Look Sophie…

With her great-grandfather

While the final preparations for the Easter meal were completed, I was somehow awarded the delightful task of holding baby Sophie.  And so we sat there by the kitchen door watching the beautiful hubbub of the food being placed on the bar, while children were streaming back and forth from outside – everyone in eager anticipation of all that was still to come on this special Sunday.

Little Sophia lives hundreds of miles away, and since she recently turned one, this seemed her first holiday to truly be taking it all in… the enjoyable chaos of a huge family.

As the door opened and closed I would say to her, “There’s cousin Brock.”  “There’s cousin Eliza.”  “Here comes cousin Kallie.”  And this went on and on while she sat on my lap ever so calmly watching.

It was time for the prayer, and all the family members gathered in the kitchen forming a very large circle.   I stood up with my precious little great-niece and told her it was time to pray.  “Look Sophie… this is our family.”  And she and I looked around the room at forty beautiful faces of four generations.  I can’t speak for her, but I had a lovely lump in my throat.

~

 

One Very Special Week

This voyage had been in the back of my mind for years.  One day I would take my young niece on a cruise… just the two of us.  Daydreams come true when you keep them alive, and so this year, the day arrived.

On Christmas morning I surprised her with my plan, and we had six weeks to anticipate our vacation to the Caribbean.  I was looking forward to returning to St. Thomas where I taught middle school 25 years ago.  She was looking forward to visiting El Yunque Rain Forest of Puerto Rico – where she’d planned an imaginary trip for a Spanish class project.

Mostly, I was looking forward to a week alone with this wonderful girl who was days away from becoming a teenager.

On the last night of our cruise I wrote in my journal – “I don’t think the week could have been one ounce better. It has been a dream vacation all the way around.”

We laughed, we talked, we walked on powdered sugar sand beaches.  We took so many photos.

And these are the things I hope she’ll take away from that week on the Eurodam…

The world is a hectic place.  Always remember to reserve a little time for strolling.

~

Gadgets are wonderful.  But they are no substitute for good conversation over a delicious meal.

Speaking of dinner conversation… some people are very good at it.  Strive to be one of them.

~

Being constantly surrounded by polite people is a luxury.  Do everything possible to keep your world pleasant and kind.

~

Beautiful relationships are more precious than rare jewels.  Take time to sit on the verandah and chat with those you love.

~

 

Around the Clock

Rather than go through the stressful ordeal of adjusting a digital watch for Daylight Savings Time, I almost prefer leaving it alone – simply keeping in mind that the watch is an hour off for half the year.  This is why I no longer own a digital watch.

Oh, the sweet joy of pulling out the little button, an easy twist with the thumb, and pushing it back into place.  There you have it.  All set for a new time zone.

Last month I had the pleasure of spending a few days with my young niece while she adjusted to telling time using a watch with hands. No digital clocks in sight to use as crutches.

I realized that her generation would never think of giving the time as “ten ‘til seven”.  No, they read a screen and declare “six fifty-one”.  Top of the hour, half past, quarter ‘til… these phrases seem quite archaic to a crowd of people who never glance at a beautiful round clock face.

Wondering what to give a child for a birthday gift this year?  Let me suggest an old fashioned wrist watch.  As time goes by it will provide fun conversation around the clock.

~

 

And What Else?

They were here for the afternoon, my niece and my young cousin.  Sweet, beautiful girls… in only a matter of weeks they would both be turning 13.

I was at my desk doing what I do with business spreadsheets, and they were at the table, cutting and gluing, crafting little treasure boxes.

Since they were a captive audience, I forced them to listen to the music I love.  My niece asked if I ever listened to modern music, and I told them they just had to put up with my tunes.  As the classics began to unfold, their faces lit up every time they recognized a song from a movie they’d seen.  I assured them they’d be hearing “It Had to Be You” and “Fly Me to the Moon” for the rest of their lives.

When “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” came on, I told them how Gary and I always have to just stop working and dance when we hear this song.  How it makes us think of being on a cruise ship, and all our happy memories there.

And this began our sweet conversation with those girls asking me “What else?”

They were happy to listen to my little romantic stories that went along with the music.  The time he surprised me by purchasing and smuggling a dress I’d loved in a store all the way across the ocean so he could give it to me for Christmas.  “What else?”  Hmmmm… there’s the time I was curling my hair and the doorbell rang, and it was a guy from a car dealership with some keys in his hand, a sports car in the driveway, and a grin on his face telling me my husband had asked them to drop the car by so I could take it for a test drive.  (I drove the car… but declined the gift… being the ever-so-reasonable soul that I am! Ha!)  “What else?”

Honestly, I couldn’t keep coming up with grand romantic story upon grand romantic story.  And I was doing my best to let them know that the greatest moments of “What else?” are the tiny little things that wouldn’t sound very special to giggling girls.

But… young ladies of the world… these are the moments of a lovely romance…

A man who continues to notice any little thing you do – like hauling off the trash – and thanks you for doing so.

A man who brings you a cup of coffee, then sits there grinning when you get to the bottom of the delicious cup and discover the remains of melting M&Ms.

A man who irons his own shirts.

A man who sees to it that Santa Claus always puts tangerines in your Christmas stocking, even when you’re 51 years old.

A man who is just nice to you… every single day, every single moment.  Just nice.

Any guy can tell you that you’re beautiful.  He can spend every dime he makes buying you bracelets and rings.  He can open doors and show you a good time.  But don’t get caught up in a fantasy world of “What else?”  Don’t search for romance in big flashy events.

It’s great fun to get dressed up in velvet and black tie.  It’s a treat to get a gift of bling.  But my wish for all the sweet young girls in my life is that you’ll spend your lives with men who are genuinely kind and thoughtful, who will always treat you with respect while they shower you with love.

~

 

World at Her Fingertips

There we sat, four generations of family females, singing “High on a hill stood a lonely goat herd”, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens”, and all the other marvelous lyrics from that musical.  The living room was alive with the sound of music.

I was explaining to my great-niece that the children’s mother had died, and that’s why the captain was wanting to marry the baroness or Maria.  She wanted to know the name of the mother.  I told her I didn’t know, and it’s never mentioned in the movie.  But she insisted on knowing.  I told her we’d look it up when I got home to my computer.  Still she insisted.  “You have your phone.  Look it up.”

And so I did.  Her name was Agathe.  We were able to proceed peacefully.

What astounds me is that the little inquisitor is four years old.  She realizes that anything she’d like to know can be found out by typing a few words onto that tiny little screen.

That has me singing a different tune.

I hear babies cry.  I watch them grow.  They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.  And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

~

 

Just Doing My Job

A man who did some work with our company phoned a little while ago.  He wondered if I possibly kept all my old nontaxable transaction certificates because he was being audited and couldn’t find his copy.  When I told him I had all the certificates on file and I’d send him a copy he replied, “Thank God!  Because yours was the only one I couldn’t find!”

Organization is one of my favorite pastimes.  My niece has teased me that they’ll put “She loved her spreadsheets” on my tombstone.

Anyway… I got his document from 2011 e-mailed off to him, and I was just thinking how sweet it is when you’re simply doing your job, and someone thanks God for that.

Makes me think of one of my favorite passages from Colossians.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men.”

Feeling very thankful to have a job I love.

~

 

From Our Barn…

Wishing everyone a very beautiful 2015!

~

 

Peli Gets an Ornament

It was time to make the Christmas gifts, and Peli was ready to help.

Good thing!  Because they were all about her this year.

One hundred little kitties, ready and waiting.

Peli’s jet black, just like all our cats have been… but we decided walnut brown would be a good Christmassy color.

They needed pretty little collars.

And some bright shiny eyes.

Just this once… the cats are allowed on the kitchen counter!

Peli was lots of help modeling  how a sweet drowsy cat should look.

Merry Christmas from Peloton!

~

 

The Gift of Music

Live entertainment up on a stage… we love it!  Gary and I rarely go to the movies.  Instead, we’ll get tickets in advance, mark the calendar, and look forward to special concerts and plays.

Our favorite concert this holiday season was The Kingston Trio.    Can you believe it?  They’ve been touring since 1957!  Well, the singers have changed over the years, but they’ve kept the same sound. What a joy to hear some of the Christmas songs from the 33s of my childhood, sounding just as I remember them.  Especially “Here We Come A’Caroling”.

But perhaps the biggest thrill for me was when they sang “Tom Dooley”.

When I was a little girl, my sister and I walked to the neighbor’s house for our piano lessons every week.  She’s four years older than I, and was just naturally better at it.  She played beautiful music like “Fur Elise” while I struggled with “Snug as a Bug in a Rug” in the beginner books.

How thankful I am for my parents who always saw us as individuals.  (And who obviously recognized I was never going to get the hang of the piano!)

I think I was in the fourth grade when I started wanting a guitar.  And so my parents bought me a ukulele.  I had to prove myself on that tiny little four stringed, cheap plywood instrument before I could graduate to the guitar.  It came with a little pamphlet with finger charts for the chords, and a few little songs.

And this is how it came to be that the first song I ever learned to play was “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley”.

Playing those chords came almost as naturally to me as breathing, so the next wonderful gift that came my way was that dreamed of guitar.  It became such a huge part of my life.  Together, the guitar and I spent lots of time up on stages providing the entertainment.

I think this may have been my first performance.

Mama & Daddy… I can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful gifts you’ve given me!  Merry Christmas!

~

 

A Nitwit Knits

On one of those days in January when you feel like you should set a goal, I declared to the world that I wanted to learn to knit or crochet in 2014.

And so, with the clock ticking quickly toward the end of the year, I held a little party at the barn this week and invited everyone I knew to come on over and join me in learning.  I begged for some teachers to come along too.

I attempted knitting, and the evening was a howling success!  I was surrounded by good friends while the glorious aroma of hot apple cider mingled with vanilla macadamia nut coffee.  And I laughed.  Oh, how I laughed.  It seems like ages since I was laughing so hard I couldn’t stop crying.

First Attempt

Some say knitting is a great way to de-stress.  Well, in my case, most certainly so.  I’ve even given it another go today.  I’m still disastrous at it.  It hasn’t calmed me one bit, but it has given me so much joy just to keep laughing at my pathetic attempts while I enjoy the fun memories of my knitting night.

Very interesting!

I shall try to crochet sometime in 2015.  Seeing just how difficult the knitting turned out to be, I think that one goal should be plenty for the coming year!

~

 

Nutcrackers

When I was a child, you didn’t just pop into one of the many stores lining the streets and choose items from a huge array on the shelves.  This was especially true because I lived in a small town.  And so I remember very vividly the first time I laid eyes on a toy soldier nutcracker.

My sister had just moved to Houston where she was starting her career, and I had just entered college.  We went down for a visit, and she took my mom and me to her favorite new store.  It was a year round Christmas wonderland.  When I saw this fellow, it was love at first sight.  My sister bought him for me.

I don’t have collections.  (Other than the coffee cups!)  But I do have a delightful collection of nutcrackers, and they make me smile every single December when they come out to play.

This is my first Steinbach.  My Nana took us Christmas shopping one year and told us to get anything we’d like, and this beauty fell right into the price range.  Here’s the funny part.  Although she had given me dolls for Christmas most of my life, now that I was a young married woman, she was determined to buy me clothes.  I kept insisting I wanted this hunting nutcracker.  She really balked at buying me “a doll” that year.  (Nana hadn’t been gripped by the nutcracker bug!)  I kept insisting that the clothes would be mine for a short while, but this treasure I would keep forever.  I’m a bit sorry I argued with her, but I’m sure glad I got my way!

Once my collection was growing, my Grandma enjoyed adding to it with the beautiful smokers.  Since Gary loved fishing in the islands, she enjoyed searching for fishermen.

I bought this man for myself.  He’s a woodworker with a musical lathe.  A “must have” when I saw it!

My dad found this “King of the Nutcrackers” at furniture market one year.

Friends and family have treated me many times over with sweet additions.  Precious miniatures hang on my Christmas tree.

Now days you can find these little darlings in almost every store in every town, and in every character imaginable.  I love my classics.  This one holds a special place in my heart.  We found him in an antiques store on our honeymoon.

I cherish these little people!  They’re a treasure chest full of grand memories!

~

 

It’s Time for Trees

Oh, the fun I have with these jewels!

When the first cold front hit New Mexico, I was ready and waiting with my trusty glue gun and my beautiful pile of old jewelry.

It seems I’m better with a glue gun that I am with a camera.  Just can’t capture the depth and richness of this wonderful old costume jewelry all tumbled into place.

There are two annual events that warm my heart when the cold weather arrives every year.  The Open House for the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home, and the Holiday Happening sponsored by the Altrusa Club in Portales.

It’s my privilege to contribute to the silent auctions for these excellent occasions.

Here’s hoping everyone has a grand time decorating Christmas trees in the coming days!

~