Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tell Me a Story

"When they got home, the Rat made a bright fire in the parlour, and planted the Mole in an armchair in front of it, having fetched down a dressing gown and slippers for him, and told him river stories till suppertime. Very thrilling stories they were, too, to an earth dwelling animal like Mole . . . Supper was a most cheerful meal; but very shortly afterward a terribly sleepy Mole had to be escorted upstairs by his considerate host, to the best bedroom, where he soon laid his head on his pillow in great peace and contentment, knowing that his new-found friend the River was lapping the sill of his window." The Wind in the Willows

Hello fellow cozy-makers! Brad (our oldest son) and I were computer chatting about The Wind and the Willows. We love it so. He said he loved how the River is depicted most of all, and I love the domestic settings, of course. The BBC (love) made a The Wind in the Willows story and I shall see it soon. The sweet scene above comes from there. I want to invite you to sit before the stove a while. Get all soft and snug, have a steaming cup of strong tea, tell me a few of your stories.

Maybe you are a city mouse or you live on the outskirts of a city as I do, but you have a country mouse's heart. Wear your softest cotton dress, your pretty apron, a pair of clogs. Put your tired feet under my table. I'll make a cake for you, slice some strong cheese, and we'll tell stories. Yes, we'll listen to each other.

Isn't that what we do when we read blogs? We pop in, read every word, think about each other, validate one another when we make specific comments of kind connection. One dear friend told me she likes blogs because she can invite friends into her life without having to do a big swoopy clean of her house. I quite agree. I feel very welcomed into her soft, eloquent world. I read your stories. You read mine. I find it pleasingly miraculous.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mount Joy

Do you believe that certain books just "find their way" to you and your amazing mind? I think they do. When I was in elementary school, I loved the school library. My friends and I spent recess there sometimes, sitting on the steps down to a sunken primary section, we'd read plays together from a periodical called (duh) PLAYS. I found this delightful and they were nice enough to "play" along. Remember how my first glimpse of Betsy-Tacy made such an impression on me? Another book that I kept looking at, pulling down, even checking out but not reading was the book above written by Daisy Newman. I was ten years old when it was published and as much as I was in love with its cover, I simply didn't have the background knowledge to read it cover to cover. I thought of it a week or so ago and ordered it. Now, I know it's no coincidence that this book arrived on the heels of that "other" book that gave me the heebie jeebies. They are both written about history, one (the creepy one) about Italy and the other about France and Spain. So, my brain was already thinking about religion in the medieval times. Mount Joy is about a pilgrimage made by a young college student. A fanatic for medieval architecture and art, she travels from Paris to Mount Joy. It's a beautifully written book, so considerate of the intelligent young adult reader which is unlike many of the young adult offerings out there now. I researched the author, Daisy Newman. She was born of American parents in England. She went to Radcliffe College, Barnard University, and Oxford University. She died in 1994 at the age of ninety. She was a Quaker. Fascinating. Now that I'm almost to the end of Gladys Taber, I am ON TO Daisy Newman. This particular copy of Mount Joy had been pulled from a library in Ohio. I'm so glad it's mine now. Before I came home and found it had arrived, I had been browsing at the used book store (she only wanted about six dollars worth of my books, too many copies of the "creepy" book already sat upon her shelves). Anyway, a person could get lost in this store! Two by fours constitute shelving and there are all kinds of passageways and stacks and stacks of books on the floor and up to the ceiling. I found something special, a Lutheran hymnal. Five dollars bought me some sweet, quiet, liturgical moments for the next few months. Oh, I am so dearly loved by a God who KNOWS me. I also found a few copies of The Wind in the Willows (LOVE) and this old Living New Testament which I already have but I like to doodle and scribble in a fresh copy every now and then. Oh, you are so nice to have read this far. I have more to say. Smile.

And what I have to say is that I love days like today, when I am home and the sunbeams are shining into our house. It reminds me of my childhood homes. One little cottage where we lived until I was three or four - of course I can't remember much but I do remember sun shining in on the floor of the den, the tiny kitchen. In our next house, by the golf course, sun shown in the kitchen, too. I relished the bright clean look of our house and often my dad was out mowing the grass and the smell of THAT plus the shine of the indoors made me feel happy. When we lived in Spokane, we had bright winter days, too. I'd put the kids down for naps and sit in a squishy chair or sew by the window. I loved the domesticity of this. I am loving being home. Can you tell? Snow is supposed to come later in the week, but now I am going out to walk around in the clear cool air.

There are still flowers inside - so pretty. Kelli and Millie came over his morning to help Bill with some accounting stuff and I sat by the window holding Millie.

As I held her little pink self, I thought, "Here I am holding my seventh grandchild. I am blessed indeed."
And now Birdie has arrived with her daddy. She can come with me on my walk and we'll go down to the coffee shop and have a cuppa. More happiness. I wish you simple happiness today, too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Out Walking

It's warm here but VERY brown. Taking a camera walk turns into a seek for color. The deciduous trees are all sticks. The evergreens still shine but don't look quite so full and rich without other shades to compare them to. I feel a bit snow deprived. However, there are a few colorful sorts who brighten up my neighborhood. Look at these king size balls and baubles!

The bear statue is all holidayed up. He's very serious.

These smell so good. Mmmmmmmmm.

A barking little boy came out to look at me.

Big bulbs lined a garden

Friendly cats amuse me. Isn't this one sleek and lovely?

We seem to have VERY patriotic neighbors. There are American flags flying everywhere. When my friend from India came to visit, she said that where she lives in Bangalore, there are people walking by all of the time. She said there are actually crowds of people walking by. Sometimes I don't want to be one of those people walking by, so I neglect my walking. Sometimes I must force myself to get my gear together (phone, camera, iPod) and make myself step out to the curb. I can be very stingy with my time.

Last night I felt sort of blah and I think I pinpointed why. I was reading one of my new books. While it is written with precision and great writing expertise, it deals with dark topics. It highlights the worst aspects of human tendencies. I'm taking it to the used book store today, quite unfinished. Call me Pollyanna but I don't need stories of dirt, darkness, and greed. Garbage in: sadness. Good things in: JOY.
Debbie at Artful Aspirations sent me a lovely little book called Just Being Happy. It's old and torn. It has a lot of sparkles.

I used to think it was great to disregard happiness, to press to a high goal, careless, disdainful of it. But now I see that there is nothing so great as to be capable of happiness - to pluck it out of each moment; and, whatever happens, to find that one can ride as gay and buoyant on the angry, menacing, tumultuous waves of life as on those that glide and glitter under a clear sky; that it is not defeat and wretchedness which come out of the storms of adversity, but strength and calmness and joy.
~A. Gilchrist

Good stuff.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fresh Out of Sparkles

I hope your Christmas rocked with joy and happiness. I can't say I was a real ball of fire. I ran out of steam before dinner. The roast beast was wonderful but getting it on the table and making everything all glow-y, well . . . didn't happen. Do you run out of sparkles before the end of the day?

The weather was springlike! Yes, there are a lot of old dead twigs and stubble but Bill hung clothes on the line because it was SO warm. A birdie visited. A squirrel peeked at me from the pine branches.

I spotted a reindeer.

I experienced a little "gift jealousy" because Kelli bought this mouse for Miss Bug (from Cottontails Baby, our favorite UK store!) and I WANT ONE. Look at her dress! She's soft. Miss Bug shared.

Reve made a quilt for Millie. Don't you LOVE it?

Everyone tried to sneak in a nap after dinner.

Millie napped most of the day and then . . . she woke up to say hello.
I think I have good plans for tomorrow: sit on the squishy sofa and knit, watch movies, read, read, read, eat apples NOT Almond Roca.
Frances over at Left Handed Housewife reminds us that Christmas must not be boxed up and put away for at least a week and I agree.
I want my heavenly peace to last a while.
Thank you for stopping in and leaving a few sparkles.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Candlelight Fun

Hello! I ache all over after hustling about dusting and polishing, but I am enjoying my clean house. I really should make this happen a little more often. Smile. Do you see that I brought the garden gnomes in for Christmas? I like them.

Our friends have a Millie, too! So here is Millie holding Millie! Sweet.

The poinsettias at the grocery store were sort of limp so I bought trees instead.

Is this statis? I like it. I bought green mums and purple statis for the vases.

More Millie holding

Two things I didn't get done: sew some festive Christmas bunting for the windows and finish a crocheted cushion. I may do this today. But, I may just drink tea and play with Miss Bug who is staying here while her sisters go to a cookie party. She has the sniffles.

The candles on the shelf dripped down onto the table runner and made a huge mess. They looked pretty, but is there such a thing as a candle you DON'T have to tend?

The friends brought nice wine and I had one glass, but for some reason I much prefer the taste of Coca-Cola. I'm not fancy.

Birdie and Bug had fun. Sam couldn't come because her mama had to work late.

What? You don't serve gummy worms at your dinner parties?

One more week of Christmas mug use.

Something I love: plate hangers.

I washed curtains and cushion covers. I NEVER get around to this so I am feeling quite pleased with my domestic self.

Now here's what I read in a Henri Nouwen Advent book: Community is being around people that drive you crazy.
For some reason this made me feel REALLY good. I thought I was the only person who sometimes doesn't like others. I guess it's normal. Whew!

So from candle to candle, I wish you (who I REALLY LIKE!) great peace and quiet. I wish you Almond Roca. Heck! I wish myself Almond Roca and I'm off to brew another cup of tea and treat myself to a foil wrapped portion of bliss.
Thank you so much for coming by. I know you are busy. (BIG HUG!)

Monday, December 20, 2010


Do you make a big deal out of things that maybe ARE NOT a big deal? I do. I'm having dinner guests on Wednesday and I've been THINKING about all the things I WAS GOING to do to get ready for their visit, but I am stuck in neutral and can't seem to figure out what to do first. So, I'm not doing anything. Instead, I'm playing around on the "Interwebs" and snacking. I sent Santa an email with a nice list of books I'd like because I have Beatrix Potter on the brain. I've read the Gladys Taber books so much that they are starting to repeat themselves. I've written a few cards. I filled the bird feeder, washed a quilt and hung it on the line, had a little more cheese, went to the grocery store with Kelli, ordered the The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle for my Kindle. Bill suggested that. I'm going to start there. Reading the hourly meditations will take me out of myself and into the space I really want to be. I'll keep you posted.
I'll also continue to dabble in The Wind in the Willows. It's a cozy place to visit.

I'll gaze at illustrations like this one.

I'll keep the jolly postman in mind and maybe I'll finish the cards I'm working on.

I might buy more greens, candles, and poinsettias for the house, even if I don't dust.

I'll pop over to for a little inspiration.

I'll keep snacking.

I'll keep remembering that Birdie, Bug, and Sam are coming over Wednesday evening, too. It'll be such a wild rumpus that cleaning really should not be my fixation. And guess who else is coming?

This peaceful one. She gets it. Yes, Millie. Show us how to be still. Show us how to trust. Show us what THE BABY looked like when He burst into the world, held by a girl who was the same age as my students.

Rest. Rest your soul. Heavenly peace.