Sunday, December 31, 2017

On the Eve of a New Year

As the sun sets on another year....
.......Peace. Love. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Photographic Review of 2017

January 31, Channel 13 used another one of my sunset photos during the weather segment.

The sunset on February 14 seemed to me perfect for St.Valentine's Day.


Great-granddaughter Brynley Marie was born March 13, making the count two great-granddaughters, six great-grandsons.

Spring storms began popping up, making for some dramatic photos.

I met Brynley in person and had my picture taken with my two great-granddaughters; Lily and Brynley.

I spent a perfect June afternoon in Adams County exploring dirt roads and taking lots of photos.

July had many good times, celebrating Ayden & Greyson's birthdays and the 4th at Preston & Shalea's in Winterset, having our third annual Christmas in July at Alyssa & Evan's in Northern Iowa, but the highlight had to be having my niece, Lorrie, and her family visit us a couple of times while they were in Iowa to see her Dad. It had been seven years since I last saw them. The twins, Aiden & Erick and Carston had grown so much. It was wonderful to see them all.

On the 17th, our friend Kristina, along with her Bobby, stayed on their way to Wisconsin. It had been at least two years since we last saw them. Again, a wonderful visit with a dear friend.

Three days later, on the 20th, grandson Devin came to see us. He had been in National Guard training for six months. It was so good to have him back in Iowa.

My little younger brother, Les, was back for his 45th high school class reunion. So he and I and our older brother, Ron, had lunch and spent some time together - the first the three of us had all been together in seven years.

Daughter Kari was back in the Midwest to visit friends in the Kansas City area, so we met up with them the weekend of the 18th, in the charming town of Weston. A fun weekend!

Ten days later we were in Polk City for a baby shower for the aunt of these four great-grandsons. The two great-granddaughters were there, also, just not all in the same photo. Many of my 'high-lights' seem to center around family. (No surprise there.)

Another full month, celebrating our anniversary & our birthdays with a day in the City; then Thanksgiving with family in Winterset. On the date of his birthday, the 20th, Bud requested 'breakfast' for his birthday lunch.

Even though we celebrate our family Christmas in July, we still had several visits from family members this month - granddaughter Deise and her boyfriend, Trevor one evening.

Granddaughter Katrina and great-granddaughter Brynley the next day.

And son, Douglas and daughter-in-law Shelly for Festivus on the 23rd.

On Christmas Eve we had our first of the season, measurable snow fall - one of the latest on record.

Earlier in 2017, I received some old photos from a former sister-in-law. In them was this one of me on New Year's Eve in 1965. A 52-year throw back on this (almost) New Year's Eve.

On January 1, I posted that I wouldn't speculate about what 2017 would bring, that I would just continue to enjoy what Mother Nature brought me - the clouds, the birds, sunsets and sunrises and the moon. From all the pictures I have taken this year, I can readily tell that I did just that. And family; always family.

Friday, December 29, 2017

December Book Report

The book I'm reading is more than 700 pages, so no way will I have it done by the 31st. So we'll go ahead with the six books I read in December (the fewest of any month this year).

At The Edge Of The Orchard by Tracy Chevalier is set in Northwest Ohio in 1838. Settlers from New England bring starts of apple trees from home but also get seedlings from John Chapman, aka, Johnny Appleseed. To prove their land claim, they must have 50 apple trees producing within three years. This story was not only about the problems they faced, it was also about one of the sons who found his way to California and worked to pack seeds and seedlings of the Redwoods and Sequoias and ship them to England.

The General's Women by Susan Wittig Albert. I was already acquainted with this author from some of her light mysteries series. This is the first time I've read any of her more serious books. I really enjoyed reading about Eisenhower during WWII and the young Irish woman, Kay Summersby, who was his driver and alleged paramour. Albert does a good job of fleshing out the rumours using letters, memoirs and reports from the time. Ike was the first president that I have strong memories of.

Thomas Jefferson And The Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is the history of the early 1800's Barbary War, which is where the line from the Marine Hymn, "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" comes from. If I ever knew anything about this war, I had forgotten it. The book was interesting, but not great.

In The Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende - an appropriate book for this month. Three people brought together during a snowstorm in present day Brooklyn, NY. Their stories harken back to the turmoils in South and Central America during the 1970's. A very good read with a great twist at the end. I've read some of Allende before and now plan to go back and read some of her books that I haven't read.

Hold Tight the Thread by Jane Kirkpatrick is the third in her Tender Ties Historical Series. Had I realized that I might not have bought it at the Friends of the Library book sale - reading the first two in the series would probably have helped tie this third one in. Having said that, I still liked reading about the early settlement of Oregon. The main character, Marie Dorion, a Native American from the Ioway Tribe, is the only woman in the overland Pacific Fur Company expedition of 1810 sent to establish a post at Astoria. She and her third husband, a French Canadian, along with her and their children, then settle in the Willamette River Valley. I do enjoy historical fiction based on real people.

Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford is the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I do like biographies and should read more of them. I especially enjoyed reading about this poet and all the others mentioned with whom she associated. Millay had a harrowing childhood. As the eldest, she had to care for her younger sisters after their parents divorced and the mother was often absent doing private duty nursing.
I always assumed that St. Vincent was a family name, but her father named her after the hospital where his younger brother's life was saved. Millay was known as Vincent most of her life. Milford is also the writer of another of my favorite biographies, Zelda. Her next book is to be about Rose Kennedy - another one I hope to read.

To wrap up my reading year, I read a total of 112 books. This was my lightest reading month, with six books; March was my heaviest, with 16 books read.
For the year, my two favorite reads this year were Lockdown by Laurie R. King and Nina George's The Little French Bistro. I hope both these authors have new books coming out in the new year. Happy reading!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

MCCC - Another Milestone

I posted blogspots much more regularly the last half of 2017 which helped get me to another significant number of posts - MCCC, or, as we write it - 1300.
I've been trying to think of anything that I personally relate to 1300. I've never had it as part of my address in any of the many places I've lived. The closest would be 1242 when I lived in Cedar Rapids.
There are a number of 1300 AM Radio stations - but again, none that I remember listening to.

There are a number of foreign autos with model numbers '1300' -

The Romanian Dacia 1300.

The French Simca 1300.

The Italian Fiat 1300.

And the British Morris 1300.

Of the four, I'd have to choose the Morris, but only because I remember reading a book set in England when I was young and a Morris car was featured in the story. After that, I always thought it would be a neat car to have.

New Balance makes a 1300 women's walking shoe, which I definitely would wear.

And Pelican makes a tough, water proof, hard case for cameras, model 1300. Um-m, don't think I need that.

Then there is the Millennium Falcon 1300 light freighter used by Han Solo and Chewbacca in Star Wars. I haven't kept up on all the Star Wars movies, but I certainly remember seeing the first one.

So, now, as I hit 'publish' on this 1300th blog post, I can begin to think about the two or three posts which will end 2017 and wonder what lies ahead in 2018.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Diamond Christmas

It is my diamond Christmas - not to be confused with a Christmas diamond. Though, perhaps if I had thought of it soon enough....Ha! Seventy five years ago today was my first Christmas - not that I remember it. I was one month and one week old.
Now, because we have our family Christmas gathering in July, today is just another day. But we did have Festivus on Saturday.

The swifter mop had to stand in for the Festivus pole. It's the only aluminum pole I had.

Doug and Shelly came for a Festivus lunch. It looks like Doug is 'airing his grievances' with the pole. Or maybe that is his 'feat of strength'.

I forgot to take pictures before we ate, but remembered in time for our tea and cookies. Shelly brought a plate of the ones she had made. Quite an assortment, but my favorites were the margarita cookies. So good! There wasn't any tequila in these, but you can make them that way. The salty-sweet lime flavor was super.

They weren't supposed to bring any gifts, but Dougie brought his mommie a couple pairs of socks. Not something I would buy for myself, but aren't they pretty? I guess he thought I needed some color in my winter. 💖🙂

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

First (Measurable) Snow

We have this season's first measurable snow.

Just in time for a white Christmas.

This is the second latest date on record for the first snow in our area.
Those little red cedars in the fence line remind me of the ones we used to cut in the pasture or along the road side for our Christmas trees. No boughten ones for us poor folk.

Some little critter made tracks all the way around this clear area on the pond.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. We reportedly had three inches.

The sun is out now. The snow is over. But it will stick around for awhile as we are to have several days of cold.

This morning's CBS Sunday Morning 'Moment of Nature' was from Pawtuxet River Valley in Rhode Island. I said, "I wish I could take pictures like that." So I did.....

....of the TV screen. Snow clouds obliterated any sunrise here.

Another screen shot. So pretty and peaceful.

This might be the favorite shot I took this morning. It reminds me of Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening - "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Friday, December 22, 2017

At The Touch Of You

At The Touch Of You

"At the touch of you,
As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
The arrows of delight shot through my body.

You were spring,
And I the edge of a cliff,
And a shining waterfall rushed over me."
    (Witter Bynner, 1881-1968)

[Smith Falls, Niobrara River, Valentine, Nebraska]

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice 2017

Sunset photos at this time of year are obstructed by trees - but not as blocked as before the leaves fell. The sun is as far south as it is going to be - time to start back north - the return to longer days. (Solstice Eve sunset.)

This is as clear as the view is. The sky was overcast this morning, so no Solstice sunrise for me. The temperature was very mild (40°) when I got up, but it is to drop all day with chances of rain, possibly freezing rain, possibly turning to snow. By evening we will feel that winter has arrived.

Dark  -- Light
Day  -- Night
Autumn -- Winter
Winter -- Spring

The wheel turns
A new year begins

                      Happy Winter Solstice

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Better To Give Than Receive

How old was I when I began to understand what my mother tried to tell me - that it was better to give than receive? Oh, I understood the concept, but being a child at Christmas, it was all about what presents I would get. It was probably around the time this photo was taken in 1954 because I definitely remember being more concerned about my little brother liking the gift I gave him than worrying about what I received. (I was originally in this photo, but for some reason, cut myself out which is what the white lower left corner is about.)

So, I was around eleven when the joy of giving began impacting my life. It really was fun to give and receive the good feelings that came from giving - from thinking of others first and finding just the right gift for them.

Did I know Mom's saying came from the Bible? (Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than receive.") Probably not.

Which brings me to what I'm pondering today: How does our President and most of Congress, the very ones who consider themselves in the moral majority, justify the tax bill they're getting ready to pass? Why is it more important to them to further enrich themselves than it is to help the poor and middle class who really need help?

I'm flummoxed. I guess they never took to heart what they (should have) learned as children.

Friday, December 15, 2017

We've Got An Old Love

One of my favorite songs that my son-in-law sings in performances is Neal Hagberd and Loretta Peak's

We've Got An Old Love.

I met you underneath the willow
We were young, a little shy
But we would sit and talk for hours
Watch the river flowing by
You would laugh at all my stories
Then at dusk I'd walk you home
Who'd have guessed we'd walk a lifetime
Growing up and growing old.

We've got an Old Love
One we never will get tired of
One that fits us like an old glove 
One to warm the winter days 
We don't have to say "I love you" 
Quite as often as we used to 
Old Love just goes without saying 
But we still say it anyway.

We may not leave this town we live in
And life's not as easy as we planned
I always meant to give you diamonds
But you still wear a plain gold band
That old river keeps on rollin'
And we don't know just what's in store
But in spite of all of this
I don't love you like I did
Oh, I love you so much more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Blue & Pink (Not A Baby Post)

I'm feeling blue because I'm not in the pink*. Not having a post yesterday spoiled my almost six month perfect record. I was laid low by a stomach virus or food poisoning or? So, while feeling better today, I'm still weak and apathetic.

Therefore, all I have for you is blue and pink. (Or pink and blue.)

Perhaps tomorrow I'll have a little more to offer.......

* in very good health and spirits