Sweet Tennessee!

Sweet Tennessee!

December 31, 2011

My Not-So-Secret-Anymore.. Love of Staircases!

So here's the thing all.  Since i was a child of about three or so.. i've had a fascination with, and love of.. staircases of all kinds.  Spiral staircases.. steep staircases.. 'hidden' staircases.. and just the plain ol' straight up staircases!  Where do they lead?  What is UP there?  Secret rooms?  Neat surprises?  Books, possibly?  And is there an attic above whatever is up there?  Interesting view from 'up tall' like that?  (That's the three or four year old M wondering... )  I always wanted to go UP.  My mother, knowing i had this curiosity, always told me before we visited acquaintances or friends, to mind my manners.  That it's impolite to ask..  even nicely.. if i can see upstairs.  :)  So i used to stand at the foot sometimes and look longingly up when i thought no one was watching.  Now that i'm a grown-up; i live in a three bedroom ranch house.  I like it and all. But alas.. no stairs!  I MISS a house with a staircase.  My parents' old Victorian in New England has a pretty staircase in its hall.  My grandparents' 150 year old farmhouse has TWO staircases.  A front one and a back one!  How much fun was THAT when i was a kid?  Lots, i tell you!  No surprise then, that my favorite Nancy Drew mystery is 'The Hidden Staircase'.  Or that my second favorite is 'The Mystery of the 99 Steps!  Or that i adore the novel 'The 39 Steps' by John Buchan.  Some of my favorite books feature 'stairs' prominently, or the word is part of their title!  There's just something special and mysterious about a beautiful set of stairs.  I'll never forget the time i saw the Grand Staircase at the Breakers Mansion in Newport, RI.  It's breathtaking!

There are 'so' many sets of stairs i want to see in the Universe, and when i become the world traveler i want to be someday; i will see them all!  And i figure; when i'm traveling the world, i can pretty much eat whatever i want.  Well, within reason.  Because climbing all those steps will be GOOD for me.  I won't flab out on these journeys around the globe.  One of the first i want to see.. i also want to share with you.  It's the beautiful spiral staircase at the Musee Gustave Moreau in Paris!  It's magnificent!  There are a couple of beautiful photos of it on this link.


Gorgeous.. isn't it?  I want to climb that one of these days!  Sooner rather than later.  Another one i'd like to see.. and climb, of course.. sometime in the future.. is the gorgeous staircase at the Lello Bookstore in Porto, Portugal!  That is one breathtaking.. possibly in more ways than one.. set of steps!  Want to share that one with you also.  Maybe some of you have seen it and climbed it already?  I mean, it's in a BOOKSTORE!  What more could i want?!


How amazing is THAT?!  I know, right?  :)  And the one more link i want to share is probably one of my favorite set of steps of all time.  Though they're not long.  Or spiral.  Or steep.  Or hidden.  And i'll never be able to climb these steps...  They are.. drumroll please..!  The Stairs That Go Nowhere, from the film.. 'The Seven Year Itch'!  Yes.  I love those.  And they feature prominently in the movie too.  In fact, here's a staircase scene featuring none other than Marilyn Monroe..  :)


Love love love that scene.. and the entire movie.  Well, i won't keep you any longer on this wonderful New Year's Eve, 2011...  soon to be beautiful 2012!  Have a Happy New Year, and please keep yourselves safe this Saturday, December Thirty First, Two Thousand Eleven.  M for Magnificent Stairs to Climb and Marvelous Things to Discover 'Up Tall'!

December 28, 2011

It's Wintertime!

It's officially Winter all!  It has felt like Winter, at least in these Northwest parts, for about six weeks.  Now of course, with the celebration of the Solstice having passed and all, the season is officially upon us.  I've made a decision to embrace it!  To welcome it with open arms and a big happy grin on my face.  Today.. we have heavy rain and temperatures hovering between forty eight to fifty two degrees.  'Normal' Oregon Winter weather.  And believe it or not.. i'm loving the rain.  Just took a four mile walk in it.  Think it's time i check my feet for webbing.  :) ....  Nope.  I still have regular feet!  I love to walk in the rain.  I won't melt after all.  And i have a bright, beautiful, lemon yellow umbrella to brighten the gray skies!  The rain makes me want to walk faster to dodge raindrops.  It's more comfy to walk in the rain than it is in the cold.  I just need to wear the proper rain gear, and voila!  All set.  No sidewalks covered with ice.  And this moisture is excellent for my complexion let me tell you!  It's good for the trees.  For the grass.  The moss.  :D  That last item, we could clearly live without.  But all in all.. and here.. i like to quote from a song i like.. 'raindrops keep fallin' on my head!  But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red!  Cryin's not for me!  'Cause i'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'!.....  And so on and so forth..   In the spirit of the colder, darker season, which, as i stated above, i'm embracing with a happy heart, i want to share two beautiful songs.. one classical and one a blues piece.. that go along with my wintry spirit.  Ready to listen to some beautiful music?  Sit back and listen with a nice warm mug of something yummy.  I will.  As i listen to the rain on our roof, and watch the darkening sky..  This is beautiful music indeed...


Vivaldi's 'Winter' is my favorite of his 'Four Seasons', and one of my favorite selections of music in the Universe.  Easy to embrace Winter.. the actual season.. when there's gorgeous music like that to be heard..
Now.. for number two..


Ah Stormy Weather.. in one's heart, AND in the great outdoors!  Wonderful.  Well.. peace all.  Hope you've had some time to relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones this last week or so.  Sending this out with love on this Wednesday, the Twenty Eighth of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  M for Musical Winter Heart!

December 26, 2011

Wassail Season!

Christmas Day passes too quickly.  Every year.  We had a beautiful day as every year!  Still and all.. the weeks leading up up to Christmas are so full of excitement, song and planning.  When the day is over; it seems like a happy blur.  I mean.. it CAN"T be over this soon?  Can it?  Why yes.  Yes it certainly can.  And the wonderful New Year will be here soon.  Very soon.  My heart is happy and full of songs left to be sung!  The days are getting longer.  :)  S and i are making plans for Spring and Summer vacations.  I've slacked off of late on my walking regimen.  Have walked some the last couple weeks, but before the Christmas season was in full swing, i had worked up to 4-5 miles a day.  Then we had a cold snap.  Especially cold for the Pacific Northwest!  And.. as i 'always' do this time of year.. i indulged a little too often in peppermint bark..( a favorite seasonal treat,) and peppermint whoopie pies.  MUST get back to my routine.  The damage isn't too heavy..  :) .. so i'm thankful i didn't go WAY overboard!  I do; however, feel quite lazy.  So, must get back into the swing.  It's time to celebrate the start of a beautiful New Year.  Full of possibilities!  I'll try to keep my New Year's resolutions realistic.  And i'll only make two or three.

There's one seasonal treat i've never made.  One that sounds delicious and is full of tradition.  I'll make a pot of wassail.  Always loved the traditional wassailing carol, though i wasn't sure what wassailing actually is!  Now that i know; i adore the idea.  The word comes from the Middle English 'waes hael.'  It was the custom, every year, of villagers going into their apple orchards around Southwest England, and singing to the apple trees to chase away evil spirits and insure a good harvest in Autumn!  Now that's something i would have done all those years ago and loved.  I 'totally' would have sung to fruit bearing trees.  Tree hugger and lover that i am.  Yes, those ancient ancestors of mine sang to trees and drank wassail until they were 'happy and joyful'!  So i've decided to make a 'batch' of yummy wassail for S and myself because it sounds fun, AND it will honor our forebears and the coming New Year!  And i'll want to make enough to share with neighbors and friends.  I want to share this recipe i found in case any of you decide to make your own special holiday wassail!  After all, love and joy will come to you!


Looks and sounds exquisite, and like quite a way to celebrate.  Don't you think?  I love the process of making new things too.  The scents, and putting ingredients together.  Love. It!

Also would like to share the 'Wassailing Song'.  Always a favorite of mine.  It makes me want to sing along.. and wassail.


Making my wassail sounds like so much fun i don't want to wait.  But it's dinnertime on this Monday, the Twenty Sixth of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  Think i'll wait until New Year's Eve eve.  Lots of fun!  Have a wonderful evening all.  'See' you soon..  W for Wonderful Wassailing and Wishing..

December 22, 2011

Our Tennessee!

To the right of the page is our beautiful cat Tennessee.  Tennessee Tuxedo.  He of the magnificent whiskers and puma paws.  An all around sweetheart of a boy.  Tenn came to us as a feral cat.  It took months for him to trust us.  We have a large koi pond in our backyard, and he first started coming around to drink.  He cried and cried and cried then.  A tiny, hungry little guy.  S and i began leaving bowls of food out for him.  We left them quite a distance from the house and then we 'disappeared' inside.  He always waited behind a bush until he was certain we were gone; then he came out to eat.. stopping to look cautiously around the entire time, until every scrap of food was gone.  This went on for a couple of months.  Eventually, we were able to trap him and take him to the vet to be neutered and to have all the necessary shots.  For a year, he stayed outside during the day; and at night, he slept in our storage shed with a comfy, warm kitty bed, lots of water and plenty of food.  We have coyotes in our neighborhood, and have friends who've lost their kitties to those dangerous (to cats) animals!  He's been with us for six years now, and he is an indoor kitty ALL THE TIME!  My little Tenn-Quid, as i love to call him, is such an affectionate kitty boy now.  Many nights, he sleeps at the foot of our bed, and sometimes leans on me the way i've seen some Golden Retrievers lean on their people.  Our little man has the most wonderful whiskers we've ever seen, and huge mountain lion-like paws.  And his purr.. well it's quite a noisy motor, and almost sounds as if he's trying to sing.  We adore him with all our hearts, and we know he loves and trusts us implicitly.  When an animal sleeps near you, he knows deep down that you would never.. EVER hurt him/her.  We love that he trusts us like that.  I think it says S and I are good people!  :)  I believe we were meant to be his.  It was good fortune that he found us, some might say.  At one time, that's what i thought.  Now i think he was meant for us, and has taught us much.  Whenever someone tells me that animals are incapable of love.. (i know, right?  Can you believe THAT?)... i tell them they're full of s***.  Well, i don't say that exactly, but i beg to differ!

And while i'm here.. i'd like to post Tennessee's theme song.  Yes!  All four of our cats have their own individual theme song.  :)  So..  Tenn's theme is 'Green Peppers', by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  A perky. mischievous song that fits his personality to a T!  Here you go!  Enjoy.


Cool song, right?!  And vintage too.  I love vintage, by the way. So, i guess that's it for now.  This Thursday, December Twenty Second, Two Thousand Eleven.  M.. for Marvelous Tennessee.

December 20, 2011

Homes and Love Forever!

My afternoon was made when i found out that a blind hound mix, who'd been at the Oregon Humane Society for five (long) months, had finally found a loving home!  Dallas went home with a nice older man who already has another special needs dog in his home!  :)  The dogs were able to meet and become acquainted before Dallas was happily adopted.  Yay for humans!!  As i state in my introduction, i love to find the joy in everyday life, and i certainly found some today.  The news makes this pre-Christmas week extra special.  I also love animals of every species with my whole heart and soul.  Their well-being is important to me.  Too often, the stories i hear are bad and profoundly sad.  I have to change the channel on the television every time i hear or see the advertisement from the ASPCA.  I can't stand to see those sad faces looking longingly into the camera!  But today there is a beautiful, loving doggie-boy who has found his equally lucky, loving human.  Every day, on my facebbok page, i post a picture and article about a shelter pet who is looking for a home.  I posted Dallas on my page a few times, and thought to myself; if S and i didn't have four cats here, we would bring Dallas home and love him forever.  This sounds odd to you, i know, but i will sleep better tonight.  I will have a little more joy in my heart, and i will say a little prayer of thanks to the Universe for finding sweet Dallas a home!

There are so many pets waiting in shelters everywhere for loving homes.  I'm sure you know this.  If i ever become super wealthy, i'll open a home for unwanted, neglected animals.. dogs.. cats.. rabbits.. goats, etc.  Make sure that they never feel hungry or scared or lonely again.  If i ever win the lottery; that's where the money will go.  I swear it.

So i'll take this opportunity, (because it's my blog, and i can if i want to..)  :D to post a pet from the Oregon Humane Society.  So you can see one awesome animal who is searching for his/her own loving match!  Just look into those eyes and fall in love.. if not with this pet.. with a wonderful shelter animal near you who could give you a lifetime of unconditional love!


So there you go!  Isn't she awesome?!  Gotta go.  That's all for this Tuesday the Twentieth of December, Two Thousand Eleven.. Y this time for YAY DALLAS!

December 13, 2011

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?

I must confess to you that i have an addiction.  Actually two addictions.  One to food.. which i have under control these days.. though i deal with it one day at a time.  My second addiction is to facebook.  And i cannot believe i'm addicted to what, really, is just a website.  I didn't have a cellphone until about two years ago.  Now i have a Droid that i refer to as my 'precious'.  If you've seen the Lord of the Rings movies, you'll know what it means.  :D  That object has ludicrously become like my right arm.  I check my e-mails.  I make unnecessary calls that i obviously lived without making pre-cell.  But the thing i do most on that thing is..  check FACEBOOK!  Sigh.  How on earth did it come to this?  I also have a laptop i log on to every day.  I check facebook on that, and make posts from it too.  I read lots of interesting, useful articles there, but mainly, i check FACEBOOK!  I gotta do something about that, man.  I really do.  It's just that it's so much fun to be in touch with so many people.  People that i haven't seen in many years.  Now i get to know what they're doing 'all the time'.  What they do on weekends.  What they eat for dinner.  Pictures of their children.  Grandchildren.  Pets.  Trips.  Facebook is FUN!  But the same things that make it fun also make it kinda creepy.  Do i really 'need' to post pictures of where i'm eating lunch?  Or what i'm eating where i'm eating lunch?  I mean, even if my reuben looks super yummy and IS super yummy.. do i NEED to post a picture?  No.  But often, i find myself doing just that.  Geez!  And i look at my friends' pictures and think, ooooo!  That looks delicious.  Wish i had one of those!  Yep.  Like i said.  I have a food addiction.  (I'm certainly not blaming facebook for it, by the way.)  :)  I've tried to take breaks from fb.. Hah!  Short for facebook.  You knew that, right?  LOL!  And there's that abbreviation thing again.  I've become too lazy to spell out actual words.  Takes too much time.  Yep.  That sounds idiotic because it is.  But when i've taken these (brief) facebook breaks, i've ended up going back on before i planned.  I've found something i just have to post.  Yeesh!  And i may find these things fascinating, but others probably think meh.. i'll ignore.. or hide that!  I find myself jealous of people who've never 'joined' fb in the first place.  But, i find, now that i'm on, i really don't want to give it up.  Completely.  I have, however; decided to cut back.  A lot.  It's amazing what i get done when i give myself more time away from that world.  And according to an article that i read just today in the New York Times, more people are making the decision not to join at all.  Oh my gosh!!  Not join facebook!??  The idea.  I want to share that article with you.  You might find it interesting.  :)  Should i post it on fb?  Just kidding.  And actually according to this article.. fb is going to be rolling out some kind of 'public option' soon.  Sounds a little like health insurance, doesn't it?  The way health insurance should be, in my opinion.  This new thing might be just the nudge i need to get me to take an extended technology break.  Sounds a little stalkerish to me.. this public idea.  So here's the piece from the NYT if you're interested...


Will leave you with that question, alas.  To facebook or not to facebook?  I think, myself, that i can find a way to live peacefully with it.  To not be such good 'friends' with it.  Bahahahahahah!  Get it?  Facebook friends?  Sorry.  Couldn't resist.  Will log off my laptop for this Tuesday, the Thirteenth of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  M... for Much Less Facebook Goin' On!  See ya.  Just not on fb as much.

December 12, 2011

Awesome and Fascinating Archaeology!

Just a (relatively) brief post today.  I hope.  :)  One of my favorite things in the Universe to be is an 'armchair archaeologist'.  If there is such a thing, i am one.  I adore TV shows about anthropology and archaeology on the History Channel, Nat Geo, Discovery Channel.  They fascinate me to no end.  Just think how many years old this planet is!  I love learning what our way back, (and i mean waaaay back!) ancestors ate.  What they wore.  How they hunted and the tools they used.  I want to know as much about them as i can.  I subscribe to Archaeology Magazine!  I pore over the photos and read the articles, and would love someday to go on an expedition.  To see the pyramids.. the Nasca Lines, the Mayan Ruins.  Forget People magazine and shows about Kim Kardashian.  I couldn't care less.  I can't get enough of ancient cave paintings, dinosaur teeth, the bog bodies in Ireland.  Instead of being a cowboy, i shoulda been an archaeologist.  LOL.  But i'm not.  They say it's never too late, but at my age, i 'do' have to pee a lot.  I don't think the Egyptian desert is known for its porto-potties.  I read a fascinating article in the News section of Archaeology Magazine the other day, and i want to share it with you.  It's a short article for those of you who have time constraints.  And who doesn't these days?  Especially this time of year!  This piece is about a statue called the 'Lion Man Sculpture' whose 'remains' were dug up in the Stadel Cave in Germany in 1939.  This sculpture, scientists believe, is 35,000 years old!  Thirty-five thousand!  I love that.. though it's hard for me to wrap my 48 year old mind around the concept of that many years.  It is thought by many that this statue represents a male shaman.  But there are some who believe it may be a female!  A female shaman.  :)  Recently many more pieces of this statue have been discovered!  How exciting is that?  But i'll let you read the article for yourselves.  If it turns out that this sculpture indeed represents a woman.. then women may have controlled the religion of our ancient ancestors!!  Woohoo!  Women RULE.  A fact i've always known.  Hah!  But perhaps they've actually ruled longer than previously thought.  Well, here it is.  It's kind of an educational article, but like i said.  Brief.  So hopefully you won't be bored.  :D  I sure wasn't.


Have 'A Christmas Carol', the 1951 film, on the television, and it's almost over.  So.. want to catch the rest!  Beautiful movie.  But maybe for another post someday.  Was this post brief?  Likely about as brief as i can make one.  Signing out this Monday, the Twelfth of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  M.. for Merry Archaeological Findings.  :D

December 11, 2011

Serendipity or Something More? :)

I've been torn lately.  In a good way.  Have many questions and thoughts about chance and its role in my life versus the existence of a guiding spirit.  Dare i say it?  God?  Maybe it's because of the season that i've been thinking about my life.  How it's been.  Wonderful.  It's a wonderful life.  Like the title of that film i love so much.  I've been lucky.  Should i say fate has been good to me?  Serendipity?  More than just plain luck?  Well, i'll come right out and say it.  I believe in my heart it's more than luck.  The world isn't random.  There's a plan.  I don't think i came to that conclusion today.  It happened over the course of time.  Although there's one recent.. (today).. incident that sealed the deal.  :D  It's going to seem small to you.  Insignificant.  Minor.  Like.. is this chick crazy or what?!  I'll spell it out later in this post.  There are 'so' many things that have happened over the 48 years of my life that couldn't POSSIBLY be random.  There's no way.  I've faith that these things aren't chance.  I'm lousy at math.. statistics.. logic. And this is a powerful feeling.

I met the man i have loved for 20 years 20 years ago.  We were set up on a 'random' blind date by mutual friends.  I was perfectly content as a single woman.  Tired of my friends' determination to find me a man.  Won't go into detail about the ludicrous dates i went on because my friends thought each new man was perfect for me.  At least half these matches were made because i and the man in question were both single.  Zero in common.  Anyway, looking back on things, i started working where i worked then in '90.  Sat in one cubicle for a year, then was moved to another next to my friend Sue, who lived next door to S.  Sue said.. i know someone who would be perfect for you!  Eye roll.  No really, she said.  What were the chances that i would be sitting next to the woman who lived next door to a man i believe now was made for me?  Talk about being in the right place at the right time, and S being in the right place at the right time.  And the timing  right at the right time.  And yeah.  You can lecture me on the statistics if you want.  But i think our meeting was planned.  By someone who knows much more about the world than we do.  And i could list countless times when 'fate' intervened in my life and in the lives of my family members and friends.  And yes.  I've made certain choices that have ended well.  Some not so well.  I don't believe all the things that have happened are chance.  I have faith.  A feeling that they're not.  How do i put this feeling into words?  There's some power pulling strings somewhere.  Not sure what it is.  But it's there.  I know it.  I can't call myself an atheist anymore.  Have always had a kind of spiritual side.  Is the correct word agnostic?  Don't know.  Anyway.. there it is.

And the small thing that happened just this afternoon was like the final tiny missing piece of a puzzle.  I found it!  And animal lover that i am.. that final piece came in the form of.. animals.  :D  That must've been planned too.  I had my heart set on going to lunch at a certain restaurant i love.  Well, we arrived at the front door of this eatery only to find that it was closed for a private holiday party.  So things weren't going to go as i planned.  We had to go somewhere else?!  The very idea!  We ended up at a cool little place around the block.. where we had a delicious meal, and an even more delicious dessert!  A peppermint whoopie pie.  LOL  They don't have whoopie pies at the the place i was just dying to go.  Aha!  But that's not it.  A cool thing.  But not IT.  I had to use the restroom.  On the way, i saw this beautiful photography exhibit.  Pictures of... goats.  I adore goats with my whole heart.  And, i could purchase one of these photographs with the proceeds going to the 'Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary'.. where they provide a lifetime place for abused or neglected goats, llamas and sheep. Happy sigh.  So, of course, D purchased one of those photos as an early Christmas gift for me.  And i've made arrangements to volunteer there starting in February!  So you see.. a small thing.  Likely minuscule to most.  But not to me.  And if we'd had lunch where I with a capital I'd wanted.. i never would have seen this exhibit or known about such a great place!  And this is a small thing, but it was like being bonked over my head with a hammer.  And furthermore, this is my blog, and i'll make it about small things if i want.  So there!  While i'm here, i'd like to post a link to this wonderful place i found in my travels today.  I hope you take a moment to check it out.  It might make you smile and wonder a little!


I sincerely hope you enjoyed that.  I know i love that site, and i can't wait to see the sanctuary 'in person' and actually work there!  Well, time for more football, i guess.  I'm content and feel the day was productive though all we did was have lunch and do a little antiquing.  So, i guess productive in a relaxing, happy way.
Bye for now, this Sunday the Eleventh of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  Today it's G.. for Good in the World.. and N for Not Random after all!  As well as Goodnight...

December 8, 2011

Dear Santa.. :)

Dear Santa Claus.  Jolly, wonderful gift giver in red!  I love you, you know.  Your joyful, generous heart and spirit.  This is a relatively short list.  And it includes just two things for myself that i may mention at the very end.  I understand that deep down you are a good being, and will do your best to make my wishes come true.  I've tried to be a good girl this year.  I have, and i think you know that.  :)  So.. here goes.  And i'll try my hardest to make this brief.  But well.. i have a tendency to run on sometimes.  See.  I'm doing it already...

Anyway.  First on my list.  And this is super, fantastically important.  Seriously.  I would like for every father and mother out there who needs a job to have one.  As soon as you can possibly finagle it.  So very important for all the children out there.  Times are hard.  For so many.  I don't know if you see that up there in the frozen North Pole, but it's true.  There are many people demonstrating in the streets of our cities down here.  There has been so much loss.  And there are so many willing to work hard to support their families if only they can find something.  Yep.  Unrealistic.  I know.  But you are Santa after all.  Truly, though, i think there are many kids around who would forgo the toys and pretty things if only their parents could find jobs!

And peace in the Mideast.  That will be a difficult one.  That's for sure.  There has been strife over there since well before Jesus, the reason for this gift giving holiday, was born.  Or, maybe if you can't grant that wish.. maybe you could somehow convince those who have a say to get on it.  Stop being so self absorbed and self interested and work HARDER at finding a solution so that those who live in that part of the world can co-exist 'better'.  Because that would improve so many things in the world.  If we can manage some kind of peace there we can do it anywhere.  Right?!

Just two more big things.. then i'll get on to the small ones.  There are MANY items on my list, but i don't want to go on forever.  And forever is just how long it might take to ask for all of it.  Those two things are..  lower gas prices, and a library card for everyone who doesn't have one.  Lower gas prices would enable so many families to have the money to buy other things they need to have.  Like food and warm clothing to get them through the winter months.  Gas prices are through the roof in many (or most) places.  Not sure if you're aware of that since you drive a reindeer powered sleigh and all, but that's the truth.  And it's all well and good to say we need to cut back on oil and gasoline consumption.  That's true too.  But, realistically, the majority of us get around in gasoline powered vehicles.  And many families need the cars to get around to the jobs that they're lucky enough to have in these hard times!  And on to the library cards.  Soooooo important for children and adults, i think.  Especially the ones who don't have the money to purchase books or own a 'fancy' kindle or iPad.  I take those e-readers for granted.  (Does that make me an ungrateful girl?)  But reading is important.  For everyone.  It's just like the old, kind of corny saying goes.  (Corny, but true.)  That books can take one anywhere.  Much to be learned from the written word, the artwork and illustrations in books.

So there are two things left on my list.  The first is that i would love for you, Santa, to help me get over my fear of flying.  Just when i think i've conquered it.. it bites me in my backside.  There are many places in the world i'd like to visit, but more importantly.. (and this comes first,) my family lives many miles away from me on the east coast!  I visit every so often when i work up the courage to get on a plane, but i'd visit them much more often if i was more willing to fly all those hours!  Perhaps when you're making your rounds on Christmas Eve, you could let me tag along in your sleigh for awhile.  That would help me get over my fear of flying!  I'm sure of it.  And there's quite a bit less of me than there was at this time last year.  So i would fit into the back of your sleigh better with all those presents!  So... what do you think?!  Will you consider it?  :D  Pretty please with sugarplums on it?

And last.. but not least really.. though this is specifically for me.  That would be the gift of brevity, because God and you, (i'm pretty sure,) know i could use it.  Really, i could.  Also sure that you could edit this letter and remove half of it.  And i was a journalism major.. so at one time.. i knew how to be brief!  That ability seems to have flown out the window.  No fear of flying, i guess!:  Eh?

So that's it.  I tried not to ask for too many things, though i did ask for A LOT!  And i'm sure you're aware of this fact too.  I'm not eight.. i'm 48!  Too old to write a letter to Santa.  This letter is written to the giving spirit that lives in most people.  And, hey, it's my blog and i'll ask if i want to.  And so i hope you, and anyone else out there who reads this.. takes it in the spirit in which it was meant.  It comes from my (most of the time) loving, compassionate, and quite-idealistic-for-my-age heart.

So Santa, that's all for now.. this Thursday the Eighth of December, Two Thousand Eleven... M.. for Mr. St. Nicholas Claus..  (Not) Make Believe Truly Generous Soul...

December 3, 2011

The Sensual Pleasures of the Christmas Season

Happy Sigh.  Well, it's my favorite time of year once again.  The joy filled, wonderful few weeks between the Thanksgiving Holiday and the Birth of a brand New Year!  And my favorite part of my favorite time of the year.. Christmas!  :)  This post by myself will be full of rhapsodizing about this glorious, and sensuous, time of year.  By sensuous, I do NOT mean sexual.  I realize there are some who confuse those two words.  I mean sensuous/sensual to mean a magnificent feast for all the senses!  The sounds.. the tastes, the sights.. the scents.. and the touch of things in celebration of Christmas.  Gosh.  Where to start.  I could go on and on and on....  But i won't.  For the sake of all your individual 'sanities'; i'll keep this as short as possible.  I think.. maybe.  :)

I believe i'll begin with the sounds of the season that i love!  And the first of those is the music.  The beautiful songs and the singing of those Christmas carols.  I love them all.  From the traditional Christian ones.. like O Holy Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.. to fun ones like Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.. to the Bing Crosby/Burl Ives classics.. like Winter Wonderland and White Christmas!  I love them all, and can feel my heart swell when i listen.  Every time.  And my very favorite carol which i adore with all my Christmas loving heart.. is 'The Holly and The Ivy.'  It's an old, traditional English carol with Christian and Pagan influences. It speaks of the birth of the Savior, and also mentions holly and ivy.  Symbols of pagan fertility.  I think i've grown to love that song even more since we moved to Oregon.  A very green place filled with ivy, and at certain times, with holly.  And i think my favorite rendition of my favorite song is done by the King's Choir of Cambridge.  My heart lifts when i listen to that joyful version.  The music, and the sounds of those wonderful, talented raised voices!  And the setting.  Well, the setting just rings with festive joy.  Then.. of course.. there is the sound of bells!  Church bells.. the Carol of the Bells played in church.. and sleigh bells.  All happy, magnificent sounds.  Sounds that make me feel warmth even in December.  And hope.  The feeling of hope is one of the most important things about this season of giving.

Next.. Well next i can't help but think of all the wonderful scents of this season.  The scent of evergreen.  Of sweet treats baked in the oven.  Cinnamon.. cardamom.. pungent spices that smell of true happiness.  Peppermint.  Hand rolled candy canes.  Might try that this year.  Never have made my own.  To give as gifts to neighbors and friends.  :)  And maybe to sample one or two myself of course.  You know, to make sure they come out well enough to give away!  The smell of a delicious pie baking in the oven.  A smell that reminds me of my Maine childhood.  Cinnamon-ey, nutmeggy apple pie.  The salty scent of nutty TV Scrabble.  Popcorn and cranberries anyone?  Remind you of stringing them on the classroom Christmas tree when we were young school kids?  :D  Anyway.  You get the idea.  I said i'd attempt to make this brief so.. moving on to...

The tastes!  Oh.. the yummy tastes of Christmas!  Which, well, you know, are about foods.  Many of the same mentioned above.  But i left out a few up there to talk about down here.  Strudel.  I've never made my own, but LOVE how it smells in the oven or just out of the oven!  And the flavor.  Magnificent.  Think i will make my own this year.  Always good to try something new.  I've read that authentic strudel dough needs to be stretched!  And i could likely use some help.  Hey baby.. wanna help me stretch my strudel when you get home from work?  :)  Spiced warm cider.  Yummy.  Plum pudding.  More yummy.  Baked brie with jam?  Super duper yummy.  Creamy, sweet, pastry-like.  Just all around Merry Christmas-y!  Then of course.. there is always a favorite Christmas beer, wine, or ale to be savored.  Enjoyed with a spouse, friends, or by oneself in relaxation during this fun, but chaotic season.  Yep.  Could go on about all the deliciousness forever, but...

There are many gorgeous sights to mention.  Beautiful Christmas trees.  Whether you choose a live tree, a cut tree or an artificial tree.  All beautiful and up to your individual liking.  Sparkly gold, silver, blue, green, red ornaments.  The decked halls.  Living rooms.  The outside festive lights on peoples' homes. White lights.  Multi-colored lights.  Blinking lights.  Blue lights.  Which have grown on me in recent years!  So much glowing beauty.  Love to wear red and green this time of year.  (Though not in the form of a tacky Christmas sweater.)  And i love to do my nails in red.. especially the sparky, pretty kind of polish.  Brings out the girly girl in me that's still very much present.  There's the beautifully set Christmas table.  Sigh.  I even.. though i'm not a fan of shopping malls 'normally'.. love a decked out department store this time of year.  Love to ooo and ah at the pretty decorations.  Love the sight of a candy cane garnish on a holiday martini glass.  Containing a delectable martini, of course.  And S and myself go for many 'light peeping' drives this season just as we go for 'leaf peeping' drives in the autumn!  Soooo much to see.  I won't get started on all the Christmas specials i love to watch on the TV machine!  And... last, but certainly not least in my Christmas book...

Are the touches and feelings of this important holiday.  Christmas is all about loving.  Hoping.  Giving.  Joy.  And there are many ways to express this.  Of course there's gift giving.  Giving truly is much more fun than receiving.  I mean it.  :)  There's nothing like seeing a child's face light up at the gift that he/she just loves.  Brings so much feeling of joy to my heart, and touches me in a deep way.  Happy sigh.  Then, there's one of my favorite Christmas touches. Mistletoe.  Just think how much touching.. hugging.. and.. kissing a sprig of mistletoe incites!  Woohoo!  A parasite my eye!  lol  Yes.. seeing people happy and loving each other touches me deeply.  That's what Christmas is all about, baby.  Love, love, and more LOVE.  Touching each other in myriad ways and expressing our love and hope in the human race.  Yep.  Probably sound quite sappy don't i?  Well. :D.. my feeling about that is that i don't give a rat's behind.  Sappy is good sometimes.  So there.

Well, as usual, have gone on LONG enough.  So that's all for today.. Saturday, the Third of December, Two Thousand Eleven.  M... for...  Magnificent Song and Celebration at Christmas!

October 14, 2011

Three Books on My Must-Read and Reread Sometime.. List

When i first 'invented' this blog, my main aim was to write about books.  Books that i've read and loved.  Books that i've read and disliked for one reason or another.  Or books that i haven't yet read, but want to read 'someday'.  Got off the track there quite a bit, and have talked about many things, but only two of my posts.. or thereabouts.. have been about books.  Fiction or non-fiction.  I still plan to write about many things.  Whatever happens to be on my mind on a particular day.  Trust me, my imagination is 'crazy'.  In a good way... so i think about lots of things other than books!  Good or bad.  But on this particular overcast, rather dreary Friday early evening, my thoughts return to... books.  LOL  I remember when Friday evenings were for thoughts of other things.  Going out, for instance.  What i would wear.  Where my friends and i would spend our (very late) nights out.  Not anymore.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a 'total' stick-in-the-mud 'all the time.'  But at my older, though not old :) age, i've become quite laid back.  I enjoy staying in more often with S and relaxing.  Just reading, talking with him, and maybe watching an old film.  Anyway.  There i go again.  Getting off the subject at hand.  Books!

There are three that i've recently read.. all of them for a second time.. that i want to highly recommend to you all.  By that, i mean that reading these books was not only enjoyable, but profoundly thought provoking.  Perhaps i'm at a stage in my life when i'm looking for more in a book than entertainment?  Though they're entertaining in their own way, all are about a journey of some kind.  Physical, emotional, philosophical.  The excellent writing in all of them is a sheer pleasure to read.  You'll travel to the far reaches of the world by way of beautiful words and images.  I'm not listing them order of favorites.  Just as i think of them..

The first one is 'Angle of Repose' by Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner.  Where do i begin?  In absolutely magnificent prose, Stegner creates characters who are uniquely American in character..(sounds odd, i know, but it's true,)  and follows them as they make a life on the Western Frontier.  Four generations of a family with the fictional historian Lyman Ward telling his grandparents' story.  And what a story!  You will get lost in their lives and the vast American West.  It may make you want to experience moving West yourself, or maybe want to take a long vacation out here if you've never been.  I read this book for the first time when i was twenty three.  Loved it then, but it has much more meaning for me now.  I moved to Oregon with S sixteen years ago this month.  Didn't appreciate the West back then.  I was too homesick for Maine.  Maine is a wonderful place, but the world is so much bigger than that.  And the American West is especially huge and sometimes overwhelming.  I've grown to love it 'out here', and now know that we did the right thing making our own journey West.  Perhaps i should have reread 'Angle of Repose' fifteen or sixteen years ago.  It may have cured my homesickness sooner..  :)  But as it is, i read it again three weeks ago.  Long, lovely passages about the difficulty of life on the early Frontier.  Certainly much harder then than in '95 when we moved here.  Stegner's writing will make you appreciate nature.. all of it.. even the not-so-nice things no matter where in the US you live!  When i was done reading, i had a good, cleansing cry.  Not from sadness; from happiness.  Made me appreciate the world and everyone and everything in it that i know and love.  Read it!  You won't be sorry.  :)

'The Snow Leopard' by Peter Mathiessen.  Another profoundly magnificent book.  Non-fiction.  Not many non-fiction books i enjoy, let alone enjoy this immensely.  Magical.  Reading it is like going on one's own pilgrimage.  It's about a journey to Nepal in a quest to see (possibly) a Snow Leopard.  It was 1973 when Mathiessen traveled there with the biologist George Schaller.  You may recognize Schaller's name if you're a fan of National Geographic!  Highly.. (can't say how highly) recommend this book.  It truly will change the way you see the world.  Sounds corny, but i'm right.  I know i am.  And when i'm right.  I'm right.  :D  Schaller's and Mathiessen's journey was life testing because of the difficulty of the region and climate.  It's a book about the wonder of nature and the need for humans to respect it.  I won't say if they actually see the elusive Leopard.  No spoilers here.  I'd love for you to enjoy the beautiful, yet difficult journey of these two,  fairly young at the time, men.

One of my favorite passages from 'The Snow Leopard' i want to share..  'Disputing the path is a great copper-colored grasshopper, gleaming like amber in the sun; so large is it, and so magical its shimmer, that i wonder if this grasshopper is not some old naljorpa, advanced in the art of taking other forms.  But before such a 'perfected one' can reveal himself, the grasshopper springs carelessly over the precipice, to start a new life hundreds of feet below.  I choose to take this as a sign that i must entrust myself to life, and thanking the grasshopper, I step out smartly on my way.'............ Gorgeous writing.  :)

And the third book i recommend is titled 'Far Afield' by Susanna Kaysen.  She is better known for her autobiographical novel 'Girl Interrupted.'  I, however; have never read that one.  Before i read 'Far Afield', which is fiction, by the way, i'd never heard of the Faroe Islands, where the story takes place.  Cold, out in the middle of nowhere.  A cluster of islands.. 'belonging' to Denmark.. in the North Atlantic.. situated between Denmark and Iceland.  Jonathan Brand is an Anthropology student who has decided to do his graduate fieldwork in this remote place.  :)  It's a novel about an emotional journey as well as a distant one.  There's a lot of humor in this book.  Found myself laughing fall-out-of-my-chair style often.  Talk about a different culture.  The customs. The humans themselves.  I found myself wanting to persuade S to take a vacation there (in the summertime of course,) the first chance we get!  A little chilly, but light almost 24 hours a day if we go there during the 'right' time of year honey!  Think i'll wait until after Christmas to mention it to him.  :)  Anyhow, after quite a few misunderstandings and mishaps, Mr. Brand falls in love with the Faroes and their people!  Kind of like the way i fell in love with Oregon.. after a long and rather torturous courtship!  :)  If i had to compare the book to a similar television show; i'd choose Northern Exposure.  I think this book came first though, but i'm not entirely sure.  Anyway, you'll especially appreciate the episodes in the book, (not the TV show,) when the locals try to set the anthropology student up with some local women.  It's time for Jonathan Brand to find a wife!  And the food the Faroese eat!  Quite a foodie myself, but not sure i'd dare.  All around a profound read about what makes a culture and civilzation told in excellent writing with much humor.

So there it is.  And i've been too long winded as usual!  Three books that you 'should' read.  Quite enriching.  All three.  This post has taken me a looooooong time!  Guess i'll end it all for this Friday the Fourteenth of October, Two Thousand Eleven... M.. for Many More Must-Read Books!

September 29, 2011

A Motley Array of Thoughts!

Hmm.. what should i write about this glorious autumn afternoon?  Many things on my mind.  Feel paralyzed by options.  The fabulousness of fall?  I lost my appreciation for this sublime season for awhile there.  Was truly longing for perpetual summer.  Then long about last last week.. i had an ephiphany!  Fall is fun, and delicious in its own way.  The vivid colors.. the pungent scents.. the sparkling, dancing light.  Indeed, autumn has many pleasures unique to its time.  The nutmeggy, cinnamony flavor of a slice of savory pumpkin pie.  The loud crack and crunch of that first bite into a perfectly ripe, but not always perfectly red.. apple.  The gorgeous late afternoon sunshine when the light sparkles like a flute of champagne.  A taste of tart apple cider with a cinnamon stick touch.  The cider hard or 'soft' whatever your heart desires at the moment.  The crunch and scrape of fallen leaves under my feet when i go for one of my long treks in that late afternoon sunshine.  Leaves that i don't think of as dead.  They'll be raked, placed in compost to 'ripen' in a different way.  To be placed in our garden to fertilize it in the spring..  To aid in the renewal and growth of flowers and veggies galore.  The wonderful, miraculous cycle continues...  And my very favorite thing about late fall.  Thanksgiving!  :)  When we celebrate our families, friends (and football for some,)  :D and the late fall harvest.  To show our gratitude for everything and everyone we have in this life....

Or.. do i want to talk about our 4 cats?  Who S and i adore with our whole hearts and souls.  Who are also enjoying the scents of fall floating on the breeze.  We don't have human children, so in a sense they are like our (furry) kids.  Two of them had health scares in the early months of this year.  Tortie, one of our little girls, had part of a lung removed due to cancer.  She is healthy now, and as playful as ever at 13.  For that, we are eternally grateful.  Otis, our big emerald-eyed black Maine Coon, had a radio-isotope procedure done on his thyroid.. due to hyperthyroidism that almost killed him.  Down to 5 pounds before the procedure, he is healthy and back to his 13 pound big-cat self!  More fur than he's ever had.  I call him my big lion-boy.  :)  Though he has so much fur around his.. ahem.. rear end now.. that sometimes, when he 'does his business' a little kitty doo-doo gets stuck on his butt, and i need to wipe for him.  :D  I never pictured myself needing to wipe a cat's hiney, but i love him of course.  And willingly do the stinky task.  I shouldn't complain anyway.  I've never changed a diaper in my entire 48 years on this planet of ours.  So this isn't going to kill me.. is it?  :)

I could always, i guess, talk about the latest awesome cheese i've sampled.  Maybe.  Pian Rosa, Manchego, Al Vino, a Cotswold with bits of chive.  All absolutely out of this world!  Or maybe a little bit of brie spread on a few slices of a crunchy, ripe Honeycrisp apple!  Or one of my very favorite fall 'meals', a grilled cheddar and Monterey Jack on dark rye bread with a mug of cold, tart fall apple cider.  No chips necessary.  Would 'totally' kill the flavors!  Okay. Enough about that.  I'm getting hungry, but promised S i'd wait for him so we can go out and dine together.  Like we usually do Thursday evenings.  :)

Perhaps i could talk about the books i'm currently reading.  'The Living', by Annie Dillard.  Splendid writer, Ms. Dillard.  And as the title states, it's a novel about living.  The different lives people live and the choices they make.  Am reading 'Spectator Bird', by Wallace Stegner.  Yet another magnificent writer.  I've already mentioned him in a post, i believe.  He deserves a segment of this blog all to himself.  I could rave on and on about the pleasures of reading that man's wonderful prose.  And i'm reading a non-fiction book, which i don't do often.  Not more that 3 or 4 non-fiction books per year, in fact.  But every once in awhile, i find one that strikes my fancy, and makes me crave more knowledge about a particular subject.  This one is 'The Vikings, A History', by Robert Ferguson.  I adore history and am a kind of armchair archaeologist.  This book is right up my alley.  Full of historical fact, but also some excellent photographs of archaeological finds.. interviews with scientists and forensic experts, etc.  But be warned.. the Vikings were NOT nice guys.  Seriously.. not nice at all.  Daring and ruthless, yes.  'Good'.. NO.

Geez.. well, i just 'bout guess i've talked myself out!  Gettin' to be close to time for suppah!  More later on, and next time i'll try to stick to one subject.  Hope none of you were bored.  :)  But i guess if you were, you didn't make it this far in and listen to me yammer this long.  So that's all for now, folks!

Hope you've all had a fabulous Thursday the Twenty-Ninth of September, Two Thousand Eleven...M...  Bahahahaha  :D..  for Much Too Long Winded!

September 14, 2011


Magazines!  The glossies.. !  The Literary Journals.. !  Mags about the environment.  About cooking.  About travel.  About politics.  (Mainly liberal politics.)  There is a magazine i love with my whole heart and soul that is devoted completely to... CHEESE!  Name one, and i have purchased and read it from cover to cover at one time or another.  Or borrowed it from the library.  I rarely subscribe though it's cheaper, because i absolutely cannot bear it when one comes crushed or even bent a tiny iota.  Wait!  That was redundant, wasn't it?!  lol  Anyway.. even when i tell myself that mags are made out of the trees i also love with my whole heart and soul; i still buy 'em.  I do, however; when i can bear to part with them, donate them to the library.  But this post is going to be about my two favorites.  They are two that have absolutely nothing in common.

 I ask myself how, if i'm an environmentalist, and i am, can i adore 'Vanity Fair' the way i do?  It's the first on my list of favs.  It's all about materialism.. consumerism.  And worse.. i love the ads the most.  I mean, we're talking some SERIOUS eye candy.  You know what i'm saying if you've ever looked at one.  I'm drawn to those ads like a bee is to honey.  (And yes, i know that expression is as old as the hills.)  The colors, the models, the layout, all of it.  And the models in these print commercials are always rail thin.  They set bad examples for young girls everywhere.  These airbrushed faces and bodies.  The ads all shout 'buy our product!', which of course, is what they're made for.  Thing is, as much as i love looking, i have no desire to buy any of it.  I'm a lookie-loo!  Of course i picture myself a much thinner version of me wearing the Donna Karan.. the Calvin Klein.. the Burberry, etc.  My imagination works overtime.  But to me, these ads are just beautiful candy without calories.  Then i think of the amounts these items cost, and i think bahahahaha!  Never in a million freakin' years would i purchase any of it.  No matter what i could afford.  This frugal Maine Yankee could never do it.  And i can't believe many 'real' women do.  And if they do; they must be deep in the quagmire of debt.  So there really isn't any logic to my love of 'Vanity Fair'.  It feeds my imagination well, though.  It satisfies my girly-girl desire for pretty stuff.  I just don't take it seriously.  Like i like to say often.. imagination is much more fun than logic.  And i stand by that statement.  :)

My 'second' favorite.. which is sometimes my first favorite.. it depends on what mood i'm in at the time.. is 'Orion'  It's sort of an environmental journal with a subheading that reads, 'Nature - Culture - Place.  It's hard to put my love of this journal into words.  It's everything that 'Vanity Fair' is not.  'Orion' is NOT a glossy. The pages are magnificently matte!  The cover is always brilliant.  Sometimes gorgeous artwork.. sometimes amazing photography.  And the articles and essays!  Well.. i just can't say enough about those.  The writing is superb.  I never miss an issue.  Ever.  :D  It contains work by some of my most favored writers.  Bill Mckibben, Rick Bass, Janisse Ray, and on and on.  Always well thought out and intelligent.  I don't read this one from cover to cover right away.  I savor it.  Every word is a treasure to be discovered.  And there are NO ADS!  Not a one.  It's the anti- Vanity Fair or Vogue or Bazaar.  Well, i suppose it is trying to sell the idea that we should pay more attention to the world around us, endangered species and cultures, global warming, etc.  But i don't find it preachy in the least.  This past weekend i bought both magazines at the same time.  And i thought to myself.. what a hypocrite.  Seriously.  Took me a couple days to get over that feeling.  Of guilt.  I just decided that VF will be my guilty pleasure.  It's okay if i just look once in awhile, right?  Hah!  I'm a healthy well-adjusted female.  :)  And for a vice (not that it's my only one, mind you,) perusing a materialistic magazine is pretty harmless.  Don't ya think?  And i never have been good at... logic.  I also love to look at 60s era classic gas guzzling cars every so often.  Those are some pretty decent eye candy too.  But i'd never drive or own one.

So that was my dilemma the last few days.  To admit my addiction to a 'bad' mag, or to keep it a secret.  Well, it's certainly no secret now.  My love for pretty is out there for the world to see.  Pretty is in the eye of the beholder after all...And that's it for this Wednesday, the Fourteenth of September, Two Thousand Eleven...

M.. for Magnificent Reading..  :)

August 3, 2011

Kitties Galore! :D.. and a little more cheese!

As i stated in a previous post, S and i have 4 cats.  Otis, Tortie, Tennessee and Snickers.  I thought i would introduce you to the 4 of them one by one in the order in which they became.. 'ours'.. or more likely we became.. theirs.  Notice the lack of quotations around the last part of that statement.  Because truly it is far more accurate to say that we belong to them.. all heart & soul!  All 4 of them, in one way or another, chose us.  And we love that.  I think it says we're good people.  With lots of heart.

Let me start with Otis.  Our big black Maine Coon kitty with the gorgeous emerald eyes.We brought Otis home with us 13 years ago from the Bonnie Hays Small Animal Shelter here in Hillsboro, OR.  Shortly after we moved into our first house.  When we arrived at the shelter one Saturday morning in March '98, i was determined to find a tuxedo kitty to bring home to love.  I'd always loved tuxes, but had never had one of my own.  So we walked into a room filled with cats in small cages.  Don't like to name them cages, but that's what they are.  Right away, i laid eyes on a small female tuxedo.  S , on the other hand, had no preconceived ideas about what 'kind' of a cat he wanted.  To make a longer story shorter, we looked at almost every kitty in there.  They were all fairly quiet except for one which i kept wanting to tell to lower his voice.  I didn't really pay attention to this one; i just thought he was loud.  S said this one particular kitty had had his eyes on us the entire time.  There was one other, younger couple in the room checking out all the cats, and there was a mother, father and a little girl who looked to be about 4 looking too.  But this kitty paid no attention to them.  S said .. 'how about this black one with the pretty green eyes.  And i said, not very nicely i admit now.. 'you mean the one who won't shut up?'  I had to look up to get a good look because he was in one of the 'top' cages.  It was as if those green eyes looked directly into my heart!  Big loud 'MEOW' he said, and S opened his cage.  We took turns holding him and talking to him, and that was it.  I was smitten.  Very affectionate kitty, and he'd stopped his LOUD talking.  He was now purring the most beautiful purr i'd ever heard.  What a motor!  So we decided he'd be ours.. or more accurately.. we'd be his forever.  We brought him home with us, and we decided to name him Otis.  Actually, that was S's suggestion, I think.  If you remember the Andy Griffith Show, you remember there was always a harmless, but tipsy man in the only cell in Mayberry, RFD.  And his name was Otis Campbell.  So S and myself have always said that we 'sprung' Otis and decided to give him the care and love he deserved.  He'd never be lonely again!  :D

So since i've already run on longer than i wanted, i'll introduce you kitty number 2 in my next post.  I want to give them all equal time and not give any one of them short shrift, after all.  All four are loved equally and have their own unique personalities and endearing eccentricities.

So now.. a brief note about another of my fav kinds of CHEESE!  That would be feta.  In fact, as i write this post, i am snacking on some delicious sliced red bell peppers and a few kalamata olives.. (olives are another of my favorite things in the Universe..) sprinkled with a liberal (there's that word again) amount of feta cheese!  Feta works on just about anything you want!  Also scrumptious sprinkled on a piece of flatbread and rolled up with a little basil and sliced onion..  I could go on and on and on...  But you get the idea, right?  Full of spectacular flavor, that feta!

And i made a book purchase today, albeit a small one.  I brought home 'Before Ever After' by Samantha Sotto.  It's her first novel, and i love first novels!  Almost always great!  And a book called 'A Misalliance' by Anita Brookner.  Another favorite author of mine.  Although she is far from a first novelist.  :)  Will review these when i finish them.. or maybe as i'm reading them.. whatever i want.. know what i mean?  Geez, i have to get on this book review thing.  Haven't done on yet!  Soon.. i promise.

So time to sign off and eat some yummy spicy sausage pasta and some warm, crusty buttered bread! I'm hungry.

Sincerely yours on this August Third, Two Thousand Eleven!

August 2, 2011

Sometimes.. it's all about CHEESE!

So.. here's the thing.  I think the other day, when i made my first milestone post.. :D.. i neglected to mention how much i absolutely adore cheese.  Of all kinds!  Whether it's made from cow's milk, sheep's milk or goat's milk.. i heart it!  'Course, it might not be so healthy for my heart, but these days, i'm sure to enjoy that exquisite stuff in moderate amounts.  And i know that in some ways..  cheese is excellent for one's heart and soul.  Quite frankly, i never thought of making this blog about cheese at all.  Credit goes to my friend Joe P. for that.  With extra encouragement from my friend JQ!  I'll also include a bit about wine in this post.  I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but i do know what i like.  So i might be able to give you out there in cyberland a few hints as to what you might possibly enjoy.

Here goes!  One of my ultimate favorite kinds of cheese is a French cheese called Port Salut.  It's a creamy, kind of nutty, soft, melt-in-one's-mouth cheese that is fabulously scrumptious.  Delicious if you spread a small chunk on a piece of warm, crusty French bread.  I've also tried Port Salut with a little Black Forest ham on a small crusty French roll.  Cheese and good bread together are just to die for!  And if you enjoy wine, try this cheese with a glass of Yard Dog White.  It's an Australian white that's excellent.  I wasn't sure, because, i must admit, i fell in love (first) with the label.  But the 'wine guy' at the market where i shop said (the day i purchased it,) that it's also good.  And he was correct!  There is a picture on the label of a little terrier wearing a cone around his neck!  Save the bottle when you finish the wine!  I did, but can't find it in this house.  Maybe one of our kitties noticed the picture of 'the cone of shame'.. and hid it somewhere in his/her secret stash!  :D  And Port Salut is also yummy when it's spread on just a plain wheat cracker.  It might sound bland, but actually it's perfect.  You don't want a cracker with so strong a flavor that it overwhelms the flavor of the cheese!  That will get one a wag of my finger.  Yes!  Sometimes i channel Stephen Colbert.

Another kind of wine that I love is Layer Cake Shiraz.. another Australian wine.  And yes, you guessed it!  Fell in love with this label too.  Because there is a picture of..YES!  you guessed again.. a yummy piece of layer cake.  The label is accurate, though, i must say.  This wine is fabulous with a small.. if you're trying to downsize.. BIG if you're not.. piece of moist chocolate cake avec dark chocolate frosting.  So.. take this one to the party as a great dessert wine!  And if you love wine and dessert together, this particular kind is yummy with a piece of.. cherry CHEESEcake!  Again with the CHEESE!  Have tried it, and i felt like i was still alive and had gone to Heaven.  No need to think i'd died first, you know.  Highly unnecessary.

Thus ends my first cheese and wine post.  Actually.. now.. just a few words about one of my other loves.  (I have many.)  BOOKS!  Had the good fortune to drop into another place that is paradise.. at least to me.. the local library.  Withdrew 4 books for my evening.. or morning reading pleasure!  I'll list 'em for my own fun.  Feel free to skip over this part if you want..

They are; 'Straight Man' by Richard Russo, 'The Free Life' by Ha Jin, 'The House in Paris' by Elizabeth Bowen', and 'Kinflicks' by Lisa Alther.  The last on the list i read years ago, but want to read it again.  Okay, so this REALLY ends my 4th blog post.  Have a wonderful rest of the week all.. this doesn't mean i won't be back this week.. just sayin'...  :D

Sincerely yours this second day of August, 2011

August 1, 2011

48 - This year's BIG number!

Well.. i turned 48 this morning.  Officially, according to my mother, at 3:53 am eastern standard time!  Have to say.. i don't 'feel' 48.  Not sure how that's supposed to feel, though.  Today has been rather ordinary in the grand scheme of things.  Slept in awhile.. but i do that every so often anyway.  Had a wonderful lunch with 3 girlfriends.  That happens too, but not as often as the sleeping in thing.  We all have busy lives, and it's hard to put us all together in the same place at the same time.  Came home.. went for a long walk.. worked in our greenhouse for awhile.  Hot out there, but fun 'work'.  S came home from work a few minutes ago, and we are going out for a nice dinner somewhere soon.  No reservations.. nothing fancy schmancy.. but nice and casual.  But we do that fairly often too, so nothing unusual about that.  But because we're both working on the downsizing thing, we're cutting back on the eating out thing.  Have found that we eat far fewer calories when we eat at home.. but that's a different post.  :)  Even though it's been a rather ordinary birthday; it has been very special indeed.  I love my ordinary life and am grateful for it every day of the week and year!  Have always loved having a summertime birthday!  Think the weather has been sparkly and sunshiny for just about every birthday so far.  And if the weather has been 'bad' in the past.. i've blocked it out i guess.  Or the memory is a victim of what i like to call.. my 'selective amnesia'.  :)  One thing that makes a Monday birthday so great is that Monday is 'Antiques Roadshow' Night!  Alas, i shall save that for another post!  Have had many, many awesome birthday greetings today from family and friends.  Every day is more than ordinary because i have so many beautiful people in my life.  And i have many furry, special friends.  Just so you understand, the humans in my life are beautiful, but not furry!

So this evening, when we get home from dinner; it will be a night like every other.  And that is totally okay with me.  S and i will watch some tv together.  I'll read some from one of my many great books.  I'll cuddle with our little furry buggers, and all will be right with the Universe.  Our Universe, anyway.  Can't tell you how wonderful it is to have such a wonderful life, family and friends, and a feeling of security with everything that is going on in the outside world.  There is a lot to be said for 'ordinariness'!  I don't like to hide from the world, and all of its sometimes sad goings on.  But it IS good to seek shelter from it once in awhile..

Now.. out for a little birthday celebration.. but a celebration big enough to befit this year's BIG number 48!

Sincerely yours on this first day of August, Two Thousand Eleven... M

July 31, 2011

Cats, Dogs and Nature Oh My!

So.. i neglected to mention quite a bit in yesterday's 1st blog post!  Therefore, will get right on it.  :)  My partner and i.. let's see.. i'll call him Sebastiano when i refer to him here.  He is, after all, a tall, dark and very handsome, though not Italian man.)  We have four cats who we adore with all our hearts.  Two were adopted from the local Humane Society, and two just 'found' us and decided they wanted to stay with us forever.  You see, i am an animal (all animals, birds, reptiles) lover to the core of my being.  And for the most part, a nature loving.. tree hugging liberal where politics are concerned.  S and myself love to make trips to southern OR and northern CA just to spend quality time with the big trees!  I get sad when i see, as i did yesterday, a train chug by with about 25 cars full of fresh, huge logs that were recently healthy, gorgeous trees.  Definitely not a fan of all those 'logging' shows on the history or discovery channel, etc.  But i won't get started (too much) on that now.  Every once in awhile on these pages you will see a liberal rant or 2, but i'll try to keep those to a minimum.  Although to me, remaining silent about things i feel are wrong in some way, is the same as condoning such things. And the older i get, the harder it is for me to remain silent about anything.  And i mean anything.  I was, once upon a time, a shy, meek and mild individual.  Those days are loooooong gone.  Life is too short to be silent too often.  I try to meditate about 20 minutes a day.  It helps keep me calm and centered.  And i am quiet during those times.  :D  Unless, of course, i decide to chant!

I am, as i maintained in yesterday's post, a voracious reader.  I read 3.. sometimes 4 books at a time.  Not exactly the same time, mind you.  I'm not Wonder Woman.  The 3 i'm currently reading are..

'The Rules of Civility', by Amor Towles
'Death Comes for the Archbishop', by Willa Cather
'A Good Hard Look', by Ann Napolitano

Reviews to come soon!  Occasionally.. or maybe more often than occasionally.. i'll review a book i loved that i read many years ago, or as recently as a year or a few months ago. Sometimes i read children's books because i love the stories and the illustrations.  Love to read glossy magazines like 'Vanity Fair' and 'Vogue'.  The ads are often my favorite things in those.  I find them fascinating!  I also love magazines like 'Orion' and National Geographic'!  I can't get enough of language, pages and stories!  Though i have some guilt when i look at books and realize they're made up of paper.. which is made from trees..  Alas, maybe that will be another post sometime.  Anyway, I'll keep you 'posted'... :)

And i'd also like to mention that the name for this blog was suggested by a well respected and much admired,  (by myself and many others)  former teacher of mine.  Don't know if he wants to be mentioned here, but he knows who he is.  Thank you Mr. S!

Sincerely yours on this last day of July, Two Thousand Eleven..

July 30, 2011

July 30, 2011

Well, here i go.  First blog post ever!  Not sure what i want to say here.. just signed up, and haven't had a chance to collect my thoughts.  Which are many.  Have a gazillion thoughts on books, baking, good food & wine, our 4 cats, our home outside of Portland, OR.  The list goes on and on and...  So this blog will mainly consist of my musings on all manner of subjects.  Whatever i feel like writing at any given time.  And since i don't think in complete sentences, my writing won't always have proper sentence structure.  So there.  Take a red pen to my pages all you want.  Won't faze me a bit!

More often than not, my posts will be about books.  Literary fiction and classics are my favorite reads. Occasionally i enjoy non-fiction or an excellent thriller.  Never 'self-help' books.  Ever.  Not that i don't need help now and then, but i never look in a book for that. I enjoy many first-time novelists, and obscure authors that i'm sure many of you have never heard of.  Hardly ever like books from the usual suspect 'best-seller' lists.  They annoy me.  Sometimes when i'm perusing the shelves in a bookstore or library, and i hear a patron or customer ask for a best seller.. (or a James Patterson or Danielle Steele novel).. wait! those are pretty much 2 and the same, i want to jump up and down and shout..'over here.. over here!  This book is AWESOME!'  But, since i'm not a lunatic, i remain silent.  So i'll be reviewing books often in hopes that someone out there will discover a new author.  Books that i feel sad that people are missing out on....

I also enjoy good food, and like to bake.  Although i'm making a serious effort to downize, so am not baking nearly as often.  Sometimes i use my paternal grandmother's recipes.. or recipes that i've collected myself over the years.  Sometimes i follow 'em to the letter.  Sometimes i tweak 'em a little.  Usually they turn out pretty well, but sometimes my experiments fail miserably.  I also enjoy a good wine every so often.. And i must admit, i experiment there sometimes too.  I buy a wine if i think it has a cool label.  :)  Sometimes that turns out well, sometimes, it doesn't.  So, anyhoo, more on my 2nd post once i've had a time to gather and organize my thoughts a little better..

Sincerely yours..  M...