Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite Sitcom

Finally my favorite comedy has arrived on TVLand. Trip introduced me to 3rd Rock from the Sun thirteen or fourteen years ago and I still crack up laughing over its amazing humor and the way it pokes fun at the American - make that human - experience. The entire cast is super, but every time I watch it I proclaim, "That John Lithgow is a comedic genius!" And I still mean it. He translates what the writers wrote with such skill, precision, and expression.
That's all folks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Though I was barely out of my teens, I suppose I was following nature's call when I desired above all to be a mother. And so it was. Blessed I was to have four wonderful sons. During my pregnancies I felt I couldn't wait to see what they looked like! What color hair would they have? And eyes? And how tall and how smart? Later when smack dab in the middle of those child rearing years, the full days seemed to pass slowly as if life would always be that way. But time does not stand still for long. Now that they are fully grown men, having passed the trials of the teens and the tasks of younger adulthood, they have become what they were meant to be, what I wondered about many years ago. Yes...tall, blue eyed and of a certain character, but there is more. When I put aside my busyness, and if I watch and listen, I see my hands and my heart working through them. As they help to rear their children and engage in loving relationships, they pass along pieces of me perhaps without even realizing it. And so it goes, generation after generation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas...It goes on and on

Outside was rainy this second day after Christmas, so inside we baked cookies, sang karaoke, and enjoyed visiting and exchanging gifts with Peter, Sally, and Caroline.

Later we all went to Red Robin for balloons and delicious hamburgers and then to some of the Shops at Greenridge where Ruby and I took advantage of the "props" at World Market.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My baby's baby

Not only is Jacob here with me for a few days, but I am blessed with others whom I love. Here is my baby's baby - Wyatt - who didn't want to let go of the day but is now sleeping peacefully.

Sometimes when you don't know what you are doing, you can come up with some interesting things. I changed some settings on the camera and - voila!

Just one more, please.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Love Thee Lord Jesus!

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bet my snowman is cuter than yours

But he will never replace Santa Claus as the goodwill ambassador of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Silent Night, Holy Night

Joseph Mohr, a young man with a love for music, singing, and poetry and mentored by a priest who recognized his talents was, in his twenties, what we would now call a supply pastor. His post was at St. Nikola Church in Oberndorf, Austria that Christmas Eve of 1818, and as he was preparing for the service, he discovered the organ was not working. He put his creativity to work and gave to the church musician Franz Gruber a short poem that he had written. Together they came up with something they believed could be sung quietly without accompaniment. And so it was that evening, but soon the song was forgotten, and left to dry on a dusty shelf at the church. Many years later, the old sheet music was found by another musician, and the carol began to make the traveling folk circuit, eventually becoming the world's most beloved and familiar Christmas piece. Neither Joseph Mohr nor Franz Gruber lived long enough to know the popularity of their work, but today almost two hundred years and many generations later, we reverently sing their song at Christmastime. That is how it is with our legacies. If we follow God's leading and promises, perhaps something of us can be used in future generations.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Apple Bread

It doesn't take much for me to be entertained. (By the way...this is not a good thing but that's another story.) While the hubby was finishing up some work Sunday night, I busied myself in the kitchen, something that must stop and soon before I end up with an additional fifty pounds on my already overfed body. I adapted a recipe that I got online for an apple cake/bread and it turned out nicely. Soon I will be having some with my morning coffee. I am putting the recipe here in my blog because I can easily find it if want to make it again. The pumpkin bread I put here not too long ago was so I could have easy access for a student who wanted the recipe. Oh yes...occasionally we do talk about things other than patients and nursing stuff. This recipe reminds me of Chinese cooking. Get the prep done and the rest is a cinch.

Apple Cake or Bread

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 pan
Preheat oven to 350

Mix together:
2 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup currants

2 T oil and enough applesauce to make 1/2 cup

No need to mix but in small bowl place:
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 T molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
and a little rum or other tasty spirits if you have it

Stir together:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar (I used some brown and some white)

For the streusel topping mix:
3 T butter
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
almonds (since I happened to have some)

Now you are ready to start mixing:

With mixer til blended:
Beat 2 eggs
Add oil-applesauce mix
Add spice/seasonings/soda
Add flour and sugar (slowly at first)

Stir in apples/currants
Pour into pan
Sprinkle streusel topping on top

Bake about an hour at 350.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One for her, one for me

I am not the zealous shopper I once was. Since I don't have the responsibility of clothing, feeding or housing anyone but myself - well almost - I don't roam the aisles of any kind of store looking for necessities or bargains as I once did. I need relatively little and find that if I do need something, it can wait, sometimes perhaps until I have forgotten about it. I must admit that I come close to admiring the way I have intentionally drifted into economical prudence.

When it comes to Christmas shopping though, I shift my thinking. Since I am not wise enough to shop early, I am out the week before the big day joyfully fighting traffic, searching racks and shelves, standing in lines and thinking really hard. Shopping for others gets me going, but while I am out fortuitous events occur. I see things that I really want for myself! This year I have bought myself a nice lightweight pair of earrings that I will be wearing everyday. And when I saw a cool device that will turn old photograph slides and negatives into digital prints, I knew it was something I had to have. (I will pass it on to Rob if he would like it.) Merry Christmas to me! I won't be returning anything.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Evening Sky

What a pretty sky this balmy winter night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Mall

Last year in Houston, I took a picture of the Christmas tree at the mall where we were and posted it to my blog. Thanks to StatCounter, I have found that that particular post has had more views than any other. Maybe because of the post name, maybe because of the name of the city. Who knows? This year I am putting a photo of the tree in the center of Haywood Mall here in Greenville where I was shopping today. For a long time, Santa had left the building and there was a serpentine line with a bunch of wondering eyes waiting for his appearance. For me, I just had a good time and caught myself singing "...since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" out loud amid the bustling crowd.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gift Exchange

I don't know if this activity has anything to do with China or its customs, but that is the only name I know to call it.

If I don't participate in at least one Chinese gift exchange every Christmas, I feel that I have missed out on a lot of laughs. People are either delighted, disappointed or befuddled, but it is all in boisterous fun. We played the swap til you drop game over the weekend and my husband and another guy fought over a digital tire pressure gauge. Since he lost, at least I now know what will be wrapped and under the tree for him. This afternoon, one of my work groups will be playing this Christmas game, but rather than buying new items, we will be swapping white elephant gifts. I have my Christmas song books wrapped, but hmmm...I wonder what I will end up with.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decisions and Frustration

When I was a young college student studying art, I found that I most wanted to draw when I was in a bad mood. Maybe it was loneliness or frustration I felt, but when I pressed the charcoal sticks to the drawing paper and came up with some semblance of an identifiable image, I was comforted. I am not a good December person. I get stressed. I could probably use some of that healing charcoal now, but life has moved along and I am at a different place. Today I realized how frustrated I was with my regular job last year this time and how I wanted not to be in the same situation when Christmas rolled around this year, but here I am. Stuck. There has been no change. There are logical reasons why I have stayed and maybe down the road I will be glad, but today I am angry with myself for being uncharacteristically logical. Where is my free spirit? And my faith?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Cats in Winter

In warmer weather my two cats prefer to be out at night. What they are doing then remains a feline mystery, but at least they are not causing me to delay falling asleep like they do after the weather turns cold. When it is frosty outside, Daphne, my little calico, and I have some competition. She likes to quietly assumes a place lying next to my husband's warm body as soon as he gets in bed. She acts offended when I move her, tries to sneak back, or at least get a place lying on my hip or curled in my bent knees. Eventually she settles near fluffy black little Nora who usually has the decency to sleep at the foot of the bed from the start. Despite the inconveniences, they are both welcome to keep my feet warm. It is really kind of cozy and comforting to have them snoozing nearby on a cold night. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Counting down

Downstairs the carpet cleaner is at work making it a good time for me to be upstairs on my computer. It is the second day of heavy rains, but I am not complaining. It may take a little longer for the carpet to dry, but Lord knows, the lakes and rivers can still use the water from the sky.

Christmas is approaching. I have decorated the mantle, and strung the rail of the bridge with fake greenery and lights, and tomorrow will decorate the tree that I decisively bought in record time two days ago. Then I will try to keep it - the house and my poor brain - together for a couple of weeks.

Decorating for Christmas doesn't have rules. People can do their own thing and be as minimal, contemporary, vintage or tacky as they like. They may hang a gazillion lights and displays outside or do nothing but garnish their front door with a simple wreath. To me it all looks pretty. My co-worker Pam said she has done her decorating, only one thing. She placed red light bulbs in the eye sockets of her cow skull. I am more of a traditionalist. I drag out the same old cherished things year after year and fondly remember.

In what ever way we decorate or celebrate, it is a time for keeping in touch, reflecting, sharing, giving and having grateful hearts.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanks Daddy

Today on his birthday, we remember Daddy.

Like many others, I am an observer of people. I especially like to watch children with their parents to see how behaviors are shaped. I can see how the child is developing patterns and approaches to situations that he will use throughout life by what he is learning each early moment, for better or worse, from interacting with or modeling after a parent. Some of what my brother and I learned from our father guided us - though unintentionally - into our careers.

From my sweet daddy I learned these three things that have helped in my psych nursing work: 1) acceptance of people no matter their circumstances 2) how to appear as if I am fully listening when I am actually getting just the essence, and most importantly 3) he modeled and therefore taught what is now called appropriate boundaries.

Here is a picture Rob sent me today in remembrance. I guess I was about fourteen. Since Daddy was always the photographer, I am sure he set the camera on a tripod and quickly came to sit with me before the timer went off.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Favorite Quotation

I loved this quote that I learned years ago but had mistakenly attributed it to Mother Teresa. It is actually was from the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.

I slept and dreamt that life is joy.
I awoke and saw that life is duty.
I acted and behold, duty is joy.


Though I am a bread baker I had never made stollen until a couple of years ago at Christmas time when I felt compelled beyond reason to make some. Honestly I barely even knew what stollen was, but I obeyed my ancestral German muse. This year after looking on line and learning that a stollen recipe is different in every haus, and being that I was not going back out to shop for cardamon or almonds, I decided I would just go with the fruit. It was a little heavy on the cherries both candied and dried, however they sweetened it nicely. In spite of the frustratingly slow rising and the huge mess I made, I think it was worth it.

Not the greatest picture but . . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No idolatry, please.

Last month we elected a new president, not one of my choosing but apparently the choice of millions of others. One of my many concerns is the near idolatry that this man has received. It seems that he is heaping quit a bit of it on himself, too, buttressing his position. Office of the president elect? There is real danger in singling out a human being on whom to place one's trust and faith, and we place ourselves as a nation in jeopardy if we take the adoration too far. We are all just people, sheep who have gone astray, and while we are to love and respect each other, we all have need of a Savior. The prez elect is no exception. I hope the mob mentality that he has generated as well as the citizens who truly believe that their hope lies in him will begin to see his many feet of clay. Perhaps an apparent lack of humility would be a good place to start.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

To everything there is a season

Six months ago I had just come back from my dream trip to France, and what a great time I had. I still love looking over my pictures. I change the background photo of my computer pretty often and this picture of garden roses at the villa where I stayed in Provence somehow just keeps resurfacing. I have decided that one reason I like it is not because it is a stem of perfect roses but because it is more like a family of four generations of elegant women in various seasons of their short yet beautiful lives. Our eye is drawn to the center, to the protected young bloom with the peach blush. Who would dare pluck her now? Below and looking forward, a maturing pink edged bloom, and to the right, an open grandmother rose whose white petals have lost their youthful hue. And between the second and third generations hang dried petals of a spent flower, a beauty who had her day in the sun and is all but faded away.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recommendation from a Foodie

Here is a product I discovered in Fresh Market a few weeks ago, Amore tomato paste in a tube. I like it because you can just take what is needed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Something that works

Raising children is a blessing and a challenge. Years ago when mine were little and I was overwhelmed, I sought guidance and knowledge from several books. The most helpful was psychotherapist and educator Haim Ginott's "Between Parent and Child." The wise approaches to problems that I read and learned changed my parenting style for the better. But it didn't end there. When I became a nurse and started working with hurting people, I realized I was using the same sort of communication principles, and overall they have served me well. At work I am frequently good naturedly teased for being "validating," but that is what it is all about. Yesterday as I spent some time on the adolescent unit, I observed an interaction and decided it could have been improved by applying the principles in Ginott's book. I think I will find a tactful way of telling them. Ginott also wrote the related "Teacher and Child." Parents are - after all - the first teachers. A sample of his thinking is found in this quote: "Treat a child as though he already is the person he's capable of becoming." When I have nursing students in the clinical setting, I try to teach and role model based on his sensible, respectful and non-punitive ways.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Taking Care

Yesterday was a full day of busily working at the mental hospital. About ten pm, after being with students in the morning, and an irrational drunk, crying women, a delusional schizophrenic, and an assortment of other trying situations in the evening, I had a feeling I had been there way too long. Though I am glad to be where God has placed me, it is imperative to get away and give my brain time to process and file my experiences. Computers are such great analogies to our brains. Sometimes we see the little blue circle spinning around as the computer tries to find something or the hourglass prompting us to be patient. And I if I push it too hard, make too many demands on the system by overclicking, it will jam. Important also is to turn off the computer, letting it rest, because it seems to last longer and serve me better if I do. But if I leave it off and don't use it, it will become obsolete, slow and ineffective. So I want to work, learn and use what I have without overdoing, but also make sure I allow for those blue circle times to do their thing and have my shut down/sleep times as well. This computer inside my head is not replaceable.