Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rough Night in Dallas

Rough Night In Dallas -- sounds like a cw song, doesn't it?  I wish it was a song but the reality is that is was a rough night in Dallas with eleven tornadoes --one of them quite large - doing lots of damage.

There has been 11 deaths and many injuries.  Cars were tossed off the highway overpasses as the tornadoes crossed the roads.  It all began in early evening and was still a threat by 10 p.m.  This morning, in the light of day, the damage is vast and they expect the NWS to declare this a F3 or F4 tornado -- the big tornado -- I am not sure about the smaller ones.

So, for any of my readers who saw this on the news, just letting you know that we are fine.  We live in west Fort Worth and this was all on the east side of Dallas.  We got some rain, some lightening and for some reason we lost power for about 30 minutes but we didn't experience anything severe and for that I am thankful.  However, there are a lot of families that weren't so lucky and the new year will be full of trying to put lives back together.  So, so sad.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that I really don't care for the weather in North Texas?  I guess I am just a San Antonio girl at heart and always will be. If my kids didn't live here, I would move back.  The weather wasn't perfect there but at least we didn't have as much threatening weather from tornadoes to ice. 

What is up next?  Well, we are going to have more rain today - and wind -- and then tonight it is going to get cold and we might have a snowflake.  They said if there was any snow it wouldn't accumulate and it wouldn't be a problem.  When they say that, it is time to go to the grocery store and stock up for the blizzard because they ARE. ALWAYS. WRONG. 

So, just wanted to let anybody who was wondering know that we are fine and hopefully the tornado activity is over.

RAW VIDEO: Incredible Large Tornado near Rowlett, Texas | Dec 26, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

The last 25 days have been spent waiting for Christmas.  There have been quiet times, candle lightings,  gospel lessons, nativity building and anticipation.  Today was the culmination of all those things as we welcomed the new born babe and celebrated with gifts and food.

I usually have a problem with depression at some point during the holiday season and this year has been no different.  There was one day a couple of weeks ago and then again today.  I don't know why, a let down perhaps.  Even though we try to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas and not dwell on the material side of it there is still that moment of realization that all the planning and working is over in the blink of an eye.  I know that "Christmas" is just beginning with twelve days to follow but being raised in America it was our tradition to celebrate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then it was done and we readied ourselves for the New Year.

So, today, as I was making the final preparations for our dinner and final lighting of the Advent candles I was already thinking ahead toward the New Year and things I want to accomplish.  I don't believe in resolutions -- it is like they are made just to be broken.  I much prefer plans and goals.

I have a few of those for the new year -- some big, some not so big, so long term and some to bring closure.  One of my goals this year is to be a better blogger.  I have a few things I would like to incorporate here at Maison Brinkley -- both personally and for the household in general.  I am going to make a more concerted effort to actually document them here with photographs.

Photographs -- hmm...that reminds me, it seems that three of the four screws in the front of my camera have fallen out and my camera is in grave danger of just disintegrating so I might have to think about a new one.  In any event, I am hoping to do better with the blog.

I am also rethinking reading challenges.  This year I signed up for several and wasn't particularly successful with most so 2016 will find me participating in only one.  I have several series that I would have loved to have finished this year but didn't so I will continue with those this year.  I have learned that reading challenges are sort of double edged sword.  On one hand they sort of force you to read more but I wonder if, in doing that, we don't read as well and get as much out of the books as we could if we took more time.  I don't know but I do know that I am going to do only one.

I am also giving more thought to household things such as tidying, decluttering and meal planning and prepping.  I have recently read an interesting article that takes meal planning a step farther and concentrates on prepping and pre-cooking some things.  I found it fascinating and am going to give that a go and see if it can help me prepare an evening meal with limited time.  The Hubs and I both need to lose a little (haha!) weight and get more exercise so that is a huge goal of the new year. 

But, for tonight, I am taking my book, heading to my bed and going to lose myself in a good read. 

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and look forward to great weekend!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve Eve

Yes, it is Christmas Eve Eve -- the day where I take stock of what is left to be done, what will probably won't get done and start making lists.  Since we only see one child and her family on Christmas, I think I am done with what I need to do for her.  We see our son and his family during the twelve days of Christmas and that has yet to be arranged but I think I am good there as well.  I need to grocery shop and do some house cleaning -- domestic things know no season.  And.....I need to bake cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.  So, that is what I will be doing tonight.  Hopefully I can get some Welsh Cakes done as well but for sure chocolate chip and sugar with sprinkles. 

So, off to the store in a bit with list in hand -- wonder where I can get a big dose of energy?  Ah, yes...I will have to Google it.

Anyway, just wanted to leave this with you as I thought it was really cute!

The little elf looks like our Tuppy!

Have a wonderful day pulling together all your loose ends if you have any -- stay safe!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hello! Remember Me?

Hello there!  Remember me -- Melissa -- the blogger gone AWOL?  Yes, well, things have been busy -- I try not to say hectic because that isn't really accurate, just busy.  As the week progresses I feel things winding down and getting a bit calmer -- I mean, time is running out for all the manic shopping and wrapping and all that and I can feel the excitement of Christmas Day creeping in.  I am ready in all sorts of ways -- last gift bought, everything wrapped, the ham ordered and the house cleaned -- well, ok, that is a gross exaggeration -- the house is not cleaned and there is wrapping paper bits everywhere! But, a girl can dream, can't she?

This week has been really crazy -- my mother in law was hospitalized twice in the week and has now been released to a local rehab center.  She was transported by a transport service that didn't get her to the new facility until 11 p.m.  She isn't particularly happy and my husband and I are exhausted.  The original plan was for her to just go home to her apartment but after talking with her she was concerned about being too weak to do for herself and so the decision to go home was re-visited and it was decided she would go to rehab to try to get her back on her feet.  Hubs will check on her this morning and I hope she has a more positive view of the situation than she did last night.  It would help if they can find her a private room.  She isn't the roomie sort. So, yeah, hopefully that will work out better as we go along.

I purchased my last gift yesterday.  It is for a very special little girl named Emily.  This is Lisa, a Ragtales doll that I found at a local, indie book store -- Monkey and Dog -- owned by a friend of mine, Shelley Lowe. 
I actually went for Odette -- a Jellycat ostrich but Odette had found her forever home.  I decided that Lisa would be a better choice as she doesn't have feathers and even though I loved Odette, I decided that Lisa would be very loved in her new forever home.

So, that was the last of the shopping -- Hubs and I have each bought one another a couple of things but the fact of the matter is that we are so blessed that there is really nothing we need or especially want -- we have enough -- we have each other, we are reasonably healthy, we have wonderful kids and grandkids, we have a roof over our heads and food in our tummies, some really good friends a wonderful, warm church  and what more could we ask for.

So, as I try to recoup from my long night at the rehab I am going to share this beautiful picture from Christmas past -- about four years ago.  It makes me smile.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Happy Birthday, Aunt Linnie!

Today would be my Aunt Linnie's 87th birthday.  She was an integral part of my and JLSHall's life -- she was the glamorous aunt that never married, had a career in fashion and always gave fabulous presents. 

She can be seen on the top row of the photos on this page -- lots of dark hair and very attractive.  I miss her very much.

There is another cousin on this page as well -- Teddy Giles -- the last row, last photo.  We lost him in the recent past -- he was a really good guy and I am so glad to have become re-acquainted with his kids -- family bonds are very important.

So, Happy Birthday, Aunt Linnie!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shhhh----We Are Waiting

We have come full circle and we begin again--

The first Advent candle

The Little Gospels from the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Stable

Monday, November 16, 2015

Quiet Monday, Hectic Weekend, and Everybody is Sick

Last week, oh, I think Thursday, the wind blew.  Like a hurricane.  And I, brilliant soul that I am, was out walking around in it.  Now, I am an old lady (hee hee) and have known for many years that I can't handle real air very well and definitely not windy air. So, I should have known better but I had to walk into the school to get Bean and I had no choice. 

It didn't take but a few hours for whatever blew up my nose to start bothering me.  I was allergy sick.  Then the Hubs followed suit, then Bean and now dear daughter.  We all have it and we all feel miserable but, as they say, the show must go on.

This weekend was a bit hectic.  My mother in law will be celebrating her 94th birthday on Wednesday so this weekend we had a reunion of sorts.  She has four children, all still living, four in-law children, eleven grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.  All but a few came for this little reunion.

We had a lovely dinner at Cousin's Barbecue on Saturday night followed by cake in the activity center at her retirement community.  Yesterday, most reconvened to have lunch -- fajitas from Rosa's -- and more fellowship.  It was a good time and I think she enjoyed it. 

Three of her granddaughters were captured in this lovely photo

Jan, Bri and Jill
My daughter posted this photo on FB saying that all they needed was Sarah, Rachel and Rebecca.  Well, they couldn't attend but they sent their picture to be part of it all and here they are --

Rachel, Sarah and Rebecca
All such beautiful girls -- I wish they could have all been together for a photo.

And, some of the younger generation --

Mateo, Bean and Dante
Nothing like bonding over video games -- Spy Mouse specifically.

It was a good day -- hopefully there will be a repeat next year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Oh, It's Sewing Time Again.....

Most everybody who reads my blog knows about Bean.  What most people don't know is that I have three other grandchildren -- Nathan, 8 1/2 yrs., Kathryn, 7 yrs. and Emily who is about to reach a milestone birthday -- 1 yr.

I don't talk about these three grandchildren much because their parents don't want their photos on the internet.  I completely understand that and I completely respect that.  I am very careful when putting most any photos up anyway and I certainly don't want to go against their wishes.

However, my daughter-in-law contacted me last week and was wondering if I would be interested in making coordinating outfits for K and E for an upcoming autumnal photo op.  I said sure but time was short so it would have to be something very simple.  I sew but I am not all that great so I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew for the time allotted.

We decided on a simple little skirt for K in autumn colors.  I went to my favorite quilting shop -- Quilter's Stash in Hurst -- and found this lovely French General fabric from Moda.  The finish is almost that of a polished cotton although not quite.  It lost a bit of that finish when I washed it prior to sewing but washing is necessary as I don't want it to shrink the first time out of the box.  So, here is the little 1 hour skirt.

Since I was sewing and going by measurement only, without the children, it is a guess that it will fit.  I went by Mom's measurements though so hoping for the best.

And, for E, I decided on a coordinating fabric to be made up into one of those little jumpers/dresses that lap over the shoulder and button.  I used to make these, romper style, for E's father when he was little -- complete with grippers in the crotch -- so I am familiar with the style.  So, here it is as well.

It is much smaller than it looks here and I am sorry for my glare-y white freezer in the background.  This fabric is from the same French General collection and the colors, of course, match perfectly.

E is going to wear this as a jumper over a tee or onesie in cream and K will be wearing her skirt with a cream turtleneck or something similar.  Our weather has turned colder now and so something long sleeved would be appropriate and I think they are going to be very cute in their fall photos.

I wish I could show you a photo of the girls in the outfits but unfortunately that can't happen.  I am just hoping that the measurements were correct and that they fit them.  I think they turned out lovely and will be a nice complement to a photo session in this nice, crispy weather.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Everything Old is New Again

It recently occurred to me that I have sort of been a "sandwich generation" person all my life in all sorts of ways.  I was smack in the middle of myself and four cousins -- all girls -- and the only brunette.  I spent my 40's sandwiched between caring for children and caring for ageing parents.  I am spending my 60's caring for grandchildren and very aged mother-in-law (although there isn't a lot of caretaking going on as much as being "on hold" for any emergency).

It also came to my mind that I am a "sandwich generation" person in another respect.  Being a baby boomer I have lived in the middle of post-war times and the technological age.  This is where things get dicey.

When growing up, in the 1950's, we lived a modern life.  We had indoor plumbing, refrigeration, freezers, cars, vacuum cleaners, washers, dishwashers, radio, television, two newspapers and mail delivery.  I don't remember life without these things and now we can add all the more modern amenities to that list -- computers, cell phones, tablets, e-readers, digital everything - it is mind boggling.

So, why, when I have never known a time when I didn't have modern conveniences would I be gradually employing  methods of doing things that belonged to my grandmother's generation? 

For instance, grocery shopping.  I have a large fridge/freezer and a supplemental freezer in my laundry room.  My idea of stocking a pantry is buying up a ton of canned goods, dried items like beans, rice, fruit, copious amounts of flour, sugar, baking supplies -- I like to cook from raw ingredients rather than processed mixes -- however, we can't really do that anymore, now can we with the BPA in the cans.  Buy frozen?  Yes, that is one solution.  But, I find myself throwing out so much produce that I am inclined to shop like our grandmother's generation did -- every couple of days.  I really don't like grocery shopping so that would sound like a nightmare, wouldn't it? It sort of is but not nearly the nightmare of worrying about poisoning yourself with canned food.  Hmmm.  Quite the dilemma.

And then there is the housekeeping.  I make my own laundry detergent -- there is something comforting about knowing what goes in that since it is up against your skin and skin absorbs everything.  I actually like doing it.  But vacuuming is another story.  I have a lovely little vacuum cleaner - she is red and her name is Ruby.  She is a Miele and cleans like a dream.  However, more times than not I find myself with broom or dust mop in hand, dust cloth swishing the furniture.  Why?  Why have I morphed into my mother -- every time I get out the dust mop I see my mother with hers madly cleaning our original "tiny" house.  My aunt wasn't like that - she loved her vacuum cleaner.  My mother, not so much.  Maybe it is genetic? 

Ever since we re-vamped our television viewing opportunity -- chopped the daylights out of cable and went back to an antenna, Roku and Tivo -- I have turned the tv off. It no longer runs 24/7.  My house now feels like my childhood home - we didn't have the tv on all day, just when some specific soaps were on -- I distinctly remember "Secret Storm" and "The Edge of Night".  We only had three channels back in the 1950's and it signed off at midnight so our viewing pleasure was limited at best.  We read alot, did cross word puzzles, played games and such.  Now I am reading a lot, doing cross word puzzles, and playing games even though one of them is electronic. Oh, and puzzles -- love puzzles.

I have had a love/hate relationship with technology since it first came into my home.  I have had every generation Nook that has been manufactured and I might add the last one is a complete bust.  I do like the Nook Glo-light for reading but the rest of them are sort of miserable.  I have been looking at an ipad or a kindle but I really like my little netbook and have opted to not replace the Nooks yet -- maybe something about me still carrying physical books around has something to do with it.  I prefer physical books.  Yes, they are harder to tote around and I can't carry a whole library in my purse but I can't read a whole library at one time either. 

So, this morning as I stood at the sink washing a load of dishes -- by hand rather than loading the dishwasher -- it occurred to me why I am travelling back in time so to speak. 


I see my mother and my grandmother.  Doing things the old fashioned way reminds me of a gentler, less complicated, and yes, probably happier, time.  Not that I am not happy, I am very happy and I am very blessed, but the world was happier.  I feel like I can draw the drapes, put on the radio, wash my dishes and close out all the bad going on in the world.  It must be contagious because the other day, in the car, I was trying to interest Bean in listening to a CD but her response was "oh, Nona, just put on the radio"! 

So, I will probably go on doing things the "old fashioned" way, dating myself and making myself feel like an dotty old lady but that seems to be my happy place as I keep going back there more and more -- lot cheaper than therapy, wouldn't you say?

Now, I am off to the store.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

1 November 1969

Today is the 46th anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, James William Davis.

My grandfather was born in 1896 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to James W. Davies and Dinah Webb Davies.  He was one of twelve children born to the couple and the second born in the United States.  James Sr. and Dinah immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1889 or 90 (sources vary) with three children in tow, at least three left buried in Wales and then went on to have several more here.

Their name was "Davies" but when starting school, the "sister school" as he called it (the neighborhood Catholic school, probably St. Ann's), his name was inadvertently spelled  "Davis" and he remained a "Davis" for evermore.

He was not a large man.  He stood 5'4" in his prime and he still wore a boys size shoe at his death.  His height shouldn't have been a surprise to anybody as his mother could stand upright under his outstretched arm.  Of his own four children, the tallest grew to be 5'6". 

What he lacked in stature he made up for in spirit -- as did all of his children.  A feisty bunch they were.  Many people said my grandfather was mean and I have to admit that I can see where he would come across that way but he was never mean to me.  However, if you slammed the back screen door too many times he would get annoyed and let you know not to do it again but mean?  No.

In fact, I adored him.  I always felt very secure with him.  There were many times when I was hurt or sick that he was the one to haul me to the doctor's office.  There were times when I needed something for school and he was the one that would make it.  I remember one time we were in the yard picking up pecans  -- well, he was picking them up and I was toddling behind him pushing pecans back into the ground -- those little trees were still coming up when he passed away. 

One of my favorite things to do with him was eat.  They had a small kitchen with a little drop-leaf table and we would eat together.  My mom and I went to their house almost daily -- they just lived on the next street (you could see their house from our backyard) and we would eat pork and beans, or fried potatoes but the best thing was the Welsh rarebit.  He didn't put beer in it but he had a little tiny pan that he would melt that cheese in and spread it on toast and it was delightful! And tea and toast.  Always tea and toast.

I wish that I had talked more to my grandfather about his childhood, his life in Pennsylvania, his life in the mines at age 11.  I wish I had known more about his parents and relationships with his siblings.  I got snippits, of course, and can visualize a bit but I wish I had been more aggressive in my questions.  But, I am thankful for what I know, thankful he was my grandfather and such a big part of my life and thankful for the things I learned from him.  I miss him to this day.

Oh, by the way, I still have the little drop leaf table.

I miss you PaPa.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

And Here's the Reason Why

I have been absent from this blog for a bit and here's the reason why.  I have been busy sewing.  I am still sewing but thought I would share a bit of what I have been doing.  This is ALL I have been doing, I haven't even been reading and that is something because that is my all-time favorite pastime.  So, here are a few of my creations  -- haha -- sounds like some sort of designer-speak and that I am truly NOT.  But anyway, here is what I have been doing for the last several weeks.

First off, I made a little slip for Bean.  You can't just go into Sears and buy 2 packs of little slips for little girls anymore (you can buy them online from Mennonite women who charge a lot of money for them).  So, rather than line the dresses, I decided to just create a little slip.  I used a really soft cotton/poly batiste for this -- the same thing I have used to line dresses before and it worked well.  I just adjusted the dress pattern -- lowered the neckline, enlarged the armholes a bit , and shortened it enough to be shorter than the dress (no draggy petticoats here!) and voila -- a slip.  I bound the neck and armholes with single fold bias tape and made a placket in the back with a button on it.  Unfortunately I didn't have any cute little white buttons  so it is closed with a hot pink heart shaped button that I didn't take a picture of because I will probably replace it at some point.

Sorry for the lousy photo quality but I did do a bit of decorative stitching down the sides of the placket -- the first and only time I have used the deco stitches on my machine.  I am such a trend setter.

Here is the dress.  It looks a bit like a gunny sack here but Bean really likes little a-line dresses.  This pattern went together like a dream -- probably the first time in all my years of sewing that THAT happened.  It is a cute little medallion print with some little buttons.  I would have put more detail on it but my daughter is very much the minimalist so I am keeping things simple.  It fits her really well and now that the weather has cooled so much she will have to wear a sweater with it.  There is a long sleeve option which I might use if I make more.

And last, for definitely not least, here is our little "saint" costume.  You can't see the detail but that dress has a sweetheart waistline.  What a pain!  I had to alter a pilgrim collar to create the cape but the mop cap pattern worked great for the hat. 

And, without further adieu---

Meet our version of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton -- an American saint who lived during Revolutionary War years, was an Episcopalian, married with four children.  She was introduced to Catholicism in Italy after the death of her husband.  She lost two of her four children and went on to become a nun, form an order of sisters, start several schools and was sainted in 1979. 

Bean is very inappropriately wearing one of my hand tied rosaries around her neck but it wasn't long enough to tie around her waist so, they improvised. 

That cutie in the coral shirt is MY baby!

So, folks, that is what has been going on here.  Who knew that creating three little things could so totally destroy a house, make a mess that has taken me days to straighten up and robbed of me of my reading guilty pleasure. 

On to the next project.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Miss Me Yet?

For anybody who might be looking for me I have gone on a bit of a sabbatical.  I am trying to finish some sewing so I have had to curtail my computer fun for a while.  It seems that getting online "for a minute" morphs into hours and hours and I don't get anything else done.  So....yes, I am taking a bit of a break.

I had two little dresses to make - I have completed one.  I had the saint costume to make -- that is completed except for ribbons on the hat.  I had to sew Girl Scout badges on the vest -- now I remember how dreadful that is.  I have two quilts to finish.

So, I decided to start another project! Of course!  I have ranted and raved here in the past about the inability to find some essential articles of clothing so I decided to take the situation into my own hands.  You can no longer buy little girls underslips.  Oh, you can if you want to purchase online from Gehman's Country Fabrics in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  A little girl's slip is $7.99.  However, you can't go to the mall, to Sears, and buy the two-to-a-package little slips anymore.  I went to Joann Fabrics armed with a coupon and purchased enough batiste to make two slips.  I have used this fabric before to line some little dresses but I didn't want to do that -- I wanted a slip.  So, I altered the dress pattern I was using -- a little shift dress -- cut out the armholes a bit and the cut the neck down.  I created a placket in the back seam, bound the neck and armholes and will add either a button or a hook and eye and voila! a slip.  It is very soft fabric and I think it will work well to add just a nice little layer.  I will take a photo when I finish. 

Anyway, that is what I am up to and I am on a roll -- if I stop I may never start again.  So...back to the machine.  Be back soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Decluttering -- Other than the Closets and Drawers

Lately I have felt overwhelmed and I am not sure why.  Yes, looming health questions are playing havoc with my nerves but that isn't all of it.  I just feel overwhelmed.  Things are bothering me.

Noise bothers me.  When I was a child growing up we always had the radio or the television going.  My father kept late hours so when I went to bed it was never silent.  The day I got married and went to my apartment with my new husband was a day I will never forget -- for obvious reasons -- but some not very obvious ones as well.  As we retired for the night we shut down the apartment and I became very aware, disturbingly aware of how dark and quiet it was. I was almost frightened.  It was so different than what I was used to.  I remember childhood days with the windows open blowing the white organdy curtains.  I remember smelling the little wildflowers that grew in our unlandscaped back yard.  I remember the smell of the air after it rained.  I remember the jingle of the Tiner's ice cream truck and the kids playing in the yard.  When did these lovely sounds and smells get replaced with noise.  Just noise.  Traffic noise, electronic noise, white noise to sleep -- just nerve jangling noise.

Now, noise bothers me.  I crave silence.  We recently changed our television service -- we got rid of cable and went to an antenna, Roku, and Tivo.  It is wonderful.  I no longer have the urge to mindlessly flip through channels with the constant noise droning on and on. 

Darkness bothers me.  We have a very open floorplan house with many windows and I have to have those windows open.  Gone are the days of me wanting everything closed up tight with dim lighting and coziness all around.  I want it open.  And light.  And quiet.  I remember sleeping with the windows open and the curtains open.  I remember being able to hear my uncle, who was ill and lived across the street, coughing at night.  I remember being able to see the blinking red light on the tall building downtown where my father worked at night at the television station (yes, I could see it from my bedroom).  I remember things being open and not having to worry about having things locked up like a fortress.  I remember the screen door latch -- that was enough to keep intruders out.  First thing in the morning the door would come open and the screen latched and that is the way it stayed all day. 

Clutter bothers me.  I wasn't always that way.  My mother and I would have words over the state of my dresser when I was a teenager.  I had to have everything I owned on top of that dresser within view. That wasn't quite her idea.  She would clean it off and I would junk it up.  One day we actually had an argument over it.  She won.  Now ....  I can't stand stuff on the furniture. 

I want it quiet, open, and light without anything sitting around.

I am pretty much addicted to facebook.  It is not good for me.  I have always had a tendency to get "down in the dumps" -- not full-blown depressed (too busy for that) but moody.  I am finding myself to be that way more and more lately and I blame it on facebook.  So, recently, instead of just closing the computer only to come back a half hour later to see what is going on and who is on and who is saying what, I have started logging off because, basically, I am lazy and logging back on is just too much trouble.  Last night, however, I was looking critically at what I was actually paying attention to and there is no wonder I could be slightly moody.  The political posts, the prepper posts, the terrorist posts, the abused dog posts, the abused children posts, the critically ill children posts, the posts about all the dangers for the kids, the posts about how everything we eat and drink is killing us -- it is just too much.  I am getting too much of all of this stuff. It is so troubling and there isn't anything I can do about any of it. 

So, I decided to "declutter" my facebook account.  I deleted some people (sorry!).  I reduced contact with others.  Now the people that I will readily hear from are people that I actually know and have active communication with -- most of them are family.  I looked at the groups that I am a part of -- most of which I had no idea I was a part of.  I deleted almost all of them. One is particularly bothersome because the moderator is pretty much of a bully.  I deleted the game apps (except for Words with Friends that I play with my daughter).  I deleted all personal information although there wasn't much up there.  I breathed a sigh of relief and felt great accomplishment when I was done.  It is amazing how we get sucked into stuff like that and it is also amazing how we get into so many things on the internet without our knowledge.  It seems every time I do a search for something I am getting ads for that product or I am put on some sort of mail list.  I even get ads for things my husband searches for on HIS computer.  I don't especially like the feeling that everything is so incredibly "out there". I am not a particularly paranoid person but I don't doubt the existence of "big brother".

I have also had to come to terms with my 'thing' with technology.  I love it but it doesn't love me.  I find it frustrating.  I have had each generation of Nook and each one is different with good points and bad points.  My most recent acquisition of the Samsung Galaxy Nook blah blah from last Christmas is annoying.  It overheats, it runs out of memory even with an SD card and I basically put it in the drawer because it was too much trouble to deal with.  I still have my Nook HD that I like to play a couple of games on but not on a regular basis.  I love my little Nook Glowlight because I don't have to charge it every chapter or so.  And, I love my little Asus netbook.  I have been reading real books because you don't have to worry about them running out of charge in the middle of a chapter.  How could something so simple trump something so innovative, timely, and sophisticated?

Am I just getting old?  Is the world just moving too fast for me?  Am I slowing down?  Hopelessly out of touch?  I feel myself going backward in time -- I am creating my personal space -- the one I actually live in -- to be more like it was forty years ago.  I am not particularly happy in the here and now.  Now, don't get me wrong - I don't want to LEAVE the here and now -- I am having too much fun with my family and there are other aspects of my life where I feel energetic and young(er) and interested but there are too many things today that are too negative and too sinister -- has it always been that way and we didn't know about it?  Are we living on the information highway too much?

So, the only way I know to deal with things is to limit my exposure to all the negativity -- less FB reading and more blog reading.  Less news coverage and more book reading.  Maybe that is putting myself in a bubble -- ostrich, head, sand sort of thing but I am afraid that is what I am going to have to do or my head is going to explode.

I Get It

I arose this morning before the sun.  I opened the curtain hoping to see some sort of wildlife.  There was none.   It is still after the windy "cold front" that moved through yesterday threatening the never-ending summer.  It isn't cold but a change in the air is detectable.  It is thoughtful sort of morning, misty memories floating through my consciousness.  Somehow, in an instant, I understand. 

When I was growing up I lived a different sort of life from my peers.  My father was "famous".  He was a local newscaster for the CBS affiliate station.  He expected us to adhere to certain standards.  We had to look the part.  I am not sure why, we were just plain people from south Texas.  So, from a young age I went to the beauty shop.  When I was about 12 I insisted that that little ritual stop when the beautician wouldn't quit doing my hair in Shirley Temple curls.  It was the 60's for goodness sake.  Our house was post-World War II tract housing but my mother furnished it in the latest trends.  I remember it well -- blond, limed oak furniture, a sophisticated tweed, one armed sofa, a black soapstone lamp that you could actually plant ivy in.  Somehow I never thought that was a good idea -- water, electricity - yeah, not a good idea.  I remember the kitchen -- blue and while tile counters (called drain boards, back then) and my mother had this lovely speckled linoleum (I purchased the same thing, twice, for various houses) and she painted the walls parchment beige and cabinets a lovely mocha shade.  A woman ahead of her time, clearly. 

In the mid 50's we lost the tweed sofa and tubby occasional chairs -- replaced with a t-seat sofa and matching chairs.  I loved that set and have, in fact, purchased something quite similar for my own home. Mother was a mover and a shaker -- didn't like to settle in on something for too long -- when a style changed, so did she.  I can sort of understand my father's dismay for this constant updating.

At some point in the early 60's my mother decided we should move to a larger house -- one she knew well because it belonged to a friend.  We moved.  This necessitated a change in furniture.  Out went the lovely mid-century modern and t-seat suite and in came the Early American trend, so popular at that time.  Larger house meant larger furniture.  It was lovely but oh, my, what a pain to dust.  All those little turned legs and nooks and crannies.   She decorated and polished.  It looked like a department store. 

Around 1967 we made another move -- back to the original home which they still had.  Hmmm....smaller house (a tiny house by today's "tiny house movement" standard) and large furniture.  Large, heavy, dark furniture.  I missed the mid-century modern but it wasn't my call.  Mom still polished and hung colonial decorations asymetrically on the walls.  We lived in a harvest gold and avocado green world -- colors I never particularly liked but carried on into my own home due to popularity.

In 1969 our version of the tiny house burned down.  We were in it.  We got out.  Everybody was ok -- even the dog.  However, something happpened to my mother.  Not physically.  Emotionally the desire to be house proud left her in an instant. 

We moved back into the house after the rebuiltd  It looked the same -- sort of -- but it was missing some of the charming things that made it nice in spite of its' tiny footprint.  The faceted glass doorknobs were gone as were the lovely paneled doors -- replaced with brass hardware and slab doors.  Not the same.  The tile in the kitchen with the site-built cabinets were gone and replaced with stock, ready to hang, cabinets and formica.  Ok, no grout to bleach on a regular basis but---- there was no grout to bleach -- the routine was broken.

As was my mother.  From that point on, my mother didn't hang on to anything material.  There was minimal decoration, things that were lost from the fire weren't replaced, There was nothing sitting around, no knick-knacks, no plants, nothing.  She didn't care.  I didn't get it.  Home was different.  My mother was different.  What had happened to my life?

Yesterday, I got it.  I believe my mother had reached the time in her life that I have reached now although she was considerably younger at the time.  It is the realization that material things just don't make you happy.  Material things are clutter.  Material things are things to be dusted, and cleaned and moved around and shifted and clearly things to multiply in the night.  I have heard other people say, after fires and other natural disasters, that material goods just didn't have the same impact on them as they used to.  Some people, in fact, look at it as a blessing.  I wouldn't wish any sort of a natural disaster on anybody anywhere under any circumstances but there is something about starting over that is cathartic.

Yesterday I walked through my house and I looked at it, critically, from the front door and tried to see what others see when they walk in.  It is crowded.  There is too much stuff.  It grates on my nerves. It makes me tired.  I think that is where my mother's head was -- she was just tired.  Granted, she was only 46 years old at that time but she was tired.  I am tired.  I don't wish to spend my time dusting spindly little legs on furniture.  I don't wish to spend my money on decorations that need to be stored or dusted or washed (thank you Hobby Lobby for all the lovely seasonal decorations that I won't be buying).  I understand where my mother's head was when she would clean the house (always smelled like Pine-sol and lemon oil) and then just want to sit down with a book. 

I get it.  It has taken me longer than her but -- I get it. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Boy, Was I Wrong!

I thought that my elder years would be spent lolling around, eating bon-bons, watching game shows on tv and generally vegetating.  Well, I guess I was wrong.  First off, I don't feel like an "elder" person -- I still listen to rock and roll music for goodness sakes!  I am pretty up on pop culture (much to my husband's dismay) and I still like fashion and makeup an such -- oh, and bon-bons, too!

However, what isn't happening is the lolling around.  I am as busy now as I ever have been and for that I am thankful.  I don't think I would "loll" very well.  I am learning new things (crochet) and I am cooking from scratch -- all.the.time.  I am also sewing-- a lot.

So, while I have been away from here for several days, I haven't been sitting still.  I have been sewing.  I am making a quilt from these fabrics --

It is a very simple quilt with the "map" as the center and then borders of the other two.  I am handquilting it, without a hoop or frame, and I have pinned it with over 800 safety pins spaced 2" apart.  I didn't think that quilting without a hoop would be possible -- or at least enjoyable -- but it is.  I haven't had any hand pain at all and that has made it a very enjoyable project.

Also, coming up at the end of October is Bean's school's answer to Halloween.  It is called "Saints and Angels" Day.  For pre-k 3 and 4 she was an angel.  This year she gets to be a saint.  She also got to choose her saint and she chose the obvious -- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton -- her school's namesake.  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton appeals to my daughter's interest as she is an American saint, born during the American Revolution era and was originally Episcopalian. So, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton we will be.

So, I am adapting this pattern -- and doing it by hand, I might add because I have discovered that sewing clothing by hand (couture) allows me to sit in front of the television as I stitch and not in the back bedroom by myself.

I am using the blue dress pattern with the cap from the upper left view and I am lengthening the pilgrim collar to be a cape.

And then, the Bean needs some fall dresses for church.  I am making this one up out of something -- not sure what.  I made a muslin (first time ever) for fit and surprisingly, it fit! So, on I will go.

So, that is what I have been doing while I am waiting for more medical tests -- I am still waiting for an appointment (they will call -- SOMETIME) and trying to maintain some form of sanity.

And cooking -- I am enjoying cooking, for some odd reason, even though my husband doesn't seem to enjoy my cooking -- unless it is bread.

On a somewhat sad, yet humorous note, I have been forced to recognize that I am not a spring chicken anymore which probably means that I should cut my hair because old hens don't wear long hair -- right?  Anyway, I had to attend a funeral yesterday.  I have lost about 1 1/2 inch in height which means my slacks are too long.  I decided to wear some heels of the lower, kitten style.  Bad, bad bad decision.  I have arthritis in my feet and haven't worn heels in years -- YEARS -- I could hardly walk.  My toes hurt me so much last night I thought I was going to cry -- I seem to have arthritis in the joints where my tiny little delicate toes attach to my feet.  I figured I would be fine this morning.  Again -- WRONG! I can hardly walk -- my right foot hurts so much!  I think I will be doing a bit of decluttering with all my heels!  That way I can make room for my new orthopedic shoes which I will probably need after this.

Lesson learned.  Oh well at least I get to go shoe shopping! That is always fun.

So, anyway, that is what I have been doing.  I will post quilt pics when I get a little farther along.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Since I haven't been here in a while I thought I should update and explain my absence.  I have been spending a good deal of time with health care issues -- by that I mean obsessing and freaking out.  I had a ct scan on 9/1 and it showed two very small although enlarged lymph nodes next to my aorta.  Three doctors have seen it and nobody can really tell what is going on and none of the radiologists want to do a biopsy because of location.  So, I will go in for more scanning.  I have been waiting for phone calls to make appointments.  All month.  Nobody seems to be in a hurry.  In the meantime I am trying to stay busy and maintain my sanity.  I am not doing particularly well on either task. 

I am, however, taking my nervous energy out on a quilt I am hand quilting.  I haven't hand quilted anything in a very long time because it hurts my hands.  However, I decided to pin this quilt with about a bazillion curved safety pins and I am quilting without a hoop and it hasn't really bothered my hands at all.  It is also much easier to manipulate the fabric as well.  The quilt is heavy as it is heavy batting and, again a bazillion safety pins but it is going well and I will post photos at a later date.

We are also trying to figure out how to get rid of cable and still meet our media needs.  I have put Hubs on that project and I hope it doesn't get the best of him.  TV watching is our primary source of entertainment even though it is hugely lacking.  However, I am getting tired of our cable packages that include more channels that we don't watch than those we do.  So, we are researching HD antennas, TiVO, and all manner of other nifty gadgets for my husband to figure out how to hook up.  I figure it keeps his mind working.  Hahaha!

Ok, so on that note, I need to get back to the quilt -- I would like to have it finished before the weather gets cold because it is a quilt to be used.  More later...

Monday, August 31, 2015


When I was growing up I lived across the street from my cousin, JLSHall.  We lived in what was the boom of post-war housing.  We lived in small houses that now fit into the "tiny house" spectrum, all being in the 950-1100 sq. ft. range.

The houses in the photo above are not of my street but it could be.  The house on the far right looks amazingly like the house I grew up in -- white asbestos shingles, royal blue shutters, the same sort of small front porch but the roof was dark blue.  It sort of makes me homesick to look at this photo. My aunt's house was across the street and the color scheme was green. 

These houses were built with returning soldiers in mind and with the idea that there would be huge booms in the economy and retail and manufacturing and there was.  These houses were full of families -- kids in almost each and every one.  However, I assume the builders knew that the houses would be too small for very large families so they placed them on very large lots with room to expand.

We didn't expand and neither did my aunt and uncle.  My uncle however did build a rather large pigeon coop toward the back of the lot up against a patio that he put in the middle of the yard.  He had lots of pigeons and JLSHall and I loved to play in that coop much to our mother's dismay -- it wasn't all that tidy!  My uncle cleaned it out regularly but not as regularly as the pigeons messed it up.

It was great fun to be in that yard at dusk when he would whistle and the pigeons, with their little colored bands on their legs, would line up on the telephone wires and wait.

 He would fill the feed, open the door and they would all go home to roost for the night.  I loved playing with the bands.  They were very colorful and fun to sort.

So, when I saw Pidge for the first time that is what I thought of -- those fun evenings watching Uncle Frank's pigeons.  So now, every morning I am on the lookout for Pidge -- and he is usually there.

I don't know much about pidgeons but my husband says it is odd that he is alone, they usually travel in pairs.  I don't know where his partner is, or his flock but I do know that I really enjoy looking out the door first thing and seeing him pecking around on the patio or sitting on the fence.  He makes me smile.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Old Fashioned Living

I know I am getting old.  Maybe that old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is really  true.  I always thought I was on the cutting edge but now I am not so sure. 

I have been reading blogs written by women who enjoy living in a different era.  Some do it to the extreme and on purpose, others just don't see any reason to change the way they do things -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" sort of mindset.

I have sort of been drifting backward to the days of my youth. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no intention of giving up my electric lights, my indoor plumbing, my television, dishwasher, computer, etc.  However, there are some things that we have/do today that I think are detrimental to our health and planet and those things are things I would like to find an alternative for.

I had just about gone "paper-free" in the kitchen although I will never train my family to use cloth napkins rather than paper.  However, after a recent eye infection and the yuck factor that comes from that, I went back to paper in the kitchen and the bathrooms.

However, with that said, my sensibilities are sending me right back to regular towels -- I just can't stand the waste of the paper.

Another thing that has gotten my attention lately is plastic -- again.  My house is almost plastic free but I do still buy plastic food bags of the zip lock variety.  I made a bunch of cookies last week and stored some in a Hefty zipper bag.  The next morning I opened the bag and was met with a horrible, toxic plastic smell.  Out went the cookies and off I went to buy some glass jars to store leftovers and such in.  Last night I was thinking about it and checked the brand and decided that I won't buy Hefty anymore but will continue to buy Ziploc brand.  I have never had any problem with Ziploc products but I am going to move toward glass as often as I can.

I was thinking about all the plastic in our homes as I was wrangling a bunch of coat hangers -- wire and plastic alike.  Then, my eyes landed on a coat hanger that I have had in my closet forever.  It was "made" by my cousin's grandmother who was like another grandmother to me.  She lived with my cousin, aunt and uncle and they lived right across the street from me so she was a grandmotherly figure to me as well.  She used to sit and cover these coat hangers with strips from old sheeting.  She would make them by the dozens.  Everybody in the family wanted some. 

 She would cut worn out sheets into long strips and then use a larks head knot to cover the entire hanger.  You can tell they are old because the hanger is much heavier than metal hangers today and the sheeting hasn't fallen apart and these are at least 60 years old.  I wish I had more because they are a wonderful alternative to the plastic ones in the closet now.  I might have to try my hand at it.

Another thing that has been changed around here are the plastic cups I schlep to school for Bean to have a drink after school in the car.  I have a couple of these

but have become increasingly concerned about them.  I know they are BPA free but the straw mechanism is complicated and I forget to get them out of the car and I am never sure that I get them clean enough and I don't like the idea of leaving them in a hot car, BPA or no.  So, I have made a change from these to these

Yes, Bean will be drinking from a humble mason jar with a BPA free lid adapter and a straw -- straight forward and easy to clean.

And, last but not least, we have a new creature in the back garden.  It is the biggest pigeon I have ever seen.  He lets the sparrows throw the seed out of the feeder (out of sight here) and then he forages food from the patio.  He is huge. He is really gorgeous.  Love having him around,

These are the earth shattering, life changing things that have been on my mind this week.  Now I guess I will get back to the laundry and sweeping and I am going to try a rice pudding recipe I received yesterday (thank you Mary).  I will let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

It was Monday.  Hubs and I decided to spend the day doing fun things.  We went to Northeast Mall, to Sears, to buy a line splitter (I have no clue, don't ask).  We went to Cabela's to buy fitover sunglasses (they are lovely).  We went to lunch at Chaps (best burgers in the world).  We went by my daughter's house to get a pick-up sign for my granddaughter's express line pickup.  We were too early so we went for a little ride.  It was a lovely, relaxed day.

And then it wasn't.

We were driving south on US 377 and had just gone through the Kroger intersection.  We were in the far left hand lane next to the turn lane.  We saw the car turn, we heard the explosive impact, we never saw the motorcycle.  On impact there were vehicle parts flying into the air.  The motorcycle was completely decimated.  The car's front end was gone, the driver had lost control and was up on the curb then back on the street and finally came to a stop.  As we passed by we could see him -- the motorcycle rider.  He was on the pavement.  He was young, not very big, lots of dark hair and, on quick review, very broken -- he was gone.

Hubs tried to stop but the traffic was bad and we couldn't.  I grabbed my phone and called the police.  As we turned the corner to go to Bean's school we saw the police officers who usually monitor the traffic through there (5 schools in close proximity) turn on their sirens and head that way.  As we waited for Bean we saw the Careflight helicopters overhead -- two of them.  Neither for the motorcycle rider. 

There were four people in the car -- all adults.  Two were ok and two were taken, by air, to local hospitals in critical condition -- one went immediately into surgery from all accounts.  The last report I heard was that they were all expected to be ok.  My daughter's neighbor, a fire fighter that was on one of the helicopters, told her the people in the car would be fine but that it was a really awful accident.

They finally released the name of the young man.  I searched for a facebook page for him and found it.  There he was with his blue motorcycle -- a crotch rocket as they are called.  He was very proud of it.  It looked to be brand new.  Some of the comments were disturbing -- they made mention of his reckless driving.  There were comments from his mother about how dangerous and scary it was.  There were comments from a girl that I assumed was his girlfriend. I went to her page.  The pain was palpable.   Today she has posted photos of a makeshift memorial at the site with her laying on the place that his body last rested. 

There were calls to the Keller police department last weekend reporting a blue motorcycle driving very fast and popping wheelies on this same road.  They have no way of telling if it was the same driver.  However, this young man's rate of speed as he made impact with the car was at least, if not greater than, 100 mph.  It was 2:30 in the afternoon on a busy street -- the first day of school with lots of buses and parents on their way to pick up children.  It is sobering to think that, had he swerved another way or weaved between two different cars, it could have been us as we were that close.  As the debris rained down from that clear, blue sky we could hear it hit the ground -- we were close enough to check our car to see if anything had hit it.  Physically we, and all those around us, were fine but the emotional impact is unexplainable.   I visited the DFW Scanner Facebook page and joined in the convo there and everybody who witnessed this tragedy were shaken and expressing a good deal of distress over watching it.  Myself included.  My husband was shaken to the point that he went very quiet and was visibly upset. 

So, this morning as I read comments from his mother and see his girlfriend's attempts to understand, I have to admit, I don't understand.  Looking at this young man's photo -- he is just a baby -- born the year my son graduated high school.  He had his whole life ahead and jeopardized it for a thrill.

In the blink of an eye how so many lives were changed.  It is life changing to witness a person die -- it was quick -- it was irreversible.  The people in the car might be ok physically but what about emotionally.  They will always question whether they could have changed something even though they probably never saw the motorcycle bearing down on their car.  The witnesses who watched helplessly as this young man left this earth, a broken child -- somebody's child, somebody's special person -- and we wonder why.

Monday started out a really good day.

And then, it wasn't.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slow Thursday

Today is starting out to be a slow, relaxing day.  We had some rain last night which has lowered our temperature to the mid 60's (F) -- a pleasant relief from the triple digits of the recent past.  As I ventured out into the garden to enjoy the respite from the heat I captured a few snaps to share.

Not sure the rain is over and isn't that a sad tree in the property behind us?

The remains of the storm from last night

The garden looking pretty good -- thanks Hubs!

The birds are enjoying multiple bathing opportunities -- also still have to plant ot the pots

Baby pears on my non-bearing pear tree
the sky yesterday morning

isn't there an old saying about red skies at morning, sailor take warning?

Lovely wispy zigzaggy pink clouds
one of our resident cardinal couples

So, my thoughts for today are on doing some batch cooking and beginning a new quilt.  Also, maybe starting some autumn cross stitch.  We will see how it goes.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Taking Inventory

I am a coward -- in regards to health care.  There is no other way to put it.  I am amazed at modern medicine and the advances made therein but when it comes to me, I am chicken.  I have been known to skirt the health care issues in the past and that didn't bode well with me so, for the last couple of years, I have made a conscious effort to "put on my big girl panties" and quit acting like a baby and get on with it.

So, this summer, my goal was to get all my chickens in a row, so to speak, to get all the health care issues addressed.  So, here is how I have done so far:

1.  Dental care -- three small fillings, two crowns re-done -- completed --
     everything doing well.  Not bad considering that I hadn't been to the dentist
     since the chemo.

2.  Eyes tested and new glasses -- completed--cataracts right on schedule but not
     ready for surgery

3.  Mammogram-- ok, this was the scariest thing ever and I am not sure why. 
     Not the first one but without a doubt terrifying.  Completed.  Everything is

4.  CT Scan -- upcoming

5.  Port removal - yes, please.

So, I seem to be doing well in my attempt to be a functioning adult and quit whining. 

In addition to all that good news and organization I leave you with this smile for the day--

Bean's first day of kindergarten! They usually take a first day photo in front of the school but today it was taken at her place in her classroom.  She was very excited that she was placed in the room she wanted and was very happy that there is a large selection of books in the reading area of the room.  Oh yes, I guess I should add that during the summer, she became a Reading Bean as well! We had all been working with her on her reading but over the summer she just took off and can read whole books all by herself! Her mother is looking forward to a very good year!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Introducing Wolfgang

We have a new addition to the back garden.  It is a little gnome that has come to live with Arlo.  His name is Wolfgang.  Hopefully they will get on well and he will be helpful in the garden.

Wolfgang holding a flower pot -- yes, it was Bean's job to take him to his new home

Arlo and Wolfgang outside their "door"
Wolfgang came from Joann Fabrics where they had a small display of Fairy Garden supplies on sale -- I guess fairy gardens are a "summer thing".  I procured him for the hefty price of $1.47.  I might go back in a few days and see what else they have.  I am not sure how the Hubs feels about me building a fairy garden in all the Asiatic jasmine but he hasn't said anything yet so I am thinking he is ok with it since he is the one that decided that Arlo's new home should be in the boulder.

I am hoping that as summer starts to fade and autumn creeps in Arlo and Wolfgang are cozy in their sturdy, boulder home -- no more trees for Arlo -- he was very upset when the tree fell -- oh my goodness, the things that came out of that little gnome's mouth -- shameful. 

So, there you have it -- Arlo and Wolfgang in their new home.  Hopefully there will be more additions to the "garden" in the future.