Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Counting Their Chickens…

At the risk of upsetting my Alabama friends, I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign that greeted me at the entrance to Academy Sports today.

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Do y'all suppose if Alabama loses they'll just hang black wreaths on the doors and close up for a week while half the state is in mourning?  And have you ever wondered what happens to all that stuff that gets printed for the team that ends up losing?  Guess they can just have a big bonfire.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Adventure Begins!

Thirty-nine years ago today at three o'clock in the afternoon, LBeau and I were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Camden, Arkansas.  It was also a Sunday.

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Looking back, it's hard to believe my parents didn't put up a fuss about a wedding two days after Christmas.  But we chose the date very carefully.  I was teaching school in the Dallas suburb of Richardson at the time, and LBeau had just finished a master's degree at SMU.  I would be going back to work in a week, so the timing just seemed right.

Weddings were also simpler affairs in those days.  In fact, it was the custom not to send invitations to people in our small town.  An engagement announcement ran in the local paper, and people just assumed that if they knew you they were invited.

Since I was living in Dallas, I pretty much left it to my mother to plan the whole thing.  There was only one photographer in town, one lady who made wedding cakes, and a couple of florists.  Pretty easy compared to the decisions today's brides have to make.

Following the ceremony, we held the reception in the church fellowship hall.  We served wedding cake, mints, nuts and punch.  The whole thing, including the ceremony, probably lasted less than two hours.

Then LBeau and I were off for our honeymoon in Hot Springs.  We had planned to spend one night before heading back to Dallas for LBeau to attend a job fair.  We ended up skipping the job fair and staying two nights.

scan Returning to Dallas, we moved into an apartment near J. J. Pearce High School where I taught journalism and English.  In February, we loaded everything we owned into the smallest U-Haul trailer we could rent and moved to St. Louis for LBeau to take a job with Missouri-Pacific Railroad.

So that was the beginning of our great adventure.  Looking back at our first date (you can read about it HERE), I'd say it's amazing that I went out with him a second time.  But I've never been sorry I did, and I can't wait for the next 39 years.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Home Alone

christmas 005 For the first time ever, LBeau and I are spending Christmas by ourselves.  When we were first married, we always traveled to be with family.  After the kids started coming, we would sometimes have Christmas morning at home and then travel to Camden to be with my family.  Later the grandparents began coming to our house for Christmas.

This year all of the kids and grands are elsewhere.  Brent, Katie, Walker and Lauren are in Bainbridge Island, Washington, with Katie's family, and Ben and Claire are in Arkansas with Claire's parents and siblings.  Hunter had preaching duties at his church in Denver.

So we all gathered here last weekend for our family Christmas celebration.  And we did all the traditional Christmas things.  First we ate our usual Christmas brunch—ham, biscuits, cheese grits, scrambled eggs and pineapple "stuff."

Then we opened packages.  Baby Lucy got a good start on reading material.

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Walker had a grand time with his new truck that came equipped with all kinds of musical instruments.

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And we played games and worked puzzles, finishing the 1,000 piece Las Vegas puzzle before everyone left.

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So while I can't say this has been the best Christmas ever, it hasn't been all bad.  LBeau and I have been well taken care of by our friends.  Walt and Glenda invited us for chili dinner last night before the Christmas Eve service, and this afternoon we'll hike up the hill to Wayne's and Susie's house for turkey, ham and all the trimmings.

We're having both stuffing and cornbread dressing.  Susie grew up in Kentucky and Pennsylvania and always stuffs her turkey.  I'm contributing Southern cornbread dressing.

And one more thing.  LBeau got a brand new air rifle, which has already made a significant dent in the squirrel population around here.

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Merry Christmas, Everyone!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

christmas tree 002In years past I've sometimes put up a themed Christmas tree—all white one year, a pig tree complete with pig lights for several years, and a French country tree.  But I've always had a traditional tree with an assortment of ornaments for my main tree.

When we were newly married, one of our first trees was a live tree that some early departing students had left behind.  For years I said that I would never have an artificial tree, but I finally gave in—first a "bottle brush" variety, then a more realistic tree, and finally a pre-lit tree a couple of years ago.  Life is certainly easier now that I don't have to wind all those lights in and out among the branches.

My ornaments have been collected over the years.  Some I've purchased at craft shows or in stores just because I liked them.  Others have been given to me by friends, and some I've made.  Some of my favorites are the ones the kids made when they were young, like this elf that Ben made in first grade.

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My friend Kathy Olson painted this family ornament for us in 1986 when we lived in Texarkana.

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And I painted a whole set of these Christmas "cookies."

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When we travel, I'm not big on buying souvenirs, but I usually try to find a Christmas ornament or two.  I bought this one when we went to Bainbridge Island for Brent's and Katie's wedding in 2005.

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One of my newest ornaments is this beautiful paper cone that my sister-in-law Susie made for me this year.

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And finally, my tree would not be complete without a few ornaments from the University of Arkansas.

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So the tree is all decorated, and most of the presents are wrapped.  This kids start arriving tomorrow.  We are celebrating Christmas early this year, because they will all be elsewhere on the day.  But the important thing is that LBeau and I will get to spend time with them during this special season.

320597529_6c21476212_m-1 Now be sure to visit Susan at Thoughts from Over the Rainbow where she's hosting Deck the Halls.  I'm sure everyone else is way ahead of me on their decorating.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Away in a Manger

nativity 1005 Forget the countless Santas, artificial wreaths, shiny glass ornaments and yards of ribbon that have come and gone in my Christmas decorations over the years. The one thing that I most enjoy putting out year after year is this wooden nativity set that I painted sometime in the early 1980's.

I worked on it for several weeks as a project in a folk art class at Barbara's Tole Shoppe in Little Rock, Arkansas. Later when I had my own shop in Texarkana, I taught it for a class project. And over a period of several years in the mid to late '80's I cut the wooden shapes on my band saw that LBeau gave me for my birthday one year and sold these nativities at craft shows and gave them as gifts.

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All of the main characters are there, of course. There's Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus with the donkey standing by.

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The shepherd has brought two of his sheep.

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And the wise men have come bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

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nativity 012 Meanwhile, the Angel of the Lord announces the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Through the years little hands have rearranged these figures countless times, and they're beginning to look a little worn around the edges. But that just makes them more special and helps me to remember the reason for the season.

bijw9y Now be sure to visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound to see what special decorations others are sharing on this Pink Saturday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hanging of the Greens

greens 001 Taking time out from Christmas shopping and decorating our own homes, around a dozen of us gathered at Asbury United Methodist Church on Saturday for the Flower Guild's annual Hanging of the Greens.  Like everyone else, we tightened our belts and did without the usual live garlands, bringing a variety of greenery from our own yards and other places we had spotted.

Arriving at 9 a.m., we found that Linda had almost finished two large arrangements for the sanctuary.  She and Ed had gotten last minute tickets for the SEC Championship game and needed to be on the road to Atlanta about the time we were getting started.

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greens 015 We gathered in the sanctuary for prayer and to receive our instructions from Sally, who in true holiday fashion sported a button in honor of St. Nicholas.  Oh wait, Sally's an Alabama fan.  Wrong St. Nick.

Pat was prepared with a counter statement and proudly wore this sweatshirt in Auburn orange and blue.  Here in Alabama, it's hard to get away from football even to decorate for Christmas.

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Working in pairs, in 2 1/2 hours we had decorated and hung wreaths, made greenery badges to hang on the doors, and created arrangements for the gathering area.

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Connie and I were in charge of making two large arrangements in dark bronze urns for the gathering area.

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When we finished, we agreed that we didn't really miss the garlands after all.

320597529_6c21476212_m-1 Now be sure to head over to Thoughts from Over the Rainbow, where Susan is hosting Deck the Halls.  You're sure to find all sorts of great looks for your idea file.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Past

One of my favorite memories of Christmases past is gathering at Grancy's and Poosie's to exchange gifts with my grandparents, twelve aunts and uncles and twenty-one cousins.

After celebrating Christmas morning with our immediate families, we would all meet in Grancy's and Poosie's living room around a huge Christmas tree that we had decorated one Sunday afternoon earlier in December.  The tree was of the cedar variety that we had carefully selected from south Arkansas woods.

Aunt Mary always passed out the gifts as we all waited anxiously to see what Grancy and Poosie had picked out for us and what we had gotten from the cousin who drew our name.  And while those special moments are forever preserved in black and white, the memories are colorful ones of a brightly lit Christmas tree, cheerful packages, and  glowing faces of innocent childhood.

Christmas at Grancy and Poosies

bijw9y Now be sure to head over to Beverly's at How Sweet the Sound, where we're all sharing favorite Christmas memories.  Beverly has graciously allowed us to deviate from the normal PINK theme for the next few weeks as we celebrate the holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ring the Bells

ring the bells 021 Since I have yet to begin decorating for Christmas, my sweet sister-in-law Susie was kind enough to "loan" me pictures from her table that's all set and ready for her annual Christmas dinner party this Sunday.  This is the same Susie that some of you have read about on Laurie's blog.  She's so talented that it makes me tired just trying to keep up with her, so I don't even try.

Tommy and Susie have been hosting a Christmas dinner party for their friends for a lot of years.  Each year Susie comes up with a different theme and begins accumulating things to use sometimes a year in advance.  Ideas sometimes come from some hot new Christmas item from Target or Pottery Barn or elsewhere, and the call will go out to snatch up stuff when it goes on sale so that she can put it away for next year.

christmas picture 001 This year's theme is "Ring the Bells," inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  Sad over the death of his wife and the wounding of his son in the Civil War, Longfellow sat at his desk one day, heard the church bells ringing.  Filled with new hope, he penned the poem that later became the famous carol.

ring the bells 019 The invitations went out several weeks ago.   Obviously her guests know the routine, since they are instructed to "Bring the usual."  Shortly after mailing her invitations, Susie found a basket on her front porch containing a box of Hostess Ding Dongs with instructions to serve them for dessert.

When the guests arrive Sunday evening, they will be greeted at the front door by a simple green wreath enhanced with a mercury glass bell and tied with silver ribbon.  The theme is carried into the dining room, where greenery and more bells adorn the chandelier.

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Chair backs are tied with a sheer bow that compliments the color of the dining room walls, and more mercury glass bells add a bit of glitz.

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The centerpiece is a collection of bells in all shapes and sizes, surrounding a large creamy pillar.

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Susie has set the table with her Spode Christmas tree china, using a combination of the traditional green trimmed plates and ones with a floral border.  It appears that each guest will take home a favor with the women getting Travis Cottrell's "Ring the Bells" CD and the men a copy of  "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" so they can make their own music.

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Finally, each guest will open a special Christmas cracker.  I wonder what prize they'll find inside.  Something small and fun, I'm sure, but the biggest prize of all will be enjoying a great evening in the company of longtime friends.

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New_size_125_tall Now since you've probably finished all of your Christmas decorating, you can head over to Susan's at Between Naps on the Porch.  But if you're like me, and haven't even started getting the boxes out of the attic or up from the basement, you're sure to find all sorts of inspiration in the ideas bloggers are sharing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Running Late

320597529_6c21476212_m-1 I am late to the party—Susan's Deck the Halls Party, that is.  The truth is that I haven't even started decorating yet.

We always travel to Arkansas over Thanksgiving weekend, so I'm never able to start my decorating until after we return, which usually isn't until Sunday evening.  By then, I'm just too pooped and normally put it off until the first weekend in December, because I refuse to pull out anything having to do with Christmas until Thanksgiving is over.

On Black Friday, the "girls" made our annual trek to Frank's in Camden, Arkansas.  Frank's wonderful nursery and gift shop is actually called Four Seasons, but we just call it Frank's.  He always has a beautifully decorated mantel over a real wood-burning fireplace, and I get inspired just looking at the things in his store.

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Claire and Kate couldn't resist these sprigs with the bright limey green foliage, a color that I'm seeing lots of this year.

ribbon 001 I bought some new red ribbon so that I can retire my old bows.  It's your typical red Christmas ribbon, except that is has scallops and stitching on the edges.  I also bought some funky green ribbon that looks just like moss.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but it will definitely be used.

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Earlier this week the stockings that I ordered for Lauren and Lucy arrived.  Lauren is the newest grandchild, and Lucy will arrive in February.

So I guess it's time to get started.  I think I'll tackle the mantel first.