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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Different Lives

My son returned to his home yesterday. It was wonderful having him here for the last two weeks. Since he lives on the other side of the country, I don't see him too often. It's good to have him here, he even does some of my projects around the house.

One of the best results of his visit is my lesson in life on the internet. This year, he showed me how to list the blogs that I follow. I had previously kept them in my "favorites", but now they are listed on the right hand side of the screen for all to see.

I've learned that I have very unusual interests. Many of the blogs are written by women who live and work on farms. I find their lives very interesting, sometimes I think I'd like to live on a farm, or on a ranch, or in the mountains, or in the far north. Then I look around and realize that I'm really a "city girl". I don't like driving in the snow, large animals like horses and cows intimidate me. At times I envy these women and their lives, but I really don't think I could handle it, but I do admire them. I guess, even though the grass is always greener on the other side, we naturally find our place in life. I'm sure they would find my quiet life difficult after a few days.

While I love the outdoors, I even tried life in the country, but I missed NYC and moved to the suburbs. It's close enough so I can get into NYC. If I could afford it, I'd live in Manhattan where you rarely see a tree or mountain and the occasional snow turns black in a day and the biggest animal you see is the occasional police horse or great dane dog.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's my anniversary

Happy New Year to all!

Two years ago today I posted my first blog. I never thought I'd still be writing two years later. I thought it would be like so many other things I've tried - lots of fun and interest in the beginning, then indifference as time goes by.

For my part, I've enjoyed writing every word although sometimes I struggled to find something interesting to share. I hope you've enjoyed it too.

I hope to keep writing for many years to come.

Have a great 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thank You Joan Rivers

A few years ago I started watching QVC. When I saw that Joan Rivers would be there selling her jewelry I decided to tune in. I've always enjoyed her comedy, at least it would be an enjoyable hour.

Then they started taking phone calls. Everyone who called said virtually the same thing. The jewelry is beautiful and I always get compliments on whatever I'm wearing. All I could think was that these people should get a life, get real. It's just a necklace or bracelet or watch. Eventually I bought something, then another and another.

One day I was having breakfast at a local restaurant and a strange woman came up to me and complimented me on my beautiful necklace. That was the start. Since then, every time I wear a piece of Joan's jewelry I receive compliments. Now, my friends even look forward to seeing what I am wearing. If they like it, they ask if it's Joan's. My answer is always, "yes".

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family Visits

This past week has been one of visiting with various family members. My son came home last week for a nice long visit.

On Christmas day we went to visit my niece and her husband. Every year she hosts Christmas for her family. She is one of nine children, but some of them live out of the area, so there were only four of her siblings with their spouses and children and grandchildren, along with her mother. They are a very happy family and it's always good to see them.

Today my niece, her daughter and my nephew came from Long Island. I thought they'd arrive around 1:30, but they got here at 4:00 pm. We had a nice dinner in spite of my dropping the ham and spilling the gravy all over me. Fortunately, it never hit the floor, just the gravy. Then, I almost forgot about the potatoes.

I was a little concerned about my niece's daughter since she's 7 years old and there were no other children around. I was afraid she'd get bored. I do have an assortment of coloring books and bought her a gingerbread house to assemble. Her mother and uncle wound up doing most of the work.

The day went very well, even the cats were well behaved. That is until Burnie ate some of the leftover salad with the usual digestive upset. Later, he knocked a pitcher of Half & Half over onto the table so he could have a drink.

Crash, of course, followed me around. Both are napping now, they've had a very busy day. I realized that two cats are definitely more trouble than one seven year old girl.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, year 2008, but it brings back another memory. When I was in high school, I was in the choir. We sang every Sunday at the 10:00 AM Mass, and on Christmas we sang at the Midnight Mass. Yes, we were able to have Midnight Mass back then.

On Christmas Eve, the choir would arrive early, about 10:30 PM and sing until it was time for Mass. It was a wonderful time, the air was cold and crisp. Almost everyone went to Midnight Mass, you would always see someone you knew. At the time I lived within walking distance of church. We would start practicing for Mass about a month before Christmas. We were good.

Every time I hear "O Holy Night" I remember those days. I've had many Christmas Eves since then, they were filled with happy memories too. But there was something special about Midnight Mass.

On that note, have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. I hope you too have very happy memories of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Tunnell

Today Burnie finally gave in to his curiosity. He had ignored the tunnel long enough. He did what Crash still hasn't dared to do.


It's true that she takes food from the tunnel, but that's by sticking her head into a hole in the middle, but she has never gone through the tunnel. But Burnie did. Here he is at the other end and he can't understand what is the big deal.

Doesn't he look comfy? I even rolled the tunnel with him in it, he couldn't care less. If that had been Crash, she would have bolted from the tunnel and been at the other end of the house in less than a second.



Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Christmas Memories

Christmas brings back many memories. Most recently I've been thinking about my years at St. Sylvester School in Brooklyn and our Christmas celebration.



There was always a play, followed by the Nativity scenes. When everything was over, each student would process with his class to the back of the auditorium where our Pastor, Father Smith, would sit and give each child a box of hard candy. The box was the size of a box of Animal Crackers and the candy was varied. There were some peppermint sticks and some filled with either peanut butter or fruit flavored gel.



It's funny what you remember from childhood. Father Smith was reassigned when I was in 4th or 5th grade, and I don't remember who gave us our candy after that, although I do know we got it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comfort

Last week while watching Dennis Basso on QVC, I saw this beautiful faux fur throw and ordered it. It looked so luxurious that I just had to have it. I could just see myself curling up under it on a cold winter's night.

Little did I know someone else would find it as comfy. It arrived this afternoon and as soon as I unpacked it and spread it over the back of the couch so that the wrinkles would smooth out, Burnie jumped up and promptly went to sleep. I tried covering him with it, thinking it would disturb him, but he never moved. He stayed there until dinner time, then he ate and went back to "his" blanket.

I hope he'll let me use it sometime.




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life With Cats

This morning when I got up, I declared it to be, "Be kind to hair and face day" (translation - no blow dryer and no make-up) That way I wouldn't be tempted to go out and I could do some wrapping and baking.



Last night I started the pfefferneuse, so today I rolled them and put them in the oven. When they were done, I started wrapping, then took a break to watch Joan Rivers on QVC and have lunch. Then I went back to my wrapping. Burnie of course had to see what was going on.



I guess he was looking for his Christmas present.

After a little while he decided to take his afternoon nap and left me alone. I was able to wrap a few more presents, then Crash had to "help".


That put an end to my wrapping for a while. It's very hard to wrap presents when a cat is sitting on the tissue paper.
I did manage to bake another batch of cookies without any feline help.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Memories

What is it about Christmas that brings back so many memories, and in my case, all of them good.

Today I was remembering the time when I was about six years old. It was Christmas Eve and like all children, I couldn't sleep. My bed was up against an outside wall of our apartment and I could see the hallway and door of my parents' bedroom from my bed. I heard a noise and opened my eyes just in time to see Santa Clause leaving my parents' room. He was carrying a large bag. Our chimney must have been in my parents' closet.

I kept very quiet and pretended to sleep because everyone knows Santa won't come unless everyone is asleep. The next morning I told anyone who would listen about my discovery. Of course, they were all surprised, they never imagined that the closet held our chimney.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Old Friends

Today I went to a surprise party for a friend from elementary school. It's a milestone birthday. It's always good to see old friends. It's also very hard to realize that we've known each other for so long and share so many memories. We even went to high school together. There was the summer when we were 15 and she started dating the boy who would one day become her husband. We lost track of each other for several years and then through the magic that is the internet, we reconnected. Now it seems that it wasn't so long ago that we were in school.

Then when I was talking with another friend, I saw her brother graduated with a former neighbor who went to the same school as I, only he was a few years behind me. I've got to get in touch with him. I always knew there was something good about him.

When I got home, there was a Christmas from my old boss and my favorite boss. She wrote a short note filling me in on this past year. She's been very busy changing jobs and traveling.

Yes, it's been a good day to reconnect with old friends.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Music

Today a group of us from our community went to lunch and a show in Pennsylvania, specifically in Lancaster County which is Amish country.


Our lunch was a buffet and delicious. There was every kind of food to suit every taste. After lunch we drove to the Living Waters Theater which is a branch of the Sight & Sound Theaters. Our show was called "The Voices of Christmas". They did an assortment of Christmas Carols, and gave background information on some of them.

They did mention something that I had not thought of. It seems that the phrase, "Happy Holidays" comes from the old English, "Happy Holyday". I wonder if the politically correct crowd that wants to eliminate "Merry Christmas" realizes that they are actually wishing us a "Happy Holyday".

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Longwood Gardens

Yesterday our photography club took a roadtrip to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. These gardens were once a working farm owned by Pierre duPont. He transformed the farm into these gardens with fountains and year round displays of flowers, plants and trees.

The Christmas display is wonderful. There were pointsettias everywhere and many decorated trees, some with decorations and ornaments done by children at various schools in the area.

While the flowers were beautiful and like nothing I've seen before, I was disappointed in my work. My subjects were spectacular, but none of my pictures rate a "wow" from me.




This is my favorite picture. All of the plants in the area were filled with these little white flowers. Then I saw a little red. I zoomed in on the plant and saw there was just one little red flower.

We stayed around until it started to get dark. At dusk they light all the trees and it is beautiful. They even arranged several lights in the shape of snowflakes and hung them high in the larger trees. It was quite impressive.
Some of my night photography needs work, but then some of it comes out OK.


They also set up a cranberry "bog" in one of the buildings.

I'm sure it's even better in the Spring and Summer. I can't wait until we do another trip.






Monday, December 8, 2008

Taste

For as long as I can remember, on the day after Thanksgiving, my father would buy the first quart of egg nog of the season. I always looked forward to it. As an adult, I've followed this tradition.

This year, for some reason, I didn't buy my egg nog until this past Sunday. After I put my groceries away I sat down with my long-awaited glass of egg nog. As I took my first sip I let it linger in my mouth so I could savor the flavor.

I don't know why, but it was different from other years. I can't quite describe the difference, but there is one and not a good one. It didn't seem quite as creamy and thick. It is a different brand, but I didn't think that would make such a difference.

Hopefully, that's the problem. I'd hate to think I've lost my taste for egg nog. It's part of my tradition.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Tree






Today while I was decorating the tree I was reminded of four Christmas' ago when I had just moved into my new home. A cousin whose artistic and decorating talents I have always admired went shopping with me and suggested that since my home was new, I should get a new Christmas tree and decorate in a new way. She suggested a color combination of deep red and silver. We also bought some elegant new decorations.

I was all for the idea, I bought different sized ornaments in the colors she suggested. I even tied ribbons on them instead of using ornament hangers. The red ornaments had silver ribbons and the silver had red ribbons. It was supposed to be a beautiful and modern tree.

Then I started to unpack my ornaments. There was the Wise Man on a Camel that my parents bought for our first tree after we got married and the ornaments my husband and I bought for our first tree.

Then there were the yarn dolls I made for my son's first Christmas and the balls with Hummel pictures inside that were given to my younger son for his Baptism. Of course, there were all the ornaments that the boys painted and the ones we collected over the years.



And the ornaments that haved survived from my parents' tree. Ohh, the memories, I couldn't not put them on the tree.


I now have three trees (1 large in the living room, and 1 small in each bedroom) and am thinking about a 4th.

The new ornaments were put on the back of the tree and all my old favorites got honored places in front where I could see them.

Sorry Rita, but happy memories and love take precedence over modernity and sophistication.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Public Apology

I'm writing this tonight as a form of public apology to Burnie, both for the things I've said about him and the things I've done to him. I've often complained, but that's because he's a very curious cat and into everything. He gives the impression that he's not too bright, but I'm beginning to change my opinion of him.

Here's some background on my latest project with him. I'm a great fan of Daisy The Curly Cat. She has a blog (http://daisythecurlycat.blogspot.com/) if you would like to read it. If you can't connect, just copy and paste the link. At least once a week she is dressed in some new outfit, sometimes a fancy hat or a skirt or a shirt. The other day I saw a pretty ruffled collar in red and green and a hat with red antlers that I thought would be fun to put on the cats for Christmas.

Crash wanted no part of it. She wouldn't even let me near her with the collar, not to mention the hat. Burnie was sleeping in a box of books, so I woke him up and put the hat on him.

He doesn't look pleased, but at least I had no trouble putting it on, even when it slid over one eye.



Or both eyes.

Then he let me put the collar on him, again he doesn't look pleased, or is he embarrassed.


I left him like that and he went back to sleep until it was time for his nap on the couch. He is the calmest, gentlest and kindest cat I have ever known. And believe me I've had a lot of cats in the last 40 or so years.




Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Adventures in Decorating

Here it is December 3 and I haven't started my Christmas decorating. This morning I decided that I would start NOW. I retrieved the lights from the garage and surprise, surprise, they worked. I even found the tape to tape them onto the windows (from the inside of course). Then the trouble started.



I got the stepstool, put it in front of the dining room window, walked away for just a minute to get something. Then I realized that I hadn't locked Burnie up and he was already sitting on the top step. Boy, he's fast. I finally got him back on the floor and started taping the lights. I couldn't keep the pieces of tape straight, they kept curling, either around my finger or sealing on the wire before I put the lights against the window. The next problem came when I tried peeling the tape off the wire, my nails were getting in the way. I finally have been able to let me nails grow and I'm not used to doing things with nails. After about a half hour I decided to stop and do the windows tomorrow.



I put some of the other decorations around the house and went out later to get some suction cup hangers for the lights. Of course when I wanted to put some candles out, I discovered that I didn't have enough, so I had to stop and order some.

I did make some progress and hopefully tomorrow will be much easier.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chirp, Chirp

It all started yesterday with a gentle soft chirping every hour or so. Then it became every half hour, then fifteen minutes or so. Since I had heard that some in our community were having trouble with their smoke detectors' batteries, I assumed that was the problem.

I have very high ceilings so I wondered how I could change the battery. First I would have to lock up Burnie, then get on the ladder and check the type of battery, then see if I had a spare. I tried to ignore the chirping and wait until Christmas and have my son take care of it. But after hearing it several times during the night, I decided it couldn't wait. Then I thought the sound was coming from my TV remote. I took the remote to the other end of the house, but it never chirped. It had to be the smoke detector. Darn.

Later I went to the Clubhouse and while I was there, my pocketbook started chirping. I guess it wasn't the smoke detector after all. Now what could it be? I thought that the only battery operated gadget I had with me was the remote for my car keys. I had to listen to the chirping all afternoon.

Since my remote was new, I really couldn't understand why the batery was dying.

I was about to switch key remotes when I saw that I had another battery operated gadget in my pocketbook - my cell phone. I took it out of my pocketbook and saw that the battery was low, then it chirped confirming that this was the culprit. I'm charging the battery now and all is quiet.

Ahh, the sweet sound of silence.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bright Stars

Tonight when I went out to get the mail I looked up at the sky and saw two very bright stars and a crescent moon. I immediately went to Google to check it out and searched "night sky". This sent me to Fox News', "Australians See Smiley Face in Night Sky". It's quite an interesting article.

The stars are Venus and Jupiter, and of course, the crescent is the moon. They were the brightest lights in the sky.


If, however, we were down under in Australia, they would have looked like a smile. Instead, because we're on the other side of the equator, if you bend your head to the right, you see a frown.