Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dust to dust--now with LOTSA LINKS!

Just here searching for a DA recap?  Here's the link for episode FIVE:

And just because I may not get a post done in time, here's the link for Episode SIX:

AND because I'm too busy working on these darn recaps to write a blog post, for crying out loud, here's the link for Episode SEVEN:

As always, thanks for coming back for more; we are so grateful that you like them.  Feel free to share!
Where to begin?  Do I just jump in and start writing about soup and paint and cats?  Well, okay!

Last year my fourteen year old furnace was diagnosed with a terminal illness so I reluctantly surrendered the inheritance my dad left me, which I had hoped to save for my looming old age, to buy a reliable new one.  I don't fully understand how an HVAC works, apparently, because I have always assumed it sucked in nice fresh breezy outside air through a filter, warmed it up or cooled it down per my command, and blew it out of the vents to keep me comfortable.  I was all wrong.  The gruesome truth is, it actually sucks crappy old oxygen-depleted air up through the return in the hall, makes it warmer or cooler, and sends it right back out into my house. No fresh air involved. How did I not know this?

Anyway, the new furnace does a fine job of keeping my house temperate, which for that price, it should.  But for reasons I can't explain, my house is easily three or four times dustier than it ever was while the old furnace was still alive. I'm the first to admit I'm only a marginally good housekeeper. I clean the surfaces in plain view often enough to avoid shame, but I don't do every area every time I pick up the duster.  And there are some odd spots that seldom get wiped at all. But I was used to the rate of accumulation, and it wasn't terrible.   So it took me a while to realize--there is MUCH MORE DUST than ever before.  Gray wisps dangle from the ceiling; furry caterpillars crawl on the edges of the fan blades; fat wads like mice scurry under every bed and chair; a scarf of gray covers every table, appliance, and shelf.  It looks like I moved out a decade ago and left everything to decay.  Gross!  Not only that, but our allergies are relentless--we sniffle, cough and blow around the clock.  More Gross!

The nice furnace checkup guy came and inspected everything and declared it to be in perfect order.  Was the old unit so asthmatic that it couldn't inhale enough air to use twice? Has a decade's accumulation of dust  finally reached critical mass?  And in case you're wondering, I [try to] change the filter in the return once a month.

Except for that time I forgot…triple GROSS!

Lillie was out of town this weekend and we couldn't get the finishing touches put on our DA recap, so I cleaned the daylights out of this house.  Up high--down low--I dusted and vacuumed it all.  My theory (probably not scientific, since my hypothesis may be full of holes) is that the less dust there is to suck back into the furnace, the less dust will come blowing back out of the vents.  The dust stops here! I'll report back in a month.

…after one trip around the ceiling and door tops

This photo of my AS NOT SEEN ON TV ceiling duster reminds me…I recently restacked my stacks. Over the fireplace, that needlepoint piece we found on the curb came out to the living room…

I  just now got brave enough to put twinkle lights back in the unused  fireplace (there was an accidental "real" fire  in there--the flue was blocked off,  and the gas flame got bumped to  "on" one night.  Epic!)

…and moving the hydrangea print (a gift) to the foyer wall, where it replaced the underwater painting by Lillie, which floated down the hall to her bathroom.  Every other  item on this wall is either thrifted, homemade, or passed down.  The clock was a wedding present. (There are still a couple of those around here.) Pinterest, or just poor?  You be the judge.

Here's how it looks now...

This was the original layout.  I guess there are a number of new things!  Anyway,  it's better now.

The rest of the living area still has a few Rubbermaid bins of Christmas junk and sewing projects and a carton slowly filling with Goodwill-bound crap I'm pulling from the kitchen cabinets…but I definitely smell spring cleaning in the air. Can't you?

Twofer!  Cats and decor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No news, just a link!

I've shared on Facebook, but if you haven't seen this yet, here's the link to last Sunday's episode (the fourth one).  We're hard at work on number five!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Will blog for food

Just like regular people
Every time I think I've turned the corner and life will get easier, I'm wrong.  I readily admit that compared to many people's grim lives, mine is a walk in a sunny park--what I mean is, my tattered  financial and emotional life.  I'm unemployed between jobs again (after several temporary positions since last spring), and much too poor, which overshadows almost every other thought I have.  The minute I consider tapping out a little essay or relating a funny story, I'm overwhelmed with anxiety and regret--how can this be funny?  Why will that situation matter to anyone else?  And I click over to someone else's blog.  Someone whose blog is more clever, thoughtful, or creative than mine.  You know the one.

I see a lot of evidence that other, much more prolific, bloggers are calling it quits, and I think I understand their reasons.  Nobody should feel required to blog (that's the main difference between blogging and working), and we essentially write our own "rules", and for the most part, we don't get paid, which makes it easier to quit.  For me, a rather small-time writer with no sponsors or much of a fan base, blogging is like reading a book--I just feel SO MUCH BETTER when I have a book in progress, or when I've just published a post.  But then all the YOU REALLY SHOULD BE WORKING feelings flood in and I don't do either one.  My only [self-imposed] obligation is to be "readable"--whether that means funny, or insightful, or helpful.  I just want others to like what I write, and to come back for more.  And if all I am is a great big saddo, on-screen and off, I'm not particularly readable. I wouldn't read One-Note-Wanda's serial of endless pathos, would you?

How'd you like to be unemployed?
But then…a year into my exile, Downton Abbey came around again, a bright beacon after a dim and meager Christmas.  I've mentioned that Lillie and I abstained from watching the new season (available to sneaky Americans) in September, because we felt first we honestly should recap the final [silly] episode of the previous season, as we promised last winter.  And on Christmas Eve we hit publish, and then play, and away we went.  We now have three recaps ready to read and have watched up through episode seven, and are getting back in the groove with writing them.  It's a big fat juicy season so far, which keeps our minds off our mutual money troubles (Lillie was very unexpectedly [and unjustly, I believe] fired from HER bar job last Friday, and I admire her stoic ability to simultaneously type and cry.)  Between the two of us, we still babysit our two little not-exactly-relatives, ages one and three, which covers the groceries and phone bill, but there's always the mortgage, utilities, deferred medical care, and on and on…

Hi Mom

We'll really try to get the recap out every week (barring a sudden worsening of our mutual despair) and I intend to get a non-Downton post finished from time to time, until things shake out one way or another.  I miss it, and it makes me feel better, and I know you want to see more pictures of the cats.

Who wouldn't?

It also makes me feel better that it was Lillian, and not me, who was trying restlessly to nap after another night of sadsomnia, and spilled a tumbler of "whinin' wine" in her bed, on all the freshly laundered sheets and blankets and down the side onto the carpet.  Sippy cups.  Just saying.

A rather more literate pet than either of mine

For the latest DA recap, plus links to all the others, click here.

For the best DA cast self-spoof in the history of tv, click here (no spoilers in it, don't worry.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All I want for Christmas

I missed you, too!  But seriously, every time I thought about posting all I could think about was that dang Downton Abbey Christmas Special, which as you all know was ridiculous, and how Lillie and I could barely stand to WATCH it over and over, let alone write a snappy recap for it.  So for months (and months) we did nothing, and I did nothing, and now the new season starts on PBS in just two weeks.  Our plan was always to have a new recap ready to publish by the time the credits rolled each Sunday (which means having it written and edited in advance) so anyway enough of all those excuses.

We did it.  Here you go.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

I'll be back later with some sort of story about what I did for ten months while I avoided my blog. christmas-special-debutantes-and-tiaras

Monday, February 24, 2014

The more they stay the same

Not yet

Lillian and I  haven't written the recap for this week's episode yet.   Last week's, if you missed it, is HERE.   But here's a little click-bait to keep you entertained until we get it finished:

So I appreciate that Julian Fellowes refers to actual historical figures in his scripts.  Some are obvious, like the King and Queeen, and some seem like fluff:  having Australian opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa play the part of an actual Australian opera singer of the period, Nellie Melba.  And it seems he got that wrong, too.

But on the final episode--"The Christmas Special" for those in Britain and some other countries, Julian wrote in two characters whom we mixed up for  the entire first hour.  We finally got them sorted out and looked the actresses up in the Season Five cast list to see if we really had to pay attention or could just forget them both, and OH MY STARS AND GARTERS Freda Dudley-Ward was a real live human.  She was a married mother and "friend", or "confidante" for those too discreet to say mistress, of the Prince of Wales, who became King George for a few minutes before abdicating to marry a different mistress, Wallis Simpson.

Of course all we could think of was Camilla Parker-Bowles, who was Prince Charles's mistress for so many years (and she was also married with children).  I know things are different across the pond, and the monarchy is a peculiar type of business, but still!  At one point Mrs Dudley-Ward would have been invisible, but there she was acting as a party date to the Prince of Wales, as bold as brass.  To her credit, Camilla kept to the shadows until Princess Diana was cold in her grave.  And as time passes, even nerdy old Princes Charles seems like sort of an okay guy.  (Even though I want to carry a grudge, as I get older  I realize my indignation might be misplaced.  You just never know the whole story, do you?)

There's still a lot going on here to keep us from finishing the recap, but I know when we're finally done we'll feel bereft until Season Five starts (for us cheaters) in September.  Thanks for sticking with us!

Friday, February 14, 2014

That'll do, pig

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all

The thing about posting the last week's recap on a Friday is only having two days to get the next one written!  Yes, we brought it on ourselves.  Yes, we love doing it (or maybe; we love having done it.)  But when people read them and share them and we see the page-views go up and up…well, that's a pretty nice reward.  Thanks, everyone!

Hurry on over to:   Anybody Can Do Anything Especially Lillian

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Time out


I hate to say it, but the recap will be late this week.  I hope not for long!  There is just too much other LIFE in the way right now.  Mostly, I am uncomfortable to admit, my life.


Lillie and I are a team, and until we can do this together, the recaps will just have to wait.  We truly want each one to be everything you have come to expect.

Thanks, readers!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Super Bowl?

If all the scenes were like this one, we wouldn't have anything to write about.  But--not all the scenes were like this one, so we were busy again this week.  What a season we have here!

What are we going to learn about Baxter?

What will Edith decide to do about her problem?  And her other problem?

Who will Mary pick?

Will Tom stay--or go?

And when are Martha and Harold ever going to get here?

Anna?  Daisy?  Isobel?  Rose? So many story lines...

As the season ramps up we are definitely beginning to think about the end, aren't you?

Here's what Lillian and I have to say about that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why you gotta do me like that, PBS?

Better start another pot

Busy week.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I would tell you all the reasons I'm mad at PBS but you'll just have to trust me.

Here's the link:

Time to apply for jobs and start absorbing next week's episode.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Where are we, again?

Well, this one won't make you cry!  Here's the link to the PBS episode shown January 19--some say episode 4, some insist it's Episode 3.  As far as these recaps go, it's EPISODE FOUR. And I'm annoyed at the BBC (again) for ignoring pivotal scenes.  So pay attention when you watch PBS--if we buy the series what will we get?

Lillie is across town house-and-dog-sitting this week, so putting the NEXT recap together could prove challenging.  [For those of you following-- little Miss Lennon was born Saturday and is doing well.]  I'm going to start on the new one first thing in the morning!

(There are a few issues with some of the photos--Lillie and I will work on that as soon as we're back in the same house.)  Enjoy!

********update, the pictures are fine.  And believe me, if we had seen the inside of the Minute Clinic (conveniently ignored by the BBC) we'd have taken a screen shot.  Don't they care that we do all this in advance so you can read these recaps in the morning?******

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An evening of light entertainment

It was painfully sad when Sybil died and terrible when Matthew was killed.  We felt bad when Edith's wedding fell apart.  Julian Fellowes isn't afraid to make us cry.  But THIS one? It was AWFUL.

We know that if all the characters were happy and all the loose ends got tied up at the end of each episode, Downton Abbey would be a movie and not a series.

The only thing that soothes is that we've seen the whole season and we know there are better days ahead.

PBS broadcasts the unabridged versions of each episode, so there are some great scenes we haven't seen before, but this time PBS totally left out the two final scenes--brief but important.  The first shows Edna slipping into Tom's bedroom on the last night of the house party, and the other quick but poignant clip shows Anna leaving the house, alone, to walk back to their cottage while Mr Bates calls after her.  

We've noticed this before and it makes us mad, but what can you do?  

These recaps take every minute we can spare to write--but I've got the first draft of Episode Four ready to start on this week.  I suspect that if we didn't feel like we HAD to hit "publish" we'd keep editing each one forever. (Or anyway, I would!)  Lillie and I have such different writing styles that it's really a labor of love to pull together long enough to set each one free into the Cybersphere.  It's a lesson in teamwork and love; fueled by your enthusiastic responses.  We write them for YOU, and that feels good to US.

Links to all previous recaps are included with each one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Late but not lost

I feel ya, Molesley.
So the second half of last Sunday's recap is ready, and here's the link:

Lillie and I will continue to refer to this one as Episode 2, and next week as 3, and so on.  Those British can't just play fast and loose with the sequence of things!

Check back next Monday for the recap of Sunday's episode.  Hold on to your hat, that's all I'm saying.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On your mark, get set, go

So we no sooner get the recap sewn up, shut our laptops and turn on PBS to watch it the Premiere with everyone else who waited so patiently and DARNED IF THEY DIDN'T AIR TWO EPISODES.

We only finished ONE recap.

Here it is:

It's midnight.  We won't be doing anything about it tonight.  But we'll get right on it tomorrow--because then we have to do one for Episode 3!  Please don't remind me that we had four months to write the recaps.  I was too busy hiding under my bed.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

I know what you're looking for

Carson doing his impression of me.

…and this isn't it.  The Downton Abbey recap for tonight's episode is on the drawing board, but  we HOPE intend to have it ready to post  by tonight.  Lillie's new job has her driving around town starting super early, and our goal is to get the recaps written and polished BEFORE the last minute.  Fingers crossed.

I haven't posted at all this fall, I know.  No Puerto Rico trip, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas.  Zip.

I was here.  I'll try to tell you about it at some point.

Because I'm still unemployed, and doing anything that wasn't actual paid work, or looking for paid work, felt really shameful and wrong.  I've felt way too guilty to blog.  I still do, in fact, but that's a great big slimy can of worms.  Not funny, not creative, and not sustainable.  I know.

Nobody wants to hear about that.  This isn't that kind of blog.

So.  While I wade through the muddy part of the river, we'll write recaps about Mr Carson and Mary and Violet and Edith.  It's a good season, with only a few ridiculous story lines.  Can you remember last year when you said OMIGOD HOW CAN I WAIT  UNTIL IT STARTS AGAIN?  Well--you made it!

See you tomorrow!

Yes, really.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just call me Big Edie

All I've done for the last couple of hours is read the archives of this blog, You're Doing It Wrong. The author is so engaging, articulate and genuinely funny that I never want to get the end. (Sadly, she hasn't been writing as long as I want her to.) Go see; you will not be disappointed.  The verbs!  The adjectives!  I'm in heaven.  Only in my happiest dreams am I that clever.  She has kick-started my resolve to get back in the groove.  Besides, I have to start flexing my neurons so Lillie and I can churn out another season of Downton Abbey recaps.

There's a great big world out there

A few weeks ago a friend from my old job decided to set me up with a buddy of hers who is my age.  Turns out, our age is probably the only thing we have in common.  I agreed to meet up with them at a bar and listen to music.  He arrived two hours late.  The next day she encouraged me to tag along on an outing to a famous brewery in a nearby town, where I helped even out the gender ratio. Her boyfriend, the tardy friend, plus their out-of-state pal made five beer-tasters.  It was a warm, bright day and the brewery tour was interesting and somehow I rode back to town with the out-of-state friend, who was funny and friendly, although he had an unreasonable (I thought) aversion to using the air conditioner.  It was Labor Day weekend and so there was a barbecue the following day (tripling my social event count for the year) where the original set-up buddy arrived with a date who appeared to have been on the scene for quite some time.  And naturally the out-of-state pal lives seven hours away so I'm home reading the archives of clever bloggers and wondering why I even leave my house at all.

But this is good, too

You might be surprised, given the circumstances, that I accepted an invitation to yet another venue to showcase my geeky discomfort a going-away party.  I don't know where this optimism comes from.  Most of my former colleagues, including an old beau and my old boss, would be there.  You may recall that I was "let go"; a slightly fuzzier term for "fired" (i.e. no party) and so although many of them had been my friends, it was rather unwieldy to socialize with them afterwards.  And you know how it is.  You may find a spouse or a best friend at one job or another but you tend to lose the rest of them. Que sera, sera.

So as you might expect I wanted a Xanax was anxious about the party, even though logic (which has a questionable track record) insisted I had nothing to fear.  I baked cookies to bring along and put on clothes and eyebrows and drove across town to the hostess's house. THERE WERE NO OTHER CARS THERE. Wait, what? The e-mail had clearly said Friday.  I was here on Friday. What if she made a mistake and the party was Saturday?   My lizard brain (the lobe that keeps me from running out into traffic or putting my hand in fire) ordered me to just slither away immediately, but the configuration of the driveway almost guaranteed that anyone inside would have seen me arrive, so I crept up to the door and begged the hostess's husband, who remembered me, to please not tell anyone I SHOWED UP A DAY EARLY.  He promised, and I went home.  I checked; the email said Friday.  Aha! I knew it!

Except today was Thursday.

 I can see everything just fine from right here.

On real Friday, although I almost chickened out, I drove over again, if only to keep the party guests from talking about how I had lost all of my marbles since I left the company.  Turns out the gathering was lively and it was great to see everyone and I received just the right amount of attention--neither too much nor too little. I got to say goodbye to the colleague who was escaping that madhouse moving on to a bright new future, and the others saw that, despite strong evidence to the contrary, I'm still in the game.  And the husband never said a word about my little miscalculation.  (That's how it's done, boys.)

Because I'm flexible like that

I blame all the good bloggers for making me a social basket case.  The lizard murmurs soothingly, just stay home and read books.  Watch Breaking Bad and the West Wing.  Or Grey Gardens.

So maybe I should have dusted a little
Seriously.  Cats and all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

When You're A Jet: the second half

When you're a Jet
you're a Jet all the way
from your first cigarette
to your last dying day.

You didn't think we could still jump this high

No, regrettably, this isn't us, but forty years later, they could be.  There was less dancing and singing this year; we all felt the absence of J and B.   J is in the middle of chemotherapy and can't travel, but he's feeling better so we've no complaints.  We cobbled together a FaceTime visit on the laptop and it was great to be together online, at least, and share in the joy of their beautiful daughter's engagement, but there were definitely two empty chairs all weekend.

Dr L and I have been besties for--unbelievably--half a century.  

J's baby brother and his wife joined us for dinner one night.  
New at the table this year is D, who was the new girl in fifth grade.  Later, she went away to hippie commune boarding school, which was apparently good training for this retreat.

Oh, you kids and your gadgets.
And yes, the refrigerator really was covered with mosaic tile. 

Chai spiced scones--no, I didn't make those, but they were an excellent encore to the previous night's pitcherful of White Linen.  

What, meal time again?  
A heavenly dinner of pork tenderloin began with Caprese salad with nectarines...sublime.

Oh, this house!  A massive log home with every amenity and beautiful views out every window.  
We've already booked it for next year.  I already can't wait!

Some of us are a little better at sitting than leaping.

There are so many days when I don't feel one bit lucky, but I know that I am.
I am lucky to have these priceless friends in my life.

All the really beautiful photos were taken by Dr L.  I took the Samsung phone cam shots.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Make mine a White Linen

Go ahead, guess what this is.   Here's your first clue: it's the first part of August.  Time for the Jenny Creek Cafe annual hog-tie and hopscotch convention!  What you're seeing is me (at home) making a bittersweet chocolate torte, and simultaneously making lemon basil shortbread, because if I'm baking by myself I can do two things at once.  That ratio reduces by the number of people helping me, but nobody was.

Along with talking until our throats are sore, a giant portion (see what I did there?) of what we do on these pilgrimages is eat.  Wonderful food is a big part of the equation.  It might be just as fun with boxed macaroni and cheese or Subway sandwiches, but I sincerely doubt it.  We love to make food for each other, and we relish eating it.

This looks peculiar because it's raw.  I forgot to take a picture after it was baked.  It was beautiful.

This guy is raw too, obviously.  Filleted, marinated and grilled on cedar planks, it was hands down the most delicate and delicious salmon I have ever eaten.

We're halfway through our long weekend retreat, still eating and drinking and talking.  Those with hardier constitutions and better knees have decided to climb this nearby cinder cone, and a slightly less agile contingent has gone to take pictures at nearby Lake Siskiyou.

There's the view from the tippy top of Black Butte cinder cone, which I can see from the window.
 I got up out of my easy chair to wave at them.

I'm here on a peaceful comfy couch in an enormous log home with my first drink of the afternoon (but not likely my last.)

Made with this, the most delightful stuff on earth

Elderberry liqueur is a magical potion that is better than any liquid you have ever tasted.  My new favorite beverage, by a wide margin, is a delight called a White Linen.  It has this St Germain, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, sliced cucumbers and good gin.  Last night when I was figuring out the math required to make a pitcher full I completely missed the admonition to top off the glass with club soda so after two or three tumblers full I really needed to pipe down and go to bed.  I didn't, but I should have.  Fortunately tonight I have another opportunity to get things right.

Since all I have is my little Samsung camera phone, decent pictures of this fiesta are a bit farther down the pipeline, but I will come up with Part Two, I promise.  Tonight's dinner is grilled pork tenderloin, caprese salad, grilled vegetables, and the second half of that chocolate jewel I was making at the top of this post.

Having a wonderful time; wish you were here.  Bring club soda.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Third Monday in May

Lottie took advantage of the showery day to take a few yard pictures.  Spring is my yard's best season, and cloudy is the best light for taking photographs.  My phone camera needs all the help it can get.  Traditionally, every year someone steals one of my flowerpots just before Mother's Day (Yo, thanks for raising me to be a petty criminal, Ma!)  This pot, which is cracked in half, has only been stolen once but the thief put it down a few feet away, probably because it would be tacky to give the old lady a broken pot of stolen flowers.  I do live on the edge of the 'hood, but even crooks have some scruples.

If you are wondering what to plant near your house, do not choose upright rosemary or escallonia.  If you are wondering what to plant a quarter mile from your house, select those.  They are brutally strong and grow three feet a year; I constantly slash them back.  The barberries are much more civilized and only need a little trim, which is handy because THORNS!  They're pretty though and go nicely with the Japanese maple which fades to green by summer, and also gets pretty crispy on top; it's a little too sunny there. 

This spring my dear stepmom moved out of the house she shared with my dad, who passed away five years ago.  I brought home the old pump, which provided water to the old ranch house in southern Utah where Dad was raised.  I'd like to pound a couple of long stakes through the bolt-holes so nobody can steal it, in case next Mother's Day rolls around and my local criminals think Ma might enjoy having a rusty old pump.

The new fishpond is hidden behind the fern.  So far, so good; She and Him are doing fine still alive.  

Sunday we went out to the farm to have dinner with Granny Fran (Lillie's boyfriend's grandmother) where those colorful (and tasty) happy eggs come from.  I must have looked like a soft touch because the chickens all followed me around.  We ate the first few ripe apricots on the tree and I shared a couple with my new girlfriends. 

Look at this super glamorous chicken!  He can sing, loud but not well.  He fanned out his brilliant tailfeathers like a Vegas showgirl  an NBC logo but we weren't fast enough with the camera and he wouldn't do it again.  

Today everybody's picnics got rained out. I just stayed inside with a pot of tea and the final season of The West Wing, which feels vaguely patriotic.  I'm also reading The Greatest Generation (which is rather an easy read, but I recommend it).  It makes me think about my old dad, a decorated lieutenant who served in the Phillipines in WWII, but like so many soldiers, never talked much about the war.  

Happy Memorial Day to you all, and thank you again for your service, Dad.