Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Sunday (and I am finished with that damned book) Cup


The weekend has been exactly like this.

Wow...just wow!

The long awaited sequel to The Shining: Dr. Sleep   

Exploring the psychological damage to Dan Torrance's life as a result of that terrible winter in The well as a reappearance by Mrs. Massey from Room 217 (...the tub lady...)  An in-depth look at both alcoholism and AA (both of which King is intimately familiar with from his own fact The Shining was written in his own words- in an alcoholic haze)  Time is measured by Presidents in office...The Peanut Farmer...The Hollywood Actor...The Saxophone Player...The Cowboy...The Black President.  King has always been "self-referential" in his novels...but this one took it to another level as he cross-referenced from Joe Hill's NOS4A2 with Charlie Manx's character and allusions to Christmasland.  Introducing Abra (who shines stronger than anyone he has ever met) and Rose the Hat and The One True Knot who travel the country in Winnebago’s and Journey's abducting children who shine...and killing them to gather their own strength.

To share a bit of another review

"King has long had a penchant for turning Americana against us — the family dog in Cujo, the vintage hot rod of Christine — and here he rolls out a caravan of RVs filled with a malevolent group of ancient travellers called The True Knot "

Just can't say enough about this book.  Completely engrossing. If you enjoyed The Shining you are going to LOVE this! Look for this to be made into a movie...already casting it in my mind. besides the book...

Excellent week. Loretta and I have begun her journey into learning to navigate a computer and join the traffic on the Information Super-Highway...although for now we are firmly in the breakdown lane...maybe with training wheels.  But first things first and she now knows how log in to the library computer using her card and to use e-mail and set up her own g-mail account.
 We will explore further next week.

Lillian...back from Russia and sharing some amazing photos.

Tracy...back from Kenya (and worrying us so much until she was able to fly out of Narobi) and sharing her travels with us.

And Janine...still lounging in Rome promising she is bringing me back a stone from Tuscany!

Yeah...I am easy to please. Collecting the World one rock at a time :)

Celebrating Che's 15th Birthday complete with GTA5 and reminding "Idgy" that he is now old enough for his Learner's Permit.
 *GASP* When the hell did THAT happen???
(...probably around the same time he reached almost 6 feet tall and is wearing a size 14 tennis shoe...hon...)

And Brunch and Chat with Loretta and Judi and Sharon.

And a wonderful visit from my Eldest son, and Nikki and my new "grand-bump", and my youngest grandson, Brenden. 

 And playing in the garden-spot...dead-heading and collecting seeds for next year.

But mostly reading Dr. Sleep. 


Thanks Lisa! 
You're the best.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Cupful of Stephen King

 Yeah...yeah...can't cook or clean or talk or write or sleep...or even blog.

The long awaited sequel to The Shining...Danny Torrance...grown up...and the line which says it all

There were three survivors of The Overlook. 
Only the child was unhurt.                                                                                     
              Physically, that is.

Picked the first copy up from the library late yesterday...about 1/3 of the way in now and completely absorbed.

I LOVE that King did his release in perfect. 

Just a quick note to say (thusfar) it is outstanding. Should have it done by Sunday...will catch up on the week and have a review then.

Have a great weekend...I'll be reading :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Afternoon Cup of "Teavana"

Celebrating Fall yesterday when a knock on the door opened a portal to a whole new "Tea Experience"

The package containing a square box in autumnal colours and inside a hand-painted ceramic lidded mug with an interior ceramic infuser...a small round spoon proclaiming to produce the perfect cup of tea and a separate bag containing loose peach flavoured chunky and aromatic it could have been potpourri. Good things arrive in boxes :)  Thank you, Shirley! Loved the photos, too.

Introducing "Teavana".

With shops scattered as near as Greenwood and as far flung as Key West. "Teavana" is the last word in tea experiences.

                                                       White Peach Tea

                                              One perfect scoop

Immediately took a break to try my first cup.

A rounded scoop of the fragrant tea placed in the inner ceramic liner (infuser) nested in the mug (the infuser fits the entire cup)...followed by a tablespoon of honey as a sweetener and a cup of boiling water. I replaced the lid and let it steep for 5 minutes.  The room was immediately filled with the smell of fresh warm peaches. At the end of five minutes I removed the infuser and took a sip of possibly the finest tea I have ever tasted.

I am completely sold and immediately went online to see if they shipped the loose tea.

 (THEY DO!) 

Sat out early this morning, enjoying a cup al fresco with Tucker...and it would seem that the yellow jackets are quite keen on the fresh peach scent as well.

So is a link

Mug available in asssorted sizes,shapes and colours.

Tea available in herb, flavored, specialty blends, blossom, black, white and oolong.

Check it out!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Cup of Fall

Soaking up the first day of FALL...

Enjoying my first cup of cocoa this morning with my "fluffed up" feline on the patio, as the golden morning rays warmed up still chilly "smells-like-woodsmoke" air. Dropped to 55 last night and several of the nearby trees are beginning to turn.

For me, Fall is as good as it can possibly get. I love the sweater weather...the bonfires...the cocoa...caramel apples and pumpkins...orchards and cider...the smell of the fallen leaves...the whole deal. Looking forward to the first pot of "Grandpa's Chili" and already have a pot of soup beans bubbling with a bit of onion and real butter and an iron skillet of cornbread baking. The sweet tea is in the fridge getting cold. And there is jam to smear on the cornbread for afters.

Arranged a basket of silks in harvest colours for the table and the seasonal decorating (inside and out). By the middle of October my patio will resemble a wander through Brown County with baskets and sunflowers...Bittersweet hanging, tied in bunches with raffia or woven into dried grapevine wreaths.

The yellows of September slowly taking on the bright orange and crimsons of October.

Saving some of the bright orange Bittersweet seeds to see if I can get my own vines started next season. Also looking at bulbs to tuck in later :)

Spent an altogether wonderful afternoon "playing in the dirt" tidying the garden-spot and flowerbeds once more for the Mums arrival next week. Also looking at one of the free-standing bronze-coloured bowl fire-pits. Spent last Fall without a bonfire...not this year!

Ended up taking sitting outside and having an al fresco dinner which felt just like the "cornbread and beans" suppers at Mansfield without the crowds.

All in all...a perfect Fall Day!

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Evening Cup...and introducing my new "Grandbump"

First things first...

Exciting news and the first official photograph of my new "grandbump" due in late April/Early May.

(...or maybe a lima bean...)
The new parents-to-be happy...excited...maybe a bit scared...a little overwhelmed...and (her) CRAVING  Well, I don't know how much I can do about the other stuff...but I can definitely bake up something deliciously pumpkin! Too early to know whether it is a he bump or a she bump...but it will be loved no matter!

The week filled with "friends" travel...and those of us (back from the PA Gathering) but not on the Road are vicariously enjoying Lillian's travels in Russia.


And Tracy's trip to see Rosaline in Kenya

(postscript: ...and a somewhat scary update from her today as she is 3 miles from Westfield Mall in Nairobi...but flights are not cancelled as of home Tracy!)


And Sharon who is cutting grapes in Italy

And Janine who is also on holiday in Italy by Lake Como


So the rest of us have or morning coffee and chat and are enjoying their beautiful photographs and hearing about their amazing adventures. And planning our own.

Paula has already started organizing a mini-gathering in New Orleans next April and Lillian will be one of our host at the Fourth DS Gathering in Colorado next October.  Dave has already starting saving beer funds to join us. England's economy may tank. Oh and Dave...I finally screwed up the courage to try that Chip Butty on a Blaa.  Very nice. (...could use bacon and cheese...) Recipe to follow.

 That Adkin's Diet fellow would have fallen over dead...if he hadn't already been. Nothing like all your carbs for...oh...the week on one lovely roll!

The Fast Diet is going well. Actually look forward to my weigh-ins. That is something new!

And went Kindle (ing) this week on Amazon in their Free Classic Section...which (for me) is kind of like being turned loose in Barnes and Noble with an unlimited prepaid gift card. OMG...Frost and Keats and Emerson and Thoreau...Dickinson and Freud and Kant...Nietzsche and Karl Marx...and a short story by Kurt Vonnegut that through the years I must have missed...entitled 2BR02B which if you love Vonnegut you must stop right this very minute and find it and read it. It is THAT good.

So after an hour and 133 free items of Classic literature later  (and I only made it through the first 100 pages of classic stuff out there...there's 300 pages of stuff left. It is amazing!

Yes. Needless to say the Kindle is growing on me :)

The Classic Read this week: Charles Baudelaires- Les Fleurs du Mal  (...Flowers of Evil...) written in the original French (and transcribed as well)  If you haven't given this book of poems a've truly missed something amazing.

And a revisit to one of my all time favourite classics...Steinbeck's:  Grapes of Wrath- which I now own (both in leather and digital).

And the Chip Butty?

And a Blaa.

When Dave returned home he was singing praises of this "Pub Treat" and the rest of us were somewhere between baffled and repulsed. It's definitely an English thing. Undaunted he continued. If we would only try one. So one non-fasting day I decided to take the plunge...and all in all it wasn't nearly as I thought. With a few strips of bacon and a bit of cheddar cheese it could be elevated to amazing.

Without further ado...

Chip Butty on a Blaa

(Note: A Waterford Blaa is a bit like our yeast roll)


One Waterford Blaa (or large yeast roll split)

Chips are what we (In the States) refer to as French Fries
Our chips are called crisps over there.

Ketchup (or mayo..or malt vinegar)

Open roll...arrange a large layer of chips (fries) salt to taste and drizzle with ketchup (or alternative condiment). 

And I am still thinking a bit of bacon and some cheddar would really dress it up, mate!

There...who said the internet isn't educational. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Cup of Crazy

Just so you don't think I'm over-reacting...Charles Manson recently refused to comment when asked what he thought about certain "current events" in the United States because (direct quote)   

                                     "It's all just too f**ked up for me, man."
So...there you have it.

How insane does it all have to be for "Charlie" to proclaim it too crazy. 

From a gunman in Washington Naval Yard opening fire to a civilian running from a severe wreck...only to have a door slammed in his face...911 called...and the police showing up and shooting HIM...two unrelated incidents of infants being shot (point blank) during robberies...and two other of an Australian college student and an 88 year old war veteran being killed because the teens involved were BORED...A mother who recently killed her two young children over a custody dispute...A newly wed who killed her husband of eight days by shoving him off a cliff...and on a lesser but still related note...the nasty...rude...aggressive misinformed attacks on the recently crowned Miss America (...who although she descended from East Indian's is a NATURAL BORN American Citizen)...or the disparaging remarks concerning Miss Kansas' tattoo.

What does this all have in common, you ask?

 In my opinion...the Kansas and Miss New York hatred and ugly ignorant comments are just the tip of the iceberg of a much bigger problem in the United States today...and the angry teens and men or women who are killing spouses, children, families and strangers are the culmination of that very same problem.

 Bear with me.

The lines between civilization and completely uncivilized behaviour are increasingly blurring. Spend five minutes on any open forum (about anything) then tell me I am wrong. We are a nation divided into camps. Firmly entrenched. We are angry. Some of us don't even know what the hell we are angry about. Others parrot the latest Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore observations. More and more we feel powerless. More often that not we are being told how powerless we are. We are starting to look at civility as weakness. We don't just disagree with our politicians (either side) we ridicule them. Attack our Country from within. And are so angry. 

And, of course, we have people on the outside whipping that anger into a frenzy.

And the greed. And the Waste.


The Christians ~vs~ The Muslims

The Blacks ~vs~ The Whites

The Straight~vs~ The Gays

United We Stand...The Melting Pot of The World? 

(you're joking...right)

Is it any surprise that our young people become nihilistic?
Is is any surprise that the "fringe" in our society SNAP?

People so close to the edge that "one more thing" just sets them across that invisible line from rational behaviour to headline news.

And I do have
              The Answer.

It is not going to fix everything for everyone forever.
A laudable Mission Statement...but no.

It will change a life. 

Your life.

 My life.

 Our lives.

 And maybe like ripples in a pond we can spread civility and positivity and lovingkindness  and compassion in much the same way we have allowed ourselves to be sucked into this downward spiral.

So here is what we will do.

For 24 hours we are going to stop complaining. About EVERYTHING.

For 48 hours we are going to look around us and notice all the GOOD that is already in our lives...and we are going to be grateful for EVERYTHING we DO have instead of worrying/whining/wishing for something more.

For 72 hours we are going to realize GRATITUDE for all those things that either haven't happened to us...or that we have survived.

For the rest of the week we are going to revisit those manners we learned when we were children. We are going to get back to saying Please..and Thank You
and Your Welcome.  (...not K and No Problem...) In short...we are going to get back to being NICE to each other again. And acting like civilized human beings. We are going to drop our preconceptions and not walk around judging everyone we meet/see/read about.We aren't going to walk around assuming the worse from each other.

And on the first weekend we are going to actively do something for another human being without any thought of reward for ourselves...but just because it is the right thing to do.  And our mantra for the weekend is going to be that PEOPLE are more important than THINGS.

And on Sunday night before we sleep we are going to take a minute to reflect on the week. How our life feels. And then we are going to decide if that is the way we want to feel...or if we want to return to the status quo...

And make no mistake about it...even if we decide to continue this new path there are going to be moments. But hopefully our new behaviours will eventually surpass the old habits.

Will everyone decide to change.

Certainly not.

But you will and I will...and that is where it has to start.

With us.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Cup of Atonement...

                                            (...get your ass to Temple...)

What does Yom Kippur have to do with me...a practising Zen Buddhist?

Well when you have many friends who are Jewish, knowing your way around the loxs and gefilte fish strewn waters comes in handy. And realizing that everyone isn't a cookie-cutter cut out of everyone else isn't a bad thing either. So officially "Yenta-by-Proxy" here is a Shiska's Yom Kippur.

From Friday at Sundown until Saturday at Sundown during Atonement the following things are forbidden:

No Eating or Drinking.

No Wearing of Leather Footwear.

No Bathing or Washing.

No Perfumes or Lotions.

No Sexual Relations. 

Yesterday was a Fast Diet Day anyway...and 500 calories is almost like no food...okay? 


 Shit. This may be tougher than I thought. If nobody sees me eat the BLT is it still...

oh right..."The Pork Clause"...double jeopardy...

~ sigh ~

Maybe I'll just nap, okay?

I'm pretty sure the only cow my shoes have ever seen was safely behind  a farmer's fence. 
I'm good on this one. Score!

The whole no bathing (and then no lotions and perfumes...which I assume includes deodorants/antiperspirants as well) can do...and by sundown on Saturday y'all going to be a fairly "gamy lot"...just sayin'...

Sex. I'm a widow. It's been so long I don't even remember who gets tied up. 

Okay...I lied.  

I remember.

 And then there is the whole Book OF Life and Confession thing. 

The Rabbi seemed fairly alarmed when I told him that the last night of Hanukkah I toasted some leftover marshmallows over the Menorah.

 His distress increased markedly when I muttered something about "...maybe being able to say a few Hail Mary's and a couple Our Father's...and calling it a day."

Then there were the things that you could do:


And praying for a Bacon Cheeseburger, Fries and a Chocolate Shake APPARENTLY...does not count.
                                                Who knew?


This is where the whole confession thing comes in...let me tell you...after going without and sex for an entire day...not only would I confess...hell...I'd make stuff up. 
                                               I would make things up about YOU as well...okay?

Give to Charity.

Er....would this be a bad time to say that I'm STILL waiting on that Cheeseburger?

In short...after the longest 24 hours of my life...I came to realize that my friends were so much tougher than me.
I mean Chuck Norris has nothing on these guys!
This is "Goodyear Steel Belted Radials" tough.

And I "get" the rules, too.

 After all...a day without comforts/food makes you realize how much you have to be grateful for...and the Pray...Repent...and Giving isn't that far off from Meditation...Forgiveness (yourself and others)...and Love and Light (Metta) Charity and Compassion.
 So maybe deep down people (and other religious beliefs/philosophies) are more similar than different.

Maybe deep down we all are. 

( pass the bacon and no one gets hurt...)

Arlene and Larry, Sal and Diane, Carol and Vicki, Debbie and Hal...

                                    Happy New Year!

Friday, September 13, 2013

My "Gardening Friday" Cup

Happy Friday!

Picked a pint of my Tributes last evening...yes they are STILL producing and blooming for even more...and mashed them in a small saucepan with sugar and a bit of lemon juice until they were fresh jam for this morning's toast!

Life is good.

Today was definitely a "beginning of Fall" gardening day. Stowed the cages and added the leftover stems and such to the compost bin. Also did a replant on the cool weather crops (green onions, spinach, snow peas) The herbs are mostly dried and squared away. Moved my newest rose (Raspberry Ice) to a better local as my Pink Fairy Rose was trying to assimilate it.  Dug a few of the sweet potatoes out of my flower beds for the weekend. And learning. I have discovered a great deal this year about managing a small urban garden-spot as opposed to the sprawling kitchen gardens of years past in the country. When space is at a premium...placement and rotation and composting and use of containers and vertical space become a necessity.  I am still in awe of the whole composting process...where left over vines/leaves/stems/ends and bits/paper/ eggshells and coffee grounds (when combined with a handful of red-worms working their magic) becomes dark rich crumbly soil!!! It's my first year with the bin...but I will always have one now.

So, somewhat encouraging news on the Syria front as Bashir Assad has tentatively agreed to turn over his chemical weapons arsenal (with the not-so- subtle encouragement of negotiations between President Obama and Russian President Putin).

And not so wonderful news as the Jersey Boardwalk....finally rebuilt from Hurricane Sandy suffered a huge loss yesterday as fire gutted a large section.

And Mother Nature has turned all "Joan Crawford on a RIP" with Colorado and left major flooding and several deaths in her wake.

And (finally) possibly the best commentary on the new Miley Cyrus video "Wrecking Ball" I have seen.

 Love the season change and decorating for Fall this weekend. Usually wait until October but it just FALL! Maybe even put on a pot of ham and beans bubbling. Can a caramel apple be far behind? Feel a trip to the orchard coming on!

And enjoyed a laugh as Loretta has asked me to teach her something else, recently.

She is wonderful. 72 years old and just never stops teaching others or wanting to learn. She also works out for two hours every morning...and as "Idgy"and I remarked...could probably kick both our asses. So far she has given me tips on make-up and fashion. When a 72 year old says you need to learn how to pencil in your need to pencil in your brows. And I've already discussed her not so quiet approach with "The Bag" and she was  absolutely thrilled when I showed her the slouch boots to go with it!

During last winter she asked if I could teach her to crochet. She had never learned. She then proceeded to crochet her own infinity scarf (to match her hat and gloves) which was a nice as anything store bought. she wants to learn how to use a computer. Surf the web. Order bags online

OMG @@

So, we are going to start soon. From the beginning. Maybe with Net Nanny. 

"...don't LOOK Ethel!"

 Tea and cakes and laptops, oh my.

Back to the Fast Diet since the Summer Holidays and I continue to say it is the BEST lifestyle change I have seen. I have lost 10 pounds...3 inches around my waist...and an entire SIZE since I started this. And have done it while basically eating whatever I want on the non-fast days. Including a chocolate cupcake or three and the following dessert recipe. Hoping to reach my IBW by the end of the year.

This week's books...A new release by Rodney Jones: elegy for the southern drawl
A compilation of some of his best poetry including the title poem. A wonderful collection for just sitting on the porch enjoying- with a glass of sweet tea!


A Second Edition recent release of the Non-Fiction: Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography

Which is gearing me up for next season's new Canon Rebel Digital!  The book is filled with professional tips on how to achieve maximum results with digital landscape photography. Saving the ISBN number. This one may be an addition to my personal library.

and finally...what may be one of the Ultimate Fall Recipes gleaned thusfar ...though the season is still early.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake 

Which is essentially a vanilla bean cheesecake (baked or bought...doesn't matter) and topped with a warm thick layer of apple pie filling...then that layer topped with a warm thick gooey layer of soft caramel and scattered with pecan pieces. Served with a dollop of whipped cream dusted with cinnamon.  A simple dessert made elegant for Fall. If you make your own cheesecake I suggest Keebler Pecan Sandies crushed with butter and a bit of powdered sugar instead of a traditional graham cracker crust.
Presentation is amazing and it tastes even better!

Have a wonderful (almost Fall) Weekend!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A "Bag Lady Starter Kit"

Happy Friday!

Still chuckling over yesterday's "bagging".
Yes indeed...I have been "bagged".

Off matt-ratting in Greenwood with who is a "bag lady"  No...not the wearing all their clothes and pushing everything they own in a stolen shopping cart. The kind who can size you up with a glimpse of your shoes and purse in a New York Minute. Who can spot a Vera Bradley or Michael Kors across a crowded store.

(...note that it is ONLY because of Loretta that I even know that Bradley or Kors exist...)

I have never understood purse and shoe people. And they probably could care less about my knowledge of herbs and roses, either. So we are even.

Since my fashion sense runs somewhere between non-existent and blue jeans/tee shirt/ a hobo bag and tennies...I can only imagine she re-outfits me in her mind each time we get together. And it's OCD gene runs closer to redecorating her front room...maybe some paint and oh for god sake let me do some landscaping...have you NEVER heard of plants, woman!
And we share and laugh about these quirks.

Until yesterday. We were breezing through Macy's and J.C Pennys. Enjoying Coffee and chat and brunch together. At the end of the day she brought forth a small package and handed it (quite satisfied with herself) to me with the admonishment I had to promise her I would use my black cloth hobo bag ONLY on library days when I needed the extra room for the books...but otherwise carry THIS.
It was a "bag lady" starter kit.

A modestly priced Nicole Miller. It is about the size of a sheet of standard typing paper with a thin leather and chained cross body strap. Inside there is room for gum...keys...a thin wallet or checkbook...maybe a small brush and a pen.

My best friend "Idgy" laughed until she cried when I related the days events and said she envisioned Loretta (who she met the last time she was up) waking up in the middle of the night, on the day before our shop & brunch, sitting bolt upright proclaiming

 "Enough is I will FIX this!"

Of course, I still have my jeans and tees and sneakers
 (for now...*gasp*)

But slowly realise that the whole bag thing is like giving a mouse a cookie...when I caught myself perusing these this morning... @@

And inside my head could hear Loretta laughing as surely as though she was standing beside me.  They are fabulous slouch boots, though...aren't they? And a PERFECT match.

OMG...what has she done????

So the end of a wonderful week and Fall is in the roses are all blooming in that last rush of the season. Getting ready to re-sow more snow peas...spinach...and a few more green onions (cool weather crops) who love the crisp Fall weather as well as they did the chilly Spring.  Have been cutting and drying herbs and my Chocolate Mint (a new mint for me this year) which makes amazing hot tea!

The Book of the week...a small book of new poems entitled The World Will Follow Joy by Alice Walker.
Very uplifting and inspirational.

Soon to settle in a hot bubble bath with a cup of home grown
 Chocolate Mint tea :)

And maybe tomorrow slip over to her house and plant a David Austin Rose...heh heh heh...

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Inspirational Cup

In 1978, I watched as Diana Nyad (then 29) attempted for the first time to swim from Cuba to Key West. It was a dream she had carried since she was 8 years old.

I was 18 at the time. 
It made an impression.

 Sadly, strong winds and currents blew her miles off course. Closer to Texas than Key West.
It seemed her goal was unattainable. 

In 2010, the year I turned 50, she started training once again to chase her dream. Her mother had just died. She was 60.

And in 2011, at 61, she tried again. This time strong winds and stings from a Box Jellyfish ended her swim.

Later that same year she would try a third time...and once again Box Jellyfish and Portuguese Man-Of-Wars would thwart her goal.

In 2012 in a fourth try she would encounter vicious electrical storms at sea and  be turned back.

And today:

 Sept.2, 2013, at 64 years old, Diana Nyad showed us the true meaning of never giving up...of chasing our dreams no matter how young or old we are...and as she said on reaching the shore at Key West after the 53 hour takes a TEAM.

Which is great (life) advice no matter what your DREAM may be!

Congratulations, Ms. Nyad...for being an inspiration to us all  :)

What goal or dream do YOU want to pursue?

If not now....when?