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Christmas At Granny’s House

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One of my Handpainted Santa Ornaments

Our Big Oak Tree Catastrophe has put us way behind on our Christmas decorations this year.  As I see the lights up and down my street, I feel sad that we have none outside yet, and might not get things cleaned up in time to do much in our yard.  And because I’ve been working outside on that Hot Mess, I haven’t done anything inside yet, either.  For me, this is a first in my entire adult life.  Normally, our outside lights go up the Friday after Thanksgiving, and all the boxes (53) are brought down from the attic and left in the appropriate room, so I can work on the inside stuff for the next ten days to two weeks.  This year, nothing…yet. But I’m not giving up.  I’m giving myself a week to do it, and whatever isn’t up by next Tuesday will go back into the attic until next year.  It’s all I can do.

I have been in love with Christmas all my life…the lights, the magic, the whole spirit and feeling of it all.  I love the church pageants and the open houses and the family visits.  But most of all, I love Santa Claus.  In my heart, I still believe, you know.

I’ve been collecting Santas for over 40 years, and I have a lot of them. A. Lot. Over 300 at last count, from one inch tall to life sized, and in every type of costume and guise. I thought it might be fun to share a few photos with you, since my garden is in Down Mode, so here goes:

Our family room mantel is where I like to put my collection of Old World Santas.  Some of these were handpainted by me, others were collected over the years ,or gifts from friends and family who indulge my obsession.  (You know you are in serious trouble when your two favorite men in the world are Santa Claus and The Wizard of Oz!) Don’t forget to click on the images to see them full sized, and in detail.

My Mantel Santas
Mantel and more of family room from a distance.  See my life-sized boy?  That was a Christmas present from my daughter a couple of years ago.  She sweet talked the Publix manager into giving her the Coca Cola display.  Don’t tell anyone.  I don’t think it’s allowed. But isn’t he beautiful?  He’s pointing at my library tree, which has mostly Santas on it, too.  (Ignore the white floor fan.  Not a decoration…just a sometimes necessity during a Florida Christmas!)
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A closer look at the Big Boy.  He makes me smile all over!
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Close up of some of the Santa ornaments on the library tree.  The one in the center with the blue cap is one of my hand-painted ones.  I used to do so much of that, but haven’t been painting a lot lately.  I need to get back to it.  Just as soon as I finish writing my book. 
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My granddaughter, Tabitha, showing off the Wizard of Oz tree, which she decorated mostly by herself last year. She’s a hambone! *grin*
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Tabitha again, being all Vanna White by my blue & silver living room tree. It’s her favorite.
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I’ll put up a few more pictures later in another post.  I have to get back to THIS year’s decorating.  Hope this was fun for you, and maybe got you to feeling all Christmasy! 

Interesting…

I had no trouble at all displaying the Beautiful Blogger Award “badge.” I still don’t know why the other one won’t show up in my sidebar like this one does.  I’ll try again later.  Gotta get some things done now, in the Real World!

In An Excess of Riches…

beautifulbloggeraward

…Jennifer at My Life As A Single Mom has nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  Thank you so much, Jennifer!  This has been an exciting 24 hours in my blogging life.  I really appreciate receiving this!

In order to accept this award I must post seven interesting things about me, then nominate seven other bloggers who I feel deserve the award.  I don’t know how “interesting” they are, but here are seven things about me.

1. I was an Army brat, and never finished a single year of school in the same school until I was in high school.  I went to a total of 23 different ones before graduation.

2. I would rather buy books or plants than clothes, any day, consequently whenever any special occasion comes up where my usual daily attire of old shorts and tee shirts would not be acceptable, I have to race around like a thing possessed, shopping for something decent to wear.  Luckily, we lead pretty quiet lives, and this doesn’t happen often.

3. For anyone who doesn’t know already, I am writing my first book, a romance novel–with a ghost.  Because romance by itself just won’t do it for me, I guess. It is turning into a real learning experience, whether it ever gets published or not. And it was about time, too, since I announced to the world at five that all I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer.

4. I’m tall. 5’10-1/2″ to be exact. I have no friends as tall as I am.  Not even men. Hahaha.  Maybe I’m not REALLY tall.  Maybe I just hang around with short people?

5. I have never lived a day in my life that I can remember without cats. I’ve loved them since I was very young, and apparently my son and now my granddaughter are exactly the same. (My daughter likes them, but prefers dogs.) We currently have four.

6. I don’t know how I would live without a computer in my life.  After going the first 55 years without one, turns out I’m a latent computer geek of some sort, even though I don’t understand all of the technology.  I don’t understand internal combustion engines, either, but I can drive a car.

7. I paint. I’ve painted all my life. I’ve made a living at times, selling various painted things, and I’ve taught painting. If I could actually squeeze past all the stuff that’s currently stored in my studio, I’d be painting stuff for Christmas right now. If I were going to add an 8th item here, it would be that I hate housework, which explains why my studio is crammed full of things that don’t belong there.

Okay, that’s my seven things about me.  Now for seven blogs for you to check out:

1. Everyday Explanations

2. Tracy Loves History

3.  Candace Knoeble

4. This World Through My Eyes

5. Leaf and Twig

6. J. C. Conway

7. My Life Is Really In The Garden

There you have it.  An assortment of writers, photographers and gardeners.  Hope you find one or two you really enjoy!

Thanks again to Jennifer for this lovely award! 

Another Star!

Blog of the Year Award 2 star jpeg

Carolyn of ABC of Spirit Talk has just awarded me another Blog of the Year award, which means I can add a new star to the one I got yesterday. Thank you so much, Carolyn.  It’s fun to add to an award like this.  And I appreciate the additional star.  Folks, check out her blog when you get a chance.  You’ll enjoy yourself there.  In keeping with the rules, and because I love to laugh more than anything else in the world, here is probably my very favorite blog of all, for those who haven’t visited there yet:

23 Thorns

23 is just about the funniest blog I’ve ever read.  (I can call him 23, because we are on a first name basis now.  That, and I have no idea what his REAL name might be.)  No matter which of his many posts you click on, you will find yourself laughing throughout.  He is writing a book, and I plan to buy it FOR SURE when it is published.  Check him out!

Sorry…

No matter how I try to save the images, I can’t get them to appear in my sidebar, as the award images do on Bookin’ It.  I’m not sure what the problem is, but for now, the only place I can display the image is in my original post.  I’ll keep working on it later on.  I have some other things to attend to for now.  But please know that I do plan to display it permanently somehow, when I can figure it out.

In Honor of My Poor, Lamented Oaks

 

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her  hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

 

As It Once Was…

Sigh.  I’m still so sad about losing our trees.  The loss of their shade and beauty is even worse than the frustration over having been treated badly by the removal company, and having to clean up the mess.  It will never feel the same to me without the majesty of these huge trees.  I WILL, of course, be doing some major gardening and beautification of the area, but it will never even begin to make up for losing the oaks. Here are a few photos to show you what we have lost.

Shortly after we had moved in, before I painted the faux bricks white.  Three of the larger tree bases…all gone now…show here. The one on the left actually gets bigger farther up, where a very wide fork developed. 

Another view of the bromeliad bed in its infancy. That hedge in the background is now about twelve feet tall, and completely hides the view of the road and the houses on the other side.

View of the clump of oak trees from the street, about a year after we moved in.  It’s early spring and they haven’t gotten their full complement of leaves yet, though they are never bare, being an evergreen species.  You can see better in this picture how massive the trunk of the tree on the far left was.

Yes, that is a bald eagle sitting in the largest tree. I wasn’t kidding when I said these trees provided homes for everything from barred owls to flying squirrels. To the right of him, you can see where the big oak splits into two sections, creating a piece of tree trunk five feet thick.  Thank god these shysters came back and cut that down a bit for Mark.  He could never have cut it with his chainsaw, and it was NOT movable, without a bobcat or something like that to pick it up.  It weighed about as much as a block of granite.

So now you can see why I am so sad to lose these beautiful trees.  Having the mess of unprofessional, unscrupulous contractors do the job just added insult to injury.  But the real loss is the trees.  It breaks my heart, and makes me sad to know that the rest of the trees in our yard may not be around much longer, either.  Hopefully, they will last a few more years, though.  Fingers crossed, and prayers sent above.

More Tree Disaster Pictures!

Here are a few more pictures taken on Day 1 and 2, before it got REALLY bad. 

This log section Mark is sitting on is 5 feet wide, believe it or not.  The one his cup is on measures right at 4 feet.  His chainsaw is 18 inches.
Eeep. Does he look discouraged? 

This was later on Day 1 or early Day 2.

This is our driveway.  No, really. It’s under there.  This was Day 2. It got worse.

This is the beginning of the debris pile in our side yard.  It ended up measuring 8′ tall, 10′ deep, and 30′ long!!!!!

This is the beginning of the mess in our side yard, the end of day 1. 

By day 5, I couldn’t even go out there without crying, so there are no more pictures.

The fact that these guys gave us a price we could actually scrape together (not that we could afford) was a miracle.  But as I said, miracles don’t come cheap. We knew we would have to do some of the work ourselves, but they really left us in the lurch.  However, we are young and strong and determined.  (Okay, we are really just one of those things.  I’ll let you figure it out.) And we WILL PREVAIL!!!

 

I’m Baaaaa-aaack…Mostly.

One Small Section of Debris

Alert the Media!  I’m back!  Mostly. 

Yeah, I know I’ve been gone nine days, and believe me, I have missed this blog more than you could imagine!  If I tried to tell you everything that has conspired against me to keep me from posting here, you probably wouldn’t believe it.  Suffice it to say, we have been inundated with problems around this place, and Mark’s five-day Thanksgiving vacation turned into five days of toil and trouble for both of us.  But we have survived, and even though the end isn’t here yet, it IS in sight.

Just as a quick recap of part of the problems, we had a huge tree die overnight, practically, and that started it all.  Our yard is filled with giant laurel oaks, old and majestic…and apparently dying of Sudden Oak Death.  Yes, folks, there really is something known among arborists as SOD.  After a long summer and early fall filled with unplanned for expenses such as transmissions falling apart, and flywheels literally breaking into pieces (both cars involved), we found we were down $7,000, and had tightened our belt to the max.  Thus, we were faced with a serious problem when the largest oak in our yard turned brown over the course of about 3 days.  From lush green, to completely dead brown, on a tree species that is evergreen.  Within weeks, it was brittle and dropping branches on our roof.  It had to come down.  Sadly, we couldn’t afford our regular tree guy, so we went with a cheaper solution that involved what turned out to be a less than professional company cutting down both of our biggest trees (since a second one was dying, too) and a smaller tree.  They were supposed to do it all in one day, leaving us the logs, but clearing away all debris and the first 10 feet of the massive (we’re talking over 4′ across) base of the tree.  Five days later, these awful people have buried our yard under debris, logs too big to move, and piles of sawdust 3′ deep.  Then they got mad because yet another piece of THEIR equipment stopped working, and they walked off…leaving our entire yard looking like the picture above, which is only a fraction of the mess we have to deal with.  (The side yard has 3 times the wood and debris in it.  This pile merely blocks the driveway!)  I didn’t take a picture of the biggest slabs, but the one on the top of the pile in the photo is right at 4 feet in itself, and it is nowhere near the biggest one.

You cannot imagine the mess we have been left with, and working every day right along side of them (and now on our own) has barely made a dent in it.  I finally got them back over here to cut the massive segments into smaller pieces that Mark can handle with his own chain saw, and the rest of the clean up is on us. 

Soooooooo…many lessons learned here, the biggest one being, one cannot keep up an active blog…or any other form of an active LIFE…whilst one is stuffing barrels full of tree trimmings from a pile approximately the size of an airplane hangar, and dollying logs to the back 40 to stack out of the way.  The sound of chain saws is burned into my brain, and the smell of oak sawdust will probably never be out of my nostrils.  GAH!!!!

On the other hand, I no longer have to worry about a tree falling through my roof.  Or at least not THIS tree.  There are still all the others around the yard……………..

Now back to blogging on a daily basis.  I hopeBut first, I have to tend to a small fire ring wherein I’m burning that airplane hangar sized pile of twigs, one little handful at a time.

Happy Veteran’s Day

Flag and soldier, Veteran's Day

Today, we honor those who have served their country to protect our way of life.  Please don’t forget to thank a veteran today.  Many have sacrificed more than you can imagine, and we owe them everything we have.

God Bless America.

NOTE:  This post is in no way meant to be political, on any side of any issue.  I don’t discuss politics here, folks.  Just asking you to remember we can never thank our servicemen and women enough.  There’s no way to repay them for their dedication to duty. If you want to say your thank you in a more tangible manner, one good way would be through the Wounded Warrior Project.

Look What Mark Built!

Stacked brick bird bath

My New Brick Birdbath

(Click to Zoom)

After showing Mark the article on using bricks in the garden in that South African e-magazine which featured our pond, we decided we liked the stacked brick birdbath pictured.  We also decided we needed to add a few more birdbaths in our garden, too.  (I’m convinced one can never have too many!)  Since we have enough salvaged brick to build a second house piled here and there in the pot ghetto area of the back yard, we didn’t have to buy a thing!  We also have several stacks of salvaged slate from a demo job in downtown Orlando, too.  So Mark built one of brick and one of slate.  I love both of them, and best of all, since the bricks and slate are just stacked up, they would be easy to relocate or take down completely, if we wanted to make changes.  It only took him about an hour on each one, to be sure every layer was level and neat.  I’m all smiles!

Stacked slate birdbath

(Click to see Full Sized)

This makes at least five birdbaths in my backyard, alone.  How many do YOU have?  Even birds that don’t use feeders need water, and will usually make use of a birdbath, even if it’s just a shallow bowl on the ground.  And watching them bathe is so much fun!  

My Other Blog

Since I can find no way to actually link it here, yet, I thought I’d just post about it, in case anyone is interested.  I have a second blog here at WordPress, called Bookin’ It.  It features book reviews, cover art, author information, literary quotes, and pretty much anything related to Readin’ and Writin’.  If you’d like to check it out, click here:

Bookin’ It

Or you can find a link by clicking on View Full Profile, at right.  Hope some of you who love to read will stop by and see what’s new!

Welcome To Granny M’s House!

Welcome to Granny M’s House!  I’ve tried my hand at web page building, bulletin boards, digital paintings, book reviews, and thousands upon thousands of emails.  I guess it’s time to tackle the Blogosphere, too.  So much going on around us every day that just begs to be commented on.  Hopefully this will be as much fun for readers as it will be for me.  My garden is in the summer doldrums, due to the heat here in central Florida, which means it will be more fun to write about it than to work in it.  And each day’s news brings yet another surprise to ponder.  Please join me for lots of good fun, featuring topics ranging from Gardening to Wildlife to Pets.
Happy blogging, All!

Granny M