Sunday, November 30, 2008

We've Been Elfed!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A Fifties Christmas

I'm the baby in this photo!

My parents sent these Christmas cards for years. My mother always went on and on about the white angora hat I had on in this photo. You'd think angora equaled mink!

Notice the bride doll next to my drum. Bride dolls were big that year! My brother evidently had cowboy fever. He must have gotten the full outfit to go with his Hopalong Cassidy bedspread.

My brother and I with our two cousins at a family dinner. We usually sat at a children's table in the family room, but Christmas was special.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Now I know why they call it Black Friday! Everyone in our household has been sick. I finally succumbed to the dreaded crud on Wednesday. It's really making the rounds here in our area. It starts out with a horrible sore throat, then massive head cold, and who knows from there. Fortunately, I had no plans other than trying to get some exercise -- and I skipped that. I've spent the last two days in a tryptophan/cold medicine daze. Mostly sleeping on the couch!

I started looking at a crafty project that looks like fun for Christmas. I have some antique wooden bowls that have been hiding in the closet since we moved. Here's a decoupage idea I found at Hallmark Magazine online. I think I'll try it with copies of old family pictures, antique postcards, newspaper clippings, and old Christmas cards. If it works well, I might make some memory bowls for Christmas gifts.

Here's another gifty idea that I'm thinking about. There's also a collection of old china teacups lurking on the shelf. This would give those new purpose, and cactuses are readily available down here. :)

On a happy note, after a drenching hail/rainstorm last night, the weather is now crystal clear and beautiful. And everything in Phoenix has been washed clean!

Anyway, life's not such a beach right now. I'm hoping my crud doesn't last as long as Craig's (he's at the two week mark!). If I felt better, it would have been a great day to soak up the sun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving's Past and Present

When the weather turned crummy on Tuesday this week, Craig and I just laughed. We traveled down here for Thanksgiving three times from Washington State, and all three times -- you guessed it! We thought we were traveling to the land of sun, palm trees, and swimming pools for our Thanksgiving holiday. And that was never the case. Each trip, it was either overcast and chilly, spitting rain, or sunny with a cold desert wind blowing. And this Thanksgiving was the same. Thunder, rain, sun breaks, and cool weather. In fact, it poured and even hailed last night. But we love it now because it adds variation to the constant sun. Here are some photos from past Thanksgiving's in Phoenix.

We were literally shivering in this picture. That was our first Thanksgiving vacation to Phoenix.

The second trip, we knew the drill! Sweaters and fleece!

Here's Michael all bundled up for golf in Prescott. He had on a stocking cap earlier in the day and they had a frost/snow skiff delay!

And here the weather was obviously a little better!

All the gratitude posts yesterday made me feel a little ungrateful for not posting my list, but let me explain my public reluctance with a little story from a Thanksgiving about ten years ago. At the time, we had good friends who lived in a lovely view home in the Seattle area that hung over a scenic lake below. The entire 5,000 sq. ft. home was brand new custom designed fully decked out professionally decorated -- you get the drift. Anyway, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at their house. It was a formal affair with the host's business partner and wife also in attendance. The dining table was arranged with formal newly purchased china and chargers and large professionally arranged flowers. And the menu was entirely gourmet. Just perfect -- well maybe too perfect? All very nice people, but definitely livin' large.

After we were all seated, the host said a little prayer, and then the hostess asked each of us to express our particular gratitude for the past year. Well -- my men aren't all that expressive and they both looked like deer caught in the headlights. I still laugh when I think about the look on my son's face. This was an unfamiliar Thanksgiving tradition to him in front of non-family, so he was speechless. Craig was actually first and said something with a touch of usual humor about being grateful for his lovely wife. Michael, about 17 at the time, came out of his stupor and stated he was grateful for his golf game. That got a little laugh at the table. I said I was grateful to be alive (that had been a really big year for me after a tense surgery that required a long recovery), and really grateful for my husband, son, and all the good friends who saw me through that time. As they went round the table, our gratitude paled in comparison to the host and hostess's speeches. They both separately gushed with gratitude for their loving loving loving lasting relationship, their wonderful talented children, their new baby, their fortunate abundance that allowed them to host the Thanksgiving dinner . . . on and on. I was a little embarrassed for my thrifty words, but I'm just not a gusher! Finally, the host carved the turkey and we ate the wonderful gourmet meal.

Well . . . you KNOW there has to be a punch line here. Right? Less than a month later, we spent Christmas Eve there and they were barking/snapping at each other. They referred to each other as Dear and Honey with a bitter tang, and the evening was tense. When we got home, we both made the comparison back to the gushing at Thanksgiving. By January, she was miserable with the relationship and in February -- filed for divorce! The 'perfection' was just too good to be true.

So the moral of the story? I don't know. I guess I have a public reluctance to express feelings and emotion. Just because feelings aren't publicly expressed doesn't mean they're not present. And sometimes publicly expressed emotions aren't necessarily sincere. And that's NOT a comment on any of your posted gratitude lists this Thanksgiving. I enjoyed reading all of them and they were extremely sincere.

I will tell you I'm grateful this year for both my son and husband and their easy-going natures, the nice roof over our heads, all my good friends who lighten up the hard times with laughter, and not being out in the street in an economy like this. I'm grateful and happy for my son this year because he's happy in life with a job he loves. (And I'm grateful for all the unbelievable deals he gets me on great Ecco shoes. Ha!) I'm also grateful the turkey cooked in the bag yesterday was a big success!

Rest assured I'm grateful for much more -- I'm just not a gusher!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

A friend e-mailed this little Thanksgiving ditty to me yesterday and I thought I'd share. I think maybe I should view the ditty as an allegory and watch what I eat over the holidays! Ha!

When I was a young turkey, new to the coop,
My big brother Mike took me out on the stoop,

He sat me down, and he spoke real slow,
And told me there was something I had to know.

His look and tone I will always remember
When he told me the horrors of . . . Black November!

"Come about August, now listen to me,
Each day you'll get six meals instead of three.

And soon you'll be thick, where you once were thin,
With a big rubbery thing under your chin.

And then one morning, when you're warm in your bed,
In will burst the farmer's wife and hack off your head!

She'll pluck all your feathers till you're bald and pink,
Scoop out your innards and leave you lying in the sink.

And then comes the worst part -- and I'm not bluffing,
She'll spread your cheeks and pack your rear with stuffing!"

The rest of the words were too grim to repeat,
I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat.

I decided right then to avoid being cooked,
I'd have to lay low to remain overlooked.

I started a new diet of nuts and granola,
High roughage salads, fruit, and diet cola.

As the rest ate pastries, chocolates, and crepes,
I stayed in my room doing Jane Fonda tapes.

I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
And tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed.

Twas I who was laughing, under my breath,
As they chomped and chewed their way closer to death.

Sure enough, Black November rolled around,
I was the lone turkey left in the entire compound.

So now I'm a pet in the farmer's wife's lap,
I haven't a worry, I eat and I nap.

She held me today, while sewing and humming,
Smiled at me and said "Christmas is coming!"

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Few Festive Arizona Photos

These photos are from years back before we lived in Arizona. We were down here for Thanksgiving several times when our son attended ASU. I'll be taking more Southwest Christmas photos after Thanksgiving, but until then, I'll post these as a teaser! This wagon decorated for Christmas is my favorite!

Christmas Wagon

Christmas Ham

House of Joy in Jerome

Christmas in Jerome

Tlaquepaque in Sedona

P.S. I love that video. My two good friends and I were twirlers in the Oswego marching band. The parade scene reminds me of marching in the annual Parsons, Kansas Christmas parade back in the 60's! It was a biggie! By the way, we were TERRIBLE twirlers! :) And it appears that the year this picture was taken, we didn't even have majorette boots!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

California Dreaming

While it's still November, I thought I'd post a flashback to a trip we took in November 2003! We were on the way back from spending Thanksgiving with our son down in Arizona. We happened upon a little town I'd love to visit again someday.

One of these days, I'll hop in the car and drive back to Cambria, California. Just take a little drive up the coast with the top down to one of my favorite little beach towns! Cambria's just south of San Simeon, the location of Hearst Castle. It's a quaint funky little town with galleries, nice little restaurants, and a great beach to explore. It's been awhile since we were there, but it was another November and we stayed at Cambria Pines Lodge, on a hill above the village area. The room had the most comfortable bed I've ever jumped on (just testing to see if anyone actually reads this!), a little fireplace, and a deck that hung over a pine forest behind the room. I collected HUGE pine cones to take home. It was a nice little winding walk down the hill to the village. Another trip, also in November, we stayed at a funky little beach motel across from Moonstone Beach. The weather was warm with crispy mornings, and the crowds were gone. Nice!

Both trips we took tours of the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It's a short drive up the coast to the visitor's center where you pick the tour you'd like to take and explore the museum until your time arrives. We've been twice and only touched the tip of the iceberg. By the way, you can't literally 'touch' anything without a guard suddenly appearing to slap your knuckles! But the estate is huge, and most of the contents are priceless!

On our last trip up the Central Coast, we just happened to be there during the elephant seal migration. Actually, I think it may have had something to do with mating? They migrated to mate? Ha! Anyway, we pulled up to a beach turnout and saw what appeared to be large logs spread all over the beach. Once out of the car, we realized the logs were seals! (Stinky barking logs!) Here are some photos from that last trip through Cambria, California.

Flower Planter in Cambria

Cambria Pines Lodge

Elephant Seal Migration

A Face Only a Mother Could Love
(Face above -- not below!)

Moonstone Beach, Cambria

San Simeon Pier

Hearst Castle Grounds

Hearst Castle Pool

One of Many Castle Doors!

Cambria Pines Garden

Birdhouses in the Garden

Monday, November 24, 2008

Deck the Halls!

I spent the weekend decorating the inside and outside of the house -- everything but the Christmas tree. That will go up sometime after Thanksgiving. It seems a little early, but we're trying to work in a short Arizona road trip next weekend, so I thought I might as well get the Christmas projects done! Besides that, it lifts the spirits! Something to take the mind off the current state of the nation! And if I'm going to do all this work, I might as well put it up a little early so I can enjoy it for longer! Here's some photos from the weekend work. I started out in the courtyard first.

Look at all the new baby plants. Baby's First Christmas!

And even the cacti got the treatment!

Come on in and I'll show you some of my Christmas work!

Here's my collection of old Santa's, old Santa boots, and missions.

This is my favorite arrangement! I collect old wicker, retro Christmas houses, postcards, etc... So I used an old piece of wire fencing to back the Christmas village with all my Christmas pics and postcards.

More old wicker and pinecones.

I even used some of my seashells/seaglass with some old glass Christmas ornaments!

More wicker and old Christmas ornaments.

Deck the walls too!

A creed I NEVER should have adopted!

Love this old colander filled with old glass ornaments.

Had to get up on top those kitchen cabinets!

Some more kitchen glitz.

And spruced up kitchen shelves!

Some decorations in the family room.

I have a few more plans for this next week. I'm going to drag some of my antique wooden boxes out of the garage and fill them with Christmas goodies, and also touch some old pots with white paint to give them that shabby chic look. But I really need to go buy a turkey! :)

P.S. While I was decorating the courtyard, a bird crapped on me. I hope that's not an omen!