Sunday, December 31, 2017

Photo Blogging Challenge (December 2017): Holly Jolly

For a number of years we have talked about going to Stan Hwyet's "Deck the Hall" Christmas event.  We finally made it earlier this month, and it was spectacular!  Over one million lights decorated the property.  We will definitely be back next year.

The large trees in front of the Manor House had snow flakes hung high up in the top branches.  They looked beautiful alongside the year's only full supermoon.

The Music Room had multiple trees and numerous other decorations.

Stan Hwyet is staffed mostly by volunteers, without whom the place could not function.  This gentleman was directing to flow of visitors inside the house and was answering questions as well.

One of the many decorated Christmas trees inside the house.  Each one seemed to be prettier than the last.  This one is in the Great Hall.

The house and lights shined brightly in the reflecting pool. 

Bonus: There is a courtyard by the Carriage House that was setup to look like an old village square.  A large, decorated Christmas tree was set in the center and little chalets surrounded it, selling all sorts of treats.  In the window of the Carriage House was decorated to look like a bake shop.  The children seemed to love it.
To see more, visit A 'lil Hoohaa


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jump Start Week 2, Take 2

aka On the Third Day of Christmas

I think I was beging a little optimistic that I could write weekly, this time of the year.  After all, there is much merriment to be had!  I am hoping that is has been the same for you as well.

So, what is your favorite Christmas memory?  Perhaps it was long ago.  Or, maybe it was this year.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Week three is being postponed to next week.  Jump on in with Week 2.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jump Start (2): Remember When?

I was all set to write about the Christmas that I gave my dad a bird, whether he wanted it or not.  But, a glass of wine and a walk with the dog tonight got me thinking about our first, married Christmas.  Better story.  Much better one.

Himself and I were married at the beginning of October.  About ten weeks after that we were planning on hosting both of our families for Christmas Day celebrations and dinner.  And, of course, that meant everything had to be perfect.

We were living in the fixer upper house that I had purchased a few years earlier.  I had done some remodeling, but the living room still wasn’t complete.  Let’s just say it needed a lot of work.

Before the wedding we had refinished the hardwood floors.  They were stained where the previous owner’s carpet had stuck to the floor when wet.  We won’t go into how it got wet, other than it involved a cat.

The paint on the walls was peeling in a number of spots, the result of painting over cigarette smoke stains.  For Christmas to be perfect, that had to be remedied.  We picked out paint and found material for matching curtains.  We ordered blinds and an area rug.  I sewed and Himself painted.

Three days before Christmas we took a break from those chores and drove down to Amish country for a sofa table that we just had to have to make the room complete.  Since I had used all my vacation time for our honeymoon, we had to make the seventy-five minute drive after work.  Remember, this is December.  It gets dark early.  And, there are no lights along the hilly back roads.  It was somewhat light when we started out, but after we had loaded the table in the backseat of my car, it was pitch black.  As I drove, Himself kept a look out for the black buggies and dark horses for which the Amish are known.  Thankfully, we didn’t meet any up close and personal!

Two days later, on Christmas Eve, the painting was finally done, the blinds and curtains were hung, and the new table put in place.  But one thing was missing.  We didn’t have a tree.

I had remembered seeing a Christmas tree lot at the local Protestant church.  We drove down there and all the trees were dumped in a big pile.  We decided to try another place down the road, a florist shop, but they were sold out.

Back to the church we went.  We dug through pile and found something that didn’t look too beat up.  We knocked on the rectory door, hoping to find someone to pay for our find.  No one was around.  We “stole” our first Christmas tree!

We furiously decorated the tree, only taking a break to go to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.  The next morning we were up early to go to Mass and get the cooking underway.  I prepared a big turkey dinner that we served on our wedding china and crystal.

By the end of the day we were  exhausted, but happy.  It was perfect.  We got to celebrate Christmas as a new family.

That living room, not that year

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jump Start (1): We All Write For Some Reason

When I was twelve years old or so, I wanted to be a writer.  I read constantly and loved that books could transport me to different times and places.  I wanted to create that, too.  I even started writing my first “novel”.  It was a story about a young girl with many siblings.  They lived in a large log cabin in the woods, ordered all their clothes and household goods from the Sears catalog, and were home schooled.  I think I might still have those pages torn from a spiral notebook.
A few years later, in a high school English class, we had to write a poem about something  in our life.  I put my heart and soul into that poem.  When the teacher had us each read our poems out loud to the class, I refused.  It was just too personal.
I think that poem taught me that words had power.  They had significance and could be lasting.  You use words to tell a story, capture history, save a memory.  We still read Chesterton, Augustine and Plato.  What they had to say is timeless.  It still makes sense today.
When I started this blog seven years ago, I wanted to let women dealing with infertility know that they could find truth, beauty and goodness in life whether they had children or not.   That was then.  But what about now?
I really had to stop and think why I still write here.  In many ways, blogging seems to be a dying art.  Why keep at it?  And I think it came down to this – words are important.  I still want to find truth, beauty and goodness in life.  I want to capture little glimpses of that.  I want to remind myself that no matter what is going on – goofy politics, natural disasters, horrible crimes, or just the everyday struggles – there is something more, something worth remembering.
And, that is why I write.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Blog Jump Start

At the beginning of November I mentioned doing a jump start back to blogging link up.  It sounded like a few people might be interested, so let's give it a try.

Every Tuesday morning, I will publish the linkup.  I also created a tab up top with the topics so you don't have to hunt down this post.  If the topic of the week doesn't do it for you, write what does.

Week 1:  We all write for some reason.  What's yours?

Week 2:  Remember when?  Christmas is in a week.  What are some of your favorite memories?

Week 3:  Draft folder clean up.  We all have those unfinished posts that hide out in our draft folder, on scrap pieces of paper, or in Word documents.  Finish one up, now.

Week 4:  Guess who's coming to dinner?  Living or dead, who would you invite?

Week 5:  TBD  Any suggestions?

Week 6:  Clean up, take two.  Just like week three.  Again, again!

Let the writing begin, again!

PS. Week 1 will be December 12th.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Things I Would Have Missed

I went for a walk early this morning.  It was cold, down in the low twenties and heavy frost on the ground sort of cold.  It was much earlier than I would have like to be up on a Saturday morning.  When we started out, it was dark with just a hint of the sunrise that was still more than an hour away. 

But, when the hairy beast says he needs to poop, we walk.  Because somehow he just cannot manage to do it in our yard.  He must walk.

You know what?  It was glorious! 

If I didn't have this crazy mutt, I probably still would have been in bed.  And I would have missed the pinks and oranges and yellows that painted the sky as we returned home.

*   *   *   *   *

Last night Himself wanted to show me the lights he had put on the house for Advent.  As we walked out the front door something very large flew in front of us and landed high in the treetops. Silhouetted by  the full moon behind it, sat a majestic owl.  Had we walked out the door even thirty seconds later, we would have missed it.

*   *   *   *   *

I wonder how much I miss, what beauty I don't see.  These little opportunities make me grateful for what I do see.  Because it's there.  I just need to look.