Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two Boys and a Tree.

My dad works at a school, and when I was a kid, he often brought home discards from the school library to help meet my insatiable book needs. At that time, the school was eliminating many of its reading textbooks from the 1940s and 50s, so I got to enjoy them at home, and ended up with a deep and long-lasting fondness for the artwork and stories of that era.

There was a reader that I really loved when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. I saved many of my childhood books, but somehow that one fell through the cracks and got lost. As an adult, all I could really remember about it was that a) it was a dark blue cloth-bound reader; b) it was about a tree; and c) it took place over the course of seasons and eventually, years. I didn't even remember the title, and all the other details were hazy at best. I just remembered loving it.

Every time I have gone into a used bookstore, antique mall, or flea market in the past 20 years, I have looked for that book, never really believing I would find it. But I think I found it today!

It was on a shelf under a row of gorgeous Cherry Ames books that I'd been salivating over. I saw the cover and a very tiny bell rang far off in the recesses of my brain.

I picked it up and paged through it. It's the story of Lee and Bill and an apple tree on the farm outside their town. The town is growing. The boys spend several bucolic seasons climbing the tree to look at birds' nests, eating apples, and sledding down the hill below the tree.

But progress is unstoppable. The farm is sold, a park and a zoo are built around the tree, and a whole city is constructed on what used to be the farm. Years later, Lee and Bill bring their own kids to visit the park and zoo, and to see the old apple tree.

It all sounds very familiar. It's been so many years that I can't swear for sure that this is the book I was looking for, and yet it seems impossible that it isn't. I was fascinated with stories that showed the passing of time--I was also a huge fan of The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, which showed a similar process happening around an old country house.

The book is in decent shape, but awfully musty-smelling--I think it sat in a very damp basement for a very long time--but it was cheap and it was so unexpected to find it! Sometimes when I look through used books, I have that book in my mind, but I wasn't even thinking about it today. That made the discovery all the more delightful!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If you happen to be buying something at Amazon, and you need one more little thing to push your total over $25 so you can get free shipping...may I suggest a nice little Christmas album that I bought for that very reason?

The Joy of Christmas

I have old-fogeyish taste in Christmas music (and almost everything else for that matter.) This is an old-fogeyish album--it's almost fifty years old. It features Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This is not a quiet, contemplative album--it's a big gorgeous blast of sound, a joyful noise.

It's fantastic and it's cheap. Get it! If you're an old fogey, that is.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

So all last week, Google had Sesame Street characters on their home page, in honor of the show's 40th anniversary, and it got me to thinking about my own Sesame Street-watching days.

I came to the show slightly late, in 1976 at age five-going-on-six, when we moved from Missouri to Ohio and could get a PBS station on our TV for the first time. I remember coming home from kindergarten and first grade and flopping down to watch SS with my brother and sister, who were toddlers.

My very favorite Sesame Street Muppets were Bert and Ernie. Or more specifically, Bert. He was slightly acerbic, slightly pessimistic. He enjoyed quiet pastimes like sorting his paper clips and watching pigeons. He was always foiled in these pursuits by goofy, gregarious Ernie. I loved them both, but I could
relate to Bert. Watching classic clips on Youtube as a grown-up, I'm now aware of Jim Henson and Frank Oz workng behind the scenes, who brought so much to those characters and played off each other so well.

Love this one: Bert Feels Cold. And this one: Ernie Tries to Remember. And: What Time Is It?Ernie's Note. These are like two-minute sitcoms for kids.

My other favorite was Grover, or "lovable, furry old Grover," as he referred to himself. I loved it when he would spaz out with his pipe-cleaner arms flying around. Frank Oz was responsible for Grover, too--he sure did some wonderful stuff for us kids of the 70s and 80s, didn't he? Here Grover demonstrates Near and he is a waiter: (love the waiter skits!) The Big Hamburger and A Fly in My Soup.

That is just good stuff.

The animated segments were great, too:

12 Pinball
M for Magic
The Ladybugs' Picnic (try getting this song out of your head...I've been trying for 30+ years.)
Jazzy Spies (I didn't know what this was but I sure recognized it once I clicked!)
A Loaf of Bread, a Container of Milk and a Stick of Butter (I still recite this to myself at the grocery store sometimes.)

And do you remember The Mad Painter? I bet you do.

Thanks, Sesame Street! The memories are so much fun.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Estate sale finds.

We went to a couple of estate sales this morning, but the pickins' were slim. I got:

Last week, my mother-in-law was crocheting some clothes for my niece Anna's tiny baby doll (named Pinky Pie) and I was just pondering how sweet tiny baby dolls can be. So when I saw this one for very cheap I picked her up. She needs a bath and her dress and bonnet need cleaning and mending, but she's the perfect size to tuck into a corner and enjoy. I'll tuck the needlepoint picture into a corner and enjoy it, too!

I'm not really a huge Santa lover, but Santa mugs always make me smile. And my friend Cheryl spotted the Emily Post book first but let me have it. Now that's a real friend!

Todd found a cord for his weed whacker (hm, that sounds kind of twisted) and some woodworking magazines. So all was well and a minimum of money was spent. Then we came home and tackled the master bathroom floor, which is glued in place now. Hurray!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fall day.

While having a post-lunch cup of tea, I was looking out the patio doors and enjoying the beginnings of fall leaves in the backyard...thought I'd share them.

You can see we're getting there with the fall color, but not completely there yet. I was up in Williamsburg on Tuesday, which is only 20-30 minutes north of here, and the leaves there are much prettier. That bright blue sky is sure gorgeous, though.

And we are loving our wind chime!

It has an almost plaintive sound, very subtle, very beautiful. Today is breezy, so there's a constant series of tones playing softly from the deck. I can even hear it through the closed door. Closed because it's too cold to have it open! With what glee I type those words!

While I have the camera out, here are the Halloween ATCs from the swap I hosted in October. I put them up in the foyer, and they are just too cute to take down yet.

They look nice with my Halloween sampler. Which is also too cute to take down yet.

I guess I need to whip up something Thanksgiving-related to hang in that spot, since it's too early for anything Christmas-related. I am thinking about putting up the Christmas stuff in a couple weeks, though, so Halloween can hang around till then. We are traveling for Thanksgiving, and I would really like to come home afterwards and have all my Christmas decorating done already. It would feel so nice!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Snow pals.

Look at these cuties I found for 80% off at Ben Franklin today!

I love it when you see something cute and you pick it up and it's so cheap you can hardly believe it! It's such a rare thing, too...

They will look very cute mixed in with my Christmas decorations, don't you think?

Hm, could I use the word "cute" any more times?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Today I...

...waved good-bye to Todd's parents as they headed back home to Ohio.

...watched "The Big Bang Theory" on DVD while folding laundry.

...perused the Christmas decorations at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

...came *this close* to buying a Sinatra Christmas CD.

...started Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene.

...listened to Mozart on the public radio station.

...smelled roses, coffee, chocolate, apples, bread, nuts, pears, and spicy candles all at the same time at Fresh Market.

...plotted a chicken soup for supper to use up leftover roasted chicken and roasted vegetables from the other night.

...smelled wet leaves in the front yard and on the driveway.

...swept up wet leaf crumbs from the foyer for the umpteenth time.

...pondered what to get all the nieces and nephews for Christmas (or "ThanksChristmasgiving" since Todd's family is combining the two this year, cutting my gift buying time down to--yikes! Three weeks!)

...wished for just a smidgen of sunshine.
Just a smidgen would be fine.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Clara's Kitchen.

A year or two ago, a couple of Youtube videos were making the rounds on all the forums and e-mail lists--a 90-something-year-old woman named Clara Cannucciari, filmed in her kitchen by her grandson, cooking some of the meals that her family ate during the Depression years.

Here you can see her making Egg Drop she cooks a concoction called Poor Man's's the first "episode" where she makes Pasta with Peas. There are quite a few short Clara segments on Youtube now, and they're all charming and fascinating.

Armed with some birthday money, a coupon and some Borders Bucks, I went to Borders in search of something great the other night and found that Clara has a small book out called Clara's Kitchen, with recipes for some of the simple foods her family lived on in the Thirties, as well as some matter-of-fact memories of her life in those days.

I just couldn't resist this book. It makes me wish I had taken more time to talk to my grandmothers about their lives during those years. The stories and the pictures are so simple and yet so powerful. She writes about picking dandelion greens in the yard and mushrooms in vacant lots for dinner, eating eggplant burgers since meat was so scarce, and waiting for her dad to bring home half of his lunchtime ham sandwich for her and her brother to devour. She also writes about having to drop out of high school in her sophomore year because her family could not afford to support a child who could be out working and bringing in money.

Clara's cheerfulness and pragmatism come through on every page. This is a strong woman. You might not want to make every recipe in the book (I wrinkled up my nose at Panecotto--stale bread in milk) but you'll want to read every story. Loved it!