Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

With my Warmest Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas
and all the very best in the New Year
to all my Friends, Followers, and Visitors. 
It's always grand to see you've stopped by!

"Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas...."
from all of us!

Melly and The Big Guy
Ratchlet, T.A.,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I don't have a bunch of time for writing (as I warned you a few days ago).  Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about you all and hoping your Christmas preparations are going well!  I am moving forward, but slowly.  This may be the year that it doesn't all get done!

This is not an unusual situation exactly.  It's just that this year we have a couple of unusual distractions/ intrusions that are not a normal part of our Christmas.  I already told you about my rehearsals and tomorrow the Big Guy will go to have one of his cataracts he'll be out of commission for at least a day and a half or so.  A masterpiece of planning, I must say.  Still, I have FINISHED my shopping a full 7 days before Christmas.  That's pretty miraculous!  However, there are soooo many other things to do....sigh.

Just so you have something to read from me (so you don't forget me til I get back to writing more regularly), here is a REPRINT from Christmas 2009.  If you change the dates, it pretty much fits every year!  :)

December 14, 2009:   "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Every year, all year, I look forward to Christmas. I think its "the most wonderful time of the year". I love the decorations, I love the traditions, I love the music, I love having my family close, and I love the look on my daughter's (and granddaughter's) face when they open a particularly perfect present. Ratchlet gets all teary and sniffly because a present is a sentimental connection to something important to her. I've managed to hit the mark with one of her gifts nearly every year. As she has done with me! (We are an odd family, the gift that makes you cry is the best gift!)

Maddie-the-Great has loved Christmas since she was old enough to sort of know what it was. The look of excitement when she sees that "Santa's been here!!" (usually yelled at the top of her lungs), brings a lump to my throat each time. She gets so happy as she opens each present. She says, "Santa brought me just what I wanted!"

The Big Guy is an even bigger fan of Christmas than I am. He is the one who insists we bring out all the old Christmas things again and again, even tho they are becoming tattered and torn. (And I pretty much agree with him.) I've been trying for years to rein-in his gift- giving some, but he seems convinced that more is always better!

Poor T.A. had the misfortune of marrying into a family of Christmas-addicts! His reactions are more controlled and he is not as sentimental about the traditional things. But each year he understands a little bit better than the year before. Ratchlet and M-t-G's feelings about the holiday, must be rubbing off on him by now!

Every year I promise myself I will get things all done early so that they can be enjoyed throughout the season. And every year the promise goes by the wayside. Even if I get an early start, I am still playing catch-up at some point. Maybe its because I buy too much, or decorate too much, or delay wrapping too much, or several other "too muches" or it might be because everything absolutely must be finished by 3:00 pm Christmas Eve, whatever the reason or combination of reasons, about a week before Christmas, I get to feeling like a Grinch! It all becomes overwhelming and too much work and I start to snarl at my loved ones. All I want to do is go back to bed and skip straight to Easter, a much less high-maintenance holiday.

I thought this year, being retired and all, I could get things done in a leisurely rush, no fuss. Take my time, do a little bit every day until its all done. Doesn't seem to be working so far. I'm behind, as usual. I haven't completely given up hope for no rush, no fuss, but it most probably will become big rush/big fuss, just like always.

Then at about 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I'll take a deep breath, and all of a sudden, its "the most wonderful time of the year" again. Its a tradition.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Will Survive!"

Just some memories for pondering.....and a break from Christmas for a little bit...Not my creation, and there was no indication who the author was.  Whoever it was, the author nailed it, dead center!  

To All Who Survived the 1930s, '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s!!

First, we survived
Being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank
While they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing,
tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep
On our tummies in baby cribs
Covered with bright colored
Lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles,
locks on doors or cabinets,
And, when we rode our bikes,
We had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.

As infants and children,
We would ride in cars with no car seats,
no booster seats, no seat belts,
No air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..
Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day
was always a special treat.

We drank water
From the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends,
from one bottle,
and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes,
White bread, real butter, and bacon.
We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar.
And we weren't overweight.

Because we were
Always outside playing...that's why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day,
as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day.
-- And, we were OKAY.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps
And then ride them down the hill,
Only to find out we forgot the brakes.
After running into the bushes a few times,
we learned to solve the problem..

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes.
There were no video games,
No 150 channels on cable,
No video movies
Or DVDs,
No surround-sound or CDs,
No cell phones,
No personal computers,
No Internet and no chat rooms.

And we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth,
And there were no lawsuits from those accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons,
Switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand,
And no one would call child services to report abuse.

We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt,
And the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays,
22 rifles for our 12th,
rode horses,made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and
- although we were told it would happen -
we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes
Or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell
Or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts
And not everyone made the team.
Those who didn't had to learn to
Deal with disappointment.
Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out
If we broke the law was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law!

These generations have
Produced some of the best risk-takers,
Problem solvers, and inventors ever.
The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion
of innovation and new ideas..

We had freedom,
Failure, success and responsibility,
and we learned how to deal with it all.

If YOU are one of those born
Between 1925-1970

You might want to share this with others
Who have had the luck to grow up as kids
Before the lawyers and the government
Regulated so much of our lives
For our own good.

While you are at it, forward it to your kids,
So they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house
with scissors, doesn't it ?

-- Author Unknown

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"I Wonder as I Wander" -- Part II

Okay, May appears to be out.  Evidently certain people (the B.G. and Jimmie E) who shall remain nameless refuse to share their birth month with either Thanksgiving or Christmas!  (Selfish, selfish, tsk, tsk!)  So it's back to the drawing board. 

Let's see, what about....

January?  --  No, December-January is just as bad as November-December....besides, too many people are hung over from the New Year.

February?  --  No, it already has Groundhog, Valentine's, and Presidents' Days....

March?  -- No!  All those St. Patrick's Day will arise en masse in defense of their green beer!

April?  --  No, April is tricky, sometimes there's Easter and sometimes there isn't.  Too hard to keep track of!  (Maybe that's why there is April Fool's Day!!)

May??  --  No, NO, a thousand times  NO!  Those stingy boys just don't know how to share!

June? --  Don't be silly, that's for MY birthday!

July? --  Uh-uh, that is for the whole country's birthday!!

August? --  Hmmm, maybe August???  Well, no, everybody is on vacation and it's usually too darn hot!

September? --  No, that's when the kids go back to school and they are generally too darned grumpy to be either thankful or merry!

October??  --   No,  Halloween! All those ghosties and ghoulies would frighten Santa's reindeer!! 

Nove....  -- Oh, that's right back where we started.  Well, darn!

Sooooo,  Thanksgiving evidently cannot be anytime except November and Christmas has permanently claimed December.  Oh Bah! Humbug!  Sigh....

 I withdraw the suggestion.  Carry on.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"I Wonder as I Wander"

My mind is always at work.  "I Wonder as I Wander" all the time.  Do you?  At Christmas time, did ya' ever wonder.....

1,  Why Santa has flying reindeer?  Why not flying moose?  or flying horses?  or better yet geese??  At least geese actually DO fly!

2.  On average, how many trees are cut down each year for Christmas trees?  On second thought, I don't want to know!

3.  How many times a department store Santa gets peed on each year?  Or how many times  he has to change his suit?

4.  Why Macy's chose ginormous bags filled with hot air, painted to look like really overgrown cartoon characters as their iconic Christmas parade tradition? 

5.  If Santa might moonlight as a chimney sweep in the off-season?

6.   What genius scheduled the two biggest holidays of the year within a month of each other?  Why not one of them in May?  Absolutely nothing important happens in May and the weather is better!

7.  How many elves Santa actually  has?  And do you suppose poor Mrs. Claus has to cook for them all??  Who does all those dishes??

8.  Why does Santa say HoHoHo? Why not HaHaHa or HeeHeeHee?

9.  Why the Kings brought gold, frankincense and myrrh?   Diapers might have been more useful!

10.  Why did Santa choose those names for the reindeer?  I understand Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and the others, but Donner?  Makes no sense!  What's a Donner??

11.   Do you suppose that Santa is sick of cookies by now??

12.  If a Yule Log is related to Yul Brynner? (This is Mikey's contribution! Silly man!  He's been making me laugh for 45 years!)

Bonus question:    Did ya' ever wonder, why I am spending time on this, when I should be wrapping, decorating, or finishing up that pesky shopping???  Okay, okay, I'm going! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"

Yep, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"....just not too much around here!  "Why not?" you might ask.
Well, first there's a lot of  decorating to do. I love a Christmas-y house and every year is different about when that gets done. To be absolutely truthful, the outside of the house is decorated with lights, and stars, and reindeer and snowmen (it isn't as over-the-top as it sounds!)  But the inside is definitely a Christmas mess rather than a Christmas delight!

This has happened many times before, so it's nothing new.  The outside is done because Mikey does that by himself.  The inside however, is on hold.  But there's a reason!  Really!

You see, I'm frequently involved in a show around this time and rehearsals can seriously eat into my evenings. When Mikey was doing shows too, it was really hard to get it all done. The show I'm in now is better in this regard because the part I play is a bit of a peripheral character and is in only 3 scenes. That means I don't have to be at rehearsal very often. But still I have tons to do. 
Part of the problem is that the Big Guy has been making needed repairs to several lighted decorations for both inside and outside, including the tree. The tree is in three pieces across the living room and until he has the time to finish the repair, there they will stay. So that puts everything else on hold. It is great that he doesn't want to just toss out something without at least trying to fix it, but his time is limited to weekends. So the rest has to wait.
And it's also a horrible time of year for doing things like writing blogs!  My days are all wrapped up in Christmas prep.  And I have tons more to do!!  Luckily (and very unusually), my shopping is just about done. And I would like to point out that it is only December 13!!  But the shopping is sort of the easy part.  It's the wrapping that bogs me down every year.  I swore to myself I would get it done several days BEFORE Christmas Eve.  Considering I haven't actually started wrapping....I'm in deep trouble already!  lol! 
So why can't I at least write when I can't do any of the other stuff??  That, my friends, is a question with no real answer!  I guess my tired little brain is just not focused in the right direction,or something.  It's like I'm stuck in neutral!   I am pretty sure this is just a minor little temporary absence from blogland.
Oh yes, the wrapping will get done, the decorating will be on display, the lights will glow, the tree will stand, and I will write again!  Just not tonight!  sigh.....

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Oh Christmas Tree"

Our family (well, at least the Big Guy, my daughter, and me) are staunch traditionalists when it comes to Christmas.   Green tree, white lights, every ornament we own, 3 different garlands in gold and red.  Our tree has essentially looked the same every year since 1967 with just minor tweaks (mostly the tree got bigger!)   If I remember correctly we only had a "real" tree once in all that time.  We decided on artificial mainly because of safety concerns (my mom passed her concern on to me!)  But I just didn't want to deal with tree needles embedding themselves in our carpet, never to be seen again until March or April when they would suddenly reappear, poking themselves into the foot of any hapless family member who might like to walk around barefoot when Spring and Summer arrive!! 

We have gone through several trees over the years.  They generally are not known for their longevity!  Evidently the life span of an artificial tree tops out at about 10 years (if you have been very careful!).  At that point they look pretty bedraggled and small little accidents over the years have left some limbs broken, the stand somehow won't hold the tree straight anymore, and all those needles that were supposed to stay on the tree still end up in the carpet waiting to sabotage us in the Spring just like a real tree.

We bought our most recent tree about six years ago or so, I think.  This one was a major step up for us.  The lights were already attached to the tree.  In our family the worst part of Christmas was always the same....Mikey putting on the lights!  Awful process!!  There is a recording that came out a few years ago that reminds me of our former misery with lights so well. The guy who sings about putting up the lights, is spot on!  Of course, I can't remember the actual name of the song or who recorded it, but it is a parody of The 12 Days of Christmas .  It is very funny!  But I digress....

Getting the pre-lit tree has made Christmas a gazillion times better.  For us the shape is the most important thing.  With all the different types of fir trees there are, that gives tree makers a lot of options of what tree to imitate....Douglas fir, Nobel fir, Frasier Fir, Austrian Pine, Blue Spruce, and the others.  But the tree that we like the best is whatever one is constructed in such a way that the boughs and needles sort of sag downward in a graceful fashion.  Just like you might see in a snow covered tree in the forest.  Obviously that is not the actual name of the tree.  No one would name anything  "The Boughs-and-Needles-Sort-of-Sag-Downward-Gracefully-Just-Like-a-Snow-Covered-Tree-in-the-Forest Tree" for obvious reasons!  (What that means is I don't know the name of that kind of fir!)

Well, our current tree is beginning to show its age.  It loses needles and pieces of the boughs, one of the light sections won't light, and we have all but run out of room for all the ornaments we have.  So I imagine we will need to buy another tree in a year or two. 

However, I have been inspired to do something a bit different this year.  I'm going to take our very old tabletop size Christmas tree that we bought decades ago and could never bring ourselves to discard and if I can convince the Big Guy, I am going to spray paint it white and move all of our white, cream, ivory, and gold ornaments over to that tree which will fit very nicely on the round wood antique table we inherited from my mom's cousin which currently lives in our Family Room. That will also help solve the overcrowding ornaments on the main tree!   (Surprise Mikey!  What do you think of my latest brainstorm, Bunky??)

If he says yes, (not necessarily a given), and if  all goes the way it should, and the way I want it to, we will end up with a second tree that looks a lot like the one below  that made me want one too!  Isn't it delightful?
Thanks to Susan (and Bentley) at Ash Tree Cottage, "Christmas in Mom's Solarium." Go visit her blog, she has a few more photos!

I think it would look great!  Don't you?  Then every year we could sing, "Oh, Christmas Tree-s!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

For the last week or so, we have been having winter in Austin.  " Baby, It's Cold Outside"!  The low temps overnight have been in the high 20s, with daytime highs right around 50F.   Not my favorite weather, but bearable.  This, however, is not one of my usual (and futile) complaints about cold weather!  As I said, the highs around 50F with the sun shining, really doesn't feel too bad.  My entire exposure to the outside air is limited to the time it takes me to walk from my car to the entrance of the store, restaurant, house, or whatever I am visiting.  Hardly long enough to even get a real chill. 

Some plants, on the other hand, do not stand a chance!  This, of course, is not their fault.  It is just that there are some people who insist on planting things that are not meant to grow in this climate!  Not only do they plant the wrong things, they do nothing to protect them when the temps fall below their tolerance level.   Some folks just don't get the idea that in a battle between Man and Nature, Nature will ALWAYS win.  ALWAYS!

For instance, there is a house not far from here that I pass everyday on my way in and out of the neighborhood.  Several years ago, they put in a pool in their backyard.  The house was subsequently on the market and I went to an open house,  The backyard pool area was a lovely tropical paradise.  In the middle of summer it looked terrific, like a resort in the Caribbean, filled with lush plants and gorgeous blooms.  And in the corner of the yard were planted several Banana plants.  Banana plants have lovely, long leaves that can look like fronds due to how easily the leaves can be torn by wind.  

I know from the years I lived in Florida, that in the right place,  these trees can practically grow wild.  They are a lot like bamboo too, in that they spread over time.  They can grow to as much as 30 ft. tall, but are usually smaller than that.

Luxor, Banana Island, Banana Tree, Egypt, Oct 2004.jpg And as long as they are in the right climate they will grow for years.  But that is the trick.  The right climate....and Austin is not the right climate in the winter time!  Every time the temperature drops below freezing, the banana plants freeze!  The whole plant turns brown and the leaves just hang there dejectedly and look pathetic. 

The house close to us has had their bananas freeze about every other year!  Well, of course, they do.  Austin is not tropical, despite the 100F temps in the summer.  In the winter we can get frost, and snow, and ice and that most definitely is NOT tropical.

The first few times those bananas froze, I thought the owners must have replaced them because by Spring the bananas were lush and green.  But they have gone through this cycle several times now.  Either those plants can recover from the effects of a freeze (who knows?), or those people are spending beau coup bucks replacing a plant that doesn't belong here in the first place! 

It must be incredibly annoying to the plants, cuz believe me, "Baby It's Cold Outside!!"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

150th Metamorphosis Monday!

I am not a Do-It-Yourselfer.  I don't have the skill, the patience, nor the persistence to take a project to completion when it involves painting, sanding, repairing, or any of the things to take a crumbling piece of furniture to a beautiful addition to a room.  But boy do I admire the people who do! 

When I discovered all the wonderful DIY bloggers that share their projects and make it look so easy, I get antsy and want to join in the fun.  However, knowing my limitations I stick to things I can do like this!

I think every home has a space like the one below.  It's a catchall.  Things that you don't know what to do with end up here....and there they sit for the longest time.  As you keep adding more and more things that have no real home.  After awhile, it becomes intolerable.  It becomes the BEFORE!

Pretty awful, huh?  I would never show this except in this circumstance, believe me!

 Well, somewhere I saw a makeover of an old Library catalog and I was in love!  What a perfect kind of cabinet for a bunch of my little stuff that was scattered all over the kitchen and family room.  I had to get me one of those!   So I searched.  It wasn't even difficult to find several different sizes,  Unfortunately, the reality was that the multi-drawer units were too big for the space, the smaller ones weren't as useful.  The ones that needed re-doing were still pretty expensive and the ones that had already been re-done cost waaay more than I wanted to spend anyway.  Okay, no Library catalog.  On to Plan B!

At this point the Big Guy began to search on-line and for a few weeks, each evening he was home, I would occasionally hear "How about this one?" coming from the family room while Mikey scoured the Internet.  I began to despair and tried to come up with Plan C.

I should have had more faith.  My guy came through (he has lots of persistence!), On my birthday I received the perfect thing.

Well, it was almost the perfect thing.   Very, very close, but it was a muddy, baby poop color that just wasn't very attractive.  And to top that off, one of the rear corners  had been broken in transit.  I was so disappointed at first.  But the Big Guy came to the rescue again!  He contacted the artisan who made it and she agreed to replace it with an unbroken one and she even offered to paint the replacement to the color of our choice!  Oh Happy Day!  Don't you just love responsible merchants??

So we sent Mr. Muddy back and after a bit, we got the new one that was just exactly right!  It was yellow!  (I know it doesn't look much different in the photos, but it is!)  I was so excited.  After shopping the house, this is the display I came up with:  What do you think?

Here is the AFTER:

The little bronzed-baby shoes were worn by both me and my sister, just 12 years apart!

This is a poem M-t-G wrote for her Poppa in 2008 for Father's Day.
 (She was 7 years old.)

It isn't quite complete.  There will be Library catalog type label holders added to the drawers just as soon as the holders are painted and I figure out what goes where.  But I love the little nook and at night it lightens up a previously dark corner of the kitchen just beautifully (again the photo doesn't do it justice.)

So I am so pleased with this, I am sending it to the 150th Metamorphosis Monday (if I can figure out how!) at
Between Naps On The Porch

And... Before and After Party at Thrifty Decor Chick


Go visit all the lovely links with changes of their own.  You'll love it!  I do!

Compared to all the beautiful Metamorphoses and Before and Afters, this is kind of small potatoes, I know.  Still, it's a big change for us!!  Hope you enjoyed our makeover!!  I think we may have started something around here!  Yep, "There'll Be Some Changes Made!"

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