Friday, December 21, 2012

'tis the season indeed!

hello, wanderers!

We did some dashing through the snow tonight, dropping off wine and Christmas cards for friends and neighbors. The kids are tossing and turning in bed, and I am considering the Big Event next week. Christmas cards finally in the mail today, and everything!!

Jon and I have done little of our holiday preparations 'together', except the tree and the house decor. So, tonight was a great prelude for tomorrow night's wine-swilling-present-wrapping 'extravaganza.' We have one kid with the sniffles, one fighting a fever of 102, and some serious baking, cooking, and gingerbread-house construction still to come. Sounds like....quite the weekend, doesn't it?

Most people I've been speaking with have been trying extra hard to 'find' their Christmas Spirit this year. We saw the Nutcracker Ballet (absolutely Brilliant!), went to the Christmas concert at our church (it's a big ol' church. and the music was Sublime!!!) and set up the house. Seriously, it sounds laughably simple, but up until tonight when I was actually hugging and shaking hands with our friends, I have only had a, thin, thin sense of the holiday. Buying gifts for people Almost got me there. It usually only takes a peppermint mocha to hear my own chorus of 'Jingle Bells'. My kids excitement does help a bit, too. But between the snow drought we lived through up until a few weeks ago, and the angst we have all been trying to either work with or slough off, my spirit has really struggled, and I don't think I am alone.

Christmas can be an almost mystical event, for some. My father and his wife have more of a secular approach. My in-laws are enthusiastic and joyful when we get together Christmas eve.  I've loved decorating the tree with both religious and whimsical ornaments, and I do some good toe-tapping to the 'Jackson Five' Christmas Album. I played the Celtic Woman Christmas album last night, and that has helped pull it 'together' a bit more. When the music inspires you toward more of a 'giving' heart, that seems to put me on track. Isn't that the whole point of St. Nicholas, after all?

Tomorrow, my mother-in-law, my daughter and I (and maybe I will get lucky and my mom will come with?) are going to a Christmas 'recreation' at Murphy's Landing. I am excited to see what the earlier settlers did to make the holiday special, on a limited means. Normally, my husband and I budget away and save throughout the year for Christmas. This year, caution and planning went....completely awry, so I am thinking that a solid lesson in 'pre-commercial Christmas' is timely indeed!!

It's so much more fun to be generous at Christmas. It's so much more fun to have lists and budgets prepared, and know what you can do to make someone smile, and have it wrapped and at hand by Christmas Eve. Frankly, that's a luxury few can afford - it takes, what, one car repair? One unforeseen medical bill? One freak natural occurance - that can burn through that holiday budget. And the best, tightest planning might not be enough. Does that - Should that - diminish Christmas?

I hope not. I hope that if life is handing people lemons, they have a killer recipe for lemonaid in their back pocket (or a handy bottle of tequila and some salt!!). I hope that families facing horrible financial luck, or repeated strikeouts in the job market can still see Christmas. For family facing grief and loss, I hope they can face it hand in hand, and don't have to cope with it alone.  Christmas 'promise' can feel like a burden, if it's the wrong promise.

But if we carry the message of hope, of redemption, Christmas can bring strength. My first Christmas without my brother is something....I can't even remember. I don't know how I spent it, but I doubt I would have made it without friends and family. Looking back, that's the greatest gift I could have been given at the time. It didn't make the pain worthwhile, but it made it easier to carry. Looking at my life now, with the terrible emptiness I fought against, my sense of blessing, my sense of hope, has more ground.

I wish that for everyone.

My ice candles (a Martha Stewart project, if you must know) made it, more or less. I'll try to post one 'good' picture of their light, before the big day. And if you wander by, I hope their light brings a small spark to you, of what the holiday can be about. And.....if the picture totally sucks, and they look, erm, um.....cheesy, may you have a huge laugh at my expense. :-)

happy Christmas!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012


If you are like me, you have spent the weekend in various states of discomfort.

You've wept at the news, or maybe dove straight into facebook arguements - probably with complete strangers. You've shed tears at the sound of 'Silent Night', or just been consumed by unease.

I can't imagine facing this type of tragedy without hitting the above notes, although I do know there are scads of people better at handling grief and pain. I am certainly not proud of my soapbox-jumping, although I give myself points for honest passion, rather than a dispassionate consideration. No real reason for that stance. Maybe I am trying to check my honesty?

I cannot type further without laying at least one thought out, to whomever may read this - i haven't the years, or wisdom, or eloquence, to write about what happened.

I can write about reaction.  I can write about intentions.

I want to be comforted so badly right now.  Being a believer, I want to feel the Divine hand on my shoulder, reminding me that we won't walk through this alone. Also being a believer, I have Not Yet stopped with the eternal 'Why'. That's my spiritual side.

My inner child is going about this a little differently. She wants her warm cozy slippers, her glass of ice-cold baileys irish cream, an ice-water chaser, and the cozy blanket. She wants her husband's shoulder to cry on, a ride in a carriage through the sparkly park in St. Paul behind a pristine white pony, driven by a smiley guy in a top hat who doesn't smell even a little teensy bit like rum. The horse, by the way - obviously - doesn't smell either. And the snow is falling, there are no homeless people screwing up her little escape, and no one in Minnesota is wearing wet cold shoes tonight. My inner child wants to curl up in a ball and nap all afternoon tomorrow until she stops feeling blue.

Clearly, no one has told my inner child that tomorrow is Monday.

But you know what? My inner child is the one that can Demand that we don't treat it like a Monday. My inner child is often the one that gets my a$$ in gear to make the day just an itty bitty bit better. For someone. And while the gameplan would be that my husband, kids, mother, and even pets are the first people that I step it up for, I want the attitude to go with me everywhere. I want to remember this at the intersection, on the road, and in the waiting room at the dr. office. I want to remember to treat everyone - even at the gas station - like it's a holiday For Them. I might annoy people (er, ok, that's probably not a might. It's probably a Fact.) but I am hoping that I will mostly be extending - genuine - courtesy and kindness.

Courtesy and kindness, here in the midwest, changes nothing for any family connected to the tragedy. Courtesy and kindness don't make one minute of grief go away. They don't pay a hospital bill, they don't erase a cold and hideous truth. But the time we have on earth together is the only time we are guaranteed. And I can guarantee that this wallowing in discomfort may have a long-term good - change is usually uncomfortable, and a whole lot of people feel the need for something in our world to change. But I also think that living with courtesy and genuine concern for those we touch is not minor. Somedays it can change the whole picture. Not every day. But I do know the Opposite - rudeness, sarcasm, self-interest - can turn a good day pretty flat for me. And it's happened to me on days that were already really, really bad.

It's quite the opposite of comfort.

I'm going to treat my spoiled inner child right tonight. I'm going to get my ice-water chaser for my Bailey's, make coffee for the morning, and tidy the kitchen. Then I'm going to sleep - a little more easily - with at least one gameplan for tomorrow. Even if I screw up other things, forget to make a phone call, miss the post office stop, I resolve to do it - at the very least - with courtesy.

And kindness.

Goodnight :-)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mood Swings

The current mood is fluttering more erratically than usual - no help for it, time to explore it.

I have several events coalescing this month, some expected, some.... a bit less so. The upshot is that normal mechanisms (whining to friends, making moody art, grumping around silently) don't apply - this is December! Even if I felt being grumpy was productive (it's not) or entertaining (it isn't. Much.) there isn't any time for it. So, I have some moods, images, and art moments that are intersecting oddly - creative reflexes that don't, say, get the house cleaned. Or put dinner on the table. But, make me feel absurdly better just the same.

At left, the latest - admittedly simplistic project. A somewhat early shot of the sky at sun-up, through my garlanded window. Snowflakes of pearly vellum (the wasted, expensive vellum left over from screwing up the invites for Siena's party) hung from a wide burlap ribbon, with pinecones sprinkled with blue/green/white iridescent glitter. Hung with sheer white organza ribbon. No, I didn't get this from pinterest (am I pinning it? You damn betcha!) I came up with it all by myself. It needs some tweaking though, so I don't expect it to hit the hot one hundred pins or so :-)

What else has been percolating, you ask?

(ok, that resounding silence is a bit much. Even for me, the Queen of Awkward Moments. Just play along, okay?)

Right now I am musing on owls, monks, and the excellence of Sean Connery in both "the Name of the Rose" and "The Hunt for Red October". I've read them both excessively. Just ask me to explain how the Politovskiy sank. I'll even diagram the butterfly valve that fouled the reactive system and caused the cold-water accident ;-) I am currently sipping port, peeking at the first mentioned movie, and thinking I need the soundtrack! I tend towards more serious religious contemplation this time of year anyway (have I mentioned I am Catholic?), but even for me, the monk musings are ramping up. I am still intrigued by "Into Great Silence", and this fiction by Eco (t.N.O.T.R.) seems just as strong to me as it was when released (a very long time ago).

Owls? I found myself promising to paint some for my son - but the 'why' is still mysterious. Maybe my inspirations and his are just coming together right now. He checked out a book from school on snowy owls and perhaps that was the tipping point. I also am on a major 'white craze'. Our home has a lot of deeper beige tones that white looks so pretty against. So, I experimented with a Real pinterest project - trying to make sheet-music printed candles. Inspired by Pottery Barn (and therefore, not in my budget). See that little candle? Right to the left of the nest? I did that. What I will say about the process is that printing sheet music onto tissue paper took a very, very long time. Mainly because I kept screwing it up.

Clamor enough in the comments and I will share the step-by-step. Next post, in fact. I did not make the cute little nest. My mother found that and it looks as adorable as it does cozy!

There are a few people who were not too pleased with winter storm Ceasar. I have nothing but gratitude - something you can only say if you didn't get into a car accident this past weekend!! I was in such a funk for the last two days, but I think I am now ready to finish christmasing-up the house, my mood, and our day-to-day.

I hope you aren't fighting the holiday blah's - or blues. They tend to sting like a bastard this time of year, and if I can succumb a little, there are folks that aren't as fortunate, and they can use a boost.

I am trying to remember that - when I am impatient at the grocery store, when I am listening to exhausted sounding complaints, when people are stressed-out and barking demands. There has to be a way to turn things around, even slightly, with kindness. Time to hit the hay myself, to gear up to share some - liberally, and as needed - tomorrow. Whether my mood is ready, or not.

Have a lovely weekend!!!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Goodness, it's been a while...

Well, snow is finally flying around the Orchid House, the kids are sleeping - hell, the entire HOUSE is sleeping, save me and the .....hmm.

Looks like the cats are out too.

There's a lot of backstory to my lull in posting here.

I don't care to drag out the details, so we will sum up.

Got your coffee now? Maybe tea? :-)

Back in July, we were coming to terms with the loss of my dear cousin Tina. That really is something we are not at terms with, so we concentrate on the hurt she is no longer in. It doesn't make things better, but it helps me make sense, I guess....

We were also experiencing major problems working with the builder of our home, as cracks kept erupting in our basement walls, doors and windows were sticking, and the house seemed to be having trouble...coping.
Realizing we were inflicting a no-yard,  no-fun summer on the kids, we scrapped our plans to take them out west for fossil-hunting (those pesky wildfires - from our standpoint. For those affected, think 'blazing infernoes from hell') and went to Chicago. We stayed three days (tall ships, Shedd Aquarium, the Natural History Museum, the tower, you know, tourist traps) and then went to Wisconsin Dells for some more kid-friendly fun. Upon our return, grass was finally in the back yard and watered long enough to actually play on, and we approached the builder about the cracking basement. And garage floor. And driveway. And paid the water bill.

Fast-forward to September, with core-fills throughout the entire basement that didn't stop any movement in the walls, and a new finish-the-basement scheme we hatched, so that my mother could move in with us. By the end of September, we had EIGHT pilings driven TWENTY-EIGHT FEET under our house, to keep it from tipping into the front yard any further. New sod to water Again (hello, new Giant Water Bill) And our own version of 'basement crashers' as we finished the basement - from framing to plumbing, electricity, drywall, flooring, tiling, paint, and trim - in three weeks.

My daughter had a tonsil surgery in there, somewhere. And, to keep my weeks interesting (or something. Maybe I've just never been able to resist a genuine plea for help that involves my children) I am now - lord help me - volunteering twice a week with a classroom reading program, and Once each month to present an artist to 4 sections in one grade.

Since we've clearly segued straight to the pathetic pity party zone - I am going to point out that this whole thing has gone on it's way with NO SNOW until two days ago. I am CERTAIN i am in the minority on this one, but I have a horrible time focusing and functioning when the seasons do NOT do what they are supposed to. I am adrift, people, and it makes me (and thereby those around me) NUTS.


So, let's leave that pity party in the past, shall we? (Good, it wasn't much fun for me either. But I feel better now. Oh, LOok, SNOW!)

Friday night, we endured the usual crappy traffic that comes with heavy wet snow, and went to see the Twin Cities Ballet's lovely production of "The Nutcracker". (That wasn't the Royal We, this post - my brave mother, and my 5 yr. old Siena were on board.) Speaking of parties, Siena finally got to have a buddy party at our house for her birthday (our townhome was WAYY too small for such things), and she asked for a 'nutcracker' theme.  For the invites,  I used a vintage-looking nutcracker scrapbook-page for the card back, then printed the details on vellum (carefully, what a pain in the neck!). Each card was different, and I threaded a sheer pink ribbon through a hole punch on each, and tied the ribbon to a pine sprig and a peppermint stick. I should have thought that through further, as each candy cane was smashed to bits by the post office! I heard they smelled nice, anyway!!

Yesterday, we went Christmas tree hunting in the scant snow, found a nice looking frazier fir, went grocery shopping (food for today) and picked up chinese food (for that night). The kids got most of the tree decorated for me, all I have left today is hanging icicles and a few round colored ornaments left.  I am dressing up the house today too. Remember me mentioning the vellum printing was a pain? I saved the screwed up, pearlized, invitation sheets and cut them into snowflakes (taking advantage of that 'crafty-printed-word ' look). I am going to hang them with pinecones over the bathroom window (still no curtain. Thank goodness it's a high window!!) The rest of the day is for snowballs, making soup, and baking more cookies.

And for counting some serious blessings.

A fixed house, one that has room to take others in.

Healthy children

A yard to play in

Time with family and friends

And a snow day, where we have to stay home. Together.

I hope your day has even more blessings than mine. Thanks so much for stopping by :-)

(Now, go play in the snow....)


Friday, July 13, 2012


There are people who Major in eloquence. Their outgrown bedroom slippers shine with it, they quip the way I snore (effortlessly and with Great Abandon) and they can talk their way out of ...of....a polar bear's jaws, I imagine.

And, then, there are people like me, who majored in 'foot in mouth disease' in college.

(Or was that just co-authoring 'Verbal Mortification for Dummies'?)

Eloquence is what I could use right now.

My dear young cousin Tina struggled against her failing health...until she really didn't have much left to work with. And then her spirit flew free.


There are many ways to write about loss, but this loss isn't mine to write about. I have gratitude for the care she received in her final weeks, but the pain she lived with for the last three years is nothing you can address in a quip, or epigram.

She was blessed with dear friends, a fiercely devoted mother,  a loving brother with a wonderful family, and a a large extended family, and I think all of us are feeling pretty flattened. Long-term illness can wear at people, even when they aren't the actual victim. does it demolish the will of the ill?

I sent sunflowers, for her, and as a tribute from all her cousins who share her generation. Recognizing genuine good, and joy, is hard from this vantage point. Some of Tina's family - as many as could come - shared her final three days in the hospital. Not because they are heroically selfless people, but because they are family - and wanted to help carry the burden of sadness for awhile.


There are days when we question 'why'. Why are we here?

Carrying the burdens makes the joyous times so much sweeter - maybe that is part of it.

This post, on review, is clumsy, half-articulate, and....lacking, I suppose. On the other hand, that pretty much sums up how I feel.

That, and rather flattened.

But I leave you with this - that when (not if) this road is what you walk, I wish that your friends and family - and maybe even complete strangers - show up when you need them. Even if you think you don't.

And they do what we did.

We tried to help carry the burden.


Friday, July 6, 2012


good morning, to you who are there :-)

most people tend to be a little out of touch around the fourth. I am wayyyyy more out of touch than usual - and it would almost be fun to say something like I am 'focusing on myself' or...redecorating the couch, or some damned thing.

i have instead been more than a bit caught up in my cousin's health struggles. She is a dialysis patient who has had horrific health problems, that have gone un-addressed for far too long. So, Mayo Clinic - St. Mary's - is doing their best to shore up her health and restore her.

She is terribly fragile, but has been terrifically strong. The praying knees are out in force, because it's healthier for her, and for us, than pacing. Her mother - who is very strong, and very soft, and very dear to us - is going through a hell that is unimaginable. As is her brother and his family.

Our extended family is huge, and when that happens, statistically, there is 'more'.

More weddings, births, illnesses, divorces, accidents, blessings, fights, and love. When I was much younger, I - and some of the rest of us - thought we were almost bulletproof. My maternal grandfather (his sketch is in the gallery :-)) was a ferociously protective family man - he'd been an only child, didn't want that for any child of his, so he had nine. He was adamant that his children make up together from fights, whether they were old or young. And he had the misery to bury two sons and a grandson - my brother.

It would be easy to dwell on the past sadness while walking through the present. But, focusing on my sweetheart cousin is the most important thing. Her mother and brother are the most important things.

They make my current frustrations shrink down to realistic size, but also make me regret that my energies are divided. Doing the best I can, on all fronts, whether I make mistakes in the process or not, will at least help me sleep at night.

I hope that for you as well.


Monday, June 18, 2012

In the Weeds

That's a phrase I picked up from my the weeds. Restaurant-speak for - these orders are late, I can't keep up, and people are gonna start yelling...

If my life were a restaurant, well, people are Already yelling, the grass certainly is late, and the thistles are storming the castle - so to speak. I have been trying to responsibly manage the mud-pit that is, in fact, our property. During our monsoon season (you weren't aware that June in Minnesota is sub-tropical???) our topsoil has washed away, the thistles, dandelions, and quack grass have gotten a good long drink, and if not for my new boots, I'd be ankle-deep in something nasty.

We thought that a big perk of our lot was the big back yard. That was our thinking before the basement wall started cracking, and we found that we have to WAIT on grass, until weekly measurements indicate the walls and floor aren't actually moving. In the meantime, we've found that thistles THRIVE on disturbed soil. Moreover, we've found the thistle seed factory is already established across the pond from us, on Other disturbed lots. What this adds up to is my own version of the Roundup Rodeo, every morning - cutting thistles or spraying new ones. Thanks again, Key Land Homes.

(yes, this is me, naming names and blaming away. Especially blaming me for being a dummy and buying a dream house with an Eight Foot Crack on the basement wall)

So, does this mundane nastiness have ANYTHING to do with Orchids? Art? Literature?

Why, yes, and thanks kindly for asking!!

In a spurt of utter escapism, I dove straight into beta-reading for my friend Stephanie J. Grace. She is working on a very...hmm....Unusual, I guess. Love story. It's actually so unique that I am forgetting to comment on it (well, ok, I did email her when I realized she changed a character's name in the second chapter...). And ask anyone - Claudia Lefeve, for one -  I comment on EVERYTHING!! In any case, that's how sick I am of working on the space that will ultimately be my Dream Minestrone Garden. And in case you've forgotten, Minestrone is something I dream about.

However, in happier news, my daughter and I will be working on a fairy garden or two this week, and I hope to even post the pics! I've also written another scene in the horror story, and got feedback from Ms. Grace (love that reciprocity thing!). So, that may help ease me back into that whole 'writing thing.' Also, bless his hard-workin' heart, my husband got our mailbox installed, as well as a snazzy pair of badly-needed drapes in the dining room. We have a west-facing set of glass doors (sans deck, sadly) and he's been getting blinded every meal time. Well, on the days we Haven't had rain, anyway...

There, the morning is running away from me again. Off I go to catch it - after all, isn't catch-up what Mondays are for? Violin practice, and all the usual daily work is a-waitin'....I hope your Monday is at least misery-free, and at most, completely delightful.

Take care,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

short story update

hah, you all thought it threw the towel straight in, dintcha? ;-)

Back in 2010, I put some serious time and effort into developing a short-story sketch into a short story. I even found a few generous, REAL WRITERS to read the rough (maybe chunky is more appropriate, here!). The biggest problems I've run into, other than the time factor, is that some extremely nasty things happen in this story, and it just seems to me that is the sort of thing that I Would Not Want to Actually Read.

Or, be responsible for writing.

I am not any further along in being at peace with that problem.

So, why the hell am I doing it?

Because it's part of the story that is there, and it makes 'sense' (if only 'story sense'). On the other hand, I have pretty strong views about guarding what you put into your own head.

To be honest, I wouldn't put my own story into my head, based on that criteria. It's too violent, and the nightmarish idea of 'copycat' behaviour is a problem for me. Other writers have solved that problem by having their bad guys actually 'be' monsters. The humans are the 'good guys'. I am not writing flat-out fantasy, but it would help if I accepted that one aspect of my story could be....sci/fi-horror? Maybe?

The story concerns a big-city teen who is dragged back with her family, to her mom's hometown in hicksville, where an honest-to-Betsy, missing-person mystery begins to unfold. Raising the stakes on 'interesting' for her is the fact that one of the key figures involved is a handsome teenaged boy. Despite setting my plot in a cozy part of the timeline where a few Quite bad things have already, quietly, happened, more bad things are coming up like random, poisonous, daisies. Our heroine, the big-city girl, happens to have a journalism future in her head, making her a perfect candidate for the role of 'meddling teenaged kid'. At least in her own eyes.

The story hit the back burner of my chaotic home life, just as our girl found what she thought was a clue - an old text book from the home of an elderly and (possibly) missing - recluse. (Being a recluse with more than one possible home-base, she can't actually report him as 'missing' to the cops.) Thinking nothing of theft, (after breaking and entering) she hastily grabs a book she judges to be significant...and later face-palms herself in despair to find it full of dry , 1940's-era science.

In German, which she cannot read.

I know two ways the story can end, one is bleak, the other, improbable. I have a few plot threads to pull together, to make either happen, and then some likely continuity-repair. And then writing over the placeholder stuff. And then hitting it with the de-crapifier pen. And then finding a willing teenager to read the dialogue and tell me how far off I am, and coach me  berate me back towards reality. And then, finding a patient reader with higher standards than mine to point out idiocies, flat places, and plot points that he or she doesn't care about. And characters and plot points about which they do. And then whipping out my so-far non-existing copy of 'grammar for fiction-writing dummies' and going over the damned thing so I am not too mortified to send it out for it's first rejections.



For the record, That's why this story isn't done yet.

On the other hand, given how very tired I am today, there's more than One reason the story isn't done.

No kidding, I am so wiped out from a long night of Both kids waking - more than once - that I just took my son's Adderall instead of my allergy pill. I'd call poison control, except I am already wondering just how many books I can get shelved in the library today.....;-) On a serious note, it's more likely that today I am going to feel edgy and drained at the same time.

Clearly, that short story will have to wait Just a Bit Longer....

There. May your day be more productive, less edgy, and consummately less Whiny, than mine.

Carry on. Be smart. Be brave. Be kind.

Finish your stories ;-)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


good morning to you!

Coffee is on, fireplace is on (as windows are open and summer has chickened out for a few days...)

This is turning into quite the text-heavy blog. I do own a camera, and I would love to brighten the posts up with some new pics, but that usually turns into a 40 minute photo-editing, selecting, uploading process. And if ya'll can donate a few minutes each....well, that would be about what it would take.

The Orchid House is in one of those frustrating...grooves. Although, maybe 'rut' is more accurate. I take out a few art supplies to work on an older project with my daughter, and one supply I need isn't working (spray bottle). I finally began to unpack the library, and realize that until *every* book is out of the box, I can't actually load the shelves in order, because I am loading them differently (starting with nonfiction, by subject) and don't know how many shelves are needed for each subject. I try to catch up on the laundry when the family is out for a bit, and realize Laundry soap is that thing I can't remember to add to the shopping list. Dinner planning gets pushed back daily, until I realize that it's that 'go to the store OR put my daughter down for a nap', binary-type decision.

When's the last time you've taken a 4 year old drama queen with an empty stomach and no nap to the grocery store?

Probably, it's been a while because you don't want to do it Ever Again. Who really wants to explain, out loud, to the sobbing royal that, "no one wants to kill you" while she gasps out...'yes. You are trying to kill me'. while sitting on the floor, looking heartbroken, near the blue cookies you won't buy.

I am so glad that stock boys are Not on the 'mandatory reporter' list.



We met with the landscaper last night to figure out where and what will be installed. While I am excited about installing the garden plot (especially after reading through Jamie Oliver's cookbook - title of which I am almost too tired to look up the link for... oh, heck. It's ridiculously readable, totally worth the it..Jamie at Home. :-) oh where was I .....Oh.

Thistles. While I am excited about installing the garden plot, there is a thistle forest that's come with the house, and that needs to be eradicated. And, your's-truly (having more at-home time than Jon) has been battling them for two days now. At first, the landscaper was know, you don't really have to spray them all, you can just get them if they come through. By the time we finished walking him around the yard, he was saying....'wow. There's a Lot of thistles here!' Mind you, this was after he was telling me to spray anything green in our dirt-packed yard, since it was likely a weed or at best, a nuisance. He had no idea.

I would love to bring you art, recipes, and photographs that are cool and fun and compelling.

But really, this week it's all about dusty books and dirty yards. Happily, it's also about making them into something new.

I hope your week is more insightful, more pleasant. That your summer is treating you kindly, and if it isn't, that you are treating yourself kindly. That if you go (as I do) to Pinterest for inspiration, that you come back with a project, and enough time to do it! As for me, I am just hoping to power through this last day of shelving, so I can get back to focusing on the kids. Some days, the time I take with them is the only thing I give them that really, really counts.

Thanks for coming!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Firefly

They are BACK!!

Tonight, the rest of the family is otherwise engaged, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you that outside, above the path between our backyard and the pond, I just saw a tiny flash  - sent, received, and returned.

The fireflies are back.

For some, fireflies are common as dandelions, but I didn't grow up close to the right habitat to see them much. Or, perhaps I am blocking out the fact that (unlike yours truly)my parents had some standards about not letting their children run amok outside past 9:30 in the summertime. Whatever the reason, fireflies are up there with falling stars in my childhood rememberance of natural rarities. Like my unshakeable views on the Divinity of Mary (look, I've tried to shake it at least once. It's stuck and I am fine with it :-), fireflies are forever bound to the magical moments that made me  believe - a little - in goblins, faeries, and wishing on stars.

I wished on a star once, fervently, and desperately.

It was the night before my 35th birthday. I was heavily pregnant, still four weeks from my due date, and I was finally off bedrest. In order to stretch our legs and take my mind off the baby, we set off for a near-sunset walk. Knowing that I had the stamina of a guppy, we didn't go far, and turned back home as the sky developed it's pure blue tones, and a few evening stars were out. We were crossing a bridge over a small stream, and saw a few fireflies flash. I was happily surprised, and we watched a few moments. Closer to home - and wishing I was already sitting, we turned up our driveway and flicked our eyes upward to the west at just the right moment.

A thin trail of silver headed northwest and I wished on that star, something along the lines of  'dammit won't this baby ever come!'.

We then headed up to the babies room, and I found our deck of 'dreamcards' - old illustrations from children's books with a verse about dreaming, to be shuffled and read to your child. I found the one showing two Victorian-era schoolchildren kneeling in front of a many-paned window at evening, frost at it's hem, looking at a bright evening star.

My husband and I kneeled down, and prayed that God would send this child soon.

The next day, we had dinner reservations at the (now-defunct) amazing Panne Vino Dolce. My cousin had come to spend my birthday afternoon with me, but she started looking less-relaxed when I asked her to start marking down the times of my contractions. Eventually, we called my husband home from work, cancelled dinner, and ended up in the triage center of our hospital. Eventually, we learned a whole lot about emergency c-sections, and the power of adrenaline.

And then we began to learn about my son.

To be honest, I'm hoping that the fireflies this summer presage nothing so momentous. But I am looking forward to pointing them out to my Godson tomorrow night, as we celebrate baptism for both him and my daughter.  We are hosting our first dinner 'party' for my brother-in-law and his family, and I am so excited - finally we have the room to pull something like this off - comfortably, for everyone.

I want nights like this to be much more common for our family.

Almost as common as flashing fireflies near a sapphire-blue pond.

Have a wonderful week!


Friday, June 1, 2012


Something to muse on.

With all the brand-new house conundrums and calamities (large and small alike), I haven't been 'creating' much.

Unless you count to-do lists and an occasional dinner-plan.

I've been attempting to get through the days by 'knowing what has to get done'.

This has not been wildly successful. Nor has thinking things like 'I seriously need to drink more water', 'maybe I can fix my vacuum' and 'i wonder when so-and-so will be calling'.

Rubbish is the result. There are some small and specific tasks I have been forgetting - probably, in fact, because they are both small and specific. Not 'pack your son's lunch today or he will starve' important, but important nonetheless.

So, today, the paper to do list comes out. I'm not going the route of Cozi today - that ends up a distraction when I see everything ELSE I haven't got done. My daughter never fully kicked her strep throat, so she has to sit still today anyway. Maybe I can amuse her by zooming around the house and celebrating each 'to-do' wildly and differently every time!

Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. I don't really want to pack a bag full of disgust and guilt to take through my weekend, so remembering all the little things today that DO make a dent, might be a way to save the whole thing.

Or not.

But I'll be happier for trying.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend too!!

Take care, and feel the sunshine, at least, for a little while :-)


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Easy. Breezy. Beautiful....(smirk)

this is one of them ' i am throwing this out there because i will do just about anything to clear up my brain ' posts.  That would have made more grammatical sense with hyphens correctly applied....but. Still. there 'tis.

Blogging, when done properly, can function to empty one's head (hah - you thought there was an upper limit on how empty my head can get, dintcha? ;-) AND entertain.

Unless you typically get your yuks laughing at the befuddled, I don't know how much entertainment value can be found here. Happily, there is a meaningful dialogue that showed up on on facebook that IS worth pondering. Maybe Even worth reading. (er, you would be the judge of that one....)

A friend of mine - for Quite a long time now!! - has been discussing the 'easy way out'. And how annoyed he was with himself (he's a bit of a study in understatement, unlike Yours Truly) because he'd thought to go out photo-shooting, and found himself deterred by the crappy weather and his physical state - tired and grumpy (if I am remembering this correctly.) Despite his correct intuition about how great a waterfall would look, he packed it in. And later saw someone ELSE's photo of that waterfall online. Looking as good as he himself imagined it would have.

He then bruised his foot kicking himself in the rear for....not kicking himself in the rear, I imagine. In fact, he took the whole missed-adventure as a place to examine taking - what he calls - 'the easy way out' instead of taking 'worthwhile risks'.

While I am frankly envious of anyone who addresses that whole 'unexamined life' problem, I say that he doesn't recognize Enough of his risks - he writes plays, for example. I consider that 'throwing oneself to the wolves', to be honest. How the hell much risk does he need?

On the other hand, by putting this discussion out there, he is using his disappointment at the missed shot to help us all remember that setting the bar a little higher doesn't hurt (much) and usually helps.

What a good guy he is.

I admire his instincts, and will - grudgingly - raise the bar myself this afternoon. I'd plotted out a day of furious box-emptying, meal planning and prep, and about 45 minutes in my shiny, unused, soaking tub. EIGHTEEN DAYS here in the new place. and I haven't been in once.

The CATS have explored that gorgeous tub more than I have.

However, I will raise the bar by reviewing some paperwork I'd forgotten about, make a list of things we need from the store to accomplish that attempt at more 'home cooking', and spend as much time playing with my daughter as being hard at work. But in order to get that bar hefted off the ground, I really need to get my fingers off the keyboard, and get breakfast goin' for my son. And, considering that if I Don't raise the bar.....

I'll probably just bang my head into it.


Off I go. (****ducks. waves****) You go too.

Have a really lovely day ;-)


Friday, May 11, 2012

The Id Gets A Workout

Hello there, web crawlers - how does the late hour find you?

I cannot assume you are all off, catching bugs and other creepy-critters. I have been rounding up rodeo clowns, myself.

Which may, or may not, remind you that I've been preparing to buy a house.

It's the kind of thing that upsets any routines, so you can imagine the hell it's played with my loosy-goosy attempts at order. We've improved the bedtime effort (mainly because making two overtired children move to a new home is much more impossible than moving upset and energetic ones) but most of my routines in the last week have crystallized into....being lied to. By a Realtor for the builder.


At a Realtor for a builder.

Complaining about daylight, streaming through the basement wall.

To a realtor for a builder.

On the plus side, I called nobody a clown (although the words 'fiasco', 'circus', and 'tail chasing' got a workout).  And, I got to rat out the realtor - to the V.P. - for blaming the entire mess on the builder's staff. Right in front of the big liar too, come to think of it.

Even my own kids don't tell me as many whoppers as this guy did.

However, the closing is done, and the next adventure begins. The re-assembly of the orchid house, in the new place, starts up at noon. The packing shall extend for another 30 minutes, and then I am going to be sensible and go to bed.

There may be extra mayhem on deck, or things may unroll smoothly into place. But a good nights sleep would really come in handy for that.

I've plenty of ideas cooking, you see. Many snippets of stories are tugging at my mind, but the homefront is the homefront. Mine, in fact.

There's a summer of gardening coming up, of finding out if blackberries are truly 'illegal' in town, of catching fireflies, and iced mint tea on the front porch. There's time to drag my kids to the pool until  we are all exhausted from swimming, and filling them up with popsicles on the cool cement floor of the unfinished basement. There's a camping trip to plan, and a pond to observe (saw our local beaver trying to cross back from the high school across the busy local road. I think he made it - school is clearly smartening him up!).

There's a lot of good coming up, and it's all food for thought. I hope your orchids are blooming, your art has been plentiful (please find me - orchidhouse - on Pinterest - much of my re-discoveries are there!) and your hearts are light.

And to all the mommies out there, happy Mother's day :-)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Homefront

And another one down, and another one down, another shelf Bites the Dust....

That's where I've been living lately, anyway. Right in the packing paper, boxing tape, and magic markers. Living five years without a tv did a lot for my reading list, but it really did a number on the book-hoarding compulsion. Now I have little time to watch the tv we do have, since it's all needed to Pack Them Books.

It's a pretty good problem to have. Donating over 100 books in the last year has been wise, both for the tax-return AND for preserving our bookshelves, not to mention preventing our movers from collapsing in despair. Getting rid of un-needed stuff also frees the mental resources to deal with real problems, rather than procrastinating endlessly about a phone call, a letter, a conversation. And I can compete with the best of 'em in the procrastination ring!

A few wise people have done great things, talking about how having "too much stuff' can be a real symptom of  a problem, and I am not talking a shopping problem. I am talking about the 'you are not dealing with it' problem. I'd say my husband and I got into the 'buy your kids too many toys' problem because we weren't super good at relating to our son's intellectual needs. Scratch that - out and out demands. And, to be fair, we were suckered in by the way his face lit up like a Christmas tree. In retrospect, that should have told us something.

Now, we have the 'problem' of teaching restraint, anti-consumerism, and the concept of having enough.

On the bright sight, hey, at least he loves to read!


That's it for now. If I don't deal with my "you are moving in less than three weeks and your house is barely 1/3rd packed" situation, I'm up for a grim moving day. On the artsy-side of things, I am ordering prints today for a special project I am doing. I really want to move on to my sillhouette project (and I still have to post the magical paper airplanes pictures!), but if I don't get the packing into high gear, I won't have time to do it before we leave. I need a few carrots to go with all my packing-sticks (and won't it  be fun to declutter those.....)

I hope you all have a lovely spring week, and get a moment to examine your own home-front for something to attack.

It's another way to dig up some peace :-)

take care, thank you for coming by, as always.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Snapshot at Orchid and Mayhem

Oh, my. Here is where we sit - starting with the basics.

Health: If great health resides in, say, Baja California, we'd still find ourselves in suburbia, Minnesota. 3 of us down, with Jon as the only holdout in the 'reasonable' health dept. My dear daughter is sporting one tonsil half the size of her throat, and the other about twice the usual size. No strep, but, certainly UnComfortable. With the attendant tummy trouble from having more than a few popsicles since it began. My boy has been feeling off, and is starting to sniffle, and I have everything my daughter does (except the one giant tonsil). To go for the full set, I sent Jon to bed with both kids, so by morning, he should be just as unperky as the rest of us.

Wealth: ohhhhhh, pa-Leeze. This week alone, I bought groceries, paid for my 90% grey roots to be covered, and paid for summer concert tickets, as well as sending the hotel deposit for a Wonderful wedding I am attending this fall. Good thing I bought a lot of kitchen 'staples', because even cheap frozen pizza isn't in the budget next week. I will be using everything in the pantry/freezer to keep me from hitting the market again. April is looking like a Great Time To Embrace Frugality!!!

Wisdom: hmmm. I didn't generate anything of import, to be honest. I rediscovered the great mileage in taking care of myself, with small steps that will make life calmer, which can lead to more joyous moments. I've run across some blogs that I will be adding to the blogroll - there are a few that focus on issues I'm embracing. Learning more about spirituality, trying for art and parenthood with equal attention. Since everyone is on different paths, there is always something someone is learning that not. Never hurts to learn something new.

Food: the only thing that really ticks me off about illness is not tasting - enjoying - food properly. And lacking the commensurate energy to prepare really good stuff. I Think my soup was ok (note to self, chicken breast cooked stovetop on my own, tastes better than the rotisserie-chicken shortcut I usually grab for convenience.) but now I need to make more chicken stock. Oops, more marinara, too. Sigh. Energy would really help here

Homefront: moving boxes are getting slowly packed, but the first order of business is the kids. I am pushing myself to at least keep up with the dishes, the laundry, and the meals. We don't have a closing date yet, so a day or two slowdown is not going to sink the Plan. (hah, there ya were, thinking I didn't have one. I do, You know. It's even in my notebook ;-)

So, if I am not too sleepy - and there is some doubt on that point - I will add the links. Some of the bloggers I am adding are definitely blogging their lives and faith journey, which may not be for everyone. It's a pretty under-represented blog-roll topic for me (in company with foodies and just ahead of underwater basket-weaving) so I will try to label my links appropriately. I don't know what will bring someone here, but it's always my hope to send them off someplace wonderful on a link when they leave.

Take care, everyone.

Do a better job of it than me ;-)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poetry Reading, Moving, Not Moving

Another sunny morning is on the prowl, which would be sparking summer-itis in most of us, but the brisk - and frankly, chilly - wind has quashed that feeling. Solidly.

The morning breeze would be ideal at the new home with the corner fireplace (just a simple gas one, but it works for me!!) but at the townhome it just makes me want to sit here and drink coffee (ok, nothing new there). I feel a little more inspired artistically than I have in a while, but today is not the day to do anything about it. Too many items on the to-do list.

I took my mom out last night to a poetry reading in Minneapolis at Open Book. There is a group of Loft (a fabulous non-profit Twin Cities writing program) writers that are in the Foreward program, and they've published a chapbook with a few selections each. I've had the pleasure of getting to know one of the writers - Sue Crouse - who is as encouraging as she is creative, brilliant, and inspiring. She's working on a large selection of poems to send out for publishing next year, and I am immensely pleased for her. Despite her range of interests, she has taken time out for reviewing my work and helping me understand ways to better my writing.

When someone like her offers such support, it's criminal to not take advantage of it. So,  after we get settled in, I am looking forward to her input and her advice on the troll-wife poem, and maybe even the 'God's Dremel Tools' piece. Even better, she sometimes sends stuff my way for feedback, which is always enjoyable for me, and quite an honor. I have had the chance to beta-read for a few writers now, and I think I get more out of it than they do!

So, that's new business for me - both the mundane and the extraordinary. Many calls to make and boxes to stuff, so off I go. I hope you find something inspiring this week - maybe it's dinner, maybe it's a new story, maybe it's just the wind inspiring some kite-flying. Whatever that feeling is - go for it. It's a beautiful time of the year.



Friday, April 6, 2012

Allergies. You Suck.


a fine Good Friday this is turning into.

If God has any buckets sloshing about with extra grace, please pardon me as I push my way to the head of the line. Just once, today.

My children will be grateful.

For the rest of you lovely readers, your friday is already better than mine :-)

Unless the pollen has you too ;-)

Take care,


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lead Feet

Not warm ones, either, at the start of this blustery Tuesday :-)

The northern skies seem to chasing the clouds south east today, which is not precisely typical. Since I am forecasting weather with my thumbs lately, I'll go out on a low-hanging limb and say there's a low-pressure system around these parts. Making the skies match my slow moving feet.

I really wanted to be motivated today, but the early spring - Thank You VERY LITTLE, Global Warming - pollen counts are turning into a Major problem for the hay-fever inclined. Get one of these systems in the neighborhood and the sneaky stuff becomes in-escapeable. Mind you, I can't even see the pollen, but the Weather Channel insists it's there, and I am nothing if not a dutiful hypochondriac.

So, anything positive on my plate?

Let's talk houses.

By the time I was nine, I think I had totted up about 5 or 6 different residences - houses, trailers, basement apartments, you get the idea. One of my parents had different ideas than the other about what constituted 'stability'. Considering it took me until the age of 33 to feel like I had some, you can see how well That worked. Between the homes I lived in that were simply unsuitable, to the ones we had to leave because of house payments or rent money in short supply, my experience in houses that felt like 'home' was pretty thin. And I pretty much decided that if I ever settled down enough to have kids, they were NEVER going to endure that!!

Since 2004, my husband and I have been in this townhome, the one we bought while I was pregnant with my son. Since I had very little of my own furniture, for a long time our place felt like it was still 'his'. Over time, we've chosen furnishings together, as we could afford it. The place feels like both of us. Being a corner unit in a quad, we have North windows and a West-facing deck with glass doors. The first floor walls are a creamy yellow or parchment, and upstairs it's all greens, blues, and greys. The basement rooms are greens and yellows too. We have hardwood or tile on the main floor, and colorful art and pottery on the walls. On sunny days, I love to be there, and on grey days, my kids room is my favorite room in the house - we seem to have found the perfect blue for their walls. When I'm tired, my bedroom feels like a hug.

We are moving into a beautiful new home with earthtoned walls - from deep cream colors to light browns. Cherry floors and slate-colored tile on the main level, soft carpets upstairs, deep woodwork and hardware, and light colored doors. Our backyard faces a pond (home to frogs, turtles, a few fish, and some hungry birds!) so I am envisioning a summer of fireflies, froggie houses, and reptile discoveries in the garden. The front of the house has a big deep porch, perfect for drinking iced tea or lemonade, and roomy enough for a bevy of trick-or-treaters.

Despite having all this coming at us in the future, the kids have worries and concerns - who wouldn't? We aren't far from their friends, but not as close as next door. I don't know who can watch the kids in a pinch, and who is incapable of - or flat-out uninterested in - handling it.

This means it's on us - the parents. We need to set the example of friendliness and fun, inclusiveness and adventureousness. We need to show the kids the benefits of having snacks and lemonade at the ready in the kitchen, and a slip-and-slide in the backyard, with batteries in all the flashlights in the garage. The kids need to know that if you want an adventure, you have to be ready in a heartbeat for when it crosses your path (for instance, the one that runs between the yard and the pond.)

Holy crap, I really, really wish I was better at parenthood.

Time to brush up on them skills ;-)

Have a lovely day, everyone!!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Under Siege!!!

Ok friends, this is brief -  you may all breathe a sigh of relief :-)

I was attacked Viciously by my allergies yesterday, about three times a year they muster their guns, dustmites, secret mold blasters, and other sneaky armaments and ba-Lindside me. Typically, they are lying in wait for me to mess up and skip regular bedtimes, play outside, or go to church near heavily perfumed - and otherwise harmless looking - young ladies.

Conceding the inevitable, I occupied the couch, took gross quantities of anti-sneezing defense, and slept off the misery for a bit. The sneaky buggers left booby-traps too - managed to get so dehydrated that today I am missing my spidey sense signals, warnings of falling hockey gear, fragile eggs, and slick marble on the landing.

On the other hand, it might not be the dehydration. Kitchen elves may also be out to get me (the hockey skate attack was a likely red herring).

Other than treating gravity with all due respect - and then some - today is just a regroup, make phone calls kind of day. Cooking up a storm of healthy food tonight too - it's cold here (but not for March) - today seems a hot-cocoa, spicy food kind of day.

So, off the computer, play time with my daughter, work in the laundry and sweeping, and see if I can find my focus hiding underneath a stray dust bunny.

If any of you see it first, please dress it warmly, and send it home safely :-)

Have a terrific week!


(ps, find me - orchidhouse - on Pinterest. I think my button at left should do the trick! Been finding such pretty things there, I'd hate for you to leave with no new inspiration...this moving-situation has drained the art well pretty seriously!!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

This is a Speed Post

No editing, just thoughts off the top of my head, how they sound in my head, mostly. kinda.

What with buying one house, preparing to rent out the old one, catching up on the legalese involved, and trying to keep the children Minimally Bothered by all the commotion, I am not giving time to writing, but in between all the 'hurry-up-and-wait', I am doing some sessions of major thinking.

I am thinking about how the 20's are kind of our way of finding out, finally, who we are not. And doesn't That make you want to grab every 13 year-old girl and say, "there is so much grace in knowing who you are not. You know who you are not. Don't be that person'.

I am thinking about how spirituality could be so uncomplicated, if we could feel that our Faith was a treasure to share, rather than a burden to bear.

I wonder why I am so troubled with other lives and worries, when I am finally getting to a place where I can make a difference - maybe only small, sometimes, but more than I could before - in a crunch. This should make me really happy, and yet I find myself muttering.....this may not be enough. What I can and will do, will help, but will it be enough?

There should be some....peace, maybe, in writing this down and staring at it. Letting it percolate. Perhaps there will be. We've cleared away and dealt with almost all of the real clutter in our home, so it is obviously more peaceful now. Needing to keep it that way for showings will probably really help.

I don't think it's just peace I am looking for, though. But I also think the searching itself is a good starting place. My own problems are good problems to have. Clearing away the mental distraction is the next step, if these persistent thoughts are to have an action or resolution. And I think that might be the destination I need.

Just musings, not very well explained, and I've spared you the 'expounding' of which I am typically guilty. Life's like that sometimes.

Next post will be coherent.

This is just what is on my mind :-)

Have a lovely week!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodness, Gracious. Wow, Even.

Good morning out there!

I haven't been here.

There's many places I haven't been, and I would love to say that I have been off saving the world for you. Or mastering chocolate sponge-cake making.

Alas, I have not. I have been kid-chasing, mom-helping, and, um, house-buying.

What timing, eh? Wait till my mother has her hip replaced, and then tell her she needs to help us move....slick, eh?

Okay, it's a little more like 'wow, this works for us. Mostly. Timing is pretty good. Location is awesome. Okay, let's buy it.'

a little, anyway. And damn, anyone trading up a cute little townhome (well, renting it out, since we would take such a cold, dirty bath on it if we tried to sell it!!) for a four bedroom, yet tastefully arranged model home should be hopping up and down and embarressing herself with the Alleluia chorus (hm, and appalling spelling.)

I am not hopping. Partly because my shoes aren't on and I only have about thirty minutes worth of coffee going. The other part is that I've had the Life sucked out of me by those rodeo clowns I've been speaking to all last week, courtesy of the mortgage industry. (Note to all of you in the Mortgage Industry - this doesn't mean you are all clowns. Only two of you, and I would be shocked as hell if you read artsy mommy blogs. But apologies to any rodeo clowns, as you are gainfully employed doing something I could never do.)

These are great problems to have, but it means that I need an hours worth of coffee before I have to do anything at all today, like remembering everything on the mental to-do list that is house-concerned, before my hubby goes to work and takes the one high-functioning critical-thinking brain out of the house. (This - right here - is responsible for me setting the alarm wrongly and freaking out my husband with a blasting, honking alarm at 6:00 am, instead of the soothing classical I prefer to wake up to. No wonder he's bolting to work in a hurry! Sorry, honey!)

Every now and again I am poking about on Pinterest (See!? shiny things that look cool! for a house! Yay!) but that's about the artsiest I am going to get for a while. I have about 3 and a half million things left to do this week, so my daughter is going to be slighted in the crafts dept. for a little while longer (poor dear. I know you will get your inky and glue-covered fingers in my face for this and i don't blame you one bit.)

Time to roll out the to-do list, but I just wanted to thank you for stopping by when you do.

The Mayhem is going to start hittin' the roof....

Have a wonderful, glue-free week ;-)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ice, Stones, Love

Hello, far-flung friends!

Today has been about family duties - not just me corralling, feeding, and training up the kids - actual duties. My lovely mother has been in to have surgery, and with her hard-working husband doing his work in Oklahoma, that left me here for the hand-holding duties. Since she's been here for two foot surgeries and two C-sections, I am not complaining.

This comes just after my husband and I returned from a northern trip (yes, there is still some MN North of us) to retreat together for stillness, and for each other.

We differ, a bit, in what we think of as 'paradise'. Invariably, he is about the warm sunny peacefulness of a quiet tropical beach.

I am all about the quiet of a state park, on a weekday, an hour south of Canada in February....provided there's a crackling fire and indoor/outdoor hot-tubs to choose from. My husband has a sunny personality, I have a more contemplative. He doesn't ponder much, I don't live in the moment much. Hence, we do a lot of learning from each other, a highly attractive process, come to that.

In any case, we had our time together, and came home to kids who need us, and my mom (and her little dog, too!) who also needs us. Being recharged, I am more than up for it. If I get my beauty sleep, that is. 

So, I will leave you with one more image from the trip (I'll put up the link to the album later, check back!) and get off to bed. I have some delightful projects coming up that I can't blog much about until they are done, But, I promise you pics when I'm through.

If I really get my act together, I may re-post "Winter", just because i seem to be in a bit of a recycling craze.

As always, don't feel shy about leaving comments. I'm sure other readers stumbling through here may find something in common with you, and that shouldn't be too terrible....;-)

I hope you have a lovely, warm, cozy night.

Thank you for coming by to visit.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stories...a Re-post

belatedly, a love-note about stories


Somewhere, tonight, perhaps even now, a 14 year old girl has deduced that it is far better to be an Emma Woodhouse than a Harriet Smith - except for all the baggage which also comes with being a know-it-all.

Somewhere, this afternoon, Samuel Coleridge's albatross is flapping about, presaging doom.

This morning, a curious agnostic paged through the Acts of the Apostles and found Paul getting snakebit on the Isle of Malta (er, after starving, getting seasick, and shipwrecked earlier that same day).

Stories live.

Bella Swan and Harry Potter are carrying on in the imagination of teenaged readers, having different adventures in different places - all at the same time.  Nancy Drew is still creeping up the hidden staircase at the Sign of the Twisted Candle, and the kindly maid is showing them how she makes 'Butterfly Pie' for old Asa. Trixie Belden still teaches her cousins and friends her 'memorize the room' game, and beating her brother at saying 'Rabbits, Rabbits" on the first day of the month.

When you put a story out there - in pictures, in words, in binary, in lovingly dipped crowquill script - yesterday, or a thousand yesterdays ago, those names and places and faces will carry on, whether you claim them or not. You still have to stand behind anything you write - being gentle with the younger-and-perhaps-less-wise author, nonetheless. Because if your story was read by anyone, than it is still 'there'.

For my story, so far, there is exactly one person who knows that a girl named Justine has fine, almost transparently white blonde hair, and that she will never willingly speak.  Another knows that a bad person named Eli should really get the splinters out of his tongue before they, er, fester.  And, a third reader knows that there is a girl, on an old mine road, thinking she knows everything, who has learned all she will ever, ever know, too late.  And that some cups should be passed, and some water never drank.

Your stories will live long after you do - tell them carefully, and tell them well. Watch, closely, the stories you read and write - fiction or not - those names and faces and places will live in your head, and are almost impossible to evict. They will remember you, whether you want them to or not. They will keep you company, for a very, very, long time.

Sweet dreams, my story tellers, my readers.

Read and write and dream well.

off to recharge....

hello all!

It's been a long hiatus, children busy-ness, illness, family worries, and, have usurped the occasional examinations of daily life I'd been posting. These are all normal, but, on top of them, we've kinda sorta started some serious house hunting.

We've been very busy with the daydreaming ;-)

However, what I am busy with - Now Right Now is - getting my son off to school (he's been experimenting with hair clippers 'to save money for a house, mom!!' and getting the bags packed.

For the third time since our children were born, we are getting away together. Alone.

And there's still a bit of packing left.

Ideally, we are coming back rested, refreshed, recharged, and ready for our next adventure. So, there will be more entries coming. I left you a valentine (well, Jon's valentine, anyway) as a token of good will. Even left the last poem up. 

Also, I've discovered Pinterest, by the way, (find me at Shari Emerson). I am using it to track inspirations for future projects, recipes, artists I love, photos I like, and, um, home inspiration too. I'll be adding the gadget to the blog so you can come-and-go at will. Pinning is easier than blogging, I might use Pinterest as an artistic scavenger hunt - set a theme for the week, and pin boards in a series of tracking what my brain is up to...kind of like a scavenger hunt crossed with an evidentiary trail!

That's it for me. I've resigned myself to an ugly midwestern winter, so our getaway may provide a little more of the scenery that I must admit I need!!

Have a lovely weekend...i'll be reporting back later next week :-)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Night Wanderers (finally! a new poem!)

Night Wanderers

We sleep, for the most part, together
In our queen. Sometimes in a pair,
Sometimes one before, sometimes
After, each other. We set alarms
Check monitors. We lock every door
Except the one to our room.

Dimly blue, bodiless guide-lights hover
Near our children’s room, ours.
No privacy worries, no barrier
Mounted between their dreaming
Bodies and our ‘sacred’ sleep.
We tell ourselves ‘Just in case.”

Just in case nightmares shatter a dream.
Some sickness or light disturbance
Stealing rest, could invade their sleep
And drive them, determined, our
Way. A door, loose robe,
Could trip us during rescue.

We say, “they won’t need us forever”
And, “they’re only young for so long”,
But, honestly… we fool ourselves
On the nature of our fear. 

Not that they might need us,
But fear they will leave us.

by shari emerson

.....any of you other parents realize this yet? ;-)
have a great day!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Day...

Good Morning!

The kids have a day off from school, and Winter has cooperated hugely - snowflakes all over the place.

We haven't had This much snow in a month and a half.

The downside is there is a sheet of ice beneath it, so everyone else who has to be on the roads is cursing this stuff. Sure looks pretty when you stay at home, though.

The daily routine will be pretty straightforward. Re-load dishwasher, wake son, fire up some pancakes and sausages, start dough for either cookies or pumpkin bread, round up buddies, and play in the snow. Eat lunch, cookies or pumpkin bread. Consider dinner, then do something about it. Play in the snow some more. Put little one down for her nap, drink another cup of coffee, do a bit of housework. Maybe score some writing time. Tire my son out with reading and violin practice. Take a snow walk with him tonight....

That's my plan.

The universe will probably do something about 'this planning business'.  That's okay. I am giving the universe a little more slack here, as I am doing some major praying and requesting. My sister - you know, the cutesy pugilist with the unstoppable mouth - she's actually on her bottom, in the hospital. With Pneumonia.

Both lungs.

So all this planning and activity is a ploy - to stop myself from hopping on a plane and rushing down there to make minestrone, and lemon-chicken soup, and anything else with more than 6 vitamins in it, and pretending I know how to take care of her. Happily, she has a dr. who refuses to let her go home until her oxygen levels are reasonable. Which, apparently, they aren't. Not even close.

If you pray, pray for sick people today. And their doctors.

And then do one extra thing today to take care of yourself today.

A walk in the snow, an extra glass of water, a really nice salad with dinner, a good conversation with a friend, or a heart-healthy (though liver dubious) glass of red wine (less liver-dubious if you are a coffee drinker, like, ahem, me!) after, or with, dinner. Please do this.

You are more important than you think.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

....when life hands you lemons, rosemary, and thyme....

Make Dinner!

Well, make dinner, but see if we can toss in some art, too.

I had a poor excuse for a good night's sleep, so quality-control may not be on the clock yet, we'll see if she shows up.

Two days ago, I was wanting to make something and was both too busy and too unsettled to do anything about it. I also realized that at least three other people in this house count on someone putting together a bit of food at least once per day. So, I grabbed the camera, gave the counters a quick wipe, and proceeded to pound and smash my way to dinner. Thankfully, as I also am the homework buddy, my son is a math whiz and was occupied with little trouble while I worked.

Chicken thighs were merrily bathing in the sink...

so I began their garlic bath. In french, this is what is called aioli.

If you are good at it. 

I am not. 

So, I call it pounded garlic, sea salt, and olive oil sauce.

This is what it looks like before you start abusing it.

After slowly adding any additional olive oil, and grinding and pounding away, it gets saucy and emulsified. When you don't see much olive oil hanging around obvious chunks of garlic, and you think you have enough for two packs of chicken thighs it is done. Note, these taste better and look nicer and stay moister if you do them with skin and bones included. (If you make yourself a big salad to go with, you won't feel as guilty about the skin...)

There are no photos of me rubbing the garlic sauce on the chicken, the thighs were not 'feelin' it' and anyway, I didn't want to give the camera a vinegar bath to sterilize it - the camera looked highly annoyed at that idea. So, trust me when I tell you I loaded all the thighs in a bowl, smeared them over and under the skin with the sauce, and popped 'em back in the fridge. (They'd like 2 hours of fridge time at least, but in this house, you get what you get.;-)

I love lemons. I've done this recipe with onions, by the way - they give a sweet, rather than lemony flavor, obviously. But lemons in the winter really are the ticket.

Rosemary, thyme, and sage are the other herbs I use. I've been able to keep my rosemary alive - and it keeps sending up these crazy shoots, so I prune those first for cooking. Snip, wash, put in water. Wash my thyme.....

Thyme is not something I can grow in this northern light over winter, so I have to buy that fresh. I buy it in the 'dirt' plugs sold in the super market, so that gets a bath too, while I finish scrubbing the lemons.

By the way, yes, I Have heard the theory of 'washing your produce the second it gets in the house'. Now that I am roping the kids into kitchen work, I May be able to interest them in that job. And this photo-entry would be shorter!
On the other hand...I'd miss the excuse to shoot pictures of thyme, which I find very beautiful.

There, bathtime is over for the lemons. And the rosemary. 10-12 sprigs if the rosemary is leggy, same number for the thyme, and slice the lemons into roughly 1/4" slices. I'd have taken a pic, but by this time, my son needed me to check his homework, my daughter had to be gotten out of bed, and my husband was on the phone. So, no pretty pics of lemon slices draped with rosemary and thyme.

I don't have pretty pics of me rubbing sage between my palms and sprinkling it on the lemon slices first, either.

But that's exactly what I did. Then I salt and peppered the thighs (both sides) topped the lemon-and-herb-stacks with the chicken, baked them at 425 for an hour, while making wild rice pilaf and a mixed spring-herb pack salad with the last of the goat cheese and dried cranberries - thereby obviating the stress about that crispy, olive-oiled, salt-and-peppered skin.

So, there. I made dinner. I made pictures, and I am sharing them with you.

And after reading it, even I wonder how I get anything done around here!

Make yourself a good healthy dinner tonight.

Tell me how it goes...... ;-)