Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stopping and Shopping

T and I hit the outlet malls yesterday. We've been looking forward to this for weeks. Of course, since I had nothing I was really shopping for I was convinced I would find all sorts of things.

Alas, no.

While four pairs of shoes were purchased, only one was mine. And even though I have a much larger fascination with handbags, T purchased the only one that made it's way home with us.

The Man was very happy that I did not have a successful shopping day. He sent me a text partway through the day reminding me that we need a new mattress. In other words, stop your shopping.

Fiddle-dee-dee, I shut my phone off.


Surprisingly, it wasn't busy. With only two days before most schools start classes, we were sure there would be crowds of people jamming in some last minute back to school shopping.

We were wrong. Happily wrong.

We meandered our way through two outlet malls, stopping in here and there. Watching the few moms that were out with their children fuss and dither over clothing choices, shoe choices, and requests for snacks.  Remembering the days when we used to have to take our own children back to school shopping. And oh-so-glad we don't have to do that anymore. 

Sort of.


We stopped for lunch at a locally popular seafood joint. Not much to look at but they had fresh seafood, and LOTS of it. We ate and talked and laughed. And ate some more. We both finished our plates with not a speck left over.  And then we planned our next trip.

Can't wait, T.

Love for a Lifetime

Dearest M asked me if I could do the photographs for her parents 50th wedding anniversary. 

I have never had so much fun at a photoshoot.
This family exudes love, love, love. It's palpable. You can feel it when two or three start to gather together. But when they are all together? Huge amounts of love and laughter and tears and hugs and giggles and 



I showed up a bit early so I could catch some of the setting up and behind-the-scenes happenings.
They’re all bosses. And no one’s the boss. They just step in and step up and do what has to be done. No spats, no bickering. Honest to Pete, they’re just about perfect. 

Think “Ozzy and Harriet” and you’ve got the C’s.
B, M’s brother, and his son put together a fabulous movie featuring pictures of his parents and their family from the past fifty years.

Fifty years. That’s a whole lot of time together.

I asked Mr. C what their secret was. 

He said, “Sometimes you have to do things you might not like. Or want to do. But because your spouse loves it, you do it.” 

And then he told me how much Mrs. C loves to shop for books - all kinds of books, new and used. She can’t pass up a book sale. And he stops for her. What does he do while she’s shopping? He takes a walk.

That’s some mighty fine love. It made me think of the country song, “Waiting on a Woman."

I got to chat with B’s wife after the party was winding down. We were talking about how she and B met. I love hearing people’s stories - how they met, how they fell in love, their wedding story. 

Really, I just love LOVE stories.
Listening to her, and watching her as she reminisced, I felt the love she has for this family. She told me that she and B had only been on a couple of dates when he took her to meet his parents. And she has the most vivid memory of how she felt. Comfortable and right and welcomed.

And she knew she wanted to be part of this family.

So many children. Looking around at the group of people gathered together, I was amazed at how everyone took care of all the children. 

Reaching for lost balloons, sneaking pieces of treats off the tables and into waiting hands, gently guiding the tiny ones away from danger.

Why do they always go for the dangerous things?

Big cousins playing with the littlest cousins. 

So darn sweet.
M stood up for her parents and was determined to say some words. 

Some words, indeed.

She started to speak and sounded a bit wobbly. She kept going and her voice got stronger. Every now and then the emotion overcame her, and she would get a bit wobbly, but her big brother would put his hand on her. 

Steadying her. Supporting her. He learned from his parents.
I wish all of you could have been there to hear what she had to say. It was a testament to their fifty years of life together - fifty years of marriage to one person, fifty years of having children and raising children and supporting children and loving children and loving grandchildren, fifty years of being there and staying there. 

She spoke of many things. Things that you would want for every family. Dinners together every night. Sundays spent with family and extended family. Beach vacations. Little League games. Ice cream and fireworks. Cousins next door and cousins far away. Christmas mornings and everyday life. Not much money but a whole lot of love.

And as she spoke, I watched the family gathered around. Small smiles and big ones. Reflective looks, introspective looks, and some special looks passing between two or three. But mostly what I saw were the tears. 

The love was too overwhelming.

M didn’t do this alone - I know God gave her the strength and the will to push through the tough parts. And the family. He gave her this special, wonderful, loving and lovely family.

They are special, these people.

And on a warm summer day in late August, I was blessed to be a part of it.
Thank you, C’s. 

Love you. Mean it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Time to Sell the Corn

Today was the day the Man and the girls have been waiting for all summer long.

Time to sell the indian corn they've been growing. Er, that the Man has been growing.

We'll help you more next year, Uncle Man.

He just smiled.

And helped them set up their sales table.


They made signs and headbands. Our neighbor was kind enough to donate some feathers to the cause. They arranged the corn oh-so-prettily in the wooden wagon Uncle Man found for them in the barn. And then they helped him drag it all out front and set it up on the side of the road.
With a little help from their cousin K. 

The artistic director arranging the corn stalks.  Also for sale, in case you were wondering.
Watching for potential customers.

Waiting behind the table got old. Fast.

It was much more fun to jump up and down in front of the table and wave to the people going by. They got lots of horns honked at them, along with friendly waves. Several people stopped by to get some lemonade.

Sorry. No lemonade. This time. 

They decided to sell it next time, since market research proved this would be a popular item on a hot, sunny day.
Final tally?

Seven of the eleven bundles of corn were sold for a grand total of $35.

Much more than the $2 they made selling lemonade, they told us. The Man tried to tell them they had to pay for the seeds and rental of the land the corn grew on but they were having none of that.

No, no, no, Uncle Man. We don't have to do that. We'll just sell the corn. 

He laughed. 

And agreed to do it again next year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Editing Photos

Scenes from around town. Taken during my ice cream lunch with Sissy and the girls yesterday. 

Mr. Donkey was a bit skeptical. He wasn't getting any food from us.

I love his dark brown melted chocolate eyes.


Taking a short break from editing senior photos.

I'm now editing donkey photos.
I love living in a farming community.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slicing Out Moments

In the thick of doing high school senior portraits.

I barely have time to breathe, never mind blog.


Thought for the day:

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” 
 Susan Sontag

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Fun, fun, fun in the sun. And a little rain.

M and I started out early and hit bunches and bunches of tag sales. We found vintage linens, antique Christmas ornaments, a chenille bedspread, badminton racquets, and some Marushka prints. I don't think we paid over a dollar for most items, maybe even less than that. 

It always amazes me at the prices people are willing to sell their stuff for. I guess after owning something for a period of time, it doesn't really matter what it sells for. When you want it to go, you'll take anything.

It's a good thing we're there to help them clean up.
P (J's girly-friend) and I took her brother, P-Boy, into the big city for a photoshoot. I've been eyeing the riverfront for a while, hoping it would yield some great locations.

It did.

We happened upon an Asian festival of some sorts and had some fun walking around, smiling at people, pausing and shooting every few minutes. One woman was very interested in what we were doing and stopped to watch us for awhile. 

I've never had an audience before. I may be getting famous.

Watch out, Honey Boo Boo, you've got competition.
Love the fish.

Even the sidewalk grates were pretty.

Doesn't he look like a GQ model?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Drips and Bytes

I think my storage wars are over. For now.

I went and bought a big, big, big 2TB hard drive. Take that, wimpy little 80GB hard drives. I'll never run out of space again.

Or so the salesman told me.

But I did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I bet I'll be back in about five years, looking for even bigger drives. 

And I'm guessing they will be the size of a flash drive by then.
After that chore was done, the Man and I stopped for ice cream at a family farm on the way home. They have hard ice cream, which is the Man's favorite. 

I like soft serve vanilla. Plain Jane, that's me.

But tonight I got a hard flavor - Chocolate Cherry Amaretto. Lip-smackin' deliciousness.

I noticed a sign that said, "Caution! Ice cream melts fast in the heat!"

Hmm. They must have put that sign up for a reason.


Other Sissy was reminiscing this weekend with Nan and telling her that Aunt N was the one who taught us how to eat an ice cream cone.

"Lick from the bottom, girls!" And she would take our cones and lick all around the bottom a few times and then lick up from bottom to top all the way around the cone. By the time she gave the cone back, it would be half gone.

We wouldn't lick fast enough and it would start melting and dripping again and, sure enough, she'd say, "Lick from the bottom. Like this." And she'd take our cones and start the demonstration all over again.

There goes that cone.

Flash forward twenty years or so and we all do the same thing to our own kids.

It all works out in the end.


So tonight, the Man and I are walking around the animals and I'm licking all around the bottom, and then up from bottom to top. No drips on me.

I see the Man fling his hand a couple times. 

"What are you doing?" I ask him.

"It's melting fast," he says, flinging his hand again to get the drips off. A-ha! That's what the sign said it would do.

"Lick from the bottom," I tell him.

He doesn't listen to me and continues to bite on it from the top. It's melting all over the place. But I've already tried to help him once. I keep licking my cone, around the bottom and then up, up, up.

I'm watching a baby cow and I hear thunk! behind me. 

You guessed it. Ice cream on the ground. Empty cone. Sad Man.

I offer him my cone but he won't take it. So I keep licking and licking and finally it's gone.

Thanks, Aunt N. No drips. And no ice cream on the ground for me.


The farm was a great place to spend a summer evening.

We watched a thunderstorm approach as we ate our ice cream. Or rather, as I ate my ice cream. The thunder gently rumbled while the lightning was fantastic, with huge jagged tears splitting the sky in half.

The animals sauntered over to visit us while we were walking around, noses through the fence, hoping for a treat or two.

There were lots of little ones around with their families, reminding me of when my own were that little.

When we got home we watched Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

A lovely summer evening.


I cry every time I watch this scene. Kate Hepburn makes me cry, Spencer Tracy makes me cry, the whole thing makes me cry. He died about two weeks after filming this movie so this speech is doubly romantic. And doubly sad. 

Grab some tissues.
Theme song from the movie.

And because I love this song I'm sharing it with you.

Jimmy Durante is an ace in this video. Grab more tissues.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Storage Wars

The annual whale bone shot.

I've been taking this shot since the kids were very little. I make them stop every year so I can get it. Someday I'm going to line them all up one after another and watch the age progression from wee little ones to grown up big ones.

But not tonight.

Tonight I'm a bit agitated about my computer. Er, rather my external hard drives.


I was uploading all the photos from this past weekend, which was spent at the beach with lots of family, and got a blasted error message that there was NO MORE ROOM ON THE DISK.


How can there not be any more room on the disk? I have a bajillion gigabytes of space. The man at the computer store told me so.

I told him I was trying to save my very. important. photos. from being destroyed when my pc crashed.  I wanted a drive and I wanted a big one. I take lots of photos.

I knew it was going to crash someday. A friend warned me it was coming.  Thank you so much, Mr. Oh-So-Smart Computer Friend. My pc crashed a few years ago and I didn't lose any photos.

So the man at the computer store pointed me to a drive that held 80GB. I told him I'd take two.

Remember, 80GB was big back when I bought them.


It took me ten years to fill one of the drives. It's taken me two years to fill the second drive.

My big bad external hard drive had not met my bigger, badder camera with much larger storage cards and much larger file sizes. File sizes that probably equate to billboard sized photos. 

So now I have to re-evaluate my photo storage needs. And make some hard decisions about how many photos I really have to keep. 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nana Banana

Things I've learned from my grandmother:

Nan met my grandpa at a dance at the Lakeview. At first she thought it was the Commodore but then she corrected herself. She went with some girlfriends, one of them was a "Finn girl". Her family was from Finland. I asked.

You had to pay five cents per dance if you wanted to dance. They met in 1938 and got married in 1940. Back in the late 1930s a nickel would buy you: a jumbo size sliced loaf of bread, a pound of bananas, a bar of Camay soap, pork and beans, a head of lettuce.

And a dance. One that lasted a lifetime.

My grandpa came to the dance with a different girl. He mostly danced with my grandmother. He wanted to take her home but she told him, "No. You came with her. You take her home."

And then she gave him her number.

She wouldn't marry my grandpa until a year had passed after her mother died. She was in mourning. Does anyone do that anymore? You don't hear that too often today. 

They lived in three different apartments before they bought their first, and only, home. The first apartment was small and they outgrew it after their third child, my aunt N, was born. Their second apartment was owned by "the Greeks" - who wouldn't turn up the heat in the winter for them. Their last apartment was owned by my other grandparents. 

That's when my mom met my dad.

Shortly after that, Nan and Gramps moved to their first home. The one we're taking apart right now and getting ready to sell. She is so sad. She misses her home. 

I'm sad for her. I miss her home, too.


I love hearing these stories and I had several hours to talk to Nan while we drove to the beach. I tell her how much she means to me and how much I love her. She tells me how much she loves me and how good I am to her . But you know what?

She was the best grandmother a girl could have growing up and she gave me more than I could ever give her back.

Love you, Nan.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Case of the Missing Yarn, Redux

A finder.

Every family has one.

That one person in the house that can find anything misplaced. In our house, that would be J.

I used to look for things when I couldn't find them. But not anymore. Now I just call J and set him on the trail. He turns on his spidey-vision and within a few minutes, voila! Lost item has been found. 



On the way out the door to knitting tonight I glanced in my bag and noticed that I was missing a skein of yarn. I did a {very} brief search in my room and couldn't find it anywhere. 

Hmmm...maybe I left it at the knitting shop.

But when I got to the shop it was nowhere to be found.

Hmmm....I know...it must have fallen out of my bag in Sissy's car and rolled under the seat. That's where we always tell people to look when they can't find a missing library book. It's usually there.

Handy dandy tip for anyone missing a library book - go look under your car seat before telling your friendly librarian that you're absolutely positive you returned it.

Nope. Not there.

Time to get J on the case of the missing yarn skein.

He arms himself with a flashlight, turns on his spidey-vision, and goes into my room. The room I already searched myself.

Within a minute, he comes out with my skein of yarn. 



This reminded me of my knitting friend, PKB. And this story I wrote about on a blog Sissy and I started writing years ago:

The Case of the Missing Yarn

My sissy and I are in the best knitting group ever. EVER. These women make me laugh. So much that I sometimes spit out my coffee, or fall out of my chair, or cry. Like the night that PKB  was telling us about losing her ball of yarn.

She and her husband were visiting their son at college the previous weekend and her knitting bag fell out of the car and spilled onto the pavement. Knitting needles, yarn, knitting tools and patterns went all over, rolling under the car and away from it. She gathered everything up, went to her son's game and forgot all about the knitting bag until class on Wednesday night.

So now it's Wednesday night and we're at knitting class. PKB is chatting away, eating her snack, and searching through her bag for her yarn. She can't find it anywhere. Thinking back (and this took a little while), she remembers that the bag fell out of the car and so the yarn must have rolled under the car and they had driven off, leaving it behind. She pulls out her cell phone and calls her son at college and this is what we hear:

"Hi, honey. It's mom. I need you to do me a favor." (son speaks next)

"Oh no, finish dinner first. But I need you to go to the parking lot by the field and see if my ball of blue yarn is there." (son speaks next)

"Yarn, Patrick, a blue ball of yarn." (son speaks next)

"Patrick, I need that yarn to finish my sweater." (son speaks next)

"I know the dining hall isn't near the field, but I need this yarn, Patrick." (son speaks next)

"Okay, that's fine. Call me and let me know if you find it. Bye honey." (son hangs up)

She tells us the jist of her conversation and that Patrick will go look for her yarn as soon as he finishes dinner. So we all chatter on, teasing her about her lost yarn and how it sounds just like a Nancy Drew mystery, The Case of the Missing Yarn, and how it's not going to be there, or if it is, it will be filthy and she wouldn't want to use it on the gorgeous sweater she's knitting for herself. Time passes and no call from Patrick. PKB decides to call him back.

"Hi honey. It's mom. " Because he can't figure out from caller id that it's his mother calling him. "Did you find my yarn?" (son speaks next)

"It's not? Patrick, did you even go look for it?" (son speaks next and we now hear Patrick's voice a little louder.)

The rest of us are talking back and forth about how unlikely it is that Patrick even went to look for the yarn. He's just telling her he did so she'll get off the phone with him. We all start laughing, and since there's nine of us, we get kind of loud at times. Somebody else says something funny and we get even louder.

PKB has her free hand covering one ear, straining to hear her son, and then we hear:

"No, we're not drinking! We're knitting."

That was when my coffee spewed out.

Postscript to the story, she and her husband were back on campus the following weekend for another game. She had her husband go to the same parking lot and there was the yarn, lying right where they had parked previously. She picked it up, brought it class and used it to finish a sleeve on her sweater.

I still don't think Patrick went to look for the yarn.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ice Cream, You Scream

The Man and I went out for ice cream tonight.

We used to go out with the kids for ice cream when they were younger; as a matter of fact, we still do when we're at the beach. One of our favorite things to do is go to Ben & Jerry's. But we haven't gone out by ourselves in a very, very long time.

It was so sweet.

We sat at the picnic table, enjoyed our soft serve cones, and just chatted about a little of this and a little of that. Nothing in particular. Just some chat.

The cones weren't very expensive but the time we spent together was priceless.

Ugh. I don't like using "priceless". Overused by the credit card company in their commercials. And the fifteen billion people who jumped on the bandwagon and started using it for everything else.

But it fits sometimes. 


I gave a co-worker a ride home today. Her car is in the shop getting some body work done. 

I wish we could go in for body work that easily and shave a few off here and a few off there. Lift a little here, lift a little there. You know what I mean.

I pulled into her driveway and saw her youngest son just getting out of his car. I waved hello and called him over. Then I told him I wanted him to stop building the house he was working on and start taking it down. It was ruining the view of the corn field. He laughed and said something back to me and started to walk toward the house.

I shouted to him, "Remember, D, take the nails out. Nails out. Not in." He chuckled again, humoring me. And then I looked at my co-worker and told her to tell him I was serious. 

But not really.

Just then, her neighbor pulled into his driveway and parked. He got out of the truck and went around to the passenger side to get his son out of his car seat. As soon as the kid got out, we could hear him screaming and crying. The neighbor gave us a chagrined looked as he started up the walkway. My co-worker called out to him teasing, "What are you doing to that sweet boy?" 

It had to be something horrid the way the child was carrying on.

The sweet boy trailed behind his father all the way to the front door, crying the whole way and letting out a scream every other step. 

His father was talking to my co-worker's son. He briefly turned around and said sharply, "Stop it!" and then went back to talking.

The child just screamed louder.

His father looked at him and gave him the stink eye. He said, "Stop it!" a little more sharply. Now the boy stopped and looked at him, waiting.

"You are not allowed to eat chicken nuggets that have been in the car for three days!" 

And with that, he scooped the child up and took him into the house.

I think he needs to read Bringing Up Bébé, don't you?

Monday, August 6, 2012



Something I've learned from Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman:

In France there are four magic words that are taught to the children: s'il vous plait (please), merci (thank you), bonjour (hello), and au revoir (good-bye). Of the four, bonjour is the most crucial.

"Adults are supposed to say bonjour to each other, too, of course. I think tourists are often treated gruffly in Parisian cafés and shops partly because they don't begin interactions with bonjour, even if they switch to English afterward. It's crucial to say bonjour upon climbing into a taxi, when a waitress first approaches your table in a restaurant, or before asking a salesperson if the pants come in your size. Saying bonjour acknowledges the other person's humanity. It signals that you view her as a person, not just as someone who's supposed to serve you. I'm amazed that people seem visibly put at ease after I say a nice solid bonjour."

"Making kids say bonjour isn't just for the benefit of grown-ups. It's also to help kids learn that they're not the only ones with feelings and needs. 'It avoids selfishness,' says Esther, who dragged out her daughter - an adorable doted on child - to say goodbye to me. 'Kids who ignore people, and don't say bonjour or au revoir, they just stay in their bubble. Since parents are dedicated to them already, when will they get the sense that they are there to give, not just to receive?'.....Saying bonjour signals to the child, and to everyone else, that she's capable of behaving well."


I've noticed that many salespeople don't say hello or thank you. And mostly they're under the age of twenty. 

I end up thanking them at the end of our transaction. Sometimes I want to say, Hey, you should be thanking ME for shopping here.

But I don't. 

I'm not their mother.