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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

DSCN8157Sunday.

Mother’s Day.

One of those mellow days of love and recognition that seemed to flow slowly and deliberately into a forever memory.

After Sunday worship, we went to Jennifer and Jason’s for brunch. Egg strata, bacon, salad and Mimosa’s. As I sipped and savored, I remembered another Mother’s Day, more than three decades past, where a toddling Jennifer brought me breakfast in bed. On that long ago morning,  I opened my eyes to a wee darling saying “happy Mother’s Day Mommy” as she slowly settled a plate of breakfast in front of me.

I remember it vividly.

A dollop of strawberry yogurt with Cheerios on top, toast, and a few slices of hard salami on the side.

This year; mimosas, egg strata, salad, coffee and Kringles.

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On our way home, Tom and I stopped at Lilacia Park in Lombard, where it is lilac time. Though the skies were gray and it was cool, the lilacs and tulips were resplendent.

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I took too many photos. Everywhere I looked was color and contrast, statements of nature painted on every stem, beads of moisture clinging to petals and leaves, a concert of color singing all-the-more brightly in the absence of sun. You can imagine my bliss as I tiptoed among the tulips, my indulgent and supportive  husband at my side.

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Unknown`

“This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us.  We did not weave the web of life.  We are merely a strand in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”

Attributed to Chief Seattle.

Cover image from Susan Jeffer’s “Brother Eagle, Sister Sky”.

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The house is quiet now. The pitter patter of little feet that ushered our grandchildren down the long hall,  through the kitchen, up and down stairs and stools and chairs and climb-upons that only children tackle have faded. The creaks and groans of the floorboards are just that; creaks and groans of an old house pushing itself back together again.

I feel a bit like a floorboard tonight, pushing myself back together again, creaking and groaning as I shift my focus from bustling granny, chief cook and bottle washer (remember that term?) to tackler of piles upon piles of this and that and the other; projects all that need some attention tomorrow.

In the quiet tonight, however, sated from a big Easter dinner, I’m feeling a tad like Peter Rabbit must have felt, soporific from overindulgence of food I don’t usually eat – with an extra helping to boot. I’ll just rest my eyes and reflect on family, both those now up north and those who were with us today, dining around our table, which also groaned and creaked with the weight of food and conversation and is just now putting itself back together.

I’ll just be still while the nearly full moon winks at me through the eyebrow window in our bedroom and I’ll give thanks for the joy of t0day and the promise of tomorrow.

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DSCN7733Something white caught my eye.  There they were, a generous mass of springtime, clustered on the ground as we were leaving Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday; snowdrops – and not the cold, wet, flakey kind!

The trees are starting to bud. The grass is greening. My daffodils are inching forward and many are showing plump, yellow tips. Best of all, there is a full chorus of spring peepers down the road in the little pond.

A walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods had this little miss swinging her coat like a kite and her shadow skipping along the path,

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and this young lad hugged his Papa for a long, long while and then he explored the nature center.

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Today we will color Easter eggs and perhaps watch trains go by, as our Ezra really loves trains, and we will have some quiet moments as we reflect upon the gift of Easter.

Peace and  blessings to each of you.

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Whilst the Irish Soda Bread was baking and the corned beef dinner was  simmering, a few of my favorite Irish films came to mind, and I was wondering what some of your favorite Irish movies might be.

One that always sets me to laughing is Waking Ned Devine

Of course, there is The Quiet Man, which usually shows up in the these parts on St. Patrick’s Day, as it did again this year.

Evelyn is perfect for social justice and protection of children –  and a wee bit of angel rays,

 

and Finian’s Rainbow if just the one for song and dance.

The trailers are from YouTube. A few I couldn’t find but are enjoyable to watch include Da, The Mammy,  The Secret of Roan Inish, and Ryan’s Daughter.

While I’m blathering on about movies, I would like to mention the British import , Moone Boy on PBS? Have you watched it?

What are your favorite films of Ireland?

 

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Vilhelm_Hammershoi_Danish_Artist_1864_1916_Rest_1905

There we were, just this New Year’s Eve morning, sitting upon the couch watching “Razzle to Dazzle: Hair”, a fashion segment on the Today Show.  One of those trendy hairstyles, adorned by some starlet or other, to top off one’s New Year’s Eve “do”, was being fashioned. This was a braided assembly that looked rather like the one pictured here in Vilhelm Hammershoi’s painting; a braided crown all squished and tousled and Pippi Longstocking-ish – until the icing on the hairball, er hairdo, which was a spritz (or two or three) of spray glitter.

Actually, the glitter looked like a bit of fun, which I said aloud, and my dear husband countered, “Yeah, like Tan . . . “! and I took the rest of the words right out of his mouth.

Dear reader, by now you must know that there is always another story in my apron pocket. A story to amaze, astonish, astound. A Perils of Penelope sort of December tale.

So, it begins, as many fairy tales begin, with . . .

Once upon a time, a frazzled young mother of two was breathlessly primping. She had endured a full day of Saturday chores; Christmas preparations, ballet class for one,  a new pair of shoes for the other (or some such scenario), along with finding a present for a holiday Rotary gift exchange at the annual party that evening.

Those Rotary Christmas parties were fun, though we often huffed and puffed to get there. Tom’s Rotary Club was small, but, they did amazing things to provide scholarship and local community support, as well as contribute to the bigger Rotarian agenda across the globe. Their annual Christmas party was usually held at a member’s home and was filled with good cheer, good food, lively conversation, and fellowship.

After my hectic day, I took a shower and went through the rituals of getting all “dolled up” for the party. My holiday shoes, which are depicted here, were waiting for me to slip my tired toes into, as well as a glittery accoutrement of some sort to dazzle my ears or my neckline. Is this beginning to sound Cinderalla – ish?

All clean and scented, I dried and curled my hair in that ‘pouf of a do” that was popular in the Dallas decade of fashion. Our daughters, so young, marched in and out with questions and pleas and the sort of interruptions that youngsters are apt to bring when mothers are in their own frenzied moments. Finally, all gussied up, I sprayed my locks in place and went to our room to get dressed.

I did wonder an aside to myself about why the hair spray had a different fragrance – and why my hair was still a bit wet.

I wondered, but carried on, all dressed up with somewhere to go, when Tom came in, holding a spray can, wondering, innocently, aloud “Was someone using this?”.

He saw the look of panic on my face, the unnatural sheen on my crown of flagging curls, and smelled the encroaching scent of a stable.

With no time to lose, we needed to get out the door, for we were bringing appetizers. Near tears, I thought of employing the hair drier, but, really, would my hair dry or catch on fire? I determinedly combed down my mane, now sleek and shiny, and out the door we trotted.

My friends, I smelled like a manger. My hair shone like never before. I glowed.

While no one cared to sit next to me, they relished the tale as I told it. Tom kept his distance, knowing he would have to take his old mare home, hoping she wasn’t combustible. As we all ate and imbibed and participated in the gift grab bag game, a few women quietly queried where they could buy Tan Your Hide* – which was originally purchased to clean a leather purse, but, ended up not on some hide but in my hair. Really, friends, this is how fast celebrity status happens.

Antler Man and My Pretty Pony on a carpet of snow.

So, dear ones, as I turn my back on 2014, it is with the wishes of a happy and healthy New Year to you, and that may you always find a reason to laugh.

*(Tan Your Hide was an aerosol product used for cleaning leather products.)

Unknown

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shoppingMy earliest childhood memories are muted in black and white with my cousin Ted nearby. He was a constant playmate in the large brick two-flat in which our family lived. The house on Congress Street was filled with family; aunts and uncles and cousins, my parents and sister, and my Yia Yia.  The photos are many of Teddy and Penny with Christmas presents, sitting on Santa’s lap at Marshall Field’s, and some with a Christmas tree in the background.

There are stories, too, of Christmases past, especially the one where my dad conjured up Santa Clause talking to Teddy and me through the heating ducts.  “Penny. Teddy.” the voice boomed.  “Have you been good?“, our toddler heads pumping yes up and down like bobble headed dolls. The masterful storytellers that wove the stories year after year are now long gone, but the tales, they linger on.

That magical junction where Christmas memories become my own merge in our small house on Harrison Street in Maywood. The lively cast of characters still played their roles, but, in separate houses next to each other, with my Yia Yia living in our house.

The magic of Christmas began in the early morning under the same Congress Street Christmas tree, which followed us to the suburbs. The tree has a story of her own that I will tell one day.

On Christmas morn, at the foot of tree, were two felt stockings, their toes rounded and plump with an orange in each toe; one stocking for my sister and one for me. Inside the stockings were trinkets befitting young girls of the 1950’s; a necklace or bracelet, a candy cane, a toy. My stocking was decorated in pink with a ballerina appliqué on it; proof that Santa has a sense of humor.

It did not really matter to me what my stocking held. What mattered was that the stocking appeared each year – and that it was filled to bulging with a fragrant orange.  We had those stockings every Christmas Day in the morning throughout my childhood. As we grew older, the stockings were filled with other small treasures, evolving as we did, until they held such things as lip gloss and oval, plastic eggs holding Legg’s pantyhose.

What I remember the most, however, are the oranges and it is oranges (or tangerines or Clementines these days that evoke Christmas memories in me.

Ma gave each of us our Christmas stockings to keep when we were on our own. When Tom and I married, I bought us new, matching stockings that we would fill for each other. How fun it would be to come home from work or awake in the morning to find our stockings a little fuller as the days until Christmas neared. What could that little wrapped box mean? or that odd shaped tissue paper lump?

When our children came along, they each had a stocking of their own, which, each in their turn was filled as well. When they became engaged, a Christmas stocking appeared for each of our then future sons-in-law, and those stockings followed each couple into their own marriages.

The constant in my Christmas stocking(s) has always been an orange; with its taste and scent and nostalgia. Besides, how else does that toe in the stocking become full?

Addition to post:  Teddy and Penny on Santa’s lap in Marshall Fields. dscn6409

There is a heartwarming and sensitive movie; which is sometimes sad and harsh,  but always hopeful, called Christmas Oranges.  Have you seen it?

 

 

 

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