Sunday, July 31, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Summer and baseball. They go together.

Sissies and I headed out to the local farm team today to take in a game, along with all the kids, husbands and Dad.

Sunny, breezy, not too hot, not too cold. Just right, Goldilocks.

A great way to spend a summer day. 
This is not a plug for any particular soda company. I just like the blue of the umbrella against the stadium and the sky. Their competitor's logo would have been just as pretty, I'm sure.

I don't even drink soda. I try to drink only water. And sometimes iced tea on a hot summer day.

And Sue's Sangria. I drink that when it's put in front of me. Or I make it and put it there myself.

Oh yeah, that's good sangria.
D and E started singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with Other Sissy while we were eating lunch. 

I was sitting quietly, eating my hotdog, when I got an elbow from E to join in. 

So I did.

It was fun. Sure, people were watching us. But they were smiling.

MR was mortified. But secretly? I think she enjoyed our singing. Look at her eyes. Don't they look like they're enjoying our song?
Yum. 

Nothing like a hotdog at a ballpark.
The Man and I have tickets to see the Red Sox this week. 

Fenway Park.

Wow. Haven't been there since I was a kid. 

I. can't. wait.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nana Banana

We've had a rather busy week. As  you can tell from the lack of posting here.

Nan is turning 95 this September so we decided to celebrate her birthday last week at the family reunion. Almost everyone was able to come, even some cousins from Georgia. The Man was the only one who couldn't come.

I'll have to Photoshop him into the family photograph we took.

He's going to love that.

Honey, can you come outside and kneel down kind of in front of that flowering bush? No, tilt your shoulder to the left, not the right. Okay, life your head up just a little. There. Hold still. Oh no, you moved. Now we have to line it all up again. Stay still this time!
Nan got a bit overwhelmed by all the nice words, and all the love that was heading in her direction. We've never had a reunion where all her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids were able to be there. 

I love the expression on E's face, looking at Nan.
I love this woman so.darn.much.

She's one of the finest women I know, along with my MIL. And you already know how much I love her.

When we were kids, we would visit her and Gramps almost every weekend during good weather. On Friday nights, when she was working, my mom and sister and I would go and pick her up when she got out of the factory.

She had the coolest job ever.

On a production line, IN A COOKIE FACTORY!

{Think "I Love Lucy" in the episode with her and Ethel working a production line in a chocolate factory.}

She would bring home boxes and bags of cookies and crackers that were sold in the discard shop. We didn't care if they were broken. We loved them all.

How great is that to a kid? Your grandmother working in a cookie factory. It was the best job ever.
We had a great day, visiting and catching up with each other.

And that chocolate cake in the first picture?

Yum.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Goldilocks, Mermaids and Pink Skies

The skies at the beach this weekend looked more like November skies.

Lots of dramatic color. And clouds.
And pink. Lots and lots of pink.

I could have shot all night long. But the bugs started to come out. 

The girls and I were good down by the water because we were playing next to the breaking waves. And bugs don't like the water.

The Man and J and K, and sissy and BIL, were getting eaten alive up on the sandy beach part. They don't like to play "chase the waves". They probably think they're too hip to play. But all the cool kids were playing the game.

Guess what that makes me? Yup, a really cool kid.
I always wonder what people are thinking when they stand at water's edge. 

Looking out on the very. big. ocean.

It makes you feel very small and insignificant.
Last of the beach pictures.

But we're not done with the beach yet. There's still time left in the summer and we're already planning our next trip back.

This time with P. 

J is much happier when P comes with us. Plus, she becomes his target. And he leaves the rest of us alone. So we're much happier when P comes with us, too.
M celebrated a birthday last week but I didn't see her until this week. I didn't know what to get her. I searched and searched and searched for the gift that was just right, as Goldilocks would say.

And couldn't find it.

Not in a catalog. Not on etsy. Not anywhere I was looking.

So I made her a simple tote bag with a mermaid's tail on it. Since she loves mermaids.

She liked the bag. 

And that made me smile. It was just right.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stormy Weather

These steps have been taking us up and down to the beach for a very. long. time.

When I was a lot younger, I would semi-jog up the steps. Or at least, step lightly while going up.

Now, I go up a bunch of steps, pause and turn around, look out at the ocean and take a deep breath. Think bad thoughts about that extra fritter I had for breakfast. Decide I better eat a few more veggies and a few less cookies. Then I start climbing again.

Each year we return, we never know how many steps are going to be there. It depends on the winter. And how much sand blows in from the storms that hit. A tough winter means a lot of storms means the sand has usually washed out, exposing more steps.

Tough winter = tough summer of climbing.
Except sometimes.

Sometimes, the storms deposit sand on the beach, covering up some of the stairs. This makes for a shorter climb in the summer.

Tough winter = easy summer of climbing.
I've been thinking about this for a little while. 


And decided that it's a great metaphor for life.
Some storms that appear make decisions very difficult. So difficult you don't want to deal with them.  You push them under the rug. Hide them. Run away from them. 

Anything but deal with them.

Other storms strengthen us. Make us stronger, more focused, more determined. The path is clearer, the focus is sharper.

The decision is easy to make.
Either way, we're going to have storms to contend with.

Thank you, God, that I don't have to face them alone.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sunny Days at the Beach

Beach days. Happy-me days.

Sitting by the side of the sea, searching for seashells, and buried treasure, and looking for mermaids with my nieces. 

Feeling the warmth of the sun and the cool of the water on hot skin. Waiting for a breeze. 
Playing "chase the waves" with my nieces, just like we used to do with J and K when they were wee little ones.

Running away from the waves, knowing that a big one could come at. any. moment.

And when that happens?

Well, wet shorts and a stern warning not to go out TOO DEEP.

A few giggles. And then the cover-up.

Pulling the sweatshirt down to the knees, hoping Mom won't see the evidence of a stroll too far on the wild side. Flirting with the big waves. And losing.
One night is always "let's go out to eat" night. 

At the local clam shack. With lots of picnic tables and lovely red striped umbrellas.

We do this after a full day on the beach. A day spent flea-marketing, finding more treasure. Stuff you can't leave behind. Like a pretty orange teapot with a white daisy on it.

Not that I bought one. 

Well, I did. 

But if I hadn't? Someone else would have taken that pretty teapot home and she was meant to live at my house. With tall white daisies nestling inside. 
The best part of the beach?

Spending it with the people you love.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hot Fun in the Summertime

The thick of summer.

That's what we're in right now.

Hanging by the pool. Sweating glasses filled with iced tea. Double stuffed Oreo's, frosting all soft and sugary from sitting in the sun.

Tuna noodle salad for lunch. Simply made with noodles, mayo, and tuna. Some salt and pepper. Like my mom used to make for us all summer long.

Sun ripened veggies, straight from the garden, picked fresh for dinner.

Playing card games and Yahtzee at night with fans blowing all around. Listening to big fat June bugs hit the screens and then drop to the ground.

Bowls of ice cream for dessert. Root beer floats. Italian ices.
I love this hat on D. She looks so glamorous.

Like a 1950s starlet.

Only pint-sized.
Then there's Brigitte Bardot. Er, I mean E.

But really.

That hair?

Looking like Brigitte Bardot.

Who knew that a scuba mask could make you so glamorous?

~~~~~~~~~~

Here's to the dog days of summer. Hope you're enjoying them as much as I am.

*The term the "dog days of summer" describes a late-season hot spell. Its origin dates to the ancient Egyptians who held that the appearance of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the early morning sky added its heat to our suns to produce especially hot weather. Astronomically, the Egyptians calculated the dog days from July 3 to August 11. This added heat was believed to be the cause of seasonal flooding on the Nile. (from the Chicago Tribune)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cinderella, or The Search for a Smile

This photo has Cinderella written all over it. The orange. The curly tendril. 

It makes me smile.

I have no idea what plant this tendril is coming from. I think it's a pumpkin. 

But that's probably because I've got Cinderella on the brain.
Our backyard is not as colorful as this photo makes it appear.

Most of the flowers have gone by. The late summer ones aren't blooming yet. There's a heap load of sandy dirt in the middle of our grass. Because the Man is still trying to get the lawn figured out.

I think we're on the ten year plan. Forget that two year plan I was blogging about earlier in the spring.

{we need professional lawn care help}

But there is one little corner that still has some color to it and I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
Some of the shots I got of K while we were looking for locations. 

The sun was high in the sky and everything was so.darn.bright.

It was hard to get a decent shot without harsh shadows, or blown out skies. Or squinting. There was a lot of squinting that day.

But I love these bleacher shots.
I wonder what she's thinking.

It's probably not anything good. She's probably thinking she's Cinderella and I'm the... 

{you know who she's thinking I might bear a resemblance to}

...making her do all kinds of chores. Like pose for photos, and sit on hot bleachers, in the middle of a sunny field.  On a day that's about 95 degrees.

That might be why she doesn't want to smile. 
We went under the bleachers to find some shade.

Ahhh.

Much better light down here.

But she's still not smiling.
To blur or not to blur. That is the question.


I can't decide which one I like better.
Found some more light in the shadow of an old brick mill. 

I'm loving the brick background. 

And she's kind of, sort of smiling. Probably because we stopped and got a frozen strawberry lemonade. Yum. That will make anyone smile.

{I now bear a resemblance to the fairy godmother}

~~~~~~~~~~

All in all, a fairly successful day scouting out locations and backgrounds. 

It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Wandering Around Town

A few days ago I mentioned that the Man was working on a small project for me. 


He finished it today. Actually, he started it today. And only after I wandered out into his turf, aka the barn, and said, Where's that board? I'll put the hose clamps on myself. I need some tools. Where are your tools?


That's usually enough to get him going. 


He.Does.Not.Let.Me.Use.His.Tools.


Ever.


If I have to use them, I have to do it when he's not around. And then I use them VEWY CAREFULLY, as Elmer Fudd would say.


But today I didn't have to use his tools. He put this together for me lickety-split.


Isn't it darling?


I saw something similar in blogland and knew that I had to have it for my back porch.


Love it.  Love. It.
These pretty ladies are on the other end of the back porch. Can you tell I like fresh flowers all over the place?

And milk bottles.

And canning jars.

These three things together are just right. 

Call me Goldilocks but I like things just right.
K, P, and I took a drive around town today, looking for backdrops for senior photos.

K is one of the yearbook editors. Did I mention that before?

She's borrowing my old camera, a Nikon D80, and needs to practice shooting with it before school starts in the fall. So P and I went with her to check out some locations.

While we were looking around at one of the them, we spotted a beaten up and beaten down old pickup truck that was home to a few birdies. 

I wasn't even shooting this guy. I was trying to shoot the truck. I looked over and there he sat, perched so pretty in the back windshield, not shy at all.
Most of the time K was behind the lens, shooting and composing and getting a bit frustrated. But she asked a lot of questions and at the end of the day, came out with some decent photos.

Seeing her like this reminds me of when I got my first Nikon SLR. 

She's a mini-me.

~~~~~~~~~~

I did get her in front of the camera for a few shots. I'll post those another time. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Of Birds and Babies

Some friends of mine let me use them to practice some maternity shots. D and D are part of my church family and they are expecting their first child any.day.now.

I mean ANY.DAY.NOW. As in, D, how are you doing? Do you want to go the hospital now?

D, the momma-to-be, and I have been talking about some cute shots that I wanted to get. She was excited to help me, and her and poppa-to-be were very gracious and patient.

I had fun with them. 

And I had fun remembering what it was like to be young. And in love. And expecting your first child.
As I was shooting this sweet couple, I kept remembering my own days of pregnancy, and preparation, and impending childbirth.

Excitement, a little trepidation, and a whole lot of uncomfortableness during those last few days is what I remember.

Knowing that your life is never going to be same again, because that's what people keep telling you, but not really understanding what that means.
Not understanding that motherhood was going to mean a lot of sleepless nights.

Nights spent feeding a newborn bundle of love, and nights spent sitting in a rocking chair comforting a sick toddler.

Nights spent getting up every hour to awaken a preteen that has a concussion from getting hit on his head by a baseball, and nights spent waiting for a teenager to drive in the yard after a night out with her friends.

A lot of sleepless nights.
And a lot of uncertainty.

Not understanding that you would have to watch your child do hard things. Things that might make them cry.

Like get on a school bus for the first time. And watch you out the window while the bus drives away.

Or try out for a softball team. And not make it. 

Like wait while they take a driver's test. And not pass it.

Or watch them find out that sometimes life really isn't fair. 

It's hard being a parent. It's hard letting them fly out of the nest on their own.
We have a birdhouse on a shelf on the side of the barn outside our back door. And twice this year, we've had momma birds nest in there.

When momma sparrow (at least I think these are sparrows) was feeding her little ones, I was able to get pretty close to this little guy to get some good shots.

After momma flew away. 

She wouldn't let me this close to her babies. She kept warning me off when I would get too close.

He's a brave one, this wee little one. He watched me very carefully but only retreated back into the nest when I got within three feet of him.
One of these little ones fell out of the nest over the weekend. 

I was sitting on the back porch, watching momma feed them, when she flew off to look for more food.

I glanced away for a moment, and when I looked back, I saw a tiny fluttering at the bottom of the bird house, on the shelf. I walked over to see what it was and found a teeny, tiny baby bird fluttering on the shelf.

It had no feathers, and its head was so large that it couldn't pick it up off the shelf and just kept flopping and fluttering its little legs trying to move. 

Mrs. C put her hands under the shelf, in case it got too close to the edge, and the Man got a dust pan and a leather glove. He put the dust pan near the baby oh-so-gently and let it flop onto the pan, then lifted it back up to the hole in the house and let it slide slowly back into the nest.

We weren't sure what was going to happen to this little guy, but momma came back with more food and continued to feed them all.

Five days later all three babies are doing just fine.
I find myself surrounded by new birth, and new motherhood, right now. While I'm enjoying watching these sweet little baby birds learn to leave their nest, it's also reminding me that my own "little" ones are getting ready to leave my nest. 

And so I'm praying that when J and K find themselves in distress, flopping and fluttering around on the brink of danger, a kind, gentle hand will be there to help them back into their nest.

A gentle helping hand. That's what we all need sometimes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day

I loved this idea as soon as I saw it here. It's way down in the thumbnail assortment of centerpieces, if you go visit this link. The decorator used nine canning jars but I only had four. Well, I have a lot more, but not nine of a uniform size.


I guess I have more thrifting to do. Rats. That's going to be hard. Hehe.


Canning jars are my very favourite* decorating item. And storage item. I'm working on another project using canning jars. You'll see it in a few days.


Actually, the Man is working on it for me. I'm the idea girl, he's the actual put-this-idea-together guy.


That works out very well for me.
We had some friends over on Saturday night and decided to grill pizzas. 

I had an assortment of toppings and me and Mrs. C put together our favourite* ones, while the Man and Mr. C took a garden tour. The Man is very happy with his garden right now, since all kinds of yummy stuff is coming out of it. We've been eating peas, lettuce, and blackberries, and garlic and basil. 

But not together.

That's not so yummy.

So Mrs. C and I made a shrimp, basil, chopped tomato, parmesan pizza and then decided on a chicken, sliced tomato, basil, and mozzarella pizza for the second one. That's the one pictured above. 

I'm telling you - go grill yourself some pizza. You'll never go back to restaurant pizza again.
For dessert, we had chocolate strawberry nachos. 

Oh. my. goodness.

Very simple to throw together. Follow this lovely blog post over at Our Best Bites here.

Mrs. C and I kept nibbling long after the men had stopped.
Went to see the fabulous Mr. James Taylor on Sunday night with Sissy and my BIL.


And Mr. Taylor had two guests join him on stage.


Amy Grant and Vince Gill.


Holy guacamole, Batman. TWO country music stars.
We love sitting on the lawn, people watching, and snapping pictures. Enjoying a glass of wine, eating some Brie, and still-warm-from-the-press panini sandwiches.

We decided we have to step up our game next year. And bring a table. And candles. Maybe even a tablecloth.

These people are serious lawn party-goers.
Storm clouds threatened us for a part of the evening. At one point, everyone started packing up the food, and putting on rain gear, and looking for a tree to take cover under.

My BIL was watching the storm pass by on his crackphone iPhone and kept us informed of its location. We felt one drip, drop and that was all.

Thank you, God.

I did not want to sit in the rain, watching all our stuff get wet, trying to enjoy listening to one of my very favourite* performers. Not fun in the rain.

Rain, rain, go away. And it did.
Spontaneous dancing. 

Love it.

~~~~~~~~~~

*In case you're wondering what's with the spelling of favourite, I've decided to adopt the British spelling of words for a while. A friend posted something spelled this way and it looked right. So I'm going to follow suit.

Of course, I'll probably forget tomorrow. C'est la vie. 

Er, that's French. I'm feeling very multi-cultural tonight.