Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Whooooo, Driving Companion, Miss Me?

1. The wind eerily moans at the window sash. The furnace damper bangs open and shut. Wind gusts  howl through the woods and slam into the back of the house. My cozy home sounds like a set for a Stephen King movie. I do not like scary movies, but these sound effects are pretty cool.

"Give me what I want and I will go away." Stephen King, Storm of the Century

2. Neighbor W.'s rain gauge caught over 2.5 inches of rain yesterday. Most of it fell between 5 and 9 PM., just when I happened to be out driving. My windshield wipers were going full speed and large sprays of water rose up from my wheel wells. But I fretted not. The soothing voice of Dave Davies on NPR's Fresh Air spoke matter-of-factly inside the dark cabin of my car as he interviewed William H. Macy. I imagined a perfectly normal world going about its business somewhere.
3. Home! I walk in and Steve says, "I was just going to call you."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I had not seen a great deal accomplished in the name of dignity, ever.        
An American Childhood, Annie Dillard

Run With Me!, At Least I Know It's Cleaned, It's a Man's Prerogative to Change His Mind

1. Nature throws down the challenge. "I dare you to keep up with me!", she says. She glazes our path with ice one day then sends us running out the door, rejoicing at hints of spring, the next. I accept the challenge.
2. I won't call it spring cleaning, but I cleaned things I don't usually clean every week.
3. I've been carefully planning my battle strategy. How to sell Steve on the idea of paneling the porch ceiling after he's already nixed the idea on the first approach. For days, even weeks, I weigh my options, strategically arm my weaponry, draw up an agreeable plan. Before I'm able to execute it, he walks into the room and says he and friend J. have talked about it and J.'s ordering the wood to be cut. I'm confused. Have I won or lost?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Catching Up, Welcome, Nanook and the Fur Trader

1. The one hour I waited in the parked car was well spent on some important reading.
2. The air is friendly and warm this evening. I walk Henri with no jacket.
3. Like most people, lyrics often pop into my head with word triggers. Tonight, I absentmindedly started washing dishes without my glasses on when I realized, "I can't see...." Except, instead of saying it, I sang it in my best Frank Zappa voice. Tess heard me and laughed, so we put the album on to hear the entire ballad. (My lines arrive at the 4:40 time mark.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dare I Hope? And Together We Sing..., I'm Sure It's Healthy

1. Of course! I'm an optimist by birth.
2. I didn't sing along at church this morning. It was hard not to. I was singing in my head (and my feet) though. It turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise, listening and soaking in all the beautiful voices, melodies, and harmonies. What a wonderful, different perspective that was.

3. Sundays are sometimes an 'anything goes' kind of day. If most of the kids aren't here, I won't bother to cook. Tonight we had a Seven Layer Taco Dip with tortilla chips for dinner. (The Private Selection brand tortilla chips from Kroger are better. They're not as salty and are very light and crisp.)
3.a We went to a Virginia Tech Ice Hockey game. That's always fun!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Am I a Little Crazed?

1. On warm, muggy, summer nights our parents let us stay out to play long after dark. We rode our bikes in and out of the pools of light cast by the streetlights. Light, dark, light, dark, alternating as fast or as slow as our legs would pump. Today reminded me of that, in and out of comfort, light, dark, light, dark. If I remembered to keep track of the time and took another dose of meds before the previous one wore off, the pools of light merged together.
1.a. Steve caught me looking at the clock, a little confused and counting on my fingers. I don't remember what he asked me, but I recall snapping back that I was keeping track.
2. I was distracted from the pain and felt better if I moved around and kept busy. So... I painted a door, scrubbed two bathrooms, washed the floors, did four loads of laundry, washed the sofa slipcovers, baked cookies, walked the dog, fixed a light dinner, typed up study notes, and more. It was a major fail at bedtime, though.
3. I think it's funny when people ask me to rate pain on a scale from 1 to 10. I always ask if childbirth is included on that scale. Because that's a game-changer if it is.

Friday, January 25, 2013

We Pause From Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I was premature in my assessment. The toothache returned with a vengeance and drives me to distraction. Pain meds barely help and I'm on autopilot for the weekend. I'm thankful for anything at all that I get done. The high point of my day is curling up with a hot water bottle to keep the chill away and wearing my softest leggings and sweaters. It's snowing again, so I'm also thankful that everything is cancelled. My goal is to simply get through this weekend and phone the dentist on Monday to tell them to pull the darn thing out. I am not happy. At all. Then I remind myself, things could me so much worse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Things Seem Better When You're Wrapped in a Blanket, It Is Funny

1. Layering is the key to feeling cozy on a wintery day. Feeling wrapped-in-a-blanket-cozy is comforting when you're tipped back in a dentist's chair.  I carefully planned my outfit with these purposes in mind and it helped. Cami, turtleneck, fleece vest, down jacket (for outside). Now, if dentists would provide heated blankets, low lighting and soothing music...
2. Finally. A huge gray cloud has been lifted and I cautiously allow myself to feel relief as the pain meds wear off. No more toothache.
3. To hear Steve laughing at a TV show.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Enthusiam" from the Greek en theos, Meaning a God Within, You Talkin' About Me?, Pot Luck

1. I'm still reading Exuberance by Kay Redfield Jamison. She references so many wonderful works of art and literature, the book itself makes me feel exuberant!
She notes that, "Much of our joy is in direct response to nature." For me, this is true. Emerson writes, "In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says - he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change correspond to and authorizes a different state of mind."
I find great delight in nature. I attribute nature as God's creation; I marvel at it and it gives me such joy.
2. First thing I read when I woke up today was this conversation directed at me on facebook. My daughters make me laugh!
 Audrey: So I am trying to figure this whole pinterest thing out. Well anyways, I go to "follow" you and your page pops up and all I see is white rooms. White bedroom, white kitchen, white bathroom, white living room, white, white, white. 22 white rooms. wow
Tess, Claire and Chelsea like this. 
Audrey: Oh wait, there is more! white porch, white basement.
Audrey: I just have one question: What is your favorite color?
Chelsea: Friggin hilarious!
Claire: Oh, I miss you guys!

Leonora  Aaand... no power! Lovely! Snowstorm by candlelight is fine as long as the toilets flush.
Audrey: You must love snowstorms. The entire world turns...wait for it.....WHITE!

3. I took leftovers from Sunday's pot roast and turned it into a beef pot pie for dinner- a delicious "something from nothing".

Monday, January 21, 2013

January Project, Where All the Food Looks Good, Simple Fare

1. Today I applied the final coat of paint to the upstairs bath. We've freshened it up with a new, lighter color and replaced the flooring.
1.a. When I wash out the paint rollers they smell like Creepy Crawler Goop. Creepy Crawlers was a toy I had back in the 60's. It utilized a cooking plate and metal molds that got very hot and burned my fingers if I wasn't careful. I don't see a warning on the box top in the photo- too funny! I must have played with it a lot because I was given Creeple People and Motorized Monsters, too.
2. I had a chance to shop at Fresh Market this morning. I bought some fruit salad and croissants and dropped them by daughter 3#'s school where she's gone for the day without food. Her eyes lit up when she saw what I brought. Daughter #4 favors the mini fruit tarts, so there's one for her in the bag.
3. I also bought some organic mushrooms that I put into an onion and mushroom omelet for our dinner. Made with B.'s home raised eggs, it was very good!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Losing Track, A Blue and White Day, The Gift of Smell

1. Our regular schedule was tossed out the window this week and today was an 'anything goes' kind of day. We're in a time warp and we've had three Saturdays in place of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
2. The brilliant sunshine makes up for four days of darkness. Glittering snow blinds my eyes and eventually I must pull down the shade.
3. Tess comes back inside carrying the fresh, clean air on her. I tell her she smells so good, like fresh air. She says she doesn't know what that smells like. I explain that it only happens on brisk, cold days and the person has to be outside for a while to really soak it in. One day I'll try to bring some in for her to sample.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Adventure #1, Adventure #2, The Color of Things

1. We had a beautiful snowstorm! It was as if someone flipped a switch and three and a half days of rain suddenly turned to snow falling from the sky. It seemed to put everyone in a celebratory mood.
2. During dinner, the power promptly went out. I lit every candle I could scrounge and placed them everywhere. Steve started up the generator, which feels like cheating, but we stayed warm.

3. New York Black and Whites match the landscape.
    *Checking in the archives, I see that I last made these on 2/7/2010...also after a snowstorm!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's Snowtime!, Dr. H., Kids Say the DarndestThings

1. The weather model my neighbor emails me is the prettiest thing. It radiates such cheery, springtime color when in fact it's predicting our pure, white snowfall for tomorrow.
2. Back to the dentist who is awfully nice.
3. Daughter #1 keeps an online journal of her daughter's antics and conversations. Almost daily, I have a peek into her two-year-old world, which is usually pretty funny. This is a wonderful thing for grandparents like us, who live too far away for weekly visits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lullaby Rain, Yes!, Catching Up

1. I wake at the unreasonable hour of 3:00 am. and wonder how I will ever go back to sleep. And then I hear the rain. A steady downpour, tapping at windows, pattering on the ground; a rhythmic drip, drip, drip from every roof slope and gutter. Here is my lullaby.
1.a. My ear and brain have been instinctively trained to believe the sound of rain on a cold night signals the arrival of spring. Weather patterns make no sense to me anymore and it's hard to break what I have learned over so many years. I could pretend it's spring. That's a nice thought. I make it work for a while.

2. ♫ Look what I found at Kroger in Bonsack ♪. I'm singing ♪ I'm dancing ♫ I'm eating it for breakfast. ♪ For the first time since moving south in 2000, I found this in a store down here. No need to import it from New England any longer! Boston Brown Bread, all dense and molassesy, pushed from the can, sliced, and spread with cream cheese. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
3. I settled into the rocking chair with a rare, afternoon cup of coffee and watched the episode of Downton Abbey that I missed on Sunday.
(Day two and still raining.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy 26th, Daughter!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting Ready for a Birthday! A Little Reading

1. This gift wrap is easy and fun to make and attractive to use. Lowe's sells very long rolls of this paper for under $5 in the isle where they sell drop cloths for painters. It comes in brown and green. Anything can be stamped or painted on it, but I like to use leaves with white or gold paint. Kids also love this project. Younger children can make hand prints to create adorable gift wrap. My other favorite thing about this paper (besides it natural look) is how light and crisp it is; I like the sound of it.

2. With my new-found frosting recipe, (over here) I was able to bake a pretty birthday cake that looked half-way decent. It's vanilla cake with Saunder's Brothers strawberry preserves in the center and vanilla frosting. I found these fun candles at Walmart.
3. We're reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for our Small Group study. I had never read it before! Interesting fact: Stevenson intended Jekyll to be pronounced JEEK-uhl, as common in the author's Scottish dialect. Stevenson himself could not convince readers to pronounce it thus and to this day we use the short 'e' pronunciation.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sunrise, Unedited

Tess took this before school this morning.

A Movie, A Difference of Opinion, Will Clean for Beer

1. I watched the movie Monsieur Lazhar. French phrases swirled around in my head for the rest of the day. It is set in Montreal, in winter, and I loved seeing the school yard piled with snowbanks. This is how I remember our winter recesses in elementary school.
2. Some parents we are. We keep telling our youngest to quit. In a stern reply, she tells us she is not a quitter. Somehow I think we've reversed roles here : )
3. When he bottles beer, the kitchen must be clean, spotless, and clutter free. He leaves it in this same condition when he is through. I think I'm the winner!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Keeping the Pace, Excercise, Neatly Packaged

1. January days pass at a snail's pace compared to December's. I know the pace will quicken to breakneck speed with spring's arrival in March, so I try to enjoy the few lazy days while they last.
2. We take advantage of the mild weather and walk the dogs on the back road. Henri's coat has grown out and he looks like a fluffy black lamb with a very excited little tail.
3. I wrap our dinner in foil and pack it carefully into one insulated bag to keep warm. Cold items, along with an ice pack, are stowed into another bag. We are on a schedule again and it's our night to eat on the run between school activities and youth group. We enjoy our winter picnic in the car, the sky darkening so early.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Confessions of an Addict and How I Use"
Posting over here today.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking Down, Dental Work, It's Always Better When You Can't Have It

1. A Dandelion! Wait, two dandelions! In the middle of January. This northern girl will always be fascinated by dandelions in January.
2. I do trust my dentist's work, and all is repaired, but still...
This evening, I curled up in a soft chair with my cozy shawl, two Motrin and a nice, hot water bottle. I enveloped myself with external comforts to counterbalance the stress that I didn't even know I had.
3. I couldn't eat the pizza until way later. This is probably why it turned out so good, because I couldn't have it. Whole wheat pizza dough piled with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, red peppers, black olives, pepperoni and mozzarella. ( I did have it eventually, in tiny little bites.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reading, Eating, Making a Mess

  “You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”

1. I like Annie Dillard's insightful observations on the topic of writing here. She's one of my favorite observers of life and her book, An American Childhood is on my current reading list.

photo and recipe courtesy of

2. Quick, delicious and gluten-free, I made this Zesty Quinoa Salad and ate it for breakfast and lunch. Who's to say what's appropriate for particular meals?
3. I made a quick trip out on an errand yesterday and came home to the sound of demolition in the upstairs bath. It continued today as Steve decided to take me up on my suggestion that we replace the cracked tile floor this winter. (I didn't mean this very minute.) Unlike my old self, I had no urge to peek at the destruction or even make comments or suggestions. Until it's my turn to go in there and paint, I'm staying out of it. This is a good feeling and so unlike me, who usually noses into everything. I hope Steve notices : )

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Good Food, Good Book and Christmas Is Safely Tucked Away

photo and recipe courtesy of
1. Winter eludes us, leaving a barren, brown landscape and noncommittal temperatures as a sorry substitute for a sparkling wonderland. Nothing to do but turn inward and find comfort in winter-hearty foods and indoor projects. This Beef Bourguignon Soup with its rustic appeal, was well worth the effort. Any recipe that says, "scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon" has got to be good! *Next time I might substitute beef shank for the short ribs. That would still provide the bone for flavor, but give better meat as the ribs here were a bit fatty.
2. I started reading L.'s book recommendation, "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan. I'm at page sixty-three and so far, so good!
3. Thinking about taking down the Christmas tree is definitely worse than actually doing it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sister, Goodreads to Start the New Year, Pay It Forward!

1. I gaze at her photograph on the screen and move the cursor to touch her cheek. "I miss you, Char.", the words catch in my throat. She is so young in this picture. Forever young is how I remember her. She will never have old lady wrinkles, suffer any more sickness, or ever be sad again. I am glad for her in this. With an inward smile, I focus my thoughts back to all the good memories; summer days, her laugh, the sound of her voice when she phoned, "Hi, Lee!", how she let me learn to drive her car, listening to her record albums, laughing around the dinner table until tears streamed down our faces... then burst out laughing at ourselves some more. It has been four years today that she died. That long? And yet...I swear I can reach out and touch her. She is that alive in my heart.
2. I settled back, cup of coffee in hand, browsing book reviews and library resources to come up with a new reading list. It's a bit like shopping, but better, for thought of all the interesting reading ahead.
This one is coming first: Exuberance: The Passion for Life by Kay R. Jamison

3. I love, love, love this idea that a friend posted on facebook. I just have to do this here. Fun, yes?!
2013 creative Pay-it-Forward: The first 5 people to comment will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift. perhaps a book, a baked good, a candle, music, a surprise ! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. These 5 people may wish to make the same offer on either their facebook status or via their blog. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MP3 Surprises, Growing It Out, A Warm Mug and Toasty Fire

1. My favorite song today. Annie Haslam of Renaissance sings "Turn of the Century" with Steve Howe of Yes on guitar.
2. I explain to my hairdresser how I want her to change my hairstyle. I settle in to let her work and I overhear the lady in the next chair also asking her stylist for changes. Must be the effect of a new year on all of us.
3. J. and I swapped places this evening. He came here to shoot pool with the guys and I went there to visit with B. She served me a delicious, hot mug of Glühwein and offered me the soft chair by the fire. (J. coached me on how to pronounce "glue vine" before I left.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Perfectly Frosted Cupcakes, The Hobbit, One for Steve

1. Some things take longer for me than others to discover. But as long as I find the way eventually, all is well. Such is the case in finding the perfect recipe and technique for frosting cupcakes. I love to bake, but traditional cakes and cupcakes have never been my forté...until now! These diminutive cakes are bite size. So tiny that you may pop an entire cake right into your mouth and not look like a slob.
The Frosting: (Vanilla butter cream frosting that is light and fluffy, pipes well, and tastes delicious.) In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat 2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 stick butter (softened), and 1/2 cup shortening until just mixed. Increase speed to high; beat 10 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. reduce speed to medium; gradually beat in 1/8 cup heavy or whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl. Makes enough to frost 24 bite sized cupcakes.
The Technique:


2. We were split in our interests of which movie to see, so we split up and saw what we wanted. Tess and I chose The Hobbit. What can I say? The battle of good vs. evil on an epic scale! I completely enjoyed the movie, especially the soundtrack. The haunting Misty Mountain Song the dwarfs sang in Bilbo Baggins' home was one of my favorites.

3.The diagnosis is critical. He says it sounds like a rod..something..something in the motor is broken and we need a new dishwasher. It's not the expense I wished to begin the new year with. He takes it all apart anyway, laying all the mechanical guts out on the floor. A short while later he walks up to me, holding out his hand. In his palm is a tiny, 1/4-inch piece of plastic from a clothing tag. "It's fixed.", he says. That little piece of plastic was lodged between the something...something and made the entire dishwasher vibrate noisily. "Could Daniel do that?", he smiles. (There is a running joke in our family about who can fix things better, my husband or my son-in-law. The son-in-law has been winning.)