musings

Thinking Back & Ahead

As 2017 draws to an end, like many of you I’m reliving some of the past months and thinking ahead to what the next year will bring.

IMG_8569January and February are blurs as most of that time was spent laid up thanks to surgery to rebuild a heel bone and reattach an Achilles tendon.  To say the least, I’m glad that’s behind me and grateful for that being the worst health issue I’ve had.

IMG_8633Getting out was a treat even though it often meant scooting around rather than walking.

By March I was back in the kitchen experimenting with new food ideas and challenging myself to spend some of the down time working on food photography.

Having a bit more mobility in April allowed me to take advantage of exhibits at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where Ron Mueck’s life like sculptures were both intriguing and a tad scary.

By the end of May, we were on the road to Maine making stops in Savannah and South Carolina to explore the low country and binge on yummy food.

Arriving in Maine, the first order of business was to replace the water facing porch, the maintenance for which had eaten the hubby’s lunch over the years.  What an improvement and hubby will be ever so happy next year when all he has to do is put the furniture out!

Pipe DreamsAfter a month of projects, it was time in July to do what we like best: explore Maine’s coast and islands on Pipe Dreams.

August was family time, and it makes my heart sing to see how much the grandkids enjoy the magic of Maine.

foggy dayMuch of September was shrouded in fog which limited boating but provided good excuse to discover what else Maine has to offer.

In October, we journeyed to the Moosehead Lake region where we enjoyed natural beauty and stumbled upon a memorial that introduced us to a tragic event about which we knew nothing.

img_0004A dream came true in November when girlfriends traveled together in India.  Bus rides got to be a bit much, but the adventure was one that more than met expectations and provided us with memories to share.

IMG_0090Though we had expected to end 2017 in Maine, winter got the best of us and we returned to Houston to celebrate the coming of a new year with long time friends.

As with every other year, there will be bumps in the road in 2018, but for all of us I hope for good health and well being and light on those days when things don’t look too bright.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Holidays, Tablescapes

It’s Time!

Four days until Thanksgiving means it’s time to get my act together.

The first thing, my favorite, is setting the table which means bringing out the dryer hose pumpkins and the Della Robbia dishes. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving at this house without them!

The challenge is thinking of some new way to use them each year. Hmmm, how about mixing them with some almost real pumpkins, a few fall leaves and some green apples?

As I add each piece to the table, I am overwhelmed by memories.

Some memories are of people who are no longer with us and whose chairs have been filled by new family members.

Other memories are of years when our family was a little out of sync. Those may not be the most pleasant, but they, too, are part of our Thanksgiving story.

As every item is brought out, I think of where it came from and who brought a special little treasure to add to the table.

Most of all I think about all that my family has to be thankful for which is reason enough to put all else behind us.

As I hold on to those few things that are repeated year after year, I find myself hoping that when daughters take over this holiday they might hold on to them, too.

With the table done and reflections safely stored, it’s time to move to the next step, thinking about what is needed from the grocery for the familiar favorites that will be on the table.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Digging’ It and Dishin’ It

 

Boating, Maine

Magic Moments

After scanning the cruising guide and choosing an island to explore, it is not hard to imagine that magic moments are ahead.

It is always magical to head out on a calm sea beneath a sky so blue and clear it almost seems unreal.

With children on board, it is a magic moment seeing the excitement over “driving” the boat ably assisted, of course, by Otto the auto pilot.

Once arriving at the chosen island and securely anchoring,

it is a magic moment watching a child making his first effort at rowing the dinghy ashore.

A magic moment is hearing shrieks of laughter as cold water washes over bare feet

and sharing a child’s excitement at finding a walking stick and pretending to be an explorer.

It is magic to find an abundance of sun warmed and sweet raspberries and eating them as fast as they are picked.

A magic moment is the sun shining on a child’s face as he dozes and dreams of the just finished adventure.

Magic moments are what make cherished memories.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Art, musings

Toilet Paper And a Silk Sleep Hat

Created by Crystal Cawley of Portland, Maine

Before I could say a word, the hubby said, “Remind you of Grandma?”

“Yes,” I answered softly as memories of my mother came flooding in.

For as long as I can remember, Mother wrapped her hair in toilet paper and covered it with a silk sleep hat every night.  From week to week when she had it washed and set again not a hair moved.  If she could feel the wind blow through her hair she’d fuss that it was making her hair a mess.  Still, not a hair moved, and I don’t remember ever touching her hair as that was an unspoken no.

As time passed and I first married and then had children, this ritual continued and it became a family joke, not because we disapproved but because we found it humorous that Mother’s concern was always about her hair.   It was as if it defined who she was, and maybe it did.

So for years the ritual continued.  Then came the time when I would stop in to visit her after she’d had dinner.  Sometimes she’d be in her gown playing solitaire or what she thought to be solitaire, but more often than not she’d already be in bed asleep despite the early hour.  What was missing was the sleep hat.

For some reason I found that very upsetting.  Her hair fixation was a part of life and seeing it become unkempt caused me to feel a little ungrounded.  I began going over a little earlier to wrap her hair and cover it with the sleep hat.  She’d question why and I’d answer lamely that it was to keep her hair from getting messed up.  She’d respond that it would be OK in the morning after she brushed it.  That didn’t happen.

It was something so simple but so significant that let me know that things were changing at a faster pace than I was prepared for.  I had accepted the diagnosis of dementia, but as long as things continued in a somewhat normal fashion I had no idea what that really meant.  Knowledge came quickly, and as any of you who have dealt with dementia know, the  deteriorating process is emotionally painful.  In her lucid moments, Mother said often, “Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind.”  She was, but right until the end I had her hair done and in the few hours that it stayed nice, I could pretend that things were as they always had been.

Today is Mother’s birthday, and I hope she doesn’t mind that I have shared this little story.  Her years of protecting her hair with toilet paper and a silk sleep hat are an endearing memory.  Who knows, one of these days I may take up the habit!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Tablescapes, Travel

Some Things Aren’t Planned

ProvenceSome years ago, a daughter and I had one of those impulsive moments when we decided there was no better time to go to Provence than a couple of days later.  Excuse for such a whim was the need to exchange a pair of shoes which had been purchased months before.  Good enough, right?

As luck would have it, rather than the moderate winter weather we expected, it turned bitter cold and started snowing.  The result was like what happens in Houston when a few snowflakes fall. Traffic came to a screeching halt, 18 wheelers where slipping and sliding all over the road and what should have been a 45 minute drive was turning into an all day trip filled with tension.

As we inched along, I spied a sign reading FAIENCE with an arrow pointing to a nearby building.  That was all it took to get me off the road as at that point any diversion would be a welcome relief.

Of course, the shop was closed thanks to the inclement weather, but spying two desperate looking women parked in his driveway, the owner took pity and came out of his warm home to open his very cold workshop.

Oh, how the day did brighten as we wandered among his colorful and unique creations.

Whether out of gratitude or because I really liked his work I came away with four dinner plates and four salad plates no two of which were alike.  Not until we were underway again did I think about the challenge of getting them home without breakage.  So it is that every time the table is set with these dishes, each of which is undamaged, memories come flooding back of an impromptu adventure that had more than a few surprises.  

Oh, did we exchange the shoes? Let’s put it this way…..we tried!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday

 

Houston

Things Change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShortly after we married, the hubby and I bought a house in a small town that is smack dab in the middle of Houston.  At the time, the neighborhood had grown old.  Houses were mostly bungalows with a smattering of two story homes, most of which needed updating.  The majority of lots were 50×100.  

Along the way something happened.  Houston grew and grew making close in property more and more valuable.  That meant that in our little town old houses gave way to bulldozers

West Uand were replaced with big new ones.

Surprisingly, the house we lived in for 20 years stayed standing, but last week that changed.  Like all the others around it, it came down.

P3021528In a matter of minutes it was rubble, and the hubby and I had moments of nostalgia as we looked at the home that held so many memories.  The two of us had totally remodeled the house over a five year period.  We did all the work except for the sheetrock and floor tile in the space we added.  Looking back, we marvel at the energy we had and remember how proud we were of each step forward.

P3021524The house may be gone, but what didn’t come down is the sweetgum tree we planted the first year we had the house, and we laughed as we remembered its story.  It was to be a birthday surprise, but it was spoiled by the assistant who answered the phone when I called the hubby.  “Oh,” she said, “he’s not here.  He went to get your tree.”  When he came home with it, I tried to act surprised, but laughter overcame me and I had to tell him he had been foiled.

By the time we had kids, the tree had grown enough for it to become the climbing tree for every kid on the block. I can see them now and hear their young voices as they nestled in the limbs.  You know, things change, but the memories we hold dear stay with us.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Table Settings, Tablescapes

Wait, There’s More!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor sure there is more to this New Year’s Eve table other than it being created around the centerpiece of holly trees and finials that has inspired  each of my December tables.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo, this one begins with the china that is one of the few things I have that belonged to my mother.  It is not likely what I would have picked, but it is dear to me because of the memories it evokes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t remember ever having seen her use the little salt cellars.  I found them in a cabinet after she died and have no idea of their origin, but I held on to them without thinking about how their gold trim was a perfect complement to the china.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Fostoria glasses were also Mother’s, and the soup spoons came from my  mother-in-law’s kitchen.  From her I have even fewer things than from my mother, but she left me with a heart full of love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe wine glasses have a story starting with the one in the middle. Years ago I was with my parents in an antique shop in North Carolina where they were then living.  For whatever reason the glasses caught my eye and when Daddy saw me holding one and turning it this way and that he said, “Sis, if you like those, why don’t we get them?”  Done, and so began my collection of mismatched etched stemware.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the napkin rings hold their own story and remind me of the time when a daughter and I were to meet in London and go on to the Cotswolds.  At the last minute, her trip was cancelled thanks to an unexpected business decision, but I went on since my ticket was nonrefundable.  It turned out to be a wonderful solo adventure, and the napkin rings were a purchase at a small shop in the middle of nowhere filled with handmade items.  That explains the attraction!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, that’s the story of the table, and for me remembering the people and places that each piece represents makes it a great way to end the year.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Tablescape Thursday