Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Origami Lights

My girlies are so creative -- Proud Mama here!
Julia bought a package of scrapbook paper at Michael's, and she's been making little folded boxes. I don't know if they qualify as origami, but they're pretty!
She strung twinkle lights around the windows in her bedroom, and then she mounted a little paper box on each light ... like this:
I like this red floral one.
Sometimes there's a jumble of lights.
And Julia likes this one best, with the script on it.
She's now put a paper box on each light, so her room is very festive. Isn't this a cool idea?
Update: Here are a few more pics, after Julia finished the light strings.





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Three Girls in the House

Well, Anna's home! She's done with her scholastic labors for a few weeks, and she can turn into a vegetable :)
We picked her up at the Rocky Mount train station, a very cool building.
I've shared some photos before, but here's the extremely large waiting area.
And the impressive glass ceiling overhead. Love those light fixtures.
The oddest thing at this train station -- outside on the boarding area, a long paved area next to the tracks, the people waiting to board the next train divided themselves almost exclusively by race: black passengers on the right, white passengers on the left, and with a very long stretch of concrete between the two groups. I found it so odd. It's almost like everybody would have to know ahead of time, which side to go to, you know? How does that work? It seemed bizarre to me. I did find these fun Santas outside the station cafe to be pretty cool too!
On to Anna! She's been doing more hand-stitching, and has some pairs of pillowcases for sale this season. These first two sets are done on pure white cases (NOT cream-colored), but my lighting was not great for the photos. But you can see the lovely work she does.

This is my favorite set:


The set below is on cream-colored cases.


She's starting a new pair with cute hummingbirds on them. Not done yet.
Anyway, if anybody out there would like a pretty pair of hand-stitched pillowcases for a Christmas gift, she is charging $50/pair. Leave a comment or otherwise contact me and let me know.
We girlies went to New Bern yesterday and spent the day shopping away -- consignment stores, Michael's, Bath and Body Works, shoe stores, TJ Maxx. We had loads of fun :)
I love having both my ladies at home! The Merry Christmas has begun!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Potatoes

This is an utterly random and non-Christmasy post. Sorry. But sometimes you're walking in WalMart and something bizarre catches your eye. And you whip out your camera and take a picture. Like this:
Potatoes! Yummy mashed potatoes in a plastic package. They're "America's Favorite"!
Don't you wonder what's in there? Well, now, let's flip that package over and take a peek ....
Get a load of that ingredient list! After "non-fat dry milk," it launches into a foreign tongue that my insides do not speak. At least potatoes are the first ingredient. Hmm.
They have quite a few flavors ... err ... chemical combinations to please you. These were displayed right by the register for easy purchase of a packet or four.
Something tells me that Mom's Thanksgiving or Christmas mashed potatoes just were not meant to be made this way. Ewww. Yeah, we all ate some Hungry Jack mashed potatoes from a box, way back when. But I'm betting the ingredient list on that box didn't hold a candle to the alphabet soup on these packages. No thanks!
Update: I checked online for Hungry Jack mashed potatoes (the flakes in the box), to discover its ingredient list. Here it is: Potato flakes, sodium bisulfite, citric acid, BHA, Monoglyceride, cottonseed oil partially hydrogenated, sodium acid phosphate, butter oil. Not great, but a lot better than the 11-line paragraph on the plastic packet.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seeing Through

At Christmas, we pull out things we don't see the rest of the year, little gifts from old friends, ornaments made by children, Christmas houses or wreaths or candles or stockings that mean nothing to another family. But to our family? They are priceless. They're part of a personal family story that only we know. Bought when we were poorer, and worn from years of use and many children, they look tattered and loved. I cradle each one before placing it in its spot.
Because I taught school and piano lessons, I received many little Christmas gifts. Somebody gave me this heavy glass ornament. I always hang it in a window. It's not really my style, but I've grown to like it. I've had it about 20 years. It's hung in windows in Iowa, Alabama, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Why do we lug these things around with us, from house to house?
These silly little treasures oddly become the permanent things in our lives, a strange continuity. Homes, friends, jobs, churches may change and be lost, but at Christmas we pull out the same familiar decorations.
And through that window you see out, into the world, but you also see back, into the reflection, into the past, and the flickering flames of our advent candles. Only two were lit, but the glass doubled the image. Doesn't the past do the same? Over the years, small events are kept and rehearsed, brought out like faded ornaments. Gradually they are made so heavy, so weighty with significance -- more so than we realized at the time. Which friend will keep in touch? Which small event will your remember as the defining moment of an entire year?

Life consists of layers upon layers. Eventually they blend into a whole, but during the harried years, the busy years, we can't see the bigger picture. What do you see below?
Water. Leaves. An algae-covered rope. The dock. Clouds. Ripples. What is reflection? What is submerged?
And there, in the middle of it all, is me, peering at myself and everything else, trying to make sense of it.
It's the third Sunday of Advent. Anna is home from college now snuggled under comfy blankets on the couch, drinking tea, watching fun shows, sleeping twelve hours at night. Resting from her labors. Peter will be home soon. I'm happy to have these years -- these very years. I know they won't last much longer. May God give us all perspicuity as we need to puzzle out our lives and find His beauty there.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Methodist Kneelers

I spend a good bit of time at Oriental's Methodist Church, which is surprising since I'm the Presbyterian pastor's wife. The Methodists are very active, the largest church in town. Prayer Shawl happens there Thursdays, and Community Chorale each Monday. I remembered on Monday how lovely their sanctuary kneeling pads are, up front, so I thought I'd share them with you. Some lady/ladies in the church made these.
They stretch across the front of the sanctuary, in front of the prayer rail.
They are themed for our geographical area, and many are nautical. I'll make the photos large, so you can really see the stitchery. Here are all eight of them:



I believe this is a dogwood, the state flower.
The cardinal is North Carolina's state bird.

North Carolina values both fisheries and pleasure sailing.
I know that's a dogwood on the right. I hope you enjoyed the beautiful handwork displayed here!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Beauty of the Bone


NOVEMBER

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
departed leaves.
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
Nevertheless,
Displays a certain
Loveliness –
The beauty of
the bone. Tall God
must see our souls
this way, and nod.
Give thanks, we do,
each in his place
Around the table
during Grace.

–John Updike

Many thanks to my friend, Gretchen Joanna, who introduced us to this poem on her blog recently. It's a nearly perfect autumn poem. Plus he adds a dash of theology, leading into Thanksgiving, as autumn does. Not bad for a little poem!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

And Here Comes My Weekend ...!

*Tomorrow, we drive to Rocky Mount to pick up Anna, who's coming home for college. Adam will drive, so I can knit and not waste the time. Must get things made for selling at the market.
*Must be sure Anna's room is clean.
* Must be sure house is reasonably clean because folks will be coming over Friday afternoon.
*(Anna is sick and will come home, crash into bed, and we won't see her for several days.)
*Make cookies sometime.
*Practice the piano like a lunatic. Found out today that I may need to play a very an insanely hard piece of music for performances this weekend.
*Remind self that it's dangerous when people find out you play the piano.
*Friday afternoon, church people come over to decorate the church parade float in our yard.
*Adam serves koloches and coffee to them. We gather the cookies together.
*4:30 Friday at the town dock we hand out cookies and hot cider to passersby, and sing carols.
*6:00 Friday at the Methodist church for rehearsal before the ...
*7:00 Christmas performance of the local chorale before a packed house.
*Get stuff loaded into car for farmer's market that evening.
*8:00 a.m. Saturday at the farmer's market, until noon.
*Get my stuff back home, get to the parade float and wave at people at 1:00 and throw candy at small children.
*Practice the piano more in the afternoon.
*Do another Christmas concert with the chorale Sat. evening.
* Squeeze in practicing for Sunday's worship music at our church.
*Oops -- forgot to make some nibbled for Sunday's snack! Must make my artichoke dip!
*Do Sunday, as per usual.
*Crash and burn Sunday afternoon.
*Oh -- don't forget to ride my bike any day that I have time, to keep myself healthy.
*Remember to get myself some glasses!!! to play the piano, since I can barely, fuzzily, make out the music anymore. Sigh.
a cacophony of sheet music I'm working on
So -- If you enjoy angelic, exquisite Christmas music this season at some church or hall or even on the street, remember that some poor musicians out there have been slaving away, chaotically throwing things together, wrangling singers for rehearsal, hoping no one gets sick, badgering people to blend, and encouraging them to look at the director and don't forget to SMILE! -- all so you can enjoy some lovely music. At Christmastime, musicians don't get to relax. They just don't. Appreciate them.