1 Nephi 1: 1, 3
...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

^^That pretty much explains this blog.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Prophet is Dead. Long Live the Prophet.

I was reminded of the saying, "The King is Dead. Long Live the King."
It is said in the United Kingdom, and probably has been said in any monarchy. But it's true about our prophets, too.
President Thomas S. Monson died on January 2, 2018, at the age of 90. What a perfectly precious man and human being he is. I think he has best shown Christlike love of any prophet I've lived under. when I say that, I mean . . . I've always wondered what the personality of Jesus Christ was like. Did you ever wonder that? Was He reserved or outgoing? Did He have a sense of humor, or was He serious all the time?
What we do know is that service was at the top of His list of everyday living. Wherever He went, He personified service--healing the sick, the lame, the blind. He was also a very forgiving God--forgiving the woman taken in sin; forgiving the man who had palsy. He went out of His way to do service.
Did he have a sense of humor? I think of how he told of forgiveness by comparing it to the mote in one person's eye and the beam in another's eye. Hyberbole. Yes, humor.
And He told parables that enthralled the population. Scores of people surrounded Him and followed Him.

Thus was President Thomas S. Monson.
Service was personified in him. He went out of the way for the widow, the lame, the elderly, the forgotten.
His sense of humor abounded in every talk he gave. You could see his "tongue in cheek."
And his stories . . . I couldn't wait for his stories every Conference weekend.

I think, in my humble opinion, that when I think of Jesus Christ now, I will remember President Monson. I believe this must have been how our Savior's personality was manifest.

I will miss President Monson, but I welcome our new Prophet Russell M. Nelson. I have waited for him to be Prophet for 34 years. Yes, I already had a testimony that he would be our prophet one day. Yet, he was a newly-ordained apostle when I had that vision.
As "Elder" Nelson grew older--and older--I didn't think my vision/prophecy would come to pass, yet we are here. President Nelson is 93 years old. I don't know how long he will serve, but I always knew he would serve as president of the church.
I had a vision I have only shared with a few people. Perhaps I'll write about it one day.

President Monson is dead. Long live President Nelson.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . . 

I didn't write very much in my Memoir Blog this year. It has been traumatic and awe inspiring and totally exhausting. I never wish my life away, but I really can't wait for 2017 to end.

Here's hoping 2018 will have all kinds of joy and be totally uneventful.

One joy happened last week when Jewely and James came from Maine for an early Christmas visit. I hadn't seen Jewely since April 2014. I miss her so much. I had all my kids here once again. My joy was full.

I don't know how long I'll have my other three kids here in Utah with me, but I have vowed to enjoy them all while I have them. They are a source of strength and love to me, each in their own way. I'm also grateful for Zannah's husband, Nick. He is like a son to me and helps me in so many ways. I'm grateful that he loves my daughter. I'm grateful that James loves Jewely. It's all a mother can ask for.

Since our ward's Choir Christmas program was the week before Christmas, Jewely and I were able to sing together in the program. Happiness supreme! We sang "The First Noel" to the tune of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." We had sung it about ten years ago when Jewely was in high school. Two women in my ward, Kathy Jeffs and Kali Dayton, played the Pachelbel in a piano four hands. It turned out so well. It's the best we ever did, and Jewely's voice held out and rang true, even though she felt a cold coming on (and lost her voice on Monday!!!). I was in my glory. I hadn't been able to sing for years because it was discovered this year I had a fungus infection on my vocal chords I didn't know about. After taking an anti-fungal medication, my voice came back, but my singing voice was weak.

This year I built up my singing stamina and sang every single day so I would have the strength to sing at Christmas. There were a few glitches in the songs I sang, but I did it! Coup!

We had our family Christmas on Friday, December 22, and went that night to see "The Forgotten Carols." I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It was something Jewely wanted to do, so that was my Christmas present to my family.

Group Selfie at The Forgotten Carols

Nick, Jewely, James

Jewely received a beautiful dress from her Pollyanna Zannah

Tim received a video game he wanted

Alex received a poster

This is how much I love Zannah. I started a mermaid afghan for her before the fire because she asked for it. Of course, it was in the ozone warehouse all those months, so I started another one while living in the apartment. I was about three-quarters of the way done when I moved back into my house, then had all the frustrations of the smoke to deal with. By December, the mermaid afghan still wasn't done. I crocheted every night after Thanksgiving to finish it. It took me two hours to crochet one row of scales. 
And that's how much I love Zannah. I thought of her with every stitch.

Cute Nick got the same video game as Timmy.

It was a fantastic Christmas season. Since we had our "Christmas Day" the Friday before, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent with my boys, while ZanNick spent it with Nick's family. 

On Christmas Eve, after a wonderful Sacrament meeting of singing select peoples' favorite carols, I came home, watched a little MoTab,  and then my boys came over in the afternoon.

Okay, not very Christmasy, but we watched Star Wars, Episodes IV, V, and VI. After a dinner of gumbo, on Christmas Eve night, we watched our traditional "It's a Wonderful Life." Timmy spent the night, but Alex went home.

On Christmas Day, Timmy and I had breakfast together and had a chance to chat. I found out he is a supreme composer. He composes jazz music orchestra compositions. They are excellent! He needs to send them to someone to play. I'm a proud mother, yes, but I also know jazz music. His is extraordinary!

Alex came by and we went to the movies and saw Star Wars, Episode VIII again--me for the second time, Tim's third time, Alex's sixth time. We came home, had some more gumbo, and watched "Dr. Strange," which was, yes, strange. Not as enjoyable as I might have hoped.

The boys left at about 10:00 and Tobey and I were left to our own devices--I to do some genealogy and catch up on my "Merry Christmases" on Facebook and email, and Tobey to bug me for treats and play time.

So, not quite a traditional Christmas, but one with family and love and togetherness. Jamely got home safely, and I have off today to catch up on my blog and to write up a lesson plan to teach in the family history classes at church in January while the teacher is away. 

All in all, I do have a wonderful life. I am reminded constantly that my Heavenly Father knows who I am and loves me, despite my many flaws. And I love Him. He sticks with me through all my whining and complaining and even sends me the Holy Ghost as a comforter in my times of trouble. 

I am extremely thankful for His gift of His Only Begotten Son whom we worship this Christmas season. Without his atoning sacrifice, this life--this wonderful life--would be all for nought. 

I love my Savior. I worship Him. I sing praises to Him. He is my everything, truly. I love Him, my Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost, with all my heart and soul and life. 

Eleven Months Later

As I said, I kept a chronicle of "The Fire Adventure" on my Facebook page and updated it quite often. https://www.facebook.com/susan.tobel.knight

I am still in awe that my "stuff" was all protected. I still have all my genealogy and photos--really the only thing I care about. I have made several thumb drives and I keep spares at the office, in case something happens--like a FIRE!

After three weeks of living with Zannah and Nick in January/February, I was put up in an apartment in Mill Creek on February 13. Unfortunately, the apartment was rented previously by a smoker and though they tried, the management could not get the cigarette smoke out of the apartment. I suffered for 5.5 months. My one salvation was my daily walks to the duck ponds on the property. They were the joy in my life until I was moved back into my home.

All of my belongings were taken out of my house and stored in a warehouse and ozoned. My clothes were kept in a Red Hanger Cleaners warehouse, also ozoned. I only had clothes that I picked out for work and some others to wear for over 5 months. I stored all valuables at Nick and Zannah's. I wore the same earrings and diffuser necklace every day for over 5 months.

But I was safe. My house was safe, though smoke embued for many, many months before they could start work on remediating it. They had to rebuild Burt's house first to make sure all smoke was gone before they could start on mine.  I think, perhaps, that's why it's been so hard to get the smoke smell out of my house.

Of course, ordinary people can't really smell the smoke, but I have to be special and have chemical sensitivities so that I can smell smoke--a toxic chemical. It's a blessing--and a curse.

I moved back in July 7, then took the next few days to clean the apartment. I spent the next month unpacking boxes. By August, after some painting had been done and the smell from that wore off, I smelled smoke.

UDK and the insurance company tried for the next month to prove there wasn't any smoke. But I smelled smoke in certain areas of my house--the master bathroom, master bedroom, kitchen, living room and basement. Others who visited smelled smoke, too. I had witnesses.

As I said, this is all chronicled on Facebook, and I don't want to dredge it all up again. I get hives thinking about it. Literally. I get hives!

Suffice it to say, after more remediation that is still not accomplished at this date, I am hoping and praying above all faith that the smoke smell is gone. I have even banished smoke from my house in angry commands to the "smoke spirits" that might be lingering. Call me crazy. I do what I have to do.

They took the common walls out of my master bathroom, including the shower, but the carpenter didn't put the shower door area back together correctly. Right now, I'm waiting for UDK to send another carpenter to fix the problem.

Please, Lord, let this be it. I have faith, Father in Heaven, that my house is smoke free and will remain so for the rest of my time here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

New Year New Adventure

January 23, 2017--a day that will live in infamy--at least for me.

I wasn't sure which blog to write this in, but chose this one because it is part of my memories.
On Facebook, I've been giving a chronicle of the days since the fire. I'll add it here too.

At about 8:45 p.m. on January 23, 2017, I stepped out of the shower and into my jammies.
I had just had company all weekend--Sharyn Ogden and her kids--and was having more company on Wednesday--Carla and Todd Campbell.  I needed to wash the sheets and towels.

I put a load in the washer and was about to tackle emptying the dishwasher and filling it up again, but the dog wanted to go out. I stopped to turn on my TV because there was a show coming on at 9:00 I wanted to watch. That's why I showered earlier than later. I smelled smoke and thought the neighbors were going all out with burning fires in their fireplaces on that cold night. The smoke smell filled up my living room.

When I let Tobey out, I heard my neighbor's smoke alarms and looked over and saw heavy grey smoke gushing out of Burt's house in the back. I immediately called 9-1-1. The lady on the phone told me not to hang up, but to get out of the house.

I put on my coat, slipped into my slippers, put the leash on the dog, and stepped out into my garage. I remember pushing the washing machine button off. I saw that the same smoke was billowing out of Burt's garage. There was Burt Christensen, 87, standing in his garage with a white handkerchief over his face, trying to bat away the smoke so he could go back inside. He was dressed in his pajamas and in his bare feet. He said, "I can't leave my house!" I told him the smoke was too heavy. You couldn't even see the garage or its contents, the smoke was so thick.

I had forgotten to turn my lights off inside, but the lady on the phone said not to go back in. Thank goodness I turned the washer off before I headed out into the garage.

At that point, I saw my neighbor across the street, Rich Pinnell,  running over holding a hose in his hands. I wondered what he was doing. At that point, I think I was going into shock, but trying to function.

Burt was trying to go back in and I begged Rich to persuade Burt to come into my garage. I said, "He needs a coat and some shoes. Can you get him a coat and some shoes?" I shewed Rich back to his house. I'm sorry if I was brusk with him, but I was in all out panic mode.

I realized my hair was still wet. I was in my pajamas, too. I had my slippers on, but my feet were freezing and my head was freezing. I pulled up my hood. It was 19 degrees and snowing, more like falling ice and snow.

I yelled at the woman at 9-1-1, "Are they coming?" She assured me they were. The fire company is only about two blocks away. I asked her numerous times. I thought at least 15 minutes had passed, but maybe it was only five minutes. I asked her again, "Where are they?"  She assured me again that they were coming and to stay on the phone.

At that time, I heard the sirens in the distance, so I told her. I couldn't hang up until they got there. A fire engine and an ambulance came down the street with sirens and lights blaring. Then there were numerous fire engines coming from both directions.

Rich came back with a lightweight jacket and a pair of work boots. I guess that's all he could find. Burt put on the jacket. The shoes didn't fit. I noticed my son Alex's sneakers in my garage. He wore them when he did yard work for me and just left them at my house. I told Rich to help Burt try them on. Thank goodness they fit!

Rich, Burt and I stood in my garage watching the firemen going in and coming out of Burt's house. They were wearing masks. I didn't feel like it was urgent. A smoke fire, I thought.  I tried to call my kids, but their mailboxes were full and I couldn't leave a message. I texted them and still no answer.

My friend, Connie Bennett, called me but I couldn't talk to her. Too noisy. And I had really started to panic. Other neighbors came over while we were still standing in the garage. I can't remember who all came over. I mean, we stood in my garage with me still thinking "it's just a smoke fire," maybe a small kitchen fire, and the firemen will put out whatever fire might be there.

Text to Zannah and Nick: at 9:19 p.m.: There's a fire next door. Will you please come get the dog? He's freezing. Burt's house. I can't go in my house.

Text to Alex at 9:20 p.m.: Burt's house is on fire. I can't get hold of Z and N. I need them to get the dog. He's freezing. They won't let me in my house. Smoke.

I figured Tim was all the way down in Pleasant Grove, so I didn't text him.

Finally, I decided to take a picture of the fire engines and the smoke coming out of Burt's house. As a last resort, I posted it on Facebook, hoping my kids would see it. I asked for prayers too, I think, for whoever might be seeing the post.

This is the picture I put on Facebook

At 9:28 p.m., I received a text from Alex: Game just let out. We'll be like 30 minutes if we RUN.

At 9:31 p.m., I called Alex and found out that roads out of the game were a parking lot.  At least I got him and could tell him what was going on.

At 9:48 p.m., I had the wherewithal to text my boss and tell him my neighbor's house was on fire, I have an adjoining twin, and probably wouldn't be at work the next day. He didn't get the message until about 11:30, and understood and said he was happy to help with whatever he could.

After about an hour, maybe at 10:00, I saw all the firemen rushing out of Burt's house. They said the floor had caught on fire. They told us all to get out of the area, we were blocking things up for them. One of the firemen toted a hose into my garage and laid it on the floor with the nozzle right by the steps. I asked, "Is my house on fire?"  He said, "No. This is just in case. We're encapsulating your house."  I still don't know what that means.

One fireman asked if there was a fence in back separating our yards. I said yes. Then I saw a bunch of firefighters drag hoses down the side of my house and through my gate. I figured they were going to have to knock down that fence in the back; for what, I didn't know.  I still wondered if my house was going to catch fire. I knew then that I was definitely in the throes of shock. Something happened to my brain and it all seemed like a dream. And I was so freezing cold.

Some firemen went into my house through the garage door and I saw all my lights on. I wondered if my smoke alarms were going off, but I don't think there was sufficient smoke at that time. I don't know. Maybe I just couldn't hear it. A fireman that seemed to be in charge told me I had to go across the street and get out of the way. He grabbed my arm and started escorting me.

He was going too fast. I told him I was handicapped and couldn't walk that fast. My driveway was icy at the bottom because it had just snowed about 13 inches over the weekend--the Ogdens had built snowmen and an igloo and shoveled my driveway several times. He took it a little slower, but not slow enough. I yelled at him, "I can't walk that fast!"  I was in my slippers and slip-sliding all over. (Sorry, fireman.)

He got me over to Gary and Gerald's house directly across the street from mine, and I asked him if he would get my purse and my shoes that were by the couch. My ankle brace was with them. He went inside--I could see him. The door was open and the lights were still on!  He came back with them and I put my shoes and brace on. My feet were ice cold. Gary and Gerald gave me a stadium chair to sit in and piled on blankets. Poor Tobey was shivering so bad. I had him under the blankets with me. He wouldn't stop shivering. I thought it was because he was cold. It was that, but he was scared too.

At 10:02 p.m., Alex called me and told me he couldn't get near my street. It was blocked both ways. But all four of my kids did get to me soon after. They just had to find a place to park. They were all at the Jazz game and came as soon as they could.

Once the kids got there, a reporter from Fox News came and asked for an interview. At first I thought he was from a newspaper. I told him as long as they didn't take any pictures. I had just washed my hair. I was in my pajamas. No makeup. Oi.  Then I realized he was a television reporter. Lights! Camera! Action! Oi.

Fifteen minutes of fame? Oi. Fox 13 News.

Alex said to just put my hood up and nobody would see my hair. I looked like a zombie--death warmed over. But I did the interview. Some people said they saw it the next morning. Ugh! I was hoping they didn't put me on TV.  I haven't seen it.  I don't want to.

At one point, I sat in the chair, freezing, under blankets, and watched the ensuing scene. Then I saw smoke coming out of MY attic vent. I asked, "Is MY house on fire too?" We all just watched. I told my kids, "Please pray REALLY hard. All of our family history is in my house."

Somber silence.

And I watched. Smoke everywhere. Someone said it was coming through the attics. In my shock and denial, I realized I needed to pray. HARD!

I had a thought. The Savior said, "Ask and ye shall receive." I know about the Law of Attraction. And I also have the gift of faith. I decided to use a little synergy--prayer and faith. I prayed in all positive words, in faith. I prayed, "Heavenly Father, please let the fire stop at my house. I have faith that Thou can stop the fire. I KNOW that Thou can stop the fire. I'm asking Thee to keep my house safe from fire. I pray my house will be safe from fire. Please save my house."

After that, the action seemed to die down somewhat. I saw firemen going through my house. Someone came and told me Burt was in an ambulance getting warm and his son Justin came home from work--to find that all his belongings he had just moved in in the last three weeks, were under fire and smoke. I felt so bad for them.

I guess they got the fire under control somewhat because we were told that I could leave, but to come back in about an hour and a half and I could get into my house to get some things. It was probably about 10:45 at that time. I remember calculating that I should come back around midnight.

Zannah and Nick took me to their home. We told Tim he could go home. Alex followed to ZnN's soon after. He had stopped at Smith's to get me some comfort food (??).  I guess he thought that would be a good thing to do for me. He's a very caring person. I did not feel the least bit hungry, though, and I don't think I ate much the next day either. Still in shock.

We hung around ZN's house until midnight, then headed back over. Alex went home.

I was so cold. My whole body was like ice. I know I was in shock, too.

Nick and I went in the house while Zannah stayed in the car with the dog. We walked through, but didn't go down in the basement. We were told there was a few inches of water down there and it would be dangerous. I went into my bedroom and grabbed my jeans and some underwear and stuffed them in a tote bag. Then I grabbed a suitcase and started putting clothes in it. (I saw my clothes for the next day of work already picked out and hanging in the closet. I always do it the night before.)

We grabbed the the dog's crate and a few toys for him (realized later they smelled like smoke). Took some dog food that had a tight lid. I was told not to take anything that was opened and not sealed tight. *sigh*

When I got outside, I realized everything smelled like smoke, so I didn't take the suitcase. I still took the tote bag with a few things in it--my jeans.  I had grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste (I had to throw them away because of smoke particulates. Who knew?)  *sigh*

I was told "cleaners" would come the next day and I could pick out rush 24-hour clothes for them to get to me.

I think I got my car out of the garage. I don't remember doing it. Rocky Mountain Power had already shut off my electric. Someone manually put the garage door down--I don't remember who--maybe Nick. And I don't remember driving back to Zannah's. But I guess I did. I gave someone my house key so they could set up a lock box to have the UDK (Utah Disaster Kleanup) come in the next morning.

After all was said and done, I think we got back to the house at 12:30. Zannah had made up the bed in their spare room when we were there earlier. I remember looking at my watch when I was going to bed (I was already in my pajamas!) and it read 12:42. I felt bad for the kids. They had to go to work the next day--that day, actually.

Tobey and I snuggled to get warm. I was still freezing. I was so cold. I hadn't grabbed my allergy medicine that helped me to sleep. I didn't have any sleeping pills. I couldn't fall asleep. I was awake all night. At about 5:00 a.m. someone texted me from the east coast. I was awake when it came in. After that, I fell asleep. I think I slept for about two hours. I was supposed to meet--I can't remember who it was--at 9:00 a.m. Someone from Midvale, maybe?

I'm keeping a chronicle on Facebook. 

Until then, I know I'm blessed beyond measure. I didn't lose anything. I am inconvenienced. I had prayer warriors praying mightily for me. I have been sustained on prayer. I know it. I testify to it.

No humans were injured during this fire, although Burt lost both of his dogs. They woke him up. He said they were biting his neck. He got up. I have no idea how he could have seen to get out, the smoke was so thick.  Alas, the dogs didn't make it out. The remains was found of one dog a few days later.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This blog was created so my children could read about my life. I've tried to answer a few questions from the book Jewely got me. I've also tried to write about things I care about.

When you get to be my age, anything you can find about parents and grandparents is special. That's why I have this picture posted.

When my grandmother Mary Lou was 63, she had a beautiful picture taken of herself. It reminds me of a high school yearbook picture with the drape and exposing her shoulders. I thought it was the best picture of her and I treasure it. She was a beautiful woman.

I am 62.9.  I can't believe I am almost the age of my grandmother in her picture, though I don't have the high school pose. We had our photos taken at work and I never take a good picture (I'm notoriously unphotogenic), but I think this one is pretty good. I know I'm old(er), and there are lines on my face, but, to tell you the truth, after all I've been through in my life, I'm surprised there aren't more. I guess my white hair (that's covered with color) makes up for the wrinkles.

I want to bear my testimony of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, so my children know I stand steadfastly by my testimony and it shall never waiver. I have been through a lot, as I said, but my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is intact.

I love my Heavenly Father, and I know He loves me. He is my Father. I pray to Him and speak to Him as I would to an earthly father. I count on him to guide me and protect me, as I have no husband or father on earth to do so. I put my complete trust in Him.

I know that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son on earth and that He is my Savior and Redeemer. There were many times that I saw only one set of footprints in the sand, and I know they were His. He has carried me through so many rough times. I totally rely on Him for His atoning sacrifice. Many times I have let go and let Him help me.

I bear witness that the Holy Ghost has walked beside me, especially during my divorce. His Spirit was so palpable, I could almost hear Him breathe in my ear. I could almost feel Him take my arm and lead me to a better place.

I know Joseph Smith was called as the prophet of this last dispensation and brought forth the Book of Mormon through prophecy, through our godhead's revelation. And if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then all those who followed were also prophets. Thomas S. Monson is a great man and current prophet of our church. I have a testimony that he is our prophet. I had it confirmed by the Holy Ghost, even before President Hinckley died.

I believe in the Holy Bible, as far as it is translated correctly. Whenever you see a word in italics in the Bible, it means a word was put in to make the sentence work. It was a guess on the part of those who compiled the King James version of the Bible. I love how Joseph Smith translated some parts of the Bible as well, and made it so much more understandable and relatable.

The Book of Mormon is a true and concise book, brought from the dust and into the hands of Joseph Smith. I have had witness after witness that the events and scripture of this book are true. It happened the first time while I was reading in Mosiah. Ammon asked King Mosiah if he could travel to the land of his inheritance to see what became of his kin. What happened while on that trip filled me up and I knew it was true. There were so many twists and turns, I knew Joseph Smith, with a third grade education, could not have written that book. It had to be inspired and translated.

I know how hard it is to write a book, but to write a book of that magnitude and length in such a short time period, would have been impossible without the help of God, angels, resurrected beings, and the Urim and Thummim. Not to mention great faith.

The Book of Mormon is the Keystone of our religion. If you believe it is true and correct, then Joseph Smith must be a prophet to have been able to translate it. If you believe Joseph Smith was/is a prophet, then Thomas S. Monson is also a prophet. He is the leader of our church, which I know, after investigation back in the 1980s, is the truest church on the earth today. It was "restored," and didn't come from any other religion of the time. I have had it made known to me that the Book of Mormon contains the truth. I know it, and I know God knows I know it.

I believe in eternal families. I have been sealed to all of my children and their spouses are sealed to them. We will have each other in eternity and who knows what that will entail? I have never heard of going to church while in heaven, only that we will be together as families in a family organization that stretches forever. It's a great thing.

I hope my children will get interested in genealogy as I did. I have never regretted all the work I've done. It was so well worth it and exciting as I know so many of our ancestors who have gone before us into the spirit world. I have a testimony that you can be their savior as you do temple work for the dead. They will call you blessed. They are waiting for their work to be done. Research is fun. I hope my children will love to research their ancestors as much as I have. Hopefully, I've left a few for you to uncover. :-)

I love my children. They are all unique spirits. I love my siblings. They are also all unique spirits. I pray for my mother, immediate and extended family daily. Sometimes I cry unto the Lord, as in scripture, my feelings run so deep for all of you.

My hope, my children, is that your future is bright, that you live your lives to the fullest, that you treat your "name" with respect and keep it untarnished. Remember who you are. Read your patriarchal blessings at least monthly so you know and realize how great you once were in the pre-existence, and that the greatness has followed you to earth. A lot is expected of you, since much has been given to you.

Please think of me fondly. I tried my best. My very best.

I love you all so much.

I wish you a Merry Christmas 2016, and look forward to a bright and happy New Year 2017. I hope to post a lot more in ensuing years.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Times and Things I Treasure

Michael McLean wrote a song in "The Forgotten Carols" called "I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down."  I get so sad when I pack up all the ornaments and decorations. I love Christmas.

At the conclusion of 2016, I decided I would take pictures of my Christmas Tree, ornaments, and my Nativities. And maybe even revisit Christmases past . . .

I wish you could see the sparkle lights. They're just like lightening bugs.
This is my tree this year. Since I got Tobey, I used a table tree, but decided to trust him and put up my Alpine tree again this year. I have new copper bows on it, replacing the mauve/pink-colored bows I had on my trees since forever--1990s, I think.

My tree in 2011. First Christmas in my new house. Pink bows.
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, 2013 and 2014. New puppy. And in 2014, I traveled to Florida and didn't want to put up a tree that year, so this worked perfectly. I keep it at work now and put it up in my cubicle. I wonder where those pinecone ornaments are. I guess I gave them all away.
Table Tree, 2015
Timmy has this now.


Ornaments that I put on the tree are special to me. Some are very old. Some are symbolic or significant.

I made dough art ornaments, probably in the late 1970s. I worked craft shows in the area on weekends and sold my wares. I tried to keep the best ones for my collection, though. I guess you could say these are "vintage."

Heart in Hand--Pennsylvania Dutch Saying

Snowman . . .missing a button, I see.
I probably still have the tools I used to make all these things.
The "straw" of the broom was made by putting dough through a garlic press.

I love this Santa's face.
Yep, the beard went through the garlic press.
I love these colorful dough ornaments. These are just a few. I keep them in a box in my closet so the weather won't get to them. I have more than these, stowed away. My tree isn't big enough--or strong enough, to hold them all.

I made two of these happy little star-faced guys. It was Christmas of 1982. I was pregnant with my first child and I learned to make these, out of pantyhose and fiberfil, at a Homemaking meeting. We were still in the little, old, white church building. Julie Carlini was teaching us. She was nine months pregnant, and actually started labor while she taught us. Her mother whisked her away to the hospital.

My mother gave me the Hallmark ball on the right with 1983 dated on it. She also painted the smaller one and dated it 1983 as well. I wonder what significance 1983 is . . . Something to do with a little angel, I guess . . .

My mom also gave me this one, above, with Florida sand and sea shells in it. The card that accompanies it, in the green, reads: When you see this ornament upon your tree, may you remember the Man Who walked the shores of Galilee.

At Christmastime in 1990, Carol Clemmer, the Martha Stewart of Crafts for the Doylestown ward, showed the Young Women how to make these muslin angels. I begged her to allow me to join in. I wanted to make them so bad. She did let me. I made twelve of them--all hand sewn. I always tried to make twelve of everything when I made ornaments for the tree. Twelve Days of Christmas, I guess. I used raffia for the wings and halo. I can't remember what Carol used. Probably wooden limbs from trees. 
I was pregnant with my fourth and last child while sewing these. I also remember watching the Persian Gulf War on television while I made them. I was afraid because I thought it was WWIII. I kept thinking about the Bible verse that says something like Woe to those who are with child at the Second Coming. Can't remember exactly. I just remember being so afraid it was Armageddon. But I love these muslin angels. It just wouldn't be my tree without them. They are twenty-six years old.

I found a prototype of a lace fan at the annual craft show at a beautiful Victorian house in Telford--I think it was called the Victorian Boutique, but I forget. So I decided I would copy it and I made my own version. I believe I made these at the same time I made the muslin angels. It seems like yesterday. Most of the dried flowers have fallen off or disintegrated. But . . . memories.

I was shopping at Clemens one day (now Giant), and saw these gold birds in a section at the end of an aisle. Clemens used to have such nice gifts. I bought a few one year, and added on in ensuing years. I have twelve of these too.

I forget what year I made these crocheted reindeers. I made one for each of the managers and supervisors I worked with at Selecthealth at the time (about 15). It might have been 2011 because I couldn't do much after I broke my ankle and was recuperating from surgery. 

The next year, I made doves out of the same type of yarn. 

For two years in a row, while in Florida, I painted little ornament cards to give to my co-workers.
This is the wreath I painted in 2014. I also painted pinecones in 2013. They are next to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, in a photo above.

My Mom got this ornament for me. This is the year my Grandfather, Henry Tobelmann Sr., was born. 1896. She knew I would appreciate it. December 16, 2016 is his 120th birthday. I loved that man.

Bonnie Meyerson spent Christmas back east a few years ago and brought this back for me. We always gave each other Jim Shore ornaments and such for Christmas. Behind this, you can partially see a Jim Shore tall Santa she gave me one year.

Every year since I moved to Utah, I said I was going to throw away the mauve-colored paper bows that usually adorned my tree and make new ones. I must have made them in the 1990s. For years, I kept watching at Michaels for when ribbon went on sale, but I never saw any I liked. This year, I found this pretty copper-colored wired ribbon and bought three spools (I only needed two). 
Lo, and behold, I must have thrown away the mauve ribbons last year because they were nowhere to be found. I guess I figured if I threw them away, I'd have to make new ones. It must have been somewhere in my psyche because I bought ribbon at the beginning of this season and didn't wait until the end. Serendipity.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had an extensive Nativity collection. I think I counted over one dozen at one point. I had everything from a tiny Nativity in a walnut shell to my large Willow Tree Nativity. I had Jim Shore Heartwood Creek, Willie Ray, which Zannah now has, and my beloved Willow Tree. I also had my parents' "vintage" Nativity which I grew up with. My mother got the pieces at Newberry's five and dime store, or maybe it was Woolworth's, in Coatesville and added to it every year. I think there is still a sticker on the bottom of one of the pieces that says 29c. Still they added to it every year. Couldn't afford to buy it all at once. The pieces are Italian. I think they're made of plaster.

The stable, above, has a spot for a little light, but I never plugged it in. It made the star shine at the top. Around the time Zannah was born, I got a zig-zag sewing machine and made the velvet and satin wall hanging above the Nativity. I always loved seeing this set. I haven't used it since I moved to Utah. I don't have as much room for display as I had in Perkasie. But perhaps next year I'll display this one instead of one of the others. I gave it to Jewely, but she didn't take it with her to Maine. I'm happy to keep it and Jewely can have it one day in the future.

I enjoy decorating my mantel at Christmas every year. It's the perfect spot for my Willow Tree Nativity. I have the whole collection, including the doves and trees (which are discontinued). I'm not sure if there is another new piece this year. I bought the stockings at Michaels, and the lighted wreath at The Quilted Bear, when I bought my house in 2011.

Closeup of the Nativity Holy Family
I think I wanted to paint the wall blue just to be the perfect backdrop for this Nativity.

Sherryl Smith gave me the wooden letters. So appropriate. She also gave me the star backdrop behind the Holy Family, above. Bonnie has given all of her children a Willow Tree Nativity set, and adds to it every year. I love displaying my Willow Tree angels.

Above, and below, is my Jim Shore Nativity. I lost the shepherd and animals--probably stayed in Pennsylvania and is long gone by now--but I looked on eBay and found a perfect set, so I treated myself and purchased it. They don't make these anymore, so I was lucky to find one. I love all the colors and the quilt theme--after my own heart.

The Baby Jesus looks so comfortable and warm under this beautiful quilt. 
I'm sure the manger wasn't this comfy in real life, but . . . art makes it beautiful.

These "knock off" Carolers were purchased at Sine's Five and Dime in Quakertown. I would occasionally walk across the street from Miss Cindy's while Zannah and Jewely took their dance lessons. I think the Byer's Choice Carolers (made in Chalfont, Pa.) are kind of ugly, but I like the faces on these figures. They decorate my piano every year--an appropriate place for them, I believe, while I play Christmas Carols.

The carolers still stand on my piano here in Utah. On the other side is my wooden Nativity and the three wooden trees I made at a Christmas in July. The wooden plaque on the left, and below, was also made at a Christmas in July. Or was it Christmas in October? Either one. We looked forward to it each year.

Since I got this new chest, which holds my art supplies, I decided to try the wooden Nativity on it this year. I always used to pair it with my birdhouses. The one sort of looks like a stable. This Nativity was the first Decorative Painting venture for me, in probably 1995. My friend, Cherie Webster, taught me how to cut them out with her scroll saw, then how to paint them. That led to a slightly lucrative venture when my friend, Kathy Davis, asked me to paint some birdhouses for her then-boutique in Montgomery Mall. I love the quilted birdhouse on the left. And the one on the right didn't sell, so I kept it. My signature was adding buttons. I have scads of antique buttons and was able to use them. Good times. Fun times.

Perkasie mantel of long ago, about 2002

Perkasie mantel of 2008

Family room Christmas tree of long ago, filled with ornaments the children made through the years.

Donna Ramsden gave me this NOEL Santa. I loved the look on his face. Alas, I can't find it. It may have stayed in Pennsylvania. This photo makes me miss it. It was definitely one of my favorite things of Christmas.

At least I have these noel blocks. On the back of the blocks is the word Welcome. I turned them over and stenciled noel on some of them. Then I stenciled the word "Joy" on the back of ABC blocks that I got at the Victorian house one year. The two dogbone ornaments with Rusty and Toby on them were made by our former neighbor, Sue Wilkinson.

Family dog of long ago. RIP, Rusty, 1996-2009

I used to love to decorate for Christmas. The living room was the "holy" room with all my Nativities. The family room was snowmen and more secular decorations. And the stair railing was different every year. One time, when I was babysitting after school kids, one of the kids commented that my house looked like a country store. That made me feel good. It was the 1990s. I was totally into country decorating.

This is the best Christmas Card picture of all time.
O, Holy Knights

The story behind this . . . It was the perfect year for this picture. Two-year-old Jewely was being a spitfire that day. It was September 1991, and we used the playhouse fort, about six feet up, for the backdrop. We put straw on the floor, and I stood on the sliding board to take the picture. Jewely was not cooperating. She fidgeted and didn't want to pose. Patient Zannah, wearing a hooded bath towel, and her father's white shirt turned backwards, was the perfect Mary. Alex (Sandy back then), in his father's robe and a baby blanket on his head, waited. Even three-month-old baby Timmy was good. He was hungry. He's gnawing on his hands--but not crying.

This was in the days of film in cameras. I had no idea how they were turning out. I was almost through a roll of film. Finally, I offered Jewely a granola bar to be good. She had to have it first. She ate it. Then she posed. This was photo number 17 . . . the last one I took. It's a little over-exposed, but I'll take it.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Any fond memory of family growing up centers around Christmas. I have tried to make Christmas a day of worship for our family, celebrating the reason for the season--and I don't mean giving or receiving of gifts. I mean worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope my own children will keep up the tradition when they have children. I also hope they invite people who would not otherwise have anywhere to go for the day. It's a happy day for me.

I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪  I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ and a Happy New Year.