Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

And so here we are - the final hours of the first decade of the 'new millennium'. Remember all that fuss ten years ago right now. Of course you do. The media hype that we were going to wake up to an entirely different world because our computers weren't programed to handle something or other. We weren't going to have power so people had frantically bought every generator available. And the next day dawned to a totally ordinary day.

It's bad enough that a year flies by at a ridiculous speed, but it's particularly disturbing when the ten year chunks are a blink as well. I've generally thought of my life in ten year blocks - either by the calendar or by my own fiscal years. I've set my sights on having ten of them & I really am not overly enthusiastic to see them slipping down the hour glass so quickly.

Ten years ago, we spent New Year's Eve with our friends & my sister and brother in law, the same folks that we will usher it in with this year.

Twenty years ago, we spent it in the funeral home in another town, feeling totally displaced as 'orphans'. Our last night on earth with our darling Dad. That was the most difficult of years - saying goodbye.

Thirty years ago, I spent it in the hospital with my precious newborn son. My roommate and I sat at the nurse's station, waiting for the arrival of the New Year's baby - toasting with champagne at midnight. That was the most delightful of years - saying hello.

Forty years ago, I was having fun as a teeanger - partying with the same dear friends that I had a lovely lunch with yesterday.

And right now, we're off to my sister's to be with them and the same friends that we've spent the majority of New Year's Eve with over the past 25 years. We will count down together as we watch the ball drop in The Big Apple. We will hug & kiss and congratulate ourselves for still being here for another year. And we will be grateful for one more time to be together to celebrate Life & Family & Friends.

Monday, December 28, 2009

That's a Wrap

... as they say. Christmas '009 has officially joined the ranks of 'Christmas Past'. We shall remember '09 as particularly Fine. For the simple and single reason that we were all present and accounted for. All together. All healthy. There is not one single thing in the entire world that I wanted more than that.

It was purely perfect.

It didn't matter that I never did find a bunch of my extra-special Christmas treasures that I had put away 'safely' because they're 'extra-special'. Or that I actually didn't even get lights on a bunch of little trees that I usually do. Or that I didn't even plug in the ones that I did have done.

It didn't matter that I was still wrapping presents all Christmas morning, when I promised myself that I would never do that again.

It didn't matter that I didn't get the things done that I intended many months ago to make for gifts. Who am I kidding - I didn't even get them STARTED.

It didn't matter that we had no fancy dessert like we usually have - cheesecake, trifle, pies ... nothing. I had decided that I would assign that task to my three girls who always offer to bring stuff. In my aging wisdom, I thought that I would put them on 'sweets' duty and not stress myself with having the mess of making cookies or even trouble my aging head with desserts on my agenda at all. I thought it was brilliant and wise. Only one little glitch. I forgot to mention it to THEM. Apparently, so they say, the first they heard of it was when I was scouting out to see what they brought. It's not like we went hungry, but I'm sure I lost 'Good Christmas Mother' points with my late, great, amazing mother-in-law, who is surely horrified from beyond. She thought I was quite radical and rebellious when I served Cool Whip with a dessert once & said "Oh you young people. You do know how to do things the Easy Way". It wasn't exactly admiration in her voice. She was only 45 at the time, but it seemed that we had a major generational difference of opinion in the Expections of Entertaining department.

Ahhh yes .... in spite of all of those tiny blips on my 'Create the Perfect Christmas' list - which is really just my own issues & absolute fantasy and fallacy anyway, we did indeed have a Perfect Christmas.

Because we were together.

I noticed as I was trying to figure out how I was going to squeeze everyone around our kitchen table ... (because the back room where I've set up Christmas as the family has grown, was filled with boxes & wrapping & art supplies, and general mess that I never got dunged out) ... I noticed, that in fact our family has exactly doubled since the days of 'The Original Six'. It was a very strange concoction of a table that I put together, but it worked. We were together.

But, as in every Christmas, there is a defining Story, that will identify Christmas '009. You know, the 'That was the year ....". There's always one memorable moment. At LEAST one.
So ... the day is over, they're all packing up to go back to their places. I won't say 'home' because as far as I'm concerned, that's where they already were. Brian had done well to leave the wrapping paper to burn til that time of night. He's usually stuffing it into the wood stove as quickly as we unwrap the gifts. Of course, he couldn't leave it til morning - we all know better than that. He's neater than I am. We were missing a gift, so I went through each piece of paper, transferring it to the other half of Lauren's big honkin' Bear box. Aunt Alyssa, who gave her the big honkin' Bear, being the fun, wacky aunt that she is, jumped in the box & Lauren had some fun burying her.

Then, the fun was over & Brian carried the box out to the field and set it on fire as we watched from the spectacle from the window. And then, before the flames died, we were all on a mission to find Alyssa's cell phone. Her only-months-old $600 iphone that had been in her back pocket.
Need I finish the story?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Memories

I have a multitude of journals, but I so wish that I had kept one just for the Christmas Stories. This Season of Memories is like book anyway; pages open and the stories spill out whether you want them to or not. A song, a fragrance, an image - anything can trigger a flood of emotion - tears or laughter, a peaceful feeling or immense sadness. As difficult as it is, it's good that we have this 'Re-Season' - to re-live, reflect, rejoice, re-connect - remember. Snippets of Christmas Past pop into my head randomly. Sometimes they bring a smile to my heart and sometimes the memory jabs it like a pincushion.

The memory is so clear that it seems like yesterday - driving home from midnight mass at about 11 years of age, being too old to believe in Santa, knowing full well that there wasn't a Santa, but so hoping that that was wrong and he had indeed come to our house while we were at church. He hadn't.

And our first Christmas as newlyweds - feeling so 'grown up' when we had both sets of parents in for refreshments. And that magic of that night, right out of a movie - with great, huge snowflakes falling straight down while the church bells rang out carols.

There was a Christmas that I broke my leg on the 23rd, with plans for vacation from college totally changed to sitting around in a cast for the three weeks.

Of course, the three Christmases that I was expecting the birth of our children at any moment. In the hushed church on Christmas, the miracle of birth was even more pronounced.

And the Christmas, 29 years ago - my first without my Mother & without Christmas as I had always known it. So lost we were as a family. Brian's parents took us in that year and got us through it.

One Christmas Eve, it stormed and my Dad couldn't make it back for our traditional get together. I talked to him on the phone for an hour and a half and he told me things he'd never shared with me. We had more time together and a better conversation than we would have if he'd come to the house.

There were a few years that it stormed. One Christmas we drove through dangerous weather because I could simply not imagine or accept that I couldn't be with my family on Christmas.

Another frigid Christmas Eve, our car broke down on the way to church. My brother, with no hat, gloves or boots walked to the not-so nearby houses to use the phone, but they wouldn't open the door & he had to leave and walk to the next one.

The following year it was just my Dad and I who went to midnight mass - I remember soaking in every moment, worrying that it might be our last. It was.

Seven years ago, Brian's mom passed away unexpectedly, twelve days before Christmas. It would have been her first in her new home. We had no idea what else to do - we'd spent Christmas Day together for over 30 years, so we went to her house anyway. The turkey was bought, there were some gifts under the tree, but the hardest thing was the tin of our cookies in the refrigerator - knowing that it was her precious hands that made them, for us. And they would again. I don't remember what we did with those cookies, we couldn't bring ourselves to eat them.

There was another Christmas that I was so very sad and tried hard to pretend that I wasn't, but they knew and were so sweet to me.

And the Christmas we took Emma the Goat, yes - the real goat, to the church & she laid down in the aisle while everyone sang Silent Night by candle light. Then she didn't bother getting up when it was over and everyone had to walk around her.

My first Christmas, away at college -when I came home expecting to see the house all decorated and all the baking done & was horrified to that it was bare. When I expressed my supreme disappointment with my Mother, she shared with me for the first time ever, that she actually hated the Christmas Season. I said 'How could you?!' She said 'How could I not.' I think I grew up a little that day.

I remember so many Christmas Eves, as excited as the kids, laying awake, waiting for them to go down and see what Santa brought them. Some years I would have barely gotten to bed. They never knew it, but I would sneak out to the top of the steps to listen to what they were saying. The year that Jaime was four, we made her a huge dollhouse, bigger than she was & I couldn't wait to see her reaction. I didn't get Daniel's rocking horse - which was also huge & I had designed myself, quite finished, but he was too little to know or care. I left a note that said 'Have your Mother finish this. Love, Santa' Of course, neither of them could read so it could have said anything. I worked on her house almost all night & was so exhausted that I fell asleep & missed her discovery. I awoke to her shaking me with her excited little face two inches from mine - saying 'Mom! Mom! WAKE UP!! Santa left YOU a DONKEY!!!'

Ahhh yes, every Christmas is a story. I so wish I'd taken the time to keep a journal from the beginning. Might be a good thing to start now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Fun

Let the Festivities begin! I have put away my wire & wool & fabric & glue. I have got most of my decorating done. I'm starting to think about what I should buy everyone for Christmas. I am ready to Get Ready.

I've squeezed in a few Christmas events already and am looking forward to some more happy get togethers this week.

Today was our Scott Christmas at Brian's brother, Steve's. Last year, when there was talk about Christmas Eve, Scotty wondered if we were going to 'Christmas Steve's again'. We enjoyed Christmas Steve today, or what we fondly call 'Festivus for the Rest of Us'. There was no way of replacing the wonderful years of Christmas we had on the Scott farm, so we invented our own tradition. No fuss, no muss, no cooking - just getting together for pizza.

Last night, Ashley and Andy christened their new home with a Tacky Christmas Sweater party. Even Askhim the Dog participated. I think that I should have won a prize as I didn't have to go to Goodwill or Sally Ann for something to wear - I just went to my own closet. And it won't be the only time I wear it this season.

It was a fun & fitting housewarming for my crazy clan. They all certainly do know how to have a good time. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my four together, enjoying each other's company. They have almost come to accept the compulsory photo & take the 'lets just get it over with' approach to humour their old mother. It's the greatest gift that they can possibly give me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

End of the Line

Back in the days of 'Christmas in the Country' - ten years of days, I had this entire house, the shop, the barn, the property, decorated to the hilt before the first weekend of November. After we ended that event, I'd start to decorate on December 1st - I'd kinda begrudge going through all that effort for only a month of enjoyment. This year, here it is, nine days til Christmas and my house looks more like a bomb went off than a fesitivity is approaching.

Every year I think ... 'NEXT YEAR', I'm going to be organized. NEXT YEAR, I'm going to do my shopping weeks ahead. NEXT YEAR I am going to make a Santa for all of my children and one for me too. NEXT YEAR I will have everything wrapped & under the tree and will be able to sit and relax in the glow of the Christmas lights. I'll get to go to all the wonderful events that are happening. And I'll even get to watch some Christmas movies and put myself in the proper frame of mind to celebrate such an important occasion. And most importantly, NEXT YEAR I will find time to do some things for people who could use a kindness.

It seems though, that every year I just get further behind. I'm not doing more, I guess I am just doing slower. At this point, I have no decorations up, I have nothing baked or bought and still need to finish up too many things. NEXT YEAR, I am NOT going to let this happen.

The very good thing is that I am hosting Book Club here the day after tomorrow, so I know - even if I have to stay up all night, I will at least have the tree up. That's because it is laying in the middle of the livingroom and we simply wouldn't have anywhere to sit if I don't.
And so, because of my need to get my act together on this front, I have had to put my Ebay creating on pause. I'm really disappointed about that. The time has gone way too quickly. I have loved spending time up in my studio - I hadn't been up there for months. And I especially loved to be re-connected with the dear folks that I have met over the past five years and to have the opportunity to meet new friends. That's a NEXT YEAR too ... that I will start my Christmas line way sooner.

The last two creations for Christmas Line '009 are a 'Magic Ride' and 'E-mail'.

My favourite childhood vision of Santa is with his reindeer flying through the air. That's why I love these little deer - they're in the perfect magical reindeer stance. I have to confess - I stole them from something else and I think I might be kicking myself. But when I came across the tiny handcarved, beat up little wooden shoe, there simply was nothing else that would do. Of course, stance aside, they were not right as they were, so I rebirthed them & painted them up.

The other piece 'E-mail' has three chubby little elves with polka dot boots. I love vintage postcards and I love little things - so I shrunk down my collection and filled the mail bag with them. Another thing I love is Words ... and on the back of each card there is a single word that will hopefully evoke thought or feeling.

Time for me to put some thought into making this place feel like Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Candlelight Christmas

Last night was our annual Candlelight Christmas Service at our Little Church in Avonbank.
As always, it was a totally magical evening - friends, neighbours and family coming together to celebrate Christmas the old fashioned way - with simplicity & fellowship. With the little Church aglow in candle light and our voices are united, singing Silent Night with such tenderness, it is the Season at its best.
Other than for the annual cemetery decoration day and one wedding, the church sat empty for 35 years. When Jaime and Nick were married there in 1999, there was a comment that it was so lovely that someday we should have a Christmas Service there. I suggested rather than 'someday' we needed to just Do It. We stuck fliers in the neighbours' mailboxes, got someone to play the old piano and read the Christmas Story. The place was full. It was heartwarming to see all denominations come together in the true meaning of Christmas.
Back then, the pews were filled with families with growing children and young adults. As we've come back each year, we see a noticeable difference in how the children have grown. The family pew in many cases has dwindled for a time as teenagers moved off to university or out of the area. And now, moments later it seems, they are back with children of their own, creating their own tradition. And now the ones that were the parents are the grandparents. My own three grandchildren were there - our family has grown by 5 since that first service.
Last night we sang traditional Christmas carols; two grandparents sang with their wee grandchildren and a professional storyteller told the story 'The Clown of God'. Lauren must have felt that the service really was about the music. She went downstairs to check on Ashley & Gibson - came back up to see what was happening and went back to assure Ashley that she wasn't missing anything - the 'commercial is still on'. (The storyteller). She likely thought the same when I was speaking. When I am doing the closing, they're right up there with me, which makes me so proud and so happy. There's not a hope my own children would have joined me, but they are quite comfortable hanging being my assistants.
This is what I shared this year - adapted from Howard Thurman:
The Work of Christmas Begins:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the skies is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins.
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart.
To radiate the light of Christ,
every day in every way,
in all that we do and all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

Friday, December 11, 2009

First Snow

We got our first real snow yesterday & today ... some roads were closed, schools were closed. I spent the entire day in my studio, content that I was warm & cozy and didn't need or want to venture out in it. I like snow in winter - it's fresh and pretty & it sure beats 'perpetual November'. This will get me in the Christmas mood like nothing else. But, I am definitely wondering - why was it that I wasn't out shopping a month ago??????

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rekindling the Passion

I really need to sculpt more Santas in polymer clay. I haven't done many in the past few years. After getting involved with the wholesale market & supplying up to 65 stores, I was so burned out that I couldn't even think about picking up a sculpting tool. I never offered my primitive line that way, so I have never been overwhelmed by them. When you have to do over 200 sculpture in 16 weeks or less, it really does have a way of taking the joy out of it.

That is in the past - about seven years past & that's how long it has taken me to fall in love with the process once again.
What I especially like about the polymer style Santas, is the eyes. I believe that is what captures the character and 'soul' of the creation. Until the eyes speak, the figure is silent. Doing the eyes is my favourite part of any figure - human or animal. Second favourite is 'antiquing'.

Polymer pieces aren't antiqued like the air dry clay ones are. That's why I love my primitive line. That is what brings THEM to life - what takes them from being flat & stark & ordinary to giving them an aged & loved look - the patina of age.
Both processes are so different, as are the results. I'm glad that I grew tired of the sculpted Santas for a bit - that made me grow in another direction. Having a breather was a good thing - I am back in the polymer saddle ... excited & passionate, which fuels my creativity and puts the sparkle in their eyes, and in mine.
These two pieces are on Ebay this week:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Toddler Days

We used to joke about what a nightmare it would be if our kids moved home with their kids. Well, it happened & we all survived unscathed. We expected it to be a little challenging for four adults to live in relatively small space with two big dogs and a busy baby, but at least from our end, it was surprisingly enjoyable and fun. Sure, we spent a fair bit of time searching for the batteries to the remote and still haven't found Brian's glasses & I'd forgotten how tiny wee clothes can make such a massive pile of laundry.But it was such a joy to hear him chirping away in the morning, or to see him in his jammas, dragging his frog around while he kissed everyone goodnight, saying 'Bye-bye - Wub You'.

For three weeks, I have gotten to stop mid-task, for an 'UP'. I know very well that the jobs will still be there when the little arms aren't. That all too soon, they don't want UP - they want DOWN & OUT & AWAY. Having a tiny soul wrap his little arms around your neck & lay his wee head on your shoulder while he gently pats you on the back, is a moment in time that supersedes all else.

Sometimes when I held Gibson, I could close my eyes and be transported back to those days when I had little people in my life on a daily basis. Indeed, I did not take a moment for granted - I tried to hang on tight and keep them little for just awhile longer. But it didn't work. One minute my own were babes and the next moment they had babes. One minute I was a young mother and the next, I am a grandmother.

For his Halfy Birthday on Monday, (a year and a half, although he seems like it should have been his second for as well as he communicates with both words and sign language) ... Gibby got his new home. They spent their first night there on Saturday. We're back to just Brian & Abby & me. Sure they'll be back to visit lots, and in fact, they are only 6 minutes away - but it's not the same as having a waking-up/going-to-bed toddler. I was once accused of having so many children just so I could keep having a toddler in my life. I did in fact wonder how I would ever survive without one. Thank heavens for Grandbabes. Keep 'em comin':)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And this week in Ebay

Just in case you ever wonder ... as IF you would be ... this is what it looks like under Santa's duds. He's got a wire armature so he doesn't have to stay in the same position for his entire life. On top of that is polyester batting that has been needlefelted so he's firm. There are so many ways to do a body & I think I've done them all. This way is more time consuming, but once you've made a body like this, it's real hard to go back to any other way.

I built this guy around the cool skates that I found awhile back. They're resin but they look so real, like they've been around the rink many times. Gibson happened to have just the right funky socks, so he donated one to the cause. He still has one though & if he takes after his mother, he'll think un-matching socks are far more cool than two the same.

The other two pieces that I have on have little children and dogs. One is a hound - I named him Blue after our first dog, a Beagle. She was our first baby, long before the two legged ones started arriving.

The other dog is a Springer Spaniel - I love those dogs, they seem like they would be a very loyal, loving friend. This guy had to go up without the Santa, because it's been a little challenging to get my work done these last couple weeks, with a darling babe in the house. I have am soaking up and hanging on to these precious moments & squeezing the creating in between.