Saturday, December 31, 2011

Back On The Floor Again Is One Year Old

    Happy Birthday Blog! Not only did I meet my goal of writing every day for one month but I carried through all of 2011. My thoughts on that Saturday, January 1, 2011, were this; 

    "This is a new year and some new projects will make this year a little different. Blogging could help to bring together some of my thoughts and desires. My blog title "Back on the Floor Again" comes from several observations in my life. The first being that I often have to rethink my view of life, of people, of myself and what motivates me. Therefore, I feel I am back to the beginning or back to level one. The floor is not such a bad place. It is cooler down there and as we know hot air rises. There is also less chance of falling since you are already grounded. I have been doing Yoga for the last five years. The main reason being that my Music and Movement Classes which I teach require that I get off the floor before the toddlers do. I realized that the floor is a precarious place when your joints are stiff so I started Yoga here on my Island. It has been a blessing and I fully appreciate the floor even more. So, Happy New Year and hopefully I will log in often to give my view from down here."

   Writing this blog has served to connect my thinking to my actions. I have pondered what I am doing and why I am doing it. In my younger years I started countless projects and my energy failed to bring them to fruition. But these false starts had value. I learned what I really loved doing and now I have a greater capacity to finish my projects because I like the process and not just the idea.
   Two beloved people in my life have made the comment that I seem to get so much done and they asked how I have the time to do it all. Since two people have mentioned this I have cause to reflect on the answer. First of all, I must confess, I waste a lot of time. But I know what I love to do and those are the things I commit to do. There are a few "big ideas" that run my life. It is the constant reflection upon these ideas that push my thoughts to action.

1)The Holy Ghost is my teacher in all facets of life

2)Being in the moment helps you see and feel what is really going on

3)There must be review, analyisis, and connection of your actions and responses

4)Writing helps open the door to understanding

5)If there is no joy in the day to day life then time passes unappreciated

   I plan to continue blogging and it matters very little if anyone reads what I write, oops, okay, it matters a little. There are some plans in the works to try new things on the ground level. I am scheduled to go into a studio and record some original children's songs with my teaching partner Kim. I will be meeting a new grand baby soon. That is all I can say for now, but I will be back on the floor again for many days to come.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Puzzeling Christmas

Getting a great gift at Christmas is always fun. I did score some wonderful gifts this season. The Mama Daughter sent an early gift which at first seemed way too hard but ended up being really fun. This was a 1000 piece puzzle of a fantasy German town. Normally, I don't do anything over 500 pieces because it eats up my table space for too long. But thanks to the Knitting Queen I had a puzzle keeper which allowed me to roll it up and put it away.  

    There progress was slow and steady. Each house had windows with people hanging out an so each piece was unique, except for the sky.

The day after Christmas I had just the sky left to do.

Dah Da! What a scene.

    My other children should not be slighted, as they had wonderful gift ideas, as well. How about the Music Man's thoughtful reminder of our favorite app?
   The Knitting Queen indulged my love of light and gifted me this candle holder which throws lovely light on my quiet home.
   There are gifts to anticipate as the Analyst Son gave us an Amazon gift card and the Teacher Son has some personalized coasters coming in the mail. I am satisfied. Oh, one more gift I loved. I gave it to my husband, the Piano Guy, so I could watch it with him.
   Ann Madsen is a role model to me. I love her quiet, thoughtful presentation of her vast scriptural knowledge. She will guide my coming foray into Isaiah with my students.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas In Germany

Christmas in Germany just looks more festive because of the traditions that foster maintaining the heritage of the past. Here are some photos of the Mama Daughter and family exploring the Christmas market in Nuremberg.

Nuremberg has one of the most famous markets. It opens on the first Friday before Advent with the Christmas angel giving her blessing. The stalls are carefully maintained and standards of beauty and tradition are applied for every vendor.

     The old remnants of the past give guests the sense of the historic events which transpired here and changed the common man's future.
    Items that are sold range from traditional Christmas baking to ornaments for the Christmas tree. The lights and reflection of light make these markets warm in a rainy, cold winter.
   My step-grandson was telling me of some of the delicacies he has tried lately. White chocolate dipped Lebkuchen sounded heavenly. And marzipan is sold everywhere, formed into shapes or covered with chocolate. How good could that be?  

         Christmas in Germany is for children. They are invited into a fairyland of fun and frolic. And all children are alike in their open embrace of adventure.
    As the sign says below, on the right, there must be an "Ausgang". A place to exit is an important feature when the wallet is empty, feet are tired, and children are exhausted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day

    When Christmas Day is on a Sunday we have the opportunity to tune our hearts to Jesus Christ in a special way. I like taking the sacrament on the day we celebrate his birth. Elder Rollo's talk was in tune with what I had been reading in the Book of Mormon that morning. Learning to speak the tongue of angels is a gift of the Holy Ghost. Angels speak the words of Christ, they speak about Him, and testify of Him. That is the main reason we read the scriptures every day, to hear his words and the words of others who are under the influence of the Holy Ghost and share the good news. After Elder Rollo, Bro. Edwards spoke the words of Luke 2. He did not read them, he spoke them as an angel would, who was declaring the message of salvation.

     The rest of the day was spent with family. Video chatting around the world is common practice now as our family is spread around the world. The Mama Daughter was just finishing her day in Germany, while the Teacher Son and family video called after dinner. The Analyst Son and his family came to Christmas dinner and participated in the afternoon chatting.

                   Another round of giving opened many new avenues of playing and exploring.

     At the end of the day we traveled over to the Music man's house to visit and get the cousin's together.
The cousin's relationship changes as they get older and find they have things in common with different members of the family. The little girls had some nice interchanges as they shared a pot of tea.

    My Piano Guy asked what was best about this Christmas and I had to say it was watching the children, puzzling with The Knitting Queen, and having long days to relax.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Highlights

Christmas Eve was celebrated at the Music Man's home. Ham, mashed potatoes, green salad, fruit salad, brownies and lemon squares graced the table. The gifts were the highlight, as usual, though we did try to play a Christmas trivia game with my new Eggspert toy

 Estelle and Jasmine joined the party and added to the fun. All the Burgess kids received long johns and the girls matched. I don't really know if the Moonbeam noticed but she was patient as I dressed her.
   The Knitting Queen came with her Knight and she was delighted with her new slippers, which she specifically asked for. I have been known to go astray with instructions and invent my own versions of gift requests, but really I want to please. Really, I do. The Music Man gave me an Angry Bird stuffed toy and pointed out to me that I was playing Angry Birds before it was a mega hit. I have the benefit of talking to teenagers almost every day as they are my Early Morning Guests. They keep me apprised of the most exciting games.
     My husband received a pig stuffed toy so that my Angry Bird has an outlet to vent her outrage at those thieving pigs.

    It is most enjoyable to see my grandchildren open presents and respond with delight, or disappointment, or even confusion. What is this?
My toy for the Moonbeam was a pink tea set which I also sent to Emmaline. They have both found it enchanting as it sings and pours to bubbling tea sounds. I gave all the grands, over three, sticker books with a gizillion stickers. I hope they don't end up on their walls at home. It could be very tempting. The Piano Guy and I went home early enough to get sleep before the Sunday morning events.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Book of Mormon Sunday II 2 Nephi 28-33

        On this day set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am moved by the verses in Luke and Matthew which tell of the angels coming to man to proclaim, comfort, and rejoice at the coming of Jesus. These angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost and even these many long years since I feel their power and my heart lifts for joy at their message.

    2 Nephi 33:1 "And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men."
   According to Nephi, when we receive the Holy Ghost we will speak with the tongue of angels. I speak the tongue of two languages, German and English, and find them eloquent in different situations, but to speak the tongue of the angels takes eloquence to a new level. This language enters the heart and changes it's DNA.
   2 Nephi 32:2 "Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
   I testify that the greatest strengthening power comes through the Holy Ghost. This power tells me that Jesus Christ lives. He was born as each of us. His condescension testifies of his power to love us as we really are. He lived and willingly gave up his mortal life to tear apart the veil which separated us from out Heavenly Father. He magnified the will of our Father and with his stripes we are healed.
  I know that my Redeemer lives, what comfort that sweet sentence gives.
  Here are some sketches I made of this same block of scripture.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Eve Before the Eve Visit

    The Knitting Queen and her Knight were hanging about last night on the eve before "The Eve" and who should come along the driveway outside? He did  not have his pack and his sleigh had four wheels but his jolly "ho, ho" was unmistakable. He wrapped upon the door and stepped in with a flourish.
   "Are your grandchildren still here?", he asked.
    Alas we had taken them across the many waters just hours before. He was visibly disappointed and told us of his many visits to events hither and yon.
   "I'm sorry to have missed them". We were to, as we envisioned our Spider Boy meeting this super hero face to face.

   "But, while I am here, what would you like for Christmas?", he asked the Knitting Queen. She asked for red convertible which, he said, was very impractical around here. He also revealed that the elves had a hard time making those big enough.

All I wished for was many more years in this house we call "home" and good health to the jolly man who owns it.

                                             Merry Christmas to you and to all a good night!!!!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Name Is Marta

 Marta Emma Kaethe Bettermann was born January 27, 1910. This story was written by Marta with commentary by her daughter and compiled for her as a Christmas gift in 1998, four years before she passed away.

   My mother, Marta, is an extraordinary woman. She will soon be in her ninetieth year. When I think of adjectives to describe her life I think of faithful, hopeful, and courageous. In her early years in America she answered the call to record her family history. In her book of remembrance there are pages and pages of pedigree charts and family group sheets. In the back of her book are pages of her personal history, written in english, not her native tongue. As I read through this record I remember how hard she worked at improving her english and I am amazed how well she expresses herself.

   My parents both born in Silesia, moved to Bavaria after their marriage. When I was eight years old my family moved back to Silesia. It was after World War I. I have two sisters and one brother. We all went to school in Rabishau where my father was born. My childhood was a very happy time. We didn't have the luxury we have today and in our vacation time from school we were very busy. We were gathering wild berries, mushrooms, potatoes, grains and wood. After finishing my school, I liked to learn a lot more things a young teenager should know. Sewing was very easy for me to learn, housekeeping and cooking as well. Later I had the opportunity to decorate women's hats and to create lamp shades.

Marta is a wonderful homemaker with tremendous organizational skill and the energy to finsh what she starts. She earned extra money with her professional sewing and I was especially blessed to have had a seamstress who could sew anything and who had a great sense of style. I remember our fall shopping trips to make new clothes for school. We would go to into the fabric stores and pick out patterns and material  and within a few short weeks those clothes would be hanging in my closet.

My mother was a very respectable woman and a good friend who was able to sing and laugh with us. My father taught us to love nature and went with us hiking.
In 1931 we moved to Hirchberg because my father changed his workplace. There I met my future husband. We were two years together before we became married. In this time we enjoyed our life very much.  We went dancing, swimming, skiing, ice skating, bike riding and more. On the 15th of April 1933 we became married in the evangelic church. Two years later I delivered my first son. Five years later, my second and one and a half years later my third son. Both were born during World War II. In this time I was very much alone with my three children because my husband was drafted and later in Russia. There he became wounded and landed in a hospital. His knee was shot and when he got released he came home with a stiff knee and walked with a stick. But there was no more need for him to go back to war. Now I wasn't scared so much any more because we were together again. And for this I was very thankful to my Father in Heaven. I must say I wasn't raised without religion because my mother taught us how to pray and we went to church, too.

Now my husband got an easy job to do in the city department. But the time of suffering just started. At the end of the war when the Russian soldiers came to our land, for us the security was gone. We didn't have any right to live. There was no more food enough so my husband had to go out to the country to find something for food, but he was always in danger. My boys could not go outside anymore. There was no school for my first son. We lived a while like prisoners and when the Russian government send the Polish police to our land nothing became better, because they started to throw out the families out of their homes and put some Poland people in. Fourteen days before all the people of Silesia were driven out we went under hard circumstances on our trip to West Germany.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Piano Guy

    Today is the birthday of my husband, The Piano Guy. He has taken to calling himself that because of his part-time job as piano tuner extraordinaire. Having a birthday so close to Christmas has taken away from celebration fervor but I am so very grateful that he was born.

   We met long ago at Brigham Young University in church. He was tall, quiet, reserved, and very insightful. Our conversations ranged from the spiritual to the ridiculous. We were always talking together, much more than his roommate and I, who I was dating. I valued the talking more than any characteristic he might have had. I was hungry for honest, open communication. My family did not have an abundance of that when I was growing up. We are still talking; granted some conversations are old and we know each other's lines, but the open, honest communication is still there.
   Last week, when he walked into the Sawbones Christmas Party, my heart went pitter-pat. He is the love of my life.

Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.

Louis De Bernieres

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Longest Walk on the Shortest Day

    The weather was so beautiful today so I took a hike with the grandkids to Fisher Pond. I was curious what the trail was like at the 115th Ave entrance. It is a less traveled trail and is very narrow. No stroller access here.There are two wooden bridges, one which looked damaged but both were sturdy enough to ferry us over the ditches. The trail connects to the main Fischer Pond trail right at the entrance on Bank road so this ended up being a long hike, especially for my little toddler, Moonbeam. Winter started today and the forest had many new offerings. We were enchanted with the hanging moss.

                            Lichen jutted out of tree stumps as if to reach across the forest; looking like street lamps.

         Mushrooms popped out of the ground looking bold and sturdy, hiding their very fragile nature. Pine needles across the top made us think of starfish in the sea of the forest.

    I was anxious to see the pond and how it looked three months later. We took pictures in August, when there were flowering bushes and overflowing water plants; in October when those plants were dieing back; and now December when the pond was free of plant life and so open.

                                                            What beauty in every season!
   My little Moonbeam walked all the way in and only on the way back did she begin to go slower and slower until her little arms reached up for assistance.

   As I started back the way we came, Moonbeam perched on my arm, I was thankful to have have Miss Maggie at my side in case my load became too heavy to bear.

                                                         Life is good and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Perfect Christmas

   There is a commercial on television that begins with "If you think that finding the perfect gift for your.....",  and I always interrupt that thought with, "then you are fried, or whatever word fits this preposterous idea. The perfect gift, hah! 

President Dieter Uchtdorf-
  "Sometimes it seems that our efforts to have a perfect Christmas season are like a game of Jenga ... each of those little wooden blocks is a symbol of the perfect Christmas we so desperately want to have. We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be; the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts and the perfect family party. We might even want to re-create some magical moment we remember from Christmases past, and nothing short of perfection will do.

"Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs; the wooden blocks tumble, the drapes catch fire, the turkey burns, the sweater is the wrong size, the toys are missing batteries, the children quarrel, the pressure rises; and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us. As a result, the Christmas season is often a time of stress, anxiety, frustration and perhaps even disappointment."

"When we set aside our expectations of perfection, we will see Christmas in details around us. It is usually something small; we read a verse of scripture, we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time, to its words, or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things we often use to adorn it."

   Christmas is sturdy in my mind when I do not futurize but stay with the grace of the moment. I like to ask myself, 'What is wonderful about this moment, now?" I have never been left without an answer when I ask that question. What is wonderful right now? It is quiet, I don't have any lessons to teach today, I feel pretty good, and I am going to the temple. One little unpleasantness; there is a mouse in my wall. He is making mw aware that I am never alone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

   On the first day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, one Christmas ornament, new to my tree.
 On the second day of Christmas, my fortune brought to me, two pianists playing, and a new ornament for my tree.

On the third day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, three grandsons waiting, two pianists playing, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, four candles burning, three grandsons waiting, two pianists playing, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, six puzzles ready, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, seven windows to open, six puzzles ready, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, eight ladies smiling, seven windows to open, six puzzles waiting, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, nine men with gusto, eight ladies smiling, seven windows to open, six puzzles waiting, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for my tree.
On the tenth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, ten things about you, nine men with gusto, eight ladies smiling, seven windows to open, six puzzles ready, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for the tree.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, eleven words of wisdom, ten things about you, nine men with gusto, eight ladies smiling, seven windows to open, six puzzles ready, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for the tree.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my fortune brought to me, twelve cookies warm, eleven words of wisdom, ten things about you, nine men with gusto, eight ladies smiling, seven windows to open, six puzzles ready, five children true, four candles, three grandsons, two pianists, and a new ornament for the tree.

Whew, that song is always soooo long. Merry Christmas!!