Friday, December 30, 2011

Here's To The Old and New

The last of this season's long holiday weekends has, at long last, arrived. Just when we're ALL over shopping, holiday feasts, relatives and everything else the winter holidays bring with them we get to celebrate a new year, laying out goals and resolutions... we begin afresh. We can recharge, renew, repurpose ourselves for 2012.
Unlike the Mayans and other select groups who forsaw doom, destruction and the end of civilization as we know it, I disagree. Having read the mayan books it's about the beginning of a new age, not the destruction of the world. What will the booksellers do when 2012 is over? Remember YK2000? OMG, planes were going to fall from the sky, cars were going to careen outta control on the interstates. AND it never materialized, bummer. 
Will there be war, chaos and destuction? I don't know. The end of the world... I'm thinking not.

In a newsletter class, at work, one of the girls yesterday researched the history of New Year's resolutions. I love discovering things I haven't been aware of...  thought I would share this with you.

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.
The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.
What I didn't know about was the exchange of branches and nuts as gifts. Wouldn't that be a memorable gift? What would you do upon receiving this? Get a better circle of friends for one thing- the kind who give coins would be a good place to start. My preferance would be to have Ben Franklin impinted on it, in paper form, just sayin... 
And then... we have THAT song... Auld Lang Syne. Does anyone really get the meaning of this? The original language is Scottish and was composed by (one of my fav Scottish poets) Robert Burns in 1788. Another version by Matthew Fitl predates Burns poetry.  Translated into English auld lang syne can mean once upon a time...

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

And the best part of this Scottish poetry is that it was made popular by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. No wonder Americans can't understand this song! The secret is to listen to a Scottsman sing this traditional Scottish folksong. What do you think?

On this note, I think I'll lift my hand and pre-toast the New Year with a glass of holiday cheer, giving thoughts to old friends and new resolutions.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

blissful solitude

                                                                           upper backyard, 12-27-11

The late afternoon skies are hazy with pockets of clear sunshine casting long shadows. I've had the luxury of not having to be anywhere, not having to meet a deadline, not having to be with people, sheer unadulterated freedom to just be...
And what have I done with that time you ask? Well, I've been outdoors hanging with the outdoor gang.


                                                 Michel's mom Risotto

 Back indoors I watched Johnny Depp as "The Libertine" a spellbinding performance. I love English history; Cromwell, the restoration of Charles II, the plague, the great London fire... Johnny Depp's character is that of the celebated writer and bad boy John Willmont, second Earl of Rochester. He brings to life a decadent 17th century London. The photography is fabulous. Here are some scenes from this historical drama for you to scope out:

 Afterwards, I decided to catch up on reading and began where I left off with Chris Matthews' latest bestseller, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero.

The bright sunlight of a few moments ago is sinking beneath the horizon. The cool temps are dropping as well. It promises to feeze overnight. Jeff will be home in awhile. Our dinner menu du jour is homemade corn chowder served with warm dinner rolls. The house is cozy and warm. It's time to turn on lights and settle into evening mode with CNN... 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our fam's pre-Christmas Eve celebration

So yesterday, in-between holiday adventures, I attempted to blog. And for the first time ever... the blog refused, absolutely refused to cooperate.
I was telling of our pre-Christmas Eve celebration at Sam & Amanda's.
Sam cheffed up a fab fish chowder from fish he had caught in Pacific Cove while Amanda & I shopped at Save Mart where she lept like a gazelle through aisleway after aisleway with our mobility challanged cart.
Dave, Erin, Zach & Emma had arrived by the time we got back to the house as dusk began to fall. Inside was cheerfully festive as the Christmas tree lights were lit and a fire going in the pellet stove.
Aims zapped up a round of Southern Comfort eggnogs. While Sam continued working on his chowder we munched on shrimp and cheese platters along with crab stuffed mushrooms.
Dave ever on the look out for good recipes snapped the chowder recipe from the kitchen laptop with his Iphone. Always thinking.
Sam's chowder was to die for... I think it's one of the best chowders I've ever tasted... served up with French bread and crackers.

          After dinner Aims, Erin & Emma handed out Christmas gifts

After all the gifts had been opened dessert followed. Erin had made chocolate chip crossants paired with Pig Stai (my fav) port wine and hazelnut flavored coffee. A perfect pre-Christmas Eve celebration.

Kenny Loggins, Celebrate Me Home. 

the morning after Christmas

...and ALL is quiet thoughout the house. Jeff tooled downtown this morning returning with a box of donuts including my fav... which is a buttermilk donut-- that tastes and looks just like a portuguese filhous donut. Divine yummy goodness beyond words.
While I'm blogging, Jeff is in the living room multi-tasking; browsing through one of his Christmas books, while on his cell phone, catching up with his mom about holiday festivities.
Today promises to be a kick back day after... well, except for the part where I have to go in shopping for a new camera. Who breaks their camera on Christmas Day? That would be me, well, actually, it was Moose (who knocked it off of the top shelf of the baker's rack. A freak accident). Fortuneately, our holiday pics had already been taken.
WE enjoyed a very low key Christmas which was just right for us this year. We read, watched TV and had a delicious prime rib with roasted veggies; potatoes, carrots, parsnips & brussel sprouts. Dessert: warm mincemeat pie with whipped cream while watching When Harry Met Sally.
Which leads us slowly into our New Year's celebration which is also Jeff's birthday. Then a breather in-between holidays.

I've always liked my birthday because at the beginning of December as I have a whole season to look foward to... many days... not just one. Which I happen to think is pretty darn cool.
It's time to dash out into the world to search for a new camera... I am still recouping from my last shopping adventure with Amanda late Friday afternoon. Save Mart was packed to the rafters with holiday shoppers. Amanda, by luck of the draw, chose a cart that could neither roll nor be pushed. She was either running from behind to gain momentum or running past it to catch the front to pull it... all at breakneck speed as she loathes holiday shoppers and was in a hurry to get out of the market while I gamely gimped slowly behind- which took it's toll (but I don't have to be anywhere in particular and that is a blessing). Actually, the visual of Amanda tag-teaming the cart lingers and makes me laugh outloud as it was really funny to watch and even funnier in remembering.
Moving onward... I've dashed out and back and have my new camera in my hot little paws. It's just like my camera that broke except I can download/upload to youtube, facebook, etc. Pretty sweet...

                               James Garner, Polaroid 1-step, 1979 camera commecial.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cheer

                                                                                Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Tori Amos

Christmas... 2 days away and counting. I finished wrapping Zach's gifts this morning after Jeff left for work.
Chatted with Amanda who was up until midnight wrapping gifts, doing laundy and working out on the treadmill  thanks to an energy drink she had sipped at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and a Southern Comfort eggnog.
SO very Amanda!
Also chatted with Erin who told me their Christmas story from yesterday. She, Dave & Emma are getting over colds. Zach was released from ER with an inhaler for his asthma (he couldn't breathe when she took him in earlier in the week). Erin told the kids that they were all going to nap (herself included). They were lying down when Phoenix began to whimper. Emma came into the master bedroom to tell Ein that there was a deer lying down in their driveway. Erin looked out of the dining room windows that overlook the gravel driveway to see a LARGE buck lying down with an arrow between his shoulder blades. She called Animal Control to only receive the answering machine. She then called the sherriff. He responded that they had been following this buck and would be over. By the time he arrived the buck had stumbled to his feet and sauntered over to the next door neighbor's yard. He gave Erin a card with his name on should the buck return. Erin and the kids returned to lie down for their naps when Phoenix began to whimper again. Getting up, Erin looked out the dining room windows again to see the buck had returned and was lying back down in their driveway. She called the sherriff back who arrived a few minutes later with animal control, etcetera. All these agencies gathered round while the buck stood up and shot him... with a tranquilizer dart which caused the buck to dramitically fall in slow motion to the ground.  They then were able to pull the arrow out. It was only a superficial wound and did no harm to the buck, who later stood up, and wandered away to his family who had scattered after everyone had arrived on scene. Emma then whispered to Erin... that wasn't one of Santa's reindeers was it?

Amanda will be over in awhile to pick me up as she & Sam are hosting our annual family Menezes pre-Christmas eve celebration at their home this evening. Jeff will join us after he gets off work as well as Dave & Erin with Emma and Zach when Dave gets off work. 


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Adventure & Other Imperfect Moments

It is a textbook Sunday morning; blue skies, sunshine, cool autumn temps with a slight breeze. Comcast arrived earlier this AM. While Jeff delt with Broadband being installed, I hunkered down in the master bedroom with a cup of coffee in hand and got caught up with Sunday Morning, Rizzolli & Isles and Covert Affairs on the DVR.

Afterwards, Jeff and I tooled over to Angels Market where I selected the dinner menu as I am the chef du jour. And picked up a few miscellaneous grocey items to carry us though mid-week.
Tonight's dinner menu is:  Sauteed lemon pepper chicken breasts seasoned with fresh thyme & tarragon and herbs du provence served up with some of my fav roasted root veggies; potatoes, brussel sprouts, baby carrots & red bell peppers. Desset: Banana cream pie.

Jeff is napping, his one day off a week goes by way too quickly. So, while he naps I have movie maker projects to create and post.Jounals to catch up on... guess I should get started.

                                                                                              Carolina in The Morning, Al Jolson


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Run, Run Rudolph

                                              What Child Is This? Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Bilge

OMG! It's the holiday season. How did it get here so quickly? This year for the first year in ages I am running behind schedule. I always have my Christmas shopping done by the end of July, always... and yet, not so much this year. In fact, not at all. But, I have discovered really cool and wonderful gifts for everyone. I have gotten ALL of my Christmas shopping done this week.
I was up early with Jeff before he toddled off to work wrapping and bagging gifts so that I can spend the rest of my day blogging and movie making, the laundry and NOT so fun weekend household chores have been done.
Well, almost all.  I've been going through closets, drawers and closet shelves gathering up clothing to donate. I wanted to make sure I got them all. So, I have heaps (and I mean heaps) of clothing in my writing room. I thought what a good spot to put these items. Along with other accessory items I want to get rid of. Jeff arrives home last night and cheerfully announces that he called Comcast and they will be out Sunday (tomorrow) to hardwire the DSL. This is exciting... the drawback, everything I've heaped is in the room where they will be hardwiring and exactly where they need to be to hardwired! Seriously???
PM: Continuing where I left off... Jeff arrived home and he took over the room and it's looking pretty sharp. I had sorted through and bagged clothing to be donated, et al. Mission accomplished!
Before Jeff arrived home I spent the afternoon running through the house like a crazed reindeer on fire... alternating between laundering clothes, watching The Good Wife on our DVR and reading. Just began a new book that I've been wanting to read for several months, How Shall I Tell The Dog? and other final musings, written by Miles Kington, the prolific and celebrated British humor writer, who joined the staff of Punch in 1967 at the age of 26 later becoming it's Literary Editor. In 1981, he began writing a column in the London Times, and six years later joined The Independent, where he wrote a daily column for the next 22 years. The last column he wrote appeared on the day of his death from pancreatic cancer. This book is a humorous collection of ficticious letters to his agent. A really wonderful read... upbeat and funny. Who knew cancer could make you laugh?

Last Saturday my fav girls; Erin, Amanda, Emma, Landie and I celebrated my birthday at Grounds in Murphys- it was really a lot of fun.  While waiting for Erin and Emma I popped in next door to girlfriend Susan's bookstore and browsed about.  Amanda and Landie were attending a holiday craft fair at Landie's school. Sitting with Erin and Emma she sang (Lady Gaga's) paparazzi lyrics to me.  And, following in the tradition of The Elf On The Shelf, she told me about letters containing pertinent questions to Santa that she has been writing as she needs answers. Inquiring minds wanna know. Amanda and Landie arrived. Landie wearing the new scarf she had created for herself at the fair- which was very cool, actually Here's a look at our day:  

After the park Erin and Emma were headed to 1 of 2 birthday parties that Emma was attending. I followed Amanda and Landie back to Copper where we hung out and took pics before I left for home about an hour or so later.

                                                     Landie & Cricket

                     Landie pulling out the sold sign on my property. She then dragged it out of sight.

                                                      Sam & Cammanche

                Landie had dragged the sign to the Chicken coop. It was hilarious! Have it on video.


                                                   Brownie, Amanda's hen.

                                                Leaving Copper on Little John.

                                              The new Copper Town Square.

Monday, December 5, 2011

birthday bliss

Jeff kick started my Sunday birthday celebration with a box of donuts from our local bakery. I chose the chocolate/custard bar to have with freshly brewed Kona coffee... yummy.

Stuffy was under the misconception that my gifts were meant for him. The fact that he can't read (to my knowledge) didn't deter him from claiming possession. Notice him turning a deaf ear when being asked to move?

Bird Cloud is the name Annie Proulx gave to the 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and four-hundred foot cliffs plunging down to the North Platte River- home to pelicans, bald eagles, golden eagles, great blue herons, ravens, blue birds, harriers, kestrels, elk, deer and antelope. She fell in love with the property, then owned by the Nature conservancy, and knew what she wanted to build on it- a house in harmony with her work, her appetites and her character, a library surrounded by bedrooms and a kitchen (love the way she thinks!). This is her first book of non-fiction in 20 years. It's the story about contructing the house, it's enthralling natural history and archaeology of the region- inhabited for milennia by Ute, Arapaho and Shoshone Indians- and a family history, going back to nineteenth-century Mississippi riverboat captains and canadian settlers.

I love this Hallmark classic and am SO excited to have it in book form. Basically, the story is this: Emily Springer is a widowed mother of one, decides to leave Leavenworth, Washington, to spend Christmas with her daughter in Boston. Charles Brewster, history professor, curmudgeon and resident of Boston, wants to avoid Christmas altogher. He figures a prison town should be nice and quiet over the holidays-- except he's thinking of the wrong Levenworth!
Through an internet site, Charles and Emily arrange to swap houses for the holiday. So Emily goes to Boston- and discovers that her daughter has gone to Florida. And Charles arrives in Leavenworth to discover that it's not the prison town- it's Santa's village! The place is full of Christmas trees, Christmas music and elves.
Meanwhile, Emily's friend Faith Kerrigan travels to Leavenworth to visit her and instead finds Charles the grinch. Then Charles's brother, Ray, shows up at his home in Boston to discover the he isn't there-but Emily is. Through all the mix-ups and misunderstandings, amid the chaos and confusion, romance begins to emerge in unexpected ways. Because everything changes at Christmas.
The book was originally named When Christmas Comes back in 2004, but Hallmark wanted another name... the charaters are great, there's a runaway lobster (if there is a lobster in the story I'm there. My fav Annie Hall scene is the kitchen lobster scene.  In Julie & Julia, again the lobster scene) the dialogue is fast paced and funny.

Our afternoon appetizer was crab marinated in white wine w/ cilantro as a garnish. Jeff and I laughed as we prepared it, as when he picked up the crabs at the market, no one knew how to crack and clean the crabs. Jeff told them how to do it and we laughed as he told me the story of how the first time he had to do this was when he was a sous chef at the old Poker Flat resort. It was his first day, a case of crabs arrived fresh from San Francisco and he had 90 minutes to prep them before the restaurant opened-- good times, no doubt.
Dinner was sirloin steak w/ oven baked potatoes. After we had finished dinner and the dishes were put away, we hunkered down in the living room to watch, Have A Little Faith on Hallmark.
In the morning I had begun reading Joan Didion's Blue Nights.  While Jeff watched TV in the master bedroom, I curled up under the comforters and finished reading it before going to sleep.
All in all, it was a lovely, low key day-- just what I needed as I haven't been feeling top-notch. I hadn't wanted a large celebration, I didn't want to be out and about socializing I just wanted to be... and I achieved that.  It's going to be a fabulous year filled with many blessings to discover.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Now & Zen notes

No Diggity, Black Street w/ Dr. Dre & Queen Pen

                                                           What It's Like, Everlast

                                                           Put Your Lights On, Santana

                                                                  Landslide, Stevie Nicks

What is one of the most amazing things about the sounds of music? The answer would be that the sound of a song can transport you anywhere. It can mentally take you back to where you were when you heard it, sometimes over decades. That's what the above songs have in common. These are some of my favs that Dave, Tara, Amanda and I listened to as they grew up and still rock out to today. 
Last year on our family get-away to Santa Cruz, to celebrate my birthday, we stayed up until the early morning hours playing songs that we loved and had great memories of. Dave, Erin, Aims, Sam & I hung out in the living room/kitchen area sipping wine (Jeff and the kids had long since went to bed) telling stories,laughing, listening to music. Each song brought with it a story that led into another story. These videos are 4 of those songs.

This year I wanted a low key birthday. Just being home with nothing in particular on tap. It's a lovely morning, still dark. The central heat is on and lights are on throughout the house creating a warm, intimately cozy ambience. The indoor gang and Anna Chan are in the kitchen enjoying their breakfast. Jeff is asleep. The house has a contented, peaceful solitude that is present in early morning hours when the rest of the world isn't yet awake. Today is going to be filled with reading, catching up on my DVR recordings, hanging out with Jeff and no doubt a few surprises. It's time for coffee and I hear Jeff stirring about the house... time to greet the day.

holiday merriment & other abbrieviated thoughts

                                                         The Most Wonderful Gift, Hallmark

Trading Christmas, Hallmark

Where to start blogging this holiday season? I am already behind speed. I think I am still hovering somewhere late in November, around Thanksgiving. I left off just as we went on our Thanksgiving holiday get-away weekend that was just everything we thought it would be and more. Anna Chan thoroughly enjoyed her doggy spa adventure with us. When we arrived at "the Cottage" waiting for Anna in the dining room was a plush puppy bed.  A few steps away, in the kitchen, Anna had puppy treats in a puppy bowl for her- she was a very pampered girl.  The owners are very pet oriented. I have tons of pics to share, but they will have to wait for my new lap top as my computer is just, well... done with me.  
WE had a very cozy albeit belated Thanksgiving at home. Amanda dropped Landie off. Then tooled off to work at the winery (still having pneumonia). Dave & Erin, Emma and Zach joined us for a lovely day. Jeff loves Thanksgiving, I think it's his fav holiday. So, he took over kitchen duties and turned out a fab luncheon. Dessert: pumpkin pie/whipped cream and Tiramisu cake. Landie left with Emma to bunk overnight at uncle Dave's and auntie Erin's house.
  Later in the evening Sammy dropped off fresh crab that he had caught while crabbing with his uncle. Does Thanksgiving get any better than this? I think not.
Jeff and I hunkered down in the living room (with a glass of wine) to watch the 2 above movies on Hallmark which made for just the most relaxing day, everything was casual, kicked back and absolutely wonderful.

Dido, Thank You. I've always loved this song and still crank it up.