Thursday, January 26, 2006

Packing Light

I pulled my summer clothes from the hinterlands of my closet and packed them in an undersized carry-on bag with room leftover. No need to pack long underwear, multiple layers, wool socks, bulky jackets, fleece hats, gloves, boots and all that other winter gear. The low in Florida is 15 degrees higher than the high in Indiana...and we are having a heat wave in Indiana.

All that's left to do is to print my boarding pass, pack up my toiletries in the morning and drive 3 hours to the airport. Oh, and shave my legs. I'm not so diligent in the winter when my legs don't see the light of day.

I'm leaving my car at my niece's house, which is convenient but also an excuse to visit my newest (until Jennifer's baby in April) great-niece, Sofia, born in October.

Then it's off to Florida to spend Friday evening through Monday morning with my girlfriend. Her husband is out of town, so we plan on talking, walking the beach, talking, talking some more. I'm not sure what Judy has planned, but there will be no hectic schedule.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Come summer, we'll be on the river

Here's our river boat and look closely at the seond picture for a typical river sight. Yes, the boat is one of a kind and people do stop on the iron bridge to stare when we come round the river bend.

My Office in Winter

Here's my office in December. The Garden Shed is one of the original structures.

Morning Madness

Whew! The boys finally left. Late night call telling us Ricky needs to bring his show choir outfit (do boys have outfits? Ok, costume or perhaps tux) to school today. He couldn't find it this morning. He couldn't even find his travel bag. "They are at school," he insisted, but still tore apart his closet trying to find it, so he wasn't too confident about this assertion. He finds two black shoes, both right feet. Finally, he finds a left shoe under his bed and one dress sock. I find the other dress sock in my Single Sock Basket in the laundry room.

Ron asks for money for his lunch account and I write the check, totally forgetting that we told him no more lunch money. A few weeks ago, school called to inform us the boys were spending $10 to $15 a day for lunch, probably treating others at their table. They sent us a print-out of what they bought everyday; a typical day included 4 slices of pizzas, 2 large salads, 2 cans of pop (yes, I'm a Midwesterner.), 2 large cookies, and nachos and cheese or perhaps 2 lunches plus the other junk. So when Steve asked him for the check, an uproar from both boys insisting they did not abuse their lunch money. We gave Ron $5 and he decided to pack his lunch. Two ham sandwiches and an apple are sitting on the table.

I totally expect several calls from them this morning asking that I run things to school, despite the fact that my day is already full.

In the middle of this, I plucked the confirmation for my weekend jaunt to Florida off the fridge and transported myself south. Just three more days until my break! Poor hubby.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One Dog Night

Sam, our yellow lab, our watchdog, our constant companion, our big gelunk of canine, was put on medicine this week for low thyroid. Part of the symptoms are weight gain and excessive hair loss. He's already looking thinner, and after I swept this morning, I'm hoping that is the last time I sweep up bushels of hair.

At the vet, Sam weighed 98 pounds. Ricky weighs 118 pounds. As we headed to bed last night, we couldn't find the dog. We checked every room in the house and he was missing. We checked the boys' rooms again and Ricky's lump of blankets looked odd. Steve went over and patted the lump and sensed a tail wagging under the blankets. Rick wrapped the dog in blankets with only his nose showing and the dog was laying on top of Rick. We unwrapped the dog and got him off the bed...and Ricky never woke up.

First Snow of 2006

When I went to bed last night, 2 inches of snow covered the ground and it accumulated to 4 inches this morning. Because of the rain, then the snow and then the freezing weather, roads are slippery and school is delayed for two hours. I'm letting the boys sleep in for one hour and then they can use the other "extra" hour to study for their final exams today. But right now the house is quiet.

I'm meeting the other gardener at the Gene Stratton-Porter (she hyphenated her name on her marriage certificate about 100 years ago) historic site to decide what plants and seeds we order for the garden this year. There are only a few things I'd rather do on a snowy day (that don't involve my husband.) I did a master plan and am overwhelmed by the amount of work needed. I'm definitely creating a volunteer program. We need some specialized expertise in the garden -- for the roses, the water feature, the wisteria, and even design. I'm still struggling with how to balance the formal layout of the garden with the numerous beds. How should I plant it so that the overall design is discernible, but let each bed stand by itself? How should I plant it to draw visitors into the garden (they tend to stay in the arbor) with a sense of mystery and discovery? How do I keep it historically accurate, but still use today's improved cultivars?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

First Flower of 2006

Poor pathetic thing. It looked so bright and cheerful in the back lawn, but it really is kind of scraggly.

The Fours

Hey, I've done the Thursday Three on occasion, but I've been tagged by Jordana for the Fours. I couldn't respond to two questions, because I'm truly not interested in popular culture. It is difficult to say you don't watch TV without sounding superior. I'm not superior, just different because I've learned to make choices best for me.

Four Jobs I've Had:

1. Historic Garden Director (This is not my official job title, but it is the title my boss uses for me. I started last fall and I love it.)
2. Marketing Director
3. Reinsurance Account Executive
4. Product Manager
And in 1995 I started my most important and hardest job - Mom.

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:

We tried to remember the other night the last time I watched a movie! I was a movie freak in my younger days but am just not tempted now. Even when we rent a movie, I'll curl up with a good book (or go online.)

Four Places I've Lived:

This is so boring: Indiana, Indiana, Indiana and Indiana...and in only two counties! When I was young, I thought I would move around the states and the world, but that didn't happen. And I take it back, it's not boring. I love my life here.

Four T.V. Shows I Watch:

1. Antiques Road Show every other month or so
See response to movies. I'd rather read. So I'm changing this question to Four Books I Read Over and Over Again. Hey it's my blog and I can do what I want!
1. Anything by Nelson DeMille
2. Country Year by Sue Hubbell
3. Giants in the Earth by Rolvaag
4. Bible

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:

1. My parents' house in Arkansas was our vacation destination for 20 years
2. Oregon (I love it)
3. At least twice a year, we go to Lake Superior.
4. I took a three week train trip across the northern plains, down the Pacific coast and home through the central plains, stopping in Montana, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Bernadino, Needles, and Denver to visit family and friend.

And best of all, in two weeks I'll be in Tampa Bay visiting my girlfriend over a long weekend.

Four Websites I Visit Daily:

1. Chris at The Big Yellow House
2. Jordana at Curmudgeonry
3. Elizabeth at Motherhood is not for Wimps
4. Waiter Rant
And because I have seven unused answers from popular culture (movies and TV):
5. The Food Whore
6. Tales From my Tiny Kingdom
7. Lucy's Island
8. Althouse
9. The Other Side of the Ocean
10. Seraphic Secrets
11. Instapundit

Four Favorite Foods:

1. Homemade Bread
2. Mom's Chicken Salad
3. Fruit
4. Coffee
(I could have used my 7 extra answers here also!)

Four Places I'd Like to Be Right Now:

1. Cross-country skiing
2. Touring some great gardens in the world
3. Scotland (I like that answer, Jordana)
4. I'm pretty comfy right where I am.

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:

1. Lucy
2. Mom to the Screaming Masses (and I read this one daily also)
3. Full Fathom Five (and this one too)
4. Anyone who wants to join in

Thursday, January 12, 2006

In the Woods

I took Jordana's suggestion to my last post and went outside this afternoon. I spent several hours making a dent in the garlic mustard. I've heard if you pull every last plant out by its roots, it will only take seven years to rid a woods of garlic mustard. I posted six times in 2004 about garlic mustard and 3 times in 2005. Does that mean I can only post 1.5 times in 2006? If so, this is my half post.


During the last twelve hours, my computer malfunctioned, I had emergency root canal, and the school put us on alert for the boys' grades. I'd go back to bed if the sun wasn't shining for the first time in weeks.

Dinner, y'all?

Or would they call it supper in the South?

There is not an ounce of southern blood in me, in my husband or even in my adopted boys. We live at 41 degrees and 14 minutes. My mother was born and raised at 41 degrees 19 minutes. Dad was born at 43 degrees 13 minutes and raised just north of the 40th parallel. Steve's parents were born and raised at 41 degrees.

But we enjoyed this dinner last night: BBQ country-style ribs, spoon bread, and spinach (greens).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tried and True

Last week hubby asked me if I wanted to ride to Grabill to buy some corn for our corn burner. (I love the corn burner. Check out how beautiful the fire is in the photo and, according to the propane delivery guy, we are using 1/3 of the the gas.) The feedmill is not my idea of a hot date, but spending time with my hubby is always enjoyable. After picking up a half ton of corn, in 50# bags, to my shock and delight he suggested we go through the antique mall.

Now I'm a kitchen gadget addict. These gadgets lure me with promises of quick, easy or pretty food, and then languish in my drawer. Declutter my closets? No problem. Clean out the garage? Take it away. Touch my kitchen drawers? Over my dead body.

So it wasn't surprising that I spent time looking at the antique kitchen gadgets. I was just appalled, though, to find them selling as antiques kitchen tools I'm still using, specifically my flour sifter that I use to sift powdered sugar and my potato masher that I prefer to anything electronic because it leaves nice little lumps and the skins don't get caught up in blades.

There are, however, newer gadgets in my drawers waiting for their glory days when it is the only thing that will work, such as the crinkled carrot cutter, the baked apple dishes, the donut cutter complete with hole, and the little round sandwich crimper from Pampered Chef. I think I've used each one only once.

The microplaner, though, is a new gadget that I adore. It adds zest and spice to my life.

Annoying and Anonymous

Notice to those readers who love Faulkner and may have been annoyed by my post about As I Lay Dying, I did not mean to annoy you and please do not sue me. I feel this is protected speech under the First Amendment, even though Earth Girl is a pseudonym. In case you do not know why I'm writing this post, check out the latest gem embedded in recent legislation.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

As I Lay Dying

I avoided reading Faulkner for many years. I'm not sure why, just that I had a sense that his writing was difficult to read. But reading books that I might not otherwise read is one reason I enjoy my book club so much.

This month's book is As I Lay Dying. I read it almost in one sitting. It was compelling. Compelling like watching a train wreck.

His style is not difficult to read. In fact, he writes beautifully. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre--now that was some difficult reading.

Architect Louis Henri Sullivan said, "Form ever follows function." This doesn't mean that function is more important than form, but as Frank Lloyd Wright said (although he didn't practice it), "form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." Applying that to As I Lay Dying, the form (writing) is beautiful but the function (plot and characters) is repulsive.

When I finished the book, I was desolate. I don't need happy endings in a book, but I do need a sense of hope.

The woman (PhD in English) who is leading the discussion of this book has asked me twice about the humor in the book. I just didn't see any humor as I read the book nor as I think about it. She suggested that setting Cash's leg in cement was both tragic and humorous. I thought it was only tragic. It was stupid and harmful. This is a crippled family and all of Faulkner's beautiful words did not change that underlying sense of hopelessness I felt. And I can't think of anything I "learned" because of reading this book. I already know that there are crippled people in this world; I am not tempted to set legs in concrete; I know to bury a dead body before the vultures track it; you don't cross a raging flooded river; a father doesn't steal (horses and money) from his children; you don't beat children so you can feel; and a promise to a dying loved one should be tempered by the reality of those who live.

About the only "example of language that you think is particularly poignant, or beautiful, or philosophically perspicacious," as we've been asked to note, is Cash's thoughts about Darl:
"Sometimes I aint so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It's like it ain't so much what a fellow does, but it's the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it."
Oh, and Darl's drinking stars out of the gourd at night created an especially beautiful word picture.

So am I missing the boat on this book? Should I try another Faulkner book? Are all his books desolate and repulsive?

UPDATE: Here is review of the book. I'm not sure I agree with the reasoning, although it gives me some things to ponder, such as the implied relativism of the form of the narrative. However, perhaps the conclusion, that it is not only bad but evil, would explain my sense of desolation after I finished the story.

Monday, January 02, 2006

What I learned last year

From Barbara Johnson's book, Laughter from Heaven, a gift from one of our second grade Sunday School students:

I learned two things last year:
1. There is a God.
2. I am not God.

Christmas Presents

Given the teenageness of my sons, I wasn't too excited about buying them a lot of Christmas presents. A piece of coal and a stick seemed just about right. Of course, their desires were of the expensive electronic variety: PCs, ipods, cell phones, games.

Hubby and I finally faced shopping for them the Wednesday before Christmas. We reminisced about their younger days as we strolled through the toy aisles and decided it was much easier to buy for an 8-year-old than a 16-year-old.

We bought mostly functional items, exciting items such as underwear, grooming products (AXE, yuck, but the boys douse themselves with it), new sunglasses to drive in winter's glare, umbrellas so they can stand at the bus stop (yeah, we're too mean to let them drive to school and too lazy to drive them to school every morning), battery operated toothbrushes (an impulse buy), and electric shavers . They have razors but they wanted to try shavers. Oh, and a pro-sized football and a new skateboard.

On Christmas morning they found that Santa did indeed stuff their stockings and set wrapped presents under the tree. They emptied their stockings before breakfast and then we went to church before they opened their presents. They are such cool kids. Each present was greeted with enthusiasm (even the boxer briefs) and thank yous. There were no complaints about the lack of electronics, but they took pleasure in what they received.

So the next day I ordered a Dell computer powerful enough to run their games.

College Days

Overhead at Christmas Eve services: Pastor's wife asks my niece, who attends Purdue University, how school is going. Niece responds, "I'm having fun."

My sister-in-law was aghast, but that would have been my response also at age 19.