December 31, 2011

Favorite Animal Videos -- Watch and Smile!

My New Year's gift to you, dear friends. Here are some videos from YouTube to make you smile.

December 30, 2011

Small Towns, Farm Towns on Dec. 26

Happy New Year! It seems like just yesterday I was making an effort to remember to write (or type) 2011 instead of 2010. Now, here we are again. When I was a child, a year seemed like, oh, I don't know, like three years seem now. One day at a time, right?

Well, I don't have much else to say about the New Year, except that today is the anniversary of my scary CT-scan dye terror. You can read more here, if you are curious. And, I do want to wish you a Happy New Year. And share with you my photos from the day after Christmas, earlier this week. After taking Bryce back to his home, I took some photos in Washington Court House and then checked the map and decided to take a different route from the Chillicothe to Logan, Ohio, portion of my drive home. Here are scenes from my ride… and a map showing (in red) the route I took from Washington Court House to Chillicothe to Logan to Athens.

For photos of the route from Athens to Chillicothe to Washington Court House (purple route) then home via Washington Court House to Lancaster to Athens (blue route) CLICK HERE. And for another trip of just the blue route in wintertime, CLICK HERE.

Washington Court House, Ohio

Washington Court House, Ohio

Washington Court House, Ohio

Here is the same house as it appeared Dec. 18, 2010.

Back to this week...

Chillicothe, Ohio

Chillicothe, Ohio

Sign for Kinnikinnick, Ohio

Near Adelphi, Ohio

Recipes Restaurant, Adelphi, Ohio (Hocking Hills area)

At the end of the parking lot of Recipes Restaurant

I wonder if this post office is on the list for closings...

Nelsonville, Ohio

All photos copyright 2011 by Janice Phelps Williams. All rights reserved.

December 26, 2011

Comfort and Joy, Christmas 2011

Christmas is over but until January 2nd, the holiday is not, is it? I am taking a light work week this week and am looking forward to some reading, a nap (or two), delving into the two beautiful watercolor botanical illustration books my son, Jesse, gave to me, watching "Islands at War" on Netflix, or visiting the magnificent "The Art Museum" a huge, beautiful, well-organized book of art from cavemen to the 21st century. Jeepers, I have a lot of wonderful things on my list for the coming week. 

But first, a look back on our holiday season, which began when my son, Jesse, called to let me know about the new addition to his family… meet Larry (aka "Mr. Paws"). I am so happy Larry has found his forever home.


Below, you can see our Christmas card pile, including a lovely card with doves from my friend, Janis, and a lovely original drawing card from the talented artist Marion Pack of England.

Bryce completed the Beavis & Butthead drawing tee-shirt transfer project and off we went to visit Flo Clark, who is supportive and interested in all things creative. (See this previous post on her artwork, and here on her dog, Daisy, who passed away earlier this year.) It was lovely to sit with Flo and visit in her son's beautiful sunroom. Bryce wore his decorated shoes.

Farley was worrying about her Christmas present. She realizes, because of her uncanny ability to add and subtract and also smell, that it is not under the tree. Hmmm…

Meanwhile… Bryce was hard at work on a small scrapbook for a relative.

Below you can see a wooden plane ornament, made years ago by my father. Like many families, we have several handmade ornaments and decorations that hold special family memories.

Later in the week, I had lunch with my friend and her daughter, then took her daughter to the mall shopping. It was my first time shopping in the mall with a young teenage girl (or any age teenage girl). What fun! My feet hurt! What fun! It was a very special Christmas treat for me!

Fast forward to this past weekend…

Bryce enjoyed spending time in my art room on Christmas Eve working to enhance the Beavis & Butthead t-shirt with fabric paint while watching a DVD his brother had sent to him for Christmas.

While Bryce was painting, and Mark was watching football, I was making our family's traditional Christmas wreath bread. This bread was made by my mother and served with grapefruit on Christmas morning when I was a child... (and still is, she was making hers the same day, only 1800 miles away). 
Mom has always made some to give to friends and neighbors and for the last several years I have as well. This time I made a double batch and ended up with 5 wreaths. So, after they were done Bryce and I got in the car and visited some friends. 

One of our friends that we visited is a senior citizen who is a better baker/cook than I and probably has twice the energy. She is of Greek ancestry and her home is so beautiful, and was decorated with Santas, angels, trees and many sparkling lights. Bryce declared it "just how I'd want my own home to look, if I had a house of my own." That's high praise. I knew he would love seeing her home. (I wish I'd taken my camera or phone into the house to take some photos!)

At some point, Bryce asked me to take a photo (of the scene below) and email it to Grandma. I did and Grandma replied that this was one of her favorite poses too (with Jackie for a nap). I love having a mother in her ninth decade who emails back and forth sending photos and messages, reading blogs, and following our family's activities as well as any teenager.

On Christmas Eve night I made a huge pan of lasagna and then took Bryce to an historic church downtown to hear the son of a friend of mine sing. He is an opera singer and has been in residence at the Sarasota (FL) Opera. We loved the music, and I loved hearing Bryce belt out "The First Noel."

This is the scene that greeted me and my cup of coffee on Christmas morning. Farley still does not smell  a present for her. That is because I have put it up on the mantle so she would not try to open it before 10 a.m. (You'll notice the gingerbread men my mother made for my sons back when they were small children, in the early 1980s.)

10:00 a.m.
Finally, it is time to open presents!

Here is Bryce looking at the family history scrapbook. Back in June, I started researching our family history on and supplemented it with other searches. I put the information in a 3-ring binder for my sons and my mom (115 pages). It was a wonderful way to spend evenings and weekends and I'm so glad I took the time and had the tools to assemble this information. I learned a lot about history and Bryce will hopefully understand that many many generations before him made the choices they did and the sacrifices as well, to help their descendants have a better life.

Bryce was so happy to receive a Michael Jackson poster, "This Is It" book, and MJ bobble-head figure!

Tyler, ever wanting to be a proper gentleman, sits waiting for a present he might enjoy.


But first… Gracie eyes her Christmas present!

Lucky me! I received some wonderful books. My youngest son sent me three books on my Amazon wish list (2 on botanical art) and Mark surprised me with The Art Museum, below. I received additional very special presents, for which I'm so thankful, including a teddy bear, a DVD I'd wanted, an upside down planter, and handmade soap and a handmade scarf. I am so happy on Christmas day that I can hardly stand it!

Finally! Time for Farley,  Tyler, and Jackie's present!

At supper we enjoyed turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. It was a Thanksgiving-Christmas! Then Bryce and I took Tyler, Farley, and Jackie for a ride in the car to see Christmas lights in our beautiful college town of Athens, Ohio. 

 We also talked with our Florida relatives on the phone and with Jesse and Ashley and also Mark's dad in Shaker Heights. We missed them all very much, but are thankful for all the ways we can keep in touch until we are together again. 

If you missed my Christmas wish for you, please visit THIS LINK.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday week, if you have the time to do so. If not, take heart… New Year's is right around the corner!

December 23, 2011

Merry (insert your hopes here) Christmas!

Our parrot, Gracie, is mesmerized by Christmas.

"Merry Christmas." I've been saying it all week. Sometimes I say "Happy Holidays." Next week it'll be "Happy New Year." What does it mean to be merry?

Merriam-Webster: 1. archaic : giving pleasure (delightful) 2. full of gaiety or high spirits (mirthful) 3. marked by festivity or gaiety 4. quick, brisk (a merry pace)
Macmillan: 1. British informal: slightly drunk 2. old-fashioned: happy and lively
American Heritage: 1. full of high-spirited gaiety; jolly 2. marked by or offering fun and gaiety; festive 3. archaic: delightful; entertaining 4. brisk
Collins English Dictionary 1. cheerful; jolly 2. very funny; hilarious 3. Brit. informal slightly drunk 4. archaic delightful
Farlex Trivia Dictionary   "First meant 'peaceful' or 'pleasant,' which is what it first meant in "Merry Christmas."

When I wish you a "Merry Christmas" I am wishing you this:

Photo taken from our kitchen window.
"I hope that this season and this day are what you wish them to be this year. If you need family and friends around you (not fighting) and children opening presents (in a happy, light-hearted, non-demanding way) and good food (that is lovingly prepared, artfully presented, or economically delivered), then that is what I wish for you.

"If you dream of a day to reflect on tradition (religious or family or country), to count your blessings, to remember past holidays (with everything noted in previous paragraph)…then that is what I wish for you.

"If you wish an end to commercialism, an end to the hectic feeling of not measuring up to a media-driven image of holiday perfection, an end to the pressure to believe (or do) something that doesn't fit (your brain, heart, family), the hope of an end to personal hardships (financial, medical, or emotional)…then that is what I wish for you."

When I wish someone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday, I mean to include not exclude. In our culture here in southeast Ohio, this is a rather typical thing to say. I am also happy to say "Happy Kwanzaa" or "Happy Chanukah" or "Happy New Year," or "Have a good day." I am open to learning new ways to wish goodwill to others.

I would rather be thought old-fashioned by a person with a heart "two sizes too small" than hard-hearted by a person whose heart might be lonely, challenged, or breaking. I have nothing to prove at Christmas time and this is a wonderful thing. I am free to make this holiday what I need it to be, (without any "shoulds" internally or externally imposed) and to let my hope for this time of year evolve as I grow, drawing on the traditions and memories and "peaceful and pleasant" associations that have led me to appreciate this season. I can also set others to go all out with "high-spirited gaiety" or ignore the day altogether.

I suppose at the heart of what I wish for those I love and those I meet is that they will have what they need to create the December 25th -- and all that poor day seems burdened to hold -- that will do their heart and soul and spirit the most good.

Christmas Day is almost here. From our home to yours…Merry Christmas!

With Tyler, who loves Christmas Day.

PS: Mark and I have received many wonderful, beautiful cards this year and we treasure each one. For the first year ever I have had to forego printed cards due to chronic tendonitis in my writing hand, (which is now, thankfully, nearly healed). I hope this post will serve as a Christmas card of sorts to those of you who mean so much to me. And if I have lived the spirit of Christmas all year long, then you know who you are. Thank you for making my life wonderful.

December 7, 2011

Washington Courthouse & Chillicothe, Ohio

Washington Court House, Ohio 

Well…it was another day driving from Athens, Ohio, to Washington Court House, Ohio, and I was on the look-out for something interesting to photograph… even though the leaves are gone, the amber waves of grain are gone, the brilliant snow and blue skies are not here yet, and spring is so far away I don't even want to think about it. There was not a single interesting farm vehicle lumbering down the road. (If you want to see past sunny and snowy scenes of this same area, click HERE and/or HERE.)

Washington Court House is located west of Columbus, Ohio. We live in Southern Ohio, though, so I approach it from the south, taking the Appalachian Highway west toward Cincinnati, but cutting up on Rt. 35 at Jackson to Chillicothe and then to Washington Court House (thus named due to the Revolutionary War heroes who settled there, and were loyal to George Washington). 

There are many beautiful old homes, new homes, and wonderful new school buildings there. Chillicothe is located a bit farther south. I usually zip past it on my way from one place to another, but today I decided to get off the highway and see what the downtown looked like. It'd been a while since I'd seen it. 

I was drawn to the old things today… 

But I am also continually amazed by the smoke (?) pouring out of a factory of some sort in Chillicothe (you'll notice it too in a photo at the links noted in paragraph one). Today I wanted to see it up close and, boy, was I surprised to find it is just a block away from a school. Kids coming out of school see the white smoke just floating all around. I don't know what it is, but I put my car's air intake setting on "inside air" when I was there, just in case. I mean, it's got to be okay, right? But, jeepers, there were clouds of "stuff" coming out of there. I was wishing Erin Brockovich was in the car with me to tell me if I needed to worry….

Okay, enough editorializing… here are the photos!

In Washington Court House, I stopped to take a photo of this cool truck, which was at a junkyard, and noticed something through the trees.

Here's the junkyard from my car.

Here's my favorite photo of the day! Taken with Hipstamatic "Jimmy" lens on iPhone.
Which do you prefer: the photo taken with my Canon of the truck or the photo taken with the Histamatic iPhone app?

This shape, above,  intrigued me.

I liked this view above because in the distance is what seems to be an abandoned school, from the 1960s, perhaps (they have two beautiful new schools in town. And then there's this even older building in the foreground. Both discarded from different decades. 

So, here I am approaching the smokestacks. The school is just down the road here, to the left of the stacks.

I pulled up alongside the front of the administration building. There was a loading dock just past it and there were a few guys on their way to work.

I wanted to see if I could get a good photo from another side of town, and when I pulled over to take the photo below, this image above was just out the car window to my right. I really like old textures. This reminded me of the institution door on the cover of "My Beginning."

Letting go of my fascination with factories, I headed toward the "downtown" and noticed this house….

Here is a little trump l'oiel! Also, about the only people I saw on the street at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Here is a shot of downtown Chillicothe.

I didn't know what a "New System" bakery was, especially since it had another sign that said it had been in business for 90 years. It required a photograph. I required a peanut butter cookie. It led me to doubt the new system. 

Since the New System Bakery told me they could not sell me coffee but would give me coffee but it was probably "old" having been made "two hours at least" earlier; I had to stop at Krispy Kreme where I did NOT buy anything but a cup of coffee; and it was pretty good. I liked the windows in this place.

Right by Krispy Kreme is the Mission for Christ led by Pastor Vickie somebody. 

I took this photo for my husband, Mark.

All photos copyright 2011 by Janice Phelps Williams. All rights reserved.