Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Notes

Saturday morning bike ride.

Saturday afternoon nap.

My Dad ran a 5K this morning.
164 out of 219 overall (male) and 5th out of 8 in the 65+.
My Dad is 84.  And, my hero.

Pea soup for dinner.  Yes, yes, it was REALLY foggy out this morning (and I LOVE foggy mornings; I should move to London Town...), so maybe that was the impetus?

The Grad student graduate Gillian has a museum job!

Venturing out to the cutting garden for roses this evening, so that we can be welcomed to our morning.

Full moon!  Cool air!  Coyotes yipping...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Some Branches of Our Tree

The car pulled into our gravel drive. Its occupants were a great-grandmother, her granddaughter, a 3-year old great-granddaughter, and finally, a 10-week old baby girl, also a great.

The three-year old wildly spilled out of her car seat after the 6-hour drive.  "LOOK!" was her only greeting to me, her great Auntie Tricia.  And she thrust a harmonica in her mouth and began playing.

Hugs all around, with voices reaching just barely over our harmonica accompaniment.  This was the beginning of our eagerly-anticipated week.  My Mom, my niece, and her two daughters drove six hours to visit us in rural Kansas!

I have to mention here that the harmonica was my mother's idea.  Granny packed it in her purse and pulled it out after riding in the car for 30 minutes.  I would have loved to have seen my niece Amy's reaction.  Granny's surprise for 3-year old Addison had to wait till the last two miles of their trip.

Harmonica music for the angel fish
Helping Uncle Paul ready his bike gear:
 We packed a picnic basket and hiked across the pasture to the Shady Tree.
Waffle sandwiches and pesto bread.
Addison chose the pesto bread.
"What are you doing, Gill?"
"I'm running."
"Because it's fun."
"But WHY?"
(We heard this question a lot this week...)
Planting a feather.  Will a duck grow?
(The decorative knee bandaids were the result of a near-faceplant on our gravel drive not one hour into her visit.)
We visited our ranch neighbors down the road:
Exploring the grotto pond with Gillian...
Granny and Baby Lilah:
 A von Trapp Family moment:
The remains of a day: three pine cones, one feather, and a harmonica
What a terrific week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Report and Life

I have been reading an interesting book this week.  I am THRILLED to exclaim that it held my interest - for the most part.  How often have I read a book and gotten to perhaps the last 5th or so of it, at least towards its ending, and it seems to me that the author is fizzling out?  Tired of working on this old book, so let's leapfrog through the last few chapters and be done with it!

Maybe it's just me.  But, no, I don't think so.  Had I been the editor of this book, I would have asked for more writing towards the end.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H it out a bit.

The book I read was about a nun.  Appropriately, the title of the book is Nun.  It's all about a nun.  In 1961.  How the young 15-year old decided to become a nun, where she went to become a nun, how she became a nun, OK - you get the gist of it.  It was a good read!  Except it was too abbreviated towards the end.

I just had a neighbor stop by to borrow 72 soup spoons.  (Because I have 'em!)  Then she mentioned that she was hoping to acquire some gourds, which she had no name for, but only a physical description.  "Birdhouse gourds?  I have them.  Lots of them."  I walked her through the yard over to the Darwinian garden and then to my cutting garden.  I showed her the tangle of gourds vs tomatoes, and the second season of roses blooming in the cutting garden, as well as the very healthy perennials that I planted early last spring, by seed, and now have forgotten what I planted - I have no idea what the name is.  But I have lots of them, and they are bloomin' idiots just now.  So pretty.  Pity I can't recall what I planted.  As we circled back, past the insipid racket of dogs barking (why can't they be nice dogs?), my friend stopped to look at the healthy rows of salvia and lavender on Mt. Paul.  And her gaze followed the noise of the baker's dozen Indian Runner ducks who were, yes, running through the yard catching bugs and quacking for each victorious catch.

And my friend deadpanned, "You live in an amusement park."

Indeed, I do.

Huh; did she mean mentally?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Garden Grows

A friend asked about my Darwinian Garden this week.
This is what it looks like from a distance.
Not too bad, given the long summer drought and high temperatures, and given that we are nearing the end of September.

 But let's have a closer look.  Oh, my.  Up close, one can see the tangles of plants.
And weeds.

 Tomato vines in with the birdhouse gourds:
 Horseradish in the fennel rows:
 Eggplant masquerading as a pepper...

And the peppers encroaching on the nasturtiums' property...

 That Spouse o' Mine reports that we may have frost tonight.  If that's the case, then some of this happy garden will wilt away.  But is the temperature just hovers in the mid-30s, and as long as we have this:
...and these...
...then we will still get to enjoy some of these:


Friday, September 21, 2012

Those Kids!

The kids have been doing home improvements for me over the summer.
I wanted a ceiling medallion on our dining room light fixture. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I received a phone call this afternoon from a friend down south, and so I took the phone out to the grotto, nice and shady and cool, to chat.  The mosquitoes apparently took advantage of my inactive body and feasted on my exposed ankle.  Dang exposed ankle.

After chatting on the phone, I walked out to the Brickhouse where we last left the mosquito repellant after our potluck this weekend   I sprayed the repellant on my exposed ankles (note: it is SOooo nice to be fully-clothed again (save ankles), in this coolish autumnal September week.)

Later, I was out in our front yard doing who-knows-what, and I smelled...a scent.  I did not like this scent.  From whence was this odor coming?  That thought came and went as I came and went through the yard moving water hoses hither and thither and yon.  Water, water, everywhere, and not enough to quench the thirst of all our plants and lawn.  Another year, perhaps, on our plants and lawn.

The scent, the odor, did not leave me, through watering the lawn and gardens, through my outdoor tasks of frolicking with the dogs  (and truth be told?  I might like the canine scent better than whatever was following me.)  Ugh.

Finally, it occurred to me: that nasty bug repellant!  They (the makers) scented it!!!

Why would a maker of bug repellant scent something?  Bugs hone in to scents.

Oooh..  Maybe the nasty scent I was smelling is equally repellant to the mosquitoes?


I don't know.

All I know is, there's a shower going on soon, to get rid of that nasty scent.  Odor.  Stench.               

Take One:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Food and Fugitives

I am making a vegetable terrine tonight to go with the corn and cod:

Vegetable Terrine

I hope it tastes good, because it looks pretty and that's one third of the meal deal, I think.  That's not a direct quote from my mother, but pretty close.  She says that what color of plate/platter/bowl can enhance a menu or not.  (Example: Don't serve white gravy in a white bowl.)  The terrine looks very pretty on that website, so here's hoping... Oh, and I switched out the peas for spinach, because all week long I have been craving spinach and collard greens, which means nature is telling me to up the greens consumption.  And I have - every day this week.  I think the peas sound good though, and I would add a mint leaf or two to the processor, because that's how I love me peas.  (That is not a typo.  Me goes with pea.) 

My sister-in-law had an exciting day today.  She and my brother have a gorgeous rural home in rural Oklahoma.  There is a long, winding drive from the main road up to their house.  They have it gated, so no hobos or other ilk can just sally up their long, winding drive to the house.

But apparently, that's just the type who might help themselves to the property.  Not hobos, but "ilk".  My SIL got a call at work today.  The sherrif or police or whoever needed entry onto the property, as there was a wanted escapee in the area, and they were wondering if he was on their propery.  She drove out to the house, opened the gate for the law, and went back to work.  The sad ending (in my opinion) was that the man was shot and killed, not on their property, but in the immediate vicinity.  

Back in our East Lansing days, we had a large and not-so-nice dog named Max.  We acquired Max from the North Shore Animal League on Long Island.  That's a long (and fun) story for another day.  I hope I remember to write about Max.  Anyway, Max did not like strangers and sometimes did not like people we felt were friends and family.  ( brother-in-law?  My MOTHER?!)

One night, late and after we had adjourned to bed, Max started up like an idiot dog wanting to eat someone.  He was making vicious noises out in the back yard.  After a bit, that Spouse o' Mine got out of bed, headed to the back door.  (Note about that Spouse o' Mine that he probably would prefer I NOT note: he was not wearing any jammers when he opened the back door to come nearly face-to-face with the police officer in our yard.) 

There were several policemen in our front and back yards, looking for someone who was trying to hide from them.  I won't go into great detail, but there was a man who had had a domestic dispute with his wife (on our street) and she called the police and he fled.  And let's cut to the chase (ha ha):  he had climbed up our neighbors' tree and that was where he was hiding through all Max barking and the officers in our yard and that Spouse o' Mine appearing....oh, well;  You probably get the scenario.

Anyway, let's get back to the terrine: I have been on a vegetable terrine kick this summer, and I am LOVING them all!  I think we may be onto some new food fad, like fondue and queso.  Yummy!

 Remains of the Day:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fiddling and Bowing

This evening, still violin music.
Guitar music.

I had a cello lesson, 
and so the reflection 
of my lesson was heard, 

Maybe it did not sound as smooth 
as the violin or the guitar.
But music is music
in our house. 

I brought home a "Fiddling" music book from the music store.
The kids 
(adults, except in my mind.)
are fiddling with it.
They sound GOOD.

And my cello?
I sound
Only acceptable.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Poetry of the Air

I hear violin music upstairs.

I hear a guitar in the next room.

I see a cello, which begs to be played 
before my lesson tomorrow.

I love a home filled with music. 

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  ~Leopold Stokowski

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Odds and Ends

I was repairing an interior wall corner's joint tape this afternoon, re-taping and patching and re-painting (and no one should inspect the results with any critical opinion, unless that one should want to belly up to the spackling bar and do me a re-do of the re-do.)  There I am, in my element (or not), and the College Boy Graham remarks to me from in the kitchen, "It's not even close to Christmas, you know."


Oh, my.

I was singing Jingle Bell Rock.

September 8th.  

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, 
Jingle bell ring and jingle bell swing...

I had no idea I was singing.  Much less, singing a Christmas song.  Obviously (to me, anyway), my subconscious was somewhere besides late-summer rural Kansas.  My mind was off in Snowsville.  Winter Wonderland.  Holly-jollying it while I edged the joint compound onto the walls.  Visiting the Littlest Snowman with the Red Candy Heart.

Our minds: interesting things, no?  I was listening to NPR or BBC yesterday, and heard an article about an American para-Olympian swimmer who just last year had lost his sight in Afghanistan.  One thing he said really gave me pause to think: he said that he dreams and in his dreams he has sight, and then he wakes, and realizes he is blind.  What is a sad reality.  Very sad.

Our brains, our minds.  Such interesting organs.  I have studied several languages.  One of my college majors was German.  And having lived in Egypt, I studied Arabic and became conversational in it (as long as I was talking to the trash man or the ironing man or the stable owner or whomever I met on a regular basis.)  And before life in Egypt, and upon returning from Egypt, my jobs were airlines: Flight Attendant.

So, know now, that some of my BEST dreams entail flying (never bad dreams, but always exciting take-offs and landings from places in Europe that I have experienced), and occasionally, the dream is "auf Deutsch" or "bil Arabi".

Who knows why my mind goes to those places.  They are always pleasant dreams.   

And so - Jingle Bell Rock?  I am thinking: Simply, subconsciously, looking forward to winter.

Oh, yes.  Walking in the Winter Wonderland...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


I am still reveling in my personal "Homecoming " weekend last week. 
My Mom's birthday and our potluck celebration of her birthday.  Her life.
This is my Mom, to a "T". with a giant capital T:

Our family has a million or so photos of my Mom embracing, cuddling, rocking, laughing with, reading to, teaching, coaching, numerous kids throughout the years.  Lord have mercy, I hope to look as good as she does, come my 84th birthday. Throughout the decades.  Honestly, this woman is the recipient of any and all "Nurturing" medals, or "Lead them through to the next generation" award.
Mainly?  I think, teaching.  My Mom is the teacher extraordinaire.  We five "original" kids probably never realized that we were being taught, at home.  Home-schooled, without the hours involved.  We all went to public schools, and "homeschooling" was not even a thought way back then.  But my Mom taught us very well, outside of school hours.
My Mom went back to work when I, the youngest of five children, was in 3rd grade.  My Mom worked in the office of a grade school (not "ours").  My Mom was so great in the Momming league.  She brought home fun papers for my brother Mike and me ( Mike is a year older than I).  Whatever she found in the office "printer" (that was not what it was called then of course), that was age-appropriate for us two, she would snag a couple of sheets and bring home to us.  I thought it was like dessert: Coloring in Navajo style?  Listening to The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler (sp?)
Heaven, it was.  Mom made it so.  Yes - she had to leave before we did in the mornings, and she arrived home after we did in the afternoons, but I think that I was (we were?)  better off for having this "enrichment Mom" coming home to us.

And now, to see my Mom, not with us, her kids, not with her grandkids, but her GREATgrandkids!  She is ever the Mom, the Grandmother, the great-Grandmother.  So energetic and always thinking of ways to enrich the youngetrs' well-beings.

Here's to my Mom!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


The College Boy goes to Western Washington University.  He is spending his summer in the Flint Hills of Kansas, working on an internship in computer science.

Tonight he and I were trying to ascertain the name of some giant moth found out in our pasture - not a luna - but some large, geometrically-designed moth.   

The College Boy told me about some man in Washington who is discovering new moth species and naming them for his daughter, his wife, etc.  I remarked that I wouldn't necessarily like to have a moth named after me.  Tricia Moth?  Kind of a No-Go.

He responded:  What if there is a moth which secretes an enzyme which will cure cancer?  Wouldn't it be neat to have it named after you?

Ok.  He's got me there, I suppose.

This is why it's great to have the kids home for the summer.  They make me think, and ponder, and surmise. 


I have been counting my blessings today.  For no particular reason, but it just seems like a worthy exercise in mental health to periodically be thankful for whatever it is that is going well in one's life.

Let's see...

I ran this morning.  I can't tell you how far or how fast.  It was in the semi-dark time just before sunrise, around our pasture, (5 times, but that tells us nothing), dodging a giant Bloodhound and a dark-on-dark Bouvier.

I went to a women's Bible study this morning.  It's been a LONG time since I have attended any Bible study, and I think this one is not a match, but nevertheless, I am giving a thumbs-up for having the opportunity to see about it.  And I have told myself I will give it another two weeks...

Back-to-school, back-to-cello!  I took two months off from cello lessons this summer - the first break I have taken in the three years of cello-dom.  I returned to lessons this afternoon, even though I STILL have a gimpy hand (my bow hand) from that ridiculous incident involving the car door and my hand.  But!  It is healing, still.

I have a job.  That's where I should end the Counting, right?  I have a job.  I have had this job for ten years.  It's a home-based business that was bequeathed to me by my scientist husband.  I have never REALLY wanted to have said job, but I work at said job and said job works for us.  What does this mean?  I looked back today at finances and taxes and things I HATE to look at, (and this, after that Spouse o' Mine lamented a few weeks ago:where is that money going?!"), and I see that without my job, our kids probably would not have afforded college without incurring those ridiculous debts one hears about in the news. An investment, I say.

The College Boy came home from his summer job/internship and that is a blessing.  A) My Boy has been home this summer.  B) He has a great job. 

That Spouse o' Mine also came home this afternoon, and promptly jumped on his bike to go enjoy a group ride with other cyclists.  I am happy that he is happy and healthy and has healthy friends.

All-in-all, a good day. 

Oh! One more blessing!  An air conditioner.

For this ridiculously hot, humid, awful weather.

Thanks be to God.

Sunday, September 02, 2012


"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
-   John Updike, September

We've got the apple peels.  And peach peels.  I have a ripe pumpkin in the oven as I write.  Tomatoes still out in the Darwinian Garden, as well as peppers.  The new, "Winter Garden" sprouts are appearing, as well as that irritating horseradish which refuses to go away.  

Thankfully, we don't have the smell of burning brush - that might mean a catastrophe in these drought-ridden parts.  

This foggy morning, on the early morning Bouvier and Bloodhound romp, I stopped to study some giant sunflowers down by the creek.  There was a bumble bee asleep on one of the flowers.  This is the second bumble bee I have caught napping on the job on one of these sunflowers, and I need to find out why.  Anyone know?

Here it is, the first day of September.  On the drive in to church this morning, I thought how nice it will be to have frosty mornings.  I am tired of gardening.  It has been an unpleasant struggle this summer, and one I do not wish to experience again.  I am already in the autumnal spirit, I suppose: I baked brownies this afternoon and also the pumpkin.  Our fourteen New England Pie Pumpkins ripened in July this year, not October, so we have been enjoying pumpkin ice cream instead of pumpkin pie.  But, I might make a pie later this week with this pumpkin. Eleven pumpkins eaten, three to go. (I did plant a new row of New Englanders last month, experimenting with the hot weather.  I don't know if hours of sunlight plays into the ripening as it does with tomatoes...stay tuned...)

And so here we are, the first of September: air conditioner on, the forecast calls ofr triple digits tomorrow in rural Kansas, and I am contemplating pumpkin pie.

That's OK.  In the past, with three kids living in three different places (or coasts), I have made Thanksgiving Dinner in September.  One must just...make do.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Let's Backtrack a Bit

The trouble with using both a PC and a laptop is that one forgets (or: I forget) that I have written this on that, and vice versa.

A fleeting couple of weeks ago, that Spouse o' Mine and I enjoyed a weekend in the mountains with a niece, her spouse, and their diminutive, non-stop toddler.  (NONSTOP!! In a good way, of course.)

We four, and five, shared dinner recipes, baby anecdotes (ours were a generation old, but maybe still ripe for the taking.)  That Spouse o' Mine and the Nephew-in-law cycled up and down various mountain passes...

That Spouse o' Mine talked nephew (in-law) Josh into riding down Hoosier Pass. 
Speeds entered 39 mph.
Boo for safety. 
Yay (I suppose) for adventure. 

 And our darling niece Charlotte, the nonstop energy Kid of the Year.
So fun.
So happy.
So precious!
We did this same song and dance exactly a year ago when Baby Charlotte was exactly a wee five weeks old.  And then, successfully again this year.  And my dear niece Lisa and I have decided:  It's a go: an annual event!

I am tickled, 
tickled pink!

All in the Family

Last Tuesday I called brothers, 
nieces, and nephews: 
Come to a birthday party for Mom/Granny.  
(My mother)  
Bring food.

Less than two days later we descended on my parents' home in Oklahoma.  
What fun!

Granny and Great-grandbaby #3, (of four!), Lilah Grace.
 There is no shortage of loving arms 
for any baby in our family...
Lilah and Uncle Mike
 Lilah's mother, Amy
 Lilah's grandfather, Pops
 Lilah's sister Addison, and their Auntie Lisa
 Granny and toddler Charlotte. 
 Addison and me!
And how many towers did we two build 
and knock over that evening?!
It was an evening of laughter and good food.
Such a whirlwind of activity!
Happy birthday, Mom.    
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