Friday, November 30, 2012

The 'Fogleberries' are finally for sale!

After two and a half years of working, I've finished seventeen needle-felted dolls. Some of them have been given away, and the Rainbow's End gnomes are all Elizabeth's, but that still leaves some of them sitting around. Selling them seems like a great way to make a little spending money (especially since I have an expensive set of stamp books that I'd like to own), and we've been talking about putting them on an online auction of some kind for about a year and a half.

Well, Mom and I finally did it yesterday. We put our noses to the grindstone and got to work, and as of last night, four of the felted dolls are for sale on eBay. Mom wanted a "name" for them, so we hashed out all kinds of options --- finally deciding on "Fogleberry". So, if you just search for "Fogleberries" on eBay, you'll find them. The pictures below show the four dolls that are listed.

It took a lot of work to take all of the pictures for each doll. They are not the easiest thing to photograph (being natural fiber), but the end results look just like the little dolls. I had all kinds of lamps out and a good portion of the front room turned topsy-turvy. I was pretty pleased with the end result, though. Elizabeth and I are planning on making a "Fogleberry" page on our website in the next week!
More later.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend and Lots of Visiting

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is less than a month away. It's hard to realize that. We had a fabulous weekend. Spent Thursday at Buddy and Kay's house. Elizabeth and I had a really great time playing music with Buddy. I guess you never grow too old to want to have a "play day" with your friend --- what you play just changes. :) Buddy was teaching Elizabeth how to play along on the Stand-Up Bass, and she really took to it. We even wore Buddy out a bit and ended up serenading him and Mom for a while with some folk songs. Here are some pictures that Kay took of us while we were "warming up". Elizabeth is holding a banjo in the first one.

On Friday, Buddy came up and he and Dad spent the afternoon together. Plans had been to go fishing, but it was gray and windy --- so they went to lunch and a local sporting goods store together. While they were off having fun, we "girls" went up to the Keultjes' house for dinner. Hannah was up, too, and Mrs. Furr came. All in all, it was a great evening. It's always a fun time visiting them and talking. So fun, in fact, that we stayed late. Somehow, I never get a picture. Too bad.

We were pretty worn out on Saturday, so we didn't do much at all. Went to church on Sunday, but we spent the afternoon around here. Yesterday, Mom and Elizabeth had a "secret" errand to run --- so, I stayed around here and got caught up on some laundry and vacuuming and the like. Never a bad thing to catch up on, right?! That was good, because Buddy and Kay came over in the afternoon and stayed until late in the evening. We watched two movies together. A Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy film called Boom Town. That was really interesting, because it's all about oil drilling and wildcatting. And since Buddy worked with his Dad in the oil fields, he was able to explain all kinds of things. I know a lot more about oil drilling this morning than I did yesterday, that's for sure!

We also watched a mystery with Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich. This one was Witness for the Prosecution. We've seen this quite a few times --- but never with them. Kay is a fabulous mystery guesser, so Elizabeth and I really wanted her to see this one. It even stumped her! No more on that, though, because the plot is great. If you haven't seen it, well --- see it! More later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gearing Up for Thanksgiving and Christmas

It's really starting to look and feel like Winter. We've had some real heavy frost this week, and we're all gearing up for the holidays. Thanksgiving is just days away, and Elizabeth and I are feeling very "Christmas-y". We've been playing, singing and listening to Christmas music, watching some Christmas movies and getting presents shipped to the out-of-state family. We've got about half of our Christmas boxes shipped now, and the rest are well on their way to being packed and ready. Of course, Oliver has found all of this preparation extremely tiring. Poor boy.

Thanksgiving should be a lot of fun this year. Most people have one Thanksgiving, but we're having two! We get to spend Thursday at Buddy and Kay's house for their dinner. That will be fun, since we should be able to get a little jam session in with Buddy --- and some gab sessions, too! Our menu plans are lasagna (or some form of stuffed shells, roll-ups etc.), waldorf salad (Mom's family's recipe and traditional fruit salad), regular salad and sweet potato casserole. Kay is making pumpkin bars, by popular request, so that will take care of dessert.

Happily, we're also having Thanksgiving with the Keultjeses on Friday! Hannah is coming up, which meant they planned their dinner for the weekend. That means we'll get to be with them as well. Elizabeth and I are just thrilled. It's great to spend holidays with people that you love. :)

Mom and I took the Operation Christmas Child boxes in to a local church (and drop-off location) on Friday morning, then we decided to run a few errands. We stopped in Lowe's to pick up a new wall outlet for the kitchen, but I'm telling you --- you've got to be careful! All of the displays were out for the Christmas gift ideas, and we couldn't help looking. The cutest things were these little junior tool kits for children. Complete with a tool bag and apron, the child gets a hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, pliers and more. The price? Only $10.00! We had to buy two (along with extra packs of nails and screws), because Mom and I thought we'd spend the evening making two more shoe boxes. Look a little more and you find the cutest little "Build You Own Tonka" set, so we got two of those. Then, we went across the street to the dollar store and bought some glue, tape, colored pencils, paper and toothbrushes. Add in a Hot Wheel and a little beanie dog, and it made for some really cute boxes. Dad was able to take them up to a church yesterday. Can't wait to start collecting for next year.

Well, that pretty much brings you all up to date with our holiday preparations. We have watched Holiday Inn, Christmas in Connecticut and Going My Way --- getting in the mood, you know. Last night, we saw The Bells of St. Mary's for the "first" time (okay, so we'd seen it when we were about nine years old, but that's not saying much for remembering it), and it was so sweet. I wonder why we've not watched that over the years?

It doesn't look like we're going to put up a full-size Christmas tree this year, as Oliver was a pretty naughty fellow last time. Plans are leaning toward a couple of table-top varieties, but . . . more on that later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The 'Operation Christmas Child' Boxes Are Finished

This is the first year that we've done the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. We didn't have an exact number in mind when we started, but we've ended up with ten boxes. I just finished filling them, so we're dropping them off at a local church tomorrow. There are five "boy" boxes and five "girl" boxes.

You have to mark the boxes with special little labels (in picture above). The labels show whether the box is for a girl or a boy, and there is a space to mark the age bracket of the toys inside.

We watched a lot of the online video tutorials in order to get ideas of what to put inside. Mom and I also spent several afternoons shopping at various places like Odd Lots, Dollar Tree and Dollar General for little school and craft supplies. We've also collected toys, pads of paper, paints, stickers, hair accessories, jewelry and dress up things, sewing supplies, small stuffed animals etc.

Getting some of these packed in a way so that the lids were able to close was quite a challenge! You have the option of packing in a plastic "shoe box" bin, a decorated box from Operation Christmas Child or a used shoe box that you have wrapped in Christmas paper. I put my foot down on the plastic bin idea, because that doesn't seem half as nice to send to a little kid. Okay, I know that it's kind of practical (if you don't mind plastic) to have the bin left over, but it's a lot nicer looking for a child to get a fancy colored box. So, I spent hours wrapping the boxes --- but the end result is pretty cheerful. :)

I didn't think to take pictures of all the toys and things while they were spread out and being packed, so here are pictures of the insides of some of the boxes as they look finished. We made two boxes for older girls (10-14 years) that had some sewing supplies. Little packs of thread (lots of different colors), scissors, flannel and cotton fabric, ribbon and trim. We also packed two boxes for boys in that same bracket, but they got watercolors, notebooks, modeling clay, models and some other things.

This has been really fun, and I can't wait to work on next year's boxes. Mom and I are planning on collecting the toys and supplies throughout the year. More later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Do You Describe Bing Crosby?

Bing Crosby. What can you say to describe him? Try it. It's pretty much impossible to do with words alone. You can't describe his singing. A person just has to hear it to believe it. If you were to describe him by his appearance --- well, it wouldn't help anybody to understand what's so unique about Bing. He looked like a normal guy. But it wasn't just his singing that sets him apart from everybody else. (Of course, he didn't need anything but his singing to be fabulous!) His whole persona in front of a camera or behind a microphone contributes to his international appeal. In short, there never has been a performer like Bing --- and there certainly won't be again.

I'm in a bit of a Bing Crosby kick the last two days. He's been my all-time favorite singer as long as I can remember. In fact, I can't remember a time of not listening to Bing. Mom and Dad played his records for us from  . . . well, forever. I've collected sheet music of his songs (with his picture on it) for years and years, and Mom has found several lots of Bing sheet music on eBay lately. That's helped to add to the collection. Well, she and I were looking through Bing videos on YouTube yesterday, and that kind of sent me into this kick. Not to mention that I've spent the last couple hours sorting through my sheet music. Here's a picture of it, in fact. All counted up --- I've got 102 pieces of Bing's music!

Again, I'll break my rule and embed a couple of videos (these are what kind of started this kick). The first is Bing singing Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho with three of his sons. He's fifty-seven years old here, but his voice doesn't sound the least bit aged. Wow! The second clip shows Bing (at age 65) with his son, Gary, and Frank Sinatra, Jr. Listen to them sing. Amazing!

Bing's must have been the perfect voice, and it seems like that must be a peek at what men were created to sound like in a state of perfection before sin. I mean, no training but never a bad note. Velvet notes in fifty years of styles and songs. To quote Frank Sinatra: You know, you can wait around and hope, but I'm telling you --- you'll never see the likes of this again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Watching 'Zero Hour!' and 'Branded' --- Two Great Films!

In the last week we have found two "new" movies that we really enjoyed! I mentioned these (briefly) in the previous blog post, but they really deserve an entry of their own. Elizabeth came across them in the library catalogue, and we're always on the look out for a "new" old movie.

The first was Zero Hour!, starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden. The movie was released in 1957, and it is the film that the later re-make, Airplane, is based on. Elizabeth and I had seen The High and the Mighty some years ago. That's another of these airliner catastrophe pictures (starring John Wayne and Robert Stack), and I didn't enjoy it. Too much personal junk and wimpy characters. Well, Zero Hour! is anything but wimpy.

This is a man's picture, despite Linda Darnell's second billing. She plays her part perfectly, but she's not a main force in the story --- and she won't be the one that you remember. Dana Andrews plays Capt. Ted Stryker, an ex-flier from the war. He can't get over his wartime experiences, and he is having trouble just holding a job. It's been ten years since the end of the war, and Stryker hasn't been in a plane since. When his wife and son board a plane (intending to leave him), Stryker manages to get the last seat on the plane just before take off.

Disaster strikes on board (I won't spoil the whole story here!), and both pilots are rendered unconscious. The only man on board with any flying experience is Stryker --- and he's scared stiff. All of his flying has been done in a single-engine fighter, whereas this is a four-engine passenger plane. He takes the pilot's seat, and the tensest fifty minutes of film begins.

Sterling Hayden plays Capt. Martin Treleaven, the senior pilot at Vancouver Airport. His job is to talk Dana Andrews down to the ground. I've never had a high opinion of Hayden as an actor (just watch him in Prince Valiant to see what I mean!), but this is an amazing performance. Hayden and Andrews are a perfect team as they battle problems out over the radio.

We've watched the movie twice now, and it is no less captivating the second time. Wow! Really a fabulous film, and it's a shame that it's forgotten. It does key you up, and the last ten minutes is kind of hard to breathe through!


The second film that we watched was an Alan Ladd Western called Branded. No, it's nothing like the TV show of the same name. Co-stars are Mona Freeman and Charles Bickford (one of my all-time favorite character actors --- thanks to his role as "Mr. Clancy" in The Farmer's Daughter).

This is now one of my top three favorite Western films, but it's quite different from the average plot. You won't be able to guess this one as it goes along, and besides the tried-and-true hint of the white hat and black hat --- well, you won't get anymore help on figuring the plot.

Alan Ladd begins the story as a small-time crook and gunman (despite his white hat --- which does hint at a happy ending). His background is a complete mystery, since he had no parents and has no name. Such a sad upbringing for our hero is a Western form of vindication for his less than legal actions at the start of the film.

He lands a job on the biggest ranch in Texas (which is owned by Charles Bickford) --- intending to commit his crime against the family there. Of course, he didn't realize that the daughter was so beautiful and wonderful. He is smitten, and that changes things. I won't spoil the plot, as this is a fabulous story and worth viewing. To tell any more would be to spoil the ending.

This is not the typical Western. No saloon girl. Only one short fist fight (which is necessary for the plot --- not just put in for violence), and no gory shooting. It's got horse chases, a stampede, a showdown and plenty of excitement. We were positive that everyone was just going to die at the end, but it actually has the happiest ending we've ever seen in a Western! I can't recommend it enough! If you weren't a fan of Alan Ladd before, then you certainly will be after this one.

The First Week of November (and John Wayne Monopoly)

Wow! I can't believe that the first week of November has actually come . . . and gone. Again, we've been pretty busy. On Saturday, Mom and the two of us went out shopping for some things like long-sleeved tops for the Winter and slippers. Shopping has gotten to be a rather depressing thing these days, as items get lower and lower in quality and the prices get higher by the week. We've really gone to making old things last and make do. Every now and then, though, it's necessary to buy something new.

We went into the mall, which is something that we only do around Christmas. There is a game and calendar store there that comes in at the end of the year, so we went in there. We found two really cool things --- one of which, we bought. That was a deck of playing cards, but very special cards. They have John Wayne's photo on the back, and each of the fifty-two cards has a different photo of him on the face side of the card. They are really cool! And after learning all those new games last weekend, we thought these were just the perfect thing.

There was another thing that we would sure like to have. I guess we need to start dropping some serious hints to Mom and Dad about what we'd like for Christmas! It was a John Wayne Monopoly game. The whole center is a picture of him in a Western, and the different properties are all places from his films --- including Ireland (for The Quiet Man). The game tokens are all "John Wayne" related items, and the "Chance" and "Community Chest" cards are all film related as well. So, this is now on the top of our Christmas list! :)

Sunday was a fun day, as we had a nice morning at church. Our pastor played a sermon (on voting and the upcoming election) by David Jeremiah. It was really wonderful. We also had some time to chat with Sarah --- bringing her up to date on the weekend down in Cinci, etc. The day just kept on getting better, since Buddy and Kay were able to spend the whole afternoon at our house. We watched two "new" movies. One was an Alan Ladd Western, and the other was an airplane movie with Dana Andrews and Sterling Hayden. See the next post for more on these films. We haven't gotten to have Buddy and Kay up in months. Literally. So, we all had a really nice time. Lots of gab and relaxation.

Mom's aunt passed away last Thursday. She lived in Cleveland, so we were able to go up on Monday for the funeral. The service was at the cemetery chapel, and the message was given by Aunt June's pastor. He's fabulous! We've met him a few times, as we had gone up to go to church with Aunt June a couple of times. He also did Uncle Fred's funeral eight years ago. It is unusual to find such a conservative pastor in the middle of a large city like Cleveland. After the funeral was over, we all went up to a Denny's in Parma town. Both of Aunt June's daughters (Mom's cousins) were there, as were a lot of their children. It's always fun to get together.

We're reaching the end of all this cleaning out and organizing. We've finally gone through pretty much all of the books --- and gotten the new ones on the shelves. Not bad. It's kind of a nice thing to see the house getting cleaned out. Elizabeth and I went through all of our 45rpm records this morning. We've also been getting the camera situation all sorted out, but that's a long story --- for another post! More later.