Monday, September 29, 2014

Light and Dark, Who's Your Decorator?, Halloween Cat

1. Early morning fog settled in all the valleys. I drove to work through an alternating landscape at every hill and vale.
2. The colors in this waiting room are a treat for the eyes. One room has walls painted a soft lime green and the adjoining room wears an equally pretty sky blue. Soft furnishings include pillows in braided lime green velvet and others textured in bright pink. It's a feast of both color and texture and it's beautifully done.
2a. I wish it could be a sure sign that the dentist is good. : )
3. Tess's piano teacher has the prettiest black cat I've ever seen. He/she is petite in size with pure black fur and emerald green eyes.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out to Lunch, Typical, Back in the Zone

1. We met up with friends at the Natural Bridge Hotel for lunch. It smells old when you walk in there- the good kind of antique-shop old.
2. The red faced, perspiring lady trying to drag two little goats up the road on a leash asked every smiling driver that drove by, "Did you lose some goats?"
2a. The lady had no idea goats were as stubborn as donkeys. If it wasn't for their pitiful cries, she would have left them to the coyotes. She threatened them as much while they balked their way up the road.
2b. She discovered that these goats chase cars. Putting that knowledge to good use, the lady's daughter drove her car, with flasher lights on, as an escort for the goats (and the lady at the end of the leash). The goats ran after the car forcing the lady to run, too. Now they were getting somewhere!
2c. The lady was relieved when the goat's owner finally drove up. The owner put them in the back seat of her car, leaning in to get them around the baby car seat. "Thank you!", the lady said to the owner. It seemed a silly thing to say, rather than the owner saying it. But, the lady was truly grateful for the goats to be gone.
3. Where were we? Oh yes, baking apple crisp and canning apple butter. That's much better.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An Early Autumn Landscape

1. Apple butter simmers overnight in the crockpot. When it has turned from golden to mahogany, I seal it into little jars and it's a treasure.
1a. I ran out of canning lids and Steve offered to drive out right way to get more.
2. It was a beautiful, early fall day in the garden. I pottered around, switching out the spent annuals with lively mums and pansies.
2a. Plants are still in bloom everywhere. The leaves are beginning to change color and it's interesting to see the two coexist.
3. I spoon warm applesauce over a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream. It tastes like apple pie รก la mode.

Lynn at Good Things Happened sent me this clay tray. I use it to hold fresh water for bees or any little creatures who might need a drink.

Otto Van Luyken Laurel is in full bloom. The blossoms have a very sweet scent and we saw a honeybee on them.

These sweet little Gardenias are also blooming. I have to get down on my hands and knees to smell them, but they're worth it. : )

Loverboy needs to go home. Anyone want to buy a stallion? He's not ours, but he is for sale.

The Forsythia puts out a few blooms with changing leaves.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

No Shoes, Stepping Out, Answers

1. Music echoes through the hall as I approach the music room. The keyboard is set on a steel drum sound and Mrs. C. is bouncing on her bench while she plays a lively Jamaican tune. The children's singing is a carefree sound. Glancing down, I see Mrs. C.'s socks. She's taken her shoes off.
2. It's been a week of mild fall weather, beautiful sunsets, and soft breezes.
3. A friend and historian has finally found an answer to a search she's been on for many years. Read here about Pvt. Samuel Helms. It's a fascinating story and I can imagine an historical fiction novel written from it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Day in Song and Pictures

1. I'm sitting in the living room, drinking my morning coffee and watching the news. I can hear Tess singing in the shower upstairs. I push the mute button so I can listen to her pretty voice. It beats the news.
2. Throughout the morning, teachers and staff stopped by the office to pick up their mail. I had just distributed class photos to all their boxes which included our own personal mug shots. One by one, I began to notice that each teacher had the same reaction. They would take a peek at their photo, shake their heads, grumble something in disgust, and walk away.
2a. After viewing my own photo, I commented to M. that I definitely should have bought the full coverage make up in Raleigh last weekend.
3. In contrast, later this evening, I pour old family photos out of an envelope onto the counter in search of something. These candid shots of my sister dancing on a picnic table, family gatherings at tables laden with food, my dad flexing his muscles, these all make me smile.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Contains Honey, Eighteen!, Last Harvest

1. Drats. I knew I shouldn't buy the candy's too fun to eat. I have the addicting habit of biting off the wide, yellow bottom first.
2. Tess plugged in the twinkle lights that I bought for her upcoming birthday party. They're orange like candy corn. When she found the extra light that makes them twinkle, her eyebrows went up in a mischievous way. She just had to make them twinkle.
3. I quickly picked the last of the green beans before it got dark. (Which is too early, by the way!)
3a.. W. came across the field with a bag of goodies from the farm store: apples, summer squash, zucchini and broccoli.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday in Raleigh

1. Jack comes looking for me with a book in his hand. He wants me to read him an illustrated version of The Little Drummer Boy. I sing it rather than read it and he likes that.
1a. I love reading a book to a child on my lap. Mari's favorite books are "Fancy Nancy".
2. The shopping options are endless in Raleigh. There is so much more than we would ever need. But, we had fun mending the gaps in Steve's wardrobe. The crowds of humanity, the three sales people per every customer, the dizzying array of merchandise, it left me giddy.
3. The quiet peace of church was an oasis in the midst of a busy weekend. The pastor took an ancient text, the Book of Daniel, and made it applicable to the strife and war in our world today.
3a. I notice that Jack is very keen on the music.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Goodie Bags, Jack, Apples and Caramel

1. In the tradition of my mother and grandmother I brought the grandchildren a goodie bag. We've always made it a habit that the children depart (or grandmother arrives) with a little bag filled with treats.
2. Jack the toddler is now Jack the little boy. He positions himself right in front of a person to get their attention and then he talks. He sought Steve out to show him his pajamas.
2a. Sometimes Claire interprets for us.
3. All weekend long, the house was filled with the aroma of apples. We brought Claire two bushel bags filled with drops and she had applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie all going at the same time.
3a. She also made this amazing sea salt caramel.  You know what I'm making tonight : )

Friday, September 19, 2014

Winding Down the Week

1. Henri was due for a grooming and B. offered to show me how to DIY (and save $45!) Henri was mostly chill for the experience and now he looks very dapper.
2. J. was using his chain saw back in the woods. It sounded like fall.
2a. Steve helped J. the following night and came home with a truck bed full of winter wood. It's Ash and it smells nice to walk past the wood pile.
4. Claire told the grandchildren I was coming to visit. She wrote me and said, "Mari is so excited you are coming. Before bed she was playing "a little game of nonnie" and pretending to drive to your house." Grandchild love is different from any other love I know. It's a joyful love, boundless and fun. To know that a little child loves me in a big way, like a celebrity, well... it's humbling. I'll do my best to return it in kind.
5. It used to be that Steve would often play DJ while I worked in the kitchen. I asked him to play DJ tonight while I cleaned up after dinner and then baked cookies. Here are two of the several selections he played. It's the variety that makes it fun.  : )

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beautiful Galleries, I Want What They're Having, Too Funny!

Just a stick...
...until you look closer.
  1. I returned from my walk with treasures...a pocketful of acorns and a beautiful stick.  The intricate patterns are tunnels made by bark beetles and other insects and they're called galleries. I think the designs look like a combination of  ancient writing and folk art.
1a. This is my second such stick so, I think I've begun a collection. I picked up the first stick on an island on Lake George, New York. It's so beautiful, I could never bear to throw it away so I've hauled it around with us for twenty five years.
2. The local, very nice, retirement home donates its old menus as scrap paper to our school. (An entire box of it.) I pull some out for menu ideas: Lobster Bisque, Summer Tuscan Salad, Coconut Cake, etc.
3. Oh my goodness, this blogger's videos made me laugh!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making It Up Later, Fit for a King, I'm Out Here!

1. It was one of those mornings when I woke at three a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. I muddled through work on the promise of an afternoon nap. I arrived back home, foggy headed, where Henri joined me on the ugly recliner for a one hour, blissful nap.
2. Dinner would be late and we had to wing-it. Thank goodness for B.'s fresh eggs. We had Western omelets that were so good, I wouldn't have replaced them with any other fare.
3. Squeezing the last few minutes of daylight to dusk on the porch and watching the day come to a close. Any mild enough weather for porch time is icing on the cake at this stage of the season.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Men Playing Games, Nut Gathering, From Long Ago

1. Whenever I see Steve run it makes me smile for the oddity of it. It is a rare and unusual sight which prompts us to call out, "Look! Daddy's running!".
2. There's a huge chestnut tree whose branches hang over a fence and into the town park. Hand-sized, spiky green hulls split open and reveal smooth, mahogany chestnuts. I carry one of the chestnuts around in my pocket where I can finger it's smoothness. Every so often I take it out and admire it's wood-grained color.
3. A neighbor, whom I knew in Birmingham fifteen years ago, phoned me out of the blue. I have not spoken to her since we moved away from there, but I think of her often. Oh, that accent is something else and I loved hearing it and her! Her little boy was a little slip of a four year old when I knew him. She tells me he is now over six feet tall and weighs two hundred and seventy pounds. We shared a good laugh over that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feeling Creative, Ginger, Narnia in Fincastle

1. Spending a rainy, dreary Saturday morning in a creative environment somehow feels just right. Not at an art studio, but at our local home improvement store. Talk about inspiration!
2. I chopped a pound of fresh ginger in the food processor. It smelled so good that I continued to inhale deeply from the bowl after I emptied out the ginger. Steve brewed a batch of ginger beer for me, experimentally. We'll see how it turns out.
2a. Coincidentally, I baked hermit cookies today and they're filled with candied ginger. I kept a few pieces of the candied ginger aside to eat.
3. Our local, historical Fincastle Presbyterian Church hosted a C.S. Lewis weekend. Tonight we heard Will Vaus speak on his book, "The Hidden Story of Narnia". An excellent speaker, the Reverend Vaus is a C.S. Lewis authoritarian who has written several books. Click here for one of his blog posts on the subject.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Week That Blew Right By

1. I experimented by planting a second crop of green beans in July and it worked! I'm harvesting green beans this week. This was unheard of in my New York garden.
2. I yanked out the spent tomato vines and left two standing. The bright marigolds and zinnias that were hiding in the jungle are now revealed.
3. Finding a Netflix movie in the mailbox.
4. I sort the forms that parents have returned to school. One question asks if the child has any allergies. One mom checks "Yes" and writes, "Homework and sister."
Another form asks for volunteers. A mom writes, "Yes. As long as the baby doesn't come first." I love these little glimpses into daily lives and I appreciate the humor.
5. When I run over the black walnut hulls with the lawnmower they release a pungent, earthy scent.
6. I swapped sleeveless, linen tops for long sleeved blouses in the storage closet. It's the "changing of the guard".
7. I met up with six ladies for lunch who ranged in age from their thirties through seventies. Everyone had much to talk and laugh about and there was no generation gap at all.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Out of Earth's Sorrows, Bittersweet, Just Do It

1. Oh, how I look forward to these songs of prayer on Sunday.

2. Sure I'll open a text at 12:30 AM. Someone is coming home. : )
3. Time and time again, my bad attitude is readjusted with no help from myself. I simply put one foot in front of the other and move forward, even grudgingly, and I am blessed. There's got to be a lesson in this.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

His Own Method, What Would You Do If..., The Last Two

1. Steve used a harness to hang out the second and third floor windows to wash the mildewed north side of the house. He rigged himself to a sawhorse and a two by four which would catch him should he give way. I fussed and fretted. He lived. The house is sparkling clean.
2. We were hanging out on the porch with two daughters and their husband and boyfriend tonight when somebody said, "Go get the jar with 'Our Family Dinner Questions'" in it. (Available HERE). We had fun with that. People's answers to these (sometimes corny) questions can be quite revealing. For example, Steve's super power is being offensive and my dream house would be where all my girls and their families live with us. The kids told me that was just creepy.
3. Tess and I were tired and went to bed, so Steve and Tess's boyfriend ended up being the last ones sitting out there together. They stayed up and chatted for a little while. I'm glad Ian is comfortable with Captain Offensive.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Not Looking Forward to Hunting Season, Enough Already!, Paint Like the Master

1. You know you live out in the country when... the hole in your roof is from a bullet.
2. I am thankful for air conditioning each and every day during this blasted heat wave.
3. We watched a very interesting movie tonight, Tim's Vermeer. Even with technology I don't think I could paint a Vermeer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Love a Project, On a Lighter Note, Smile!

Roosting boxes are larger than regular nesting boxes to accommodate a lot of birds.

The dowels serve as perches for all the bluebirds that will take shelter inside during the winter. I'll post a photo when it's finished.
1. A wide variety of birds live around our property and we enjoy watching them throughout the seasons. So, gaining inspiration from the "Birdhouses for Sale" sign on the highway, Steve is building a nesting box for the Bluebirds. Tonight I "helped" him.
1a. We plan to build a variety of boxes and houses to attract the Screech Owls and Martins and perhaps some others.
2. Ending the day with two episodes of The IT Crowd lightens my mood considerably. (I think I've had it with all the dramas...the daily news is about all the bad news I can process every day without adding recreational drama to my brain.)

3. The students are all spiffy and shiny for school pictures today. What a job the two photographers have. They have to coax four hundred bouncy little people to sit still and smile.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Let's Try This, Nothing to Fear, Plunged Into Darkness

1. I took Tess to Marshall's to try and fix her wardrobe crisis. (I strongly dislike mall shopping and look for ways to avoid it.) Our skepticism quickly turned to joy as she found many unique items that fit her style. Hint: Lucky Brand.
1a. I found something for me, too!
2. Little Henri tried to hide under my legs when the veterinarian came in.
3. A strong storm rolled in just before bed time. It allowed us just enough time to finish washing up and climbing into bed before the power went out. I call that perfect timing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

After Writing This I Realized It's All About Food- Sheesh!

1. I held a jar of peach jam up to the window to admire its jewel toned color. It's infinitely more special when you make it yourself. I could potentially become a hoarder when it comes to glass jars filled with pretty food.
2. I made our macaroni salad with tiny bow tie pasta. (It's more fun to eat.) Heritage Family Market has a nice selection of pasta along with a lot of other great foodstuff.  
3. Audrey and Jared came for dinner and we took full advantage of having a Monday with no work.
3a. The peach cobbler cooked to an intense color of orange/red/peach.