Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where to Hide It?, Gathering the Colors, Mini Pot Pies

1. Gray squirrel scampers across the lawn with a big Black Walnut in his mouth. He dig, dig, digs in the grass to bury it. Nope, not the right spot. Dig, dig, dig. Nope, not the right spot, Dig, dig, dig. Nope, not the right spot. He tries again and again and ends up scampering away with the nut still in his mouth. If he's going to be that neurotic about burying his nuts, he'll never be ready for winter.
2. It's both balmy and blustery today, blowing the leaves straight off the trees. Henri and I took a stroll to gather a bouquet of leaves in red, orange, and yellow. I got up under a Maple covered in yellow leaves and pushed my head into the lower branches to reach some nice ones. The blinding yellow leaves rustled and swirled around my head making it feel like I should back out and return to reality.
2a. Pressing leaves in wax paper.
3. I made our chicken pot pies in the little pie tins. This made them taste better, of course : )

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Piano Guys, Home in the Country: Autumn

1. By far, one of the best concerts I've ever been to. If you have the opportunity, most definitely GO SEE THE PIANO GUYS!

 Thank you, Sara, for jumping on these tickets for all of us last summer. It was quickly a sold-out event.
2. Living out in the country like we do, it's easy to forget that a vibrant downtown life exists. It was  fun to do something out of the ordinary and drive into town this evening.
3. It was so mild tonight that we ate dinner on the porch. Surprisingly, there were still a few crickets singing in the field.
4. Two little house finches bed down each evening in the wall planter by the back door. We've gotten used to one another and they no longer fly out, startling me. I glance their way and see them hunkered down in the dirt under the geranium, staring at me with beady little eyes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

At Night, Funny Nerds, Slow Cooker Dinner

1. We're in the field after dark on a mild fall night. Coyotes yip and bark in the distance, making my skin crawl and the horses loom like large specters in the flashlight. But the smell of hay in the lean-to feels like a safe haven.
2. Tess and I are watching back episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Oh, they are so funny!
3. This was a good recipe from Rebecca at Shenandoah Gateway Farm: Cabbage With Sausage and Apples. I love sausage and I love cabbage and the brown sugar, coarse mustard and apple cider vinegar give it just the right flavor. (I would let it cook for the full 8 hours)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Part II: Pressing Apples

1. The antique apple press is a work of art in the simplest of mechanical forms. It has aesthetic appeal as well as a functional purpose. A cheery wooden frame, painted red, is fitted with black cast iron gears and a large turning handle. It stands on the ground and we take turns tossing apples into the hopper. Someone else turns the handle and mushed apples fall through into a slatted bucket. Then a press is placed over the bucket and hand-cranked down to smoosh the juice out. The juice runs through a wooden strainer and into channels that funnel the juice into a pot for collection.Of course it's the best tasting apple cider I've ever had.
2. John and B. created a party for the apple pressing. Complete with a bonfire, tons of cool weather foods, and friends we have not seen in ages. There were new people to meet and we all visited well into the night.
3. As friends depart, we promise not to let so much time go by until we see each other again.

Open Studios 2013

Once I knew Tess was going to take my picture I couldn't stop laughing. It was a chilly, bright autumn morning for our mini adventure.

Our first stop was at Mark Woodie's studio. He was Tess' first art teacher when she started middle school and she loved his class.

She chose one of his newest paintings titled, "Early Autumn Comes". It's a fitting title for today! We didn't know the title until after she chose it.

The painting depicts a hedgerow scene that is typical of our country life. I like the line of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

Our second of only three stops today was Ed Bordett's studio in downtown Fincastle. It occupies a big, old space that he shares with another artist named Brett LaGue.

I love the smell of the paints and thinners in the studios. It makes me want to create something even though I'm not artistic.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn Has Truly Arrived, Where Are They Going?, It's Yours If You Want It

1. Bracing cold air infused with wood smoke, white frost coats the ground, pumpkins on the doorstep; today I am in love with autumn.
2. At a red light, I pull up next to a little Nissan hatchback piled to the window top with a variety of cheery mums and pumpkins.
3. Someone wants my job! Yahoo! I tell her how to apply and she hurries out the door to seek it out. A suitable replacement will enable me to move on to my new job.  : )

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Raining Down, Clutched in the Wind, What Did They Intend That to Mean?

1. Leaves swirl over the road like whirling Dervishes. The wind sets them free from branch's hold and they shower down, joining the dance.
2. I add a scarf (and later, a shawl) to fight against the chill. They provide a hint of 'cozy' on a day when warmth is elusive.
3. I love studying with this group of ladies on Wednesday evenings. Curled up on sofas, perhaps a cup of hot coffee by our side, we dig into the meaning behind the meaning, desiring to know. Our studies are punctuated with laughter and anecdotes as we explore our way toward understanding.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Seventeenth, A Visit, Celebration

1. Daughter #4 turns seventeen today. Every year of the past seventeen is filled with happy memories.
God knows what we need so much better than we know for ourselves.
2. Daughter #1 and the grandchildren are spending the night in a whirlwind visit. Mari is so excited to be here. What more could a grandmother want?
3. We sing 'Happy Birthday' and enjoy fruit pizza together. The raspberries and summer-sweet strawberries are now a special treat this time of year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A New Song, Dating, Stacked and Ready

Perfect for holding herbed olive oil for dipping crusty bread.

The lemon and orange zest in these packets is moist, not dried. A gem of a gift.
1. Strummed by the wind, dry leaves rustle an October song.
2. Antique shops, farmers markets, Local Roots restaurant, photography shoots, hiking, and movie nights at home; these are the destinations Daughter #4 and her boyfriend choose for dates. She comes home with old books, tin types, photographs, and interesting stories of people they've met.*
3. Steve arrives home with a truckload of firewood that he and John cut over the summer. It's neatly stacked and ready for the dropping temperatures.
3a. B. sent him home with some of her pottery- little bread dipping bowls, and packets of lemon and orange peel brought back from Germany. A gift for no reason : )

* This is not the typical dating scene we commonly hear about. No wild parties, underage drinking, sex or drugs as the movies tend to portray. This is our dating reality and the reality for most families we know. I am not naive as to what goes on, I grew up in the 60's in the thick of it all. However, the media tends to lean towards reporting all that is wrong and twisted in society rather than focus on what is good and noble. I hate being brainwashed that way. 
Speaking of brainwashing: 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cutie, Thoughtful, Prepared

1. Henri sits in the doorway and looks at us with his head cocked to one side. Tess and I look at him down the hallway and laugh at his silly posture. We talk to him and say how cute and funny he looks, but he doesn't understand and keeps staring at us with his head cocked. (Or maybe he does get it and has some thoughts of his own about us.)
2. Steve returned home after being away quite a bit. It was enough to have him return home, but he also brought me a gift.
3. I have restocked my reading stack and received another good recommendation for later. I feel like a squirrel hoarding nuts for a dark winter's evening.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Everyone Stay Calm, Pretty Treats, A New Color (for me)

1. An exhausting day! Everyone kept their sense of humor and we chuckled our way through. Just to give an idea, we had kids standing on tables today. Yes, there was momentary chaos.
2. I tried some new piping techniques on my cupcakes. It made them look fancy with barely any effort. (Thanks Youtube.) Orange, yellow, and black sprinkles made them festive for fall. I love to celebrate the seasons.
3. I thought a hot fudge sundae would be a perfect ending to this harried day, but a new blouse worked better. Ahh yes, shopping therapy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Extremes on the Road, Crossing the Road, A New Path

1. A big, old, beat-up Cadillac drives by as I wait to pull out onto a country road. The only occupant is the driver, a scowling old lady with long, gray hair and a chubby cigar gripped between her lips.
2. The Wooly Bears are on the move. I've never seen this many Wooly Bears! I know the weather prediction tale is just that, one of folklore. But what does it mean when there are so many? The Isabella moths must have been prolific this summer.
3. There are two students waiting in the hall to be disciplined by the principal. I tease and tell them I want to get in line first.
3a. I feel humbled and honored that two different principals want me for their schools. These are small positions and not a big deal, but still... All I can do is shake my head in disbelief that at my age one can embark on something new.
4. Audrey had a couple of hours free and spent it visiting with me : ).
5. Tess dressed like a nerd today. So did everyone at the school. That must have been a sight to see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ready, Making an Appearance, Missed You

1. We came home late from our busy day and sat down to a dinner that simply needed to be reheated. Cooking it during spare time early this morning was worth the payback at 6:30 this evening : )
2. It's been so dark and drizzly the last four days, we didn't even notice the sun was shining. Driving down the road, I racked my brain trying to pinpoint when the sun had finally come out. I asked Tess, "When did the sun come out?" Neither of us could say.
3. On a nice little walk with Henri I reconnect with all the beautiful things along the road side. Bittersweet has lost its shell and is ready for harvest, tiny white asters, colored leaves, and muddy deer trails that break through the underbrush. It's been so long since I took the time to walk outside and I've genuinely missed these friends.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Successful Day, A Successful Life

"To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded. "

 Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Steve is away, attending his 35th high school reunion. My thoughts wander around what defines success.
2. Clouds hung low and gray all day. The rain was a fine mist, just enough to turn one's hair into tendrils. It was a cozy day of housekeeping and housewarming.
2a. A pumpkin here, some berries there, candles and cornucopias: I added a few touches of fall to the rooms.
2b. Audrey asked for my help to bake a pumpkin pie for her boyfriend. We baked two pies together and she decorated them with little pastry leaves. Audrey has a great sense of humor and she made me laugh while we waited for them to bake.
3. Lucky there's a man in the house to kill the wolf spider standing between me and my clothes dryer. Tess' boyfriend smooshes it with his bare hand. She and I are horrified and can't help but scream. He picks it up (again, bare handed!) to throw it away and we flee, running and screaming up the stairs and behind a locked door. Our behavior took him by surprise and he laughed hard at our antics.

Words to Live By: I Love This Quote by Anne Voskamp

"Theology can be talked about on Sundays, recorded at conferences – but it’s lived in kitchens or it dies at tables.
Doctrine in the kitchen is doctrine in real life.
Don’t belittle everyday pots and pans — they are the means to carry theology into the everyday of our lives."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Money Plant, Downtown, In Season

1. Last year B. gave me these branches from a money plant. I'm so glad I saved them. I like the way the window light filters through the tissue paper pods.

2. Tess' friend took this photo of the outdoor farmer's market in Roanoke. The wonderful thing about farmer's markets is the way they change with the seasons. They are equally beautiful in winter as in summer, but especially so in spring and fall.
3. I bought an interesting flattened out, pale green, pumpkin/gourd thing at the Country Corner nursery. I look forward to doing a little fall decorating this weekend : )

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day Off, The Tap House, Tango

1. Whoo hoo! No school today!
2. I met a friend at the recently opened Tap House for lunch. Perhaps men drink more beer than women (?), but this place was packed with ladies at lunch time today. I ordered a burger made with local, organic beef and it was delicious.
3. The MP3's Steve leaves in my car just keep cracking me up. There will be a 40's crooner followed David Bowie followed by jazz. I never know what's going to pop up so, I'm constantly surprised. I enjoyed Mi Confesion by Gotan Project today. (The tango made me miss you, Chelsea.)
3a. ..and then I remembered Tess would like an accordion. ha,ha.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rainy Monday, For a Change, A Change in Weather

1. During the night the sound of heavy rain wakes me. By morning it's a downpour. I love rainy days! I echo this sentiment at work with, "Good Morning! Don't you just love rainy days?!"
2. As a change from our regular homemade pizza, I made Chicago style pizza tonight. It's baked in a deep dish with a chewy, thick crust and layered with Italian sausage, Mozarella, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and Parmesan.
3. A cool front has moved in and fall returns. The weather is full of variety today.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend in Raleigh

1. We tossed our overnight bags into the trunk, loaded Henri into the back seat and drove off for the weekend. We made it only as far as Boones Mill before we stopped at a church yard sale. Thirty minutes out and I'm already having fun.
2. A fifty-pound bag of apples takes up half the trunk. It's a joy to open the trunk and smell the apple- sweet scent.
3. Jack lies across Steve's lap, gazing up at his Pop and just chilling out. Steve plays a tune on the recorder for him. Then he hands Jack a penny whistle and Jack blows into it. He keeps blowing and here they play a duet.
4. I call Mari over to my suitcase and I tell her that I have something for her. She squats down close while I open the zipper and slide out a new book for her. She's very happy with this gift and she wants me to read it to her right away. When it's finished she asks, "What else do you have for me in your suitcase?"
5. Mari shows me something she discovered in her rice box. I act surprised and say, "Well whadya know!" Without looking up from her play, in a matter-of-fact voice she says, "I know everything."
6. It just want to hug, squeeze, kiss, and smoosh my grandchildren. I know kids find this annoying as all get out, so I use every ounce of self control to restrain from this behavior.
7. When it's time for me to leave, Mari thanks me for the book and the pumpkins. I'm impressed by her good manners and that she remembered this from the day before.
8. We take a leisurely drive home through scenic Hillsborough. It's a beautiful weekend for a southern autumn drive. We make two more impromptu stops at junk/antique shops. We show each other the favorite things we find. Steve shows me a delicate pink and floral tea set. He says if one of our daughters was just setting up house, he would choose this for them. He hands me a cup so I can feel how delicate it is.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Roar, Making It Linger, Crunchy Peanut Butter

1. I have their attention now! I'm pitting one class against the other in a game of trivia. My, how they are competitive.
2. It's a warm summer evening in autumn and perfect to stay outdoors  A downtown playground brightened with lights is still filled with children playing.
3. A good old PB&J sandwich with potato chips on the side. You just gotta have one of these every once in a while.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Turn, I Would Choose Teal, Red and Lime Green but Actually End Up Buying Black, Henri

1. Being able to selfishly say to friends, "OK, can we talk about me now?" and sharing my burden to sympathetic ears.
2. Some really nice fashion catalogs came in the mail. I saved them as a special treat to browse through while I sat in my favorite chair. I love to window shop this way, folding pages and imagining how I would wear this or that. I never actually buy any of them because that's not what window shopping is all about. It's non-committal.
3. I plop down on the sofa beside my husband at the end of a long day. Henri curls up in the crook of my arm and I absentmindedly pet him. After a moment, I look down and realize how calming and comforting it is to pet him. I think he came to me more for my benefit than his own. Husband listens and Henri cuddles. God is good.