Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Favorite Cozies

I finished Witch Way to Murder a couple of nights ago, the first in a relatively new murder mystery series by Shirley Damsgaard. And since it was a fun fast read, and I'd bought the second book at the same time, I jumped right into Charmed to Death where it looks like the protagonist is going to tackle a murder from her past that they kept mentioning in the first book. I look forward to more in this series.

Which made me decide to list my favorite murder mystery series for you today. Just cozies, mostly. Cozies are the whodunnits that are big on characters and leave most of the grizly details to other books. I've started most of these series by stumbling upon one book from the series and discovering that there's something about the series that appeals to me personally. It might be located in a place I love or know or wish I loved and knew. It might be the protagonist shares similar interests with me - herbs, books, nature. It might be because the plot slides into the edge of urban fantasy, another favorite genre. Whatever it was that originally caught my interest, whether or not I keep reading the series hinges on whether or not I end up becoming friends with the characters. Great characters and I'm hooked, even if on occasion the writing is a bit uneven or the plots thin. But mostly, the writing and the stories are pretty durn great as well. I also like series that carry a nice balance between relationship threads that carry on from book to book, and good, solid, whodunnit stories that hold their own inside each cover.

In no particular order:

China Bayles Mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert - it's sometimes hard to find her as some bookstores shelve her under "A" for Albert and some under "W" for Wittig. The main character is an ex-lawyer who moves to a small town Texas' hill country and opens up an herb shop and later in the series, an accompanying tea house. Her best friend is a flamboyant woman who owns a "New Age" shop next door to her herb shop. The books always have an herb themed title.

Anna Pidgeon series by Nevada Barr - the protagonist is a National Park Ranger and the settings are National Parks or Monuments. The author is a master at describing a place and making you feel like you're really there. She's sort of a local author as she grew up nearby and her parents still live in our community. Her mother is somewhat well known in her own right as the first woman pilot for the US Dept of Forestry - or maybe it's another department, I can't remember.

Benny Harper series by Earlene Fowler - This series always has a quilt pattern title. The protagonist runs a folk art museum in a thinly disguised make believe town that's really San Luis Obispo, CA. There's a lot of side characters who are wonderful as well. There is a sort of "christian" overtone because the grandma, one of my favorite characters, is southern Baptist. But it doesn't ruin the story for me at all because the characters are so great and simply being true to themselves. We have ties to the SLO area on hubby's side, so that's fun too. In fact, a quilting friend of mine is also from SLO and, let's see if I can get the story straight - her best friend still lives there and knows Earlene. It's such a small world, isn't it?

Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris - these are paranormal but also murder mysteries. Wonderful, wonderful characters full of southern style! Sookie might be my favorite character anywhere... hmmm.... she's definitely in the top ten anyway. She's also got a new series out, I think the first book is called Grave Surprise, that I'm itching to start.

Miss Zukas Library Mysteries by Jo Dereske - the protagonist is an uptight librarian, but she has a wild kooky best friend. The setting is Bellingham, WA, libraries of course, and lots of references to the characters' Lithuanian background

Bed and Breakfast Mysteries by Mary Daheim - the writing is sort of sloppy in this series. I think she just cranks them out too fast. But I like the Seattle setting and always enjoy hanging out with the main characters Ruth (who owns a b&b) and her cousin Renie (who is always ready for food and drink)

Chintz 'n China Mysteries by Yasmine Galenorn - these have a paranormal edge to them and they take place in a small town in northern Washington. The main character is a single mom who owns a Tea Shop. I like that her kids aren't just pushed to the background but are part and parcel of each story.

Kate Jasper Mysteries by Jacqueline Girdner - the main character owns a gag gift mail order business (although that's not really an important element of the series). What the author has fun with is that the protagonist lives in Marin County and is a vegetarian. Having lived in Marin County myself, I have fun with all the odd but true stereotypes of the area and people.

A Rowan Gant Investigation series by M. R. Sellars - this one doesn't really count as a cozy, they're really more of a thriller/mystery combination. But I include the series because it's not as well known as it should be and the characters are so wonderful. The main characters are a contemporary married couple who just happen to be witches, with a cop best friend. The stories stretch into the fantastical but the base of real life pagan perspective is a big treat.

Of course I don't have enough to read (SNORT!), so I'm anxious to hear about your favorite mysteries. Finding new characters is like meeting new friends, and ones that will help you avoid housework on a dreary afternoon or have no qualms about climbing into bed with you at night at that! So, what are your favorites?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Book Four/Week Four

I finished my fourth book of the year today, Bookmarked to Die by Jo Dereske, with two extra days left in the fourth week - yah me! It was a fun read. I'm glad the author picked up the series again after a hiatus. I went to her website to see why she finished the series a few years ago and/or why she decided to start it up again, but found no explanation. I did discover she writes another series though - A Ruby Crane Mystery series, which I might look out for when I'm at the used book store, and she writes children's books.

So far I've read three books from my Books To Read This Year list, and one random selection. I don't have a clue what I'll read next. Last year I went through a stage where each time I finished a book I got all anxious and frozen in indecision as to what to read next. I know, sounds silly doesn't it. It probably didn't have much to do with reading. It probably was just free floating anxiety being channeled into making book selecting decisions into a BIG DEAL.

It could have been in teensy part though because I now have such a huge backlog of books I really care about reading. A long time ago, when I first got back into serious fiction reading (I mean, reading a lot of fiction, regularly, reading seriously. I don't mean reading only serious novels. I happen to read quite a bit of humorous fiction as well) I never had more then a book or two waiting to be my next read. (have you noticed how annoying it is in print that read and read, present and past tense, are spelled the same and not obviously one or the other until you've moved past it in a sentence!?) Then I started to take note of what other folks were reading. I joined an online book group and got dozens, nay, hundreds of new suggestions. And now, through much diligent book store visiting, treasure hunting in used book stores, online bookstores, and the liberal use of a credit card, I've managed to build a substantial library of books waiting for their turn to be cracked open. So it's not just a matter of "should I read this book or that book?" anymore. It's more like having a stack of resumes on my desk a foot thick and having to choose only one person when all the applicants have already been narrowed down to all meet the requirements for the job.

Before I can even pick the book, first I have to narrow down the genre. Do I want another murder mystery? Something spooky and supernatural? Maybe a classic or an "Oprah" type book? Urban fantasy? A long remembered children's book? At least I'm excited about choosing instead of being all a-tizzy about it. I'll let you know what I decide.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sam's house

Just a quick, sloppy post (well, it was supposed to be quick, but after fighting with the photos... grrr), I wanted to share some photos of our visit this last weekend to see Sam and the house he's building. William helped his brother on the house for the weekend, I caught up on some shopping. Yes, it was necessary shopping. For the most part. Anyway....

First, though, here's a nice photo of Kyla and William hanging out at Sam's townhouse.

Sam was trying to teach William how to break dance. Or is that brake dance? It could be either as a) they were definitely threatening to fall over and break something and b) the brake seemed to be on, they couldn't get much movement going. Unless you count falling over.

They got the upside down part okay. It was the what to do next that thwarted them.

But on to the house building. Sam is building a beautiful home up in the foothills above Redding. Whaddya think? Looks delicious, yes? Hehehe. The first photo is of the gingerbread house he built at our house, a replica of the big house. Slightly different angle, but the same, yes?

Here's the real thing. It will be a lovely home. Sam tried to convince me we should buy it. Uhm, we can't afford Sam's house. Neither can Sam. It will be for sale.

It sits on five acres of oak woodlands and has a peekaboo view of the entire northern valley. It's big too. Here's a photo of the boys on the front porch, to give you an idea of the length of that section of the house.

Here's William in the front room. Look how huge it is, it makes that dog look really really tiny! Oh. Yeah. She is really really tiny. Well, then, look how small it makes William look, and he's definitely not tiny.

Construction is dirty work. Time for a dip in the master bath.

And here's the handsome builder himself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Visitor to My Hometown

Here's a meme from DebR.

Here are the instructions:

Imagine you’ve made a connection with another blogger who lives in a completely different part of the world than you do. This blogger is about to take a trip and the connection you’ve made is so strong that she is going to make your house one stop on her trip. (Yay!) Unfortunately she can only stay at your place for 24 hours (boo!), but she’d like to see some nearby sights while visiting with you.

Keeping in mind that time is quite limited so you have to stick pretty close to home (although not necessarily right IN your town - just anyplace you could go as a day trip), try looking around you with the eyes of someone who has never seen your area and tell us some things you’d share with…

A Visitor to Your Hometown

1. Your visitor wants to see something historical. Where would you take her and why?

This is harder then I thought. I asked my family to help me out, throw out some ideas of historical places. Jeff said "Peter Lassen's gravesite". I said "Even people who live in Lassen county don't care about seeing Peter Lassen's gravesite." William said "Peter Lassen has a gravesite?" So, uhm, maybe not.

But hey, it would be interesting to go to our community frontier graveyard. It's pretty interesting. At least to me. Some people aren't as fascinated with cemeteries as I am.

There are also a dozen or more historical murals around town that are really quite impressive, although they wouldn't take long to see, we could see what's left of our original uptown (what hasn't been demolished or lost in a fire).

If you wanted to drive a couple of hours, there's Virginia City. Remember the ol' western television show Bonanza? They were always riding into Virginia City? It's a real town. An old silver mining town. Full of mines, miners, saloons, a ghost or two, a famous theater that sadly burned to the ground several years ago. Mark Twain spent time there. There's a cool frontier cemetery there too.

2. She wants to see something hysterical…well, mildly amusing anyway. She’d even go for cute, quirky, odd, or unique. Where would you take her and why?

Probably the most amusing place in Lassen County is my house. My cats are entertaining. So is Rosie. My husband is entertainingly goofy at times. William is quite the witty teen. Most of us are cute. We're all definitely quirky, odd and unique.

But if we're not enough for you, if we went to Virginia City, then we could stop in Reno on the way home, visit a casino. That's definitely an odd environment. If we went up into the mountains, we could go see the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Westwood.

3. She wants to take some beautiful and/or interesting photos to fill her albums when she gets home. Where would you take her?

This is the easy question. Or perhaps, the difficult question, because there are so many options to choose from. We might not have a lot of anything else, but we've got loads of natural beauty. Pretty much anywhere you look. If we went down to Virginia City, the drive would be filled with wide open spaces, beautiful skies probably filled with gorgeous cloudscapes, mountain peaks every which way you look.

If we stayed in town, we have more of the same all around the valley. We could hike up the Bizz Johnson Trail - more mountains, the river valley, trees, nature above, below, and all around us.

Or we could drive up into the mountains to Lake Almanor. All the aforementioned beauty plus a panoramic mountain lake. I know several spots that are natural bird sanctuaries. Or if you really wanted something amazing, we could drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park. A volcano. Bubbling hot mud pots, boiling sulphur hot springs, alpine lakes.... views. And lots of trees.

4. She’d like to buy a souvenir that will remind her of your area every time she sees it. What would you suggest and where would you go to get it?

I have no idea. I'd say the best souvenir would be a photo. Maybe William could take a photo of me and you together, mugging it for the camera. You could pick up some volcanic rock hereabouts. Wanna bring one of my cats home with you? Please. You can get a Susanville t-shirt at Susanville Supermarket or a Susanville coffee mug at Hodge Podge Lodge. Honestly, I think the most "real" local souvenir would be a Lassen Grizzly sweatshirt or baseball hat at the high school (in the school colors of purple and gold) or something from the Black Bear Diner gift shop (my favorite is the Talk to the Paw t-shirts).

5. Wow, it’s been a long day and you’re both ready for a snack, or maybe even a meal. Where would you take her to really get the flavor of your area?

I mentioned Black Bear Diner. That's pretty quintessential Susanville, although the original restaurant was opened in Mt. Shasta City. We've also got Walkers/Maria's. It's been here for.... I don't know, sixty years? I really have no idea, except it's been here "forever". It serves great Mexican food.

If we went south, I'd probably recommend the buffet at The Atlantis in Reno. It's always voted the best in town and in a town that is alll about buffets, that's saying a lot! If we went up into the mountains, I'd probably take you to my favorite restaurant up in Chester, a little place with a lumberjack theme called The Knotbumper. Or maybe Buffalo Chips Pizza up in Westwood. Good pizza, lots of atmosphere.

Whew. I'm tired, and I didn't even get off the couch! I hope you enjoyed your cyber-visit. After all that cyber-travel, I'm hungry too. I'm off to the kitchen in search of a snack.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Books - week four

I finished Anansi Boys yesterday. Three books, three weeks. Okay, technically yesterday was the beginning of week four, but hey, close enough for guv'ment work.

It was a great read. Very "Gaiman". I read American Gods in December and I have to say that as much as I liked that one, I like this one more. The characters were a lot easier to like. More.... endearing?

This isn't the cover of my book though. I bought my copy while I was in London. The UK version is a quality paperback in blue with a big silver spiderweb on the cover. I love that the price sticker on the back says "£7.99".

Here's the book I'm starting tonight. It's a fun cozy mystery by Jo Dereske. The author wrote.... six? Eight? Nine? Something like that anyway.... books in the series and then, sadly, for reasons unbeknownst to this reader, wrapped things up several years ago. I was delighted to find she's decided to pick it back up again with this new book, recently published.

I usually start a series because there's something about the character or setting or theme that appeals to me - a quilting theme, a location I'm familiar with, herbs, paranormal... something that tickles my fancy. This series not only takes place in northern Washington, one of my favorite geographical places, but the main character is Lithuanian. I'm half Lithuanian. I ask you, how often do you find a Lithuanian theme in literature!?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Lisa!

My sister turned ... older today. When I called her to wish her a Happy Birthday, I asked how old she was now. She said "OLD". I said since she was talking to her old-ER sister, she couldn't claim being "OLD". But she is older then she was yesterday.

Here's a picture of my baby sister when she was... well, 1970 it says on the photo. So, she's probably seven when this picture was taken. She's holding some of my dog Sheilah's puppies (who apparently I named Honey, Chipper, and Clown - before my mom took them to a no-kill shelter - at least that's what she told us kids, I've always wondered....) anyway, the point is, she's holding puppies. That's important. Remember that.

Here she is another photo taken six or seven years later. This time she's holding a couple of kittens. They were my kittens - the little black and white one was named Captain, the orange one O.J. That's one of my mom's old chairs, but it's in my apartment. I loved that old chair. I wonder what ever happened to it? Oh, anyway, moving on....

Let's flash forward.... oh, let's say.... three decades and.... WHODATHUNK!? My sister is a veterinarian!! All grown up and smart. Just like her sister. The smart part I mean. As you can see, I haven't quite grown up yet.

Happy Sister Lisa! Er, I mean, Happy Birthday Lisa!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Holiday Photos #20

Today's travelogue is all about the Edinburgh Castle. It's built on a rocky crag on one end of the historic high street of town. The palace sits on the other end of town, where it's lower and apparently warmer and more pleasant to live. We didn't get to tour the palace because honest-to-goodness real royalty were in town and staying there.

This first photo gives you an idea of the courtyards, the craggy bluff it was built on (see the rocks beneath the wall on the righthand side?) and how high up it was above the city (see the view in the background). There's another photo of the view over on Laume's studio. And of course you can click on the photos to see more detail.

One thing that we learned in all the castles we toured, a castle isn't just a building. It's a walled complex of buildings and walkways and towers and walls and courtyards. Here's William sitting in front of a picturesque backdrop of one of the buildings.

A big cannon. That's William taking a photo just in front of the cannon. I liked the how huge the cannon balls were in comparison to the small child.

Hellooooooooo? Anyone in therrrrrrre?

See the walled in section in the middle of the photo lined with gravestones? That's the castle pet cemetery - I thought that was so sweet.

This next building was filled with a very touching war memorial. Statues and wreaths and columns and rows and rows of books - official records of all the men who had served and died in wars in both the distant and the not-so-distant past. I actually had to make a quick sweep of the rooms and leave quickly, as I got very emotional. This photo, as well as an matching one of me standing in the matching box on the other side of the doorway, was taken before we went into the building. We saw other people standing in these funny little "houses" and though we didn't know what they were for, we decided to take our pictures in them as well. Later, in London, we saw them in use and - DUH! They're guardhouses. I'm assuming popular to keep the guards at least partially dry during the ...cough, cough.... rare rainy days on the island.

This photo was taken inside a grand hall that was renovated to look how they thought it might have looked in it's heyday. I took a photo of the hall, but it came out fuzzy. I took this photo because in the lefthand window was a crest of William Wallace. William, meaning my William, is related to Wallace on his father's side. How closely he is actually descended from THE William Wallace I don't know, although he would undoubtedly be descended from the Wallace clan. I hope that the Wallace crest is that left hand one with the three blue stars. I mean, who wants their crest to be the other one of three fluffy pillows!?

Here's the Wallace tartan.

Don't forget to hop over to Laumes Studio for three more photos, somewhat arbitrarily designated the "artsy" photos of the day and posted other there.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not only cute, but cool baby, cool

The newest photo of my granddaughter Joli. Joe said when they first put the glasses on her, she fussed - until she figured out she could see through them - then she was all smiles.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

B Events


I finally finished Blame it on Paris. I was a bit worried after the build up I gave it looking for it for so long it wouldn't be as good as I'd hoped, but I ended up really loving it. It was sweet and witty and funny and poignant. And I definitely got a great big French fix from it. Go run out and buy it, read it, right away.

I didn't quite manage to finish it by the end of the second week. I finished it last night. Well, this morning if you want to get technical, at about 2:30 am. To stay on my a-book-a-week schedule, I need to find something shorter then the sixth Harry Potter (600 plus pages) for my next read. I'm in the mood for a good mystery, or maybe I'll finally get around to reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, which I've meant to read and kept forgetting I had for about seven months now.

Y'know, I thought it would be easy peasy to read a book a week. I mean, I read almost that much last year, and that was without any effort beyond my desire to read. But I didn't plan on having such a busy start to my year, either. I'm certain I read faster then a snail, but I'm coming across folks who seem to read A LOT MORE BOOKS then me without any effort at all! One friend mentioned casually, and this was on January 12, that she'd read fourteen books already this year. And when I expressed amazement, she casually says "Oh, it's not really that much - it's only about a book a day." *Jaw Drop* Another friend says she averages a couple books a week but wants to read more. Gad, and here I am plodding along, making difficulty noises at this book-a-week goal I've set for myself.


I saw a kingfisher yesterday. It was on an electric wire above the river as I drove along Riverside Road midday. As I came up along where it was perched, it took off, swung over the river, and dove down behind the bushes and, I can only presume, into the water. It was so pretty, with it's pointed headdress and the black and white contrast of it's feathers.

Also, did anyone see on the news about the flock of starlings in San Rafael, California? It's amazing! Here's a wonderful Youtube video of the air ballet. And here's a news article about it.

Bathroom windows

I opened the bathroom window a crack yesterday because it was getting too wet in there. Only thing, I forgot to go back and close it and last night I discovered it frozen open. It took hot washcloths and a bit of banging but I finally got it closed.


Y'know, boys are odd creatures. You never know what sort of behavior to expect from them. Last night I heard a bunch of unusual shuffling and bumping-into-things and ripping noises from William's room, so I went and investigated. Well, maybe not so unusual. I'm always hearing crashing, bumping, and other assorted loud sounds from William's room. Usually when I open the door and ask "What's going on?" I get "Nothing" from one or more teenagers, all with deadpan faces. Far too deadpan to be "nothing." This time I discovered William had wrapped his friend James up in packing tape. They thought it was hysterically funny. They marched off to show another friend and James' mother.

They came back a while later with aluminum foil added to the outfit. "To keep the aliens from reading his brain" they announced as they marched through the living room. Oh. Of course. How could I have not realized.

These are NOT ransom photos, I swear.

A short time later James had shed his protective garb and, taking their chances with alien abduction, decided to cook themselves a shrimp dinner. And they did, too. Which is as odd as the whole packing tape and aluminum foil thing if you knew - I didn't know William even knew where our oven was located.

And we've reached a new low in communication ability. Or would that be a new high? The phone rang. I was sitting on the couch, I had to get up, walk to the dining room, pick up the cordless phone...


"How do you cook shrimp?"

"William? Is this you? Where are you?" (I thought maybe they'd gone back to James' house and I hadn't noticed.)

"In my bedroom."

Apparently it was too much work to open the door and walk the entire eight feet down the hallway and through the dining room to find me. Sigh.


Actually, oranges. But blueberries starts with a B and oranges starts with an O. But the oranges I'm talking about might be like big "blue" fruit because they are so COLD from the deep freeze that all of California is battling. As I sat on the couch last night eating a lovely orange, I saw videos on the news of oranges covered in icicles and frost. I wonder how long I'll be able to afford fresh fruit before this extreme weather impacts produce prices. They did say however, that the ruined fruit could still be sold to make orange juice. I guess so, it's already fresh frozen. Ha! Okay, not so funny for the poor farmers.


I got a bunch of boxes in the mail from my mom today. Full of goodies. Some cute kids' clothes for the grandkids, some wonderful soaps, tons of ribbons to use for wrapping gifts and for sewing projects. Anyone got any good project ideas for using lots and lots of ribbons? I also got a box from Amazon today - the second half of my Yule/Birthday gift - the second season of Doctor Who! YAH!

And speaking of boxes, I've put it off long enough. I have to drag in all the holiday boxes, sort them out, pack up the rest of the decorations, and get them back out into the garage. I'll start tonight. I promise. Why is my hand behind my back? No. Don't look behind me. I'm not crossing my fingers! I'm not!!

Bare belly

Suddenly all my shirts are too small on me. Now, don't go jumping to any rude conclusions. I have not gained weight. True. Pinky swear. But it's also true that I haven't suddenly gone through a growth spurt and gotten taller at fifty. The only other possibility is that my washing machine has suddenly decided to shrink, selectively, all my shirts?

I've noticed that the style for women's shirts has suddenly gone from waist to hip length. So perhaps it just seems like my shirts are shorter? Maybe, but that still doesn't explain the skin that's now showing. I'm .... confused. And that's not a good thing at my age. It's worrisome.

It might be a good thing for all my shirts to shrink if I didn't like my clothes and needed an excuse to buy some new things for my wardrobe, but it's new shirts and old alike that have suddenly been replaced with smaller sizes overnight. By fairies. While I slept. Yeeeeah. That's it. It's the only logical explanation.

Emergency Post

Lisa just sent me some new photos of Joli and when I got to this photo I had to drop everything and upload it to my blog. The cuteness factor was so incredibly high that if I didn't share it IMMEDIATELY, I would probably have fainted from the sugar poisoning! I mean, is this the most adorable baby on the planet!? Duh!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Pansies in the post, mesclun in the mail

When we think of December mail, we think of the fun of holiday cards and packages arriving on our doorstep. Now that it’s January, the excitement is over for most people, who expect nothing more exciting then bills and the offer of more credit cards to pay off those holiday expenses. But not for gardeners. January means the thrill of finding seed catalogs in your mailbox!

These days, it’s only a passing thrill when I bring in the mail - “Oh, another catalog! I’ll have to find a chance to look at that tonight!” So far the only browsing my new catalogs have seen are from the grandkids. Joshua spent several nights engrossed in the bright photos of an oversized Burpee catalog, assigning fruit and vegetables to people like place settings at a table. “MY stahbellies”......”Papa’s beans”......”Gammy’s cawhots.” I discovered, after that fact, that eight month old Anastasia had browsed another of my catalogs, but mainly with her chubby little hands and her two new front teeth. Sigh.

There was a time, however, when the arrival of a new catalog sent me into spasms of joy that could have compared to the arrival of a new Harry Potter book! That was the peak of my gardening years a time when I had acres of land at my disposal and small children that kept me home with my feet in my own soil. That was also before my house became home to a herd of cats who felt it was their feline duty to destroy each and every seedling that dared peek it’s head above an open flat of peat moss.

The last year I tried to start my garden from seed, I was armed with a plan. I decided to turn an entire metal utility shelf into an inpenetrable greenhouse. I went to the local Walmart and filled my shopping cart with duct tape and rolls of heavy plastic sheeting. This was coincidentally the year that the newly created Department of Homeland Security had just suggested Americans could protect themselves from a terrorist attack of germ warfare by going out and buying.... yep, duct tape and plastic sheeting. I wasn’t thinking of that when I got up to the checkstand, my mind was busy pondering if I should buy any extra grow lights or potting soil while I was out. As I began unloading my cart onto the counter, the cashier looked down at all that duct tape and plastic sheeting and then she looked at me, one eyebrow raised quizzically, as if I had just done something highly amusing. And a grow light, er, light bulb went on in my head - “Oh, no! That is not why I’m buying all this stuff!” She just raised both eyebrows and tried not to laugh. She checked me out while I futilely continued to defend both my honesty and my I.Q.

After all that humiliation and the subsequent work creating my indoor, cat proof greenhouse, the duct tape and plastic didn’t work to keep the cats out of the seedlings anyway, although they did have a bit more difficulty getting back out of my homemade greenhouse once they were already inside. I gave up trying to grow my own seeds after that, sadly forgoing tangy heirloom green zebra striped tomotoes and snowy white Italian eggplant that hung round as chicken eggs amongst the plant's dusty green leaves. No longer stringing up indoor lights or mixing new and improved germination mediums by February, I had to postpone the first gardening thrill of a new growing season for another month or two until the ground unfroze enough to pop peas and beets directly into the ground and even more months before the boring selection of hybrid tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants began showing up in the limited local nurseries.

Still, gardening catalogs aren’t completely useless, even if I'm not in a position where I can order anything out of them. It’s still a pleasure in dreary January for me to curl up with a steaming mug of tea and lose myself in the pages full of color. Green in as many shades as there are plants to model them. Beefsteak reds, sunflower golds, carrot orange, rose pinks, lavender uhm... lavenders. In Jaunary my dreams can run unchecked as I work my way through a section of root vegetables (ooooh, I want to grow those baby turnips again!), wind through herbs (I really need to plant all FIVE types of basil!) and dawdle in perennials (I’m sure there’s enough room for a row of veronica on that side of the walkway).

With the ground outside asleep (and in a typical year, under a blanket of snow) anything is still possible. There’s no reason yet to dash my fantasies against the hard edge of reality - like that I have only so much space and so much time to spend in the garden and in the last few years, that's been very little time indeed. And that my growing season is too short, I still haven’t tackled that infestation of sorrel and grass in the front flower bed, and that it's too dry and shady in the other half of the yard for me to grow half the things I fantasize growing there.

Nope. In January, there’s still time to enjoy the garden that could be, that I’d create if all things were possible. By the time gardening season comes round in truth, long months from now in April, or more likely May (sometimes not even until June), long after the time I could place an order in any of these gardening "wish books", I’ll be so happy to see green again, real, honest to goodness living, chlorophyll producing, breathing, spring wind GREEN, that it won’t matter to me at all that most of it is in the form of a wild and unruly garden of weeds.


If, unlike me, you do have the time and cat free location to start some plants from seed this year, here are a few of my favorite seed catalogs:

Pinetree Garden Seeds - what I liked best about this catalog is that the seeds come in no nonsense packages but you can buy variety packs perfect for the small family garden, allowing you to have a little bit of many varieties or to try something new. They used to have small sample seed packets as well.

The Cook's Garden - this one ties with Pinetree as my favorite catalogs to actually order from. There's lots of variety for those of us who want to grow something unusual. Added benefits, these catalogs are full of the beautiful artwork of Mary Azarian and have recipes for using the foods you grow. I like that this is a family owned business, although it's not the only catalog that is worthwhile thriving small business. They also offer variety packs of vegetables.

Seeds of Change - organic and heirloom seeds

Territorial Seed Company - a nice full catalog with lots of information on how much to plant and how to grow it.

Johnny's Selected Seeds - another company that offers a variety of heirloom and/or organic choices.

Richter's - probably your largest selection for herbs, common or rare

Select Seeds - for heirloom flowers

White Flower Farm - I've never had the opportunity to actually order from this catalog but it's a beautiful catalog with lots of eye candy.

I've probably missed a few, but this is more then enough to get you started. You can visit these catalogs online or take a few minutes to order their free catalogs delivered to your home. They might not arrive until February, but I'm betting you'll still need a shot of green in your life by then.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

¿Usted habla español? Parlez-vous français ?

You don't? Me neither.

Outdoor Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh

I’m sitting in Starbucks this morning. Er, this afternoon for everyone else. For me it’s my morning. I don’t usually go to Starbucks in the mor...this early in the day, it’s more of a night time thing for me, but I woke up with an overwhelming urge to write and there were no quiet rooms at home to write in. Not that Starbucks is quiet. But the noise isn’t my noise. I don’t need to respond to it.

Although, that said, I have been paying attention to it. I’m sitting here at a small table by the wall of windows that make up the front of the coffee house. The windows are completely steamed over. The windows are steamed over most of the winter and I love that about them, although I’m sure it’s a lot of work for the employees and I noticed just now, glancing at them, that the sills have all become warped and are pulling up because of it. But it’s so inviting, walking up to those steamy windows with the feeling that once you pass through the door in the center of them, you’ll be entering a different world and the real world outside will fade away for just a little while.

I’ve been sitting here watching the customers come and go. Our Starbucks sits at the edge of a long supermarket anchored strip mall at the very edge of town before the highway shoots out across open high desert. So at any given time the customers are a mix of both locals and out-of-towners. It’s usually easy to tell which is which. For one thing, this is a small enough town for me to recognize the faces of many locals even if I don’t know all of them personally. But even if the face is unknown, the clothing, the mannerisms, the nods to other familiar people usually give someone away as a local. Flannel shirts are a dead give away that someone lives in the mountains and isn't just passing through. I wonder what the travelers think of our little town? Sometimes I pretend I’m traveling through and I see this area through new and unfamiliar eyes. Mostly I think I’d wonder what people do for a living out here in the middle of nowhere!

I didn’t come here to people watch though. I came here to to write, and to pretend that I’m sitting somewhere undefined, ambiguous, somehere that could be anywhere. Maybe I’m in Susanville, maybe I’m in San Diego just down the road from where the kids live, maybe I’m in London just off Leceister Square. That’s one good thing about chain establishments - when you enter them, you could be at one of thousands of different pinpoints on a map. It’s a way to get that sense of free floating that sometimes comes with travel, without having to pay for the gas mileage.

Specifically I came to write not about sitting here at Starbucks, but about sitting at our local Mexican restaurant the other day. A few days ago I stopped there between the lunch and dinner hour and spent an hour or so eating tortillas and pico de gallo, and reading. There were only a couple other customers, so most of the time the owners/waiters lounged over by the counter chatting quietly in Spanish. In the background a Hispanic radio station played Mexican music. Probably because the book I was reading was set in Paris, sitting there surrounded by the sounds of an unfamiliar language (well, mostly unfamiliar, I know enough Spanish to pick out words here and there), I was suddenly reminded of sitting outside at a Starbucks in Paris.

And no, I didn’t go all the way to Paris just to go to Starbucks. It was sort of a necessary stop - William was using their restroom and to be polite and have something to do while I was waiting, I ordered a drink and sat down on one of the cafe chairs scattered along the sidewalk. I remember sitting there, relaxed, surrounded by people speaking French. A New York Times lay spread across the table next to me. A few minutes actually went by before I thought.... New York Times?..... that’s written in English! I grabbed the newspaper and spent a happy fifteen minutes reading it just for the sheer pleasure of being able to understand the words on the page. I’d been doing amazingly well for someone who didn’t know any French at all, figuring out signs, menus, and metro maps but, still, it was comforting to find a tiny bit of familiarity in an unfamiliar place.

But that’s not the point I was going to make either. What I wanted to say is how comfortable I felt sitting there on that French sidewalk, listening to the sounds of an unfamiliar language spoken all around me. And how happy I felt the other day, sitting in that Mexican restaurant with the only voices again an unfamiliar language. It made me realize how much I enjoy new situations and people. How easy it is for me to “When in Rome....”

Now my husband's response is completely different. New situations make him nervous and uncomfortable. He’s afraid of not understanding the rules, not being understood, being lost. He’s happiest when he’s got a big map and a well detailed itinerary and even better if he’s in a place or environment that he’s visited a dozen times beforehand. Although he might enjoy a new experience later, when he was reminiscing, in the moment he’d more likely feel as much nervous as excited. On the other hand I might be initially nervous in a new situation, but usually it doesn't take long for me to relaxed.

I wonder why this is. I know there are two types of people in the way we respond chemically/hormonally to risks. People who are thrill seekers feel heightened happiness in dangerous situations. People who dislike risk taking feel fear and anxiety in the same situations. I’ve always thought of myself as the latter. Skydiving? No thank you. Fast driving? I don't think so. Maybe there’s a difference between a person's physical response to danger and their response to something simply unfamiliar.

It’s not like I’m completely fearless. When we went overseas, we only planned to visit the UK and I decided to wait and see if we would go to Paris as well once we got our feet wet in England (which, of course, I did both figuratively and literally). Partly because just before we left on our trip,the news was full of rioting in the streets of Paris. Partly because the idea of going to to a country where I spoke or read not a word was a paralyzing, overwhelming thought. If it hadn’t been for the lure of the Louvre for me and the Eiffel Tower for William, I probably wouldn’t have considered it at all. As it was, it wasn’t until we’d managed to make our way around London that I finally felt we had graduated to the level where we could take on a brand new culture.

It turns out that one can communicate quite a bit without sharing a language. As reassuring as that is, I think part of the pleasure of sitting in a restaurant, even better, a restaurant where no one speaks a familiar word, is that it allows one to be inside a scene but separate from it at the same time. It’s like watching a movie but with the bonus of actually being the protaganist. You don’t just see and hear the scene, you also taste it, smell it, feel it. But you’re set outside of it just enough to enjoy it not as part of yourself but almost as an entity in and of itself. It’s the same thing as when you see through the eyes of a child as they see or discover something for the first time, or when you realize another person has suddenly had a reality shift and suddenly sees something from a new point of view. It's as if life pops into 3-D when you didn’t even realize you were viewing it on a flat screen.

It might seem like I'm contradicting myself when I say that new experiences are both relaxing and exciting at the same time. There's a term used a lot relating to infants - quiet alertness. It's the state at which a baby or small child is calm but conscious of the world about them. It's the best state of being for them to interact with other people and learn new skills. Perhaps when adults who have benefited from this type of emotional state in their past find themselves in a place that's unthreatening but unfamiliar,they can access this state of "quiet alertness" again. In any case, whether I can make sense of the experience or not, it doesn't stop me from enjoying the ambience of someplace full of new sounds, new sights, and hopefully good food and drink.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Lately I've gotten a lot of interupted sleep. I mean, not that I've gotten a lot of sleep, but that the sleep I've gotten has been interupted a lot, broken up into segments. I suspect it's making me a tad cranky, but it has been interupted in the middle of some interesting dreams, a few sequences which I've remembered long enough to take them out and examine them a bit.

In one dream my husband and I were staying in a motel above a pub or bar in Paris. Jeff had just announced we were going to a concert somewhere that night and we needed to go up to our room to change..... when the phone rang and woke me up. I was bummed because I really would have rather still been on that night out in Paris then in the morning I woke up into. Not psychologically deep perhaps, but nice to know I have plans that include my hubby in them. Lately, between work and kids, we don't get to spend much time together.

The other night I dreamed I was standing outside my home, which wasn't the home I actually live in, but in the dream it felt like my house. I was feeling all stressed out and had stepped outside to take a break from things. The view was of a huge swamp just beyond the back yard. As I was looking at it I noticed that although it was indeed sort of swampy, it wasn't completely stagnant. It was flowing, albeit slowly. And it was rather pretty. I decided maybe I shouldn't feel depressed with such a pretty scene I could stand outside and enjoy........
hmmm, I guess I don't work real hard for complex symbolism. Methinks I've been feeling a bit "bogged down", eh?

The dream went on from there. I decided to walk around my property and see what else I could see. I went up over a hill and from the top of it I realized my overlooked a small bay. The view included a couple other homes, a few docks and boats. The water was unusually clear and turquoise blue, like tropical waters. As I stood and enjoyed the new discovery that I was so close to the ocean, I realized that there were whales playing in the water. Killer whales. A few large ones, some smaller younger ones. They swam right near the shore and were very clear from above. They swam, swirled, sometimes they leaped into the air and splashed back down into the water. After a few minutes they started to move out into deeper water and soon they were gone. I didn't feel disappointed. I just stood there happy at having had the opportunity to witness such a scene.... and then family noises intruded and I woke up. Perhaps I was telling myself that I wasn't stuck with one way of looking at things, that if I just walked around my territory a bit I'd find some different scenery, something amazing, something like the ocean, that I loved. Maybe I was telling myself to get to higher ground so I could have a bigger perspective on things. I guess I don't think I'm out of options yet.

My favorite recent dream though was of a different house, although in the dream it was my home. It wasn't anything like the house I really live in. I often dream of houses that are nothing like my real house. Usually they are large and my family only livez in a portion of them. Almost always, although it's not always the main focus of the dream, I'm aware there's a part of the house that frightens me and that I try to avoid. Sometimes it's a door although other times it's an area - a basement, the attic, or a crawl space. Despite that, I generally have positive feelings about these house dreams. (It's interesting to note that I once lived in a house with a haunted crawl space. I've also lived in houses with creepy basements.)

In my most recent dream, I was in a house - my house. I was just doing ordinary stuff - cleaning, checking on the kids. Stuff like that. I kept passing this door that was "the door" - the one that frightened me. I was just trying to get things done but in the background I kept hearing sounds from beyond the door, clearly made to try to frighten me.

Finally, after passing down a hall by the door a half dozen times or so, hearing the sounds, I decided I had had enough. Without having planned to, without realizing I was going to, I turned around, took hold of the door knob, flung open the door, flipped on the light, and started down the steps. (apparently this scary place was in the basement) The scary thing, perhaps it was just a person, maybe it was a monster, saw me coming, and I could see it sort of hunched over waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs and a little bit out in the room below. It started making more and more noise, upping the ante. And I was terrified. Completely terrified.

But more then I was terrified, I was fed up. I was sick and tired of being frightened and I was mad. So I kept going down the steps, yelling at whatever it was below me, determined I was going to confront the damn thing and end this nonstop fear of the unknown once and for all.....

at this point my husband shook me awake. Apparently I'd been shouting out in my sleep what I had been shouting in the dream, and I'd scared the crap out of him! He thought he was doing me a favor, waking me from a nightmare. To be honest, I was actually sort of annoyed at him. I had been so close to finally ending the fear. Whether I would have been gulped down by a monster or whether I would have slapped the shit out of it and sent it packing, who knows. But I was finally gonna get rid of the it, confront it, run it from my home.

Okay, so you're asking yourself - what's to LIKE about a dream like that!? Because yeah, it was really frightening. When my husband woke me up, my heart was pounding and I could feel the adrenalin of what I had been about to do racing through my body. You'd think I would have turned on the light or gotten out of bed or tried to avoid falling back to sleep after that. My husband did, and he hadn't even been there, in the dream.

But I just turned back over, pulled up the covers and laid there, smiling in the dark. I felt good. Scared as I might have been, like the Scoobies, I hadn't let the things that go bump in the night, vampires or zombies or in this case, the demons in the dark corners of my own mind, scare me from taking them on. I had been ready to kick some psychological ass! The last thing I remember thinking before I drifted off to sleep again was - "It's about time."

I guess I'm busy cleaning house in more ways then just the physical.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Finally Finished First Book of the Year

Remember that list of literary resolutions I made last week? There was one about reading at least a book a week. Of course it was a good idea to start out the year with a book that was 870 pages long, while having three babies in the house to slow me down. That's why I finally finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on January 12. It wasn't hard. I mean, really, sleep is a highly overrated activity.

I'm torn. I want to jump right into the sixth Harry Potter book. I mean, that one is only 652 pages long. And I have two full days (and nights) in order to finish it by the end of the second week of the year. No problemo.


I also want to grab up Blame it on Paris by Laura Florand. I read an interview about it over on Faster the Kudzu a while ago and have been sort of obsessed with finding it ever since. And happy, happy, joy, joy, my order with it just arrived in the mail. Y'know, honest, if I go to bed right now, I think Blame it on Paris is gonna be the book that comes with me. All 383 pages of it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

A news article caught my eye about the documentary An Inconvenient Truth being banned in a Washington state school district after complaints from a parent that the information is skewed, and then quoting the Bible as an opposing view. The parent's name is.... are you ready for this?......


Yep. Frosty. He also believes that the earth is only 14,000 years old. Sheesh, I've got dust bunnies that are almost a thousand years old!

But, Frosty!? Methinks this guy sees the possibility of global warning as a personal threat.

William says he's obviously afraid he'll lose his top hat, his corncob pipe, and his two eyes made out of coal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Random late night firings in my brain

I hate when this happens. I sit down to write a blog at night and what seemed so witty and philosophical just an hour or so ago suddenly seems.... what was I gonna say again? My brain gets all sleepy ahead of me, before my pajamas are on or my eyes are closed or my body is willing to go to bed. And I question my ability to spell much less make some critical or inspiring point on a subject matter.

Still, even a brain tired post is better then no post, yes?

Tonight I want to talk about a few things I've read on other blogs.... no, wait.

First I want to tell you about a commercial that was just on the television. It's for gum. I don't know what kind of gum. Old people's gum apparently. Because it shows these two old people in a car. You see them through the glass, it's raining so they're a bit blurry and hidden, but you can still tell that they're kissing. I guess the point is that no matter how old you are, with dentures and what not, you can still have kissable fresh breath after using this gum? Or maybe it's a commerical for denture creme. I'm really, really bad at product identification.

Whether gum or denture creme, clearly this commercial is supposed to appeal to someone my age. Someone OLD. (see yesterday's post where I turn OLD) It can't have been made to appeal to younger people because younger people either dismiss old people as unimportant or they're afraid of us. So, us old folks, we're supposed to like this commercial? Because, I don't. I feel angry at it. I see it and think - so, we can't just grow older and comfy in our old bodies anymore? Noooo, we're supposed to still be worried about being sexy and hip and desirable. The commercial annoys me. It doesn't inspire me to buy their product so I too can kiss in a car. It inspires me to flip the bird at my television set.

Okay, I'll stop channeling a crabby old bat.


Over on Crazy Aunt Purl, a post a few days ago, she talks about a plan to avoid purchasing nonessentials for three months as a way to pay off some longstanding debt. It's surprising how many places and people I'm bumping into with a parallel idea of sorts. Perhaps it's just an annual tradition and I've not noticed it before this. I came to a similar conclusion about a week or so ago. Not quite as grand as abstaining from all nonessential purchases, my thought was to simply cut down on how many of them I make.

For example, for some time now I've been averaging a Starbucks purchase a day. At least. If you count in the number of times I buy a coffee for both myself and my hubby, I'm sure we average more then a latte a day. I then figured out that just one latte a day (grande, soy) adds up to $1460 a year!!!! No wonder Starbucks is such a successful company. And I'm not even considered a heavy consumer, if you can believe that. A friend of mine, she mentioned that her son averages two frappuccinos a day. You do the math.

This is insane, especially since at least a third of the time I'm not even sure I really want or need a Starbucks but I still go and purchase it just in case I later regret going home without one. I decided that if I just cut down to one or even two Starbucks a week, I could still enjoy the treat, the aromatic, cultural experience of the coffee house, and yet save myself about a thousand dollars that I could then use to do something even more fun then caffeine - like, say, a plane ticket someplace far away or even exotic. Ditto for dining out. If I cut out half the number of times I eat out instead of cooking at home, I could pay for a second plane ticket and bring my hubby along on the trip!


Over on Mad Organica, Madness Rivera is having a crisis over what direction to take in her life this year. It's definitely the time of year for this sort of thing, isn't it. All us women trying to angst out all the major questions in life because it's the start of a new year. We haven't had time yet to realize we'll all just muddle through this one just like we did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that... Not that some of us won't reach new goals. I'm not being pessimistic. Just realistic - life is mostly about muddling through. I'm old now so I can say things like this with the experience and wisdom of a half a century behind me.

Of course it's also true that at fifty years of age I'm still trying to find my own direction, still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. But this year, because I'm now old and wise remember, so far I've managed to skip over a lot of the angsting process. As soon as I realize I'm doing it, I start to feel a bit silly. I find myself thinking - I don't have time for this! - and then I find something more productive to do instead. Maybe not something important, but at least in some small way productive. I might as well have a clean kitchen sink or folded clothes while I work out the greater mysteries of my purpose here on this planet.


I've been reduced to turning to The Weather Channel while I wrap up this post and get ready to go off to bed. I've got the sound turned low and I'm not really watching it, except that they keep showing people talking while standing out in the snow. The snowflakes catch my attention and each time I take a quick look, the words on the bottom of the screen announce the person is standing some place different - Kalama, WA or New York City or Helsinki. Why is it snowing everywhere but here?! We've had, accumulatively, about an inch of snow ALL SEASON.

I know some of you are now talking to me through your computer monitors, offering to switch places with me from some snowbound other place. Sorry. It's always greener on the other side of the fence. Er..... whiter?

I just went outside. Rosie was standing by the front door whining. Little dog means little bladder. Anyway, it was so cold when I took her out there a few hours ago that I remembered to grab a blanket to wrap myself up in before I took her out this time. I was still cold. According to the weather channel we're supposed to be having snow AT THIS VERY MOMENT. We're not. It's cold because there's no cloud cover. The sky is black and the stars are twinkling overhead and the dry grass is sparkly and crunchy with frost underfoot.


This new heater, I'm adjusting to it but it still feels odd to have such a warm house. And by warm, I don't mean "grandma's house warm". Have any of you shared that experience? Where you go to visit an older relative - say your parents or grandparent's house - and they have the house so hot that every half hour of so you have to run outside and drink in deep gasping breaths of fresh air? Well, we don't have the house that hot. In fact the little thermometer we have in the livingroom, which is the warmest room in the house even now, shows the temperature in here is just above 60 degrees. I'm not gonna get up and look at it straight on to read it accurately, but it looks like maybe 62 degrees. In the day it averages about 64 or 65 degrees. The bedrooms are slightly cooler. That's probably still cooler then most of you keep your homes, right?

But compared to our woodstove, it's surrealistically warm. I'm not used to this even temperature thing. I'm used to it being warm when the fire is being stoked, and waking up or walking into a house that's chilly until one starts a new fire. I'm used to it being a lot colder in the bedrooms. I'm used to having a sense of whether it's warm or cold outside by how the house feels inside. Part of me likes this new indulgent lifestyle of a warm house. Another part of me feels uncomfortable with the ease of it.

I still miss the quiet of the woodstove. And the smell of a fire. I miss the type of warmth a woodstove gives off when it's been made properly - not sure how to describe the difference but those of you who have ever heated with wood before know what I mean. One thing I don't miss is the dirt and mess of a daily fire. No more wood chips and ash to sweep up every day around the woodstove.

Well gee, look at that - it's now the wee hours of the morning. Where does time go when one is rambling on about nothing terribly important? Guess it's time to say goodnight.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Guess who had a birthday today. Me. And not just any birthday. I had the big 5-0!

Was it a nice birthday? Yeah, as birthdays go for us older folks. Presents? Not so much. I went out to dinner with a friend last night and when I came home the family was all scurrying around and whispering and then they "surprised me" (in part because it wasn't yet my birthday yesterday) with cake, ice cream, cards, flowers and chocolates - all, I suspect, purchased just before I got home at the only store still open in town, the local Safeway. Hubby said it was really just the "warm up" to the real gifts today. Uhm, there weren't any gifts today. But I did get taken out to a very nice lunch.

More important then gifts, I was remembered. My kids all called me. Assorted friends and relatives all called me. Cards trickled in both in the mail and in my e-mail. My cell phone was ringing off the hook all day. That was nice. Presents? I'm pretty good at buying those for myself. But calling myself on the phone - just doesn't have the same warm fuzzy as it does if someone else calls me.

Tonight was less happy unfortunately. Noel and the grandkids are still here. This evening Noel, William, and two of the grandkids went off gallivanting about town. Garret stayed home with Grammy and Papa. He didn't seem to be his ordinarily busy, smiley, troublemaker self. He was sad, just wanted to lay in Papa's arms. As did a few cats. Here's Sad Gar-Bear. And a few cats.

To make a long story short, leaving out all the medical info, which might be TMI, I decided maybe a trip to the emergency room was in order. So the other kids stayed with Papa and William while Noel and I took Garret to our local ER. It's never fun to go to the ER, but at least a small town ER is a much easier and quicker event then going to a big city ER.

The poor kid was poked, prodded, examined, and poked some more. Not happy about it would be an understatement. But it turned out to be the right decision and two hours later, with three different antibiotics and two different pain medicines in him, he was already feeling a bit better by the time we got home. Tired, but better. Here's a Slightly Happy Gar-Bear. As well as a Happy Nonny. Nonny is always happy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

My cabinet and wall

A long, long while ago I was posting about what is hopefully only the first step in a repainting/redecorating of the front rooms. I promised photos and I'm finally supplying them.
Here is what the wall looked like before I started:

Dang! I can't even remember it looking like this anymore!

And here is my new glass fronted cabinet and the painted wall:

It's not a large space, but it took me almost a week of work to get it all done! That's counting a massive clean out and moving of what was originally against the wall. It's still not perfect but I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

The edge of the wall to the right has no trim on it. It ends there where the woodstove alcove is now. But since we have the new heater installed and the roof has been sealed over where the stove chimney pipe used to be, this summer we'll take the woodstove out completely and turn that alcove back into a coat closet. The green tin of baskets have been rearranged by a toddler, they usually are snug against the cabinet. Someone put a gouge in the new brown paint with the old door. Oh, you can also see a tiny bit of the new door.

Right now the cabinet is mostly full of teddy bears. They're only put out during the winter holidays. Eventually I'll put the bears away and I plan to display my flower fairy and witch doll collections in the cabinet. The dark wall ended up being a great backdrop for the cream colored cabinet, doncha think? I hope to paint the rest of the front room walls a lighter sage green.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I need more hours in my day

More days in my week, more weeks in my month, more... well, you get the idea.

Remember those to-do lists I mentioned? To be honest - resolutions. I felt so inspired when I made them. But already, I'm not doing so well.

The first one to tackle was a To-Do-Today list, "today" meaning yesterday. And did I get everything on my list done? Nope. I got about half of it done. I also had a To-Do-Saturday list on the back of yesterday's To-Do-List, which is today's list. There wasn't much on the To-Do-Saturday list, so I didn't feel too bad about not finishing yesterday's list, thinking I could catch up on it today. Or rather, yesterday. Which was Saturday. And I just scratched out a few things on the Friday and Saturday lists and wrote them back down on the To-Do-Today Sunday list. Which is today now. But I probably won't do them today either. Not all of them anyway. Are you confused enough yet? And more importantly, did I get anything on the Saturday list done on Saturday?

Nope. I didn't do anything else on Friday's list, didn't do anything at all on Saturday's list. Well, perhaps I did. I had "read more HP" on the list, and I've done that. "Write my blog" - did that too. Three of them in fact. I moved "Take down the tree" to Sunday's list.

The problem - a lot of other things came up that pushed the things I'd written down off to the side. And then there's that whole "I'll just sit down for a second" thing, where a second becomes two seconds, and then a minute, and then two or five or forty five minutes.

If I can't even finish a daily to-do list, it's not looking too good for my longer term lists though, is it? But I'm not giving up. Even if I only manage to finish half of everything on every list, it's still a lot more accomplished then nothing!

I'm only on page 467 of 870 pages in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is the first book of the year. If I stick to my resolution of a book a week this year, I've only got two more days to read... let's see... 870 minus 467...... 403 pages! Gulp. I'm gonna try. And if I don't manage, I'm gonna count it as two books because, come on, 870 pages is a long book!

Tomorrow everyone has plans out of the house except me. Noel and the kids went off tonight for an errand and an overnight visit and won't be home until some time tomorrow. Jeff is taking William and some of his buddies snowboarding for the day. (William got his cast off only this Wednesday and he can't wait for another opportunity to...uhm... NOT break it this time.) The point here is that for at least some of the day, I might actually have the house all to myself!!! This is usually a treat but it's even more appealing an opportunity than usual after having the house filled to overflowing with family and guests for the last two weeks. Not that an overflowing house isn't a treat as well of course but there's delight in solitude as much as there's pleasure in the company of others.

I could spend the time catching up on those to-do lists but it's more likely I'll stay in bed or lounge with my laptop and enjoy indulging in sloth and quiet. Maybe I'll read all night and sleep the morning away. That would sort of be doing both - finishing Harry Potter is on my to-do list.

Speaking of Harry Potter, is it just my imagination, or has others noticed that there seems to be a lot more Harry Potter around? At this very moment, as I'm typing, I'm watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I just finished watching some BBC shows and stumbled on the movie on the Disney Channel. It seems like it's been on one channel or another for over a week now. And I'm noticing talk of the next movie coming out and rumors of when the last book will be published. In case you didn't know yet, the last book now has a title - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wonder what a Hallow means in this context? I'm thinking it's a place.
Anyhoo, it just seems like Harry Potter fever seems to be on the rise lately.

That's about it. Just wanted to whine about being behind already. Whine, whine, whine. Anyone got any cheese? Nah, never mind. I'm cheerfully behind at this point.

Off to get my tea and page 468. 'Night.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Holiday Photos #19

I haven't done a Holiday Photo post for awhile. This isn't an amazingly scenic batch, but I'm working my way through them in chronological order. What you can't see in these photos is how much fun we had discovering Edinburgh. Who knew the Scots were such witty folk! And there was so many different things to see. These photos are mostly small scenes. We road the bus a lot in Edinburgh and we passed so many shops, spots, intriguing areas and roads that if we'd had more time, we would have spent time discovering them in more detail. There always seemed to be something just around the corner, or down a close. A close you say? Well, I don't have a photo of one here yet, but I'll tell you more about a close in the next round or two of pictures.

Here's a shot of yet another gothic steeple, this one from somewhere in the park that ran along the edge of the oldest part of the city. I'm afraid I never caught the name of the park. Remember, you can click on any of the photos to see the larger image.

It also rained a lot while we were in Edinburgh. In fact, the only blue skies we saw there were on the morning we left. Sheesh. So it wasn't good weather for photo taking.

Frustratingly, I can't remember exactly where I took this photo. Somewhere in the city. These beautiful celtic crosses were all over the UK.

I think this was a pub. Just liked the sign.

I liked these silly creative creatures. At the time I took the photo, I didn't yet understand what they were - maybe an art supply store? But now I can see a bit of the sign in the top left hand corner of the photo, and of course! - it was the entrance to the information office for the Fringe. Later we learned that each August Edinburgh hosts a huge city wide festival called Fringe that celebrates art, literature, theatre, and all manner of street fun. I'd love to go back for the craziness some year.

Since then I've discovered that not only does Edinburgh have a fringe, I'm kinda assuming the orginal one, but there are fringe festivals all over the world. Where have I been living?! How come I didn't know about this before? I wanna go! Do we have any fringes out here on the West Coast?

Here is William posing with another friend. Not sure who he is. He looks more British then Scottish though, doncha think? He was just outside a pub or something. But, he was a standing there, so William had to pose with him.

Another celtic cross.

This was in the cobblestones on The Royal Mile, the "main street" of Edinburgh. I just looked for info on it and discovered it's called The Heart of Midlothian.

Like I said, not much in this batch of photos. But tomorrow I'll put up another round of Edinburgh art cow photos over at Laume's Studio. Today you can go there and check out a post about some knitting woes I've been having. But don't forget to go back tomorrow for the cows. The cows are moooo-vahlous!