Where was waterproof fabric invented?

Clues:  A raincoat is called a mackintosh in Britain.  It rains a lot in Britain.  (Been there.  Experienced that.)  “Mac”-intosh.  (Scottish name.)

Right!  Charles Macintosh of Scotland invented rubberized fabric and first sold the coats in 1824.  Mackintosh (with a k) is the accepted alternate spelling for the coat.  Trust Google to commemorate this with a doodle.



Now that calendars are 50 percent off, Ted and I stopped to buy one on our way home from lunch today.  We selected something with pictures we knew we’d enjoy for a year.  If your calendar tastes run in a different direction than ours, you might want to consider this one before it’s sold out.



It was wonderful to have three of the kids and their families with us for the Christmas weekend.  Jeff’s family arrived for lunch on Friday; Kathy and Annette arrived for lunch on Saturday; and Kari’s family lives only 12-15 minutes away (depending on the traffic lights) and is on call to arrive at any time there’s fun on the schedule.

Naturally, we began the group activities with our time-honored tradition of lunch at Steak ‘n’ Shake.  SnS, based in Cape Girardeau, MO, used to be a small regional chain, and was quickly established as a favorite among our grandchildren.  It was also a favorite stop for Thom and Jeff, who couldn’t get those steakburgers in Colorado or Washington.  SnS has spread out over the years and is now available in a much wider area, but too late–it’s already a family tradition to start a group visit with lunch at SnS.  We must have had a new waitress this time.  La commented that the waitress went pale when we said there would be ten of us for lunch.  I missed her lack of facial coloring, but saw that she froze for a few seconds while processing that number.

Here we are at Steak 'n' Shake, with our menus at the ready, pondering which flavor shake to order.

Here we are at Steak ‘n’ Shake, with our menus at the ready, pondering which flavor shake to order.

Tedd;y has what he wants: the double chocolate brownie shake.

Teddy has what he wants:  the double chocolate brownie shake.

Another tradition of our family get-togethers is board games.  Some of us (Jeff and Kyra) are board-game-aholics; others of us, not so much.  Jeff usually has a new game the rest of us haven’t heard of, and it’s always something we enjoy while we play it together.  This year included a remarkable Michigan Rummy game.  The king/queen of hearts combination struck three times for payoffs (twice for Kyra and once for Ted) and the even more rarely played 6-7-8 combo struck twice–Ted hit it early in the game, and I won it on the last round.  By then, the container we use to hold all the chips on that spot was full to the top, making me the big winner with that single pot.

Jeff shows us his obligatory goofy photo face during a round of King of Tokyo, a new game for this visit.

After all these years of hosting family get-togethers with so many people eating with us every day for several days, I’ve become pretty good at finding recipes I can prepare ahead.  Then I only have to put them in the oven or the crock pot when it’s mealtime, minimizing my cooking time and maximizing my visiting time with the family.  Of course, I always have offers of help from everyone and they take turns helping with food prep, serving, and doing the dishes.  This year, Jeff and La’s family completely took over a Christmas brunch (prep, cooking, and dishes), and Kathy and Annette did the same for the Monday lunch.  Kari dedicated herself to helping me with all the evening dinners, and I felt like we had a well-oiled system, leaving all of us well-fed with plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company.

Of course, the highlight of Christmas weekend is the gift-opening.  It takes a long time for everyone to open gifts one at a time and then to show them to the group.  One or more of us sometimes gives the same gift to everyone, and we quickly begin to see a pattern after the first two people open an identical gift from the same family.  This year we tried opening gifts by family and it worked very well.  We all opened the things we got from Jeff’s family and showed them to everyone; then the gifts from another family; and so on.

The gifts are packed tightly under the tree and extend behind the tree on both sides.

The gifts are packed tightly under the tree and extend behind the tree on both sides.

Zack was thrilled with the gaming headphone and the gaming keyboard. He can now be a gaming superstar.

Zack was excited about receiving gaming headphones and a gaming keyboard.  He can now be a gaming superstar.

Aunt Kathy and Annette scored a hit with Star Wars caps for Dylan, Teddy, and Sky.

Teddy loves pigs and the big hit for him was two new pigs. Kari texted a photo of him sleeping with the big pig after her family went home. Notice the pig likes Teddy's new cap too.

Teddy loves pigs and was thrilled with his two new pigs.  Kari texted us a photo of him sleeping with the big pig after her family went home on Christmas Day.  Notice that the pig likes Teddy’s Star Wars cap too.

Dylan won the figurative gift presentation award and a literal round of applause when he described the gifts he had received.  I don’t remember which gifts he was describing, but it went like this:  “I got a (this) and a (that) and a (something else),” he began.  Then, holding up something in his hand, he finished with, “And I lost a tooth.”

Dylan with one less tooth than he had a few minutes ago.

Dylan with one less tooth than he had a few minutes ago.

We missed having Alex with us, but Christmas is one of the days he is able to call home.  Jeff’s family generously allowed all of us to share in the Google Hangouts conversation with Alex for about an hour.  It was fun to see him and to hear more details about his life than he is able to write in his weekly emails.  After a year, he is fluent in Spanish (except for a few fine points, he said) and we all got a kick out of the fact that his English now frequently includes a Spanish speech rhythm as well as a few Spanish-accented English words.

Sharing Christmas with Alex on a Google Hangouts video call.

Sharing Christmas with Alex on a Google Hangouts video call.

Now the Christmas family gathering is over.  Kathy and Annette left Monday afternoon and Jeff’s family left this morning.  Thom, Katie, and Julian were not able to join us, as Katie’s due date is January 2.  We talked to them by phone and are looking forward to getting a call from them very soon, letting us know if we’ll be meeting our seventh grandson or our second granddaughter when we go to visit them the first weekend of February.

Our still-growing family. Picture Thom, Katie, Julian and (?) with us.

Our still-growing family.  Picture Thom, Katie, Julian, and (?) with us.

Tonight, we completed our final pre-Christmas ritual:  we attended the Bach Society’s Candlelight Concert at Powell Hall.

All dressed up with someplace special to go

All dressed up with someplace special to go

This concert is the most popular Christmas concert in the St. Louis area and has been a tradition since 1951.  The concert includes the Bach Society orchestra and a 55-voice chorus.  It is beautiful, special, and inspiring.  This year, the highlighted musical selection was the Magnificat, Mary’s response to the news that she would be the mother of the Christ Child.  The orchestra director pointed out that it would be more appropriate to play this in March but, over the years, it has become associated with Christmas and the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

Powell Hall lobby decorated for Christmas

Powell Hall lobby decorated for Christmas

Powell Hall stage with orchestra and chorus getting ready to perform

Powell Hall stage with orchestra and chorus getting ready to perform

The second half of the program is comprised of well-known religious Christmas carols.  The stage lights dim and the chorus–each member holding a candle–enters the darkened auditorium from the back and walks down the aisles and around the seating sections of the auditorium until they have encircled the audience.  They sing all the while, so the music is all around us.  The adult chorus exits through the rear doors and the youth chorus (high school age kids) comes onstage in red robes, sings several carols, and exits.  Then the audience sings two carols with the accompaniment of the orchestra.  For the closing performance selection, both choruses enter from the rear and walk down all the aisles as they sing and re-group in a single line (150+ choristers) beginning on the stage and extending down along the outer walls of the auditorium.

The final carol of the evening, sung by the choristers and the audience, is Silent Night, during which both choruses walk into the aisles and again, surround the audience with music and candlelight.  When they finish Silent Night, the concert is over and the chorus members are in the auditorium.  They greet concert attendees as the attendees leave their seats and wish them a merry Christmas.  It’s a beautiful evening and puts us in the holiday spirit.

Just like Mary, we now anticipate the birth of the Christ Child.  Let Christmas begin (and end) with peace in our hearts.

May the peace of the Lord be with you.

May the peace of the Lord be with you.

In a previous post I mentioned a literary character whose outlook on winter and spring matches mine.  By March, the fictional character was rationalizing that “it’s practically summer.”  The winter solstice is over and, beginning today, the days are getting longer.  For me, it’s practically spring.

P.S.  I ignore Ted if he dares to mention that the coldest months of winter are still to come.  That doesn’t matter.

Think spring!


Gasoline tanks unearthed from the QT next door to the old Paul’s Donuts shop (also demolished).


Contradiction?  The small sign attached to the fence says “Danger–Hard Hat Area.”

All the holiday preparations in addition to our normal activities made yesterday a long day at the end of a long week.  I spent far too much time figuring out how to make my Christmas letter idea work.  By the time the light bulb came on with the simple solution, hours had passed and I knew the letter’s text by heart–a situation that has a negative effect on proofreading.

Ted and I finished the Christmas cards and letters job and had everything ready to mail when I decided to enjoy the letter and read it once more, just for pleasure.  And that’s when I saw the typo and knew we had to re-print and re-stuff all the letters.


Today we went out for lunch to celebrate Ted’s birthday.  The venue was an easy choice, since he had a birthday coupon for a free lunch entreé.  It’s December, so it’s cold and there’s a very light drizzle that’s icing a little bit on the hard surfaces, but the food was warm and good and our hearts were warm and sunny.


Yesterday, Ted watched Teddy, who wasn’t feeling well enough to go to school.  While they were sitting in the living room and petting the new cat, eight-year-old Teddy blurted out, “I just don’t get the Big Bang.  I mean, what started it?”

Since the scientific community has not yet definitively figured that out, maybe Teddy will be the one to do it.

In a previous post, I mentioned that they breed Packer fans in Wisconsin.  Today, my cousin proved my point when he posted a picture of his new granddaughter on Facebook.

Barely a month old and already dressed in Packer green and gold from head to toes.

Eleven weeks old and dressed in Packer green and gold from head to toes.

I rarely check my newspaper horoscope, but Ted solved the Sudoku puzzle and left the open page on the counter today.  Imagine my surprise when I saw I was going to have a five-star day filled with “wild scenarios” and will need to go with more of my “flights of fancy.”


In Spring 1967, when I was in college, I bought a four-year-old sewing machine, including the cabinet, for $100 and have been using it ever since.  I’ve often thought of replacing my sewing machine, but I don’t sew nearly as much as I used to, so I couldn’t justify the cost.

Two weeks ago, I was altering a pair of trousers and reached my limit.  Fabrics have evolved a great deal since 1967, and my 53-year-old machine left me extremely dissatisfied with my results.  I told Ted it felt like asking him to make a weather forecast for this weekend using only the tools he had in the 1970s when a three-day forecast was a new idea–it can be done, but not without challenges and the certainty that you could have done much better using today’s updated models and tools.  I decided the time had come for a new sewing machine.

I thought, researched, and shopped, and today I took the plunge and bought a new sewing machine and a serger, with the option to buy a cover stitch machine at a later date if I decide I need one.  I’m betting the new machines will make the remainder of my trouser alteration project easier and will produce better results.

My trusty 52-year-old sewing machine. It never needed a repair.

My trusty 53-year-old sewing machine.  It never needed a repair.

Yes, it is billed as "the greatest sewing machine ever built." I can't disagree.

From my old machine’s instruction manual.  Notice that it is billed as “the greatest sewing machine ever built.”  I can’t disagree.Sewing machine on the left; its case in the back; serger on the right.

My new sewing machine on the left; its case in the back; the serger on the right.And my old one could bring $450 on eBay. Yes, I have all those original pieces.

It looks like my old $100 sewing machine could bring $425 on eBay.  Yes, I have all those original pieces.

Last night, we were able to attend Teddy’s school Christmas concert.  They always have such cute songs in the elementary school programs that I thoroughly enjoy the concerts.

This year, the story line was about a dog who wanted to sing with the choir, but could only howl out of tune.  The other choir members didn’t want the dog in the group, until one of them thought of the perfect songs they could sing so that everyone (even the dog) could be a part of the Christmas spirit.

It was a happy ending to the story–except for Teddy, who thought there should have been some cookies for all those weeks of practicing the songs.


Teddy is on the left, at two o’clock, above the head of the lady in the bright blue shirt.

Our favorite elf.

Our favorite elf.

It’s starting to seem very real that John and I will be going to India eight weeks and two days from now (February 9-18).  I got my typhoid and hepatitis A shots this morning and the prescription for my malaria prevention medication will be called out later today.

I’m not much of a shopper.  I like to have a list of what I’m going to buy; go directly to the store, aisle, and shelf where it’s located; make my selection; and leave.  A friend of mine once told me that when she enters a store, the merchandise whispers “Buy me, buy me” to her.  I told her that when I enter a store, the voices tell me “Go home.  You don’t belong here.”

That said, Ted and I went Christmas shopping on Main Street in the Historic District of St. Charles over the weekend.  We were very successful in our shopping, which probably took an hour or so, and then we spent over three hours walking around and enjoying all the holiday activities offered in this pretty, historic, 16-block business district, with its specialty shops and restaurants.

The Historic District dates back to the 1600s and is a year-round tourist destination.  Over the holidays, however, it’s an exceptionally special and unique place to visit.  The afternoon begins with a parade of all the performing period characters and groups.  There are Santas (or versions thereof) dressed to represent international personas of him from many countries, and historic characters in period dress.  The Santas and historic characters walk the sidewalks all afternoon and mingle with the shoppers, telling stories about who and what they represent.  Carolers perform at the Main Street gazebo as a group, and in trios and quartets as they walk around the District, also in historic dress.  A drum and fife corps regularly marches and plays its way up and down Main Street.  Restaurants and kiosks offer hot chocolate and freshly-baked cookies in a $2.00 combo, and the mood of the shoppers–and shopkeepers–is genial, not harassed.

On December 24, the final parade (led by Santa and the Mrs.) goes to the bandstand on the riverfront (the block behind Main Street) and wishes all those gathered a merry Christmas.  At the close of the short ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Claus get into their sleigh and head home so Santa can begin delivering gifts.

I took pictures as we shopped and wandered and, when we got home, Ted and I agreed that shopping at the mall was fine, but shopping on Main Street was fun.

The carolers singing beside the sidewalk.

Some of the carolers singing beside the sidewalk.

Father Christmas (English) told us that in England, "merry" means "drunk," so it is more polite to wish people a "happy Christmas."

Father Christmas (English) told us that in England, “merry” means “drunk”; therefore, in England, it is more appropriate to wish people a “happy Christmas.”The jester appropriately posed for me when he saw my camera.

The jester struck a pose for me when he saw my camera.Here comes the drum and fife corps.

Here comes the drum and fife corps.This might be a modern Santa. I don't think it's a "period" motorcycle. Notice the trimmings on the shops in the background. The whole street is decorated like this.

This might be a modern Santa.  I’m quite sure this is not a “period” motorcycle.  Notice the trimmings on the shops in the background.  The entire district is decorated like this.Just as the shops are closing, there's a final choral performance by the period characters at the Main Street gazebo.

Just as the shops were closing, there was a final choral performance by the historic characters at the Main Street gazebo.As it got dark, the holiday lights came on.

As it got dark, the holiday lights came on.Some of the decorated trees along the Missouri riverfront.

These are some of the decorated trees in Frontier Park along the Missouri Riverfront, just behind the Main Street shops.

Today, to “be the light,” Ted and I helped two ladies with their walkers.  As we left the building, they were getting out of their van in a handicapped parking space and I could hear the lady nearest to me huffing and puffing as she very slowly worked her way back from the car door to the open trunk, holding onto her van for support.  I asked if I could help–just as another woman in the same condition appeared on the other side of the van.

The ladies gratefully accepted the offer of help and I got the walkers out of the trunk, opened them up, and put them in a ready-to-go position for each lady.  While I did this in the 20-degree weather, Ted helped Lady #2 put on her much-needed coat, which was also a struggle for her.

When everything was ready to go and the van was all locked up, both ladies thanked us profusely.  They were so appreciative of our small service of a few minutes that one said, “You’ve done your good deed for the whole year.”

This is something Ted and I would have done anyway–with or without Jeff’s “light the world” project–because that’s what our parents taught us to do.  I find this to be true of the kindnesses I’ve done this week as part of our family challenge.  Every act has been something I would have done anyway.  The difference this month is that, instead of doing these small things as they occur in my life, I’m making a greater effort to find someone every day who needs an act of kindness.  That’s definitely a positive thing.

Last night, we had our second meeting of the docs–Dr. Polineni, Dr. John, and Dr. Me–to iron out some details for training Dr. P.’s teachers in India.  It was a very positive and fruitful meeting and we are all feeling good about the upcoming trainings.

At our first group meeting several months ago, Dr. P. told John and me that the schools in India (with only a handful of exceptions) have been teaching by memorization since the 1980s.  The basic method of instruction is for the teachers to write the lesson material on the board and for the students to copy that material, memorize it, and spit it back word-for-word on the test.  The graduates of this instructional method, Dr. P. said, are about 90 percent what he called “technicians”–people who can follow the steps that result in a product.  Classroom discussion, questioning, and elaboration are not part of the curriculum, and creative and innovative thinking are not taught or fostered.

What Dr. P. wants John and me to do is guide the instructors in his school to develop an interactive teaching style that will foster creative thinking.  One of my graduate textbooks by K. Patricia Cross includes the observation that “Teaching without learning is just talking.”  If the teachers in Dr. P.’s school are just talking, John and I have some serious training to do.  We choose to accept this mission.

The major results of last night’s meeting are:  We will be leaving for India February 9; I have scheduled my necessary inoculations for next week Tuesday; Dr. P. is going to reserve our airline tickets; and Dr. P. is checking on what we need for multiple-entry visas, since we will be doing follow-up trainings several months apart.  John and I, meanwhile, continue to prepare our training materials.

This is all starting to feel very real and I’m getting very excited.  Nine weeks to India and counting.  What an adventure!

Jeff’s church has launched a campaign to “Light the World.”  The initiative encourages people everywhere to do service for others and to “be a light” to them.  Jeff challenged our entire family to find ways to “light the world” this month, and we have all accepted the challenge.  Here are things we’ve already shared that we did yesterday:

–Jeff left a note on the front door of his office building that said “You are awesome.”

–Kathy fed stray cats.

–Thom helped a “wrong number” caller find the right number.

–Kari helped a fourth grade girl look for a lost-on-the-playground hair tie her grandma had made for her.

–Ted and I made an anonymous scholarship contribution to the community college.

I have always enjoyed performing random acts of kindness, but Jeff’s challenge will encourage all of us to make a special effort to be kind and helpful to others in the coming days.  The challenge continues, as I encourage anyone reading this to “light the world” a little bit every day this month and afterward.

I was shopping on November 26 and found two long-sleeved shirts I liked.  Unfortunately, the store did not have them in my size, but was willing to send them to my home via free shipping.  I was told they have to say it will take 7-9 business days, but it usually arrives much sooner.  My past experience has shown this to be true.  Except this time.

I tracked my package and saw that the package was at the FedEx location in Groveport, Ohio on November 28 and arrived in Earth City, MO via Champaign, IL on November 29–a distance of 441 miles in about 14.5 hours.  It left the Earth City location November 30, and my tracking record showed an expected delivery date from the Post Office on December 1.  On December 2, Ted and I were near the local FedEx store (across the street from the St. Peters Post Office), so we stopped in to ask what was taking so long to get a package from Earth City to the St. Peters Post Office–a distance of 12.6 miles, according to Google Maps.  The lady told me it was probably put in the wrong place on the truck and she’d have the driver look for it.

I was still waiting for the package on December 5, so I called FedEx Customer Service to see what was taking so long to get the package from Earth City to St. Peters.  (Note that I remained very polite throughout the following telephone conversation.)

The FedEx customer service lady told me that if the tracking record says my package is in transit, it is on a truck, but since my shipper only paid for 7-9 day delivery, I shouldn’t expect it for 7-9 business days.  I pointed out that if this is true, my package had already spent 4-5 business days on the truck (does FedEx do 7-9 day deliveries on Saturdays?), and that it seemed like a long time to drive it 12.6 miles, when I could have walked the distance in less than a day.  I asked if it might have been put on the wrong truck or in an incorrect place on the right truck, and I was told again that since my shipper only paid for 7-9 day delivery, it would take 7-9 business days for my package to arrive.  I asked if the driver was just going to leave my package on the truck until the 7-9 days were up, and if so, wouldn’t it make more business sense for FedEx to fill the truck with one-day deliveries than to use the gas to drive my package around for a week instead of unloading it?  I was told that since my shipper only paid for 7-9 day delivery . . . (you get the drift).

Today, 8 business days later (if Saturday is a FedEx business day), using 6 business days to travel the final 12.6 miles, my package arrived–right on schedule.


You bet! Only six business days to drive my package 12.6 miles.

Two long-sleeved shirts for me.

Two long-sleeved shirts, safely (and slowly) delivered.

Over a year ago, while we were sitting around at Thom’s house during his wedding weekend, Kari told me she thought it would be fun to have date nights with Dean.  I immediately offered to babysit any time.  Well, only fourteen months later, they finally asked us to babysit the boys.  Beam was hosting a company dinner, and Kari and Dean wanted to attend the event.  Ted and I assumed we would babysit at Kari and Dean’s house; Kari and Dean assumed we would babysit at our house.  At least the location issue came up in conversation so we could clarify that before zero hour.

We picked the boys up and gave them the option of choosing where they wanted to eat dinner.  Guess what they picked.

Teddy marks the spot.

Teddy marks the spot.

Of course, everyone ordered a shake and the boys ordered their regular menu item:  chicken fingers.  Yummy!  It’s questionable whether Sky and Dylan had more chicken or more ketchup on the chicken.  Whatever.  They definitely enjoyed the meal.  (And ours was not the table that spilled a liquid beverage over three people and a large floor area, requiring a major clean-up by the SnS crew.)

All the tables were full, so we crowded into a booth.

All the tables were full, so we crowded into a booth.  Teddy got all the SnS hats.

After we finished eating, we came home, Ted lit a fire in the fireplace, and we watched Home Alone and The Polar Express–both perennial favorites for all of us.  Of course, movies require popcorn, and salty popcorn likes to be followed with cold and creamy ice cream, so we broke out the food between movies.

Watching "Home Alone." Note that Ted and Sky like to sit with an arm behind their heads.

Watching “Home Alone.”  Note that Ted and Sky like to sit with their arms behind their heads.  Each of them also has a foot pillow.

With dinner and a double feature, it got to be a late night.  Shortly after 10:00, Kari and Dean arrived to pick up the boys.  The Polar Express still had 30-40 minutes to go so I offered to send the DVD home with the kids, but the majority vote was to finish the movie and sleep later in the morning.

What an enjoyable night!  I hope Kari and Dean want more date nights soon.

Who doesn’t love reading the Grammarly blog (http://www.grammarly.com/blog)?  Really?  Not everyone?  Well, no matter.  Fortunately, I read it regularly and can share grammar wisdom with my handful of readers.

Today, I learned about eggcorns–words that sound similar to and have a meaning that sort of works in place of the original word.  (Who knew there was a real word for errors like this?  Thanks to Grammarly, now we do.)  The term eggcorn appeared in an article by a linguist in September 2003 and described the case of a woman who used the word eggcorn instead of acorn.  To qualify as an eggcorn, the substituted sound must preserve at least some sense of the original word.  Eggcorn appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2010 and Merriam-Webster recognized it in 2015.

Lip singing is an example of an eggcorn.  Lip singing involves people moving their lips as if they were singing, and sounds a lot like lip syncing, the original word.  Another example is old timer’s disease which sounds like Alzheimer’s disease and mostly affects the elderly.  Eardropping means that you are listening in on someone else’s conversation, much like eavesdropping.  A self-refilling prophecy not only fulfills itself, but apparently does so repeatedly.

There are some other types of errors that don’t count as eggcorns.  One is the mondegreen, which is similar to an eggcorn, but misconstrues the lyrics to a song or other type of performance, such as “Hang on, Snoopy (Sloopy)” by the McCoys.  Listeners (me) of Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival might hear “There’s a bathroom on the right” for the line “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”  (Again, who knew there was a real word for this?)  Another type of error is the malapropism, which features a similar substitution of sounds, but results in a word or phrase that doesn’t make sense within the context.  “Illiterate (obliterate) him from your memory” and “comprehending (apprehending) criminals” are malapropisms.

Tonight, I heard an eggcorn in actual usage when the TV newscaster unwittingly referred to the students’ after-curricular activities, rather than using the original term, extra-curricular activities.  My all-time favorite eggcorn, however, is a word Kari used when she was about five years old:  rememory.  It’s so good, I sometimes deliberately use it when I have a rememory.  I personally think rememory is an excellent word, and I’d put it on an advanced eggcorn level because it uses similar sounds of two related words to make a combined meaning of remembering a memory.  Go, Kari.  You rock!

November 29 was the 184th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s birth.  Google celebrated with a Google doodle.


That’s Beth at the piano, Jo running with books, blonde-haired Amy painting, Meg embroidering, and Laurie, the neighbor boy who marries Amy.   I think the picture on the wall is Louisa May Alcott.  Can you find “Google” in the doodle?

Seeing the Google doodle made me want to re-read Little Women, one of my favorite books.  I usually re-read it every one or two years.  I have two copies of the book:  one was my mother’s, and one was a gift from my brother Tom.  Given the appearance of my mother’s handwriting, she might have received her copy of the book at about the same age Tom gave me my copy.

Little Women was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869.  Both of my copies include the entire story in a single volume.  Interestingly, neither copy includes a copyright date.  This could be because Louisa May Alcott never copyrighted the book, or because any book published before 1923 is in the public domain.

The blue book was my mother's; the top one is mine.

The blue book was my mother’s; the top one is mine.

Both copies marked by their owners.

Both copies marked by their owners.

Wednesday evening we drove to the Lake of the Ozarks to celebrate Ted’s birthday with dinner at Bentley’s.  We wanted to avoid the Christmas rush, and Bentley’s is closed all of January, so we opted for an early celebration.

The day was dry, but cloudy.  Just like Monday, however, we experienced the “sunny by dark” effect and enjoyed a brief late fall sunset.  It was only a few minutes before sunset that the sun starting shining on the clouds and turning them red.


The dinner, as always, was wonderful.  Merrill, our favorite waiter, knows our order by heart:  grilled salmon for Ted (the best salmon he’s ever had, according to him) and pepper steak with red wine sauce for me (the only place I’ve ever had such good pepper steak).  Add a glass of wine for each of us and, for dessert, “The Thing” for Ted and a grasshopper for me.  “The Thing” is a generous serving of ice cream with hard shell chocolate, nuts, strawberries, and whipped cream.  Ted loves it.  The grasshopper is thick enough to eat with a spoon, but I use the straw.  It takes a long time with the straw, but gives us more time to enjoy the ambience and dining experience at Bentley’s.

Next visit to Bentley’s:  my birthday.