Stuck in a Time Warp

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This darling handmade angel was sent me by my customer Sandra who lives in Florida. I just love her.

A Christmas time warp.  Here it is, January 29th, and I have to confess to you that I have not taken down one lick of my Christmas decorations yet.  In my defense, I didn’t finish getting the house decorated until the night of December 23rd.  What about you?

I’m not quite tired of them yet but I think by the first week of February, they will be heading back to their little beds to sleep until next December.

There has been something inordinately cheery about having all these lovely things to look at during the dark days of the past month. I think we have seen the sun about 3 times. It gets wearing.  It’s nice to have a little cheer inside when the world outside is not so great.  Besides, last year, I did not get any decorating done with everything that had been going on.

But this year, we had a truly wonderful Christmas. No hospital stays (3 of the past 5 Christmases have been spent in the hospital with either my mom or the Mister).  We had so much to be grateful for. And at the very last minute, my sister and her 3 girls decided to come down here to spend Christmas with us. They rolled in about 3 in the afternoon on Christmas Day.  She even brought the turkey!  We had the most lovely time, our little family around the table for a superb dinner with all the trimmings. Then presents afterwards and a well-deserved good night’s sleep.  When they left on Boxing Day, the house seemed pretty empty for awhile.

On the spur of the moment, when they were leaving home to come down here, my sister went up into my parents’ attic and brought Mom’s snow babies with her so we could put them on the table.  My mother, who grew up in Baltimore County, MD, always loved the elaborate “Christmas garden” her family had under the tree.  Included in this set up were snow babies – the real ones. We have no idea what became of those but at some point Mom starting collecting the Department 56 repros and she put them on the dining room table where they scampered around doing whatever it is that snow babies do.  To have her collection with us this Christmas was the icing on the cake.  I put this little one on my tree.

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My mother’s snow baby, swinging on a star

Getting back to decorating, I managed to get 2 big trees up and decorated plus a feather tree for the Pleasure Dome (that’s the Mister’s music/reading/TV refuge).  Other than that, the decor is fairly minimal but I made sure there was a touch of the festive season in every room downstairs.   And Edward came by about a week before Christmas and we got the outside lights up!  It’s just not Christmas around here without them.  They are still up, too.

I thought I would share some photos with you.

This is the big tree.

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For the first time in my life, I had a fake tree for the main event.  I did not have anybody to help me wrestle a giant, heavy tree into place this year so I decided to go with a “permanent botanical.”  It was not a decision made lightly, I can attest to that. At first it was weird,  but as I kept going, I kinda started liking the way the ornaments went on – especially the big ones.  By the time it was finished, it was darn near impossible to tell that this is not a real Fraser fir. Can you tell?

Now that it is almost February, I can tell you unreservedly that it was pretty cool not to have to worry about watering.  Or having to vacuum up tons of dry needles all over the place.  Or burning the house down!

But the best thing of all is that I did not have to put those blasted LIGHTS on the tree!!!!  I hate lights!!!!

It took me bits of several days to do decorate this one but I had the absolute best time with it.  Every ornament I pulled out made me smile.  Christmas music was playing.  All was right in my world.

I put the other large tree in the garden room.  That’s the tree that has mostly vintage ornaments on it.  I like to sit out there late at night, with just the tree and candlelight, a glass of wine (or two) and listen to music. It’s glorious.

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From my vantage point, I can see the other tree in the next room.  Maybe you can see why I am so reluctant to let all this go.

Christmas came and went for me very quickly.  It’s only a month down the road but it seems so far away already.  Still I have plenty of reminders.

Including some wonderful gifts.  My friends totally get me. Here are a couple of the treasures I received from them.

I also got this adorable old elephant – the one with the red bow.  He is joining the rest of my herd of well-loved pachyderms under the tree.

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Earlier this month we had the most beautiful snowstorm. I love snow.  And I especially love it when I do not have to get out in it – as in to drive to work or something – which I didn’t.  I stayed put and gloried in it, spending a lot of time out in the garden room reading my new Christmas books and watching the snowflakes fall and then, later on, the birds flitting around (don’t worry, I kept the feeders well-stocked).

Emma loved it, too!

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Even the trees inside looked prettier once the sun came out.

I have unashamedly and without any guilt (well, almost none) not done much of anything this past month.  After the challenges of the past 2 years, it has been wonderful to kick back and just relax.  I needed a break.

But now it’s time to get back to reality.

After  great deal of thought, I have made the decision to back off from my show schedule this year to allow me to bring some balance back into my life. I have not made firm decisions yet about the second half of the year but I am going to pass on the spring shows this time around. There are many things I have neglected on the home front and I look forward to getting something accomplished there. These range from closets that desperately need cleaning out to doing some redecorating and getting back to gardening.  And traveling – I really want to do some traveling.

This most assuredly does NOT mean that I will not be working.  I will.

In fact, I intend to be back in the workshop in the next couple of weeks.  I still have people waiting for wreaths and centerpieces and I want to get more done early in the year so that I do not run out of product when the holidays roll around. That’s what happened in 2016.

I am looking very forward to getting the creative juices flowing again.  That not only makes me extremely happy but gives me a sense of purpose. We all need that.

There are signs of some life in the garden.  The so-called “stinking” hellebores are coming into bloom.  Whoever decided on that nickname maligned a wonderful workhorse of a plant.

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The hellebores are coming into bloom. This is helleborus foetidus

And I have beautiful hyacinths blooming in the kitchen.  Their fragrance is divine.

“If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul”
– Muslihuddin Sadi,
13th Century Persian Poet

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I hope that you all are well and thriving in this new year.  I’ll be back soon with more. For now, I’ll leave you with a gratuitous dog picture.

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Really, you must admit she is adorable.   🙂

Oh, and I wanted to show you this collage from Instagram of the “9 best posts” for 2016.  I’d say wreaths were the winner, wouldn’t you?

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You can follow along with me here.  It’s not all about Christmas, I promise.

 

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Christmas

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There is one more good thing about Winter—he brings Christmas. Through the bleak December the thought of the coming festival is pleasant—like the reflection of a fire on our faces…. Christmas-day is the pleasantest day in the whole year. On that day we think tenderly of distant friends; we strive to forgive injuries—to close accounts with ourselves and the world—to begin the new year with a white leaf, and a trust that the chapter of life about to be written will contain more notable entries, a fairer sprinkling of good actions, fewer erasures made in blushes, and fewer ugly blots than some of the earlier ones. And to make Christmas perfect, the ground should be covered and the trees draped with snow; the bleak world outside should make us enjoy all the more keenly the comforts we possess; and above all, it should make us remember the poor and the needy; for a charitable deed is the best close of any chapter of our lives, and the best promise, too, for the record about to be begun.

~Alexander Smith, “Winter,” 1863

I wish each of you a joyous Christmas.  Thank you for coming along with me again this year.

May the blessings of the season be upon you.

And may there be peace on earth.

How Did It Get to be February Already?

Time is speeding by at an alarming pace. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m still stuck in some other space-time continuum…like maybe around the first week of January.  Good grief.  I need for things to slow down.

I actually like winter just fine – granted I don’t live in Minnesota – but I like the turning inwards that the cold allows us to have if we so wish. I wonder if that is just a part of aging?

I’ve been able to do some buying so that when I am able to have some blocks of time to get out to my workshop, I can get busy making new things.  It won’t be soon enough!  Here are a few things that have come my way.

A passel of pretty things - just part of a large lot I was able to purchase from a friend who was down-sizing his collection.

A passel of pretty things – just part of a large lot I was able to purchase from a friend who was down-sizing his collection.

Three Wise Men from Germany. Made of papier mache and a little worn but I like them that way.

Three Wise Men from Germany. Made of papier-mache and a little worn but I like them that way.

And a lovely collection of little old corsages. I love using them in my wreaths.

And a lovely collection of little old corsages. I love using them in my wreaths.

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DId you all survive “Snowmageddon” in late January?  I ended up being home by myself – just me and the animals.  Some of Patrick’s blood tests were not going the way the doctors wanted (a combination of that pesky kidney still not totally settled into its new home plus some nasty side effects from the powerful anti-rejection meds).  So, on the Wednesday before the storm, they told us he would have to come back to the hospital at UVA for a couple of days.  They had hoped to get things straightened out before the storm hit  but that was not to happen.

I drove him up there late Wednesday afternoon and got back home about 9 that night. The storm rolled in Friday morning – and, boy, was it a doozy.  Here in Richmond, we got about 12 inches or so and when it drifted, it was even more.  I actually was not able to get my car out of our alley driveway until the following Tuesday.  Poor Patrick was stuck – they actually would have released him Saturday but there was no way on earth that anyone could get there to get him. Finally on Monday, when I once again could not get my car out, a friend was able to drive up to retrieve him.  It was a tough stay for him – he got awfully lonely and sad all by himself.  Because he tested positive for a CMV virus earlier, he was not allowed out of his room and anyone who entered had to mask and gown up.

For me, as long as we did not lose power or heat, I was doing ok.  I actually love the snow and I loved being able to sit inside and watch the winter wonderland unfolding out my windows.

This was the scene Friday afternoon as things were beginning to crank up.  How could anyone not think this is beautiful?

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And exactly 24 hours later, this is how the same scene looked.IMG_5164 - Version 2

Saturday turned into a whiteout.  It was quite something to behold.IMG_5236 - Version 2This is looking out to the front yard and across the street.IMG_5244And just a little bit later, you could barely make out the trees in the front.  It made for an interesting impressionistic view.IMG_5250Looking out an upstairs window towards the playhouse and neighbors’ yards.IMG_5247 - Version 2

Emma P doesn’t mind going out in it and gamboling. Thank goodness,  But the snowballs she attracts all over her paws and legs the second she goes out are a real pain.  It takes forever to get them off.IMG_5234 - Version 2

As night fell, the view continued to be beautiful.  Even Gabby liked it just fine.IMG_5155

The Christmas lights were still up and our solitary reindeer proudly stood guard over the front door.IMG_5135 - Version 2

Unfortunately, once the sun came out on Sunday he was mortally wounded by an avalanche off the roof. 😟

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This was the scene on the patio looking towards the door the Mister generally goes in and out of.  That’s a lot of snow!  Maybe it was a good thing he wasn’t home after all.IMG_5264 - Version 2 (1)

Sunday morning, Emma P And I went out to see what was going on in the ‘hood.  It was tough walking but, oh, so beautiful.IMG_5274

We are so blessed with our neighbors.  Our next door neighbor took it upon himself to shovel the front walk and sidewalk AND to make a path for me from the kitchen door to the alley where my car was.

IMG_5266 - Version 2 I tried to dig out the car but even my Swedish all-wheel drive was no match for the drifts in the alley.  I got stuck.  Until the garbage trucks or some other large vehicle came by, I was going nowhere.  But my back-door neighbors, who were away from home for the storm, got back Monday afternoon and their strong bunch of teenagers dug so much snow from around the car that it looked like an airport runway.  Dad drove their big SUV up and down the alley a few times and, voila!  I could get out.

What would we ever do without our neighbors?

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But enough about snow.  It’s all gone now – even the mountains of dirty snow in all the parking lots.

The following Saturday, a friend and I made our way down to Petersburg to go antiquing.  I was hoping to find some Christmas treasures.  And though we had a fun time, we came home empty-handed.

If you are ever in Petersburg, VA be sure to have lunch in the Blue Willow Tea Room.  We had a lovely, leisurely time which fortified us to get back out on the hunt for treasure.

This chalkboard paint mural is on the side of a building on one of Petersburg’s main streets downtown.  It gave us pause for thought.  As I read what people had written, I was in turns heartened, saddened, taken aback, or delighted.  What do you want before you die?IMG_5291 - Version 2

Sadly, we got to this place too late.  It is a rambling rabbit’s warren of stuff and I’ve found some terrific things there in the past.  Still, the window display was interesting.  I especially liked the “folks” in the upstairs windows.IMG_5293 - Version 2

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February 4th marked exactly 3 months since the transplant surgery.  I’m a superstitious soul and had not taken off the orange “Care Partners” bracelet they gave me at the hospital that day.  The bracelet is kind of like a pass to get into and out of the hospital and parking deck.  I finally reached the point where I felt comfortable taking it off so I asked Patrick to do the honors.IMG_5322 - Version 2

Perhaps we should have celebrated but I’m not anxious for the universe to think I am getting too cocky so I kept it on the down low.  Still, I feel like things are moving slowly but surely in a positive direction.  I think the pace is way too slow for him, though. That’s understandable – he has been through hell and back.

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Last Sunday, I spent some time catching up on magazines and finally got to the Winter edition of one of my favorites, an obscure little gardening publication called Green Prints.  It’s a delight, a soul soother, and one of those small things that helps me to retain some faith in the goodness of the world around me.

As usual, there was something that was just right.  It is the italicized quote in the below photo.  It’s good to have a reminder of just what you need every now and then when you’re feeling down or worried about things.  It was really gray and gloomy outside but I felt so much better after reading this.
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I think I am going to use this quote to make a new Glittermoon card.  What do you think?

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m going to leave you with a photo of an early Valentine I received from Paddy.  He had someone take him to a local French bakery on Thursday.  It was really yummy!IMG_5336

Happy Valentine’s everyone!

First Snow

No matter how old I get, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I wake up to find it is snowing.

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And just like every kid, I felt sad when it stopped this afternoon.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.

J. B. Priestley

 

 

Christmas

Snowy Walk with Chester

“Love awoke one winter’s night
And wander’d through the snowbound land,
And calling to beasts and birds
Bid them his message understand.

And from the forest all wild things
That crept or flew obeyed love’s call,
And learned from him the golden words
Of brotherhood for one and all.”

–   Author Unknown


 

Merry Christmas to each of you.  May your every dream come true.

 

 

 

Sometimes Life’s Not a Bowl of Cherries

DSC_0238 - Version 2Last week, I made the wrenching decision to withdraw from the Country Living Fair in Nashville this April.

It was something I had thought about for a few weeks, often waking during the night stressing over it, but fought against as long as I could.  Finally, I had to admit that it was the right thing to do.

It was the right thing to do because since late January, my husband has been seriously ill.  He was in the hospital for a little more than 5 weeks and now is in a physical rehabilitation center, trying to get his strength and some medical stability back.  I’m quite sure I needn’t tell you that it’s been a pretty grueling time for both of us.

We are private people; I’m not often comfortable spilling things of a personal nature and so that’s why this will come as a surprise to most of you.  Fortunately for us both, we have a small but strong support network of friends and family who have been true godsends.  Even in the midst of trying times, there is something to be grateful for.

But for obvious reasons, I have not been able to work much at all – even to the point of not being able to do my bookkeeping for 2014.  In addition, in the middle of all this, our long-planned kitchen renovation kicked off a couple of weeks ago.  So, I’ve had my hands pretty full lately.

Because I felt that I would not be well prepared for the show and because I am not sure that I will be able to go away from home for a week without worrying about the husband’s status, I decided that the better part of valor was to withdraw.  I hated doing it because I was really looking forward to being in Nashville for the debut of what I am sure will be a fabulous show.  I also hated doing it because I dislike withdrawing from a commitment; it’s just bad form. But, honestly, once the decision was made, I was relieved not to have that one particular bit of stress hanging over my head.  My relief was magnified by the immense kindness the wonderful folks at Stella Shows (who put on the CL Fairs) showed me when I called to withdraw.  It’s one more reason why I am very thankful to be a CL Fair vendor – to be able to work with such great people. I’m still hoping to be at the Fair in Rhinebeck, NY come June.  At least now, I have some breathing room.

Hopefully, things are settling down a little and I will be back in my workshop very soon. I certainly am pining to be making something.  This week, I had the electrician who is doing the kitchen work take care of an electrical problem I was having out there and I had to move a bunch of stuff.  Maybe this weekend, I can get out there, get things organized, and get going on a new project.

Spring is here!  We don’t feel it quite yet but the daffodils are beginning their show and hope stirs after a long, hard, cold winter. That’s the beauty of Winter – you know that, no matter what, Spring will come.  And it will.

Little Happy with Daffodils