Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Garden Spider's View

A forest of sweet many to choose from!

...and tucked among them.... a science activity from October...

Do you see them?

Garden peas snuggled in....

cousins, I suppose!

Sweet peas and garden peas - happy as can be!

.... while bunnies frolic in the shadows.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


A little enchantment in the corner catches my eye... hmmm... that wasn't there yesterday....

.... ahhh! A garden gnome with a knack for some whizardry it seems to be. He's found a perch and seems to be holding court among the nasturtiums and irises. I wonder if the garlic, sage, rosemary and catnip nearby are listening....

"All before me, listen carefully. You have a fine place of radiant growth and beauty in which to sink your roots deep, and stretch up to the azul skies above. Grow strong, and do not be shy to show your glory, for it brings joy to all who see it!"

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Morning Pages - Interrupted

**Reader Advisory**
The following post contains graphic language (the 's' word) and is not intended for young children, the faint-of-heart or those easily offended by real life.

So, I'm sitting in my lovely English Garden this morning...trying to neutralize the effects of a bag of Doritos, a hard-night's sleep and the continuing feeling of bad karma surrounding me (see previous post).

Upong rising, the diesel sound of the local fire truck with 'those nice firemen' drives by - ahh...they are checking out the fire hydrants in our neighborhood... aren't they nice??! I lumber down the stairs, throw the dog his bone and proceed to make a pot of coffee from Kenya. Sneezing for 10 minutes, trying to shake out the 'wrath-of-God' look that I have going on with my hair and gathering my things for my Morning Pages, I head out with coffee in hand to my garden. Surrounded by all things beautiful, I sit down and take that first sip....letting it seep its way into my body. A few deep breaths, listening to the train make its way through town, watching birds skitter around from tree to tree.... I open my journal to begin my Morning Pages. The pen finds me still working through a feeling of 'bad karma'...(again, see previous post). My perspective of this summer, finances, everything is a bit tainted and gloomy... I wonder if I'm just having a pity-party that I forgot to pencil in on my calendar, if I am forgetting to have faith in God taking care of me and my daughter, if it's the effect of the bag of Doritos from yesterday, or am I being very realistic about my situation?!? Such hard ponderings for so early in the morning.

As I scribe these fears, thoughts and wonderings on page I am interupted. By a SPLAT !! My journal pages now behold puddles of white ... as do my arm, shirt (which I have on the right way, thank you very much!) and even better.... my hair!

I have been shit on.

By the bird of Bad Karma.

I quickly gather my splattered-in-bird-poop things and dash into the house. Morning pages wiped down - the journal paper beginning to curl as it dries. Shit-on pajamas are stripped off. I dash up to the disbelief of the whole event, but having to laugh a bit inside...this is sooooooooooooooo my life!

Interestingly enough, I have emerged from this in a better frame of mind. I'm not feeling as woeful, gloomy or down. I'm showered, looking forward to getting some things done around the house today and taking loyal companion for a walk. Why is this? Well, it's a perfect example of life. We all get shit on from time to time. And we all shake (or shower, as the case may be) it off. We fix ourself back up and go right back out into the world with resolve and determination. Maybe getting shit on once in a while steers us back on course....refocuses us back to what is at hand...changes our perspective a bit to what is beneficial for our world. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all!

Nevertheless, tomorrow morning I'm taking my umbrella.

I have received several comments regarding the belief that when this type of 'event' happens to one, it brings them good luck and, some say, money! Well, I must tell you.... in the afternoon, I decided to do my taxes. Something that I have been dreading...I mean d-r-e-a-d-i-n-g to do because I just knew that I would owe, oh... a couple grand to Dear Ol' Sam. And after the way things had gone in the morning, why not just put the cherry on the top of this day! After working up the taxes, it turns out .... Uncle Sam owes ME!!!!!!! The shock of this turn around has not sunk in yet, but I can't help but notice the sequence of events - and the outcome! I don't know ... for those of you who haven't done your taxes yet, you might want to go find a bird! : )

Friday, March 21, 2008

I can tell that it's a full moon.....

..... the Full Worm Moon, to be exact. As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter. Either way you call it, you have to call it beautiful!

It was one of those days that was an experience of mis-haps and dumb stuff. Ever have one of those? Where even the easiest of tasks turns into a full-blown exercise of futility and brain power? I trekked to Wal-Mart for some basics; one of which was a new air filter. Darn if they didn't have the size I needed....totally out. They had plenty of the big one (my technical term, mind you), but none of the littler one. So I made my way to Fry's. Yeah! They had plenty of the size I needed - of course, at twice the price. Oh well. I threw it in my cart and headed through check out. As I left, the firemen from our local fire station were taking donations for MS. I handed one of them a donation and told them that about two years ago they had responded to a call at my house in the middle of the night..and that I truly appreciated them being there for me. 'The nice fireman' thanked me with a sweet smile..and I headed towards my car....

.....that's when I noticed it....

oh, gawd....


I was wearing my shirt inside-out!!! Seams, tag, label and all.

Now...mind you. This is not the first time! Oh no! Try more like the THIRD TIME!! A sure sign that I am old and feeble of mind and incapable of taking proper care of myself! I'm one step closer to the old home!!

I wonder how many shoppers and 'nice firemen' noticed this!?!

I came home...shaking off the effects of my advancing age and promptly hopped up on a chair to change out my air filter.

WHAT IN THE WORLD??!!!?? oh nooooooooooooooooooo..........



it's the wrong size....

I need the BIGGER one................

(frown and tears begin to form...)

My great son and daughter were confused as to why I was so upset. When I explained my shirt plight, they said they were thankful that at least it was a shirt and not some other article of clothing...or that I had even remembered to put a shirt ON! Funny.

Daughter returned the air filter and brought home 4 of the right size and changed it out for me. Son sent a diet cherry limeade from Sonic home with daughter. 'Things are going to be okay, Mom. Don't worry."
It must be the full moon.

I'm staying home tonight. Taking a hot bath, my comfy pajamas and maybe a glass of wine. I'm making sure that my pj's are on the right side out and that the glass will be the right size! You never know when you might need those friendly firemen in the middle of the night!
Take a moment tonight. Look at the moon. Are you missing someone dear to you? Do they live far away? Call them. Tell them to go to the window and look at the moon. And you look at it at the same time. Two people looking at the moon from different, far away places. The moon, in all her ethereal beauty will connect you two closer for the moment.
The moon. She is to be enjoyed!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Spring Soiree

Happy Spring !!

Oh yes! Spring sprung today and the ya-ya's were in full bloom! We've been planning a little 'Spring Soiree' for a bit now and in honor of the new season, we got together to bring it in in style!

Before the girls showed up, I tippied out to the garden to gather a couple of blooms for the table... nasturtiums, sweet peas and a daffodil from Trader Joe's made for a sweet little welcome.
The English Garden was all ready in her glory with the mid-morning sun lighting the stage for the festival!
Wrapped up in springy cotton napkins were copies of one of my favorite books by Susan Branch - 'Girlfriends Forever!' ... each with a little tag for the special ya-ya! Oh! The excitement of an unopened gift!

Look who showed up! The Spring Fairy, herself! She was decked out from head to toe with hues of yellow, pink, purple and all colors of the new season!

Pretty tin buckets of pink just brimming with goodies from her! Lotions and potions, coffe and cards, daffodils, scrunchies, chocolate, a magazine (YES! I will read this one!)...and other things that make a girl feel special and loved... that did she know??
And here's our gal that makes our world sparkle!! She brought us gifts, as well.... cans of Fish Foam!! Cute little wisps of lavendar from her garden bedecked each red and white can. Spring Fairy and I were estatic for these cans! What is Fish Foam, you might ask?? Oh my will be hearing about FISH FOAM in an upcoming post... it is my new love!!!
The goodies were set for a feast! Lemon scones, deviled eggs, salmon quiche with caper sauce, homemade lemon curd, a beautiful fruit salad and homemade lemonade (with a float of chamboard for a special treat!).
But wait! There was more! Tucked under all of those beautiful gerber daisies and sunflowers were the sweetest raspberry cream cakes...all set upon the sweetest pansie pedestal! What a stage!
The girls opened their books and we all quickly got lost in the wonderful pages of color, quotes, recipes and info that just makes a girl's heart all a flutter with friendship and love and all things wonderful to a woman's heart!
A gorgeous day....bright, beautiful sunlight....the song of birds surrounding us... all brings out the fun tucked inside!!
and the ever-present loyal companion who doesn't understand the giggles and laughs and all things girly....but he does understand frosting left on the stem of a gerber daisy tossed into the garden....
....said dog slyly carried said stem off for a wee bit o'lickin' !

Colors of spring....
a rainbow of nature....
a beauty of a day...
in so many ways!
May Spring color your world in all things bright and beautiful!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Prose and Pose

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty,

and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.”

-Lindley Karstens

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dirty Little Secret - # 2

Last summer, I talked about my dirty little secret...the refrigerator door shelves. Truthfully, that was my only one...

...until lately.

I have to admit that I have another shameful secret that plagues me monthy....

and it is....

I have a stack of unread magazines that could choke a horse! I'm not talking a few, or several, or a stack... try 4 stacks! For a grand total (yes, I counted) of 66 magazines!! That's not a typo, people... 6-6 ! I have collected and tossed and stacked my subscriptions with the BEST of intentions for the last oh... about 3 years... and I FINALLY have had to get a grip on this beast!

Every month I've received my Oprah, Country Living, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion and a few others here and there. And every month, I tell myself as I toss another issue onto the stack, "Maybe I'll come home tomorrow night and indulge in my magazine after dinner and read it THIS MONTH!!" And, well... you know. Not only have I not read these, in some cases, I've even gone ahead and renewed the dang subscription!! "OH, I can't NOT go without my Oprah! I know I haven't read them much lately, but this subscription rate is SUCH a good deal and really, honest...I AM going to start reading them every month. Really, I am!!"

Does anyone else have this 'issue'?? (hehe...)

So, while daughter and I were cleaning today, I decided to bite the bullet and dive into the various stacks I have around here and get things back in control. I sorted, organized by date...(um...the most 'offending' issue was an UNOPENED FROM THE MAILING WRAP issue of Bon Appetite - April, 2005 !!!).... and organize this dirty little secret of mine. There are tips from Martha on how to make my holiday table spectacular! There are tips for making over my house on a budget! (HA! Right!) If I want to know the secrets for shopping flea markets, all I have to do is read about it! Gifts made from the heart, how to organize my scrapbook supplies, growing an organic garden, which olive oils are the best, how to get a good night's sleep, and 6 secrets about men that they don't want me to know about!!
Truly, I think the reason that this has happened is that for the last three years, I was too busy dealing with family matters that I didn't have the frame of mind to read all of these. And somehow, when one is trying to save - a person, a marriage, family life... reading about how to coordinate your bedroom paint with your newfound linens just wasn't a priority.
Within the last two weeks, I've received renewal notices from Oprah and Mary. ATTENTION!! Don't miss a single issue! Renew now so your service isn't interrupted! We don't want to loose you!!
Well, too late. You have. I've tossed them into the trash and will any future pleas for my money. By my calculations, I've got enough reading material to take me into 2011 !!
I've organize my 66 secrets into 3 containers... Oprah and Home Companion now sit in a bucket, Martha sits on the shelf of my primative table in the family room, and Country Living fills my Longaberger basket in the living room. All dusted, organized and just waiting for me to pick one and start reading!


This morning is full of them! Spring Break has arrived and my students and I are enjoying a whole week off! I feel like a little girl going to the fair - oh, the prospects of having a week off make me almost giddy! I've got a load of laundry spinning while drinking the clouds in my coffee and watching nature wake up. Ornery cats run by every now and then, and a loyal dog eyes me with expectations of a nature walk later on. I will have to accomodate him.

The promise of lazy days, no time constraints and simple indulgences...

Yesterday afternoon I was talking with my ya-ya about plans for today..mostly entailing cleaning. I told her how it was time for the annual cleaning of the family room ceiling fan. In order to do this, since my ceiling is about 20 ft. high, I have to center my coffee table under the fan, put my ladder on top of the coffee table, and climb to the top of my ladder. At that height, I'm able to clean the fan blades mostly by feel....'cuz if I look up, I tend to sway a bit. Ya-ya did not think this was a wise move on my part, but I assured her that I had done it many times before and that I am most careful... keeping my cell phone on the floor in case I end up there and do need to call someone for some...uh...'assistance'. Well, a few hours later...look who shows up at my door! Fourteen-foot ladder in hand - along with her 6'7" husband!!! I was all verklempt!

Mr. J deftly positioned his ladder under the fan, climbed up without nary a huff or puff and proceeded to clean the entire fan - top and bottom - AND my light fixtures! Normally, I have to unscrew all 5 of those babies and wash them in the sink, dry them and then hike back up and screw them back in. Not this guy! This is his forte'! His profession! His shining talent! A quick spray of 'fish foam' and my lights sparkled like there was no tomorrow!! He did in 20 minutes what would have easily taken me an hour and a half!

A promise of helping out.

This sweet couple is heading out on a road trip today to scout out a mountain range in the southern part of our state...with a picnic in hand. I was only too happy to load them up with a bag of lemons (from 'you-know-where') and some simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice that I had just made in the afternoon.

A little promise of something refreshing for their pic-a-nic!

....and speaking of lemons....

I just had to try my cranberry scone recipe with some lemon curd!

A very delicious promise, indeedy!

This morning as I strolled out to my compost bin, I came across this little promise...

a freshly-hatched bird egg... still wet.

A promise of new life....

and that nature is eternal.

What promises cross your path today? I'd love to hear! Feel free to share!

They're there for the looking....

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pucker Up!

OH, the JOY of having a lemon tree!!!

Actually, my neighbors have a beautiful lemon tree that so graciously falls over our common wall on the side yard! My neighbors give me carte blanche with these beauties and I am only too happy to indulge! I look forward to this perk every year and am grateful for the pickin's! I use them with grilling and cooking, lemon bread, and of course - lemonade!! Sometimes, my neighbors will also leave a gift on top of the wall by the tree...maybe a few oranges from their tree on the other side of their yard, or maybe it's a few lemons that fell on their side that they know I'd only be too happy to take off their hands!

Yesterday I was busy trying to get back on my feet from an ornery touch of bronchitis. The doorbell rang and lo and behold, a dear woman who's two children were students of mine was standing at my door - 5 gallon-bucket in hand - loaded with iris bulbs! (uh, for those of you in-the-know... an iris is really not a bulb, it's a rhizome...but I digress)

Her husband is Mr. Iris Man and has hundreds of them growing in their charming yard! This wonderful woman works at school with me and every so often I'll ask about Tony and his irises and she'll bring me up-to-date on his ventures. Well, here she was - sharing these gorgeous flowers with me!!! I only wish I had been up and at the door when she came by (I was planted in bed). So today I was digging in my gardens and making new homes for these beauties! I can not wait to see their splendor when bloom time comes!! What a wonderful, kind, generous, unexpected surprise!

So today, I decided to make an indulgent 'thank you' for my neighbor and friend for their kindness and generousity.

Homemade lemon curd!

Now, before you go wrinkling up your nose, let me explain. The 'lemon curd' that one finds in a jar in the store is SOOOO NOT what lemon curd is all about! That stuff is NA-STY! And if you have some in your fridge, get rid of it!! Here's the recipe I use for the real deal... tart, tangy, sweet and creamy! The best way that I can describe it is like this... Do you like Lemon Meringue Pie?? Well.... this is like the lemon filling...only a touch more creamier! Trust me.... you'll be spooning this out of the jar! It's wonderful on scones, toast, biscuits, english muffins, etc.. or.. like I said... straight! So indulge yourself!

Lemon Curd

3 large egg yolks
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan.
Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon - making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon - 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, sitrring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl (or into individual jars for giving - I used canning jars). Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface fof the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 2 days (although, if there is any left over after 2 days, I have found it lasts for almost a week). Makes 1 1/2 cups.

I doubled this recipe today and it works beautifully.
May an unexpected gift find its way to you this week - and may joy be your companion!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside,

somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.

Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be

and that God wishes to see people happy,

amidst the simple beauty of nature.

- Anne Frank