» Keep Reading
Posts Categorized: Joy
Yeah, I know. Christmas is made of yummy things. Too many yummy things. But those are some of the memorable things of which Christmas (and other holidays) are made. It’s just not Christmas if we don’t have: Mimi’s cornbread dressing/decorated sugar cookies/homemade cranberry sauce/pecan pie/mashed potatoes with peas/pumpkin pie/sweet potato pie/____(add your own family’s favorite here)___. And, to be honest, nobody in our family really loves those vegetable-based pies; but I know some folks do.
» Keep Reading
First, I had a good idea. It took a couple of years before I got to the great part. Here’s how it came about:
» Keep Reading
How lovely are your branches! I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smells and the joy and the wonder and all the other stuff. Like lots and lots of other folks do.
For our first Christmas, we bought a tree at K-Mart. A tree in a box. There was a looming dock strike, and the most talked-about threat was not loss of jobs, not disaster for small businesses. It was, “There won’t be any Christmas trees!” Apparently, fresh evergreen trees are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. And we, not knowing anything different, went to K-Mart for a tree. It was one of those “bottle-brush” artificial trees. We had some ornaments that people in the apartment across from us had left behind when they moved. We’d been to a nice department store and, as we got to the top of the escalator, we smelled the smell of Christmas. We bought the aerosol spray. And we were all set.
The only thing we didn’t have was a tree-top ornament.
We used that tree for several years, then we bought a house and it had 10 foot ceilings. The old tree seemed too short for the new space.
David had been doing work for some folks, out in the country. He’d seen a tree he thought would work for us, and it needed to be cut down anyway. It was great. It made the house smell like Christmas. And instead of the miniature lights that were required, at the time, for artificial trees, we used the large, real Christmas lights that I knew from my childhood. (They were the handed-down lights from Mother and Daddy, so they may have been the lights of my childhood!)
A couple of years later, some friends bought some land out in the country and needed to do some clearing. They offered their place for tree-cutting for Christmas trees. And we went. But, here in Central Texas, the kinds of “evergreen” trees we have growing locally are Cedar Junipers. Yes, they are evergreen. Yes, they smell like Christmas. But they are rather ball-shaped, as opposed to the usual pyramid/cone type of tree that one gets at the tree lot. And, an enormous problem with going out to the country to cut a tree that’s growing out under God’s big, blue sky, is that they don’t look all that big, out there, in the wild.
We had those kinds of trees, for years. Big, full balls of Christmas trees that filled about a third of the dining room. They held several strings of lights and lots and lots of ornaments. But: 1) they do not really have “tops.” They’re a big ball. And 2) they banged right up against the ceiling. David put a big hook (like you would use for a swag light or a hanging plant) into the ceiling and tied the tree to it each year.
So, no tree-top ornament. For years.
I resisted the idea of an artificial tree for a long time, mainly because I still wanted those big-bulbed tree lights (you know, the ones from my childhood). A few years ago, I saw an artificial tree at Lowe’s. It had small lights AND big lights!! It cost about a hundred dollars, and I thought that was too much and didn’t get it. And I was instantly sorry. It would be less than the cost of ten trees over ten years time. I went back to Lowe’s and it was gone. I told JoAnne about my poor decision, after I’d been to HEB and gotten a fresh (sort of fresh) tree. She called me a few days later, after her family had gone to Tyler to visit Jim’s mom. “I’m standing in the Lowe’s here, and I think I see the tree you wanted. Do you want me to get it?” Oh, yes, I did want her to get it. It stood, in its box in the garage, for the whole next year, when JoAnne and Natalie were back, and we put it together, and plugged it in. Ta-Dah. An artificial tree with the lights of my childhood.
This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were with us for Thanksgiving. On Friday, we got that great tree out of its box and worked together putting it up, plugging it in, and decorating. They brought in all the Christmas boxes from the garage, and opened them up to put out other decorations. Jeremy pulled a box from the large can that held the Christmas stockings and asked “What’s this?”
“It’s the tree-top ornament that belonged to my grandparents,” I said.
“Let’s use it,” he said.
“I don’t think it will work,” I said. The opening at the bottom is narrow, and the artificial tree, while not the stiff bottle-brushed tree of our early years still has a rather, um, bristley upright center.
“I’ll try,” he said.
“No, don’t,” I fretted. “It’s very old, and I don’t want it to break.”
“It’ll be all right,” he insisted. And he gently pushed it onto the top of the tree.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)
Isaac Watts wrote the the words to “Joy to the World,” based on the second half of Psalm 98. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas carol. But, aren’t we glad that it turned out that way. Our Christmas traditions, celebrations, and joy are gifts we receive and gifts we give others. Glad tidings to you and yours.
» Keep Reading
I know lots of people think spring in the best season of the year. And spring is great. Stuff starts growing, flowers begin blooming, and the weather is nice. But here in Central Texas, fall is my favorite.
» Keep Reading
Sometimes they stay the same. Sometimes they keep on changing.
Peter was here a few weeks ago. He was wandering around the house while I was making a list on the computer. “Mimi,” he said, as he walked by the room. “I’m going to call you. Get your phone.”
» Keep Reading
I went out to get the mail, about a week and a half ago. When I opened the door, I startled a black swallowtail butterfly, who immediately fluttered away. I rushed back into the house to get my phone. I went back out and stood quietly by the door and waited to see if it would return.
It did. I have a miniature yellow rose bush that stays in a pot on the front porch all the time. It’s a great plant, returning from near death, sometimes more than once a summer. In the spring I plant some rue in there, too, because I like the way it looks. It’s not as heat tolerant, which I forget each year, and it gives up in July. But, I buy more in September, and it grows nicely until a frost. It also attracts butterflies.
I was really hopeful. Every day when I watered the plant, I did it carefully, not just squirting water all over the plant, as usual, but running water gently into the dirt. I don’t know what black swallowtail butterfly eggs look like, but I think they’re pretty small. So … just in case.
Last Monday, I got the sprinkler and went to gently and carefully water the rose bush/rue plants and …
I immediately put down the hose, got in the car, and drove to the nursery. My previous experience with caterpillars (not lots, but a couple of times) is that will eat up ALL of whatever it is they’re on. All. Every morsel. Once I had caterpillars on some parsley. After they ate it ALL, I was frantic. There were several of them, and I’d already put in lots of energy on them. In desperation, I went to the grocery store and bought some parsley. They did not like it at all. Too cold? Different variety? Too clean? I don’t know. But, they gave up and pupated and I got butterflies. A couple of summers ago, I had them on rue, and they ate all that up. So this time, I wasn’t taking any chances. I went to buy more rue, before they ate up what I had.
I went to the nursery nearest me. I walked around the herb section and didn’t see any. An employee came over and asked if I needed help. “I’m looking for rue,” I said. “I don’t know what that is,” she said. “It’s an herb.” “Oh, well. I’ve just been working here for two weeks.”
I explained that I had some caterpillars, and I needed some more rue. “Oh,” she said, understanding. “You want to treat the caterpillars.” She meant “get rid of them.”
“No,” I said. “I want to buy them lunch.”
So we went off to find the owners, who might know if there was any rue.
We found them working in the shrub area. She called out to them and said, “This lady wants some rue. Do we have that?”
“Yes,” said the owner, taking off her gloves and walking up to us. “They’re herbs.”
“And,” she went on, “Up by the register, I have three of them. They have caterpillars.”
“No thanks,” I said. “I’ve already got caterpillars.”
“She wants to buy them lunch,” said the first employee.
We went and found the rue plants, and found another one with a teeeeny little caterpillar on it. “No, thanks,” I said again. “I have the caterpillar part.” I bought four (other) small plants and took them home. By then, it was afternoon and warm, so I left the caterpillars munching their way through what I had, and waited until the next morning, when I could work in cooler temperatures and shade. I dug up the rue plant that had the caterpillars on it and put it in a small container. I put that into the middle of the caterpillar habitat (yes, I have a caterpillar habitat), and put the four new rue plants around it. And waited.
That’s where we are, as of Thursday evening. I’ll keep you up to date.
“And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:30 (New International Version)
Yes. That’s pretty much what I’ve observed.
Sugar and spice and everything nice/snips and snails and puppy dog tails
We learned those poetic lines, when I was a child, to describe what little girls and little boys were “made of.” But, maybe the parents of boys were offended to think that their sons did not have all sorts of nice things included inside them, also. And maybe parents of daughters thought that an appreciation of nature and God’s good world was an appropriate topic for girls, too.
All in all, it’s really inappropriate to tag an entire people group with identical qualities, whether positive or negative. “All blondes are unintelligent.” “Left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people.” “All men are (fill in the blank with your idea).” “Women should always (include your own belief here).” We all have some biases, and sometimes they’re really wrong. We’ve grown up with the attitudes and viewpoints of the people around us, some may be spot-on, but some of them may be truly inaccurate.
There’s lots of information about the differences in male brains and female brains. And there’s lots of information that says all those differences end up being negligible. Some experts say that boys are hard-wired for some behaviors and girls for other behaviors. Other professionals say that those differences can be attributed to how boys and girls are raised.
There’s research and there’s also anecdotal information. My sister’s older son’s first purposeful sounds were the vroom, vroom sounds he made as he pushed toy cars and trucks across the floor. Her younger son’s first sounds were bang, bang sounds as he pointed his fingers around the room, as though to shoot things off the walls. Her third child, a daughter, who lived in a world of vroom-vrooms, and bang-bangs, made first sounds that were the gentler mews of kitties and babies. Interesting. (The daughter grew up to be a teacher. The car guy became a lawyer. And the gun guy, after high school, became a soldier. And after college, he became a police officer. Also interesting.)
Maybe more important than the x chromosomes and y chromosomes that we hand down to our kids, are the genetic messages that hold the information for physical traits that encourage different heights and weights and body types and eye/hand coordination, or the mental genetic wiring that helps with math or reading or an ear for music and rhythm or for ease in learning different languages. Kids come with some inborn abilities, but there’s so much else that parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and school friends and teachers and so on and so on, give to our children.
All that said …
That amazing zoo was created a couple of years ago. Last Sunday, for “God Created Animals,” I put the zoo animals in the block area again. These boys also made a zoo.
I’m sure the kids have seen instructional videos and learned about the cycle of life. Lions do eat zebras and giraffes, and tigers do chase after deer and antelope and wild boar. And that pacing jaguar Peter and I saw at our local zoo last week may indeed be considering a jail break attempt. It’s just really interesting to me how different the play of boys and the play of girls can be. Not all the time. But sometimes.
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (The Message)
I understand that this passage refers to spiritual gifts. But everyone also comes with some innate abilities or leanings or interests. Some of what we have is honed by our family situations, our school experiences, our neighborhoods, and how we are encouraged or discouraged as we grow. I want to provide an environment where kids can choose interesting things to do and work alone or with others as they are creative and purposeful in their activities. I want to make good choices myself as I’m deciding when to say, “That’s a good idea,” and when to say, “That’s enough. Time to make another choice.”
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I like to shop at Target. And how I understand that they are using all sorts of marketing techniques (which I know I don’t even recognize) to get me to shop there. I just know that when I walk in the door, I want to shop. But I’ve been a little reluctant to venture in the place for the past couple of weeks. (Oh, I’ve gone, all right. I just go fast.) It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time!!
And because many, many people feel the same way I do about Target, there are lots of moms and dads and teens and kids milling around. In all areas of the store, not just the school supply aisles. (Yes, I saw the article last week in the paper that said that Target’s sales had slipped the past quarter, or so, but, frankly, it looks like we’re making up the difference here in my Target.)
» Keep Reading