Archive for the ‘Favorite Things’ Category

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Wednesday Wildcard: Today’s Post is Brought to You By the Letter “R”

January 7, 2009

I was cleaning out a closet recently and came across a box of college memorabilia. And tucked inside a large envelope with some old papers and photos was this… a “letter” from my brother on my birthday. It isn’t dated to the year but I think I received it sophomore or junior year. It was displayed with pride on the wall of my dorm room.

It’s hand-drawn on an old newspaper layout sheet. He obviously took a while coloring in the black area… the poster measures 18×24 inches.

Just a little peek into the humor I was steadily exposed to growing up. It is hanging in my office now 🙂

letterr

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2008: Favorite photos of the past year.

January 3, 2009

I’m planning to kick off with better/more regular posting on Monday. Today I just want to share some of the favorite photos that I posted in 2008. Most were taken by me, some are scans of old photos that are particular favorites. Enjoy!

training-hoop

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wholeshebang

this-is-living

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jumper

fledgling

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Seeger Memorial Chapel.

David Powers ('90) and I on the steps near the library.

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boyzinthehouse-88

brody-sad

fave-ornament

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Homecoming.

October 23, 2008

I’m heading out Friday morning for Homecoming weekend down at my alma mater, Milligan College (near Johnson City, Tennessee). It’s just about my favorite time of year, every year… I drive down Friday and stay with some dear friends that I went to church with when I was at school. I spend Saturday on campus catching up with college buddies and taking part in some of the official festivities. Then I go to church Sunday, spend a little more time with friends over lunch and usually enjoy a leisurely afternoon. To wrap up the weekend, I time my departure so that I am crossing over the summit of Clinch Mountain right around sunset. It’s wonderful, and I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

Photos and stories to follow!

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A Few of My Favorite Things IV

July 16, 2008

I am a tea drinker. I never have had a cup of coffee, just a sip once or twice. And it’s not that I think coffee is bad… I’ve just really never had a desire to try it. The smell to me is overwhelming more often than not. Plus, if you think about it, people talk an awful lot about how bad the coffee is/was at such-and-such a place, and “where can you get a good cup of coffee these days” and yadda yadda yadda. No thanks, I’ll just have some tea!

I like my tea strong and sweet (just like I like my men HA HA HA HA HA). I am not from the south, but my Mom definitely made something like “southern style” sweet iced tea when I was growing up. She had a yellowish colored glass tea pitcher – kind of funny shaped with wavy sides – and she would boil water in a tea kettle and then pour the hot water over the tea bags and let it all steep in that pitcher.

Which brings me to an important point: a good cup of tea is not made in the microwave! Heating water in a mug and throwing a tea bag in it does not make good tea. Hard to explain why. In a pinch, if you have to make a cup of tea using a microwave, you can boil the water in a large pyrex-type measuring cup, then pour that water into your teacup with the tea bag. But the way to get the best results when making tea is to boil your water in a tea kettle on the stove.

And if you are lucky, you might get to use a really, really cool tea kettle like this one, which resides at our cottage in Conneaut Lake, PA…

Mom bought this chicken tea kettle – I don’t know where, but I’m sure she could tell me – probably because it fits very well into the unique decor of the cottage. But we had no way of knowing how special the kettle is until the first time we boiled some water in it.

There are lots of tea kettles out there in the world. And while they serve a very important function, which is to help me make tea, the vast majority of them have one thing in common: they are annoyingly noisy! The whistle sounds that most of them make range from startling to downright intolerable. There’s nothing like setting a pot on the stove to boil, then taking a few minutes to do a crossword or read the paper, when suddenly you are jolted from your seat as the escaping steam causes the kettle to scream HEY! YOU NEED TO COME AND POUR YOUR TEA RIGHT NOW! NOW NOW NOW! HURRY HURRY HURRY OR I SHALL SCREEEEEEEAAAAAMMMMM SOME MORE!!!

But my favorite chicken tea kettle would never scream at me like that. No, this delightful bird gently coos you back into the kitchen, as if to say “the water is ready now, please feel free to come and pour your tea at your convenience. And have a delightful day.” Yes, the tea itself can help me relax, but when the process of heating the water is soothing all by itself? That is a bonus!

I think about stealing the chicken pot and taking it back to Kentucky with me one of these days… but I’m sure I’ll never actually do it. I like the idea that it will always be there for me when I visit the lake. Things get crazy up there sometimes, what with 11 people sharing three bedrooms and one bath! So it’s good to know that if things go berserk, I can at least sit back and listen to the water boil.

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A Few of My Favorite Things III

May 2, 2008

I am not a big jewelry person.

I have always been somewhat of a tomboy. Other than a certain number of “little girl” bracelets or necklaces when I was young, I really never wore much jewelry growing up. For the most part, it would have gotten in the way of my normal daily routine of playing soccer, riding my bike everywhere, getting dirty, or playing with GI Joes (which is a story for another day).

I never had my ears pierced and never will. I personally see no need for me to volunteer for that sort of pain, just so that I would then feel obligated to spend money on things to put in the resulting holes. If you’ve got your ears or anything else pierced, more power to ya… it’s just not my cup of tea.

Generally speaking, even when I do wear jewelry, it is rarely something that exists just for the purpose of embellishing my appearance. If I am going to wear something, I want it to have some sort of meaning that makes it special to me. I want to be able to say “this is the ring my husband picked out for me,” or “this is a pendant my Dad brought back for me from his trip to Egypt” (yes, Dad, I still have that gold charm you bought me years ago). My current “jewelry wardrobe” consists of my wedding and engagement rings, my college class ring, a birthstone necklace, and the necklace shown above

The cross was actually a gift that the boys picked out for me for my birthday about 2 years ago. It came to me on a regular chain, and I wore it quite a bit when I was dressing up for church or the like. I wanted to wear it more often, but the length of the chain was just not quite right to work with most of the shirts I wear. Also, I felt like I wanted something with just a little more “oomph” to it, because just having the cross on a simple thin chain meant it kind of disappeared up against some of my church outfits.

Several months ago I went to my friend Sheila Stephan’s to look at her selection of beads. Sheila has her own custom jewelry business, “beadtique,” which she operates from her house. I had heard about it for a long time but had never gone out to see all her wares (once again, I’m not a jewlery person!). I had done some design work for her… created a logo for her business, set up some business cards, etc… and she wanted to let me create a piece of jewelry in exchange for my services.

I spent a morning out at Sheila’s chatting and picking through her vast selection of beads and charms, and together we created the necklace shown above. Or, more correctly, I chose the beads I liked the best, and Sheila did all the work of putting it together with the nifty chain and the filler beads and so forth. And I am very pleased with the end result! I have this unique necklace that is a combination of a special gift from my boys, a symbol of my faith, and an expression of my own creativity – all wrapped into one!

My only dilemma now is, since it is not just a simple gold or silver necklace anymore, it is actually more likely to clash with certain shirts I might wear. I need to rebuild my wardrobe now, based on how well any new purchases might complement my necklace!

Thanks, Sheila, for helping me make this cool piece of jewelry. I plan to be back soon, to make something else in a different color scheme. Who knows? You might make a girly girl out of me, yet. 🙂

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A Few of My Favorite Things II

April 14, 2008

When I was growing up, this nativity was always on the mantel over the fireplace at Christmastime.

At some point, either when I was looking for some decorations for my apartment years ago, or perhaps when I was married and we were buying our first house, my Mom offered the nativity to me. I of course snatched it up immediately.

Christmas at the Bennett house was always a good time. We didn’t go too heavy on the decorations: a wreath on the front door, some electric candles in each window, a live Christmas tree laden with an eclectic assortment of ornaments and a train set running underneath. And always this nativity in the center of the mantel.

I spent hours, I know, gazing at this set when I was a child. The figures are glued in place, so I couldn’t move them around… but I didn’t care. I would often bring it down to the floor and set up a more elaborate display, embellished with additional plastic sheep, cows, and other farm animals that I had in my toy collection. Of course every animal or person that was added had to be looking at Jesus.

I’m not sure when or how my parents acquired the nativity… whether it had been given to them, or if they had purchased it themselves somewhere. I do remember thinking that it was old because, you know, to a young child it certainly looked old and rustic. Then one day I recall being out at the mall with Mom and/or Dad during the Christmas shopping season, and there inside one of the stores I saw several similar nativities for sale. It was a little disconcerting, because I had been under the impression that no one else had a set like ours.

Nonetheless, it was special to me.

Years later, I still treasure this little manger scene. It’s really something, to look at an object and still see it exactly as you did decades before. Joseph still has his slightly rosy cheeks and his neatly coiffed 70s hairdo. Those sheep still sit there in front of the manger, each with one nimble leg stretched out in perfect symmetry to each other. Mary still kneels there, dressed impeccably in blue (after a night of labor?!). It’s hard to just look at it in passing… I generally find myself picking it up and staring at it for lengthy periods when it is out. As if the figures are finally going to move or speak. Or perhaps I might notice some new detail that I’ve overlooked in the past 30 or so years.

Out of the hours I spent in fascination over this little creche came the love I have today for all nativities. It is difficult for me to walk past a display of them in a store; I have to look them all over and decide whether I can add any to my growing collection. I currently have about 30 different sets in all shapes and sizes — each one special for its own reasons.

But it just isn’t Christmas until this one is brought out and set in a place of prominence in our house.

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A few of my favorite things.

March 6, 2008

glenwood-model.jpg

This is where I lived from 1971 until June of 1979. Well… ok… I didn’t live exactly in this house. This is a model that my Dad constructed a long time ago (really not sure when). He built it out of cardstock and contruction paper. There is tissue paper in the windows and there are teeny tiny pieces of tin foil cut out and glued onto the door to represent the metal mail slot and the door handle. The shutters and the roof have all faded significantly… the roof would have been black and the shutters and door were green. But it really does look like 5706 Glenwood Road! Just to prove it, here is a photograph of the front of that house (in winter 1976):

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At one point, I think Dad used to set the little model up at Christmas time. There is a hole in the back of it to allow room to put some lights inside so that they would glow through the tissue windows.

When my parents moved from Bethesda back in 2002, I came back home one weekend and helped sort through boxes and boxes of old stuff, grabbing up any mementos that had some sentimental value for me. (Among the things I took home with me were my Fisher-Price toys… read about the dollhouse here.) When I came across the little house, I had to have it. It’s been almost 30 years since we left that place, but seeing the model on a shelf in my room brings back nice memories.

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Here is another odd item that I cherish:

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This little box used to reside at my Grandma Hein’s house in South Euclid, Ohio. The lid to the box says “Bond Street” and I’m not sure what the box was originally for… probably some item of jewelry? But I always knew that this was where Grandma kept a deck of cards along with some dice and a handful of pennies. Doesn’t seem like much, but it really reminds me of her.

Grandma and her sister Sophie used to play a lot of different games of cards. Mostly they played all different kinds of solitaire. At least that is how I recall it. Some of the games involved dice, and some might have involved playing for pennies (gambling! MY GRANDMA WAS A GAMBLER?!?) I used to love sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table, watching and learning how to play many different games. And sometimes I just liked to open the box and feel the pennies. Oh come on, you know what I mean. When there is a big pile of something – coins, gravel, sand, marbles – you know it’s hard to resist just picking it up and letting whatever it is run through your fingers! Sometimes I would stack the pennies, or count them over and over. Sort them by date. Look for wheat pennies.

Grandma had several different decks of playing cards. I always liked hers, she seemed to have ones with very interesting artwork on them (not just the standard Bicycle art we all have seen). And they were worn and soft on the edges from lots of use. This particular deck, the one that eventually got handed down to me with the box, was one of my favorites. I like the fruit pictures and the color scheme.

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Sometimes I look at the model that Dad built, and I look at the little window that represented my room, and I just think about the great years we spent in that house. And every now and then I pull the little box of pennies off my shelf and open it up and just run my fingers through the coins. I pick up the cards and let them slide around in my hands a bit, and I remember Grandma sitting at the table in her warm kitchen, playing solitaire.

Years from now when I am gone, there will be a box somewhere filled with odd items like the Bond Street box and the model of the Glenwood Road house. And someone will look in the box and see these odd things, and pronounce them to be “junk.” And I suppose they will be junk at that point… but to me, right now, they are treasures.