Tuesday, January 31, 2017


When I posted earlier about no comments on my blog, it was brought to my attention by a friend that she was commenting but I was not getting them, couldn't see them and couldn't find them.  As I looked around, I learned that the problem seemed to be with Google+.  I have since done away with Google+ and now have a comment.  So glad to be able to see comments again although the previous ones have been lost forever.  The last comment I received was in late November.  So, we shall see how it goes -- I certainly don't want to go back to Wordpress -- too difficult.

Re-thinking the Blog

I have been at this blogging business for quite sometime.  I never had a "theme", it was more eclectic -- whatever was going on in my head.  I have noticed that I am not gaining readers which is fine, it is mostly just for my fun anyway, but people are stopping by to visit but not leaving any comments.

If you stop by to visit I would like to know you have been here so if you could just leave a short comment it would be greatly appreciated.

I have been thinking about whether the blog should have a theme, like reading or needlework but I don't think that would work for me particularly.  I have a wide range of interests and don't really care to have multiple blogs.   I have also considered whether it should go on at all.  It is a consideration.

At any rate, if you stop by, please leave a comment so I know you have been here.  That is primarily how I found blogs to read for myself!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Monday!

It is a glorious Monday here at Maison Brinkley.  It is spring-like outside -- lots of sun and warmth.  More importantly -- less pollen.  That is a good thing.

It was a busy weekend.  I have been working on a project for my eldest granddaughter.  She has to dress up as Betsy Ross for school this week and needed a costume.  I have an "angel" costume that I use for virtually anything -- angel, witch, pirate or....Betsy.  So, here is the finished product -- well, except for the hem.  That remains to be done.  Oh yes, meet Ruby, my little red vacuum cleaner.

I gathered up all the books on my current TBR list and took a photo.  Here there are.

And yesterday, we did this.


It was a very busy weekend.  I got a little tired.  I also got sunburned and while the pollen count is lower I have still been bothered.  Blah.

So, now I am off to make my homemade laundry detergent.  Then I can tackle the mound of laundry that has piled up while I have been having other fun!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Refusing to Spread the Nastiness

This past political season was horrendous.  Politics are bad at best and this past go was especially dirty and mean-spirited.

What?  No, I am not talking about the candidates.  I am talking about people on social media.  You know, the ones who will say anything on that venue but wouldn't say it to your face.  I have blocked people, unfriended people and I even had an argument with a "friend" the other day.

I don't like any of it.

So, I decided to change up my social media feed and post things that I do like, the most unpolitical things I can find.  So far I have posted photos of garden gates, historical facts, and llamas.  I am trying to be careful because I don't want to break any copyright laws but there is so much out there, it is hard to tell what to do.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few of the photos I have shared there.  So, for your unpolitical viewing pleasure--

There are so many cute llama photos out there that I chose this one

but actually, all the politics have left me feeling more like this

So, with that I am going to go look at more happy garden gate photos -- and llamas -- and anything other than politics.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Artist

Our granddaughter, Bean, takes art lessons from a small art school in Keller, Texas.  We have never had the opportunity to take her to her classes or see the inside of the place until yesterday when Mom had a Girl Scout "thing" to attend to at the same time as art.  So, Gramps and I had the privilege of taking Bean to her class.

As with a lot of businesses in the Fort Worth area, it is housed in an old house.  It is colorful and very inviting.

Colorful flamingos

Giant crayons

The sign
I wasn't able to take photos inside but rest assured, each and every wall was covered in student art and it was stupendous!  So colorful, such talent -- what a warm and wonderful place for children to explore the world of art.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaugration Day

Today we celebrate the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Regardless of your political viewpoint, it is a great day to see the democratic process in action.

We are so fortunate, in this day and age, to have the technology that allows all Americans and the rest of the world to view this event.  It is all very patriotic and festive.

I am feeling patriotic today and am so glad to be an American.  God Bless America.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ok, Maybe I Do Have Something to Say

I don't like grocery shopping under the best of circumstances.  I certainly don't like it when I am sick with allergies and the pollen count is really high.  I don't want to leave the house.  So, I have been exploring grocery delivery services this morning.

I really needed to grocery shop this morning.  The Mr. and I talked about it last night.  He accompanies me everywhere I go because.....well, he is retired and has nothing better to do.  I said we needed to go early to get it done as I really feel like rubbish.

It is 11 a.m. and we haven't move -- an inch.  No groceries bought.  Waiting for a phone call that may or may not ever come.

I am annoyed.  So, I started exploring delivery options.

I found Instacart which delivers from all but one of the stores I shop at.  They will deliver in just a couple of hours.  It isn't an outrageous delivery fee if you buy over $35 worth of products.  Who doesn't spend that every time they walk into the store.  Seems like a non-issue to me. 

I told my husband I was going to have the groceries delivered.  He laughed at me and said we would go tonight.  I don't want to go tonight.  I don't feel well, I want to go to bed.  I guess I could make him a list and let him go but since that hasn't happened in years I am pretty sure that isn't even on his radar.

I wonder if he is going to find it so hysterical when there is no dinner.

Yes, I know, I should have just taken myself to the store and ignored him.  I have done it before!

My question is -- thoughts on grocery delivery?

Me With Nothing to Say!!!!

It seems I have nothing to say today.  I am still sick -- have been this way for a week.  Not happy and I can't taste anything.  So, I thought I would share a couple of photos I took a few days ago.  Probably shouldn't have been outside in the cedar pollen to take them but here they are.

A gorgeous Texas sunset --

It was really pink and orange -- you can't really see the intensity here but it was beautiful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What it Means to be Texan

I am a Texan.  I have lived here my entire life.  People are correct when they say it is like a different world.  Texas has it's own culture, sort of it's own language, it's own style.  Texas has lots of things. I have always been proud to be Texan, felt I lived a different life than most Americans (I didn't but that is how it felt), I love it, would never leave it except under duress but I have to say that sometimes it is hard to be a Texan. Why? Read on.

From the Texas State Handbook online we learn this:

TEXAS, ORIGIN OF NAME. The word texas (tejas, tayshas, texias, thecas?, techan, teysas, techas?) had wide usage among the Indians of East Texas even before the coming of the Spanish, whose various transcriptions and interpretations gave rise to many theories about the meaning. The usual meaning was "friends," although the Hasinais applied the word to many groups-including Caddoan-to mean "allies."

This is true, we are a friendly bunch.  We wave a lot, bless peoples hearts a lot, if you go out to the country the farmers still wave at you as you drive down the highway and in the little towns, people still stop, pull over and take off their hats for a funeral procession.  Sometimes, though, it is just hard to feel that "perky" all the time!

We have a style from Texas Tacky decor to big hair  to giant homecoming mums (I really don't get that one).

these are very commonly found on houses or patios

Any small town gift shop or antique store will have these
Big Texas Hair -- my daughter does it SO well
Big Texas Mum
(All of these photos were taken from a google search.  I hope I haven't made anybody mad.) It is hard to be a Texas gal when you can't get your hair big! Bad hair and humidity make it almost impossible for me to achieve this iconic look.  My daughter, however, has it nailed but then she has enough hair for three or four people

And, we have a language all our own -- such as -- 'Aw, the poor little thing tumped over his bowl of grits -- bless his little heart.  Y'all we'll  just give him a coca-cola to cheer him up'. Yep, that is pure Tex-ese and while it sounds like it should come out of somebody from the country it is "big city" too.  I never lived in the country, I hailed from the big city and this is how I talk.  I just love the word "tump".  The hard part about it?  Well, if we are talking in our own circles it is fine -- we don't even notice but let somebody from, say, Pennsylvania listen to us and they laugh at us.  Yes, laugh.  I had a cousin ask me who taught me to talk because I didn't pronounce "ambulance" the "right"" way. Hmmmmp.

So, living here is like a down home, friendly, country all around sort or existence-- there is so much to love. But there are some negatives as well.

We have lots of poisonous snakes -- like rattlesnakes.

 We have coons, possum, fox, coyotes, alligators, rabbits -- ok,  the rabbits are ok --  and mockingbirds -- the state bird -- they make lots of noise.

We have really weird weather -- floods, twisters, well, that is mostly it except for the fact that it is spring right now in January.  But, that is ok, it IS Texas -- like that explains/excuses everything.

Flooding at Ft. Hood

This one was right here in Ft. Worth

So, with all this good, bad, and terrifying stuff about Texas there is one thing that is just the most miserable, deplorable thing EVER!

It is Mountain Cedar coming out of the Hill Country and blowing up here to make us all miserable.

pollen blowing off a cedar tree in the Texas Hill country

A pollen explosion outside of Austin, TX

this visual just terrifies me

innocent looking isn't it? ha! don't be fooled
So, if there was anything I would change about Texas this would be it.  I wouldn't do away with our corny, countrified ways or our unique style but I would obliterate these dang nasty bushes from the entire planet.

I was always sick as a child with "colds" -- stopped up ears to the point of complete deafness, general malaise, just miserable like I have been since last Thursday.  We had one of these monster trees right outside my bedroom window.  We slept with the windows open.  I am suprised I am not dead.

So, if  you are thinking about coming to visit Texas there is a lot to consider.  If you want to go to the coast to see the Gulf of Mexico and the beaches, or maybe out west to the Davis Mountains and Marfa to see the Marfa lights go right ahead.  Or maybe up here to Dallas to see  the giant metropolis that is Dallas with all it has to offer -- a veritable "little New York" or San Antonio with it's rich German history and it's warm Mexican heritage -- not to mention the wonderful, warm Mexican food!  Go ahead, plan away -- you can find almost anything here but whatever you do --

Don't come between December and March -- the cedar will get you and not let you go -- it will forever ruin what could be a beautiful memory.  So...just sayin -- October and November are real nice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teaser Tuesday

It is Teaser Tuesday time again.  The point is to take a couple of lines from a random page in your current read -- as a teaser-- no spoilers please!

I am really not reading anything right now because I am too busy dealing with allergies which means I am sneezing and blowing my nose.  Not good for reading.  But, these lines are from a book that I have in my queue which may be my next read as soon as I can adequately see again.

"Fireflies blinked, illuminating the stepping-stones to Los Land Lake.  "You see that, Lolly?" my mom laughed in the twilight.  "Mother Nature is giving us a preview to the fireworks."

This is from page 3 of "The Charm Bracelet" by Viola Shipman.

Sorry this is such a short post but I feel really awful and just need to lay down.  More tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Our World Tuesday

Our World Tuesday is a meme to give a snapshot of our daily life. I don't know if I should be participating because that is sort of the normal theme of my blog but I will give it a go.

Our World, January 16, 2016

The weather has been very strange this winter on the whole but yesterday we had some dangerously severe thunderstorms.  It wasn't cold and it felt more like spring.  Today was beautiful and the pollen count was very low which was wonderful but I am already sick with "cedar fever" which is what we call how you feel when you get attacked by the cedar/juniper pollen that thrives in Texas.

The weather was so nice today that my husband decided to change the oil in the car. Of course, once a tinkerer, always a tinkerer so he pulled some wires, put them back and voila! the car wouldn't start.

We now have a new car battery.  We noticed that it was slow to start on one of our colder days.  Glad he got that done before we got stuck someplace. 

And me?  I have sneezed all day.  All. Day.  A low fever -- very low.  Aching face/teeth. Scratchy sore throat and ..... sneezing.

That is what is going on in our little world today, 16 January 2016.

The New Year

We are well into the new year now.  Resolutions have been made and broken.  Diets have begun and failed.  To Do lists have been made and ripped to shreds.  I think the better thing to do is reflect -- on the LAST year.

Last year for me seemed to be a rather hectic thing.  I had lots of things I wanted to do, got very few of them done, was truly unorganized which showed at the holidays and I just generally think I failed at 2016.  That realization has given me pause for reflection.

Reading my cousin's recent blog entry (mlhalldotcom.blogspot.com) made me think about how I would like 2017 to go.  A little better than 2016 I would say.  He talks about not getting caught up in extraneous events and happenings but being more in the moment with things that are more personal.  I like what he says and I agree with his approach.

In the past year I have tried to live my life between doctor's appointments.  Stupid, I know.  It is like, ok, I just had a positive doctor visit so let's see how much living I can get done in the next four months before the NEXT visit.  Of course, the month before the NEXT visit is always fraught with anxiety so that is a waste of precious "ok" time.  I seem to judge time as "ok for now" time until the next time.  Really annoying so I am trying to get past that.  That sort of thinking is SO counterproductive and I waste so much time determining if I am ok or not ok so I can plan how to live and what to prioritize.  Really not good.

This was the year of our latest election and what an election it was.  It was the most mean spirited, back-biting, lying, accusing, disgusting time I have ever seen.  I guess elections can do that to people.  The problem is, people are still doing it! It is like everybody is still in campaign mode!  People, it is over.  Let it go (breaks into song here).  Eight years ago I didn't vote for Obama, I voted for Romney.  I didn't like either of them, I determined my vote based on who made me the least nervous.  Romney didn't win but I didn't go out acting the fool and being obnoxious to people with name calling and be being assinine.  This election I voted for Donald Trump.  Again, I voted for who made the least nervous.  I actually think I voted for Mike Pence.  The point is we all do the best we can under the circumstances, make the best decisions we can based on our concerns and go with it.  In eight years it will be over and we can judge then whether it was good, bad, or ugly.  The one thing I have learned through all this is that you don't really know people until you tangle with them politically.  I have had people that I thought were friends be so degrading and hateful that I no longer communicate with them.  That is sad.  So, the lesson I learned is.......don't talk about politics.  Make your choice, change  your mind, talk to yourself but whatever you do, don't talk to anybody else! Or, maybe you should -- good way to see people as they truly are.

I have also come to understand how I want to spend my time.  I have always been involved in several hobbies -- mostly needlework of some sort.  I used to enjoy it.  I don't really anymore.  I tried to keep doing it anyway because I thought I "should".  Yep -- not gonna do that anymore.  I have decided I don't like any hobbies that make a mess or cause me physical pain.  So, I will be coloring.  A lot.  And reading.  And maybe drawing -- something I have become quite interested in the last few months.  I have also considered taking up painting -- not sure if that is doable but  you know, I can dream.

So, my take on 2017 is going to be like mlhall's -- the year of me.  That sounds selfish but it isn't . I am going to take this year to learn more about "me", to sort out what is really "me", to explore some sides of "me" that have been left unexplored.  Maybe I will try my hand at writing again -- or get deeper into my family history (don't understand DNA at all, BTW).   For certain I am going to be a more regular blogger even though nobody reads it or at least nobody comments. 

So, here's to the year of "me" -- discovering who I am and what I am supposed to be doing at this point in my journey.  Hopefully 2017 will be a kinder, gentler year.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Angels in my Hair by Lorna Byrne

A while back I caught Lorna Byrne on a television program and decided to check out her book "Angels in my Hair".  Lorna Byrne is a modern day Irish mystic who claims she can see and talk to angels...not just her angels but everybody's angels.

I believe in angels because they are spoken of in the Bible.  I believe in Jesus and accept him as my Lord and saviour and I believe in God as the creator of everything.  Because of my beliefs I had no problem believing in the angels that Byrne speaks of.  I am not sure of her ability to have such a relationship with angels, however.  It is very interesting, though, to read her accounts of knowing angels since she was a baby.  Her descriptions are beautiful.  She seems to be a very gentle person and not the sort to deceive.

The one thing that I noticed, though, is that as I read I found myself wanting to know my angel's name and to feel my angel's touch.  Yes, I believe we all have a guardian angel and if Byrne is correct, we have angels all around us all the time.  I found myself curious and desiring the same sort of relationship she claims to have.  It was all very beautiful.  I also have found myself thinking I would like to speak to Byrne myself.

Do I recommend this book?  Yes.  If you are a spiritual person it will only strengthen your faith. If you aren't, it might change something.  If nothing else it opens up a whole new conversation.

Unconscious Mutterings

Unconscious Mutterings



Free association is described as a "psychonanalytic procedure in which a person is encouraged to give free rein to his or her thoughts and feelings, verbalizing whatever comes into the mind without monitoring its content." Over time, this technique is supposed to help bring forth repressed thoughts and feelings that the person can then work through to gain a better sense of self.
That's an admirable goal, but for the purposes of this excercise, we're just hoping to have a little fun with the technique. Each week I'll post ten words to which you can respond to with the first thing that comes to mind.
"Rules are, there are no rules." There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head. AND you don't have to have your words up on Sunday. Take all week if you want! Read the FAQ for more information.

Sunday, January 08, 2017
Week 728
I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Boarded ::  windows, hurricane
  2. System::  diet
  3. Favor ::  something you do for somebody
  4. Sphere ::  orb
  5. Priorities ::  everything
  6. Chips ::  Mr.
  7. Lighting :: low
  8. Hopes ::  and dreams
  9. Standing ::  up
  10. Interest ::  bank account

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Vintage Photos of San Antonio, Texas

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas.  I was always aware that we lived in a very historic place -- who hasn't heard of the Alamo?  I always loved the old architecture.  We lived relatively close to downtown and while the neighborhood we lived in was "new" -- circa 1948 -- many of the buildings were quite old.  I loved the vintage feel of all of it.

There is a site on Facebook that is dedicated to photos of vintage San Antonio.  I thought it might be nice to share some of old photos here.  Some of the photos are of really old buildings, some are places that I spent time at as a child.  There isn't much rhyme or reason to my selection, just whatever speaks to me at the moment.  I won't show them all here today but spread them out over several posts.  It could be an ongoing project as people are always finding "new" old photos.

This first one is going to be of Firehouse No. 7 at 604 South Alamo.

This building was built in 1924 and was the third structure to be on this piece of property.  It began in 1885 as a volunteer unit.  It is said to be haunted with the spirits of former firefighters.

I used to work at the San Antonio Independent School District which is right behind this fire station.  We would walk across the parking lot, through the fire station, wave at the firemen, cross the street and walk a half a block to  our favorite Mexican food restaurant, El Mirador.

This is what it looks like today.  It was for sale in October.  $150 square foot.  5300+ square feet.  What a fantastic house that would make. I could even go get my old job back and walk to work!  Well, ok, maybe not. 

Anyway, just a little bit of SA history! More to come!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Header Photo

In case you are wondering about the layout of my blog, I have been playing again! I love to arrange and design these things even though I am not terribly creative.  The current photo is inappropriately Christmas themed.  We already did Christmas, didn't we?  I think so. 

Anyway, during the Christmas season many vintage photos of San Antonio, Texas were posted on a facebook page devoted to San Antonio memories.  Since San Antonio is my home town I decided to save a few of the photos and this is one.  I remember Christmas in downtown so well -- this was taken in the 40's -- before my time -- but it hadn't changed much when I was a child.  I remember all these stores and the decorations that spanned the streets.  It was a magical time!

So, since it is still January, technically winter although hard to tell here in DFW with the 70-80 degree days we have been having, I thought I would share for a few days.  It won't last long, though, because I love to change these things around!

Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader

Again, this is a meme I used to participate in but have let go for some reason.  I decided to pick it up again today.  If you would like to join in you can find the rules at RoseCityReader.com.  The idea is to post the first one or two sentences from  your current read and then link back to the website.

I am currently reading "Angels in my Hair" by Lorna Byrne, a modern day Irish mystic that claims to be able to see angels.  I saw her on a television program and decided to explore her book which is autobiographical.  It is a good read, interesting, funny in parts, questionable but thought provoking.  I would recommend.

Here are my first sentences --

"When I was two years old the doctor told my mother I was "retarded."  "When I was a baby, my mother noticed that I always seemed to be in a world of my own.  I can even remember lying in a cot--a big basket--and seeing my mother bending over me."

So, if you decide to check out Lorna Byrne, there are lots of articles about her.  Interesting lady.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Buh-by Hygge, Hello Lagom!

I am probably really slow on the uptake but in the last several months I have heard a lot about the Danish lifestyle concept known as "hygge". "Hygge" doesn't really have an English translation but loosely means "cozy".  It is a way that the Danes look at life and structure their homelife.  It has to do with the cold, dark weather there and is meant to make it more comfortable and festive.  It involves lots of knitted items, hot cocoa, simple meals with good friends and candles.  It sounds lovely but.....

It is Texas, it is January, is is 80 degrees and I am in shorts.  Hard to "hygge" under those conditions unless you factor in a comfy lawn chair, some new flip flops and a big iced tea.  That is "hygge" in Texas.

I do understand the concept though and I like it, it sounds great.

However, it seems that "hygge" is so 2016!  According to magazines and the internet the next new thing is "lagom".

"Lagom" is a Swedish word meaning "just the right amount" or "just enough".  It is also a lifestyle concept and it promotes simple living, moderation.

Now, that is something I can get my head around.  I have done that all my life! Who knew I was living some exotic, foreign lifestyle!!  Maybe it has to do with all that Scandinavian blood coursing through my veins according to Ancestry.com DNA.  Maybe it came from my mother -- nah, she didn't believe much in moderation as I think back.  I don't know but I do know that I have always lived "in moderation".

I can't be a minimalist for sure.  I just can't.  I like my "stuff" too much.  Now, I don't go out every chance I get and acquire new "stuff" and I don't particularly like shopping at all but I can't live with one plate, one towel and one pair of shoes.  My feet hurt too much for just one pair of shoes.

I also cannot live with excess.  Right now my kitchen cabinets are giving me grief because they are running over with unnecessary stuff.  I need to purge.  Most of the stuff I didn't buy but rather fell heir to.  Falling heir is not a good thing in a lot of cases.  Anyway, I dont' like having too much --too many plastic storage containers, too many towels, definitely too many magazines.  I can't handle too much.

So, it seems that for me, 2017 being the year of "lagom" is going to be a good fit! It gives me license to go in and dig out all those casserole dishes that I don't ever use.  It gives me the "ok" to throw out all the magazines! Yes, it gives me permission to be myself!

Yay 2017 and the year of "lagom"!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

I went to Barnes and Noble even though I said I wasn't going to.  I went to the sale table.  I wasn't going to but I did.  I picked up a couple of titles.  I wasn't supposed to but I did. 

I went to the new release shelves and a small book caught my eye.  It was titled "And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer" by Fredrik Backman.  It was small and short and I knew it would make me cry.  I walked away.

I looked a cookbooks, I fawned over the coloring books, I was amazed at how B&N has reduced their ebook section to almost nothing.  I was drawn back to the little book with only 76 pages.

I couldn't help myself.

It is about Grandpa -- an elderly man living with some form of dementia.  It is about his son Ted, his wife and his grandson Noah. 

It is sad.  But it isn't sad.  It isn't humorous but it isn't too dire either.  It is written beautifully like all the other Backman titles.  I really haven't read prose like his -- ever.  It seems like the central theme for all his books is death but then they aren't really sad.

Would I recommend?  Yes, yes, yes.  It is thought provoking and yes, a tear jerker but it is worth it.

Happy Birthday, PaPa!

Today is my grandfather's birthday.  He was born January 10, 1896 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  This photo was taken in 1953 at my 3rd birthday party.  It was taken in the backyard of my grandparents home in San Antonio, Texas, right around the corner from our house.  I dearly loved my PaPa and still miss him.

Teaser Tuesday

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
ETA: I am face palming myself for not using my new graphic, force of habit to just use the old one lol, sorry about that everyone. Feel free to use the new one if you want to.
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

For some reason I always want to call this Tuesday Teaser instead of Teaser Tuesday.  Go figure.

Ok, my teaser today comes from a novella by Fredrik Backman.  The title is "And Every Morning the Way Homes Gets Longer and Longer".  This teaser can be found on page 36.

"Why are you holding my hand so tight, Grandpa?" the boy whispers again.
"Because all of this is disappearing Noahnoah. And I want to keep hold of you the longest of all".

This novella is only 76 pages long and I am almost finished.  You can read the review here later today.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini seemed like the perfect holiday read.  It was a slow go but mostly because the holidays didn't allow me much reading time.  As is popular now, it was a story comprised of multiple story lines involving lots of characters but it was primarily about the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family Christmas and modern day Sophia and Lucas.  The stories become entwined when Sophia choses a carol set to a Longfellow poem for the annual Christmas program.

There are several other story lines going on -- Father Ryan and his brother Liam, Camille, Sister Winifred, Charlotte, Alex and their mother, the Civil War -- there was a LOT going on.

All of these story lines came together at the end to make sense but for the better part of the book it all seemed scattered and hectic and I didn't think it flowed well.  I was a bit disappointed in this book because Chiaverini's books generally flow well but this one was just more halting and, at times I felt a bit contrived like she was really having to work to make it work.

With all that said, however, Jennifer Chiaverini is one of my favorite authors and I will continue to read her works with pleasure.


It seems the popular "thing" on Facebook these days is posting quotes that are meaningful to you.  I see this done as an expression of faith, a nudge to the posters own sensibility or maybe even a passive aggressive message to a possible reader.  Whatever the reason behind the post, some of these really resonate with me.  One of my friends, a devout Christian, seems to always be posting something that I absolutely need to hear at that very moment. 

The words that I have quoted seem to express my reality now, three and a half years after my "medical adventure".  I know the reasonable, scientific, doctor-speak reason for my adventure but I really feel like it was to get my attention.  There needed to be an attitude adjustment.

While there was an abrupt change in my attitude at the time, there has been more of an evolving change as well.  I look at the world completely differently now.  I deal with "issues" differently now -- first line of defense is prayer.  I no longer think I can fix anything.  I can do things that I know are healthier (physically and emotionally) for me but in the big scheme of things I have no power except to realize and acknowledge the need for a strong faith, an unceasing prayer life, quiet time and a reason to go on with life.

I am working toward all of those things and I feel like a different person.  The most important, life changing thing of all was experiencing the joy that comes from gratitude.  There is no other feeling in the world like it and it is a feeling I have come to crave.  I believe it is a blessing and once you have felt it to the extreme, you know it.

So, yes, this above stated quote is like my mission statement.  It is pretty much how I govern my days these days.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Remains of the Snow starring My Back Garden

They had been predicting snow for several days.  Not a lot of snow, mind you, just a few flurries.  It would begin about rush hour on Friday morning.

Friday morning came and went and no snow at Maison Brinkley.  I was keeping my fingers crossed because, while it is very lovely, I don't like snow or ice. 

About 1:30 we were getting ready to leave to pick up the Bean and we looked out and, lo and behold, what did we see?  Small little flurries punctuated by some really big fluffy snowflakes.  We laughed and said no big deal.

It wasn't a big deal except for the one patch of ice we hit but even that wasn't horrible. Thank goodness for four wheel drive vehicles!

So, with any luck, winter is over since it is supposed to be in the 70's on Tuesday. I jest because we have been known to have snow in March so we will see.  It is generally a crap shoot here in Texas in regards to the weather.

I did record this winter event for posterity and, for the viewing pleasure of my readers from up north,  a good laugh.

So, here is our Texas snowfall for January 2017.

Snow on the boulder -- there really was more last night

Ice in the birdbath

The berries make a wonderful addition to the photo, don't you think?

Friday, January 06, 2017


Yesterday was quite the day.  Well, in the big scheme of things, not really, but in my little world anything out of the ordinary constitutes excitement.

In our house we have a set of unwritten rules.  I get up early.  Hubs doesn't.  The last one out of bed makes it up which means it is never me! I don't turn off the house alarm because it beeps and it might wake him up so that job goes to him as well.

Ok, so Hubs is on several meds for diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol and all that sort of thing.  Recently, oh say the last year or two, he has been having a "problem" in that he has vivid dreams and can't seem to wake himself up out of them.  As a result he seems to do a version of "sleepwalking" through them until he wakes up.  He looks like he is awake, he talks like he is awake but he usually is acting out the dream and he has no recollection of what is going on.  Trust me, these are very active occurrences.  It isn't like he is sound asleep and mumbling -- he is on his feet, trying to do things like fold all the bed cover up in a little square, or trying to rearrange things that aren't there.  A couple of nights ago he was wadding the quilt up and holding it up over his head like a sacrifice! Sometimes these things are funny but most times not.  Yesterday was one of those not-so-funny days.

I got up as usual.  Came in and had my breakfast and a cuppa when I heard the alarm being turned off.  He didn't get it turned off because it beeps a certain number of times when it turns off and I could hear that didn't happen.  I asked him and he replied "yes, of course I got it turned off".  I could tell, with that reply, that he wasn't awake.  Well, before I knew it he had gone out the door into the garage to "check the meat" (he was smoking meat in the dream) and, in the process of opening the door, he set the alarm off.  He kept trying to turn it off but was hitting the wrong buttons which sent it into a stupid loop where we COULDN'T get it turned off. 

The siren blared for at least 10 minutes.  The only thing to do was flip all the breakers on the panel and make it stop which he did.  We could then restore everything to normal.

It woke the neighbors up.  They came outside to look and decided there was something wrong with our gas meter.  They couldn't get us on the phone because we couldn't hear it ringing with the siren going off.  So, they called the gas company.  We didn't know any of this was happening.

I had just sat down with my cup of tea, trying to calm my nerves when there was a booming knock on the door.  It was the gas man asking about our call.  We didn't make a call.  I sent him next door.  By this time Hubs was waking up and getting dressed to go out and talk to the gas man.  There was nothing wrong with the gas -- no leaks or anything.  Gas man went on his way.

Everything finally calmed down into normalcy but as we sat laughing about the hectic morning, Hubs said he had no idea why he went out into the garage to begin with.  He was dreaming that he was smoking meat and that there was a line of people wanting to help baste it and he had to check to make sure it was getting basted and he assumed, in the dream, that the meat was in the garage. 

All that and no real meat to show for it.  If he is going to have these ridiculous dreams, I wish there was at least something to show for it other than my frazzled nerves.

Is this funny?  Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  Do I think it is serious?  Oh yes.  Am I going to have to intervene and talk to the doctor.  Probably.  Yuck. 

New rules -- I turn off the alarm when I get up whether it wakes him up or not.  I did that this morning.  He is still asleep.  Clearly not a problem.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


My goodness, it is already the first hump day of the new year! And a cold one it is.  We have been spoiled by lovely spring temps but we are paying our dues now for the next few days.  Friday might bring some light snow flurries.  If they are light and no ice is involved, I could enjoy that.  IF.

I don't like to make new year resolutions because I am always a bit over zealous, a bit too detailed and fussy and I am always trying to change things that clearly aren't meant to be changed.  Some of my resolutions would absolutely require a personality overhaul which, we all know, isn't likely to happen. 

However, since last spring I have been working on a list of things I would like to change about my habits and our life here in Maison Brinkley.  As I have posted earlier, I had a list of things that I had to do before the end of the year and I managed to get most of them done but not without a good bit of anxiety and sandwiching between other things.  I am starting out the year feeling accomplished but I don't want to lean on my laurels -- one of my biggest downfalls.  I was always like that and it isn't good.  As Dory would say, "just keep swimming".

So, I am making small changes to my personal habits to make things happen on a more even keel.  From what I understand, it takes 28 days to form a new habit and, by my observation, about 20 seconds to break it so my goal is to work hard to try not to break them.

One goal is to make my dentist very happy.  We all brush and floss our teeth -- or at least I hope we do.  However, some of us are more prone to dental distress than others -- it seems to be an inherited thing in my family -- so I have had to ramp up my dental habits somewhat.  My dentist is going to be pleased to hear that I am flossing after each meal as well as brushing.  Now, the brushing was always a given but the flossing after EACH meal is new to me.  I realize that is too much information but it is a good example of how a small habit can be formed -- I have been doing this now for a couple of months and I can't imagine not doing it -- I don't feel right when I don't.  I am hoping this new habit will yield results he will be happy with.  I will let you know.

Another bad habit I am hoping to break is waiting until 3:30 to figure out what is for dinner.  It will more than likely be something that has to be defrosted which immediately means dinner out.  That is a habit that was so easy to form and one that needs to be broken without a doubt.  So, today I am planning to start dinner quite early, make use of the crockpot and hopefully have a lovely roast for dinner tonight.  I started planning this last night so I can be more effective today.  I guess a good title for this would be "planning ahead". 

One more habit that I am currently forming is mopping my kitchen every night.  I have an open floor plan with lots and lots of tile floor but I don't intend to mop the entire house every night -- just the kitchen area.  It is a galley style and not all that huge so it really shouldn't be an issue.  I bought a Bona floor care system with the spray bottle of cleaner.  It works really well -- no big buckets of mop water and it doesn't feel sticky afterward.  So, how much work could it be to do a little spritz and swish over the floor at the end of the day.  I would think it would be quite do-able so I am going to do it! 

And another habit that I want to form is reading at least 30 minutes a day.  I am not joining any challenges this year but I did see one that is 52 books a year -- one a week.  I think that would be great but some books might take longer than a week and some maybe could be done in a day or two.  My goal, I think is to just real a little everyday -- consistency is important in anything you do.

In fact, I think consistency should be my overall goal for the year -- being consistent with everything.  Don't try to be perfect just be consistent.  So, that is my buzzword for 2017 -- Consistency! Just Keep Swimming!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a meme formerly hosted by MizB and now being brought to us by thepurplebooker.com.

The rules are --

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

Ok, so I used to participate in this meme often, as well, but somehow drifted away.  It is fun, though and does introduce you to new books/authors.

My teaser comes from "Christmas Bells" by Jennifer Chiaverini.

"How inexpressibly sad are all the holidays!" he wrote in his journal later that night."

"As he waited for the ink to dry upon the page, in his imagination he lived again his last Christmas with Fanny, saw vividly her loving smile, felt her touch upon his arm, heard her gentle, merry laugh close to his ear, felt her soft, tender lips brush his cheek."

Not sure how much of a "tease" these are but here they are!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Musing Monday

 I used to participate in the Musing Monday meme frequently when it was hosted by Miz B.  It is now being posted by thepurplebooker.com.  I decided the new year is calling me to revisit some of the memes that I used to do but have somehow abandoned.  So, without further adieu -- here we go!

I’m currently reading… Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini
Up next I think I’ll read…Angels in My Hair by Lorna Byrne
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…these were all free books on Kindle or Nook -- Murder at the Maples by Joanne Phillips but I can't remember the others!
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…Angels in My Hair when I finish it!
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…the book I am currently reading because I usually LOVE Jennifer Chiaverini but I just can't get into this book -- it does seem to be getting better as I progress though.

I can’t wait to get a copy of…Jan Karon's new book
I wish I could read ___, but…non-stop but the kitchen calls
I blogged about ____ this past week…my blue porch ceiling

So, why don't you join me in this meme?  It is a good way to learn of new books, authors and maybe find some interesting blogs to read!

Blue Monday and One Thing Always Leads to Another

Blue Monday is a meme that was originally hosted by Smiling Sally.  Sally has gone on to glory but the meme continues here at backyardneighbor.typepad.com.  The gist of the meme is to post photos of anything blue that strikes your fancy.  There are some lovely photos.

So, here are my blue offerings for this second day of the new year!

As you have learned from a previous blog entry, we have been up to our ears in home improvements.  And, as these things usually go, one thing leads to another.  So, I am going to take you on a tour of the back side of Maison Brinkley so you can see how "blue" our little world has become.

pretty blue bird feeders -- they need some food!

the big blue kamado -- it needs to be cooking

the blue, French-inspired planters which need to be planted

a blue bird bath that we created out of a pot and a saucer -- it needs to be put back together

beautiful blue Texas sky--sorry to get the back side of Target! It seems much more vibrant after the rain last night

the blue porch ceiling
I can attest to the fact that yellow jackets and wasps do NOT like the blue ceiling.  We took down  the ceiling fan on the patio which, much to our dismay, had become a big nest for wasps and mud daubers and decided to just replace it with a light.  A couple of the wasps came back looking for their now defunct home and they kept trying to fly up and hit the ceiling and came right back down which means they actually do think it is the sky.  They finally left and I haven't seen them since. 

I love blue, it is one of my favorite colors and I love incorporating it into my decor.  It is generally the color that I wear the most as well.  I very pleased with the way the back of the house looks with the new paint and the new roof.  I think we should go to the nursery today and buy some pansies to plant in those blue pots!

What do you think?