Saturday, December 27, 2008

X Marks the Spot

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 3
and ABC Wednesday Anthology
have reached what you might call a crossroads.
At least it's marked with the letter "X".

X marks the house in which we live. (photo from Google Earth.)

Steps from street down to front entry
of house marked by X

Granny Smith at foot of stairs
in front of door to entryway and patio
of house marked by X.
(Photo by Daria Bishop)

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Believe in Love, Music and Joy

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "I believe..."

I have done less scribbling than picture-posting this time around. I am feeling euphoric about our wonderful Christmas yesterday, and these photos seem to me to be an integral part of it that I want to share with everyone.

How can I not believe in the special magic worked at Christmas? This family is one to which music is a special (and frequent and practically continuous) joy. But it is love that ties it all together.

Above are my son Otto and his sweet wife Kristin at a special moment on Christmas morning. They are both accomplished musicians with experience on varied instruments, but the ones that are seldom out of their hands are Otto's concertina and Kristin's violin. Hundreds of students have profited by Kristin's music teaching and have caught her infectious enthusiasm.

Above: Our granddaughter Anna gives her father a hug. She feels especially lucky to have arrived yesterday five days after she was expected, having been stranded in New York by flight cancellations. She had spent the semester in England, so this is the first time they have seen each other since September. Sharing the sofa is my husband, Otto, unwrapping a gift that Santa Claus (looking remarkably like Anna) has just given him.

Below: An accordion was just what Anna had been wanting to add to her musical repertoire. Here her father gives her a few pointers.

Above: And now back to the instrument she, like her mother, loves and plays most often. In the background her father is accompanying her on his concertina. Several of the pieces they are playing are of Anna's own composition.

Above: Kristin joins them in marvelously spontaneous, soaring improvisations to compliment the music in progress.

Above: Ocean and his Daddy Joe and Mama April arrive and Ocean unwraps his first gift, a bicycle horn for his bicycle. His bicycle, on which he has become proficient, is a real one but without pedals. Ocean immediately discovered that the bicycle horn made a satisfyingly loud sound. He called it his "trumpet", and the family ensemble played pieces to which he could join his rhythmic beeping.

Below: When Ocean discovered that the ensemble would come to an abrupt stop if he ceased to beep, he was overcome with laughter as he started and stopped the music.

Below: Ocean's mother April watches the concert.

And should I mention that we feasted on smoked black cod and salmon (contributed by Joe and April) with a zillion other delicious fixings?

I hope you all are enjoying this most joyous of seasons!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Joy to the world! Ocean beams over the gift of a bicycle horn which makes a wonderfully satisfying noise.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

W is for Wild, Wierd, Washington Weather

ABC Wednesday round 3. Go here for links to other participating blogs.

ABC Wednesday Anthology for non-comment posts.

This is a late ABC entry due to unexpected circumstances. Otto (husband) was transported to the local hospital here in Port Townsend early Monday morning with abdominal pains. We had to go by emergency fire dept. ambulance since there wasn't a single surface anywhere outside that wasn't covered with snow or ice after a heavy overnight snowfall on top of the one I posted about on Sunday. He is fine now (although a little tired) and we arrived back at Kristin's and Otto's (son) about a half hour ago.

Kristin took all of the following pictures except for the ones below of the glamorous view from our hospital window. ("Our" because I stayed with husband Otto at the hospit


View from hospital window (most snow had melted from trees).

View from hospital window
of downtown Port Townsend

And Joy oh Joy! Anna just arrived 5 days late from London via New York and storms! We're all together for Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Longer Dreaming of a White Christmas

This is the cozy Port Townsend, Washington, home of our son, Otto, and of his dear wife, Kristin. This photo was taken this morning by Kristin after last night's snowfall. Otto (husband) and I are here to celebrate Christmas with them and Granddaughter Anna. Anna has been studying drama in London with her Adelphi class this last semester, and we were all looking forward to seeing her yesterday. The storms across the country have put off her expected time of arrival in Seattle until tomorrow - a disappointment, but her late arrival will make our reunion even sweeter. She slept last night on the floor of the JFK terminal but tonight will be in the New York home of the grandmother of a simillarly stranded friend.

We Californians are unaccustomed to snow. Port Townsend has snowfall almost as rarely as Berkeley, situated as it is on the coast of Puget Sound in the rain shadow of the Olympics. Kristin also snapped these followin
g pics of bird tracks in the snow and heather with snow caps.

The next photos are mine - the first showing why I hesitated to put my foot on the snow-slicked front stairs and the second, of shadows on snow, from inside a nice warm car.

I hope you are enjoying the season as much as we are! Have good fellowship and fantastic music and fun in the snow.

FLASH! A disappointed Anna has just phoned to say that her flight has been cancelled until Christmas Day!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Late in the Day

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is late.

Thank you for your help -- I guess.
I wish I didn’t need it though.
I’d like to climb the stairs unaided,
load grocery bags into the car,
swing a laughing great-grandbaby
high into the air. But now
I fear that I might let her drop.

Thank you for your help -- I guess.
It’s kind of you to notice that
this frail, white-haired and slow-paced woman -- who
(I find to my surprise) is me --
needs your arm’s support to balance,
your hands to tie a flopping shoelace
too far away for her to reach.
Thank you. No! I don’t need help, don’t want anybody’s help to use the automatic checkout! Do you need help with your computer? I’d be glad to give you pointers, teach you how to use the graphics, process words, upload a web page.

Don’t assume “white-haired” means “brainless.” I can write a poem or story. A skull as old as mine is packed with memories I can use for reference.
But thanks for helping when I need it.
Please don’t resent my own resentment
when you note needs so real and present
that signify a final waning.

Phyllis Sterling (Granny) Smith

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

V is for Variegated

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday Round 3
and ABC Wednesday Anthology
have reached the letter V.

We parked in the parking lot of our favorite restaurant (where we can feast on wild Alaskan salmon) and the nose of Lorelei (our car) was almost against this small tree back-lit by the setting sun. The light shone through these persistent autumn leaves who apparently don't know that they are inappropriate for the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

U is for Unique

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 3
and ABC Wednesday Anthology have wandered
down the alphabet all the way to U.

To be the last of one's species is to be truly unique. Please enlarge the plaque above to give you an understanding of Lonesome George's plight.

And here is Lonesome George himself, photo taken before I had a good zoom lens.

My husband, Otto, poses in order to give us a sense
of the size of Galapagos giant tortoises.

And here is happy group of Galapagos giant tortoises
among their own species.

I am mourning the loss of species, one by one, caused by habitat destruction, global warming and the demands on resources by an ever-increasing world population. Lonesome George is a single sad example of this.

I want to apologize to everyone for not commenting on your posts this week. I am super busy with company coming in two days and then Otto and I being ready to fly to Port Townsend the day they leave. And I've hardly started my Christmas shopping yet, most of which will have to be mailed! At least the calendars are finished and in the mail. Happy holidays, everyone, and don't let yourselves get over-strssed. I'm trying! I'm trying!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

From Time to Time

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is Tradition

My 2009 calendars collated but not yet bound

The tradition was started in the early 90s by my son Otto when his children were still small. He designed a calendar to share, originally, with his par
ents and siblings and those of his wife, Kristin. Each month of the year was represented by a large photo - most often of his son or daughter and their activities- from which would hang, by spiral binder, a calendar marked with the dates of family birthdays, anniversaries and any other dates that Otto felt worthy of inclusion - such as (I am just looking casually at a few of them in his 1995 calendar) - "Susan B. Anthony fined for voting, 1873" -"Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756" - "Composting Toilet Day".

Here is a photo of Johnny from the 1995 calendar

The covers on these early calendars had simple construction paper covers designed with the help of his children.

Sample of early calendar cover.
Julian was their dog. Pippi was their cat.

Sometime in the late 90s son Otto announced that he would not be producing a calendar that year, and I said, "I'll do it!" And I have been doing it ever since.

And I have made it more and more difficult for myself by adding carefully computer-designed covers with computer printing of date (year) and greetings, by not having simple photos for the upper portion frequently using collages to work in everything I want to say about the year in 12 pages (13 if you count the cover). I try to represent the families of my children fairly, and, since I now have six grandchildren plus the generations between them and us, I spend a lot of time worrying. (I do that whether or not I am designing a calendar).

Cover for my 2009 calendar.

Then, of course, there is the task of constructing the calendar itself (two times since I started doing the calendar I have had the dates on one month displaced, thus disorienting the recipients and embarrassing me!) Then I must transfer the personal dates to their proper compartments. and add my own choice of extra dates. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart still has his birthday marked. I have added quite a few - Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers - Hiroshima Day - nothing as funny as son Otto's April first entries ("Turn quick, there's an elephant behind you", "Don't forget!! Tax returns now due March 15").

Here is a sample month from my 2009 calendar.

The number of recipients this year is 32. I have spent many hours of last two months working on the calendars, and I haven't had time to add comments to all the sunday scribblings and other blogs that that I read with such interest.

Our Canon printer is much faster than our old HP, making the printing less time-consuming -Thank Goodness! Husband Otto did the collating (see top photo) and is responsible for the binding and the punching of the hanging hole, which he is taking care of right now. Next comes envelope stuffing and addressing to addresses that I HOPE have not changed since last year.

And why do I think all this work is a tradition? Because of the feedback is that everyone enjoys the calendar that is current and is counting on next year's also. I suspect that the family calendar is a tradition that that will continue until I can no longer totter to the computer. And by then I hope that someone else will take responsibility for the tradition.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

T is for Trumpet Vine

and ABC Wednesday Anthology
have advanced to the letter T.

Trumpet vines can cover a fence

or climb twenty-five feet up a tree

or the vine itself can slyly creep across the stairs.
(No! Those little white flowers do not belong to the trumpet vine!)

Portrait of trumpet blossoms.