Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cookie Cutters, Moonrise, Gravity and Birds

1. I rummaged through my collection to find just the right shapes for today. I chose a leaf for the green leaves of summer, a flower for the color in our summer gardens, a moon for the light and company it gives us on warm summer evenings, and a circle to represent the cycle of the seasons.

2. The sunset cast a pink glow on the clouds in the east. The moonrise above it makes the scene look like a magical island floating in the distance.
3. Little gray birds jump up and down trying to reach the seeds on the drooping heads of dill.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Flutterbies, A Visit, A New Installment

Sweet Whisper Dreams  posted about Legos today. It put me in mind of our Lego stash and how much fun our girls had with them over the years. I wrote something over here.

1. It must be butterfly season. They are fluttering about everywhere, all different types and each one  delicate and beautiful.
2. We girls are planning a visit to Raleigh to see Claire, Daniel and Mari. This morning we poked around the stores for little gifts to bring Mari. We had such fun looking at all the adorable children's outfits and trinkets. I take my position as Nonna seriously and I vow to pamper and bring joy to the best of my ability.
3. A tree is coming! Steve and Neighbor W. dug a hole the size of a swimming pool which means it must be a big tree. We can't have enough trees on this big old empty field. This will be a beautiful Maple that will glow crimson every autumn. We will not rake its leaves, but will let the wind scatter them to every direction.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Just Finished Reading, 70's Flashback, London 2012

1. After a morning of errands and chores, I settled down to finish my book, Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons. This has turned out to be one of my favorite books so far this summer. The characters were endearing, particularly the wizened old man named Curtis whom Jack befriends in Dorset. I also liked Sadie's mother's handwritten recipes which she grouped under titles such as, "Food to Soothe Troubles", "Wet Weather Treats", and "Cakes to Heal a Broken Heart". Inspired by the author's grandparents who journeyed from Berlin to Blackmore Vale in the 1930's, this is an immigrant's story about desperately trying to fit in.
2. Steve puts MP3 music discs in my car's console and they're always full of surprises. Tonight we popped one in the player and Tess and I were bouncing down the road to "Super Freak" and other assorted disco tunes. (I like this song only because it reminds me of Olive's dance scene in "Little Miss Sunshine") I was not at all into disco back in the day, but we had a great time driving with it tonight.
3. Some of the teens gathered to watch the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. I hung around with some of the other parents (who are also friends) and it was much more fun watching this sort of event with a group.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Speechless, Summer Schedule, Summer Evening

1. Daughters two and four are getting ready to go to the pool. Number two emerges from the hallway and says, "What do you think of my new European bikini top? Sha-BAM!" There is a moment of stunned silence and then all three of us double over in laughter.
1.a. Every woman should announce herself with "Sha-BAM!"
2. Tess and I sit amiably in the family room each reading our respective books. We don't care to have dinner any time soon, so we just keep reading.
3. I visited briefly with the neighbors on their porch this evening. It was our porch for one year when we rented that house and the porch was my favorite room. It faces such a way as to catch every little evening breeze. It also has a beautiful view of the valley spread before it.
3.a.They were waiting for the appearance of the bear who has come every evening to eat from the apple tree, but it didn't come this night. Their Border Collie chased it last night so it might be afraid to come back.
3.b. As I crossed the horse field to the neighbor's, Vander Bandy and Seniorita galloped towards me. Empty-handed, I quickly plucked some apples off the tree and tossed them as a treat. I like the crunching sound of a horse eating an apple.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

Tess said, "Look what I did".

Decisions, Decisions, You Course Through My Veins, 'Tis The Season...

1. The library had three books waiting for me to pick up. I've gone a few days without anything to read and it was difficult to decide which one to read first. Here's to days when deciding which book to read is the most difficult decision we have to make. : )
2. My friend L. sent this link: Mothers and their babies are linked at the cellular level. God's design leaves me spellbound at every turn.
3. Neighbor William dropped off peaches, corn, and Black-Eyed Susans from his trek to Saunder's Brothers today. This is Christmas in July.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cue the Tomatoes, The Storm, No Driving Required

1. I am not talented at anything in particular. I can't play an instrument, be an actress (Steve might disagree), create art, converse in a foreign language...anything like that. But, when Audrey asks me to bake a tomato pie again, I can do that...with pleasure!
2. She blows into the house with hurricane force, charging the atmosphere with energy. She lets go the box of books and gravitational force sends an earthquake across the floor. In a swift a clash of thunder she declares her foul mood and the storm blows out the back door as quickly as it had entered the front. It must run its course. Thirty minutes later, fair weather returns from its flight across the field and pets the dog.
3. Gathering this and that from the garden to make our meal.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Organizing- It Just Happens, Mom and Dad Said...

1. A dusty book lies on the floor in front of the bookshelves. I pick it up to shelve it and... One thing leads to another and I end up sorting and tidying the entire thing. A few books will go to new homes and I've made room for some new ones. I've also gotten rid of a ton of dust.
2. The same thing happened in the vegetable garden. Still wearing my skirt and jewelry, I went to pick a few ripe tomatoes and... Some were tipping over so I reinforced the stakes, plucked and threw out those with blossom end rot, pulled some weeds and picked some beets. I washed and divided the haul into bags; some to keep and some to give away. "There!", I thought with a huge sense of dirty, sticky satisfaction.
3. Tess finds Steve's and my conversations funny enough to regularly post them on facebook. She calls them, "dinner table conversations". Apparently we provide great amusement for the younger set as there were nineteen "likes" and comments on this one. 

 Mom: "Steve, I want you to talk to me more."
Dad: "The pendulum swings both ways, darling..."
Mom: "Well I'd talk to you if you helped me cook!"
Dad: "It'll be a cold day in hell when you let me in the kitchen."

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The grape leaves looked like tissue paper, filtering the sunlight in a dappled effect.
Sparkling Pointe made only sparkling wines. Their expansive vineyard was neat as a pin, as were all of the vineyards we saw. The patio overlooking the vineyard would be perfect for a wedding.
Raphael was one of my favorite wineries. I sampled a wonderful port here.
The north fork of Long Island is home to approximately 50 vineyards and wineries. We took one day for a scenic drive past riding stables, sod farms, nurseries, greenhouses, and hundreds of acres of vineyards on a self-guided tasting excursion. Every so often, we would catch a glimpse of the ocean as we drove, reminding me that we were on Long Island. Compared to our little vineyards here in Botetourt County, most of these were opulent. A few were small enterprises and we learned not to judge the taste of the wine by the opulence of the building. Tastings were not free as they are in Virginia. These tasting rooms charged $3-$4 per sample, which the four of us shared. Customers can also take a tasting "Flight" which meant paying about $10 to sample four or five wines grouped together. Without spending a lot of money, we were able to sample quite a bit by sharing. One of our stops was Duck Walk Winery. Here, we purchased two bottles to drink with the lunch we had packed along, a red Cabernet for the guys, and a white Riesling for the girls. This winery also had a comfortable patio where we happily rested, ate our lunch and afterwards the guys enjoyed a cigar. These folks were very friendly and being a weekday, we had free reign of the patio. This is where I bought my one take-home prize, a dessert wine called Aphrodite. How can I go wrong with that?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday's Walk

1. Down the hill and across the road from my brother-in-law's backyard is Long Island Sound. Amid the tall grasses of a tidal river is a myriad of wildlife. Walking down sandy paths, we came to the sound itself. A fishing class for children lined the banks. They were pulling in Robin Fish and then throwing them back. These banks are pebbly and my pockets became filled with pretty stones and shells.

2. We saw Blue Herons, White Egrets, an Osprey's nest, tiny Hermit Crabs and the prehistoric shell of a giant Horseshoe Crab. 
3. The cousins made play everywhere we went. They are a happy bunch.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We took  hundreds of pictures during our week in Long Island visiting Steve's brother and this is the one I singled out as my favorite. I titled it "Exposed" for two reasons. The obvious reason is that I'm nervously biting my lip as I post a photo of my 50-something self in a bathing suit.
But, the real reason is because when everything about me is stripped away, all the places I've lived or considered living, all the things that anyone currently knows about me or who people think I am, this is who I know that I am and where I fit in. I am a New Yorker. Sometimes I struggle to know where I belong or where I should live. And while chances are that I will never live in New York again, I know exactly where my roots are. I haven't been uprooted, as some people call it, I've been severed. My roots remain in New York.
I know exactly where to find myself should I ever lose my way. I'm exposed and it feels just right.

Other reasons this day was so wonderful:

The water was cold as I believe ocean water should be.
The wind was exhilarating and cooled the air by at least 20 degrees.
I "got" the people... and the accents.
It rained at night (three times) and everything was green.
I'm with Steve and the ocean reminds me of our younger days- the Jersey shore where, at 20, we drove all night to get there and I got sun poisoning the next day, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, Cape Cod for our honeymoon, and Maine, where we lived for two years.
The ferry out here to Fire Island was like an amusement park ride. Ocean spray soaked us and one lady hooted and laughed at every swell. (It wasn't me.)

We all find our own kind of treasures on the beach. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Henri Goes to New York

Manhattan as seen through a dog's eyes. I wonder what he sees. (photo courtesy of Tess' phone.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Eating, Lazing, Swimming

photo courtesy of Southern Living magazine
 1. I made this outstanding tomato pie for dinner. The crust is perfection and the garden tomatoes, herbs and onions are topped with a tasty cheese combination that browns when it's cooked. Oh my, it's so good!
2. I've caught myself not posting every day. It's summer and the days all melt together sometimes. I read, rock on the porch, pull things from the garden, and sit outside until dark as we slow our pace for a season. No rushing to this lesson or that meeting like the rest of the year when each day of the week has something assigned to it. Summer is about letting things slide a little.
3. We found out that the country club pool has become semi-private. This means that instead of paying membership fees each summer like we used to do, we can now pay as we go. This works much better for us since we haven't joined in the past few years, but would still like to swim on occasion. Daughter #4 and her friend got to swim today!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Balsamic Vinegar, Diaphanous Creatures, Going In

1. B.'s right, I could drink this grapefruit infused, white balsamic vinegar straight from the bottle. I drank a spoonful and had to stop myself from taking more. I used it on this vegetable platter* tonight, served alongside some simple buttered pasta.
2. I got the ladder out and gave the trumpet vine a much needed trim. With my head up in the jungle, I found tiny, pale blue moths (?) everywhere. They fluttered onto and into my shirt and hair. Darling little things, they were. I hope they are nothing bad because I love this shady bower, especially now that it's made tidy.
3. Glancing back from the yard, I see the lamp is lit on the porch. It's a cozy and inviting scene and I can't wait to go back inside and sit there.

* Brush 2 cookie sheets with extra virgin olive oil. Slice one eggplant into 1/4" slices and arrange on cookie sheets. Brush tops with additional olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Roast at 400° F. for 20 minutes until tender and golden. Cool to room temperature. Arrange on platter with slices of tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella and torn basil leaves. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Green Gold, Housekeeping the Garden, Finally!

1. Fresh green beans from the garden drizzled with garlic infused olive oil. Every drop is worth its weight in gold. For tomorrow's dinner, I have something in mind for the white balsamic vinegar...can't wait!
 2. The sweetest sound: Granddaughter's voice on the phone to me, "Hi Nonni, Hi Nonni!"
3. Crawled around the tomato plants on my hands and knees and got all the weeds pulled out of the garden. It is a gratifying effort.
4. The promise of cooler air has finally been fulfilled. It comes with evening, a definite cool breeze for which my spirits soar. We all agree to turn off the A/C and open the windows tonight.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heart Stopping, More Please, Off they Go

1. Finding the "Undo" button after I accidentally hit the "Delete" button after spending hours writing something. It was the gasp that could be heard 'round the world.
2. I stand in the window, watch the pouring rain and say thank you.
3. Baby birds have flown from the nest. I'm pleased to clean up after them, sweeping the steps and washing the side of the house. Such mess-makers they are!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sun-Warmed, Watched It Twice, Pretty!

1. Tomatoes suddenly ripen in abundance. We make a tomato salad for dinner and line some on the windowsill to enjoy their colors. The ones called "Black Cherry" we turn over and over, admiring the green veining visible under a translucent skin.
2. It was too hot for anything, so we all watched a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Chronicle tells the story of someone who is beaten down and bullied and then receives a super power. It uses a creative filming technique which we liked.
3. I set out the sliced and washed fruits and let the "kids" decorate the fruit pizzas.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

To the Rescue, Gotcha!, More Bradbury

1. My hairdresser opened her shop for extended hours after being closed all last week due to the power outage. I am thrilled to get in there and get some help for this most exasperating hair.
2. Two little girls go from window to window knocking at me while I am outside watering shrubs. I direct the spray at the window, sending a splash of water right in front of their faces. I'm rewarded with their muffled shrieks.
3. I read Dandelion Wine out on the porch where I soaked up summer both from the book and our own thermometer. This needs to go on my list of all-time favorites. Bradbury has a wonderful understanding of the human spirit and conveys it so beautifully through the eyes of a twelve year old boy. I can't decide if I prefer to read this in the summer, to experience the story in its element, or perhaps try it in the winter where it would certainly make summertime very real, even in the dark and cold.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Objet d'Art, Too Hot To Cook, Get to Bed

1. I found these old clothespins when I was rummaging through the pantry. It was a nice surprise to find something forgotten and I put them on the windowsill to enjoy for a while. My mom had clothespins like these when I was young.
2. Sourdough bread, Swiss cheese, black olive tapenade and sliced tomatoes. Brush the outside of the bread with olive oil and grill on a panini pan.
3. Today, for the first time in my life, I shooed a chicken with a broom.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Muslin in My Pocket, Doing Our Parts, Show Me Your Moves

1. My friend B. gave me lovely gifts from her trip to Vermont. Maple syrup in a leaf shaped bottle that's as pretty as a perfume bottle, a little sparrow on wire feet, and a wonderful bar of goat's milk soap scented with spruce/orange. I've opened the soap right away because it smells so good. The muslin wrapper smells too good to discard, so I save that to carry and sniff. (That sounds like an addiction.) Her daughter gave me a jelly jar filled with golden colored, local honey. It's nice to start the day receiving gifts even when it's not my birthday or anything.
2. Steve works much harder on the yard than I do this evening. I like it when we are outside together working on a common goal, so I've changed into work clothes and found some chores to do. I've gone and cut down the Shasta daisies. I debated doing it for a few days and finally just did it. They were too long and scraggly looking and I couldn't bear them any longer. Now I feel much better that the evil deed is done.
3. Daughter #3 does kickboxing and I think she is dangerous... in a good way.
4. I have a favorite apron and I wore it today.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bees, Moonrise Kingdom, Pinch Me, Lemon Meringue Pie

We follow the beekeeper through shady woods to the fallen tree.

Felled by the storm, he examines the open trunk and beehive within.

Animals have come and robbed the hive, cleaning out the entire area on the right. Only robber bees are left, taking whatever honey they can steal for their own hives.
1. We felt like storm chasers searching for bees instead. Bee Chasers! Excited at the thought of finding a swarm of bees and watching it be caught. Even though it turned out that the hive was robbed and gone, it was still great fun.
2. Moonrise Kingdom is a wonderfully creative, quirky movie. I'm still mulling it over the next day.
3. We walked straight into a piece of Americana. The little mountain town of Buchanan contains a Main Street (so-named), no traffic light, a soda fountain, library, antique shops, an old movie theater and homes with porches lining the sidewalk. Tonight, the American flag fluttered from many of those porches and the town was overflowing with families out for the carnival that was set up down near the river. We were there to pick up Daughter #4 and happened to catch the fireworks display as we arrived. We strolled a few more blocks and took in the carnival atmosphere. The sights and sounds at every turn were surreal and I laughed at the reality of it. It looked more like a movie set.

 4. Sweet dew drops weep onto the surface of Lemon Meringue Pie. I lick them from my slice with the tip of my tongue.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With and Without, BLT's, How I See Them, More Please

1. Mother nature has left an abundance of firewood scattered on the ground. Industrious man makes good use of this destruction and gleans a winter supply.
2. Good old Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches. White toasted bread heartily moistened with mayonnaise produces just the right texture to support the crunchy bacon when you bite down on it.
3. Foxgloves, little foxes slip their paws into the flowers and wear them as mitts.
4. Wonderful drenching rain moistens the parched ground.

Monday, July 2, 2012


 Power was restored last night. We only had two days and two nights without, which really wasn't so awful. We had a plan in place for the week of how we would handle the heat, meals, laundry, etc. but now we don't need it. The challenge was a diversion from the everyday routine and we were ready to meet it head-on. (Besides, what else can one do?) Our saving grace was the fact that we have a generator. This is an absolute necessity if you live anywhere that power goes out as it does here. It's a small generator and only can serve the essentials, but in a crisis, it all boils down to the essentials anyway.

1. Watered the garden with ice cold water flowing from the hose. It's easy to become a child again when you're hot and miserable and you're holding a hose with icy well water. : )
2. We carried a portion of dinner ingredients to Daughter #2's apartment. She completed the meal with items from her place and we ate the shared meal in wonderful air conditioning.
3. That moment of hesitation when I realized the power was on, but I wasn't sure I wanted it back just yet. I mostly wanted to leave the windows open to the night again.

Laughing 'til Tears

Daughter #1 shared this on facebook. I always appreciate a good laugh!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


We had a freakish wind storm Friday night called a Derecho. Tess and I were on the road in the middle of its fury. I noticed the marked band of black clouds off in the distance as we drove home, but I thought it was a band of thunderstorms. Now I know differently. Power is out and internet service is sketchy, but with our generator, we are managing OK. The heat is oppressive and the generator can't run the A/C, so we are experiencing what life was like before the days of artificially cooled air.
 1. The band of black cloud in the sky was peculiar. We drove straight into it. Not daring, just ignorant.
2. Our road became impassable as we drove up in the stormy dark. Tess and I had to get out of the car and drag branches off to the side. I was wearing sandals and the the wind whipped my skirt around my legs. As we worked together to lug one huge branch away, another fell just in front of the car. I yelled because of the size of the branches and the danger we were in. Tess's reply, "Don't worry. I'm wearing my Captain America T-shirt!"
3. Once the storm front passed and all power was out, we opened our windows to the night and enjoyed the cool, refreshing breeze carried by the storm.
4. Sitting on the porch by candlelight.
5. Thinking of the hikers in the woods all night, we brought two coolers full Gatorade, fruit, ice and other snacks up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to an AT trail crossing. Several hikers stopped, stretched out in the shade and enjoyed the food, especially the fresh fruit. As usual, they exclaimed it was "the best .... they ever tasted!" By this crossing they had already gone 3-5 days in the heat with only air temperature water and dehydrated food. These hikers are the nicest young people you could meet and so appreciative of any support they get. It was cool up there in the shade with the beautiful panoramic view so we were in no hurry to go home to a house without A/C.
6. We use the generator to switch on some lights. Everything looks so artificially bright and strange.
7. Every window is opened wide during night #2 to catch the least bit of cool air. In the stillness we hear the animal sounds of the night. Cows lowing in the distance, coyotes yelping and howling in the hills, screech owls hunting, and faint, gentle bird songs in the dark.
8. In the morning, we hear the neighbors' generators off in the distance and take comfort in knowing we're all in the same boat.
8. Beginning Day #3 without power...we'll see what today brings!