Saturday, November 29, 2008

Operation Limoncello

Friend and Neighbor VICTORIA has been working with me for days now, diligently creating home-made Christmas cards {for herself to give - NO, she's not helping me reach my stated goal of 125 for 2008!} ... and if she doesn't stop coming up with cool recipes for us to "make and give away for the holidays", I will never, never, never A) get my cards finished and B) lose a single ounce!

First we had the bright idea {well, it IS a good one, this ...} that we should make HOMEMADE LIMONCELLO {you know it - the oh-so-potent Italian lemon-infused liqueur}. Being half-Italian, I jumped all over that like chocolate on peanut butter. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Not just any Hooch {er, I mean Limoncello} recipe would do, though. NO. Victoria asked her friend Eugenio, down at our neighborhood Vigilucci's {Italian restaurant} the "best" way to do this. His answer, of course, required not one, but two phone calls to Mama in Roma ... I swear it. They were horrified that anyone would attempt to make Limoncello using Vodka {as many recipes call for}. OH NO !!! No, instead, they insist -- INSIST -- that one use Pure Grain Alcohol. You know the stuff -- aka "Everclear". Anyone out there have their very own special memories of this stuff? I do, but I'm not telling.

There's a reason they call it "Everclear", you know. It will forEVER CLEAR one's sinuses out. Did I mention FOREVER?! Yes, and not only that - it's so industrial-strength, it comes with 84 warnings on the bottle, seriously. It could embalm an elephant, just one bottle. With some to spare.
Oh, and did you know that it comes in two "proofs" {ie, strengths}? Yes, it does. 150 proof -- but that's for wimps; and 190 proof. And according to Eugenio and his darling mama, 190 is the ONLY way to go. I'd sure like to meet his Mama some day ...


This presented a bit of a problem. 190 proof is illegal to buy or sell in California. Wow. Although we couldn't find proof in writing that it's illegal to POSSESS it in the Sunshine State, so we procured it via secret sources in Arizona ... and are only USING it here to make our 1,000 proof After Dinner Limoncello. God have mercy, this stuff can clear a ROOM, not just one's sinuses.
Then there's the matter of the LEMONS. One can only use lucious smelling lemons, of course. We used what God provided ... lemons from V's friend John, and a bag full hand-picked by V from another friend's garden -- albeit unbeknownst to them, since they had the good sense to be out shopping on Black Friday when she stopped by to raid the tree!

We zested. We laughed. We got lemon rind all over my kitchen! My friend Debbie stopped by, and thought that for inspiration, we should pull out the commercial-variety of Limoncello {by Caravello} and do some shots. We tried it straight. We then topped it with heavy cream, which "softens" it a bit and makes it like a Lemon Shake. Holy Toledo, did we have fun!

Stay tuned, 'cause this stuff has to brew for ten days, during which, one inverts the jug carefully ONE TIME and then sets it back upright. No shaking. No stirring. And please God, no earthquake. Given the warnings on the bottle of Everclear, we would not survive one of those!
Yours in making home-made Christmas gifts ...
-- D.
I almost forgot to tell you -- yesterday was Day One of Operation Limoncello. TODAY, my friends, it was all about her mother's famous recipe for BUCKEYE BALLS. I kid you not. It's a heart attack in a ball. Melted butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar -- rolled into balls -- once cool, you dip them into melted chocolate chips with nothing less than Paraffin Wax. Honestly, this is scary stuff. EACH LARGE GUMDROP SIZED BUCKEYE BALL has 153 calories, and we're afraid to calculate the FAT GRAMS. Photos to follow.
Come December 15, Victoria is going to take me by the hand to WEIGHT WATCHERS and they are going to hog-tie {no, really, I mean literally HOG tie} me into a new regime. This is ridiculous! And I'm not even consuming all this stuff. I'm just looking at it and the ounces creep on. I swear. Stop laughing at me !!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

the Christmas Card Magic ... continues


Just so you all know, I am STILL STILL STILL making our 2008 Christmas Cards ...
Mark's been a good sport, allowing all the bits & bobs to be spread all over the dining room AND the breakfast nook ...
It's quite the production!
I'm halfway there, or so, and with today being Thanksgiving, there's not a whole lot of time for crafting. I am getting the next batch of ten ready to glue together -- they're still in pieces and parts at this point.
A HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you all ...
Davi ... aka, Princess Magpie {please visit my creative blogsite at http://iamprincessmagpie.blogspot.com to see what I've been up to}

Thanksgiving


Here in So Cal, we've had scattered showers, and I am still convinced that the gray skies of the last three days were entirely due to my playing Christmas music ... early. {had to, in order to be totally immersed in the Christmas Card Making Mood}.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all !!!
About a month ago, I received a delightful e-message from my cousin's wife, Diane ... who our middle daughter got her middle name from ...

The message included a charming Thanksgiving painting {above}, and the following details about the artist:

Doris Lee, born in Aledo, Illinois, was one of the most successful female artists of the Depression era. Her earliest major career achievement came in 1935 when she was awarded the Logan Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago for her painting titled Thanksgiving. The painting received overwhelming support from the public and critics alike and was acquired for the Art Institute's permanent collection. Shortly after receiving the Logan Prize, the Treasury Department awarded Lee the commission to paint murals in the Washington, DC Post Office Building. This was an impressive accomplishment for a young woman struggling for acceptance in the male-dominated art world of the time.
With Diane's permission to post the image and the information, I saved it up just for today.
Whether your Thanksgiving ends up looking like Doris Lee's depiction, or a Normal Rockwell painting, or more like our family's ... a potluck buffet where everyone serves themselves {and usually way too much on the plate!} and sits wherever they like ... ENJOY THE DAY, ENJOY THE PEOPLE YOU ARE WITH, AND REMEMBER TO BE THANKFUL ... for all your many and varied blessings.
I count you as one of mine, that's for sure.
-- Davielle

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FREE is still a GOOD thing ...

... and according to a nifty little STARBUCKS giveaway called GOOD, "good is a collaboration ... of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward."



Have you seen this little newspaper-like rag at your friendly neighborhood Starbucks? Looks like this:

And speaking of GOOD, you might notice that I have a new nail gal -- her name is Sue, and my friend Debbie has been going to her for years -- now that Andi is retired (even if temporarily), I was on the hunt for a really good and affordable nail gal -- and wow, have I found her! She's fast, yet meticulous. I love her !!!

So back to GOOD from Starbucks. The edition pictured herein is No. 011, and it is dated November 20-26, 2008. From the cover ... "This is the Good Sheet. It's a weekly series breaking down an important issue to help make sense of the world around us. Exclusively available at Starbucks." { visit www.GOOD.is to see each of the Good Sheets }

No. 011 is entitled "Holiday Economy", and boy, does that hit close to home. For me, for us, for just about everyone in my universe. Of course, being Starbucks, they do say 'Tis the Season to be Spending', right on the cover !!!

What I learned from this Good Sheet, and I wonder ... did you know that:

30 - 35 MILLION real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year ???

20 BILLION cards, letters, and packages are delivered by the US Postal Service between Thanksgiving and Christmas ??? {compared to 192 billion pieces del'd by USPS during the rest of the year}


$9.3 BILLION was spent on "BLING" {ie, jewelry store sales} during November & December of 2007 ???

$700 MILLION in candle sales were reported during the 2007 holiday season ??? { that's 350 million pounds of wax !!! }


and 67 MILLION turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving and Christmas ??? {the turkey industry produced an estimated 269.8 million turkeys in 2007 ... so where did they all go !???}

Those are some ginormous numbers. I had no idea. Call me clueless!


I won't go into what the Good Sheet has to say about ... consumer debt and all that. It's depressing, and it's mind-boggling.

FREE is good, yes, it is.

-- D.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The results are just about in ...

The little holiday survey to the left is about to expire - tomorrow, I believe -- and so far, the results are pretty much how I thought they'd come in. Shown below the possible answers is the # of votes each has received thus far, and the percentage it represents. Interesting !!!

So the question was:

When is it okay to exclude FAMILY MEMBERS from a family gathering?

The answer choices were:

Never - if everyone cannot be included, don't throw the party
-0- 0%

Only under Extreme Conditions - like they are certified sociopaths or recently escaped from Prison on Murder Charges
-3- 16%

When they are Step Relatives (like that makes a difference?)
-0- 0%

If the cut-them-from-the-list-mood strikes, like "I can't handle too many guests, so I will just leave out some of the family"
-2- 11%

Ooooh, that's not cool - in fact, in OUR household, ALL comers are welcomed - even NON-relatives who might not have anywhere else to spend that day
-13- 72%

Being the author of the blog, and so the Survey itself, of course I voted - but one can only vote ONCE - if one tries to vote again, it CHANGES your vote - you get ONE chance to voice your opinion. I like that. {if only political elections were this smooth ...}

I'm the first to admit: YES, I am grousing about this issue. Still. Call me crazy, I don't mind; my husband does, and so do some of my friends. I still love them {mostly, anyway}.

IF YOU HAVE NOT YET VOTED, now is your chance!

And by the way, there is no end-purpose for this Survey. If the individuals that "inspired" it in the first place ever visited my blog, I'd fall out of my chair -- although I have my wonderings -- might they have cast those two votes, making up 11% of the responses? Technically, the choice above re: "step-family members" and the one beneath it re: "leaving out some of the family 'cause I can't handle too many guests" -- could & should have been combined, because after all, that IS where the line was drawn.

OK, now I just sound paranoid. And I'm not. Now, I simply don't care any more. They win !!!

-- D.

Like they say in the movies: Names Have Been Left Out to Protect The (semblence of) Innocent.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Herbs de Provence ROAST TURKEY


So here's a tasty sounding recipe from the fabulous CHUCK WILLIAMS of Williams-Sonoma fame {and, no doubt, fortune}:


How simple, yet tasty, does THAT recipe sound!?
Because I {sometimes, we} go to my brother and sister-in-law's home for Thanksgiving, we typically roast a turkey for ourselves a day or two AFTER Thanksgiving ... nothing makes the house smell yummier than a beautifully roasting turkey. Lots of butter is involved, I have to admit. But man, oh, man, does that bird come out MOIST and FLAVORFUL.
This year, I'm baking pumpkin pie {no, not from homegrown pumpkins; sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping for messy-kitchen-with-pumpkin-guts-stuck-to-every-single-surface photos !!!} -- and I'm making my Davi's Famous Dressing. We don't stuff the bird in our family; we bake the dressing on the side. That's why we call it DRESSING and not Stuffing ... 'cause we don't STUFF the silly bird.
Our really delightful friend {and fortunately for us, our neighbor} Victoria is going to join us for Thanksgiving this year -- YAY !!!
Can't wait for Wednesday, the designated BAKING and FIXING OF THE DRESSING day. Victoria's making her father's killer Cheesecake here with me that day, too. I can't imagine it's going to make it to Thanksgiving entirely intact ... :-)
-- D
{remember to visit my creative blog to see how those Christmas cards are coming at http://iamprincessmagpie.blogspot.com }

Sunday, November 23, 2008

funky formatting

Okay, so it drives me crazy when things don't work like they're supposed to (or usually do) work. Take this morning on BLOGGER ... the "returns" between paragraphs -- I have edited the post on The Migraine Brain -- seven times now. I give up. Just pretend that there are paragraph breaks in there, okay?

-- D.

The MIGRAINE Brain by Carolyn

My e-inbox this morning included the daily "top stories from NPR" message, and lo & behold, I saw this story: An Exploration Of The Migraine Brain. So if you suffer from migraines, or know someone who does, PLEASE read the article (click on this link) and / or share it with someone who needs it.
Davielle thought you would be interested in this story: An Exploration Of The Migraine Brain from NPR
As a lifelong {since the age of 3} Migraine {and occipital neuralgia} headache sufferer, I can't use the word "SUFFER" ... enough. There is nothing like the pain of a massive headache, be it a Migraine or one caused by Occipital Neuralgia. When I say "nothing like it", I just about mean it -- I am sure there are exceptions, but like the girl in the interview who said childbirth didn't come close -- I agree, wholeheartedly. They didn't even HAVE epidurals when I had Kristi or Cara {they started using them at our hospital about 6 months after I had my youngest, Cara} ... and I did not have (or need) a saddle block {the old-fashioned way to do things!}.
Although I have taken a vow to not buy new books until I've read all the ones in my stacks, THIS BOOK is one that I am going to use a Barnes & Noble coupon to purchase - today. Which is saying a lot, given that I do not like to hear or read about stuff to do with headaches -- it's been a lifelong plague of mine, and the more time I spend LEARNING about them, the more time I seem to be "LIVING" the headaches. But THIS one, this one I will buy and I will read. I am sick of being ... sick.
By the way, I thank God all the time for not passing this insidious "disorder" {as I call it} on to my children or grandchildren. I would not wish it on my enemies, and I can't imagine seeing my offspring, and theirs, suffering like I have. It would tear me apart.
I don't want to go on & on about headaches on this Sunday morning, but I leave you with the book cover and the link to the interview with Carolyn Bernstein / excerpts from the book.
-- Davielle

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lotsa Spots

It's a lovely Saturday, a bit cooler than this past week (thank God) and here on the coast, it's overcast - a bit. Perfect for making Christmas cards and a nice, homemade hot lunch.

At the risk of posting similar blog notes on this, as well as my other (brand-new) blogspot, I am going to refer you to the NEW SPOT right now for all-things-creative ...

From time to time, there will be cross-over, but for now you can take a look at:

http://iamprincessmagpie.blogspot.com/ to see what I am up to in a creative vein.

I have a hysterically funny "post" to get up ASAP, from an e-mail from our old friend RD -- about what one's first colonoscopy experience is really like -- I found it to be oh-so-true, and I have to add -- EACH colonoscopy experience is JUST like the first.

Meanwhile, lunch is simmering and I have to get back to the kitchen AND the dining room, aka CHRISTMAS CARD CENTRAL. Just be sure you keep checking my blogspots (plural) to see what we're up to here in the household.

;-)

Happy weekend to you,

Davi

Friday, November 21, 2008

FREE IS GOOD

No, not the FREE that we, as Americans, usually take for granted - although that is an amazing thing, when you think about it.

No, the FREE I'm talking about is when a local retailer GIVES STUFF AWAY ... and right now, I personally know of two (2), yes, TWO retailers with a giving heart.


One: PAPER SOURCE - spend $40 {or more} and get a freebie - I was in last weekend and the freebie is your choice from some cute little packs of Paper Source cards -- nice ones, too, worth $8 - $9 per pack. So get in there! And by the way, Paper Source has online HOW TO video clips that are a real laugh - the founder of PS is a riot! Very relaxed, sort of the anti-Martha, if you know what I mean :-) ...





Two: LULULEMON, the athletic wear company. is offering FREE yoga and pilates classes at LULULEMON in THE FORUM shopping center {which, by the way is where Paper Source is also located} here in Carlsbad, CA.
Sat., Nov. 21 and Tues., Nov. 25 / In-store
Ambassador Stacy McCarthy from Sculpt Fusion and PAC will be teaching our Sat. yoga class from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. in the store. Colleen from Pillar Performance will burn our buns in a free mat Pilates class on Tuesday from 9 - 10 a.m. Come 10 - 15 minutes early to set up and harness your energy. Join us after for a light breakfast and a perusal of our new products in the store.


Now come on, isn't FREE a beautiful thing?

I have Christmas cards to get cracking on, and since Ingrid - my most gifted acupuncturist / massage therapist - really took good care of my back this afternoon, I can hardly wait to sit & create for hours on end this weekend ... with some nice stretching breaks thrown in!

TTFN,
Davielle

Change-Up

It was time for a change-up on this blog, so in the left-hand column, if you take a look all the way down, you will find new photos, new artwork, and a new "what's going on for today" posting. Stuff like that. Just didn't want anyone who does follow my blog to get BORED - we can't have BORED. Of note: I keep changing the photo from Dad's MEMORY Scrapbook -- so you can see more of what we put together for Frank's 88th b-day gift.

short and sweet.

-- Davi

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanking God for SIMPLE ABUNDANCE ...

... and the amazing wisdom of the author of SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, Sarah Ban Breathnach.

I am still all tied up in knots about the Thanksgiving issues surrounding my husband's family and my children ...

Seeking solace, I came across a fantastic, meant-just-for-me-today entry in SA, the book, dated November 1, "Embracing the Ebb". Here, the entire entry from this lifesaving book:

EMBRACING THE EBB
The season when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know.
-- Alexander Pope

There once was a mighty queen with a short fuse. One autumn, as the year was beginning to ebb, the queen fell into a deep melancholy. She could neither eat nor slumber, and tears of an unknown origin fell frequently, which infuriated her, triggering angry fits that made those around her quake in fear.

Each day the queen summoned a new advisor from her esteemed circle of sages to explain the cause of her baffling condition. In they came and out they went: the court physician, the stargazer, the psychic, the alchemist, the herbalist, the philosopher. All were dismissed as charlatans for their inability to unravel the mystery of the royal black spell. They counted themselves lucky to have only their illustrious careers shortened.

"Surely there must be one among you who knows the source of my suffering," the queen cried in despair. But her pathetic wail was greeted only with awkward silence, for all were wary of her wrath. Finally, the royal gardener was moved by compassion for the poor woman and slowly approached the throne.

"Come into the garden, Majesty, beyond the walls of your self-imprisonment, and I will disclose your dilemma." The queen was so desperate, she did as she was bid. When she went out to the garden for the first time in many weeks, she noticed the bright, vivid colors of summer had faded and the garden seemed bare. But it was not, she saw, wholly bereft of beauty, for it was regal in autumn's brilliant hues of crimson and gold. The air was refreshingly cool and crisp, and the sky, pure blue. "Speak, gardener," the queen ordered, "but choose your words carefully, for I seek the truth."

"Majesty, it is not your body or your mind that is ailing. It is your soul that is in need of healing. For while you are a mighty and powerful queen, you are not Divine. You are suffering from a human condition that afflicts us all. Earthly souls ebb and flow in sorrow and joy according to the seasons of emotion, just as the seasons of the natural world move through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. These are the days to be grateful for the harvest of the heart, however humble it might be, and to prepare for the coming of the year's closure. Even now, the season of daylight diminishes and the time of darkness increases. But the true Light is never extinguished in the natural world, and it is the same in your soul. Embrace the ebb, my beloved queen, and do not fear the darkness. For as night follows the day, the Light will return and you will know contented hours once again. Of this I am sure."

The unhappy queen considered this wisdom thoughtfully and asked the gardener how she possessed the secret knowledge of inner peace during the seasons of emotion. The gardener led her to a brass sundial. It read:

This too, shall pass.

Now, then. If me, a lowly Princess, can take heart from this message - healing is sure to come. My husband's family is never going to be the warm, embracing, inclusive, welcoming family I had once and always hoped they would be ... but I can continue to carve out little moments with one or another of them, here and there, that make it okay to be an (albeit, extended) part of their clan.

Now if the gardener would just offer up some words of wisdom that will help me see what I can do to help my children heal from the hurts they've endured ... THAT would be a miraculous thing.

-- D.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

welcome to baby Genesis !!!

At long last {well, no longer than the prescribed 9 months} my friend Andi's first grandchild has arrived. Andi's daughter Chelsea, whom I adore, gave birth to her baby girl, GENESIS, on Monday 11-17-08 ... little Genesis weighed in at just over 7 pounds, and she was 19" long.

For any and all of you that have been praying for Andi through the years, through her cancer and complications-from-same ordeals, you know what an enormous Gift from God this birth is ...

Is this not the most beautiful baby girl you've seen?

It was my privilege to visit Chelsea and Genesis in the hospital this morning, making my day ... fabulous.

-- her honorary Auntie, Davi

The downside and the UPside of my morning

I'm posting this, this morning, 'cause I myself could use a little "pick me up". Dreading this doctor appointment, knowing I have to run upstairs and get dressed and be there for a 9 am ... and seriously NOT wanting to go - not today, not ever, not for this one. Doc says "it will be unpleasant" in my world = "this is going to be one miserable procedure". Hoping I am pleasantly surprised, though {okay, maybe that's a stretch, hoping for "pleasant" at the urologist's office}.

OOOOHHHH, I just got a call from our friend Chelsea, and she's at the hospital with her brand new baby girl and I can stop in to see her AFTER my appointment. Now THAT will make it all bearable. Yes, it will.

You see - one just has to ask, and God delivers.

-- Davielle

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Edith and Elizabeth ...

... two peas in a pod, back in the day.

If you read my post of yesterday, "Serendipitous Sunday", you might be curious to see a photo of my mother and my godmother -- Edith {mom} and Elizabeth {god-mom}.

I aim to please, and so I dug up a PHOTOCOPY of a photo that is my all-time favorite of them {not to mention, it's just about the only one I have of them together} --

Being the hi-tech {NOT!} girl that I am, I've photographed the photocopy and VOILA! Here, for your viewing pleasure, Elizabeth & Edith Share a Dress.
To clarify, Elizabeth is on the left {the stunning blonde} and my Mom is on the right {the lovely brunette}.

Mom's couturier, Jack Payne, had got the measurements obviously wrong on this one, and when the dress arrived at the fashion show, Mom and Liz both said "why, Jack, TWO women could fit into that dress!", and they proceeded to prove it. God bless the photographer who captured this moment ... each with a leg held up for full effect. Now Mom, Elizabeth, and Jack are in Heaven, having a good chuckle.

Yours in happy memories of wonderful family friends,

-- Davielle

Monday, November 17, 2008

Serendipitous Sunday

Let me start with two quotes about SERENDIPITY which I found today, when searching for the proper meaning of the word ...

"Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for." -- Lawrence Block

"Serendipity is when you find things you weren't looking for because finding what you are looking for is so damned difficult." -- Erin McKean, 2007

{artwork above is "Trust" by Kelly Rae Roberts}

So pardoning Erin's language, I have to say, I have been trying to find some childhood friends for about a year now, the children of my mother's dear friend Elizabeth, who was my Godmother once my auntie opted out {don't ask!} ... these were kids I hung around with A WHOLE LOT growing up, and with whom I have many wonderful memories.

If you know me at all, you know that I had a shall we say "difficult" childhood? These family friends made it all tolerable. I am not exaggerating. I so looked forward to each & every visit with them, at their home in San Diego or ours in Del Mar, and when I lost touch with them {decades ago, now}, it was a sad time for me.

So what does all THAT have to do with Serendipity?

Yesterday I went to my friend Vickie's CAbi {women's clothing} party, in her home. I know Vickie through CCI, and we play Bunco together as well as living just 5 minutes apart. Our CAbi representative, Rebecca, was delightful -- as is the line of clothing that she represents {and that's ANOTHER story!} -- and there were some random comments throughout the party about my mother having been a 'fashionista', and that I had some vintage clothes from her that Vickie admires; and there was a comment about me being an interior designer {albeit "retired"}, etc.

There was a LOT of talk about style, of course; it was, after all, a CLOTHING party.

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. {The word has been voted as one of the ten English words that were hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company.}

For those of you that are good with languages: If you care to say this lovely word in French, it's sérendipicité or sérendipité but also heureux hasard, "fortunate chance". And in Italian, it's serendipità.

The word derives from Serendip, the old Persian name for Sri Lanka and was coined by Horace Walpole on 28 January 1754 {wow, that's an old word!} in a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann (not the same man as the famed American educator), an Englishman then living in Florence.

{IF YOU CARE what that letter said, check it out on WIKIPEDIA, where I got all this info on SERENDIPITY ...}

SO back to my story.

I woke up this morning to find an e-mail from Rebecca, our CAbi gal, asking if my mother's name was Edith. {and you ALL know the answer to that is a resounding "YES"}. Rebecca had thought my name, Davi, was unusual; but it wasn't until she saw it written out in full as Davielle that it started to click ...

She recalled this woman Edith had a daughter Davielle, and that her mother was friends with Edith and that they (Rebecca's family) used to visit them in Del Mar, and that they were also frequent visitors to their home in San Diego.

Voila! I had just heard from the daughter of my godmother, Elizabeth, whose children I had been trying to find {via the occasional random internet search - with no luck whatsoever} for almost a year now.

Okay, sorry for the long blog post. But can you even believe this SERENDIPITOUS small world story? I mean, there I was, at Vickie's, LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE {as in, classic clothing pieces - I am my mother's daughter, after all - that won't go out of style and are of high quality with lots of style} and WHAT I FOUND ... was something far more precious than just that right piece for one's wardrobe.

I just know that Edith and Elizabeth are in Heaven tonight, smiling down on us, laughing at how we found each other despite my frustrated efforts to go it on my own.

The lesson for me? Sometimes - no, MOST times - one has only to TRUST in the angels and one will find their wishes being fulfilled. {today's art, by the way, is from artist Kelly Rae Roberts, who can be found at http://www.kellyraeroberts.blogspot.com/ }

I have had goosebumps all day.

-- Davi

Sunday, November 16, 2008

update on fires


today's San Diego Union Tribune has a headline that says it all ... something about Southern California still blazing ...

last evening, Mark noticed that the fires have sent SMOKE down our way, making for an incredibly beautiful sunset {it's a mixed blessing, isn't it?}.

beautiful, isn't it, in an eerie sort of a way ...

how do you correctly pronounce "GRATIN" ???

It's French, yes?

So the correct pronunciation will involve pronouncing the vowels in a way you're likely not used to {unless you SPEAK French, in which case, TELL ME WHO YOU ARE, because I'd like to know if it's your Native Tongue, and so you can't help yourself ... or if you learned it as a second or ninth language or something like that}. It will also involve almost dropping that last letter, the "N" ... so the ending sounds like "ahn" instead of "in".

How were you taught to pronounce au gratin? “Grah-tin”; or “gruh-tan”, nearly losing that "n" at the end?

Me, I love France. I love French. I can't speak more than twenty words in French, though, and that's just not useful when traveling over there. Not much use at all.

Me, I want to wake up one day with that "disorder" where you magically UNDERSTAND and SPEAK a foreign language -- make mine FRENCH, sil vous plait {that's PLEASE, in Francaise}.

Okay, so maybe I don't want that disorder - my oh my! - it sounds way worse than just waking up with a whole new language {in addition to your native tongue}. I found this article online, and WHOA, it's not like I thought:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23378059-details/The+woman+who+woke+up+thinking+she+was+French/article.do

But you know, I already suffer from the migraines ... I'm partway there already! But the other symptoms - no thank you very much.

By the way, it's called SUSAC'S SYNDROME, named for Dr. John Susac.

So back to the topic at hand. Wikipedia has this to say about the tasty GRATIN:

Gratin adapted from French cuisine is a type of casserole dish that is covered with Bechamel sauce or Mornay sauce, topped with buttered breadcrumbs or grated cheese and either baked or broiled, then served in its baking dish with a golden crust. Cooking au gratin is a technique rather than exclusively a preparation of potatoes (which is specifically a gratin dauphinois): anything that can be sliced thin, layered with a cream sauce and baked is material for a gratin: fennel, leeks, crabmeat, celeriac, aubergines.

Me, I tried a really tasty Gratin last night ... Mark was impressed with the result ... I found the recipe in the back of William Alexander's book, The $64 Tomato {Ann Deakers, I cannot thank you enough for that book recommendation}.

If you'd like me to POST the recipe, just ask. Leave a COMMENT here, or email to me directly.

I guarantee, it's FALL EATS, this one is. Really tasty, and contrary to the official definition for gratin, THIS HAD NO MILK AND NO CREAM. Oh, and no breadcrumbs. Rather, the top went on for the last 12 minutes, just until browned ... what was it? Grated Parmesan-Romana blend cheese. The only dairy in the entire recipe!

I can't wait for leftovers today!

Au revoir, mon ami --

Friday, November 14, 2008

Capricious Winds ... where is the sense?

It's FIRE SEASON here in California, and I went to bed last night to the news of a raging blaze in Montecito, CA, just south of Santa Barbara ... and just north of our friends in Summerland. These are frightening times.

when Mark and I got married, we spent the night just down the block from where this photo was taken, in downtown Montecito ... after our wedding the next day, in a Park in Santa Barbara, we returned to Montecito for a celebratory dinner at San Ysidro Ranch with Pastor Ricky Ryan, his wife Linda, and our dear friends Jeff & Dianna Keough, who stood up for us that day ... SEEING THE TEA FIRE BLAZING within sight of main street Montecito ... saddens me ...

Growing up in So Cal, I didn't get to "know" the Four Seasons ... well, not the calendar-related ones, anyway {although Frankie Valli and THOSE Four Seasons were quite well known - to me, and to all}.


So I always relished in the Fall, as we knew it, here ... maybe some cooler weather, calling for a drive to Julian and the opportunity, if I was lucky, to wear a SWEATER ...

I love rain - I love wind. What I don't much care for, though, now that I'm older and realize just how devastating the HIGH wind speeds can be, are THOSE HIGH WINDS. They frighten me.

Our San Diego County fires of thirteen months ago ... had us trapped in our home for days, with all the windows shut up tight and living off a meagerly stocked refrigerator {it caught us off guard, as we had been out of town - in Summerland, as a matter of fact - and had let the fresh food dwindle ...}.

BUT HERE WE ARE AGAIN, with Santa Ana winds here in San Diego ... and that terrible fire in Montecito, known as the TEA FIRE, has already claimed, at last check of the news online, around 100 homes.


TEA FIRE, Montecito, CA - taken during the night, 11-13-08


Here is one story link off the 'net:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sbfire14-2008nov14,0,2370726.story


And what makes the wildfires in the Santa Barbara area SO devastating is an effect known as 'Sundowner' winds -- here's the scoop on those terrors of the neighborhood:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2008/11/dangerous-sundo.html


Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, and to all who are suffering in any way from this most recent natural catastrophe.


It sure makes a quote that used to appeal to me ... more frightening than anything else, any more:
TO WAKE TO CREAKING TREES,
TO FALL ASLEEP TO WIND.

Those would not be comforting sounds here in California, not during fire season.


When Mark and I go to stay with the Keoughs in early December, to begin our Christmas Celebration in fine fashion, by listening to their daughter's High School MADRIGALS annual performance {hopefully at the Mission again}, we will find time, I am sure, to drive through neighborhoods we have driven dozens of times, soaking in all the beautiful wild natural settings, and we will be just heartsick for all that live in this beautiful community.


BE SAFE, all.


-- D.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

your not-so-daily DO SOMETHING CREATIVE EVERY DAY reminder

Sometimes I lose sight of why I started this blog in the first place: TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY and FRIENDS. Okay, so I think that's been a success to date.

Secondly, to ENCOURAGE OTHERS to DO SOMETHING CREATIVE EVERY DAY {don't you love that saying? It's the motto of Paper Source, http://www.paper-source.com/ }.


And where I find myself so often {too often?!} is in the realm of ... just jabbering.
I mean to stop that - if it's useless jabbering, anyway - and get back to FAMILY UPDATES and ENCOURAGING FOLKS TO BE / STAY / GET CREATIVE. I've always intended for my blog to be POSITIVE, and not negative, but ... I'm human, and I get down once in a while on things. Sorry!
From time to time, my "pet" causes will surface ... hey, I'm human ... and you'll just have to accept that, or skip those items. Deal? I am the first to admit: I have many interests and many causes that stir me up --
You all know how much I like to READ, and I can't help but share my thoughts on the books I come across ... this summer, I read the story of the legendary Secretariat and his groom, Eddie Sweatt ... it affected me deeply.
And I have lots of things that I just plain LIKE ... animals, esp horses ... travel, esp to Europe ... stuff like that. And Feel-Good Stories -- those are always fun to share. So uplifting.
Good day to you all.
-- Davielle

Sick and Hurting Kids ...

Oh, my !!! Must be the combo of the Full Moon and the Santa Ana winds here in California ...

... we have one daughter, Sierra, in the hospital up in LA -- with possible food poisoning / a virus or some sort / we don't know what, yet. Serious stomach issues is all we know ... she is so BUMMED to be up there, alone.

... and we have one granddaughter, Kiara, with a broken clavicle -- she was doing a handstand, and when one arm gave out on her, she came down hard on the opposite side, breaking her collarbone. OUCH !!!

We ask for prayers for these two girls ... for good medical care & attention for Sierra, and a fast recovery from whatever is happening ... and for a good, clean healing of that clav for Kiara, without a (much) noticable calcified "bump" when it heals :-) !!!
Thank you, all ...
-- D & M

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blended Families - Bridging the Gaps

Many studies have been done about the BLENDING of families - with the high rate of divorce & remarriage that IS the "norm" for America today {sad as that may be, it IS reality, folks}, WORKING AT BLENDING A FAMILY affected by anyone becoming a "step" (father, mother, sibling) is key to the success of that marriage.

I have long been a proponent of INCLUDING all members of a family to the fold - however inconvenient that might be at times, you just can't have a Successful Blended Family unless rules are set and adhered to about what IS and is NOT acceptable.

Dividing up a Blended Family because one or more members of said family are "step", or "already grown, so what does it matter how we treat them" ... is just WRONG, on any and every level.

Is this a HOT TOPIC with me? You betcha {said with a Sarah Palin accent and wink, although I am totally freaking serious about the matter}.

During the recent campaign season, I was impressed, again & again, with the amazing BLENDING of the John & Cindy McCain family. Take a look at the make-up of their children:

Doug McCain: Born 1959, Doug was adopted by John after he married Doug's mom, Carol Shepp. Doug is a commercial airline pilot.

Andrew (Andy) McCain: Born 1962, Andy was adopted by John after he married Doug's mom, Carol Shepp. Andy is a business executive. Andy, who has said that he has grown to be very fond of Cindy -- and who now plays a key role in her family-owned beer-distribution company in Phoenix.

Sidney Ann McCain: Born 1966, her mom is Carol Shepp. Sidney works in the music industry.

Meghan McCain: Born 1984, her mom is Cindy MCain. Meghan is a journalist.

John Sidney (Jack) McCain IV: Born 1986, attending the U.S. Naval Academy. His mom is Cindy McCain.

James (Jimmy) McCain: Born 1988, Jimmy joined the Marine Corps in 2006. His mom is Cindy McCain.

Bridget McCain: Born 1991, Bridget was adopted in 1993 from Bangladesh.

Talk about a SUCCESSFUL blended family - but it came with WORK and TIME and EFFORT; it was not a "given" for the McCain family, no more than it is for ANY family on the "Let's Get Blended So We Can Stay Together" path.

To read an article about the McCain's amazing blended family, click on this link:

http://marriage.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=marriage&cdn=people&tm=608&gps=384_1213_1286_704&f=10&tt=11&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22403599/

To read some TIPS from mental & other health care professionals about the importance of carefully treading when BLENDING a family, visit:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/blended_families_stepfamilies.htm

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Parenting-Stepchildren-2203/laws-unfair-kids.htm

For me, for now, that's all I can manage -- this topic has me really upset, and sick to my stomach, since once again, after being with Mark for 16 years, and married for 9 now, his family is still unable and unwilling to acknowledge "my" girls ... as "his" family. What on earth does it take? {And will it ever end ???}

I've already gone through one divorce because my first husband and I could not agree on the definition of "family" ...

-- D.

Mother-Love


Isn't that sweet? Motherhood can be so tender.

As a life-long horse lover {okay, so I've always loved ALL animals, but horses have been at the TOP of the list 4-ever}, it's hard for me to go too long in between ANIMAL-focused postings.

Today, I'd like to ask that anyone so inclined ... consider giving to organizations that serve our Equine friends ...

Not that I'm expecting birthday gifts this year {to celebrate my 50th}, but if anyone were to ASK me what I'd like ... THIS is what I'd be asking for ... contributions {in any amount} to organizations like the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary at www.gwtc.net/~iram/index.html

OR to Ever After Mustang Rescue in Maine at http://www.mustangrescue.org/

OR visit the site for the Bureau of Land Management that features their work with wild horses and burros at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro/how_can_i_help.html

And thanks to my friend Vickie, I can add this one - After The Finish Line -

A group that provides financial support / rescue assistance for thoroughbred horses once they leave the track {and for everyone who knows my history with the Del Mar Race Track and the horse racing industry, you'll know right away why I am including this link}: http://www.afterthefinishline.org/

So - not that anyone's asking - but THAT's what I would consider a beautiful, meaningful gift.

Okay, so maybe not for me, but for ANYONE on your giving list that loves animals.

Please consider the horses this giving season.

I thank you.

-- D.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

one tenth of the brain

YIPPEE for kids that want to go to college ... I'm all for supporting whatever choices our children (and 'grands') make, and today, it's all about GETTING EXCITED for another daughter to start the journey ...

"and to think that I'm only using one-tenth of my brain" {Ann Taintor}

I just love her stuff ... {Ann Taintor's, that is}

Right now, I am thrilled that my oldest daughter, Kristi, is considering a return to college to pursue a degree in education / sociology ... we're meeting with a counselor next week to discuss the options open to her and the best path for her to get started on.

Yippee-kay-ay !!!

She's always wanted to finish her college coursework, and she's always wanted to work in the social services field -- and she has always known just how critical it is for her to get back to school ... it's long been her dream, and I look forward to watching her achieve this goal.

-- D.

Time for FALL Cooking

Oh, you're going to love this one ... if you eat meat, that is !!!

Visit www.cooksillustrated.com and today's HOME PAGE feature is ...

French Style Pot Roast

... complete with a video that shows & explains the recipe, start to finish, in just about 2 minutes. {no, sillies, it takes MUCH longer than that FOR REAL, but for explanation's sake, this young lady is sharp ... and fast !!!}



Cook's Illustrated / America's Test Kitchen is an amazing resource for all who like to cook, bake, spend ANY time at all in the kitchen. They have a fab magazine ... COOK'S ILLUSTRATED ...




And I highly recommend any and all of the America's Test Kitchen COOKBOOKS ... they are so well done ... trust me. I have a good-sized collection of cookbooks, and alongside the ever-reliable Joy of Cooking, these are some of the BEST out there ...

Check them out -- I love them !!!

-- D.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the JAY has spoken

and "I'm gonna tell God how you treat me", is what he says.

whoa. them's strong words.
If you don't already garden for wildlife, I encourage you to visit the National Wildlife Federation site at www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife for tips on Gardening for Wildlife ...

if this hummingbird at a Manzanita doesn't inspire you ... what would?!

Mark and I are both volunteers for NWF, within their Backyard Wildlife Habitat program -- which encompasses both private backyards (residential) and school & other public places habitats as well. It's a remarkable program, and gardening for wildlife has never been easier - the advent of all the Native Plant Nurseries -- nationwide -- has made it all so much more possible to DO THE RIGHT THING. Make appropriate-for-your-community plant choices, and the native wildlife will be fed, nurtured, protected, and right at home ... in YOUR yard. How cool is that?

Here in San Diego County, LAS PILITAS NURSERY rocks ... { http://www.laspilitas.com/ }


And just up the road a ways, TREE OF LIFE NURSERY is out-of-this-world { http://www.californianativeplants.com/ }

Questions? Feel free to COMMENT on my blog.
-- D.
So yesterday, I went to see the movie THE CHANGELING (gritty, disturbing, and incredibly well acted by all parties - but be warned, it's based on a true story, and the subject is GNARLY). I wouldn't be surprised if Angelina Jolie gets a Best Actress nom for this one ...

During the previews, there was one for a movie coming out soon -- can't recall which one it was, although we did see previews for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (easily found their rating online; it's PG-13) and for AUSTRALIA, among others -- but what got my attention was that at the end of ONE of the trailers it said "this motion picture has been rated M, for Mature Audiences."

Right there, I knew they had me - I would NOT be admitted to a movie rated M under any circumstances, you know, because I still have a somewhat immature sense of humor and grown-up-edness about me. :-)

What I want to know - what I NEED to know - is this: just how is "M" defined, and in what country does it originate? Because, you see, the US motion picture industry does not show an "M" rating on its roster ... so I am confused.

I did find this explanation, though, from a New Zealand site:
"M = Suitable for mature persons over 16 years of age"

Given that the movie AUSTRALIA sounds like it would come from the general vicinity of New Zealand, one could just assume THAT is the movie rated "M", but I can't find proof of that, nor is my "logic", if you can call it that (logic), based on rational thinking. It's just a silly connection I've made between a movie title and that TITLE's geographic proximity to ... New Zealand.

You see why they wouldn't likely allow me into an M-rated flick?

At any rate, I have lost my keen Google skills, it seems, and I can't get an answer to my question.

WHAT is the "M" rating? Is it used here in the States? And WHAT new movie has that rating?

-- D.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

more helpful life hints from THE COMPLETE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK

You know how much you enjoyed the "how to stop a runaway camel" entry ... although NOBODY commented on it, I just know you had to love that one.
Come on, admit it. You thought: 'How stupid is that? Who is ever going to need to know how to stop a runaway camel? Davi must have lost her marbles.'
On that, I have this to say: It Wasn't Stupid. Someone is Someday Going to Need to Know How to Stop a Runaway Camel. It could be YOU, or You, or you. Don't believe me yet? Watch this frightening YouTube clip for yourself:

And if you didn't already know that I've long, long, long ago lost my marbles, then you just were not paying attention.

Having said all THAT, here is today's MOST USEFUL blog entry {funny, I turned right to the Chapter called DOMESTIC DANGERS ...}:

HOW TO SURVIVE IF YOU FORGET YOUR ANNIVERSARY

(Diane, this is for you - or for Jon - whichever of you forgets that TOMORROW, Nov 10th, is YOUR anniversary !!!)

* Order an emergency bouquet. Many florists can assemble arrangements with little notice. If you have just minutes to prepare, scour your neighborhood flowerbeds for daisies. Wrap them in colorful ribbon and present them as your initial gift.
These Gerber Daisies would do nicely ...
* Buy chocolates. Most supermarkets and drugstores carry chocolate assortments. Choose a tasteful boxed set rather than several loose candy bars tied with ribbon.

HERE, just for you, a link to some of the best chocolates around: www.godiva.com
* Create a voucher card. Prepare a card or piece of paper that shows the wonderful gift you're giving but can't give now because it isn't ready yet. Draw a picture of the gift on the card or paper.
Personally, I think that this little "bauble" ought to do the trick ...
or maybe THIS one ... take your pick!

Then again, if she's a BRACELET fiend, like I am ...
THIS could work just fine:


What to do if diamonds are not her favorite? Replace the stones above with whatever IS her favorite gemstone and VOILA! You're back in the game.

* Apologize, apologize, apologize. If you're caught with nothing, making excuses will not help your case. Your level of contrition should be so extreme that your spouse begins to feel bad because you feel so terrible.
* Give an intangible present. Give her a homemade certificate for a weekend spa getaway. It could be for her only, or for a romantic weekend for both of you -- a "second honeymoon" (but don't push your luck). A week free of household chores, a weekend of breakfasts in bed, or getting her car detailed are other possibilities.

Personally, I recommend a Week for Two at the world-famous and dear-to-my-sentimental-heart (mom used to take me there as a child with our friends, the Kitson family) RANCHO LA PUERTA: http://www.rancholapuerta.com/
And REALLY personally {hint, hint, Mark - although I know you've NEVER seen my blog}, a Weekend Retreat at Dusty's would do it for ME !!! www.scrappinatdustys.com
HOW TO SLEEP ON THE COUCH
1. Remove the back cushions. If the couch has loose back cushions, take them off to add more width to the sleeping surface.
2. Remove the arm cushions. Side cushions take up precious head and leg room, and will just end up on the floor in the middle of the night anyway.
3. Fluff and flip. If the sofa design permits, remove the seat cushions, fluff them, and flip them so the side that was down is now the top. This will provide a more even sleeping surface.
4. Cover the seat cushions with a sheet. The sheet will protect your face from odors trapped in the cushions and will protect the seating area from saliva.
5. Use your usual pillow. You will sleep better with your head resting on a familiar pillow. Get yours from the bedroom, if the bedroom is still accessible to you.
6. Depending on the temperature of the room and your comfort level, get a sheet, blanket, comforter, or large towel to put on top of you.
7. Relax. Do not go to bed angry. {shouldn't that read "do not go to COUCH angry" !!!}
BE AWARE: If you are an active sleeper, lay the sofa cushions next to the sofa to break your fall should you roll off during the night.
BETTER YET, wouldn't it be best to just avoid such a situation at all costs ... at ALL costs ...
Remember your ANNIVERSARY - so you don't have to go from this ...


TO THIS:

I found it amusing that all the hints above were directed to the male of the species. And the authors of this book are two MEN ... boy, do these guys know their stuff, or WHAT?!
Yours in avoiding such Domestic Mishaps as This,
-- Davielle

Saturday, November 8, 2008

today's proverb ...

for you today, a Persian proverb:

"GO AND WAKE UP YOUR LUCK"

So if you know what that might mean, please leave a "comment".

My interpretation?

I think it means that we all can create and/or take advantage of boundless, wonderful, amazing OPPORTUNITIES in this life that could change our life, and the lives of others.

I do not think it has anything to do with your next trip to Las Vegas. So don't take this blog post as "a sign". I cannot be held responsible.

-- D.

Friday, November 7, 2008

MOLLY the PONY

Meet MOLLY ... no, not my old Molly {dog} ... MOLLY the PONY:

She's a grey speckled POA (Pony of the Americas) pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled.

While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.

But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight and didn't overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic. Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial limb was built.

Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

'This was the right horse and the right owner,' Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore, is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg. The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports.

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. 'It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,' she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

'It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,? Moore said. 'She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.' Barca concluded, 'She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.'

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind.

Here's Molly at her new job! In the book you will see her with children in wheelchairs. She's just the right height to look them in the eye! As a matter of fact, Molly looks everyone in the eye! (Photo © Pam Kaster)

Please share this lovely story with all the animal lovers you know. You can direct them to MOLLY'S own blogspot, http://hoofcare.blogspot.com/2008/03/pony-romps-to-new-role-in-lifeon-three.html ... or you can direct them here, to mine ( http://www.dh2travelers.blogspot.com/ )
-- Davielle {once a horse-and-all-animals-lover, ALWAYS the same}