It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bits of the First of Christmas

Dirt and Anna work on the lights
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This is where I left you Dear Reader, just before our Christmas tree decorating night. Sorry if the break bothered you, but it was a tough and quiet week before Christmas and not looking any better, if you want the details on why Dirt and I are not our raucous jolly Christmas Tomten selves this year, google Pierce County Deputy, we've dined and joked and campfired with the man who survived being shot by a forty-five in the hands of a angry drunk and it brings tragedy like this incredibly close to home, especially after two Seattle city police were purposely shot in Oct. and four Lakewood officers gunned down in a coffee shop in November. It just seemed to get closer and closer. But all that may or may not be for another post, when I am ready to understand the sorrow I feel mixed with gratitude for the life spared.
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This year Christmas tree night started with my lights not working, that always happens to a certain extent but this year only one little strand worked and all the rest were duds. Of course I was in denial because these lights were my favorite yet, I am very sad that they are no good now.


Bet tenderly unwrapping the ornaments
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So while Dirt and Anna worked on the lights for over an hour, Bet unwrapped all the ornaments that she wanted to use. I have lots of ornaments and most of them don't end up on the tree, especially when the tree is a living tree. Living trees fill the room just fine, a grand specimen of our Christian take over of paganism, but they don't have nearly the same amount of hanging room on them compared to the ones we go to the mountains and cut down.
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Many ornaments either stay in the box or are used in other parts of the house, but not this year, this year we are low key, the last left clunker on the board to be exact. Many ornaments have gone with the two older girls, each of our girls has a collection of ornaments that either I have purchased for them or their older wiser friends over the years have brought them. It is hard to see some of them go, but I know what it is like to start off with no ornaments.

Anna carefully stringing the working lights
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Anna got over her frustration of burned out lights and the wasted time of putting on the first string only to have to take them off so that we could break out the new lights (I always have a large stash of lights, I pick up at the after Christmas sales).
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But then her frustration returned and the hand full of lights got tossed at the tree at one point. Patience, not a big virtue in this household with the Lanny clones, patience is for Dirt and his clones. So Bet took her annual job back. As each girl has become the "oldest" they not only get to sit in the front seat of the car when just the girls go to town, and represent St. Lucia, they are in charge of decorating the tree. Each has patiently waited their turn and went through training.

Ornaments collected over thirty-one years
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But Anna has claimed special circumstances and is requesting (nice euphemism for demanding doncha think Dear Reader?) that she be given a chance to do a few things, like decorate the tree. Hmmm where was she on the morning of December 13th?
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My ornaments go back to 1978 and my first Christmas tree away from home, when I was learning what it was like being autonomous, why I should never have been on my own, and why I value multi-generational living. But back to the ornaments. My first tree had only three ornaments, green glass holly leaves, a blown glass angel blowing a trumpet, which she misplaced years ago, and a clear glass bell. I still have all three.


One heirloom but many fond memories are collected here
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Doncha just love my gorgeous trays? They were an Ikea find. When my second oldest daughter was getting married here at Victory Farm and Gardens, I knew I needed some trays for my servers to carry the food to the tables so when I was at Ikea picking up ten cent champagne glasses (glass glasses) I found these for ninety-nine cents apiece. You know I bought those, the crazy design covers easily with parchment paper and these trays are tough and sturdy and big.
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Back to the ornaments. There is a real oldy in this second batch, the ball with white and colored sections, middle top of the tray. This ornament is the only one I have of my childhood and it brings back so many memories. My brother Chris, only two years older than I, would sit with me in the arm chair next to the tree and we would share twisting up the string that this ball hung on and then watch in awe as it spun itself around and around.


The lights on and the ornaments almost all hung
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For years, while the girls were little, they sat and watched from the couch as I carefully loaded the tree with lights, then ornaments, then on some years garland, some years ribbon, or bows on the tips of the branches. I only tackled tinsel one year, but on living trees it just means a mess and on a live tree it means that the goats and sheep wouldn't get their treat on January seventh so tinsel doesn't play in Vickville.
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Besides, the tinsel these days is no longer actual tin. My mom kept her tin-sel from year to year on special card boards she designed for holding it. She would carefully pick it back off of the tree at the end of Christmas, place it on the cardboard and when it was full she would tenderly wrap it in newspaper so that the tin-sel wouldn't get bent and crumpled.
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She was especially crazy covetous of her tin-sel, taking painstaking care of it, once it changed from tin-sel to plasti-sel. Plasti-sel develops a static charge in the winter air and clings and globs, not the pretty straight hanging shimmer of my childhood. She also carefully swirled angel hair around C-7 lights. Her trees were always so beautiful and carefully done.

Just the red berries need to be placed on the brances
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I'm terribly fond of mono-chromatic lights on my tree, I love visiting other folks' houses where they use multi-colored tree lights but Mom switched over to all white in later years and so did I eventually. Then I discovered that I really really like blue lights on the tree in my green room, in fact I even like blue trees.
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We have a lovely tall blue spruce by our flag pole now because I like blue with my green. But that year I didn't have any girls desiring to decorate with me. I decorated with long sleeves and gloves, alone. So I was incredibly excited to discover cork bark fir, or Abies Lasiocarpa Arizonica. They are an incredible blue, often blue-er than blue spruce but without the pain of the stiff poky needles.
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I have some Arizona fir waiting in the nursery area, just not big enough yet to handle the indoor job of shading the packages that Santa brings.
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This year we dug one of our unknown nursery trees here at our farm. It is a great tree, the dark green needles on the branches are long and full making the tree appear larger than it really is. I really like it. It does have a huge draw back, no fragrance. None. Zip. Even when you grab hold of the branch slide your tightly closed hand down the branch, open your hand and whiff, nothing. Blank. Gorgeous to look at but you really need to burn the evergreen candles because the tree gives you nothing for fragrance.
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We are looking forward to when our other trees can be used in the house and even more excited to go and pick up more saplings at the Lawyer's nursery sale, so that in future years our choices will be greater and we can share with those we love.

No cookie baking for the boys today
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The day after Tree Day was cookie baking day. Steph came out with the boys, but Kai decided that going to town to do errands with Dirt would be way more fun.

Oops they forgot something.

Now they are on their way!
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A long list of Christmas foods, treats and a few presents in hand and they were off. Kai was so excited and the stories Dirt told of his time with his grandboy were priceless. Dirt is an introvert, friendly but business first, Kai is an extrovert, eventually the business gets done, maybe, but it is people first. So getting through the friendly Christmas crowds four days before Christmas was a little difficult for Dirt.


Just a small sampling of the beautiful and tasty cookies
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The girls had a ton of fun making cookies and I had a ton of fun potting up forty-three Brugmansia plants that rooted since being trimmed off of the parent plants before they went into dormant storage earlier this fall. Ahh forty three water guzzling, fertilizer demanding tender tropical plants that are fragrant in the middle of the night.
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I could have sworn that I was not only not going to have any new brugs (brugmansias) but that I was going to bring the ones I have into bloom earlier than I did this last year and adopt them out to someone who has way more time behind the hose than I do. But Dirt has promised me an automatic watering system for all my fussy pots and so here I am the proud parent of forty-three big fat babies. Fairly evenly divided among three colours, white, yellow (Dr. Seuss) and peach.
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Funny, as a matter of fact on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Monday's Cookie and Brug Day, we went up to visit the folks where I first acquired my brugs a year and a half ago at one of their local nurseries. It was a lovely memento of a terrific trip up to visit newly acquired life-long friends. So really, I could never get rid of my brugs, even though the parent plants are no longer able to fit in the back of an Explorer let alone five of them all at once, they still remind me of the great time we had getting to know our Coulters better and further cementing our friendship. Now they are simply framily.
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We had a great time up in Coulter-land, just Dirt and I, the girls stayed home to take care of the farm and do the final touches on our easy quiet Christmas. We looked at lights, did a little shopping in Mt. Vernon, went to dinner one night at a great little public house and the next late afternoon in downtown Burlington at a terrific ma and pa Greek and Italian eatery. They have some wonderful yarn shops up there and Becky and I tortured the fellas with a couple of stops.
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We got home late Wednesday to a cozy home and happy girls looking forward to our Christmas Eve shopping date the next day. Due to November's remodel and lymph issues, December's pneumonia for me and Chippy Hacky's infirmity, we hadn't had a chance to get all of our gifting done, whether made or purchased.
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The plan was to spend most of the day out and eat dinner at a restaurant so that we wouldn't have dishes and clean up to deal with. We got a late start due to chores taking a bit more time than expected and the shopping didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, some decisions had to be redecided a couple of times, by the time dinner was the next activity not a one of us was in the humor to wait to be seated, wait for food to arrive. So we grabbed pizzas (Dirt grabbed a turkey pot pie) and we went home to the oddest Christmas Eve we have had. That won't be happening again, if we can help it. It wasn't horrible, just not the lovely Christmas Eve outing that we thought it could be.
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The Tomten came through for the girls and dropped off their all time favorite jammies. Warm, snugly fleecy jammies, Anna's with penguins, her favorite, scampering all over the bottoms and Bet's have the cutest little bone chewing doggies, but Martin is a little put off by the raucous little invaders. It made for a wonderful fun and cozy Christmas Eve.

Lady Amber enjoying her Christmas treat
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Ahhh Christmas Day. Everyone found a little somethin' somethin' for themselves, even the dogs. The married children stayed in town a little later this Christmas morning and didn't arrive at the Farm until nearly eleven. The girls, Dirt and I had a lovely morning, I had decided the night before to just go to bed at nine and get up at five and finish the wrapping and packaging that I had left to do. That was one of my better ideas, a stellar move! So I was up and coffeed well before anyone else was up. Dirt made a nice unpretentious little breakfast for him and I, but the girls were up later and snitching cookies instead.

Aksel and Vicktory Farms 2009 Christmas Tree
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The boys came out to the Farm in their jammies and had a wonderful time just lounging and playing until dinner.

Steph put some past Christmas photos together for all of us
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Christmas Day was joyful and joyfully followed by the First Day of Christmas, or St. Stephen's Day or Boxing Day if you please, we opened our house to some friends for the day, meatballs and taters, Kathy's lefse, Pat's tiramisu, Pablo's, Fryers and Long's pies and treats and Bet's coconut cake, the Coulter's provided a beautiful prime rib that Dirt barbecued - slowly and the Bowerman's brought a keg of Pipeline Porter. Dirt was in beef and brew heaven for the day. Well, we all were, all thirty-five or so of us in less than a thousand square foot, one bathroom home.
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Sunday, the Second Day of Christmas, was a relaxing quiet one with our out of town company, we spent the day looking at pictures of our girls' childhood and talking about what we used to do for entertainment around Vicktory Farm and Gardens when Dirt and I were a young family.
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Monday, the Third Day of Christmas was a very very relaxed day, well for me. I was reading and planning knitting and garden projects, what the year and the next few months will look like. And early in the day Dirt and Anna went shearing. We came together later in the day and not unlike last Monday when we had spent an odd off day only to hear bad news in the evening, this Monday we heard that our friend's partner was taken off of life support. Hard news to hear indeed.
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Today, Tuesday, the Fourth Day of Christmas, we went to the Bowermans so that Dirt could pick up his tractor. The farm just isn't the same without the orange tractor. It was good to share a cup of warmth with my good friend Rebecca while Dirt got the tractor. They are much closer to the surviving sergeant and in fact it is the Bowermans who introduced them to our group of families. It is an odd and perplexing time. And it hangs in the middle of ordinary life.
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We here at Vicktory Farm and Gardens, hope that you have had a wonderful start to the Christmas season, that you have found all the time you need to reflect on our Lord Jesus and the incarnation of God and continue to as we go through the season of wonder and reconcilliation.

10 comments:

KathyB. said...

We had a wonderful time at your home the other day and your Christmas decorating is beautiful. So much to appreciate and the eye lands easily on many places in your home. The nose smells the lovely scent of fresh baking always being pulled out of the oven, barbecued meats increasing hunger pains and of course just plain old-fashioned hospitality and warmth always found at Vicktory Farms.

I really like the line " trees...."a grand specimen of our Christian take-over of paganism", my favorite line. Why not TAKE OVER paganism and allow the pagan symbols to point to the CREATOR of the trees in the first place?!?

As always Lanny, a lot to take in and digest and many things left to ponder...Happy New Year dear Sister and Family!

Daisy said...

What lovely decorations and the cookies look fantastic, Lanny. I enjoyed hearing about your family's Christmas. Just as those ornaments hold great memories for you, the traditions you continue to carry out will hold great memories for your girls and their families. Great post! :-)

Susie said...

Lanny, thanks for sharing your Christmas with us. Sounds like you were pretty busy.

Can I take it you are feeling much better by potting up that many brugmansias? Girl, that's a lot of plants.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

A. Joy said...

Well your house looked gorgeous and twinkly just as a house should at Christmas and I loved your live tree! We did white and blue lights this year too. The photo of Aksel and the tree is especially Christmasy - I love it! I like Dirt's hat in the first photo - not quite on, not quite off. =) Your tree decorating sounds a lot like how ours goes. I was trained by my dad year after year and now I do my own and CT is in training as the oldest. Many of my ornaments are from my birth in 1975 - those are the well made ones that last you know? I STILL need more lights. I say that every year and every year I thought I bought enough. Was wonderful to see you all and oh - I owe you a 5 gallon bucket that I unknowingly ran over with my diesel on my way out from your farm. Ooops! =(

Sparky said...

Your place is so pretty. I didn't even decorate this year.
Is that you on the couch with the gifts?

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

Sounds like a wonderful Christmas with the family and framily!

I agree with Dirt about going to town right before the "big day"! uuugggh.
The kids and I went on the Tuesday before Christmas and it was down-right CRAZY! I got all of my shopping done for dinners and the kids picked out Daddy's gifts. I told Ken "I am done shopping... I'm not going to town for the rest of the week!!" Guess what? that was the last time i've been to town. I love staying close to home.

Your tree looks beautiful. I'm one of those people who like multi colored lights on the tree. Although, years ago I found a string of lights where each bulb is half red and half green. They are my very favorite. I've never seen them since and wish I had bought more when I first found them.

Have a blessed End of the Year with your beautiful family, Lanny!!

Mrs. Mike said...

Wow you covered a lot of days in one post! I'll bet people think that the party girl is pooped out! We know better, you extravert, you.

Carol............. said...

Thanks for inciting me into your home through your post. I want one of those cookies, though!

Have a Great New Year.

LindaSueBuhl said...

ah those cookies - I really didn't make Christmas cookies this year - no company coming and DH and I will eat every blessed one if they are in the house. Everything looked so festive - since we are alone our "eves" often are very odd - NYE was pizza and to bed by 9! Today we had a "real" New Year's meal - ham, blackeyed peas etc. also celebrating tenth wedding anniversary - woo hoo! Thanks for sharing some of your Christmas - what a blessing family and friends are!

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

Even though things can be frustrating, it seems to work out well! Every thing looks pretty! Have yourself a blessed new year! blessings,Kathleen