Sunday, September 30, 2012

Social Cleaning

Honest to Pete, if it weren't for company, my house would rarely get picked up, or cleaned, or decorated.

My sissy-in-law is visiting us for a couple of days so I ran around like a whirling dervish, cleaning up piles of paper, laundry baskets of clothing, and various other sundries that were scattered about. Why, oh why, don't I just keep it straight all the time?

*Banging my head against the proverbial wall.
I hope I'm not the only one who lives like this.

I always seem to have something better to do than vacuum. Or mop. Or fold laundry. I feel like a failure as a woman saying this, but...I get no satisfaction from cleaning.

Don't get me wrong, I love when my house is clean and neat and orderly. It feels wonderful. I just don't like the process of getting it that way. I have friends who say they clean, clean, clean when they're upset or unhappy about something. It's a stress reliever for them.

Not me. 

I need to photograph something to relieve some stress. Or paint. Or knit.

But definitely not clean.


Thankfully, I like to have friends over. And family. That forces me to clean. I guess you could call me a "social cleaner". Hmmm...I think I just coined a new phrase.

Social cleaner : someone who only cleans their house when company is a-comin'.

Are there any more "social cleaners" out there?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Too Much Fun

What a weekend.

Busy. Fun. Full of giggles and laughs.

Family. Friends. Church. 

What a weekend.
M and I started out early, early, early Saturday morning to catch some we're-almost-at-the-end-of-the-tag-sale-season sales. We only had a few hours in the morning since I had a family reunion to get to for noon. It's amazing how much you can accomplish in a few hours.

The best sale of the morning was an estate sale in our own hometown. We marveled at the fact that we've driven by this house umpteen billion times and never noticed it. An old home, with a huge garage attached to it and several outbuildings surrounding it, it housed lots and lots of antiques and vintage items. We ran into my friend D and her husband. They were way ahead of us - D was already in the house, looking around, while M and I were waiting in line to get in.

I picked up a small typewriter that works wonderfully well, It's probably a portable one since it's so small. 

I love it so.

Ever since I was a young girl, I've been in love with typewriters. I couldn't wait to learn how to type when I got to high school. I still like to type. I volunteer to type things at the library for patrons that don't know how to type or don't type very well. They think I'm very kind to do this. I'm not.

I just like to type.
The Man texted me when we were halfway through our morning to let me know that the reunion party had been delayed an hour or so and I could shop till I dropped.

That made M and I very happy. We had a whole extra hour to shop.

We found ourselves in a neighboring city, right in the neighborhood where you can get the most delicious salami, cheese, and pepper grinders ever. 


There's this Italian bakery on the corner of the street with a little old Italian guy who makes his own roasted green peppers and then puts them on homemade grinder rolls layered with thick layers of salami and cheese, wraps them up, and leaves them on the counter to ferment. 

That's my version of how the grinders get made anyway.

We bought enough to take home to our husbands and kids and restrained ourselves from chowing down on our own grinders.
The afternoon was spent at Sissy's house, getting together with some of my Mom's family - my aunt and uncle, one of their sons and his wife and daughter, other Sissy and her family. It was a great afternoon spent with people I love and don't get to see too often.

J, K, and MR were fantastic with the smaller ones. They played "Sea Monster" which was basically tag on a playscape. Once you got tagged, you got to go down the slide and transform into a sea monster. And then you could tag people, too.

Lots of squealing. And giggles.
At one point, my cousin's daughter convinced J to skip with her through the grass.


My twenty-one year old son. Skipping through the grass with a four year old. I'm still smiling thinking about it.

Sissy caught it on film. You can see a picture here.

I loved watching my cousin with his daughter. He's such a great dad. Patient, easy-going, full of praise. I still picture him as the little cousin, who used to trail after us bigger kids when we would all get together. He always was the nicest guy.

I'm glad to say he still is.


Seeing this picture reminds me of how many moments I miss now that my two are grown up. Those little moments of "Swing me, mommy," and "One more time. pleeeeease!" I'd like a few of those back every now and then.
M and I decided to go apple picking on Sunday afternoon, after church got out.

We brought two of our kids - K and M's son, J.
J was mocking me as I was shooting some photos. He posed for the requisite, cheesy reaching-for-the-highest-apples-on-the-tree shot.

He made me take the photo.
Since I was being forced to take such a shot, I told him he better polish the apples so I could at least get a decent apple close-up.

Being the good sport he is, he lifted his shirt and polished away. All while eating an apple.

Multi-talented guy.
Look at the sass I had to deal with.


M told me a funny story while we were out tagging on Saturday morning. 

She has an iPhone and decided to download IOS 6,  the mobile operating system that was just released. She doesn't know what happened but somehow during the upgrade she lost everything. All her photos. All her messages. All her contacts. 


She was heartbroken. Her husband, the Hammer, told her to buck up, little buckaroo, there's nothing you can do about it. And he's right. As they often are, whether we like to admit it or not.

So all day Friday she had a useless phone with no information on it. Later that night, she was out with the Hammer and left her phone at home with J. He was going to look at it and see what he could do.

The Hammer got a message from J after a bit. Not good news. He couldn't recover any of her information.

"Tell Mom I couldn't get back any of her contacts. Or pictures. Or messages. And tell her don't try to upgrade her phone ever again. I'll do it."

The torch has been passed. Oy vey.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Message Me This, Batman!

I had to clean out the messages on my phone because it kept flashing at me. Every single time I got a text message in the past week or so, boxes appeared portending imminent doom:

"80% FULL!"

"85% FULL!"

"90% FULL!"

Gulp. I better get busy or I won't get any new messages and might miss out on important things. 

There are messages I save. Messages from the Man that say sweet little lovelies. Or messages from my friends, wishing me well or happy birthday or some other nice thing. And messages between me and the kids. I save those mostly for the laugh factor, but there's some love thrown in there every now and then.


Here's some from my daughter K:

"Chem=torture. Eng=easy."

"Yo yo Mamma C." I'm still not sure what she was trying to tell me with that one.

"Paju". I think she meant to type "okay" and it came out "paju".

Me: "Can J have a brownie?"
K: "One....a normal size one, not a J size one."
Me: "He wants to know if half the pan is normal size."

Me: "Stay off the ferris wheel if it starts lightning."
K: "Okay."
Me: "Just a safety tip from your mom."


A couple from my son J:

"Morning Momma Llama! How's vacation?"

"Ok, I'm hungry. I'm gnawing my arm off here."

And one of my favorites:

"Gnight. Love you too."


And finally a few from the Man:

"P.S. I miss you. I love you. Can't wait till you get home. Bla, bla, bla."

"Hey good lookin'. What ya going to be cookin'?" I think this one came after I went on my cooking strike.

And my all-time favorite text came from the Man:

Man: "Cancel appts. Fish in road."
Me: "What?!"
Man: "I picked up a 4 inch trout swimming in the road. What else would I mean?"


Do YOU save any messages?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Finding the Extraordinary


I hate spiders. All I wanted to do was capture some detail on the web that this one had woven in a small pine tree by the barn. The web spiraled into the pine tree, leaving a sort of hole to look in. 

I have no idea why I looked into the hole. Curiosity killed the cat, remember?

Color me curious.

I was terrified the whole time that the thing was going to jump out and grab onto my face, attacking me with its fierce little pincer things, over and over again. Until I keeled over, dead.

All because I'm curious.
I painted all afternoon with D. We're taking our watercolor class very seriously. We have homework to do.

Let me tell you, it's hard to paint wooden clogs. And wooden floors. 

No photos of my attempt at this. I'm in need of some serious assistance from the teacher.
Something I figured out while painting this afternoon is why I like out of focus photos. 

They remind me of watercolor paintings.

Less detail, muted colors, soft lines. Just a suggestion of something, a vague representation. More like a memory of something, something that whispers in and out of your mind, teasing and then dissolving before the memory solidifies.


It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary. (David Bailey)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{Water}Color My World

My new favorite snack. Or breakfast.

Peanut Butter Yogurt.

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup red grapes, halved
1 tsp Polaner All-Fruit jelly or jam, whatever flavor you prefer with your peanut butter
1 tsp peanut butter
1 Tbs chopped peanuts

I layered it all in that order and then mixed it all together.

Easy. Tasty. Healthy.

My kind of food.
My friend D and I are taking a watercolor class at the library.

{another shameless plug for using your local library}

The teacher is just grand and appears to be very talented. Meaning I can recognize the things he sketches and paints.

I brought my first painting home and the Man recognized it immediately. Of course, it was a box and that's kind of difficult to NOT recognize. No matter how bad you draw.

The second painting I brought home was a stack of chairs aside a lone chair. He thought it was a bowl.

Hmmm. This might not be as easy as I thought it would be.
Here's my third painting. I did it this weekend while I was outside enjoying the glorious weather.

I like it.

It's not professional looking at all. But it doesn't look like a first grader did it, either. 

At least I don't think so. But if you do, hold your peace.

My artist ego is very fragile.
As I was painting, I started finding color all around.

Got a bit obsessed with close ups of flowers I had received for my birthday.
D and I went to a couple estate sales on Saturday. In the tony part of the state.

We were there an hour early, thinking it started at that time. There was already a line of people waiting on the porch and the front stoop. We got in line and waited and waited and waited. Talked to a young mother standing behind us. Talked to the attorney selling the house. And waited. And waited.

It was worth. every. minute.

So many treasures in the attic - an old suitcase, a vintage toy doll trunk filled with all kinds of old beads and bling-y baubles, a chenille bedspread, a vintage clock which I love, love, love, and a few other things.

After that sale, we found a few more as we meandered our way north, left the state, and then worked our way back home, stopping at tag sales wherever we saw them.


We were heading to another estate sale when we drove by a plowed over field and saw a tag sale set up next to it. Just about on two tires, we turned onto the dirt road, pulled over, parked, and walked over to take a look-see.

It was a man sale. All man stuff. Blech.

Grumbling all the way back to the car, D opened her door as I opened mine and a big gust of wind came along and blew our directions out of the car.

Quicker than a jack rabbit, those directions were scattering into the field. D yelped and started chasing them down.

I was no help. It's hard to run when you're bent over laughing.

Eventually she gathered them together and we were off again. What a great way to spend a day.

Treasure hunting. 

Can you tell what this is?


You're right.

An outhouse.

Obviously I haven't given the Man enough projects to do around the house if he's got time to build an outhouse.


One of our neighbors moseyed over when he heard the Man banging away with the hammer. 

I know you're building something in there. What are you doing? he asked.

I'm building an outhouse, says the Man.

What?! By golly, you are! Lots of chuckles and a little disbelief. Then the Man explained that he was replacing one that had fallen apart last winter. It was up at the fishing camp the boys use in the deep dark woods on a small lake far away from home.

I gotta find something for him to do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bringing up the Rear

I got a few photos from a walk we took this weekend.

It was too beautiful to sit inside.
K and I are trying some new-fangled exercise program. 

She moves much faster than I do so I get to see this a lot.

A lot.


Happy weekend to you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Eleven years ago I was on my way to work when I heard the news.

I was excited because it was my birthday. I knew my co-workers would have cake for me.

I don't remember celebrating at all that day. I'm sure we ate the cake, but I don't remember it. I just remember standing around, listening to the radio, watching the television, scanning the Internet for any news we could find.

About what was happening in NYC. 

And in Washington.

And what might happen to us. I kept calling my husband, and he kept calling me. Checking in with each other. Checking up on each other. 


I was in a grocery store this morning when a quiet voice came over the intercom. I didn't hear her at first. But then I heard her say "9/11" and I started listening. So did all the other people in the store.

Absolute, pure silence.

I think even the refrigeration was turned off. We all listened to what this clerk was saying, remembering and grieving for all those lives lost. Remembering that feeling of being united with each other, helping each other. 

Crying for each other.


A co-worker told me about her mother-in-law's hometown on Long Island. Many from her town worked in the financial district. And in the Twin Towers. She said the real sadness came several weeks after the Towers collapsed. That's when people gave up hope that their loved ones would be found alive. 

But the really sad part to me?

Their cars were still in the commuter lots. Visual reminders they weren't coming back.


My heart goes out to all those families still grieving. Still missing loved ones.

May God bless you all. And may God bless the USA.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tide To Go, How I Love Thee So

Sorry I left you hanging yesterday. It was late and I was tired but I still wanted to post something.

So here's the tale of my blueberry misadventure.


I had to be at work early yesterday to make up for some time that I missed earlier in the week. But I still wanted a most delicious breakfast of Blueberry Creme Brulee Oatmeal. This stuff is lip-smacking, bowl-licking good.

It doesn't take long to make but I was also short on time so I was rushing a wee bit. Maybe more than a wee bit. I put the oatmeal together and microwaved it - just fine. Took it out, mixed in the blueberries, sprinkled the sugar on it and plopped it into the oven - just fine.

Now I look at the clock. Realize I'm running late. Race into the bedroom to get dressed and leave the oatmeal broiling away in the oven. 

I think I'll wear my white Bermuda pants today. Let me get them in the pile of folded laundry on my dresser.

Hmmm. They're not there. 

They must be in one of the drawers. 

Nope. Not there.

Uh-oh. Where are they?

Fly around the room, throwing things right and left, tossing stuff in the air, looking for my shorts. Glance at the clock, remember the oatmeal in the oven, and grab the first thing I see in my closet.

My absolutely favorite red and white floral linen sleeveless summer dress.

And let me emphasize this is my FAVORITE dress.

I bet you can see where this going.


Put together somewhat, I race back to the kitchen, slipping into my flip-flops as I leave the bedroom. Open the oven door, all looks well, nothing burnt.

I pull the bowl out of the oven and put it on top of the stove. I grab the lid to the bowl behind me, because I am taking this to work with me, and put it on the bowl. I get a dish towel to wrap around the bowl, lay it out on the counter, and grab a potholder. That bowl is going to be very hot. It just came out from under the broiler.

And then I did the stupidest thing ever. 

I lifted the bowl by the lid and attempted to move it a foot onto the dishtowel.

That was when the bowl fell out of the lid and bounced onto the floor.

Hot, burning oatmeal and blueberries shot out of that bowl like a cannon. Immediately, my leg is burning and I look down and there is gloppy, sticky, broiled hot oatmeal clinging to the back of my calf.

Aaaaaargh!  Cold water immediately applied and my leg was wiped clean. Small red welts on the back of my leg. I looked over my dress on the side the oatmeal hit and it was clean. 


Then I just stood there, looking at the mess on the floor, the cabinets, the oven door, the rug, and the counter. That oatmeal went everywhere. I really wanted to cry because I honestly didn't know how to start cleaning up the mess. Finally, I grabbed a roll of paper towels, wet them with hot water and dish soap, and started scrubbing.

Blech. It looked like vomit. Double blech.

I was able to salvage about two thirds of the oatmeal because, somehow, the bowl landed right side up with some oatmeal and blueberries still in it. 

I packed it for work and left the house.


When I was sitting at my desk, my hand brushed against the bottom hem of my dress. And came away sticky.

Oh no. I know what that means.

Yup. Oatmeal and blueberries all over the bottom of my dress. On the opposite side of where the bowl hit. The bowl hit the floor on the left side of my body and the oatmeal and blueberries were on the right side. 


How did they get over there?

Thank goodness I had my trusty Tide-To-Go pen. I started blotting and swabbing at all the blue stains and hoped for the best.


By the end of the day, you would never know I had dropped blueberries on my dress. 

Tide-To-Go, how I love thee so.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Say What?

It is entirely possible to burn the back of your leg with blueberry oatmeal.

Blueberry Creme Brulee Oatmeal, to be precise.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking a Back Road

I'm taking a bit of short break from editing high school senior photos. 

Have I mentioned how much I love this part? I can usually tell on the viewfinder if a photo is a good one or not, but every now and then one sneaks by me and I'm totally surprised when I edit it.

I love when that happens.


On my way to pick up a friend this morning for our walk, I had to pass some mighty pretty corn stalks.

Aren't those colors gorgeous?
Know what I started singing when I was taking this picture?

"Take a Back Road" by Rodney Atkins.

One of my favorite songs right now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Sissies had a surprise birthday party for Nan and I last weekend.

It was a complete surprise since it was ten days early. But it was a lovely surprise since extended family was there to help us celebrate.

My nieces made us a colorful banner filled with all the things they like doing with us, like playing cards and games, shopping, sewing, and lots of other fun things. They are so sweet.

Love those girls.

To pieces.

Other Sissy surprised me with copies of some old family photos she found at my dad's house. I burst into tears when I saw them, they were so sweet and so special.

One of them was a {rare} photo of my mom and I - riding a carousel together. My mom was behind the camera a lot so we don't have too many photos of her, especially with each of us alone. 

Just a few.

Not enough.


And then there was the photo above. Taken at another birthday celebration, ahem, quite a few years ago. I think I must have been about seven or eight when that was taken. 

I love that Nana is holding my hand.
We decided to recreate the photo. I think we've changed a bit.

But I still love that she's holding my hand.
Nan and I.

I came out from behind the camera for a rare appearance.

I don't like it. I'm much more comfortable behind the lens.


Thank you to my dearest sissies for all their hard work and planning. You completely surprised us!