Monday, December 29, 2008


It was great to be able to do some sewing for Christmas. There is something about giving a homemade gift that is different from all other gift giving. I fret about size, color, and appropriateness much more than I do over a purchased gift. But I also have the recipient in mind on a different level--kind of a meditative "holding in prayer" type of feeling as I sew for them. Here are a few of the things I finished this year:

This is an apron for Jadyn, to be kept at my sister Arlene's house. They always bake together, so she needs her very own apron at Grandma's.

This vest is for Arlene. I have lost track of how many of these I have made over the years. I also made something else for Arlene's birthday on January 6th, but I can't post a picture of it until she opens it. :-)
One night while the kids were out I made a vest for Piper. This dog loves clothes. I also made the scarf for her while she was waiting for Katie to load the car.
Here are the tree skirts I started for Nate and Katie LAST Christmas, and finally finished in July. (I showed Nate his then put it back in the cupboard until he's a bit more settled. Katie used hers this year.)

...Christmas at our house

The kids are gone, the house is quiet, and I'm spending the day resting and puttering. I haven't been outside except to put the garbage to the curb, and haven't talked to anyone except Kathryn who stopped by for a cup of tea. It's good to have a quiet day after all the hubbub of having Nate and Katie home. They were here for 9 days--days filled with talking and laughing and teasing and playing and cooking and baking and laundry and dishes. I love having them here, and I love the quiet when they are gone. The kids connected with old school friends on several occasions, and Katie's boyfriend Matt drove up from Portland for one night. Piper (Katie's dog) kept us entertained because she thinks she's a child. So here are some photos of our time together. I didn't take nearly enough.

Kathryn stopped by on Christmas day and spent several hours with us playing board games and talking. We had so much fun together! She took this family picture for us. I am bummed that I didn't think to get a Christmas picture of her!Katie and her boyfriend, Matt, just before they left for Portland. I should not have had them pose in front of the looks like Katie has a growth or an interesting hairdo!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


One of the benefits of all this snow has been the opportunity to go snowshoeing--something I haven't done in about 20 years. Last week my friend Kathryn invited me to a Solstice party out at a vineyard in Echo. The owners of the vineyard were there with their children and grandchildren, sledding, snowboarding, and hanging out at the fire. What a fun time!

Friday, December 19, 2008

...too much of a good thing

OK, so I wanted it to snow. Enough for school to be cancelled. And I got my wish. It has been wonderful to sew, sew, sew the last two days. I am nervously waiting for my kids to get here from Portland. We had planned to travel over the mountain as soon as they got here to see my folks in Cove. I've had tripcheck up on the computer screen all day and keep looking at the pictures...and Cabbage doesn't look good. My sister is bravely making her way from Boise (the roads look better on her end).'s looking like we are going to miss the family get-together and gift exchange. As long as my kids make it safely home I can handle missing it this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

...a gift of a day

Last night, before I even had my lunch made for today or my clothes laid out the phone call came: "No school tomorrow." The phone barely clicked off before I let out a "Yippeeeee!" Today wasn't a snow day. More of a "cold" day. Here in NE Oregon it's usually so mild that we don't need a lot of layers to go outside. But when snow does fall and the temperature dips below zero, it's not safe for kids to be outside in the dark waiting for the bus--they just don't have the right clothing. But...actually yesterday felt more like a blizzardy stay-at-home kind of day. So when the call came last night, it was a gift. A day to make apple sauce, visit with my friend Ron who was staying for a few days, and sew. More snow is in the forecast, and it's still pretty darned cold outside. Who knows what the decision will be for the rest of the week? I am happy to have had this day just to "be" and get some Christmas sewing done. And I'm hoping my students were snug and warm in their homes.

Chasse has never owned a doggie shirt. She hasn't worn clothing since she was a puppy and Katie dressed her up in doll clothes. But she was shivering today, so I put an old fleece of mine on her. She wasn't sure at first....

...but soon decided that it felt pretty good to carry a blanket around with her.

My sewing project for the day, all cut out and ready to go:

Applesauce simmering on the stove. Yum.

My good friend Ron, just before he left for his son's in Portland.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

...Oh Christmas Tree

It's been driving me crazy that the tree wasn't up yet and the house wasn't decorated. Finally, today was the day. Knick knacks were taken down, everything dusted well, furniture rearranged, and...ahhhh...NOW I have the spirit! :-) Joy to the World!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I got a case of the giggles thinking about all the names, words, and phrases that are exclusive to my family. I almost got up and blogged right then but reason prevailed. I couldn't wait to get home today to write everything down. I believe all families have their own family-speak--intimate shorthand language that makes no sense to others but communicates volumes to those "in the know." Some of ours go way back, to when my mom was a child (who else calls the bump on the back of a sweater caused by being hung on a hook an "eddie?")

When my kids were little if I hollered, "I need a hug!" on a Sunday morning they would come racing into my room and pile on the bed with me. Usually a "tickle-pickle" ensued. We would play and tickle each other until it was time to get up and get moving. (They recently told me they used to try to keep it going as long as possible so I'd forget about church.) If someone, usually Nate, snuck up on the others and started tickling, the victim would scream, "No tickling in Spanish!" Why? Who remembers! If it happened to be a cold and rainy day we would dump Nate's Legos out on the living room floor and have a "lego pig-out" which meant we did nothing but build all day. From the time she was little, if Katie wanted something she would sing-song, "I'll be your best fwend!" Every now and then one of us will say it to the other when trying to convince them of something. On our drive to BC recently we passed a certain campsite, and I said "Camp Kiwana" in a funny voice. Nate and I shared a laugh. For whatever reason, years ago we thought it sounded funny and made up a strange little song about it. Now we can't pass that bend in the road without remembering. I know there are more...tuck in time, doing advent, why can't you be normal?...the three of us know exactly what is meant by those words. Lines from movies. Songs. We can sing all the verses of Good King Wenceslas. For whatever reason it is "our" Christmas carol.

Then there are the names we have for each other:

Katherine Suzanne became....Katie-kate, Katie bird, Kadidle, Katrinka (grandpa calls her that), Petunia (also grandpa), Boopsie, Baby cakes, Kathy McKatherson (by Nate to annoy--and it does), Kate-head (also to annoy)

Nathan Rolland became...Nater, Natie, Natie-boy, Nate-head (pay back), NRol (by Katie also to annoy), Neifi (neighbors couldn't pronounce 'th' and now I call him that), Scooter (grandpa's name for him)

I was called....Mommo, Mommio, Mama, Mommers, Mamacita, Mam, Madre

Chasse the dog (pronounced Shaw-see) was called....shawba, shawba-dawba, shawba-ding-dong-louie, louie, shawbers, shawshaw-boo, buddah (Nate--why? Who knows?), buddah's belly, belly, old girl

Kiki the cat (who died at 17 right before I sold the house) was called...Kikidiki, Keek, Keekers

Family-speak. What's yours?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Nate texted me earlier today and told me that I needed to find something to read aloud at the dinner table tomorrow. I thought he was joking. Nope. We've been invited to join his girlfriend Genevieve and her family for Thanksgiving dinner, and the (English teacher) hostess has a tradition--everyone reads something aloud. Oh dear. It's not enough that I'm meeting new people and wondering how dressed up I should I have to READ something! But what? I've been asking friends for advice. Jacque favors humor, Lorin likes poetry, and Lisa said she'd have to think about it. So...I sat down at the computer and googled Thanksgiving poems, jokes, and true stories. M'eh. Nothing caught my attention. Then I remembered a poem about learning English. How appropriate for an ESL teacher? I didn't find the exact poem that I have on file at school (and I don't want to take the time to go dig it out) so I'm going to read the following, written by Lord Cromer (whoever he was!) in 1902.

Our Strange Lingo

When the English tongue we speak.
Why is break not rhymed with freak?
Will you tell me why it's true
We say sew but likewise few?
And the maker of the verse,
Cannot rhyme his horse with worse?
Beard is not the same as heard
Cord is different from word.
Cow is cow but low is low
Shoe is never rhymed with foe.
Think of hose, dose,and lose
And think of goose and yet with choose
Think of comb, tomb and bomb,
Doll and roll or home and some.
Since pay is rhymed with say
Why not paid with said I pray?
Think of blood, food and good.
Mould is not pronounced like could.
Wherefore done, but gone and lone -
Is there any reason known?
To sum up all, it seems to me
Sound and letters don't agree.

...feeling thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day...a day to give thanks. I've always liked the idea of sharing what we're thankful for on T day...and this year I'm going to borrow Fatty's idea (fatcyclist blog) and list the people I am thankful for:

My children--Nate and Katie--They have become such wonderful, caring individuals. They make me laugh, they keep me honest, and they make me proud to be their mom.

My mom and dad--they love me, what more can I say?

My sister Arlene--my cooking hotline! We weren't friends as kids--she was the bossy big sister and I was the blind little kid who couldn't do anything. I am so glad we got to know each other and became such good friends.
My friends--I can be myself with them, blurt anything that's on my heart and they listen. Really listen, without judging.
My students--I love these kids! I would have burned out on teaching long ago if, every once in awhile, I didn't have a group of kids like I have this year.

My family--we're a mixed bunch--differing politics, religious beliefs, and life experiences, but there for me if I ever need them.

My great-niece Jadyn--she is such a delight to all of us who know and love her!

This list (and accompanying photos) is incomplete...I am thankful for my coworkers, my biking buddies, the friendly lady at the grocery store this morning, president-elect Obama, the mailman, my dentist, Candy in Mexico, my friend Maribel, my godson Cristian, my kayaking buddy Ron...this could go on forever... Thank you to everyone who has ever been in my life for one reason or another. Thanks!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Dear God, Please take the soul and spirit of this dear departed one into the sweetest corner of Your mind, the most tender place in Your heart, that he, and we, might be comforted. Goodbye, Rolly. We will miss you. Thank you for being in my life, and for loving us so very much. Nate, Katie and I had so hoped to get to feel your hugs one last time over Thanksgiving vacation, but it is not to be. You filled our memory banks to the brim with love and laughter over the years. You taught us how to cheat at cards (haha!), and always had stories to tell. Nate treasures the time two years ago when you told him about your WWII experience, even though it was difficult for you. You have taught him so much about being a man. I bet you didn't even realize it, did you? Katie remembers the annual trek to the Go-carts--you always stood at the fence, watching them with a big grin on your face, and it was easy to get you to pay for another turn. I remember you taking coffee to Em every morning, and I can't pass a perfectly manicured lawn without thinking of you. So many memories...thank you!