weekend.  During the night Thursday and early Friday morning the first rain fell, 2 1/2 lovely inches.  Although it fell during the night and I missed the simple pleasure of watching it come down I was very grateful and somewhat surprised at how much we had.  It started raining again this morning; by the time I left for church the gauge had a quarter of an inch and by the time it stopped late this afternoon there was 4 inches in the gauge!  

I went out yesterday morning  to check plants and I was amazed at how in 24 hours they all looked so fresh and green.  The Swedish Ivy that had looked very pale had not only greened up but looked as if it had already put out new growth.  Same thing with the geraniums that had looked like they were just about done.  The rain had done what no amount of watering with the garden hose could do.
 
As I thought about this remarkable occurrence I remembered that last weekend Jaydon and I had gone to the Botanical Garden to see an exhibit of dinosaurs in the gardens.  One of the dinosaur's descriptions told that it had lived in the area that we know as west Texas and further explained that west Texas at the time of that dinosaur was covered with lush vegetation and rivers and lakes.  I had a hard time imagining west Texas looking much like present day east Texas! 
 
Last Sunday my Sunday School class finished a DVD series filmed in the middle east.  The final lesson spoke of the importance of wells and water in Jesus' time.  There were several arial shots of where the dessert and irrigated lands came together.  The contrast was sharp.  What a difference water makes to a dry land!
 
Water.  We take it for granted, but we have to have it to live, don't we? Humans, animals, plants and trees.  It is necessary for the sustainment of life.
 
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the rain that waters your creation.  Thank you for the gift of water to drink.  Thank you for the gift of your Living Water.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is it really time for these?

It seems early to see pumpkins in the store.  I saw a news item that farmers were harvesting early this year because of the drought so that may have caused these to pop up a little early.  And no, I was not the only one making pictures in the store!  It was quite a display, perfect to kick off the fall season!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Well House

Several posts back I wrote about my grandparents and wondered how did they survive.  I realized, very quickly, that I needed to break the idea down into several posts. I was writing and writing and writing because I had so many thoughts.  I plan to continue those posts along with just writing about some of the things I remember.  This one of those posts!

Remember the post about iced tea and my comment about the well water?  Writing about the well water reminded me of the little well house that sat about 100 yards (I think) from my maternal grandparents house.  As I shared previously they bought the property in the early 1940's and expanded the small house that was at the front of the acreage.  

I don't know if the well was already there and if my grandfather built the well house.  By my childhood it was covered in the same white, probably asbestos or some other unsafe by today's standards, shingle type siding that covered the house. There was a door, but I don't remember it being locked.  There were several small windows and a dirt floor.  A single light bulb in the center of the room provided light. It always smelled like onions because that was where my grandmother stored the small onions that she harvested from her garden. In the summer time there were usually wasps or yellow jackets that had snuck in and built a nest so my grandmother kept a can of spray in there, too.  Not much else was in there except the well itself.

I don't remember going in there very much.  It was off limits without an adult presence.  There were no questions asked and it never crossed my mind to try to slip in there.  It was off limits, period (just like the loaded guns kept in the gun safe!).  I do remember the first time I went in there.  I think a switch or something had tripped so my grandfather had to go out there to take care of whatever was wrong.  It was dark and although there was a light in the well house I remember him carrying a lantern, too.  That may have been for the short walk out there but it may also have been for extra light in the well house.  What I remember more than anything else was how disappointed I was in seeing the well.  I had expected something like the old-fashioned wishing wells with a bucket and a rope hoist that I had seen in story books.  I fully expected to look down into a beautiful , shimmering pool of water and make an extravagant wish!  However, the well was just a big, white, round porcelain thing sitting in the well house! I remember saying, "that's the well?" and wondering how that thing possible got the water up out of the well!

Future visits also brought disappointment.  The well house was hot, stuffy, and as mentioned before smelled like onions.  Today if you drive by the property the well house is gone.  The county laid water lines and mandated that everyone use their very bad tasting water that was very expensive.  The hydrant in the yard area behind the house door remained hooked up to the well and that was where the tea water came from in later years.  My father swore it was the best water in the world, except for the times when some of that beautiful red Mississippi dirt slipped into the well!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You get mixed up

One of the assignments in my Organizational Communications class was to watch the movie Twelve Angry Men and write a critique. Thankfully the instructor gave us the option of watching the movie in class or on our own.  Obviously, since it was 9 p.m. the class choose to go home and watch the movie later.

The movie turned out to be very interesting,  We watched the 1957, black and white version. It is a very absorbing movie and I easily wrote the assigned critique.  Twelve men jurors are in a jury room trying to decide if a young man accused of murder is guilty or not.  Sounds rather blah, but this is a classic study in verbal and non-verbal communication not to mention prejudice.  I also thought the non-human elements were intriguing.  I could probably write a dissertation, the movie is just that full of thoughts.

But I had to share something here that one of the characters says to another when he was aggravated with him.

 "you're like everybody else, you think too much, you get mixed up"
 
I've written here before that I sometimes think my mind is like a salad spinner with all these thoughts and ideas spinning around. I have to sometimes push the stop button and dump out the contents of the spinner.  So this quote, while slightly funny in the movie, spoke to me.  I think way too much, not that that is a bad thing.  But it reminded me that when the ideas get to spinning around they get mixed up.  So it is good to stop the spinner, empty the contents and un-mix them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why do you like to...

Saturday morning Jaydon and I took my big embroidery machine to the shop.  This machine (AKA "Lucifer") has been having multiple issues so it was time for it to go; this is its second visit since I got it less than two years ago and I'm hoping this visit will also be under warranty.
 
As we were driving along Jaydon asked me why I like to sew so much.  I had a quick response with another question, "why do you like to build Legos so much"?  He had started a project the night before and had to reluctantly leave it to go to bed.  He was up early Saturday morning to finish the project, too.  So this led to a little conversation about why we like to do certain things. We discussed the fact that there is just something within each person that attracts them to certain things. I can't explain why I like to sew and why it gives me a feeling of satisfaction.  It is just something deep within me. 
 
So, why do you like to....                                 .
 

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Problems

I'm starting a new class tonight. Its title is Organizational Communications and the text deals with organizational behavior.  I had to laugh today as I was reading the text on my lunch break when I came to a chapter on problems and encountered this sentence "Unfortunately, most problems don't come neatly packaged and labeled "problem.""

I could just see the UPS (or /Fed Ex) delivery person bringing me a package labeled "Contents: problem".  I certainly wouldn't be excited and would definitely refuse delivery.  No one wants problems, that's for sure. 

Sometimes life's problems do come suddenly, just like a package off the delivery truck.  But sometimes they are like the sink holes that you see on the news; they start off small in a tiny crack and grow and, if left unattended, grow into a massive problem.  They sneak up on ya!

Sometimes when problems pop up in our lives we say "why me Lord?" But as I read this text I was reminded that we just need to pray and ask God to get us through the problem.  So just refuse the package and send it back!

Monday, August 20, 2012

How Did They Do It? Part One

I've often wondered, how did my grandparents survive?  Their lives were so different, and not just in the sense that they didn't have cell phones, computers, and microwave ovens!  Even I didn't have those conveniences when I was growing up, well yes, we did get a microwave when I was a teenager but on with this story. I have to note here that I intended to write just one post on the subject but it grew and grew.  So, this is part one:

My father's family just lived a few miles from town when he was small. The roads were all dirt/gravel and often their travel into town was limited because of bad weather; my grandfather gave up farming and they moved into town when my father started high school. His family from that time on  were "city folks".  My grandparents both had jobs and enjoyed city conveniences even though their finances were still limited. The years in the country were harsh, it was the depression and everyone was struggling.

My mother's family lived way out in the country, also on dirt/gravel roads, until my mother was about 9 years old when they moved just a few miles outside of Eupora.  They bought a small house and (I think) about 35 acres.  My grandfather built around the existing house and added a barn built from lumber salvaged from an old house (yep, recycling was going on then, too). There was no air-conditioning, just cross-ventilation and box fans. As I "suffered" and complained about the August heat last week I thought about how hot it was in Mississippi in the summers without air-conditioning.  My grandparents never seemed to mind, they just took it in stride. Their car wasn't air-conditioned either!

This was my grandparent's house, as I knew it.  This picture was made in late December 1964.  There was a light snowfall; my cousins and I were thrilled!  Daddy walked across the highway and made this picture.  The car on the left was ours, my uncle's on the right.  My grandfather put his car in the barn!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Steps

I don't know why but a set of steps along a curb has always caught my attention.  Especially ones that lead to a vacant lot. I always have to wonder about what was there that the steps led to and why that building is no longer there.


Gulfport, MS

I didn't have to wonder about what happened to the building these stairs led into; it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
 
These steps lead up to the abandonded T& P Hospital. I had to wonder about all the patients and their families that went up and down these steps.



No steps here, but still made me wonder about the house that had once been there.  Now this was all that was left - two lions at the end of the sidewalk, guarding the vacant lot.


A man's heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An interesting find

When Bentley and I were on our way to Marshall Pottery I spotted an old building as we were going into Marshall.  On our way back I circled around the block to get a better look and some pictures.  There really wasn't much place to park and it was clearly posted "no trespassing" so I had to take what I could get picture wise.  There were no signs or anything, really to identify the building.


It appeared to be a school.  There was a building to the side that was connected by a covered walkway on a lower level and an enclosed walkway on the upper level.  What puzzled me was that this side building had what appeared to be a carport that was under part of the back side of the building.  The area was big enough that several vehicles could have easily parked under the carport.  It seemed odd for a school but I thought maybe it was a Catholic school and that was where the nuns or priests lived.


Here's a full view from across the street, obviously this building has been abamdonded for a while.

Here's the view from the back,  you can see the covered walkway.
When I started searching on the internet for this building I first thought it was one of the old high school buildings but I couldn't get the address to line up with the historical information.  I looked at it on Google satellite and could see a circular drive in front of the building, very interesting.  And, this building is adjacent to some of the current day school buildings.

Some more searching and I had the correct identification.  This is the T & P Hospital and it served all employees of the Texas & Pacific Railroad.

 T & P Stations & Structures - Marshall, TX - Company Hospital
 This isn't a very good picture, it actually came from a post card on the T&P Railway site, but it gives an idea of the size of the hospital and a (somewhat) before picture.  Knowing that it was hospital explains the building to the side; that was the emergency room where the ambulances or emergency transports could pull under the carport covering.

As usual I found myself picturing this building as it was when new and in use, although I had envisioned students coming and going and not patients and ambulances.   There was a roof fire about a year ago and the owner commented that he would love to sell the building.  The article in the Marshall paper stated that the building was inspected after the fire and was deteriorating.  It also has asbestos so it will probably continue to decline until it is torn down and a little piece of history is lost.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Clothesline

I put my pillow out on the glider today, in the extremely hot sun.  I do this from time to time and always love the way it smells when I go to bed. The fresh clean smell of sun on the fabric will envelope me as I drift off to sleep. As I brought the pillow in I took a quick smell, just to check.  Yes, it has that heavenly fresh air clean fragrance.  I wish I could have that fragrance on my pillow every night! 

When I took that quick sniff I remembered hanging sheets, towels and family laundry on a clothesline and how sweet the sheets would smell after hanging in the sun to dry.  At one house I had an old-fashioned clothesline with two "T" shaped poles and several lines strung between them.  Another house had a modern clothesline; it was square in shape and would spin around.  But my initial training with a clothesline goes back to my maternal grandmother.

My Mamaw had the old-fashioned clothesline, strung between the "T" shaped poles.  Hers actually had several poles in between that would be used to raise the lines after the wash was hung up.  Sometime during my teenage years she got an electric dryer, but I don't recall her using it (my mother did when we visited in the winters).  During the summers I stayed with her, and even on visits in later years, hanging out the wash was a ritual that I always enjoyed.  As a child she taught me how to hang the clothes, and I worked right along side her with no restrictions on what I could hang up. She would hang all the socks together, all the underwear together, all the shirts together, everything was hung up in orderly fashion. I also remember that just like while we washed the dishes we talked while we were hanging out the day's wash.   I also washed my doll clothes and would hang them right along the human clothes.  In the late afternoon we took the wash off the line (sometimes sooner if it looked like rain) and would fold the clothes and put them away. 

Hanging out the clothes was one of those simple things, a necessity that had to be done over and over again.  I never tired of standing at the clothesline, as a child or an adult. It was a chore, but it was an organized routine and when the job was done there was a sense of satisfaction that the chore had been done in an orderly fashion.  Today I dry my clothes in an electric dryer, but my pillow goes outside to bring the laundry day scent into my dreams. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shapes

One of the reasons I love quilts and quilting is the colors.  I love colors and the effects you can achieve by combining different combinations; I'm fascinated with color.  But I realized that it is also the shapes that intrigue me.  It doesn't matter if the shapes are by themselves or in combinations.  I find myself looking at shapes and then mentally arranging them together; the same thing with colors.  Sometimes I see a pattern somewhere and think, that would make a great quilt design (if I only had the time to take my thoughts and put them into fabric!).

On my weekend trip I made several pictures that aren't really appealing or anything special.  But they have shapes in them and I know that is what led my hand to the camera.  So I share these shapes here:


 
The octagonal window and spokes caught my eye first.  After I looked at the picture I also saw the lines of the fence, building, and roof.  Plus the two small square windows.  Lots of shapes here!

This is part of the dam that forms Lake 'O the Pines. The lake is so low that it gave me a good view of this feature of the dam and these shapes formed by the opening. As I was leaving I saw the road to get down behind the dam but didn't take time to explore it. Next time I will as I am now wondering how this thing works. I'm sure it would be interesting to see the water flowing through this opening from the other side; however, I think there has to be a gate mechanism somewhere that closes the opening when the lake rises otherwise there would be thrill seekers trying to "ride the falls". I was reminded of the Ross Barnet Reservoir in Jackson as I drove across the spillway.
These circle hoops were scattered all around the entrance drive into the convention center in Longview. I'm not sure what they represent but I thought they were interesting and fun to look at!

 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunset in the rear view mirror

Bentley and I are on a little dog show road trip.  We left town on time but traffic delays put us over an  hour behind schedule, ugh! I opted to stay on the interstate rather than take my usual route through some rural areas and small towns; not sure why but the afternoon had already turned into evening and I was ready to just get where I was going.  We were on the road at sunset, still an hour or so away from our hotel.  I-20 is a fairly enjoyable drive, for an interstate any way, and I was just trying not to think about the delay and still enjoy the drive.

Imagine my pleasure when I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the big, red sun slipping down through some clouds.  I realized that the delay had given me an opportunity I would have missed if we had been on time.  I watched the sun set in the rear view mirror (yes, I was watching the traffic and the road ahead, too!).  

As the sun set and the colors of the sky changed I thought about how many times I've tried to photograph a sunrise or sunset.  I never can get the camera set up quick enough, and the colors are always gone.  They change quickly and then vanish.  Trying to photograph a sunset is like trying to catch the wind, you just can't.  It seems that the lense of the camera never catches all the brillance of the colors.  Even so, there's always another sunset to watch on another day.  I wonder if you could capture the essence of the sunset in a picture would you enjoy the next one as much?

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of sight to see the sunset.  And for the promise of sunrise to come and another day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

P.S. to the Nandina Berries post

As I was doing the last post I kept thinking that I had a third picture of the nandina berries' progression.  After searching through files and checking both camera cards I finally decided that I did not and published the post.  Tonight the picture just jumped out at me, so here it is:

This was in early July, don't they look good?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nandina Berries

Last year there were no nandina berries, none.  It wasn't due to birds munching on them or little fingers pulling them off; it was the heat and the drought of last year's dreadful summer.  This year, thankfully, is different.  We have had rain and only a few days of excessive heat although it is hot enough now. 

In April the nandina bushes put forth quite a few berry stalks. 
By mid-May the crop was looking good. 
So far I think we will have berries for Thanksgiving this year.  The birds had a few; however, Jaydon is old enough to understand that if he pulls the little green berries (they are so tempting, I know) we will not have red berries at Thanksgiving so quite a few have stayed on the stalks.

So, why do I write about green nandina berries?  This morning while I sat outside with the dogs enjoying that first wake-up cup of coffee I could see the berries in the pre-dawn light.  I realized that it is already almost the end of July.  Soon football camps start, followed by pre-season games.  Ah, the wonderful sound of a football game on the television!  Then comes cooler weather, pumpkins on the porch after a trip to the pumpkin patch, the Quilt Festival, and then family gathered around the Thanksgiving table.  By then the little green berries will be red and beautiful as we start the Holiday Season. Seeing the little green berries reminds me of the season to come and that I look forward to the fall season even though it is only July!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How did that happen

I'm fairly tech smart; not as smart as some but way ahead of many!  I don't have a fancy phone, just one that goes ring ring and text text.  As much as I would love to have a new phone I know that if I did I would spend way too much time messing around with it because that is what I do with the computer.  I spend way too much time piddling around, wasting time and I love it!  I also have a Zune and a Kindle and an aging laptop.  You know, gadgets and gizmos! I finally gave in to temptation; however, and bought a netbook.  My justification for the purchase was that I could take it to school or when I traveled and have access to my e-mail and the internet.  I ordered it off Amazon and it was quickly delivered to my door (magic, huh) and my credit card charged, too!

But when it arrived I realized that if I wasn't careful I would get way too wrapped up in getting it set up and spend too many hours messing with it. I managed to not spend too much time working on it but realized last week that if I was going to take it to the Reliant Show I needed to buy Microsoft Office and get my e-mail set up.  

But before I did that I tackled another project.  I had set up a g-mail address to use just for dog stuff and for the steward's club correspondence.  But honestly, the g-mail format was driving me crazy and I just did not want to mess with it.  So I printed up instructions on how to bring the g-mail through Outlook.  The instructions were great and in just a minute or two it was done.  I felt like the Queen of Internet!  Feeling real good about that I tackled getting Microsoft onto the new netbook and in sync with my addresses.

I used Amazon again (cheapest deal I could find) but first mistake was that I chose to download instead of getting the key.  I knew full well that the netbook was preloaded and all I needed was the key.  As soon as I clicked "download" I realized what I had done.  What was I thinking?  Three hours to download and it was already after 9:30 p.m.  I was afraid to try to stop it so, I stayed up late that night.  

Download worked and I got the little wizard to come up to complete the profile.   Should have been easy but after several attempts I gave up and went to bed.  Next morning I tried again, still no luck.  I kept getting an error message that said to contact my service provider.  I had to move on to other things but kept thinking about the steps that I followed and why it wasn't working.  I loaded up the netbook anyway and headed to Houston thinking that it would be an excellent project to work on in the hotel.  

Now here's what I can't figure out:  when I turned the computer on and tried to open Outlook, guess what...it opened right up.  Everything was just fine, not sure what the problem had been but somehow Outlook fixed itself.  I just had to set up the instructions to send/receive e-mail through AT&T.   I went to AT&T's support site and looked up their instructions about setting up e-mail.  Since I didn't have a printer I took notes and then went back to Outlook.  I entered everything just the way I did the times before and to my amazement, it worked!  How did that happen?

To conclude this long story I felt so confident that I set up the g-mail account on the netbook, too.  Success, well almost.  I missed dinner with some of the stewards because I was stuck in internet land and then the internet service in the hotel was intermittent so I couldn't do too much in the way of setting up other things on the netbook.  Just as well, I didn't want to miss any other dinners!