Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January tea

 Second Saturday of the month - it's time for another tea party.  This is such a joy for me.  I love using my nice china, and linens.  I love baking ladylike dainties.  Setting a pretty table and keeping the cups filled, listening to the music of all these happy, intelligent, talented, warm-hearted women enjoying one another fills me with such joy. Cleaning up afterwards, sending leftovers home to the kids and husbands, washing and drying cups and saucers, matching them up and putting them away - it's a kind of a prayer for me.  It's thanks and worship and praise all in one.
I love matching eccentric cups, plates napkins and glasses together.  And tea-cozies?  I have two baskets full of tea-cozies.   And more planned. Sewn and knitted tea-cozies are wonderful!


And oh how I love my hand-painted china!

 Linda and Linda wound up sitting together, both wearing purple tops with green collars.


The theme for today's tea was citrus.  A lemon-yellow tablecloth with lime,lemon, and tangerine napkins.  Lemon blossom cupcakes, coconut macaroons with lime glaze, chocolate thumbprint cookies with orange marmalade, and roast chicken wings with pineapple glaze.  Beth brought orange soda bread with clove/honey/butter.  We drank English Breakfast tea, and coffee; limeade and cranberry/apple juice.





There were 13 of us, and I could still get around the table with the teapot!  I love having the table in the big room and the tv in the smaller room.  With the second table set up at the end, I can seat as many as 16.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Chinese Garden

Right now, the Chinese Garden is asking a donation of non-perishable food for the local food bank, in lieu of admission.  So Maggie came by and swept me away.



We walked in just as a tour was starting, so we trailed along behind the docent who was fascinating.  Every docent has his or her own particular focus on the garden.  This one kept pointing out the yin and yang: underfoot were designs set with smooth stones and rough stones, straight lines and curves, light stones and dark stones.  The garden juxtaposes live plants with smooth walls; trees with stones, still water with a waterfall; low grasses and tall bamboos; natural with manmade.


One of the joys of the garden is the fact that, although it is in the middle of downtown, it is a serene, enclosed place of peace.  You can see office buildings looming around above the walls.  You can hear the police sirens, and the the rumble of busses, but centered peace just oozes from the very walls and brings your focus to a zen-like tranquility.
In spite of the wintery weather, there were plants in bloom.  Wintersweet and edgeworthia perfumed the air as did winter jasmine.  And the early-blooming camellias  brought in luscious touches of color and velvety texture.     
                             

The docent was fascinating, but after a while, it got too cold to just stand around listening, so we ditched the tour and went to the tea house for a warm-up.  Maggie had Jasmine pearls, and I had strong fire tea. (Yum.  Rich, dark,oolong with almost a nutty flavor.) and we shared a moon cake.  There was a gentleman playing a stringed instrument with a bow downstairs.  It was lovely.  Either I am developing an ear for Chinese music, or it was music particularly suited to Westerners, because I enjoyed every note and interval.  We made our way upstairs and managed to score a seat by a south window.  The clouds thinned as we sat there, sipping, nibbling, enjoying the peace, and some weak January sunshine filtered through to kiss our cheeks.    One of those transcendent still spots in life when the wonder of reality parts the veils and kicks your butt with awareness.  My mind is too tiny to hold it all, or even a part of it all, for long, but I do appreciate it when it hits.

Monday, January 05, 2015

And for the new year . . .

First Monday of the new year I was called to jury duty, and I was actually looking forward to it.  On the first Monday of the month. our county court selects grand jury members, which means you serve five days a week for the month, up to 8 hours a day.  I was looking forward to the pay($25 a day) and the experience.  However, just like 90% of the people called, I was not selected.  So I have completed my civic duty for the next two years, just by showing up and being willing.  And they will pay me $10 to cover my expenses. ($5 for a day's parking.)

It was interesting to hear the reasons people had for being excused.  One woman was self-employed, running a nursery.  If she was unable to work for 40 hours of every week in January, she would ". . . be unable to put food on the table or pay the mortgage."  Another woman said she would be unable to deal with domestic violence cases.  She was nearly in tears.  And a guy was scheduled to fly to Japan tomorrow to manage his company's branch office.  Yep, I would say those are valid reasons for excusing people.  I would have been glad to take their places, but I was not chosen.  Sigh.

So I am free to nap, knit, play with knives, or spend hours at the sewing machine.  But first, I MUST write my Christmas thank you notes.  I'm such a bad rude person!!

The photo, by the way, is of my hand-spun, jello-dyed, original design poncho and hat.  It's oh so cozy, but may have had something to do with why I wasn't selected.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

just to keep blogging

Today is clear, sunny, and cold enough to freeze your nose hairs.  Add to that, a wind that will produce frostbite on exposed skin within half an hour.  It's a lovely day to sit inside in your jammies, next to a window, and sip hot beverages.  And that is pretty much what we're doing.  I had a nightmare last night that the furniture was transforming into malevolent robots, and I was furious at the betrayal of our Lazy Boys, so I shrieked in fury and went for them with my steel knitting needles. I don't know who won, though, because Kyle woke me up.  Evidently I was screaming in my sleep, fit to scare a banshee.  He tucked me into his embrace and I dropped right back to sleep, but he found it a lot harder to find dreamland.  So now, he is snoozing in the Lazy Boy, making up for his hours on guard duty.

I have been shopping for sock yarn, because my great nephew in the navy has requested hand-knit socks.  I don't enjoy knitting socks, but for this sweet boy, no problem.  I think I will go with Knit Picks Stroll.  Merino and nylon and lots of colors.  I'm thinking I'll also make a double-knit cap with navy blue on one side, and electric neon brights on the other, and a sedate lattice to hold the inside and outside together.

It was great to see the nephew, his wife and their kids and the kids'  sweeties.  I may have to knit the nephew a bright, bright hat, because he likes bright, bright stuff.  A couple of the sweeties are from Arizona, and they are having a ball in the deep snow.  They are also splitting wood because the only heat source in the cabin is the fireplace.  And then there is the fun of driving over gravel roads in two foot deep snow.  Oh, it's an education for those girls.

Other than hibernating, we have nothing scheduled for the day.  Maybe I should finish my latest story for writer's group.  Or maybe a little nap?  Just a teensy little nap?  God I LOVE being retired!  I am so very good at sloth.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Almost NewYears

The memorial service for Chris was perfect.  Lots of good memories.  Lots of old friends.  The thing about funerals and weddings is that you will meet people you haven't seen for twenty years.  You might not recognize them right off, but as soon as they tell you who they are, your heart leaps with all the old joy.

And people you have never known will share a side of your loved ones that you didn't know existed.  Wouldn't it be grand to bring all these people together for a party without having some big, stress-filled reason to do it?  There's a limit to the number of weddings you can have.

We got up early (5AM) and headed over the pass, and it's a darn good thing we did, too.  I hate driving in snow under the best conditions.  I got a few photos of the road (Thank God Kyle doesn't mind driving in snow.)When the snow squalls blew in and the visibility dropped to ten feet or so, I just closed my eyes and knit faster.  I know, there are lots of intrepid folks who don't think this is any sort of weather. or road conditions to remark on.  My mother-in-law in LosAngeles is freezing because the outside temperature is clear down to 60 degrees.  It's all a question of what you're used to, and I have no intention of getting used to snow.




It's about 150 miles from our house to my brother's house in Redmond.  It took us five and a half hours to drive home(not counting the 40 minutes we stopped for breakfast).  There were times between the squalls when the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. On the flats beyond Warm Springs, early morning sunshine broke through a rift in the clouds and shone slantwise, all buttery yellow across the junipers and sagebrush, with a background of solid blue-black snow squalls behind.
We had to get back to Portland because our annual Holiday party was happening at noon.  My dear, dear friends, Lynn and Katy Baker had agreed to be our deputies in case we ran late. We made it with time to change clothes and box up the scarves I had knitted for them, and met them at the hotel before anyone else arrived.  Another good party with good friends.  We  ate, drank, talked and sang Christmas carols in four part harmony.  They chased us out at 4PM andEveryone went home happy and full of goodness.




I have no intention making New Year's resolutions.  I have enough ongoing projects. I'm still learning to be patient, generous, and open-minded.  I'm 8 pounds away from my goal weight.  Much as I love walking, I still have trouble forcing myself to put down the computer, get off my lazy duff, and go outside.  It's so good for me for so many reasons, but my personal inertia is significant.

I hope to write more, which means more blogging.  A blog post, no matter how disjointed and pointless, is still a good way to prime the scrivener's pump.  I really do enjoy writing.  I just have to stay out of the black hole that is Facebook.  I'm not going to give it up, though.  I have connected with so many friends, old and new on Face book.  I just need to develop some - oh, what is that word?  It's something I don't have much of or even want, although I need it.  Umm - self,  self something.  Self . . . discipline!  That's it!  I need to develop just a little self discipline.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday the 27th Dec.

On Friday we drove across the pass, in the snow, to share in our nephew's memorial service.  I really hate driving in snow.

But by the time we cleared the rain shadow, the pavement was bare and dry, though the temps remained below freezing.  Driving across the flats on the reservation was breathtakingly beautiful.  Someone is keeping horses and cattle in the fields next to the highway, and they made beautiful pictures as they meandered through the sagebrush.  Crackling blue skies, long winter shadows, and all the surrounding hills snowy white.  Still, even though I had to pee, I didn't want to stop and expose my tender bits to the frost.

We stopped in Madras and had a nice long chat with my niece Cheryl and her husband Tom.  She runs Cup-N-Cake, a coffee shack just off the highway.  She made us yummy drinks. I asked for hot black tea with orange syrup, and pineapple jellies.  It was wonderful!! Kyle had a vanilla mocha. And  she gave us cupcakes. Kyle had fudge with chocolate frosting.  I had a maple bar cupcake.  OMG!  I'm addicted.

Then we stopped by my brother Chuck's house.  With all the family here, and friends coming and going, it was a scene of modified pandemonium.  And, since Chuck is going deaf, the noise level was stunning.  I discovered the joys of a quiet fifteen minutes alone in the bathroom.  I sort of didn't want to leave it.  But, I'm a grownup, so I girded my loins, and made way for the next refugee.

a few of us took a walk.  That was a blessing, too.  Cold air, sunshine, relative quiet.  That feeling like someone has taken a brick off your heart for a few minutes.  We're not morose.  This memorial will be a celebration of Chris's life, and he lived it to the fullest.  But there is a strong undercurrent of grief and tension.  So damn many decisions to make.  So damn many details to tend to.  So damn many unanswered questions.  I'm so glad we have a hotel room to retreat to.

We're staying at Eagle Crest Lodge, between Redmond and Sisters.  We got checked into our room, then drove back to Redmond to eat.  I was lost.  This town where I spent the first 15 years of my life has changed completely, doubled in size, and sprawled all over the surrounding hills.  In the dark, with Christmas lights everywhere, I was dazzled!  I couldn't even tell when we drove past the house I grew up in, because there has been so much construction around it.  The street layout has changed.  There's a shopping center where our neighbors down the hill used to live.  Damn these changes.  How dare they do all this while I wasn't looking?  It's disorienting to return to familiar territory which is no longer familiar.

So, strange bed, strange room. The first night away from home is always unsettled. You can hear people flush the toilet in the next room.  The drunken partiers return to their rooms in great glee, singing all the way down the hall. "I want to swing from the chandeleee--eeer, the chandelier-eeer!" Needless to say, it was not a restful night.  And now, the skiers are up and dragging their kids, dogs and equipment out to make an early start on it.  And since they were disturbed by the partiers, they are showing no mercy, calling down the length of the hall,  "Kelsey, don't forget your mittens.  And Cody, leave that Gameboy in the room.  We are going to have a wonderful family day outside in the fresh air and you are not going to spend the whole time playing games."

But I'm getting hungry, so even though Kyle is finally catching some ZZs, I'm about ready togo forage for breakfast.  (He sleeps best in the morning.  My chicken blood kicks in, and I'm wide awake from about 5 AM on.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

December doings

Second Saturday of the month I hold a tea party.  Sort of a Christmas theme this month with my usual eccentric collection of china.  There was gingerbread with lemon curd and yogurt cheese.  There were chicken salad sandwiches with hazelnuts and Granny Smith apples.  There were sugar cookies with peppermint frosting, and hazelnut meringues, and rum balls in five different variations.  And Tamara brought a huge batch of her phenomenal biscotti, still warm from the oven.  We feasted.  We laughed.  It was especially comforting to me this month because I have just lost a dear nephew in a car crash, and I need the affirmation that life goes on.  I changed this kid's diapers.  He was supposed to take care of our generation in our dotage. In case of the zombie apocalypse, Kyle and I were going to go live with Chris at the cabin because Chris could do anything!  He was a sharpshooter and a skilled bow hunter, a logger, a mechanic, a knowledgeable tree-farmer, a welder, a damn fine father and a kind-hearted man who would do the hard things that needed to be done.   It's hard to say goodbye to the younger generation.

Chris was 52.  He was a semi-pro bull-rider in his wild youth.  His son is 12.  It's a damn shame that Chris won't be around to help him through the teens.

But Chris is in heaven with God.   All the aches and pains and sorrows of broken bones and broken hearts and mistakes made are behind him now.  He is with his mom, singing and dancing and waiting for the rest of us with love.

I wish I had more chances to hear him sing.  I wish I could dance with him again.  I'm glad I told him how proud I am of him in the Christmas card I sent to him.  I hope he got the Christmas cookies.  There is so much to be done now, and nothing I can do to help.  Blessings on his sister who is handling everything, and blessings on his dad who lost his best friend.


And life goes on.  This tea party is a regular event and it was good to have something positive to focus on while I wrapped my heart around the hole that is left.  As you can see, I am favoring the hand-painted plates right now.  Unique, quirky, and playful.  We hit an estate sale on the 14th and I picked up some hand-painted Japanese china that was likely sent home to a young wife by a lad stationed over there after the war.  I wish I knew the stories it could tell.  Six saucers and three cups, all thin as eggshell.  I also picked up a couple of the pressed glass plates that used to come in boxes of powdered soap.  I saw a woman pick one up, hold it up to the light, scowl at it and put it down.  So I had to look, too.  There were scratches on the surface, just as if it had actually been used by real people to hold a real meal.  I like it much better because of that.  Something that had been put in a cupboard and never touched wouldn't have near as much charm.

We also got our Christmas tree yesterday.  Woohoo!  As I was decorating it, I remembered the first tree my first husband and I had.  His parents had come to spend the holiday with us, and she and I were dressing the tree.  After a while, she said, "I think that's enough ornaments now."  I was flummoxed.  Enough ornaments?  That's not how you do a tree.  You put on the lights, then you hang every ornament you own, then you go through your coat pockets, the bottoms of all of your purses, and the sofa cushions till you scrape up enough cash, and you go out and buy one more box of ornaments.  One year when I was a college student, a roommate liberated a stapler from the school library,(we returned it when it was empty) and we made paper chains with the colored pages out of magazines.  We borrowed the neighbor guy's tin snips and cut spirals out of can lids to twirl and catch the light.  We even hung necklaces and earrings up to make it shiny.  How can you have "Enough" ornaments on a Christmas tree?

I now have a collection of Margaret Furlong porcelain angels, so I look for hearts and angels when I get new things for the tree. There are paper hearts and red Fimo hearts and glass hearts.  There are cardboard angels and resin angels.

Did you know that cat urine will strip the colored paint right off your glass ornaments?  We had an old cat that marked the lower branches of the tree the first Christmas he was with us.  (We put the tree  safely up on a small table for the rest of Bosco's life.)  I took the ornaments with the paint peeling away, scrubbed them in bleach water, then said, "OK, what do you do with plain glass ornaments?"
I spray-painted them white and drew angel faces on them.  So there are little faces peeking out between the branches all over the tree.

It's going to be a quiet, thoughtful holiday this year (I sincerely hope!)  May yours be filled with love and laughter (Laughter is a survival tool) and may God hold you in the palm of his hand.  Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, right NOW.  Accidents happen anywhere, at any time.