Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Savoring 2014

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
I love these words that Tara shared with us today:
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
― T.S. Eliot

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  The hurry scurry "I'll never get it all done" feeling has passed because I never get it all done.  I'm trying to follow Jone's advice to let go of unrealistic expectations.  I am pausing to savor the last few days of the year - watching Call the Midwives Holiday Special, going to the movie with my husband, talking to my children on the phone, sitting in the dark looking at the Christmas tree lights, reading the newspaper, taking a nap in the middle of a busy day, sharing a meal with friends, listening to the audio book The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, visiting my new friends - Bei, Li, and their beautiful daughter,Vivian, and pausing at Slater Park for a beautiful Christmas Day sunset.  

Gift from my daughter, Sara
She has a matching one!
Honoring my OLW (One Little Word) for 2014 has led me to slow down, to be present, and to savor many precious moments.  Soon I'll choose a new word, but for now I'm savoring year's end for two more days.  My favorite definition for savor is #10 in my Random House College Dictionary (a high school graduation gift from BFF's mom & dad that I still use):  "to give oneself to the enjoyment of."

Monday evening I gave myself the enjoyment of revisiting the photos I've taken this past year.  I wanted to share one photo from each month.  It was delightful to savor the year by strolling (scrolling) through my photos, but deciding on one photo a month was challenging.  It was impossible for me to narrow the 137 photos I flagged to 12.  Forgive me if I fudged with a few extra! 
I pause to savor
earth's magnificent glory 
quiet peace descends

-Ramona Behnke
January 15, 2014 - Slater Park
February 9, 2014
March 11, 2014
March 22, 2014
March 27, 2014 - Slater Park
March 27, 2014 - Slater Park
April 21, 2014
April 28, 2014 - Slater Park
May 19, 2014
June 6, 2014 - Stewart Park
taken during son's visit to WA
July 13, 2014 - Homestead Park
July 20, 2014
August 4, 2014 - Ithaca Falls
taken while visiting daughter in NY
August 10, 2014
August 27, 2014
September 17, 2014
September 18, 2014
September 20, 2014
October 19, 2014
October 23, 2014
November 1, 2014
November 14, 2014
November 25, 2014
December 1, 2014 - Slater Park 
December 25, 2014 - Christmas Day sunset at Slater Park

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Celebrate this Week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
                                    A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Responded to a Twitter message from Carol nudging me to participate in her Finding Fall Gallery - I have hundreds of fall photos, but had never settled down to pen a poem. Thanks for the brevity of haiku, a bit of inspiration, Carol's magic with words and images, and her willingness to work with this procrastinator, I was able to join the gallery at the midnight hour.  I love that my simple words pointed us to the Light of this season.  Be sure to stop by the Finding Fall Gallery to see this celebration of autumnal majesty.  Now it's time to start working on my contribution for Winter Whisperings!

2.  Survived my first Christmas with no kids home - Traveling to Utah and spending a few days with Blake, Stefi, and the Siddoway clan was a bright spot in my December.  Our children's nativity play on Christmas Eve afternoon made me think of all the youngsters I've watched participate in this yearly tradition at our church.  Lance made Grandma Wyrill's rolls, and I made our traditional cranberry salad for our Christmas Eve dinner.  FaceTime visits with both kids on Christmas Day helped to bridge the miles.  Then it was off to see "The Imitation Game."  I loved checking in with my siblings on Christmas Day (except for Velma who was celebrating her Christmas birthday with her boys).  We had a long chat the day after Christmas.  Ryan joined us for dinner, games, and laughter on Friday.  Today it's off to see a play with friends.

3.  Renewed my Choice Literacy membership - I've been trying to cut back on my "teaching" expenditures since I retired last June.  When it was time to renew my Choice Literacy membership last spring, I decided that it was one luxury that I could live without.  I still got the weekly newsletter with several free articles, but when my friend Christy Rush Levine's article was posted in the subscriber section, I yearned to be able to read it.  This morning, I gave myself a belated Christmas gift and yes, I read Christy's articles first.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"To wake, and worship, and rejoice..."

"That music kindly bids us wake:
It calls us, with an angel’s voice,
To wake, and worship, and rejoice;"

Christmas morning serendipity -  discovering Anne Bronte's poem, "Music on Christmas Morning" at Writer's Almanac! 

And a giant thank you for Carol's nudge on Dec. 22!  I'm glad  to be a part of her Finding Fall Gallery.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Empty Santa

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
 Two Writing Teachers.
"Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. "  
- from the short story "Eleven" by Sandra Cisnernos
My little wooden dolls grow ever larger year by year, each with each its own precious memories. Today I reach back to a share a memory of my fifth Christmas.

I wrote this poem when I was teaching 7th and 8th grade English in Tulsa at Monte Cassino School (1982 –84).  When I asked my students to write, I would also write and this remembrance of a special Christmas was the result of one of those assignments.  My mother's church friends became our secret elves that year.  


It was Christmas, different from any before.
Mom was recovering from a heart attack.

There were no bustling trips to town for Christmas gifts. 
Money was scarce and hospital bills high
in our family of five:                                       
big sister – 14,
big brother – 8,
and me – 5. 
Home wasn’t filled with traditional smells of Christmas baking.
Yet we were happy, Mom was with us. 

Then one day the magic came. 
Our barren tree was laden with gifts. 
Big brother and I danced with glee. 
There were gifts for everyone. 
We could scarcely wait for Christmas morn. 

One box I remember in particular.
A round oatmeal box decorated to look like Santa
And filled with homemade cookies.
The lid just lifted off, wasn’t even taped. 

I don’t remember too much of that Christmas morn. 
Big brother got cars.
I got crocheted house shoes.
And everyone got
An empty Santa!
           - Ramona Scifres Behnke

Have a very Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday and enjoy exploring your wooden dolls that fit one inside the other.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Celebrate this Week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
                                    A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Finding the Lost Ornament(s) - I worry that organized folks have so many less moments of celebration in their lives.  This week I put a cute gift tag from a friend on the bulletin board AND found the ornament my brother had given me when I visited him in November.   I also found two other favorite ornaments that I hung on the board last year because they deserve year round attention!  

2.  A phone call from Denise - We chatted for almost half an hour before my flight to Utah.  I'm glad that we stay connected via Facebook, Instagram, and email, but nothing beats hearing a dear friend's voice on the phone.  Well, visiting in person beats that, but when you move across the country from family and friends those in-person visits are rare treasures.  

3.  The Siddoway Christmas Party - This is our first Christmas without any kids home, so Blake and Stefi invited me to join them in Utah for a few days.  The extended family Christmas party started at 5:30 and lasted until 10:30.  The Siddoways party hearty! We gathered at one house for delicious food, a birthday celebration, great visiting, and concluded with a musical concert.  Then the party moved to Stefi's Grandma's house for general bedlam that included unwrapping a gift while wearing goggles and mittens, more sharing of musical talents, and the right/left candy bar game.  We sang carols together and concluded with "Silent Night" and "Still, Still, Still."  Perfect way to end the evening - right?  Actually this was followed by spirited dancing to "Calypso Christmas," a unique Christmas song recorded by Stefi's Uncle Mark - here's the song on iTunes!  

4.  Gift wrap from a stranger - I stepped off the elevator as another woman struggled to balance multiple packages and her luggage. I stepped back on to hold the door open for her.  When I commented that I needed to purchase some gift wrap, she gave me her roll with the words, "I no longer need this.  I'm headed home to California today.  You can have it."   What a spontaneous gift of sharing!  And tonight I used her gift to wrap my gifts.

5.  Time with Blake - We went to Red Iguana with Stefi, Amy, and Barb my first night here.  We spent Saturday shopping at King's English (an independent bookstore), Target (found a cover for my phone), and TJ Maxx.   Blake introduced me to In-N-Out, one of his favorite burger places.  I love spending time with my favorite (and only) son!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Poetry Friday

Welcome to Poetry Friday, a weekly celebration for poets and poetry lovers.  Be sure to get your taste of poetry love today at Buffy's blog.  Thank you, Buffy, for hosting our gathering during this very busy time of year. 

One of my favorite Christmas books is a small anthology of poems, Christmas Blessings, collected by June Cotner.  I'm at the airport waiting to join Blake and Stefi for a few days of their Utah Christmas with Stefi's family.  I wanted to share this poem today before I hop on my flight.  A last minute gate change sent me by Beecher's, and I had to stop for mac and cheese.  Best comfort food ever!

For Christmas

May you have joy
in the mad rush
of preparation:
may you know peace
in the tiny margins
of time around
the busy days;
may you have star-shine
in clear night skies
for looking at:
may you have silence
now and then;
and above all-
beyond all else-
may you have love
to give
and to receive.

- Elizabeth Searle Lamb

Dear blogging friends, I wish you joy, peace, star-shine, silence, and love "...in the tiny margins of time around the busy days..."  Enjoy your well-deserved break!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Story Time!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
Take one large collection of Christmas books
Mix in two young mothers

Sprinkle in four attentive young ladies

Blend in several Christmas books

Shake in two active siblings
Add a picture to color
Find the cookie jar

Choose a placemat, mug, and plate

 Add one cup of hot chocolate adorned with peppermint or plain marshmallows
Serve with monster cookies

Embellish with more stories for a 
perfect December afternoon!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Celebrate this week!

Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
                                    A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Hot Fudge - Thursday night was our annual night of revelry.  We were worried about the high winds that were predicted to arrive during our party.  We were lucky that they held off for a few hours.  As I finished up the fudge, I asked who wanted hot fudge.  I poured it into small Tupperware cups and returned to the task at hand.  I listened to murmurs of approval around the room as each enjoyed a bit of hot fudge.  Never tried it?  It's an essential part of the fudge making process at our house!  

2.  Progress on the Kitchen Project - We have a start date, the first week of February.  We made a decision on the countertops.  Now it's on to backsplash options.  Lots of gratitude for my husband who nudges me along this path (decision-making is never easy for me).  

2.  Christmas Countdown - I'm continuing to enjoy the daily devotionals that focus on the Savior shared by my daughter through the miracle of technology.  I like knowing that mother, daughter, and daughter-in-law are savoring these words together each day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Poetry Friday

Welcome to Poetry Friday, a weekly celebration for poets and poetry lovers.  Be sure to get your taste of poetry love today at These Four Corners, Paul Hankins' blog.  Thank you, Paul, for hosting this Friday's gathering.

Inspired by Amy's nativity poem and Mary Lee's haikus, 
I pen a haiku and share a picture of our  family nativity puzzle. 
Stationary watch
kept over this gift of light
hope for a dark world!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Come Stroll with Me!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
One of the perks of retirement is more time to do what I want to do.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to serve as a host at our Festival of the Nativities, a combined effort by many congregations in our area.  While I have attended the festival in the past, I've never felt that I could spare the time to host. It was a delight to spend my first shift in the main hall and then spend my last two hours in the Children's Nativity Room before staying to enjoy a performance by the Total Experience Gospel Choir.  This event is free and open to the public.  As a host, I learned a few important details . . .
# of nativities displayed - 544
# of Christmas trees - more than 100
# of poinsettias - 350 (give or take a few)  
and the location of some important items on the scavenger hunt created for families with children.
I spent a large portion of my time in the main hall looking for zebras in nativities.  There were supposed to be four, but I found five.  Once I started looking for zebras, I was delighted to find many other unusual animals in scenes from a variety of countries.  Because I selected an afternoon and an early evening shift where they had the greatest need for hosts (but also the lightest traffic), I took advantage of the time to snap photos of some favorite scenes to share on Facebook, Twitter, and with my fellow slicers.
A moose and a polar bear
An elephant
Bolivian nativity with a llama
Carved from one piece of wood
My favorite - Raku pottery from South Africa
with a giraffe, alligator, monkey, hippo, & others
Created out of horsehair, from Chile
One of the five zebras in the main hall
Cowpokes in the children's room!
A tiny scene on a tree stump
Animals at the manger - for Lee Bennett Hopkins, Helen Cann,
and all the poets who contributed to Manger.