Friday, January 30, 2015

a funny story...

Funny story... about getting older.  I recently called the Emeritus Program at our local community college to check on a genealogy class that was being offered. The class I was interested in was already full, so I asked the lady if it would be given again in the summer session. She said yes, she was sure it would be offered again... then she gave a little laugh, and said, "... but the Instructor is 80 years old."  I laughed and said, "That's alright I'm pushing 70 myself. So, if he (and I) are around next semester, I'll just take it then."

I guess that's the kind of little comments that I both fear and laugh at... that once you reach a certain age (and for me it's 70), people are expecting you to die any day. Maybe the word is not *expecting*, but they are considering the possibility. And I don't really fear it, but there's a little voice inside that keeps saying, "...oh sh...t!"

There's a comic in the newspaper (which by the way, we just cancelled - it was getting way too expensive) called, "Pickles". I don't know if it's syndicated (or for sure what syndicated means), but it's pretty accurate in its portrayal of an aging couple. Do any of you read Pickles?

So, I guess we have to accept that we're getting *to that age* with grace... but maybe not always with *dignity*.

We can still have fun...

books, coffee, and chocolate....
The following is another pic of  3 of our inside cats enjoying the sun coming through the bedroom window:

And some recent visitors to our yard:

young possum
fat squirrel

young black feral cat

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

my 'almost' fall...

Well, I guess I've fallen victim to the old folk's curse - falling.  It happened Tuesday morning when I was picking up clay at the clay supply house. Had just given the man in the back my receipt (you order up front and then go around back and hand over your receipt and they put the 2 boxes of clay -100 pounds- into your car trunk) when another workman walked in. He distracted me by saying "warm vanilla sugar?" I turned around and said, "Pardon?" or possibly "What?" (can't really remember exactly).  And he repeated it, "warm vanilla sugar, right?" 

Then my mind clicked in and I realized that he was referring to a fragrance I wear. It's not a perfume as I'm allergic and get migraines from some perfumes. This is basically a body splash that I get from The Bath and Body Shop.  Anyway, once I realized what he was talking about, I said, "oh... yes, you're right."  And then he said something about it being his favorite. At the same time, he handed me back the receipt and the other man was putting putting the clay in the car and as I turned around, I tripped and almost fell (caught myself before I hit the floor by grabbing a wall) over a box of clay left in the middle of the aisle. Scared the both of them to death as they ran over and acted really worried.  I told them that I was fine, just tripped over that box. They immediately picked it up as I left.

Halfway home I realized that my right foot was hurting.  I think I jammed my big toe into that box of clay and twisted my foot. It was still sore last night so I taped it up. Clumsy, yes?  But at least I didn't hit the floor...  (I've almost fallen a few times in the house - tripping over cats - perhaps I need to get back to my Yoga to improve my balance?)

But it did amaze me that someone recognized the fragrance since it is not a famous perfume. I had a dear friend who passed away a few years ago that always wore "Happy" by Clinique (sp?).  I loved it. It smelled so fresh and clean. But when I tried it, it just wasn't the same on me.  Years ago when I was in college, I wore an Este' Lauder cologne called "Youth Dew" and DH loved that. But as I aged, I found that some perfumes did seem to bring on migraines, so I stopped wearing them and went to baby powder and my vanilla splash.  

Update:  Have cut out the pieces for my new *under Keurig quilt square*.  Now just have to sew them together, add the batting, find a backing, and a binding (going to use that blue for binding) and sew it all together. 

And next I've decided to do a *doggie quilt* for a friend who's old dog isn't doing very well. He just went through chemo for cancer and now is being treated for diabetes. He's already gone blind, but the insulin seems to be helping as she says that he has perked up a lot. She knows that he may not be with her for too long, but I thought a doggie quilt for him to lie on would be a nice idea. He isn't a big dog, so I think maybe 24x24 would work. Meeting a friend for coffee today and we will check out the fabric store afterwards for suitable doggie patterns. 

And ceramics/pottery class started again last Saturday. It was good to have my hands back on the clay. Made several cups, bowls, vases, etc. on the wheel just to see if I still could.  Did OK... better as the morning progressed.  We do have one project for the whole class that is going to be done in groups... making hand-built kilns. Should be interesting - will keep you updated.

And one sad fact that was just told to me: my daughter lost 2 of her chickens recently. She suspects hawks, but can't be sure. And they were her favorites... 2 Frizzles.

one of her Frizzles

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

red beans, cats, bay leaves, and an Anniversary...

Yesterday was another wonderfully sunny day! DH and I took a walk in the afternoon to take advantage of this and get some well needed Vitamin D.  Previous to this walk we were both busy with our own agendas...his being cooking a wonderful batch of Creole Red Beans... and mine being less creative, but still necessary... cleaning out the medicine cabinet and throwing out all the expired medications, etc. that had gathered there. It wasn't too grueling a task for me as I'd done it about a year ago, so not too much had accumulated. Still it needed to be done. 

DH's Red Beans

And then I started on another badly needed project... *printing out all my favorite recipes and putting them into a 3-ring binder*.  I've boxes and boxes of recipes (some typed, some hand-written, some newspaper or magazine clippings - some of my mom's, etc.)  and when I need one, I have to search through all this. Luckily some are already on the computer as recently I made myself put them there before any cooking was done. Anyhow, I bought a binder, some plastic sleeves, and started filling it up today. Didn't finish of course, but at least I got started.

Also took more pics of the cats sharing their sun spots.  Ghost was very possessive of hers. She was on the bed sunning herself when the others decided to join her (me included). And she didn't take kindly to sharing... hissed and growled when we joined her. 

Also... DH went outside and cut some bay leaves from our bay tree yesterday. We use bay leaf a lot in our cooking and the tree comes in handy. Some of it I'll share with a friend of mine. She loves fresh bay leaves.

bay leaves
And last of all, we had breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel with some old friends who were our  next-door neighbors  for 30 years and who have since moved to a retirement village about 30 mins away. It was great seeing them and reminiscing... and the funny thing is that today is both their and our Anniversary (we knew that we shared an Anniversary, but it didn't cross our minds when we made these plans to meet yesterday). It's our 47th! 

Going to close this now with a sign I saw on Pinterest recently.

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

the sun is out!

last pottery pieces made Fall  2014

My Spring pottery classes starts next week and I can't wait!  I'm hoping to use this semester to enhance my ability for making large mixing bowls... both hand crafted as well as wheel-thrown.  

And the quilting bug has hit also.  The first small machine-made quilt I ever made was a small 14x14 square - which I use underneath my Keurig coffee maker.  It fits perfectly over the flat k-cup container that sits beneath the coffee pot.

first small machine-made quilt

Well, when I was washing this quilt today and doing the recommended cleaning of the Keurig, I thought how convenient it would be if I had another small quilt to put under there instead of having to wait on this one to wash and dry. This small size is quick and easy, so it may be my next quilting project. And this time I will use colors that go better in my kitchen... more blues and greens.

Then it was mentioned in a cozy mystery book I was reading that involves cats that the heroine makes cat quilts - small 18x18 or 20x20 quilts - for her cats to use, some to sell, and some to donate to cat shelters. What a good idea! Something else to think about.

My mind is firing on all cylinders today. Must have something to do with the fact that the sun is out and its a beautiful day. This morning DH and I went to La Madeleine's for breakfast. He had Parisian-style Eggs Benedict and I had an Almond Croissant. The rest of the morning I spent making Chicken Enchiladas and Baked Apples for supper tonight. DH will make Creole Red Beans and Rice tomorrow... and we should be pretty much set for the rest of the week!

And I will end this post with a mention of some sayings that I came across last week that I liked.

I really like both of these as the first involves sharing... and the second encourages me to continue to do the things I love regardless of my level of skill. Joy is found in the process or the journey.

And of course I have to add a cat photo:

Ghost looking into the iPhone camera (looks cross-eyed?)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

the mystery of memory...

I just finished reading a post from another blogger, Michael Harling's 'Postcards from Across the Pond' that certainly brought back memories of my dad and his pipe. Dad was born in London in 1907 and immigrated to the US with his family for the first time when he was 11. They actually *crossed the pond* 3 times before deciding to stay here in the US in 1920.

I never knew my paternal grandparents as they both died when I was still a baby in the 1940's. So there's no way for me to know if my grandfather smoked cigars or pipes, but my dad did. And I love the smell of both (although I have to say that the smell of a pipe tops the smell of a cigar). But both are nostalgic for me and to this day (and I'm pushing the big 7-0) make me feel happy, safe, and loved.

Which brings me to the gist of this post, the mystery of memory. Apparently odors are big memory jarr-ers (is that even a word?) Anyway, you know what I mean. There must be an area of our brain that retains the memory of odors and connects them somehow to something (a time, a place, a person). I imagine this is being studied by someone in Neuroscience... at least I would hope so.

If you've never read Michael's posts, please check them out as they are humorous and extremely well written (not anything like my home-grown postings of  ..a day in the life - aka 'Older but better').  In this particular one called "Getting in Touch with My Inner Geezer", Michael mentions that he is a cigar smoker that has recently taken up the pipe for (if I read it correctly) *aesthetic* reasons - meaning he likes the way it looks.

I have to agree with him. IMO a pipe looks dignified....  a cigar not so much... whereas a cigarette makes one look *hard* (hope this doesn't offend anyone, but IMO it just does). And I love the pictures of the particular pipe smokers he included in his article. Here are 2 of the 4 taken from his website.

BTW, Michael has also written several books which are on my reading list for 2015. If his books are anything like his posts, I know  I will enjoy them. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Putting the holidays behind us...

New Discovery!
DH and I came across this tea at Teavana while walking in the mall during the holidays. Teavanna has samples of their tea out and we generally stop and try some during our walk. Well, this White Chocolate Peppermint Tea was a favorite for both of us.

So this past week we stopped and asked how it sold, etc. As much as I like tea, I'm hesitant to buy loose tea as you need to have the water temp right, the right amt of tea per cup, etc. or it never tastes like the tea in the sampling. Anyway, we were told that this particular tea was not that sensitive. You could just use boiling water and 2 tsp/8oz serving and it would be fine.  And since it was a *seasonal* tea, it was now 50% off.  So we bought a small amt to try at home. Well, it's really delicious and easy to fix. Also... reading up on Rooibos tea on the Internet.... apparently it's very good for you.  So it turned out to be a win-win!

Julie helping me 'put away Christmas'

And later that evening...

worn out from all her 'help'...

Just want to mention one little thing that has been going on here that is a little unusual... our North Texas Earthquakes.  Apparently they are small, but numerous... and centered mostly in Irving. However, Dallas has been feeling them also. And the largest one so far (just 3.6) we felt in our neighborhood here in Richardson. Oddly enough (or maybe not) one of the cats felt it first and startled.... DH even asked her what was wrong just before we felt it.  Right after that the whole neighborhood started texting.  Weird?  

Considering all the goings on that are happening in the world right now its a small thing. But when it happens in your own backyard, you do sit up and notice.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's day... Jan. 1, 2015

Tux waiting for me to come back while I take pic...

Yes, this is where I spent New Year's Eve... sitting by the fire either reading or knitting. Boring? Maybe... but very comfy.  The cats and DH joined me for a bit.  I always make my mother-in-law's fabulous home-made eggnog on New Year's Eve. DH and I toasted with it... early.... as we didn't stay up until midnight. 

The weather (all I can say is...) "nasty" (cold, wet, and damp). But I am happy that so far we haven't had any *icy conditions*.  But it's perfect for staying home and enjoying the warmth of the fire and good food.  We're having our annual pork roast, steamed fresh cabbage with bacon, garlic, and onions, and fresh from the garden (not mine) black-eyed peas! All are cooking on the Aga now... and the house smells wonderful.

New blue pot on Aga... Christmas gift
(notice cat reflections in Aga?)

That blue casserole dish on top right was a Christmas gift. Thought I'd christen it by using it to make my steamed cabbage today.

Some of you may remember that we bought a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer in October as an early Christmas present. I'd wanted one for a long time and when they went on sale as well as had a *gift with purchase* (a large glass mixing bowl) we ordered it. And I do love it! However,  even though I filled out all the necessary paperwork to get the glass bowl, it never arrived.

Well, by the end of December we had pretty much given up on ever getting it. Then this past Monday we got an email from Kitchenaid thanking us for our purchase and asking us if we would like to buy a replacement warranty for 1,2, or 5 years. I decided to email them back saying that since we never received the glass bowl promised, we weren't too sure about Kitchenaid's customer service...

Guess what was sitting on our front porch Wednesday this week? Yes, the Kitchenaid glass bowl! Now I don't know if it would have arrived like that with or without the emails Monday, but either way, I'm thrilled! How's that for Customer Service?

Oh, have to tell you a funny story before I close here. As you know from my blog pictures our cats like to hang around the kitchen... usually the Aga or the refrig. Julie's favorite place is the kitchen counter. 

Anyway, Molly (who is one of our two 21 year old cats) can't hear very well, and moves slowly... but otherwise does well for her age. She tends to hang around the refrig wanting cream. Well, our refrig has a problem. The door doesn't stay closed well. So to keep it closed, we have a heavy glass water bottle shoved against it. Whenever we close the refrig we have to push that heavy water bottle back against it.

Well muscle memory being what it is, my foot automatically reaches out and pushes that water bottle against the refrig several times a day (without looking). The other day when I did this, I was aware that the object my foot had pushed was neither heavy nor hard. I had pushed Molly against the refrig. She didn't seem to  mind... and  I gave her some cream... after I stopped laughing. ; )