Tuesday, January 31, 2017

T Stands For Year of the Rooster

Gong Hey Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year. The year of the Rooster.

My rooster mug was a gift from my "cousin" and calligraphy colleague when she came for a visit several years ago. Whenever she visits, she thoughtfully brings a calligraphy related gift or a useful tool. The writing looks like a French roundhand.

 The mugs holds a whopping 16 1/2 ounces and is too big for me as I'm noted for taking a sip or two and then forgetting I made a cup of tea. However, the Eldest has been known to use the mug with her Keurig coffee machine. This mug is also perfect for making mug cakes or cooking an egg in the microwave.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, January 30, 2017

One Word 2017

It took some time before I found my word to sum up this coming year. The word is Frugal. I need to be more mindful about using up materials I have and not buying stuff just to have more, or because it sounds cool, or because I can't find stuff because someone isn't always good about putting her toys away. Frugal.

I wanted to create an ATC (Artist Trading Card 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches) that would caputre this word. I was thinking I'll use this paper. Need a crayon. Some yarn scraps stitched around. And I'd write out the word in calligraphy. And then it hit me. Frugal is such an econimical word. Minimalist and so the ATC is succint.

The brown, Kraft paper arrived as packing material in something or other Himself had ordered. There was a lot of Kraft paper in the package. My favorite, blue, colored pencil still has lots of color left in it, but now elevated to an embellishment underscoring the boldy printed Word.

Do you have one word for this year?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Word For the Year

My dictionary. As a kid, I would spend hours flipping through
and reading.
I don't make New Year's resolutions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The past couple of years, I settled on the trend of a word for the year. Come back tomorrow to see my word. 😸

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Going Solar

south side of the house
After a lot of research and discussion, we've decided to go solar. Panels were supposed to be in place by November as tax incentives were supposed to run out at the end of the year. And we waited and waited. And debated whether we should just scrap the project. 

The company finally came through two weeks ago. Materials were delivered at the crack of dawn before the weekend.  Fortunately, the weather was more like Spring than mid-January. Monday morning, the crew arrived as the sun came up. They worked quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Solar panels were in place and wiring run to the service box.

west side of the house
Now we're just waiting for the town electrical inspector and electric company to look things over and put their thumbprints on the paperwork.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.  Spent the morning ironing. An oddly enjoyable task I find very meditating.

2. The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl

3. Freezing rain and sleet caused problems for The Eldest when her shift ended at 12:30 AM and she got stuck in some slush. She called to say AAA would get to her in an hour. Another call an hour later to say AAA got her unstuck and she was on her way home. How do you spell relief? When your kid walks through the door at 2 AM safe and sound.

4. A hat I crocheted that was supposed to be a beanie looked more like a beret. The Young One liked it asked me if I could make her one, too. While waiting for The Eldest to get home the night of the storm, I crocheted the beret. The Young One posted a picture of herself on Facebook. Said she really liked her new hat.

5. Saw a great idea to make a Valentine's gift for Himself.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:    

My second sophomore year was so so. My problems were the same. I could not try out for sports because they were held in another section and it meant additional carfare and late hours getting home.

I had been given some credits for my first year as a sophomore and I had more study hours. So my homework was mostly done. I would finish at home and then go to the Center at night. Thanks to my mother who told my father that Mr. Arnold was a good man and that I looked up to him. So my father let me go to the Center.

There was one Christmas, I think 1935, where the story [ed: play] was of the Three Kings going to see the Christ child. On the way they came across a dead man. My part was that of the strong king and my part was long and beautifully constructed. When I was through I walked up to the dead person, took my cloak off and gently laid it on him and we marched off the stage. The End. The play was well received and we were invited to the Director's home for a collation. This was on White St. in East Boston. This area, where the high school was located was the area to be in [ed: wealthier part of the city]  and in the Revolution streets which bore the name of the battles in that war.

Now Donald McKay who was builder of clipper ships when Boston was the harbor of the U.S. at one time. And these clippers were built in East Boston. His master carpenters built many of the homes in the area for themselves. All they paid for was the land. As far as lumber, marble, granite, they got free. Some time the ships got to their foreign port, unloaded the cargo and did not have any cargo to bring  back. To balance the ship, the sailors would go into the woods, chop down trees or take granite or marble depending what was available to serve as ballast to keep the ship on an even keel when they were headed for home. Unload the ship and throw its cargo in a pile.

The master carpenters would then if they wanted to marry, would take what was available and build a beautiful, solid house. The beams were 4 x 4. They were pricise, smooth and where the beams came together on the roof support you would have a hard time finding where they met. The fireplace was a work of art. The mantel  was held up by beautiful sculpture figures. Solid mahogany floors and weather tight. The Center owned two of these homes. One for the Director and his family and the other for women employees.

I was complimented by the art director and others. From her it was an ace. She said considering what I know of you, I did not think that you had it in you. Your body gave off strength when it should. Your voice change just right in the different parts and so gentle when you laid your cloak down. So I was an actor what did she expect.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

T Stands For On the Drawing Board

On the drawing board with a trusty cup of tea at my side, is a layout and design for an art show I'm entering. Deadline is 15. March 2017 and the theme is A Sense of Place.

I've chosen the Bible quote for Ruth 1:16, And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. The quote is from the King James version of the Bible which is the only version of the Bible that is in the public domain.

I've laid the quote out on graph paper 11 inches by 14 inches. I toyed with the idea of going smaller but decided that was going to be too much of a strain on my poor, old eyes. Framing will be expensive so decided to stick with a standard size.

Scatter on the table are some books to look through for inspiration.

 An illuminated, initial A with a traditional vine are planned. The shape of a capital "A" reminds me of a bird house which will be in the enclosed square with the vine trailing down the left side and across the bottom.  Red, green, and blue, traditional colors, will be used as well as 24 karat gold leaf.
Thinking of two birds, most likely in red, one on or in the bird house and one at the bottom of the vine are planned.

While flipping through a catalog, I found enameled, birdhouse boxes which was the image I had in my head. Serendipitous!

What are you working on today?

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, January 23, 2017

National Handwriting Day

Today, 23. January, is National Handwriting Day. Grab a pen, pencil, or crayon. Write a note to yourself, take a memo, write out your grocery list or a to do list. Write a letter to your mother, your senator, your spouse or significant other. Write in your journal. Use your own handwriting and celebrate written communinication.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


I read this 1983 speech by Ursula K LeGuin on Susan Gaylord's blog. I was feeling lost and in the dark, but in the dark there is hope.

A Left-Handed Commencement Address
(Mills College, 1983)
Notice: this talk is not under copyright, and may be quoted or reprinted as a whole without obtaining permission, though I would appreciate being notified of reprintings.
My warm and cordial thanks to all who have written me to tell me they are using this talk in classrooms, sharing it on social media, or otherwise, and to thank me for it. I wish I could write each of you back, but I can only do it this way. Thank you!

I want to thank the Mills College Class of ’83 for offering me a rare chance: to speak aloud in public in the language of women.
I know there are men graduating, and I don’t mean to exclude them, far from it. There is a Greek tragedy where the Greek says to the foreigner, “If you don’t understand Greek, please signify by nodding.” Anyhow, commencements are usually operated under the unspoken agreement that everybody graduating is either male or ought to be. That’s why we are all wearing these twelfth-century dresses that look so great on men and make women look either like a mushroom or a pregnant stork. Intellectual tradition is male. Public speaking is done in the public tongue, the national or tribal language; and the language of our tribe is the men’s language. Of course women learn it. We’re not dumb. If you can tell Margaret Thatcher from Ronald Reagan, or Indira Gandhi from General Somoza, by anything they say, tell me how. This is a man’s world, so it talks a man’s language. The words are all words of power. You’ve come a long way, baby, but no way is long enough. You can’t even get there by selling yourself out: because there is theirs, not yours.
Maybe we’ve had enough words of power and talk about the battle of life. Maybe we need some words of weakness. Instead of saying now that I hope you will all go forth from this ivory tower of college into the Real World and forge a triumphant career or at least help your husband to and keep our country strong and be a success in everything - instead of talking about power, what if I talked like a woman right here in public? It won’t sound right. It’s going to sound terrible. What if I said what I hope for you is first, if — only if — you want kids, I hope you have them. Not hordes of them. A couple, enough. I hope they’re beautiful. I hope you and they have enough to eat, and a place to be warm and clean in, and friends, and work you like doing. Well, is that what you went to college for? Is that all? What about success?
Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.
Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you’re weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself — as I know you already have — in dark places, alone, and afraid.
What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign.
Well, we’re already foreigners. Women as women are largely excluded from, alien to, the self-declared male norms of this society, where human beings are called Man, the only respectable god is male, the only direction is up. So that’s their country; let’s explore our own. I’m not talking about sex; that’s a whole other universe, where every man and woman is on their own. I’m talking about society, the so-called man’s world of institutionalized competition, aggression, violence, authority, and power. If we want to live as women, some separatism is forced upon us: Mills College is a wise embodiment of that separatism. The war-games world wasn’t made by us or for us; we can’t even breathe the air there without masks. And if you put the mask on you’ll have a hard time getting it off. So how about going on doing things our own way, as to some extent you did here at Mills? Not for men and the male power hierarchy — that’s their game. Not against men, either — that’s still playing by their rules. But with any men who are with us: that’s our game. Why should a free woman with a college education either fight Machoman or serve him? Why should she live her life on his terms?
Machoman is afraid of our terms, which are not all rational, positive, competitive, etc. And so he has taught us to despise and deny them. In our society, women have lived, and have been despised for living, the whole side of life that includes and takes responsibility for helplessness, weakness, and illness, for the irrational and the irreparable, for all that is obscure, passive, uncontrolled, animal, unclean — the valley of the shadow, the deep, the depths of life. All that the Warrior denies and refuses is left to us and the men who share it with us and therefore, like us, can’t play doctor, only nurse, can’t be warriors, only civilians, can’t be chiefs, only indians. Well so that is our country. The night side of our country. If there is a day side to it, high sierras, prairies of bright grass, we only know pioneers’ tales about it, we haven’t got there yet. We’re never going to get there by imitating Machoman. We are only going to get there by going our own way, by living there, by living through the night in our own country.
So what I hope for you is that you live there not as prisoners, ashamed of being women, consenting captives of a psychopathic social system, but as natives. That you will be at home there, keep house there, be your own mistress, with a room of your own. That you will do your work there, whatever you’re good at, art or science or tech or running a company or sweeping under the beds, and when they tell you that it’s second-class work because a woman is doing it, I hope you tell them to go to hell and while they’re going to give you equal pay for equal time. I hope you live without the need to dominate, and without the need to be dominated. I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing — instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Attended a funeral for a friend's mother. The singer had a high soprano voice. A little too high for me, but she wasn't a bad singer. She started singing the "Ave Maria" which was Dad's signature solo in the church choir. Suddenly, I felt Dad next to me and heard him whisper, "I sing it better." I said, "Shhh, behave." and almost started to laugh. Truth be told, he had a beautiful voice  and did sing the "Ave Maria" better.

2. Had the annual Christmas celebration with the Brother and his family. What a great time we had laughing and sharing stories. Note to self: we should get together more often.

3. Crows swooped to the bird feeder like planes landing at the airport. I've never seen crows at the bird feeder. Thought they were carnivore. Didn't know they ate seed, too.

4. While waiting up for The Eldest to get home from work, I flipped in to MeTV and watched Perry Mason.  Pleasantly surprised to see DeForest Kelley in the episode.

5. One of Himself's colleagues takes an annual trip to Germany. Himself met the fellow in the hall at school and was asked, "Does your wife like chocolate?" Himself came home with a bar of chocolate for me.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Olga, age 6-8?
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

My sisters were my mother's duty to teach them to be good housekeepers and cooks. Which was standard in the community. They were extra good. Both kept their houses in condition. They were fussy about their homes and putting on meals. Their homes were so clean you could eat off the floors.

When you were six years old, we went to Olga's with The Brother and you told your Aunt Olga having been there before, "Auntie, you put up new curtains." With that statement you won her heart. She said I don't always keep curtains up too long and change them regularly and you're the only one that noticed in all the years [ ed: Auntie would wash her windows and change curtains the day after it rained]

Bobby or Chickie as he was called was the last born. Mother had 4 miscarriages. She called Bobby her little chicken because it would seem that he wasn't growing at all. He sprung up and also dropped school. When he was called to the Service [ed: Army] he was told to do extra work by studying and getting his high school education. He did very well.

It was Olga's chore to take Bob for outdoor time. I would take the carriage down all 3 flights. One day she dropped Bobby on the stairs. He got too heavy for her as he was growing and added weight. Needless to say Mama had a good scare and fortunately, he wasn't hurt except that he cried. My mother was wondering how she was going to get him outdoors etc. I volunteered to take him for his airing. So I would take the carriage downstairs and go back get his bottle of milk, put it in my back pocket and then take him down. [ed: There was a 10 year age difference between Dad and Uncle Bob. Dad never called his baby brother, Chickie, but called him Bob or Bobby]

When the other boys saw me pushing the carriage they began calling me "mama boy". Fighting words. This didn't last long, a few days, because I would stop and say, Ok, make fists and protect yourself. I beat them up and they stopped.

My brothers and sisters loved me and so didn't my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. They were wonderful people.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

T Stands For Tiny

The Eldest has developed an interest in cooking. I thought cooking lessons would make a fun Christmas gift except I couldn't find classes at a time that would accommodate her work schedule. She works late afternoon and night.

I saw a posting from a Facebook friend about a food service called Hello Fresh. You choose from several recipes, are sent all the ingredients, and necessary instructions. Everything is included in the box in the exact amounts you need so there's no waste. You know how some recipes call for 2 tablespoons of onion? What do you do with the rest of the onion? With this system no worries. All you need to supply is the labor and basic pantry ingredents like salt and pepper.

The Eldest has been enjoying her stint as chef. We've been enjoying dishes that have expanded our palate like Crispy Shrimp Tacos. It's been nice having a couple of weekends off from cooking and as an added bonus the tiny, ingredient jars. Aren't they cute? They are the perfect size for an inkwell.

Because the T stands for post must include something about a beverage along with the little jars,  the Maneki Neko (Japanese lucky cat) beckons you to join him for a mug of your favorite beverage. He's put a mug out just for you.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Signs of Spring

With Spring still a couple of months away, Himself is already planning on his garden. Thinking of what he'll be planting in the straw bales this year. And how to keep the critter from eating the pepper plants to the roots. What kind of critter does that?

Himself got an Aero-Garden to start seedlings. It's a hydroponic garden. No soil needed. Very Lost In Space. Plants grow indoors year round. Special lights give the plants the amount of sunlight needed.

Himself has planted an heirloom cherry tomato. The sproutlings seem to be doing quite well. Don't know how long it will be before we have a harvest of little tomatoes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Red let me launder a quilt at her house as my washing machine doesn't have a bedding setting and hers does. While waiting for the quilt to go through the cycle, we enjoyed some tea she got as a Christmas present. I had a Chai tea with star anise. Very nice.

2. Snowstorm on Saturday didn't cause return trip problems on Sunday for the Young One. Her plane must have picked up a good tail wind as it landed 15 minutes earlier than the ticketed time.

3. Had lunch with my calligraphy teacher and friend. She gave me me a whole bunch of books and items to use as lesson plans in my class. She also gave me all her notes for the Reggie Ezzell's 26 Seeds master class she took several years ago. I'll be starting the Reggie class in March.

4. Someone at Tuft's Animal Hospital sent me a clay impression of Ink's pawprint. Such a thoughtful gesture.

5. Thursday, the middle of January and the temperature was 55 oF. It felt like sun room weather. If only the rest of the Winter would stay this mild.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Uncle Mario, age 12 or 13?
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Stepping back, my brothes and sisters got along well. And each had their own friends.

My brother, Mario, was a problem at school and at home when we were in grammar school. My father gave up that he would be a scholar. And there were complaints from school, etc. And our community was still old-fashioned as we, the born in America children, we were all for America, while elders maintained their views which were  European. And an attitude that Americans were stupid. They criticized our system. And then there was the group that adopted American ways. They became citizens but somehow held fast to European customs.

My father could not accept Mario's attitude and his concern was that he would eventually cause a lot of big trouble. So he evidently got Uncle Vincent [ed: a lawyer] to use some power with the people in charge of our government and had Mario put in a state school for children that eventually could become criminal minded. And Mario was sent to one. I forgot what it was called. Father was criticized because Mario didn't do anything bad. At that time, in fact even the employees at the so called school asked what he was doing there. He hadn't committed crimes or came close to that. Mother was heart broken and never forgave my father for doing that. At the time, I was still too young to know what it was all about. Mama went to see Mario and took me to Holyoke [ed: Massachusetts] by train. Mario wanted to come home and wanted to know when. She told him soon. Just be a good boy and he would be home. He stayed there about 4 months.  School was not for him. And he got to be an errand boy and helper for the oil man. And later got a job with him. And when he was old enough went into the building trade. Drove trucks, and moved furniture furntiture, pianos, lumber.

He had a heart of gold and his bark as it was said was worse this his bite.

[ed: Part of what I was told about Uncle Mario. My mother told me Mario had been sent to the Lyman School for Boys in Westboro, Massachusetts. Coming from the city, it would have seemed like Dad and his mother were traveling clear across the state. Westboro is in the middle of the state and to a Bostonian right at the end of the earth. Students at the school, according to Wikipedia , were subject to harsh discipline. When I was a kid, we would pass by the school on the way to a shopping expedition at Spag's in Worcester. My mother would threaten if we were not good, we would be sent to the school. Like going to school with the nuns was a cake walk :-D

Boys also learned a trade ( masonry, caprentry, plumbing, etc.) at the school. I'll have to check with my cousin to see if he knows the name of the school where is father was sent.

What Dad didn't mention was Uncle Mario was a skilled bricklayer. He was a big man. Looked like a refrigerator with a head and had hands the size of hams. I heard stories of the mass quantities of brick he could carry in a hod. Uncle Mario put in brick steps with wrought iron railings at my parents house. The brick work lasted nearly the entire 58 years my parents lived in their home with only a few minor repairs to the brick. He also installed an iron pipe clothesline set in concrete for my mother.  That thing with stood hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms and was still solid the day I sold the house. Uncle must have learned masonry at the school.

I speculate what Dad said he was too young to understand about Uncle's situation. This was during the middle of the Depression. Dad's father was not working or bringing in very little income. My grandmother had worked at a candy factory, before or after she was married is not clear. One thing about my family, the elders rarely talked about what happened while growing up and never talked about other relatives in the area or back in Italy. And we kids were not interested in family history to ask the questions.

Anyway, my grandparents had 5 children. The two oldest, Dad and Uncle Mario, were growing, teenage boys. Not much income, barely able to make ends meet, little food. Dad went to live for a time with his mentor, Skip, and Uncle Mario was sent to the reform school.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

T Stands For Procraftination

Procraftination: doing some other craft when you should be working. It started out innocently enough. There was the bag with the cotton batting used to stuff the elf legs. What was I going to do with all the batting?

I started playing around with some yarn and a crochet hook. It had been decades since I had crocheted anything. Pretty much the only items I could crochet were granny squares. Hunting around for a simple project, I came across amigurumi. Japanese art of crocheting small animals or objects and anthropomorphizing them.

I only had black and yellow yarn so finding the little bee was fortuitous. As I began working the bee, I wondered what I could use for the wings. I tried crocheting the wings out of very thin, white ribbon, but the results were less than satisfactory. Then I remembered in the Christmas bauble box a skein of yarn from the year I crocheted snowflakes to go with my Christmas cards. And sparkly white yarn to boot. A pair of diamond button eyes and the little guy (2 or so inches long by 2 or so inches wide) was finished.

The Eldest decided the little bee felt squishy like a stress ball. So off he went to be her cubical companion at work.

Once the bee was finished, I wondered what else I could make. If I could figure out how to make pointy ears, I could make a cat from the same pattern. Then baby pandas popped up on my Facebook timeline. I could make a black bear and a polar bear. The little critters still need button eyes or embroidered features on their faces.

 Chick, duck, skunk, black bird, (if I can beg some yarn scraps from Red) maybe an orca are waiting for another procraftination day. What are you procraftinating today?

And since this is T Stand For besides the gear needed to prcraftinate crochet, a cup of tea at the ready. Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Animal Totem

Last week, I had stated the bear is my animal totem. Sandra asked how one finds their animal totem. She also suggested the topic would make good blog fodder. Thanks for the idea, Sandra.

Many native peoples around the world ascribe to the belief of an animal totem or guide. A spirit to guide us on our life journey. The spirit is usually an animal. From the animal we gain certain aspects of our personality. And you don't get to pick your animal spirit. The spirit picks you.

You may also have more than one animal spirit during your life. They may come into your life, teach a lesson, and then leave after a time. Usually, there is one animal that stays with you during your life.

I have been drawn to bears for the longest time. I think  I was in my teens or early 20s when I started feeling a pull towards bears. While I'm attracted to all bears (polar, panda, grizzly, sun), I identify with black bears.

As a child, maybe 5 or 6 years old, we went to visit a friend of my mother. On a stairwell leading to the basement, was a stuffed bear cub dressed like Smokey ( the) Bear, the fire prevention bear. I don't know where they got the bear cub, whether they picked it up or if the husband was a taxidermist. The little bear was dressed in a tiny pair of blue jeans, a belt with a large belt buckle, and a ranger hat. I remember staring at the little bear for the longest time, and every time we visited, I would make my way down to visit the bear cub.

What are the traits of a bear? A bear is a solitary creature. Most people think bears are agressive, but they really are passive unless provoked or frightened. Don't ever get between a mother bear and her cubs. Still waters run deep and dark. Bears are territorial. They like to play, but also know when to rest. (They also have the good sense to hibernate during the Winter) Bears enjoy sweets (honey and berries). Polaris, the North Star, found in the constellation Ursa Minor in the Northern Hemisphere (The Little Bear, Little Dipper, or Little Ploughshare) is a fixed point used in navigation. So attributes of being constant, stable, reliable.

I have also been drawn to cats. (I have been owned by 3) and since my parents passed away (4 years ago this year), cardinals.

So, how do you come to understand which animal is your totem? Usually, by meditation and then watching and listening for signs and symbols. Think also about an animal you may be drawn to. Not because you think the animal is cool, but you're attracted in some unexplicable way. You might find Animal Totems and Meaings an interesting site to explore.

Now, none of the information I've presented is scientific, and I'm not an expert on the subject (though maybe I play one (-; ) but "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet Act I, scene V

What's your animal totem?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

View From the Dollhouse

Yesterday's snowstorm left us with 6 inches of fluffy, snow to clear from stairs, driveway, cars, and paths to bird feeders, mailbox, and a path for the oilman to reach the fill spout. Fluffy snow made for quick work, but it was cold at 9 oF. I'm not a fan of the cold and especially not a fan of snow. A friend from Scotland summed snow up perfectly. "Aye ken quinie . Sna fur Christmas day and nae mair." (Yes, I know, little girl. Snow for Christmas day and no more.)

Click on the pictures to embiggen.

View from the sun room. The wind blew snow into the seed hopper so the birds were having a tough time reaching their feed.

A nuthatch poses on the feeder and inspects the job I did shoveling the path to the feeder.

View of the front feeder. A nuthatch enjoys a meal.

A little bird marked the path I'm to shovel to the feeder.

What's the view from your house today?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

10 Crockpot Freezer Meals

Ingredients at the ready. Recipes on the tablet.

Just before Christmas, I stumbled upon a StockpilingMoms blog for making 20 crockpot freezer meals in 4 hours. Simply add raw meat, vegetables and other stuff to a gallon size freezer bag and stick in the freezer. When ready to use thaw overnight in the refrigerator, pop in the crockpot and 6 or 8 hours later dinner is ready.

The time saving appealed to me. Also we're all on different schedules so cooking once and having enough for people to heat and eat when they are ready works out well. Cooking a large quantity of 6 to 8 servings makes it convenient to have portions for people to take lunch/dinner to work or just lunch/dinner leftovers.

Though the refrigerator is large, the freezer isn't big enough to hold 20 freezer bags plus sundry meats and frozen veg.  Fortunately, the blog also had recipes and shopping lists for 10 crockpot freezer meals in 2 hours.  (There were recipes for 8 meals too, but I figured what's 2 more) After the holidays, there was sufficient room in the freezer to give this method a try.

I sent Himself off with the shopping list provided. The method is label freezer storage bags with recipe title, cook time, and other ingredients or instructions that need to be added later or just before serving. It took me an hour or so longer to chop vegetables, assemble ingredients, and fill the bags for all the meals. Rather than chop all vegetable at the same time, I went through the recipes one by one. I found that I had printed an incomplete grocery list and some items, mostly canned corn and black beans were missing. Not crucial, as those items could be added at the time of cooking (if someone remembers to add missing items to the next shopping list. Note to self) One other item I would add to the grocery list, would be to get some slow cooker liners. These are special plastic liners that you put inside your crockpot and dump your ingredients in when ready to cook. The liners make clean up a breeze. I never use my crockpot without them.

Dinner ready and waiting

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

1. Quiet New Year's Eve. Chinese food from Star Dumpling. So good. Skyped with The Young One after the ball dropped.. She was in OH spending New Year's with a friend.

2. Started a new good things journal. Painted the baseboards in the Young One's room.

3. Made beef stew in the shiny, new crockpot and baked a loaf of bread.

4. Got a call from Tufts that Ink's ashes were ready to be picked up. After the call, looked out the window and the female cardinal was at the feeder.

After his dentist appt, Himself and I went to lunch at Bison Burger, then went to bring Ink home. His ashes were in a cardboard box in a blue gift bag. I put the bag in the front window where he liked to sit and watch the birds. In the Spring, I'll bury him at the back feeder where he watched the birds, squirrels, and Timex.

5. Old people day at the movies. Himself and I went to see Rogue One in 3D in plush theater.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Throwback Thursdays - The Notebooks

 To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

During this period, Skip would have sessions with me. We would do chores together while he would comment about the difficult work was as to labor and how glad he was that he didn't need to do that for a living. He knew that I had dropped out and of course suggested I should consider going back. I was still young and etc., etc., etc.

Before the end of the play school, I told him that I would go back to school. He was happy and he told me that one of the things that the different works at the Center, himself, the boys workers, girls etc. had to pick one person and train them so that they could run the Center and they would then go and do the same thing in other areas.

On the first day in September that school opened, I went. I was directed to a room where other dropouts were sent. And have a talk with the teacher. The one that interviewed me said your marks are pretty good, let me go see if the director will allow you to go into the Junior class. He came back and said no. So the second time in my life I had to repeat a class again. That first time was in the second grade when I came down with yellow jaundice which kept me out most of the year. And I was glad that I didn't have to have same 2nd grade teacher. I didn't like her. I had to repeat the 2nd grade because I was out too long and missed out doing a lot of the work that was required.

My return to high school was uneventful. I had more study periods than others as I was given credit for some of the work that I had done. This gave me a break. In that I did not have to do a lot of homework as I would have had to do. So it got me to go to the Center at night. I also went to to the library and was able to go to the big one and and at night and I also picked out books for my father. He liked to read books written in Italian.

Skip kept me going with the Center. I also did audition for parts as the Center had a dramatics program. While it was a church at one time, the main area was one flight up and there was a stage which the Center used. In fact, the right and left pews were taken out and they built rooms on each side for various activities. We even had people coming, they were volunteers. They taught us how to fall when shot without hurting ourselves, or fighting without hitting the other person. Elocution, everything. We put on plays and blackouts. These were short plays that had a comical ending and the stage lights would go out. The school vacation was lots of fun at the Center. In the belfry, a radio station was set up and we had a chance to broadcast outside and inside the building itself.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

T Stands For Tuesday - Tea

A Cup A Day Keeps The Bear At Bay
Flipping through some images trying to come up with a T Stands for post, I came across this gem. Recycled from July 2008. A moldy oldy.

I'm participating in a new ATC exchange. The theme for this month was a free choice which I find more difficult than a set theme. What to do, what to do? Too many choices.

I'm not sure where the idea for this card came from, but it's close to being a self-portrait. Black bear is my animal totem and usually how I am first thing in the morning until I've had that first civilizing cup of tea.

The watercolor/plastic wrap background was done on Canson Mi Tientes and the clipart images were printed out, glued on and then a coat of Mod Podge. Before the caption was added, I proudly showed my card to The Eldest. She looked at the card, announced "I don't get it", and mumbled "The Emperor is naked." That puts the ego into perspective. The caption was added using Ziller's Glossy Blackwith a Gillotte 1068A

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Second on the Second

Another meme from Elizabeth and Bleubeard. Posting a previous blog entry for a second look. This from April 2014.  Be sure to stop by Elizabeth's and Bleubeard's page to see what the rest of the crew is offering for the second time around. If you want to play, post one of your previous blog entries and link to Elizabeth and Bleubeard's page.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


2000 Graceful Envelope Winner
Let's make it a good one. And a creative one. Happy New Year