And climb the stairs to the beach...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Perfect Winter Morn

It's about 7:00 in the morning. Ed left for work about a half hour ago, wishing me luck with the full day of preparations I have ahead of me for our Christmas visitors arriving tonight.

Ed's younger son Joe and girlfriend Caitlin are coming to spend a few days. They live way down in Wilmington, NC and are coming in time for the Pats game at 7:00 tonight. They'll stay a few days, help Ed celebrate his birthday tomorrow and head off to Caitlin's parents' home for a few days in South Carolina. We are really grateful that they are traveling all this way and can't wait to see them.

We have the tree all decorated, and it looks really nice. But the big job of putting out the many Santas I  have for the annual Santa count we do with the grandkids hasn't even begun. Along with the other decorations for Christmas, the Santas are all still in their big plastic bins on the back deck, waiting to be freed for their big day. But back to this morning.

The scene is set. It's beginning to get light outside. I bypass the timer and turn on the lights on the tree which sparkle in the still, shadows of the early morning, reflecting the green and red ornaments. Christmas music is on the Bose, Rosemary Clooney singing I'll Be Home for Christmas is on now. There's a loaf of cinnamon chip bread in the oven and the aroma is divine. I pour myself a cup of steaming black coffee in my favorite Salmon Falls blueberry basket mug and the anticipation is building. There's nothing like a little bit of delayed gratification to make something even sweeter, and I don't mean the cinnamon bread. And now I am ready to begin...

...ironing the table napkins.

There is very little I like about housework, which probably comes as no surprise to most people who know me. But ironing table napkins is my favorite of all chores.

I only started using cloth napkins a few years ago, at Ed's request, who liked the idea of taking them to work in his lunch. Since then, it has become a guilty pleasure to go look for them in stores like Homegoods, Tuesday Mornings, TJ Maxx, etc., to search out the normally-expensive-on-sale-due-to-limited-availability-or-odd-lots, etc. cloth napkins. As a result, I have drawers full of beautiful and plain, dressy and everyday napkins on hand.

We don't go through them that fast here, just the two of us, and so they pile up in the laundry and then in the ironing pile. Some don't really need to be ironed, like Ed's gingham ones that practically iron themselves. But some really do need to be ironed and they sit folded in a canvas bin in the laundry room until just the right moment.

Other things sit in the laundry room waiting to be ironed may never make it to the ironing board. Like the summer blouses I still have hanging by the dryer. They have been waiting months, but between you and me, they will probably just go in the closet in the guest room all wrinkly until next spring when they'd need to be ironed again anyway even if they had been put up wrinkle-free.

Now folding warm towels right out of the dryer comes close to the satisfaction I get from ironing my table napkins. The pile of warm fluffy towels right out of the dryer, in which, I admit, I do sometimes bury my face and breathe in deeply, is something to be proud of and looks very impressive. (Hint for everyone out there, if you want to make your significant other happy, just put a towel in the dryer for 10 minutes before you hand it to her/him as he/she exits the shower/bath. What a luxury!But I digress.)

However, the process of ironing the napkins is all of that and more. It's transcendent and spiritual and very therapeutic. First, I dampen them with a spray bottle of water, thinking about that shaker bottle my mother used to use. But now, with a plastic spray bottle from the Dollar Store, I spray them all at once so there is a chaotic pile of slightly dampened napkins, from which I get to choose. And I choose the white cotton ones first. There are more of them than the others and they offer a certain challenge that I like.

Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I really get irritated when folding fitted sheets or things that don't line up just so. But, after a few washings, inexpensive table linens do lose their squareness. It becomes difficult to "kiss the corners" as my Godmother instructed me when teaching me how to fold laundry. But, laying the clean, white imperfect napkin completely unfolded, flat on the ironing board, I apply the steam iron, hot and ready, first to the center and work my way toward the hemmed edges. The steam wafts up to meet me and softly comes a scent similar to Clean Cotton, Fresh Linen and all those other scents we pay for at Bath and Body Works or Bed Bath and Beyond. But those aren't quite the same because the warm smell of freshly laundered, damp cotton just can't be duplicated.

I fold the napkin in half, horizontally, noticing that the right hand corner of the top layer doesn't meet the same on the bottom layer. But, not to worry. A bit of an adjustment, ironing the fold to a crease as sharp as a knife, and folding in half once again, the short side is invisible and there in front of me is a perfect, warm, slightly damp square.

One by one, they pile up and soon I have a lovely, satisfying, pile of perfect white squares. Then, I take on the others, not so often used, but delightful to look at. They are more square and less of a challenge to be sure, but nonetheless, satisfying in their completeness and in their numbers. I even iron the gingham ones, just to prolong my meditative state.

And while I iron these lovely singularly perfect hemmed squares I start to think of Deepak Chopra's radio show yesterday, which I seldom listen to because it's altogether so bizarre, usually. But I think of how he believes that we are all connected, one big collective consciousness, like a bee hive. And I think I may understand his theory better now. And maybe that's why piles of perfectly ironed and folded napkins are so satisfyingly wonderful and seem to speak to me. It's all of these individuals that alone aren't that great, but when they're all done, in one collective pile of napkins, it's something to behold.  Finally I can make some sense of Deepak.

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is on the Bose.
The kitchen timer just went off and the bread is out of the oven, all beautifully browned and ready to sample.

My coffee needs refilling now. The mood is slightly broken, but I look at the pile of napkins and think about all those bins on the back deck waiting to be tackled. And I wonder...

...which one has the Christmas napkins in it?

Have a fabulous day!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

When Holidays Collide


I don't know what is going on, but something happened to the month of November this year.  I have no idea where it went. It was as though I was knocked unconscious for 30 days. I remember changing the month on the calendar because orange isn't my favorite color, but I really liked this picture in spite of the color. But that's the last thing I remember with any clarity.
November by Janine Moore

I am sure that we had turkey at some point, and pie. And I have a vague recollection of going to Florida and of sending out birthday cards to the November birthday people. But I don't remember much else.
Tree is up. Boxes of ornaments outside on the deck.

Ed has been nagging me for a week to get the tree up but I kept resisting. "What are you talking about? I still have the pumpkin and the dead mums out front!" I finally gave in and we put the tree up yesterday, although it hasn't any ornaments on it yet. But in my own defense, I did begin the transition from Hanukkah blue to red and green claws on Maggie. She will look lovely by the time Christmas comes around.

She just has to shed one more blue nail before Maggie will be decked out for the season.

Our very thoughtful next door neighbor, Ron, brought us 2 Christmas CDs yesterday, just out of the blue. Wasn't that nice? We are lucky to have these folks as neighbors, that's for sure. Anyway, the CDs are great and they are peaceful and soothing and calming. In fact one is called Peaceful Christmas. No Ho Ho Hos or Grandmas Getting Run over by Reindeer on these. Just nice quiet instrumentals, great for reflecting on the season. Combined with the lighted tree and the poinsettias I bought today, I definitely felt the Christmas spirit starting to percolate.

Then Maggie started chewing on the poinsettias and as I chased her into the next room, I noticed the Halloween decorations still in the guest bedroom windows. That sort of blew the mood for the moment while I stood there shaking my head trying to figure out if I had blacked out for a month.

This evening, I changed the calendar again, albeit a week late. December already seems to be flying by. Only 17 days until Christmas. Sheesh! So, tomorrow, I will get rid of the pumpkin and the dead mums, find a place to hide those Halloween decorations and maybe finish my on-line shopping. I suppose we should decorate the tree now that it's up. Maybe Thursday, after I write my Henrietta blog. I am beginning to wonder if this will all be a blur by the time it's over or if I can figure out a way to live in the moment these next 17 days.

December by Janine Moore

A friend of mine once told me that you know you are getting old when Christmas seems to come twice a year. I wasn't sure what he meant at the time. But now that it seems like Halloween and Christmas come in the same month, I think I know what he was getting at.

Have a great day and let me be the first to wish y'all a Happy Valentine's Day.


*I buy this art calendar every year, one for me and one for my friend Ruth who was the first one to buy it for me years ago. It's by an artist from Maine named Janine Moore. I think I did a blog about her once. Anyway, you can get one by clicking HERE. There are several choices by a few artists, but I love the flowers. They make great gifts, too.

*I buy this calendar every year for me and my friend Ruth who was the first one to buy it for me years ago. It's by an artist from Maine, Janine Moore. I think I did a blog about her once. Anyway, you can get them by clicking HERE. There are several choices on this site by a few artists, but I love the flowers. They make great gifts, too.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit and Catalogs Catalogs Catalogs

Morning Folks and Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit!

Ed and I returned home last night from 8 days of visiting relatives and friends in Florida. It was a whirlwind trip but we were able to see Ed's brother Bob and his wife Susan, in The Villages, Ed's sister Kathy and her husband George in Kissimmee, our friend Ruth in Sarasota and my Dad and Inez in Naples. Ed got in 3 rounds of golf, I did some shopping and we both got to Siesta Key beach for the day with Ruth.

We couldn't fit in all our Florida friends and fam, but we squeezed in what we could. I don't really want to talk about the food we ate all week. Let's just say we were thankful for it while we were eating it, but not so thankful this morning on the scale.

Something else that appeared in large numbers upon our return home, was 7 days of catalogs! Now, I do order a lot of things online but only occasionally from catalogs. And, I know that I have never ordered anything from half of the companies that send them to our home.

I guess I started to notice the catalogs building in numbers around Halloween. Could have been a little earlier. But come the beginning of December they all come crashing in like a Tsunami every week. They end up on the kitchen counter, precariously stacked, each one a different size prohibiting a neat pile, waiting for us to go through them. And they are slippery, making them unruly and unmanageable when they reach that tipping point. Do I stack them by size or by company? Always a problem. I don't want to throw duplicates away, even though I have 4 LL Bean catalogs, just in case something on sale in one of them isn't on sale in another.

I do like to look through Wireless, Brookstone, Plow and Hearth and all those gadgety ones. And I always look at the food ones like Figi and Harry and David, The Popcorn Factory and Dancing Deer, but seldom buy anything from those companies. This year we got one from National Geographic that looks intriguing. And a new one from The Red Box and Pajama Gram. Can't wait to look at that one! Fine Jewelry from the Danbury Mint is always a keeper. LL Bean, Land's End and Vermont Country Store are probably responsible for a good percentage of the pile. I guess those companies are headquartered in states with lots of trees.

But, some of them just go right into the recycling bin like Victoria's Secret. They never have very good sales and besides, I have all the thongs and teddies I need. I don't think most of my friends would want me to send them a bra or a pair of panties. (I threw that word "panties" in just for niece Joanna. She hates that word. And so do I. Let's see if she responds. That way I'll know if she's reading my blog.)

So, I bought these fabulous fabric bins that work really well in my laundry room to hide things like the Bounce and spot remover and all of Maggie's stuff. I can even hide my ironing in them on the shelf above the washer and dryer. Anyway, there's one size that works really well for these catalogs. And now, that's full to the brim.

I just don't know when we are going to get the chance to go through them all. I guess I will have to put them in a strategic location making them convenient whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Have a great day!


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