Friday, December 31, 2010


Tonight we turn the calendar to a new year, venturing more fully into a new decade.  What amazing changes 10 years can bring...
During this past decade, we buried both my mother and my father...saw the Twin Towers crumble and our country engage in wars on two fronts (our men and women in uniform still remain in both Afghanistan and Iraq).  Our family celebrated two weddings and a birth,  joyfully welcoming Chris, Alexis, and little Alexander to Clan Campbell.  Jim endured heart surgery, and I battled breast cancer.  Matthew sustained his ongoing productive life in the community, Barbara left Pennsylvania and settled in North Carolina, initially a city dweller who now enjoys the country life with her family.  Robert fulfilled his dream of being a full time actor, later changing careers to assume a different stage and role, that of classroom and teacher.  We bought bikes, and discovered trails, plumbing the beauty of Central Pennsylvania.  We reunioned and reunited with friends and family.  We added on to our home, twice expanding and redoing to make Woodland Drive a welcoming place for family and retirement.  We traveled to Sunset Beach, Moorestown, and Pittsburgh, seeking pleasure and seeing family.  Our niece gave birth to a beauty named Lydia, after my mother and her great-grandmother. Jim retired while I continue to teach, my school life changing dramatically as a result of the digital age.  We email, iChat, iPhoto, Facebook, Flip Video, TiVo, and blog.  We recycle, reuse, and "repurpose." We buy and "eat locally."  I can, jam, and fill our freezer, even this year with a hog purchased from the farm of one of my students. I rediscovered sewing and continued to knit my way through the seasons, marking birthdays with socks, Christmas with woolens for heads and hands, and the birth of babies with blankets and sweaters.  Prayer shawls and the sacred space they create enchanted me.  We added rescued cats to our empty-nest family--Katie and Max.  And now Max, Gracie, and Lily who add immeasurable spark, warmth, companionship and joy to our days.  We walk to ameliorate hunger and end cancer.  We seek justice for the homeless, the hungry, the disenfranchised, and the disabled.  We worship, we pray, we petition, and we give thanks for all the good gifts of our lives....

Happy New Year...may 2011 bring more gifts untold...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night

Sleep in heavenly peace.... Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


"The measure of a society is found in the way that it cares 
for its weakest members." - Mahatma Ghandi

'Tis the season to celebrate our appreciation and love for those who surround us.  A group of people who mean so much to our family is the Strawberry Fields staff who make it possible for our son Matthew to live and work in his community.  It is their good work, their ongoing patience, care, and dedication, that enables him to continue to grow and develop in oh so many ways.  Through the years he has lived in his group home, he has gained confidence and independence.  And for all of this, we are most grateful.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Still having fun

...making these bedtime bags à la Amanda Soule's first book, The Creative Family.  This morning at church, I have simultaneous commitments--a baby shower and the Christmas program rehearsal; it will be more rehearsal and less shower. But my baby shower gift is this bag, labeled with Simon (the-baby-on-the-way's name!) and filled with Pete the Cat and the book of the same name.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I remember one Christmas during those early-married, lean years when I made every single one of our gifts.  If memory is correct, we were living in an apartment in East York, Matthew was about two, and Barbara was on the way.  When Jim landed his first job with Penn State as Area Representative for Continuing Education, his salary was $9,504.  After living on part time wages of college students, we were convinced we were rich.  But our apartment there was more expensive that the $85 we paid to live on the second floor of an old home on West Nittany Avenue, and we soon found out that it isn't cheap to raise a family.  A young stay-at-home mom, I intended to do my part in making our paycheck stretch, and making our Christmas gifts was one way to give more for less.  If I remember correctly, that was the Christmas of cross stitch, decoupage, and macrame'.

Our salaries have risen since those days in the early 1970's, and since then I have learned to make lots of different things which are a whole lot more practical  (and desirable) than a hanging planter or decorated recipe box (although I am now using one given to my mother!).

For a teacher, the last several weeks before Christmas are hard days to drive off to school.  My heart desires keenly to be home, putting up the tree, decorating the house, baking, wrapping, and finishing up the last of my handmade gifts.  Due to a bum back, I have been home the past two days (bad news/good news), and today, I pulled together my knitted gifts for family, along with some assorted gifts for our neighbors, for my school friends, and for our church friends.

Summer jam paired with  Zimmerman's Peanut Butter (a family and friend favorite!)

...bagged and tagged

...and this Caramel Corn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Home Improvement

For the past six weeks, our house has been under improvement, construction, and renovation...wonderful to imagine but taxing to live through. 

We began by completely redoing our powder room, which I am embarrassed to admit, has remained the same for the entire 17 years we have lived in this house.  My inspiration was a mirror that has been in my family (for a very long time) and in my house (since I have been married), basically forever, it seems.  We added a tiled floor, fabulous wallpaper, matching sink and commode, in addition to, a nifty (handmade) cupboard door.  Then we spruced up our kitchen with new paint, new jewelry (knobs) for the cabinets, and a flashy new rug. My inspiration?  My daughter's artwork.

After that, the real fun began. We are adding a room to our lowest level.  We are making a television room (I know my children who grew up without cable or much television in their young lives can't quite believe this) to accommodate our family, so that our children and grandchildren don't need to sit on the floor to watch a film together.  Our bottom floor has been ripped up, nothing is in its place, there is dust all over, and Jim and I are rather sick of living in disorder.  But...oh the promise of what will be.

Everyone is coming home for Christmas...the actual impetus for this project.  And I am convinced it will be ready; our contractor told us so.  But until then, we run the vacuum and live among tarps.  Jim and I keep saying, "It will be will be will be magical.... it will be OVER...someday, soon!"

I made new dishcloths to match my new kitchen, following a very old, very traditional pattern--the ballband pattern made from classic, dishcloth yarn, the pattern printed on the paper band that circumnavigated the yarn--hence the term, "ballband" for those who care to understand (I was curious about that when I happened upon the pattern). Old and new together.  Perfect.