Saturday, December 31, 2011


2011 concludes tonight and with it another year of life and the living of it, not only for us here in this quiet corner but for the larger collective humanity across the globe.

This year, we cheered and watched in respectful fascination the revolutionary zeal of the Arab Spring as it spread across the Middle East. This revolution of change, ushered in by the people who longed lived with dictators and despotism gave rise to the Occupy movement here in our own country, with the 99 percent calling attention to a dramatic inequality of distribution of wealth. 

We also watched aghast and aggrieved by the images of Japan, rocked and swept away by the force of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.  We lost the visionary Steve Jobs and the notorious Osama Bin Laden.  We ended a decade of war in Iraq.

Here on this homefront, we rejoiced in a new home for one offspring and a new baby for another.  I marked the end of five years of cancer treatment. We celebrated a career recognizing award for Jim and our 40th wedding anniversary.  In 2011, we also endured tests and trials, both small and large. Jim had shoulder surgery, and I wrestled some bouts with a too zealous heartbeat.  Penn State was shaken to its core by scandal; while truth and justice remain elusive, the loss of innocence for the many who bleed blue and white still feels devastating.

We relished a trip to Hilton Head, Sunset Beach, time spent with family and friends, our evening bike rides, a spotting of a bear, a witnessing of a sunset, and the blessing of times of peaceful meditation and moments of unexpected joy

We welcomed baby James and baby Liam. We said hello to my retirement and goodbye to some dear friends—Eleanor, John, and Ed. 

365 days of living, breathing, watching, praying, and participating in this journey we take by grace, step-by-step and day-by-day.  Now we turn the page to a brand new year…

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Gifts

The house is emptied and just a bit too quiet.  Alex's fold-up bed is bended up and tucked away.  A pile of sheets is in a hamper and a pile of clean towels sits atop the dryer.  The dining room table has shrunk by two leaves and the dishwasher has only run one time today. Sigh.

Last night we were nine around a table; now we are just two.  Big sigh...

We received some wonderful gifts this holiday season, thoughtful presents picked out by those we love to show their love to us.  But the best gift of all is just being together--telling stories, laughing, reading, watching a movie, riding bikes, building, cooking, eating, and sitting around in our pajamas at any and every time of day.  Family.

After months of making things to gift, I can now post a few of them:

A hat and mittens using Paton wool and a Knitting Pure & Simple pattern.

A cowl using Blue Sky Organic Cotton and this pattern

And this quilt.  My second one.

I hope your Christmas was just as warm and just as merry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I just couldn't resist

Just when I decided that I was at the "ready-for-Christmas" finish line, I happened upon this pattern and this lovely hand-dyed yarn.  And there really was one more gift I could use.  So I started knitting last night. I will finish it tonight and then, I am really am ready for Christmas, after I clean the bathrooms, add leaves to the table,  retrieve the high chair and fold away beds from the attic...

 Tomorrow, our family begins to arrive, and Christmas festivities commence.  Peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

One more week

…until Christmas Eve.  And I am getting ready.  I have adored the mantle...

delivered some handmade gifts to friends and neighbors...

wrapped some presents...

made some cookies, fudge, and party mix…

enjoyed good times with friends...

and finally, trimmed our tree this afternoon.

Now, it is time to breathe deeply, sit down, slow down, savor the season, lovingly welcome my family home, and settle my heart and mind on true miracle of  this season—the Incarnation, Word become flesh, a baby born in a stable to save us all…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ruby Anniversary

December 11, 1971: 40 years ago…what did we know, other than we wanted to be together, all the time.  In retrospect, it seemed so foolhardy; in retrospect; it was so wise.

I was 19 (just) and he was 21 (barely).  He was a senior at Penn State and I a sophomore.  We had no money and no jobs, other than part time work.  We had no plans for the future, except to finish school and make the monthly rent of $85 on our second-floor, Nittany Avenue apartment.

Our wedding day was an unusually lovely, balmy December day.  I remember walking into town to buy a black shoulder bag for our honeymoon; Jim washed his ’65 Mustang.

The ceremony was held at the Helen Eakin Eisenhower Chapel on the campus of Penn State at 7:00 in the evening. I carried white roses and holly.  Jim’s grandfather, John Henry Frizzell, chaplain emeritus and founder of the speech department at Penn State, wrote a prayer for us.  A simple reception followed in the Fireside Room at the Nittany Lion Inn.   Tea sandwiches, cake, ice cream, and punch were served, with a piano player providing background music.  

We left that night and drove to Lewistown for a what we thought would be two-day honeymoon/Christmas shopping trip to Harrisburg . The next day we ran into Jim’s brother Rob and our sister-in-law, eating breakfast at Zimmie’s Diner, and they persuaded us to go to the King of Prussia Mall instead.  So we did.

40 years later, I would do it all over again, exactly the same way.  This naïve, young couple added three children—two incredible sons and an amazing daughter.  Later, another good and gentle son-in-law and a beautiful and bright daughter-in-law joined this clan Campbell.  And then came our two adored and beloved grandsons.  Together we built a family, careers, a home…a life.

Our life together hasn’t been perfect but it has been good and it has been blessed. Experiencing our share of sorrows and disappointment, we too have been showered with uncanny amounts of joy and wonder.  Together with our devoted family and our cherished friends we have built a rich history of faith and love.  Tomorrow, we celebrate it all, with joyful and grateful hearts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Sweet Little Hat

After my mother died, my father arrived on my doorstep one day with her knitting bag in tow.  "I thought you might want this," he said.  I did.  It is really wonderful to have her knitting and sewing "tools," and I use them often and with great pleasure.  One of the things I found in that bag was a little, now vintage, knitting book of "quick things to make."  It cost all of 35¢ to buy.  Gosh, what does 35¢ buy you now?

I really began knitting agin in earnest when Barbara was pregnant with Alexander, and one of things I made him was a little yellow simple seed stitch hat from this book. I just made one for his brother in red. It is such a quick easy and darling patter that I thought I would it share it with the modifications I made:

Simple Seed Stitch Baby Hat

Size:  6 months to 1 year
Yarn: 1 skein DK weight yarn
Needle size:  No. 4 double points
Gauge: 7 stitches.= 1 inch

Cast on 85 stitches and arrange on 4 double point needles.  Join, being careful not to twist.  Work in K1, P1 ribbing for 1 1/2 inches.  *Work 8 rows stockinette.  Work 8 rows seed stitch.  Repeat from *twice, cut yarn leaving about a 10 inch length.  Thread into needle and draw yarn through all stitches.  Fasten and weave in end. You may, if you wish, turn ribbing to the inside of hat and sew it into position.  Or, you may, as I do, simply turn it up, allowing for a longer hat. Trim top of hat as desired (pom pom or tassel).  

These really are so sweet, especially adorning such a sweet little head!

Friday, December 2, 2011


"The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; 
make level in the desert a highway for our God."
Isaiah 40:3

It is the season of Advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation….

Our contemporary culture is not a patient one.  We operate quickly and instantly in our digital world, expecting immediate answers and rapid results.  But often, things simply require time, and then we must wait and listen and watch for a revealing.

Sunday marked the first Sunday in Advent.  Monday, I cleared away the reminders of Thanksgiving, putting away the autumnal tones painting our home and beginning anew this season of waiting.

Part of the preparation for us 21st century pilgrims is the “getting ready for Christmas.”  I am not a Black Friday shopper and didn't partake of Cyber Monday, but I did make a trip to JoAnn Fabrics on Wednesday to buy some fabric, and there I happened upon four aisles of Christmas trappings marked 50% off.  Advent has just begun and already there are Christmas sales!  We really can’t wait well, can we?

I have been slowly making some gifts for the many people we care about.  My latest projects are quilted potholders based on this pattern.  It has been fun, gathering scraps of fabric, piecing them together and stitching them up.

My sincere hope is that I might walk carefully and mindfully through this bustling season, quietly coming to a more intimate understanding of the incarnation, this word become flesh, this birth of a baby in a manager so long ago. And may it be so for us all.