26 August 2006

Closet Treasures

One of the things we loved about this house was the walk-in closet on the ground level. It's not a huge closet by any means, maybe 4x5 feet, but it was certainly larger than the little coat closet where we had kept all our decorations crammed for ten years: mostly Christmas, but also for other holidays and seasons. When the seasons turned it was like a clown car with storages boxes coming out, being rearranged, and going back in; the only time it was half empty was during Christmas.

Today we visited Hobby Lobby. They had all their ceramic and resin figures and statues on sale. I'm not much of a Hallowe'en person still, but I had fallen in love with a jack o'lantern they had there: James actually thinks it's glass, with an opaque but iridescent type paint on it: the orange skin and a green stem, with the black eyes done in some sort of matte texture. Not sure of how it looks under incandescent light, but in fluorescent light it simply glows without having a light in it. It was counted in the half-price items, so I bought it. I also got the cutest fabric reindeer with my 40 percent off coupon. Both needed to be stored away.

It's occurred to me for several weeks, since bringing home various Hallmark ornaments and fall things, that I needed to clean out the "Christmas closet" and find the rest of my fall things, as we had bought some autumn decorations last August at A.C. Moore in Warwick, RI, and a few things at JoAnn and Michael's. So while James was at his club meeting, I dove into the closet. I'm still not finished and my feet hurt, but all the patriotic things are now in a container, all the summer flowers in another, the spring and Easter things in what used to be the Thanksgiving container, and the Thanksgiving and Halloween things in their own box which had been a hotchpotch of things. The big steamer trunk that was my grandparents' has been shifted again. I have an idea to do what my dad used to do and store the Christmas tree with the lights on it (thereby relieving myself of that dreaded job) under plastic, and I needed the corner where the trunk was for it to stand upright. It's clear but I haven't moved the tree yet since I want to vacuum there.

In the process of cleaning out things I tossed away some old decorations that were too dusty to donate and found some things that didn't need to be packed away: a couple of gifts, the apple crock that James bought me last year at the Christmas Extravaganza at the Cobb County Civic center (it's for dips; you put ice in the bottom part and then put the matching ceramic bowl inside the crock and it keeps the dip cold so you don't have to worry about the sour cream base spoiling), the Christmas linens (which I will put in our closet with the other rarely used kitchen things like the turkey roaster), the autumn tealight holders and the battery powered tealights that go with them, and the autumn wreath for the front door.

I still need a container for the winter/Valentine's Day decorations but everything's a little neater (or will be once I vacuum and put it all away).

For now I'm going out to supper...

21 August 2006

Angels Unaware

TCM was doing David Niven movies today; I finally got a decent copy of The Prisoner of Zenda this morning. This evening they showed The Bishop's Wife, and, despite the fact that it's the depths of August, I settled down to watch it as if Christmas were approaching.

I love this movie. I've heard complaints that it's in black and white (eyes roll) or that it's too slow, but I find the leisurely pace magical, as Dudley the angel slowly makes the household happy and reminds Bishop Brougham what's important in life. There are wonderfully funny scenes with Monty Woolley as the Professor (especially the magically refilling wine glasses) and the Bishop's chair problems and the gossips at Michel's, and simply magical ones like Dudley telling Debbie the story of David, helping Debbie play in the snow, and finally the lovely ice skating scene. It brings back old-fashioned scenes of children romping in the snow, Christmas trees being decorated on Christmas Eve to surprise the children next morning, department store windows full of toys, live trees purchased from the florist, and beautifully paned windows—I even enjoy looking at the different windows in this exquisitely dressed film: the diamond colored glass of the Professor's apartment, the bottle-bottom round panes in Michel's, and the beautiful casement windows of the bishopric. The whole film is so colorful that I forget it's in black and white; I can imagine it all myself in living color.

This film was commonly shown at Christmas when I was quite small, then it disappeared. Of all the memories I took away from the film back then, it wasn't the actors or even the story, but of Dudley decorating the tree with a swish of his hand, and most of all the Christmas sermon about the empty stocking. It is a timeless one.
"Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts—but especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled...all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the Child born in a manger. It’s His birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched-out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth."

14 August 2006

Coping and Counting the Days

If you sneak into my cubicle right now I am playing Christmas music.

I was hoping perhaps this year it would be different, that being in a new house would make the difference in the way I felt in the summer, since James wouldn't have to climb on the roof to clear off the pine straw and clean the gutters and I wouldn't be standing there below with my heart in my mouth, and with a brand new air conditioner and airy-er rooms, hopefully no ant invasions to contend with.

But I can't help it, summer gets harder and harder to bear every year; if I could get the years back at the end of my life I'd consider hibernating May through September (and what would I do about work?). The hot flashes make it more difficult to bear the heat and when I get the least bit warm I feel "funny"—I can't even describe the sensation, but it makes me worry about my heart. Plus when I do get too overheated, like last Friday, my heart does start tripping a bit (not over 100), which is unsettling.

Add that in combination with end-of-fiscal year work—and the huge wasp that managed to get in last night; it disappeared after we saw it near the lamp and have no idea where it's lurking—and we're talking good old fashioned depression here. Hence the Christmas music.

I'm enjoying the fact that the crafts stores have their fall items and even some Christmas items out; I buy one or two small things to fit into the "Autumn Hollow" theme every weekend, which may sound like I'm going berserk, but it signifies that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train.

The foyer of the house is pretty much decorated up to peak, except that I would like to put a wreath on the wall that you face when you walk into the house. But because this wall is over the stairwell that goes downstairs, it is difficult to get to the area. James and I were discussing the possibility of, since it's a half wall, an overlook from the living room, that we could suspend the wreath on a ribbon from the top.

There are several fall angels, both wooden and ceramic, with leaves for wings, dotted about. I need to rummage around in the photo box and find a pic of my mom to put there; I have the frame already. Then there will be a real angel continuing to look after us all.

I finally finished what I wanted to do on the brickwork on the small porch on the front of the house. There is sort of an arch shape which almost looks as if a window could have been placed there but wasn't (there are sidelights on the door, so you really don't need one) and it looked bare. I put up a primitive-painted Americana type plaque there that I purchased at JoAnn, having gimmicked up the trees in the picture to look as if they have fall leaves on them and put a brown wash over the grass to make it look more autumn-y. But it looked dreadfully alone in that brick opening, so Friday with my Michael's coupon I bought a leaf garland, eschewing the more colorful ones for one with muted color and green leaves among the turning ones, to surround the plaque with. I removed the pumpkins and raffia it came with and used them in something else to mute it even more. It fills up the area a bit and adds to the house theme without being overt.

All the ceramics were on sale this weekend at Hobby Lobby, so I bought a dark leaf-orange "cake stand." I wanted something tall for the Expedit divider between the living room and kitchen and bought an apple topiary (because kitchen and dining room are themed in apples and cows). But it wasn't quite tall enough to "pull it up" the way I wanted, so I have the topiary on top of the cake stand, and around the topiary pot a large candle ring of autumn leaves to meld the two themes.

I'll have to keep up with the fall distractions until the real thing arrives, just to keep upbeat.

Three weeks from this coming weekend: the Yellow Daisy Festival, a wonderful precursor to fall. Yay!