Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Doldrums

Hi Dear Folk,

Are we in the Winter Doldrums definition of which is:

Colloquially, the "doldrums" are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.

The word is derived from dold (an archaic term meaning "stupid") and -rum(s), a noun suffix found in such words as tantrum.

My mind is feeling somewhat stagnated and a little dold.  I cheered myself by buying a lovely pair of Italian socks, they are so pretty, will have to show you, knee high and covered in flowers, I just couldn't pass them by.  I always buy the packs of socks because they are cheaper, but you always make a compromise on colour because one pair in the pack will not be what you want.

Driving home from work yesterday I heard this very loud bubbling noise and sure enough my car was over heating even though it was in the twenties outside.  The heater was on, but I turned it on full blast and that bought the gauge down to normal.  I had a problem several months ago, but filling up the radiator reservoir for a couple of days fixed it, but I guess there must be some evaporation somewhere, well the car is thirteen years old, but I'm planning to hang on to it as long as possible.  Mr B. took care of it last night, even though he was very tired and did not feel like doing it, it had to be done.  He finished cooking up a pan of kielbasa, cabbage and potatoes; which he was making for tonight's dinner.  Mr. B. gets home earlier than me on certain evenings.  It's great having a husband who shares duties.

This morning on my way to work I'm stopped behind a car waiting to make a left hand turn onto the main road, I wanted to make a right hand turn, along comes the SEPTA passenger bus and can't easily make the turn onto the street we are on, the teenage girl in front backs right up and bang, she's backed up into my front bumper. She jumps out and says, "Oh my sunglasses were so fogged up."  Maybe you should wipe them off and not drive. I got out and looked, didn't see any damage, but did get her insurance, you just never know.

When Rob was little before all the "can't take them out of school for any length of time happened", this time of year we used to visit my mum and dad in the UK, the flights were at their cheapest, they ran about $400.00 and it was a nice winter break.  Flights are still at their cheapest this time of year but everything is relative, because they have gone up a ridiculous amount.  Three years ago when I attended my nephews wedding in April it was $800.00, a last minute flight the same year in August, for my mum's funeral was $1,000, now a flight in summer is $1,600.00 now that is an astronomical price increase.

One year when he was about thirteen, in Middle School I took him out for almost three weeks.  I did tell his form teacher and the Principle and wrote a letter.  Plus he had to keep a journal of his trip.  When I got home I had a pile of letters from the truancy officer, does no one communicate anymore?

I spoke to other UK friends who live over here, wondering if I was missing something, but no, you might get a package deal for three days in London and the flight for $1,600.00 this time of year but there must be two of you.  Still not the greatest bargain and I usually stay with my sister, so do not need a hotel in London, although I guess we could stay up and sight see in London and extend the visit.  These prices have really put the kibosh on things.

I think I should order seed catalogs that was what my grandfather did sat and poured over them, one can sit and dream of spring and getting out into the garden.  I do have a project in mind for the garden and it involves fencing and a hook, I will say no more, but this idea is percolating in my mind, so maybe my brain isn't such a dold.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Road to Hana a Journey

Hi Dear Folk,

Back on the road to Hana.  Less than half way the scenery starts to change again, that's what I love about an island so much change in such a short distance.

Another ranch and a few dwellings, one would need to be very self sustained here, because it's probably a two hour drive to the nearest shops.

This place was a kind of shop museum, we really couldn't make it out.  A family lived here with children.  They hardly sold anything and you were never going to make a living from that.  Were they paid to be the custodians of the little museum, preserving it and taking care of it, so nothing become vandalized?  The husband who was much older than his wife, spoke about how all roads came together for them to live here.  The shop had originally been founded by a couple of Chinese immigrant brothers.  For sure the children were home schooled, it's a conundrum.

Now this might be why they say not to drive this road, I think it's mostly because you have no cell phone contact along this road and there could be flash floods.

You can see we are now entering the lush rain forest area.  Land of the White Misty Rain.

To be continued.


P.S.  I have a Hawaiian calendar, by my desk and we are in the month of IANUALI

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Storm in a Teacup and What Was Lost Has Been Found

Hi Dear Folk,

Well we missed the big snow storm, it went out to sea 100 miles east of us, but the New England states are catching it.  No day off work, oh well! 

Happy, happy morning though.  I was in the bedroom getting dressed when I felt something against my toe, I looked down and there was my earring, camouflaged on my rose patterned rug, what was lost, my Maui Mink earring, has been found.  I must get more little plastic earring backers, you never seem to see them.  Plus I still have my seeds to look forward to in the mail.

My shawl is slow going, I will be on it for a while, but I will definitely have enough balls of yarn to finish it, as I checked the other day, and really you can make it however long you want it to be.

Take care hope your day is good.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

Hi Dear Folk,

I just found out and had to tell you that Testament of Youth was released last year as a film.  Maybe it will be on Netflix this year.

I am so excited, the last time this was produced was 1979 as a series staring Cheryl Campbell.  It was a good series and can be watched on You Tube.

Testament of Youth was written by Vera Brittain, it is an autobiography of her life just prior to WWI to the aftermath of the Great War.  She very much wanted to go to University like her brother Edward.  She fell in love with Edward's best friend Roland. She fought to attend University then took a leave of absence to train to become a nurse and help on the front. I will not go into more detail but it is an excellent read. 

My suggestion is watch the series on You Tube; which is split into multiple You Tubes, if you can read the book and then we'll all be ready for the film this year.


Maui Mink and The Big One

Hi Dear Folk,

The whole of the Northeast is bracing for the Big One, arriving sometime this afternoon and snowing for 24 hours, so they say, but you never can tell.  We are ready, Mr. B. has brought in a lot of wood to dry out and some is in the garage drying out.  Our problem is that we do not have a covered area for our wood pile, and although it gets seasoned it also gets wet, so wet and dry, wet and dry.

He also made two wonderful chicken pot pies to come out, one of his specialties and very tasty they are too.

As you know I have reading matter and crochet so will tuck ourselves in and batten down the hatches.  Probably no work.

Guess what I'm so upset I lost one of my Maui Mink earrings.  I wore them yesterday with a coat and they dangled, and even though I had a backer on them, one was lost.  You might ask what is Maui Mink, it is the name for the seeds that grow on the Mgambo Tree, which comes from Africa and was introduced to Maui.  They are call Maui Mink because they are soft like pussy willow, but grey and far more durable.  They are just lovely, like stroking a mink and I have done that as a child, because my mum used to pick up fish at Lowestoft every other week for a mink farmer.  He had to feed his minks fresh fish. 

I think the man who sold them to me at the craft show said he stood by his jewelry even pieces that were lost, so I'm hoping so.  In the mean time I got on the Internet and found some actual seeds for sale in California, so bought some to try growing a tree. 

The Mgambo Tree grows up to 15 feet high, but you can grow it in a pot, it would just have to be brought in during the winter as obviously they need an all year warm climate.  I so hope this is successful, wouldn't that be fun?

 This is what I bought:

Mgambo Tree (Black Pearl)
Majidea zanguebarica

Native to east Africa, the Mgambo Tree is sometimes referred to as the Black Pearl or Velvet-seed Tree owing to its unique velvety black seeds, which are displayed like pearls in the bright red interior of its fruit pods. So ornamental are its seeds, they are often used in artisan jewelry and the dried pods in the composition of bouquets and pot pourris. 10 Seeds.
$ 3.95         

The Road You Should Not Drive To Hana On, Maiu

Hi Dear Folk,

I'm going to take you on the Road to Hana.  This is a quite famous drive and one conjures up all kinds of images as to what Hana looks like.  Maybe it's all those Bob Hope movies the Road to Morocco.  In all honesty though it's not the destination, but the road. 

You can drive this in a big loop when you look at the map, but the southern part of the drive is on a dirt road and all the rental agencies say don't drive it and all the travel agencies say don't drive it, but all our friends said drive it, so we did and we're so glad we did, because the scenery is totally different to the northern part of the drive. 

I thought that I would include a map, so the purple section is where they say not to drive, all my photos in this post are on that section of the road.  We left the western side of the island where we were staying and by about 7:00AM were on the road heading south. You must get an early start or you will never do the whole drive in one day and even then you cannot see all you would like to stop and see.  The best thing to do would be to stop in Hana for the night, but the cheapest room in that area is over $300 per night, so most people do it in one day.  Or one can camp.

This is the beginning of the drive, all this land you see is mostly ranches, except for the town along the shoreline.  It truly is a feast for the eyes and senses.

Poinsettia bushes which grow wild on the island, butterflies dancing all over them.

A lava rock wall.

Here it is very green and lush.

All those little volcanoes.

You move out of that verdant area into this, all lava rock, but still the beauty of wild flowers and grasses flowing with the wind.

You can see it is very windy along this side of the island.

Still some ranches but more barren.

Now here if someone had dropped me on this road blindfolded and I had opened my eyes I would have thought that I was up in the highlands of Scotland or on the Isle of Skye, the scenery is so similar on this section of the road and I have been on the Isle of Skye when it has been this sunny and looked just like this.

We were so happy that we had added this section of our road to the drive to Hana.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow and Snow Geese

Hi Dear Folk,

It seems winter is upon us even though the days are gradually growing longer.  Friday night it snowed and Saturday proved to be a very grey day, the type of day where you must rally your spirits and get stuck into something or you will just stay put, and ones spirits could match the weather.

I decided to get a couple of books from the library, Dispatch from LA mentioned Patrick Hamilton, The Slaves of Solitude so on that recommendation I rang the library up, first to see if they were open and second to see if they had the book.  They did not but they did have Riverside and The West Pier.  After doing a little research on Patrick Hamilton it seems he had several of his books made into films, some more famous being Gaslight, Rope, 20,000 Streets Under the Sky released as a film The Bitter Harvest, another made into a series was The Charmer.  To be quite honest all of these are not happy themes, so I will see if I like the books.

Our library has a book club that meets every third Saturday, I used to go quite regularly, but you know how life gets in the way of a life, so have not participated for a very long while, but I thought I'd get the book for next month which is In The Woods ,by Jana French, it is a murder mystery.  I've started reading that and like it so far, so will continue on.

The last book I picked up in their little book sale area was The Arms of Krupp 1587 - 1968.  As soon as I saw the title I knew I would be interested in this.  They started in armaments making cannons, provided the munitions for all the major wars in European history down to WWI arming the Kaiser's army, making Big Bertha.  Secretly kept going between the wars and then reappeared to produce armaments for Hitler, such as the Panzer Tanks in WWII, using slave labour and even having a children's concentration camp.  Hitler gave them tax exemption that carried on after WWII.  None of the family was ever tried for War Crimes and continued on quite happily after the war.  In more recent times the government of Iran bought a 25% holding in Krupps.

Having a need to get out, Mr. B. and I decided to take a walk in the park, so here we are.  This is our local park which you've seen before in the different seasons.

This collection of old buildings is called the Dairy, and it was used for that at one time.

Shapes seem to show up more clearly in this monochromatic landscape.

We did wonder why the elbow of the branch bent down one way and then did a right angle turn back upwards.

Here is a little colour in the bark of this old fallen tree.

Or the leaves still hanging on here.

I love the walk down here because you have the constant sound of the babbling brook.

This is the brightest thing I saw, besides a red cardinal, this fungus with some lichen behind.  Isn't that an amazing colour in the winter gloom?

A little bright green here.  A Pennsylvania winter is very dull, not like in the UK where you have so much green, we just do not.

In spring the above area will burst into a carpet of yellow celandines, in the mean time it was a hive of activity with little chickadees scrapping away and flicking up dead leaves at quite a rate, looking for bugs, along with sparrows and cardinals.

Some fungus, almost like stag horn.

My snow boot footprint, a snowflake.  After this walk though I realized that I need new snow-boots, these leak and the right boot really leaks, so no good keeping them, because it is when it snows that I use them.

Look at the Canada Geese in the distance, I walked up to them to get some closer shots.

They made me laugh, because first they all started walking in one direction and then the next minute in unison they are airborne.

Have you ever seen Canada Geese come in for a landing, well they look like a Klingon space ship, the way their neck comes down, you know, from Star Trek.  I have to think the designer based the idea after seeing a Canada Goose land.

Are there sounds in your mind that you just love, I heard two on our walk,

  • Geese flying overhead
  • Babbling brook
  • Waves crashing at the seashore
  • Train tooting at night
  • Laughter of little children
The world would be a sorry place without those.

A little crochet and tea, that's my weekend.

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