Sunday, June 30, 2013

Now Showing, Fly Away, Coming Soon

1. Masses of orange day lilies spring from the road banks. What must have started as a few bulbs are now spread in swaths along entire stretches of road.
2. I take my coffee to the porch and watch the morning ritual of noisy crows with their young in the field. The fledglings make a raucous sound, begging for mother crow to keep feeding them. On the lawn, the mockingbirds do the same with sounds that are beginning to be just as annoying. I'm sure those mothers will be glad when these young are off on their own.
3. The congregation voted unanimously in favor of the pastoral candidate we have nominated to our church! Dozens and dozens of man-hours perusing nearly a hundred applications with thoughtful consideration and prayer have been fruitful. It has been an emotional day and I am pleased for so many reasons, but mostly that our congregation is happy with the match God has made for us.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Long Distance, Better Than Texting, Man With Flowers

1. While sitting on the porch, I keep hearing someone's muffled voice like in a bad phone connection. The pitch goes up and down and it sounds frantic at times. I walk to the screen and look this way and that because sound can travel in unusual ways in these hills and hollows and it is a breezy day. When I figure it out, I have to laugh. The bees are in the trumpet vine flowers talking to themselves and they get upset when they can't get out.
2. When I see Daughter #3 tonight, I realize that I haven't seen her in a while. She's been away, we've been away, she's at school all summer...our paths haven't crossed in more than a week. So, when I see her, she looks bright and fresh and glowing; a sight for a mother's sore eyes.
3. A man is helping me carry things to my car. He has the vase of flowers and as he walks, he sniffs the bouquet. "Mmm! What is this?" Another sniff, "It smells so good!" That would be lavender : )

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Shepherd, The Garage Revisited, Food of the Angels

1. Our little church, who has been floundering for a year without a shepherd, has found a man to come. We will present him to the congregation this weekend for their approval. Tonight, he has arrived in town with his family and as we meet again and embrace, I am overwhelmed with joy.
2. Growing up in New York, Steve and I both had uncles who turned their garages into summer rooms each year. It was so typically 1960's suburbia and we have fond memories of family picnics in those garages. Tonight we got to relive those memories when some dear, older friends opened their garage for a picnic.Yup, it feels the same- folding chairs, plastic tablecloths, oil stains on the cement floor and all!
3. The two batches of lemon bars I was baking (to send out) only needed the egg yolks, so I whipped up the whites and made an angel food cake for us to keep. It's a rare treat to bake one of these since they require an entire dozen egg whites. We enjoyed its rarity for dessert and again for breakfast : )

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting Things Done, When We Venture Out, Melodic

1. Taking care of business, that's what this summer is partially about. It feels pretty good! Eye doctor, dentist, lady doctor, driver ed., wisdom teeth...we're getting caught up with the business of taking care of ourselves so we can focus on other stuff when schedules are demanding later on.
2. No matter how hot and humid are the days, the evenings are still pleasant to be outside. And no matter how bored just sitting around the house may be, sitting around on the porch isn't boring at all. The three of us sit together, rocking gently and saying nothing in particular.
2.a. We are entertained by the show of mockingbirds and house finches sparring over territory in the trumpet vine. 
3. Steve played Joe Sample's Invitation on the CD player we keep on the porch. Sample's version of Summertime was perfect for this particular evening. (I wish I could find a full version to share, but I can only find this 30 second review.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Little Man, A Little of This and That, Very Quiet

1. Henri is a new man after our trip to the groomer. The poor thing had gotten so shaggy he couldn't see past his eyebrows. Now he is sleek and clean and I'm sure he's feeling much cooler.
2. It's hot outside, Steve is out for dinner, and I really don't feel like cooking. In the fridge I find hard boiled eggs, Brie, and some good olives. I also find two pretzel rolls in the pantry. Tess and I dine on this and it is good!
3. The power stayed out all evening and we had absolutely nothing to do. I lit candles on the porch, poured a glass of Eiswein and watched dusk turn to dark by firefly light. How starkly different from our weekend in DC, but just as wonderful.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Perfect Day

1. We spent the entire day at the National Gallery of Art. Seven hours and it still wasn't enough...
Like music, art has the ability to overwhelm us with emotion, illicit goosebumps, and bring tears of joy. Tess and I each had our moments when we were rendered speechless by the absolute beauty of certain paintings.
1.a. On a lighter note, here is Domenichino's Expulsion of Adam and Eve where I imagine the dialogue to go something like this:
Adam: But seriously God. It's all her fault. You can see she made me do it.
Eve: Nuh uh! It was the snake.

Blame shifting in its earliest beginnings.

2. B. recommend we dine at Fogo De Chao and we're so glad we did! The entire experience was fun and delicious. I finished my meal with chocolate coffee- coffee with Kalhua and Godiva chocolate, topped with whipped cream and served in a pretty glass mug.
3. We took our time to walk the few blocks back to our hotel. The night life, interesting buildings, and  warm summer weather made it a pleasure to be outside.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Things to See, Places to Go

1. Standing next to the behemoth Saturn V Rockets from Apollo 17, I crane my neck to take in their size. I lean in close and notice the welds. There are little globs of melted metal, welded by man to form row upon row, thousands of times over, that piece together the shell of each rocket. I am in awe of what puny man is capable of.
1.a. In the span of one life, man went from airplanes made of canvas stretched over wooden frames, seemingly held together with spit and glue, to manned rockets landing on the moon?! Those welds on the rockets make me think of spit and glue. Tess commented that in the future, we will think these rockets to be pretty crude as well.
2. The Freer Gallery of Asian Art was refreshingly cool and quiet, even meditative. Every room held beautiful, ancient works of art. Large, narrative scrolls depicting life in China over 1000 years ago were laid out under glass. Drawings from 500AD were so minute in detail that the faces of the men depicted  showed the softness of their facial hair. Simply amazing.
3. A few blocks along, we stopped for a cold drink and to rest our feet. We happened upon Happy Hour : ) We added flash fried artichoke hearts and brushetta tapas to our order and stayed a while.
4. It's a beautifully warm evening. We stroll the blocks of downtown Washington D.C. and admire the old architecture.We are spending this first evening of summer not with fireflies and crickets near the fields of home, but on warm city sidewalks with food joints bursting at the seams with people. Store front windows are bright with apparel from all the nicest companies and people mill about everywhere. We will be back to our country home soon enough and for now this is a really fun change of pace.
4.a. Our pizza was another magnificent work of art. It was a deep dish crust filled with portabella mushrooms, onions, peppers, kalamata olives, mozzarella and sauce.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Good-bye Spring, Easy and Satisfying Dinner, It Looks Like a Star

1. Another day of open windows and no need for air conditioning. Thank you spring, for being true to your name and not trying to be winter or summer. I have enjoyed every raindrop and cool breeze.
2. For dinner, we had my favorite salad of mixed spring greens topped with mandarin oranges, avocado slices, and toasted sunflower seeds.* The apricot Dijon dressing really makes this salad. A crusty, multigrain artisan bread and slices of Havarti and Asiago on the side rounded out this delicious meal.
3.We sat on the porch under Steve's homemade fan blades and admired the rush of air. We sampled each setting and experimented with the fan operating in reverse. We're funny beings when I think back on this. Stand up, make an adjustment, sit down, assess. Stand up, make and adjustment, sit down, assess, and so on until every setting was tried. Once that was settled, we sat back and discussed our weekend plans.

* The salad is easily changed by using other greens such as Bibb lettuce, grapefruit slices and other toasted nuts as you like. For the dressing, mix 1 Tbl. grated shallot, 2 tea. apricot preserves, 1 tea. Dijon mustard, 1 Tbl. orange or lemon juice, 2 Tbl. white wine vinegar. Whisk in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I usually double the amount of dressing and save any leftover in the fridge.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tis the Season, Summer Is...Eating Ice Cream Outside, Winding Down

1. The eat-them-over-the-sink-because-the-juice-drips-down-your-chin kind of peaches. Local peaches are in at Saunders Brothers and W. has brought us our first bag.
2. A large group of our young folks showed up this evening to help weed and mulch the church property. Several adults also pitched in and the job was done in no time. The kids made play out of the work, laughing and joking as they shoveled and raked. Afterwards, we stood around in the cool evening air and ate bowls of ice cream. I chose vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries. Oh summertime!
3. A warm shower and then a good book to read before bedtime.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Out in the Rain with Good Music, Trumpet Vine, Batter-Dipped Zucchini

1. We darted through rain showers on our errands in Roanoke this morning. Three things made this trip fun: Daughter #4 was with me, she chose the music for the drive*, and we bought wonderful blueberries and raspberries from Fresh Market. *Daughter #2 saw this group perform in Denver last week and we love their music!

2. By late afternoon the rain stopped and I went out the check the garden. The back steps were strewn with flowers from the trumpet vine. Stepping out, I felt like a queen walking on a flower strewn court.
These vines are very invasive, but you get a lot of "bang for your buck" out of them. I paid a mere $14 for a little slip of vine eight years ago and now it looks like this. About four years ago, Daughter #2 gave it "accidental", very aggressive haircut and it still flourished. Birds love to nest in it and they provide a regular airshow with hummingbirds.

Trumpet Vine flowers holding raindrops.

The vine at the back door. (which I am to paint this summer)

A shady arbor.
 3. It's the season for small, tender zucchini. Tonight we had them sliced then dipped in batter and fried in olive oil. No written recipe, just a family favorite from my mother and grandmother.

For batter- Beat 2 eggs with 2-3 tablespoons water; add enough flour to make a thick batter. Season the batter with salt, pepper and basil. Dip zucchini slices into batter and fry in olive oil until golden and tender. Season with more salt to taste. This makes enough for 2-3 very small zucchini...or maybe one large one come July.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Last Wisps of the Weekend

Jack and Pop take turns sticking their tongues out at each other.

Jack falls asleep in my arms.
A few last photos that Claire shared from the weekend. The first one cracks me up because Steve and Jack look like twins, same belly, similar clothing, sticking tongues out at each other : ) This is a classic Pop activity with all the babies. That and winking.
The second photo is a classic Nonni, in my apron, rocking and singing babies to sleep. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sitting Quietly, Sheep Herding, A Boy and a Dog

1. Mari sits on my lap in church. She molds my hands this way and that in order for them to hold her toy turtle.

Wearing Nonni's hat.
A pocketful of grass and clover.


Tobasco has her turn. She did a splendid job- very cool and purposeful.
2. Neighbor W. invites us over to watch the sheep herding. His dog, Tobasco and two others are having their lessons today. Daniel explains to Mari that the dogs are herding the sheep. She asks if the sheep are crying. He explains the difference between herding and hurting.
2.a. The dog trainer says watching sheep herding is like watching paint dry.

Happy Birthday, Claire!

3. Jack didn't care for Henri on Friday; he cried at every glimpse of the animal. By Sunday they were becoming fast friends and Henri could make Jack smile.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Farmer's Zen Garden, Color Run, Special Occasion

 1. Light plays on the rows of mowed grass like geometric lines of a Zen garden. However, this garden will be harvested and these beautiful lines have purpose. They turn something as basic as grass into feed for animals.
Before the race.

At the finish line.

After the color explosion. H.'s mom took this great photo.

Photo courtesy of H.'s mom

2. Daughters #1 and #4, along with some friends, ran in the Color Run 5K this morning. Son-in-law, grandchildren and I went to cheer them on. It was a loud, pumped up event and everyone had a great time.
2.a.Baby Jack didn't like the loud noise. He preferred to grab at the leaves of the shade tree we stood under. He also kept busy by blowing raspberries on my arm. This was probably my favorite part of the day. : )
 3. #1 Daughter, Claire turns twenty-eight tomorrow! I spent the afternoon happily cooking and baking her requested foods; meatballs and sauce and these Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes.

Photo courtesy of

Little Guest, Happy Boy, Blessings Abound

1. There is a sweet and dear little girl sleeping in the guest room. She brought all of her special lovies and blankets to cuddle while she sleeps. It was my privilege to read her a stack of books at bedtime.
2. Her baby brother sleeps upstairs with his parents. I plan to cover his chubby arms and legs with kisses as soon as he wakes and is carried down. When he smiles at me it will melt my heart : )
3. It's been a perfectly gorgeous weekend with cool nights and comfortable, sunny days. June weekends typically contain so much activity and this was no exception. Once I have access to the guest room again (where my computer and camera cord are situated) I will post all the beautiful things from this particular June weekend.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Big Wide World, Unwelcome Guests, The Gas Can Was Case

1. I watched the young mockingbird make its first venture out of the nest. He sat on the back steps  looking excited and confused. His mother enticed him away with bugs. She flew up to him and showed him the bug but wouldn't give it to him until he came a little farther out. Brilliant mother! The downy feathers on his head make me smile.
2. The bad news: We haven't even finished our raised bed garden and the deer have found it.
The good news: Steve went into immediate action and rigged a motion sensor light and radio that blasts white noise and flashing lights upon detection of the slightest movement. Ha,ha! It's so engineer-minded. On a more practical note, he also put up some chicken wire caging. (This was more along my way of thinking.)
3. The wind was not as bad as was predicted and we got off with some severe thunder storms, but no straight line winds. Once the storms cleared, the air temperature was refreshingly cooler.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Sipper, School's Out!, Thousand Hills

1. A refreshing drink for sipping on the porch. It will keep for a week stored in the fridge:

3 cups orange juice
3 cups pineapple juice
1 tablespoon finely grated, fresh ginger
2 cups vodka (optional)
Add 4 cups ginger ale at serving. Serve over ice with an orange slice for garnish.

1.a. B. introduced me to these plastic lids that she bought at Kroger. There will be no more need to use metal canning lids and rings to store opened jars.
1.b. I like the red striped twine she used to tie my two lids together. Oh, the little things...
2. So many hugs and "Thank you's" on this last day of school. Children display their exuberance, dancing, hugging, and jumping their way through the day.
2.a.  The school year has a pattern, a heartbeat, that paces the days. Weekends and holidays stand out and become more special somehow. It's easier for me to "feel" the calendar and the difference in the  months and seasons. I remember feeling this as a child and I like it.
3. An appointment with friends for coffee at the new coffee shop, Thousand Hills. It's a nice atmosphere. I keep thinking how weird it feels to be sitting in a brand-spanking-new building on what used to be an apple orchard. As nice as this is, I still miss the apple orchard.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New in the Nest, Needs Good Home, Replenishing the Well

1. Each time Mother Mockingbird returns to her nest in the trumpet vine, we hear her babies cry out to her.
2. Neighbor W. offered us some orphaned plants that needed a home. Steve drove us over in the truck and W. gave us the willow cotoneaster I had been planning to buy, Shasta daisies, grasses, and a corkscrew willow. I had to say no to the beautiful rhododendron because I couldn't think of a good place to plant it. I really don't know where to plant the willow either, but it was too pretty to turn down and we'll come up with a plan for it. Now I just hope I can do these plants justice by nurturing them properly.
3. Thunder rumbles off in the distance as I watch the horses greedily munch their grain. I grab the feed pans as soon as they finish and make it back inside just before the first big drops begin to fall. W. says it will rain all day tomorrow. I'm good with that.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Still Gray, A Sweet Ride, Extra Special on the Side

1. Another rainy day and I didn't mind one bit. It let up while I did my grocery shopping so I didn't have to carry the bags through the rain.
2. I've been hauling around a bag of sweet feed in my trunk for two days. The interior of my car now smells like molasses.
3. Neighbor W. brought fresh cauliflower and zucchini from Saunders Brothers. I had a yen for cauliflower, but not just plain old cauliflower. I made this wonderful Cauliflower Gratin to have alongside our hamburgers.

photo courtesy

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cheery, Sweet, Downpour All Day

1. Red crepe paper poppies dot the median of the highway.
2. Honeysuckle vines run rampant this year. They grow up fence posts, along banks, and even tumble over road signs. Their honey-sweet scent drifts to my parked car. I glance around until I spot the vine a few yards away.
3. Heavy rains make it impossible to be out for more than a dash between car and door. Later, I happily stand on the porch where I can enjoy the rain without getting soaked.

The boy who "will not hit others with lunch bag" is throwing his orange, full throttle on the floor. By the time I get over to him, he's thrown it and retrieved it about three times. I ask him, "Why ever are you throwing your orange on the floor like that?!" He points to the skin and says, "The peel will protect it." "So you're doing an experiment to prove the peel protects the orange?" I ask. Smiling, he says, "Yes." "I'm going to peel it so you can eat it now.", I reply.

By the way, this is my backwards walker : )

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Catching Up, My Heart is Full!

My journal entries feel like a friend I have neglected. I miss my time in solitude, pondering the blessings of the day. I do still ponder them, but it's as my tired head hits the pillow at night and sleep releases all the thoughts of the day.

What has blessed me or pricked my heart this week:

- When I first met this little boy in March, his father had just died. He spent lunch time with his head on the table or he sat gazing with a faraway look on his face. Today there is a sparkle in his eyes. He greets me with a smile and I even detect a little mischief there.
- Another little first grade boy has a hard time staying out of mischief. He walks up and hands me a paper. His teacher had him write this for me after I scolded him the week before. Ha, ha! I had forgotten that we used to be made to do this when we were kids. I'm saving it : )
I do not hit others with lunch bag.
- Daughter #4 had her end-of-the-year piano recital. I like the venue her teacher uses. It's Talmadge Recital Hall at Hollins University. She loves the Steinway grand piano there.

Practicing on our Boston piano. It's made by the Steinway company, but it's nowhere near the same sound as the one below.

Talmade Recital Hall
- Reading two of my daughter's blogs. Their lives are so very different, yet both so wonderfully exciting. Daughter #1's life is centered on a baby and a toddler, observing life through the comical, endearing ways of children. Daughter #2's life is one of high adventure and sharing new places with breathtaking photos. Both their lives are fulfilling and complete. I ponder this quite a bit.

Daughter #1

Daughter #2
- Sitting on the porch with Daughter #3 and catching up. This is a rare occurrence that is perhaps becoming less rare : )
- B. had us over, along with some other friends, for a casual summertime dinner on their porch. As evening passed and night closed in, we stayed out there and visited by candlelight.