Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Dollivers, Annies and Elton bring in the New Year to you

The Ds wanted to be ahead of the game a bit, and are already partying in the New Year, along with Elton and the Annies.

Elton, by special request from Boud, refrained from playing Auld Lang Syne, and subbbed with Scots Wha Hae, a bit bloodthirsty, but oh well, and in honor of the new gowns sported by the Ds, a whole medley of show tunes, including Oklahoma in honor of the Minnesota Annies, well, a bit off target, geography not being his strong point, and ballet themes vaguely resembling the Firebird Suite.  All in all, a creditable performance.

the Ds have decided that these new duds have to have names, so they posed and dictated what I should say for each of them.

Here's Dreads modeling Rosebud

and Blondie Firstborn in Millefleur Medley

Call Me Michelle in Firebird

NameMe in Mysterious Spanish Princess

Bette Davis in Girl of the Golden West

While all this posing and bossing was going on, Elton quietly threw a Tinies Party attended by the three Annies and Canadian Doll, who has taken up permanent residence at the piano with Elton.

And we all wish you all a Happy New Year and a good 2013 to everyone.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cheery note in December gloom

Not my most up time of year, in fact I think it would be much better not to fight against the short days and the cold, and just get under a blanket with a good book and two cats until Spring. However, my begonia in the kitchen indicated that she thinks it's Spring already, and since yesterday put out this little stem with pink flowers all ready to bust out all over. And I'm torn between saying oh, thank you, and oh, shut up already..
In a few days' time it will be flowering season for local witch hazel, too. And maybe a few snowdrops on the patio. Meanwhile, I'm reading good books.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Good New Year

In honor of blogistas at the antipodes who are well into Christmas early morning at this point, here comes the Christmas Blogpost from all of us to all of you.

Elton wishes to state that his holiday program ranged from Jingle Bells to Minuit Chretiens, with stops off at the Coventry Carol and The Twelve Days of Christmas. 

The Annies are anxious to point out that the snow on the creche is actually quite warm, being a fun fur scarf swiped from Boud,and not at all like the real stuff they left behind in Minnesota.  And the Dollivers remember about the creche and the figures in it from last year, and quite like it, the figures already being dressed and not in need of borrowing anything from them.

Boud has reread A Child's Christmas in Wales, a lovely edition from the 60s hand bound with woodcuts by Ellen Raskin, on the blank cover of which Handsome Son many years ago, probably aged about seven, wrote in the title, then decorated it with a jeweled cross for reasons that remain mysterious, but have become more dear with the passing years.  Duncan and Marigold will be content with a nice bit of nip over the holidays, Duncan being very happy that an old friend we haven't seen in a while stopped in yesterday and renewed their acquaintance, they being very good friends.

Handsome Son and I will be going out to celebrate at a buffet restaurant, where he can have lovely roast beef, and I can have lovely whole salmon to slice from, and a lot of other choices of all kinds, no work involved beyond carrying food to our table.  This will be good!

And we all wish you a good season, and a happy New Year, and good friends and neighbors to share it with.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Roses, you've met them before...

My lovely birthday bouquet is now down to the roses, so I've incorporated them into a group of houseplants I'm rooting in water, and they're now Christmas roses.  This is in fact my favorite stage of roses: when the petals square off and curl over,beautiful geometry.  They have a fruity smell, and now you can detect it better because the lilies are over. 

The other plants are philodendron, cuttings from friend, sansevieria, cuttings from friend, begonia, cuttings swiped from friend unknown to her, spider plant, great-great grandchild of an ancient plant who has propagated so many times I don't remember its origin.

I'm getting ready for a Big Thing Upstairs, new flooring.  Longtime blogistas will remember voting when I got samples of the downstairs laminate and showed you.  We ended up with Flare Cherry, which looks wonderful, and still like new, so I think I'll repeat the theme in the two bedrooms.  I won't put you through another contest!  but it's high time the ancient wall to wall put in by the builders, and the survivor of many animals, was retired and replaced.  Also I catch the underside of my slipper sometimes on the rugs, and it's a good idea not to have them upstairs.  Hallways and stairs will continue to be carpeted, fairly new carpet there, and I still like it.

This is a big budget item, and has pushed window replacement far down the list, but before I can get it done, I have to move a ton of stuff, sigh.  The men who have done several big jobs for me in the past, are wonderful about working around big furniture, moving it, moving it back, etc., but I have to move all the books, bookcases, various containers of craft items,  all the stuff on the closet floors, since I'll get them to floor right into the closets, looks lovely when done.  And I bet my cleaners will be tickled, that much less vacuuming, in place of damp mopping, much easier.

It will entail taking my platform bed apart again.  HS and I assembled it a while back, when I wanted to reclaim my own bed, taken apart when HP and I combined households, and it took a while for me to find the parts, since they'd been doing service as shelves here and there, and desktops in the studio and on and on.  Then I couldn't quite remember the order of business, and patient son kept the eye rolling to a minimum when we built and rebuilt it until it finally worked.

This time, when I broke the news to him, he said, after a pause, well, the good news is that I think I can remember how to assemble this thing this time.  Also, I'll help take it apart.  And I didn't add, but could have, this time we'll have all the parts in one place...

So that's the New Year adventure.  But first we get through Christmas, with a nice dinner out, no work, and I have the second season of Downton Abbey to watch, again, from the library.

And this morning, a cheerful sight at the bird feeder: a little redbreasted nuthatch, not the white breast who often shows up on the tree, but a newcomer, never seen on this patio before, noshing away happily and making many trips.  This is a good omen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Books,birds and niche interests

Reading lately has been an interesting mix.  I'm finding something intriguing: during Handsome Partner's lifetime, he was the household authority on all things history, being a hugely well read scholar.  This was in his spare time from being an atom scientist, and running bridge clubs, following tennis and golf and playing seriously good badminton.

His reading covered the Maya, the Incas, mucho pre-Columbian work,  masses of Egyptology, then sweeping right up to the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, on which he was a dead keen student, hauling me around to battle sites, of which there are plenty around here -- not far from Gettysburg, in fact, and the battles of Princeton and Monmouth are only a bit down the road. And to southern ones, too, when we were in the vicinity.  And he loved the history of science and astronomy, too. So history kind of became his property, if you follow me.

Now, though, I find I'm developing my own interest in history, though my period is different, mainly English history, either Tudor or nineteenth century.  And I'm more interested in social history than in battles and treaties, though you have to know about them to fathom what's going on in society, anyway.  this is partly a function of having uninterrupted time to read and follow a long thread of argument and description, and partly having recovered my ability to focus on reading more demanding stuff again.

Currently, I just finished The Elizabethans by A.N. Wilson, never knew he was a historian.  He does have a great hand with narrative, just sweeps you along, even among the complications of that age.  And he makes a serious attempt not to take sides in the Reformation.  This book came out in 2012, so it's up to the minute in terms of where England is now, and how the church seems to have lost a lot of its authority, or been secularized in a way that would have surprised its forebears. Some very serious musing on the English blunders in Ireland and why they happened, and where that is now, too. Anyway, this is well worth reading.  In fact, if you like historical fiction of the period, it's great to read a history of this kind to get the hang of  what's going on in the background of the characters' lives.

Then, since all heavy reading is not on, I discovered Anna Dean, whose Victorian amateur sleuth Dido Kent, is a kind of Miss Marple meets Jane Austen, very very funny,very witty, good story, some serious social commentary, too, not just froth.

Out walking today, everywhere is still a lot of evidence of Sandy, massive trees down and hauled off the roads,but not yet cut and chipped down to usable material, very sad to see all those great wodges of earth slammed over.  But here and there something interesting happens. Here's a picture of a place where a big conifer limb was torn off, leaving a kind of niche you could nicely use for a piece of sculpture.  It's a bit high up, but might be a site for a bit of stealth art.

And a swan on the pond, very rare visitor here, possibly blown adrift by Sandy, but bossing the Canada geese around firmly anyway,and taking baths.  Riddle me this: why do swimming birds, who spend most of their lives in the water, need to take baths?  I mean, any lice would have drowned, so why else do they do this?  any knowledgeable blogista who knows, please chime in.  I'm guessing it has to do with maintaining the waterproofing of their feathers, but would like to know more.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Annies after their big city holiday makeover

The Annies got a haircut, new clothes and a lot of attitude when they shed their wholesome gingham for more, um rockin gear.  Here ready to partay. 

And just to show they don't forget who brung em, posing in the rocker with my peasant doll, who was heard to comment that they're still nice Minnesota girls under all that brocade.

Hippo Birdies to Me!

Beautiful flowers appeared at my house, and the whole place is filled with different scents, wonderful at this time of year specially.  Handsome Son will come by this morning to cook and serve us a special birthday lunch. Life is good.

I don't want to seem heartless by failing to note the terrible events of yesterday in Connecticut, but don't want to add to the prying coverage,either, very disrespectful to the people whose lives now fall into before and after.  But I am praying, and I will walk the labyrinth for all of them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Orphans of the Storm, three little Wooden Annies

Arrived today a group of three wooden cotton reel dolls, explaining that they were refugees from the big storm in Minnesota, all that snow, way over their heads, they figured they could do better, and arranged to move in here courtesy of KH, who had rescued them and provided foster care until they could find a forever home.

 My wooden peasant doll took over and installed them in her rocker,

then the Dollivers accepted them into their rocker, too. 
Since the newcomers are too small to borrow D clothes, they are safe here.  But they need names, if blogistas would be so kind.  They prefer to stay together in a group, so it's okay to have a group name and individual ones, too.

Elton asked if we needed a quick rendition of Good King Wenceslas, what with the snow and all, but was persuaded to hold off till it was more seasonal.

Meanwhile, Marigold and Duncan discovered a little package of excellent nip in the parcel, too, and tried it out, rolling and howling and trying to wash their faces with paws that kept on missing their faces and sort of flying out, causing more than one brisk fight, neither capable of landing a paw on the other, no harm done.

  Happy happy kitties.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Food to combat festive low spirits

This being my least favorite time of year, full of obligatory festive events, just at the season when all I would like to do is hibernate with a good book, and when any suggestion that I don't like Christmas or the season itself leading up to it is greeted with various levels of indignation.  Not  to mention names like Grinch and Scrooge.  Well, I don't spoil other people's enjoyment, just would like to be left alone. I look back with a surge of tiredness on my days as a program director in a large nonprofit org., where one year between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, I had to attend twenty three, count them, official celebrations, all obligatory, all with great food, all too much!

I do put up a ceramic creche with figures, since the cats are  not interested in exploring, unlike other decorations and trees with tinsel, which were banned long ago. And I do make gifts for people.  And send and receive a few cards. It's all very low key.

Today was a good day, cold and sharp, for soup.  Soup is always good for my spirits.

So here comes cream of broccoli, from farmshare yellow squash and broccoli, with garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, plain yogurt added after blending. 
With homebaked bread croutons, tossed in olive oil,salt and pepper and thrown sizzling onto the bowl of soup. 

Dessert is a gala apple, with chopped hazelnuts and a drizzle of good honey.  Good.  Raised my spirits right away.

That and walking, and pushing furniture about at home, will probably help me get through this festive time.