Monday, November 30, 2009

It wouldn't be Christmas without a gingerbread house.  A couple of years ago I was asked to build a gingerbread house as a fundraiser for the La Quinta Arts Foundation.  A number of artists were asked to participate and build a village.  Since I love to paint flowers it was natural for me to build a flower shop.   It was fun and I learned a lot about making flowers and other tricks of the "sugar trade".  The silent auction went well and mine was one of the top sellers.

"Floreria"  © Kathy Dunham 2009

Holiday Craziness

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Well, the Thanksgiving weekend is winding down. It was nice having four whole days off in a row! It gave me a chance to finish decorating for the holiday. It's only taken me just about two weeks to get it all done! Isn't that just crazy? This is why I need to get started early. I don't have all day to devote to just decorating because I work evenings, so I just do two or three...if I'm lucky...hours a day until I'm done. I'm so glad it's done!! I had Thanksgiving dinner at my house. It was a good day and everyone enjoyed the food. It seems like no matter how much you try to prepare ahead and clean things up as you go, you still end up with a huge mess to clean up at the end of the day. It's not just the dishes, it's extra tables and chairs that were set up, extra food table, sweeping the carpet, putting everything away, making room in the refrigerators for the leftovers and just putting your house back together again! Whew! But, I do like having people over for the holidays or I wouldn't do it.

Now...a little more Christmas craziness...Black Friday, the biggest holiday shopping day of the year. Stores opening at 4:00 a.m., people standing in line to get into the store at 2:00 a.m. for those great sales. I did this once with my husband, but never have since. He loves to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. He was up at 3:00 a.m. as I was just going to bed. I told him to have fun. He met up with his sister, shopped for a while, had breakfast, and was home by noon. His gifts were wrapped and are now under the tree.
Mine are still in boxes waiting to be wrapped...by me...and before you know it with all of the shopping, decorating, inviting friends and family over for dinner, visiting with others, etc., Christmas is here...and gone...in just a day. It's amazing how much of your time goes into preparing for one day. I get a little sad after it's over because I really enjoy this time of the year. Then reality sets in and I'm looking at two more weeks of taking down decorations and putting them all away. Yikes!!! But I'll do it again next year. I love the music, the lights and decorations, the Christmas movies, the yummy cookies, the food...but not the weight gain that comes with that...the wine to help me get through it all, the closeness of family and friends, and to help someone else have a better Thanksgiving and Christmas with a donation or a tag from a Christmas tree for gifts. It's a magical time of the year for me which I will always keep in my heart.

Christmas in New Orleans

Even the dogs get special treatment in New Orleans.  This cocker spaniel was all decked out and walking it's master when I came upon them at the corner waiting to cross.  Don't you just love the holiday neckpiece?  Bright and festive.

"Christmas in New Orleans"   © Kathy Dunham 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Christmas Trivia - Santa Letter

Posted using ShareThis

Here's a fun place to visit. Click on Santa Letter link.

Before the Pie

Our weekly farmer's market offers lots of fresh produce.  It's fun walking around the various booths checking out flowers, produce and other products.  Sometimes you find unusual fruits and vegetables not normally found in supermarkets.

"Before the Pie"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Nap Time

Friday, November 27, 2009

I live near Palm Srpings and you know when the "season" opens by the number of Canadian visitors we get.  And they have arrived.   Even the Canadian Geese are migrating.  They love our golf courses.  Lots of grass and water.  Except they're a real messy bird for being so beautiful.

"Nap Time"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

'Tis the Season

Ooops....  I had such a great time at my friends for Thanksgiving that I forgot to post my nightly image.  But since this is the start of the push, grab and buy season I thought a peaceful photo of  beautiful poinsettia, taken in Malaga, Spain would be fitting.  Christmas in Spain is a sight to behold.  It felt like they had captured the market on poinsettias.  The towns were covered with huge masses of the flowers and presented a spectacular display.

"'Tis the Season"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Poppy @ Sunset

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I love searching fields in the French countryside for poppies.  Some years are better than others.  In a good year they're everywhere creating a blanket of red.  Some years they are far and few between.  Getting the light right is always a challenge and the late light on this one cast a slight yellow glow to the petals.

"Poppy @ Sunset"      © Kathy Dunham 2009

Summer Whites

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The bloom of summer flowers is gone but not forgotten.  This mass of white cosmos reminds me of the glories of summer blossoms.  The colors, the different varieties, the fragrances of the delicate petals are what I love about summer.

"Summer Whites"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Young Amaryllis

Monday, November 23, 2009

A fascinating flower that's easy to grow in water, this striped amaryllis is just beginning to open up.  Now is the season to find the bulbs in the stores and grow one yourself.

"Young Amaryllis"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Passion Flowers

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A marvel of nature, the passion flower gets its name from the Jesuit association of the flower structure with the crucifixion of Christ.  But aside from any religious connotations, this native South American tropical flower is a master of engineering.  Just look at all the details.  I don't know how Mother Nature does it.

"Passion Flowers"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Wizards in Winter

Saturday, November 21, 2009

http://www.friscochristmas.com/  The song is Wizards in Winter by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Light show by Jeff Trykoski.


Paris in the Rain

What could be more inviting than to sit at a sidewalk cafe along the Seine, drinking wine and having a lunch of Boeuf Bourguignonne while getting this spectacular view of Notre Dame?  If the weather is going to be bad, then this is the way to deal with it!

"Paris in the Rain"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Dog the Halls

Friday, November 20, 2009

Animal lovers will appreciate this. Hope you're smiling!

Christmas Puzzle 1


Mirror Image

I usually don't post the same type of image two days in a row but these pale lemon daylilies presented themselves in a unique pose.  And when the flowers talk, I listen.

"Mirror Image"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

A Humbug Christmas

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This is a very cute story that I have never heard of until now. Imagine that, I thought I knew them all! Hope you enjoy listening to this story.

Golden Daylily

These beautiful flowers are true to their name, they only last one day.  A definite loss to us since we can't cut them for the house or other use.  This ruffled variety is more interesting with all the additional petals.

"Golden Daylily"    © Kathy Dunham 2009


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Japanese Tea Gardens are so serene and peaceful.  The design that goes into them to elicit specific feelings is quite an art.  My first visit to a tea garden was when I was young and visiting my Grandmother in San Francisco.  Golden Gate Park is home to a small but beautiful garden.  This scene is in Portland at their Japanese Tea Garden.

"Solitude"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Portland Daisies

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This summer I decided to take a road trip to the Pacific Northwest with a friend.  It was time I see part of the U.S. I hadn't seen before.  And wouldn't you know it, I pick the week of the record breaking heat Portland.  Luckily, these daisies near the famous rose gardens are actually heat lovers and were doing fine.  But the poor roses were having a tough time.

"Portland Daisies"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Frosty the Snowman

One December afternoon, a young girl named Karen and her group of friends create a snowman after school. The children suggest names for their creation including Christopher Columbus and Oatmeal but Karen decides to name him "Frosty". They later acquire a top hat discarded by inept magician Professor Hinkle. When Karen places the hat on Frosty's head, the snowman comes to life and exclaims "Happy Birthday!" When Hinkle learns of the magic power his hat actually possesses, he takes its back and departs. However, the professor's pet rabbit Hocus Pocus returns the hat to Frosty. Frosty soon senses the temperature is rising and worries about melting. The children suggest putting him on the next train to the North Pole, where he will never melt, and they all parade into the city on the way to the train station, where Frosty has his confrontation with the traffic cop mentioned in the lyrics. When they cannot afford a train ticket, Frosty, Karen and Hocus stow away aboard a refrigerated train car. Unbeknownst to them, Hinkle has also hitched a ride on the same train, intending to get his hat back. Soon Frosty notices Karen freezing up in the box car so they jump off the train, leaving Hinkle behind.
Fearing that Karen cannot survive the cold weather, Frosty asks Hocus who might be able to help them. Hocus suggests (by pantomiming) the President of the United States and the United States Marines, before suggesting Santa Claus. Frosty agrees, and promptly takes credit for the idea himself. The forest animals build a campfire to keep Karen warm until they can locate Santa Claus, but Hinkle again arrives and blows out the fire. Frosty and Karen are again forced to flee, this time with Karen riding on Frosty's back as he slides head-first down a hill. At the bottom of the slope, Karen and Frosty discover a greenhouse filled with poinsettias. Against Karen's advice Frosty steps inside the warm greenhouse, suggesting that he could afford to lose a little weight anyway, but Hinkle again catches up to Frosty and locks him and Karen in the greenhouse. Hocus brings Santa Claus to the greenhouse only to find Karen in tears and Frosty melted on the floor. Santa explains to Karen that Frosty is made from Christmas snow, and that he can never completely melt away. With a gust of cold wind through the open greenhouse door, Frosty is brought back to life. Hinkle again arrives on the scene and demands the return of his hat. He relents only when threatened with being removed from Santa's Christmas list for the rest of his life. Santa states that if Hinkle is truly repentant for his mean attitude and harming Frosty, that he may find a gift in his stocking on Christmas morning, which makes Hinkle run home to write repeatedly his apologies. Santa then takes Karen home and Frosty to the North Pole, but promises that Frosty will be back next winter.

The end credits show all the characters the next Christmas marching through the town square with Frosty in the lead, singing the "Frosty the Snowman" song. Among them is a reformed Professor Hinkle, who is proudly wearing his new top hat. At the end of the parade, Frosty gets back into Santa's waiting sleigh and they return to the North Pole, with Frosty exclaiming, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"

The Polar Express

You will need to pause the music player on the left side bar if watching video.

As the book starts off on the night of Christmas Eve, a young boy is lying in bed waiting to hear the sound of Santa Claus's sleigh bells. Suddenly, he hears loud rumbling outside on the street as a magical train called The Polar Express pulls up in front of his house. The boy ventures outside and is invited by the train's conductor to journey to the North Pole. The train is filled with children, all dressed in their pajamas, who drink hot chocolate as rich as melted chocolate bars and the train rumbles on.

As the train reaches the North Pole, the boy and the other children see thousands of elves gathered at the center of town waiting to send Santa Claus on his way. The boy is handpicked by Santa to receive the first gift of Christmas. Realizing that he could choose anything in the world, the boy asks for one beautiful-sounding silver bell from Santa's sleigh. The boy places the bell in the pocket of his robe and all the children watch as Santa takes off into the night for his annual deliveries.

Later, on the train ride home, the boy discovers that the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket. The boy arrives home and goes to his bedroom as the train pulls away. On Christmas morning, his sister finds a small package for the boy under the tree, behind all of the other gifts. The boy opens the box and discovers that it is the bell, delivered by Santa who found it on the seat of his sleigh. When the boy rings the bell, both he and his sister marvel at the beautiful sound. His parents, however, are unable to hear the bell and remark that it must be broken. The book ends with a famous quote, also promoted to the film based on it:

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.

Music by Josh Groban, "Believe"
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A Christmas Carol

Reproduced from a c.1870s photographer frontis...Image via Wikipedia

The tale begins on Christmas Eve seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley. That night seven years later, the ghost of Jacob Marley appears before Scrooge and warns him that his soul will be bearing heavy chains for eternity if he does not change his greedy ways, and also predicts that a series of other ghosts will follow. Three Christmas ghosts visit Scrooge during the course of the night, fulfilling Marley's prophecy. The first, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to the scenes of his boyhood and youth which stir the old skinflint's gentle and tender side. The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to the home of his nephew Fred to observe his game of Yes and No and to the humble dwelling of his clerk Bob Cratchit to observe his Christmas dinner. The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, harrows Scrooge with dire visions of the future if he does not learn and act upon what he has witnessed. Crippled Tiny Tim does not die as the ghost foretold and Scrooge becomes a different man, treating his fellow men with kindness, generosity, and compassion, and gaining a reputation as a man who embodies the spirit of Christmas.

Cards and Presents for Christmas

The giving of gifts at Christmas comes from several different ideas. One is that God gave his son, Jesus, to the world at Christmas. There is also the story of the Wise Men who came to the baby Jesus with three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. For many centuries it has been the custom for people to give small gifts at Christmas, and also to give generously to the poor and needy to help them through the winter. Another tradition has become linked to this one, and the result is the tradition of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as he is sometimes called, and who is nowadays thought by many children to be the bringer of presents.

In the 4th century, in a Greek village that is now part of Turkey, there was a good man who would secretly given presents to the poor to help them. He became a bishop and is called Saint Nicholas. Over the centuries, he became a very popular saint and lots of churches were named after him. He was very popular in places where there were lots of sailors. One of those places was the Netherlands. In the Netherlands and many other European countries, presents are given on the feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6th. Traditionally, the presents are not big, and are sometimes hidden, or have a funny joke or poem that must be read. In many towns of Europe a man dressed in bishop's robes comes on a horse or in a boat, acting as St. Nicholas. His name was often shortened to Sante Claus, or Santa Claus in English.

In Spain it is the Three Wise Men who bring gifts to children.In English speaking countries, where presents are usually given on Christmas Day, not December 6th, Santa Claus, (or Father Christmas) is usually thought of as coming on Christmas Night, when his magic sleigh is pulled across the sky by reindeer, and he comes into houses through the chimney. While in Europe, children put out their shoes for St. Nicholas, the English tradition is to hang up stockings (or long socks) in front of the fireplace. Santa Claus would traditionally fill the socks or shoes with nuts, raisins, chocolates and an orange. Nowadays children usually get much more expensive presents, and hang up pillow cases or have the presents in a big pile under the Christmas tree.

Another Christmas tradition is the sending of cards to friends and relatives. These contain warm greetings and may also have a letter telling all the things that have happened to the person or family during the year.

From Wikipedia

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Monday, November 16, 2009

While having lunch at "Tyler's", the best hamberger in Palm Springs, our group was introduced to "Ricki", this darling dog.  She's pretty well known and got her own bowl of water while her daddy had his lunch.  In this shot it looks like she's holding hands with her master.

"Ricki"    © Kathy Dunham 2009


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Artist friends, Tim and Rick Vigallon, created these beautiful galloping horses in metal.  The entire panel is 8' long and makes a dramatic statement.  These talented brothers design a myriad of subjects in metal, some just burnished and others coated in exciting colors.  If you're interested in their work you can see it at http://www.vigall-art.com/

May I Take Your Order?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's neat to see what treasures you can find in your own home town.  I was eating lunch today and as I was leaving, I spotted this "Italian chef" outside the restaurant next door.  He was so colorful and charming I couldn't resist taking his picture.

"Can I Take Your Order?"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Santa's Tree

Decorate Santa's tree the way you want it to look like. Mute the sound in the top right corner if you don't want to listen to it.

The Christmas Tree

Comments by ZingerBug.com   The Christmas tree is a decorated artificial or living tree, a popular tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. Normally an evergreen coniferous tree that is brought into a home or used in the open, a Christmas tree is decorated with Christmas lights and colourful ornaments during the days around Christmas. An angel or star is often placed at the top of the tree, representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity story.


Tree trimming decorations:

A bauble decorating a Christmas treeTinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree. Delicate mould-blown and painted coloured glass Christmas ornaments were a speciality of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Lighting with candles or electric lights (fairy lights) is commonly done and a tree topper, traditionally either an angel or a star, completes the ensemble.

Silvered saran based tinsel was introduced later, which many have found to be unsatisfactory, since it did not drape well, leading to the demise of tinsel in tree decorating in the United States (it remains popular in many European countries). Baubles are another extremely common decoration, and usually consist of a fairly small hollow glass or plastic sphere coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, and then with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide colouration.

Individuals' decorations vary widely, typically being an eclectic mix of family traditions and personal tastes; even a small unattractive ornament, if passed down from a parent or grandparent, may come to carry considerable emotional value and be given a place of pride on the tree. Conversely, trees decorated by professional designers for department stores and other institutions will usually have a "theme"; a set of predominant colours, multiple instances of each type of ornament, and larger decorations that may be more complicated to set up correctly. Some churches decorate with Chrismon trees, which use handmade ornaments depicting various Chrismon symbols. Chrismon means simple monograms of Jesus Christ.

Many people also decorate outdoor trees with food that birds and other wildlife will enjoy, such as garlands made from unsalted popcorn or cranberries, orange halves, and seed-covered suet cakes.

Tree mats and skirts:

Since candles were used to light trees until electric bulbs came about, a mat (UK) or "skirt" (US) was often placed on the floor below the tree to protect it by catching the dripping candle wax, and also to collect any needles that fall. Even when dripless candles, electric lights and artificial trees have been used, a skirt is still usually used as a decorative feature: among other things, it hides the Christmas tree stand, which may be unsightly but which is an important safety feature of home trees. What began as ordinary cloth has now often become much more ornate, some having embroidery or being put together like a quilt.

A nativity scene, model train, or Christmas village may be placed on the mat or skirt. As Christmas presents arrive, they are generally placed underneath the tree on the tree skirt (depending on tradition, all Christmas gifts, or those too large to be hung on the tree, as in "presents on the tree" of the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas").

Generally, the difference between a mat and skirt is simply that a mat is placed under the Christmas tree stand, while a skirt is placed over it, having a hole in the middle for the trunk, with a slot cut to the outside edge so that it can be placed around the tree (beneath the branches) easily. A plain mat of fabric or plastic may also be placed under the stand and skirt to protect the floor from scratches or water.

Christmas tree stand:

A Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree. Christmas tree stands appeared as early as 1876 and have had various designs over the years. Those stands designed for natural trees have a water reservoir to hydrate the live tree.


In the 1940s and 1950s flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow. Typically it would be sprayed all over the tree from the sides, which produced a look different from real snow, which settles in clumps atop branches. Flocking can be done with a professional sprayer at a tree lot (or the manufacturer if it is artificial), or at home from a spray can, and either can be rather messy. This tradition seems to be most popular on the West Coast and Southern parts of the United States.

Because flock contains flame retardants, a flocked tree can be placed in a public building in accordance with local fire codes.

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A Matter of Inches

Friday, November 13, 2009

The French take the game of Bocci very seriously.  No "gimmees" in this group.  I don't know if there was any money on the line but I have a feeling there was with measuring going on like this.

"A Matter of Inches"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Shasta Daisy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Mom loved Shasta Daisies.  They were graceful and their fringed petals add a delicate touch to an otherwise common flowers.

"Shasta Daisy"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Veteran's Day in the Park

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's important for us to remember those who serve our country so that we can live free.  The City of La Quinta, where I live, holds a ceremony each Veteran's Day to recognize those members in the community who've been a member of the Armed Forces. This memorial, with their names engraved on it, stands to honor those men and women.

"Veteran's Day in the Park"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Santa Quest

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Please be patient while game is loading.
Warning: game may be addictive.

A Study in Red and White

Flowers are my passion and everywhere I travel I'm searching out subjects to photograph.  Sometimes the light isn't as perfect as I'd like but when it's your only chance, you've got to go for it.  These red nasturtiums nicely framed the white flowers and I knew it'd be a while before I'd be back to Skagway, Alaska, so I did the best I could.

"Study in Red and White"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Monday, November 9, 2009

This was one of those stories my mother read to me as a child. I enjoyed watching it on television as a child...and who am I kidding...I still do!

Pink & Green

Hydrangeas are pretty fresh and dry.  But these fresh beauties in pink and greens just talked to me.

"Pink & Green"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Christmas in Barcelona

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It'll be holiday season before we know it so I thought I'd get an early start with this shot from the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, Spain.  The city comes alive at night and they have lights hung everywhere in the narrow streets of the old part of town.

"Christmas in Barcelona"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours!

Saturday, November 7, 2009
Christmas Picture Frame
imikimi - Customize Your World!
From top left to right:
Pepper, myself, my daughter Bridget & Jason
Kashmir, my grandaughter, Gino, Kelsi, my grandaughter
George, my son & Jen, Bruce, my husband, and Jinx

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The story begins on Christmas Eve at the stahlbaum house. Marie, twelve years old, and her brother Fritz, eight, sit outside the parlor speculating about what kind of present their godfather Drosselmeyer, who is a clockmaker and inventor, has made for them. They are at last allowed into the parlor, where they receive many splendid gifts, including Drosselmeyer's, which turns out to be a clockwork castle with mechanical people moving about inside it. However, as the mechanical people can only do the same thing over and over without variation, the children quickly tire of it. At this point, Marie notices the Nutcracker doll, and asks whom he belongs to. Her father tells her that he belongs to all of them, but that since she is so fond of him she will be his special caretaker. Marie, her sister Louise, and her brother Fritz pass the Nutcracker among them, cracking nuts, until Fritz tries to crack a nut that is too big and hard, and the Nutcracker's jaw breaks. Marie, upset, takes the Nutcracker away and bandages him with a ribbon from her dress.

When it is time for bed, the children put their Christmas gifts away in the special cupboard where they keep their toys. Fritz and Louise go up to bed, but Marie begs to be allowed to stay with Nutcracker a while longer, and she is allowed to do so. She puts Nutcracker to bed and tells him that Drosselmeyer will fix his jaw as good as new. At this, the Nutcracker's face seems momentarily to come alive, and Marie is frightened, but she then decides it was only her imagination.
The grandfather clock begins to chime, and Marie believes she sees Drosselmeyer sitting on top of it, preventing it from striking. Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King. Marie, startled, slips and puts her elbow through the glass door of the toy cupboard. The dolls in the cupboard come alive and begin to move, Nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie's ribbon on as a token. The battle at first goes to the dolls, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice. Marie, seeing Nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her shoe and throws it at the Mouse King, then faints.
Marie wakes the next morning with her arm bandaged and tries to tell her parents about the battle between the mice and the dolls, but they do not believe her, thinking that she has had a fever dream caused by the wound she sustained from the broken glass. Drosselmeyer soon arrives with the Nutcracker, whose jaw has been fixed, and tells Marie the story of Princess Pirlipat and the Queen of the Mice, which explains how Nutcrackers came to be and why they look the way they do.
The Queen of the Mice tricked Pirlipat's mother into allowing her and her children to gobble up the lard that was supposed to go into the sausage that the King was to eat at dinner that evening. The King, enraged at the Mouse Queen for spoiling his supper and upsetting his wife, had his court inventor, whose name happens to be Drosselmeyer, create traps for the Mouse Queen and her children.
The Mouse Queen, angered at the death of her children, swore that she would take revenge on the King's daughter, Pirlipat. Pirlipat's mother surrounded her with cats which were supposed to be kept awake by being constantly stroked, however inevitably the nurses who stroked the cats fell asleep and the Mouse Queen magically turned the infant Pirlipat ugly, giving her a huge head, a wide grinning mouth and a cottony beard, like a nutcracker. The King blamed Drosselmeyer and gave him four weeks to find a cure. At the end of four weeks, Drosselmeyer had no cure but went to his friend, the court astrologer.
They read Pirlipat's horoscope and told the King that the only way to cure her was to have her eat the nut Crackatook, which must be cracked and handed to her by a man who had never been shaved nor worn boots since birth, and who must, without opening his eyes hand her the kernel and take seven steps backwards without stumbling. The King sent Drosselmeyer and the astrologer out to look for the nut and the young man, charging them on pain of death not to return until they had found them.
The two men journeyed for many years without finding either the nut or the man, until finally they returned home and found the nut in a small shop. The man who had never been shaved and never worn boots turned out to be Drosselmeyer's own nephew. The King, once the nut had been found, promised his daughter's hand to whoever could crack the nut. Many men broke their teeth on the nut before Drosselmeyer's nephew finally appeared. He cracked the nut easily and handed it to the princess, who swallowed it and immediately became beautiful again, but Drosselmeyer's nephew, on his seventh backward step, trod on the Queen of the Mice and stumbled, and the curse fell on him, giving him a large head, wide grinning mouth and cottony beard; in short, making him a Nutcracker. The ungrateful Princess, seeing how ugly Drosselmeyer's nephew had become, refused to marry him and banished him from the castle.
Marie, while she recuperates from her wound, hears the King of the Mice whispering to her in the middle of the night, threatening to bite Nutcracker to pieces unless she gives him her sweets and her dolls. For Nutcracker's sake, Marie sacrifices her things, but the Mouse king wants more and more and finally Nutcracker tells Marie that if she will just get him a sword, he will finish the Mouse King. Marie asks Fritz for a sword for Nutcracker, and he gives her the sword of one of his toy hussars. The next night, Nutcracker comes into Marie's room bearing the Mouse King's seven crowns, and takes her away with him to the doll kingdom, where Marie sees many wonderful things. She eventually falls asleep in the Nutcracker's palace and is brought back home. She tries to tell her mother what happened, but again she is not believed, even when she shows her parents the seven crowns, and she is forbidden to speak of her "dreams" anymore.
As Marie sits in front of the toy cabinet one day, looking at Nutcracker and thinking about all the wondrous things that happened, she can't keep silent anymore and swears to the Nutcracker that if he were ever really real she would never behave as Princess Pirlipat behaved, and she would love him whatever he looked like. At this, there is a bang and she falls off the chair. Her mother comes in to tell her that godfather Drosselmeyer has arrived with his young nephew. Drosselmeyer's nephew takes Marie aside and tells her that by swearing that she would love him in spite of his looks, she broke the curse on him and made him handsome again. He asks her to marry him. She accepts, and in a year and a day he comes for her and takes her away to the Doll Kingdom, where she is crowned queen.

Fish for Sale

Every weekend there's a street fair with vendors selling everything from flags to hardware items.  It's a great way to get some exercise as you have lots of aisles to roam if you want to see everything.  This metal fish was waiting for the right person to take him home.   

"Fish for Sale"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Friday, November 6, 2009
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)Image via Wikipedia

GreetingSpring.comFrom Wikipedia

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a character created in a story and song by the same name. The story was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward.

The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms including a popular song, a television special (done in stop motion animation), and a feature film. Character Arts, LLC [1] manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. Although the story and song are not public domain, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore.

The song tells the tale of Santa Claus's ninth and lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light, powerful enough to illuminate the team's path through inclement weather.

The reindeer made his television debut on NBC in 1964, when Rankin/Bass produced a stop motion animated TV special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that became a popular hit in itself. This version was re-broadcast annually many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video and then DVD. It now airs several times during the Christmas season (on CBS rather than NBC), making it the longest-running TV special in terms of consecutive years. A small bit of trivia regarding the 1964 production, the Roman Numeral Date given at the beginning of the show is in error, missing the second "M", (MCLXIV) which equates to the year 1164. It should have read MCMLXIV to be correct.

In 1976, a sequel to the Rankin-Bass original special was produced, entitled Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and then a third in 1979 entitled Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. Then in 2001, a fourth in the series was released titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

The old Spanish fort in Cartegena, Columbia is laced with tunnels.  Places to store weapons and other paraphernalia of war and a way to move about without having to be exposed to cannon and gun fire.  They were very dark and small.  The Spaniards must have been short people. 

"Light at the End of the Tunnel"   © Kathy Dunham 2009

Desert Pinks

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I was driving home this afternoon and as I approached the stop sign I looked to my right and something unusual caught my eye.  It was pink and feathery.  I quickly turned the corner, parked the car and walked back with my camera to see what it was.  I don't know the name of this plant, but with the sun behind it, the delicate pink tones stood out so soft and delicate.  Without the sun hitting them that way, they were just another plant.  You never know when oportunity will strike, but I always have my camera ready.

"Desert Pinks"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

November in the Desert

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We don't always get spectacular sunsets in our desert but tonight it was a real knock out. 

"November in the Desert"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When the weather is foul in the fields of France, shephards and workers can seek shelter in this centuries old rock and slate hut called a "Biroc".  It doesn't have any amenities but at least it's dry.

"Biroc"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Christmas Greeting Puzzle

Use the space bar as you click on the puzzle pieces to flip them into place.

Christmas Picture Puzzle

Move the puzzle pieces around until you make the tree.

Out for an Afternoon Drive

Monday, November 2, 2009

I was in Palm Springs today celebrating my friend Patty's birthday when we noticed this classic beauty driving around the neighborhood.  And the weather was absolutely perfect to have the top down so they could enjoy warm sunshine.

"Out for an Afternoon Drive"    © Kathy Dunham 2009

Christmas Facts

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     Did you know that:

1. In Denmark, they leave a bowl of rice pudding for Santa Claus.

2. Norway sends a large tree to England on an annual basis.

3. A festive "Great Bullfight" is held every Christmas in Peru.

4. The evergreen tree is a symbol of eternal life offered to Christians through faith in Christ.

5. In Holland, the gift bringer is Sinter Klaas.

6. Charlie Brown-1965-Lucy says the best snowflakes are January snowflakes.

7. In Germany, Bavarians go into the mountains and fire pistols in honor of Christmas.

8. A stoneman, Charles Pajeau, invented Tinker Toys in 1913.

9. In 1997, 96% of children between the ages of 8-12 included a big screen TV on their holiday wish list.....WOW!

10. 1.76 billion candy canes were made during the holiday season.

11. The largest yo-yo weighs 896 pounds.

12. Santa Claus is Coming To Town was written in 1934.

13. The most complete "Christmas Story" was told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

14. Dutch children receive wooden shoes filled with candy and toys at Christmas.

15. Christmas Cards originated in England and were first sent during the 1840's.

16. Americans spent 13.8 billion during the "2001" holiday shopping season.

17. The first Christmas Trees were suspended from the ceiling.

18. On Christmas Eve in Spain, children fill their shoes with straw.

19. In Norway, the last Sunday before Christmas is called Dirty Sunday.

20. In Austria, gluhwein, or mulled wine is enjoyed at Christmas.

21. Erector sets were the most popular Christmas gift in 1913.

22. In Finland, Santa is called Joulupukki.

23. Holly is a symbol of rebirth and has come to stand for peace and joy.

24. The german word Christkindl, means Christ child who was the gift giver.