Saturday, December 29, 2007

Toot! Toot! - Friday 12/28/2007

Yes, that's the familiar "toot" of my own horn you're hearing.

I wasn't sure if this was actually going to happen this year, but I received my contributor's copies of Weber: the Contemporary West in the mail yesterday!

Yes, you read that right. Contributor's copies! My personal essay "It Ain't Las Vegas," about life, nature and development in my area, and four or five of my photographs appear in the Fall 2007 (24:1) issue. You can get a copy through their submission page. I think they lag by about 1 issue in putting the content online, which makes sense.

This is a really nice way to end the year.

I decided to start sending out my photos at the beginning of 2007 and I placed them in 4 of the 5 publications I sent them to (Agua Dulce/Acton Country Journal, The Houston Literary Review, Raving Dove, and now Weber.)

It feels just wonderful to end the year with some credits under my belt!

And I thought Wednesday was a frabjous day!

Friday, December 28, 2007

No Pix of Pasadena, Redux - Thursday 12/27/2007

I seem to have some sort of mental block about taking my camera with me to Pasadena. This happened last time I was there, too. In lieu of shots of Vroman's and Tomasina's house, here are some photos taken at my house after I got home.

This is my current writing notebook--in which I write fiction, creative nonfiction and your basic self-involved journal entries--against a backdrop of the breathtakingly lovely vintage hand-stitched tablecloth (and matching napkins) that Braveheart gave me for Christmas (along with other treats.)

Since we were all off work, my writing group (now just Braveheart, Tomasina and I) met at Tomasina's house in Pasadena. The day was planned to last from 10-3, but we ended up being there till six! It was nice to just move from one thing to another and do all the things we wanted to do.

We talked about our writing since the last time we met; lunched on Tomasina's delish turkey chili (I WANT that recipe, T!) and lots of leftovers, cookies and candies; read to each other from our current projects; opened presents; took Tomasina's dogs for a walk; wrote together for 40 minutes; read that to each other, and then set the date for our next meeting and made commitments for the work we'll do by then.

I am known for having the fastest jammies in the West. I can get into my pajamas within mere seconds of coming through the front door.

Hence the pantlegs in this shot of the amazing bottle of olive oil Tomasina gave me for Christmas (along with other treats.) It will remain to be seen if we can hold off till we have guests to share this with before we crack this open and try it.

Great day.

Somebody please remind me to ask Tomasina how to get to the 210 West from her house next time. I lucked out with the inter-holiday light traffic, but I don't expect that'll always hold true.

O Frabjous Day! - Wednesday 12/26/2007

Callooh! Callay! She chortled in her joy.

One of the happy outcomes of my gallbladder surgery earlier this year is that I can now drink coffee again whenever I want!

I will never throw over my beloved teas, but it's wonderful to be able to say "yes!" when Hydra asks if I'd like a cuppa joe, java, mud, devil's brew.

I mean, coffee houses have been an important part of my life since I first found The Blue Mountain Coffee Company in Fort Wayne, IN during my first year of college. Hydra and I started sharing a table and the rest is history. I even worked there for four years. Coffee houses and diners are my second home, anywhere in the world.

As perfect as a pot of tea is as a writing companion, it's just wrong to sink a Hershey's Mint Truffle Kiss into an estate grown Assam or a winey Keemun.

But it is damn fine in Starbuck's Christmas Blend.

Christmas Day 2007

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!

You can't really see them in this light, but we switched to lower-energy-use LED lights on the tree this year.

We had a great Christmas. Hydra woke up at 3:15 and there was no more sleep to be had. We opened packages that had arrived from people in other states, and a couple from each other. Did a little prep for dinner, set the table, etc. Most of the prep was done the day before.

The cousins arrived from Orange and Riverside counties around 11:00 and we broke out the Mimosas and the-- Let's call them Pimosas. Champagne and peach juice cocktails, for a change. Appetizers: homemade shrimp spread, cheeses, crackers, TJ's Sun dried tomato/pesto torta, kalamata olives, nuts.

Opened gifties from one another. Lots of goodies!

Dinner was pork tenderloin roasted with garlic, rosemary and sage; P's killer mashed potatoes, V's delish spinach pear and Gorgonzola salad, apple-sage stuffing, shaved Brussels sprouts with bacon.

Now the birdhouses I painted (but did not build) can be revealed. I had a lot of fun with these. Ended up doing two more. Green and another pink/lavender in another shape.

After dinner we drove over to Shambala for the traditional viewing of the lions. Okay, it's not a tradition yet, but it may be... It's only about 7 miles from us. This guy was in an enclosure near the road.

This big fellah huffed and puffed for us from down in the canyon. We just stopped along the road to look in.

Back to the house for apple pie and mincemeat pie, and tea. Everyone stayed till about dusk.

We felt really good about the day. And I have to admit, it was nice not to have to drive anywhere!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Avian Christmas Eve - Sunday 12/24/2007

I have had this pie bird for years and finally used it!

It's an old-fashioned tool to vent the steam from the crust (which this didn't really need, because there is a hole in the crust that is kind of gaping.)

I made this from an apple pie kit that Dana's boss and his wife gave us for Christmas. Forgot to even try to make a decorative edging on the crust, but I did cut little leaves out of extra dough and put those on.

Okay, sad to say, although Dodger had vowed to remain uncute on the Internet for the duration of the WGA strike, he couldn't help himself. He committed this random act of cuteness and I...well, I accidentally videotaped it. And then I tripped while carrying my laptop, and it ended up on YouTube. Sorry, WGA.

His original YouTube appearance, not being cute in response to the video Sorry, Internet, has been viewed 1,339 times since it was posted three weeks ago!

Wrapping Up Christmas - Sunday 12/23/2007

Our tree-topping Santa. We like him.

I picked up these reusable totes at Target for less than the cost of a lot of the gift bags they sell. Perfect for oddly sized gifts, and good for the environment, too!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Peachwood - Saturday 12/22/2007

We went to Blum Ranch, which we can see from our place across the valley, to pick up a quarter cord of firewood for Cousin M. Isn't this house great?

With the help of one of the family (Ray Billet himself??) we unloaded one of these bins into the back of our Tahoe. It was a great day for it, cool enough that it was nice to have the activity warm us up. We joked as we stacked wood.

We chose the cleaner peach wood limbs rather than the split logs from trees that had partly burned in the fire of 2004. $40 for a quarter cord. This is a really good deal. Other places around here are charging $205-250 for a cord. (Do the math; it's good for you.)

Close up of the water tower. I would love to roam around here taking pictures one day.

Back at our own little homestead, we moved things around in the garage and stacked the peach wood under the window. This pile is about 4x4x2.

I called and left a message with Cousin M, telling him that our fee for moving this wood two--no, that'll be three--times (eventually into the back of his Explorer) is an armload of wood.

Mr. Billet said that it smells good when it burns and I'm more than curious.

Fruitful Friday - 12/21/2007

Whoo! Festive, huh?

Why don't I ever think to take a "before" picture?

Maybe because they tend to be kind of humiliating.

I am forced to admit that I might have a slight compulsion about saving paper and plastic bags and glass jars. It was like ankle deep in here when I started. Naively, I thought it would take about 2 hours to clean up.

Har dee har har har. Six--count 'em--six hours later, viola! No jars that have no lids, no lids that have no jars. No boxes full of bags. Just a renewed conviction to not mindlessly accept the paper and plastic our friends the cashiers want to give us.

Outside the pantry door things are a little more jolly. If we've received your card, it's here! Thanks so much for helping us decorate.

My cousin Bells, reminded me that our grandma put cards up on the inside of her front door. My mom did this too. I guess I've always done it. Except that we have a big leaded glass window in the front door, so I wrap the pantry door with gold paper and tape the cards on that.

I had a very productive day. Wrote just a tiny bit in the early a.m., completed two more hand made gifts, and started two more. Yay!

Christmas/Birthday Tea - Thursday 12/20/2007

Yeah, it would have been nice if I'd thought to take a photograph of this before I and my coworkers descended upon it like hyenas on voles.

Wow, was the food at The T Room in Montrose great! Most of us ordered the traditional tea and you could substitute other sandwiches from the menu. Mmm. The Lingonberry Chicken was surprisingly good. Watercress & cucumber may have been my favorite, with the Olivade coming in a close second.

Big pots of tea--we ordered the Noel blend and the Russian blend--on the table. Happiness. We celebrated Christmas and Momalisa's birthday. Food was wonderful, service was slow for our party of eight. It took about 20 minutes before they even brought us the tea, which came when the sandwiches and scones were ready.

My only food complaint was the fruitcake style candied fruit in the scones. I mean, yuck.

Everyone rose above the ominous fact that this is our last meal together for the foreseeable future. We will be working on kind of an on-call basis in January, a day or two a week maybe. I don't want to write about it.

The top of the Christmas tree, which everyone encouraged me to get a shot of... Scarily over-decorated for my taste.

Weens exhibits the classic tea room decorum one would expect of a lady. We're so proud!

[Hey, she reads this blog. She knew the risk she was taking!]

Looking up Honolulu Avenue from outside the T Room. Didn't get any good pix of the outside of the T Room. It's not terribly photogenic.

Weens pointed out this angel down the street, in front of an art gallery.

We went back to the office and opened our Secret Santa gifts from each other, and our gifts from the owners. Lovely cashmere scarves, all different colors. So soft and lovely.

I'm sleeping in mine.