2017 Letter To Friends And Family – The Black and White Box

“A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
I have a pretty black and white box I bought for my husband’s 60th birthday celebration.  It was used to gather all  of the “60-Words of blessing” that folks sent.  Those now have been placed into an archive for someone, someday to deal with.

box

The black and white box has become our annual memory box.  A place where I gather the mementos we acquire throughout the year like:
  • programs from concerts
  • graduation invites and programs
  • wedding, death and baptism announcements
  • and other like events
During the holidays we open the box and review the people we have met, the occasions we celebrate, even the good-bye’s said.  These serve as precious reminders.  It gives us a place from which to launch gratitude for another year and to reflect on how we will go forward in the new year.
A Box Of News
This box, along with photos and our planners are the source for the news in our annual letters.  We have been sending out annual news since we were married 40 years ago.  I have copies of them all.  They are a compilation of adventures taken, goals met and joys shared. Behind many of those are days of long hours, fears pressing in and yes, sorrows walked through.   Last year was the first time I used THE STONEBRIDGE platform to share this.
There are times I look at what we have done, and am reluctant continue this tradition.  Social Media has made it possible to stay in touch with the many global friends we have, as well as family well beyond those we send cards and letters.  And frankly things seemed to have become a routine.  I am just fine with that.
Yet, there is something special about sharing news this time of year.  I know we enjoy the annual missives we get from others, whether via print or the Internet.   We add those to our “box” for our year end review.  We trust you enjoy ours as well.
Highlights from 2017

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Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. – Neil Gaiman

voiceThe story of the nativity would be incomplete without the shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks by night”.  They were the first to hear the announcement, beyond the immediate family, that something extraordinary had occurred.   A very special baby boy had been born.

I have heard this story for as long as I can remember.  As a child we read the Christmas story in our home every Christmas Eve, heard it at church and even reenacted it as a drama to the best of our ability.  But who were these men?  Why shepherds?

Without A Voice
Shepherds have an ebb and flow of status in the Bible.  In the early days of the Patriarchs they held an important place.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel) were all nomadic and owned large herds and flocks.  Along with provision and lively hood, these were a sign of wealth of the day.  However, their neighbors, the Egyptians, did not hold shepherds in high regard at all, and when Israel devolved into slave status in Egypt, it seems this attitude toward shepherding remained with them even after their exodus.
The Shepherd Psalmist King’s Voice
Still there were shepherds.  In the time of David, he was found tending sheep when anointed to the King.  The fact that he was the youngest and his station in the family not highly regarded, indicates the low status of those who tended these woolly necessary creatures.  As David rose to Kingship, so did the status of the shepherd for a time.
However, at the time of the birth of Jesus,  shepherds were regarded about the same as the tax collector (think IRS).  They were not allowed to even speak in a court of law.  They had no voice.  The particular shepherds on that special night, were tending the flocks for the temple.  These were the sheep used in the daily required temple sacrifice.  One would think they would have some kind of status, but apparently not.
A Voice Is Who We Are

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red slate

The First Annual Shameless Self-Promotion Of Maison Steinbuchel Products

“I’ve said it before, and by gosh, I’ll say it again — don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”― Emlyn Chand
Warning Shameless Promotion Below!
ShamelessYou know by now from my BLOG posts, that I have an on-line ETSY shop.  This is primarily where I market items I re-purpose from vintage materials.  This the Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose side of this website.  The other is the Giving Lost Stories A Voice BLOG content.  
Most of these materials come from the restoration and re-habing of historic homes.  We are careful to reuse all we can in the homes themselves.  However, inevitably materials and found objects remain after.  I find even the most obscure object can be remade – usually.
At the moment, there are thirty-five or so unique, one-of-a-kind

Shamelessitems I know you need!

 

  • It’s gift time!
  • It’s decorating time!
and my master packager-shipper is standing by to whisk these off to you in record time.
Shameless Reasons To Purchase Here
ShamelessDoes it help to know that the proceeds of these products go into the restoration maintenance fund for Maison Steinbuchel?  The idea is, if the material itself cannot be reused in the project then the proceeds from a sale can.
It helps to know that when you order multiple items, they are packaged and shipped as one to save on shipping?  We refund any and all overage on the calculated shipping done via the ETSY process and charge nothing for handling.
The fact that there is NO SALES TAX ?  In many cases that off-sets shipping.
Did I mention unique?  Handmade? One-of-a-kind?Shameless
Usually a story accompanies the product including information on where materials came from and how the re-purpose was done.  These are reflected in the description of each item but if you have questions I am glad to answer.
Examples of the products are pictured, but there are many more items in my shop.
and happy shopping from the comfort of your home.
Is there an item you particularly like? Please let me know by posting in the comments below OR in my ETSY shop simply make it a “favorite”.  

Thanksgiving Thoughts From Maison Steinbuchel

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often. – Johnny Carson

The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year.  This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel.  During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days.  From the inside, it was serious business.  I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand.  It was fun and awesome at the same time.

Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones.  I was aware of what was at stake:

  • hugs and tears of welcome
  • reminiscence with family and friends
  • reminders of those no longer with us
  • grandparents seeing grandchildren, perhaps for the first time
  •  And even some reluctant endurance of bad memories

Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.

Sending Thanksgiving Peace

Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress.  Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way.  As I said, it was and honor.

The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed.   The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.

So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be.  For those serving our country in the military,  public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.  thanksgiving

If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below.  I want to thank you personally.   If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?

Happy And Blessed Thanksgiving – Practicing Gratitude

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  ― Epicurus

gratitudeI am writing this several weeks before it will post.  It has been a gloomy few days and even though I hate to admit it, my grumpy level goes up when the sun hides.  This tends to press my gratitude level down.  I would not do well in Alaska in winter.

So I decided to go ahead and do a Thanksgiving post.  Thanksgiving was our extended maternal family’s reunion gathering as a child.  We usually went to the farm where all the traditional comfort food converged from a eight county area onto one table.  If there were strained relationships they were set aside for the day as far as I could tell.

This breaking of bread among family served us well.  I only remember the laughter, the stories (that got bigger each year) and the fellowship.  It was expressed gratitude that we had family.  I know it was far from perfect, but even in that, I learned gratitude in the face of the imperfect.  I learned that one does not depend on the other.

Choosing Gratitude

So today I am revving up my gratitude meter.  This year, we are gathering the extended family at my aunt and uncle’s home.  Not on the farm this time, but the family will be there.  Things are far from perfect.  In fact, there are some real challenges many of us are facing, but we still have much much to be thankful for.

Here is a start.  I apologize up front if my list seems superficial to some who may read this in much worse situations, but here I go.  I am grateful for:

  • hot and cold running water
  • several modes of reliable transportation
  • heat, gas and electricity
  • a warm, clean bed
  • a washer and dryer and clean clothes
  • for a loving husband of almost 40 years
  • for a loving church family and friends in several languages around the globe
  • hopes, dreams and plans that my Lord superintends on my behalf
  • ……????

Now, it’s your turn.  In the comments put one (or more) thing you are grateful for.   Let’s see how far this can go.

And oh yes, if you are traveling, safe journeys!

 

 

Signs For The Times – Love and Joy

Words are but the signs of ideas. – Samuel Johnson
signsThese days we seem to enjoy having signs with quotes, sayings or words hanging on our walls to remind us of what we desire.  What inspires us.  What we want to focus on.  Keeping these before our eyes can serve to counteract the other forces that seek to distract us from what we truly desire.
Those forces are many:
  • the media –  broadcast, internet and radio – even satellite
  • social media, CDs, MP3s and 4s, podcasts, vimeo and Giffys
  • family, friends and colleagues
  • even the voice (I hope only one) inside our head
Some we allow, even choose.  Others are imposed upon us to one degree or another.  Filter out the things we need and want from the other stuff is a full time job!
The Purpose Of A Sign
Signs are for pointing us to a destination or to serve as an:
whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.   So signs are important to keep us on track.
Signs And Simplicity
I have to admit, I am not one to hang signs on the walls of my home.  The main reason is they just don’t fit the decor of our historic Richardsonian Victorian home. The other is, I use my electronic devices to keep inspirational words, pictures, quotes and even scripture at hand wherever I am.  Simple and convenient.
Signs For Fun And Smiles
In preparation for the coming holidays, I got inspired with some vintage pallet wood, wood signsfragments, milk paint and fabric.  I found myself making some signs.  It was fun, but I do not have a place to put them.  So here they are.
Oh yes, they are for sale.  Just click on the photos for details on how to Buy Now.

Let me know what you think in the comments below

How Martin Luther Affected All Of Our Destinies – A Tribute

We do not become righteous by doing righteous deed but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.  Martin Luther

I am not a Lutheran.  Although I appreciate much of their theology, I attended a Methodist Church growing up.   A movement that grew out of the Anglican church and although much removed from its roots – the tree does flow back into the Roman Catholic faith.  However, there is no disputing the effect the reformation had on both the faith of my childhood as well as the path my German ancestors took.

Reformation Trickle-Down
In the mid 1860’s my great great grandfather and his brother, left Germany for the United States.  The conditions that created the need to leave home were a combination of religious and economic upheaval.   This led to a major shift in the social structure of the time.  There were some natural climatic cycles that also affected the food supply of the region.  A long standing backdrop to all of this was the protestant reformation which began about 350 years prior.  At the time my ancestors made their move, the effects of Martin Luther’s actions had all but crumbled the feudal system.
I have no doubt that once in the United States my ancestor clung closely to the German speaking community of immigrants as he made his way west to Kansas.  Once settled in Kansas, he became a part of the Methodist church as Lutherans were not a major part of the landscape in northern Kansas.  However, this could have been the influence of my great great grandmother as to what church they affiliated with.  I get the sense that he was a man of faith,  however tending to the land and ensuring his family was fed took priority over religious activities.  Still if it had not been for the Reformation, I am not sure what the time line would have looked like for my family.
Luther And A French Education

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What Wreaths and Frames Add To Your Life

Bridges become frames for looking at the world around us. – Bruce Jackson
 Special seasons and events, like the approaching holidays, bring out equally special decor.  Floral arrangements, seasonal colors and items that represent memories of past celebrations are displayed. They are combined with updated items that are more than simple visual beauty.  They serve to pull special times from the past into this new celebration.
Two familiar forms support various vignettes:  the wreath and the frame.  Over the past few years they have become somewhat interchangeable in application.  But before demonstrating what I am referring to, lets explore the roots of these two forms.
Frames , Wreaths and Smiling Etrucstians
The word wreath comes from Middle English wrethe and from Old English writha, band.  Wreaths have a long and distinguished history, going back to the ancient  Etruscan 
civilization in Southern Europe.  I learned about this people when visiting the Vatican Museum in 1985.  One comment about this civilization that was borne out in the  artifacts is that:   “these must have been a happy peoples, as most representations show them smiling.” My husband and I got a giggle out of that as we looked over the various paintings and statues of these “smiling Etruscans”.
Wreaths came to be used as crowns representing various levels of honor, rank or even rule.  When placed on the final resting place of a loved one, it represents devotion for a life that has passed from this earth.  Today we use wreaths as decoration but in many cases represent an eternal presence in our celebrations.
Frames Function

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Opportunity And Surprise Phone Calls – Being ready, In Season and Out

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Opportunity“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”  ― Idowu Koyenikan
 I was poking through the bread department at Walmart picking up some things for my spouse.  I was leaving for a few days and, although hubby is quite capable of feeding himself, he has a lot going on, so I wanted to do what I could before I left.
My cell phone rang and a number I did not recognize came up.  I get a lot of “junk” calls from places I don’t recognize nor know anyone from, and Spearfish, South Dakota definitely fell into that category.  I normally ignore, even block these calls, but for some reason I answered this one and, thankfully, did not sound too annoyed.
Custom Made Opportunity
The call was from an organization asking me if I was available to take a trip to help with a special project.  The details of what, and where are not important, but as I stood there in the middle of the bread section of Walmart, I found myself saying “why not?”.  And so I am off to exotic places and an opportunity to do work I was made for.  It is not a vacation.  It is better than that, it is an adventure with meaning.
Prepare To Be Surprised

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Leftovers In Madagascar

BUY NOW

“Don’t make excuses for not working – make things with the time, space and materials you have, right now” – Austin Kleon – Steal like an artist
 madagascar
madagascar In August 1993 I was assigned to a team of four to conduct a civil aviation assessment of the country of Madagascar’s aviation system.  The United States FAA had been invited, via the US Ambassador, by the Malagasy authorities to conduct this review.
These assessments are done on a reimbursable basis when it is
determined we can offer expertise not available through another channel.  It was a two week trip including travel to and from the assignment, so the majority of our time in country was spent taking care
of business.
We did, however, have a few hours to take in sights here and there (yes, I got to see lemurs in the wild).  One side trip was a trip over lunch break to the large local outdoor market along L’ Avenue de l’Independance.  It was massive.  We found some treasures to

bring back as gifts and remembrances.  As we walked back from the market, there were stray vendors along the street with their wares spread out on the ground.

Thrift Madagascar Style

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