Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How odd!

It is amazing what the slightest change in temperature can do.  After having some peculiarly cold weather this autumn, to awaken this morning and have the temperature read in the fifties, it was....well...odd.

The house was so warm, I didn't even turn my heat on this morning, and when I opened the door to let Zorro out for his first run around his kingdom, I pulled the sliding door full open, pulled the screen across the opening and welcomed the morning air into the house.  How odd. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and some years it has been so cold we've actually had snow flurries on the holiday.  How odd, indeed, today is mysteriously so spring like.

Not long ago I ventured out to retrieve the mail, which I tucked under my right arm and instead of heading for the front door, I stopped, bent over and pulled out some very dead, previously frozen, summer annuals. Okay, one handful of dead matter is no big deal.  I will drop it into the recycle bin and that will be that.  How odd.  Not only did I pull one handful of summer flowers, I pulled several. Not only was that invigorating, it was down right enjoyable.  By the time I was done the bin was almost half full, the sidewalks had been cleared of leaning over, wilted, blackened plant matter and I was tempted to get out some lawn tools to start hacking and whacking.  How odd.

About this time I decided enough was enough, after all, some of this foliage should be allowed to decompose and become soil enhancement for next springs plantings.  Besides...it is after all November, the last thing on my mind should be yard work.  As a result, I took a quick turn around the back yard, and delighted in seeing the promise of spring, slowly nudging up through the good, brown earth.  I so enjoy natures delicate, intricate surprises...and delight that they are not odd at all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Time to refresh, replenish, reflect, renew

First of all, I took a few days off from work, daily activities, the Internet, facebook, e-mail and just about everything else. Except of course eating and the essentials of life.  I think I wanted to prove to myself I was not addicted to all the things that occupied my days. Especially the Internet, involving facebook, e-mail, my store, research, and everything else that pleases me when it comes to electronic interaction with my world.

So, for two days I restricted my computer activities for a half an hour, right before I went to bed to check my e-mail and facebook postings.  I've discovered I'm actually capable of surviving without both.  Since my subscription to Lumosity has expired and I cannot afford to renew it for another year, that will be cutting back on computer time as well. Although I've taken up playing the card game Hearts and the rules are slowly coming back.  I'm certainly not good at it at the moment, I think if I had the memory to 'count' the cards I would be much better at the game.

I also (once in a while) visit my farm on the computer game Farmtown, and confess I'm getting kind of  rich playing that, and wish it were real cash in my possession.  However, it is coming to the point I mostly spend my computer time actually 'working'.  Although...I've not a clue why, maybe it's time to move on from that, too.

I think maybe next year might be one of great change.  I feel a strange wind a-blowin'.  I think it's time for moving on.  I confess I get kind of homesick for my hometown, but know I would never be able to stand their winters, although I could get myself quite a home since the housing market is quite different there.  I sometimes think about California, too, but here again, things are not going well there either, what with their water problems, and economic down turn...people, jobs leaving instead of moving there.  And, truth be told I do like the Pacific Northwest, it's been good to me and my family.  Still, I've got this nudging, a pushing if you will, that there is something new out there I've not tried.  I'm eager, excited, scared...I sense a fork in the road...Should I take the one paved, well traveled and safe, or perhaps Robert Frost's 'one less traveled'.  With all the courage I can muster, I want to take the one less traveled...do I possess it?

Over the weekend I watched a BBC series, Lark Rise to Candleford, a period piece about change and challenge, and how it takes courage to accept change and move on with challenge, but that it also takes courage to stand still in the present.  Having the courage to stand still is definitely harder, but it is in the standing still that family history is perpetuated, traditions are formed, relationships are established.  The series has stirred longings in me, possibilities, wondering's and wanderings. What will my future hold.  Only time will tell. Perhaps 2015 will be my year for new adventures, and my last hurrahs.

I feel a strange wind a-blowin'.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I have a personal trainer

His name is Zorro.  Some days, he is very persistent in helping, while some mornings he is content so sit on the couch and watch.

Today was not a 'sitting' morning, so training went something like this.  I'm down of the floor stretched as far out as my flabby body will go, hands way over my head, legs straight, tight, toes extended as far as they would go.  Zorro approaches and sniffs my ear...it tickles...I desperately try not to lose my concentration and count.

Soon I've turned over onto my back, again stretched out, arms and hands way above my head,  Legs straight, muscles tight, toes pointed downward as far as they will go.  Zorro comes up and smells my nose. I give him a couple of quick breathes, which startle him and he dashed out to the morning room.

Next I do my arm extensions, palms up, I stretch one arm over my body and touch it to the inner elbow of the other arm.  Zorro stands over one hand, wanting me to scratch his tummy. I gently push him out of the way.  He moves to the other arm and paws my hand.  I stay firm in my conviction I am not...I AM NOT going to scratch his tummy.

It's time for leg raises, sigh, oh yes, now he is intrigued with my butt area.  Seriously, dog, do you not know that's disgusting.  I immediately move on to a new exercise.  Eventually it is time for my Vertigo exercises designed to alleviate dizziness. I turn my head, up and down, left and right, back and forth I have to say I have to do these with my eyes closed otherwise they make me dizzy; for some reason Zorro does not interfere while I do this.  Maybe because I have my eyes closed. Anyway, It's finally time for cool down and deep, deep breaths. Zorro is behind me, and has a paw on each of my shoulders back to sniffing my ears. I make weird grunting sounds and he's off like a shot back to the morning room.

As I watched him go, I had to giggle, dang he has a cute little butt.  No wonder Sadie has the hots for him. Getting to my feet, it's that moment I realize how much I love that little guy, even though he's a pest and not exactly the best exercise trainer in the world.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gettin' the spirit

Okay, I'm a sentimental slob all year round.  I snivel at puppies playing, homecomings at airports, chick-flick movies, departures, romantic book endings and...I'm sure you get the picture.

This time of year I normally spend December ankle deep in tears.  Yep, Frankie and I can't control ourselves.  And Christmas music, oh brother, we openly weep.  I  get so choked up I can't even sing along anymore.  When I hear my favorite, I heard the bells on Christmas Day, tears frequently run down my cheeks.

The city has a tradition here, it's called the Singing Christmas Tree.  It is breathtaking to attend this magnificent program.  When the curtain opens and you see that tree for the first time you will be amazed.  It encompasses most of the stage; is eleven rows high, and although I don't know how many singers make up the tree (well over a hundred) they are all bedecked in white robes with red collars. Most of the singers are not professional, but trust me, they all could be, the singing is phenomenal .

Every year the program differs, although each year the first half of the program constitutes the fable of Christmas, with Santa, and sleigh bells, and good will to men. While the second half of the program tells the story of the birth of baby Jesus, and starts with pomp and circumstance as the Three Wise Men, enter and slowly walk down the aisle of the theater and up onto the stage.  (Shoot, I'm getting choked up just writing this.)  Eventually, an angel swings into view and hovers over the scene.  I tell you, it takes one's breath away.

Some years, things go awry.  The first time I went to the Singing Christmas Tree, while it was in the process of turning...it got stuck.  The audience in unison audibly gasped.  There was no panic, but you could tell the stage crew momentarily had no clue what to do.  They closed the curtains, and somebody came on stage and said if anyone wanted to leave they would happily reschedule them for another performance, or if we wanted to stay, asked for our patience while they resolved the problem.  This was obviously not an 'everyday' occurrence.  By the way...I didn't see anybody leave.

Anyway, this particular year a young, local, professional quartet was part of the program, and they came out onto the stage and held an impromptu audience 'Christmas Carol sing along' I was amazed at how many I knew word for word and was actually able to sing along. Eventually the tree hydraulics were fixed and the show progressed.  However,  I have to say...the stuck tree and caroling made the show as far as I was concerned.

I have seen the show several times since (without mishap).  It is an amazing event. None, of course, can compare to the one where something went wrong.  I would encourage anyone living locally, to take a year and attend the Singing Christmas Tree, especially if you have children. You should see their faces, not only do they light up at the sight of Santa, but when that angel swings into view their faces are filled with awe, wonder and delight.

Oooh, I'm getting that squishy, ooey, gooey, mushy feeling...it must be time to get out all my Christmas music, it's time Frankie and I start to make teary puddles around the house.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scary

Earlier this year I had a bad dream, it woke me up, breathing hard.  I remember in the morning I tried to recall the dream but could not.  I only know it scared me, and I thought to myself, if this dream ever comes to an end, am I going to die?  Yes, I actually did think that, and I think that about the dream I have where I'm desperately trying to get home, too.  I can get close to home, but something always interferes and I wake up. I know...that's nuts. I wonder if other old people ever think the same thing about their bad dreams?

Anyway, last night I had a repeat of the bad dream I had earlier this year.  As it progressed, in my dream, I realized this dream was not going to end well, and my subconscious told me (in the dream), 'remember this dream, remember this dream'.

The dream moved on, to the exact spot as the first, and I woke up, breathing hard.  I was remembering the dream, I was pretty sure I didn't want to, I didn't like it.  Eventually I became dozy and sleep returned.

This morning, my first conscious thought was the dream, and I tried...oh, I tried hard to remember it. It's gone, I can't remember a single second of the dream, only that I had wanted to remember it and that it was bad, scary, and I'm left with the horror that if the dream even ends...I'm gonna' die.

Boy, I bet Freud would have a field day with this.

Sigh.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Figgy Pudding


A week or so ago, my next door neighbor brought me some 'sort of' ripe figs.  I like fresh figs.  They are very tasty and extremely good for you.  They've tons of seeds about the size of grit you find on some sand papers, and I even like the feel of them as I munch.  Problem is, most years the growing season is not long enough for my neighbors figs to ripen.  The rains come, and the shorter days prevent them from maturing the way they do in warmer climes.

Anyway, she gave me quite a few, and I know I should have had patience and hoped they would ripen, when a familiar Christmas Tune went through my head.

"Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring some out here."

Hmmm?  So I says to myself, "I wonder if there is a recipe for Figgy Pudding?

Several years back I sent for a newly published reproduction of "The Original FANNIE 
FARMER 1896 Cook Book (The Boston Cooking School) and I figured if any cook book would have a recipe for Figgy Pudding, it would be the Fanny  Farmer book.  Flipping to page 338, there it was.  Of course it called for things not in my modern day pantry (like 1/3 cup beef suet, and a cup of stale bread) but I refused to be deterred.  As a result I substituted a stick of margarine for the suet, and instant oatmeal for the stale bread.

I chopped up the figs, and followed the rest of the instructions to the letter.  I watched the whole thing slowly boil up, soon the ingredients blended together, and took on the look of pudding.  Oh, I'm sure the stale bread would have given it a smoother looking finish, but it was a pudding none the less. And, it was good, still warm from the pot, sprinkled with sugar, and just a tad of milk.

I filled two single serving containers with the leftovers and put them in the freezer for a treat some future winter evening.  And, I sure am glad I have learned I don't have to wait for figs to ripen in order to enjoy them.

I think figs are a misunderstood fruit, I don't personally know anybody, (besides myself and my neighbor) who eat them raw, nor do I know anybody who actually eats Fig Newtons, they (in my opinion) are too dry, and difficult to swallow without a tall glass of milk.  Anyway, I don't suppose my Figgy Pudding is ever going to catch on as a holiday treat, though I'm thoroughly enjoying mine.  So instead I will bring...

...good tidings to you and your kin,
good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.