Friday, December 29, 2017

Punkin and Her Baby Mouse Are Ready!

They are back from the printers! The nice people at Staples wrangled with their color printer a bit, but we now have ten copies of "Punkin and the Littlest Mouse" here at the house, folded and stapled and ready to mail away. The cover is cardstock; the pages are on premium paper -- 31 color pages.

Of the ten copies, nine are already claimed. Here are the lovely ladies who have requested a copy:
Lisa R.
Henny Penny
Granny Marigold
my mother
Suzanne H.
Carolyn D.
Blair G.
Deborah M.
Karen S.

(I didn't include last names because some people don't want last names on the internet.)

The book is $10, and that includes shipping. If that's more than you want to pay, you may certainly back out, and I will not be in the least offended. If you would like the tenth copy, please leave a comment here or on facebook, and let me know. First come, first served. The tenth copy has now been sold. Thank you.

I will be making more copies. Adam and I will try our hand at scanning the original pages into a fancy computer and turning them into JPEG images so I can "scrub" them a little of a few ink blotches. Then we'll try submitting them to Staples online for copying, and I'm hoping to get slightly better copies. I told my mother that these first ones (like the original) have a few smudges here and there near the page numbers. And I ran some of the page numbers and one of the color pictures a bit close to the edges, and the copying sliced them just a little. But they are most definitely and adorably homemade, right? My mother compared it to "distressed" furniture, haha. I have written a distressed book :)

If you'd like to buy a copy of the next batch when they're ready, leave a comment here or on facebook.

There's even a Chicken Song of Victory at the end, with a Chicken Coat of Arms. I think you'll like it. 

If your name is on the list above, please send me a check for $10 (or cash) to
M.K. Christiansen
709 NC hwy. 304
Bayboro, NC 28515

Be sure to put your own address in there, and I will turn right around and send you your book.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Joy and the Peace

I finished reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion on Christmas night. I've taken up Touring Through France by Elizabeth Shackleton again, and am on page 190. I've also begun Elizabeth Von Arnim's The Solitary Summer.

There's a peace in living quietly, alone (we two) in our small house with our humble routine. We rise early, tend to animals, read, work outside, paint, drink tea, take naps, converse, learn, eat, relax, and sleep again. We love our quiet life.

But there's a yearning too, for our children, always in my heart -- it's love. We look forward to their coming, and we wonder at having them with us again, and as soon as they're five minutes in the door I begin to think about how they will soon be gone, and I'll be missing them again. Such joy to have them in the house! To hear their voices and hold them and discuss things and remember our family's private jokes and memories. To wrap our family identity around ourselves again like a warm, familiar cloak.

So there's such joy when they are here, and such peace when they are gone, and both are good. Both girls are gone now. My hairbrush is missing too, haha.
Anna and her boyfriend Gramm are now at my parents' house in West Virginia, and I know my mother must be over-the-moon happy to have them there. We loved getting to know Gramm. He is a neat young man, and they obviously care deeply for each other.
Here they are on Christmas morning:
 They've had a very long-distance relationship, but both have been diligent to have weekly online dates. Gramm often goes to a coffee shop near his home, and they date-chat there. For Christmas, he got Anna a mug from that shop ... and his mom got him a matching mug from there! Isn't that sweet?

Speaking of sweet gifts, Adam got us two passes to Colonial Williamsburg for 2018!!!!
 We both grew up quite near Williamsburg, and we've longed to go back there. Now we will!
It was a lovely Christmas.
 Rather nippy weather, but our 4 space heaters seemed up to the task. Julia slept on the couch to be warmer than in the little building she usually sleeps in.
Here's how the living room looked after gift-opening:
 I set the table for Christmas dinner. 
Adam cooked up a storm.

 My wedding crystal and china. My mother's silver.
 Lots of beautiful Christmas cards atop the piano!
 Linda and Jordane came for dinner too. Dave felt unwell and couldn't come, which was sad. He lives alone and is just a little older than my dad.

I think this year my overwhelming feeling at Christmas is thankfulness. Thankful to have my girls home. Thankful Julia has had a good semester. So thankful for Anna and Gramm. Thankful that Peter and Shani and Philip and Kara are doing well. God has been gracious to us all. 
Peter and Shani in London for their honeymoon!

Philip and Kara in Peoria for Christmas.
Today we put away all the Christmas decorations - tree, ornaments, stockings. The quiet house is back to normal. I picked up my Punkin book at the printer's, and this creative life will stroll along again. May God keep us all in His care. I hope Christmas was merry for all of you, and may the new year bring blessings and peace.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Year of Reading

That's a bold hope. I plan to take my reading in hand in 2018 and correct my book negligence. Christmas was so helpful! I received a pile-o'-books under the Christmas tree -- think 'Jolabokaflod,' the lovely Iclandic tradition -- so I'm all set to make a course correction this coming year.
Saltzman's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, The Strangers Gaze: Travels in County Clare,
 Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, Isacoff's Temperament
The books above are ones I bought in 2017 (three left over from last Christmas!) and did not read. I'll address them first. The books below came as a Christmas Book Flood yesterday.
Trollope's The Way We Live Now, Alexander Smith's Friends, Lovers,
, The Lost Art of Gratitude, The Comforts of a Muddy Sunday,
John Masefield's The Box of Delights and The Midnight Folk
I'm a huge Trollope fan. I'll give away the Smith books after I've read them. The Masefield stories are lovely children's videos on youtube!
Elizabeth Goudge's The Joy of the Snow, The Little White HorseThe White Witch,
Elizabeth Von Arnim's The Solitary Summer, Elsbeth Huxley's
Gallipot Eyes, and a selection of short stories in
Home for Christmas
Lila by Marilynn Robinson is under there too.
(I also received chocolate to go with the books.) Have you Von Arnim fans heard of The Solitary Summer? I was excited to find another book by her.

These rules, found on a facebook meme (how's that for irony?) may help:
How to Read More:
1. Throw your phone in the ocean. (or keep it in airplane mode)
2. Carry a book at all times.
3. Have another book ready before you finish the one you're reading. (Make a stack of books or load your e-reader.)
4. If you aren't enjoying a book, stop reading it immediately. (Flinging it across the room provides closure.)
5. Schedule an hour a day for reading.
6. Keep a reading log and share it.
Holiday reading by Charlie Mackesy
I don't just miss the act of reading; I miss who I was when I was more of a reader. The many imaginative worlds that dominated my mind as a reader expanded my own world; I feel my world has shriveled and shrunk without them. 

I won't give up real online friendships and conversations, but I must limit them, time-wise. (What happened to the life we had before, where "news" was a small 5-minute blip in your daily life, but reading was that wonderland you filled your mind with? I'm sick of 24-hour worrying news.) I love blogging and visiting blogging friends. I like a quick catch-up on facebook each morning. I know as I limit my facebook time, facebook will limit what it shows me. C'est la vie.
woman reading - Antonin Personnaz. Woman leaning out window. c. 1910.
I may keep a better current reading log here, to hold myself accountable, and post about what I read. I must stop reading books that bore me, and pass them on. That would help! So -- what are you reading? Do you plan to read more this year? Do you have tactics to realize that goal? 
from The Tassajara Bread Book, which I bought Adam for Christmas --
thank you, Gretchen!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Enchanted Airlie in the Rain

Since October Adam has been planning a "Christmas Date Surprise" for us -- a special date filled with Christmas beauty that I would love and we would both remember. He chose a trip to Enchanted Airlie in Wilmington. As you know, it was quite rainy that day, and this is an outdoor event. However, we took our gloves, Gill coats (sailing rain gear) and warm shoes, and we soldiered on! I'll share lots of photos of the gardens in their splendid lights. Airlie Gardens is along the water, making it yet more lovely. As we walked (twice) around all the paths and sites, beautiful Christmas music accompanied us.
 Early on the walking tour we still looked fairly dry and perky.
The Poinsettia House, where they sold hot beverages and popcorn. (We were still stuffed from dinner though.)
 Lit icicle tree:

 This exhibit, the Bottle Chapel, was my very favorite.

 It was all magical and lovely. Many families with children visited too.

 I was mesmerized by the lights in the trees.

 One of our first stops was the Airlie Oak, a stunning live oak tree in the center of a grassy sward.
 Replete with Spanish moss, the tree was underlit with alternating green, purple, blue, silver, and red glow on the moss.

 The gardens overlook Bradley Creek.

 A large fallen trunk abuts the walking pier from the creek.

 The Poinsettia House again -

By the end, we looked more like this:
It was a wonderful Christmas Date Surprise! I hope Adam does something like this every year, and I wouldn't mind going back to Enchanted Airlie again ... in dry weather.