reflections, new year wishes

Another journey marker is before us, as we close the chapter on our own personal 2012s and begin to look toward the unknowns of 2013. It can be a day of mixed emotions, as we take stock of the past 365 days, maybe wondering how did we possibly arrive again here so fast! One thing I’ve learned this year is that life will only begin to slow down when you do. And even then, there still never seems to be enough time.

I try to find time each December end to create my own private “top 10” list of the past year and to dream about plans for the coming months. I haven’t finished 2012’s list yet, but I know a couple shoo-ins. One would be James finally receiving his green card. Anyone who knows anyone who has gone through this process knows how difficult and stressful it can be. My one recommendation from our experience is to contact your Congressperson for assistance in processing applications. James’ initial paperwork languished unassigned and unreviewed for six months before we contacted our local US representative, whose immigration liaison pushed for approval within forty-eight hours. When the card — and yes, it really is green — arrived, we celebrated with much flag waving and a bottle of bubbly. 🙂

On the personal front, I feel accomplished for finally opening the Etsy shop I’ve talked about for the past couple years. It’s been a fantastic experience thus far, and James and I are so excited about our plans for additional stores in the coming year.

And so we have completed our first cycle of seasons here at Baldy Hill. I know that some friends and family question our reasons for choosing this simple, borderline primitive, home, but, for us, this photographic summary to mark year one says it all. 🙂

Wishing you and yours a new year full of love and peace. May your journey be smooth, and when not, may you find the strength and courage to manage the difficult days as well.

HAPPY 2013!

 

gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • The luxury of time I have had this week to spend with friends and family; fewer people have the option to take extended breaks from work, so I really appreciate these special days
  • Taking a break from life’s normal routines, which for me means sleeping in past 4 am, wearing pjs all day, having a second cup of coffee, watching birds all morning, and not knitting FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS! (starting to miss it, of course :-))
  • Great sales at the Sierra Trading Post; we saved a lot of $$$ stocking up on thermals this week
  • Beautiful Christmas Eve service to follow our tradition of listening to the live broadcast of a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, UK — always sets the right mood
  • Awesome Boxing Day breakfast with one of my oldest friends (oldest, as in knowing each other practically since birth :-))
  • Snow, snow, and more snow, including the ever so rare WHITE Christmas — beautiful!

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  • Enjoying time with the Little People
  • The food — oh the FOOD! So delicious, so abundant
  • My cozy spot by the wood stove, as the wind whirls the snow outside
  • Snow tubing with our nephew — slightly scary but oh so fun! Being at the ski resort made me more determined to take the ski lessons I’ve been meaning to (must learn to turn left! :-))
  • Cards, so many holiday greetings from friends all over the world, feeling the love
  • Superdark chocolate. With hazelnuts. Yum!

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  • Finding bits of quiet time amidst the chaos and busyness
  • The generosity of our friends and family
  • A new good diner find; correction, two new good diner finds! 🙂
  • Peacefully sleeping pups
  • Winter landscapes
  • Hot chocolates with fresh whipped cream

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  • Visits from this beautiful female pheasant; she arrived during yesterday’s snowstorm and has made multiple stops at our bird feeder since. Hoping she evades our hunterly neighbors!
  • Loving our decision to live in the countryside, which allows us this intimacy with nature
  • The open plan for the next few days, puttering, finishing projects (kitchen curtains and pillows!), dreaming of new ones for the new year 🙂
  • Counting our many, many blessings

And what are you grateful for today?

gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • Almond snowman cookies from Trader Joe’s, yum!
  • A long holiday break from my day job
  • And being able to sleep in past 4 am as a result 🙂
  • Fun Saturday night with James — Indian/Pakistani food first, followed by Christmas lights, carol concert, and model train display
  • Bayliss leaning against me as I knit (and knit and knit)
  • My husband’s help with all the Christmas preparations — he’s written most of the cards this year, a major relief for me
  • Discovering an entire box of vintage tree decorations I had completely forgotten about
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration ale
  • Witnessing a beautiful random act of kindness by a coworker, as she paid the bill for an elderly man who found himself a little short of cash at the grocery store; he was ever so grateful
  • A reminder that this season can be difficult for people, for reasons we may or may not be aware of, from Geoff Livingston: “We all struggle, we all have our crosses to bear. None of us are as perfect as we seem online or in our business meetings or at social affairs. Hardships vary greatly. Any of us can lose that job and/or find ourselves in a pinch. Sanity is not a guarantee, either. Home life can be difficult.” Empathy and humility should not be overlooked now, or ever
  • Stepping away from the technological world for a few days to spend these special days with my little family
  • Winter is here! 🙂

And what are you grateful for today?

yarn along

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Today I am participating in Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along, sharing what currently occupies our knitting needles and reading pile.

The above was a special request by my cousin for her two-year-old granddaughter to wear with her Christmas outfit. The scarf was easy-peasy, but oh the little leg warmers! Not my cup of tea, to be honest, but in the end we got there. And the lovely Isabella will pull off the look, no doubt. 🙂

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After finishing those today, I started on a scarf for my BFF Julie while waiting for my haircut. Jake apologized profusely for the delay — I told him it was a joyous reprieve from the hectic schedule of the past week. I’ve learned to embrace any unexpected down time as a gift, rather than fret and stress about a little waiting time, and make the best use of it. 🙂

On the top of the book pile, I just started this short seasonal novel by Garrison Keillor. I have read just the first couple chapters so far, but I love his homespun charm. He’s a master storyteller, creating such wonderful characters, and always fun to read. Exactly the light sort of read I needed to carry me through the holiday. 🙂

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seven days to peace

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Our countryside has been heavy with fog since Friday, befitting of all our moods really. It’s been such a sad time, and I’ve struggled to keep any semblance of holiday cheer despite the twinkly faery lights and balsam pine fragrance all around. Christmas just wasn’t supposed to be like this.

And it’s so sad to see many people bitterly arguing about what should be done to keep horrific acts from happening again. If only the answer were so simple; if only a Facebook post or two really were the magic salve we need to cure our society’s ills.

I too have been despairing, finding myself with too many things to do and not enough time to finish everything before next Tuesday. Of course, this stress is mostly of my own making, and I am angry at myself for not listening that precious inner voice (that always does know best) before overcommitting at the one time of year I most want to relax and savor time together with my little family.

This afternoon I finally had the overdue heart-to-heart with myself, and together we reworked and reprioritized the “to do’ list so that sanity and peace have been restored at Baldy Hill. Tonight there will be cocoa and tree trimming and carol playing, as we take the first tender steps toward reclaiming this holiday. We have only seven days.

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gratitude sunday

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gratitude — the state of being grateful : thankfulness

On this Gratitude Sunday, I am grateful for:

  • Finding this quote when I needed comfort, from one of my childhood heroes:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Fred Rogers

  • Enjoying a lovely Friday afternoon with my husband
  • Finding the perfect Christmas tree
  • Digging deep to find the strength to start again, and again
  • Hot cocoa on a clammy cold day
  • New music from Iris DeMent — I’ve waited YEARS, Iris, thank you
  • Allowing everyone to have their opinion, no matter how much I am disappointed by some
  • First responders, everywhere: we take for granted that they will come to save the day, and us.  And they almost always do
  • Payday!
  • Broccoli and cheddar omelettes
  • The arrival of my 2013 diary and desk calendar
  • Yarn sales
  • Remembering this poem by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
       love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

What are you grateful for this week?