Friday, December 12, 2014

We Will Return To Regular Programming…

…after the New Year.
Serious head chaos going on at the moment. Nothing fatal; fear not my wonderful Gladys, Pete, et al.

Just taking a little break here. Need to reorganize my thoughts. Get my soul back in order.

I do want to wish everyone a wonderful, Christ-filled Christmas. Right now, Jesus is my solid rock to whom I cling. He will see me through all of this.

So for now, take care. Be nice to each other. Go the extra mile.

xoxo Dot

Friday, December 5, 2014

Random Insanity

Two weeks ago, I missed posting a blog because we didn’t have a working computer.
One week ago, it was Thanksgiving weekend, the girls were here, they were sick, I was sick, chaos reigned.
This week, I’m feeling much better, BUT…

I’m already facing burnout from the non-stop push for MATERIAL STUFF.

This is going to be a VERY lean gift-giving year. And as the various posts on Facebook have said, as I get older the important stuff is NOT STUFF. I love giving gifts, and will still do that to the best of my ability, but they will be hand-made for the most part. Lia will get a couple of special things, but she is one of those rare kids who don’t seem to need a LOT of presents.

What I want most of all is to sit by the fireplace, have my family around me, read the Christmas account from the Bible and reflect on all the many, many blessings God has bestowed on us all these years. That’s all I want. All I need. Is that too much to ask for?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Stuff

Since it’s a rather gloomy day out, and this whole past week has been one I’d rather forget, I thought I’d look through my “Happy” file. I was probably a teen (a true time of hell for me) when I would occasionally just start making a list of stuff that I like or that makes me happy. This list would change over the years, but it did serve the purpose of getting my mind out of the abyss for a short time. When the movie “Sound of Music” came out and the song “My Favorite Things” became popular, I realized I had been doing what Julie Andrews had urged the children to do: focus on the positive. When I started focusing on my altered books as my main outlet for creativity, I started making lists of themes for these books. One list was of “Happy” stuff. I decided to get an alphabetical list together of stuff for this book (yet to be made) and haven’t really looked at the list since. Here are a few from the list with pics I’ve gotten off the Internet, since I don’t have any actual pages yet to show you.

Green Lights – This may be an odd one to most, but if you’re in a hurry or are having a bad day, sometimes a simple green light as you’re approaching the intersection is all it takes to perk you up.

Pretty Paper – As a crafter, paper is fun. Pretty paper is even more fun. I have so much paper of so many designs I should NEVER have to buy any more. Ever. Think that will stop me? HA! I doubt that I will use it all before I die, but sometimes just looking through it gives my heart a little smile.

Purses – I LOVE PURSES! Most of the time my everyday purse is pretty big, because I have so much STUFF that is essential to life packed in there. I also have cute little purses for special times when all I REALLY need is one or two things. Maybe three or four at most. Okay, five things, but THAT’S IT. I have kinda called a halt to my purse buying for the present. Even *I* realize there is a limit.

You may wonder about the things I’ve left out that most people know are high on my list: coffee, chocolate, cats, books, Pierce Brosnan…
I’ve already blogged or posted about these things. This blog is about other things.

So make your own list. Ponder on it. And hey, the sun just now came out! It probably won’t stick around that long, but it sure is nice while it lasts…

Friday, November 7, 2014

No Alphabet Soup For You!! QRS

Just kidding. I’m not the alphabet soup Nazi. Here’s a big helping for those of you who have been starving for my soup these many months.

Q – Quetzalcoatl
This is a pre-Columbian deity. The name means “feathered serpent.” He was god of various aspects of life in the different cultures of the times. Wind, dawn, merchants, arts and crafts, all seemed to be under his control. I highly encourage you to look up the Wikipedia entry. Fascinating stuff. I happen to really like the name. It’s cool.

R – Reticule
This is a woman’s small drawstring handbag. Lots of them in Regency Romances. Of which I am a huge fan – don’t judge. The name comes from the Latin word “reticulum” which means netted or mesh, as the first ones were made from that material. They were later made of all sorts of beautiful materials and heavily adorned. They were pretty small, but a fashionable gal could pack quite a bit of essential stuff in there: hanky, visiting cards, sewing kit, breath mints, smelling salts, small notebook and pencil. Know what’s in MY purse? And how BIG it is? Maybe that will be my next blog. Too much crap in there to list now…

S – Sackbut
No jokes. This is a real instrument. Same era as the Krumhorn, which I talked about for the letter K. It was a Renaissance trombone with a much softer sound. I went on youtube and found some very pretty Baroque music featuring this instrument. I wonder what the movie “The Music Man” would have been like with medieval instruments….

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mysteries & Music – Georges Simenon

The next PBS Mystery series I’ll talk about is Maigret. Based on books by Georges Simenon, this series was a great favorite of both Marv’s and mine. And while this was very French, not Brit, I loved the whole flavor of it. Simenon was another very prolific writer and thankfully, his books were readily available. Also, thankfully, they were translated into English. I really stocked up at the used bookstore in Chico. I don’t know why this particular book series grabbed me the way it did, but I truly reveled in them.

As for the TV series, Michael Gambon played the role of Inspector Jules Maigret, and I thought he mastered it. This particular series is hard to find on DVD and is very pricey. There was a French version done with a different actor that is available on DVD, but I’m not interested. I have enjoyed everything that Mr. Gambon has done, and for me, HE is Maigret. It looks like there are full episodes available on youtube, and I will definitely check those out.

I LOVED the theme music!! It was so French, so poignant; it just wafted into my soul. I desperately wanted to be sitting at a little cafĂ© table in ‘20s France, sipping wine and smoking a cigarette. The composer is listed as Nigel Hess. You can hear the full 3 minute theme here on youtube:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mysteries & Music – Ellis Peters

When I saw the blurbs for the Cadfael Mysteries on PBS years ago, I was greatly interested. I enjoy reading and learning about times in 12th century Britain. I am also a great fan of Derek Jacobi. I had never read any of the books before watching the series. I have since read a few of the books, and they are very well written and researched.

However, I just loved WATCHING things take place. You can really “feel” the atmosphere of that long ago time and the very harsh way of life. And Jacobi is such a wonderful actor. He really nailed the character of Brother Cadfael. I have found that sometimes when I’ve seen a movie or TV adaptation of a book, I can enjoy the book(s) more when I have specific people to “see” as they go about the book.

Colin Towns wrote the theme. LOVED IT!! I enjoy Gregorian style chant and medieval music anyway, and this is just so lovely.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mysteries & Music – Jonathan Gash

Lovejoy was not a PBS show, but was shown on a cable station as a Brit import. I don’t remember which station it was on, or how I came to know of it, but I became a fan immediately. I had not read any of the books before, but after seeing a few episodes I started looking for the books in the library. I was a bit surprised that the Lovejoy of the books was different from the TV one. Actually, it was the TV one that was different from the original. Gash’s Lovejoy wasn’t quite as nice and a bit sleazy.

I don’t know if this was a conscious decision of the writers, or just the interpretation of the wonderful and handsome Ian McShane. His Lovejoy was so full of mischief and fun and was truly a joy to watch. Even though I read many of the books, I still preferred McShane’s Lovejoy. I even got Sarah to become a fan of the show. I would really like to eventually get this series on DVD. It’s available and not outrageous in price.

The theme was written by Denis King, and played while the opening title and credits were shown, along with scenes from the show. McShane had such a twinkle in his eye! You just knew Lovejoy was going to get into mischief, but it was in good fun. Cute little tune, too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Next Friday will be my dear mother-in-law’s birthday, the first one since her passing in June. I intend to be somewhat of a basket case that day, so I will write this tribute now, even though it’s with tears in my eyes that I do this. The picture here was taken about a year before she died, and is one of my favorites of her and Marv.

I have so much love and admiration for this woman who I was lucky enough to call “Mom” and who treated me like a true daughter.

Lillian Elsie Euler Binder Michels was a devout Christian and never passed up a chance to witness. She never wavered in her faith and was strong to the very end. Her faith was an inspiration to those who knew her.

I really meant to write more, but I can’t. Maybe at a future time.

I still miss her.

Friday, October 3, 2014

No Claustrophobics Need Apply

Right now the Tiny House movement is really BIG! (See what I did there?)

There’s even a reality show on DIY showing them. We don’t get that channel, or I would probably watch it. I think the movement started about 10 years ago, which is about the time I became aware of these structures.

It was probably an article on MSN featuring the houses that Tumbleweed Tiny House makes. I went to their website and thought those little houses were adorable! Since then, you can find many others who sell blueprints so you can make your own.

There are many, many blogs where people go into great detail about the planning and building of their little house. And they are all just as cute as can be. It would be wonderful to be able to pare your life down to the absolute essentials and be content in a very small space. I think I might have been able to do it when I was young. At this point though, I have so much STUFF that I know I could pare down, but there would still be too much to fit into such a small space. And certainly not with another person thrown in the mix as well. And even though I could probably part with more than I think, I absolutely will not get rid of Marvin!

The Tumbleweed site lists the square footage of their plans as ranging from 117 to 874. Having a second floor is what makes the difference. And that second floor is where the bed goes, and it takes up the entire space, pretty much. Not a lot of head room, either. (Marv is 6’2”) You basically climb up a ladder and crawl into bed. Again, at my age, not so possible anymore. When you don’t have working knees, you can’t crawl very well.

So it would have to be a single level dwelling. Fold up bed, Murphy-style. Tiny stove and fridge. I’m giving myself the creeps just thinking about it. Where would I put my stamps? WHERE WOULD I PUT MY BOOKS???

Nope. Not gonna happen.

They are cute, though…

Friday, September 26, 2014

I’m Sorry, She’s Out Of Her Mind Right Now, May I Take A Message?

I find myself with a massive case of burn-out at the moment, so taking the advice of my dear friend Kristi: it’s MY blog, I can do anything I want with it. And right now, I choose to post pictures of cats.

This first pic is in honor of Fall.
Kittens playing in leaves.
How sweet is that?

This pic is a dark kitty with butterfly wings.
Is she good or evil?
Waiting to pounce, or waiting to help?
Make up your own story and tell me.

This is one of the MANY, MANY, MANY pics I’ve recaptioned from the famous website. I have a TON of these pics. Come by some time and let me bore you with them! I happen to think they are hilarious. Some I kept with the original captions, but the majority I have added my own special humor.

OK. Last one, I promise. This actually looks a bit like my cat Harper, but I’ve never had a cat that got in the dryer. I usually keep the door to it closed. The washer is a different story. When I had a top loading washer, my cat Tucker would curl up in it on hot summer days. He would also curl up in the laundry sink in the garage.

There. I feel a little better now. Maybe next week I’ll write something wonderful and thought provoking. Probably not, though. That’s not the way I roll…

Peace out, y’all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 2014 Book Report

I’ve written previously about the Dream Park series by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes. The first book was Dream Park, the second The Barsoom Project. Absolutely awesome books. I’ve now finished the series with the last two books. I really don’t see how this series can be continued further, and I kind of regret that. But at least it all wraps up nicely, and I can be content with that.

The California Voodoo Game has a different venue this time. The newest Game will take place in a large abandoned multi-story building and involve several competing teams. There is a lot more at stake this time, and of course the bad guys are REALLY bad. The way this book ended made it difficult to imagine how the next book could take place. Things were pretty well wrapped up. But wait! There’s more!

The Moon Maze Game REALLY had a different venue! The moon! The action takes place 25 years after the events in the previous book. I was a little disappointed at first that the original bunch of characters wouldn’t be the main folks in this book. This was a great book, though. The spirit of The Game was still here, and still just as exciting. The bad guys were terrible people, and the good guys won. And as I said, everything wraps up nicely and I don’t see any reason for continuing the series. Unless they actually do get established on Mars and try something else. But I’m happy with the series. Good books. Definite keepers in my library.
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The next two books are in the Blue Hill Library series. As always, good stories with a Christian leaning. Very comforting. Written by Emily Thomas.

Off the Shelf deals with a new tax levy, one that can really help the library. When several children’s books go missing, it looks like there is something shady going on with the council members. There appears to be bribery amongst them as well. Anne is threatened when she tries to investigate what is going on.

Gone In A Flash is about mysterious pictures in an old camera. When Aunt Edie’s camera comes to light during a yard sale, Anne has the pictures developed. In trying to find out who some of the people are in the pictures, Anne decides to host a family reunion. Family ties are re-established and a long-lost relative is rediscovered.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mysteries & Music – Margery Allingham

I had never read any of Allingham’s books before seeing this series involving the jaunty Albert Campion and his sidekick Magersfontein Lugg. After the first episode or so, I started looking for the books. I devoured them with relish! (But I was careful not to get any of the relish on the books, haha)
Total delights, both books and TV episodes.

Peter Davison is a perfect Campion. He plays him with dapper good humor. He became a favorite actor of mine after seeing this series.

I continued to get the books from the library, and then started collecting them in paperback for my own collection. I was devastated when I discovered I had read them all, and Ms. Allingham had in fact died some time before. She had left copious notes, though, for her husband, Philip Youngman Carter. He was also a writer and continued the series after his wife’s passing. Unfortunately, he was only able to complete one novel of his wife’s and write two more of his own in the series before he died.

You can get the series on DVD, but it’s VERY pricey, unfortunately. So get the books! Read them!!

Nigel Hess wrote the lovely little tune for the theme music. The name Campion is misspelled on youtube, but here is the link. Sweet little tune:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mysteries & Music – P.D. James

I had never read any P.D. James books before seeing this series. They all involved the Scotland Yard inspector Adam Dalgliesh. This series was set in modern times, but I still enjoyed the stories. After I started reading the books, I discovered I liked the books better.

Roy Marsden was a good fit as Insp. Dalgliesh, and it did help my mental picture when reading the books, but something just didn’t grab me with the TV series. I still watched all the episodes that were shown in the US. I read most of the books and enjoyed them, but not enough to keep in my library.

What I probably enjoyed most of all about the TV series was the theme music by Richard Harvey. Very lovely and haunting. Give it a listen.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mysteries & Music - Gladys Mitchell

For many years I was a devoted fan of the “Mystery!” series on PBS. The majority of the episodes were based on Brit period books.  

The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries were based on books by Gladys Mitchell. She started writing them in the late ‘20s and continued on into the ‘80s. A couple were published posthumously after she died in 1983.

I had never heard of her or her books until I watched the episodes shown on PBS. Unfortunately, only a handful of episodes were shown here in the US. The series ran for 2 seasons in the UK, and it’s very difficult to get them on DVD for an affordable price. Diana Rigg played the part of Mrs. Bradley and was superb.

I was so taken with this series that I started looking for books by Ms. Mitchell. Very hard to find, since they were mostly all out of print. I have found some on Barnes & Noble, but again, they’re a bit pricey. I did find 3 in a used bookstore, and enjoyed them immensely. I still keep an eagle eye out whenever I’m near a used bookstore, and hope to add to my collection.

Another thing I loved about “Mystery!” was the music. Most of the individual series had wonderful theme music. The theme for the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries was the cute ‘20s song, “You’re the Cream in my Coffee” by Henderson, DeSylva and Brown. There are many different versions of this on youtube, but here’s a good one:

Take a listen, sit back and dream of a different time.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Report August 2014

The Affinity Bridge (2008) by George Mann

This is the first book in a great little Steampunk series about the team of Newbury and Hobbes. As agents of Queen Victoria, they solve the mysteries that confound the Empire. A fine romp.
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The Barsoom Project (1998) by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

The second book in the Dream Park series. And I’m happy to say this book was just as good and as much fun as the first book. This concerns corporate shenanigans and sabotage, and takes place in the newest adventure, a “Fat Ripper Special” for those who want to lose weight or have an eating disorder. Tons of fun.
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Did You Say Chicks?! (1998) Edited by Esther Friesner

This is actually the second book in a series about female warriors. The first book is Chicks in Chain-mail. I have it somewhere in the house, but couldn’t find it, so I read this one. Fun, mostly lighthearted tales of the gals who can hold their own in a man’s world. With the right armor and weaponry, of course. I recognized most of the names of the authors as some of my fav sci-fi/fantasy writers.
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The Great Time Machine Hoax (1964) by Keith Laumer

This was a goofy, early sci-fi story about a man who inherits a complex computer that turns out to be a time machine. He then gets himself and his two companions lost in various time periods. The story was fine, and I enjoyed the different time periods he ended up in, but still felt there was something lacking to make this book a permanent part of my library.
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Doctor To The Stars (1964) by Murray Leinster

REALLY enjoyed these early sci-fi stories about a man in the Interstellar Medical Service. He would travel to various planets to do spot checks on the health and welfare of the population. Very strong main character that I wouldn’t mind reading more about. I will have to look for more of Leinster’s books. This one stays in my library.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Status Report

This blog prompt came from Jen O’Neill.

This is a mild rant, as I’ve been guilty of this one myself. I try not to leave enigmatic postings on Facebook for my status, as that type of thing drive me nuts. I understand wanting to get something off your chest, and not wanting to give out personal details. But sometimes the postings seem absolutely provocative and beg for someone to ask the poster what they meant or what’s going on. The only exception is if someone asks for prayer without being specific. That one I honor. I pray, but don’t ask questions. Sometimes the poster will explain later, sometimes not. That’s OK.

The ones that irk me are usually short bursts with no explanation and go something like this:

OMG!!!!!!!! (I usually reply to this one with something funny)

Well, THAT didn’t go well… (What? Are you OK? Are the kids OK? Depending on who is posting this it can really ring alarm bells)

Back to the ER again! (same response as above, depending on the poster)

I should just shoot myself now and get it over with. (You’d be doing us all a favor…)

What’s with all the pancakes?????????? (OK, I totally made that one up)

Why? Why? Why? (I don’t care, care, care)

NO MORE DRAMA!!!!!!!!! (I find ones like this highly ironic and amusing)

I know sometimes these posts are in fun, and you can usually tell when they are by a smiley face or something. And I will usually reply in kind.

Sometimes a person will really go on a rampage and flame someone without naming names, saying “You know who you are!!!!!!” The more exclamation points, the more serious it is. If someone tends to use a lot of profanity on a regular basis, they don’t usually stay on my friend list very long.

All in all, though, I enjoy reading what people have to say. I enjoy the little community I’m in on Facebook. There’s good folks here. And they don’t know that sometimes I’m reading their words sitting here in my jammies….

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I spent two weeks in Fresno, and I think there were only 3 days when it wasn’t too hot to go outside with Lia.  Otherwise, we were inside with the fans blowing directly on me. And this time, I was especially sure to drink lots and lots of water. I had my insulated glass filled with ice water at all times. I think that made a huge difference. But any time with Lia is a good time. She is my heart’s joy.

The last time I did a 2 week stint was 3 summers ago when my niece was out here from Indiana. She is Lia’s godmother and wanted to spend some time getting to know her better. That was great, because when my energy started to flag, I could go lay down while Ellen took over. This year, I was on my own. I have to admit by Saturday of the first week, I was really starting to run out of steam. And yes, I broke my pinky toe that day as well. I was glad that it happened AFTER Sarah did my toenails, so even though the toe was really ugly, the nails were freshly polished and fabulous. By Monday though, I was getting my second wind and was able to carry on. I got the occasional nap on the couch with the dogs, too.

I always start my visits with great plans on crafts and activities to do with Lia. I see these wonderful things on Pinterest or Facebook and think “What fun to do with Lia!” And I always forget what high energy Lia has and how she does NOT want to sit still for very long for any kind of involved craft. I did introduce her to mandalas a couple years ago and she does enjoy doing those, strictly on paper with crayons or markers. Anything more involved will just have to wait.

One thing I was SO pleased to do this time was introduce her to that wonderful book “Roxaboxen” by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. I had gotten this book a few years ago, but apparently no one had ever read it to Lia. So I got to do that. I love this book so much, and the illustrations are wonderful. It really celebrates the way children have the power to imagine anything, something I think we sadly lose when we grow up. I highly recommend this book for young and old alike. If the terrain had been a bit different, I would’ve helped Lia make her own city of Roxaboxen, but as it was, we were limited to crayon and paper. So we drew our own cities. This would be so much fun to do with a sand table and the various components necessary.

Otherwise, the days were spent in reading, playing with Monster High dolls, watching Power Puff Girls cartoons, lots of coloring and a little bit of swimming when we were at the apartment. All in all a pretty good “vacation” that definitely left no time to be bored.

One huge benefit for me personally was that by the end of those two weeks, I was going up and down those stairs at the house and the apartment LIKE A BOSS!! With Lia, being a couch potato is NOT an option!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Benefits of Cat Company While Drinking Wine

This was a topic suggested by Carolyn Carsey. She didn’t specify whether I was the one doing the drinking, or the cat. So I approached it from both avenues.

If you feel like having a little drinky-poo or two or three, and you have your cat by your side, it’s OK. Cats don’t really judge. In fact, the cat might even prefer it, because then you might have forgotten that you already fed him, and will feed him again. Or give him treats for each shot you take. Cats like treats. Also, drinking relaxes you, and you become all soft and squishy and a cat can settle more comfortably onto you. About the only time the cat would become upset is if you fell on him. Cats do not like to be fallen upon. So if you want to drink with your cat nearby, go ahead. Just play it safe and feed him first. Then if you end up feeding him again, so what? He will be happy. It’s hard to feed a cat when you can’t even focus on the bag or one of those tiny little cans. And they HATE it when you just toss him the can without opening it! Even if it has a pull-tab, they STILL can’t open it themselves! Remember that.

Now, if it’s the cat who is doing the drinking, you have a problem, my friend. Occasional drinks, OK. But once they’ve crossed the line, it’s almost impossible to get a cat to go to AA. The will not admit they have a problem, and the whole “acknowledging a higher power” thing will NEVER work. Cats will never admit there is a higher power than themselves. After all, they were once worshiped in Egypt and they’ve never let go of that thought. So it’s better to stick with cat treats for the cat, while you take care of the alcohol consumption.

Everybody wins.

Friday, July 25, 2014

DMM (2)

Tinkerbell Dominoes!!

After I did the mandala with the Hanafuda deck, I immediately thought of the set of dominoes I had for Lia. I got 2 sets of this one, so she could have a set at her house and one here with me. I even learned the names of all the fairies in this set. (go, Grandma!)

It took a long time to get Lia to play with any semblance of actual domino rules, but that didn’t matter. Sometimes, her way of placing a tile was rather ingenious. Other times, they were just laid out end to end for a roadway. Then came the day she learned about setting them all upright and then nudging the end to watch the whole batch topple over. Wheee!

Sadly, she’s outgrown them somewhat, so why not do a mandala of them…

They’re still super-cute…