Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Cup of Soil!

It is official.

Composting is AMAZING! 

 Out of bits of vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, shredded newspaper, straw, egg shells, garden debris, and dozens of other items destine for the rubbish I give you SOIL!  Just finished buttoning down the garden-spot and flowerbeds and top dressing them with the contents of my compost bin which has turned into lovely, friable, rich soil. And by layering straw, leaves and the last vines and trimmings from the garden lasagna-like, I have a good beginning on next year's bin. I will never start a gardening season without one again!

(...yeah...I'm easily amused....)

And have the Spring bulbs in, now.  A sea of yellow daffodils. Clumps of pink tulips. And around the Frog Spa Grape Hyacinths and Bluebells. May add a few more multicoloured tulips before I throw in the trowel for the season.

And in two days...Halloween!

And some pre-Halloween shots of my grandsons. Thanks, Donna!

Celebrating Steve's Halloween Birthday with Loretta and "The Usual Suspects" complete with spider-webbed cake and coffee soon!  And after seeing the vampire doughnuts on Pintrest...this ghoul du jour may have to be a Vampire.

                                                  Aren't these the best!

Found a totally tasteless...maybe horrible (but hilarious) costume for my pregnant soon-to-be DIL there as well!

                                                    "Candy, mama?"

Ok...so maybe not.

Currently working my way through a re-read of The Shining this week. Had to do a re-visit after Dr. Sleep.

Wishing everyone a safe and spooky Halloween :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall's Return

And...it's back!

And what a difference a week of cold weather makes.  The surface of the pond smooth and glassy reflecting the peaking Fall colours today.

Spoke with James and Nicole, and they made it home okay. Will miss them until April.

And Tina and Chris finally experienced one of those "must experience in your lifetime" last night as they went to see the midnight showing of the cult classic "Rocky Horror Picture Show" in Terre Haute.  Remembering fondly when Laura (a girlfriend) and I did this back in the 80's. In the Circle Theater Downtown Indianapolis. She had done it already. I was a RHPS virgin...a designation for anyone who has never experienced the show. When we got to the theater they searched both our purses. This should have been my first clue.

Now...not only do they not search your person...they actually provided some of the props...rice...cards...toilet paper...glow sticks...still a  BYOS (bring your own squirt-gun) affair, though. 
When they finally returned around 3 AM with playing cards for souvenirs...and pockets full of rice...and still a bit damp from the "rain" in the theater...they were duly impressed. And I found it somewhat amazing- over 30 some years running and the audience participation is STILL going strong! New generations picking up and carrying the torch...er...glow stick. Tossing the rice. A new crew of faithful followers acting out the show at the front of the stage. Booing and hissing the villian...and more.
 Now of course they have it on TV and DVD...but that is not the real show. If you have never experienced "Rocky Horror" you should...at least once.

The real show has always been the audience.

Tucker...who has been pretty much velcro'ed to the sofa during the cold snap, is happy for warmer weather, as well.

 And I am planning the week's "buttoning up the outdoors" because I can take the pre-season hint. 

Even going to get the outdoor lights hung early this year!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why is there SNOW in my Cup?

Uh...no.  Possibly even "Hell no".

And overnight this week the temperatures dropped into the thirties...and huge fluffy flakes drifted down. All over my beautiful Fall leaves.

Not to worry. The weatherman promises a warm up again by next week returning us to our regularly scheduled Fall. Mother Nature's way of saying,

"You better get all the buttoning down soon...because I'm not playing!"


Busy week. All the bulbs but the tulips snuggled in. Roses pruned and a bouquet of my Pink Fairy Roses brought in for the table, before they froze.

Got another sneak peak at my newest grand-bump with a second ultrasound a few days ago. Past the bull-frog stage (...hey...Nicole's words...okay) and looking a lot more like a tiny baby...arms and legs and fingers and toes and features! It will still be a while before we can say with any accuracy what it is...but no visible outdoor plumbing yet.

                                                    The Grand-Bump

 Chris and The Leprechaun.

Had a wonderful evening/dinner together (all of us) before the kids left today. I will miss them. Fixed James' favourite...chicken and noodles with dressing...and "Razzleberry pie". James, I can't tell you how much Pam appreciated all the help with the apartment and the house...and everything else. I think she misses both of you already, too. The next time I see the "grand-bump" he or she may be snuggled in my arms in its home-made quilt :)
Can't wait!

I'm heading to Florida in late Spring.

Both boys pretty sure they have found "the one"  now :)
And I am happy for them. Pretty wonderful future daughter-in-laws.

Lennon says his "one" will have to wait until he graduates...lol. No time for anything but classwork right now. After Nursing School, I completely understand.


Chris is coming along with the violin. Enjoying listening as he gets smoother and smoother with it.

Doing a re-read this week of "A Time To Kill" by John Grisham while waiting not-so-patiently for the sequel released on October 22nd  "Sycamore Row". The former being particularly amazing when you realize that it was Grisham's first-ever book and that initially it was self-published and sold out of the trunk of his car. True Story.  This week has been a great week for Grisham, with a play based on a Time to Kill opening on Broadway at the same time his sequel was released. If you have never read the first prepare to be astounded, and the sequel getting outstanding reviews already.

Also after reading King's Dr. Sleep...had an overwhelming urge to re-read The Shining...so it is "on-the-stack" as well.

Enjoying a cup of hot cocoa in the afternoon chill, and wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Friday Cup

...but did THAT stop the Grinch?
 No.  The Grinch simply said
 "If I can't FIND a crisis...I'll MAKE one instead"

(With all due apologies to Dr. Seuss )

So...the shut-down is over. And it only cost taxpayers a cool 24 Billion (with a B) dollars. And of course the lives lost...experimental healthcare, cancer care and research interrupted...weddings and vacations ruined...our standing in the eyes of the International community diminished...the implosion of what was left of the GOP (good luck with that 2014 thing)...
and hopefully the reveal of the lunacy of the tea party 
(and maybe the poor court stenographer who lost it on the last day)

But hey...Ted Cruz is gearing up for the next one in January. 

Seriously folks?

But for now...all is quiet on the Eastern Front. Leaving us only to wonder "Is Boehner really the love-child of a crazed weekend fling between The Grinch and an Oompah Loompah???"

A wonderful week filled with Fall everything...an afternoon road trip and brunch and shopping at the College Mall, where I found the most amazing infinity scarf in autumn colors! Chris' birthday and awaking to the violin riff from Fantasia...The Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene (remember the broom fetching water) and carving his birthday pumkpin pie to the shrill strings of the shower stabbing scene in Psycho.

A violin...not just an instrument...a whole study in "sound effects"...including a mosquito and the "rubbing a balloon noise"

And off with the Leprechaun for an extended weekend birthday celebration soon. 

The Texas Gathering this weekend. TX-XIV. Wishing we were there...but Chris hasn't got the vacation time, yet.  Hopefully, next year. Miss y'all :)  Alan and Jim...sorry to hear you aren't making it either. Arlene...keep Tom in line...lol! 

                                Proving once again, Jim...you are outstanding
                                                         in your field!

And so pleased that everyone is still using Bill's line to welcome the newcomers

                                   "Pull up a rock and light up a beer"

Maybe by next year not only will Chris be bringing the guitars (and me)...but also a violin to play. And Cea, Marilyn and I will just hang out in the kitchen baking amazing stuff for all the players :)  So glad I was able to see Dwight and Don once more before they passed away.

This week's read  World War Z by Max Brook. This was one of the rare occasions that I saw the movie before reading the book. Although the movie was very good (not your Night of the Living Dead- zombie film)  The film resembled the novel in exactly one aspect...and one aspect only...The Title. Otherwise you would have had no idea that it was based on this book. Not a bad thing...just a surprise.

The Novel is exceptional. Think Rice's: Interview with a Vampire...only with zombies. The book is written in an oral interview style with post World War Z survivors. Gathering stories from doctors, researchers, soldiers and just everyman from Colorado, New York, India, Russia, China et al. A hundred stories within the story. The interlaced accounts...the emotions poured into the story set it apart from a "mediocre" read...a zombie tale...and elevate it to truly outstanding.
 Put it on your winter TBR pile.
A must read!

Digging in the garden-spot and flowers today...enjoying the brisk Fall days and last bit of sunshine. Seem to feel the winter cold creeping slowly this way. Dividing the irises...digging the sweet potatoes that did double duty as beautiful vines in my border flowers all year. This year's compost bin now filled with dark crumbly rich soil to be added when I button down for the winter months. Buying the last of the Fall Bulbs next week to tuck in soon for Spring colour.

A cinnamon spice tart in the burner making the Den smell wonderful...a couple of slices of rich pumpkin cream cheese roll with my tea...and Tucker asleep in a snuggly heap on the sofa...

Life is very good, indeed!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Early Morning Cup

Why I love Indiana in the Fall!

The trees are just beginning to change. The air is brisk with the subtle scent of wood-smoke. And just got a new recipe for "Deep Fried Apple Rings" that is incredible.

Caught up with the boys yesterday.

Photographs from James of his Chuckie Cheese Afternoon with my youngest grandson :)

And exciting news from he and Nicole, as they heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time!  And I am gathering the supplies to get started on it's quilt/floor throw.

Caught up with Lennon on Sunday...wishing he was here to enjoy Fall and

"Maybe one of those BBQ pork loins you always fix, Mom...and home-made elephant ears..."

and setting up a Skype-time for he and Chris.  Classes hectic but manageable. Doing well and anticipating break. Looking forward to spending a bit of April together next year :) Extracting an official "Birthday Wish" from him...he'll be 25 in November.

A Quarter-of-a-Century, son...that's OLD!"

And Chris who turns 24 this week and is celebrating with the leprechaun, of course...but still going to enjoy his MO of a pumpkin pie in lieu of a cake and a turkey dinner with all the sides because it is his favorite meal. The child should have been a Thanksgiving baby. 

And is getting more and more comfortable with his violin every day...and like his "voices" he now has "sound effects" to play with...never a dull moment.

"Hey...who's that fiddling on my ROOF?"

Excited about my upcoming trek to Bloomington this week with Loretta and Theresa and yes...we're making progress on the Computer stuff...soon we will be taking the training wheels off...although it is much too early to merge into traffic on the "Info Super Highway" yet...and so thankful that gmail has a wonderful spam filter for her because, frankly, I don't think I could field those

"Why are they sending me messages on how to enlarge my member? Am I a member? I don't recall joining anything." 

questions with a straight face.

And "Idgy" just shaking her head and laughing as I relate the tales from the keyboard...over our morning coffee.

 And sharing the whole "Fashion tips by Loretta" thing. The Nicole Bag has become fashion's answer to "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" with  those amazing matching slouch boots on the way and several new long sleeved shirts with pleasantly contrasting Infinity scarves...with bluejeans. Everything in shades of caramel and cream...taupes and olive drab...slate blues...and looking at earrings, too.  Actually, when it all arrives it will be a remarkably pulled together look...and fun. It has been a bit like playing dress-up. By November's outing to Gray's in Mooresville and shopping in Plainfield- I shall be a whole new woman...laughing...

 But Idgy and I (as a rule) follow Bombeck's rule of

                     "Basing fashion on what doesn't wrinkle or itch"

Blue jeans and tee shirts...and it works for us :)

And the recipe:

Fall Fried Apple Rings with Dipping Caramel

(serves two)

Two large Fugi apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch thick rings.

In small mixing bowl combine:

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 and stir to a thick batter.

Heat deep oil until a drop of the batter sizzles and floats to the top. I use coconut oil to deep fry. Much nicer.

Dip Apple Rings in batter individually and deep fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

Serve with a small cup of warmed soft caramel for dipping.

(optional: can sprinkle with powdered sugar or a cinnamon and sugar mix instead of caramel if preferred)

For tea:  Arrange several Apple Rings on individual dessert plate and drizzle with soft caramel and top with a whipped cream rosette and chopped pecans...serve with a dessert fork. 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday's Cup :)

Which is actually a pottery mug filled with milk and a dish of still-warm baked Peach Cobbler!

Definitely sweater weather here, now. And the caramel slouch boots are on their way. Loretta will be so proud...lol...I've even been looking at infinity scarves.

Celebrating my youngest's 24th birthday on the 17th...and the above pictured is his early birthday gift. He has always wanted to learn violin...the classical stuff...not "fiddle music"...lol  So, now he will. Truth be told the first attempts sounded like mice in a blender...but it is getting smoother and now sounds like the Philharmonic is tuning up in the living room :) Which is kind of nice!

Always an adventure. And thanking the gods that he didn't want to learn the bagpipes. 

A beautiful beginning to the Covered Bridge Festival on Friday and the weather and colours- perfect. And a kettle simmering with home-made soup on every day, here. Bean soup...French Onion..Red Potato and Cheddar with Bacon or Minestrone. This is the weather of baking a fresh round loaf in the morning which not only makes the Den smell amazing...but also runs off the early chill. The weather of cobblers...peach and apple and blackberry...and of chilis and stews.

And Tucker curled squirrel-like in a furry ball in the quilts. Warm and purring.

And busy times. The beginnings of teaching Loretta to use a computer. Finishing a few of the summer projects left undone. Working on "The Ashes" manuscript again...and going to finish it by the year's end...then take next year for edits and re-writes.  Release by October 2015.  Putting photography to the second Zen manuscript in the trilogy and editing soon for an April 2014 release. 

And gathering to work on my "grand-bump's" baby quilt this winter.

Finished Follet's: Winter of the World  this week. The Second book of "The Century" trilogy. Chronicles the deaths of the main characters of Fall of Giants and the lives of their children through WWII as seen through the eyes of a German Family...a Russian Family and an American family. Well researched historically it lends a deeper understanding of the Rise of Nazi Germany, The Development of the Atomic Bomb and the Attack on Pearl Harbour and The Rise of Communist Russia.
Unfortunately the third book (Edge of Eternity) will not be released until late 2014...sigh...looking forward to it!

Also finally watched World War Z with Brad Pitt. Not your schlocky Zombie movie. Actually pretty good. Great special effects and better than average storyline. Want to read the book now.

And a quick and easy Fall recipe for

Peach Crumb Cobbler

2 cans (or jars) Peach Pie Filling

Open and place in deep baking pan...or iron skillet.

Cut together 1/2 stick butter
                     1/2 cup granulated sugar
                     1/2 cup flour

until pea sized.

Sprinkle this mixture over pie filling thickly...then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.

(optional: you can also sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top for a richer...sweeter crust...)

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees until top begins to slightly brown. Caution filling will be molten...surface of the sun hot...let cool slightly before serving.

Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream on the side. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Cup of the "Past"

Spent a lot of this morning reflecting on "past lives".

No...not the reincarnation...deja vous...birth/death cycle.

All of the lives we spend during this one.   
The lives within life.

Spent an altogether wonderful day with an old friend/past lover of over 25 years ago recently. A lunch together at my favourite tea room...a walk in the woods and sitting by stillness of a nearby pond...discussing life...our kids...our (now) grandchildren...our lives...the twists and turns...politics of course...and that we can still pick up every year and devote a day to our (past) life together... still smile and laugh with each other.

I feel a little sad for people who once professed to loving one another very much...sometimes even marrying each other...and then when life moves on (for whatever reason) they vilify and say how much they HATE each other and what a horrible person they are...were...have been.  To throw away all the good times and cling to the bad...the negative times. Why is it easier to hate than to love? To remember the arguments instead of the laughter? To fix blame instead of finding forgiveness?
It doesn't make sense to me.

Bitten by the Acrylic's Bug...it seems and anxious to try another project. Have a photo that I took in the Nature Park when Angie was up that I want to turn into a painting!

 Who knew?

And exciting news as Chris and "the leprechaun" are back together again!

So happy for them both.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Misty Sunday Cup

Well...I had to do something with the herb basket now that they are all dried and stowed for winter :)

Enjoying the cool and rain today. An indoor day with BBQ Chicken baking in a cast iron skillet...baked macaroni and cheese topped with buttery crumbs...a tossed green salad with Portabella mushrooms...bits of bacon and Peppercorn Ranch dressing...and Fall Pumpkin Spice cookies with pecans and raisins on top...Autumn on a plate :) No Fast Day Today!

Extremely happy with The Fast Diet though. As of this morning I have lost one stone (14 pounds) and feel so much better. A short term goal of mine is to get back into my black leather pants before the end of the year.

Took the morning to bring out my warmer clothes...pack away some summer stuff...and catch up around here.

A chat with my eldest today and surprised and proud as he has his financial aid/grants and student loans in place now and will soon start college for Business Management (...with his years in all phases of construction this seems like the next logical step...)

And now all three boys are/or have already attended college!

 My DIL (to be) and "grand-bump" are fine. 

Chris is currently undergoing a shift change should should be beneficial...and surprised me with the announcement that he is teaching himself to play the violin...no- not that obnoxious "fiddle music" but classical violin.  Oh and a few riffs from Skyrim of course.  He has ordered a new one from Dan and his birthday $$$ will help make his quest a reality.

I can't wait to hear.

Lennon is continuing at Tampa with his courses...and is finishing his bachelor's degree there. A heavier class-load this semester and has been swamped, but doing very well. Looking forward to seeing him next April.

So proud of all of them! Can you tell...???

So everything is peaceful at The Den today...Tucker curled up sleeping...laundry finally caught up...and the house spelling wonderful of spices and warm food. And it's back to working on my manuscript. Life is good!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dude...Where's my Government?

Yes...admittedly this has been me since Tuesday.

Because the words that were coming out of my mouth Pre-Shut-Down were, frankly, inarticulate.

Think Lewis Black on a RANT. 

The House Republicans (primarily Tea Party) attempt a blatant 11th hour extortion attempt by attaching a defund the ACA or we don't pass a budget and shut down the GOVERNMENT...again...

And then they did. 
Shut down the Government, that is.

And the ACA rolled out on schedule October 1st...because the funds for it weren't from the budget they were/are holding hostage.

And their servers were hammered so completely by the millions of people who were trying to apply online they actually had crashes. Yes, obviously the ACA was not wanted by people with kids in college...had pre-existing conditions...or just simply did not have the $$$$ that Anthem, Bluecross and others required. 

Go figure. 

Then they try to blame the President for "not negotiating with them".

Of course, they also blame rape victims for having the audacity to get raped too...so I guess this tactic isn't a new approach.

And in a couple weeks we have The Debt Ceiling approaching...again.

And who is affected by all of this chaos?

Besides Congress who is getting time offWITH pay...thanks to the 27th Amendment.  (Which we should repeal when they get back to work, immediately. Maybe even make it retro-active.) 


Be sure to visit and sign.

The 800,000 workers deemed unessential. Including all of the National Park and Museums.

As well as the communities/business/individuals that have built their livelihoods around the tourism these places provide.

The National Health Institute. Bad news if you are starting a clinical trial for...say...terminal cancer.

International tourism. Imagine travelling on a once in a lifetime trip and after spending thousands and thousands of dollars to find that Hawaii has closed the Volcano National Park.

WIC-   Which helps with women and infants providing healthy food for babies and pregnant moms.

HUD- and home loans.

Passports and Visas.

and the list goes on and on.

The guestimated costs of the shutdown per week tops  10 billion dollars in lost revenues.  We don't have the funds to have Universal Healthcare or make sure  children have enough to eat or a clean place to sleep...but we can piss away 10 billion dollars a week because...because...the GOP didn't get to stop the ACA.  And lets face it...it isn't like they haven't tried...like 46 times.

And speaking of the ACA...

Watch this...because...nothing I could ever say would make the point better.


The long and short of it, Jimmy Kimmel out on the streets asking the average American Citizen which he or she preferred...the ACA or "Obamacare"  (hint: it is the same thing people...the latter being only a nickname) and the (obviously uninformed opinions) of why they were for and against each one.

Like I said before. You really have to watch it for yourself. 

And to the lady at the end...when Kimmel reveals that they are one in the same and she says

"Thanks for making me look stupid"

No honey, you managed that all by yourself.
Bless her heart.

And the Tea Party has gotten so "out there" that even the moderate Republicans are eyeing them warily and sidling away.

And why do I applaud President Obama for standing his ground on this. Because we do not negotiate with terrorists or extortionists.
 Foreign or domestic.

Note to Boehner...send the CR down for a clean vote and go back to work, everyone. The little stunt didn't work. The ACA is here to stay. Now get back to work all of you...before we fire you in 2014.

(...or as a buddy JD just exclaimed "Shit just got REAL" as they are reporting shooting outside the Capitol...)

~shaking my head~

The 1% and their buddies might want to remember that things didn't end well for the 1% in France either during the Revolution. Desperate times lead to desperate people. 

Made a bit more progress on the second book in my Zen Series although I don't expect to release until next April.

And this week's book. A nice bit of escapism.  The first in the new trilogy by Ken Follett: Fall of Giants.

Amazing memorable characters. Carefully intertwined plot and lives. Follett has a gift for making you really care about a character...or in some instances bloody despise them. Like every books of his I have ever read...it requires reading a chapter and walking away to digest it...then coming back for another eagerly. The steamy scene between Maud and Walter in the theater box (condensed to one well written page) is hotter than the entire trilogy of 50 Shades. When Billy is down in the mud and trenches fighting the Germans...so are we. When the mine explosion confirms the company's non-compliance with the Union with no reversible ventilation and no respirator equipment in the lockers...opened in a panic to find them all empty...we cannot breath either. A well researched WWI account. This 1,000 page novel well deserves the term EPIC. Looking forward to starting the second book next week!

So remember...take a moment to contact your Congressman...and remind him we pay his $174,000 dollar a year salary...sign the No Work-No Pay petition to repeal Amendment 27...shake your head at Kimmel's "Man on the Street" video and thank whatever that you are not that stupid...and then go relax with a book.I strongly recommend  Fall of Giants :)

Have a great weekend!

(Here, it is the weekend of the Newport Hill-climb and Car Show!!!)