Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011

January 2011

 February 2011

 March 2011

 April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

 July 2011

 August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

And I wish you all a wonderful 2012!!

This post is linked to Mosaic Monday, which I didn't know about until Jan 2!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Muker, Pronounced 'MEW-ker'

I plan to be back visiting your blogs next week. Until then, I'm taking a break with the family, enjoying the grandkids, too much good food, and the unseasonably warm weather here in NW Wisconsin!  I posted the following earlier, but thought you wouldn't mind seeing that cute little sheep again:

You may have noticed the annoying little munching sound when you visited this blog in early 2011. If you had scrolled down to find the source of the racket, you would have seen 'Muker,' my (virtual) pet sheep. I've had his sound turned off since then because evidently he was annoying to some people. Can you believe it??!

Muker is named after the sheep pictured here, who was one of those indescribably cute sheep grazing in the Askrigg Common, an area of the Yorkshire Dales. It's a beautifully bleak and harsh area one finds when driving from Askrigg to Gunnerside, LowRow, and Muker (from whence comes the name of my sheep.)

Here are a few more pics of Muker. There's just something about those little Yorkshire villages that is so appealing to me and makes me want to go back. It seems to be this time of year every year when I want to make plans to go to England. And, believe it or not, I particularly long to go back to the Askrigg Common and look up those lovely sheep.

Alas, airfare keeps me looking at photos instead.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Aert van der Neer

A Frozen River Near a Village, With Golfers and Skaters
National Gallery - London

This picture was among those on my Jacquie Lawson London Advent Calendar this year. 
I thought it was so beautiful, I had to look it up and find out something about the artist. 
So, from 

Aert van der Neer 

b. 1603 Amsterdam, d. 1677 Amsterdam

"A master at representing light, Aert van der Neer painted moonlit river views that embody the principles of Dutch landscape painting in the 1600s. Those principles included isolated figures on meandering paths that cut through a wooded forest, and cloud-filled skies. Van der Neer used a restricted palette of earthy colors and, like most artists during this period, painted indoors. Although he did not receive much attention in his own time, modern scholars praise his ability to create a sense of space and atmosphere.

Van der Neer first worked as a steward and then became a painter, possibly as a result of contact with his wife's brothers, both of whom were painters. His first known painting, which dates to 1632, shares stylistic similarities with those of his brother-in-laws. Later in his life, between 1659-1662, Van der Neer and his son were the keepers of a tavern. After then declaring bankruptcy, his property--including his paintings--were appraised at little value. He continued to paint, residing in a state of extreme poverty, until his death fifteen years later."

I remember that famous line from the movie Gettysburg, when Aert said, in his Georgian drawl, 'My people were Dutch.'  (Sorry, that's just a little inside joke for my family, great fans of James Longstreet.)

By the way, if you haven't yet seen the Jacquie Lawson London Advent Calendar, be sure to visit her site. You won't be sorry. I know Christmas is over, but the calendar is worth looking at anytime.

I plan to be back reading your blogs next week.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ignorance and Want

I plan to be back to your blogs next week. For now, I'm including the following, a post I wrote in early 2010. I hope you all have a great week!...

 Ignorance and Want

In northwest Wisconsin when it's 15 degrees below zero, we become fascinated by things like fire, woodpiles, and watching the outdoor thermometer. Fire is one of those paradoxical things - it's comforting and terrifying. Comforting when it's contained and terrifying when it's not. The photo above is of the fire contained within our wood-burning stove in the living room. The reflection of my robe as I'm taking the fire reminds me of Dickens' Christmas Carol where, under the robe of the Spirit of Christmas Present, are revealed the two dirty and neglected children, Ignorance and Want. Doesn't that look like a head inside the stove? But of course it's just a hunk of oak. Actually, I cropped the photo, leaving out the piece lying horizontally in front - that looked enough like an arm to creep out the faint of heart.

And here is the lovely, much-appreciated wood pile, especially enjoyed by me because I'm not the one who has to go out to the woods and chop down the tree or cut and split the wood. I only have to sweep up the wood chips now and then, and keep the fire going - not too difficult when all I have to do is open the door of the stove occasionally and throw in another stick of wood. I love having a wood-burning stove - which, unless the fire's out, guarantees that there's at least one spot in the house that's warm.

It's time to take the dogs out for their last potty break of the day.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Little Books and Netflix

The following is one of the first ever blog posts I wrote, in January of 2010. Since this is a busy week for us, I decided to take a break and simply post a few re-runs. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I plan to be getting back to your blogs next week...

There is just something so appealing about little books. Whether it's my pocket-size Emma or Treasure Island or Chicken Soup With Rice, little books can easily fit into a purse or rest snugly in your hands. I think that a love of little books begins in childhood. Little kids - little books. When my children were little, they loved little books. Remember Beatrix Potter? She obviously was aware of this fact.

I recently discovered a wonderful series of books from the turn of the last century. Published by the Henry Altemus Company, these small-format (about 4 x 6) books are part of the Vademecum Series and have beautiful hard covers, some with paste-ons. Having enjoyed the series 'Cranford' on PBS Masterpiece Classic, I managed to locate Elizabeth Gaskell's book Cranford in the Vademecum series. It doesn't have a publication date, but according to the above-mentioned website, it was probably published before 1901 when the covers with pictorial paste-ons came on the Vademecum scene. Paste-on or no paste-on, my copy of Cranford is a beautiful little book (pictured above).

So... my husband and I had this discussion tonight, 'Which Movie to Watch.' I suggested that we watch 'North and South', from the book of the same title by Elizabeth Gaskell. He absolutely refused. He likened it to Jane Austen's Emma and would have nothing to do with it. Try as I might to convince him that it is nothing like Emma, (which I loved, by the way) that he would enjoy it because of the subject of cotton mills in 19th century England and the relationship between management and labor, the misunderstandings and misperceptions people hold about one another, etc. etc., he remained resolute.

We are going to watch a Netflix Instant, Cities of the Underworld - 'City of Caves,' Budapest, Hungary. Okay, so I'm giving in. I'll have to admit that it is absolutely fascinating and worth watching a second time. Maybe he'll have to ease slowly into 'North and South.' This may take some time.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Word Became Flesh

Adoration of the Shepherds
by Gerrit Van Honthorst, 1592-1656

'But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.' John 1:12-14 

Have a very Merry Christmas!  In Jesus Christ, we have hope and a future!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dog Waiting for Santa

Just in case there's anyone out there who hasn't yet had the opportunity to see this CUTE YouTube video!

For all you dog lovers out there. :-)


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Shepherds, Dung Sweepers, Tax Collectors, and Women

The following are excerpts from the book Come Thou, Long Expected Jesus.

'No Christmas program is complete without its little band of gunnysack shepherds. Frightened by the angel’s sudden appearance, they marvel at the good news from the angel and rush to Bethlehem to see the Savior-King. As they return to their flocks, they praise God and tell all who will listen about the birth of the chosen Child.

They finish spreading the good tidings, leave the stage, and we hardly give them another thought.But why did the announcement come to them at all? Why not to priests and kings? Who were they that they should be eyewitnesses of God’s glory and receive history’s greatest birth announcement? In Christ’s day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.' - Randy Alcorn

'In the incarnation, the annunciation comes to a woman. God penetrates the world through the womb of a poor, unwed, Jewish, teenage girl. The first theological reflection group trying to wrap their minds around this to figure out what this means and what is going on is Mary and Elizabeth.

We know that in those days women had a very, very low status. They were marginalized and oppressed. For example, we know that a woman's testimony was not admissible in court. Why? Because of prejudice against women.'  - Tim Keller

God first appeared to the poor, the downtrodden, the despised. Unlike us, God is not a respecter of persons, i.e. He's not impressed by people or 'status.' Scripture reminds us that we are ALL born in sin, we are all hopelessly lost but for the love and grace of God. We are all on a level playing field - at the very, very bottom, 'dead in trespasses and sins.'   Like Lazarus dead in the tomb, there is nothing we can to do save ourselves, nothing we can possibly do to merit our salvation.

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. 
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death - but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

BUT, while we were yet sinners, God, in His great love for us, made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, died for us, paying the penalty for our sin, and giving  HIS righteousness to all who trust in Him.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.' John 3: 16-18

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

May you have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, our only hope.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Shock and Awe

 the littlest grandson
photo sent to me by his mama

 his uncle, Christmas 1971
So filled with awe and wonder...

...that he fell over backwards

Who came up with the decor for the '70s anyway???! YIKES.

Merry Christmas!

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The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

King's College Chapel, Cambridge

This Christmas Eve morning, we'll once again be listening to the live performance of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge, England.  (And actually, tonight we're going to be meeting our son and daughter-in-law in Minneapolis for a performance of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, so we'll get to hear it twice!)

As of December 12, we are able to print out the program booklet that accompanies this year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. I love to do that, for then I can follow along while listening to the performance. It's not like we have to have the printed word in order to understand what they're saying, but you've heard the saying, 'two nations divided by a common language.' :-)

And what are the Nine Lessons? They take us from Creation to mankind's fall into sin and hopelessness, to the birth of our Savior and the Redemption of his people.

Remember: Listen to the LIVE broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, KSJN, 99.5 FM, 9 AM Christmas Eve Day. (That's 3 PM Christmas Eve in Cambridge, England.)

...♪Once in Royal David's City♫...

choir boys 
getting drenched on the way to the chapel

Listening to The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a tradition here. I hope you'll make it a tradition at your house too!

P.S. I wrote a post about The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols last year also, with a video clip of some of the music. You might enjoy it!

Have a very merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Stockings

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Tuppence & Lionel
Misty & Bridger

This is what it has come to.

Good thing they have pretty low expectations.

Here's hoping you find more than dog and cat treats in your Christmas stocking!

P.S. When I was complaining mentioning to Kevin yesterday that it seemed like it was already getting dark!! at 3:30!!, he reminded me that it was, after all, 'the shortest day of the year. Just think, from now on, the days will be getting longer!' That man is an eternal optimist...and much to my benefit, I might add.

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