Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Lake 2009

This was such a good time, not at all like the ordinary Thanksgiving dinners we've always had. Normally when I have family away, I just don't even bother with doing anything special, but together Debby and I put together a nice little gathering with 3 generations and had a great time. Three cousins who had barely been in contact for the past 40 years before this year, my mother, and Debby's two younger sons.

After cooking our stuff the day before, Mama and Darby and I headed to Gantt on Thanksgiving morning. Bobby had come up from Ft. Walton the day before and enjoyed exploring the areas where his folks once had a cabin. He took some pictures that day, and then we all drove over there Thursday afternoon to look around. I had very little memory of it, but the two of them spent a lot of time walking and pointing and arguing and agreeing while Mama waited in the car, afraid someone was going to come "shoot us" for being on their land.

The dinner was wonderful with way too much food, as usual, but no one complained. The turkey was fried and one of the best I've ever had. Beautiful and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy inside. And it just took an hour to cook! When I think of all those hours of thawing and basting and seasoning and checking temperatures, when all this involved was a little seasoning and popping it into the fryer.

And here's the masterpiece.

There were peas and butterbeans, corn, rice, deviled eggs, dressing, of course, salads, chicken and rice casserole, sweet potato casserole and the desserts....

Red velvet cake, pecan pie, lemon pie, buttermilk pie, and banana pudding. We actually didn't even eat any of those desserts until later that night or the next morning.

It was so nice to get a chance to know Clark and Hunter a little better and get reacquainted with Bobby. Mama did her best to rile up all the Alabama folks at the table with her "orange and blue" comments. No takers though. We remained friends.

After Darby calmed down from her excitement at having attention from new people, she spent hours sleeping in the sun or keeping watch over a suspicious hole in the rocks with a little break for some leftover turkey.
After lunch, we all piled into the car and went to Andalusia. I left Debby and Bobby at the nursing home to visit our step-cousin (?) Ann (where Mama discovered Aunt Nell's room and stopped in for a visit). I then took Mama to her friend Clara's and I went to my father-in-law's for a brief but nice visit.

Debby, me, Bobby, and Ann in front.

I'm afraid we woke up Aunt Nell, but they had a nice time laughing and talking.

We had planned to visit two cemeteries and take flowers, but the afternoon just disappeared, and that didn't happen . We'll go back next week maybe.

I so much enjoyed the drive and talk about the area and memories. We asked Mama hundreds of questions about her family so we could fill in the blanks from this picture. Sherry had sent me a picture of the picture, and we had debated the names and likenesses already, and then Thursday, Debby gave me a large copy of it.

The baby is our grandmother with her parents and sisters and brothers. Mama amazingly remembered everyone's names, their children's names, and usually a nice story to go along with it. We cousins shared what we remembered of them, but our memories usually consisting of going to one of the houses on Antioch Road and picking pears and blueberries and poking around in barns and outhouses. Maybe this will spur me on to finding the grandchildren of all these people and filling in yet more blanks.

Bobby had to leave for home as soon as we got back to Debby's, and she and I finished cleaning up the kitchen. Mama was freezing the whole time in spite of Debby raising the thermostat, so she went to bed early to warm up, and we talked and ate pie and watched a movie and talked with our families and talked some more.

Tom called from Iraq, Brent from Connecticut, Elise from Texas, and Mike, Emily, and Ryan from Washington. We missed them. Hopefully we will have more of us together for Christmas. I appreciate Debby making this happen for us. It was a special time.

Yesterday, as we came home from Mama's beauty shop appointment, we saw our neighbors once again showing me up by getting their trees pruned and their decorations up.

Trent and Drew working on lights and the new nutcrackers. Last year there were angels and reindeer there, and Darby got out once and sat on their lawn and barked at them for hours. I'll take a picture tonight with all the lights on.

My decorating yesterday consisted of gazing at the Christmas boxes in the pantry for awhile and then taking down a box and putting placemats on the table. I did put away all the autumn decorations though. Hopefully, no one will come look at the house while it's in transition - which will probably be a couple of weeks at the pace I'm working.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Land 'O Lakes

I have NO idea.

I was just now passing through the sunroom on my way to do some laundry, and Darby ran to the back door like she wanted to go out. I saw something in her mouth that wasn't shaped liked one of her animals. She gave me the "Don't see me" look and turned her head. On closer inspection, it was a nice new stick of butter.

I 've thought and thought about where she could have gotten it. She did make a trip through the kitchen to clean the cat bowl, and I suppose she got it there. The last time I touched butter was about an hour ago when I was making room for a bowl of peas and moved some things around. I guess I could have dropped it then, but that's a pretty big thing to be laying on the floor unnoticed. But then I'm trying to do 100 things at once to get ready for our trip tomorrow.

Anything but butter, and I would have let her have her treasure, but I don't believe I want to travel tomorrow with a dog who has eaten a half a cup of Land 'O Lakes.

November Morning

Today is a good day to stay inside. I would have a fire if I had anyone else to enjoy it with me and if I had time. Today is Thanksgiving cooking, and I had been gathering the ingredients all week so as not to have to go out today. Then last night I discovered I didn't have rice. RICE. I never don't have rice. So it's back to Publix again.

Even though the maple tree has lost most of it's leaves, this little shoot still puts on a mini show. And what is this? I do believe it's a camellia.

It has never bloomed before in the years I've lived here. It must be that I pruned it at the wrong time and that I neglected it this year. Pretty though. And lots more to come.

Mike is on his way to Seattle today to spend Thanksgiving with Emily and Ryan in Issaquah. Wish I could be there. They'll have a wonderful time. It's Gantt and a lake feast for Mama and me tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Birthday Time Again

Sweet Gabriela from Guatemala is having a birthday. Hope it's a happy one with lots of cake and celebration - and presents.

I was looking for a picture that I haven't used before. This may not be the latest one (I don't think she will argue today with taking off a year or so), but it's one of my favorites.

These two are now actors. Take a look at this.

I've never posted a video before, so I hope this will work. You have to pause and back up to fully appreciate the acting talents of this family. This is Gaby's description: Alejandro is next to me in red jacket and he looks very tired; can u notice this? Dina and Diego are too but they edited that part :( By the way Diego is very upset about this. It tooks 6 hours to recording the announcement, that´s why Alejandro looks so tired.

Six hours. Good grief. I can't imagine. I think it would have been even better with Diego and Dina in it.

I'd like to know what they're advertising. And I would really like some of those blue elf boots.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sheepy Did It

Found this as I passed by Darby's bed. The treats stay in the garage on the shelves near the cats' feeding area. I accidentally left the door to the garage open, and Darby not only cleaned up the cats' dishes but decided to bring some treats in for later. They weren't chewed though. Maybe it was meant to be a hint for me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Out of My Comfort Zone

How would I choose to spend a rainy November Saturday evening? Probably wearing flannel pajamas and socks, sitting in my favorite chair with my feet up reading the okay book I've started. Or working on my needlework and listening to the even better audio book that I'm glad I stuck with. Maybe popcorn. Definitely coffee.

So what was I doing wearing dress-up clothes, make-up, and shoes at a country club for 4 hours? Interestingly, having a good time. It was a "Meet the Family" gathering for my niece Robin and her fiance Joe who are getting married next May. While I didn't mind actually being there, it kind of hung over my head the past few days - grumble, grumble - don't like to get dressed up - don't feel comfortable with lots of people I don't know - grumble, grumble. And I was feeling this way up until the time my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew arrived.

After we managed to get there with our dueling GPS's and then played circle the parking lot a few times, we made it to the right place. There were a good many members of the groom's family, and I still can't tell you most of their names, but I did manage to kind of sort them out. It was good to see my sister-in-law's family again and talk to them.

Lots of conversation. Lots of picture taking. Excellent food.

And the discovery that the bride's great-grandmother was married to one of the groom's relatives (great-great uncle?). I'll have to sort that out later.

I'm not quite sure how it started unfolding. I talked to a nice lady about my age, and we did the usual stranger-to-stranger chit-chat. She said she had relatives near Andalusia where I grew up and had been to Andalusia a few times. More chatting about nothing. After much talk with others later, it turns out that her grandfather had married my grandmother - both second marriages - in the 1940s. This step-grandfather was a big part of our lives as long as I remember, and I knew he had a son and granddaughter from a previous marriage but had never met them. It was so neat to finally meet her after all these years. She and my brother and I had fun sharing what we remembered of this relative-in-common.

I wouldn't want to spend every Saturday night all dressed up and talking to people, but I'm glad I did this particular night. It was interesting and a lot more enjoyable that I had imagined. I probably should get out more. But maybe not.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

When I saw this book by Rebecca Wells on the library shelf yesterday, I didn't hesitate to grab it. She's the author of "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," one of my favorite books (and later movie), and I was excited to see she had written another one, especially with my lack of library luck lately.

I ended up with 2 novels, a book of short stories and 3 audio CDs, and they sat there in their spot tempting me every time I passed by yesterday. I had needlework to do last night, so I started the first CD. I'm still not sure about this one. It's called, "The Timeless Land," by Eleanor Dark - "a classic novel of the settlement of Australia." I know very little about the history of Australia, so I thought this might be interesting. But so far it's just a little boring. I think it's the reader. He has a lovely British (Australian?) accent and rolls his r's beautifully. He even does a few tribal yells and pronounces the names musically, but the reading may be just a tad too dramatic. It makes me tired. I was going to try the 2nd CD while I painted today, but unfortunately my CD player has stopped. I tried several combinations of batteries, and it will turn on but not play. So pooh.

Tonight after work I got my nice cup of Gingerbread coffee and snuggled up to start my book. I think my expectations were too high at first because I kept thinking - really? This is the same author? Nothing special, maybe even a little silly. But by page 80, I was hooked, and I just now found myself with tears running down my cheeks, on the verge of a full-fledged cry. Over a book. Made-up stuff! It's amazing how words can touch you so deeply.

It made me want to talk to my daughters. The one in my time zone is long asleep, and the one in the Pacific time zone refuses to answer her phone even though she must sense my need to cry to her. After all, we choose movies to watch together that will make us cry, and she would certainly understand.

But the feeling is past now, and I'm about to curl up in bed and read some more. I think the rest of the book will not be so sad. The author is a funny lady, but she took me by surprise tonight!

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Week

I'm not doing well lately with keeping up with writing about what happens around here. Mainly because nothing does - worth writing about.

But it was a good week and weekend. I touched base with lots of friends and family members by e-mail and phone.

Mama and I went to church. I've stayed in the nursery so much lately that it was strange to be in the congregation. Once again, I was so thankful that I've gotten to know this nice group of people and get my weekly allotment of hugs and smiles.

Mike sent me this beautiful picture of the sunrise he saw on the way to work. If I ever get moved out there, this may be worth getting up early for. Well, 7 a.m. - that's not too early

I talked briefly to Emily yesterday. She and Ryan were taking an afternoon drive into the mountains, and they were running into snow. I could tell by her voice how beautiful it was. They were going to try to find some snow for their South Dakota dog to run around in and remember his puppyhood.

This is a busy week. I need to mail a package today and go back to the library. The books and CDs and cassettes I got this last time were pretty much all duds. After the good luck in the weeks before, I was pretty let down. I had a lot of painting to do, and I couldn't concentrate because of wondering how such bad/boring writers were allowed to be published. I think out of 5, I listened to one all the way through. Maybe I'll have better luck today.

It's the beginning of the new work week, I have my time sheet all finished for this time period (no panic), and my coffee ready for a nice morning of translation dictation. I appreciate the fact that the ESL doctors have learned another language and pretty much enjoy typing them, but I wish they would slow down. The word I heard last night that made me pause and listen again was "a-NAL-gisix" - just a prettier way to say analgesics.

There is probably one doctor on every account I have who can dictate a report in 30 seconds, and you cannot pick out one word he says - doesn't even try. My gripe with this is that he is not asked to slow down and dictate something we can understand, but our quality people have to receive his blank-filled reports from us (after we, who work for pennies a line, have strained our ears for valuable minutes) and then spend their valuable time trying to figure out something to send back to him. And the QA folks fuss at us for not trying harder - but not too much. Those doctors are usually the ones who complain the loudest when there is a mistake on their reports.

Let me hear what everyone is doing today. I know Teresa is flying from Denver to Ellijay, GA, for a girls' week in a mountain home. Hard to top that. Unless I make it to the library with my books this time - that will be an accomplishment.

Sherry is too modest to say what she's been up to, but she has once again turned out some beautiful things here. It makes me too jealous to hear how she might be spending her morning: Either working in a quilt shop (how tedious!) or up in the quilting room with any number of kitties watching or sleeping, doing what she enjoys.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coffee Decadence

Cinnamon Roll coffee? Gingerbread coffee? Autumn Harvest. Can it get any better than this?
I met Debby at Mimi's at East Chase for lunch today, and she had a surprise for me - several, in fact. She and Mike are making sure I'll not lack for good coffee experiences. I think it's a conspiracy. There were some samples of these seasonal coffees with a beautifully-wrapped piece of candy that I hated to unwrap - for about 2 minutes.

Then for my birthday - I may can stretch it out to Christmas at this rate - she gave me a holder for all those little K-cups that are so hard to store. She must know that when reach in my cabinet, I sometimes have a cascade of little plastic cups tumbling out when I'm searching for what I want.
Mama got a candy too.
She's such a good cousin. Thanks, Debby. And also for making me laugh a lot at lunch. We kind of planned our Thanksgiving dinner that we're going to put together. I can't wait. There aren't too many of us. We're both husband-less at the moment, and my children are scattered all over the country, but we have her boys, Hunter and Clark, and Mama, and hopefully another cousin Bobby will join us and take us exploring around the lake where his parents had a cabin in the 50s and 60s. We'll have way too much good food and stay up late talking. We'll see if we can prod Mama's memory for some family secrets. Maybe the promise of that would lure Sherry and David to come for dinner. Mike will be in Issaquah for Emily and Ryan's Thanksgiving feast. Wish I could be both places.

When I got home, there was a For Sale sign in my front yard. I knew it would be there, but it still surprised me. Tomorrow is the day I spend the whole day wrapping up loose ends (hiding things) and getting ready just on the off chance that someone will come look in my corners and cabinets and behind the shower curtain and in the closets. Ugh.

Sink Kitty

I'm always wishing my cats would do something interesting or funny, but they just stare at me when I mention it.

Elise, however, caught Miss Kitty taking a sink nap and daring anyone to think it was not her new place.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ida Morning

I love hurricanes - as long as I'm not in the middle of them. I went to bed last night with a nice pounding rain and got up to the same. Not much wind at all. I called my father-in-law who is between us and the Gulf, and he says the same - rain and no wind - yet. I told him when I went to get the paper, I thought to myself that this was not very exciting, but as soon as I got into the garage, a gust of wind shook the garage doors as if to warn me not to get too smug.

I guess this rain and wind will get rid of the few colorful leaves we have in the yard.

Debby called me from the lake house last night wishing I were there to enjoy the weather with her. I could think of nothing better than drinking coffee and listening to the rain and talking, but unfortunately I was an hour-and-a-half away and working. Maybe next time....

It's another of those mornings I'm glad I work at home. I got an invitation to a dinner yesterday that said "Business Attire." For me, that's paint-spattered, Clorox-stained sweats and a wrinkled T-shirt. Sometimes socks, sometimes not.

Darby's content with Sheepy right outside my door in the sunroom.
The cats are sleeping somewhere. I thought I would try to expand their culinary experiences - the cats' - with different types of Fancy Feast. Their hard food always stays the same, but I give them a spoonful or 2 of Fancy Feast soft food during the day. Always seafood flavors, always the same stinky stuff. So this morning they got Beef Tips in Gravy or something like that, and this was the way it was accepted. She making insulted burying motions with her paw.

It DOES look disgusting. Time to bring Darby in for clean-up duty. She'll eat anything, especially if she thinks she taking it away from the cats.

This is a 10-pound bag of pecans ready for Mama to tackle.

This is what they look like now, ready for the freezer.

The second bag was a disappointment for her, smaller and not so easy to pick out. She took it personally. I told her we could take them back, but she went on and fussed her way through them. They're done too and in the freezer.

This is the side door after the carpenters and I finished with it. What is it with me and crooked wreaths? I'll let it drive my neighbors crazy. Also let them worry about fact that they put the doorbell at knee level for some reason. (I'm going to fix that weather stripping at the bottom if any perfectionists are looking too hard.)

Crazy fall-blooming azaleas. They're beautiful but just a little bit out of place with all the yellow and gold. Like wearing white shoes in winter. Having a persistent leftover morning glory doesn't help either.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Texas Happenings.

As promised, Halloween pictures of Doris and Jaime's Koko and Bella. No words needed.

Then I got this startling email from Mike and these pictures. No more words needed from me except I'm glad I didn't know beforehand.

----Larry is a good friend at work. He is an electronics engineer.
After having gotten his pilot's license some years ago, he built his own plane.
We have been trying to work out a time for him to take me up, and finally got together last weekend. I drove over to Lubbock (where he lives, and where the plane is hangared), and we took off from Lubbock International. Lubbock International is not a really is int'l.

I flew it about 70 miles-from Littlefield to Plainview, Texas. It is an amazing piece of machinery. Holds two people with plenty of room for luggage. Around 500 mile range, and cruises at around 160 mph.

Nice day, nice guy

Larry looks like he could use a cup of coffee. Or maybe it's terror. Mike supposedly was operating the plane while he was taking pictures.

I need to ask questions. Is all that blue water? ( Just found out: Evaporative water treatment ponds at ACG!) I love the geometric designs of the fields. It's just too perfect!

It seems to be Littlefield to the left and ACG to the right.

West Texas in the late afternoon sun.