Christmas Letter 2014

Happy Boxing Day (2nd Day of Christmas) and may all be well with you and yours!

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I’m learning to live as a Human Be-ing and not so much a Human Do-ing . . . enjoying a “broad margin to my life” as stated by Thoreau. I’ve taken to calling the little pond near my house Walden Pond. I can see it well in winter because the leaves are gone, one of nature’s little trade-offs. Today it’s sparkling in the sunshine. A Y friend and I agreed that our doing less now is partly because home is so very comfortable. I cook more, using the veggies from my Terripin Farms CSA. I had a great Christmas Eve with storytelling friends. enjoying raclette while telling stories and laughing and generally having fun . . . and reading Green Eggs and Ham in Latin — who knew?

My comfortable little eco-home is a bit less quiet, as builders work to “complete the subdivision.” We knew it had to come, and it has brought some very nice new neighbors, but the wildlife will miss the empty lots. There is still common ground, what a friend called “decorative woods” (I hope it’s enough), and the process of building homes is quite fascinating to watch . . . our own Bob the Builder!  Their piles of left-over wood remind me of the scrap wood blocks my dad made and this story https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/santa-dreams-a-new-toy/

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A dozen or so favorite authors keep me happy by writing books I love. Students used to ask, “Is every author your favorite?” Here are just a few recent loves: Elaine Viets, Susan McBride, Louise Penney, Laurie King, *Hank Phillippi Ryan, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Margaret Maron, Nancy Martin, Brandon Mull . . . Edith Maxwell writes mysteries set on an organic farm much like this one

My wonderful library keeps me supplied with books and DVDs (all sorts of favorite shows from PBS, plus old favorites like Twilight Zone and Quantum Leap). Readers and Stitchers, book groups, and our monthly Second Monday Story Swap are all fun. I still knit apple baby hats for friends, and am currently making socks for myself with yarn from a shop called Hanks. I have to take more breaks to massage my “angry” thumbs, but it’s not a race.IMG_0114

Gateway Storytellers meets every other month, and I am in the process of handing over the newsletter responsibility to new officers in January. I’ve been doing it forever, and there should be more than one person able to carry on a task. Our Riverwinds friends meet in Illinois, and the Festival will continue, first weekend in May as it has for 30+ years.

The body requires maintenance to stay mobile. I teach tai chi twice a week, because Charlotte couldn’t keep doing it, and was very good about teaching me enough to be able to step up. I’ll be giving a short class at the New Year’s Day open house (free t-shirts and snacks for attendees). I don’t teach aqua aerobics anymore (a new rule about having to retrieve a ring from the bottom of the 5’ water which I couldn’t do), but I attend. Going over in a bit to do the old routine, which I’ve missed, with whoever shows up (no one, so I did it by myself; maybe more will be there Monday). There are no classes right now . . . doing our own thing is a good break in routine.

I used to mail holiday letters (closer to New Year’s because teaching was so all-consuming), then switched to mostly email, with only two friends needing paper copies. I’ve been neglecting email lately and do most of my (over?)sharing on “social media,”
sporadically on this blog
and daily on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mary.garrett.37604 plus a few videos
My videos on YouTube   one more video here

Lovely surprises: warm enough weather for a sunset walk. Then when I went out to open/close the mailbox so the paint wouldn’t stick it shut, I saw a beautiful moon! Also, in addition to finding the little auto-parts bird in the “Room of Requirement,” I also found my official Certificate of Credibility, issued after a student, denied some concession, told me that was “why you have no credibility with your students.” Colleagues, including Cindy Menkhus, Sherri Pogue, Donna Wallace, signed it, and then most of that class asked to also sign — take that, ornery student! Fun times remembered . .

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Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

P.S.

On the Third Day of Christmas, I just read in Deborah Crombie’s _A Share in Death_ “. . . your life isn’t trivial or inconsequential. If the things that matter to us every day weren’t important, no one’s death . . . would be much loss.” Good reminder to savor the ordinary!

Back from the library, having put the rest of my planned errands on the mañana list AKA “not today.” Rainy and a bit dreary I could handle, but the tires slipped a bit on the road and as Dad always said, “Watch out for those other drivers.” When Stephen Michael Hahn was small, the Parents as First Teachers visitor asked what one does on rainy days, with expected answer being wearing raincoats, boots, etc. He said, “Stay home.” She wasn’t allowed to give credit for that answer; I’m saying now he should have gotten extra credit (I’ve been called the Queen of Extra Credit), and that answer should have been added as the best possible answer. Think of how many problems would be prevented if people stayed home in treacherous weather . . . . Y’all stay safe! ❤
Post Office was on my list . . . postponed by rain. I mailed Christmas letters with Harry Potter stamps. Still don’t know what happened to the stamp order I posted two weeks ago.

P.P.S. (part of my response to a friend’s email)

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I’ll put in a photo of the little bird.  It was a gift from a worker when I went to a junkyard in search of a window handle for my Pinto, rather clever work.  I had lost it in the move, half-thought I might have given it away, but I went through a bag of things in the spare bedroom (Room of Requirement is a Harry Potter reference), the same bag in which I found lost photos.

Angry thumbs might be arthritis, possibly related to the sarcoidosis, or just years of use.  My chiro says a majority of post-menopausal women have thumb issues.  As with all such problems, the key is to keep using them, but respecting the limits.  My aunt’s doctor told her to keep doing crochet so her hands wouldn’t stiffen — she made doll clothes, easier to hold and quicker to complete.  I’m making baby hats and socks for myself, though there is one sweater I should finish.

I can relate to the fear of getting lost, no sense of direction at all.  Perhaps walking a short route or taking a friend . . . Dr. Paul Lam’s tai chi DVDs are pretty easy to do.   One can also work short stretch/movement breaks into the activities of the day, and it does warm one up, too.  Hardest for me is to try to remember to do occasional stair climbing . . . the second floor condo made that automatic, but now if I want to be able to climb when I need to, I have to consciously do some stairs sometimes, down to the basement, or at the Y.  Stairs also help me relieve some of the lower back stiffness.

Santa Dreams a New Toy

Santa Dreams a New Toy  (and CD/book giveaway)

by Daddy John (Fussner)  Image

One day Santa went to his workshop to work on a new toy.  Santa had had a dream the night before and had seen this new toy in the dream.  Many of Santa’s new toys come from dreams.  First Santa took a piece of wood and sawed it on his power saw.  He cut many little pieces.  Next he took a big piece of plywood and cut it up into many small pieces.  Soon he had a big stack of wood.  It looked a lot like kindling wood.

Just then old Grumpy came in and said, “Santa, if you want to build a fire, I have some old wood you can use.  It’s foolish to cut up new wood for a fire.”

“Oh, hush up,” said Santa, “and go find Tweedle and Twill for me.”

Tweedle and Twill are two of the brownies that help Santa.  Some people would call them elves.  Old Grumpy left, and soon Tweedle and Twill came in.  Santa pointed to the stack of cut-up wood and said, “Get busy.”

While Santa sat in his old chair, Tweedle and Twill started playing with the pieces of wood.  Twill built a house for a little doll.  Tweedle built a church.  Next Tweedle built a store while Twill built a school.  They kept building until they had used up all the wood.  While old Santa sat and watched, they took it all apart.

Twill said, “Let’s build a tall skyscraper.”  Soon they had a building as tall as they could reach.

Twill said, “I’m going to put a flag pole way up on top.”  He reached as high as he could, and just as he was placing the flag on the roof, he slipped and fell.  Down came Twill, building and all, “Crash!”

Old Santa had been napping, and he awoke with a start.  Jumping up, he shouted, “What happened?”

Tweedle and Twill told him, and they all had a good laugh.  After placing all the parts neatly in a box, Santa, Tweedle, and Twill went in for lunch.  Soon the factory was making box after box of Santa’s new toy, to be given to little boys and girls who like to build things.  Would you like one for Christmas?

** My father made many clever toys for us, and built useful things for the house as well.  One toy was a Karo syrup can with a wire through it as a pull handle and rocks inside to make lots of noise . . . obviously an outdoor toy, and oh, the racket a child could make pulling it up and down the driveway! — Mary Garrett       A few more stories here.

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** Giveaway!!  Storyteller Mike Myers sent me a gift of a Precious Purple Plinka Plunka which inspires me to offer a free CD or book of your choice to one lucky commenter to this blog.  Take your time, as I’ll be busy figuring out which stories can use a bit of music.  Final entry date will be Christmas Day, which will give time to get yours to you by Three Kings Day.  ** Mike is already a winner . . . just tell me what you’d like, Mike.

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

No one’s pumpkin pie can ever compare to Mom’s — what we grow up with is the “right” way.  I typed up Mom’s recipe, as insurance against loss of the scrap of paper, then decided that sharing it is the best insurance.  

I’ll add a little story . . . (surprised?)  When my niece Joy was little, I flew home for Christmas. It was the ’70’s, when airlines still fed passengers.  I was too full for dessert, so I put mine, which was well-wrapped, in my purse for later.  When my sister and I walked in Mom’s kitchen, Joy was saying to my mother, “I want some brown pie.”  Mom explained that she had developed a taste for pumpkin pie (my favorite), “but that was Thanksgiving.  We don’t have any more,” which was when I reached in my purse and produced my slice of pumpkin pie.  Joy was convinced that I had a magic purse . . . perhaps the real magic was in willingly giving away my favorite dessert. 

Merry Christmas, and may all your wishes come true!Image

 

Pumpkin Pie (Mom’s)

1 1/2 cups pumpkin  

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. allspice

2 TBLSP molasses

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup evap. milk

(whole can & 5 eggs to fill 2 pie crusts)

Combine all but eggs and milk, mix — add e&M  (or blend it all at once in blender)

Pour into unbaked pie shells (don’t prick shells) 

Bake 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean . . .