Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Column: Quirky Snow Friends a Fast Track to Fun

Ashley and friend...January 1977
My last column was about snowmen...and yes, sometimes my topics get a little thin. I was in the middle of Christmas rush - decorating, buying, wrapping, mailing - you get the idea! And as I was putting up my shelf of snow folks this year, I realized how much I enjoy seeing them all again as I pull them out during the Christmas season - and how not too many other inanimate objects have the kind of personality a snowman does.

The picture you see above is one I took of Ashley when we made her first snowman. I see such a resemblance to Gracie that sometimes it's spooky! Kinda like a snowman...sometimes I recognize old friends in the face of a snowman. But that's just me!

So, two days before Christmas as I am posting my column, I have discovered that it won't post. Something weird going on with the copy/paste thing. But if you'll do the same as always and click on "The Column" above, I have provided the link to my Snow Friends column in the Morgan Hill Times. Come to think of it, I could've provided it right here, couldn't I? Well, that's the way it's going with me today. Two steps forward, one step back :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Well, I am certainly going to remember this one! I think my heart must be getting REALLY PRETTY! :)

Column: Waffling at breakfast is no laughing matter

I just don’t know what’s wrong with the media these days. Every time you turn around there’s more bad news about foods we love to eat. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Recently it was about the Eggo Waffle shortage. Really? Eggos? Yep, ‘fraid so. And if that wasn’t enough to get your Ever-Expanding-Eggo-Eating-Big-Girl-Panties in a twist, wait! There’s more…
Oh, yeah…that movie favorite with the enticing aroma you can pick up clear back in the parking lot. BAAAAAD for you. Really, REALLY bad for you. Not to mention…

HOLY MOLY!!! Yes, our favorite frozen treat is on the ten worst food list issued recently by the “Food Police.” And if you want to see what else I’ve learned…
Just do a little “Waffle Walk” right on over to this week’s column found, you got it, by clicking on “THE COLUMN” link above. And may I just add a little ‘Bon Appetit’ – or then again – not…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sign of approaching winter

If you asked him, Mr. H. would probably tell you he loves having a wood-burning fireplace at our house rather than the more environmentally P.C. gas burning logs. Unless, of course, you asked him on one particular day every other year or so. This day would be the day when he takes delivery of a fresh cord of firewood - in this case, seasoned almond logs.
"Holy _____!!!!"

This year our wood was delivered by an almond farmer from the Central Valley. I feel good knowing that once they've passed their prime in producing those heart-healthy California almonds, the dead, chopped down trees are going to one last, good use.
Yes, we love those roaring fires on cold winter nights. They heat the family room to toasty comfort and there's nothing more mesmerizing than a blazing "real" fire crackling and popping as we warm ourselves beside the hearth.

Of course those 30-plus trips it takes with the wheel barrel topped to the brim - and those suckers are HEAVY - is no easy task but it has to be done to store a full cord of wood and keep it out of the weather. I wonder how he does it...but when I ask him he just says that it's "good exercise."


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Legend in My Own Mind

It occurred to me the other day as I was preparing to write my column that I was in the midst of my annual "Sugar Plum Days" when it's just far enough away from Christmas that I still believe anything is possible. Like our friend, Miz Martha above, pictured with one of the animals she undoubtedly knit herself one day while she was letting the polish on her toenails dry, when it comes to decorating for Christmas and putting on the best holiday ever, I could do anything. (You'll see what I mean by going to "The Column" link above.)
Now my friend, Linda, hit the old nail right on the head when she e-mailed me the other day to say she enjoyed the column and that it was certainly a universal feeling that all us girls experience. But the subject of her e-mail said it all: "42 days to perfection." Oh, yes, m'am!! It would be glorious, all right!

The Christmas tree - or that would be "trees" because I decorate - count 'em - THREE full-size trees each year - would be the centerpiece of my holiday vignettes...each tree having its own theme. Lovingly I'll attach each ornament, each sparkly element until I had it perfect. Nevermind that I was actually finishing the trees on Christmas Eve and pretty much HEAVING the last few baubles into place.

My Christmas village would be straight out of Dickens with a nice dash of Rockwell...idyllic in its snowy peacefulness. To say my village is a megalopolis that can be picked up by Google Earth is probably not much of an understatement.

Handmade wreaths on the doors, in my kitchen window...forgotten in November is the fact that my wreaths, having been packed away last year in the post-Christmas spirit of 'I-am-so-sick-of-this-stuff-I-hope-it-all-gets-eaten-by-racoons!' will need to be resurrected in order to be at least somewhat presentable....

What if we don't have White Christmases here in California?!!! With modern technology we might figure out a way to introduce a bit of the white stuff into our decorations this year.

And yes, it's true. My two lovely daughters (who I THOUGHT I was doing this for all those years) used to describe my decorating theme as "Santa Claus threw up in here" - so forgive me if I felt vindicated at last when Ashley had a little gathering of girlfriends over for a little pre-Christmas "do" and one of the girls remarked - "Oh, Ashley, I just love your house! It looks just like Martha Stewart decorated it!!"

So it was that I became Martha. Or a Martha-Wannabe, more like it although I would never admit it. And even now that the girls have grown up and flown the nest, there are some new little baby birds who come to visit now and I know one of them, Miss Gracie Elizabeth, will drop her tiny sweet jaw in wonder at all the lights, the trees, the whole "Santa threw up in here" extravaganza. And you just never know what I may come up with next...I may just have a couple of new tricks up my sleeve...I can hardly wait.

But first..............

I guess I'd better see if I can make it through Thanksgiving...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ok, the above illustration MAY BE a little overdone, but this morning "between 11am & 12noon" when I made my mandatory call regarding Jury Duty (see post below) I heard the following good news: "Jurors for the week of November 9 through 13 that are not assigned to a courtroom are now released (****RELEASED!!!!!!!!!!****) from jury duty. Thank you for your service to the court this week." Well, Court, THANK YOU - not to mention - Yipee, Hallelujah, Hip-Hip-Hooray, etc. etc. etc.

Of course you know what happened next. I got to wondering...what kind of interesting members of the public that I will never have the opportunity to meet make up the jury that I might have served upon? What didn't I learn by not being called to serve on this jury? What horizons will never broaden because I failed to be summoned. Oh me, oh my, what might have been...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Doing the Duty

I have been tied to my telephone for the past four days, forced to make calls between "11am and 12noon" and "after 5pm." Every. Single. Day. I know the telephone number by heart. Yes, it's a jury summons making my life miserable.

First I was panicked about having to serve in San Jose. I get totally confused in that neck of the woods. Unless of course it's Valley Faire or Oakridge Mall or some such. But all that conglomeration around Hedding not to mention city government offices, state government offices, county government offices - it's just all "ick" in my book when being forced to drive and and find a spot to park my vehicle that's in the same zip code as my destination. I remember all too well the run-around I endured finding these entities when opening my business in Morgan Hill 13 years ago.

So I dutifully make my "duty call" twice per day although I did luck out in drawing a week with one government-observed holiday in it so I'm only on standby for, technically, four days this week. And yes, I know, this is one of our sacred freedoms in action - the right to a trial where we are judged by our peers. (Which begs the question: what, exactly, is a peer? Most jurors don't have a flamin' thing in common with the defendant, right? I don't care if it's Bernie Madoff or Jack the Ripper. How to you relate to THOSE people?)

The true trauma here is I am in "Group 517" and Groups 501 through 512 have to report at 1pm TODAY. YIKES! That is WAY too close, and I am SO hoping that Groups 501 through 512 are primo, cream-of-the-crop jurors who will all be picked to serve so I can dodge, excused from doing the duty this year. And next year. And...

One good thing about being on jury duty's standby status? I can see a column coming out of this. Yep. That will be my True American contribution to jury duty. A piece in the Morgan Hill times. That's the kind of jury duty I can handle.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crib Notes

This is Mimi here, reporting in from Long Beach where I've spent the past four days watching the antics of two of my favorite subjects these days: Gracie and Emily.

So yesterday Miss Emily surprised us all by going from a sitting up position in her crib to grabbing the side rail and pulling herself up to a stand. To see the start of how this all looks, note the photo below. The fact that Emily is only STARTING to stand up in the photo is a testament to Mimi's chicken-dom. No way could I take pictures and monitor the bouncy Miss Emily and I knew this would be inviting a certain fall overboard by l'enfant (I have SO forgotten my French). And I could have, like, TOTALLY dropped my camera :)
So having stopped The Divine Miss E. in mid-stand, I hung around to see what other antics this little missy was up to while in the crib and I wasn't disappointed.
And may I just say that babies are never bored. Case in point: Emily finds it great fun to pop her passey (pacifier) in and out of her mouth. Over and over and over and... Sometimes it lands in the right direction. Sometimes not. But is she worried? Nope - not a bit!

Sometimes you get your mouth a bit "whopper-jawed" (as my grandpa used to say) when you're ramming a big passey into a little mouth.

But this of course produces lots of giggles.

Now it's serious business trying to shoot a hole in one...'s almost there...

Yep - you can almost hear a "pop" from all the suction!

Checking things out. "Yep, this is my passey, all right!!!"

And for her next magical trick, Emily pulls her blanket up over her head, gets REALLY excited and starts flapping her arms up and down like a little bird while inhaling madly through her pacifier. No, don't ask me how she does all that, but trust me - she does!

But if you think the crib play is something, the many faces of Emily in her highchair is a sight to behold. Miss Emily LOVES - and I mean LOVES - to eat her solid food. She typically doubles herself in half "a la Jackknife" and sometimes (when you're really lucky) she grabs onto the handle of the spoon with her two chubby, dimply little hands and "helps" get the spoon into her mouth. Of course that means two STICKY chubby, dimply little hands...

Contemplating that next bite...hmm...cereal and applesauce? or....cereal and peas? Who cares?!!! IT'S ALLLLLLLL GOOD!!!
Yes, life is good when you have a bowl of mush about to be consumed.

Emily is a living, breathing testament to baby food!

And...where's the rest of my meal? And when can I have a steak, people?!!!

That grilled burger looks pretty good....

I'll eat smooshed peas and cereal but I don't have to like it....

Here is the miracle of all inventions: my purple spoon.

Ohhhhh, purple spoon!! How do I love thee?

This is the smile of a happy baby girl! And speaking of girls:

Gracie and Mimi shared some fun in the sun. First we found inside the garage a toy left over from Gracie's first Christmas...

Yay! The doorbell still works! And the house still sings songs, too! Wow! Life is good!

Checking out the foundation...

Foundation is good...and maybe a little WD-40 would help the squeaky door hinges!
But running around and around the house is the best kind of fun!
Especially because 2-year old little girls sleep REALLY well after some fun in the autumn sun!

So a few more turns around the house...

....while the sun still shines....and before....Yay! Mommy gets home! And what is a fun fall day without a little of Autumn's best fruit - yummy apples and Mommy is ready to share!

That's one big apple!
Before long Gracie has confiscated her mommy's apple and enjoys the freedom of taking one big bite after another...

Good thing all those teeth came in nice and strong!
Very sweet...and the apple's good too :)

Hmmm...getting down to the core...

Couple more places to bite on this thing... AND SPEAKING OF BITES...oh good heavens...

This is Emily imitating her "TeeTee" (Auntie Alyssa). When Alyssa was a baby she LOVED-LOVED-LOVED to squish her hands into her food - especially yogurt - and smear it all over her hands, her face, her hair. I used to say that when Alyssa ate she employed the "total dining experience." I believe she has met her match. Her niece Emily enjoys wearing her food almost as much as she enjoys eating it!
And with her little spoon she is so helpful...nearly ready to feed herself perhaps??!

But those Sensational Stromberg Sisters clean up pretty well when it's all said and done. And it's been yet another Very Great Visit in Long Beach!