Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Josie and The Room

When I stay with Meema and Grumpy, I like to play in The Room.

My bed is there and lots and lots of my stuff.

I have a box of dress up things...

like my farmer hat and my beads.

I dress up my octopus...

I bounce on the bed...

I check on the weather...

Also I rock Dolly.

When Grumpy comes home, I put on my tutu and dance The Nutcracker.

I am Clara, Grumpy is Drosselmyer and Meema is The Nutcracker.

Clara goes to sleep. Then a rooster crows, and Clara wakes up and runs to hug The Nutcracker. (That is Meema's favorite part.) Then I make Meema get up and dance. She is getting better about this.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Shetland Binge

 My friendly local book pusher/enabler brought me a big old bunch of books a while back and I began with the first of the Shetland series and never looked back.

I watched the television series maybe a year ago, but it varied a good bit from the books (and I tend to forget story lines) so I was still in suspense about most of the plots.

These are really excellent novels--terrific characters, intelligent writing, and intricate, tricksy plotting. But the big deal for me was the intimate look at these far northern islands, their history, and their inhabitants. I finished the eighth and last book yesterday and went foraging around the internet to learn more about the Shetland Islands. 

I'd not realized how very far north and how isolated they are. And how much influence the Vikings had there. And how distinct are  the cultures and communities on each island. And how the influence of the oil industry changed things.

I loved these books and was sorry to see the series end. Now I think I'l have another go at the TV series. It will be interesting to see the scenery and note the plot changes.  

Saturday, December 28, 2019

My Brain Still Hurts

As I mentioned earlier, it is our family tradition to torment each other with riddling clues as to what is beneath the wrapping paper before the gift is opened.

Here are some of the clues. 

And these were some of the gifts: 

Pic 1-Fancy salt and pepper; a root-beer flavored whisky; a knitting book; a journal cover

Pic 2- spices, Bullit bourbon; hand spun wool and cotton yarn; Glen Rothes 10 year old Scotch; Balvenie Doublewood Scotch; Tullabardine Scotch

Pic 3-- Octopus, chocolate; Dreyer's English; Neverwhere; environmentally sound (non-plastic) produce bags; Black Noval Port

Friday, December 27, 2019

Pause to Breathe . . .

The past few days have been hectic...I'll have more to say tomorrow. sometimes one just has to breathe and enjoy the quiet.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Glimpse of Josie's Christmas

This is a GIANT octopus Aunt Aileen crocheted...

Eight long tentacles with suckers all up and down them!

There was also a hedgehog!

And a doctor kit...

With a stethoscope ...

I am very professional.

Uh oh! Daddy made the octopus attack the sailboat.  He says it is the Kraken, whatever that is. Sometimes Daddy is silly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Miss Birdie and the Tamalada

Why look who's here!  And busy as you must be on Christmas Eve. Come right in and git you a chair. You got a house full, I reckon. Rosemary and her man stopped by earlier to say howdy. What a fine gang of young uns they have -- that little Sam is shooting up like a weed and the twins are such purty little things. Smart as a whip, all of them, and not bashful a bit. That Bethy don't never see a stranger, I believe.

Rosie said as how Laurel and her feller was on the way and that Phillip's young uns was both coming too. Law, what a time you'll have!

Me? I'll be at Dor'thy's tomorrow, like always. And this year they'll be a crowd. Calven, of course, and his girlfriend and her family, all nine of them.

Oh, yes, Calven's got a girlfriend. This time I believe it's right serious. He met her at that school where he teaches--he brought her over last week and I wish you could have seen him, just as proud as a peacock when he brung her in. She's a beauty with them big dark eyes and long black hair. And just the nicest somebody. We made friends right off and when Calven told her I'd be at Dor'thy's for Christmas Day, her face just lit up. 

"Then you must come to the tamalada at my family's house tomorrow," she says and when I ask her what that is, she says it's when everybody gets together to make something called tomollys for Christmas dinner.

"Dorothy's coming," says she, "and I'd love for you to meet my grandmother. I think you two would like each other."

Well, she kept on at me and then Dor'thy called and said she'd come pick me up the next day and carry me to the Cruz's house-- they live just off 213, it turns out. "It's a kind of a working, Birdie," she says. "Like when a bunch of us would get together to make apple butter or some such. I haven't met Mariposa's folks yet, but the way things are going, I believe they're going to be family before long. Calven is plumb foolish over that girl."

So the next day, Dor'thy come by early and off we went. The Cruz's house was down a little road off the highway and you could see where they'd had a nice garden.  There was four or five vehicles parked out front and a passel of young uns running around the yard.  Dor'thy and I set there a minute, kindly shy of getting out but then the front door opens and out skips Calven's girl with the biggest smile on her face. She runs up to the truck and before you know it, we're in the house where several long tables is set up and music is playing and five or six women is all jabbering away--in Spanish, like your Julio.

"Honey," I say to Mariposa. "You'll have to tell me what to do."

She laughs and calls out to the women to hush. Then she tells them who we are and they all gather round and make us welcome. They explain that they are making tomollys to freeze for Christmas dinners. 

They most all of them speak English pretty good and I feel a lot better. Dolores, Inma, Maria, and Clarita are some of the names I catch, and then Mariposa finds me a seat at the long table between her grandmother Clarita and a little old woman all in black. I believe she was even older than me, but she was going at them tomollys like one thing.

What the folks was doing was spreading something like cornmeal mush, only thicker, on dried corn shucks that had been soaked in water. Then they put some spicy good-smelling meat that looked like pork barbecue on top of the mush and wrapped the shuck all around the filling and tied it up like a neat little package. Clarita told me that the tomollys would be  steamed afore we et them but that most of them would be put in the freezer to wait for Christmas Day. 

I tried to watch close to see what was the way of it. Clarita got me started, showing me how to spread out the mush on the smooth side of the shuck and how to put the meat in the middle.  I got the hang of folding up the package after the first two or three. My old fingers had trouble with the last part -- tying a little strip of corn shuck around the rolled up tomolly. It put me in mind of how we used to tie off a hand of baccer with a leaf--I had the knack of it back then but with the old arthuritis, my fingers ain't so nimble. 

So I would spread and dab and roll and then hand my tomolly to Clarita to tie off. We went along right good, talking about Calven and Mariposa mostly. The little woman to my other side didn't say nothing and I figgered she must be deaf for whenever I looked her way she would nod and grin at me and go right on rolling up them tomollys and tying them off too.

Dor'thy was at the other table setting between Mariposa and her mother, and she looked to be getting along just fine. I turned to say something to Clarita about that and saw that she'd gotten up and was talking to another woman who had just come in.

I finished the tomolly I was working on and waited, but now Clarita and the other woman was heading out the door. Well, thought I, what shall I do, and I began to try again to tie that little strip.

Just then a crooked little  brown hand reached over and took that tomolly and quick as quick, tied it up with a fancy little loop --prettier than what Clarita had been doing.

"I thank you kindly," I said to the little old woman in black but she just grinned and shook her head--either to say she couldn't hear me or that she didn't speak English or both. 

So I grinned back and said right loud, pointing to myself, "BIRDIE." And she nodded and patted her skinny chest and kindly whispered what sounded like Yo-landa, then motioned at me to get on with my tomolly making.

Which I did, passing them off to Yolanda to tie, and us grinning and nodding at one another like a pair of monkeys. 

By the time Clarita come back, I had a right smart pile of tomollys in front of me, all tied off as neat as could be.  "Miss Birdie," says she. "How did you manage-" and then she picked up one and looked close at it. 

"That's the way Mama used to tie hers," she said. "Too much trouble for me. How in the world. . ."

I turn to point to Yolanda but she ain't there. Nor is her chair nor the pile of finished tomollys she was working on.  Matter of fact, there ain't room for none of that for I am sitting at the end of the table and it butted up against the wall.

There ain't no way I can explain this to Clarita. So I just ask her what is her mama's name and I ain't a bit surprised when she says her mama's been gone these twenty-some years and that her name was Yolanda.

Oh, honey, at my time of life I see a lot of folks what's gone on ahead. It don't bother me at all.  But they ain't many of em as helpful as Yolanda. She was a good-natured somebody. I think we could be friends.

They made me take home several messes of tomollys for the freezer. I steamed up one yesterday and et it for dinner and it was right good. Let me send some home with you -- I reckon your crowd would enjoy them too.

And tell them all Merry Christmas--from Birdie and Yolanda.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Riddles

Much of yesterday was taken up with wrapping presents and (this is the hard part) coming up with riddling clues as to what might be inside the package. 

I found myself having to turn to Mr. Google for things like the names of the Spice Girls (Scary, Sporty, Posh, Baby, and Ginger) and then whether of not Cossacks were/are from Kazakhstan. (They're not.) 

And there's the inevitable trying to find a new set of clues for yet another Glen Something single malt.

It's a tradition that most of us love-- the handing out of the presents one at a time; the reading of the clue, everyone trying to figure it out, sometimes with hints from the writer of the clue. The presents are usually pretty mundane and rarely surprises, but the riddle game makes more of less.

Josie will not be required to play this year. But I have a feeling she'll soon be good at it. Her verbal skills are growing apace.

Recently a friend of mine, in talking to Josie, asked her something like what her grandfather was called and Josie said, "Grumpy; John, to you."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Shortest Day and the Longest Night

The great wheel turns and we hang garlands of light inside and out, bring in evergreen boughs and a tree in token of our confidence that the wheel will continue to turn, the days will lengthen, and Spring will come again.

Solstice--the reason for the season in many religions. 
I took these first two pictures yesterday, as I always schedule my posts the night before. So it's not exactly a solstice sunrise but the day before. And as I hung out, waiting for the sun to show itself, I could see the light spreading into the valley but still the sun was hidden behind a little ridge, It was well after eight and I had a brief flash of the uncertainty our long ago ancestors must have felt as the light was later and later in its return.

And then, oh the joy as it finally broke through!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Random Notes

Amidst a tizzy of holiday prep -- wrapping gifts, cooking, bringing in greenery-- a few small items to share:

When I was struggling to get Josie buckled into her car seat for our Wednesday trip to the library, a chill wind was blowing on me and the straps and buckles were being especially recalcitrant. I was muttering under my breath and growing increasingly frustrated (while trying not to use bad language) when Josie reached out and grabbed my arm.

"You can do it!" she said. "I've got you and you can do it."

I did.

During the day while I'm busying around, it's been necessary to sit a bit and check Facebook to see what was going on with the impeachment and the increasingly deranged Orange Embarrassment. Of course, once there, I scroll through recent posts in my feed and that where I discovered these two goodies:

Someone felt that the charges against You-Know-Who were "blown way out of propulsion."

And someone else described their missing dog as "a little skiddish."

Finally, the radio was on and though I wasn't actively listening, I did catch, out of the corner of my increasingly deaf ear, a list of holiday treats including what seemed to be a reference to a peppermint candy cane dildo. 

Surely not. This was NPR.  

Simple pleasures.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

There Might Be an Elephant

Or a bald eagle.  That's why I always try to take along my camera. I almost didn't yesterday because the weather was rainy but how glad I am I did.

Two large birds were in the road near the bridge (a little traveled road, fortunately) just in front of my car as I headed to the grocery store. I stopped immediately and reached for my camera as they took off. One was dark but the other had a white head and white tail and settled in a nearby tree. My first shots were through the windshield but then, when the bird stayed put, I set the emergency brake and slowly got out.   

I got a few more shots before the eagle became uncomfortable with the paparazzi.

Always take along your camera!