Thursday, February 28, 2013

The morning playlist

This morning I'm listening to David Bowie as I drink coffee and prepare for the day. Have you heard his new single, "The Stars Are Out Tonight"? It's from his new album set for release March 12. There's also a badass video to go along with it...check it out:

How does he do it? How does he stay so hip and relevant decade after decade? Although my husband still loves The Rolling Stones after all these years, I think they sound old and washed up compared to Bowie. I can't wait for the release of the entire album!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ginger and her new best friend

It's yet another rainy, cold, nasty day here. Which is too bad, because we were hoping Ginger could have a play date with her buddy Gus. Remember Gus? The tiny 6 week old puppy that came to my party in September with his new mom? Well, he's not so tiny anymore! Although he's still growing, he already weighs over 60 pounds, and it's 60 pounds of pure puppy goofiness!

Gus is a sweetheart, and he's Ginger's new best friend....

Let's PLAY!

Puppy love

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I finally got a weekend off, and I've caught a nasty little cold. Chills, cough, congestion, sneezing, fatigue and body aches...and on top of that, the weather is lousy. It's been cold and rainy all week and it doesn't look like it's going to improve any before tomorrow night.


I had to force myself to finally get out of bed this afternoon. I took a hot shower, and that helped a tiny bit. Now for soup and tv and whiskey toddies, and all the little comforts that help make a cold more bearable.

Hope everyone is having a better weekend than me!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tea tin window garden

These tea tins came from the cafe in the bookstore where I work. The baristas are saving them for me when they're empty, rather than throwing them in the trash.  I think they make really pretty planters, and I'm getting new ones all the time. Soon I'll have a large windowsill garden!

The middle two plants are tiny orchids I got for a throwaway price at the grocery store a month or so ago. I think I paid $2.50 for each. They had little pink flowers which have since dropped off, but now that they're repotted and getting good light they're growing new leaves and roots. The other two plants are ivy that I gave to my girlfriends as party favors at our last monthly get-together. They only graced my windowsill for a day.



Sunday, February 17, 2013


For those of us that grew up this far south, even a tiny bit of snow is an exciting event. My area got a little over an inch last night, and everyone around here, young and old alike, are celebrating.

These were taken last night, from our front doorstep, while the snow was still coming down.

And these were taken this morning.....

Oak tree glazed with snow and ice.
Our front yard.

Backyard sunrise this morning.


Ice lantern.

A bird's nest from last year, hidden away in
a blueberry bush and covered with snow.

Blueberry flower buds.

Snow, buds and sky.

Nestbox on the north side of our house,
with red blooming camellias in the snow.
Ginger likes snow!

 Cold hammock.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Celebrations for Valentine's Day at our house began last night, since my sweetie and I both have to work today. In addition to the nice dinner I cooked for us, I made a special dessert.

Dark chocolate dipped strawberries

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ancestor stories

Last week I went to visit my grandmother. She is elderly (mid eighties) and lives alone in a town about 2 hours away. Grandma is my last living grandparent, and unfortunately we didn't have much of a relationship when I was growing up. She never got along very well with my mom (her daughter in law) so there was a rift there that made it difficult for me to be close to her. That's all in the past, now.

For over a year now, grandma has been making a sincere effort to have a relationship with me. She had been asking me to come and see her for months, so I finally did.  I was afraid it might be awkward after all these years, but I'm glad to say it wasn't. We had a great visit, and I discovered we have a lot in common, too. We're both avid readers, and I discovered some of my favorite books and magazines on her bookshelves. We have similar habits, and when we went out to eat with her daughter (my dad's sister) we all chose mostly the same foods. Grandma and I both love to garden, and to keep track of bird species spotted at our backyard feeders, and the list goes on. It was very interesting to see how much I have in common with a grandmother I don't know all that well.

I also got to hear great stories about our family. When grandma was a teenager, she met my grandfather while he was on leave from the air force and visiting Myrtle Beach, SC. He was the son of Polish immigrants living in Chicago, Illinois, and was fighting in WWII. (He was also incredibly handsome in the photos we have of him from his war years!) After grandma finished college (it was unusual for a woman in the 1940s to get a college education, but she was from a well-to-do farming family) she converted to Catholicism, married my grandfather, and moved with him to Chicago. Her in-laws spoke no English, and it must have been a real adjustment for her, coming from rural South Carolina to live in a large city with grandpa and his family. They proceeded to have three kids, one of which was my dad, before moving back to South Carolina in the 1950's.

I wanted to know more about my Polish great-grandmother, Angeline Czmiel. She came over from Poland around 1905 as a teenager, and met her husband (also the son of recent immigrants) after arriving in New York. She told a story about her trip across the Atlantic that has come down through the years to me. Apparently, while they were in mid journey, a woman on the boat fell overboard and drowned. My great grandmother saw it happen. The poor woman had been wearing a scarf around her neck and it floated to the surface in the spot where she went under. The teenaged Angeline watched the floating scarf get smaller and smaller as the ship sailed on. She said that that  image stayed with her forever, and she told the story of it often enough that it's now part of family lore.

Grandma said that Angeline was always kind to her. Although she spoke no English, her children would translate for her and grandma picked up a little Polish in the years they lived near grandpa's family. Angeline was a very, very devout Catholic. According to grandma, every Sunday morning the entire family had to go to mass, then to the cemetery to visit the family graves and pray. She had had two babies die early in her marriage when the family had lived in Pennsylvania, and she scrimped and saved to have the bodies moved to Chicago. She got a job in a factory during the war to send money home to relatives in Poland who were hungry, but also spent a lot of that hard earned money to buy a beautiful monument for the family graves. They are all buried in Resurrection cemetery in Chicago, and one day I hope to be able to visit the graves and leave some flowers.

Since we were on the subject of family stories, grandma surprised me with a thick folder of papers with a family history compiled about her side of the family, the Martins. I was shocked to see that someone had done a ton of research, and compiled a detailed history of the Martin family that goes back 11 generations! The very last ancestor documented (where our record begins) was a man named Jean Michaux born on the Ile de Re, France, about 1608. He worked in salt mining and later moved to London, where his daughter was married in Canterbury Cathedral in 1659. Her married name was Catherine Rembert, and she and her husband moved to what is now Georgetown, SC, where she died in the early 1700's. Apparently they were very well to do; several of her descendants had listings of their property as well as birth and death dates, and most of them had hundreds and hundreds of acres of land. By the time my grandmother was born, her family still had several large farms, even though the land kept getting divided up as the generations marched on. I never knew we had a French connection in the family, nor that we had detailed records going back so far.

So it was a very interesting visit, and I'm happy to say that I'll be going back soon. I'm truly fortunate to have a living grandparent at my age who can tell me all these stories, and that I have so much in common with!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So much to say.....

.....and not enough time to say it!!!

Things have been very, very busy around here lately. I've had a most interesting week, though.

On Tuesday I went for a long overdue visit with my elderly grandmother. We are finally developing the relationship we never had when I was growing up because she and my mother didn't get along. I was a bit nervous about staying with her (she lives 2 hours away, and I was afraid things would be awkward) but it turned out to be great! We had a good time catching up, and we have a lot more in common than I would have ever imagined. And I have some fascinating (to me, anyway) family history stories to share when I have more time to do them justice! One of my ancestors was traced back to his birth on the Ile de Re of France in 1608! I had no idea we had a French connection on her side of the family!

After I got home from the visit I finished some crafty projects around the house (pictures to follow soon!) and this afternoon I'm hosting another of my small monthly parties for my best girlfriends. Since it's Chinese New Year, we're having takeout Chinese food. And drinks, of course. It's going to be fun!

Tomorrow I hope to start catching up on my blogging. I have lots of details to share!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February walk by the creek

A free afternoon, mild temperatures, and a trip to Jeffries Creek park with the dog.....this is what today looked like in my little corner of the world............

there was a shelter with picnic tables and a fire pit, underneath an old oak tree...

beautiful slow moving water reflecting the sky......

interesting trees....


lots (and lots) of cypress knees...


the work of beavers....

and Spanish moss everywhere.


Ginger enjoyed every minute of it.


And so did we!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Robins and daffodils

February has arrived with bright sunshine, high winds, and bitterly cold temperatures. The days are noticeably longer now (we've gained more than an hour of daylight since the solstice) and some of the earliest-blooming trees are beginning to show tiny new buds, despite the cold. The birds are busy all day at the feeders, and are very vocal this time of year. It's almost the beginning of their nesting season, after all.

The day before our coldest night yet, huge flocks of robins arrived in the area. We first started noticing them two days ago around our neighborhood and in our back yard. There must have been several hundred of them at least. Then yesterday GB and a friend of his went out hiking around the Pee Dee river (deep in the woods and swamps around the water) and they saw even more massive flocks of robins. He said they were everywhere, in the trees and on the river banks and flying around.  I know I've never seen so many at once around our house, and the river is 10 miles from here. Apparently thousands of them have moved south into the area to avoid the current cold front sweeping the east coast. Today most of them seem to be gone. My guess is they're moving on, further south where it's warmer. Smart birds!

Yesterday I discovered a sweet little clump of daffodils blooming in a slightly sheltered spot in our back yard. I've never been able to resist picking daffodils, so they had to come into the house with me! They're currently brightening up our kitchen windowsill:


Even flowers probably appreciate a respite from the icy winds outside!