Friday, April 7, 2023

Edwardian Frippery


Edwardian Frippery

I just wrap my hair round and round my head until it resembles a short log sticking out from the back.  So easy.  Now that my hair is done, I may apply my hat.  See below:


The ever popular Jello Mold hat.   Plenty of room for the log of hair I have in the back.  In addition, I might want to carry along some crochet or knit project in the top of the hat to work on when idle, as well behaved ladies do.


For the victorious working woman-a lunch box hat.  The top compartment of the hat is moisture proof and able to hold the delicate bits of delectability that a lovely working woman might nibble during her lunch break.


And the piece de resistance:

The Dual Standing Rib Roast Hat:

Carry your dinner offering comfortably and handily while leaving hands free and looking absolutely stunning as you amble to the pot luck.


What was actually written about these 1911 styles in McCall Magazine:

These hats were under the category of “Mourning Millinery”.  You will recognize the lovely Dual Standing Rib Roast hat on the left.



  Here is the rest of the page with the text:

The rest of 1911 Millinery for Winter:


Sorry for the small print.  These magazines and many hundreds of other fascinating ephemera may be perused on


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

It has been a strange day.  It is overcast and dismal here, so unlike yesterday when the world was sunny and brilliant blue, today is a day for indoors.

So I got my cup of coffee this morning and checked out the internet.  I clicked on a link - The Archive, and, through there went to this story about "Mad Jack" Churchill, which instantly intrigued me.  I began to see if there were any life stories about him.  You see, he captured 42 Germans in WWII with a broadsword.  You read that right, and if you click the link above you can read the story for yourself.  Then I went to Wikipedia - and I began to read his life story, but stopped as soon as I saw that "Mad Jack" Churchill, in 1924, had a bit part in the silent film, "The Thief of Baghdad."

So after I read that "Mad Jack" Churchill had also been a male model when he was young and needed to see photos of said model:

I wondered about the last name.  There is a far more famous Churchill (Winston, of course), which, it turns out, WAS NOT Jack's brother. The picture above certainly shows a better looking man than Winston's brother Jack (yes, Winston had a younger brother, Jack)!  I will definitely be doing more research on Jack Churchill (not Winston's brother), including trying to find books about him, internet articles, etc.

The real reason for this post today?  Well, the title tells you a little.  Since Jack had a bit part in the silent film, "The Thief of Baghdad", I wanted to watch the movie to see if I could find him;  to see if his part was not so tiny as to be unidentifiable.  For me, it was.  For a true researcher, with untold hours and a huge screen, perhaps they could find him. 

In any case, the FABULOUS film, "The Thief of Baghdad", distracted me enough for me to watch it's entire 2 hours and 28 minutes.  That is what "they don't make like they used to" - films.  Well, perhaps they do sometimes, but usually it is a foreign film, or an indie film, not popular and not well known.  "The Thief of Baghdad" was a blockbuster in it's time and evidently, the favorite movie of it's star, Douglas Fairbanks.

Watch the trailer above to see what I am rhapsodizing about.

The film is magic.  Douglas Fairbanks is magic.  The epic size of the sets are over the top and remind me of the flights of imagination I experienced while being read to as a child.  They are luminous, impressive, wonderful.

And yes, there are special effects.  And I loved them.  Douglas Fairbanks has to charge through fire, ride a magic white horse through the sky and, the best, at the end, ride the Magic Carpet through the city of Baghdad and off to the sunset with his love, the Princess.  The monsters that Fairbanks has to kill are pretty convincing for 1924, and I love his invisibility cloak.

The music in the background, as for all silent films, sets the mood for each scene.  The magnificent music of "Scheherazade"  by Rimsky-Korsikov is the basis of the sound track, which adds to the feeling of a lovely, exciting and above all, wildly romantic story.

I had read that Douglas Fairbanks was quite the swashbuckler, kept himself in shape and loved to do his own stunts, but I had never watched one of his films.  His acting was transcendent.  Yes, one must overact in silent films, but it made the entire presentation a ballet.  His grace, his movements were so fluid.  The underwater scene is not done closeup like the special effects in modern films, but it is from a distance so that you see the entire set and all the many actors on all their levels, as the Thief swims to his destiny.  It is enchanting and I found myself wondering how they did that particular part.

I got tears in my eyes when the Thief first meets the Princess and he realizes he cannot be carefree anymore.  I laughed when the princess wakes from her death, and about four dancing girls appear next to her bed in belly dancer array, smiling and waving their hands.  The actors' faces were so emotive and at the same time subtle.

I have to admit I love silent films.  They embody a type of story telling that no longer exists, a mime almost by the actors to get the pathos of the story across.  The days of huge stage sets and sets being built out in the California countryside, along with thousands and thousands of extras are rare, if not passed completely.  I encourage you to watch "The Thief of Baghdad", any Charlie Chaplin silent film you can, and study the look of the women, their hair, their radiance;  the men, the look of bygone days.  I can't do these experiences justice.  They open a door to a world long past, they are as relevant today, if not more, than ever.  

In our world today, weary with evil, death and human misery, we need beauty, magic, a story well told with a brilliant ending.  We don't need to be reminded that life is blood and guts and no one gets out alive, although there is a place for truth telling in films absolutely. 

If you long for beauty, magic and goodness, then watch this film in its' entirety - take an afternoon to be carried away to a wonderful land.

I'll be back after I find out more about the original point of my searches today - "Mad Jack" Churchill.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Discouragement Undone

Since moving to a northern climate after almost 40 years in a tropical one, I have enjoyed a lot of the cold, but I have had a good dose of SADD this past winter.  I am listless, just don't care about household tasks, and the world outside my window continues to look bleaker and more dark every day, between the actual dreary, leafless, brown weather and the actual state of the world.

I have always had a fascination for history, for some reason, the particularly violent 20th century histories of WWI, WWII, the Russian Revolution, etc.  I have indulged that fascination and have read countless books, both personal memoirs and standard history books about the above subjects.  All that lead-in to say that the times we are living in look a lot like pre-any of the above.  If I were young, I would rise to the occasion, but I am in my 60's and not the healthiest of people.  I tried becoming somewhat prepared for disaster in Florida when I lived there, but my efforts at gardening were a bust, and I gave up.  

I seem to have an unfortunate bent towards give-up-ness.  I didn't think I was like that, but I surprise myself in a bad way.  I find it hard to really care about anything, and going to sleep at night is my favorite time.  I can put down the unused fighting gloves I've been listlessly waving around and stop pretending and just go to sleep.

This post is not meant to discourage anyone.  On the contrary, I know where my hope lies.  It lies in Jesus Christ and in His Word.  My husband and I have found a wonderful church in Boise, which we could never really claim in Florida.  The pastor/teacher is absolutely teaching the word "line upon line, precept upon precept".  What a blessing that has been for both of us!!

And the point for this post?  Two of my favorite blogs.  The first one, "5 Acres and a Dream" is a preparedness blog, but a very gentle and honest one.  No ads, except for very inexpensive personally publisdhed written material by the blog author herself, and a very realistic picture of what it takes to be self sufficient in these days, at least as much as possible.  She does not paint a picture of impossible to fulfill, 100% freedom from the grid, but a story of their everyday life and best of all, everything she has learned in detail about soil, preparing for weather of various kinds, substitutions for things that might not be purchase-able in the future.  

Today's post was very realistic.  Leigh talks about the "what-if" worst scenario, and recognizes that even in a world where one is prepared, if everyone else is hungry and hasn't a clue how to take care of themselves, as well as having no sense of morality as in past times of emergency (like the Depression), it is going to be a bad time for everyone, including the prepared.

Make sure you also read the comments to her post for today, Saturday, March 9, 2019.  These are realistic people, who, even so, are not giving up.  Leigh is a Christian as are many of those in "let's get off grid" mode, so what her preparations don't cover, her faith does.

After reading her post, I could only agree with her assessment of the times.....and despair.  That is not Leigh's fault - she is only speaking the truth and continuing on the path she and her husband have chosen.  The despair is my fault, although it is very hard to watch a country that you have loved and enjoyed a wonderful life in, to disintegrate into chaos, hate and violence.   Leigh only speaks the truth, and not in excited "let's fight" language, but in a matter of fact way.  What she describes I have read about in hundreds of books, and the detail I have absorbed doesn't allow my imagination to fool me in any way about the times to which we are headed.

Until I came to my most favorite blog of all, "Coffee Tea Books & Me".  This is a person, Brenda, who, under the burdens of her life, does not give up. Every week she posts on pantry preparation, and not the huge pantry of an "off the grid" person.  She does what she can with what she has, AND, the creme de la creme:  She provides Christian encouragement to her readers, which are numerous, in the form of pointing the way to us who despair, pointing to the Word of God, pointing to Christ.  

So this day that started out so dark for me has been more than salvaged by Brenda's post of today, which reminded me that God has it all under control, including me, and that I need to buck up and get moving no matter how I feel, to do those things I can do today.  I am not to worry about tomorrow, but do what I can today and not allow myself to become discouraged and give up.

Thank you to both of my favorite blogs!! 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen

The book is an extremely well documented story of the US Government recruitment, protection and employment of many documented Nazi SS "scientist" war criminals immediately after WWII.  It is a sordid story in my opinion, and a clue to how desperate the US was to grab as many supposed top scientists from Hitler's destroyed Reich before the Soviet Union could get them.  Of course, "Operation Paperclip", as it was called, was classified information and kept hidden from the public.  To this day, my husband, who is a fan of the Space Race, thinks Werner Von Braun is beyond reproach.

I will be eager to find out about declassification of additional records of Operation Paperclip. The author's coverage is not necessarily in order of occurrence, and seems to jump around alot, which makes it a bit harder to follow. However, the information is so powerful, it doesn't matter.  This is well worth a read to any history buff. 

Having been born in 1956 and brought up in the early 60's, I remember how America was portrayed (and still is for the most part) as the noble fighter against Nazi (and Japanese) atrocities. America was the liberator. I believe the government, ever bigger after WWII, and the new CIA, have sullied the memory of the countless heroic American soldiers who believed they were fighting for true freedom and against evil, and gave their lives for that idea. The Greatest Generation remains just that, but their government betrayed them in the post war Cold War world.

The "scientists" (many of whom were more like mad scientists) who were recruited by the US after WWII from the Nazi ranks were desperate and would say and do anything to save their skins and so they lied constantly, taking advantage of naive and gullible Americans. The surviving scientists of the Hitler regime, many or most having been in the SS (damning enough already), which ran the notorious concentration camps, were desired by a panic stricken US government which, stupidly trusted the Soviets as an ally in WWII. There were at least two great generals that I know of that wanted to stop Communism during and after WWII. One was General Patton, whose death remains very suspicious and who wanted to drive right through Berlin into Eastern Europe and defeat the "Russian bastards." The other was MacArthur, who was removed from power (and was admittedly a brilliant, but odd man) after offering to push through North Korea into China and defeat the Communists, giving Chang Kai-Shek the chance to take over and make China into a Western friendly nation. If these men had been allowed to do the right thing at the right time, in my opinion, perhaps the US would not have sold its' soul and reputation saving Nazi scientists in order to hurry up and fight against our former "ally". I do not know how a different scenario would have worked out, whether the use of nuclear weapons to destroy the Chinese Communists (which is what MacArthur proposed, but then he wanted the US to support Chang Kai-Shek long before the advent of nuclear weapons) would have led to an even more frightening world or not. One thing I do know - there is right and there is wrong. It was wrong to use the services of men who had committed atrocities on human beings just because we allowed ourselves to be lulled by "Uncle Joe" Stalin, as FDR called him.

Here is the link to the book on Amazon - Operation Paperclip by Annie Jacobsen (published in 2014).

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saratoga Springs, New York, Summer 1915 Photo from

Peak time for Saratoga Springs back in its' heyday, was summer.  Late summer - August - Racing Season, to be exact. 

Before it's fame as a racing hub, it was the center of shady coolness, just south of the Adirondacks in north New York State, and the home of some mineral springs that had been used as medicine since before the white man.

Rich Europeans and Americans would flock to Saratoga Springs in the summer months to cool off and to escape the mosquito born illnesses in warmer parts of the country, not that the people of that time knew they were mosquito born.  The huge Elm trees that shaded the streets of the city and the breath of refreshing, clear, sharp air from the mountains just to the north carried the promise of health in the midst of the dog days of summer.  That coupled with the mineral waters and baths and medical treatments centered around Saratoga Spa made this town a draw for all those rich enough to afford to change locations for long periods of time. 

This is where my great great grandfather, Nelson Bootier (Narcisse Boutin in Quebec) came to live in the mid 1800's from Quebec, Canada.  He was a carpenter, played piano and sang, and his brother, Ezra, who also came, was a tin smith.  I'm old enough to remember some of the remaining impossibly tall elms along the street in front of my grandparent's house on 84 White Street.  The Dutch Elm blight that arrived in this country from imported timber in 1928 and carried by bark beetles hadn't yet arrived and done its' damage in the picture copied from below (the link opens up at the Shorpy site, so scroll down to see the picture here).

No matter how hot the day, under the spreading high branches of the Elms and the giant fir trees, the air was cool. 

My father was born in 1919 and this is the town he remembered as a small child.  He went to school here, went to war from here, and returned in 1945.  I don't like to think about post war Saratoga Springs, or any of the other major cities in the US.  Everything changed after the war.  Urban renewal tore down many historic structures that, arguably, were falling down areas of poverty.  But history was erased so fast and so freely at that time, in the name of modernity, the city of tomorrow, etc., that one of the major hotels in Saratoga Springs that had operated for over 100 years at least, the United States Hotel, was torn down in perfectly good working order, it's furniture sold off, and I believe an A&P grocery store and parking lot was put in its' place.  You can see the magnificence of the United States Hotel before it was demolished by watching the movie, "Saratoga Trunk", an Edna Ferber novel made into a movie in the 40's with Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper.  I'm not positive, but the giant hotel on the left of the picture may be the United States Hotel.

And now - without further ado, here is the picture.  Click on it and all pictures to enlarge.  If you want to see it really enlarged, go to the site:

There are the famous elms, this is Broadway, the main artery of Saratoga Springs and where the best hotels were.  Perhaps one of my ancestors is a newsboy in the picture.  I wish I could walk right into the picture and explore.  

Look at the ladies clothes.  Some are frumpy, and the top of the class is the exquisitely dressed, sporty woman and man in the foreground.  No heavy dowdy jackets for her like the ones behind her, which make the women look bigger than, perhaps, they are.  Both she and her companion have their footsteps in sync, right foot forward.  She is thin and lithe, although she may have on a minimal corset, and she is probably incredibly rich.  She doesn't even bother to try to impress, hence the sporty aspect of her impeccable outfit.  She looks.....a little higher class than the others on the street.  Perhaps the photographer chose to use this picture because of them, perhaps they were well known in society circles at that time.  Closeup below:
The umbrella is the only somewhat encumbering item of her outfit, and perhaps it is scheduled to rain later that day, or she protects her skin from the sun, even in these northern climes.  She has on a simple white (remember - NEVER after Labor Day...) straight skirt that looks to be of cool material - linen?  Next is a simple shirtwaist, tucked into the skirt with a nice narrow frilled collar, not fussy at all.  The thick belt and what looks like a few flowers plucked from some arrangement (perhaps in her room at the hotel) and placed in it for decoration show her whimsy and enjoyment of her surroundings.  The pendant hanging from the one dark string of beads is perhaps a locket of some kind and the beads are in sharp contrast to the white on white outfit.  The light jacket tops off the skirt and seems to be somewhat tailored, rather than a boxy look.  She is carrying a small purse or book, I can't tell which, and her hat is the only point of contention to me.  I believe the decoration on the back is made to look like a bird's wing, and on the side may just be the real wing of a now dead bird - definite points OFF for that.  My favorite - her shoes.  They look somewhat akin to today's comfortable sneaker type walking shoes, but dressier, as fits the time period.  I know nothing about men's suits, but I assume her companion is dressed to the nines for their morning promenade, and they look like a very interesting couple.  Not every gentleman in the picture has on a jacket AND a buttoned vest with tie tucked in, so I assume he is quite stylish.  No children to care for, they look carefree.

Next, my possible ancestor newsboys:
Notice the short pants.  My dad wore those as a child.  These children are probably local resident's children, maybe even Bootiers trying to make some dough.  On the lower right, tipped up against the tree, is a chair containing someone I assume to be another newsboy by the jaunty angle of the chair legs.  His mother probably never let him do that at home!

Ladies whose clothes are unattractive:
The lady on the left with the tight buttoned down dark jacket and skirt - serviceable wear, but unattractive (I have a picture of my grandmother from about the same year and she has on a dark wool suit that looks heavy, but warm, for winter, and decidedly plain).  Her hat is approved though, because there were no birds harmed in its' creation.  The hat and shoes are the only white parts of her apparel.  She looks proper, but uncomfortable, and she is smoothing the bottom of her jacket.  It doesn't look like she can get enough breath in that thing, and she probably has the inevitable corset below it all.  Her companion isn't nearly as dapper as the gent in the front of the pic.  And he has a stogie hanging out of his mouth.  I know that was considered stylish, but he just looks like a trombone salesman on vacation with his very self conscious wife.  The two elderly women and the man look like summer vacationers in comfortable wear, but the long white jacket looks like a box over the striped skirt, and the next woman's suit looks like so many of the outfits one sees in pictures from this time period.  Unlike the trombone salesman, they look like they are undoubtedly rich and enjoying their racing season and their morning walk.  The hat on the boxy woman's head is the best hat in the picture, and the hat of the suited woman should be minus the white standing up thingy.  They are very proper however, very proper.

Next are the incredible streetlamps:
At first I thought it was a real child in the shadows, but then I saw the other lamps further down.  Beautiful and so ornate.

Last is across the street.  Except for the cigar store and  the "Busch Beer on tap", the rest of the shops look inviting.  The Ice Cream and Confectionary store sounds divine.  Once again, shades of "The Music Man" with Marion, the Librarian having a strawberry phosphate at the River City Ice Cream shop.
Oh how I would love to go into some of those stores.  I bet the ice cream was delicious, but in New England (which Saratoga Springs isn't precisely in, but it might as well be), it seems it is the best ice cream in the world.  Also, note the big horse-drawn wagon with the loads of luggage in it.  They must be delivering to one of the large hotels from the railroad station.

Oh - and let's not forget the gent checking the daily news, perhaps while waiting for a friend to show up:

Friday, May 25, 2018

"So....How Is Living In Boise" They Asked

OK folks, gird your loins.  I'm doing well in Boise.  I love the 4 seasons, especially fall, and the winter was mild with sunny days a LOT of the time - not like Northeast US winters at all.  I only drove in snow one time because I wanted to finally experience it.  My husband became an expert at driving in snow, but since the winter was mild there wasn't a whole lot of snow ever.  It did have the decency to snow on Christmas Eve and that was wonderful.  Meanwhile, we thought we would be stuck in the house all winter, but we took lots of short trips around and in Boise and enjoyed the outdoors a LOT during this past winter.

We have a lovely house in which we put new flooring and furniture, and then promptly ran out of money, so the kitchen remains 80's bleah and the master bathroom countertop is the worst color I have EVER seen.  Yes, I could paint the cabinets in the kitchen and the bathrooms, but that would take more WORK, and after moving across country with four crated cats in a Kia Soul (need I say more?) I'm not into more work.  Maybe someday.

However, the greatest joke ever is that my husband does NOT like Boise.  He can't wait to return to Florida.  While I miss it a great deal, mostly the wildlife and my mother - it is quite lovely and very civilized here.  It is like going back in time to the 1960's in general.  You never have to wait at the Dr.'s office or the dentist.  Everyone who waits on you from McDonald's on up is super polite and cheerful and helpful.  There is some diversity here, but not much, and that affects the food choices which are not as varied as they could be.  But Boise is growing by leaps and bounds and it is changing FAST.  It is interesting to watch the changes, while it will be sad if Boise loses its' "small town" feel.

About the wildlife.  In Florida, we had a back yard that was like a jungle and had more birds and butterflies and insects and lizards - all in balance because we used no chemicals - than anywhere I have ever seen.  I literally had Knight Anoles and Iguanas (neither of which are native to Florida) hanging out on my window looking in at me on a regular basis.  We had a screened in patio that my cats miss like CRAZY.  And when they look outdoors here, there are no lizards anywhere.  In fact, there are a few bird species, a lot of wasps and a couple of squirrels.  The squirrels are bigger and prettier colors than the little gray squirrels of Florida, but they are petrified of humans.  My Florida squirrels would practically eat out of my hand.  That is the extent of wildlife in our yard.  If you go out of town into the desert, you risk meeting up with serious Diamondback Rattlesnakes, especially in the spring.  In fact, Idaho is much more serious and severe a natural place than Florida.  Yes, we got hurricanes and bad thunder storms in Florida, but those are nothing compared to the mountain roads in Idaho with no guardrails, the desperate wildlife that WANTS to catch and eat you, and the killer Poison Ivy/Oak, etc.  This place will seriously kill you if you make a wrong move, and it has killed a lot of people.  An avid biker fell down the side of a mountain off a trail outside the city of Boise a couple weeks ago - and he died.  Period.  There was no pick yourself up and get back on the bike - not when you are in the Rocky Mountains, which are serious mountains (not humpy and full of pretty deciduous trees like North Carolina) and don't mess around.  That's why they are called rocky - there are lots of landslides in the spring of tons of rock onto roads.  Just driving up route 55 past Banks, Idaho, the hills got craggier and craggier, sharper and sharper - and even though there were guard rails and it was a four lane highway, I was really nervous.  I felt like we were on the moon - no trees, just sharp jagged rocks looming over the road in piles looking precariously like they could avalanche at any moment.  When you go for rides in the country, it is majestic and beautiful and powerful, but not enchanting or pretty.  It always feels dangerous to some degree.  You could freeze to death in the winter on a road no one much travels, you could be walking along the desert and a chasm opens up in front of you and you find yourself looking at a giant canyon below you - a few more steps and you would be history, because you can't see these cracks in the surface until you are upon them.  It is wildly beautiful, but never feels safe.  You must remember in rocky places to ALWAYS be aware of snakes.  If you see a dead prairie dog that has just died and is laying there - you can be sure a predator is near, probably a snake, who just killed the prairie dog and is waiting for you to go away or to bite you.  On country roads you see maybe some farms that have horses, cows, some llamas and goats, but no wild animals.  No animals or birds on all the miles and miles of hills around you, at least that you can see.  No movement.  In the spring this improves for a while, and then the summer heat sets in and emptiness reigns in most places.

We have seen prairie dogs this spring, cute as they can possibly be.  Huge warrens of holes in the ground where they pop up when you turn the car off and are quiet for a few minutes - then they peak out, see the coast is clear and begin eating the grasses.  We have seen more birds this spring, but nothing like we had in our own backyard in Florida on any given day from August through May.  I miss the lizards like crazy since I always thought of them as miniature T Rex's and thus really cute.

All of this description to say that we have moved here, used a tremendous amount of money to do so, we are settled, have had and still have the extreme assistance and love of my brother in law and his family, and it isn't likely we can amass enough capital to turn this process around and return the way we came.  My husband thinks otherwise, but I don't think, unless we win some serious lotto money, this is a possibility.  So he is unhappy here and stuck here for quite a while at least.  There is only one thing I have to say - if you read my posts that led up to this move, you know I talked to my husband about all the realities he wasn't considering and he would not listen.  So now all I can say is, "I told you so."  Nicely - I say it nicely.....usually.  Meanwhile, I am living in the now, learning about a new place, and making the best of every day.  Most of the time here the weather is fabulous with some rainy or snowy days thrown in depending on the season, but not enough to complain about.

I mentioned poison ivy above.  In March we went to "Jump Creek Falls" south of Boise - it is one of those chasms in the rock that open up like a crack in the earth.  You approach it from below, so you climb into it and up towards the falls.  There is a posted warning about Poison Ivy in the spring, which I neglected to take seriously.  I've walked barefoot in Florida, a tropical haven for all kinds of poisonous things and creatures and never had a problem.  I never got Poison Ivy in Florida  - ever.  I also didn't know that in Idaho Poison Ivy grows in bush form.  Needless to say I of course touched a bush with both my hands - to move it out of the way so I could proceed.  By that night I felt feverish and my face felt hot.  Next day the itching and redness began.  But only on my face.  Later, as the weeks went by, my right eye swelled up and nearly closed, my face looked like I had the pox, and various parts of my body broke out in seepy, itchy blisters - my arms, my legs, my waist and back - evidently I had touched most parts of my body after moving those bushes aside.  My jeans have a habit of slipping down from my waist when I'm hiking so I had to adjust them a bunch of times.  This bout of Poison Ivy was NOT fun - I have made several tongue-in-cheek "jokes" about Idaho Super Poison Ivy - like everything else here, it doesn't mess around.  I had Poison Ivy as a kid, and yes it was itchy, but I don't remember EVER having it like this for over a month before it finally cleared up.  I had to get steroid pills and take benadryl for the itching.  Plus I scratched like a monkey and the itching woke me up at night.  I will never return to Jump Creek although it was a lovely place.  How anyone goes there and DOESN'T get Poison Ivy I don't know.  My husband didn't get it - but there is greenery in an otherwise barren place all around the narrow - as in not much room to move and only one way to climb - canyon toward the falls.   My in-laws mentioned that I had been noticed to have a habit when on walks of randomly touching plants and flowers, as I always have all my life, and they thought it was unwise.  And they were right - do NOT relax in Idaho.  Unless you are hermetically sealed.

So that is it so far for the Great Move West.  That is all for now......👀.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Moving is No Fun

We spent five days in Boise and bought a house:

There were a few I liked better, but the prices have skyrocketed in the past 6 months, so this is our 3/2 in a great neighborhood.  We're working out the details now after the inspection turned up some not serious things, but things that need to be fixed nonetheless.  

Now that we're back in Florida, we face the rest of the considerable packing up and selling this house.  My husband is 64 and I am 61, so it is slow going, but we're making a dent every day.  

I have to say, though, that at times we get discouraged by finances, time limits, our physical limits, and what sometimes feels like an impossible and endless task.  

I keep imagining where I am going to put the various things I am packing, so that helps.  The weather in Boise was quite hot, but dry so it felt much better than South Florida hot.  We were able to stand it better and the skies were blue as blue could be.  We went up to Bogus Basin, the road winding up and up and around.  At the bottom of the mountain, it is dry and desert-like, but lovely.  There are plants I have to learn all about, but I already know Sagebrush.  I picked a small bit of it and the smell was more powerful than pine from a Christmas tree - and delightful.  As we traveled farther toward the top, we entered the National Forest which is almost 100% pine.  The bushes and flowers along the roadside were different from the ones below.  I love the outdoors and learning all about new flora and fauna.  I saw what I think were House Finches with their pretty song outside our hotel window.  

Summer is beautiful and it doesn't get dark until well after 9pm, and I have missed autumn for 38 years, so I am very much looking forward to that.  We won't discuss winter yet since it is probably going to be tough for us, especially knowing how beautiful it is in Florida when it is so dreary elsewhere.  Winter will be a good time for me to visit my mother who is 2 1/2 hours away from me now in Central Florida.  Once good thing about our new house is the fireplace.  My first fireplace and we are going to put in a gas insert so that it is easier to use and safer for the environment.  Boise has rules about wood fireplaces that inhibit their use on the dreariest of days, when an Inversion takes over the valley and it is dark and foggy and cold and everything is black and white except the pines.  I will need the fireplace at those times the most.

So right now we are living amidst boxes and boxes and filling up ever more boxes.  But this, too, shall pass and we will be in a new and delightful place. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New Life

I have retired from my career of 28 years as of yesterday at 3:00pm.  I started working again when my daughter entered 1st grade.  She is now 33 years old.  One day followed upon another for all that time - and here I am!

I am taking the pleasure of uninterrupted-by-work life to get deeply into projects that I attempted in the past, but never had the energy or time to finish.  I'm planning.....going over years of photographs and combing them for the REALLY good ones that I could enter into contests, frame or sell on Etsy or somewhere else.  

I will be putting some time into my Etsy store, which I have never linked to because it has nada in it right now.  Once we are settled in Boise I will work on the Etsy store because, in the meantime, there will be LOTS of packing and culling and discarding. You could say we'll be a little busy, but happily so.

We will be flying to Boise to buy a house very soon.  Of course I wish we could afford more - doesn't everyone except the very rich?  I have an ace in the hole that many people don't have - my Heavenly Father, who I am confident will provide the perfect house for us.  I have imagined it and we have been looking for months at homes in Boise online.  

Now when I say, "perfect house for us", I don't mean perfect like the world means perfect.  I mean that God will find us a house that has the special little things that mean the most to me - perhaps some bushes or flowers that are already growing that are lovely or maybe I will discover that there is a family of squirrels nesting - hopefully nowhere in or on the house!  He knows the nooks and crannies I like, what would constitute a favorite corner or view.  The house might be older and it might need some painting here and there, but as long as there is a back yard, even a small one, I will be happy. I can't wait to see what He has for us.  

The last five years or so have been difficult, sometimes we felt trapped, too tired to continue the hamster wheel of full time jobs in a busy city.  They have been tough years, but throughout He has always blessed us through friends, nature - oh what a back yard I have had here in Florida - and we have never lacked for anything, even though we have grumbled from time to time. 

I haven't written on this blog on a regular basis in forever - and that is another thing I want to do.  I'd like to quilt, crochet, knit, write, photograph anything and everything, decorate my new home bit by bit as we can afford......and take the time to dive into the Bible more than I have in the past.  

And Boise?  It is 100% opposite to Florida, both in location (you can't get much farther apart in the same country than from the tip of Florida to Boise, Idaho) and in climate.  I'm SO looking forward to Autumn again, and even a bit excited about snow.  I'm not as enthusiastic about that, though, because I lived with long winters until I was 23 and I never cared for the dreariness or the dead tree look.  Not to mention I have NEVER driven in snow.  I'm hoping that, unlike last winter, Boise has its' usual mild minimal snow winter coming up.  

Most of all, I'm excited about what is ahead, what God has for us, the changes, the scenery, the discoveries, the mountains......I have a melancholy streak so I know there will be culture/climate shock, homesickness for Florida (a place I hated when I first moved here 38 years ago) and longing for the familiarity of old ways.

I'm going to take you along as we make this change in our lives. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moving On - My Sanity Projects and Sort of a Bullet Journal Attempt

I know myself well.  I often read recipes and then somewhat follow the directions, tweaking here and there, usually not for the best outcome, unfortunately.  If it has onion, surely it must have garlic, right?  Not always.  I do the same although I fight myself (fun to watch) with crochet and sewing and knitting.  

Does it not strike you that knitting is more "high class", more "artistic" than crochet?  If one knits, one is creative; if one crochets, it used to be for toilet paper holders that were the giant skirts of dolls that look like Scarlet O'Hara and Granny Squares forever.

Actually, the little Scarlet O'Hara dolls are kind of cute and the colors are nice.  I am SO not a fan of pink of any kind.  Salmon-yes, coral-yes.  When pink light rays hit me, they drain all the power out of my body for the will to live.  I just don't like pink.

To tell the truth, I like Granny Squares, but then I never pretended to have class or be elegant in any way.  Look at these colors on Pinterest - and this is only half a page.  It makes me want to end this post and sit surrounded by hundreds of balls of colorful yarn while I crochet one square after another.

I think crochet has "graduated" to the same status as knitting, or almost has, anyway.  And then there is Tunisian crochet and Motif Crochet and more.  There is always more crochet and more yarn.  And occasionally knitting.  If I want to try to be elegant.

So, without further ado, and no more wasting time on the deep subject of the artistic legitimacy of crochet vs. knitting, here are some of the things I have been working on burying myself in to retain my sanity.

This above is a pattern called, "Bear's Blanket", and while I did not buy the "kit" to make the $700. (WHAT??!?) big blanket (I value my life), I am SURE I have not spent nearly that much on trying to buy similar colors of cotton DK yarn over the internet.  Right, honey?  Don't ask hubby to tell you the story about the car battery we really needed, and lots of yarn came in the mail that week instead.  Just don't.  But it never added up to that crazy amount.  Yikes!!  My idea of a good time?  A book of 500 granny squares and me making one of each in a different color set.  This could take the rest of my life, and I'd be happy.  Please ignore the icicle Christmas light - I have a disease love of color and things that light up, so combine them and I am in Heaven; so yes, I have Christmas lights permanently on my giant wood THING with cabinets.  That huge cabinet IS coming with me to Idaho, though.  I love it to pieces and got it at a garage sale for $50. years ago.  My husband and his friend nearly killed themselves trying to wedge it into my 10' X 10' yarn hoarding, book collecting, sewing, safe place office.

I've got lots of squares made that might not match the colors I need for the blanket - just a little too much enthusiasm on my part, but one can always use another Granny Square.  The "blue thing" is an almost finished scarf that will have buttons when I have completed it.  Hopefully it will look somewhat like this:
Finally, I found a pattern for the type of doily I like - square with block holes in it.  I didn't realize this is all just a pattern of double crochet.  But get that pattern wrong, which is ever so easy for me - and it just doesn't look right.  I also had a ball of discolored cream thread from the1930's that belonged to LaVerne, a friend of mine that passed away some years ago.  She was my Christian mentor, and I got her Bible study books, old wooden spools of thread, letters, old photos and the ball of cream thread left over from making her wedding dress.  It was still in the braid shape that you have to open up and roll into a ball or it will get hopelessly tangled.  I unbraided it last Friday night and wrapped it around the top of my desk chair to keep it straight, and then took a solid 2 hours to roll it into a ball.  Since the yarn is discolored, some darker, it looks like it is multi-colored now in several shades of cream.  It has a history and I am not letting it go to waste.  

Here is what the doily pattern looks like in light cotton yarn versus the cream thread from 1930's.  I have never crocheted thread before and it makes me half blind, but I love the outcome even as I squint at the stitches under the strongest light I can find.  Doesn't it look cool with the dark and light all mixed up in the pattern?  Even if you don't think so, I LOVE it.  So there.

And not to get boring, but here is a knitted, yes I said knitted, wash cloth in purple.  I love it and probably will never use it, but it's purple, and it's a square, and it's knitted.  Enough said.

Last, but not least, the Bullet Journal.  Sort of.  This was invented by a man called Ryder Carroll to keep orderly bulleted lists by date and page number in one carry-everywhere book that encompasses to do lists, events, appointments and life.  I'm afraid mine is a little messier than his, but as we are all told, we must make it "ours", and it is ok to be weird  different.

Since, in addition to a yarn fetish, I also have a pen and paper and notebook hoarding tendency (every year when school supplies are on sale, I have to be physically restrained from office supply stores and the sections in other stores that suddenly have SCHOOL PENS AND PAPER).  So over the years I have bought - let's just say many - various types of notebooks and - let's just say a lot - of pens of various types, including fountain.  Yes, I'm that kind of person.  Sigh.  So, being prepared for the creation of a journal by having every type of notebook known to man, I chose 3 1 and got to work preparing it with page numbers, index and calendar pages.  Then I ruined it by having an "Idea" page not attached to a date, but it DOES have a page number, hence it is findable.  Whatever.  I love it. And my pens are ready.

Do you think I have enough pens?  Don't, whatever you do, look in the top drawer of the desk.  Just don't.
Also?  Don't look in the bottom cabinets of the huge wooden THING in my room.  My sister did when she came to visit and promptly burst out laughing uncontrollably.  I very rightly protected the vision of my Collections from her eyes and shut the cabinet doors. 

The colored paper tubes holding the various groups of pens?  Those are ex-toilet paper cardboard rolls that have been covered with colored paper in my favorite colors and glued, cut and folded.  It's just another facet of my insanity creativity.

I hope you enjoyed this look at my projects, my calming devices and what makes me happy. 

The Great Move (West?) of 2017

My husband gave his notice of retirement in September 2016.  The agreement is that he will work until June 30, 2017 and that he will then receive 6 months additional salary and the worth of benefits for the same period.  Since the day I met him some 26 years ago, he has wanted to move to Boise, Idaho where his brother's family live.  I have tried to talk him into other places - North Carolina which is much more like my native upstate NY, but not as cold in winter, Tennessee, Georgia, North Florida, Central Florida where my mother still resides and I absolutely love it there.  But he has resisted all other places.  Not Texas, not Oregon (at least not the west side of the mountains), not the midwest (I'm not in favor of living with the threat of tornadoes either, so no loss, although parts of Missouri and Arkansas are like North Carolina and so I know I would like them).  Nowhere on God's green earth can we go but Boise.  Not even anywhere else in Idaho.  Sigh.  Did I mention he is stubborn?  Have I mentioned he has never lived outside of Florida?  He has visited his brother tons of times and stayed there and traveled through Idaho and other parts West with them, and he has seen and experienced all the seasons.  I remember what winter in upstate NY is like.  The year I was 23, in January, I came down with bronchitis that somehow became a liver infection that put me in the hospital unable to keep anything down, even a teaspoon of water.  I was nauseous all the time and very depressed.  I thought I was dying.  I would look out the hospital windows and see nothing but low, dead gray skies full of snow and black tree branches.  No. color. at. all.  When I recovered, I had anxiety attacks for quite a while.  I am somewhat leery of the winter blues since I know all too well how the lack of light, the fact that it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon for some weeks, and during the day it is often cloudy, grey, foggy and dreary can affect one severely.  I don't mind the cold I don't think - after Florida summers it will be refreshing, but everything else?  Plus western Idaho is desert.  The hills outside of Boise?  Not green or covered with trees.  In the summer they are brown humps surrounding the city.  They call summer "Fire Season".  So I have some misgivings, just as I did when I moved to Florida with my first husband.  His family was here, so here in Florida we moved.  I hated it at first - and when I say "at first" I mean for the first 5 or 10 years.  But I am older and wiser and I have faith in Jesus Christ now, which I didn't have back then.

So, to make a long story even longer, since September I have been on a crazy roller coaster emotionally and on a crash course in trusting God.  One week I am SURE beyond a doubt that I CANNOT move to Boise, Idaho, and the next I am eagerly and impatiently awaiting new adventures in the totally-different-than-Florida out of doors.  I have gone so far as to announce to my husband that I will not be going to Idaho whether he is or not, and then, of course, I calm down.  The next day I am so excited that I will get autumn back, my favorite season always, and I want to move NOW.

ALL of this is tied to my spiritual life.  I am absolutely learning in fits and starts, about trusting the Lord.  Period.  Not "what-ifing" myself to death, (except when I am stuck in Fight or Flight/Fear mode.

I won't go into details, but there are a number of crucial things that must all come together at the same time, and if I dwell on them I head for Bonkersville.  This is not the normal-for-Americans planning for a restful and fun retirement.  This is totally, "can we even afford to do this?" and "WHAT are we doing???!!"

It is time for my husband to leave his job, which has changed so much, not for the better, over the last 10 years - and he IS 64 years old (how the heck did THAT happen???).

It is also time for me to leave my job where I have been on easy street for far too long.  Since I am overweight and 61 years old, and I have been through 4 principals in my 28 years there and not all of them were happy experiences, no one expects anything from me at this point.  I can come to work, sit back and read blogs all day if I want.  Yes, I do have work, but it doesn't take all of my time anymore, and I could do more, but the motivation is totally gone.  I COULD take up my entire day learning new software, helping the young guys who are techs with me do work orders, come up with new and exciting ideas for our web page, etc.  But I know from my years of experience that if I do that, no one will care and that new ideas are frowned on unless they are thought of by someone who has the power and backing of power to make it happen.  I've tried to jumpstart myself a number of times because I feel guilty about my work ethic.  Since I have been there 28 years and I am the same pay "grade" as the other techs, I am making much more than they are, yet they know far more than I do about setting up and managing servers, and the latest and greatest hardware.  I take care of mostly software problems and issues, managing a few of the packages we have.  I also do orders for the school for Technological items and I keep up with updating our web site.  I make sure all our software is renewed on a yearly or whatever is necessary basis and there are other things, but hopefully once I'm gone, they will digitize the whole group of things so that each employee can take care of what they need themselves.

Anyway, for me, it's time.  I don't like feeling guilty and one or two of the techs have a certain amount of understandable resentment against me for making so much and doing so much less than they do.  It is the way the government system works.  We don't make the big bucks, but we have such a wonderful time both working and playing.  This is probably why people want government jobs - once you are "in" you have to be really bad to get booted out, or you have to be tremendously unliked, and there is a process for firing someone that takes mucho time and effort and signing of documents by both boss and bad employee.

As far as personal life at work?  I love the techs I work with and the other lady in the office.  They are all like my kids and it keeps me young to banter with them and laugh with them.  I like to think they feel similarly about me, at least most of them, and it will be very hard to leave them.  I hope we can keep in touch on Facebook, maybe even still texting.  But I do know that everyone moves on, and if the fires of relationship aren't kept kindled by being close physically to coworkers, they often grow cold and go out. 

I have stayed sane by suddenly becoming an avid crocheter and knitter, not to mention I made a quilt, but not well.  Yarn.  I MUST HAVE YARN.  All colors of yarn, mostly cotton, mostly DK weight because the feel of the thread is what I prefer rather than bulky yarn.  But that hasn't stopped me from getting on Ebay and buying pretty colors of worsted weight yarn to make all the scarfs, mittens and hats as well as afghans I can handle for my New Home.

The real reason I have stayed sane is faith in Jesus Christ.  I am learning by experience (and there really is no other way in the spiritual life) that He is not only real, He is there, He cares and He is in charge.  He can and will take care of me through everything, even if I don't like the outcome.  I have eternal life in Him and I know that when I die, life goes on, and there are hints of not just being His Bride (the whole Church of believers), but ruling with Him.  I'm not really interested in ruling, but that can encompass everything from cleaning bathrooms, cooking and taking care of animals to sitting on a throne and making big decisions.  I like the taking care of animals part.  I like the behind the scenes part.  And I hope beyond hope that there will be crochet, knitting, weaving, shearing of lambs and other yarn bearing animals, and dying of wool.  Not to mention sewing, fabrics of all get it.

Just a few days ago I was deep in depression, feeling like this whole experience is going to kill me, feeling like taking off in the middle of the night for parts unknown, when a little voice whispered to me, "trusting in the Lord doesn't encompass dread, fear, resulting anger and depression."  And it just hit me.  

There are two sides to the spiritual life, especially when you are "going through something".  One side is the safe side with Jesus, trusting in Him, feeling His presence, concentrating on His Word and promises, and the other side is so opposite it can barely be described.  It is like black and white, like life and death.  When you are on the "other" side, every fear assails you, you feel SO sorry for yourself, you know you are old and useless, you are angry that all this is true.  You have no love for anyone, least of all yourself or God, and you are just plain miserable.

It is amazing that you can be on one side of this chasm one day and on the opposite the next.  You are truly Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde at that point.  Doesn't James talk about being "double-minded"?  I think I know what he is talking about.

Stay tuned for pictures of my yarn projects as well as my attempt at a Bullet Journal.