Monday, September 29, 2014

The Difference Between An Inconvenience And A Crisis

Looks a LOT like this...

This is what remains of my childhood friend of 45 years, home.  She, along with her caretaker and family, and another recent boarder they had taken in lost everything they owned. The house had been in her family for generations and parts of it dated back to the 1800's where it started as a rough hewn cabin. The rest of the house grew up around Rose Madder-like until it was a sprawling resort type home. One original wall of the log cabin remained uncovered in the family room and you could see what the house had originated from. It was fascinating, really.

During one such remodeling effort with the addition of a jacuzzi type tub and elaborate Master Bathroom when we were both just mouthy teenagers- We had made fun of the fact her Mom and Dad had installed French Doors right there in the bathroom onto the deck. Just right there in front of the commode. It seemed outlandish...even though the woods and a privacy fence obscured any view. Sniggers of

"Maybe they just want a throne-side view"

filled that summer.

This week...Bob and JoAnn got the last laugh...were vindicated...and perhaps a silent prayer of thanks from both of humously and 45 years too late.

The fire began in the middle of the house. Dry as kindling it was completely engulfed in minutes. Pam was trapped in the Master Bedroom by heavy smoke and flames. Smoke so dark and thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. She held onto her Pekinese and slowly made her way toward the corner where the bath was...

If it weren't for those gaudy...ridiculous...doors, my friend would have been found dead with the remains of her dog, right there in the back of the house. 

As it were...everyone in the house made it outside through various exits. She and her caretaker and two fire fighters were treated for smoke inhalation...but overall unharmed. When the flames were finally subdued over 3 hours later she had lost everything she owned...for 56 years. Every photo of every relative except for those she had posted to Facebook. Three birds and two cats who did not escape the fire. Many generations of stuff. Grandfather clocks and items from pre-WWII Japan...antique everything and her grandmother's china and linens.

 Look around your own home. Now try to imagine every item you have ever bought or inherited- gone.

The American Red Cross was amazing...providing immediate shelter for all of them...a rental car and even clothing as they start to shake off the haze and realize they all have to start over completely. I really can't say enough good things about their organization and how quickly they arrived at the scene.

We spent most of the day Sunday together at the hotel. And she realizes how nothing matters except that their little group made it out alive. By the end of the evening she looked at me dead-panned and said

"'ve always KNOWN how much I hate to clean house."

and I hugged her crying and remarked

"Well, maybe it wasn't such a STUPID place for those doors, after all."

Before the Fire

The back...where she was...after.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Cup of Autumn

Woke to 43 degrees...bright blue skies and wood-smoke scented air! Autumn has arrived!

 Fall, to me, also has a flavour. Fall is the flavour of Bentley's Orange Spice Tea 

served in a heavy white gold-rimmed teacup in the massive wood floored dining room of Turkey Run Inn. A waitress offering a velvet lined wooden tea chest filled with an array of the finest. It was Fall and I was...oh...8...10...16...25...32...40...52...take your pick.  I've spent most of the Fall(s) of my lifetime in that Inn.

I have the wooden tea chest now thanks to eBay. I also have one of the original heavy gold-rimmed cups, thanks to a long-since retired hostess. This morning I sat at daybreak admiring the amazing sunrise and enjoying the first sip of Fall in my purloined china.

Fall...filled with hot-tea mornings and snuggley sweaters and maybe a smoke sitting in the cool Fall air...wood-smoke breezes and apples. Apples sliced in a bowl and topped with soft warm caramel and pecans. Apples wrapped in pastry and stuffed with cinnamon, sugar and raisins. Apples simmered into cinnamony apple-butter to go with fried biscuits. Apples wiped on the front of your blue jeans and eaten-as is.

And everyone has a new Pumpkin recipe to share. I'll get to mine shortly.

Busy cutting, stripping and drying my herbs now. Sage, basil, oregano, savory, and mints hanging...or shredded and drying. The dried packed in little baled jars for winter's use.  Already planning a larger assortment for next year. Adding a Bay laurel for soups.Chamomile...Valerian...Lemon Verbena and Cat Mint to make blended relaxing teas.  Already looking at bulbs to plot the resurrection in Spring :)

Still need more Mums.

Can you ever have enough Mums or Pumpkins this time of the year? FAVOURITE season :)

Busy week, this. Going to take care of October's accounts tomorrow and have a mid-afternoon Chinese brunch with Loretta. We are plotting a Fall Bloomington Adventure soon. Donna (Dane's Mom) will be over on Thursday and I am hosting an Italian Brunch. Sicilian Sausages and Peppers and Onions, Thick chunks of bread drizzled with olive oil and chopped garlic. Fresh basil and oregano. Salad with artichoke hearts.  (...somewhere in there will be Tiramisu Gelato, of course...) and she is going to teach me to make her version of a hand-tied quilt...and Friday, Chris and I are off to Avon for the afternoon! But the very best news of all is that Greencastle now has 24/7 Cab Service available...greatly expanding my travel ability! I can literally get anywhere now :)

Still working on "Where the Sky Meets the Sea" my latest acrylic-in-progress.

Requiring some imagination at this point.  The vantage point is (or will be) off the bow of a heavily listing wooden sailing vessel. Working on sketches now of wooden bows before I commit one to the canvas...but when it appears it will be just the bow and the bowsprit (the long wooden pole jutting from the bow) and various lines and trappings. It will be a first-person perspective and will appear from the bottom edge of the canvas. Do you see it yet?

Well, that is the plan, anyway.

Using this to grasp the details of an old wooden sailing vessel...and have sketched the afternoon away.

Getting the perspective and especially the "list" (lean) is the hard part.

The week's read:

Set in London WWI. Economically strapped, a young woman and her mother take in lodgers which they refer to as The Paying Guests. When the guests have an on-going marital rift the daughter becomes intimately involved  with unforeseen and tragic consequences. Engaging. Surprising at times. Well researched and as always (with Water's Novels) a trip into the depths of London during the time period.

Highly Recommended. 
Would translate to cinema well!

And speaking of cinema...

If you have the urge and want to see an amazing movie...check out Jeff Bridges performance in The Giver.

                                             Pumpkin French Toast

And...that Fall Pumpkin Recipe I promised. Easy to make and oh-so-yummy!

Pumpkin French Toast

8 slices of bread...I like to use day old thick cut French bread.

3 whole eggs.

1 cup cooked pumpkin puree.

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spices.

1/2 cup milk or heavy whipping cream.

Beat ingredients together as you would for regular French Toast (Eggy Bread) 
and dip bread slices in pumpkin/spice/egg mixture until coated but not soggy.

Fry in buttered skillet a couple of slices at a time over medium heat...turning once until golden brown.

Top with a dollop of whipped cream or cream cheese icing.....a dusting of cinnamon and spiced pecans.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

And We're Back in The Box...

Idgy and I...after a wonderful week of REAL hugs and coffee & chat.

This morning's cyber-coffee was definitely lacking. But already making plans for next year's Adventure!  Since she will be 40 then and I will turn 55 we are going to do all the candles together on one cake...definitely outside and probably NOT on a wooden table.  95 candles. Sounds more like a bonfire to me! Must bring the campforks and marshmallows :)

Still we managed to to make a trip to the Orchard...and bring back Gala Apples and Cinnamon/Banana Nut/ and Pumpkin Loaf...and soft caramel to melt. We enjoyed picnics and an afternoon with the grands (and James and Nicole). Idgy got to bounce the new grandbaby and we both got to see the baby squirrels...who (given the chance) can tuck themselves up in Nicki's hair bun until they are invisible!

 Engaged in a rowdy round of "Cards Against Humanity" with Chris, Tina, and Kyle (and a couple of pizzas). Took a trek to Avon and plundered our favourite craft shop and found the tiniest Ice Bucket for Christopher's Ice Bucket Challenge. He fell out. It only held a single cube.

And when Idgy dumped it, the single cube bounced off his head just 

Sat and watched Saturday's sunrise in 45 degree weather huddled under a throw...and went to sleep Friday night watching the lightning and listening to the heavy rainfall.

Very nice.

Fortunately Sunday was absolutely beautiful and we were able to slip off to a nearby pond for a picnic and to "Let It Go" with our balloon release. The "Let It Go" Release is simple. EVERYONE has something in life they need to LET GO at any given time...the balloons just make it tangible.

And the week was spent learning, too.  I helped her learn to set up everything necessary to sell on eBay....she taught me how to use the various palette knifes to paint with...we both bought each other a stone decorated with inset turquoise and silver wrapped for semi-matching necklaces. She liked my home-made wine...and I tried the Peach Sipping Whiskey she brought with Coke. Quite good, I might add. We both picked up a Christopher Moore novel to read and discuss during our quiet times.

We baked a round of Brie...and cut chunks of Sharp Cheddar and Colby-Jack to munch with savoury crackers and fresh apples. 

AND...we shared recipes. Mine passed down from Sandy for Red Hot Cinnamon Apple Butter and her's for Orange Crockpot Marmalade Chicken Wraps (recipe to follow)

Orange Marmalade Crockpot Chicken Wraps

Simmer boned chicken tenders in enough water to cover until done.


Shred with Fork

Add 1/2 jar orange marmalade.

1/2 small container BBQ sauce

(about a cup and a half of each)

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce

Mix well and simmer in crock-pot an additional 20 minutes.

(may add dried cranberries)

Cool in refrigerator overnight.

Use in wraps.

May combine with lettuce, banana peppers, or add slivered almonds.  


It was an amazing...and (as always) far too short a time.

                                                Our "Let It Go"  
                                                              Balloon Release


Lost a piece of my heart this week, as well.

On September 10th.

( although I would not discover this until after a vivid dream on January 18th, 2015) 

I cried.
Then I cried some more.
For you.
For me.
For us, a lifetime ago.

How can you possibly be gone?

 My friend for years...sometimes my lover.  
This moment is how I always want to remember you. 
This moment in time...this smile...just us. 
We had shared a joke a few seconds before I snapped the shot. 
It is my favorite photograph of you.

                                       August 1957 - September 2014

You helped me slay my inner demons...made me feel loved...helped me to trust ...gave me a way to locate my brother...and, once, even recaptured 18 again...long after I thought it was gone forever. It is hard to believe I will never see your smile, hear your laughter, feel your arms around me or share "Hollywood Kisses" again.

Thank you for making me your "Mona Lisa".

I will see you again in my dreams and memories.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Idgy's" Arrival...Depauw Boulder Run...and More

That's right!

Only three more days until Our Summer/Fall Adventure...or 398 gazing balls give or take a few. The wine is chilled. The chocolate awaits. And I am fighting the urge to decorate for Fall until you are here, too. I switched the tart scent to Warm Baked Apple...but that is all..I promise.  For the is hard to share the decorating!

And Fall is definitely in the air.  Much cooler and even a few leaves slowly drifting down. The colour change is subtle. Mostly yellows...a bit of muted orange here and there.  (okay...maybe I'll just put a few sunflowers in a vase on the table...)

Discovered a new twisted card game (...Cards Against Humanity...) with Chris, Kyle and Tina...spawning at least one evening of a Pizza Party and Cards with The Kids while you are up!

 Cards Against Humanity

 A black box filled with black and white cards...ala Apples to Apples (on meth).
Example:'s kind of like this. Wickedly funny and sometimes just disgustingly bizarre.
Idgy...after the IMA'll fit right in!

Which brings us to last night's activities. During a late night stroll on campus Chris and Tina were treated to a long standing Depauw Campus Tradition. The Boulder Run. Although, traditionally, the run is to occur the day or night of the first snowfall of the season. Now it is done pretty much when ever the mood strikes. Started in the 70's during the height of the Streaking continues to this day.

Students streaking from their residence to the Columbian Boulder

in the Center of campus, and then back again.

(...not an official campus sponsored activity I might add...)

So imagine their surprise when last night they were greeted during their walk with....that's right...a small herd of naked students bounding for the Boulder.

No, is not considered good form to chase them. Pointing and laughing is right out.

Immortalized in Playboy Magazine in 1972...and alive and well in 2014!

"Don't LOOK, Ethel!"

This week's book also a throw-back.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac. A microcosm of a Generation. My Generation. Hippies. Free Love. Hitch-hiking. Drugs. A Time of Ass, Grass or Gas...Nobody Rides for Free. A hard gaze back at the Counter-Culture.

 A Classic. 

If you are a Boomer, you will smile and nod your head. Remembering.

If you are a Millennial, you will roll your eyes and shake your head. Then you will look at your parents through new eyes. Or perhaps warily.

Either way...well worth the read!

Making the last minute plans for our adventure...then relaxing for the weekend.

(...maybe just a pot of Mums on the patio????)

Have a Great Weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Week of Happy Birthdays...ALS Ice Bucket Challenges...Labor Day...and More

A week filled with "Happy Birthdays" including a birthday brunch with Loretta and small shopping spree...

And Emma's 8th (...very very WET) birthday party!

                   Emma, Brenden- and the Monster High Doll he brought her!

Think a small gang of children...and 500 water balloons! And complete with a Water Balloon Filled Pinata :)

Oh...and Snow Cones...with a leftover bucket of ice shavings that soon became a late August snowball fight :)

And Zach's arrival from Texas...prompting one little boy at the party to exclaim

"You even have a real live COWBOY!"


 I think one of the most wonderful parts (for me) was seeing some of the kids that my kids grew up with...with their own children now. And my youngest grandson Aiden being passed around like Champagne.

And passing on my Snow-Cone machine to Nicole...because she is the Neighborhood Mom now!

Also a week filled with The ALS Water Bucket Challenge! Raising $$$ for a good cause.

                                            Kaylee Doing the Challenge

                                             James, Trisha and Zach

                                                  Emma and Nicole

                                                     Tucker and I

                                 Really more of an Ice Pitcher Challenge

And my own Challenge Out to Donna, Kara and Angie!

Relaxing on this third day of the Holiday Weekend.  Finally finished the Seascape!

And going to putter in the paints today...

This week's reading

Creative Paint Workshop: Mixed Mediums

An excellent book with a lot of interesting ideas and techniques.

Also Colette Freedman's new novel: The Consequences  

A story of an Affair told from three very different perspectives...the Mistress...the Wife...and the Husband. The book is sectioned into three stories...each similar but seen through their own eyes. The ending will surprise you!
Very well done. An interesting, novel approach to the subject...and fast paced read!

Have a Wonderful Holiday Weekend!