Saturday, December 30, 2017

of a Happy 2018 New Year to all of you~~~~

Hello Darklings,

Well 2017 is winding down to a close, tomorrow is the last day of 2017, I'm sure for some people they will be glad that the year is gone.

For others they may ask the question "What Fresh Hell is coming to us?"   I say that with all the new tax laws and other laws that Start on January 1st. 

I had a talk with my tax preparer and he says that I am really in good shape and will not be affected very much.   I don't know about anyone else, and I'm sure all the tax preparers are going to have some serious headaches.

But for now I am looking forward to a nice and relatively quiet New Years Eve, no I'm not going out this time ordinarily I would be going to the New Years Eve Dance on the USS Hornet, but Doyle sprained his ankle and it's going to take time for it to get back into dancing shape and I refuse to desert my Man.

So I have family and a few friends coming over with pot luck, which works out fine for them as they didn't have any plans as well.  It will be interesting to see if the children can keep their eyes open when Midnight comes and if they do fall asleep well I have those extra bedrooms for them to wake up to a new year. 

But Sis and I do have plans to start the New Year with our annual Film Noir Fest in San Francisco, already we have our passport tickets, our vintage selections laid out and ready to pack, reservations made and confirmed at Hotel Rex.    From Jan 26 to Feb 4 a complete indulgence into Film Noir! 

Of course there will be some old favorites like "The Blue Dahlia", "This Gun for Hire" and "I wake up Screaming"  but a lot of seldom seen film's like "Conflict" with Bogart.  

The house will be watched by Doyle, and Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers will be back so the dogs will have their walk if it's not raining.  

Christmas was very pleasant and very cheerful I'm happy to say, and I'm going to present to the children some new books with old fashion binders which I'm happy to say Barnes and Noble provide.

But for now I and Doyle are going to have a nice quiet evening, sitting by the fireplace with candles burning to give the impression of a fire, and we'll be reading our prospective murder mysteries.

Currently I'm reading "A Virtuous Death" by Christine Trent  it is #3 in the Lady of Ashes Series, and has Queen Victoria, seances, and murder all wrapped up in a nice little read.

I wish all of you a very Happy and Healthy 2018 New Year!

Later Darklings

Sunday, December 24, 2017

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

Hello Darklings,

And Merry Christmas to all of you!

Right now NORAD is tracking the jolly old elf on his journey around the world,  and eventually all little children will have put out milk and cookies to help sustain him on his trip.

In a few minutes family and a few friends will be coming by to have some savory noshes, and hot mulled cider and wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

For some reason the children want to watch "A Muppet Christmas Carol"  instead of the Alister Sim version, which is fine.   We need a few chuckles while old Scrooge has the Christmas Spirit awaken in him.

On one of my side bar articles I wrote "More on Yes Virginia"  I was going to re-print it here but it is far easier for you to click on that article that I wrote.

So for now I wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.

Later Darklings

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Of Christmas doings and a make ahead breakfast~~~~

Hello Darklings,

Well step by step, inch by inch, minute by minute we are edging closer to Christmas,  my two younger nephews, the Twins, can hardly wait.

They came with us to the Dickens Fair this last weekend after joining us (surprisingly) to see a local community theater’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol”.   

 When we got to the Fair, they were suddenly overwhelmed by the sounds, sights and scents of the Fair and although they were wearing modern clothing compared to our Dickens garb they got into the swing of  it, even so much as asking their parents to buy them those “news boy” flat caps,  now they are getting the idea why their older siblings like the genteel Victorian way of life---although as we know during those times certain things like sanitation and women’s rights were almost nil,----but they are getting the idea, much to their Mother’s relief. 

This morning I got a call from my sister in law and as we worked on what to have for Christmas dinner she told me that the boys are now insisting on wearing their caps to school but of course taking them off in class,  she made sure their names were written on the inside of the caps.   But, she said, they seem to cherish them, even my brother bought one and now is wearing it every time he goes outside or to work, “keeps his head warm” she said he told her and she thinks the Twins have found out the same.

I think that is marvelous.  

I recently read an article about Ghost Stories at Christmas time and this goes beyond Dicken’s “Christmas Carol” 

 “A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories”  by Colin Dickey at the Smithsonian Magazine web site

He says “Though the practice is now more associated with Halloween, spooking out your family is well within the Christmas spirit”   I think that is a perfectly Gothic idea.  I mean why should Ghost Stories only be confined to Halloween, after all “A Christmas Carol” is a ghost story in the very meaning of the word.

I recommend this article to all you Gothic Darklings and find a way to be able to tell them around the fireplace or by candle light or the lights of the Christmas tree,  it would be a wonderful new and dark tradition.

I’m also going to have a make ahead breakfast for Christmas day, although it will only be myself, Doyle, Sis and her roommate Brian (the Rodgers will be out of town) it makes perfect sense to do this.

So the night before Christmas (or day before) you can make this without having to fuss about breakfast on Christmas day.

The ingredients is:
1 pound hot sausage
6 slices bread, cubed
6 to 8 slices of pre-cooked bacon crumbled
1 cup grated cheese
6 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon  of salt
1 teaspoon of mustard

To prepare in a skillet crumble and cook the sausage until brown, drain (do the same with the bacon), Grease a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex pan or dish, line the bottom with the cubed bread.

Then top with the sausage, bacon and cheese,  in a bowl combine the milk, eggs and seasonings and beat well then pour over the layers in the pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.   Next morning, take out and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, cut into squares and serve.  Will serve between 6 to 8 people.

Of course you’ll have the orange juice and coffee which you can prepare while it’s baking and toast and butter.     I just love make ahead foods and this is perfect.

Well I need to go,  Sis and I have to do a bit of Grocery shopping and I know we’ll be going back again on Saturday for the dinner,  which means we’ll be cooking and baking Saturday and Sunday with my sister-in law’s help.

In the mean time Dear Darklings you have a wonderful Christmas.

Later Darklings 

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~~~~

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