Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January

Here's a poem for you... ( I wrote it a week or two ago)

January Cold

January's moody - first the blizzards and the snow,
Then the bitterest, coldest days you ever saw.
Then when you are tired and you think you're nearly frozen,
Comes to tempt you, "January Thaw".

It's cruel.

You're fully insulated to protect you from the cold
But your skin, then, never sees the light of day.
Vita D's in short supply
And you feel like a good cry
Or a warm and sunny place to get away.

It's true.

Winter wears on people's nerves, which start to fray
From insufficient bits of light of day.
We have sensory deprivation
'Cause of all that insulation
That we wear to keep the sting of cold at bay.

It's depressing.

I miss the sensuality of warmth,
When breezes brush your skin and it feels good.
Whereas now you hardly feel the air at all -
In fact we'd all avoid it if we could.

And we do.

But we try to bear it bravely with a smile
When all we really want to do is sleep.
Because the senses are in hibernation
When the deep midwinter is so deep.

But it'll pass.

~ (C) klm ~
1/15/09



Winter is getting to me. I am trying to have a good attitude, but it takes more effort all the time. To help keep a right perspective, I keep adding to my list of things I am thankful for. Thankfulness rocks! It helps with slumps. But still...

Sigh...

I am going to get through this winter, even though we have to sell land and maybe even move. I am going to get through it with Joy. The joy may be buried under some other stuff, but it will be there somewhere. (-:

I have a good friend who reminded me once that even if we were to lose everything we have and everyone we loved, we would still have God. And really... what else matters? We would still have God and all that He is... His incredible love for us, His character, His faithfulness, His unchangeableness.... We would still have God!

Wow, How cool is that? How COOL is that!!

So -- Though the earth be covered in a blanket of white (which is incredibly beautiful but just plain cold) and though my brain cells falter, and I can't spell or think of the right word, though my days drag with me finding it hard to do anything because I have no energy ........

.............Yet I will praise Him.


I will praise Him!



How about you? Do you have anything to add?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Permission to Mother: good reading for moms and the women who serve them

I recently finished reading a good book on mothering, birth, and breastfeeding. *Permission to Mother* is written by Denise Punger,M.D. Reading this book feels like having a conversation with another mom. She shares stories of her mothering journey - how she does things, how her views have changed with time, and cute things her kids have said. She shares her birth stories and what she learned through each of them. Denise has gone from a pretty much "by the book" doctor to a woman who mothers from her heart. Her husband is also a doctor and they have a practice in Florida, where she practices "breastfeeding medicine", a specialty I hadn't heard of before. She is very knowledgeable about breastfeeding and has helped and supported many moms who wish to breastfeed, even when they ran into difficulties. She is a strong supporter of adoptive breastfeeding. She really seems to know her business, but her attitude comes across as humble. I respect that.

Denise supports women's right to choose where and how they give birth, a right I too feel passionate about. So I liked this book, and I think some of you might, too. I don't think we are going to find it in a local library near Our Town just yet, since it was self-published in Florida. I have a copy, or you might look it up online. Go to Denise's website at permissiontomother.blogspot.com where you can find out more. It is really a good book, and easy to read in small installments since it's mostly in the form of her mothering and birth stories. Check it out; tell me what you think.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

46....

46. Friends who help you remember who you are.


I went out for coffee today with some friends I haven't been able to be with in a little while. Before getting together with them, I was beginning to feel stressed and almost a little overwhelmed with the details of life. But spending a couple of hours with friends with whom I can really relax, friends with whom I can be totally honest, and who love and accept me no matter what... is so refreshing! I come away remembering what matters to me, remembering that I am loved, and feeling more calm. Hanging out together helps me sort out life. Trivial worries fall away, and my focus is cleared. My soul is rejuvenated and I remember what I'm about. I am so thankful for friends who really do help me remember who I am.

I also was reminded of some other things that bring delight to my life...

47. Natural red hair.

48. Winsome baby faces

49. Watching a mom teach her children important things, like how to count to 5, or the names of colors, or how to be respectful and considerate of others.

50. Trying a new tea that turns out to be delicious

51. The sound of sparrows twittering in tree, apparently lost in their own birdy conversations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

winter blues/SMAES

Yeah, well, winter is starting to get to me. Not because I don't think it's beautiful. (You know I think it is.) But I get feeling like less than me. See, my brain cells run on solar power and without the sun spending its days shining on me, it is hard for me to think! They call it SADDS. I don't like that name, because one of those Ds stands for disorder, and almost everyone I talk to (north of the mason-dixon, where we have real, bone-numbing winters) is affected by this season in similar ways: depression, low energy, suppressed immune system, foggy brain, etc. So if it's universal, it's not a disorder, it's normal. Obviously.

I think a better name might be... SMAES. Yeah. Seasonal Mood And Energy Slump. Now doesn't that fit better? Let's call it that instead. It's just a slump, you'll get over it, sounds way better than a depressive disorder. That right there is enough to send you into a depression by itself!

Still, I don't like feeling depressed, not even if it's just a little bit. And so I got to thinking, either I can just give up and feel miserable for the rest of the winter, or I can at least try to do something to make it better. But what? Well, the truth is I do realize that I am always surrounded by beauty and it is my choice whether to see it or not. When my energy is low, it can be hard to find the beauty. It can be hard to choose thankfulness and joy. So that means it is going to take some extra work. But I can do it. It may be harder, but I can at least try, right? So that's what I am going to do.

I have been working on that today - being thankful, ... and what do you know, I am starting to feel better. I also have been drinking more water and increased my vita D a bit, and went to the chiro today. So, yeah, a multi-pronged approach.

So here is what I am thankful for today, some of the things that bring delight to my days. I am continuing my "Joys and Thank Yous" list from before and starting here where I left off there. (You will recognize some of these favorite things from last Wednesday's post.)

16. Home made cocoa from scratch: You put cocoa powder in a cup and stir in about an equal amount of honey till smooth. (Takes a lot of stirring.) Then add milk (cow or soy) and microwave till hot. Stir and enjoy! Wow! Amazing hot chocolate!

17. Going on a date with Husband! (-: Yeah, he's cool that way. Every Friday.

18. The cool architecture downtown, with the old buildings contrasting the new.

19. The ice skating rink downtown! What a great city!

20. Walking the sidewalks downtown and remembering walks there with my mom when I was little. Especially Mr. Peanut in the store front, and the Christmas windows with moving statues of Santa and his friends.

21. Mocha.

22. Chai, plenty spicy and sweet. So good on a cold day!

23. Taking pictures of anything that piques my interest.

24. Ice sculptures! So incredibly pretty, sparkling in the sun.

25. The warmth of candles flickering on stovetop and table, in a warm home when deep white snow blankets everything outside.

26. Loving the man I married.

27. Having children who love me.

28. Playing games together as a family.



29. Cell phones with games on them.

30. Fresh, clean water to drink. (I appreciate this much more since our pump quit, once in the dead of winter.)

31. Strong, handsome sons.

32. Beautiful daughters.

33. Having children who, as they grow, become the kind of people who I would want to choose for friends even if we weren't related.

34. Holiday times, when the children all come over with their own families and we have a full, happy house!

35. Random twinkle Christmas lights. (Really! I just love them!)

36. Gingerbread people.

37. Baking Christmas cookies with my children.












38. Going out with a daughter - for lunch, movie, shopping, whatever, and just enjoying the time together.

39. Craft nights! Getting together with some great friends who make me a better person. I am so thankful for them.

40. Blizzards - staying inside feeling safe and protected while the winds howl and the snow blows outside.

41. Snow days! Everything canceled and us here together relaxing.

42. Home made soup. Bean soup, potato soup, vegetable soup, whatever. There's something good about home made soup. (Except maybe pumpkin soup. That recipe, while saying something about my resourcefulness in using what we have on hand, did not win kudos from my fans here. Nope, not so much.)

43. Friends who love me no matter what. Wow!

44. That delicious feeling of cool, smooth sheets against my skin when I go to bed at the end of a long day, tired and so ready to rest.

45. The way the very air seems to sparkle on an extremely cold day (close to zero degrees F), but only when the sun is shining brightly and is at a low angle in the sky. (a phenomenon explained here at wonderofcreation.org.) It looks so magical, it's hard to believe, as if the air is filled with invisible glitter. Wow!

Well, that's all for now. Thankfulness rocks! If laughter is the best medicine, thankfulness is a good tonic. Remember tonics? Neither do I. But I guess they were supposed to make you healthy and strong. Mammy Yokum swore by them. Remember Mammy Yokum? OK, never mind.


(pics: Our Downtown; one of my offspring and I decorating Christmas Cookies together.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold!

Today we planned to go ice skating again, after the great fun we had last week. But when we got downtown, the rink was covered in snow and a sign told us we weren't allowed to skate! I guess those who decide such things felt the the record-breaking cold temperatures warranted the closing of the ice rink! Too cold to ice skate? I guess so. Well, I had been warned. When I told friends I planned to go today they informed me of the weather forecast and suggested I might want to go next week instead. Wise friends.

But we did have a good time. Something about getting out in the fresh air, in different surroundings... just feels good. And we did see some ice sculptures that sparkled in the cold air. Pretty!



I told the children who were with me (One son, one daughter this time) that even though we didn't do any skating today, I thought we needed hot chocolate anyway. We did, after all, walk out in the cold. Besides, I hadn't eaten lunch yet and I was hungry. So we got a hot dog for me across the street from the rink, in a place so warm and moist that my camera (and our glasses) fogged up and took forever to clear. Once we warmed up, we went to my friend's coffee place a block down, and got some of his made from scratch hot chocolate with a dash of cayenne. That warmed us up. Another friend stopped in while we were there who I hadn't seen in months! It was great to see her and do some catching up! And I met a photographer there who gave me some helpful tips about my little camera. Very nice!




So we had a good time, us three. When we got home, I needed to fix a supper that warmed and filled us without taking too much of my time or energy to prepare. Lentils! Oh, we had the best supper! Hot lentil soup - simple, quick, hot, economical, and deliciously filling - with slices of whole grain bread spread with real butter! We ate this while watching a movie in front of the fire. What a good evening together!





I sent some of the lentil soup to work with Husband this evening. I hope it fills him there again, and I hope he stays safe on the slippery roads. The strong cold makes the roads much slipperier than they appear. (Is "slipperier" a word? "much more slippery"? You know what I mean.) There were a lot of cars sliding into the median on the expressways today, and even the roads around town were slicker than you'd expect.


Tonight the temperatures are predicted to be below zero, with "dangerous" wind chills. The furnace in the house here is having a hard time keeping up with the need for heat, and the temperature in the house right now is 66 degrees. (Outside is minus 7.) This morning the indoor temperature was 60 degrees. I have been wishing all day for more firewood. We have only enough to last tonight and maybe to start a fire tomorrow, but not enough to last several days through this cold snap, let alone through the rest of the winter. We're using the auxiliary heat strip on the heat pump to keep the house warm. It uses a lot of electricity and we don't like to use it except on the coldest days. It's kind of expensive. But we have it when we do need it, and that's good. I just love the feel of a wood fire heating up the house and am wishing, that's all.

So anyway, we had a really nice day, not ice skating, drinking cocoa with pepper, meeting old and new friends, and being together as a family with warm, wholesome food.

Sigh... good day. Now it's time to close it and rest under warm blankets.

Hope your day is good as well.

(pics: ice sculptures downtown with flowers frozen in them; Son and Daughter sipping their hot chocolate; friend Josh at his coffee house; lentil soup with onions; bread; snow-covered turnaround on one of our slippery roads today)

Monday, January 12, 2009

remembering a very bad day

Saturday was a strange day for me. It was exactly one year ago that day that we were in a car accident out halfway across the country on a road trip that should have been fun. I have pictures, but I don't want to post any. It was a genuine very bad day. We are ok, though. But Saturday here was snowy and the roads were not good. It reminded me too much of that other day. I didn't drive on Saturday. Not because I am superstitious (I don't think I was predisposed to get in another accident just because of the date), but I didn't want to be on the roads because it just felt weird. The roads were scary anyway because of the snow, and with my mind remembering another scary day I didn't want to drive. Just didn't. Does that make sense? Maybe it doesn't have to?

Hmm.

Well, anyway, there was a lot to be thankful for on that day. I am deeply thankful that we are all still alive. I am thankful that God surrounded us with so many amazing people who cared for us and who went way beyond the call of duty in tending to our needs. It was incredible! I am thankful for the really nice rental car we got to drive. Sweet ride! I'm thankful we got home safe and sound, even though I freaked out pretty good when we hit another snow storm on the way home. That was awful. But we made it.

Yeah, I've got reason to be thankful. Oh! And I'm thankful that the paperwork for the insurance is finally done, as of a few days ago! Don't get in any car accidents -- the paperwork is too much of a hassle!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ice Skating!


We had the absolute best time ice skating downtown this week! I love that the city does this for us! Right downtown, there's a little ice rink, charging almost nothing for admission or skate rental, and my girls and I decided to go down and try it out. I started out as the photographer on the sidelines, but it looked like so much fun that I ended up getting myself a pair of skates and getting out on the ice too!

My first time around the rink, I clung to the railing on the edge and slowly, cautiously inched my way along. Well, hey, I have not been on skates in like, 600 years! Just getting skates on and learning to stand up in them was progress for me! Walking in them was the next big step, and when I actually got on the ice, I felt like I had accomplished something significant! So inching around the edge was good. The second time around I was a little braver and by the fourth time, I was only using the rail once in awhile. I was actually skating! At a beginner level, but still!

It was so much fun! The fresh air and exercise felt so good. And yes I fell. Of course I fell! I was not expecting to come through unscathed. I bruised my shoulder. And other things. But it's all healing quickly. And it was fun. Afterwards, we went to my friend Josh's coffee house for hot chocolate and chai along with a grilled cheese sandwich. It was a great day! I got pics of the girls, but none of myself. The girls might have pics of me, but I don't have any yet. I put some of what I do have into a video. Hope you enjoy it! And if you live in Our Town, get yourself down to the almost free ice rink for some good fun!



video

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winter Here

We have had a beautiful winter here so far! I want to show you some pictures from December. We came close to - if we didn't hit - a record snowfall for the month. It all melted after Christmas, but more is coming, don't worry. And good thing, too... there is nothing sadder-looking than a cold, brown and gray winter landscape with no clean white snow to freshen things and reflect back the much-needed light. So here are some pictures from December of our beautiful snowscapes so far:


This is my front yard, a lone tree by the little sheep pasture. I love the way this little tree is dressed in its winter finery. So elegant!

This lone bench is also out in my front yard.



Bush with red berries. (Not at my place, but at a place where I go often.)


Across the back yard.

Down at the corner.


Isn't it beautiful? The pictures don't do it justice. It's like living on the front of a Christmas card out here in the winter. God's artwork is the best! I do hope we don't have to move this year. That would be so painful. I don't want to think about it. I will just enjoy the beauty. There is enough of it to fill my days.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Practice Post with Pictures

This is a practice post. I want to figure out how to add pictures. Several. Like this one:

In which daughter and I camped out by the Christmas tree Friday night, because we wanted to enjoy it while we still have it. We pulled out the couch into a bed and slept by the tree, just for fun.

And then this one, taken Dec. 1st :


Of our road in the snow. I love our road. We live in a pretty place right now.


And this one, which I took with my phone when I was out driving the other day. Just before I shot this picture, the wind was blowing snow off the roof of this red barn, and the huge cloud of powdery snow was backlit by the sun. It was so stunning I pulled the car over and took a picture. The cloud of blowing snow was gone, but I like the picture anyway. The strong colors and the bright sun make it.



As long as I'm showing you pictures, I want to show you the kind of snow we had this winter so far...

December 1, the adirondack chairs out in my yard.



December 19,


December 21, The same chairs. Lots of snow!



And December 23, same chairs in the yard again:

We had a white Christmas! And then some!



Weird thing, though -- the Saturday after Christmas it all melted! Got up in the 50s and RAINED! Green grass was showing and it was... not typical. Flooded roads and everything. Like spring, only in December.





It's back to winter now. Normal amount of snow in the ground. These lonesome snow shovels are from January 3rd. I expect they'll see some more action before the winter's done. They're taking a break right now, though.

















OK, maybe I can get the hang of this picture thing. We shall see how it turns out. Thanks, Kathi, for the tips.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Joys and Thank Yous


Years ago, my brother gave me a book called 14,000 Things to be Happy About, or The Happy Book, by Barbara Kipfer. Basically it's a list of... well, I guess that's self evident. 14 thousand of them, though! Pretty cool, I thought. And so I decided to start my own list. I call it "Joys and Thank Yous". These are things that bring me delight and joy. And I thank God for them.

I want to share them with you as I think of them.

Over at www.aholyexperience.com, Ann Voskamp tells of the "Gratitude Community", a group of people who are also making lists of things they are thankful for, one by one. It's fun. I've been doing this for a long time, and it helps me to develop a mindset of thankfulness. You can make a list too, if you like.

ok...

Some of these are from before, things I remember from the first list I started, which I can't find. I do hope I find it soon. Not only does it bring me happiness to read, it also reminds me of moments in my life that were special.

1. Nursing a baby to sleep, middle of the night, with the colored Christmas tree lights bathing sweet baby face in a soft glow. (This is one of my most precious memories.)

2. Toddler hands. with dimples at the base of each chubby finger, stretched out like fat little five-pointed stars.

3. A surprise visit from friends

4. Bright yellow leaves dropping from trees like golden coins being tossed down.

5. Finding a four-leaf clover

6. Finding a four-leaf clover patch!

7. A new pair of thick wool socks, cozy, soft and warm.

8. Crystals hanging, sparkling in my kitchen window, casting bright rainbows all over my walls and ceiling when the sun shines in.



9. Long icicles hanging from the roof's edge, sparkling inthe sun, looking very much like winter should look.

10. Home grown tomatoes in the summer.

11. The first snow. The excitement that comes with those first flakes drifting down and turning the ground white.

12. Watching TV with the family in front of a blazing fireplace on a cold night.

13. Home made chili with plenty of garlic and spice to make it healthy - so delicious!

14. Having Husband home.

15. Eggnog. Oh, yeah! With that little sprinkle of nutmeg on top like we always do.


OK, it's a start. Maybe I can list more another day. There is so much around us to be thankful for. If you decide to start your own list, please let me know. It's so much fun to find new things to be happy about!

And also, by the way... I wish I knew how to add more pictures to these posts. Only one per post? There must be something I'm missing.

(pic: The book my brother gave me.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Looking both ways


At the beginning of a new year, people like to take a look back over the past year, ponder it, savor it maybe, and then turn and check out the year to come. So I've tried that, and what I found is that the year past has brought lots of unforeseen adventures, along with some great gifts. None of it could I have seen coming. Not the car accident or the economic slump or the sudden job changes... And not the rich blessings that come with each of those challenges, either.

And if I try to look at the upcoming year, all I see is a fog. Everything coming up is just as unforeseeable as last year's things were. Recent economic changes will lead to more changes in the coming year. There are more questions than answers, and thinking too much about it just leads to worry. So I don't think I want to focus on all that unknown. Instead of looking at the past and at the future, I think I want rather to look at some things I do know.

I do know that God rules. Nothing is out of His control. Nothing. He started this whole story of earth and life, He is maintaining and sustaining it, and He will bring it all to the right ending at the right time. This I know. And...

I do know that He loves me. A lot! This is constantly shown to me by the myriad of little love gifts that he gives me daily. His tender care for me in things large and small show me his love. And His word also tells me that God is love. He loves me!

So if God is in charge and all powerful, fully capable of taking care of things..... and if God sees me as a precious child of His, wrapped in His love..... then I am going to be ok. One way or another, His love and His power will keep me safe. He cares for me and He's big enough to make a difference. And when things happen that are not good, not pleasant, but instead are hard and not fun at all... well, then He goes with us through those times, and He turns it all to good for those who love Him and are called to His purpose.

"No good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly". So my job is to walk uprightly, and His job is to take care of everything else.

And you know what? I can do that! I can try to walk uprightly... watching my walk, my friendship with God, trying to do things His way, tuning into His Word and loving Him. I will get it wrong sometimes, but I can tend my heart. And when I do get it wrong I can make things right again as soon as possible. It's about my relationship with God. It's about keeping my heart turned toward God.

And all the worries of the upcoming year, the fears and all of it, just sort of fade when I get that perspective right. When I am focused on God and who He is, everything else falls into place. When I focus on pleasing Him, it all smooths out. Yeah... and I can do that!

As we ring in the New Year, I wish you all a very good year ahead! Happy New year, everyone!



(pic: bell at the end of our porch. for ringing in the new year, naturally)