Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Of Wishing you all a Happy New Year for 2014!!!~~~~

Yes Darklings, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR 2014!!!

We have had our ups and downs this year, here in the States horrible weather conditions, bombings and other tragic situations, and overseas horrible events happening all over, from Europe, Russia, the Phillipines, Japan, Africa too many countries to name.

But here in the United States we've found reasons to hope and be joyful, from the rescue of a little puppy, to young women being found after being imprisoned for nearly 10 years, and the outreach of strangers to help other strangers.

Yes there are times when we wonder about humanity and the human condition and then glimmers of hope and compassion to remind us that all is not lost.

I know that in Asia and in Europe it is already 2014, and in just less than 12 hours here where I'm at, it will be the turn of the year, a new page to write on, a time to improve oneself, to improve relationships or decide which relationships are toxic to one's health and best left alone.

I do not make any resolutions, but I do make a list of what I need to do, yes a "TO DO" List,  this would include repairs or maintance to the house, cars, wardrobe, appliances, what to weed out, sort out, dispose of, donate,  putting together papers for income tax preperation, listing appointments both medical and dental to be made.  Updating my calendar for birthdays, anniversaries, speical events and occasions.

But all of this starts on January 7th---why January 7th?

Well this is something that I and my siblings learned from our parents, and I guess they learned it from their parents.

The true 12 days of Christmas is really from Christmas Day Dec 25 to Epithany or Jan 6 of the following year, in our Family the entire religious season was from Thanksgiving or the Sunday after Thanksgiving to and through Jan 6 Epithany,  from "Stir up Sunday" to "Three Kings Day".  We had our Advent wreath which here in my home we've been observing,  and certain days are set aside to put up the Christmas decorations and the tree, to fill the pantry and make ready both physically and spiritually.

Those Sundays we attended Mass were very important to us,  Mid-night Mass on Christmas Eve although tiring was important to us, and ususally we'd go after visiting relatives for that was how we spent the Day of Christmas Eve, delivering presents, checking on the Grandparents, calling from one house to the other to let them know we were on our way and if we missed someone it was understood that the packages could be found at one or the other Grandparents house, and we always finished at Mom's Mother's house for a late supper, enjoying the Christmas tree making sure Grandma was o.k. making arrangements as to who was going to take her to church on Christmas day, she always said to us that it was hard for her to go to Midnight Mass at her age, Christmas Day was good.

I remember the last Christmas she had and the $2.00 tree but that is a story for another Christmas time.

Then the days after Christmas, writing out thank you notes, putting away the presents received, carefully folding and storing the wrapping paper (if it could be saved), going through the envelopes to make sure nothing was overlooked and checking the return addresses to update the address book and to note any special notes in them. 

When we were children we'd play with out new toys or visit our friends houses to see what they got, if the weather was fine we'd play outside, if not then indoors and watching the sun when it got too low to hurry home,  but as I and eventually Sis got older we'd help out Mom, our older brother (later our younger brother) would help out Dad and we'd be doing lists of things to be done.

Then after we'd help the folks we'd visit our friends.

New Years Eve was mostly the family getting together at one or the other's home, it would be pot luck mostly nibbles and soft drinks, but at midnight out came the champagne, the children and teens would have sparkling Cider,  then just as the clock struck the 12th chime the front door would be flung open to welcome the new year, and we'd go out to the front lawn if the night was dry and yell out Happy New Year, tooting horns and cheering, one Uncle of ours always lite a small string of firecrackers on the sidewalk and we'd cheer and sing Auld Ang Sing, the neighbors would come out as well cheering and yelling,  sometimes dashing across the street to wish us Happy New Year.

Then after an hour or so, things would slowly pack up and we'd all trickle home wishing Happy New Year to one and all.  The next morning We'd get up, breakfast was not eaten unless someone was sick, we'd dress and go to Mass and then afterwards there was always a coffee shop or resteraunt open for New Year's breakfast, but if time was pressing Mom always had pastries ready for us to eat and then we'd go over to one of the Grandparent's house for New Year's Dinner, which was always served by 5 p.m. 

I remember New Years we'd always have Ham, Easter would be Lamb Roast, Halloween roast Chicken, Thanksgiving and Christmas was always Turkey (Impossible to find a Goose to cook but Turkey was a good subsititute.

Every Friday we'd always have Fish, espeically during Lent, I still like to have some form of sea food during Lent.

After the Dinner we'd break up into groups depending upon what was being done, but even way back then, NO Televison, No Radio except for music---it was hard on the men folk, with all the bowl games on, if the games were on before 5 p.m. fine because the women folk were putting together the dinner but during and after dinner completely forbidden, it was a social time for family.  I really liked the idea and fortunately my Sister-in-law is putting that into play.  It will be hard on my brother and the boys but really it is a good thing.

On the days after New Years, we'd start to take down bit by bit the Christmas Decorations in doors with the exception of the manger scene and the Christmas tree, any large outside displays would be taken down except the lights attached to the house.  My Mother always said that the Three Kings needed the light to find their way.  

By the next day, the first thing packed away was the manger scene and then bit by bit the ornaments were removed from the tree and laid out on the couch and over stuffed chair to prevent breakage, the tinsel carefully removed and saved (tinsel was expensive and dangerous to birds to eat), the light would be unpluged first before anything was removed, next was removing the tree skirt, then the last ornament was the angel tree topper, Mother always put it on the dinning room table for safety sake,  then the lights would carefully be removed or unwound from the tree starting from the bottom and slowly working upwards, carefully wound and wrapped so it would not be tangled next year, but somehow it always was.

Then Dad and my older brother would remove the tree from the water tree stand with Mother wrapping a towel around the cut stump to prevent water from getting on the hardwood floor and rug, Dad and my brother carefully carrying the tree out the front door and to the curb to be collected, it always looked so sad and dried up after its Christmas finery was removed, so Sis and I would tie a red bow on the top of it, sort of saying good by to our old friend.  When the Scouts started collecting the trees and we knew what it was going to be used for it didn't seem so bad, it was going to have a new purpose replenishing the soil.

Then out come the boxes to store everything way, oh it would be an all day project, Mother never cooked on that day,  Dad would call an order of food to a place called "Lola's Chicken Dinners", it was the crispiests, most moist, wonderfully cooked chicken we ever had, Nothing at all like KFC, it was the taste of home-made.   When there was a big all day project, we knew it would be "Lola's" that day.   We were sad when "Lola's" closed and then the building burned down, we'd hoped it would be reopened again, but times change.

However vacuming and sweeping tree needles for the next 6 months was a given, even after our careful cleaning when the decorations and ornaments were put away, a tree needle or two or three would always show up.  Mom would always say "I think it wants to let us know its never forgotten."   And that is going to be happening in my home as well.

So tonight Doyle, Coralline and myself will be getting together with Marissa and her folks and brother and young Chris and his parents for a family gathering at a speical place.  We're bringing Brian along, he's been on the phone talking to his ex-wife and children on the phone, making plans to visit during the Summer, I've just been in touch with My Sister while she is visiting her family and I've made arrangements to have our elderly neighbor watch Belladonna and Weiner Dog while we're out.   She is going to make sure they stay indoors because of the possiblity of fireworks in the area.

I've noticed in checking the Stats on my blog I'm being visited not only from the United States and Canada, but also South America, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Europe, Russia, China, Malaysia, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Germany, even the Middle East, so many countries, I'm glad that you find my blog of interest to you and of some sort of entertainment and perhaps a little insite to parts of the United States, although I am not typical of this country.

To you I wish you a very Happy New Year.

And there have been a few of you who post comments on my blog and take interest in what is going on in my life, to Rebecca, Trisha, Lucretia, Underground for Tea and others Thank you and I wish you all a very Happy, Safe and Wonderful New Year.

See You Next Year Darklings!

From Doyle and Myself Happy New Years Darklings

Monday, December 30, 2013

Of Oweing an apology~~~~

Dear Darklings,

Last night my niece Coralline was a little upset with me.

Why?  Well I've been a "bad auntie",   you see Darklings I have several e-mail accounts, one for work, a home e-mail account to stay in contact with family and a 3rd that I use in relation to this blog.

***sigh*** Well I have no excuse except that the holidays took my attention and caused me to overlook both my home account and my alternate account.  I am in big trouble not only with my niece but also with a couple of family members.

Of course Doyle tells me to plead "old age" that causes "memory loss" but I will not make that excuse.  I do admit distraction, and maybe I do not multi-task as well as I use to, but now I've posted a note on my computer to check daily ALL my e-mail accounts. 

Coralline in her youthful "take charge mode" now has a plan for her auntie to be better organized, espeically around the holiday season, right now she is sitting next to me make out a list of things that I need to be better organized in.

I'm not going to argue with her as a matter of fact I'm amused by her, and her seriousness about "taking care of auntie".   But she is right, I have noticed a certain amount of forgetfullness,  even at work I've started leaving post it notes so I'll know where to pick up where I've left off,  one co-worker calls it a "tickle file" to tickle the memory.

Well I guess it is part of the problem with the coming of old age, or "extreme maturity" as Doyle calls it.

Trisha, all I can say is "my fault"  but Coralline is happy that you like her card.

Must go Darklings,  Coralline says it's time to take the dogs for a walk and she has rounded up Doyle.

Later Darklings   : )

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Of More on Children's Fairyland~~~

Hello Darklings,

And Lucretia.

I looked into Children's Fairyland and you've must have gone in the early to mid-1990's because between 1994-95 Children's Fairyland officials admitted that the little park needed help and with the assistance of the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club they applied for and received Non-profit status, which gave them the ablity to apply for grants, receive money from bond issues and receive donations, with that they've been able to refurbish the park and add and expland programs.

Their web site is http://fairyland.org   During the summer months they have where parents and their children can have a camping sleepover in the park, reservations required in an area called Teddy Bear's Meadow as well as other events throughout the year.

Eventually Coralline and her younger brothers will become too old for it, at least for a little while not yet.

We had a quiet day, doing some shopping and even checking out a couple of antique shops, we're planning to go to Niles tomorrow to look at their shops just to see what they have, we take the back roads to it for a nice little drive and I hope the little tea shoppe will be open for tea, if not we can always have a small pizza at Bronco Billy's. 

I'm glad I've taken the full week off between Christmas and New Year's, Monday we're going to visit our friends that we met when they were doing their Estate Sale, to peruse their goodies, never know what might turn up.  And then Tuesday our New Year's Eve plans.

The time seems to go by so fast.

Must go, the timer went off and even the dogs are running into the kitchen, food a great motivator.

Later Darklings

Friday, December 27, 2013

Of The Days after Christmas~~~~

And all through the house, hardly a creature was stirring, except for a weiner dog with his new toy mouse.

Hello Darklings,

After the sunny days of Christmas today has brought in gray overcast, making any lighting in the house seem warm and cheerful.

Doyle, Louise, Brian and I spent Christmas Day at my Brother and Sister-in-law's house and she served a wonderful feast.  Turkey and stuffing, yams with melted marshmallows, brocolliie with cheese sauce, cranberry sauce and chicken gravy, roasted small new potatoes with butter melted on top, green beans served amondine,  fresh baked rolls, butter, olives and sweet pickles for garnishes, baked butternut squash,  followed for a later desserts a choice of Apple, Dutch apple crumb, peach, and pecan pie with or without ice cream (vanilla),  coffee or spiced tea, sparkling apple cider or hot spiced cider, and for the adults wine either white or red.

My Sister in laws stove was put to a heavy duty test and with two microwaves to re-heat anything that got too cool, and there were plenty of guests, besides my little party and my brother's family there was my sister in laws Mother, her aunt and her husband, a neighbor and his wife and their children, which made for a very busy and noisy household,  but my sister-in-law had it all carefully planned and laid out, having taken some lessons from me.

I was happy to hear from my Sister before we left to go to my brother's place, she was enjoying being with her family in Sacramento and enjoying the grandchildren, her latest one now just over a year old was born on Halloween over a year ago, which should make for a fun birthday party time as she gets older.  And her other younger daughter is getting married, this coming June----I pray it will not be a "bridezilla" situation, and her older daughter and son-in-law are in the process of buying a house in the Sacramento area, the one they are in is rental and they've had enough, as I was told the time was right, the price was right, the house although needing work (a 1912 Craftman) has lovely bones, the location is right, and the terms are right.   I couldn't be happier for them, and the deal should be finalized by New Year's Eve.  And her oldest son and his wife and family are transferring back to California, where he will finish out his 20 year hitch in the military.  What a way to start the new Year!

I was happy to convey that news to my brother and family.   Celebrations will become very interesting in the future.

It was good to spend time with my brother and his family, my sister in law banished video games and loud music,  no televison,  just conversation and board games with an occasion nibbling on the left overs,  no gift exchanges were done then, what we did was give our gifts to my brother just after the  party I had so the children could open them either Christmas Eve or Christmass morning,  except the children wanted to give Belladonna and Weiner Dog gifts who came with us,  new sweaters and chew toys, the squeeky mouse Weiner just pounced upon and squeek and squeek,  some times he'll come up silently behind someone and then squeek his mouse when we least expect it, making us jump.  Who says dogs don't know how to pull a trick on their humans?

 Then it was late and time to go home, Coralline came with us as she is spending the week between Christmas and New Years with Doyle and I, I told her that it might be a bit dull for her but she said she didn't mind, her homework was done she just needed to do a reading assignment, and as soon as we got home the first thing she said as we walked into my house was "Hello you wonderful Old House!"  and did a little pioret in the entrace foyer, Doyle and I looked at each other and sort of nodded about her greeting.

Doyle is going to visit his family in San Diego after the New Years holiday, his assignments kept him in our local area, which he is happy to finish up. 

Coralline and her friend Marissa go back and forth between our homes, they take the dogs for a walk as long as either Doyle, myself or Marissa's older brother is with them.  Although our street is realitivly safe, one never knows. 

They've made a friend of a young boy on the block Christian, but he prefers to be called Chris, he's the same age as Coralline I would have thought he'd be into video games like most boys his age or like Coralline's siblings but his parents are very strict on such things, they don't mind using the computer for e-mail and researching things but things like X-box and video games are not allowed, he's home schooled by his Mother but having interaction with Coralline and Marissa is good, and his parents plan on school type outings with other home schooled children, there are a few home schooled children but not many and to make friends with children on our block is important. 

Marissa's parents introduced me to Chris's parents and I invited them over for coffee,  so we'd get to know each other, I was afraid they'd be ultra Christian or fundamentalists but no, they wanted their son to have a certain educational advantage, he will be going into a private school after next summer so he can aquire what credits he needs to go into college.   He is a bright young boy and very gentle with the dogs.

As a matter of fact Chris's parents were a little afraid of me, I mean who else would rent a hearse with an antimated coffin with a vampire rising out of it to put in front of one's house for Halloween, and of course the Grim Reaper in front with fog rising and to be greeted at the front door by a female vampire with fangs could for some be a little heart stopping.  I took them on a tour of my home, and I think they expected a live lion to come walking down the stairs or the stair treads rising and them meeting "Spot".  

Once I explained myself as best as I could to Chris' folks they relaxed a little,  although I was glad that Coralline and Marissa didn't get dressed in black dresses, part their hair in the center and have long braids and carry headless dollies,  that might have put them off.  Of course it was hard explaining why I had a guilotine in the basement storage area, just off the laundry room, I told them I was storing it for a friend of mine until it could be moved.  Yes Darklings---I have a guilotine in my basement----temporarily. 

I've got plans for us for New Years, there is this place that will be open which will be perfect for fun family entertainment and Coralline has not been there, I ran it by both Marissa's and Chris's parents and they liked the idea although we'd go in our own individual cars incase any of the children became too sleepy and anyone needs to leave early.    Marissa's folks will have dinner at their house and we'll all meet and eat there and then we'd re-group at the location.

But New Year's Day will be a lazy day, sleep in, then go out to have breakfast, I'm not sure what else,  its sort of a feeling of having left an enchanted land of fun and wonder when the Christmas Holidays are over,  and the internal fear that if you leave it you can never capture it again. 

Unfortunately time marches on, the weather conditions change things get warmer, green leaves pop out, snow melts, for adults it's facing the bills to be paid, going to work, dealing with transportation and all the problems that develop.  The child-like wonder slips away like a dream that one can just barely remember.

Come the Day closest to 3 Kings Day will be time to take down the Christmas decorations, the live root ball trees will be donated to be planted in some forest or park,  the live no-longer cut trees will be put out onto the curb to be collected by the Boy Scouts or other group to be made into mulch for plantings.  The decorations will be carefully boxed up and stored away in their various areas the attic, basement, shed or garage, photo's from the holidays developed and hopefully labeled and put into albums, the Christmas card list gone over to check for updated addresses,  and resolutions to lose weight because our clothing is a little tighter.

There is a child's amusment park here in the East Bay called "Children's Fairyland"  it was built in 1950 as a family amusement park geared towards little children and was the inspiration for Walt Disney's Disneyland.  But this is a gentler amusment park with all the storybook characters like the old woman in the shoe, Mother Goose, the three little pigs, Alice in Wonderland, the reluctant dragon, Hickory Dickory Dock, and other Mother Goose tales.

But they have a policy no adult can enter without a child to accompany them, just adults without children are banished from this fairyland,  when I've taken walks around there with Doyle I've often looked at the entrance with longing, remembering the times when I and my younger siblings visited there with our parents.

And now slowly the magic of the Holiday season is slipping by, leaving us behind, the fairytale memories becoming dreams.  

It's like that last line in the song "Toyland"  'once you've crossed its borders you can never go back again'.


And now Weiner Dog has startled me with his squeeky mouse,  Hmmm nothing like a dog to bring one down to earth.

Later Darklings

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Of Christmas Eve and Santa Claus~~~

Hello Darklings,

It's Christmas Eve, and everyone I know are making final preparations for the Festivities.  Little Children are excited that Santa Claus is coming, parents are still wrapping and trying to hide presents, Daddy's are trying to put together bikes and other large items and trying to descipher incoherent instructions.   Mother's are running to the stores for last minute items of food and batteries (for toys).

Others are relaxing and planning to go to church tonight, volunteers are trying to get ready shelters and food for the homeless, those who work in jobs that does not reconize holidays are working tonight at firestations, police cars, hospitals and military bases to keep people safe.

Some of the elderly are receiving phone calls from family members far away, and some of the lonely are trying to find a way to not be alone.

Little miracles happen here and there, some big, some small.

Tonight my Sister will be in Sacramento with her family and grandchildren, Doyle, Brian, Cousin Louise and I will have a simple dinner at my home, then we'll go to a Christmas Tree Lane to enjoy the holiday lights, and then to Church for Midnight Mass.  Even though Brian is not Catholic and Louise is not much of a church goer they feel that for tonight it is only right.

Louise will be spending the night at my house and tomorrow we'll all go to my Brother's house for Christmas dinner and festivities, my brother said to bring them along, no sense they being alone.

For many in foreign lands Christmas is not well understood as a Christian Celebration but for us it is a time for caring and compassion during these difficult times.

Of late there has been a debate of "Is Santa white?"   How silly I think,  traditionally Santa Claus started in the Northern climes, typical of European locations, but he is an almalgamation of old Odin a norse god, and St. Nicholas a Catholic Bishop from Turkey who is also pictured with a long white beard and red and white robes, the Dutch children many centuries ago called him SinterKlaus for St. Nicholas, the Victorian era made him into a "jolly old elf" and thanks to a poem "A Visit from St. Nicolas" he gained a sligh and 8 tiny reindeer and a lot of magical properties.  The Coca-Cola ads from the 1930's, 40's and 50's gave us a final image of this magical being, and a toy book about Rudolf gave Santa a reindeer with a bright red nose,  later on in the 1960's NORAD got into the magical belief and started tracking Santa so parents could encourage their children to get to bed.  Television programs would have christmas episodes about Christmas events, further imprinting the magic of the season.

But is Santa white?  Well traditionally he started that way, but really Francis P. Church's editorial gave us the final explaintion of Santa. Santa is a speical compassionate spirit that dwells within each and everyone of us who take the time to help others in need.

Santa is of any gender, ethic background, of any level of society, and of any religious or non-religious belief, to use the name "Santa Claus" is to focus this spirit of compassion and love into action to help others who are less fortunate.   We tend to make him male but Santa can be female,  this spirit is with us always and is a earthly reflection of the "Light of the World" that came onto earth to teach us to love our fellow human being, no matter who they are.

If you give of yourself, your wealth, your earthly goods to help others you are "Santa Claus", just look into the mirror and you will see a reflection of that "jolly old elf", and I know you will say "But I have faults!"  Who doesn't, but to take time to help inspite of your faults also reflects "The Light of the World" during this darkest of times.

I know that people from all over the world read my blog, Russia, China, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ukraine, India, Poland, Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Phillipines, Australia and many European Countries as well as in North and South America.

And I have particular friends who post here as well, Lucritia, Underground for Tea, Trisha (pale lady), Rebecca and others.

I want to wish ALL of you a Very Merry Christmas and the Brightest and Happiest of New Years.

All the Best to you My Darklings

Monday, December 23, 2013

Of post Christmas celebrations~~~

Hello Darklings,

The Christmas Party was a success!   And I had more than enough food, all served buffet style, so people had a choice of goodies to nibble on, the idea of wearing Victorian or Dickens type clothing was well received and everyone got into the Dickens Mood, including my Brother's 3 boys the "3 stoogies".

I had several artist friends show up including our "ghostly" ones, one of them brought her pastles and sketch book and easel and did quick portraits for those who wished one.   Of course my Brother and his family, Marissa and her folks and her brother from college, my Policeman friend and his family, and several others, it is so interesting to bring together a group of people who have never met each other before and then get tossed into a social mix.

I had several CD's that played Christmas Music from old time Music Boxes, and kept them on rotation, no modern music last night.

Of course several areas were open for each group of people to settle into, the Formal parlor, the family parlor, dinning room, Library and of course the kitchen.  And it was a "Spare the Air" night so candles in the fireplaces. 

Once people had their fill and were relaxing I suggested several group games to them, the children were settled in the large entrace foyer playing Mexican Train Domino's which they enjoyed with relish, I'm glad that Marissa's Brother was the games master for them and help the two youngest which was the Officer's children, but my Brother's oldest Boy hung around the adults mostly, just taking it all in and watching Anita draw her portraits, she even did impressions of our games in the Formal Parlor, giving it a Victorian look.

I was a bit puzzeled by Steven's actions, not hostile but curious, so at one point I asked him to come help me get some more food from the kitchen and while we were there I asked him what was going on in his mind.  He was at first reluctant but with gentle prodding and of course saying to him that I knew something was "perking in his brain", he admitted that he had never thought of how people from the old days use to celebrate things, and he finally was beginning to see my home as something different. 

He told me that his parents house is always his parents house but for him it was a place to eat, play, sleep and do his home work, but now he was thinking.   I looked at him and said "You're growing up Young Man.  You still will do your Sports and be who you are but you are finally seeing beyond your nose."   He also admitted that Coralline's pranks on him woke him up, and now when ever his sister complained or "got happy" about something he'd listen to what she had to say.

I said that he was beginning to think like an older brother becoming concerned about his siblings.  He admitted that he didn't like growing up, but I told him all young people have to grow up, but to take in as much childhood experience as possible, to photograph it, write it down in a journal to never forget.  And to work with his parents on things, "Learn as much as you can from your Dad and Mom as possible, help them out with projects or taskes, if you are with your friends and they, your friends suggest something that sounds risky or illegal or harmful, avoid that, your friends may challenge you or say you're scared but just reply that you don't want to hurt your chances for college or a good job or do anything to hurt your body or shame your folks, if your friends still challenge you then tell them they are not good friends and leave them even if they taunt you, make fun of you.    Don't be afraid to tell your parents what your friends wanted you to do, it will be up to them to tell your friend's parents what they are doing.   Ask your parents for advise if you have a question and never be afraid to ask questions of them or us your aunt's, if we have the answers we'll give it to you or guide you to where to look."  

Then as we gathered up the serving platters I told my young, now beginning to grow up nephew to speak with Officer Roberts.  "Make him a friend as well, he can tell you what is legal or illegal, but never presume on that friendship."  Steven asked me what 'presume' meant and I said "There is a big dictionary in the Library look it up after we get these platters into the dinning room"    He did and came back to me and said he understood. 

I looked on the children as they were playing and I could see the changes from last Christmas, the girls and boys were taller and beginning to lose that "baby fat", I saw more seriousness in Marissa's brother's eyes although he was enjoying himself.  I saw my oldest nephew talking to Officer Robert's deep in conversation, my brother's hair was a little thinner and grayer, so was my sister-in-law's. 

Sis came up to me and said "You look very thoughtful" and I admitted I was and said "We're all growing up and growing older"  and she admitted she felt the same way but at Christmas time to continue to have a certain amount of child-like wonder and enjoy life and what we are blessed with.  With that I looked over at Doyle who was having a spirited conversation with Brian and Marissa's Dad and one of my artist guests. 

Then I heard someone playing on the piano in the Formal parlor, I realized that it was slightly out of tune but not badly, a string here and there, the piano is an antique and it's been a few years since anyone had checked it, Sis played it occasionally but it's been a year, so I made a mental note to have it checked out but right now I was enjoying the husband of our female ghostly artist play "Girl with the Flaxen Hair" and then the "Flower Song" from Lakme, he then launched into a lively redition of several Christmas Tunes and everyone joined in singing,  and laughing, he continued playing the piano softly so I turned off the CD player as he continued with some gentle Debussy, Chopin, and even Brahms, nothing intrusive. 

Sometimes one does get surprised.

But then the night was late, and even though the children were out of school it was past their bedtimes,  by midnight we bid the last of our guests goodnight and Sis and I put the leftovers away, and to leave the dishwashing for tomorrow, but at least with plates and cutlery that was all paper and plastic,  Hmmm the garbage man is going to have a lot to take but at least my Sister's garbage can will help out.

And now with letting everyone sleep in late to day I am going to start the wash up, the cleaning service will be here in an hour.  And then on to the next thing.

Later Darklings

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Of Last minute preparations and train whistles~~~~

Hello Darklings,

I'm just taking a short break while things bake in the ovens for the party tonight, everything will be ready by 4 p.m. but guests won't be by until 6 p.m. which will give me a chance to change clothing and look nice.

Coralline is putting the paper doyllies on the serving platters as I type this and Sis and Brian are baking some things at her house, her kitchen is now fully functional. 

Yesterday we took our last trip to the Dickens Faire which closes today, it felt good to immerse oneself in into a Dickensian mood.  Tonight we will wear our Dickens clothing as well.

But something a little strange caught my attention, why? I don't know except that I simply noted it in my mind.

Train whistles of all things, the conditions must be right for me to hear them, but it seems from 7:30 a.m. to now 9:30 a.m. I heard at least 5 sets of trains all "blowing for the crossings"  and then silence, now I'm not talking about each crossing, no, but like 15 to 20 minutes apart, 5 of them.  If I was a train buff I'd have a copy of the schedule of which trains were going by, passenger and fright.  But there is something about a Train whistle or in this case Disele horn that "talks" to people.

Of course anyone who works on the railroad or who is a train buff will know exactly what the whistles are all about.  And at the crossings espeically it is warning that something very big and powerful is coming, be careful -- danger, but at the same time as it passes it is also saying "Hello/Goodbye, I'm just passing through, glad to see you, hope you hear me that I'm just passing through."

If the train is going slow enough people near the road way will wave to the train, they don't know who the people are working on it, the engineer, the brakeman, the conductor and fireman, but these people have traveled across the country doing a hard job, in someways a lonely job and a friendly wave even from a stranger helps, and to get a wave back, it almost seems like luck.  

There is something powerful about a train, and espeically the old steam trains that would chuff, and huff with a regular tempo, that would make it seem alive, towards evening if one saw the rotating light moving around to illuminate the tracks, like a moving eyeball.   I feel that the best sense of capturing this feeling is in the movie "Murder on the Orient Express" with Albert Finney and a wonderful cast of actors. 

You see the people moving toward their train compartments, the hustle and bustle and each character with their own personality getting on the train, the baggage being loaded, the food and wines going to the dinning car, everything being made in preperation, but the train it stands quietly, silently on the tracks, its steaming breath barely moving, but waiting to stretch its iron muscels on the iron rails and gallop its way to its destination.

Finally the train is loaded, passengers are in their compartments, the doors are closed and locked, the conductor signals, and slowly the camera moves to the front of the train as it sits there waiting like a sleeping giant.  Then suddenly an explosion of light from its lamp, it has awaken and with the engineer gently coaxing it, the train begins to gather its iron muscels and pulls the cars slowly, steadily from the station, gathering speed until it is free from its "stall" and heads towards destiny.

It is one of the best film expressions of the excitement and power of a train and makes it part of the cast.

And it is also one of my favorite films.

But now for nearly the last 20 minutes all is silent, either there are no more trains for now, or the wind has gently shifted so the sound no longer carries.

And my little helper is asking me what is next to do.  So back to my party preperations.

Later Darklings
I couldn't find a train but maybe a trolley will do, if I had unlimited funds I'd find this house and retore it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Of My head is spinning around~~~

Well Darklings,

Christmas is a wonderful time, and a busy time as well.

I know I have not been posting much of late but I admit busy with preperations and gift shopping and of course work, I've been doing fill in for staffers that needed time off here and there so my schedule is not normal.

Coralline's folks will be dropping her off on Friday afternoon and she will be spending the weekend with me which is fine.  

Sis is excited as much of her house on the lower floors is done so for now she can start receiving clients at her home, parking will not be a problem which is good, but she won't be starting until after January 1.

The garden work will start in February but she wants to be sure that it will not disrupt things, much of the work is almost done and she is very pleased with it.

So This saturday we will be going back to the Dickens Faire one last time, and then Sunday will be my party,  every thing is in place, the food will not be a problem as much of it except salads, are ready they just need to be heated up.  The Salads will be done the day of for freshness. 

This is one of those times when I'm glad I've got a large pantry.

I'm also glad that I didn't shop at Target between Nov 27 and Dec. 15 considering the troubling situation with their cash registers being hacked and people's accounts stolen.   I managed to do much of my shopping before then, and even was able to buy things on line which was not compromised.  It is times like that that makes me want to stay "old-school" in financial transactions, something I'm considering more and more.

But now I must go, last minute things to do and get.

But I just wanted to say I'm still here, just busy and yes my head is spinning. 

Later Darklings

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Of "Faro-La Faro Li"~~~~

Oh Darklings!

That song has been running through my head all weekend and even today, it just won't leave my brain.  People have called that problem an "ear wigg" that is a song that just won't stop running in one's head,  but this one is from a Universal Horror movie "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman".

I think, with the exception of the 1943 "Phantom of the Opera" this is the only musical number from any pre-1950 Universal Horror Movie and it won't stop playing in my head.

Here are the lyrics---and I think there is a You Tube video of it as well.

From the film "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman" (1943)

(Curt Siodmak / Hans J. Salter)

Adia Kuznetzoff (Film Soundtrack) - 1943
Judy Kaye and The Scarlettes - 2003

Come one and all and sing a song

Faro-la, faro-li!
 Chrs: Faro-la, faro-li
For life is short, but death is long

Faro-la, faro-li!
Chrs: Faro-la-faro-li
There'll be no music in the tomb

So sing with joy and down with gloom

Tonight the new wine is in bloom

Faro-la, faro-li!

Chrs: fla, fli

Tonight we toast our happy host

Faro-la, faro-li!

For he's the man we love the most

Faro-la, faro-li!

He's barrel-chested, dipper-lipped

For drinking wine, he's well-equipped

But where's his chest? It must have slipped

Faro-la, faro-li!

If Franzec never drank at all

Faro-la, faro-li!

He might not care for alchohol

Faro-la, faro-li!

But since he drinks them by the score

He loves his bottles more and more

He even likes them on the floor

Faro-la, faro-li!

Now here's a pair of newly-weds

Faro-la, faro-li!

With love and kisses in their heads

Faro-la, faro-li!

Tonight theres only he and she

Just one and two, as you can see

But very soon they may be three

Faro-la, faro-li!

The wine tonight is nobly blessed

Faro-la, faro-li!

By such a lady and her guest

Faro-la, faro-li!

To them a toast, come drink with me

That they may ever happy be

And may they live eternally

Faro-la, faro-li!

Come one and all and sing a song

Faro-la, faro-li!

For life is short,  (break)  but death is long (stretch it out)

Faro-la, faro-li!!!   (copywrite Universal Studios I make no claim to this and present it only for your pleasure) ~~~~~ We had come home and we were all restless from our Christmas activities so we settled down to watch Svengoolie's presentation of "Frankenstien Meets the Wolfman"   (Where Wolf?  There Wolf.  Opps sorry wrong movie)  well they did the "Song of the New Wine (Faro-La, Faro-Li) and it got stuck in my head, my sister's head and Coralline's head.

Yes, Coralline had it stuck in her head as well, she was singing it as she danced down the hall to her bedroom.  Oh Dear, I thought, an "ear wigg"  and you have to be careful because you may start to sing it at the most incorrect of times.   I did that this morning at work after I had found an answer to a question and my co-workers looked at me with quizzical expressions so all I said was "EAR WIGG!!"  that explained it to them.

When we dropped Coralline off at her parents we warned her to not sing the song at school that the teachers might not like it.  She understood, but she said she could at least humm it, well at least that's a compromise, but I did warn her Mother just in case.

It's going to take time for it to get out of my head, I've been listening to other music but so far it is not working, I think I'll try Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song" next, it might do the trick.

Later Darklings

Of "Oh my goodness, we did it again! LOL~~~~

Yes Darklings,

We did it again!

And what was it???

Well last night the moon was so full and beautiful, a perfect gothic moon, with clouds gently framing it and having its moonbeams reflected off of them.

Brian had joined us for dinner, and he remarked about how beautiful the moon was, so Sis, Doyle and I joined him on the front porch (with Belladonna and Wiener Dog in their coats) and we admired the Moon in all its glory.

After a few minutes----well Darklings I just HAD to do it, I bayed at the Moon, then Sis joined in and so did Brian as we gleefully bayed at the Moon.  Belladonna and Wiener Dog joined in as well. 

But finally Doyle had enough or maybe he thought the neighbors would think we had really gone off the rails and said in his best Bela Lugosi voice or more like that fellow vampire in "Love at First Bite",---he said "Children of the Night!!!----SHUT UP!!!"

Well Darklings we do have to do that at least once a year when the Moon is full and bright.

Then Doyle said, "Now come on in, dinner is getting cold and I'm hungry"  Oh well, back to reality.

Later Darklings

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of Ice cicles and Jack Frost~~~

Yes Darklings!

Icecicles!!!  I thought that was something you'd find in the mountains in winter but there they were hanging from the back eaves of my back porch.

It seems there was some run off of sorts, and then we had a deep freeze and voila! Icecicles!  I had to wake Sis and Doyle to show them, and then I looked into the garden and there was deep frost over everything, like a frozen white blanket.

I have no idea if any of the plants, even the protected ones are damaged or killed by the frost, but there it was.

Poor Belladonna and Wiener Dog they did NOT want to go down to the patio and do their business,  we had to gently persuade them and then quickly warm up their paws, and we had their heavy coats on them too. 

But looking at the frost and everything I was reminded of that line from that song "...Jack Frost nipping at your nose..." 

So Sis and I were out in the back garden looking at things and then we looked up and saw a white frosting of frost on the roofs, almost like a very thin layer of snow that one would see in Christmas cards.  The front yard also had a coating of frost as well, in a strange way we were enjoying it, as cold as it is, it does feel like a Christmas should. 

Eventually the sun will melt it off and it's wetness will go (I hope) into the ground.  Doyle finally called us in to get warm with coffee and just as I was walking up the back stairs to the kitchen one of the ice ciles fell off with a serious sounding "thunk!"  Belladonna and Wiener Dog had to check it out, the looks on their faces..."What is this cold wet hard thing??  It smells strange.  Why are our humans so excited about it?"  Then Wiener Dog solved the matter by raising his back leg and marked it in his own male doggy way and Belladonna seemed to approve and they both trotted into the warm kitchen looking for their breakfast as far as they were concerned the situation was under control and food was on their collective mind.

Dogs and little children seem to know the situation best.

I have today off, which is good so I can make plans for the Christmas Party, we know what we are going to have, and the date is set, invites have been sent out with the suggestion of Victorian Dress. 

Mostly I'm just making sure everything that will be needed is in place and also to see if there is anything else that needs to be added.  I've made arrangements for my cleaning service to come in the day before for a quick brush up.

We are going to have Coralline again this weekend starting on Friday, my Brother and Sister-in-law are going to send the Boys over to my Sister-in-Laws mother's house so they can do the Christmas Shopping for the children's gifts.  Mine is already done, the advantage of being able to go to work and have good stores to shop in nearby, and mail order, although I had to hide them in the upstairs storage room with the door locked so they won't find it.

One thing I started years ago, but I also got permission from my Boss was to have packages delivered to where I work, that way it avoided the possible front porch theivery that has been happening especially lately.  It is something I do suggest to all you Darklings if you do mail order and to let the mail room know about it as well or whomever receives mail or materials from Fed Ex, UPS or DHL or other couriers.  It does save headaches and heartaches.

Christmas is both an exciting and quiet time of year, exciting if you are a child or a harrassed parent, and quiet if you live alone and family is far away.   It is what one makes of it, but it should never be a sad time.  I know a couple that are about my age, maybe just a little older.  They had no children, and each were only children themselves (that is their parents did not have other children),  they met, both sets of parents had passed away so they were alone, they both worked, have a nice modest house, but the Holidays when they were first married was hard on them until they resolved to not have the holidays be a lonely time for them.

They looked for seasonal events to enjoy which perked their spirits up, looked into things to do and eventually joined several organizations that were into historical and period events and preservation, they told me they had to look outside of themselves and their personal lives, to reach out, by doing that they found that the holidays did not have to be a lonely time.  But I asked them "What do you do on the actual Holiday?"  Meaning Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  

And they told me "We start the Day with the exception of 4th of July, with Church, we go to a service to help put us into the proper mood,  being Catholic we will do with Easter and Christmas several services,  There is a late night Easter vigil mass that we attend, and then the next day Easter Sunday we attend the daytime mass as well,  we know of several places that have breakfast, and we have already made reservations for Easter Dinner too, but the Missus also has desert waiting at home.  Depending upon the weather we go for a walk at one of the formal gardens and enjoy the blooms to revive our spirits.   And then in the evening with desert we'll watch a film that has religious meaning,  last time it was "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"  a fun film.

For 4th of July, that is picnic time, but we dash early to see a 4th of July parade, we have our chairs and such and coffee and donuts, and it can be chilly in the morning so a blanket,  then a picnic on the beach followed by a tour at one of the historic military sites or we may reverse that depending upon time.  Dinner is always out at one of the nicer places. 

Thanksgiving (he told me) well that is very speical, we decorate the house with little things for Fall and then we volunteer at one of the charitible Food Kitchens and help out,  as a matter of fact we do it on a regualr basis but on Thanksgiving we make sure we're there.  Then later we have our dinner and watch "Miracle on 34th Street".   The days following we go all out to decorate the outside for Christmas, our neighbors son helps us.

And during the Christmas season we'll over the the years we've come across various events to attend the organizations we're members of offer speical events, but on Christmas Eve we attend Midnight Mass and then the following Morning a morning Mass, and once again we volunteer at the Food Kitchen, we're never alone.  
There are little things we do, Toys for Tots, Dickens Faire, and then the October fests and Harvest Festivals, all kinds of little things. 

But New Years, we'll that is speical for us as well New Years Eve if there is a Dance on the USS Hornet we attend that in period attire, and welcome the new year in,  The following Day we go to morning Mass, we have breakfast out and we have made reservations for dinner, again depending upon the weather we see what might be open to see, sometimes its a speical event at a museum, or something.  But we alway keep ourselves busy and do things so we are always never alone, even helping out at charity events.  We're older now so we do have to pace ourselves but even though we don't have family or children, sometimes the world needs folks like us to just be there."

I was surprised by their sense of purpose but then I could see what it is that they are doing,  to never look inward but always outward.

Later Darklings 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Of Computer problems and possible phone lines~~~~

Dear Darklings,

I seem to be having more computer problems with my old (13 years old) computer, and Doyle, bless him uses his for his work as well as Sis and Brian.  

The computer that I use mostly at home if for my personal 'pleasure', and so I do not want to in any way compromise the other's computers and even the one I use at work is now a shared computer, some cut backs in expenditures.

Now it could be the computer or it could be the phone line connections across the street, espeically after that horrible wind storm, and I've noticed that when a Comcast worker works on the lines, I always seem to have trouble and have to call my phone company to get it corrected.

But right now we haven't a clue if my computer system is finally degrading,  or the phone lines,  I really don't want to buy a new one,  but we'll see.

So if Darklings I do not post for a while or its sporatic that is why. 

I hope to have it worked on next week, right now things are very busy.  So next week will be the earliest (hopefully) to have this worked on and resolved one way or the other.

I've been told that this computer is positively "ancient", but I'm not big on buying the latest thing for personal use, only if I have to.  Even my cell phone is just a cell phone, no apps, no text, no blueburry or blackberry or android and only for emergency use anyway.   

Some people call me a Ludite, which is fine if it means keeping life simple and uncomplicated. 

But I felt it only right to give warning to all of you who are following my blog.  Do not worry, I'll continue to post until the last minute.  Then I'll come back with a vengenance.

Take care My Darklings and Enjoy the Holidays!

Later Darklings
I seriously hope I do not have to put my computer out of its misery, but if it keeps acting up I may do something drastic!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Of an Update on "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"~~~~

Dear Darklings,

I received so many quirys about the people who were involved in that remarkable letter about Santa Claus that I decided to do a page on it, for easy reference and if anyone wants to, to print out and read to your friends.

I guess its my Christmas present to all of you from around the world, in far away countries that don't quite understand our outlook on this holiday, but for many of you who do, well....Enjoy!

Later Darklings

Monday, December 9, 2013

Of Decorated Christmas Trees and the Dickens Faire~~~~

Hello Darklings,

I hope all of you here in the Northern Half of the Equator are staying nice and warm and are doing your best to not drive on snow laiden roads.

We here have only encountered just small patches of Black Ice, but our mid-west and eastern states are having a difficult time of it. 

I didn't have a chance to post this weekend, we were busy---yes busy---having fun!

Friday evening I asked Coralline if she wanted to go to a near by tree lighting ceremoney but she said that she was having too much fun decorating our own trees and why couldn't we have our own tree lighting ceremony, well given how freezing cold it is out side we all agreed.   Sometimes a child can be wiser than adults.

We got the lights on all the trees and their tree toppers,  I don't have to say what hard work Doyle and Brian put in to mount the trees up in their stands.  As any one knows that's the Man's job, and not like that fellow in that commercial being chased by a bear.

And with Christmas music playing and candles lit in the fireplaces we started welcoming Christmas into the house,  I have a fresh wreath out on the front door with red, black, ribbons and gold flakes on it, I know black ribbons??  Why not?  Just a touch of Goth for the holiday season.

We managed to put a few ornaments on the tree in the Formal Parlour before it was too late in the evening, because Saturday we were going to the Dicken's Faire.

Marissa and her mother joined us as we all bundled into Doyles van, all 7 of us, yes besides Doyle, myself, Coralline, Sis and our guests, Brian joined us as well.  He felt a little out of place not having a semi-victorian costume to wear, but Doyle fixed him up with something and at the faire he bought the correct type of hat, once he saw what it was all about he just had to get into the "swing" of it, just like us. 

The sights and sounds just swirled around us, sometimes too much to take in all at once, so we made plans to attend again next weekend, when we arrived home late in the evening it was like we didn't want it to end.  So we remained in our Victorian clothes until it was time to retire, and Brian made an interesting proposal, that during the Christmas season why don't we, as a group go out dressed in Victorian attire, just to throw off the "normals"  espeically when we do our shopping.  And when I have my Christmas party, make the suggestion of Victorian style clothing suggested but not required.

I thought it would be a wonderful idea, perhaps make it a sort of tradition. Althought I'm sure my brother would be thrown a bit off by that, but I knew my sister-in-law would leap at it and maybe the boys would get into it.

We have plans to go to Dunsmuir House for their Holiday events and tours, one never knows what one will discover among the crafts there.   Yes this is the same Dunsmuir House as seen in "Burnt Offerings", "A View to a Kill", and "Partners in Crime" and other movies.  It has its own web site and it is so wonderfully Edwardian. 

Brian has become part of our little extended family, I think its because his family and ex-wife live so far away and the demands that his work makes of him, he is glad to have a job right now, and it seems that Sis's and my home have become his home in a way.  Oh he travels to his job, and he does work from Sis's home, but it is not unusual for him to come through the back way and yell out "Hey is anybody home?"  Of course he checks the driveway to see if the cars are there, but if the back door to the kitchen is locked well he knows not yet.  I know that may seem a bit too casual, but for as long as I remember we never locked the back door unless we were leaving the house or when we retired for the night.  And with the gates and fences it would make it hard for a casual burgler to try and gain entrance.   We delibrately put in squeeks in the gates anyway, its an audio tell-tale. 

And he is ofter at my house for dinner but he's very big in washing up the dishes.

Cousin Louise has been busy with her lawyer, although it may take time for her divorce she is making sure that things will go just the way she'd preferr.  I keep asking her if she plans on buying a car since right now she uses BART and Bus and she says she will but taking public transportation for now is just fine to get her to work, and there is a small deli/grocery store just down the street where she gets the basic things she needs.   She is settling in just fine in her new place and her friend has been helping her out.

I've had some people ask if Cousin Louise is the same Louise who was my temporary caregiver, no they are two different people, at one time Louise like Jackquiline was a very popular name.  Many young ladies when Jackie Kennedy was first Lady were named for her during her days in the White House.

My stove is working out just wonderfully,  I've had people ask me about the repairs from the fire, much of it was taken care of quickly, my Contractor being an old friend was more than willing to hold off asking for payment, and when you have a good friend like that you do want to make sure that they are paid as soon as possible and not put them in a financial bind.  There are only a few little things to be done but I'm going to wait until the warmer weather comes.

Getting back to decorating the Christmas Trees, well with Marissa's and Brian's help we were able to get them decorated very quickly on Sunday and get the house hold decorations up as well,   Dinner was buffet style with goodies from the Deli section from the grocery store and chicken wings and drum sticks, 2 kinds of pie, and a selection of salads, Marissa's parents joined us and we all sat around in the family parlor, its a good thing I have a number of wooden T.V. style trays, they were a help although Coralline and Marissa insisted on eating on the ground picnic style. 

And now with candles burning in the fire places with the scent of cinnamon and vanilla, I am going to tackle addressing Christmas cards.

There is something very old-fashioned and in ways very Gothic about Christmas Time, oh it is the season of merryment, but the Dickensian quality of the time feels just so right for an elder goth, a time of darkness trying to take over but light beating it back, of soaring gothic churches, stain glass windows, of candles, and night but not the night of Halloween but still when the winds come and roar, and the rain lash down, you still get the feeling of old Hern the Hunter and the wild hunt catching any unsuspecting traveler, of snow draping cemetery monuments softening their harsh lines, of silence and chillness to make one think and clear one's own thoughts and discover what is important in one's life.

Its of prepareing for the cold of January, and hoping to see the first buds trying to break the ground in February.   Yes, Christmas in its own way is very Gothic.

Later Darklings

Friday, December 6, 2013

Of Black Christmas Trees an Update~~

Hello My Darklings,

I need to clairfy something very quickly, I went to B,B & B for some things but across the parking lot I also went to a hardware Store called Pagano's, and that is where I found the Black Christmas Tree, it's $299.00 but it will last for a long time and you can use it for 3 holidays instead of two (Halloween, Christmas and New years)

Pagano's is located in Alameda.  My Parents use to say "If Pagano's doesn't have it, it doesn't exist."  But I have since suplemented Pagano's with Vermont Country Store, and Victoria Trading Company.  This Pagano's is in the same shopping Center as B, B & B in Alameda.

So Lucritia that is where I found my Black Christmas Tree.   But I do believe one can find them on line as well.  But try to avoid going on a Saturday, that is when the Foodie trucks are out and it's competing with the portable ice rink, it does make parking very difficult.

Must go,  we are still tree trimming, and 4 of them this time!  What have I got myself in for?

Later Darklings

Of Freezing Cold and maybe other things~~~~

Oh Darklings!!

It is so cold that the outdoor pond froze over, Doyle was out there this morning cracking the ice, so we've put up a plastic cover over it to prevent that from happening again for the next few days,  the pond in the green house with the Koi, is fine and some potted plants have been moved in there when we got the freeze warning. 

Even with the heat on there is still cold spots in the house,  we've been checking for draft spots and have found them,  all we can do is put up old moving blankets over the doors and along the bottom of the doors to keep the drafts out. 

Of course we are wearing our warmest clothing, sweaters, socks and in some cases fingerless gloves for indoors, even Belladonna and Weiner Dog are wearing two sweaters each and do not object to being covered with throw blankets.

Some of the suculents have been frost bitten, but we hope to save them, and other more delicate plants have been covered,  this is the coldest it has been in this area in over 104 years,  fortunately no problems with our water pipes, even the outside garden ones have been wrapped to prevent freezing.  There are birds in the area so I've put out food for them, but we found a squirrel this morning in the garden, we fear the cold may have killed it.  I was sad to see the poor little thing but Doyle said that this winter freeze will prove which one's are the healthiest and hardiest,  I will put out sunflower seeds and walnuts for them, at least give them a fighting chance. 

We've had Brian come over and stay with us, that way he doesn't have to contend with the heating system in Sis's house, which was going to be replaced anyway. 

Coralline's school closed early today and we have her and we'll be bundled up to go and do our tree selections, it will be a tree for the formal parlour, a smaller one for the family parlor and a tiny one for the entrance hall, plus yesterday evening I stopped at my favorite hardware store just across from Bed, Bath and Beyond, to pick up a few things like curtain rods and there I saw it.

Yes Darklings, you can find Black Christmas Trees.  There it was in all it's 7 foot glory, of course its artificial, but I was thinking that the Library is large enough for one, and this was perfect in its Gothicness, I was able to buy, are you ready for this?  Black ornaments and I offset it with red one's as well,  so with red and purple lights on it and a red velvet tree skirt it will be just perfect for its strangeness,   I had been wanting to get a artifical black tree anyway for Halloween and this will do just fine.

I have to laugh when I think of in the 1960's and 70's those aluminum christmas trees with the little pom-poms on the tips, and you had to use a rotating light to light it up.  Thank Goodness our parents didn't fall for that fashion, some of my friends parents did with a few of them having a problem of their tree's going up in flames, well some of my friends thought it was fine to put lights on those trees,  Opps!  Didn't know it could burn.  And there was some sad Christmases because of that. 

When I told Coralline about the Black Tree she was excited about the idea, so this weekend we will be busy, putting on lights and decorating.   But we are going to the Dickens Faire first, must get that in.

But tonight it will be a good hot beef stew, with crusty french bread, and hot spice tea to drink, and hot apple pie.  I think we'll be able to at least put the lights on the trees with all of us working together.

So we'll have a total of 4 trees, 3 fresh cut and one artificial.  And we'll spend the evenings putting up the decorations, nothing could be more fun and in a way relaxing.   We are going to have Coralline for the weekends for this month and for the week after Christmas.  She is looking forward to that, even though her brothers have been much nicer to her, no more tricks or anything like that.

Right now she is tugging my sleeve, yes time to go Doyle has his van ready with ropes and canvas and we have blankets in the van to keep us warm,  so Tree selections it is.

Later Darklings

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Of "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"~~~~

Dear Darklings,

I thought I'd start the Christmas Season off with this post, my friend Mean Kitty posted it on her Blog but has given me permission to print it here.  Her thoughts are that more people should read it and it should be sent around the world.  I apologize for the spacing but for some reason that is how my computer copies my friends post.


Over a hundred years ago, a little girl by the name of Virginia O’Hanlon had an 8 year old crisis of faith.

It all started when little Virginia had a birthday in July of 1897 and it must have been a very nice birthday, however in September, when she went back to school her school friends must have asked her
“what did you do during the Summer” and she must have told them about her
birthday and the presents she got--- during that moment she must have said out loud “I wonder what Santa Claus will bring at Christmas?”

Now it must have been a nasty 9 year old boy who told her that Santa Claus

doesn’t exist (boys are like that you know—he must have received coal in his

stocking from last Christmas) but Virginia believed in Santa Claus and of course she went home crying and must have told her mother, her mother being busy as a mother is may have said “I’m sure Santa does exist” but Virginia wanted it from an authority, and to little girls the best authority or authority figure is Father.

When her Father came home she put the question to him. Virginia’s father was a

doctor and worked as an assistant coroner with the New York police dept. Both as

a doctor and as a coroner he must have seen the very sad and seamy underside of

life that he wanted to protect or shield his family and especially his young daughter from those horrors of life.

1897 was also a very skeptical period of time, the Civil war was barely over 33

years pervious and even though 3 decades had passed there were still very hard feelings and loss from that most horrible war.

It had become a skeptical age, many people were no longer believing in God, if a God could do all that harm, then God did not exist, so thought many people.

Dr. O’Hanlon was dumfounded when Virginia tearfully told him what had

happened at school. But he was a resourceful man, he knew he didn’t have the

words to explain this to her, nor did he want to burst her belief in Santa, but

here was an 8 year old child, a little girl, slowly, timidly knocking on adulthoods’ door.

From time to time in Dr. O’Hanlon’s household, if there was any question to be settled Dr. O’Hanlon and other members of his family would write to the Question and Answer dept of the New York Sun Newspaper. And Dr. O’Hanlon had the habit of saying “That if it’s in the Sun, it’s so”. That was how powerful journalism was in those days. So he

suggested to Virginia to write to the Sun Newspaper.

The Sun was a very lively newspaper in its writing and editorials, back then

The Sun and other newspapers would always write editorial rebuttals to other newspapers, this was a form of rivalry. The Sun remained being published until the mid


Surprisingly Virginia’s letter did not go to the Question and Answer column, it

was re-directed to the Publisher of the newspaper a Mr. Mitchell who read it and

thought that it would be best to answer it as an editorial and the best man for

the job was Francis P. Church.

Church was the son of a Baptist minister the Rev. Pharcellus Church, Francis was

the middle son of three boys and surprisingly his eldest brother Marcellus and his

younger brother John Adams were better known than Francis, even their Father was

of some renown having established a publication on religion. Francis and his

older brother founded the Army and Navy magazine in 1862 and later the Gazette

magazine which was later bought by the Atlantic Monthly, both brothers acted as

correspondents during the Civil War until Marcellus joined the Union army and

attainted the rank of Captain, Francis continued as a war correspondent.

Younger brother John Adams became a famous mining engineer and later in life was at

Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the gunfight at the O.K.Corrall.

Francis was an editor in 1897 at the Sun and was frequently handed any

assignments that dealt with theology. Because of his life experience Francis P.

Church was a sardonic personality and had no time for “fluff or flummery”. His

was a logical type of thinking and he, like many others had been affected by the

loss of humanity from the Civil War.

Mitchell handed the letter to Church who at first refused it, thinking it some

sort of joke, but Mitchell said it wasn’t a joke, so with great resignation

Church took the letter and began to work an editorial about it.

What he created was a 500 word editorial masterpiece for its day and it added to

the idea of Santa Claus as being a spirit of belief in a skeptical age.

In reading little Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter, Church realized that here was a child who was approaching adulthood. To just say yes Santa exists would not be enough, he had to explain what Santa was, in a way that was acceptable to children and also wake up the minds of adults to have “goodness, compassion and love” in their hearts.

Church realized that Santa was bigger than a grown up, that is was a question of faith in times of adversity.

Something inspired Francis P. Church, a man that had no time for “fluff” or

foolishness, something that made him dig deep into his soul to create such a masterful editorial.

Now this editorial did not run in December of 1897 but in September of that

month and was the 7th of 12 editorials that ran on page 10 of the Sun. But there

was something about it that captured the minds, hearts and spirits of the

reading public.

Most of the time when any newspaper ran an editorial, especially about a

controversial subject other newspapers would do editorial rebuttals---but this

editorial about Santa Claus, no newspaper dared to write a rebuttal----

It was the Sun’s policy to not give any editorial credit but have it as a Sun

Newspaper response; no one knew that Francis P. Church wrote it. The Sun never

republished it although there was great demand, finally 6 years after The Sun

did, still not crediting Church---when it was republished it was with this

snippy phrase “…that perhaps people’s scrapbooks were wearing out.”

In 1898 Church married, but had no children and continued writing at the Sun

until several months before his death, he died in April 1906 after an illness of

3 months, and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

So great was his loss felt that the Sun took a remarkable step and announced that

Church was the author of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” and the

following December the Sun started re-printing the editorial on an annual basis,

many other newspapers followed suit. As a matter of fact other newspapers had

started re-printing it when the Sun didn’t.

The letter that little Virginia sent was mailed back to her by an assistant

editor and is preserved along with the original editorial by the grandchildren

of Virginia O’Hanlon.

What happened to little Virginia---well as all children she grew up, went to

college became a school teacher, married for a short time, had a daughter, and

taught school for 47 years. During her adult life she received many letters

about that remarkable question and she answered every single one and included a

beautifully printed copy of the letter and the editorial reply. She said that

reading that reply in the Sun affected her course in life for the better good.

She died in 1971 at the age of 81 and is buried near Rochester, New York.

It was feared that the letter she wrote was destroyed in a house fire, but some

years later it was found safe and sound, and was shown on Antiques Road Show in

1998 and valued at over $50,000.00 for its remarkableness, but even the antique appraiser conceded that the real value of the letter was priceless.

The brownstone house that Virginia lived when she wrote the letter suffered a

fire some years later and at the time was considered too badly gone to be preserved.

It's true that it was badly deteriorated, but later upon further inspection, it was considered savable. As a matter of fact it has been saved; a New York Times News article, did a story that a college prep private school did a major fund raising effort and bought Virginia’s home and the house next to it. Had it repaired and restored---joined the two

buildings together and made it into their permanent home for their school.

The principal said that it was very interesting that the school was founded the

same year that Virginia O'Hanlon passed away, 1971----that Virginia was a school

teacher for 47 years and now her old home is going to be a school---it was only

right and a proper fitting end to the story.

And the school is also going to put up a memorial placque commemorating the

event of the "Yes Virginia" letter.

As I said a right and proper fitting happy ending to little Virginia's story.

But for us adults it’s better that Virginia always be an 8 year old child in a Victorian skeptical age that asked a simple innocent question to be answered by a man who has seen too many disillusions in life. In doing so it has given them both immortality and it is, perhaps the best description of the true meaning and idea of “Santa Claus” and Christmas.

So without further adieu I give you


Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter

to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick

response was printed as an unsigned editorial

Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman

Francis Pharcellus Church has since become

history's most reprinted newspaper editorial,

appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages

in books, movies, and other editorials, and on

posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa


"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'

"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?



The Reply:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have

been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical

age. They do not believe except [what] they see.

They think that nothing can be which is not

comprehensible by their little minds. All minds,

Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are

little. In this great universe of ours man is a

mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared

with the boundless world about him, as measured by

the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of

truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists

as certainly as love and generosity and devotion

exist, and you know that they abound and give to

your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how

dreary would be the world if there were no Santa

Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no


There would be no childlike faith then,

no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this

existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in

sense and sight. The eternal light with which

childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not

believe in fairies! You might get your papa to

hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas

Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not

see Santa Claus coming down, what would that

prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no

sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real

things in the world are those that neither

children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies

dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no

proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive

or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and

unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what

makes the noise inside, but there is a veil

covering the unseen world which not the strongest

man, nor even the united strength of all the

strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push

aside that curtain and view and picture the

supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real?

Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing

else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives

forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay,

ten times ten thousand years from now, he will

continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


Thank you Mr. Church.

Later Darklings

Of a Quick Holiday Update~~~~~

Hello My Darklings,

The Christmas Holidays are here!  Hooray! Hooray!!!   I know why should I an Elder Goth be cheered by the Christmas Holidays?

Well, Dear Darklings, the days after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the modern Christmas season. A time for Shopping, parties, cooking, buying foods that one usually never eats during the year but must try, going to the theatre, decorations, visiting and most importantly giving thanks to a small child who was and is The Light of the World.

Yes for those here in the Northern Climes, by Dec. 21 to 25 we do enter the darkest period of the calendar year, if you live south of the Equator it is the lightest period.

But it is during this time, of winter cold, of possible hunger and freezing temperatures where we have to put forth every effort to beat back the darkness and the cold, with remembering those who are less fortunate than ourselves, the elderly, the sick, the homeless, and the helpless who are alone and forgotten. It is a time when we should never forget these lives who need help not only during the Christmas season but all year long.

For an Elder Goth, for any Goth, it is this darkness that we must delve in to bring in one candle of light and hope.

From collecting Toys for Tots so those unfortunate children can have at least one gift, to the donating of food for the food banks and meals for those who are down on their luck, to working in food kitchens to feed the needy, of putting into the kettles our dollars and cents for Salvation Army to help during this especially hard time of need. Of putting out food for the birds and small animals, of helping at the local animals shelter so those who do not have a voice will find a “forever home”.

For some people there is a form of unspoken ritual, such as selecting the right Christmas tree, writing out cards to send to friends and family, of planning a party or making something special to take to a party.

For others it is doing the Advent wreath and going to church to remember why we celebrate this season. And it is important to remember the true reason why we celebrate, it’s called the “Season of Giving” but not of presents but of one’s self, either of time or money or doing little things so those who feel forgotten are not forgotten.

Frances P. Church in his letter to a child, Virginia describes what the season really means, a man who really was disgusted with organized religion, was disheartened by war and by the mean spiritedness of people dug down deep into his own soul to produce the most iconic description of what Christmas should be, but using the iconic image of Santa Claus or old St. Nick.

I have an acquaintance of mine who on her own blog some years ago did a wonderful posting about that letter and the people involved in it. I’ll ask her if I can reprint it here on mine.

But for my family, well we are going to select a tree, most likely several trees, for the house, already bit by bit we’ve started putting the lights outside on the house to give it a festive air. And the indoor decorations are already dragged out and ready to be put up, something that we’ve been doing bit by bit, with this Friday for the tree selections, there is a Church operated Christmas tree lot, the sales will help with their educational programs.

We will, with Coralline and Marrisa, take in the Dickens Faire, The Nutcracker, “A Christmas Carol”, the holiday lights at the Oakland Zoo, and see what celebrations at Dunsmuir House, as well if possible any Christmas craft shows; we already are planning to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing at a local theatre. And somehow we will squeeze in shopping, but we’ve decided to give gifts to only to the children, and I’m grateful that I’ve had my flu shot.

We are checking the pantry and wines and spirits (the drinking kind) and making a list and checking it twice. The “Spare The Air” hot line is on speed dial to see if we can or cannot burn a fire, but with the freezing chill we’re having I hope we can burn a fire for the next few evenings, if not well I’ve laid in a lot of tea lights and candles to give the impression of a fire.

And now I must finish this post, I’m going in to cover the afternoon and help with some catch up. This is going to be very busy for me.
Later Darklings.

We have such fun at Christmas Time.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Of the Days after Thanksgiving~~~~

Well Darklings,

It's the day after Thanksgiving or Thanksgivukkah, and all through the house, the lingering scents of wonderfully cook foods linger, just enought to tempt a mouse, but we have no mice at least none to speak of, but tiny doggies who are hoping for some after Thanksgiving good cheer.

But one must be careful of doggie appietites a tummy upset can be a fright.

The Thanksgiving dinner was a success, everyone enjoyed themselves and there was more than enough left overs to take home and still have some for us, turkey sandwhiches with cranberry spread, perfect for lunch or a late tea instead.

Oh dear, see what happens when the holidays arrive, I start doing a little poetry.

Coralline is staying over the weekend with us, and just reveled in waking up in this "old house".  I thought she'd want to go some place but she just is perfectly content to help around the house as we did the final clean up and washing of dishes and pots and pans and silverware and glasses.

She was happy to go for a walk with Doyle, Brian, Belladonna and Weiner Dog and visit with Marrisa for a few hours before her folks had to leave to go to Marrisa's Aunt's house. 

Things were quickly and  carefully tucked into their proper places with everyone helping that we had it done in no time, Sis and I will heat up left overs for dinner tonight, although it still feels like the trytophan from the Turkey is still affecting us.

The new/old stove performed like a trouper, everything just perfect with the old thing.  Sis started baking cookies, all kinds of cookies, sugar cookies, chocolite chip, soft gingerbread cookies, Oatmeal and raisin, it is just wonderful,  right now the scent perking through the air, I offered to help her but she said she wanted the baking therapy.  So Laundry for me.

But the timing was just right, my policeman friend and his wife and children came as planned and I took them through a tour of the place starting with the garden while it was still warm outside,  and told them of how bad the garden was when I started but bit by bit things were getting fixed up thanks to friends and a very good gardener, I showed them the pet cemetery, the green house, even the garage and tool shed all period.

Then I walked them around to the front of the house to show the front garden and started the tour right from the entrace hall, main floor, upstairs, storage, down stairs and basement, and into the kitchen which was perfect for the children as Sis had a large selection of cookies ready to be eaten, and she even surprised me, she had hot mulled apple cider ready for drinking and hot water for pumpkin spice tea as well as coffee,

They had met "Kitty Kat" and saw some of the other strange things in the house, including the strange names over the door of each room, I said it was for fun.  Although the little boy Gavin had fun making "kitty Kat" roar, until I flipped the switch and said he was tired.  He even asked me if I had a floating head in a crystal ball----Hmmm I thought---and then said "Not yet, but I'm still looking for one".   He did give me an idea for next year. 

And he enjoyed my Cabinet of Curiosities, it seems the grosser the better, although his Mother sort of wondered, until I explained what such cabinets were all about, and why I have one.

They enjoyed sitting in the kitchen and relaxing, the wife told me that I gave her a lot of ideas on what to do with their home, but she knew it would take time and money, they both work full time, so I told them how I went about working on my Great Aunt's house and gave them the name and contact information of my contractor and gardener,  I said that first one must do the roof and the foundation, with all that work cracks will appear in the walls which can work to one's advantage espeically if you're doing re-wiring and plumbing.     

I made suggestions about not rushing to doing something but taking one's time, do what is important to the structural soundness of the house I said.   The wife fell in love with my stove, I told her that I was lucky in finding it, and that the cost of a refurbished one could send a person to the moon.  I also said that any speical hobbies would have to be put on the back burner, that bugeting is important, I said I was lucky in many respects.

They showed me pictures of the interior of their home and I said what should not be done otherwise they would destroy the feel of the house, I pointed out archtectural details that were correct to it and should not be destroyed.  Mr. Policeman wanted his "man cave" I told him about what I was going to do for Doyle, and said it is a good compromise.  He liked that.  

Doyle walked in with the dogs and Coralline in tow,  and while Doyle talked to Mr. Policeman Coralline told his wife what she loved about the house and proceeded to take her and her daughter upstairs to her room, while their son played with the dogs,   and then the Sun began to dip down, and they reluctantly had to leave,  I invited them to come to the Christmas party I was planning, children included as I knew the girls and my brother's boys would be there. 

They said they'd be happy to come, he would make arrangements to swap tours for that date.  I did suggest to watch for estate sales, sometimes one can come across a stove that is in good working order, the one they have now is small, I also told them about Elmira stoves depending on what feel they want to go with the house.  So much to do, so little time to do it in.

And now my nose is twitching,  to the scent of cinnamon and vanilla, Sis is baking another batch of cookies since she gave a lot of them to take home for the children, and Coralline is helping make a new batch including chocolate cookies with walnuts, the soft and chewy kind.  That child knows the way into this auntie's heart.

If it's a good day I think we'll burn a fire this evening.

Later Darklings

But sometimes its good to have fun.