Sunday, March 12, 2017

Winter not leaving us just yet -- and a few random thoughts


I'm afraid my good start on the blog this year kind of fizzled out.

But I'm back, and hopefully I will do better. I could make excuses, such as not having my personal laptop computer for the past several months which is a long story from which I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to stay I'm warming to the idea of a Mac. We will talk about that another time.

It has been a mild winter, to say the least, here in middle Tennessee. After the early January snowfall, we have hardly had freezing weather. And many days it has been just like spring.

But wouldn't you know it, just when we were about to put away winter clothes (well that's a stretch because I never store seasonal clothes, I just move the sweaters, etc. a little farther down the pole in the closet), it's winter again, just a few days before it's supposed to be spring.

This past Thursday, it was 77 degrees. An overnight thunderstorm brought in a cool front and highs Friday were in the low 50s. There was some talk of snow for the weekend but our local prognosticators talked of "conflicting computer models" and by Friday night when we went to bed, they were saying we might have a "dusting," if anything at all.

There was plenty of dust, all right, and yesterday (Saturday) morning, it was falling fast and furious. It barely hampered travel, however, and by noon it was done. By late afternoon much of it had melted away. I managed to get this shot while it was still coming down:




Our almost-spring snowfall served as a reminder that our weather around these parts can be pretty fickle, and it's a good idea not to get too accustomed to one way or another.

******************

Wife and I have made some short trips over the past couple of months. She went to the beach with some lady friends in February, during which time I flew to Dallas and saw my college roommate and a cousin.

We went to Atlanta to see Older Son and DIL, and to Huntsville to see Daughter and SIL, and learn the gender of our grandbaby coming in July (it's a boy!). And one weekend we drove over to Little Rock to see Wife's parents.

We are thinking of taking a trip the week of Easter since it appears nobody will be coming here. Those plans are tentative as of this writing.

Younger Son is leaving this Tuesday and will be traveling for work in the Southeast for about three weeks. He will crash in Atlanta with Older Son and DIL for a few days. He will not make it here but, given the close proximity, we'll take the opportunity to see him. Really looking forward to that.

******************

We sprang forward last night, one of Wife's favorite activities of the year. She loves the longer days.

Me? Not so much. I'm much more a fall and winter person than spring and summer. I detest hot weather and turning the clocks ahead is my first reminder of what is to come.

Truth be told, though, I like living in a place where we have some semblance of seasons. I don't think I would do well in an area where it was warm all the time. Neither would I cope well with long, hard winters.

Even though we have had a very mild winter, we at least know when the seasons are changing. I might complain when it's hot, but if I had to experience bitter cold day in and out for an extended period of time, I would, no doubt, complain mightily about that (not that I'm a terrible complainer, mind you).

So I'm probably just where I need to be.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Off to a good start

Last year was a good one on the blog and we're off to a decent start this year.

I had made a commitment in late 2015 to pick things up a bit in 2016, and managed to make 19 posts, the most since 2013. I realize that is far fewer than many of you, but with a day job and my weekly column, I think I'm doing OK.

I am sad to report I cleaned up the blog list over to the right, and took down some friends who had not posted in two years or more (and one of whom, sadly, passed away). There are some who are becoming more infrequent, but I've kept them on the list for now. I've prodded a couple with emails, telling them I hope they will rejoin the blog world, but assuring them I completely understand if they don't. I mainly wanted to tell them they had been thought of. To everything there is a season . . . and I get that.

I am pleased to have added several -- Ed, Vince, Sage, Kimberly and Bone, all of whom, like the others on the list, write beautifully of interesting events in their lives; or share about books they have read; or voice an opinion about something; or post a photo or two. I am enlightened and enriched when I read their posts, and appreciative of the time they take to share.

What it comes down to is how much I love storytelling -- both the telling (writing or, in some cases, photographing) and the hearing (reading) part, and that's what keeps me grinding out the occasional tale here, and returning often to see what my friends have posted.

I still shy away from what has become known as social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. I guess this is some form of it, but I think it suits me better than any of these others.

***************************

I had a few things to say about last year's election, and I assure you I am none too happy with the result.

But as the stages of grief go, I think I have arrived at acceptance, and I'm not going back to any of the others. I am still extremely skeptical of a Trump presidency but it's off the list of things I'm going into apoplexy over. Just not worth it.

**************************

I trust 2017 is off to a good start for all of you and I look forward to meeting you here, and on your blog pages, for more storytelling.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Christmas in Brazil



It was our ninth annual international Christmas Eve at our house just a few weeks ago.

That's right, for the past nine Christmases, we have chosen a country or region for our Christmas Eve dinner and had food, dress and decorations in keeping with the theme.

It started the year Wife, who felt she had just finished preparing Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, dressing, etc.), asked if anyone would object do doing something a little more non-traditional for our food at Christmas.

We ended up having a Christmas Eve dinner of Mexican food, a Christmas morning breakfast/brunch that I prepared and, later in the day, a fairly simple -- but delicious, of course -- Christmas dinner.

We all decided we liked this just fine. But we especially liked the Christmas Eve Mexican food, made more festive by stringing pepper lights in the dining room and playing "Feliz Navidad" over and over . . . and over.

A new tradition was begun, and since that year, we have had Italian, Greek, French, Asian, Caribbean, German and British Christmas Eve dinners.

It has expanded greatly, and Wife has outdone herself with food and decorations in keeping with the year's theme. We have an inventory in the basement of each year's props, and there is talk that one year we'll have a "festival of nations" where we'll pull it all out and have samples from each year!

This past Christmas Eve was Brazil, and it was another grand occasion. Wife chose the "Carnival" theme for decorations, and costumes (which are optional) included a Carmen Miranda look-alike, an Olympic 2017 athlete and some other Brazilian-themed adornments. At the table, as you'll see below, Wife provided a mask for each person.

Wife chose food similar to what one might find at a Brazilian steak house. I grilled an assortment of meats and there were various salads, vegetables and desserts.

For the past three Christmases, we have had our Christmas Eve dinner as usual. On Christmas Day the married ones have gone to the respective in-laws' homes, then we have come back together on the 26th to have our Christmas celebration.

This has worked well. Wife and I have committed to flexibility as our family changes and grows, and we know that sometime in the future, the international Christmas Eve might have to give way to an international December 23rd or some other date. Again, Wife and I have committed to ourselves that it's not so much about the date as getting together when we can.

And speaking of change and growth, we learned just before Thanksgiving that we will become grandparents in 2017!  Daughter and SIL are expecting in July and we are over the moon! 

Our Christmas Eve  was great fun, once again, and a tradition we hope to continue.

Here are some highlights from Christmas Eve 2016, and a family picture outside on a very balmy December 26:

                                                     "Christmas in Brazil"

                                                      The table, with a "Carnival' theme
                                                                    Masks
Daughter and SIL
                                                           Older Son and DIL
                                                           
                                                             Everyone outside on the 26th