Random Five Friday

The last Random Five Friday before Christmas. Has the year gone by as quickly for you as it has for me?  -sigh-  Here’s a little randomness:

1.) The juvenile mute swan visited again earlier this week.  And, along with her this time was Bride Swan.  If the younger one is going to be a regular here, I guess I need to name him/her.  And I’m hoping he/she learns some manners soon: he/she wasn’t sharing the bread too well that day with Bride Swan. And perhaps I need to research whether it’s possible to determine swan gender?

bride and new swan 12-16-2014 8-24-16 AM

2.) Also visiting this week was my niece and her son, Jase.  Have I mentioned that he’s my great great nephew? And we took a selfie!

jase and db 12-15-2014 2-14-40 PM

3.) Sundae had a visitor this week, too. Well, sort of.

sundae and bird 12-14-2014 8-06-03 AM

4.) Motor Man and I visited Santa this week. Sort of.

dbjrsanta 12-12-2014 8-57-16 PM

 5.) And the seemingly obligatory Friday marina photo – taken before sunrise on Monday.

marina 12-15-2014 6-32-03 AM

Happy weekend! Will it be a relaxing one for you or hectic with last minute preparations?

~These Days Of Mine~

I’m Sharing A Recipe…


(For those of you who don’t personally know me, let me share with you that I rarely cook, so the idea of me sharing a recipe is rather humorous.)

Today’s post is a combination: I’m participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop:

2. Share a favorite holiday inspired recipe!

…and this is also my entry for the “Bake-a-thon” over at Sheryl’s blog “A Hundred Years Ago Today”.  For the past few years, Sheryl has shared her grandmother’s diary (written in 1911-1914) each day, but that diary comes to an end on December 31. Sheryl’s readers are sharing favorite family recipes as a way of honoring her grandmother and bidding farewell to the diary.

We didn’t often have desserts when I was a child, too tempting for my mom to have sweets in the house, I imagine. She would make peanut butter cookies occasionally, and sometimes, she would bake this Applesauce Cake.  The recipe was included in a cookbook published by the young womens’ group at our church in 1984.

cookbook 12-16-2014 8-19-41 PM

Applesauce Cake

Sift together in a large bowl:
1 3/4 cup sifted cake flour or all purpose flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c shortening
1 c sweetened applesauce
Mix enough to dampen flour. Beat 2 minutes. If by hand, count beating time only. With electric mixer, use low speed, scrape bowl often, scrape beaters after 2 minutes.

1 egg
1/2 c chopped raisins*
1/2 c chopped nuts
Beat 1 minute, bake in greased 8 inch square pan, lined with plain paper, in moderate oven (375 F) about 50 minutes**. Cool.

When my mom was in the convalescent center in the late 1980’s, I began baking this recipe during the Christmas season. Rather than using a square cake pan, however, I would use four mini loaf pans. Then I’d wrap the loaves in plastic wrap, tie with red or green ribbons and give them to the nurses and nursing assistants at the home.

*I omit the raisins, just because I don’t care for them.
**If using mini loaf pans, reduce baking time to 30-40 minutes.

applesauce cakes 12-17-2014 6-45-26 PM

Most everyone has a special treat they prepare during the Christmas holiday…what’s yours?


Mama’s Losin’ It

~These Days Of Mine~

A Picture To Melt My Heart

It’s been a long time since a picture has touched me the way this one does that I’m sharing today.

Yesterday, Gypsy had an appointment with the vet: it was a routine check-up, and her distemper and rabies shots were due.  Motor Man said that he’d go with me to take her.

Gypsy could NOT have been any better. She only meowed once on the trip to the vet (it’s about a mile). We had to wait for about 20 minutes once we got to the office, but she never made a sound. Once in the examining room, she didn’t fight or cry or squirm to get away.

The vet and assistant left the room to check the results of a test, and we weren’t sure if they were finished with Gypsy’s exam. I was standing by the examining table, rubbing her and talking to her. She wasn’t quivering, but we could tell she was apprehensive.

jrgypsy2a 12-16-2014 9-30-12 AM

Motor Man reached over and picked her up and cradled her in his arms. She was perfectly content there until the vet came in and said we were good to go.

I know some guys don’t care much for cats. When I was a child, our neighbor and landlord (an older man) once said to me: “I never found much for a cat to do”.

But Motor Man and Gypsy have definitely bonded, and it’s so obvious how safe and loved she feels with him.  (Hey, Gyp-Gyp, I know the feeling.)

~These Days Of Mine~

More Christmas Music Memories

Continuing with yesterday’s topic regarding the memories Christmas music has made through my life:

During my twenties and thirties, I was the pianist for our church, and my dear friend, Janet, was (and still is) the organist. Every year, during one of the worship services in the Christmas season, we would play “O, Holy Night” in unison during the collection of the offering.  That’s a special memory that comes to mind now nearly every time I hear that beautiful old hymn.

During that same “era”, a group from our church went Christmas caroling to nearby shut-ins every year. We’d sing a few carols at each home,  and we’d always close with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. These days, when I hear that song, I’m often reminded of those wonderful caroling trips and the folks (no longer with us) that we visited.

Before Marshall was born and during his growing-up years, his dad and I owned the local Ben Franklin store. The holidays were always a super-busy time of year, and the song “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” seemed to have special meaning for us: ‘Take a look at the five-and-ten, glistening once again, with candy canes and silver lanes aglow.’ Although the business closed many years ago, I’m still reminded of those busy Christmas seasons whenever I hear that song.

Smithfield's first Ben Franklin store Photo courtesy of my friend, Debbie

Smithfield’s first Ben Franklin store
Photo courtesy of my friend, Debbie

When Marshall was in middle school, his class, for the school’s Christmas program one year,  sang “We Need A Little Christmas”.  Although I’d always thought that was a snappy little tune, I really learned the words to it that year. Each Christmas since then, I’ve been reminded of his class performing that song.  ‘It hasn’t snowed a single flurry, but  Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry!”

Through the years , our lives may change: different jobs, different houses,  we lose family members and friends along the way, but those old Christmas songs are a constant, there every year, to remind us of times past.

Which Christmas carols remind you of past events in your life?

~These Days Of Mine~

‘Tis The Season…

…to listen to Christmas music. And I’ve been doing that for a few weeks now. One of our local radio stations began playing it before Thanksgiving.

As I was listening a few days ago, I realized that some of those classic Christmas carols have, of course,  been part of my life all through the years…through my childhood….

One of the first Christmas songs I remember hearing as a child was “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer”. And my favorite memory of that song is that of my late brother-in-law teasing me, saying that the song was all wrong: Rudolph’s nose was really blue. When I squealed that it wasn’t blue, he would say that maybe it was green.

dianne and christmas tree

I’ve mentioned before that my sisters were teenagers when I was born, so Elvis was very popular at our house when I was a child. I remember hearing his “Blue Christmas” at a very young age, and wondering why he sang about Christmas being blue. I’d heard of a white Christmas, but not a blue one.

 “Joy To The World” was the first Christmas hymn I ever played in church. It was the night of our Christmas pageant, and I don’t recall why the regular pianist/organist wasn’t there. It was decided that, at the end of the program, the congregration would sing a hymn, and apparently, I was the only person there that could play the piano. I don’t remember how old I was, but I don’t think I was even a teenager yet. I had terrible stage fright, but I loved playing for everyone to sing.

…my teen years…

When I was a teenager, “Snoopy’s Christmas (Snoopy vs The Red Baron) was released. Far from being a Christmas classic to some folks, I guess, it brings back memories of my teen years. My friends and I just thought it was a fun song with a happy ending.

… then the years as a young wife and mother, sharing the excitement of Christmas with a little one and teaching him Christmas songs.

marshall santa 1982

Tomorrow I’ll continue with more Christmas songs and the memories they bring to mind each year when I hear them.

~These Days Of Mine~

Random Five Friday

Happy Friday! Ready for some randomness?

1.) Tonight, our little town hosts the second annual Evening Christmas Craft and Food Market. I missed last year’s, so I’m looking forward to tonight. Plus a few friends are coming to enjoy it with me. At the Christmas Store on Main Street, there will be a special appearance by Donna Strother Deekens, the former Miller & Rhoads Snow Queen, who will be signing copies of her book, “The Real Santa of Miller & Rhoads”.  For those of you not from this area, the Santa at Miller & Rhoads in Richmond was THE REAL Santa.

Marshall with the Snow Queen, 1986

Marshall with the Snow Queen, 1986

I found this quote from an interview with Ms. Deekens: “The children would come up to the Snow Queen first, and she would chat with them and find out their names and put them at ease. [The Snow Queen would relay the child’s name to Santa using a special “connection,” which is still a secret to the general public.] Then Santa would be able to call over the child [by name]…”

Marshall’s first grade class visited the REAL Santa.

marshall and santa 12-11-2014 8-12-24 PM

2.) Speaking of Santa, I saw this picture on the internet yesterday and wanted to share it. The newborn’s name is Scarlett, and she fell asleep just as it was time for her to visit Santa, so he improvised. I’m guessing this Santa loves his job.

santa and scarlet 12-10-2014 8-51-40 PM

3.) Sundae loves her job as Christmas tree inspector.  When we put up our tree this week, she was VERY interested, so much so that a few of the ornaments were soon moved to higher branches.

sundae and ornament 12-9-2014 9-47-09 PM

4.) Once again, I’m using Random Five Friday to convey special birthday wishes. My friend, Linda’s, birthday is tomorrow. Linda and I met in 1997, when I went to work with her. I changed jobs three years later, but our friendship has continued.

lt 2-26-2014 2-06-42 PM

5.) And Sunday is my sister, June’s, birthday. (She’s known me quite a bit longer than Linda has.)

June and her girls

June and her girls

 Christmas happenings and birthdays make for a fun Random Five Friday. Your turn: feel free to share your randomness!

~These Days Of Mine~

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Tuesday, I spent 50 minutes on the phone with a Microsoft tech, attempting to determine why Motor Man’s desktop computer wouldn’t communicate (wirelessly) with a new printer we just purchased. My first mistake was calling Microsoft, other than HP.  I just clicked on the 24/7 helpline icon on Motor Man’s computer.

I had to tell the first tech not to be so upset with me because I couldn’t understand what he was saying, and that I did NOT like his attitude.  He  then connected me with another tech, who was only slightly easier to understand. I gave permission for him to “take over” the computer, and he spent most of the 50 minutes telling me that we had malware, which had taken over the files on our computer, infected files, etc.  He said it was causing our computer to operate at a fraction of its capacity, and that this malware had caused the printer functions to be turned off.

I asked could he fix it, and this is what he said: if he removed what was causing the problems, it would just keep coming back. (Keep in mind that when we purchased the computer, less than a year ago, Best Buy installed Kaspersky anti-virus program on it. I asked the tech why that didn’t prevent this problem. He said that the Kaspersky program was for Windows 8, and our operating system is 8.1.)

I was told that we had the option of taking the computer to a certified Microsoft technician or we could go with online support. I gave him our zip code, and learned that the nearest Microsoft technician is 132 miles away. IF we chose to take the computer there, it would cost us $399.

I replied that, first of all, I wasn’t going to take a computer 132 miles one-way to have it repaired. And secondly, we could buy a new computer for not much more than $399.

The other option was to go with online support.  I learned that, as a female, if I’m over 40 (or for a male over 45), we could have online support correct the problem for only $199. He became a bit upset when I told him that I was NOT going to commit to the online support at that time; that my husband and I needed to discuss the matter. He didn’t like that answer much, but he had no choice. We ended the call.

A few minutes later, I googled “HP printer tech”, and found a downloadable program  that would research and correct printer connection problems. We downloaded the program, and five minutes later (and $0), we printed a test page.

Then I took two ibuprofen for the splitting headache I had and told Motor Man he owed me lunch.

Perhaps I should have asked Gypsy's advice. Ironically, this photo was taken one year ago Tuesday.

Perhaps I should have asked Gypsy’s advice. Ironically, this photo was taken one year ago Tuesday.

~These Days Of Mine~