Monday, September 30, 2013

Family Reunion day

Family reunion time.

Aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews, and cousins. Lots and lots and lots of cousins.

We come from three different states once a year to see each other. And laugh. Oh, yes, we laugh together a lot.

The kids enjoy running around and hanging upside down.
This little cutie pop was spending oodles of time inspecting the grass. Her grand-mama came over to see what she was looking at. Soon after, another cousin joined in to see what cutie pop and grand-mama were doing.

Of course, I had to wander over and investigate. We never did figure out what she was looking at.

Her mother heard us speculating, "Maybe she found a bug. Or a treasure."

She looked over and said, "No, she's just looking at her toes."

Huh. Not what we were thinking.
Have to have bubbles when there are little girls around.

They work like magic.
This man is trouble. 

Capital T. Trouble.

I was on the run when I snapped this pic. 

~~~~~~~~~~

I love family reunion day. These are the cousins that we used to love to get together with when we were kids. 

They were two boys. We were three girls.

They had cool boy toys. And loved playing sports. They conned us into playing some game or other every time we saw them. 

Our moms were sissies. Best friend sissies - the very best kind of sissies. 

Auntie P gave me some photos of my mom when mom was a young child. Auntie P is in the photos, as well as another aunt, Auntie G. She told me I could crop the two of them right out of the photos. 

Silly Auntie P. Why would I want to do that? These two women are part of my history, threads in the fabric of my life. They're not going anywhere.






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beach Twilight

I'm calling this series "Twilight." Although one of these pictures is not like the others. Do you remember that Sesame Street song, "One Of These Things (is Not Like The Others)"?

I used to love that song. I could always figure out which one didn't belong. It made me feel oh-so-smart.

Ha.

~~~~~~~~~~

The sky looked like fire that night. 
Enjoyed my time at the beach. It's so different during the off season.

Quieter.

Peaceful.

Solitary.
One lone little kayak.

Waiting for its owner to come and play.
Trying to shoot some stars.

It's a fine balance between holding the shutter open long enough to catch the stars and so long that you catch the movement of the stars and end up with star trails.

I have tiny trails in the photo above.

But you can see the Big Dipper pretty well.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wandering



At the beach for a few days. No Man, no J, no K. Just me.

A brief respite for a busy fall ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~

Catching up on some reading, wandering with my camera, snuggled in at night with a new project on the knitting needles.

And visiting with my uncle and my sissy and my niece. I don't get to see them enough. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Au revoir, for now. Off to wander some more.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Growing Moss

Made some more pesto tonight. 

I am so excited to have all this yummy goodness in my freezer, I can hardly contain myself.

I've already informed the Man that we will be growing a whole lot more basil next summer. We started the year with six plants and he removed three of them by the middle of the summer. He wanted to plant other herbs in the bed and decided to do it amongst the basil.

I thought that was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea.

(Not that I have anything against other herbs, so don't get offended all you rosemary lovers or thyme lovers. I just don't like them as much as I like basil. Except for cilantro. I like cilantro a lot. But it's still below my liking for basil.)

And I was right. It was a terrible idea. We are now out of basil and we still have tomatoes coming and how am I supposed to make caprese salad without fresh basil? 

So next year......more basil.

~~~~~~~~~~

So after I made the first batch of pesto yesterday, I put the two pint jars in the refrigerator until I figured out how to freeze it.

I was tickled pink with those two jars and I kept opening the refrigerator door to look at them. When everyone got home, I told them what I had made and that we would be trying it for dinner with pasta. I thought they would love my pesto as I much as I love it.

The Man looked at it and said, "Where's the meat?"

K was very enthusiastic about it and ate every morsel on her plate. And complimented it. She's a good one, that K.

J opened the door to the refrigerator. He looked in, saw the pesto, and said, "Who's growing moss?"

True story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pesto is Best{o}

Holy basil leaf, Batman. 

Homemade pesto is pure deliciousness.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Man and I ravaged the garden a few nights ago, fearing a frost. I snipped all the basil, stuffed it into big glass containers filled with water, and put it on a {large} windowsill.

The house smelled fantastic. 

I knew I couldn't leave it like that so I set out today to make some pesto. I've never made pesto before. To tell the truth, I've always been a little afraid to try and make it.

It sounds so exotic.

Pooh. It was very easy. I should have made this stuff years ago. I'm such a sissy. But I put on my big girl pants (shout-out to all my knitwits) and dove right in.

And now I have a couple of pint jars of pesto, ready for the freezer.

~~~~~~~~~~

I had a little bit left over so I threw some pasta together for dinner. 

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta.

While waiting for the water to boil, I sauteed a bit of garlic (maybe 2 teaspoons) in some olive oil (maybe 3-4 tablespoons) on low heat for a few minutes, until the garlic just started to turn light brown. While that was cooking, I sliced some cherry tomatoes (maybe 20 of them) in half and tossed them in with the garlic.

I sprinkled some red wine in, enough to make a little bit of liquid and let the tomatoes simmer and cook down while the the pasta was cooking.

After the tomatoes had cooked down, I added a little more olive oil to the pan for flavor and oily-ness.

When the pasta was al dente, I drained it and dumped it into the saute pan with the tomatoes and garlic. Gave it a good stir, thoroughly coating the pasta with the sauce and then I tossed in a couple big spoonfuls of pesto. Mixed that throughout the pasta and sat down and ate.

Yum.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Short Story


The Man and I took a Sunday drive.

We kind of had a destination in mind. But we kind of didn't. We just drove and made it up as we went along.

The end.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Changes


Family dinner this weekend to celebrate Nan's birthday and my birthday.

If you add our ages together, we're about a billion years old. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but she's getting up there. Not me, just her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ninety-seven years old. She's seen a whole lot of change in her life. I was helping her in the bathroom and while she was washing her hands, she said very quietly, "Sometimes I wish I wasn't here."

I wanted to cry.

Not because I would miss her. Which I will.

But because I'm starting to understand how she's feeling. She keeps telling us she feels like a burden. Like a bother. She feels like she's a lot of work.

It doesn't matter how much we assure her she is not a lot of work, or a lot of bother. She feels that way.

I think I would too, standing in her shoes.

We women are so used to being the caregivers, and the caretakers, that it doesn't sit right to have the tables reversed and accept care from someone else. 
J and D sharing a nice moment. They are so close. I wonder if they will stay that way.

And that makes me want to cry, too.

Because I know how often I get to see my closest cousins. It's not often enough because we don't live near each other.

I wonder if they know how much their lives will change as they grow up. 

And grow away.
I want to hold her and never let go.

I want to be five years old, snuggled up next to her. Sitting between her and my mom and listening to the two of them talking long into the night.

Not wanting to close my eyes because then I'd fall asleep and would miss exciting things.

When I was five, I didn't appreciate how blessed I was to have them - my mom and my Nan. The two most important women in my life.

I appreciate it now. 

And I can't tell my mom how much I was blessed by her. But I tell my Nan. Every chance I get, I tell her.
Now I need to tell the other women in my life how blessed I am by them. My daughter. My mother-in-law. My sisters and my sisters-in-law. My nieces.

And my girlfriends. Sisters of my heart.

Oh yes, these women bless me every day. And I'm oh-so-glad that as life changes, they stay constant.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fun Times

I found some good light in the front foyer this afternoon.

Self portraits = very hard.

~~~~~~~~~~

I love my new scarf.

Thanks, M!

~~~~~~~~~~

M and I were tagging this morning. And eating. And gathering food. We aren't entirely self-focused. We brought food home to our families.

We stopped at a local bread shop/bakery after hitting a few tag sales and got some breakfast. Slices of freshly made and oh-so-soft warm bread. Slathered with butter. And peanut butter cookies. Oh yes, the peanut butter cookies.

Holy moly me oh my, you're the apple of my eye.

We stopped at a few more tag sales and then drove across town to get some of the best grinders ever made. Small Italian bakery. Four ingredients - fresh rolls, salami, provolone, homemade roasted green peppers. 

Grinders from this bakery = very happy family.

~~~~~~~~~~

When we go out tagging, I usually bring the newspaper with us since it has all the locations of the tag sales for the weekend. There was one in particular that sounded promising - older items, linens, antiques. I kept quizzing M on the address.

"Is it on Mountainside? Or Mountainview?" I asked.

"Mountainview," she said, after carefully looking at the paper. She folded it up and stuck it back in the door panel.

Off we go to Mountainview. 

"Are you sure it's on Mountainview?" I asked again, after driving a few miles. Since Mountainside is clear across town, I wanted to make sure I was heading to the right address.

"Oh yes, it's Mountainview," she said rather firmly.

We get to Mountainview. The road is all torn up. Clearly the town is working on the road and it is not finished yet. Very bumpy ride. We read the house numbers as we go along. We're looking for 62 Mountainview.

4, 6, 8, 14, 24, 32. End of road.

What? End of road? Where's 62? How can the road just end?

"Are you sure it's on Mountainview?" I asked, again, a little more suspiciously. I might have given her the stink eye.

"Yes, it's on Mountainview. I'll show you the paper," she says, confidently whipping out the classifieds to prove it was on Mountainview.

It was on Mountainside.

Tagging with M = lots of adventure.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Helicopter Seeds



As I was heading out to work this morning, I walked by a chair on the back porch and saw this little guy stuck in the chair.

I stopped to take a few shots.

Because I have all the time in the world in the morning. I don't rush around at all.

I'm always amazed when I take time to stop and really see something. 

God designed this seed perfectly.  The wing (pericarp) of the helicopter seed spins it slowly so it can meander its way down to earth, catching the wind, and dispersing it to faraway parts. Because the maple tree has such a large shade cover, the seed has to be blown far enough away so it can take root and flourish and not be shaded by its parent.

But sometimes they land in the wrong place. Like this little seed. He came down on a wrought iron chair. 

No dirt. No water. No nourishment at all. He's not going to make it. 

Poor little seed.

And aren't we like that? We flutter through life, getting blown around by circumstances surrounding us, and sometimes landing in the wrong place. Getting stuck on something. Trying to make it work even when we know it won't. 

But we have an advantage over that poor little seed.

We can move.
I look at that seed and I see the maple tree it could have grown up to be.

And that makes me a little sad.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Baton Twirling And Army Men


Saw my friend T tonight. We were chatting about the party they had a few weeks ago to say goodbye to her son.

He's heading overseas very soon. 

Too soon for his momma.

~~~~~~~~~~

After the party, they were hanging out in the driveway around a bonfire. T's son, pretty tall and full of brawn, picked up his father and started twirling him around. Manhandling him. Treating him like a baton.

All in good fun.

Until T got wind of it.

"Put your father down!" she yelled. "Put him down RIGHT NOW!"

Doesn't matter how old they are, they'll always be eight years old in our eyes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thrifting Treasures

Thrifting with my friend D. One of my favorite things to do.

We spent the whole day Saturday chasing vintage goodies all over creation. The day did not start out promising. 

We went to a {very} big tag sale advertised in a neighboring town, held on the grounds of the local convent. We hoped that parishioners had donated lots of good stuff so the church could raise a large amount of money. And they had.

Just not the stuff we wanted.

I found a bag of thread on wooden spools. A wooden badminton racquet. One robin's egg blue diner mug. Total spent = $1.75.

Not bad. But nothing that gets your heart rate pumping.
We explored the area around the convent since so many houses were holding tag sales near the church.

I found some vintage Christmas decorations - a couple knee hugging elves and a couple felted deer to add to my deer collection. A super large canning jar.

I found a wooden cheese box that had a small white label on it that read, "Set of bank bags, all for $2.00."  Five red and green colored vintage bank coin bags.

Jackpot.

I've been eyeing vintage coin bags on etsy and they are selling for anywhere from $5-$15, plus shipping, per bag.

Five bags for two dollars? Thank you. I'll take it. 

~~~~~~~~~~

What am I going to do with old bank bags, you may be asking. I am going to use them at Christmas instead of wrapping gifts. I do not want to use any wrapping paper this year, if I can help it. Instead, I am planning on using drawstring bags and placing the gifts inside.

So far I have seven bags. 

Looks like it's going to be a slim Christmas at our house this year.
We wandered through {many} more tag sales, picking up this and that as we went.

Old cameras to add to my collection, small glass bottles which will make wonderful flower vases, an old ice cream scoop.

And one of my favorite purchases of the day.

Paper dolls. I found a book of "Wedding Dolls" from 1953.

I. love. paper. dolls. 

When I was young, Nan would take my sister and I shopping on Saturdays with her and my Aunt N. She always made sure we stopped at the five and dime and let us pick something out to bring home. Many times I would choose a book of paper dolls. I spent hours cutting those dolls out oh-so-carefully and then playing with them. 

Nan was a smart woman. That kept me quiet for quite a while.

~~~~~~~~~~

But my absolute favorite purchase of the day? 

The afghan pictured above. I'm calling her Miss Rose Blanket. Very shabby chic looking. Hand knit. Semi-felted wool, probably from being washed instead of dry cleaned. She is gorgeous and big. I would guess between a twin and double size. The hours of worksmanship that must have gone into this afghan is staggering. As a knitter, I am overwhelmed by a project like this. 

Of course, there was no price tag on it. I brought it to the register, a little apprehensive about the cost. The cashier looked it over quickly and said, "The woman who brought that in said that she had it cleaned before she dropped it off. How's $2.00?"

$2.00 was just fine. 

And pretty little Miss Rose Blanket now has a new home.




Sunday, September 8, 2013

Commercial Break

I do not like commercials.

I do not understand most of them.  The Man and I have the television on most evenings, sometimes we watch it and sometimes it is for background noise.  He might be doing paperwork. I'm usually found editing photos, or knitting, or blogging. But sometimes we sit and watch something together. And question each other about the commercials. 

The conversation usually goes like this:

"What are they talking about?"

"I don't know."

"Well, what's this a commercial for?"

"I don't know."

"Well, they seem to be talking about semi-naked women/wild animals/high speed car chases so they must be ads for semi-naked women/wild animals/high speed car chases, right?"

"Nope. It's a commercial for underarm deodorant."

"Oh. I don't get it."

Does this happen in your home?

~~~~~~~~~~

So J came home tonight and went straight to my laptop. He pulled up a video of a commercial and made me watch it.

I loved it.

I really loved it.

Watch it. Please.



From now on, I'm only drinking Guinness.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Twist the Wrist

What a difference a slight twist of the wrist makes. The focus changes and suddenly something new pops out.

You can't see the tiny brown specks (I think they are called anthers and contain pollen) in the top picture but they are plentiful in the bottom picture.

One small twist of the lens and a whole new picture opened up.
Side view of all those teeny, tiny anthers.

They look like miniature alien antennas. Based on all the alien antennas I've seen. From films in the 1950s and 60s. Not real aliens. 

Silly.
That time of year.

Fall mums.

~~~~~~~~~~

I like the idea of changing focus. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in seeing one part of an issue that I don't remember to change my focus and see something else that might be more important.

There's a story in the Bible about two sisters Martha and Mary. Jesus comes to visit their home and Martha scurries around, preparing the meal and taking care of all the household needs, while Mary sits at our Lord's feet, listening to him speak.

Martha gets upset and asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her. 

But Jesus doesn't do that. He tells Martha that what Mary is doing is more needed than the household chores and he's not going to take that away from her.

He makes Martha see the problem with a different focus. And suddenly, it is clear. Listening to Jesus speak is more important than preparing a meal, or tidying a home. Of course.

~~~~~~~~~~

I wonder how many times I've used my time on something, missing out on the more important something else that I should have been focused on?

Hmmm.

Time to twist the wrist.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cane and Able

She looks so sweet.

She's got a spine of steel.

~~~~~~~~~~


Sissy and I took Nan to lunch yesterday. She's using her spiffy new cane to get around and she’s pretty quick with it.

So quick we have to tell her to slow down.

We sat in the booth and started looking over the menus. After a little while, we chose our meals and sat, waiting for them to come out. While we were waiting, we watched the hostess lead an elderly man to the table right next to us. Nan noticed he was using a cane just like hers. She started to give him the eye, like maybe he had stolen her cane. Even though it was right next to Sissy, tucked away in the booth.

She wanted to know where her cane was. We showed it to her and she made a low comment about thinking that the elderly man had taken her cane. No, no, we assured her. Your cane is safe and sound in the booth.

Harrumph, she said. He better not think about taking my cane, thinking it belongs to him.

She gave him the stink eye again. Sissy and I just laughed.

~~~~~~~~~~

About five minutes later, the elderly gentleman got up to go to the restroom, leaving his cane at the table.

Nan looked intently at his cane. That’s just like my cane, she said again, narrowing her eyes.

Yes, but yours is purple - his is black, we told her.

I like the purple, she said, and looked at her cane to make sure it was still in the booth.

~~~~~~~~~~

The elderly gentleman came back and the waitress served him his soup. We got served our sandwiches. Nan had ordered the chicken salad and it was generously overstuffed. She had to use a fork to eat some of the chicken salad. She took the tomatoes off the sandwich and had a bite or two, then nibbled at some french fries that Sissy gave her.

All the while she kept looking over at the elderly gentleman.

He’s old. But not as old as I am, she smirked. He walks pretty sturdy.

The elderly man had finished his soup and the waitress cleared his bowl when she brought his entree - baked fish, mashed potatoes, and corn kernels. He dug in to his meal.

Nan’s eyes got wide. I thought he was only having the soup, she said. He’s got a pretty good appetite. Maybe that’s why he’s lasted so long.

Sissy and I looked at each and laughed. YOU have a good appetite, Nan! Maybe that’s why YOU’VE lasted so long!

Nan laughed.

Maybe I should give him some of my sandwich?! she smiled. Now that she was sure he wasn’t out to steal her cane, she had warmed up to the man.

He never knew he provided us with so much entertainment that day.




Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Oh, Biscoff! How We Love You So!

This. Is. Dangerous. Stuff.

~~~~~~~~~~

One of my dear knitting friends, T, made a Biscoff Pie for snack one evening. I think it was the best dessert I've ever eaten. If you have never had a Biscoff cookie, stop reading, go to the grocery store, and buy a package. Sit down and try to control yourself.

They are that good.

They are also called the airline cookie because an airline-that-won't-be-named hands them out for a snack.

The pie recipe calls for Biscoff spread. Looks like peanut butter, tastes like Biscoff cookies. That's a win-win as far as I'm concerned. I bought a jar, intending to make the pie that upcoming weekend. But I ran into a bit of problem once I got home. I opened the jar, needing to sample the spread first to see how close it tasted to the cookies.

Very close. In fact, so close I thought I was eating the cookies. K walked into the kitchen and I handed her a spoon. 

Problem number two. She and I are both armed with spoons, holding the jar between us. Er, playing tug o' war with the jar. I don't know how long the jar lasted, but I don't think it was more than three or four hours.

Gulp. That's not good. 

Fast forward a few days and I discover that they also make a chunky version of the Biscoff spread. The chunky version has crumbles of cookies in it. So I bought a jar of the chunky to try and a jar of the smooth for the pie recipe.

Three days later, both jars were gone. Still no pie.

This could become a serious problem.

I bought a fourth jar when we went to the beach. Both J and K brought friends and we wanted them to try the spread. We didn't even pretend that we were buying it for a pie.

Pie, shmie. Hand me a spoon.

~~~~~~~~~~

We are now on our fifth jar in about three weeks and we still haven't made the pie. But I have a plan. I'm not going to buy the sixth jar until the moment I decide I have time to make the pie. I'll bring it home immediately, hand it to the Man with stern instruction to keep it hidden until I call for it. He will bring it to me, waiting while I measure it out, and then confiscate it right after. 

It's going to be a tough job but I think he's up for it. He hasn't tasted the spread yet.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Once



Beef is the meat of choice when our family gets together for dinner. Sliced very thin and seasoned perfectly, it just about melts in your mouth. Pair it up with some whipped smashed potatoes (whipped unbelievably light and fluffy by Sissy) and steamed carrots and you've got yourself a winning meal.

No vegetarians in our family.

Honestly, we should have been cattle ranchers.
No idea what E is doing in the background. She must be trying to make a point (or two) about something or other. Whatever it was, K found it funny.

I love when these girls get together. I love the giggles. And the smiles.

~~~~~~~~~~

Haiku:

happy, laughing girls
nestled tightly together
bonds of love are strong
I wonder what she's thinking.
After dinner, we sat around the table and talked with Nan, asking her all kinds of questions about her childhood.

She told us her father was a fireman. But not the rescue type - he was a boiler man, tending the fires at the mill down the street from where they lived. Her mother stayed home, caring for Nan and her other siblings. There were eight of them. 

Nan only knew one of her grandparents - her maternal grandfather. He lived on a farm and she remembers going to visit him once.

Once.

~~~~~~~~~~

We asked her about that. 

"Only once?" we questioned her, having a hard time believing she only saw her grandfather once.

"You didn't see your parents much once you left home. Or your family," she told us. "There were no cars. And we didn't have a carriage and horse. We had to walk. I remember walking to my grandfather's once."

"Well, when did the rest of you see each other?" we asked.

"On holidays. You might see some of your siblings or parents on holidays," she said matter-of-factly. "But mostly you had your holidays with your own."
I'm still trying to grasp that. I grew up seeing this woman a lot. Spending a lot of time with her. Weekends, holidays, vacations. Whenever we could, we spent time together. Hugging and kissing and snuggling on the couch. 

Her influence on my life? Immeasurable.

I would be a different person if I only saw her once. I learned love from this woman. I learned selfless giving from her. I learned how to play bingo and cards and Pokeno. I learned how to make Thanksgiving dinner. I learned just how delicious a root beer float tastes on a hot summer night. I learned how to crochet, how to say all kinds of childhood rhymes, and how to make the best holiday punch ever. And I learned how to laugh from her.

See her only once? I can't fathom that.

One is a lonely number, indeed.