Saturday, November 03, 2007

A birthday walk in the woods

A fast recap of Bernie's birthday:

He worked, then we took a walk in the woods...

Love the mushroom...looks like powdered sugar atop a cookie.
Ah, another pretty mushroom...angel wings!
(Still need to get a field guide to Texas mushrooms.)
A new kind of grass/reed....gotta find out what these things are called too.
A new kind of fern too.
Bernie and his Mom together...the best scene in the entire forest!
A run to the store to get the fixings for shrimp tacos and chili rellaneos. Oh wow...I didn't realize it was DOGGIE sweater season.
$7.99 for a sweater for a wiener dog.
Seems crazy to me...these sweaters have wooden buttons like Mr. Roger's sweaters used to have.
Do the dog owners understand that we are in HOUSTON, where a sweater is used only to ward off air conditioning.
The wiener dogs can cope without a sweater, OK?
On the way home from the store I saw this van.
Isn't that a great idea? Rent a husband for the jobs that never get done.
Sooo...I maybe you can nag the rental guy about the jobs that never get done?
I guess that would be better than nagging your own husband about it.
The job still wouldn't get done...but at least your husband won't be so annoyed.

He asked for pumpkin pie with walnuts and Cool Whip instead of birthday cake.
He got pumpkin pie with walnuts and Cool Whip.
And a few candles...five on one side, four on the other representing 54.
The smoke after he blew them out!
Thankfully we didn't have to evacuate.
A house never looks as good as it does when a loved one is there. We love having Mom here!

One of several gifts....he was very happy with his birthday gifts.
Oh, and I guess his birthday is the kick-off the Christmas season. All the shops had their decorations up by 11 am on Nov. 2.
Now for the stuff Julie hates...and Bernie loves.....
(Bye-bye Julie! Thanks for stopping by!)
While we were walking in the woods, Bernie pointed out this tree:
Notice anything in the hollow?
Yup, Mr. Watersnake taking a nap. Maybe it is the same one that came by our yard awhile ago.
Or one of his relatives.
Let me tell you...nothing made the Birthday Boy happier than spotting that.
I would have NEVER noticed it myself.
As long as I'm being gross here, here is another less charming mushroom.
It is about the size of an English muffin, and such a weird top!
All in was birthday fun all around!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The man is 54, but the boy lives on....

Mr. B in childhood...adorable.

Mr. B as a

Mr. B. as a suave date...

Mr. B. as an outdoorsman...burning pancakes is a specialty...

Happy 54th Birthday!

Love you, and will enjoy this year with you, the last year before you get those 55 year old discounts.
If only they knew how young at heart you are.
You would never qualify for a senior discount!
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There were tricks...and then there were treats.

Not more Southern California fires!
No, this time the smoke is actually just artificial fog from our next door neighbor's fog generating machine. The not quite Santa Ana style breezes carried most of it into our yard, where the scariest thing to see was, well, basically nothing at all.

(My uber non-scary front porch, with freshly re-potted planters.)

Well, maybe you could call my creeping fig a little, well, creepy.
We have the sweetest neighbors and they always go all out for Halloween.
Their little boy (age 2) made the rounds dressed up as a green dragon. Complete with roar.

Joseph and his mom dropped by early in the evening, and Tiggie was very impressed with Joseph's costume. He and Joseph have had a love/hate relationship since Joseph was old enough to sit up.

They got to know each other one day when Joseph and his mom came by, and Joseph was just old enough to sit up by himself. Joseph was plunked down on the living room carpet, where he looked all about.
Tiggie was sitting in the big green chair, also looking all about, as cats do.
It was just a happenstance that Tiggie and Joseph saw each other at the exact same moment, and had identical reactions.
Like pull the head way back while opening eyes wide.
Like "What in the world is THAT thing???"

We explained to Joseph (he who had five very large dogs in his household...) that that was a "not a dog."
It seemed much easier to put it that way than to try to explain what exactly a cat is.

(How would you explain a cat to someone seeing a cat for the first time anyway? Or the second time, or the third time for that matter....)

Joseph has chased after Tiggie as a creeper, then a crawler, then a toddler, and now a runner.

Tiggie always manages to stay just out of reach, but then always sneaks back for another round of "chase the Tiggie" to keep the game going.

When Joseph was at the door last night, Tiggie came up and observed him at a reasonable distance, ready to pad out of reach if necessary.
Tiggie never came near the door for any other visitors.
He knew Joseph's little voice, even when it was coming from a pint sized dragon.
Isn't that sweet?
I got a treat too this morning.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed the local section of the Houston paper had a place where you could submit your digital photos. Going by the Member Name Jillinthehat, I posted the picture of the dragonfly wings that I had posted on my blog awhile ago, the entry where Bernie and I went down to the lake for our morning devotions.
Tons of people post their pictures which can be seen in a gallery by going online. Once a week one person's picture gets featured in print.
Ta dah!
My picture made the front page of the local section.
Now that's one sweet treat.
Published photographer: ME!

Fresh flowers, fluffy pillows...

Usually I decorate for autumn. I didn't get around to doing much decorating this year, but today I am putting a few festive touches around the place.

Bernie's mom, Barbara is flying in tomorrow (B. himself flies in this afternoon...yeah!) so I am putting a doing a bit of spangle work for the occasion.

A fall bouquet for the coffee table; the coleus are from our yard, the mums from the grocery store florist. I'm going to walk to the woods to get some flying oats to add to the bouquet later....
I went squirrely at the garden center yesterday. The pansies smelled so sweet and the cabbages were so ruffly that I scooped them up, totally forgetting that what I really was shopping for was crotans.
I always plant those for the fall as they last and last and look just right until January.
(Oh, and dill. At last it is cool enough I can plant a pot of dill and not have it turn to seed in a blink of an eye.)
I got the last black pansy. Black as coal I tell you, with just a hint of purple on the edge. A little trick or treat looking, but really, isn't it just amazing?
The lady behind me in line had bought an entire flat of them and loads of lime, coral and purple plants that just looked a tad creepy. They will line her walk way tonight; I'm sure the kids will not even notice, but it was definitely a unique combination.
I haven't a clue where I am going to plant the pansies. The coleus is still doing great, so I'm not going to rip them out yet. I guess I'll just tuck them into the patio pots as best I can. I think the black one is staying inside for a day or so, just so I can admire it. It might just inspire me in my hat making or novel writing. You can never tell what will do the trick.
The guest room is tidied up and cat free again. The dresser was Bernie's as a child, and was refinished by me while I was expecting Laura. It matched her crib perfectly.
The International Quilt Festival is this weekend; I always suggest quilting friends come and stay. No one has taken me up on the offer yet.
I even provide a teddy bear in case we have scary thunderstorms, and a nice desk for jotting thoughts in a travel journal.
Laura is going to move in with us for a few months while she takes an assignment in Houston. When we moved in, the whole house had been done by an interior decorator and all the drapery and wall paper used a specific color scheme of deep reds, olive greens, golden rod, sage and cream.
It was just plain dumb luck that I was able to find bed skirts that matched the guest room curtains, and comforters in the right shade of olive.
The comforters are really too heavy for Houston; I provide a light weight cotton blanket for guests as well, but I'm thinking that Laura and I might re-decorate the room while she is here.
The extra long twin beds can be combined to make a queen sized bed, and are long enough for tall guests to stretch out. We seem to have guest fairly regularly, but there is always openings available on our calendar.
Hint, hint....
I'd better get cracking if I want to get the plants into the planters before it gets too hot outside.
Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Millinery: Rethink, re-do.

Sometimes I just want to crow over what the milliners on blogdom are up to.
Today I am giving into the urge. I am resisting the temptation to just grab pictures off their websites so you don't have to click over, but this way, by following the links, perhaps you will find a new link to enjoy often.

First up:

Jane over at Glorious Hats posted a luscious re-do of a hat today.
I am just drooling at how she put together a small, classy feather trim for a simple felt hat.

She is such a delightful milliner, and always makes the most cheery comments. I get energized by her, and admire her work.
When she isn't creating classic items, she has a flair for the whimsical. Be sure to catch her "Big Sister hood" gift pack, and her Eggplant and Broccoli hats.

Next up for props: Over in Spain, Cristina has blocked up a vintage style hat to die for. She even included a tutorial of how she made it. I don't work much in felt, so I learned a lot!
The color! The style! Oh...please, please let her make more, and let the world discover the joys of wearing highly structured hats.

(Applause) Jane, Cristina, take a bow! My hat is off to both of you!

Now back to me...ahem...
I've been noticing articles about top hat styled hats being in fashion right now. In New Orleans, the sales lady was wearing a lovely top hat/riding style hat and it looked just so right.

It got me thinking about re-doing this hat that I made last spring:

As much as I think the ruffled brim is adorable, I have yet to wear the hat to hack around town in. The ruffle just made it look too fussy.
So I put the kettle on and changed the brim shape with a little steam.

Hack around outfit: Off to buy new plants for the front door planters, a new pillow and the usual grocery run for milk and juice.

It's close enough to Halloween that if anyone is easily alarmed by the sight of a woman in a hat, I can always up the ante and shout out a hearty "Boo!"

(The hat's veil can still be lowered when I'm wearing contacts, especially now that I have trifocal contacts and won't be needing to hoist reading glasses up in addition to my regular contacts.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hats and Gloves Occasions

Even when I'm not traveling, others are.
Kate and her husband Sherm, Esq. dropped into Houston while I was gone to New Orleans, and we managed to squeeze in a dinner date!
Squeezed is right word for it...Kate flies back to Switzerland on Tuesday morning, then takes the high speed train to Paris on Wednesday, then take the train again the next day to London (to see an exhibit at the Albert and Victoria Museum), then goes back to Paris for a tour of the Paris fashion houses; then she flies to Virginia, where she will be living while her husband zips between Switzerland, Finland and Virginia, (and probably Houston...)
And you thought Bernie and I had a jet setter life style!

Kate and I plotted a trip to NYC together once she gets settled. Stay tuned for that one...

Marie was with us, and her great granddaughter Zoe, who has been a member of the Houston Hat Net since birth. Here Miss Z. models Kate's newest millinery design.
The lace was purchased as the same lace outlet that I visited in Switzerland. Kate designed the hat style, and dubbed this particular creation "Swiss Chocolate."
It does look good enough to eat!
Kate promises she will release the new Beryl hat pattern once things settle down.
It is so much fun to have hat patterns that are named after our friends.
It is SUPER fun to have a hat pattern named after one's very own self.
Love that "Jill" pattern still!
Have fun in Paris gf!

You might remember that I mention that I bought two pairs of lace gloves while I was in New Orleans this visit. While I was there a few years ago with the Houston Hat Net, I scooped up this pair of lace gloves, in a nice bone/beige/ivory tone.
They are cool to wear, both temperature and style wise.
Or at least I think so.
Some people are just totally puzzled by the sight of a hand in a glove.
Even at church on Easter Sunday?
Personally, I prefer to wear gloves on any occasion where I am going to be socially obligated to "press the flesh" with those around me.
I don't mean to be finicky, but in a warm climate, a firm sweaty handshake just gives me the yucks.
Rubbing my hand against the sides of my clothing following said sweaty handshake looks pretty rude, if you ask me.
Gloves. Gloves are the answer to so very many ticklish situations.
It used to be that every girl would scoop up her hat, gloves, fan and hankie before heading out.
It was just part of being dressed.
No big deal.

It really isn't a big deal.
So I still do.
Or at least the hat and fan part.
A pretty lacy paper fan is always tucked into the bottom of my purse.
And of course the fact that I wear a hat goes without saying.

The glove part still isn't second nature.
I own lots of gloves; kid gloves, cotton gloves, lace gloves, gauntlet, wristlet, opera, you name it.
I finally figured out to keep knitted winter gloves in the pockets of all my winter jackets.
People don't give gloves a second glance in winter.
They understand about cold hands.
I really liked the ivory lacy gloves, but so often I would put on an outfit and think, hmmm, I wish I had a pair of lace gloves in black to go with it. The ivory just doesn't look right.

The black lace gloves didn't have as pretty of a cuff as the ivory pair. Oh well, next trip, I'll keep looking.
The white ones are just perfect.
The netting actually feels very nice on the hand.
Do you own a pair (or two...) of gloves?
Do you know where your gloves are?
Are they the ones you have tucked in a drawer somewhere, the ones that belonged to someone special, or that you bought to wear to a special occasion?
Are they the pair that you keep, because you think someday you will have a special occasion again?
I have wonderful news for you:
It is today, you are alive, it is a special occasion.
Go find your gloves, make a cup of tea, put on your gloves, and celebrate!
(PS: There is so much that can be done surgically to make a woman look younger. The give away on the age is usually the hands. Those pesky age spots, and sun damage...our great grandmothers, as usual, knew what they were doing by wearing gloves whenever they were out and about. Their hands were covered against the sun, and that was one aging issue that they were able to beat. And they looked stylish while doing so too!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Home again, and back to work.

I still have a pretty long "Things to Do in New Orleans" list.
Bernie got totally stiffed on this trip. All he got to see was the hotel, the convention center and one restaurant.

We want another shot at New Orleans.

Since our anniversary is coming up in December, we're talking about taking advantage of the Christmas in New Orleans "Papa Noel" hotel rates, which are good the entire month of December. We've been to New Orleans twice around Christmas; we think it is the best kept holiday vacation secret in America!

Read about what is fun to do in New Orleans in December here.

Everywhere I went, I talked with New Orleans residents who urged us to spread the word that New Orleans is a safe and wonderful place and it is ready for visitors again. I'm doing my part here on my blog.

Seems only patriotic to head on over to the Big Easy at least once in December!

Let the good times roll!

The Mississippi River winding through the area as seen from the air.
The delta, where the soil from the river turns the water au lait brown before finally mingling with the deeper blue water in the Gulf. The sediment looks like clouds.
Tender post party feet need Crocs.
A gentleman across the aisle in the plane asked me if I bought the jacket to match my Crocs, or the Crocs to match my jacket.
Bernie bought me the Ellen Tracy jacket last November; I have finally decided to just wear it, and get over how expensive it was.
Fashion editors everywhere would just up chuck to see that jacket worn with Crocs.
The gentleman told me he thought Crocs are just great, and that he, his wife and his kid wear them all the time. Bernie chimed in with how the PGA caddies all wear them now, but can only wear them in black or brown.
The gentleman was curious about where I had found the unusual aqua toned Mary Jane crocs. I told him my daughter got them for me.
I'm reporting the above conversation just in case you ever wondered what the folks up in first class on the plane are chatting about...yesterday, it was about aqua colored crocs.
(I got my ticket upgraded to first class on the flight home, hurray! Bernie just about always gets upgraded to first class whenever he flies. Considering he has made over 130 flight this year alone, Continental aims to keep his business by making him as happy as possible when he needs to fly by upgrading him whenever there is first class space available.)

I've said it before: You never know what you will see in an airport. Irish Houston, in October. Love it! Click here to watch a clip of the kids in action.
I left Bernie to grab my luggage at the terminal while I jumped into my car to race off to work. I made it to work with just enough time to spare that I could stop and snap a picture of the butterflies on the flowers outside the library.
I had never seen this kind of butterfly before. There are SO many butterflies this year! And I am finally getting good at getting pictures of them.
After a fairly quiet Saturday afternoon at work, I was driving home through an undeveloped area and spotted some Texas Scissor Tail Fly Catcher perched on the barbed wired fencing. It was just after five in the afternoon, and the birds were plentiful; it must be a good time to catch flies.
It took a couple of U-turns on the street to get a good shot of the birds. I have been trying to get a picture of them for about a year!
Here's a link to a picture of the bird close up. They really are very pretty.
Back at home, Bernie was vegging out while I earned my paycheck. The cats were SO glad to see him that Hart had caught an anole and brought it into the house as a gift.
I think the boys have finally caught on to the Uncle Scott "you get a welcome gift" policy.
Uncle Scott's gift this time included two small pumpkins with "Tiggie" written on one and "Hart" written on the other. And another set of note cards and pens. Lately Uncle Scott has been including those two items in his gift baskets; sadly, neither of our cats are very good at remembering to write him thank you notes.
It is embarrassing...Uncle Scott is rated #5 on the list of best pet sitter in America. (As determined by polling done by International Society of Pet Sitters.) Nothing but the best for our kitties! Plus he costs the same as everyone else around here. And he has just recently been certified to perform cat and dog CPR.
Yeah, I'd just love so see him try to give old Tiggie the kiss of breath....
Hart lost hold of his "gift" to us. There's an anole on the loose around here some place today, unless the critter got eaten during the night.
So today it is Sunday. After retiring early last night, we awoke to Tiggie purring between our pillows at 8:30 in the morning. It felt so nice to linger in bed...thinking about the fun I had in New Orleans, talking about what we want to do next trip.
I got up about nine to make coffee (don't tell...I do it all the time actually, scriptural guidelines scoff law am I...) and Bernie came into the kitchen looking for the paper shortly there after.
At 9:20, Bernie's brain woke up and reminded him that he had a flight to catch at 10:30. (I knew he had a flight today, he knew he had a flight today, we both woke up thinking it was at 1:30 for some reason.)
He showered while I unpacked and repacked for him. Tiggie was so upset that Bernie was apparently leaving again that he went and ate a tissue, which made him throw up.
Bernie raced out the door and was at the airport at 10:10.
(I wonder how long it will be before the planes just dip down over our house and hook Bernie up and on to the plane...seems like a reasonable next step in providing passenger satisfaction.)
He will arrive in Atlanta at 1:30. Another convention (why don't they space these industry specific conventions out better than this?) with the same gang that we had breakfast at the airport with yesterday.
Everyone flew to the four corners of America yesterday morning just so they could sleep in their own beds, unpack and repack, and get ready for another convention.
What a way to live.
I'm thinking about making pralines.
I think I can make them, then I can eat them while I sip a cup of cafe au lait, and read up on corsets and daydream about New Orleans.
Wish you were here to join me.
It would be nice.