Thursday, December 24, 2009

Unusual Stars

During the week before Christmas, I've been blessed by the appearance of many unusual stars. First there were the three stars who performed in a play at the Chapel in the Pines --a funny and joyful adaptation of the Christmas story called "The Unusual Star." This delightful performance turned on the love and made my eyes see unusual stars everywhere. The first star-- who I might have otherwise missed-- was stagehand Cody working in the dark to rearrange sets for the play in which his three siblings were performing.

Then there was the neighbor who came when called and who managed to finally straighten the tree!

It wasn't hard to miss this happy bass player! But what was unusual about this star was the joy he so clearly finds when playing music.

There is also the wonder of color-coordination: this Papa with his baby's bottom are truly star material!

Little yogini Nell shines under the bright tutelage of yoga star brother John.

And all week I've been enjoying the aroma of baking cookies. Cindy is--without a doubt-- the Christmas Cookie Queen. She brings sweetness and light to the holiday every single year with hundreds of cookies. She is a most unusual star!

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas with Cousins

The best thing about the family Christmas gathering, other than celebrating with my wonderful children and their families, was watching the cousins play together.

(Athan is a rising pool shark who devoted considerable time at the table)

Christmas with cousins filled me with the same joy that Clare seemed to feel when handed her first Christmas stocking.
The party was definitely a success. I know because Anna Mae wrote a fabulous summary on her blog. Check it out!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gianna & the Nutcracker

One of my life goals is to take each of my granddaughters to the Nutcracker ballet in San Francisco. This year Gianna accompanied me! She even wore a dress for the occasion, not her favorite garment. She looked lovely and her mom had curled her hair a beautiful pageboy, a style reminiscent of my youth.

The three hour drive to SF whizzed by as she sat in the back seat, eating pistachios and playing hangman on my iPhone (thank you Aunt Jenny and Kyle for suggesting I download this application). We stopped at Trader Joes and bought sushi for lunch, and she ate all 6 pieces and the ginger, exclaiming her pleasure.

We were a little behind schedule, so we really had to rush to get to the Opera Hall after parking in the Civic Center garage. But we made it in plenty of time. I thought I had purchased tickets for seats one level below the balcony, but as it turned out we were on the ground floor level with the stage. What a suprise!

Gianna has an eye for detail and the things she noticed say a lot about her. She said she liked being at a level where she could watch the dancers's feet. In the dance of the snowflakes, she said, "Dearma, do you see the muscles in their backs?" She commented on the lead male dancer by saying, "The reason his legs are so big is because they are muscular." She asked questions about the sets. "How do you think they move?" "Do you think they are made of metal?" She was also quite the observer of people, for instance, pointing out folks who wore jeans or very high heels.
After the ballet, we went to Max's for dinner where she ordered pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. She loved the hot rolls, which she said tasted just like Uncle Culley's fresh bread. The ride home was long--rush hour traffic and then fog-- but she was wonderfully patient. We talked about her trip to North Carolina and New York and about St. Nicholas Days from the past and she played more hangman. In Oakdale, we stopped at Cold Stone where she ordered cotton candy ice cream with gummy bears. In her words, "I'm sure glad we stopped there!"

When we got back in the car, she read the clock on the dash and said, "It's 8 o'clock. That's my bed time." And she promptly fell asleep. That's Gianna & the Nutcracker! A fine memory for sure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Cabin Fever Here!

Despite the drawbacks of snow at lower elevations, such as the crushing weight upon the oleander hedge that I have clutivated to be tall and graceful

and getting soaking wet trying to free the hedge from ice and snow,
and the belated rescue of tender geraniums from the unaccoustmed cold,

I am thoroughly enjoying staying at home to avoid the mess out there on the roads. No cabin fever yet, in part I'm sure to the Internet. I love my never-ending connection to others via email, Facebook, Bloglines, and Meehive.
And then there is snuggling under a blanket with a cup of hot tea and reading. I've read two books of poetry, Alison Luterman's See How We Almost Fly and Kay Ryan's Say Uncle, plus a daily dose from the Complete Works of Emily Dickinson. I read one full murder mystery by Kathy Reichs and started a second by Ellen Hart and I'm making my way through This Child Will be Great, a biography of Liberia's President Ellen SirLeaf. More snuggling to watch TV! One night, we watched 3 hours of the first season of ER compliments of Netflix, and we are keeping up with our regular programming too.
I've also done some work . . . finishing one freelance project and making a dent in another. We've gone for a walk everyday, albeit shorter than usual, and I've made muffins and addressed Christmas cards and taken care of some phone business that has been languishing on my to-do list. Today, I'm baking bread.
No cabin fever yet . . . wonder how long it will take before I want to go somewhere? Could be next spring.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Quite unintentionally, I've found myself launched into the Christmas season.

It all started on Friday when I accompanied the Tippetts to a program at the Gallo Center: "An Irish Christmas!" Thinking I was going simply as an extra pair of hands to help with the children, I wasn't expecting to be utterly delighted by the program of Irish musicians on accordion, violin, drum, and some kind of bagpipe like horn. Three female vocalist sang Christmas songs right into my heart, and the Irish dancers pounded the wooden stage with irresistible rhythm. The kids were rapt for an hour and so was I.

Saturday started with Mary Autumn's birthday brunch, where we all feasted on a delicious frozen dish made by August, frozen bananas made creamy by pushing them through the juicer and then topping them with chocolate sauce or in my case Nutella. The kids were giddy with anticipation, thinking about putting their boots out at bedtime in preparation for St. Nicholas Day on Sunday. I heard that they had trouble going to sleep and were peaking through cracks in the wooden framing upstairs in the hope of catching a glimpse of St. Nick.

Sunday was the Advent Spiral at the Waldorf School. We waited, shivering despite heavy coats, hats, and gloves for admission to the darkened room at the appointed hour of 4pm. The room was warm and packed with parents and grandparents who sang Christmas carols softly as each child walked the spiral to the center, tipped their candle for lighting, and then made the return trip out to place their light on the spiral. You couldn't miss Huckle's clear, high voice singing "Away in the Manger," and when it was his turn, he moved briskly for this was his 2nd year walking the spiral. Nell was more tentative holding Miss Beth's hand as she walked and looking out into the audience to see where Mom and Dad might be. Once her candle was lit, she gained confidence for the return trip.

Monday morning it started snowing in Jamestown at 7:10 and didn't stop until after 10. It was so cold that the snow did not melt, so we spent a most unusual day for our low elevation in a winter wonderland. We drank a lot of hot tea and I made muffins and we kept the radio tuned to KVML all day, listening to road reports and Christmas music, while we worked on our gift lists, did some online ordering, and then began addressing envelopes for our cards. And of course we took a walk in the snow.

I like having Christmas sneak up on my like this. It feels all warm and tingly and real.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And now she's 5

Mary Autumn was reluctant to enter the world. Not only did she come days past her due date, but her birth vigil was the longest and the most strenuous of labors for Jennie Lou. Little did we know that she was giving us a peek at her personality: tentative though quietly strong willed. Her abiding affection and closeness with Mama is another thing she wanted us to know about her. That was the message in her birth story and suddenly she is 5. Here are some pictures that show the beautiful Mary Autumn.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Patricia's iPhone

This is my new iPhone! As a friend on Facebook writes: "Beware of buying a phone that is smarter than you." I'm still not sure what it's doing in my bag.

I started toying with the idea of getting an iPhone several months ago. When I posted the thought on Facebook, I got 20+ comments from folks who said "Go for it!" IPhone users love them.

Then Cindy's Blackberry died, so she got the iPhone. We could only afford one, and I had to face the fact that she uses her phone WAY more than I use mine. I really didn't mind. In truth, I was a little afraid to get something quite so racy. We agreed that I could get one in December when we expected to have a little extra cash. In the meantime, I helped her figure out some of the basics on her iPhone, and then the novelty wore off and the surge of "wanting" faded away.

But my iPhone was on the list of things to get with the extra money in December, so Cindy set December 2nd as the date to go to AT&T. I woke yesterday with a bit of trepidation. "Why," I thought, "do I need an iPhone?" But it was too late. Cindy was in motion and we were going. She even got up early, so we could be there when the doors opened.

An hour later, I was walking out of the store with my new phone, not sure whether to laugh or cry. I got into my car and the Mirimba ring sounded. I fumbled for my bag, found the phone, and tapped the screen.

"Hi," said Cindy. "I wanted to be your first call! Are you excited?"

Well, I'm not sure if that's the word I'd use, but I sat in my car outside the ATT shop and played with my new phone for awhile. First, I called JL to confirm some plans for later in the day. Then I called up my email, and there was a message from Culley that I replied to. "Whoa," I thought. "This is pretty cool."

By the time I got home, I was stoked. I downloaded some applications and got the correct software so I could take pictures with my phone. I'm on a roll. Oh, and I put some iPhone accessories on my Christmas list.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Camera Doesn't Lie

All my life, I've been fairly photogenic. So I have to believe the camera lens which is now telling me that I'm a chunky, thin-haired, dew-lapped grandma. Go figure! (Click on the pictures for the whole truth.)