Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year wishes

May the music of God's love resound through your life in the coming year!

Happy New Year from our house to yours!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Delightfully free on a Thursday

Today is Thursday of Christmas week -- I've been off for an entire week now.

So, it is 8:30 in the morning.

I am still in my pjs.

The puppy is asleep at my feet (his favorite place to nap, no matter where I am).

I haven't accomplished a whole lot this week, other than to do some organization of my craft room and to clean the house with more than just the customary "lick and a promise."

I have thoroughly enjoyed the time off.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve -- party time!

Saturday is recovery and football games.

As if all of that were not exciting enough for you, know this: pictures are forthcoming (of the party, not the recovery -- and maybe a few of the rapidly growing puppy!).

- Catherine

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day 2010

I have a daughter living in Canada, and today is Boxing Day there (as it is the UK). She and her fiance and their family all got up at the crack of dawn and went shopping. With mega coupons for Michael's Craft Store in Whitby, Ontario, Abbi came away with some really nice scrapbooking supplies to keep her going for a while.

I, south of the U.S.-Canada border, hibernated.

In my sweats and slippers.

Okay, I went to church first. I led the worship team. I sang and I played. The band rocked the house and the kids' Christmas presentation was adorable.

I hugged everyone and then I came home and parked myself in front of a football game

During the first part of the game, I actually napped in my chair in front of the TV.  I am so incredibly tired from the last few days that I can hardly keep my eyes open -- the parties and gatherings were great, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, but exhaustion was imminent, so the nap was really the only thing I could do.

Even with the NSF talking heads blathering on at great length about nothing, I slept.

(As an aside: obviously I am in the wrong line of work -- I could natter on about nothing, too, if someone would pay me a six or seven figure income for it!)

Tim and Doug went to a movie around 2:30 so I treated myself to a chick flick (Leap Year) and a glass of huckleberry wine in the family room.

And now, the end of Boxing Day has arrived.

And I am going to bed.

Looking forward to an entire week off!

- Catherine

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010

It's Christmas Eve, a night that I have always found magical -- even after I stopped believing in Santa Claus -- even after I became Santa Claus -- even now that Santa doesn't visit our house any longer.

I love a room that is lit by a Christmas tree, don't you?

I'll never forget the moment that Christmas became more than a favorite holiday and instead became a time to truly celebrate our Lord's birth on this earth. Christmas remains my favorite holiday, but there is so much more to it than just warm and fuzzy family times, more than just memories.

Our Lord and Savior was born in a cruddy stable that was probably loaded with manure everywhere you looked. The lowliest of the low, in human status. He wasn't born in December (as much as I love Christina Rosettie's "In the Bleak Midwinter" -- it ain't true). He was born in the springtime (else why would there have been sheep out in Boaz's fields?).

But I'm content to celebrate his birth at this time of year, knowing that the celebration of His resurrection will also come around in due time.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care.
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

By His birth, sacrifice and resurrection, He has fitted us for Heaven.

Blessing on all this Christmastide!

- Catherine

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Morning hymn

There's a slick mixture of snow and slush on the ground this morning. The trees and the eaves are dripping steadily. The horses in the pasture make not a sound as they walk along, looking ghostly in the morning half-light. With the series of Pacific storms making their way up from California, we are as sodden as we can be. It's more like April than December.

But tomorrow night we begin the celebration of Christ's birth and all that it meant to humankind and all that it does mean still.

And all that it will mean.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, yet wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

So let the trees drip. I'm warm inside, where Christ lives.

- Catherine

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions. We go to early church service and then come back to our house with extended family to exchange a few gifts, eat a few snacks, and watch A Christmas Story. (You'll shoot your eye out!)

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here).  Hmmmm . . . most thought provoking was "The Divine Commodity" by Skye Jethani. Really makes you think about how the consumer mindset has invaded even the way we approach our Christian faith. Too many of us are looking to be spiritually fed by good preaching and perfect fellowship, rather than looking to serve God where He, in His divine wisdom, places us.

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture? We have two dogs and we allow them on some pieces of furniture (but not all).

4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?  Purchasing and moving into our new home. (See my blog posts ad nauseum on that one!)

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? I took up the sport of racquetball, fell in love with it, and lost 30 pounds having the time of my life with it! (See my blog posts ad nauseum on that one too.)

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe? Fresh Brussels Sprouts sauteed with garlic are some of my very best-est vegetable friends. Frozen Brussels Sprouts, on the other hand, are vile foes.

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year? I think I would nominate my friend Carin and her husband Jeff. They lost their young son to neuroblastoma a couple of years ago, and they have since channeled their grief into a establishing a Foundation that will fund cancer research (specifically for childrens' cancers). See The Ben Towne Foundation for more details.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, our new house is the coziest and most homey place I have lived in since I was a child. Truth!

If you'd like to play along, answer the questions on your own blog post and then link up over at Joyce's (use the button at the top of this post for the link).  Joyce is taking a break next week, so the weekly Hodgepodge will return in the new year.

- Catherine

Monday, December 20, 2010

The countdown begins

It's Monday, and just five days left for me to get ready for Christmas.

As I write this, the dogs are wrestling all over the house, moving from room to room, growling and chewing on each other. They've been at it since they got up this morning and I am wishing they had a little less energy, I must say! I thought six-year old Hank would be a bit more circumspect in his conduct, but nooooo . . . he enters into the fray with glee.

The weather continues gloomy, but that cannot deter this devoted wife, mother and friend from her appointed rounds as the countdown ticks on.

Said rounds will commence once hubby returns home with my car. In the meantime, I am working.

Update on the weekend: the dining room and the bedroom are discernible spaces now. Another ten boxes were unpacked and cleared away, so I don't have to go out and slit my wrists after all.  In fact, both rooms are completely box-free, although neither room is actually completely set up and straight yet.

We came home yesterday to discover that a mare we'd quarantined away from the other horses (because she's new to the herd) had been liberated by the Equine Gang of Six somehow. Must have been a real rodeo because the lodge poles were kicked down, the front of the feeding area was kicked in, and the electric fence was snapped in two places. This happened while we were at church, so we really are not sure which of the Gang of Six started it. Such is life on the farm.

Oh, and we had near record precipitation yesterday, mostly in the form of rain. So we now have record amounts of mud everywhere. A brown Christmas for sure!

And that's the beginning of the countdown week!

- Catherine

Friday, December 17, 2010

Of puppies and unpacking.

My life has been so one-track lately that it's totally boring to write about. Yes, Charlie is cute. Yes, he makes me laugh. But house-training is still not in his grasp (to be fair, he is only just about seven weeks old at this point in time). And so when I was driving down the road yesterday and saw a wet spot on the pavement, my very first, instantaneous thought was . . . that Charlie had peed in the wrong place again.


The wet spot on the pavement was a good 1/2 mile away from my home.

And all I could do was think about the puppy peeing.

I need a life.

Apropos of  nothing above, I've planned a total blitz of unpacking this weekend. The bedroom and the dining room will be settled or I shall slit my wrists out in the horse pasture where no one can see the blood.

Okay, that's a little strong. But the unpacking WILL take place.

Or else.

Have a great weekend!

- Catherine

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another weather-related post, plus some pics of the pups

The spate of warm weather seems to be over. Today the high was about 32 degrees, and tomorrow's is forecast for just 21 degrees. A big change from the 40s and 50s we've had for the last week or so. I won't be sorry to see the mud go away, that's for sure.

There was a fair amount of sunshine today, so when the dogs went out for one of their wrestling matches, I got out my camera.

Here is Charley-o at six weeks old:

He's become pretty good at holding his own when he and Hank are playing:

But occasionally he ends up getting bowled over while Hank reminds him to mind his manners when playing with an older dog:

They still end up friends when it's over:

- Catherine

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday


1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?  It means to realize that our hope rests on the tiny baby whose birth we celebrate this time of year. Without Jesus, the holidays mean nothing.

2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why?  Nothing this year.  I have a very elegant glass and gold tree topper, but it's too heavy for the new tree. So there is nothing there, and quite frankly, it looks great!

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? When I scored a good drop shot while playing racquetball this afternoon.  Ye-es!!

4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year? The five classic senses of taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch? or are we being more figurative, such as sense of responsibility or sense of entitlement?  Okay, I'll be serious.  The most sensitive sense this time of year is definitely my nose. I smell the warm and wonderful holiday scents and I am instantly a child again!

5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen? Dogs. There are now two dogs underfoot where there used to be none. Because when Hank was an only dog, the only time he got underfoot is when I was cooking chicken. Now the puppy, Charley, is underfoot because, well, he's a puppy. And Hank needs to see what Charley is doing. So there are two dogs tripping me up at any given moment.

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it? Christmas Eve -- we have snacks after evening church and we watch A Christmas Story with whomever among the family can come over. Christmas Day morning is brunch with extended family -- waffles and ice cream (and scrambled eggs for those of us who really do want to be at least a little bit healthy).  Christmas afternoon varies, depending on what year it is. This year I'm having a buffet for our own family and we'll exchange gifts with the kids and grandkids.

7. What is the best thing about winter? The Christmas holiday season. After that, it's all downhill for me (and I don't mean skiing!).

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, the way that dogs play together is sometimes very disturbing -- all the growling and chewing and barking and all . . .  

Thanks again, Joyce, for hosting the weekly meme. If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and then link up at Joyce's blog (see the button at the top of this post for the link to Joyce).

- Catherine

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If it's Tuesday, it must be raining . . . or snowing . . . or cloudy

For the better part of three weeks now we have had either snow, rain or clouds.  Sunshine has been in very, very short supply.

The temperatures have risen above freezing, thus all the snow that we got around Thanksgiving has melted. But it has nowhere to go, so there are ponds and lakes everywhere you look. (We're way beyond puddles, folks.)

The pasture is starting to look like the battlefields of France.

I've steam mopped my kitchen floor every day for the last two weeks because it is impossible to keep the muck out, even with the required "take off your shoes at the door!"

The puppy is slow to house-train and there have been many accidents, all of which require spot cleaning.

My life is a daily grind of puppy-sitting and steam mopping.

Last night Number 6 came over to visit and I made stuffed butternut squash for our dinner.

It was, by far, the best part of my day.

- Catherine

Friday, December 10, 2010

December randomness

Inspired by my cousin, Karen, who has a new camera and cannot stop taking pictures (God bless her, and she's so darn good at it!), I dug out my DSLR (which is nowhere near as fancy as Karen's) and took some shots. 

This is Charley-o at six weeks. In a calm moment on the kitchen floor. Not to be confused with the frenzy of first waking up in the morning and clinging to my pajama leg by his teeth as I walk across the kitchen floor. (I don't think I'm going to take a picture of that moment).

Here's another moment of calm.

The farm is so muddy that you could organize a mud-wrestling tournament in the pasture. The horses have certainly given it their best shot:

And finally, here are random shots of my Christmas Tree -- the one I scored at Home Depot early on Black Friday -- the one that cost me only $49 and came pre-lit and already decorated with berries and pinecones. I added the birds and the ornaments.

I love these cardinals. I dearly miss seeing cardinals in the fir trees during the winter -- we don't have cardinals in the Intermountain West.  But I found these little beauties at JoAnn's Fabric Store and I snapped up a dozen of them.

Hope your weekend is merry and bright!

- Catherine
PS -- yes, I know this is my second blog post for today, but the first was a lot of whining. So here I am again with something fun!

Oh, the mud and the muck

I will not gross you out with pictures today.

But there are muddy pups.

Muddy horses.

Muddy boots.

A muddy driveway (with lingering icy spots just to make the trek to the mailbox interesting).

And muddy footprints.

And when I say "muddy" I mean seriously mucky and disgusting.


I thought we'd have to wait for spring for this kind of muck, but it seems Mother Nature wanted to hurry it up!

Have a fun weekend!  I'll be the one endlessly mopping the floors.

- Catherine

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Worth repeating

I'm a little cranky today because once again we are up against a situation where grace is completely absent.
So, to repeat a little bit of yesterday's post: 
This is our family's manifesto. This is how we run our home and it's how we try to run our lives. And we do it by the very grace that our Father extends to each one of us (even though we fail):
In this home, we do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do mistakes.
We do I’m sorrys.
We do loud really well.
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.
To go further today:
The reason that this is so important to us and the reason that I wanted to repeat this saying one more time is simple: 1 Corinthians 13. 
God is love and all of our love as humans comes from God. (1 John 4: 7-8)
Love does not keep count of wrongs (Psalm 103:12).  Not even when we're trying to teach our children right from wrong. We don't keep count and continue throwing the wrongdoing back in their faces long after the incident should have been closed. (That's what is meant when scripture says that we are not to provoke our children to wrath.)

God is love. Through the Cross, which fulfilled the unfulfillable Law once and for all, God gives us everlasting mercy and grace (unmerited). 
Who are we to do anything differently?

- Catherine

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. Have you ever been on a real sleigh ride? How about the warm weather version - a carriage ride?  I’ve been on a carriage ride in Hamilton, Bermuda, and on a hay ride (in a farm wagon) in New Jersey, but I’ve never been on a real sleigh ride.

2. What's your policy on 'chain mail' know, the emails you receive that are often some sort of poem/blessing/good wish that ask you to send it on to 10 or 12 friends? Do you delete without opening, read and trash, read and trash and then worry you won't be blessed/lucky/protected? Do you delete the sender from your contacts or just go ahead and send the love onward?  I generally read it once and then immediately delete it without sending it to anyone else. If I like the poem or the sentiment or whatever, I might send it on AFTER I’ve deleted the section about “send this to 457 friends in the next 5 ½ minutes . . .”

3. Who is your favorite character in any of the Christmas movies and why?  Randy, the younger of the two brothers in a Christmas Story. He refuses to eat, he sits in a cupboard and mopes, and he whines hilariously.  He spins Ralphie's name into something like three syllables when he whines, "Ra-al-phieeeeeeeee!!!"  He makes me laugh every year when we watch the movie!  (And the part where he falls down in his too-small snowsuit and can't get up is one of the funniest scenes in any movie, ever.)

4. Share a favorite quote.  This is on a plaque in our house and it’s become our home’s manifesto:

In this home, we do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do mistakes.
We do I’m sorrys.
We do loud really well.
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.

I wish I knew who had written it, but there is no attribution. I purchased the plaque at the local Hallmark store several years ago.

5. What's your favorite holiday scent? Balsam!!

6. Does the Christmas season stress you out? In what way?  Mostly, I love the Christmas season so much that I don't get stressed out about any of it. (Although if I'm tardy with the package wrapping process, that can get my blood pressure up a little as I try to get it done before the big day.)

7. What's the best thing about your life right now?  Sharing life with my family in our new home.

8. Insert your own random thought here. Puppies are exhausting! We have a 6-week old pup and he’s wearing me out! Thankfully, our older dog is finally willing to play with him, so the puppy gets tired during their wrestling matches. And then he goes back in his kennel to sleep for a while and I get some much-needed peace.

Charley-o on 11/30/2010

Thanks, Joyce, for hosting the weekly meme. If you want to play along, blog your own answers and use the button above to get to Joyce's blog for the link-up.

- Catherine

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How I spent my Saturday

I got up this morning and my hubby asked me what I intended to do today.

Well, duh!

Honey, have you seen all the boxes still to be unpacked???

I kept my sarcasm to myself and told him I was concentrating on the living room today. Hubby decided to join me.

And this was the result.

I love, love, LOVE our new home!!

- Catherine

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another ordeal survived

I went to the dentist today for my six month cleaning and check-up.

This time it really was only a six month interval between check-ups. Last time it had been three years. Prior to that one it had been more than three.

I'm sure you've figured out by now that I loathe going to the dentist.  I'm a terrible patient and I hate people touching my teeth for any reason.

So, I'm really grateful for nitrous oxide.

And a flat screen TV on the ceiling.

And a hygienist who cares about my comfort.

And doesn't skimp on the nitrous.

She congratulated me at the end of the appointment for standing up to all the work she'd done today on my teeth.

Lady, that was not me being brave one bit.

I was flyin'!

After the appointment I spent 20 minutes browsing at Tuesday Morning before driving home.

It was necessary.

Next time I might bring a designated driver.

- Catherine

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday

1. What is the most interesting thing you've done in the last year?  Just one [she whined]????  Holy moly! I've done some wonderful things this year, including watching the process of God bringing us into this new home. From start to finish, He orchestrated every detail, and it was very fascinating to watch!

2. What is your most meaningful family heirloom?  I have a lot of family heirlooms since I am a keeper of family history. I own an old family Bible from my mother's side. I own a wrought iron, tile-topped table from my paternal grandfather (he got the tiles in Bavaria after WWII). I own an autograph book from my paternal great-grandmother (she was about 15 when she received it). All of them - and many, many more -- are meaningful. I think, though, I will say that what is most meaningful during this time of my life is my great-grandmother's wedding ring, handed down to me from my mother.  It is engraved on the inside with the date and my great-grandparents' initials. My mother treasured it and so do I.

3. What food festival would you most like to attend? If you're not sure click here to see a list of possibilities.  Wow! There are a lot of possibilities!  I think since I'm very curious to visit the Channel Islands, I'd probably choose Tennerfest.

4. you love it or is it considered a four letter word where you live?  I love it until about mid-January. After that it is a four letter word served up with other unprintable adjectives.

5. Can you ski? Do you ski? Are you any good? I can ski but I don't enjoy it (consequently, I'm not any good).  I prefer cross country skiing to downhill any day.

6. What quality in your spouse or best friend are you most thankful for?  In my spouse, I am most thankful for his tenacity. He quite literally never gives up. I love him for that, because there are times when I'd be willing to throw in the towel on something and he will find a way to make it work. In my best friend (I know you said "or" but I love both of them!), it's her absolute loyalty.

7. Describe the coziest spot in your home.  In our old house it was the family room, by the fire. In the new house, I'm still deciding, but I really like our little TV room with the rug from Iraq and the new laz-y-boy loveseat.

8. Insert your own random thought here.  We have a new home which I just love! I feel completely at home -- in fact, I feel as though I have come home. The sequence of events that led us to this point is amazing and totally God. I am so very, very thankful!

Thanks to Joyce for hosting the weekly! 

- Catherine

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We're in!

We did it!

By the end of Thanksgiving weekend we were living in our new home. We moved in right between two major snowstorms, but we made it!

I can't take pictures inside the house yet because we are unpacking and there are still a lot of boxes in every single room.

I will give you this one, though -- it's our barn. Tim is threatening to replace this rather old and amazing door but I am lobbying hard to keep it. I think it adds a lot of charm to the place! (So what if we can't actually open it???)

- Catherine

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

In America, today is Thanksgiving. What was once a one-day event (officially instituted by Abraham Lincoln)  has turned into a mega-weekend of eating followed by more eating, then shopping and probably some decorating for Christmas. 

I'm concentrating on Thanksgiving and the meaning of the day, and I'm going to let the rest of the weekend take care of itself.

I'm thankful for love, the source of which is our Creator and Redeemer, God Almighty.

I'm thankful for family, the earthly connections that ground us.

I'm thankful for friendship and the balm of knowing whom you can count on.

I'm thankful for laughter and the medicine it provides for the soul.

I'm thankful for tears and their healing power.

I'm thankful for freedom and those who ensure it every day with their service to our country.

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Catherine

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mother Nature loses this round

The Great Moving Blitz has begun!

On Saturday it began snowing. By 10:00 a.m. I'd changed from my sneakers into my snow boots.

We started moving anyway.

The new sofa and loveseat were delivered.

In the snow.

We brought over some of the smaller pieces of our furniture plus the living room rug.

In the snow.

Number 7 flexed his teenage muscles (which are quite powerful) to lift heavy items while also finding time to roam with the dog around the new property.

In the snow. 

(I made them come in the back door afterward.)

My office was transferred from one house to the other.

In the snow.

I had a conversation over the back fence with our new neighbor.

In the snow.

Today is Monday -- Mr. Satellite TV is coming this afternoon at 2:00 to move our service.

He'll be arriving in the snow.

I must admit the fir trees out front are quite pretty.

As of last night, there was a discernible seating area in the living room.

The old rug looks like it was made for the new house and our other (old) pieces look wonderful and fit right in too. I'm so excited I hardly slept last night. By the end of the holiday weekend, despite stuffing our faces with turkey and trimmings, we will be living full time in our new home.

I am so thankful, I cannot describe it. I loved this place from the moment we laid eyes on it, and beyond my expectations it has become my dream home. I've lived in many different houses in my life, and have loved most of them very well, but this place surpasses all. It's like this house was waiting for us.

 - Catherine
PS -- hubby is already planning the chicken coop he intends to build next spring. Horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and one murdering parrot fish. It will be quite the menagerie on our little farm!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On hold -- and not on hold.

Well, we're getting ready to move. Finally!  The wood floors are done, the carpets are clean, the paint is dry, and the beds are in the bedrooms.
The schedule?

Just keep moving until we're done.

No, we actually have something more specific in mind.  This weekend we move everything we can in boxes. Next Friday -- Black Friday -- we move the big items (hopefully with a little help from our friends). By the end of Thanksgiving weekend we will be done.

We will.

Or heads will roll.

The satellite TV guys are coming on Monday to switch our service to the new house.

As I write this, I have been trying to negotiate a moving date with the cable company (internet and phone) for the last 45 minutes. I am on hold. For the umpteenth time.

The first time I called, I discovered that there was an option to "hold without hearing further messages."

"How refreshing!" I thought.

Then I found out that "holding without hearing further messages" means that they hang up on you.

So when I called back, I didn't pick that option. And I ended up hearing some kind of 1960s-style happy music for the next 20 minutes. Then when I finally did get someone, they had to transfer me. Another hold and happy music.  Then when I got someone else, he took down my information and then put me back on hold for another 15 minutes while he set up the appointment.  More happy music.

I think he must have been doing something else during that 15 minutes.

And now, voila! I have a date for the cable change -- nine (!) days from now. The earliest they can come is Saturday, the 27th.

Maybe it's time to switch service providers . . .

- Catherine

Update of #8

In yesterday's Hodgepodge, at #8 where we are asked to write something random, I noted that my Mp3 player had died inexplicably. 

This morning it resurrected itself inexplicably.

The agoraphobic catfish is still dead though. The parrot fish looks smug so it might have been murder. Either that or starvation because the poor cat fish didn't ever want to venture out of his little cave -- I blame the parrot fish for that too.

I think he's a bully fish, when all is said and done.

- Catherine

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday


Thank you to our weekly hostess, Joyce, over at from this side of the pond!

1. What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?  Well, I once drove through a hailstorm so bad that I thought my windshield was going to crack.  I’ve never seen anything like it!! It wasn’t pleasant, but it certainly was amazing to have hail that large and strong.

2. What is a sound or noise you love?  I love to wake up to the sound of a steady rain coming down. We have so little of that kind of rain in Idaho. I also love the sound of a Mourning Dove on a summer morning.

3. Do you like seafood? What's your favorite seafood dish?  I grew up at the Jersey Shore – I love, love, LOVE seafood, and one of my fond memories from childhood is going to the seafood market down at the docks with my Dad.  My current fave is Chilean Sea Bass. But I have lots of faves, depending on where I am in the world.

4. What part of your day requires the most patience?  Hmmm . . . that’s a tough one! I’d say that late afternoon at work requires the most patience because I am already thinking about cooking dinner and what we will be doing that evening.  It's hard to stay on task at that point!

5. What's your favorite shade of blue?  I don’t have a favorite shade of blue. It depends on whether I’m wearing it or using it as a decoration, I guess.

6. Do people underestimate you?  I would say they probably don’t. I’d say that “overestimate” would be more like it.

7. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?  Singing for the Pink Tea fundraiser last month.

8. Insert your own random thought here:  My mp3 player inexplicably died on me yesterday. So did the agoraphobic catfish in our aquarium.  Coincidence?  Or conspiracy? You decide . . .

- Catherine

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just to give you something to look at

I've been in Canada this weekend, visiting my daughter (Number 4), her fiance (Number 4.5-to-be) and his family.  4.5-to-be's family live in one of the Toronto 'burbs, in a lovely house on a quiet street. They have been perfect hosts and it's been a terrific visit.

Because this is my first trip to the area, we spent the better part of one day of my visit in the city of Toronto, walking around, seeing the Christmas decorations, and drinking coffee from "Timmy's." (That's Tim Horton's for those of you non-Canadians).

Here is my favorite (favourite) picture from that day.

More to come!

- Catherine

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adventures in Semantics

If the adjective is "nifty," then why isn't there a word "nift?"

Just wondering.

- Catherine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hodgepodge -- the NEW Wednesday meme!

1. Do you think you're more like your mom or your dad?  It’s not clear that I am more like one or the other. I can see traits of both.  I certainly do not look like my mother’s side of the family – I am very much my father’s daughter, physically. (So much so that people would look at us strangely when my mother introduced me as her daughter.)  But I think I am just about equally both sides of my family in personality and emotional makeup.

2. Do you like roller coasters?  No. Here's the deal: I’m okay on the climb. I’m okay on the drop. It’s that first curve after the drop that I find so excruciatingly unpleasant. And all the curves thereafter. 

3. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you'd thought about it maybe another five minutes before you hit publish?  Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? (French makes everything sound a little nicer doesn't it?)    

That's a lot of questions!

I named my blog "Time and Tide" after the fictional publication for which The Provincial Lady writes. The first two volumes in The Provincial Lady series are total hoots if you are into British humor. They were written in the 1930s, by the way.

I don’t think the blog title is hard to change in Blogger, actually. But I wouldn't want to change mine anyway. I like it because it is reminiscent of the shore, where I grew up. And because, after all, Time and Tide wait for no one. 

4. What is the best wedding gift you received? Not married? Didn't get any gifts? Then what is the best wedding gift you've given?  The best wedding gift I received – I can’t think. It was 10 years ago. And 30+ years ago. (I've been married more than once.) I do remember the best shower gift from 10 years ago because I'm still wearing it. It's a heavy fleece bathrobe, completely disreputable-looking after 10 years of being dragged around the house all winter, every winter.  But it’s the warmest thing on the planet, I swear, and I will NEVER give it up.  (Thanks, Kit!)

5. What is the one bill you most hate to pay?  Medical -- after the insurance company has graciously agreed to pay 80% of only the amount they actually allow per item on the bill.  Sheesh!

6. Is the glass half full or half empty?  To be fair and balanced in my outlook . . . it depends.

7. What is your favorite word? Okay okay. Calm down. How about one of your favorite wordsEtymologically speaking, one of my favorite words is “serendipity.” To me it sounds happy. To me it sounds exactly like what it means.

8. Now, this is where you insert one random thought of your own...maybe something that struck you as funny, something that recently had you scratching your head in confusion, something that annoyed you a teensy bit, something on your to do list, something you are looking forward to, whatever. As long as it is in keeping with the friendly tone we've all come to know and love on Wednesdays then we're good. Don't make me get out my wooden spoon.

Why must calcium tablets be so incredibly large? I can barely get one down at a time!

If you, dear reader, want to play along, all you have to do is answer the questions on your own blog and go to Joyce's blog to link up (click on the Hodgepodge button at the top). Be sure to also use the Mr. Linky to read the blogs of others and leave a comment or two -- this is how we have our online coffee klatch. And you may meet new friends (that's how I met Joyce, after all)!

Thanks, Joyce!  I love this new meme!   

- Catherine

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Huckleberry Friend

Moon river, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style
One day.
Old dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin'
I'm goin' your way.

Two drifters off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end,
Waitin' round the bend,
My huckleberry friend,
Moon river
And me.
 -- lyrics by Johnny Mercer

I'm sure many of you are already humming along to this very popular song from the 1960s. The lyrics don't make a lot of sense, but the dreamy quality of both the words and the music make it a very lovely song.

I hadn't heard it in in probably a decade or more until tonight, when it came over the speaker system at Barnes and Noble.

My mother loved Moon River when it first came out in 1962. She purchased the sheet music -- both the movie version and, later, Henry Mancini's stylized arrangement for the piano. She sang it all the time. She played it all the time. This song is actually one of my earliest memories -- listening and watching as my mother practiced and practiced and practiced the music. (Mancini's piano arrangement contains a wickedly difficult last verse.)

When Moon River invaded my peaceful browsing at Barnes and Noble tonight I had an instant visceral reaction. Unexpected grief boiled up to the surface. It was hard to breathe. It was harder still to keep the tears in check. In that nanosecond, I was transported back to our tiny, pine paneled living room, my young and beautiful mother at the spinet piano, singing in her clear alto.

Such small moments on the journey.

- Catherine

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm scratching my head

I'm at a conference, which will be ending tomorrow.

A couple of things have made me scratch my head in the last few days:

This conference offers the usual presentations and also features small discussion groups that are held around conference tables in small rooms. 

Which I try to avoid because I am . . . An Introvert.

Imagine my amusement when I saw on the schedule a small group discussion session entitled For Introverts Working In an Extroverted World.  I wonder if anyone actually went to the session.

I just saw a commercial on TV for an asthma medication -- a systemic med that is supposed to keep asthma under control. The "small print" part of the commercial subsequently states that this particular medication can increase the risk of death from an asthma attack. 


- Catherine

Monday, November 1, 2010

One Year

Exactly one year ago today I said goodbye to my mother's life on this earth.  Luella Leeming Schanck Ohl was a complex woman with impressive strengths that made her unique.  She became one of my dearest friends in all the world. I miss her humor, her intelligence, her drive and yes, even her shortcomings and fears. They made her so human.

Mom was pretty much comatose on the last day of her life. She didn't open her eyes once all day and she didn't move a muscle all afternoon -- except once. I was sitting quietly with her, talking about how easy the transition would be when Jesus came to take her home, and how I would miss her so much. She stirred gently at the sound of my voice and then reached out her arms for me. It's a memory I will always treasure. Four hours later she breathed her last.

One year.

A year of difficult "firsts" and a year of grace and blessings in disguise.

- Catherine

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making progress, thank you!

We are just about a month away from the final move! Tim has worked tirelessly, and I've been packing and moving things whenever I can. (The family room is completely full of mattresses, boxes, lamps, etc. --- all awaiting placement.)

Here's the before picture of the living room:

And below is the progress. As you can see, the old carpeting (which covered the entire floor) is gone, with hardwood taking its place.  The walls have been painted a fresh, creamy yellow, too.

Here's a shot of the living room from the other side:

Before, the bedrooms were pink, with pink carpeting:

While we can't afford to replace the carpeting just yet, we could certainly put a coat of paint on everything!

My kitchen is also freshly painted:

And see the false wall in the front of the house?

Well, 'tis gone!

Tim is pretty sure we'll be in by Thanksgiving (probably the weekend before). I'll be away for the next 2 1/2 weeks and can't wait to see what it all looks like when I get back!

- Catherine

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Dozen -- seasons changing

Our host, Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee, is ending the Random Dozen (questions) that she has been creating each week for quite a while now. I've enjoyed being part of this and have met some new blogger friends through the experience.

But seasons change. 

Lid is sending us off with just two, rather serious, questions:

1. What scares you the most

A) Physically
B) Emotionally

Why does it scare you, and how do you cope?

A. I'm afraid of sheer drops and I'm afraid of drowning. I don't cope well with the thought of either possibility, so I try not to get myself into a situation where either could happen. Oh, and I have a true phobia of snakes -- don't even go there with me!  Panic mode sets in and it is an unlovely sight.

B. Typical mom and wife that I am, I'm afraid of either my husband or one of my kids dying.  I don't know how I would cope. I have had a rough year since my mother died -- and while I HAVE coped, it's not the kind of thing where you learn by experience.  Each grieving situation is unique. Losing Tim or one of the kids would be far worse than losing my mother.

2. What comes to mind when you read the phrase, "Nothing gold can stay?"
That question is based on Robert Frost's poem:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

Some people have said they find this poem depressing, but to me it is just a recognition of how life rolls on. Some aspects of life are fragile, however treasured they may be. I would only add that even if something golden passes away from our lives, there are new golden things to come along, and sometimes the old gold even returns.

For a season.

Thank you, Lid, for making us think and giving us the opportunity to meet new friends!  It was a great season!  Hugs to you!

- Catherine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Season change

Fall arrived today with an in-your-face presence. Cold. Windy.

Really windy.

Especially when I was walking the dog in the dark this morning at 7:00 a.m.  (Because it is still dark here at 7 in the a.m.)

The wind coming off the west bench above town was, well, cruel, actually. I turned the corner into it and immediately turned my back for a moment in order to zip my (winter) jacket all the way to the top and pull my hood around my face. Happily I was already wearing gloves.

Hank Williams Jr. found it all very exhilarating, hurrying along our customary morning route with his tail held high and playing "gladiators" with the dog next door.  I'm sure if I'd been out with my horses, I would have found them frisking around the pasture.

The animals frisk in the wind.

I wasn't frisking.

I was "turtling" into my jacket and trying to figure out how soon I could be done with the dog's morning walk.

The leaves are all over the ground now. The sun came out this afternoon and had almost no warmth to it. 

I spent the day in my office, basking in the warmth of the nearby family room fire.  At lunchtime, I enjoyed a truly wonderful, sweet-tart, Idaho Red apple from the local Farmers Market -- the kind of apple that screams "Autumn!"  I also enjoyed the aroma of roasting chicken and simmering stock all through my house.

Fall.  I'm glad.

- Catherine

Friday, October 22, 2010

This and that on a cloudy Friday

It's Friday! I'm so glad the weekend is about to begin. It's been A Week in a number of ways.

So, to be completely random:

The burden of grief that I'd been coping with is gone; singing at the Pink Tea last weekend seems to have sent it into hibernation again (at least for now -- I'm not under any illusions about this process).

Something that's making me very nervous these days is the sight of my middle-aged, one-armed hubby up high on an extension ladder, scraping paint off the side of the house and caulking windows. Eeek!

Something exciting coming up is a Pacific Storm that is due to bring rain, high winds, and even some snow this weekend. There's a cold front behind it so temperatures next week will plummet. I've really enjoyed the beautiful fall weather that we've had for the last few weeks, but I'm a sucker for a little weather drama here and there (East Coast girl that I am).

My current cell phone is doing something very alarming -- literally -- because it sets off those lovely security alarms located at the doorways of most stores. Even when I enter the store, the phone sets off the alarm. Even if the phone is off it sets off the alarm. It is very annoying and, occasionally, embarrassing! Especially where the alarm includes an automated female voice booming store-wide, "Please return to the customer service desk!!!"  I'm trying to remember to leave my phone in the car.

Last night I think we solved the mystery of our aquarium's MIA algae eater -- we think the Parrot Fish ate him. I'll never look at the Parrot Fish in the same way again. How did he get the algae eater through that tiny mouth opening of his???  No wonder the catfish is agoraphobic!

Happy weekend to all!

- Catherine