"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cyber Cousins

Something unexpected and wonderful happened spontaneously tonight.
Gigi read a Christmas story book aloud.
It is a book that is about 35 years old that her Daddy
listened to when he was very small.
It's a scratch 'n sniff book that has been pretty much worn away from years 
of little fingers scratching on each page.
There is a faint aroma of pine, orange and peppermint
that still lingers a bit on several of the pages.  
Just barely.

But that's not the amazing thing.
As Gigi read the story, her loving Aunt Hillary listened.
We are so thrilled she is visiting from New Jersey.
But someone else listened to the treasured old book...

Little cousin Abigail!
Yes, our sweet 2 year old in Fairbanks, Alaska!
Holding the very same book in her lap,
this little tot listened intently to all Gigi read.
She nodded when asked questions and scratched at the pictures when told to.
Then her little blond head dropped down off the screen
 as she obediently sniffed at each picture, 
after which she remarked, "Ahhh!" to each one.
(I suspect she had a newer book that REALLY had the sweet smells 
of Christmas on its pages.)

 I sat in amazement watching these two 
dear little cousins interact as natural as could be.
Abigail, who just turned 2, sat still for 3 books.
Gigi, at the tail end of 7, happily read like a champ, patiently holding up the pages to the computer screen to show her young cousin the pictures.


There is a lot of controversy about the internet 
robbing us of personal relationships and face-to-face conversations.
I've even shared such complaints.
But this is one example of just the opposite!
4,000 miles melted into nothing tonight as these 2 little cousins sat on the same bed and enjoyed old story books about Christmas together.
For me, that's about as magical as things can get!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Arrival of Santa's Elves

The elves arrived!
I'd been waiting.
They played around for awhile first.

Entertained us with some Christmas carols.

Then put their creative energies into decorating
some rather oversized gingerbread men.
Right, I said "men" because they were too big to be boys.
The one poor guy wasn't baked without a leg, by the way.
It was a recent injury.

After a fashion they finally got dressed
and then to the task at hand.
Decorating the tree.
Wow!  They did a super job!

Of course this effort created some hearty appetites,
so we ate our meal beside the newly decorated tree.
(This was a tradition we did years gone by with our own children.)

For some reason pizza tastes better on the floor.
Especially by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.

These cute little elves agreed.
Jobs done, they packed up to head home to the North Pole,
or Austin, whichever came first.
We were left with a sparkling Christmas tree full of
ornaments, particularly the bottom half...
I do hope they come back soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Until the Twelfth of Never...


 Repeating digits in a date.
This will be the last time many of us will
ever have the chance to see such an event.
Hard to imagine, isn't it?
But, the next time this occurs it will be 
January first, thirty-thousand one.
01-01-3001 or

That is 89 years from now.  
I'm not even sure my grandchildren will be around on that date.
Sobering thought.
Like comets and solar eclipses
these are rare occurrences.
Like blue moons,
 kindred spirit friendship,
unconditional love,
perfect contentment,
and sweet dogs like Shoeless Joe.

We buried our friend yesterday.
He was not merely a rare occurrence,
he was one-of-a-kind.
The very best kind.
More about this beautiful soul another day,
my heart is too heavy to say much at this time.

Take a moment to think about the 
rare occurrences in your life today.
12-12-12 is almost over.
But each of us have the ability to make something
special and rare every day.
Sow random acts of kindness and love
without asking anything in return.
What you do this day may just be a rare occurrence to someone else that could impact a life.
You just never know.
Like that Johnny Mathis song sings,
"Until the twelfth of never...
and that's a long, long time."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Time to Tune up the Sleigh

I know I've lamented that the flowers still blooming outside my door don't seem to belong  when Christmas is only 15 days away.

However, there is one BIG change in our backyard friends
 that let me know the season is upon us. 
Our deer have turned a darker shade of brown and the bucks show up more often.

During the warmer months we mostly see the Mamas and spotted babies.

But those little spotted babies are now the color of their mothers, having lost those darling spots, and all blend in so well to the browned, dry grasses.
God's protective camouflage.
Can you spy the younger deer behind her Mama as they peered at me this morning?

Since November there has been a good deal of romancing going on out in our backyard.
I think it is all aimed at getting these strong bucks the exercise they need to pull that toy laden sleigh around in just about 2 weeks from now.
Cash and Gigi were examining the individual deer this past weekend, trying to decide which ones were Dasher or Dancer or Donner or....well, you know.
It was quite the discussion to overhear.
So tune up that sleigh, Santa.
 Oil the harnesses and polish the jingle bells.
These deer are getting ready for the big night!
No matter the lack of snow or the color of the leaves here in Texas, they know Christmas will soon be here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let the Season Begin

No matter the stores have been selling the holiday for weeks now, 
tonight officially began the Christmas season for me.
We attended the meditative and beautiful Candlelight Advent service 
at our local college, Southwestern University.
Advent is the season of anticipation and preparation leading up to Christmas Day.

The glorious mood I brought home afterwards made me turn on my lights and the fireplace, 
despite it being 60 degrees outside.  

 The annual Candlelight Service is held in the same chapel where it began in 1915, 
almost 100 years ago.
This program is based on a advent service developed in 1934 for the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, England.  Scripture readings intertwine with musical selections.
A Felix Mendelssohn prelude by violins, viola and cello hushed the awaiting crowd.
  In the college choir, the women are on one side facing the men the other, profiles to us in the pews. The chapel's amazing acoustics seem to take these pure and clear young voices and blend and lift them soaring high into the arched rafters then waft them outward toward all of us seated beyond, letting them swirl around each enthralled listener. Only a few of the selections included the organ with its walls of towering pipes; rather most of the songs were accapella,  moving our hearts with crystal clear harmonies. Many of the ancient numbers were in Latin which actually enhanced the sound since the words didn't distract.

At one point I closed my eyes and could easily imagine that the heavenly choir of angels that lit up the night sky above that hillside in Bethlehem might sound just like this.

We ended in darkness save the lights of each person's small candle as the choir members recessed down the aisle, faces bright in the small flickering lights.
We all joined them singing "Hark the Herald Angels".
Oh, that I could send just a taste of this lovely evening to you in this little blog.
Even Scrooge could not remain untouched after such a performance.