Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ethan Frome

Our book club book for January was Ethan Frome.  Good thing, too, because it was a short, easy, heartbreaking read.  On the surface, it could just be looked at as a sad tragedy - a somewhat Romeo and Juliet that didn't quite turn out the same way.

But I think if it is looked at a little more deeply, Wharton captures the difficulty of being a part of the working poor.  The grasp poverty has on those in its grip is demonstrated well in this book, and despite his best efforts, Ethan does not seem to be able to escape.  He is not lazy - he works hard - but the stars never seem to align for him.

Wharton's writing sets an exquisite scene, making the read enjoyable despite the very sad story.  For someone wanting a quick, "classic," read, this would be the one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Teddy Bear Toast

Grandpa Norton is not known for his dietary acumen.  But he is known for making fun food and snacks with the kids.  When Kenneth and Diana were little, he would bake blueberry muffins with the kids while I slept in.  They baked them through high school and even into college.  One of the kids favorite traditions.

So when Papa saw Teddy Bear Toast, he decided he needed to make it with Caleb.  After getting permission from Mommy, Papa made himself some TBT for the little guy and showed it to him.  Needless to say it was a great hit!

Christmas, 2016

What a fun time Christmas is when little ones are involved and the whole family can be there - Aunt Diana, both sets of grandparents!  We missed Aunt Kara, Uncle Samer, and baby Eva, but we got to see them over New Year's, which was fun!

This was the first year Caleb really understood what was going on, and although a lot of it was beyond him, he understood enough to know it is a really fun time!  We went to church on December 23.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but surprisingly to me, I liked it a lot.  It made December 24 a much more relaxed, family time.

On Christmas Eve, we sang a few Christmas carols throughout the day, made sure Decembear found Christmas, watched Teddy and Santa in the musical church, and talked about Baby Jesus.

That night, Caleb received his Christmas Eve book, as did everyone else, and then we put the flour out to capture Santa's footprint.  He didn't quite get the concept of the footprint, but we now have a plaster cast to prove Santa was there . . . and next year he will be able to compare it.

The next morning, we all showed up in our Christmas pajamas.  We have only done that once before, but I have to say, I loved it.  Now we can just continue to purchase the same ones for Caleb and his little sister (yes, little sister that we found out about on Dec. 23), while the rest of us can wear the ones we bought for this year.

When Caleb came downstairs, he was totally overwhelmed by all of the new Santa presents.  He loved his kitchen (never mind the three hours of assembly the night before), but temporarily, the weed whip became the hit toy.  He wore the goggles and everything - he was a very safe weed whip operator!

It took us over two hours to open gifts, but with Caleb helping everyone else, it was a great time.  And he was so good . . . I have to admit, it was great fun watching him from the eyes of a Grandma.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Our December book club read was The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.  I had no idea what to expect from a book with that title, but indeed, that was what it was about.

The author describes the book as an intellectual book - that is stupid.  Yep.  That is what it is.  Forest Gump in a different age.  One must know their history to really appreciate the book, and although I found it an incredibly stupid read, the terrific writing and challenge of keeping up with the history kept me on my toes.  Many of the women in our group loved it . . . and it was quite funny in many places.

If a person is in the mood for a light-hearted, ridiculous book, this is the one I would recommend.

Three Old Ladies, Whiskey and Cookies

My friends, Kathy Dunlavy and Ginny Marti, and I got together to bake cookies before Christmas.  I chose not to make any, as this family really does not need  them, but I enjoyed getting together with these crazy ladies!  Not only do they make me laugh, but Ginny's pup, Finn, does, too.

Ginny made some cookies that resemble fruitcake, except they are crispy and tasty (disclaimer - I like fruitcake, so fruitcake jokes are lost on me).  Anyway, Ginny mentioned that one of the ingredients in the cookies is whiskey.  She had decided to taste the whiskey and she liked it . . . so she brought out the whiskey for us to taste.  Kathy had been through a whiskey distillery several years ago, and while there, she learned there are ways to drink whiskey . . . and ways not to . . . but she couldn't remember.

So Karen, always the Googlemeister, looked it up.  The best way to drink whiskey is neat.  Well, that didn't help.  Once we learned "neat" means straight, while swishing it around in your mouth, we at least understood.  The next best way is on the rocks.  So Kathy tried it "neat."  It nearly took her breath away, and she wasn't convinced that swishing it in her mouth made any difference.  I chose not to indulge . . . it just didn't sound appealing.  But I learned a little about whiskey.

(Several days later, while having some egg nog, I mentioned the above story, and Susan said her family always used whiskey in egg nog.  We dug out some of our whiskey [which is from the late 70's - Hiram Walker, whose distillery closed in the '80s] and put just a little into the egg nog.  I tasted Don's, and I have to admit, it did add a little to the taste of the egg nog.  We didn't put enough in to cause the burn in the throat, and I thought it was ok, but not ok enough to put in my own egg nog!)