I take control with sentences.

I’m having that feeling of Too Muchness. I’m trying to reject it – it’s only a feeling. What is truly required of me? Jesus told Martha that only one thing is needful, and that her sister Mary had chosen that “better part.” What was Mary doing? Listening to her Lord.

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I can’t listen to Him and entertain these depressing thoughts at the same time. If hear Him correctly this afternoon, He is telling me to play Bing Crosby singing “Silent Night” and “Frosty the Snowman,” and to write down some of the things in my life that are threatening to overwhelm me. It seems to calm me to take control by putting all the craziness into sentences and paragraphs, where it doesn’t loom so vague and impossible.

Also, writing it down shows me that in the balance the crazy aspect weighs a lot less than the obviously good and wholesome, the things that are easy to be grateful for and happy about. I took some pictures of the garden and grandchildren and such beautiful things to intersperse among my sad tales. That way you have the option to just scroll through the pictures — if you even have time to be here this Month of Too Much. 🙂

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The first photos are of my church at night, when a performance of choral Christmas music was performed here and special lighting was set up outside. Inside, also , we had all the electric lights turned on before the candlelight performance began, and I was wearing my glasses, so everything looked very bright and clear! Normally for evening services we only have candlelight.

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I had returned from my travels in time for Thanksgiving, but because it took me so long to finish my travelogue, I failed to show you any pictures of our festivities.

We feasted at Pearl’s in Davis, but the next day all the littlest grandchildren were here with their parents, and the weather permitted them to play out in the garden and to make gourmet salads and casseroles using various approved cuttings from various plants including cherry tomatoes, yarrow and nasturtiums.

gl129-p1060072I had bought junior-size lawn rakes which Scout and Liam were eager to use to help rake up the pine needles that continually blanket the ground. Ivy and Laddie enjoyed using the heavy equipment in the gravel utility yard. And Ivy took her alligator on a culinary tour to feed it different flavors of leaves.

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Everyone loves our vintage Playmobil with its detailed parts.

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While both families were packing up to go home, Jamie was sitting in the entryway in this sweater I had just given him. It was knitted by his great-grandmother for her first granddaughter Phoebe. Then my children wore it – at least a few of them – a lot before I accidentally shrank it and made it into this boiled-wool sweater that actually fits, and complements Jamie’s fair coloring. Perhaps he has made use of it this month in their snowy weather.

At the end of November asparagus crowns arrived in the local nursery, so I took a couple of days to prepare the two areas in my front yard that had been reserved for this one vegetable crop. Preparation means, in this case, digging out a foot of dirt. It was loose, imported loam, but it was wet, and represented a lot of shoveling.

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I started to carry the dirt in buckets to the other side of the driveway but quickly realized that I’d never get the job done that way, so I hopped in the car to drive to the hardware store to buy a wheelbarrow. It didn’t make the job much easier at first, because the tire was too low on air. My bicycle pump wouldn’t work. So I plugged away, on the lookout for my neighbor Dennis to come home from work, and as soon as I saw his truck I was over there begging for help. Whoosh, his airless pump did the trick.

After two days I wasn’t quite finished with two beds of similar size. I knew I needed to take a day off, though, because my back was tired. Turned out it was more than tired – it was truly “out,” and I was laid up for several days and missed church and a St. Nicholas Faire and baptisms and a special dinner. Kit finished the last of the preparation for me, and I ordered a kneeling chair such as I used to sit/kneel on 15 years ago to spare my spine.

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Then Monday my back was 90% better! I put the asparagus crowns in the bottoms of the holes, and covered them with a couple of inches of dirt. Maybe it was because I was racing against the coming rain that I forgot to take a snapshot of the stages of planting. Here is a photo from online showing how they look just before being covered with soil. I planted 35 crowns.

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Now that bed looks like this:

gl129-p1060140Those brown hoses are the irrigation lines that will lie on top of the soil, under the mulch, when I am all through putting the dirt back. Most people fill it back in gradually, but one expert gardener I saw online seemed to think it didn’t matter and he replaced it all at once.

Here is a sort of blank place in the front garden, where I plan to put a bench under the osmanthus. Maybe I need to cut out some more low branches first. I will sit there in nice weather when I’m feeling friendly, and call to the neighbors who walk past.

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My kneeling chair arrived, and I managed to assemble it by myself. That’s the secondgl129-p1060158 item I have put together now! But the replacement casters I bought to protect my wood floors didn’t work, because they needed to have threaded stems. So I boxed them back up and took them to the UPS store, and today the next set of casters arrived and they did work. Here is my chair, which I quickly amended by putting a memory foam pillow on the kneeling pad, and even that is not friendly enough to my shins – so I am working on my technique for kneeling on this thing, even as I type. I was not so delicate 15 years ago!

After I plantgl-129-img_3928ed the asparagus it still hadn’t started to rain, so I reorganized the woodpile. I have eucalyptus and oak now, in different stacks. I got them separated more cleanly from one another and filled my firewood rack in the garage with both kinds, and I covered the rest completely with tarps. In the course of this work I found where the rats (before I got rid of them) had made nests reminiscent of Brambly Hedge in a sort of multi-level apartment arrangement. They had chewed up some of the old tarp for their nest.

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This morning when I was lifting a bag from the coat rack on the wall, the whole thing started coming off and one screw came out of the wall. I tried and tried to put in a new drywall screw, but nothing worked; the hole got bigger and bigger. I watched some YouTube videos on different types of fixes using even more types of screws I didn’t have. I decided to make new holes just above the present ones, but I didn’t have two of the best kind of screw anymore, because I had wrecked them. After spending an hour on this unexpected project I had to admit to myself that I needed to hire a handyman to do the job for me. I don’t really have anyone I’m used to calling, and I dreaded making the arrangements.

But I had to postpone thinking about that – I must run some errands. I left the mess on the table, and went out the front door. At the same time my new neighbor went out to his car a few feet away, and I remembered that he is a handyman, and he has been very friendly to me, so I asked him if I could hire him to fix this little problem. He said sure! And he will come tomorrow. I argued with him when he said it is such a little job he won’t charge me. I told him I will be home all day because my daughter and granddaughter are coming to bake cookies, and his face lit up. “Cookies? You can pay me with cookies! Seriously.”

So that tale ofgl129-img_3934 woe has turned into a happy thing, a chance to get to know my neighbor, and even feed him! I was able to feed more people this week: First, DIL Joy’s mother, whom I took out for her birthday; she grows micro greens and petite greens to sell to fancy restaurants, and she gave me a pot of petite kale greens for salad snipping.

Pathfinder was on a business trip that brought him into town on his very birthday, so we went out this week, too. The year he was born he was my best Christmas present by far.  And I’ll get to see him and his whole family in just a fortnight, for Christmas. It looks likely that all five of my children will be here then! The first time since their father’s funeral – It makes me cry to think about it. I wonder if we can manage a thing where they all gather me in a multi-hug?

Yesterday my friend Tim, who was a pallbearer at Mr. Glad’s funeral, came over for along-overdue visit. I fed him soup and fried bread, and strong coffee. We sat by the fire, the first one I’d made this season, and talked and talked. Now that felt very normal and necessary. I’ve been working so long on this post, I didn’t make a fire this afternoon, and I’m getting chilly here in my corner.

Though I haven’t got my tree up, or added more strings for the peas to grow higher on, or written many Christmas cards, I did put a big wreath on the front door. One step at a time, and one word at a time, I’ll do all that’s necessary. And Christmas will come. O Come, O come, Emmanuel!

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19 thoughts on “I take control with sentences.

  1. Isn’t that the magical thing? Christmas will come whether you get all the jobs done or not, and then all those busy children of yours will bustle around and finish things off, because they love you and are young and bouncy! Your gardens are looking beautiful, and you were so clever to ‘hire’ your next-door neighbour. He sounds like a good one! Hope you are using your sore back as an excellent excuse to lie in bed and read 🙂 Much love and hope for health and for quiet times as well as lovely family times in your Christmas season xx

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  2. So sweet. I am thankful that the blessings were there when you needed them. The angels seem to be keeping you company. This is a good day for baking -warm and cozy.  Love, Christie

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  3. lots of good things here. it is so hard to pace one’s self! I get it. I also get payment by cookies! yum! I had to be reminded that if I think of all I have done or all I need to be done at once, I will only get tired and overwhelmed. Now I am much better, remembering that I can only do so much at a time and only 1 thing at a time. God bless you!

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  4. Some years ago now when our family faced much illness with two dear members facing cancer at the same time, I found my own wellness slipping away from me as a result of the turmoil.

    I providentially found a CD of Mario Lanza’s Christmas songs, which included the beautiful and oh so comforting song “Guardian Angels”. I would play it over and over to ‘shoo away the bears’ and darkness that threatened to overwhelm. It helped me through a most troubled Christmas time and I’ve been ever grateful to Mario for singing it all those years ago.

    Here are some of the words:

    Guardian angels around my bed
    Joining me in my prayers
    They hush the shadows when they dance about
    They shoo away the bears
    Guardian angels to comfort me
    If I wake in the night
    They gather all my dreams
    Their halos are my light

    Here is a link to a youtube where Mario sings it:

    I was blessed to read your post today. Thank you!
    Brenda xox

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    1. I thought I was the only one familiar with this recording! No one else has ever said they know it when I mention it. My very old tape will break some day and I’ll have to search for a replacement.

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  5. Your family is so beautiful! Thinking of things for which to be grateful is the best way out of that feeling of being overwhelmed which can come all too easily around Christmas! Your garden is also a blessing and your neighbor! Be well. Breathe. Listen. Let the peace of Christmas fill your heart.

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  6. Love this post and all the pictures. I like that “and Christmas will come”. Yes it will! I just took down 10 boxes of decorations from the garage storage yesterday. I just may leave some unopened and listen to some Christmas music also. 😍

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  7. After the title (surprising with its mixture of whimsy), my favorite part is,

    “I will sit there * in nice weather when I’m feeling friendly, and call to the neighbors who walk past.”

    I so miss the old front porch neighborhood from childhood. Where we live now, the “new” neighbors have been in the house next to the one across the street probably three years now, and we have never even spoken! I introduced myself early on, but not even a “hi” or wave from their yard since. I love your idea of making a place to sit and greet people when you are “feeling friendly.”

    This whole post was really nice to read. I do know what you mean by the calming effect of writing. It even has that effect on certain of your readers.
    . . . . . . . . .

    * i.e., on the new bench under the osmanthus with its low branches cut back — I love this image. I don’t have such a nice place for a bench. It would feel odd to sit out in the open on a folding lawn chair, waving to cars that speed by.

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  8. Jo said everything I was thinking! 🙂 I love that you’ll see all of your children at Christmas. My husband’s funeral was the last time I saw all of my kids together, though both of my sons have come separately. It sounds like you’re blessed with some good friends! Your garden’s looking beautiful. I’m keeping my Christmas simple indeed. Some good Christmas movies and relaxation. We’ll do all of the messy stuff at my daughter’s house! lol

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  9. Writing and making lists has always helped me sort out things, if nothing but to give me a sense of accomplishment for pushing through. I’m happy that your children will be with you this Christmas. I know how much you miss your husband. It will be good to have your grandchildren by your side. They can bring out the joy and smiles in you. Wishing you peace and lots of hugs!

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  10. “I take control with sentences” is such a lovely and poetic way to express the untangling of thoughts that comes as thoughts flow down the nerves to emerge as scratchings of a pen on paper. I am the same. Writing eases the pressure and somehow makes everything manageable. Writing and prayer. They are much the same, I find.

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  11. Yes, this is what’s necessary only – to do the next thing, as much as we have time for, and are able to do. I say this for myself as much as for you! Your new neighbor sounds like a keeper. The blue sweater does look great on the little guy.

    (Your posts are so meaty – I mean, they’re not just thrown up like mine are – that I can’t always respond as soon as I see them) 🙂

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  12. I’m completely amazed by all you get done, even though you say you’re slower getting it done now. But I can very much relate to your taking control with sentences, only I’ve never thought of it such lovely terms.

    Thank you for your well written posts, they are nourishing to read.

    A blessed Christmas to you and each family member as they gather all together with you this year,

    Dewena

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  13. I remember my mother’s growing sense of amazement at her own abilities as she began her new life after my father’s death. He died in 1981, and she lived on for thirty more years, learning one little lesson at a time: how to put gas in the car; how to get a newspaper from a vending machine; how to gather the courage to stay in a motel without him by her side. (Even though I was there, I wasn’t considered much protection.)

    It’s good that you have friendly neighbors to help you out, as did my mother. We say so easily that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, but sometimes we forget that our willingness to receive is what makes giving possible for others.

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