Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bird's eye view, A barrage, Where it's dry

1. Three of us went inside to look around the empty church. The building sits high atop a hill with spectacular views. I sat down in a seat next to the window and looked across the mountains unfolding far and away to the west. This may become my regular seat.
2. I arrived at the front door just as the sky exploded with thunder that shook the ground. The entryway suddenly flashed white and I quickly stepped inside, slamming the door on the attack.
3. The dark and rainy day makes everything feel cozy inside.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Babies, Someone's dream is real, Not a keeper

August 1, 1981
1. Out of the blue, Steve emailed me our wedding picture. He wrote, "Young babies". Yes we were.
2. Our neighbor took me to his current landscape project that is years in the making. Boxwood- bordered beds, symmetry and sculpture everywhere, perimeters of stately shade trees. Oh, here I go dreaming again...
3. Daughter #4 always thanks me for dinner and tells me it was good. Tonight, I made something new which none of us cared for very much. As I got up from the table, I announced that I didn't like the dinner and no one better thank me. With relief, she happily added that she didn't like it either.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I have the perfect place for those, Hungry?, How DO you do that?

1. The photographs in the nursery catalog display perfect, lush plants from which I imagine endless possibilities. Shade gardens, cutting gardens, boxwood gardens, English country gardens, and on and on. The anticipation and excitement of what could be, if only...I had a gardening staff. 
2. I love for our house to be alive. Alive with people coming and going, a bite to eat for anyone who happens to stop by, a nice chat over coffee, where everyone is made to feel welcome and friends may enter without waiting for the door to be opened to them, we simply yell, "Come in!"
3. I sat in on her piano lesson. I'm absolutely perplexed as to how anyone can be told to, "Play this" or, "Make that a G instead of a D flat" or, "Watch the fortissimo" as simply as if one was being told to pick up that pencil and so they do.
*She showed me that she can download the sheet music onto her ipad, use it at the piano and as she plays, it hears her and automatically turns the page at the right moment. How amazing is that?!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I like the milling but not the mashing, Frozen berries, The sky's the limit with window-shopping

 1. The store clerk scoops measured amounts of grain into the mill. Three types of grain blended with a few packets of hops and brewer's yeast results in this potion of IPA beer. Steve thinks it smells heavenly, like baking bread. I can't appreciate the aroma as he does, but I do enjoy watching him concoct things in the kitchen.
2. This recipe for Winter Blackberry Cobbler is truly delicious.
3. We window shopped all morning while waiting for the girls at the mall. Everything from lawnmowers to TV's to chinos. It was more fun that we weren't buying anything, no decision-making, just looking, thank you!

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm never bored with this, Pass it on, Away!

1. My absolute favorite breakfast food: homemade biscotti dunked in strong coffee.
2. The young man at the checkout cautions me about the tornado watch he's heard about. After I get home, Steve phones to also put me on alert. I don't have anyone to warn, so I just keep an eye on the sky and the horses. It's my way to sort of do my part in the chain.
3. After the worst has passed, I walk down to the mailbox. I feel incredibly small as I face into the wind and look up at the sky to see the clouds breaking up and racing overhead in a dizzying way.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A sweet girl, Fresh air, Wish I could stay all day

1. Daughter #3 has a new horse staying with us named SeƱorita. Her breed is National Show Horse which is half Arabian, half Saddlebred. Her graceful and refined gait are a joy to watch as she simply glides across the field. With a little grooming and tail de-tangling she will be a real beauty.
2. Spring-like weather today and the windows are cracked open. The good outdoor smells wafting into the house make my heart skip a beat for spring.
3. I sit on the hay bales, doing nothing, watching the mountains and the horses. It's very quiet with only the bird song and the horses crunching their hay. Both are soothing sounds and I like the stillness and quietness of it all.
Ah, well. I unchecked the word verification box and got spammed. I had to add it back on. Such is life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mucky muck- I scoff at you!, Checkbook- I scoff at you too!, ...with a smile

1. Waterproof, insulated boots are my super-hero power shield. I can walk in muck, mud, snow and water without a drop of it on my socks. Impervious to the elements, I can walk anywhere! I look for more yucky places to walk just because I can.
2. I persevered until I had that checkbook balanced. It all added up the way it was supposed to and I did a victory dance in my head.
3. A gentle, steady rain was my lullaby.
Sorry about the word verification craziness that's been going on. I have no idea how that all got started, but I've tried to remedy it. We'll see...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Storing it in my memory for when it's 90°, Everyone is happy abpout this, More of a chuckle

1. This morning we woke to the spectacle of a brilliant blue sky above a snow covered landscape. Nature didn't just dust on the powdered sugar, she dumped the entire bag. Every branch, every twig and evergreen strained under its beautiful burden. We knew within hours it would be gone. That's the beauty of a late Virginia snow.
2. Conversation at dinner made mention how mornings and evenings are getting brighter.
3. I hear Steve laugh when he's reading stuff on his computer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

White chocolate and amaretto frosting, Snowstorm, Another kind of sweetness

Red Velvet Cupcakes

1. ...and they were very good. Henri thought so too. He partook of two cupcakes when no one was looking.

"Two Horses in Snow"
2. We finally have our winter snowstorm. I was perfectly content to watch it from the window.

 3. I suppose most little girls endure loads of kisses from grandmas and aunts and all the women in a family. She is tolerable of our fussing and loving and she'll even return a kiss if we ask for one.

This window caught my eye each time I walked by.

In which everything becomes plump.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Can't get enough hugs, Fun to make, Three miles, In the kitchen most of the day

 1. A rare treat of two visits within one week with our granddaughter. She's wearing the overalls we bought for her mother twenty five years ago. All four of our girls had a turn wearing these OshKosh overalls.
2. I feel like a mad scientist mixing up this recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes that Lynn sent me. Pouring in an entire bottle of red food coloring- crazy! And mixing buttermilk, vinegar and baking soda until it foams three times its size- also crazy. But it tastes so good. (Frosted results happen tomorrow.)
3. Daughter #4 and I took time for a walk on this beautiful, sunny day. Everyone's preparing for a bit of snow tomorrow, but we'll see. It's hard to imagine on a mild day such as this.
4. After four hours of braising in the oven, the pork for the Homesick Texan Carnitas is perfectly tender with crispy edges all around. We pick a little bit here and there as a treat.
*The recipe calls for pan cooking, but I was making 8 pounds of meat, so I oven cooked it instead with perfect results.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Colorfully Festive, Pearl Barley, Rejuvenated

1. The restaurant's plates were similar to Fiesta Ware so, each of my three plates was a different color- orange, blue and red. The breakfast table was covered in everyone's colorful plates.
2. The photo shows the beginnings of something good. Leeks, sliced button mushrooms and garlic sauteed in olive oil started this Barley and Mushroom Stew. I've never made it before and it has wonderful flavor. Steve and I agreed we would omit the kale and use carrots and celery. But that's just us.
3. The small change of a new shower curtain has revived the entire master bathroom.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breathe in, Gray, 4 1/2 stars

1. Harbor Freight Tools smelled sweetly good- in a metal, plastic, dirt, grease kind of way. Similar to a hardware store or garden center, these all smell good to me.
2. It's dreary and rainy, fueled with more spring than winter. Flocks of blackbirds have gathered in the trees and the rain muffles their excited chattering.
3. Today I finished reading Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig. This novel brought me on an adventure to early 20th century Montana; somewhere I've never 'been' before. Having been raised in Montana himself, the author aptly describes the beautiful scenery and harsh winters interwoven with a tale of ambition, hardship and unrequited love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Left in shirtsleeves, A big decision, Heralds of spring

1. Vests are left behind on fence posts, jackets tied around waists. It's a warm, sunny day where we shed layers along the walk.
2. We sit comfortably after dinner and talk, just the two of us.
3. Each day there are more flocks of energetic, happy robins on the lawn. Their bright orange breasts contrast so beautifully with their dark brown bodies. Nature chooses the loveliest color combinations.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

♫ Mellory, mellory, mellory ♪, My favorite, Funny tastes better

1. The tiny voice of my two and a half year old friend singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" from the back seat while I'm driving.
2. I like chocolates better than anything else.
3. Laughter around the dinner table.
That and good conversation are the best ways to enjoy a meal. Negative talk or hard feelings have no place at the table. Never.
4. How could I forget the snow! Twenty glorious minutes of big, fluffy, stick-to-your-eyelashes, blotting out the trees snow! It was beautiful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Food for everyone, Sun and shadow, Roadwork

1. There's a new bag of dog treats in the cabinet, more bales of hay in the horse shed, a new bag of fruit and nut hamster treats on the bathroom sink upstairs and another bag of hamster-something on the kitchen counter. She's done gone on a shopping spree with her paycheck.
2. The setting sun bathes the landscape in an ethereal golden light.
3. I have a human walking companion today and she has dog buddies for Henri. We make a nice leash-tangling menagerie as we hike the three mile loop.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Morning hug, It's a long story, Sunday brunch, The "boys"

1. I lift her from her crib this morning. Warm, sleepy, cuddly in footed jammies, clinging to her lovey. She rests her head on my shoulder and we sit quietly for a moment in order to come fully awake.
2. She makes serious conversation. Her facial expressions change for emphasis and I'm fascinated by the long dialogue and variety of sounds. I can only guess what she's saying. I hope I've responded correctly, however she doesn't seem to mind whatever I reply because she keeps on talking.
3. The wait is too long for brunch at the restaurant so we quickly come up with a plan. Within an hour, we have coffee, bacon, eggs, toast, fruit and donuts on the table. It's a great Plan B.
4. They sit side-by-side with their computers, happily playing Magic Pen 2 and comparing strategies. I admire their nerdy contentment.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heading south, Goofy talk works best, General Tsao

1. We took a different road this time. The scenery was prettier, especially the town of Hillsboro with its historic buildings and quaint Main Street.
2. She's alone in the room, in her high chair when I walk in. Her eyes dart to the doorway where her mom just exited and then quickly back to me. When Steve walks in and makes a funny noise, a smile slowly creeps onto her face and she accepts us.
3. Chinese take-out! I can't remember the last time we had Chinese or take-out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why walk when you can run, The elves did it, Easy bake

My dad, Charles Giacomino around 1937

He was always the top guy.
 1. In keeping with a habit of my dad's, I run rather than walk in order to sneak in a little extra exercise. So if you see a goofy lady running to her mailbox, horse shed, compost pile, etc. I'm heeding my dad's example to stay fit. The air is cold this morning and it bites at my lungs and gets my heart rate pumping.
2. I washed the floors and then left the house. When I returned, the clean lemony smell made a nice welcome.
3. Ooo! In the back of the cabinet I found a shortbread mix from the Guilford Mill that I forgot about.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two thumbs up, Energized, The natural world

1. This photo made me smile. Daughter #3 had her first flight on Saturday.
2. Work begets work. I just made that up. It's what I experienced after I worked all morning, expecting to be exhausted. Instead, I came home and was pumped up to work some more.
3. The topic for discussion was, "Where do you find inspiration?" It was nice to spend some thought on that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who's out there?, A marvel of engineering, Playing catch up

1. I wonder at the huge spotlight shining from the woods in the predawn darkness. Oh! It's the moon, watching me from the trees.
2. Steve doesn't know whether to curse or admire the VW engineers when he works on my car.
3. Between errands and appointments I have a brief respite at home. It's just enough time to have lunch while I watch  the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sweet boy, I get it!, Music to drive by- Ruut

1. Henri behaves adorably and cuddles up to a friend of mine that he's never met. He starts out by sitting near her on the sofa and ends up with his head on her lap.
2. They're talking shop and I understand the lingo.
3. I first heard Ruut in the late 90's when she was only seventeen. Already writing and performing her own music, I scooped up her CD's as quickly as they were released. I still love to hear her sing and she made my drive enjoyable today.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A muddled world, My boys, A great opportunity

1. Sunday is the lens which brings the world back into focus.
Indescribable, uncontainable, 
You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. 
You are amazing God.
Incomp'rable, unchangeable,
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.
You are amazing God.
2.The young men our daughters have married (and one boyfriend) couldn't have more varied personalities. Yet each one enhances our family, has been adopted in and all enjoy each others company. I love them as my own.
3. It's nice to discuss business over a glass of wine.

* Indescribable lyrics by Chris Tomlin

Not my usual pleasant post otherwise titled "Send me Your Bar Graphs"

 I'm channeling my rant into a letter that begins, "Dear Mr. President". I knew what the numbers were screaming, but when Steve turned our salary vs. health insurance into a bar graph, I was astounded. The visual made it hit home even harder. In a nutshell, our health insurance premiums saw a total increase of $32.22 per month from 2004-2008 (previous president). We've had an increase of $313.60 per month!! from 2008-2012 (current president). I just want a reasonable explanation. How does anyone find room in their monthly budget for a $313 increase when salaries are going nowhere?
What I would really like to know is: We can't be the only people experiencing this. Doesn't anyone else notice this happening to them? Isn't anyone else outraged? Take a look at your health insurance premiums, create a bar graph of your own. I think too many people believe their opinion doesn't count or their voice isn't heard. Well, I'm going to be a squeaky wheel gosh darn it!

We did go out in the damp rain for an ice cream at Bruester's. My White Turtle ice cream cone was a balm to my raging tongue.

Friday, February 3, 2012

107 %, Market day, Feeling white

1. Overheard by a student: "I hate it when I get a 100 and it brings my grade down!"
2. Hunched over my paper, racking my brains to come up with a grocery list, daughter #3 says, "Ooo, will you make this?" and "Oh, can we have that?" Finally! I love getting some input.
2.a. I needed a jar to store some flour and ended up getting a little carried away. I found the labels here.
3. Daughter #1 asks if I would like to get a spray tan with her when I'm in Raleigh. I decline and suggest maybe her husband would like to have one; they could go together? Her response is laughter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Medical Insurance: Does Anyone Use an Alternative?

On a rant over here .

An early appearance, Favorite space, Almost fair and square

1. Tenderly lifting her chin with my finger, I apologize to the daffodil for the confusion.
2. The house is empty, plenty of contemplative space there, but I prefer the hay bales.
3. I beat him at a game of pool with only one do-over.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Weathered, Treasures, Welcome Sunrise

1. Beauty exposed on a winter walk when the grass is low.
2. Returning from a ride on Vander, she has some finds for me. She pulls cobalt blue bottles from the pockets in her jacket, rusty lids, fresh mud and all.
3. Dawn can't come soon enough. Especially at 2 am., 3 am., 4 am. Thank God for morning!! I embrace my coffee.