Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ok. .I'm going to confess...I figured out what was causing our drought, and, I hang my head in shame, because little 'ole me is to blame.

I lOVE walking in the rain. I love the sound of the drops pelting on my umbrella, or the hood of my coat. .I love how the colors of trees and branches become more saturated, and how much cozier warm lamp glows from curtained windows look against the dark gray cloudy sky. I even love the way neon store lights are reflected in puddles, and on wet streets. 

Which is why, last Spring, when I saw these eye-catching boots, ((you'll have to look at them sideways, or lay your head over to the side. .one would think that Blogger would have corrected that glitch by now!) which not only captured my attention, but my heart, I decided to further enhance my rain-walking adventures with something that would not only be practical in keeping my feet dry (plus I could jump in puddles as I saw fit), would help further brighten my spirit, while on my rain walking experience.

So, I ordered them, they were delivered in record time, and I gleefully tried them on to make sure that they fit, and then set them by the back door, ready to step into at the first rain drop. . .and no drops came. . .

All summer long, my beautiful new boots have sat there, untouched except by the couple of spiders who have excellent taste, tried to call them home. I convinced them that they would be much happier outside among my herbs and flowers.

So, a little over a week ago, while cleaning the back porch, I decided, with a sad sigh, to relegate my boots to the back of my closet. .and. . you guessed it. .the next day, it started to rain. .and it wasn't in the forecast!

Now, I'm not ordinarily a superstitious person, but we need the rain SO badly, I didn't want to take the chance of having it stop, so I kept my boots tucked away in the dark.   After several days of straight rain, I decided that they were going to get a workout, and brought them out. .and you guessed it again. .it quit raining.

So back into the closet they went.  We've had passing storms and rain every day since.  No day long soaking rains, but every day, some is in the forecast.

Coincidence? Or not?  You draw your own conclusions. .Now that I've confessed my story, I'm staying mute on the subject, except to say that I still love my boots. .and do hope to be able to wear them while walking in the rain someday!

Hoping that your day is everything that you want it to be!

Monday, July 30, 2012

We FINALLY Have A Winner!

Accccckkkk!!! First we have drought, and then it pours, first flooding the Majick Cauldron, and then I lose my internet access.

Worst thing to happen when you have a drawing scheduled!!

I poured out the rainwater, dried out the entries, and started over.

This morning, my darling Hubs once again reached in to draw out the winning name.

Congratulations Joyce!!  The book will soon be winging it's way to your home!  Please send me your mailing address.  And prepare the Enchanted Ones, that you will need to set aside some personal reading time. .or perhaps they would like for you to read the book to them, too. They are sure to love a story with Witches and Vampires!

I wish that I had additional copies to send to everyone that entered, and thank everyone for their interest.  I've been tossing an idea around for a book round robin type of thing, where anyone who signs up, would get a chance to read a book, and then pass it along to the next person on the list, but have yet to work out the details in my mind.

If you have any suggestions, and/or would be interested in taking part, please leave me a comment.  After I see if this would be feasible, we can work out the details!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Win A Book!

 Ok. .I'm going to wake up this tired blog with a Give Away!  My alter-ego purchased a duplicate copy when I wasn't looking, so my over-eagerness is your gain. .should your name be drawn!

I'm giving away a brand new, straight out of the box, spine never been cracked, copy of Deborah Harkness' second volume, Shadow Of Night, of her All Souls Trilogy. 

And yes, you really should read her first book, Discovery of Witches, to get the full enjoyment of the whole adventure.  ( I love the way that she weaves actual historical events together with her imagination.  It makes for a rich and beguiling tapestry!)  Copies can be found at numerous book sources, including public libraries.

So if you would like your own copy of this book, please leave your name in the comments, and it will go into the magic cauldron, with the winner to be announced on July 27th! 

Good luck to everyone!!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weeping Wednesday?

Yup, I'm still around. .and HAVE to change the look of this blog. .it is not only going to be into the 70's here today (in MARCH, for heaven's sake!) when it is normally snowing and blowing, but I'm finding rather staid.  

Very few people know that I have a hidden, rather silly side of me, that truly would embarrass my kids no end. (they really need to lighten up a bit!)  In moments when I have let my Inner Child out to play, I hear those infamous words from my 88 year old mother, "Aren't you EVER going to grow up?", and now I'm telling her "NO!"  She isn't pleased.

But I don't know if it because I've been splitting most of my time between the nursing home where she is now living, or in the oncology department at the Mayo Clinic, where my Hubs is getting treated, but I'm seeing life as a blimp in time. .so much of mine has passed, and there is so much that I would change, but can't.  

And while I'd love to say that I'm casting off the shackles, and letting my inner child fly, she is still restricted, not only by growing obligations, but by my heart too. .I had a bit of a personal scare, discovering that I have developed a hiccup in my heart beats. .and come to find out, it is due to stress. .I internalize everything.  My doctor told me that my heart is fine, but it is emotionally breaking.

For some reason, this song, and her version, has been running through my mind over and over this morning.  It is SO nice, when that happens, to be able to go to You-Tube and there is the very one that you are looking for!  I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do. .she is phenomenal, and this song is perfect for her. .

P.S.  And no, my Inner Child is not going to remain hidden. She is needed now, more than ever!

Wishing you all a beautiful day! Do something to make your heart sing!

Hugs & Love!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice Greetings!!

Sending everyone Blessed Yuletide Greetings!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It Is SO Hard To Say Goodbye. . .

We just returned home from our animal clinic where we take our furbabies to keep them well and healthy.  But occasionally, we have to make a very sad journey, hopes high, but with a drop of dread in our hearts, that we are going to have to say goodbye for a while, and this morning was one of those times.

Anyone who says that a feral cat can't be a loving in-door only cat, should have met Punkin' Kitty.  He came to us over 5 years ago, an estimated 5 year old, battle-scared, food stealing bundle of fury.

He started showing up in the Autumn evenings, drawn in by the dry food that we would put out for the raccoons and opposums, but he wasn't friendly, or approachable, running back down into the ravine behind our home.  Until the snow came. . 

That was when he discovered the cat door that we had installed in the side of our garage, for feral cats to find shelter during bad weather.  We have some of those heated pads for feral cats, that keep the proper temperature for kitties to be able to keep warm.  When we would walk in the side door, he would dash out the cat door, only to go back in, when we left.  We played that game all winter long, with him starting to approach in the Spring, only to snatch the pan with his food in it. .you had to watch your fingers!

With warm weather, came the time to haul out the patio furniture, and sit outside.  My hubby adopted the habit of having his morning coffee out there, and would spend considerable time reading, enjoying the peacefulness of our little oasis.  Punkie, as we shortened his name, and seemed appropriate because he did have an attitude, started hanging around more and more, and would actually be brave enough to jump up beside my hubby, and snuggle in for a nap.

Weeks into this routine, we decided that it would be good for him to at least have an exam, and get his preventative shots.  And, while getting him into the carrier caused some blood to be shed (ours), he remained resigned to his fate once we got him to the doctor.  Then we received some sad news that changed all of our lives, but for the better.  He tested positive for FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV in humans.  His immune system was shot.  So we had a choice. .either bring him inside, or to have him put down. .if left to his own devices, he would have a short life, followed by a painful and lonely death, plus, he would spread the virus with every bite that he inflicted on another cat.  He was otherwise a healthy kitty who deserved to know what a loving home meant.  So home he came!

We have other kitties, so we kept him separate from them, while acclimating him to the proper indoor kitty etiquette. And while there were some manner issues over grabbing his food, as soon as he figured out that there would always be more coming, he dropped that habit, and amazed us with how quickly he settled in!  Once he came to trust us, it was like he knew how much better his life was, and never once tried to bolt to an open door.  He was home to stay!

But, as is with all HIV kitties, it eventually catches up with them.  In Punkie's case, it took 5 years.  Actually a long time for an HIV kitty that tested as positive as he did.  Studies have shown that a stable, loving environment helps their survival rate, and Punkie had the best!  He evolved into a marshmallow personality, purring at the slightest touch, and loving to spend as much time as he could, curled up on your lap.

Late last week, he quit eating, and we could tell that he wasn't feeling good, so off to the doctor's, we went!  He was hydrated, and given an antibiotic injection, and within 2 days, was back to his typical Punkie self.  Until last night, when again, he wouldn't eat, and curled up in his toy basket, trying to hide.  This morning, we got the bad news from a blood panel, that his FIV was changing into FIP, a quickly fatal disease, with no cure.

We could have had him injected with more meds to bring him back again for maybe a week if we were lucky, only to have him relapse again, feeling worse each time.  That is not the life to live in you are a Punkie Kitty!  So we made the hard, but best decision for him, to say goodbye.  I held him in my arms, petting and talking to him, with him purring until he was gone.  It is hard, but I feel better, letting them know just how much they are loved, and not just tossed aside, like a material thing.  He will be in my heart forever.

I can't stress enough, for people to keep their cats indoors.  There is no need for a cat to be outside, under any conditions. Besides the dangers of cars, wild animals, weather, and unkind humans, there are unseen dangers too.  Rabies, Distemper, and now FIV, FeLV, and FIP, all fatal, with Feline Leukemia being transmitted through the air! It doesn't need a deep puncture wound, but can be spread by touching noses, mutual grooming, or eating out of the same bowl. All it takes is one encounter for a cat to become infected with any one, or more of these diseases.  

And please, if you are thinking of getting a furry friend, strongly consider rescuing one.  They deserve to know what it is to be loved.  Punkie is the poster child.  He thrived!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Music To My Ears

Every holiday season, I swear that I'm not going to buy any more holiday CD's, and every year, I wind up buying at least one more. .but I am getting pickier, and the past few years have actually been buying more of the retro versions. .so how on earth did THIS CD get into the mix?

I heard the interview on NPR, and something hooked me. .my copy arrived Saturday, along with some seasonally appropriate CD's, but it is this one that I've been playing again and again.

It makes me want to learn Spanish, although it certainly isn't necessary to understand the lyrics, to enjoy the music. .which makes me want to go out and take Latin Dance lessons!

At the very least, I want to go to one of the local Mexican restaurants for dinner tonight, and ask them to play this CD while I eat!

Salsa, anyone?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Halloween Give-Away!

I'm offering a little Halloween Give-Away over on my Halloween Blog, so if you'd like a chance to win it, please click on the above link, and sign up! Simple and sweet!

Good luck!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oh! My! Stars!

I'm usually a pretty upbeat person, but events of late have stripped me of much humor, and have felt myself dragging as a result. .but thanks to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (and I didn't even eat any!. . .yet), I've laughed so much, I've got tears in my eyes, and am now coming up with multitudes of scenarios. .can you imagine. . 

"Price check on Ben & Jerry's. . . . ", or asking a store clerk, "Do you carry Ben & Jerry's. . . . " 

If you've never seen the classic Schweddy Balls sketch on Saturday Night Live, then you can see it here, on the Ben & Jerry's website. And if you have seen it, go watch it again. .everyone needs to laugh. 

It seems almost secondary that the ice cream actually sounds very yummy! I'm sure that more than one carton is going to be saved after the last scoop of ice cream has emptied the container.

I'm also sure that there are going to be some that are offended by the "flavor", and I'm hoping that I haven't upset anyone here by posting this, but truly, I can think of dozens of things that are of a more serious nature to worry about, and this true levity should be received in a light hearted manner.

So everyone grab their favorite ice cream spoon. . you know the one, with the long, long handle to be able to easily reach the bottom of the carton, and raise them in unison to Ben & Jerry's! 


Friday, September 2, 2011

Life's Winding Road

When I started my blogs, it was with the intent to use them as a diversion, a get-away from what has been happening in my life. To enjoy sharing some hopefully fun things with all of you, but as time has gone on, I've had more of my personal time diverted to necessary things, and actually found more pleasure in reading others blogs, and responding. You all have provided an even greater get-away for me!

I didn't share what was happening here, because. . . oh, right now, I don't even know why, except that I didn't want to have to dwell on our problems, and writing them out seems to make them even more real, staring me in the face.  When I don't see them written down, then I just do what has to be done, and don't really think about it.

But, I've been torn. .out of respect for everyone who has been so loyal in sticking around here, since I'm gone so much, and with a recent development, I feel like it is time to share.

As some of you know, my dear Hubs as been battling prostate cancer for 13 years now.  When it was discovered that he had cancer, it was in such an advanced stage, that the doctors at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN, recommended that he have it removed immediately, which he did.  And he was clean for a couple of years, before those stubborn nasty cells that can morph into different forms, reared their ugly heads again.  Ever since then, every few months we make our journey westward again for him to get more treatments, more surgery. .whatever new procedures that they have come up with in the interim. And while he will never be cured, he is of the new breed of people living with cancer.  The doctors have done a wonderful job of keeping it contained, and not letting it get a foothold in other organs, his bloodstream or into his bones. He has yet to have the chemo drugs that can severely impact a person's quality of life, so that part is wonderful! His panel of Urologists and Oncologists are keeping those options ready, should he ever need them.  They have alluded from time to time, that this aggressive form will eventually spread, but my Hubs seems to have missed those comments, which is just as well.

The reason that he hasn't comprehended the full impact, is that two years ago, he was diagnosed with early stage Lewy Body Disease.  I'm still on the fence about this diagnosis. .oh, it is obvious that he is having problems with short term memory and comprehension, and that has gotten a little worse over the past two years, and he goes through periods of falling more, but he hasn't exhibited other classic signs of the disease.  The Neurologist told me that although this form of dementia is the second most prevalent form, little is known about it.  He could plateau at any time, for however long, and may stay at the level, or suddenly take a drop in function. He could exhibit some of the signs, and may not have others, at all!  They wanted to get him into a study, and at first, he agreed, but then, at the same time, he had to have some extra procedures done to get rid of some more cancer, and was overcome with being poked and prodded, so he backed out. But, we're going to have be addressing this illness again soon.  

Now, while all of this has been going on, my Mom, who is a widow, as been increasing in age (she will be 88 in January), and declining overall, in health. Being an only child, it has come to me, to be her primary care-giver.  She has insisted on living in her own home, so I have been going over there every day or so, to make sure that everything is in order. I take care of her financial responsibilities, transporting her to appointments and doing her shopping.

I've tried my best to just go with the flow, but I've always internalized everything, thinking if I keep it together on the outside, then stresses will slough off. .not so. .almost a year ago, I got the "official" verdict as to all of the aches and pains that I've had for years. Fibromyalgia.  Bad enough on its own, major flares brought on by stress make episodes even worse. And no, none of the drugs have helped, with me getting some rather nasty side affects.  Hence, my mini get-aways, blog hopping, just to relax and have some fun.

But last Saturday, my Mom called me early in the morning, unable to move her right side.  She is still in the hospital, and is going to be moved to the physical rehab facility either today or tomorrow, to see how far she can come back from the affects of her stroke. Needless to say, most of my time this past week, has been spent at the hospital, or running errands for her.  I spoke with the coordinator yesterday, and she said that their intent was to get my Mom back into the best that she can be, with the intent of her living with continuous family support.  In other words, she can't live alone any longer. 

So far, I've managed to keep my Hub's appointments and trips to Rochester in synchronization with my Mom's needs, but that may be coming to a head very soon, since his Oncologists may want to see him this month.

I don't know where this turn in our road will take us, but I'm determined to make all of the curves.  And I do miss commenting on the blogs that I love to follow, but do read them whenever I get the chance. .hopefully one of these days, I'll have some time to catch up!  But I think you all, more than you will ever know, for the bright spots in my days, for making me laugh, think, and even share some of your down times too. It reminds me that everyone has problems in their lives too, and I'm not the only one who has to deal with sadness or stresses.

And thank you all for hanging in here with me!  I do have some things sitting here for some Give-Aways, so hopefully, I'll at least get those posted, and get some good, fun, positive energy flowing here again!

I do have the weather to look forward to this weekend. . the temps are supposed to get down into the low 50's at night, and the high's in the upper 60's! Yippee!!! I do love Autumn!! 

Wishing you all a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Foggy Days Of August

If you live in a "four season" part of the country, then take note of the days in August, when your area has fog. .it doesn't matter if it is morning, noon, or night.

The foggy days of August will tell you how many snow storms to prepare for, during the coming winter months!  Start marking those calendars to see if this bit of weatherlore is accurate!

(No dog was snowbound inside this house! It is left over from the days when my younger daughter still lived here. She bought it to use as a shelter for feral cats, before we built our garage. Now they prefer the heated beds and water bowls that I set up inside that much warmer and drier shelter. Daily meals are included with their shelter plan. Raccoons, possums and other critters will sometimes use the house as a shelter to get out of the rain, or take a snooze.)

Any personal predictions on how many foggy days August holds for you?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When The Muse Calls . . We Bake!

Much like when those creative urges get so strong, that they can't, or at least shouldn't be denied, it is much the same when the Culinary Faerie sprinkles her dust over your head. .no matter how hot and sticky it is, you are compelled to bake! And that is how it came to be that in 90 degree weather outside, I had the oven on, inside. Thank the stars for air conditioning!

Today, I made a Chocolate Guinness Cake.  Word of warning. The wafting fragrance of this cake baking, will alert noses, that will hover around, anxiously awaiting for it to cool enough to eat. 

This is an adult cake, not overly sweet, and is SO GOOD with vanilla ice cream! It is such a straightforward recipe, I didn't take a lot of photos. I'm sure that you can follow along, just fine!

Put an oven rack in the middle position of your oven, and preheat it at 325 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9 x 3 inch round pan, or use that handy dandy cake release product that Wilton makes. (You can find it at JoAnn's, or other stores that sell Wilton baking equipment and supplies)

You are going to need:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch processed. .you want a dark, rich, unsweetened cocoa powder)

1 3/4 teasp. baking powder

1/2 teasp. baking soda

1/2 teasp. cinnamon

21 Tblsp. unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 Cups brown sugar,firmly packed

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teasp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups Guinness stout (do not include the foam in the measurement)

1 cup rough chopped pecans (lightly toasted)

Confectioner's Sugar for dusting

Spread the pecans in a single layer and place in the oven for 10 minutes or so. .check after 5 minutes, and be careful not to let them get too brown. They should just be fragrant and sweet smelling. Let them cool, then break into pieces.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat at high speed until very light and fluffy. Stop and scrape the sides, beater, and bottom of the bowl, if necessary.

One medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in three portions, alternating with the Guinness, twice, and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until all ingredients are combined.

Add the pecans, and mix on low, until they are distributed through the batter.

Remove the beater, and mix through once or twice with the spatula to make sure that all of the ingredients are mixed in. Pour and scrape the batter into the pan, leveling it with your spatula. The batter will be thick.

Bake the cake for 70-75 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the middle, comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Invert the cake onto the rack and cool completely. Transfer to a cake plate, and dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving with that home made vanilla ice cream!!

You can store it in an airtight container for up to a week, should it last that long!