Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012

No resolutions this year, I always forget them and when I remember them I feel bad, definitely don't need that.
So this year a few goals.  Finish all craft projects before starting on new ones.  So I need to finish one crocheted afghan, 2 embroidered dish towels, and 3 tiny oil paintings.  I have other stuff planned so I need to get these done first.
Inspired by the Frugal Queen  I'm going to make repairs on things needing repair, jeans to be patched, Christmas sweatshirt needing to be sewed, and several things taken in for Mac.  In the house we need get our shower reglassed (is there such a word?), a drain in our deck so water stops pooling and get new carpeting on the stairs and upstairs bedrooms, they've passed the point where they can be cleaned anymore.
And because I'd like to stay reasonably healthy I need to exercise on a more consistent basis, not so hit and miss.  I walk every day, but I need to do more so some moderate aerobics are in line.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gifts

My family spoils me and this Christmas was no exception, I received so many wonderful gifts, some making me smile, some touching my heart  and some making me laugh.
Two that made me laugh and that I will always treasure are two Nutcrackers Mac made me.  I collect Nutcrackers and always hope I'll get one for Christmas, but this year I got 2 very special ones.  Mac bought 2 regular Nutcrackers and then gave them a makeover.  One became Jeeves and one became Hercule Poirot.
They're wonderful.
I've put Jeeves to work in the dining room and Hercule will move upstairs to the tv room so he can watch his "little grey cells" at work.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Saddest Time of Year

Not that Christmas is over, it was quite wonderful, nor do I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder,  but rather that we had to take our daughter to the airport for her flight home this afternoon.  Doesn't matter how many times we've done it through the years it never gets any easier and I always end up crying.  We had a great visit, talk, watch movies, eat, open presents, talk.  Though it seemed like a good long visit it still ended too quickly, wish she were retired too (Ha, ha).  I know her cat will be glad to see her home.
We'll be going up to see her for Easter so I'll just have to start counting days again.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

We're all ready for Christmas, except for Mac who is down in his workshop making something, and must wrap presents this afternoon.
We've already eaten WAY too much and tomorrow it's prime rib with all the Christmas trimmings.
To all my friends in Blogland thank you for stopping by this year, here's hoping, no matter how you celebrate this time of year, that you find joy in all you do.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter

Officially winter was supposed to arrive at 6:11 am this morning, and by golly it did.  For the last 2 weeks we've had temperatures in the 70's even hitting 80 one day.  But last night brought the tail end of the winter storm that hit the midwest yesterday and our temperatures plummeted.  Not a whole lot of rain, and of course no snow, but windy, windy, windy.  We're actually supposed to drop to the 20's tonight and for coastal Georgia that's cold.
Our daughter flies in tonight to spend Christmas with us and that means that for us the Christmas season is officially here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Who's Been Naughty?

Normally Miss Kitty is pretty cool about Christmas.  She doesn't climb the Christmas tree, doesn't play with the ornaments, doesn't tear the bows off the packages, just gives everything a good look and going over.  Some years she finds one of her packages and decides that's where she'll lay and rest.  But that's about all.  Not this year.  Before I wrap packages they're stored on the floor of my closet and she always goes through them (I mean this is her house and everything that comes in must be inspected) just to see what's going on and because she loves boxes.
This year she found one of her gifts still in an Amazon box, opened just enough so that I could see what it was.  When she found it she wouldn't leave it alone, tried to tear it out of the box.  So I put it on the top shelf until I moved it upstairs for wrapping, yes I'm one of those sad people who wraps presents for their pet.   I thought that was the end of it and after I put it in a gift bag I put it under the tree with the other presents.
But that wasn't the end of it, she found the bag  and tore a hole in it, so back upstairs it went to a closed bedroom.  Mac wanted to get a picture of the damage and decided to take Miss Kitty with him to see what she would do--well the pictures tell the story.



Mac wanted to know if the gift had catnip in it and it does, but normally Miss Kitty doesn't give two hoots for catnip, so we're not sure what's going on.  The present will stay upstairs till Christmas morning.  We 're curious to see if she'll be as fascinated with the unwrapped toy as she has been with the wrapped one.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's that time of the year, house cleaning so our daughter won't think we need a caretaker when she gets here, grocery shopping---got everything but the prime rib, hopefully I'll pick that up Saturday---, and today cookie baking.  I made more chocolate chip/M&M cookies than I meant too--I can see Goody Bags in our daughter's future--,  and there is sugar cookie dough chilling in the refrigerator waiting to be baked tomorrow.
I know my little train is not the Polar Express, but it can usually do a couple of circuits of the track before derailing.  Note the bag of coal, hope everyone's been nice and not naughty.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Part of the Season

Glad she chose this basket to lay in instead of the one with the gingerbread men.  She doesn't quite fit, but who am I to tell her she's too big?  Mac always wonders what cats did before they had boxes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Still Can't Believe

Every time I start to write a blog what happened Friday in Connecticut fills my mind.  Too horrible to believe.
I hear the cries to ban guns, as if this will stop what happened (consider that in China the same day a woman attacked school children with a knife), until we deal with the why--how a person like this can be- then we will change nothing.
I'm at a loss for words and heart sick.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gingerbread

The scents of Christmas are something that have always made me happy, bringing back childhood memories.  It's why I love a real tree, and after debating whether to have one or not this year, I'm glad to say that after nearly 2 weeks our Douglas Fir is still filling the house with its lovely piney smell.
Another scent I love is the smell of gingerbread, so yesterday the annual gingerbread making began.  I'd planned on frosting them, but in a fit of cleaning a week or so ago I cleaned out my spices and threw out anything I couldn't remember buying, figuring they had to be WAY beyond  their sell by date.  I intended to replace them when next I shopped, but I didn't and now I have no vanilla, so no frosting, nor will I get a head start on my sugar cookies.
I did mix a little powdered sugar, butter and water to at least give some of them a face, though most of them turned out to look like Mr.Bill.
By the way, I looked up to see if vanilla is classified as a spice, it is, and is the second most expensive spice ranking behind saffron.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beat

Despite all the help from Miss Kitty I'm beat.  Why is wrapping presents more tiring than buying them?
I love shopping, online that is, I hate going out in person, it's always so crowded and you see the same old thing in every store.  Online I can shop all over the world, much more fun.
Shopping for Mac is always the hardest, not because he's fussy, he's not really, it's just that what he wants most is books.  Specifically books by P.G. Wodehouse, books about Jeeves and Wooster, ones he hasn't read.  And I'm sorry, outside of resurrecting Wodehouse that's just not going to happen, so I've been looking for substitutes.
But the wrapping's almost done and though I'm glad, Miss Kitty says she could do it all day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's Saturday and the first week of December is gone.  The tree is up and decorated, the house is as decorated as it's going to get, most of the shopping is done and wrapping starts tomorrow.
I don't even want to think about baking yet, haven't even really decided what we're having for Christmas dinner.  The last few years we've gone back and forth between Prime Rib and Leg of Lamb.  This year, for the first time in a long time, I'm feeling like I'd like to have turkey.
What are you cooking?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Header

Though it pains me greatly, I loved those pumpkins, I've changed my header to a more Christmasy one.  Mac painted this several years ago and each year ends up adding to it and changing it a bit.
My Christmas plants are very happy this year, could it be the 70 degree weather we've been having?  The Paper Whites are doing great and even my most stubborn Christmas cactus ( I call it that reluctantly because it blooms any where from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day) is blooming.
I have 2 pinks and a white, maybe Santa will bring me a red one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Before and After

We got our Christmas tree on Monday the 3rd of December, that's late for me, I usually can't go pass the 1st without buying one.  Then with one thing and another I didn't have a chance to start decorating it until today.  I'm not quite done, but I'm getting there.

As you can see we decided to buy a real tree, a Douglas Fir, this year and put off getting an artificial one until we're too feeble to carry a real one in.  The last few years we've bought a Fraser Fir and they absolutely don't drop their needles, but they have no smell.  The Douglas Fir is shedding like a long-haired cat, but it smells divine.
This year's model is shorter than we usually get, but it's shape is almost perfect, and boy is is thick.
I don't put glass ornaments on our tree, just resin ones.  With a cat you just don't know what they'll decide to do.  Miss Kitty has  always been  good, but as a precaution we always tie the tree up, for in years past we had a cat who climbed up the trunk of the tree and swatted ornaments.
So I'll sweep pine needles each day, but enjoy the smell as I do it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Cards

Wrote my Christmas cards today, boy the postage is getting ridiculous!  Many people I know have quite sending cards, it has just gotten too expensive.  But I don't write any letters, pay most of my bills online, so paying postage at Christmas doesn't seem too much of a luxury.
I keep my old cards and extra cards and I have a stack of them sitting next to my elbow.  I need to think of something crafty to do with them.  May cut some of them up and make Christmas tags out of them.
One I won't be cutting up is one from my Dad, I think it's one of the last few he ever sent, need to find a better place to keep it.

My Dad's card

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There and Back Again

Christmas tree at the Smithsonian Castle
No, though very short, I'm not a Hobbit.  We went to see our daughter near Washington D.C. (there) for Thanksgiving and now we're back again.  As always it was good to see her.  I know I drove her crazy cooking in her kitchen--that's a territory that we consider very personal space and we know where everything is in it, and it's hard to have others rooting around in it.
But Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, she did most of the cooking, I just did the lamb and salad.
We don't do Black Friday but rather we went into D.C. to visit the Smithsonian museums.  There's a great exhibit on Food at the American History Museum and the best part of it was Julia Child's kitchen.  I've been fascinated by her ever since we saw the movie Julie and Julia, and then my daughter gave me her biography Dearie for my birthday.  What an interesting life she led.  We loved her kitchen and all her cooking paraphernalia.
At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which we usually give a miss because none of us are modern art fans, we saw a fantastic exhibit of the Chinese Zodiac.  Sculpted by Ai Weiwei (he collaborated on the design for the National Stadium for  the 2008 Beijing Olympics).  There are 12 sculptures, each  10 feet high, they were incredible.
We finished the day at the Elephant and Crown a pseudo English pub.

Great trip, but as always glad to get home, can't wait for her to come for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cold Weather Food

Yesterday when our really, really young weather forecaster said we were going to have a Yucky day (don't you just love those technical meteorological terms?) I knew I had to fix something that would stick to your ribs.  So I thumbed through my Weight Watcher recipes and found individual chicken pot pies.  The only thing I added to the original recipe was potatoes, but I took out the celery, neither of us likes it, and though caloriewise the potatoes are more, a pot pie just needs potatoes.
It tasted even better than it looked.

For those who are looking for a lower calorie recipe for a pot pie:

2 Tbsp white self-rising flour      I used regular flour with baking powder added
1 Tbsp  butter
2/3 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock   I use fat-free low sodium
3/4 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast(s) cubed
2 medium celery stalks chopped   I omitted this and used potatoes instead
2 carrots chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rosemary
can of uncooked, flaky biscuits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees  Coat 4 ten ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray

In a saute pan melt butter over medium hear, add chicken, onion, celery and carrots.  Saute until chicken is no longer pink.  Add flour, stir so flour mixes with butter.

Add chicken stock and wine slowly, stirring constantly so no lumps form.  Add peas, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer until thick, about 15 minutes.

Remove chicken mixture from hear and divide evenly among ramekins.

Put a biscuit on top of each ramekin (I put one on the bottom too).  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until biscuits are brown and mixture is bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.


Good food for a yucky day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Small Treats

             Iris Murdoch, "The secret to a happy life is continuous small treats"

Relyn at comesitbymyfire (if you haven't read her blog, go, go go, it's wonderful)  wrote a blog about small treats.  She listed her small treats and asked what ours were, so here goes:

anything chocolate, bubble baths with candles around, books in stacks waiting to be read, candle light and a fire in the fireplace on a cool Fall evening, the first flowers of spring, my kitty's tummy, making Christmas cookies, shoes that fit like a glove the first time you wear them. silk longjohns in winter, Old Sprice on my husband's neck, the soft ticking of a clock, a Mozart sonata when I finally play it right, my family gathered to celebrate, making lists, cat calendars, hearing a train in the distance, walking in the morning when the air is cold and crisp, cooking something special, the smell of fresh baked bread, watching someone's face when they open a gift, baseball, the smell of the ocean, holding hands with the one you love, smell of freshly ironed pillowcases, hearing my husband play guitar, waking up and knowing the whole day is yours to do as you please, watching butterflies in the garden, hearing birds chirping when I first wake up, talking to my daughter on Sunday, laughing with my sister, going fishing with Mac

What are your small treats?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Autumn

We always have a painting displayed on an easel in the  sitting room alcove of our bedroom.  They change with the seasons, a tea party in summer, a Christmas door, etc.  When we went looking for an Autumn painting all we could find was a vaguely autumnal colored barn scene.  Mac decided to paint us one instead and asked what I'd like in it.  I said pumpkins, lots of pumpkins.  So he went looking for ideas and found some pumpkins he could use as a basic design and build on.  The new header is the finished , though he says it's not and plans to sneak a few more strokes in, painting.
I absolutely love it, one of his best.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dilemma

We're in a bit of a dilemma here at the little house in the swamp.  We've always had a real Christmas tree.  Some years we've gone and cut our own, and some years bought it at a lot, but always a real one.
Our Usual Tree
This year we're kicking around the idea of an artificial one.  We've always bought a real one because we love the look and smell of it.  But it's been years since the trees have had any smell that you could detect more than a foot or two away.  That's why we decided to stop buying our tree at a lot and go to a Christmas tree farm and cut one.  Again, though, the smell didn't last, and one year a fresh tree we'd cut began losing its needles at an alarming rate and was almost bald by Christmas, making turning the lights on a bit dangerous.
You might think from this that we weren't keeping our tree in water, but we do, checking the water level every day.  And our house is never overheated (she said wearing 2 sweaters to keep warm) so that wasn't  the problem either.
Since moving here to Georgia we've been getting our tree from a local lot, buying what's called a Fraser Fir.  They're beautiful trees, very straight, thick and lose very few of their needles.  Mac puts them in the lagoon after Christmas to provide fish habitat.
But they have very little smell, and a couple of times we've had trouble with the tree holder leaking and causing a floorboard to warp.  We've been lucky that it didn't warp badly and when dry it straightened out.
I don't want to buy a live tree, there's really no room in our yard for more trees.  I spend the spring pulling out pine trees that have seeded themselves all over the place.  And I don't want any more cedar, we put in 2 when we first moved here and they're huge now.  Those are the 2 fir trees that grow best here.
I love a big tree and our ceiling is very high so often our tree is between 7 and 8 feet high.  I'd get bigger but, our car is small and we have to carry the tree up stairs into the house.  So that limits me.
This year we thought we'd look into artificial trees.  It would save our car that always has to haul my mammoth one home, it would save our backs from having to haul it up the stairs and it would save our wood floors.
What it would not save is my piggy bank.  The reasonably priced ones don't look real and they're tall and skinny.  I like a really full tree.  The ones I'd consider have been in the $200-$500 range.  Ouch!!!!  I know it will last forever, but that's a lot of Tootsie Rolls.

A $279 Tree
So what kind of tree do you put up?  Should we invest (and it would be an investment) in an artificial one?  Or should we keep buying  real ones?

Friday, November 16, 2012

RIP Twinkies

Today is a day of mourning, the mighty Twinkie is no more.  Hostess, the company that made them,  has asked bankruptcy court (they had filed for bankruptcy earlier this year) for permission to begin selling  off their brands and assets.
Many things had gone wrong at the company, lots of finger pointing, but the bottom line is, unless another company picks them up, Twinkies, and even worse, their chocolate cousin, Chocodiles, will be no more.  Alas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Basking Weather

Yesterday we had to go into town so we decided to do our daily walk in the city park, it has a 3 mile trail we like.  I've mentioned this park before, it use to be part of the Henry Ford estate, it was used to grow rice and has canals that fill and empty as the  tide (carried by the Ogeechee River) ebbs and flows.  It's a great place to bird watch, always has hawks, herons, buzzards, woodpeckers and smaller birds too.
The weather yesterday was much warmer than we had expected, well up into the 70's and we saw numerous turtles out basking in the sun.  We also saw 4 or 5 small alligators, around 3 feet long.
It's no wonder the folks who live along this watery park have fences, wouldn't you just love to wake up one day and find an alligator basking on your patio?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Cemetery and Ossuary at Verdun, France
(picture borrowed from Wikipedia)
Though most in our nation are more concerned with playing with their iphones and ipads they should take a few moments to remember why they have tomorrow off.  It's not just  a holiday that's been moved to a Monday so they can have a 3 day weekend.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended and it was hoped that because it had been so horrible that it would be the war to end all wars.  Unfortunately that was not to be.
I can remember visiting Verdun in France in the 1970's, viewing the trenches that were still there surrounded by barbwire and still looking like soldiers had just left them.  It was a cold February day and there was fog about giving an eery feeling to it all.   We visited  the graveyards and saw  the ossuary that contained the bones of those who couldn't even be identified.
The battle of Verdun lasted from the 21st of February 1916 till the 18th of December.  More than 714,321 French and German soldiers were killed.  The ossuary contains the bones of 130,000 French and German soldiers who couldn't be identified.  You look through small windows and see the mounds of bones inside.
It was a harrowing experience, made a bit of a passifist of me, for a while that is.
For as horrible as war is I do believe there are things worth fighting for and dieing for.  Your family, your freedom , your country.
My husband is a veteran and today, and every day I say, thank you for the job you do, for making our way of life possible.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I haven't blogged all week no energy, no inspiration,  nothing I want to write about.  My feelings on sweeping floors and cleaning toilets don't make for family friendly utterings so I decided it was better to just say nothing.
Fall has finally arrived here, sort of, a few trees are changing color and losing their leaves, but not in our yard, we mainly have pine and oak so no pretty autumn colors here.The squirrels throw down pine darts and pine cones occasionally , but it's not quite the same.
It has been chilly the last couple of days, highs in the 50's, but it's supposed to warm up to the 70's over the weekend.
The election is over, finally, so I guess we trade political ads for Christmas ads, not sure which is more annoying, and Lord help us they're already talking about the election of 2016.
Went to my dermatologist this week to find out how much of my nose they wanted to trim off, but Milisandre and her boss decided that the ugly little blighter (squamous cell carcinoma) was shallow enough that we could just put acid on it for 6 weeks and see how that goes.  I think Melisandre was looking forward to a little scalpel work and seemed a bit disappointed, but she said we'd meet again in January and reassess.
After that close encounter we went out for German food which was so GOOD!
We have leftovers for lunch today.
Going out dancing tonight, I can just already hear  my knees squealing in anticipation.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Almost

The window and all that surrounds it are almost back together again.  New wood has been put in, new insulation, a new window sill, new molding and new dry wall.  On the outside the siding has been put back on, the window trim replaced and the gutter rehung.  On the inside the he dry wall has been "mudded" and has to sit for a day.  Next the new baseboard goes in, then I get to paint it all.
If I see another termite, even if he's minding his own business he's dead.
Talking to a neighbor this morning she said they've had to replace the door from the garage into the house and all the wood around their garage.
And here I thought cockroaches were the worse bugs we'd have in Georgia.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hungry Little Buggers

There was a leak around one of our windows.  A small window you ask, no a huge triple window.  For some reason the people who built this house ( and lived here originally) didn't seal this window.  As a result water got in and in  Georgia where water ithere are  termites.  But we didn't know it until the window sill began deteriorating .  When Mac began cleaning it out to repair it he found termites, so we called our termite people, the ones who inspect our house  for termites every year and treat it when any are found.  They advised Mac to take the whole window sill out and look for further termite infestation.  We have a friend who knows about construction so he has helped Mac take the window sill, molding, sheet rock, baseboard, outside flashing and surrounding wood out.  What a mess, I about cried when I saw how extensive the damage was.  Our friend said the termites would have started on the floor next.
So the day has been spent, tearing the damage out, cleaning out all the bits and pieces and now they're starting to reconstruct it all.
I'll be glad when it's all cleaned up, but that probably won't be for while.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween



We don't get many Trick or Treaters here, which is sad, except that means I get to eat  the chocolate I had bought for them.  Mac always carves Jack O'Lanterns and this year he did a traditional one and then did one based on a picture I'd seen on Pinterest, it's all full of holes.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

At first the prediction was that Sandy would stay out in the ocean, then they predicted she'd weaken and perhaps touch along the northern part of the US.
Well she missed us completely, one cloudy day and some wind that's all.  But unfortunately she's going to hit the mid-Atlantic states, affecting people from North Carolina to Massachusetts.  And right in the middle of that is Maryland where our daughter is.
Her job is having people stay at home and work from there for the next 2 days and that's good.
Talked to her on the phone earlier, she says it's very rainy, very windy, but she still has electricity.  She's stocked up on supplies, phone is charged, has batteries, non-perishable food, gallons of water  and is as prepared as she can be.  She doesn't seem to be overly concerned.
I'll worry till the darn thing is completely gone, and probably drive her crazy phoning and tweeting.

Just a quick note, it's Tuesday afternoon and daughter came through fine.

Fussy Eater

I'd be the first person to admit that I'm a fussy eater.  The list of things I won't eat could fill a small city telephone book.  I won't eat:

snails

tuna casserole

mussels

clams

oysters, except when they're fried

boiled chicken

anything with coconut

most things cooked with cheese

anything cooked with a white sauce

most fish, unless they don't taste like a fish

most organ meat

macaroni and cheese

anything with cilantro in it or its Asian cousin coriander

anything cooked with curry

most Chinese and Japanese food

The list goes on forever, but the food that deserves a special category  of dislike is liver.  I more than hate liver, I hate how it looks, both cooked and raw, I hate its smell, I hate its texture.
There are a number of things that Mac likes to eat that I'll fix (think Chinese food), but I refuse to cook liver.
My Mother was always a stickler for making us eat whatever we were given to eat (we were rather poor and food could not be wasted) and we couldn't leave the table until  our plate was clear.  One time when I was about 5 we had liver, cooked to the consistency of shoe leather.  I choked down a bite or two, but my stomach rebelled, so I sat there long after the rest of the family had left the table, I knew I could eat no more.  I looked around the kitchen and realized I could hide the rest of it under the stove and refrigerator, so that's what I did.
My Mom cleaned the kitchen when I was through and swept under the stove and refrigerator and of course she found the liver.  I was punished, but she no longer made me eat when I didn't like.  Instead she said that I didn't have the eat what I didn't like, but there would be no more food until the next meal.
I could, and did, live with that.  I'd much rather miss a meal than eat something I don't like.
When our daughter came along we never made her eat anything she didn't want to, but we did ask her to taste everything.  Now she's the most adventurous eater I know.
Have I gotten better as I've gotten older?  A bit, I now eat rice (which I would never eat), shrimp, crab,
mushrooms and other (to me) exotic foods.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Are You a Barometer?

The weather forecasters are saying we'll probably not going to get any rain from Hurricane Sandy, but my right knee is telling me we probably will.
Now my right knee, lower back and left elbow all forecast rain at one time or another, but my right knee is the most accurate.
For years people have said they know when it's going to rain because their joints ache.  Scientists who have studied the phenomenon now say there is some validity to this, but that the actual culprit is not the rain or humidity, but changes in atmospheric pressure.
So I guess my knee is not a rain gauge, but rather a barometer, though it swears it's going to rain today.













Thursday, October 25, 2012

No Wonder We Get Lost

You often hear of folks getting lost, walking in circles, even when they were not too far from where they wanted to go.  MythBusters did a program on this and it was fascinating.  They put themselves in a wide open field, put a blindfold on them and all they had to do was walk to the top of the field.  Turns out they not only couldn't do it, they didn't even get close, they just kept walking in tighter and tighter circles.
Research at the Max Planck Institute explains why.


Wide-open spaces
We walk in circles when we traverse terrain devoid of landmarks, such as the desert. Even though we'd swear we're walking in a straight line, we actually curve around in loops as tight as 66 feet in diameter. German research from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics reveals why: With every step a walker takes, a small deviation arises in the brain's balance (vestibular) or body awareness (proprioceptive) systems. These deviations accumulate to send that individual veering around in ever-tighter circles. But they don't occur when we can recalibrate our sense of direction using a nearby building or mountain, for instance.

I've got to be honest, that even with landmarks some folks have trouble walking in a straight line, maybe they just don't recognize the landmark.  I know that I have a much better since of direction than Mac and our daughter says she has no sense of direction at all.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Secret Keeper

I have been a fan of Kate Morton since reading her first book.  I loved them all---The House at Riverton, The Distant Hours  and The Secret Garden.  When Amazon notified me that she had a new one coming out on October 16 I pre-ordered it and couldn't wait for it to get here.
I read it in 2 days, all 496  pages of it and I have to say that I liked it, but I didn't love it like I did her earlier books.  Not sure why, perhaps it was the two main characters telling the story, Dorothy (Dolly) and her daughter Laurel.  I didn't like either one of them.  By the end I had figured things out and it explained one of the mysteries that had been  bothering me, do people change?
The story begin when Dorothy is very old lady waiting to die and her daughter Laurel who is struggling with the memory of having seen her mother kill a man years ago.     At 16 all she wanted to do was to protect her mother, now she wants, before it's too late, to know the real reason her mother had  killed the man.

The rest of the story is done in flashbacks, beginning when Dorothy was a rebellious teenager in the 30's and the events that changed her life.
If you liked her earlier books you'll probably like this one too.