Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ted Says.......

There are 81 days until the first day of SPRING!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's foggy in the valley tonight

A Slight Respite during the Holiday...

"Heap on more wood!--the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We'll keep our Christmas merry still."--Sir Walter Scott
Today we had resolutions to get lots of things done at home but I had cabin fever so DH agreed to take me to the flea market. We never go to this one together but we had a wonderful two hours wandering through the various stands. DH found a vintage bamboo fly rod for his collection of rods he is restoring. I found some vintage embroidered bibs (never used) that were extremely affordable and I liked the animal transfers. I just thought they were adorable and well done so we picked them up. Not sure what I will do with them yet. I also found a wonderful coloring book that must have been vintage (no copyright) and was written and illustrated by women who only listed their husband's name. I'm thinking of using this to do a redwork (but in blue thread) quilt later on when I can sew again.
We were home in two hours and resumed our shoveling out of the house...he in the basement in his fly rod nook, me in the attic in the sewing room. We worked a few hours and then went to visit our neighbors too cute puppy, Rascal (great name for him too---SO WRIGGILY!). Afterwards, we had a casual dinner of small snacks and just vegged in front of the television.
Yesterday we had a great time because my friend Leslie and her three children came to visit. The pups were at Woof World and only Paddie was here to greet them. This was such a great experience for her (she tends to be overlooked since we got the puppies because she BEHAVES WELL). She got lots of strokes and had so much fun with the children. It was great to see Leslie and her kids are wonderful. They did crafts and we all munched on snacks (congo bars...YUM)
We were particulary pleased because the kids were a bit unsure around Paddie, especially Kev who is the youngest. By the end of the visit, the kids were having so much fun hiding toys for Paddie to hunt, that they didn't want to leave. And she didn't want them to leave either, she sat on Amina's feet as if to keep her planted at our home :)
Tomorrow is my mother's big holiday party which is also a wedding shower for my cousin Justin and his fiancee Kristine. It should be a great time with the family. Afterwards we might feel a bit holi-dazed or should I say holly-dazed? :) We love the small gatherings with our friends but the big ones leave us a bit overstimulated. There's sure to be over 30 people at my Mom's. Poor Brad... This afternoon, his mother called to invite him to her house (during the party)because his siblings will be visiting her. So now he tells me that he will have to slip out of mom's party to visit them for a while. Never a dull moment!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Highlights: Christmas 2008!

We discovered the website for Norad's tracking of Santa Claus and had a wonderful time with that. Helena kept shrieking when Santa would go to another destination with her 4 year old logic: "Santa is moving to where it is blue and green!" Great Christmas Eve.
Everyone arrived at our home early this year and the day was filled with merriment and love. Not one meanspirited or impatient word was spoken. The boys had a blast being together, everyone hugged and kissed often, and too much food was consumed. It was a rare moment in anyone's world: a perfect Christmas.

Helena loved her gifts and most of all the bed Jim built for her. She was excited about the treasure hunt for her presents. She even chastised us that she "could figure out her clues" and indeed she could! There was so much delight in her face today, it was the best present of all. Everyone should have one perfect holiday and this year was mine. It was a splendid day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Thoughts

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six…”

So begins Dylan Thomas’ beautiful short story, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” What I love about that story is that the reader doesn’t need to have experienced the exact details to remember their own perception of Christmas. I still have a cassette tape of Thomas reading this story aloud and it always transports me to the dreamy world of childhood memory…
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen…”
I know that for some people, recalling Christmas past is a painful experience. I guess I am lucky that when I plunge into the metaphor, I bypass the harsher memories of Christmas and rummage through the snowflakes until I find the wonderful things: Christmas at Nana Betty’s with all the children, chaos and wonder wrapped up in the small package of her home, there is my father who played with us and helped us with our Christmas putz (and the magical train that blew real smoke from its stack!), On Christmas day, he always had special toys hidden from my mother for himself and the boys. They would whoop through the house with shields and swords, my father as bad as the youngest boy. Years later when I became a parent, he told me that one of the most important things a parent does is “make good memories.” It was a quality he had mastered.
Dylan also seems to capture the merriment of Christmas and the odd characters that made the day even more memorable. There are always funny characters when you get a big family together and ours was no different than any other (especially the Irish-Scotch families like ours).
Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed….”
Merry Christmas to all my dear friends! May your holiday be filled with joy, love and making good memories. May our next year be filled with peace and hope and may children everywhere go to bed Christmas night with the kind of calm and security that Thomas felt…”
“Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, December 22, 2008

winter trees

I took this photo yesterday and it reminds me of a poem by William Carlos Williams:

"Winter Trees"
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Seamus the Squirrel Dog

Dogs need jobs. I believe they should have some purpose in the family. Our oldest dog, Paddie, was always the queen of the manor and had many roles in our home. Her main job these days is simply to protect Helena. If she thinks the puppies are getting too wild, she plants herself in front of Helena and keeps the wild boys at bay.
Teddy is our watch dog. He is a big strong boy and lets us know everything that is going on in the neighborhood. I would not want to take him on even though he is just a big ol' pile of dog hugs to this family!
Seamus though has been a different matter. He was so sick when we first got him that when he actually survived, we all thought he might be stunted from so many drugs at such a young age. As he approaches his first birthday Christmas Eve he clearly is going to be the tallest dog of all! Dogs grow up their first year, fill out their second, so who knows how big this boy will be!
Seamus' primary jobs in this household have been: baby and troublemaker. He is tall enough to grab food off the table (he also can rest his head on the table) and can open doors. He teases Teddy to play and then lets Ted take the blame for the results. Yet he also whines for attention from people--he wants to be a lap dog and still has no understanding of how big he is ---and he wants attention from the other dogs. Most of all, he loves to explore outdoors.
This past week, I decided Seamus needed a specific task. Since he loves to be outdoors, I have given him one of Paddie's old jobs: Squirrel dog. Before Teddy and Seamus came, this was a big job for Paddie, she chased the squirrels away from our garden and our bird feeders. But Paddie is 11 now and her favorite thing is to be curled up in front of the radiator (she always was a smart dog). Teddy gets too distracted to chase squirrels once he is outside but for Seamus this role might be perfect! He seems to be embracing his new duties and enjoys the rewards he is
his efforts.
It's going to be a long cold winter and the birds will need a good protector! At the rate we are going, we are filling bird feeders nearly every other day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

Helena is growing up! When I pulled out her Christmas dress, I showed her the reindeer antlers I had purchased at the dollar store. "Do you want to wear them?" The question was innocent enough, last year she would have strutted around in them. This year, she appeared insulted, "No, Nana, why would I do that?" And then there was that sparkle of unholy glee in her eye, "Where are the puppies," she shouted and off we were to some new merriment.....Seamus doesn't care for the new hairpiece but Teddy doesn't mind anything Helena does to him.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Little Lena

Here is Helena's main present. I was fortunate enough to have gotten her doll last spring and have been collecting all the accessories (or made them) ever since. Good thing I did too because I could have never handled that kind of handwork now!
Now I am going to figure out a game (treasure hunt) to make her search for her presents on Christmas. Knowing Helena, she will like the game better than the presents!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Special Santa Tradition

Is there anything more wonderful than a child at Christmas? Okay a GRANDchild at Christmas is a real gift!
Every year Helena goes to visit the Santa at our local shopping center. He is always the same nice old man with the same real beard and Helena has liked him since she was a baby. When she was less than a year old she was running away from us to get back to Santa!
This year, Helena wasn't interested in telling Santa about what toys she would like. She just loved seeing him again. He is an old friend she sees once a year and she told him about her animals and how she was doing. I shall miss it if the good ol' Santa ever leaves our little community shopping center and miss it more when Helena is reluctant to see Santa. But for today, we have had a one perfect day again.
Pictures from top: 2008, 2007, 2006.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's winter and I can't wait until January.....

It seems impossible that Christmas is just 8 days away! Today we woke to snow and some ice but the storm wasn't as bad as the weathermen predicted. Our local weathermen say the real storms are coming Thursday night and Friday. Meantime, I am trying to wrap things up for Christmas. This wintry weather has me yearning for January and the quiet days of midwinter.

Today I worked on Helena's doll quilt and mattress. My brother is making a bed for "little Lena" (the name we are now calling her doll). On Thursday, Helena is coming and we are going to see Santa!!! Then we are having a craft afternoon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Today it has been raining ALL DAY long. Tomorrow we are possibly getting snow. I did some Christmas baking today and made DH's favorite, peanutbutter blossoms (the kind with the hershey kiss in them). Pulled most of the Christmas presents out of the attic and did an assessment of what we have.

Once again, we--okay I--have got more than needed for Helena. I got her a doll that looks just like her and a ton of clothes for the doll. At nearly 5 years old, she is just getting in to the phase where she will dress and undress her dolly. Helena loves to play hide and seek and whenever anyone comes here, she runs and hides. I am thinking we might do hide and seek with her Christmas presents (like a treasure hunt with clues). I'm also making a quilt for her dolly who I am secretly calling Ruthy (like a doll I had at her age by the same name). I wish DH would make her a bed but we have already so much stuff that I can't justify it.

Christmas sure is fun with a young'un around again! It just makes my heart sing to think of surprises for our best girl!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Whew another crafting day done with the girls!

Well we managed to survive another crafting day with the girls! We are working on crafts for Christmas. In the morning, Helena and I made little Xmas tree ornaments of stockings; Helena decorated them and made presents for Mommy, Daddy, and Pop Punkin (my DH, it is her nickname for him).

This afternoon Katie (our neighbor's daughter) joined us and we did a fun craft that I had read about in a magazine this year. We had bought crayola air dry clay and DH rolled it out for the girls. Then we used cookie cutters to cut shapes out and the girls decorated the shapes with whatever we could find in my craft stash: buttons, glitter, beads, etc. The girls had a blast! They made two trays of ornaments and we still have half of a tub of clay left. Great stuff and they are very excited. Now we are just waiting for the clay to dry out (for the next craft day we will put the ribbons in the ornaments and attach bells to them). A great memory for us all!

3 Poodles and a Nana

Well I decided to go this route for crafts and sewing since my sewing pals all seem to have blogspot. I'll use the yahoo for DH whenever he is away.

I'm Mickie or as I am known to my darling granddaughter, "Nana". I live in eastern Pennsylvania and love to quilt, embroider, bake, garden and collect old quilts and quilt patterns. I am particularly fond of sunbonnet sue patterns because after having all brothers and all sons, girls are a welcome addition to my world :)

I live with my DH and three standard poodles (the big poodles): Paddie (a girldog), Teddy and our big ol' baby, Seamus. Four years ago when our granddaughter was born, I left my job as a college administrator to spend more time at home with my family. Both of our sons are grown and moved on in their lives, one married (Helena's Daddy) and one is out of college and found the right girl.

This past year, I began a different journey after caring for my sick husband for two years. I am now studying to become a quilt appraiser and doing all sorts of research on quilting and specific antique quilts and patterns. This is going to be next career now that Helena is getting ready for Kindergarten next year and my husband has recovered as much as he will from his fall.

Each day is a gift and I have many blessings in my world, including my family and many, MANY wonderful friends.