Monday, November 30, 2009

Things that make me go "awww..."

My daughter, 20, thanked me for our recent Thanksgiving celebration. She invited a few of her friends to join us and they did. She was grateful for the opportunity to have guests welcomed in our home. She said to me, "We have the best house. It's the love that you and daddy have that makes our place feel so good. That is why people want to be here."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seasonal Harmony....

Poppy pug loves her bed in front of the fire. In the interest of seasonal harmony, she shared her bed yesterday with Clara bunny and a stuffed white toy. It was cute overload, for sure.

Building fun...

My sister Deb has a good sense for fun, and shares it. She started a great new tradition in our family. The day after Thanksgiving everyone gathers to eat leftovers and make ginger bread houses. She buys the kits on sale after Christmas, and stores them. She also buys STUFF to decorate them with, from fake snow to little sticks to make picket fences and all sorts of interesting candy, too. I LOVE this tradition. (Note: So does Lilly, my bad, bad Boxer. She waits patiently for a chance to GET the pretty houses and eat them up. She has not missed a house in 11 years, and is amazingly talented at getting the houses down from the highest spots so she can gnaw on the walls, nibble on the candies and just in general create mayhem. Hey, a girl needs a hobby, and this is hers!)

Here are a few of this years creations. I love to hear the laughter and conversation around the table as the building, frosting and decorating happen. New traditions are sweet!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Three girls, one in pearls...

Zoe, Aimee and Elyse at Thanksgiving. So much beauty in one shot!

What I loved about Thanksgiving...

I loved:
  • Cleaning the house and all the planning and preparation for visitors.
  • Spending the day before cooking at my leisure.
  • Welcoming 19 friends and family to our home.
  • The smell of all our favorite, traditional dishes perfuming the air.
  • The sound of happily chatting voices through every corner of the house.
  • Candles and flowers.
  • Eating!
  • Cooperative guests helping by bringing food, cleaning up, washing dishes...
  • Time with my dear family.
  • Leftovers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yardsale decorating...

My guest room used to house my home office desk, a bookshelf, a file cabinet, two beds, a chair and a small chest all within its small space. It was a bit claustrophobic! My sister Deb is one of my most frequent overnight visitors, and I felt bad tucking her into this crowded room, though she claimed it was fine. Yesterday was her birthday, and today she is coming to help celebrate Thanksgiving. Part of her birthday surprise is this newly redone room... spacious, airy, bright and restful. Every single piece of furniture in the room is from yard sales.(The wonderful chintz chair and pillows belonged to my friend Liz' mom. She gifted me with them as they didn't have a spot in her home. They slipped happily into my house and make me smile.) In creating this space I had the joy of the hunt, the fun of repainting/refurbishing and then the joy of putting it all together. Next I get to gift my sister with "her" new space. I hope she loves it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time Gobbler...

Thanksgiving preparation has been gobbling up my blogging time! I tend to save big projects around the house for this time of year. I just redecorated our guest room, moving my office to a different space. I started and finished some painting projects, and have mulched in all my gardens for winter. In between that I have been cleaning/polishing/shining... washing china, rearranging things to make the cooking and serving of the feast easier.
My house is glowing with all the good things of this time of year... I am pleasantly tired and quite content. When I look around me I can't help but smile... especially when I lay eyes on this bobble head bird!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Art by Jack...

Jack Frost was at it again. My morning walk found shimmering ice crystals on every surface.
Pretty enough to make me go back inside and get my camera so I could share.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yesterday my older sister called me, and told me that at 4:00 AM she planned to be lying on a blanket in a nearby park to watch the Leonid meteor shower. As always, I was impressed by her gumption to do wonderful things.
At 4:00 AM my eyes flew open, unbidden. I thought of my sister, threw on some clothes and went outside. The dogs joined me, but after about 2 minutes on the frosted grass they were banging on the door and all trooped back to bed.
I stood in the yard, head back, pinwheeling slowly. The air was cold enough to make my eyes water, the night perfectly clear. There we were, my sister and me. In different states, we were under the same dome of sky and stars.
For me, the only sound was the rushing of water from the little creek that boarders the meadow. I didn't see any meteors. I thought to myself, "Oh, I missed it." But I took in the silhouette of the huge maple, the stars behind her looking like a flock of fireflies landed on her branches. I listened to the silence and the water. I felt the frost under my feet, smelled the evergreen scented air of Maine. And all around me, from the treeline to the unfathomable heavens above, were stars. Glimpsing at the house I could see the dim light from a forgotten lamp peeking through lace curtains. A warm haven plunked in the middle of a light show.
Once inside I climbed back into bed. My husband, sleeping soundly, gathered me to him, chasing the chill air off my skin. I didn't miss a thing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Worth the wait...

Years and years ago I was looking for a "new" bedside table. I went where I always go when I need new furniture- out junking! I checked out all my favorite second hand shops, hit a few yard sales, and even poked into an antique store or two. I found a table just like this one, in a shade of Pepto pink, which was covering layer upon layer of old paint. I loved the shape and size, but the price tag of $60 was way out of my range. After finding that first little oval table, I found many more just like it on other junking situations. They were always covered in multiple layers of paint, and they always carried price tags of $60-75. I kept looking, I loved this table, and wanted one for my own. I just didn't want to pay that much money for something that needed hours of work.

A year or so ago we were helping a friend move. In her garage was that same oval table, covered with the prerequisite layers of paint. I said, "Oh! I love that table! I've been looking for it for years." She promptly gave it to me. I put it in my garage, and kept thinking how nice it would be when I had time to strip off the old paint, sand it smooth and give it a fresh coat of white. Two weeks ago I bought stripper and the necessary tools, and went to town. Donning very attractive yellow rubber gloves, I painted the stripper on. To my surprise I was immediately transported to the garage in the back driveway where I grew up, in the summer of 1984. My mother and I were busy that summer. I was newly married, waiting for my husband to finish up his career in the navy. Mom and I searched yard sales and junk stores, and came home with tables, chairs, even a sweet little hand made jewelry box. All of them in poor shape. All of them bought on the ultra cheap.

Mom taught me how to apply stripper, how to be patient while it worked, bubbling up rainbows of old paint. Then we'd scrape the gooey stripper and paint mix into an old coffee can. After that we scrubbed the entire piece with steel wool, then we sanded and sanded some more. After that I'd paint or stain the piece. They all turned out beautifully. I furnished our first little apartment on a shoestring, with some totally wonderful pieces of furniture. And I learned important skills while I was at it. Both of these were wonderful accomplishments, but best of all were the uninterrupted hours I spent with my mom. We laughed and talked like we never had before. It was a magical time.

After stripping the table seen above, I sanded it and dressed it up in white. When the paint was good and dry I waxed it to give it a nice finish. Then, with great happiness, I carried it to my room, and tucked it next to my bed. Just where I have been imagining it for the past 12 or so years. It was worth the stripping, sanding, painting and waxing. And it was so worth the wait. The memories it brought were an added bonus.

Happy dog, thoughtful friend...

My friend Marion knows how to delight me. When she and her husband come over to join us for supper, they never fail to bring a contribution to the meal. Sometimes it is a salad, or dessert, or a bottle of wine. Other times they bring things that some folks might find odd, but OH! I appreciate them!
At Thanksgiving two years ago they brought a trailer load of cord wood. A few weeks ago they came with a huge bucket of horse and cow manure for my garden. What could be better than that? And this past Saturday they had a bag bulging full of fresh venison bones for us. My dogs and I found this to be a delightful contribution. Dazzle demonstrates her approval above.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November sky...

In Maine the November sky is often a study in gray. But sometimes God throws in a little variety to see if we are paying attention. My daughter and I were, and we paused from cooking our Alfredo sauce to go outside and capture this shot.

Playing with food...

A couple of years ago while shopping at discount store TJMaxx with my friend, we both fell for this whimsical chicken shaped tureen. Now both of us have this sassy bird decorating our kitchens. I have meant, this entire time, to fill the thing with chicken soup and serve it up, but I never have. Until last night. When we had dinner guests I served a comforting batch of chicken in dumplings in a chicken. And it made me smile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Equal eternity, remembering Veterans...

This Veterans Cemetery in Memphis, TN. was the first of its kind that I remember seeing.
What struck me was the breathtaking uniformity of the stones. Unlike the cemetery's of my youth, where the rich lay beneath hand carved splendor, and the poor were marked in death with the most simple of slabs, here there are acres of equality. From decorated generals to cannon fodder privates, they all spend eternity shoulder to shoulder in sameness. Men and women who were made of sterner stuff than me, who thought more of their country than of themselves.

My husbands father was buried here. I know some of his life story. I would love to know the stories of all the souls marked here under sun-bleached granite, but I have to content myself with remembering in gratitude. Today and tomorrow and forever. Thank you Veterans.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Basking in the moment...

This is Tilly. She belongs to my friends. This weekend she joined me going to Rhode Island for the New England Pet Grooming Professionals trade show and seminar. She enjoyed being the center of attention when she was a "demo dog" at the German Red Clipper booth. She did not enjoy the fact that she had to spend time in a crate when in the hotel room alone, (it was the rule!) She pouted mightily when crated... but the moment I returned and released her she would shrug off her displeasure and immediately bask in the glory of the moment. She would launch herself onto the king sized bed, roll and tumble, then find the comfiest spot and just be happy.
I need to work on this, as do most of the humans I know. I need to learn to shrug off things that make me unhappy and move on to the moments that are filled with sunshine and comfort. Just like Tilly does.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Frosted Chrysanthemums...

I got out of bed before dawn, and my first glimpse out a dusky window startled me. The world looked totally different. In an instant I recognized the reason... snow!

An inch of heavy, wet white frosted the ridge, the lawn, the meadow. Even the glowing yellow chrysanthemums wore a shawl of snow. And so it begins...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Soup weather....

Today was the kind that dawns gray and cold and wet and keeps that attitude up all day long.

So I did what I must do, and came right home and made a pot of soup. I love to make soup, because it is such a delicious way to clean out the refrigerator. This batch has beef, onions, garlic, celery, corn, peas, carrots tomatoes and orzo, all swimming around in a flavorful broth. The fridge is much tidier, just in time for grocery day. I baked some corn bread, too, and I can hardly wait for supper time. Soup is the perfect chaser to dreary days.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lipizzaner Stallions...

I have a warm memory of going with my parents to see the Lipizzaner stallions perform when I was about 8 years old. It is one of the few outings I ever remember having with them, and I think they took me just because it would be right up my ally. The experience made my heart soar.

This week I was invited to go see the famous horses while they were here in Maine. I was gifted a ticket to a front row seat... and could see every nuance of the fabulous equines as they danced and leapt and flowed around the arena.

Two 20-something year old guys ushered a handful of adult mentally and physically handicapped men into the row of seats behind me. While it was obvious that the young guys were employed to squire their charges about, the level of sweetness and caring they exhibited made my heart soar in a way even more meaningful than watching the horses did.

There was so much beauty that night.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Welcome November...

Today I welcome November by polishing. I have polished the antique copper candlestick's that belonged to my mom, and her beautiful copper bowl. I filled the bowl with dried hydrangea blossoms from the breathtaking bush at work.

Today is sunny and clear, and the light streaming in through the windows twinkles off the mellow metal. Still left to polish are the tall brass beehive candlesticks and a squatty little lamp. All of this is early preparation for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. As I polish the lovely things that decorated my childhood home and now decorate mine, I am helped to remember how very much I have to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Too much...

We didn't have many trick or treater's last night. I gave generous handfuls of candy to the few we had. As it was growing late I had begun to think that no more would come. To my delight a little boy about 8 years old came up the steps, dressed in a very nice native American costume, complete with hand made head dress and construction paper feathers. He never said a word.
I said, "I have a little problem. I have a LOT of candy left. May I give you a LOT of candy?" He just stared at me. I put a huge double handful of treats in his bag, he began to turn away. I said, "Wait, let me give you more." Dubious, he held his bag up again, and I added another double fistful, then a third. I was reaching for number four when he uttered his first words of the evening. "That. Is too MUCH."

I was amused to see that this little guy had a pretty good concept of "too much." I wish more adults had that kind of sense.