If this doesn’t perfectly sum up the spirit of Christmas, I’m sure I can’t imagine what does. I’m also including the lovely portrait of Lil which Bill sent to me. It arrived — actually ARRIVED — via U.S. Postal Service. A Christmas miracle?
Lil is beautiful and so is Bill and so is Evil Squirrel, his alter-ego. Walt Kelley is smiling down from somewhere.
Ah, the holidays. Oh the joys of shopping. All I can say is ‘THANK YOU ONLINE WORLD” because I no longer need to go to the mall for my holiday shopping. It gets delivered to my door and usually, it’s on time and in the same number of pieces it started out its journey. Sometimes, change is good.
Originally posted on Stuff my dog taught me:
I know that everything in your store has been designed to fit and flatter my teenage daughters and that my presence is an unappreciated reminder that you will all someday sacrifice beauty for comfortable footwear. However, as the woman with the VISA, I have no choice but to lurk around the racks and there will be occasions when verbal communication between you and I will be unavoidable.
To reduce my stress levels as well as yours I plea with you to consider lowering the music volume and perhaps turning up the lighting. I could potentially lip read over the pounding, highly-synthesized rhythm, if only there was enough light for me to make out your facial features. Alternatively, I could have my children verbally guide me through the store if I could make out their voices over the dance-party “mash up” that is playing at a stadium-concert…
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This week, I thought I’d post some of the pictures I’ve taken around the house. Decorations. Lights. Our tiny little Christmas tree from L.L. Bean. I hope you enjoy them.
Tomorrow, it’s time to start the wrapping!
Since this is Thanksgiving in the USA this week, I thought I would celebrate all week. There is only one question this week and here it is. I haven’t made a list like this in a long time. I used to do it fairly frequently. I hope you want to play along!
List at least 50 Things You Enjoy. Here are some categories to inspire your thinking.
- Web Sites
- Famous lines from books/movies.
I have too many things to list individually and too many categories. Or not enough. Sometimes there is a thin line between the two.
I’ve had to give some thought to this to see if I could stay focused on important stuff and not end up with a list full of trivia.
Stuff I Do
- Laughing with people I love (You know who you are and I couldn’t live, wouldn’t want to live, without you.)
- Listening to audiobooks
- Taking pictures
- Hanging out with dogs
- Movies and television and anything Star Trek, or with horses.
- Japanese food and Wanakura
- Chinese food
- Gretchen Archer
- James Lee Burke
- Kim Harrison
- Jim Butcher
- Jasper Fforde
- Douglas Adams
- And many others, too numerous to name!
Let Music Fill the Air!
- Folk music
- Country music
- Classical music, especially orchestral and piano
- The Beatles
- Tom Paxton
- Judy Collins
- Credence Clearwater Revival
- Really, that’s just the tip of a huge iceberg of music.
- Crystallized ginger
- Salty, crunchy things
- Spicy things
- Hot pepper jelly
- English muffins
- And more and more and more!
- Pretty much anything with fur or feathers!
- Science fiction
- Urban fantasy
- Anything that makes me laugh
- Police procedurals
- Time travel
Oops, out of room. You see what I mean? But it could also be just a few things … because I like reading and that covers all the genres, authors, audiobooks, and everything else. There are so many way to do this.
Rather than saying I love books or reading, I could say I love that little crackle a brand new books makes when you first open in and that whiff of printer’s ink.
I should mention that not only do I love taking pictures, but I love cameras. And autumn, because that’s my favorite time to take pictures.
I could start naming all the people I love, one at a time and probably run out of room before I got to anything else. Or start listing favorite movies and TV shows. I never even got to them and I have a whole bunch of movies and shows I love.
There is a lot to love in this world of ours, in this period of time we call life. I’m glad to still be here, on this earth, in this world, with all of you.
Shaken and Stirred – What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco?
Once a year, half the population of the Blackstone Valley dusts off their driver’s licenses, takes the old buggy out of storage, and heads for downtown Uxbridge. It’s the day before Thanksgiving … and what the weather people call “a wintry mix” is plopping from above.
The nasty, slushy, sloppy mix of ice and snow falling from the skies is the perfect finishing touch. Over all, when I think “holiday,” I think “expensive” and “work.” Sorry for my lack of spirit, but I think I’m one holiday meal over the line. Fortunately, the kids are doing almost all the cooking this year. If if were up to me, I’d send out for pizza, if anyone was open and delivering. Which they aren’t.
Fancy cooking has fallen victim to the years and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I used to make special dishes for the holiday. I have a bread pudding recipe to die for. Literally. It almost killed a guest one year when, despite active diabetes, he went berserk and couldn’t stop eating it. It’s that good.
I continue to make my cranberry-orange relish and cornbread. The relish is made entirely in a food processor. No one could call it complicated, but it’s a favorite. The cornbread is delicious, but ridiculously easy. It turns out that many fancy recipes are no better than simple ones. And not more popular, either. A lot of people prefer simpler food.
If you do make fancy food, you can watch hours — sometimes days — of kitchen prep vanish in a few minutes, sometimes seconds. It can be a bit disheartening. I used to wonder if anyone noticed what they were eating or if they cared.
I used to make stuffed cabbage. It was as good as anything you could get in a New York deli or restaurant. The recipe took me years to perfect and its preparation was a multi-day event. It wasn’t difficult to make, per se. No special genius required. You merely need to be willing to do everything.
The secret to gourmet food is not skipping steps. Not taking short cuts. Not skimping on rich, expensive, caloric, high-cholesterol ingredients. You have to use the heavy cream; milk doesn’t produce the same results. Do use the entire dozen eggs, the whole pound of butter. Don’t cut back on sugar.
I can’t eat that way anymore and neither can most of us. Or shouldn’t. I’d like to keep my new heart valve for a few years.
So, other than wrapping almost the entire turkey in bacon (it’s just once a year, after all), it’s a pretty simple — large — meal. Turkey. Cranberry relish. Cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Veggies. Hot cornbread. Pies for dessert. No one had time to bake all the pies this year. Usually we have a pre-Thanksgiving baking frenzy, but this year, we bought frozen apple, mince, and pumpkin, leaving only custard to make from scratch tomorrow. You can’t buy good custard pie.
Oh, nearly forgot. Mashed potatoes. Mashed sweet potatoes. Gravy. We forgot to buy cider to drink with the meal. It’s too horrible outside to go back to the store and the roads are a parking lot. All the last-minute shoppers are out there.
I have no idea what we’ll serve in the way of drinks. Oops.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Whatever you eat, have fun. No fighting at the table.
I got tapped by Doobster at Mindful Digressions (who was tapped by Willow over at Willow’s Corner) to participate in a “blog hop” called “Holiday Touring.” A blogger chooses a holiday, then poses 3 questions to 2 other selected bloggers. The questions are about how, if at all, other bloggers celebrate that particular holiday.
Doobster’s holiday was New Year’s Eve. He tapped me and TC Connor over at For What Is Most Valued to carry on the Holiday Touring blog hop by selecting April Fool’s Day. Here are the questions he posed to us:
- What, if any, April Fool’s Day pranks have been pulled on you? Alternatively, what is your favorite April Fool’s Day joke?
- Do you pull pranks or practical jokes on April Fool’s Day? If so, please tell us about some of your best pranks or practical jokes that you have pulled off.
- April Fool’s Day should be a national holiday — yes or no? Defend your position.
And now, without further fanfare, comes a much longer than necessary set of responses to what appear, on the surface, to be ridiculously simple questions.
1) Nobody has ever pulled a prank on me, not on April Fool’s Day or any other time. I think my friends simply aren’t pranksters. Not to mention this has never been a “big” holiday in New England. Its main significance to me is that Garry’s birthday is a few days away.
2) WARNING! Gratuitously long answer coming up!
Israel, where I lived for 9 years, does not celebrate April Fool’s Day … but Purim is (in part) celebrated in a similar manner. Even more so because other than Purim, most Jewish holidays are pretty grim. On Purim, though, Israel TV broadcasts faux newscasts and other funny shows. One year, they showed a hilarious version of “Candid Camera.” It had us in stitches for a week. This was back in the eighties when we only had one Israel TV channel and your alternative was Jordanian, Syrian, or Egyptian television, depending on where you lived.
You had to be there.
It came to pass … 1985 maybe? … I was doing what I did. Writing manuals. In this case, for a hardware/software combination product which read fingerprints. Nowadays, we have iris scanners, so this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal in 1985. Cutting edge technology.
It was Purim (Note: Purim is not a “get out of work” holiday.) The graphic artist and I colluded to produce a parody of the manual I was writing. I wrote the copy, he did the illustrations. I produced a few bound copies, all very hush-hush, to pass around.
Except the boss found out.
Oy. Busted. I figured I should update my résumé and start job hunting. Instead, he thrust a copy of my mock manual at me and said: “Yours?”
Meekly, I said, “Yes sir.”
“Make me a dozen more of these,” he said. “It’s hilarious. I want to give copies to the investors.” I think I still have a copy of it somewhere in a crate in the attic.
3) Should it be a national holiday? I think it IS a national holiday. Our politics are an all-year-round joke. What, you aren’t laughing?
Now it’s time for my to pick a holiday and pass the torch to some unsuspecting blogger who is just sitting around waiting for me to tag him or her for this honor.
I’m spinning the wheel. Spinning, spinning, spinning … slowing … and it’s …
And your holiday is … (tension is mounting … the room is silent and everyone is holding their breath in anticipation) … NEW YEAR’S DAY. An official holiday on which nobody ever seems to know what to do. When I was young and still made parties to which people actually came and everything, I gave an annual New Year’s Day Pig Out because I knew that no one ever had plans on New Year’s Day.
Here are the questions:
1) What do you do on New Year’s Day? Sleep off your hangover? Host a Victorian feast for a few dozen good friends? Nothing?
2) What are your plans for the coming holiday, if any. If you have some, tell me (and the world) what they are. If you have no plans or are, heaven forbid, working … explain how you got yourself into that mess.
3) Does New Year’s Day have special meaning to you? I (for example) became engaged to my husband on January 1, 1990. If it doesn’t have special meaning, say whatever is in your heart. Sharing, as they say at WordPress, is caring.
Note: WordPress doesn’t really mean it. Neither do I.
Today is America’s Independence Day. It celebrates the announcement of the Declaration of Independence, our formal statement to King George and Great Britain that we no longer were willing to retain our status as colonies.
There’s more than a little confusion about which event happened when regarding the Declaration of Independence, so here’s an historical timeline (note that not everyone agrees on this timeline, but it’s close):
JULY 2, 1776: John Adams, a leader for independence, gets the delegates to the first Continental Congress to unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the document as he was known to be the best writer of the group.
JULY 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is ratified. Thus July 4th became the U.S.’s official independence day, although John Adams argued it should be July 2nd, the day the document was ratified (rather than the 4th on which it was signed). But Adams argued about everything.
JULY 4, 1776 through August 2, 1776: Following its ratification on July 4th, the Continental Congress announced the Declaration of Independence. It is distributed and read across the colonies. The process of reading the Declaration — getting the word out — was not instant. In total, it took about a month. By which time a more attractive document displaying all the delegates’ signatures had been produced. In any case, whether or not the colonists had read or heard the document, everyone knew what was happening. Official word took longer than men on horseback going from town to town to tell their friends and family. And of course people talked in pubs. Like they do today, but without Twitter.
JANUARY 1777: The first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence for general distribution appear. By then, the colonies are fully engaged in war and everyone already knows about it.
Jefferson’s original draft, with changes by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Jefferson’s notes of the changes made by Congress, can be viewed at the Library of Congress.
The most famous version of the Declaration, the hand-written signed document which is usually considered official, can be seen at the National Archives in Washington DC. This version was (mostly) signed on August 2, 1776.