Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Been Swell

Farewell, dreamy August.

You have been good to me, this year.

I may not have the tan lines to prove it, but I do have an extra pound, or two.

You were as colorful as ever.

Well, except towards the end.

You taught me a thing or two about tomatoes.

You also taught me that onions are the belles of the raised bed ball and that it's fun to grow banana peppers even if you have no earthly clue what to do with them.

You united me with my inner cowgirl, and I may never be the same.

You provided the perfect end-of-Summer air for a proper camp-out.

What I'm trying to say is, you've shown all of us a good time.

And when I say "all of us", I mean "all of us".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camp Love

Sarah and I took an unexpected road trip this weekend. (You remember Sarah, right? She was the one who was hopelessly in unrequited love with Pat, circa 1991.)

Yesterday, our mutual friend, Janet, got hitched.

Sarah has known Janet for most of her life, but I officially met her for the first time at church camp. She was our counselor. We were 15. (It's true - our 15th year was an important one.)

Janet hollered at us a few times that week, because we wouldn't shut our traps and go to sleep already. What can I say? We had only recently met and had 15 years to catch one another up on. Plus, we had our pals Jennifer and Becky in the next bunk over. And please, you cannot house 15 teenaged girls in a cabin for a week and not expect some chatter. That being said, I do believe Sarah and I out talked Jennifer and Becky by at least an hour a night, on average.

While we are on the topic, it feels worth mentioning that we had a fellow cabin-mate named Babe. Promise. So sleep deprived was Janet that she fell asleep one night during Babe's long-winded leg of our cabin-wide prayer time.

Fast forward 3 years, and you'll find us at Bethel College. Janet is the Resident Director of our Freshman dorm. She hollered at us a few more times that year for rebel rousing too late into the night. (I think she felt a little more comfortable unleashing her sleep-deprived angst on us, since we went way back and all.)

And truthfully - she loved us. And we loved her. She was the big sister that I never had and I trusted her, because she trusted us. We shared secrets. She knew about our crushes (at least the top tier) and sometimes, we even knew about hers.

I loved her so much that I opted two years later to serve as one of her Resident Advisors, and Sarah loved her so much that she opted, for no fantastic reason, to live with me for a second time in the Freshman dorm. (Her love for me may have had a little to do with that decision, too.)

My Senior year, she moved out of the Freshman dorm to oversee a street of campus houses. What were we to do but follow?

We ate countless meals with Janet and I even traveled over the ocean with her, once. We belly laughed and sometimes, we cried. We were connected, in part, because we were from the same place. They knew my people and I knew theirs. Home for all of us was, and still is, a podunk area marked by a well-traveled road named Hogpath.

As often happens, we lost touch after college. She remained at BC for several more years, I got married and moved around a little.

Now, 18 years after meeting her at camp, I sat in the same outdoor tabernacle on the same wooden benches and watched her, at the age of 43, marry the person God had made just for her. I don't know him, but I do know her smile and I know a little bit of her heart.

That night, after the wedding, I lay in my childhood bed thinking about how influential she had been in my life; and how she, in part, made me the woman and the wife that I am. She taught me things that I needed to know - things that serve me well.

Mostly, she taught me to not settle for less than God's best for me. And she was a living example of not settling. She waited. I know it was not easy for her to wait sometimes, and I know that other times, she didn't give it a thought.

She just....waited.

Witnessing her in her day of joy was a true and precious gift. Witnessing it in a place that holds so many fun memories, with so many significant people on the benches around me, was icing on the cake.

*(The irony is not lost on me that I attended the wedding and dedicated this post to the wedding, but do not have a picture of the bride. I'm a bit erratic when it comes to taking pictures. You'll have to take my word for it that she looked absolutely smashing.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Fold

So, it's come to this. A laundry post.

I don't know what to tell you, other than that on this rainy August day, my love for laundry was never more pure. So deep was my love that I felt compelled to share it.

This is the way I fold laundry, several times a week, week after week after week.

I sit right here on the floor and I lose myself in the warm, smell-goody artifacts of the people I love the most.

And for doing their laundry, my family pays me not in cash, but in cool stuff like this. I found it today, I do not know what it is, nor from whence it came, but it's rusty metal, and I'll take it.

The arm of the chair is designated for those items that will go straight to the closet.

The kids' stuff gets stacked in Ruby's laundry basket.

Our stuff gets piled onto the floor, where it just may remain for the next day or two.

I have very stringent folding standards that I impose upon myself. I like methodical. I like orderly. This is one small corner of my universe that I have control over, barring the odd, stubborn stain or the runaway sock.

I typically like to stack the items by size, but today I hid the unmentionables somewhere in the middle. A little prudishness never hurt anyone. And if I were Cory, I would not necessarily want people knowing that I wear polar bear underbritches.

While I fold, I do some thinking. (My best thinking comes during laundry folding, weed pulling and eyebrow plucking, fyi.)

Today I reminisced about the time that Ted Kennedy nearly knocked me over in the Russell Senate building. Now you think I'm name dropping, don'tcha? You think I'm gloating over the fact that I'm practically part-Camelot. In truth, of all of the political figures roaming the hallowed DC halls, Ted Kennedy would not have been my first choice. Still, he was a political celebrity and since I've never met (or been run over by) any real celebrities, I'll take what I can get.

I was folding today on my lunch break, so in between basketball jerseys and dress socks, I ate my left-over sauerkraut, sausage and mashed potatoes - one of those magical meals that tastes even better re-heated.

I tried not to think about these:

They are the bratty exception to my laundry love. They are boring, boring, boring. And mostly, they are inside out. I have made peace with turning t-shirts right-side-in, but I draw the line at socks.
You break 'em, you buy 'em.
*(Please modify the previous line for compatibility with laundry. I don't have it in me right now to work that one out.)

I also realized today that this is the only vantage point in the house which could have drawn my attention to this:

For reasons unclear even to me, I was drawn to Charlie, mischievously dipping his paw into an unsuspecting Lucy's bath.

I am not entirely convinced that toys do not come to life when the humans retire for the night. I've caught too many of these suspiciously "staged" vignettes to rule it out.

Since it's Friday and all, take a look here and here. If you have any luck at all, other people will be hooked on something a little more exciting than laundry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hot Date

A hot date can do a world of good for a frumpy hausfrau. I should know, I've been on a few in recent weeks.

This handsome fellow accompanied me last week for a much-anticipated Mommy Date.

First, we hit up TJ Maxx for a new backpack. (By the by, this pose was entirely his idea, which cracked me up.) He had planned on a Thomas the Train or Lightening McQueen model. Being on the cutting edge of current trends as he is, they had both. And yet - as soon as he noticed a powder blue Nike backpack, his internal compass shifted back to his one true love - sports.

A little more searching yielded this Colts backpack.

A bit of background: Neither Cory, nor myself enjoy sports of any kind. We do not follow them, we do not care about them. I know, this must be ridiculously painful for some of you to hear, but I don't know who else to be, other than boring, sports-dunce me. I blame my distaste for sports (especially football) on the fact that my High School was not large enough for a football team. I do have a mild interest in tennis, but that's a whole 'nother story. Cory, on the other hand, played 4 years of HS football, so we're not exactly sure what happened there.

Suffice it to say, we are boggled by Calvin's fascination. We hear the clock ticking in our ear - we have approximately one year to curb this nonsense before we find ourselves sitting frozen along the sidelines of a soccer field. {Shudder} Pray for us.

For the love of Pete, where was I?

Ah yes, the date:

Calvin wavered in the preceding days as to his restaurant of choice. Pizza Hut was in consideration, but in the end, we ended up exactly where I knew we would: the Chinese buffet.

Homes loves himself some lo mein.

I have to say, even though he didn't offer to pick up the tab, he was a most charming and entertaining date. I'll definitely see him again.

He said he would call me on his pretend Blackberry...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beach Fun - Cousin Edition

The whole lot of us headed to the beach, earlier this Summer.

4 adults and 6 kiddos.

I was positive that we would make it back up there at least once more, but Mother Nature had other plans, in the form of clouds, wind and rain. And, in fairness, we had other plans, in the form of tonsillectomy and other assorted medical emergencies.

We had so much fun, though.
The food was a huge, huge hit. Note to self: Kids dig sand-encrusted food.

Ruby and Evan were the official water babies of the day.

These two mostly palled around in the sand and giggled at each other. And, if I know them at all, they talked about toots.

Nana braved the chilly water like a champ.

Jack puttered around, looking super cute.

This child....I can't get enough of her. But that's really neither here, nor there.

Colin warmed up to the idea of being at the beach approximately 30 minutes before it was time to leave.

This here is one fun and rowdy crew.

And not even 15 minutes into the trip back home, we had this.

Summer, if you are listening, don't leave us! Now's as good a time as any for a good, old fashioned revolt.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kinda Shady

I find that I am quite moved by low light.

(Does this mean that I'm shady?)

I like that hazy, gauzy, scrimmy look that occurs at just the right time of the day, or evening.

When I am alert enough to notice it, I grab my camera.
(I know, that last line makes me sound like someone who floats through life in a drug-induced fog. What I really meant is that when that light tends to fall, I am often too preoccupied to appreciate it. Something about two pre-schoolers and a job and a pony that keeps escaping the pasture...)

Have I ever told you how much I detest "getting ready"? I blame it on the fact that as an adolescent, I loved spending hours in front of the mirror, Teen Magazine tear-out "How-To" booklet in hand, daydreaming about those teeny, tiny Shine Free eyeshadows in the pink cases or the loose powder housed in the odd, lavender hourglass-esque container.

I was all about trying to make my eyes larger and my zits smaller.

Fast forward 17 years, and it's all I can do to pull out the hair dryer.

When an occasion arises that warrants tethering myself to the outlet for 10 minutes, I get bored. My escape of choice is the above view. So many times I have thought to myself, "That there is the best view of the kitchen". One day, I finally decided to go ahead and capture it for posterity.

Another recent evening, I happened by the dining area and saw this lovely golden light casting shadows on the wall.

In a fit of control freakishness, I removed the plastic pink bib. I think I still like the first shot better.

These "overblown" shots really rub Cory the wrong way. What can I say? I like a little blur. It lends itself to my honed photographic technique.

It's so glowy and warm. It makes my carpet appear clean.

This one's for you, Kasey. Hope you catch it. And trust me, if you lived any closer, I'd have this puppy under lock and key.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My honey and I have been hitched now for 10 years. We try to always make it a priority to get away regularly, just the two of us, for a meal, a movie, a weekend in a city that has stores, 4 days on a far-away island...

I always assumed we would do something extra fun for our 10th anniversary.

But, Summer has conspired against us in many ways this year, and this was no exception.

Friday night, after Nana and Papa whisked the kids away for a blessed overnighter, I surprised Cory by pointing to some piles of bacon, lettuce and tomato and inviting him to make himself a sandwich or two.

It was our anniversary, after all, why not go all out?

Then, we were off to see Julie and Julia - the late showing! On the way, we drove under a beautiful, full rainbow. No picture to prove it (I know!) but we took it as a good omen. Well, I took it as a good omen. Cory believes there is no such thing as a good omen, and upon further consideration, I think he may be right. We'll call it a good sign, I guess, even though I don't believe in signs (or omens) and still think "omen" sounds much more poetic.

As I was saying - the movie! 4 huge thumbs up.

Afterward, we stopped by Applebees and shared a platter of nachos and I felt bad about our middle-aged waitress who seemed like she should have been elsewhere at 11 p.m. on a Friday night. We did what we could to improve the state of her evening and I tried to tell myself that maybe she has just really always enjoyed waitressing.

Then, I came home and penned a proclamation of Stanley Tucci's dreaminess. Just go see the movie and you'll agree that it couldn't have been helped. Cory was relieved that I did not blog about the fact that he may have loved the movie ever-so-slightly more than I did. He should know that I would not do such a thing.

We had big plans to spend the following day up in Michigan, visiting quaint towns, breezing through some antiques shops and second-hand bookstores, eating fancy food, etc... I was sure that I'd have scores of swoony pics to share.

Instead, we woke to a downpour.

Cory, feeling especially optimistic, grabbed The Beast, then spent the rest of the morning asking me if I could carry all umpteen pounds of it in my bag.

Hopeful that the weather would be clearer up North, we ventured to St. Joe, MI. The rain subsided long enough for us to make it into a deli for lunch. Just as we finished up, the skies cut loose, once again.

So much for leisurely strolls.

We dashed to the car, then headed Southward.

Cory tricked me by taking a route that pretty much required him to stop at his favorite camera store. Which do you think he should buy next - a wide angle, or a macro? I cautiously vote wide angle, though it is almost double the price.

In short, we spent the better part of our big day in the car. Thank goodness we had On a Clear Night and The Trumpet Child to keep us company. And Sonic.

Too full from lunch to eat a good dinner out, we returned home, worked on a few projects, kissed Ruby and Calvin's cheeks, put them to bed, ordered a pizza and watched the first two episodes of Mad Men - Season 2.

Proof positive that any day is a good day when you are celebrating the best decision you ever made.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Lucky Am I?

I've been feeling quite lucky, these days, and for all sorts of reasons.

Tonight, I wanted to show you this.

Seriously - life is a bowl of cherries! (Or, a piece of pristine vintage fabric, as the case may be...)

Friday, August 21, 2009

This Just In:

Stanley Tucci is a total babe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August Indicators

Aren't you just sick of me writing about food and flowers? Food and and food. Blabitty-blabitty-blah-blah-blah.

I know, I'm sick of it, too.

Wait a minute, no I'm not.

Not one single bit.

And just for spite, this post is about both.

I have grown quite enamored of Morning Glories, and I place full blame square on a nice, local Amish family. Their farm stand has the best ones around. Last year I fell so hard for them that I thought I might not recover. The common sense thing to do would have been to plant my own.

But I'm more book-smart, ya know?

I asked the lady yesterday what her tips were and she did one of those throw-your-head-back-a-little courtesy laughs. She tried earnestly to be humble. (It's an Amish tradition, humility.) But I could tell that she knows hers are the best.

She said the best advice she could give is to be sure to buy Heavenly Blue seeds, although when she said it, it came out "Heavenly Bluh". It seriously took me a split second to translate it in my mind. This sort of thing just endears me all the more to the sweet folks around here. They are my secret, pretend kin. (Kind of like Bobby Brady was, circa 1980.)

A few miles down the road, I found my second favorite batch within the tri-mile area. I swerved right over and threw her in park just to get the picture. So pretty with the Black-Eyed Susans. That tiny corner of red barn peeking out was a surprise I discovered in editing. (And whenever I refer to "editing" my photos, I mean transferring them from my camera to the computer. It took me just shy of a year to master that skill.)

Now, for the food segment of this broadcast.

I had the most delightful lunch today.

Thomas brand Healthy Start english muffin with a generous schmear of onion and chive cream cheese, thick slice of tomato, salt and pepper. I had two. And some fruit.

Later, I picked our first ripe heirloom tomato. It's a pinkish hue and I think it had "Ruby" somewhere in the name. The main reason I like to plant heirloom tomatoes is that I adore their bumpy form. I recently came to learn that the ridgey, lumpy, funky protrusions are called "shoulders".

Now, every time I see one, I think of something along the lines of this. It really is a good comparison, whoever thunk it up.

Well, I'm off to eat my ritual 10 pm snack. I'll be sure to take notes for a future post....

**Be sure to do that Friday thang and check out Hooked on Houses and The Inspired Room.