Sunday, December 15, 2013

December Love - My Christmas Card to You

From early October on....I hope for snow. If its in the forecast..I am up several times in the night, peeking out the shades. If in fact its falling..I wrap in a blanket and step out in my slippers, lifting my face toward the swirling icy crystals.
Its beautiful. It always makes my heart sing, I'm not exactly sure why.
Everything looks pristine under its white blanket, and the quiet that falls along with it is ethereal.
I simply love it.

Chandler loves it too.

Ever since I found this bird nest on the path, tucked in a blue spruce, I envisioned how stunning a red Christmas ornament would look nestled in there.
The first day it snowed, even though it was -2 degrees, I tucked the shiny red ball  in my pocket, and with my" always eager to hit the trail" dog, set out to bring my vision to life.

The white on white of the birch trees against the frozen pond is also calling to me for a touch of Christmas adornment, I cannot resist its quiet request.

 December is so full of our busyness. No other month can compare!
The lists, the shopping, the baking, the giving,..
Nostalgia weaves its golden threads through our hearts.
We remember Christmas's past, loved ones far away, those who are no longer with us.
We love. We give.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus. Who first loved.
Who first gave.
So Thankful He came to save us. 

I love snow covered trees. This was taken looking out my kitchen window when I lived in out Little House in the woods, in Lake Stevens. The snow was so heavy, we could hear branches snapping off in the night under the heavy blanket of white.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by by so much beauty, I love to share it with all of you. I hope it brings you joy!

I hope this December,  you are surrounded by those you love, that you can still find joy, and beauty in this world that sometimes seems to have gone mad. If it snows where you are... lift your face into the frosty swirl...

and for goodness sake EAT some of this zero calorie ice cream!

and finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable... if anything is praiseworthy, think about such things. Phil.4:8

Look for that beauty, and love, and joy in December, and carry it in your hearts all the year through!

With love from Gail,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Evening of Destruction

                      (Part three of Where the Willow Tree Grows)

Another Scorching August day was thankfully fading. A breeze was beginning to stir, and preparations were once again underway for a lovely summer gathering under the willow tree. This was a special evening! Bob and Denise had brought everything for dinner. Ribs to BBQ on the grill, fresh green beans with bacon, and Bob had spent hours that afternoon painstakingly preparing a favorite potato salad his Mother used to make! It was a labor of love, and a thing of beauty as he slipped it into the fridge! As if this wasn't enough food, we of course had trays of Bernie's Secret Garden delights, tonight, she had even included a plate of chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce!
 Bob and Ric put the ribs on the grill, we girls load up with all offerings from the kitchen, which as usual..takes several trips ..( Bernie has resorted to loading up as much as possible in bags.)...

While she meticulously loads the little green wooden table with all the goodies, and glasses and napkins,  getting everything just "SO"...I climb up on a chair and attache the new Bobeche on the Tree Chandelier that Denise has so kindly purchased....There! That's better!

Ribs are on the Grill, little wooden table is piled high, we all settle in to relax and enjoy another magical night under the tree.
Ric takes the champagne out of the bucket and places it on the table under the chandelier and commences to pop the cork just about the same time as Bernie warns "don't open it under the.."
 The cork shoots straight in the air making a direct hit with the brand new Bobeche, sending a spray of " broken sparkly" all  over Ric, who is so startled, he has stumbled backwards bumping the loaded little green wooden table sending cheese and crackers flying,chocolate dipped strawberries sailing, and tiny tomatoes rolling right into the raspberry patch! In that split second of knowing something has gone terribly wrong but was hysterically funny...there was complete silence.(other than the sprinkling of tiny shards of Bobeche bouncing off Ric's hat)  Denise and I turned to see the look on Bernie's face...we knew Ric was gonna get it...then, we all began laughing SO first there was no sound coming out of us, then we were howling and were relieved to see Bernie's face crumple into laughter too.

Ric was off the hook.

We eventually calmed down and began gathering the scattered veggies and cheeses and wiping off glasses that somehow escaped the chaos without breaking.We settle back into our gliders with our glasses of bubbles still chuckling..We decide its time to enjoy the beautiful platter of shrimp and cocktail sauce, as I pull back the saran wrap, something out of the Twilight Zone happens! Reminding me of an old movie that used to scare the pee-wadin out of me..The Birds! Only it wasn't birds.... it was


They came out of no where ..they came out of everywhere! They swarmed the plate, crawled under the saran wrap..sending the whole bunch of us into a tizzy for the second time this evening! Denise and Bernie are allergic to bees for goodness sake!!  In the cloud of insects we somehow got the saran back on the plate ( bees and all) and raced it back to the house!

Now for a third time this evening, we return to the comfort of our swaying seats, a bit shaken but determined to enjoy each others company and the space under the flowing branches of this tree we love so much.
As I'm listening to the conversation, I gaze up into the tree, as we often do, and realize directly above the glider where Bob and Denise are relaxing, is a LARGE branch that has apparently broken off and is dangling from another branch..pointing straight down like an arrow at my two friends.

 Now, I didn't want to push the panic button..but the way the evening was going, and being a pretty strong believer in "things happen in threes" I didn't say anything, but simply pointed up.....Well! Ric was going to take care of this problem RIGHT now! He went for the ladder , the rope, a long stick... We  did NOT want him up there fixing this himself and were commencing to make quite a stink about it, which got him all riled up...then, well..Bernie had had enough!! 
 Finally we got Ric all calmed down with  some sweet talk :)

And... I'm happy to report, nobody got shish-ke-bobbed.

By now the ribs are done, and smell heavenly. We gather up whats left of our eventful evening and head indoors to the studio where the table is set. By the glow of candlelight we enjoy a truly wonderful dinner! The Ribs  were perfectly delicious, Denise's green beans and bacon, so good, and that potato salad!! Oh MY! I'm a potato salad lover..this was one of the best I have ever had! We ate as much as we could possibly hold, but there was a lot left in the bowl.
Even with all the excitement, it has indeed been a great night!

I guess bad things don't happen in threes after all.

We are all relaxing around the table after we finish, Bob (bless his heart )begins clearing the dishes and taking everything back out to the kitchen. As the rest of us are enjoying one of Ric's stories, I hear an unusual sound coming from the kitchen, kind of like a Plop, a thud...a borderline kersplat ??No one else seems to hear it, the story continues and I don't want to interrupt..
Bob comes quietly back from the kitchen and stands at the edge of the table, the story stops, we all look up...

"You are not going to believe this" he says, and turns to head back to the kitchen.
We follow.

There on the kitchen floor lay destruction episode # 3


Bob thought the lid was attached to the bowl, he was sadly mistaken. We were all so sorry, so sad for the waste and the loss of all his hard work ...then of course.......
 we laughed uncontrollably til tears ran down our cheeks.

WHAT a night!

At least he never had to worry about his potato salad going bad.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Losing Mom

A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.  

(Mark Twain)

I've often pondered this quote in joyful times, things hoped for, prayed for, waited for. But on this afternoon , as I was preparing to write a post on my Obsession of Pumpkins, I realized it also speaks of things that are difficult, dreaded, painfully expected.

I received the call yesterday that my sweet Mother was very quickly fading. Something I have indeed prayed for, hoped for...and so has she.

After suffering a massive stroke at the age of 49, she has endured 33 of her 82 years in a wheelchair. Most of those years in assisted living, many in Nursing homes.
I tried to help her, make her happy, find peace, but I could not save her from the waves of anger, sorrow and frustration, the physical and mental disabilities, the understandable spiral into depression.

So she endured. For thirty three years.
Yes I prayed for her release. I asked the Lord many times.."Why must she linger? Why cant you take her home? Why did this happen to her? Why..Why..WHY?

The clock ticks away the rainy October afternoon, and I am comforted by the company of my visiting daughter and grandchildren.
Mom lies in a bed in a nursing home, in another state, slipping away under a veil of morphine. I want to crawl in bed with her and hold her. Tell her how much I love her, that very soon she will be free.

At 6:17, I receive the call. She has taken her last breath, she is gone.

The thing long expected has come.

The pain that drops me to the bathroom floor is the "unexpected."

I cry loud and hard and long. The patches I have stitched over the hole of "Mama" in my heart over all the years, unravel. I have missed her for so long.
But gone...Gone is different.

I have grieved for years at not having her healthy and happy....but that was selfish grief. Not having her to have lunch with, or laugh with, or tell all her friends how cute my kids are... paint a bedroom, can tomato's or go on a road trip. But I realize this fresh grief is for all that SHE  missed. Simple gifts most of us take for granted.
Raking leaves, riding a horse, stuffing a turkey, planting bulbs, having your kids over for dinner, babysitting your grand kids.

Legs and Arms that do what they are supposed to. Hug and wave, and dance.

I remember the last time I was with my Mom in August. It was hot, but I put on her big floppy hat and pushed her down the street to the park.

There was some kind of a festival going on. Music, little girls twirling, sweaty little boys hanging from trees. People just enjoying life. She watched from under the brim of her hat, and she smiled.
I bought her a milkshake and fed it to her with a spoon so she wouldn't choke. I took her back inside, kissed her and held her hand. I told her how much I loved her and that if I had all the Moms in the world to choose from...I would still choose her. She smiled. I said ;"See you later Mom, be good!" Walked down the hall, out the door, got in my car and drove away with a heavy heart.
 Just like always.

The morning after I received the "expected call", beautiful flowers arrived on my doorstep, reminding me of hope, and love, and life, and the life Jesus promises us in heaven. Much more beautiful than these fragrant roses! Where we will shed no more tears, and receive new bodies!
 My Mamas broken little body got replaced with a NEW one! I close my eyes now, and hope to hang on to a new vision of her...NOT in that wheelchair..NOT "resting in peace"... but dancing!! With her arms over her head , laughter escaping her smile, and those beautiful brown eyes reflecting the radiance of the One on the Throne of Grace, who has brought His child home.
You keep dancing Mama, I will meet you there someday

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalms 30:5

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Frosted Pumpkins

This is the easiest thing to do EVER! Have I got the interest of those of you who always say
"I cant make ANYthing!"??
It is SO easy in fact, I am going to let my 3 year old grandson help me sparkle up another batch of these tiny ghosty punkins this weekend!


paint brush ( 1 inch or wider)
Modge Podge
Epsom salts
Pumpkins (any size, any color)

Its a good idea to wash them off first, and dry with a towel.

Pour your salts in a dish big enough to roll them around a bit, and sprinkle over tops.
Simply brush the modge podge on to surface. (don't forget the stem)
Then roll around in salts, sprinkling over the top if necessary.
Place them on a newspaper to dry. (about an hour)
And there you have it my friends!

These ( and many other gourds) would be beautiful on your Thanksgiving day table, would they not?
I'm telling you, you are going to think you are Martha Stewart!

After Thanksgiving dinner is enjoyed and the greasy kitchen all cleaned up... throw all the pumpkins in the tub and have a well deserved Epsom salt soak!
But watch where you sit.
Now go get your glitter-self ON girl!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October Love


                                    October passes much too quickly don't you think?

Although the nights have grown cold, the mornings dark, and the fleece sheets pulled up under my chin tempt me to stay cocooned against the morning chill... just a little longer.

But the path, in the first morning light is always calling to me.
(that… and the large head of a Black lab propped next to my face, soft brown eyes watching my every breath until my feet hit the floor.)

Reaching the trail, I am never disappointed.

This particular morning as the sun comes up, the leaves that have been painted with a touch of frost overnight begin to fall all around me with a soft clicking noise. (as if there is not enough beauty for my eyes to behold, my ears get to join in the party too!

Ducks float silently through the mist rising from the pond. The foxes are no where to be seen, perhaps they are still curled up in there den under the covered bridge, more than likely… they are hidden in the tall grass watching me!

Chandler and I turn back as the sun is completely up now, the morning show for today is over.

I'm so grateful, that God made everything in living color! He could have just made everything black and white. Color is a gift, in every season, every day… but October? Who can not love it?!

Back home, we enjoy our morning coffee, and look out the window at all those beautiful leaves… that have fallen… and now need to be cleaned up. We could hope for a wind storm or...

We could invite the grand kids over for cheap labor.

Take time this day to enjoy the many paintings of October, right outside your window because November is coming with its bare tree browns, and it whites of frost and snow...
Which I believe, has beauty all its own!

Don't you just love the changing of the seasons?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chandelier in the Willow Tree

    (continued from "Where the Willow Tree Grows.")

This beautiful willow tree graces the little farm on Emma Lane.
 As I was sharing with you in part one of this story, it began 30 some years ago when Ric and Bernie stuck two tiny little willow twigs in a bucket of water. The roots filled the bucket, then were placed side by side in the ground, they grew together entwining into one magnificent giant!
At the end of this late summers day, the sun sinks behind the hills painting the sky pink and gold.The long graceful branches dance in the cooling evening breeze, inviting us to come.....

Hearts are glad as we friends bustle about in the kitchens gathering up all the special culinary delights lovingly prepared earlier in the day by Bernie. 
 Fancy trays of strawberries with dip, tiny crackers with Bernie's Mint Jelly, seasonal offerings from the garden, Ric's smoked cheeses...
and SOMEtimes… Bernie makes a fancy tray of tiny bologna sandwiches, on white bread cut in little triangles, crust off… my FAVORITE!
Mind you… I don't eat white bread and my bologna eating days disappeared with my childhood
 but I'm telling you...
 under this tree they seem to be food of the gods!

Last but certainly not least..

The champagne arrives wrapped in ice and shining silver!

We all settle under the tree to enjoy its shelter from the sun and the outside world.
Pleasant conversation among friends blends with the evening calling of the turtle doves and the beginning of the crickets chorus.

The Wrens flit in and out of their gourd birdhouses overhead reminding us...
It is time to add the ethereal glow of
 the Chandelier !

I found there was only ONE way to share the magical glow of a Chandelier in a Willow tree, (and I really wanted to… because after all… how many of you have ever sat under a chandelier in a tree??)

So onto the ground I went.
As I enjoyed the hard work of this particular photo shoot, I realized there was a missing bobeche on our beloved chandelier!
Who says that??
This word makes me laugh out loud every time I say it, or even think of it!! I had to look it up on google to even know how to spell it! It is a French word and is the glass collar that sits beneath the bulb and holds the glass prisms on a chandelier.
Who knew.
I noticed that there was one missing, and it was really bugging me..messing up my flat-on-my-back shots!

Now that YOU see it… it bugs you too, right?
My friend Denise and I agree, we must replace it! We decide to get one for Bernie's Birthday and have it up for our next tree gathering in a few days. Where in the world do you shop for a Bobeche?? (I just put that line in because I wanted to say it one more time .)

 By now, Ric has started a fire in his fire pit with bundles of willow twigs he gathers, ties up with twine and keeps stacked by the barn. (On occasion, he will grill thick steaks over the flame for our dinner!)
The harmonica is brought out, Rick Service Stories are recited,  Old stories are brought back to life, new stories are shared.
 Our laughter rings out over the cooling pastures as time is suspended under the tree, the outside world turning midnight blue.

Under this beloved tree, many have been refreshed and encouraged.
And the laughter, OH my goodness the laughter!!

Tears have been shed, friendships mended,and prayers have filtered up through the knowing branches,who have heard it all, yet hold it all secret. Which must be why Bernie calls it her Secret Garden.


 Our time under the Beloved Willow tree is always perfect.

Except for that ONE night.

(to be continued..."Evening of destruction")

Friday, October 11, 2013

Where the Willow Tree Grows

Where do you go when your heart longs for home but there is no home in which to return?

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in the country. We were poor, our family never owned a home, living in 7 different places. I have fond memories of every one of them; fields and creeks, barns and tree houses, cats, dogs, horses, cows, chickens and ducks. How I wish I could return to my favorite spot in the hayloft , or show my grand kids the rickety raft tied at the edge of the pond, or  the tree house my brother built in the big tree above the creek....
My parents divorced years ago, dad has since passed away and my dear mother is in a nursing home.

Before you stop reading this sad tale, please come with me to my adapted home, that feeds my country-heart longings.

Come with me to Emma Lane, where my friends Ric and Bernie have lived and loved each other for 38 years!   When my country loving roots need nourished, I am blessed to be welcomed here!  I am greeted with warm hugs and the heavenly smells of Bernie's Pot Roast, which is THE best I have ever had! ( Sorry Mom)

The front porch swing creaks in the breeze that is scented with honeysuckle. Almost every seat inside the house and along the back porch are rocking chairs! 24 of them! Ric says the only thing that doesn't rock in this place is the music!


Where late summer flowers ramble freely over fences,

Gooseberries hang heavy, just daring you to taste....

and 28 birdhouses nestled here and there make for some happy birds who all sing their chorus of thanks in the early morning!
 I wander through the garden picking the last of the raspberries, I marvel at the size of the rhubarb plant, and wonder if tonight's dinner will include Bernie's amazing rhubarb pie! There are pumpkins unable to hide their orange as they grow fatter under the tangle of leaves

Out in the pasture under the bridge, Farmer Ric has planted Squash and Zucchini where they ramble with abandon!

I look back from the pasture at this little home I love, and smile at the thought of my bedroom , with windows flung wide open, where tonight when I crawl under the Chenille bedspread, the cold night  air smelling of fresh cut hay, will float over me like a dream from my childhood, complete with dogs barking in the distance, and the "chht chht chht" of sprinklers....The covey of turtle doves  alongside the house whisper soothing coos throughout the night...
I am brought back from my daydream as I gaze upon the giant willow tree, which is after all the center of this special place, not to mention the star of my story!
Thirty years ago...Ric and Bernie stuck two willow branches in a bucket of water. The roots soon sprouted, the twigs were stuck in the earth....It has withstood storms of wind, ice and snow.

When the sun goes down..... the chandelier hanging low in its branches begins to glow , the crickets begin their song,
and  that my friends...
is when the magic happens.....

to be continued.



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