34th Street Miracle

34ddThere is decorating. And then there is decorating!

For a few years I’ve wanted to visit this small street in Baltimore called the Miracle on 34th West Street. It’s the pretty lights, the dazzle and the wow that attracted me but also that the entire street decorates. That’s neighborly community for you! There was a single home on the street for sale. It was dark, gloomy, not a Christmas light to be shown. I’m sure it’s where the Grinch lives, miserable among his Who neighbors.

34fThe rest of the street was decked in out in Christmas cheer – or the residence’s idea of Christmas cheer. I love this one – the banner says, “From The House of Pleasant Living”. Now that is a motto to live by!

34eI had the idea to go at the very last minute, and I made the husband, girl, and Sydney-girl go with me. What I mean by that is – I made them go with me.

Nobody wants to see Christmas lights alone!

34dThis house was adorable. Their sign says, Wise Men Still Seek Him. I’m so glad to know that people still celebrate Jesus at Christmas time.

34hhAmong all of the homes and the hustle and bustle were the gems tucked away in the crevices and nooks of people’s mini yards, and row home porches. It was just adorable. You can feel the merriness among all of the visitors.

34ccIt makes one wonder, what kind of person would allow thousands of people to peek into their home, trample all over their yards and gawk through their windows.

34kkThis is a photo through someone’s front door. Their Rottweiler was lounging on the floor, oblivious to visitors peering through the glass.

I suppose they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t mind the lack of privacy. Why? I’m not sure. It’s become a Baltimore institution so perhaps it’s for the greater good of the community.

Or maybe they’re just fun people who love Christmas! I like that theory a lot.

34iiBut then again, some of those visitors are awfully cute!

I want to show you some of the yards with a theme. It’s a hoot.

34iBecause we’re in Maryland, there must be a glowing crab on the porch.

34zAnd an Old Bay can on the tree.

34gAnd this home is a lover of all thing House of Cards. Do you remember when “they” almost moved the production of the House of Cards out of Maryland because of our tax burden? There was a big show of support to keep them here, and it worked. No one is happier than the residents of this home!

34bIt’s obvious this home has a house full of four legged critters. The cute dog bones garland is my favorite.

34gg“Peace” is the theme of this home’s decoration. It is so interesting to see that each resident had their own culture and outlook on life, as personified by their Christmas decorations! “I get it,” I say to myself.

34xLook! It’s a tree made of hub caps! Pretty amazing the creativity that resides in people. I wonder if they put this away after Christmas is over? One would need a crane to move it. And where would you store it? Sometimes I’m way too practical for my own good.

34oAnd lastly, the entire Sesame Street crew came out to greet us! Not sure what this had to do with Christmas but you can put lights on anything and it will immediately become a part of the season!

34aThere is only five days until Christmas folks! I guess it’s time I put up my tree!

I’ll show you more photos soon – it will put you in the Christmas spirit!

December 20, The North Pole

dec20In case you didn’t know which way was north:)

Are you excited? Only five more days! I can’t wait to have all of my family together and just enjoy. Until then, I’m going to pack my days with holiday cheer! It seems easier this year and I think it’s because I’m more relaxed about decorating. It’s the small things yes? I am however, enjoying other people’s decorations! The holiday cheer out there is over the top, and I love it!

Merry Christmas!

Sweet Sleigh Ride

cookies2The girl brought home this sweet little gift that someone made her. She said she wanted to show it to me before she ate it.

Isn’t it adorable? This the positive side of social media. No one can take away our free exchange of ideas on Pinterest!

cookies3I turned the sleigh over to see how it was constructed underneath – so clever. It’s amazing what two candy canes, some left over wrapping paper and glue can do.

cookies5All of the candy was wrapped in paper except for the gum, which just had the label removed.

cookies6Looks like the girl already ate one of the chocolate kisses off the top! I’m sure this was a laborious task, the sweet tart rolls are so small! I think I can do this next year. Baking cookies is not something I do at this time of year and this is the perfect Christmas craft. I know a bunch of little ones who would love it.

I’m going to have to start wrapping candies in February though . . .

Merry Retirement

nick11Merry Christmas everyone! There’s nothing better than starting out the season with a ceremony marking the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. A retirement ceremony is just that, an end – and a beginning. A funeral – and a baptism all at once.

nick8We have friend who on Monday, concluded 26 years of service to his country with a ceremony that was so touching that I literally cried through the entire thing. It didn’t help that I was sitting next to Neighbor Corinne who was literally a waterfall of tears.

nick1All of the pomp and ceremony of a military retirement was on display. This ceremony was called “Piping Ashore” the guest of honor.

nick7It made me so proud! I can’t tell you how it moves a patriotic heart – and if you’re not patriotic, you can still appreciate the timeless traditions of our great military.

The speeches were emotional and truly reflected the kind of sentiment that people had for Nick. He’s just a great guy, a really great guy. When he spoke you can tell how much he loved the Navy, loved his country, loved his family and loved God who he put front and center in his life.

nick6And then there was his family – I didn’t have any eye makeup left after he brought his family through.

nick9I wasn’t the only one. Little Katherine cried too. It was really emotional for us adults, I can imagine how it would touch a tender young heart. She so cute!

nick2When Nick received his discharge certificate, we couldn’t help but notice the huge photo of President Obama on the back. The husband couldn’t remember getting a photo of President Bush when he retired. I didn’t hear the honors when it was read because I was distracted by the photo. We always wondered if the President really signed documents like this – nah.

nick4Another not so small thing that made the ceremony so special was the venue. It was at the Naval Academy Bancroft Hall which houses the dorms where the midshipmen stay. It was gorgeous – just gorgeous.

nick13I know that those young cadets are being put through their paces at the school and may be too busy doing their physical training, marching, studying and being yelled at for no reason, to truly appreciate their surroundings.

Yet, I’m sure they do. You can’t help but see how beautiful it is. I couldn’t help but think – they live there.

nick14I love the American flag among the Corinthian Greek columns, frescoes, and stain glass windows.

nick5There’s the outside of the building, and there’s a cadet now! The girl calls them “boat drivers” though of course they are much more than that. They are our nation’s future!

nick15The husband is doing well by the way. He’s still walking with a cane but coming along nicely. Look at that hall – breathtaking.

I spoke with a friend afterward and he said that Nick was a dying breed. It made me sad frankly. I would rather think that Nick was one in a million but that those kinds of men and women still serve in our military – that breed was still in the culture and that it was alive and well.

Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless America!


Finals – Finals – Finals

hip1Right before the husband went into surgery, the boy texted this to his dad. It could be a statement on the doctor’s surgical skills but the husband, while laying on his hospital gurney, attached to IVs, waiting to get wheeled into surgery, broke out into a guffaw.

That boy! What are we gonna do with him?

The husband is doing very well and recovering nicely. If you were to ask him, he would say that it didn’t hurt at all. The first week after surgery was a case study in aggressive pain management. It paid off because if the patient is painfully uncomfortable, it delays the recovery, so I set the alarm clock every three hours to make sure we stayed ahead of the pain. Now the husband is doing laps around the house, with a cane of course.

Because I’ve been awake every three hours for a week and cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve not had time to be creative and shoot photos – nor to think about Christmas. The husband’s birthday snuck up on me – and we celebrated by sleeping all day. I don’t have much, if any Christmas decorations up. I don’t know if it’s that important this year. Our tree is not up yet, but I still have time don’t I? Christmas is still ten days away, a long way off.

And then there’s the kids. The girl came home last week from college with the declaration that she wants to transfer to Columbia University. You know, the one in New York City with the 5% acceptance rate. We’re not sure how we’re going to handle this – but I’ll keep you informed. The two or three weeks at the end of every semester, the boy goes incommunicado. Every once in a while we hear from him – and he looks mostly scruffy.

hip2He asked about his father and I said I was proud of him. He said he’s studying, and that he was proud too. I must have said something back that irked him because then I got this.

hipe3Geesh . . . sensitive. Finals must be really tough this semester.

hip4I asked him if he was flying or studying for finals – and I get this. I really think he’s been studying too hard.

The weather in Grand Forks has not been good, but that’s no surprise. Since the weather isn’t cooperating, I wonder if the boy is going to make it home for Christmas, I really do. This happened last year too. The good thing is this, we don’t have to worry about moving him in and out of the dorm at a certain time. That was always stressful.

hip5We communicated again the other day and I told him it looked like he hasn’t slept or shaved in days. Both are correct he says.

hip6But . . . at least he’s showering. I told him I liked his sweater to which he said –

hip7Yes it is. This entire ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon is really catching on among the co-ed crowd.

As mundane as this conversation is, I was still happy to hear from him. I know finals are tough, but it’s a rite of passage and I feel that it’s building character. Life is hard.

In the meantime, our neighbors were talking about doing a cultural event this year – like we did last year when we went to see the Book of Morman and ate dinner in the Pope Room of Bucca Di Peppe. It was a very ecumenical night, depending on your view of these religions. Anyways . . . as it turns out, no one wanted to go anywhere or do anything. What – my humbuggity is rubbing off on our neighbors too?

hip8Instead of going out on the town to one of the many great holiday cultural events in Washington DC, we all went to Neighbors Steve & Sue’s house and hung out around their kitchen counter.hip9They continue to be the best hosts I’ve ever known. It was a pot luck and her home remains the best party place. It’s beautiful, warm and so provencale. Neighbor Sue confessed to me that it’s been a tough holiday season for her too. She lost someone close to her recently.

hip10I wanted to show you her beautiful table centerpiece:)

hip11It was a fun night. We ought to hang out at her house more often.

Today I’m thinking about Christmas again, as in how and where we are going to spend it. As always it depends on when the boy gets home from school. And that depends on the weather in Grand Forks and whether or not it will allow any flying to happen between now and then. And I have no control over any of it.

I was on the boy’s photostream last night though, just wanted to see what he was up to.

hip12I saw this photo. I don’t know where he was or who he was with – but he’s shaved!

hip16And I also saw this – I wonder who they were so star struck over.

hip18She must be someone special.

hip14They appear to be very impressed.

hip15And there were a lot of photos – wish I knew who she was.

I’ll ask the boy – after his finals are over . . .

December 15, The Catch

dec7Some of my best thinking is done by the muddy waters of the Patuxent. This crab trap was anchored a few feet away from where I was standing and I was so curious to see if there was anything in it that I almost waded in to see. Fortunately good sense prevailed and I remained dry on shore but sometimes our minds work over time on things that don’t matter much, if at all. It’s the power of suggestion, a suggestion we give to ourselves. There would have been a time when I actually waded into the water, back when the the urge to see what was in the trap outweighed any other consequence, like the survival of my shoes.

Over the last week or so, this thought has been on my mind. My girl has been home from college a little less than a week and we’ve been having a lot of conversation about this very thing. She’s not quite at the stage where she wants to save her shoes. She wants to wade in and satiate her curiosity in spite of the consequences. It’s great to be young –

Happy Monday, stay dry and on shore.