Sending all good wishes for a very Happy New Year!
May you stay well, happy and content in 2023.
Boy, I had a tough time reading in November. (And even a harder time writing about it in December so you'll get two book posts this month!) I dumped one book about five chapters in; tried picking up another WWII bio I hadn't finished and it was too heavy for me. I'm all for the Resistance but I have to be in the right mood to read it.
Then I quit another after the introduction deciding I didn't want to read the diaries of Anne Morrow Lindbergh during WWII, when her husband, aviator Charles, was advocating non-involvement in the war and anti-semites like Father Coughlin were on his side. It reminded me too much of the situation in Ukraine and the increasing signals from the incoming House of Representatives here that we should cut funding.
Maybe it was the delightful distractions of November that made reading hard. Who knows? I finally settled on two that were well worth the time and one that wasn't. (And face it, the upcoming holiday preps, physical therapy and not feeling my best didn't help much either!).
So, the books!
Happy In-Between Week! I hope your holidays have been as full of fun as ours. There was baking, a road trip, a visit to Rick's ancestors' final resting places, fun with little grands, music, merriment -- and an epic fail in the dessert line! Grab your tea and a Christmas cookie and settle in!
My house was decorated, literally one step at a time as I slowly brought up things from downstairs step by step due to a challenging back problem.
But I couldn't resist bringing up as much as possible. These are the things of memories. I want to use them all -- or as much as possible -- before the inevitable downsizing.
This Christmas Day we trust that Rick, his mom and I will be back home after several fun days celebrating the holiday with Kevin, Molly and the boys. The big snowstorm kept Greg, who has much farther to travel, away but we'll catch up with him later. (Note: Yes, we made it back safely -- and it was a very nasty road trip. Be careful out there!)
I'll have more on that soon (it was such fun!), but for today we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and if you are traveling, please be safe, especially if you are in regions affected by winter storms.
On December 20, 2007, I published my first post here on The Marmelade Gypsy. I'd just learned how to blog in an afternoon workshop that my then-boss held for those who were interested in blogging. Having already followed a few art blogs, I thought I might like to join in. This image was my first header, my Marmelade Gypsy.
Who could have imagined that 15 years later I would have overshared so much of my world! That deserves a little celebration and yes, a little drawing for some sort of thank you gift. More on that below.
Finally, I'm as decorated as I'm going to be! (That's not true. I will probably be bringing things upstairs till Twelfth Night when I start taking it down again!)
Join me on a little home tour! The nice parts, not the cobwebs and piles of stuff. Come on in! (Cue the Music!)
I share these moments of angst in the spirit of keeping it real. Because I have a feeling I'm not the only person going through some sort of pre-holiday frustration and I feel your pain. I've heard it all: "Don't do so much." Duh. But maybe you've experienced some of this and even if you are way more together than me (in real life, not what-I-see-on-your-blog life) I also have a couple of fun video links you might enjoy if nothing else!
And yes, sprinkled with a tree or two throughout -- just to show you that I am making progress!
Mix a little (OK, a lot) of wine, a little food, 14 people who haven't seen each other in awhile and you end up with a delightfully chaotic and fun day. Yes, it's the recipe for a Cork Poppers gathering, this time tasting the wines of South America!
Our gathering started with a lot of conversation, even before the first sip! Then it was on to the wines, three whites and five reds.
I really wanted to have a little craft time with the grandlittles when they came. But what project would be easy enough for a four and five year-old with a minimum of mess and easy to complete before they moved on? I opted for easy matchbox ornaments and they were a hit.
Our Thanksgiving weekend was a terrific one and I'm eager to fill you in -- except that we're still having it! So, before I do, a little more from Gardenviews and town of Northville to put you in the holiday mood! (Cue the music)
This window made me want to buy a pink tree! (I refrained!)
How many speeches do you hear at awards time that begin with "I would like to thank the Academy...," followed by a long list of people and usually ending with "and of course, my dear family..."
Well, at this season of giving thanks I thought it was time for a little list of my own. And it does NOT begin with the Academy! (But guess who it will end with!)
So this year I would like to thank....
I had my official start to the holiday season over the weekend. My friend Jan and I took our annual visit to the Northville, Michigan greens market. This year they moved it back to the center of this charming little Hallmark Town. The market was in the street and it worked rather well -- but I still miss the town square with its Santa cottage.
My world is a pretty quiet one this week and that's a good thing. I've been laying low, doing "homely" things, reading (after shelving three books because I couldn't get into them!), and beginning to plot out the upcoming holiday season. This was a motivator!
We have "fallen back" time-wise here -- and I have to admit, I have a very hard time with that. I hate it being dark so early and meanwhile Lizzie, who tells time with her stomach, starts nagging me an hour earlier for her daily bread. The day of the time change we had a huge windstorm. It was so windy that even though it was a sunny Sunday, Rick didn't ride his bike. And THAT is almost unbelievable! Later the sky looked like this.
Remembering. It's time to remember.
Last weekend Rick and I went to see John McCutcheon, a wonderful singer/songwriter, who was appearing locally. We'd seen him once before and were eager to return. As always, he did not disappoint! (The only disappointing thing was the very large crowd -- that was good -- almost all of whom were "of an age." The only place you see more gray hair is at the symphony. What will happen to music like this if no one under 50 ever hears it?!)
I can't help it. I write long book reviews. But I want you to have a feel for the book. I may love something you don't or hate something you'd love. But at least when you go into it, you'll have an idea about the story and at least what one reader thinks!
Without further ado...
Thank you, dear blog friends, for your words of encouragement and support on my last post. I think the cardioversion was successful -- at least, it was that day. Whether it sticks or not we'll see. But I'm very behind on life in general, so please forgive me if I don't reply to your last comments or am slow to visit. Doing my best to catch up!
As I was pulling together things for next week's art sale, I realized I hadn't shared a lot of art from this summer or fall. Some of these are will be included in inventory for the November sale, others are for fun and a few are pieces from the Este MacLeod color challenges, which means they are really out of my comfort zone!
Here we go!
There's something about being home after a summer spent largely at the lake that is disconcerting. It's good to be back, yet life seems to be in a slightly chaotic state. I feel like I am rediscovering things once familiar, while at the same time trying to negotiate the unpacking, the scheduling of appointments that were put off till fall, gatherings with friends and more (all while living in too much clutter and impending deadlines.)
I miss the sunsets.
Bad news doesn't help either -- but more on that later.
I've been listening to and reading a lot of news lately, especially as we lead up to the midterm elections in the U.S. And I've also heard a lot of complaining, too -- about the costs of food, gas and more. And I'm getting tired of it. (Even though I've said a few of those things myself.) But, as many of us are filling out absentee ballots, participating in early voting or planning a trip to the polls, today I'm going off the grid and taking a diversion from my usual day-to-day topics and offer some food for thought.
Because it's not all about us. It's about something much bigger.
Before I wrap up the last of our postcards from the (mostly) lake for this season, a few images and moments I want to remember that I don't think I've posted before! So here are a load of photos (check the captions) that I don't want to leave behind.
|My friend Maryanne gave me these to-die-for colors for my birthday!|
All good things come to an end. After all that glorious color, those crisp days and crispier nights, it was time to wrap up our summer -- and early fall -- at the lake.
For me, that meant a final trip to the farmer's market.
In my last post, I took you along with Rick and me for a color ride. We had such a wonderful time checking out the fall color near the cottage -- and it was just getting better and better!
So, when my friend Susan called and said she was coming to Gaylord, we decided to do another color tour.
Our year at the lake has drawn to a close. The house is buttoned up for the winter, the car stuffed to overflowing with all the things coming home that we brought up for the summer (and a cat) and outdoor furniture tucked safely into the garage or the house till next spring. Oh, I hate leaving.
It has been an odd last visit. There were so many plans that didn't happen -- road trips that didn't get taken, work that didn't get done. Having pneumonia will do that to a person. I was knocked for a loop and it was a big one. By the time I was well, the weather had pretty much gone from glorious to cold and damp. A good time to be inside; not much good for anything else. But....
My inspiring friend Dick Hill, whom I wrote about here (please read it if you haven't before) and a little bit here, offered some of his paintings for "Art for Charity." If he posted an available painting. you would make a gift to the charity of your choice, tell him what that charity is, and the painting is yours. Today, more than ever, I am grateful this one came to me, for reasons hard to speak of.
I'm not sure how I managed to pull six books out of September -- it wasn't a great month for reading. Most were pretty light mysteries (one classic), set in Ireland, France, and England. Two other non-mysteries, also set in England, were far meatier and interesting and one is on my favorites of the year list.
Rick and I decided to spend a relaxing week or two at the cottage. My last hurrah for the year, though he may come up again later. He handles the cold better than I! When the lake is as still as glass, pretty much all boat traffic apart from fishing boats is gone and the only sound you hear for the most part is distant road noise, it's a perfect time of year.
When Kevin and Molly asked if we could stay with the boys while they were at a wedding, we didn't hesitate! And it was delightful in every way!
We arrived on a gorgeous September afternoon. The weather couldn't have been nicer -- sunny, warm (but not too hot), not at all humid. We stayed home for a bit while Rick and the boys played checkers.
It has been many moons since I attended and posted about our wine tasting gang, the Cork Poppers. Covid put a halt to our gatherings, and even after vaccinations and lifting of restrictions, we were hesitant to gather into a potential super spreader. But after many moons, we are together again, this time to sample the wines from the Bordeaux region.
We met at the home of Roger and Meredith during a rainstorm (which put a stop to the anticipated boat ride up the Grand River!). No matter. The wine was flowing, the food terrific!
While Kate and I were at Art Camp we decided (for the first time in all our art camp years!) to do a road trip. And it was a very special occasion.
We were off to the charming town of Harbor Springs, Michigan, to meet up with artist Elizabeth Pollie -- whom Kate hadn't seen since she babysat for her decades before! It was an afternoon filled with fun, laughter and a delightful visit to a charming town.
My fellow Artist-in-Arms Kate and I wrapped up our annual Art Camp in mid-September, having not only have a marvelous time, but perfect weather! We also celebrated both our birthdays very belatedly and did a good deal of art! No arguing with that! We even got in a road trip!
For those who haven't followed me long, art camp is a week period time when Kate and I head to the cottage and focus on our art. But there is also time for long walks, swimming, books, Britbox and Acorn, good wine and great food. It was also the only truly relaxing time I've experienced all summer.
Like many around the world, I am mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II -- expected, but never expected at that moment and time. And during these days leading up to her funeral and final rest, it has caused me to think about my own relationship with the Queen and the British monarchy -- how it evolved and why, in these days and times, it remains so strong.
I am neither British (save for some great grandparents and beyond) nor have I ever encountered the Queen or any of her family "in person," even from afar. Why does that relationship remain strong for me and so many, while others might like nothing better than to see the backs of the royal family and their palaces and press?
One of the things I learned when I visited the Lavender Hill Farm -- and the thing in the post that so many readers commented on -- was that they cleaned their large lavender still with catsup.
I had too much company to get much reading done in August but the books I read were worth the time and the late nights! They include a political thriller, three mysteries (set in England, Florence and Venice), a non-fiction look at how a London writer adjusts to small town life on the coast of Denmark and a short book of poems by cats!
We came back to Lansing from the lake so I could go to some doc appointments and that Rick and Kitty could prepare to go meet the grands (and her great grands) over the weekend. But it was a lovely day and a good time to take Kitty on a walk through the beautiful gardens at Michigan State University.
Every summer when I was a kid, on a lovely evening, my mom and dad, her two sisters and
their husbands, and my three cousins would pile into the old station
wagon and go "elking" in Michigan's north. This activity found the six adults on
the bench seats in the front and back and the four of us kids in the
rear end of the car. It was close.
We arrived at the farm and checked in at the gift shop to book our inexpensive golf cart tour. Within a few minutes, our guide, Emily (an elementary education student at Michigan State) drove up in a golf cart and off we went.
It has been a month of house guests and the most recent has been Rick's mom, Kitty, who is visiting from Texas. She picked a good time to leave that hot state in the south for our much cooler Michigan summer.
It seems to be feast or famine for spotting birds here this summer. Most of the songbirds are high in the trees and the water birds, while my favorites to view and rarely tire of, do get redundant!
Everything this summer has been more than a little topsy turvy with a few big monkey wrenches thrown into the mix. Would my birthday be the same? Nope! It was terrific!
When we last left our family and friends, Rick had set off from friends Anne and Clayton's home to attend a memorial for a cycling mentor. He would ride the fifty or so miles and after the event, return to their home for another overnight and then take off on a bike hike. I, on the other hand, would skip the memorial, enjoy time with our hosts and then head home to enjoy two days of just-me time before the next round of activity.
Oh, the things we think we are going to do.
Through no specific plan, it seems as though the books of July focused on three topics: Paris, New York and England (specifically, London and Penzance). They include a guide book, three mysteries, a novel of historical fiction, a chick-lit novel and a non-fiction history of a renowned hotel. It's summer -- and the reading is fun and easy!
It has been an odd summer, one where we aren't quite sure where we are going or when we are going there -- or are we just staying put for a bit? You know what this one would like!
Walking in Paris -- or any city -- is filled with surprises. Look up, down, behind you, to the left and right. Into shop windows or lesser known attractions. Inside, outside. All times of day. Some of these will mean nothing to anyone but me. But I hope some of these take you a bit off the well-beaten paths! (Although I couldn't resist my favorite Eiffel Tower photo!)
Summertime and the living is easy. So they say, at any rate, but this summer seemed decidedly odd. There is a hint of instability, melancholy and uneasiness in the air, a sharp contrast to the blue skies, puffy clouds and stunning sunsets.