Sunday, December 17, 2017

Of a horrible wind storm~~~

My Goodness Darklings,

We have been having heavy, strong winds blowing in wrenching gusts and long blasts, Thank Goodness no rain, but it makes it very difficult for the fire fighters down south.

Yesterday, I've been watching the leaves fly and roll down the street,  and the wind chill is just horrible.  I managed to persuade Mr. Rodgers to not walk the dogs today to just keep an eye on them in the back yard.  It didn't make sense for him to catch a cold or worse before he and his wife went to see their Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.

Today it is still cold but the wind has died down a lot, so Mr. Rodgers insisted on walking the dogs, and putting on their over coats (on all three) he went off merrily with his charges, who were happy to leave doggie messages to their doggie friends.

Mrs. Rodgers informed me that once Mr. Rodgers gets into a routine, it's hard for him to change, it gives him a certain solidity in his life, I certainly can understand that.  

Doyle and I bundled up and went out into the back garden as well as the front yard to see what Damage had been done by the winds,  some Christmas lights had come loose which Doyle quickly re-hung and anchored,  lots of leaves and smaller tree branches but I'll leave that to my Gardener, but nothing broken which was fortunate considering the strength of the winds.  Upon reflection it was a good thing I did not put up T-Rex for Christmas.

This evening we are going to see "A Christmas Carol" performed at a local community theater, and tomorrow we are going back to the Dickens Fair, it pays to be flexible.  I invited the Rodgers but they preferred an early bed-time. 

Doyle and I had been talking about the Fireplaces,   and he suggested that I convert the one in the Family Parlor to be a gas log, that way I could have a fire but not have to worry about a spare the air day,  but leave the one in the Formal Parlor as wood burning. It made sense to me, the house is huge and the central heating can only do so much, I open the vents to the unused rooms twice a week to keep any "damp" out,  and in the Winter time the heating bill can be brutal, thank goodness for the Trust account my Great Aunt set up, for the maintenance of the house.  I told Doyle I needed to look into if putting in a gas fireplace would violate the Trust,  I don't think so because I'd preserve the Surround and Mantle, I'll talk with my lawyer, but it would be worth while.

I'm also looking into seeing what novels Barnes and Noble have re-printed in their "Victorian" style to give as gifts to the children in future as well as to add to my collection.

So much to do and take care of.

Later Darklings

Friday, December 15, 2017

Of a quiet family evening during the Holidays~~~

Hello Dear Darklings,

We have having tonight a quiet evening,  the crock-pot is almost finished with the Beef Stew and the rice cooker has just been turned on, coupled with salad followed later by Peach cobbler and decaffeinated coffee.   Sorry Darklings but after 3 p.m. I do not dare drink any caffeine,  at my age I need my "beauty sleep".

Doyle is finishing reading the S.F. Chronicle which is filled with news about the late Mayor Ed Lee,  Doyle admired what Lee was trying to do for the people of San Francisco even if some things Doyle didn't quite agree with, but being Mayor of a Large Metropolitan City is not easy.

Mr. Rodgers is napping in one of the easy chairs with Belladonna and Wiener Dog snuggled on either side of him, they get so tired after their late afternoon walk.   Mrs. Rodgers is knitting a baby jacket with matching hat and stockings in pale yellow for one of her Grandchildren who is expecting a baby any day now, she has no idea if it will be a boy or girl so either soft yellow or soft green is perfectly neutral.    She also knitted for me slippers in purple with pink trim  to keep my feet warm.

The Rodgers will be going out of town to visit family next week and won't be back until after New Years, the good thing is that their relatives live in San Luis Obispo far away from the fires, but the smoke is causing haze and spare the air days,  I've been burning tea lights in the fire places to give some semblance of a fire to give the warm, cozy feeling.

Tomorrow evening we are going to take in the Oakland Zoo Lights, it is traditional as well as going to our local Christmas Tree  Lane, then back to my brother's house for hot chocolate and dessert, we've been to the Dickens Fair twice now but the children want to go back, my sister-in-law can't go but my brother and I will take them, now the twins want to know what is all this "fuss" over the Dickens Fair so they are coming with us with promises to be very, Very good---as they say in that commercial "Naughty is not an option!" 

Melissa my sister in law is a bit worried, well more than a bit and I can understand her feelings, she was informed that her mother has colon cancer, her mother didn't have any symptoms at all, but when a stool sample came back looking suspicious, a colonoscopy was done and a cancerous growth was found,  her mother is going in next Tuesday for surgery and if all goes well she'll be home for Christmas, the hope is that it was caught well enough in advance,  I understand that there is an 85% chance of being cured from this type of cancer so the odds are good. 

One good thing is that her mother will be staying at her brother Bob's house while she's recovering further from the surgery and if Chemo is involved Bob's wife Marge was a nurse and can help during the Chemo.   Her Mother is considering giving up her apartment and moving in with her son, they have the room, she had sold her house some time ago downsizing, so this maybe a good option.

I told Melissa that at least a general game plan is in place, just need to deal with it day by day.   But I know she won't really relax until her mother is home and they know what stage the cancer is in.

But at least the Zoo Lights can be a mild temporary distraction.

And now I think I can smell the scent of Hot Apple Cider----Doyle is making a large pot of it, well maybe the cider instead of decaffeinated coffee.   And the timer went off so time for dinner.

Later Darklings

  I think for Christmas Dinner I'll let Doyle carve the Turkey, he's so good at it.



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Of the approaching Christmas Holidays~~~~~



Hello Darklings,

Well the frost is on the rooftops and the cars only to be melted by the sun.  

The house is now decorated for Christmas and I know we’ll be finding the needles from the trees well into July,  we had fun selecting the trees at this tree lot run by one of our local churches for their school programs so it works out very well.

My brother and sister in law decided to go with a smaller tree to sit on top of a table,  Melissa my sister in law said that with two very active boys in the house it was wiser to go that way.  Coralline and Christopher were helping with the selecting,   I bought two trees, a larger one for the formal parlor and a smaller one for the family parlor.  Later that evening I had a tree decorating party with family and friends,  with nibbles and refreshments it was good fun.   And now they stand in all their glory for the Holidays,  we also got wreathes for our front doors as well.

And afterwards everyone relaxed and I could let the dogs out of their holding place in the kitchen so they would not be underfoot, but I did see Mr. Rodgers giving them treats (doggie treats) every so often.

It was a very good and happy evening.

This last weekend we went back to the Dickens Faire to keep us in the Christmas Spirit,  but I have to admit both my brother, sister in law and I got very tired but the children had fun looking at one exhibit or display or performance to another.  My brother got into the swing of it having cobbled together a Dickens type outfit but I wasn’t too sure about the cloth hat (newsboy style), that was remedied when we stepped into one of the men’s clothiers and he bought a proper top hat and spats, then it was perfect.    The food, the entertainment, the pretties, such an assault to the senses, but like memories of sugar plums leave a lovely lasting impression.

The family was over the other night for a simple dinner,  afterwards Chris asked if we could watch a PBS program about Sherlock Holmes and how this fictional character helped create or inspire modern forensic  science,  Christopher is very strong in science and is thinking of majoring in it at college but he wasn’t sure what classes he’d need to take.   I think I’ll introduce him to a friend of mine to help give him an idea.   

 Coralline was writing down the book titles that some of the interviewees’ had written, but what made such an impression on them was the film recording of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, hearing his voice and comments on Sherlock,  both of them said they’d like to go to London just to go to the Sherlock Holmes museum,  my brother said there’s more to London than that and they said “Of Course!” and Christopher immediately ran off a list of sights to see and tours to take.    I was pleased.

One remark that impressed me was the idea that Sherlock Holmes is very gothic in style, and outlook, I had not thought of that only that I enjoyed the stories,  I had only thought of “the Hound of the Baskerville’s” as being gothic but when one takes it in they all are. 

We have other Christmas events planned, and we all agreed to not exchange presents, what with the price of goods going up, but I think I’ll surprise the children with a few gifts on New Year’s.

I’ve come across  a wonderfully delightful program on PBS and I believe the series is available on DVD, it’s call “Dickensian”  these writers managed to put together some of the characters in the different Charles Dickens stories such as A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop etc. into what appears to be a Prequel to the individual stories using the death of Jacob Marley as the event to start it---he gets murdered,  the time line seems to go from one Christmas to the next.   And in some way the characters have a connection to Jacob Marley so they come under suspicion.    I love it so far, and want to see how it develops.    In it’s own way it’s dark and Gothic.

But I’ve found a perfect gift that is also Gothic and morbid, it’s Chris Woodyard’s book “The Victorian Book of the Dead”

This is how the description of the Book goes:

Chris Woodyard, author of the The Ghosts of the Past series, digs through long-buried newspapers and journals, for this fascinating look at the 19th-century obsession with the culture of death. The Victorian Book of the Dead unearths extraordinary tales of Victorian funeral fads and fancies, ghost stories, bizarre deaths, mourning novelties, gallows humor, premature burial, post-mortem photographs, death omens, and funeral disasters. Resurrected from original sources, these accounts reveal the oddities and eccentricities of Victorian mourning. Packed with macabre anecdotes, this diverting, yet gruesome collection presents tales ranging from the paranormal and shocking to the heartbreaking. Some of the stories in The Victorian Book of the Dead *mourning bicycles, black boudoirs, and sable cigarettes for the up-to-date widow *a child ghost who beckoned for her father to follow her into death *black dogs and shrieking banshee who foretold death and disaster *the widow who fired the undertaker who would not give her trading stamps. *a corpse that spontaneously combusted in the coffin *the fiendish parrot who murdered his mistress *The petrified corpse furniture created by Professor Segato *visions of the Grim Reaper and the Angel of Death *the man who lived in the tomb of his wife *A mourning wreath made from the hair of a murdered family *interviews with undertakers, post-mortem photographers and morgue attendants And many more tales from the crypts

Well I am certainly going to get my own copy, and look into the other books that Mr. Woodyard has in this series, Ahhh the beauty of ordering on-line.

In the meantime My Darklings, you enjoy the Holidays with all the joys and headaches it offers.

Later Darklings

Monday, November 27, 2017

Of after Thanksgiving and thoughts on shopping mania and a simplier life~~~~



Hello Darklings,

Last Friday morning was like something out of a Sherlock Holmes story, the fog covering the area in a misty fuzzy way, softening the harsh outlines of homes, street lamps and other objects, as if they were in a dream.  The Fog Horns sending out their mournful tunes of warning and yet mystery.

The colors from the leaves of the street trees and my fruit trees in the back yard  were just soft blots of color, even the paths in my garden disappeared into nothingness, and I felt the house was shrouded from the world of hectic and frenzy shopping and we were into a world of  genteel manners as if Mother Nature was saying breathe, relax.

I love mornings like that, it puts everything into the right mood of fire places and cozy chairs and a good book,  but because of the slipperiness of the ground and such we decided to hold off putting up the outside lights and instead decorated the inside of the house for Christmas.  The T-Rex was taken down and stored away before the rains came, I just could not take the chance of his internal workings being damaged.

Later on in the week we’ll purchase the two trees to put up in the house and plan on going to the Dickens Fair this coming weekend.   That is an event I never want to miss.  The children and their mother are coming with Sis and me and we plan on an early start because of traffic and possible rain.  Hopefully my brother can come with us if his brother in law will take care of the twins, they want to go to some sporting event, or watch some games on T.V.    I’ve never seen such divergent differences in taste between all 4 children, but then being different is what makes the world go round.

Thanksgiving was wonderful, good food, good people, good conversation and NO politics, that was my rule.  And plenty of left overs to handout for the next day, well more like almost the entire week.   It was a bountiful feast.

But I think Christmas Eve and Day will be a bit more low key, immediate family and those few friends who have nowhere to go, gifts will be given a few days early to be opened at their homes.  

Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers will be getting together with their children for their gathering.  My friends, their children,  are still dealing with all the paperwork and Insurance about re-building.  They did sign up for the government to clear away their property,  but getting their house rebuilt will be a long process,  I don’t mind my house guests if they have to stay for a long while, they are very nice and are developing their own routine and rhythm to their current surroundings.   So it is working out well.

One thing that both I, my sister and the Rodgers agree on is how horrible this “Black Friday” mania is, I mean is it more important to shop till you drop starting on Thanksgiving than being with one's family?   Whatever happened to having a day of rest and being with family or good friends?

My sister and I prefer to do our shopping on Saturday and rest and relax on Sunday, unless something happens and we have no choice but we have found planning our week for “chores” is best, of course medical/dental appointments, hair appointments, vet visits always have to be squeezed in but that it what Calendars are for. 

I have found on line people, young people who are turning to living in another era as if it were Victorian times or the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, to the point where (unless it’s a uniform) they dress that way, their homes are decorated that way and most modern things are banished, with the exception of flip phones for emergencies, medical/dental procedures, the computer is banished into an armoire, the flat screen T.V. is put into a vintage T.V. cabinet.    Of course one has to have a modern land line telephone, but those are the few concessions.   Even I have done that, it makes the pace of living so much easier, I’m not locked into having that smart phone stuck to my ear.   And it is far less stressful.

Sis believes eventually there will be a backlash to all this mania shopping and lack of a day of rest, we may not see it but it will eventually happen, she believes.

Interestingly enough Poland has actually voted on phasing out Sunday shopping,   I have copied here an article from USA Today~~~~

FROM USA TODAY
Poland to phase out Sunday shopping by 2020
The Associated Press Published 8:27 a.m. ET Nov. 24, 2017

WARSAW, Poland — Poland's lawmakers on Friday approved a law that will phase out Sunday shopping by the year 2020 despite criticism that it may eliminate thousands of jobs.

Proposed by trade unions that want shop workers to spend more time with their families, the bill got support from the ruling party that adheres to Catholic values. Critics say it would negatively affect Poland's economy, eliminating tens of thousands of jobs, and hurt supermarket chains, which are mostly western.

The lower house, dominated by the ruling party, voted 254 -156 with 23 abstentions to limit Sunday shopping to the first and last Sunday of the month from March 1 until the end of 2018; only on the last Sunday in the month in 2019; and to ban it totally starting in 2020. There will be, however, some exceptions that will allow Sunday shopping before major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Also, online shops and bakeries are to be exempted from the ban.

The bill still needs approval from the Senate and from President Andrzej Duda.

Frankly I can see that, with the exception of emergency services for humans and animals, and of course gasoline stations because some people need to travel a long distance home, and public transportation, and I don’t think it will hurt jobs, because it will create longer hours for those businesses to be open.   In hot areas where the temperature can climb into the 100’s  such stores such as Wal-Mart are open 24 hours with serious air conditioning because it’s far more comfortable to shop at night.   So things can be re-adapted.   

We’ll see how it goes in Poland.  

Later Darklings

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Of Black Orchids and Black Friday~~~~



Hello Dear Darklings,

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and we have in my home and with my family a lot to be thankful for.

Sis and I have most of the goodies for the table purchased, friends and family are also bringing other goodies to add, and I have lots of aluminum pans to put in left overs to give to people afterwards.

Our house guests, Mr. & Mrs. Rodgers have settled in nicely, Mr. Rodgers loves taking the dogs for their walks and talking to the neighbors, Mrs. Rodgers has started crocheting comforters, slippers socks, and mittens as gifts.   And they have found places that they enjoy going to.   Mrs. Rodgers said to me that she enjoys the quiet pace of my house, even when I have the Merry Maids come in to do dusting and such and with my part time house keeper Betty who comes in to help with heavy work like the laundry and making beds.

Today it will be getting down the special dish and glass ware as well as the pots and pans used for the holiday dinners.

I have only found a few things Gothicly and I have to credit  the “Dear Darkling” newsletter (www.deardarkling.com) for showing morbid edible candies and Gothic clothing for the toddlers as well as writing materials from pens to notebooks to help you write things grim and dark to make E.A. Poe proud of you.   

So I decided to do a word combination just for fun to see what I could find that’s matches that and is sort of Gothicly,  the most popular combination is “Black Orchid” 

For example there is Black Orchid Denim at blackorchiddenim.com  I’m not in favor of ripped leggings or jeans but some of their tops are very nice for casual wear if one wants to make a statement subtly.

Then there is Tom Ford’s Black Orchid cologne and perfume,  according to its Hype “This is not about an ordinary orchid….a little more strange and rare.”    It’s floral-spicy with patchouli and sandalwood, amber and balsam and hint of incense.

Then there is the Black Orchid Resort in Belize.   According to it’s website  “Located in the heart of Belize on the outskirts of Burrell Boom Village, the Black Orchid Resort is an oasis of modern convenience in an exotic tropical rainforest setting. Just 15 minutes away from the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City, the Black Orchid Resort is worlds away with 16 comfortable rooms, 7 luxury suites, & two well-appointed villas.”

See its web site  www.blackorchidresort.com   Trip Advisor gave it 4 ½ stars out of 5.

Then there is ILNP Black Orchid nail polish, a high quality lacquer, cruelty free and vegan with sparkle, you can see it and buy it on Amazon.com

And odd thing is a fish called a Betta, we use to call them “fighting fish” as they don’t seem to get along and can be aggressive to other fish so they need to be in their own but they have developed one called a Black Orchid.

You see where I’m going on this and that’s to not eliminate the actual black orchids that can be found in Belize (it’s national flower),  Madagascar, Ecuador and the Dracula vampira orchid on the slopes of Mount Pichincha in Ecuador as well as Dracula anthracina (the coal-black Dracula), a species of orchid from Colombia.    Many are too rare to have in the U.S.  so that is why I lean towards the deep purple cymbidiums to get my “Drac” fix.

But now we also have that Dreaded Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.  My niece Coralline asked me where did that term come from?

Well I can thank   Sarah Pruitt  who wrote an article on November 24, 2015 at www.history.com for her story which I’ll re-print here but also will give you the direct link to it http://www.history.com/news/whats-the-real-history-of-black-friday

Here is Ms. Pruitt’s “What’s the Real History of Black Friday” article:

It makes sense that the term “Black Friday” might refer to the single day of the year when retail companies finally go “into the black” (i.e. make a profit). The day after Thanksgiving is, of course, when crowds of turkey-stuffed shoppers descend on stores all over the country to take advantage of the season’s biggest holiday bargains. But the real story behind Black Friday is a bit more complicated—and darker—than that.

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

In recent years, another myth has surfaced that gives a particularly ugly twist to the tradition, claiming that back in the 1800s Southern plantation owners could buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. Though this version of Black Friday’s roots has understandably led some to call for a boycott of the retail holiday, it has no basis in fact.

The true story behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit. (In fact, stores traditionally see bigger sales on the Saturday before Christmas.)

The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s darker roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal. According to a pre-holiday survey this year by the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 million Americans definitely plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend (58.7 percent of those surveyed), though even more (183.8 million, or 79.6 percent) said they would or might take advantage of the online deals offered on Cyber Monday.

Well for us we will use the Friday after Thanksgiving to put away and straighten up after the Thanksgiving feast and use that day and the weekend to start decorating for Christmas,  YES Dear Darklings we wait until Santa shows up at the end of the Macy’s Day parade.   And there is one thing that we do in my house after the feast when everyone is having their turkey tryptophan slumber I put on “Miracle on 34th Street”  I’ve often felt it was the perfect transition movie from Thanksgiving to the Christmas season.

Just as a trivia note the Macy’s parade that is shown in the movie is the one from 1946, when it was first televised on those early black and white T.V.’s.

Happy Thanksgiving Darklings