Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scarborough Fair, Freshening Up, In the Night

1. I love to gather herbs from the garden. I pile the leaves into the palm of my hand or I use my apron, pinching and plucking what I need for our meal. After rinsing and patting them dry on paper towels, I snip them in a small bowl with my kitchen shears rather than chop them with a knife. It's easier and there is no cutting board to clean. The rosemary, peppermint and thyme are winter hardy here in Virginia. The dill profusely reseeds itself and the parsley and basil must be planted new each spring. (One parsley plant did overwinter, albeit bitterly.)
2. I bought paint for the exterior doors today. They've become faded and sun bleached and I'm excited at the prospect of freshening them up for fall. I'm even more excited about the door knocker I ordered. More on that when it arrives...
3. I'm awakened at 3:38 a.m. by an odd animal sound outside. I lie still and listen, trying to place what it might be. It's nothing I recognize or have heard before. I go to the open window, sit on the floor and rest my chin on the windowsill. It's a beautiful, peaceful night with a bright moon and a mist that makes everything appear ghostly. I feel privileged to be awake like this, alone with the night. I hear it again; a long, throaty growl coming from the woods. It's not deep like a big animal, but more cat-like. This time I wake Steve and he hears it too. The sound continues on, but it begins to move farther away and after a while I go back to bed. I dream that we've moved from New York to the wild mountains of Virginia.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life in General, Always Saving Me, I'm Impressed

1. It's one of those warm afternoons of late summer. The ceiling fan lazily ticks its rotations, stirring the air in the shaded bedroom. Outside the open window a tractor is cutting hay, its machinery click, click, clicking back and forth across the field. I fold laundry, lulled by the soft repetitions and slowing heartbeat of a fading summer.
2. Even though it's getting too dark to see, I don't want to go inside yet, so I keep mowing. Steve comes out the front door and walks over to me. I stop and turn off the blades to see what he wants. Silently, he leans over, turns on the mower headlights and smiles. Oh! That helps. I look up and smile back.
3. Dinner conversation:
Tess: " Guess what! I can bench-press 55 pounds!"
Audrey: "Sooo, you can lift the bar."
Tess: "No. The bar weighs 45 pounds."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gentle Dawn, For You, The Way Her Mind Works, Mommy!

 1. Morning dawned with beautiful colors painted in the sky.

2. Gifts were deposited at my keyboard while I typed at the computer.

 3. This plastic box was originally filled with all the Legos. Mari wanted to add the pink die to the lot, thinking it was also a block. I told her it didn't match those blocks and we didn't store it with them. She asked if we had more dice and I said it was the only one. I turned back to the computer. A moment later I heard all the Legos being dumped out of their box. When I turned to see what she had done, I saw that she gave the entire box to the pink die. Ah, yes. Organizational skills are a blessing...and a curse.
4. She watches out the window to see who is coming up the drive. A slow smile of recognition spreads over her face. She points at the figure walking up the drive, "Mommy!" she says, as though she is surprised to see her here. She keeps her arm pointed at the target of her affection until she is scooped up into her mother's arms and their joy is complete.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Do Mom's Find Time To Blog??

After a breakfast with friends, the day got even busier. What's a popular gal to do? I found the perfect outfit to wear from my extensive wardrobe, accepted an invitation to visit Aunt Chelsea and did my part for animal awareness with a photo op of me petting the bunnies, (don't these paparazzi ever tire of chasing me around with a camera?) declined a lunch invitation because my schedule was simply too full, shopped a bit, lunched with the grandmother, ran a marathon, splashed in my private pool, performed some of my acting bits for the other aunts, went for a spin in my 'Cozy Coupe', did a phone interview with mom, ran another marathon, attended a buffet dinner where all my favorite foods were served, gave a movie review for "Finding Nemo" for the third time, disassembled the tallest Duplo tower ever built, greeted guests at Pop's Pool Night, ate a huge lemon cookie and then enjoyed a nightcap of dill pickle (yes, really) before winding down with a few good books. I better check on my agenda for tomorrow. I hear there's a pickle stash in the basement.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mari's Visit

Granddaughter Marian is spending five days with us while her mom and dad attend a wedding in Colorado. I've lost count of the ways she has made us laugh. Even if I watch her doing nothing I am still entertained. Now I recall the boundless energy of toddlers and the good kind of exhausted sleep I used to fall into when my own were little. Being a grandparent is new territory for us and Mari lives in another state, so it is still an amazing, new experience each time we see her. She reminds me so much of her mother! In a way, we have a second chance to use our still-developing parenting skills and have a do-over. We're a little better at it the second time around. 

She likes to hide. She is at that wonderful, innocent age when she thinks we can't see her if she can't see us.

Steve shares a freezie pop with her.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Entourage, Snuggly, On Her Toes

1. I shop for groceries alone each week, but my entire family and sometimes friends are invisibly with me. I choose this one's favorite cheese, that one's lunch items, a special meal for a house guest, and treats that are fun for someone to find when they open the fridge or cabinet. I pick out something special for me too. Today it is an avocado.
2. Granddaughter is asleep in her car seat. I gently lift her out and carry her into the house. In her sleepiness, she assumes I am her mother and nestles into my arms.
3. She bounces, hops and dances everywhere so goes. Oh to be 21-months old!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Carpe Diem!, They Pop, Not What I Expected

1. High school and college classes have emptied the house in a flurry of organized excitement this morning. They leave with great expectations.
2. I decided to tackle the jungle that was once the vegetable garden. On hands and knees, I pulled weeds and dying plants, parting through the tall foliage like a tiger on the prowl. When I got to the cherry tomato section, fallen fruit popped under foot as I moved around. It was a little gross at first until it reminded me of bubble wrap, which can be addicting...
3. They returned home after a very long day of classes, one of them careening through the house full of energy, singing and most talkative.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pretty Plant, In a Shoebox, Isn't It Grand!

1. Like everything else, the asparagus has gone to seed. The red berries stand out brightly against the feathery foliage, all glittered with dew.

2. Each morning, the mist is thick and low. It's difficult to get a good perspective on distance and the landscape looks like a diorama, layer behind layer of cardboard cut-outs create depth in the scene.
3. Two little girls play in a trickling creek, lost in a world of rivulets, mud and stones. They look up to greet me and tell me about their world, never considering to turn away from it, but rather to draw me into it along with them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hear It, Feel It, Sisters' Stamp of Approval

1. I woke to the sound of heavy rain. It was a soothing sound and I thought I might remain lying there in bed, just listening. But the thought to have morning coffee on the porch, closer to the rain, seemed like a better idea.
2. Three hours later and it's still pouring. We run from car to door, even using umbrellas. The foyer at church is lined with umbrellas.
3. A new young man has come to visit. (With four daughters, this still remains a phenomenon.) We try to make him feel at home and I think he is only a little bit nervous. In my opinion, it's the boys who aren't at all nervous that I should be worried about.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Steve's Idea, What's Your Best Price, Mexican Fare

1. We used to go for long drives when we were young and penniless. Owning nothing but a car and plenty of free time, we would pack food for the day and explore the back roads of the northeast. This morning's drive was slightly reminiscent of those days as we drove southern roads with the illusion of having all the free time in the world. This is still one of my favorite things to do.
2. The kind of antique shop that is really a hoarder's junk shop. Where I have to squeeze through tightly packed aisles of dusty stuff, poking and lifting, looking for treasure. Nothing is priced, so I ask the owner and she throws a number into the air. I like it when it's done this way.
3. We met up with Daughter #3 and her friend for lunch/dinner at Alejandro's. Between us, we ordered burritos, carnitas (sounds much better when we roll the "r's") and fish tacos. Delicious!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Panzanella, New Color Scheme, Suspended in Time

1. If the temperature stays above 86°F. tomatoes won't ripen on the vine. Now that the temperatures have cooled, we're getting ripe tomatoes again- all at once! We like this bread and tomato salad, especially the crusty bread that soaks up the oil and vinegar.
2. Summer has taken on its golden hue. The greens are fading as nature becomes heavy laden with seed.
3. Steve, Tess and I stay on the porch long into the evening. We sit in a pool of lamplight, darkness enclosing the world beyond the screen. It's so peaceful with the soothing breeze, soft cricket song and the easy companionship of family.

2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
6 (or so) slices of rustic white country bread 9bland or unsalted)

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and torn basil. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss wellto coat evenly.
Cut r tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Place half the bread in a wide, shallow bowl. Spoon on half the vegetables. layer the remaining bread on top and then the reamining vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Toss the salad, then taste to adjust seasonings. If the bread is dry, add a little more oil and vinegar. garnish with a few additional basil leaves. Serve immediately. * This is best when no more than a couple of hours old.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who's Faster?, I Smiled, Cool Program

1. Henri runs up and drops his ball at my feet, stubby tail eagerly wagging. "Throw it! Throw it!" he says with his eyes. "I dare you!"
2. We can go through our entire day seemingly having done nothing much. Yet, if we count the interactions we've had with people; our family, friends, phone calls, emails, neighbors, teachers, librarians, cashiers, strangers, etc., etc., it can amount to dozens. I thought about my "nothing much" day. It was jam packed with life.
3. We crack up at the following line, "More people are killed by kitchen toasters than by sharks."
PBS Inside Nature's Giants

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Big Kids Play, 1,2 and 3, World Record Mandolin Ensemble

1. In a town not far from here... the annual Fiddlers Convention. Is that not one of the happiest sounds or what?!
2. Daughters #2 and #4 built Legos all day. I heard the light, tinkling sound of tiny plastic blocks as piles of them are sifted through. Midway through the day, I called them upstairs for lunch and watched them devour the food and chatter away with Daughter #3. Are they really 15 and 25 years old or am I dreaming?
3. A friend cooked dinner just for us ladies tonight. None of us were allowed to bring anything as she wanted to pamper us with a special evening at her home. It was a gift of oneself, the best kind of gift.
I've also come to realize that ladies over 50 are a riot.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Piano Lessons or the North Pole?, A Visitor, Hunting

1. Her dining room has become Christmas.  A gorgeous pile of beautifully wrapped gifts sit on a side chair, rolls of red foil wrap are ready for cutting on the table, and a box of gifts wait to be covered. It's hot outside, but it's beginning to feel a lot like... ♪
2. Sleek black cat with emerald jeweled eyes chooses me for her latest affection.
3. The evening is devoted to antiques shows on PBS. Tess even admits it makes her want to go find an antique shop. Oh! Which reminds me, today I found an aluminum cookie cutter that I don't have in my collection. Priced right at a dollar!

1.a. * Shh. This evening I ordered two gifts on Amazon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Voices, Gifts from Nature, Late Summer Evening

1. There are some very nice singing voices in our congregation, but I would guess the majority of us are plain, old, mediocre. However, something wonderful happens when we all blend our voices together on Sunday morning. Beautiful song rises up, written in the lyrics here, "as my heart and spirit soar". We sang this today.

2. It is satisfying, in a very basic way, to pluck and handle the various herbs growing in the garden. Chopping releases their scent more fully, bringing their earthy goodness into the kitchen.
3. As the sun leaned toward evening, the air cooled right down again. Steve and I went out to finish some chores in the yard and Tess came out with her camera. She shot some photos which I think captured the evening perfectly.

The last of the tree that fell last week.

Seniorita and Vander Bandy

Sunset out back.

Volunteers from the seed in the bird feeder.

The ending of summer brings everything to seed.

For those who are superstitious, Steve's job is a lucky 13 miles down this road behind our house.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meringue, Renewed Energy, Puttering Away

1. The horse field grows some interesting mushrooms. Other than being five times larger, these are identical to the meringue mushrooms I make for our Buche de Noel at Christmas. (Or I should say, the meringue mushrooms are a perfect imitation of the natural.)

 2. I do have more energy today! Steve and I worked outside, picking up branches and wood from two fallen trees. He went on to chop wood while I puttered here and there. The horses like to greet whoever walks in their field. Here, Vander has unceremoniously knocked over one of the mushrooms as I photographed them.

3. I was so content to be in the kitchen this afternoon. Feeling more like my old energetic self, I made Sunday's dinner today. Now tomorrow will be an easy day of church, rest and play.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Old Faithful, Pink Bottle, Ushering Out the Day

1. Every year I plant one side of the vegetable garden with Zinnias. Each spring I've been tempted to try something different and then by August I'm always glad I went with the zinnias. From two seed packets I get a riot of color, the butterflies love them and they are excellent for cutting. My favorites are the compact ones that feel like pom poms when you pat them.

2. Johnson's baby lotion is the only thing I have on hand to use. I am a little self conscious to be walking around baby-scented, but I love the smell of myself. : )
3. In the pantry I have a can of cream of coconut, pineapple and rum. Tonight we sip Pina Coladas on the porch, listening to the light rain and watching the evening grow dark.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Salad, Already?!, Welcome Home

 1. The vibrant color of this salad makes me happy. It's crunchy, delicious, and refreshing. Perfect for a hot summer's day.

Simply toss 1 can black-eyed peas, 2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob, 2 diced tomatoes, 1 diced avocado, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup diced red onion. Then whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and mix.
2. The high school held one of two schedule pick-ups today. By the mob in attendance right when the doors opened, I'd say these kids are all eager to go back to school. I know mine is.
3. Steve returned home from traveling. An associate invited him to stay at his home his first night away, which made this trip a little nicer than staying in a lonely hotel. Kindness and hospitality can never be overrated.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Full Bloom, Rite of Passage, Holding My Breath

1. The back roads are lined with abundant blooms of Queen Anne's Lace, Chicory, Black-Eyed Susans, Sweet Pea, Thistle and Milkweed. They grow intermingled in natural bouquets. I think how nice that nature has arranged bouquets for every single person that drives along this way.
2. Our youngest received her learner's permit to drive. Most people tell me they vividly remember the excitement they felt on the day they received their learner's. I do remember getting my driver's license and feeling like I had just sprouted wings.
3. I hear a forecast  of cooler air and less humidity for the upcoming weekend. I'm anticipating it as though a grand event is about to occur. I'm counting on it to get me out of this slump and give me a burst of energy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Out for Coffee, Dancing in the Fitting Room, Lavender Scented

1. The ladies met for coffee at Panera to celebrate two birthdays. It was a nice reason to wait and save breakfast in order to have a bear claw and a visit.
2. I had my helpful, fifteen-year-old critic along while I tried on jeans. She favored the tight ones for me, saying they made me look young and stylish. But I don't want to look that kind of young. We laughed at the ones that made me walk stiffly, the bubble-butt pair and the ones that were so long they covered my feet like stockings. I settled for the "boyfriend" jeans because they were nice and comfortable.
3. Mowing the lawn for the first time in months was like revisiting an old friend. It took me a few turns to handle the new mower, but eventually I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful summer evening. It was just like old times, me and the yard.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Third in Succession, I Didn't Know That!, The Beginning fo the End

1. In the summer, garden yields are passed around from neighbor to friend to family. We came into some yellow summer squash via this generous and efficient distribution method.
2. I appreciate all the knowledge available at our fingertips with the invention of the internet. I Googled, "Why aren't my tomatoes turning red?" and "Why are my peony leaves blotchy and black?" and there was my answer!
3. We watched the storm from the porch and enjoyed the breeze it carried. And then something unexpected happened; it kept raining...and raining, straight into the night. I can't remember when it's rained for hours like this. It's another subtle clue that summer is slowly beginning to end.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

One Tree Up, Another Down, Eating Light

1. It's an exciting morning when new trees arrive! Neighbor W. planted five trees on their property and this one on ours. The trees are a huge improvement for both properties. We still have three more hemlocks to dig holes for, but Steve was sidetracked by the following:

2. We had a terrific storm later this afternoon. We watched the sky turn black as it steadily bore down upon us. Wind and rain brought a welcome, albeit brief, change to the monotony of heat and humidity. After it passed, we saw a big old locust tree down on the horse fence. I must say the Horse Guard fencing is built like steel. This tree landed right on the tape, crushing it to the ground, yet the tape never broke.
3. Slices of red and yellow tomatoes, drizzled with a homemade honey-mustard vinaigrette and sprinkled with fresh basil looked pretty on the platter.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Marian, Joy of My Heart

1. Her choice of attire: a dress with a watermelon swimsuit worn underneath, a dozen bracelets on her arms and ankles, some necklaces, and pink sparkly sunglasses that stay on even when she's inside.
2. Aunt Chelsea has taught her to fist bump and say "What's up dog." Later she walks up to Henri (the dog) puts her fist gently to his head and says, "What's up dog".
3. She's crying and sobbing in her crib, not wanting to go to bed. Her mom has picked her up once and the tears were immediately turned off. Now her mom is firm and says it's time for bed. After a few minutes, when the sobbing has turned to hiccups, I plead my case to her mother and she relents,  allowing me to go in and pick her up. I practically run. Nonni to the rescue!