The (un)Holy Couple

At Christmastime, we visit Fountain Square in Cincinnati. 
There's a skating rink where we stand around the edges and wait for the ever-hilarious
sight of falling skaters, and a Graeter's bakery nearby. Food and entertainment - definite holiday
luxuries. It's one of our traditions, from when the boys were little and the main attraction was chasing 
pigeons and eating a cheap donut. Now we take whoever among them will go, along with 
any of their friends; it's different, but the same in the essential ways. 
Different, but the same - that's the stuff of life, isn't it?

AND THIS YEAR ... something more! An immigration demonstration attended by
Mary and Joseph, the Holy Couple themselves. Skipping over the pesky politics of the whole
situation, since that is clearly not the point here, you must look more closely at Mary and Joseph. 
Look at their chests...
Is that the creepiest thing you ever saw???
I couldn't drag my eyes away! 
Joseph's 'assistant' needing air - a little less creepy, but still - a startlingly weird backdrop to the 
kindly-looking interpreter who waits for the tearful Mexican woman to pause in her pleas.
There was also random group dancing of the Macarena sort pretty similar to this.
I tell you, it was the best year ever for gawking! 

(Don't miss that Macarena link ...)


Outdoor Play

Staring out at the bird feeder --- 
It's like watching characters in a play.
Over the weekend, THE MOB swarmed in to terrorize the 'good' birds.
But one was there to fight back ...
More on that later.

-8 on the car temp display this morning on the way to school drop-off.
It will be a miracle if any of my container perennials survive so many below zero days
 in their metal tubs.
$900+ gas bill for only 30% fill on the propane gas tank. Gulp.
A lavish display of $1 primroses at the local market made me feel like cheering!
It was a punch-to-the-face of Winter.  
How do ducks keep their feet in ice water and not end up with stumps? 
Now that's something to research.
Clearance amaryllis bulbs about to bloom - "Apple Blossom". 
Paperwhites all finished and trimmed, but still growing their creepy roots.
There is a giant snowman in our backyard with an aluminum berry pail on his 
head. We are not too old to play in the snow!
Oh, Downton! 


Small Town Wall of Fame

Contributor names to an unknown cause inscribed on a small town wall.
I'm one of the oddball people who will stand and read
them until her husband manages to drag her away to more interesting attractions. 
As a former first grade teacher, I could see the handwriting style controversy 
playing out  right there on the wall!
What does the ★ indicate? I sure would want a  next to my name!
It's the little things, isn't it?

- Can you find the laugh-out-loud name? 
I know I had that guy in my freshman year at NKU!

-  And the most important detail of all:
How did Megan earn her name recorded in  (near)script?


God also writes names, in books - see here.
(...and on His palm, on persons ... where else?)


A Whiff of Spring

 We are deep, deep in snow - yet again. 
The roads are covered, and a very few cars are edging their way past our cozy home.

It smells like  SPRING  in my kitchen!

I snagged these paperwhite bulbs (narcissus) on clearance at Meijer about a week
after Christmas. The bulbs had already begun sprouting inside their box, and for $3, I was
happy to take them home. After letting them sit on the kitchen table for a week, I raided
the vase box in the basement and came up with this large-ish, and I think graceful, container.
(I promptly cracked it adding the stones. Try to overlook the big crack on the side!)
Next, aquarium stones were scavenged from the supply box my sons keep, and just a few 
minutes later, everything was arranged. 
Growing paperwhites could not be easier, and fast! They were in bloom only 8 days after
being set in the vase. If you have little ones around, this project makes a rewarding one, since
the growth is amazingly quick and visible from day to day. Oh, I miss the days of home science
projects!  All that curiosity and enthusiasm just surging around - 
the measuring, the drawing, the charting ...
the bending, the pinching, the tossing 
(there are always a few unapproved experiments).
The tiny blooms resemble small daffodil clusters and have a really BIG scent. 

These roots - so swanky!
Everything I've read says that the bulbs are no good after one go around, 
but I'm going to save mine,  plant them in the garden, and see if 
I might get some blooms next year, in their proper season.

You could still buy some for yourself, something to brighten up these snowy days and
remind you of the spring that is surely on the way. 
It IS on the way, right???


The Bag Men

It's funny how age and experience can bring a certain variety of wisdoms, I think. For example ...
- The neighbor's cat is just going to eat a few birds. There's no fighting nature.
- That whole 'You can't judge a book by its cover' thing - really true.
- People speeding wildly in their vehicles can be oh! so easily explained.
- It's just reasonable (and economical) to keep a few different sizes of jeans in your wardrobe.

And now I've come realize something new about  those men you sometimes see carrying the purseNot their own --- you can tell by the unwieldy handling. I must admit to some inward snickering and scoffing in the past, and yes, even to quietly pointing out the occasional sight of  a bag-bearing husband  for a quiet chuckle among friends. Especially that rare fellow who awkwardly shoulders his wife's purse, in order to have both hands free.
I have to say, I've tried to spare my husband this particular indignity 
among the many which I've managed to inflicted upon him - 
"Thanks, but I 'll carry that myself."  
Said too sharply, I know, because of the big ding that would put in my own pride. It just seems like a 
too-huge admission of weakness to not be able to carry my own purse, right up there with being 
unable to slip on my own socks.*  And Lord knows, I hang on to my (perceived) 'independence' 
pretty fiercely. He's still working with me on that.
*These seem like two of the most basic functions of everyday life. There are other, even more basic,
 of course, but I refuse to let myself even consider those for now.  

So recently, when My Wonderful Husband had to carry my bag to the house while I gripped his other arm, slowly making painful progress toward the house, the tenderness of his helpful gesture smacked me right in the face. "I can't believe you're carrying my purse..."  I managed to squeak, to which he began to swing it and sashay along, being careful to  not jar me too much. It was funny - he made it funny,  to diffuse my emotional response and defeat my pride.   "Not a big deal," he smiled, "Does it match my outfit?"  
I Can't Believe I'm Here is a refrain of my life, maybe of everyone's life,  and one that is sometimes accompanied by mournful tears. Now, laughing is generally better than crying, and we try to stick to that motto around here. But some moments pass by unLIVED if they are refused a recognition which may require tears, even tears mixed with laughter. Even though I can't believe it,  I am here, in a purse-surrendering-spot of life, and the bag-bearing husband is no longer an object of smirky amusement to me. 

He seems more like a hero, actually.


Man Wrap

Inventive tagging by one of My Sons.

He wouldn't mind - go ahead and 'PIN' this to your  Clever Gift-Wrap board.
Or maybe your Man Wrap board?


Scotch-Taped Scripture

Sometimes encouragement is found in the most unlikely places.
This sign was posted in a tiny mom-and-pop hardware store in the middle of Indiana.
There were other verses posted here and there around the store - 
among the hinges and doorknobs
alongside the bags and bags of rock salt
and just above the plungers.
Doesn't that all seem poetic somehow?



I love the peaceful aspect of this barn -
set conspicuously alone in the middle of a field 
surrounded by a crowd of bare trees 
and canopied by a pristine blue sky-blanket. 

It's somewhere between Vevay and Madison, Indiana.


A Between Get-Away

We took a short overnight in Vevay, IN, at the Schenck Mansion between Christmas and the New Year. I try to refrain from calling it the 'We Survived Christmas Get-Away', but 
in my head, I do.
At breakfast, we were told that our room was the one with the most 'spiritual activity'.
The innkeeper prompted us to watch for ORBS in these photos.
Do you see anything?
 The grounds were nicely landscaped, featuring a really beautiful concrete and ironwork gazebo. Dreamy blue sky and buttery morning sunshine.

At breakfast we sat with the other guests around the formal dining table and enjoyed a near-gourmet meal. In the past, we've had a few pretty awkward meals around the table with perfect strangers, but this gathering was like a reunion with old friends. We lingered over coffee and had further conversation in the hallways. 
I was tempted to ask one of the older couples to mentor us. 
Or send us newsletters. 
Or invite us to their New Year's Eve party. 
Something like that.
But I let them go, all of our new friends, without exchanging any information whatsoever.

That's how you gotta roll at a B&B, you know.