Thursday, December 31, 2009

The end of another year

We lack only an hour and a bit to see the old year out and the new one in, but I'm not sure we can stay awake that long.

We returned this evening from three days with the new parents and new baby. She is beautiful and lovely and they are besotted with her. They are sweet and anxious and want to do everything exactly right for her. She is mellow, makes chirping noises every now and then, eats, sleeps, poops, opens her eyes and tries to focus. Occasionally she's awake and alert, but mostly she's recovering from her entry into this world. She likes being swaddled, but tries to get her tiny hand up toward the top. She likes to stretch her legs. But mostly she likes to be rocked. And rocked. She's not too sure about her cradle, will sleep in it for a bit, but being rocked and cuddled is her favorite. Fortunately there was no shortage of rockers and cuddlers.

We had to remind the new parents to eat, to hydrate, to stretch. We didn't need to remind them to sleep, as they are both tired, but, like tired children, don't want to go to bed lest they miss some new facet of their new daughter. I tell them they have time, but they don't want to miss a second, and she is spell-binding.

And, as the year closes, so does my reading of David McCullough's work. I finished John Adams Tuesday. What a remarkable man. What a remarkable book. What a remarkable writer. I hope he's busy on something new that will captivate me as these eight books have done. Now I'm reading The 19th Wife, about pologamy and sad children cast out into the world. It's a hard book to read in light of Grace's arrival, because I cannot fathom how anyone could cast out a child. Sigh. I feel a need to get back in the car and drive for another rocking and cuddling session, but have to be patient. There is another grandmother, and she should have her chance. (But I live closer!!!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Different Sort of Waiting

Grace has been in this world nearly two days now. Such a lovely name, Grace. I have heard her squeek over the phone and have seen her photos, but she always has her eyes shut, as if she's not ready for her close-up.

The kids brought her home last night and then stayed up all night with her, taking turns feeding, changing, holding, mostly holding. She likes holding. They like holding her. It works out well for the three of them.

We are hoping to visit soon so we can hold her ourselves, but we want to be totally rid of this wretched flu. Gifts have been loaded into the car. The rocking chair we bought 35 years ago came back from the refinisher last Wednesday, in time to go next to the tree. Now it's been maneuvered into the back seat, after careful measuring. Large chair, small car, but it works. All sorts of things are working out this season.

The right-coast kid has a ticket for later in the month, so we'll see him soon. We can do Christmas then, trade presents, generate a pile of paper. It will work out too.

Now, if only this flu would work itself out of our systems, we'd be on the freeway, putting an end to this grandparent-waiting, going to meet our granddaughter!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Second Christmas

Irene calls this day Second Christmas; in the UK it's Boxing Day, it's also St Stephen's Day, and Wren Day, but forever more it will be the day my first grandchild arrived.

She didn't arrive in the usual way to her parents' arms and hearts, but was carried and delivered by someone else, then given freely to a couple she chose to care for this tiny girl. We had five weeks of secret preparation before she arrived, and she is six days early, already eager to see the world that is waiting for her. The kids were in the delivery room when she appeared, and she was put into their arms. She was already in their hearts, and ours. Tomorrow or the next day they will take her home with them.

She is a present we had hoped for but didn't expect just now, but that's the way of it all, nice things happen in this season.

We can't visit her till this flu is gone, but I am content to wait a bit. She is tiny and needs to be protected, even from us just now. Merry Second Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Still waiting...

It's Christmas night, nearly into the 26th, and it was a quiet and lovely day. We are still sick, still sniffling, but our fevers are gone and so is most of the aching that flu brings. We woke to a quiet house, no one was stirring because no one was here except for the two of us. This is the first Christmas morning we have not spent with our children under our roof. They are really no longer children, grown and out into the world, with roofs of their own, but they've come home each year for Christmas as a family. This year, of course, we told them not to come. Although I missed them, we would feel so guilty if any of them got sick. This flu is one present we don't want to pass on. I wish we knew how it came to us.

We had a nice breakfast with a baked pineapple french toast dish that I'd put together last night. Throughout the day friends and family called to wish us well, and we read and watched TV and slept. We had more ham. We will be revisiting the ham for quite a while, I believe, but the cranberry salad is nearly gone. I can make more. There is nothing better than the taste of ham with my grandma's cranberry salad.

We are waiting for recovery and for what the next few days may bring, with patient hearts and lots of tissue. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting with John Adams

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas...

In our family today is known as Christmas Adam, from a time long ago when our son, who had just been introduced to the story of Adam and Eve, felt that if Eve got a day before Christmas, than so should Adam, and since Adam was made before Eve, his day should come before hers. The kids made up a song about it, to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," but I won't sing it here.

We are waiting, but it's not for Christmas. Christmas has been cancelled this year. We both have the H1N1 flu, and it is lingering and draining. The local kids don't want to come down and risk being sick, so they bowed out a few days ago, over the phone, promising to get together when we are all healthy. The out-of-state kid doesn't want to risk germs either, and his plight was compounded by the impending storm across the midwest that he would have had to fly through to get here. Tonight he was able to cancel his ticket, at a small cost, and he will come out in a few weeks.

Last weekend we didn't celebrate our 39th Anniversary, but it came anyway. The appropriate gift was matching boxes of Kleenex. We waved to each other across the room and toasted ourselves with hot tea and orange juice. Monday we talked about venturing forth for food, but neither of us had the energy. Yesterday my sweetie braved the world to bring back juice, a ham, some yams, and eight dozen roses. The house looks lovely, and we can smell them if we get quite close. We had planned to go out to dinner, but we'll wait for that until next year.

The house is semi-decorated, but that's okay. The tree is up and there are lots of flowers around. The baking had been started, but I won't be going through the neighborhood tomorrow taking cookie platters to friends.

In all our years together, we have never kept Christmas alone. At first there were his parents on Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas Day, then larger family gatherings at our house or my parents or my sister's, but never just the two of us. It's odd to think that we'll do it this year, as a preview to the years when again, kids can't come and we can't go. I'm planning a nice dinner tomorrow night and a good breakfast Friday morning. We usually go to a party after Christmas Eve dinner, but that is off the schedule too, of course.

This flu messes with our eyes, causes them to tear and blur, so that reading is difficult, but we've been dozing through our collection of Christmas movies,
The Holiday, The Last Holiday, Pocket Full of Miracles, 3 Godfathers, We're no Angels, Donovan's Reef. Tomorrow will be Miracle on 42nd Street or The Bishop's Wife. I say "our" collection, but the truth is that I picked these. He watches and sneezes, and snoozes.

All of which brings me to my waiting to get back to my year with David McCullough. It's coming to a close. In the fall of 2008 we greatly enjoyed John Adams, all ten hours of it. An added bonus was an interview with McCullough, upon whose book the film was based. He sounded so charming that I felt I should read his other works, and I have, all except the final and most recent one, John Adams. I had started it and was reading along happily, got through our Revolution and was admiring his handling of the Barbary states, when this stupid flu intervened and put me off track. For several days I've been unable to read the small print of this volume, and I fear that I won't finish before the 31st. But each day my eyes are better, and tomorrow instead of bringing cookies to our friends I'm going to bring out John and see how he deals with those rascals who kidnapped our sailors and then demanded an outrageous payment. I have three hundred pages and eight days.

All sorts of changes coming in the next few days. We're waiting patiently and impatiently for them to unfold.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Help & The Innocents Abroad

I finished The Help but didn't want it to end. The characters became so real to me that I wanted to know what happened next. I needed to know. But that's the way with good books, isn't it, they leave the reader wanting more. This is a first novel, and I can only hope that her second will be on the shelves soon.

Book Club, which is tonight, chose Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, which I had to order from the library. When I picked it up last week I checked the last page, found that there were 406 pages, and divided accordingly, so that I would have a minimum number of pages to read to be finished in time. But as I read I didn't seem to be progressing as rapidly as expected. Alas, the book contains two volumes, Vol II is 406 pages, but Vol I is an additional 311, so my arithmatic was very wrong. I spent the weekend following Twain through Greece and Turkey and now the Holy Lands, and I have 65 pages to finish before this evening.

This is not a book I would have chosen to read, and it's amusing, but not his expected humor. The funniest part so far (and I'm near the end, so I doubt that there are many more funny parts) was the recital of his weeping at Adam's grave.

Since I stopped photographing my breakfasts I find I don't check Blogger every day, and as a result my dashboard often shows several posts from other blogs I follow, and then I have to catch up on all their doings.

Back to Twain! Have a good reading day!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Help

I've finished Kathryn Stockett's The Help and I'm sorry that it is so, because I want to know what happens next. That is the best sort of book, one that introduces characters that are so real that it seems wrong for the final page to be the end of the story. This first novel is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s, about women of color and women who are raised by them and who, as adults, employ them.

Monday, November 2, 2009


This morning I finished David McCullough's 1776, which I thought was going to be a comprehensive cover of that first year, but wasn't. Instead it was a detailed account of George Washington's first year as commander-in-chief. What a time he had! A success in March in Boston and then nothing but defeat and retreat till that famous crossing of the Delaware in December. It's a wonder that the war was successful, so that it could be termed a Revolution instead of just another rebellion. McCullough presents the military events and politics of both sides in a fascinating account.

We are taught American History from grade school onward, a sanitized version without the mean drama and stress to all involved. Sometimes one side didn't so much win as take advantage of the other side's lack of action. Sometimes weather intervened for good or not. Sometimes it was just luck.

Last week my husband asked me if Washington really stood up in the boat, as depicted by Leutze. The answer is, probably they all did. They crossed in scows used to transport pig iron, 40 men at a time. Many were barefoot, in freezing weather. That battle was really a minor event, but has been elevated in American history to become much more than it was. I wonder if the painting helped with that elevation.

I have The Help to read and then John Adams. My year with McCullough will be at an end.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Waiting for coffee

One of the irritations of getting older is a dependency on meds that inflict additional annoyance in addition to the condition that requires the meds in the first place. Every morning I take a pill and then must wait an hour before eating. That hour is usually spent at the computer, or reading, or some other quiet activity that does not require much, because I haven't had my coffee yet, and my brain is not awake.

Lately I've been playing Lexulous, a sort of mini-Scrabble, which does require some thought, so I've got in the habit of leaving myself notes in the game as to possible words I can play in the mornings. This is a leisurely game. I post a word. Eventually my opponent posts a word. Eventually the game is done. I win more than I lose, but not at an astonishing rate. Slightly above average, is my guess. I do better after coffee.

And now it's time to turn on my little machine and separate my eggs!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I've stopped all that

Although I've stopped photographing my breakfast each day, I feel a mental tug as I sit down, Wait, where's the camera? You didn't take a photo! But then I remember that I've stopped all that.

It was fun to see if I could do something for a year, but I never really got in the habit of that photograph before coffee. The camera sat plugged into the computer from the previous day's uploading, and I'd have to walk back to get it. I seldom remembered it when checking the morning's emails.

Mostly the photos were the same, with minor variations. When we went on trips I'd try to show where we were, but breakfast can be the same anywhere. I didn't take photos on planes, because I think it's alarming to see a flash go off whilst confined in a small tube tens of thousands of feet above the earth.

We were once coming in for landing in Atlanta, in clear weather, and the tail of the plane was struck by lightning. I was in the middle of three seats, talking to the girl who had the aisle seat. She was from Spain, and she'd been showing me photos on her laptop of her mother's kitchen in northern Spain (but now I forget the town), so that I was turned toward the aisle, when I heard a tremendous crash, like a giant aluminum baseball bat hitting a metal trash can, and a ball of fire rolled up the aisle from tail forward. It happened very fast, and if I hadn't been turned that way I would have missed the soccer-ball-sized incandescence that flashed by.
The pilot was so calm about it, but he got the plane down quickly.

There was a time when I went out to breakfast weekly or better, but now none of the group wants or needs to get up so early, so we meet for lunch, and it's nicer to have my eggs and coffee and book without getting dressed first. We are rather quiet at breakfast, each eating and reading and exchanging small comments about the day's plans. And the camera has stayed plugged into the computer at the other end of the house.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dracula is not for me

Since I've stopped taking photos of my breakfasts, I've stopped typing out my posts. I'm composing them in my head, but they don't seem to trickle down through my fingers onto the keyboard.

I've stopped reading Bram Stoker, just too horrid, and am instead reading A House in Corfu by Emma Tennant. It's her account of her parents' move in the early 1960s to Corfu, where they built a lovely house on a hillside with beautiful views of the water. I wish there were more photos, but her descriptions paint wonderful images in my head, the perfect thing to replace Stoker's.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Neil Gaiman, I'm so cross with you!!

Some time in the past year I started adding as labels the titles of the books I read at breakfast, and I'm sorry I didn't do it from the start. It would be nice to have a record of all I've read, but I didn't.

Most of the year was spent reading the works of David G McCullough, who writes fascinating books, but I am in a book club that meets every third Monday of the month (changing in January because of the holidays), so I had a lot of odd books to read also. For October, we are reading Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I have never read. I have the annotated edition, with pictures, maps, notes by Leslie S Klinger, and an intro by Neil Gaiman.

I am a big Gaiman fan, and have read his books with pleasure, so I dived into the Introduction, only to find, alas, that he gives away the end of the book! I didn't want to know! I realize this book has been around for a long, long time, but I've never read it, and I've never seen any of the films. I suppose my closest acquaintance with vampire Counts is Count Count from Sesame Street. But now, alas I know that...but I won't write it, in case you don't know the ending either.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Egg poaching pan

While my coffee machine is an undisputed necessity, I have no personal attachment to it. They last for eighteen months or so and then stop working and I buy another one at Target. They're cheap. But my egg pan is something else.

My parents met in Savannah, Georgia, in the closing days of WWII. They were both in the Coast Guard. My Dad had been on a small ship in the south Atlantic looking for u-boats. They never saw any, and the ship's gun was fired only for practice. My Mom graduated from college and enlisted. She was primarily a recruiter, traveling with a group of women, signing up men who wanted to join the CG. When recruits were no longer necessary, she became one of the many women processing men as they returned to civilian life. She worked with a Thompson sub-machine gun under her desk, using it as a footrest. She said they were supposed to use the guns to defend the records, should anyone come in to steal them, but the joke was that the guns were so heavy the women couldn't lift them easily.

Mom's tour was ended, but Dad was still in uniform when they married. It was a small wedding, and one of their favorite wedding presents was this egg pan. They set up housekeeping in half of a little duplex on Tybee Island, on the Atlantic coast, and Mom learned to cook. Poached eggs on English muffins with bacon was a favorite breakfast for them.

This pan, made in the USA by Wearever, seems to wear forever, and I'm so glad. It's older than I am by a year or so, but it still does the job perfectly.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cast and Crew

Mr Coffee latte machine

There was much discussion amongst the cast and crew of this production as to the credits. Several contenders for top honors pitched a down-and-dirty campaign for star billing. The final consensus was that between the poached eggwhites and cafe latte there was really no choice, because I can have a day without eggs, but not without my latte.

However, during the photo shoot some animosity developed when the Mr Coffee tried to block out the Starbucks Breakfast Blend, as evidenced above.

Daily grind

In the interests of fairness, another shot was taken, to allow the bag the limelight, but I don't think its best side (the inside) was photographed.

Monday, September 28, 2009



A year ago last Saturday I started this blog, and the next day we went away for the weekend, and I had to post two photos Sunday night. Not the best start, but somehow I’ve managed to post a year’s breakfasts, mostly in California, but some in Florida and Illinois, France, England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany.

When I started this I had just ended probate on my mother’s estate, and I had a lot of lovely old linen, from her mother and her mother’s mother. I have napkins from my grandma’s trousseau, and placemats hand edged by her mother for her. My mother chose to preserve these in boxes, but I thought I would use them, because I really don’t see the boys being excited at the prospect of inheriting them.

Also, Irene had been urging me to start a blog. She writes daily of her life in the Netherlands. Long ago we raised children together and had what I thought was a lot of fun, but her life took several twists and now we communicate mostly by internet. She has been my sole follower and of late she's quit commenting, because, after all, these breakfasts are pretty much the same, day after day.

Along the way I added the books I'd been reading, and I wish I'd done that from the start, because I read a lot in the morning. Breakfasts are quiet in this house, both of us reading and easing into the day.

I won't say it's been fun, but it's been interesting.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009