Saturday, January 31, 2009

House Cleaning

My daughter Gretel called and said she is having difficulty keeping her apartment clean because of her super busy schedule. She asked for suggestions. My first husband always complained that the house was cluttered. With six kids and a dog you can bet it was. Now I must admit with all the things I could complain about my first husband(isn't that what first husbands are for?) he was a generally tidy man and it was me who left the clothes on the floor and such. Now my second husband says I always have a broom in my hand. I don't have the six kids or the dog. (Hubby says men could live in a cave. His would be a messy cave.) One of the suggestions I gave Gretel was to pick up 15 things in each room then go back and repeat the process for as much time as you have. Another thing I used to do was pretend a television crew was coming in 15 minutes. That didn't help much with closets or drawers. My Mom used to pull out the piano bench and play a hand of rummy with my brother and I. The winner picked up 10 things the second place person 15 and the loser 25. You could do it anywhere in the house and no one worried if you counted a pair of socks as two things or your counting wasn't accurate. After everyone was finished we played another hand. My Mom also payed us a penny for every 50 Dandelion flowers we picked from the yard. Sometimes we cheated and picked the neighbors dandelions.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cats and Quilting Frames

When I quilt I usually use a big frame. The quilt I am making for my nephew Michael and his bride is a queen sized quilt but I always like to make them a little big so they can be used as a bedspread as well as having plenty of coverage in the cold. (They live in Santa Barbara so they don't need a lot of protection from the cold). Anyway I need to use the king sized poles on the frame and the only room that it fits in is the family room. The cats have always liked to climb up on the quilt frame. Savannah did when she was a kitten but she was just a kitten.
Fervor liked being on the Double Irish Chain I made for Jim and his wife.
Yesterday I put Michael's quilt on the frame and big Arnold jumped up on it. The pins gave way and Arnold had a real surprise as he fell through. Fortunately only the muslin strips tore where the quilt had been pinned.
Hubby says that since the quilting frame is in front of the television it has cut his TV viewing in half because he can only see half of the screen.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pillars of the Earth

Our Book Club selection this month was Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It was a huge volume,900 plus pages, but very interesting. It makes you very glad you didn't live in the 12th century. If you think wealth mean power it is now nothing like it was then. The earl could kill and rape and was beyond prosecution. Women had little if any rights at all and the church was a very temporal power. Our club met at Fillipa's in Sterling Heights. We will meet there again as it was a wonderful restaurant. Some of the women don't bother to read the books but come for the lunch.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fish City

I have been working on Fish City again. I try to get three pages done a year which puts it on the five year plan. It is fun but very big, 29 inches by 21 inches. I have no idea what I will do with it when I finish. I have almost finished 7 of the 15 pages. There is something about a project like this that I feel challenged to finish it. I am definitely a finisher. There are very few of my projects that I haven't finished, mostly clothing. I will start to sew something for myself and then decide I don't like the way it fits or the color or something about it.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Yesterday we went to the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea to see a "Streetcar Named Desire. " It was really done well. We all found Stanley terribly disagreeable and Blanche mesmerizing. If you ever get a chance to see a play there in Chelsea, Michigan it is well worth the time. Hubby wants to rent the movie now but I don't want to see it. The play was quite intense and I don't want to go through it again. Once was enough. I often find that movies are too real for me. I can read a book that is violent or disturbing but I can always close the book and you can't escape from a movie like that. Afterwards we went to The Common Grill for dinner which was a little pricey but delicious. We went with the Lions and a friend of Hubby's and his wife. Such fun people we will make sure to do more with them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We are Above Freezing!

Today is the first day in a long while that we are above freezing so Hubby went and got the car washed. It was beginning to be difficult to tell what color it was. When we left for Baltimore it was 5 below so Hubby waited until Toledo to fill up the car. That was a smart move as it was a minus 9 in Toledo. Fortunately we had lots of hats , gloves and afghans in the car. Somewhere in Pennsylvania we actually got to 11 degrees but I think that was at Sommerset where the wind was fierce and all the windmill turbines were going at full tilt. When we got to Baltimore it was 9 degrees, an all time low for them. Monday they even got and inch and a half of snow which they were thrilled with. The kids didn't have school because of Martin Luther King Day so they went out to play. Coming from Michigan where we have so much snow, we weren't as thrilled. The morning of the Inauguration, it was 14 degrees in Baltimore and the driveway was so slick you had to hold on to the car to get up it. When we got home on Wednesday it was 23 which was the warmest we had seen in days. So you can see how excited we are that today is above freezing. It gets cold again next week. Hubby called Sears to finally purchase a snow blower but was told they have none and don't expect more for the entire season.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Inauguration

Hubby and I drove to Baltimore and stayed with his daughter Amy and her family. On Tuesday we went to the Inauguration. It was a fantastic experience. It was very cold and windy but the crowd was unbelievably warm and friendly. As we rode the Metro to D.C. people on the train spoke to us and told us where they were from and of how excited they were. The Metro had extra staff who helped people insert their tickets and explained where they should be. All through the city the police and National Guard were very helpful. At one spot people were handing their cameras up to a National Guard soldier on top of a truck and he was snapping pictures of the crowd for them. The crowd was happy but still serious. They were very quiet during the speeches and extremely courteous. At one point I had to step down off a wall at the Washington Monument. My family had led the way and I hesitated because of the steep step. A young woman extended her hand to help me down. Even though we were way back at the Washington Monument we could hear the speeches and see the screens. Afterwards 7 of the Smithsonian museums were open for people to warm themselves and get lunch. We were at the Air and Space museum and you wouldn't believe how fast McDonalds was serving lunches for the crowd. Of course I have never seen so many McDonald employees in one place ever. At the subway entrances police and national guard troops were encouraging people not to push on the escalators and people didn't. The trains were able to handle the crowds and we never had to wait for a train. We must have walked 10 miles around DC and then with driving home the next day, my legs are still throbbing today. It was fun as we drove on the turnpikes. At the Breezewood stop, as we ate breakfast, a couple came up to us and asked if we had been at the inauguration and shared their experience. We then talked to another couple as we left. At every rest stop people were willing to share their thrill with the whole experience.

After all the walking and the bitter cold Kameren said, "It was the worst day ever!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Giant Sequoia

Hubby and I are Master Gardeners. I don't think it has anything to do with that fact but whenever we are on a trip Hubby brings back things to grow. When we were in New Orleans he brought back a Live Oak. It lived in its pot for about 4 years. It died the same year as the tangerine tree from Florida. Two years ago, when we were out in Oregon, He bought a seed for a Giant Sequoia. He has nurtured it and it is doing fine. He plans to plant it at Mary's in-laws when it gets bigger. For now he has it in a pot which he takes outside in the summer, caged to protect it from chipmunks. This is a picture of the Giant Sequoia in Bill's in-laws back yard. They are supposed to grow a foot a year. That is me standing underneath it.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Arnold had to go to the vet because he had worms. They were little white ones that showed up on his black pajamas. They apparently don't cause a cat much trouble and are easy to treat. The medicine made him sleepy for a few days but he is now going strong. Back when I was teaching piano I had a kindergartner come for her lesson. She said guess where I was last night. I was in the emergency room. I asked if she had gotten hurt. She said, "No, I have pin worm!" After she left I washed all my piano keys with isopropyl alcohol.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Christmas Present

Earlier I had a picture on this blog of our new brick sidewalk in the front of our house. It was designed to perfectly support a little bench. By coincidence Mary and the Brain had received a beautiful little bench as a wedding present and I had expressed a desire to have one too. Mary and Gretel and their spouses arranged to have one made for us. A Christmas Eve Santa delivered it. I thought it was curious that the Brain kept saying that they had such good traction with their Cadillac. With this in the trunk that car wasn't going to slide anywhere. It is really perfect for the spot. My brother came over and said it looked like a cemetery stone but who pays attention to brothers anyway.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CD's Bought While Traveling

While Hubby was cleaning his cubical the other night, he found a CD of the Children's choir from St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. The Choir was good for a children's choir but definitely amateur. Listening to it brought back memories of a wonderful experience going to Mass there. The community was so warm and inviting and the church was stunning. We also bought a CD while on our trip to Italy. There was a trio who played the accordion and went from table to table singing arias and Italian songs. When we got home and listened to the CD we remembered how much wine we had that night.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Bill and his wife left today after a wonderful visit. They live in Oregon, which seems so far away. I was surprised to find myself almost in tears as they left and I am not that emotional kind of person. Before they left I dragged two boxes out of the attic which had Bill's name on them. The kids seem to want to store boxes of memorabilia at my house because they don't want to take up space at theirs. They were things that at one time he had seen fit to save. He went through them. There were many things that ended up in the trash. Letters and poems from former girlfriends, T-shirts that had once meant something, hood ornaments stolen from police cars and assorted band medals. There was really very little that he saw fit to keep. I remember when my Mom gave me a medicine container full of my baby teeth. I threw them out and then immediately through out my children's baby teeth after having a new assessment of their value.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Weight Loss

Well everyone in Mary's weight loss club emailed each other on how much they had either lost or gained. The others lost a total of 16 pounds and I gained one. Oh well, my new weight goal is to stay lighter than Hubby so far he weighs 4 pounds more than me. Isn't amazing how we can change our goals and priorities under pressure!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Indian Food

My son Bill and his wife have come to visit for a few days. Last night she cooked Indian food. She made a chicken curry and had what she thought was plenty for leftovers but she was wrong we gobbled up every bit if it. When she travels she brings some of her own spices because I don't have the Indian spices. When we visited with her parents and they cooked for us we ate so many wonderful foods. The whole family has come to appreciate the cuisine and I know both Mary and Gretel have cooked Indian food. I just specialize in eating it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cleaning the Cubical

We have a five bedroom house and since the kids have moved out we have transformed the extra bedrooms into and office and a craft room. Hubby calls his office, his "Cubical." It is, in fact, grey with grey carpeting and grey office furniture. I think he misses Ford Motor Company. It is a really cluttered mess. Hubby is always cleaning it but it is hard to tell progress. I think he gets easily distracted. Yesterday, while he was cleaning the cubical he found a quiz on New Mexico, his favorite state. So he had to take it and explain all his correct answers to me. One time he showed me an envelope full of cat whiskers which he says his first wife had saved. Now understanding that first wives do strange things, my question was "why did he bring the envelope here to my house?"

Sunday, January 4, 2009


All of my six children are good at math. Although only two of them have math degrees, none of them were afraid of math courses. Gretel talks about kids who have no math concepts at all when they come into her class. Mary talks about fellow teachers who freeze up at the mention of math. When I was teaching piano I had an adult student whose former teacher had given up on him because he couldn't count. The problem was he was terrified of even the number words. I taught him rhythm patterns for counting(quarter, quarter, half-note). He made astounding progress. When the kids had paper routes I taught them to figure the percentage of the route complete with each paper they delivered. They all learned to cook and measure ingredients. I guess I used math with them as much as I use math for just about anything I do.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Body Butter

I have never been one to wear much makeup. In fact I don't like fussing over my hair and even though I love a manicure and a pedicure, I seldom take the time for it. As I get older and could use some makeup I find I am allergic to almost all of it. When I was on a cruise I used sun tan lotion on my face and ended up in the infirmary with my face all swollen. When the doctor asked me what sun tan lotion I usually used, I told him, I was from Michigan. I use the Cetaphil moisturizer but that's about all. Mary also has sensitive skin but hasn't given up yet on finding the right product. Apparently she has trouble all over her body and I just have problems on my face. She gave me several jars of body butter. This stuff is really neat. No more white flakes on my black socks or the ankles of my black pants. I have never been so soft, Hubby has not noticed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Books I Have Read

That was a very difficult thing to erase all 26 books I had read last year from my layout. I hope I can do as well this year. I am currently reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and it is gargantuan. Interesting but a lot to read. I played the piano today too. I started on some easy Chopin. It doesn't take long to get out of practice. Now if only I get around to walking on the treadmill.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day

Traditionally on New Years Day, I take down the Christmas Tree. I did it. This year my tree was blue and white. I thought it was pretty, not as magical as I had anticipated. Gretel walked in, looked at it and said, "I didn't know we were Jewish." My brother and sister-in-law just out and out said they didn't like it. We will try something different next year. I put away all the little houses and shops in my village and reorganized the attic to get every thing to fit. I got out the boxes for the Christmas dishes but it will take waiting until the dishwasher has run to get them all. We will leave the outside lights up a little longer and the Manger scene stays up until the Epiphany.