Sunday, January 15, 2017

Of dealing with the Winter Storm of 2017 or Is the drought over?~~~



Hello Darklings,

It’s been awhile since I last posted,  and I’ve been busy.   Mostly with house repairs.

We had a terrifying storm here, winds were whipping things up and knocking trees over, flooding, mudslides and the reservoirs filled to capacity and over flowing. 

But I’ll get to that in a minute. 

For New Years Doyle and I celebrated with dinner and dancing on the USS Hornet, I was surprised my leg held up so well but it did,  many people wore period clothing, including uniforms from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s,  Doyle is ex-Navy and had his dress whites, he looked so Humphry Bogart in them.   I had a chance to see old friends who love to celebrate the same way. 

So we made promises to get in touch and visit with each other,  one of them has a vintage car that Doyle maybe interested in.  Sis didn’t come with us this time, she had been dealing with a number of clients suffering from Holiday depression, she said the best thing she could do was a cup of hot chocolate and bed and get plenty of sleep.

The weather was clear enough that we could see the spectacular fireworks across the Bay, I was curled up in my vintage mink coat and trust me Darklings, I needed it, a wool or down parka coat would not have been enough to cut the breeze coming off the Bay, I would have needed several layers of thermal underwear to be warm enough.  Doyle also wrapped his arms around me for added warmth, either me or him I’m not sure.  And then after an hour it was “Good night Ladies”  time to go home.

I swear celebrating New Years on the Hornet is like going back in time, you hate to wake up to reality the next morning, but it did come.   Now I have to remember to write 2017 on checks and such.

The children are getting over their colds, now its dealing with the aftermath the dry persistent cough, which makes the chest ache so much.   Both Chris and Coralline hate the menthol cough drops but it’s the only thing that works while at school, but everything tastes like menthol to them, they do like the Ginger and Lemon Tea (decaffeinated) That seems to help them a lot.  Of course they got prescription cough medicine so they can sleep at night.   It’s going to take a while.

In the meantime we had horrible, terrifying rain storms here, with high winds, flooding, mudslides, power outages and everything.   We lost power on and off for a few days,  it’s a good thing my heating and cooking is gas, but I worry every time we lose powder because of the refrigerator and freezer, but fortunately no food spoilage.

But the winds did a number on the house,  a few roofing shingles came loose and we had a leak,  I called a roofer and he nailed down heavy tarps until we got some dry days,  it got fixed but now the ceilings in two rooms are going to have to be painted.

And the WIND!!  It was a good thing I had glass protective panels put up in front of the stain glass windows, some tree branches blew against one of them and broke the protective glass, but the stain glass is fine,  I called a glazer and he came out and fixed that one for me, but another window may have to be done later, its one that allows light into the basement that got broken as well so we have it boarded up for now and have that fixed for later.

My water cisterns are full to over flowing, the good thing is the way everything is set up when it overflows it goes down this pathway and out into the street, the outdoor fish pond over flowed but I only keep my fish in the indoor one in the greenhouse, I only keep the free mosquito fish in the outdoor one, and by now a lot of them are swimming in some storm sewer somewhere.   There are some minor things like the screens on the porch are shredded I’ll have to replace those, but that’s minor compared to some folks that has had trees fall into their homes.   One of the trees in my yard lost a large branch but nothing broken.  So we survived very well compared to others.

I keep thinking of that opening line from that cumbersome Edward Bulwer Lytton novel where it starts with “It was a dark and stormy night….”   Suddenly the power went out!!  And just go from there. 

In spite of the chancy rainy weather, Sis and I are going to indulge in the 2017 Film Noir Festival, in S.F.  we’ll be staying at the Hotel Rex with special rates and it’s on Union Square close to the stores, some good eateries, and an easy 20 minute (depending on traffic) ride to the Castro Theater, we have our “Passports” for the series and are looking forward to it, this time our clothing will be more 1950’s early 60’s, think Kim Novak in “Vertigo” or Grace Kelly in “North by Northwest” and you’ll get the idea.   It will give us a chance to shop, indulge, rest and have some wicked fun. 

To me as an Elder Goth if you love old movies then Film Noir is the way to go, although this time they’ll be serving up some more modern fare but it’s enough to wet one’s appetite.   Doyle did promise to record my favorite shows while I’m gone including “Sleepy Hollow” which is back and “Supernatural”.

I’m not sure if I’m going to go on a wine tour in the fall this year, it depends upon a number of things,  health (which is good), budget (depends upon repairs beyond what the trust will pay), availability (always a variable), and mood (sometimes I’m just not into it) and other plans the look like more fun (always an option).

But I am hoping that Doyle will buy this vintage car that was offered to him, the garage is big enough to hold 3 vintage cars, but we only have my Buick right now, so we’ll see.

The other night I recorded “Creature Features” on North Bay TV (out of Santa Rosa) because they were going to have an interview with Karen Lewis, the 2nd wife of Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis,  she wrote a biography about Al Lewis and her, titled “I married a Munster” (play on words) and skipping the parts of  the movie, that tired chestnut titled “The Screaming Skull” it was enough for me to decide to buy a copy.  I remember “The Munsters” as well as “The Adams Family” although I think I’m more Adams Family, but it seems that being with Al Lewis must have been a fascinating life. 

The next big event on my list is the Vintage Fashion Fair in the Spring at Michaans auctions usually in May,  but I’m always on the lookout for retro things that would appeal to me.  

And now my Sister says that dinner is on the table,  it’s been so cold that we are having homemade clam chowder in sourdough bread rounds,  with a green salad with mandarin orange slices,  to get our vitamin Sea ( C) ok poor play on words. 

Stay warm my dark ones.

Later Darklings

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Of Happy New Year 2017~~~~



Hello Darklings!!

And a Happy New Year to all of you!

I’m going to celebrate with Doyle with dancing and merriment on the USS Hornet,  nothing like being on a freezing aircraft carrier floating museum on New Years Eve, but we will have a wonderful view of the Fireworks on San Francisco Bay.

I love that city, I love all of the Bay Area, in many ways it is so Film Noir, if you know where to look and in some cases it just jumps right at you. The only problem is that it's getting too expensive to live here for many folks.

Christmas was wonderful!   The rains held off and I had a buffet type dinner, and I had friends and other relatives who couldn’t stay, drop in long enough for refreshments, a bite to eat and then they were off to see other friends and family, but my core group arrived and we enjoyed ourselves.

We went to Church on Christmas Eve, there is something both solemn and joyous with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, it reminds us how a husband and his expectant wife had to take shelter in a stable with the animals and there she gave birth.   It really gives the true meaning of Christmas.

Of course for the buffet dinner the main feature was not the traditional “Christmas Goose” (which in America is substituted by a Turkey) no we didn’t even have Turkey, to make it easier on myself and Sis we had the “Honey Baked Ham”.   Yes Ham,  all though I did have sliced turkey breast as well, but the beauty about it being a buffet is that if someone unexpected shows up and it did happen, it was no problem to seat them, any spot with a cushion on the floor would do.   And the kids did sit on the floor. Don't have to worry about the fine china, good old "Chinette" paper plates work very well, but I did owe our garbage man an entire Apple pie, the recycling bins were overflowing,  which I had the chance to give to him, all nicely boxed up.

Trust me Darklings, bribery and showing appreciation does work wonders.

Christmas eve I was ready for drop-in’s with coffee, tea, hot cider and other refreshments and my selection of treats on my three tiered plates,  and I did have a number of drop ins from just a few minutes to an hour or so.   

During the holidays, I took Coralline and Chris to the ballet to see the Nutcracker,  to the Dickens Fair (twice), the holiday Zoo lights, and we drove to Christmas Tree lane and walked among the displays,  of course shopping.   We went to the Theater that had a special showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life”  it’s amazing seeing it on the big screen,  not a dry eye was around me, not even my eyes were dry. 

As I said Christmas is a wonderful time but it can be Gothic in its own way, the dark comes sooner, the sun is much later rising, the night air is colder, it is a time for Ghosts, but not so much for Goblins.

And lately for Elves, it seems that elves are  big thing this year,  even on a number of tree lots they were advertising the small table top trees as “Elf Trees”  I thought that made good business sense.  I like that description.

But now we are heading like a speeding train with no breaks into 2017.

 So far we are going into it with a few colds in the family,  Coralline and Chris and their Dad, my brother, are down with colds, although the children will be well enough to go back to school,  the twins so far are healthy as is their Mom,  Sis has the sniffles but no sign of the cold, I’m doing well having taken my vitamins and a few other things which I can’t spell, which is supposed to strengthen the immune system, because I do not want to miss the Film Noir festival.   So I’ve been dosing Sis as well. 

My leg has healed very well, I do use a cane when I go shopping because there is still some muscle weakness but the strength is coming back with the therapy,  Betty has been happy to be my house keeper,  I ask her if it’s too much and she says no because of the help from the cleaning service, and the fact that I have a brand new dishwasher,  the only time things have to be hand washed and dried is with the fine china and table ware, but we do it together.  The only place she won’t go into is the Library, some of my strange and bizarre things bother her, especially my Cabinet of Curiosities.   So I deal with that room with the light dusting and for heavier with the help of my sister in law and Coralline.

I know I have not been posting as frequently as I use to, but I hope to take care of that soon.

I do have to say I’ve been having fun reading murder mysteries,  I’m in the middle of a Janet Dawson one titled “Murder on the Zephyr”  it’s about the California Zephyr in 1952 and it describes the train and it’s trip beautifully and a murder takes place with the usual  suspects, I’m enjoying this one, and I found out that ME TV on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. is showing “The Night Stalker” with Darren McGavin!   I loved that show when it came out the first time, and now it’s back.    I have it and the two movies on DVD, but to see it on T.V. is such a treat, and Blacklist is coming back.   So I’m looking forward to the revived T.V. season. 

Now I need to go and take care of a few things, last minute grocery shopping, it’s going to be a mad house.

To all of you Darklings, have a safe celebration and Happy New Year for 2017.

Later Darklings

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Of Tea and Christmas~~~~



Hello Darklings,

Well we have been having some very heavy rain squalls here, the kind of weather where you just want to snuggle up on a comfortable couch, with a soft, fuzzy blanket, a good book, a cup of hot cider or tea, a fireplace burning either logs or candles, a good book, and a little dog or two to snuggle next to you.

And maybe listen to Midnight Syndicates haunting Christmas Music.  Alright Darklings I know for some of you Goth lovers maybe Midnight Syndicate is too commercial for you, but they are the only ones to come out with a Christmas Album that’s just on the chilly side, perfect if you’re reading a Jim Butcher Dresden File book.   Nothing like Harry Dresden to get your adult version of Harry Potter going.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Dr. Strange movie, I have to say that Sci-Fi and Fantasy has come a long way in films since the days of Ray Harryhausen and his stop motion process but I still think his Medusa was extremely terrifying or the Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee Dr. Who series.  I have not had the chance to see “Fantastic Beasts” or the “Miss Perigine School of unusal children” or what ever that title is,  I’m afraid I’ll have to get that on DVD. 

Dr. Strange in a word was FANTASTIC!!!  And Darklings I strongly, very STRONGLY recommend that you watch it all the way through the credits and a bit past the credits, why?  Because it hints of things to come.  So I cannot wait for the next one.  Cumberbatch or however he spells his name, fantastic!!  And I have to admit having the old one as a woman, some may say that is not part of the original background, but that was then, this is now and who is to say that women cannot be powerful---Remember "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".  I'd have to say that I liked how they expanded the back story for Strange, so where does he go from there I'd ask and am looking forward to it.  

 I still have to get my copy of Krampus, a perfect Gothic Christmas movie, just enough to send shivers down your spine.    But I don’t think my nieces and nephews would think it as a Christmas movie, they love “A Muppet Christmas Carol” with Michael Cain and when you think about it Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is really a Gothic Christmas story so it is perfect. 

I feel that Christmas is both sacred and gothic at the same time when you think about it,  the cold weather, the rainy storms,  darkness coming earlier and earlier,  the sight of seeing lights and getting your hands and feet warm, Christmas is also a good time for ghost stories as well, and then to top it off with Hot chocolate with little marshmallows floating on top.

That’s when both Sis and I indulge in getting flavorful sweet treats for our drop in visitors to try, of course if you’re diabetic that’s not so much fun, so that’s when you have to think of savory as well as sweet,  so Colby and Jack cheese bites on toothpicks help, or tiny English tea sandwiches or we hand out tiny pickle forks and that way they can use the forks to pick out what they want without using fingers, and those small sugar tongs help as well.

About this time of the Holidays is when I have my three tier serving plates out several with sweet and several with savory, and the scent of spice cider or lemon/ginger tea floats through the air as it is offered to guests,  I have to check to see if it’s a spare the air day or not, and have candles as well as duraflame logs ready.   

Lots of times I’ll have the inexpensive tea lights ready but I’ll mix in votive candle holders with scented candles and it will be either Cinnamon/vanilla or a bit more heady Frankincense,  I get the Stella Mar candles, Nob Hill Foods offer them, they are pricey at $1.49 each but worth it.    So I’ll put a couple of them among the tea lights especially if it’s a spare the air day, or I’ll burn a pillar candle or two of the same scent if I can have a fire, the warm fragrance seems to relax folks, and that is my intention.

Of late I’ve been having acquaintances of my artist couple over who are still dealing with the loss of loved ones from the Oakland Warehouse fire, the Christmas holidays are especially hard, they come over in the evening and find that I have everything (with Betty’s help) set up for a very late tea,  Sis plans on coming over after she has seen her last client and we talk, in a comfortable relaxed setting, Sis and I listen and Sis offers advice, or we just let them talk it out.  Boxes of Kleenex strategically placed, and my CD player playing instrumental music of a soothing sort, some holiday, some Kenny G, some classical.

We’ve been doing that for the last week or so, and happily when Doyle calls me before he comes home from his office I’ll ask him to pick up a few things, and he knows what I mean, Russian tea cakes, peppermint meringues, lemon cookies, raspberry and apricot thumbprints, dried figs, dried apricots,  a selection from Harry and David’s dried fruits such as mango's, and candied Kiwi fruits and pineapple rings, cut into bit size pieces.  And in a pinch, the Peteridge Farm entertainment cookies, and shortbread rounds.

But Carr’s Crackers especially the Entertainment collection is just perfect to put savory bits on, however if you know of someone who is allergic to nuts to direct them to the plate that has the Water crackers, the only problem is those folks who are allergic to wheat or milk, then you need to have the dried fruit or bits of veggies for them,  I’ve found that if I get really large carrots and cut the thicker half into rounds they make a decent substitute for crackers just put whatever savory you want on it.   

Now why am I talking about tea?  Well during this darkest time of the year and for anyone who is going through a difficult time of it, it seems that a tea seems to help, nibbling on little things while sipping something warm without it being coffee or hot chocolate, (which I reserve for late at night) seems to help the spirit.

Or just deciding to take it with sugar, cream or lemon, makes it a ritual and forces a person to start to think outside of their misery. 

And besides what is more Gothic than having tea while reading a murder mystery, it seems to me that is the perfect solution on a cold winter’s night.

But it seems that the tea solution is working for some of them, they relax, their tears dry, they still are sad, but they realize that they need to get into a positive frame of mind in honor of their lost friends, and they leave on a better note than when they came in. 

Sights, Scents, Sounds and Smells add to that warmth and taste and you have a physical remedy to begin to lift one’s spirits,  in a way I think tea shops with at least a gas burning fire place and cozy nooks, comfortable chairs –NO WIFI !!!  Soft gentle music, perfect to chat quietly or relax after a hectic day of shopping, I think Tea Shops should come back and give Starbucks and Peet’s a run for their money.

Or plan on a relaxing tea, in the afternoon, just you and a book, or a couple of friends to unwind or share discoveries, but it should not be used to plan anything, not a thing, just to unwind and relax and let the mind flow free.

Later Darklings