Christmas Pleasures

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A few years back, my husband decided to challenge himself by creating a beautiful pastel using angels and things around the house and yard.  He brought in boughs and rose cones from our backyard cedar.   I collected some angels, candles, and ornaments and organized the still life.  It took him days (weeks?) to do the pastel, but once framed, takes center stage over the mantle each Christmas.

As we unpack the angels, my favorite task is to dress the mantle.  I like to place the three angels used in the still life near his art piece.

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I remember sharing last year’s mantel in this blog. (Added it below)  It is about the same….little changes.  But still I keep the three angels nestled around the pastel my husband lovingly created for our home.

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August Skies

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August is one of my favorite months in this neck of the woods.  The summer days are still long and shooting stars come out to play.  As is clear, stars are the theme for the mantel.

My favorite meteor shower happens mid-August when Perseid tosses handfuls of shooting starts in every direction.  Even with clear nights, we have to travel a bit to get away from the city lights to get the best views.  One year we popped an air mattress in the bed of the truck along with blankets and drove out of town.  What a great view.  Our conversation would  be interrupted with “there’s one” or “over there” with a response of “missed it” or “saw it.”

Clouds are the nemesis when it comes to star gazing and you never know when they are going to spoil the party.

Hubs and I have also tried to catch other celestial events.  One morning we arose at 3:00 AM and carried our deck chairs to the front yard and set them for viewing.  So, we’re wrapped in blankets near the street at 3:00 in the morning….looking up.

A police car drives by very slowly…  We grin and wave.  They slow down more and ask if we were “okay.”  We try to explain how we are waiting for an alignment of three planets in the southern sky.  They just shook their heads and moved on.  We sat there like a couple of kids giggling in our blankets.

One of my favorite memories happened at work years ago, when I taught at an alternative high school.  The science teacher set everything up outside the small school, preparing for students to experience a solar eclipse.  As a nerd, I was very excited to see one with a real scientist narrating what was happening.  The students spilled out of the building and were given safety instructions, etc.  Then clouds filled the skies. Drat. We waited, hoping to see at least a little of the eclipse.  Nothing.  More and more clouds.

“We did all this work and it didn’t happen,” I complained to the science teacher who had worked so hard to set it up.

“Oh, it happened,” he stated.  “We just didn’t see it.”

Somehow that has stayed with me for years.  What a tiny speck I am and how big the universe.  Just because I didn’t see something, it did not keep it from happening.  Of course.  There are celestial actions and reactions that happen all the time.  We just catch a tiny fraction of the beauty.  But when we do, it is indeed a thrill.

4th of July

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Time for a mantel upgrade.  Big fixin’s on the 4th.  It’s a double celebration.  My daughter-in-law was born on the 4th.  How great is that.  Of course as a child she figured all those parades and fireworks were for her.

We were lucky enough to have four generations of family and friends. The water balloon fight was in the back yard. We then feasted on the usual outdoor grill fare.  After dinner, we honored the birthday gal with a song and the opening of gifts. Next a private firework show.

In Oregon, it’s against the law to have flying fire works.  Most of the “showers” are placed on the ground.  Someone came up with the idea of putting them on a ladder.  Oh, you cannot believe what a difference it made.  We clapped, ooooooded and ahhhhhhed until we were done. What fun!

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Time for a change…

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Through the seasons I’ve been sharing my mantel place with you.  For years, I only had two mantel decorations.  One was Christmas, and the other was for the remaining 11 months of the year.  I’m the type of decorator who does not change a great deal.  I set up the room, and then it’s that way for the next several decades.  Birthday cards or flowers come and go….but it mostly stays the same.

The last few years I’ve noticed a change.  For some unknown reason, I’ve wanted to reflect either the seasons outside or the mood within.

Outside my window the rhododendrons and azaleas paint most lawns with amazing colors from pale pink to blood red.  Trees bloom, and the irises amaze.  I have bamboo and azaleas from the front yard, but the rest in warm browns.

 

To the left is an elephant and baby made from clay by my husband.  While he usually likes to do representational art, the clay pods to the right are hand made by him as well.

In the center is a beautiful art piece in steel given to us by a dear friend and art lover, Peg Pink.

 

A hope for spring

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I’ve been sharing my decorated fireplace mantel over the last few seasons…fall to winter to spring.

Bunnies, chicks, and eggs celebrate March and maybe a little April.

Outside is rainy and windy, very un-spring-like, if you ask me.  So inside, I decorate and pretend it is already spring.  I drag out my ‘spring’ container and start organizing.  I incorporate some seasonal platters, gifts, and plates.  Instead of buying more, I try to go around the house and see what else I can include.  I carefully display my grandmother’s sun hat. The garden hand rake is my dad’s and reminds me of his love for gardening.