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I almost posted something on Valentine’s Day. But it was only an almost…….

Andy had a chance to get free roses from his work and brought a dozen red roses to me,  another to Alice, and also to Emily. Very nice!

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Just now, I am home alone. Actually, Andy is only at work, so I cannot claim that he “has fled”. But Emily and her family are at Chautauqua so they can ski over President’s Day weekend, and Alice and her family are away on a two day holiday at Castaway Bay, the water park in western Ohio owned by Cedar Point. I was there a bit over a year ago and posted about it here:   https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/busy-busy-busy/

But just now I am having a quiet weekend at home, reading, watching my new favorite Acorn TV series Lord and Master, an amusing Dutch mystery series with English subtitles, and “putzing” about. I think I will make some more soup.

Emily posted some photos of Sofia and Clara at Holiday Valley.

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Emily and the girls drove up yesterday so they could begin skiing today but Ingmar couldn’t go until after the Farmer’s Market this morning when he sells his famous pretzels and other treats. However, he is safely there now. Our neighbor Meredith posted a photo of Ingmar and their dog Jack on our porch.

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It looks as though I’ll be going on a week vacation in Florida at the end of March. We won’t be staying in Venice this time, but on Siesta Key at the south end of Sarasota. That’s closer to some of the things we enjoy doing like visiting the Mote Aquarium, the wonderful Marie Shelby Botanical Garden and the fun Sarasota Jungle Gardens. And one day I will certainly drive down to Venice to visit my friend Nancy. We met in 1980 when our children were in pre-school together. Really? Can it be 37 years already?  We were also  Girl Scout leaders together. Nancy was just telling me about the really bad red tide in Venice just now. She said if you go outside it affects your breathing and makes you feel unwell. Still, she attends morning yoga on the beach, but says everyone is coughing all the time.

Meanwhile, in other news, my daughter Alice won second place in the Boy Scout chili cook-off competition at the meeting where Nathan became a tenderfoot.

Puzzles and Surprises

These days are quiet but rather busy. I’m going to three exercise events each week, and the Artist’s Way class on Thursday evenings. This class is very rewarding, but it does require activities every day plus an “Artist’s Date” once a week. And on Tuesdays I seem to need to do a little babysitting. It’s not very much and I love to spend time with grandchildren. But the days are busy. I fit doctor’s appointments and car recall appointments in between.

Every evening Andy and I play our double solitaire, the one I learned from my mother in law who learned it from her grandmother. It’s very like the game Russian Bank in Hoyle’s book of card games. We keep a running score. Andy is ahead at the moment, but I keep hoping.

He just finished a large and challenging jigsaw puzzle, a Wentworth one called High Jinks. I bought it for myself and thought perhaps we could work on it together, but this one, being tall and narrow,  doesn’t lend itself to that.

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I first learned of these puzzles from some of my D.E. Stevenson friends who live in the U.K. Anne Stoye and I worked on one while I was her house guest in 2010. And now, my friend Geraldine from Luton has been posting about several wentworths she has been putting together. This one is fairly challenging. The books are all girls books from the past but there are repeats on those shelves which makes it tough to figure out. But Andy did it, in two nights, I think.

These puzzles are expensive, but I paid less than a third of the amazon price by going directly to the company in the UK.

I asked him if he would go with me to the Bath Church Epiphany Art Festival and this afternoon we drove over. It’s a very satisfying show with work from local artists. Some of them are very, very talented.

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They have two rooms filled with art as well as art in the sanctuary. I was very surprised in the room with smaller works such as jewelry and pottery and leather work to see some small origami books with DVDs which were labelled as the creations of Mary Lou Jubin. She is the aunt of my nephew’s wife and I have known her for more than 20 years! But I never knew about her achievements in art and music.  So, another satisfying small world event. And when I talked with some of the ladies at the reception desk it turned out that not only had they taught with her before she retired, but she is a skilled performer on the hammered dulcimer and played for three hours on the opening night. Mary Lou also gives programs at a local branch library and I think I must look into finding out when one of these is about to happen and attending it.This was my “Artist Date” for the week. It is something that is supposed to inspire one and put more joy into our lives. This certainly did all that.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Mary Oliver

 

At first my dd Em planned to drive to the March in Washington, D.C. but the friend she was going to travel with backed out. So she marched with another friend in Cleveland. I just talked with her. She’s nearly home again. She thought there were about 5,000 women/people there. (Update – Cleveland police estimate there were 15,000.)  There were lots of police who were calm and friendly as were the marchers. Sofia drew a picture for the march. This is what Emily wrote:

“Marching in the CLE!
For my fabulous daughters with big dreams.
For my smart and creative mom, sister, aunts and cousins.
For my amazing husband who lives the fact that men can contribute so much more than money to a family.
For my father who was born a refugee and believed in helping people.
For my diverse students who have so much to contribute to our country.
For my peace loving Muslim, Christian, Jewish and friends of other faiths, or no faith.
Because food is not the only great thing from Mexico.
Because all people have value. Because I am not afraid if you live your life differently than I do.”

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To see Sofia’s poster for Martin Luther King day last year – look here:

https://thickethouse.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/desultory-thoughts-in-winter/

Dear Friends…….

Christmas was so beautiful, both Christmas Eve with my daughter Alice and her family at our house, and Christmas Day with my daughter Emily and her family and their amazing tree, as tall as last year’s, about 12feet, I think, and then the delicious dinner together. Then came wonderful New Year’s Eve and both a cheese fondue and then a chocolate fondue dessert at Alice and Mike’s home……..We celebrated together, all my family. But somehow, the impulse to post anything about these joys passed me by. I do apologize! I did not realize ahead of time that I was heading into this sort of hiatus. And I am not sure it is quite over….

We are now in the joys of the slowly lightening days moving toward Spring! But first, loving the pleasures of winter, of snow. All my children enjoy skiing and have already been doing it, though the winter vacation days did not have much in the way of snow. I was worried about them last Saturday when ski club began and it was 3.7degreesF  (I think this is about -15.7 Celsius)  when I woke up. But all my offspring proclaimed it glorious because it was sunny and there was no wind.

We all love snow, at least in January when it is new and white! And we all value kindness which, apparently, shares some qualities with new snow.

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Almost Christmas

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Sunday night was the last Sunday of Advent but because of the program at the German School my granddaughters attend, we celebrated last night. There were ten of us, but the children were sometimes what my son Andy calls, “hangry”, meaning hungry and therefore cranky (angry). Lasagna helped the problem for three of them, but one was too “hangry” to eat! Still, peace was restored for the singing, and we all enjoyed it. We each had a chance to chose a song, so we sang ten carols in all and decided we might not survive another round! But it was good. Anytime a family gathers together is good, I think.

Yesterday was the first day at the new job for my sil Mike. He liked it, but first days are not usually that typical. I think, however, that it will be a good fit for him. And certainly, the commute, a half hour through the National Park and then a few minutes on another road, is wonderful compared to the highway driving he used to have to do.

I am enjoying the preparations and mostly succeeding in not becoming overwrought. I do have help. I have only a few more cards to send out and all the presents are wrapped. (Hmmmmmm…..That is not true, and not what I meant to type! I meant to say all the presents are bought. A sort of Freudian slip? Lots to do yet, but Alice is going to help me Thursday morning.) Decorating is still going on, but is very low key compared to the past.The Christmas CDs are doing their magic, and I find time, here and there, to just sit and think and count my blessings…..Tomorrow is the Solstice! And then, the long slog to the equinox, but the days will all be getting longer, day by day…

Part of me is already longing for Spring! But I can slow down and  find the beauty in every day. And that is what I wish for you all along with a very merry Christmas!

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Some of you may know one of my sons in law lost his job last March when his employer began downsizing and eliminated, I think, 26 managers and most of the division he was in.

I’ve never seen anyone work as assiduously at finding work as Mike did! Everyday he networked and attended meetings and learned about things that might help him find a new good job. And now he has one! December 19th he will begin as Manufacturing Engineering Manager for a large plant a bit north of us. And everyone is happy and we had to celebrate. So Emily and Ingmar had a celebration dinner last Sunday evening. It was another raclette event, much enjoyed by everyone!

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We had delicious bread and rolls baked by Ingmar – the equal of anything I’ve ever eaten in Europe, but so impossible to find here. And several kinds of meat – bacon, prosciutto, chicken, shrimp were on the table, and tiny potatoes and onions, asparagus tips, sprouts, zucchini, real Raclette cheese, and mushrooms…And best of all, wonderful company in the happiest of spirits.

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We did not grill the sprouts, of course!

School holidays do not begin until the 21st, but everyone is feeling the excitement in the air! Decorations begin going up……(The blue plaque is a Hungarian house blessing which is always up at Alice’s.)

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Stephen has been entertaining himself in unusual ways…….

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(You can see some Christmas decorations in the next picture.)

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When the tower is complete he shoots out one of the lowest cups and watches it all fall down….And then begins again!