December 29, 2012
We celebrate Christmas in waves. First comes Christmas Eve with the immediate family. My kids and grandkids. Always fun.
Daughters, Laurie and Kris, chatting over a glass of wine.
An unusual event, sharing new tattoos. Son Ken at 51 surprised all of us with his first tattoo.
Grandson Alec with his first tattoos. He also has one on a thigh and the backs of his biceps. Hmmm! I’ve been thinking…no, not really.
We had a guest from Northern Italy, an exchange student by the name of Emil, who fit right in. We played a loud game called Pass Phrase, I think that was the name of it. All ages could play. It was loud and raucous.
Dinner was unusual as well, with smoked pheasant that Ken bagged during his recent hunt. Very tasty, replacing the usual turkey or ham or beef. We had paella, a green salad, butternut squash and spinach souffle.
After dinner, we opened our gifts, which for the adults is an anonymous book draw. Each person buys a book, wraps it without any tags and puts it under the tree. The books are drawn by number allowing you to keep the book you’ve drawn or steal one from another person. Son Doug turned his book into a scavenger hunt, giving clues around the house for whomever chose his package, which was a 13 clue, fun, mystery enjoyed by all.
I finally understood that they do communicate with each other and texting isn’t such a dissociative practice. I saw plenty of interaction besides the texting. It is no different than me talking to someone and taking notes. It was an eye opener for me.
And there was plenty of time for interaction between generations, with Stewart and Austin wrestling. It rained and rained. Kris wanted to take her exchange student to see the snow and big trees. They got turned away at Forest Meadows without chains. Timing is everything.
We celebrate on Christmas Eve. Played cards until the wee hours. Then, the next morning, we set up my computer and skyped with Virginia and her family who are in Pisciotta, Italy with her husband’s sister who has a four-month old baby.
It was a calm Christmas, quiet. Between downpours, we walked the dogs, five of them, and nibbled and gamed the day away. I hope everybody had a happy Christmas.
August 3, 2012
The last two days have been heavy work days. My driveway got resurfaced and a dead almond tree was removed. I went out early this morning to look at how things turned out and misplaced my cup of tea. It is not a good morning when I misplace my cup of tea. I retraced my steps, looked at every fence post, every flat surface, and it has disappeared. And, it’s my favorite cup.
While my helper hand-spread asphalt in liquid form on my driveway, my house mate, Karen, worked on refinishing wooden chairs. Sanding the old varnish and paint off in preparation for a cheery coat of paint. I worked on genealogy and scanning old family pictures. On-line I shopped for an on- demand water heater to replace one beginning to make funny sounds at the age of 14.
While working with pictures, I saw the Rubber Ducky Race I photographed while my young niece from Colorado and her family were here for the reunion. Not only did they enjoy the race, but they enjoyed the creek and the event. Officials dumped a bunch of rubber duckies in the water upstream.
Here they come. It is a fundraiser for the Humane Society. People buy a chance to win the race. Prizes are awarded for lst, 2nd and 3rd place. Each duck has a number on the bottom, you get a receipt and give the duck back for race day.
At the finish line, eager hands wait to pick out the first three that cross the line and give winning numbers to the officials.
Helpers gather up the remaining ducks, and stay wet and cool along with the adult helpers. Kind of a win, win for everyone.
The ducks are plopped onto a tarp and will come back to race again next year.
The kids enjoy other activities in the park put on by the Humane Society.
Brittany and Brianna get their faces painted. They wear rubber ducky necklaces received when they bought a ticket in the race.
This little girl asked for a purple dinosaur while her brother waits his turn to be painted. There are games and food; the playground and the creek.
Pull up a blanket in the shade of a tree and enjoy a family picnic. Isn’t that the way to spend the hot days of summer?
July 29, 2012
It is Halloween. Vicki wishes us a Happy Halloween. It’s strange to think of this American Holiday in the midst of a an ancient city, dining on fried dumplings and sweet black rice in a hotel with no glass in the windows. We hate to leave this beautiful mountain village of Jiliang as we are still aglow with unforgettable memories of our time here.
From the bus, we see overladen donkeys hauling goods, people walking the roads, scenic villages, cows, horses, children drying corn or grain outside. Most pictures from the bus are too blurry to keep.
We look back at the Eastern Himalayas, our last look at the beautiful mountain and marvel at the many exciting experiences we had in this special area just 250 miles from Tibet. So close. Tour mates discuss our next trip and we swear it will be Tibet. Someone recommended the movie, Seven Years in Tibet, Lady Yang, about a famous concubine, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and so it goes as we head for the airport to fly to Kumming. (koo-ming.)
At the Naxi Stone Drum Village, we stop for lunch. The restaurant is crowded with Naxi people. Service here is more casual than other restaurants we’ve been to, Vicki tells us. The food simpler. Did we care? The place was fascinating with its chili pepper curtains, dividing the outdoor diners from the indoor diners. We are seated inside a small room with a wonderful view of this interesting gathering.
The faces are intent as they play mah jong. We realize no one is eating lunch but us.
Everyone plays. Women tend to stick to tables with women, but mix when the numbers are uneven.
This old fellow sits and watches the game, quietly smoking his opium pipe.
Viki said it is unusual to find this group of people gathered here and she asks around and finds out a government official is set to visit the village and the “seniors” are waiting in the courtyard to hear his speech.
I sneak a peek into the open air kitchen.
There is no refrigeration. Everything is fresh or stored in vinegar.
A photo bonanza for us, as we watch the activity and listen to them chatter among themselves. They totally ignore us. This table of women is playing some kind of card game and have apples to snack on. One woman is asleep at the table with her head bent low.
When the government official arrives, they listen with rapt attention.
Their meeting ends about the same time as our lunch. Wanning, with an interpreter tries to engage this elderly gent as everyone leaves the restaurant. But, the dialect is obscure, and she nor the interpreter can understand anything he says.
Now the Naxi are very curious about us. They do not shy from the camera and enjoy seeing themselves in our little screens with smiles and much straightening of their clothing. No hands come out for money.
We walk around the area to see what we can see and stretch our legs. This gentleman apparently has a car. He took out a bench from his trunk and proudly showed it to us. Or, maybe he was hoping we would buy it. We couldn’t tell. A car here is quite rare. We see almost no private auto traffic on the roads.
As we load into the bus, a beggar woman stands outside our window gesturing her need for food in her plastic covered dish or to sell us something Viki speculates. Vicki says it is too late but those in the bus who have snacks demand to stop and hand her some salty nuts, candy bars and a few yuan we offer. Vicki disapproves of encouraging begging and she says it is also very unusual to find a beggar in this remote village.
As we get back on the road in the bus, we see these two Naxi women walking back to their homes. Everyone seems to enjoy relatively good health and good spirits. Walking is their main mode of travel. Tomorrow, Kumming.
March 18, 2012
Evicting an Irish family from their home.
… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
And that’s another reason why I left old
When I was a kid, when asked my nationality, I always said Irish. My French mother would wryly comment, “You could be an eighth Irish and seven eighths something else, but you’re always Irish. I wonder why that is? ” I’m more than an eighth Irish, but I’m half French, and she had a point. I think it’s because the Irish suffered horrible deprivation in the midst of plenty. To escape they immigrated in great numbers to countries around the world. There are more Irish in America, Australia, South America etc. than there are in Ireland. I was unaware of that when we got our first television set in 1957 and I loved those old English romantic and heroic movies with Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger, etc. If my dad caught me watching one, he’d flip the television off. “Don’t be watchin’ all that aggrandizement of Cousin Jack.”
An interesting take on neglecting the pain of Irish history is given by Bill Bigelow writing for Common Dreams at the link below:
You can read the article at the link above from which comes the eviction ditty, and here are some excerpts from his piece:
What is not often taught in schools or known by the many who routinely celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, is that throughout the Irish ‘Potato famine’ there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad. The landlords were English.
“Ireland’s was surely the biggest experiment in monoculture ever attempted and surely the most convincing proof of its folly.” But if only this one variety of potato, the Lumper, failed, and other crops thrived, why did people starve? Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry — food that could have prevented those deaths.” In the end over a million Irish starved to death.
Ahh, the examples of man’s inhumanity to man are so numerous, even today, it sickens hardy souls.
On a more cheerful note, my little town of Murphys celebrates their Irish heritage with a festival of booths, food, music and a parade. Downtown was a sea of umbrellas when I got there at 10:00. The parade wasn’t set to begin until 11:00.
In the booths, people were cooking with their coats on.
Dodging raindrops, I opted to skip the parade and head for home.
It began to snow huge, wet flakes, some as big as golf balls. Safe inside, the smell of corned beef in the crock pot greeted me nose.
Later, my neighbors joined me for corned beef and cabbage, colcannon, soda bread and a variety of craft beers. I fittingly chose an oatmeal stout. Pretty good stuff for simple fare.
I needed some time off from my “catch-up” chores anyway, and ’twas gladness ta be injoying a hand of Rummikub with our grog.
November 26, 2011
We have three main family get togethers per year Independence Day Reunion, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. At times we are splintered, like this year.
Traffic was sane for the two-hour drive to Virginia’s, and in time to see the turkey come out of the oven for a turn over from breast side down, to breast side up.The smells greeted us on the driveway before we entered the house. Now that alone is a special joy.
We brought a new game, LCR, a fun and fast-moving dice game. Non-stop table games in shifts went on all day between snacking and tending the bird. Virginia taught us two new dice games, Threes and High Or Low. Both, challenging and easy to learn. We like to choose games the whole family can play in which the kids are equal to an adult by age seven.
Close to dinner time, eleven year old Owen peeled the potatoes. Two days before, both boys cracked walnuts from my tree for the walnut pie that Cedric is famous for. When the boys were too little to reach the table, it was their job to grind the cranberries in my old-fashioned hand grinder. At some point Owen discovered peeling potatoes and opted for that job on his own.
The turkey rested for 40 minutes while the previously tenderized in the microwave beets and sweet potatoes were roasted in the oven, green beans stir fired, the gravy made, potatoes mashed, and the salads put together.
With the magic of electronic communications, we still managed time with each other. Ken & Laurie spent Thanksgiving at home with their sons since Stewart, away at college as a freshman, came home for the first time in three months. It was comfortable talking with family members on the screen. Kristanne, too, connected by phone from Southern California.
A walk to the park in friendly California weather, the desserts and conversation until bedtime. We all expressed our thankfulness for each other, and we realize how fortunate we are.
And I am thankful for my cyber friends that follow my blog and give me input on my daily scribbles and photos. You put up with my rants and let me know when I’ve pleased you. Without you, my blog would not exist. Cheers to all of you in the blogging community.
November 23, 2011
I ran into my friend Suki Tutthill at the bank yesterday. She is hosting 31 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I groaned. Too much work. “No”, she said. “Its a free for all. I’m not even allowed in the kitchen. The women bring stuff and cook. The men do the clean up and I provide the place. Finding the dishes after everyone leaves can be interesting,” she chuckles. Hmmm. Sounds like fun. My simplify Thanksgiving this year is going to my daughter’s house and bringing the cranberries and a salad. We are a games playing family and enjoy the day long into the evening where turkey sandwiches, snacks, cards and loud competitive family stories are as much a part of the day as the dinner.
Our holiday get-to-gethers need simplifying in the future. Welcome holidays “lite”. No more wobbling, overloaded from the table and packing on the pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.
My plan is to unsweeten the sweet potatoes, salads that don’t sog, berry and apple pies without bottom crust. No side dishes and snacks with cream and sour cream. (Rich side dishes can be the centerpiece of another dinner.)
Lighten the work load, too. Mash the potatoes with the peelings on. Make stuffing on the side ahead of time. Smoke the turkey. Smoked turkey takes one and one-half hours on a kettle barbeque with a drip dish at the bottom and the guys do it, leaving the kitchen and oven free for other things. Gravy made days ahead by roasting a chicken and two turkey thighs. On the big day, just reheat. Use paper plates and paper napkins with dinner served buffet style. Yup! Traditions can and do change.
I used to try and prepare everyone’s favorite dish for Thanksgiving. Pretzel jello for Laurie, sweet potatoes with rum, pineapple, orange juice and banana for Virginia, macaroni shells stuffed with Italian sausage for Kristanne. Ken, Doug, and Rich always concentrated on the potatoes and turkey.
Now, Doug picks blackberries every year for pies at Thanksgiving, Christmas and our July family reunion. Cedric makes walnut and pecan pies to die for. Virginia makes a pear tart that no one will give up. At one time, I prepared no less than three vegetable side dishes such as corn pudding, creamed baby onions, burgundy carrots, spinach souffle, Harvard beets, marinated mushrooms, artichoke quiche. An embarrassment of riches.
As we give thanks for our bounty, suitably lighter, we know our table is still overladen compared to 98% of people in the world. It is appropriate that we are thankful, that we share, and that we have the means to help others at this special time of year and still enjoy our celebrated feast.
November 14, 2011
Grandson, Theo, was requesting a monopoly game, a game I dislike. He settled for a “camera assignment.” I asked him to choose from three colors, blue, red and yellow and go outside and take pictures of (he chose red), red items on his short street.
He is nine years old and did very well. I always learn something from my Grandson’s. He had read a library book called Zoom, in which a photo is reversed from close up to far away, showing for example a roosters comb, then the rooster, then the barn where the rooster lived, people looking in the barn, the magazine the picture of the barn etc. was on, a person reading the magazine, the chair he was sitting in and so on. Hmmm. Intriguing and challenging.
which is part of his:
Later in the day we visited my sister’s grandson, Jeff and great grandson, CJ.
We did manage games after dinner. We settled on Bananagrams and Quiddler instead, both fast moving and can reasonably be played by all ages. But, now I know I have to try a “zoom” assignment.
July 6, 2011
Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Come Independence Day, we celebrate with a family and friends reunion. Doug spends a couple days mowing and weed eating; raking the horseshoe pit, blowing up inner tubes and a multitude of other tasks to make ready.
January 16, 2011
But, first we posed for a family portrait. We don’t do this often enough, it seems to me.
Before we girls left, Austin, who takes Karate, challenged me to see who could stand longest on one leg. So, there we stood like a couple of book-ends. Austin won, but it was almost a tie. Ya gotta remember what it was like to be a kid and be silly once in awhile.
Our hostess, Julia, prepared a wonderful table of snacks, then a garlic pasta with broccoli , plus a salad, before we dug into our game.
I have to take a moment to describe this game because it was sooooo much fun, we were entranced for hours. Each person in turn must guess what everyone is describing. The clues on the box, for instance, are describing a swimsuit.
Kelly and Laurie were thinking hard for an appropriate clue.
Kristanne, on the hot seat, is brainstorming, as she tries to make sense of the disparate clues.
Julia picks a new word or phrase for the next round.
Everyone had played this game previously except me. Each woman confirmed the game is different when only women play. It has a point system where you can be competitive if you like, but we played for the sheer fun of it. It opens up personal conversations on a variety of subjects and I can’t imagine what it would have been like with Venus AND Mars at the table. Try it ladies, you’ll love it.
December 26, 2010
When cousins get to tease cousins, no matter the ages they all enjoy.
Aunt Cathy with Abbie.
California weather meant the little guys spent several hours on the trampoline Christmas Eve Day.
Daniel and Beverly.
Its hard to wait your turn to open a present.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
As the day got late, the guys put up the candles and lit the tree.
By popular request, Cedric made his pecan sticky buns before working on one of the Christmas meat pies, or pastie, as the traditional dish is known in our family.
Laurie displayed some Christmas “bling” with her lighted necklace.
The “dueling” cooks each made a giant pastie, each a bit different, both delicious. The banter goes something like this: “Your pastie is an abomination, its too juicy its too much like a pot pie.”
“Yours needs a little something to spice it up.” All in fun, not a morsel remained after breakfast on Christmas Day.
After dinner, the candles were snuffed, the tree adored and the family enjoyed the evening.
One of the grown-up “kids” helped the little ones with their toys.
The guy who drove the farthest distance enjoyed a nap.
And, a merry Christmas was had by all.