Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Max’s Birthday

2010_1220DEC100001 Actually, Max’s birthday was yesterday, the 28th---he just turned 15!  Do you remember when you were 15???  Because his brother had to leave on the 27th, we sort of celebrated all Christmas weekend 2010_1225DEC100019  2010_1225DEC100025  2010_1226DEC100031 AND Monday---Tuesday, (his actual birthday), he went shooting rifles with his Dad along with his friend, E., and his Dad.  You see, E got a rifle for his birthday, and couldn’t wait to shoot it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Besides, Monday, the 27th was E’s 15th birthday too!  Max, E and his other friend L, usually celebrate together because their birthdays are so close together (L’s birthday is Jan. 7th).   Then, after the rifle shooting, that evening Max and E went to boxing class2010_1227DEC100013 and worked up quite a sweat. 2010_1227DEC100014

Well, Max’s actual birthday was a rainy, windy day, so we stayed pretty much inside while he played his new video games and goofed off.  Then, today, Wednesday, he went to visit L over in Yuba City, about 2 hours from here.  He’ll be gone until sometime this coming weekend.

It’s so hard to believe Max is already 15.  It seems like only last week he was going to Kindergarten, and only a few days ago that he graduated from the 8th grade.  But now, he’s a freshman in High School and playing High School sports and enjoying the school band program.  He’s thrown off his little boy innocent face and a bright young man is shining through that big grin.  Why, by next year at this time, he’ll be wanting to get his driver’s license…  Oh no!  He can’t be THAT old yet!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX!   2010_1220DEC100003

Monday, December 27, 2010


DSCF0919 Coming back from the city of Napa the other day, we (Sean, Max and I) stopped at this castle winery for a look-see.  Sean and his girlfriend had visited it when they were here before and peaked my interest.  Most of you don’t know how much I LOVE castles.  Just ask Carol Dee.  One of our fondest memories together centers around a lost castle---but that’s another story.

DSCF0920 This castle was brought over from Italy, stone by stone and reconstructed in the Napa Valley.  DSCF0926 You can’t see it from the road, so I had no idea it was there!  But it is spectacular to come over the small hill and see a beautiful castle.  We were able to wander around, but they charged a fee to go inside, so we passed on that one---for now, anyway.  We’ll save that tour for another day.  But the grounds and up-close views of the stonework DSCF0921 and metal work DSCF0927 were fun.  There were also sheep in one pasture where I took this “sheep shot:” DSCF0928   This cat appeared to be the official “castle cat” DSCF0925 as he sat at the entrance, and collected all pets.  Reminded me of Caruso.  The boys rolled their eyes when I insisted on pics of them, but humored me anyway.  DSCF0923

All in all, it was fun to see this little jewel hidden in the Napa Valley.DSCF0932 DSCF0931

Friday, December 24, 2010


DSCF0893 Christmas is nearly here and our oldest, Sean, is home from the Navy this year!  It’s so good to see him again and watch him and Max exchange teases!  Sean arrived around 2 in the afternoon after a long grueling drive from San Diego.  He was wearing his new Navy uniform, which is a blue cammo! DSCF0901 Pretty spiffy!  He said he wore it because the matching raincoat was so nice and he thought he might need it. 

The boys played pool a while DSCF0898 before coming in and dragging out their musical instruments. DSCF0906 What fun to watch and hear the two of them playing together in front of the Tree! DSCF0910 Sean brought his old metal clarinet DSCF0907 and sounded spectacular with the bass accompanyment.

After Christmas, Sean will head on up to Bremmerton, WA, where the ship is in dry dock, in his car.  That way, he’ll have his car there.  He has a cute one-room, furnished apartment that is rented on a month to month basis, so he can easily leave when he needs to.  He’s only stationed up there until sometime in the spring, when he will go to China Lake, CA.  Dates are not certain yet for when that will happen.

So nice to have family all together for Christmas!  Happy Holidays to all!!!DSCF0905


Oh, and I promised to put up my recipe for Meringue Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat 2 egg whites until stiff, then add

3/4 cup sugar slowly, beating it in thoroughly before adding

1/8 t. salt and 1/4 t. vanilla (or mint).  Mix in a 6 oz. (approx. 1 cup) package of chocolate or mint chips.

Then, on a sheet of parchment paper (or an old paper bag cut to fit your cookie sheet), spoon by teaspoon onto sheet (can be close together).  Put tray in oven and TURN OVEN OFF.  Leave in over-night.  In morning package and freeze or refrigerate.  If the cookies come out soft and chewy, freeze---the meringue will harden just right!  Enjoy!  I always make a double batch and still they disappear fast!!!  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who says cats don’t have a sense of humor??

Christmas is nearly here---Caruso has discovered the low tree ornament and chooses to keep it company.  DSCF0885 Then he remembers how much he likes Rudolf and for just an instant, transforms into the famous reindeer.  DSCF0886 Ah, but that was too much work.  DSCF0887

Sunday, December 12, 2010

White Bird Week

DSCF0878 What a crazy week!  I worked like crazy getting all those out-of-tune pianos up to par.  But when I came home, an amazing thing greeted me one evening---a pair of white geese waddled across the driveway.  Max was with me then and thought at first they were “giant ducks.”  I knew they were geese, by their size and bills, but I don’t think he’s ever seen domestic geese---the white ones. DSCF0877 Well, these two geese hung around for at least two days---they were quite skittish and when I tried to get pics of them, they noisily told me “Don’t you dare come closer.”  Then they took off, flying for short distances before landing and looking back at me, as if to say, “Can’t catch us!”

Then, just yesterday when we were coming home after retrieving Max from a friend’s house, our local wild turkey “herd” crossed the road in front of us. DSCF0880 I slowed to a stop for them to cross.  I admit I haven’t seen them in ages, but we were all surprised to see this snow white addition.  I’m not positive it was an albino wild turkey, as I couldn’t get close enough to check the eyes, but it sure had the same slim look as the wild ones and with those pinkish legs, was a real stand-out in the herd.  DSCF0879 Wish I could get closer for a better shot.  I’ll keep a lookout for the herd now that I know there is a white one among them.  After looking online, one place DID say true albino wild turkeys are RARE.  Most of the pics online were from Michigan and southern areas, none from CA.  Have any of you out there seen any albino wild turkeys?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Glad we have rain…

Christmas_fireplace Ah, the days, they are a-flying by!  The holiday will be upon us before I even get the decorations up, at this rate.  Luckily for us, our Navy boy, Sean, will be home for Christmas this year, so we’ll have the family all together for the first time in YEARS!  That’s gift enough for me. 

I’ve been tuning and tuning like a madwoman---thank goodness for the work!  People have been so generous this year and for that I am truly thankful.  The Christmas Spirit seems to be stronger this year than in the past.  Perhaps it is due to the economic status or maybe because folks are discovering that Christmas is a time for GIVING rather than grabbing.  Or maybe, I’m just lucky and can put all that greed out of my mind for the time being.  Since I am NOT sending anything out via post office or UPS this year, it all seems…well strange.  For years I’ve mailed tons of stuff and been so relieved when it’s all done and I can concentrate on just our family here.  This time, that stress has been lifted and I can look at the season through different eyes.  Besides, I’m MAKING most of the gifts this year (that’s my excuse for not blogging more!), so I have plenty to prepare for. 

Just got a call from Sean, who says he’ll be driving up here on the 23rd and leaving for Washington State around the 27th.  It’ll be great to see him again!  Enjoy the weekend. 

(The Girls say HI and are still laying 5 to 6 eggs a day!)

Monday, November 29, 2010


DSCF0876 In 1968, Charlton Heston, Maximilian Schell, and Leslie Neilsen made a movie called, COUNTERPOINT, in which a 70-piece orchestra and its world famous conductor (Heston) are captured by the Germans in Belgium while on tour for the USO during WWII. counterpoint2 The patrol commander has instructions to shoot every prisoner, an order that is countermanded by a music loving general (Schell) who demands the captives give a concert.  counterpoint9 The stubborn conductor refuses, risking his life and all those in his troupe.  Leslie Neilsen played the 1st violin (or concert master) in a completely serious role.  I love this photo, which hangs near my piano in our living room, along with other music-related photos.  Most folks don’t notice that it’s actually Charlton and Leslie in the picture until they look closely at it.  This movie has been a favorite of mine since I was in High School.  I loved watching Charlton conduct Beethoven’s 5th, and some of the other classics.  The music in the film was spectacular and the story was great, in my opinion.  I’m just sorry that it’s still unavailable on DVD or even VHS.  Perhaps one day, we will be able to view all of the Heston films on DVD.  I’ll be especially happy to see this one when it comes out.

Counterpoint autographed One of the best quotes is when Heston confronts the Officer (Schell):  “Now we’re not just a bunch of itinerate fiddlers, do you understand?  We’re a highly respected, internationally known symphony orchestra, and if you make the mistake of shooting one of us, you’ll be a lieutenant for the rest of your life,  LIEUTENANT!”

Counterpoint 1 When the Lieutenant sits down at his piano and whips out a quick Bach number, Heston comments, “Prostitution isn’t the only profession that has been ruined by amateurs!”

We will certainly miss Leslie Neilsen, who graced the stage with so many different characters---especially his role in AIRPLANE!  Another of our great actors gone---it makes me feel so old to see these actors disappear…but their films will live on and so will they!  celebrity-pictures-leslie-nielsen-ferrell-slapstick

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Catching up

DSCF0861 I know it’s been a while since my last post, but things have been about the same here.  It’s been cold at night---well below 32 and fallish during the day with temps around 65 or lower mostly.  

Thanksgiving came and went.  Max ended up going with his friend, L, and siblings to Santa Rosa with L’s dad for most of the week.  They had fun:  seeing the new Harry Potter (rats, I still haven’t seen it yet---probably wait until the DVD comes out now) movie, going to the beach, playing endless Monopoly games, and kicking the soccer ball around (inventing all kinds of competitive games).  Hubby and I had a quiet holiday here at home.  We went to a friends for dinner on Thursday and enjoyed it, even though everyone missed Max.

2004_0805Image0033 (2) Talked to my 93 year old Mom the other day.  She’s doing well, although bummed out that so many people are dying around here---she says, “It seems like we have Memorial Services every day around here!”  When I asked about her childhood friend, Lavancha, (with whom she’s kept in touch over the years) in Michigan, she told me that she thought Lavancha was crazy---that she was going down south with another 94 year old lady friend driving her friend’s motor-home, just the two of them.  My Mom was appalled that they would attempt that!  “Can you imagine being on the road with a 93 and 94 year old woman at the wheel??”  Mom told me she was going to my brother’s house (only a couple of miles away) for dinner on Thursday.

Well, no news of real earth shattering importance here.  Max’s concert went off just fine, albeit a tag too long (listening to the adult orchestra’s 3 hour rehearsal too!).  The kids sounded just fine---but they wouldn’t let me take pictures.  Bahhh!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy Weekend

DSCF0871 In spite of the Winter Storm that descended on us yesterday, we were lucky NOT to get any snow here.  There was snow up on Cobb Mountain, near us, and just north of Lakeport (where Max has his bass lesson).  When Max and I went up to his lesson yesterday afternoon, snowflakes splatted on our windshield for a short period of time.  However, nothing stuck---it was still in the 40’s then. 

Today is the Fall Concert for the Lake County Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra up in Lakeport---so we get to make that trek again (yes, I’ll get pictures! ). Only, this time it will be bright and sunny---albeit still chilly out.  We may get more rain (it’s predicted) but probably nothing like the snow from yesterday.  By Tuesday afternoon, the storms should have passed and things are supposed to be nice and warmer for Thanksgiving.

Max’s friend, L, is coming for a couple of days before the holiday and so we’ll probably go to the new Harry Potter movie while he’s here.  Can’t wait! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall in Napa Valley

DSCF0869 Had a job down in the Napa Valley yesterday and with much swivel-headed driving, finally stopped at a vineyard for some pics of the great colors. DSCF0864 The air is heady at this time of year with many grapes still unharvested.  You can almost get drunk just breathing the air.  DSCF0868 But the different types of grapes turn brilliant shades of red and yellow and orange. 

The morning sun glistened off the dewy leaves and ground, further enhancing the fall colors. DSCF0865 I really enjoy driving down there at this time of year.  It’s way better than Christmas time---with all the straight white lights and very few colored ones…and of course, no snow.  Spring is pretty too, with the multitude of greens and the blossoming flowers and mustard in the vineyards.

DSCF0870 This should be the final week we have this eye candy---rain is expected for the weekend and the rest of the leaves will wither and fall. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall is definitely here!

DSCF0862 Just took this picture the other evening---the sky was so beautiful, I couldn’t resist.  There is a nip in the air in the mornings and a cool breeze through the days. DSCF0859 The smell of leaves and wood-burning stoves often fills the air reminding one of Thanksgiving and the onset of the Christmas season.

The “girls” have been busy lately: here’s a good pic of Spot (in the front) with Charlie and Fluffy. DSCF0858 The one (of the two) Orpington who is the biggest and with the most developed comb, I’ve named Fluffy because she is enormous when she fluffs out her feathers.  DSCF0855 The eggs are coming fast and furious---usually about 6 a day!  Charlie hasn’t gotten any nastier, but I still can’t turn my back on him without fear of attack.  He’s a sneaky devil, especially if you have eggs in your pockets.  I think he’s just being protective…just doing his job!

There was a rumor that a mountain lion was roaming our ditch area (which runs beside the chicken yard) but we didn’t see him at all and all the chickens are still there.  Perhaps the cat has left the area.  I guess a few cats disappeared during his stay.  Ours are fine, though.  Nothing new to report here---all is well (or as well as can be expected in this economy) and happiness reigns!