Friday, December 26, 2014


Holey socks! It just occurred to me that this is my mother’s birthday. The Writer’s almanac reminded me that today is St. Stephen’s Day – he of Good King Wenceslaus looking out on the Feast of Stephen.  
Mom has been gone almost 20 years, and I still miss her terribly. Not just for her presence in my life, but these past few years for the answers to so many family history questions. 

I do have other photos of my mom, ones in better condition, but her smile in this one pleases me the most. It is one I remember best. She was perhaps 20 here. Not bad for an old lady!

Happy Birthday Mom, if ever you are wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



It’s very handy to have Blogger count things for me. They do say I’ve just four followers, but I know that they don’t count the ones who get my blog by email. They say my most popular blog is A Hairy Tale. Why that one would be so popular is beyond me, but there it is. They’ve counted the ‘hits’ on my blog since I started near the end of 2010. On Saturday, that count hit 57,000. Amazing - at least it is to me.

When I started blogging, I followed over a dozen other bloggers, most of whom posted every single day. Now only one posts every day – the gal who has been posting every day, sometimes more than once a day, for nine years. Many now post only sporadically, some have even stopped blogging altogether. I believe that for most of them, as it is for me, posting on a regular schedule has almost become a chore, probably because blogging has led them to other things that are beginning to take up more of their time. Getting to a blog is so easily forgotten.

Blogger says this will be my 400th posting. Four hundred! A lovely number! I must admit that I have re-posted several pertinent essays, but always with revisions or up to date comments so they don’t get stale. I admit to posting less frequently than when I began. I once posted two or three times a week. Now, I usually post only once, but always at least once a week. I hope to keep up with this schedule I've set for myself.

Thank you to all my loyal, supportive readers – you know who you are, and, more importantly, I know who you are too! Zen Hugs to you all.


Friday, December 19, 2014


What better way to welcome Christmas week than with a bunch of red. I went tiptoeing through Google Images and found more red than I could have imagined.

Red – can you imagine what targets those Redcoats were for the homespun-clad American revolutionaries?  Red – what would we do without it in “the red, white, and blue”? Red – “Better red than dead”, but that’s a thing of the past. “What’s black and white and red all over?” See red. See red and stop. See red and stop all this nonsense.

Corey Amaro's poppies

And speaking of poppies, here are
many more  - 888,246 of them - and Red coats too.

Ah, the permutations of red: cardinal, carmine crimson, ruby, poppy, not to mention fire engine, rust, barn, and blood. Lots of shades of difference there. Then we go to the salmons and magentas and pinks – but no, we won’t go there. We’ll stick to red.

Red is now my favorite color. Once it was purple, and though I am still quite partial to purple and all its shades, red is now it.  In her old age, my grandmother always wanted a red Jag-u-are. I can just see that silver-haired gal tootling along the highways in something like that – something much snazzier than her staid, white Nash. Today I know exactly how she felt: I want my very own 2012 SLS-AMG Mercedes Benz – in red. It’s Christmas time – I do think everyone in the family should chip in and get one for me.

 p.s. - here are some more of the pictures I collected for the RED article:

The Duchess of Cambridge. What? You didn't recognize her?


Cardinals of another sort - but not of a different color.

And I am unanimous in this!

For more on color see Roy G. Biv.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014



I had a small laugh this morning, and a great sense of “I’m glad I’m not young anymore.”  This morning’s BBC Headlines email, one always full of interesting topics, offered this one: “At the office, who gets a gift?”

Awkward at work: from bosses to colleagues, who to buy for and what to give at the holidays.” That was the topic of the BBC article. Boy, they have every situation covered. Times sure have changed sing I was in the work force. I was lucky to be able to retire in 1980, way before the holiday season ‘traditions’ got way out of hand. I never had these problems. I do know the big boss gave always gave a lovely present to his secretary. I know she never gave one to him. None of the rest of us ever had to think about giving or receiving – and receiving can be just as fraught with problems.

Christmas at the bank consisted first of getting out the hundreds of Christmas Club checks in November – a real chore in the days before we computerized the process. Soon there were tasteful decorations in the public areas of the bank. Profit-sharing bonuses came next. (Oh, the stories I could tell about that time of year, and who wailed and moaned because they expected more, and who already had it spent.) In mid-December we were treated to a lovely dinner with our spouses and significant others, though then we didn’t call them that then, at a wonderful local restaurant. Every one of us looked forward to that dinner because the menu was basically the same, and delicious, every year. Oh, I remember the lobster bisque was divine, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. For dessert we always had the big boss’s favorite: Peach Melba. But I digress!

Gifts? Not really like it is today. The salesman for one of the companies that printed checkbooks always gave elegant gifts to all the platform secretaries. They, of course, were the ones who handled account openings and could direct sales. This man himself was elegant. Dressed handsomely, drove an elegant open saloon car. When I was a teller, I loved to seem him arrive at the bank. My window faced the front door, and that’s where he usually parked. I even remember his name after all these years. But I’ve digressed again!


Perhaps a depositor customer would bring in a box of candy or a plate of cookies. Perhaps the Head Teller got a few personal gifts. And, of course, the bank gave out those little desk calendars – almost useless, but hey, they were a freebie. But that was the extent of gifts at the office. I suppose some real go-getter somewhere started the gift giving circus. Perhaps it was happening all those years and I was lucky to work where I did. I’m really glad I’m not young any more.

Friday, December 12, 2014


On December 6, I read in The Writer’s Almanac, that it was the date of the first publishing of the Washington Post and the Encyclopædia Britannica.  The year for the Washington Post was 1877. That’s an impressive run. But the Britannica started, one section a week, in 1768. Now that’s really impressive.

One of my mother’s working mottoes was “When in doubt, check it out.” She did keep a large dictionary on the shelf right by her place at the kitchen table. That was our handy-dandy reference for Scrabble games played right there. (And I still remember my brother’s brilliant use of his letters: ‘quipu’. By jingo netties, there was such a word!)  Otherwise, if something came up in daily conversation she’d just give us ‘the look’ and we knew we had to get up and go check it out. In our home we had quite a nice library where we could find the answers to most questions. Atlases, thesauri, things like Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations or Bullfinch’s Mythology, even an Emily post, and, of course, the Encyclopædia Britannica. (Spellcheck doesn’t like ‘encyclopædia’, but it’s Brit therefor it is encyclopædia. So there!)  I believe my parents purchased their set of the Britannica shortly after their marriage in 1939. I purchased my own set, on time of course, in the late 1960’s when I moved in to my own digs. I had that set for ages.

Today, of course, it’s Wikipedia. What would I do without it? Much as my mother did with her dictionary in the kitchen, I keep my backup laptop right by my chair in the living room. When we want further information on something intriguing on the TV, I can bring up Wikipedia and learn more. I consult it almost every day. I think my fingers would be raw if I had to do as much flipping through the Britannica or other references. December is the month where folks with inquiring minds like mine are asked to donate to keep Wikipedia’s pages advertisement free. I’ll drink to that! Anything to get to one of the few and far-between websites without those annoying ads. And I’ll donate too – as I’ve already done this month. Why don’t you go and make a donation too?

I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘section’, but my favorite volume of my parents’ Britannica was always Musk-Ozon. Don’t ask me why I remember that particular volume, but I do. Perhaps because, to me, musk was a funny word – as in “What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!”

Friday, December 5, 2014


Orange you glad I'm reposting this one from 2012? Of course you are! I stocked up this morning on our favorite brand of orange juice - Florida's Natural, in case you're interested - and had a brief thought that I should write about orange juice. Then I recalled that I had already written a blog about oranges. See that!?

Behold the orange.  Orange by color, orange by name.

Orange from the Spanish naranja. Naranja is a very bold, strong word.  In French it is orange, but pronounced with a French twist.  In Italian it is arancia. In German and Norwegian we sense a bit of confusion with some other fruit: apfelsine, and appelsin. 

I must admit that orange juice is one of my comfort foods. As with eggs (usually several dozen) and cheese (several varieties) and onions (no cook should ever run out of onions) - and always some bacon or ham - my fridge is always overstocked with orange juice. Doesn’t that all suggest to you that breakfast is my favorite meal?  Honestly, I could have breakfast any time of day. 

Orange, our favorite citrus fruit, blends with most flavors - not with pea soup of course, but only think about pairing it, even in a small way, with things like steak or a chop, chicken, fish, or maybe shrimp, and the idea isn’t repulsive at all.  Of course orange goes with sweets of all kinds.  Next to the wild cherry, my favorite Life Saver is orange. You’ve noticed, of course, that the Life Saver folks canned the lemon and lime in their five flavor roll in favor of raspberry and watermelon – but they didn’t touch the orange!  Oh, they tried for a while to replace it with blackberry, but it didn’t do too well and the orange was quickly brought back out of retirement.


And, speaking of candy, do you remember from eons ago when relatives would bring back from Florida those miniature wooden orange crates with the tangy orange candies inside?  I’ve even got an even tinier orange crate for my silver charm bracelet.  I do love oranges – in any form.

One of the nicest ways to eat an orange is to peel and slice it, remove any pits, arrange it nicely on a plate, and sprinkle it with lots of sugar.  That’s how my Mom sometimes prepared them for us, and we thought it was just elegant.  Food memories are good memories.

I once heard it said that you could live nicely on a diet of milk, chocolate and oranges. Not that there’d be much crunch there.  I once went on the Atkins regime and I really missed crunch. I think I’d have to add some walnuts or pecans, but the diet does have an appeal.  There would be all the necessary things like protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all that.  I can visualize myself enjoying this diet while stranded on a desert isle - with proper hut and hammock of course - after my one-woman cargo ship, carrying the requisite food stuffs and a small library’s worth of books, had foundered on a nearby coral reef.  I say if you’re going to dream, dream up a good one.

Does an orange a day keep the doctor away?  Couldn’t hurt! How ‘bout an orange in every Christmas stocking? Orange you glad I wrote this essay?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


In December I will be a baubled bangled Christmas tree
 with soup bowls draped all over me.
     Merry once
     merry twice
            merry chicken soup with rice.

In this month's Chicken Soup With Rice, Maurice Sendak's idea isn't so far-fetched to me.  At a museum exhibit of Christmas trees I once saw a fabulous tree laden with dozens of different tea cups. No saucers, just the cups. Picture them tied on to the branches with matching ribbons, and all these interspersed with glass balls of different colors, and lots of little white lights. It was spectacular.