Monday, November 29, 2010

That Crinkly Sound

When we were teens my sister and I had a favorite place to shop for Christmas presents. We walked downtown and checked out the Merle Norman store. Upon entering this small shop we were met by walls and glass counters full of special gifts in addition to make-up and cologne. The assortment included such things as pretty boxes, jewelry and figurines such as Hummels. In the 1960's no other store in our city of 20,000 came close to having the gift selection that this place had.                                             
     Something else was missing in the other shops. At Merle Norman  every sales girl had the same slow, soft-spoken manner. It was positively hypnotizing. We would shop there just to experience the ambiance.
     Their sales technique was best displayed while packing a purchased gift in a white box. It was slowly opened by lingering  fingers adorned with long, lacquered nails. We watched as each box flap was pulled out meticulously, all the while absorbing the relaxed, almost soporific feeling that came over us. Tissue paper was carefully retrieved and gently patted into the box, accompanied by a soft, crinkly sound . By this time we were completely enchanted and mesmerized; we would have bought lots more, means permitting.
     We call this the "Merle Norman Technique". My sister can do a great imitation of it. It requires a slow pace, soft voice, nice nails (clicking nails really help), and lots of that soft, crinkly paper noise . The latter will send people over the edge!
     The shop has been gone for many years.  My hometown was hard hit by the recession in the seventies and  never completely recovered. Now it is a Wal-Mart town, with local businesses hobbling along.  Merle Norman went a-malling, and is now a delectable memory!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Past

     As Thanksgiving ushers in the Christmas season I am recalling happy childhood memories of my early years.  Christmas was very magical when I was young, and I decided that remembering these might help me remember the magical feeling of this season.  It is working!
     Here are a few things I recall--
1.  A huge, live Christmas tree with lots of sparkle--metallic balls and icycles.  I recall laying on the floor near the tree and just watching it.  Very magical experience...  Oh, I remember having homemade cookie ornaments one year.  Very pretty.
2.  My dad was the assistant manager at the local A&P (grocery store); he brought home a box of goodies from the store just before Christmas.  Yum!
3.  Listening to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and twirling to Waltz of the Flowers.  Anyone remember the Nutcracker Suite paper dolls?!  They were really pretty!
4.  Our church Christmas Eve service; this involved the children singing.  I think I was a shepherd or angel one year.  What I really remember is learning Silent Night.
5.  My mother singing the aria He Shall Feed His Flock  from The Messiah
6.  Listening to The Messiah
7.  Both of my parents singing in the church choir.
8.  Going downtown in Fort Wayne or Indianapolis and touring the window displays.  They were so magical!
9.  Oranges in my red felt stocking........I can smell them
10 Revlon sister and I each got one (she got the blond one; I got the brunette doll).

11. Santa always visited my home on Christmas Eve. We would each get to sit on his lap and listen to his serious but very kind questions about our behavior and what was wanted for Christmas.  I suppose he had something in his bag, but I only remember him......oh, and his list.  I knew he was the real Santa.  His disguise and impersonation were perfect in my eyes; I found out years later that a close family friend  had done this faithfully.
12. Cuddling under a silky comforter in bed on Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep and filled with the anticipation of hearing Santa on the roof.  Really cool.  And we never peeked downstairs (well, I can't speak for my sister...).
13. My aunts read us a Christmas story about a special Christmas train and dreaming of sugarplums, I think.  I REALLY wanted to go there in my own dreams!!
14. Christmas specials on early television
15. Visiting a big department store and Santa .....a big deal to me since we lived in a town of 20,000
16. Being aware that elves were watching my every move
17. Santa songs...lots of fun!


18. Getting to be the Queen of Hearts in a second grade Christmas play which featured children's literature characters.  I had to learn to snap my fingers for one of the songs (it was hard work...just couldn't get it for a while).  Being the queen was a big deal.  My mother, who hated to sew, made me a costume that had a big pink tulle skirt covered with paper hearts. I thought it was beautiful.
19. Christmas cookies.  My mother always made Spritz and Mexican Wedding Cakes.  She gave away most of them...that was fun.
20. Both my sister and I receiving perfume kits as presents.  We mixed all kinds of scents in the dining room.  Boy, I bet it really stunk!!
21. China horses.   I always got these as presents to add to my collection
22. Going to a movie during Christmas vacation
23. Visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles in Fort Wayne. I only have two first cousins, and they were rarely around when we were there; my sister and I were quite doted on.  I LOVED going to Fort Wayne.  I expect some future blog entries will focus these.
24. Speaking of Fort Wayne, I remember being taken to Atz's Ice Cream Parlour at Christmas time.  We always had Sundaes, but that place also sold special Christmas ice cream....colored, molded pieces.  My family usually bought some. Yum!!
25. Making salt dough ornaments at school.  Those are still fun to make.....
26. Just lots of music.  My mother played the piano and sang many Christmas songs during the holidays.  She especially liked Frosty the Snowman.  We also listened to recordings.  A time for musical feasting.

That is enough for now, but I will probably be adding to this list!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What a Turkey!

This year was a first...a glimpse of a turkey's pre-roast personality. Apparently our Tubby Tommy wanted to be released from his forthcoming gig in the oven.......

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Fun

     Every Christmas I enjoy making some kind of decoration and/or gift. I especially like working with felted wool.  One of my favorite projects is making wool/cotton heart ornaments for our tree.  This year I have added embroidered birds which are designed as I go (I only made a pattern for the bird shapes).  The embroidered layer is usually silk, wool, knit or velvet.  I fuse felted wool or knit under it for strength and a border.  I love the coziness of the felted fabrics!  I have posted a few pics below.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Dog

Hi!  I'm Laddie and I am sitting here in my favorite pose, back paws between front paws.
I am doing my chores......sure love peanut butter!
Whoa...that hurt my ears! 
Been going all morning and I am tired.
Time for a snooze
Oops...not yet....I spy SQUIRRELS
Oh please, may I have some, too?  I am being very polite and I am so cute with my bow!
I love prey-time

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Encounter with Max and a One-Eyed Tree

The November gloomies blew in Friday night and descended on me yesterday. Outside it was gray, cool and dank with occasional spits of windy rain. Moldy leaf piles lined the street and cawing crows perched on limbs of skeletal trees. It was definitely gloomy, and my spirits followed suit.

There were plenty of tasks to do but I wandered mentally to other places. I had a terrible time focusing, and my plans were not coming to pass. Hmmmmmm....looks like a good day to get out and shop. Maybe being out will perk me up. No such luck...just early Christmas crowds, no money and nothing I wanted on sale. Hmmmmm...maybe I will make bread. That did not work either- even the bread flopped. And I was alone part of the day, which fed the encroaching depression. All day long I fought melancholy.
Late yesterday a favorite quote popped into my head, a quote that occasionally reminds me to get my act together. It is from the children's book Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells. In this book Max and Ruby, a young bunny pair of sister and little brother, are on an Easter egg hunt together outdoors. The prize for the one who finds the most eggs is a large chocolate chicken. Max, who has the attention span of about a three-year old, is continually distracted by other things around him such as a mud puddle and acorns. Ruby, while gathering her own stash of eggs, keeps reminding him to look for them and the forthcoming reward if he wins. At one point she exclaims "Max...pull yourself together. Otherwise you'll never get the chocolate chicken."
I loved this book when my boys were young and I read it a lot. Every once in a while I hear this phrase in my head and I'm humorously reminded to get my act together. It usually happens on a day when I am wandering like Max and I need something like chocolate. And that was yesterday.
This morning I walked outside and experienced more yucky weather, but soon the rain will turn to snow. On the way to church meetings I thought about the gloomy nature scenes around me. I pulled into my parking space and was met by a tree ahead of me. While looking at it I suddenly realized it was staring at me with one eye and sticking out its tongue (really...a hunk of bark was coming off...). It was so funny and silly that I began laughing. I explained to my son ( who did not share his mother's sense of humor). So I think I am on the road to recovery, thanks to a silly tree and a little bunny boy. Such is life sometimes!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

October Farewell

These are just a few photos taken this October. I will miss you!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


     Green lawns were heavily frosted last night.  I began thinking about the word frost and thought I would list some associations with it. 
1.     Frosted mint garnish

2.     Jack Frost, the guy who has been painting our van's windows in the night and dancing on the last flowers

3.     Frosty the Snowman

4. Blizzards, I think.  YUM

5.     Boy, that really frosts me!!

6.     Well, that's just the frosting on the cake....wait until you hear the rest of the story!!

7.     Making cake frosting

8.     Watching other people make cake frosting (like Martha Stewart...I find her teaching manner soothing)

9.     Reading recipes for cake frosting

10.   Imagining Italian meringue frosting, making it, and eating it.  And I did it once.  YUM YUM

11.   Eating any frosting (mmmmmm cream cheese)

12.   Making cutout Christmas cookies and frosting them....great fun

13.   My grandma's special cooked frosting for red cake, my favorite birthday cake when I was young

14.   I like frosting!!

15.   A girl in my high school had the last name of Frost...she was nice

16.   Frost evokes memories from my sister being Suzy Snowflake in a school Christmas

 17..   Rev. Frost, the minister who baptized me at the First Methodist Church I grew up in. My mother
         waited until I was 4 yrs old so I would remember it (LDS do not get baptized until 8 years old)

18.    Scraping, scraping, and scraping car windows!

19.    Seeing my breath on a cold morning

20.    Stiff, crunchy grass in the morning

21.    Some poem about "when the frost is on the pumpkin"

22.    The beauties of autumn

23.    Frosted hair in the 1960s

24.    My Uncle Frank loved buttercream frosting.  For some unknown reason I remember that fact....

25.    Hmmmm..I seem to remember a hamburger place with Frostys in the name

26.    Snowflakes, great big, lazy ones

27.    Batman, and I could go on.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Light In the Pumpkin Patch

     This will be short!  We just returned from visiting Nauvoo, Illinois.  Nauvoo is a small town on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has restored part of its settlement from the 1840s, including shops, homes, and a temple.  Anyone can tour the shops, homes and visitors center (not the temple).  Very interesting and uplifting.  I have attached a few pics from our trip.  The white building is the Nauvoo Temple (see, a source of spiritual light during our trip. The play Rendezvous, put on by senior citizen missionaries, was another source (very inspiring if you are approaching that age...!!!).
     At night light also came from the annual pumpkin walk.  Carved pumpkins lined the main street along with various fundraisers selling yummy treats.  Pics below are from the temple, pumpkin walk and surrounding area.

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.