Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays from Chateau Sutton-Goar

Happy Holidays from Château Sutton-Goar!

2016 marked our 10th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated by buying new rings. While it was tempting to do the traditional tin/aluminum, we thought they might be more meaningful if they DIDN'T come out of a gumball machine (if they still have those). It also shamed me into sorting through more of the garage in case any of those remaining boxes were ALSO celebrating a 10th anniversary, though I'm not sure what a box buys to celebrate. New packing tape?

While “done” with physical therapy seems to be something I'm never going to really ever achieve, my hip/back does continue to improve, and we were able to go cross-country skiing this year, which was very exciting. Even bigger news—I was able to go back to work for most of the year. For about 7 months, I worked as the store manager at Dunkley Music's Nampa store, which was fun—except maybe for what is known as “rental season,” which is a three-week period that is the source of all nightmares for music store employees. Music retail is a bit weird. During my first week, I had a lady call me on the phone, play her violin into the phone, and ask me if it was in tune or not. Then there were the steady stream of people with musical “treasures” they had gotten a great “deal” on through Craigslist or via Amazon. Luckily, I own a thesaurus and know a lot of synonyms for “junk.” It is interesting to see how determined people are to believe in something they want to believe, even if it means a bright green trumpet or a plastic violin. I had to eventually leave because working Saturdays and later into the evenings really didn't work out for us, but it's exciting to know I can cope with a work schedule (okay, with help from my physical therapist), and hope to find a Monday-Friday non-retail job in 2017.

Since I worked most Saturdays, Andy did all the traveling this year—camping and motorcycle trips both solo and with friends, visiting Trinity Lakes, eastern Oregon, and the Sawtooth Mountains. He got some new lenses for his camera, and has been out exploring with them. He also visited his parents in southern California for a week and had the decency not to gloat about any of it. Not to be outdone, I did add a new level of uncertainty to his vacations by landing in the emergency room during one of them after losing a tussle with a wine glass stem while washing the dishes, requiring 7 stitches and some emergency follow-up when a nurse opted to cut off the circulation in my hand with her bandaging. I don't believe he has any of our friends checking on me while he's out of town—I think they're doing it on their own. Can't say I blame them.

We didn't attempt much of a garden this year, which was just as well. We did end up with a large crop of voles, and at least a few of the ones that ended up in the house were dead. Most. I didn't even get our garlic planted for next year, but as there's some that went wild a couple years ago, I think we'll still probably have fresh garlic for next year. And lots and lots of lemon balm, which I didn't know was in the mint family until AFTER I planted it. Sure, the mint family has choked off pretty much all the other plants in the herb garden, but that part of the yard DOES smell fantastic, so there's that.

Since I sew and knit, I decided 2016 was a good time for a challenge called Me-Made-Mondays. It's also been done as Me-Made-May, but that's a bit more challenging for someone with a lot of wool socks and sweaters. It truly made for inventive Mondays, and it turns out that if there is appropriate work attire that works with funky hand-knitted socks in screaming colors with pompoms, I don't own it. Andy's woodworking year was dominated by 2016 being his turn to make Christmas gifts. We always get great ideas from the Idaho Artistry in Wood show in February, though by October there's usually a shift into “realism” and simplified (can be finished by Christmas) projects. Deadlines are marvelous for that. Sort of like with holiday letters..........:)

Things I learned this year:
  • There is no “five second rule” when it comes to a hot iron landing on carpet.
  • Until you are married to an engineer, you cannot understand the importance of Star Trek stamps
  • Taking a break from gardening isn't really conceding to the squash bugs. It's just a temporary tactical retreat that gives one a break from zucchini
  • I should not have complained about having to medicate a cat with stress issues. Now I'm medicating a stressed-out cat on a diet.
  • You'll never know when adulthood will sneak up on you. I was watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie when I found myself thinking, “You know, I'll bet they really could have just immediately landed that helicopter and avoided that whole crisis.” Because realism IS what matters most in movies with flying men.
  • After working in it for 7 months, it will amaze me forever that those who work in retail AREN'T among the highest for alcohol abuse or mental breakdowns.
  • When we finally replace the upstairs carpet, I'm picking something that closely blends with cat barf stains.
  • The best thing in a music store is the electronic drum set with head phones. The worst is a real drum set.
  • In case you were wondering, it takes about 10 days of working in a music store before you learn to spot middle-aged guys who can't actually play, but want to tell you all about their buddy who owned a Stratocaster or Telecaster guitar. And 11 days to figure out how to outrun them.
  • Judging by the ferocity with which my cat digs up my spring garden, one would think HE was the one forced to eat canned spinach as a child.
  • This year I read the Hunger Games series. Clearly “Young Adult” doesn't mean what I thought it did.
  • People can actually ask music store employees if they carry “that song” by “that guy” with a perfectly straight face.
  • Now the vet thinks both cats have stress issues. I had no idea Andy and I were so hard to live with.
  • Very few things are important if you haven't seen them in 10 years.
  • Even if you haven't done it in many, many years, people will never forget that you CAN raise money for charities—even if you want them to.
  • I'm almost embarrassed by the amount of satisfaction I got when one of those “just under the wire” customers showed up right AFTER I'd locked the store door. Because I was SO wanting to have to stay late without being paid for it.......
  • No matter how much you love your spouse, it's impossible to NOT be relieved when your cat runs into your spouse's closet to throw up and rather than into yours.
  • Having had the rudest interview experience EVER with the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, I have been eagerly scanning the want ads for anyone calling themselves the “Outright Jerks of America.” It could work.
  • When your long-haired cat is waiting in front of an air vent, it might be time to consider turning the heat up just a little.
  • There are no points for starting a holiday letter early—only FINISHING early counts.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a healthy 2017,
Toni & Andy

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's 13 Degrees Right Now

And that is apparently the temperature when one cannot leave a heating pad for even a second:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I'm Back to Work!

Honestly, there have been times during the hip/back struggles that Andy and I both wondered if I'd be able to go back to work, and in fact I will not have the physical strength for outside sales or fund-raising ever again.  BUT I was browsing help wanted ads to try to get ideas of what I might be able to do, and found an ad for a music store manager/sales person.  So, I sent in my resume and 9 days later started at my new job.  :)

So, when one hasn't worked in quite some time (years), it's a big adjustment.  I have been ordering clothes and shoes like a mad woman because I'm too tired at the end of the day to go shopping, and Andy is picking up a lot of the slack--dinner, grocery shopping, etc.  And I'm learning a lot--or trying to.  This week I've been researching whether the music books are from bands I've never heard of, movies I've never heard of, or television shows I've never heard of.  Last week was restringing violins.  Tonight is a "petting zoo" at a local junior high, which to my understanding is a chance for students to find out about the different instruments and see which ones they might be interested in playing. 

Andy has been very relieved that my employee discount has not yet gotten me in any trouble, although this beauty:
might have.  I loved this piano.  Luckily, I sold it 2 days after it arrived in the store, so I have not had to figure out where we would put a SECOND piano in the house........

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

And THIS Is Why I Don't Bake

Sunday we had friends over for dinner, so I decided to make a one-layer cake using a heart cake pan we'd been given but had never used, and when it fell in the oven,
 I remembered why I don't usually bake.  And when I do decide to bake,
it would be best to stick with my usual one-layer stays-in-the-pan sort of cake.  Frosting covers most of my blunders,
but this time even frosting failed to cover my errors. Thankfully, there was wine with dinner, so maybe no one noticed........

Monday, March 7, 2016


I actually DID dig up the garlic last year, but it's obviously the smartass of the plant world:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sharing the Artistry

Today we went to the Idaho Artistry in Wood show today.  Just a fraction of the amazing work:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Let The Gardening Games Begin!

I have planted lettuce, spinach, and kale!
Which is the most excitement kale really ever gets, isn't it?  We've had such warm weather and they're so cold-hardy that I could have put them in a few weeks ago, but it's still early enough that the "old saws" will be lining up to tell me how wrong I am.  Whatever--it works every year, and while we're hearing how I shouldn't do this or that, we're usually harvesting the lettuce that isn't supposed to grow.  Our temperatures are rising drastically every year, and last year our final frost was a full month earlier than average and it's going to be even warmer this year.  I need to get some cleanup done in the greenhouse, and it will be time to get starts going in there--YIKES!  Where does the time go?

Between fungus and scorching temperatures, we're going to cut back on tomatoes this year.  It's just too hot for them unless they get shade, so I'm taking a break from even trying to grow more than one or maybe two.  If I want to can something, I can buy them.  They don't taste as good as a successful tomato harvest, but they taste a lot better than tomatoes that can't fruit because temperatures are over 110 for weeks.  :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day On the Town

While I'm not a fan of Valentine's day, Sundays are fun days to be out and about--especially now that I can be out and about.  We picked up my cousin for lunch, then we all went to a local winery for a wine and chocolate tasting
then burned off the wine and sugar high by browsing thrift stores (charity shops).  I can't tell you why, but this is something the 3 of us just love to do.  We always find fun stuff--toys we used to have, at least one or two things we can't identify, and, of course, always a few useful items.  I was delighted to find this:
which needs to be repainted and is lacking 2 little screws, but will be some wonderful wall-mounted storage in the sewing room.  We also found these,
which are actually really cheap frames but will make a great display of some of Andy's photographs.  And this lovely tray,
 will either have the tarnish removed if I can, and if I can't, will be painted with chalkboard paint and be useful for parties.  Either way, a great deal for $1.99.  All in all, just a really fun day all the way around.  Which sort of makes up for this......
which is as close as my usual sidekick, Theo, is getting to me right now after I took he and Calisto to the vet this morning for their annual shots.   Believe me, I didn't enjoy it either, but at least this year I didn't end up bleeding, so it was a slight improvement.  The vet thinks they BOTH have stress issues now, which I find amazing in animals that sleep 18-hours a day.  I certainly have stress issues because of them, but that doesn't seem to be as much of an issue.....or at least not one that would be cured by their really expensive cat food.  Thank heavens for wine and chocolate, right?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day
which used to be one of my favorite days in grade school.  We'd make boxes or envelopes, pick out Valentines (which luckily didn't promote movies yet), then give them to every single classmate during an afternoon school party.  Mom made us give one to every classmate--even those we didn't actually like--so it was a holiday for everyone.

I've been much less of a fan as an adult.  If you're in a relationship, how valuable is it if your partner gives you flowers because it's expected?  If you're not in a relationship, it's the ultimate boy-do-you-not-fit-in-because-you're-single day of the year.  Well I have a lot of great friends who are wonderful people but not in relationships.  I think we should go back to the way it was in grade school--just a fun day to celebrate with friends.  So to all my friends--single, married, dating, divorced, whatever--Happy Valentine's Day!  Who better to love than one's friends?

Saturday, February 13, 2016


We went snowshoeing today!
and judging by how much the snow changed in just one week, winter is ending early even in the mountains thanks to extremely high temperatures for this time of year--which is our new norm.  I've snowshoed several times in the past, but had never bought snowshoes as I don't like it as well as cross-country skiing, but it DOES make it easier to get off-trail, and our friends have really gotten into it, so I ordered some snowshoes and this was their inaugural run. 

We had taken skis as well, as we were going to do a short loop with skis then switch to snowshoes, but the snow had melted so much and refrozen that it was ICE, and it was just too slick for safe skiing without skins, so it worked out well.  The day was beautiful
and we were able to get into some remoter places.  We even figured out how to take a "selfie" with Andy's new camera:
This week temperatures are supposed to reach a VERY unseasonal 60 degrees, so the days of snow sports are coming to an end, but at least I get to play this year!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Taste Didn't Grow Up

Thanks to our library's app, I can download and listen to audio books on my phone, which is the first thing that's made me really happy about upgrading to a "smartphone."  What makes this setup even better is that I can listen to kid's books without anyone knowing.

Yep, I'm 45 and I listen to children's books.

At first it was just the ones that I thought were "classics" but that I had missed:  Pinnochio, Anne of Green Gables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Then I moved on to the Percy Jackson series that one of our nephews was really into.  Then on to the sequel series.  Now it's anything I can find.

As far as I'm concerned, kids get better stories than adults do.  No horrific violence.  No heaving breasts.  No mid-30s-woman-putting-her-life-back-together-after-divorce-and-inevitably-involving-a-circle-of-girlfriends-(one-of-whom-will-get-cancer).  No heroine standing in front of the mirror and describing her appearance.  No misery-memoirs (fabricated or otherwise).  No look-how-my-southern-family-messed-up-my-life retrospectives.  Just originality and story.   

I may be old enough for reading glasses (sigh), but my literary TASTE certainly isn't. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

How To Deal With Spam

I have a new hero:

Seriously, haven't you always wanted to turn around and annoy a spammer or telemarketer?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

To Be Sensitive..

Having spent two months coping with bronchitis on and off, THEN having it start turning to pneumonia and 10 days of a nasty antibiotic to get rid of it, what could be more fun than catching a cold?  Seriously, does my immune system do anything? 

After a few days of daytime cold medicine, I changed tactics yesterday afternoon and tried Andy's Sudafed.  I tried the 12-hour once for allergies, and didn't sleep for two days, but thought I could cope with the 4-hour version.  And it did work!  I breathed easier, had a clearer head, and
channeled that legal-amphetamine-hyperactivity into finally getting the rest of the Christmas decorations located, packed, put away, and the winter ones put up and the downstairs cleaned.  Really, I haven't had that sort of energy in two months.  Andy was wishing he were as sensitive to medications as I am--that was sort of handy......:)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Zero For Two

In the past, I've either physically dusted lampshades or rinsed them with water to clean them.  However,
dusting broke the first one, rinsing broke the second, AND the color bled on both of them.  So, we're looking for new lamps/lampshades.

I'm thinking the third option would have just been to replace the blasted things in the first place........

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Château Sutton-Goar

Santa made a surprise appearance at the Château last year, bringing Andy an acoustic parlor (smaller body) guitar and  me a 12-string, so there has been a lot of music here this year—and more than a few discussions about how many guitars two people actually need, though these discussions are quickly scrapped when either the sewing room or the third bay of the garage known as the Wood Shop are mentioned.  No one, however, is allowed to take up the tuba.

Andy has always been interested in photography, and this year purchased a better digital camera to play with.  On one of the first outings with a camera, while Andy tried to get just the right shot of a goose with her gosling, I fended off another goose, presumably her agent, who wanted to A) bite, and B) talk royalties.  A day on the motorcycle with the camera has become a favorite weekend activity for him, and over Thanksgiving he took some wonderful pictures of my aunt and uncle and their family at the ranch, so it's really been a fun hobby for everyone—except perhaps that goose.

The garden and I had a decent relationship this year.  Lousy tomatoes, but truly exuberant cucumbers, which worked out rather well as I was running low on pickles, and we valiantly defended the pumpkin plant from the squash bugs after learning that planting zucchini as a decoy didn't work.  I actually planted two zucchini, for reasons I no longer remember or even understand, and believe me when I say that zucchini-carrot jam didn't sound remotely strange after everything else we made, though other people do seem to find bits of vegetable on their toast a bit weird.  Go figure......

The ongoing hip/back issues continue to dominate my life, but my biggest news is that my physical therapist said I don't need her anymore!  While she's still on speed-dial in case of “mishaps” or “over-optimism,” I continue to make progress.  Some activities are forever off-limits (certain types of lifting), but most things are probably possible.  The best approach is to try something in a small amount, see if my hip is stable, then gradually increase the time or try a new exercise for stability.  Of course, the approach I usually use is the “dive right in” version, which really backfired with my attempt at lawn mowing.  I think the straight passes were fine, but I hadn't thought through turning around.  We'll start smaller next year.  It will never be fixed exactly, and sitting will always be difficult and best avoided, but the daily exercises and stretches are helping me control it and I'm starting to get back to what my therapist describes as “half of a normal life.”   Though I'm not sure we've ever managed a “normal” life anyway, I am hoping to continue to make progress and regain whatever passes for a normal life for us.

In fact, I have made so much progress that we did a little traveling this year:  In February, we visited Andy's parents in California, then met up with most of his family in June in Colorado for a wedding reception and trip to the Colorado Renaissance Festival.  Then in October it was off to New York to attend our first Italian wedding—a wonderful event stretching 3 days and involving lots of celebrating, dancing,  and enough food to have amazed either of my grandmothers--which is saying something.  We also visited the Statue of Liberty and revisited Ellis Island, Central Park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We also discovered a brilliant Italian market where one can buy a glass of wine WHILE grocery shopping.  Idaho has much to learn.....

We close with a picture of a costume dinner we attended—Andy and I doing our best Cary Grant and Sophia Loren impressions.  Hey, we can always dream...............

Things we have learned this year:

* Unless you're a real free-thinker about oatmeal, it's best to not keep the cinnamon right next to the taco seasoning
*  “I'll just pop in to Costco on the way” might be the silliest thing I've ever said on a Friday afternoon.
* It's amazing what a sense of victory it is to only get slight burns when attempting to use a glue gun.
*  We've replaced a lot of appliances, but I'm still grudgingly impressed when a coffee maker can find an entirely new way to break—like having the automatic grinder start randomly going off whenever.  I have a soft spot for creativity.
* Dried dates burn much faster in the microwave than one might think.
*  It's a mark of human optimism that the word “zucchini” even has a singular.
*  Those who joke about their cats being “senior kitties” are going to spend 45 minutes catching the mouse let loose under the Christmas tree skirt.
*  Sorting boxes is fairly easy by now—if we haven't seen it in 9 years, it probably isn't necessary.
*  Cats with stress issues are a leading cause of humans with stress issues.
*  I had sort of assumed that by the time I reached my 40s I'd be able to stay clean for an entire day.
*  One might never have too many tomatoes, but one can definitely have too many green beans
* Stocking up on Christmas cards after Christmas was a great idea.  Remembering where I put them would have been brilliant.
*  Three years later and my cheekbone can STILL find more features on my smartphone than I can.
*  When it's over 100 degrees, I am not to be trusted with questions like, “how short would I like my bangs?”
*  Ants can move surprisingly fast when one has just dug into their home.
*  We didn't receive a single seed catalog this year.  It seems my fame has spread.........
*  Admitting that one is never actually going to reread Dostoevsky is very freeing—and clears up bookshelf space
*  Begging seems to help when trying to convince the computers and printers to all play nicely.
*  When the garden is in full swing, there's no such thing as a small salad.
*  I do not know a curse strong enough for the wretches who came up with the cherry-flavoring for Robitussin.
*  Reading glasses tend to work best when one can find them.
*  Fast for two weeks before attending a 3-day Italian wedding—and two months afterwards.
*  Getting an extra month of gardening does not necessarily translate into an extra month of interest IN gardening.
*  No matter how hard one might try to enhance the color of a photo, some of us really are just that pale
*  It turns out the SMART thing to do would be to see if one can actually open a finished project—for instance, a wooden pepper grinder—before mailing them all out as Christmas gifts.
*  If you have sent out Christmas gifts that no one will be able to open, you can tell when each one is opened by the phone calls looking for instructions, help, or possibly a can of spinach.
*  Nothing inspires the misbehavior of a furnace like a 10-degree morning
*  Taking turns making Christmas gifts generally works out well, or would if either of us were at all realistic about the time required to make things.
*  You can't out-stubborn a cat.
*  Buying “Happy Holidays” cards works out well for those of us who might not get them out before Christmas.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a healthy 2016,
Toni & Andy


You know you've reached a whole new level of gardening when you receive a wholesale catalog.....