Santa Baby!

The sunny South has been pretty darned cold these last several days, so Dearly Beloved decided it was time to fire up the pilot light for the gas logs in our den.  The logs were here long before we bought the house and frankly, they’re showing their age, but we do love having a fire in the evening.  Every year we talk about replacing them with a prettier, more efficient model.

DB also wants to have gas logs installed in the fireplace in our downstairs playroom.  Oh, and a large flat screen TV.   He wants to make the room his office.  I do catch a whiff of man cave to his plan.  Although the fireplace down there has never been used, it has a hook for hanging a pot in it.  When I first saw it, I pictured us down there snuggling on the sofa in front of the fire during power outages, homemade soup bubbling in the pot.

Two problems with that.  First, it’s much simpler to drive to a restaurant with power than it is to assemble ingredients by flashlight.  Secondly, we don’t have an iron pot.

But I digress.  Back to the old gas logs in the den. . . .

It’s always a chore to get the pilot light going.  No flipping a wall switch; it’s a messy,  inside-the-fireplace job.  This year, DB decided to work on the logs first to see if he could make them more efficient.  That entailed a few trips to the garage to assemble wrenches,  pliers, etc.

photo 1

I was sitting close by, watching all this.  Finally, he was ready to strike the match.  Just before doing so,  he pulled his head back out,  turned to me and asked,  “Do you want one last look at these eyebrows?”

Ho Ho Ho.

The Poppy Lady

Having read and been moved by John McCrae’s touching poem,  In Flanders Field, an American professor and humanitarian from Good Hope, Georgia,  decided that she would wear a red poppy from that day on as a sign of remembrance.  To make note of her pledge, Moina Michael wrote these words on the back of a used envelope.  She became the impetus behind the silk poppies being sold to raise funds to assist disabled veterans,   after teaching a class of disabled vets at the University of Georgia and seeing their struggles.  Eventually, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans.


Oh!  You who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Written by Moina Michael, November 1918

Moina Michael died in 1944.  Four years later, the US Post Office issued a commemorative  stamp honoring her lifetime achievements.


Poppies for Remembrance

Veterans Day. . . Poppy Day. . . Armistice Day. . . Remembrance Day.

Today, many will observe two minutes of silence on the 11th hour (11 AM) of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the Allies of WWI and Germany signed an armistice agreement.   The firing stopped immediately.

Here, we honor and remember all veterans on this day.

Thanks to my friend Alison for sending me the link to this stunning tribute in London.

This poem is so touching. . . the earnest Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon and also a poet, was moved to write these words as he mourned the loss of his friend, Lieutenant Alex Helmer.  Since a chaplain was not present, McCrae was asked to conduct his friend’s funeral.  Like all funerals on the battlefield, it was conducted in the dark.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,images
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

I Don’t Give a Fig. Usually.

Last night I dreamed, not of Mandalay, but of the fig tree outside our bedroom window.


More specifically, I dreamed of a monster squirrel in the fig tree.  He had an orange material wrapped tightly around part of his tail, ninja-style, and when I tried to scare him away, he shook it haughtily at me as if it were a snake rattler.

Yes, I really did dream that.

We planted the fig tree in that location to shield our bedroom bay window from the southeastern sun exposure in summer without having to keep the blinds closed.  We pruned it to grow as a single-trunk tree rather than a bush.  Having it there also offered complete privacy I thought,  yet looking at the photo now, I realize there is exposure on one side.  Gulp. Thank goodness I noticed before I got an urge to do any naked frolicking .  (Of course,  I could simply open the window and grab a few fig leaves should the urge overtake me.)  

Because of the slope of the land, I’m able to stand on the deck and pick figs from the near branches.  Still, it is growing rapidly in its tree form shape, so more and more are beyond my reach.

It’s visible from the sunroom, also, so only a short distance for me to run out screaming and waving a broom whenever I see birds or squirrels messing around in there.  Not long ago,  I tapped on the window to shoo away a squirrel headed for one of the few remaining figs, only to watch in horror as a cardinal swooped in and took a big bite of the fig  before the squirrel could grab it.

This was the summer I was determined to get figs and, thanks to my vigilance, I did exactly that.  I picked enough to make three batches of low-sugar fig preserves for toast and for my favorite– fig, arugula, and prosciutto pizzas.

It hasn’t been easy and frankly,  I became way too obsessed with those figs, taking on a persona somewhere between Mrs. Danvers and the Incredible Hulk where the fig tree was concerned.

One day as I was raking magnolia leaves along the back fence, I glanced toward the house doing my regular fig tree perusal, when I noticed DB standing under it with a pair of  pruning loppers in hand.

“HEY!” I yelled, “What are you doing with those loppers?”

As usual, he had those darned earbuds blasting music into his ears and couldn’t hear a thing. I yelled again, looking around frantically for something to toss his way and catch his attention.  Nothing caught my eye. . . except the rake in my hand.

No way could I throw it that far, so I started to run toward DB.    Still oblivious to my maniacal rants, he blithely cut away one a branch of the tree and reached for another.  I kept running.

He glanced up to see the mother of his children raging toward him, weapon in hand.

“What are you DOING???”  I screamed.

Looking non-perturbed, he popped out an earbud and said, “I was just cutting off these low-hanging branches so we wouldn’t have to duck or walk around them.” 

“But I can only REACH the low ones to pick the figs!”  I told him.

Oh.  Okay, I won’t cut any more,”  he answered agreeably and reach down to pick up the branch he’d already cut.  What could I say?  I turned to go back to my raking.

“Hey,” he called, and I turned to see a quizzical look on his face.  “Exactly WHAT were you planning to do with that rake?”  

To this day, I’m not sure.  I’m pretty sure I had a bead on his backside,  but I don’t remember which end of the rake I was aiming or exactly what I intended to do with the rake.  It was all a bit unsettling.

I put my remaining canning jars away for the season.  After that, whenever I saw a squirrel or a bird in the fig tree, I simply shrugged.

But if that ninja turtle ever shows up, forget the loppers, I’m handing DB the axe.






Searching. . . I’ve Been Searching. . . .

Maybe I watched one too many squirrel videos, for something wicked this way came and sent my computer into a death spiral.  Really, it was more of a splat.  One minute my Granny Smith was in Sleep mode, the next she was dead as a doornail.   When I pressed the On button, there was not even a flicker of light or sound.  Just like that, she was gone.

I can’t say it was unexpected. There had been hints, like when I took her to the Apple Store Genius Bar back in the summer and they informed me that she was now an antique and they couldn’t work on her any more.   Even knowing that, I hadn’t been backing up my data as diligently as I should, so while I was in mourning, I worried about how I’d transfer everything from Computer A to Computer B.

I went into my usual crisis mode–total inaction–for a week or two.  Finally,  Good Egg Son, who knows much about Macputers, walked me through the selection process online.  Because we added some things, the order took about a week to arrive.

Wow!  So light and thin. . .!  It made GS feel downright clunky.   I made an appointment at the Apple store for the next day, hoping they would be able to somehow mine my data from the bowels of the late Granny Smith.  (Bowels being a good work for all the crap I had on there.)

That evening, I pushed the On button one last time and with a loud groan Granny managed to resurrect herself.  She hadn’t been dead, only moribund!  It wasn’t easy for her–the error message explaining why she’d gone under included three screen pages of gibberish which I took to mean WORK FAST!

I attached the Time Machine and left good ol’ Granny to her work, something she refused to do sometimes even in her younger days.  I’d leave her hooked up all night only to find a message that “The Time Machine could not complete the backup” the next morning.

Yay!  This time, she spilled her guts.  I headed for my appointment at the Apple store with a large tote containing Granny, my new MacBook Air, Time Machine, my iPhone. . . and a book.

The queue of people outside the Apple store sent me into a momentary panic until I realized that I’d messed around until the iPhone 6 had made its debut.  I didn’t have to get in that line, just the one at the Genius Bar.  While everyone else scrolled through their phones or iPads,  I pulled out a hardcover book and read until they were ready for me.

My Genius got things started and the Time Machine began pouring its contents into Thin Air.

Granny Smith (R) and Thin Air (L)

Granny Smith (R) and Thin Air (L)

I gaped in horror when it informed me it was transferring 100,000 e-mails.   WHAT???  Where did they come from?  I’d emptied my trash.  My Inbox claimed about 2,000 e-mails.  Where the heck had 98,000 e-mails been hiding?

Now I’m back online with a new computer and 98,000 mysterious, still hidden e-mails.  Even accounting for the fact that I wrote a post once which mentioned a product (hint: it gives a four-hour warning) which unleashed a torrent of . .  um. . . pharmaceutical e-mails.  Or that every politician in the country knows me personally by my first name and needs my contribution to save the country in this election year.   Or that Coldwater Creek surely e-mailed me item by item when they were going out of business.  Or that I still get requests to Link-In long after I linked out.   All of that wouldn’t account for 98,000 e-mails.

I’m still searching.  Got any ideas?

E-mail me.













What? Me Worry?

Two of our children had birthdays last week.  Children doesn’t feel like the appropriate word for responsible, mature individuals out living productive lives way out from under any parental wings.  (Heck, they don’t even live in the same state.)

Offspring sounds a bit clinical.  Kids?   I still have my stretch mark souvenirs, so I’ll stick with children.  Big ones.

The thing is, they’re all grown up.  No more concerns that they’ll be jumping off the roof, riding a skateboard pulled by a Doberman, or getting a hand stuck in a gum ball machine any longer.  Nope, they’re out in the world making solid, intelligent decisions every day.

No need to worry about our kids once they’re grown. . .  right?

My daughter-in-law recently sent back these pictures from Bermuda, where she and our son spent a few days.

That guy contemplating the bad decision looks suspiciously familiar.

Image 4

Image 2

Image 3Gulp.


“Don’t worry about a thing. . . ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.”

- Bob Marley

“There’s no point in being a grownup if you can’t be childish sometimes.” 

- Dr. Who



Food Truckin’

My experience with food trucks is limited, mostly ice cream trucks and vendors at county fairs. I have not a trace of nostalgia for either.  The new era of food trucks–the fancy ones with the catchy names and the specialty dishes–seems much more appealing.  Here, they’re primarily uptown in the business district which isn’t on my radar, but they satisfy a niche for the 75,000 or more workers up there.

I love hearing the clever names owners select and found this list of the Awesomest/ Worst names online.  I couldn’t tell which was which, so maybe we need to compile a list of our own, real or made-up.  Any suggestions?

Folks who don’t work uptown have an opportunity to try some of the gastronomic offerings when a number of the trucks head for a southend parking lot on Friday afternoons for what becomes an instant fiesta: Food Truck Friday.  Dearly Beloved and I have not tried it, so my food truck knowledge remains scant.  Someday. . . .

Riding around the beach last week, I found myself behind, well. . . what do you think. . . would you call this a food truck?