Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Special Gift.

I was surprised by a little gift my sister #2 gave me on Christmas Day.
There are five of us sisters and somewhere she found a "Five Sister Pin"...and I love it!
I by the way am the middle child..
It is unseasonably cold here in North Texas...but since warm weather starts popping
up around here as early as February....I guess I will just enjoy the cold.
Happy New Year To All!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

I couldn't let the day go by without wishing you, my blogging friends, the Happiest of Holidays!

I have been busy scurrying  around getting ready for my family to arrive this afternoon...thirty four of them at last count! Too many people for a sit down dinner, so we are just having what they call heavy hor d' oeuvres and desserts. My smokey beef cheese ring above.Three peppercorn pork tenderloins are in the oven to be sliced and served on dinner rolls....and my sister's are all bringing a dish.
On the dessert table.. my three layer spice cake with butter cream icing. Although I am not happy that it turned out looking more like a snowball....
and of course some holiday cheer will be served.
Where ever you are I hope you are happy and healthy and as we say
at our house:
A Very Merry Christmas to All!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


This is not a great picture, but you get the idea. I had lunch here today and the decorations sort of take your breath away when you step through the door. Crazy as it seems, only a few Christmas decorations have been added. They tell me that most of these lights are here all of the time. Once you get use to it....the place it is certainly oozing with atmosphere.
In case you are interested, it is a Mexican Food Restaurant in Arlington, Texas which is one of the towns between Fort Worth and Dallas.
I was here for a very special reason. My great niece, Maddy (my sister's granddaughter) is in the states for a short Christmas visit,and I was lucky enough to snag her for lunch. You see everyone wants a piece of her time. Maddy for well over a year has been living in a small village in the mountains of Tanzania where she is a Peace Corp teacher.
She is the only American and the only Peace Crop teacher in her village. She lives in a new three bedroom home. Sounds lovely until you learn that there is no electricity, running water, and the kitchen,cooking stove, and squat toilet are in the courtyard. She goes into a larger town maybe twice a month to buy necessities. There is a rainy season which supplies ample water, but no way to store it for the dry months. The whole village lines up when this happens at one faucet that is only turned on twice a week. Living in the Usambara Mountain range means that the heavy water container must then be transported uphill to your house. Maddy though is not one to complain. She is very dedicated and has been working on a couple of projects to make life easier for the villagers. When ask what she misses most she will quickly answer "a hot shower".
She teaches English and Biology to enthusiastic high school students (her class above) ....teaching in both the English language and Swahili which she speaks fluently.She said if the students had a choice all of the lessons would be about biology.
Maddy in her favorite tree near the village

I adore bright young people and I am so proud that this one is in my family.
Love you Maddy.

The Lushoto region of Tanzania is only about 200 miles south of Mount Kilimanjaro

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Special Invitation

 One of the perks of the  senior classes that I take at Texas Christian University is that we can also sign up for special interest groups. I joined The Art of Fort Worth and today we were once again invited to  the MorningStar Oil and Gas building downtown to view Joy Webster's 19th Century Nativity Scene. It not only depicts the usual manger scene...but a whole village of figurines dressed as they would have been in the Renaissance era  of an Italian Village.
click on photo to enlarge
Ms. Webster has been collecting these from Naples Italy for the last five years

They filled a very large table in the lobby
It was amazing to me the detail.
These are just a few of the vignettes.
You get the idea
 Everything of course was made by hand,
including the baked goods.
 They even had a town drunk (with the red sash on).
You had to walk around several times as not to miss all of the little details
I especially enjoyed the expressive faces.
The Nativity scenes and the whole lobby full of precious art, restored vintage cars and even full size dinosaur skeletons is not open to the public...which seems to make the invite that much more special.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Tree

The Christmas Holidays have arrived at our house, which means that there just aren't enough hours in the day.
I took this picture of our tree when I finished decorating it. Tom and I have discussed getting a smaller more manageable one. This one is of course artificial, pre-lit and comes in three sections. The sections are very heavy and not easy to put together.Then of course you have to search and search for the plugs to connect inside the tree. None of our children will be here on Christmas morning so he didn't even want to put it up. We are on the other hand are having a large group of my family (20+) here on Christmas night for snacks and I insisted.

Do you decorate for the holidays?...or have you scaled back? I would love to hear about your customs...Janey

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Grand Finale- Tokyo

If you have been following this blog lately you know that I have been posting about our lengthy cruise around Asia. I made a statement that we had perfect weather the entire trip. Well the rain finally did catch up with us at our last stop.Tokyo
That did not keep us from going on our final excursion. The first stop was another Shinto Shrine where the rain let up momentarily. This beautiful Torii is the gate into the shrine. It is the passage way from the secular world to the scared world. You should always enter to one side leaving the center for the gods to enter.....
but wait! you must cleanse yourself at the Temizuya fountain....always cleansing your right hand first.Oops, Tom appears to be starting with his left.
There weren't a lot of tourist about due to the weather,
although there were, again, small children in traditional dress being escorted in to be blessed with good health. This little girl was arriving with her grandmothers.
All of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, a traditional wedding procession appeared.The bride wearing the Wataboshi (wedding hood) and being shaded by a red paper umbrella. The umbrella is very symbolic in these weddings and is always red. Red means life, and also wards off evil.
We were told that western style weddings are becoming more and more popular in Japan, the trend escalated after the wedding of Charles and Princess Diana, so we felt elated that we were able to view the traditional wedding party entering the shrine.

We were also taken into the center of Tokyo where the heavy rains returned...and we chose to stay dry in a cozy coffee shop before returning to the ship. Early the next morning we headed back to the USA... ready to return home, but thankful for such a wonderful trip. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Japan cont. Mount Fuji

There was a bit of excitement on board ship as we neared the port closest to Mount Fuji Natl. Park., not only from the passengers, but from the crew as well.. It seems that Fuji is a lot of the time  shrouded by clouds...but not this day!
 It rose majestically straight ahead.
Our first stop on the excursion bus was Lake Ashi which was formed by the eruption of Fuji (an  active volcano), although it has been some three hundred years  since it had erupted. You can see Mt. Fuji peaking over the hill in the distance. It stands 12,388 ft (3,776 meters)and is the tallest peak in Japan.
We will thrilled that we would be boarding this ship for a cruise on the lake. Our guide called it a Viking Ship.
 Although the crew looked more French to me.
The cruise was just wonderful and the views amazing.

I wasn't the only one enjoying myself.

Exiting the ship we boarded a gondola riding up to a lookout point where there were steam holes from the volcano.The whole area had a pungent sulphur smell.

The locals boil eggs in the steam,the sulphur turning them black and there were people everywhere  peeling and eating them. The superstition is: Eat one black egg and you will live three years longer. Eat two and you will live seven years longer. Eat three and you will live until you die.
One of our friends brought one back to the ship...but we couldn't talk anyone into eating it..
Okay folks we are finally nearing the end. Next and last stop Tokyo.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Asia cont.- Japan

I hope that you are not tiring of my photo journal of our Asian Cruise. The last few stops will be in Japan.
 After a day at sea we pulled in to the port of Kobe, Japan. Actually we backed in. Our suite was on the back of the ship, and I took this from our balcony. It was fun viewing this bridge. There was a lane for cars, one for a train and another for walking.
 It was also pretty at night.
Osaka was very near Kobe, which is where we took an excursion to Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine.
What a treat it was to be greeted by this young man in Traditional dress who was giving us all high fives!
The park surrounding the shrine was very peaceful
and there were so many picture ops.
We by the way, for the entire trip were blessed with perfect weather.
Crossing a colorful bridge into the shrine we encountered these very friendly young ladies, who were  more than happy to pose for us.
I couldn't get over all of the children in their colorful clothes
and everyone was so friendly
I finally found out why the children were in traditional dress. Seems the children are brought to the shrine to be blessed with good health ...girls before age three and boys before age five. I was trying to talk to this child's mother to get permission to take her picture. I held up three fingers and the Mom shook her head to indicate that yes she was three. Well Hold On! I guess her Mom meant she was almost three, ..because she stamped her little foot and held up two fingers.