Dec 30, 2008

She ain't as innocent as she looks

Remember that loaf of homemade rye bread that I got for Christmas? Remember how I said I wasn't going to share it? Hmmph.
One night while DH was off hunting, I made myself an open-faced sandwich of that lovely rye bread with cheddar cheese melted on it, and decided to watch T.V. while I ate it. We get our signal from a roof antenna, and it has to be turned depending on what channel we want to watch.
So, I was out on the porch, turning the antenna and then peering in the window to check on the T.V. picture quality. After the third turn, I peered in the window to see Emma finishing off my sandwich. ACK!!!
Note to self: don't leave your sandwich where the dog can get to it, cheese hound that she is.

Dec 29, 2008

The ol' block I'm chipped off of

(We'll not discuss the Dallas Cowboys. Eeuurgh.)
My dad is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. He's a crew chief for Habitat for Humanity - South Collin County in north Texas. He's been doing this since his retirement in the late 90's. Every Saturday, rain or shine or Texas summer heat, Dad is out working with other volunteers on the latest house.
A crew chief is the "go-to" person at a Habitat build. He or she has experience with construction procedures, especially those of Habitat, and functions as an overseer. Besides doing actual work on the house, they teach and train other volunteers. Some, like my dad, are part of a Habitat group's construction committee, solving problems, reviewing tool and material requirements, and any other issues that may arise during a home's construction.
My dad and another volunteer have together installed every door and just about every window in nearly 40 houses. The other volunteer, Dave, is 82 years old (my dad is 75). They also fix mistakes and take care of unexpected problems that may come up on site. For example, they would attend to a plumbing pipe that accidentally has a nail driven through it. My dad does everything but siding and roofing; he says he's doesn't bounce anymore when he falls, so he prefers to stay off ladders and on the ground.
Dad works mainly on builds in Plano, Texas, but has also worked on builds in Dallas, Celina, Cleburne, and in the state of Georgia.
My dad and Dave were recently featured in an article about Habitat in the December 2008 Plano Profile, a magazine local to north Texas, specifically Collin County. The magazine has a website, but it is on the fritz and I can't get the article to come up. Bummer.
So if you wonder why I'm a DIY fiend, just look to the ol' block I'm chipped off of. Instead of scolding me for messing with his tools (okay, he did scold me for not putting them back where they belonged), Dad taught me to use them. He also showed me that tackling a job and doing it yourself is empowering. Thanks, Dad.

Dec 27, 2008

Christmas happenings (long)

Yeah, that's Sue Hillis' "Stitching Santa" pattern. And yeah, he's on my wish list. Sue's Santas are all so darn cute. I'm not normally a Santa fan, but I love the serenely benevolent expressions on all of their faces. Sue has done about five or six of them, each with a different theme. Offhand, I recall a Noah's Ark Santa, a Santa with birdhouses, and a cooking Santa.
I posted a picture of a Santa because I wanted to make an observation about believing in Santa Claus. My bro and I were brought up believing in Santa. (Although, weirdly, we didn't believe in the Tooth Fairy. Although we left "her" our teeth in hopes of gaining cash; we knew Mom & Dad were responsible for the nocturnal exchange.) Anyway, I remember how betrayed I felt when I found out that Santa wasn't real. I felt my parents had lied to me. They had, but it wasn't a purposeful lie; it was just what everyone's parents did when we were kids. Most kids probably didn't take it as personally as I did.
Well my Bro and SisIL aren't bringing up our nephews to believe in Santa. They understand he is make-believe. As we were discussing all this, my SisIL's mom quietly made the observation that if a parent tells a child that something make-believe is real, and then later recants, the child could take that one step further. "Mom and Dad lied to me about Santa being real. They say God and Jesus Christ are real. Are they lying about that, too?" I thought that was rather profound.
DH and I survived our trip up to DFW for the Christmas holidays and attended three celebrations with various relatives.
On Christmas Eve, we went up to my Aunt Lynda's and Uncle T's home to celebrate with my mom's side of the family. Everyone was there. DH and I usually only see these folks at Christmas. Each year, I am reminded of how quickly time passes. Our family tradition is that after eating, we gather around to pray and then read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke, and then we sing Christmas carols. This tradition was started by the patriarch of our family, my Grandpa, who is now deceased. Initially, he read from the Bible, and as we grandkids grew old enough, we took turns reading it.
Well, when the mantle of patriarch passed on to my Uncle T, he read the from the Bible until his own grandkids grew old enough to read it. This year, the middle of his five grandchilren read the story, 10-year old Caroline. I was holding my five-month-old nephew as we sang Christmas carols later. I felt old as I looked across the room at my cousin Renea's oldest daughter, Kathryn, and realized that 14 years ago, I had been standing in the same place holding her as a baby and singing Christmas carols! ACK!
As an aside, Kathryn is a gifted athlete whose passion is basketball. Her parents are Baylor alumni and she hopes to play basketball for Baylor. Silly girl. I keep trying to convince her to play for Texas A&M! Wisely, her father says she will play for the school that offers her the largest and most complete athletic scholarship.
On Christmas day, we celebrated with my side of the family at midday at my Bro's and SisIL's home. We draw names for gift-giving and I was lucky enough to have my name drawn by my SisIL's mom who is a baker. I have a tea ring pastry and homemade rolls in my freezer which I'll share with DH. The homemade loaf of rye bread (that I've been munching on all day long), I'm not sharing with anyone!
In the evening, we went to DH's Sister's and BIL's home. We had a lovely dinner (homemade lasagna). We met our youngest niece's boyfriend who will be entering medical school in January. Our oldest niece's young man is currently serving our country as a soldier in Afghanistan. May the Lord watch over him and keep him safe.
Yesterday, we drove home, stopping in Ennis for our usual mint chocolate chip shakes from Braum's as there are not any Braum's stores down in our part of Texas. I've been stitching a lot, but sporadically because I'm stitching row after row of boring fill-in in ecru at the top and bottom of my bellpull. But I hope to persevere and get this project done this weekend. I'll post a picture when I do.

Dec 23, 2008

Pre-Christmas Frenzy

Yeah, I know I haven't posted since last Thursday.
DH's office Christmas party was nice. Of course, I had the usual HoH issue of trying to hear in a large group of people in a large echo-inducing room. Luckily, most of the people know I'm hard-of-hearing and don't mind repeating themselves. But it is still a struggle and I'm usually very tired after such an affair. There's actually a term for it - listening fatigue. At least there was no background noise there like a stereo blasting Christmas music. That really makes it hard for me to hear.
Over the weekend, DH worked happily on the underbed storage unit. He had to spend half a day organizing his shop enough to make room to use his table saw. I spent Saturday stitching a little Christmas ornament for our oldest nephew. He's a car fiend so I stitched Lightning McQueen. It was not a fun stitch. I don't like stitching things I have no interest in, and a Disney Pixar car is pretty high on that list. But, it was for the nephew, so I endured. Here's a picture of it all finished in a plastic frame I had sitting in a drawer. It's straight in the frame, my picture is crooked.
I spent yesterday and today getting ready for a trip to the relatives for Christmas. Whoopee. A big trick for Christmas traveling in Texas is trying to figure out what the weather will be like wherever you are going . You have to pack for both warm and cold weather which makes your suitcase heavier and more packed. Double whoopee. You have more laundry on both ends of the trip. Triple whoopee.
Y'all have a Merry Christmas!

Dec 18, 2008

Christmas Ornament

Tonight we're going to DH's office Christmas party. His boss is hosting it at his house. It'll be a fun time. I like all of the people DH works with; they're good folk.
I have been to office Christmas parties that were not fun. I remember when I worked at UTHSCD as an Instructor, all the faculty were required to attend the tedious and very-dress-up Christmas party put on by the university uppity-ups. It was a pain in the bohonkus. I hated every minute of it. The food was bad and there was not one single drink available that didn't have alcohol in it. DH and I don't drink. I finally finagled a waiter into bringing us glasses of water.
Anyway, tonight should be relaxing and fun (and I don't have to cook!). The party includes a gift swap and I usually stitch an ornament for it. Actually, this year, I didn't have time to stitch one, but I had an unfinished one left over from last year. So I did a quick finish with the materials I have unpacked and here is the result:

Dec 16, 2008

Long musings from a cold Texan

Most of the USA is having problems with winter weather, and my part of south central Texas is included. Our high today will be about 35 degrees. The high inside my house will hit about 55 degrees. Space-heaters and a mostly drafty uninsulated house make me hope for a short, warm winter and several more pairs of sweatpants. Oh well. It will only be for one winter. And tomorrow will be warmer. Now if the sun would only come back out, but that ain't happening until next week. Bummer. I may wilt.
The weather outside isn't "frightful," it's squirrely. On Saturday and Sunday, we had sun with temperatures up in the 70s. One day last week, we had snow down here! I hate snow unless I'm skiing on it. Here's a picture:
I've made great progress with the mound of boxes in my den; I have about eight boxes left. However I've run up against the problem of having no place to put certain things because they will go in a place that DH hasn't had time to build yet. Cabinets, shelving, or my promised built-in computer/task desk for example.
After listening to my wails of woe, DH decided to put off work on the new bathroom (with my approval) and stop and build an underbed storage unit for our bedroom. We spent an afternoon hammering out (i.e. arguing and discussing) what we wanted in said storage unit. Then DH had to spend another half day drawing out the plans on several pieces of graph paper to placate his engineering soul and meticulous woodworker's heart. Next, we had to make a trip to town for lumber. DH also had to clean and organize his shop enough in order to actually be able to work in it. He hopes to begin cutting lumber tonight.
Wtih unpacking, I've been too busy to stitch. Oh, those of you lusting after and plotting ways to acquire my stitching chair should take heed: my chair is protected by my new Watch Frog. If my chair is removed from its rightful place, the thief will forever be plagued by stitching frogs every time they sit down to stitch until their dying day. Bwahahahaha!
It was really nice to unpack and set out my pirate collection yesterday. I don't have many as pirates are hard to come by. This makes the ones I do have even more special. Here's a picture of them:
Speaking of pirates, Sue Hillis Designs has made available a cute little pirate Santa freebie that matches her "Yo Ho Ho Ho" pirate Santa. You can download it from her website here.
Well, after I get our very late Christmas letters all ready to mail out, I'll be spending the afternoon stitching. It's too dang cold in the house to do anything else.

Dec 9, 2008

Stash, books, and a place to stitch

Well, we are now P.O.D.S.-less as it was picked up this morning at 8:15 a.m. It's weird to look outside and not see it sitting in front of DH's shop.
I received all the Redbird Designs patterns that I ordered from 3 Stitches and have enjoyed drooling over and fondling them. I got the complete quilt block alphabet series and three others. Whee-e-o!
I managed to carve out a place for my stitching corner and get it set up. Now I just have to dig out yet another extension cord to run my lamps. (We have no power to any of the plugs on this side of the den right now.) BUT! I can stitch whenever I want to! Yeehaw!
And I'm making a dent in the boxes. Even though I meticulously scaled stuff down and got rid of a lot of things before I packed up for the move, as I unpack boxes I find myself saying, "What on earth possessed me to keep this?!" So I have a couple of Salvation Army donation boxes going, too.
And yesterday, as I unpacked books, I kept getting distracted and sitting down to read favorite parts of favorite books. Fun, but it slows down the unpacking and putting away process. Books to me are like old friends. The books in our library have all been read more than once, and most of them multiple times. They don't get to stay in our library otherwise. Forget about not being too rich or too thin; you can never have too many books.

Dec 8, 2008

This and that and a frog

As always, thank y'all for your comments and encouraging words!
Saturday was my day to drive to Austin for the IH35 Stitchtogether. I got a lot of stitching done on my current WIP, and am close to finishing it! And I calculated that the last time I stitched on it was at the November Stitchtogether. Very sad.
There were five of us there - Mary, Lynn, Di, Sandi, and myself. We always bring food and we all brought "mealish" food this time; there wasn't a dessert or any chocolate to be found! ACK!
We also exchanged Christmas ornaments. The rules were that ornaments could be stolen twice before it was declared "owned." We must have all been very mellow as no one stole anything. I received an ornament from Di that she designed herself!
Blogger has this new "Followers" feature. I was interested in doing it on my blog, but it took it SIX MINUTES to load on my dial-up for each entry. So it ain't happening on this blog. FYI - pretty much if your blog is listed on mine, I read it.
Over Thanksgiving, we visited DH's family. One of his aunts is an avid crocheter. She spends all year crocheting animals, toys, slippers, and bookmarks to sell at a local annual craft fair. Many of the designs are her own. I always HAVE to go look at all her creations. She keeps them in a spare bedroom on built-in shelves that cover an entire wall, and they fill the shelves! (I know, I should bring my camera next year and take a picture).
Anyway, just as I was about to leave the room, a spot of green caught my eye. It was the most adorable frog! I bought him with intentions of giving him away at an IH35 Stitchtogether. But he's so darn cute that I ended up keeping him for myself (sorry ladies) and perching him where he could be guardian over my stitching area and keep annoying stitching frogs at bay.
Well, I'm off to unpack several of our eleventy-billion boxes of books. Y'all have a great day!

Dec 5, 2008

A new creature

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
Monday, I opened an e-mail and learned that a former coworker and friend, Robert, had lost his battle with cancer, and had passed away at home with his wife and daughter on Thanksgiving Day. He was 52 years old. DH and I immediately cleared our schedules to drive up to east Texas to attend the funeral on Tuesday.
Like many funerals, it was a time sadness. But for me, it was a beautiful example of old things passing away once a man knows and follows Christ as his Savior; he becomes a new creation and a different person.
Robert and I began working together in the summer of 1979 in a prosthetics lab in Dallas, Texas. I was just going into college and he was just getting out of college. We were both interested in a career in prosthetics (fabricating and fitting custom-made artificial limbs for people). We worked together for around eight or nine years and both became Certified Prosthetists before going our separate ways. Robert bought a lab in east Texas and struck out on his own, and I got married and moved to Tennessee with my DH. We've seen each other in person only a few times since then, but we kept in touch.
The Robert I worked with was the "old Robert." He was a little wild, did some foolish things, lived in the moment, but was basically good-hearted. I thought of him as the older brother I didn't have. He had three brothers and no sisters. We were friends and occasionally fought like a brother and sister. He had a girlfriend, Mary. She was very level-headed and was a woman of faith. And at that time, though Robert understood the concept, he had never believed in Christ as his Savior.
Well, Mary and Robert got married, and Mary came to work at the lab in the office. I got to know her and really liked her. Whoever came up with the saying, "Behind every good man is an even better woman," must have been talking about Mary.
Robert grew up; he matured (as we all hopefully do). He and Mary had a daughter, Melanie, whom he often called "Babycakes." And then one day, Robert believed in Christ as his Savior. He became my brother in Christ. He was a new creation; he changed. He began attending church and seeking after God. He became active in a men's Bible study. He met with other men to pray early on Saturday morning. He became active in his church community and sought ways to help folks in need. And when he was diagnosed with cancer, his church family rallied around him and his family.
The funeral was a celebration of Robert's home-going to heaven to be with his Lord. I rejoiced as I listened to friends and church members give testimony of the changes in Robert's life. I could almost hear the Lord saying to him, "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"
After the funeral, DH and I were talking over the passage of time and old friends. We figured that the last time I had seen Robert was in the early '90's at an Academy Meeting in New Orleans. (Academy Meetings are national yearly educational and scientific lectures for prosthetists and orthotists.) DH last saw him in March of this year, again at an Academy Meeting, where Robert told him of his battle with cancer. DH said that he and Robert really seemed to connect with one another during that visit. I said, "You were brothers in the Lord and knew it."
Anyway, I will be keeping Mary and Melanie in my prayers. And I will be praising the Lord who keeps His promises to those who believe in Him, and thanking Him for the life of my brother Robert, a new creature.

Dec 4, 2008

YEEHAW! An empty P.O.D.S.!

Okay, I tried to post on Monday, but Blogger kept omitting my formatting. I am very particular about formatting and don't like it to be omitted. After three tries, I gave up.
Tuesday, DH and I drove up and back to east Texas to attend the home-going celebration (funeral) of a former coworker and friend. I'll post about that tomorrow.
Yesterday, I ran a bazillion errands in town including a trip to Wal-Mart and the Post Office (in December - ACK!!). But last night, our young friend Preston came over to help DH UNLOAD THE P.O.D.S.! That's right, it's empty! All our furniture and lots of boxes are now in the house! YEEHAW!!
Here's proof! And that's my stitching rocking chair behind all those boxes! WHEE-E-O!!
DH and I are avid readers and have lots of books - you can never have too many books. After carrying the umpteenth box of books into the house, Preston commented that he was not going to date or marry a girl that liked to read or collect books. (He was kidding.)