25 December 2009

Christmas Greetings

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:1-20 KJV
Christmas is filled with so many things that enrich our lives -- delicious meals, candles, beautiful decorations, evergreen wreaths, gifts, special music and more. But if you took all of these things away you would still have Christmas; for it was (and still very much is) about the love of God for the world and NOTHING will ever change that.
Christmas Blessings,
Photo: Central Oregon Cascades

18 December 2009

The Cries of the Human Heart

Sometimes, during times of great uncertainty and stress, I have found myself unable to pray--my words just seemed to be inadequate for the circumstances. Instead, the words of songs such as "Kyrie Elieson/I Call to You" (Jeff Johnson) and other songs became my prayers----prayer songs.
Such was the case when my son was in a dangerous place not so long ago
and, despite a few times of great fear, I was quite aware of God's peace and those prayers being answered.
Now as our family faces this new and frightening situation (exposure to asbestos), I find myself praying for what seems to be hours at a time and my prayers have changed. No longer are they prayer songs, but now they are prayers lifted directly from the the Bible; verses which keep flowing into my mind with little to no effort on my part, mixed with a few of my own heart's cries. As was the case above, these are being added to by the prayers of believing friends and family.
Already God has answered some of these pleas for help and guidance, but the fight is-at this point-a daily one and I have times when I find myself literally shaking with fear and unable to eat or sleep well. Sometimes peace is no longer a given and I feel totally dependant on God for it.
And though I would never have chosen to be in this situation, I am very conscious that God seems to be using it to build my faith, trust and dependance on Him.

God is good---ALL the time.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6 KJV
"'For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek Me." Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT (© 2003 Ilumina Software, Tyndale House Publishers)
Photo taken in the Columbia River Gorge area years ago in winter.

14 December 2009

On the Mountain

Despite my very real problem and fear this evening, my mind and heart are with the families of the kids that set out to climb Mt Hood this past week.

If you haven't heard about it yet (it has been carried on national and PNW news) three young people were climbing Mt Hood (in the Oregon Cascades) last Friday and didn't return. At this time one has been found dead of hypothermia and his two friends--a girl and guy--are still missing despite searches by aircraft. There have been multiple issues with a high avalanche warning and now a new weather front has moved in which is expected to bring a large amount of snow to the mountain. The temperatures have been low until recently because of a subarctic front that has been in the PNW till lately.

This story is close to my heart; not because I know these young people but because, in my college years, I met the child of a man who had died in his climb of one of the Cascades (he had been caught in a storm). It is also close to my heart as a mom of three young adults, as a grandmother and as a fellow Christian.

Please if you get a chance say a prayer for those who are involved in the search, for the families of these kids and for the two missing climbers. The climber's names: Luke Gullberg (found dead on Saturday), Katie Nolan and Anthony Vietti. Thank you.
Update: the search was called off for the 2 remaining climbers. Weather + mountain conditions posed too much risk for the brave Search + Rescue teams and chances of survival are extremely slim. The families, from all the reports I have seen and read, are hanging tightly to their faith in God in spite of this tragedy. May God be with them.

A Warning!!

Home is supposed to be a safe place--a haven of peace away from the worries and stresses of the outside world. But what happens when your home isn't?
We've dealt with quite a few problems so far--mold, water damage, mice. All OK. But then, as we were working on the kitchen, I was reading a book about remodeling and a sentence caught my eye about the possiblities of asbestos in 'older' vinyl sheet flooring. I started web surfing and found this problem had been identified quite a few years ago. OK, slight sigh of relief...but what I found next scared me and sent me searching for more info; on a site answering questions about asbestos I read accounts of homeowners who had found it in flooring from the 80's and possibly beyond that (90's). And some, like us, had already been working with it; at least one mom with young children at home had and she is not alone!
This led to getting a hold of the experts for our area and having a sample tested. Today we recieved the results...positive for asbestos in the floor's backing.The rest of the day has been somewhat a blur and now this evening as I sit here with the mindless chatter of the TV on, there are no words to completely describe what I am feeling right now; let's just say it is a mixture of anger (at the craziness of the thinking that led people to put this stuff in homes after the dangers were clearly identified), fear, bewilderment, unbelief at the situation -- all this mixed with a bit of faith and trust in God.
It wasn't supposed to be like this--the problem is 'older' sheet vinyl flooring (and other things) and this has been a known problem since the 70's (or before??). Now would it surprise you to hear that our home was built in the early 80's? Hardly older wouldn't you think and pretty disturbing that this was still being put into the backing of sheet flooring AFTER it was identified as a known hazard and one that is not indestructible! I truly just don't get it.
Nothing much can be done about the matter now; as I have already said we have all been exposed to it. Now my family has some hard decisions to make on how to deal with this. And this is where the tiny bit of faith and trust come in...
Despite the obvious turmoil in mind and heart right now (did I say my oldest son has been living with us?), this verse keeps playing through my mind and spirit: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5,6 KJV
I am scared, yes. Any human, any wife, any mom and grandma would be at this point. But when I am filled with fear rather then choosing to be 'frozen' or overwhelmed by it (although the problem does seem a bit overwhelming right now) I keep turning to God and trust that He still has my good in mind. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 KJV.
We can't control everything in our lives. I've had friends that have suffered the loss of spouses and children; I've had friends that died-in accidents and from disease. I've known (and know) those who are dealing with chronic illness daily. I am also aware that we live in a world that is filled with uncertainties over economic situations, war (and the threats thereof) and a world where everyone--both Believers and unbelivers suffer at times. Speaking personally, I am glad that at a most unsettling time like this I can turn to God, both in prayer and scriptures for peace. I am thankful that, at the times when I feel most alone I can also turn to fellow Christians for prayer support.
And now to my second public 'service' announcement:

PLEASE, if you are doing remodeling or repair in your home check with your state's agency that deals with asbestos. For general info check this site also:

Additional notes and links:
1) Testing was under $50. Your state agency should be able to give you a list of places where you can have this done and further guidance re: abatement, etc.
2) No vinyl flooring to worry about? Good, but please for the sake of your family and selves check out the link above and many more that talk about asbestos in the home and elsewhere. It is found in quite a few things--some types of ceilings, some insulations, some floor tiles, etc.
3) I am not trying to frighten anyone, BTW, just inform. I AM NO expert, hence the link to the experts:)
4) Wikipedia's general article on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos

11 December 2009

Unclaimed property

So I am stuck tonight using my DH's PC till I get the part I need for mine--hence I am a bit without photographic resources at the moment; you'll just have to imagine a few nice photos of frozen ponds, a beautiful bouquet my Farmer Boy surprised me with tonight, pics of the new (working) range and upper cabinets (looking pretty organized) and pictures of a still somewhat chaotic mess here!!! Hope you all have good imaginations:)

Because I am without photos at the moment--thought I would make a public announcement here and this is it--

Did you know that states have websites in which you can search for unclaimed property? Well it's true--at least for Washington and Oregon--and having checked both of them it didn't take me long to come up with the names of businesses, friends and family that I was familiar with; the money owed them ranged from under $50 to over $100 and the sites clearly describe how to claim it. Check it out yourselves -- just 'google' unclaimed property and your state's name. BTW--the sites I searched were clearly government sites and appear to be totally legit; it goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) I would make CERTAIN that you are dealing with a government website before giving any personal info out in this day and age!!!! Good luck!

From the land of the ice and snow (well maybe not the latter)....

Advent Blessings,


05 December 2009

PNW Farm Tour: Plants, Trees, Decorations & More

Continuing on with the PNW farm tour we come to another farm which is actually more a nursery/store but is an awesome place!! We were in search of the legendary ice apples which magically appear there early in November each year and disappear within a few weeks. Since we had been blessed to have some of them last year we arrived early in their 'season'-eager to again enjoy their magical deliciousness Can I say we were not disappointed?

While we were there we had to have a look see at the magical world the Purple People had created there...it definitely got me in the Christmas mood but being the good little Pilgrim child that I am, I waited till now to post the photos:) It wasn't easy!

Confession here! I have such a weakness for gingerbread men. They are just SO cute and irresistable! Maybe it was a result of reading the Gingerbread Boy when I was younger or perhaps it is just they are SO yummy and delicious, but I am hoping that Farmer Boy will soon be done with the kitchen cabinets and hooking up the new range:)

Another tree I liked was this one (although there were many beautifully decorated Christmas trees there). I also need to confess I have a weakness for reindeer, moose, elk and deer. One time when I was a bit younger then I am now a group of us visited a historic house that was hosting a special event. They had a Christmas tree in -- or at least it seemed this way--almost every room of the house! It actually was pretty neat and with all the ornaments I have collected plus ones that are easily made (or gathered from the garden or kitchen) I might be able to do that someday...maybe next year when the chaos from the BIG project has cleared:)

In addition to my aforementioned weakness for Gingerbread Men, reindeer and Bambi types, I need to confess my love for just a few other things--one being St Nicholas and the other two are penguins (love their tuxedos) and polar bears, especially little polar bear cubs. Hence the photos here (sorry no penguin pics this year)

Besides the wonderful ice apples and 'animals' on trees, Al's has such a large variety of poinsettias that I was truly amazed--they were everywhere! They had them in white, mauve, red, pink and a new one called Cinnamon Star that I fell for.

Another plant I fell for was this one--a shooting star hyacinth.


Beautiful aren't they? The white poinsettias were amazing too!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE crèches--this one is very nice with the angels on the tree. I always think it's neat when I see one at businesses or in public places.
Hope you enjoyed our little trip in the PNW--
here is a link to this 'farm's' website.
Advent Blessings,
A big thank you to Al's for giving me permission to post these photos here on my blog and a thank you to their helpful staff there (and as per usual -- I am not associated with them or any of the farms I have featured) Just think they are ALL great places to visit in the PNW:)

Walks in His Gardens: Late Autumn's Garden

While changes continue to take place in our home, changes are also taking place in the garden which now looks much more like the late autumn garden it is (well mostly). Near the berm in the Japanese-style garden, the camellia has been blooming since before Thanksgiving -- beautiful rosy pink blossoms set amidst glossy evergreen leaves. Quite a dramatic sight at this time of the year when so many plants have gone dormant and where bare branches seem to rule the land.
In another part of the garden brown fuzzy kiwi still hang from bare branches, now clearly seen without any leaf cover.
Update: As of this afternoon--late, late this afternoon--I can happily report they were all picked except for a few too high (and too hazardous to reach given the deepening shadows of the late, late, late hour). And yes, the lingonberries were picked this afternoon too--can I say 'finally'?!
Back in the Japanese-style garden, a temporarily semi-frozen pond holding captive the aquatic plants which once floated on its surface not so very long ago.
Although so many of the once colorful autumn leaves now lay on the ground--dry and brown--a few plants haven't lost all their leaves yet and on some plants (caneberries here) the leaves still glow red in the late fall sunlight.
A few mushrooms too add unexpected color to the garden---these will NOT be harvested. Aimee DOES NOT like poisonous fungi--ick--and she is constantly hunting them down and discouraging their growth in her garden (once she takes their pictures of course). Actually to be totally honest, Aimee does appreciate their unique beauty but removes them because she doesn't want her precious puppies nibbling on one of them :)
Another unexpected bit of color! A few rose blossoms remain (along with some other surprises)-- call it a result of our wonderful microclimates here; or perhaps a very strange weather year, but whatever the reason their beauty-especially at this time of the year-is greatly appreciated!

04 December 2009

Art of the Father

The other day a ray of light shone through our window making a plant's blossoms glow in it,
turning these fragile flowers into red and white works of art;
the living origami of a heavenly Father.
And in those few moments, as I paused to admire their delicate beauty-
their graceful shape-
and the beautiful colors
the Artist had combined together (so perfect),
I realized that I had just seen a miracle-
the miracle of life.


29 November 2009

Advent 2009

Freezing temperatures, snow-capped mountains, bare tree branches and frozen ponds.
Evergreen wreaths, garlands of cedar and beautiful ornaments.
Gingerbread, fudge, fruitcake, baking (well not until the range is connected), gift lists, cards to be sent.
Candlelight, Nativity plays, carols, special meals and Christmas bazaars.
All a part of the Advent and Christmas season here in the PNW--
but it is so very much more.
To read about the significance of Advent, a season of preparation, and to check out some links with online Advent calendars and related info see my post from Advent 2008 (links updated for 2009):
Note: Sorry this is late; I am backdating it to the first day of Advent 09 which was this past Sunday, November 29th.

26 November 2009

Giving Thanks on This Thanksgiving Day

--As the sound of our cordless screwdriver and pounding fills the morning air mingling with the sounds of History Channel’s special on the origin of Thanksgiving and Bread (the musical group not the baked kind) from another room; as the sight of 'chaos' because of our BIG project meets the eye I can honestly say that I am thankful for SO many things in my life!

  • For family and friends
  • For a warm house and a talented Farmer Boy
  • For the meal we will have in about 3.5 hours
  • For this year’s harvest
  • For the beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis no matter the weather
  • For a Godly heritage
  • For this life and so much more!
I am also very thankful for each and everyone of you -- visitors to my cyber home:)
Blessings this Thanksgiving Day,
A Pilgrim Child--Aimee

"I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving…Let the heaven and earth praise Him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein."
Psalms 69:30, 34 KJV
Photos: Pilgrim Teddies in the garden
Note: For a look at some Pilgrim locations follow this link to my post last Thanksgiving season. You will also find links there to many reputable sites about the Pilgrims, including first hand, original documents. Thanks to my cousins for their kind permission to use the NE photos on my Thanksgiving post last year. May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving:) Love, Aimee

21 November 2009

Grandma K's Gift

Of all my grandparents, I was closest to my Grandma K--possibly because we were able to spend much more time with her then with my other grandma who lived quite a distance from us. Anyway, I still really miss her and sometimes (please don't laugh) I even ask God to send her a message from me. Of course I am not sure that is theologically sound doctrine but I know that God understands all about our love for family members-both those we still have with us and those that have died.

Well recently I got a gift from her (please don't freak out on me now) which as you can imagine is very, very difficult seeing that she died years ago. Actually to clarify the gift from Grandma K arrived many years ago but I had not realized it as being from her in all this time.
You see I have some things of my Grandma K's--an old tabletop Christmas tree that lights up, a hand held washboard and a few other things--none of them of immense value from an earthly standpoint, but all of them priceless to me because they were hers--because she used them; because she chose them to put them in her homes. ---
Awhile back, I called my parents to get some more information on these family items I had been given because I wanted to do a blog post on them since I had been thinking about my Grandma K. There were the items I have mentioned plus an old Singer sewing machine table which hadn't come from her but which I wanted more information about too ( I thought this was from my great aunt who had also passed away quite awhile ago).
And that's when the gift from Grandma K arrived; for as my mother and I were talking she told me--much to my surprise--that my great aunt's sewing machine had gone to my sibling and the sewing machine and table I had was from my Grandma K! And then she told me more:)

And that is how I received a gift from Grandma K recently.
What gifts have you received from your ancestors and relatives that you treasure? I also have some old furniture -- two dressers and more, some crocheted tabletop covers, and more; on the furniture, I am thinking of possibly using the dresser as a bathroom sink vanity (it would have to be modified for this use) What do you think? Would you do that or keep it as a dresser?
Photos & notes:
My apologies for some of the bad photo quality here-the lighting in our bedroom is really bad. Sorry!
1) Grandma K before "the stork arrived". I love this photo!
2+3) A Dubl Handi. This one was from either the late 1930's or early 1940's and they are still being made today. Now I think that is very, very cool! If I remember correctly, my mom said Grandma K used this when they were living in a cabin high in the Rockies.
3+4) An old electric tabletop Christmas tree. This was bought when Grandma was living in the Rockies. I am hoping very much to use it this year in one of our rooms--depends on how far we get with the BIG project (sorry but I did not light it up for the picture as I need to get a replacement bulb for the base) The color of the tree itself is not white but kind of a champagne white, like the color wedding dresses take on after many years. Also I think it is supposed to have a garland of beads on it but I was in a hurry to get the photos for this post so didn't bother adding them. I believe this would date from the very early 1940's.
5-8) A Singer sewing machine + table. Bought in the PNW when Grandma K was living on a ranch. She used it to sew clothes for her daughter on and kept it in the sunroom. I absolutely LOVE the detail on it! It is so beautiful although it needs some refurbishing and a good polishing for the table which has been used as a nightstand for quite a few years now. I am hoping to do all that needs to be done to it and then use it--although I have not sewn since High School, I think it would be very special to use the same sewing machine as Grandma! Oh the table is in the Queen Anne style. It is from the late 1930's I believe.

Walks in His Gardens: Autumn Wanderings

Autumn is an amazing time of the year in the PNW and I love nothing better then to wander about on rural and mountain roads every chance I get and everywhere I travel. With so many paths and so many roads there is never a chance of becoming bored
Some routes climb up into the foothills and mountains, leading you over train tracks
and by old trestles on narrow country roads that wander about the rural setting. .
Some roads run down into the valley past fields now emptied of their crop.
Many lead past old barns with dramatic rooflines.
Every turn, every curve of the road brings you to a new discovery, a new view, a new panorama that delights your eyes...and your soul if you let it.
It is a journey where even the seemingly common things of this world are transformed into the dramatic.
It is the beautiful PNW in autumn
and its sights and sounds bless me everyday I am alive.
"O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
Psalms 34:8 KJV
Photos taken in the same region as the Farm Tour.

20 November 2009

Party Like A Baby!

So I'm sure you are asking yourself how does one party like a baby? Well allow me--one proud grandma of one beautiful baby granddaughter to tell you how it is properly done.

First you must begin with the party girl. She must be one year old and dressed appropriately for said party--in this case coifed in a cute little hairstyle and suitably dressed in an adorable yellow and blue sundress with ribbons down the back.

Of course, there must also be party guests prepared to celebrate such a grand occasion with said one year old birthday girl--parents, big sibling, grandparents, great-grandparents and other friends and family.

Party decorations are likewise vitally important to every first year party's success and must be carefully chosen --BIG balloons are an absolute party MUST!! Also key to the party's success is their placement; BTW Grandma thought the balloons were totally awesome!!
Let the party begin!!!
Family and friends arrive, food and beverages are served, partiers enjoying themselves, baby girl taking it all in….good thus far.
And then it is time for the rite of passage; the symbol of a new year arriving for said baby girl--it's time for the birthday cake of course!! And in baby girl’s case it was delectable birthday cupcakes.
The birthday candle, the birthday melody, birthday candle extinguished--good thus far!
The traditional birthday cake mess all over the face and body? WHAT? Nope, not much of one at all--one wipe with a towelette is all that is needed! AMAZING!
Grandma is SO impressed with baby girl's dainty manners (after all your uncle needed a bath after his one year birthday cake!)! Impressive! What a good mom you must have little one! (BTW baby girl cupcakes were made by talented mom of baby girl, and her very talented mom! And have I said yet that they were really, really yummy?) Especially the chocolate ones with the white frosting! --
But what is this?
This large cup full of brownish, sugary liquid..so close.
the balloons with those tempting long strings
one quick moving baby….
the hands, the grip, the pull down, the bump….
the fast moving liquid swiftly moving towards the food,
the mom,
the grandma...
The intensive clean up!
(But none on the party girl!!! Yea! The party continues with the opening of the gifts (see below for photos).
So how do you party like a baby? You do it as all other babies have done--in your own unique and special way
(AND BTW Baby Girl that is just one of the reasons we love you totally…
because you are so uniquely you and we wouldn't have it any other way!)
And now a few other birthday photos...
Stretchhhhhhhing is such a good exercise and SO important with the many toy temptations close at hand.
Party gifts included some beautiful clothing, a big red colander (kind of like grandma's big red bowl), some cute little toys and stuffed animals, and these wonderful noise making maracas!! Baby Girl really liked them--maybe she will be a percussionist someday? Maybe, not.
A milk break for one thirsty little party girl -- after all partying can make baby girls SO very thirsty when one is not used to it!

A first chapter comes to an end and a second one begins! Congrats little one and GREAT JOB on passing this important rite of passage!!

But most of all --
blessings always and lots of love too!
Grandma Aimee
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