Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas in the City

Had a wonderful time in the city
I smile when I recall
The space, the songs, the company
I really had a ball

"Annie's Other Song"
John Denver

This song has been going through my mind since we
arrived back home last Thursday after spending Christmas in New York City.

Daughter #1 (KP) and her husband (K) are now living there and invited us to come for the holiday. Daughter #2 (KE) and her beau (A) were going to spend Christmas with his mother, who lives near the city, so they drove us in, which was very convenient since driving in the city is not something we'd volunteer to do! The traffic going in and out was amazingly sparse compared to the usual teeming mass of vehicles. It proved to be a perfect time to visit.

We saw the huge tree in Rockefeller Center the day after Christmas (Boxing Day for the Aussies and Brits)

On Christmas Eve KP and K took us to a jazz concert at Lincoln Center. Ann Hampton Calloway was performing and she was fabulous! Her back-up trio on piano, base and drums was wonderful too. She's a great entertainer with a beautiful voice. It was a really fun night. Unfortunately they didn't allow photos so I didn't take my camera. I was really sorry to miss getting some shots of Lincoln Center which was decked out in absolute splendor. They won the prize for the best light show. It was gorgeous! Midtown was looking really spectacular. What a time to be without a camera!!

Went to church on Christmas morning at St. Paul The Divine Cathedral

It's such a magnificent building!
The service was beautiful, with lots of Christmas carols being sung. There was such an echo in the sanctuary that the congregation was actually singing a couple of notes behind the choir, and we had to concentrate very hard to hear the sermon.

The cathedral is within walking distance and happily the weather was fairly mild. The wind was a bit nippy, but we did have some sunshine! Posted by Picasa

Our hosts - KP and K

KE came back to the city in the afternoon and the girls cooked a delicious Christmas dinner of roast lamb, baked potatoes, fancy brussel sprouts with yummy additions, and cauliflower au gratin. My contribution was pumpkin bread, eggnog cheese cake and cookies.

Here we are opening presents

Super soft homemade socks from KP for me! And we gave her a knitting book (of course!). Posted by Picasa

Ross got a lovely pair of mittens from the girl who loves to knit, and
there were many other presents, including some very good books. I got 3 new gardening books, so I'll be curling up with those on the wintery days and nights to come! KE gave me my very own mad bomber hat, so I won't have to steal Ross's anymore. His was a Christmas present last year from A and I wore it around all winter (but only on the farm!) I'm a little hesitant to be seen in public wearing one of these hats, but KE tells me they're very 'in' at the moment :) Hmmm.
Here's Ross with A and KE

Once in a while I relinquish the camera :)

We took Hanna with us to her new home and she is now officially ensconced in her highrise apartment and has made a very smooth transition from a country cat to a city cat. Here she is under the glass of the coffee table. She had to explore every possible place to play! Posted by Picasa

Ilsa was not in the least impressed with her new 'playmate' and her welcome couldn't be described as warm :)

Hanna was totally unafraid and tried hard to make friends, but Ilsa just hissed and hid in the bedroom the entire time we were there. She's rather a shy kitty. However, I talked to KP today and she was pleased to report that the two are now friends and playing happily together. Well, she's not really sure that Ilsa is altogether happy about it, but she is playing. Posted by Picasa

On Christmas afternoon KP and I went for a walk in Central Park. It's pretty even in it's winter colors. There were quite a few people out for a brisk walk or a stroll, even though so many people had left the Big Apple for the holidays.

I really liked these 'natural' decorations, but the city decked out in lights and baubles is quite a sight to see. I'll post more photos next time.

Jasmine is missing Hanna and so are we, but we're happy that she has a loving home and a kitty friend, who's learning to like her. She's a very adaptable cat and did amazingly well on the trip. Nothing seems to phase her. She certainly looks content, doesn't she?Posted by Picasa
So yes, we had a wonderful time in the city, and Ross surprised us all, as well as himself, by really enjoying the Big Apple. It was his first visit to the city even though he was born and raised in upstate NY!

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May 2008 be a wonderful, joy-filled year, rich in blessings for all of you. I look forward to another year of friendship and sharing our corners of this big wide world.
Happy New Year dear blog friends!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We've had a snowy December here in upstate NY, but I've managed to get my Christmas shopping done in spite of the snowy roads. A little online shopping helps too. With the busyness of the season I haven't found much time for posting or visiting, but I'll catch up with all my dear blog friends after Christmas.

I've been busy baking. Pull up a chair and have a piece of my shortbread and a glass of eggnog, or tea or coffee, if you prefer.
My very dear friend 'Alice' in Australia left some shortbread on her computer for Ross and I to share. Thank you Alice :) You can see her cute photo
here. She has a little story to go with it :)
Blogging has given us the gift of a wonderful friendship across the miles!

Or try one of these little teacakes which have lemon frosting.

I baked zucchini and pumpkin breads as gifts, but there's enough for us to serve to guests too. The veggies came from Ross's garden and are saved in the freezer for future loaves. Posted by Picasa

Remember the reason we celebrate Christmas....the baby Jesus' birthday...the best gift of all......God's gift to us.

Merry Christmas dear blog friends, from our house to yours!!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Snow + Sun = A Pretty Day!

One of my favorite sights of winter is to look outside and see the sun sparkling on the snow. It appears to be a myriad tiny diamonds shining in the sunlight. This particular morning, December 6th, was just such a morning, so I grabbed my camera and headed outdoors.

The lightest of powdery snow could be seen glistening like a shower of jewels, blown gently by the wind and visable only against the background of the red shed. I tried to catch the sparkling snowflakes with the camera, but wasn't able to. Just a few specks are visable here against the large red shed and barn. Click on the photo to see the snowflakes better.

Posted by Picasa Murphy is almost always outside the back door, ready to walk us to the barn where the rest of the barn cats are waiting for breakfast. If you click to enlarge this photo you may just be able to see the sparkles on the snow. They show up in the larger version, but unfortunately a lot of detail is lost in the smaller pictures.

After their tummies were full the kitties found a sunbeam to bask in. There's Cleo on the left, Finnegan is the handsome white fellow in the middle, and Pete is on the right. In between are three of the kittens.

There's the man of the house, on the left, filling the outdoor furnace.....

.......and collecting the mail.

The tractors, machinery and hay wagons are snow blown in the old, sagging shed. Posted by Picasa

And Pete has found a nice spot to sit and soak up some sunshine. Do you see those icycles on the porch behind him (to the left of his head)?.........

Here's a close-up looking toward the shed I was just standing next to when I took the photo of Pete. I've been experimenting with the different modes on my Canon SLR (Rebel XTi). Here I was trying to freeze the dripping water using a fast shutter speed in the TV mode. Fascinating and fun, but much practice is needed to gain understanding and experience. A good tutor wouldn't hurt either!

The gourds still sit on this windowsill, needing to be replaced with some evergreen branches, if I can pull myself away from the camera and take the time to do some outdoor Christmas decorating. Posted by Picasa

There's the old barn and shale bed looking picturesque in the morning light. Can you feel the crispness in the air? It was pretty chilly!

At the feeders in the front yard a Blue Jay cracks open a sunflower seed

And the Mourning Doves take their turn too. Posted by Picasa

Sometimes they're even willing to share the space. Posted by Picasa

I went out again later in the day, when the afternoon light was casting that lovely glow over all, and now the Sparrows were enjoying the leftovers on the tray.

The snow-covered pumpkins are still so pretty that I've been reluctant to cart them off to the compost heap, but sadly, they must go. This orange one looked like a basketball! I really enjoy the fall decorations and don't like to hurry into Christmas, but it's time now, I know. Posted by Picasa

On this lovely afternoon they were encased in ice , and the sun glistened upon them, giving them a beautiful orange glow. Posted by Picasa

Back in the warmth of the house the Columnea is blooming! An elderly gardening friend gave me this cutting in late summer and I'm loving it! It's a new plant to me and I had no idea it would bloom now. What a wonderful surprise! It makes a lovely hanging plant so I want to move it to a hanging basket, or find a hanger for the pot it's in.

Aren't those blooms pretty? They add a bit of cheery bright color to the house.

Jasmine watches the birds busily eating, and sometimes squabbling at the feeders. Posted by Picasa

And little Miss Hanna has also learned that this is a fascinating way to pass the time.
You'll notice she now has a new name, and there's a funny story behind how she came by it.....

Kylie and Ko had each picked out a name but couldn't agree on which one to choose. They were watching this funny Swedish movie one night last week and there was a beautiful dog in it named Hannibal. It was some sort of collie mix with very similar coloring to Finch (the name Kylie had chosen). The owner had intended it to be an attack dog, but it was very gentle. Kylie said to Ko, "That's what Finch would look like if she were a dog." Ko replied with a smile, "And Hannibal would be a really funny name for such a small kitten." Then as the story moved along they learned that Hannibal the boy dog was actually a girl dog! So that clinched it. The same mix up! So Hanna(bal) she is! :) Posted by Picasa I know, I know....we were cringing too at the suggestion of "Hannibal" for a sweet little girl, but "Hanna", on the other hand, is pretty. We can live with that :)

Our New York winter appears to have set in. Last week was a snowy one with school closings on Monday. Today we had an icy mix, with rain last night and this morning. Walking to the barn on the ice was precarious, but was made a little easier by a path of wood ashes sprinkled by my sweet husband. I appreciate all those thoughtful things he does :)

Have a great week everyone!