On the Second Day of Christmas

..My True Love Gave to Me:

Down at Florida Seaside Villa

Judith: Oh my heavens, they’re soooo sweet – his and hers snowpeople! You must have paid a fortune for them!
Lancelot: Naw, picked them up up at the Thrift Store for a song.

Lancelot: One of them is missing his nose but I can whittle down a carrot if you wish.
Judith: No, that’s okay dear, but you better bring them inside – anything that portable is sure to be stolen.

Meanwhile over at the trailer park:

Joodles: I told you not to spend any more money on decorations. I got this little tree at the Dollar Store.
Lannie: Aw heck, I got it at the Thrift Store; the lights are gone but it still blows up

Joodles: We might have to blow it up in a coupl’a weeks. Literally, cause ain’t no way we gonna fit that in the closet.
Lannie: We can stuff it in the camper. C’mon, ya gotta admit, it’s quite the in-fa-latable.

On The Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me:
Two Sledding Snowmen

© Judy Parsons 2017

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On the First Day of Christmas

…My True Love Gave to Me

It might have been the cheap strawberry flavoured wine, or the candy I found left in a box that I thought was empty (what did those Nuns put in their caramels?) I dunno. I lay down for a minute and next thing you know I was transported to Christmas in Florida. Which is not so odd given that I am spending Christmas in Florida. Click on any pic for a larger view:

Judith: Oh Honey, this ocean view is so beautiful but it really isn’t very Christmassy.
Lancelot: Sure if you look at that sand on a bright day, it almost looks like snow. But if you want I’ll run out and pick up something to put out in the yard .
Judith: You’re too sweet.

Judith: Well isn’t that something!!
Lancelot: Isn’t it though? I got it over at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Lancelot: That Buddha is 100% Italian silver.
Judith: Buddha? Dear, could we try something a little more, well, standard? A snowman or something?

Meanwhile, over in the park:

Lannie: Hmmm, dat’s nice but look over there at Bertha Bae Boovier’s trailer, she’s got one of everything.
Joodles: Well, I was tryin’ ta keep it simple d’is year. Whatta ya want?
Lannie: I dunno. I’m gonna run out and see what I can find.

Joodles: What in the name of Santa is that?
Lannie: T’is a t’ing what decorates yer lawn. I got it over to the Habitat for Humanity place. Dirt cheap.

Lannie: Betcha Bertha Bae won’t be able to find one like d’is.

Joodles: I don’t s’pose she will! T’is not really much like anyone else’s lawn stuff tho. Do you suppose you could find something more normal? Like a snowman or sumptin.

On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to me – a Buddha in a Palm Tree. 

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Tree’s Up

….or Let’s Get Nautical.

Okay folks, I’ve really scaled it down this year. My thrift store tree is only a foot and a half high. It started out being smothered in little coloured lights. Cute for a day or two then I stripped it down and started again. Nautical theme. What can I say, at least it’s not pineapples.

The garland is a long strand of monkey’s fist and carrick bend knots.


I made net floats from marbles and fine wool.


..in a variety of colours.


A glass mermaid makes a fine tree topper.


This is as close as I will likely ever get to spending Christmas at sea. Maybe next year I’ll add a few seashells and some fish. Or a few pineapples.

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Thrift Store Delights

……And The Not So Delightful.

Thrift Store shopping has become my favourite indulgence but it is not without its frustrations. Like the old feller said; you gotta eat a lot of Cracker Jacks to get to that prize. Like this one


Ooooh, red. Oooh, Bodum brand. Oooh, unbreakable, perfect for the camper. Well, all I have to say now is thank heavens the towel I used as a coffee pot cozy was already brown.

All that good coffee gone to waste.

It leaked over half of the coffee out around those plastic viewing windows before I even got the plunger started. If you are looking for unbreakable don’t buy one of these. And folks, please, if your kitchen gadgets give out, throw them away, don’t give them to a charity unless they have the means to melt them down for base materials. Sheesh. Three dollars right down the tubes.

But not all my purchases are broken. That said, they can still be disappointing. Like this one. Saw it, had to have it. I  have had an advent calendar since the kids were little and didn’t think to stop once they moved out. This was a smokin’ hot deal:

Genuine authentic LLBean advent calendar.

Yup. All the doors worked and all the little knobs were present and accounted for. There were no creepy crawlies or unidentifiable gooey substances lurking in the corners of the boxes. It just needed a quick wipe and it was ready to be loaded up. At least I tried to load ‘er up:

Chocolate too big, space too small. Either way, grrr.

And to think I just spent my month’s pension on little wrapped pieces of chocolate. Determined, I made it fit. But only one, and there are two of us counting down to Christmas.

Determined, I stogged one in.

Not so pretty now is it?

Not so appetizing once unwrapped.

Oh well, there are other kinds of little chocolates and these won’t go to waste.

But I do often have extraordinary thrift store kismet. Like the day I was wishing for a French curve (a drawing tool) and found one the next day in a shop for a dollar. Or the day I was going to explore the shops and Lance asked me to look out for a small table to use as a desk on the sunporch. I didn’t even make it to the store. There was a perfect sized computer desk sitting on the side of the road just down from the house with a paper saying FREE stuck to it. We really should start wishing for bigger and better things if the universe is going to make it that easy.

Just last week I was grinding a Chinese ink stick for a watercolour painting and had to use one of my white kitchen plates for a palette to dilute the black ink. Wasn’t happy about that; who knows what those ink sticks are really make of and who wants streaky plates. So I resolved to pick up a random white plate to be used as a palate the next time I was out. The universe, thank you very much, delivered. See for yourself.

My new white plate.

Now what could be more palette-like than that? I tells ya, I really should wish for bigger things. And so far it hasn’t disappointed.


Wait, what is that? Is that the face of Genghis Khan in my ink blot? What would Hermann Rorschach have to say about that?

Genghis, is that you?

Stay tuned for the twelve days of Christmas blogs entries starting on Dec 25. I’m working on larger writing projects right now so the Blog is sporadic but if you hang in there, you will find new posts from time to time.

Jon, in response to your comment, we have seen Anhingas a couple of times. If you search my blog for Paddling the Chaz you will find a picture there I believe.

Email comments to jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com and I’ll add them in. The auto comment box is busted permanently.

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© Judy Parsons 2017

Backyard Critters

….or Doo Doo Doo Lookin’ Out My Back Door.

That’s an exaggeration of course; no elephants or tangerines in our backyard. Or was it tambourines? (Is this a mondegreen;  a case of misunderstood song lyrics?)  Here are two of the most recent visitors to our back yard.

Buteo Lineatus


He/she’s been by to see us twice now.  Well, maybe not so much as to see us but rather to salivate over the plethora of plump acorn-fed squirrels which frequent our yard. Did you know that a group of squirrels is called a scurrie? Do birds salivate?


Red Shouldered Hawk


Speaking of elephants, in identifying this turtle, who is actually a tortoise, I was to look for hind legs which were “elephant-like.”

I don’t know where turtles got their reputation for being extraordinarily slow. This fellow booted it across the backyard like it was four o’clock on payday.

Gopher turtle. A threatened species in Florida.


Also called gopher tortoise. A turtle is always a tortoise but a tortoise is not always a turtle.


Proper name of Gopherus Polyphemus. Back view (as if you couldn’t tell that)


Did you know that Gus the turtle at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History is a gopher turtle from Florida? And that he is 94 years old? Yup. No, he didn’t make it all that way on his own. A fellow bought him for five dollars in Florida in 1942 and he’s been entertaining NS school children ever since. Probably wouldn’t allow him across the border these days.

© Judy Parsons 2017.

Comment from Jon: 

To be pedantic. your shelled critter is actually a tortoise.

I am sooooo envious of your exposure to wildlife down there. To think these critters are right in your yard!
Reply from Judy: Thanks Jon. Yes, he is a tortoise but turtle is so much easier to say don’t you think.  He was big – the shell about a foot long. I hear they don’t travel too far from their nests so hopefully we will meet again. Re: wildlife envy – they don’t call it the nature coast for nothing. I’m still on the fence about meeting a gator though. And I’ve met the fire ants first hand. Oh the burning, Mommy, oh the burning.
BTW never sure what to do about the he/she thing when talking about animals. I tend to go by the sex of the person they remind me of.
Comments: email them to jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com  (I tried for hours on the phone with my web host and WordPress to solve my comments problem. No joy. They said they could try something different, no promises, for $80. I declined. If you want me to know what you think or to start a discussion, just email me your thoughts at jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com and I’ll cut and paste into the post.)

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Deconstructing Thanksgiving Dinner

…or what I learned in 2 hours at Food Foto School.

In which I correct my own homework AND get to recycle my Second Thanksgiving dinner photos.

On the table:

Exhibit number 1.

I recently attended a seminar in Halifax called Blogjam – a convention for Bloggers. (I capitalize that because we Bloggers are so important) By far the most superior workshop was the one on plating and photographing food. I learned tons. Sadly it is not evident in my recent posting of Thanksgiving food pics so, being a fan of life-long learning and sharing, please indulge me in this autogenous critique of the above opening photograph.

  • There are too many round things. A picture needs a variety of shapes and sizes for balance.
  • The bird should be the biggest object in the pic but it is dwarfed by being next to the wine glass full of cran/raspberry jelly salad. That’s not an error in placement or scale; it is because that is the MOTHER of all big wineglasses. Also, it is a chicken, not a turkey. For you non-poultry eating folk, chickens are smaller than turkeys.
  • The gravy boat doesn’t match the plates. It is vintage, but not as vintage as the plate and it’s a different colour. Mmm, good reason to go Thrift store shopping there.
  • The focal point, or hero of the shot as it were, should be obvious or should have other objects creating a path towards it. Hmph. My hero, the chicken, is buried behind the doughboys, which is likely some kind of parapraxis on my part because doughboys ROCK.

Exhibit number 2

This is not much better even though they told me that food is best photographed from above unless the plate itself holds food in layers. I’m not so sure I agree. Also

  • It has too many plates.
  • The tablecloth doesn’t fit the table.
  • The plates are too small for the portions. I should have used smaller plates.
  • The jelly salad gets lost against the background.
  • The gravy boat still doesn’t work on that plate.
  • There is no clear focal point.

I should have used smaller plates. Or heaped the sprouts around the chicken. The jelly could have been in a small ivory dish to make it stand out against the cloth. The gravy boat should not be on a plate. Well, it should be for the sake of saving the tablecloth from gravy stains, but not for the photo. It’s hard to understand why I used a gigantic wine glass for the jelly. I vaguely recall it being because the gigantic martini glass wouldn’t fit in the fridge for it to set.

Here’s how our extraordinary and likable instructor, Michelle Doucette, did it:

Wonder how she’d treat a chicken dinner.

Now for the same dinner on the plate:

Exhibit number 3.

What works? The food is a nice variety of colours. What doesn’t:

  • The tablecloth is all wrong and doesn’t fill the frame.
  • There is no path for the eye to follow.
  • Everything is the same height.
  • Too many doughboys. One would have sufficed. (Once again the doughboys come first. You have to understand, I would have starved as a child if it weren’t for doughboys. Not because there wasn’t other food, just so few other things I considered worth eating)
  • It’s essentially just one big blob of food.
  • The blue pattern on the plate would have looked better over between the chicken leg and the jelly.
  • The pecans on the jellied salad look like some kind of growth. Should probably have flipped it so there was a cranberry or two showing.

On the other hand, the glistening on the gravy looks pretty good. Guaranteed natural, and unretouched that gravy is. No spray shellac in my food photos.

Here’s how the marvelous and likable chef from Gio, Halifax, presented his food. Sorry, don’t recall his name, I was too distracted by the culinary delights he was “plating” as he called it.




And now for dessert:


Exhibit number 4. Bad.

My first dessert photo earns a definite F grade. This is a slice of crustless key lime pie. It was delicious with the texture of a panna cotta and the zingy tang of fresh squeezed limes. Why does it look so terrible? Here’s a better shot but it still could use some improvement.

Exhibit number 5.

  • The plate is waaaay too big.
  • The plate colour and pattern do not compliment the food.
  • It is bland in colour. It would benefit from being placed on a nice dark sauce. Okay folks, get out your colour wheels here. I think a purply swirl of blackberry coulis would be just the ticket to bring out the green of the lime peel, don’t you?
  • The lime twist garnish I believe is nice, but it should have been a little smaller as it overwhelms the dessert. And add a single plump blackberry. Then again, why not just make the serving larger. Much larger with heaps more whipped cream. Bring it on. But hold the blackberry. I refuse to pay six dollars for a small package when I only need two berries. Maybe I should get some decorative glass ones. What’s the chance someone would try and eat one? Like those plastic safety pins I once put on the icing of some baby shower cupcakes that every second person thought was candy and tried to eat. Guess that’s why garnishes are usually real food. I digress.

So what I really learned from all of this is: if you want to photograph food don’t do it as you are serving it. Don’t break out the camera while your poor husband is already seated at the table with carving knife and fork poised and ready to strike. Or when he has licked the residual gravy off his fork and is holding it in his hand in anticipation of dessert. That is cruel and unusual punishment. Make yourself a practice meal a few days before, just for pictures. It falls under the category of artistic licence I believe. Not only will your photos be better planned, you will get to double the number of celebratory meals you get to have in any given year. Mmmmm, left-overs.

© Judy Parsons 2017.

Comments: email them to jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com  (I tried for hours on the phone with my web host and WordPress to solve my comments problem. No joy. They said they could try something different, no promises, for $80. I declined. If you want me to know what you think or to start a discussion, just email me your thoughts at jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com and I’ll cut and paste into the post.)

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Second Thanksgiving

..or So Much to Be Thankful For.

So much that it seems silly to specify and I’m not just saying that because I am too stuffed to sit upright.

Roast chicken and savoury onion doughboys with cran-raspberry jelly salad. Mmm-mmm.

Wonder if there’s another country out there about to celebrate Thanksgiving. But I suppose three Thanksgiving dinners would really be pushing the limit. Guess I’ll just have to hold out until Christmas. Christmas. Aargh.

© Judy Parsons 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

…or Seasonally confused.

It's fall and snow birds are driving to southern homes.

Here’s a cookie cutter clue as to what I’m up to right now.

Yesterday I heard Christmas music playing in the stores while I was out shopping for Thanksgiving dinner stuff. What ever happened to the idea that to every thing there is a season? Wait, didn’t I already do Thanksgiving? Sure I did, back in October, when I was putting up the Halloween decorations. And packing up Christmas in a box to be delivered and held til December 25th. (Just a reminder my darlings: NO PEEKING. In the meantime I really can’t explain why I was knitting Easter chicks. If I start soon, why maybe I can have next Christmas packed up in a box and ready to roll before the spring birthday season starts. Why not rent a storage unit and get ahead for the next five Christmases. I can load up the stockings with left-over Halloween treats and Thanksgiving chocolate. What do you mean there is no such thing as Thanksgiving chocolate? How have the candy companies not latched onto that yet? Aaah, I see, it is in the clutches of the pumpkin spice people. It’s no wonder I’m confused.

Seasonally confused.

Thanksgiving was nowhere near done when the Halloween decor went up.


And they said Halloween treats were fattening.

Halloween was not even done done when the Christmas stuff started to appear….


Warming up for the festivities.

…and the Christmas decor started up long before the snow flew. At least the leaves are off the trees.


Oh me nerves, who let Easter in here???


But I really must get cracking with Thanksgiving Dinner number 2, American version. I’m doing an eclectic  North/South fusion of stuff : roast chicken (no dry old turkey for me thank you very much) with savoury flavoured doughboys instead of stuffing (choose your starches folks, shrink those love handles to the size of bucket handles) with gravy and brussels sprouts.  And cranberry jelly salad because it is pretty on the plate and makes chicken sandwiches taste oh so good the next day. Don’t worry, my red dye #2 reaction will only last til Christmas. Christmas. Aaaargh!!!!

© Judy Parsons 2017

Comments: I tried for hours on the phone with my web host and WordPress to solve my comments problem. No joy. They said they could try something different, no promises, for $80. I declined. If you want me to know what you think or to start a discussion, just email me your thoughts at jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com and I’ll cut and paste into the post.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

New Work

…or Painter Barbie Presents

the latest J. Parsons canvas. I say canvas but it is actually paper and conté crayon (a type of compressed chalk in a small squared stick). It started out as a rough sketch in preparation for an acrylic but once I got going with that pleather jacket I couldn’t stop. The piece is roughly 16 x 20. Inches.


Aunt Marie was a going concern in the 70’s when our family used to visit on holidays. We often said that we never saw her sit down. Perch maybe, for a split second until she was interrupted by a knock at the door and a small voice asking “Can somebody go out in ‘da shop?” and she would throw her apron over the back of a chair, grab her keys and disappear for a bit, in which time Uncle Gerald would entertain us with wisecracks. By the time she got there, there might be several customers, perhaps clutching small crumpled notes from their mothers: half a pound of bolognie cut thick, a pack of du Mauriers (cigarettes – I could do a whole blog post on du Mauriers), a bag of onions, and a pack of jamjams etc. Then she’d reappear, keys jangling, her wide smile making her look mildly surprised. To me, Aunt Marie was about as cool as a rural Newfoundland shopkeeper could get. She smoked, she kept her eyebrows tamed, she wore lipstick, and always high heels when she dressed up. She knew everybody and never said a bad word about any of them. If I close my eyes to imagine her now I see her standing at the stove, leaning back to avoid the hot steam of a giant pot of Jigg’s dinner, one hand holding the pot lid, the other desperately fanning her face. Because Aunt Marie was always hot in more ways than one. I think the vinyl jacket, polyester palazzo pants and the avocado phone captures the era nicely. We miss you Aunt Marie and oh, by the way, I’m sorry I ran off with your tweezers that time.

© Judy Parsons 2017