Ending the Old Year :: Beginning the New

Happy New Year, dear friends! Another new beginning is here, and I would like to wish you a year filled with joy, love, peace, and many meaningful moments.

Because we are away from home, and away from my oven and oven mitts, I thought I’d give you a quick glimpse into yesterday and today–a bit of life away from baking. We’ve been showered with blessings and are so grateful for these slow days of celebrating and being with family.

We ended the old year at the monastery.

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Everyone dressed for the day, hopped in the car, and we traveled to Saint Anthony’s, which is a vast Greek monastery set among the saguaros in Arizona. We went in search of a blessing, and found just what we were seeking. It was a lovely time of peace, prayer and reflection.

Then off to another sort of vast. A family party, populated by many little ones, mid-sized ones, and grown-ups like myself. We had ribs at 8pm and fireworks at 9. And I put the little one to bed shortly thereafter. Reports are that the big kids stayed up until midnight and beyond. Good for them, I say!!!

This morning has meant green tea, Greek yogurt, and two of those wonderful homemade powdered sugar cookie delights that one encounters this time of year. Butter, flour, walnuts. Yum…

Mid-morning was a trip to a friend’s horse ranch.

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We rambled around the many, many stalls. Rubbed the belly of an extremely friendly and pregnant horse mama. Giggled at a miniature donkey, Allie, who was being spunky, and we were herded by the ranch dogs. Good mid-morning fun.

And soon I will be off with 12 others to see Les Miserables. I’m wondering now why I put on a touch of eye makeup this morning. I’m such a baby when it comes to anything with a tinge of sorrow, or that shows children who suffer. I’ll be bawling my head off.

And before we return home, I’m hoping to gather some of the teens and adults and make snowflakes in honor of Sandy Hook elementary school.

Want to join me? It seems like a wonderful way to kick off this new year by creating something beautiful in memory of their little ones. I will share photos of our snowflakes and would love to see yours!

Cheers, dear friends!

Washington

Driving across western Montana, and then eastern Washington there are forests, and forests, and then fields and fields of grain and open land. I wonder if any of it is wheat, but we don’t stop. We keep driving.

And we drive, and we drive. For hours we drive, and I finish the first crocheted bag, and start on a second. And we listen to Alice in Wonderland. And we stop for lunch in Coeur d’Alene and eat at the Beacon on Sherman Street.

And we’re back in the car, eating caramels from Bequet, and we listen to Nora Jones, and Switchfoot, and I ask John Ronan over and over what he can see out of his window. “Trees,” or “grass” or “nothing,” he says.

And we stop for dinner in Toppenish–we eat Mexican food.

And then we arrive at Harvey and Linda’s house! We stretch our legs, and sigh with excitement–that we are released from the red Chevy Traverse, that the landscape will stay stationary for at least a few hours. How many miles have we driven since leaving Santa Barbara–home– ten or twelve, or fourteen days ago?

Clustered around the Saint John the Forerunner Monastery, outside the small town of Goldendale, Washington, live several dear people who once resided 900 miles south. They have built homes, and sheds, and learned to shovel snow and make cappuccinos and ride ATVs. And they tell stories of bears and cat miracles, and give the biggest, fiercest hugs. So, for two and a half days we visit, and go to church together, and walk in the woods, and meet new friends,  and drive the hills, and talk of coffee and Christ and are refreshed.

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And then, there are several last good-byes and we are off.

And it’s hard to say good-bye. It seems we are saying good-bye too many times in a row, over and over

we pass through a new place,

see an old friend,

and say good-bye.