Tuesday, December 31, 2013

To 2014

Last year I dedicated my year to a happy, frivolous word that bubbles up inside us, that spills over, effervescent, and lights up the world for ourselves and those we love...  I chose sparkle as my word of the year.  I think I failed.  Thinking back, sparkle is not a word that even makes sense for me.  Sparkling requires lots of light, lots of energy...  Lots of pretty pep.  No wonder.  I'm glad I chose it.  I think I added a smidge more fun to my life because of that word.

Hello, 2014.  You've been asking for a new word.   Lucky you.  You barely escaped the choosing of a truly busy word.  I want to accomplish many things and reintroduce crafting, projects, art, and creativity.  I thought maybe "diligent, industrious, work."

Later I considered the word, "glow."  A more steady, warm, sustainable form of sparkling.

Contentment...  Inner harmony.  I want to restore the portions of lost heart to my friends, family...  And myself.  Nurture...  Kindness...  Hope...

My friend Alison, suggested no word, just being.  Another friend seemed to indicate the wisdom of keeping the word a secret between you and the universe.

Beauty.  Commitment.  Composure.  I could revisit an old one, Authenticity.

 “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” —Galileo Galilei  ....  So I return to the inner fires of beauty, contentment, ambition... To share an inner glow with the ones I love.  I choose ......

Creativity and Kindness...  Who says we can't choose two.

Monday, December 30, 2013

As the year ends...

Wishing you all a good, loving, and safe New Year....  Thank you all for your support and inspiration throughout the years we have spent together.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Outrageous Christmas Sweater Rant

You know, this is going to be one of the posts I probably shouldn't publish.  Controversy in any form?  Not my style.  I don't go in for any of the current debates or arguments.  I'm usually more in trouble for sitting ...quiet....in public rather than "shooting my mouth off."  I am not always that kind, but I want to be.  I did defend Paula Deen, but I wasn't defending racism, of course...  That's another story.

So, you'd think my subject might have to be something super important, biblical, political---  at least financial.  But it's not.  It's Christmas sweaters.  Yep.  Here I find the writing much more intense and personal than the subject warrants.  Ugly Christmas Sweater things, parties, parades....  They hurt my feelings.  Really.  It's ridiculous to explain.  It's pathetic actually to be 59 years old and actually give a darn about what people think.

I guess it's something cellular almost with me.  As an only child, I learned from Mom and Dad to absolutely share everything and never be that stereotype (which I think is wrong) of spoiled.  I didn't learn, however, to be thick-skinned.  No brothers or sisters called me pet blames, teased me, or laughed at me.  I was the Princess....  Until grade school, high school, and life.  No amount of sharing prepared me for the shock of not being special to everyone in the room.  How could that be?  So little eye rolls and teases...  Mocking me about my homemade clothes...   It all stung...  Inside.  Outside, I've lived with my Gramma's philosophy, "Stick yer head in the air."

As a grown woman...  I should have outgrown this mortification of spirit.  I freely and whole heartedly embraced all things holiday, including sweaters for every festive occasion.  For many years, although I'm a large woman, I felt pretty and special in these sweaters.  Photos sometimes alarmed my senses as outrageous jack-o-lanterns and wacky cats illuminated me in group photos...  But, my confidence allowed me to work that sweater, laugh and truly enjoy wearing them.  I have no idea how many holiday sweaters I own...  I do realize I was recognized as one to be wearing one...  You see where I'm going.

A couple years ago a lifelong friend called me to borrow a couple of my Christmas sweaters for her grandchildren.  I refused, even though she really insisted.  Later that night I googled a Christmas Sweater Party, something totally new to me.  Nope.  None of those.  Tons of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties.  More every year.  Prizes.  Facebook.  More friends calling my friends...  Um.  ------  FYI:    If I own a sweater with a holiday theme, obviously I didn't think it was ugly.  Thus...  It's hurtful, dare I say rude, to call and ask to borrow one.  When I see pictures and realize people are mocking them...  Also hurtful.

Nothing to be done.  These parties will go on until the pop culture tires of them, if it ever does.  But it's just something I finally want to articulate.  I know.  I really know.  It isn't a personal attack on me because, hey!  I did finally learn I'm not the center of attention in the universe...  But the general public  chose something I loved and called it ugly, made it tacky, mocked it, got drunk in it...  Lined up for goofy photos...    And by association, it feels as if they are mocking me

Okay...  Got that said.  Maybe tonight I'll grow up, stop being four years old, and wear whatever I want, NO. MATTER. WHAT?  Everyone else sure does.   Maybe the next fun thing will be a "shoddy cell phone or icky IPod party". Maybe sixty-something's will go places with holes torn out of all our clothes and "hot stuff" glittered smack dab on our butt cheeks.....Lol...  Naw, that's too awful, even for pop-culture.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Something holiday in the air...

All around ...  Holidays create an air of comfort...  It may take extra effort, sometimes too much stewing, always too much money...  But it's a special time.  I have never had a holiday season without school...  Since 1959....   It's funny, but it didn't really feel as if I had more time.  Now, that's just silly, isn't it?

Our trees, streets, and sidewalks are freshly glazed from a prairie winter ice and sleet storm yesterday.   I think I'm in for the duration. My love for snow is tempered with an inordinate fear of falling, sliding... Or of those I love skidding around....

Let me tell you about my holiday baking!  I decided to make a goodie every day this week with Mom.  She loves "goodies" and it felt like a reasonable amount for friends who visit.  Yesterday I was planning to make my son a pan of brownies for the class he's teaching...  And a goodie.  First the brownies, Mom's special....to die for....recipe.  These brownies are created on top of the stove...  I preheated the oven...  Had to break open a new sack of flour since our lock tight tub was missing...

Yep.  350° is too hot for a Rubbermaid tub of flour at the very back of top shelf in the oven.   I caught it only moments before it melted through...  No flour plopped and confused the mess that had been handles and green rims...  I had to do the thermonuclear stage of cleaning with the door auto-locked to def con seven...  We managed to finish the brownies, but we weren't in the mood for a goodie!  At. All.  Our house certainly didn't have a scrumptious air...  But the plastic turned to a bit of dust...  Poof!

Luckily our family today enjoyed a change of air as yummy taco salad sent its spicy deliciousness all through the house...  Felìz Navidad! Have a lovely, lovely holiday...  Merry Christmas blessings to you and all you love.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The icy blue....

Last night the winds brought deep, soft snow.  The beautiful sort that clings to the trees and makes the a Christmas cards a fortune.  Mom and I slept cozy and sound, my son home from a late night of work and Hobbit watching...  I've been wrapping, making some treats, and generally losing myself in the holiday blur.

There comes a moment when it's here...  Usually with my old schedule, that moment came right on the wings of the 25th, but with a little more time...  I'm finding myself unable to just stop, put away the lists, get out the cocoa, the holiday teas, the movies...  Read the beautiful words of St. Luke, the ultimate Christmas message given the the world...  Time to stop.  To listen...  To remember... And To Be....

Our mantle bids you enter into the icy realm of Heartland Magic...  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celebrating the first snow!

Outside Mr. winter has been swirling through.  And there is snow!  Oh, not enough to cancel school, but enough to make me happy again not to be going!  It's so pretty in the 9° sunshine...  My thermometer had 9°!  Mom was scheduled for an appointment today, but we canceled.  Something about icy sidewalks and walkers don't really mix in a good way.   The last of our decorations go up today, but here is a sneak peek at our tree.  It was fun to load it down with new and old ornaments this year.  The painted wooden ones were made 40 years ago by "a young college student" sitting patiently on her bed and fashioning holiday gifts from almost no money!  40!?!  Can that be right?

"She" also surprised her dad with an embellished resurrection of his army blanket.  The rips and holes---  she added a rosette or embroidery of gold felt.  The edges of military serge?  Too boring for this miss.  She used her trusty blanket stitch in gold, fuzzy yarn for a decor touch.  I'll never forget the little cry he made when he opened it on Christmas morning...  Not really an exclamation of joy, but more like a little bird whose wing just got hit with a BB gun...   He quickly smiled and never let me know how shocked and actually disappointed he was to see the army blanket he used through WW2's harsh conditions turned into some frilly tea cozy...  Years later it dawned on me I'd never seen it out on display.  Mom just shook her head, shrugged.....  And I was older than that college sophomore I had been...  I realized he missed the old, manly blanket!  Poor Daddy. Oops!

Anyway, I hope to make a batch of graham cracker toffee cookies today...  Enjoy the season!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas in Bevier

City celebrations come and go, but there is a quality to life in small towns that accents a holiday...  I sat with a dear friend today while she sold lovely handmade jewelry...  Up and down each aisle, former students and friends sold little handmade treasures...  Local talent sang carols from the stage, and fussy toddlers streaked around the gym in peppermint striped tights .....with harried mommies close behind, the fluffy tulle dress and frilly hair bow ready.....  The baby show awaited...  But it wasn't a high priority with THE BABY!

We had the never-ending soup bowl, home made divinity, sugar scrubs scented with peppermint extract, baby oil, and the high hopes of junior girls thinking to finance Prom....  Santa, hayrides, frigid cold air....  Good times.  I stopped to bring home a pizza for my mom and me...  Two more students from my past smiling out the window...  I fully appreciate the layering of years of shared memories.  As a community Bevier just bleeds purple and white...  We give the school, the town, the young people our best.  With me, as well as with others, my best is sometimes not quite right...  But a spirit of community is a definite blessing with no purchase price...

Tonight I hang up my new necklace, a sparkling steampunk-inspired piece with bluebird, charm, antique chain and key...  I plug in a night light, offer Mom her favorite divinity and Holiday drop cookies...  Put aside a loaf of light bread for tomorrow's lunch, freeze a cherry nut loaf, tuck away some cute Stocking stuffers, and step from a hot shower and peppermint scrub...  I kind of wish I'd seen Santa... Think about all the years before and the ones to come...  First Saturday in December.....  Be there or ....  Wish you were...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Spirit!

Of course!  Well, yes!  With the big holiday only three weeks away, we feel the waves of excitement, good cheer, and spirit pulsing through our veins.  I'm a little surprised to discover how confused everything appears.  We chose a different spot for the tree this year.  Maybe that's the culprit.  We had the very latest of Thanksgivings possible...  I've been on a six-month purge/declutter/spiff of the house...  And truthfully I can't find anything.

And there is always a little sting to Christmas joy, a tug at memory's heart to recall some magic from our yesterdays.  I always begin to hear a few hardworking women begin to melt down, wishing Christmas would be "over."  Budgets disappear and fizzle right along with the sinking feeling that I've bought all the wrong presents...  And some of these gifts are elusively crammed hither and yon in aforesaid spiffed home!

I'm a lot disappointed I forgot the first Sunday night of Advent, and I see no candles ready for the second.  I miss my decorations from home right alongside the happiness I get from rediscovering Mom's treasures from years ago.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...  Yes, there also is a huge veil of Christmas Spirit.  It's not about everyone being holly jolly, about all the curios festive and perfect cookies baked.  The holidays aren't about gifts all ready and carols tinkling from stereo systems while hot cider spices on tegu stove.  I keep telling myself to work mindfully, to not cut corners, to enjoy each moment.

So far, it's helping.  I wonder if I'll repeat a disturbing dream I've had recurring for many Christmases.  In this dream, I find it's suddenly a Christmas exchange/holiday party/ family gift time...   And I'm taken by shock.  Unprepared, I spend the dream scrambling, rooting, throwing candles and haphazard food at unkempt holiday tables.  Sometimes a friend of mine brings a bit of order.  Sometimes not.

Whatever we do... Or don't do, the real Christmas is about love.  Please let me never forget that for a fleeting second.