Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mind and soul, ease and simple gifts

- This thoughtful gift from friend Leisa, who looked in on Sophie while I was away. It was lovely to come in to my place last Saturday and find these CDs with a handmade card with the note, "This is some of my favorite moody music. I play it when my mind and soul just need a place to rest." Now it is some my of my favorite moody music, too.

- Admiration of the ease in which Leisa also made this Christmas ornament, something to do with glue and paint inside a clear glass ornament. It turned out beautifully and is hanging in my fake ficus tree. It will be put away for next year momentarily - I always like to have all holiday decorations down for the New Year.

- This wreath looks fake, but is real. Its lovely fragrance filled the room at my volunteer organization. My favorite Christmas gift wish this year: two little cousins, both under the age of six, asked for respectively, a book (doesn't matter what kind) and a feather. Simple gifts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monticello, new barn and Moby (one more time)

- More from Monticello, Florida, home of my sister and her family and where I spend most holidays. This courthouse is in the center of town and is the focal point of the drive in from the highway. I get a glimpse before turning left and journeying out to the farm.

- Monticello, population 2,572, has an opera house. The building, known as the "Perkins Block" was built in 1890 by a local businessman who created something of a mall, with a general store, a hardware store and farm implement supply store. The second floor contained an opera house, still in use today through the efforts of devoted citizens dedicated to saving the building. They say it has near perfect accoustics.

- Another building eight miles away - the new barn on the farm, known already as "The Man Cave." A good place for farm equipment, but also will house a workshop and my brother-in-law's deer head, which had been banished to the garage before. :)

- My special helper, Moby, accompanies me on my walks on the farm and is a good and friendly poser.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moonstruck, Satsumas and priceless

- This most delicious chocolate bar sent to me by Riot Kitty, a breath of fresh estrogen, with this message, "This is from Moonstruck, a chocolate cafe owned by people locally in my state (Oregon.) If it is not absolutely orgasmically fabulous, please return for an exchange (and I'll eat the rest!)" It had crushed almonds and cinnamon in milk chocolate. Oh my, it was fabulous! And the earth did move a little. :)

- Niece Amanda snagged a bag of Satsumas for a Christmas treat. The peeling falls away and the fruit is sweet, seedless and non-drippy. We all love them.

- So the final gift on Christmas morning was to my sister from her daughters. They said, "It's on the porch." And there it was - a Satsuma tree ready to be planted in a sunny spot. They had one in their yard at their old house in town and she has missed it. And her expression of anticipation combined with a little apprehension before she saw it - priceless.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The farm, peace and legacy

- Early morning on the farm in Jefferson County, Florida, in the part of the state known as the "panhandle." My brother-in-law's devoted dog Moby is just visible in the distance hunting for something in the grass.

- Stepping outside, I hear nothing at first and then let the sounds of birds singing and cattle lowing in the distance wash over me. A perfect peaceful moment.

- Christmas morning. Moby was born on Christmas day five years ago and is protector of the family. He gamely wore this festive collar - for a little while anyway.

- My brother-in-law's pride and joy - his new cook shed, surrounded by Live Oak trees. A good place to hang out and barbecue. The bell at the top came from his family's lake house from long ago. The one item they kept after the house was sold. His mom used to ring it to call the boys in for meals or bedtime. A wonderful legacy.

- A very thoughtful gift. On Saturday morning, two employees of their small business drove up with a picnic table for the new shed. They made it out of cypress wood. It is a work of art.

- A bird girl keeps watch over the property and is a dispenser of seed for feathered friends.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Friends -

My beloved father passed away this week after an extended illness. I have mentioned him so often that I thought I should let you all know, because you are all my friends, after all.

He was surrounded by love and passed away peacefully at home. We are sad, but happy for him that he is free from illness now. And we are all OK. Mom has been very strong. We will miss him terribly.

The funeral was Wednesday, and we all headed to my sister and brother-in-law's farm in Florida that evening. We celebrated Christmas in a place my dad loved very much.

I am headed back to Atlanta in a bit and my blog will be full of photos from the farm on Monday. Take care.

Love -


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good things in store...

A Chinese fortune received this evening, "Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you."

Have a wonderful holiday week, friends. I will be back next Monday. May good things be in store for you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Budding, sweet and spicy and the scent

- A budding artist's rendition of a Christmas tree complete with angel at the top. Little ones from the school across the street from my parents' home come by to bring artwork, cookies and to sing carols.

- Going to bed early and waking in the late evening to the smell of something sweet and spicy baking. Downstairs neighbor Bonnie was baking oatmeal cookies for work. In the morning I thank her by email for the good smells. It was like having a scented candle burning, only better.

- Bringing in a box of Florida oranges to the crew at the printing company and loving the scent of oranges that keeps popping up here and there.

Have a wonderful weekend and I hope good things pop up for you around every corner!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sweet window, game and anticipation

- Entering a building from the back and smiling down at this sweet window, with its plants and tiny stained glass ornaments. A wee Christmas tree with sparkling lights was barely visible within.

- A printing company Christmas gathering in which we all are supposed to bring a gender neutral gift to play a funny game in which "The Night Before Christmas" is read with the words "right" and "left" inserted in various spots. We were to hold our own gift and start passing right and left when the words came up. No one was supposed to end up with the gift they brought and it worked out that way. The burly man who handles shipping ended up with the holiday mug set I brought. He nodded at me and said, "We'll use them on Christmas morning."

- Seeing some neighbor activity in front of building three at the condos, I walk up and chat with the two men madly decorating the trees and building. It is a work of art each year and this year the light display will be set to music. As I walk away, one of them calls out, "Sunday night! Santa will be here!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chimes, smells like and rendezvous

- These wind chimes that client Rosemary brought back from her recent trip to Indonesia. The dragon's head would bob in the wind - should any wind come through her basement office. Or you can simply pull the string to make that happen.

- I say to the receptionist at the Atlanta Union Mission offices that it always smells like coffee and chocolate when you get off the elevator. She says that is what it is, and would I like some?

- A rendezvous at Exit 185 on I-75 with my sister and brother-in-law as we realize by cellphone that we will be passing each other as they drive south to Macon en route from Virginia, and I drive north from Macon back to Atlanta. Hugs and soup at Shoney's. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The earth is a pot, showered and virtuous

- Raymond's World Famous Boiled Peanuts at the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Moreland Avenue in Atlanta. It is a veritable United Nations of things to eat, including boiled peanuts, fruits and vegetables and Boiled Cajun corn on the cob. The Boiled Cajun verbiage is what always catches my eye, but I love the slogan, too.

- Sitting in a delightful friend's office surrounded by a multitude of international objet d'art - dolls, prayer flags, crosses, pottery. She is director of international students for her school and must surely be loved by the students if she is so showered with bright gifts.

- Missing lunch and so proud that I do not give in to the lure of fast food on the way home after lots of meetings. My dinner is three-cheese ravioli on a bed of spring greens drizzled with a lemon-Dijon olive oil dressing. Topped off with shaved Parmesan cheese. So good. And the best thing - feeling so virtuous!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Photo op, playing games and ringing

- While photographing the Chrismon tree at church, a tiny blond head popped into the picture. She turned around and gave me a shy smile and her older sister joined her. (Their dad was chatting nearby.) The ensuing photo session was hilarious because they never stayed still. I emailed the photo session to their mother.

- In middle Georgia on Saturday, my mother sent me on errands and when I returned asked hopefully, "Do you have time for a game?" Of course I did. We played the board game, Sorry. Known as the game of "sweet revenge" - Sorry is a longtime family favorite and my mom is a ruthless player.

- Later that day, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Northlake Mall in Atlanta, I am impressed as always at the generosity of the youngest citizens of our city. They always like to put coins in the bucket.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cheer, gifted and sparkling

- It just wouldn't be Christmas without this Santa that belonged to my Aunt Grace. After she passed away several years ago, my mother asked me if there was anything from her house I would like. Just that Santa that sat under the tree. He gets moved around to different spots of my home and brings Christmas cheer.

- More cheer in the form of this appetizer dish that my sister gifted me with when I saw her last week. She saw it and thought it would be perfect for my Mexican dip recipe that I love to make because it is good and easy. An unexpected gift is so much fun.

- Here it is all loaded up with the dip and ready to go to my Circle party last night. Great food, laughter, hugs and the awe inspiring sparkling holiday decor of friend Shelley's home. The dip was a hit! Would you like the recipe? OK.

Hot Mexican Dip

1 16-oz carton sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 box (which contains two packages) dried Lipton vegetable dip mix
1 can chopped water chestnuts
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 can Rotelle tomatoes (drained)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients and store in refrigerator overnight before serving with tortilla chips or vegetables. I use reduced fat sour cream and mayo, but never fat-free.

Have a wonderful weekend - I hope it is filled with good things!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Temple, history and dream

- Sitting in traffic on Peachtree Street in Atlanta and reflecting how the Temple-Hebrew Benevolent Congregation synagogue is hanging in there despite being surrounded by tall buildings, utility wires and expressway ramps.

- It was shown in the film Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with some judicious masking of buildings around it so it would look as it did in 1958. Not sure they could cover up the tall building hovering over it these days.

- This area of Peachtree Street has undergone quite a transformation during the last few years. The tall building behind the synagogue stands in the spot in which one of my friends lived in an apartment building. She was trying to decide the direction her life should take next, when she got the notice of the building being torn down. She decided to move to Los Angeles, a long-time dream, and as she passed her apartment building for the last time on the way to the airport, she saw a wrecking ball go through the pink walls of her living room.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Carving, flourish and effort

- Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration of Jesus. Photo taken at the seminary on Monday. The carving is just outside the dining hall and is carved out of one piece of wood.

- Sitting in traffic next to a womens' clothing consignment shop and looking up just as a mannequin in a white frock is placed in the window with a flourish. Hands fluff up the sleeves.

- From writer friend Shelley's tagline on her email, "When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing." Enrique Jardiel Poncela.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Favorite beautiful place, delicious and busy

- A meeting at a favorite beautiful place - Columbia Theological Seminary, looking deserted today due to final paper writing, I am told.

- A delicious pot pie on a cold day at the nearby Corner Pub warms the soul: spicy chorizo sausage and butternut squash in a cream base topped with flaky pastry.

- Looking over at the grounds of a park on the drive back to the office and spotting an enormous white cat, his eyes fixed upon something he is intent upon capturing. He quietly inches forward, eyes never wavering.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Decorated, working from home and coffee

- This antique hand operated letterpress sits in the lobby of the printing company. It is a great conversation piece for visitors and did not escape being decorated for Christmas.

- My client's golden labrador retriever, Scout, who always runs to get a toy to show me, disappears around the corner and comes back this time dragging a bed-sized blanket. His owner gives him a look of resigned exhaustion and I ask, "What's next, the couch?" :)

- Coffee. Is there anything better than coffee in the 5am hour? I know, more sleep. However, that first cup of coffee while blogging is mighty fine.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Madison, home and Decatur

- Friend Barbara G and I attend the holiday tour of homes in Madison, Georgia each year. This is a photo I took last year at one home before I was told I was not supposed to photograph anything. :)

- This past Wednesday, I literally was just about to give my credit card number for the tickets to the Saturday tour, as the call came in from the rehab center that they were sending dad to the hospital. "I'll call back," I said, but never did. I thought I would be staying with dad in the hospital over the weekend, but thankfully he went home to be with mom last night - out of the hospital and no more staying at the rehab center. Rehab will come to him.

- And Barb and I are consoling ourselves over missing the Madison tour by going to the Decatur, Georgia Candlelight Tour of Homes this evening. A good kick-off to the holiday season. It will be cold, but dry. Tomorrow would have been colder and raining. It is working out as it is should. It's all good.

I hope your weekend is full of all good things!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Home spot, shake and big bands

- A mid-week trip to this hospital in Macon, Georgia to be with my dad who is back in again.* He offered up this startling fact last time we were here: The entrance to this hospital is on the spot in which he lived with his parents in their family home when he was a teenager. The house was eventually torn down to make way for the hospital.

- It always makes male medical staff smile when they tell him their name and he offers his hand for a shake, even when he is woozy.

- Later I find a program on GPB-TV (Georgia Public Broadcasting) that has clips of bands from the Big Band era. Mom and Dad especially love The Glenn Miller Orchestra, so I check to see if he is awake by singing along with "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." A great song and fun to sing, but I am not known for my singing and it is a good test because it makes him smile.

* Dad had a medical procedure yesterday, and was resting comfortably when sis and I switched caregiving shifts last night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Multitasking, dream and nice is easy

- A lot of activity on Howell Mill Road just before 7am and multitasking at Mr C's the night before, as patrons played trivia and watched the Saints prevail over the Patriots while eating meatloaf.

- Later in the day at the printing company, a young man with a dream walks in to inquire how to go about getting his pastels made into prints. It is fun to show him paper swatches and see his excitement as he imagines his artwork on linen or felt finish paper.

- At the end of the day, a few doors down from Mr C's, calling on new customers to show them a proof of their newsletter before we print it. They are very young, and bright and shiny as new pennies. They say that they appreciate that we gave them the time of day when they called in, and how nice we were to them on the phone. Nice is easy, I say.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Old friends, the Braves and the White House

- A Christmas tree trimming party at my parents' new place. Their little tree fit nicely in a corner of the living room. It is like seeing old friends, as one after the other the ornaments emerge from their box.

- Much discussion about which ornaments to use and which to leave off since there was limited space. I insist that the Atlanta Braves commemorative ornament depicting their 1995 World Series win had to go on the tree. Mom and Dad are devoted to the Braves.

- My sister lived in Washington, DC for so many years that she started a tradition of giving my parents the White House Christmas ornament every year. So they all went up. This year the ornament depicts a Grover Cleveland Christmas at the White House. It is said that the Clevelands loved to throw Christmas parties during his administrations.