Sunday, June 29, 2008

Muffins and Mimosas

Can you still call it a garden party if it's too wet, windy and chilly to actually be outside in the garden? So chilly that I abandoned the idea of serving mimosas and went with hot chocolate, tea and coffee instead. There were muffins, of the blueberry and banana walnut variety. I do love typing the word banana. Banana, banana, banana. As well as buttermilk scones from Baking With Julia. There was also lively conversation and much laughter. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. The unpleasant weather did prevent us from being out of doors, but my new couch has a floral print so I'm calling it a garden party anyway. Joining me for my second annual celebration of the yard looks pretty good so let's show it off now are, standing, Nancy, Janet and Janet, and seated, Elizabeth, Sue, Sandy, and KD. Below is a similar shot including me when KD hopped up to take over camera duties. Thanks ladies! Maybe next year we need to have a little "meeting" the day before to ensure better weather.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Down Under

When an old appliance makes way for a new one, the old one must be moved from its place. Which means you get to find out what is lurking under there since last time you cleaned. Whenever that was. Being a casual housekeeper, which means that I'm really very good at cleaning and I really don't mind it, but there are always much more interesting things to do that distract me. My mother taught me well but I don't keep to a strict schedule of certain tasks that must be done on a regular basis or some sort of wrath will befall the negligent lady of the house. Like unexpected company will arrive and the silver won't be polished and you'll be completely mortified that your slovenly ways have been revealed. I maintain that anyone who is of drop-by-without-warning status already is aware of how I live and loves me anyway. On the other hand, if one of the Dutch aunties was to show up with her white gloves in hand and you better believe she knows how to use them, I would hate to ruin her fun by having the place completely spic & span. I aims to please! Just as any good hostess does. All I know is, this is what I found under the old stove yesterday afternoon.

7 plastic bottle caps of various colors and sizes
1 wine bottle cork
1 bright pink Christmas light
1 small orange smiley face super ball
Numerous greasy dust bunnies
Pretzel shards
Chex cereal of undetermined variety

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Old Range

Normally, I don't become attached to household appliances. But I had a real relationship with my range. The meals we cooked together! Twenty-two years of holiday cooking and baking! The birthday cakes and Christmas cookies. The pies. The everyday fare such as tuna noodle casserole and frozen chicken tenders. Lasagna. Soup simmered over the course of a long winter day. Scrambled eggs and French toast and bacon on weekend mornings. Teaching the boys the rudimentary cooking skills involving grilled cheese sandwiches and making mini pizzas on bagels. She went out the back door today strapped to the same appliance cart that brought in the new range. The twin oven Maytag Gemini. All electronic controls and that lovely, smooth cooktop. I look forward to the meals we shall cook together. All I did tonight was heat up some leftover pizza in the smaller top oven. And play with the timer and set the clock. All this without bothering to open up the instruction manual. I miss the familiarity of the old stove but I won't miss the failing thermostat that caused me of late to scorch cookies and set off the smoke alarm. I expect that soon I'll be just as familiar with the new one.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let's Play Tag!

La Guera tagged me!

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?:

Let’s see, I was approaching my 41st birthday, my sons were 10 and 6, which means their lives and activities pretty much ruled my life. The most interesting thing about pondering my life ten years hence is that at that time I had not an inkling that my life today would find me divorced, happier than I thought it was possible to be and smarter by far due to the difficulties in between then and now

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?:

* Piles, I mean PILES, of laundry

* Call the clinic and make a dr appointment

* Work with 16yo son on the next phase of room cleaning

* Make significant progress on sewing the new living room curtains

* Find artwork for third tattoo

3) Snacks I enjoy:

* Planter’s Golden Trail Mix

* Roasted lightly salted almonds. I know, the raw ones are healthier, but where’s the joy?

* Golden Oreos

* Pepperidge Farm mini brown sugar cinnamon bagels

* Starbucks vanilla latte granola bars

4) Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

Travel. Have homes in exotic locales. Establish a college scholarship fund. Act locally, like make sure no child in my community goes to bed hungry. Support the arts. Give money to Public Broadcasting much more often. Buy my mom a house complete with staff to care for her needs. Get together with my sister more often. Get my novel published even if I have to buy a publishing company. Then write more. In a move to assuage my Scandinavian guilt, I would pay off the mortgage on my ex-husband’s house.

5) Places I have lived:

* Denver, CO

* Las Vegas, NV

* Minneapolis, MN

* Petal, MS

* Williston and Grafton, ND

* Brookings, SD

6) Jobs that I have had:

* Lab Tech in a seed testing company

* Clipping Bureau Mgr. for the SD Newspaper Association

* Pizza cook and delivery driver

* Retail clerk

* Waitress

7) People I want to Know more about:

I’m sorry that I can only come up with one! Most of the blogs I read are written by people I already know pretty well. Maggie Mason writes a number of blogs that I enjoy, and I don’t know her at all! My friend Colleen is her cousin and loaned me her book, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch, 100 Ideas for Your Blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rare Days

James Russell Lowell spoke of them so eloquently, rare days in June, perfect days. And this entire weekend has been perfect, weatherwise at least. Upper seventies for temperature, light breezes, sunny skies with high, friendly clouds. I've finally had to water my deck pots! We've had several days in a row with no significant rain. Which also means the sump pump has stopped cycling every few minutes as it has for nearly two solid weeks. That means the water table has reverted to normal and until rain sets in again, I can rest easy at night without nightmares of a flooded basement. Other signs of summer include the fact that we are smack in the middle of strawberry season. Friday afternoon I purchased a four pound pack of enormous, gorgeous, fragrant fresh strawberries. Between the 16yo and me we polished them off in just over 24 hours. Mmmm. They're just a memory now and I'm happy to report they came in a recyclable container. I have a few summer projects to accomplish around the house. Most of them involve long overdue cleaning and organizing of much neglected corners. Last summer when I painted nearly all the interior of the house I had a tendency to clean as I went. As a room was painted, only appropriate items were returned to the newly freshened space. Which means a tremendous amount of displaced stuff ended up just getting pushed and poked into the couple of rooms that didn't get painted. So I've been very productive with restoring these spaces to order. One of these spaces is my younger son's bedroom. Which I have allowed him to neglect for much too long. Various corners of the room have been cleaned, organized, dusted and vacuumed at one time or another over the last two years, but the entire room, I am chagrined to admit, has not been completely cleaned for more than that long. So far the cleaning of his room has been pretty manageable, we seem to agree for the most part on what must go and what can be kept. If an item is to be kept, a place must be expressly designated for it to be. And the middle of the floor doesn't count as a proper storage space. Not any more, anyway. And it's difficult to focus on indoor cleaning projects when a rare June day is unfolding outside. Good thing we have two more months. I have a feeling it will take at least that long.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


There are ever so many descriptive terms for the male parts. Just now I was considering specifically the pair of parts behind the one that gets all of the attention. If we wish to be technical and correct, we would refer to them as the testes or testicles. Perhaps the funniest name for them I have ever heard is weeniecheeks. This particular word came about when the 5 yo son of acquaintances bent over to examine his equipment. He gleefully exclaimed, "Dad! My weenie has cheeks!" Aside from the commonplace references such as balls or nuts, there is the term mutorcs, which is scrotum spelled backwards. Recently I heard two new ones, at least, they were new to me. Appropriately enough, I became aware of these anatomical references while watching Grey's Anatomy. Pouch potatoes. Mantaloupes. And who can forget the old standbys, family jewels, nads, bean bag and cahones. It just occurred to me how frightfully fitting this subject is for fathers' day. And even though this might be the perfect time to take up the boxers or briefs debate...I believe enough has been said.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Goodbye Hammock, Hello Swing

A few weeks ago I took a gentle, experimental sit in the hammock. The five year old cotton hammock that stayed outside this last winter. It creaked and protested while I laid back and examined the new growth and tiny pine cones above me. Later that afternoon the 16yo bounded out into the yard and took his usual dive into the hammock. The south end of said hammock disintegrated and he landed on his butt with a thud and a loud OW!! that resounded through the neighborhood. Fortunately, the ground under the hammock is spongy and soft, rather forest floor like. He good naturedly held the pose while I ran in the house to grab my camera. Then he had the entertaining task of dismantling the shredded thing and depositing its remains in the trash. The open spot looked just right for a yard swing. After an average amount of swearing and tooth-gnashing, dropping tools in the grass and correctly identifying various pieces of hardware in little plastic bags, the swing is assembled. Due to rain, more rain, other yardwork that took precedence, and still more rain, the entire process took over three weeks. The 16 yo has been admonished that the swing is meant to be sat on in a civilized and decorous manner. No diving.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Persistant Questions

I have dozens of them. I like to drop them into the conversation at a social gathering, kind of an ice-breaker around the table when I don't know all the people seated with me. Sometimes it's an ice-breaker. Sometimes one of these questions brings the conversation to a grinding halt, never to be recovered. Sometimes people get up and leave. Sometimes, and this is the desired effect, interesting ideas are exchanged and I have made some new friends. For your thoughtful perusal, here are three of them. If you don't have an answer, consult Guy Noir.

1. How many cats does a woman have to own in order to be considered a "crazy old cat lady"? I have had answers ranging from a simple, emphatic numerical response to being asked counter questions, such as, is the age of the woman an actual factor.

2. How many musicians must a woman sleep with in order to be considered a groupie? The best answer I've ever had for this one was uttered by the CPPR just over a year ago. He said, one. But the guy has to have a major label recording contract.

3. Why is it that a sexually confident, perhaps even aggressive, man who has, shall we say, many notches in his bedpost, is referred to as a stud. A complimentary term. While a woman of similar demeanor is called a slut. A disparaging term. It is interesting to note that there is a mere one letter difference in the spelling of these words. I have, to date, never received a satisfying answer to this one. Although it frequently leads to interesting arguments involving our society and gender roles.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grillin' in the Rain

It's fun to watch the raindrops hiss as they fall on the grill cover. A little evening warm front shower doesn't stop this Grillin' Goddess from getting dinner on the table. And this was the menu at our house tonight:

Salmon - Grilled to perfection after being marinated in pineapple juice, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and a generous grind of black pepper.

Broccoli - Steamed to a brilliant green and topped with lemon butter.

Basmati Rice - Simmered in chicken broth with butter and a finely diced onion.

Irish Soda Bread - From Baking With Julia, traditionally breakfast fare, but I love it with the evening meal.

The 16yo son had milk with his dinner, I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Bridgeview Blue Moon Oregon Riesling 2006. A little bit of heaven available for ten bucks in a lovely cobalt blue bottle. Best when lightly chilled, which just happens to be the temperature in my basement wine cabinet. Leftovers are packed up for my lunch tomorrow (sans vino) and for the older son who is expected soon to retrieve his clean laundry. I love summer. I love Wednesdays off!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The One That Got Away

Toward the end of my workday this afternoon, as I was leaving the warehouse portion of the building, I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my right eye. I paused for a moment as the metal firedoors closed behind me. Had it been a mouse? Perhaps a spider much larger than those encountered in my worst nightmares? I turned around and opened the door. Peered around the corner. And there he was. A lost looking leopard spotted frog about the size of a tealight candle. He randomly hopped around on the dusty concrete floor as I watched. Normally I do not harbor warm feelings toward frogs but this one got to me. Concrete floors and steel warehouse racks are not the natural habitat for amphibians, he faced certain demise unless removed. I scooped him up and carried him outside. He sat so quietly cupped in my hands. I set him free in the grass on the other side of the parking lot. He hopped off and disappeared. I noted the birds flying overhead and thought about how any one of them might find my little frog buddy a tasty little treat. I had rescued froggy from certain death in a foreign environment to a likely death in his natural environment. I walked back toward the building to finish up a few little tasks before leaving for the day. Once inside the door I experienced a moment of revelation and clarity. Damn! I should have kissed the little bugger! Fate tosses a perfectly fine frog in my direction and I don't bother to lay a little lip-lock on him before setting him free! Then again, at this point in my life I've kissed enough frogs, thank you ever so much. He sure was cute, though.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It's here. Slow and grudging has been her arrival, but at last, summer is here. The lilacs in my backyard are in the midst of a riotous bloom. They're late, like everything else, most years their fragrant blossoms are long since gone by the first week of June. June? Feels a little odd because it's barely over a month since the last time I shoveled show from the driveway and sidewalk. And I realize I have this nagging little feeling I almost always have this time of year. Like I want to freeze-frame this day so it never ends. The cool afternoon rain that cleared into a glorious, sun-drenched evening. The smell of brats cooking on the grill. Having the windows open to the fresh breeze. Wearing sandals. Sitting out on the deck in my jammies and drinking that first cup of coffee. School's out and work is a very manageable 20-25 hours a week. I feel like the next three months are positively loaded with possibilities. Even though it's not likely I'll wander much farther than my own backyard. Which is okay. This summer, I have a feeling the adventure will come to me. Like a butterfly. I'll have to sit still just long enough for it to light on my shoulder. Having learned the virtues of how to be still, finding that balance between rushing off headlong into life when necessary and appreciating the joy of the quiet inside at other times is a blessing. I don't really need to freeze-frame this rare, nearly perfect June day. I just need to revel in it while it's here.