Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Missed the Bus

"Missed the Bus, Mom"
This is the phone message I retrieved when I got home yesterday, about 15 minutes before the bus was due to drop off the boys:

Mom, this is Ricky. I missed the bus. I'm going to a friend's house who lives near the school. See ya!

I know no one who lives near the school. Where is my son? Why didn't he stay put if he missed the bus and I would pick him up? Why didn't he call my cell phone? Why didn't he at least give me a name and number?

I call my husband who is on the way home from school. I'll stay by the phone and Steve will drive by the school. Ron gets off the bus and informs me that Rick did not "miss the bus" but made a conscious decision not to get on the bus. Ron thought about it but decided it would be best to come home. Good decision by one son. Bad decision by his twin. Ron thought Rick went home with Mike, or perhaps his name is Steve. Little help there. Ten more tense minutes and the phone rings.

Mom, this is Ricky. I'm on my way home. Steve's mother is driving me home.

It seems that Ricky passed his Dad's car and decided he better get home.

So Ron's grounding ended yesterday and Rick's grounding started. He's grounded because of the lie - "I missed the bus." I've read that the frontal lobe isn't fully connected in teenage boys' brains (girls connect earlier than boys), but can we survive until those neurons start popping?

We had just talked to both boys about staying put if they are "lost" after a friend's 12 y.o. nephew wandered downtown Chicago from 2 PM until 3 AM. He must have had a whole flock of guardian angels because the police stopped searching for a lost boy around midnight and began treating it as a criminal case. The boy just kept walking, "Gotta find Mom." If he had stayed in the vicinity, the police and their bullhorns would have been effective. Of course, Rick didn't think he was lost. He knew where he was.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Dividing Irises

Divide and Multiply
I spent Saturday morning at the church dividing the bearded irises. The task was long past due and the rhizomes were so overgrown they looked like cobblestones. Luckily a recent rain softened the ground without making it muddy.

At 8:30 it was just me and an elderly gentlemen who had to rest quite often because of a failing heart. Bless his heart, it isn't failing in the most important sense...it is loving and giving. Not only does he joyfully volunteer for church but he's caring for his wife with Alzheimers.

Then three other faithful gardeners showed up and we divided the work - the other man dug up the irises and the rest of us split off the spent rhizomes and trimmed the foliage of the healthy rhizomes for replanting. There are three beds at the church with overgrown irises and we almost finished one bed. As the morning passed, we quit digging them up properly; we just dug holes out of the cobblestone rhizomes and trimmed the tops.

Why is it called dividing plants when the result is multiples of the original? We transplanted 30 plants and are giving away two huge tubs of iris starts. If you want some lavender bearded iris starts, stop by at Huntertown United Methodist Church.

Recipe - Onion and Cheese Pie

Recipe - Onion and Cheese Pie
My menfolk don't love onions the way I do, so I took the opportunity to make an old favorite when hosting my Women's Group last Friday. Lots of rave reviews, so I thought you may enjoy this recipe.

10" unbaked pastry crust
10 oz. cheese - half Swiss and half Gruyere or however desired.
2 T flour
2 large onions, sliced
4 T butter
1 tsp. chopped basil
2 large firm tomatoes, sliced
2 large eggs
3/4 cup cream

Melt butter in skillet. Add sliced onions and saute for about half an hour.

Toss grated cheese with flour and spread 1/3 of cheese on bottom of pie. Spread onions over cheese.

In the butter that is left in the pan, heat the tomato slices with the chopped basil for a minute or two. Arrange tomatoes over the onions and cover with remaining cheese.

Beat eggs with cream. Pour over cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until top browns.

Cool slightly but serve warm.

Variations that work: Sprinkle top with shredded Parmesan Cheese. Saute chunks of red pepper after onions and before tomatoes. I sliced the tomatoes very thick since they weren't firm.

Variation that didn't work: mushrooms - they tasted good but made the pie much too runny (or maybe it was the juicy tomatoes from my garden). Next time I may saute in separate pan and not add the mushroom juice to the pie or perhaps I will use more flour for extra thickening.

First Love(s)

First Loves(s)
Rick was seized with some serious soul-searching this weekend. His current heart throb is resisting his overtures because, "You don't know anything about Love. You have a different girlfriend every year. You can't make a commitment. "

We were in the car as he was pondering what to do about this perception. He resolved the issue by saying, "Well, if it doesn't work out with Girl1, then Girl2 likes me and she sure is cute."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Either Or

Via Curmudgeonry

Hardback or Paperback - I love hardback books but recently switched to paperback unless I'm certain it's a keeper
Highlight or Underline - and scribble in the margin
Lewis or Tolkien - Easy choice
E.B. White or A.A. Milne
T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings - Hard choice - takes me back to my college years. Haven't read either since then.
Stephen King or Dean Koontz - neither. I've read King but not Koontz
Barnes & Noble or Borders - Borders is closer
Waldenbooks or B. Dalton- neither
Fantasy or Science Fiction - neither
Horror or Suspense - neither
Bookmark or Dogear - I have a collection of bookmarks, but I usually use whatever slip of paper that's handy
Large Print or Fine Print - I'm getting old
Hemingway or Faulkner
Fitzgerald or Steinbeck
Homer or Plato
Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser
Pen or Pencil
Looseleaf or Notepad
Alphabetize: By Author or By Title
Shelve: By Genre/Subject or All Books Together - But it ends up all books together after the other readers in the house hit the shelves
Dustjacket: Leave it On or Take it Off - usually that's my bookmark
Novella or Epic
John Grisham or Scott Turrow
J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket - She wrote the book that finally spurred one son to read
John Irving or John Updike
Salman Rushdie or Don Delillo - I've never read either one
Fiction or Non-fiction - About ten years ago, I gave myself permission to read fiction which I love.
Historical Biography or Historical Romance - Both, as long as it's well-written
Reading Pace: A Few Pages per Sitting or Finish at Least a Chapter - or until I fall asleep
Short Story or Creative Non-fiction Essay
Blah Blah Blah or Yada Yada Yada
“It was a dark and stormy night…” or “Once upon a time…”
Books: Buy or Borrow - As I said, I'm a bibliophile, but I usually borrow non-fiction. It's rare that I reread non-fiction.
Book Reviews or Word of Mouth - I read reviews but I believe word of mouth

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

High School

High School
Yesterday was the first day of the first year of high school for the twins. How can that be? Where are my little boys? Who are these strange men-boys in my house?

Unlike some teens, the boys still talk to us about their day - who they met, first impressions of teachers, the pretty girl on the bus. ("She might be the ONE!") Mom, who came home for Aimee's wedding, spent the evening with us and I'm not sure what she made of all the teen chatter. Ricky asked her what my high school years were like. Luckily she refrained from telling any of my rebellious teen stories, which I'm sure he was hoping to hear. She seems only to remember the good times. I hope I'm the same with my boys.

A couple from church whose twin boys are raised sent us a note last spring: "Enjoy your boys. We are." I needed that encouragement because raising teens can be hard. It is easy to get caught up in their emotional turmoil and not enjoy them for just who they are at the moment.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Flowers for All

Late Summer Bouquets
My niece called late last week and asked if I could provide flowers for 8-10 tables for her informal wedding celebration last Saturday in Indianapolis. I said yes and then gulped because my garden is in its late summer doldrums. So I did what younger sisters do - I called Peg for help. She has a beautiful garden, but was in the same situation. Summer blooms are spent and fall blooms aren't out yet. The rudbeckia looks nice but Aimee's colors were pink and blue and white.

So we bought Stargazer lilies to tie the outdoor bouquets into the indoor bouquets she had and also to anchor the outdoor bouquets with some bulk. Aimee provided blue-green quart ball jars with sand and shells in the bottom because they got married on the beach in the Virgin Islands. Peg and I picked what we had and were amazed at the variety and beauty of the blooms. Pink and white cosmos with its ferny foliage, white cleome, a stalky pure blue wildflower, and obedient plant came from my garden. Pink daisy-like mums, blue salvia spikes, small white allium flowers, and a few zinnias came from Peg's garden. Peg had dainty satin bows with long tails left from her daughter's wedding to finish the bouquets. The bouquets were beautiful.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

School Shopping

Sizing by Area
I give the twins a back-to-school clothing allowance and they choose their own clothes, but I insist that they try them on for my inspection before we buy them. The jeans that Ron tried on looked great, so I didn't do any further checking when he selected three more pairs. When he donned a new pair of jeans yesterday, he couldn't breathe and was stumbling on the excess length. Well, he could not find any 34/32 jeans so he bought three pairs of 32/34.

The boys are very different in physique and Rick was appalled at having to buy his clothes in the boys section. The styles are the same as in the men's section, so no one else will know...except everyone who reads this blog!

The trip back to the store to exchange the jeans, though, cost me another $100 somehow. Shoes, shirts, umbrellas and sunglasses - all the essentials no matter what the weather.

School shopping gets to be a bigger chore every year, and much more expensive. But no complaints from me because this end-of-summer ritual will be a thing of the past all too soon.

I'm Back

I'm back
Mom and I worked hard packing for her move home and had a good visit at the same time. We almost finished packing her sewing room/den, and the supplies and a packing process are in place for Mom to continue packing. We got slowed down with memorabilia, including reading letters that Dad wrote to her from France during the war. What great letters - funny and poignant and thoughtful. She thought I read them when I was younger, but that was my sister.

We also started packing her china and crystal. I had her write the provenance of some pieces, because I just won't remember what was my grandmother's and great-grandmother's.

I made a dent on her books but when I thought I was finished, she showed me two closets filled with books. I am a bibliophile legitimately.

Mom and Dad moved to Arkansas in 1981. I was shocked. Kids were suppose to move away from their parents, not the other way around. And why Arkansas? Mom's from Indiana and Dad's from the East Coast. But they loved their small community in the Ozarks and we spent many great vacations there. I felt sorrow for the passing of this time, and I cannot imagine what Mom must feel, especially as it was her last home with Dad.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I'm already three hours late leaving for Mom's, but thought I'd dash off one more message. Posting will be light to non-existent for the next several weeks. Meanwhile here are some sites I enjoy(and someday I will add a blogroll):
Sand in the Gears
Lilek's Daily Bleat
Tulip Girl
A Little Ardvaark (but he's taking a break also but check out the old posts)
Real Live Preacher
The Lingual Nerve
Diary of the Food Whore (watch language)

And for some political sites:
Tongue Tied (on being PC)


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Blackberry and toad lilies

Spotted Blackberries and Toads
Lilies, that is. My garden is abloom in dots.

The unfortunately-named toad lily, or Tricyrtis hirta, is blooming by the front door under the clematis and next to the astilbe. I have two cultivars, both gifts so I do not know their names. They are starting to spread and I think I will be very happy with their neat appearance. The flowers are gorgeous but small, so it is nice to have them by the sidewalk to enjoy them.

Scattered among several gardens are blackberry lilies, Belamcanda chinensis, in the flowering, pod and seed stages. The start came from Aunt Barbara and they freely self-seed, but have never been a nuisance.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Mom's coming home...for good! She finally sold her home in Arkansas and will be moving back to be near her five children and their spouses, fifteen grandchildren (including spouses) and six great-grandchildren. I will be so happy to have her near me. It will be a hard transition since she moved away about 20 years ago and she has to establish herself again. Her social life was very active in Arkansas, so now she has to find a new church home, a bridge club, a painting group, a Red Hat Society and other activities that she enjoys. I'm heading out later this week to help her start with the packing. Since she is moving from a home with LOTS of storage to an apartment, deciding what to keep, what to give away, what to throw away and what to store will be emotionally wrenching for both of us. My goal, though, is to make this move as easy as possible for her. My sister will be going down later to continue the process and I hope to be able to squeeze in another trip before the final move, if I can work it into the school schedule of husband and sons.

Here's our criteria for the move: "Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

This sounds great, but it ignores the impractical and less than beautiful sentimental items.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Blueberry Picking

I Found My Maker on Blueberry Acre
OK, so that's bad, but it kept going through my head as I picked 13.8 pounds of fresh blueberries today at Blueberry Acres, just a few miles from my house. They are clean and in the freezer. We use them almost exclusively in pancakes - just throw a few on the uncooked side of the pancake before you flip it. Last year we ran out in February, so we are going back tomorrow to pick some more. Antioxidants for all.

The low tonight is suppose to be in the 40s, setting a record for low temps on this day. It makes working outside pleasant but I am NOT ready for fall.

If you decide to go blueberry picking, do not wear sandals. I finally took them off and went barefoot. So now my fingers and toes are both blue.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


At The Lake last Sunday, my sister handed me a present, tied with a pretty ribbon and a nice long handwritten note: The Limbaugh Letters. She's trying to convert me, ever since she read my post about not listening to him.

Before we tightened our belts, while I was still working, here are some of the pubs we got:
Canoe and Kayak
Fine Gardening
Garden Design

Green Prints-The Weeders Digest

Peg (my sister) gives me her back issues of Discover and Good News, and she gave me a gift subscription to Christianity Today. Friend Susan gives me her back issues of Smithsonian and National Geographic and friend Renee gives me back issues of Fortune. Does anyone want to share their gardening magazines with me?

To what magazines do you subscribe? This is an excellent way to quickly get to know someone and initiate conversations about their interests. When I was in sales (yes, reinsurance sales is on my dusty resume), this was one of my favorite questions to ask a prospect over dinner. What's in your magazine rack or beside your bed or by the toilet or piling up on any flat surface or all of the above?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Ron is a Green Bay Packers fan, a cheesehead. I'm not sure this is connected to our recent grocery shopping trip when he filled my cart with cheese - eight pounds of it.
Flowers in my hat
As my husband and I walked with my sister and her husband along the high grassy ridge of their newly purchased lake property (acres of land), my husband picked a small vetch flower and put in the brim of my sun hat. Then he added a small stem of purple clover and a small bud of white yarrow. We all started looking for a yellow flower to complement the bouquet and settled for a wild mustard flower. It was a pretty little bouquet and such a sweet gesture. This is one of the many reasons I love my husband.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Last July Day
I spent the last day of July in my garden - eight hours. The result is a large mound of detritus with a small portion of the garden looking great. I weeded, deadheaded, cut back and staked. The entry path and garden look great. The border of ladies' mantle undulates in its fresh green growth. The columbine foliage is no longer brown and stalky. The perennial salvia are little clumps of blue-green foliage. The pinks are no longer covered with dead flower stalks. And the Siberian iris foliage is not flopping over its neighbors.

Next I will tackle the shade garden where all sorts of weeds are lurking and the spent stalks of the hosta blooms are waiting for the compost pile.

There are two spots of incredible beauty. The bed between the hill and the pond is sparkling with a traditional mix of black-eyed susans and coneflowers, with a few late-blooming daylilies adding to the bright display. The other spot is in the shade garden where magic lilies have poked up between late blooming astilbes. The fern-like astilbe foliage anchor the bare stemmed lilies, and the pink and lavender astilbe blooms perfectly complement the colors of the lilies.