Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas beauty of the day.

My precious FamilySearch ornament.

I bought this one year when it wasn't even Christmastime. I happened to be meandering in the gift shop at the Church History Museum next door to the Family History Library when this flew into my hand!

I have a tree I keep up all year long with some of my most favored ornaments. This is one of those that is out where I can see it daily, and be grateful for all that I have gleaned from its records.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas beauties of the day - Russian Nesting Dolls

Christmas beauties of the day.

Russian nesting dolls.

I can't remember how or why my collection began and continues to grow. The biggest set I have nests five figures, but believe it or not, I have seen them nested up to nine.

When we toured Russian after Erik Lauritzen's mission, we were told the proper custom was to bring gifts. We asked what types of things Russians are fond of, and we were told they love Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Koolaid. So, went to Big Lots and filled half a suitcase.

Their gifts to us? Russian nesting dolls, lace tablecloths, handmade wooden boxes that pull apart, crystal, crocheted items, painted eggs, and aprons.

And, here I am with my Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Koolaid.
They would open up the salt and practically swoon from the smell. And, the Koolaid? They mixed it up and drank it with no sugar! It was different from the way they made a fruit drink -- the remains of a jar of jelly mixed with water.

My collection

My fingers are added for comparison to this five stack.

My finger added for compatison

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas beauty of the day - A Wee Baby Jesus

Christmas beauty of the day.
Kerry's mom visited close to Christmas one year, and brought the supplies to make these wee ornaments with our kids.
Yes, it's half of a walnut shell, a tiny bit of flannel, and a tiny baby doll.

Christmas beauty of the day - Children's ornaments

Christmas beauty of the day.

When all four of my children were in Primary (ages 3-11), their photos were taken, and they were glued to a star for an ornament on the church tree. They were given the stars to bring home just before Christmas.

I was surprised to see that Erik still has his, and cherishes it. He is one that hangs on to pieces of his childhood that were special.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas beauties of the day - The Magi

Christmas beauty of the day.

The Magi.

Kerry's sister Gay was a phenomenal artist and sculptor. Her talents as a set director were recognized from the video recording studios of the LDS Church to Hollywood.

One year at Christmas, a box arrived from her that contained these figures representing the wise men. They are among our treasured items, particularly so since her death 17 years ago from ALS.

We don't really know how many wise men brought gifts to the young child.

But, when I pass by the sculptures each Christmas, it reminds me to think of what I can offer him.

I hope kindness will be attached to my name.
Christmas beauties of the day.

Painted eggs from Russia.

The first two photos are a front and back of the same egg. When Erik Lauritzen served his LDS mission there, a woman he met was very proficient at painting them. He asked her to do one to commemorate our December anniversary. The first view she painted from photos he had of us. The second is the Washington Temple, where we met and married.

When we were able to meet her and have dinner with her and her family, she presented me with another one that she had just finished a few days earlier -- the Nativity.

Remarkable detail!

The images above were taken from a photo Erik had of us, and the temple was one she had seen a photo of that belonged to someone else.

She had just finished this, and presented it to me.

Christmas beauty of the day - handmade nativity

Christmas beauty of the day...
While on his LDS mission to Samara, Russian, Erik Lauritzen sent us a beautiful hand-carved, hand-painted nativity.
I collect nativities from all over the world, and he knew I would love this one. As a matter of fact, it's my very favorite one.
I keep it out all year long so that I pass by it often. It's a reminder to me to never forget the greatest gift of all.

I had the most wonderful experience at Walmart yesterday.

I was looking for breadcrumbs, and must have been having one of my "duh" moments. An employee was in the baking aisle, and I asked him if he knew where they were.

He didn't answer. Rude.

I asked again, and still no answer.

I finally tapped him on the shoulder, because I really needed those stupid breadcrumbs, and he immediately began waving his hands as if asking me to stop.

He then pointed to his badge, and underneath his name was the word "Deaf".

He looked for a piece of cardboard and his Sharpie, and I tapped him and signed the word, "No."

I then asked him in sign language, and...they were right behind me.

I talked with him a bit more, thanked him, and told him to have a good evening.

Now, why am I bringing this up? Because about 30 years ago a family moved into our ward that had a handicapped deaf young man who was in his early 20's. His skills were such that he was in Primary (3-11 year olds) for much of the time the family lived here.

He was assigned a teacher, and there were many of us who decided to learn sign language to help him feel included and welcome. I remember the first time some of us felt proficient enough to talk simply with him, he had a grin that spanned his whole face. His world was silent no more. He had people to communicate with him besides his own family.

They moved away after several years, and I haven't done much signing since.

But, when I needed to use the skill, it came back to me in a flash.

God bless the Walmart worker, who had the same look of both surprise and gratitude on his face when I "talked" with him.

Dead as a Doornail

Sometime we use really strange idioms in our speech.

"Raining cats and dogs"

"At the drop of a hat"

"Barking up the wrong tree"

"Elvis has left the building"

Some of these make me smile.  
I've heard about the cats and dogs all of my life,
not realizing it had some meaning to those
who had thatched roofs.

Animals grazed on the roof,
and when it became wet from a heavy rain, 
guess what fell through the roof...

So, let me bring this to the present
in the life of a genealogist.

I absolutely love barns.
This is a cantilever barn located in Cades Cove, Sevier, Tennessee.
You can see that the upper portion is larger than its base.
Livestock would be kept below, and hay would be stored above.
Animals and farm implements could be kept dry under the eaves.

Another cantilever barn at the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, TN.

Many of us may remember the Mail Pouch Tobacco sign on the sides of old barns.  There is one located not far from me.

I particularly remember the many tobacco barns in Kentucky.
My kinfolk there were tobacco farmers.
It was hard work setting out the tender plants each spring, thinning them, stripping them, then hanging them out to try before being taken to the tobacco warehouse for purchase.

But, there has always been one barn that was my favorite.
It belonged to my sister Jean, and her husband Earl.
And, I can't find a single one of the photos I ever took of it.
They'll show up.

Their barn was built in 1846.
It withstood windstorms, tornadoes, lightning strikes, 
and just about everything else you could think of.
I used to play in the hayloft when I was a young girl.
I milked a cow that switched her tail into my hair.
I saw many puppies born.

I have good memories of that barn.

Just last year, they decided to tear it down,
and sell the wood.
And, a part of me grieved.

But, I did ask Earl if he would gather me up some of the nails.
I have nails from 1846!

I was touching wood and nails that someone else touched
in 1846!

Some of those nails came out really good and straight.
And, some came out rather bent and useless.
Hence, they were dead as a doornail.

That is not a new phrase at all.
It was used as far back as 1350.

"This is old - at least 14th century. There's a reference to it in print in 1350, a translation by William Langland of the French poem Guillaume de Palerne:
"For but ich haue bote of mi bale I am ded as dorenayl."

William Shakespeare gave the line to Jack Cade in 
 King Henry VI, Part 2, 1592.

"Look on me well: I have eat no meat these five days; yet, come thou and thy five men, and if I do not leave you all as dead as a doornail, I pray God I may never eat grass more."

And, sure enough, 
Charles Dickens use the phrase in A Christmas Carol:

"Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

In times' past, the phrase was in use when building large doors, like the ones found in castles and manors.
The nail would be pounded in,
then the head would be hit rather askew
to hold it in tighter.
If the nail were ever pulled out to be used somewhere else,
it would useless.
For, it wasn't straight.

In the times of our ancestors,
all materials were important in building a cabin or a barn.

And, sometimes before moving on,
they would actually burn their homestead down
to retrieve the nails.

Nails were expensive,
and if you were moving to the frontier,
there may not be any place to purchase more.
So, they used the old ones...if they were still straight.

However, if they were bent and possibly 
couldn't be pounded out straight
like some of those above,
they were likely not useful at all.

Hence, they were "dead as a doornail."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Night in Bethlehem

                                                                        I am LDS.

And, contrary to what many people are taught and believe,
we are Christians who follow the teachings of Christ.

And, we celebrate Christmas.

Several of our wards and branches across the world often celebrate what is called
"A Night in Bethlehem."
We have done it in our own ward.
Our church buildings are literally turned into a replica of 
what it may have been like 
when baby Jesus came into the world.

So, when friends of ours invited us to come to theirs,
we went.
And, it was the best I have ever seen.

Let me show you some of the photos I took.
After walking up the sidewalk that was lighted with luminaries, we were greeted by a tax collector, who had us sign our name onto the "census".  When Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, they went to their ancestral homeland to pay their taxes.

Their entire cultural hall was set up with different booths to visit.  Here, we find cups containing grapes and an orange slice.

A woman served cold ice water from a "well" in the middle of the room.

A bakery served up delicious honey cake.

Patterns were provided.

The finished product!
The blacksmith shop was a real favorite with the children.

Mmmm....the bread shop.

It smelled good just standing there.

Typical fare in the Middle East -- pita with hummus

I had never had fig jelly before.  It was delicious!  Especially on homemade bread.

The cheese shop was one of my favorites, for I have had cheese from this couple's farm before.  The metal thing with a wooden block on it is a cheese press.

I was particularly touched by the Carpenter's Shop.  Joseph had been a carpenter, and likely taught Jesus the trade, too.  How else would he have known what a mote and a beam was?  I can just imagine the tenderness Joseph must have used in teaching the Son of God, who would someday teach him.

BTW, this man is Brother Stirling, who is the uncle of Lindsey Stirling, the dancing violinist.
Everyone was given a toy Dreidel.

One of the busiest places was the lamp shop.
The man who worked this booth buys gourds from the local Amish, and has brought back beads from southwest Turkey.
His shop was phenomenal!

Some of the gourd lamps.

Look at those beautiful rugs!  It was so colorful and inviting.
And, can't you just envision guests lying back on those rugs eating figs and grapes?

More of the gourd lamps.

A gourd before being decorated.

Everyone was given a little lamp to light up at home using olive oil.

The Inn.

Innkeepers insisting there is no room.
A reminder for us all.
I can't imagine being nine months pregnant,
having ridden 90 miles on the back of a donkey,
trying to find a place to stay,
and no one really wants to help.

After stopping at the Inn and being told to move on, it was time to visit the costume shop.
My friends had fun decorating Kerry.

After getting all costumed up, it was time to be led outside to the live nativity.

It was held outside on the front lawn.  All of the animals were in pens, the light was shining, and it was a perfect setting.

Now, why am I sharing this with you?

I am a woman of faith.
And, I always have been.  
You don't always find me mentioning it, 
and you sure don't find me preaching to you...
unless you ask.

And, several of you have.

This was a simple activity made beautiful.
It made me stop and think what it would have been like 
to be in a very busy town
with merchants peddling their wares.

It made me stop and think about the travels
of Joseph and Mary.

It made me think about the people of Bethlehem,
who had no idea the Messiah was about to be born that night.
Not one who save them from political oppression,
but who would save their from their own sins.

I thought about all of those things on our drive home
through the countryside of Ohio.

It's a tender time of year for me,
and this made me yearn even more for 
the peace that He gives.