Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Already? Love the Sloggers, Nobody ask me to move

1. Birds have left cherry pits along the garden fence. A telltale sign that the cherries are ripe.
2. After careful thought, I put the Target gift card to good use on gardening items. The absolute best thing I bought are the rubber Sloggers. No more wet feet!
3. Crossing the bucolic campus of Hollins University loses a bit of it's appeal in 96° temperatures. But once we enter Talmadge Recital Hall with its polished wood paneling and air conditioning, I am revived. Tess can practice all she needs and I'll just sit here...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stop and listen, Parting the grass, Invisible

1. Upstairs, far off, I hear her singing a pretty song all to herself.
2. From the tall grass, a deer watches the farmer mow the adjacent field. When she moves, two tiny fawns appear, scampering close behind.
3. The dew was heavy last night and everything is soaked as if it rained. I worked in the garden at 6:30 am. while the fog was still heavy enough to block out the sun. Solitude.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another home that I'm happy to return to, The visitor, Simple evening

1. The music at church has me right where I want to be; joyful and ready to worship.
2. I see an odd, black form out the window and ask aloud, "What is that?" The others turn their heads and one exclaims, "That's a bear!" All seven of us rush at the window just as the bear stands tall on its hind legs. The hunter among us estimates it's a young bear, weighing about 200 pounds. As the bear lumbers closer, we run from window to window and finally we all rush out the door, following it with eyes only, as it runs up the hill. We are a silly-looking bunch.
3. Everyone has gone out for an activity, so Steve and I choose a movie and cuddle up on the sofa to watch it together.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Regaining my bearings, Summertime, Just do it

1. A good night's sleep in my own bed.
2. We've come home to summer. It wasn't here when we left. Now the windows are wide open, tractors are zigzagging across the fields and the porch is warm enough for morning coffee.
3. A bit overwhelmed with chores and the need to stock up on food, I resolve myself to the fact that today I will have to drive out. As long as we're out, we make five stops for the most immediate needs. This will free up tomorrow for relaxing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wild WV, 24 hours, Where I belong, Great kids

1. The mountains and valleys of West Virginia are shrouded in mist and drizzle, revealing nature in its primordial beauty.
2. Steve says his favorite part of the trip is driving in the car together.
3. Home, hOme, HOmE, HomE, HOME!!
4. Chelsea welcomes us home and shows how nice the house is cleaned and even the grass is mowed. I walk into the bathroom and crack up because the towels are like this:

The girls had a fantastic week together. It is a wonderful gift they've given us without even realizing it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

♪ Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis ♫

The arch is much bigger than I imagined, 630 feet tall. You can see tiny, rectangular windows at the top. The tram takes passengers (you'll notice I didn't say "me") to the top for a view of St. Louis and the Mississippi River. This thing actually sways when it's windy as Steve experienced on his evening ride up during an approaching storm.

Built in 1963 -1965

This photo gives some idea of its size. The enormity of it plays around with your head a little bit when you walk around underneath.

Highlights of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Climatron with reflecting pool, sculptures and floating glass onion sculptures

Glass pavilion behind reflecting pools

Formal boxwood garden

Waterfall in Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

Where to?, History, Wish I packed a rain jacket

1. Having a new-found friend to go exploring with.
2. I slide my hand along the wooden hand rail. It guides me down a wide and elegant staircase at the old courthouse where the Dred Scott slavery case was tried in 1857. I imagine the other hands that have slid along this hand rail.
3. Our sunny, warm weather has turned cold and drizzly. We duck inside for a welcome cup of hot coffee.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Counting rivers, Another old place, A lot of littles, Not alone

St. Charles, MO
*A Robin plays in the rain

1. I set my toes on the bank of the Missouri River today.
2. The quaint, cobble stoned town of St. Charles, Missouri. Visited by Lewis and Clark, strolled by me.
3. Each place is set with a miniature chocolate Bundt cake, dripping with chocolate icing. I scan across the ballroom and realize they baked one thousand of these. Hats off to the bakers!
4. The relief and gladness I feel when Steve comes to the room and I'm not alone during the tornado sirens. A funnel cloud is reported over the city so we join humanity down in the lobby to wait it out. Everyone else is going about their business like nothing abnormal is going on. I suppose this too should make me feel better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Soulard, This Bud's for you!, I need to go back for more

1. Old sections of the city are being renovated and brought back to beauty.

2. The tack room (!) at the Anheuser Busch complex in St. Louis. Built in 1885, this stable is still in use. Beautiful Clydesdale horses live in immaculate comfort with stained glass windows and chandeliers.

3. An Italian meal at Charlie Gitto's. The appetizers we shared were my favorite part:
Toasted Ravioli - “ The Original”, Saint Louis favorite, breaded and fried meat filled ravioli.
Portobello Granchi- Baked with Genoa salami, and crabmeat filling
Calamari Fritti - Small squid lightly floured, flash- fried, and served with a citrus chipotle mayo sauce.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thank you Henry Shaw, VIP's, I should have skipped dinner

1. The Missouri Botanical Garden inspires me to unrealistic heights of gardening. But I can copy the topiary that I saw planted with succulents. I have to do it all in baby steps...and live another hundred years.
2. Breakfast in the ballroom, under chandeliers.
3. The dessert bar makes my heart skip a beat. They are bite size creations of sweet delicacies. One has a brush stroke of gold dust on shiny chocolate ganache.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Out in the middle of somewhere, Downtown, Even better

1. Endless miles of Indiana farmland, punctuated here and there by a lone farmhouse in a stand of trees. Far off in the sky a hint of something glittery catches my eye. As we drive nearer, I see that it's a kite flying high on a breezy day.
2. The hotel was built in 1907 and beautifully restored in 2003. The elevators are paneled in rich, dark wood with beveled glass mirrors and brass holdings. I've just stepped into a time machine.
3. The chef has taken an ordinary "All American Breakfast" as the menu calls it, and made it extraordinary with a pinch of herbs and spices.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

70mph, I like sweet things, Banana Boat

1. "Where are you?" she yells through the cell phone. "I don't know!" I yell back. "Steve, where are we?", I turn and ask in a normal voice. He tells me, Kentucky. "Kentucky!" I yell again into the phone. I've always wanted to sort of not know where I was.
2. A pretty glass filled with cold and fruity white Sangria.
3. I'm able to wear the dress more confidently thanks to the tan-in-a-bottle stuff for my legs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In the furrow, Loaded with flavor, Laughter

1. A morning of solitude in the garden. I've been waiting all week for the rain to stop so I could finish planting the vegetable garden. Green beans and zinnias are finally in.
2. I made Karen's recipe for Scalloped Tomatoes. Even with store-bought tomatoes it was fantastic and a big hit with everyone at our place tonight.
3. New York family arrives for a short visit. When you see family so rarely, every visit becomes a celebration. The house and yard are bustling with activity, from food to games and plenty of visiting in between.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good idea, Move!, It's a long story

1. Ikenberry's has some beautiful planters on display. The one filled with herbs inspires me to use one of my large planters the same way. Beautiful and practical.
2. Wow! Turkeys can move faster than I thought.
3. She has been voted, "Friendly to Everyone". I wish I could post the irony of this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Loving the colors, Cocoon, We need food... now!

1. Thick mist settles into the hollows of the mountains. Its white contrasts deeply with the green mountainside backed by a dark gray sky. A short scan of the horizon shows other mountains bathed in beautiful sunshine!
2. Spent an hour waiting in the car with the rain as my companion. I don't bother with wipers. Sound becomes muffled as I watch the world drip and smear through the windshield.
3. She's not accustom to explaining the difference between the Chicken Dollar Menu from the Classic Chicken- crispy vs. grilled. I'm definitely out of my element when I walk into McDonald's, but that's OK.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saigon 1951, Added interest, Cold candy,Spring cleaning- sort of

1. I indulged myself on this rainy afternoon and watched The Scent of Green Papaya. In contrast to yesterday's Arctic landscape, the scenery in this Vietnamese film is green and lush. Beautifully filmed, I was transported to tiled courtyards, hot, humid air, green foliage and frogs underfoot.
2. The rain was different today. It was accompanied by thunderstorms, low and rumbling.
3. M & M's click on my teeth when I drop them into my mouth.
4. I chose this day to wash windows and curtains and I feel really good about getting it done.

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

I read this book slowly, captivated by the life and times of Michelangelo. Historically well researched, this biographical novel is rich with detail. It also includes passages of Michelangelo's poetry and prose. This passage is taken from the time when he paints the Sistine Chapel:

"Sleepless, racked with pain, homesick, lonely, he rose in the inky blackness, lit a candle, and on the back of an old sketch tried to lighten his mood by pouring out his woes:"

I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den-
as cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
or in what other land they hap to be-
which drives the belly close beneath the chin:

My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.

My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
my buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
my feet unguided wander to and fro;

In front my skin grows loose and long; behind
by bending it becomes more taut and strait;
crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:...

Come then, try
to succor my dead pictures and my fame;
since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Perfect! Pretty good- in hindsight, It will need to be done again in two days

1. Walking in circles at the mall trying to think, think, think of the perfect gift for her friend. Suddenly a brilliant gift idea pops into my head and we make a beeline out of the mall to Breuster's ice cream stand!
2. We watch a rather slow moving Russian film. The fact that he sat with me for its entirety made it special.
3. I am so pleased that the morning stayed dry long enough to mow lawn. And then the rains returned...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sun for a short walk, I crack myself up, He solved it

1. I still don't mind the rain. But when the sun briefly breaks through, we're inspired to take a short walk alongside the rainbow it has created.
2. The conversation at lunch: "Me: This rain reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story of the children living on Venus where the sun comes out for only two hours every seven years." "Audrey: Didn't he write Fahrenheit 451?" "Tess: What's significant about F. 451?" "A: Probably just some random number." "Steve: Nooo, it's the temperature at which paper will spontaneously combust." At this point I have a vision and I start laughing too hard to speak. I wipe the tears with my napkin and gasp for air. I finally recover enough to blurt, "The drummer in Spinal Tap spontaneously combusted!" And then I'm laughing all over again.
3. His "notes" today are on Rubrick's cube. He's been playing around with it for two weeks, creating a computer program with the cube laid out flat so he can manipulate it on the screen. ("You've got to be kidding me", was all I could say.) The rest of us have quickly tired of it. When he brings the cube to the lunch table, the kids teasingly remind him, "No toys at the table!"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Echoes, Down the road, Life in town, New neighbors

1. At 6am I take my coffee on the porch to watch the mist and listen to the quiet. A turkey breaks the silence with his call. I follow his voice as he goes from wood to field and then back again with an enormous flapping of his wings.
2. Audrey begins our conversation this morning with, "Last night I almost hit a bear that was as big as a cow."
3. Since we're going to be in town, Chelsea says to stop by for lunch and see their new apartment. They've moved across the courtyard to a bigger place. The renovated Tudor building has an inviting courtyard with a little pond and waterfall and beautiful gardens. We admire all the plantings, visit with neighbors and then go inside for lunch in front of an open window.
4. A pair of house finches claim residence in the trumpet vine. The female fusses and primps her nest while the male inspects above and below. (Men with their attics and basements.) Then he flies to the top of the pergola and sings like crazy while she continues to line the nest.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wrinkle free, After work, You can't judge a book by its cover

1. I'm to leave Tess' dress at her friend's house so they can get ready for the dance together. The mom is out, but the dad is expecting me. I ask if I should lay the dress over a chair and he says, "No, Debbie said I should hang it", and he gingerly takes it from me.
2. A dad comes to the recital in hospital scrubs. When his daughter makes a little mistake, he quickly places his hand on the wife's knee, removing it only after the girl has recovered her place. I can't tell if the gesture was to calm the wife or himself.
3. Young people with lots of tattoos and scary piercings are usually the gentlest souls. Such a one assisted me with my donation at the Goodwill shed today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Planting meals, Expecting a dinosaur to emerge, Our daughter

Hmm, something odd has happened and my last post is gone. This week has been so hectic that I can't recall the details. But good things have happened. They always do.

1. I turned the soil on the other side of the vegetable garden and planted tomatoes. That afternoon, a drenching rain watered them for me. They have been rain-watered every day since : )
2. The last two mornings have been thick with mist.
3. As I sat waiting in the car, rain pounded the roof and pelted the trees. Yet, in all this noise, it was incredibly peaceful.
4. Her art teacher made a very nice speech about her. The school board honored her with an award and everyone clapped for her. She then proceeded to tell the audience that her award winning photograph was an accident.

Who will build here?, Love the gadget, Change of pace

1. The trumpet vine climbs up and around the picture window in the kitchen. From inside we can watch the birds come and go, scoping it out for their nest.
2. The bakery has large, chocolate covered strawberries for sampling. They also have a new do-it-yourself bread slicer. I think I'll hang out in the bakery today : )
3. We had a Chicken Tostada Salad for dinner. Fresh, summery and healthy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's visit there, We hate shoe shopping but we do it anyway, Steamed

1. She rolls the "r" when she says, Montemurro.
2. The odds were stacking against us as in our search for new gym shoes. (The other pair were stolen from her gym locker.) But we persevered through hunger, exhaustion, the pressure of running a mile without gym shoes tomorrow, and outrageous prices until we found a pair. Check that off the list.
3. I was so wired after we got home that I ironed a pile of laundry at 9pm.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New mom, Chelsea did the baking, No naps today

1. Claire phoned. In her voice I can tell she is happy being a mom.
2. Cheslea baked a loaf of strawberry bread, sliced it into three layers, then filled those layers with a cream cheese frosting and slices of strawberries. It was delicious with our coffee this afternoon.
3. The weather cleared enough for us to have dessert on the porch, followed by a couple of fun rounds of Bocci Ball.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I can't wait to play outside, Nature is watering for me again, Sweet voice

1. I'm continually thankful for these cool spring temperatures. It makes gardening pleasurable. So far there are no gnats, which is a miracle.
2. I trimmed our six, huge barberry shrubs to be a bit more eye appealing. Last year I had to chop them to hideous shapes in order to eradicate a tent caterpillar. They've made a great comeback and I'll be on the lookout for those disgusting caterpillars this year.
3. After all the mowing, weeding, trimming and enjoyment of the garden today, the rains have come again. I like this timetable.
4. When Claire phones, the baby babbles and talks in the background. When Claire stops talking, the baby stops. I've never heard such a vocal baby!

Friday, May 6, 2011

American composer, There they are!, Special order

1. My music to drive by is Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring. I like to imagine it was written in the sun and shadow of our beautiful mountains because it captures their essence perfectly.
*The audio I've highlighted includes only the Simple Gifts portion. I've written more about it here.
2. I've begun searching in Ancestry.com to create my family tree. When the 1930 census image comes into focus, I see my dad's name listed and I get goosebumps.
3. Everyone's gone out and I'm alone for dinner. So I make a frittata for one, throwing in broccoli, red bell pepper, onion and pepper jack cheese. Yum!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Treats for teachers, Multiplied, Fields of green

1. Moms come and go, dropping off baked goods at the school office. On my way out, I pass a dad carrying in a pan of bar cookies. He leaves a wake of nice aftershave among the typical school smells.
2. Sharing perennials from my beds with a friend who is starting out in a new house. Plastic pots from previous purchases get refilled with my plants and loaded into the car, heading to their new home.
3. No need to hurry home, so we stop by the soccer fields to watch a friend play. It's a beautiful evening to sit outside on the green grass and visit as we watch the game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A storm clears,Feeling small

I walk up the hill to see the mountains and clouds. This view is to the north, past the vineyard to the Peaks of Otter, which are still shrouded in clouds.

I particularly like this view because it makes me feel small. When life crowds in and details bog me down, I climb up the hill and look out over the earth. It's like stepping away from an Impressionist painting; when you step back from it, you can see the overall composition more clearly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All shapes and sizes, Like Alice after the rabbit, Thank you Mother Nature

1. Removing my gardening gloves, I pour the seeds into the palm of my hand.
2. The crazy trumpet vine sidetracks me as I search for the source of its elusive, underground runners. I'm digging up gravel and clay, crawling around on my knees, yanking on vines and overall just playing in the dirt.
3. By evening the rain comes to water all that's been planted today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I would love to see their garden, Hunting, A conversation

1. The old gentleman pushes a cart overflowing with colorful plants. His wife isn't far behind. She scans the greenhouse to see if there's anything else they should have.
2. I kneel on the ground, checking under tables for the yellow tomatoes I like. Bingo! There are four left hiding under here. I have dirty hands and knees, perspiration clings to my shirt, my hair freaks with the humidity, but oh what fun!
3. My mom has the amazing ability to recall lyrics or play any song by ear, even if she's only heard it once. She recites the lyrics to this song from 1949 for Claire, who has said how much she likes being a stay-at-home mom.
I wonder if this could be a hit on the radio today? Homework by Irving Berlin

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Must be the weather, Hearty and good, Entertained

1. Nothing to do but give in to the laziness that has settled over our house today. Read all afternoon.
2. Split pea and ham soup is one of those "make something out of practically nothing" meals. It was delicious and satisfying.
3. A good drama aired on PBS tonight called South Riding.