24 December 2014

Twas the Night Before Christmas in Texas....

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the villa, 
Not a creature was stirring, not even the chinchilla.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with abandon, 
With hopes that "Santa" would soon be landin'.

The teens were lumped up snug in their beds
While visions of Kate Spade danced in their heads...
And I in my sleep mask, the hubs in his shorts
Had just settled in for a few snores and snorts.

When from up above there arose such a boom
O wait! That's just music coming from Boy's room.
Away to the stairs, yelling up to the top,
"We're trying to sleep! Please, please stop."

Outside, the moon shone on new fallen leaves, 
Filling the pool, the gutters, even the eaves.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear 
But the neighbors cats and our two fluffy dears. 

With a swish of the broom and a cry of Scat
I tried to round up our two darling brats.

In Mina, in Marley.
Come into the kitchen.
Scoot Tabby, 
Scoot Flabby! 
To the top of the fence and slipping away
Back where you came from, you wandering strays.

And then in a twinkling I heard the pipes shudder,
Someone was up, probably the brother. 
I gave up on sleep and turning around, 
Down the chimney came Saint Nicholas with a bound. 

O wait! I was dreaming!  But I went straight to work,
Filling the stockings yanked from the mantel with a frustrated jerk. 
Then running my fingers through the hair on my head, 
I shuffled myself back off to bed.

In the morning there will be presents and food galore,
The kids will exclaim "More, please! More! More!"

But for now it's quiet and all is just right.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. 

(My apologies to Clement C. Moore. 
I hope you have a wonderful holiday. )

16 December 2014

Karma, Milagros and Me

Karma, Miracles and Me....

Last Friday I was in a mood.  You know. A "woe is me" mood.   Needed things I couldn't find, wanted things I couldn't have. Maybe a little overwhelmed. Hohoho and the Christmas spirit. All that jazz.

In an attempt to put myself in a cheerier mood I drove through McDonald's for an iced tea and paid for the car behind me, too. A random act of kindness. Wasn't sure if it was going to make me feel better, but even if it didn't, I felt like it might bring some good karma.  You never know.

But I was still in a mood driving home.

And then! Milagros. Miracles.

These are milagro charms.

For real.

There was a huge box on the back porch from my friend Cathy and inside was a Christmas tree. And for the tree- milagros.
Milagro means miracle. It also means a little charm used as religious offerings, mostly in Latin American countries.
So little milagro charms hung all over this wonderful little tree.  It was beautiful and special and completely and totally unexpected. It was such a treat it made me cry. In a good way.


Saturday morning I woke to this email:

"It was great to meet you last weekend at the market in Denver! Congratulations!  You won the pair of earrings!  Just let me know where to send them and I'll get them in the mail. Thank you!!"

Now I enter little give-aways online all the time. I'll stick my name in a jar if there is something I'd like to win.  But do I ever win? Do you? 
I don't.   
But the week before in Denver I wrote my name on a slip of paper and Lo! and Behold! I won some earrings. Fabulous earrings at that. 

Very fun earrings from Aaron Sault Jewelry.
Check out his work. 
Original. Organic. Very cool.


Sunday was my birthday.

I woke up to *snow*.  The first snow of December. 

A dusting of snow.
And the link to the video if you can't see it here. 

I worked, by choice. Why not? I like working.

It was a bit slow but one of the regulars came in and we chatted and I mentioned it was my birthday.
When he left, he said he might stop back by later, before we closed, but that's not unusual. Some people come in twice a day.

And ten minutes to closing here comes this nice gentleman back in the front door with a big box under his arm. It looked like a toy box.  
And he announced "Here is your birthday concert. These guys are going to serenade you. Unfortunately they don't know Happy Birthday but they do know lots of Christmas songs."

Isn't this adorable?

The Birthday Concert
And if, by chance, you can't see this video, click here.
Sorry it's a little blurry.

Totally made me smile.

I came home to presents and cards and flowers and lots of little treats.

Then Bunny and her friend boy took me to dinner. And the restaurant staff sang "Happy Birthday" to me in a wonderfully embarrassing way. (Thank goodness it was early and the restaurant was pretty empty.)

Absolutely a wonderful birthday from start to finish.

So was it all just coincidence?
A milagro?

Who knows?
Who cares?

But just in case, I think I'll stick with those random acts of kindness.


And a poem, given to me by my friend Cherrilla one Christmas probably 37 years ago.
Apparently I've been prone to these moods for a while.
It's copyrighted 1907 but it still holds true some days.

Nobody Cares For Me

I'm just as mad as I can be
For nobody cares for me.

I slapped the cat and banged the dog 
And they don't care for me.

I stubbed my toe on a great hard rock
And jammed my thumb in the door.

But nobody seemed to see
For nobody cares for me. 

Written by M.T. Sheahan.

Sums up those moods pretty nicely.


I'm traveling at the end of the week.

On Sunday night, the Winter Solstice, there will be a little party so I can see some neighbor friends.
That's No. 31: Have a Solstice Party.

And then there will be Christmas and family and more travel.

Posting may be random. 

But I'm thinking about all of you. 

Merry Christmas.

11 December 2014

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Because this is a blog and because I have nothing else for today, I will do what all bloggers do in December. (Unless they are better organized, then they do it in November!) I'm sharing the Christmas decor from around the cabin.

Not much this year, guess I haven't been feeling the spirit yet. I wanted to do a pine cone garland again but for some reason the pine cones are just now falling. Not sure what the delay was. And we have not had snow in December. A couple of little snows in November got me thinking that maybe this winter would be like last: snowy. But so far, I think that was just a tease.  Not to worry. I know the snow is coming.

Mostly I decorate the fireplace because a) it could use some decorating- it has the oddest proportions! and b) there just aren't many other surfaces to decorate. The cabin has a tiny living space.  The living/dining area measures 18 feet by 12 feet. My bedroom is bigger than that.

And doesn't this look cozy?

A fire in the pellet stove.
Stockings hung by the mantel with care. 
(That crazy sun making it impossible to take decent pics.)

And some detail pics:

 Love these stockings. They reverse to "Nice".
Antlers make great stocking hangers.

 So do geodes. 
Last spring when the Big Guy was up, he went rock hunting with the neighbor.
Beautiful rocks now decorate every flat surface in the cabin.

My gorgeous Nativity scene.
In Salida there is the Holiday House. 
It is a non profit that accepts donations of gently used holiday items.
They then offer these items on a "whatever it is worth to you" basis.
I took a wicker light up Christmas tree in to donate and came home with this nativity.

The outdoor animals get in on the act.

Kaiser the carved bear wears a bow.

So does the unnamed reindeer.
(Again, that pesky sun, hard to get a pic. 
On this side of the house it is either bearing down or totally shaded.)

Reusing the frames from Halloween:

A little "Joy" on a ledge.

And last but not least, the Christmas tree!   Straight out of "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

 Many many thanks to my neighbor Sue for sending me this tree.
I was complaining mentioning that there was no room for a tree here and she had just the solution.
In the foreground you see the Thanksgiving puzzle, almost finished. 
One piece left,  waiting for Bunny to get home and do the honors. 
I will be so happy to get that thing off the only table in the house.

Outside I have the Christmas trees in the yard wrapped with lights. The neighbor and I wrapped them last year and because the trees are in "cages" to protect them from deer, I just left the lights up. All year. I was holding my breath when I plugged them in again in November. Amazingly, all the lights came on. A tiny Christmas miracle.

This pic is from last year.
One of my favorites.
The lights look the same this year, only NO snow. 
Bah humbug.

Happy Holidays to all.


And I have to share.
Yesterday Carlos and I were walking down by the Arkansas River. There was a young American Bald Eagle fishing for his breakfast. We walked down hoping to get a closer look and he flapped off. I thought we had missed him but then I looked up. Always look up! He was perched in a tree about 25 feet away, preening. 
So incredibly awesome. 
Of course, my camera and phone were both safely tucked away at home. 
We will go back looking for him.  With a camera. 

08 December 2014

No. 14 Again and No. 60 Finally.

 No.14 Again... and No. 60 Done. 
(but mostly just where I begin the birthday celebrating...)

No. 14: Go to the Nutcracker Market was the very first challenge I completed.

It was a great Christmas market with lots of interesting stuff but I expected a bit more in the way of hand made products, not quite so many imports.  But I had never been before and it was definitely worth it.

 So when my friend Cherrilla sent me an email titled : 35 Indie Craft Fairs Every Creative Person Needs To Visit....well, what was I supposed to do? Ignore it?  I think not. 

I went through all of the dates/locales and lo and behold! one of them was in Denver. That's just right around the corner. (Sort of.)  And I already had plans to go up and visit my friend Diana that weekend.

So plans were made and off we went. (Bunny and I - she wanted to see the friend boy.)

We made a total weekend of it and why not? My birthday is next week and friend Diana's is two days after mine.   So we both celebrated a little early.

Friday night was the Parade of Lights in downtown Denver and we did a parade like you're supposed to- with a little kid in tow.   Diana's little great nephew came with us. Diana and I both have raised kids, we figured we could handle one three year old for a parade. Ha! Bunny and her friend came and saved our butts. Nothing like two teenagers to entertain a three year old when you have to wait over an hour for the parade to begin.

 Aren't the lights beautiful? 
Like stars.

 A giant white tiger balloon.

 A toy float.

 Samoyeds wearing lights. 

 A twinkling gingerbread house/float.

 And a twinkling marching band!

 Look at the mane on that horse.

 Three year old and friend- sharing Pez, not a drug deal. 

And at the end of the parade- a giant penguin balloon. 

There were floats and balloons and fire jugglers along with horses and dogs and high school bands, all decorated with lights.  The weather was above freezing. The friend boy had never seen a big city parade. The little boy had never seen a parade at all.  All in all, a pretty perfect night.

Saturday we went to Georgetown to see the Christmas Market. Again, perfect weather and a lovely day.

 The movie "The Christmas Gift" was filmed in Georgetown. 
It starred John Denver and this taxi cab.
(And yes, this is absolutely the worst pic ever.  Of me. The cab looks pretty good.) 

A wonderful little mountain town with buildings dating from around the 1860s, 
decorated for Christmas.

I confess these guys were the highlight of the day.
Aren't they just little nuggets? 

The Christmas market wasn't very Christmas-y but the little town was adorable and we saw mountain goats on the drive there.

Saturday night Pam from Simple Details stopped by for a quick visit. She's another December birthday.  The Sagittarius ladies were ruling Denver over the weekend!

Then dinner was devoured at Hillstone's Restaurant. I'm counting this as #5 for No. 60: Hit five restaurants in Houston that I have never been to before. We eat out all the time but always end up at the same places. Time to branch out.  

Hillstone:  Snazzy restaurant in the Cherry Creek area of Denver. 

Even though Hillstone isn't in Houston, it was definitely a new restaurant and it was definitely branching out. And I haven't been in Houston for a while to complete No. 60, so there's that.  I said in the beginning I could bend the rules and I have and I will.
I had a beautiful birthday trout accompanied by a couple of India Pale Ales.  Branching out in the beer department has been another challenge- although not one on the list. Also I got to dress up and wear heels! Woohoo!

Sunday was the main event. After taking Bunny and friend to breakfast (At Snooze, another new restaurant for me. One that required a one hour wait. For breakfast. ) Diana and I headed off to the RiNo (River North) art district for the Firefly Handmade Market. And it lived up to its name.

A cool little event center in a very cool, up and coming part of town.

Beautiful handmade items, delicate jewelry, artisan soaps, jams and sauces, and fun printed items.

There are some very very creative people out there. The market was inspiring. Possibly a few Christmas presents were purchased.

And I didn't take a single picture because they had that "No Photos Please" rule. (O! Or maybe because I was lazy. Or see above about presents that are supposed to be surprises.)

So while I didn't really complete anything new, I am crossing off No. 60 for good and counting No. 14 as done twice. And I got a start on celebrating my birthday. I have always envied, admired and wanted to emulate the people who manage to spread their birthday celebrations out over an entire month. I truly think that is something to aspire to.

Maybe next year!
Maybe a new challenge???

(And did you notice? Not one single photo of me and Diana together. That should be another challenge. I never seem to get pics taken with my friends. Need to master the art of the selfie or at least learn to hand my phone/camera/iPad to someone to snap...)

03 December 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear????

Do You Hear What I Hear ????  
An Exercise in Listening

One of my favorite blogs, Hollywood Housewife, has been on a challenge a month for 2014. Each month she challenges herself to really do ONE thing and do it well. It's a concept I like. Haven't tried it, but I like it in theory.

The Hollywood Housewife. 
She's originally from Oklahoma which makes me wonder.
What is it about Oklahoma that breeds these great bloggers? 

Anyway, her November challenge to herself was to listen. Just listen. That's all. Not throw in her perspective. Not share what happened to her. Just listen. It's a hard thing for most of us to do. We want to share. We want to hear ourselves talk. We want to throw in how the same thing happened to us.

And of course she found it hard (that's why it's called a challenge) but overall it was worth it and enlightening and all those good things that should come from completing a challenge.

Which got me to thinking about Bunny and her new job. She is a waitress at a sports bar and she told me one night that a guy came in and mentioned his cat had died. This was right after our Maxy Cat had passed away and I asked if she had shared that with him. She said No. In training they were taught to not share. People don't want to hear about her, they want to be heard. Which is very true and also probably why she does very well in tips. And why the chain she works for is very successful.

Sweet Maxy Cat.
May he rest in peace.

And then I started my new job which also came with the same policy. Listen.  No need to share, outdo, or one up the customer. Please don't share opinions on religion, the government, politics of any kind, or anything else beyond the weather.

Of course, people ask questions and conversations get started but I'm working hard at remembering to listen, not talk.

It's a challenge but it is also great training.

Because part of my job is being a barista.

And if you walk into Starbucks or wherever you regularly get your caffeine fix, what do you do? Probably the same thing I do.
Rattle off your request mindlessly in one breath.
"A largenonfatvanillalattewithsoymilk, please."
Or something along those lines.
So I am learning to really concentrate on the response to "what can I get you?"
Because honestly, the first few times I asked that, I was still on "large" while the customer was getting out their money and looking expectantly at me for their drink.

All those coffee options...
please order slowly. 

Can you hear what I hear?

01 December 2014

Sixty Sixty Sixty

Before Sixty....

Last week I had some comments from another blogger with a "by Sixty" mindset.

That got me to thinking....how many blogs are out there with challenges for those of us facing sixty?

Hard to say but I found a few.

Project Sixty is written by Stephen Bowden and his goal is "to get back to competitive running after a 20 year break and to break a few local records for my age group and to continue when I am 60+".   As far as I can tell he has been working out a lot and working hard and running. Lots of running. Also, looks like he lives across the big pond.  I think that is the best thing about blogging: people from all over the world. 

Mr. Bowden (I presume),pic from his blog, run, run. running.

Then there is Sixty By Sixty, a blog dedicated to one woman's goal of playing "sixty pipe organs before I turn sixty". It appears she's an accidental church organist, but once she got started she decided to challenge herself. She gave herself 30 months to play 60 organs- so two different organs a month. Looks like she completed her task this past summer. 

A beautiful and impressive organ.
Pic from 60 by 60.

And how about Ski Sixty for Sixty?   A ten year plan for one woman, Camille from New York,  to ski sixty new (to her) ski areas. Started in 2009, looks like she is about half way done.  What a great excuse to travel if nothing else. And stay in shape. 

One of Ski Sixty for Sixty's destinations.
Again, pic from her blog

Sixty Before Sixty, by Really Rosiem, started January 2012 and she gave herself six months to do sixty hikes. Yikes!!  That's ambitious. And she did it. And kept on going. Her blog goes through October 2013 and she completed 165 hikes in that time. One Hundred Sixty Five! Talk about over achieving!

This is one of the pics from her Red Rock Canyon hike in Colorado Springs. 
I may need to check this place out. Looks gorgeous. 

And then I clicked on Sixty Years of Challenge. I'm not providing a link. It was a porn site. O Yay.
So I had to wipe out my computer history and "force quit" Safari and erase cookies. Because it would NOT go away with a simple X. 

With that I quit looking. 

But it makes me so happy to know that all over the world there are people who are refusing to "go gentle into that good night"*.   Who see getting older as an opportunity to start something new, learn something new, begin something new. 

In two weeks I turn 59.   That number astounds me. I confess it sounds old. Really old. I've been looking at the remaining challenges on my list. I may change a couple of them as they don't seem as interesting now as they did two years ago. I gave myself permission in the beginning to do that, so it's all okay. I've already thrown in a couple of "bonus" challenges and I've expanded on a couple of completed challenges. 

This weekend I am going to two big Christmas fairs in/near Denver. I consider that an extension of No. 14: Go to the Nutcracker Market.

The Nutcracker Market in Houston, 2012.

And I am trying to do one random act of kindness a day for the month of December. That would be an extension of No. 47: Pay for Someone Else's Coffee/Meal/Toll.  I started with a care package to my Big Guy. But I'm not going to make them all monetary. It can be as easy as a compliment, holding a door, letting someone else go in front of me at the grocery store. Something to get me into the spirit of the season. 

Join me. 


* Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night  by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.