Friday, October 31, 2014

Our Halloween 2014

It's Halloween!

So much to do!

Time to carve the pumpkin!

I cut off the top and pulled out all the seeds before the kids did their stuff.

They marked their plans with pen, but then changed their minds. I used Magic Eraser to get it off. Works great!  

Textures fascinate me, even on the inside of pumpkins.

I did the finish work of making sure no pumpkin pulp was hanging out of it. There is a mini flashlight hung inside by its cord, which is wedged between the pumpkin and its top.

Here's the Jack O' Lantern, a few smaller pumpkins (one carved, two adorned with Sharpie marker), and two ceramic. Some of them are lit by battery powered tea lights. Note the cement blocks at right - they spell Boo.

I went to Walmart today and bought four marigold plants to brighten up the garden path with Halloween colors.

I also bought myself a bag of sugar free chocolates so I wouldn't be tempted by the kids' candy. I've always exacted a Chocolate Tax from them. This year? None! Still no sugar! I've got my Russell Stovers.

I'm on the go a good part of the afternoon and evening, keys in pocket, purse in hand.

Little Lady is a zookeeper, complete with a name badge and a monkey to hang around her neck.

Teen Girl is a nerd. The girls decided to go to the Trunk and Treat at the local Methodist Church where we went to the pumpkin patch last week.

Giving the gospel.

Carrots or candy?

Tropical themed treat table.

Free snow cones!

Beautiful sunset on the way home. Teen Girl snapped these photos out the van window.

At home, the two younger boys are getting ready to go out. 

I drove the boys to the next neighborhood over for their trick or treating. They take my phone so they can call when they're ready for me to pick them up. My oldest son joins them a little later with his Superman t-shirt.

The girls went trick or treating with neighbors.

I mostly stayed home to hand out candy.  We didn't get many trick or treaters until after 8 PM, and then they came in bunches.

My own kids came home with piles of sweets, which they dumped out on the floor to trade. This is one child's stash.

Now she's had the sense to bag up almost all of it for me to hide in my closet so she doesn't eat it all too fast. Good girl.

I'm certainly not going to take even one bite.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

P.S. We didn't really let the kids go trick or treating (except for at a few friendly neighbor's homes) until just a few years ago. When our adult daughters were young, we'd let them dress up in cute costumes with stuff we had at home, and we would have a party just for them with fun games. We might also attend harvest festivals at local churches. The younger ones have enjoyed the change in protocol for these past four Halloweens, and other than the sugar rush, we have never had a problem with it. I know that people of faith have many different opinions about this. This is just how we do it. :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More from 31 Days of Autumn Grace

Dear friends,

This month, I'm still doing almost all of my writing over on my This Mom Grows Up! blog for the 31 Days of Autumn Grace series.  I already gave you the links for the first 10 posts there, but here are 13 more!

Oh, and I put my Autumn & Thanksgiving page back on this blog!

#11: Dark Night of the Soul When the lights go out – spiritually or otherwise

#12: Fall Fun for the Family and Appalachian Melody Lots of links and a bit of lovely autumn music from the late Mark Heard

#13: Simple Strawberry Smoothie (No Dairy, No Added Sugar) Yummy delicious recipe, and an update on “I don’t eat sugar!”

#14: Lovely as a Tree and "Ombra Mai Fu" Aria A poem, an opera aria, and a collection of my favorite tree photos for your enjoyment

#15: Reviving My Fall Flowers I’m not exactly a green thumb, but I’m trying to keep my autumn garden growing pretty.

#16: Decorating Your Desktops for Fall Make your computer desk top and your regular desk top look great for autumn!

#17: Beauty and Justice for All (My Small Adventures) A trip to beautiful Park Avenue – and then a visit with my homeless friends. Where do aesthetics and ethics meet, globally and locally?

#18: A Little Scattered Gratitude Art show with my son's student entry, lots of blog visitors interested in Mark Driscoll, and a kind CPAP technician

#19: Hope and Glory A little encouragement for enduring when the way is hard

#20: "Accept My Full Heart's Thanks" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox A classic poem of gratitude

#21: Oh, the Stories We'll Tell! My favorite part always? Listening to stories and telling them, too.

#22: My Glorious Dish Towel (Repost from 2007) A favorite essay from my archives – and I’m still sentimental about dish towels!

#23: Fall in the 50 States (and Other Lovely Links) Love, love, love these photos! And check out the other links for the day, too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

"The Harp in the Willow" (A Poem)

“The Harp in the Willow”

by Virginia Knowles

We hung our harps in the willows
When we could sing no more
They dance in the branches
To the tune of the wind on their strings.

This is not our homeland
Captives we are, far from our own paths
We are poor in spirit: mourning
Remembering, lamenting, longing.

We can spare no lilting melody to amuse
The mockers who lock away our destiny
Our lives are not in harmony here
And we cannot sing of joy.

Sing we will, one day, for
Someday freedom is coming and
Harps dancing in our hands
We will sing our sojourn home.

This poem is inspired by Psalm 137, a lament of Israel in exile: 

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (KJV)

(I remember learning this round based on Psalm 137 when I was about 12.)

I added a note of hope in the last verse of my poem, but I still remember that grieving the traumas of life, whatever they are, can be a long and gradual process. A measure of comfort and joy will come, and there is no need to rush. Let us honor this reality, and bless one another with the gifts of hope, courage, patience, and understanding.

Poems in the same spirit...
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. The willow photos are borrowed from my hymn post What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 31 Days of Autumn Grace on My "This Mom Grows Up" Blog

Hello there! So it's been a while since I've posted here. I've got a good reason for that!

I took the 31 Days of Autumn Grace challenge of writing a post every day, and the blog I chose for that is my This Mom Grows Up blog. So far, I've posted there for 10 days in a row. Crazy, huh?  Fortunately, they're not all long and complicated. Take a peek! And a listen! Two of the posts have symphony music linked in them, and there's more to come!

#9: Give Us Grateful Hearts

#10: Beethoven's 6th Symphony, 4th Movement

Some of the photos from my
Autumn Grace series...


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Visit with Dad and Anny

Last Wednesday, my dad arrived from Maryland with his sweetheart Anny.

Anny is German-Bolivian, and speaks Spanish better than English, so my youngest daughter made a sign that read "Bienvenidos a nuestra casa, Anny and Abuelo!" (We practiced a few other phrases before they arrived.)

Sweet Anny jumped right in to befriending my children. One of my teen daughters was preparing for an All State chorus test, so Anny helped her by playing the practice piece on the piano.  This comes naturally for her since she was a music teacher in Bolivia for many years.

Dad kindly brought down a large framed print from his dining room that I had asked to have after my mom died last year. I hadn't had the room in my van to bring it home when we went up this summer for the Hess family reunion. This picture has been a favorite of mine for the longest time - "Hailing the Ferry" by Daniel Ridgway Knight. So pretty! 

My sweet Mom
What makes it even more poignant is that it hung in my grandparents' "Squirrel Hill" homestead in Pennsylvania for decades, and I'm guessing my mom grew up with it. My Aunt Nancy says she thinks it came from my Grandpa Hess's side of the family since he was so fond of it. I love heirlooms that span the generations. 

On Thursday, the kids were off school for Rosh Hashanah, so most of us decided to go to the scenic boat tour on the Winter Park chain of lakes. 

So many magnificent mansions on the lakes! I still like the plants and animals best, though.

(Mr. Rogers lived here on this lovely house on Lake Maitland.
I can imagine it is always "a beautiful day in the neighborhood here!)

After the boat tour, we stopped for lunch at The Coop, known for its southern cuisine. (It's owned by 4 Rivers Barbecue, so what can we say but "Yum!") We bought a bunch of chicken (served in a big tin bucket) with some sides and served it all family style around our table.

Our next stop was Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art on Park Avenue. It's the home of the most comprehensive Tiffany stained glass collection in the world, as well as a lot of other American art. My mother, a talented stained glass artist, loved this place. I still do. Photography is not allowed inside, but here's a shot from the back of the building. You can also see much of the Morse collection at their web site linked above. As I walked through the galleries, I kept thinking, "Feast! Feast! Feast!" That's what art is to me: a feast for the soul. I think I'll do a separate post on my This Mom Grows Up blog about my reflections on the Morse art.

That evening, we invited my wonderful German next door neighbor Marianne to come for dinner. She had a lovely chat with Anny in German, of course! Marianne has been such a marvelous friend all 21 years that we've lived in this house. What a treasure!

On Friday, we went to my daughter Julia's apartment for lunch, and my daughter Mary's family joined us, too. Mary's husband Ryan enjoyed a German chat with Anny, and Julia showed her photos from one of her own five trips to Bolivia. I loved seeing all four of my adorable grandsons in one place.

That evening we had a family dinner with eight of my ten kids and all four grandsons, and the next day after breakfast, Dad and Anny left for home. We all love Anny and we're glad we had a chance to get to know her. 

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

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