Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing out the Old, Ringing in the New

. . . Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times:
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace. . .

From Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam

Wishing a very happy new year to all of you and your families!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of you the most wonderful of holidays with lots of great times with family and friends!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fall Reading Challenge

I posted here about the Fall Reading Challenge hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer Reads. During the time of the challenge, September 22 to December 20, I read 15 books. My local library holds a series of book discussions each spring and fall. Five books based upon a theme are chosen for each discussion series. This fall's books were about other cultures and they turned out to be the best reads of the season. Here are my top three books for the fall.

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kaila Yang tells the story of a young Hmong woman who immigrated from Thailand to Minnesota with her family. The book tells about the family's challenges in assimilating themselves into a new culture.

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder is one of those books everyone should read. Although I thought the story was sluggish in spots, I learned a lot about genocide in Africa. The central person in this story is a young man who was in medical school when the genocide began in a country I have never before heard of. It tells about the horrible ways one human can treat another and I was outraged that these things could happen.

The book I've been recommending to everyone is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. It's set mostly in Ethiopia, but also in New York. The book is a beautifully written story about family relationships and loyalties.

So there you have it--my fall reading report. Susan hasn't announced a winter challenge, but if/when she does, I'll be ready with my list. In the meantime, I'm indulging in a cozy mystery, Holiday Grind, by Cleo Coyle and hope to finish off the fifth Harry Potter book by the end of my winter break.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Magic of the Season

Two of my children arrived home from college last week. I've been looking forward to this winter break in particular as it will be the first time that no one has a homework assignment to be done over winter vacation. And, as unhappy as I am with my current job assignments, one of the perks is that I work in only one building and I find I rarely have to bring work home these days. This has allowed me to stay on top of the shopping, decorating, and baking for Christmas and I now have some free time on weekends. So do the kids as they are no longer busy with high school activities, so on Saturday we took the train into Philadelphia and indulged in an old tradition.

The photo is from the light show at Macy's in Center City. This is a long-standing Philadelphia holiday tradition and thousands of people gather each day in the Grand Court in what used to be (and will truly always be in my mind) Wanamaker's department store to take in the sight. The "magic tree" is the center of the show and it changes colors frequently throughout while the lights on the sides show the Nutcracker, Santa and his reindeer, a train and a parade of toys. It used to be narrated by a local newscaster who had a wonderful voice, but has been updated and is now narrated by Julie Andrews. I've seen it several times over the years and it's just delightful each time.

Before and after the show, we wandered through the Christmas/Holiday/Christmas Village around City Hall. I'm not sure if the controversy surrounding the name of the village made the national news, but it was quite a story around here for a few days. This is the second year for the Christmas Village which consists of a number of vendors selling upscale crafts and other wares, and is meant to show how Christmas is celebrated around the world. Well, people protested about the "Christmas" part and the name was to be changed to "Holiday Village." Then it was back to "Christmas Village." I don't think it accomplishes its purpose of showing Christmas in other parts of the world, and although it was fun to wander among the merchants, I don't see any need to return. It was a bonus to run into someone from work while we were there and to be able to introduce my son to her as he goes to her alma mater.

To cap off the afternoon, we went over to the Comcast Center to see the wall. This was my first opportunity to see the digitized images that are displayed on a wall in the lobby that is several stories high. There is a continual display throughout the year, as well as a special holiday show including a segment showing snowy woods where we felt as if we were actually on a sleigh. Just amazing technology and just as "magical" as the light show. What a treat to enjoy all this with my children!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I've spent the last few evenings sending out Christmas cards. Some years I print a "newsletter" and in others, I just include a handwritten note. This is a year when I'm doing a shorter, handwritten note, mainly because I just couldn't get it together to type up the longer letter. I have a long list of relatives to send to since my father came from a family of eleven. I've got a shorter list of high school and college friends and writing notes to them has caused a sort of mental exclamation mark.

Let me explain. I grew up in a very small town in Nebraska and went to a very small college near Omaha. The summer after I graduated from college, I got married and moved to Pennsylvania. First to the western part of the state and then shortly thereafter to the western suburbs of Philadelphia where I've lived for the past 35 years. So now when I'm writing to those Nebraska friends about my son in Brooklyn and my daughter in DC, I think about how my life has not been the way I imagined it would be when I was a teenager. Don't get me wrong--I love living near Philadelphia and having access to great restaurants, theaters and museums (not to mention living just three miles from the largest mall on the east coast), but it's just a different life than I thought I would have. I marvel that two of my three children are very comfortable finding their way around large cities and how they in turn have expanded my horizons.

So what about you? What "surprises" have you had in your life?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

Heidi is hosting Friday Night Sew-In two times this month. I'll be curled up under one of the quilts I'm binding. I got three of them back from the quilter on Sunday and need to have all of them done for Christmas morning. One is done and I've finished about half of another. With the cold weather we've been having, this is the perfect way to spend Friday night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stop the Insanity!

Have you all heard about this challenge starting in January? Robin, Anna, Coni, and Siobhan have either signed on or are thinking about doing this. 15 new projects in 15 days? No way, no how! OK, I'll admit that I did briefly entertain the idea of doing this (and yes, I am easily entertained). Robin's rationale really appealed to me and then there's the fact that I would get to make a new list of projects and I love lists. (Again, I was entertained by reading Anna's potential list of projects and being able to suggest revisions to it.) I certainly have 15 projects of a variety of sizes hanging out in storage tubs so this wouldn't involve buying any new stash. But those four ladies above actually finish projects. Me, um, not so much. Just take a look at my sidebar.

So here's my own personal Stop the Insanity Challenge for 2011. On January 1, I'll take out one of my WIPs, probably my oldest one, and stitch on it every day for 15 days. This might become a challenge I repeat every month and it might not. We'll see. Join me if you want. There won't be any real rules, just some progress toward finishing off all those projects.