Saturday, December 22, 2012

The cold we did not remember....

"And after November came next the chill December,
Yet he, through merry feasting which he made
And great bon-fires, did not the cold remember
His Saviour's birth his mind so much did glad."
Edmund Spenser
Today (Saturday) has felt so much like Christmas Eve. We are privileged to have family with us, and have had such a good time. The womenfolk did some leisurely looking at a wonderful antique mall in Redmond followed by High Tea at the Tea Shoppe I have discovered there. The menfolk ate corn chowder with crackers and cheese and watched football.
Later in the afternoon I was reflecting on how warm and peaceful it was in the house. I was reading, one was working on a jigsaw puzzle, one was watching a Christmas movie upstairs, two were napping, one was wrapping presents and one was at a choir rehearsal for tomorrow's Christmas Church service. I felt so grateful for our family, grateful for our warm and toasty house, and grateful for the Christmas season. But as the quote says above I was most grateful for our Savior's birth, and the fact that as a family we share a common faith of belief in Yahweh and the gift of His son Jesus, and this did indeed 'make my mind glad'.
May you all enjoy the gift of the season, our Savior's birth.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family Week-end

This past week-end we traveled again up to Woodland, where we were surrounded by family and activities. That's what December is all about, right?
 Friday evening we attended our annual Singing Christmas Tree program at Joy's church, which included a children's angel choir this year. Our 5-year old Macy was one of the adorable angels, and did such a great job singing, as did her Mom & Dad. Here's Macy with her cousin Trent, who loves her dearly. The program was great, and I felt privileged to attend and hear such great choral music.
 Saturday morning Joy, JoAnn and I attended Joy's Christmas Bunco brunch, where JoAnn and I filled in as subs. The food was great, and the playing fast-paced.
 Joy turned out to be the big winner with 6, count 'em 6! bunco's. She got the grand prize of a scarf, gloves and nail polish. Nice!
 Joy has a VERY tall tree in her living room, 10 or 12 feet at least. It's beautiful, and we all enjoyed the beauty of it. They cut it on a friend's property close to town.
Joy is also in charge of the gift-giving program in her community to families in need of help. She has been collecting donations of clothes, shoes, coats, toys, food and even Christmas trees, as well as money to shop for the above. She has an empty, -cold! office building that has allowed her to store the items, and we spent the rest of Saturday organizing and wrapping gifts. I think we were a big help to her, but we all arrived home bushed, in time to cook some Papa Murphy's pizza, and then fall asleep.
I did take some time to visit my cousin in Vancouver, and I got to see my Aunt Joyce who is now 93. She has Alzheimer's disease, and this was the first time she didn't know who I was. When I got up to leave, she shook my hand and told me 'It was nice to meet you." I smiled, and thought what wonderful years we have had together, and she is still as sweet as her smile.
We drove home on Sunday morning, unpacked and dressed up a bit for the Insurance man's Christmas staff party. We all had a great meal at the Olive Garden, and John and I were able to express our gratitude for a great staff and all their help.
Now it's time for a new week of family members and activities. Hope you all are enjoying yours!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Cookies and Filling the House

I decided to get up with the insurance man this morning about 5:45 and after he left for a men's breakfast I got busy with my writing project. It was dark outside, but cozy in the office and I really enjoyed some good quiet writing time while the sun made it's gradual appearance.
Yesterday and today I had scheduled time with two of my little friends, to bake some Christmas cookies. Brinnay came to visit yesterday afternoon and we made Molasses Sugar Cookies together. She rolled the balls (and she was an expert at that) and then rolled them in sugar before putting them on the baking stone. We got all the batter made into good cookies, and then enjoyed a few together. We read a book about how Candy Canes were first thought up, and the story behind the candy cane. What a fun and precious time it was.

Brinnay brought her Cabbage Patch Doll with her, so I got ours out of the play room so they could have a visit together while we made our cookies.

And then this morning sister Ella came for her turn. We made Snickerdoodle Kisses, where you roll the dough around a chocolate kiss, roll it in cinnamon sugar and then bake. I think she liked eating the kisses the best. We looked at a Tasha Tudor book about holidays, and Ella liked the Corgi dogs best.
Yesterday was busy, and we went from one thing to the next. Same goes for today. But as I reflected on the days one thing came to mind. We have a big house. We thought when we bought it that all our kids would come home with their kids and we would all have enough room. But God in His providence didn't have it happen that way. Julie is too far away to come home frequently, and there are too many little Jones kids to make flying all together a reality. Our oldest Joy is a very busy lady with a big family and a full time rewarding job. They are lucky to drive over the mountains twice in a year, and hardly ever during the holiday season. And so....we are left with a big house, where the three of us rattle around. But yesterday, all corners of the house were full with various activities. Piano students and Moms enjoying the fire of the fireplace to read or do homework together. A friend was on the computer, little ones playing in the upstairs under-the eaves play room, and last night a group of friends caroling together and enjoying cookies and cider. God has been good and gracious to fill our lives with others to love and welcome. Hospitality comes in so many various forms, if I just open my eyes to the possibilities. He is using us to use our house....but we still love it most when our family comes home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Delicious Shortbread

As the Christmas season continues, I'm finding it harder to get up and moving in the mornings. These days are so full of good things that I want to get up, but my eyes and muscles aren't co-operating. The lure of starting my coffee machine downstairs usually does the trick, and soon the smell of the fresh coffee has me moving.
It is hard to continue my routines during these busy weeks, and I miss that. But I am getting a lot accomplished which seems to offset it. I am busy with a writing project right now, which hopefully will turn into a special gift for my three grown daughters. It has been a joy for me as well.
I decided to give the gift of time to 4 of my piano students, and so the first of 4 afternoons of baking will happen today. Brinnay, who will turn five on Friday will help me finish up Molasses sugar cookies. I made up the dough yesterday, and she will roll the balls, and then roll them in sugar and bake. Hopefully she will have some to take home and share.
I have found a real treasure at Trader Joe's this season.
I love these good cookies, and have decided to have one (it's hard to have just one) each morning in December with my coffee. It's nice to start the day with a treat.
Last evening the sunset was so beautiful. It was clear and cool out, but the soft rosy hues of the sun setting spread rosy light everywhere, and I just had to go outside and enjoy it. It's good to find small (or big) things to enjoy during the busyness, and slow for a moment to breathe and give a prayer of thanks.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Another Good Birthday

We rolled out of bed a bit extra early on Saturday, with expectations filling our hearts.
After the usual getting ready for the day, we got in the car for a trip over the Cascade
Mountains. Destination: Corbin University in Salem. We stopped in Sisters for a visit at the Sisters Coffee Company, and were again on our way with an eggnog latte and an Earl Grey At the top of the pass it was beautiful with snow frosting the evergreens, and it was our first glimpse of wintertime. The road was in good condition, our hearts were light and we enjoyed the trip.
Arriving shortly after 10:30, our newly turned 19-year-old granddaughter Kory and boyfriend Sam Anderson were waiting for us with equally light hearts. They joined us and we drove to the exceedingly beautiful Queen Anne style Victorian mansion and gardens called 'Deepwood Estate'. We drove up a bit early for the first tour at 11:00, so we had time to stroll the gardens and snap a few photos.
We brought our girls here during their teens as their grandparents lived close by. We took photos 20+ years ago at the exact same location under an arbor, of the girls with their grandfather and with their Dad. What a great delight it was to continue the tradition.
It turned out that we were the only customers for the first tour of the day (possibly the free open house later that day had something to do with that), and so we had a private tour that lasted about 90 minutes. We all enjoyed the very informed tour guide, learning about Queen Anne architecture, the families that built and dwelled in the house, and history of the Victorian period. The house is truly lovely, and we had the added benefit of Victorian style Christmas decor.
When we finished the tour, we strolled through another section of the gardens, enjoying them even at this time of the year. Several things were even blooming, which attests to the wet and mild Willamette Valley.  
We found a place to eat a Chinese food lunch, and enjoy each other's company. Then we returned to Corbin, dropped off Kory and Sam and were on our way back home.
We drove via Silverton where we stopped to exchange a Merry Christmas with our good friends Glenn and Nancy, and inspect some painting and re-decorating they had just completed. It was lovely, and their home was so cozy and inviting all decorated for Christmas. It was hard to keep going, but that's just what we did. It had been snowing on the Pass while we were in Salem, but the roads were well tended and we had no trouble at all. I read some notes from I and II Kings to the insurance man on our way home, so we would be prepared for our Old Testament Survey class the next morning.
After arriving home, the insurance man hurried into his tux and made it to the Tower Theatre in downtown Bend for a concert with the Mastersingers that evening. He even made it on time!
Kory and I share December birthdays, and they are only a week apart. So, we celebrated together and what a fun and happy day it was. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good Birthdays

I've had the same problem as Julie uploading photos, but we both have changed with the blogging world so that we now pay for the space to record our thoughts and pictures. It's now back to writing and posting....
I celebrated a birthday over the week-end, and enjoyed a nice day. My mother used to make me a red velvet cake for most of my birthdays, and I seldom do it anymore, but decided to break out the recipe once again. Red velvet things are quite in fashion these days, and you can find it from cupcakes to cheesecake, but they don't have the original frosting which in my mind makes it unique and quite wonderful. We added some baby roses and a glass of eggnog for a real treat. I was so richly remembered by friends and family, and the older I get the more I value these remembrances.
We've had a doozy of a wet storm lately, with lots of rain. I woke up several times in the night to hear the wind driving the rain against the house and windows and skylights. It sounded much like a storm at the Oregon Coast. The insurance man and I got up and walked in the morning, and the evergreen firs were so beautiful with big crystal-like water drops at the end of each green needle. We are having a mild wet month of December. I love lights, all lights including Christmas lights. When the streets and driveways are wet with water and puddles, the house Christmas lights are reflected in the water making double lights and our street outside looks amazing and so festive in the dark!
Our tree is up and I want to be sure and find enough time to sit and enjoy it with Christmas music. I read a wonderful post this morning on the beauty of Christmas music. Mom, if you click on the words 'wonderful post' that are highlighted, it will take you to that blog post. I so agree with what the blogger shared.
Enough for today, and time for a little lunch break.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Apologies or Confessions

Another dark morning, where the sun never broke through, and it turned rainy for the day and into the night. Unusual for Central Oregon to rain for a whole day at a time.
While I was walking on the treadmill I started a new book I had downloaded. It's called 'What I Learned in Narnia' by Douglas Wilson. Chapter 2 was about Confession of Sin, or in other words....the importance of a full, sincere, honest apology. I got so much out of that chapter, and it was amazing to see Pastor Wilson dissect the Narnia series into the various apologies, some honest, some half-hearted, and some not. A blessing to start out the day with some very positive thinking.
I spent the day with daughter JoAnn, and we had such a good time together. I am blessed to have one of my chicks close, and enjoy my daughters as adults and friends. She helped me do some put-off chores and shopping, and it's so nice to have someone to help you, isn't it?
As I got into bed last night, to read a book she loaned me, I heard the wind howling around the corners of the house, and rattling windowpanes. It felt so cozy to be inside where it's safe and warm. And yet, my heart breaks for those not so fortunate, for those who are on the streets, in their cars, and in the homeless camps around Bend. May my heart continue to break for the ones who have so much less, and most especially for those without the knowledge of God.