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Notes from the Pond

Christmas decorating tips


I enjoy decorating for the seasons. I often change decorative pillows and linens throughout the house to seasonal colors to make the house look fresh and new. I especially like decorating for the holidays.

I have never decorated the same way two years in a row, every year I find something to change. The mantle over the fireplace has had many different incarnations from angels floating among white lights and cotton clouds to more down to earth scenes with folk art characters. I even created a woodland scene complete with winding grapevines, apples hollowed out to serve as votives, and oranges studded with cloves for color and scent. That was a beautiful focal point but a mess to clean up.

This year I didn’t want to drag out all the boxes and other Christmas stuff so I went more minimalistic with my choices. We have a small 4.5 ft. pre-lit Christmas tree that is a nice fit for our condo. My husband said he didn’t want to put any ornaments on it but I felt this was going too far with the minimal theme. I added some bows, wrapped a large ribbon around it and hung candy canes from the branches. I then topped the tree with two large bows and decided the tree was beautiful in its simplicity. I added a few more festive touches around the house and decided I had done enough.

I then turned my attention to the front door. I like a pretty wreath on the door but was tired of the ones I have. Not wanting to spend any money on a new one I chose to give a new twist to an old wreath. I wove a large ribbon around it, tucked in some of the candy canes left over from the tree, and added two special large canes for emphasis. I was very proud of my Martha Stewart handiwork.

That is until a few days later when I looked at the door and to my horror it looked like a crime scene. There were huge red splatters against the storm door which then ran in red streaks down the entire length of the door.

My masterpiece was melting! When I put the candy canes on the wreath I removed the protective cellophane because I couldn’t place it without the writing showing. No matter how hard I tried the brand name and ingredients were visible. Now those ingredients were running down the door in the form of a red syrup.

I did give it some thought when I made the decision to remove the cellophane but I felt it would be sufficiently protected behind the glass storm door to keep the rain from hitting it and melting the canes. What I didn’t consider was what would happen when the sun hit it.

To my humble surprise, I guess I’m not Martha Stewart. The next time I decide to deck the halls with sugar plums and candy canes you can bet on it I will keep the wrappings on.

A Christmas Poem

Below is a reprint from the blog This is written by my creative friend, Anne Voight.

Holiday Wishes  

by Anne Voight

My “wish for you” this Holiday and into the New Year–

Peace of mind,
Knowledge in lessons learned,
Treasured memories,
Love of family & friends,
A joyful heart,

May the angels protect and guide you, and the Holiday Spirit remain close in your heart throughout the coming year.



From heartfelt sentiments by Anne

Christmas Thoughts



Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!

~Charles Dickens




Lincoln is destined to be a classic


After seeing the movie Lincoln, I feel I just time traveled to the year 1865 and watched the passage of historic legislation abolishing slavery. Lincoln is authentic in every way from the sound of the ticking of the pocket watch that actually belonged to Lincoln to the chill of the dimly lit room Lincoln claimed as his office.

Lincoln is produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The movie also includes a cast of many other remarkable and accomplished actors and actresses.

The movie is based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and features the last four months of his life and presidency. More specifically, it focuses on the passage of the 13th Amendment which followed the Emancipation Proclamation and permanently banished slavery for all states.

Daniel Day-Lewis so closely captures Lincoln’s essence that those connected with the production of the movie claim a chill ran down their spines as it seemed Lincoln was actually among them. We see Lincoln’s exhaustion and war weariness in Day-Lewis’s shawl- draped stooped shoulders and the clomping of his boots in his awkward gait. Day-Lewis spent a year researching Lincoln and visiting the many places associated with him before filming began. He inquired about his voice and learned Lincoln had a high pitched voice and, although we don’t have any recordings of his voice, what we hear in the movie seems to be very compatible with the character.

When we think of Lincoln we usually picture a god-like figure sitting on a marble throne as in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Here we see Lincoln as a real human being able to feel happiness, love, and laughter as well as pain, passion and grief. He was the leader of our country during its most trying period and at the same time a husband and father trying to keep his family safe and happy.

We see that Lincoln wasn’t above a little arm twisting and hand holding in order to get his way. He even turned to a few lobbyists to insure passage of his legislation. James Spader (better known as Denny Crane’s cohort) adds some comic relief as William N. Bilbo (even his name sounds comical), head lobbyist. Their behind-the-scenes antics provide a glimpse into the lobbyist’s world and lets us know that this profession also is not new. (I don’t know for sure but it is probably the second oldest profession.)

Tommy Lee Jones, usually known for playing gritty, rough and tumble character,s is excellent as Radical Republican Congressional leader, Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens was a fervent abolitionist and feared Lincoln would abandon the emancipation. He is a force to be feared and reckoned with.

Another excellent performance is turned in by David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Lincoln’s closest friend and confidant.

We can’t forget Sally Field as Mrs. Lincoln or madam president as she preferred to be called. She is sweet, forceful and a bit insane all at once.

Other actors you will recognize are:

  • Hal Holbrook (who won an Emmy for portraying Lincoln in a 1976 mini-series) as Francis Preston Blair, an influential Republican politician, who tried to arrange a peace agreement between the Union and the Confederacy.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, who has dropped out of Harvard Law School to serve as a personal attendant to Gen. Grant in the Union Army.
  • Gloria Reuben, (formerly of ER) as Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, dressmaker, and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln.
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (long-time actress on Law and Order) as Thaddeus Stevens’s housekeeper and “friend”.

Lincoln could easily have been a boring documentary about passage of legislation that would shape the future of our country; but in the skillful hands of Spielberg we see history in a fresh way. I particularly like the way he introduced us to the Gettysburg Address and portrayed the assassination scene. Spielberg gives the viewer credit for some intelligence and shows these in a new way. Why rehash something we have known since the third grade?

Lincoln is a movie I could see again and I don’t say that about many movies. Every student of American History and school child above the age of 10 should see this movie. Lincoln will be around for a long time and one that future historical dramas will be measured against. Expect to see many awards for this movie in the upcoming awards season including best movie, best director, best actor and supporting actors. It just may sweep up all the goodies.

I give Lincoln an A+.

It’s almost over: Just 5 days, 7,000 ads left

To accompany the post I made a couple of days ago, Who wants to  buy your vote? ( in which I talked about the saturation of political ads, the Columbus Dispatch says today that with five days to go before the election we have just 7,000 more presidential ads to sit through. That equals one commercial per minute.

In addition to the 7,000 ads there are many more “issue” ads from the super PACs as well as spots for other races such as the Senate, congressional, court, legislative and local candidates.

We can all sympathize with the new YouTube sensation, four year old Abigael Evans, who is so tired of the presidential campaigns by “Bronco Bamma” and Mitt Romney that she is crying for them stop. We feel your pain Abigael.


Click on the link below to see adorable Abigael Evans.


Click on the Columbus Dispatch link for the full story