Friday, December 31, 2021

Content Evening


Wishing you, tonight, a content and safe New Year's Eve.  I'm wearing my new Christmas pajama pants, new Christmas socks, and am enjoying this evening.

It wasn't the Christmas we planned.  My precious granddaughter came down with Covid the a few days  before Christmas, and she was sick  Not hospital sick, but sick with fever, headache, and muscle aches, no taste or smell.  Sore throat.

And so, Christmas Eve was transferring gifts and food in the driveway, wearing masks.  Waving to Nora above in her bedroom.  Lots of pictures flying back and forth between the two families.  Last year's Christmas was food and gifts in the back yard - I'm glad I didn't know then what this Christmas would be a similar year.

And so, on this day, I'm so grateful that Nora is feeling better and that no one else in her family has been sick, despite a day's car drive with her.  That my North Carolina family is safely back home. 

Oh, and that the mysterious loud scary sound in the middle of last night turned out to be air in the lines in the furnace.  There was a water main break down the street and the water was shut off.  And that this morning the furnace settled down to running normally just as I was about the call the repair person

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Just Look


Look at the second horizontal bar from the top of the phone booth.  Now look at how it's level with the top of Nora's cheekbones.  And now, look at how it's level with the top of Aaron's cheekbones.  

Probably the last time you'll see that.  Nora is about to be overtaken in height and become the shortest person in her family at 5'9".

It's the 20th of December, you all.  How amazing, how wonderful, how a little scary.  Two days until the winter solstice.  Just two.  And then will begin the miracle of the daylight.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

This Far


I am this far, and happy about it.  Lights on the tree.

One of my undone goals for the year was to make a tree skirt, and that didn't happen.  It's not like I don't have some fabric to drape around.  But still, I usually do pretty well with those goals made in the first weeks of January.  And I have a nice machine embroidery collection just waiting.

A goal for today - get twenty ornaments on the tree.  I know, Christmas will be here in one week.  When you see my tree still decorated in January, know that I'm still enjoying it on the back side instead of the front side this year.

I went out early this morning - there are very few shoppers during the early times.  In and out of two stores, a little success.  The early shoppers tend to wear masks.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Writing for Living

My thoughts this morning turn toward end of life.  I am remembering one of Aaron's coaches, and father of his friend, who just passed away far too young at age 42.  Toward my own parents who died, in different years, in the week before Christmas.

And these past couple of days our attention has turned toward bell hooks' passing and her wisdom and writing.  Many of us have our favorite bell hooks writings that we carry with us, but there are many more to discover.

And so, today or in the days to come, pick up one of her books or google her name and find something for reflection.

My favorite bell hooks quote today is one you may have seen before:  "Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving.  When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape."

I was lucky enough to work at a college where bell hooks taught in her later years, and her affect on students' thinking and growing was tremendous.  Many people there are remembering and missing her.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Book Cover


My  neighbor wanted an adjustable book cover for her grandmother's Christmas gift - the grandmother loves cardinals.  This is what I came up with.  The back flap can tuck into a piece of elastic to fit thicker books, and there is a little extra height to accommodate taller books. I hope both grandmother and granddaughter like it.  Embroidery design from Embroidery Library. 

Last night was Nora's Christmas band concert.  I sat in the back row of the big auditorium, wearing my mask.  Watching people file out afterwards, it looked like other mask wearers sat in the back.  There were empty seats on either side of me.  

The concert was amazing as always, there are three bands in Nora's large high school.  Even though I felt a little strange being with so many people, I was happy to see so much support for the student musicians. 

Good news for me - I had my second shingles vaccine on Monday without significant side effects.  I had heard reports of side effects from the second shot and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was ok.  If you're in the age group, think about getting the shot.  I remember my dad suffering with shingles and it isn't something to take lightly.  After a slow roll-out, the vaccine seems widely available now. 

And I've learned, with all the vaccinations lately, to get the shot in the dominant arm.  I always thought it would be better in the non-dominant arm, but the added arm movement seems to reduce any soreness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

When We Did and Could


Christmas in Cincinnati.  Eight years ago.  Looks like Fountain Square.

When the grands were still young and we went lots of places.  Pre-Covid when we COULD go lots of places.

The grands have one more in-person day before Christmas break.  They were meant to go all week, but there are not enough subs and the last two days have turned into virtual days.  They can sleep in a little before starting their classes.  Teenagers can never have enough sleep.

Yesterday there was a shooting at a near-by Kentucky Kroger store.  A bomb threat in my favorite near-by Ohio outdoor shopping mall.  No one hurt in either place, but still . . .

Monday, December 13, 2021

Cutout Cookies


Cut-out cookies for my church's Community Meal.

My mother was the master of baking cut-out cookies, and she made so many of them.  A batch or two every day leading to Christmas, and she would store them in a cool bedroom upstairs in a blue canner.  She had all the colors of sugars, plus little silver beads and probably a few other little decorations.  And lots of cookie cutters.

My brothers and sister and I got to sample the ones that over-browned, but not the nice ones, until Christmas Eve.

My sister was also good at making the cookies, although she doesn't any more.  But me, I never made nice ones, even though I have my mother's recipe.  Every few years I'd try and every few years they didn't work out.

But this year, I finally realized that I had been substituting margarine for the butter in my mother's recipe and it might be worth trying again.  And here we are, nice little cookies.  And so there are a couple of sticks of butter softening on my counter for more cookie baking.

Over the years I've given awaymost of my cookie cutters, but I still have a few nice copper ones, and a few is all I need.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Happy Seventeenth


Happy seventeenth birthday to Nora, my beloved granddaughter.  Her bassoon is decorated for Christmas.

I said "her" bassoon, but it isn't really, it belongs to the school band program.  Bassoons are very expensive and the students don't usually own them.  Perhaps I need to begin keeping an eye out for a nice used one, with an eye out to her graduation and loss of this instrument.  That is still eighteen months away.

A few years ago I got her a used "step up" trombone, which was a good purchase.  At the Christmas concert this week, she will play bassoon with the Symphonic I band and trombone with the Symphonic II band.  Her school is large and they actually have a third basic band class.

I have hopes that Aaron will take at least that basic band class.  He is more into athletics but he enjoys percussion in his middle school band.  Band class isn't every day and he looks forward to the band days.  

But, Nora's birthday - something I look forward to every year.  Remembering that winter morning seventeen years ago.

Friday, December 10, 2021



There is much sadness at Sarah's and Winnie's house this week as the third little brown dog, P-Nut, passed away.

You may remember that it is so recently that I wrote the news of their dog Milo's passing, and a few months ago, Lucy's.

And now, P-Nut, unexpectedly.  They knew she was a senior dog and her health had been declining, but they had no inkling that Tuesday would be her last day.

Because of her frail back, she wasn't allowed to jump off chairs or beds or porches, anything.  I like to think that now, somewhere, her spirit is jumping off things all day long.  She was one loved little rescued dog in her last years.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Christmas Cactus


The past few years I've neglected my Christmas cactus, but it still bloomed faithfully.  This summer I finally repotted it in Miracle Grow potting soil and then fertilized it every month with Miracle Grow.  Full strength.  Not recommended, but I did it anyway and was rewarded with tremendous growth.

I wasn't sure I would get any buds this year since all the growth went into the plant, but there are a few.  And they are stellar.  Huge.  Once blooming season is finished I'll start fertilizing with half strength Miracle Grow.  No repotting.  And we'll see what happens next year.

And I think I'll get another Christmas cactus this season since it's my favorite.

It's been a busy week.  I'm shortening a sequin jacket and a puffer coat.  If you want it done I can tell you how to do it but I won't do it for you.

But I'm grateful for you tube to help me along.  I would have gone about it completely wrong.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Second Sunday Differences


The second Sunday of Advent.  Peacefulness.  

And a different look of this Sunday:

My Congressman is drawing criticism for tweeting a picture of him and of his family in front of the Christmas tree, each of them holding a gun.  And to make it worse,  at the top it says "Merry Christmas!, ps. Santa, please bring ammo.

I'm not making this up.  What was he thinking?  I'm hanging my head in Kentucky once again.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Plastic Bag Dispenser


Sometimes I miss the big chain fabric store that lived just half a mile down the road.

This was one of those times.  I had a request to make one of those fabric bags for loading plastic grocery bags in the top and taking them one by one as needed from the bottom.  Perfect for this fabric, that I bought at that store down the street.  How do I know?  Because it says so on the selvage.  After this project, I have a yard left.

Lots of things from my stash came from that store.  They had wonderful sales.  And like I've said before, I know what I like and will use.  Sooner or later.

If you want to make one of those bags, google "easy to sew plastic bag dispenser" and chose a tutorial.  The bags are really, really, easy to sew.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Gift of a Warm December Day

Yesterday was one of those gift late fall days - temperature reached 60 degrees.  I had a chance to do some of those tasks that were still waiting.

Finally, I hosed off the floor mats from my car, then put the hose away for winter.  Gathered the little geranium containers whose contents now looked so sad.  Emptied the smaller pots.

Went to the car wash to vacuum.  I don't know why I didn't wash the outside while I was there, but I was on an interior mission.  When I bought my house I didn't think about how street parking, on the other side of the street, meant that there would be no at-home washing or vacuuming.  A tiny inconvenience when so many people sleep on the sidewalk.

Today looks like another nice warm day.  If there are to be outside Christmas lights, this may be the day.  And if I want to expand the back yard garden a little, this may be the day to lay down some cardboard and put top soil on top.  It's called lasagna gardening and I'm a fan.  By summer the ground will be ready for planting.  I'm thinking some small sunflowers and a summer squash rotation.

There are a few hand gardening tools on the back porch to put away, more smaller pots to empty.  Leaves to sweep - again.

I hope everyone has a good day.  Do what you love.  

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Another Favorite


Another Winter Lights favorite.

How long does it take to make ten little drawstring bags for a church Christmas party?  Longer than I thought it might.

And now that they're finished, I can think of a way to improve the pattern.  Maybe next time.  I am happy with the serged edges, those little bags are sturdy.

One of my favorite memories surfaced today.  Ten years ago - ten years! - I was dropping off the grands at their schools.  We dropped first-grade Nora off first.  Four-year-old Aaron watched her go up the sidewalk and into the door, and he said, "She looks so little."  And then he declared, "Read and write, read and write, that's all they do at that school.  I won't be going to that school."

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Quilt Garden

Most days my design wall adds some happy color to my life.  Those are baby quilt blocks on top and the others are blocks from My Favorite Color is Moda.

But it just can't compete with the North Carolina Arboretum quilt garden.  It's one of my favorite features of Winter Lights this year.  (And yes, my hair is blowing in the breeze.)  Colors change too.

There are now twice as many lights at the Winter Lights displays than there were the first yearLast year was drive-through, this year was back to walking and admiring close up.

Yesterday was a task-y day, but finally at the end of it I swept the driveway and porch of leaves before the anticipated rain tomorrow.  Maybe it's the last time for this year.