Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lark Rise to Candleford

I was made aware of the BBC Series, "Lark Rise to Candleford," through other blogs. It received high praise for viewers loved the acting, characters, beautiful cinematography, experiences of a simpler time, lack of violence, and all around good story telling.

I took the bait and clicked here. All four seasons have been put on You Tube in approximately 10 minute segments (six segments make up one episode.) Unfortunately, the series ended mid-February 2011.

I especially enjoyed watching Lark Rise on the ipad as we traveled this Spring. Ipads have amazing visuals and the you tube segments look stunning on it. One of the joys of this series is that each shot looks like it could be a painting. Olivia Hallinan plays Laura Timmins (Flora) in the BBC series.

I soon found myself researching more and found the series is based on a trilogy of the same name written by Flora Timms Thompson, pictured above, in the late 1930's and early 40's. The trilogy is a loose memoir of Flora's (Laura in the series) which expounds upon life in the countryside of England in the late 1800's.

I found a copy through my countywide library system. It was a yellowed paperback from the 1970's but it served my purpose well. I began the book halfway through watching the 42 episodes and that actually seemed like a good time to start. I knew enough about the characters to pick them out in the book as well as the development of story lines. My viewing enriched the book and the book my viewing.

Monday, May 30, 2011


These two are my maternal uncles, Lowell and Elden, and my mother's older brothers. They both served during WWII, one in the air over Germany and Austria and the other on the ground making his way through France (just as his father did in WWI.) They both survived the war, but it changed their lives forever. They have both since passed on.

The blond kneeling down in the middle is Lowell posing with his USAF squadron. Lowell was the upper turret gunner on the crew of J. Thomas of the 746th. I always take pause when I realize how young they all were and how it did not end well. They were shot down on a bombing run and the survivors spent the last months of the war in a German POW camp, including my uncle.

The view out my front door early this morning.
On this day, I am grateful for all who have served and fought to save our individual freedoms. I am also grateful for Boy Scouts who rise early in the morning to plant a flag in my front yard and help me remember.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunflowers and Lovebirds

Glen plants sunflower seeds on the front corner of our lot for the neighborhood each spring. They are quite showy.

It is always fun to watch how fast they grow and how tall they become.

When Glen started doing this, he had no clue that the sunflowers would attract lovebirds, too.

Apparently peach-faced love birds love the Arizona climate (just like "snow birds" :) and are multiplying after escaping or being set free into the wild.

Go here and here to read more. I always thought the "feral" applied to just cats, but I guess there are also feral lovebirds. This picture is the camouflage version.

You have to be an early riser to see them enjoying a sunflower seed snack, usually about 5:15 - 5:45 am. They come out shortly after the sun.

Glen has seen as many as a dozen at a time chowing down. They hang this way or that and eventually pick those sunflowers clean.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Civil War Quilt blog

Yesterday I ran across a wonderful Blog. Barbara Brackman began the blog in January in honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War.

It is part Civil War history and part quilt block design. The author posts a different quilt block with directions each Saturday with a bit of history of a real person living during the Civil War which the block represents. She also includes links to historical sources. There will eventually be 52 different 8 inch blocks. I posted a picture of the block presented today.

I love the snippets of Civil War history. I also really like the quilt blocks. I soon found myself googling sources for fat quarters of Civil War reproduction fabrics. I also found this additional Blog with added tutorials for each block presented at Civil War Quilt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My father's birthday

I just realized that today would have been Gary 'R' Ostler's 83rd birthday if he were still with us. He has been gone a long time having passed away just months before his 50th birthday. He starting slipping away years before his death. I've often wondered what it would have been like to have a physically strong and strapping father in our home. How might that have changed the dynamics of our family?

I do know that he married well and loved his family. I know that having to physically care for him made his children empathetic and kind. It also made them rely on each other and made them willing to do their part. We watched our mother and marveled at her strength and tenacity.

I love this boyhood picture of my dad in his overalls. I look at him and see my childhood freckles, glasses, and dark hair. I miss you dad and I look forward to meeting you again.

Pretty in pink

There is lots of pink in the garden right now. Just a month ago, there was mostly white.

That's part of what I love about gardening, the constant changes brought on by the sun as it cycles through the year.

Pink is luscious and variable.

And sometimes fleeting.

But other times enduring. (This newly planted vinca just might make it through our HOT summer.)

Pink can be surprising.

And trailing.

Or climbing up.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's not all frosting

I had full care of my son's three beautiful daughters for a few days while he and his wife explored Italy. Earlier I posted about one of those daughters and her thoughtful Mother's Day gift and an explanation of how grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.

This time, it was not all frosting. All three came down with a springtime monster virus which necessitated three different trips to the pediatrician on Wednesday, then Thursday, and finally late Friday afternoon with the eventual dispensing of three different doses of antibiotics for ear infections. It was like dominoes. Poor babies!

By Saturday evening we were mostly in the pink except for the baby's runny nose and everyone's coughs.

I love my new sink which is big enough for a baby's bath and also very kind to grandma's back.

Their other sweet grandma, Christy, was in charge the first week as her daughter and my son explored Spain and southern France. There was lots of frosting on her watch with parties and swimming. Ruby wanted to document her owie from trying to swim between Grandpa Randy's legs and bumping into the steps for her parents to see. (The scab was off before they saw it in person.)

The baby was the first to go down and that was the end of Christy's frosting and the beginning of long nights and pediatricians. Wednesday afternoon it took both of us, one to hold the feverish unhappy baby and one to feed and help the older girls.

Fortunately by Saturday afternoon, we felt well enough for some frosting as we left the baby with Grandpa Glen and meet Susan, Heather, and Toby at the the Tempe Fine Arts Center for Childsplay's production of "The Borrowers."

This time they used shadow puppets to differentiate between 5 inch "borrowers" and full size "human beans." It was clever and the props and costumes were outstanding. Last spring we went to "The BFG" and they used marionettes to distinguish between giants and normal people.

The play was based on the first two books in the series by Mary Norton.

We always love to walk around outside before going home. The negative edge pool makes it look like Tempe Town Lake is a part of the fine arts complex.

They are building a foot bridge over the new inflatable dams on the west end in hopes that the bridge will provide shade and prolong the life of the dams.

Here are my two "borrowers" with the pencils they "borrowed." Grandma bought the pencils with real lead and erasers because that is what Grandpa Glen would have done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden rewards

In Arizona, we are currently enjoying the rewards of the "spring garden." Planted mid-February to mid-March, we are now enjoying tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, carrots, new onions, and summer squash.

For pico de gallo, I still have to buy the cilantro (it fades quickly in the heat),

but I'm always very happy when I can prepare a dish with only produce picked from the backyard moments ago.

I may feel rewarded, but my taste buds are extra happy. Fresh picked is always better!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Mario Kart Birthday Party

The Karts are lined up in preparation for our youngest grandson's first birthday party.

There had been much planning and creating for the great race.

Great Grandparents Evelyn and Augie and Grandma Denise had driven in from San Diego to celebrate with their boy.

Momma Mario had been planning it out in her mind for months.

Grandpa Glen had brought his bubble machine for atmosphere.

Oscar the birthday boy was in heaven.

Race #1 begins with the youngest guests.

Momma Mario gives last minute directions.

There were lots of directions for the race course included both front and back yards.

And there were also golden coins to collect.

They were to follow the orange cones.

On your mark, get set, and


Toby heads for the front after mastering the back.

Left or right? I don't know!

Now around the lemon tree.

Race #2, the older kids.

And they are off!

Grandpa Glen was not only the bubble/balloon man, he also manned the grill and had the hot dogs and burgers cooking even as they raced.

The older kids were fast!

And Heather finishes first!

Papa Luigi was also party photographer and helped hand out the trophies and prizes.

Oscar's cousins took turns giving him a ride.

Oscar opened his presents while Grandpa finished with the burgers.

The girls "circled" the carts while they ate dinner.

Oscar's beautiful 2nd cousin, Emma, enjoyed playing with one of the prizes.

Time for cake!

Oscar's own special cake was a giant mushroom.

And he dug right in!


By the time he was finished, his face was red all over.

Great job Nichelle! What an amazing party! Oscar and the kids seemed to enjoy every minute!

Happy Birthday Oscar, my little man!

I can hardly believe that a year has already gone by. I also can't believe that your parents gave you a passport and visa for your birthday. I hope you are having a lovely "first birthday" in Rio de Janeiro! It will be a story to tell your grandchildren.