Posts Tagged With: cards



Instead of a full house at Thanksgiving, we managed a small gathering with seven people- our  hosts, Virginia and Cedric. Their son, Owen, is visiting Greece with his Grandma Olga, who speaks Greek and Russian. They canceled the Russian part of their trip due to the unrest in that country. I brought avocados and gumbo. Theo is the family expert on guacamole, so he immediately set to work.  I find it hard to believe that he got taller than me since the last time I saw him.


Virginia put him to work, cutting the ends of the fresh green beans.


Doug claims mashed potatoes and gravy is the best part of the feast. He brought two ten pound bags of potatoes and Cedric cheerfully peeled all twenty pounds of potatoes. The first batch is ready to cook.


The second batch waits in a large kettle for space on the stove top. Doug also brought gobs of cookies-his specialty-and a to-die-for lasagna. I filled a container to bring some home and dang, it got left behind.


Traditional turkey, smaller, and cooked split down the middle and flattened. A new method. The turkey cooks quicker and more evenly with breast not drying out by the time the legs are cooked. That also meant giving up the traditional stuffing. No one seemed to miss it.


Cedric made gravy by roasting vegetables, onion, carrot, parsnips, mushrooms, and celery. The veggies were yummy and so was the gravy, mixed with the liquid from boiled giblets and de-glazed drippings from the turkey pan. I don’t think Cedric left the kitchen at all until it was time to eat.


The guests were having a good time while all this work was going on. I taught Theo how to play cribbage and he beat me in a tight finish. Doug and I played Cribbage, cutthroat style.  There was a game of liars dice going around. My brother Norman watched and snacked.



Jim was waiting for his turn, a challenge issued for a four-way game, Doug and Theo, he and I.  All too soon, it was time to skype Laurie, Ken and Mason.  Thanksgiving in their new house was downsized as well with just the three of them.  And Kristanne was alone in Las Vegas.  Her boys and their father are off to Idaho visiting their other grandmother. We could only hear her on the skype. We couldn’t get an image. But, everyone will be coming to Murphys for Christmas this year, just four short weeks away.


Doug put together, “cranberry man”, which has become a tradition. He looks different every year. This is a tease because Cedric likes the old-fashioned jellied cranberry sauce over the home-made varieties most of us prefer.


Meet cranberry man 2016 with a kiwi head.


Doug traditionally carves the turkey, too.


Jim took a family picture for us. We had corn bread, gumbo, persimmon, pear and pomegranate green salad, olive rolls, stir fry garlic green beans, baked sweet potatoes, home cured olives, olive tapanade and all the aforementioned delights. I’ve probably forgotten something, but I tasted everything.  For a downsized feast, it was awesome.


Cedric made one pie. He always puts a decoration made with crust on his pies. This year, with the political situation, he made a scroll that represents the constitution with We The People engraved on the crust.

Virginia made her usual pear tart.  The dessert bar was overflowing with cookies, fudge brownies with plump fresh cranberries and candy.

Giving thanks for the good things of 2016, cherishing family and good health,  the predominant theme around the table. Life is good.


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Friday past, Doug, myself, and a lot of baggage loaded into Ken’s seven passenger Tahoe and headed for a rented condo at Incline Village. It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a hot tub, a foos ball table, books, television, and, plenty of room for our gang of 11. (Missing was grandson’s Mason and Alec.) Our first stop was the Great Basin Brewing Company for lunch, in Reno.

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Ken is growing a mustache, and his son, Stewart lives in a house close to his campus at Univeristy of Nevada at Reno. All college kids like a free lunch, and it gave Stewart, who has facial hair, a chance to rib his dad on his “paltry” mustache.

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After lunch, we picked up my oldest daughter, Kristanne and her son Austin at the Reno Airport and drove to the condo.

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On Saturday morning, (Virginia and her gang have yet to arrive), Doug, who is known for his fabulous omelets was relaxing when his brother said, I’m hungry now, where is that omelet?  I love this, Doug, in pidgin English, said, “you-want-omelet-now? OK.” Ken got his plate of eggs in about one minute, including a do it yourself kit.

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The omelets were full of veggies, cheese and ham, made to order, and delish.

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Later Saturday morning, youngest daughter Virginia, her husband Cedric and their boys, Theo and Owen arrived. Theo and I started a jigsaw puzzle, all the while wondering if all the pieces are present. It was a challenging puzzle.

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We are a games playing family, and soon Laurie and Kris were playing RummiKub. Virginia read her paper she brought from home.

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Stewart drove up and he, Doug and Ken had a game of Elevator going at the other end of the table.

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It was chit-chat, relaxation and games. Elevator, Thirteen, Phase 10. People jumped in and out of the games, as they changed throughout the day.

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Theo and Austin went out, played in the snow, came in, jumped in the hot tub and came up to make their lunch before going back in the tub. Theo taught Austin to put the “right” kind of potato chips in his turkey and cheese sandwich.

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Cedric tried a hand game Austin brought that is popular at his school. It is a Japanese game where you toss the ball on the end of the string and catch it in one of two cups and on a peg. I think it is Chandra? Much harder than it looks.

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Cedric spent part of the afternoon baking pies for dinner. We all demand a pie fix. His are the best.

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We play a lot of cards. Stewart laments that in his generation only a couple of his friends actually play cards. Virginia brings a card game she discovered in Mexico, an auction game we play only once. I think it is called Ah Fiance.

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Laurie cooked Saturday night’s dinner. A big pot of Mexican chili with cilantro and cheese, her  home-made corn tortillas. A black bean and pepper coleslaw, a bowl of guacamole, and dipping chips. Hardly anyone was hungry enough for desert.

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By bedtime, the puzzle was unfinished. Theo, Cedric, Laurie, myself and Owen all worked off and on during the day on the puzzle. More tomorrow.




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I am very ambivalent about birthdays. I don’t celebrate my own, nor others, normally. Other people remember mine. I often don’t. But, Margo on the right, was also not celebrating her birthday, but here we are having a birthday get together for Margo. Basically just an excuse to have a girls night out. Amanda, on the left, is new in town and works at Quyle pottery. A new Brewery in town, we decided to try their beers. But, check out the glasses, Amanda’s glass is tall, Margo has a mug.

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Pam and I each have a heavy “brandy” style glass?  Beats me. We ordered a taster and my favorite beer is Black Butte Porter. This brewing company doesn’t make a porter, but their stout was excellent and the rest of their beers were too. Glad we went, but, just a pass on the food. So, go for the beer.

Pam Quyle runs a pottery in Murphys that started with her parents 61 years ago. We’ve been long time friends and Pam decided we will have dinner at my house in February. She is the organizer so, now I know what kind of beer everyone likes. February it is. Maybe we’ll  not celebrate another birthday if we can find a friend born in February? I gave Margo the best card. We’re all single. On the front it reads, “I was trying to find a man for you.” On the inside it read, “But, why get something so useless.”

I know, its bad. I was the fourth recipient of that card. I scratched my name out and put in Margo’s. It’s a girl thing. It went well with the beer.

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Fort Worden at one time had 400 buildings, 90 remain. A huge military installation to guard against enemy attacks that did not come. Not one shot was fired from the huge gun batteries for anything but practice. It astounds me, sometimes, at how much money is spent on so many men, so many pounds of artillery, that even today, goes unused.

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The Army may have marched on its stomach, but the rations were pretty unappetizing.

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I guess this is a survival food, maybe higher calorie than normal soda crackers.

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Looks unappetizing.

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This was a typical size barracks area for one soldier. The barracks food was not the rations I took pictures of in the museum. I’m sure they ate pretty well. And, considering serving aboard a sub, these quarters were luxurious. Notice the pin-up picture.

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I’d love to know what happened to giant wrenches like these. I could build a gate with them.

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When they built Fort Worden, the troops at some point had to be billeted outside in these tents.  Brrrr!

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Entertainments were pretty thin, but at least they had something on this bleak, windy, mostly uninhabited point on the Straits of Juan De Fuca.

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Not only the commissary, and as one guy put it, the best thing about the station was 10 cent burgers and cheap, tax-free gas gasoline.  The music reflects the time, but I never heard either of these two songs. There was a piano on base, and possibly dances. A few nurses, but who did they dance with?

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Of all the war stuff and pictures in the Museum, this one is astounding. Any ship, friendly or otherwise could not make it through the straits with this great barbed chain.

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At West Point, we saw a narrow channel with a cable preventing ships from coming up the river, but not with barbs like these.

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Fort Worden was decommissioned in 1973 and turned over to the state and is now on the National Historic Register. The buildings and history here, are well maintained. The fort was used for a hospital, a juvenile detention center and a college before it was decommissioned and kind of fell apart. But years of neglect, the buildings fell into disrepair.

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Now there are two different colleges here, a conference center, it rents out the grounds for movies or other special events. Above is a ukulele student because they are staying in barracks for a six weeks conference/workshop in ukulele.

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And, then there is Alexander’s Castle. The only building on the site when the government chose it for a base. It now serves as a bed and breakfast. The story is that a Scottish immigrant built this house for his bride. When he returned to Scotland, she’d married someone else. I thought it looked a bit like a church. Kind of unusual. Sure enough, Alexander was a clergyman.  They don’t tell you what happened to Alexander with his broken heart. But with that many men on base, there most likely were a number of broken hearts over the years.



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Having children discovering the magical myths of Christmas makes it special. These cards show the joy that children bring to the season.


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What I was most struck with as I rummaged through my card collection, is the absence of people of color. Jesus was a Jew in an Arabic nation. Probably brown-skinned. Yet he is always portrayed with white skin and blue eyes.

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The second thing that struck me is almost all cards depict snow. It is tough to find a Christmas card outdoor scene without snow.

And, this unusual 1945 card shows the other side of Christmas, those less fortunate, cold and forlorn during this munificent celebration.

Generous people, be reminded of your food bank donations, or service club jacket, blanket or toy collections. Most of us with computers have all we need. Did I read that seven homeless people died in San Francisco because of this cold snap?

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We celebrate Christmas in waves. First comes Christmas Eve with the immediate family. My kids and grandkids. Always fun.

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Daughters, Laurie and Kris, chatting over a glass of wine.

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An unusual event, sharing new tattoos. Son Ken at 51 surprised all of us with his first tattoo.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The grandkids kept company as the younger generation does, with their fingers texting away. DSC04369 (Copy)

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.

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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.

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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.

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