Go, Illinois! Enough said!
December 2007 Archives
And last night, Christmas night, I was given the blessing of a new grandniece. I won't print her full name here, but I'm delighted to tell you that her middle name is Margaret! Margaret is an old-fashioned name. Not many girls are given old-fashioned names these days, so I figured that no one in our family would carry on my name.
My youngest sister came close when she named her oldest daughter, but this time it's right on the money!
Thanks, kids! I hope she grows to be a healthy, amazing kid!
When I was a child, our music teacher decided we would learn the music version of this poem, for a Christmas pageant at school. Probably 80% of the poem is firmly entrenched in my brain, because I can associate it with music I loved.
Dear Husband, Second Son, and Elegante Mother join me in wishing you a Blessed Christmas, and the best in the coming year. Merry Christmas, one and All!
"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" "
Clement Moore 1822
My sister has a mouse in her dishwasher. They don't know how he got there, or if he is capable of getting outside. When they open the dishwasher, he runs to the corner and disappears. There was some discussion of the port where the water exits, and the fact that it must share a communal pipe with the kitchen sink. Other than that, they have no clue how he comes and goes. They don't know if he's trying to get out, or if he's trying to make it his new home. Dear Husband suggested putting one of the cats in the machine, and turning it on.
Elegante Mother fell this morning. Nothing seems to be hurt other than her pride. I think we may have to get her one of those devices that allows her to call for help when we are sleeping. To assuage her angst at having fallen, Dear Husband bought chocolate covered éclairs at the bakery. I assumed (you know what they say about assuming things...) that the éclairs were for dessert. As I walked past Elegante Mother, checking to see if she was all right, she was reading the newspaper. She dipped it when I spoke to her and I realized she couldn't respond due to the mouthful of éclair she was eating! AND.....as I passed through the kitchen, I realized that there was not one, but TWO of the éclairs missing. You KNOW who ate the other! (And, it wasn't me!)
Ed, our fifteen year old cat, doesn't care for cold weather any more, so he was delighted when the temperatures rose into the forties this week. We still have fog, and the snow is melting. It seems rather wet and drippy out, but to Ed, it's the perfect day to go hunting. He runs out the door about thirty feet and plops his butt on the edge of the sidewalk, and takes up this petrified stance facing the garage wall and a hole in the ground. He seems to think a chipmunk is going to come out of that hole sooner or later, and he plans to be ready to greet him. Do you think it's too late for me to explain the concept of hibernation to Ed??
I can't recall if I've written about shopping for Elegante Mother. It's so difficult for her to deal with getting in and out of the car that I've taken over most of her shopping for her. She has approximately 65 people to shop for, and we also give tins of home made cookies to the ladies at the salon.
She decided she would do a $15 gift certificate for each person on her list. I made up a list of family members, and then we decided which store would be appropriate (with a little help from my sisters). I did the lion's share of the shopping, but she went to the mall with My-Sister-The-Nurse one day, and hit five shops, and she went with me for a couple more this week.
We have signed the gift cards, and addressed them, and slipped them into little gift bags which have tags on them. I've mailed cards to four of the families; the rest are collected, waiting for our family party.. I'll make sure that there's a bag for each person who will be attending the party, before it's time to pack the car.
I'm relieved it's done. I helped her address her Christmas cards, and I hope to get mine finished tonight. I've resorted to shopping on line, and getting gift certificates for those who live out of state. Luckily, Dear Husband has done the shopping for the kids and our grand daughters, and he's even wrapped gifts! Way to go, DH!
We will not be entertaining anyone here for Christmas. We'll go to a niece's home for my family's party, and to my step-daughter's home on Christmas Day. The house is clean. We're almost done with the shopping and wrapping. It's very possible that other than a little cooking, we might have several laid back days coming our way. Sounds like a plan, doesn't it? *S*
Fog comes in on little cat feet.
We have fog forecast for this evening on into tomorrow morning. It's not often that we have fog in December. A warm front has moved in, and the ground is still cold, covered in snow in most places. It was actually in the 40s today.
It's quiet, the trees are still. I can hear the furnace, but the rest of the house seems to be responding to the stillness outside. Mother has created a nest, with her books and chocolates, and lap robes all at hand.
It's a good night to light candles, play a movie and finish Christmas cards. .
Elegant Mother's church held a Bazaar on December 1st. Her Empty Nester Sewing group has been working on things to donate for the past six or more months, diligently finishing one project and rushing into the next. Peg, who manages the group, kept everyone on track with e-mails about what had been completed and what was still in the works.
I offered two lap-quilt size tops to be quilted by a member of the church. I was asked if I would create a baby quilt from six embroidered animal blocks. I used some of my batiks, and shopped for borders and a great backing of all sorts of animals. There was also a small pre-printed panel of the 12 Days of Christmas to which I added borders. In mid-October, the four tops were handed over to be machine quilted. I went home and made binding for everything. (There are pictures of some of the binding to the right.)
Now, you'd think these projects would have been finished within four weeks. They were small jobs that didn't require a huge expenditure of time. But, there were two things I didn't know. First, Cheryl was the person who was in charge of the entire bazaar, and second......I'm not sure, but I don't think she had ever used her long arm quiting machine, so there was a big learning curve involved.
With some prompting from Peg, she managed to get one piece done ten days before the Bazaar. A second one came through three days later. Of course, they were the two smallest pieces. The last two quilts came to me three and four days prior to the bazaar. There was no point in shouting about it. I sat down each morning and set things up to sew the binding to the face of the quilts, and each evening, I sewed the binding to the back of the quilt by hand. I put the finishing stitches into the last one Friday evening.
I dropped the quilts off at 7:45 on Saturday morning, and discovered that Cheryl had hurt her back, and everything had been dumped in Peg's lap. We were very fortunate that Peg was able to rise to the occasion. Everything was tagged and priced, and laid out in inviting ways. The quilts were pinned to dividers, with a bit of the back turned over so that people could see the backing without touching the quilts.
They made an astonishing $1500! And, the Empty Nester Group was responsible for 75% of that. The quilts brought in approximately $310! Cheryl is talking about the bazaar for next year. Peg is looking cross-eyed and saying "NO WAY!" I'm with Peg, but I think I will look for some simple patterns for lap quilts that might be done and set aside until the Empty Nesters decide to participate once again.
I'm happy to say that I donated two loaves of Pumpkin Bread to the Bakery Table, too! *G*
I must say that at least once a month, but I think this may be the driest spell that I've had in my blogging life. I've been blogging in my head, but I just haven't made the time to get things onto the computer.
While I've been away we celebrated Elegante Mother's 91st birthday. She spent the day before shopping with My-Sister-The-Nurse, and having her hair and nails done. I met them for a lovely lunch, and then spent some time shopping for the gift cards that EM will be giving her family for Christmas. We have more than half of them signed, and addressed and slipped into gift bags, but I still have a bit of shopping to do, and five sets of gifts to box up and mail.
The day of her birthday, December 7, we spent a quiet day at home, then went to McCormick & Schmick's for dinner. She was delighted. She rose to the occasion, smiling, thanking people for their birthday wishes, and flirting with the 20-something waiter. He did a great job, to the extent of singing "Happy Birthday" to her loud enough for the entire room to hear. The manager and hostesses were charming as we made our way back to the car, and even the valet cosseted EM. I think she would tell you that it ranked up there with some of the best birthdays she's had.
The day EM went shopping with My-Sister-The-Nurse was the first day she had been out for easily ten days. The entire family is down with a wretched cold. Dear Husband, who NEVER gets colds developed a doozie, and one by one we succumbed. I was the last to get it. It's really tough to take care of sickies, and then not get any commiseration when you get sick, too! I took today off to have one more quiet day before I have to fling myself into office work and Christmas preparations.
We've had our first lasting, measurable snow. The day before it arrived, I asked DH if he had put the plow on the truck. "No." "Why not?" "There won't be enough snow to justify it. Maybe for five or six inches..."
Want to guess how much snow is out there? Ohhhhh....five or six inches. The plow is on the truck now.
Yesterday I woke up to sleet on the skylights. DH walked down the drive to get the papers, sanded the sidewalk and fed the birds. Normally feeding the birds is my job. It was really kind of him to spare me having to dress for the cold weather. I've shoveled a path to the feeders, so it was a snap for him to fill them.
Yesterday, we had so many birds at the feeders that you could hardly see the snow. I've changed the formulation on the mix of seed just a bit, and they seem to be using it all. I added a small finch feeder this year, and filled it with Niger seed. The ground below it looks messy, but the birds seem to really enjoy the seed. This year's crop of blue jays has one that doesn't play well with others. I know they have a reputation for being pushy birds, but the blue jays we've had previously have been very gracious birds. It's a pleasure to see them get along, but this one is more aggressive. More cardinals are beginning to show up at our feeder. When we had fewer neighbors, we sometimes had as many as eight or ten pairs of them. There aren't that many yet, but it's early in the season.
The tree service was here to cut down a pod of trees that would have taken out part of the master bedroom suite if they'd fallen. After they'd left, I realized there was one more tree in that area that needed to be cut down, and a much larger one to the east. I asked the boss to come back to do another proposal. This is not a company you want to call if you need them on a specific day, but they do good work. I showed him the two trees, and for the heck of it, asked what it would cost to cut the sumac out of two pods of evergreens on the front lawn. When I saw what he wanted to charge, I snapped it up! I've been obsessing about the sumac in the evergreen, because I was going to have to encourage DH to cut it down, and he's allergic to the evergreens. The guys did a fantastic job! I haven't seen it look so clean in more than 16 years! I know the sumac will return, but we may be able to keep ahead of it this time. They even cut out the wild raspberries! And....the tree trimmer has given me a bid on three trees off the corner of the garage. The trees were just $50 a piece, but I kept passing on the proposal, thinking DH could get to them. When I called to see when the trees would be cut down,for the heck of it I asked if he would throw in those three trees for free. I couldn't believe it!! He did it for free! I made brownies for the crew. Too bad they left about 60 seconds before I got down the driveway to hand them over.
I miss reading your blogs, and hearing from you. I hope you're all having a good month and have reached the point where holiday cheer is rising in you. Take care!