Sunday, December 6, 2015

Adventures Preparing for Christmas

Sunday, December 6 2015

It seems I just got comfortable with typing 2015 as the date on most things and we are already in the last month of this year.....which made me realize that I needed to get busy with Christmas preparations!  Some days it is dismal and rainy or breezy and cold, but other days almost 70 degrees and we are still enjoying the beautiful fall foliage.   On Tuesday I had an oncologist appointment over in Norfolk.   When I arrived at noon I could not find a single parking space in a parking lot of about 100 spaces, so as I was driving around trying to find someplace to park, I noticed this area in the back with a beautiful little pond with and beautiful colored leaves.   I finally found a space to park and just had to take a walk to the back of the building and snap a few pictures.  

I love this scene - the small bench beside the water and the reflection of the brilliant colors.

I also really liked this branch of brilliant red leaves :)

And the fountain in the pond surrounded by fall leaves but with more evergreen trees mixed in.

When I arrived back in Portsmouth after the appointment (which was a "thumbs  up" appointment by the way - no signs of cancer) I noticed that the 'duck tree' the watches over one of the main roads now has a red head :)

When I arrived back at the office, I immediately noticed that Sister Slatter and Sister Goldade had been really busy while I was out. With Mission Leadership Conference planned for Wednesday morning, and with parents sending packages for Christmas to their missionaries, boxes and letters were stacked all around the office!

Supplies for the missionaries and Christmas packages from home

More Christmas packages from home

More stacks of mail for missionaries!

Missionary and apartment supplies.

Got most of our Christmas cards in the mail on Wednesday and that felt really good to have that done relatively early in the month.   The office was full of about 35 missionaries once they were dismissed from their meeting at 3:30.  Both the boys and the girls are so polite and stand and wait (mostly patiently) for their turn to speak with Elder Ashton about car issues.   One of the Sister Missionaries found out we are going home the end of April and she is not going home until July.  She said, "No, you can't go home.   Who will help me with my car if Elder Ashton is not here?"  We assured her that Salt Lake would send a good replacement that she could rely on.

On Thursday, when things were a bit more quiet in the office, I noticed more of nature's beauty as we arrived at the office in the morning.

In the early summer, this tree outside the main door of the church was covered with green leaves and lots of white look at the beautiful multiple colors of leaves and the pods left over from the blossoms.  I think we will be back in Arizona before this crepe myrtle tree blooms again.

I think this is a gardenia - just outside the main door of the church.

I noted that the holly trees in the parking lot at the small mall near our apartment are starting to show their red berries ..... just in time for Christmas!

I'm not sure if my eyes are more observant since we came back here or if I am seeing things that don't occur in Arizona.   Once or twice a week I notice a bubbly or polka dot sky and Friday at lunchtime was another of those times.   But by the time we parked at the office, some clouds were starting to darken and I caught this picture.....didn't realize how much I really liked the scene in the sky until I looked at it later!

I love the bright light coming through the bubbly clouds with the stark tree branches against that background.  Who could really believe all these things are just coincidental and not created by a loving God.

Across the street to the east the sky was still blue and the clouds looked different but still interesting.

Even though we have had a couple of freezing nights, there are still some hardy blooms that I enjoy as we drive along.   I think this might be a different variety of gardenia but not sure.

As we drove by this bush, I was guessing it was a rose bush, but when I stopped to take a picture, it seemed obvious to me that these are peonies......sure brought back a lot of memories of taking buckets of peonies to the cemetery to put on graves of loved ones when I was just a girl.

I loved these branches laden with berries on this bush.....don't know if it is a different variety of holly or if it is pyracantha.   Based on what I see on the internet I'm thinking pyracantha.

Friday night was our ward Christmas party and we had invited our neighbor behind us to go with us.   She thanked us multiple times for inviting her and I think she had a great time!   There was lots of good food and fun with games, songs, Santa, etc.  The Primary kids acted out the nativity and it was really pretty cute.  I took 2 pecan pies and one was left over - YEA- meant I already had dessert ready for today!

 The Primary kids nativity skit

Santa and the Sister Missionaries that serve here in Portsmouth

After starting the laundry and  shopping for groceries on Saturday morning, I was ready for a distraction so we decided to go over to the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk.  By the time we got to Norfolk, we were both ready for some lunch so after we found where the museum was, we did some driving around trying to find a place to get some lunch.   We go a little lost and were unsuccessful in finding a place to eat.   We did find some other interesting things.....

On one of the side streets, we happened to come right up close to the shipyard where these massive ships were being worked on.   In the lower left you can see Elder Ashton walking closer to get a better look.

You can see the main spire(s) of this church from quite a distance.   As we drove up, I thought this view from behind the tree was interesting.

This is a better view of the front of the church.

An additional wing and courtyard of the church.

As I walked back to get back in the truck, I looked down and found this interesting formation of the tree roots (the tree that was obscuring the view of the church across the street).  The root had grown out from the tree and over and around the curb........very interesting.

We decided to go back to the museum and see if we could find something to eat there.   The ladies at the information desk told us there was a demonstration going on in the glass studio across the street and we could just make it if we hurried so we put lunch on hold for a few minutes and hurried over there.

Elder Ashton standing beside the father of the "glass family"

Glass mother and baby

Glass father - showing his heart.

Demonstration inside the studio.   The artist is bending tubes to be filled with neon.  She showed some pictures of things she has created and some of them were very pretty.  The studio had some pretty glass earrings for sale, but I couldn't make myself pay $60 for a pair of earrings.

We made our way back over to the museum and did find a restaurant where we could get some lunch.   It was a nice little place and the turkey sandwich was tasty.   I was taken with the tree that sat out in the back courtyard.

Just look at those beautiful spreading branches!
The young ladies at the information desk suggested that we might want to see the glass display and said that the display is the 3rd largest in the country.  So we took their suggestion and I'm really glad we did.

This beautiful tree made of poinsettia plants was in the lobby of the museum.

Blown glass with gold, platinum, silver and did they make the glass square?

This bowl made of glass threads fused together and shaped while still warm.

Roman glass jugs

I laughed when I walked into this room and saw the display of glass pills......I really don't like taking pills and sometimes feel like I talk almost this many pills every morning:/

Glass inlaid with this instance gold.

I liked these pieces from the Tiffany collection.   This color infused glass skyscape was beautiful.

A rather typical Tiffany lamp.....title Wisteria.  Can you imagine how many hours of work went into this?

Tiffany depiction of the angel appearing to the Shepherds.   Beautiful reminder of the birth of Christ.

Small collection of glass paperweights.

Silvered glass - was supposed to make the glass stronger.   I was drawn to this because I have a vague recollection of some silvered glass Christmas ornaments like the bunches of grapes that were in our house when I was a kid.

This was a really interesting display......a musical instrument where sound is produced by rubbing a moist finger around the rim of the glasses.   It was called a harmonicon.....see description on the placard photo below.

Learned that this instrument's sounds lead to a new word : mesmerize.

Just look at the beautiful glass pulls on this piece of furniture!

I really like the architecture on this building.....I think it is a church but didn't walk across the street to verify that.

Today has been a wonderful day to end this report.   We felt a deep love in our Sacrament meeting and were joined by several individuals who are investigating the church.   The testimonies were especially touching.   We then had a very thought-provoking lesson on preparing ourselves for the day when the Savior will come again where the spirit was also strong.   I had the privilege of holding Jace in Relief Society.  He stole my heart.   He is a 9 month old little African American boy whose mom has been talking a little with the missionaries and came to church today.  He was such a loving little guy.....I even got a kiss on the lips from him and several hugs.   As we sang the closing song and he laid his pudgy little brown hand on my wrinkled white hand, tears sprang to my eyes as I was reminded that Heavenly Father and Jesus love Jace and I just the same.   Hope I get to see him again next Sunday.

Came home from church and ate dinner, then spent some hours wrapping special gifts for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.   The spirit of Christmas is strong in my heart as we continue our time here in Virginia.

Happy December to all of you!

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful post, Carol. I've been nose to the grindstone for the past few weeks and haven't caught up with your posts, but decided that today, on your birthday, I wanted to feel close to my friend, and I'm so glad I took the time. You have really fully integrated into life in Virginia and the memories you are making there will stay with you forever. We certainly miss you here this Christmas, but I love how you are sharing Virginia and your mission experiences with us. The glass exhibit is amazing and that poinsettia tree was just gorgeous! Thanks for taking time to document it all! Love it and love you!