Saturday, November 28, 2015

When Your Minds Wanders...

 ( is funny what crosses your mind randomly. sometimes..)

I think it was a Murray.

I should know this.

It may have been red. Or orange and yellow.
I'm pretty sure it wasn't green,
but it could have been.

After years...details
about unimportant minutia tend to fade. But I can summon up the feel
of being wrapped in his arms in seconds. Light a cigarette and "taste" his kiss, even though our last was years ago.

It was my buddy's childhood toy.  He remembered how excited his sister and he were when his dad brought it home. How they played with it together. He talked excitedly about his Mom, after all those years, who finally gave it back to him.

He mused that it used to have a small wagon it towed that you could ride in.
That the wagon was long gone.
Lost through the years.
Like so many things. 

Innocence. Trust. Love.

These losses I could relate to.

When he talked about he and his sister playing, you could see him regress right before your very eyes. It was beautiful.
The regression...not the tractor.
The tractor was rust-flaked and well worn.
He was going to restore it.
I can't remember if he ever did.
He recalled pedalling and his sister's laughter, along with the all important fact that his Dad had brought it home to them. A tangible bit of fatherly love from a Dad who had a great deal of difficulty expressing that emotion. Something that had only worsened through his stormy teens and early twenties.

His wife was an ersatz friend of mine, back then.

When I got the call it shouldn't have surprised me.

Still, it did.

"Face just doesn't fit into my decor."

(To be honest, neither he or I ever did, either.
And she hadn't discarded us.)


She put the toy pedal tractor on eBay. Tucked it back in a spare room for the interim.  I went to the listing several times. Contemplated buying the damned thing so he wouldn't lose it forever. Even asked a mutual friend if I could use his account and mailing address should I actually do it.

I was born in the morning, but it wasn't yesterday.  Okay?

In the end, I waited too long to decide. And the tractor was gone. Through the years we had known each other, it was a reoccurring failure of mine when it came to him. Even the year he died. Now he is gone, too. Timing, it seems, is everything after all.
Always a cat on the wrong side of the door.

She sold the offensive metal toy for under a hundred dollars. A fraction of what it was actually worth, and the "household decor" was saved.  It was far less than the amount it took from my buddy. He called.  Met me to rant. Angry at first. Then resigned.

 "I just don't care any more", he said.

I wish I could have believed he was just talking about the tractor. It would have made our lives much less complicated. I held him in my arms because his eyes showed the pain. The disappointment. Then the beautiful, curly-headed boy disappeared.

I realized suddenly that I didn't care any more, either.

About her.

Maybe I hadn't for a long time.

Some people's treasures are just another person's trash.

Whether they are childhood toys...or they are married to them.

I think it was a Murray.

It may have been red and yellow.

I've forgotten.

It was never my Childhood Toy, or Memory, you see.

It is only a Memory of a Memory now.

The tractor long since gone. My buddy, dead and buried.

A copy of a copy of a copy that gets progressively lighter every year.

I think it was a Murray.  

Or maybe a Case 
                     or perhaps Farmall...

The REAL "Reason for the Holiday Season"...Turkey...and discovering an Author

                               And I can't believe he actually eats these!


The REAL Blessing behind the matter what you celebrate.

And that morning's "Calm Before the Storm" before everyone arrived.

General consensus being that the main thing we were THANKFUL for that afternoon was Pizza for Dinner instead of more! And all being together again!

It's so wonderful to have almost all my Grands in one big group.

Happy Chaos! 

If Preston could have made it, it would have been Perfect!

About the turkey.  Rolling out noodles to accompany a bit more of it today...maybe tucking a little in with veggies and a white cream sauce beneath a crust for Sunday...and freezing the rest.  I think Butterball may single-handedly hold the key to eliminating World Hunger.  Saving some of the broth in ice cube trays to pop out into freezer bags for use later, as well. Later, in the midst of ice and snow, hot turkey vegetable soup will sound appealing again.

But not today...

Spent part of Wednesday camping out in my local library's periodical room...catching up on the monthly glossies and picking up some reading for the weekend.

What I FOUND was a (new to me) Author.

The discovery of a new author is much like poking your finger in a box of assorted chocolates after the cheat-sheet has long since gone missing.This one too sticky...this one is you poke and poke away...finally finding that one...the one you were looking for all along. I picked up two books of short stories for the holiday weekend. It was only after I was settled in my chair

(which really isn't a chair at all...but the end of a short love-seat where I like to curl beneath a soft leopard throw with a cup of ginger peach tea and read) 

that I realized that both books are by the same guy. I had never heard of him and didn't expect much. Three stories in- I am hooked. An Indiana author...and don't you know I love those. The John Green types who paint me a picture of places I grew up. Know. So when he is describing that booth at Steak and Shake at 96th Street, I know it...because I have sat there myself.

Yes...this week I poked at the candies and came up with Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Filled. One of my favorite sweets.

The Author: Michael Martone

The Short Story Compilations:

Four For a Quarter


Although he is now teaching at the University of Alabama, the flavor of Indiana (and at times neighboring Illinois) trickle throughout his essays like warm sorgum or boil't down maple sap. 

A little further research revealed he has a serious body of work. I have found 25 other books available, so far...both fiction and non-fiction.

 Martone may compose most of my Winter Reading list!

Can't say enough good things about this writer. Give him a try! 
You might just be hooked, too. addition the skipping Black Friday...I have decided to take an oh-so-slow weekend.  Not bringing the Christmas Stuff out until Monday. Just going to enjoy the last bit of Fall smells and decor and such. Work on the Holiday cards. Eat. Nap. Read. Enjoy a long bubble bath. Sleep in.

More anon...

Have a Great Weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Thanksgiving Forage & Hunt

And it felt a LOT like this.  Where the hell did all these people come from???

And how did the entire family buy TURKEY for each of our individual celebrations...

And so, although I am fixing a small replica including a Not-So-Big Bird...Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potatoes, and other accoutrements of the Holiday Table
last but not least Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting tomorrow...this will not be Friday's Family Meal.

I think I speak for all of us by saying we will be DONE with Turkey and all the fixings until at least next November. 


Friday's Feast will be a Pizza Extravaganza!

And the Grands will be Thrilled.

And I am, as well...everyone will be here except Lennon (who is in Florida) and Preston (who is with his Aunt)  & include (hopefully) my two grand-daughters I have not seen since late August!


Can't wait!

Today's forage, hunt and gather finished out the provisions...celebrated by my buddy Tommy and I with a trip to McDonald's for McRibs...because "tis the season!"

"Yeah...that is what I'm talkin' about!"
Soon to initiate my DIL to their barbecued goodness. The girl has never tried a McRib!  Her culinary education sorely lacking. 

"Come on over to the McRib side...we have pickles and onions!"

So, a great ride in "Red", everything we need in the house until at least Monday,  McRibs, and December's accounts settled. 

Bring on the Holidays!   

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

SNOW....Pre-Thanksgiving with Chris and Tina & Family...and HAIR (not the Musical)

Woke yesterday morning and you could just smell the Snow coming on the air.  Before noon it had arrived...softly falling duck-feather snow...blanketing the ground, covering the last burst of the roses, and making the world look like you were standing in the midst of a snow-globe that had been shook.  It was/is beautiful!
Never mind dates of Solstice and such.
Winter is here. 

It made for a perfect pre-holiday celebration morning as Chris and Tina were hosting their Thanksgiving (early) yesterday.  This year, we are all Hobbiting. Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner...Thanksgiving Dinner..and Post-Thanksgiving Dinners (my place on Friday) But yesterday, with the snow falling, a pumpkin candle lit, pies baking...the feeling was

My contribution to their Feast (above).

Part of their Chocolate Pies... Connie's Home-made Egg Noodles...Kimberly's Baked Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes...Christopher's Red Mashed Potatoes and Home-made Dressing...and Tina's Turkey ala Orange. The puff-cups above stuffed with Green Bean Casserole mix and topped with cheese and baked. Compliments of Tina and Pintrest.
And they were delicious!

Kimber overseeing the guys dart game. Chris gone all Fluffy-Beard. And yes...I have been after him to glitter it for the Christmas Family Gathering ( no avail...)


And Kimberly's Emma...who stole the show...and is going to look just like Aunt Tina when she grows up!

"I shall call her mini me."

Such a wonderful time...and indulging in leftovers today!  Nothing like starting the morning with hot coffee, pumpkin pie and whipped cream!

About the HAIR thing.

 This was my hair 5 years ago.

This was my hair last year.
A bit of grey creeping in...and that's ok. I've earned it...but still more or less the same.

Except for trimming and keeping it about this length...I haven't had it short for many many years. The last time was for the USN in the 80's.

At it's longest (pre-Navy Days) I could sit on it. Not terribly functional but it looked nice.


You know the hobby I have of testing Consumer Products before they are marketed?

(there is a point to all of this)

A while back I was sent an "innovative, new type of shampoo and conditioner" to TEST.

So I did...thinking

What is the worst that could happen? 

Note to self:  
Never ASK this question.

The plain white bottles, numbered Product 291 or some such, contained lightly fragranced thick white shampoo and conditioner.  The Survey touted the new product's ability to texturize, thicken, add body to your hair.

Sounds nice.

Yeah, right...

In their defense, I used it about three times before realizing the damage that was occurring.

The first use...and my hair actually did seem a bit thicker, more body, easier to style and hold curl. By the third use it was too late.

Way too late.

The test product was layering something akin to a thin plastic coating on my hair each time it was used. Trying to strip it later with harsh detergents was useless. It was there. The first time I tried to braid my hair back it began to clump together much like dreadlocks and could not be combed through.

When I contacted the Research Company they helpfully asked if I would like to try a DIFFERENT product instead. 

"No....possibly even Hell No!"

And it is here I would like to say...unless you are Angelina Jolie as "Sway" in Gone in 60 white person looks good in Dreads. Okay? She may look sexy in them, but the rest of us just look Homeless.
Profoundly homeless.

And nothing was touching the crap.  I seriously was considering cutting it all off...completely and starting over.

If a person had bought this at their local this moment there would have been lawyers involved. Really. It was that bad/damaging.

For Yesterday's Thanksgiving I simply braided all the clumps back up and wrapped them and it looked more or less presentable.

Nicole SAVED my hair.

She came yesterday armed with an array of products she had used on her hair during an over-processing crisis.  This morning I have spent hours stripping, washing, hydrating, conditioning, conditioner packing, pouring an entire bottle of detangler over my head, using a detangling comb for hours getting rid of the gunk...

And that is why the bottom of the tub looks like somebody bathed
Chewbacca in it.


I have enough combed out, ruined, snarl and mess of destroyed hair to build my own Yorkie Terrier. And it is the right colour.

And have pre-emptively put a bottle of Drano down the drain.  

The good news is that it is mostly okay.
 I may end up losing a few inches but it is just hair and it grows quickly. A few more washes and comb outs and it will be soft and shiny again. The left half already is...the right...well...still needs work, but it is getting there.

Learned a few lessons though in all of this.

I will never ever ever test hair products again.  EVER.

And life is too short to buy cheap hair care products. Ever again. 

And I have the BEST daughter-in-law! She was as horrified as I was when she saw it at first.

(...and maybe that it is just hair...if it hadn't worked, I had resolved to cut it off short, and wasn't too traumatized about the idea...)

So re-heating the leftover plate, and settling in with the Sunday Edition. Back to the shower and hair thing this evening...and then to see Spectre...the newest Bond Film.

Can't wait!

More anon...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Birthday...Last Saturday's Debate (a bit late)...More on Refugees/ISIS...and November in Normandy

Had a wonderful afternoon yesterday hosting Sharon's 75th Birthday Party!

Loretta and I,  Judy, John, Bill and Eric...and Sharon, of course! Coffee and High Tea and Ice Cream Cake and listening to her detail 3/4 of a Century of Living. Luxury gifts from all of us...because when you reach 75 it isn't as though you really NEED! But there ARE a number of things you really really want!

It made me happy to see her so happy!

So...I think I am slipping a bit. Stayed up all evening on Saturday to watch the 2nd of the Democratic Debates...and then didn't bother to mention a word about them.  Twenty years ago I would never have been so remiss.  Mea Culpa.

The Debate

Well...the field of five has quickly narrowed to three.
They still have Hillary Center Stage.

And some of the answers to Saturday's debate questions bordered on bizarre. Seriously. Completely Random. "WTH" Moments. O'Malley found his groove for a while...but then lost it again, so most of the rest of his time was pretty much


However, Bernie and O'Malley did do a nice tag-team effort on Hillary when the conversation turned to Wall Street and Economics. 

" Wall Street gives you Millions of Dollars for Campaign Funds...and YOU don't think they WANT something in return?"  (Bernie)

A Grilling to which Clinton eventually lost her cool and evoked 9/11 and played the "...But I'm a GIRL" card.

And I have to think that I am not the only one who is getting really really sick of the

"...but I have a vagina" 


"Honey, in case you didn't know...those come STOCK."
              (...this should be on a tee-shirt...)

Just sayin'

And bringing up 9/11 was just wrong on so many levels.

So Bernie shone, O'Malley showed he could be a Scrapper, and Hillary played Defense a lot of the evening. Great earrings and strand of Bab's pearls, though...and I admit...$600.00 or not...loved the new hair! 

Note to Hillary...a several thousand dollar pants suit, pearls the size of birds eggs, a great hair make-over, Botox, and a vagina do not a President make. Polished up by The Capitol. For a moment I got this ghastly vision of her as "Effie" telling the others

    "And May the Odds be EVER in your Favor."

Another one bites the dust, as Bobby Jindal has announced dropping out of the GOP contenders this morning. Which leaves how many now. 
I'm afraid I've lost count.

Anyway, thinning the herd just a little more.
and as Martha Stewart would remind us

"That's a GOOD thing."

So doing a lot more research on the screening procedure for entry into the US for these people.

And out of 9 million displaced people thusfar only one individual (Paris) was found with a forged Syrian passport.

And of the thousands already given sanctuary no reported problems. 

I think I feel a bit better about this.

The Governors meeting with the President soon to discuss their fears, concerns...and hopefully learn a bit about what powers they do and do not have under the Constitution.

After reading some of the hate-filled horrible rhetoric on the Newsfeed and Internet I have a few observations of my own I want to make.

If you profess to follow This Guy

but don't give a damn about these guys

then you're DOING it WRONG. 

And if you will fight for the Rights of This

but not for this

Don't bother to get in my face and spout Anti-Abortion Propaganda...your argument is invalid.

And TEXAS states it is now afraid that Syrian Refugees might get GUNS easily in Texas.


Which rather surprised me...since they seem hell-bent on arming pretty much EVERYONE.

Remember Texans...your battle cry

"Guns don't kill people!"

Still FEEL that way?

And THIS Guy

Our State Governor who immediately jumped on the bandwagon to stop Refugees from coming to his State...and let's put THAT in perspective.  Promising we will be SAFER.

On Friday night in Paris some 130+ people lost their lives in a terrorist attack.  Since January of 2015 there have been 135 homicides in the city of Indianapolis alone.  In fact, Indy ranks in the top 10 cities now for Homicides. Even without terrorists.

Right Mike. Bang up job so far.

And, The Donald, who has started saying he will make Mosques and the Muslim Religion Illegal.

 (...just shaking my head...)

A guy running for President who appears to know nothing about the Preamble to the Constitution. 

Go Figure.

Anyway...I have no answers...only observations. But after familiarizing myself with the screening/vetting of the small number of refugees we have already taken into the United States (2000 people last count with 0 incidents since 2011) and those to come...I feel much less anxious about it. Our vetting process alone takes almost 2 years. Sometimes more. They learned a valuable lesson from  the 1980 fiasco; part of which gave rise to the 1980 Refugee Act.

I feel better about that.

Since I am running this whole Virtual France Adventure up to include a French Christmas...thought I would take what is left of November and explore Normandy.

And looking forward to the ROCK that Lillian has promised to bring me back from their "real time" adventure in France!

Collecting the World. One Stone at a Time!

More anon...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Love...Fearless...and The Refugee/ISIS Dilemma

"We're FLYING Jack!

Try it?
Yeah...I don't think so....okay.

The kids had a wonderful 2nd Anniversary Getaway!

When I watched the videos of them both crossing that ravine and lake through the treetops I found myself holding onto my chair.


They are both fearless.

Tonight I find myself torn between doing/knowing what is the right thing to do for the over 9 million refugees fleeing from Syria...and knowing that during the chaos at the borders and the wanting to help from all over the globe it sets up a very real threat that ISIS operatives could slip amongst their numbers (and already have in France, it appears) because they see the (horrific) opportunity it provides. 

I watched this play out in the 1980's with Castro. Opening his prisons and psychiatric hospitals and deliberately sending these people on the Mariel while we were taking in Cuban Refugees...we were also taking in sociopaths, murders and schizophrenics. Some we managed to screen out effectively. Others are still living in Miami and beyond...or re-incarcerated after committing heinous crimes here. So yes.
It is a very real scenario.

On the far left there is a scathing outcry of "how inhumane are we" to question or stop people who are just seeking refugee. Fleeing for their lives.

On the far right it is another chance to take a swipe at President Obama and not only should we refuse all refugees...but we should be suspect (ala post 9/11) of any Muslim...including those who are natural born Americans...or anyone who even remotely resembles Middle Eastern Decent.

Quite a few Republican Governors including Mike Pence (My State's Governor) has already issued a statement suspending Refugees from staying here.

And, of course that is not within his power.

Federal Law supercedes State Law, and has since the final volley of the Civil War. Congress...The President and probably the Supreme Court will doubtless end up attempting to sort this tangled can of worms...but Governors don't/can't decide. It is Unconstitutional.

They will learn that soon enough.  You would have thought they would have already learned it from the SSM fiasco. 

Sadly, no.

And so, here we are, back to the very real threat of ISIS Infiltration. And the Logistics. And if 200 refugees are in any neighboring state...even if your state doesn't allow them...what is keeping them from just travelling over the state line into your state, anyway? And what about all the others...the children, old people, women and mothers, young men, husbands and sons caught up in a mass exodus for their very lives from these same butchers. 

A destabilization of an area in which we played an integral part in...set in motion- by the way, with the invasion of Iraq and removal of the dictator that kept Shiite,Sunni and Kurdish factions in check.

It is much more complicated than the far left or the far right could ever distill into a bunch of sound bytes.

What keeps some of our home-grown radicals, who may look as 'Murican as you or I, from working with ISIS/forming their own cell. They say most of the French Terrorist behind Friday's attack were French and Belgium Nationalists. 

What if some of our soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan angry, maimed, disillusioned decide to "Show America"  (...think Timothy McVeigh...people)

And some of the same people who said horrible things about the French and coined the ignorant terms "Freedom Toast" and "Freedom Fries" when France refused to engage in Iraq during the Bush Jr. Years are the people who are NOW bashing this President and saying

 "Look how great France is and how they responded with bombings" 

Never mind that we have been bombing ISIS for quite some time now.

There are no easy answers. Maybe the recent attacks in France will galvanize the Coalition. Maybe all the Nations including America and Russia will crush this resistance once and for all, and all the Syrians can return to their homeland. Maybe the sleeper cells and coordinated attacks in Paris were only the tip of a very huge and very real iceberg. Maybe attacks will begin to pop up globally from ISIS now. Maybe here, too.

One thing I have noticed. Americans throughout the US have the mindset of

"...terrorism happens to OTHER people and other countries...not us." 

Actually, we take this attitude about a great many things in life.

It is a mistake. 

One additional thing I am sure of...we have got to stand together and stop tearing at one another. Our constant infantile bickering will be our undoing.

Stay Focused.  And may saner heads prevail.

More anon...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Finishing Fall and France...Starbucks Cup Debacle...Zen Sunday Retreat and The Book of the Week

So...this is IT then?

Winter is Coming.  
 (...thanks Ned...)

Strong winds and cold nights, punctuated by several evening rainfalls, and the leaves are crisp, brown, mostly gone now. It has been an magnificent Fall...and I am looking forward to the first snowfall!

With the exception of a French Decor for Christmas...lots of golds,creams,ribbon,candles and Virtual Adventure to France now over as well.  
It has been a wonderful year-long discovery. 

As a lasting reminder (and as an excuse to change up my dinnerware) I found Country Crest by Better Homes and Garden, and now have this set.

Since Chris and Tina had the very same Red Soho set that I purchased...and since they are missing a few pieces of theirs...I am passing on mine to them- to round out their set.
And I have a new set I absolutely ADORE.
It is a win-win. 

James and Nicki off for their "Anniversary Getaway" until Monday. Along with their "Getaway Bag" I threw together for them. I had forgotten how much fun putting together one of these was. Bill and I celebrated 18 Anniversaries before his death. On each one we would run away to an Inn or Brown County/ Nashville...and before we left I would always pack a bag or basket with a few of our favorite things. I like to think we set a good example through the years for the boys.

And so...tah dah...the beginnings of their 2nd Anniversary Getaway Bag  (...and Nicole confided she was off to find a nice bit of lingerie today...) 

With Zip-Lining and Monster-Trucks, Tattoos and Fishing Together on their 3 day agenda...James laughed and proclaimed

"Best Wife...EVER!"

I have to agree with him!

Then there was THIS:

Yes...who knew Solo Cups were actually the Original Rebel.

And a lot of people asking WWJD when it comes to Starbucks "Holiday Cup"

"I'm glad you asked. I would dump out that bitter, over-priced crap they try to pass off as coffee and try to find something decent to drink. Nice cup, though."  JC

Just another cry in the wilderness from

"We...the Perpetually Offended"

I liked my oldest son's bio-dad's take on life...once remarking:

"I find myself perpetually amazed and amused...of course it may be the Merlot."

 So...the end of a fairly productive week. Got things together and mailed for "Idgy's Fall Box" and Lennon's 27th Birthday next week. As well as James and Nicole's Anniversary. And all arrangements made for Sharon's Birthday Party on Tuesday!  Kind of feels like hearing the 8 second buzzer when you are riding that Bull. 

I want to throw my hand up or something!

Finishing up with a Cinderella Day around the house tomorrow...clean....dust...toss...prepare...make things comfortable...and then-

An "At Home Zen Retreat" all day, Sunday!

And thoroughly enjoyed this year's Fall Visit with an old friend/former love, as well. We meet seasonally now. It is very nice!  Relaxing together and discussing not only our children...but now our grands. How can that be? Were we EVER that young and are we REALLY this old! Fixed Home-made Banana Walnut Bread and Coffee and enjoyed the perfect Autumn day.

Reconvening in "The Winter" with Hot Cocoa!

This Week's Book: A memoir from one of my favorite writers, Joyce Carol Oates, entitled "The Lost Landscape" 

Although, there were some interesting items I was not aware of in the book...overall it was fairly mediocre and at times difficult to finish. I enjoy her fiction very much, but found this book to be rather "meh".

Not recommended. 

Enjoy the Weekend!


Make Your Life Exceptional!

Sending positive energy and prayers tonight to those caught up in the multiple Terrorist Attacks in Paris...and special thoughts of Shirley, Lillian and Cathy...three DS sisters who are on Holiday in France. Stay Safe and Alert and let us know you are okay!