I had fun today – spent lunchtime at Cappel’s, just wandering around. Cappel’s always has everything for crafts, holidays – lots of stuff we’d never think of on our own. And so it is with Christmas.
I was thinking mostly of bags to put presents in, big bows for the porch railing, tissue paper. As it turned out, I found some actual presents as well. A smallish sign said to go upstairs – 2 aisles of Christmas, nothing over $5. Lots of fun up there – particularly for my son who loves blue and my daughter-in-law who loves purple. Their son likes maroon – and I found some maroon stuff for him.
I just wandered around, filled up 3 baskets with happy stuff, and only spent about $60. Plus I found everything I was looking for!
Staple’s also had some fun holiday writing paper – plus magnetic note pads, tissue paper and bags for the season. So I think I’m pretty well set in that department.
And now that that’s done, I’m going to actually make my lists for each person, and go over all the stuff I’ve bought so far this year – which is spread out all over the bed in the guest room. I’ll bet I’m nearly done with all my shopping, and now can just have fun wrapping and sharing. Hurray!
I am blogging about Christmas each day this entire month. And already feel like there are two or three things each day that deserve attention.
This day was the first official friends get together to exchange presents for Christmas 2011. Friend Carol had friend Pat and I over for dinner at her house in Pleasant Ridge. Carol made a wonderful lentil soup over rice, with salad. Pat brought 3 desserts (Servati’s chess pie and brownies, and Graeter’s ice cream. She just couldn’t choose. I brought the last loaf of Christmas bread I made last year – it had been waiting in the freezer for just such an occasion. (And was actually still great!) Along with numerous kinds of tea, all was perfect!
Great photographer Pat had framed one of her pictures for Carol and one for me – mine is a muted symphony of browns and greens – Kentucky fields in the mist. Carol’s was a colorful shot of two Guatemalan women at a market place there. And then we each got to pick out one more photo to keep (I couldn’t choose between my last two finalists – so my double Gemini self ended up with both: a tree in full fall orange like a star burst, and a barn in a field that had naturally developed a green roof – actually, mostly orange plants on a dark barn in a setting of many greens.
Carol had lots of, as she called them, hand-me-down presents. Mine were seeds from her garden for scarlet runner beans, big zinnias, orange and yellow cosmos and ornamental purple beans. Plus a 2 x 2 inch wooden puzzle – 99 pieces! of an oasis in the Sahara. And, most wonderful of all, an old Irish recipe book, purchased in Ireland by her sister. With – WOW! – a recipe for barm brack – Irish Halloween / harvest bread, that I had made fairly unsatisfactorily last year after much google and wiki searching. This recipe looks terrific.
So I am off to bed, to dream of, not sugarplum fairies, but the perfect barm brack!
I am totally into Christmas at the moment. Christmas puzzles are a must for me during the entire season – so last week I ordered a total of six puzzles! They arrived in three days, and I’ve already started on the first one – an angel shaped puzzle, with a very cute angel all dressed in green, with candy canes and presents and a wreath in her hair. I’m currently at the sorting stage.
Not sure what order I’ll do them in – may save some for next year, and may give one away as a gift. Next up likely will be a wreath shaped like a peace sign, with the requisite big red bow and pieces shaped like ornaments and trees. Then maybe the New Yorker cover from 1984, with folk towing Christmas trees home through the snow and the mail carrier all bundled up, carrying a huge bag of mail.
Stacked will come up soon after that – a 1,000 piecer, with Christmas quilts folded on top of each other. A lot of times, I’ll do the puzzle and then pass it on to other puzzle lovers. The one that may not stick around is another 1,000 piecer with a jumble of gold, red and green Xmas ornaments. The very last is a traditional winter small-town country side scene, lots of snow and pine trees, with some Christmas details. That may be a good one to use to transition back to normal life. : >
New shopping in Walnut Hills – Le Bon Vivant – Fine French Things. I just stopped in today with a mission – celebrating Christmas on Sunday with two friends, and had no presents yet. I had been meaning to go in – everyone at Cafe Moca had been telling me how great the shop is.
So, today, I stopped in and wandered about. And what a treat! Catherine, the owner, and her assistant, the West Highland terrier Winston, allowed me to look at everything and ask all the questions I wanted.
There is a wonderful selection of fine French groceries, with a bit of Italian as well. Wonderful olive oils, jams, chocolate, pastas, sugar. It’s perfectly okay to swoon over them. Then there are body products, table linens, dishes.
The grandsons are getting genuine Swiss army knives from their grandmother – made of Swiss chocolate!
You definitely need to stop in – it’s at the corner of Woodburn and Myrtle, cattycorner from the Walnut Hills Christmas tree, and just a block off Madison on Woodburn.
I got a call earlier this evening, where the caller ID said Lancaster, OH. Since I know some folk around there, I answered. The call, from a very pleasant woman’s voice, was about a cancer charity I’d never heard of that said it helped folk suffering from cancer with food, medicine, household help. The first pitch / ask was for $30 to $50, asking if I would be able to help at that level. There was an appropriate pause, where I said that I really didn’t view sickness quite the way most folk do.
The response was not to that comment, but as though I had said that was too much money – definitely an off-kilter response, and lowering the ask to $20 to $30. . Her tone was still very conversational and friendly, not sounding scripted and stiff, but I now knew it was a robo-call, so I started talking and said that. The now-obvious script just went on. So I hung up.
This is interesting – with one good voice and a robo-call set up and list, this probable scam can pull in tons of money, maybe legally as a non-profit, but giving only a small portion to charity. Or more likely a total scam illegally taking all the dollars.
The political robo-calls are going to have to do better. They sound stiff and scripted, even when they are from our wonderful Senator Sherrod Brown. And the same calls / script are often used several times to the same number. The scammers probably don’t make those mistakes.
We are now hearing about this concept all the time – that a company will take all the profits to hold privately, while pushing the costs and risks on to the public. In the old days, with asbestos, for instance, that meant denying the health problems being created while maximizing what the company could make right now. In many cases, this also meant going out of business before the black lung lawsuits began.
We now hear it about banks and hedge funds. And here’s a story I heard on NPR the other day, where all this was presented as a smart way of doing business and saving money for the company. Sounded to me like the reporter had not listened with wide open ears, or had not asked enough questions.
Right now, the US postal system is at real risk of collapse – correct? And yet the various private delivery companies are doing quite well – also correct? Guess what – Fed Ex takes the package across the country, and then, for that last and most expensive mile or two, it hands the package to the US Post Office, which actually delivers it.
Boots on the ground, expensive worker with good health insurance – not driving around hundreds of packages (which lowers the cost), but just hand-delivering one package. So Fed Ex has learned how to look smart, while gaming the system. We’re paying for that last mile, while Fed Ex has tucked away its profits. And its workers likely don’t have terrific health insurance, and maybe not even full-time jobs, so various labor law requirements don’t kick in.
Smart business – but bad news for our culture and our society. And not healthy capitalism. Short term profits, long term damage to all of us.
The Lion is back on top of the heap. And you could literally watch Roger Federer summon his Inner Lion today during the match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the ATP World Tour Finals today at the O2 in London. Yesterday, I was following the semifinals on my computer, just with the score – and still could tell just the moment Roger decided it was time for that match against David Ferrer to be done.
Roger is a Leo – August 8 – and that man decidedly likes to win. Today was his 100th time playing a final as a professional, and he won for the 70th time. Sixteen of those have been Grand slams, another 14 or 15 have been Masters Series wins, just below the Slams level. (Our tournament in Cincinnati is a Masters Series.)
Today he won the first set in Roger fashion – went along on serve, testing Tsonga here and there, and then suddenly cut loose, broke him and took the set. Second set looked to be about the same, until Tsonga got a little testy about the whole thing, and took that set. Roger was making more mistakes by then, which continued in the third and final set. He was barely making any first serves, and yet still was not losing. Then he shook himself, stood up straighter, got crisper and more Roger-like – and took it all at the end of a crowd-pleasing and tough match.
He even proclaimed himself happy, and said it was the best end of the season he had ever had. He is still an incredible tennis player, even more so in some ways, because his will makes things happen that his body has a bit more trouble with. I am happy, too, after watching today’s match.
The chipmunks are still awake as of today’s date – latest they’ve ever been, since I started living here nearly 20 years ago. Running around stuffing their pretty little faces. If it’s as cold mid-week as it’s supposed to be, they’ll go down for their long winter’s nap.
And I’ve got the veggie garden put to bed. Gathered up everything that was finished growing and put it on the compost heap. The collard greens and some Russian kale are still moving forward. Last year, they were covered in snow for 5 weeks, and the minute the snow was gone – they started to grow again. This group looks hale and hearty.
My hope for tomorrow is to cover that bed with leaves for insulation – and to do the same thing to the herb bed. So I’m hoping the rain holds off til afternoon.
For all our sakes, we need to eat better food, which to me means organic, clean, local food which has real flavor. In the spring, the asparagus in my garden has never yet made it into the house. I just snap off the spears and eat them as I’m walking around surveying my domain!
I am totally unable to understand folk who say organic food is too expensive, and yet will spend a ton on doctor bills for various and sundry ills brought on largely by our environment and our food choices. I spend the money on the food, not on the doctor.
We’ll definitely talk more about this later!