Thursday, December 7, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

I wouldn't say that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, but it is beginning to look a little like it. We have a few presents stashed away, all of cards in the mail, and a couple of strands of lights on the outside of our house. Every day, we do something else. Yesterday we cleared a spot for the tree and today we took some pictures for a gift.  So far, the goal for a calm holiday season is working. I hope that continues and it is not because it's just too early to panic. I guess we'll figure that out in a week or two. But until then, we're going with slow and steady wins the race.

Here's a few of our Christmas preparations so far.

Lights in front of the house. We've also added lights to our deck in the back.
Those are the lights we enjoy while we're in our family room.

The wreath on the outside of the front door is one of those ones with battery powered lights. While it is very pretty, I may see if I can put more lights on it, so it can be seen better at night. And if I don't get to it, as I said, it is very pretty as is.

This is the wreath on the inside of the front door. This was a door prize I won several years ago at a bow tying workshop at the library.  

Preview of one of the new ornaments for our tree. My aunt made this and gave it out at my family reunion. It's a little mail box complete with flag and two letters and a package that go inside. How cute is that?

Until next time when it will be looking a little more like Christmas...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Second Look--December 3, 2017

We have been easing into winter with freezing nights and warmer days. I took advantage of one of those warmer days today, with temperatures in the 40's, to work in the yard. There have been a couple of hard freezes that have killed most things in the flower beds and my goal was to clean the beds of the dead plants. During my work, I found little bits of color that surprised me among all of the dried leaves, brown dirt, and gray branches. It's always fun to see what hidden treasures nature has for me when I take the time to do a Second Look.

Here are a few of those surprises I found today.

A native ladybug. These are harder to find these days since the invasion of the Asian ladybugs. Our native ladybugs are red while the Asian ones are orange.

A wild snapdragon has managed to survive and bloom. 

Part of a butterfly wing was hiding under some mums.


This forsythia bloom thinks it is spring.

And now that the leaves have fallen from the forsythia bushes, I found this bird's nest.

I think you can find dandelions anytime of the year.

Bright red nandina berries just in time for Christmas.

This ornamental kale survived the freezes.

As did this pansy. If the winter is not too harsh, this pansy should grow again next spring.

The sun is setting earlier and earlier these days. However in just a couple of weeks, the days will be getting longer again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What was she thinking?

I can easily see the other side of an issue and can freely give something the benefit of the doubt while I try to understand it--at times annoyingly so. Just ask my family and friends. But recently, I was unable to be my measured self when I saw a new board book, Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz. I had an immediate reaction to this book. No middle ground here. Let me see if I can explain why.

(But first if you want, you can go read the book for yourself and see what you think before I talk about it. I copied the it at the end for your convenience. 

What I think bothered me the most about Feminist Baby was the fact that this was a board book (geared and marketed for babies) that was talking about feminism. Not because feminism is a bad topic, but because it's not developmentally appropriate. A point I think Theo made well when he said that babies don't yet have a sense of self or a sense of gender, so targeting a book to them about feminism was misplaced.

But there are other reasons, too. The actual text has Feminist Baby doing things that all babies do--throwing things, throwing up, refusing to wear pants, etc. but in a I-don't-care-what-you-think-way. Some of my friends described feminist baby as a brat. Others said that book seemed to condone behaviors that most parents are trying to train their kids not to do. And yet others (females) thought it was putting males in a bad light. They thought Feminist Baby's bad behavior was supposed to be imitating what males do to show that she could do what ever she wanted.

Trying to get a different perspective on things, I asked my sons, Wally and Theo, what they thought about the book. To be fair, I had only discussed it with other middle aged women so far making my own echo chamber. Therefore, I was curious what my Millennial sons, who are out in the real working world, would think. They both thought it was crazy to have a book for babies about a feminist baby. They understood that the author was trying to put feminism in a good light, but didn't think it was well done in either text or pictures. Wally thought the book would have been more effective if it had read Baby does... instead of Feminist Baby does... because feminism to him means equal opportunities for all. Theo said that it might have made a better point if Feminist Baby had done things in a positive way and not in a rebellious way.

However, not everyone disliked the book. When I read reviews on Amazon and Good Reads, overall, the reviews were positive. Many found the book fun and thought that it was a good way to introduce the topic.  Once again, I still thought, "But not to babies."

I also wondered what was the rest of the story. What was the author thinking when she wrote this book? I found an interview with her that shed some light on those questions. Brantz's intent was to establish the word feminism in a positive light from a very young age. And she wanted the book to be a jumping off point to discuss feminism with young girls. Her explanations didn't make me feel any different. While well intended, I still felt Brantz was clueless about childhood development and the inappropriateness of this topic for babies and young children.

Loryn Brantz, the author, has subsequently developed a Feminist Baby comic targeted for adults. These cartoons deal with feminism and other current issues. I have no problem with them. I may agree or disagree with some of her points, but that's okay. I am the appropriate audience for them.

So what do you think?

Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz, Disney-Hyperion, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This and that

Let me say it again. Despite good intentions, I have been largely absent from here. Nothing big happening, just lots of little things that don't seem that interesting to share. But I'm going to do it any way. Below are a few of them complete with no pictures. :)

Last week we had our first hard freeze which was the signal for time to start going at warp speed toward the holidays. But before that, I was still pretending that the mild days of fall would continue indefinitely. I worked on weed control and bed cleanup. I collected seeds (note to self--more to do in this area) and mowed grass. But the most important thing I did outside was to plant crocus bulbs. Crocus are truly the highlight of spring for me with their bright, early colors, but I didn't see any come up last year. I'm hoping my newly planted bulbs bloom the first year and I have little pockets of crocus greeting me here and there in a few months.

(Chose not to insert picture of plain dirt where I planted the crocus.)

Also, I've started on holiday prep. I'm not one who shops all year for things and finishes my holiday shopping in August. It always seems that if I see something in May, it won't wait easily until December or by December that persons needs or wants have changed. Anyway, I've started making a few things. Unfortunately, I can't show them to you yet. But let's just say, that concepts don't always turn out in reality. Several weeks of kitchen mess have given me some "interesting" things to give.

(Can't show you what I've made or it will spoil the surprise for some.)

I know that I'm very old fashioned, but I'm one of those people who still sends out cards, letters, and pictures at Christmas. I've started that process and everything should be ready in two or three weeks. I also have started that for my mother. I was obsessed one weekend while making a card for her to send. Nothing was working out quite right partly because I didn't know how to use the four different editing programs I was trying. But now I think we're in good shape to help her with them when we visit at Thanksgiving. Preparing cards is something that Wally and Theo often do with their grandmother.

(Can't show you the cards I've been working on for privacy reasons.)

Ward went away on a week long backpacking trip a couple of weeks ago and I did a few things to surprise him for when he got back. One of them was working in the garage. Wally came over and helped me put together some shelves that we got several months ago to help organize the garden area. It took a bit of rearranging, but Ward came home to a cleaner, better organized garage, at least in one corner. He noticed and was pleased. Mission accomplished.

(Chose not to show you pictures of our messy garage. Actually, I forgot to take some.)

I'm not sure what else has been going on. Let's see. We went to a dinner theater, Theo's been sick, and we got the furnace fixed. And there's that work thing that keeps happening every day. So there you have it--whatever it is.

(Didn't take pictures of the furnace, or a sick Theo and wasn't allowed to take them at the dinner theater.)

Until next time...

Saturday, November 4, 2017


We had a cloudy sunrise this morning.

Good Morning.

I'm not a morning person. Never have been. Ward learned long ago, it's best to not talk to me in the morning. Some people wake up fully awake, but not me. It takes my body a few hours to feel awake even when I've had a good night's sleep. But that doesn't mean, I'm not enjoying this morning.

I awoke early to go walking, but my walking buddy couldn't make it until this afternoon. So here I am in a quiet house with the men in my family all sleeping. Both Wally and Theo are here for a visit, so the day holds extra excitement for a day spent together.

The cats have been fed and are already stretched out for their morning nap. Only the sighting of an occasional bird out the window gets an alert. It's a cloudy morning, so there's no crowding into the same sunbeam for them.

There's something about the quiet of the morning, that is very calming. Soon there will be hustle and bustle with to-do lists and errands. But for now, I am enjoying the peace of the early morning. I hope you are, too.