Friday, November 30, 2007
The other day I mentioned that I was going to decorate my office as much as I could, since the main office is off limits for the "real reason for the season." I don't have much room, but I used the top of my file cabinet to display as much as possible. The ornaments on the tree are little Nativity figures - I wish I had bought two sets when I found them last year.
Nasser, our young, handsome Muslim originally from Lebanon came in this morning and was a bit overwhelmed. He knows where I stand now, for sure.
The history of this Santa will forever remain a mystery. All I know is that I've had it as long as I can remember. It's not in very good shape any more, but I can't bear to throw it away. I called my mom to learn where it came from and when, but she doesn't remember. I'm guessing it was one of my very first ornaments ever.
Today the doorbell rang, the kiddoes ran to the door, and it was the US Postal Service guy delivering this:
The kids got so excited as we opened the package. I ordered it about a week ago from an ad in the Sunday news magazine. (I'm supposed to get an Elvis Christmas CD as a bonus, but it hasn't arrived yet. I hope they don't forget). The angel is a knock-off Willow Tree, and I can't remember where I got it either. But I thought it fit in okay. The other day when she saw the angel, Care Bear was convinced that we needed to paint eyes, nose, and mouth on her face. They are also concerned that there is no stable. But I am looking forward to adding these things as the years go by.
I won't be able to participate in Morning Glory's "Christmas Tree Treasures" this year, so I did my own a bit early.
Monday, November 26, 2007
We are assigned by our district a certain number of gifts to buy, based on the size of our church. We are told which church, and how many men, women, teens, toddlers, infants, etc. to buy for.
Every year, as chair of our mission program, I try to find a new way to advertise and raise interest. This was what I did this year:
Everyone who wanted to participate took one of the little gift boxes with a sticker telling them who to buy for. There was a list of gift ideas, but many buy something they would like to receive, with a limit of $10-$12. We had 35 to buy for this year.
As couple of weeks ago, after church on Sunday night, we had "Christmas in November." We brought Christmas goodies, I had decorated the gym, we had music and hot spiced cider, and brought our gifts. It gives everyone a head start on "getting into the mood" for Christmas, and we get our project completed before the Christmas shopping rush.
We also gather used clothing, and this year people really went all out cleaning out their closets and drawers. We also have a trucker in our church who was given hundreds of brand new, never worn men's sweaters. They were going to be thrown away, and he rescued them and gave them to the guys on the reservation. Thirteen Boxes!
The pastor's on sabbatical leave, so we took over his space for storage until the next step in the process:
The teacher of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in our church (including my grandson) is taking them on this trip. They've been holding fund raisers and are getting very excited. They will be in on unloading and distributing the gifts, and will be involved with meeting the recipients. They will never be the same.
One year, while I was still on the district missions council, the folks down there wanted to show just a bit of their appreciation and love and sent back hand-made gifts for each of us on the council. That was such a blessing to us - a tangible show of reciprocation with what they could do. It isn't all one-sided!
I just read an e-mail, asking for help from World Vision for help feeding children in drought-ridden areas of Africa. I trust World Vision. We can feed 12 children for a gift of $25.00. You can do it on line with a credit card. And the bonus - you receive a Josh Groban Christmas album. It's a win/win situation all the way around. I apologize for the long link, but here it is: http://www.worldvision.org/worldvision/eappeal.nsf/egift_feedhungrychildren_noel?OpenForm&campaign=124608137&cmp=EMC-124608137&ppi=50410456.
(Thanks, Kristen, for my festive new look!)
Friday, November 23, 2007
I was going to show pictures of the gathering at my house for Thanksgiving dinner, but, alas, I was too busy being the hostess to remember to take pictures. Take my word for it - the food was great, and the fellowship was delightful.
Today I decided I needed to get some decorating done because, as I've told you, we're leaving two weeks from today for our anniversary trip, and I need to do some entertaining next week-end before we leave. I managed to get both trees put together, one completely decorated, and the other about 3/4 done.
There's a big mess that I'm not showing, but I hope to get it cleaned up tomorrow. In the midst of the decorating marathon, we headed for Estes Park for their annual Christmas parade. We haven't done this since the kids were little - at least 25 years or more. We decided to go this year while my brother and his family were here - they went for a mild hike with DC then headed back to get me and head for the hills. It was COLD - much colder at that altitude than down here, where it was cold enough. I took pictures, but none of them turned out very well. The moon was full, the drive up and back was beautiful, the streets up there were lined with white-lighted trees, the parade was okay. I guess I'm not such a fan of parades after all. But we had fun being together, and the trip back down felt very good in the warm, cozy car. Last time we went, so many years ago, there were just a few of us at the event. Obviously, it has been well marketed - there were thousands lining the streets. But it was not the caliber of Pea's parade up there in Ontario!
My brother's family has now headed back to Oklahoma, driving all night after a very full two days here. They always cram in as much fun as they possibly can when they come to visit.
Did you ever break something you really liked?? I had one special bowl that I always used for my 7-layer salad, especially for holidays. I got it from my dear MIL for Christmas years ago. The other day, after our International dinner at church, which I wrote about last week, where I took Glorified Rice in this lovely bowl, I had it in the sink when a freak occurrence caused my crock pot to fall into the sink and destroy my favorite serving piece.
Isn't that just the saddest sight?? I'm sure some of my blogging friends out there could find something to replace it at a thrift shop. I need to check some out.
Did you ever have a dream where you were in the middle of a huge problem and you didn't know how you were going to solve it? Suddenly, you realize you need to get up and go down the hall, and when you do you realize it was a dream, and it's such a relief! Wouldn't it be great if we could solve our real problems so easily?
Recently one of my nieces indicated that she thought Care Bear's kindergarten picture looked a lot like her Grandma Dawn. I looked up my school picture at about the same age. See what you think:
The other day Kristen asked me to take a picture of her in her present state of pregnant-ness. Here she is at 26 weeks - with about 3 months left to go. I don't know how she's going to stand up straight in a few more weeks. She did a post showing herself at the end of the other two pregnancies, as compared to this one. Check it out, if you have time and are interested.
Have a blessed week-end!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
- That the PC police haven't grabbed onto Thanksgiving yet and ruined it. If it were more commercialized and didn't get lost in the mess of Halloween and Christmas advertising, they probably would have. We can still say "Happy Thanksgiving" without worrying that someone is going to accuse us of "offending their sensibilities." I'm surprised they haven't, though, because it is a holiday based on gratitude to God for what He has given us and brought us through. Calling it "turkey day" debases it, and I guess that's their way of trying to hide the real meaning. But I'm grateful we can still thank God openly in this country, though it is not popular.
- That I have a sense of smell. My dad has lost his and the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving are no longer available to him. (I have to say he's thankful for that loss when sauerkraut is around!) It's not something we think about often!
- That I can see the beauty around me. I don't like wearing glasses, but I am thankful that they are available. Interestingly, getting my camera for Christmas last year, combined with blogging, have opened my eyes so much to the world around me. I have always enjoyed the beauty, but I am really experiencing it every day now more than ever before.
- That I get to retire soon!
- That my kids and my grandkids live close by and I get to see the kiddoes change before my eyes. And that God has brought them through lots of "stuff."
- That I have a wonderful, loving church family who prays for each other and supports each other. I don't know what people do who don't have prayer partners when the going gets tough.
- That my parents live 7/10 of a mile from me. They retired from the ministry and came back to one of the places they pastored, where both my sister and I live. They still are active in the church and, though they've slowed down, are still healthy for the most part.
- That my sister lives across town, less than 4 miles away. We are very close in age, and have been best friends. We're both retiring this year, so hopefully we'll get to spend some more time together than we have these past busy years of working.
- That God gave me the husband he did. I waited a long time for him, and God knew just who would best put up with me. DC is a blessing to me and we'll celebrate 35 years together next month.
- That God spared the lives of the twins who are safely growing, waiting to be born and change our lives dramatically! That so many of you prayed for them and for Kristen to bring this to pass.
- That I have personally met 3 blogging friends in the last year - what a blessing! That I have so many wonderful friends out there to share with, laugh with, cry with, care about.
- For this, because we really need the moisture and because it's so beautiful and sparkly (but praying that it doesn't affect the travel of those loved ones on their way here from North Dakota and Oklahoma, and my son and DIL on their way to Idaho):
That only scratches the surface of the things in my life to thank God for. But it's a good start. Now I'd better get busy on getting ready for the influx of wonderful people tomorrow!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
A Thanksgiving Psalm
On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.
We'll have 19 here for Thanksgiving dinner. I'll do the turkey, gravy, and my "famous" crescent rolls. Everybody else brings everything else. It'll be fun.
I want to thank Mary of Mary's Writing Nook, for this lovely award.
We have definitely become a community, and I love and appreciate each and every friend I've made in this unique way. We have been through a lot together!
We are leaving on December 6 for Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, to celebrate our 35th anniversary. There is much to do before then. I plan to try to put up one of my two trees Thanksgiving night after everyone leaves (unless I can snag some help from some of my company). I need to have all of my decorating done by the end of the week-end, since I need to do some entertaining before we leave. I also need to have my shopping done. Yikes! I know it's probably not okay, but I think everyone's getting gift cards this year. I know Barb, Becky, and Robin are cringing. But --- you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I hope to do Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes from my laptop over there. Believe it or not, we will arrive back home on Sunday morning, the 16th, in time to attend Care Bear's first Christmas program (in which she actually plans to sing, overcoming her stage fright - praying for that!), and also sing in our cantata that night (DC has a solo and a duet with his sister). I should have some great shots to share either during or after, depending upon how much time I spend sitting on the beach while DC snorkels.
Many of you have probably been sent the following video. I love it and hope you do, too. And that it circles the globe with its message!
Friday, November 16, 2007
When we moved into this office suite, I was privileged to have my own little space - tiny, but mine. I ordered this nice oak bookshelf. But I never used it for books - it is full of memorabilia. Our faculty members do a lot of international traveling. They always bring something back for us. This set of shelves is full of gifts from them, from missionaries, and international students. I wish I had marked each one where they were from and who gave them to me. I guess I foolishly thought I would never forget.
Note the old-fashioned bright blue typewriter (just barely showing)? It's an IBM Selectric, which I still find occasion to use once in awhile. There are a few things that computers still cannot do as well. Our young work study students can't imagine that to be true.
The file cabinets do much more than hold files.
I truly don't know what I'm going to do with all of these pictures and doo-dads when I move it all out next summer. I keep updates of the grandkids' pictures there to show off. I like to have seasonal decorations, and can hardly wait to bring Christmas next Friday. Unfortunately, PC has taken the place of Christmas in our main office, so we dare not "offend" anyone. Therefore, we can put up scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns, but spare the students from a Christmas tree! But they can't keep me from doing what I want in my own space, so I will be displaying the real reason for the season.
In the meantime, besides the pictures of the grands, the pictures of flowers from my summer yard, and the Thanksgiving/fall decorations (which I just noticed don't even show!), you will see the adorable e-bear that Diane gave me this summer when we MIRLed in Minnesota.
It's crowded, and has no windows, but it is my little corner of the world and it's my home away from home.
For more Friday Show and Tell stories, stop by Kelli's blog, There Is No Place Like Home.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Now Dawn and her older brother Jimmy have a chance for a decent, respectable life, and Dawn's secret, precious hope to study singing can come true. Philip Cutler, the handsomest boy in school, sets Dawn's heart on fire. She is deeply devoted to her brooding brother; but with Philip, she imagines a lovely dream of romance...
Dawn has always thought there was a secret passage hidden in her house. But she never thought there was a ghost...until now. All kinds of creepy things go whenever Dawn's at home. There are even spooky noises behind her bedroom wall! Dawn is sure there's a ghost in her house. And so are the other BSC Members. But they are so busy with their baby sitting jobs that they hardly have time for a ghost hunt. Will Dawn and her friends solve the spooky mystery or will Dawn have to share her house...with a ghost?
I don't think there's chance I would read either of these books, but it was fun to see what was out there.
That leads me to talk about my name a bit. Do you like your name? I didn't like mine when I was a kid. It was too different. I had so many friends named Mary and Linda and Sue and Carol. I wondered why I couldn't have a more common name. My parents named their first 4 kids very unusual names, at least for that time and place. My biggest issue was people thinking it was a boy's name. I would say, "Not if you say it right!" I still have this problem to this day.
One of my dearest friends, a co-worker for 10 years, would answer the phone. I'd hear her say, "Did you want to talk to the man or the woman?" What she meant was - there was a Don and a Dawn in our office. I would get on her case every time. But she honestly couldn't differentiate between the two names phonetically. I would tell her, "How do you say the word for the grass outside? It's lawn, not lon. How do you say what you do when you're tired and yawn, not yon. How about the word for when you need some money and you take something in and get a loan? It's pawn, not pon." She never did hear the difference.
I love the way people from New York say my name - kind of like Duwan. I love how southerners say my name - Dauun. It's hard to spell phonetically, but maybe you get the point.
I have made peace with my name. But I still want it pronounced correctly - Don said with "AWE."
I couldn't resist another totally different sunrise this morning.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The sun rises much further south, meaning that it isn't in my eyes as I head north. I pulled off the road and sat on a bit of a rise to watch it happen the other morning on the way to work. I sat there for about 15 minutes, watching the sunrise evolve. It was a great way to start the day.
As I was leaving my neighborhood the other day I saw this "burning bush" with just the right amount of sun shining - one of the last bits of beautiful color for this season:
I took one last shot of the wonderful layers of gray in the early evening:
I am experiencing a bit of "Retirementitis". Remember "Senioritis?" This is a related malady with many similarities. I see the end of the road in sight, but I see how much has to be done before the end. Things that haven't bothered me for all these years have begun to irritate me. The task of writing down what I do in great detail for the next person is totally daunting. I'm trying to remember to enjoy every day. I keep thinking of things as "the last time" I do this process. It feels very strange.
I'm reading a book by Maeve Binchy, which I heard about through the Woman to Woman book review last month. I have read many of her books, but hadn't read one for awhile. The book is Nights of Rain and Stars. I love to "read" it as I go to work and back, with CDs. I am so glad I decided to do this particular book this way. Not only does it save time and give me something enjoyable to do as I compute, but there is another advantage. The book features 5 characters from different countries - England, Ireland, Greece, America, and Italy. The reader has the marvelous gift of accents. Every conversation is in its own vernacular. I recommend this way of "reading" if you have a reason to be in your car for extended periods of time.
The other day I left it on when I picked up Care Bear from school. As we headed down the road, I expected her to ask me for one of her music CDs. Interestingly, she just sat quietly in her car seat. I thought maybe she was dozing. But suddenly she piped up, "That's a book on the radio!" She was listening to the story.
"For some of you, the journey has been long. Very long and stormy. In no way do I wish to minimize the difficulties that you have had to face along the way. Some of you have shouldered burdens that few of us could ever carry. You have bid farewell to life-long partners. You have been robbed of life-long dreams. You have been given bodies that can't sustain your spirit. You have spouses who can't tolerate your faith. You have bills that outnumber the paychecks and challenges that outweigh the strength.
"And you are tired.
"It's hard for you to see the City in the midst of the storms. The desire to pull over to the side of the road and get out entices you. You want to go on, but some days the road seems so long. . .
"Let me encourage you. . . God never said that the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would be worthwhile."
I needed that today. I hope it speaks to you, too.
Friday, November 09, 2007
I have mentioned many times the fact that I am an avid reader. A bookoholic, so to speak. I'll never forget when I found Beany Malone. I found a book at the library called Beany and the Beckoning Road. After I read it I discovered that it was a book in the middle of a series. The first book was called Meet the Malones. The author was Lenora Mattingly Weber.
Beany was the youngest child in the Malone family. The mother had died and the father was an "on-again-off-again-gone-again" journalist. Even though she was the youngest, Beany took over as the nurturing mother figure, and kept the home fires burning. But every episode had a crisis, and the solutions were full of good old-fashioned, moral common sense. I loved those books as a young teen.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties. I was married with a new baby, a new stay-at-home mom. During nap times, I read. I decided it would be a good time to re-read my favorite series. I checked them out from the library, having to get some of them from inter-library loan. They were so easy to read, and I felt like an old friend had returned to my life. What was even more fun was that more books had been written, following Beany through marriage and motherhood. There was also a new series about two sisters who actually babysat for Beany.
But the most amazing thing I discovered was that they took place in Denver, just a few miles down the road. When I read them originally, I lived in Minnesota and Nebraska. I thought what fun it would be to meet Lenora Mattingly Weber. I did some research and learned, sadly, that she had died just a year or so earlier. I learned that there was a collection of her papers at the Denver Public Library. I really wanted to go down there, but never made it.
Somehow my SIL, Morning Glory, learned of my obsession with Beany. We must have been discussing our favorite books at a Christmas get-together (do you remember, MG?) I mentioned that I found the Beany Malone Cookbook at our local library. It had been checked out maybe twice in the last 10 years. I asked if it would be possible for me to buy it, but of course they couldn't do that. So I just wished for it out loud.
The next Christmas, MG had my name in the family drawing. She was so excited for me to open my gift. I couldn't believe it - the picture above is proof that she had found it for me - in a used book store back East somewhere. I can't remember the details of how she accomplished this, but bear in mind that it was long before the Internet made tracking things down so easy. It's undoubtedly one of the most fun gifts I ever received. It is such a delightful cookbook, full of the things that Beany made for her family. (I just checked and discovered that this book was published the year I was married, 1972).
Fast forward again at least 15 years. I was reading the Denver Post when Beany Malone's name jumped out at me from a headline. I couldn't believe it! One of the columnists had received a call from Lenora's granddaughter asking for copies of the Beany Malone Cookbook. It seemed that they were out of print and some family members did not have one, and they were trying to find copies that people didn't really want so they could each have one. I called the columnist and got the granddaughter's phone number. We connected and I found out that she was the inspiration for Beany. She and her grandma were really close, in fact lived next door to each other. We visited for awhile and it was so much fun to talk to the "real" Beany!
It gets better - there was a woman in Denver who was planning a get-together for that summer for fans of Beany books. Oh, my word. I couldn't believe it! They actually had a Beany fan club going, with discussions about her books on line. This was at the very beginning of my computer use. I joined the group and took part in the discussions until I realized that I was not even close to obsessed compared to these women! They needed to get a life. They were mostly younger women who got all upset about the male/female interaction, especially in regard to Beany and her eventual husband. I commented one day that this was the 50's, girls, and it is just the way it was back then. They didn't appreciate my insight.
I did go to Denver for the Beany week-end. What fun! But again, I couldn't believe these people. I had re-read the entire series to be ready for the trivia game we were going to play. I thought I was ready to win. I could not believe the minutae that these other women knew!
The best part was the bus tour to the spots that were in the books - the high school, the church where Beany was married, the park, the university, places that were still there and had been Beany's and her friends' hang-outs. Then we had dinner at "Beany's" house, which she had bought from her grandmother before she died.
That was enough - I didn't need to belong to this group any more. I felt fulfilled. I think I might have to read the books again, though!
EDIT: I should have noted that, at the time all of this was happening in Denver, they were getting all of the books reprinted by ImageCascade. You can them 14-book series at http://www.imagecascade.com/. This does not include the second series I talked about where the girls babysat for Beany. I wonder if they will someday.
For more Friday Show and Tell stories, stop by Kelli's blog, There Is No Place Like Home.