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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Of Thanksgiving and Christmas and a tragic Fire~~~

Hello Darklings,

Well I have been out of the loop but a lot has been happening, so where do I start.

Well we slowly took down the Halloween decorations and carefully packed them away, but then I had a leak in the hot water heater!  A good thing I don't keep anything at floor level, so the water was shut off to it.  

I called my plumber and he quickly came out, for some reason there was a defect in the bottom of the tank, still under warranty,  so had that replaced at no cost. 

Then the Washing Machine broke a belt,  now try and get wet clothing out of a tub full of water and hand wring it out and bail the water out of the tub,  called my appliance repair man,  he replaced the belt, tested the machine,  only just over $100.00.   And we finished wringing the clothing,  Thank Goodness the dryer was working.

Then the original refrigerator that I moved from the kitchen into the large walk in pantry died,  I was a nice large side by side refrigerator freezer, but nothing was going to resurrect it, so moved most of the stuff in the freezer to my sister's and the chilled beer was left out.  

The good thing is my much newer refrigerator works beautifully, so I was deciding, do I move the one in the kitchen into the pantry or install a new one in the pantry,  I mean how hard is it to move a refrigerator?

Well Doyle said "Nope ain't moving it, buy a new one for the pantry and have the delivery guys handle it"  so did that.   Nothing fancy, a good dependable Maytag refrigerator, plain white,  and energy efficient.

With all this happening my brother and sister-in-law said "Thanksgiving at our house!"   What a relief!    So Sis and I brought side dishes while the main feast was cooked at my brother's house,  and relatives and children all over the place,  Thank goodness my brother has a "Man Cave" for the children,  that way we could cook and set up without worry.   And everything was delicious.

My brother yelled up from below that Santa Had Arrived so Christmas is now officially here.   A flash of memory went through my mind of all those Thanksgivings when Dad and my Uncles would watch the Macy's parade with my brother and a couple of nephews, and Mom, Grandma, a couple of Aunts, Sis and I would set up the table and then Dad would call out "Santa arrived!!! You ladies can go Christmas shopping!!"   And Mom and Grandma would roll their eyes.   But it never gets old.

The next day, my sister in law, Coraline, Christopher, Sis and myself we went to the Dickens Fair, I had to use a cane and rest a lot because my leg muscle is still weak but still it was so enjoyable, seeing all the Dickens characters, and the entertainments, and all the lovely things to buy,  Coraline and Chris were wearing Dickens finery thanks to an on line shop called "Recollections"  and the children were having fun researching how to behave in a proper Victorian manner.   We are going back for one more weekend to see what we've might have missed.  But the scent of spices and baking and cinnamon buns,  and hot tea,  and watching scenes from some of the Dickens novels.   It does add magic to the season.

Christmas dinner will be at my house,  we bought the trees today,  a large one for the formal parlor and a smaller one in the family parlor,  bit by bit Christmas decorations have been put up,  I've hired Betty full time to help me,  of course the Maid Service will do the house cleaning,  it's far too much for Betty to handle, but with her and I and occasionally her daughter to assist, along with the Cleaning service it's not so bad.  

But last night was very difficult for me and for some of my friends and I was glad that Sis was at my house to help.

We've had a very tragic fire in town,  if you Google "Oakland Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire" that will give you all the news,  it seems in this Artist Collective Warehouse, where people were illegally living in, a party, some people call it a Rave, was held and a fire broke out and people were trapped, the place was a "fire ready to happen".

My artist friends, the ones I call very Ghostly, had been planning to go to this party to meet someone there but for them luck was on their side, they didn't get there til nearly midnight when the fire was at it's height,  their friend was fine but she couldn't find someone that she met there that my artist friends knew,  only today did they find out this person had died in the fire.  They were grief stricken.

My artist friends didn't know for the last few days, where to go or who to talk to to process their grief, the memorials and areas of prayer didn't seem to assuage their feelings,  so they came to my house,  I think the warmth of the house, the candles burning in the fireplace, the Christmas decorations and the hot lemon ginger tea helped them, I let them talk and talk, even if they were going over it again and again it helped them process it.

They told me that a few weeks ago they were looking for cheap space to rent to do some of their larger works and had checked it out,  at first it appeared enchanting but then when they looked closer, well as she told it to me it was like seeing something that's beautiful on the surface but it hides the decay and rot underneath.   They didn't feel comfortable about it.   They weren't even sure about going to this party so they kept putting off going there and it seems their feeling was right.

He kept saying it was a monster of flame, devouring all that was inside, people crying and calling out if someone had seen someone,  I cannot even write down how they described what they saw.   They were so upset that I put them up for the night saying they should not be alone right now.

This morning they thanked me and said they were going home to change clothing and go out among people and have breakfast,  I said they were welcome to come by again if they needed to talk.   I feel they will take me up on that. 

I listened to them, and Belladonna and Wiener Dog cuddled next to them, I watched as they absentmindedly petted the dogs and scratched their heads,  doing that seemed to relax my visitors, making them drowsy, and helped them to unwind their tensions.

Doyle was very up on the events, and would encourage them to talk, while Sis helped them go through and process the emotions they were feeling. 

This morning they told me that they have idea's for their next series of art work, dealing with tragedy and monsters.   I sort of questioned about it with Sis but she said it will be their way of processing their grief, and I could understand that. 

We watch horror movies to be terrified but then when one sees it, in real life and know that they've lost someone in such a horrible tragedy,  it is a totally different.   I am going to check in with them in a few days to see how they are doing,  something like this one does not get over instantly.  

I'm going to have a Christmas Evening tea, I think I'll invite them, during this time of the year one should not be alone.

I have not posted about wonderfully gothic things,  I did see the Dr. Strange movie and I'll talk about it in my next post.

Later Darklings