Typical Autumn Day – almost

It’s a typical fall day at the O.K. Chorale. Mostly typical, that is. Temperatures were warm – reached 70 this afternoon! – so we raked and mowed and swept leaves. I did look up at the neighbor’s maple and think “We’re not done yet,” but it still felt good to get a lot of this chore out of the way. We dumped some of our leaves on the pile in the street for the public works department to pick up, and we dumped a few tarps full in the garden to insulate the soil for the winter.

The not-so-typical piece? It’s November. We haven’t had a true killing frost or major overnight freeze yet. I’ve been turning the heat off by day because it’s plenty warm without it. And we wonder – is this our new normal?

Halloween was a wonderfully warm evening for trick-or-treat. Amigo sat on the front porch and handed out candy for most of the four hours. He’s very friendly, and he enjoys interacting with everyone who comes along and says “Trick or Treat!”

The local college sent out students, mainly student athletes, to collect for a food drive. Soccer players stopped at our house. We introduced ourselves as alumni, gathered a few boxes and cans, and handed them a few extra bags in the hopes that they’d be able to fill them.

After a successful Halloween night, one in which we did not run out of candy, I took a look at the leftovers. To me, the bowl of tiny peanut butter cups shouted, “Cookies!” Oatmeal cookies, to be exact, but with chopped peanut butter cups instead of chocolate chips or raisins.

Perfect. An unseasonably warm day, followed by cookies made from leftover candy. Readers, how is your weather? Are you concerned about climate change, too? And what did you do with your leftover candy?

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New Year, New Post

Once upon a time, a rather long time ago, I used to blog regularly. I haven’t abandoned Compost Happens, but I haven’t blogged regularly lately, either. Sometimes I posted a retrospective, complete with links, to the first posts of each month in the previous year. Sometimes I posted a brief look back. This year?

Well, I’m relieved that 2020 is over, and I want the Covid19 pandemic to wither away, too. Looking back on the year has a lot of Fortunately, Unfortunately feeling about it.

Unfortunately: the governor shut down schools, offices, and non-essential businesses. Fortunately: Chuck and I are both employed by essential businesses. Also fortunately: my work went on with a few changes, including moving from an office setting to the corner of my living room. Fortunately, I have a vintage writing desk that is just the right size for a laptop.

Unfortunately: Any gatherings of more than 50 people (eventually 10) were cancelled. Amigo’s barbershop chorus lost big on this one. Their main spring show was cancelled (theater that holds around 700 in its audience) and the fall fundraising festival, Octoberfest, was also cut. And worse: rehearsals were cancelled. Singing turned out to be a dangerous activity, a super-spreader of this nasty airborne virus.

Fortunately, the chorus resumed rehearsals by way of Zoom. The director offered voice lessons free, and Amigo enthusiastically joined up.

Many events that mean a lot to our family were cancelled. Much of our entertainment dropped from view, too, including March Madness college basketball and Major League Baseball. When the National Football League resumed play, games had few fans, if any, in the stands. Lambeau Field with no fans? It still looks spooky on TV.

Holidays that usually involve family get togethers — well, didn’t.

Fortunately: we have kept close to family members by text message, email, Facetime, Zoom, Google Meet – thank goodness we are geeky enough to make this work! Petunia (my mother) and Robin (Chuck’s mom) remain isolated, but not fully quarantined. We help them by running errands and we stop by, suitably masked, for visits.

2021? I hope it looks better. And no, I’m not saying any of the dangerous phrases. You won’t hear me say “What else could go wrong?” or “It can’t get worse, can it?” or anything else like that. Oh, oops, I just did. I didn’t mean it! Really!

Readers, here’s wishing you a peaceful and healthy 2021. It can’t…never mind.

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Ah, Barbershop. Harmonizing all the time.

The holiday show in December was a tear-jerker – in a loving, tug-on-the-heartstrings way. Spring show was even bigger: 75th anniversary, Going Platinum, with short videos of members (including Amigo) talking about how and why they keep coming back to sing barbershop.

Being a barbershopper means listening, too. Amigo made friends with our local Sweet Adelines chorus last year when he won the Pie of the Month Club at their Sweetie Pie Social concert and fundraiser. We brought home a big hanging basket of geraniums (door prize) from their spring Barbershop in Bloom program. At the same time, Amigo made friends with two women who sing with Sweet Adelines choruses elsewhere and meet up to enjoy concerts. Amigo and his two new friends had a great talk comparing notes on concert venues and fun times with barbershop harmony.

And the music goes on. Yesterday, Memorial Day, Amigo joined his local chapter in singing patriotic songs for a local celebration. It was pouring rain, so the usual outdoor ceremony was moved into the town administration building. Nevertheless, they persisted, and contributed their harmony to the solemn occasion.

Summer will have many singing opportunities. They’ll sing at the local ballpark with the local symphony orchestra for (are you ready for this?) Brats, Beer, and Beethoven concert. It’s always an experience. They’ll perform a variation on the spring show at an outdoor venue, and that will be a good time, too.

Barbershop harmony started in our family with a Christmas holiday program. It has grown to be a year round adventure. There’s always a reason to sing, no matter what the season.

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Word for the Year – Action

More than a few years ago, in January of 2009, many bloggers welcomed the new year by choosing a word. The word was to provide a focus, guiding changes and progress throughout the calendar year. That year, I chose Action. 

Scrappy Affirmations (look her up, she’s awesome), asked for suggestions of goal words for her key chains. Without thinking further, I suggested Action. 

Action is a natural for this time. To begin with, it means to continue Project Postcard. I’ll print a new set of return address labels to make this action easy.

Don’t have a word yet? Haven’t thought about it? Take a look – adopt one of these or use them as a starting point to find your own.

This is not in any way a sponsored post. You can see “my” word in her collection, and if you check out her page, you’ll see a lot more. 

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Remedies for the Holiday Doldrums

Sights seen on a short shopping trip:

  • A Toys for Tots box filled to overflowing
  • A Brownie Girl Scout troop manning the Salvation Army bells and bucket
  • Happy cashiers – well, at least one was smiling and pleasant.

It wasn’t much, but these short encounters made slogging through the difficult shopping day a bit more tolerable, if not quite pleasant. Now that the gift exchanges are over and the packages (wrapped or not) have been opened, life can settle a little. While the build-up to Christmas itself has its stresses, a few pleasant sights can help keep the season in perspective.

 

 

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Christmas Unwrapped

Hi. My name’s Daisy, and I don’t do wrapping paper. I have a problem in general with single-use items. Plastic grocery bags, plastic spoons, straws, the works. I’m constantly working at eliminating or at least minimizing the impact we have on the planet.

Back to wrapping paper. It’s single-use at its worst. I was almost excited when I saw a post from the county’s Recycling and Solid Waste’s Facebook page.

I can hear you now. “Recycling and Solid Waste? She saw something exciting on the garbage department’s Facebook page?” 

Take a look. Here’s a quote.

Avid recyclers know that wrapping paper and tissue are not accepted in our local recycling program. Local paper mills that recycle the paper we sell them ask us not to accept wrapping paper. 

Do I need to go into the reasons? Okay, I didn’t think so. This totally supports my philosophy on wrapping paper. Which is…

  • I won’t buy it. It’s a waste of money and a waste, period.
  • I will, however, reuse wrapping paper. I’m one of those people: I unwrap gifts carefully and set aside the paper for reuse.
  • I reuse gift bags multiple times.
  • That tissue? I reuse it, too. When it’s no longer in good enough shape to stuff a gift bag, I use it to cushion ornaments and decorations when we put them away.

And so it goes, my friends and family. I am a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to wrapping paper. I love Christmas, I do. But where commercial wrapping paper is concerned, I’m the Grinch.

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Christmas Trees in Packerland

No one fumbles around with the tree in a Green Bay Packer fan household. Diminutive though they may be, these little delights are like prize jewels of the family ornament collection. This roly-poly guy is a jingle bell decked out in Green and Gold and a football uniform.

These two came from a student (oh, she knew me well). They look fragile, but they aren’t. You won’t see them on injured reserve. Tiny and shiny, the crystal snowmen are small enough to fit in a teacup, but they’re prettier near a string of lights that can reflect on their glory.


 They may not be in the playoffs this year, but our tree still shouts “Go, Pack, Go!”

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Teaching Today and Me

Once in a while, the PR arm of our charter school calls on me to help publicize the school by writing a little something. This time around, it was all about keeping the learning going over winter break.

I feel strongly that breaks serve a purpose in schooling. Students, parent-learning coaches, teachers – all of us need a mental and physical break now and then. However, curious minds can keep on searching for new information and fascinating ideas.

So anyway, readers, family, friends, and internet acquaintances, here you have it: Daisy’s take on learning in winter. It starts, of course, with a literature reference. Enjoy!

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Sounds of Christmas

Actual workplace conversations:

I was playing Philly Brass Christmas between 8:00 and 8:30.

Email from a teacher across the room: “Turn up the music!”

My reply: “But they’re playing Silent Night!”

I did adjust the volume. She was laughing out loud.

Later, during a department meeting:

Me to new teacher: “If the music is too loud for you, let me know. I’ll turn it down.”

Him: “I want you to turn it up!”

So anyway, no complaints here. Falalalala.

 

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The Fairies Return with Thanksgiving!

Have you wondered what happened to the Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving? They made an appearance several years ago, along with a Butterball turkey. We’ve been having Thanksgiving over the river and through the woods at Grandma’s apartment for a while, but it’s our turn again. We organized who will bring which dish with a google doc to keep track, and now it’s time to get it all together. It’s time for the Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving to come out of hiding and help us again!

 Thanksgiving Dinner? No problem! I’ll call in the fairies. They’ll do everything.

The laundry fairy washes, dries, and presses the table linens, including the cloth napkins. If she’s feeling generous, the sheets and towels might get folded, too.
The turkey fairy will practice her specialty and make sure the bird is cooked and carved just in time for dinner. White meat and dark, it’ll all be moist and savory and leave just enough leftovers for sandwiches and a turkey noodle soup.
The baker fairy will take care of pies, pumpkin and otherwise. He’s an expert on flaky crust, selected spices, and the perfect portion of whipped cream. Don’t let that Simple Simon guy get in the way; the kitchen’s too small for anyone who begs to taste the wares.
The brownie — the cunning little house elf — will clean the home thoroughly, put the leaf in the big table, and get the extra chairs out of the basement.
I wouldn’t dream of neglecting the wine fairy: the sommelier so tiny she only recommends, never lifts, a bottle. Her taste is impeccable. Now if we could stop her before she over-imbibes and falls asleep on top of the piano…
Did I mention the decorator fairy? She’ll fix the fireplace mantel with something tasteful and seasonal before she makes sure the couch and rocker are properly arranged for the annual holiday gladiator contests known as NFL football.
The ambiance fairy keeps the wood fire crackling in the fireplace, the aromas wafting deliciously through the home, and the family discussions neutral and apolitical.
The kitchen fairies: really, there must be a whole crew of these talented sprites. One to do the shopping early and avoid the crowds, another to make sure the cranberries are perfect (and local, of course), and a magical maestro with the potato masher. Then we’ll need a feisty fairy, one with attitude — yes, you, Tinkerbell, you can make the coffees.

Mom, you can send the fairies over to my house now that we’re hosting the annual family Thanksgiving dinner. Let them know that I’ll have their room ready and their favorite cookies baked. If they arrive on Sunday there should be enough time to get everything done.

Wait. What do you mean…they’re…not….real?

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