Not Even A Mouse


If you could see the ears under that hat
you'd know for sure he's not a mouse.

Remember, children, Santa sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good.

So be good, for goodness' sake!


Get Your "Merry & Bright" Here

If you thought British Christmas was all about wassailing
and fat geese and little boys on crutches, think again.

This holiday delicacy from Across The Pond
promises to "KEEP YOU ALL AGLOW".

Happy Christmas.


This Weekend

And we made plans to celebrate some more in just a few days


At McDonalds' 2003ish

Not at the golden arches.
At the home of our beloved friends:

And again in 2007:
Many warm and wonderful memories have been
made thanks to the love of our dear friends.


Charlie Brown Christmas Tree 1984

We were so poor the children had to suck their fingers.

Our joy that year was a baby girl in teensy pink tights.

She was a natural for the leading role in the Nativity play:
A method actor, too.
(Joseph is distracted but Baby Jesus is right in character).

Kassi Angel; Michael Joseph; Gretchen Mary; and Grandma was in the background creating some delectable treat for sure.


White Christmas 1983

Outside our apartment in Provo, Utah


Ghost of Christmas Past

Let's take a trip in the WayBack Machine and visit
Christiemas 1997

Couldn't fit all of this handprint wreath on my flatbed scanner, but you get the idea.

Kindergarten gifts and decorations are the sweetest, dontcha think?

Thirteen years later this grown up girl is soon to arrive home for the holidays. It's her first big homecoming since moving 800 miles away as soon as she had her high school diploma in hand, and we are all so very ready to welcome her.

Finish your business and hurry home, baby.


While I Was Gone

The Elf Workshop has been busy. I didn't just fall off the face of the earth. The bubonic plague descended shortly after the jelly-making at Thanksgiving. But even in my weakened condition I was able to drag myself to the dollar store for a cartload of ornaments to craft this beauty:

I love every glittery turquoise and gold bit of it! And something about it reminds me of crafting with my Aunt Varine. When I was about eight she helped me glue macaroni to an empty wine bottle and spray paint it gold. It was awesome. 

The wreath kinda coordinates with this year's Christmas Shirt ($8 from Tar-Jey). I've worn it twice already since Thanksgiving and I'm wearing it again today. I really love it.

It's hard to blog at Christmastime because all the good stuff we are up to is TOP SECRET. Except I can show you my plan for total world domination.

One. Snowman. At. A. Time.

There are currently five agents in the field but these guys have been part of the project for twenty years. See the purple agent up there on the left?  Mmhmm, now see if you can spot him undercover about 10 years ago in the scene below:

Stay tuned for additional evidence of Christmas Past in upcoming posts...


I Toldja I Was Gonna..

And I did! I made Pomegranate Jelly! Yay Me!

I missed my opportunity to become a young farm wife, but perhaps I still have time to become an old farm wife. I've always loved overalls. Do you know where I could get some aprons and a chicken coop?

Have I mentioned I made Pomegranate Jelly? For the first time in half a century? It's taken me way too long to dive into this. The jelly looks so pretty cooling on the counter. Can't wait to spread it on some toast on toppa Mr. Last's Famous Nut Butter.

What? You've never heard of Mr. Last's Famous Nut Butter??

Well, let me tell you about it. Mr. Last's Famous Nut Butter is an amazing heart-healthy blend made purely of almond and pecan goodness -- no added salt, sugar, oil or other ingredients -- and it needs no enhancement. However, you/I can enhance a plain old crust of bread with Famous Nut Butter (and, soon, pomegranate jelly) and tranform toast into an Exquisite Treat That You Can Eat and Call a Meal. Add your hot beverage of choice and you are likely to begin purring.

I told you we were into Recreational Cooking around here. I blame it on the specialized power tools Mr. Last has introduced to the kitchen in recent months: a stand mixer, a food processer, and a commercial juicer. Kinda paradoxical how simple eating leads to the acquisition of advanced machinery to increase the ability to simplify, but there you have it.

I have not been quick to embrace the machinery, mostly because I loathe disassembling and cleaning specialized parts. I begrudgingly tried my hand at the stand mixer when I made pie crust a while back. A few weeks later Mr. Last unleashed the juicing potential hidden inside some lingering pomegranates that were withering on the counter, and I began to take baby steps toward the kitchen. His encouragement and patience with my messes is key to this whole adventure.

Time will tell whether or not the aprons and chicken coop are a good idea.


The Reason for the Season

Day after T-Day, in the kitchen, after errands and chores.

Mr. Last: I'm making a turkey sandwich. Want one?

Me: Yes, that sounds good...Wait!...ummm...I'll make my own.

Some people spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping until they drop but the highlight of my day after is leftovers. And I try to stop eating before I drop.

Did you know that "turkey sandwich" is decoded differently for different people? One of us likes small slabs of white meat with dill pickles and mustard on sourdough bread cut on the diagonal, while someone else likes bite-sized bits of dark meat slathered with cranberry sauce on cranberry walnut bread with no cutting required. We make our own sandwiches just the way we like 'em, thankyouverymuch.

Long ago we learned "mouthwash" means antiseptic medicinal flavor for one of us while someone else likes the tingle of minty-freshness. We keep the two different varieties on the bathroom counter.

You say toe - mate- toe, I say tah - motto.

The holiday season is so full of details that can make our differences stand out in greater relief. Take note of the differences but beware of them growing into irritations that can snowball into disconnection. In our household we keep things in balance by allowing everyone to make their own sandwich, and by having two bottles of mouthwash on the bathroom counter. It's not likely that everyone can have everything they want but figure out how little differences can be resolved in your household, and proudly declare (in your best French accent):

"Vive la différence!"



What else can you say on this national day of gratitude?

Oh, OK. I am thankful for a day that started with Baked Pumpkin French Toast:

photo & recipe from here
 And then the house filled with the smell of butter and onions and celery and sage while I made bread stuffing for the turkey (which is roasting as I type).

Mr. Last and I very much enjoy Recreational Cooking (yes. that's what kids are calling it these days.), so immediately upon the heels of my popping the poultry in the oven, he began chopping and cooking onions, peppers, and spices to add to our weekly batch of beans. This week it is Spicy, Citrusy Black Beans. With extra Spicy.

Tomorrow I'm trying my hand making a batch of Pomegranate Jelly.

I repeat: we very much enjoy Recreational Cooking.

So have I mentioned there are only two of us in this household?

Yeah. So we have to pace ourselves on the Recreational Eating.


On that note, I'll leave you with my fine photographic documentation of Thanksgiving 1974:


The Cat in the Hat Comes Back


His love for hats began in infancy...



Persimmons & Popcorn

We get pretty excited when surprises like these show up in our "goodie box". Because -- to tell the truth -- it is not likely that these would show up on our ordinary grocery list.

I always thought persimmons looked like miniature pumpkins and I I was afraid they would smell and taste like squash, too. I enjoy squash, but I want my fruit to taste sweet and delicious. And the Fuyu persimmons ARE sweet like honey and crunchy like an apple; they don't smell (or taste!) anything like pumpkin.

The popcorn came to us dried on the cob and although the kernels can be stripped off the cob before popping, I'm lazy. I throw the cob in a brown paper bag and into the microwave. The kernels pop themselves right off the cob with next to no work on my part.

I set the microwave for 5 minutes but stay there to turn it off when the popping slows (about 3.5 minutes in our microwave).

We also got another batch of pears this morning in the goodie box and we'll be snacking on fresh slices with cheese later this afternoon.

Apparently, this post (and our mid-November snacks) is/are brought to you by the letter "P".


Memories of California Sunshine

For those who may be shivering in the Intermountain West right now:


The Breath of Hades

It is early November in California (and everywhere else). The leaves are beginning to turn and a few are falling. Yesterday morning there were gray clouds gathering and a stiff breeze coaxing more leaves off the trees.

I gathered my library books, put on my ruffly grey sweater and walked out into the autumn day.

By the time I returned from my errands I was cursing and sweating because what looked like a refreshing breeze turned out to be a hot wind off the desert. The outdoor temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit plus a stiffling wind factor of plus 5 to 7 degrees...

Am I complaining? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

And I'm blaming Al Gore. Thanks for the Internet, Al, but I really don't appreciate the global warming thing.

Oh, we could blame it on LA NIÑA (Spanish for "THE" NIÑA), but what fun is that?

Cry for me, Argentina. I know you feel my pain. (It's 90 degrees in Buenos Aires today).

Good thing I got an extra hour of sleep last night. Remind me sometime to tell you how I feel about Daylight Savings Time...


Harvest Pixie

Pure magic how she captures my heart over and over:


Public Service Announcement

What's wrong with this picture?

I drove up to the ATM today and it dispensed the exact amount of my money that I requested.

 I always count before I drive away. And you should, too.

But if I ever ask for $100 and the machine dispenses three bills we are all in deep trouble because there is NOT ONE SINGLE COMBINATION of any three bills that will make 100 dollars.

I'm just sayin'...


A Woman of Few Words

That's one thing I've never been accused of. Yet I blogged less in October than ever before. Hmmm....I guess I've been preoccupied.

They say you always remember your first love.

Long ago and far away I read a new stack of novels every week (thank you public libraries). Novel-length stories require commitment and constancy that I was willing and able to give back in the day. No desultory reader was I. I burnt a lot of midnight oil and sat in many a tub of tepid bath water finishing "one more chapter" (often finishing the entire book before I came back to the real world). 

But somewhere amidst child-bearing and family life my attention span became fragmented. Nonfiction, predominately in the form of newspaper columns or magazine articles interspersed with an occasional paperback bestseller, seemed all I could manage. My busy life required most of my brainspace, leaving only enough room for bits and pieces so I got away from novels or, perhaps, novels got away from me.

Until lately.

Last week I was absorbed by "Jamesland"; this week it's "The Stone Diaries." I am reluctant to lay the book down, and eager to return to it at the earliest opportunity. I walk around in a cloud wondering what will happen next in the lives of imaginary people.

My first love has returned.

Welcome back.


Caramelized Pear Pie

This is my blog.
It is the record of my life right now.
Journal-keeping is something I have done, and encouraged others to do, for much of my life. Mostly because our minds play tricks on us as time passes, causing memory and imagination to get all tangled up together. Capturing images and impressions while they are still fresh improves our chances of recalling thoughts and events later in time with more reliable clarity and accuracy than that afforded by merely memory alone. Our amazing brains have enough to do just keeping our amazing bodies functioning every day. Should we require them to store and recall everything, too?

Well, yes.

But journal-keeping, or blogging, isn't a bad way to keep track of things in addition to using your brain.


The kitchen has never been my favorite place in the house. I mean that in the most general sense. I have no particular quarrel with any particular kitchen. I just can't be bothered to follow a recipe precisely, let alone repeatedly. I am famous for short-cutting and substituting with close approximations if I am lacking the exact equipment or ingredient. I appreciate those good cooks who care enough to do it right, I am just not one of them. 

For a brief moment in the 1980s I lost my mind and determined to transform, in a single afternoon, an entire box of apples into frozen pies to last us through the winter. After hours of peeling and slicing, and wads of flour and shortening pie crust caking onto my hands and shoes and sleeves, I was cured of any lingering illusion that I might desire to embody the American Ideal of motherhood and apple pie. It was one or the other. And since I was already a mother, I gave up apple pie.


I did not give up EATING apple pie. Just MAKING apple pie. I cannot recall ever making an apple pie from scratch since 1983.
I am not ashamed.

Today, however, for some inexplicable reason, I was possessed with a desire to tranform the abundance of pears on the kitchen counter into Caramelized Pear Pie. And, friends, I followed the recipe to the letter. I froze my bowl and beaters. I cut an obscene amount of butter into 1/4 inch squares. I sprinkled ice water on the flour and butter just enough for the dough to hang together when squeezed. I refrigerated the dough for 2 hours before baking. I did not improvise or invent a single creative step in the process.

And the heavens opened. The angels sang.
We enjoyed hot, sweet, buttery, caramelized Food of the Gods. Really delicious.

I made it all by myself. From scratch.

So let it be written that I baked pie in 1983. And 2010. And perhaps I will again in ten years or so. Pie-making is a serious commitment, folks. I remembered that again today. And though I learned I can follow a recipe to the letter with beautiful results if I put my mind to it, I am still not willing to invest so much time and energy in food preparation more than once or twice a decade.


Grils Got Away

Friday night I hopped a plane to SLC via SFO:

In SLC I met up with CMW and MAH:

We ate and shopped and pushed a bride out of the way to snap a shot in front of this historical landmark: (just kidding! we waited until the newlyweds were done with their photos):

I tried to get the girls to pose with me like this:

They were real bathing beauties when we soothed our aching bodies in Brother Marriott's hot tub at the end of our day on the town. 

But that came much later. After we filled the day with an organ concert at the Tabernacle, lunch at Lion House Pantry, shopping at DI, browsing at the public library, dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, shopping at [THE] Gateway, and chasing down TRAX to take us the last block back to the hotel. 

We sampled the dry sauna and the hot tub and the swimming pool before we donned our perfectly matchy green-and-grey jammies and we snuggled down into the warmth of memories made.

I'm still basking in the afterglow. Thanks Grils!


October Sky

Sunrise this morning near the Visalia airport. Cotton just about  ready for harvest in the foreground, Valley Oaks behind.
Mother Nature puts on a spectacular show for me twice a day at both ends of my commute. A couple weeks ago I enjoyed this view in the evening on Rosedale Highway:

I love when Mr. Last grabs my hand and pulls me
to an upstairs window or outdoors to catch the view.

"C'mon," he says, "this is worth watching..."


Pausing to look up does not happen often enough for most of us, but it rarely fails to calm a busy mind or soothe a troubled heart.

This morning when the sun rose only a few of the Chilean miners had been rescued, and tonight they are all above ground. I like to imagine that the October sky today was particularly beautiful especially in their honor. They missed a few sunrises and sunsets recently, so I can believe the sky is a sight that will be deeply meaningful to them from here on out.



I am a word nerd, not a math nerd. But sometimes numbers and things mathematical delight me. I enjoy the occasional number puzzle and I'm fascinated by patterns, and symmetry, and tessellations, and the Golden Mean, and the Fibonacci sequence, and fractals, and prime numbers.

Today I am just happy that the numerical date works out to be 10.10.10.  Doesn't matter if you note the day in day/month/year sequence or month/day/year sequence. Today it's all the same!


No! It has nothing to do with my aging mind and keeping things easy to remember.

It's just plain beautiful.

Which brings me to...

In an attempt to overcome resistance to making something I can legitimately call an "art journal", I made a scrappy doodly book. It's here mostly to encourage me, but if it encourages you, too, so much the better: