Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Attack

It's that time of year again, no not Christmas, not New Years, no it's time to do something about all the books we have.  I need to be able to use our closets for something besides book storage.  We both have tablets with Kindles on them, we have Google to look information up and do research with, I buy books ALL the time, so it's time to weed out some of our outdated books.
It's not easy to do, we'll keep the books we plan on reading again or we have a strong sentimental attachment to.  Mac is keeping all of his P.G. Wodehouse, Fred Archer and Beverly Nichols books.  I'm keeping all my Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Charles DeLint and Elizabeth Goudge books.  But it's out the door and off to Goodwill for many of the rest.  Hopefully they'll find new homes to be read again.
 It was hard to let some of them go, we've been hauling them around for more that 40 years, but some of them haven't been opened in nearly that long.  When you're looking information up, which we frequently do, you need up to date information and sadly that rules out the information in many of our books.
We have huge a car load that's going tomorrow to Goodwill and stacks more that will head out in the New Year.
 It hasn't been easy, it hasn't been fun, but it was necessary.  That leaves us with a 4 shelf bookcase (full) in the tv room,  a 4 shelf bookcase (full) in the closet of our daughter's room and 2 three shelf bookcases (full) in my make a mess room, and 2 four shelf bookcases (in a state of disarray, their time is coming) in the computer room closet.  Plus numerous stray books scattered around the house.
I plan on using the shelves in my make a mess room closet to store fabric, yarn, scrapbooking supplies, and other craft material.  I'm tired of being unable to walk across the room in there because it's such a mess, I'm too old and clumsy to live with that way any more.
I guess the New Year brings on this clear-out mania.  We dragged the Christmas tree out today, even though a cousin-in-law says I'm supposed to leave it till Epiphany when the 3 Wise Men come, but I told her that unless the Wise Men planned on carrying the tree off for me that the tree was out of here today.
Forget the gold, frankincense and myrhh get the tree
Right now I'm tired and I need a cup of something.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Lucky I Am

When asked if I got everything I wanted for Christmas I always say yes because having our daughter come is always the only thing I really want.  And when asked what I want besides that I'm usually hard pressed to think of anything much, though I LOVE when I get something homemade.

My 2 favorite Christmas gifts fall into that category this year.  Mac painted me a picture based on on a vintage Christmas card and the lady in the pictures red coat looks so lush you want to reach out and touch it.  Meanwhile my daughter got me a Fairy House (have I mentioned my fairy addiction before?) and she showed it to her Dad when we visited her  at Thanksgiving,  and he came back and put together the other parts and fairies for it.   Then  when she got here at Christmas they put it all together.  I think it's beyond magical, and as I said, I'm a very lucky lady.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry After

We had a wonderful Christmas, how could it be otherwise, our daughter came for almost 5 days, she left yesterday.  We're really not turkey people so the consensus was that we'd have lamb, and speaking modestly, I think it's the best lamb we've ever had.  Tons of presents were opened, all that wrapping was worthwhile, and there were many surprises along with the more practical gifts.
Our daughter left yesterday afternoon and though I'm use to there just being the 2 of us here, plus the cat, the house seems very quiet,  and that's strange because our daughter is a very quiet person so I don't know how having her gone should make this place quieter.  I guess I'm just missing her.  She's an only child and having her live nearly 600 miles away is hard.  We see her oftener  now that we're in Georgia instead of California, but not often enough.


It's time to take down the tree, put up the decorations and make plane reservations for our next trip to see her.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Almost Christmas

One more day to go!  Always feel like a kid when it gets this close to Christmas.  Our daughter got here yesterday and we've probably had  a million cups of tea, usually only have it when she's here, eaten way too much food already,  and just enjoyed  all the catching up.
Santa worked in his workshop/garage all day and wrapped presents after lunch.  He says he's almost ready. UPS came this afternoon with things I'd forgotten that I'd ordered so I still have a couple of things to wrap.
Unseasonably warm again today, yesterday we broke a record it was 82, not quite that warm today, but too warm for this time of year, I'd like it a bit cooler.
I've been looking at aprons online and the prices are ridiculous!  Most sites that have stuff I like want 20-30 dollars.  Way too much money for something I'm going to make a mess of.  So I've been looking at patterns and after the dust of Christmas settles I'll be sewing myself one.  Tomorrow more cookies will be made and more of a mess, unless I can convince my daughter to make them.  I roped her into making a gingerbread house one year and she still hasn't forgiven me for that so we'll see how the cookies go.
This will probably be my last post till after Christmas so Merry Christmas to all my family, friends and fellow bloggers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Heading Towards Christmas

Boxes keep being delivered, cards arriving, baking almost done (still no apron, what a mess), gifts being wrapped, Santa's still out in his workshop/garage working on something, Miss Kitty who normally ignores the Christmas tree has discovered the joy of strings and bows and I'm counting hours.  Though it's only the 21st it feels like Christmas Eve because our daughter gets here tomorrow and having her here for Christmas is what makes it Christmas for us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Apron!

An apron, an apron, my kingdom for an apron!  I know I use to have an apron, I actually broke down and bought one once upon a time.  After hearing me moan numerous times  about my lack of an apron my daughter gave me one as a gift, but those aprons are long gone!
 I was baking cookies today, lovely, floury sugar cookies, and what did I choose to wear while playing with white, white, white flour, why a black shirt of course.  What other color could coordinate so well.
By the time the first batch of cookies were done I looked like I'd been in a flour fight with the 3 Stooges.
I've cleaned the kitchen, dusted myself off as well as I can, but there's another load of cookies to play with tomorrow and I still have no apron, any suggestions as to what I could wear instead?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wrap It Up Baby!

I entered the "wrapping room" around 11:30 this morning and just made it out again a bit after 2.  Even with judicious use of gift bags and as little wrapping paper as I could get away with I'm not quite done.  I don't spend a huge amount at Christmas, I buy used, I make things and I buy lots of fiddly little things that are fun to open.  But the wrapping it a job and a half, even with the cat helping me by holding down and rolling in the tissue paper.  A lot of work but such fun to watch when they're opened and people are surprised, and hopefully pleased.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Movies

Was talking to my younger sister yesterday and she said that she'd been watching a bunch of Christmas movies and she asked if I had too.  I had to admit that I'm not a big fan of Christmas movies, I find them over sentimental  and sometimes just silly, though I do like White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.  Actually caught the last few minutes of it on AMC the other night and found myself singing along to the ending.
Funnily enough my 2 favorite Christmas movies aren't movies  at all, they're animated features.  My all time favorite is The Snowman narrated by David Bowie.  I love that it has almost no dialogue and the music is absolutely haunting.  I bought a copy of this video a few years ago and it has become a tradition for us to watch it each year.

The other one I like is one of 4 short films found on a Christmas story video, it's called Morris's Disappearing Bag.  A short, sweet film about a little rabbit's Christmas.
Both films are sentimental without being cloying and I look forward to seeing them again this year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Love having a real Christmas tree, not much of a pine tree smell,  but oh so nice.  It's a Frazier fir and keeps its needles forever!  But there are pitfalls to real trees and we hit one of them this year.  No, it's not the cat climbing it, though we had a cat who use to do that, it's not a cat knocking everything off the tree or eating the tinsel, had one who did that too.  No, the problem is that fresh trees need water and this year our holder was leaking and when Mac found the water it was a mess.  We had the tree on a deep plastic lid and under that an oil cloth table cloth but the water still  got under it all
So we had to get the cloth and lid out, dump the remaining water, lay the tree down while we did this, dry up all the water so the wooden floor underneath wouldn't warp, get the holder back on the tree, stand it up, collect everything that fell off, sort out the lights, rehang ornaments and try to be cheerful about it.
The last part was the hardest, but after baking more ginger people and getting things back on the tree the cheerful came back.
I love a real tree, but we've got to find a better way to stand it next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Having a Beary Merry Christmas

One time while watching a movie where one of the characters had a teddy bear (was it Anthony Andrews in Brideshead Revisited? ) I commented that I'd never had a teddy bear.  Mac was amazed, he said everyone should have a teddy, and that's how it began.  These are a few of my teddies, and of course I have a bear Nativity.  How could I help but have a Beary, Merry Christmas.



Monday, December 12, 2011

Favorite Carols

While exercising today I was listening to Christmas music played on the harp.  Strange music to exercise to but I get tired of listening to the lady on my exercise cd so I turn her down and play my own music.  But listening to the harp cd made me think of my favorite Christmas music, and while I like all the standards, you know "Oh Little Town of Bethleham", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", "Away in a Manger", "I'm Dreaming of a While Christmas",  my absolute favorite Christmas Carol is " O Holy Night" a French carol written in 1865 by Adolph Adam, and my favorite version is sung by Bing Crosby, an oldie but a goodie.  I also like his version of the Little Drummer Boy done with David Bowie and his version of "Do You Hear What I Hear".
Another favorite is "What Child is This?" done to the tune of Greensleeves with the words being written by William Chatteron Dix in 1865,

But for a really modern version of a carol I LOVE "The Carol  of the Bells" by the Trans Siberian Orchestra is fantastic.   I looked for a You Tube version to put on here but they're all bootlegs with poor sound and picture quality, so I'll just put the album on here, think I'll be exercising to it tomorrow.

What are your favorites?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Cactus, Sometimes

My HalloThanksChristKing Cactus
I've written before about my Christmas cactus and thought I mention it again.  I bought it 6 or 7 years ago at Christmas time and it was in full fuschia-colored bloom, it looked glorious.  But unfortunately it's not a reliable Christmas cactus.  Some years it blooms as early as Halloween and some years as late as Martin Luther King Day in January.  This year it has decided to bloom between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is beautiful, hope the blooms hold on till Christmas.  The one in the laundry room, a white one, is also a little calendar challenged!
Its Partner in Crime

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Smells of Christmas


I'm so impressed with me, I multi-tasked today, I did my Christmas cards while I baked gingerbread people and only one of the envelopes got any gingerbread on it, pretty good.  Now they may not be the prettiest folks I've ever made, but the they are tasty and they just smell so Christmasy.
But look at my poor little Bear jar, his tummy is so empty, I see some cookie baking in my future.





Poor Empty Bear

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decorating

Note the train without all its track
If you enter this house you are in danger of being covered in ivy and having a bow stuck on you.  I need to stop decorating, and if I could find the rest of the track to my miniature train I would.  The tree is done and nearly everything else is too, including me.
I love Christmas, I love being with my family and cooking for them, surprising them with presents--things they wanted and some they didn't know they wanted.  I don't get stressed out by Christmas, it's a time when I actually slow down, think more about others and how much they mean to me.  I really enjoy making gifts for them, though I'm not sure how my fingers feel about it all.
Next I need to do cards, wrap packages for mailing and make some gingerbread people--I love the smell of ginger, even more than the scent of pine, ginger smells like Christmas to me.

Entryway

Dining Room, almost done
I'm off to look in one more box to see if I can find my track, nobody wants to be off their track!

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas




Well actually on Dec.2 it begins, the tubs come out, Thanksgiving disappears and I try and figure out where everything goes.  Miss Kitty brings her friend Tail to inspect the first tub down.  I've been working like a demon  an angel on Christmas presents and Mac has finished 2 paintings for the Etsy shop.  Tomorrow we get the tree!



















Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Washington D.C.

We have traveled all over the world visiting most of Europe's capitols, but we had never visited our own capitol until our daughter moved there, and now I can't understand why we didn't go sooner.  It's a beautiful city and though we've now been many times I don't think we'll ever see it all.
This trip we visited some of the Smithsonian museums, an absolutely incredible collection of 19 museums that were originally funded by an English scientist named James Smithson (1764-1829).
We went to the Freer Gallery a creation of Charles Freer who was a 19th century collector of American artists and amassed the nation's largest collection of James Whistler's work, and it is this rotating collection I always want to see.  On exhibit this time were a number of small engravings, water colors, drawings and one magnificent oil painting, Sweet, Silent Thoughts.  His work is so luminous that it makes me despair of ever painting anything worthwhile.
Then for something completely different we went to the Air and Space Museum to enjoy the history of American flight from the Wright Brothers to the Apollo modules to the Mars rover.  We expected the museum to be packed but it wasn't and we had a great time, could have spent the whole day there, but lunch called.

Charles Lindbers's Spirit of St. Louis




Apollo 11
One of Amelia Earhart's Planes















The Wright Brothers' Plane
Next time it's to the American History Museum, they've got Julia Child's Kitchen and I must see it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Travels

We're back from D.C. where we went to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter and we had a wonderful trip, it had all the best elements, a visit with our daughter, good food and great sightseeing.
We had a good Thanksgiving dinner with her in Annapolis at Buddy's Ribs and Crab, and just like last year it was wonderful, not too salty as buffets can be, loads of seafood, many meat choices, 4 different seafood soups  and tons of veggies and desserts.  We stopped just before we had eaten too much.  The best part of going out for Thanksgiving, besides not having to cook, is not having a ton of leftovers that you feel obligated to eat.  Buddy's was packed, and for good reason, good food at a reasonable price and open on a holiday.
But even better than that the next day April took us to a Cuban restaurant she'd discovered  in D.C. called Cuba Libre.  It was actually a  rum bar and a fantastic restaurant.  Looking over the menu, deciphering the Spanish, deciding how hungry we were,  we started ordering.  And we ordered enough tapas to fill two tables, chicarrones, albondigas, gauva bbq ribs, papas rellenas, and pulpo. Mac and April raved about the pulpo, that was fried baby octopus, and I preferred the papas rellenas, stuffed potato skins, and the albondigas, those were meatballs.   For dessert we had pudin diplomatico, warm banana and chocolate  bread pudding with a rum and pineapple sauce,   tocino del cielo, flan with a candied orange salad  and dulce de leche, the best ice cream I've ever eaten.  We forgot to take pictures of anything but the meatballs (albondigas) and the desserts.
The setting was beautiful and the food was even better.  And as a final touch, your bill is brought to you in a cigar box, oh funny is that! We all love Cuban food which is a cross between Spanish, not Mexican, and Caribbean food.  Can't wait to eat there again.
Our last morning there we hit the Honey Bee Diner an old-fashioned 50's diner that serves breakfasts big enough to feed an army, and needless to say the place was packed.





We always laugh about the fact that when we get together we always eat, but isn't half the  fun?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow and I just want to mention a few of the things I thankful for.
First my husband and daughter, the two people who make my life worthwhile. Each day is a gift and I am thankful.
I'm thankful for my extended family and friends who are spread all over the place but are always close to me in my thoughts and heart.
I'm thankful we're all in good health here and wish it were so for all our friends too.
I'm thankful that though I'm blind as a bat I can still see.
I'm thankful for Miss Kitty our furry friend who keeps us on our toes.
I'm thankful we only have presidential elections every 4 years, it just seems like we have them all the time.
My knees are thankful we're having a dry Autumn.
I'm thankful I don't have to cook tomorrow.
And I'm thankful for Blogger, it's just so much fun reading blogs!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Life As a Turkey

Last weekend we watched an interesting/strange program on PBS about Joe Hutto, a naturalist, who spent 18 months raising a family of wild turkeys in Florida.  He'd found a bowl of 16 turkey eggs on his front porch and decided to incubate them, imprint them on himself and raise them.  The show reenacted the 18 months he spent living with them, living closely, very closely, spending hours a day in their coop after he'd lost one to a snake, with them.  I can't imagine being that close to turkeys, we lived near, a mile or two away, from a turkey farm in Colorado and on windy days boy did they stink!
The program was intriguing, I loved his relationship with Sweetpea and Turkey Boy, I liked that he learned to mimic their vocalizations, but I didn't need to see him eating a grasshopper or really believe all the personality attributes he gave  to the turkeys, a bit of wishful thinking at times I think.  I don't think I realized that turkeys flew, I mean I know chickens fly short distances, but it was wild to see the turkeys fly up into the trees to roost.  We saw a flock of wild turkeys the last time we were out on Cumberland Island, they we certainly a long-legged bunch, darn near as tall as  me, but then I'm not very tall.
Wild turkeys are rather different from our domestic ones, they look taller and definitely have smaller breasts.  Our domestic ones have been bred to have huge breasts so there'll be lots of white meat at dinner.
After 18 months of being their mother the turkeys all left him, except for Turkey Boy, who eventually turned on him and attacked him.
He's now living in Wyoming with a herd of deer, rather a strange man.
Here's Mac's painting of a turkey he did a few years ago.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reading, Reading, Reading

Back on August 18 I began keeping a Reading Journal for a couple of reasons.  I wanted to keep track of what kind of books I was reading, what I liked or didn't like about them, and how many books I was actually reading.  Now I've always been a "heavy" reader.  I keep books in the family room, in the bedroom and in the bathroom.  I knew I read a lot, but even I was surprised to find that since August 18 I have read 35 books.
A lot of crime books: In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place --all by Tana French
The Complete Works of Agatha Christie Volume 1, the Early ¥ears
Found Wanting   Robert Goddard
The Crossing Place and The Janus Stone   by  Elly Griffths
A Duty to the Dead,  An Impartial Witness and Test of Wills   Charles Todd (a mother/son writing team)
The Closers,  The Narrows   by  Michael Connelly, I have 3 more of his waiting to be read.
I also read some classics:  Pride and Prejudice (for about the 100th time), David Copperfield and The Age of Innocence
I read a bunch of Rumer Goddens that I had read years ago or read for the first time:  Black Narcisscus,  Peacock Summer, China Court and I'm currently reading Greengage Summer by her.
There were several books I just couldn't finish.  I've tried for months, literally, to get through Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon.  It was highly recommended, I like science fantasy on a large scale, but I slowed plowed through nearly 400 pages of it, still had to keep looking characters up in the index at the front of the book to keep people, and things, straight, and finally realized I just didn't care enough to finish it.
I also couldn't finish How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu, too, too pretentious.
I also didn't like Book Lust by Nancy Pearl.  She's a well regarded librarian who has written a number of books on book recommendations, but I found her recommendations too politically correct to be worth while.  What do I mean?  Well, you have to read this African/American author, this woman, that immigrant, that homosexual, that single mother etc.  I don't pick my books that way.  I would recommend 1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Sphron PH.D. instead, I reading it now and finding lots of good recommendations.

But the books I've enjoyed the most were a family trilogy by Marcia Willet:  Looking Forward,  Holding On and Winning Through.
It's the story of 3 orphaned children, Fliss, Mole and Susannah whose parents and older brother had been killed in Kenya by the Mau-Maus, and they go to live with their Grandmother Freddy (Frederica) at the Keep in Devon.  I'm an absolute sucker for family sagas and this was a good one.  It reminded me very much of the Elliot Family Trilogy by Elizabeth Goudge (Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim's Inn and Heart of the Family), and in fact one of the characters in this book references those books.
The books follow the children from their arrival when they are 8, 5 and 2 till Fliss, the oldest, is in her 50's.  I was sad to see the last book end, but then I discovered that after a couple of years the author wrote one more about the family, The Prodigal Wife.  I've ordered it but I've held off reading it because I can't stand for the story to end.

So what have you been reading?


















Friday, November 18, 2011

Ready For Poirot

I've cleaned the upstairs tv room, it needed it badly.  Sometimes I'm not very good about getting in there and sorting things out.  But tonight we're having a Hercules Poirot evening and I knew that it would not do, he would not approve of the room's condition.  So I vacuumed, dusted, sorted, folded and put the room, or at least the front of the room where we watch tv, in order.  As to the back of the room, Mac's pub, well, I don't know what Poirot would say, but I fear he would not be happy, and instead of solving the crime he'd be organizing things.






Before








After

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fall doesn't come early in the South, and unfortunately it doesn't linger, but as I've grown older  it has become my favorite time of year.  Last Friday night we had a frost and the leaves have finally started changing color and have begun to fall.
Millions of acorns are falling too.  As we make our morning walk you can hear them hitting cars, roofs, driveways and us.  They hit hard and I often wonder if they dent the cars they're hitting.
One of my favorite fall smells is  of wood smoke and burning leaves.
Plants are being moved into the greenhouse, others relocated to free up bed space for more plants,  and bulbs are being dug in.
Mac's turtles are in semi-hibernation in their aquariums now, coming out on warm days for a small bite of food and then reburying themselves.
We've had two days of too warm weather, up in the 80's, but now we're back to the 70's, I could walk forever in weather like this.
Hope you're enjoying fall wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spelling

I have always been the world's worst speller.  Oh I got good grades in it at school, I'd memorize the spelling of words long enough to pass the weekly spelling test and then, unless they were words I used all the time, I'd forget how to spell them.  I always said that it was a small mind that could only imagine one spelling for a word.  Thank goodness for   words like grey/gray, centre/center, theater/theatre.
 I've forgotten nearly all the spelling rules I ever knew, like when to double an ending consonant (hint, if there is a vowel next to it you double the  consonant before adding an ending, sometimes), the adage "i before e except after c" and dropping an ending "y" when adding some endings.
Becoming a teacher and having to teach spelling rules helped my spelling some, but it wasn't until Facebook and Blogger that my spelling got better, they point out your misspelled words and make you find the correct spelling.  Twitter is no help at all, it not only doesn't care if you misspell a word, it actively encourages you to do so.
In the course of writing this Blog today I misspelled 3 words, including misspelled, but thanks to Blogger I fixed them, maybe next time I'll remember.  Now if I could get some grammar help.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fussy Feet

The Cheap Shoes



Look At How They're Wearing
For years I've bought cheap inexpensive shoes to walk in, my feet liked them, my bank account liked them, we were all happy.
 We walk as least 2 miles a day so it's important to have shoes my feet are happy with. They have velcro closures which I love, both because I'm lazy and the fact that for years shoe companies were putting in shoe laces so long that even when I double knotted them I was still tripping over them.
The New Shoes
 Unfortunately the last couple of times I bought my walking shoes they lasted barely more than a month, I was wearing the heels out and the tread was disappearing at an alarming rate.  When you wear them out that quickly they're no bargain. Mac was having the same problem with his shoes so we decided we'd have to stop buying the cheap inexpensive shoes and find a better brand.  Looking online I found some we were both happy with, at double the price of the old ones.  They look good, feel fine when I put them on, but when we go out for our walk both of us have our feet barking at us.  It's getting better and in time  my feet will probably  like them as well as the cheap inexpensive shoes.
 Meanwhile, when I'm through with my walk, running in and out of the house, and up and down the stairs I grab my feet's favorites, the leopards.  You can almost hear the sigh of relief.













The Leopards

All Wrapped Up

Started early, finished late.  I started wrapping presents way back in November and except for a few small things due in the mail I'm fi...