Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bright and Beautiful Wanderings

Greetings, dear bloggie frens. I am continuing to run so far behind in visiting blogs! We had a pet emergency, in that my little half-feral was evidently bitten by a rat right on his face, and has had surgery but isn't recovering quickly. We know it was a rat, because Morgy fought it, and won, right on the back patio! A Pyrrhic victory, perhaps.

Poor Morgie, or Morgy as the vet has re-spelled it (!), is wanting to be held for hours, and I am glad to do it, as he never liked being held before. But not a lot gets done when you are holding a sleeping kitty. And my knee is acting very silly lately!

I am shocked, but not really, at Hobby Lobby: They have consolidated what's left of Christmas onto two aisles, and have Valentine's and a bit of Easter up! The Christmas items must have sold in record numbers this year. I tried, but couldn't find, any boxes of unbreakable ornaments and lights after the first of December. I did get some adorable retro plastic deer, 90% off because they were missing something from their heads. Here are two of them, along with some marzipan:

marzipan and mid century modern deer

Frens, don't forget, you can always ask for a discount at stores, including Big Box stores! I wanted 90% off those deer, not the 50% they already were, but the cashiers are usually limited to 10 or 20 percent off, so just ask for the "manager on duty" and see if they'll bite! You know who asks for discounts all the time? Wealthy people! That's where I learned it.

An aside: Have you ever made a big pot of soup and have it not turn out very tasty? I am now stuck with eating a yucky, but healthy, soup for the next three days! I need to stick with a recipe. I think the cauliflower fought with the other flavors.

I'll leave you, dear bloggers, with some photos of my travels home from church. I love the lights of Christmas! Sorry if I repeat any from before.

Leaving San Albino Basilica after Mass...
san albino at christmas
(Yes, I got that piece of trash up!)

Side view of a house near Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral:
las cruces christmas near IHM cathedral 2021

This house was full of music and inflatables: A labor of love for the children of Las Cruces, found out on a county road. All are welcome to wander the grounds, so I did:

A pretty house in the part of town known as Mesilla Park. I love it when people light up their palm trees:

And here is a reminder that be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. See the doggie on the back porch? He was so smart and good! Home is where the heart is! 

Hoping your season is going well!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Free "Merry Mix" Printable Tags, Attack of the Age Spots, and A Rosary Rescue

December Greetings, dearies! 

Here are some free downloadable tags, safely saved on a Google Drive. Use this LINK <---- instead of saving the image, as Blogger shrinks the big files and they won't print nicely. I call it "Merry Mix" because it has a smorgasbord [Smörgåsbord] of vintage images.


free printable diy christmas tags download

Oh boy, last year I posted about the movie White Christmas, which I dearly love, PARTICULARLY the smorgasbord scene in the middle of the night, when Bing and Rosemary went to the big den area and were enjoying the snacks that were always available. 

It reminds me so much of a lodge I stayed at one night at the Grand Canyon. It had a huge fire, 24/7, and a smorgasbord all night long. I just walked around and snoozed in the den the entire night! It was forty years ago, and I mention it in the blog and in person entirely too much! It was just magical, that's why. One of the best nights of my life! What can I say, my life is pretty lowkey!

In the movie, Bing and Rosemary sang the pretty duet, "Count Your Blessings." Oh yes, that's a good song to memorize and sing to yourself! I like to be real, not have a Pollyanna attitude, but having an appreciation for what you do have can be so important. I wanted to just cry yesterday, I was feeling so blue about not getting that job and in so much pain when I walked. And then I thought, "My gosh, but I can still WALK! I can WALK, what a gift!" and it gave me strength and off to Walmart I went for some needed groceries! Mainly, chicken tenders to bake for the silly dogs! They love their chicken.

When I was throwing my purse into the back seat of the car, I looked down and there on the driveway was a single-decade Rosary I have been missing for weeks. Right on the concrete, with tire tread marks going over it, and broken glass beads around it and crushed pinecones all around!

I had parked back a-ways on the driveway, unusual for me. I don't think I would have found the Rosary had I not been parked so far back. I must have dropped it. I don't make "bracelet" Rosaries although they are popular. I think that a Rosary ought to be firmly in hand or nestling in a pocket, not put around a wrist and forgotten! But the danger in that is not being aware enough! 

I set out to repair the Rosary. Amazingly, both the Holy Medal and the Crucifix were intact, although the tire had clearly rolled right over them. It was just a matter of replacing some of the beads and doing a bit of straightening!

broken Rosary before repair

Two beads are missing, and five more are cracked


repaired Rosary, Czech druks and garnet

Repaired! Under the medal is the Glory Bee charm I put on all my personal Rosaries.

At night, with the execrable Hallmark movies playing (yes, some I LOVE, some make me just CRINGE), I am making lots of Rosaries. I'm putting them at the churches with a note in Spanish and in English, and I do not let myself hang around to see people react to them, because that would undo the good of giving, I feel. But they are gone quickly. 

I am "repairing" something else, too! What price vanity?! I am attempting to remove some "age spots" from my hands and face. Dear friends, do not try this at home! It involves wart remover. I use the chemical one, not the freeze one. I have done it before, and removed some really big age spots, or liver spots as my mother called them, on my face that the dermatologist didn't remove despite using a laser. But being a desert rat for so long, they are on me a-plenty. The ones on the hands don't seem to be doing as well as the face ones. This is my first try on hands and arms.

Age spot liver spot removal at home with wart remover

The chemical is applied and drying in this photo...Ow!

I've taken some before and during photos, and I'll show the "after" photos when the process is over! Usually, I don't like wearing a face mask, but for now, I am happy to wear one and I pull it up to my eyes! And I have those fingerless mittens on when I go out! It looks pretty bad right now!

It is going to be so busy at church! So much going on!  Tonight, a Vigil Mass because tomorrow is The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

If you get a chance, please share what you're doing in the evenings! I'm always curious!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame


Monday, December 6, 2021

Matachines, Pink Shoes, and Y'allmark Christmases!

Don't ask me why, but I have been watching Hallmark Christmas movies nonstop. Oh, maybe not watching, exactly, but having them on "for company" while I do other things. I am trying to sort through and organize my possessions. More on that in another post! Here's one of said possessions, from an entire huge box of vintage Christmas cards:

Little Christmas card snowman with inside-out umbrella
I hope you are not having such a day as poor snowman is having!

Sometimes I go sit in the "new" recliner and watch the movies a bit, after putting Champie the Chiweenie "up up" with me. With his wee wizened leg, he cannot jump up at all and he MUST be by my side at all times, he feels. Sophie, the little fuzzy mutt, gets in the other "new" recliner next to me, "all by her big-girl self."

I am evidently in a "quote-mark mood" today! "So to speak."

I was thinking, as each Hallmark movie unfolded, that maybe there should be a Y'allmark or Drawlmark movie channel, where various corny Southern romances could be depicted. They could NOT be worse than some of the movies I'm seeing!

Tonight on the Drawlmark Channel! A Northern Storm

Can an icy Nordic prince starting a chain of yoga juice bars warm up to down-home honesty and a zany small-town girl?

"Momma, I think I love him, even though he's some kind of Yankee boy and he's done took over Old Doc Grover's soda shop and says he's turning it into a high-end juice bar and they're going to have yoga and pita-bread sammiches and break the whole town's heart!"

"You go warsh yer mouth out right now, talking such nonsense! In love with a Yankee? Pfffft!" 

"But Momma, he's real rich and he has a lifted pickup even tho' it's elec-tric and he's an executive and he's a prince of some little European country an' I'm so zany I just fell right in love with him!" 

"A lifted pickup? And money to boot? Why didn't you say so? Bring him to supper! I'll make a big pot of turnip greens 'n' cornpones!"


Tonight, a Y'allmark Channel World Premier: Yankee Doodle Candy

Can an unlucky-in-love praline maker convince a snotty Eastern venture capitalist to take a chance on her grandmother's old-fashioned candy factory? 

Things get off to a sticky start when Brent, the venture capitalist with a sad secret heartbreak in his past, has his fine Italian suit ruined by a warm praline thrown by Missy Belle! She was aiming at Bubba, her old high-school beau who is back in town for the big high school reunion! Will the week end with a Ding-Dong and sody-pop date with Bubba, or the ding-dong of wedding bells with Brent?

That's enough of THAT!

~ ~ ~

I haven't yet felt much better lately, but sometimes, if you can manage to get up and stay up, you can get a lot done anyway. I did have FOUR interviews for a job I wanted very much at the university, but evidently I lost out to someone else, because I did not get contacted after the fourth interview. I GOT GHOSTED, as the kids say, or maybe used to say. It was interview after interview, test after test, phone calls, Zoom calls, another interview, then radio silence. Was it the pink shoes I wore to the last interview?  I tend to forget to check what shoes I have on. Look, I originated in Arkansas. It's a miracle I wear shoes at all. 

These shoes have fake fur inside! Very warm and roomy at the toe! And you don't tie them! IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THIS.

Pink shoes with fake fur inside, on leaves.
My precious Walmart pink low-quarter sneakers!

Today, to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe (big day coming up, December 12th), matachines (mat-ah chee-ness) gathered at four points in our city, and danced to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They danced for miles, and then when they arrived, they danced more, the earlier troupes for an hour and a half, and the later troupes for portions of that time. 

Matachines are groups of dancers who dance for religious reasons. They are almost trance-dancers, I would say, able to dance beyond normal endurance, and able to dance their particular rhythm and movements despite many other troupes dancing to different drumbeats and different steps right next to them. It is a cacophony of sound, and an amazing sight.

Usually, a full-size statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe is carried in front, and the dancers follow. The statue is sometimes carried on a litter, by hand, and sometimes is in the bed of a truck.

The dancers wear elaborate costumes styled much like southwestern Native American ceremonial dress. Lengths of bamboo from reeds by the Rio Grande are used instead of porcupine quills, but sewn in horizontal lines, they give a similar hollow sound as they knock together. Row upon row of this bamboo, many times with small bells at the end, adorn the long loincloth-type costumes. Gourds with beans or beads inside are carried and shaken. 

The embroidery on the loincloths is just stunning, heavy on the sequins and favoring depictions of Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Front and back loincloths each have different depictions. 

Elaborate headdresses or scarves tied like a sheikh's are worn, or both. Stylized weapons are carried as the dances often depict the battle of good versus evil, and some dancers appear as monsters or devilish creatures that dance among the faithful, lest we forget this is so. 

I love that all are welcome to be part of these troupes. You see all weights and sizes. You don't see many older dancers, though. They just cannot have that high level of energy, but they act as the elders and teach and advise and walk along the dancers on the road. 

There are all-female groups, all-male groups, and a few mixed groups. Sometimes determined children in first or second grade are dancers, their tiny feet keeping the steps as well as the teens and adults do. The dancing is a serious business. You will not see smiles while the dancers do their steps, but faces set in concentration!

Today, six troupes were at the Cathedral. I could not choose a favorite troupe, but the matachines wearing powder blue were tireless! First to arrive, they were last to stop dancing. They also had three strong dancers who wore wooden-soled shoes that sounded like clomping horses' hooves as they stomped. You could hear the hoofbeats over the general din. 

I took a photo of them during one of their rare breaks where they yielded the prime dancing spot, as they gathered in excitement when our Bishop walked out, and quickly surrounded him. Our Bishop is from Malta and he is hilarious. 

Matachines gather in 2021 around Bishop Peter of IHM, Las Cruces, NM

You can't see it from here, but a table was set up and just COVERED in roses during the dancing, then brought into the Cathedral. Roses are associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe, or OLOG, as it is often abbreviated.

Here is a vintage Mexican Christmas card I have in my collection. I had to smile, because it looks so similar to the Mexican "Loteria" (bingo) cards' designs. Catholics and bingo are like peanut butter and jelly!

vintage mexican christmas card

All of my Mexican Christmas cards have roses on them. This has a rose and bud, very fitting!

I'm continuing to try to fast and to go out to nature each day. Nature seems to know it's Christmas fever this time of year! Even these leaves turned red and green! 

red and green oak leaves for fall and christmas

I hope all of you are well, and I will be hopping to your blogs today to catch up on what I have missed! 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Thursday, November 25, 2021

So Much to Be Thankful For...Including YOU!

I can't even begin to express how much your comments have meant to me this past week. I was very down when posting my tale of health woes, and then things got worse: A torn meniscus, again, and sciatica, again, different leg than last time, though! 

At first, I was angry at myself for posting when I was down. It seemed weak, unworthy. And of course, I am weak and unworthy, yet I have the love of the Holy Trinity, and all the angels and saints! It was good to be reminded and to strike down false pride. I have such an unfortunate tendency to false pride. Ugh.

Flowers, a palm-tree, and turning leaves, all at the same time at the little park I like!

So, I've been down, but not out! In fact, the worse I feel, the more often I pray, the more often I go to Mass, and the more determination is given me to carry on! Because although I am just a shy, puny person, with no great credits to my name, I can still be an instrument of the Lord, and light my little candle to brighten someone's day, be they human or animal! 

I used to sing that song at summer camp: "It is better to light, just one little candle, than to stumble in the dark...and if everyone lit, just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!"

Thank you for "lighting a candle" for me with your kindness.

Yes, much to be thankful for this year! And every day! Yesterday I was determined to run errands, leg or no leg, so to speak. I just could not delay any longer, and be able to make Thanksgiving dinner. And God placed me to see an altercation with a disturbed man attacking a woman, and call 911. And I saw a loose dog (a chiweenie), but sadly was unable to catch him. But I did alert our wonderful local rescue that just swarms like a SWAT team when a dog is reported running loose, and I got a message he had been captured. And I found a "blow mold" (those light-up hard plastic snowmen and Santas and so forth that folks put on their porches and lawns) that I could afford! I put him (it's a snowman) in my room and had him lighted all night, I was so excited. At the thrift store where I got the snowman, I was also given a big bag of leftover Chick Fil-A cooked pieces, free! There was 8 quarts of frozen chicken in there! And I put out the trees!

This year, feeling puny, I just put up a few ornaments on the turquoise tree to make a "fiesta tree" to fit our Southwestern area.

Can you see my German good-luck pig ornament on the old-fashioned tree?

And I reread all the wonderful comments, as the icing on the cake.

I can smell my turkey in the oven, hooray! And I hope you are having a sweet day. My son decided not to visit after all, and my husband doesn't celebrate any holiday, but I hope you have someone to share the day with. And if not, know that you are not forgotten, and that all the angels and saints, bidden or not, are all around you and concerned for your happiness! And remember that God's eye is on the sparrow! 

These fine fellows wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Much love and kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame


Friday, November 19, 2021

Not So Fast

I have been out-of-pocket because of a very bad flare-up of my arthritis and my liver problems. My diabetes went bonkers, too.

For years, I have tried to find something that would return my life to nearer normal in terms of health. I searched and searched for a doctor, a medicine, a method, an herb, something to return me to normal, to end the pain, to end the inability to stand or walk for long, to end the diabetes, to fix the liver. My friends, my family, my husband all impatiently wanted me to "be fixed." Not for my benefit, but for theirs. 

Despite that, I no longer pray simply to be "fixed," but to be at peace with God's will. I pray for strength, for grace, for "oomph" in the face of my medical problems. When I taught grade school, my classes always knew my mantra when handing out treats, coloring pages, and so forth: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit." 

It's hard to "keep in life" with medical problems. But I'm trying. I'm trying to stay in the game. I saw so much beauty, so many interesting things this past week! Yes, I regret I can't walk around much, but I do walk around. Better 100 steps than no steps!

hot chile peppers bright peppers getting ripe

I don't want to stop trying to get better, but I want to stop feeling ashamed that I can't be 100% again. It's a fine line, to accept that some things are simply God's will, and to keep trying. I think there is a lot of blame in our society, for those who have medical problems. There's suspicion that they "caused it," that they don't try hard enough to get better, that they're lazy or unworthy or something. That they are flawed. Oh, God forbid someone is flawed in the time of Instagram and Facebook!

red autumn winter berries ash tree

I went to the botanical garden here almost every day this week. I looked at the plants. Some aren't doing great. Should they feel ashamed? Should we question God's handiwork? Some have broken limbs, or their trunk is twisted, or their flowers small, or their berries not as bright as others' are. And they are all beautiful to me! To be growing in the harsh desert! All are intriguing and amazing!

twisted weeping mulberry

My main mantra is, "Keep on keepin' on" and in that spirit, I am! I heard about a possible way to help my liver and help my inflammation, maybe help the high blood pressure and diabetes: Fasting.

I am fasting and eating a small amount once a day. I am going to have some 48-hour fasts, too, after these first five days of 24-hour fasts are done. I think every religion on earth has a lot of fasting involved, at least in olden times. I know our priests fast every Friday, but they do not mention it.

autumn leaves and palm tree in desert new mexico

My first day of no food until 9 p.m. was tough. I had a small bowl of soup and six green olives and was still very hungry. The second day, better. I had more soup and some crackers, and was still a bit hungry. The third (today), better. I had half a hamburger and felt full. I hope tomorrow and the following day will be better still! And then the two-day fasts: That's where the real benefit to health is supposed to kick in. I'll let you know! 

Have you ever struggled with the expectations of others towards you? Have you ever tried fasting?

last roses of autumn 2021

Sharing "the last roses of autumn" with you!

Remember this in times of doubt:
Your heart's like a ruby,
Your mind's like a pearl.
Your faith's like a diamond:
You're a gem of a girl!

Kind regards,
Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

It's Beginning to Look...

...a lot like Christmas downtown! 

downtown las cruces christmas tree 2021

I am noticing that all around, decorating seems early again this year! I don't know if it's from the COVID shock or just what, but lights are going up, garden flags with Christmas motifs are flying, some wreaths are on doors and gates, and some trees are up!

Pretty Christmas deer 2021 las cruces

I am spotting the trees in coffee houses, cafes, and gift shops. I have not seen one in a home window yet. And I'm seeing Santa here and there, too! I love what they call "blowmolds," like the ones above and below. I remember a lot of them from my youth.

Santa and reindeer 2021 las cruces

Aw, our town is so poor that Santa can have only two deer. Luckily Santa seems a bit undersized so it won't be too hard for them to pull him. Remember in the poem "The Night Before Christmas," when Santa is described as "a right jolly old elf?" He used to be kind of small. The poem also says,

Now what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

Now he's big and rather rotund. Inflation, I guess. And two of those big-sized deer must be equal in deer-power to the original eight.

I am happy my cattycorner neighbor has a big light-up turkey in the front yard! We must give Thanksgiving its due! Of course, a lot of folks mingle Thanksgiving with Christmas, and I do love a jumble of holidays. 

The dogs have a special perch right in the front window, so they can reign over the street. They do not like the big glowing turkey at all. Bark-bark-bark. Bark-bark-bark.

Driving downtown, I stopped and asked this artist if I could take his photo while he worked. And assured him that "no" was perfectly acceptable. But he was happy to oblige. We have some really good artists in town. Some of the students at the university are really talented, too. I love when the businesses paint pretty scenes on their windows at holiday times.

Lo Brau Art painting a window in Las Cruces 2021

He also has a little baby polar bear cub looking out of the window next to this one! It's going to be really cute when finished. Did you know that polar bears have transparent fur? And that their skin is black? 

Have you seen any Christmas trees or blowmolds up around your area?

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Indian Summer? And Swept Paths and Yards

It is suddenly much milder than it was during the last days of October. Last night was "supposed" to have a low of 39, which is, as my husband likes to say, "Only 7 degrees above freezing!"

But instead, the low was only 50, and today had bouts of clouds but ultimately cleared in late afternoon, and was very mild and pleasant.

I went to the very old cemetery, San Albino Cemetery, I wrote about on the blog before. (<---Link) Many people were there, and many of the graves had been cleaned, and new flowers and decorations placed. 

Beautiful San Albino Cemetery, All Souls Day, 2021

Some of the graves had simply been "swept." 

"Swept" grave in San Albino Cemetery, Mesilla, NM 2021 All Souls Day

[An aside: Did you know that in Colonial times, "swept yards" were de rigueur? Yes, no one of any account would have had grass in their yard or along their garden paths. I can remember, as a very small child in Arkansas, helping smack wetted clay soil into a hard, smooth surface along the garden paths. We always put a "slip" of clay on our paths, and raked the loose soil around the paths constantly. I have something of a "swept" yard here, too, in parts.]

This family is taking no chances. Not only is there a lovely old statue of Blessed Mother Mary gracing the grave, but a smaller statue of Mary as she appeared as the Virgin of Guadalupe has been wired onto the iron fence in front. Do you see the rotund little "mariachi" musician playing his horn to the lower right? 

Blessed Mother Mary statues and mariachi statue in San Albino Cemetery 2021

I am still not used to these ground-level graves. In New Orleans, everyone must be buried in vaults above ground. I was very frightened of the idea of being below the ground! But my sister-in-law, and many visitors to New Orleans, were uneasy with all the crypts, like a stone maze, a stone city, in those old cemeteries. 

During my visit to the cemetery, I sat on a bench next to a little sign that said, "Welcome Steelers Fans." I am unsure about who the Steelers are exactly, other than being a football team, but I felt they would not mind if a neutral party sat on the bench to pray. 

steelers fans San Albino cemetery 2021

I keep seeing a television advertisement with a frail-looking Joe Namath hawking some kind of Medicare supplemental policy. I was astounded: I recall him as "Broadway Joe," the good-looking, vital, sinuous quarterback of the New York Jets. Now, I could easily tackle him. 

I brought along Rosaries with me, and my favorite Rosary to pray, and on as many of the neglected, worn crosses as I could, I placed a Rosary. I chose the graves where no trace of a name remains. Sometimes families die out, even our great Mexican-American dynasties here. I had both beautiful Rosaries, and the free Rosaries from the missions. I need to get more Rosaries because dozens of plain crosses remain unadorned.

I said the Rosary many times because there are so many to pray for, so many to remember, and of course, we must remember the unremembered, if that makes any sense. Of course, God remembers us all, down to our last atom! What a comfort!

On the way home, I saw this arched gate, which I just love. It is pretty no matter the season. A "ristra wreath" adorns it this fall.

ristra wreath old mesilla 2021

Do you have unusual cemetery traditions in your area, or strange gardening traditions, like "swept paths?"

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Monday, November 1, 2021

Welcome, November, You Blustery Rascal

And so the year rolls along, and now we are in November. But we are not done with "witches," oh no. For now comes the time that sees storms known as "witches" in the Great Lakes area -- The Witch of November. You may recall the storm that sank The Edmund Fitzgerald referred to in the Gordon Lightfoot song thusly - "...when the Witch of November comes stealing!" 

There will be bluster. There will be leaves down and underfoot, crunchy or sodden by turns. There will be sad-looking gardens that you'd swear were neglected for years, after just a single blast from November's weather cannon. 

fall leaves changing color 2021 pecans yellow golden

Here in the southern desert, the leaves will finally change. It has begun!

pecan leaves changing color in fall 2021

For Catholics, November is the month to pray the Rosary daily and help the souls in Purgatory. It may just be here in the very different borderlands area, but Rosaries said on All Saints Day (today, November 1st) and most especially on All Souls Day (November 2nd), if said in a graveyard, have tremendous oomph, and can lift a soul right out of Purgatory, one per Rosary. If that doesn't get a good Catholic busy with the beads, I don't know what will. Of course, you will find me at the cemeteries today and tomorrow, favorite Rosary in hand. (I know Rosary is not usually capitalized, but I'm capitalizing it!)

pecan tree yellow golden leaves 2021

November will bring us Thanksgiving Day, a holiday I remember with especial joy, and with such bittersweet feelings. I found a YouTube video by someone who calls herself "Little Poet," and in the video, Little Poet sings a song she wrote, "Thanksgiving Day." It's very evocative of those bittersweet feelings!

I never used to watch YouTube videos except for do-it-yourself type of things, but now I watch Little Poet as well as a woman who found herself without much of a retirement, Dee Burks. Dee is sharing how to have a better retirement. Dee is no-nonsense but enjoyable and kind. Little Poet struck me as sugar-sweet at first, but I enjoy it. Take a look at her "channel." All these terms are new to me, and I don't seem to be finding many other "YouTubers" I like, except for those two, but I am sure there are more good ones. And many more bad ones!

I hope your November will start off beautifully, continue contentedly, and finish fantastically! 

Hallowe'en Roundup: At least 170 trick-or-treaters! I made 170 little bags, that's how I know it was at least that many kiddos. I also had two large bags of Smarties and one of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups "just in case" and boy am I glad I did. But it wasn't just kiddos. The demographic changed during the 2-hour window, which is really 3 hours long because the late-comers are swarming until 9. 

At first, while still not full dark, it's the neighborhood moms with very little kids, and some with their dogs, too. I have special dog treats handy for them. The cutest thing was when I handed two dog treats over, and the family looked like they were going to just burst. Finally one child spoke up, saying, "There is a chihuahua in the wagon." Oh my, the poor chihuahua was getting overlooked! He got a treat, too, and the relief was palpable. 

Then, when fully dark, it's neighborhood elementary age and tweens thronging the street. And this is also when very young parents with their new babies in strollers come. The parents are dressed up, as they are barely out of their teens themselves, and the baby always "matches" them. It is SO sweet, and they are SO proud of the baby.

As it gets later, the teens arrive, and are boisterous, but not bad. Sometimes I give a good shriek at their gory costumes and feign fear, and they love that, but anxiously ask if I'm too scared. 

Then there is a definite change, as very little kids start arriving again, this time with parents also carrying "calabasas" for candy. The costumes are pretty threadbare all around. These are our regional neighbors from the El Paso and Juarez area, as evidenced by their license plates.

Some people in our area get angry at these families for coming up from El Paso and Mexico, but I give the parents a lot of credit for bringing the children to an area they know is safe and that will let them enjoy a bountiful amount of candy. The shy smiles of the parents, too, is heartwarming. Unaware I can tell what they are saying, I hear many touching things. Few outside of this area understand the abject poverty of Juarez.

Not one child, not one adult, failed to say "thank you" for their treats! 

The candy necklaces and the glow sticks were the hits of the night. Next year, I am getting more glow sticks, because I ran out.

I hope your Hallowe'en was as fine as mine was!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Clean Ghostly Tale

I do not wish to frighten or disturb my dear bloggie frens.

I have had quite a few times of meeting or seeing what I think would commonly be termed "spirits" or "ghosts."

vintage halloween ad

For myself, I think portents, signs, and ghostly communications are through the work of God and His Heavens. We are far from "Biblical Days," but the Bible has many occurences that might be considered "supernatural." I agree with the term "supernatural," as long as the glory and authorship is known to be God's and the term is not used to denote man's handiwork (unless given power by God, such as was given Moses, or Jesus' giving of powers to his Apostles to do things in His name), and certainly never meaning the lowly Devil's handiwork.

Back in March, I promised a tale of my ghostly experience at the adobe building I had been working in before COVID hit, when I first moved back to this city. This is from that post. It is not scary:

The building where I worked before COVID hit has been everything from a jail to a tortilla factory and was built in the 1830's. Now it's a snotty "media" company. I had no idea, when I interviewed, that the structure DID NOT CONTAIN A BATHROOM OR ANY RUNNING WATER. It had one hell of an outhouse, though.

Nor did it have cooling or heating, because the systems broke and the owners would not pay to repair them. 

Adobes have thick, thick walls, but thick walls are not enough when it is 105 degrees out or 30 degrees out. It was miserable, winter and summer.

Inside, the ceiling was palm fronds held in by vigas -- big pine beams. The fronds rained down stuff all the time. Dry rot, I guess. And roaches. Cockroaches. The walls were whitewashed adobe, and the floor was bricks, no mortar, just old bricks on dirt. The floor was like a topographical map, with hills and valleys, and a couple of cliffs, and was very difficult to walk on if you're old like me. 

Windows were old glass etched with the memories of hundreds of dust storms. I couldn't find what, but something was eating the adobe inside, by the corners of the windows. They would eat it, and leave tiny round balls of adobe mud. I mean tiny, tiny spheres, like non-pariels you find on candy, but even smaller. Adobe is reinforced mud, if you've forgotten. They were probably eating the straw that is the "reinforcing" part.

It was haunted, of course. The first thing I felt when I arrived there was that a back portion of the building had an unusual presence, an unhappy presence. And I'll say no more lest someone get scared. Seriously. I will save that tale for autumn. 

I am barely making it under the wire to finish the story!

The back entrance of the old adobe building was not used, at all. Both ends of the building were identical, but one was "the back" and one was "the front." Both the outer door to each foyer, and the inner door, were heavy wrought iron, with the outer part also having a wooden door, too. Very leaky doors. All the interior doors were wrought iron, with no wood. In the "back," the wrought iron doors were locked for the two rooms flanking the foyer on either side, and those rooms were never opened and didn't even have keys on the keyring. 

This place had been a jail, remember. In those permanently locked rooms, dust and detritus were thick, thick upon the floor, and on the bancos (adobe built-in benches) that lined the walls of these former cells. It was hard to see into the rooms; you had to look in through rents in the black curtains that had been put across the doorways inside the rooms. Dismal.

The boss and her husband were scared of that area. The entire building has a dark feeling, actually. They did not go back there, or even look that way. They had no way to unlock it (great, if there's a fire!) and those cells were not included in the portion they rented. That whole area of the place was just a dead zone and they were scared to go into their own business unless it was fully daylight. Their kid was scared of that end of the building. Neither husband nor wife wanted to be the one to "open up" the business each day, and they certainly didn't want to close up alone. They were too spooked.

One of my (surprise) jobs as the new administrative assistant was to sweep the adobe and keep it as clean as possible. I would sweep the whole place every day. I would spray spring water to settle the dust, too. I used beeswax to seal the deep ledges by the windows. I secretly sprayed Bug Stop across the front threshold, and outside the locked doors of the back. The boss didn't believe in using chemicals but I didn't believe in having cockroaches run over my feet and gallop happily across my desk.

When I first got there, no one had swept that adobe in years. It was horrible. It took literal shoveling of dirt and dumping dustpan after dustpan of it into a bucket, then hauling it out, to even get it sweepable. MILLENIALS. What can I say? The young lady business owner always was blowing her nose and miserable, without the sense to think, "Maybe it's the DUST!" Instead, she thought it was PROBABLY MY SOAP OR PERFUME, although her allergic reaction predated me exactly the number of years she had rented the adobe. 

Those millenials never touched the broom, or the mop. Or a dustrag, or a sponge. Or, evidently, shampoo.

I kept feeling very, very uneasy when I would sweep up to that back entrance area. I felt such an angry presence there, and this is before they confessed their fears about the place. I felt eyes looking at me. I had to be careful, because something would give me a little shove if I had my back to the cells. At first, I thought I must be catching the toe of a flip-flop on the uneven bricks, and started to be really careful and walk like a duck, but no, it was a shove! 

This kept happening, day after day. "You have a ghost. And your ghost is mad," I told my boss, who didn't want to hear it. 

"Don't say that! Don't talk about it!" And then they couldn't STOP talking about it. Oh, to be young again! How strange it was to realize I was certainly a grandmotherly figure to them. They were clearly relieved to find someone else could "feel" the strangeness.

One day not long after, I saw someone inside one of the locked cells, a movement behind the rotted curtains. I tried to look in, and then used the broom handle to push the curtain in and look around as much as I could. It was so dark -- no lighting in those rooms and just tiny, block-sized barred windows. But I could feel a presence. A female presence. 

The next day, I saw someone again. And I heard a "Chhhuh!" and three snaps of the fingers, like someone exasperated. 

The day after, my broom wasn't in its place. Those millenials said they had not moved my broom. I believe it. They wouldn't know which end to grab. I walked around searching for it and found it leaning against the inner back foyer doors. I thought, "My memory is getting weird" and went about my sweeping.

I made a point to put the broom up in its place. I NEVER leave a broom bristles down on the floor.

Next morning, broom is again leaning on the back doors. Bristles down. The ghost had no housekeeping sense. And I heard the fingers snapping again. I looked into the cell, and I could see a young woman, wearing a long bunched-up dark skirt and a very fancy colorful Chinese-looking shawl with long fringe almost touching the filthy floor. The colors must have been practically neon, because I could see them in the gloom. Every inch of her stance said, "I am exasperated." What a haughty ghost! She looked like living glass, is the best way I can put it. She held one hand out, palm towards the broom. So disdainful! As if to say, "Get busy, Grandma." And disappeared before my eyes.

And then I knew! She wanted me to clean those rooms! 

I marched over to my boss and said, "We got to get those doors open back there. Your ghost has had it. She wants those rooms cleaned up and I don't blame her."

There was a little broken-down papier-mache-like box, and it was filled with keys. Everything in that building was GRUBBY. I tried so many keys in that box and finally found the ones that opened the iron doors. At last!

I cleaned, and I cleaned. I could feel her eyes on me. "Mother-in-Law" eyes in a young ghost: so critical. I cleaned that day, and then the next Monday I kept cleaning, including the windows of the back outer doors. For a ghost, yes, "I will do windows."

There were so many pieces of broken tumbleweeds in that back foyer. They must have equalled 30 tumbleweeds, had they been reconstituted. Tumbleweeds make me itch very badly, but I wasn't going to stop. 

After I was finished, I didn't get a thanks from human nor spirit. I never saw or felt the ghost again, and I don't know her connection to the building, but I felt she was connected to the jail somehow. Maybe she had had a loved one incarcerated in there and maybe his spirit was still there, still imprisoned, and she didn't want him in all that debris. The owner's allergies cleared up greatly and no one felt a ghostly presence anymore, although the building still feels dark to me. 

COVID killed that job, so that's the last I've been in that building. It may be that God sent me that experience because working there wasn't good for me, and I needed to look elsewhere for work. Maybe it was to humble me and tame my pride, a lesson I have to learn FREQUENTLY and am kindly taught again and again.

Sorry this story was not scary. I do have some scary ones from the more distant past, but always a lesson from Above in them.

I had better put this disclaimer in lest someone be frightened: In that cell, there were several old fly-specked "sidelights" that go on the side of a door frame, propped up against the wall. And, across the 1-lane street from the old adobe was another old adobe with lots of Mexican clothes and SHAWLS and dress forms out front...and you could see a corner of the front of the yard from the back entrance -- so, what did I see? A ghostly apparition wanting cleaning, or the reflection of some wares? Or BOTH?! It was a CLOUDY day, rare here! WoooOOOOoooo Happy Halloween!

Let me know if you've ever felt a strange portent or had a strange happening! 

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Quick "BOO" Banner for You, A Treat, Not A Trick!

Hi friends. Just a quick post, to put up a little Hallowe'en Boo Banner.

free halloween printable boo banner 
So, here is a little free BOO banner you can print out. As always, use the link below, not the photo above. The bloggie file is shrunk by Google and won't print correctly. But Google lets the linked file be the right size when it is stored in Google Drive.

Google Drive LINK <Click this!

I have had a bad reaction to the COVID booster. So, I am slow to get around to the blogs, BOO! It's really hard to find information about bad reactions, really bad reactions. Our world is very weird lately. Where did I put my tinfoil hat?! But no, really, something isn't right in terms of information being pulled between the political forces. Talk about BOO! BOO POLITICS!

I can't believe how close Halloween is.

NOTE: Added this morning. I had J&J first months ago. It went kaput. So, I took Moderna. I had one of those weird reactions. Arm got big and nasty blisters all around it and very hot. Felt horrible all over and had a fever. Doc said to ice and compress my arm, take Tylenols, take Benadryl (itches horribly), rest. I am better this morning! Evidently if your immune system goes crazy, that's good? Who knows!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame




Sunday, October 24, 2021

Falling for Pumpkins

Well, my bloggie frens, I kind of went over my budget and my minimalist idea to get just a single pumpkin this year. I actually have five of them, ranging in size from (and these are the scientific terms for punkin sizes, or as punkins are termed in pig Latin, "unkinpays"): Teenincy to small. 

The teeniest are actually not punkins, nor pumpkins. They are a gourd, but everyone thinks they are pumpkins. I'm not going to tell them they are not pumpkins! Who would have the heart? 

gourds and pumpkins with lighted candle

So I have two tiny pumpkins - ahem - one little pumpkin, and two small pie pumpkins (not shown) destined to be baked up into dog treats. 

Where did the three smallest ones come from? Were they a gift? Yes, I gave them to myself. They came from the agricultural students' test gardens. I went back over there. They came from the MUD in the test garden. I could feel them under my flip flops. I went foot-fishing for gourds.

You know you live in the desert have "dress" flip flops, and "regular" flip flops. Thank goodness I didn't have my fanciest flip flops on! Please excuse the state of my feet; I have no excuse except to say the desert is hard on the feet.

flip flops in the desert

Shown: Fancy flip flops, suitable for interviews. These are pretty rare in that both glitter AND fake fur are present.
The entire test garden is now knocked down and plowed under! All the pretty corn plants and the tomatoes that had so many ripe fruits! Oh, those silly students! I wish I had gotten a corn stalk when I had the chance. Grrr. Only the itty-bittyest of the pumpkins-slash-gourds escaped the tractor. Sounds like a horror movie for vegetables: The Day the Tractor Came.

It really was a bit horrifying, because once I got home and set the purloined pumpkin on the mantel, FIVE BIG ANTS came out of a hole in the stem. I screamed, forgetting the size differential between myself and the ants. 

I have been unable to locate the ant family.

Later, we drove by the Sprouts natural food market, because they have the strangest pumpkins in town. [Author's note: Is anyone still reading this? ha ha] They were a bit out of my budget, but the pie pumpkins were not. I have not altered the colors in the photo of one of their big cardboard boxes of pumpkins. Such strange pumpkins! 

blue yellow orange white pink pumpkins

And the flesh-colored ones didn't even look real. They looked like styrofoam or plastic! Very odd. 

strange flat cinderella type pumpkins flesh colored

When I used to drive my husband around, he would get out with me and go look at something. Then, he began getting out maybe every other stop. Then, he stopped getting out most rides. Now, he almost never gets out. The doctors are finally trying to find out why he's gotten so weak. In the meantime, I got the idea to take photos of things I see, and then he looks on the camera and sees the sights, while we are still parked. 

I showed him the pie pumpkin bin. I took the photo and then went and asked him which to pick, which I thought was really sweet and inclusive of me:

pie pumpkins in box

And he said, "I don't give a BLEEP, get whatever BLEEP pumpkins you want, you ditzy BLEEP. You're the pumpkin maniac, not me."

Aw, did you think it was going to be a heartwarming story? NO! He has to rein me in sometimes, when I try to make life into a low-budget Hallmark Romantic Mystery or what have you.

Continuing our drive, I spotted a sign that said "Pumpkins." I didn't need more pumpkins, but still, the sign did say Pumpkins and the siren song of the pumpkin is difficult to resist. Diagnosis: Punkin Fevah. I followed the road the arrow pointed down -- for miles -- then another little handmade sign -- miles -- and another -- miles -- and another -- miles -- then a really big sign, pointing down an unpaved road!
Someone has a farmstand and a lot of pumpkins, ristras, gourds, and so forth! It was very cute and had a play area for kids. It was in what I'd call a "farming family" compound near the Rio Grande. Just a modest area. I was very surprised when my husband got out of the car and then walked slowly over to me, giving me a $20 to spend. I think he regretted calling me a Ditzy Bleep. No, he didn't regret it. Yippee! I was like a kid with her allowance, and I bought another ristra, this one to go in his room. He was very pleased, and surprised I didn't go for a bleeping pumpkin. But the smell of chiles drying is just incomparable and I know he loves it! It's almost a honey scent.

farmstand with pumpkins gourds
Shown: Bleeping Pumpkins (scientific name, Unkinpays bleepibleeps)

I hope you enjoyed going along with me on my aimless drive (with gas at $4 a gallon) into the World of Pumpkins. 

I hope you have a wonderful week! Many blog friends are having medical problems, or their loved ones are. You are in my prayers.

Kind regards,

Holly, the Olde Dame