Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cooked to perfection, It boils down to this, Volunteerism

1. My second time successfully baking the bacon. I will never, ever fry bacon in a pan again.
2. Huge mounds of raw vegetables condense into six, pint-size jars of relish. There's a little bit of green tomato relish leftover, so I have it on top of smoked Gouda and crackers for lunch. It is so worth the effort.
3. We have many people, including teens, successfully working together on building projects without one, appointed leader. In theory, this should spell disaster. On the contrary, everyone is happy, jovial, and getting the work done in a beehive of activity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where isn't he?, All lined up, Scheduling the year

1. During dinner conversation it came to light that all three of us had encounters with Mr. B.'s family in different areas of the community today. Coincidence? Too funny!
2. Checking off supplies and ingredients for a last day of canning tomorrow.
3. Tess' piano teacher has kindly gone the extra mile to make her lessons convenient for our long drive. These little conveniences add up to a big help by the end of the week.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shopping styles, Entrusted with the phone, I'm a stranger...or am I?

1. It's daughter #3's turn to have a shopping trip. She is efficient in her approach to shopping and makes beelines to exactly what she wants. None of this wandering aimlessly nonsense and I am thankful.
2. She insists on carrying her own shopping bags, but she allows her spiffy phone to go in my purse.
3. While my daughter uses a dressing room, the sales clerk chats with me. The conversation begins with the subject of their clothing line and sizing. Before long, she tells me her story about obesity, alcoholism, a car wreck, her girlfriend's heroin addiction, a child caught in the middle and financial hardship. These are all very difficult things to overcome, yet her's is a story of victory. Today she is a happy, successful, (thin!) young lady with no regrets. I'm happy to offer her encouragement and praise.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nowadays they perform Lady Gaga, On hold, Becca and Zach

1. Amongst our cabinet of sheet music we found a cantata for St. Joan D'Arc. Tucked inside the front cover was a music program from Richfield Springs Central School, 1938, where the cantata was performed. It's an ambitious program for a little country school and I imagine the rehearsals, the scene at the high school auditorium that April evening, the excitement of parents gathering in the audience... I love finding old things : )
2. If I can't get to the computer, it means there's a guest in the guest room. That's always a good thing.
3. Our daughter's friend is married this weekend and we attend the garden party celebration. A local band plays lively music on a hay wagon-turned-stage. People are dancing on the grass, food and drink are in abundance, and Irene provides dramatic cloud cover with no rain!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Music to drive by, On his way home, Go JR!

1. It was a good driving day, music-wise that is.
2. He phoned from Charlottesville to ask if we wanted bagels. Sure!
3. She and a friend go to their first high school football game tonight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Banana bread, A new CD, Sad eyes

1. Ripe bananas are baked into a sweet bread for this weekend's breakfast. I'm not a huge fan of banana bread, but the Silver Palate recipe is an exception and the kitchen smells wonderful.

8 Tbl. unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c whole wheat flour
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/4 cups - 1 1/2 cups)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. (you may use a Bundt pan)
2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well.
3. Sift flour, soda, salt together, stir in whole wheat flour, add to butter mixture, mixing well.
4. Fold in bananas, vanilla, walnuts.
5. Pour into pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min, then on rack.

2. My Amazon order with the new Fleet Foxes CD arrived. Tomorrow is driving day, so I'm saving it until then. I can't wait to run errands!
3. Henri gets awful sweet and cuddly when the thunder rumbles overhead. I'd rather he wasn't afraid, but I don't mind reassuring him with hugs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The gift of music, A++ Peaches, A spring in her step

1. Tess' piano teacher posts videos of her students on youtube. I'll never tire of hearing her play this pretty song by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
2. Our neighbor gave us peaches grown at Saunders Brothers Farm Market. They are larger and tastier than any we've ever had. It's a treat just to smell them in the box.
3. A trip to the mall for something new to wear gives her a little boost of confidence for the first day of high school.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New beginnings, Cracking us up, Paid $1.50- worth $6000

1. One by one the girls phone me at the end of the day to tell about the first day of classes, the baby, and generally to catch up on things.
2. Cutie pie ominously exclaims, "Oh my!", sounding more like a 40 year-old than her two year-old self.
3. I love Antiques Roadshow. I have to start going to yard sales.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On the river, Eye appealing, Together

1. We spent a beautiful day slicing through the water of the James River on kayaks. It was exhilarating to try something new like this. These little vessels are easily managed and I quickly got the feel of maneuvering with the paddles. Peering through clear water at rocks below, seeing turtles slap into the water, watching a Blue Heron rise from the water's edge, and getting splashed with cool water as we scampered through rapids were part of the fun.
2. Audrey has set a beautiful vase of flowers on the table. It was one of the bridesmaid's bouquets from a wedding she attended. They also had cute guest favors, little canning jars of apple butter!
3. Steve, Tess and I take an evening walk together.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life, Ruby in the rough, Partners

1. The local men, mostly farmers in jeans and overalls or retired guys, congregate on the porch of the little country store before work. They look happy and laid-back and I imagine the conversation goes something like this, " Have you heard the one about...?"
2. Beets: Dirt crusted, tough-looking, hard as rocks. Transformed into beautiful, ruby red slices in jars. Just like gems of the earth.
3. Steve takes on the many little odds and ends jobs around the house. The kind of little tasks that, when combined, eat up a lot of time. I'm thankful to be freed of them today!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Understanding, Great movie, Ideal weather

1. The human mind has the ability to learn anything from a book, anything! From repair manuals to theology. I love the, "Aha!" moments when the words make sense and I am enlightened.
2. The ladies meet for lunch and then walk over to the movie theater to see "The Help". It's a great movie and true to the novel. The casting was perfect, the sets were amazing and the acting superb.
3. Warm days and cool nights.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

They found their treats, Thankful for these old stand-bys, Ice cream makes it better

1. Finches, wearing the bright yellow of the sunflower, carry on the color after the flower has faded. They and the Mourning Doves enjoy the seed heads I've left on the ground.
2. Now is the time for the marigolds to shine. As everything else begins to look tired, the marigolds puff up and dazzle the eyes with their brilliant oranges and yellows. They hem the raggedy vegetable garden, determined to be beautiful, no matter the carnage behind them.
3. The teens have an ice cream social to mark the beginning of school. It's a perfect evening for badminton and volleyball and ice cream with all the toppings. A bunch of us moms migrate to the porch and we enjoy the evening alongside the kids.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wellspring, James River, A local resident

1. I walked around the building site of our little country church this morning.
2. Daughter #4, our last, begins high school this year. Tonight was orientation and all the teachers were out to greet the new students. A couple of teachers asked after our other daughters who previously attended school here. Our high school boasts around 520 students, which makes it fairly intimate as high schools go.
3. A black bear emerges from the corn field and moves across the road. I am hypnotized by it's "blackness" and thrilled by its size! It casually turns its head to look at us and then crashes into the underbrush on the other side of the road. I'm glad we're inside the car and I note how cautiously the motorcyclist behind us is watching the bear. I cannot get over how black the bear is. It contrasts so starkly with all the greens and grays in nature.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer breeze, Simple tasks, In the dirt

1. I do the ironing in front of an open window where a cool breeze gently wafts in.
2. Snipping basil, picking cherry tomatoes, and whisking olive oil make up part of the tortellini salad. The act of creating the salad is as satisfying as eating it.
3. Shadows are already long when I go to work in the garden after dinner. There are no gnats, nor sweat, nor burning sun to make the task unpleasant and my mind is free to wander.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When he makes funny noises, Money Plant, Growing exponentially

1. Grandpa time with Mari. Gosh, it brings back memories of when our own girls were babies.

2. B. gave me some Money Plant stems she found growing by the roadside. I love peeling the papery layers away, revealing a tissue-paper-thin center. Peeling these is as addictive as popping bubble wrap. I saved the seeds if anyone would like some.

3. Our family numbers nine now, plus a boyfriend whom I count as ten. I treasure these rare Sundays when we are all together.

Friday, August 12, 2011

These have found a home, Green Tomato Relish, The weekend

1. A few years ago I found these bookplates at the second hand bookstore. They are by artist Diana Thorne. Since then, I've found a complete illustrated guide to dogs with more of her adorable sketches and drawings. These will be framed and have their place in the guest room I recently painted.
2. Chelsea spent a day here canning green tomato relish. The house smelled of onions, peppers, tomatoes, and sweetness for an entire two days. (She made a LOT.) We were spooning it onto everything, including our macaroni and cheese. Wow, it took the mac 'n cheese from boring to fantastic! I need to make more of my own once the garden decides not to ripen any more tomatoes.
3. I spent the day with purpose, preparing for the kids to be here for the weekend and to have some friends over for dessert tonight. Playing house is one of my favorite games.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A new groomer, Camaraderie, Circadian rhythm

1. He collapses on the passenger seat, his energy sapped from the anxiety of a new experience. Poor little guy. I keep my hand on his neck, lightly stroking his new velvet coat as I drive us home.
2. It's hit or miss at the laundromat when choosing a good washer. My front loader is leaking water and the owner advises me by phone to kick the door shut. I hesitate about kicking the equipment and a nice young man offers to kick it for me. Before he leaves, he tells me which is the good dryer. I pass this information along to the next lady who comes in after me and she's appreciative of the information.
3. Steve and I fan out over the property, mowing and trimming into the evening. A full moon rises over the east hills and I notice that dusk descends a bit earlier. The air hints of fall so I plug in the patio lights to cheer myself and stake my claim on a bit more of summer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My favorite painting accessory, Bumping bottoms, Feng shui

1. When we were building our home eight years ago, Steve whacked together this handy painting bench out of scraps lying around the building site. I love this thing! I used it to paint another room this week. It's sturdy, stable, just the right height for reaching the top of the wall, and my paint can sits within reach atop the upper bucket.
2. Four ladies simultaneously cleaning one kitchen. This is how work becomes fun.
3. I rearranged the furniture in the newly painted room and it makes a huge difference in function and eye appeal. Why didn't I do this sooner?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Still humid, From dark to bright, Not to waste it

1. Steve and I walked at 6:30 this morning. Henri was overjoyed to be included.
2. I purchase a gallon of paint, carrying home tremendous possibilities in a can. I love the way a simple color change can transform a room.
3. Someone left the pina colada to freeze in the blender jar. I chipped away at it and it and filled my bowl with an Italian ice pina colada.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flipping through magazines, Mr. Grumpy, Complete

1. I gave myself permission to sit and do nothing much today. I was the solo driver yesterday, staring at Interstate 81 for ten hours and clutching the wheel through torrential rain. By tomorrow, my head will be straight again.
2. I take Ingrid-the-Bunny out on the porch to play. He does this funny thing where he runs and kicks his back legs out. Then he stretches his body out and reclines on the cool cement floor.
3. The rest of the family drove home today. I'm happy and relieved when they are off the highway and safely home.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Going Back

1. The ten hour drive turned out to be a breeze thanks to a good murder-mystery on audio.
2. A train runs around the base of a perfectly rounded hill. It looks exactly like a miniature someone would build, except it's the real thing.
3. Grabbed an order of Gene's Fish Fries on my way in.
4. Steve and I celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss. Not exactly bliss, but what good is it to celebrate something perfect? That would be too easy.
5. Going home is heart-wrenching at times. The ghost of childhood lurks under the surface of years that have taken their toll and "progress" that has uglified everything. I prefer to remember it as it used to be, peering into the old, dark places to see it.
6. I do some work for my mom around the old home place. It's mostly maintenance, but it makes her happy.
7. My sister comes for breakfasts and dinners. Now we are three.
8. After a week, I am restless to get back to Virginia. I am thankful for this option and I go...or is it come?