Coffee Chat: Sweet November Done
Do come in....We'll likely have a few more coffee chats for a bit. I'm worn slap out at the moment and despite decorating for Christmas and feeling inspired, I feel tired and that means inspiration thus far sputters. Sputters do not start fires. They just light up for a quick moment and then they are dead ash. I was hoping for more, but considering all in all, I'll go in sputters for the time being.
How are YOU doing with the Thanksgiving leftovers? I quelled mine and ended up with an impressive little bit of freezer meal magic for those super busy days ahead. Butternut Soup (with a surprise addition) and a future filling for a turkey pot pie, and even a double portion of dressing and turkey with gravy for one of those days when we're less near gobbling.
I will do a quick share of our Thanksgivings. I went to Sam and Bess' on Thursday for the DAY OF celebration. Katie was too sick to come and that was fine. It's a long drive when you feel quite well. Sam decided to try frying his turkey and let me just tell you, I opened up my car door and could smell that bird cooking and it made me hungry right away. And he'd just put it in! It turned out absolutely delicious. It takes far less time to fry a whole bird than it does to bake one. John also had a fried turkey at his workplace and the other guys all brought in side dishes. John contributed potato salad and macaroni salad and rolls. He came home raving about his turkey, too.
The grandchildren were busy playing and had no time at all for acknowledging the presence of Gramma....though Josh did go stand at the window for a moment and he said wonderingly "It's Genny's car!" He turned and saw me and smiled and that was it, the whole grand greeting of the Gramma. That was fine. It was obvious the children were having fun.
Sam came in and asked if I'd like a glass of wine. I don't drink wine often but I do like a nice Cabernet and that's what he had. It was just lovely. But oops on me! I'd not eaten since 5:30am and wine on a very empty stomach made me just a bit woozy. Sam came in again and suggested I have a roll...lol. It settled me right down to normal once more. Tipsy Gramma is not a good thing to show the children! Fortunately they were still ignoring me.
The day went fast but it was lovely. Bess sat the children on a blanket on the floor where they ate picnic fashion and then they joined all of us at the table for pie. Josh surprised me by digging right into Sam's pumpkin pie. He liked that pie very well and when Bess sat down next to Sam with a slice of coconut pie, he dug right into that one as well. I told Bess if we could just figure out what savory pie he'd like we'd be in business getting that child to eat. All those children proved to be pie eaters.
And of course, after dinner we sat them on the steps and got a few photos of them all together. There was a whole series of shots and in ONE they are all looking at the camera at once, lol. I couldn't help but note that the only one still and looking at the camera in every single shot was the puppy...
Bess and I then went to sit on the back porch where the children were playing. Well, that didn't last long. Gnats were pesky since it was 83 that day. Yes, 83. It wasn't the gnats that drove us indoors, though, it was sheer nerves. The twins were playing with Josh's tricycle which you can push or ride. Zach was pushing Hailey up the ramp and then suddenly let go of her. Not only was he in dire danger of being run down but we were certain Hailey was about to take a bad tumble. No, just adult heart attacks occurred. Then Daniel fell off the porch...He wasn't hurt but it was too much for me. I'd been watching anxiously as Bess stepped off the edge of the porch over holes her pup dug and I was certain each time she'd take a tumble. When Daniel fell that was it. I was done.
We did note that the leaves in the woods behind the house had taken on lovely color in the few days between my visits. They'd had several frosty mornings. When Bess complained of the heat I remarked that it had been in-fall like altogether but those long summer days prior had led to one of the first Thanksgivings I've seen real autumn color on the trees in many years.
I had a nice ride home and made far better travel time than when I'd made the same trip the Sunday before. I listened to nice bits of hometown radio stations, mostly religious. I heard a rousing good sermon, some beautiful music and a little later, a Moody broadcast of the First Thanksgiving. I learned all about Squanto and what they ate and how history books now have written out the Pilgrim's true purpose in coming to the new land: because they were radical religious people who believed deeply in God and his omnipotence. It was very interesting and the miles flew as I listened to that broadcast and heard docents speaking about habits and living conditions and reading excerpts of diaries.
Early to bed that night and early to rise the next morning. Friday was to be our holiday meal together, our special time. Well it wasn't. John had to work a bit late and the cinnamon rolls were no good and burnt, too though they went into a lower oven than suggested and cooked less time. I put them in the oven when John finally came in. He raved over the work turkey and I raved on Sam's.
My dinner took longer than I'd though it might despite plenty of prep time done before hand. I was that proud of it though when I put it on the table. And the table looked lovely, too, by the way. I used my first set of china with the browns and creams and blues in and set the table linens to match. That was all fine and good until John was still raving about the work turkey when I set our dinner on the table. I wanted him to acknowledge how good MY turkey breast was (and it was, too!). And he wanted to watch TV rather than have dinner conversation until I finally asked him to turn off the TV and pay attention to me. I loathe asking for attention that by rights ought to be mine...
John and I didn't have words but the day took a turn that was unpleasant and from that point onward was pretty much spent in silence and as the day went on I had what a British friend calls "Evil Head". John was silent because he spent most of the day dozing. He was worn out from his shift. I was silent because who was there to talk to? I felt a bit cheated in my holiday if you want to know the truth. So I worked. And fought back my unreasonable hurt feelings of being ill used all day long. Ugh. Not pleasant for me at all. Thankfully I managed to shut my mouth tight and not spoil th day entirely for John.
I put up the tree and cleaned up way too many dishes and made a bigger production of our meal than I'd meant to. Wisely I took myself off to bed early-ish again that night and the clouds had lifted and noxious mood was gone by Saturday morning. The weekend passed far more pleasantly than Friday had done, despite the turkey repeats both days. I was very happy to whisk that turkey into the freezer Sunday after we'd eaten yet another turkey meal. I think turkey is grand and really enjoy it but turkey from Thursday through Sunday is a bit much.
John bought me a little wagon a few weeks ago. It's wooden and painted in Christmas colors...I'd been dreaming of Christmas decorating for weeks. I have two Pinterest boards dedicated to Pins I'd gathered. I put the tree up on Friday and added a few decorations Saturday and Sunday but had no clear idea of where I was headed. Until Saturday evening, when I went through the boards and realized that while I had one theme in my head, what I was pinning was another entirely....and what I had was definitely working with the pinned themes. I was obviously mightily drawn to the natural looking Christmas so that's the direction I went in. I called it "A Walk in Snowy Woods". Now photos online all show images for the phrase as grays and whites. In Georgia, snow in woods is evergreen and brown and white and sparkly white. Here and there a red bird or a blue jay flashes a bit of color in the woods, so there are little touches of red.
One thing I did not have: ribbon. When I cleared my craft space earlier this year, I trashed all the tatty bits of ribbon I'd kept for years upon years. They'd been washed and ironed and reused so many times that they truly were scrap bits at this point. Nothing even vaguely Christmas was in my stash.
I had planned to go shopping on Friday (and still do) but Mama and I were out Monday for lunch. She'd suggested Cracker Barrel and after we eat we always stroll through the store and look. I found a beautiful story book for the great nieces for Christmas for half price. Wonderful bargain and that was going to be my sole purchase. I'd talked myself into and out of dozens of pretty things when I found myself holding a single spool of ribbon. Ten yards of the loveliest, most perfect, matching my theme ribbon. But pricey! It was far more expensive than any ribbon I'd ever purchased in all my years. I looked at it and looked at it and finally decided that I'd regret NOT buying it more than I would buying it. That's always a very good test of things for myself. I'd asked myself that question with every item I was trying to talk myself into buying and I'd put them all back. They were not regret worthy. But this ribbon, sigh, this ribbon was regret worthy. I walked to the counter with it and thank goodness I had a portion of my personal allowance left. Imagine my surprise when the ribbon rang up at half off! I assume it was all part of their holiday sale but I had no idea. Half price was just barely more than I'd have paid for ribbon normally.
Mama wanted to go by her bank. I headed down a back road and what a happy thing that was. We had one of those stumble upon moments: a whole row of homes decorated to the maximum for Christmas. I expect at night it's perfectly awesome, but it wasn't bad in full daylight. There must have been six or seven houses and nothing fancy about them, but it would be a wonder alit to a child. My inner child certainly responded. And it had it's own speed zone! Yes, really it had a special digital speed limit sign which read "Slow....Christmas Lane". How great is that?
I came home that afternoon with my mind moved well beyond Christmas and focused on next year. I decided to sit down with the projected 2017 budget sheet and see how I might play with our figures.
For a first through it worked out very well. I was very conservative in my figures. Very. It seemed well to be cautious until we see how things are going to go but planning is necessary whether or not Plan A makes the final cut.
While I was working on the budget my mind was turning over the things I know I must purchase for myself, my home and my supplies in the coming year. I took time to jot these things down and it was while I was jotting that I had a sudden thought of how I might save money in one area. You see, when I bought our patio set it came with a set of cushions on it. Rather ugly cushions but they were obviously quality ones and I kept them. Last summer, I painted two of those old cushions to use on the front porch and they've held up beautifully well. In the meantime, the set I bought two years ago for the patio set have faded and worn so badly that there is no saving them at all. I was making out my list and about to write down patio chair cushions when I thought, "I should paint those other two and use those on the patio set and just purchase two new cushions for the chairs on the porch." Now the truth is, it takes a load of paint to cover that fabric but it does make it more durable somehow, so I'll spend about the value of two cans of paint (if I can match what I've used or four cans otherwise) but that's still less expensive than purchasing four new cushions. I love when my brain clicks in on a possible savings like that and it's a substantial one!
I felt rather satisfied with my 'quiet work' . And I suppose my mind wasn't completely inspiration-less after all. I also realized that I'd bought 7 new tops from Zulily over the last few months and four new shirts from Walmart. Here's the tally with these: two shirts were given to Bess, two were given to Katie and one was torn at Mama's on the first wearing. I had to move two to the home clothes because they were too snug to wear about in public. John washed two more and dried them and they shrank in length (a ridiculous amount of shrinkage). In the end, of the $70 or so spent on tops I have TWO that I can wear. I decided that this was just a waste of my funds. I might have had two very nice tops that I wore until I was utterly sick of them for $35 a piece and they'd have likely been nice enough to pass on to someone else at that point. Same amount of money but far more wear in them, so I'll rethink this sort of purchasing in the future.
And lastly there is a Vellux blanket on our bed that has seen far better days. Now I personally have never bought a Vellux blanket but I've been given them several times over. An within a span of about 4 years they tend to sort of just disintegrate. I plan to replace our blanket with a good wool or cotton one instead. I'd rather spend the extra and have lasting quality I think.
That of course, was my planning...and then we got a call from the flooring guy about doing the rest of our carpeting in January. It will mean putting other things on hold but with a list I'll at least have an idea where any extra we have come in might be best put to use instead of random spending. And while I love my tile in the kitchen, I'm less concerned about the match between any tiles in the two bathrooms but I am concerned about carpets at least being pretty doggone close in match. Right now we can still get the same carpet if not the same dye lot. Thankfully with computer programs these days carpet and cloth dye lots are a lot nearer matches than in the past when it was all done by hand and mistake!
We had rain finally. The weather man actually forecast it for three different days this week, with the first two days being Tuesday and Wednesday (less chance on Wednesday). Still odds were not 100% but it was far higher and far more likely than at any point since August or so. When I woke Tuesday morning, no rain. I was heartbroken. I sat on the edge of the bed and realized that I'd been actually anticipating that rain. I prayed hard as I sat there. A few minutes later, as I moved about the house I heard the first little 'ping' on the vent covering on the roof. It was a periodic ping here and there and then it was a real rain. It lasted for hours, not a great heavy down pour that would have run off the earth but a soaking rain. I'm sure that it's not nearly enough, not by any long shot, but it's the first appreciable amount of rain we've had in months and I'm deeply grateful it!
Mama and I were discussing this rainless state yesterday. She insists that the drought is a judgement from God and la la la....You know. Every time I mentioned that perhaps in God's plan not having rain might have had a natural purpose she'd pipe right in "It's a judgement from God!" Now Mama is by no means a religious or spiritual person but try and move her off a thought pattern and she's dogged if she's letting go. My point was that while droughts are terribly hard and concerning and I do believe that some might be a judgement (after all the Bible clearly prophesies some droughts as judgements), I also believe in God's orderliness. There's always a counter balance to his creations: light and dark (literally and spiritually), joy and sorrow, sowing and reaping, mending and tearing....so why not rainy seasons and drought? Though I suppose really drought is a term we tend to toss about a little more carelessly than God intended , so let's say 'extended dry spells'. What I was trying to say to Mama was that if we have rainy seasons things flourish, so why can't we have dry spells to benefit us as well, to kill off some weed or bug that might prove predatory and not beneficial? Is that all clear as mud now? lol
Despite my thoughts of God's good purpose in these extended dry spells, I am sorry for those in the path of wildfires who've lost family, homes, or business. It's a terrible thing to lose all and have absolutely no ability to control the situation. It wasn't but a couple of weeks ago that Mama and I were out for the day and on returning down a road near her home, noted a fire burning hot and black. Someone's home went up in flames in moments. The fright was that the other houses nearby and the fields between would create a wildfire that might devastate greatly. Fortunately, the fire was put out before it had spread too far, but it was a frightening thing to know that so many homes were endangered due to the extremely dry conditions.
I live in the country where people are wont to burn trash in burn barrels. I recall one year Granny burned a good portion of this place off when one spark lit on dry grass in the field. That was years ago before we children had homes here. I know she was being careful in her burning but the hose couldn't reach the area and had it not been for a chance visit from a cousin who helped put the fire out, who knows what might have happened to her home?
It was not cool when it rained and for the end of November I would much have preferred a bone chilling cold to go with the wet weather but I am by no means discounting the wonder of having it rain after so long with out it!
The cat was outraged. It had been so long since she'd experienced rain that she was beside herself at getting drizzled upon. She likes one porch railing in particular and it was well soaked. She yowled and yowled at me when I went out yesterday morning to feed her. Maddie seemed a bit uncertain herself how to handle the damp but I noted that she was pushed to use that bedding spot I put on the back porch for her, so it wasn't a bad thing. The cat eventually had to sit on my lap and tell me in quieter tones how upsetting she found it all. Misu generally doesn't care to be that close to a person, she likes to stay on the ground where she can scoot away when she's had enough but obviously the rain just upset her altogether.
It certainly freshened the air and John was intermittently opening the doors and taking great long draughts of the moist air. It did smell nice, too. The earth smelled good, as well, no longer having that parched aroma. How I prayed and prayed that others would benefit from the showers we got here! Just last week, all of Georgia was declared in extreme drought conditions which is the highest marker they've used thus far to denote the severity of it.
The water buckets and bird bath filled and overflowed. I was grateful for every last drop. The flower pots that had been filled with asphalt hard soil had enough water to loosen the soil nicely. Now I shall fill those with daffodils and grape hyacinth bulbs and pansies. I haven't got the pansies yet. I'll pick those up when I'm out on Friday. I've a nice bit of allowance set aside I can spend on them and I mean to get as many as I can. They are so cheerful and pretty in winter!
Well, it's time I quieted off for a bit...and it's the very last day of November now. Tomorrow will start December and the last four weeks of the year. It's not been a bad year for us here in our Blue House. Not all sunshine but not all shadow either. It's been a balanced sort of year with lots of family love and was just the sort of year I needed. I am, being myself, already planning for next year but I haven't lost sight of the wonder of December and mean to enjoy it as much as possible. I hope you do as well.