Friday, October 31, 2014

Goings On- the Good, the Bad, and the Creative

1. The fact that it was Halloween wasn't forefront in my mind during the day. So, every time I saw a costumed person out in public I was taken a little off-guard. The result was a day punctuated with little surprises for me.
1a. Just a reminder of what's not OK- An adult delivery man who approaches an elementary school with a bandana tied over his face. No blood, no gore, just a bandana. This was probably the scariest thing I saw all day.(We refused him entry until he removed the bandana.)
2. We had a quiet evening with Tess and Ian hanging out at home. Tess thought we should listen to The Edgar Winter Group's Frankenstein so we put it on the turntable. Then we got into searching some other songs with Halloweeny titles. I couldn't find the Alan Parsons Project, The Raven, but I did find Lucifer. Ian put on ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition with it's classic pipe organ which fit the mood of Halloween perfectly.

2b. We dined on pancakes and bacon. In my mind, this is a Halloween meal because my mother happened to make it one Halloween when I was little and it stuck in my memory as associated with Halloween. Simple as that.
3. I had a good and hot cup of coffee with dinner. It was comforting on this chilly, damp evening.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Hallowen!, Read to Someone, Flavors of Fall

1. Our Awkward Family Photo made it to the Hall of Fame at You have to know Steve to know his sense of humor...
2. Daniel's conversation with two-year-old Jack still makes me laugh:

Jack, running up to us with a book in his hand: Read to you! Read to you!
Daniel: Say, "Read to me."
Jack: Read to you. 
Daniel: Read to ME. 
Jack: Read to you.
Daniel: Read 
Jack: Read
Daniel: To me
Jack: To me you.

3. I chose a fall menu for our lunch with Autumn Bisque made with butternut squash accompanied by grilled sandwiches made with cinnamon swirl bread, apple butter, paper thin slices of MacIntosh apples, and American cheese. I think lunch is my favorite meal.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Love..., Left Behind, Still Around

1. There is a Milkweed seed floating by. They are such soft and delicate little structures that I'm compelled catch them and stroke them on my cheek before I send them on their way again.
2. At the back door I notice the imprint of a little mouth on the glass. It definitely belongs to a little child I wonder whose tiny mouth kissed the glass.
3. I'm still amazed by all the blooms going on around here. My Otto Van Luyken laurel is covered in white blooms (and an occasional honey bee), the red begonias that I thought I would dislike, but now love, stand cheery and bright, and our friends have cosmos blooming in their yard. My inner calendar will forever be on New York time so this all continues to be a surprise for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Touring, Just Us, A Bit of Porch Time

1. Tess and I toured the campus of Hollins University. One hundred year old red brick buildings are nestled among huge, old trees on idyllic grounds. The beautiful scent of age graces the interior of many of these structures, reminding me of the rich history that has gone before us.
1a. The library's third floor contains all books authored by Hollins graduates. The shelves are full to overflowing with authors such as Annie Dillard, who wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon. This space was truly inspirational.
2. Audrey and Jared came over to join us for burgers on the grill. It was just the four of us tonight and I enjoyed the intimacy of such a visit.
3. The weather has turned mild enough to be out on the porch this evening. Eventually the wind kicked up and drove me inside, but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn Dinner, Guests, Shelter

photo courtesy of
1. I made Rosemary-Garlic Pork with Roasted Vegetables for our dinner guests tonight. It was a perfect autumn meal. Just to smell this dinner roasting is worth making it.
2. Daughter #2 phoned this afternoon and asked to come spend the night. I had just enough time to pick her up and get back in time to cook. I was so glad she could join our dinner party and spend the night at home. The extra helping hands didn't hurt either.
3. The colder temperatures are accompanied by gusty winds. I'm grateful for every little windbreak when I'm walking Henri, whether it's a hedgerow or dip in the landscape. Anything to be sheltered from that wind!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Youngest is Older, Pretty Dessert, Cute Movie

1. Youngest turns eighteen today. Oh my goodness, where does the time go?
2. I made fruit pizzas per her request. The brightly colored fruits arranged in starburst patterns are a treat for the eyes (and taste buds).
3. We watched Thirteen Going on Thirty, which was apropos for the occasion.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gathering Fall, Choosing Surprises, What's Cooking

1. I was inspired into creativity by the variety of little pumpkins and gourds at Southern States. Later in the day, Henri and I brought home some bittersweet from our walk and added that to the mix. Lastly, I found an old cast iron griddle at the antique shop I like to browse while Tess was at her piano lesson. I put it all together and voila!
1a. The little pumpkins have cute little tendrils on them 
2. I also gathered up little surprises for Tess' birthday tomorrow.
3. I made Slow Cooker Pork Cacciatore for dinner. The pork cooks to tender perfection and falls apart on your fork. It's delicious over pasta.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

1. The really neat thing about volunteering, the thing that brings me joy every time, is that I end up working side by side with someone I don't know very well. Two or more of us are thrown together in a situation, perhaps in the dirt pulling weeds as we were today, and suddenly the labor doesn't feel like labor any more.
2. Our friends have once again dusted off their antique apple press and made a party of cider-making. We arrive with a bag of horse apples, two empty gallon jugs, and a dessert to share. The whole affair is work intensive. One person washes the apples, another loads the hopper, another churns the crank, and another presses the pulp down into the slat bucket. Two more people pour the juice through a filter into various jugs. It's a chilly, fall day with lots of good food and a jolly time all around.
3. The nights have finally turned cold for the first time this season. I snuggle under the down comforter and enjoy the hibernation, at least for a few hours.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let Me Out!, Breaking Up, Put Your Feet Up

1. After several days of rain, the sun finally shone through breaks in the clouds. I couldn't wait to be outside! When I opened the back door, I could just feel the possibilities of things to do.

2. Looking back toward the house, the sky was overwhelming. The clouds are always most beautiful after a storm.
3. Steve returned home from his trip just as we sat down for dinner. He was so tired and I was glad there was nothing pressing he needed to do so he could crash and go to sleep early.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Subdued, The Office, Bed Time

1. It's a classic, rainy Monday morning. Whatever I imagine the archetypal rainy Monday to be, today was it.
2. Some of the school children are chronically speechless when they come into the office. They walk up to my desk and stare at me with a look of fear in their eyes and expect me to read their minds. I have found that if I just start asking questions, especially easy questions like, "What's your name?" their faces flood with relief. Although, if I ask for their last name, the look of fear returns.
3. I'm sitting on the bed reading bedtime stories to grandchildren Mari and Jack. These are the same beds our girls slept in when they were young and for a moment I am back in time and nothing has changed even a bit!
3a. Jack has learned the art of somersaults. Because of his compact, two-year-old size, he reminds me of a little roly-poly bug. He somersaults around on the floor while I read bedtime stories. He does the same in the bathroom when we brush teeth. It's interesting, going about my business with a little boy rolling around at my feet.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

From Me To You, Might As Well Sleep, My New Love

1. An older couple from church gave us a bag of apples from their apple trees. These are the kinds of gifts that are dear, are they not? The apples are plain ugly, just like old-fashioned, home grown apples should be. They smell terrific and are full of flavor.
2. What a dreary, rainy day! I took one official nap in the recliner, then I dozed off two more times in my chair while I was reading.
3. Steve bought me a paring knife from Williams Sonoma to replace my favorite knife which he broke the tip off of several months ago. The old knife was a perfect five-and-dime knife that was so old I don't recall where it came from. The new knife is a Cadillac of knives and I am deeply in love with it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Birthday Weekend, Bonfire, DIY Photo Booth

1. Happiness is little visitors who wear cuddly sleeper pajamas and come down for breakfast hugging teddy bears.
2. The weather broke long enough for us to take a walk. I was surprised by all the wildflowers still blooming: Asters, Golden Rod, Chicory, Queen Anne's Lace, Butter and Eggs, Honeysuckle, and Morning Glories.
3. The rain also held back for just enough hours so we could hold Tess's birthday bonfire.
 We adjusted the plan and kept the food close to the house in case we needed to bring everything inside quickly. We set this up under the arbor, which is always pretty when lit from above with small globe lights. We placed luminaries near the opening in the fence so guests could easily find their way into the field after dark. Tess set up a photo booth in the horse shed, close to the bonfire. She and her guests had great fun filling an entire memory card with their antics. These photos are a great keepsake for her 18th birthday as well as something fun to print and share with her guests.

She made a poster,
added a suitcase filled with props,
created a backdrop with streamers and tissue paper flowers,
set the camera on a tripod, and clicked away!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Subtle Shift, A New Path, Dinner Parties, It's the Little Things

1. Autumn colors have shifted from a palette of blue, green, and gold to deeper burgundy, yellow, and red.
2. Henri and I walk across the field and meander a little bit because it's much more interesting than the roadside today.
3. About every four months the ladies at church mix up into little dinner groups and one lady volunteers to be hostess. You never know who you will dine with until you show up! Tonight's dinner was a five course, autumn meal, finer than any restaurant could serve. The best part is talking to women with whom I would otherwise never have much chance to sit and visit.
4. Every single day my co-worker thanks me for helping her as I leave work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An Elastic Waistband, Company for Dinner, For Now...

1.  You know how a favorite, comfortable outfit just makes your day? I found one of those to wear today. It wasn't a perfect day, but I sure felt good maneuvering through it.
2. Daughter #3 called at 5:30pm. while driving home from work. After some small talk, she asked the leading question, "Are you having dinner tonight?" (You know what this question means.) "Yes, I'm cooking dinner."  I calmly answer. She can't see me peek into the pan of boiling potatoes to check the amount and frantically pull open the freezer door to count how much fish was there. "Can we come over?" she asks. "Of course! That would be great!" I reply, "We have exactly enough." And we do. And I'm truly happy they're coming over.
3. Daughter #2 is making a very long road trip, solo. I know now that a mother is never finished feeling anxious for her children to be safe no matter how grown they are. It is with great relief at the end of the day when I know she has reached her destination safely that I fall soundly asleep.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Trust, Energized, Boiling Down

1. The young dentist promises I will feel better. He is so sure that I believe him. He prescribes steroids, along with the antibiotics I'm already, taking and within hours I improve! I am so deeply thankful for relief from the pain.
1a. When I was debating about which endodontist to choose, Daughter #3, who is a hygienist, suggested I choose the younger doctor. I felt like I was taking a huge gamble since his practice was only open for four months, but I took her advice and she was right!
2. I fell into such a deep sleep in my car while I waited for Daughter #4 at her piano lesson that she startled me at the window when she came out. I was a little embarrassed, but we laughed and I felt so good and revitalized that it was worth it.
3. The last five pounds of apples is simmering into apple butter. All night it simmers and all night the house fills with autumn: apples, cinnamon and cloves. (and a little nutmeg and allspice)   

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Roosting Box, Fire Building, Finishing Touch

1. We put up our first roosting box for small birds. A roosting box differs from a nesting box in that its intention is a warm home for winter rather than a place to nest and rear young. We're hoping the bluebirds find it first. A section of capped dryer duct attached to the pole serves as a snake baffle.

Wire mesh around the entrance will deter racoons, cats, etc from reaching in.
2. Steve spent the rest of the day making music with the chainsaw. Tess drove the pickup truck around the field helping her dad haul and pile the wood. It will be her October birthday bonfire : )
Amassing the wood.
She separated the wood by size. That's a pile of black walnuts mixed with grass in the foreground.
3. Audrey, Jared, and Ian joined us for dinner and we ended the day with a perfectly decadent chocolate cake.

*I'm on an alternating combo of extra-strength Tylenol, 600mg Motrin, and Hydrocodone following a root canal last week. Dental work for me will never be easy. I surface through the pain for an hour or two as the medicine kicks in, then down I go again. It was a glorious day in which I wish I could have participated more. I was merely an observer of this one.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Weeds to Riches, Chainsaw Weather, Floating Entertainment

1. Tiny pink wildflowers, barely visible in the tall grass we were stomping through, are brought into the house where they adorn the windowsill.
2. The old fruit trees that line the neighbor's lane are dying away. It's sad to see them disappear this way, but they do have one more thing to give us. Steve will cut the sour cherry and the apple into firewood to warm our basement this winter. I can imagine their sweet smell already.
2a. An apple pie spilled over into the oven and the juice burned on the bottom. That good smell  reminds me of the firewood above.
3. I stood absentmindedly watering the shrubs and staring into space when I saw a lone, white, fluffy seed go floating by. It meandered on barely a touch of breeze, up and away, far from where it had come.