Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie I Loved

The King's Speech.

This is the kind of movie I love. Not a Hollywood blockbuster... no "action" shots, no car chases, no violence, not a gun in sight. Based on truth, with a sense of history. It has a low-key humor, touching in a subtle way. I love Colin Firth, always have. After seeing this, I love Geoffrey Rush, too. They both played their parts so well. Amazingly well, if I may say so.

Thank goodness for movies like this!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Single Flower...

One morning in Hawaii... the beauty of a single flower. I came out to sit by the pool. It was early and not many people were there. I sat down in a chair, and on the table next to me there was a single flower. The flower inspired me. I took a photo of it as it lay on the glass-topped table.

Next, I placed it on the ground to see the color against the volcanic rock:

For this photo, I just propped it up on my knee so the ocean was in the background:

Then I placed it against my shirt:

That flower was my focus for a pleasant twenty minutes or so. So many pleasant hours spent in Hawaii. So many simple joys, like a single flower. I find so much beauty there. I feel blessed when I'm there.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has always felt magical to me. I have always loved Christmas Eve, even more than Christmas Day itself. There was something about the darkness of night illuminated by Christmas lights that fascinated me. I remember as a child, gazing out my bedroom window at the stars, looking for the one bright star. It always felt to me that a miracle was about to happen.

Particularly vivid in my mind is going to Midnight Mass with my father. He always took my sister and me to the big church downtown for Midnight Mass. It was lighted only by candlelight and decorated with mounds of pointsettias. The choir was all children, singing "O Holy Night". Their voices in the candlelight and the smell of the incense still remain in my head, all these years later.

To me, Christmas Day always seemed more like a regular day... but Christmas Eve was magical.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Playing Santa

Every year since we moved here, I have played Santa for my three nieces. My sister didn't know where to hide their gifts so they wouldn't find them ahead of time. So, she gives them to me to keep at my house. I buy special "Santa" wrapping paper, tags and ribbons so the "Santa" gifts look different from all the other gifts. I try to disguise my handwriting on the tags so it doesn't look too familiar to the girls. Then, on Christmas eve, while my sister's family go to church with her in-laws, we sneak into their house (not down the chimney, though) and hide all the wrapped gifts in the basement so she can arrange them after the girls are asleep.

The girls are almost too old to believe in Santa, though. They have begun asking questions. One asked: "Mommy, are you Santa Claus?". Another one asked: "Mommy, is Aunt Judy Santa Claus?". The youngest, Molly, is perhaps the most observant; she said: "Mommy, Santa's handwriting looks a lot like the Tooth Fairy's handwriting". (I do Santa's and my sister does the Tooth Fairy's.) One day she engaged me in a long discussion of whether I thought Santa and the Tooth Fairy know each other. We decided they probably are friends. She wasn't so sure about the Easter Bunny...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting Serious!

Winter came early this year. Sub-freezing temps all through December! More and more and more snow! Icy roads! One winter storm after another. I am getting serious about moving permanently to Hawaii. I am working hard to convince my husband that we could manage it. How high could the energy bills be? Couldn't we grow a lot of our own food? How much money would we spend on gas (how far can you drive on an island?). Certainly not everyone who lives there has to be a millionaire, right? We saw lots of small, normal looking homes there... I don't need granite counters and fancy stuff. Just a cottage with electricity and running water. How about it?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Season Here

I was getting ready to hang this wreath on my back deck, but Tiger got to it first. He decided to add a little touch of decoration to the wreath by sitting in the middle of it!

We are getting ready for my family to be here on Christmas Eve. I just hope the weather cooperates... we are supposed to have another winter storm!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Band Fund Raiser

This struck me as being a bit strange. Usually, school fund raisers sell things like candy bars or wrapping paper. But mattresses? How many people will buy a new mattress to help out their friends' kids? I think of a mattress as a fairly infrequent purchase. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy A, Emma Stone, Golden Globes

This is a scene from "Easy A". Emma Stone is the girl on the right, with Amanda Bynes on the left.

The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning. Emma Stone was nominated for her role in "Easy A".

During the first part of the movie, I wasn't so sure if I liked it. It had a lot of "language" and teenage angst. But by the end, I loved it. I especially liked Emma Stone. She had been in other small movies, but I didn't know who she was. I became a fan, though, after I saw "Easy A".

Now that she has been nominated for a Golden Globe award, I think we will be seeing more of her.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Gang!

Every morning when I get up, these kitties are waiting outside my door for their breakfast. These are four of the feral cats we care for. From left to right, they are "Little Sister", "Spot", "Munchkin's Sister" and "Mama-mama".

Irresistible, aren't they? They are as much our pets as the four who live inside with us. In fact, three of the four "indoor cats" came in from outside to be adopted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In the Deep Freeze

It's COLD here! Temps in single digits and wind chills below zero. The snow we had on Saturday won't melt because it's too cold, and we expect more snow this weekend.

I used to live in Northern Ohio, then Chicago. Both areas are on the Great Lakes... so they get the infamous "lake effect snow". We have also experienced lake effect snow when visiting my sister in upstate New York and my in-laws in Michigan. I hate lake effect snow. It's just ridiculous. Here we measure it in inches, but there they measure it in feet. Horrible!

Well, this week they say the lake effect snow area is so massive that it's making it all the way to Kentucky. I can't escape it! Well, maybe if I manage to move to Hawaii. Maybe some day...

My main concern is the kitties that live outside. They need shelter from this cold. I bought one of these Indigo Igloo dog houses and put some bedding inside for them.

Here it is, on my deck, before the snow fell. The little cat we named "Spot" is checking it out. I have seen three of the cats all curled up together in there. But I still worry about them every night while it is so cold.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do You Remember These?

If you grew up in the 50s, you might. I remember them well. They are Gurley candles. They were made for every holiday. I just love the details, the facial expressions, and the "body language" of these little characters. Apparently they have become very rare; I couldn't find pictures of them all. I had forgotten about them completely until I saw a picture of some reproductions in a catalog. Seeing them takes me back in time... very nostalgic.





Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Anybody Out There?


I grew up in the sixties. It was an amazing decade. (I think the word "amazing" is overused these days, but it really does apply in this case.) The sixties were revolutionary, chaotic and scary. I am glad I lived through it because, in a way, it made me who I am today. I went from being a well-ordered, meek child to being a free thinker.

I just started reading the above book about Jim Morrison. I have always liked the music of the Doors. It takes me back to the sixties and my youth. Once I heard Terry Gross on her PBS show, interviewing the Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarec. He described the creative process by which they recorded the song "Light My Fire". That interview was fascinating. It opened my eyes to a truly creative process in music. If you are a music lover and you ever get a chance to hear a recording of that interview, do it.

Anyway, the reason I am writing about this book: I just finished the introduction, and is what inspired me to write here. The introduction to this book says so many things about the sixties that resonate with me. He has described the cultural upheavals that took place during that decade in a way I have always had in the back of my head but was unable to express. To quote from the book:
"Doors concerts.... were as close to the experience of shamanic ritual as the rock audience ever got. The Doors captured the unrest and the menace that hung in the air of the late sixties like tear gas, and they did it with hypnotic cool."

Don't get me wrong. Jim Morrison was never a personal hero of mine. I never did drugs or "dropped out". I remained pretty conventional in my lifestyle. But I was listening... and it affected me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I went to yoga class today. I'm still recuperating from a cold, and I felt tired and out of sorts this morning. I almost didn't go. But I made myself go. I can only tolerate so many days cooped up inside!

I'm so glad I went! As we relaxed into our breathing I felt all the fatigue leave my body. As we did some torso twists, I felt the tension leave my body. As we moved through the Warrior series of poses, I felt energy moving through my body. Then we had a discussion when someone asked the meaning of "namaste", about bringing peace and light into this weary, weary world.

My body was energized and my spirit was lifted. It was a good session.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I'm tired this week. I feel overwhelmed. I think it's a combination of having a cold and a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need more sunlight, but it's been raining for a couple of days. Today it's snowing. Oh no, winter! If I could only live in Hawaii. My mind is still back there in the sunshine.

Also, the thought of Christmas is looming. All the decorations, gifts to wrap, food to cook, shopping to do. I think I'm beginning to take on my father's famous "bah humbug" attitude about Christmas. I really hate to say that because I know it's such a joy for so many people. I hope I snap out of this mood and get into the holiday spirit. Things just seem so hard these days. I want to cut back on the budget, but all the kids want are expensive electronic toys. I think part of it is the rampant materialism. Watching kids on Christmas is getting a bit depressing. They look for packages with their name, open them, then go on to the next thing. When there are no more, they look around like "that's it?". Well, yeah, I can't afford many of those expensive things you love so much.

My niece makes me guard her Uggs when she goes in to gymnastics practice because it's well known that they will be stolen if she leaves them in a cubby. They have to have their electronics engraved with their names because they are likely to be stolen. All of this "stuff" obsession of kids is getting to me. I'm trying hard to get rid of a lot of the "stuff" in my own life. I would love to just live in a cottage on a beach, have a tiny wardrobe, and go barefoot every day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving To Go

We had "Thanksgiving to go" this year. My sister always has the whole extended family to her house for a big, traditional dinner. She had planned to put two turkey breasts in to roast in the morning, and to have family members bring side dishes. Well, it didn't happen that way.

Our mom had a transient ischemic attack ("mini stroke") on Tuesday, and was admitted to the hospital. She had to stay there over Thanksgiving. She lives 90 minutes away and the hospital is about two hours away. My sister wanted to take Thanksgiving dinner to our mom in the hospital, but her turkey wasn't cooked. I had roasted a turkey breast on Wednesday and we decided to take that. My stepfather couldn't drive to the hospital to see Mom because he is almost blind from macular degeneration. So, his daughter-in-law drove him to the hospital.

In the meantime, my sister's in-laws in Kentucky decided they weren't going to come to the big Thanksgiving dinner because her kids had colds and they didn't want to be exposed. Also, the weather was bad and getting worse. We called our grown niece, her husband and three small children, and told them not to make the 90-minute drive to Kentucky. Instead, we stopped on our way home and had dessert with them (they had already had dinner for his family).

So, we saw everyone (except my sister's in-laws) by driving around in the pouring rain. We took food with us to Mom, had dessert at a niece's, and finished the day by eating turkey at my sister's house after she finally had a chance to roast it and her husband was home from the hospital (he was on call that day). It was a kind of "hodge podge" Thanksgiving, with no big sit-down dinner. But it worked... it kind of reminded me of a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

p.s. Mom is home now, and says she feels fine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quilting on the Big Island

I have always loved Hawaiian quilts. The designs are based on nature, and are intricate and colorful. While we were on vacation in Hawaii I took a class on how to create one. There I am (third from left) learning how to make a Hawaiian style quilt. It was a great experience!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gimme Shelter

Two of the feral, half-tame kitties that live behind our house: we call them Little Sister (spayed female) and Spot (neutered male), brother and sister. Yesterday they were curled up together on the bench.

This morning I brought out the new igloo I bought for their winter shelter. I caught them checking it out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'm no Ridley Scott, but I'm gonna make movies! Really... I've been thinking about getting one of these so I could take some videos. The simplicity of it appeals to me. So, yesterday I went and got it. This morning I took it out of the box, put in the batteries and started it up. I did a little test video starring my cat Tiger. Hopefully, I will be posting some here soon... if I can take the next step and upload them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazy Cat Lady?

Our back yerd has become home for a number of feral cats. Two of the adult females have had kittens. Over time we have trapped all of them and had them spayed or neutered. This one little cat family. The mama kitty is in the front, along with her two kittens:

This is the female kitten. We call her "Little Sister".

This is the male kitten. We call him "Spot".

This is mama kitty number 2:

This is where I digress for a minute. The picture below is mama kitty number 2 watching one of her kittens eat.

This kitten's story is interesting. Her name is Pip.

Pip was one of a litter of four. As feral cats will do, they all ran from us when we came outside. All except Pip, that is. One day I came outside and, as usual, the mama and three kittens ran from me. But little Pip was just sitting there looking at me. She was so tiny and she had what looked like a bad eye. I thought maybe she was sick. I reached over to her... and she let me pick her up! I was so surprised. I took her next door to show my cat-loving neighbors. Then I took her to the vet. They proclaimed her basically healthy, just a little dehydrated and with an eye inflammation. They gave me medicine for her. We kept her inside for a few days and her eye cleared up. We let her go back outside to play with her littermates. She remained friendly to us, and ran to come in the house when we opened the door. It was clear that this little kitten wanted to live indoors. My cat-loving neighbor knew a woman who was looking for a kitten. Pip found a home with the woman and her family. As it turns out, the woman has a son who is autistic, and he loves this kitten and cares for her. Her bed is in his room, but she usually sleeps in his bed. It seems to have turned out great for both the kitten and the family.

Okay, the third cat family is the "little black kitties". They were the first ones we discovered, under our next door neighbor's porch. They are all female, and have all been spayed as well. They were a litter of four. We adopted the friendliest one, who lives in the house with us and our other three cats. The other three make themselves at home outside, as you can see.

My husband and I feed all of these cats every day. They have become tame enough not to run away from us, but they do back up just out of reach! We have put out little shelters that consist of "kitty cubes" (sold at Walmart) inside stacking bins to provide stability.

The photo above was taken last winter. You can see the kitty shelters we made in the background, as well as all the snow we had to shovel around them. I am hoping to provide some more substantial shelter for them this winter and, now that cold weather is upon us, I am looking around for materials to use. I've been looking on ebay for second hand kids' playhouses. There are some reasonably priced ones, but they all require local pickup and they are not close to me. This is where my husband calls me the "crazy cat lady". He thinks they will be fine with the little shelters. But I still worry about them. If I had a handyman in the family, maybe we could build a little "cat house"; but we don't. So... what would you do?