Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stargiving . . .

The author of this poem, Ann Weems, passed away this year.  She was known as the Presbyterian Poet Laureate.  I would never have known about her save for a dear friend in Colorado, D - the wife of my former pastor there.  We were Church Ladies - but it was the 80's so I usually think of us more like Renegade Church Ladies, doing things in new ways with new eyes and open hearts.  There was a group of us, and the core of those of us who are left are still in touch with each other all these years later.  Can't even tell you how happy that makes me.

We've been with each other through some wild times in all of our lives - life-altering life and death kinds of times.  Some happy.  Some devastating.  And always, there we have been - and are - with and for each other with comfort and strength and random acts of kindness and prayer.  I am the only one who is no longer in Colorado, and sometimes that's hard.  Many is the time I have wished for the chance to spend some time in their presence.  They still regularly have lunch with each other, and even though the church we attended together so long ago no longer exists, the bonds we forged with each other back then have never faltered.  I've been present for one or two lunches when I've been able to get to Colorado, and they've promised this year that they will FaceTime with me so I can be there at the next lunch, too.  I can hardly wait.

The older I get, the more I realize that the most important present (Christmas or otherwise) isn't a present you can hold in your hand - it is the presence I share in my friends' and family's lives and theirs in mine.  There is nothing more important than being loved and accepted and encouraged.  That spark of laughter, and the comfort and joy that only those who know us well can provide - these things are to be cherished and never taken lightly. 

And so this poem, from the book Kneeling in Bethlehem, has stayed with me all this time.  And every time I read it or share it, I am taken to a very special time and place in my own history, thanks to D all those years ago.  Thanks, D :-)

Happy Christmas, Everyone.

Stargiving, by Ann Weems

What I'd really like to give you for Christmas
   is a star . . .
Brilliance in a package.
   something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
   or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
   something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
   something you could hold in your hand,
   something for wonderment,
   something for pondering,
   something that would always remind you of
   God's Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God's for giving,
   and I must be content to give you words and wishes and
      packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
   as radiant as the Star
   that announced the Christ Child's coming,
   and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
   that has been given to me,
   ignited countless times by others
   who have knelt in Bethlehem's light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Greetings . . .

Such a kerfuffle . . . This seems to come up every year and it seems more sharp this year . . .

If I know what you celebrate - I'll wish you that.  But if I don't know, I alternate between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays:

Alrighty then - Onward  :-)

It seems I've missed most of December.  It's Christmas Eve.

For the last week I've been laid low with a cold - but for the first time in a very long time, it's just a cold.  If you don't have asthma, that's not going to mean too much to you.  But if you do have asthma, you are probably doing this to me:

The rest of you are scratching your heads.  :-D

I spent most of 2015 catching every stupid bug that hit the street - and it was never "just a cold."  It might have started that way, but it inevitably ended up as an infection in either my sinuses or my lungs.  I think I had three or maybe four z-pacs that year.  My asthma med was readjusted in August of that year (the last z-pac of 2015.  I had one in March of this year, but that's it.

Yes, I'm still sniffly, and yes I'm coughing - but the cough is productive.  My body is actually fighting this off on its own.  This is a big deal - a really big deal.  :-)


It's also telling me that things are back on a much more even keel for me.  I'm grateful for this, and it gives me a good base to move into the new year, health-wise.  This is a huge relief - seriously.

I talked about this awhile ago, but I'd like to do it again.  Let's look at the last two years or so . . .

  • August 2014 - my asthma controller med dosage is cut in half because I'd been doing so well.
  • November 2014 - Car accident
  • December 2014 - horrid respiratory infection (which I attributed to stress from the accident) requiring a z-pac.
  • February - May 2015 - construction
  • June 2015 - cataract surgery, both eyes.
  • June 2015 - another infection and another z-pak
  • August 2015 - really bad place with my breathing.  This is when we discovered that my dosage was off.  BP was 145/80 (not normal for me).  Z-pac AND prednisone, and a correction of my controller med.
  • December 2015 - just as I was starting to feel normal again, my right shoulder starting hurting out of nowhere.
  • February 2016 - annual physical, shoulder still terrible.
  • April 2016 - start very painful PT for my shoulder
  • June 2016 - shoulder surgery
  • June-September 2016 - constant PT for my shoulder.
And now it's December, and I seem to have turned the corner.  My shoulder is probably 95% of normal mobility.  I'll take that.  They say things come in threes - I would agree.  Car accident, eye surgery, shoulder surgery.  That's a lot to have happen in a two-year period of time.  Every time I would start to feel better, something else would land.  But since September, I've been OK, until this cold - but it's just a cold :-)

Hot Dog!

I just baked four dozen chewy Mole Asses (that's molasses, to you!  :-D) cookies to take to my cousin's tomorrow, and I will make a lasagna in the morning to take with, too.  I made a mistake in the cookie dough, but it didn't seem to cause any real problem (I added sugar to the flour mixture by mistake).  Here is the first dozen going in to the oven. 

I was crossing my fingers  :-D

They turned out fine.  I ate three of them to be sure.


I wish you and yours the happiest of every holiday that you celebrate  :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016


How can one little nose - the littlest part of my entire body - make So. Much. Snot.

Seriously.  How?????

That is all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brrrrr . . .

It's FREEZING.  I need to laugh today.  Maybe you do, too.


That is all. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-Up . . .

A potpourri of stuff as I wrap up the week  . . .  :-)

I forgot to title my post yesterday  :-D  And I'm sure you've noticed that I'm not posting quite so often.  Now that NaBloPoMo is over, I'm kicking back a bit  :-)

Here's what's going on here today:

Yes, it's the first snow of the season.  It's slightly above freezing, and the ground is not cold yet.  But it's absolutely coming down  :-)  This is what it looked like about 30 minutes later:

Whether it sticks or not is anyone's guess.  I kind of doubt it, because it's going to be back up near 40 on Monday and Tuesday - but it looks like I'm going to have to break out a hat and gloves by Thursday . . .  Winter might finally be here.

Here is something I have learned:  If you use a water bottle - like a SIGG or Klean Kanteen, you should invest in the bottle brush.  This is the SIGG bottle that I keep at work.  It's liter size. I rinse it out with soapy water from time to time there, but God only knows what's been growing in there over time . . .  I figured it was time to bring it home on Friday, and I put it in the dishwasher yesterday.  It didn't get it clean.  So, I broke out the brush, and that made all the difference.

Here's a little semi-mini that I have been trying to grow for forever.  It's not that it's hard to grow, but this plant,  Sassy Sister -

is a sport of a plant called Irish Flirt, which is basically this plant with a white/green blossom.  I have grown both in my time as a grower, but Irish Flirt is probably one of my least favorite violets.  In fact, when I was a brand new student judge - I think I was taking my second or third exam (back in the day in SoCal, judging school was offered every year and once I started, I took every school I could).  The teacher was the wonderful Barbara Elkin. 

In the final part of the test, you had to actually judge two plants, and this was one of the two.  I learned a very important lesson that day - just because you don't particularly care for a plant personally, you cannot judge it more harshly than you would a plant you do "like." In fact, as judges we are taught to remove "like" from our vocabulary when we are judging.

Anyway - I judged it and turned in my test to Barbara.  I was sitting quietly, feeling pretty proud of myself, when all of a sudden I heard, "Annie!"  I looked up and Barbara beckoned me forward, handed me my test back, and said, "I think you'd better take another look at that plant." 

Because of my own bias, I had judged it as a red-ribbon plant when it was a blue.  Good lesson taught by a master.  :-)

When I say I've tried to grow this plant forever, it's only because I would get a leaf and would put it down, nurture it, and wait for it to bloom.  And every time, it would bloom white/green and I would have Irish Flirt on my hands.  :-D   If I'm not mistaken, I actually bought a plantlet of Sassy Sister back in April when I drove down to judge in St. Louis.  I brought it home and took some leaves from it and crossed my fingers. 


I've managed to read a few books and watch some Netflix in the past few weeks.  Yay Me!  I've also realized that I don't think I kept up very well with this particular chronicle.

I just finished The Fiery Cross, which is the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  I listened to it on Audible.  This week I started listening to the next book - which is finally now one I didn't read initially, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

In November I read The Fifth Rule of Ten.  This series is written by Gay Hendricks and Tinker LindsayIt's about a private investigator who used to be a Buddhist monk!  It's really good!

In November I also finished a book called Black Rain.  This was one of my Amazon Prime Kindle First books (you get one free one every month).  It took me awhile to get into the story, but I eventually found myself completely sucked in.  It's set in a dystopian near future.  A very interesting story.

I've started a book, While You Were Mine.  It's set in the 1940's, one of my favorite time periods.  So far the story seems a little formulaic - I guess we'll see how it goes  :-)  Another Kindle First book.

The book links are to my Goodreads pages - I don't know if they will work, so if they don't, please feel free to let me know and I'll go back to linking in Amazon.

From Netflix - I'm currently watching a Canadian series called Murdoch Mysteries.  I wanted to watch because the star, Canadian actor Yannick Bisson,  was in Joan Anderson's film, Year by the Sea and I liked him very much.  The show is a police procedural - set in 1895 (when the series begins)

I watched both Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen - thrillers with Gerard Butler.  The latter was very much a shoot-em-up - well, they both are, but the second seemed like that's about all it was, but the premises of both films were interesting, and I liked them both.

Central Intelligence - with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart.  Not my normal film choice, but it was funny and I really liked it.  Just the visual of the two of them is pretty hilarious.

Eddie the Eagle - great story of a young man who became the British Olympic ski jumping champion in the 1988 Winter Olympics!

I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal - a documentary.  Very powerful and very important.

Miracles from Heaven - with Jennifer Garner.  It's the story of a young girl who is cured after a bad accident.  It was uplifting.

It's still snowing . . .  Have a little 70's flashback . . .

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I can't believe it's already 1:15.  I chose to not go with my cousins to the Garfield Park Conservatory today, and I'm actually still in my jams . . .  but the kitchen is starting to look a little more normal.  I had stuff sitting in the sink since Thanksgiving - stuff that couldn't go in the dishwasher.  That's embarrassing to admit, but I was so happy to have my stay-cation, that I took a vacation from EVERYTHING.

So, this morning, I finished loading the dishwasher and ran it.  And then I unloaded it and put everything away (Yes!!).  While it was running, I washed, dried, and put away the stuff that had been lingering in the sink.  I also mixed up four gallons of plant water.  I do that in two's  :-)  I used up two gallons filling all the reservoirs.  I really waited too long this time and a number of the plants were very unhappy.  But everything is watered, and groomed, including the two streps that really needed to have some leaves removed and spent blossom stalks cut, and I have two gallons of plant water in reserve so that I can hopefully keep up with things a little better.

Next I'm tackling the sunroom, which isn't too bad, but I've been a little lax in the "put stuff away" category.  Same in the dining room - I was wrapping presents in there and I need to get stuff back into the wrapping box and put it down in the basement.  It used to live under my bed until I got the new bed, which has a support in the middle now.

Does anyone know a great tutorial for duplicate stitch?  I'm really having a tough time with it on a project I'm doing. 

I FINALLY got rid of my StupidPhone!!  I was never happy with the android phone I got as my first SmartPhone.  I am now in possession of an iPhone, and I couldn't be happier!!  Yay!!

That's about all the news from here  :-)

I don't know if I've shared this before.  It was the best cut on the album, and the only one I ripped and put into my iTunes.  It's not Christmas, but I like it :-)