Thursday, November 29, 2012

Relaxed Day

A dark morning, where it's hard to get up and get going. The kitchen felt so cozy after I turned on some lights and started the coffee. After a while the sun broke through
and the day turned lighter.
I start Wednesdays out with piano lessons. After ordering some new material,
Brinnay, my 4-year old student, and I are having fun together. Her sister is working on her first year Christmas music, and can't wait to complete her book and be ready
to play Christmas songs for her family at Christmas.
The insurance man was home for lunch, and we enjoyed a few quiet minutes
together in our day.
I put out my Christmas quilt and shams on our bed, and some festive towels in the bath before being interrupted by my computer guy. I am so thankful that he comes to the house and keeps us in working order. A long time friend, he is truly appreciated.
A surprise dinner out, the insurance man inviting me to Olive Garden last night. Again, a relaxing time together, which will be rare in the month to come. I tried Eggplant Parmisan, and it was delightful. I have really come to love that veggie in this last year. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quiet with busy-ness, softness with hard times

Yesterday was a fast moving day. However, it started
off beautifully with a quiet silver and pink sunrise.
We had a frosty morning, with frost heavy on the
north side of the evergreens and pines.
I cooked with three other ladies at our local community
food kitchen in the afternoon, and served
dinner to about 150+ hungry folks. What a
blessing this ministry is, and how much I enjoy it.
We got home around 7:00, and I was very thankful
for a crockpot full of vegetables and meatballs in
a beef/red wine sauce. Hot food when you need it.
I fell asleep curled up on the couch, with a blanket and a
pillow...nice ending.

Monday, November 26, 2012

On a Monday

1st Day Towards Christmas 2012
Routines-  I have always fought them, but now am thankful for the day-in-day-out rhythm of them, especially in the mornings as I get our day under way.
God's Word- I am thankful to hold God's Words to His people in my hands and heart.
Writing- Thankful for a good friend to write with, every other Monday morning, and writing about Christmas memories this morning.
Decorating- Started on my Christmas decorating this afternoon by changing dishes and putting out kitchen towels and tablecloth. Listened to good old time Christmas music while doing it.
Cooking- It's so nice to pull out a tried and true recipe, a favorite. We had hamburger gravy (which uses 1 can of french onion soup) on baked potatoes and yummy cole slaw for dinner.
Medicine- I'm thankful I live in an age of medications when needed. I kept a migraine at bay, while I completed my day successfully and went to bed early.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Farewell to Autumn Meditation

The Shape of Autumn
     Autumn is a blurred line between summer and winter. There are seldom days that are just true autumn days. Too often the days are either filled with Indian summer or tinged with winter's edges. We leave summer and progress towards autumn only one slow step at a time, returning to summer for three steps, before moving onward. The lines of seasonal demarcation are blurred, fading and receding, ebbing and flowing, hard to grasp or pin down. Maybe that's why it's so hard to let go of autumn, and why we look forward to it so much, and long for crispness before balmy has left our skin. The seasons blend, wavering and hovering, not to be too closely defined.
     Autumn brings sharp lines between heaven and earth. On a bright autumn day, the sun is brittle in the brightness of it's shining, the sky is sharp on the horizon where autumns' blue meets the green of forest or field. The crispness of air draws a sharpness of hoarfrost on windowpane or autumn leaf, clear and concise in patterns of white. The light, while still sharp in the heavens, finds beams easier to penetrate in the cooler air, striking richness to our souls.
     Autumn brings contrasts of sharp colors and soft raindrops. In no other season, do colors become so intense, sharp and vivid, penetrating our senses like flaming arrows. My eyes can never drink in as much as I want to behold, before they fade and are finally, irrevocably, gone. The fall rains come, dulling everything in the autumn world, dripping slowly and softly. The leaves are extinguished, and become a carpet of wet under our feet, redolent of musky earth. The wind seek cracks in our windows and clothing, prowling around corners and racing down chimneys. The winds' moaning turns to howling, and the bare branches writhe, stripped of summers' softness.
     The shape of autumn is easily seen in the leaves of trees, shrubs and flowers. The shapes of these leaves are never really noticeable in summer somehow, but in autumn each shape become a flaming or glowing reality. The bright oranges, golds, yellows or reds seemingly bring focus to bear on each leaf shape and size. The maple leaves are so easily recognized with their five-pointed shapes, each tip so sharp and strong. The aspen or birch leaves are slender and pointed, while the cottonwoods have velvety soft backs and small sharp points. Who can resist cutting branches of leaves to bring indoors, or picking up favorite ones to savor. Tracing leaf shapes on paper or making rubbings of their shapes is still an autumn favorite for me. The shapes of autumn leaves are as endlessly fascinating as the shapes of seashells, or snowflakes. How wonderfully creative our God is in His very Being, and how varied is our world.
     It's time to say adieu to autumn, perhaps before I'm quite ready to let it go. But now it is hello to winter and all wintertime delights.
May God bless your expressions of gratitude this Thanksgiving, and may you all have a blessing-filled celebration.
My thoughts are with you Julie and family, and Mom and Dad, as we cannot be with you this year. May your week-end be special for each of you. Love you so much......

Monday, November 19, 2012

I love piano recitals!

As I've posted before, I try to host two piano recitals a year for my students.
I have six girls I am currently teaching, and it is a true joy.

 Several of the girls are gifted, and so much fun to work with. They each introduce their songs and composer, then play several selections, and finish with a bow. This is Abigail, age 7.
 And this is Emily her sister, age 11. She is really getting accomplished, and we have a lot of fun playing duets together.
 We recently held an autumn recital, and the house was filled with friends, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, cousins and siblings. We are about to outgrow my living room I'm afraid.
 This is Shayli, age 6, and her sister Brinnay, age 4, also took part in the recital. They are so cute sitting at the piano with their legs just dangling!
 Everyone had a really good time, and I feel so good about the confidence and support of these girls.

And a final parting shot of Shayli, Brinnay and Ella, ready to go home with their celebration bouquets. Ella can't wait to grow old enough to join her sisters at the piano. I hope what they learn will stay with them all through their lives, and they will get much enjoyment from music.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Macy Sweater

 Joann finally accomplished her goal of getting this sweater finished up and given to her intended recipient, niece Macy. She was aiming for Macy's 5th birthday in September, but decided to put a few more rows on, and added the buttons and strands.

 From the back it's almost a sweater/coat, and it's warm and cozy too. This is all hand crocheted, and JoAnn made up the pattern herself. A first experiment in crocheting a sweater for a little girl. Macy picked out the colors she wanted.

A thank-you kiss for Aunt JoAnn.....

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lovely Seasons

November 4,2012

 Joy, Kirk and Macy were here last weekend, to celebrate Joy's birthday. On Sunday morning we all woke up 'hot' even though there was no heat on in the house. Since we had just turned our clocks to daylight savings time, Macy was up by 7 am, and came downstairs all dressed and ready to go outside and play. When I told her it was too early, she told me she was hot and needed to go outside to cool off. So, here she is on our porch swing, 'cooling off'. It really was amazing weather, the grass was growing like spring, it was balmy and nearly 70 degrees the day before. I wanted to snap this photo to help me remember that on November 4, 2012 we were still enjoying summer weather. What a long, lovely Indian Summer and Autumn we have enjoyed, and I've tried to absorb every minute of it.
I don't normally write a post about the weather, but isn't weather just the best thing? God did such an amazing job of creating seasons and weather. Two weeks ago we were at the Oregon Coast in a rain storm, and it was absolutely lovely the whole rainy week-end. Today (5 days after the summer weather) we woke up to an inch of snow and winter is here, as more is forecast for our week-end. I love how the seasons transist, with 1 or 2 or sometimes 10 steps forward, then the same backwards until the new season finally arrives with a flourish.
It has been fall yard clean-up around here in earnest, trying to beat the snow fall. We didn't quite make it, but really put our backs into it the last few days. That means trailer load after trailer load of leaves and pine needles to the dump, and yesterday morning the insurance man got in the trailer to smash down the load a bit, and actually rolled around in the leaves like the boy he still is at heart!

I am blessing God today with a grateful heart for the wonderful, amazing seasons full of everchanging weather for all to enjoy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A recipe for all the overflow garden tomatoes...

 This year I had lots of garden grown Roma tomatoes, way more than we could eat. I wanted to be a little creative, instead of canning them all, so I decided to roast some after watching it done by the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. First you halve the tomatoes, then scoop out the seeds with your thumb, and finally layer them on baking pans.

 Next you sprinkle the tomatoes with olive oil, minced garlic, a little balsamic vinegar, 1 T sugar, coarse salt and ground pepper. Very easy to do. Then finally roast them at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes. At the end I usually add some chopped fresh basil, before using or serving these. (Basil doesn't roast well at high temps) This really makes your kitchen smell wonderful!

I have used these for toppings on home-made pizza and they are wonderful. I have also chopped them into quarters and added them to a pasta dish with creamy sauce. They flavor the sauce and pasta so beautifully, naturally. They can also be served as an appetizer, but they are rather juicy/messy. I froze a bag for later use, and am looking forward to trying out other uses.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Morning with Cecily

Today I was on the phone with Julie, and here's just a part of the conversation she was holding with Cecily at the same time:

Julie: "No, it's not time to change clothes, we're going to have Nachos for lunch in just a few minutes."

Me: "Was that Cecily?" (Guessing, knowing how much Cecily loves to change her clothes)

Julie: "Yes, she had her swimsuits in her hands."

Me: Laughing..."She has not grown out of that phase as quickly as the others!"

Julie: "Here we are in the snow, and I'm trying to keep enough clothes on the kids to keep them warm, and she wants to put on her swimsuits!"

Soon after:

Julie calling: "Girls!.... Girls!.... (Try another approach) Amelia and Cecily! "Yes, Mam?" Please come here. (They are now before her) You have made a mess, and we need to pick it up before lunch. Cecily, there's a blanket, and you need to pick it up and put it away over there. Now...Cecily, you don't want me to have to talk with you again about this....and you need to put on your sweet face."

Julie, to me: "Mom, you should just see her face!"

Soon after:

Julie: "Cecily is calling Bronwyn, 'Shewie'.

Me: "What are you talking about?"

Julie: "Remember, right after Bronwyn was born Cecily informed me I should have named her Shewie? She thought that would have been a better name since she was 'chewing' on her fingers! Well it's been 3 weeks, and she is still calling her Shewie!"

Fun times around the Jones household....and good things to laugh about later!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Gift of God's Presence

This past week-end we went to the Oregon Coast to celebrate a daughter's birthday. It was a stormy, rainy week-end, but we enjoyed beautiful, huge waves and crashing surf. As is usual at the coast, it put me into a reflective, writing kind of mood. After a long walk, my feet had grown sore and I was waiting for a ride back from the insurance man, and enjoying the sounds of rain and waves on sand.

I love staying at a house close enough to the beach, so that I can open a window and hear the sounds of the surf at night, lulling us to sleep. I almost hate to go to sleep because I no longer hear the ocean, unless I wake myself up later to listen again to the deep sounds. Even when I'm lying there trying to concentrate on the sounds, I can only listen a bit before my mind wanders off and I find myself minutes later missing the sounds I am trying to hear. God's presence is a lot like that. I find myself thinking of Him, and then my mind wanders off, or urgent matters or chores interfere, and it's hours or days later when I again think of His presence with me. The ocean is always roaring, and God's presence is always there. It's me who drifts from it.

Another analogy I have found is the stars. They are always shining, always present....daytime, nighttime, storm or fair, it's just me that forgets to look up, or me that is separated by clouds or sunlight. The stars and the ocean are constants in the universe. God's presence is constant with me, as a child of His own, but my humanity prevents me from continually concentrating on and enjoying Him.

Years ago I read a famous book 'Practicing the Presence of God' with writings by Brother Lawrence who lived in the 17th century. I tried so hard to remember to practice God's presence, to keep it before my mind at all times. I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and that's where I failed. I have found after 50+ years of walking with Him, that He gently, always gently, intrudes into my consciousness when He wants me to listen, or simply be aware of Him. It's Him, and not me that is in charge of when He wants me to enjoy or practice His presence. I still try to make it a habit to become aware of Him upon waking and when going to bed at night...but I have found peace and rest in enjoying Him at His wish....just as I enjoy the stars and the sounds of the ocean when they are given me as gifts.