Saturday, December 29, 2012



*Which brings up a question, Reader Dear:  Which came first--all colors or no colors?  The chicken or the egg?  Night or day?   And I just have to ask you this, too, Dear Reader: Did you know that eleven hundred and thirty-seven years ago to the day, Charles the Bald was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John VIII?  (Yes, I was quite sure you knew).  It was snowing during the coronation.


Friday, December 28, 2012


WE WERE IN LUCK, The Yard Man and I and members of our family Christmas bunch who remain in the area!  The turkey was not so lucky.  After its swim in hot oil, Son-in-Law treated us to its amazingly tender and delicious flesh (He borrowed the deep-fat-fryer [The son-in-law did, not the turkey])

As much as I relished that bird and those side dishes, the real piece de resistance for me, Reader Dear, was the after-dinner entertainment furnished by the two little turkey-eaters next in size to the turkey itself.   The Little Actor and the Small Actor (still in town for this booking) gifted us with a live stage performance--"Coffee Table Dancing Allowed for the Benefit of Doting DNA"!

(Should you care to book these performers before they hit national stardom, Viewer Dear,*  keep in mind that their payment of preference is animal crackers.)
*I've included  a publicity shot


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

EIGHT O'CLOCK in the morning

Ten a.m.


TWO p.m.

Four O'clock in the afternoon.

SIX in the evening.

(or possibly TWELVE)...
Merry Christmas to all,
 and to all a good night!!


merging into MERRY CHRISTMAS,
Reader Dear!
Dear Reader!!

May your day be joyful and bright!


Monday, December 24, 2012


FORTY-THREE FOR CHICKEN-CORN pie!  It's a growing number!  It's hard to tell how long The Yard Man's extended family members will be able to squeeze themselves into one house for the traditional Christmas meal.

But so far, so good.  So far, in fact, superb!!  Last night's chicken-corn pies were so delectable and delicious, I felt they were the best ever.  "It's because I used lard!" exclaimed The Yard Man's sister Beth, maker of all ten pies.  (Yes, Reader Dear, TEN PIES! That sis-in-law of mine is such a pro!) 
As if making those pies was not in itself a monumental
job, she had also cooked home-grown green beans with garlic.
And she had at least a gallon of lovely golden chicken broth
sitting on the stove ready to be made into gravy.*
Not to mention, of course, those forty-three place
settings in the basement! 

Forty-two relatives and I ate up that meal with gusto!  (The final course was pears, and these were not your mother's pears, Reader Dear!  These were Etta's Christmas Pears Extraordinaire! [That's what I've named them, in honor of  the sis-in-law who made this dessert that was fit for the gods!])

*This Merry Christmas-
Chicken-corn-pie-eating family fiesta to be continued.
We've got music and dancing, and I've got one more savory little 
detail to add to the meal.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


ICED SUGAR COOKIES--a story best told in pictures!

Though it's true, pictures can't describe how these cookies have been a Christmas tradition for me since I was a child.  And who's to tell how many holiday seasons I put my hands on that rolling pin to flatten the dough for cut-outs? (It's a very old rolling pin, Reader Dear!)

The pictures don't say anything about the  time and attention required, and the relatively major mess in the kitchen for so few cookies.

There is no information regarding the red (ahem, pink) and green icing that ended up too runny and could not be thickened because of the lack of confectioner's sugar.  Nor do you hear my Daughter-the-Second, who did most of the wielding of the cookie-cutters, admonishing me, "Leave me out of the photo!"

In addition, it's difficult to convey in images how the cookie-making can lead to an urge to make muffins, and looking up the recipe for muffins can lead to a plan to mix up Basic Master Mix....

Hmm.  Perhaps, Viewer Dear, photos are only a half-baked way of telling the story, and not the best!*

*(It's just that photos are what I've concocted for you, Reader Dear!)


Saturday, December 22, 2012


YESTERDAY THERE WAS SO much rain that when I suggested to The Yard Man, Daughter-the-Second and friend David, that we go to the IKEA store, I added, "Lord willin' and the creek don't rise!"
But then, alas, the creek rose!

As we approached the swollen waterway,  David spotted a tree moving along in a great rush.  (You'll have to look closely, Viewer Dear, to see the big root hunk making its way to wherever the Lord was willin' it to go).                                                                 

Well, then I supposed that perhaps the Lord, regarding our trip, was...ah, whatever.
We went to IKEA.
Ate Swedish meatballs.

Spent several hours between the entrance and the exit perusing the wares.

(By-passed the creek again  on our way home).


Friday, December 21, 2012


IS THIS THE FINAL SUNRISE? I asked myself this morning. 
And then, because the day just went on...I just went on, too. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I SENT OUT ONE MORE package today.

The postmaster was appreciative of my food motif,
and those vintage stamps with the strawberries, kiwi, peppers, and beans.
Wow, even a Hershey kiss!
How calamitous, Viewer Dear, if the world ends tomorrow!*

*The USPS guarantees delivery in spite of wind, rain, sleet, hail, and most other conditions.
"Ice buildup" might be an exception.  I'm supposing that "end of  planet Earth" would tend to make the job rather tricky, as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


AH, THE TWINKLING LIGHTS!  It's been such a busy five days since I last posted, Reader Dear, but I can assure you... were always on my mind.
 I just felt I had no time to tell you about it!   I may have been Christmas shopping. I may have been sitting in the parking lot of the Barnes and Noble store, listening to You Were Always on my Mind. (Hmm.  I could just as easily have been eating chocolates and chatting on the phone!)

It's amazing how ornamentation takes one's mind off the misshapen aspects of one's tree.  Hanging all those (actual) twinkling lights and doo-dads was such an enjoyable process, at any rate, so why not let myself get carried away?!

And oh, I had fun with that annual artwork production, too.

There I was, standing in line at the post office, and up popped a cute little twinkly coincidence..."My birthday's tomorrow!" said Corinna, the one wearing the fake nose.

"Well, my goodness!" I told her, "so is my friend's birthday tomorrow!  This present is for her.  She's a little bit older than you , but she doesn't have a mustache!"  I thought a bit while Corinna licked the lollipop she'd gotten at the bank along with the fake nose*. Then I added, "My friend's going to get a late present!"

*(Banks, my dear reader, can be ever so generous.  Just the other week my bank offered up quite a spread of sugar-laden sweets.

The fellow patron who was cutting himself a hefty hunk of cake divulged to me that he is diabetic.  "I eat this stuff when my wife's not with me,"  he told me confidentially.

Then there was lunch and shopping with friends.
Twinkle!  Twinkle!
And a super supper with these three little girls (The Yard Man and I were hosted by Victoria and Amelia's mom and dad)!


And can you believe it?  The buttons delivered!!  (You may wish to hie yourself to the nearest J. C. Penney Store, Reader Dear, where you might be able to button up a deal of your own!)

Here's what you've won:
$10 Holiday Certificate


Thursday, December 13, 2012


THIS EVENING I HAD A SUDDEN INSPIRATION.  This unexpected notion of mine was an idea that I've never had before in my whole entire life!

It was after I'd put together the soup, filling the kettle with a variety of nutritious and tasty vegetables, I remembered the bag of pasta I purchased on a whim months and months ago.  It was on account of their striking coloration that I had bought the bag of bows.  Likewise, it was due to their unusual black-and-whiteness, their squid-inky composition, that I had dragged my feet on tossing them into a pot--they were too pretty to eat

But somehow, on this chilly December night, the mysterious voice of vision whispered in my ear that the time was right to make a Squid Ink Extravaganza!  And sure enough, the bows added a certain je ne sais quoi* that upped my eating pleasure to lofty heights!

*possibly a combination of beauty, charm and taste!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


OKAY. IT'S TUESDAY AFTERNOON, THE TREE is in an upright position in the living room. It was no easy task to saw off the extraneous limbs and manipulate it into the stand.  We ended up with a colossal mess of twigs and needles and dirt on the floor, as is the tradition. And then there was  the top-level (though carried out mostly while lying on the floor) job of trying to get that tree to stand evenly and securely with its best limbs forward.  This involved the tightening of screws and then the relaxing of screws, and the shifting of tree, and re-tightening of screws, and then the relaxing of the screws... (Every once in a while the air is a little bit blue, Reader Dear, in spite of the red and green season!)
But as I said, the tree at last stood tall.  I swept up the needles, and even vacuumed the floor.  I filled the well of the stand with water.  I scurried up to the attic and brought down the boxes of ornaments, the strings of lights.  All the lovely baubles.

At that point, Reader Dear, I was floating on a so-happy-that's-done feeling, and decided that tomorrow would be soon enough to tackle the job of dressing the tree!
Wednesday morning.  By the light of the new sun coming in the windows, I studied the tree. I  thought about the fact that in two weeks it would be Christmas eve, and I thought about that thing called time crunch.  And then I mused how that kind of crunch is never talked up eloquently the way grains in breakfast cereals are. Or little lumps of sugar in candy bars. While I was looking at the tree and time was crunching, an unhappy realization began to dawn...this tree was going to need a trunk trimming!

"It just looks weird!" I complained to the yard man tonight.     "Look how it stands so high off the floor!  Look at those bare bottom branches!"  In the spirit of Christmas, that yard man went off to get his saw.
In the same spirit of Christmas, I'll spare you, Reader Dear, the excruciating details of extracting the tree from its (now) water-filled holder,  returning it to the porch, hacking off five inches of the (now) water-logged trunk. Perhaps it goes without saying, but it didn't go without doing--we then had to engineer that tree back through the door. Struggle to overcome its inclination toward an inclination.  Once again we needed to grunt and groan and crawl around on the floor.

But now---now, Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up!  Come one, come all!  Right this way!  What you are about to see will amaze you  (ahem, well at least it amazes me)!   Hooray for a tree that is finally ready to be dressed in its holiday garb!!

It is READY FOR LIGHTS!  (Don't take it lightly, Reader Dear!)




 NOT MUCH OF A CHANCE, Reader Dear, that you'll ever again be jotting down this kind of threesome to represent the date.  Even if the Mayans were just snickering up their sleeves, "01-01-01" is a long way off!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


BECAUSE OF THE clement weather, and the fact that my yard man's got his very own horses hauling a wagon at Elizabeth Tree Farm, today was the day that he readily hopped into his truck and set off with me to get a Christmas tree! (Reader Dear, his horses are only on loan to somebody else, who is doing the driving of them; but triumphant tunes are playing in my head, nonetheless: I call it an accurate prediction!*)

In spite of the mild weather, the Christmas tree farm was far less than busy on this Tuesday afternoon.  Two employees showered us with attention and were of much assistance in the procuring of the tree.  When I expressed an interest in choosing a "less than ideal" tree, as was the case last year, they showed us to an area where the trees are all half-priced after five p.m.  When I wailed, "After five p.m?!"  they allowed as how two-forty in the afternoon was close enough.   
When we got the tree home, and my yard man was cropping and finagling it into the stand, I had the sinking sensation that this "less than ideal" tree was a bit farther from perfection than I had quite realized at the farm. (One might have to shade one's eyes and squint off into the distance).  But I gave a sigh, and settled for "close enough!"


*Or at least, close enough!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


SO THEN, AS THOUGH the celebrity visit and the new phone were not enough enhancement, yesterday's evening hours elevated the day to a shining highlight (of my week, and quite possibly, Reader Dear, of an even lengthier period of time--stretching backward, say, to Thanksgiving Day).  The Little Actor extended his stay with the yard man and me and thus he got to be part of this peak.
(At this point, Dear Reader, I am wringing my hands and biting my lip.  I fear I can't adequately describe the food and the felicity with words, and I'VE GOT NO PHOTOS!)

My yard man and I strapped the Little Actor into his car seat and went off to enjoy an evening with the parents of friends, as well as those very dear friends themselves, whose parents (and in-laws) so kindly issued the dinner invitation.  By the time we were strapping that tot back into his car seat, I was sated with feelings of fullness, and, alas, Reader Dear, all I can give you is a mere run-down of the food we ate:*
Roasted turkey and filling casserole with gravy
Homegrown corn
Homegrown green beans
Homemade applesauce
A fabulous salad of  nappa cabbage and chopped apples and grated cheese and roasted pecans and...and...and...ah, I'm swooning
Homemade bread
Home-canned, homegrown peaches
Chocolate Icebox cake

 *The fullness of gaining new folks to call friends, the camaraderie with those friends, the Christmas carolers suddenly singing in the night, the marble roller...oh, I'm simply not up to the task of elaboration, Dear Reader, dear.**

**( I've got to say more about that Chocolate Icebox cake, however! And that salad! Stay tuned!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012


TO THE MALL I WENT.  Those were the instructions from the guy at Best Buy, after I'd purchased a replacement phone.  "Your best bet is to go to the T-Mobile kiosk at the mall," he'd said.  "They can easily replace your sim card and you'll be all set."  Though I didn't relish the thought of trotting around the mall on a Saturday in December, it proved to be an acceptable experience

In fact, there are certain benefits to be had by visiting the mall during the run-up to Christmas---free chocolate truffles were handed to me (Compliments of Harry & David [One truffle already consumed at the time of this photo, Viewer Dear!])

And the J.C. Penney store gave me lots of free buttons! (I planned  my route to take me through the Penney's store at the earnest exhortation of the Best Buy guy--"You haven't heard about Penney's buttons?!  I won $275!  Oh, you've got to go to the Penney's store and get buttons!!"

Well, then I got home just in time for a visit from the Little Actor.  And he had a present for me, as well!

Of course, the polite thing to do when presented with homemade goodies is to open right away (as suggested by the giver) and everyone have a taste!

Red and green is for Christmas!  And it's that time of year, Reader Dear!!


Friday, December 7, 2012


PLEASE, READER DEAR, FOLLOW THE ASTERISK here before you prop your head on your hand and shake it in a "she's a hopeless mess" sort of way.

This afternoon I was running around--post office, grocery store, bank, drugstore.  I even spent a little time roaming a store that features some of  this and a lot of that and an abundance of other things--early Christmas shopping was what I attempted.  I was rather pleased with myself, too, though I'd have been an even happier errand-runner had I not had to fritter away so much time at the bank (At the drive-thru the wait seemed long. I snorted in disgust and pulled out of line, parked, entered the bank.  My goodness!  By the length of the lines inside,you'd have thought they were selling Cabbage Patch Dolls (Ah, Reader Dear, I'm jumping far out of the line-up of history, I must confess. It was an ancient time when I queued up to purchase two of these dolls!)  Well, so then I spun on my heel, exited the bank, got back in the car and returned to the drive-thru.  I heaved a big sigh and waited.

And then.  It was after I'd schlepped all my purchases into the house--I discovered I'd lost my cell phone!
 (Yes, Reader Dear, I called the bank.  I even called the stores.  And of course I tried calling myself.  They say silence is golden, but that's downright false when one's ears are straining to hear a marvelous T-Mobile sonata!)  I challenge you, Dear Reader Dear, to tell me I must drop the word AAARRRRGHHH from my lexicon!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


TA-DA!  THE UNVEILING of the pottery! While I knew that whatever went into that kiln must come out, I wasn't sure when it was scheduled to happen.  Janie called me at noon.  Turns out it was today!  The roof was to be raised at one p.m.   
Reader Dear, once again my To-Do's went flying out the window!  Undoubtedly, I assured myself, opening the kiln would be more fun than loading (no wadding!), and today was not nearly so cold as Saturday.  I picked up Janie and we hurried off, got to the site in time to see Phil crank up the roof and  unveil the treasures within!
We formed a brigade and eagerly set about emptying the kiln.

 Unfortunately, there were a number of Siamese twins, even a set of triplets attached to one another.
I suppose, Dear Reader, it's a hazard of the trade (Though no one spoke of it, and eyes were averted when we came across these ruinous misfortunes).

There were some other casualties, as well, related to the temperature of the fire; but, being the novice that I am, that was all a mystery to me.         
Phil threw himself into the job of divesting the kiln of its treasures, and in less than an hour we had all the pottery creations out of the kiln and were working on scraping clean the shelves.

(Yes, Dear Reader, I discovered there was some down and dirty work involved, even in this emptying process. Ah, I should have known it wouldn't be as simple as oohing and ahhing and putting the pieces on display!)  It didn't take very long.

And then it was just a matter of packaging up our newly-fired creations and carrying them home.*

*Arrgh, likely the easiest and most basic part of the job, and I blush to tell you, Reader Dear, here's where I failed.**

**More than half-way home I wailed to myself, "What about my pot with the handles made out of balls of clay?!!  I'm sure that piece made it into the kiln!  I'm sure I saw it come out!" ***

***What was most certain--
I'd forgotten it! Left one of my creations behind!****

****Dear Viewer, you'll see this piece once I see it again myself
OR:  To be continued...