Friday, October 28, 2011


It's coffee time again and we are here to bare our souls...sort of...

We are asked to "please tell about 10 things you HAVE done" (as opposed to the things we haven't done, which was the request last week).  So here goes...

1.  I have given a 5 minute speech before 3,000 people --  and it had to be memorized word for word.  (I think that was the worst part.) I was so nervous I almost blacked out before we entered the arena. Seriously.

2.  I have cuddled a real live koala bear.  Apologies to my blogging friends who have heard this before but it is a highlight  in my life.

3. I have been behind Niagara Falls in Canada; literally, in a tunnel behind the falls which had open windows like large holes with the water roaring past.  If you get the chance, do it.  It's worth it.  We did this in the sixties, so I expect it costs the earth today.  Great experience though!

4.  I have volunteered  at an animal shelter for a year as a 'cat cuddler'.  It was a wonderful experience and I would still be doing it today if I hadn't discovered some physical disabilities that made it unsafe for me.

5.  I have visited the most southerly point of the Americas, the very tip of Cape Horn, as well as the most southerly city, Ushaia, and the island of Tierra Del Fuego.  These were places I learned about in school as a child and never dreamed I would actually visit.  What a privilege!

6.  I have written about a dozen magazine articles for publication and been paid for them (!), not to mention numerous letters to the editor.  I've given up doing the latter.  The letters have become too politically correct or just plain 3rd rate.  I don't even read the Letters to the Editor page any more.

7.  I learned New Testament Greek (forgotten most of it now, except for certain grammatical constructions) and I would have learned Hebrew but my classes clashed on the schedule.  I also learned French for seven years, German for 2 years and Latin  for a year.  I love languages and I SO wish I had learned Spanish.  Short term memory  problems prevent me from learning it formally today but I'm still picking up bits and pieces. Of all the languages German was the easiest for me.

8. I have  knitted several sweaters and a jacket, all good enough to wear frequently.  I have also crocheted five afghans.

9.  I once caught a lady red-handed stealing my purse.   I didn't call security, or hold her at all.  I was too young  and naive to do anything except shout, "Hey, you've got my purse!"  I grabbed it and she took off.  I was just too shocked to think someone would do such a thing.  No street smarts in my younger years -- the 60's.

10. I have about 100 paintings  that I have created in the past 5 years (mostly water colors and mostly less than 8.5 x 11 inches).


We have also been asked to give a recipe -- 'something fallish'.

As I've said before, cooking is not my thing -- but candy is!  At this time of the year Cinder Toffee is a great favorite in England -- Bonfire Night being its inspiration.  If you don't know what Bonfire Night is, please Google it and since I don't have a recipe for cinder toffee you may have to Google that too.

More importantly, I would like to make a deal with Tapestry of Life.  I know a lot of bloggers like to cook and  recipes will probably be a popular item on this meme.  So for the sake of my self-esteem, I propose that all participants continue to post recipes when asked and I be given the special  dispensation of being allowed to post one of my medallions instead,  especially since medallion is a food word...please?  ...pretty please? :)  :) ...only when a recipe is asked for, and I'm not trying to sell them!

For more contributions to COFFEE KLATCH FRIDAY please click on the button above.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011



ORNERY is a word that for me seems typically American in usage.  I have no idea why. I just don’t remember anyone using that word when I lived in England.  Maybe it hadn’t come into fashion back then.  But I like to use the word.  I think it is quite descriptive.  I looked up its derivation and found it interesting and actually more British in its connotation than I thought.
The word ORNERY means cantankerous.  (I like that word too.) Another good synonym for it would be ‘grumpy’…. Ah, now we all know what I am talking about.

But the derivation of the word is unexpected.  It actually comes from the word ‘ordinary’, according to Wikipedia. So what does ‘ordinary’ have to do with ‘grumpy’?

Apparently ‘ordinary’ is associated with the word ‘gentile’, (no, not Gentile as opposed to Jewish, but jenteel as in the French) also spelled genteel in the US. So in the day when it was first used, a mother might say to her child, “Don’t be ordinary”, as opposed to “Behave in a more genteel way and don’t be ‘ordinary’”.

The British might use the word ‘common’ as in “The King is not allowed to marry a commoner”, that is, someone who is ordinary or not born into the aristocracy.  Eventually, to be a commoner became recognized as being someone of the unpleasant lower classes.  (Please, that is not my opinion, I’m just trying to explain.) So today the British might describe someone as “dead common” which is a common (frequently used) phrase, although I don’t know why the word ‘dead’ is used here!   So eventually the word evolved from ‘ordinary’ to ‘ornery’ meaning ‘common’, then to something that is not in good taste, then evolving to mean something unpleasant and/or obstinate, and now today, ’grumpy’ – or ‘cantankerous’.

I was going to get into the derivation of ‘cantankerous’ and ‘grumpy’ but trying to explain the above and having come across some explanations of some phrases which could be described as ‘dead common’ I think I’ll stop while the going is good. I will simply add that there are some common phrases which I came across that I thought were in perfectly good taste which I will never use again after researching this post!

This post is part of Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC WEDNESDAY project.  Please click on the link to see more contributions.  I assure you none of us are ornery and we won't bite.  In fact we will be thrilled if you just leave a comment to say that you have visited.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Coffee Klatch Friday October 21st

So here we are again, meeting for coffee with our other blogging friends and  sharing our hidden secrets.

This week we are to tell ten random things we have never done.  Mine tend to fall into two categories:   Things I wish I had done but haven't, and things I haven't done and I have no idea why.

1.  I have never petted a real live lion or tiger and I really wish I had.  It may not be too late for that, but I have looked into it.

2.  I never learned to swim and I wish I had.  Sometimes I dream that I'm swimming and it feels wonderful.  But I just couldn't put my head under water without panicking and now I have vertigo on and off that even standing in water makes me dizzy.(But I can still enjoy the jaccuzzi).

3.  I've never been on a canal boat vacation and I wish I had because I think I would really enjoy being out in the fresh air and on the water surrounded by the British countryside.

4. I would love to have raised and trained one of those Canine Companions dogs!  Can't do that now, they're too big and heavy for me, but they are wonderful creatures.

5.  This is one of those in between things.  I have never held a snake.  I probably would if I were put on the spot because I don't greatly dislike them (not as much as spiders or roaches).  I have had plenty of opportunity to hold them as my sons kept snakes as pets for quite a number of years, but it's not something I would necessarily choose to do.

6.  Here's a weird one in the "I have no idea why"  category.  I have never worn blue jeans.  I must be the only person in the US to be able to say that.  I do wear jeans, just not blue jeans or denims.

7.  I have never been to Washington DC.  I've seen so much of it on TV that if I were given the choice I would probably opt for a city like Vienna or St. Petersburg instead.  But above all I would rather visit the Tyrol in northern Italy. I'm not big on cities.

8.  I have never had a manicure -- or a pedicure.  It's just one of those things that has never occurred to me.

9. I have never slept outside in the snow in a sleeping bag.  My youngest son has, but it's not something I would do!

10.  I have never smoked a cigarette.  My mother smoked heavily when I was younger and I hated the tobacco smoke in my face.  So I was never even tempted to smoke.

In addition to the ten things above, we have been asked to share what we do to prepare for the coming cold weather.
Well, we don't do much because our cold weather is not very cold.  We might check the gutters but since not a lot of our trees shed their leaves, that isn't a big job. My husband will check the furnace and probably change the filter. I will perhaps take a walk around the back yard to see if there is anything we have left out that might be affected by rain, because we get next to no rain from April to October.  I also will check through my light sweaters or jackets to see that they are still in good condition.  I don't own a coat.
And that's about it.

Join us by clicking on the button below.  The more the merrier. Come and hear other people's hidden secrets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



The Nene, Kauai

Oh I'm sure someone has already used this before in ABC Wednesday, but it's just very much in my head right now.  Why?  Because in a little over a month I will be seeing them in the flesh  -- 'feathers' actually. Although I have become very much a homebody ( yes, I actually get homesick!) I feel the need for a change of scenery though I suspect that two weeks will be more than I want.

                                                                    THE NENE
The Nene looks very much like the Canada Goose and certainly they have the same roots.  Unfortunately the Canada Goose is not very popular in a lot of places because they have become so numerous that they are almost a pest. This is the Canada Goose:


See the difference in their neck coloring.

Unlike the proliferation of the Canada Goose, the Nene, which is Hawaii's national bird, can now only be found on four of the Hawaian Islands, Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kauai and Molokai.  You can see a fair number of Nenes at Kilauea Point where the lighthouse is on Kauai.  That's the lighthouse in the distance in the second photo from the top.  There are other interesting birds to be seen up there too, such as the Tropic Bird, the Booby and Albatross. (Don't think those are supposed to be capitalized, as with the names of flowers, but I can never remember and somehow I think they should be. Hey, if e.e. cummings  can mess with capitals, I guess I can).

To see more of Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday's entrants click on this LINK.  Now to find something for O!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coffee Klatch Friday Oct. 14th

Today is the second Friday of Vicki's (Tapestry of Life) Coffee Klatch Friday.  She gives us a few prompts to get us started.  Here are my responses.

First Question:  What  did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a pilot.  When I was about ten years old I had the opportunity to take a flight in a small airplane -- probably a n Auster (You were right Snafu, I just couldn't remember the name).  I was so excited.  I even had the chance to fly it by holding the joystick and keeping the plane's nose on the horizon.  But by the time I was ready to leave school I sort of fell into teaching.  Which is probably a good thing because I discovered I liked it, and according to my my college records I was quite good at it.

This was my exciting, big day.  I am on the left, with my brother and cousin.

Second question:  What do you love about what you do?

I once had a student in third grade who had three older brothers and sisters who were extremely bright.  Unfortunately, Rodney could not read.  I decided to try and help him and so took him out of class every day for extra reading help.  We started by getting him a book  that interested him instead of using just an ordinary reader.  We chose "Willie, the Wrong Way Whale".  Rodney loved it!  In a few weeks we were able to call his mother in and Rodney read the book to her from start to finish.  I will never forget the look on his face as he said with a deep sigh, "Oh, Mrs. Jones!  I thought I would NEVER learn to read". Teaching can be tough, but the rewards are often remarkable.

We were also asked to please share a couple of photos of where we live that show what it is like now at this time of year.

As my husband likes to say, we don't have weather, we have climate.  Sometimes I Have to remind myself what time of year it is.  But there are a couple of things that happen at this time of year around here.  Even when the weather is gorgeous we sometimes get some really heavy ocean swells.  They are caused by storms off New Zealand and the waves roll all the way to Southern California. The surfers love it!

This time of year is also wildfire season.  This is when the winds turn from the ocean and blow from the east -- the desert.  The humidity drops rapidly and the bush and chaparral become like a tinder box.  It is a dangerous and anxious time for those who live outside of town.
This photo was taken from our back yard in 2007.  It was a bad season.  Many homes were lost.

Last week we had our first winter 'storm' of the season.  Much earlier than usual.   The rain poured down and the wind blew.  We received half an inch of rain and a couple of trees blew down -- one fell on the mailman's van. Thankfully he was unhurt. The next day the weather was gorgeous again.  So typical of our winter storms, only they usually last about three days, before blowing on across the country. 
This was the rain pouring off our roof last week. It was actually quite fun since we rarely get any rain between April and October.

For more day to day happenings in Coffee Klatch Friday, please click on the button below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


M  IS FOR...
Last year we were fortunate enough to be able to take a cruise from San Diego down to Peru. The really neat thing about it was that we got to see a number of animals in the wild.  We had seen them in zoos, of course, but not actually wild.  We took a side trip back into the jungle where we saw crocodiles, sloths, toucans, iguanas and MONKEYS.  Capuchin monkeys to be exact.  A local family left watermelon out for them and they sure seemed to enjoy it!

This trip also incorporated several shore stops in MEXICO where we frequented MARKETS...

and listened to MARIACHI bands.... 

                                                                                            Credit to Wikipedia

Sadly, most cruise ships are no longer stopping in Mexico and several other central America countries because it is just too dangerous.  The drug cartels have taken over a lot of areas and the extreme violence involved in their turf wars as well as other things means that the country is losing much of its tourist trade.  We were fortunate to visit before conditions became so bad.  We were, of course, aware of the armed guards that were ever present and accompanied our buses and ship while in shore. Living so close to the border we are well acquainted with the problems.  It is such a shame because Mexico has much to offer the world. We have a Mexican church which meets on our church premises and the Mexicans I know are wonderful people.

Please visit some of our other bloggers who participate in ABC WEDNESDAY by clicking on the link.  This is the ninth round and fifth year of this project, thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her trusty team.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Working Donkeys

This post is for Dina of Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo.  She has worked with donkey rehabilitation.  When I told her about the Flamborough donkeys the fishermen used to haul the fish up the cliffs she expressed a wish to see a photographs.  Well I have a couple, (as I have of just about anything to do with Flamborough!)
So here they are:
These baskets are full of crabs from the North Landing.  This photo was probably taken about the early 1940's.

This photo shows the gathering of sea birds' eggs, which was outlawed in 1953.  The fishermen went over the cliffs (about 3-400 ft. high) gathering the eggs.  It was dangerous to say the least, but the eggs were very popular and for the fishermen just another way of keeping food on the table when fishing was bad.   The fishermen really believed that the gulls were like chickens and would just keep on laying eggs ready for collecting.  I read this fact in one of my many books on the history of Flamborough.  It was a direct quote from one of the old fishermen. This photo was also taken around the 1940's.

I have another photo somewhere of the baskets full of fish. I used it as a basis for a painting I did and now I can't find it. I'm sure it's not very far away.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


So here I am at Coffee Klatch Friday. They want me to tell them a little about myself. A good brief introduction would be for you to visit my profile on my blog, Flamblogger. If you visit me often you probably know enough about me, but for the sake of my other Coffee Klatchers, to my profile I would add that I am  great animal lover -- getting worse as I get older. I am still majorly obsessed with my new cat "Scruffy" whom we rescued five months ago.  He is eight years old and just a sweet, sweet cat. If he wants your attention he will come quietly up to you and put one paw out to touch your arm and then give you a little kiss (warm tongue).  I melt every time.  

Other things that are important to know about me are that I have been a pastor's wife for more than 50 years and truly loved every moment of it, but I don't think I fit the usual profile of a Pastor's wife. (I don't sing and I don't play the piano.  Nor am I what you might think of as a homebody, who loves to cook and entertain). However, I do love to teach my Ladies Bible Study. We share what we are learning from God's Word on how to live as a Christian in this very mixed up world. I love to draw and paint.  I also love to write and especially love to read a well written story, usually it ends up being one of the classics.

I live in Southern California in a beautiful, small town on the coast.  I have lived here for 38 years and love it here mainly because of the climate, the birds and the flowers, and now we have so many friends too, so it is definitely home for us.  Our boys were 3 and 6 years old when we came here and are now in their forties, so you see life for our family has been centered in Carlsbad and in our church. We are now retired but still attend our church  where my husband was pastor for 28 years.  They are family.

What do I not like about where I live?  Mainly that it is so far away from England which I still love, and where we have many wonderful friends (and I'm making even more English friends through Blogland).  I especially miss Yorkshire and Derbyshire -- and of course Flamborough. I don't travel well any more so although I have been back many times, I'm not sure if and when I will get back again.  

Some less obvious or perhaps more unusual things about me are:
   1.  I have done a lot of public speaking.
   2.  I am a bit of a loner.  Sitting on my own on the Flamborough cliffs would be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
   3.  My favorite music would be The King's Singers (British a capella sextet), Simon and Garfunkel, Abba  and yes -- the Mommas and Poppas.
   4.  Things I do not like are fantasy or science fiction, talking above the radio or TV, panic attacks - I have them occasionally, housework- - but I do not like a cluttered untidy house either.  
   5.  Things I really like -- real fresh cream and most dairy products, sitting on my patio, NCIS (TV show) and of course chocolate.

 And that is quite enough about me!

NOW, WHAT HAVE I BROUGHT TO HAVE WITH OUR COFFEE ? (Mine would be tea please) and I've already told you that I don't like to bake, but I have brought what I LOVE to have with my cup of tea every afternoon:

Click on the button below.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The Listeners
         By Walter de la Mare

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest's ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Do you remember this poem from your high school days? I love it because of its descriptive phrases -- lines that truly conjure up a picture that could be painted.

But it's not just the pictures you can see, even more so it is the sounds, or lack of them, that create the mystery. There is the knocking on the door, the horse champing the grasses, the loud fluttering of the bird disturbed by the knocking and the shouted words. In contrast, see the lonely Traveler and hear the silence from within the lonely house -- the house which had "phantom listeners" who stood thronging the dark stairs and the empty hall. Such a contrast was there that the air was stirred and shaken -- truly the Sound of Silence.

Yet the strange stillness was disturbed by the soft sound of his horse moving to crop more grass; such a soft sound as would be largely unheard in a normal moment, but this slight movement contrasts harshly with the next even louder shouting of the Traveler as he not just knocks, but smites the door.

Now comes the heart of the mystery. What do his words mean? To whom is he speaking? The "phantom listeners"... who are they? The Traveler had made a promise to someone. He kept his side of the bargain by coming; but "no one answered". There is some satisfaction in the fact that he kept his word, but his words echoed through the stillness of the house.

The silence returns. Perhaps unnerved, unsatisfied, the Traveler leaves and they heard him go. His retreat shatters the silence again as his horse takes off at a gallop sparking like flint on the stone, leaving behind him the softly, surging silence. A silence that seems to grow and will go on forever because there is no answer; no answer from the Listeners and no answer from the poet.

The poet calls the poem "The Listeners" yet its content seems to be more about the Traveler. So perhaps we could find some explanation by concentrating on who the Listeners were.

Perhaps they represent the souls of a woodsman and his family who one day saved the life of a wounded soldier by hiding him in their cottage. They take their life in their hands knowing that the enemy will find them sooner or later. Yet they keep the soldier until he is able to move again. The soldier, gravely in their debt, knows the danger he has put them in. But before he departs he rashly promises to return with help for his rescuers.

He has no way of knowing that his wounds would overcome him once more and that his own army would find him and hospitalize him until he is well enough to move again.

When he is released, he returns to the lonely cottage deep in the woods, but he is too late. They are gone -- willingly or by force. He has no way of knowing. He kept his word, but it was not enough.

The above is my contribution for  "L" day in ABC WEDNESDAY.  For more interesting, informative, exciting and educational entries please click on the link above .  Kudos to Mrs. Nesbitt and her team  for continuing this theme into its fifth year and ninth round.