Monday, December 31, 2007

Start of my garden...

My sister wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it for a while and couldn't think of anything. So we kept talking and I mentioned I wanted to get some apple trees for my spring planting. She said that she would buy them for me for Christmas, and I thought that was a great idea. I figured it'd be a late Christmas present and it would arrive in the spring.

One day in late November, I got this long skinny tube in the mail. Inside were two sticks wrapped in newspaper and plastic with a label assuring me they were Macintosh apple trees.

I had no idea what to do with them. The ground was frozen and my pots were all packed in the garage.

Mom came over and showed me that I could water them through the plastic and wet the newspaper to keep them moist.

Ummm...they've started sprouting.

I hope that they don't suffer for not being dormant. I plan to get one of the big pots out of the garage and plant them in a few days when I get some potting soil. I'll put them in the ground in spring.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Wow - its been hectic! And I'm still not done with Christmas! My two daughters are coming in January, so we will have another holiday with them. I'm leaving the tree up and the wreath on the door. I also still need to send out the cards and a few gifts I didn't manage to mail out before the big day. And of course, I'm one quilt behind in the gifting arena, but I'm almost done with it!

On the homefront, Flint goes in for his operation on January 4. As we suspected, the ligament has torn completely, no healing there. The leg is atrophying from lack of use and his front left leg is taking the brunt of weight causing the elbow joint to bow out. I don't want him old and arthritic before his time so the operation must be done. It will be hard for him. Flint and Echo have never been separated. I'm hoping he'll bounce back quick from this necessary evil. Here they are dressed for Christmas:

I received lots of lovely gifts. My family and friends know me so well! I received fine teas & a special mug, candles, meltaway mints, BigFoot slippers, perfume, an antique cheesebox with Santa handpainted on it, lovely clothes, dishes, books...and so much more. The love and cameraderie of my family and friends is deep and genuine! Here's a pic of me wearing some of my gifts:

Yes, those ARE my new drop seat pajamas. And BigFoot slippers (our family has a joke about the Missouri Monster - MoMo - a BigFoot spotted about 4 miles from here a dozen times since the early 70s). I guess this brings a whole new meaning to Psalms 31:22 - "...she dresses in fine linens and purple gowns..."

I loved reading the cards and letters from distant family and friends. And the pictures! The kids are growing, going to college, and just WOW!

All in all, a lovely holiday for our family and friends. My only regret is that I didnt' get all my Nativities out, however, here is a sampling of what I managed to find in the garage!

From left to right: Stained glass Nativity, Old World Nativity with candle behind, small olive wood Nativity, Mother-Of-Pearl Nativity, tiny soapstone Nativity, wooden contemporary Nativity, and a Mikasa crystal Nativity.

And to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cold nights...Gothic Nativity

My sister lives in Oklahoma and works as a breakfast hostess at an Inn. With the ice storms cutting power all over Oklahoma people streamed into the inns and hotels all over the state. Margaret told me her boss felt so bad because he had to turn people away because there was no room at the Inn.

Pa was worried that the power would go out so he told us to crank up our heater so when it did it would take the house longer to cool off. Thank God we did. The first day stayed fairly warm - sweaters and thick socks kept us warm. The second day the temperature dropped to 57 degrees inside.

Flint isn't as well insulated as Echo so I tossed a blanket over him to keep him warm.

I received this Nativity last Christmas. It is a music box and plays "O, Holy Night." I believe it is based on an old masters painting because the gothic arches and the roman scrolls remind me of that look.

"I," said the sheep with curly horn.
"I gave him my wool for a blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn,
I," said the sheep, with curly horn.

From the Christmas carol "The Friendly Beasts."

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7

Ice, ice and more ice...

The ice didn't stick around for long, thank heavens! It was a messy cleanup for Richard. He had to cut the limbs that fell into pieces before he could get it off the screen house. Sadly, the screenhouse will need a new canvas roof.

Here's a picture of the grass standing up tall and iced over. Amazing. It makes this crunchy sound when its walked on.

Flint's little feet don't have hair between the paws like Echo's do. Also, with his cruciate ligament torn he has difficulty keeping his balance. So I put baby socks on his feet and secured them with my hair bands. He had better traction than Echo and I did. We slipped and slid down the hill and he trotted to Mom's without a problem. I have to be careful to take them off right away, like wet mittens, they will freeze to his feet if the temperature drops.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Littlest Nativity...

My tiniest Nativity was bought once again by the girls. It is carved from soapstone by artisans somewhere in Bangledesh, I think. It might be different country. It didn't come with any source listed like most of mine do.

This is not all one piece - the figures are a different color soapstone than the stable.

"Unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord."

The ice storm cometh...

The ice storm hit last night. Today we went out to look at everything...all was well until the wind started blowing.

I took this picture because I thought it looked a little dangerous...

And five minutes later we heard the first branch go down...thirty minutes after that the second one fell.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A lovely Nativity...

Richard spent the day putting in the closet rods. He also built a shelf over the rods for us to tuck away things we don't use too often.

I unpacked boxes. I found the Christmas china and plenty of other kitchen things to put away. Most of it went into the china hutch since I don't technically have a kitchen yet. Richard repaired the door that was broken on the hutch, too.

I also rearranged my sewing room to what I believe will be the best configuration for quilting and writing. And daydreaming by looking out the window. My computer desk is right in front of one now. I stored more fabric in one of the baskets but will have to move it later. I still need to find the other baskets.

We also dragged in the Christmas boxes and put the tree up. I fiddled with the lights until I had 3 working strands. We are slowly putting ornaments on. Richard and I have a lot of nostalgic decorations from our various travels. For the last ten years or so the girls have decorated the tree. It is strange for us to once again be doing it all by ourselves. I also put the garland and poinsettia lights on the entertainment center which will serve as my "mantel" this year. Everything looks lovely.

This is a Nativity that my daughter Jenny bought for me. It is made entirely of mother-of-pearl. This Nativity is slightly larger than the palm of my hand.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Common Ground...

Today we went in to our small town for a day of beauty and relaxation. Mom got a pedicure, manicure and facial and I got a massage. Afterwards the salon ladies told us once again about a little restaurant down the road called Common Ground. It is an organic/herbal place with excellent food.

So we decided to go.

The building is renovated with many rustic highlights - lots of old barn wood, scraps of unusual trees, and home crafted seating and tables. All the wood was polished to show its natural glow. Except for rounding and sanding rough edges, the tables and benches were slabs of wood in whatever shape they were born in. The seats and the dividers between were old stable and barn wood. The lights hanging over each table were bushel apple baskets turned upside down. A lot of thought went into making it aesthetically pleasing in an old, old Renaissance tavern-like atmosphere.

All the fresh food is grown on a commune farm nearby. The rest is ordered from organic growers around the country.

Common Ground is owned by the commune members who live and adher as closely to the Bible as they can. Their name comes from a passage in Acts about Christians seeking a common ground for peace.

I spoke with our waiter (who, like the others is a volunteer) and he was glad to share his way of life and ministry with us. He told us of their peaceful approach to work with their hands and live a quiet life. He knew every grass that goes into the animals' bodies, and they grow food as organically as they can. Several members have outside jobs to supplement the farm, but they eat well he said. Considering the food I was eating I can see why. The cook was fantastic.

I ended up buying some of the special tea he served us (Yerba Mate) and a 50 pound sack of organic whole wheat flour. I also brought Richard one of their excellent sandwiches. He declared he had a new favorite restaurant!

I plan to visit often and I hope to go see the farm one day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My dogs, Christmas and Nativities...

Today we started hauling boxes into the house. Most of the furniture is in here, a little dusty and worse for wear. Now we have to empty the boxes. In the old days opening boxes was like Christmas - the anticipation of being surrounded by my things was fun. Now its a little tedious. We packed in two stages this last time selecting some things to go in storage while the house was for sale in Texas. Because I was in a rush I didn't bother with some labeling. Its disconcerting to open a box expecting dishes and find plant stands instead!

After lunch I decided I was taking a nap! Naturally Flint and Echo have to take one with me. The lump on the other side of the dogs is me. Echo slung her foot over Flint's neck so Richard took a picture!

And since this is the Christmas season and my favorite holiday, I'll be sharing some of our traditions.

One of my hobbies is collecting Nativities from around the world. I've decided to share pictures of some of the ones I own. I know they aren't true representations of how Jesus came into this world, they're simply cultural interpretations. Regardless, I see Christ's birth as a celebration and if our representation isn't perfect at least our hearts don't deny the event. So I collect Nativities. I leave some around the house all year and others only come out at Christmas. My goal is to one day have them on display year around.

My friends have taken to finding unusual representations for me. One year I was ranting to Bun-Chu (my daughters' college roommate and one of my "adopted" daughters)how the Nativities always have the shepherd but never the flock! Usually only one or two sheep are in the Nativities. Luke 2:8 says that shepherds were watching their flocks - and a flock is way more than two!

Bun-Chu makes little tiny dolls out of felt, beads and other things. Each year for Christmas she gave me pieces to the Nativity she was making for me. The first year I received the Holy Family, the stable and the manger. Each new year, she added one component to my Nativity. The wisemen, the camels, the animals. In 2004, she gave me the last of the Nativity. I opened the box to find one hundred sheep. Ninety-nine were white sheep. One was black. Here is the entire Nativity. The black sheep is just in front of the camel too the right on the lower shelf.

I am praying as I find the Christmas boxes that my sheep are unharmed.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stormy Weather...

We woke up early to the threat of thunder, lightening and rain. Richard went out to burn the boxes I'd unpacked yesterday. I meandered out to watch him work. He was concerned when the wind picked up and started blowing bits of fire around so he got a bucket of water and put the fire out.

I watched the wind move across the property from one side to the other. The oak trees started waving gently and the leaves fluttered and dropped in the wind. Richard called me over to look at the clouds above the house. They were piling up on one another so fast! I rushed in to get the camera.

I think its a great shot!

Almost as soon as I snapped the picture the rain started in earnest and we ran into the house to watch it through the windows.