Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Visitors v 1.1

The first of our visitors flew out today, in two different groups. A morning trip to say goodbye to the Washington and Kansas crews and an afternoon trip to send the Florida girls home

We had a good time with the smalls et al:

Making and decorating gingerbread cookies with edible water colors and googly-type eyes.

This is the police bear. He has a gun. (or so I was told)

The children's museum had lots to entertain smalls and moms...

One of my favorite places to take visitors is the conservatory of the Bellagio. There is always a seasonal floral display (extravaganza, really). It is changed out about 4 or 5 times a year and is always breathtaking. There are elements that are re-purposed, but many new elements are added to each season's display. The Christmas display was resplendent!

It is always stop and go, because everyone is posing their groups for a photo in this most "Kodak-ian" place! Us too!

The tree is as tall as the two story ceiling. The giant round ornaments are about 5 feet across.

I had read that there was a machine that made indoor snow over the snow family, but it was not in operation when we were there. The snow people were made of white carnations.

The soldiers guarded the bridge with a canopy of greens and arcing fountains.

After the conservatory, we watched the dancing fountains. The smalls were skeptical when they saw a calm lake. (They were a little disappointed in Hoover Dam - mainly because they were counting on seeing "the beavers". I think they felt I might be trying to sell another sham point of interest!)

I was hoping for one of my favorite "performances" - Aaron Copeland's "Simple Gifts" from Appalachian Spring, or the piece from Rodeo whose title escapes me. (All I can think of is "Beef - It's Whats for Dinner"...)

It exceeded my hopes -The Hallelujah Chorus! Such a stirring piece and the dancing fountains just amplified the impact! The smalls pronounced it "tight"!

All the way home they sang "hal-le-lu-la" in the back seat!

My reputation as tour guide was redeemed!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resources untapped

When I was born, my Grandpa (my mom's dad) was 60 years old. He was still farming to a certain extent while I was in elementary school. Mostly, I remember that he always had soft peppermint candies in his pocket. I do not recall ever spending "quality time" with my grandpa. He was not in great health and was no longer living alone by the time I was in 5th or 6th grade.

This photo (from the family flotsam and jetsam) obviously was taken outside Kiowa County, but I was never aware that my Grandpa ever traveled!

The occasion for his travel is a mystery to me!

My mom and dad moved frequently before I was born, and after, until my dad passed away when I was almost two. Daddy's work as a welder took us from Texas to Canada building pipelines. I think Wisest Sister attended something like 23 high schools before she graduated from GHS. (That might be an exaggeration, but it was a lot!)

I don't think we ever lived in Arkansas, though, so Grandpa wasn't visiting us when this photo was taken. (Plus, it is not a slide, so my mom didn't "snap" it!)

It may remain a mystery unless someone else has the answer. Of course the folks who would surely know, my Grandpa and my Mom are no longer with us. In my family, we are pretty good about identifying the folks in photos on the back. We have some "unknowns", but not many. We are not as good about identifying the occasion.

When The Boy Cousin was visiting a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Aunt Ruth's diary and some of the surprises in it. One surprise was that Aunt Ruth apparently didn't graduate from High School. TBC thought that he had seen her in the Gallery of Graduates before the tornado. I always assumed she had graduated, because I have a photo that was always attributed to be her graduation photo. Dear Aunt confirmed to him, though, that Aunt Ruth left school before she finished.

She also added that Grandpa, Aunt Ruth's brother always was envious of Aunt Ruth because she got to go to school as long as she did, since he didn't get to go to high school, at all!

He always seemed kind of "prickly" to me when I was little, but I wished that I had the opportunity to know my Grandpa better. I guess learning through sharing our collective memories with my sibs and cousins is next best...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Well, we survived the day!

Everyone arrived safely and relatively on time. The first guests, G and C arrived on 12/24, so we had some charming moments before the others arrived.

We don't have a lot of toys at our house, but old school Cowboys and Indians fascinated for awhile....

I wonder if Precious C will remember Grandma and Grandpa's house as "the place with the green men"!
Later in the day, the fun began. Of course, keeping track of who got what and how to make it work was a job for the Super Mom's!
Old school video games created a bonding moment for the cousins.

Yesterday was kind of hard on everyone as anticipation rarely meets reality when you have been traveling all day after getting up early and missing lunch!

Today, though, everyone has been enjoying getting re-acquainted and catching up.

Tomorrow, we are weighing the option of Hoover Dam or the outlet mall sales. Modern Wonder of the World, or Kaybee Toy liquidation sale? That is the question! I will let you know what wins!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is the last quiet minute...

...before the holiday guests begin arriving. Lovely G and Precious C arrive tomorrow from Florida and thus begins the fun and chaos of having the children and the grandchildren in the house.

We will have a series of guests from 12/24 through 1/6. I am sure when they are all gone, it will be nice to have the house back to just the kitties, The Mister and myself. Right now, though, we can hardly wait to see everyone.

There are still several details to finish up before the morning, so I will leave you with a few of my favorite ornaments...

Dearest Sister made me a set of tiny patchwork ornaments about 25 years ago. They were designed to hang on a Swedish Dowel tree, but I have always hung them on the regular tree. It is good to have unbreakable ornaments to hang on the low branches, when toddlers are about.

This cutie-pie ceramic mouse was made and given to me by DS's, Grandbebe's Mama when she was a young teen. It seems like it was only a few years ago, but it must have been 10 or 12. It always reminds me of the great big gatherings that we used to have when we all lived within a half day's drive.

Of course, this ornament was created by Ms A. It was probably a Girl Scout project, or perhaps made in school. The media is plastic ball with glitter and markers. Now, Ms A makes her living from her fine arts training, and her media of preference has evolved....

This is an ornament that she made several Christmas's ago. It is prismacolor on copper and it hangs on the kitchen curtain rod most of the year. I just can't pack it away!

Her work is more sophisticated now, but I still love the plastic ball!

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday,surrounded by those they love!
Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Under the influence...

I may have mentioned that Dearest Sister and I have a close bond. I always knew it developed before my earliest memory and now I have proof.

Here she is attempting the Vulcan Mind Meld. (or maybe just a headlock)

(notice the sewing box in the background!)

I believe I know, now, where her children get their impeccable sense of accessorizing!

DS is always the one with ideas. Me, I just go along in a baggy pants kind of way...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Homecoming Parade 1961 - Greensburg, KS

This weekend I have been busy finishing up the Christmas preparations. Today's challenge was to create space in my "sewing" room for an inflatable guest bed and room for said guests to make themselves comfortable.

While I was tidying (and I use the term, well... tidying seems rather mild for what I had to accomplish!) I came across some more slides (or framed color transparencies as they were labeled). When I finished my room project, I decided to fire up the projector and see what I could see.

This is the homecoming parade in Greensburg, Kansas in 1961. I can date it exactly, because Deeply Missed Sister was the homecoming queen!

First entry, pulled by Byrd Hardy was the Y-Teens with their theme of "World of ..." (dang that western Kansas wind!)

This entry was sponsored by Dillon's. (The sign says something about value, or prices....)

Not sure what this entry is about, other than "look at my cool old car!" (The Mister is more interested in the cars parked on the street!)

This is the queen and her court on the lovely float decorated with facial-tissue-in-chicken wire- flowers. Sister is the one with the black sash.

Here she is a little closer...

Parades are one of the things my mother always had the camera out for. (Parades and significant snow accumulation). I used to think that it was kind of a wasted effort, after all, you can't hear the bands and you get mostly pavement in the photos (before the luxury of cropping and editing was available). I am glad to have these photos, though, and glad that I have a way to share them!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Greensburg, Kansas - circa 1963

Greensburg, Kansas is my hometown. I was not born there, but most in my family were, back three generations. Greensburg is in the process of rebuilding from a tornado that destroyed most of the town on May 4, 2007. My sister and I were very affected by the thought of all that was familiar in our hometown has disappeared.

These photos were in a box that we sorted through at Thanksgiving:

This is the original First Christian Church. I was baptized there a year or two after this photo was taken. (1963 according to the date on the back of the photo)This building became an antique store and a new church was built a little South of town in the early 70's. It was also called the First Christian Church, although I always thought of it as the Second First Christian Church.

This is the Second First Christian Church being rebuilt (October, 08 progress)

It is the Third First Christian Church.

It has a piece of the original, though.

This is the water tower: pre 5/4/07.
The water tower was an ever present icon. We lived across the street and one house away from it. Sometimes it would over-flow. In the summer, that meant playing in the "rain" on a sunny day. In the winter, it meant a winter wonderland full of icicles on the way to Sunday school.

I don't recognize where the camera was when this photo was taken, but it gives me the feeling of a window to the past.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

...or the end of days!

This was the view from my window this afternoon. When this happens in the desert, we pretty much assume that in an hour it will all be gone. Not today.

It just kept falling. And falling. And falling.

Desert landscape ala mode!

Our 'very green' backyard is now green and white!
And red and white!

There are no snow plows or sand trucks in the desert and usually no need for them. When the need arises, we just have to wait until it passes.

The economy will get a boost, since the airport is closed. Room occupancy will be up!! Lets just hope the tourists did not lose all their money, just yet.

I am predicting masses of absenteeism at work tomorrow. Chaos reigns when snow falls here!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Handmade Christmas...

...has a long history in our family!

This photo is from the classic "Animal Print Garments For Everyone" Christmas, 1966. Mother found a great bargain on 10 or 20 yards of the fabric and decided that everyone could use a jumpsuit or bath robe or ...something out of leopard print!

First Niece, L the Dr. is the little one on Brother's lap. Dearest Sister and Deeply Missed sister are in the back and SIL who shares my name but spells it differently, and I, are on either side of Brother.

Wisest Sister must have helped Mother with the marathon of corduroy animal print sewing, as I don't remember seeing her in leopard print...

The corduroy was very small wale cotton, so it was comfortable, although DMS always looked cool and comfortable. That was her style!

Here she is with her knitting, probably continuing the handmade Christmas tradition.

(Notice the liquid soap bottle doll "caddy" over her left shoulder. Is there no end to the clever crafting in our family?!?)

I had great plans to sew gifts this Christmas, but having an unexpected trip to the Frozen North set back my timetable. I don't think it would be good for the Mister's blood pressure for me to persevere with the idea, since it would undoubtedly include last minute late night sewing. He likes to have things done well within deadlines.

This year the extent of my handmade gifts may be knitted dishcloths. But on the upside, I already have several things in progress for next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow Day!

Last night, the weatherman warned that snow was on the way!

Three to four inches were predicted at 2000' elevation which is most of the valley floor. Everyone ran to the store to "stock up". Not sure what they were buying, but the hardware stores were sold out of snow shovels. (Of course, they never had any to begin with.)

We only got rain, here in the low country, and I am glad because I am sure that it was chaos where the snow fell in the north part of town.

Since we didn't get any snow today, I will share this photo with you from our trip to the frozen north:

Looks cold, doesn't it?

It should, it was over 20,000 feet elevation! Flying the (un)-friendly skies!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Creating order from chaos...

...was my project today! We have many guests coming for xmas:

The Mister's 2nd daughter (Lovely Ms. H)with her two children, 2nd grand-daughter (Dear L)and 3rd grand-son (Dear HD). Also, The Mister's 3rd daughter (Dear Ms. C)and 1st daughter's first daughter (Lovely G) and her first daughter! (Precious C)

In the desert, it is apparently assumed that everyone comes with only the shirt on their backs and a tiny rucksack with a cup and bowl. They do not build houses with any storage!

We have been using our second bedroom as a guest room and the third bedroom for storage. (The fourth bedroom is my sewing/craft room, although no sewing or craft has occurred in it, as yet).

So today, my project was to convert a storage/computer room into an inviting guest room.

This is the result!

The bed cover is a cathedral window "quilt" that I acquired at a garage sale several years ago. It is not perfect, probably a dozen "windows" need to be re-tacked so that the corners of don't curl up. The lady selling it had made it, but she was "down-sizing" her life and wanted to pass it on. As I recall, I paid about $50 for it. I have never used it before now. It is very heavy and takes up quite a bit of room on the shelf, so I thought I would add it to this guest bed as additional warmth. I was pleased when I realized that it was big enough to make a coverlet!

It is very "scrappy" with lots of different fabrics. I haven't really looked to see if there are any duplicates, but I haven't noticed any.

I think it makes the room look very warm and inviting. I hope so, because I need it to draw the eye away from the other corner of the room!

Well, we still need storage, at least until Dear Ms A is settled in her own home with lots and lots of storage space!

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Traditions

These are the lights that say "holiday" to me, but I don't live in that city anymore. Perhaps again someday, but not now.

Now, I live in a city of lights.

(not Paris, but we have one here..)
Every thing is lit with neon, flashing lights, LED video and high def video screens as big as a football field (my least favorite unit of measure!)

So, at the holidays, it is hard to come up with lights that are special.

This is the desert version of holiday lights.

Obviously, this is during the day, unlit. There is a two or three acre cactus garden at a famous chocolatier that decorates for the holidays. Each cactus is wrapped with a string of a single color of bulb.

Accessories are added...

And viola!

Not the same tradition that we enjoyed before...

But the chocolates keep us coming back!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We are home from the frozen north...

This was our view of Mother Nature on Sunday morning. The first snowfall of the year is always exciting - but this was about the third or fourth snowfall in the North!

Monday, we made the first leg of our return trip - heading south. On the way, we stopped for an early lunch. This was on the side of the diner. It had warmed up a little since it was close to noon...

This is what Mother Nature had to show us on our arrival home!

Poor things were leaning toward the sun, trying to get some sun food! I am sure they will straighten up again with some rotating.

This is how they look in "full bloom". I wish you could smell them - they are divine!

And look at my amaryllis sticking out it's tongue!

Even though I really didn't have room for souvenirs (trying to avoid the check bag fee, don't you know..) I did buy another paper white kit! I threw away the bulky pot, growing medium and the box and tucked the bulbs into a corner of my bag. Now I can have a second crop!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Frozen North... where I have spent the last four days. The Mister lost his older sister unexpectedly, so we traveled to the great white north for her funeral. Such an emergency is the only reason that we travel here in the winter months. (There are two seasons here, "Winter", and "Winter's Coming")

We don't mind the cold weather and the snow so much in short spurts, but the unpredictability of the weather can play havoc with travel plans. In fact, many of the travelers had to postpone departure a day due to the closing of King's Highway 401 due to weather and "lake effect snow" to the Southwest.

It is always good to gather together with family, even for a sad occasion and we enjoyed seeing how much the young people have changed and how the babies have turned into toddlers and the toddlers have grown into youngsters.

We are in Albany, NY awaiting a Wednesday morning flight back to the desert. We are here a day earlier than planned to avoid weather that is due tomorrow to the North.

On the way here today, I convinced The Mister to stop at a quilt shop that we passed traveling through the Akwesasne Mokawk Nation. I bought a quilt pattern as well as a pattern book,an advent calendar panel and a couple of fat quarters. I couldn't go too crazy because I am trying not to have to check a bag. (The only freebie left on airlines today is carry on luggage! $2 for a soda and not a free peanut or pretzel to be had!)

I hope to find some local points of interest to occupy tomorrow. There is a Shaker Site near the airport that is having a Christmas Craft sale so that is a possibility! My Shaker broom is about 24 years old - I wonder if they would let me carry one on!?!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I have a bloom!

The first paperwhite bud to open. It is not completely open yet, but the fragrance is lovely. I really should have either started them as soon as we got home from the Adventure. Then we would have had blooms at Thanksgiving. Or, if I had waited until this week, the blooms would have been open for Christmas.

Perhaps the hyacinths will show off at Christmas. I have never grown them indoors before, so I am not really sure how long they take. I can see little green points coming up from the center and the roots are certainly growing well, but they are slackers when compared to the paperwhites!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One of the things on my wish list.... a machine to convert slides to digital pictures. Precious Ms A has told me that they exist and I mean to investigate and gain access to one.

When Dearest Sister was here over the Eating Holiday, she helped me go through a box or two of Flotsam and Jetsam . This evening, I set up the projector and investigated several carousels of Kodachrome slides that we intended to review, but ran out of holiday before we got to them. As we suspected, most of the slides were photos of iris that were taken by my mother.

Not all, though!

Some were family photos that I think I may have seen before, but perhaps not more than once. Not enough to settle them into my memory.

Mother always took slide photos. She felt they were superior quality. True, but since she did not own a slide projector until the 1980's, for many years we could only look at them by holding them up to the light.

When I saw them, I really wished someone were here to enjoy them with me! They made me smile and some made me laugh out loud!

So, I put on my thinking cap and used the technology and magic at my disposal to convert Kodachrome to digital!

DS and I have a history of laughter! On one adventure with our girls and one or two of their friends, we heard the impertinent miss, Dearest V, say to her companion, "Don't worry if my mom and Aunt Jan just start laughing at nothing. Sometimes they do that." Which of course made us start laughing!

As I said, it goes waaaaay back -

Even when we were in peril from un-anchored swing sets!

Our siblings did not always see the humor to the degree that we enjoyed...

Sometimes the picture taking ordeal took its toll on our jocularity, too though...
Or maybe the sugar rush from Easter Candy Before Sunday School had subsided...
Anyway, I really wanted to share these slides, so I used the magic of mythology -well, my Olympus camera (Roman? or Greek? I can never remember..)

I took digital photos of the images projected on the wall! Not the quality that mother aspired to by using slide film, but it works in a pinch!