Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The other day, when life was not too busy, and the morning was cool, Bernie and I walked together to the end of our street. The street is a cul-de-sac, and there are just three houses to walk past before reaching our mail box, and the end of the street.

After that short stroll through the neighborhood we walked about five or six minutes more, following a trail through the woods, through a prairie area, and through another patch of woods (so deep you can not see the sky when you look up...)
And then we came to the lake...

...and to this bench.

It was a really special treat to walk down to the lake with our devotional reading.

We sipped coffee, read, talked, prayed, and savored God's goodness to us.

We marveled at God's creation.

(A dragonfly still asleep, wings like small windows framing the view.)
For years and years and years Bernie rose before dawn, and would be gone before day break, heading to work to provide for our family. Time together in the morning was rare indeed.

Being together in the morning now is especially sweet. We share our coffee, the paper, and talk at the beginning of the day.
Some times we have devotions over the breakfast table, sometimes a little later sitting together on the living room couch.

We had never gone to the lake for our morning devotional time before, but had often thought about it.
It was good the other day to make the dream become a reality.

The soft sounds of the lake and woods, the lapping of water and the song of the precious to us, we who grew up in the Southern California suburbs.

There have been tough times over the years. Times when it seemed as if the world conspired to destroy us, when our money, time, health, and relationship all seemed under attack.

But like the blue flower growing at the water's edge (with a bloom that will only last one day...) we may be scarred a bit, but nevertheless we continue to bloom.

It is God's grace and bounty to us.

We bloom.

Here, now, in these seasons of time, still together.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Millinery: It's Jillie in a Jille!

My newest hat: A 1964-65 Ostrich feather over felt base hat designed by the millinery company known as "Jille."
It just arrived this morning.
Ever since Marie showed me her white feathered Jille, I've been watching them on ebay.
Some Jille's go for around $20, while others are selling off at the $165 dollar mark. Most are too small in size for me to wear.
I got this lovely 22 incher for $21.95, which included shipping!
(Ooops, there goes Bernie groaning in the background. He hates it when I brag on shopping bargains. If you see me, pretend you didn't see this, and I'll pretend you don't know what I paid for it.)
Wonder if the temperatures will ever get cold enough here so I can wear this thing?
Wonder if I'll ever find a perfect occasion to wear it?
What a silly, silly questions!
I think I'll be looking so cool, I'll have to wear shades.
Hello Darling! There you are! How have you been?
We must get together and do lunch really soon. Maybe we can get together for cocktails really soon.
It's been so good seeing you (kissy sound, kissy sound.)
Say hello to everyone for me!
Buh bye!
( I don't think I will ever outgrown my love for playing dress up. Wish you could come over and play would be so much fun!)
PS: There is a black Jille similar to this one going for a similar amount on ebay right now. If the purple link doesn't work, just put the word Jille in ebay as your search term. But hurry...if you snooze, you will lose!

Monday, October 01, 2007

When guests drop by for dinner, and cook books.

Bernie gave out a yelp last night:

"Get the camera, the raccoon is out there eating on the bench with her whole family!"

There they were, Mother Raccoon, FIVE teenager raccoons, and apparently they were traveling with a possum as well. The possum didn't get into the picture though.

Bernie had re-filled the bird feeder and had left some seed piled on the garden bench, in hopes of seeing some of the cardinals feeding up close.

That poor can tell she's been nursing.
Those kids of hers look old enough to be weaned to me.

Maybe this treat will do the trick. No more nursing, OK kids?

It is such a delight when guests drop by and you know you can whip up a great meal just by using things in your pantry from your emergency food shelf.

You DO have an Emergency Food Shelf in your pantry, don't you?

If you don't, let me share with you how to go about putting one together, as explained in this fabulous cook book:

It's one of my favorite cookbooks from my collection of unusual cookbooks.
I'll be sharing some of my more unusual ones with you over the next few days.

This cook book is especially clever because each menu is introduced via a short vignette featuring Bob and Bettina, newlyweds, circa 1917.
Bob and Bettina's kitchen, inside the book's cover.
Don't you love the little kitchen cupid? Bettina's house dress is charming too.
"The Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping." Ahhh....that is so sweet.
Notice the authors have three names, as all women home economic authors did at the beginning of the last century.
And the modern gals with hyphenated names thought they were so original!
The 1917 publication date is significant. In one of the chapters Bob and Bettina have guests for dinner and the conversation veered to speculation as to whether we would become involved in the war overseas.
A year later, World War One was in full swing, as was The Spanish Influenza.
The cook book has become a snapshot in time.
The story/cookbook begins with the Newlyweds returning from their honeymoon:
(Click on the picture to enlarge it if you want to read the story.)
Isn't Bettina just too cool; she's ashamed that her husband would suggest they eat a hotel, instead of heading on home after their honeymoon.
She is totally up for cooking a meal in their brand new little home.

Weren't Bob and Bettina's friend's lovely to have gotten them ice and milk and cream and butter and bread and rolls and even grape fruit so they would have their ice box freshly stocked when they returned from their honeymoon?
And can't you imagine how delighted Bob was with the thrifty Creamed Tuna on Toast and Canned Peas he got instead of an elegant meal at a hotel?

Personally, I think that Bettina has an interesting emergency shelf. Three packages of marshmallows? Six pints of olives?
Worked for her I guess; her Bob was still one happy man when the book closed as they ate their first wedding anniversary dinner together, a thousand romantic recipes later.
(PS: If they ever decide to make the book into a movie, I want Lovella and Terry to play the part of Bettina and Bob. You've heard of dinner theater haven't you? This really would be dinner theater!)
Tonight the possum dropped by again. Tiggie was purring up a storm and rubbing against the window; we went to investigate and there it was: Our Friend Oppossum.
Tiggie is totally in love.
Tiggie battered the window, to see if Possum would like to play...
Bernie slid the window open just a crack and the two of them touched noses.
I don't know...seems like a pretty strange couple to me.
Tiggie...I think you can do better....I think we'd better talk.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mystery Date! (Millinery included!)

When Bernie was a kid he absolutely loved reptiles. He had all kinds of lizards in his room, and his mom would even drive him out to the desert at night so he could for hunt for snakes and lizards to collect. What a good mom she was!

As a result of those nights, to this day, Bernie can be walking along, and suddenly he can reach down and grab a lizard or snake that I didn't even see.

I have always admired his quick ability to see and capture reptiles.
I also have always loathed snakes.
Lizards I didn't mind, as long as they kept their distance. A lizard doing push ups on a rock is arguably kind of cute.

Poor Bernie...for years he would gleefully capture a snake or lizard as we would walk along in wilderness areas, only to have me scream and totally fall apart. Nightmares would follow, and even a trip into a pet store could be a trauma if I inadvertently viewed a snake.

Mentally I knew most of these creatures were harmless. But still, one glance and whoopsie, Jill is hysterical. This ruined many pleasant walks through the woods, and certainly curtailed any plans visits to reptile shows or pet shops that catered to reptile owners.

Over the years I softened slightly in my response to reptiles; GREEN reptiles were OK...just bright green. Little green lizards and snakes, in the wild. Not in my home.

Oh, and blue ones were acceptable too. (Turquoise blue iguanas specifically, as found in the Cayman Island. As long as I saw them first on the path.)

Our almost daily walks through the woods surrounding our house has inevitable led to snake and lizard encounters. Bernie has worked out a system whereby he can warn me of a snake by the wayside, allowing me to "see it before it sees me" and to keep myself under control.

Little by little I've grown more comfortable with reptiles. Not so comfortable that I would want to have a snake in my house, or to touch one, but comfortable enough so that I now do not go off like a fire engine siren just because a snake is resting up beside the path as we walk.

A few months ago I had a dream. In my dream I was walking to the beach, and in the vacant lot on the way there, there were many large snakes curled up in discarded wheelbarrows and tires, and resting on top of fences.

In my dream I found myself being really dismayed...not because of the snakes, but because I was thinking (in my dream) how much Bernie would enjoy seeing all the snakes, and I was really sad that he wasn't there to enjoy them.

Whoa.... a new place in my mind!

It has only been this summer that I actively began to enjoy seeing reptiles in the wild. Never, ever thought I would. As Bernie puts it: "It certainly has made life easier not having you scream your head off just because a lizard or snake is seen."

I share all this to help explain the extreme pleasure that I experienced planning yesterday's Mystery Date as a surprise for Bernie.

While visiting the Houston Natural History Museum with my folks a few weeks ago, I saw promotional materials displayed about a special exhibit that was coming there soon. An Exhibit called "Snakes and Lizards Alive!"

I decided right then and there that I would make sure Bernie got to see THAT particular exhibit as soon as possible.

The trick was to make sure he didn't learn about the exhibit ahead of time. That meant reading the paper daily and hiding reviews and articles about the show, and distracting him from seeing billboards. Lucky for me, he was out of town a lot, and when he was home he was so busy he generally didn't even have a chance to look at the paper anyway.

After Bernie's rotten week of a cold and a major brain busting project, I knew this weekend would be the perfect time to take him to see one of his favorite things: An entire exhibit of snakes and lizards!

Yesterday afternoon found us driving downtown together, and headed to the parking garage near the museum, where a two story high banner advertised the exhibit. At that point I asked Bernie if he knew what we were going to go see.

He was so focused on the crowded entry that he had not even glanced at the banner! Still no idea...

Finally I told him to look up and read. all worked out really was a surprise!

I've posted a few pictures of some of the "prettier" specimens on display.

The museum had done an excellent job of creating environments for a variety of colorful lizards.
The green basilisk posed in haughty splendor.
Multicolored dots decorated this specimen.
I still prefer my reptiles to be green. This little guy was all bunched up so tightly, it was impossible to see where he began.

A larger skink: the pink hued relative of our local tiny blue tail skink...I think this skink had a blue tongue. Lizards have longer arms, the short arm is the clue that it is a skink.
It's sculptural patten leather shiny pink head was elegant, and the pink/gray pattern on it's back made me think of the classic pink sweater, gray skirt combination so often found in fashion.

A gecko...not selling insurance. His flat little tail reminded me of the beaver. and also our cat Hart who enjoys sprawling on his belly with his back legs and tail stretched out just like the gecko.

This was a bonus treat: An adorable little girl in jeans and tank top, a necklace and sandals, and the most BEAUTIFUL hat! She didn't even seem real, she looked a bit like Haylee Mills as a very young child, but with white blond hair. I walked over to her and her mother, to compliment her on her hat. She immediately lifted it from her head and asked if I would like to try it on.

I am so disappointed in myself for declining the honor; I explained to her that since the hat fit her, it likely was too small to fit me. Her face fell a bit at that, but brightened again as I told her I thought she looked so beautiful wearing her hat.

She headed off to look at another reptile, and her mom explained that her daughter had been with them in an antique mall and had selected that hat on her own, completely out of the blue, and has been wearing it ever since.

I told her mom that when she gets a little older to please have her join up with the rest of us Hat Lovers in the Houston Hat Net. And that we'd love to have her come join us for tea. Her mom replied that she would love that!
It really was a pretty special hat....
I got such a kick out of the signage. The symbol for food, a crossed fork and knife. How funny when applied to reptile dining.

A green iguana. I think I do like the blue ones better....

Bernie had a small green one when he was a kid. It used to enjoy eating dandelions!

Wasn't the choice of the leaves to match the lizard wonderful?
Veiled Chameleon...yes, I do think veils are wonderful on hats, so why not on reptiles too!

There were lots more snakes and lizards to be seen, I just posted the ones that I thought were the prettiest.
But....MORE FUN...
The was also a FROG exhibit as well!
Frogs are just sooo cool. So here are a few of my fave frogs!
Chinese moss frog. Yup, that is a frog butt you are looking at. He is facing away from the camera, and blending in perfectly with the surrounding moss.
This frog is looking right over your shoulder, wearing a tiny green cap....
A display of frog food included this enormous katydid. My finger is on the other side of the glass, the katydid is right next to the inside of the glass. I had no idea they could get that big!
When we first entered the exhibit, Bernie commented that what he knows most about frogs is that they are good at hiding from people, and that they like to blend in so they can't be found. Why? Because everyone likes to eat frogs!
It was true; trying to find the frog in each display was like playing a game of "Where's Waldo?"
Perhaps you've heard of the Frog Prince. I think that is from a Fairy Tale. But there really is a Frog Queen.
Her crown has a pale green frog design made from emeralds in the center!
(Gee, I wish I could have been a Frog Queen. Wonder if it is too late...oh well, you never know what life may bring you!)
I think this one was called a Monkey Frog.
The blue Poison Dart Frog was so active, and really, really cute. He headed over to an orange quarter and gave it a lick.
I had always wanted to see a blue frog!
Blending in nicely...
You know, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince!

After the frogs, we did what any Prince and Princess ought to do:
We looked at gems and jewelry!
Not for sale; these gems and minerals were on display in a dark, dark room, with a single light over each specimen. Soft classical music was played in the background, a soothing contrast after the piped in frog song recording playing in the Frog Exhibit, and the squealing screaming tots in the snake exhibit.
I never cease to be amazed at the myriad of colors and patterns in Creation. Whether it be in a reptile's scales, or a frog's smooth skin, or on a rock dug up from deep inside the earth.
How could something as beautiful as this exist unseen from the creation of the world?
I imagine digging in dirt, and finding something like this...seen and enjoyed for eons only by God. A crystal flower in a hidden garden.
Tubes of color embedded in the earth.
Designs and colors so delicate they appear as though they could be blown away by a puff of breath.
Crystals balancing, like a creative playful artist had arranged them for His pleasure.
What color can not be found hidden inside the earth?
Which is more priceless: That gems exist at all, or that they are re-fashioned by man to adorn a beautiful woman's throat?
A necklace, ring, and earrings. Yes, a matched set is very nice!
We finished up our date with a stop in Rice Village, at a little French cafe, where we had a latte and shared a slice of cheesecake.
I have to admit: Our simple life is sweet.