Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family History

One of the things I wanted to do while I was home for the holiday was to take pictures of family stones at the local cemeteries. (I know, not particularly festive, but I don't get home that often and photos of tombstones are admissible for DAR evidence.) I found some family members but not others. Heck, I can't even figure out where some of my people are buried; so I thought I was doing good to get what I did. I was really looking for one of my great, great grandmothers on my father's side. She had been widowed and remarried, so the name was different. After a little search my sister found her in Byhalia Cemetary. It helps that she knew the place.

It is so odd, here is this tombstone of a women I never knew who died younger than I am now. What happened? What was her life like? She was married at 18 and widowed at 27. She remarried, had another baby at 41 then died when the baby was just 1 year old. Her son, my great grandfather and his wife, moved in with his stepfather to help care for the baby. Two of his children were within a year of his half-sister. It is amazing to see family dynamics at work in census records.

RIP Mattie Holmes Romick Schertzer

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Well instead of a Yule Log, I give you Yule twigs. (I was burning some of the dead-fall from last week's ice storm.) I hope your holiday is merry and bright. Hang up your stockings, for Santa Claus comes tonight.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My World

Anytime after Thanksgiving all bets are off on whether or not we will have snow on the mountain. It can be raining 6 miles away in Town Center, and snowing to beat the band up here. In fact, most people do not visit me until Easter or if they do, they bring their jammies. (I keep the guest room ready at all times.) I hate winter, but I have to say it is beautiful on the mountain in the snow. This road borders one side of my property.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Six Random Facts Meme

Kyle from As the Mind Wanders tagged me with the "Six Random Facts" meme. So I sit here pondering 6 random facts. Do they need to be weighty, or silly or what. Let's see....

1. I have taken quite a few classes at the CIA. No, no, the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. They have hands-on full-day Saturday classes. Loved it. Totally fun. Learned a lot too.

2. I went sand-sliding out in the desert in Dubai in a 4X4 with the widows rolled up and crazy Bedouin music blaring from the stereo. Now, that was a whack-a-do thing.

3. Hazy, Hot and Humid are my 3 favorite words, seriously. I hate the cold and snow and ice and ugh. Really, I would say the same in August.

4. I could listen to my ipod for 17.6 days before I had to repeat a song. Most of the music is from around the world and in other languages. Think voice as an instrument.

5. The first car I ever owned was a silver VW bug with a sun-roof. I paid a whole $500 for it. I thought I was hot stuff, never mind that the floor was rotted out and I would get soaked if I ran into a puddle.

6. I have a weaving studio and a loom that I have only used twice in the last 8 years.

Here are the rules for Six Random Things:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
I am not going to tag anyone specifically, if you are interested in doing it, please consider yourself tagged.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Squirrel in the Snow

Oh My, look at that frowny face. I spotted Mr. Grumpy in the backyard when I was out photographing birds in the snow. He looks completely miserable, poor thing. He's the only squirrel I have seen today. No doubt the other fifty-eleven are tucked in somewhwere.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice Storm

I got a phone call from one of my neighbors while I was away inquiring if our power had come back on. I listened to the message with a sinking feeling. I was unaware we had a problem and it was too late to call by the time I got the message. One of the other conference attendees mentioned an ice storm but she said it was in Massachusetts. I really hadn't given it any thought.

There was nothing on the ground as I drove north. There was nothing on the ground when I swung around the lake. But as I climbed the last 500 ft from the lake to the house, Holy Cow. Everything but the road was covered in a thick coating of ice. Apparently it was the last 500 feet in altitude that did it. I know I live in a micro-climate, but c'mon.

The storm started Thursday night and the power went out around 10p. There was no power all day on Friday, finally coming back on Friday night. I got home on Saturday around 4p and ice still coated everything. The trees are bent over, the forsythia is a glistening crystal sculpture bowed earthward, the barberries are frozen in ice. Many of the tops of trees and some of the arborvitae snapped with the weight. The sound of chainsaws echoed from the ridge tops on Sunday. We are still coated in ice as I write this, 3 days later.

There is nothing more beautiful than sunlight glistening on ice but it can be deadly.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strolling through Old Town Albuquerque

I rarely visit other towns at Christmas time. So it was interesting to stroll through Old Town Albuquerque on my way to and from dinner at the Church Street Cafe. It is a Southwest tradition and possibly a uniquely New Mexican one, to line your rooftop, porch, street and it would seem any outdoor surface with luminarias. Many of the buildings in Albuquerque both in Old Town and in the greater business and residential communities have them lining their roof tops already. These, I was told are electric.

But in Old Town, thousands of small brown paper bags will be filled with sand and a candle lining the streets on Christmas Eve to welcome the Christchild. There is a Christmas Eve tour that is suppose to be spectacular.

I would love to see it one day.

There were regular stands of white lights decorating the shops and houses too. This decorated dancer took my fancy.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Growing up in the flatland, far from the big city, the tallest building in town was the grain elevator. You could see it for miles. Every Christmas they would put a star at the very top. Decades later, the star still gleams on frosty winter nights, a sign that welcomes home weary travelers as another star did years ago. Too see other skies check out Skywatch, a weekly meme of skies from around the world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rehab for the holidays

My cousin called last night to tell me that my 84-year old aunt fell at the doctor’s office (of all places) while taking off her shoes to be weighed. (It is those little vanities that may kill us.) She broke her hip, badly and not only will she require surgery but a plate and screws. She is now in the hospital waiting to be squeezed into the operating room schedule. Her 82 year-old sister went into the hospital for carpal tunnel surgery before Thanksgiving to come out with a triple bypass (She had been having tightness in her chest but did not tell anyone.) They will both be in rehab for the holidays but with any luck in the same facility. We will no doubt be driving back and forth while I am home for Christmas.

I suppose I will send flowers, but when, where and how is the question. And you know I will have to send to both of them or there will be hell to pay. I wonder if the fruit basket is better? Or maybe cookies or oh, I don’t know. Oy family dynamics. Any suggestions?

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Raspberry White Chocolate Bars

While I was staking out the Red Crossbill at a neighbor's house, I learned that Weis Ecology Center was having a Christmas tree sale as a fundraiser. In addition to the tree yard, they were also having arts and crafts for the kids and a bake sale. I rushed home to bake chocolate bear cookies and these fabulous red and white bars. I don't make as many holiday cookies as I used to, goodness knows, what with the price of ingredients these days, but these holiday bars as part of my repetoire and great as gifts, for cookies exchanges and fundraising bake sales. They freeze great too, I have often frozen them for weeks.

1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
2 eggs
1 18oz jar of red raspberry preserves (I use seedless Polaner)
1 cup white chocolate chips (I use an entire bag of Ghirardelli white)

Heat over to 350. Combine sugar, butter, salt and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping often, until well mixed (1-2 minutes). Reduce speed to low. Beat, adding flour 1 cup at a time and scraping often, until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside. Add eggs to the mixture in the bowl; beat until mixture forms a dough. Press the dough into an ungreased 13X9-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Spread preserves over the hot, partially baked bars. Sprinkle the chips over the jam. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top. Return to oven and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 48 bars.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pink Tractor

There were no girly pink tractors when I was small. I think we had a beat-up red one. Or maybe a cousin had a beat-up red one. Whosoever it was, it most definitely was not new or pink. I took this picture at Tractor Supply. It tickled me. And John Deere makes bikes now??? Now that is building brand loyalty! I love shopping in the flatland, things are so different there then they are here.