Friday, December 26, 2008

Got 'er Done!

The wind finally quit blowing and the weather held, 
if not at a comfortable temperature, at least at a bearable level long enough for the tree-cutting team to have success.  The part of the tree that hit the ground was about 12 feet tall and we trimmed it to 8 feet. We got it into the house, into a tree stand, branches trimmed, and best side selected before my sister and brother-in-law went home.  Ten minutes after they left, it fell over and spent the next three days as you see in the picture above, until the rest of the family arrived home.
With four extra pairs of hands, we managed to get the tree upright and leveled in no time at all.   Getting it decorated wasn't quite as easy. Apparently in this age of iPods, cell phones and Wii, decorating an old
-fashioned, country-style Eastern Red Cedar tree is not very cool for a couple of city teenagers.  But with cajoling from Opa and threats of  no old-fashioned, country-style meals from Oma, the tree managed to get decorated.  
But, I noticed on the above picture that we missed a spot--need to buy more ornaments when I go to Germany in September! 
So, with a few more little decorating touches here and there and hours of cooking, we ended up with a cheery and warm Christmas celebration with a small gathering of friends and family.  

I hope that you all had as happy a Christmas as I did and that your New Year will be filled with even more happiness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Eastern Red Cedar Christmas Tree

Two nights ago as I braved the icy 19 degree weather to take my three Border Collies out for their 1 AM constitutional, I noticed how beautiful the 15 foot Easter Red Cedar tree in the south meadow looked bathed in the silver glow from a very bright and round December moon. I wish I had been able to take a picture of the tree at that moment, but I had my hands full of Border Collies and after I took them back inside, it was too cozy in front of the wood stove to go back out.

The next day I asked my sister, who is my next-door neighbor, to go with me to check out the possibility of using the tree as my Christmas tree. Our mother has always told us of her fond memories of cedar Christmas trees in the Arkansas Ozarks of the 1930's. We have had our own cedar Christmas trees during the ten years we have lived here, but they have been small table topper trees. This beauty promises to fill a large corner of the living room and leave just enough space at the ceiling for the tree topper ornament, which is yet to be chosen, with plenty of cedar boughs left over to trim the entire house.

We hopped into my old beat up farm pickup and drove down into the meadow to check it out. The closer we came to the tree the bigger it became. It is at LEAST 15 feet tall - I am really inept at judging measurements - and is growing snugged up against a five-strand fence that is securing my Irish Dexter bull. After closer inspection, I noticed that there are two 0r three smaller trees of some kind - hard to tell without leaves for identification - that must be removed before we can get to the cedar tree. The most worrisome problem will be if the tree catches any of the fence wires on it's way to the ground. Thank goodness my brother-in-law is pretty skilled with a chainsaw. We agreed to meet at sunrise for the cutting ceremony.

At 5 AM, my usual rising time, I baked Gingerbread Muffins and made Lemon Zinger tea for our apres-cutting celebration. Just before daybreak I went out to check the weather. Hooray! 48 degrees ---- and winds of 50 miles per hour?? That tree was swinging so fast and so far there was no way we could ever cut it cleanly or safely. If we could even get it cut, Dorothy and Toto would be using it as their Christmas tree because we would never be able to chase it down on it's trip north.

I disappointedly called my sister to cancel our outing and rescheduled for tomorrow when the temperature is predicted to be near 69 degrees! with winds at ----40 miles per hour?? We have freezing rain and snow forecast for the following three days, and the three days after that the family begin arriving from around the world (literally). Looks like that 15 foot tree will be 20 feet tall next Christmas. I consoled myself with Gingerbread Muffins and Lemon Zinger tea.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy 16th Birthday, Kathryn

God has granted us two wonderful grandchildren and our only granddaughter turned 16 yesterday. Though our grandchildren have spent most of their lives in another state, we have been blessed with having them spend extended periods with us without their parents.

Kathryn has been with us from 5 weeks to 15 months at a time since she was about 6 months old. This time together has forged a very special bond between Kathryn and myself. She fills my heart with music as I watch her dance and sing. I love to watch her early in the morning, clad in one of Opa's big shirts that she uses for sleeping, as she sits atop the old cellar and quietly sings as she watches and tries to identify the different birds and greets the rising sun. Her walks in the woods and fields are filled with her singing and always result in a small bouquet of flowers for Oma. As a toddler her laughing blue hazel eyes and bouncing dark brown curls would melt my heart as she came into the kitchen with her first word of the day --"Eat!".

Kathryn is my joy and I thank God for every minute I have had with her. When she returns to her parents, thinking of her brings tears of loneliness to my eyes and an ache in my heart, even though she calls me nearly every day as she walks home from school. I want to protect her from every sadness in her life, I want to hold her through every tear that she sheds, I want to pick her up each time she stumbles on her path to adulthood.

Yesterday, Kathryn turned 16 and those bouncing curls and laughing eyes of the toddler have become the beauty and mystery of an alluring young woman. My influence and values are very strong in her personality, even as she sometimes rebels against them. My hope for her is that she will always be in charge of her own destiny by trusting, believing and respecting herself and filling her world with compassion and love.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sidney Wins Giveaway!

It has taken me awhile to get this posted, because the poor dog (Sidney) is still not adjusted to her new life and would not unwrap herself from my ankles long enough to for me to take a picture of her modeling her new collar.
The collar was donated by GoneDoggie through the generous service of Give Away A Day.

Sidney thanks both of these very nice ladies for her new look.