Monday, September 30, 2013

"Virginia is for Lovers", My Favorite Fall Color (for Today), All's Well That Ends Well

1. I remember now why I love Virginia so much. I can walk on an autumn evening in shirtsleeves and feel the moment when warm day meets the cool night.
1a. Autumn doesn't rush in. Summer lingers into autumn ever so gently. The two are friends, generously sharing their most beautiful nature.
2. Where have these asters been hiding all summer? Their deep purple blooms rise above the yellowing grass along country roads.
3. Sometimes it feels like my day consists of noting but running damage control. It can be exhausting. The positive part that makes it all worthwhile is when I've managed to plug all the dams and diffuse all the drama for one more day. If I can say, "Is that a smile I see?" then we are good.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Around the Home Place: Spaghetti Sauce and Garden

1. This recipe is set apart from all the others. It has faded type on a spattered index card that my mother dictated to me thirty-odd years ago. I breath in the smell of onions and garlic sauteing in olive oil. Later, the soft, bubbling sound of thick sauce simmering in the pan fills the kitchen with a lullaby. For me, it epitomizes a home in proper harmony.
2. Steve and I worked in the garden together, changing it from summer to fall. Cherry tomatoes popped under our feet as we maneuvered around the beds.
3. Problem One:I need a casserole pan and a bowl, both in white. Dilemma Two: It's 4:00 on a Saturday and I don't want to be out shopping. Solution: Marshall's! I found a Le Creuset casserole pan in white and a pretty white bowl. One stop shopping and I'm back home in an hour.
3a. I also found a set of four mini pie tins so, this evening I made four little peach pies.

Honeybees were all over the basil. We left it alone for them.

Yellow finches will enjoy the dried sunflower heads.

My parsley is covered in Swallowtail caterpillars. I think they are Black Swallowtail? I'll let them have the parsley.

Climbing roses are prettier now than they were all summer.

This photo represents how afraid the horses are of apples. They are so goofy. I heard them banging the feed pan during the night.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Week in High Points

Here we go again! The week has gotten away from me, lost in the details. It's had its high points and low points. Since it's Friday, I'll focus only on the high points.

1. A friend wrote that she went to a wedding and they served cupcakes. What's up with cupcakes? During my commute the next morning this came up on my MP3 mix. I laughed out loud.

2. I am still taken aback when a child who barely knows me allows me to comfort him or her. One such little girl sobbed into my chest with hurt feelings. I tried to think of every encouraging thing to say while patting her curly head.
3. The look of pure joy when a teacher hands a child a lollipop.
3a. A boy won an ice cream ticket. It's worth all of seventy-five cents, but you'd think he won something huge by his reaction. He ran around, smiling from ear to ear, showing all his friends his prize.
4. Lacy asparagus leaves are covered in mist each morning.
5. A box full of apples and peaches delivered by neighbor W.
6. This mischievous little boy has gone and tied his shoes together. Obviously he can't walk when he stands up. I have to turn away to hide my laughter from him.
7. Phone calls from my daughters, photos of our grandchildren, husband returning home from a trip; the high points that keep the week in its proper perspective.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Hearty Laugh, Bambi's Father Only Younger, Someone to Comment To

1. I finally caught up by phone with a long time New York friend. She just celebrated sixty years! I think her sense of humor has her forever young.
2. This one was different. He was so majestic, he took my breath away. Broad chest, regal stance, and a strong, graceful leap and bound. I stood and stared at his white tail as he ran off into the woods. I admit to knowing nothing about deer other than the nuisance they are to my garden. But I do know a special one when I see it.
3. I see Tess in the living room, settling in for the evening. I guess I'll have the pleasure of her company for Antiques Roadshow tonight : )

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shopping with Tess, Sheets of it, Last Day of Summer

1. I appreciate Tess' help when I try on clothes. Sometimes she sounds excited and says, "Ooo" or  "That makes you look skinny." Other times I get a wrinkled nose and a, "Nah". I've learned to listen to the daughters. : )
2. We're treated to a solid day of rain. The steady downpour sounds beautiful from the shelter of the porch.
3. The clouds break just as I'm feeding the horses. The final evening of summer is bathed in golden light and touched by a rainbow. This is the moment when summer meets autumn.

Henri at the back door.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Be My Friend?, Friday!, General Tsao, Orange Beef and Thai Pad

1. Are ten-year-olds good judges of age? Because a girl that age told me I looked like I was thirty-something  and I so wanted to believe her.
2. Saying, "Have a good weekend!" to people as I leave work.
3. We dined at Cafe Asia with two of our daughters and a boyfriend. Not only was it fun to be out together, the food at this restaurant is outstanding.
3a. Dessert followed with friends at the home of our new pastor. Steve and I parked at the end of their country drive and enjoyed the walk.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

In Memory of Robert Farrar Capon (1925-2013)

One of our favorite and respected authors and theologians died this month. A friend sent me an article by Tullian Tchividjian in which he says Capon's writing was "mind-blowingly insightful". It was the kind of brilliant, playful, insightfulness that brought a smile to my face and gave friends and ourselves many hours of study and debate. My husband introduced me to Robert Capon in his book, Kingdom, Grace, Judgement: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus. In it Capon writes:

What role have I left for religion? None. And I have left none because the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leaves none. Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.
Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshiping, sacrificing) the human race has ever thought it had to do to get right with God. About those things, Christianity has only two comments to make. The first is that none of them ever had the least chance of doing the trick: the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (see the Epistle to the Hebrews) and no effort of ours to keep the law of God can ever finally succeed (see the Epistle to the Romans). The second is that everything religion tried (and failed) to do has been perfectly done, once and for all, by Jesus in his death and resurrection. For Christians, therefore, the entire religion shop has been closed, boarded up, and forgotten. The church is not in the religion business. It never has been and it never will be, in spite of all the ecclesiastical turkeys through two thousand years who have acted as if religion was their stock in trade. The church, instead, is in the Gospel-proclaiming business. It is not here to bring the world the bad news that God will think kindly about us only after we have gone through certain creedal, liturgical and ethical wickets; it is here to bring the world the Good News that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” It is here, in short, for no religious purpose at all, only to announce the Gospel of free grace.
And from, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace
Saint Paul has not said to you, “Think how it would be if there were no condemnation”; he has said, “There is therefore now none.” He has made an unconditional statement, not a conditional one-a flat assertion, not a parabolic one. He has not said, “God has done this and that and the other thing; and if by dint of imagination you can manage to pull it all together, you may be able to experience a little solace in the prison of your days.” No. He has simply said, “You are free. Your services are no longer required. The salt mine has been closed. You have fallen under the ultimate statute of limitation. You are out from under everything: Shame, Guilt, Blame. It all rolls off your back like rain off a tombstone.”
It is essential that you see this clearly. The Apostle is saying that you and I have been sprung. Right now; not next week or at the end of the world. And unconditionally, with no probation officer to report to. But that means that we have finally come face to face with the one question we have scrupulously ducked every time it got within a mile of us: You are free. What do you plan to do? One of the problems with any authentic pronouncement of the gospel is that it introduces us to freedom.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Feeding Time

1. Feeding time and the look on Mari's face when we got close to the horses was priceless. 

2. Listening to the horses munch their grain.

3. She runs down the hill, squealing and laughing. Then she trudges back to the top and does it over and over again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Treasure in the Bag, Say Hello, Partners

1. My lunch time doesn't roll around until 1:30 by which time I'm famished. If I have something exciting to eat, then I'm overjoyed. Today I packed half of an Italian sub from Subway that was leftover from our dinner last night. It's so rare that we purchase food out that a Subway sub is a special treat.  All this to say, I was famished, I had a rare and special treat for lunch, I was overjoyed.
2. Claire and the grandchildren arrived from Raleigh today to spend a couple of days. I set up the toys that Mari likes and after a coveted hug and kiss, she went straight to play.
2a. My empty arms were filled by ten-month-old Jack who smiled and made happy sounds at the dog.
3. I was glad to hear a cricket or two when I sat in the porch this evening. I know these mild evenings are numbered and hearing the crickets made me think there is another creature besides myself who will miss them too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Slowing Down, Should I Laugh or Cry?, Dear Miss Lee

1. I tried to be in a hurry, but it was not meant to be. Stuck behind a road crew vehicle on a narrow, country road, creeping along at five miles per hour for twenty minutes, I rolled down the windows and accepted my fate. "This isn't so bad", I said to myself. I was moving at the pace of a walk. I could smell the hay, I smelled the cows, and I got a whiff of some distant wood smoke. I saw tangles of purple, pink, and white morning glories climbing all over the road bank. The purple ones had a five-pointed star of darker purple in the middle. I glanced up the driveways of homes I would otherwise speed right by. I noticed rocks and mailboxes and homey entrance ways.I was forced to slow down and I liked it.
2. Thirty Kindergartners are in constant motion. I liken it to trying to contain the overflowing suds of an out-of-control washing machine. It's hysterically funny, but forebodes problems at the same time.
2a. One girl asked me if I'm a grandmother. She said she could tell because I wore glasses.
3. "Dear Janelle, I can tell we shall have another long year together."

Translation: Miss Lee I am sorry that I been so weird yesterday and I just wanted to say I am sorry for spitting in Carson's face.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not Done Yet, Old and New, Now Featuring Yellow

1. And the tomatoes keep on coming. I roasted cherry tomatoes with new potatoes, garlic, rosemary and kalamata olives. I served this alongside baked cod for dinner. I also made a tomato pie, (again), for lunch the next day. I will never get tired of tomato pie.
2. It was good to see old friends return to church today.
2a. Steve made his first visit to The Town Center Tap House this evening to meet up with two men from church. There ended up being fourteen men from church : )
3. The foliage is shrinking back on trees and shrubs and the greens are turning to yellows and browns. Our very strong sunflower has bent to the ground in weariness. I break the stalk and lay the flowers out for the finches to peck. Summer has inevitably come to an end and a new color palette waits to greet us.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pounding, Quiet Noise, Broke Even

1. I was quietly reading when I heard a loud rumble, like a truck coming up the road. I paused to listen and I realized it was the horses galloping around the field. I went out with the camera to capture their antics on video, but when they saw me they stopped. They gave me a look that said, "Who? Us?"

2. It was a golden day of late summer with that certain kind of quiet. The lazy sound of crickets chirping in the afternoon interrupted every now and then by the call of a lone crow.
3. I went shopping with money in my pocket, ready to spend. I came home with nothing. I'm unsure whether to be disappointed with no new clothing or glad that I still have the money in my pocket.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Too Many Tomatoes, Look At Me!, Fruit Salsa

1. I waited until dusk for the heat let up to pick tomatoes. Too many tomatoes! Is that possible? I'm thinking of where I can bring the next box load for sharing. I am just not into canning them right now.
2. Some neighbors are walking down the road and the horses put on a show. They gallop all around the field, tails high, and run along the fence line where the people are walking. Show-off boys.
3. Mangoes were on sale this week so I made a batch of fruit salsa, much to Tess' delight. We'll eat it for breakfast : )

Sweet Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

1 pineapple
2 mangoes
3 kiwi
2 bananas *but only if serving immediately, otherwise omit
10 frozen strawberries

Flour tortillas
cinnamon sugar
melted butter
Puree strawberries in blender and set aside.
Chop all the fruit into little, bite-sized pieces and combine in a large bowl.
Pour pureed strawberries over all and stir to combine.
Cut flour tortillas into four triangles each. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400° for 7-8 minutes. Cool.

Serve salsa with crispy cinnamon tortillas.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Waiting Game, From the Attic, Patton

1. Today began the school year routine of weekly piano lessons for Tess. I figure I've spent about one hundred and two hours waiting for her, mostly in my car. Here is how I spend that time in order of frequency.
  1. I take a nap in the car. I can only imagine how many of the teacher's neighbors have seen me sleeping with my mouth open.
  2. I read... until I get sleepy, see #1.
  3. I make a quick run over to the antique mall and poke around for something good. Today I found two vintage Christmas ornaments for our tree.
  4. I talk to my daughters or my mom on my cell phone.

2. I poked my head into a booth at the antique mall and smelled the most wonderful, old, sweet-musty scent of ancient stuff.
3. Our neighbors have a new puppy. He's a roly-poly, black, fluffy little guy who will grow up to herd sheep. He can't quite make it up the steps and his owner has to lift his little back end up to give him a boost.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Foolishness? No, It's Not

by Mary Oliver

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count 
the leaves on a single tree. To do this I
have to climb branch by branch and
write down the numbers in a little book.
So I suppose, from their point of view,
it's reasonable that my friends say: what
foolishness! She's got her head in the clouds

But it's not. Of course I have to give up,
but by then I'm half crazy with the wonder
of it- the abundance of leaves, the
quietness of the branches, the hopelessness
of my effort. And I am in that delicious
and important place, roaring with laughter,
full of earth-praise.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Summer's Long Farewell, The Flying Mouse

Photo by Tess
1. A morning hour spent in the garden while the sun was still low and the air still cool. I'm taking it easy today, recovering from a cold.
2. The porch stays shaded well into the afternoon now that the sun is lower. I spent most of this lazy day reading out there and napping : )
2a. I notice the crickets chirp all day long at summer's end. It somehow makes the day feel stretched out and held under a peaceful spell.
3. We drove a very short distance to the new craft brewery that opened this weekend in Troutville. It was a pleasant evening to sit on their patio at an umbrellad table by candlelight, cracking peanuts and sipping samples. I think The Flying Mouse has much to offer our little county and I wish them much success.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Out of Character, The Best Sleeping Weather, That's Life

1. A rough and tumble little boy sees my bracelet and he becomes unusually still and focused. He fingers the metal band on my wrist and in a voice filled with awe says, "It's verrrry beaauuutiful."
2. The days may be warm, but the nights are invitingly cool. Welcome September!
3. Five ladies dining at the local Mexican restaurant are having too much fun. Their brisk conversation is punctuated with frequent laughter. You would never know that between them they've experienced some of life's hardest knocks; broken marriages, loss of children and loved ones, sickness and strife. Still, they laugh and find joy and will say with surety, "God is good."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Who Invited You?, Sqeaky Clean, Made by the Man

1. My quiet, morning solitude is shattered by the brash call of a crow. It hits my ears like grating steel. As I fuss to myself at the nerve of that crow, a bumblebee flies into the side of the house. I guess I'm not the only one bothered by the crow.
2. I launder three beds' linens, remake the beds, wash the floors and do more laundry. Tomorrow's Tuesday is going to feel like a Monday and I'll be so glad to have this all done when Tuesdaymonday rolls around.
3. Boneless rib eye steaks grilled over a charcoal fire (I haven't had one of these in at least a year.), corn on the cob and sliced garden tomatoes. A perfect end-of-summer meal.