A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rainy Day and Orlando's Solution to Obtain World Peace

Many years ago, Rainy Day had the marvelous opportunity to throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, in Rome. One is an automatic wish to return to Rome, which would please Rainy Day no end if it would come true sometime, but alas.... The closest Rainy Day can get to Rome these days is having her hair done by Orlando, a stylist at the Trevi Salon & Spa in Kennewick. Sigh. The other coin and wish was for World Peace.

Through the years, Rainy Day has wondered if world peace is even achievable? And then she met Orlando. What makes Orlando interesting is not his great sense of humor, or his marvelous sense of style (and why in heaven's name is he working with Rainy Day's hair when he's both the stylist and as stylish as he is? But, that's another question, for someone else to figure out and write about on their blog!).  

What Rainy Day Wants to Look Like
What makes Orlando so utterly fascinating, to Rainy Day, is his solution to obtain World Peace. Yes, he has a solution, and it does not involve warfare! (Warfare for Peace just doesn't make a lot of sense to Rainy Day. Does it to you?) And, it just might work, if we could pull it off. You see Orlando believes if every woman in the world had her hair and makeup done every morning before she starts her day, that World Peace would be a natural outcome. And, if she can't get her hair done, then she should have a variety of spiffy and stylish wigs to wear!

There would be no 'bad hair days,' every woman would get a shampoo, set, comb out, whatever it takes. She would know she looked her absolute and stunning best, and be smiling and confident.

And if the women of the world were all smiling and confident, the men of the world would soon follow suit. Perhaps they, too, would get their hair done? Perhaps they would at least find a comb (some look like they haven't seen a comb in years, if ever! Rainy Day isn't sure what all hides in that hair, and doesn't want to get close enough to find out!)

The Other Wig Rainy Day Wants
Since the news is full of stories about boys not maturing into men, and since those boys are not going for college degrees like they used to, perhaps they should go to trade schools, and those with aptitude should become stylists? They could work for room, board, and Game-boy time. That's all they seem to want, so why not give it to them?

And the women can run the world, with confidence and well coiffed heads! May you never have another Bad Hair Day!

May your New Year be filled with Peace, Joy, Laughter, Dance, and Song! (And may testosterone poisoning continue to decline;-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rainy Day and the Winter Solstice!

Yes, Gentle Readers, today is the Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year. And, in keeping with that spirit, Rainy Day thought you might like some almost-winter photographs from her yard.
Maple Leaf with Snow Dust

The First Snow of the season fell (okay, it dusted) a few weeks ago.

And then, we had Hoar Frost to coat everything in fairy dust.

Japanese Maple with Hoar Frost
And, Last but not Least, today is Wednesday, 21 December. You know what that means, don't you?

Shrub in front of house with Hoar Frost
We are already into Chanuka, the Festival of the Lights (20-28 December)
Christmas is 4 days away; New Years a mere week later.

Kwanzaa begins on Boxing Day (26 December)

Same shrub, turning leaves and Hoar Frost
There are many Holidays in the Winter, and whatever Holiday you Celebrate, Rainy Day hopes this year's will be the best, and your New Year will be filled with much song, happy dances, and daily laughter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rainy Day, Tacoma Blue, and the Morphing of Our Language

First, a bit of a brag: Lenora won first prize in a poetry contest! She wrote the winning poem to go with the photo the magazine posted. Click here to see the inspirational photo and Lenora's poem.   And now, back to our regularly scheduled nattering.

Last week, Rainy Day and Tacoma Blue ranted about being Word Snobs. In the rant, it was mentioned how our language has changed through the years, and Rainy Day thought you might like to read an example. Those of you who write Science Fiction/Fantasy, especially time travel, pay attention—your hero may have more than the usually thought of problems as they are zapped to an earlier time. The same would hold true to the future, just more difficult to predict.

Several years ago, Rainy Day read a fascinating book, African Exodus by Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie. She laments her copy is now lost; however, before said loss happened she copied a very dramatic demonstration of our language as it changes and morphs and grows, something she is fairly sure you all know, the Lord's Prayer.

According to the authors—and who are Tacoma Blue or Rainy Day to argue?—our language is perpetually changing to the tune of about 20% per thousand years (losing about 20% of the common words). For a truly dramatic example, read on, Dear and Gentle Readers:

"[The Lord's Prayer]... in modern English:
Our Father, who is in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your kingdom
come into being. May your will be followed on earth, just as it is in
heaven. Give us this day our food for the day. And forgive us our
offences, just as we forgive those who have offended us. And do not bring
us to the test. But free us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the
glory are yours forever. Amen.

"...King James Bible of 1611:
Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily
bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass
against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For
thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, amen.

"...Middle English from around 1400A.D.:
Oure fadir that art in heuenes holowid be thi name, thi kyngdom come to, be
thi wille don in erthe es in heuene, yeue to us this day oure bread ouir
other substance, & foryeue to us oure dettis, as we gorgeuen to oure
dettouris, & lede us not in to temptacion: but delyuer us from yuel, amen.

"And, finally, contemplate the Old English version, of the period around
Faeder ure thu the eart on heofonum, si thin nama gehalgod. Tobecume thin
rice. Gewurthe in willa on eorthan swa swa on heofonum. Urne
gedaeghwamlican hlaf syle us to daeg. And forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we
forgyfath urum gyltedum. And ne gelaed thu us on contnungen ac alys us of
yfele. Sothlice."
(Used by permission from Prof. Stringer, from African Exodus –by Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie)

Tacoma Blue found the above fascinating, and noticed how "quickly" and thoroughly the language morphs – how the vowel shifts and is pronounced: heaven = heuenes = heofonum. How the Old English seems more like our current "heaven," probably due to the 'f' in the middle. As she says, who would ever have thought "heuenes" would be pronounced with an 'f' or 'v' sound in the middle?

She once had a friend who could rattle off Old English as if it was his native tongue, and Tacoma Blue assures us Gentle Readers, that it was incredibly beautiful – far softer on the ear than contemporary German, with a softer guttural sense about it. A truly lovely language to hear.

She goes on to suggest we consider meanings: our "offences" (how mild that seems!); the King James era "trespasses" (which sounds like the sort of thing one might be shot for), Middle English "dettis" (debts, which we now would consider money owed but then indicated a much broader sense of indebtedness), and Old English "gyltas" (guilt), which is harsher, farther reaching, and nearly impossible to either avoid or atone.

The Danes in the time of Beowulf spoke of "geas," which signified an undeniable burden or task (often the seeking of blood price or atonement) laid upon a person, especially a warrior. Not a particularly forgiving lot, those old Danes. If the warrior succeeded, he then bore a gyltas every bit as heavy as if he had failed.

Now look at the phrase, "forgive us our debts (or offences) as we forgive our debtors (those who offend us)" -- in Middle English, it's "foryeue to us oure dettis, as we gorgeuen to oure dettouris", in Old English, "forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgyfath urum gyltedum".

Likewise, "evil," "yuel," "yfele." And what's this "Sothlice"? Sounds less like our later "amen" and far more like the Masonic pronouncement, "So mote it be"!

At least "and" stays the same, a landmark of sorts that lets us know where and when we are, and that some things don't ever really change.

Fascinating -- if Tacoma Blue lives long enough, She'll study languages, linguistics, and history! (Rainy Day will sit at her feet;-)

And there, Gentle Reader, you have it. Why Tacoma Blue and Rainy Day are Word Snobs.  Not that either are experts, not by a long shot, and they don't sit around reading Old English while drinking their tea and eating their crumpets, but they do find language interesting, especially the one they speak, and try to use it with a modicum of correctness.

And again, Rainy Day gives Great Thanks to Professor Stringer for permission to use the Lord's Prayer excerpt from African Exodus. (Y'all really should find and read the book!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rainy Day and her friend Tacoma Blue, are Word Snobs and You Should Be Too!

Rainy Day ranted the other day about how our language is, like, becoming, y'know, sloppy. Today, she rants on words in general. Standardized spelling came about because of Gutenberg and moveable type. Yes, Brits and those possessed by them, add a superfluous 'u' in many of their words, and Rainy Day doesn't mind them. They're, well, cute (sometimes). Cute? You may well aks. Would that be cute words or cute Brits? Hmmmmm....

She saw a tee shirt advertised a while back, and now is somewhat sorry she didn't order it. The tee in question said something like (y'know?) "Differences Exist Between There, They're, and Their."

Rainy Day and her friend Tacoma Blue, wonder. They belong to a variety of LinkedIn Groups and have noticed an increasing number of professionals from Engineers (who barely speak intelligible English) to Writers (who darned well should speak, or at least write, intelligible English) who either don't know the differences between those words, or don't care. If Spell Check doesn't correct them, why they seem to ask, should they bother?

Elocution is no longer taught in schools (Rainy Day isn't sure what is taught, that is truthfully useful or fun, if anything). People no longer recognize the difference between then and than.

Or pin, pen, and pan.
Ask the question, don't aks it.

It's not just the professional athletes who can't, or won't, speak beyond rudimentary Ebonish. Mispronunciations and incorrect tenses are very common on the radio and television; even the highly paid professional newscasters-entertainers sprinkle their talk with incorrect usage and pronunciation. I certainly hope they don't do it on purpose.

Rainy Day reads a lot of news articles online and frequently reads the comments, at least some of them, but many are so poorly written as to be unintelligible. Tacoma Blue comes close to shedding tears as past, present, and future tenses are all mixed together with great abandon; words are misspelled, and frequently the wrong word is used.

Just the other day, someone quoted the Bible, "And than the Lord..." uh, no. "And then..."

No, I don't want a shot, but you should know that!

And then, along came Jones, rather than Smith.

There they stood.
They're really nice people.
Their ball is the one being used for the game.

The pin holds the fabric together.
The pen writes the words.
The pan holds the soup.
Do you notice the different letters – pin, pen, pan? They are not pronounced the same;-)

"That will be three hundred four dollars AND fifty-seven cents." Note the placement of the 'and.' It is not used in numbers until, and only until, one gets to the decimal point. (Will someone please point this out to the various hosts and hostesses of TV shows on how to sell your house?)

Rainy Day could go on, but doesn't think she should have to, and besides, Tacoma Blue thinks it's about time to stop. Now, for those who speak English as a second (or third or fourth) language, Rainy Day is willing to cut some slack. Those who were born here, however, well not so much.

Rainy Day thinks if you don't know how to use a dictionary, learn to. Write her. She'll send some hints. Tacoma Blue says learn to use a dictionary and a thesaurus.  And, no, a thesaurus is not an extinct dinosaur.

Nor do Rainy Day or Tacoma Blue want you to think they are perfect when it comes to words. They are not. And should you ever see them misuse one, or mispronounce one, please, Gentle Reader, let them know.

Learn to treasure our language. It is a dynamic and growing organism. Words are constantly being added to our lexicon – learn to use them properly – and words are constantly being dropped – in the meantime, use the words we have. Use them correctly.  Our language changes about 20% over a couple hundred years.

Still, Tacoma Blue reminds Rainy Day, language changes and Rainy Day and you most Gentle Reader, must change with it. They and their fellow Word Snobs will always have trouble with, "Hopefully, you will too," which is a complete grammatical disaster. Hopefully means full of hope, and we should say, "I (or We) hope you will too." And let us not forget, "Over 6,000,000,000 hamburgers sold." Tacoma Blue and Rainy Day hope against hope that someone will correct it to read, "More Than 6,000,000,000 hamburgers sold."

It is easy to become a Word Snob. Tacoma Blue and Rainy day suggest an easy, fun, and painless way to begin is by signing on with the Wordsmith, Anu Garg and receive his free A.Word.A.Day newsletter.

Do you agree with Rainy Day and Tacoma blue, or are they just too old and set in there ways? Please note, neither Rainy Day nor Tacoma Blue ranted rant against texting and the (to them) unintelligible letter-number combinations therein. They know that for some, it is a separate language in which neither is conversant. Are you?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rainy Day and the Bestest Ever thanksgiving Dinners

Many years ago, Rainy Day and her Dearly Beloved spent all day preparing a Thanksgiving Feast. There was enough food to feed the entire Batallion! Imagine the surprise when Rainy D, her Dearly Beloved, and their two children sat at the table, and all that lovingly prepared food didn't suit anyone's taste! The kids ate because they were starving, but they didn't eat much. The turkey was dry, the vegetables over cooked, this was bland, and that was too spicy; if you can think of an excuse to not eat something, believe Rainy Day when she says she's heard it before.

The best thing about that Thanksgiving is it ended without bloodshed.
Fried Tofu, Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay

The next Thanksgiving, Dearly Beloved told Rainy Day not to bother with shopping, as he had Thanksgiving handled. Dearly Beloved 'handled' lots of things, and not always to the liking of Rainy Day, or their children. However, Rainy Day had peanut butter and jelly on hand.

Thanksgiving Day arrived. And nary a turkey nor a ham to be found in the house. Hmmmmmm??????? Breakfast came and went, lunch came and went, and nary a sweet potato graced the oven. Not even a package of Hawaiian rolls on the kitchen counter! Hmmmmmmm???????

Turn Computer on side to see BBQ Honey Duck
"Okay, everyone in the car!" Dearly Beloved yelled his summons and into the car everyone piled. Dearly Beloved drove to a restaurant. Number One Daughter ordered shrimp off the menu, Number One Son ordered a cheeseburger, Dearly Beloved and Rainy Day went through the buffet line – he ate perfectly prepared turkey, and she ate wonderful ham. Everyone ate what he or she wanted to eat, not what he or she had to eat, and Rainy Day didn't have to clean the kitchen afterwards! Oh, the thrill of a Thanksgiving Feast was, at last, realized!

Phd Khee Mao Hong Kong & Thai Tea
Thus began Rainy Day's tradition of dining out on Thanksgiving Day. True, there is no turkey for Rainy Day to pick at for three months, which is fine by Rainy Day as she isn't all that fond of turkey. True, there is no left over mincemeat pie to add 36 pounds to Rainy Day's more than ample girth. But, most importantly, THERE IS NO MESS TO CLEAN when the meal is over and everyone else is napping or watching the television!

So, while you, Gentle Reader, planned your Thanksgiving Feast, drew up complicated time tables of when to prepare what in order to get it all to the table at the same time, while you, most Gentle of Readers, sat at a board groaning with a surfeit of food and ate entirely more than you planned, know that Rainy Day found a great Thai Restaurant that was open and serving from the menu! While you sat at said groaning board, with your family gathered around, Rainy Day did likewise. It's just that her table wasn't groaning, and Dearly Beloved is no longer included. Rainy Day didn't slave in a hot kitchen for hours and days ahead of time. She paid the chef at Thai Garden to slave. She paid the waiter at Thai Garden to bring the food, and to clear the table.
Number One Daughter & Number One Waiter!

Best Thai Chef in the World!
Yes, Rainy Day and her friend had BBQ Honey duck with spring rolls, fried tofu, and chicken satay appetizers, for dinner. She was served an amount that was perfect – there was even a bit left over to come home in a box to be devoured later. Number One Daughter had Pad Khee Mau Hong Kong. All were sufficiently suffonsified at the end of their meal and all took boxes of leftover delights home for later.

And, when Rainy Day got home, there was no mess to clean. No 57 bowls of stuff to be carefully balanced in the refrigerator. No 8,264 dishes, with correspondingly high numbers of silverware, to wash. And Rainy Day was truly Thankful for all the restaurants and their staff who forfeited their traditional, family Thanksgiving for her and others. To all those who worked on Thanksgiving so those of us who don't want to cook the feast but can still enjoy it, Rainy Day shouts out, "Thank You each and everyone one!"
Best Thai Chef and Best Support Husband;-)

Rainy Day hopes your Thanksgiving Feast was exactly what you wanted it to be, and that you enjoyed it tremendously. Rainy Day certainly enjoyed hers at the Thai Garden Restaurant!! She also recommends any time you are in Kennewick, and looking for a good meal, you, too, go to the Thai Garden! And if you are new to Thai food, this is the place to get introduced. Talk to the waiter, he'll help you decide what to order.

And what was your bestest ever Thanksgiving Dinner, and why?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rainy Day and Masters of the Toast

Rainy Day has been paying attention to the way people speak for a long time. She unabashedly listens in on snippets of conversations when she is in a restaurant, or at the Mall, or wherever people gather and talk to each other loud enough she can hear. And Rainy Day can't help but wonder whatever has happened to our language?

We have become a speech lazy, y'know, nation. We, like, can barely, y'know? get a, like, sentence out without, um, a verbal, ah, pause. Y'know?

Not only has our casual speech degenerated into a chasm so deep as to barely be recognized; Rainy Day finds the same speech reinforced in the movies and tv shows.

A few weeks ago, Rainy Day attended a meeting, where the speaker gave a talk to writers, and wannabe writers, on writing. Rainy Day admits the notes Ms. Author distributed were quite interesting, but, y'know, like at least, y'know, 50% of like, her talk, was filled with, like, y'know. This person has sold novels, and gives talks to the public. Rainy Day truly believes Ms. Author is unaware of her verbal pauses, and subsequent turn-off of potential buyers and readers. Rainy Day is pleased to announce she did not scream, "No! I don't know!" every time Ms. Author used that phrase. Nor did Rainy Day comment that, "No she really did not like...". Rainy Day has a tad more couth than that. Not much, mind, but a tad.

J. A. Jance, Author
And Ms. Author is not alone. Rainy Day knows several writers who, ah, um, can't talk without, ah, um, verbally pausing instead of just pausing. Rainy Day admits to doing it, too, especially if she's around others who use verbal pauses frequently. Rainy Day also admits she tries very hard not to use verbal pauses. Alas, Rainy Day is a natural mimic, y'know?

Hence the title of this essay – Masters of the Toast, or Toastmasters. Rainy Day has belonged to Toastmasters twice in her life, and learned a great deal from the experiences. Not that Rainy Day plans a career of public speaking, but she does now and then read poetry and selected prose in public. And Rainy Day hopes to do more as her books are bought and read.

Toastmasters Clubs are all over the world. One can find a meeting to fit into one's schedule – early morning, lunch hour, or evening. Toastmasters offers a safe place to learn both speaking skills and leadership skills, even if you never do anything in the way of public speaking beyond offering a toast at a family gathering – or participate in a writer's convention. Rainy Day remembers her first Toastmasters group and how many of the members were managers at the large aerospace company where Rainy Day worked. These men and women used Toastmasters to present and polish their upcoming pitches to customers or higher-level managers. Rainy Day learned a lot about her company in that Toastmasters club.

If you are a writer, of either prose and or poetry (would both be 'Prosety?'), Rainy Day thinks Toastmasters is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Unless you want to sound like, y'know, a professional, uh, like, ahhh, ath-a-lete.

Her latest book - Buy it! Read it!
Don't just take Rainy Day's word for it; take the word of professional writers, such as J. A. Jance. She, too, recommends Toastmasters to all newly published or about to be published writers. If you speak well, people will trust that you also write well. If y'know, like your speech is like filled with, ah, verbal pauses and useless words, people will think your writing is, too.

(Note: Rainy Day uses photos and reference to J. A. Jance with J. A. Jance's knowledge and permission.) 

Do you fill your pauses with something verbal? Or do you pause with your mouth closed while you think of what you are going to say? Where did 'like' and 'y'know' come from as verbal pauses? Ummm, what do you think of those, ummmmm, noisy fillers?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rainy Day, the Book Launch, and a Suggested Winter Gift List

Before going to our regularly scheduled column, Rainy Day absolutely must interrupt for just a minute, or perhaps, three. You see, a very special and wonderfully nice thing happened to Rainy Day this past Monday, and she absolutely must share. Rainy Day had lunch with a friend at P. F. Chang's Chinese Bistro (one of Rainy Day's favoritest places;-) and she wore her Vietnam Women's Memorial tee shirt. Jennifer, a lady who works at P. F. Chang's complimented Rainy Day on the shirt and a short conversation ensued. When Jennifer found out Rainy Day was a Vietnam Era Vet of the Women's Army Corps, Jennifer not only thanked her for her service, but she bought Rainy Day's lunch, too! Rainy Day had been thanked before, but no one ever bought her lunch for her time in Service. Rainy Day thinks any company who honors our Vets, such as P. F. Chang's should be patronized and supported. And she thanks P. F. Chang's for hiring people like Jennifer and supporting our Vets.

You are now returned to our regularly scheduled verbiage:-)

Now, you might be thinking from the title above, that Rainy Day has yet another book out. Don't be thinking that. Rainy Day only has 3 books out (see right side of blog); however, her friend Karen Fisher-Alaniz, has a new book out. And Saturday 12 November 2011 was the official launch thereof. A fitting date as the book is about Murray fisher's time in WWII, and therefore a Veteran.

Because both Karen and her Father live in Walla Walla, Washington, that's where the Launch was held. Not only was it held in their home town, but Murray Fisher came and signed books right alongside of Karen. To be honest, Rainy Day isn't so sure he's Karen's dad – he looks more like a Christmas Elf who escaped Santa's Workshop;-)

Murray & Karen at Anchor for USS Arizona

And, the signing was held in the Old Depot. Murray Fisher was the last man to work there when it was an operating train depot. He literally turned off the lights and locked the doors when he left. There are a lot of memories and history in that building. Today it is a restaurant (Jacobi's) and a gathering place for book launches and other community activities.

Rainy Day has a lot in common with Karen – they both write – though not the same genre, they both come from rail-road families (Rain Day's Grandpa Good used to be Chief Engineer at the Portland, Oregon Roundhouse; both her Dad and her Aunt worked for the rail roads – her Dad hated it, her Aunt loved it. Go figure.).

Book Cover
If you're ever in Walla Walla, be sure to stop at the Old Depot and look around. The food at the restaurant is good, too. Perhaps you'll luck out and be able to eat in the old dining car attached to the restaurant. (Photos were furnished by Karen Fisher-Alaniz and used with her permission.)

Now, Christmas is coming. It does that, annually, at the same time every year. And Rainy Day knows many of you wait until the last minute to even remember it, let alone think about gifts, so here are some ideas. Order now, and you'll have time to enjoy the Holidays. Yes, Rainy Day knows that Thanksgiving isn't here yet, but if you get your gifts now, you'll have time to read them before wrapping them. Of course, Rainy Day knows there will be books. There will be books, won't there, Gentle Readers?

Rainy Day's Suggested Gift List:

For the History buff, a copy of Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything –by Karen Fisher-Alaniz. It is available at your local bookstore as well as through Amazon.com. It is Memoir at it's finest. Read the reviews on Amazon.com

For the Young and young at heart, how about Yadh, the Ugly –by Lenora Rain-Lee Good. A story of the adventures of a girl who is different and how she learns different isn't bad, it is just, well, different. Available from Sam's Dot Publishing  or a signed one from the author at: (copy and paste) Lenora@LenoraRain-LeeGood.com

For the person who has everything, including the books listed above, a gift in his or her name of a flock of chicks, a hive of bees, a dairy goat, or anything else that Heifer International sells to help others less fortunate.   A gift through Heifer can help lift an entire community out of poverty. It is, truly, a gift that can, and does, change lives for the better. (One can buy shares of an animal, if the whole one is too much.)

For the Quilter on your list, a Fat Quarter is always loved and appreciated. (A fat Quarter is a quarter yard of quilting fabric cut at 18" x 22" instead of 9" x 44") The nice thing about FQs is the color and or print doesn't matter, it will be loved, cherished, and end up in a quilt. They truly are a 'one size fits all' type of gift.

And don't forget fine art and or photographs. Look to the right of this blog for some excellent artists and photographers. Yes, that's a hint. Rainy Day loves beautiful paintings and photographs.

Last, but not least, consider a Box of Love that holds coupons for things such as free leaf rake n bag; free babysitting while the parents use the gift card to a nice restaurant; a weekend away at a favorite hideaway with that special someone; coupons for dinner cooked and cleaned up by you; coupons for ten nights of KP duty redeemable on demand throughout the year.

Rainy Day hopes this list of suggestions has helped you to face the Holidays with a bit more joy and a lot less hassle. Rainy Day does her best to bring a bit of lightness into your life. She truly hopes she succeeds;-)

Do you ever make your presents? What do you make? Are your homemade presents for special folk, or everyone on your list? Oh, wait; all the people on your list are special, aren't they? What was the best gift you ever received?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rainy Day and her Convictions

One of Rainy Day's most favoritest movies in the whole wide world, is the 1967 moie, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? If you're not familiar with the movie, Rainy Day gives it 10 stars out of five, you need to become familiar with it. The story centers around the Drayton family, a white upper middle class liberal, progressive family, and their blonde daughter, Joey, who comes home with her fiancé, Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) and the soul searching all parties concerned must face. One of the best lines is between the Monsignor (Cecil Kellaway) and Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) when the Monsignor laughs and says something to the effect of, "It isn't every day I get to see a man come face to face with his convictions."

And it isn't every day when any one gets to come face to face with his or her convictions, but Rainy Day did, not too long ago.

A Song Bird Singing of Convictions
One of Rainy Day's long held convictions is that those who are sent to prison for a crime should be rehabilitated, and when released, given the benefit of the doubt. She think it works, at least when the prisoner wants it to, and gets some support on the outside. For those of you fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, a case in point is Dave and his Killer Bread. A four-time loser for drug misuse, he now puts out the bestest bread money can by, Dave's Killer Bread. Click here for his story. Get to the nearest grocery store for the bread. (BTW, Dave gave permission to use this paragraph and the link.;-)

And so, when Rainy Day decided to try one of the online dating sites, and met the most gorgeous hunk of old world manhood, Drago (not his real name), she was swept off her feet. Drago came from the old Yugoslavia as a teenager, but he kept that old world charm, the deep, European voice, and those old world manners. Rainy Day really thought she had met her man. And then, one day, as Drago and Rainy Day talked on the phone, he said a couple of things that didn't sound quite right. Nothing big, nothing serious, but just not 'right.' Rainy Day remembers the incidents he talked about, and she remembered them very differently than Drago did.

That night, Rainy Day couldn't sleep, so she went online and Googled Drago. Several pages came up and they weren't good. Drago had not only done prison time, but he did his time in a Federal Penitentiary for illegally selling guns. Rainy Day ran smack dab into one of her convictions. Owwweeeee!!! Did that ever hurt! (Rainy Day also loves to use exclamation points, can you tell?)

It took a couple of days before she talked to Drago to get his side of the story. Perhaps, she hoped, spending two years in a cell contemplating the error of his ways, was enough. Perhaps, like Dave above, something good came out of that time. Perhaps he was sorry for what he did (5 of the guns he illegally sold ended up being used in the commission of felonies – including the fatal shooting of a police officer. One of the guns ended up in a boy's backpack and taken to Junior High School. No one was hurt.). So, Rainy Day called Drago and held her breath hoping for the right answer. Rainy Day turned very blue.

His only remorse seemed to be that he was caught. He insisted he only exercised his Second Amendment Rights. Rainy Day, having served in the military to defend that Constitution and its Amendments had a different idea. Amendment II to the US Constitution reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Nowhere does it say one can buy and sell weapons without proper and legal paper work.

Blooming Where Planted
Drago and Rainy Day talked, and the more they talked, the more proud he seemed for the time he spent in prison, and the sadder Rainy Day became. Had he admitted his wrongdoing, had he shown true remorse, they might be together today; however, Rainy Day, having faced her conviction, had no choice but to say Goodbye. For, one of her convictions is to not become willingly and knowingly involved in illegal activities, or with men who commit them.

In the meantime, Rainy Day assures me, she won't date anyone without checking him on Google. She is now dating a gentleman she'll call George. The 'worst' thing Rainy Day could find about George is he used to run marathons in his younger days;-)

Rainy Day says convictions are good things to have. They help her as she wanders down life's path, but sometimes, they are hard when bumped into.

What are some of your convictions? Have you ever bumped into any?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rainy Day and Monsters of the Night

Once upon a time, Rainy Day was a little girl. And she loved Halloween. Rainy Day loved Halloween as much, possibly more, than Christmas because she got candy. Lots of candy. And cookies. Lots of cookies. Why, when Rainy Day was 4, and it was summer, and she wanted some candy, and her Mommy said there was no candy, Rainy Day put on her Halloween mask, and went around to all the neighbors and rang their doorbells. When they answered, she said, "Trick or Treat." The neighbors laughed, and gave her candy. Rainy Day thought it might turn into a pretty good racket, but her Mommy was a stick in the mud, and thus ended perpetual Halloween for Rainy Day.

As Rainy Day grew, and collected a coterie of friends, they looked forward to Halloween. Not so much for the candy (though, with Rainy Day's sweet tooth, the candy was definitely an added bonus) but for the fun of dressing up and going around the neighborhood and being sillier than normal. One year, an old man came to the door, very grumpy, and said his wife had just died and he didn't have any candy. He slammed the door in their faces. Now, Rainy Day and her friends were old enough to understand he didn't have time to buy candy, or perhaps even think about it, but young enough that they truly didn't understand his grief.  They left. They walked to the corner of the block, stopped, looked at each other, and laughing with great glee, ran back to the grumpy man's door. They set their bags of loot on the porch, rang his doorbell until they heard him coming, and ran, leaving their loot. Rainy Day has often wondered if he appreciated their gift. It was the only way they could think of to help him in his time of loss.
The first to ring Rainy Day's doorbell

Eventually Rainy Day became a housewife. She spent days before Halloween baking and decorating cookies, and packaging them in bags to hand the scary creatures that dared to ring her doorbell. Rainy Day remembered the fun she had, and delighted in sharing that fun with the children of her neighborhood. Then, people started being mean, putting contaminated treats in the bags of small and innocent monsters, and homemade treats were no longer appreciated, everyone had to buy individually and factory wrapped treats. No more homemade treats. A lot of the joy of Halloween left Rainy Day.

The second to ring the bell
Then, she discovered the little monsters invaded the local Mall, so Rainy Day and her friends grabbed their scary masks, and spent Halloween at the Mall, drinking lattes while watching the little monsters go from store to store to store. That made a lot of sense to Rainy Day – the malls were safe, they were well lit, the kidlets didn't have to dress in extra clothes, or take a chance on their costumes being destroyed by winds or rains. And Mom tagged along carrying all the coats.

And then Rainy Day had children, and the true joy of Halloween returned. Now, Rainy Day stays home on Halloween to keep her animals company, and answer the door to the few children whose parents take them to the neighbors and not to the malls. Every year there seems to be fewer and fewer trick or treaters, and more and more candy left over for Rainy Day to eat before it spoils. Perhaps Rainy Day should save it for summer? In case one of the local kids comes by for a "Trick or Treat."

Have you noticed a decline in the number of kidlets at your door? Do you dress up to answer the door and pass out candy? How do you celebrate Halloween?

And for you who have yet to reach your sugar high, a recipe from Rainy Day's friend, Nonie:

6 Butterfinger candy bars (regular size, or equivalent) (save a bit for the top)
12 oz container Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust

Crush candy bars. Add to Cool Whip. Dump into crust. Freeze. Option: Add 1/2cup softened peanut butter to about 1 cup cool whip before mixing in candy. Spread on crust, drizzle with ice cream caramel sauce, THEN add the cool whip and candy mixture.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rainy Day and eAddresses

A Rose by any other name is still Cute & Pretty

Rainy Day thinks electronic addresses should reflect the name of the person, rather than something 'cute.' She has nothing against cute addresses, really, however if people are going to send emails out telling her to change their address from CutenPretty@ISP.com to  CutenessCounts@ISP.net, they at least ought to put their real name someplace in the email.

After all, ALL of Rainy Day's friends are cute and pretty (or cute and handsome), and how is she supposed to remember which one is that one. She tried finding CutenPretty in her address book, but, alas, she couldn't find it. Does she know this person? Should she really bother to update her address book? Should she write back and ask who this person is? And possibly annoy her oldest and bestest friend? Should she just delete the whole email and go have another glass of red?

She has received emails with only a single punctuation mark in the name section, !@isp.com, or two or three symbols, *&$@isp.com. And when these people send emails out, they don't bother to sign them with their real names, so poor Rainy Day hasn't a clue who wrote the email. And her automatic address book is filled with such addresses, with no name attached. Can you see Rainy Day rolling her eyes? Don't you feel sorry for Rainy Day? Well, at least a little bit?

Needless to say, Rainy Day deleted CutenPretty's email, and is now enjoying another glass of red, so if you are a friend of Rainy Day, and wonder why you haven't heard from her in a while, perhaps that's the reason. Drop her a note, sign it with your name, so she knows who you are.

What do you think about email addresses? Do you think they should contain at least a hint of the person's name, or do you think something cute and original and different is fine? Perhaps Rainy Day is just getting old?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rainy Day and the Adoption

Many years ago, when Rainy Day was a very small girl, she and her Mommy and Daddy lived in an apartment complex in Klamath Falls, Oregon. It was here that Rainy Day played with Granddaddy Longlegs as pets. Rainy Day is happy to announce she no longer plays with spiders. But, that's another story.  It was while she lived in this complex that Rainy Day's Mommy had Rainy Day take a bath in the middle of the day, when she wasn't even dirty, and get all dressed up in her best party dress.

"Where are we going, Mommy?" Rainy Day asked, excited at the prospect of ice cream or other worthwhile adventures.

"We're going next door to see Mrs. Smith. We're going to give her a present."

"Why? Is it her birthday? Will there be a party? With ice cream and cake?" (Can you tell, Rainy Day has a thing for ice cream and cake?)

"No, Rainy Day, we're going next door to welcome her new baby boy."

"But, Mommy, she was never fat in her tummy. How can she have a baby?" Rainy Day, also known as the Question Kid, knew that babies grew in Mommy tummies, and that Mrs. Smith was skinny and always had been. At least since Rainy Day knew her.

"They adopted a little boy. Hurry now. And take this present to give her."
Mommy and Adopted Girl

Whoa. Not so fast, Mommy. "What's doption?" That must have been a good question because Rainy Day's Mother stopped walking, turned, and looked at Rainy Day. Rainy Day could tell her mother was thinking because her face was all scrunched into her thinking face.

"Sweetie," uh-oh, it was going to be one of those conversations. Even at age three, Rainy Day could tell about those conversation, they always began with 'Sweetie.' "Sometimes Mommies can't grow a baby in their tummies, so they go to a, uh, special place, and choose a special baby to be theirs."

"You mean, like a Baby Store?"

Rainy Day's Mommy relaxed, "Yes. That's it. Like a baby store."

African Peach Faced Love Birds at the Baby Store?
Now, Rainy Day thought that sounded great. Some babies went to the Baby Store, and parents who really wanted them came in, looked around, and said, "Oh, we'll take this one! She's perfect."

"Am I dopted?" Of course, what Rainy Day wanted to know was, well, was she really special. Did her parents really want her, or were they just stuck with her because she grew in her Mommy's tummy and they had to keep what they got.

"Oh, no, Rainy Day. Mommy grew you in her tummy."

It was years before Rainy Day recovered from that shock. As she went through school, and met kids who were adopted, she was always secretly jealous. Now, of course, she has a bit more understanding of what adopted children go through, but when she was young, she had no such understanding. And every time some kid in her class said he or she was adopted, Rainy Day turned bright green with envy.

As Rainy Day went through two pregnancies, she often thought of that mythical Baby Store, and wondered if perhaps that wasn't a better way. She wondered that most especially at the end of the pregnancies when it was impossible to get comfortable whether she reclined in bed, or sat on the sofa. She wondered that most especially when her labor pains began.

Rainy Day now has two grown children, and one grown grandchild, and she wouldn't trade any of them.  Not after all she went through to have them and raise them. She wants to enjoy the fruits of her labors;-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eric and the Orcas

Rainy Day was just thinking she ought to at least consider taking a vacation from her blog when her good friend Eric, sent the following story. I thought it was great, and he gave permission for me to post it. Unfortunately, because neither Eric nor I had cameras, there are no photos for this blog; however, there are many images online. 


On Saturday my buddy and I were searching for pink salmon ("humpies") along the west side of San Juan Island.  We found schools of them moving up the shoreline, jumping and nosing above the surface.  It was a simple matter to motor a hundred yards out in front of a school, shut off the engine, and wait for them to come to us.  Casting a buzz-bomb lure anywhere near the group resulted in it being chased by a dozen fish all the way back to the boat -- I have never seen anything like it! 

Yesterday we went out again, and this time the ladies joined us.  At around noon, humpies began to appear on the surface and we went to work.  Shortly after we stopped, one of the local resident populations of orcas moved in to feed on the same schools of salmon.  It was a large area, and eight or nine killer whales moved around the fishing fleet (including a couple of lone fishermen in kayaks) without any cause for concern.  It's a common occurrence in the San Juan Islands so we just watched and kept fishing, ready to pull our lines out of the water if they got close. 

Paul hooked a salmon and played it most of the way to the boat.  Vanessa stood by with the net, but the fish wasn't yet tired enough to be taken in.  Then two orcas, a mother and calf, headed in our direction.  There was no cause for real alarm -- until they came straight at us.  From our bird's-eye view up on the bow, Christie and I shouted a warning to the others, and they made a last lunge with the net.  Vanessa hauled the salmon out of the water a fraction of a second before mother orca emerged from directly under the boat, angled up at hunting speed with mouth open. 

Losing the salmon to her would not have been an issue by itself.  We would gladly have forfeited it except for the risk of fouling her on our tackle or net, so we literally snatched lunch from the orca's jaws.  On that note, there was no worry about mom going hungry -- plenty of humpies around for everyone!  The only regret is that there were no cameras at the ready; but this picture is forever imprinted in my memory.


Rainy Day is very glad that her friends got the fish, and the Orca Mommy didn't, for just the reasons listed above. Rainy Day also considers herself very fortunate that as a young girl sailing with her Uncle Carl, she got to see a pod of orcas as they swam next to the boat. That was the same day she saw a herring ball! And, like Eric and his friends, there wasn't a camera in sight, so her memories must remain just that – Kodak Moments of the Mind. Rainy Day thinks orcas are some of the most beautiful animals in the world and she is just a wee bit jealous of Eric and his story. Especially since he only shared the story, and none of the salmon.

For those of you not familiar with the San Juan Islands they are, according to Wikipedia, "an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada." The San Juan Islands are part of the Washington State. There is a nice map on the site and some very interesting information. Rainy Day suggests you check it out.
Have you ever had an up close and personal moment with a wild orca? Another wild critter? Rainy Day would love to hear about it. Please click on the underlined word, comments, below and a comment box should magically appear for your use.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rainy Day and the Fifth Annual Jam Session

Last year's photo of 3 Jamsters by Judith W.

Rainy Day, as most of you know, has a large Family of Choice (FOC). This FOC includes Brothers of Choice (BOC), Sisters of Choice (SOC), and various Nieces, Nephews and Children of Choice (NOC). There will be a test, at some time in the future, so be sure to remember all those acronyms! (For those of you who have forgotten the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation – you can pronounce an acronym as a word – SOC, laser, etc. – and you cannot pronounce an abbreviation – MRM, TTFN, etc. There, you learned something almost useful this day. Wasn't that fun? And there will be a pop quiz on the difference betwixt acronyms and abbreviations, too!)

Freezer at beginning
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, kitchen....  Lee and Nancy, two of Rainy Day's SOCs came to visit her last Thursday night. They had a short visit, a short glass of red, and got everything unpacked from the car, and went to bed for a short night's sleep. On Friday morning, they were in the kitchen heating the bath water for the jars, cooking the ginger for the final time (Rainy Day always gets the ginger ready to go because it takes four separate cookings over as many days). Canton Ginger is the 'official start' of the Jam Session. They then spend the next three days in the kitchen, with now and then breaks for eats (when they have time and remember) and sleep (when they can no longer function safely.)

This year, they spent about 17 hours in the kitchen on Friday, slightly less on Saturday, and somewhat more on Sunday. They used 40 different recipes and put up 415 jars of jam.  One jar broke in the bath, which was a minor set back (and a pain in the sit-down-upon!) as they had to empty the pot, refill it, and bring it back to boiling. In the five years Rainy Day has been doing this, it's the first time a jar has broken. Nancy, the Kitchen Boss, has been canning since she was knee high to a grasshopper, and says it was her first, too.

Actually, the breakage was a good thing. 414 can be divided equally by 3, so there was no fighting <snicker, snort> over the odd jar.

Island full of jars and ready for jamming (note coffee)
They made a lot of chutneys, one recipe of yellow squash relish that is a lot like some of the zucchini relishes they've had, only prettier. They figured out how to process the Damson Plums left from last year and made gobs of Damson Jams – 4 different kinds! They made their world famous Plum Ketchup, Asian Pear Marmalade, Cherry jams, and I don't remember what all. And four recipes of Caramelized Onion Jam. See way down below for a complete list, and where to find the recipes.

Kitchen table holding stuff
Fresh fruit and jars, more jars
They found a recipe online, at the Tigress in a Jam blog site that looked really, really yummy. Peaches and Lemon Basil; forever more to be known as 'Raccoon Delight.' Alas, the refrigerators were full, and it had to set overnight to macerate in a cool place, so it was covered and left in the garage. Uh, NOT! Seems the combination of the cat's food that had been temporarily relocated to the garage for the duration, and the smell of the fresh fruit was just too much temptation for the local raccoons. So, you'll have to wait until next year for a report on that jam. (The cat food is kept in a tall plastic container with drawers. Those pesky varmints had not only turned the little 3-drawer gizmo upside down, they had shoved it across the garage, and were trying to get it out the cat door. Raccoons are pretty smart, and spatially oriented when it comes to what they can and cannot fit their fat little bodies through and into, but when it comes to plastic stuff, uh, not so much.

Do you see why it didn't all get to the jam pot?
The surprising thing, to the 3 Jamsters, is that the freezer was full when they started, and it's still full now! Of course, they did have three cases of fresh fruit to stop and prep – peaches and plums, and, oh, yum, was that ever nice! And tasty. (Need Rainy Day explain that there were several slices of each that did not make the entire transition from sink to cooking pot? ;-) The nice thing is, they now have fruit prepped and ready for next year, the not quite so nice thing is, the empty and turned off freezer is where Rainy Day stores her jam!

414 jars of Yummmm!
Now Rainy Day is trying to catch up on her sleep, and to continue to do her part in this annual gig, she is also taking extra naps for her two SOCs who had to return to the Big City and their respective jobs! This being retired is a tough job, but Rainy Day is up to it! Or, is that 'down' to it?

Freezer at end of Jam Session

And, just in case you want to see exactly what we did...and perhaps try some of the jams...

How much sugar?
Canton ginger
Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking
Caramelized Onion Jam
Damson Plum Jam
Damson Plum-Orange Jam
see: Damson Plum Jam
Ginger Cardamom Peach Jam/Butter
Tart and Sweet, p. 95
Gingered Damson Plum Jam
see: Damson Plum Jam
Gingered Pear Marmalade
The Home Canning and Preserving Book, p. 164
Jalapeno Jelly

Jalapeno-Habanero Jelly

Mango Chutney (w/ almonds)
The Home Canning and Preserving Book, p. __
Mango-Apple Indian Chutney (no nuts)
Putting Food By, p. 316
Peach Chutney (no nuts)
The Home Canning and Preserving Book, p. __
Peach with Brown Sugar and Rum Jam
Fancy Pantry, p. 121
Peach with Cardamom Chutney (w/ almonds)
Art of Preserving, p. 54
Plum and Raisin Chutney
Art of Preserving, p. 57
Plum Ketchup

Plum Ketchup “concentrate”

Raspberry-Rose Jam
Red Bell Pepper Jelly
Art of Preserving, p. __
Spiced Damson Plum Jam
see: Damson Plum Jam
Yellow Summer Squash Relish
Lenora's Cousin
Blackberry-Strawberry-Peach Jam
Blueberry Marmalade
Blueberry-Rhubarb Jam
Cherry Jam
Cherry Marmalade
Cherry-Blackberry Jam
Cherry-Raspberry Jam
Gingered Cherry Jam
Peach Marmalade
Peach-Blueberry Jam
Peach-Blueberry-Raspberry Jam
Peach-Raspberry Jam
Raspberry-Blueberry Jam
Raspberry-Orange Jam
Raspberry-Rose Jam (low-sugar version)
Strawberry Jam
Strawberry-Raspberry Jam
Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

So, have we inspired you to go forth and jam? Are you hoping one of us will invite you over for toast and jam? Doncha wish you were on our Winter Gift List? What do you think about our weekend's work?