Wednesday, December 31, 2008
That is how 2009 will begin for me. It is my 62nd New Year's Day. This is the year I will begin to collect Social Security, and Jim & I hope to make a long-anticipated trip to Europe this year and perhaps another trip across the US, taking a different route and seeing different things.
This is a good time of life.
We measure so much by beginnings and endings, and yet, truly, time is unimportant. Each day is a gift, each smile, each embrace, each touch of a hand - whether it's a hand marked by age or a hand still sticky with a cookie, each sunrise, each rising or sleeping, each is its own precious and special moment.
I really never make New Year's resolutions. When I was younger - a teenager - I would draw up lists of things that seemed to fill the bill for resolutions, but my heart was never in it. Beyond the vague "I really need to lose weight," it has always seemed to me that this great creation of mankind - time - is really immaterial to our lives. It drags on, it speeds by, it escapes our notice, or it becomes all we can think about. And yet all we really have is each moment.
This year, I plan to appreciate the moments. I hope I can live my days without anticipating what is to come tomorrow, without wishing away the moment I am in.
My mother used to tell me that I was wishing my life away. You know the wishes, I'm sure: I wish my birthday/Christmas/prom would hurry up and get here. I wish it was time for vacation. I wish my kids were older and I could __________.
Well, my kids are older. Adults, every one of them. And sometimes I long for those far-away times when I could hold them on my lap and listen to their dreams. The days that I muddled through in a haze, or wished away in anticipation or frustration, each of those days is gone, never to return.
I hope to look at each moment in 2009 with the eyes of a child, as a unique event that will never happen again in quite the same way. I know, even as I write this, that I will fail in this expectation; it's the way I'm made - perhaps the way each of us is made. But I'm going to try.
And so I will end 2008 secure in knowing that, across the hall, Addison is curled up with his blankie and his Winnie-the-Pooh. I will think of him and of all my grandsons - Andrew, David, Matthew, and Adin - as they embark on all the hopes, joys, disappointments, successes, and even failures of this life - and hope that they can find within themselves a lifetime of seeing the new in each day, each moment.
I wish for you, everyone, a bright and beautiful 2009, beginning with tomorrow's sunrise!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Since Ben, Briana, and Addison are hoping to head East tomorrow to spend Christmas with Briana's family, it was a nice opportunity to have a few hours together prior to Christmas. Jim plowed his way out of the driveway, using his truck bumper as a plow, and brought my dear ones to me. After work, Ben made his way to our house and took his wife and son back home. It was a treasured interlude in a snowy, cold, and otherwise quiet day at home for just the two of us.
The worst of the storm seems to be over, although more showshowers are forecast, and temperatures are said to be on the rise. We will still have snow on the ground for Christmas (and I love the idea of that!), and the "kids" will spend the rest of the holiday in a winter wonderland on the north slope of Mt. Hood. I will miss spending Christmas with them, but know how fortunate I am to spend time with them for most of the holidays and am glad that Briana's parents and siblings will have time to be with each other for this rare snow holiday.
The photos included here show the progression of snow over the past week (December 14, 19, and 22). Our front yard decorations are flamingoes, and I've been intentional about taking photos of them to show the increasing depth of the snow. For a Florida gal, this is truly a winter treat!
Merry Christmas to all!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Good friends and gingerbread houses - or Why Good Housekeeping Will Never Hire Me As Their Christmas Decorations Editor
Two such friends are our neighbors, Mary and Gary. Although Mary & Gary don't have grandchildren yet, they are very indulgent of Ada and Addison, and the attraction is mutual. Addison has been known to follow them to the bathroom!
So Mary, in what was either a gesture of extreme kindness or a diabolical plot, brought two gingerbread house kits over a couple of weeks ago - one for each kiddo. All she asked was the opportunity to see the finished products. I, who had never put a gingerbread house together, was charmed by the thought. I had briefly considered getting one kit for the two of them to share, but dismissed the idea when I realized that coordinating kid visits at this time of year was going to be problematic. Mary, of course, was untroubled by the mechanics of such coordination.
So when we unexpectedly had Ada overnight last Thursday, I seized the opportunity. I knew that I would be babysitting Addison on Friday evening, and could arrive early enough that he and I could work on his house; Ada and I could decorate hers before I left.
What I learned about gingerbread houses:
- It takes longer than the recommended 30 minutes for the walls and roof construction to set; overnight is better - and may be mandatory!
- Gumballs do not work well as roof decoration unless an adult is willing to hold them down for 10-15 minutes EACH while the icing sets up enough to hold.
- Gumballs DO make a good cap for the peak of the roof, but if you press down too hard, the roof will start to slide.
- Neither gumballs nor jellybeans are recommended decoration for the sides of the house; gravity takes over even more quickly on the vertical than it does on the slope.
- Not all kids are thrilled with sticky hands and fingers, but all of them are thrilled at the sight of unlimited bite-sized candies!
- A gingerbread house is a good opportunity to get rid of leftover Halloween candies if you have a creative mind.
- There's really nothing quite like the memories created when you decorate a gingerbread house with grandchildren. Some of them are even good ones!
But in the final analysis, it was fun and the kids were proud of their creations. Grandpa observed while Ada and I labored, and Addison's mommy actually got into the act and was quite creative with candy canes and mints.
So, thank you, Mary, for the gingerbread houses! I'm including pictures so you can see the finished products. It was very thoughtful of you and I can hardly wait till you and Gary have grandchildren so I can return the favor.
I'm thinking drums...
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sears (formerly Sears, Roebuck) far exceeds the standards and requirements of providing for their employees who are called up to active duty in the military. In addition to holding their jobs for them, as required by law, Sears pays the difference between what they make in the military and what they earn as a Sears employee; they accrue to them all benefits - vacation time, raises, bonuses - as if they were still working for the company.
At a time when corporations are "rewarding" their employees with layoffs, Sears deserves not only our gratitude but our shopping loyalty. This is truly a company that understands that loyalty is a two-way street and one that epitomizes the spirit of this season all year long!
For more on their programs, be sure to read this. And don't forget to read about their Heroes at Home Program as well.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Ada and Addison were secure and joyous in the heart of family and friends, engagingly "clinking" their glasses of bubble juice and saying "cheers" to each other before drinking, and using toy badminton racquets as guitars. The adults ate, drank, laughed, decorated the tree, took turns hiding my wine glass (an annual event), and then chronicled it all on the blackboard in the kitchen, where it will (mostly) remain until next year.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
One of our simple pleasures is the morning paper. By the time I arrive downstairs in the morning, Jim has usually been up for an hour, the coffee is ready to brew, the morning news is on, the fire is burning in the woodstove, and Jim is in the early clues of the daily crossword puzzle. For the next hour-and-a-half or so, we drink coffee, read the paper and pay attention to the weather forecast. We also occasionally get updates from t.v. on news stories and make random guesses at the answer to the daily question.
Neither of us is an avid sports fan, so that section of the newspaper almost always gets short shrift. Jim isn't crazy about human interest stories, while I devour them along with all the local news. I usually just skim the news from Far Away Places With Strange-Sounding Names, but Jim stays current on all the international events. We both love the editorial pages, the comics, and The Edge.
Throughout this very special time, one of us will interrupt the other's reading with a tidbit that we think might be of particular interest, or if we recognize a name. Sometimes the news will elicit a bit of personal history from one or the other of us. In short, our morning news is a shared activity. Some days there's so much sharing that it takes a couple of hours to get through the paper; other days there's so little of interest that we're done in an hour. Whichever it is, it's shared, special time that means a lot to both of us.
But I think it's going away.
The newspaper is getting smaller (except for the Christmas ads!), and more and more often there is a teaser, followed by "for the rest of the story, logon to www.OregonLive.com/something ." Now I have to point out that I am no technophobe. I love computers. I've built them, repaired them, upgraded them; I've written programs, been a beta tester, and designed and published web pages. I've been on the internet since before there were graphics. When I'm not reading, I can frequently be found with my laptop - well, in my lap! And I read the occasional news story, forwarding interesting tidbits to the people in my life.
But it's a solitary activity, not shared in the sense of reading a newspaper together. And sometimes I want to read more of the story, but not badly enough to drag my laptop downstairs. And by the time I've finished the paper, I'm usually not in the mood to look up some story that briefly caught my interest - I have things to do!
I know that a lot of people enjoy getting their news online, and more and more people choose to not subscribe to a daily newspaper. I understand that the costs of ink, paper, labor, and production are all reaching prohibitive levels and that newspapers are looking at more cost-effective ways to disseminate information. I'm just sorry that this time-honored tradition of news is falling out of favor, and that it will soon fall by the wayside.
I used to think that it wouldn't happen in my lifetime, but I'm slowly coming to accept that it's going to happen a lot sooner than I'd like. I think "USA Today" will soon be the only way to get our news in print, and I think that's too bad. I love the feel of the paper in my hands. I love the unexpected surprises I sometimes get from stories I probably would have missed online. I love the activity of reading something I can fold up and swat a fly with or balance on my knees while I eat a bowl of cereal.
Somehow, I just don't get that same feeling from a computer!