Monday, December 25, 2023

Joy to the World!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and that life was the Light of mankind.   - John 1:1-4 

Joy to the world, 
the Lord is comeLet Earth receive her KingLet every heart
 prepare Him roomAnd Heaven and nature sing 

- Isaac Watts
           Joy to the World


Monday, December 18, 2023

Winter is nigh...

Thursday, the 21st, is winter solstice and I have mixed feelings about it.  Normally, I enjoy taking note of each of the solstices and equinoxes - and the anticipation of the changing days and seasons ahead - but this year I've pretty much completely missed the days that marked these changes up 'till now.  

I greatly enjoy anticipating spring and fall and the glorious colors, and not just of growing  things.   Do you take notice of how crystal blue a cloudless early autumn sky can be?   Do you delight in how the autumn sun can still feel hot on your skin, while the breeze cools?  Have you ever noticed how BIG grasshoppers are in September?  Do you notice how the decaying smell of late winter mud gives way to the scent of grass as it comes to life in the spring?  And how fresh spring air is?  Do we stop and give thanks for these marvelous things?  Sometimes I do, but I don't think I do enough.

And the solstices...   I love the long days of summer, and that there is time on both ends of the day to be outside and enjoy sunlight when temperatures are often more comfortable.  I also love how evening time come earlier than expected as autumn approaches, and how it becomes downright dark at suppertime as the days cool down.  In the autumn, I enjoy the cozy vibe of porch lights shining when I'm coming home from a long afternoon out.  I remember when I was home with young kids, I enjoyed turning the porch light on, hoping it would be a welcome sight as my husband returned from a long day at work.  I'm not sure if he noticed, really, but I tried to remember to do that.  It made me happy.

This year the seasons and daylight changes came and went without much notice by me - it's no wonder, as I was otherwise preoccupied for much of the year.  I had just begun to notice spring when my mind became filled with what was ahead, and then - just like that - the pretty fall colors were over before I had a chance to really enjoy them.   The days got longer, then shorter with little notice, certainly no anticipation, on my part.   

And now the days are about to get longer again.  Feeling much more myself, I am happy to know I will likely take more notice of the lengthening days than I did of the shortening days in early fall.  Anticipating keeping the curtains open a little longer each evening fills me with the same amount of pleasure as turning the porch light on earlier and earlier through the autumn does.  

Today felt like winter with a cold wind and several snow squalls - that, fortunately, didn't amount to anything.   I don't mind admitting, I'm happy to see it's forecasted to be in the mid-50's on Christmas Eve!

It is a busy week ahead for a lot of us as we approach Christmas.  Like you, I have grocery shopping and gift wrapping to do, special foods to prepare, and a few dust bunnies to sweep away still.  But in the midst of the busyness of the days leading up to Christmas,  I want to also take notice of the daylight shortening for a few more days before it starts to lengthen again.  Just noticing such a simple thing grounds me somehow.

I feel a little like a child when the seasons change.  Filled with anticipation and delight that our Creator has given us a world full of wonder to notice and enjoy.


Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

~ Thomas Chisholm
           Great is Thy Faithfulness

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Hibachi, anyone?

With weather in central Indiana more rainy than snowy, and temps bouncing from the 30's back up to the 50's several times since Thanksgiving, I sometimes have to remind myself that Christmas is less than two weeks away.  I'm not complaining about the weather, mind you, but I do have to remind myself to get with the program.  While we'll likely only have a small gathering of 6 or 7 here on Christmas Eve, there's deciding on the menu and grocery shopping yet to do.  Some house cleaning sounds like a good idea.  And there are gifts yet to buy and wrap. But who's stressing?  I'm refusing to so far, and somehow that's working for me. 

Last night Greg and I were invited to enjoy an hibachi dinner in the dining room of the senior community where our friends, Jack and Ruth, live.   Some of you may remember me writing about my experience providing companion care to the sweetest lady on earth.  Well, Ruth has declined deep into dementia, but still remains the same sweet soul I came to know about five years ago.  She is living in the skilled nursing part of the community where Jack lives in the house they had built nearly twenty years ago when they moved to the same town we live in.  

We sometimes join Jack for a meal, but haven't in all the time I was healing from surgery and then going through chemo and its recovery, but now that I'm getting back to normal activities, we've put a couple of dinner dates with Jack on the calendar.  This week's hibachi dinner was a first-time experience for Greg and I.

Jason, a traveling hibachi chef, first served us potstickers drizzled with teriyaki sauce for appetizers, then a first course of Mexican tomato soup, followed by perfectly cooked filet mignon (some had chicken fajitas) - with sides of Spanish rice and corn on the cob.

I do love me a good steak.


Oooh yes, drizzle on that delicious buttery sauce 
and sprinkle the corn with parmesan cheese.
Must try this at home...

Having never experienced an hibachi grill dinner, I had no idea what to expect.  It was a fun combination of watching and listening to Jason tell us what he was preparing.  He also shared a little about himself when we asked.  We also enjoyed the company of old friends, and made some new friends of a couple that helped fill out the table of eight.  An hour and a half after we sat down, we left happy with very satisfied tummies and spirits, and are very impressed with this new dining experience within a senior community here in town.

And now, I suppose I really should apply myself to some Christmas shopping...  


Saturday, December 2, 2023

The Christmas season is upon us...

Today was my official ringing in of the Christmas season with a Ladies' Christmas brunch at church.   A group of women took on the roles of table hosts, and each woman (or pair of women) decorated their table in a unique way.  

Only at this very moment, as I'm writing, do I wish it had occurred to me to take the time to photograph each table when I found out I had arrived 45 minutes early!  Sigh.  One of these days...   One. Of. These. Days. I hope, eventually, it will start occurring to me that there are terrific things to photograph all the time.  I simply need to recognize it.  

Anyway...  the table themes ranged from traditional to whimsical, to "glamour pink", even.  Believe me, the different tables were a feast for the eyes.  And then there were favors to take home - which I forgot.  Nevermind that, mine is probably waiting for me there still.  I was just so impressed how much those ladies put into this lovely brunch.  Oh, and the food was good too.  Catered by a local coffee house, we had sandwiches, quiches, fresh fruit, salad.   It was a feast.

But getting there so early, I ended up chatting with some of the hostesses, who were so kind to tell me how good it was to see me, and asked how I'm doing.  I was so glad to be able to say I feel good and mean it.  As I chatted with a group of them, one commented on how much she liked how my hair looked.  I thanked her, but as I did, I thought the way she said it sounded like she perhaps thought she was complimenting my real hair.  I paused a second, gave her a look and said, "You know this is a wig, right?"   At which she genuinely appeared surprised!  I'm surprised this isn't the first time this has happened.  While wigs have come a long way, I can't help but feel it's obvious to the whole world that I'm wearing one.  When walking into Walmart, or Kroger (or anywhere) I feel like I should be wearing a placard announcing, "Yes, you are correct.  I am wearing a wig.  Now carry on, everyone."   

While that is both ridiculous and true, I also have times when I forget about it. 

That is, until I scratch an itch on my head and realize my hair is moving as one whole unit.   

Or, until the wind blows it around and completely messes with my "positioning" of my hair.  While modern wigs have movement, and can look like real hair (I guess), just believe me when I say wig hair does not behave like natural hair in the wind.  It just doesn't.  ETA:  To be clear...  when I say "positioning" my hair, I mean the actual hair, not the wig itself.    The wig itself can be made fairly secure to the head.  

And then there's static - which is happening now that it's cold outside.  Static on synthetic hair can seem untamable, so I've taken to carrying a fabric dryer sheet in my purse, and I have one in my car.  

And finally...  While depending on how a wig is made, they aren't necessarily terribly hot to wear in the heat, but now that it's cold outside, I'm here to tell you they can be downright cold.  Especially if the wind is strong.  Who knew this and hasn't made a PSA about it?!?  I guess I can wear a hat over my wig, but then I'll have to deal with repositioning my hat hair and static!  

So many things I've never had to think about before... 

While I'm glad my wig is evidently fairly decent looking, I'm very much looking forward to my hair growing out to a length I feel comfortable wearing, and surprising everyone all over again - hopefully sometime next spring.

That, friend, is how you turn a post about a Ladies' brunch into a discussion about wigs!

How is your December starting out?

Friday, December 1, 2023

Goodbye November...

Yesterday, the last day of November, Greg announced all the outside work was basically done and now he can enjoy winter.  😊

In November, the rogue Mulberry tree came completely down and we hired a tree removal company to take the stump all the way to the ground and grind it up.   The shrubs it was growing amongst will look so much better next summer.

Greg spent a number of autumn afternoons riding the lawn mower pulling a leaf sweep to clean up the brown leaves that took their time falling all month long.  And yesterday cleaned the last of the leaves out of the gutters.

The leaves and sheared pampas grass had their final burn on the last day of November.

As for my contribution this autumn... 

I covered the asparagus patch with the piddly little amount of leaf mold my compost bin produced, then I added new leaves to the compost bins.  Hopefully with a second bin, we'll have a bit more leaf mold next year.  Looking at the picture, I wish I'd collected more leaves, though...

I didn't have it in me to do any serious cleaning up of the strawberry bed, so I just covered it with straw for the winter this past week, and plan to neaten things up before the strawberry plants start blooming next spring.

As I was preparing to spread leaf mold on the asparagus patch, I found a couple of tiny asparagus spears growing.  I don't know if this is normal, but I was not expecting to find a tender young plant trying to get a start so late in the year.

That pretty much wraps up the garden and yard work for another year.  Last spring, I planted some things in the garden - mostly flowers, but also a few vegetables.  It turned out with surgery in June to heal from, I couldn't really tend it.  I didn't expect it to take so long to heal.  I don't regret the hard work in May, though.  Time spent tilling and planting was a welcome distraction from what was ahead for me the next 5 months.  Greg must have sensed this over the summer as we sat out back on cool evenings looking at a barren garden.  He never complained or suggested that the effort in May was wasted.  I was thankful for what was never said - it felt wonderfully generous. 

I'm looking forward to next spring and, hopefully, feeling up to putting in a garden again.  Another spring, another chance to grow things...