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November 2014
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January 2015

Winter Roses

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Picture taken a few days before Christmas.

Snow finally fell on Christmas Day, adding a magical element to the winter celebration. The winter roses will now be covered, their petals drooping, with the weight of wet white snow. Winter has descended upon us bringing its bitter cold.

Tis the last day of the year, a year in which I feel as if I've been hibernating, although, I know that's not quite true. I feel as if I have been emotionally inaccessible to many of my friends and family. Winter exacerbates this feeling, which I do my best to fend off by being with friends as often as I can, but I fear I am sometimes a poor companion.  I am sharing my insecurities with you in an effort to overcome them.

My intent (oh, that word) is to focus on being more open and caring, so when that ONE WORD popped into my head I thought I'd join in with my own "one word". However, I'm not much into scrap-booking, or collecting of signboards, and I doubt I'll be posting here very often about the word, but well, maybe, when it feels right. You're curious, right?

Happy New Year, friends! May your 2014 end on a high note! Here's to 2015!


Ten Five Star

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Books on my current reading list.

A caveat, my friends: For the most part, the books I read are not happy books. They're usually difficult, heart breaking, thought-provoking, and tell a story that must be told.  This list is of the most memorable 5 star books I've read this year. ToT List for today is 10 Favorite Books of 2014. 

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving -  This book was a page turner and I became complete wrapped up in the lives of John Wheelwright and Owen Meany. The story ran the gamut of emotions, with a focus on humor. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

2. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver - I have been opening this book to any page and reading it aloud ever since I brought it home. I copy inpiring sentences onto my chalkboard and keep them on view for a few days. My "One Word" revealed itself to me through this book.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - This novella is not like the movie with Audrey Hepburn. It is darker and delves more deeply into Holly's character and her personal history. 

4. Light In August by William Faulkner - Faulkner's language soars. I was swept away with his descriptions of place and the way he had of drawing a scene I could step into. I could, also, feel the desperation of his characters and understand their struggle. The small southern town and its people surrounded me as their story was told. Faulkner deserves all the praise heeped upon him over the years.

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - The book tells the respective stories of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy, alternating chapters between the two as they come of age during WWII. This is a book you shouldn't miss and is another I highly recommend to all.

6. A Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - This is a brutal book, a grim reminder of the horrors of war. Few people know of the Australians held in POW camps by the Japanese during WWII or that they were forced to build the Thai-Burma death railway. Their story needed to be told, but it is one of the most difficult and disturbing books I've ever read.

7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Adichie tells the stories of Nigerian immigrants and the challenges they face when adapting to a new country. She sheds light on the many aspects and facets of race issues in Western cultures.

8. A Marker To Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik- Marked by the Liberian war, Jacqueline, the main character, lives in the shadows on a Grecian isle. She is barely surviving, unseen, haunted, and nearly mad with grief and guilt. The story was a hard one to shake, but well worth the read. 

9. The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan - I'll admit to having a soft spot for Irish novels. Each chapter of the book is narrated by an different character, all of whom live in a small Irish town, which has been adversely affected by the collapse of the economy. The stories are poignant, sometimes funny, but beautifully full of Irish idioms. They center around the violence that affected the town in the wake of the collapse and the demise of the local building firm. I listened to this book, but it's only 150 pages, which would make a quick read.

10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - If you could live your life over and over again until you got that one thing right, that one thing you think could change the world, would you? 

Many of the books I "read" I listen to, but some I read and, often, I'll do both at the same time. What you choose to read is up to you and I know many of the books on my list will not make it to your reading list, but if anything strikes your fancy, I hope you'll have a go.


Silently

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After a weekend dotted with fun friend time, meet ups of good cheer, and lovely evenings with Smith, followed by days of alone time spent in silent crafting, reading, and contemplation, I am having difficulty finding words. The words whirl around my head, needing to be shared, wanting the companionship of friends from afar, but they do not roll off my tongue. I stumble while trying to write, to put the words in order and share my thoughts. Focus will come, I am sure of it, but my wish is to let you know I am thinking of you and I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. 


TBW-Merry Christmas!

This picture always threw me off, as I was sure I remember our "first" house very well. Everything was wrong, the windows were in the wrong place, the chair was in the wrong spot, and why was the stenciling in the window facing in? Mom would have made sure it faced out so everyone on the outside could read it. 

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I finally realized the negative had been flipped in production because the tech (someone in 1955) could read the words. It was when I thought to flip the picture back (through the power of today's technology) that the room of my memories fell into place.

On the very edge of the photo, laying across the back of the chair, is my new Christmas skirt. My new doll, a ballerina doll, sits in the stroller next to the chair. Dad built the doll house, telling us the whole time it was a train station for his railroad. 

Christmas 1955

I was 5 and my sisters were 2 1/2 and 8 months. Christmas was quiet and there was time to play with new toy, try out new crayons (the big set), and talk to my new doll.

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My skirt was black wool with a gold and red flower design and the sweater was Christmas red. My memories of this day bounce around, as I remember clearly the hassock that held the vacuum, the wooden nut bowl, the chairs and the drapes. I loved running and sliding on the new hardwood floors. The memories of my 5th Christmas are strong and clear.

Happy Christmas, friends! May you make happy memories that stay with you always. 


If It Isn't Done Now

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Our Holiday is very low key and what hasn't already been done doesn't need to be done. Our decorations, mostly lights, have been out for all of December, and we'll be going out for dinner the next two nights. But Carole asked for ToT what were 10 Things On My To Do List. Fortunately, there are only a couple more things I need to do.

1. Straighten the house so it's presentable for Christmas Eve guests. We're going to dinner with Cheryl and Larry, but we'll have a little toast to the Holiday's beforehand.

2. Smith just finished painting the first floor powder room white. The last few years it's been a ghastly orange/saffron, which didn't work in any way, in part, because I am not good at "accessorizing" a room. I need to find something to decorate the newly painted walls and make the room look good.

3. Dust. OMG, when was the last time I ran a cloth over the shelves.

4. Bake a (GF) chocolate cake with peppermint frosting to take to Christmas dinner at our friends house. We're excited about having dinner with friends on Christmas!

5. Relax, put my feet up, maybe knit, read, or sew. Maybe do it all!

6. Wrap a couple of little treasures (shhh, don't tell).

7. Tonight we'll light all eight candles on the Hanukkah menorah.

8. Wishing everyone I see, and can't see (my imaginary friends), a very, very Merry Christmas!!

9. Think SNOW!! 

Merry, Merry Christmas, my friends!!


Christmas 1954

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My sister is 19 mo. and I am four. Mom would have been pregnant with daughter #3, who will be born the following March. Some time in the next year Mom and Dad would build a new home. We were a growing young family, much like many other pre-war growing young families. I've many flash back memories of this happy time...my sisters, my home, my friends, my young parents, and the safe happy life they created for us. 

Life was good. It still is.


A Years Worth

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Instead of a year in review, which Vicki does with great style, I'm going to go with an easier route, this week's ToT.  Carole asked us to write about the "10 Things You Would Write in a Christmas Letter" so this post stands in as my yearly review.

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1. In the first week of January I blogged about a beautiful shawl, which I'd actually finished in December.

2. During the month of February we had an exciting afternoon in the office when the dumpster caught fire.

3. March is my birthday month and I had a wonderful celebration with loads of cake and cupcakes, too!

4. In April Carole had a very fun ToT for April Fools and I confessed a few things about me.

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5. Surprise, surprise! In May I finished a sweater, the beautiful Hayward, in a delectable cashmere yarn.

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6. Smith and I had a tough June, as that's the month we lost our sweet Moxie dog.

7. In July I finished my second project of the year, TTL's Mystery Shawl. You may think, "only two?", but they were big projects (or so I tell myself).

8. In August I did very little blogging, but I did take some beautiful pictures with my new smart phone.

9. After seeing my posts for September, I now realize just how absent I've been on the blog, but I had taken time to show progress on my Alabama Chanin project.

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10. In October I took a trip to the Land of Green Witches, a place I hadn't visited in quite a long time. Also, in October I fnished my most beautiful project of the year, Cactus Flower, but I didn't write a blog post about it until November. Number three! I have one more FO to show you, a grand total of four this year! 

November was momentous, as I wrote more blog posts than I had all year. 

Has your year been memorable? 


Winter Light

The dark nights of winter can be long and disheartening, but viewing the Holiday lights can bring brightness, lightness, and joy into your heart. One of the best places to see the lights is downtown at Temple Square. We arrived early enough to find parking on the street, but we had to wait a few minutes for the lights to come on. When the trees all around us lit up it felt like being in a wonderland! 

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The weekend was magical.

Smith and I spent an afternoon and evening, walking through the lights of downtown SLC. We never went into a store, never spent a dime, did not shop, but we filled our eyes and hearts with light. 

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The Holiday Season is full of craziness, but also full of moments or joy, for taking care of oneself, as well as other loved ones, in non-material ways. Good food, time to talk, walk in the snow (tiny flakes that melted as they landed), laughing and enjoying time under the glow of a million lights, gave us a time to relax and find joy. 

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Saturday Sky

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Last Sunday, as I left Red Butte Garden, I snapped this photo of the valley below. Red Butte Garden sits high upon the northeast bench, above the University of Utah, and looks out over the Salt Lake Valley and the Oquirrh mountains. You can see the blue of the sky, the contrails of planes, and a slight bit of inversion settling into the valley below.

This week temperatures were far above normal, and while it's disconcerting, we find it difficult to complain about blue skies and 60 degree days. Today the temperature has dropped, the blue sky faded away, and a storm is slated for the afternoon. Sadly, the bulk of the rain and snow will head north of us, with nothing more on the near horizon. In desperation, we THINK SNOW!


Christmas Throwback

Last week I had a picture of me in a dress my Aunt Grace had made and I'm sure this is the same year.  Dad must be telling me about the Christmas tree and how festive it will be once decorated.

Dad and me Tree

I am laughing about the couch and chair in the photo. Oh my, do I remember them well. Think dark puse, course fabric (scratchy!), and ever-wearing. They were part of my life until I left home, although they were relegated to the basement rumpus room by the time I was in high school.

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The following year I was 3 months shy of my 2 birthday and, once again, we were living in Dayton, where we lived months at a time while Dad was going to NCR school. That's a lot of stuff for one child, but I'm happy to see Dad made sure I had  the cars and a train to balance out the three colls. Look at the skunk slippers!