Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obligatory Yearend Wrapup

  • January began with a visit from Tom, Nichole and Mallaika -- a good omen.
  • The winter delivered fewer ice storms than previous years.
  • The boys traveled to Oregon with Kevin and Rachel to celebrate their great-grandmother's 90th birthday
  • In April, my family gathered around me to celebrate my 70th birthday -- I had eight sleepover guests. My house and heart were full to overflowing.
  • Least amount of tornado activity since we've lived here -- only one night in the shelter (in January!).
  • The boys finished elementary and Junior High School, each according to his grade. They got fabulous grades.
  • Ben went to summer school and to band camp.
  • Logan went to football camp and got really buff.
  • I spent most of the summer driving kids around.
  • Both boys went to California to visit Valery, Colleen and all the California relatives.
  • Rick gave us a health scare, but is fine, now.
  • Kathy and Rick got married.
  • Ben started high school, spent nearly every waking moment busy with band activities.
  • Logan started Junior High, played football -- never losing a game he played in.
  • I visited Tom, Nichole and Mallaika and we spent a weekend on Nantucket Island with Cousin Chris, her husband Lorenzo, and their child, Eleonora, visiting from Florence.
  • Colleen and Andy got married and are soooo happy.
  • Both boys started the year as sopranos and ended up tenors -- each grew six inches.
  • I quilted, and quilted, and quilted, and then I read a book.

Yeh, a couple of icky things happened, but they are in the past for the most part. All in all, it was a wonderful year.

Happy New Year! (And come visit me!)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ben Loves Books (His Mother's Child)

Ben is in his glory. This tower of books awaits his reading pleasure -- they should keep him busy for a month or two. We went to Barnes and Noble the day after Christmas and he spent his entire Christmas wad -- $130 -- on books. He loves to buy series that come in sets and then read the whole series IN ORDER, if you please. His bookshelves are filled with read and unread books, the unread books are tipped on their sides, or lay on top of the other books with the unread pages facing out. He would give up his brother or his dog sooner than he would part with a book. I've tried to point out there will come a time in his life when, as a college student, he will likely move frequently and books are heavy and take up a lot of space. He says that's OK, he'll just leave them with me until he gets settled.
But he comes by this genetically, I remember a day when his mother was a child -- about eight years old. We had been grocery shopping and were about to head for home and she began to pitch a fit. When I asked her what was wrong, she wailed, "I can't go home, I have nothing to read." Fortunately, because I carry the same gene, I understood perfectly and we made a stop at the library before continuing homeward.

Friday, December 25, 2009


At dawn's first light, from my front door: it's white, it's cooooold, (15 degrees, wind chill -2) and it's treacherous -- there's a layer of ice on the street.

Such a teen-ager!! I actually had to wake him up this morning!

They've been very good boys this year, Santa brought lots of presents.

Oh Boy! Socks!

And Underwear!!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pictures to Follow

Here's the menu so far as I know it, still subject to change:
Cheese and Crackers
Cocktail Wiener wraps
Clam Dip
Sparkling Cider
Prime Rib
Cranberry/Orange Relish
Spicey Carrots
Green Beans Lyonnaise
Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Parmesan
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Dinner Rolls
Crab Salad
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie

I expect around 22 people, more are welcome! There's plenty of food, plenty of room, we expect to have plenty of fun, and just maybe, a white Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Delicate Balance

Ben has a few OCD quirks. Recently he has taken up balancing things in odd places. He leaves a knife straddling the kitchen sink every time he goes through the kitchen.

Here's another. This banner hangs from an over-the-door wreath hanger. He balanced the wooden dowel the banner hangs from on the tip of the wreath hanger. I'm sure there are others, I have to keep my eyes open.

I just made the banner last week from a kit that has been hanging around the house several years. The year Rachel and Kevin were married, I bought it by mistake thinking it was a kit for a stocking to make for Rachel. At least now I can move it from my unfinished projects storage area to the Christmas stuff. And yes, I bought another kit and made a stocking for Rachel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Life in the Banana Belt -- the Gray Zone

This morning's weather map shows us in the gray zone, again. Weather seems to go all around us -- never quite happening where we are. That's a good thing if you are talking about tornadoes and ice storms. But, if it's snow, the boys want it here, now! Or maybe for Christmas -- here's a piece of next week's forecast:

Do you think we could have a white Christmas?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Stockings Are Hung . . .

Over the years I've made 15 or so of these sequined felt Christmas stockings for my children, grandchildren, great-granddaughter, and various spouses. When I hung Ben and Logan's stockings the year of Robin's death, I was surprised to find some chocolate coins in both stockings. I felt they were a gift from her to her boys. So, each year when I hang the stockings, I put a few chocolate coins in them.

Here's Logan's stocking -- this one confuses me. I'm not sure what Noah's Ark has to do with Christmas, or how those candy canes got on the ark. I guess this proves the flood occurred over Christmas and that Santa Claus predates Jesus.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Women Who Hang Together

Silent sentries on my dining room wall watch over me and guide me while I'm sewing. They inspire me and I find them great company. Many of my quilting hours are filled with speculation about their daily lives. Let me introduce you.

Lucy Nichols, my great-great grandmother, came from Bridgeport, Connecticut to California. She was a true 49'er. She and her husband somehow made their way to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1849, leaving their six year old son, my great-grandfather, William Nichols, in the care of Lucy's parents. Lucy's mother would not allow them to take William on that dangerous trip because she feared Indians would surely scalp him. Lucy and her husband, Eli, arrived safely in El Dorado County and sent word to Lucy's mother to pack little William off to California. The six-year-old boy traveled by boat, alone, wearing a tag around his neck with his name and contact information about his parents. He crossed the isthmus of Nicaragua and sailed up the California coast, arriving in San Francisco a day ahead of schedule. No one was there to meet him. Fortunately, a kindly couple had taken him under their wing and took care of him over night, delivering him safely to his parents the next day.

William grew up in California and married his California-born bride in Shingle Springs in the late 1860's. His wife, Christina, hangs below her mother-in-law.

I don't know much about Christina Wagner Nichols, except that her father was said to be very mean . She died in 1898 of pneumonia when my grandmother was twelve years old. Her husband remarried the stereotypical wicked step-mother, so my grandmother and her little brother left home to live with an older sister in Placerville.

Amanda Schooley, my great-grandmother (mother to my paternal grandfather, Ernest William Blair), looks down from the upper right hand position. Amanda was born in Ovid, New York in 1842, one of eight children born to Nancy and Ezra Schooley. Ezra left New York to seek his fortune in California in 1850. Unfortunately, he died "about ten miles short of the diggin's" from the "disease of the country" which I take to be dysentery. Coincidentally, years later but before I had dug up this family history, I bought a home in El Dorado Hills, about ten miles from Coloma, just off the road that leads to Coloma, where Ezra Schooley is buried.

Amanda Schooley was a middle child in the brood of eight and just a couple of years older than her cousin Frances (Fanny) Seward, who lived in Auburn, New York. Fanny's mother Frances, was the wife of William Seward, Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state.

Frances' (the elder) picture is in the lower right hand corner. Amanda had great respect and love for the Sewards and spent a great deal of time in their home, until she left for California in 1861. In 1862 she married James Blair and they settled in Pollock Pines where they operated Sportsman's Hall -- an inn and changing station for teams crossing the Sierra to bring supplies in to the Comstock silver mines in Nevada and to bring silver out to be shipped east. Later, James and his brother John made their fortune in the lumber business.

Frances Seward was an amazing woman. She was a great champion of public education, prisoner's rights, and emancipation. The Seward home was an underground railroad station and just down the road -- South Street -- from Harriet Tubman's farm. The Sewards held (and forgave) the mortgage on the Tubman farm. Frances died in June, 1862, just a couple of months after the terrible attack on her husband and son that coincided with Lincoln's assassination. Fanny, the daughter and Amanda's companion, died in October of the same year.

So, I sit and sew and speculate on their lives. More musings about them another time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Morning Sounds

From Logan's room, the muffled music from his radio sounds like Moroccan camel driver music, "heeba, heeba, wumpah, wumpah, thump thump." No matter what the song, they all sound the same coming through his door and down the hall to where I sit quilting in the dining room over my second cup of coffee.
From Ben's room, nothing, silence. I resist the impulse to stick a mirror under his nose and check for breath, any sign of life. Remember how when your baby was new born you frequently checked to make certain s/he was still breathing? You got over it by trading that worry for a desperately needed full night's sleep. With these guys, I don't get over it. I still need to check on them early in the morning, or in the night if I should awaken. I need reassurance of their safety more than I need uninterrupted sleep. What am I going to do when they are driving and dating?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


There you have it -- the first snow of the season on Logan's sweatshirt. Not much more is forecast, but we're all excited anyhow. I haven't yet seen enough snow in my life to be indifferent to it -- I still get crazy happy when it starts to fall. The kids do too, although I'm not sure if it is the snow or the possibility of a snow day that thrills them.