Monday, December 30, 2013


Here is a picture of a bubble machine at a family festival in Danielsville. I snapped this a couple of years ago.

We all love bubbles. Even adults stop, look, are mesmerized by their fragility, their beauty, their ephemeral nature. We watch to see how long one will fly, how big they can get, how their rainbow colors catch the sun.

Here is an interesting story about a mom and son who made homemade bubble juice, and went outside in the freezing cold to blow them. Now these are some pretty bubbles!

Mother and Son Blow Bubbles in Freezing Cold and Discover Something Beautiful
"After finding a soap bubble recipe online that consisted of dish soap, karo syrup and water; the mother and son braved the elements to see what would happen. The results were a breathtaking series of close-ups that showed the frozen soap bubbles in various states. Not only did each bubble freeze with their own unique pattern but they also deflated and collapsed in spectacular fashion. The series, which can be seen in its entirety on Facebook (here and here), has spread online in recent weeks."

Visit the links above to see them all. All photos by Angela Kelly

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I'm revealing secrets here

It is a cold day, and we are supposed to get over 2 inches of rain this afternoon into tomorrow. It is a good day for making soup or something else equally warm and comfy. I just put on sweat pants straight from the  dryer. AHHHH.

A few days ago I'd made a pumpkin-angel food cake with chocolate chips and that sure does taste good warmed up with a cup of chamomile tea. I plan to make split pea soup tomorrow. At the store today in addition to the split peas, I also got a bag of shredded cabbage-slaw mix and chicken tenders. They both were reduced in price. So naturally I bought them. Naturally when I got home I googled recipes with both chicken and slaw in the title and found a good one that also uses chick peas. It will be a chicken slaw taco with chickpea-mayo sauce. I don't have chickpeas but I do have hummus, and the recipe calls for grinding the chick peas up with the mayo and lemon anyway.

So that's how I roll. Whatever is on sale goes into my basket. Ask no questions first, google later.

I took this snap as I was driving:

The sky often looks very pretty over the fields in that spot. Today the sky was pinker than it looked in the picture, even though it wasn't dawn or dusk, and the streams of light were glinting down between the small openings in the clouds.

Here is a shot of Luke and one of Bert. Luke typically is next to me when I'm active, "What's going on? Is something happening? I want to be a part of it!"

Here is Bert, typically laying down. "What's going on that woke me up?! Is something happening? I don't care, I want no part of it."

My backyard before the rain hit:

My dinner, cream cheese-craisin-lettuce wrap!

Things you may or may know about me:

Secret: I like country music
Potentially embarrassing secret, hereafter named PES:
I still like Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart"

Secret: I don't like ice cream.
PES: Sometimes I eat it anyway.

Secret: I have no children.
PES: I never wanted any.

Secret: Babies are cute
PES: I feel obligated to say that, whether they are or not

Secret: I love to read novels
PES: I dislike sentimental or romantic books

Secret: I like cowboys
PES: I like cowboy yodeling

OK, that's enough for one day. I've spilled my guts, told all about making soup and my cats and my secrets. Now it's time to watch a documentary or two and drink more tea. Life in the fast lane, I tell ya.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Google's Auto Awesome

I discovered a new service from Google, that ever intruding expanding behemoth with tentacles that reach into your very heart blog. If you have "Auto Awesome" clicked on, the following are some of the services Google will perform:

Action - Take a series of photos of someone moving (dancing, running, jumping) and Auto Awesome will merge them together into one action shot where you can see the full range of movements in a single image, capturing the movement in one captivating still.

Pano - If you've taken a series of photos with overlapping landscape views, Auto Awesome will stitch these photos together into a panoramic image.

HDR - High Dynamic Range is the process of taking multiple exposures of the same image. By merging these images together, your photos will achieve a greater range of shadows and light. Uploading three similar images at different exposures--low, medium, and high exposure--will create an HDR image for you.

Motion - If you've taken a series of photos in succession (at least 5), Auto Awesome will stitch these photos together into a short animation.

What you see below is the animation Google has done to my formerly static photo of a cabin in the snow in Maine

I like it...and  don't like it. I can click OFF auto awesome, I suppose...somewhere. But on the other hand, despite being a little intrusive and creepy, it is also helpful. I guess that sums up Google these days- the behemoth that lumbered into your house and started rooting through your bureau drawers, but matched all your orphan socks before it left.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are where you want to be. If you're not, I hope the peace of God fills your heart and you can make the best of it where you ended up...

My plans on this bright and sunny morning here in Georgia are to bake pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins and cook corn chowder. I received 4 ears of corn in my Bountiful Basket on Saturday and I'll use the freshly steamed corn for the soup. As for the muffins, I'll use an angel food cake mix along with the canned pumpkin for a lighter version.

I had to go to the Dollar Store for the corn chowder's milk and chips for the muffins. The bakery aisle at the store was pretty well wiped out. I got a slab of chocolate and thought to chunk that up to substitute for chips. I asked a clerk lady if the substitution would be acceptable and she said that there was a second bakery spot and we should check there for chips first. She was a very nice clerk. She was cheerful and happy and helpful. It is so nice to interact with people who are that way, even though she had every right to feel grumpy for working on this holiday. But not a hint of that, and she was service-oriented and kind. Kindness rubs off. Her lesson by action was to teach me that. I have to remember to be cheerful and kind because our attitudes affect people.

I'm almost done with my novel, "When Crickets Cry," and I don't know what I'll read next. I absolutely love turning away from the computer in the evening, sitting on the couch with no tv, no music, no noise at all, except the hiss of the gas heat, and read. It's so quiet I can hear my snuggling cats snuffling in their sleep. I've got a few novels on deck and also the John MacArthur book "Strange Fire" on the coffee table also. So, it will be something. There is no dearth of reading choices in this house.

For me will be a warm and quiet Christmas Eve. I hope yours is wonderful. Whether quiet and just the two of you, or loud and clamorous with the whole family, or in the desert sands in a war place, or stuck in holiday ice, I truly hope your holiday is wonderful, right where you are. It is a heart matter- celebrating love, given from the One who came down as a babe to establish love as possible and everlasting.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Creative hobbies: here today, gone tomorow

Here is a watercolor flower I painted:

And then here is the result of inverting it on Photoshop:

I dunno...I think I like the inversion even better!

I recently went through all my scraps and ephemera and crafts. Over the last 7 years I've given most of it away. I've tried at intervals to revive my interest in the painting/bookbinding/collage/paperarts I'd been so involved in for many years. The drive and the interest just went away. Leaked out like air from a balloon.

I'm not particularly sad about it, but the hobby was interesting and fun. I was never that good, and I still have on my shelves the mistake books that I can't in good conscience give away and also unfinished books laying around, a testament to my overall crafty ineptitude. But was fun to scrounge for materials and it was fun to make stuff.

It was a good run. It must have been, for me to have 7 years' worth of books and cards and stuff to still have around to give away. I am back to what has been with me since the beginning and has never left me in 45 years: my writing. That and taking photos still are my number one creative outlets. And a good knock knock joke now and then.

It's enough. No matter what creative urges come and go, I let them.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bountiful Basket day, weird weather, and a quiet Saturday (updated)

Today I pick up my new Bountiful Basket of fruit and veggies. There won't be another basket offering until mid-January so I'm especially looking forward to this since I'll be home until January 6 and will munch on it at home all throughout the vacation.

I have only 3 pomelos and two mangoes left from the last one. I'm making broccoli cottage cheese casserole with a bit of the broccoli I have left, and that's it. I'm looking forward to new produce for new recipes.

I spent a quite and relaxing evening last night on the couch under my new lap blankie, a kitty or two snuggled up and my book. It was wonderful.

This morning dawned drizzly and weirdly warm. I'm a bit afraid of the tornado storms headed our way later. Whether they turn into tornadoes here or remain severe thunder and windstorms matters not to me, I'm just afraid of the severe storms. We used to have a respite from October to April, but these last few years tornadoes or the threat of them seem to come in any month now.

So I'll get my basket, go to the grocery store for essentials, check the mail at the PO and be home quick as a wink. The humid drizzle does not entice me out and I'd just rather stay in until the weird weather blows over. I'll post a photo later of the produce bounty. Even though I've been a life-long vegetarian, it tickles me that there are things in the baskets I don't know. Pomelos were new to me, as were persimmons. Pomegranates I knew but hadn't eaten one for decades. Satsuma tangerines were new to me, as were Hatch chiles. It really is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, an edible treasure and a healthy scavenger hunt combined. I love playing "What's this?"

So that is my Saturday here at the ranch. OK, the two room apartment, AKA the Nest.


This week's basket was great as usual. I received a large head of Romaine, 2 English cukes, a large head broccoli, two yellow squash, and 4 ears corn. Those are the veggies. For fruit I received two half pints blackberries, a huge amount of grapes, a serious number of bananas, 4 large oranges, and two pomegranates. I'm so thrilled!

I am also thrilled I made a cottage cheese-broccoli casserole this morning with the last of the broccoli from last time, because more is a-comin' in. I enjoy looking up things to do with different veggies so I will once again enjoy another broccoli dish in the upcoming week.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas

He looks like my Luke...and he and Bert are the best presents I ever got.

HT to my friend Beth Stone, who posted it on her Facebook wall. Her website is Beth Stone Studio, well worth a visit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The imaginary restaurant

Kindergarten kids often have a chance to 'play' at centers. I said 'play' because each station is stocked with academic games and learning things, but they think it is play. Some of the centers are academic in nature and others seem social but are actually teaching skills and imagination. Once per week they get to play in the Kitchen center, which is very enriching in terms of imagination. The kids love the Kitchen Center.

There was one little boy who was having a good time back there. He was banging pots and pans, dressed in a diner type apron, and was taking orders from the other kids sprinkled around the room at their centers and then bringing them the food.

He came over to me. He had his hand ready in a taking orders on a pad pose, and he said "What would you like to eat?"

I made a show of thinking for a moment, and then I said "I'd like a grilled cheese please."


"We're out of that."

I burst out laughing. I said "You're out of imaginary grilled cheese?"

"We don't have that. What else would you like?"

"I'd like a hamburger. And a Coke."

"No Coke. We have Dr Pepper today".

I thought to myself, "Is this the Olympia Diner?"

Anyway, the boy was cute as a button and eventually I got my hamburger and Dr Pepper. It 'cost' $4, which I thought was totally reasonable. For imaginary food, that is.

This is a video of the real diner SNL got the idea from, the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Slinky, slinky, it's a wonderful toy!

The children at school are as excited for Christmas as I've ever seen them. They exchanged their stocking stuffers today and they were thrilled over the smallest gifts. Those excited them as much as an X-Box or an iPad. They got mini-Slinkys and it was all the teacher could do to get them to put them back in their box when examining time was over and the next gift was to be passed out. They giggled in delight over a blue candy cane with a ribbon on it. They were totally content with a coloring book and crayons. They were happy kids.

Why do we overload them so in real life?

Today was the second of two staff nibbles days, where we bring something to eat and set up a nibbles buffet in the teacher's lounge. Today I tried the veggie dip (great), spinach dip (great) and a variety of other sweet and savory things. It was all pretty rich though, and by the afternoon my stomach cried uncle and begged for a cantaloupe. I had brought some cut up chilled cantaloupe for a snack and it hit the spot. Ahhh, something fresh and healthy.

Wednesday is a half day and the kids go home at noon. That's good, because today they were NUTS. Teachers from K-to-3rd grade let their classes out in the afternoon for an extra recess. Thank goodness it was 60 degrees and sunny.

Tomorrow after the kids leave we have a staff lunch. The only other obligation I have after that is picking up my Bountiful Basket on Saturday morning, and Sunday church. Otherwise I am IN like a groundhog through the winter!

Monday, December 16, 2013


It's my birthday today. Another year on planet earth!

I have a wonderful set of friends and colleagues. They gave me happy birthday wishes, cute gifts, and just overall made me feel warm and included. That is a special feeling. It is not something to be taken for granted. It's not often you can say that your work colleagues are your friends also, but these people are. They really are.

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ~ Linda Grayson.

And educators know about chocolate!

We had our Christmas play today. The people who put it together try to include as many children as possible, from all ages. It's always cute. The people who donate their art talent always make the sets look gorgeous. We have many teachers who are extremely talented singers and we're always blessed to hear them sing. I really enjoyed it, and the sentiment as usual was high this year. It centered around a soldier receiving letters from home. He was in camouflage on his bedroll, and at another part of the stage in a Christmas decorated booth were the people reading the letter as the soldier pantomimed reading it. The soldier's mom, dad, younger sister and brother, grandma, and wife read letters. In between letters a narrator explained things, and then there were songs, some fun, some traditional hymns.

In the end we all sing Silent Night.What a wonderful thing: 500 children and adults softly singing Silent Night.

As we filed out, one of the boisterous boys I know in kindergarten said: "I liked that. I almost cried!" I told him I almost did too.

Tomorrow we will have our morning as usual and then in the afternoon the kids in Kindergarten will have their Christmas party in their rooms. They pass out stocking stuffers to each other in bags they've decorated and prepared, and they then eat Christmas cookies and drink punch. I love these kids and I'm looking forward to spending a little time with each of them as I visit room to room.

Then Wednesday is a half day, and after the kids leave at noon, we have the staff Christmas luncheon. After we're dismissed Wednesday, I'm off for Christmas vacation until January 6. Woo hoo! Will I make it? I don't know. I'm an old lady now. I just had a birthday!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rainy day black bean soup

This is Saturday in December in Georgia,

Cold, rainy, dark. That's OK. It's a lot better than Saturday in December in Maine, where I used to live. Where the sun is deceptive,

And the snow never ends,

Nevertheless, it is a dreary morning so I decided to make soup. That always cheers me up! This time it will be black bean soup with roasted chilies, green peppers, and rainbow carrots. I think black beans are pretty. So I took a picture of them.

I know, I'm weird. Call me weird, geek, strange ... just don't call me late for soup.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Broccoli casserole for supper

I had a wonderful day. You know the kind when everything goes just right? And nothing bad happens? It was one of those.

I came home and cleaned up the kitchen so I could make brownies. Every year at school the staff brings their favorite nibbles for a staff Christmas buffet. It is in the Teacher's Lounge and we can go in and out all day as we have time and grab some cheese & crackers, a brownie, a chicken wing...grazing all day over whatever people have brought. It's fun. My contribution will be brownies.

I also made a broccoli casserole for dinner. I got luscious looking broccoli at the last week's Bountiful Baskets. There was a LOT of it though. Looking for a way to use a great quantity at once I looked up a recipe for broccoli casserole.

The casserole called for broccoli of course, a condensed soup, mayo, eggs, and a box of stuffing. Grated cheese would go on top.

As part of my frugal living, I've committed to no-shopping between weekly grocery shopping trips, and no making special dishes that I have to get one or two ingredients for. This saves time, energy and money. It makes me settle down and be satisfied with what I have. also forces me to be creative.

I had most of the ingredients on hand for the broccoli casserole, except for boxed stuffing mix. However, I'd bought a wagon wheel of rolls from BB last time. Half were wheat and half were pumpkin. Bountiful Baskets breads don't have any preservatives in them so you have to eat them within 3 days or freeze it. Not able to eat them in time before going over, I froze them. Hmmm, what if I used the pumpkin rolls as the dry stuffing substitute? It was a way to use the rolls up and to fix the problem of the one missing ingredient.

I defrosted the rolls, chunked them, and put them in the microwave. When they were soft I put them into the blender and ground them. It worked fine. We'll see how the substitutions work out when I taste the casserole.

I received a lovely, lovely Christmas card from one of the readers at the other blog. She put in a nice note. I am always blown away when people do that. It is so thoughtful and it means so much! There was a herb teabag inside, which tickled me. I made a cup of tea and thanked the Lord for good people.

I have a warm, inviting, comfortable home, food to cook, a job, friends at the job, and brethren out there who love the Lord. It's all good.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Five year old strikes again

I was feeling pretty good about my intellect. Then I had a conversation with a five-year old.

You see, I'd heard a joke and I liked it. I was tickled by the punchline, which eluded me until the joke was finished.

A kindergartener and I were sitting at a table, counting Christmas ornaments for math centers. She finished, so I said to her, 

"Hey, what do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?"
"A stick."
I said, "How did you know my punchline? How did you know that?"
"Cuz ... its easy."

The tone was "duh."
She #nailedit

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Day I Saw Nelson Mandela

His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Nelson Mandela died today. He was 95.

Wikipedia recounts the high points of his life thus:

"Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation."

Of the lowlights, Wikipedia writes,

"Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served 27 years in prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife."

In 1990 as Mandela was released a global frenzy erupted over his emergence back into public life. Considered a humanitarian, a statesman and a very symbol of dignity under apartheid and beyond, he embarked on a speaking tour. Just a few years later, he earned the Nobel Peace Prize (1993).

Very soon after his release from the South African prison, in 1990 he came to Boston Massachusetts. It was one of his first stops. My husband and I were living in Maine. My sister was attending college in Boston at the time and had an apartment. We made arrangements to stop at her place and then go to the Mandela talk together, with a group of her friends.

Little did we know the throngs that had also made plans to attend. A quarter of a million of them, in fact.

We missed my sister in all the hubbub, so my husband and I headed out to the esplanade, which is a long park alongside the Charles River with a clamshell at the top of it.
We tried walking over to the Park, but he crowds were thronging in a way that felt too dangerous to us. People were elbow to elbow and still piling in. We knew we'd never find my sister, and neither of us felt comfortable in the crowd. So we turned around and went the other way. We potted around in Boston city for a while, amazed at the ghost-town like quality of the place. Storrow Drive, a major thoroughfare, was empty. We walked up it, the wrong way, just to say we did. Whole blocks were deserted. Like tumbleweeds up a forgotten mining town, litter drifted down the streets that not one car or one foot moved on.

We finally made our way back to the car and decided just to head back to Maine. My husband asked me if I was sorry that I had not gotten to hear him speak. I said no, I could catch up with the news, or read a transcript later, but the crowds were too excessive for me.

He cranked up the car and down one of the deserted streets we moseyed, stopping slowly at each block's stop sign. Up ahead, I saw a clutch of very well-dressed men walking briskly on the sidewalk. It seemed that a bunch of them were circled around another man. I said to my husband as we slowed for another stop sign, "Look, something unusual about those men."

We drifted to a stop and looked right. The men stopped walking too, as they waited for us to pass and they could cross the street. The men were about ten feet from us, and all was whisper quiet, as if the entire city had been in an apocalypse and we were the only ones left. In the middle of the circle of walking men, was Nelson Mandela.

Me and my husband, him and five men. That's it. No throng of 250,000 people, no reverberating sound system, just a quiet Sunday walk. He was so close I saw his polka dotted tie and even his tie clip. His hands were gnarled and popped with veins. But what struck me was his smile. I said "Hello Mr Mandela" and he nodded his head and smiled a very bright smile that seemed to emanate from his depths and flow outward. He nodded and then the men hustled him on.

The scene was surely only a few seconds but it seemed longer even at the time. We read later that he liked to walk, having been imprisoned for many years, and despite the security risk, he insisted on a daily constitutional.

It truly seemed like a slow motion moment, one of those otherworldly things that happen to other people, but never to you.

But it did.

The moment doesn't mean a lot, he was just a man after all. But he endured every indignity, was the object of violence, was apart from his family for years, and yet he still smiled a smile of joy. I remember Nelson Mandela, not of his peace prize or stirring speech or world-changing efforts on behalf of all races. I just remember a man who persevered, walked along the street of Boston, and smiled.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Lomo pictures

Lomo is an unusual camera made in St. Petersburg Russia in the 1980s. It was a small, compakt camera, analog, and had its charms and frustrations. It was built sturdily so as to withstand the Russian winters, but it has a plastic lens that allows for some weird saturation and hues, and light leaks would also sometimes ruin a photo. But the hues were deep and vibrant and the light leaks more often than not made a photograph really unusual.

Collectors re-discovered this camera in the 1990s and were wowed. The camera's production was started up again (in China) and the new Lomo was born.

I used to own an original Russian Lomo and I loved it. It didn't love my pocketbook however, seeing as I had to buy film and have it developed. It got too much for me and I gave my Lomo away.

I still have the photos. Lomography as it's called is a mindset and an approach to photography. The original camera was meant to be simple and to offer access to the common man for photography, so Lomographers just point and shot without fussing or getting too technical. It's a freewheeling kind of fun photography and if I had lots of money I'd do it every day. Here is the link to some real, REAL lomographers and their wonderful and kooky photos. They are really beautiful art. I warn you though, you'll fall in love with the photos and you'll get hooked by the Lomo!

Old Port, Portland Maine

Cold day walking in Portland ME

Cityscape, Portland ME

Studious students studying, with coffee

Downstairs pizza shop lobby, with newspaper

Old farm barn, with really big flag, Gray ME