Old Dog

I’m an old dog who needs to learn some new tricks.  We finally broke down and bought a MacBook Air which is  fascinating product, but fairly different than the PCs I’m used to.  I’m playing with it for a few days before we take our previous computer to the Apple Store to have the contents downloaded onto the new computer.

Yes, Apple seems to have made it more people friendly, but there is always a learning curve with a new mouse, a new keyboard, a new computer set up.  I’m finding things I need to ask in my first training session, programs I’m accustomed to like the Adobe Flash Player, and how to play disks.  We opted for the one on one sessions to help me learn how to get around the computer a little faster.

The one drawback I didn’t think about before I bought the Mac was that our office computer is  PC, so the two computers will not be able to talk to each other.  My stepson pointed that out, but then he told me I could e-mail things to myself from one computer to the other, and save them.  And, I bought the Microsoft Office for Mac, so that I can continue to use software which I know.

Onward and upward!

Odd Traditions

When I was young, we had some rather odd dinner traditions for the night before Christmas.  I have four siblings.  My youngest sister arrived when my oldest sister was nineteen, but the traditions must have been constant, because I’ve heard both of them reminisce about them.

My mother made oyster stew for Christmas Eve.  I think she made it to please my father.  Personally I wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole.  Some of the family left the oysters behind, but sipped the broth, but Dad liked it all.  I don’t think I was the only kid who didn’t care for the stew, so in addition, someone made grilled cheese sandwiches, which was just fine with me.  I was too excited about opening presents to really care what was on the table.

There was one other meal that my family ate that I considered odd.  It wasn’t tied to Christmas, but was an occasional Saturday night special.  Dad would cook a lot of bacon.  He would save the fat to cook sliced onions, and then he would scramble eggs in the same pan.  I don’t think he drained the fat.  As I recall, it was a greasy mess!  It was served on toast as a sandwich, and some of us added ketchup to it.  Frankly, it’s one meal I have never recreated, and don’t miss, but my sisters speak of it lovingly.  Sorry, Dad.  I’d rather have one of your grilled steaks.

Someone in the family came up with a variation on a peanut butter sandwich that I still like!
You slather white bread with crunchy peanut butter, then add a spoonful of what we called “piccalilli.”  Probably most of you know that as sweet relish.  It’s grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich.  I love it!  I haven’t had one so far this winter.  I believe I’ll be treating myself this coming week. Of all the food that I’ve described, this sandwich is the only one my husband will not eat.  He just doesn’t know what he’s missing! *G*

I’m confident that I’m not the only one who has been a part of odd family dining traditions.  Care to share yours with me?

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

This is one of my favorite times of year.  I like the end of the day, usually when I have a good part of the house to myself.  It’s taken me a long time to get into the Christmas spirit this year.  About ten days ago I needed to begin baking for things that had to go into the mail.  I felt a little of the spirit then, but it didn’t really sneak up on me until this weekend.

Cop Car has teased me about what I consider to be a simplified Christmas.  Yes, I’ve put up swags and wreaths, but it’s about a quarter of what I once did to ring in the holiday season.  I chose to decorate with two large poinsettias, and two arrangements with small poinsettias, ivy, cyclamen (and one other white flowered plant I don’t recognize).  I like the uncluttered look, and the plants bring color into the house.  The planted arrangements will last much longer than cut flowers, and I got it all at Costco, so you know I’m feeling thrifty!

My side of the family gathered on Saturday evening for a meal, and to do a Christmas gift exchange.  We had a fabulous meal, to which everyone contributed.  None of us needed to cook, though.  My niece provided enough for several days of meals.  It was lovely to see some of my great nieces and nephews who were tiny when I saw them last, and almost grown now.  My youngest sis and her family were the only branch of the family not represented, and I miss seeing them.  When the girls were small they all came to celebrate with us, and Mother.

Early today, I tidied the living room, and hung the stockings.  A little more Christmas spirit snuck up on me.  I cleared the clutter in the public areas of the house, and contemplated what I needed for dinner. I put the tree skirt around the little Sitka spruce that decorates my house all year long,and watered plants.  I put a few more decorations out.  The only thing I didn’t get to was hanging ornaments from  the chandelier.  I might still do that, just to enjoy it for the next two weeks.

I decided that I wanted to make a nice dinner for Dear Husband and the son who lives with us.  I settled on Sullivan Island Shrimp Bog (a pilaf with shrimp and bacon), green bean casserole (his request….I would have done steamed broccoli), a simple salad with romaine, strawberries and walnuts.  And, I found an Ice Cream Cake Roll.  My Dad loved that dessert, and so does Dear Husband.

I caught up with my Facebook friends after dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, and then sat down to wrap our grand daughter’s gifts.  It’s amazing how fast you can wrap gifts when your husband has the remote and he’s sleeping through a science program about the universe!  I was done in record time! *G*

So, in a few minutes, the house will be quiet, and I’ll have a private moment to commune with the Christmas tree.

I wish for you the blessings of the season.  I hope that you will all have the chance to celebrate with family or friends. For those of you traveling, I pray for your safety while on the road.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Three Books At One Time

I am the original “pick it up, and read it right through, one book at a time” girl.  I’ll start a book and be unable to put it down, staying up way too late into the night just to see how it ends.  I know I’ll be a wreck the next day, but I cannot reason with myself and PUT THE BOOK DOWN!

I’ve been reading “Fall of Giants” by Ken Follett.  It’s full of the details leading to WW I, and despite the fact that it is based on fictional characters, it’s still slow going, trying to understand all of the interactions between countries.  It’s a period where major change is going to take place politically and socially, and Follett has an amazing amount of information to share.

When I was about a quarter of the way into “Fall of Giants,” a shipment of books arrived from Amazon.  I wasn’t going to order any more books.  I was going to use the public library more.  I didn’t want to have to box up more books!  I couldn’t resist.  I picked up Donna Leon’s new book, “Jewels of Paradise.” and waded in!

I was at least halfway through that book when I needed to take Dear Husband to physical therapy, and I couldn’t lay my hands on the book.  One of the “Inn Boonsboro” trilogy from Nora Roberts was, though, so I had THREE books going at one time.

Okay, I’ve finished two of the “Inn Boonsboro” books, and I’m well into the third.  By the end of the weekend, I should be down to two books.  If it wasn’t for gift wrapping, I might even finish the Donna Leon book, too! *G*  GIft wrapping is important, and it can be fun.  It’s part of our celebration of the season, and I really don’t mind.  The books will hold.

I think the next book I need to read, and use, is Ina Garten’s “Foolproof Recipes.”  That woman knows how to cook, and how to entertain!  I need to take lessons!

 

 

World War I

It seems to me that World War I is surprisingly present in my thoughts these days,so much so that I’d be interested to read more on the history of the time.  It started when I began watching the second season of “Downton Abbey.” The story opens with both servants and the upper class going off to war.  The Abbey is turned into a convalescent home, and the kitchen participates in a soup kitchen for soldiers who have returned and cannot support themselves.

World War I appeared the second time this month in the book “Fall of Giants,” by Ken Follett.  I’ve enjoyed his historical novels set in earlier centuries, so I thought I might like this story, which opens just prior to the start of the war.  It’s fascinating to read that the war could have easily been averted, but previous treaties funneled Europe and Russia into a conflagration that covered more than Europe.  I’m barely a third of the way into the book, and the war is about to start.  I’m confident that I will learn a lot about the war, and Follett may give me enough information to know what else I might want to read.

The last of the appearances of WW I came when my husband who is recuperating from knee surgery and trying to find something on TV that he can bear to watch, turned on “War Horse.”   It’s an amazing story, parts of which are very difficult to watch.  In one scene, the horse is tangled in concertina wire in the no-man’s land between the English and the Germans.

I wonder why there is so much focus on this period of history right now?

I hope, as I work my way into “retirement” that I will be able to make the time to read more history.  I’m particularly interested in the period from 1750 to WW II.  These fictional histories have whet my appetite for the information I missed when I studied history at school, low those many years ago.

Caroling

I have not been caroling at Christmas for decades.  I love to sing carols, and have not been where I could join a group that planned to go caroling. I was moaning about this situation last year to a friend at exercise, and she remembered what I had said.

Jackie wondered why we couldn’t invite members of our  exercise class to join us.  Of the roughly 45 members of class, ten of us will go caroling Wednesday, right after class.  We’re going to visit class members who have had a difficult year, and are unable to be at class.  We’ve lucked out, and should be able to complete our rounds before the first snow of the season moves in.

One of the women suggested that we might take boxes of homemade cookies to share.  Even class members who will not be singing will be donating cookies, so we should have a lovely collection of cookies to share.

Do you have a favorite carol?  I love so many of them it’s difficult to choose one, but “Angels We Have Heard on High,” or “What Child Is This?”  are at the top of the list.  Invite me to join you caroling, and I’ll be happy to sing whatever you like, as long as it’s not “Gramma Got Run Over By a Reindeer!”

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Getting Ready for Christmas

Or not….as the case may be.  As you know, we are planning to put our house on the market.  We were supposed to have it ready this past year, but a number of things interrupted our plans, including a new knee for Dear Husband.

When I thought the house would be on the market last summer, I boxed up all the winter clothes, the fall decorations and the Christmas decorations.  Boxes and boxes of things are stacked in the basement.  All that storage makes it a little more difficult to get to what I need.

I’d like to decorate the house so that every room looks gracious and festive, but it seems more prudent to follow the “less is more” philosophy this year.  I put up swags at the carriage lights, and a wreath at the front door.  I have wreaths up on both sides of the fireplace. I put a wreath covered with silk berries at the back door, and my Mother’s cute country “Welcome” wreath on the door to the studio.

I finally decided to use our  six-foot fake Sitka spruce tree as our Christmas tree this year.  My-Sister-The-Nurse and My-Niece-The-Artist put new lights on the tree for me and redecorated it last July, so it looks really lovely. I just need to put out the tree skirt.

I plan to bring things up for the mantle.  I have a man-made garland that is made of little red seeds that will compliment the wreath.  I’ll anchor it with candles in hurricanes, to be lit Christmas Eve.  And, I think I may decorate the chandelier in the dining room.

With a few poinsettias, and flower arrangements, we should be good to go.  I like the idea of a simpler look, that allows us to enjoy the holiday.  I’ll make a few cookies this week, and wrap gifts on Sunday, and we (I hope) will be good to go!  Merry Christmas, everyone!

I forgot…

…to tell you.  Last Wednesday, December 12th, I was driving home and saw a HERON fly across my path.  I darned near had an accident watching that bird soar past!

Usually our herons and egrets have left for their winter homes by late October, or possibly into the beginning of November.  I have never seen one here so late.

It can be said that we have had an incredibly warm stretch of weather.  Perhaps this guy was the one elected to round up the stragglers and encourage them to make the trip home.

Role Reversal

I’m aware this morning of all those years when I was the one who got to stay curled up in the covers as Dear Husband went off to work!

DH  and his partner owned a masonry business for more than a quarter of a century.  When he was younger he could sleep ’til the last moment and then make a run for it, but as we got older, and our bodies needed concessions, it got to the point where my husband was getting up at 4:30 in the morning to be able to be the first person on the job site.

As he left the dressing room for the day, he would walk to the bed, and either levitate me, or give me a morning kiss for the day.  He never fails to give me that quick smooch before parting for the day.  It had to be tough on him, expecially on winter mornings, when it was still dark out, and he knew he would be heading into terribly cold temperatures, to leave me curled up in the bed, but I think I can count the number of days he overslept on one hand.

So, now it’s my turn.  I have to get up between 6:15 and 6:30 to make it to exercise on time.  On the days that I lead exercise, I often get up much earlier so that I’m sure the classroom is ready and my notes are in place.  I thought about all those years Dear Husband was the one to rise early, and find I can’t begrudge him the chance to sleep in.

He was so cute this morning. *G*

Holiday Extravaganza!

Dear Husband goes to the salon once a month to have a haircut and beard trim.  The young woman who takes care of him is like a family member to us.  She told DH that she was performing in a concert on Saturday, and he asked for information.  Cindy has been a part of the Sweet Adelines for ages.  She sings in the Melodeers Chorus, and they gave a performance in Lincolnshire at Stevenson High School.

We left home about an hour and a half before the performance.  We wanted to be sure to find the school in plenty of time, and not walk in late.  It took us about an hour to get there via tollways.  We walked in, and bought tickets, and were lucky to get two of the last few seats left.

The auditorium was slow to fill, and the concert was delayed by about ten minutes.  When they got started, we were absorbed in the performance and well entertained. Cindy was in the front row, smack in the center!  Five quartets sang, dispersed among songs sung by the chorus, which boasts 150 members.  The first half of the show featured popular Christmas tunes.  The second half was mostly traditional carols.  I was fascinated by the harmonies, chord progressions and arrangements, choreography and superb voices.

It was a wonderful way to get into the Christmas season, and to support Cindy.  I’m delighted to have had the chance to hear her sing.