Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

For all those blogger buddies who stuck with me through a rather long drop out when I didn't post at all, and then continued to stick throughout my period of political rant., I just want to say, Thank you! Please know I'll never take you for granted!

And for all my Blogger Buddies, old and new, I want to say that its my life has been enriched from reading your stories and seeing your pictures..Thank you all for sharing your lives and your ideas! I wonder what you'll show and tell me in 2009....

As for me, I was going to post something funny I got in email a month or so ago, but couldn't find it. Luckily, just this morning a friend sent me this bit of frivolity..

Have a Happy, Healthy, and

Prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In winter, I get up at night,
and dress by yellow candle light...
Robert Louis Stevenson
Granny J of Walking Prescott, mentioned a raccoon on her porch digging through her woodpile, where her little chipmunk lives. I woke up this morning wondering if raccoons commonly prey on those cunning little creatures as they sleep the winter away. Not a nice thought, but still, one that led me to think of the pet chipmunk I had as a child.
I was ten or eleven and we were living in the tiny house that my Mom and Aunt had remodeled here in Prescott, when one day, I found the cat playing with a little creature that turned out to be a chipmunk so tiny that it's eyes were still closed. I snatched it away to wrap it up in a wash cloth, knowing it needed to be kept warm. My Mom rigged a box with a light as an incubator, we took turns feeding it milk with an eye dropper and miraculously, the little thing lived.
I can't remember what we named the busy little creature, something inane like Chip I think. It had the run of the house and helped itself to pinon nuts and sunflower seeds from high, open cupboard shelves. Pinion nuts were not the expensive commodity they are now. They were available by the pound in little markets around town and there was always a little paper bag open for him next to an open bag of sunflower seeds. He would climb up into the cupboard filling his cheeks with pinons in the shell or sunflower seeds that he preferred to shell before scampering down to run around poking them into every available nook and cranny, every crack and fold throughout the house.
He loved to store his provisions in my tightly braided hair and took full advantage of easy accessibility when I was stretched out reading. (I think I had gone to sleep here motivating the picture taking. I still go to sleep in that position, wake to read a little more, and doze off again)
Up he would climb, running up to my shoulder to store his food in my hair, then away to refill his cheeks for a repeat performance.

When autumn came, little Chip disappeared. We looked everywhere, going through every drawer and cupboard in vain. We deduced that he'd somehow found his way outside and couldn't get back in, or as enchanted by the world as Mole in The Wind and the Willows, ventured off to see more. We missed his bright, busy little presence as winter bore down.
Imagine our delight when my Aunt pulled a heavy winter robe from the back of her closet to find a hibernating chipmunk curled up in a nest of Kleenex in the pocket. Carefully, she hung the robe back and we waited for spring when the little fellow reappeared as busy as ever and very ,very hungry.
The next year, he really did disappear in the fall and although we waited hopefully for spring, we never saw him again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas the Day After...

Roo proclaims a two thumbs up Christmas!

and I agree. We celebrated at my daughter's home this year where everything was bright and beautiful and of course we ate too much and wished for room enough for just one... more... piece of.... pie...

Now, the darkest days of winter are over and we're looking ahead to the new year with it's infinite possibilities. Ee and I put down our books to study the seed catalogs that have already started arriving in the mail. This year, I'm hoping to grow some of those tiny grape sized tomatoes. I'm watching some seeds on eBay...guess I'll get serious and bid on them.

Right now, I think I'll visit some blogger buddies...and maybe for breakfast, have..some left over scalloped potatoes...and just a very small slice of pie...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Holy Night

The stars were brightly shining.........

I love these old can click the first one to see the amazing detail, but for some reason the second won't respond.... here's the song, sweetly sung..

May you all be Blessed by a Bright and Joyous Christmas...................

Friday, December 19, 2008

Zis for....Zippity Doo Dah!

What a wonderful day! I made it all the way through the alphabet and I expect that tomorrow I'll feel a little lost....untethered.... at loose ends, but today it feels GOOD!
Lisa at
Laughing Orca Ranch who instigated this alphabet blog has been posting some great pictures and informative posts of her New Mexico home complete with it's fascinating array of creatures, including endangered breeds of sheep. If you love animals, you should meet Lisa's menagerie.

When I was a little girl in the forties, my Mom and I used to sing songs like Zippity Doo Dah just for fun. Her family always sang to entertain themselves on long trips.

Mom likes to tell about a trip she and her sister took with a friend and her family. As was their habit, Mom and my Aunt sang their hearts out as they drove along miles of dusty country road to their destination, a family reunion and picnic. After the long day of fun and food, and they had been packed along with their friend, into the back seat of the car, the father turned to give them a stern look..
"No singing!" he said emphatically.

The entire return trip was made in suffocating silence as two young girls digested the fact that not everybody sings everywhere they go.

Of course, I think they should, and the words of those old songs pop into my head as I'm driving or doing dishes. Before you know it, I'm singing away.
My children and grandchildren have enjoyed singing in the car,,,to a point. There's the joy of The Wheels on the Bus and B*I*N*G*O that escalates into learning a repertoire of new songs like Buffalo Gals and roundelays like Bright Coral Bells that are coincidentally, my favorites. Then come the elementary years when they teach me songs they've learned in music class inevitably followed by the Jr. High years when they firmly decline to sing at all. I can't blame it on the iPod either..that's just the way it is.

Here's Zippity Doo Dah from Disney's Song of the South.

Feel free to sing along!

Have yourself a Zippy little day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Y is for Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

aka....Milfoil, Knights milfoil, soldiers woundwort, herbe militarias, carpenter's weed, staunchweed, nose bleed, sanguinary, bloodwort.... just reading those names is a clue to the use of this herb's use throughout history. It got the name Achillea from the ledgend that it was used to staunch the bleeding of Achilles' soldiers war wounds.

This white yarrow is the variety that grows throughout Northern Arizona. I used to keep some in my garden and when one of my children got a minor cut or scrape I just mincd a little yarrow, mixed it up with a morter and pestle added some aloe vera, applied it to the wound and slapped a bandaid on it. As a dressing, it was a little lumpy, but I can't remember any complaints and everything healed just fine.

This pink yarrow is the variety growing in my garden now, but wild white yarrow still grows wild around the old well house. Many Gardners like this red variety although I've never had any luck growing it.

I'd like to have some of this cheerful yellow variety that was introduced from Europe and now grows wild in many areas of the United states.

I had a friend who made a salve of yarrow, aloe vera, and some other healing herbs, bonding it with beeswax from her own hives, a great improvement over my method. We called it her 'glop' and used it for years for everything from cuts to skin rashes.
A healing ointment is still made from yarrow and used in the Highlands of Scotland today.
The flowers are pretty in fresh cut or dried bouquets or just nodding their heads under the weight of droning bees in the summertime....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

X is for xerox

Every morning when I first turn on my computer, I pop in to Lets Say Thanks and send a postcard to a service man or woman. It takes about 60 seconds if I send one of their prewritten messages and a bit longer if I compose a message myself. My thought is that in one to five minutes a day, I can say thank you to three hundred and sixty-five members of the armed services a year.

My Lake Havasu Blogger friend, Changes in the Wind does this as well. She posted the icon I've placed on my side bar about a week ago. The icon is really too big for my sidebar, but I'll keep working on it....
The postcards are all children's colorful drawings and designs, so it's fun to pick one out. Xerox prints them out in batches and includes them in care packages for the troops.
So.....if you happen to have a spare sixty seconds......

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

W is for Wintery, Windy Day...

Snow has been falling off and on since about noon yesterday. Cold creeps in through unseen cracks in the old part of the house and the floors are fridged. I wear warm socks inside my Pooh slippers and both E. and I hunch over our keyboards wearing lightweight jackets as we wait for the house to warm up in the mornings.
Don't get me wrong. I love winters snow storms. I used to love them for all the anticipation and preparation. Kids all home safe and sound..check! Several days worth of kindling in the wood box...check!......several days worth of logs split and piled on the back porch..Check!...a couple of weeks worth of hay and rabbit pellets and dog food stored.....Check.....bird feeders filled..Check!...people food stored..especially the kind that goes into warm winter soups and stews.....Check! Then it was time to set soup kettle bubbling, build up a cozy fire and to curl up with a good book and read, occasionally to look up to see the snow piling up and up and to read.....
Things have changed a lot. We're at a lower altitude now and we're in a drought cycle, so snow no longer piles up as it did in the past. We no longer have to get to work through snow and ice.
Our fire is a gas log, an instant blaze whenever we like. but we still fill the bird feeders and curl up to read and watch the snow hoping it will pile up.. The phone rings and my sweet Daughter Kanga asks, "Do you need anything from the store? " I am so blessed.....
The only negative thing about this particular storm is the fact that OmegaMom has flown Alaska in order to spend some time with Granny J. of Walking Prescott, and to soak up some Arizona sunshine. If I knew a Sun Dance, I would do it for them, but I know they always have fun together no matter what the weather!

Monday, December 15, 2008

V is for Venison

Late yesterday afternoon, our Granddaughter, Mu
struggled in lugging a huge crock pot brimming with our son's rich, venison stew.
I knew they were coming, so I'd made some little cheesy biscuits and popped a peach and an apple pie in the oven (thank you Sara Lee)
My Mom hasn't been feeling well, so our son drove the hundred or so feet back to her little house and brought her up in style. We set up card tables in front of the fire and as we ate our simple meal, we talked and laughed, and talked.....
I needed that.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

U is for Umbel

When a cluster of small flowers at the end of a stem form a natural little bouquet it's called an umbel....

I'm so sad that Abraham Lincoln, photographer extraordinaire of My Birds Blog and Brookville Daily Photo is back in the hospital with a collapsed lung. Get well soon Abe!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

T is for Topiary

Topiary seems to go with Christmas time. The one below is made of Holly sporting red berries. It comes from a company that sells artificial flowers and topiaries.
They advertise the fun shapes below already lit by fairy lights. I really love the Saguaro cactus. The largest is 65" tall.

I've always had a fascination for topiary and have thought it would be fun to try one. Topiary like these are of tough woody plants like boxwood, juniper, or myrtle and are pruned little by little into the desired shape.

Maybe I could make an elephant.....but I'd rather have this dragon! Wait! I can have this's 100 feet long, sold at at Neiman Marcus for $35,000. It's in the 2008 Christmas catalog if you want one too...

You can buy wire frames to fill with sphagnum moss to achieve a fun look in much less time. There are a wide variety of whimsical shapes available. I 'd have a hard time choosing....

Cinderella and the Prince at Disney World.....

This swan is also made of sphagnum moss. I don't know how they colored it white! Or uncolored it green...hummmmm artificial white sphagnum moss?

I think I might just try a small sphagnum moss topiary next summer!
If you're interested in making a topiary, there's a lot of available information and many shapes of wire frames, including your favorite breed of dog as well as instructions are widely available.

Friday, December 12, 2008

S is for Spicy

Once or twice a year, I order spices and herbs online. By ordering the spices I use frequently, like chili powder and curry, in bulk I save a little money. But mostly I do it because they are fresher, and each time I can order something I've never tried before. This time I got a small jar of chipotle chili powder for it's smoky Southwest flavor, and some toasted onion powder hoping to give dips the taste without the salt. In the past I've ordered vanilla beans and lemon zest (not as good as freshly grated). Next time I think I'll try some whole nutmegs to grate myself!

I order from Spice Barn, but there are many spice companies online. They used to package everything in plastic bags, so that the whole house was filled with exotic scent the moment the box was opened.
Now, the packages, designed to preserve their contents, seal that aroma away. Still, it's fun to open the box and to think of the things I can cook...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

R is for Radiation

We're all aware now days, of the relationship of UV radiation from the sun's rays and skin cancer. Although I wear a high number sun blocker all year round, I still sprout little red bumps or scaly places that my dermatologist sprays with liquid nitrogen to kill any malignant cells. And once in awhile, a bump will appear that is significant enough to require a biopsy for skin cancer. So far, all my bumps have been basal cell carcinoma that is localized and doesn't metastasize to spread to other parts of the body as squamous cell carcinoma sometimes does and malignant melanoma always does.

Yesterday, I had to go to my Dermatologist to have a Mohs procedure on the side of my nose and then over to my Plastic Surgeon for a repair of the site. Mohs is named for Fredrick Mohs the Doctor who developed the procedure to make sure all cancerous cells are removed while avoiding the removal of more healthy tissue than needed. They slice a bit from the site and look at it right away under a microscope to make this determination. If they get all the cancer cells the first time, home you go. If not, back you go to have another thin slice taken away. I was lucky yesterday, and I had only one trip to the back. Then I was off to my Plastic Surgeon who is both very good at his job and an interesting guy.

Yesterday, as he deftly applied his tiny stitches, he told me about his 700 pound steer that had demolished a gate to make his way into the luxurious community surrounding Prescott's premier golf course. That area also opens up access to some steep and rugged forest on upper Aspen Creek and, after having been spotted along the fringes of the golf course a few times, it seems that's where the poor fellow must have ventured.
"You need cowboys," I advised.
He already has two cowboys from a local ranch lined up to look for his steer saying "I've had several offers , but these two are good in brush. I think they'll get the job done."
Before I knew it, he was finished and I came home to watch a movie or two with my head carefully tilted back as instructed.
Most of my skin cancers come from seeds planted by UV radiation while I was a carefree teen riding out across the prairie with no hat and returning home with many a bad sunburn. But we didn't know then. Did we?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Q is for....

I'm Quaffing my coffee, lost in Quixotry, as I consider the Quagmire of alphabetical blogging.
I'm in a Quandary and feel some Qualms as I'm off to a minor surgical procedure..not that I Quake in fear of Quackery from my Doctors., I'm not even Queasy...I just need to Quell the urge to keep on

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

P is for Pig

This year, we lost both our pot bellied pigs. First, Miss Suki died in her sleep early in the summer. Then T.S. Belliot became ill and died in early fall. She was thirteen and he was fourteen. They were both 'rescue pigs' . The life expectancy is twelve to fifteen years, so we should have been expecting it, but you never you?
Here come T.S. Belliot and Miss Suki out of their warm nest on what was probably a winter day. You can tell because they are trailing shredded paper that we used instead of straw. Paper is pretty insulating and along with all the old blankets, jackets and sweaters that made up their nest, I think they slept pretty warmly. The door they are exiting is a feed room, tool shed, and their house was the room behind it. That space was divided to give a chicken house above and the pig den below. There's a door that opens to clean both the chicken house and the pig's den with a baffled piggy door in the bottom.
The photo below must be summer as they look clean and sleek as they do what pigs do best. Miss Suki could often be seen grazing about the yard while a warm summer rain washed her clean, but Mr. Belliot would flinch at the first drop of any moisture , rushing to shelter as quickly as his little legs could carry him. A shameful mat of dirt would build up on his back until one of us would take up a toilet brush we kept for the purpose of cleaning him off. He never objected to that scratchy process! Pigs love to be scratched and fall over on their sides (known as pig tipping) to allow access to their tummies.
The chickens did their best to help him with his grooming problem. The little hen below,for one. During his last couple of months, T. and a young rooster were inseparable. The rooster slept with him in his den and could often be seen riding on his back as T. trudged over to investigate Tigger's compost. I'm sorry I never got a picture of them.

They were popular with people of all ages and had many visitors. Here, Tigger's Granddaughters come to see T to offer petting and treats. When my Granddaughter, Piglet was about that age and T. was almost fully grown, she held out a hand with a treat in it, but had her fist firmly closed around it. T. was young. The teeth in that huge maw were razor sharp, and my heart skipped a beat as, before I could stop her, the tiny fist totally disappeared inside!
I was afraid to do or say anything for fear of startling one or both of them. Eventually the little hand was spat out and T was munching carrot. He remained endearingly gentle all his life. While Sukie was forceful and would sometimes nip our feet or legs to demand attention or food, T would only tug on our pants legs a bit to say, "Remember me? I'm way down here and I could use a scratch.."
We miss Sukie with her saucy strut and her bossy ways, and we miss grubby old T ambling abstractedly about with or without a chicken on his back. We miss the way they talked to us and to each other. We miss all the little things they did that made us laugh. And so, change has come to the one acre wood....much of the heart has gone out of it..

Monday, December 8, 2008

O is for Orb

Here are two. I'm always awed by pictures of the earth taken from space ..the sheer perfection of our planet with it's small orbiting orb.

This is a hectic time of year........ sometimes it's good to take a deep breath just to get things into perspective!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

N is for Nutmeg

This time of year our (well, mine anyway) thoughts turn to all those goodies special to the season..and what is the Holiday season without that cup or two of eggnog? And what is eggnog without that little sprinkle of nutmeg floating on top?

The nutmeg tree, going by the romantic name of Mrystica fragrans, is a native of the Moluccas (spice islands) and other neighboring islands. It abounds especially in the small cluster of islands called Banda. Mrystica fragrans is now cultivated in other parts of the East Indies.
The fleshy fruit of this hardy tree is used to make candy and for pickling. The seeds are covered by a red membrane called aril, and this is dried and ground to make the spice mace. The hard nut is then dried and finally, shelled for the kernel that is grated for nutmeg.
There's an interesting article about nutmeg here at . You can go find a ton of recipes for both nutmeg mace. there as well.
There are a couple of eggnog recipes, one for those who like some rum or brandy in theirs, and one for those who don't.
This article mentions the popularity of this expensive spice in Europe and the fad of wealthy men and women to carry nutmeg and fancy little graters everywhere they went and making an ostentatious show of grating their own where ever they dined.
Taken in large amounts, nutmeg is a hallucinogenic drug and can be fatal. But that can be true of other commonly used herbs and spices, so enjoy that sprinkle on your eggnog or custard or quiche.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

M is for Mom

Rick the talented cartoonist at Organized Doodles, suggested that I use Mom for M, and I realized that I haven't written about my Mom lately.
When I was a little girl suffering from asthma, my Mom and I traveled around looking for a place I could breathe. I still think she was brave, as a divorcee with a child, hopping a train arriving in Colorado Springs, or Estancia, New Mexico or Prescott, Arizona, finding a job, and enrolling me in a new school. We landed in Prescott in 1947 and have lived here ever since. Well pretty much ever since, but those are other stories..

Mom had her 95th Birthday on April 19, of this year. She opted for a smaller, just-family celebration this year.

You may remember that she started taking clarinet lessons in November of last year. This year, she participated in her church's annual talent show where she got a standing ovation from the audience! Mom explained to them that she hadn't been playing long, but she'd played the clarinet in high school.
"Of course, that was eighty years ago," sez Mom, and brought the house down. Her playing was excellent as well.

A couple of months ago, my daughter rented a lift so that my son could take down some dead trees for her. (that's a post in itself) There were fringe benefits for us and one was a ride into the sky to look down at our world from a sixty foot vantage point.
There goes Mom..........

She hasn't given up her workshop either! Here's a whimsical birdhouse she built for her Church's rummage sale. She's ordered a new table saw and is planning to make more of these!

So what keeps Mom so vital at 95? Aside from some good genes, Mom has a real zest for life. She finds something new to read, to do, to make, to try, to think about every day... The word tomorrow is synonymous to potential for Mom.

Keep on keeping on, Mom....we love you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

L is for Land

We live in a huge Country, and like most people E and I are grateful to have a little piece to call our own. It's important to us to own a little piece of land and to enjoy the full rights that attend that ownership. But we know that we are, part and parcel, a little jigsaw piece of one Homeland Deep down we know that not only does the Land belong to us, we belong to the Land.

Sir Walter Scott wrote, in 1805 (this is an excerpt)

The Lay of the Last Minstrel,

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand!
In the 1940's Woody Guthrie wrote:

Oh dear, now I must think of M...Ummmmmmmm..................

Thursday, December 4, 2008

K is for Kites and Kudos

First for the Kudo! This lovely award came from Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch. Lisa and her family are living a real country life among a variety of critters high in New Mexico. Today she told us about her rare and beautiful, blue eyed, black Karakul sheep, Svetlana. Thank you for this award, Lisa!

I'm going to pass this on (I know some of you don't paste awards on your sidebars, but I wanted to acknowledge you anyway) to:

Changes in the Wind
The Old Sourdough
Grannie Annie
Mary Beth
Granny J.
and last, but far from least, my beautiful Granddaughter,

And if anyone else would like this little jewel on their sidebar, please help yourself!

Now for Kites..

Here are some some basic kite types....bat, diamond, triangle, sled, box, and some windsocks

A fantastic dragon kite from the Smithsonian Kite Festival in Washington D. C.

A Chinese Dragon kite........

I really like this squid!

This photo wouldn't enlarge for me, but I wanted to include it because we used to make sled kites from trash bags just like this one. They flew higher and better than any kites we'd ever bought, but had a bad habit of breaking any string or line and sailing blithely away into the wild blue yonder. We tried all kinds of line, but it was stronger than any tether....
There are kite festivals all over the world when winds blow fresh with a greening spring and a hint of summer to come.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

J is for Jabberwocky

The other day, Granny J. and I were talking about the lost pastime of memorization. When we were children, the adults around us routinely memorzsed poetry and even passages from essays. People used to read aloud to one another, or quote poetry aloud while sitting on front porches drinking lemonade as light slid into darkness on long, humid, summer evenings. It seems that everyone in my family, eventually including myself, memorized Lewis Carroll's ..
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree.
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy
frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
I can't remember if this appears in Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, but to this day my Mom and I will cry Callooh! Callay! when we're feeling joyful, while the words galumping and beamish have a permanent place in our vocabularies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I is for Inch

This house is partly very old and since we have added on to the original structure, partly new. The old house was originally the first Prescott Gun Club and has been on the tax roll since 1914, the year they established a tax roll. I think it was built earlier than that, 1895 to 1905, perhaps. The streets surrounding the old house are named for the original gun club members. We live on Shoup St. and we all pronounce it to rhyme with soup, although I was told by a local historian that it was named for old Dr. Shoup who pronounced his name Showp to rhyme with chow...p.
The basement is a treasure trove of old tools. Some were left here and some have been collected by E. This is an old, two foot ruler that has four segments of six inches each. It can be carried in a pocket and whipped out for those little, everyday measuring jobs.
A hinge in the middle will open it to make one foot.
Hinges on each leg then open to make the two foot length.
The hinges are brass and still function perfectly. Craftsmanship in this type of simple tool marks an era when tools were carefully made to be used every day, cherished, and expected to last a lifetime...or two.or more.. a different time for sure..

Monday, December 1, 2008

H is for Hymn

I've always loved hymns. This is a nice video of some powerful rivers set to Allison Krause's sweet rendition of Down to the River to Pray. I hope you enjoy it!