Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 American-Italian epic Spaghetti western film starring Clint Eastwood. I'm not a fan of spaghetti westerns, but I have to admit that the plots often parallel some of life's greatest triumphs and tragedies.  Good triumphs over evil...payback is hell...etc. In fact, should Sergio Leone decide to make a "spaghetti drama" today, I would have just the material depicting slices of life in today's world. October (and it's not even over yet!) is a testament to my own personal Good, Bad and Ugly.

The Bad...my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Good? Well, if there is one, I'm not sure.  But I made her a cute Chemo hat.

More Bad...I backed into parked car with the hubby's truck. The Good? I Have Insurance.

More Good... watched the wee ones make sugar cookies.  Nothing bad about that!

The Bad...went to a craft fair.  It's been a long time since I have been to one, and I was saddened to see more of the same cheesy stuff you always see. Where's the innovation???  The Good?  I found this "stein" to take to a fun Oktoberfest party down the street!!

"Red Solo Cup"
More Good...went on a Sunday picnic in the wine country with friends.  Now that's always good!!

The REALLY good? Take along fresh apple pie!

The Ugly? No words are needed. I left my purse in the front seat. My Bad. Soccer Moms beware...they sit in wait in the school parking lot...watching your hustle and the distraction and chaos of getting your kid to the field...

The good in this? I have insurance. And I have a good bank who watches my accounts. Laurel 6...Thieves 0. The bad? Replacing all the cards, Gigi Hill wallet gone, no driver's license and two hours at DMV...

I am pretty glad that October is almost behind me.  It's been a roller coaster.  But in the end, I can say that even though the Bad and The Ugly were tough, there is still much to be thankful for...like photographing my granddaughter for her senior portrait, taking our good friends out to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, having fun with my knitting friends, reading a great book, enjoying a "Refuel" daily devotional series, watching "Upstairs, Downstairs" on PBS, getting my flu shot, celebrating another friend's 70th birthday, spending the day in Berkeley shopping at Stone Mountain and Daughter for fabric and many other blessings.

Life is a daily drama, but it's meant to be lived each day.  So I will not focus on the (*%*#@^*&^, but concentrate on enjoying today. After all...it's finally Fall, it's raining and I have firewood.

Laurel. Breathe...
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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Smile...

A smile is a wordless communication.  We smile at kittens, tiny babies, and yummy deserts.  We smile when we're happy, when we are in love and sometimes even when we are sad. We smile at irony, at brilliance and at moments of reflection.

Others see our smile and say that we are beautiful. Sadly, we never see it that way ourselves. When we gaze in the mirror at our smile, we see our face in reverse and we are accustomed to it's curves. So when we look at that same smile in a photograph, we are dismayed, disappointed and not entirely objective.  It looks weird to us, that curly upper lip...those little teeth...are my gums really that big?

In all the years that I have seen my reflection in the mirror, I have rarely liked any photos taken of my smile. I try to tweak my lips so that it doesn't look lopsided, or keep my lips closed, hiding my teeth...in short, I rarely like my pictures.

See what I mean....of course the hair treatments were a little shaky back then. Now you may be thinking "cute", but all I see is weird.

I had a portrait taken when I was a corporate officer and probably more than any other photo, I thought I looked pretty...but that crooked mile? It's mine forever...

My family genes are powerful. My sister and both look like our Mom.  My neice could be my daughter. And my daughter also has a few of my facial characteristics, as does her daughter. But even though I can see some tiny traces of myself in my granddaughter, hers is a smile to "launch a thousand ships", so to speak.This past weekend I got to photograph her for her Senior portrait.  These days, the senior picture is more casual and many of the kids opt for outdoor poses.

In the 127 frames I took, there is not one..not one...weird or crooked smile...perfect teeth, perfect gums, pretty lips, beautiful eyes, etc. etc. Yes...you're right...I sound a little nauseating going on and on, but the truth is, she was easy to photograph. Naturally beautiful. Confident. Assured.

And even though it's blurry and it will never be the one she chooses for her official portrait, this is my favorite...

Oh, that killer smile...hearts will be breaking tonight!
Laurel.  5 more granddaughters..maybe five more portraits? I'll need a tripod:)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rinsing out a few things...

One of the things I detested more than anything growing up was ironing clothes.  My dad was an Operating Engineer who drove heavy equipment to build roads.  He wore Khaki pants and shirts and in those days, the fabric was stiff and hard to iron. On the weekends, he donned cotton chambray shirts which were equally difficult to remove wrinkles. Also on my list of dreaded chores was hanging out wet clothes on the line. There were 5 kids in our family, so naturally this task was a daily grind. Hanging sheets was easy...they were big and didn't need many clothes pins.  However, socks and underwear were a different story, not to mention actually "touching" your brothers' shorts was creepy for a 10 year old.

me, before I could reach the clothesline...

Most of us like to keep our underwear to ourselves.  Men don't really have a thing for underwear, other than choosing the right "style", i.e. boxers, tidy whiteys, etc.  Women, on the other hand, are expected to own pretty underthings.  We spend billions of dollars every year on pretty lace bras and panties that never see the light of day. Some of us only bring out the man catchers for special occasions, opting for the sturdy, full body cotton comfort briefs for everyday.

I had a whole drawer of those cotton granny panties a few years back, but in a hysterical fit of ugly underwear enlightenment one morning I threw them all in the trash and promptly went shopping. $250 later, I had a whole drawer full of pretty little nothings.  Men, on the other hand, don't give a rip if the elastic band is only attached by a few threads or that they sport a few holes...it just isn't a big deal.

One of the interesting things I learned while traveling In Europe is that people don't seem to care who sees there underwear.  They hang them proudly on clotheslines over their windows, over their balcony rails, and even high above the narrow streets. Clothes dryers are a luxury in many families. Either that or their underthings are so expensive that air drying on the line is preferable.

This must be a man's house...

On one occasion during our travels, Dave and I sat leisurely drinking our wine in the Cinque Terra, gazing at the view of the surrounding city. The gentle breeze was a welcome escape after the 100 billion steps we climbed to get to the town itself.  Across the rooftops we caught a glimpse of undies drying on a second story apartment terrace.  Right at that very moment, the wind caught a pair of panties, ripping them off the rail.  They floated through the air for a second then landed precisely on the door jam of the apartment below.  And there they hung. Maybe it was the wine, but we were laughing so hard just thinking of the moment the neighbors decided to go outside!

(Bottom of the photo) They look like big white granny panties to me....

Not to be prudish, but if my undies were floating above the neighbor's door, I'd be horrified. But I'm thinking, we Americans may be way too hung up about our underwear. When you look at some of the young women today with their bras hanging out and their thongs creeping up above their low ride jeans, you may disagree. But all in all, you don't see a lot of clothes hanging out in the yards of suburbia. And truthfully, even though I love my LG dryer, I do rather miss the fresh smell of clothes dried in the country breeze...just have nowhere to put it.

Laurel. City dweller with Downey.

Sharing today with

Jenny Matlock
U is for underwear

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October is all about PINK....

Magpie Tales

Mag #138

Sick Woman, 1665, by Jan Steen

She is strong
She can fight
She will not let
her cancer win;
He is strong
He is there
He will hold her hand
while she fights;
They are strong
They have love
They have friends
to share their fight.
For Micki


Laurel.  No "tale" today...reality.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fit for a Queen...

...maybe a slight exaggeration, but nevertheless, the guest room at the Hacienda is much improved. I wanted to give it a cohesive, inviting look without spending an arm and leg on new bedding, lamps etc. The trick to redecorating on a budget is the take the items that you already have and add a few new things and/or re purpose the old ones.

For instance, I bought this antique brass bed from a dealer friend of my Mom's back in the late 60's.  It's actually the foot board for a bed, but I have used it as a headboard for years.  I was just about ready to junk it, as part of my new "personal divestiture" project (remember that I am getting rid of stuff I don't want or need anymore?).  However, if I junked it, then what would I use for the guest bed? So it stays.

Since the walls of the room are a nice soft sage green, I really didn't want to re-paint...not to mention I hate painting.  When we first moved into the Hacienda, this green was in my palette of colors used in the whole house, along with an aubergine, a terra cotta shade and a neutral tan. We have some touches of turquoise/blue (i.e.  a spattering of Mexican floor tiles and our iron entry gate), so I thought about just adding a soft blue to the room.

I have had blue and white ceramic accessories forever and I drag them out every once in a while when I'm feeling shabby chic. I added some dried lavender to the little jar for a restful feel.

I found these dried hydrangeas in the kitchen...looks like the perfect colors.

Hidden in my closets, I have artworks that I'm tired of...periodically I trade them out for a change in my decor.  This Asian watercolor on rice paper is really old, and I have almost junked it several times, but it looks like it might be nice in this room AND Bingo! It's blue!

I already had a sage green quilted coverlet, so I shopped around for some bedding accessories.  I got the shams at Home Goods for $10 on sale and the pillow at TJ Maxx for $15.

Bedding is so important in a guest room. I picked up some sheets while I was at Home Goods in a yummy pale blue.  They didn't have a good selection of bed skirts but I found one in the right hue at Target ($28).  I also wanted a soft throw for the top of the bed and I found this bargain at TJ Maxx...so cuddly and inviting and it was only $20...maybe a cup of tea and an afternoon nap here??

The Hacienda is in need of new carpeting in the three bedrooms...the wool Berber the previous owners put in is like iron, but when it gets soiled, it's tough to get clean.  New carpeting isn't on the horizon this Fall so I needed to improvise by drawing your eyes off the carpet - area rugs are the solution, and what better place to find some "reasonable" rugs than Lowe's.  I got three soft green shag area rugs for about $90.

I picked up some soft blue woven curtains at Target ($15) and hung them on the existing rod. The window previously had sheer sage green swags tied in a knot and loosely draped over the rod.  I cut one in two pieces and made hanging sheers for the center part of the window to give the room a soft glow.

The result of my guest room re-do was awesome.  I ended up with a very calm ambiance for not too much money.  I spent a little over $200 for the entire look. Lot's of running around, but well worth it, don't you think?

Ready for visitors:)

Laurel. Where's Kate???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ready for Fall?

I don't really care if it's going to be 96 degrees today, it's technically Fall and I'm going with it. To me, Fall begins in September when school USED TO start. When you live in the country, you walked to the end of the gravel driveway and waited for the school bus.  The mornings were crisp and smelled like dry grass and tar weed, over baked from the scorching summer sun. Some days, there was a mist hanging in the air against the hillside.  The spring garden by the fence was now home for sprawling weeds, overripe melons and tough skinned tomatoes. Morning oatmeal rebelled in your stomach as you waited.

Fall doesn't seem to last very long around here, probably because our autumns in the valley are more like Indian summers. The sun sets earlier but it stays warm. Before you know it, Thanksgiving dinner is just a memory and it's time to decorate for Christmas. But right now, it's already October and the annual houseboat trip is over, signalling the official beginning of  my Fall.

"Let's decorate", I say to myself. 

What can I do with this room? We have guests coming in a month and I hate it.  Bor-ing!

Okay, let's drag out the mulling spices for the stove...

Two trips to Goodwill so far...did I mention that I'm reinventing myself this Fall...
Less stuff, less clutter.

I finally went through my Victoria Magazine collection and purged the duplicates.
Wish I could find a home for these...

Wonder if Terry at
wants them????
Anyone??? Some date into the 1990's...
At least, Colette is ready for Fall.  I finished her poncho...a luscious Manos wool from Uruguay.  Gonna look great with jeans...if it ever starts to really act like Fall.
I noticed that my chrysanthemums are ready to burst...
And I have firewood on the side yard for the "non-particulate days"...
I'm ready...Fall where are you????
Laurel.  How 'bout you???

Monday, October 1, 2012

In Search of Walter...

A newly svelt Jane Fonda tries to get her cranky, crotchety movie star father to love her in some meaningful way and all he really cares about is Walter.  In the movie On Golden Pond, Walter is giant trout that eludes the fishing hook time and time again, despite the daily efforts of Norman (Henry Fonda) to catch the big one. He trolls out in his little motor boat, fishing poll beside him and sits for hours waiting for Walter.

Skip ahead to real life. Me on Shasta lake with my hubby, two-day license in hand, for my first ever fishing excursion. He's been trying to get me to go with him for years, but the 4:00 a.m./freezing cold/wigglyworm vibe just never struck a chord.

"Should I take my knitting?" I ask innocently.

He looks at me like I just asked him who he wants to win the Superbowl this year. He grabs a couple of Buds for the ice chest...I grab my stylish sun hat, some iced hibiscus tea and a little bottle of hand sanitizer. He laughs and starts the boat.

"Want to drive?" he asks. I had only driven the boat a few times, but since we were going to be on the lake for four days, I'm thinking I better start perfecting my boating skills, if I'm going to become a fisherwoman.

I have to admit, there was something magical about being on the lake as the sun was coming up. In fact, the whole experience changed my view of fishing.  I was pretty sure that "trolling" for trout and salmon would be a total boring drag...but alas, I was proven wrong.

My new best friend...a Lorance fish finder.
"Wait for it..."
Obviously, there's a trick to putting along at less than 2 mph,
watching for the shallow parts, watching for fish below and watching your pole at the same time.

I guess there's some rhyme or reason as to why you use a certain tackle...
but this one was pretty, so I thought I'd use it.

Okay, so I didn't rig my own tackle and I can tell you, I wasn't about to
bait my own hook...

He told me it would be fun, but it's a lot of waiting and watching...
I should have brought my knitting...

What was that...did I see that pole do that "dipping" thing????
"Yank it fast", he says.
"Bring in some line."
"Is he still on?"
"He's gonna start going crazy when you get him near the boat!"
"Hang on, let me get the net under him!"
(...me, squealing with delight...)

My first ever fish caught on a trolling line.
Now I'M HOOKED!!!!!

By the end of our "Three Hour Tour", I caught three more.

Beginner's luck...or just that Laurel "magic"???

Needless to say, by the second day, I am ready at dawn...
 Bud's in the cooler, sporting baseball hat and fishing attire and
on a mission to catch Walter.
I drive the boat, negotiating the shallow parts, bait my own hook...
I still can't "whack" them in the head to "put them out of their misery" (???)
But I'm a fisherwoman looking for Walter.

I know he's out there somewhere.

Laurel. I understand, honey. I get it.
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