Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simply Silent

Good grief, it was simple.

I mean, seriously… who knew that the simple act of turning off artificial noise for a few days would reap such a blessing?

Monday morning, I challenged myself to a low tech retreat for 48 hours. I decided to live without the assistance of electronic crutch or artificial noise.  It began immediately after I hit the word “publish” on Monday morning.  I unplugged my televisions, and then my microwave, and then the cell phone.

The computer was the last to go and definitely the hardest.    
Apparently, I’m a bit addicted to my computer. 

I admit to being sorely tempted a time or twenty to just engage it a little. Just take it for a spin around the block…  A game of spider solitaire wasn’t technically the same thing as connecting to the World Wide Web, right?  Wrong.

Let’s face it; computer games are just gateway technology.  Plus, is there any more colossal waste of time than an electronic game?  I think not. Even with the sound muted, they are nothing but brain noise.

If the computer was the hardest, the television was definitely the easiest.

I thought there might be a period of withdrawal, but there wasn’t.  It had taken me over 20 years to become addicted to the sound of background noise. It took less than 2 hours to become addicted to the sound of silence.

On Wednesday morning, when I had permission
to turn on the tube,
I did.
  It took me about five minutes to turn it back off again.

It hasn’t been on since.
Not even at night.

Now folks, that’s really saying something because nighttime silence and daytime silence are two completely different animals. Daytime silence is tranquil and meditative.

Nighttime silence is just spooky. 

In the daytime,
you never stop and wonder what caused a noise. 
At night, you don't wonder either.  
That's because you're absolutely certain
it was caused by an intruder.

Late Monday night, I was positive that I heard the telltale clinking of someone or something muddling about in the recycling.

Now, our bedroom is nowhere near the recycling…
plus, I can only hear out of one ear...
But I heard it all right.
Nighttime noise is amplified.

But I also heard the sound of good old Rudy, our neighbor’s collie.  Rudy is a miniature collie who is more of an arfer than a woofer,  While there is nothing whatsoever intimidating about an arfer, it’s a well known fact they make the best tattle tales. Once he started tattling, I never heard another sound from the would-be bottle burglar.

I think he deserves some Beggin’ Strips.

I returned to my reading which, frankly, is a project that needs some tweaking. 

Our bed is an iron one, and while I love the design, it doesn’t lend itself very well to reclining.  Layering every pillow in the house in a precarious pile doesn’t help much, either. You just wake up in the morning on top of the pillows with your book light and reading glasses playing out a scene from The Princess and the Pea.  The book light survived; I’m not so sure about the glasses.  

I’m not throwing in the towel, though, and I’m open to suggestions.  I am utterly unwilling to retreat from my new found friend of silence.  

Because I learned something this week.

Silence isn’t really silent at all. It’s just quiet. There is a profound difference.  In the silence, you hear nothing. As someone who is losing her hearing, that’s just not welcoming to me.  But in the quiet, you hear even the quiet things. 

Like the sound of a train whistle from ten miles away…
And at least four different types of birds…
And the whir of the heat pump that keeps us warm…
And the arf of the collie who keeps us safe.  

And  the still, small, voice.

Learning to love the quiet is this week’s simple pleasure.

Sharing this with Dayle at A Collection of This and That.
Join us for more Simple Pleasures.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mountain Climbing

Have you ever wondered why many teachers rarely miss a day of school? Well, I'm going to let you in on the little secret.

It's not because we don't get sick.
It's not because we just can't drag ourselves away from our Little Einsteins.
(Sorry, mom... as much as we love them, we welcome a little vacation.) 

It's not because we think the world revolves around us
and will crumble in our absence. 
(Well, I kind of think that, but I digress...)

There's another reason entirely why some teachers hate to miss school.

It's all about the big desk.

 You know the one, the teacher's desk... The place where that insurmountable pile grows in our absence.  There's the work that we planned for kids to do...

And then, there's the work that we didn't plan. That's the stuff that the well meaning substitute conceived for kids to do to keep them tethered to a pencil.

And possibly out of trouble.

Miss one day, and you have Mt. Rushmore.
Miss two, and it's Mt. Everest. 


School, just like life, has a pesky little habit of marching on with or without our presence. When we return, we have to figure out a way to step in time without missing some wonderful  tidbit or treasure hidden on Desk Mountain.

Oh sure, some teachers toss it all away.  (You always suspected that, didn't you?)  That isn't my style.
It probably doesn't surprise you to learn that I've always gone through every scrap of paper that crossed my desk. I'm either thorough or nosy. You decide.

There's a reason behind the ramble this morning, and you've probably guessed that it has nothing whatsoever to do with school. I didn't miss school this week.  I did, however, unplug. For two days, I've been living without the benefit of electronic companionship. Did you miss me?

Yeah, that's what I figured...

But apparently...
What you did miss was the memo to cease and desist until I plugged back in again. Good grief, people... Inspiration was sprouting up all over Blog Mountain.

Vanessa and Heather are starting a whole new blog adventure...

Amy repurposed an old picture...
AND she's having a giveaway.

Jennie at my blog stalking obsession
had a wonderful anniversary.
Sharon  has been sharing God...
That Chatty Chrone? As chatty as ever...
Laurie  managed to do a tabletop without a table.

Sarah wowed me with her "Checkered Past"

And that's just for starters...
Seriously, people, slow down for a pair of minutes. 
You can be sure that I'll be visiting every corner of blogland before the day is up.

Because I'm either thorough or nosy. You decide.

Oh, and about my unplugged adventure? 
I'll just say this much for now...

It was very, very, quiet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Unplugged

It’s 6:00 in the morning, and I’m already home alone.  The husband left for another busy week of business, and here I sit with my cup of coffee and trusty electronic companions.  You see, almost as much as I fear the darkness, I loathe the silence. 

I like a little noise around me, even if it’s of the technological sort.  

Blogland, however, has a way of making me rethink things.

On Friday, one of my favorite bloggers, Gayle at Solitary Moments, spoke of an uninvited season of low tech living when she moved back home to live with her very low tech mom and dad.  What she reaped in that season of simplicity was a harvest of restoration. To read the entire inspirational story, click HERE.

I thought about Gayle’s post on and off all weekend. I thought about the amount of silence that is filled around my place with artificial noise.

My days begin to the sound of the morning news over my first cup of coffee.   

I sit here in the den until I’m fully tanked. Then I leave the television running all day long for no other reason than background noise as I meander about the place.  If I go upstairs for any length of time, I click on the television in the bedroom as well.  I rarely if ever sit down to watch the television, but it’s always there, wokking in my ear even as I plop down in front of that other electronic playmate called the computer.

Artificial noise follows me on the road, too.  Ebenezer is well stocked with CDs for singing and tuned to talk radio when I feel like a little company.

Lots of noise.  

At night, I set my sleep timer and fall asleep, generally to the noise of the news. In the morning, I start the whole thing all over again.    

Pondering Gayle’s post, I wondered how well I would survive the low tech lifestyle for a season.  I have a feeling that I wouldn’t fare so well. Forget the season… I’m not sure that I could survive it even for a day.  

So I’m putting myself to the test, and I'm such an over achiever that I'll try it not for one day, but for two.  Impressed, aren't you?

For the next 48 hours,
all most of my technology will GO. 

I’m calling this adventure 
in "The Year of  Go",
Life Unplugged.

I’m unplugging my televisions…

And I’m unplugging my computer…

And I’m even turning off my cell phone. I’m going to trust God that my girls will reach me just fine the old fashioned way… which come to think of it, isn’t all that old fashioned at all.

And while I’m at it, I’m unplugging my microwave and the convenience of the millisecond meal-for-one that has somehow become a mainstay of this empty nest. I’m not unplugging my refrigerator or stove, however.

I said I was adventurous, not crazy.  

So here I go. We’ll see how this down time fills up. And then, I’ll come on back to yak all about it.

Until then… 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Simple Hope

Sometimes, I get the blues.

This often surprises people who know me only superficially because I tend to be pretty jolly most of the time.  I laugh easily and often and love to find the sunny side of life.    

But those who know me well know that sometimes, I get the blues.

Sometimes, I get the situational blues. Sometimes when I look at that little track that I’m  assigned to run and see yet another hurdle up ahead, I get a spiritual charley horse.
I. Just.Can't. Make. The. Effort.

This tends to disappoint spectators, by the way.    

Sometimes I get the emotional blues.  I’m nearly 50 years old.  You would think that by now, I would stop being blindsided by the bruisers.  But oh no… I rush into the game and get sacked on the first play, even by folks who look like they’re wearing the same uniform… sometimes.

Sometimes, I get the biological blues. No further comment necessary.

Sometimes, it's just plain seasonal.  We all have to endure seasons in our lives, both figuratively and literally, and most of the time I muddle through mine by looking for the delights along the way.  Every season has its delights, after all.

It’s for no small reason, though, that the bleak seasons of our lives are usually tagged winter.  Winter just seems to invite the blues.  I mean, it’s bad enough to have a spell of dreary days, but it’s even worse when those gray skies hover above dead leaves and dry grass and are every bit as cold on the outside as they look from the inside.

We’ve had a string of those dreary days around here. We went from ice to rain to clouds of gray which didn’t have the gumption to do anything but hang around and depress me.

By Tuesday of this week, I thought I might possibly go mad with it. I was cold and grumpy. My bones and joints ached, and since I tend to eat my blues away, my pants were tight to boot. A blue whale...

As I was walking to the car late that afternoon, though, something caught my eye.

God had opened this little window... show me a patch of blue.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have even noticed that little patch of blue had it not been surrounded by such a sky of gray.   I mean, I’ve walked under much lovelier skies a billion times and not bothered to notice. But I noticed all right, and I hustled to my purse to pull out the shiny red Kodak to document the evidence.

And I thanked Him.

The clouds were breaking up. There was a distinct hope of blue skies ahead.

It may not seem like much. In fact, it’s probably not even all that blog worthy, but for reasons that will remain unyakked, that promise of blue skies hiding behind the gray meant a lot to me.   

And that’s why it’s this week’s simple pleasure. 

Sharing this with my friend Dayle for 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Why it’s KelliSheila, and Vanessa
three favorite bloggers
just goofy enough to mention
that they would have gladly dined at last week’s ice table in the Piney Stick Forest.   

Silly girls.

We thought we would reward their adventurous spirits by inviting them inside for a nice steamy bowl of invisible chowder.

Chowder is the perfect comfort food
for the dreary weather we’re having,
and it’s the inspiration for this week’s table. 
 It’s not just any old chowder, either. 
It’s corn chowder, my favorite.

That's why I'm coming too...

We have the Newlywed Niece to thank for all the color at this table.
You see, we wanted to use a set of dishes in this pattern. 

 Warm? Yes. 
But just a tiny bit too brown.
We wanted the table to say corn chowder, not beef stew.

Fortunately, we remembered some maize colored place mats that The Niece  had gotten for a shower gift.  

So we borrowed them…

And also a blue tablecloth to go underneath them…

And then some napkins for a little pattern. 

We used photocopies of her table linens 
to decoupage coasters and place cards.
Then, we nestled the name in little bowls of croutons
to give them a little personality.

Not that these ladies need any more personality...

We were about to leave when we noticed 
these plates 
hanging on the wall at the Love Shack.

So we took them, too.

We sandwiched them between the brown ones
and topped it all with a little yellow bread plate.

Finally, we added a soup bowl. 
large  enough to put
the chow in chowder...

See what I mean? 

 By the way,, those candlesticks belong to the niece too

As does the casual stemware.

And the idea for a chocolate dipped marshmallow
in each cocoa mug.

With much thanks to The Newlywed Niece, 
we finished our table. 

We couldn't have done it without her.

I call this one
Chowder and Chatter.

It may not be as sparkly as an ice on a piney stick forest,
but it's a whole lot warmer. 

Sharing this with the Porch People

News Flash!
The little birdie in comment number one was right. 
Wednesdays with the Duchess will feature  this tonight.

Corn chowder...
Inspired by our table...
Who knew it would be this easy to get her to fix my favorite soup?  I think next week, I think I'll suggest a tablescape inspired by Fettucine Alfredo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bloggadoodle for a Dreary Day

Driving along on this dreary day,  I noticed something.

Is is just me
or does this creepy old silo

kind of look like it's growing 
a beard?

And doesn't  this one

Look just a little bit like 
a Chia Pet?

I report.
You decide.

By the way, I'm heading back to my little classroom tomorrow after a four week hiatus. I just hope that my students remember something that I taught them before Christmas.

My name, for example, would be nice...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simply Empowered

I started the year with a commitment to GO.


I dubbed 2011 the year to step out of my box and go out of my comfort zone into unfamiliar territory. I even asked God to nudge me, so to speak, into areas which stretched me beyond where I like to be.

I’m not sure I expected Him to answer me so readily and so literally, but He did.

Have I mentioned that I’m afraid of the dark?  Well, I am.  For no small reason have I earned the title baby of the family.  I blame my overactive imagination. In 49 years, I have never… not one single time… allowed myself to be caught alone in the darkness.

So you can imagine my comfort level when The Great Ice Storm Adventure left me without power just as the blue hour was stealing the last bit of daylight from the sky.

I waited for a little while, hoping that it would rally as it had the other fourteen times it had gone out that day.

It showed no gumption whatsoever.

There I was, sitting home alone, in the dark, with the woods still crackle- popping around me.  In response, I did what any normal 49 year old mother of two would do; I called my mom. There wasn’t a single thing the Duchess could do for me since she lives over an icy river and through a piney stick woods, but I called nonetheless. 

I also called the husband in Atlanta.
And both of my daughters at school.  

All four had the great privilege of talking Debbie off the ledge. All four gave me the same sage advice.

Light some candles.
Well, thanks.

I rounded up every candle in this house, large or small and gathered them to illuminate the living room. Now folks, there’s a name for a dark room illuminated with candles.


Honestly, there is little comfort in sitting in a room
which looks like the set of a horror movie. 

But then…

Somewhere in the middle of it all, I decided that it really wasn’t worth all the dread and drama. In fact, when I stopped hyperventilating long enough to look around me, it was fine, almost cozy. And somewhere in the middle of it all, I decided to take my little candle and venture about the house to find things to occupy my mind in the darkness.

I gathered up some hoarded magazines and used the time for a sort and purge. Then, I took my candle back into the darkness to find my reading glasses because I got sidetracked by the cover stories which had kept me from tossing them away to begin with.

I stayed downstairs in that living room for hours before blowing out the candles and heading upstairs to the darkness called my bedroom. It was while I was carrying that little light of mine that I heard a quiet blowing sound.

Like music to the ears.

(By the way, it's hard to do the happy dance while holding a lighted taper.)

Now, if you’re thinking that the sound of that power returning is this week’s simple pleasure, you would be wrong. While I did enjoy the simple blessing of the amenity that I too often take for granted, it wasn’t the return of the power that gave me my greatest pleasure this week.

It was knowing that I had stared down a 49 year old monster and lived to tell the tale.
Facing my fear  is this week’s simple pleasure.

Sharing this with Dayle at
A Collection of This and That
For her Simple Pleasures party.
Head on over to enjoy other simple pleasures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ice on a Piney Stick Table

It's been a freezing week here in the piney stick forest as we thaw from the Great Ice Storm Adventure of 2011.

School has yet to resume since so many folks are still out of power.
And yes, I eventually lost mine as well.
It was no fun whatsoever. 

What it was, however,
was the inspiration
for our first tablescape of the year.

Now, this is not a snowstorm tablescape. If you recall, we never saw any snow down here in south Georgia. All I ever got was ice crackling all over the piney stick forest.

So we removed those smirking cloche skaters and set an ice storm  table.

We started with a shimmery silver overlay left over from the niece's Great Wedding Adventure of 2009. Then, we  layered it with silver and tons of cut glass. 

You know,  to look all icy.

 The place setting started with a silver charger which belongs to the sister. The rest belongs to the Duchess. The icy inspiration piece was the  salad plate from The Duchess's collection of Fostoria.

She's been collecting it since her Great Wedding Adventure of 1957.

The Fostoria is topped with yet more silver...

And finally with these crystal berry bowls. 
They came from my grandmother. 

I have no clue how long they've been around.

Next, we added the piney stick forest. 

We started with sprigs of  iced pines in every bowl. 
This is faux pine, of course. 
We just dusted it with a little white paint
and silver glitter. 

It's supposed to look like the porcupines 
from Monday's post.

We had planned to use these for place cards, 
but we couldn't think of an invisible person
goofy enough to come to 
a frozen table in a piney stick forest.

We iced more pines for the centerpiece 
and put them in more Fostoria.

We scattered more pines around the table.
Those are fallen pines.
You know, like the ones all over my lawn right now.

This cut crystal stemware is a recent purchase. 
It came from Belk this past season.
We can't remember the name of it, though.

We used an icy crystal coaster 
and scattered faux ice everywhere.

Icy cut glass salt and pepper shakers...

A cream and sugar set from that Fostoria collection.

And the tiniest pop of silvery blue in the napkins
because,  well, 
it was the closet thing we could find to silver linen around here.

Those are not snowflakes in the napkin rings.
They are ice crystals.
Just go along folks.

So there you have it...

Ice on  the Piney Stick Forest 
If we were successful, you should
shiver just looking at it...

So we lit a few candles.

Which doesn't help, does it?
Now, it just looks like
  ice on a piney stick forest...

without electricity.

Sharing this with the Porch People
I hope they all remembered to wear their jackets.


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