Monday, December 22, 2014

Seeing Red, Part V

Our Christmas houseguests are about to arrive.
We're ready.

Wishing you all a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seeing Red IV

All is calm. All is bright
Waiting for the Holy Night...

Junior's at his usual post.
 Waiting for a tasty bite.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seeing Red, Part III

Julenisse on the Loose!
I made this toy julenisse (the Norwegian gift-bringer) for our youngest grandson
and posted it with a tracking number.
The Julenisse has taken a side-trip to Forest Lake, Minnesota!
What? He's making mischief already?

Meanwhile, I'm wrapping packages for grandsons who will come for Christmas.
When they arrive and survey the premises for the first time, they always say,
 "So, Nana, which of the presents are real and which ones are fake?"
They know me.
 As a magazine stylist, I wrapped empty boxes to create instant Christmas sets...
I still do. It's an inexpensive trick for creating festive excitement in the house.

This year, there are no fake presents.
 Each red-and-white box or bag has something in it for the participants of
Grandpa Al's Busch Gardens trivia game.

Grandpa Al writes a trivia game every year.
 After candlelight services at church, we come home to rowdy game-playing while I get a light Christmas Eve supper on the table.
Postcript: Julenisse has moved on to Saint Paul.
Will he make it to Des Moines?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Seeing Red II

Target's red-and-white logo promises eye-popping styles and they don't disappoint when it comes to wrapping papers and gift bags. Also, the post office offers an array of packaging for sending gifts. Lines are getting longer to get my giddy up!

Snowflake pillows popped off the end-cap at Target
 as I whizzed by. Snowball. Snowflake. A theme is developing...
At Books-A-Million, I was promised this chevron canvas bag for $5
 if my purchase reached $25. It worked out.
My Christmas guests will be spotted easily at the beach!

Putting the finishing touches on handmade gifts...


Friday, December 5, 2014

Seeing Red, Part I

Call me the Queen of Affordable Style,
dime-store decorating,
and Christmas ephemera.

Inspiration for this year's Christmas decorating plan
began with a set of greeting cards based on Lucy Pettway's 1950s quilt called "Snowball."
 Lucy belonged to the Gee's Bend, Alabama quilting group.

Once I limited this year's Christmas colors to red and white,
I was off to see what I could see.

First stop, IKEA. Surprisingly, not in much red and white this year so we came home with sparkling pear and apple beverages and a couple bottles of Dryck Julmust with jolly tomte labels.

Would you believe? Red and white tissue boxes?

Ho, ho, ho!



Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Blustery Day

It's a Wind's Day, as Piglet calls it in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day
 but that doesn't keep tourists away from our beaches.
 After all, they've traveled far and away to escape the snowy conditions of the north
 and they're bound to make the most of it, blustery weather or not.

While palm branches above the tiki rooftops stir up restless sounds,
 the wait staff at Sharky's serves their guests sea salads, sun-coast sandwiches,
 and frozen specialties.

At Sharky's bar, customers gather around a fascinating diver who entertains them
with an awe-inspiring collection of fossilized sharks' teeth that he
plumbed from watery depths nearby.

A fine way to spend a Wind's Day.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dragon Fruit

Brother Virg refers to Florida as the land of sunshine and honey~~where the sun shines over the sea and everyone calls you "honey." Southern sweetness to go with peaches and cream, kiwi and mangoes, plantains and dragon fruit.

Unfamiliar to me, dragon fruit turned up at the grocery store this week and curiosity put it in my shopping cart. I asked the cashier what it was like and she called the manager over to give me an answer. "It tastes like a cross between kiwi and cucumber," he said.

Slicing it in half as I would an avocado,
 I scooped the flesh from the pink cup with a spoon.
Delicious. Subtle. Refreshing.
Another one of Eden's sweet enchantments.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's a sparkling day today. Windows are open and easterly winds breeze in.
 Now that sultry summer temps have passed, we're treating the house to fresh autumn air while our dining room chimes, relieved from still air,
 respond with a spirited tune.

Across the street, Bob washes his big, black truck which he'll polish until it gleams.
 Next door, Carmen, sitting in her open garage, entertains dog walkers who stop by to chat.
 And Barbara rings our doorbell, inviting us for home-made apple pie.

It's a good, good day in the neighborhood.
All is peaceful...all is calm. The hammock awaits...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pumpkins, Zinnias, and Sunshine

 We're back in Florida where sunshine abounds. The brilliant oranges of Fall appear in local garden stores and we're busy in our back yard, cutting away the extra growth borne of summer rains. Occasionally, a cold front sweeps southward from the northern frontier...which we love...only to disappear into higher temps again. We're snowbirds following the sun so we're OK with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Breathless, we flung us on a windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
~~Rupert Brooke

From our trip to northern Italy...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Looking Back

View from our hotel terrace. Swans swim in the sunlit waters.
Sidelined by a long oral surgery recovery, I've resorted to armchair travels through our picture archives. Turns out, one of my favorite stops is Hallstatt, a salt-mining village in upper Austria near the Hallstatter See.

This enchanting little avenue with greens growing gleefully through the cobblestones was a magical invitation for me to enter the shopping district above.
Once there, I was drawn into a little courtyard filled with garden furniture draped with moss and all manner of nature's goodies. Although the shopkeeper had practical presents for tourists to buy (clay trivets for the table), these pieces seemed assembled by fairy hands.

Don't you know that everybody's got a Fairyland of their own?
T.L. Travers, Mary Poppins

A work in progress: First a bit of structure, an armature. Then the decorative material.
A pretty portable pot but I couldn't take it home on a plane :(

Long ago, I posted this little handmade boat
 while wondering why it was built this way.
Now I know:
 Because the waters along the village are so shallow and calm, boatmen like to use this ancient flat design for getting around. It's also great for gliding among the swans that inhabit the lake.


Thursday, June 26, 2014


If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant...

...if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
 prosperity would not be so welcome.
~~Anne Bradstreet [Meditations Divine and Moral]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Doing Nothing

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,
 of just going along,
listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.
~~Pooh's Little Instruction Book
From my book shelves, I've rediscovered another little instruction book:
The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne with photographs by Erica Lennard.
It's a Clarkson Potter publication from 1998.
I'm taking it to the doctor's office and plan to read chapter 10: the art of waiting.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Duck, Duck: View from the Balcony

They're busy in the cattails...
tending babies and assuring our entertainment for the summer.

Three little chicks survived the cold snaps while Landon celebrated his fourth birthday. Soon he'll be tossing bread pieces to them from our balcony.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Last Look...

I walked down Venice Avenue to Venice Beach for one last time this season and happened upon Erin and her beach-yoga-loving lovers. They were rising from the last instruction as a boat passed by.
I heard Erin say this was the last session of the winter season
 and that the summer schedule would be posted soon under the cabana.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

White Birds of Paradise

Three Giant Birds of Paradise with bluish-purple tongues
 and white plumage (sepals) grace our backyard jungle today.

Strelitzia Nicolai are among the rare plants that contain the Bilirubin pigment,
 usually found in animals.
These enchanting flowers are followed by triangular seed capsules.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Singing Easter Joys

We're spending happy hours in the choir loft this Holy Week, rehearsing and singing our way from Maundy Thursday through Saturday night's Easter Vigil. Sunday's plan is to raise the roof with glorious choral Alleluias accompanied by bells, a brass ensemble with tympani and pipe organ.
Music passed down through the centuries.
Below: An illuminated song from the 15th century studio of
Domenico Ghirlandio.
Image: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Last Light...

 ...the redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black.
~~Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.
~~George R. R. Martin

There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand.
~~Charles Morgan

Saturday, March 22, 2014


She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead."
~~A.A. Milne When We Were Very Young
It is spring again.
The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.
~~Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sisters of Perpetual Charity

I call them my sisters of perpetual charity~~generous souls who, year after year, thrill to the joys of comforting the lost and lonely with fabric works of their hands. I'm the happy beneficiary of their fun and friendly partnerships, a blessed release from what could be empty hours of retirement.
 Little sundresses, in small, medium, and large, have pockets for "treasures."
 Last year, our Sarasota Modern Quilting Guild sent 275 "Little Dresses" to Africa.

This year, the guild's charity project is making crib quilts from fabric scraps. We're currently stitching diagonal half-squares to share and swap at our next meeting~~the swap will give the quilts better color coordination. I'm planning a pink and yellow quilt top for the sew-in following the swap of squares. We'll sew and chat, learn new tricks of the trade, and pass out sewing tips of our own.

I spend Monday mornings from October-April with another group~~forty-five members of the Dorcas Quilt Mission. From fabrics and sheets donated by members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, we cut, assemble, stitch and tie 60 x 80-inch quilts. Lutheran World Relief's global outreach ships our quilts to displaced refugees in war-torn regions. We make 850 quilts each year, rolling them tightly into large shipping cartons for transfer. These quilts serve as body wraps, blankets, carpets on tent floors, tent walls, shades from the sun, and sometimes a shroud.
For all I gain from belonging to these fun-and-friendly groups,
 a gift of my time is all it costs.
A splendid pleasure in itself. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday Kyrie

Keep me, above all things, from sin.
Keep me from loving money in which is hatred,
From avarice and ambition that suffocate my life.
Keep me from the deadly works of vanity
and the thankless labor for pride and money and reputation.
~~Thomas Merton

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's National Pancake Day!

Who knew?! Maybe IHop started it.
Or maybe it's an adaptation of England's Shrove Tuesday,
the day before Ash Wednesday when pancakes are eaten.

In Venezia, they call this day Mardi Gras, the last day of Carnevale.

We visited Venezia in 2009.

It' Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, Key West and other convivial towns~~
the last chance to indulge in fats and sweets before Lent begins.

We live in Venice, Florida, named after Venezia.
 We fancy ourselves somewhat Venetian with canals and waterways, boat parades,
 Italianate architecture and a local newspaper called The Gondolier.

 Few of us wear these masks (mine hang on a hook by the door)
 but it's a fun decorative celebration of feathers and sequins.

There will be a pancake supper at church tonight ~~
we'll wear our beads :)