Monday, November 29, 2004


I planted the last of the bulbs, about 25 species crocus of assorted colors, next to the front sidewalk today. I had to bruch aside the snow and then leaves but the soil was warm and crumbly.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Babushki of the Revolution
If you are having a hard time understanding the situation in the Ukraine, or if you are relying solely on mainstream media for your understanding, check out Tulip Girl's November 27th entry. I've been reading her for some time now, drawn in by her passion for life - family, homelife, infant care, spirituality. Then she finds herself living in the Ukraine during this political upheaval and blogging about both the human and political perspective.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree
One of our holiday traditions is to cut our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving from the 25 scotch pines we planted at our tree farm for just this purpose. The first year it was a wee spindly tree, but the last several years, the trees have been gorgeous. This year it is huge, perhaps 12 feet tall. It only fits in the enclosed front porch which has a high ceiling. The males in the house wrestled it into our standard-sized tree stand and we started putting lights on it last night. The tree fell over several times, so now there is a hook in the ceiling with a cord holding the tree upright. It works for me, just don't look too close. The mini lights look ridiculous on the huge tree, so we invested in some larger lights today. I also bought a dozen very large golden bulbs because I know my ornaments are going to get lost on it. When I got back from the store today the twins had hung the lighted window/lawn decorations on the tree (candy canes, star, Rudolph) and it looks just fine.


I just talked to Mom on the phone and she reminded me that it's been about a week since I posted anything, so here it is. Thanksgiving was at my sister' home. Peg and I take turns hosting the holidays. This year she has Thanksgiving, I have Christmas, she has Easter and then I have Thanksgiving next year. Meanwhile the three brothers have parties in the summer and I have my fall river party. Sprinkled in between are special events such as graduations and birthdays. I am so blessed to have a family that enjoys each other's company. When I was in my early 30s, I had dinner for my family before we went to the theater. I didn't remember my roommate's remark, but my Mom did, "Does your family always have so much fun?" Yes, we do. What a legacy from my parents and grandparents.

The whole family usually goes for a long walk after we eat, but with several inches of wet snow on the ground, we had a raucous snowball fight. I was an observer along with my niece Jennifer, until we were walking back to the house and I nailed her with a snowball. She sputtered, "but, but I'm wearing a skirt!" and then proceeded to pummel her sister with snowballs. Jon, my 12-year- old great nephew, came in last, soaking wet and asked each person in turn, "Who was the super star today?" Of course, he was.

My contributions to the meal were homemade yeast rolls, our family's traditional cranberry nut bread, broccoli health salad (totally misleading name with the bacon and mayo), and my special spinach (baked in a bechamel sauce with onions and Parmesan cheese.) Last night I cooked noodles, added the leftover spinach and ham and baked it for dinner. Yum. Here's the cranberry bread recipe:

Cranberry Nut Bread
Sift together:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Combine juice and zest of one orange, 2 tsp. melted butter and enough water
to make 3/4 cup all together. Add one well-beaten egg. Blend dry
ingredients and liquids just enough to dampen all.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 cup raw cranberries, washed, dried and
cut in half. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Close to the Earth

Close to The Good Earth
Sunday evening I tackled the ivy again. One square yard to go but it is the last remnant of the landscaping that came with the house: black plastic covered with large stones and 20 years of accumulated top soil overgrown with English ivy. Three five-gallon buckets of stones so far, but I was interrupted when Sam, our yellow lab, sensed a deer in the field and bolted over the fence to protect his territory. I followed, not through the fence opening, but through the path the dog has worn and over the wire fence he smashed down to about 18 inches. Deer in the distance hesitates and looks at Sam who hesitates and looks at me, trying to decide whether to obey me or the primal urge to track the animal. He decides to obey me but not wanting to give me too much pleasure in his behavior, he meanders around the field sniffing. Meanwhile I find THE PERFECT FIELDSTONE to add to my collection for that far distant day when I build a fieldstone retaining wall. It is almost past dusk now and I pick up the stone, call Sam and trundle back to the house, through the dog path and not quite over the wire fence.

Time slows as my body creates ever smaller acute angles with the ground. I have enough time to lift the field stone over my head so my face won't smash into it. Contact. Face buried in soft forest duff. Right hand resting on a rotting stump. Left hand awkwardly wrapped around the field stone. Ok. Take stock. I'm breathing. I can wiggle my toes. Boys are in house electronically engaged. Hubby is studying at the Boys Club. I will just lay here until they miss me. Sam comes over to check me out and starts nudging/licking my face. Better take action. Get up. Stumble into the house. Ron's eyes get big at his moaning, dirt covered mother whose shirt is ripped down the sleeve. He leads me to the bathroom to clean my wounds, gets me an ice pack and proceeds to fix supper. Rick covers me with blankets, brings me a glass of OJ and finds my book for me. Hubby gets home and, after ascertaining my injuries are not serious (severely strained left thumb and backache), inquires, "Help me understand. It is dark. You are carrying a heavy stone. You come up to the fence and stop. Lift one leg over and then the other leg over."

In small voice I answer, "Nooo I'm striding back to the house and totally forget about the fence."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Ron spent the weekend at a regional Campus Life high school event called "Go Mad 2004." He ran the first two words together every time he said it and I giggled to myself. Try it.

I just started subscribing to Better Homes and Gardens and the first issue I received had an article titled, "The Pie That Binds." No thank you.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Show Choir Fall Preview

Show Choir Fall Preview
Ricky made his debut last night, as did his cousin Caecilia, with a Gershwin medley. It was beautiful. The joy in Ricky’s face, a grin that wouldn’t stop and sparkling eyes, was evident to all based on comments after the performance. This happened in the 7th grade talent contest, when he sang acapello “Down in the River to Pray” from “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” and we locked eyes, the joy escalating between us until all else faded away and he was just singing to his Mama. I had to look away, afraid he would float off the stage – which of course would make him lose his place!

Morgan, his three-year-old cousin, sat behind us last night and her father told me that she pointed to Ricky on stage and then pointed to me several times. Then in the "meet and greet" time after the concert, Caleb, her 18 month old brother, became enamored of kissing my mom, his great-grandmother. With a serious little boy face, he leaned to her for a kiss about twenty times. My sister and I couldn’t stop laughing.

The highlight of Ricky’s night was the "meet and greet". Dressed in a white tux, it was a time when this freshman man-boy could hug and kiss all the pretty Show Choir girls in congratulations. When he got in the car to go home (after a mild argument “No, you cannot ride with the senior boys to the Mexican restaurant.”) he asked me, with a big grin, “Do I have lipstick on my face?”

Friday, November 12, 2004

Last Bouquet?

Latest Additions to Fall Bouquet
Yesterday I added a viola (purple and light yellow blooms) and another sprig of purple veronica to the dining room bouquet. These are the latest blooms; are they the last blooms?

Update on Ivy
As I spent five hours yesterday grubbing up the English ivy, I kept muttering about the fool who said, "Well begun is half done." Ha! That person never tried to clear a bed of forty years of ivy. I figure I have about five more hours to get the roots dug up.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Accident Update

Our Litigious Society
I had an accident last week and so far I've received four (!) letters from personal injury lawyers. One lawyer strongly recommended that I go to the doctor even if I did not have any evident injuries. One included a business card that looked like a credit card. One gave some good advice (reminder to file form with state) before soliciting my business. The one I received yesterday was from Indianapolis! No wonder Alan (my friend who pulled out in front of me) said he was so glad that if he had to cause an accident, he was so glad it was someone nice like me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Third Day

Yesterday I wondered what today would bring. I walked out onto the back deck just in time to see a great blue heron fly out of the pond with a six inch fish in his mouth. He flew through the woods, dodging trees, turned around in a clearing and flew over my head. Losing a game fish was a lot less traumatic for me than when a heron ate the prized pet kois from my friend's pond earlier this year.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes
Steve just called me outside to listen to the sandhill cranes as they regrouped in the woods behind the house. What an unusual call -- warbling? yodeling?

Last night - northern lights. Tonight - sandhill cranes. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?
We saw the aurora borealis last night, thanks to the heads-up phone call from my sister. As we were watching the dancing sky, I said, "Now all we need is a shooting star." Less than two minutes later, a huge star shot across the sky.

The first hard frost withered my garden last last. I kept picking what I thought was the last bouquet of the season. Last week was tansy, hyrdrangea and black-eyed susan. Yesterday, rosebuds, dark blue veronica, cosmos, foxglove and a large white fringed dahlia. The bittersweet in the woods is glowing so that will be what I gather next to bring the outside in.

Saturday both boys had all day classes. Ron went to a daylong Hapkido seminar taught by Master West and Ricky had a daylong show choir rehearsal with guest choreographers in preparation of the first show next weekend. Yesterday we cleaned out the shed and garage, preparing for winter. Ron brought down all the Christmas decorations from the attic (decorating the house for each season is his thing), but we wouldn't let him start decorating. That is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for our family.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day Accident
No, I didn't hit the wrong button. I double-checked. But voting was delayed from early morning until early afternoon.

The fog came in quickly this morning, too late for a school delay. So as I was running Ricky to the high school for early basketball practice, we drove by the middle school which is a voting site. The stream of cars in front of me all were turning right into the school but I was going straight. I slowed down as the car in front of me turned and then slammed on my brakes as someone pulled in front of me turning left. I had about ten feet to stop. I was not successful.

Check Rick. He's wide-eyed but fine. Call 911. Call Steve. Check other driver. It's Alan! I know him. A former co-worker and fellow Master Gardener. He's in severe pain, but gracious as usual. EMTs load him on back board and take him away. My prayers go with him, as he has a hip and back that occasionally require him to use a cane (although he's only in his 40s). Steve takes Rick to school. Tow truck comes and hauls away vehicles. Cops leave. Steve picks me up and takes me home. Iron pants and shirt for Steve and then clean the house.

A few minutes ago, Steve said you don't look so hot. Actually I feel like H-E-double toothpicks. (Radarism via Little A) So I'm off to bed. I'm a little sore. I called Alan this afternoon and he will be fine.

The other insurance company called this afternoon and suggested that I have my insurance company pay the damages and then subrogate the claim. ha! I was in the insurance business and I know better.