Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Slice of Long Weekend

1. According to the nature almanac; "Count the number of foggy mornings in August. This number will be the same as the number of snowfalls for the following winter." We've had many misty mornings this August. Won't it be fun to watch and see what winter brings?
2. In the early morning dark, while everyone is still asleep, I steal out to the porch with my coffee and a book.  I sit in the pool of light under my reading lamp until the sun comes up.
3. Last minute plans have company coming for an afternoon visit. There's potential for thirteen hungry people here. I run to the store and pick up some good quality hot dogs and buns. Steve makes a fire and the three dads roast hot dogs on sticks for everyone. They were the best tasting hot dogs I've had in a long while. Mine was blackened which is just as I like. We already had plenty of macaroni salad and peach cobbler and it turned out to make a fine meal.

4. We allow our grandchildren much more latitude than we allowed our children. I never would have permitted children on the table, for example. We mellow with age and it is good.
5. Jack scrunches his hand open and closed and says,"Bye" for the first time. Such a little thing like this and by our reaction you would think he recited the preamble of the Constitution or something.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Late Summer View From the Swing, Baggage and All, Say That Again?

1. Daughter #2 took these photos on a previous Labor Day weekend here.
2. From Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience today:

"The package you’re called to unpack everyday is who you really are —your real calling.
So unwrap your real storybecause if you deny your story, you deny not only yourself…  but you deny the very Author Who is writing your redemptive epic."

3. Some of the littlest children haven't outgrown their pronunciation issues just yet. A little first grade girl regularly calls me over and says, "I needa poo". Last year, when she was in kindergarten, I offered for her to use the restroom until she made it clear that what she needed was a spoon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Morning Constitution, As Soon As You Get Home, Needs a Good Home

1. There is an old man shuffling with his walker near the corner where I turn each morning. He has a long gray beard down to his chest and a wears a sweater despite the heat. I wave to him each time I see him and maybe we'll become passerby friends.
2. Tess and I have a date to watch the final two episodes of Tess of the D'urbervilles right after school today. We agreed that we weren't patient enough to wait until evening. Besides, Steve's away so it's "anything goes".
3. I left a box of our garden tomatoes in the faculty lounge with a sign that said, "Please help yourself". There were only two left at the end of my shift. : )

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In It Together, Tess, Peachy

1. They are only children after all, and prone to the antics of baby animals, all rough and tumble and messy.
1a. Jesting with co-workers and finding the humor in it all makes it easier to come back and do it all over again tomorrow : )
2. Tess and I are watching the BBC series, Tess of the D'Ubervilles. I'm glad the heroine is all I remember her to be. I wouldn't want our daughter to think we named her after someone awful.
3. The latest batch of peaches from Saunders Brothers have the best of all peach qualities. The variety is called 'Blake'. They are large, slow to ripen, sweet and juicy, and the fruit separates easily from the pit. Steve gave me a bite of his that he cut up into vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I Selfishly Want More of These, On the James, A Southern Luau

I wish life would slow down so I could jump on. I've lost some days somewhere...

1. The weather was perfect for anything you could wish to do this weekend, (except puddle jumping).
80°, no humidity, and blue skies. I couldn't think what I wanted to do first!

photo courtesy of

2. We spent a perfect afternoon with B. and J. kayaking a five mile stretch from Buchanan to Arcdia on the bucolic James River. The river bed is strewn with rocks. They are every size, shape and color. I love looking down into the water and seeing this other world below.
3. We had a shared meal at church and the tables were laden with good food. Two entire tables were reserved for desserts alone.
3a.We welcome our new pastor whom I had the honor of nominating alongside four other committee members. It is good to celebrate and I believe we will find cause to celebrate again and again. I wrote a brief introduction to Stephen here: The Botetourt View

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Late August Mornings, Good Viewing, Making Hay #2, A Day in the Life...

1. Misty mornings heavy with dew. Delicate spider webs drape the landscape.
2. "Person to Person" with Edward R. Murrow is a most interesting series of archived interviews of celebrities from the 1950's. The interviews are conducted in their homes. It's fascinating to see John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Billy Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, and so many others interviewed this way. My favorite was Norman Rockwell. The camera panned Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on a February night in 1959. I've been down that street dozens of times and to see this way made me a bit nostalgic.
3. The fields surrounding our house were all mowed today. The good smell is more than just cut grass. It must be the wildflowers blended in.
4. Hearing Steve laugh so hard that he couldn't catch his breath. He was laughing at the comments under this: Awkward Family Photos.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flattery, I Need to Get Over This Stuff, A Long Day

1. A nine year old boy at school walked up to me and said, "Has anyone ever told you you're beautiful?" I bit my tongue at my first inclination to say, "Cut the crap". Instead, I looked at him like the sweet angel he was, took into consideration his tender heart, and with eyes full of adoration, I told him he made my day...and he did.

 2. A corner of my bedroom floor is piled with the contents of a storage trunk waiting to be sorted. These items bring back wonderful memories. I can't part with them but I don't know what to do with them either:
4 lace veils worn when I was a youngster in the Roman Catholic church. 1960's
1 Holy Communion Veil. Circa 1966
1 pair of girl's fishnet stockings (with elastic band garters). Circa 1967
2 Gunne Sax dresses, 1979 and 1981 (this one is my wedding dress)
My first pair of baby shoes, 1960

3. I quickly made a PBJ sandwich with crunchy organic peanut butter and raspberry all-fruit spread to eat on the road. Ever notice how the most boring food tastes extravagant when you haven't eaten in six hours?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A New Stick, Back to School, Coming Home

1. Tess' friend gave me a walking stick that he made. Its sturdy yet delicate form is made from a dogwood sapling. I call it a lady's stick. The worm holes in the handle add much character.

2. On the first day of school the hallways are noticeably sparkling and everything smells fresh and good. The children are all sparkling too. : ) 
2a. Last May I promised a boy that I would let him do his extremely loud whistle to silence the cafeteria on the last day of school. In the hectic activities of last day, we forgot. Lo and behold, he reminded me of my promise today. When I gave him the cue to go ahead, his face was a mixture of doubt, whether he should really be doing this, and joy, of being allowed to do something normally forbidden. His friends were impressed.

3. Coming home and finding this tranquil scene. Henri has chosen to sleep on my reading chair.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Therapy, A Picnic, No Fear

1. What good it does the spirit to sing! Every Sunday we sing as a mater of routine, beautiful melodies and prayerful lyrics. How blessed we are to sing and hear the song.
♫ Oh, search me Lord and know my heart, and lead me in the way everlasting. ♪
2. We had a gathering at our house this evening to celebrate summer and plan ahead for fall. Everyone contributed food and the counter top (and house) overfloweth.
2a. Someone brought a moist and decadent chocolate cake. I guess I haven't had chocolate in a long time because I was like a thirsty man in the dessert when I took that first bite.
3. A little two-year-old girl came to me and decidedly said, "I want to see the horse. I want to ride the horse".  She was happy enough with 'see' the horse.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fun to Have Around, What I Did on College Break, I Get It

1. Daughter #3 has to be one of the funniest people I know. I would never guess that of her and I suppose that's what surprises me every time. At dinner, she relates a true story about the theft of a biscuit which intensifies into the "Affair of the Biscuit Bandit". Poor Tess can hardly stifle her laugh to keep her swollen cheeks from hurting.
2. It's kind of loud upstairs with music and laughter coming from #4's bedroom. I yell up the stairs, "What are you doing?!" Numbers 3 and 4 simultaneously call down, "Coloring!"
3. When I return from the market, Tess says there's a "weird" message on the answering machine. It is rather cryptic to someone unfamiliar with the background story, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Empty is Good, Golden Afternoon, Man vs. Weed

1. I'm counting the last few precious days before school begins. Three of them are empty of any commitments and I consider them highly valuable.
2. B. came over for lunch. It's always uplifting to spend time together, even though we have more questions than answers in our conversations. It was a perfectly golden, late summer afternoon so we had our coffee and dessert on the porch.
3. Steve brought home dirt for me. : ) Then he helped me dig old dirt and shovel new dirt. When it was all done, I stood with the hose and daydreamed while I directed the spray. Watering has an hypnotic effect like that.
3a. The little dry stacked wall we built a few years ago is holding up nicely. I'm pleased with the aesthetics of it. Even though we knew nothing about building stone walls, it turned out nicely.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Knowing, Not So Bad, Sweet

1. I know this slant of sun and this northerly breeze it tries to warm. I know this gentle song of crickets sung on a quiet afternoon. I know this scent of pears from orchards heavy with fruit. It is  summer fading away.
2. Frequent visits to the bedside of Daughter #4 bringing ice packs, pills, and fruit smoothies. Our fourth and final child for wisdom teeth extraction. She's a real trooper just like her sisters. SO glad that's over. The beautiful thing? I never have to do this again.
3. I baked these wonderfully delicious Ginger-Pear Hand Pies for a friend's lunch tomorrow. I really do love to bake. I enjoy the creation and the time in the kitchen as much as the eating of it. : )

Monday, August 12, 2013

An Orderly Gaggle, Finally!, This Way

1. A half dozen ladies set to work cleaning a house that's sat empty for a year. It's a labor of love for the family who will be moving into it.
2. I shall call our tomatoes, "Better Late Than Never". The sweet little cherry variety is ripening quickly now. The grape-like clusters range from green to orange to red.
2a. Harvesting and gathering satisfies a basic drive- of perhaps survival? Even when I go to the market for our food I consider myself to be hunting and gathering.
3. Those silly horses can't find their way to the gate at the upper field in order to get out to their grain. They look across the fence at me in a little panic. I trudge through the tall grass so they'll follow me to the gate and then, pied-piper style, follow me to their grain.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Peasant Goes Gourmet, Lost Treasure, Man in the Kitchen

1. We love the chunks of crusty bread soaked in oil and vinegar in the Panzanella. So simple and so delicious.

2. I found a folder of long forgotten recipes today. I typed and organized a few and became inspired to cook up some new things next week. I need to plan a picnic just so we can fully enjoy the Provencal Pan Bagna (stacked picnic bread) pictured near the bottom.

Getting ready to mash the grain

The hops (or whatever these are) are added in stages

The simmer
3. While my use of the kitchen was purely theoretical, Steve actually turned on the stove and brewed a Vanilla Porter. We both needed this day to do nothing in particular. I never left the house, except to walk the dog and feed the horses, and it was perfect.
4. Daughter #1 and family arrived safely at Daughter #2's. I counted them to be thirty-three hours on the road. Later, Daughter #3 came home (covered in freckles!) after her week away. I feel like a mother hen keeping track of her scurrying chicks and wishing they were all under my wings.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Focused, Oh Boy!, What Have You Two Been Up To?, Catch It While You Can

1. I was wide awake at 2 am. and figured I might as well get up and make good use of the time. I decided to reconcile the bank accounts for work. With all the world seemingly asleep and every place dark except for my pool of light, numbers and reports were in sharp focus and my concentration was on point.
2. The pleased expression in Tess' countenance as she earned her driver's license today!
3. There's an apple with a bite out of it floating in the horse's water trough. I don't know how it got there except that one of the horses must have been given it and then dropped it in there. They're such young and playful horses and it looks like a discarded toy.
4. More afternoon and evening downpours in this hair-frizzing, humid weather. I go out two or three times to the porch to enjoy the serenity of the rain. These August days are changing and I mean to squeeze every drop of summer out of the last few weeks.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New, For Me?!, In a Cast Iron Skillet, Let's Go Watch

1. I pull my new chinos out of the bag to show Tess. I hold them up to my nose and inhale deeply. Ahh, the smell of new clothing. I love that smell.
 2. My blogging friend Lynn over at Good Things Happened sent me a gift! When I opened our mailbox I found a box taking up all the space and it had my name on it. Inside was a beautiful clay drip tray, the color of the ocean and some pretty botanical note cards. I think Lynn has me pegged and she knows exactly what kind of things I enjoy : )
3. One of my absolute favorite meals is anything to do with potatoes and eggs. Tonight I made this Spanish Tortilla with Bell Pepper (click for recipe). I refer back to my "Everyday Food" collection of magazines over and over again. These recipes never disappoint.

photo courtesy
4. A hazy, humid sky finally pours out rain. We drop whatever we're working on and take our coffee  out to the porch so we can enjoy the moment. Evening is settling in and the rain closes out the day with peace and quiet.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Unusual Summer, "Hi, What Are Ya Doing?", Routine

1. Today is the fifth day in a row that we haven't had to turn on the air conditioning. I love it! The nights are cool and even a bit chilly towards morning.
2. Tess had a ninety minute piano lesson this afternoon during which I was prepared to sit in the car and wait. I parked in the shade, rolled down the windows and reached for a book on the back seat. Then the most amazing thing happened: All three of my far away daughters phoned me, one after the other! It was totally random that each should choose that time frame to call me.
3. I like to stand outside in the evening and water plants with the hose; it's very relaxing.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Made Herself at Home, Green Striped Visitor, Aromatic Mulch

1. A sweet little toddler climbs onto my lap and rests her head on my chest. She's tired of play and just wants to watch the others while she rests. I feel privileged that she accepts me this intimately.
2. Tess told me about a visitor we had on the porch last week. I had not personally met him until today. I glanced over Steve's shoulder and there he was. He stayed in that spot for about forty-five minutes. I'm still not sure how I feel about this visitor. He's interesting, but I wouldn't want him crossing the threshold into the house.

He's in the center of the photo. That's Steve's shoulder on the bottom right.

He's on the inside alright.
3. The pine bark mulch we spread a few days ago smells wonderful!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sorry! More Bugs, And Bug Eggs, A Guest for Dinner

1. I was picking some dill when I saw that I was not alone. A Black Swallowtail caterpillar needed the plant and I was willing to share. (This dill is a volunteer that came up in the middle of the wood pile. In the background is a sunflower that volunteered in the brick pile.)

2. There is a busy world beneath our feet. One of the dill leaves I pinched had tiny teardrop-shaped growths dangling there. These are Green Lacewing eggs.

I had already pinched the leaf before I noticed the eggs. I'll put the jar outside and maybe they will still hatch
3. Steve invited one of his bosses for dinner which gave me a perfect excuse to cook. I made the Mediterranean Chicken Packets with orzo and a Peach Almond Galette for dessert. We ate dessert on the porch and our over-worked guest, whose family is away, appreciated the peacefulness and beauty of the countryside.
3a. These chicken packets are fun to make. Folded, crisp parchment makes a tidy bundle. They remind me of lunchbox sandwiches wrapped in wax paper.
*Click on the highlighted recipe titles to link.

Boneless chicken breast, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Kalamatta olives, Italian seasoning and olive oil

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Food for Birds and Thought, Joint Effort, Cutie

1. These little opalescent, blue bugs are all over the trumpet vine. They scatter everywhere when disrupted. I'm up on a ladder, trimming the vines and they're in my hair, down my shirt, everywhere! My thoughts are all about my daughter Claire and how she would be driven insane by this. Thank goodness it's me and not her. (The video below dramatizes my experience : )
1a. The tiny house finches that were raised in this vine have not flown away due to the abundant blue-bug food source. We enjoy observing the birds as they jump and dart in pursuit of their meal. Their constant chirping sounds like a song of happiness for their good fortune.
2. Steve and I finally finished the brick and gravel paths around the raised beds. It feels good to have that project completed. Now I can walk and weed, free from mud, around the vegetable beds.
3. Henri hides under my chair and behind my legs at the vet. He's not really that scared. He's just being extremely cute.