Sunday, May 31, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge: I'm in for Spring

PJ's photo blogging challenge is a link-up I've long stalked. And once I got a real-life, honest-to-goodness quality camera, I knew my time was approaching. So, here I am for my initial entry with five photos in a Spring theme. I hope you enjoy!

As anyone who reads this blog knows, peonies are my all-time favorites, even if, as Christine says, they need extra care not to fall head-first towards the dirt. Their beauty and fragrance make me forget about the time I take untangling their supports every year.

I planted nasturtium seeds for the first time this year, and they're gorgeous! I didn't even know they came in red. Nasturtiums always make me think of Sarah in Sarah, Plain and Tall. She wanted to plant fowers she was used to seeing in Maine, and I always remember her line, "nasturtiums, the color of the sun when it sets." Bonus, I eat the leaves!

I'm pulling up these tiny, optimistic maple trees from all our pots these days. It seems our maples shed more some years than others? Is there a pattern, or is it determined by weather?

As I was weeding around our vegetables recently, I discovered these volunteer tomato plants hoarding in on okra territory. I've never known a tomato to reseed, and it's not like we had a mild winter. I even ran my fingers along their stems to smell if they were genuine tomatoes. All I can imagine is that some abandoned, half-squirrel-chewed tomatoes had hardy seeds. We'll see what happens!

I don't think everyone thinks of chive flowers as the biggest prize, but I love how exuberant they are. Plus, I don't mind a bit if little fingers pick them for me.

Oh, this was fun!

Friday, May 29, 2015

TToT80: Piper tagged me.

I have a hard time hanging a hook in my house if it does not carry some significance. Now, mind you, I do on occasion--hang hooks and incorporate other items into our household; but mostly, the stuff in our house has history. It's meaningful because of where we acquired it or who gave it to us or who owned it before we did. So, naturally when Piper tagged me this Ten Things of Significance hop-de-dop, I was delighted. And it makes an excellent TToT.

So, what I did was wander our house with my camera during naptime today. I snapped photos (of mediocre quality, it turns out) of this and that and then winnowed the photos down to ten. Now these ten are probably not the top ten (I'm not sure I could isolate a top ten), but you know, I've showed off my Spindletop sweatshirt many a time before so that didn't make the cut today. And I've paraded treasures from my keepsake boxes so I didn't dig into those. These are the ones that popped out to me today.

1. Like Piper, I'm a fan of a collage. They're all over my house (I took pictures of three, but this is the only one to make it). Hard to photograph this stairwell, but that's all family photos...with a little sculpture and tile action worked in here and there. I walk past Brian's and my ancestors multiple times every day, and I like to think, am better for it.
Ugh, blurry! Sorry!

 2. I found these on the floor of the office. I love them. When the treads wear smooth, I buy a new pair, same color, and move the laces over. Generally, I hate wearing shoes, especially ones that require socks, but these, these are OK.

3. I don't keep every book I read anymore. I don't have enough tall wall space to hold all the books I read. So I keep the ones that are my friends. It's possible I'll never reread them, but their presence brings me pleasure. Here's K, L, and just a little M still on the floor of our bedroom. That ragged paperback is AWIT, of course. Thinking of building shelves...
I must have tremors. Sorry again.

4. My lovely friend Sereta made us this for a wedding present. No, she didn't go to the registry, she made something by hand that she knew I would love and use. And I do 'cause the basement is COLD. And a shout out to the old, green couch which is the best, most comfy couch ever in the whole world.
And, yes, that's a Nightrider tshirt. Pure class here.

5. My parents gave me this painting for my 30th birthday. It's of Prince Edward Island with its red dirt, and the gift is a little homage to my early love of Anne Shirley.

6. Barbarella. She's a fighter, she is. Someone (who knows) gave her to my family when my father's mother died. Barbarella survived some pretty harsh treatment in the back seat of a large, rented vehicle on the drive from TX to NC only to land in a location in our house that caused her to drop her leaves and grow tall (and need propping). Since we've moved to MD (because no way I'd part with her), she's actually put on a little more flesh, believe it or not. She's a fighter, she is.

7. My friend Anna made me this little vase-cup item. I like to keep tokens like this in use to keep those I hold dear in mind. Obvs, this one holds make-up stuffs. And I won't name names, but someone (not named Sarah, Brian, or Maggie) wrote on it with lip liner. I could wash it off but it sort of adds to its value, don't you think?

8. And this, this is my Squoosh. I don't want to think about how disgusting a feather pillow this old might be. I like to think about how perfectly it fits into my neck at night. It has its own set of pillowcases in daily rotation because I have terrible skin, and if I change my pillowcase daily, I get fewer pimples. This pillowcase is made from an old crib sheet. And don't say I might be getting pimples from Squoosh. I love her.

9. Blog readers, meet Ella Boogats (boo-gahts). She is two years younger than I am. You can call her Boogats.

10. Finally, these alphabet posters hang in my son's bedroom. My parents made them when my mother was a Kindergarten teacher in the late sixties. A few hung in the room I shared with my brother early on, and then I hung them in a classroom for a couple of years when I was a teacher. O, P, and Q are the best. Seriously, the quail queen's face!

So, according to Piper's rules (I think), I now nominate two other bloggers to find ten items in their houses to show off. I nominate Lisa (as aforementioned via the Facebook) and Dyanne because I want to know what early granny chic looks like.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015


They sat in the grass, in the dark, behind the hedge. Beyond was the revelry.
 I hate them all.
You don't have to for me.
 You're not missing anything.
 Except another chance to belong.

Friday, May 22, 2015

TToT79: On The Road

Did you know my phone had a hot spot? I didn't! Number One Thankful! I just linked my FTSF post to Kristi's How 'bout that?

We've escaped the traffuck that is Interstate 95 south of DC and are on our way south at a fairly steady clip now.

We are listening to my CD of Judy Collins singing Leonard Cohen covers. Oh, the sisters of mercy...
Leo's on a kick of announcing things he likes. For instance, seemingly out of the blue this week, he announced, "I like chocolate chips and lawnmowers." And later, "And yogurt pretzels."

Later he liked sunglasses. And then he told me that Hippo liked sunglasses. And sure enough, Hippo was wearing them.

So, in that theme, I will finish with seven more things I like:

4. I like my sister.
5. I like my sister's family,
6. I like children who nap in the car.
7. I like having an iPad on car trips.
8. I like that, by packing snacks, I've nullified the need to stop. HaHA!
9. I like clean hotel bathrooms.
10. And, in a case you're following, I like my peonies!

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Shopping with Milee

Once a month, Leo and I take our friend Milee to grocery store.

Milee is probably in her 80s. She wears blue eyeliner and has permed gray hair and beautifully manicured fingernails and toenails. She emphatically does not own a computer, and I doubt she ever will. I think she smokes cigarettes.

Milee has a tendency towards crotchety-ness at the grocery store. The overwhelming array of choices irritates her, and she does not appreciate the too-large portions of most frozen meals (her most common dinner, as far as I can tell). Like many elderly women, she has a small appetite and a thin frame. She tends to be suspicious of new food trends: I heard that almond milk is just regular milk with a different label. You wouldn't really put kale in a smoothie?!?!

Milee has a sweet tooth. She invariably buys a large piece chocolate cake and at least two packages of Klondike bars. But we share a disdain for too-sweet desserts and milk chocolate. She never fails to treat Leo to a donut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. She knows the way to a toddler's heart is through his stomach, and she scolds me when I worry about him--his diet, his weight, his (lack of) manners. She knows it will all turn right in the end.

Milee's had her share of grief. She's lost a husband and a son, and she's recovering from a broken hip. Her son and daughter-in-law are busy and even her grandchildren are grown. Taking her to the grocery store is a two-three hour event.

It takes scheduled effort for me to work up the energy to call Milee once a month to schedule this trip. I start pepping myself up for the shopping trip from the minute I wake up. It is not natural or easy for me to keep a running stream of superficial conversation with another person, especially in this case, when it's not just good manners but also my responsibility. When we come home, Leo is not the only one who needs a nap.

But I'm glad I do it and not just for the karma. The setting of the grocery store provides conversation fodder after all. She complains about the plethora of options, and I talk about my children's diets. We discuss what I should make for our next dinner guests, and she never fails to ask the next month whether the meal went well. I brought her a piece of the cranberry pie I made for my parents in December, and she gave me a box of chocolate. Sometimes we circle around deeper topics of conversation.

Slowly, gradually, I think we've become friends. No longer on unequal footing, we are simply two women with share life experiences while shopping together.

with hosts Kristi, Dawn, and Nicki

Friday, May 15, 2015

TToT78: A Whole Lotta Gratitude With a Side of Mustache

Yes, I am only at 78, but for the original TToTers, this is 100 weeks! Woohoo! And fortuitously, I am CHOCK-ful of gratitude this week and have an extra-long post in store for you!!!

1. There's a contest this week in honor of the anniversary! Go see Lizzi; she's got the deets. I am, probably as you read this, boxing up the prizes I will contribute to one lucky person! It could be you! Join us! Link up! Do it! This is a thankful because I am certain I will win one of those boxes.

2. Ramps, ramps, ramps, ramps, ramps! They may cost $5 for a quarter pound, but they're worth it. And for those who don't know, click here. We grill or saute them, though.

3. My favorites. Any day now. Stay tuned.

4. We spent a morning and some of an afternoon with cousins from Switzerland!

5. I'd just 'bout given up on my cucumber and melon seeds, but they haven't let me down. Finally, some action!

6.-7. I scored TWO pieces of second-hand furniture this week! One of them is, like, a real-life classy antique. The other will get painted.

8.-9. Well, this week, as I was driving out of our neighborhood, I wondered aloud to my children what that pink thing on my trunk was. What could it be? Then I forgot all about it until we reached my MIL's, and I couldn't find my phone (in its pink case). Remember the lost keys? Remember the panicked flapping? Cue Brian again: he calmly suggested we call the phone; the person who found my phone on the street in front of her house answered, and all was well. Thankful for Brian and the neighbor.

10. Dyanne pegged me as a sucker and tagged me in this mustache business. She hates to be rejected, and I would never reject her advances, so here goes:

Four names people call me other than my real name:
Mama/Mommy: the kids
Babe: the hubs
Sister/Sissy: various relatives
Ms./Mrs. Summerlin: hundreds of past students, but no one at present

Four jobs I've had:

Four movies I would/have watched more than once:
If were flipping channels and came across one of these, I'd stick around:
The Big Lebowski
Pat and Mike
Silence of the Lambs

Four books I would recommend:
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

Four places I have lived:
Port Arthur, TX
London, England
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Asheville, NC

Four places I have been:
the Himalayas
Wahpeton, IA
San Marino
the Guadalupe River

Four places I would rather be right now:
in a forest, alone
on a vacation in the mountains with family
at a Tex-Mex restaurant
on a road trip, alone

Four things I don't eat:
I will try almost anything you put in front of me. I don't care to retry:
wheat beer

Four of my favorite foods:
ice cream
steak, medium rare
stinky cheese

Four television shows I watch:
House of Cards (American)
Mad Men
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Pinot Noir!)

Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
Going to the Hoity-Toit with Kate and Beth
Eating tomatoes from my garden
Learning to quilt
Restocked Blue Bell

Four things I'm always saying:
I'm still here. Go back to bed.
You have a choice: ________ or time out.
Hey, Dude.
Love you, baby.

And now for the four I will tag whoever links up 1st, 7th, 11th, and 13th. Prime numbers, y'all!

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Friday, May 8, 2015

TToT77: Oh yeah, with summer comes the HEAT

It's hot! I am hot here on the second floor of our Cape Cod house, directly under our hot roof.  But I am resisting the lure of the AC for a bit longer. Downstairs is manageable and the basement is always several degrees cooler. I am resisting.

I don't like to be hot. When I was a young child, I used to cry on the way to the car, anticipating the sweltering atmosphere and the burning vinyl seats. My parents would give me pep talks on the way to no avail. And as they say, what goes around...

I'm the peppy one now. I uselessly yammer on about open windows and air conditioning, but I'm afraid my car must have a slow freon leak. I'm the only one with any pep, and I'm regretting this haircut that's too short for a ponytail.

But on we go...

There have been bitter pills and spoonfuls of sugar to swallow this week. Not entirely sure the latter is making the former go down, but I'll still voice my gratitude along with my gratitudinous compatriots.

This week I am thankful for plant nurseries and farmer's markets and yard sales. I am thankful for cool, loose dresses and sandals and even that very slight burn I just noticed on my shoulder (don't scold, Jen) because summer!

I am thankful for a daughter who knows that she is brave and that being scared is the first step towards being brave. I am thankful for rare but powerful bursts of confidence and her surprisingly mature cooperation when faced with a new, limited diet. I am thankful that I know that potential labels will not change the charming girl with the dancing eyes.

I am thankful for a son who let me give him a cuddle after he rug-burned his already scraped elbow and who spoke with charming misunderstanding when he cried, "Not healing fast enough!" I am thankful for his strong will that I can't bring myself to curb into perfect social acceptability because you gotta hold on to a little, irrational kernel of yourself under society's demands.

I am thankful for a husband who does not make big decisions rashly or without thorough research. At least that's one of us. He's a good man, and thorough.

And I am thankful for treats in the mail. I got two pieces of tangible friendship in the mail this week, and they could have made up my whole ten, but I have this remarkable family, too, you see.

Are you thankful? Come join in!

Oh, and come back again next week for the fun and frivolity of the TToT's 100th anniversary! Cake! Prizes! Water balloons! (maybe)

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Let's just say someone I know and love was offered a job yesterday. He (or she?) doesn't need a job, already has a good one where he's valued. But this was an interesting opportunity to pursue and so pursue it, he did.

Now he's in the difficult but enviable position of having to make a huge decision between two very good options. I won't dwell there for the sake of anyone who is job hunting. It's like to saying to a lonely, single person, I just can't decide between these two suitors who I love and who love me! My life is so hard!

I might or might not have sat out in the pleasant spring dark last night talking this over, my feet up on the arm his chair, occasionally waving at the after-dark dog walkers. A night like last night called for a cigarette (for him, not me), and I positioned myself upwind and swallowed my criticism.

He said, Why do they want me?

He was once cocky. Once he thought that he was invincible because he was good at his job. Now, he's still good at his job and is told so clearly and often. But he still doesn't feel secure.

This is bullying, three years later. Fuck them.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

TTOT76: Retrace Your Steps

I've been going through one of those times at late when I've been losing just about everything not firmly attached to my body. And I must even be scattering bits and pieces of my brain around town because those bits and pieces seem to be missing.

Nearly two weeks ago I walked out to our garage with my keys and the little mini-wallet attached to unlock our garage (to clean up the broken glass you may recall from last week). I set down my keys (little mini-wallet attached) somewhere that I vaguely recall being an unusual place while thinking, "This is an odd place. Don't forget this is where you put your keys."

I forgot.

I have torn our garage and house apart. Brian has torn our garage and house apart. The keys and mini-wallet are gone. GONE, I tell you.

They've up and vanished like a fart in the wind (name the movie).

I lost my:
  • keys
  • driver's license
  • two credit cards
  • Costco card
  • two Metro cards
  • library card
  • YMCA card
  • Giant card (OK, now I'm getting melodramatic)
We've all done this at one time or another. We all know what an enormous pain the anus this is. So, on to the bright and sunny side:

1. I still have a spare car key. Wait, I had one. The point is, I didn't have to buy a car key.
2. I had and still have multiple spare house keys. Thanks to Brian, key hoarder extraordinaire.
3. The credit card company overnight-shipped us new copies of our cards for free! Got 'em the day after I called the items officially lost. Pure heart, those credit card companies.
4. I only got my credit card denied once (and only in front of one friend) when I traveled immediately after getting my new cards and caused the credit card fraud department to freak the eff out.
5. There were no fraudulent charges, which supports the theory that the cards are indeed hidden somewhere in our house or yard (perhaps deep within a flower bed? I did a lot of gardening that morning) and will turn up someday when we least expect them to (and then I'll have a spare key again).

And, then, bum, bum, bum...

9. You can request a new copy of your DL ONLINE where I live!!!!!!!!!!

That is, if you know your DL#. Who knows his/her DL#?!?!?! I mean, I did once when I had extra room in my brain for such matters, but that was a decade or two ago and an entirely different, shorter number without hyphens and letters built in.

10. I have a Brian, who instead of flapping his arms and crying at the prospect of sitting at the MVA for hours and hours, calmly found our life insurance policies and read off my DL# from the application form.


So I wrote all that Thursday night, bursting with pride over my proactivity considering the party I was hosting Friday night. I mean, I hadn't come up with 6, 7, or 8, but I thought I'd sit on those awhile to see if something brewed.

As I vacuumed the house on Friday morning, moving towards the living room toybox I thought, "It's been awhile since I pulled that out from the wall."

Lo and behold:

Please spare me the comments on Brian's and my lackluster tracking work since this was a wholly obvious place for us to have looked nearly two weeks ago. Let's just celebrate my two car keys and two driver's licenses, shall we?

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