Thursday, December 17, 2015

Red-striped Pajamas

In 2002, I wrote a short story at Christmas and made some little books with it to give as presents. I now give it to you, Dear Reader. Enjoy.


 

Red-striped Pajamas

(a Christmas love story)

When he was 5 years old, he got red-striped pajamas for Christmas. He loved those pajamas and wore them every night. When they needed to be washed, his mother would have to be sure and have them ready by bedtime, or he would refuse to go to bed.

He wore those pajamas for almost a year. They were worn through in a few places and a bit small by then. He cried when his mother threw them out. She chided him, saying he was too big a boy to cry over such things.

He got new pajamas, but they were green and yellow checked. His mother said she couldn’t find any red-striped ones in his size. He got over his loss, but always felt that something was missing in his life.

As the years went by he grew older, of course, and other concerns took precedence. The pace of his life increased and he was too busy to reflect on how empty his life really was.

When he was 50 he met the woman of his dreams. They fell in love and got married. Their first Christmas together she gave him red-striped pajamas that she’d made herself.

“How did you know?” he cried happily.
She replied, “You talk in your sleep. Merry Christmas.”

And it was.



Friday, December 11, 2015

Total Brain Freeze



Really scraping the bottom of the barrel today. Sat down with no clue as to what I was gonna write about. I've tried stream of consciousness writing before and really suck at it. So random sentences it is....

After church Wednesday night, I had my first practice for playing O Holy Night on Christmas Eve. Wow, did I stink! Out loud! Then went on to play through Coventry Carol with the same results. To be fair, I really hadn't done any practicing beforehand...guess I gotta work on that.

Had Marv get the tree down from the attic and set up Thanksgiving weekend. And there it stood with only the lights on it. I had contemplated just adding a garland and calling it good. Seriously. Finally I had Marv get down the box with the stockings and garlands in it, plus the two small “special ornaments” boxes. And that was it. What was in those 3 boxes was all the decorating I was going to do with the tree and whatnot. Oh, I lied. Marv had gotten the Manger scene box down when he got the tree down. So today I finally got the stockings up and the tree decorated. I have to admit that tree looks pretty spectacular. Got the Manger all set up. That's probably my favorite Christmas thing to do. If I had to, I could live without the tree, but I gotta have my manger scene.

Painted 7 more jars for luminaries to set up on Christmas Eve. Really enjoyed doing that. Saw the example on Facebook last year and we did a lot of them at church at the guild meeting, but knew then we could use more. They look so pretty at Christmas when they turn all the lights off as we sing Silent Night and the only lights are the candles up by the altar, the luminaries and the candles that everybody is holding.

And that's it for now folks.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 2015 Book Report



The Picture Bible (1978) Iva Hoth/Andre Le Blanc

I bought this for Lia when she was a baby. It's in comic book style, linear in history, very good for young children. The last time I was visiting, I started reading it, wanting to see how accurate it was. I know, I should've done this BEFORE buying it. But as I read, I was satisfied it was accurate as far as a child's understanding went. I also learned a few new things I hadn't grasped before. I ending up taking it home with me (with Lia's permission) to finish it. I will make sure that visits in the future include reading some of this with Lia.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Shadow Across the Sun (1966) by Betty Swinford

Christ-centered novel about a young woman who is overwhelmed with 4 small children, household duties, sideline job as an artist, and trying to remain steadfast in her faith. Her husband is a non-Christian with very little involvement in his family. She starts to sink into depression and ultimately has a complete breakdown. With the help of her pastor and his wife, she regains her faith.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Saffy's Angel (2001) by Hilary McKay

Great little YA book!! I originally got it with Lia in mind, but it's a bit beyond her right now. Saffron learns by accident that she was adopted as a toddler by her aunt and uncle when her mother died in a car accident. Since her aunt and mother were identical twins, Saffy never knew the difference. I LOVED all the people in this book and would LOVE to see it as a movie.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Flint (1944) by Charles G. Norris

Boy, was this book a downer! It takes place in the Bay area just before the US got involved in WWII. There's great strife between the unions in the dock area and the ship owners. Lots of blather about capitalism vs. communism. And everybody dies in the end!! Fairly decent story without all the worker strife, but again: everybody dies!!
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

A Royal Pain (1986) by Ellen Conford

Cute YA book about babies switched at birth. One is a princess, one a commoner. Abby's an All American Girl in high school when she learns she's really a princess, promised to marry a creepy prince to solve her kingdom's financial crisis. She decides to make herself very unpopular and abdicate. Very amusing story, but a bit dated.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Cressida (1977) by Clare Darcy

Regency romance. Cressy and Captain Dev Rossiter were engaged, but broke it off over a misunderstanding. Years later they meet again. Sparks fly. Hilarity ensues. More misunderstandings, but since it's a Regency, all ends happily.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Random Brilliance



People give their pets unique names at times. Some give humdrum names, too. There are literary names, Bible names, TV show names, etc. Right now our only remaining cat is named Harper, after the engineer on the TV show Andromeda.

I loved the different names in the musical “Cats”, especially Old Deuteronomy. Some pets are named after physical attributes. “Spot” and “Bootsie” are the first that come to mind. Growing up, we had a cocker spaniel named Kringle, because he was born on Christmas Day. One of his litter mates was Kris.

In the comic strip “Monty”, the character of Moondog named his parrot Pilsner, after his favorite drink. I thought that was brilliant. There are a lot of alcohol names that would make awesome pet names.

Color names
Kahlua
Sangria
Bailey's Irish Cream (just Bailey for short)

General booze names
Whiskey
Bacardi
Tequila (must be a chihuahua)
Smirnoff (should be a russion wolf hound)
Fosters (must be an australian dog)
Drambuie (love this one!)

Then there is the wonderful world of pharmaceuticals...
Pets are said to do wonders for all kinds of ailments. If you have a pet, you are healthier and happier. SOOOooo.....

Zoloft (my favorite!)
Paxil
Prozac (another fave)
Cymbalta

Then if you want a calmer pet:
Quaalude
Xanax
Valium

You get the idea here. Come up with some of your own and tell me about them.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Treasures



I was poking through one of my memory boxes the other day. Trying to downsize. Over the years I've gotten rid of a lot, but a few things still remain from my childhood.

Cellophane toothpicks. I loved these things! In restaurants, they would be poked through sandwiches and hamburgers. I would collect all the ones at our table and take them home. Don't quite know why they fascinated me so much. I would usually play with them for awhile and then slowly pull all the little pieces off until the pick was bare. Then I'd thrown it away. Did this every single time we went out to eat. It even sparked a dream so vivid it has stayed with me to this day. I dreamt of a pine forest, but instead of the needles being normal green, they were cellophane, in the usual colors of the toothpicks. They shone brilliantly in the sun and just took my breath away, they were so beautiful. I can still see it clearly in my mind's eye.

Cocktail umbrellas. Rarely saw these as a kid, so they were extremely valuable to me when I did come across any. Loved the way you could open and close them like a real umbrella. Loved the pretty colors and Asian designs. Of course, I would play with them so much they would end up coming apart. But I sure loved them.

Honeycomb tissue bells. Have no clue how this came into my possession. It had the name of one of my cousins written on it, so I would guess it was a place marker for a wedding or something. All my cousins were quite a bit older than me. It was folded flat, and I had no idea just what it was. I could sort of pull it sideways and see the honeycombing of it, but didn't know what it was supposed to be or how it was to be displayed. Why I never asked anyone, I don't know. I was very intrigued by it, though, so it stayed in the memory box. It was years down the road when I finally played with it enough to actually twist it in the right way and...doggone!! It was a bell!!! I was floored...who would EVER thing that thing was really a bell in disguise?? I got such a kick out of that, and was rather chuffed that I figured it out all by myself.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Only in America



I read an article about stuff that apparently baffles non-Americans. I've had a Brit penpal for many years, so I knew some of the things. She and I like to compare notes on American vs Brit food, language, customs, etc. Here are a few that I thought were interesting.

We put peanut butter on everything. Formerly very hard to find, but it sounds like it's now fairly common. Matching it with jelly for a sandwich is not done, though.

Sales tax not listed on goods and services. I found this amazing. I guess when you see a sales tag on something in the UK, that is exactly what you pay. I actually like this idea.

They don't use ice! They think it waters down the drink and cubes are considered dirty. I had a friend who told me when she asked for something with ice, she was served ice cream. I love my drinks super cold, and don't mind a little dilution.

Men here wear shorts down to the knees. I guess they like 'em real short in the UK.

Red Solo Cup!! Although it's now catching on to have “American” parties. Popcorn hamburgers, beer pong.

NOT metric. I know, I know...metric is better. Too bad.

High school proms. Don't know what they do for fun at UK schools. I'll have to ask my penpal.

Baby showers/bridal showers. They just don't do these. My penpal really likes the idea of parties for these events and wishes they were popular in the UK.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 2015 Book Report



The Dandelion Caper (1986) by Gene DeWeese

Kid's sci-fi. Second book in a series. Calvin and Kathy are friends who have discovered that Earth is a tourist spot for aliens. In this book, they discover an alien cat named Dandelion who is trying to thwart the evil aliens who want to take over Earth for themselves. Calvin also discovers that a certain “special sense” runs in his family. Cute book.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The Cup and the Sword (1942) by Alice Tisdale Hobart

Sprawling saga about the grape empire in the San Joaquin Valley in the years between WWI and WWII. Two main families merge through marriages to become the reigning wine growers. When the patriarch dies, the rest of the family tries to keep the industry going despite Prohibition.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The Norby Chronicles (1983) by Janet and Isaac Asimov

The first two books in the Norby series by the great Asimov and his wife. Young Jeff wants to become a cadet in the Space Academy, but needs help with his Martian Colony Swahili to pass the courses. He only has enough money to purchases an old, “pre-owned” Teacher Robot (Norby) who seems to have secret powers.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The Noblest Frailty (1983) by Patricia Veryan

Regency Romace that is part of the Sanguinet Saga. Yolande has been promised to her distant cousin Alain since childhood, but when the time comes close to announce their engagement, another cousin from Canada shows up to lay claim to his lost inheritance. Now she must chose between Alain and cousin Craig.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Lavender-green Magic(1974) by Andre Norton

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Norton, and her YA books are particular favorites. Lots of historical research go into these books. And this is the first one I've come across where the main heroine is a black high school student. Holly and the twins move in with their grandparents when their dad goes missing in Vietnam and their mother must work elsewhere to make a living.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Mother Was Always in Love (1959) by Philip Van Rensselaer

A book about the futile lives of the very rich in Europe between the wars. I can't imagine a life more useless and self-serving. Nothing but a never-ending round of parties, liaisons, etc. Young Peter grows up watching Mummy go from one man to another.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Bad Coffee Habits



This was another article I saw on MSN. The person who wrote it clearly doesn't know the FULL SCOOP about coffee. (see what I did there?) Here are the “bad things” about coffee that we are to give up. You know what I say? “When you pry my coffee mug out of my cold, dead, hands!!”

Whipped cream. Phooey. Not giving it up.

Sugar. Phooey. Ditto.
Don't buy it, make it. Invest in high quality coffee or espresso maker.
OK, I admit it's a LOT cheaper to make it yourself. But I've TRIED. MANY times. It does NOT resemble fancy bought coffees.

Creamer. If you MUST use it, soy creamers are better. Vegan creamer is best of all.
Have you checked the prices on specialty creamers? Huh? Phooey again.

Before bed...caffeine no, decaf yes.
Once again, this one makes sense. It's OK.

Too much caffeine
Another sensible one. Sarah was hooked on caffeine in high school. I know people who cannot have it or they'll start shaking. Just know yourself.

Splurging on the venti. You may become more caffeine dependent. And if you begin the day with a huge amount of caffeine, you will crash later. The article suggests starting your day with a small one, and having another later in the day.

Coffee syrups....no healthy version for this. Phooey.

Any kind of a “mocha”. Might as well drink a milkshake. Very high in calories.
Ask me: is it worth it? Hell, yeah!

It seemed the main complaint was adding sugar and calories. They advised to just drink PLAIN COFFEE. WHAT GOOD IS THAT???

Phooey.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Foods to try before you die



This was one of those articles on MSN. I chose a few from the list and put them in 4 categories: Yes/already tried, Maybe, Highly doubt it, and finally, DEATH FIRST! (to quote Westley)

In the first category are the following:
1. Frog legs and rabbit. I've eaten both, and they were fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat them again.
2. I've also had baklava and bread pudding. And YES, I would go out of my way to eat them again. And have.
3. Scotch eggs. I've heard about this dish many times in Brit literature. Hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and fried. What's not to like? I would definitely like to try this.
4. Japanese kobe beef. Would LOVE to try this without having to take out a bank loan first.
5. Prickly pears. I've always been curious as to what it tastes like. It's used to make candy, jelly and drinks.

Maybe category:


1. Fried alligator, kangaroo steak. As long as it's well cooked, I'd try either.
2. Baba ganoush. Heard this name so many times watching Most Extreme Elimination Challenge that I would HAVE to at least try it. I've had eggplant parmigiana, and enjoyed it.

Highly doubt it:
1. Borsch. Hate beets. 'nuf said.
2. Durian. Very stinky Asian fruit. Supposed to be healthy, but the smell has made it banned in public places. That should be a hint in itself.
3. Black pudding sausage made with pig's blood. Ick.
4. Caramelized grilled eel. Doubt it.

DEATH FIRST!
1. Sea urchin w/caviar. Even the article said it was not suitable for all palates. Pass.
2. Escargot/Haggis. Not this side of the grave. Snails and sheep offal. No thank you!
3. Grilled octopus. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope. One for each tentacle.

So there you have it. Just gimme a cheeseburger and a slice of baklava, please.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Beast More Stomach Than Man



And yes, that is a Simpson's quote. And yes, this is about all-you-can-eat buffets.

Sadly, I'm not the trencherman I used to be, so don't get as excited about these things as I did in the past. I would look in amazement at people who would take their relatively little plate and pile it 4-5 inches high with SALAD of all things, and drenched in dressing! First of all, you DO get to go back as many times as you like, so no need for trying to take it all in one go. Second, SALAD???? When you can chose pizza, fried chicken, clam chowder, etc??? And since I've NEVER been a fan of dressing of any kind, to see these mountains dripping with what looks to me like something sneezed out....you get the picture.

My mom and I used to go out to lunch frequently at the Sizzler in Chico. The only salad I would eat was the taco salad that I would put together myself. And then maybe have some fried chicken. And always the dessert bar.

Here in Oroville, we had Golden Corral which we went to a LOT. No taco salad available, but the fried chicken was tops. I might get a small salad made of a little lettuce, but lots of pepperoni, garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, olives and cheese. NO DRESSING. And the cobbler was warm and delicious no matter what the fruit at that moment was. With caramel sauce and ice cream on it...YUM!

In Fresno there is a John's Incredible Pizza that is beyond my wildest dreams. I had never heard of this chain before. Not only do they have salad, which I pretty much ignore, but there is fried chicken AND pizza!! And breadsticks! And the dessert bar is phenomenal! It's pricey, and like I said, I can't really do an all-you-can-eat place justice anymore, so this kind of place is definitely for special occasions, not all the time.

When Marv and I were on vacation in Eureka, we ate at a Sizzler there. They had a Senior Special where you got shrimp, baked potato AND salad bar, for a very reasonable price. The shrimp was good, the potato was perfect, and I got fried chicken from the salad bar. They had baked custard at the dessert bar, and I LOVE custard. This was very bland, though, so after a couple of bites I went back and put chocolate ice cream on it. I have to admit that I had to give Marv a couple of my shrimp because I was getting full, but I am NOT going to pass up a dessert bar! My standards may be low, but I DO have them!

Bon app├ętit!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 2015 Book Report



The Rightful Owner (2014) by Emily Thomas

A Blue Hill Library mystery. Anne finds a rare book of Edgar Allen Poe stories in a box of donated books for sale. She discovers it's worth a lot of money and wants to find the owner, who may have donated it without realizing it's worth.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Cracking the Code (2014) by Emily Thomas

Another Blue Hill mystery. Someone leaves a bag of money on the steps of the library. While the money would go a long way for much needed repairs, Anne needs to find out first who left the money and why. She also discovers information leading her to wonder if her late Aunt Edie was a spy for the US during the Cold War.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The Case of the Beautiful Beggar (1965) by Erle Stanley Gardner

I grew up watching Perry Mason on TV. I had a mad crush on Paul Drake (William Hopper). I had never read any of the books, though. I got this one from a used book store in Eureka. Great read! I could picture it all so clearly in my mind, since I already knew what the main characters looked like. It was like watching one of the TV episodes. In this one, young Daphne, ward of the rich Horace Shelby, is set to inherit his vast fortune until greedy relatives try to cash in sooner.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Laura, the Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder (1976) by Donald Zochert

Another awesome find at the bookstore in Eureka. I read and loved all the Wilder books in my youth. I thought the TV show was OK, but they changed a lot of things from the books that I didn't care for. Reading this biography made me want to get all the books and read them again.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Dead Matter (1993) by M. K. Wren

Huge fan of this woman! Especially her Conan Flagg mysteries, and this is one of them. They always make me want to go to that area on the Oregon coast. And I love the fact that Conan has this cozy little bookstore that is ruled by his cat. In this book, Conan tries to find out who killed the beautiful movie star's writer husband. What makes it harder is the fact that no one mourns the guy.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984) by Bette Bao Lord

Awesome, awesome book! And it was FREE from that bookstore in Eureka. Probably because the cover had been torn off, but was otherwise fully intact. It was a paperback like the kind kids get at book sales at school. Good story about a Chinese family that comes to the US after WWII. The father came over first to get established, and then sends for his wife and daughter. When the little girl is asked to chose an American name to use as her own, the only American name she knows is Shirley Temple. So she becomes Shirley Temple Wong. As she slowly gets used to a very new way of life, she is introduced to American baseball. She quickly becomes a huge fan, especially of Jackie Robinson. She lives for when the games are broadcast on the radio at home. The author drew on her own experiences as a newcomer to this country.