Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

It is December 31st, 2009, New Years Eve and the night of the Blue Moon.  A Blue Moon is not really the color of the moon, it means this is the second full moon in the same month.  It happens only once in a blue moon.  The last time it happened on New Years Eve was nineteen years ago.  The last blue moon we had was in 2007.

I've heard the saying "once in a blue moon" all my life and I suppose I didn't really understand until my adult life what it means.  So I was thinking about things that happen in my life, things that only happen "once in a blue moon".  

Once in a blue moon.........
     my husband may bring home flowers for me.

     I might pull weeds in the flower beds.

     I might step foot inside a mall.

     I might worry about what someone thinks about the crazy gourd lady.

     I think it might be time to clean a closet.

     I might get the Christmas things down before the end of January.

     I might remember some one's birthday before it has passed.

     I might listen to something other than Native American Flute music.

     I might go to bed before midnight.

     I might consider the possibility that I don't know everything.  (my husband would appreciate this one)

     I might start supper before my husband is hungry.

I'm sure there are a million other possibilities for my list, but I might actually get off the computer and head to the studio before 10 AM today.  That too would be a "once in a blue moon" thing! 


Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter in Ohio

Winter in Ohio usually means cold and wet weather.  Which only means rain or snow conditions.  I remember when we raised hogs, this was during the first 25 years of marriage.  It seemed always to be muddy, which means rain.  Being in a hog lot in the mud was sure to mean boot sucking mud!  More than once a boot would come off and you'd have to put your stocking foot in the mud to pull the boot out.  By then they other booted foot was well planted and the struggle was on.  If it froze in that same hog lot walking was even more dangerous.  The craters left behind from frozen hog prints were ankle spraining events.  And don't try to move quickly, you'd surely fall and hurt yourself. 

It was almost as bad in the horse lot as the hog pens.  Horses tend not to leave the barn much in the winter.  They need a good wind break and usually they hang out where the hay and water are.  They churn the earth up into a knee deep, mud sucking experience.  They seem to have as much trouble walking on their frozen hoof prints as we do.  I really worried for them when rain froze on the ground turning horse lots, side walks and driveways into ice skating rinks.  Watching horses legs going every which way is a very frightening thing!  Going out to feed the critters was a test in balance and agility.  As we age, this becomes less and less fun. 

One of the biggest problems I remember having in the winter is when the power would go off.  Neighbors would call neighbors to see if it was a regional problem or something that happened to just them.  Then things got harder.  If it were out for long periods, like the Blizzard of 1978, we were without power for over a week.  Roads were impassable, living in the country doesn't make you a priority.  We were breaking ice in water tanks to keep horses watered, they would normally have a water heater keeping water thawed.  We were lucky enough to have a hand pump outside our house to pump water.  To carry 5 gallon buckets of water to hogs morning, noon and night was not easy.  Animals always came first, then we worried about our own needs.

Back in the 70's we were still pretty self sufficient.  We had two freezers and always had our own meat and  veggies stored away.  Keeping our pipes from freezing and keeping warm were other matters to consider.  We then had a wood stove, wood was stacked at the back door and we managed to stay warm. Of course wearing more layers of clothing helped.  During that time we were going through a recession and were working hard to conserve energy.  Heavy quilted window dressings were not uncommon.  We learned to be creative with less, I see us needing to do that again in 2009.  Do my children remember how to survive with no power?  Do they have a freezer of food from their gardens?  My son and his wife only heat with wood.  Most winters their girls are wearing t-shirts and shorts in the house it is so warm!

Generators are the answer to today's power outages, but you need gasoline to run them.  Do we have some on hand, just in case of a power outage?  Last year when Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio from Florida, even the gas stations were closed because they had no power.   Many people had to chain saw the trees off the road to even get to town.  I remember driving through Xenia during this power outage.  It looked strangely like a ghost town.  The other comment I remember Emily saying, she lives in a town, people came out of their houses.  They looked dazed and didn't seem to know what to do with themselves without a TV to watch.  She said she saw people she'd never seen on her street before.  How sad is that?     

Winter in Ohio can always be a challenge.  It can be fun too!  I remember as a kid when it snowed.  My Dad was very inventive!  He made a huge "bobsled" that at least 6 kids could straddle and ride, then he'd pull us up and down our long lane with the jeep.  We also got pulled by the jeep with our little sleds hooked behind.  Roads weren't plowed clean in those days!  It was so much fun! Today, my son has a really big hillside next to their house.  The girls will bundle up in snow clothes, scarves and gloves, boots and goggles for their eyes.  They head for the hill with their sleds, not before my son comes down to get the four wheeler.  The girls slide down the hill and then attach a rope to the four wheeler and get pulled to the top again.  It is the most fun!  I remember having to get off at the bottom of the hill and pulling my own sled back to the top!  I'm sure the girls get colder faster, we kept warm by walking back up that hill!

So here I sit this snowy and cold day in 2009 just before the New Year.  I am reminded how quickly December has passed and that in only a couple months and I'll be looking for signs of spring again!!!

(Pictures are of my brother, Brian and I, in 1952.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Meanderings.....

Christmas Eve is here in 2009, it is cold today in Ohio and there is snow on the ground.  That is suppose to change, warmer temps and maybe some sprinkles of rain.  As I sit at the computer writing this, I am also making a list of things yet to do.  I am also remembering what it was like for me as a child, waiting anxiously for Christmas to come. 

Christmas at home was exciting.  My Mother always decorated, I remember posing for a picture with my brother and sister for our Christmas picture.  I must say we looked pretty dorky.  Some of the problem is the way they took pictures then.  With a camera that required film.  I wonder if my grandchildren even know about film cameras?  The pictures then were just a couple shots with fingers crossed they turn out well.  Often they did not.  Today we can look at the digital camera picture, if it isn't good enough, shoot some more and then erase the ones you didn't like.  I wonder why I waited so long to get my first digital camera.  Change is hard.

I also remember waking up early and checking out the tree, to see if Santa had really come!  We weren't allowed to open any gifts until my Dad came home from milking the cows and feeding the farm animals.  Sometimes I was sure he took his good ole time, just to keep us waiting.  For Christmas when I was a kid we got sleds and things to build with, puzzles, games and of course I always got a doll.  The last one I remember getting was a "bride doll", she stood about 28" tall and had this beautiful dress and veil.  I still have her, she is still in her wedding dress, although the veil is long lost and so are her heels.  How do you play with a bride doll?  I know I ask for her, but now I wonder why?

We would open our gifts at home and then have to rush to my Grandmothers house before noon.  My Grandmother had two trees, one was a fresh cut pine and the one in the front window was a foil tree with a few glass balls and a light that shined on it with a disk of changing colors.  The tree revolved and so did the colors.  Today my Grandmothers foil tree would be in style again.  As we got to be teenagers, we always went up to help my Grandmother decorate.  Everything went the same place it had been for years previous.

My Grandmother, Grandfather and Uncle Billy lived in Springfield, Ohio on Maiden Lane.  I still find myself driving past her house today, just to see it and remember.  My Grandmother was quite a character, she was short in stature, she had dark red hair and she smoked Lucky Strikes.  They were big fans of the Cincinnati Reds and often went to games.  She was a seamstress and made little girls smocked dresses, her business was called Miller Frocks.  She would got to the homes of her clients, measure little girls, discuss the fabrics and features of the dress ordered.  I remember the dresses were beautifully hand smocked by my Grandmother, she taught me how to smock too.  The dresses always had deep hems and could be let down as the child grew.  She made her living sewing for others.  Sorry for the meandering...... back to Christmas.

Christmas dinner at my Grandmothers was the best!  I loved her yeast rolls and learned to make them the way she did as a young married wife.  We always had ham, mashed potatoes and the best gravy!  She was an amazing pie baker too, she made butterscotch pie and fruit pies too.  I loved eating at my Grandma Rankin's house!

A tradition we started when our children were very young, I remember Emily was just about a year old.  Christmas Eve was a difficult time to amuse the little ones.  So we decided to invite our neighbors over for the evening.  They had two children about the same ages as our kids.  Our plan was distract the children on Christmas eve and to visit with friends.  It worked and every year since we get together on Christmas Eve with these same friends.  We take turns hosting and sometimes the adult kids will come too.  It is just a quiet little party to celebrate Christmas Eve.  I'm hosting this year and should be in the kitchen instead of writing a blog.

Christmas day will be busy in our house too.  I have offered to be open to changing the tradition but my children aren't ready for change.  So Christmas at noon, all three of our children and their families will be coming to see what Santa has left under the tree.  I will also be fixing dinner.  We will be having ham, potatoes, gravy and veggies of all kinds.  I'm not a pie baker, but we'll have cookies and other sweets.  Ryan's wife Tere is the pie baker in the family now and she has some wonderful pies.

My tree is up and in the front bay window.  This year all my grandchildren put the ornaments on it.  The upper third of the tree is lacking decorations, none of the grandchildren are that tall yet.  Oh, I could change it, but why?  It is lovely and makes me smile knowing that they joyfully helped decorate it.

All the gifts are wrapped or bagged.  I have made cloth bags in many sizes to "wrap" gifts in.  This tradition was begun several years ago, hopefully I am saving some trees.  The cloth bags are collected at the end of the day and put in a tub for next years gifts.  I use the Christmas fabric that I bought on sale after Christmas one year. 

I realize as I get older that the gifts under the tree are less and less important for me.  It really is all about the family gathering, the excitement of the children and the love that is shared throughout the Christmas season.  I continue to think of others less fortunate and try to make my contributions all through the year.  Mostly I just want everyone to feel warm and loved.   Merry Christmas and prayers for Peace, Love and Joy throughout the coming year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top Twelve Christmas Holiday Tips

I may add to this list when some new idea comes to mind for Holiday Tips.  I felt the need to start compiling ideas before Christmas is over and I forget what the tips were.......    I'd love your comments and suggestions for your Top Christmas Holiday Tips too!

#1.   Don't waste paper, make cloth bags in many sizes with a ribbon sewn in the seam to tie the gift off.  Then  just BAG AND TAG all your gifts.  This could be done with Christmas fabric purchased on sale after Christmas last year.............

#2.   When you get out a collection of Santa's, Snowmen and/or Angels and wonder why you have so many.  Why pack them all away after Christmas?  I suggest letting all the grand children pick something from your collection(s) and take it home with them.  The memory will go home and start new memories for your grand children.

#3.    Wrapping up collection pieces for Grand nieces and Grand nephews, start their special collections with your collections!  I wonder if my Nieces are reading my blogs? 

#4.    When you get stuff out for Christmas that you no longer use and your kids don't want, put it in a big
box and save it for the next white elephant exchange!  A big box and a pretty ribbon......  perfect gift!  I'm awaiting my invite to a white elephant exchange with great anticipation!

#5.    Of course, there is always Goodwill if you are trying to downsize stuff in your storage bins.

#6.    Artificial trees that come with lights will eventually have strands of lights that stop working.  DON'T   throw out the tree.  You'll never be able to remove the lights that came on the tree, just add more lights, no one will notice once all the ornaments are on the tree.  We don't need another artificial tree in the landfill!

#7.    Schedule an event in your house a week or two before Christmas.  You are sure to get your act together then!  Cleaning and decorating is now driven by a deadline!

#8.    If the house smells good, it also looks cleaner!   So bake some cookies or light a candle!

#9.    Just restacking the books on a shelf helps.  Warning, don't start reading them, you'll lose yourself quickly.

#10.   Host your home parties for evening, turning the tree lights and other twinkle lights on, light the candles and only dim mood lighting throughout the house.  No one will notice those little dust bunnies that escaped your cleaning!

#11.   Keep giving your spouse a "short list" of things you need help with, works much better than a "long list".  You can give them to him more often and he never catches on to the method in your maddness.

#12.   I have nearly bought the stores out of plastic tubs!  They make great storage, easy to carry, easy to stack and easy to label!  Now that I'm so organized, I can save more stuff!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Music Through Life

Today I am trying to get into the spirit of Christmas.  It is cold and snow is blowing across the landscape.  Any plants that had been protected from our late frosts are now frozen where they stand.  The horses need an extra flake of hay and I watch a fire in my stove.  Still, something is missing.....  I am just not quite in the "mood" to decorate the house. 

It's different now that our children are grown and in their own homes.  Their excitement at seeing this ornament or that one, many they made with me as little projects to keep them busy in Christmases past.  The excitement of writing to Santa and pouring over the old Sears and JCPenney toy catalogs.  I do not go out in the malls shopping and seeing the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Don't get me wrong, been there, done that and it just isn't what I want to do now.   Richard isn't interested and never has been interested in tree decorations.  Getting the tree downstairs is his contribution.  I keep the rest of the boxes in a closet close to the living room.  I have learned they can't be handy enough, because I no sooner get it put away and it is time to get it all out again.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've been "thinking" about Christmas.  I love shopping for gifts throughout the year, I certainly am exposed to many wonderful artists and beautiful work.  Finding just the right gift is always on my mind.  I also love making gifts and you can't save that until the last minute.

Still not in the mood............  Then I remember what is missing!  Music, we always played Christmas music when decorating the house.  Not necessarily the traditional music, our favorite music came from the Alabama Christmas CD.  Oh, we so loved listening to Alabama when our kids were growing up.  I remember horse camping trips all through the eighties, nothing played in the tape deck but Alabama music!

Then I get to remembering about the music........   now this why I call my blog "Meandering Thoughts"!  When I first remember actually listening to a song on the radio, because we always had a radio on in the house when I was a kid growing up.  That first song was "Cindy oh, Cindy" was by Eddie Fisher.  I thought that was written just for me!  Had to have been in the late 50's.  After that I remember "listening" to music.

In the sixties I remember all the music from that time period.  I remember listening through my little transistor radio, which I got for Christmas!  Oh, that was such a good time for music.  I love Elvis, Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, Bobby Vinton, Beatles, oh, I could go on forever.  I think you never forget the songs from your teens.  Even today some of those lyrics will come to me if I happen to hear a song from then.

In the seventies, we were first married.  For some reason we began to listen to Country/Western music.  Maybe because we were not into the Disco music, to this day I just don't get disco music.  Oh, I loved hearing the music of Charlie Daniels Band, Don Williams, and in the late seventies Alabama came on the scene.  I would love for the old style country music to come back, I feel the country music today is the old rockers that didn't make it in rock are now playing country.  To me is isn't country, there is too much "band" in the music, I want to hear the stories again in the music.  Not just a couple lines repeated over and over with loud background music blaring.  You probably think I am an old fuddy duddy.......  Really, if you could have just heard the Country/western music in the early times!

The eighties were the only time I can't identify a particular sound that we heard then.  This would be the music my children would identify in their memory bank.  I should ask them what was popular then......  I do know that Alabama was still going strong and late eighties Garth Brooks, George Strait, Vince Gill and Clint Black started making a musical impact.  I remember them very clearly and enjoyed their sounds very much.
One of my favorites from that time period is John Berry, he was over shadowed by the others I've named to really make it big.  He is still out there and Richard and I love catching one of his concerts now and again.  He has a beautiful voice and he tells the stories in his songs.  I love that!

So the nineties were all about Country music.  We would sometimes turn the radio onto a Classic Rock station and be exposed to other music.  It is fun hearing different music, we even love Enya, James Taylor, and up and coming artists that are now important in the musical history of it all.

Now I am caught up in a totally different kind of music.  It calls to me in a way no other music has called to me and it comes from the Native American Flute.  It has filled up a part of me that I didn't know was empty.
I am so captured by it that I now play this wonderful wooden instrument.  The people who play this music roll off my tongue as easily as all the artist's I already named.  John Two-Hawks, Jonny Lipford, Mark Holland........  I could go on and on.  Not to mention the flute-makers, the gift they have in creating the most amazing flutes, Gary Reed, Billy Crowbeak, Charles Perdue, Brad Young.........  oh, there are too many to list!  Truly, I love them all. 

And so my thoughts are totally away from Christmas...........   and this is how my life goes, I meander along on a path and then get lost on a totally different path, forgetting that Christmas is less than 15 days away.  Will I be ready?    Of course I will.  Our house will be decorated, the kitchen will smell of fresh baked sweet rolls on Christmas morning and Santa will have magically placed gifts under the tree by the time our three children and their families arrive.  I am so blessed by all the gifts in my life......... music has been part of all that history.