A long time ago, AdventureMan was talking with my father, and my father told him that they were no longer in the acquisition stage of their marriage, that he and my mother really had everything they needed and didn’t buy much, other than food and replacing something when it needed replacing like a car. Since we were deeply into our acquisition phase, this was a stunning revelation to us.
We totally understand now what he was getting at. When you are young, and setting up a household, and when children come along, it’s like you are always needing something . . . it can be as basic as pots and pans or as specialized as a car seat. It’s all about trying to set priorities, with great needs, a whole list of wants, and a need to set priorities because resources are limited.
And it is one of life’s ironies, it seems to me, that when you begin to have the money to buy what you need, you need so much less, LOL. We learned a lot living in the Middle East, and from our Mormon friends, and from families we got to know – we learned the joy of giving to your children while they need it and can enjoy it.
Meanwhile, Christmas has been perplexing. Neither of us really needs anything. When we need – or want – something, we tend to pick it out and get it, so there is no great need at Christmas for big gifts. We have a lot of fun with stocking stuffers, but we’ve learned to tell each other very exactly what we like, so we get what we like.
AdventureMan asked what I might like for Christmas, and I told him my beautiful pots and pans from Damascus have lost their tinning, and I can’t use them until we have them re-tinned, and I can’t find anyplace to have them retinned. “Leave it to me!” he pronounced! I will find how we can get this done.
He found some places in Colorado, in Pittsburgh, other places, and I said “isn’t there anyplace nearer? What about New Orleans?” so he checked New Orleans, and sure enough, there is a wonderful metal finishing shop. He talked to the owner and made a date we could bring in our pots. Meanwhile, I visited the website and discovered they could also fix broken metal things. I have another beautiful pot that the handle had broken off in the last move, so I asked if that could also be included in our Christmas present to ourselves 🙂
Early in the morning, shortly after Christmas, we loaded up the car for the drive to New Orleans, arriving at Zito’s exactly at ten.
Zito’s is in Mid-Town, a part of New Orleans we have never explored. It isn’t hard, it was just out of our comfort zone. Inside Zito’s is a big friendly rescue dog and some fine craftsmen metal workers. We know our pots are in good hands. I loved the way he handled the pots, and we loved looking at some of his recent repairs and polishings. You can see some of the work they have done, including for church vessels, by clicking here:
4421 Banks Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
MONDAY – THURSDAY:
6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
6:00 AM – NOON
Across the street is the Wakin’ Bakin’ Cafe, and down the street is one of New Orleans cemeteries with little houses above ground, above the water level:
We are in luck. I don’t know if you’ve been following the weather down here, but we are as rainy as the Pacific Northwest. We normally have winter; Christmas was 79 degrees. Today is cool, and while the skies are not cloudless, the sun is breaking through, and even better, no rain. We are having a wonderful day.
It’s been a great day.
Like every great day, there have been a glitch or two.
I did something very funny, I gave AdventureMan a FitBit for Christmas. He is setting it up now. He loves medals and badges, and I know he will love looking at what the FitBit tells him about how many steps he is taking and how he is sleeping at night. I know he is going to have fun with this, and it makes me smile. Oddly, the FitBit site was down most of the day for scheduled maintenance. Wouldn’t you think that a lot of people would be getting FitBits for Christmas and would want to get started? They are back up now, though.
One of the glitches for me today was that I was scrambling a little this morning to get Christmas dinner prepared in advance so I could just have it all in the oven ready for when we were going to eat. I had five minutes while the dinner rolls cooked, so I ran upstairs to dress and comb my hair, ran down the stairs again and only hours later – like five hours – discovered I had forgotten to move the FitBit so I DIDN’T GET CREDIT FOR ALL THOSE STEPS! Oh aaarrgh.
Small potatoes in the larger scheme of things.
We had a wonderful day, all in all, a day of peace and joy and delight in family. All our years of living overseas have made us grateful for the comfort of time spent together.
I see on WeatherUnderground that Kuwait and Qatar are having wonderful weather; I always loved the winters there:
Tomorrow I have a job, a painting job, painting my adorable little granddaughters bedroom a color called Bubble. Just the thought makes me smile.
Great-Grandmother sent this lamb. As soon as she walked in, Baby N went straight for it, calling “Baaaaaaaa!” She hugged the lamb, climbed on and gave the lamb hugs throughout the morning. Great gift, Great Grandmother GiGi!
Weather Underground is one of my daily stops; as I check today’s weather, I can, at a glance, see what the weather is doing in Kuwait, in Qatar, in Damascus, in Juneau, Alaska, in Seattle, in Denver – at a glance!
Last night we had a huge booming storm, all night. This morning, I clicked on the Weather Underground map with radar; you can see it at the local level, the regional level and the continental level. I wanted to see how much more booming we can expect before the clearing. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool – and sunny.
What a relief! The worst has passed, and there is nothing more headed our way! Clear as a bell!
The Lectionary reading in the Old Testament today is from Isaiah, one of my favorite books in the bible, and when I read it, I think of all my time in the Arabian peninsula, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. I think of this land, on the route from the rift valley in Kenya where man is supposed to have originated, how earliest humans would have crossed through these countries as they moved slowly away from their origins.
My Qatari and Kuwaiti friends tell me that legends say that these countries were once lush, green and beautiful. They are still beautiful, but the lushness and the greeness is only in small pockets when and where the arid land has water. I think nothing is impossible for God, and how wonderful it would be to see these countries lush and green and fertile once more.
The King is coming, coming as a tiny baby in human form to live with us and turn us away from our wickedness. He sees things differently. He tells us to love one another, to love our enemies, to take care of one another. He makes the blind to see, the lame to leap, and the deaf to hear. Come! Come, Emanuel!
35 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,*
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,*
but it shall be for God’s people;*
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
There is nothing on earth as heart warming as three and four year olds at the Episcopal Day School doing a Christmas pageant. The teachers and aides are truly heroes, teaching Christmas Carols and a script to children so young. Getting the children in, getting them in their places, keeping them on track – it was adorable, heart warming – and totally hilarious. The songs were so sweet, the kids so delighted to see their loved ones in the audience (“Hey, Dad! Dad! DAD!”) and their joy in being a part of it so palpable. The little Star of the East who missed her cue and followed the Wise Men, the little girl belting out the Christmas songs, the adorable sheep – I grin just thinking about it.
The manger, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, all the barnyard animals, and the Star of the East:
It didn’t last thirty minutes. It is a highlight of our Christmas season 🙂
Why do they groan? Why do they grumble and look annoyed when I say it’s time for the Christmas Parade?
Once they get there, they have the best time! Who wouldn’t? It’s all noise and flash, great floats and loud bands, dancing in the street, dancing on the sidewalk, seeing all our friends from church and school and waving to friends on the floats – throwing BEADS!
Even 1 year old baby N totally gets into the beads! “Beads! Beads!” she shouts and holds out her hands. She marvels at their sparkle as they hang around her neck.
Here is what I love about Pensacola. It’s been a bad month, with Ferguson, with New York, and in Pensacola 50,000 people gather peacefully and party on the streets. It’s New Orleans with our clothes on, it’s Christmas/Mardi Gras Family Style. We dance, we party, we jump for those beads – and then we pass them along to the children. It’s a long, happy parade, with every school marching band and Mardi Gras group, a local radio station or two, the homeless, the counter culture, drinks in open containers, church groups, neighborhood meet-ups, Jesus is there, with Mary and Joseph – it’s all cool.
When the parade ends, we all go home. Peacefully.
Some may grumble, but for me, they show up, every year, and we celebrate a family tradition, the Pensacola Christmas Parade.
AdventureMan and his helper went down early Sunday morning and pulled a great Bead harvest out of the trees. Little grandson Q carefully sorted them into piles for his friend Chris, his mama and daddy, his two other sets of grandparents and for his room upstairs in our house.
We stopped by Sonny’s BBQ today to order a smoked turkey for Christmas, and who should be there ordering his own turkey but Pensacola Santa and his Missus, in his red convertible. Good thing it stopped raining, Santa! See you next week 🙂
It’s getting close to Christmas, and AdventureMan had asked that I take a ride with him to check out Earth Products, and then have lunch with him at Brother’s BBQ. Between you and me, AdventureMan is purely a sucker for BBQ, but he took me to Tudo’s for lunch yesterday, my Pensacola comfort food, and it isn’t a struggle for me to enjoy a good BBQ, so I was happy to make him happy today. 🙂
It’s what I love about AdventureMan. He totally gets me. He grumbles now and then about how hard I am to buy for. He tells our friends “she doesn’t want diamonds, just picks out a house now and then.”
But today’s trips to Earth Products was totally worth it. Earth Products has all kinds of landscaping supplies, including glorious pots! Not the pots you find in the big box stores, but pots that remind me of the Middle East. Great big pots. Urns. Pots that might have stored olive oil in another life, or hidden Ali Baba’s thieves. Pots with elephants on them. Wonderful pots, just exactly the pots for my front porch and the rosemary bushes I want. I almost danced with glee at the number of wonderful pots.
It is a wonderful day, not too hot, not too cold and when we get to Brother’s BBQ, we decide to sit outside.
Sitting outside has an additional benefit – they are in the process of preparing the chicken and the brisket. They are smoking it right now. The aromas are heavenly.
The porch is a very friendly place to sit, we discover. It’s amazing how many people have discovered Brothers BBQ. They are close to the Navy Base, and have a lot of loyal military customers, but they also have a lot of local and corporate customers, and retired folk popping by. They have dining in, they have carry-out, and they also cater. There is a large area for eating outside, as well as on the porch.
You can see what they offer on your placemat:
AdventureMan ordered his usual – BBQ Pulled Pork, with beans and coleslaw:
I ordered my usual, a dark quarter BBQ chicken, with beans and slaw:
It was excellent. Give it a try when you are on the west side of town. You can’t miss them, they are where you find the huge column of mouth-watering smoke just off Gulf Beach Highway:
3309 Gulf Beach Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32507
I’m not a person who likes to be rushed, and I am a person who front-loads, who gets things done early, so as not to have to make decisions or preparations in a rush. If I can plan, and execute early, it all falls into place.
So when we had another early cold spell this week, our second ‘unseasonal’ cold spell, so cold we had to cover our more sensitive plants and bring others into protected areas, and with Thanksgiving coming so late this year, I decided I could let myself do a little early Christmas prep.
No, no tree, not yet, and no lights outside. Time enough for all that, just a little sparkle to get us started. As much as I love real greenery, real garlands, the temperatures here are too high for it it stay green longer than a week, so I use the artificial kind. You’d think the benefit would be no dropping needles, but this stuff also drops ‘needles’, and we laugh at where we find them hiding in August.
We bought our crêche many years ago in Germany, and it has gone with us everywhere we lived. It has lost a lot of its Germanic moss through the years, but I wouldn’t dream of replacing it:
The normal crêche occupants through the years have been supplemented by extra sheep and camels, and actually, by French santons, extra wise men, an angel ornament . . . hmmm, maybe it’s getting a little kitchy, but we wouldn’t sacrifice a single thing. One of our Saudi friends contributed a line of camels 🙂
In France and in Germany, crafters make the cutest sheep, and we found ourselves buying them at Christmas or crafts markets.
And, from Doha, The Church of the Epiphany, our “Aboona” or Our Father, the Lords Prayer written in Arabic calligraphy, one of our treasures.
Last, but not least, time to change the hallway quilt, and The 12 Days of Christmas will reign for more like 40 days 🙂