Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Some years, I look at December 31 and think that next year will be better.  Some years, I look at December 31 and wonder how next year could be better.  This December 31, I wonder what is in store for us next year because this year had nearly everything.

We had Don's retirement, our fabulous trip to Alaska, my surprise birthday party, trips to Austin, Arkansas and the cabin, great times with friends and family . . . it was awesome.  We also had hail storms, fires, and floods that nearly took away one of our family's beloved places to visit.  We lost some close friends, including Mrs. Garvey, who has continued to be a great influence in our lives.  We reconnected with others.  We experienced a number of fabulous and fun weddings, a number of friends have welcomed new ones into their lives.  It has been a year of mostly good, a little sad, a little bad.

In thinking about what awaits us for next year, I pray that my family and friends experience joy and happiness, and when it rains in their lives, that they may grow from it.  May it be the best year ever for all!

The Revolving Door

Revolving doors are wonderful inventions.  As one person comes in, another goes out.  Supposedly they also save energy.  Maybe in theory . . . but not when the revolving door is in a house, as it has been here.  Let me state unequivocably that I love revolving doors, especially when loved ones are going through them!

The Thursday before Christmas, my door started revolving with the arrival of Diana.  The next day, Kenneth and Melinda walked through it.  On Monday, they left just after Don's dad arrived.  Then on Friday, he left just in time for the sheets to get done so that Katie could use them Friday night.  Monday Diana left for Austin, and this morning, Tuesday, Katie left.  And no one walked back through the door.  So sad.

The holidays are so much fun.  Exhausting, but fun.  We had three Christmas Eves, and three Christmas Days.  We lighted the luminarias twice.  We ate well, we laughed a lot.  It was great fun.

We have one more celebration with the Norton family, but it will not be at my house.  So the revolving door is done turning for awhile.  Babs can get back to her normal routine.  We can acclimate to the quiet again.  And we will look forward to the next time the door can begin swinging again.

Friday, December 27, 2013


I frequently remind Diana that as I become my mother, she becomes me.  Her response?  "AAGH."  But I have seen it happen to so many people, I know it is true.

Case in point.  Nellie.  Although both Don's grandmother and mine were named Nellie, in this case, we are speaking of Don's.  Nellie lived to the ripe old age of 98.  She did not take any medicine, except an occasional aspirin.  She drove until she was well into her 80's, because she had to deliver meals to the old people.  The day she pulled out in front of a semi (and survived it) was the last day she drove.

Don's dad used to complain that if church started at 9:30, Nellie started chomping at the bit at 8:45 to go - though she only lived two minutes away.  She was not only early . . . she was WAY early.

I began to notice Don's dad doing the same thing.  If he said he would be here at noon, we could count on him arriving by 11:30.  But when Don started acting the same way, I began to call him Nellie.  Leaving our house at 9:50 for a 10:30 service was just a little over the top.

This morning was the worst.  Don's dad has been here since Monday, and Don and his brother Kenton are taking him to Pratt to meet Kevin and Barb, who will take him home.  They were to be at Kenton's at 9:00, so they could leave just after Kenton's kids left with their Nana.  At 7:50 a.m. - yes, that is 7:50 - they headed out.  Kenton lives 25 minutes away.  So they are destined to arrive at his house at 8:25 or so.  Thirty-five minutes early.  To leave at 9:00.  Crazy.

No wonder while on our Alaska trip Jerri called him the "Butt Crack of Don."  Fits!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Want, Need, Wear, Read

Last year, I read about this gift-giving strategy for Christmas.  Purchase one item that each child wants, needs, wears, and reads.  That's it.

Well, I am prone to over-indulgence - ask my kids.  My mom was, and I am.  So Diana asked me to work on using this concept this Christmas.  She said I go overboard, she is working on being a minimalist, and she doesn't need all the "stuff."  So I tried.

I really tried.  And I did pretty well.  What I found was that it made shopping easier because I had to focus.  Rather than just purchase something on impulse, I really had to think whether it was  a want, need, wear, or read.  And of course, I had to add eat!

I would highly recommend this strategy to everyone.  Although my kids would not have had the extravagant, presents-piled-to-the-ceiling Christmas morning, their rooms would have certainly been less full . . . and I would have perhaps learned a little about restraint.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Missions Accomplished

Well, this has been the several busiest weeks of my life.

Maybe not, but it certainly seems so.  I am sure when I was working, I was as busy or worse, but this past three months have been a whirlwind.  The search process for our priest was interesting and rewarding, as we have called a wonderful woman to be our priest.  But the time commitment has been incredible.  I don't know how Don was in charge of two search committees while he was working!

In the meantime, there were tailgates to hold, a Rotary conference to plan, an Author Dinner to arrange,  a Thanksgiving celebration to help with, and oh yes, Christmas!

The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  And so, that is what I have been doing.  Football season came to an end.  The trip to Austin was great fun.  We called our priest.  The conference and dinner are coming together.  And yesterday, I got the house decorated for Christmas.

Now for the shopping.  One bite at a time.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Aurora We Wished We Had Seen

We love the auroras.  So much so that we have bookmarked a site on the internet (www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/auroramax/hd-480.asp) that has a special camera for showing the aurora.  Today I happened to open it just in time to see this:

Then the picture changed and this came up:

I have several more spectacular ones.  One looked like fireworks!  Loving the aurora.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An Austin Thanksgiving

Since Kenneth and Melinda were going to be in India for Thanksgiving, we decided to go to Austin to be with Di.  She invited all 70 of the graduate students in her department; thankfully not all of them could attend.  What Di didn't know is that her Aunt Kathy was going to join us.

When we arrived, Kathy knocked at the door.  Di was only a little surprised - and panicked because she did not have four places set.  Never mind, it all worked out.  We stayed at Di's but Kathy stayed in a motel not far from Di's condo.

Wednesday was spent shopping and cooking, enjoying each other, and eating at Phil and Amy's.  After dinner, we learned a new board game, Dominion.  It was a very interesting game, and I can tell it could become addicting.

On Thursday, Di was up bright and early to begin preparing the dressing.  She did not need much help from me, but I was there just in case.  We were responsible for the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes.  The rest was going to be brought by her various friends.

We brought Di some of her grandmother's silver serving pieces (which, by the way, when polished look fabulous), and she and Kathy set the tables for the dinner.  I think they turned out quite pretty.

After the meal, all of the friends went to the loft and talked while we did the dishes.  They spoke a combination of Spanish, Portuguese, and English, so frequently, we didn't know what they were saying, but that was all right.  They were having fun, and that is what Thanksgiving is about.

The trip ended too soon.  We left early Friday morning, hoping to avoid the awful traffic we encountered coming down.  Luckily, we had none of it and returned home in time to rescue Bella from the kennels.  Fun times, and a great Thanksgiving - a little non-traditional for us, but that was what made it special!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So Much to Unravel

Sometimes life is too complicated.

This is not a complaint.  It is an observation.

Several disparate examples come to mind.  (Speaking of complicated, Karen, why not just say different?  Well, Diana would be proud of me for using a higher level vocabulary is one reason, I guess.). Anyway, back to the subject.

For example, today.  The weather is exquisite, so I am sitting outside at Starbucks waiting for a friend.  It was certainly warm enough to be outside, and the sun kept us warm as we talked.  Once the sun went town, however, it started getting cold, and we had to leave.  The complicated part comes tomorrow.  Bitter cold is approaching, which complicates everything from driving, to dressing, to Babs.

As senior warden of our church we are in charge of finding a new priest.  We know who we want; we have had conversations.  But we are waiting for the official approval.  And waiting.  And waiting.  The frustration of waiting.  I thought this would be behind me so I could get on with other things.  Nope.

Then there is Christmas.  Overwhelmed.  Have not even thought about many gifts, much less decorations, food, cards, and all of the other stuff that goes with it.  Fun times.  Grateful to have the freedom to enjoy Christmas.  But oh my.  So much to do.

I keep thinking I am going to simplify.  But that, too, is complicated.  The emotional attachment I have to some things in my house makes simplifying very difficult.  But it is time to unravel . . . and uncomplicate.