Monday, December 29, 2008

December 26

Brother Rick turned 65 on December 26. I last saw him in October when this photo was taken. I cherish it because it includes we three surviving siblings. Valery on the left, Rick's wonderful partner, Kathy, me and the birthday boy. We gathered at Colleen's house for a mini-reunion. I have no idea what we thought was so funny, but we don't need much of an excuse to get silly and laugh our heads off. On the 26th Kathy hosted a birthday party for Rick in Napa. I've heard from Valery and Colleen that it was a great party; I wish I had been there.
Rick's 65th birthday was also the 100th wedding anniversary of our beloved grandparents, Ernest and Minnie P. Blair. They were married at 4 A.M. in Placerville, California and then took a train to San Francisco for their honeymoon.
Here's Minnie Pauline Nichols in her wedding gown.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boys and Toys

Grandpa and Ben assembled the double bass drum pedal Ben received for Christmas. The first step in the process is: Throw away the assembly instructions -- those idiots don't know what they are doing, a real man can figure this out, never mind that he's never been within spitting distance of a bass drum, it's all simple mechanics. And fortunately, it worked. Ben can now beat his bass drum twice as fast as he could previously.
Logan's not in the picture because he's out riding his new scooter. I'm sitting in a chair unwilling to relocate just to get a photo. I'll get one of Logan another day,
We had a small select group for Christmas dinner. The meal was fabulous, thanks to Julia's help in the kitchen. The menu was a scrawny 9-1/4 pound free-range turkey that nevertheless tasted delicious, stuffing, cranberry/orange sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans Lyonnaise, Brussel sprouts with cheese, spicy carrots, crab salad, rolls, pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies, wines, and sparkling cider. I had a back-up ham in case we ran out of turkey, but we didn't. The ham has sustained us ever since: ham and eggs with Rachel and Kevin the next morning for breakfast, ham sandwiches, ham and cheese with mac and peas, and plain old ham.
We are having typically crazy Missouri weather. A few days ago the river was frozen. Yesterday was a record high 70 degrees. Today we are under a tornado watch and flash flood warning with possibility of severe thunderstorms and large hail. But tonight the temp is supposed to plummet again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Under the Wire

Tonight I finished sewing the label on Bernice's quilt. Now it will go into the washing machine and then under the tree. Tomorrow I convert my sewing room back into a dining room and start to put the house in order for Christmas. It pleased me that I was able to make quilts for both Arlan and Bernice entirely out of material I had on hand. I completed twelve quilts this year and did the quilting on each myself. I have two quilt tops that are ready to quilt and a couple more projects under way. But, I won't touch them until next year. After twelve months of quilting, I have learned a lot and feel as though I have just completed my freshman year at Quilt U.
It's bitter cold, we had a couple of days in the single digits with wind chill down as low as 15 below zero. It's 22 now and snow and ice are forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday, clearing for Christmas.
The boys finished up the semester in fine style -- all A's except a B in PE for Logan (attendance) and a B in Social Studies for Ben.
Ben has a cold and it makes his newly changed voice even deeper. Today when Irene called, she thought she had the wrong number! They are both 5'6" now, very handy for reaching things too high for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Naughty or Nice

I always thought I was the nice one and my brother the naughty one. I don't think I look so innocent here, if ever I saw a scheming look on the face of a little girl, here it is. He, on the other hand is all wide-eyed innocence. However, Santa did bring me a Patsy doll which my brother threw over the back fence and some Story Book dolls which he gave away to a girl friend. No, I never got over it -- but please don't get me a doll for Christmas.
This picture was taken in Oakland at H. C. Capwell's in 1943 when I was four and a half and Mickey was three.
Today I finished my Christmas shopping and mailed my last package. I put off shopping all week because the roads and parking lots have been icy, but today's rain washed it all away.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You're a Good Man, Linus; Good Dog, Snoopy

Linus, aka Ben, complete with blanket slung over shoulder, and Snoopy (Logan) with duct tape ears, stand second and third from the left, respectively. They were great, of course. Church groups are so important in this part of the country and can provide the nucleus of a kid's social life. Ben's social life centers on his activities, band, church, and tae kwan do, while Logan is more school oriented. School friends, community dances, and the bus ride to school are important to Logan while Ben is indifferent. Ben enjoys the Youth Group at church and select friends from school. To Logan, "rep" is all and Ben doesn't get it.
Last night two of Ben's school friends came over for a study group and dinner (a double batch of Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas). The bare minimum amount of studying occurred and a maximum of music-making. We waited eagerly for the two to four inches of snow forecast and anticipated school closing for today. Nada. Schools in all directions were closed, but I guess we must live in the banana belt. We awoke to green grass, clear roads, and snow-free roof-tops. That's not to say it hasn't been cold - in the lower teens, with wind chill around zero.
Night before last, in this freezing cold, an Amish family was visiting with neighbors. At 9:30 when they were heading home, they put their 3-1/2 year old little girl in the carriage and then the horse spooked and ran off. The little girl fell out and couldn't be found. She was out in the freezing cold wearing a dress, sweater, and bonnet all night long, until she was found huddled in a ditch by a passing motorist at 7:00 A.M. Her survival was a miracle. She had only a few scrapes and bruises from her fall and mild hyperthermia from which she has completely recovered. The fact that it was an Amish family makes the story even more poignant to me. I have such a fascination for the Amish and would love to experience their life style on a trial basis (during the summer, please, and minus the religious stuff and the male dominance).
On other religious notes, I have heard that one of our local mega-churches has commercials during their Sunday Services. Specifically, for Mountain Dew. I guess they have to pay for all that fancy stuff somehow. I won't mention the church because I have only the word of one of the neighbor kids on the subject, but somehow, it wouldn't surprise me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ssssshhhhhh

On Thanksgiving, we drew names for our family gift exchange and I drew Arlan's name. So, of course, I made him a quilt. I think he will be more likely to use this lap quilt if Bernice has one too, so I'll start hers today and I'm pretty sure I can finish it by Christmas. If not, her birthday is in January.
Christmas will be at our house, but there will be a fairly small group, nine, I think. We'll all fit around the dining room table. On New Year's weekend, we'll have another celebration when the Massachusetts contingent will be here.
It's been really cold; it didn't get above freezing yesterday. I'm quite content to stay in the house, sewing and getting ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's Good for GM is . . .

Gas is down to $1.37.9. Why can't I just enjoy the relief? Why do I feel manipulated? Something's fishy. The big 3 automakers are in trouble and need federal assistance. I wonder how much inventory they have in gas guzzling SUVs and trucks? Do you suppose their sales will improve now that gas prices have hit a five-year low? I don't pretend to understand big picture economics, but it just seems to me that low gas prices have got to benefit the automakers. I vaguely remember light rail systems (street cars) all over the country being converted to buses to the benefit of the auto industry just after the WWII. You don't suppose we're being had again?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Update

As of December 7, morning boy has opened 15 doors on his Advent Calendar and this morning he ate the seventh chocolate from evening boy's calendar. Evening boy has wisely moved his calendar into his room.
Both boys performed in the local premier of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Of course they were stellar. The event was a Foster Family Christmas Dinner sponsored by our church. Attending were local foster parents and children who received bags of toys from a Santa who had been generously supplied by local merchants. I found it very hard to be among these innocent children who have such ruptured lives that they have been placed in foster care. It's so close to my home and my heart that I cannot keep from crying when I am among them.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pizza my Pocketbook

Papa Murphy's pizza is the best in town. On that we agree. It goes downhill from there. One large pizza is plenty to feed the three of us. Unfortunately, we can't agree on crusts, toppings, etc. But they do have individual pizzas. But the thick crust extra cheese (Ben) is only available in large. Logan and I each favor the thin crust style (also only available in large). So instead of a single large pizza, or three individuall sized-ones, we end up with three large pizzas. Instead of around $10, we spend in the neighborhood of $30. But, I get my garlic, chicken. artichoke, white sauce, thin crust, Ben has his thick crust extra cheese, and Logan enjoys his thin crust pepperoni. Does anyone else have this problem? Would you like to combine forces the next time we try to have pizza?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Counting Down

Each year the boys count down the days of December until Christmas. I get them an Advent Calendar to help with the countdown. Today is December 2, the day that the little door with the numeral 2 should be opened and the tiny chocolate within consumed by the the excited child. One boy chooses to open his in the morning, while the other waits until the evening. The "morning boy" lasted until about the 5th of December last year and then went berserk, opening all the little doors. Can you guess who is the "morning" boy and who is the white-knuckled "evening" boy?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wait Till Next Year!

Our garden now wears a thin blanket of snow -- the season's first. The snow's not deep enough to cover the streets, just a dusting, although the streets are icy and the driving is treacherous, but not bad enough for a snow day. The school bus arrived on schedule this morning.
The Christmas tree is up, but I have many more decorations to haul out and put in place before the house looks really warm and cheery. I am in the mood!