A December View

A December View.

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A December View

A December View.

A December View

Memories

It’s the first day of school around here which brings back a flood of memories. When I was in school, it seemed that it always rained the first day. Maybe that’s because for my last six years of school we lived in a rural area and I had to walk one mile to the bus stop.
Nevertheless, the first day was always exciting. Seeing old friends again, and cautiously meeting new ones. In most of the schools I attended, we were pretty sure who our next teacher was going to be, so the first day was filled with either joy or fear. Teachers had reputations.
Of course, today, with all the modern technology, the kids receive their class schedules, teacher information, etc. before the first day, so there aren’t too many surprises. But there’s still the excitement of beginning a new year.
Starting with the preparations – new clothes, and new school supplies. When I was growing up it was the only time we went shopping for new clothes and shoes. And a lot of that was done in the Sears Roebuck or J. C. Penney catalogues. School supply shopping was done at the Five and Dime. Who remembers fountain pens and bottles of ink? The funny little bottle with a pocket-like place on the inside for filling the pens with the plunger? And the hole in the corner of the desk for holding the bottle. My dad liked purple ink – that would have gone over big in Strasburg! But most people used blue or black. But it didn’t really matter what color it was if you spilled it – it all made a big permanent stain. And, of course you had to have a blotter.
Ah, the memories! Composition books; three-ring binders, subject dividers, art gum erasers, pencils (No. 2 of course), crayons, Elmer’s glue, blunt scissors, pocket dictionaries, construction paper, and lined notebook paper.
Now things are so different – it’s lap-tops, electronic tablets, flash drives, etc.
Recess was so much fun – jump rope (remember Double Dutch?), jacks and marbles. If you were pretty good, the boys would allow you to join their circle, especially if you had a really neat “shooter”.
I have one grandson entering middle school for the first time, another going into his first year of high school and another one entering his senior year of college. All of them are experiencing different emotions. I look forward to hearing about their new experiences.
From my spot at the top of the hill, I can watch over a dozen children board the big yellow bus. They’ve had a lot of fun all summer, riding their bikes and scooters and playing tag and ball and hide ‘n’ seek. I’ll miss the squealing and associated noise during the day.
Then in a couple of weeks, they will take turns knocking on my door with their school fund raising projects. I’ll have to decide between candles, popcorn, pizza, wrapping paper, etc. which I will have forgotten I ordered until they come around with their deliveries.
Ah, the memories!
And God Bless the Teachers and the Bus Drivers!

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

Irene's tulips and my Iris

Irene’s tulips and my Iris

I think Spring is finally here. As I venture down the hill, the View is wonderful.

The tulips and daffodils and forsythia were rather short-lived but certainly were bright and colorful for a while. My favorite trees, the Red Buds, provided a brilliant display against the dark evergreens.

The Iris this year are absolutely beautiful, and such an array of colors – pale blue, deep purple, bright yellow, stark white, bronze. And then there are the multi-colored ones – deep purple with white fringes, pink and white, brown and yellow and reddish purple. My favorites are the ones that are such a deep purple they appear black.

The ones in my back yard are at least three feet tall, I’m certainly going to miss them when they stop blooming. The lilacs were not only beautiful to look at, but were super fragrant this year and I’ve seen about three different shades, from deep purple to pale lavendar and white. The roses are loaded with buds and a few more sunny days will bring them into full bloom. The heather and Russian Sage provide different shades of purple – the official color of Strasburg. Almost every house is adorned with red and white geraniums and various shades of pink and red petunias and other annuals.

After having my hostas and day lilies eaten to the ground by the deer for two years in a row, they appear very healthy this year and I can hardly wait for the day lilies to start blooming.

My view is not limited to flowers. The children are enjoying the pleasant weather and the streets, lawns and sidewalks are full of bikes, scooters, skate boards, electric cars and ball game and squeeling, giggling boys and girls.

And I must not forget to mention the birds. They sing and chatter from early morning to nightfall. A pair of finches built a nest behind a shutter on the front of our house and I can see two tiny heads in it. Every time Tiger goes outside, the parent finches get very nervous and follow him around fussing loudly. And I can hear a woodpecker working in the woods behind my neighbors’ house. Unfortunately, the black bear is still making occasional appearances, so we can’t have bird feeders out to attract more birds. And with the destruction of our small woods last fall, there are fewer squirrels. I miss their chatter.

Anyway, life on the Hill is great and I wish Spring could last all year!

It Pays to Start Early

It Pays to Start Early

Today it’s not so much a “View” as it is “News”. on Wednesday, April 30, I became a GREAT GRANDMOTHER And not just any great grandmother – but TWO. Yes, TWINS – a boy and a girl. That is doubly exciting for me because so far I have only been presented with BOYS! Five of them. Finally, I can enjoy looking at frilly little dresses and bonnets. Don’t worry, Charlie, I won’t go overboard.

As I was patting myself on the back and thinking of all the joy those five boys have brought me, I realized that at my advanced age of 76, I won’t be able to do a lot of the things I did with the previous generation. I’m not so naive that think we can have over-nights and week-long visits, go sight-seeing and on picnics, to concerts, etc.

My next thought was why is being a GREAT grandparent so special? Perhaps it’s just that four generation families are somewhat of a novelty. I was partially raised by my maternal grandparents and occasionally visited their parents (my great grandparents). But they were “old” and they passed on before I became a teenager.

After pondering all of this, I reached the conclusion that, sadly, if young couples continue the trend of not starting their families until they are nearly 40, they most likely will not ever reach the “great”grandparent status. I think it is sad for the potential great grandparents and sad for the children who will never know them. I want my great grandchildren to remember me – even if it’s only that I sat in a wheel chair and worked on quilts or listened to strange “ancient” music.

So my advice to young couples is not necessarily to get married younger – just don’t put off starting a family too long if you want to experience what I am today by those two little bundles of joy, Brently and Mackenzie.

Three Quarters of a Century – WOW!

All my life I’ve marked my age by the decade or quarter century. The first Quarter was pretty exciting. I was a working mother and life was good. But when I reached the Third Decade, I suddenly felt I had somehow left “Young” behind me. By the Fourth Decade, I was a stay-at-home Mom with three kids – busy but not much excitement.
Then came the Half Century. A single Mom, a new career, a college degree and a grandchild. Life was still good but the body was beginning to show the wear and tear and required some tune-ups.
The next two decades were filled with good and bad events. Happiness and sadness. Lost my father and a son, but gained a daughter-in-law and more grandchildren. Enjoyed some traveling in the U.S. and Europe and entered into retirement and a second marriage and some miscellaneous post-retirement jobs. Also acquired a new son-i n-law. A new cycle of life began when I took on the role of parent to my mother and moved to the Shenandoah Valley.
I love the Valley – the pace of life is slower and the people are genuine – once they decide to accept you. Also, the Valley is so full of history, especially of the Civil War and I have become interested in reading about it. It’s so much easier to understand when you can identify places with the facts.
The Seventh Decade brought the beginning of a steady decline in health, requiring many repairs – 1 ear surgery, 5 eye surgeries, and 2 back surgeries. My pace of life became much slower. Now as I have completed the Third Quarter Century, I am finally beginning to feel more like my original self. I am looking forward to a more active decade. My body is slowly regenerating and my mind is racing ahead. Many dreams, many projects.
First on the agenda will be to complete the crib quilts before the birth of my first great grandchildren – yes, twins! I can’t begin to predict what will follow, but I feel I am ready for it. There’s painting to do in the house; there’s more landscaping to do outside; the church’s thrift store has expanded and requires lots of attention and there’s always the opportunity to volunteer at the local Library and meet many interesting people.
Keeping up with the family is almost a full-time occupation: one grandson is on the police force in Warrenton, Virginia and about to be the father of the twins; another grandson is an honor student (a junior) at Shenandoah University; another grandson is employed by Fairfax County Public Works, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather; two more grandsons are excelling in sports (baseball and football).
My daughter and son have become mature, responsible adults and I am proud of family.
In my leisure, which is not abundant, I still enjoy reading, quilting, gardening and now, writing. Gardening is a bit of a challenge and I have to pay to have some of it done at my direction.
So three quarters of a century is not bad. Look out eighties, here I come!

Ah . . . FEBRUARY

February is the shortest month of the year, most years having only 28 days; it could also be considered the strangest month of the year because every fourth year (Leap Year ) it has 29 days. Frequently, especially in this area, it is the coldest and snowiest month. February, in spite of its shortness has many Holidays or days of special observance:
February 2……………..Ground Hog Day
February 6 ………….Ronald Reagan’s Birthday
February 10…………..My Birthday
February 12…………Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
February 14………Valentine’s Day
February 22………George Washington’s Birthday

Christians begin the observance of the 40 days of Lent on Ash Wednesday, which sometimes is in February.

February is also called Heart month and the emphasis is on Heart Health – important to all of us. Red is the unofficial color for February – red – the color of blood which sustains our hearts and our lives.

By some, February is considered the “Love” month, symbolized by the exchanging of sentimental greetings, candy, and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Red roses are considered the symbol of love. And that cute little guy, Cupid, is believed to go around shooting his arrows of love into the hearts of young adults; thus many wedding engagements occur in February.

February’s flower is the Violet, the lovely little purple wild flower that hugs the ground and blooms very early in the year, and the birthstone for February is Amethyst, a beautiful clear purple stone mined mostly in the mountains of South America. In ancient times, purple was considered the color of wealth and royalty.

Some February Challenges:
Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your being;
Love your Neighbor as yourself;
Count your Blessings and share them with those less fortunate;
Live a heart-healthy lifestyle – exercise and eat wisely;
Donate blood if you are able;
Donate to the Heart Association for research;
Respect and Honor our forefathers and our current leaders;
Appreciate and love the beauty of our World.

FOR GOD SO LOVED THeartsHE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON . . .

Ah. . . FEBRUARY

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