Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Snow is Snowing and the Wind is Blowing . . .

We were just pulling out of our driveway and our neighbor Dave came over to assure us he would keep an eye on our house. "It's going to rain tomorrow," he said. I do not pay much attention to weather forecasts and I have a husband who wants Congress to pass a bill that no weather news or forecasts should be televised for any area more than ten miles away from where he is. The whole of California could be in flames, the East Coast could be underwater . . . he doesn't want to know. Some quote from Thoreau usually follows his declaration.

We made it to Chicago just fine, and sure enough it rained next day. It didn't matter—we were visiting Ernie's sister and her husband and we spent most of our time drinking coffee, discussing our families, eating and deciding if and where to go. What a delight to see Mary Ann and John's sons Patrick, John and Mike and—via Skype—Megan and Emiliano in Texas.

We went to Oakbrook and Ernie's favorite store, The Container Store. He bought boxes to store boxes containing . . . who knows. Maybe some more boxes. I must admit I found some rather useful things, but I will keep them to myself. I am now a member of Pop! We went to Owl Lumber, where Ernie bought lengths of exotic hardwood. For exotic, read expensive. We went to an event described as a "craft show". I thought it would be something like a bunch of women in a church hall. No, it was an enormous place, stacked with vendors who had arrived with huge truck-like vehicles to bring their offerings.

Fortunately pretty much the first vendor we saw was a woodworker, so Ernie was happy. The two of them discussed wood  at length. There was a bread knife (he bought one) and this interesting toy called a do-nothing. It was fancier than this and looked much nicer. The four blocks were made of exotic (see above, it means expensive) wood and I felt pretty good because thanks to my trip to Owl Lumber, I could recognize some. We bought one of these too, but I will not complain because Mary Ann and I made a small dent in our charge cards.

The high point of our visit was a trip to the theater. Our hosts live in a suburb of Chicago and at the time we drove down it took one and a half hours to make it to The Royal George Theatre. Mary Ann had bought tickets for Mike and his fiancee Jaime in honor of Mike's birthday, and fortunately Mike volunteered to brave the traffic. It was a one-man show in which Hershey Felder portrayed Irving Berlin, from his beginnings as an immigrant from Belarus until his death. Felder has been described as a one-man industry and I am not surprised, as among his talents are the singing, piano playing and acting he displays magnificently in this show. Note: why have I never heard of him? Why have I never heard of his wife, Kim Campbell, the former Prime Minister of Canada?

The night before we left, John said it was going to snow 6-8 inches the next day. It didn't, but when we woke up the morning after that at home, there it was. In the words of Mr. Berlin, "I can't remember a worse December . . . "

But this is still November.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Move Over, Mary Berry

I have become quite a fan of The Great British Bake Off and quite a fan of Mary Berry. Actually of everyone who boldly undertook the baking challenges. I have never had any confidence when it comes to baking. I do want to make an attempt at a Victoria Sponge one of these days and I know I need to make a few pies with something other than pre-made pastry. Even my children do better than that! Since my kitchen was re-modelled I have had what I feel is a good excuse. I didn't want to roll pastry on my nice wood table or on my marble counter top. It would stick, wouldn't it? But that was 15 years ago, so I finally trotted off to the inadequately named Bed, Bath and Beyond, and in the Beyond section I bought one of those silpat numbers, with outlines of various sizes of pies and I will give it a try. For Thanksgiving? Maybe not, my blood pressure is already too high. Maybe I will post a photo.

Our dear friend and fellow classicist of Ernie, who hails from upper New York, has always made fun of Ernie's flat mid-western vowels, and claims that there is no difference in his pronunciation of the vowels in "Merry Mary married hairy Harry." I must ask him how a denizen of the Hudson Valley would deal with "Merry Mary Berry married hairy Harry?" Maybe a moot question—she's too fastidious for that.

On the subject of baking. Remember that fellow in my last post who whisked my daughter off into matrimony? He bakes for his family. Buys enormous bags of flour. And gets results like this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rolling Up my Sleeves Again

When a person has been away for a long time, it is hard to get going again. Especially when there have been a number of sadnesses in the interim period. Two good friends of mine have lost their husbands and so has a virtual friend. I am now using office365 for my e-mails. I hate it and in my usual un-informed way I am hoping it does not creep over to blogger.

There was however, one glorious event. My brother Brian and his wife Brenda came over to visit. I keep looking at this photo and wondering exactly when it was taken. My brother was born in June of 1944. He looks a little propped up here, so I suspect it was taken around my fifth birthday in December of that year. The war was coming to and end, but we weren't to know that. And we certainly were not the kind of family to have formal photos taken. (There were two others of me which may appear soon.) I do remember my dress. It was made by my Aunty Doris, my mother's sister. Salmon silk, with dark green smocking. You have to love the sausage curls.

We seem to have changed a bit since then! Here we are at Partridge Creek Mall where I treated myself to shocking pink Crocs (I love them) and some conservative brown Clarks (ditto.) The Apple store was appealing. I need a new computer, but I restrained myself. Just another new toy I am not sure I want to learn to use.

We utilized the theatre at the end of the street to see Everest and A Little Chaos. How interesting to learn that Alan Rickman went to the same school as my brother, though they didn't run in the same circles. We cruised the Clinton River to celebrate their wedding anniversary. We went downtown to Wayne and visited Kate in her office and took part in Joe's first birthday party. We treated them to a fantastic astronomical experience when a lunar eclipse met a supermoon. At least, Ernie took them to the park where there was a clear view. I went to bed. We caught up with British personalities and talked of Jeremy Corbin and Monte Python. Not the same person.

All too soon they left. I put away the teapot.

I'm reverting to my previous practice of marking special family anniversaries in this blog, so congratulations to our lovely and talented daughter Kate who married Ron (who is also lovely and talented) twenty years ago today. We love you and appreciate all your help.