Friday, December 26, 2008

. . . on Christmas Day in the mornin'

Start the music (click in the center on the arrow) and it will play as you read and scroll through the pictures below. It's one of the songs we sang around the dinner table after the meal (while the 2 'grown-up' boys of the king got an attack of the giggles - grin!)

Christmas Day has come and gone already - but what a day it was!

The early morning sun before the day really got going was spectacular. The light was green and golden.

Here's just an assortment of pictures of some of the characters who assembled at the Greenwood.

Luther is missing his tartan bowtie, by the way, in case anyone comes across it.

For those of you visiting from A Simple Yarn, yes, every houndstooth scarf you see is part of the wonderful stash we commissioned from Cheryl. . . .

See how perfect?

Here's a close-up of the one for my brother.
Now, more people:

On Christmas Day in the mornin'. . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

not your basic black

Anyone who knows me knows that I tend toward the sartorial basic black. The doctoral robe, I thought, would be right up my alley (namely 'basic black'), and a coloured hood is certainly acceptable, sort of like my usual coloured scarf.

You may imagine my surprise to be presented with a very brightly coloured doctoral gown.*

Red and yellow. [gold?] It could stop traffic.The hood is a little scary. . . . Check out the side view!

It looks like I've donned a pair of very bright trousers. Lovely.

But the doctoral hand-off is accomplished and attesting latin certificate borne away in triumph. . . . celebratis plenum ac perfectum Doctoratus In Philosophia. . . .Mission accomplished. After all these years.

Now what? Ah - still making it up as I go along.

*Fellow post-grad "A" calls it the McDonald's Robe. . . . an unfortunate - but apt - description.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

deerhounds on parade

Today was old-home weekend - and Luther saw some old friends and family.

Mom?! Is that you?!!!!

Here's Luther and his brother. Remember greenboy? Here they are: blueboy and greenboy, together again.
Remember what they looked like as little guys? As above, Luther's on the left. . . .
We lined up for the Scottish Rites Parade in Old Town Alexandria. I've never seen so many deerhounds in one place! Here are just a few. . .
It was a long, long day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving. Serious lack of visuals

Sorry. This is the only shot I got of Thanksgiving. To set the scene: It's O-dark-thirty, and the king has just finished making the stuffing and stuffing the turkey.

I took one shot, just to warm up a bit before documenting the 29 lb. bird going into the oven.

It's the only shot I got before the batteries gave out. Someone forgot to re-charge them. . . . [OK, OK. I confess.]

Last year, Luther wasn't born and we were still in the rental closet. We managed to pull off a nice-sized turkey dinner, though! As I recall, there were pictures.

This year, Luther is here - hugely so - and the bird is bigger, too. We were expecting 21 for dinner - ended up with 18 - and I was determined to try brining the turkey this year, hoping to keep the white meat moist. A friend of ours gave me the recipe last year, but I couldn't find a large enough vessel to contain a submerged turkey, let alone keep it refrigerated, to try it last year.

This year, thanks to the unheated studio with work sink, I was all set. All I had to do was heat pot after pot of water hot enough to dissolve the salt and brown sugar, steep the herbs, and then trot it across the courtyard to be dumped into the sink. Then add turkey and additional cold water to cover, and leave him alone for 12 hours! The king awoke at 3 a.m., made the stuffing, retrieved the bird, and got him all ready and trussed for the oven.

Which brings us back to where I started this post: the turkey ready to go in the oven. The turkey turned out great. Maybe one of our guests has pictures? If so, maybe we can get a little ex post facto posting. . . .

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a lovely day at the greenwood. A week or so ago, we had our first fire in the fireplace.
[note scrupulously clean firebrick]

Now, although this is not a picture of Thanksgiving day, this is just what it looked like, after the feast!
Yes, it's Luther's favorite spot, whenever there's a fire lit. It's part of being a deerhound, I think. Whenever someone doesn't know what a deerhound looks like, I always tell them it's the kind of dog you see lounging by the fire in every knights-at-arms movie ever made. They always know the kind of dog I mean. Luther fits the mold precisely.

What are we thankful for this year? Family, for sure. Friends and family, and our 'livestock' - wee Luther - and all the amazing critters we have all around us here at the Greenwood. The economy may be in recession, and our government talking about spending money in amounts I can't even comprehend as "bail out", and life as we thought we knew it may well be gone for good, but God is good - and faithful - and I think it's high time we stop focussing on things and acquiring ever more, Instead, we're looking around us and seeing the wonder and joy of everything we already have - and the love and joy of our friends and family.

May that same blessing be yours this season of Thanksgiving, and may it spill out onto all of us here in these United States. Please, may the madness stop. Let us slow down; love; laugh; spend time together.

Monday, November 24, 2008

new word; new lips

Who needs lip injections when you live with a rambunctious deerhound?

Much as I love Katherine [Marg Helgenberger] of CSI fame, her lips just look funny these days. I had assumed she was 'plumping up' with some sort of injection. But who knows, maybe she got a deerhound!

Luther gave me a similar look this morning.

Here's the formula: one ball, one rambunctious deerhound, and one owner reaching down for the ball at the same time rambunctious deerhound is delivering the coup de grâce to said ball. [The coup de grâce, by the way, consists of rearing up and then landing - stiff-legged - on the object in question].

Position human and hound head in close proximity just before the rear-up, and - voilà! - fat lips.

It was easily and neatly done, at no expense. No muss; no fuss; no needles. Argal*, Marg must have a rambunctious deerhound in her life. You see, this is a whole lot easier than plastic surgery, not to mention less embarrassing to explain.

It hurts, though.

What's that quote about pain and beauty?
"The pain passes, the beauty remains."
[attributed to Pierre Auguste Renoir]

Here's hoping those lips don't remain. . . .

*the new word, of course.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

four hundred twenty blackbirds

. . . . baked in a pie?

No. But several hundred blackbirds filling the sky!They swirl through the trees like smoke. Then, in an instant, gone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

another day; another photo shoot. . . .

My friend Cheryl at A Simple Yarn has posted pictures of a gorgeous scarf she's been unable to photograph.

Yes. You read that right. She explains all, here.

What I find interesting is that she could so clearly see the colour combinations that showed a lovely zing with my colouring, ever-graying hair, Corinthian Gray granite and the brilliant red, white and black of the scarf. On the day in question, I felt like the worst kind of wash-out. . . . I guess it just goes to show that you can't really tell. Sometimes you just have to go for it, no matter how you feel!

Or, maybe you just need a talented photog, like her talented photog hubby. He's taken other photos of me that are way prettier than I really am. I like that in a photographer.

Anyway, here's the non-photo of me wearing the unphotographable scarf.

She's opened a shop at Etsy, online, by the way, for those of you who [like me] like her work! Whether or not this particular scarf ever makes it to the shop. . . . [Hey - send her an email if you don't see this one online!]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Five? Did I say five?!

More like twenty-five. The venue is growing.

More, arriving.

They're gone now. Perhaps this is their morning roll-call before they head out to take care of . . . . well, to head out, let's just say. The king has taken to calling their tree the Gallow's Oak. It sits at the top of Blind Man's curve. This is all very Edward Gorey-ish. You remember him, don't you? Of the PBS Mystery fame.

Very macabre indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

a venue of. . . .

. . . vultures.


We did see what we're calling a wild turkey the other day, so you can easily imagine how I felt when I found the wild turkey tree, right where neighbors have reported a wild turkey crossing, towards the front of the Greenwood. Cool! Wild turkeys are very friendly feeling around Thanksgiving time. There they were, five of them, all perched comfortably in a big old snag tree, big dark blobs against the sky.

"I didn't know turkeys roosted so high off the ground." I said. "Or roosted communally like that." the king added. We trained binoculars on our subjects.

"Hmm. That doesn't really look like a turkey beak." the king said. I looked through the binoculars.

"Nope, it doesn't." I pulled out the North American Birds reference book. Where to start? Wild turkeys, hawks, eagles, they were all in the same section. Well that makes it easier! These are all big birds. But what kind? I flipped through the pages, and stopped. I looked at the picture; looked at the birds; checked the habitat range and size. It all fit.

"Great." I said. "There are vultures perched in that tree. Figures. I guess every stone tower needs a vulture."

Well, we've got five of 'em. Black vultures. Roosting, that's a venue of vultures. Soaring, we've got a kettle of them.

Somehow that adds an element I wasn't quite counting on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

notes from Leuven

That's where I am.


At least one person admitted to me that s/he had no idea where Leuven was. For the rest of you who don't know - whether or not you'll admit it: it's in Belgium. It's gorgeous. A very cool town - a university town that does not appear to share the sheer excess of whatever-it-is that students seem to imbibe so much of in so many other university towns.

Granted, there's a fair amount of bier trinken that goes on (this very town is the home of Stella Artois, after all), but there's also a goodly amount of serious attention to scholarly matters. Not to mention evidence of attention to some serious building and design projects over the years: you should see the Town Hall!

My favorite is Fonske - a statue of a gnomish student reading and pouring a glass of liquid into his head. I understand his full name is Fons Sapientiae, Latin for "fountain of wisdom", but I'll just bet you that that's beer we're talkin' about, here. . . .

All right, all right. I don't have a camera with me, but here's a picture of him I snagged off the internet.

Here's a close-up of the lad.What do you think - bier? or wisdom?

In any event, he's very cool.

This, from a country that also has one Mannequin Pis. But that's another story. (By the way, that's the Town Hall in the background of the first Fonske picture - oops, no it isn't! That's the Cathedral. I'll see if I can't find a picture of the Town Hall, which stands just next to the Cathedral, for next time. If you don't want to wait, click on the Leuven link above. As I recall, there is a picture of the Town Hall there, on Wikipedia.)

Till next time!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

mail call

Walking to the mail box is a big deal these days. Luther likes it. (Run! Leap! Play!) The king likes it (unless all we get in the mailbox is junkmail or bills). I like it ('cause it's pretty).

And I like to get mail.

Please send mail.

laird Luther a'leaping

You have no idea what this guy looks like, running 'balls-out' . . . .

It is an amazing sight.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Last seen strolling out the front door of the tower, confidently [or obliviously] ignoring importunings to return inside.


Well, we knew she'd have to begin the outdoor exploration sometime. We would have delayed exploration for a few days more, but just hope she makes it back. She's been gone, now, a full 24 hours.

I try not to think about the red fox we saw - two days ago - trotting across our front pasture.

I try not to think about the possibility that she may not come home.

I try not to think about whether it is better to find her little body or to never know whether she made her way to another home, or is hungry, cold, frightened. . . .

Right. We're not thinking about that. Remember?

Come home Pookie. Even Luther misses you - alright, we know Luther misses you - but even we [could be said to] miss the crazy going's on of the daily hiss-bat-and-bark evening show. After a fashion.

sigh. There's no easy exit to life, is there? Even for a 16-year old cat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

light and boxes

The early morning sun at the front of the house is really beautiful.Maybe if I keep my eyes on the light, I'll be able to overlook the many boxes still littering the inside landscape.
Then again, maybe not. When the sun gets over those trees, it's downright bright! I retreat towards the back of the house.

Where the boxes are.

Not a pretty sight. Let's look at the sun a little longer, before it pops over the trees.
Classic avoidance technique? Or admirable attitude of gratitude and appreciation of gratuitous beauty? You decide. I already have.

Monday, September 22, 2008

moving days

It's hard to believe that this day has finally come. This morning, the vans arrived.Much paper rustling, cardboard-boxing, taping and sharpie-pen-marking ensued. They were gone by noon. That's because I - queenie - packed up all my books, all by myself! ha!

We're still in dispute over whether or not the books will fill the bookshelves. This oughta be interesting.

Anyway, next stop - day after tomorrow - the greenwood.
I can hardly wait. Funny thing: one of the guys on the moving crew asked if we were moving to a bigger house. "Not really." I said. "It's actually a little smaller. Sort of. Well. . . it's one bedroom. On one level. But bigger rooms. So - sort of smaller, but bigger. Sort of."

He was done with the conversation a whole lot sooner than I was. We're moving to a strange house that's smaller - but somehow bigger. Sort of. It's hard to explain.

Friday, September 19, 2008

pretty close!

For the first time in three years we have a "land line." Cool phone, eh? The receiver is heavy enough to break your toe if you drop it. It could easily figure as a weapon in the boardgame, "Clue":

"Mr. Mustard did it in the Forest Room with the telephone."

One of my favorite places is the inner courtyard, seen above from the guesthouse. It looks like my brother - just back from Afghanistan - will be our first overnight guest, the first weekend we're in the place. He and his family.

That's a good start. We pack this weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

other first things

The first gift-plant to arrive, from girlfriend Cindy. It's a camelia, and has languished all summer in its nursery pot, on the front steps of our rental house. I've been afraid to trust it to the workboot-clad workers out at the greenwood, not to mention the ubiquitous little front-end loader & earth mover.

With the arrival of the gravel for the courtyard, however, it seems most of the tough work outside is done. Now my tough work begins: where to plant the thing?!

Several attempts to dent the ground in what will be the front garden failed. That soil is going to need serious rehabilitation!

Plan E: something's got to screen that ugly electrical transformer. . . .

The soil is rather nice.
It'll take him several years - no doubt - but the anticipated 6 foot height and 3 foot spread should nicely obscure that ugly box. Eventually.First plant in.*

woo hoo!

[p.s. - I just got notice that the second gift plant[s] - hundreds of daffodil bulbs from the queen-mum - have been shipped. The gift certificate arrived months ago, "to be shipped at the proper fall time for planting." It's been hard to wait. Harder - still - to imagine planting them all! I'm going to do a Tom Sawyer, though, and get all my friends to help me. . . . Should be fun! Especially since we'll be working in the edge of the forest line, where the soil should still be relatively unscathed from the construction debris and hardpack. I don't know how I'm going to make a dent in the soil that is to be my garden. ]
*not counting the temporary holding garden Steve put in for me a couple of weeks ago, of course. . . . All those guys are going to need to go into their permanent spots at some point as well! (First, though, I'll have to figure out how to break up that garden soil, not to mention turn it into something I think a plant might have half a chance in. )

neither rain, nor snow. . . .

. . . nor dark of night. . . . but apparently construction mud & mire will stop the postal workers in their tracks. So! This is another big step: the mail box.I wonder what the first mail delivery will consist of?

Junk mail, no doubt. But hey. A girl can hope!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

hurry up and wait

Well, some things are moving along, I guess. . . .
The painters finally finished up inside, so Tom-builder's cleaning crew has started ridding the place of the construction grime. It's amazing to be able to look out of the windows!

The library shelves have been stained - still need a final coat of sealant - and really look cool. It's beginning to look like a library! Well, as soon as we get books in there, anyway. We have a running bet as to whether or not we'll even come close to filling these things. I think yes; the king thinks no. . . .

Next up: the kitchen. It's coming together.