Friday, October 26, 2012

Chasing Scared


This is the time of year, on these crisp October nights, when the line between what is real and what isn’t becomes blurred. Walking after dark along leaf scattered sidewalks, the skeletons of bare trees silhouetted against the inky sky, it’s easy to see things, hear things, believe things.

Another October, years ago, my friend Veronica and I decided to walk the dozen or so blocks from our dorm to the downtown cinema to see the late showing of the classic film “An American Werewolf in London.” It was after midnight when we left the theater and headed out into the cold, black, windy full moon night.

Then somewhere, close by, something howled…

And we RAN!

Sure, deep down, we knew it was only a dog. But it was just so much more thrilling to terrify ourselves by believing in an explanation far more sinister.

That frightful feeling, I must confess, is what makes these October walks after dark so much fun. It’s the perfect kind of being scared-the safe kind. And it’s also realizing that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the magic of the Halloween season.

Picture sourced from the net.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autumn Riches


Take one ancient maple tree, and multiply by six…


Add a very, very windy day…

Leaves and Shoes

And Mother Nature will lay a carpet of gold at your feet.





A dear friend of mine shared one of her favorite poems with me.  It’s one of my favorites now, too!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

George Eliot

Happy Wednesday, my dear readers!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Friday Thrift Report


Last Friday, I went thrifting.  It had been months since my last trip.  So long, in fact, that I almost couldn’t remember the way to the thrift store.  Almost.

And right off the bat, I hit pay dirt.  A set of mid century Noritake china in the beautiful Esteem pattern.  Eight place settings, for forty-two bucks. 


Of course, the usual battle started in my head.  The one where my Simplify side starts to argue with the side of me that says Oh my goodness I can’t believe I found this!  I sent both sides outside, to duke it out while I considered whether or not I needed these dishes.  (Set of eight (8) place settings, $42.)

Like there was much to think about.

And then, it got even better!

I found this vintage red fiberglass tiki wall plaque for $1.99!  Wow!


Did I mention he’s a whopping 14” tall? Aside from being quite an eyeful, he’s big enough to win any argument!

When I got home, I did a little research on the internet and found a site selling Esteem for forty dollars per place setting, so I’d say I got a good deal.  And as for the tiki, he seems to be rather unusual-a once in a lifetime find, perhaps?  (Maybe that’s not such a bad thing…)  I haven’t picked out a place to hang him yet, but wherever he eventually ends up, he will be right at home with my other vintage Hawaiian decor.  (And I’m also happy to report that my family has recovered from their initial shock after I first showed him to them.)

So, it was a successful outing. 

Which reminds me.  I forgot all about those two sides of mine.  I guess I left them fighting in the thrift store parking lot.  I think I’ll just leave them there, though-for next time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just Like Grandma Did-Almost





It was such a proud moment for me. Amy was in the third grade at the time, the date on the calendar just a few days away from Thanksgiving.  Her teacher was taking a survey.

What is your favorite kind of pie for Thanksgiving dessert?


As Amy was relating this story to me, I could tell she was just about bubbling over with excitement. Initially, she’d been the only kid to nominate mincemeat pie-even having to explain to her classmates what it was.  But her enthusiastic testimonial as to the many merits of mincemeat worked, because mince pie received more than a few additional votes that day!

You see, mincemeat holds a special place in my heart.  My grandma always made mincemeat, and the thought of it evokes so many memories for me.  I remember sitting at her dining room table, relishing the large slice of mince pie in front of me, when I happened to observe what could only be antennae sticking out from among the raisins, bits of apple, spices and green tomatoes.  An ant, poor creature. (But what a way to go…)   And every Christmas, as long as my grandma was able to make mincemeat, we would receive a newspaper wrapped jar in the mail, and my mom would make a mincemeat pie.  We all loved it.  It truly was one of the most delicious traditions during the holidays.  

After I grew up, left home, and eventually got married, I didn’t have mincemeat pie at Christmastime any more.  By then, my grandma was gone, her recipe for mincemeat gone as well.  Or so I thought.  I was visiting my sister a few years ago and she told me she had grandma's hand written recipe for mincemeat, and would I like to have it.


Now Amy and I make mincemeat every year.   And though we measure our amounts in cups, and not pecks, the ingredients are the same.  Green tomatoes, apples, chopped oranges, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and brown sugar-cooked for several hours until the mixture turns into a spicy, dark brown bit of heaven.  

Just like my grandma did.

We just leave out the bugs…

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taking Notes, Not Orders


I found this vintage restaurant order pad during one of my thrifting expeditions.  I thought it was a great find, and I love that the top ticket still has the impression of the last order written.  Even though I had no idea what I might ultimately do with the order pad, I bought it anyway.  It has such great old fashioned graphics, and if it could, as they say, talk, I bet it would tell some pretty interesting stories.  

The week before last, when Amy was home sick, she was keeping me company as I cleaned up the room where I sew and she works on her own creative projects.  I picked the order pad up and laughed quietly to myself, acknowledging once again my tendency to collect vintage treasures I can’t resist, but really don’t have a use for.  (I must have been a magpie in a previous life.)

Amy came to the rescue with this exceptional idea for a way to use, yet at the same time preserve the order pad.

I carefully tore out one sheet, and scanned the image to my computer.  Reducing the size of the image to fit the dimensions of the tray on my vintage bakelite note paper holder (Do magpies crow, or squawk, I wonder?)  I was able to fit several images on a sheet of printer paper. 

Printed, and carefully cut out-here is the finished product…


I like the idea of leaving notes for my family on pieces of restaurant order pad paper.  Maybe if I leave really good notes, I’ll receive some tips, too.  Actually, Amy is the one who deserves a tip. I love how her idea turned out!


Just for fun, here’s a picture of my desk, where my new note paper now resides.  This desk used to belong to my Grandma Helen.  I can still picture her sitting at it as she paid bills and wrote letters.  I use it now as the place to set my computer and compose all of these interesting and informative blog posts.  (Do magpies know how to wink?)


My grandma’s desk also provides a place to display more of my second hand treasures.  Some are still useful, such as my airplane pencil sharpener, a souvenir of Pearl Harbor, and the ceramic picture frame that holds a bouquet of fall mums.  Others-maybe not as useful, but still valuable in my eyes.  My green 1920’s travel alarm clock that no longer runs (I find I get more done when time stands still.) and the obsolete glass ink bottle holder, supposedly used as a prop for the TV show Leave it to Beaver. (A coaster for my morning cup of coffee, perhaps?)


And then there are my helpful little ink blotter monkeys.  I couldn’t have said it better myself…


Happy Monday, my dear readers!  You are all keepers too!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

One Tough Coconut


Happy Friday, dear readers!  I’m reposting this story today in hopes of adding a little laughter to your day.  Enjoy!  And have a great weekend!


He knew Muriel Davenport was guilty.  The  evidence against her was overwhelming-but all circumstantial, unfortunately.    What Detective Martin Whitfield Dunmore was after was a full confession.

He had used everything on her, trying to get her to crack.  The bright lights in her face.  The trick questions. Even a little of the “rough stuff.”  But Muriel would not crack.  She was one tough coconut.

Detective Dunmore was tired.  He wanted to go home.  He could practically taste the dry martini he planned to make for himself.   “All right Mrs. Davenport.   You leave me no choice.  Sergeant Graff, go get the book of elephant jokes.”

Muriel let out a terrified gasp.  This was a turn of events she hadn’t anticipated.  “No!   Please no.  Not elephant jokes!”

Dunmore smiled, and with a feeling of renewed optimism, told the first one.

Why are elephants wrinkled?
The are too difficult to iron.

Muriel felt a fit of giggles coming on.  She bit down hard on her lip.  She was going to be strong.

Why is an elephant big and gray?
If it were small and white it would be an aspirin tablet.

Unable to control herself, Muriel started to laugh.

What’s the difference between a piece of paper and an elephant? 
You can’t make an airplane out of an elephant.

Detective Dunmore showed no mercy.

What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants in the distance? 
“Look!  A herd of elephants in the distance.”

What is the difference between a herd of elephants and a plum?
An elephant is gray.

What does Jane say when she sees a herd of elephants in the distance? 
“Look!  A herd of plums in the distance.”  (Jane is colorblind.)

“Stop!”   Muriel screamed.  Her sides ached from so much laughing.  Her temples throbbed.

“So are you ready to talk now Mrs. D.?   I know you iced your husband.  Where’d you hide the body?  Make things easy on yourself and come clean.”

Muriel took a good hard look down the road into her future, and knew that life behind bars was not on her bucket list.  She planned to be a free woman, in more ways than one, for a long, long time.

“I didn’t do it!”  Muriel shot back at the tired detective.  I DID NOT DO IT!   She would break him down.

Putting his head in his hands, the vision of his dry martini fading -Detective Martin Whitfield Dunmore started to cry very quietly, but he continued-with the longest and fiercest volley yet.

How do you put an elephant in the ice box? 
Open the door and put him in.

How do you put a giraffe in the ice box? 
Open the door and take  the elephant out, and put the giraffe in.

The lion decided to have a party.  He invited every animal in the jungle, but one didn’t come.  Which one? 
The giraffe.  It was stuck in the ice box.

Two explorers try to cross a crocodile infested stream.  How do they get across?
Simple.  They wade across.  All of the crocodiles are at the lion’s party.

But Muriel would not crack.  She was one tough coconut.


The assignment?
Write a piece of flash fiction with these requirements:  a character MUST tell a joke and a character MUST cry. One character can do both.

Thursday, October 11, 2012



I was just starting to vacuum today-usually one of Amy’s chores, but taken over by me until she gets rid of her cough-when I decided that it was just too nice outside to be in. So I grabbed my camera and headed for the back yard, with a little friend at my heels. Willow-our other dog.  Our small Shepherd Sheltie mix.  She inspired this post.

I’ve written about Willow before, and how she came to be our dog.  How for the first year and a half of her life, she’d just seemed to get off on the wrong paw-being born to a mother who was a stray, and being one of only two puppies in the litter to survive.  How she spent her early months in the shelter, only to be adopted by a family who found she was not the right fit. And how, more than 14 years ago we entered the picture, because we could not bear the thought of this poor dog going back to the shelter again.

14 years ago. 

How can that be?  Willow was a wild young lass back then, with no formal training to speak of, when we said we’d take her.  She was a year and a half old, and had so much to learn.  She wasn’t even house broken.  The third day we had her she escaped and ran away.  At the time, I had the fleeting thought that it might be a blessing in disguise, because quite frankly I didn’t know how to handle her.  I don’t even remember how we recaptured her-she was extremely fast in those days!  But recapture her, we did, and the training began.  That long, rewarding process of letting Willow learn to trust us and become a responsible part of our family.

The years went by and then it happened.  We realized that Willow was getting old.  A little gray around her muzzle.  A little stiffness in her legs after a long walk.  She’s almost 15 and a half now.  Her eyes are failing and she can’t hear very well.  Her breathing seems labored most of the time and she wheezes a lot.  (In fact, at night, her snoring is so loud it’s as though a freight train is rumbling through the house!)  Her teeth are bad, and she has arthritis.  And still, her vet sees her as something of a wonder dog.  She’s outlived many other dogs.  Dogs who had a much easier start in life.


These days, Willow sleeps a lot.  Those long ago races around the neighborhood at break neck speed are behind her.  And when she isn’t napping, she is constantly “hoovering” for food, obsessed even, and we wonder if the memories of being a starving stray puppy have come back to her.  She has “accidents” in the house, leaves puddles of drool everywhere, and is often underfoot, tripping us-especially in the kitchen.  To be honest, she takes as much patience now as she did in her wild youth.

And then I think back to the time before Kona, about three years ago, when we visited our local humane society because we’d decided the time was right to begin our search for a second dog.  There, at the shelter, was the most heart breaking collection of unwanted dogs-some old, some sick, and many too weak or ill to manage more than a slight wag of the tail.  They all deserved better.

Willow definitely is our little wonder dog.  Though at times we wonder how we can care for her while retaining our sanity, mostly we just think she is wonderful, and love her for being herself.  Which is doing the best she can.


Even at 15 and a half, Willow is still fast enough to be a blur in this photo!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



Judging from appearances, it’s easy to forget that it really is fall.  The frost that covers the garden in the morning is melted away by the afternoon sun and 70 degree temperatures.


Pink flamingoes and blue skies.  What about orange and red and yellow?   My poor flamingoes.  Barely two years old, and they’ve just about lost their black bills.  I don’t think they are in any hurry for cold, cold weather and snow.


The wood is ready-a mix of old and new, past seasons and this present one, when the Maples were trimmed.  After the wild fires this summer, I can’t say that the idea of having a fire in the fire place is all that appealing.


Even the sunflowers think it is still summer.  As quickly as one fades away, another blooms in its place.


Lovely Kona, with her russet autumn colored coat. She loves the snow, but she also loves to run on bare grass, playing with her favorite outdoor toy-a rattling dried gourd left over from last year.

A reminder of what awaits in November…


3 trees


big red tree

Isn’t this tree glorious? 

I’m happy to report that after nearly a week of smoky air, it’s clear today and we are breathing more easily.  Amy is also feeling better and she is just about over her bout with pneumonia.

Happy Wednesday, my dear readers!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Terror in Daylight


I wrote this a couple years ago and thought I’d repost it today as I care for my daughter Amy is is trying her hardest to get over pneumonia.  I can’t wait until she is well enough to visit the corn maze this year!


Every fall, we make a trip to the local nursery to get our Halloween pumpkins. And every year I end up, for a short time, scared out of my wits. Why? Because I’m afraid of the soon to be Jack-o-Lanterns we buy? No. My fear stems from something much more sinister.

The corn maze.

On the surface, what’s to be afraid of? It’s a small maze, and from the outside I can see where its borders are. Some of the stalks aren’t even that tall. It’s a maze designed to be fun for the smallest of children. I know all of this. Plus, it’s broad daylight as we head for the “ENTER” sign.

But once we are in there, among the corn, my sense of reason leaves me. I am the last to go into the maze. Stuart heads down one row, Amy heads down another. My indecision lasts for just a few seconds, but it’s long enough to allow the corn to swallow them both up. I start down the path that Amy has chosen, hitting one dead end after another, the corn  suddenly seeming much taller than it did from the outside. As hard as I try to stay calm, I am gripped with the unreasonable terror that if I ever do get out, my family will have vanished, never to be seen again. I’m about ready to run blindly through the stalks and make my own exit (strictly against the rules, by the way-but then so is leaving your parents unattended) when I suddenly catch up with Stuart.  I’m ok after all, and maybe I’m even having fun. “Have you tried going that way?” I ask him. But when I turn to hear his reply, he has vanished again.

For two years, when I was a kid, my family lived next to a big corn field in Pennsylvania. “Stay out of the corn,” my mother would warn us. Why, I wondered? But I never asked. Maybe it was best not to know. When I was older, I read some Stephen King stories, and I understood. Terrible, terrible things happen in fields of corn.

I am so spooked by this time, and so lost in my thoughts of worry and regret for even allowing this trip into the corn maze, that I can hardly see. And then all of a sudden, I am standing in a clearing. Miraculously, I have found my way out. Stuart is right behind me again, and Amy is up ahead, running in the grass and playing with a fat brown cat named Pumpkin. I take a deep breath, straighten the collar on my coat, pull a stray piece of corn silk from my hair, and soon I’m laughing and enjoying the beauty of a bright fall day in October.

I do have just one last piece of advice though.

Don’t ever, ever, go into a corn maze after dark…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Candy Corn Colors

blanket flowers and rake

Acrid, smokey air.  Temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s.  It hasn’t been feeling very much like fall yet.  But try telling that to my garden.  The signs that autumn has arrived are everywhere!  Red, yellow and orange-those candy corn colors abound, and the final flowers of fall, my asters, are in full bloom.




I found this friendly spider sitting on Amy’s pumpkin.  We only managed to produce one pumpkin this year-but what a beauty!  It just needs to turn a bit more orange, and then it will be front porch perfect!

Amy's pumpkin

A couple of months before my birthday, I treated myself to a couple of pieces of Fiesta ware in the vintage Happy Pumpkin pattern.  I think it’s about time I set them out, and fill that bowl up with candy corn too!  Now where did I put those black taper candles?

Happy Halloween

Happy pumpkins, and friendly spiders… I’m definitely feeling more fall-ish!  Maybe I’ll even rename Kona.  Candy Kona?  Or Candy Korna?

Candy Kona Well, let’s not get carried away.


Is it looking, and feeling like fall where you are?