Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ringing in the New Year

There will be no bells -- dinner and a movie with friends will do it. I've enjoyed blogs and Christmas letters from friends whose homes were full of children and grandchildren over the holiday. We had our share of family too, but we broke with tradition this year. No Christmas Eve party. Instead Tom and I had a very enjoyably quiet Christmas eve day, a simple dinner followed by a car ride to look at Christmas lights, meandering into town to get a movie out of the Red Box at the local gas station. After the movie we warmed our toes by the fire.
Did I say we were alone? Silly me. We had our furry friends for company that night.
It was a lovely evening. More about the New Year to come...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas iPad

There are four iPads in this house, but mine is the newest. This is the coolest Christmas present ever...well I think so... That chainsaw I back in 1996 was a pretty cool gift. And I got so much work done with it. Not that I ever started it up, but I let Tom use it anytime he wanted, or anytime I wanted him to. He was surprised how much work a little chainsaw could do.

I'm actually just checking to see if I can blog from my iPad. My kids are here to give me pointers -- better than any tutorial. So that's the point of this post, learning and practicing. I'd really like to add a picture, but I have to go read up on how to do that. If all else fails, as I understand it, there's an app for that.

For now there are some other gifts waiting to be opened. I think I'm holding up the action.

Moving on...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Morning

The house is quiet, except for the hum of the furnace and purr of the cat beside me. I don't often see this hour of the morning...but I'm thinking, what's to see anyway? It's very dark. Electric candles glow warm and soft in the windows. Each one has a double reflecting back. Cup of coffee in hand I've walked through the house plugging in lights, enjoying the ambiance, watching for the sky to lighten up.

All is peaceful, calm, spite of the dusting of snow. The presents are wrapped. House clean enough, ready for company tomorrow. (I know. I can't believe it either.) The mood is just right, a perfect time to blog...I thought. But then again... the glow of the computer screen kind of ruins the magic. So I'll close this out, close the lid. Looking toward the eastern sky, there's the first light of dawn. How marvelous, the start of a new day. Christmas eve day.

Merry Christmas friends. May you find Love, make peace, and bask in joy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

There are a lot things to pick on in the world, but how you wish someone a happy holiday shouldn't be one of them. I applaud whoever wrote this...

Christmas is a very special time for me. I like the glitz and the holiday music. I like the presents, gathering together with family, the holiday foods, chestnuts roasting and stockings hung by the fire, and the cookies, I really like the cookies.  But I'm very aware that the trappings can distort and sully the meaning of the season. Sometimes I wish for a simpler Christmas celebration -- one where we don't exchange presents or prepare pageants. Then I remember that I love exchanging presents and those pageants...well they always help me see the reality of divine intervention. Kids who didn't know their parts, wouldn't speak up, pouted, fussed, carried on, suddenly become angelic presenters of the gospel. That's a miraculous happening in churches all over the world. It recurs every single year in the weeks and days before Christmas, children remembering their lines.

The best part about those pageants is that people who wouldn't otherwise grace the indoors of a church will watch, and laugh, and applaud the efforts of children. And who knows they might hear from God.

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 4th

Well technically it's the 5th -- well past midnight of the 4th. We had nice visit with dear friends, coffee (!) and dessert, a lovely fire in the fireplace. After company left, I walked through the livingroom turning out lights, the fire was still glowing and the embers offered a pleasant hint of wood smoke, which mingled with the scent of our freshly cut fir tree. Ah yes, it's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!

Candles in the windows and lights on the B-I-G tree on the back porch, thank you Nathan. Icicle lights on the overhang of the front porch, thank you Adam and Alicia. Decorating the dining room entrance was my contribution. Oh, and this delightful addition to my M.A. Hadley collection, thank you Barb and Gus.

The cute little Merry Christmas coaster is new, but each of these pieces were gifts from the Atlanta contingent.

Tomorrow I'll hang the stockings by the fireplace and decorate the tree that presently stands unadorned. And then it will really and truly look a lot like Christmas. Shop, bake, write the Christmas letter, address cards, wrap gifts, all that to do during this month of advent. It makes the waiting go faster while we anticipate something marvelous. The birthday of a King, the Messiah, our Savior, Emmanuel, God with us. Advent is the time to prepare for what is to come!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's done

I won the race against myself. 50,000 words in one month -- One story badly in need of editing, revising, rewriting, but that's for another month. Couldn't have done it without the encouragement and competition from my writing friend Lisa.
We both made it -- she had 2 days to spare and I had 1.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Dog's Life

You built this cozy fire for me?

Gee Thanks.

I'll call you if it goes out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Novel Idea

I'm thoroughly enjoying NaNoWriMo -- mostly because I'm on target and that's such a good feeling. Here's an excerpt from one of my early chapters.

Grace and Christophe -- No R

Grace said, “My parents trotted me off to confession where I’d stand in line waiting my turn to talk to the priest. Then I went into the dark little cubicle and knelt down, waiting again, until the priest opened his window. There was a dark screen and you could only hear him, not see him. I was so nervous all I could do was make things up. I remembered most of the Ten Commandments so I’d work my way through those. I told him things I never would have done…not in a million years, but they were the only sins I could think up. When I was eight, I confessed to adultery.”

Her husband burst out laughing, "You never told me that. Did you even know what it meant?”

“Of course not -- I was eight!" Grace said.


They say you should write what you know. I know church. For better or worse, I know church.

I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got a word count to meet. 50,000 words by November 30th.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nearing the 1/2 Way Point

I'm right on target with my NaNoWriMo novel. Almost 1/2 through the month, almost 1/2 to my goal. I'm really enjoying getting to know these characters, who are becoming like friends. And I'm surprised how they keep surprising me. Just found out one of them is a hoarder! "Really?" you ask. I know, I can't believe it either. This is such a nice diversion from the drama of real life. It leaves me wondering though, why would Alice have ever wanted to leave Wonderland. Beats me. But that's back where I'm headed. I'll post again when I resurface.

Still living off last Sunday/Monday getaway to Bedford Springs Resort:

We're saving up to go back there sometime.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It Snowed Last Night!

In the middle of the night it turned white and bright outside, snow...three, maybe four inches. While I was reveling in its beauty, Tom groaned. It's almost early start for what he deems bad weather. Snow makes Tom's job harder, more stressful. He worries about his school bus drivers, their safety, the safety of the children, yep it's stressful. I on the other hand  I am chastising myself for not cutting the mums back and getting them covered with pine branches so they'll be snug enough to winter-over safely and come back in the spring. I may still get a chance to do that...November snows often melt away before winter sets-in in earnest. Not always, but often.

We had beautiful weather this past week. It would have been perfect for outside chores, but alas, I'm sick. A tenacious cold virus going around got me. And it got me good. I thought I was handling it just fine until a secondary sinus infection sneaked up on me. But now that I'm on an antibiotic surely this won't hang on much longer, right? Right. Anyway with that, and snow outside, isn't this a great day to hang out in pajamas all morning? Maybe even all day long.

Last week, when I didn't think this cold was anything to worry about Tom and I went away for an overnight stay at Bedford Springs Resort -- belatedly taking a trip our kids got us for our 40th wedding anniversary. It was  spectacular and we had a fabulous time. Lots of history there...10 or more presidents used the Bedford Springs Hotel for their summer White House, back in the day. And by that I mean the 1800's. The place is beautifully refurbished, an indoor mineral springs pool was completely redone several years ago. We enjoyed the pool, the hiking trails, the porches, the fine dining experiences, and the over-the-top care and service. And I wasn't feeling miserable then. Hmmm, maybe I overdid? (But it was so worth it!)

The hike started by crossing the bridge that connects the hotel to the big woods... 
Into the woods

It was uphill no matter what trail you picked. We chose the drastically uphill might say we chose poorly. No, not really, the hike was such fun. Which is what we said to each other later. Because while we were climbing, there was no breath to waste on talking.

There's the summit.

About half way up, looking down.
And back again.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Favorite Day of the Year

Tonight we turn the clocks back one hour. Fall behind. And that means that tomorrow morning when I normally get up around 7 or 7:30 it'll only be 6 or 6:30. Love it! I love to have slow relaxed mornings. I hope you all will enjoy your extra hour as much as I will.

November, besides being NaNo month, is my firstborn son's birthday. I'm remembering how much I enjoyed having a baby in the fall. I'd bundle him all up in the sweetest fleece snowsuit and take him for walks when it wasn't too cold. We stayed inside a lot. When spring arrived he was old enough to sit in a stroller and we'd walk the sidewalks of downtown State College. Then we moved to New Wilmington -- a beautiful little college town. And again we walked the streets, visited the community pool almost daily, and played at the playground. It's like that was a different lifetime and we were different people. Which I guess it was and we were. Thank goodness. You wouldn't want to stay the same forever now would you? Life is about growing, and moving, and learning, and getting better. I often think these days of one of my dad's favorite sayings, too soon old, too late smart. That captures it for most of us.

November is also Thanksgiving month. And here's hoping we're smart enough, at whatever age we happen to be, to give thanks. Many of my facebook friends are posting something everyday that they are thankful for. I'm too shy to jump in and do that for fear the things I'm grateful for won't measure up on someone's scale or that I won't post them in the proper level of priority. You know, God, family, church, laptop...or maybe the pets should come before the lappy. I don't know, I'm not all that crazy about the pets sometimes. They shed. I love their company, one cat and one dog, but they shed. I like petting or cuddling, don't mind feeding them, but they shed. Hairless cats are ugly but maybe our next pup could be some non-shedding variety. But I've already decided there won't be a next pup, because even if the shedding gets on your nerves, the dying breaks your heart. And that's what they do, eventually.

I'm thankful for books, I love a good book. I like movies, TV (sometimes), a clean house, a freshly mowed yard, a good church service, kids,  -- I'm delighted by little kids, and get a kick out of big ones. And it's a good thing I like kids because I absolutely love babies, I'm so thankful for little babies, but in no time they turn into kids.

I'm thankful for a warm house, good food, comfy clothes, a husband who loves me, and unseasonably warm weather in November. Tomorrow is the 6th and it's going to be 60 degrees and sunny. Gotta be thankful for that. And an extra hour of daylight to boot. Wait, that's not right. An extra hour in the morning, but evening is going to come an hour sooner. Dang. Not really thankful for that. Well I'll have to start looking forward to my husband's favorite day of the year, Dec. 22nd -- the day after the shortest day of the year. It's all uphill from there. The days start getting longer. The sun gets up sooner and goes down later. I can't wait for Dec. 22nd. The turning point. It'll be here before we know it. I'm thankful for that!

But see, look at that -- the order is probably all wrong.

Nathan and Phoebe
Phoebe curled up after a bath

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

...or NaNoWriMo as the designers of the organization call it. Whatever you call it, I'm doing it. Writing a novel in a month. At least I'm giving it my best shot, and I'm so excited...make that, excited. (There's a fine line between those two emotions, and I'm crossing it, jumping it and then jumping back again. It's kind of like jumping rope, double dutch fashion. And if I don't stop I won't have any energy left to write.)

Here's my plan --
It's a storyboard. A variation of an outline. I've got 12 blocks that make up the main scenes of my novel. Notice those last few blocks are a little sparse. They aren't as fleshed out as the earlier blocks because I have to leave room for my characters to speak to me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. The blocks are easily movable so, as the story writes itself (which I'm counting on it doing :) I can move my write-ups around.

I may be unavailable for the next month -- I mean the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. That's about 1700 words a day. I'm up to 700 today, only 1,000 to go before I put my head on the pillow tonight. No problem. It's doing it 7 days a week, including Thanksgiving day, that might be a problem. But, we're allowed to work ahead, so.... I CAN do this. Right?

We'll see. Now, what else can I do to procrastinate before getting back at it?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or Treat

Tonight's the night when precious little children come knocking at our door dressed up as...Jesse from Toy Story, a fluffy doggie (just like our own Phoebe), Mrs. Potato Head, a ghostie goblin, and a beautiful gypsy girl.

Living in the country we don't get many trick-or-treaters, just the neighbor kids. So the above list represents all 5 of the cuties we treated tonight.
Cute, huh?
We forgot to get out the camera when Mrs. Potato Head, the Gypsie, and the ghostie goblin guy were here. Dang... they were really cute too.

I haven't been very faithful to this blog lately and that probably won't improve next month. I'm taking a writing course to prepare for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). NaNo starts the first of November so I'm in it up to my eyebrows for another month or so while I write a novel. Stop laughing, I'm going to do this. And by mentioning it here, I've just upped the stakes and the pressure. Good grief.

Oh, but yeah -- life goes on, so Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Genesee Country Inn

After a lovely stay at the Genesee Country Inn we headed up the road to Genesee Country Village.

We had a lovely time touring the village, walking through houses that...
                            our own
                                      1860's home.

Only difference, we don't have to cook meals in our fireplace (but now I know how should an emergency arise). Oh, and, our bathroom is inside.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Week Long Birthday

It's like the birthday that never ends...and I don't mind a bit. Last Tuesday my friend Nadine made birthday dinner for me.

Then we went on a two-day trip to New York. You'll find pictures of day one which we spent at Letchworth State Park in the previous post. I'll get around to posting pictures of day two at Genesee Country Village soon -- maybe next post.

When we got home there were more birthday cards in the mail. And Mr. Mailman brought more birthday gifts and greetings again today.

Finally, (maybe?) --

Tonight we went out to dinner (one last birthday dinner for this year!) with Adam and Alicia. It's a nice routine we have with them, about once a month, meeting half way for dinner to celebrate a special occasion, or just because, if there's no occasion. Sometimes they come all the way here, other times we go all the way there, but meeting in the middle works great. We love it, and we love that they seem to love it as well.

So... I am well birthdayed. And this isn't even one of those monumental years. But the next one is. One year less one week until I turn 60. This is me getting ready for that.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn Getaway

Upper falls
 We couldn't have picked a better couple of days to visit Letchworth Park in New York. This amazing river canyon boasts 3 sets of waterfalls, the upper, middle and lower falls. Breathtaking!

Middle falls
Lower Falls
Hiking trails, The Glenn Iris Inn, a museum of local history including the life story of Mary Jemison, who was captured by Indians at age 13. Known as "white woman," Mary chose to remain with her tribe when freedom was offered. Of course by then she was married with kids. And since her natural family had been massacred when she was taken...well yeah.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October 1st

A young couple from church got married today...the weather was dreary, rainy, cold...but they were so radiant they provided all the sunshine the rest of us needed to enjoy their special day.

After the ceremony their plan was to come to our house for pictures. Our imposing old barn makes an interesting backdrop for photos. The big front porch with multicolored Adirondack chairs is a good place to pose. And the swing set, tractor and wagon make nice props too. But, oh baby, it was too cold, wet and drizzly to really do justice to any outdoor pics. Maybe they'll come back for a repeat after their honeymoon. I hope so.

Here's how things look on good days...

Today was nothing like this. Too bad. Still it was a great day and a lovely wedding. Our David provided special music for the ceremony. Of course he's far away in Colorado so he recorded a DVD of one of his original songs for Ashley and Justin. You can listen to his sweet love song by clicking here if you like. He got all dressed up with a shirt and tie for the recording -- nice touch for the wedding. The song brought tears. But what's a wedding without tears?

This was the first wedding reception in our new fellowship hall at church. Look how pretty...
The bride and groom chose beautiful fall colors. I hope I'll get my hands on some more pictures to post later.

I went back to church to help clean up a bit -- birdseed is wicked to sweep up in case you didn't know. I brought home some tablecloths to wash, dry, and fold. Which is why I'm blogging at midnight, entertaining myself while waiting for the dryer, because heaven forbid I should have to iron those buggers.

I'm heading for bed now. Here's hoping we don't have a frost to nip all of my beautiful flowers still in bloom. The dahlias are hardy, but the hibiscus not so much. We'll see. Good-night all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Sunny Sunday Morning...

and I'm better! Hallelujah.

It's officially fall. The pool is still open, but the leaves are indeed falling into it. That's okay, for another few weeks it will still be worth it -- having to clear out the leaves before swimming. And then the weather will turn cooler and rainy and that'll be that. We'll spend a day or two putting the pool to sleep for the winter.

A mama deer and two of her offspring graced us with their presence(s) this morning. When they posed in the sunlight Tom began snapping pictures...

Eventually they ran away and so did we. Off to church...they worship their way, we another. I listened to one of my son's messages this week (actually I listened to 3 messages in the series The Indestructible Church) and (in each) he references worship. The act of worship is more than gathering on Sundays, more than the music, the message, the prayer. Worship is our life.

It always surprises me how God dovetails things.Aaron's sermons were in the same vein as our own Pastor's current series, In Common, which began on September 11th. Coincidentally (?) Sunday School class often touches on something that comes across in Pastor's message. The music, whether choruses or hymns, complement or even complete the sermon. And yet, the Pastor, Sunday School teacher, worship leader haven't collaborated -- not at all. But the Holy Spirit communes with each of our spirits. Yeah, it's a God thing. Gotta love it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Sigh!

Apparently I have shingles -- or poison ivy. Either way I'm quarantined. And in the quiet of being alone at home I'm thinking of all the wonderful things that I enjoy day by day and haven't gotten around to posting. Coffee in the morning, staying in pajamas until 10 o'clock on my one day off a week -- two if you count Saturday. Roaming the house looking out the windows. Freshly mowed lawn, green edges, trees just beginning to think about turning colors, sunshine. I especially like it when there is sunshine, although yesterday it rained, soft and drizzly, and that was nice too. The flowers, wild and otherwise, that bloom in season. The surprise of perennials that make a comeback every single year. Wildlife like squirrels, chipmunks, birds, woodchucks (who I've never once seen chucking wood), turkeys, rabbits, deer -- playing and foraging and, at least some of them, running to hide from sharpshooter Tom. Oh, and seeing the occasional eagle -- eagle sightings are the best.

Red geraniums are taking a break, but black-eyed susans are at their peak.

Fishing on French Creek is fun, or if you're me, the scenery, the canoe ride and reading a good book.

And licking ice cream cones on the porch swing -- that's quite enjoyable too.

I'm remembering all the fun of summer and writing this post to keep my mind off the itchy, ouchie, oozie trouble of shingles...or poison ivy...whatever.