28 December, 2005

Gorgeous sunset

On the way home from dropping the kids off at youth group, this was my view! Three to five minutes before I got home to grab the camera, it was larger and even more stunning, although less pink. I prefer the pink. It looked as if the field behind us was on fire, which is a very real possibility these days, as dry as it is around here.

26 December, 2005

First born's Birthday today

Seventeen years ago today...

I was resting comfortably after having our first baby with the help of an awesome midwife. That tiny, sweet little 6 lbs. 13 oz. baby boy has turned out to be 6 feet 2 inches tall (at last measurement). He also sleeps more than he used to! It is hard to believe that he will soon be making his own way in the world.


But, I think he'll do well!

p.s. He still loves guitars :-)

23 December, 2005


This is our newest ornament this year, made by one of my American Lit. students. Isn't it well-done?

This sweet locket was given to Hubby and me by his Aunt Gail, who just passed away two weeks ago, on Christmas 1984 and says "First Christmas Together"

The sled was made by someone in our Jr. High youth group in Oklahoma in early marriage. The Loon ornament beside it is a memento from spending time on Roosevelt Lake in Minnesota.

A memento of our Messiah sing-alongs in which we participate.

I bought this scroll-y cross last year. It is one of my favorite ornaments.

The Moose is from our trip to Minnesota in the summer of 2003 with our friends who have just recently moved back there.

22 December, 2005

Favorite Ornaments

Big favorites, above from our life in Boston: a light-up Fannieul Hall, and just behind it with a burgundy ribbon, a clear glass bulb filled with "Boston Snow," both given to me by a co-worker in the Chiropractic office where I worked b/c.

This manger scene was made by our 17 yo son when he was about five!

Home made felt heart made by our daughter when she was eleven.

The above are from different artsy friends of mine. I love them! They are just like our two cats, Mittens and Tigger!

This is a grouping of some of our favorites: carved bird from an antique store, glass candycane from our trip to Venice, poinsettia star is Andrewcles' favorite, below it is the scripture from Isaiah, and Handel's Messiah: And His name shall be called...Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God...

20 December, 2005

Christmas "Letters"

Forgive my shallow post. That's all I seem to have time for right now. How do you feel about Christmas letters? Do you write one every year? Do you enjoy getting the family updates from others? Some people just do not like them...they say they seem braggish. Some send straightforward, totally honest and even depressing updates.

I've sent out family update/Christmas letters once. Then another year, I typed one up and never sent it out with the Christmas cards or the New Year's cards. Maybe I'm just not a very good friend or daughter/sister. (lol)

Anyone have some good advice for me regarding the sharing of news and updates (both the good and the not-so-good reality moments; not too dark, and not too "braggy" of course)?

I think it's one of the things that brings me down about this time of year. It's that ole' Ghost of Christmas Expectations...and trying to stay balanced by not seeing only through rose-colored glasses.

Hey, for some this time of year is fun because of food, presents, and football playoffs, you know...the things that count. *says with a smirk*


18 December, 2005

Christmas Poem

In memory of John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born on Dec. 17th, I share this interesting poem!

By John Greenleaf Whittier

"ALL hail!" the bells of Christmas rang,
"All hail!" the monks at Christmas sang,
The merry monks who kept with cheer
The gladdest day of all their year.

But still apart, unmoved thereat,
A pious elder brother sat
Silent, in his accustomed place,
With God's sweet peace upon his face.

"Why sitt'st thou thus?" his brethren cried.
"It is the blessed Christmas-tide;
The Christmas lights are all aglow,
The sacred lilies bud and blow.

"Above our heads the joy-bells ring,
Without the happy children sing,
And all God's creatures hail the morn
On which the holy Christ was born!

"Rejoice with us; no more rebuke
Our gladness with thy quiet look."
The gray monk answered: "Keep, I pray,
Even as ye list, the Lord's birthday.

"Let heathen Yule fires flicker red
Where thronged refectory feasts are spread;
With mystery-play and masque and mime
And wait-songs speed the holy time!

"The blindest faith may haply save;
The Lord accepts the things we have;
And reverence, howsoe'er it strays,
May find at last the shining ways.

"They needs must grope who cannot see,
The blade before the ear must be;
As ye are feeling I have felt,
And where ye dwell I too have dwelt.

"But now, beyond the things of sense,
Beyond occasions and events,
I know, through God's exceeding grace,
Release from form and time and place.

"I listen, from no mortal tongue,
To hear the song the angels sung;
And wait within myself to know
The Christmas lilies bud and blow.

'The outward symbols disappear
From him whose inward sight is clear;
And small must be the choice of days
To him who fills them all with praise!

"Keep while you need it, brothers mine,
With honest zest your Christmas sign,
But judge not him who every morn
Feels in his heart the Lord Christ born!"

16 December, 2005

Beethoven's Birthday

Happy Birtdhay to Beethoven, my first (as a child) favorite composer.

Also remembering Jane Austen...today marks her birthday, as well.

Not much else to say, as we have music to be ready for tomorrow! I get to help conduct the children's choir...Fun!!

14 December, 2005

Song to Sing

Since we are on holiday (of sorts) from Friday classes until the second week of January, I have a tiny bit more time (but not much) to sing a special at church again. On Sunday, it will be this song...

Holy Lamb of God

vs. 1
A virgin cried when You were born, tears of joy and tears of pain
As Heaven’s angels watched in wonder

How could you, The Ancient One, in the frame of man be bound
Lying there with feet and hands, fully God and fully man

vs. 2
Who could see and who could know You had left Your Kingdom’s throne
Baby crying in a manger

You had come to give your life as a holy sacrifice
Nails would pierce Your feet and hands, for every heart and every man

Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You

We were blind and lost but you came to rescue us

And we thank you Holy lamb of God

vs. 3:
Now You are the Risen One, all You came to do You’ve done
On this Christmas we remember

How Love came down to set us free from our sin and from our fear
Lord of all, we bow our hearts to the wonder that you are


Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You

We were blind and lost, but You came to rescue us

And we thank You Holy Lamb of God

(repeat chorus)

13 December, 2005

Herman Melville

In my American Lit. class this week and next~

The students and I are reading: Herman Melville, and his last work: Billy Bud (an annotated version!). Here is another good link on Melville, with critical essays.

Currently watching: Moby Dick, with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. This work was not appreciated by his readers (predominantly in Britain) in his lifetime; not for the first thirty years after it was written, for it was such a departure from his first successful works, Typee and Omoo.

Pieces of Eight

Not the coinage...but that which was formerly known as the "seven sevens" game.

I've been tagged by my friend Queen Shenaynay, (whom I haven't gotten to spend time with for far too long) from the Beehive. She made the game a little more interesting by adding to the rules ;-).
Being a pretty good follower, here is my list, patterned after hers, which she began thusly:

"Eight comes after seven...
Well, honestly now -- did you really think I'd play by the rules?"

8 things I’d like to do before I die:

~See my brothers, sisters and their families, but especially my children, grandchildren and great+grandchildren walk with the Lord; to be the matriarch at the family reunions, with all the family singing and worshipping together, as my 99 yo Granny did before me
~float in a boat down the Amazon River
~drink coffee in Alaska and Hop over to Russia for a tour
~have more self-discipline to study, not just read, my Bible every day
~be a better communicator
~know where my foster sisters are...all seven of them.
~sing on a project that sells well on a national (or even international!) level or
~write a book that isn't just "more of the same" which hundreds upon hundreds of authors have written about before.
~extra: to spend money without having to give it a second thought as to whether I can spend it or not

8 things I can’t do (but would like to):

~scale a large rock or rock wall without any problems!
~own some gorgeous, scenic property in another country, preferably near rolling hills or mountains
~see just fine without glasses
~be totally consistent, but that's too predictable, and a bit boring
~stay focused while preparing lessons quickly, even now I'm supposed to be preparing for my American Lit. class instead of playing this game!
~keep to one point. I'm too global and random
~juggle (literally and someitmes mentally)
~let myself off the hook sometimes

8 things that attracted me to my husband:

~He played a jumbo Guild guitar (still does, but prefers a smaller Martin, now) a la William Ackerman or Alex Degrassi. He plays beautiful songs without words, many that he composed himself.
~His commitment to live like Jesus Christ. He is a peacemaker in most every way. He wanted to work with kids in some sort of ministry even before I met him. He started out as a youth minister and became a fulltime High School English teacher after we married.
~He loved traveling and camping; talked of visiting Europe again (we'd both already done that, but once is not enough!), so we had that...and a couple of German friends, in common.
~His incredible wit and his laugh!
~He's very good at writing "silly songs" on the fly. He's not bad at poetry, either :-)
~He is extremely gracious with me, and treats me well. He takes me to the symphony, encourages me to pursue my interests, and to travel still, (without him sometimes). He makes musical instruments for me, the family, and even for friends now...AH, what more could a gal ask for?
~He likes listening to the radio show "A Prarie Home Companion" with me (in the 80's, and now).
~He is a dreamer, but also a realist

8 things I say most often:

~BOYS!! or Jordanandrew (said as one word, [grin]
~what? (as in: Are you talking to me? It's that juggling or switching gears thing)
~WHAT!!? (as in: What *now*?)
~I'm getting in the car, now...(we should have left five minutes ago)
~Listen! (said quietly, usually for birds singing or a gorgeous piece of music on classical radio)
~wash hands!
~(I'm) washing reds!!
~Get off my computer...*Please* just give me the courtesy of asking me first...

8 books I really like -

I was late coming into the enjoyment of reading. My first introduction to one of my favorite authors, Francis Schaeffer, was through his daughter's book:
~How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig (and other ways you've been brainwashed) by Susan Schaeffer Macauley
~several other books by Francis or Edith Schaeffer.
~Mere Christianity and others by C. S. Lewis
Pride and Prejudice and others by Jane Austen
~Tokien's Lord of the Rings trilogy
~Little Women, Jo's Boys, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
~The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
~Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

(more than) 8 movies I could (and do) watch over and over:

~The Princess Bride
~Secondhand Lions
~Sense & Sensibility
~Pride & Prejudice (almost any version)
~Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
~Much Ado About Nothing
(I should say, just about anything that Emma Thompson or Kenneth Branaugh have been in)
~Enchanted April (We are also fans, Queen Shenaynay)
~Howard's End
~Les Miserables
~Tea With Mussolini

Adding to this list:

Movies that are fantastic, but hard to watch more than once:

~The Patriot
~The Mission
~Schindler's list
~La Vita e Bella

I tag: the oldest son and anyone else who wants to play

12 December, 2005


"If we are really, and always, and equally ready to do whatsoever the King appoints, all the trials and vexations arising from any change in His appointments, great or small, simply do not exist. If He appoints me to work there, shall I lament that I am not to work here? If He appoints me to wait in-doors to-day, am I to be annoyed because I am not to workout-of-doors? If I meant to write His messages this morning, shall Igrumble because He sends interrupting visitors, rich or poor, to whom I am to speak them, or 'show kindness' for His sake, or at least obey His command, 'Be courteous?' If all my members are really at His disposal, why should I be put out if to-day's appointment is some simple work for my hands or errands for my feet, instead of some seemingly more important doing of head or tongue?"


10 December, 2005

Aunt Gail

Today, the Booksncoffeehaus honors the life of Hubby's Aunt Gail. She passed away this Thursday after a brave battle with ovarian cancer.

Her service on Saturday was an interesting contrast between speakers, but the most tender, heart-felt, and intelligent eulogies were given by Uncle Alvin and Hubby's cousin, Derek, an Anglican minister.

With closure, we all watched as her casket was lowered into the ground, and we all got to cast dust into the grave...very moving...

We were then able to go across the lane and visit Hubby's grandmother's grave and put flowers on it with the kids and Hubby's sister. These are important things to do with the younger generation...


08 December, 2005

Christmas Music and Festive Decorating

I have to (get to!) listen to music every day, and Christmas time is no exception. The selections are different, though. They're definitely more "Old World" traditional, and often more obscure than what most people listen to at this time of year. I savor the sounds: the somber, reflective, and sometimes melancholy music of the Christmas season, and our local classical radio station plays many of these beautiful choral pieces and the more obscure works at this time of year. They played one the other day that was music set to a Christina Rossetti poem about Winter...I wrote it down, now I can't find it. It had nice harmonies and resolutions-- Ah! Wonderful! Oh, here it is: In The Bleak Midwinter.

There are so many good CD's available for Christmas listening pleasure, that it truly is difficult to narrow down the favorites. I grew up listening to three, and only three Christmas albums: Julie Andrews, Andy Williams, and Glen Campbell, complete with his reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." It was my personal tradition from very early childhood to put an album on the record player and turn off all the lights, except for the Christmas tree, sit in the olive green rocker (sometimes with my foster sister, sometimes alone) and just listen, rock, and stare at the lights. Julie Andrews' voice was so heavenly, and Andy Williams' vocals so festive and smooth. Glen Campbell was enjoyable, too, and this was Dad's contribution to the collection, with his flare for country music.

This is what is spinning in my humble CD player right now:

Mannheim Steamroller ~ A Fresh Aire Christmas
Up Next: Andrea Bocelli ~ Sacred Arias

We've been cleaning all day so we could get the Christmas tree and Schtuff down from the attic. Hubster, aka King Kong, was home from school today as the Metroplex closes down with the hint of ice on the ground...to protect all the drivers from other drivers who are from the south and cannot drive on black ice! hehehe

So he was the taskmaster and got us in order (mostly)...enough to get out the Christmas and winter decorations. So we kept the coffee on all day, along with lots of hot chocolate, marshmallows, vegie-beef stew and cornbread.

Other favorite albums we listened to today:

Handel's Messiah ~ Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus - Robert Shaw
Michael W. Smith's Christmastime
" " " Christmas (absolutely fantastic)
The Carols of Christmas ~ A Windham Hill Collection
The Bach Variations ~ A Windham Hill Sampler
George Winston's December

Now I must get back to hanging ornaments on the tree, since I finally got all the lights to work...all 1000 of them. I know, it's a little bright in here ;-) The last two ornaments to go on are Fannieul Hall (Boston) and a clear glass ornament with "Boston Snow" crystals on dried "grass" or "brush" in it. They are both from 1987, given to me by a co-worker, and they are among our family favorites. The kiddos put their special ornaments on first, then it's a frenzy, in which Momma has to tell them (mostly Andrewcles) to slow down. Then I make sure the colors are spread out and balanced well (snicker) so there might be a little bit of last minute adjusting going on.

I enjoy the memories associated with many of these ornaments on the tree, gifts given by family...like the giant locket given to us by Hubby's Aunt Gail in 1984 that says, "First Christmas Together". there are also ornaments that are gifts from friends, students, or mementos bought on travels. It reminds me to be thankful and pray for certain people we've known, or blessings we received throughout the years. What are some of your favorite or special ornaments, and why?

07 December, 2005


Dear Daughter and I have just begun reading Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. Our copies are one hardback and one softcover, both "Library of America" editions. The softcover has a thorough introduction by Edward Hoagland, whereas the hardcover, boxed edition (from Hubster~King Kong's collection) does not. But, it contains Cape Cod and Maine Woods in their entirety. For a helpful website with text of Walden and parallel analysis of one Thoreauvian's narration notes, click here. Scroll to the bottom of that page for more links to continue through the text.

Walden Pond is certainly beautiful. We've spent warm, sunny afternoons napping there, or in another favorite nature preserve, Rock Meadow, just down the street from where we lived in Belmont. I don't know if I could live (read: survive) for two years and two months (especially alone) in a cabin in the woods during a blustry and freezing New England winter. I have romantic notions, but none as deluded or idealistic as the Transcendentalists! At least, I hope not ;-).

All this reading and study of the New England Romanticism movement convinces me more each week that it is time (yes, I've said it here before) to take our children back to our stomping grounds of early marraige for a long visit.

Off to read more, and do some comparative study of Transcendental themes/philosphy by the reading of Emerson's Nature essay...it's been far too long since I've read it before.

As I mentioned in a previous post, go read Transcendental Wild Oats, by Louisa May Alcott, for a hilarious, satirical peek into the experiences of a Utopian experiment during the heyday of the New England Transcendentalists.


06 December, 2005

Night Noises Everywhere

...in which certain sounds made their way into my dream about King Kong in the wee hours of the morning.

Oldest son Ansel, soon to be 17, has been working on a project for a certain Science teacher and program related to hubby's school. Certain software programs were not working as he was accustomed to, from his videography experiences with his job this summer for the solar car team and race.

Said teen was up throughout the night editing and waiting (snoozing) patiently over each step of the rendering and movie editing process.

Then I had this dream of the great King Kong...the aforementioned teen had been asleep briefly for only about twenty minutes. Throughout the night, he was trying to be as quiet as possible. Still, I do not sleep well if my children are still up studying or working on a school project.

My dream was an exciting one, very much like the old movie from my childhood. We were in a building, my family, some friends and I, and King Kong was there, too, complete with the building up of intense drum beats (rather like the Irish clog dancing? huh? Oh, I now recognize it as the double timpani action from our evening at the symphony this past weekend listening to Mahler's Symphony #1 in D major ~ snicker, snort). There was this rumbling and growling from Old Kong...the building was going to be brought down by the feared beast! I pleadedwith everyone to leave the building, for it was coming down and we must all run! I struggled to gather everyone, and help lead them out to safety...the beats kept beating and the rumbles kept rumbling. I could not get everyone out of the building, no matter how hard I tried. It was as if they could not hear me...then upon waking, I continued to to hear the rumbling.........which.......turned out to be.............someone's snoring ;-).

It was not my own!

I shall now dub Hubster "King Kong," affectionately.

{huge grin}



Blogger was behaving oddly last night, so I decided to change my template and try out a different format. I really like my old "scribe" parchment template, but, I think it was time for a fresh, new look. In the process, I lost all my comments! Argh :-\.

I'll get my links back up, and my blog ring html sometime today.

05 December, 2005

December Doldrums

I was feeling the first blast of December Doldrums yesterday, due in part to my frustration over having to be in a store (Wal-Mart this time) during the crazy time of frenzied shopping weekend for many people. Therefore, I was inundated by some of the more negative sides to this time of year...those things which I try to avoid the whole season through, if possible.

The day began cold, gray, and blustry outside (sans much-needed rain, mind you) and I'd overslept. Since some of the family had to arrive at church early, I would not be ready in time, so I went to second service. I got to sit with a friend and her hubby, who is one of our elders. That was a nice treat, as they've had to travel quite a bit lately, and it was good to see them. At the same time, though, some families have recently stopped going to our church, and therefore it is a little sad not to see them there anymore.

I've shared a bit of background to set up this lovely poem hubby wrote and sent to me today.

Oh Thou Dearest Liebfrau,

When life doth blast thee with cold, dry winds,

And all of your coffee beans worm-eaten,
Then mayest thou remember the love of thy youth,
Who wilt always fetch thee new beans,
For my heart like the sun comes up new in the morning,
And like steam always rises and rises,
For only externals sag down, down, down
In Adam's (gravity's) curse;
In you, sweet love, sweet love, sweet love,
The sun rises and sets in my heart with your smile,
And, pray, let not this cheese distract you from me.


The Hubs

He also sent an Emily Jane Bronte quote:

"No coward soul is mine, no trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven's glories shine, And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear."

I think I am a coward when it comes to shopping at Christmas time...even for simple things such as bread or TP! Thank the Lord, I did find it a relief to qualify for the "express" checkout.

01 December, 2005

Cerebral Enhance-o-tron

Update: Inspired by his favorite cartoon, Calvin & Hobbes, and with the help of a metal pasta strainer and some old cords and earphones, Andrewcles re-created... a type of thinking cap!

Virtual Toblerone for anyone who knows what this is!

Our 10 yo son created one all his very own. He is our busy, distracted child. Once he can settle down and focus, it is astounding what he can actually accomplish or create!

I'll share a photo soon :-)