Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Christmas Come and Gone

We had a wonderful Christmas here in Northern Maine. Friday afternoon we went to visit friends who were having a Christmas Eve open house. It was great to reconnect with folks I hadn't seen in years. I even got to hold and play with a 9 month old little elf of a girl. Kids are what Christmas is about.

Friday evening we went to Christmas Eve service where I had a part to read. At the very last minute I decided not to express my biblical verse in interpretive dance like I had originally planned so didn't need bail money after all. Thanks to all of my buddies who were standing by with bail money just in case.

After church Gram came up and we had Mum's AWESOME home made chicken soup, hot biscuits and Nantucket pie before going for a ride around town to see the Christmas lights. After living with all of the light pollution in the city, the stars on that ride were even more beautiful than the colored lights.

Christmas morning we went back down and got Gram and all of her presents and came back up to Mum's. We had a wicked stack of loot and it took quite a while to open everything. I was truly spoiled this year. I got another plane ticket back to Maine from Mum (she must have wrapped that before I got here this trip, I think she's about ready to send me packin' for home already) and a Nook from my brother and his family. Undeserved riches. It's not that I was a particularly good girl last year... I guess I just flew under the radar and didn't get caught!

Grammie was so cute; just like a child again opening her packages. She ate a real good dinner too. Of course there is nothing like Mum's cooking! Gram is even starting to gain some of the weight back that she lost when she took sick earlier this year. We wound up the day by watching Will Ferrell in Elf. Perfect ending to a perfect day!

I am so grateful to be able to be here this year. Spending time with my family and friends in the State that I love is my best gift. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maine Christmas

The smell of apple dumplings is wafting in from the kitchen. A 'snow globe' snow is swirling outside and I am settling into winter life in Northern Maine. We have been making the rounds visiting friends, getting some last minute Christmas shopping done, and cooking. Evenings are spent knitting, reading or playing games. It's just the respite I've been needing after the last few months.

I spent the other morning down to Grammie's. I addressed some Christmas cards for her. At 98, her hands shake and she is embarrassed by her handwriting. I think it's fine, but it gave me a chance to spend time with her. We made fudge and visited. 98 years old. It boggles the mind.

We went upcountry to Mapleton to see friends, Gloria and Dwight last Saturday. They have an absolutely stunning house that sits way up on a hill. You can see forever and ever from up there. I tried to get them to let me move in. I told them I could just stay on the sofa and admire the view and they'd hardly know I was there. Notice that I am writing this from back at Mum's house. Sigh.

Mum's big herd of deer isn't out back this winter yet. The snow hasn't been deep enough or the air cold enough for them to yard up yet. There is a group of 4, two does and two yearlings that we see in the dooryard and neighboring fields. They are big and healthy looking. Let's hope the winter is kind to them.

I got an email from Ben today. Apparently he has set up his own email address. I KNEW he was smarter than he let on. He said that he is having a good time with his buddies back home while I'm here. I miss him a lot. I have the bed all to myself and am WAY too drool free.

Hope all is going well back there and that everybody is healthy, happy and reasonably sane during this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010

It's not technically 'winter' yet and we are already getting our back pockets handed to us! This was in mid-blizzard last Sunday morning. Note all of the branches down. We had freezing rain and then snow and all the little or loose ones came tumbling down. Ben is ecstatic since his favorite thing to do is eat sticks!

I'm so glad that my years of shoveling the dooryard are over. I sit inside snuggly (and smugly )and watch the neighbors dig out.

Besides watching the neighbors shovel, I also like to pass judgment on the dim-witted souls who absolutely have to go into town to get beer during the ice-storm/blizzard. The following picture just shows a beautiful, overflowing font of bad decision making...
I don't know what I love the most...
  • The driver thinking that despite the Statewide State of Emergency and police instruction to stay off the roads, he can surely make it to the gas station and back for beer and Cheetos-no problem!
  • Despite the confidence and bravado, he buries his car in the snowbank, not 5 feet from the end of the dooryard he just came out of, at the top of a hill.
  • The driver trying to push the car out himself (that's right there's no one in the car, steering or giving it the gas) while his copilot plays in the snow by the passenger's side. From the looks of him, I don't think this particular B-E-E-R-R-U-N is entirely necessary.
  • Leaving the door wide open so, if by some Christmas miracle the next car, or in more likelihood-snowplow, coming down the road misses the trunk of the car, he'll take off the door for sure. Score! Then we can go sledding on it!

Free entertainment! Here's a Christmas poser for you? Does the enjoyment of mocking others constitute holiday spirit, mirth and merriment? Probably not huh?

Here's a bonified Christmas riddle. What does a Gingerbread Man put on his bed? A cookie sheet of course!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Olbrich Christmas

In my desperate bid to locate my Christmas Spirit, I went to Olbrich Gardens with friends on Saturday before the big blizzard hit. They have a special train and poinsettia room this time of year.

Lots of poinsettias, amaryllis and trees. There is a train track that runs around the whole room through the foliage.

Cool birdhouses. This one was my favorite with a deer antler perch.

The cardinals are origami! There were origami blue jays and other winter birds tucked everywhere.



There were also some lovely gingerbread houses


I couldn't decide if this birdhouse was a lighthouse or a salt shaker, but either way, I liked it!
After getting a good dose of Christmas, we went into the tropical conservatory where we saw real birds, and basked in the moist tropical heat.
Cheery canaries
A plethora of quails
Koi fish
Tropical cousin Itt plant

Quite a welcome contrast from the blizzard that was to strike a couple of hours later!
Next Up: Snowpocalypse 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Spirit

I've been woefully depleted in the Christmas Spirit department this year, but I did have one small spurt of inspiration last Friday night.

I made Caramel Corn. Then I packed it up and parceled it out right away. This is one treat I don't want around. A bag of cheeseless corn puffs, 1 cup of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar and half a cup of Karo!


Oh, it'll kill ya, but what a way to go! (Recipe over on Molly Bee's Kitchen)

I knit a couple jelly bean mice for Mum's cat Punkin. I'll be seeing her soon and she's very....um...choosy... about who she likes. It's always good to have bribes in your pocket just in case.
And I wrapped gifts. These aren't the ones I wrapped. The ones I wrapped are pathetic. These are from a friend who has MAD SKILZ in the wrapping department! I love the ribbon. It looks like a Christmas 'film strip'!

So I finally put a little Ho Ho in my holiday but it was short lived. Anybody got a little extra holiday spirit to share?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Doldrums

Despite the upcoming holidays, I've been in a rut so deep I could hang up posters. Work, work, and more work, cold, cold, cold and more cold, and the wrist injury that prevented me reducing stress by knitting have combined into a one-two-three-martial-arts move that has leveled me the last couple of weeks. I need a serious break....
The good news is that I finally regained wrist control as far as knitting goes (still iffy on the guitar playing much to my neighbors' and Ben's delight) and I've been able off and on on this:


It's St. Enda by Alice Starmore. I spent a frustrating hour trying to find some sign of it on the interwebs before realizing that it's not St. EDNA! But anyway. It's kind of fun, and I really like the way the Blackberry Ridge yarn pops the cables.

Ben's going through a bit of a rough patch these days too. His feet get so cold when he goes outside that he tries to run around on three legs, holding one foot off the ground to keep it warmer. That doesn't work so he tries holding up 2 at a time. His personal best was a brief nanosecond when he may have actually levitated just before crashing to the ground. His solution is to do his business outside as quickly as possible and let Sheldon warm his feet.

" Sheldon, please warm my feet with your sheepy wooly goodness."

'Oh, that's better already...'

'Ohh it feels so good!'

Not an outdoors-in-the-winter kinda guy, our Ben. I can relate. Now we're off to make some treats for the neighbors to warm things up around here. May you all be safe, warm and happy!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Houston, We Have a Situation!

The landing was a little rough...
And...uh, it looks like a water takeoff is out of the question....
I think I'll just wait here 'til spring.



Sunday, December 05, 2010

11/22/10 Thunderstorm

Just getting around to downloading these amazing cloud pics from the week before Thanksgiving. We got a summer-like thundershower with tornadoes! Very rare for November. Impressive clouds.










Mr Mole

Really blurry pic but that little black spot in the middle is proof the Mr. Mole is alive and well and survived the Ben's Mouth Molewash he went through earlier. I'm happy to report that he is all fluffed out again after his ectoplasm bath!




Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sporadic Posting

Sorry for the lapse in posts lately. I have a brace on my right wrist to combat some tendinitis so typing is ouchie right now. Seems writing 200 Christmas cards, knitting a cable sweater, playing guitar (however badly) and 20 extra hours of computer work a week is destructive to ones wrist joints. Who knew?

Anyway, I promised to tell you about my new super power and I know you've been waiting on pins and needles (Needles! Get it knitterly friends?). I often send my scientists out to different places to do talks, seminars, instrument installations or trade shows. When they go, I make them a little travel packet that has airport maps, area maps, hotel information, weather etc. for each city they'll be in. I was making one for one of my kids who went to Maryland a couple of weeks ago. One of the pieces that goes in the packet is a list of the 10 closest restaurants to the hotel and I noticed that one of the restaurants was a place called 'Cheeburger Cheeburger' (like the old Saturday Night Live sketch). I jokingly told her that she'd better not come back to the office without a t-shirt from that restaurant!

The next week I come in to the office and there on my chair is this:

Holy Crap! I had no idea. I wielded this kind of power! Imagine! Being able to prohibit people from returning to their job without first laying an offering to the alter of ME! With great power comes great responsibility so I'll have to use it wisely. Next person that goes out on a trip hadn't better show up without a Lambergini and a box of See's Chocolates! And a hedgehog. And M&M's but only the green ones....

Anyway... over the next several days I'll post some pics I've had kicking around and save the wear and tear on the hand. Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Counting My Many Blessings


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,

...chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today and

creates a vision for tomorrow.

-Melody Beattie

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bits and Bobs

Mr. Bentley and I had a busy weekend. Friday night was Knit Night at the Sow's Ear and the gang and I stayed until the last gun was fired at 11:15 or so. I got a Christmas present finished and started on another one so it was productive as well as fun. (I'm working on several projects right now but at this time of year, you can't talk about any of them. It's the 'Santa Clause' in the knitted gifts contract I've never seen it so crowded at Knit Night before. At one point I had another lady practically in my lap. Good way to make 'close' friends I guess!

Saturday morning Ben and I went to friends' to meet their new furbaby Murphy. It's really hard to take pics of an active puppy but at least you get the general idea of his amazing cuteness.

He and Ben got along fine except for the part where Ben was trying his best to ignore Murphy so he could eat sticks and branches in peace, and Murphy nipped him in the butt to get his attention. Ben told him in no uncertain terms that that was not allowed and Murphy ran away yipping. He came back in just a few minutes and groveled his apologies and all was fine again.

We put the pups up and took a brisk walk down to The Great Dane Pub for lunch and to catch the end of the UW football game. Then Ben and I headed home to pick up friend Rob to go second hand shopping. We were on a mission to find particular items but of course we found a treasure that we weren't looking for and that wouldn 't fit in the car so we came home, got alternate transport and went back over to pick it up. The treasure in question was a beautiful rustic branch chair like Rob's grandfather used to make. I'm so jealous because I just love it, but alas, there is no room at Chez Bee (and, as it turns out, in the Bee family vehicle) for it. I'm glad Rob got it so I can at least go visit it!

This morning friend Scott came over to pick me up and we went to his aunt's house for a visit and then out to breakfast. His aunt is an amazing lady. It was a pleasure to meet her and it's always a pleasure to spend time with Scott. The coconut pancakes weren't bad either!

Then it was back home to pick up Rob and hit another second hand store to see if we could find the things we couldn't find yesterday. Joey chaperoned this time to make sure we didn't come home with any more furniture. We just went there and back again since it's such a dreary dismal day today.

So all and all, lots of comings and goings. Ben was thrilled to meet his new fur bud and to have friends in to play tug of war with him and Sheldon Sheep off and on all weekend. He was equally thrilled when we curled up in our nest and took a well deserved nap! It was the perfect rainy November afternoon for it!

Hope you all had a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving weekend and that you have as many things to be grateful for as I do!

Next up: Yet another heretofore undiscovered superpower!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The November Drabs

A lot of folks in my life are grumbling about the November drabs. The leaves have fallen. All the pretty is gone. I beg to differ. Exibit A: this morning's sunrise.







Sometimes you just have to get up early to see the pretty!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guitar Lessons-The Free Puppy of The Music World

I started taking guitar lessons about a month ago. I’ve had a guitar that my folks gave me for my birthday one year when I still lived in Maine and it’s been artfully displayed in various apartments, duplexes and houses, but never actually played. I took it to a music store right after I got it and the man behind the counter made beautiful sounds come out of it. I kinda figured he must’ve used all of the nice sounds up because once I took it home I never heard them again in all of these years. When a guy at work starting advertising 30 minute guitar lessons for $10 I thought, ‘That’s pretty cheap. Why not?’ and signed up, as I am wont to do, before I had a chance to consider all of the consequences:

Dehydration-So far he’s only teared up a little. He’s very stoic. But as the weeks drag on and I don’t improve, it’s only a matter of time before my teacher throws himself on the floor, banging his head and sobbing uncontrollably ‘Make it stop…For the love of all that’s holy, just make it stop!” Note to self: Buy stock in Kleenex and Gatorade.$$

Shift In The Housing Market- As I get less 'tentative' with my practicing (i.e. louder) I anticipate a mass exodus from my apartment building. Note to self: expect rent hike as only resident in 20 unit building. $$

Lawsuits: See Shift in Housing Markets above. Note to self: Start socking away legal fees and possibly bail money. $$

Veterinary Expenses- See' less' tentative above. I anticipate a change from the current dirty looks and heavy sighs I get from my canine companion whenever I play (everyone’s a critic!) to excessive pawing of ears and permanent hearing loss. Note to self: Buy antibiotic ointment and find doggie sign language teacher.$$

Personal Therapy-As this little venture goes on, I’m really going to need to see someone about the fact that I am physically/mentally unable to keep strumming with my right hand at the same time I am supposed to be changing chords with my left. My teacher keeps insisting I can, even though I’ve proven him wrong over and over and over again. Note to self: Find counselor to help me deal with my ‘disability’ and give guidance on how to explain to my teacher that, even though HE can do it, he's a freak of nature, and that strumming whilst chord-changing at the same time is, in fact, humanly impossible. $$

Therapists for my teacher-Note to self: Find a psychologist to deal with the issues in the first bullet point as well as helping him to deal with the new-found knowledge that he is a freak of nature. Also look for physical therapist to help him deal with that nervous tic he seems to be developing. $$

Much like the concept of a ‘free puppy’, I can see how this $10 Guitar Lesson thing is going to cost me a bit more than advertised! With the ‘progress’ (and use that term EXTREMELY loosely) I’m currently making, the ‘Molly Bee and The Monotones- Dazed And Disheveled World Tour' won’t be hitting a stage near you anytime soon, so I’d better devise alternative ways of raising funds for this endeavor. Psssst! (looks to both sides and pulls open one side of her trench coat) Wanna buy a Rulex watch? Cheap?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Halloween Redux

Nothing like getting your Halloween post out a week late! I finally came down off the sugar buzz today and realized that I hadn't posted in a while. Shame on me because around these parts, we take Halloween very, VERY seriously. Here are just a few of my friends (dressed as their alter egos)...

The Queen of Hearts
Snow White

The Situation and Snookie

Rob, Joey and I got a jump on the holiday by carving our pumpkins earlier in the week. Then I spent Halloween day making finger food for my office party on Monday.

We had a costume contest ...

Witch, Emo Roker, Tommy Lee, Mad Scientist and yours truly dressed as a Tropical Depression (That's a bottle of Prozac I have in my hand).

You know how brave ol' Ben is; here's a picture of him and Sheldon watching the Trick Or Treaters from the safety of their own nest.
But at least he's in costume. I recognize a 'Mr. Depressed Because All Of The Kids, Candy, Pats, and Fun Are On The Other Side Of The Sliding Glass Door and I'm Inside' when I see one.
Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Punkin Pirates and Pizza Party

I am so blessed to have the best bunch of fun friends ever in my life. Tonight, Rob and Joey invited me over to have some pizza and carve our pumpkins for All Hallow's Eve. It's their first Halloween in Madison and their furbaby, Bobo's, first Halloween ever! Rob carved the big pumpkin with the witch. Somehow I came away without a picture of Rob or of his lit pumpkin but it's awesome. You can see it there in the foreground The first one he's ever carved. He's a natural!

And show-off Joey free handed the little cat pumpkin for Bobo since, with his lack of opposable thumbs, he was having problems doing in himself. If you look back in the first pic, you can see that he performed all of the necessary quality assurance tests before he pronounced it pumpkinrific!
I fiddled with mine until theirs were finished, then we had pizza and a visit, then I fiddled with it some more until I got the result I wanted. I've never been known for being the quickest knife in the pumpkin.

It's pretty gnarly in the daylight, but I like the way it looks when it's lit.

This year I'm only putting it out in the evening when I'm here and bringing it in the rest of the time, or covering it or something. The squirrels munched the face off my Bentley pumpkin last year before Halloween even rolled around. How rude! But how could they resist. I'm betting a Bentley pumpkin is extra sweet. What pumpkin did YOU carve this year?