In Decoratum

Last night when I came home from a meeting, there was a bit of a mess on the dining/catch everything table, including a broken shrubbery from the gingerbread house. For some reason, this made me decide to get the Christmas napkins out of the holiday cupboard under the stairs.

Five hours later… both nativity sets are together in one box and labeled, all the Christmas candle holders are with the other, regular candle holders, all the stockings and Christmas hand towels have been washed, dried, and put in their Christmas-y places, and all the wrapping supplies are–gasp–together! This is not what I had on my schedule for today, but I’m actually really happy I got this done. We’re not quite ready to do the tree yet (or most of the decorating) for various relevant but boring reasons, but when we are ready, I will be able to find everything! Yay!

And yes, I found the Christmas napkins and put them out, too. As soon as I post this, I’m going to get one to use with my coffee while I do some editing, secure in the knowledge that–for the next week or so–all is as it should be with the Christmas decorations.

Happy holidays!

PS. I wrote this on December 11th and then didn’t post it. I’ve no idea why it didn’t get posted. Now it’s after Christmas, hardly any of the decorations went up, and we had a happy, lovely, joyful holiday anyway. I’m all set for next year, lol. Hope you had a lovely holiday season too!

Pitch and hatchet

Fireplace with a fire burning and logs stacked all around.
Someday, when I build my mansion, I may add a fireplace just like this. Thanks to volunteer contributor “Coffee” and Pixabay for this image.

Three or four years ago my husband acquired three large fir trees worth of wood. Last month, because of a change in the backyard for the dogs, we now have better access to the firewood from the backdoor. I’m a wimp. If I have to go out in the rain with a bad back and haul firewood in one armload at a time, I won’t do it. But now, there’s a ramp and covered wood storage right there! New hobby!

The wood is fairly old, and some of it is soft and starting to rot. It must be burned! It must! I’m not “wasting it when we might need it some day, I’m using it up before it goes bad! Yes, yes, that’s it! So, I get my little trundle cart (we have a WOOD CART now! It’s amazing!) and roll it down the ramp (slippery, be careful), open the gate (close it again so the dogs don’t wander the neighborhood), load up the cart (it holds more than five armloads, and I can do that even in the rain), roll it back up the ramp (dogs, gate, slippery), into the house, and light a fire!

Wait, what? You mean there’s a method to lighting a fire? It’s not just throw in wood and light a match?

Now, when I was a child, we had a fireplace. I loved to watch the flames. (I still do, but now they’re in metal box, so no more lying on the couch staring into the fire. I have to kneel by the open door to watch the flames, but that’s ok, because I have more to get done these days anyway.) Mom taught me how to build a fire, over and over, fireplace, campfire, fireplace, campfire. I thought I had it down. I applied all those lessons.

Nothing. I’d get about twenty minutes of smoke, and then pfffpht. Another little pile of wood bits, more paper, another match. Cardboard, leftover candle wax, another match. A whole candle, three pine cones, more paper, and five more matches. Smoke, smoke, smoke.

Turns out, building a fire in a big metal box is different. Airflow is key. So is good wood. I made hub do it, so if he didn’t, I was fireless all day. I kept trying. One day hub says, Oh, you should use the good wood, not that stuff.

Wait, what? There’s good wood? YES. Turns out, it’s absolutely LOADED with pitch, the fire-builder’s stuff of dreams. So this morning I lived the dream. I got down on my garden kneeling pad (no carpet by the firebox), hefted the ax (smallish, but I keep asking for a hatchet, and if I don’t get one for Christmas, I will go hatchet shopping, don’t think I won’t), and split off a strip of kindling. What’s this? This honey-colored, satin-finished hard stuff? Why, it’s pitch! Dreamy fire-builder’s gold. One particular piece of wood (they pop up occasionally in the wood pile, placed there, I’m sure, by the beneficent wood-pile spirits) had loads of the stuff. I hefted that ax, cutting off the tiniest strips I could manage, laying them gently in my fire-starter-storage basket (with handle). Two strips seemed to be pure pitch (WOWZA) so I made hub chop those up into little two-inch sections with his pruning shears, which are quite up to snuff for such things.

And the smell! Or I should say, scent or fragrance. Astringent, sharp, crisp, nose-hair-curling, turpentine-like, fir-y pitch. Just delightful. Fire crackling, nose hairs curling, I stared into the flames. Ahhhhhh.

And because of the pitch, the good wood, and proper airflow…it only took one match.

Classic Car Addiction Day

Oh, wait, that’s not actually what it is. According to the Internet, July 14th is, among other things, National Collector Car Appreciation Day. The thing is, around here, it’s more of a daily addiction.

I’ve been around a changing variety of old cars all my life. My dad buys and sells old cars almost like a pro, and when I was little my mom got herself a classic Mustang (though it was almost new at the time). My hub sees classic cars as the cheapest way to go, because he can fix them himself. He does an amazing job of that, but they can still get really expensive. They are also beautiful to look at when they’re in good shape, and it’s fun to think about all they might have seen. Decades of hauling people and stuff!

So, we have–get ready–five classic Fords. There’s that ’67 Mustang of my mom’s which has endured several teenagers and is awaiting a new engine. Hub’s daily driver/workhorse (’65), his heavy-duty truck (’64), and two older model trucks that are currently just driveway decorations but will someday do the daily and heavy work instead of the ones currently in use. Classic cars everywhere you look at my house.

They’re so BIG, and expensive and time consuming and sometimes they even cause physical damage to their humans. How could we continue to love these old cars if it wasn’t an addiction?

1953 Ford Custom, banana yellow with high chrome and white seats and sidewalls
1953 Ford Custom. Photo taken at Oregon car show on Independence Day, 2017

So, when I was making our July 4th plans to attend a local small town Firehouse Pancake Breakfast, I asked Hub what he wanted to do.

“Is there a car show somewhere?”

Why, yes, there is, not more than two shakes from the Firehouse! It was a lovely show, too, lots of nice cars, several models I’d never seen before or hadn’t seen in years, and one whole block full of MG’s.

I found a new favorite in the lineup. It’s a ’53, called a “Custom” and yes, you guessed it, it’s a Ford.

AND, I got a lovely new sunhat that day, too.

Totes, Boxes, Bags, and Baskets

I think today might have to be tote day. I need to go through the house and round them all up, take stock. It’s a tote-bag round-up. Yee-haw!

I have grocery totes, gift toes, canvas totes, paper totes. Cute totes. Souvenir totes. Library totes. There are decorative boxes, plain cardboard boxes, designed-to-come-apart-and-be-put-back-together packing boxes, Priority Mail red, white, and blue boxes, and too-sturdy-to-throw-away boxes. Plastic bags-in-bags or the fabric bag-0-bags. Handled baskets, Easter baskets, napkin baskets, open baskets, and a picnic basket that’s made of metal and cloth.

All of these are useful, which is the problem. They might get used. What if I need them to carry stuff? Or store stuff? Or hide stuff? Or gift stuff?

Maybe the problem is the stuff? Instead of going through my totes and all today, should I instead be going through the stuff that’s in the totes (and all)? Some of that stuff I don’t use, it’s true. But I might use it. Someday. It could be just exactly what I need on short notice, like too short to go to the store and buy it. I might need it on a moment’s notice!

So I have to store it. Ok, well, I don’t have to store it. I could move some of it along for other people to use. So, how would I go about moving it along? Put it in boxes and haul it away? To where? What if it’s too valuable to just give away? Some of that stuff has real value.

pile of stuff at a garage sale with a caption that says "You spelled garbage wrong"

I mean, it’s not made of gold or anything, but, like, it was worth the bargain sale price I paid for it, at the very least. So, I need to get my money out of it, don’t I? Sell it? Bluss and fuster. Sorting and listing and waiting for a buyer. Give it away? Less time consuming. Better go get my bags and boxes and totes. But what if I get rid of something, and then need it the next day? No, that’s never actually happened, but it could.

Hmm, I’m gonna go get a cup of coffee while I think this through.







Just Lovely

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

When I first realized the final book in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series was to be about George, Duke of Stanbrook, I was mildly surprised. Then I thought, duh, of course! But I still didn’t understand what the deep emotional conflict would be about. George always seemed to me to be a sort of fatherly, secondary character, and for some reason that didn’t seem heroic in a romance-story sense.

I am pleased to say I was a dope. This is a marvelous story, a tragic, joyous, eminently appropriate final episode in what has become one of my all-time favorite series. Like, top five, ever.

Sigh. It’s over now, but I will read the whole series again in years to come, especially now that I’ve managed to find copies of all seven books at my local independent bookstores.

Five stars, Mary, all the way through.