Friday, December 29, 2017

Of Ink Spots, airline road, and china

A trip today on the back roads to Ila, and The Special Store, is a swooping, soaring ride at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It made me think of my favorite ride of all time, The Airline Road, Route 9, in northern Maine.

It is not named for airplanes, as the road was first surveyed in 1797, and began to be used more heavily in the mid 1800s when the stage came through. It is specifically a segment of Route 9 from Bangor to Calais.
The leg from Bangor to Calais is often referred to as "The Airline" commonly thought to be due to its shorter route than the older U.S. 1. (Before the coming of air travel, the term airline often referred to such a shortcut.)  Wikipedia

However, the local legend is that it's called The Airline Road because of the geography. As you drive, the elevation is a little higher, and the vistas are sweeping over the blueberry barrens, glacial fields, pine forests. It feels as though you are flying at low altitude over the tree tops, soaring and swooping with the eagles. It's incredible.

When you handle a good machine, it feels great. I was driving a VW Passat. It's built like a tank, meaning solidly. It traverses the bumps as if they were pillows, and the interior is practically sound proof. I was singing to my music and enjoying the Georgia scenery, as well as liking the handling of the car.

Is there any better feeling, of being free and unencumbered, on vacation, driving and singing, on a sunny day?

My journey took me to The Special Store. I've mentioned this place before. They buy from estate sales and then resell, but seemingly for pennies. The prices are incredible and the quality of the items is astounding. It's a bargain hunter's dream come true. It's like a treasure hunt inside of a museum, but you get to take home the cool stuff you find.

Speaking of taking home, this is the stuff I got today:

Aynsley fine English Bone China is among the best to collect. It's a good name. I thought the gold was elegant. From
The name "Aynsley" has been connected with English bone china tableware, giftware and commemorative items since it was founded in 1775 by John Aynsley dans le Staffordshire.  The company is one of the last remaining manufacturers of bone china in Stoke-on-Trent, the historic centre for the production of English bone china.
Over the last 200 plus years Aynsley grew into a well-respected china company that was commissioned by royalty and that exports china to over 70 countries. Although modernisation changed many working practices in Stoke-on-Trent, Aynsley kept the traditional method of throwing and painting china by hand.

The proprietor told me the book published in 1982, run with the horsemen, was by a local man, by Ferrol Sams, who went to Emory and is now a doctor. It's a coming of age memoir of growing up in Middle Georgia. She's read his works before and recommended them. So I picked it up. It has good reviews on Amazon and from the NY Times also. I got the Hibbert book because I love King Arthur.

Ahrenfeldt is one of the factories that made Limoges fine bone china. Charles Ahrenfeldt was active under this particular mark, from 1890 to 1930.

I haven't researched the history of this pattern, so I don't know why the double handle. Yet. It's so elegant though.

My car has a cassette player and a CD player. I got "30 years of No. 1 Country Hits", the "Ink Spots", and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". Also Gospel/Contemporary music by Phillips, Craig, & Dean, and the Mamas & the Papas. I used to listen to them on the radio when they first came out. Oy I'm old. The teacups and saucers were $3.15 each.

If you don't know of The Ink Spots, here is from
The Ink Spots were a popular African-American vocal group who gained international fame in the 1930s and 1940s. Best known for their recordings of Pop ballads, The Ink Spots were frequent chart toppers totaling over 50 hits in their 17 year recording career. Their best selling record "If I Didn't Care" sold over 19 million copies and is currently the 7th best selling single of all time. Bill Kenny (leader) disbanded The Ink Spots in 1954 however many spin-off or imposter groups have been performing and recording ever since. 
The proprietor and I reminisced about when music was music, the radio station had an actual DJ you could call and ask for some particular piece of music, do dedications, and the people's interest and votes made the songs climb the charts, not a corporate robot DJ with a shove down your throat song list. Oy, I sound like a grouchy old lady. "In my day sonny boy..."

The car I'm driving has a terrific sound system and I played Mamas/Papas all the way home.

The music was 50 cents apiece.

It's a retro 1960s glass vase, hand blown.

Still life, with vase:

So that was my day. I'm now having orange spice tea from the Aynsley cup and about to start the Sams book.

Have a good weekend and Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Using what you already have

I collect books. I read them. I look at them. I use them as reference. I love books. I always have.

I live in a small apartment. I am committed to tiny living and low consumerism. It's about 400 sf or so, and I like to keep it uncluttered.

These two lifestyle facts conflict, lol. Accumulating books and living small and uncluttered don't really go together. I have no problem letting go any item, dish, clothing, or furniture, except books. I tend to hang on to those.

The key to living tiny is to make intentional and considered decisions about what I allow to come into the house. Good reference books are expensive, and building a theological library takes time and money- and space.

So when a friend sent me some hefty theological tomes, I was ecstatic! However, the problem that presented itself was, where to put them? My bookcases are officially full, and I even have a couple of 'piles' artfully arranged on the coffee table and the end table. Anymore and it'd be clutter. Buying another bookcase is not in the cards financially, and I really don't have space. Letting some books go isn't in the cards either. When I moved here (ten years ago) I reduced my library by half. The books I have now are books I want.

What to do?

In keeping with the tiny house style of thinking, and adhering to my commitment not to run out and just buy my solutions, it's important to be intentional and mindful, as I mentioned before. It's also important to be creative. When you look at a piece of furniture or another item, see its potential uses apart from its intended use. A tray can become an end table top. Or a picture frame. I call this "Use what you have."

Everyone has stuff they can repurpose. Stuff in the garage on a shelf that can be put to use. Something under the sink that will solve the problem. An unused piece of furniture stashed in a corner, that with just a bit of creativity can be used in a new way. I've written about the bureau that I use as a major piece of furniture in my living room as a storage solution. And the yard sale find of the end table with a hole in the top that with a piece of marble at the same yard sale being sold as a cutting board, laid atop the table makes it new- and classy.

In searching for a solution to the 'where to put these books' conundrum, I didn't want a large bookcase. I really don't have room. So I thought and pondered and thought, and when I went outside to enjoy the sunrise this morning, I saw the solution.

The plant stand. AKA the CD tower. Now the Bookcase.

A few years ago I'd found what was billed as a CD  tower at a yard sale. I bought it and thought the wrought iron look would go well with my outdoor furniture. There was a large hanging plant hook outside my door. I hung it there and put plants on it. Voila.

I took the plants off and put them on the Farmer's Table and took the CD tower/Plant stand inside.

I had some room next to my leather chair in the bedroom. It isn't far from the small sofa end table that has some of my books, and the main bookcase that holds most of them. It doesn't take up a lot of room, actual room or eye-room.


Guaranteed, any small storage problem you have, any minor irritation you experience in daily home living (like, where can I put all my belts? How can I display my teacups? This vacuum is always in my way!) can be solved by a little imagination and by using what you already have.

Further Reading

HGTV is practical as always:
Reusing everyday items for a more organized home

Bored Panda is outlandish but fun:
30 Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff

Some of these are creatively genius!
50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas carols, what does *that* mean? #3: Noël

I'm doing a short series on unknown lyrics in Christmas songs and hymns. I wrote about "bells on bob tails ring" from Jingle Bells, and then "We three kings of Orient are..." and focused on the Orient mentioned in the song.

Someone asked me recently when I mentioned I'm doing this series, what does "Noel" mean. The song "The First Noel" is explained from Wikipedia:
[It] is a traditional classical English Christmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier. Noel is an Early Modern English synonym of "Christmas".

The First Noel is of Cornish origin. Its current form was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833).

The Annunciation to the shepherds and the Adoration of the shepherds are episodes in the Nativity of Jesus described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2). The Star of Bethlehem appears in the story of the Magi (the Wise Men) in the Gospel of Matthew; it does not appear in the story of the shepherds.
The song seems to go even earlier than that, as titled The First Nowell, here explained,
Words & Music: Traditional English carol of the 16th or 17th century, but possibly dating from as early as the 13th Century. This combination of tune and lyrics first appeared in the early 1800s.
This interesting and deeper history of carols in general and The First Noel in particular, is explained here at History of Hymns site published by a UMC site:
The second question is, "What does ‘noel’ mean?" "Nowell," the English transliteration, comes from the old French "nouel," which is now written in modern French as "noël." The derivation of this word probably comes from the earlier Latin term "natalis," relating to a birth.
I had this misconception too, that noel was from the French. So I'm glad my friend asked me:
The First Noel is unknown in origin but is generally thought to be English dating back to the sixteenth century. There is a misconception that the First Noel was French and it is believed that this is because of the French spelling of Noel as opposed to the olde English Anglo-Saxon spelling of the word as in Nowell. After England was captured by the Normans numerous words were adopted from the Norman French language and Noel was re-spelt as Nowell, early printed versions of this carol use the Nowell spelling. The First Noel was first published in 1833 when it appeared in "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern," a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys.

Here is a rendition of The First Noel that I like. Hope you do too... Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A good (birth)day

It is cold here in north Georgia this morning but the day is bright and it's filled with nice scenes of yards with Christmas lights and upcoming Christmas break at home for two weeks. So all is well.

Here is my yard. The neighbors on the other side of the house put up the outside decorations. I put the brightest light I had in the front window, it shows to the street.

This morning I'm cooking my weekly things. On the menu this week will be

Vegetable soup with rice
Green bean and tofu salad
Quinoa salad
Roasted orange peppers
Roasted broccoli
Crock pot baked potatoes

Putting washed potatoes in the crock pot with a little water and opening the thing two hours later is the easiest way I've ever found to get a bunch of potatoes done. They come out soooo soft! I store them in the fridge all week and use them in soup or home fries or just cold as a snack.

I'm listening to RC Sproul's RefNet music and sermons. He died this week. I have taken two classes from him at Ligonier Connect online. The Recovering the Beauty of the Arts and Knowing Scripture. I've also read a few of his books, and I have more on Kindle waiting for me to read them. Of course I love, which blesses me very time I turn to the channel online. I think that is my favorite contribution to the faith that Sproul made. Though I've engaged with him in the virtual world, he hasn't had a huge effect on me, I didn't think. But his passing the other day brought more sadness to my heart than I thought would be there. He was a good warrior of the faith and he taught many people about God and His holiness. He was a stalwart friend to fellow theologians. For that I thank him. He is glorified now and with the Lord. Amen that Jesus gave us a future!

We have two and a half more days of school. It's kind of good we have these orphaned days. We have time to do some fun things without interrupting the academics. There fun things coming up are a school-wide pajama day, school movie, classroom Christmas party, an awards assembly...and of course enjoying the kids' excitement for Christmas and the shenanigans of the Elf on the Shelf.

We get two weeks off. I plan to cook, read, nap, and study. Nothing too different, than always, lol. I bought a book on living by the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, The Gospel According to Jesus (finish the last chapters), a book on Winston Churchill a lovely young friend gave me, and a book called, Main-Travelled Roads, a collection of short stories by the American author Hamlin Garland. First published in 1891 it recounts agrarian life in the upper midwest at that time.

I also plan to catch up on the past lesson of MacArthur's Biblical Doctrine I'm going through with a Facebook Group that I haven't done yet. Of course church and family group and Bible Discussion group will be great too.

If things work out I will go around and take photos of our lovely county. The kitties will get some snuggles, too. It's a quiet life, but I've had enough adventure, travel, and excitement to last a lifetime. I ready for quiet, relaxing, and private.

I am pleased to see that the cardinals, which disappeared from my yard a couple of years ago, are back. Yay. There is a bird tweeting heartily now, outside my window. How pleasurable!

I used to listen to this song a lot before I was saved. I thought it was sweet and relaxing. Simple and kind. I did used to wonder how a person could not worry about every little thing, and if every little thing could really be all right. After salvation I know the answer. Jesus takes care of us, and no matter the circumstances, harsh or gentle, cold or warm, high or low, every little thing WILL be all right.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
Matthew 6:26

Have a good weekend and week ahead everyone.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Carols: What does that mean? #2- We three kings from...the Orient?

I was always confused by the line in the Christmas song We Three Kings which said they were from the Orient.

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

The Christmas carol was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. in 1857. We truly do not know how many kings visited Jesus in His nativity nor for certain what country of origin from which they traveled. Traditions says Persia.

However since the scripture in Matthew 2:1 says they traveled from the east, then since the east in that time up to now has been called the Orient, then, the Orient it is.

I'd always thought the Orient meant Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, etc. Isn't that the Orient? Is Persia, Syria, or even India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan the orient? Yes, and no. According to Wikipedia,

The Orient is the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe.
The term "Orient" derives from the Latin word oriens meaning "east". ... Also, many ancient temples, including pagan temples and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. This tradition was carried on in Christian churches. To situate them in such a manner was to "orient" them in the proper direction. When something was facing the correct direction, it was said to be in the proper orientation. (Source)
The Easton Bible Dictionary defines biblical use of east,
The orient (mizrah); the rising of the sun. Thus "the east country" is the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais (Zechariah 8:7).
(2). Properly what is in front of one, or a country that is before or in front of another; the rendering of the word kedem . In pointing out the quarters, a Hebrew always looked with his face toward the east. The word kedem is used when the four quarters of the world are described (Genesis 13:14 ; 28:14); and mizrah when the east only is distinguished from the west ( Joshua 11:3 ; Psalms 50:1 ; 103:12 , etc.). In Genesis 25:6 "eastward" is literally "unto the land of kedem;" i.e., the lands lying east of Palestine, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia, etc.
Whether you are from the Orient or the Occident, we celebrate the Savior's birth who threw away our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Carols: What does that mean? #1 Bells on bobtails ring

I love Christmas carols, hymns, and songs. Many of them were written a long time ago. I find myself singing lyrics I have no idea what they mean. So I decided to do a series on those lyrics that reference things that are firmly in the past, gone by, or just something we don't know anymore!

Let's start with Jingle Bells. It has a lot of stanzas but we all sing just the first one and the refrain.

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

This is a one horse open sleigh. I'm in it on the right. It was small, tippy, bumpy, and cold! It made me grateful for my enclosed car with heat and springs.

The bells that jingled were the old fashioned alarm system. In places where the commute was by sleigh, there was usually a lot of snow. The snowbanks get to be piled high and restrict line of sight. To prevent sleigh collisions, the bells were placed on the horses to alert pedestrians and other sleighs in the vicinity.

jingle bells!
But what are bells on bobtails?

It was the style back along to bob a horse's tail either to tie it back so it looks shorter, or to actually bob (or cut) the tail. Shorter hair on the tail helped keep it from waving in the driver's face. The bells on bobtails ring are the bells on bobtail horses ringing.

So that's that! Stay tuned for the next "What does THAT mean?"

Friday, December 08, 2017

Winter Weather Outside but Cozy Conditions inside

The weather outside is the worst kind, a near-freezing rain, cold, and blustery. But inside, there's Lavender honey tea in a federal Shape Syracuse China cup, and two homemade butter cookies on a Duchess patterned Tuscan bone china plate, twinkling lights, and cozy clothes! Frightful out, Delightful in!

There is actually some serious weather going on in other parts of Georgia and also elsewhere in the south. Accumulating snow is happening in areas that very rarely gets it.

The neighboring county, Oconee County GA Sheriff's Department put up one of their typically funny posts on Facebook yesterday, in advance of the snow. It's snowing lightly in a few fringe areas of our county now, and friends are putting up pretty photos of their tots outside enjoying the strange white stuff from the sky. Most people around here though, just go bananas. Read the Sheriff's Department post-

Those guys are hilarious.

School the week before the week before Christmas break is crazy. The kids are wild for the Elf on the Shelf, and come into the classroom each day looking for where he might have moved overnight. They really believe the elf is real. One girl told me that her elf at home hasn't shown up yet. Then she innocently said, "Has your elf come to your house yet?" Awww, what's a grownup to say in reply? I said that Santa told me there was a shortage of elves and I said "my" elf could go on to a child's house to watch over a child somewhere. I think she was satisfied with that.

Add to the Christmas excitement, the fact that Georgia was supposed to get some snow today, and the kids were on tenterhooks looking out the window every second. Snow in GA to a kid is as magical as if a unicorn came flying down and delivered a pot of candy to the classroom.

I'm now home and snug inside with my Christmas lights on, knowing I am not moving anywhere until Sunday afternoon!

I plan to have breakfast for dinner, and start reading a book. I don't know which one. There are so many to choose from.

This storm is supposed to cut a wide swathe up and down the coast, so stay safe everyone, and enjoy the winter weather. It'll be here a while, might as well!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

It's all about the paper products

Amazon gift certificates are the best! A kind reader sent me a gift certificate last night and I used it immediately, lol.

I ordered the book Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End by David Gibson. Yay! Twitter graphic tweeted by Matt Smethurst, lol-

I use a small, leather blank journal with thick handmade paper for notes during sermons and small group Bible study. I love it because it's small and therefore portable. The paper is thick and stands up to painting on or collaging, which I occasionally do in order to illustrate a thought or insight I'd had. The paper feels good to the touch, also important. The clasp is metal and medieval looking which is a style I enjoy. I'm almost to the end of this notebook so it's wonderful I can order a backup to have on hand for when I need another one.

I love paper products overall. I'm a sucker for notebooks, journals, paper, legal pads, and ephemera. I take just as long choosing refrigerator pads to put on the fridge as I do for my spiritual journal and my online classes' notebooks. And you had me at Post-it.

Along with the notebooks are the careful selections of the pens I use. I have arthritis in my hands so I need a thicker pen. I like retractable so I can 'close' the point and it won't make stray ink marks all around, which I hate. I like ball point and not gel or marker type pens, for the same reason, no stray ink marks. I prefer black ink to blue or colors. The ink needs to lay down on the paper immediately with no warm up, and spread smoothly as I go. And the pen should be pretty. The design should be delicately balanced when I hold it, with a nice taper, and overall pleasing to use and to look at. You didn't know there was so much to choosing a pen, did you?

A friend gave me some Paper Mate pens a few years ago. They have become my preferred pen. I love them. The Paper Mate Silhouette is my absolute favorite, it meets all the above requirements for use by moi. The Silhouette Paper Mate is is a pen that is becoming hard to find, though. The pens she gave me are so good it's taken a few years to run out, so I ordered some Paper Mate pens with my gift certificate, This one isn't a Silhouette but it is also a good pen.

I've used journals of all kinds throughout the years. I don't really write down my thoughts and emotions like a diary, but I use them for picture thoughts, insights into things, collages and so on. Here are a few of my journals.

Clockwise. The leftmost large fabric journal with the sunflower on the front and the turned cover is actually a placemat I'd bought at the Lubec Historical Society annual July 4th yard sale sometime in the early 2000s. I turned it into a journal using a pamphlet stitch.

The beaded journal is festooned with sequins overlaid on black velvet. The paper is good. I rarely use it though...

The flowered one is a journal I'd started about the town I was living in. It has a hand written introduction and pasted-in scraps of life in the town. I started that one in 1990.

The green journal on the right is a Fabriano journal I use for an art journal. I'd written about finding a journal with Fabriano paper here. This one was started in 2016.

The brown ring journal is a Strathmore Visual Journal from a second hand store. Strathmore is another well-known paper outlet. I wrote about finding this expensive and lovely notebook, here. It's another art journal. I really prefer smaller ones to larger. It's from Nov. 2016.

The red small journal is one I'd made. The cover is paste paper and the inside contains hand written thoughts on spiritual books I'd been reading. That one dates to sometime around 2000-2001. I have a LOT of these little notebooks I'd made for the same purposes.

The red one is my very first journal. My parents gave me a trip to London for my graduation. It was a Spring school trip along with other seniors in my High School. Yes, our field trips were to foreign countries. I wrote about what I saw and did and that little journal from 1978 started me both on my world travels and my obsession with chronicling everything I see and do in some kind of journal. I have other travel journals, too, of various kinds, but you get the idea.

I like paper, journals, and notebooks! With me, it's all about the paper products. I think I'll always be a Luddite when it comes to notebooks. I don't have a cell phone and I don't like keeping track of things on any electronic device, portable or not. I love the feel of notebook with a fine paper, and writing my ideas, lists, and thoughts with a well-balanced pen. Blackberry calendar just doesn't have the same thrill for me.

How about you? Do you like notebooks? Keep it all on your phone? Use some other method? Or none at all?