Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Past

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory? This Tuesday we will be encouraged to share Christmas memories in Winton at our historical society meeting. My favorite memories are of the Christmas Pageants put on by the Winton Grammar School. Fourth through eighth graders participated, some students in the Voice Choir, reciting the Biblical verses pertaining to the first Christmas and some students in the Music Choir, singing the Christmas Carols. The scenery, costumes and story was the same year after year, only the 'actors' changed. I think most students enjoyed being a part of it.
I have asked around if anyone has pictures of the play, but so far have not found any. It would be a nice addition to the next Winton history book if any pictures could be found.
This pageant is no longer a part of the Winton Christmas season. Too bad. It was nice and gave people a feeling of the Christmas spirit.
There are different Christmas customs around the world. In the Netherlands they have Sinterklaas. My daughter wrote about this year's celebration at DB's Aunt and Uncle's house in Holland at her blog.
To read more about Sinterklaas, do a google search or read the article at wikipedia.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Well, Black Friday has come and gone. I intended to go see what Gottschalks had on sale, but it was such a dreary day and I guess I was in a dreary mood, so didn't leave the house. Besides I couldn't think of anything I really needed.
It seems like every year the merchants expect to sell more than the year before. Good grief! What's wrong with cutting back? People buy way more than they need. In a way the slow-down on the economy is a good thing because it makes people realize they don't need a lot of the stuff they buy. People used to make do with what they had and that's not a bad thing.
I went to Mervyn's and Circuit City the other day, both stores are closing because of the economy. I feel bad for the people losing their jobs. But if the U.S. would manufacture more of the products they sell, there would be enough jobs for everyone. The items might cost a little more, but it would be worth it. Make quality merchandise like they used to. Things that would last and you wouldn't have to be replacing them, which usually costs more money in the long run.
Christmas will soon be here and the stores are full of cheap plastic toys that will be bought for the kids. They will get broken and thrown in the landfills before long. There is so much waste. It's a shame.
On a slightly different note, my daughter wrote about the current situation on her blog and how it affects her in the Netherlands. I agree with what she wrote and wanted to share it with you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Life's Oddities

There were a few odd things I noticed or learned in Europe, at least I think most Americans would consider them odd.
First off is the outdoor urinal, pictured on the left. Sure it's practical, but I don't think you'd see one in the U.S. There are four sides to it, but I've never seen it that busy. The men can relieve themselves in public without exposing themselves. It's quick and easy!! But, no place to wash their hands.
My daughter's house has three stories with the main bathroom on the 2nd floor with two bedrooms. There is a small bathroom? with just a toilet on the ground floor. The surprising thing is that there is no sink to wash your hands. Surprising because the Dutch are so CLEAN! Why wouldn't they want to wash their hands after using the toilet? The common practice then is to wash your hands at the kitchen sink or put antiseptic wipes or a similar item in the small bathroom.
An odd thing about dish washing; if this is done by hand, it is a common practice in Europe, (not just in Holland) to not rinse the soap off the dishes. Just wash them in the nice soapy water and let them drain. Of course if you have a dishwasher, they are made with the rinse cycle.
Most houses or apartments in Holland are rather small, so if you have a cat, where do you think the litter box is located? I put my cat's litter box in my bathroom.
Oh, that's a terrible thing to do. Bathrooms are supposed to be CLEAN!!
Where do the Dutch put their cat's litter box?
In the KITCHEN!!
O.k., it's true, I never smelled the litter box, but to say it's in the kitchen seems a bit odd.
UPDATE: I thought my daughter was going to make a comment here. Guess I better make the correction myself. If dishes are hand-washed they are not left to drain dry. They are dried with a towel. (That wipes off the soap.)
Only the older homes have a small bathroom downstairs with only a toilet and not a sink. My daughter's house was built in the 1930s. The newer or renovated houses have a sink in the little bathroom.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today I went with my sister to her granddaughter's house for the Thanksgiving feast. I thought it was very brave of the granddaughter to tackle such a big undertaking, but her mother and mother-in-law was there to help. Not to mention her step-dad who made the gravy with nary a lump. Everyone brought food, so after we all stuffed ourselves, there was still lots of leftovers. The granddaughter, mother and mother-in-law cleaned up the kitchen, while the men watched football in the living room. A typical Thanksgiving Day. I imagine this scene was repeated in homes all over the U.S.

We didn't all say what we were thankful for, but I'm sure we were all thankful for family. The Gonzales family lost several close family members as did my sister and I. So, I think we were just grateful for each other.
My daughter had an interesting post on her blog today about Thanksgiving. Today was just an ordinary day in Europe, but my daughter remembered it was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and thinking about her family over here.
I hope everyone had something to be thankful for today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Year Ago Today

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2007 that my granddaughter, Mandy was on the Rachael Ray Show. How did that come about? She found the RR website and submitted a story about herself as a cheese maker on a small dairy in Northern California. She pitched the idea of a "make-over" since her work required her to wear rubber boots and pants and hair net. She wanted to feel more feminine and asked Rachael Ray how she manages with such a busy schedule. To Mandy's surprise and delight, they "bought" her idea and hired Cojo to do the make-over.
I was at the dairy when Cojo arrived to take some pictures (yes they are amateur pictures). It was definitely a Fun Day. Both Mandy and her boyfriend John were on the show. To see Mandy's posts about the Rachael Ray Show, click on here and here.
The Rachael Ray website has a cute video of Mandy and Cojo.
Mandy has also been on the California Country TV show two or three times and also in their magazine. She has many write-ups in the Chico Enterprise newspaper and also the Sacramento Bee newspaper and a local Sacramento magazine. Oh, and the day the Rachael Ray Show aired, Mandy was on the Chico TV morning news show.
In October Mandy and John flew to Italy to take part in the international Slow Food
event. While there, John proposed to Mandy in the Valentino Park! How romantic is that? Congratulations!! The picture of Mandy and John was taken in Italy by her aunt who traveled from Holland to meet up with them.
To see what Mandy and John are up to now, follow this link.
See what her Aunt Sandy wrote about the trip to Italy.
Mandy, your Grandma is very Proud of you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last Rose of Summer?

The Roses are still blooming. I haven't been cutting off the dead blooms because I thought it was time to let them "harden off." Our weather has been unseasonably warm, so they are still blooming. Here is a picture of "The Impostor" a Floribunda that will get about 3 feet tall and as wide. It was named "The Impostor" because it kind of looks like a Camellia.
The Butterfly Bushes seem to be through blooming. A friend wondered what the flowers look like, so here is a picture of "Ellen's Blue." The flowers kind of resemble a lilac flower. I found most of the Butterfly Bushes at Home Depot here in Merced. I thought I'd bought one of each color: "Black Knight"; "Pink Delight"; "Royal Red" and "Ellen's Blue" all came from Home Depot. "Adonis Blue" and "Strawberry Lemonade" came from The Greenery. I missed one at Home Depot, "Nanho Blue" not sure where I would plant another one. They do like the sun. I sure hope the Humming Birds appreciate my efforts to keep them happy in my back yard. I keep hoping they will make a nest on the patio, so I can watch them up close. My friend was lucky enough to have Humming Birds on her patio come back year after year until her husband had to move the electrical cord they made their nest on.
Maybe next year they will find a good spot on my patio.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall Planting

I still have a few spots in the backyard that will get good sun exposure, so how can I resist buying more Perennials or Shrubs? Today after my Reflexology treatment in Turlock, I visited The Greenery on Olive Avenue. You can find unusual plants there, not found in the local stores in Merced. So, here is what I bought today:
Picture #1 is Pink Cloud Gaura, blooms late spring through fall, grows to 2-3 feet tall and as wide.

Picture #2 is Salvia greggii, Autumn Sage "Lipstick" grows to 2-3 feet high and wide with hot pink flowers. The Sunset Western Garden book says it is evergreen or deciduous shrub, I guess depending on how cold the winter gets.

Picture #3 is Agastache Barberi "Tutti Fruitti" a Perennial that grows to 30 inches high and 2 feet wide with tubular reddish purple flowers. I did a Google search on this plant and learned that the humming birds go crazy over it, so it was a good choice. I also bought another Butterfly Bush. This one has variegated leaves and is named, "Strawberry Lemonade." It has bright pink flower spikes. The tag says it's Deciduous. So, that's what I bought today. I hope to get them planted soon, along with the rest of the Ranunculus corms. This coming Spring will be very exciting!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Harvest Time . . . Again

This time of year, harvest time in my backyard means the Oriental (Fuyu)Persimmons are ripe. They don't all ripen at the same time, so that's good. I just pick a few each day until they are all ripe and then give some away. They only fruit on the old wood, so the new growth up high, which is cut back every year, never has fruit only on the lower branches. Earlier this year I pruned some of the heavy low branches because I was afraid they were going to break off. Had to throw away a lot of green Persimmons though.
The Pomegranates and the Satsuma Mandarins are also ripe. The Mandarins seem to be quite small this year, but the Pomegranates are huge as shown in the picture. Three Mandarins are on the left with one lone Persimmon on the right. I also have a "Honey" Mandarin which ripens in February or March. It has more seeds than Satsuma. The Pomegranate tree is still small, so only got about 15 Pomegrantes. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them. I see they are $2. each in the grocery store.
Music: I did find "Remember Me" by T. Texas Tyler on a CD that I made of some favorite songs. I'll have to upload the new collection of "Oldies But Goodies" and make CDs of my favorites, since I don't especially like all of them.
But first I have to figure out why I don't have any sound on this computer!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving Right Along . . .

Hooray! The Presidential election is over. My man didn't win, but I guess I'm over it. Now I just hope the new president won't be able to keep all his promises, like spread the wealth around. I think that would be a mistake. People would have no incentive to work hard then to build up their business. Well, this is not a political blog, so that's all I'm going to say.
Pictured is another Iris plant I purchased this year from Superstition Iris Gardens in Cathy's Valley. This picture of "Splashacata" was taken in early May in their field. Can't wait to see them all bloom in my backyard.
Today I had another chiropractic treatment with Dr. Reed. I won't have another one for 2 weeks, but he wants me to come in 3 times a week to exercise. Next time I get to start on another machine, the elliptical, so I'm excited about that. Eventually I will go once a month for a treatment. The exercises will strengthen my muscles and that should keep my neck and back in place.
I'm enjoying the fall weather, haven't turned on the heat yet, but it's almost time for that. It does mean a change in diet. Out with the soda pop and stock up on milk. It's time for oatmeal in the morning, not just toast.
I still don't have my computer completely set up yet. No sound. Everytime I have to reconnect the computer, I get something wrong and there is no sound! Grrr. I lost thousands of songs I had on my C Drive. Most of them came from my CDs, like the Time-Life "Your Hit Parade" series from the 1940s and 50s, Big Band music and the really OLD Country/Westerns, also from the 40s. A few that I lost came from downloads, like T Texas Tyler singing "Remember Me." I might have it on a CD somewhere if I look hard enough. It takes a lot of time to upload them all.
The other day in a weak moment, I called the 800 number and ordered Time-Life's "Oldies But Goodies." They are the early Rock 'N Roll songs from the 1950s. Guess I am finally moving along, music wise.