Keeping Christmas Our Way

That’s actually a title of a chapter from GSPorter’s book ‘Laddie’.  But this morning I was chatting with a friend whose children are also grown about how different Christmas is now. If we go into it with the same expectations, there will be disappointment. So, how do we adjust? The fact is , we don’t need to do so much and we can’t, so what will feel like Christmas that we can actually do? I flagged several songs in my Oxford Christmas book of carols that I have never learned or I never learned well and they’re a little complicated so it gives me something to practice. Yesterday when daughter and son-in-law and family were here, I pulled one out that I knew but could not play or sing. My 11 year old granddaughter jumped up and said, “oh we are learning that one” and sang it…..in Spanish! (Riu, riu chiu)😄 We also agreed to address a couple Christmas cards every evening after supper, after eating at the table (which we don’t always do) and do yoga! You can tell which ideas were whose but we’re both pretty agreeable with each other! There is also the regular Advent reading, Grand children’s programs and a couple annual parties. I got rid of a lot of Christmas ornaments I didn’t want a long time ago so I use dried flowers or whatever else I can Preserve and paper ornaments I make , plus a few keepsakes to decorate my tree. Then there is the outside decorating…….getting right on it! 

Sounds like Christmas keeping to me!

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My favorite holiday….

Is Thanksging. And here’s why.

In the late 90’s, after a cross-country move, we found a school/home at Dayspring Christian Academy. We saw that the children could grow up as part of a school family and they would be loved, as well as taught. After a couple years, I joined the going-to-school ranks, filling in a need for a Latin teacher. There are two things that come out loud and clear at DCA. There is a lot of talk about self-government, and Thanksgiving. I found the self-government helpful as well as challenging, and useful in family life. It is key to the Thanksgiving story. At first Thanksgiving was celebrated by an all morning event, which the teachers were instrumental initiating the re- enacting and the mothers co-operated in providing a whopping turkey dinner. The kids had to re-enact as well, and after doing it year after year, they were ……let’s say, getting bored with it. Then there was the staff meeting our headmaster asked us if we wanted to do a living museum and the students could volunteer. This was totally embraced. Sewing machines came out, prop painting was undertaken, how to store the props was planned and scripts were written. Several stations were planned, starting with an intro and we first meet the ‘Pilgrims’ at Scrooby Manor, William Bradford’s home. This was ‘my’  station. Memorizing, rehearsals, setting up our stations. It was delightful work. It Was work. And camaraderie. Then the evening would come and we would repeat our scene over and over for about 3 hours straight. I think we did two evenings. By the next day, we were on Thanksgiving break  and, if we were done with our grades, we were free. For a week. It wasn’t like Christmas where you have to be mindful of gifts and decorations and concerts/recitals and visits. It was free. It was the end of the first trimester, the culmination of that early push into a new school year. It was a sweet week. There was time for music and dinner with family and friends and to enjoy each other’s good company. 

I still feel that time, maybe not for a whole week, but this slow down, the gardens done, the fire is lit, time for company sort of sense. I miss those kids who have grown up and have children of their own.

Last week I saw on FB that they were doing it and I thought, ” I never saw the whole thing!” So I signed my man and me up when we went! I saw at least a few former students acting in adult roles. I hope their Thanksgivings are refreshing and sweet.It was so good to see familiar faces and to see good work continue.

Many thanks to those who said the same things over and over again for 3 hours.

Manufacture- Made by Hand 

I have this idea that one of our social ills is that we value what is made by Hand so little. When you can run to the store and pick it off the shelf Or go shopping before you get out of bed  (that’s me!!!), it is easy to miss the work that made it possible. I also say this as I download a Latin dictionary app.I couldn’t get over all the choices!

But in my regular private life I try to make it myself, sew it myself, or salvage it myself. If I have to dispose of it, I try to find the best way of doing it. I keep watch on the trash can and what goes into it.It’s easier to recycle a battered, yellowed book than a VHS tape. You can obsess over stuff like this!

Mainly my efforts have been in the clothes and food department. Since school ended in the spring and I’m not working, I try to invest my time wisely. I made a lot of summer clothes and now I’m into winter ones. I make my bread and my yogurt. Yogurt is a new thing for me, but it’s not that different than making bread, where you have to be a little temperature sensitive and then all goes well. I picked up a quart at the store one day and it was $5.! I thought I could improve on that. I get my milk from a farm, but raw milk is not a necessity for making yogurt, although it is pretty good! It takes about 15 minutes, but I can watch it while I do other things in the kitchen. I incubate it in soup thermoses that I got for school last year. I make my cereal, too. I have been making granola probably for as long as I have been married. I have a recipe someone gave me while we were on our honeymoon. But I don’t grow the oatmeal or anything else I put in it, so even at this stage of DIY, someone else is preparing something for me, and I am grateful for that. Someone else milks the cow for my yogurt, too, and I’m glad I don’t have to do that! But I do have know who it is, and I know where the cows feed!

I’m thinking about this because I just bought my dh some jeans. I paid $20./pr. They were exactly what he wanted right down to the size of the little pocket in the big pocket. It crosses my mind what it would take to make them, even with skipping the parts of growing the cotton, spinning the thread and weaving the fabric. And they wouldn’t be so sturdy as they are with all that triple top-stitching. But it’s probably pretty automated. I can’t imagine spending my day sewing  the same seams day after day and then I get another pile to do the next day. And here the musing gets complicated. I don’t think the ‘way it is’ is okay, and I try to look out for what I can do better. I’m not sure that going back to the ‘way it was’ is better. To put it simply.

Is this the most boring blog ever? Oh well, I’ll be back with something more interesting later, now that my writing juices seem to be waking up after a long spell!

Backyard Beauty again

Some days I wish I had a big backyard. Today I’m weeding and Mowing and raking and it’s not one of those days! But that’s not the only reason. One of the other reasons is I find a lot of beauty out there while I’m working! I see the Bumblebees overcrowding the yellow zinnias. I see the Black Swallowtail flitting over the carrots. I see the nasturtium intertwined on a Oakleaf hydrangea seedling, and the curve of the stem of The Perennial begonia. I see the plants that we have put there begin to breathe when the debris from the storm is removed or the vines that grow faster than we could imagine have been pulled away and found Treasures of heirloom tomatoes still ripening under the vines. Is that enough for one morning? It’s getting hot out there.

When we were first married….. 

We have had a recent wedding among our children and another a little over a year ago. It reminds one of ‘the early days’. When we were married I was still 18 and Joel 21. I moved far from my home and all I knew so he could be part of his family’s greenhouse business. They always treated me like family, so that wasn’t an issue, ever. I had so much to discover of what was common and every day to them. Yesterday we read the passage in church from Isaiah 55 “Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, instead of briers the myrtle will grow…” I had memorized that in the 5th grade and wondered what a myrtle was. One day as Joel and I were rounding a bend in Buck Schoolhouse road I said, “What is that?” “A Myrtle tree” “OHHHHhhhh!!” It’s a beauty! I’ve been asking that question quite a bit since then and he rarely says he doesn’t know. If he does, I wonder what is wrong with him!

He thought I would cook like his grandmother. I got a letter from my grandma reminiscing about her early cooking days. His family ate that , Hers ate this, and on and on. It was a comfort to hear. If there was a weekly activity, there was a weekly “debate” about it. Like grocery shopping. I learned to drive after I got married. In Baltimore. I paid for lessons. My mom told me not to let him teach me how to drive. I think she had driving lesson scars from my dad!!

My mother had a green thumb and loved to garden, so plants were not new to me. We had lived in the country most of my growing up years, but the greenhouses were an entirely different level of anything I had known before.

One day one of his cousins gave us a goose that he had shot, a Canada goose. I am pretty sure it was dressed (or undressed!) , so I invited someone over and cooked goose for the first (and only) time. Everything was for the first time. I’d never eaten wild bird before!

After we had been married about a month, we went to the beach and then stayed overnight at a motel. We went to a little restaurant for breakfast in the morning and all the waiters were men. And they served fresh-squeezed orange juice. Another first for me, but not for my Florida boy! I remember that as a quiet time. Either it was what we expected it to be , or we set aside our expectations.  I really don’t remember the ocean then. I just remember that lovely little restaurant.

We lived in the downstairs apartment of a house on the greenhouse property that had once belonged to a great aunt and uncle. The next generation had taken their turns  in that house and we heard about it. It was a big square house and we had three big rooms, a small room at the front door, an ample kitchen, and a bathroom of course. It had a ‘gas fireplace’ which we scorned. It was a fake log with a pipe coming through it and a brick facade. And stained glass windows on either side. I put the monkey fern in there and it promptly died! Well…

We had a baby while we were living there, too. Like I say, everything was for the first time. I was visiting a young friend recently and was noting with astonishment she and her husband have been married 5 years already. We have known them since they were engaged. She replied, “I know! It went by in a blink!” I sort of feel that way about the 40 years I’ve been married. It might be just a blink, but a lot if living happens in those blinks!

So… I am inviting you, to add your first memories in the comments, either here or FB, no matter.

 At fireworks on our 40th wedding anniversary with a grandson.

Color Coordinated Gardening.

Years ago my husband read an article in a magazine called Color Coordinated Gardening . We went on a quest. I remember we spent a lot of money on just seeds! What stuck with us were the purple, yellow, and green beans. They are so pretty in a bowl together.

    Not quite so long ago we watched a documentary called the Botany of Desire.   It’s also a book. Potatoes originated in Peru and they come in all kinds of colors. What fascinated me was that the farmers wore the colors of their crops! I had always thought all those colors  in the seed catalog were hybridizations of the one true white potatoe!

   The Yukon Golds are up and running. The Adirondack Reds are cut loose and set. Them potatoes have traveled a good distance!

“A hill each of potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas….”


I think he’s thinking about his grand dad.

HiThe Garden Blog……

You can read if it interests you but this particular post I am going to use as a record for this year’s garden. If you follow me, you will see the edits.

Last week I called my neighbor to ask if he has easy access to manure. He didn’t but he was bringing a truck home from work if I found some. When I called a mulch place to order mulch, I got a couple of possibilities. So when Neighbor Nick called me back, I was ready. He was readier. He took a chance stopping at a horse farm on the way home and the farmer scooped it in with his tractor! He came home, picked up is wife and me (and their baby) and we went to the garden with the Dump truck and Dumped it out! Aaaand they helped me rake it out! 

When Nick started to toss around the manure, I grinned and said I love watching a man work! Erin wasn’t sure she was getting a fair shake . She had an interview earlier that day and was still wearing a skirt. When she started tossing it around I said she was picturesque in different way!

That was last Friday. On Tuesday, the mulch was delivered. Yes, another dump truck, right at the edge of our plot. 

It’s the cheap kind. Cut fine, no dues or chemicals. 😀

Yesterday Joel got the tiller to the garden and tilled. And we planted Yukon gold potatoes. We like them. We leaned against the tires of the truck and ate hamburgers. It was breezy and a little chilly, with more chilly days to come. It’s a half and half garden. Half mine, half his. The potatoes are on his half.

Resting after planting tomatoe and squash beds. Shoveling, mulching and tucking them in against a few more cool days.  5/ 10/2017

Scaring the deer. We put up black netting but they need something about eye level.