Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Information Please

I just received this in an email and it touched a place in my heart.  I wanted to share it with you. 

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighbor-hood.  I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.  Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know.  "Information Please" could supply anyone's number and the correct time.   My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.  I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.   The telephone!  Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing.  Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.  "Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.  A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear:  "Information". 

"I hurt my finger...." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.  "Isn't your mother home?" came the question.  "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.  "Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.  "No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."  "Can you open the icebox?" she asked.  I said I could.  "Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.  After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.  I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was.  She helped me with my math.  She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.  Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died.  I called, "Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child.  But I was not consoled.  I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"  She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, " Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."   Somehow I felt better.  Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."  "Information," she said in the now familiar voice. "How do I spell fix?"  I asked. 

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.  When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston.  I missed my friend very much.  "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.  As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.  Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity,  I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle.  I had about a half-hour or so between planes.  I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now.  Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."  Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.  "Information".  I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying,  "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"  There was a long pause.  Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."  I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"  I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me?  I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."  I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I  could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.  "Please do", she said. "Just ask for Sally."  Three months later I was back in Seattle .... A different voice answered,  "Information".  I asked for Sally.  "Are you a friend?" she said.  "Yes, a very old friend," I answered.  "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick.  She died five weeks ago."  Before I could hang up, she said, "Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?"   "Yes." I answered.  "Well, Sally left a message for you.  She wrote it down in case you called.  Let me read it to you.."  The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.  He'll know what I mean."  I thanked her and hung up.  I knew what Sally meant.  Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.  Whose life have you touched today?  

This is a nice story.  The words "there are other worlds to sing in" remind me of what I wrote earlier about Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem.  Sing in the Heavens, boys.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to say that I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day, and that your travel, if any, was safe and without incident, especially considering the weather in the mid-West.  I cooked the turkey I had planned to cook for Thanksgiving (but could not lift because I hurt my hand/wrist), made stuffing, a veggie, and had cranberry sauce and shared with a neighbor.  Now the dishes remain but they can wait until tomorrow.  I stood long enough.  Tomorrow or Sunday I will make soup, and fill the freezer!  My best friend sent me a gorgeous handbag, lovely shades of brown and turquoise in a metallic fabric - now I need a place to go to be worthy of carrying it!  A doll friend sent me a lovely outfit she had made for Bleuette, a Jester costume, and I know one of the girls will look beautiful in it. 

We just surprised this same friend, who has had a terrible time of it these past few years, with a terrible neighbor who has destroyed property, threatened, etc.  After some pointed questions on the group, we discovered what she would consider an ideal Bleuette, and one of the doll artists kindly agreed to make one for us.  About 22 people contributed financially, and some even made some doll clothes for her.  The artist, Barbi Kantor-Goldenberg, does a superb job with every doll she paints, and this lovely doll was no exception.  She also made and embroidered her dress from a vintage hanky.  The package arrived two days ago but we made Phyllis wait until today to open.  Since she is visiting out of state, we have to wait until tomorrow to hear how surprised she was.  Never in a million years would she expect what we sent her and I am glad we were able to surprise her.  The doll is a reproduction SFBJ 60 8/0, and Barbi's version is superb.   The first photo is the outfit I received from Phyllis for Christmas.  The second photo is the doll we sent her.   

Another doll friend sent me some wonderful small gifts for my Hitty dolls.  A neighbor gave me a cute ceramin apple that held tasty strawberry candies, and I bought myself (with a 50% off coupon at Michael's) a Cuttlebug so I can emboss card backgrounds as well as do some die cutting.  Now if only someone would come and do the dishes!  What a present that would be.  Merry Christmas everyone.  Hope your day was wonderful. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I am just taking a minute out from baking Cranberry-Orange bread, to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!  I did not get all my cards made, but the ones that are still here will either arrive late at their destinations, or I am way ahead for next year!  Merry Christmas to you and yours. God bless us every one!  Here is the recipe which came from a book I bought for my oldest son many years ago.  The book was called Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin.
2 C sifted all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1-1/2 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
1/2 teas baking soda
1/4 C butter or margerine1 egg, beaten
1 teas grated orange peel
3/4 C orange juice
1-1/2 C light raisins *
1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
(May substitute all cranberries for the raisins)
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg, orange peel and orange juice all at once. Stir until evenly moist. Fold in raisins and cranberries, or all cranberries.  Spoon into greased 9 x 5 x 3 pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes (until tester comes out clean). Remove from pan and continue to cool on rack. Enjoy! Fabulous with orange butter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More House Mouse Christmas Cards

I am still making Christmas cards, and having such fun.  So far, I have been using only House-Mouse images.  So many supplies still to get.  I have discovered an art store within an easy driving distance and they have much of what I need, so it looks like I will be spared a trip into Center City Philadelphia.  I am having a very hard time getting good images inside as the flash washes out the colors on the cards.  Today, I tried taking some shots outside with my small digital, but also took them with my Canon film SLR, which I will get copied onto a CD and load the old fashioned way.  I doubt I will ever give up my film Canon, no matter how much I want a digital SLR.  Santa, do you hear me????

Anyway, here are today's photos.  I hope you enjoy them.  The first image, "Believe",  is from the Joyous Flight stamp.  The second image, "Joy to the World", is from an image I cannot identify.  Someone was kind enough to send me some stamped images when I first joined the House-Mouse group.  The third image, "Noel", is from the Peppermint Treats stamp.   The fourth image, "Peace on Earth", is from a stamp of the same name. 

I am having such fun!  There is glitter everywhere, but it's just me, and I will clean it up later.  It is not evident in the photo, but the Christmas ball with the wee mousie inside, is dusted with an ultrafine glitter called "Snow" and it gives just the right effect.  I will try to post more tomorrow.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Exchange Cards

I've been coloring House Mouse images for over a week, working with Prismacolor and Derwent pencils and finally have something to show for my efforts.  I am not happy with the way the camera is showing the cards, however.  I will try again tomorrow in different lighting, even if I have to take them outside.  However, I do want to get them posted, so I can post the one in non-traditional colors on the House Mouse Monday Challenge blog.  Enjoy.  There will be a few more.  For each photo I will show the face of the card and the inside.   The first stamp is called "Perfect Harmony".  The second is called  "Peppermint Treats". 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas cards and gifts, fa la la la la

I've spent this week making Christmas cards with rubber stamps and colored pencils - oh, and glitter, ultrafine type.  Must not forget the bling.  I fear I and my carpet will forever be sporting bits of Cystalescent Glitter, ultrafine, in blue - which is truly the loveliest shade I have ever seen - but it is on my pajamas, my rug, in my hair, on my hands.  You know.  You have worked with glitter. Anyway, inbetween coloring in the images, and cursing under my breath when the point of a Prismacolor pencil snaps off in the sharpener (there is a technique to sharpening a Prismacolor pencil, believe it or not!), I have been reading e-mails on the card and scrapping groups, and following links, of course.  I just saw one that floored me, and I had to share.  It's for Hot Chocolate on a Stick!  Have you ever heard of anything so wonderful?  It seems a little labor intensive, but I am sure the result makes it worthwhile, as does how long it will last in a plastic bag - but do not get water in the chocolate.  I know that from watching the Food Network.  It will make it seize and nothing can fix it.  Anyway, here is the link.  Yum, sit back and enjoy,  and then make some for Christmas presents!  (You can send me some too)!Hot chocolate on a stick   Enjoy!

Oh, the technique for sharpening Prismacolor pencils - regular and watercolor.  If possible, get a sharpener for sharpening eye liner, at the makeup counter.  Hold it so that the opening is towards the ceiling, yes, towards the ceiling, not sideways or horizontal.  Hold the pencil between thumb and index finger and twirl in the opening.  Being vertical will alleviate the pressure on the pencil point, thus keeping it from breaking.  I needed this advice because in less than one week, one pencil is half its original size, from the point continually breaking each time I tried to sharpen it.  ADDENDUM:  Prismacolor actually makes their own sharpener.  It's $6.00 but it really works, without breaking off the points.  I got mine at A.C. Moore but I believe Dick Blick also carries it.

On the House Mouse group, there are two Christmas exchanges going on - one is a One on One, in which you get the name of a person for whom you make a card and in the second, you send cards to the two person whose names appear under yours on the exchange list.  I got one card yesterday and another today, but the camera batteries died before I could take a photo of the one received today.  Here is the one from yesterday - the photos does not do it justice at all.  It had to take the maker many, many hours and it is truly fabulous.   Clicking on the photos will show you larger views.  I will post the other photos once I get new batteries for the digital camera.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A great voice is silenced

I think it was a year ago when I learned, belatedly, that Tommy Makem, the Bard of Armagh (and of Ireland, truly), had died.  I felt my heart would break as I had had the absolute joy of having seen him and the Clancy Brothers live at Marquette University back in the late 60s, when Tommy sang right to me.  I saw  Tommy and Liam again in 1986 at Frank Brittingham's Irish Pub, Lafayette Hills, PA.  I was three rows from them as the venue was small, and how I enjoyed this performance.  The years had diminished them in no way at all.  Now, both voices are forever silenced, with the recent passing of Liam Clancy, on 12/4, at age 74!  I cannot believe he was that old as he always seemed so full of life.  He died of pulmonary fibrosis.  While I liked the Clancy Brothers as a group, I LOVED Makem and Clancy, especially Four Green Fields, Peter Kagan and Sound the Pibroch.  What truly astounded me was that Tommy Makem remembered singing Four Green Fields to me at Marquette, and remembered that I was "the pregnant young lady in the front row" - and yes, I was, expecting my first child, my only daughter.  He looked at me and said "I hope you never know the pain that the 'mother' in this song has experienced".  Of course, the song spoke of a broken Ireland, part in bondage.  Tommy, if only you knew!  So now their voices are stilled, at least in our world, and they are all together again, singing in Heaven, while we can only remember and be grateful we knew who they were.  Yes, I will remember.  Thank you both for all the joy you have brought me with your music.  Liam, I am glad your suffering is over. 

So, in saying "Goodbye", let me share with you one of my favorite Makem and Clancy songs, and let us all lift a "parting glass" to Liam and the others, for all the joy they have brought so many.  God bless you, boys!  Say Hi to my Dad!

The Parting Glass

O, all the money e'er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm that ever I've done,
alas it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit
to mem'ry now I can't recall;
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

O, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away.
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wished me one more day to stay.

But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Then fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Good night, boys.  It was a grand ride you had.  You will be missed!  Ireland will be more the poor for your loss, as are we.