Monday, December 16, 2019

Winter Solstice Woods Walk, and a Birthday

 Crisp, cold sunny.  A perfect day for a walk in the woods with my Granddaughter.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is all decked out for a light show, but we were there for the Woods Walk.  We started our walk by visiting the greenhouses.  Our glasses fogged up immediately and our layers of clothes seemed overdone.  Soon we would be happy to be over bundled.

 Not too many people at the Garden in winter, until the lights come on at night.

 We didn't mind at all having the place to ourselves/

 We passed the wood many times on our visits but never ventured into them.

 Tyke and I always wondered what it would be like to enjoy at roaring fire at the shelter on a day much like this day.

 It did not disappoint.  A lovely woman, layered that fire, a commercial fire starter, crumpled paper (beautifully crumpled by my Penny) bundles of twigs and branches, cardboard egg cartons.  Just a match was all it took.  Soon she was putting on multiple pieces of firewood until it was a picture perfect fire. I wish my love could have been there to see it.  I was wearing his Rocky Mountain National Park sweatshirt, and his hat and gloves.  A comforting and cozy reminder of a man who loved a good fire. 

Just because...When we were youngsters, and I was pregnant with daughter Kristen, my brother Jeff went to Boy Scout Camp up north at Owassippi, in Michigan.  Jeff sent me a letter that broke my heart.  He was cold, hungry and having a miserable time. Me, being in the motherly way, talked my dearest into driving up there with snacks and a comforter.  We got there late and found out it was parent's weekend, so there was no room available in the town.  A good friend arranged for us to sleep in a cabin.  We had no bedding, put on all our clothes we had, and were still freezing.  There was a wood stove and my guy tried to light a fire by putting a match to a log.  A city boy, who was never a scout and had never even sat beside a fire before. (I started the fire, having had grown up with a fireplace in our apartment.) Well you can imagine we joked about that for years.  My baby brother slept well that night, all cozy in my comforter and later sold the snacks to other campers to make some extra cash.

 The walk was fun but a little too much "bark" talk and less adventure ice walking and jumping off of things than my girl likes.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
-Robert Frost

We headed out a little early to host a birthday party for my original
girl, and darling daughter, Kristen.

Here is a little montage I posted today for

A one day celebration could not be contained with all the happiness, joy and love we all feel for this beautiful woman, thus, unto us was born Kristenmas.
Kristen, you are loved and cherished by the small and the tall, by us all.  
Happy Birthday to the best Christmas gift I ever received, you.

We celebrated with dinner and a beautiful cake decorated by Penny.

Irene, Penny and Stevie

My heart is full.

Mark Twain said. "The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up". I find that to be very true.  We are here for each other.  Not one of us could get through our grief without the others. 
We are a tight, solid and strong family.  The babies are clapping and crawling!  Penny is writing in cursive!  We will be together, getting through this, just like Tyke said we would.

If I don't get the chance next week I would like to wish all of you a peaceful and happy Christmas.
Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind comments.  They have touched my heart.

Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, December 9, 2019

By Degrees

 The sunsets this week were so incredibly beautiful.  So many times I walk past the window and have to grab my phone and take a quick photo.  I rarely use my camera, since my phone takes a superior  picture, and it is always close at hand.

 This beautiful angel came to me all the way from Florida, sent by my dear friend and sister of the heart, Carmella.  Cardinals have always had a special place in Carmella's heart. Now, after losing Tyke, the significance of a visiting cardinal has new meaning, and this gift will be treasured, displayed, and remembered by our whole family. Carmella, thank you especially for your memories and kind words about our family. Love you.

 Granddaughter Penny suggested that I use blue lights I had, on the tree this year.  A purist for white lights, I stuck the blue lights way inside the tree and white lights on the perimeter.  It is a different look, but lovely.  The only ornament is, of course, a cardinal Penny and I recently purchased, and our Hallmark angel we bought the year we were married, 1976. (Not shown in this photo.) 

 I made the front door wreath.  I saw a similar wreath and had a large wire heart shaped form. A few cable ties and a garland and I had a beautiful welcome .

 Candles are in my windows year round, I added the galvanized tin hearts, and a string of white lights swagged across the window tops.

Outside skates, a sled and skis and a tiny fresh tree.

 My baby girls are growing by leaps and bounds.  Irene is moving, not quite crawling but she can get to where ever she wants to go.  Here, we are on Face time and Irene has almost reached the phone that Daddy placed there so we could visit. They are phone crazy, and the cutest girls ever.

 Here is Stevie.  She is wearing Daddy's vest I made back in the day.  They both sit up on their own, and their techniques of doing so differ. We have so much fun together, but I love the snuggles and the peace I feel holding one of these sweet girls as they sleep.  Pure bliss. Did I mention clapping?  Stevie started first, clapping for the song If You're Happy and You Know It.  Then Irene caught on.  Now music, funny jokes, any cheering or laughing gets them clapping.  Their tiny hands actually make noise and it's the sweetest thing. Penny is the best cousin, and the girls just light up when she arrives.  I had all my kids here this weekend.  It is wonderful the love and support they give to me and to each other. Hat trick, Tyke.  Hat trick.

Irene, Penny and Stevie
 We tried to have a photo shoot, but it was like wrangling cats. Here they are all looking at the same place at the same time!  (Dad was hamming it up behind Grandma.)  Now that I think of it, why didn't the professional photographer (Dad Jon) take the photos while I hammed it up?  My girls, my heart, my loves.
Speaking of my loves, this was one year ago this week.
I so miss kissing this face on a cold winter day. 

"What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"
-William Shakespeare

Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness. 
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, December 2, 2019

Great Moments

 The bread was delicious, not a slice leftover.

 "Sometimes, when we have a sad situation in our life -  whether it's a child, or adult or spouse, whatever - we tend to just get lost in all those terrible details.  And we forget that in between, there are great moments."  Mitch Albom 

 The new cookie was well received.  Using a new chip, salted caramel with a chocolate cookie base.
Apple cheesecake bars, triple chocolate bundt.  Not pictured, pumpkin pie. Guests brought more pies, brownies, cake pops and deviled eggs. Kris and Doug brought veggies and dip and Elizabeth brought a fruit tray.  The guys did a liquor run mid party.  I think everyone had a very good time.

 This dear one helped set the table. Look at that fabulous face! Not everyone sat at the table since we had almost 30 guests.  Seven were children! The babies came in beautiful party dresses, I did not take a photo, but I think some were taken by others. The girls visited with just about everyone.  Their smiles light up my heart.

 I lit the candles after dinner.   Just to take a photo.  Thanks to my sister in laws everything was on the table, even the gravy I forget EVERY year in the microwave.

Mikey took over his Dad's job of carving the turkey.  So much like his Dad in sweetness and humor. Jon and Mike, improvised a little ceremony before dinner.  Jon spoke, thanking every one for coming, and then he and Mike rang Tyke's zen bell, saying Dad would always say, "Serenity Now!"  The bell holds the tone for a long time. Everyone was silent...then Jon said, What else did Dad say, Mom?   I said... Insanity Later!  Everyone laughed. It was a perfect tribute, beautiful, meaningful and humorous. (Taken from an old episode of Seinfeld.) So very proud of my kids.  They were my support and knew just when I needed a hug to get me through.

My SIL Mindy and brother Tony left me a gift and a card.
This beautiful lighted ornament.

 So beautiful it touched my heart.  Especially them telling me that they missed Tyke too.  People don't talk about him.  He is ever present to our immediate family, and most memories we talk about when we are together make us laugh. It's the best way to remember Tyke.

It was a happy and grateful Thanksgiving.  Tears and plenty of memories.  Many laughs, hugs and even a few new faces and an dear old friend of the family, Anna and her beau stopped by for dessert.

The sunshine this morning was much needed, as snow covered the deck and yard. 

I did the oranges and cloves, listening to music.

 I will take these great moments as they come and treasure them.
Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny  

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Oranges, Cloves and a Potato Heart

 The hardest part of this Thanksgiving will be the grace.  Always said by my dearest with a bit of prompting from yours truly.  Last year we shared Tyke's illness with the family at grace, because we were so filled with hope and gratefulness, he was doing so well.  I never thought that it would be our last Thanksgiving together.  Here, again with a little encouragement, my sweetheart is studding the oranges with cloves, as we have done each Thanksgiving day for years.

 I am three days behind on holiday prep.  These beautiful girls, along with Penny kept Grandma hopping.  That would be bunny hopping, chicken dancing, hokey poky as I told them about weddings, especially Mommy and Daddy's wedding.  They especially liked the kissing part where I made very noisy kisses.  Mommy was taking a test to enter law school, and Daddy had to work, so I got these two to myself.  They both have colds, but were still happy and so much fun.  They listen to all my stories, and looked on with real concern when some tears fell.  They will know all about Grandpa, how funny he was and how happy he was to hold them and love them when they were so tiny.

My dearest, silly and full of love.

The potato of love.  It was found photographed and eaten two years ago on Thanksgiving.  The things he did for love...posing with a heart shaped potato.  

I am so very grateful for all of my wonderful happy memories of my husband, for my beautiful children and their sweet spouses.  My granddaughters are my heart and life, so dear and a part of both Tyke and me.
We will celebrate in the home that Tyke and I built together, and I will stud the oranges with cloves and hope to find another potato of love.  Surely someone will catch a nap in Tyke's chair and the kids will make hot chocolate they probably won't drink, and the family will laugh and talk and watch football and eat.  I, will remember.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
I am grateful for you who drop by for a visit and for your kind and dear comments.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, November 18, 2019

One Warm Thought

 As November flies by, I am making some progress at home and in my heart.  I am comforted by happy times with my girls.  Getting to spend time with the grand babies and my Penny has helped immensely. They are happiness personified.  They don't mind my tears, and like talking about Grandpa.  There is actually little time for sadness when they are here.  When they leave I am pretty tired, and count my blessings.  What would Grandpa think of these rascals?  They would have him smiling and laughing for sure.

Progress on the guest room.  Painted, new carpet and curtains.  I purchased a new mattress and box spring and brought up the frame and assembled it myself.  The rest of the furnishings came from around the house, including the bedding and lamps.  That's a thrifted quilt.  Embroidered and with prairie points.  So pretty.  Still to find a headboard and put on the dust ruffle.      

 It is a bright and cheerful space.

 I painted this dresser when Penny was a baby.  A hand me down from my dear pal Jean.  It is filled with crafting supplies, but after the holidays, I will get organized and find another space for my stuff.

 My girl was under the weather.  I set her up in a cozy spot, complete with hot chocolate. 

 Looking at memories of Novembers past, this photo made me smile.  We were making pierogi for Thanksgiving. Circa 2010.  This might inspire me to make some for this Thanksgiving.  Though any pierogi I make will not have the precise crimping this guy excelled in. ;-)   

 Another memory, this one from 2013.  Pass the memories.  That's how Josh and Brent signed our cookbook.  

As memories come, I have some of the best and happiest.   I've decided,  instead of dreading the holidays, I will celebrate them, as best I can.

"The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money."
Thomas Jefferson

Sending warm and healing thoughts to my friend Lynne at Irish Garden House.
Take care dear Lynne, be kind and patient with yourself as you heal.  Love you! 

Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Healing takes time...

Enlarge to see the cranes!
 I was raking leaves when I heard the familiar sound of sand hill cranes, so high above me I wasn't sure that I would see anything on a photograph I took.  I stood and watched and remembered last year, not knowing what I was seeing, as the cranes formed a circle to maintain their high altitude.
A autumn wonder, the migration, a long long journey. 

 The leaves are raked to the curb and picked up by our village.  A job that I always did alone, while my guy worked inside.  Periodically he would check on me, and laugh when I came indoors and put my cold fingers on any warm part of his body.  The things I remember, comfort me.

 The moon is a source of comfort too.  By day or night.  How often we gazed at a full moon or a moon dog on a crisp and cold evening. 

Yes, healing takes time.

 These two help immensely.  They are trying to crawl and if that doesn't work they roll anywhere they want to be.  Sometimes they get stuck and need to be rescued.  They like Grandma and their Aunties and Uncles.  Pure love and fun.

 This is a photo taken by Irene.  It is of her sister's leg.  Note the fuzzy quality. I'm sure she was aiming for that arty avant-garde look.  Those girls love a phone, to chew!  The photo was accidental, but I swear she looked proud to have taken it.

 A mystery solved.  Clarence my bear has been missing.  He's the bear on the right. (Radar, on the left is Tyke's bear) We looked everywhere.  Even Kristen who bought Clarence for me many years ago was concerned.  To show how preoccupied I have been, I just noticed Clarence wasn't in his usual place in the family room.  Then I checked...I accidentally put him away with my Christmas bears.  He's been gone since January! I just noticed. I'm sorry Clarence, it won't happen again.  Oh, and Radar is now hanging out with him too. (They were in good company, in the Christmas bear bag, swapping stories with two dear bears from Michigan, gifted to me from sweet Lynne from Irish Garden House.)
 Speaking of angels, my girl making a snow angel, at home with Grandma on her day off.

 Strange weather for Autumn.  Leaves still on the trees, snow covering all the leaves and debris from summer.  I guess things will all get sorted out.  Maybe a heat wave between now and Thanksgiving?
Anything can and will happen weather wise in the Midwest.

I've been shopping for Thanksgiving and working on our guest room.  Looks like I'll have a full house.  We have six girls from eleven to eight months, seven couples and one Grandma.  After hosting for thirty five years, I've got this.  At least, I hope. 
Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny