Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Lonesome dove . . . . . . . .

Before the freezing rain early this morning there was yesterday. . . . a chilly day
 but with a spurt of morning sunshine before changing to overcast skies.
Sadly, the thick cloud cover blotted out that beautiful Super Snow Moon here.  
Hopefully you were able to see it.

I saw the lone dove when I opened the blinds, such a quiet and gentle bird. 
There are several pairs in the garden so it was unusual to see one all alone.

. . . . . . . . . beaten down by the rain today, but still a spot of bright color in the
 February garden.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Noises off. . . . . . . .

Last evening I was home alone for several hours.
This doesn't happen to me much these days - a lot different from
the many years Bob traveled around the country, and sometimes
overseas, for his job.
After he retired from the company he returned almost 
immediately and worked a further seven years as a consultant,
traveling even more. All in all, 53 years with the same company.
He'd still be there today if they'd have him - and I never, ever heard
him ever say he didn't like his job, or wish he didn't have to go
to work on any given day during that long career.  Quite amazing!

My santos doll, now stripped of decoration as I try to become more of a
 minimalist, but that's another story for another time.

While Bob was out attending the NCSU women's basketball game,
followed by pizza, with granddaughters, I'm not a sports fan at all, 
I sat here listening to noises. 
Yes, when alone in the quiet, my house makes noises.

First came a text from a neighbor advising me of uninvited garden 
visitors enjoying a supper of my pansies! On opening the front 
door I was stared down by three beautiful deer at the bottom
of the front steps, and they didn't want to leave. I had to go outside,
scold them, clap my hands, shoo them away, then chase them 
 across the lawn to the street where they stood quietly, still 
staring back at me and probably thinking about returning as
soon as I went back into the house.
Note to myself:  How did they ever get so big if these are 
the same babies who enjoyed nibbling the sunflowers last summer?

After that I seemed to hear clicks, taps, groans, twigs falling on the 
roof, the refrigerator humming, the heat cutting on then off, more text
notifications, and then a fox - or perhaps a dog - but a fox sounds more 
romantic, barking at the moon.  Did you see that moon last night? 
So amazingly beautiful. Tonight it will be the biggest and brightest
 Super Moon of 2019, called the Super Snow Moon.
Tonight it will be at its peak but in North Carolina, with possible
overnight freezing rain in the forecast, we may have heavy
 cloud cover so may not have a good view like last night.

I played some music from Les Miserables - the stage version - to fill the void
and block out the odd sounds. When Bob's here in the evenings the TV is
 usually on and the house is definitely not quiet.
Not too much later I heard Bob's car coming up the driveway.
He brought me two slices of pizza - I enjoyed one and will have the
 other tonight. 
It was a different kind of evening being here alone. It made me
realize how good it is to have someone else in the house, especially
 at night when there are noises off!

Frustration. . . . . . . . with Blogger!

. . . . . . anyone else getting totally fed up with Blogger?
Hands up!

What, if any, are your current problems? 
If you have some please share. Perhaps we can help each other. 
If this is all to do with 'changes' Google is making to Blogger shouldn't we be allowed to know just what's going on? Will they eventually get us back on track with a smooth running blogging platform like we all had in the beginning?

As far as I can see, there is absolutely no response to any questions one poses in Google's HELP or Help Forums etc. They just don't seem to give a rat's arse, do they?  

FYI - I'm using Google Chrome mostly now rather than Safari but have problems with both.  My Internet provider is Google Fiber, I have never used Google+ but like many have had problems leaving comments on blogs using Google+. This is of course in the process of changing according to Blogger - hopefully it will help with our problems.

These are my current problems and I'll be appreciative if you tell me you have any of the same issues. 

  • While composing a new post a highlighted pink bar pops up and states -  An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again. Dismiss. Then you spend an age clicking back and forth trying to Save your post or Preview it prior to completing it and eventually publishing or closing it to work on later. It becomes endless.
  • Very slow now trying to Publish comments on other blogs. Many blogs I cannot even leave a comment if they have Google+ - especially if using Safari. Now, even using Chrome it's often ages before the comment will publish, and often you can't even see publishing actually happening as you could previously. Then you have to reopen the blog where you left the comment to see if it published. . . . . . and over the past several days the same comment publishes twice even though I don't hit Publish more than once!!!!!
I am noticing so many bloggers are disappearing, or posting less often. 
Are we on the way out because of all the problems popping up and making
 our time in the blogosphere so frustrating.
My blog is my only portal into social media. If I can no longer put up with
 so much aggravation while trying to post, I'm afraid I will no longer have
 this 'journal' and a way to keep a little creativity in my life. 
With a poof into thin air and a goodbye wave,
 I, and A Breath of Fresh Air, could become just a memory!!!

Monday, February 18, 2019

For the love of reading. . . . . . .

A favorite historic novel of mine, read a few years ago, is The Garden of Evening Mists
by Penang born author Tan Twan Eng. A gift from my friend Ruth in England, 
it was signed by him when they met in Bath at Mr. B's Bookshop for a book reading.

Not visible in this photo of books, some yet to be read, others-re-read, I assure
 you it's there on the shelf of special books I'll always keep, read again, and enjoy
 over and over.
His first book, The Gift of Rain, also signed and gifted to me by Ruth, is tucked
away on this same shelf of favorites.

The Garden of Evening Mists has now been adapted into an HBO movie. 
Filming is completed, it will be released later this year. . . . . . exciting news 
for me. 
I've just enjoyed an excellent interview with Mr. Twan Eng filmed in
 Penang, Malaysia, a place I enjoyed visiting in 2012.
He's an interesting gentleman, a retired lawyer who divides his time 
between Cape Town, South Africa and Kuala Lumpur, and he is
now busy writing his third book.

What's in your stack of books for winter reading? 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Let it rain. . . . . . . . .

We're not quite waterlogged yet. . . . . . . . . . but playing
 with the Waterlogue app on the phone is always fun, especially
 on a chilly, rainy February day!

Our weather has changed and rain may fall every day 
for the next week. Glad I didn't put my waterproof booties
 away. . . . . . and the raincoat will certainly come
in handy by the sound of it.

"When it rains look for rainbows, when it's dark looks for stars". . . . . . Oscar Wilde

Saturday, February 16, 2019

LOVEly Week - Photo No: 6

A travel photo needed of course before this 'red heart week' is over.

Red lanterns in Chinatown, Victoria, British Columbia, and
a really sweet clothing and accessories shop HEART'S CONTENT.  

Fan Tan Alley is said to be the narrowest street in Canada.
It's also the entry to Canada's oldest Chinatown.

This time last year we were preparing to travel to South America -
Argentina and Chile.
This year nothing awesome, so far, taking us away
to new places somewhere in the world!

With February already half way through and thoughts, even
signs, of spring popping up every day, I'm ready for a seasonal
project. . . . . . . . .aren't you?  I have ideas, a folder, a planner, 
and a storyboard.  Working up ideas for much-needed
 room makeover.  
This, and the required ongoing garden chores spring brings,
will definitely keep me busy. . . . . . .

Friday, February 15, 2019

LOVEly week - Photo No: 5

Isn't there something about jars of red jam or jelly which make one reach
 for the morning toast, biscuit, yogurt, even a bowl of steaming oatmeal, and
 plonk a big spoonful of sweetness on top!

I still love my orange marmalade, always will, but sometimes, 
for a change, I do love a taste of glowing red strawberry or raspberry from
France's Bonne Maman range of excellent jams.

Lately, for a change, I've pried the lid off a jar of deep, dark mysterious red
 elderberry jelly. Homemade in North Carolina, we bought it from a roadside
 stand with views across a green valley to the Blue Ridge Mountains undulating
 across the distant skyline. Just looking at the jar reminds me to return to 
our lovely mountains soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

LOVEly Week - St.Valentine's Day - Photo No: 4

My lovely flowers received this morning from my love!
Thank you so much Bob.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

LOVEly Week - Photo No: 3

The clothing post for this LOVEly week!

No, I won't be wearing this new ZARA sweatshirt on 
St. Valentine's Day. . . . . . . or any other day!
Not that I don't think it's fabulous in that brilliant red
with such an amazing graphic (reminds me of 'pop art').
But come on now, there have to be some fashion elements 
just for the young, right?
I just don't qualify this time around.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

LOVEly week - Photo No: 2

My introduction to ice skating was mostly heading down a slippery slope!  
Or perhaps more of a lumpy, bumpy ride. It was outdoors on a freezing night
 on the magnificent Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.
Frozen solid, it welcomed me to the cold winter of 1962, just after I arrived to
live in the Nation's Capital.

I bought a pair of ice skates attached to real white leather boots - something
 I'd longed for since a child.  
One time on the pool was enough to make me understand why they built smooth 
surfaced ice rinks, running Zamboni machines to keep them that way for
figure skaters, ice dancers and hockey players.
 I gravitated to a rink, never becoming much of a skater myself. . . . . . but I still
 love to watch others twirling on the ice.

How nice it would be to go ice skating with a smiling red cat!

One of many in the series of fantastic cat wall paintings along what has been
 nicknamed, 'Cat Alley', a narrow brick-walled street taking one to the public
 library in my husband Bob's home town of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's going to be a LOVEly week - Photo No: 1

No matter how one feels regarding the celebration of St. Valentine's Day,
in all honesty it has become another of those over the top commercial
 endeavors to encourage purchasing of flowers, chocolates, cards, high-priced 
restaurant meals and such. 

I admit I have enjoyed all those things over the years, however this week
 I've decided to do a little celebration my own way. . . . . . . choosing to share
 a photo with something red every day, not just on the 14th!
February can be such a brutal month weather wise, and even health wise for 
some, so I thought a pop of red each day of this Valentine week may help
 to cheer things up.

From today's photo, taken through the dining room window, of one of a large group
 of cardinals in the fig tree, it's obviously wet and very dreary around here.
How these brilliant birds - especially the bright red males - light up the garden.
At this time of year their red deepens. It will soon be time to mate with all those
 just as pretty brown females also sitting out there on the dripping branches.

Looking through my older photos I've found several to share
 with you, one will be appearing each day.
Perhaps you will consider joining in and do the same - it would be
 such fun to see the lovely red photos you can dig up in your
 photo archive!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Strictly Southern. . . . . . . . . .

Southern version of the 'cooked breakfast' for me this morning. . . . . a tasty
egg biscuit
 I only indulge when I bake fresh biscuits.

A change from toast and marmalade or a steaming bowl of oatmeal.
Sunday morning - gloom now changing to sunshine  - just below freezing
 but warming up - birds everywhere looking for their morning meal.

Do you eat breakfast? 
Supposedly the most important meal of the day!
What's your favorite morning treat?

Saturday, February 9, 2019


Today we had to remove the cushions from the front porch chairs!
As they are usually protected in all weather we don't store them away in winter.
This past week I was able to sit out there one afternoon enjoying my
current lovely book, Anuradha Roy's second novel on modern India, 
The Folded Earth, along with a cup of tea, in the unbelievable warmth of
 a very unseasonal February day.
I admit that continuing shoulder pain has me doing less heavy lifting
 and moving, instead more reading, thinking and listening to music. 
Feelings of guilt about much needed housework are being overcome.

The grey squirrel.
Cute? At times.
Naughty? Always.

Right now they are busy in their nests up high in the oaks -
babies will be arriving this month.
Today, one refuses to leave my cushions alone, chewing through the 
covers and trying to pull out stuffing!  Perhaps wanting to line a nest
for a newborn - which is a delightful thought - but please not with my
rather expensive cushions!

They seem to eat nonstop - I guess climbing those tall trees requires a lot of energy.

It's hard to get a photo of a squirrel who isn't nibbling on something.
Bulbs, bird seed, bird suet, nuts, camellia buds, tulips - they'll bite off the
newly opened flowers and you end up with just a row of stems - acorns, and
 now chair cushions.  Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

Enjoy your weekend.  
We've cooled down quite a bit but have lovely
sunshine today.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

All that jazz. . . . . . . .

Not being into the local bar scene, a nice glass of wine at home seems to do
it for me these days, we have actually found ourselves heading out twice into town
 to a club for a drink - but mostly for the music!
Remember those days back when night clubs were awesome.
Cocktails, velvet curtains, sofas to lounge on, comfy ladies rooms, no TV
screens blaring out sports. . . . and often live music such as jazz or blues groups
with a songstress singing oldies with lyrics you could understand,
 and melodies that brought back memories of the great stage shows and
 classic movie musicals.

I guess the majority of today's younger 'clubbers' don't always go for this type of
 entertainment, but there are so many of us out there who can still enjoy an evening
 on the town at a place such as C.Grace in downtown Raleigh. 
It's underground and has the feeling of Prohibition-era. Entering through the
 door you are faced with a dark space which, as your eyes become accustomed,
show velvet hangings and art deco statues anchoring the corner stage. Comfortable
 seating at small tables and areas with sofas, and three sparkling bars where it's touted
 the best bartenders in town shake and pour. 
The crowd was interesting, all age groups, couples, singles, casual or dressed
to the nines. . . . . . . . . 

A peek inside the ladies room at C.Grace . . . . . . 

. . . . . and three ladies who enjoyed a couple of special hours together,
Cindi singing with her excellent musicians, and us enjoying every 
moment at the club on a chilly evening - Bob was with us also.

The back story here:  Cindi was Jasmin's Kindergarten teacher many years
ago - we knew back then she had amazing musical talents, voice
and piano, as well as being a great teacher. 
Jasmin is musical and sang in and directed her HS chorus.
She's a first soprano, loves jazz - you may recall she asked us to 
take her to New Orleans for her 21st birthday gift in 2017. Front row
seats at Preservation Hall were part of the trip and we had a ball there, 
also listening to street jazz and visiting other jazz venues.
As for me - I got to know Cindi well during those Kindergarten days when
I read to her class on Wednesdays, and was always addressed as 'Jasmin's
 Grandma.' Cindi is retired from teaching now - back in 
November, we bumped into her at the grocery store and she told us she was
 singing with a jazz group at this club on certain nights. We immediately made
 a date to go and had such a fun time. Last week we went a second time and
 Jasmin tagged along. . . . .needless to say it was so much fun to get together.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Scribble Picnic - Market

I love markets and have been to some exceptional ones around the world.
It was hard find a good market scene photo to work with for today's theme.
 They were just all too busy looking - which is great for any market - but a bit 
too much for editing for Scribble Picnic!
Did have some good photos of produce though so chose this
 one, turned it into a b/w 'sketch' and added back color with 
those trusty watercolor pencils.

So, you get a glimpse of these beautiful French artichokes from
Brittany, displayed on a market stand in Carcassonne when visiting
 my brother's home just a 20 minute drive from the city. 
It was raining that day and I recall the fruits and vegetables 
 looking so fresh on their outdoor stalls

Hope you will stop by Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC today -
join in or just enjoy our members' art.

. . . . . and if interested here's little history on the amazing Cité de Carcassonne : via Wikipedia
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between historic trade routes, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognized by the Romans, who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire. In the fifth century, it was taken over by the Visigoths, who founded the city. Its strategic location led successive rulers to expand its fortifications until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
Its citadel known as the Cité de Carcassonne, is a medieval fortress dating back to the Gallo-Roman period, and was restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.[1] Consequently, Carcassonne relies heavily on tourism but also counts manufacturing and wine-making as some of its other key economic sectors.

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