Crumbs…

You know that pathetic plate of Christmas cookies that linger on your counter top on the 26th of December?  You know what I mean…  those hard sugar cookies that still look edible, but, you know you could chuck them into the woods and knock out a bear one hundred feet away?  Yes, those cookie crumbs.  But, you don’t throw them away because you know if you just pop them in the microwave for three seconds they will soften up a bit and almost taste good?

I hope I am not the only one who hesitates throwing away the last remaining cookies in hopes of keeping the celebration going.  Yes, I do confess I still have a paper plate filled with a few remaining goodies that will soon become housed in the trash can.

These are not the crumbs I am referring to, though.  As I mentioned in my last post, Little Man and crew left late morning on the 26th.  As I wiped my tears I realized we were leaving the following day for Florida.  I looked around the fully decorated house and thought.  I looked outside and thought.  The weather was going to dip into the low digits while we were gone.  We were going to be away from home for ten days.  I knew I had to move, so move I did.

I went outside, removed the garlands, the bows, the lights, the nativity scene.  I sort of reminded myself of the Grinch stealing the Who’s decorations.  I moved quickly and soon it looked barren outside, well, except for the trees and the mulch.  I took everything upstairs to the extra room we have.  I placed everything in piles waiting to be put away.

Next I hit the guest room.  I stripped the decorations off the tree in that room.  I took down every hint of Christmas.  I proceeded to go through each room, removing things on the walls and on top of tables.  The house literally echoed with the absence of the fun things.  I did not stop until evening.  In between I did laundry and packed for our trip.  It was a full day.

I stopped short of taking down the tree in the living room and the tree in the loft.  I knew if I came home to a barren home, it would give me great sadness.  So, now I am home.  I have enjoyed my trees and the lights that I left on our stairs.  It has allowed the celebration to stretch just a bit.

Yesterday I took all the decorations off the living room tree.  It is standing looking dejected.  A mere shadow of its former glory.  Today I will pull out the bins and the boxes and fill them up, removing (hopefully) the piles so neatly organized in our extra room.  I am not looking forward to doing this.  Not that I want to keep Christmas going, I just don’t feel like lugging out the bins and the boxes and actually getting things put away.

I was debating doing any of this today, until, I sat down to look at my blog page.  I sat on the couch, lifted my laptop onto my lap and glanced out of our french doors into the screen room.  There, sitting out there was a huge Christmas crumb.  A Christmas tablecloth on our outdoor table.  A blatant reminder that it is time.  Time to put it all away, time to store all the festivity, time to get myself moving.

So, I will close this out, and go deal with Christmas crumbs.  Maybe I will start a new tradition, maybe I will make some cookies…  I think I may deserve a nice fresh cookie and a cup of tea after I deal with the leftovers of Christmas.   Thanks for stopping by,  Cathi (DAF)

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Looking Back…

In November, I had great plans for writing about our Thanksgiving visit with Little Man and his folks.  I took pictures and I may still use them and write about them, but, somehow, time flew by and nothing was written.

I had a wonderful holiday season.  I was so busy making memories that I did not take time to write about them.  I would not change a thing.  Sometimes it is so much more important to live in the moment and catalog each giggle, each smile, each sigh in your heart than to think of how to express those deep feelings with words.

We spent Thanksgiving with Little Man, like I mentioned.  We stayed with some dear friends and we celebrated Hubby’s birthday all in the same week.  It was a week filled with hugs, kisses, old movies, mini golf, lots of food and the comfort of being with friends who are family and family .  It couldn’t have been better.

We drove home from Thanksgiving and I dove into decorating.  I took my time and I have to say that this year’s decorations were surprisingly beautiful.  My ideas of what I would like to see actually worked!  I was amazed.

We had a couple of parties at the house and the house echoed with laughter and conversations and of course, there was plenty of food.

Christmas saw Little Man and his family here.  From the greeting with my obnoxious ugly Christmas sweater (which Little Man loved) to the tearful parting and good-bye the day after Christmas, our home and hearts were filled to the brim.  Laughter rang out and there was music and old movies and new movies, legos, games, puzzles and old stories filling our home.  These all outshined the decorations.  When your home is filled with loved ones they are the perfect decoration and make the gifts and ribbons and bows pale in comparison.

Shortly after Christmas, Hubby and I traveled to Florida to see Little Miss and her folks.  We spent ten glorious days with them.  Again, the time spent with them was time that we will cherish.  Seeing Little Miss be herself, complete with singing, dancing around, playing with her dolls and her legos, made our hearts glad.  She is full of life and she reminds us how fun it is to be three…  we laughed for ten days straight.

Looking back on this holiday season fills me with such a peace.  I was hugged and kissed by two of the most important people in my life.  Their obvious love for hubby and I melt our hearts.  Being hugged by sometimes sticky hands is the absolute best feeling in the world.  I was spoiled this year with gifts, but the two gifts I cherish most are my grandchildren.  Their smiles, their laughter, their stories, they are the things that make anytime special.

So, Happy New Year!  I hope 2018 holds the best for you all.  My year ended and started in the best possible way,  I look forward to the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

Markers…

This week is Thanksgiving.  A time when we remember.  A time to point out things in our lives that we are grateful for.  A time to give thanks.

Many of the things we give thanks for are situations with family, friends, people.  Activities we may have had or shared experiences that have touched us somehow.  This time of year prompts us to think back, to reflect, and in reflection we respond with gratitude.

Each of us have certain things in our life that we hold on to.  Things become markers in our lives.  We keep them to remind ourselves.

Today I came in from church.  I came in through the garage and as I headed into the kitchen from the mud room I saw a blue leash hanging from one of the coat hooks.  I smiled to myself and took a breath, somehow arguing that is was now time to take that leash down.  It has sat idle for a year now.  Hanging there as a reminder.  I won the argument with myself and the leash still hangs in its spot.  It belongs there.

The leash is not the only marker I have in my home.  For most of the year I have a little ornament that hangs on my pie server in my dining room.  It’s a simple little ornament that says, “Friends are Forever”.  Most of the time I don’t even see it, it has just become a part of my dining room decor.  But, like the leash, it belongs there.

I have a mini Christmas stocking that looks like it has been through the wars.  It hasn’t, it is just old.  I got it the Christmas I was pregnant for the second time.  It hung beside the stocking belonging to my daughter.  It was full of hopes and dreams as I hung it in 1981.  It was the stocking for the child we lost just a few short days after Christmas.  A miscarriage, but somehow it was Tim’s stocking, the name we had picked out for that baby.  It now hangs each year on our tree, another marker of mine.

I have photos on my refrigerator.  They often times drive me to distraction because of the cluttered look they give my fridge, but each are markers for me.  People dear to me and reminders to pray for those in the pictures.

The markers in our life are important.  They become a landmark for the journey of our lives.  Most of the time we don’t see them.  They are there like stop signs and street signs.  We see them, but they do not stop the activities of our daily routine.  They do not cause us to cease our schedules to ponder them.  They are just there.

Until, that is, we do stop to look at them or touch them, or consciously think about them.  Today I thought about the leash.  A melancholy smile came to my face.  The leash that gave excitement to our Shugo.  The leash that held him at stay whenever another dog was walking in the other direction.  The leash that jingled when we went to the door and he would come running, tail wagging, and we waited for his house bark to go out for his walk.  It will remain there, because it belongs there.

The ornament on my pie holder will remain there, because, it reminds me of my friend Dawn.  My walking companion for years.  I will keep it there to remind me of the times we spent circling Chollas Lake, laughing , talking, crying and making certain the squirrels did not get her.  The strength we got from each other to get through her divorce, to get through my moving, to get through a rough day when walking was just not enough, but a piece of pie did help it just a bit more.

The mini stocking that makes me wonder who that child would be as an adult.  But, also knowing that the child born after the miscarriage has given me so many wonderful gifts that I can’t begin to write that all down.  A reminder that plans don’t always go the way you think, but our God is bigger and His way will give healing to broken hearts and bring us unexpected joys.

The pictures on the fridge, are a testament  of a life surrounded by people who have touched your life, some family, some neighbors, but all loved.

Markers are things we hold onto.  As I head into this Thanksgiving week I am grateful for much, but, I think that in this moment, right now, I am thankful for the markers in my life, for they anchor me to where I have been.  They are a foundation in my memory.  They stir my heart with recognition of a happy, full, and rewarding life.

What are some of the markers in your life?  I’d like to hear about them if you would like to share them.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all,  thank you for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

And time marches on….

It’s been two months since I last wrote on my blog.  Truthfully, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long, and I had to check my stats to actually prove to myself that it has been.

Two months, eight weeks, sixty some days, more hours than I care to figure out.  It is time and it has passed by.

In this time I have spent time with friends.  Had meals out with friends.  Cleaned my house several times.  Done a ton of laundry (well, not really, it just seems that way).  Ironed for several hours (which I really do not mind).   I have gone on a women’s retreat at the beach.  I have written and taught a Bible Study.  I have made holiday plans for both Thanksgiving, and Christmas and New Year’s.   I have even addressed most of my Christmas cards and started to plan our neighborhood party.

Time passes.  Seasons fly by.  Our area has been hit with two tornadoes.  The green leaves have changed to bright colors and have started to fade and fall all over.  The last of our tomatoes have been brought indoors and we watch them wondering if they will ripen any more.

The holly berries have appeared and the camellia’s are budding, waiting for the holidays to come so they can start to bloom.  Soon the birds will perch on the holly trees ridding them of the bright red berries.

And time marches on.  Seasons continue to pass.  The sky gets dark earlier and the cold sets in then.  It is the beginning of winter and I am happy for that.  I have started to decorate for Christmas already.  I have never done this this early before and have found myself enjoying it more than I imagined.  Somehow, it brings a sense of settling in.  A sense of preparation for Christmas.  A feeling of not rushing to do it all and trying to grasp the joy of it all.  A feeling of looking forward to not only the gift giving, surge of activity, but of actually thinking of what Christmas is.   I can look at the angels and think of the host of angels that appeared over that manger.  I can look at the trees that are up and decorated and think of the people who will gather around them and be grateful and so thankful for them.

Yes, time is marching on and there is a peace to all of it.  Thanks for stopping by.  I do appreciate it.  Cathi (DAF)

Once Upon A Time at Christmas… Pt 2…

Christmas Day is usually a day that I love to cook.  I try to make our meal time special, the table settings, real napkins, and Christmas china and of course, food that is much different from my normal food.  I love to plan for it and I always want it to be special.

Throughout my life,  I can count on both hands the number of times that I have not had Christmas dinner either at my home or at a friend’s home.  There was the time where we took the bus over to the Yokohama train station and went to the underground mall.  We spent the afternoon shopping and I believe we ate there also, another time, we went to Disneyland for Christmas Day.  It was crowded, but fun.  It was the first year our whole family was not together, so hubby and my oldest ferried me up to a hotel on Christmas Eve and we spent the day at the happiest place on Earth, having a lovely dinner at Downtown Disney.  It was a special day, but, it did not help my loneliness at not having my girls together with me.  I am certain there were other times and adventures, but, honestly, besides those two times that stick out in my mind, I have always had a meal at home.

So, this year….  I could not cook.  The thought of a full septic system and me in my kitchen just could not be reconciled.  I told hubby mid day that I could not fix a meal to my satisfaction.  He said whatever was easiest for me was what we would do.  I spent an hour online trying to find a place that was open.  Nothing was.  Denny’s was open.  So, off we went to Denny’s.  Now, I usually do not mind a meal at Denny’s.  I joked on the way over that moons over my hammy might be a good choice for dinner.  I did not get the laughing response I thought I would.  About that time, I looked over towards a strip mall and commented that the chinese restaurant was open and there were only three cars parked in front of it.  Everyone groaned a bit, but laughed.  We continued towards Denny’s.   We arrived, went in and noticed immediately the long lines.  We then noticed that there were an incredible amount of empty tables.  People were complaining.  Loudly!  No Christmas cheer  in this place.  We sat down and waited to be seated.  We waited for a good half hour, getting to know several people who were also patiently waiting. Eventually, Little Miss got loose from us and wandered towards the  counter area.  My daughter chased after her, coming back to tell us all that we were not going to eat there.  She had glanced in the kitchen and was appalled at the appearance there.  Obviously, being short-staffed, they figured that cleaning the kitchen was not important.  We left.

Once in the car, I once more suggested the Chinese restaurant.  Once more, I was ignored.  We headed to another known place ~ IHOP.  So, off we go.  The wait was long, but, we were at least seated.  We got drinks, and they were refilled when they went down.  We finally ordered and after another hour, our mediocre meal arrived. We were thankful for it, but, I honestly, at that point was thinking, full septic tank or not, I should have figured out something to cook at home.  Little Miss needed to be changed after dinner, so my daughter took her to the restroom to change her.  Upon returning, she reminded us of a couple whom we had talked with at Denny’s.  She had run into her in the restroom and found out that shortly after we left, a fist fight broke out at Denny’s between a staff person and one of those disgruntled customers.  I guess the police were called.  Definitely no Christmas cheer there…

We left the house at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.  We didn’t arrive home until after 7:30.  It was a long time for a disappointing meal, but, we had food in our tummies and for that we were grateful.

On the way home we noticed that the Chinese restaurant was still open.  My daughter, who, was tired from keeping Little Miss occupied and happy,  said, I am going to check and see what the reviews of that place is.  If it is even a 3 star review, I am going to kill myself.  Opening the phone information she read off several 4+ star reviews.  With a mixture of laughter and indigestion we sighed.  We could have had some good Chinese food.  Oh well, I guess that is something to keep in mind in case we ever have another Christmas like this one.

We came home.  Victorious.   We had survived Christmas…   It was not the version I had dreamed of for weeks before it’s arrival, but, a Christmas very different. I know through the years the story of this Christmas will be remembered.  It will be retold.  Years from now it will be a family story that one begins to wonder if it really happened.   For those of us who were there, we will remember.  We may forget what gifts were given.  We may forget the frustration of the day.  We may even forget what started the whole day, but, we will remember how different it was.  We will remember laughing over the stupid things.  We will remember it was a time of bonding.  How can you not bond over septic waste and shop vacs?   Yes, this is what our Christmas was this year.  I think I am looking forward to 2017.  Thanks for stopping by today, have a great few last days of 2016 and may 2017 hold all the joys and blessings your heart can hold.  Cathi (DAF)

Once Upon A Time at Christmas…

A week ago, my daughter (Little Miss’ mom) and her family arrived for Christmas.  It was the first time in a decade that we were able to spend Christmas together.  I was so thrilled!  Her sister, obviously my other daughter,  was supposed to join us, but, at the last moment, couldn’t.  We were disappointed, but, understood.

The days leading up to Christmas were full.  We had fun, visiting, playing with our Little Miss, who is two and filled with giggles and two-year old conversations.   We went shopping for last-minute gifts, for groceries, for nothing in particular.  It was a lovely few days leading up to the 25th.

Christmas Eve we set out gifts and made plans for the following morning.  My daughter made a breakfast casserole in the crock pot and we planned to get up and head to church.  We each had our outfits ready to go, and it was all planned out.  Get up, have a nice breakfast, go to church, come home and open gifts and have a nice dinner.

Christmas Eve we went to bed.  All was quiet…   Hubby and I got up, showered, got ready for church.  Our daughter was getting up and Little Miss’ daddy was kind enough to discover that our guest room bath had standing water in it.  Such a wonderful Christmas gift for us!  We went to the basement and lo!  there was more standing water.

That lovely Christmas breakfast casserole stayed in the crock pot just a bit longer.  Hubby and I changed from our church clothes into work clothes.  So, for the next two hours the guys worked.  Pumping and vacuuming water from the floor.  Turning off water certain places to make certain it didn’t leak. Moving a toilet to make certain it wasn’t the cause of the water.  Discovering that our septic tank decided to be full.  Full on Christmas Day.  Not Christmas Eve…. no…. Christmas Day.  It could not wait another day… no… full on Christmas Day.

So, we called and got an appointment for the next morning to have the tank pumped.  That was good.  It was going to happen soon.  We had water to drink that did not need to be run through the sink.  So, that was great.  But… cooking.  I just could not think about doing that in my kitchen.   This will be in part 2…

We ate some breakfast, although the guys did not have much appetite after clearing the rooms.  I had the fumes of disinfectant lingering in my nose as I scrubbed the floors where the water had been and where the men had walked.  We ate, not truly enjoying the casserole that was delicious.

We read the Christmas story.  Little Miss was a bit distracted, but hubby was trying to salvage something of the day.  The story ended.  I went to the kitchen and decided that mimosas were in order.   And then we opened gifts.  Christmas, as it is spoken of in  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”  did come.  “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… He thought …means a little bit more.”   Christmas came even though the tank overflowed…

Christmas came.  We laughed with one another as we sat in our stinky work clothes.  We hugged and thanked each other even though only half of us managed to shower that morning.  We had each other and the cares and weight of the messy morning did not ruin what happens when family sit around a tree on Christmas morning and share with one another.

Christmas came as it did centuries ago.  Christmas came quietly that day long ago.  That day when our Savior was born.  Christmas came without ribbons, it came without tags.  It continues to come even when the morning is filled with shop vacs and buckets and scrubbing.    I hope your Christmas was special like ours, but, not as eventful as ours turned out.   Cathi

 

Memorial Day…

This weekend is the Memorial Day weekend.  A time where there are picnics and sometimes parades.    My Facebook feed has been filled the past few days with memes of Memorial Day.

It is true that this weekend marks the beginning of summer, of course it does, it is the end of May and June is next, the schools are out and the weather is increasingly warmer and the calendar is in order, May, June, July, August, the summer months.

People do use this weekend to mark the time to start the onslaught of potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs and grilling out.  I think they would do this even if it was not a three-day weekend here.

Yes, there are mega-sales in all the stores.  Retailers, given a reason to grab money will use any three-day weekend to draw crowds and move merchandise.  It’s a given.

The notices on my Facebook feed remind everyone that Memorial Day is different from Veteran’s Day, and Armed Forces Day.  A part of me is glad to see that people are aware of the difference, but, there is a part of me that looks at those memes and says, “Well, duh!”.

Maybe this is because as a child we were taught that there was a reason for Memorial Day.  Maybe because we were the generation born after WWII, with our parents still having the memories of that great war fresh in their minds that we knew this day was a somber reminder of those who gave their lives in order for our lives to be secure.

Growing up in the midst of the Viet Nam war made an impression on me.  Each Memorial Day my dad would take us for a walk to a cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony.  A time where there were old men speaking in hushed tones, a gun salute, bugles playing.    This all crept into my heart and resided there.  There was a reverence for those who had fallen.  This also made me wonder why I felt like the war in Viet Nam was not getting the same rep.  I confess there were often times after seeing the newspaper and television reports that I could agree with the protestors.  The draft was a huge topic growing up.  I had mixed feelings on that until, as a senior and dating my hubby that I realized he could be drafted.

Hubby and I talked about the draft all the time.  His friend had a number that was below number 25, he was certain to be called up.  Hubby’s number was in the 300’s.  About that time, the draft was ended.   His friend stayed home.  Hubby enlisted.

To many people, it appeared that hubby served in peace time.  A time where there was no danger, no difficulties.  But, for the first 15 years of his enlistment, his commanders would recommend that they not wear their uniforms off base, as military was not accepted.  There were still too many harsh feelings concerning the Viet Nam vets.  I was always proud of the uniform he wore.  I was proud of the job he did.

My personal belief is that each generation has a duty to recognize and respect those who have served.  I also think that the term ‘peace-time’ is a fallacy. There is no such thing as peace when each country has a military to defend its borders. The men and women who choose to serve this great country of ours deserve respect.  They are going places and doing things most of us would not do.  The military does not question, they go.

I have a picture of my dad and his brothers all in their uniforms during WWII.  They stand together proudly, it is a wonderful picture.  They were a sampling of the brave men who defended us during that war.  They are all gone now, as many of their generation are.

Now we will begin to see those who served and fought in Viet Nam  start to dwindle in numbers.  Hopefully they will finally get the acknowledgement that they answered a call, they served when it was not popular, and some of them returned to a nation that was not grateful.  I pray that those who were lost in this war get the respect and honor they deserve.

Yes, Memorial Day is a day that raises many questions for many people.  Today, this weekend, there will be families who will receive a phone call or a knock on the door with terrible news that a loved one has been lost in action.  It is for these families, like generations of families before them , that we stop on Monday and remember.  We need to solemnly stop and remember why we can laugh and swim and picnic and eat a full meal in peace.  We can swim and go to the beach and not worry.    We can live in this country because of the men and women who gave their lives for ours.

I know this has been a soap-box post from me, and now, I will step down from it grateful  for what I have because of those who gave the ultimate gift.  DAF