Saturday, December 31, 2011

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

No loud parties. No noise makers. No crazy party hats! I am going to stay home out of the way of the "buzzed" drivers. I will have a roaring fire in the fireplace, maybe mix up a pitcher of something containing a little NYE cheer, and will be comfortably ensconced in my recliner by said fire. I will watch a little TV, read a good book on my Kindle, and maybe crochet a few rows.
What a "party animal" I am! Well, I have done the party routine many times. I have "tied one on" many times, too. I can remember New Year's Eves spent in the Big City going from bar to bar, getting smashed, and then feeling like a polar bear is lying on my tongue the next day. I can also remember standing in LONG lines to get into movie theaters on NYE. One year we went to see "Where Eagles Dare" and another year "Swiss Family Robinson." Both times were with my wife, and my favorite uncle T and aunt K, along with various other members of the family. Those were the fun times and fond memories abound.
I guess I am getting old! But I refuse to consider myself lame or any other adjective used to describe the fact that I would rather be at home on NYE. Prof said she doesn't have concrete plans for the evening, and may be at home, too. We'll see.
This is the first year that I haven't been invited to go somewhere. And the thought of having a bunch of people in for a party is not a pleasant one. Call me an old fogie, but I really would rather do my own thing tonight. In out of the cold, and safe at home.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Many years ago, an uncle of my late wife did some research on their family tartan. He tracked it down, found it was no longer being woven, but he could order up a bolt or two for over $100.00 per yard. He sent out correspondence to the family members wanting us each to buy a yard or two. We didn't! I was snooping on the internet the other day and found a place that you could order family tartans. Lo and behold, there was my wife's family tartan listed. Here's what it looks like. The price is now $280 a yard. No, I don't think I will!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What I Read #87

The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg: An okay read. Nothing exceptional, but worth the time.

Happy Reading,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paper or Plastic?

Due to the kid's work schedules, we had our family Christmas celebration yesterday. It was so much fun watching the "baby grands" unwrap their stuff. Little R.J. finally got the tissue out of his one gift bag and discovered that there was a "sock" monkey in there. He pulled it out then put it back in the bag...several times. The "Divine Miss K" helped us all unwrap our gifts, plus spent many minutes hugging her new 40" teddy bear. I unwrapped my new Kindle.
After dinner and peace and quiet finally descended once more, I began the journey into e-books. There was a lot to do before I can begin downloading books, but I persevered, and got my Amazon account set up, and logged on to the Kindle, and then started perusing the many thousands of books available.
While I was sitting there in my chair learning away, Prof was sitting on the couch studying the new Nook she got last week. She had to set up an account with Barnes and Noble for hers. And so on.
I sampled a couple of books just to see what my Kindle would do. She did the same on the Nook. After a while she said that she wasn't sure she was going to keep the Nook. She is a complete bibliophile and loves books. She said that she felt like some sort of traitor to her many books, and that plastic could not take the place of paper in this instance. I laughed, but understood. She, who when she moved back from Montana, had a U-Haul trailer containing, along with her other stuff, 48 boxes of books! She loves books! So, the jury is still out on whether or not she is returning the Nook. I, on the other hand, love the small hand-held Kindle. I can store books on it so I don't have to have loaded book shelves in my house that collect a lot of dust. A Kindle is lighter to hold in my arthritic hands, and I don't have to keep track of a bookmark. Today, I am going to our local library and signing up for "Overdrive." That is an online service provided by libraries now that lets you borrow books for up to two weeks on your "e-reader" free of charge as long as you have a valid library card from your local library. There are lots and lots of free titles available and the list is growing daily.
So, as for me, I will choose plastic (or whatever the Kindle is made from) while Prof could very well choose paper!


What I Read #86

The Drop by Michael Connelly: Excellent read! I highly recommend you suspense/mystery readers don't miss this latest Harry Bosch novel. It's a good one.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Early Christmas Present

I received an early Christmas present today. I was leaving Walmart and as I walked past the checkout stands, there stood Tyler. Now, let me explain. My first year at the school that I retired from, Ty was in the sixth grade. He was a special little guy. He had a hard time sitting still, and didn't learn too well, but he put forth so much effort. He and I connected that year. I helped him with his math and English. He rewarded me with effort.
When Tyler moved up stairs to the 7th grade hall, he and I became closer because he spent time in my study hall. He continued to struggle with English, but math finally started making sense to him. He also got interested in origami. He devoured book after book about the subject and became proficient at many of the harder folds. He was always stopping in my room to show me his latest creation. (His biggest feat was making a crane with a 36 inch wing span. It hung in my room for two years, until the fire Marshall deemed it unsafe to have it hanging so close to the ceiling. Prof took it to Montana when she moved there and it hung in her room until it was so faded that it just needed to be pitched.)
As Tyler matured, he became tall and thin and turned into a natural runner. During his career in HS, he set records in cross country and track. He also told me that he finally discovered that the words on the pages in the textbooks finally meant something.
Ty's mom and dad were divorced many years ago, and he lived with his mom and two sisters. His family was one of the first families to have a home built by Habitat for Humanity. I got well acquainted with Ty's mom during his high school years. They had no car, and she was a regular rider on our transit bus when I drove for them.
Tyler graduated on time from HS, and even tried community college. He finally joined the Army. I have kept track of Tyler through his mom and sisters. He is doing well in the Armed Services. Which brings me back to the present situation.
Tyler saw me and came at me with arms extended. I stuck out a hand to shake his, but he said,"I want more than a hand shake. I want a hug!" There in Walmart, in front of many passersby, Tyler gave me the most heartfelt hug. He towered over me by about 6 inches, but the smile was still the same.
As we walked out of the store together, I turned to Tyler and said to him, "Thank you for serving our country and keeping us safe."
Tyler, said to me, "Mr. F, I am the one who should be thanking you. Without your friendship and guidance, I wouldn't have been able to do what I am doing. So, thank you."
Like I said, Christmas came early for me today.


There's a Blog in here Somewhere!

I taught English for several years, both on the college level and in public schools. (In the public schools, I team-taught with a seasoned English teacher.) After retirement, and much time to think about the reasons that students of every age and learning ability have such a hard time with our "written" language, I have concluded that it is because English requires too much memorization.

Think about it, we have, "there, their, and they're," and "bear and bare" (I have friends that spell their last name "Bair" and another friend who's maiden name was "Baer.") We have to deal with "to,too, and two," "sit, set, sat," and the whole (hole) "whom, who, who's, whose" thing is really confusing.

Years ago, we had an exchange student from Japan. She spoke English, but when she had to write it, she was a mess. In Japanese, there is a special or separate word for everything. Spanish, which is what I took in HS, is much the same way. Why didn't the creators of the written English do the the same thing? It would have made teaching it so much easier.

We confuse the issue even more by using same spelling but different pronunciation of many of our words. Such a, "I read the paper this morning," and "What do you like to read?" Oh my. The list could go on for a long while.

As a student and teacher of the English language, I have come to the conclusion that it's much easier to speak it than it is to write it. But, we must continue to teach our students to be good writers as well as readers. (And I am saving the new "text-speak" for another blasting blog!)

I think I will go read from my red reader which I have already read.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reading goes on but reviews stopping!

This year I have been reviewing what I read. And keeping track of how many books I have read. Well, I am behind with the reviews, having read more books since the last review. I am not going to review them. I returned them to the library and I can't remember all the character's names and so on. But I can tell you titles and authors.
#84. Faith by Jennifer Haigh
#85. Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

Both were excellent reads as I recall.

I have other things going on in my life right now that are taking up my blogging and reading time. Getting ready for the Christmas holidays, and preparing for my vacation, and getting my craft projects done are all on my agenda right now. The only time I have to read is after I retire for the evening. That about says it all for now.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas on Elm St.

Many years ago, when my late wife was still with me, she painted this Christmas village. It consists of about 60 different buildings, plus trees, a gazebo, a skating pond, and people, animals and sleighs, etc. We had an old cabinet that every year we would empty out all the dishes and " stuff " that was in it, take off the doors, and set up shelf after shelf of village.
This year I decided to take six of my favorite pieces that she had painted and display them on a shelf in my living room. It is lighted, which you probably can't tell from the picture. There are two trees that she painted, too. Somewhere in the boxes are some people and accessories, but I didn't dig deep enough to find them. Included in this display are two houses, a fire station, a book store, a church with Nativity, and a school. The red and white house with the black roof is similar to the style of house we owned while raising our children.
This brought back lots of memories of "Tilly" sitting at the card table hour after hour on weekends and evenings after work painting away, and of the pride we felt displaying her work of art.
Note: She also painted a complete village set for Prof, and had started one for Lil Bro, which she never completed. Some day he will get this one.


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Saturday, December 10, 2011


This morning I got up with the sunrise (which here is about 7:00AM.) I made a pot of coffee and ate a bowl of cereal. Kiddo had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room last night. (The poor guy has a bad cold and is taking Nightquil.) So, in order not to disturb him, I took my coffee and went into my room and huddled under my covers and read on my novel. Sometime later, I fell asleep and woke up around 10:20AM. Now I feel like something the cats dragged in!
I hate feeling like this. Sluggish and like every move is an effort. And how does getting a few more winks of sleep make you feel this way. Is it a natural phenomenon or is it something that is only designed for me personally? Anyway, it's gross!
In the meantime, Prof got up and sent Kiddo up to his bed to sleep off his cold-meds induced "coma" condition.
I just hope I am not catching his cold.
Maybe the phrase, "getting old is not for sissies," is true. Some days it is just hard to get out of bed!



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In My Room

"There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it's dark and I'm alone
But I won't be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room."

These lyrics to the famous Beach Boy's classic have always been a favorite of mine. They have always spoken to me in a special way. We all need a place to go where we can be alone sometimes. I think that's what this song says to me.

For the first 10 years of my life, my brother and I shared a room. It was small. Just wide enough to house two twin beds with Mom's cedar chest inbetween. There was a super small closet at the end of the room and just enough room for a tiny chest of drawers to the left of the door. It was the classic "attic" room with the steeply pitched ceiling. One window faced the north. It was papered in "fake" wood look wallpaper.

When the parents built the new house, they said two bedrooms was enough, so brother and I still shared the same room. It was larger, but still had the same twin beds, cedar chest and chest of drawers. It didn't take too long for Mom and Dad to realize that their bedroom wasn't big enough to house them, their furniture and their clothes. So, they built on another room for themselves, with two large closets, lots of floor space and a wonderful picture window facing the lake. All of a sudden, I had a room of my own. It became my private sanctuary. I could sit in there and read, draw, or just daydream. It was always a mess, but I liked it that way.

In college, I lived in a variety of apartments, coops, and rooming houses. Usually I had a roommate. That worked pretty well most of the time.

When I married, of course I shared. Some of our houses had large bedrooms, some very tiny. When we bought this house, it wasn't finished inside, so we could decorate our room from top to bottom. Tilly chose "mauve" (a dusty pink) carpet, white walls and curtains, and then accented it with blues and white and pink. Very feminine, but she had a right to do her thing. I didn't really care. Until she passed away, it was "her room" so to speak. Since her passing, I have made that the one room that is totally mine. I ripped up the carpet and put down a neutral tone, yet on the gold side carpet. I painted three walls of the room what I call "milk chocolate," with the fourth wall a deep red. White woodwork and ceiling. I moved the queen sized bed upstairs and put a twin bed in my room. I have a TV, a CD player and a good reading lamp in there along with an antique sea trunk and an amoire. I made my own window treatments, and have accented the walls with some "music" art. This is where I go when the world seems to be closing in around me. This is where I do my sighing and my crying, my dreaming and scheming. It's also where I go to watch TV when Prof and Kiddo what to watch something I don't want to watch. It is also where I go to read and think.

I am not antisocial at all, and I love having my daughter and grandson here! But there comes a time when all of us need a place and time to be quiet and peaceful. I have it "in my room." Cool huh?

Peace, (when I want it)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

"Roll Out The Holly!"

Yes, we need a little Christmas now! I have had the blues this year more than most, about the holiday season. I just can't get in the spirit of the Season of Light. I am not sure why, but I know a lot of it has to being older, and alone. No, I don't live alone. Prof and Kiddo are here, but I am still alone.
There are a lot of festivities going on that I used to attend, but it's just not fun to go alone. And, there is another side to that coin, I haven't found anyone that I really want to ask to go along.
There's the bi-annual Madrigal Dinner. I used to perform with the Madrigal Singers. Now, I don't, and I don't attend the dinner anymore either. I don't attend the Christmas party at our church, and I probably won't go to the Choir Christmas party either. This is no one's fault but mine, and I know I'm whining, buy I just don't do alone very well.
I am not in the mood to shop this year. I don't know what to get anyone, and it seems like all my family has everything they want or need, so what fun is "more of the same." I asked for lists, and most of what the family wants is gift cards. What fun is watching them opening a gift card. And, I never see what they bought with the gift card. I hate to give money,too, for the same reason.
So, call me Scrooge! I have a few more days to get with the program. Today, I got outside in the 50 degree weather and put up some outside lights and wreaths. That was fun, and believe it or not, it helped. I have my tree up inside, and partially decorated. Lil Bro said not to overdo the tree in case the two baby grands decided to touch and feel on Christmas. He just did not want any of the old family heirlooms to get broken. So I bought some less expensive (can we say cheap) ornaments this year. It looks fine. There will plenty of years to have up the big tree and the old ornaments.
So, I am trying to think more positive and get more into the spirit. Maybe more snow will help. That is what the weatherman is predicting for next week. We'll see what happens.

Peace, not Bah Humbug,

Thursday, December 01, 2011

What I Read #83

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline: I have been a reader of Scottoline's novels for several years. I was not sure about this one. I thought it might be more geared to the ladies, but was I wrong. Yes, the story line is about a mom who goes to school as a volunteer lunch room mom, but it turns into a suspense-packed story when the lunch room kitchen explodes.
Rose McKenna is forced to make decisions that affect she and her daughter, Melly. In the aftermath of the explosion and devastating school fire, Rose begins to investigate just what happened. What she finds could get her killed.
Scottoline takes a normal school day and turns it into a nightmare. Beware! This could really happen. That's what makes it so scary.