Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Day Musings -- The Promise

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-3

This is the first Sunday of Advent. As a Quaker there is no liturgy, to speak of, but I am enthralled with traditions that give fullness to the Word and Promise. Thus, I love Advent and all that comes with it. Our Advent meal, which will culminate with the lighting of the first purple candle symbolizing HOPE, will be a simple potato soup with toasted and buttered homemade bread. It is a simple meal, but one that we have created with our own hands, from raising the potatoes to making the bread. There is much to be grateful for.

Then, we will watch our fourth movie in the "Thirty Days of Christmas" movie-thon tradition we established when we first married. Each night we select one Christmas movie, starting with "Miracle on 34th Street" and ending, of course, with "It's a Wonderful Life." We have already enjoyed "A Christmas Carole" and I have resolved to read the story in its entirety this season.

Very little decorating has started. With the "natural" Christmas theme for the Airman this year, I don't want to start too early. Next weekend, however, we will begin with the porch and outdoors and move our way in. After my funk from last year, no Dundee cakes were made nor tree decorated, I have resolved to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get 'er done. And, that has made all the difference. I want the Airman's time home to be warm, loving, comforable, and, most of all, peaceful. Knowing he'll be gone next year and with all the stupidness going on in the world, I want to treasure every single moment.

What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All In Your Hand

Can you guess what came in this yesterday?

Getting closer....

A genuine, five-piece Hollywood Loom!
Made in 1936, the instructions state:
"Weave in your hand!
Blouses, hats, purses, afghans can all be woven right in your hand!"

This is what was made... lavendar sachets!
They are going in the Etsy shop for Christmas presents.
Talk about delicious!

One of the things I loved most about the package was the lovely note inserted from the seller. There is nothing quite like a handwritten note, is there? Can you remember waiting for the  mail and hoping something would be there for you? I had penpals all over the country and looked forward to seeing the stamps and postmarks.

As a scholar, I regret we are going to more electronic communication. How will we ever know what folks were thinking and writing in 100 years? My friend Corrie writes me letters even though we live just a few miles apart. As a seven-year-old, she loves the process of writing, stamping, and mailing the letter. As a 55-year-old, I love getting 'em!

Do you write letters? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Make Mine Pink

 On the loom are more tea towels. I can't get enough of this warping. There is one warp and five towels that one can weave from it. It is a winner for me  because I don't like to warp alone. I end up with loose threads and then have to add weights to pull the tension correctly. This is a grey Irish 10/2 linen. I have one towel done and four to go! I love love love hemstitching! It was always my favorite when I was crosstitching samplers and I jump at the chance to do it.

 One of the hazards of knitting for a child is that they grow so doggone fast! Corrie and Joshua ordered blue socks, but it took me a little longer than usual to finish them. When I took them over Wednesday for our tea party, neither fit. But, Joshua could wear Corrie's socks, so I just owe Miss Corrie a pair. She looked over the blue and said, "I am over my blue streak; I'd like pink now, please." This is the first sock, CO48, k2p2 for 1-1/2 inches, then stockinette as long as you like. I love turning the heels, so this has been a quick and fun knit. I even worked on it between lunch and dessert yesterday!
How about a blast from the past?? This hand-pieced quilt was started in, a-hem, 1991, when I was pregnant with Marc Andrew. When he died in utero, the quilt was put away and never finished. It is time to close that door and so I have decided to finish the lap quilt joining on the back. It will go fast as it is a baby quilt and only nine blocks, plus the binding. I am working on it when my hands are tied of knitting (rarely) or my back from weaving (more often). Since I grabbed a bale of hay wrong yesterday, I am more than a little back sore today, so moving between projects (no, it is not ADD, I promise! LOL) is a good thing.

What are you doing today??

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Things I am thankful for:

1. The Airman is stateside this year.
2. My home and family.
3.  No blackpowder shot turkey this year.
4. Not cooking for 12 people.
5. Sunshine on Thanksgiving!
6. The new Hardy stove has proven a winner!
7. There will be TWO kinds of potatoes at lunch tomorrow.
8. The ability to share with others.
9. The Thanksgiving Tea that Corrie, Joshua, and new baby Isaac have prepared for this morning.
10. All you wonderful folks who take the time to share your day with me!

Have a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving! And be grateful you aren't in an airport somewhere getting to know your new best friend up close and personal!

Monday, November 22, 2010

God Makes Me Laugh!

The final tally:
18 hats, 1 vest, 3 scarves, 7 hand-tied blankets, 2 prs. hand knit mittens,
3 hoodies, 2 prs. of socks, and 20 pairs of bought gloves
for a total of 54 pieces.
Wookie is trying to figure out which pile he wants to wallow one more time....

The charity knitting goal this year was 55 pieces. I have 36 knitted items and, as I had permission to add the 20 bought gloves, I am over the goal! Yah! Now, let me tell you how funny God is.

My selected group was the Santa Train. I love love love the story of the train and wanted to really participate. But, would you believe I discovered this morning that I had overlooked the delivery date by one week? And, would you believe that today I met a woman who feeds and serves the homeless in the next county below the mountain? She told me of the families, yes FAMILIES, who are living along the Yadkin River in boxes or tents. It broke my heart.

Then, a little voice in me said, "So, you see why you missed the date? Give them to her."

And, I did.

I am so giddy with happiness that these things are going to someone who needs them. And, my friend Vicky, who was crocheting for the train with me, is sending afghans, laprobes, and scarves with me. And, a box of sweatshirts that were too small for her sister-in-love and have just been waiting to go to the homeless shelter somewhere is now snug in my car as well.

The dear lady and I were talking today and she said, "God just had you there waiting for me." I think it was the other way around. Either way, it is just as it should be.  

Do You Remember?

Where were you on November 22, 1963? I was sitting in my class at Ardmore Street Elementary School working on my penmanship (which is still terrible) when an announcement came over the intercom that the school was closing immediately and that all children were to go straight home.

I was terrified.

Earlier that year we had been issued dog tags to wear that had our name, address, phone number, religion, blood type, and parent's names. We were instructed to wear it always. It was never to come off. Mother and Daddy had explained that I was responsible for my brother and new sister if I were sent home from school. I had detailed instructions for what to do until they got home. They tried, as many folks did, to explain the stupidness of our world and that there were countries that wanted to kill us for being Americans. We were near one of the places they would drop an atomic bomb on. I could survive, we could survive, they stressed, but I was to stay home until they got there. Food was in the basement. Mrs. Tucker was next door.

So, you can imagine how I felt that morning as I, along with all my classmates, was instructed to go straight home. I kept looking at the sky, nearly running, taking every shortcut, the three short blocks to our colonial two-story grey asbestos-sided house. No sirens. No planes. Maybe I had beat them; Mother would still be home as she didn't leave for her job at the hospital until 1:45. Daddy would surely come in from town. We'd all be there. Safe.

When I opened the door, Mother was standing and ironing. Napkins, tablecloths, underwear, sheets, clothes, clean, some from the closets, surrounded her. This wasn't a good sign. She only ironed like this when she was really upset. She was crying softly. The TV was on and Walter Cronkite, my hero as I wanted to be a journalist, was reporting the events of the day. He took his glasses off, took a deep breath, and quietly said, "President Kennedy died..." Mother burst into sobs. I did, too, because I didn't know what else to do. After all, I was only eight and didn't understand this crazy grown-up world.

Much has happened since that sunny November day so long ago. In some ways our world is kinder, gentler, yet, in others, we are harder, more divisive, more angry. It is trite to say innocence died that day. However, just as September 11, 2001, something shifted in our world. I only wish it were for the better.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Day Musings --- Look Around


Brenda has a wonderful post today about Christmas choices. Her posts are always well worth the visit as they nudge us to consider our lives in a more meaningful manner. And, sometimes, she is just, well, to darn close for comfort, at least for me! Today she focuses on how to make the holidays more meaningful and purposeful. And as she often does, she has nudged me right into considering how over-the-top these holidays have become.

One of the things that has always troubled me is how many folks are generous to overseas charities, but don't support those in their own communities. I live in a very rural part of NC; we have more than 12% unemployment and, at one time, we had more than 3000 of our 9000 residents out of work when our two factories closed to go off shore. The impact is still devasting -- homes were lost, families moved off farms that had been original land grants, business closed, and life changed forever. We have to rely on each other in times of trial and need.

Look around you. Really look. Who needs a loving hand in your neighborhood? Our volunteer fire department selects families whom we know are out of work or in need and leaves a bag of groceries (Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, plus a few goodies for the children), unseen, in the person's car. Our churches donate to school children by sending home "back packs" of food for the weekend if they know a family is in tough times. A local community college has a clothing closet for graduates so that they are interview ready in an appropriate outfit. Another community college off-site campus has a food closet for students. Sandy created lap quilts for her local nursing home for this year's challenge. The fine gals at Mennonite Girls Can Cook support a number of charities; one of my favorites is their livestock program. Who can't love a charity that gives goats and chickens!?

Won't you take a few minutes this week as you consider your blessings and think of how you might bless someone? It doesn't take much; just time and willingness to give of yourself. While writing a check is a fine thing, giving of yourself blesses you and the reciever even more. No matter how little or much you have, you can share -- giving a smile, sharing a kind word, opening a door, helping a mother load her groceries, saying "Good Morning", or thanking a veteran for their service. May you be richly blessed as you bless others!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

How about a grin??

Adult Truths
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start directions with # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear made no changes to.
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say What? before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding the cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey-1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'd like to just curl up in a ball and forget everything. You??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rain, rain

Why is it that November rain is the dreariest of all rains?

It has rained here for two full days with no end in sight and I find myself cold, sad, and, well, just needing a shot of something more than coffee -- maybe sunshine or colour??

To cure my blues today I plan to do what I like most -- make myself a lovely pot of tea and snuggle up with a bit of knitting or tying flannel quilts.

There is also a huge need to haul box after box to the attic for storage. I have finally packed the last of the Airman's things and now face the daunting task of getting the attic rearranged so that his things are together, holidays are better sorted, out of season clothes are labeled and so forth. Word of advice: when a grown child wants to 'store a few things' remember that if said child has been on their own for more than five minutes and lived in the same place for seven minutes, you might lose control of at least one floor of your home! The Airman had a three bedroom house and, while he had cleared a lot, there is a still a lot to store. Fun times. Right.

Or, I might get myself together enough to finish grades and get things caught up so that next week I can play all week as we have Thanksgiving break. Or, I do have a craft show on Saturday. I could wrap soap and make a few sachets from my Weavette loom samples and some lavendar.

Gee.... I dunno.What should I do??

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Day Musings -- Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
--- Psalm 100

Yesterday was spent with a small choir in the studio recording the chorus for a song on the new album. It is a joyous piece called "Focus" and, the Mister hears it with a choir and several "wailing women" in the background. Can you believe that this is the first time the Mister has permitted me in the studio to watch the process?

As I sat, knitting, and listening the singers and the tracks play back, my mind drifted to how in sync this group was even though few of them had ever performed together. They laughed, joked, teased, and broke away into small groups, singing, collaborating, working out harmonies. No one was a star. They were singing out of pure pleasure. It was a joy to watch!

How often do we get caught up in the daily competition of life and forget to be joyful? The Lord loves music, singing, and happiness. Think of David dancing naked before the Lord. I don't see this as a physical nakedness so much as just being himself -- pure and utter joy shared and given to his Creator.

Today, I plan to sing and dance. You?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall in a jar

When my classes read Emerson's "Nature" they have a "Transcendental Musings" assignment to complete. In short, they are to take 15 minutes in nature, no electronics of any kind and no company, and do something that is 1) creative and 2) reflects the Transcendental spirit and 3) Emerson's ideas in the essay.

Frankly, I have had some very stellar submissions -- art, music, poetry, photography, collages, you name it and I have seen and enjoyed it.

But this lovely arrangement took the cake for me. Ms. Jocelyn was inspiring in her use of all natural components. To be honest, I wanted to rip it from her hands and run down the hallway crying, "My Precious!" But, I couldn't be so cruel when I saw how proud she was (rightfully so!) of her project.

Click on the picture to embiggen it. You won't believe all the wonderous things this talented young lady put into her project -- leaves, nest, berries, feathers, weeds, ferns, and even hay. Breathtaking!

I asked her permission to share this with you as it is so completely wonderful! Don't you agree? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you

Airman John in his blues -- taken by himself.
Isn't he handsome?

Thank you to all our Service People today. And every day. We fail to show you our appreciation as we should, but know that we keep you in our prayers and God's hands every day. Those of you who read my blog regularly know how very proud I am of the Airman. He is my hero, my heart, my treasure, and the only truly good thing I have given this world. I am proud of you, Airman!

The Airman's Creed

I am an American Airman.
I am a warrior.
I have answered my nation’s call.
I am an American Airman.
My mission is to fly, fight, and win.
I am faithful to a proud heritage,
A tradition of honor,
And a legacy of valor.
I am an American Airman,
Guardian of freedom and justice,
My nation’s sword and shield,
Its sentry and avenger.
I defend my country with my life.
I am an American Airman:
Wingman, leader, warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.

Woot! Woot!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

and a time and purpose under heaven.... Ecclesiastes 3:1

November is the time of year that I feel as though I am going into hibernation. The gardens are to bed, cans are filled, the house is closed up, the fire lit, and soup is the meal of choice many nights. We had our first skiff of snow on Saturday, yet today, it is 70-degrees here at the farm. Where is fall? How can I even begin to think of Christmas when it is so warm?

Yet, think of it I must. The Airman will be in Japan next Christmas, so this year we are having the full blown out holiday. I have decided on a 'theme', if you will -- a natural, down-home holiday for our Airman. Roping for the porch has been ordered from my nephews' school which is raising money for a trip. Our farm grown mountain laurel has been appraised and deemed worthy of wreathmaking. And, I have scoped out the creeping cedar at the below-the-mountain farm for the mantel and house. All is in order and ready for gathering. I love it.

Inside the house we shall have at least three trees, all cut from our farm or the below-the-mountain farm. The living room one will be decorated with handmade ornaments, carefully gathered over the years while the upstairs landing will have the Airman's ornaments, purchased for him annually so that when he has a home one day he will have a tree of ornaments to begin homekeeping and family traditions. And, there shall be one other tree, maybe in the dining room or entry way that is filled with nothing more than hearts.

While I know the holiday is six weeks away, it does this heart good to think of how I will show my only child how very much I love him and will miss him.

We have many traditions in our home for each holiday. For the first snowfall we watch "The Snowman" and drink hot chocolate with a candy cane for stirring and lots of marshmallows floating on top. New Year's Eve finds us on the front porch  (usually wrapped in lots of wool) with the Mister blowing "Auld Lang Syne" on his very mellow, quite old, saxophone which echoes through the holler like a solemn harbinger of the bygone year's death. Easter delights us with naturally dyed Easter Eggs hidden by each of us for the others and then delicious hot cross buns to enjoy after the hunt. And, summer solistice brings us a bonfire with roasted vegan hot dogs and marshmallows cooked to perfection on apple sticks from our Virginia Beauty apple tree.

I look forward to each holiday, each tradition, with relish and joy. It gives us roots and brings us comfort as time slips past far too quickly. What holiday tradition do you enjoy most?

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Had To Happen

The power went off on campus this morning. Transformer blew. I was in the midst of showing a Frontline clip about Abraham Lincoln and his discovering faith after his son's death. My class is in an electronic classroom which means that the class is transmitted over TV to other campuses. And, it means that the room was dark as soon as the lights popped off. Of course, the 'security lights' popped right on in a split second so we had a little light. It was still quite eerie.

I jokingly asked the class if they believed maybe the end of times had come and we didn't know about it. We all giggled nervously. Usually these things don't last long, so, doing what English teachers do, I began to lecture, from the book, and from my own knowledge. No PowerPoint, no notes, nothing electronic. Unheard of!

The class concluded a few minutes early, but they had a group assignment to work on, so that was okay with me. I sent them off, with cautions to watch traffic lights and stairs, and then I gathered myself and went back to my office.

The uproar in my office suite was amusing. Fortunately, I teach in a discipline where, frankly, if I have a mouth, I can make it work for me. Sadly, other disciplines are not so fortunate. And, in our age of "newer is better" we no longer have chalkboards or even white boards in the classrooms. Everything, and I mean everything, is electronic -- either data projectors, "Smart Boards", or laptops are all now the usual business in the classroom. Honestly, I thought some professors were going to weep openly!

Just a few years ago I was in the Appalachian State University library working on my master's thesis. The library had converted to all online databases. The old card catalog sat, neglected, in a corner. The power went out and, naturally, the computers went down. Taking my trusty flashlight (yes, I was a Girl Scout), I just slipped over to the card catalog, my dearest library friend, and continued my research. Even some of the younger librarians had never used one. I giggled as I flipped through cards and my trusty "Reader's Guide" and gleaned out bits and pieces that seemed useful. My afternoon was fulfilled while others just moaned.

In these days of so-called "modern technology" I have to wonder if we have outsmarted ourselves. Have we gotten so dependent on the technology in our lives that we cannot function if the Internet is down? What has become of education if we need to have the most modern, the most up-to-date technology in order to teach and inspire our students? Have we lost our focus and foolishly believe that technology alone makes us more effective teachers? Are we training students who will need more, faster, cleaner, easier, and, sadly, more sanitized learning? I fear that 1984 might be more real than I want to accept.

What do you think??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Day Musings -- Get Your Head Out Of The Sand!

This is what was said to me on Wednesday and I am still trying to get over it. Let me back up.

A colleague asked me what I thought when I watched the election returns on Tuesday night.

"I didn't," I replied. "We have disconnected our TV."

If I had said that shooting annoying students were socially acceptable, I wouldn't have met with the rant that followed.

"You WHAT?? Now, listen, Matty, you have to get your head out of the sand! You can't live your life ignoring the world! You have to pay attention to what is going on in the world! I can't believe this! You turned off your TV?? You didn't watch the returns? You are just like the girl I talked to at Sheetz this morning. She said she didn't vote because it was all in God's hand anyhow! How can anyone be so stupid??"

I leave you to fill in what she had to say about this. Frankly, I get angry thinking about it.

"We don't have our head in the sand. We are very aware of what is going on in our world. We just have alternative means of learning about it...."  However, my attempted response was interrupted by more rant.

I gave up and just let her rave until she left my office door and began another rant with another colleague about my choices and then about Bristol Palin's dancing. Are the two ideas related??? I was and am confused.

So, dear ones, I ask you: Who died and left her in charge? Or, for that matter, anyone in charge of my life and my choices?

Please understand. I am not self-righteous. Frankly, I am far from it. I am puzzled. I know we live a different kind of life. I know that we are moving more and more to removing ourselves from the silliness that often surrounds us. And, I know that we are considered "odd" by our colleagues at work. But, it is our life. And, it is our choices. What is right for us isn't right for others. We are unique snowflakes and should be respected as such. To be completely honest, I am finally living the life I wanted when I was 20; it is my greatest sadness that I have more life behind me than in front of me in which to do it.

We pack our lunches, often vegetarian; we wear older clothes (they are clean, neat, and in good repair); we drive ten year old, paid for, cars; we read good fiction and our Bibles; we like to work with our hands; we live in a century old house that has very little updates; and we love our farm. Our evening entertainment includes stars, watching the fire, and conversation. And, we have a few friends who share our loves. It is a good life.

I guess the whole point of my ramblings today is the lack of acceptance or understanding of others' lifestyles and choices. What one chooses should be of no consequence to others if it doesn't impact them. Please don't judge me on what I do or don't have. We are blessed fully and richly with what we want and need. I don't care if there are people who want a McMansion or drive a new car every year. That is their path. Just please don't tell me who I am based on what you think I am.

My favorite Emerson quote is this:

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Give Me The Pickle

Last week I had to attend a customer service training entitled: "Give them the pickle." It is based on Bob Farrell's restaurant experience when a customer complained that he had to pay for a pickle. The outcome was that the customer left and declared never to return if he had to pay for a pickle. Farrell's response: "Give 'em the pickle!" Yes, even in higher education this is apparently the new model. The students are our "customers" and we must dedicate ourselves to serving them better. Right.

Needless to say, I was less than enthusiastic about the event. It required a day of missed classes, extra driving, and a longer day for me -- none of which was appealing. However, in spite of the redundancy of the speaker, the heart of the training was useful. It got me to thinking about how can we "raise the bar" in how we serve others. In short, how can we do more than be average?

Some of the things I have thought about since then are:

Saying "thank you."
Looking a person in the eyes when I greet them.
Having a pleasant tone of voice.
Listening rather than plan my response.
Making someone look better than they are by not passing blame.
Taking responsibility for what I do and doing it better than average.
Being positive in my tasks -- even if it is a task that makes my skin crawl.
Enjoying others rather than dreading them.

Just think. This would not only enhance our work life, but wouldn't they enhance our home life as well?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

19th Amendment

Today we get to celebrate our 19th amendment right, ladies. Whatever the party, whatever your beliefs, just do it!