~Living a life of sophisticated domestication deep in the heart of Texas~

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Best wishes for a wonderful 2011.....

The Lily&Hope Den Cam link is here, for those who wish to have a peek at our bears....

Shawn & SGTex

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The merry year is born....

....like the bright berry from the naked thorn. ~Hartley Coleridge
Okay, I must confess, when I found a new year's quotation that mentioned the word "berry," I went googling for raspberry pictures, and here we are. :+) Or perhaps it's the raspberry Milano cookies SGTex brought home from the store the other evening, lol.
Today, especially, I have been thinking about 2011 and what is in store. One of our Facebook friends posted this morning on the subject:
"‎2011: another 3,153,600 seconds for me to ______." After thinking about it for a few minutes, I filled in the blank with "live like I'm dying." Well, that's what I mean to do. I would imagine that my score on that little test will be in the low-to-mid 60s, what do you bet? Yeah... Perhaps that's because I'm kindasorta coming down (or up, perhaps) off a day that was quite less than perfect, so my mood is a bit tentative. I was telling SGTex the other day about Dorothy A, (Remember way back when, and I posted about the Dorothys in my life?) She'd say, "This day God hath not made!" when things weren't as they should be for her. It helped, lol.
But here and now it's my today, and the sun is shining brightly and the breeze is just about as perfect as I've ever had it 'breeze' here in Texas. Our mood is a little lighter and things aren't so awfully bad, after all. You know how that is, I'm pretty sure.
So, here we are with 2010 drawing to a close. If you're anything like me, and should you have a list of resolutions, some of those might entail what you/I didn't actually get around to finishing--or even starting, lol. I think just to be able to X some of those items off the list as the first few months go by will give me a sense of accomplishment, and that must be a good thing. Our year was absolutely crammed full of events, mainly surrounding the wedding. Every once in awhile I'm still a bit surprised when I think about the fact that it's behind us and not ahead of us, and now we're on to making new, happy plans for the new year.
I'll always hold a special place in my heart for 2010...but I've been kinda like that since 2005....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Texas....

Just stopping by on a wet and chilly Christmas Eve to say that we hope everyone, everywhere has an exceptionally happy holiday!
Best wishes from both of us~

Shawn & SGTex
Sebastian, Seamus & Sasha

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beannachtaí Grianstad an Gheimhridh!

Winter Solstice Greetings!

Last evening SGTex and I were out on the town and he stopped to harvest some lovely mistletoe for our home. It's extremely prolific in this area all the year round, but is especially beautiful at the holidays, being thick with tiny, white berries.

The magical mistletoe was considered to be the most sacred plant by Druids. Five days following the new moon after the winter solstice, the priests would collect the greenery from a holy oak tree using a golden sickle. The branches must be caught before touching the ground, then were divided into sprigs to be passed to those who would carry it home to hang over their doorways as protection.

Our mistletoe will grace a beautiful antique bowl of brass with some red and gold ornaments and cones from the trees where we used to live. Some will be strategically placed in order to enhance our ;+) celebration, and perhaps we'll tie some on to our golden snowflake that tops our tree.

Enjoy your time of Winter Solstice. This lunar eclipse is something that has not be seen since the 1600s, so we look forward to experiencing that together.




Saturday, December 18, 2010

Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather....

‎....and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone. ~D. Whipp

Some of our friends kindly shared what they remember about past holidays:

Angel…Mine is of my Daddy. Every year he got socks, underwear, and tee shirts. Every single year he would look all innocent like he didn't have ANY clue what was in there, and every year he would open it up and exclaim, "OOOOhhhh, JUST what I wanted!!!!" Valerie and I would just be so tickled because he loved "our" presents that Mom had bought for him, from us. As we grew up it was done a little more tongue-in-cheek, but he still kept saying that. I love him so much.

Anne…Such a nice memory of your dad, Angel. Mine is of my dad as well. He was a big joker. One Christmas he put this huge lidded trash can next to the tree with a big red bow & a tag showing it was a gift to my mom from him. Mom just shook her head like - what is he up to now??? Mom opened the trash can & inside there was one huge box which was wrapped in newspaper or something like that. She proceeded to open the box & must have gone thru 8 or 10 boxes/bags, etc. (looked like he had cleaned out the basement), to finally get to a tiny jewelry gift box holding a little wishbone charm for her charm holder necklace. It was so funny & we all enjoyed watching her open it all. None of us knew what Dad had done either, as he kept it a secret! I had a fun family!

Estelle…Two incidences, same Christmas: Hubby couldn't find a box to wrap his present for his dad, so his sister had a Gator Golf box he used. FIL unwrapped the box, kinda looked disgusted for a second...regained his composure, smiled kinda big and said, "Thanks, y'all." We had to encourage him to open the BOX to find the grown up present he needed. We laughed about that until he passed away. Hubby's sister had already received 2 Mr. Tea makers, and she unwrapped yet another one from her husband. She was so ticked off! Her hubby had to calm her down and make her LOOK inside the tea pitcher to find a gorgeous emerald ring. This is our Mr. Tea Emerald Ring story. :)

Becky…My dad was always the shining star at Christmas - makes it really hard without him, even though my mama was the glue who held everything together. On Christmas morning, we were not allowed to open our doors until we heard the jingle bells and heard the furnace fire up. Dad would jingle bells all the way down the hall and holler, "Kris Kringle was here!" and then we could come out. We all believed in Santa for many years past the time we should have because it was all so much fun and the presents were so lavish (we didn't get "stuff" throughout the year).

Anne…I can imagine both of those things happening, Estelle! At our house when growing up you had to look in the box as most times the box was being reused - never judge a box by its cover! We also had times where my husband & I would give my brother & his wife the same gift we received from them - we had all come up with the same idea. A time or two we also gave Mom the same items/gifts, so by the time we were done, we had 3 identical gifts there & we were all very happy with the results.

Cynthia…On Christmas Day 1997 George brought me a box wrapped in two unmatching types of Christmas paper. The outside of the box was labeled "Combat boots, size 9 M." Inside the box were three of Sue Grafton's alphabet books, and two boxes wrapped in tissue paper. The larger of the two boxes held a crystal teddy bear with a rose zircon heart (my birthstone.) The other box...when I unwrapped the tissue paper I noted that the wrapping paper said Zales. For those who don't know, Zales is a jewelry store. I unwrapped the box, which took forever because that wrapping paper could have withstood dynamite, to find a diamond ring in a box. At that point George proposed to me, and of course I accepted. We got married 05/02/98, and the last twelve years have been the best of my life. I only wish that my mother had gotten to meet him before she passed away.

Michelle…I'm having a disjointed memories day so... When I was a kid we all gathered at my grandmother's house. We were NOT a formal bunch. My grandparents supplied the turkey/ham/meat, and the rest of us brought sides and desserts. Everything would be lined up buffet style. One Christmas, we somehow started this tradition of stealing food off one another's plate. So, you might have your plate full of your favorite thing, and someone might stick their plate next to yours and scrape that last piece of pie onto their plate or steal your dinner roll. It escalated into "dinner roll" baseball later, with used pie pans as the bases and home plate. It was my most fun, most memorable, and most unconventional Christmas ever.

Shawn…Three Xmas holidays stand out in my mind. 1. The storybook, Hallmark card-like one spent in Wales. 2. When my father passed on, and the holidays basically turned upside down for me. 3. The one following 9 days of no power in WA, where Noel held my hand and kept me sane from a distance of over 2000 miles. Now I’m back to loving the holidays again. They’re simpler, less elaborate, and much, much better than ever, because I get to spend them with my very own Texas Santa Baby.

Let's remember to make some more of those sweet Christmas memories.

Shawn & SGTex


Monday, December 13, 2010

"I will honor Christmas in my heart...

....and try to keep it all the year." ~Charles Dickens
It seems to me, if we were to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long, we might not experience the stress that we do during the holidays. I think what Mr. Dickens likely meant is to have an attitude of charity and best wishes for all, to do for others first, to aim to give, rather than receive, to have more of a beatific countenance and a happier world view. Perhaps. But I don't want to presume to speak for Charles Dickens.

Who, by the way, is said to have been owned by Havanese (as are we, lol)... Perhaps that is why he was able to say he will honor Christmas and keep it all the year. That's not too difficult if one spends any time at all with such happy puppies ;+). This particular breed of canine's makeup can be summed up thusly: Glad Tidings of Great Joy, lol.
Anyway, I do think that it's a good idea to have that attitude. At the very least, we can attempt it. And I must say, I've certainly failed to do so. Hard as I may try, I find myself drawn into negativity and difficulties all too easily.

I very likely said it in my prior post about Christmas trees, but one of my most favorite things about this home is that I have such a great view of our sweet little tree with the old-fashioned lights and ornaments. It is placed "just so," and I can glance up from my desk and be reminded of what a lovely time of year it is. That helps when the typical stressors get the best of me and I'm out of sorts (who, me??), when I'm needing to be of better cheer, lol.
The other night when SGTex took me out on the town to see the holiday lights, and we pulled up in the car and there was our own tree shining through the window, I was very thankful. Our little house with the pretty tree and big holiday wreath on the front door with a big red bow was just as wonderful as anyone else's holiday home, in my estimation!
I might as well admit it. Yes, I do need to have the holiday spirit and to try (a little harder) to keep it all the year.
Happy 12 days until Christmas!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The truth about snowflakes and frost....

Crystals arise when a pure compound passes gradually from liquid to solid form. The elegant regularity of a crystal is attributable to the way its molecules have configured and fit together. The angles and distances between atoms are determined by the strong bonds of fundamental molecular structure, and then weaker bonds amongst the molecules determine in turn the most comfortable interrelationship as they gather, when cooling from a melted state or drying forth from solution.
In regimented accordance with all these affinities and angles, molecules work out the most stable arrangement and ultimately present a statement about themselves to us. If it weren't for this, we might still be wondering about the structural nature of the executive genetic material, for Watson and Crick had to make crystals of DNA and shine x-ray light through them to *eureka* the remarkable double helix.
Not to disillusion those who need to believe Jack Frost is a real person, but the fact of the matter -- and my point here -- is that frost's fractal feathery fronds and the special beauty of snowflakes come about in this way, too. H2O maintains an angle of 104.5 degrees, stout chemical bonds keeping the hydrogens and oxygen together in a molecule, while gentler attractions decide the way they array when they find themselves at a low temperature. The most stable state entails compromise, as there is considerable repulsion between like-charged ends as well as attraction between the oppositely charged points, accounting for the expansion we see when water freezes, as well as a tendency to form a ring of six V-shapes that may ultimately express itself in a swirl of tiny sprites we can view with a magnifier and be impressed---or spread out this way and that across a pane to result in those crystal coastlines, cascades and crochet for perusal by sleepy eyes at sunrise.
And I will say it's quite apparent that the origin of life on Earth (and all those other worlds) traces back just as surely to the intricacy of purpose that atoms and molecules are able, nay eager, to share. If you catch someone trying to propagate the lie that order does not increase on its own in a universe such as ours, try not to smirk but rather smile. Arrogance is *their* province, not ours.