Wednesday, December 29, 2010

all's well that ends well

all's well that ends well....the saying goes.

in the car on christmas eve, over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house is where and when i fixed my camera. alright, *fixed* is a relative term.....but it's working again--just in time:)

so do you ever push buttons? and make things worse? is that your intention? it wasn't mine. yeah, i'm talking about cameras and perhaps, other people. hmmmmm? you know, pushing buttons, stirring the pot.

the boys are off school and big red has the week off. i'm loving it. mostly;) i haven't even had a bit of sniffles in over four years....and wouldn't you know it, i have a full-blown nasty cold this week. this morning, i awoke with the voice of a dude or a 40-year smoker. awesome. red's calling me *madge*. but i have all i need right here, right now....and the cold will disappear in a few days. just here to slow down the pace of the season, which does go all too quickly.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

hoping for a christmas miracle

now i did it.

i took this last picture of true and wanted to adjust the camera a bit. that's all.

but then, the camera began acting all odd.

so, i twirled every dial. and pushed every button.

some--maybe 47 times.

and now my camera is acting all weird and making beeping sounds. like it's gonna' back-up.


just in time for the holidays.


so, if you need me. i'll be in the other room with my head in the camera manual-- hoping for a christmas miracle.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

for anytime or all the time

i've mentioned in previous posts that i am not a baker. however, there is one recipe that even I, cannot mess up. trust me. i (with the help of our youngest) have baked 18 loaves and counting of this yummy-scrummy chocolate chip pumpkin bread since the wednesday before thanksgiving.

my dear friend and former neighbor would bring this to us every once and awhile. she also would bring us cake*pops*, cookies, soup. i miss her living so close....and i miss her cooking for us.

a few months after she and her family moved back to california, i made cookies. all by myself--they were pretty good too. when the boys came home from school i had them sitting on a plate with ice-cold milk. guess who made you cookies? the boys guessed amy. all the way from california. c'mon.

so here's her recipe:
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
*mix above ingredients in large bowl.
add following ingredients--mix:
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
1 c. oil
1 small can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 (6 oz) pkg. chocolate chips
*grease loaf pans w/crisco. bake at 350degrees for:
1 hour for 4 small loaf pans
or 1 1/2 hours for 2 large loaf pans
let cool a few minutes, then turn out on rack.

i've made a teeny-tiny adjustment out of the idea i could make this a teeny-tiny bit healthier. i substitute 1/2 cup applesauce in place of 1/2 cup of oil. i still use a 1/2 oil. you could skip the chocolate chips. i've thought about doing it....but, i'm scared. what happens to people who pass on chocolate? it can't be good. ;)

p.s. you can move back here amy. that photo at the top of the page--it's from miami or bangladesh. not michigan. not even my backyard.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

what i asked for....

i have a confession: this weekend i made my first turkey dinner--complete with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. yep, my very first. ever.

when dreaming about christmas this year and my intentions for the holidays, i realized that i truly have everything i could ever want, materially. perhaps, even more than i really want. new gadgets don't make my skirt fly up or curl my toes in the way they to do for some people. and i have plenty of sweaters. however, what i did want was time with those that mean the very most to me--those relationships and doing things--making memories that will last a lifetime.

so after r's basketball game (which they won in double overtime....phew, that was exciting!!!!) my folks headed back to our house. they were coming to teach and supervise their turkey making recipe and methods (tent-foil steam roasted, just like my grandparents used to do. i swear, my dad looked so much like my grandpa folding the aluminum foil so precisely--very engineer-like). i followed all directions. with hardly any back-talk;) really--you measure the celery and onions? really? this much butta'?

r played board games with my folks and won *legitimately*--says my dad, while big red and i hand-washed the china.

what a fun and sweet and lovely night. we also decorated one gingerbread house and made two kinds of cookies. alright, the cookies were from an envelope mix--because really the fun is in the rolling out, shape making and decorating. well--b says it's in the *eating*.

later we caught the last hour of "it's a wonderful life". and, you know, it really is.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

our family tree

i changed my header photo. it is from our big christmas tree.

it is so much how i feel at christmas--bright and happy and nostalgic.

that stripe-y ornament is from my grandparent's. not just from them--but from the trees they had each year. i'm pretty sure it is from the 1930's.

the turquoise bulb is straight from my own parent's very groovy silver aluminum tree. that tree had it's own rotating light wheel that would cast red, blue, yellow on the tree--and for a brief few seconds the yellow would become green and the blue would turn all violet before turning red. those turquoise, magenta and purple balls are all circa 1962. i remember sprawling out on the floor staring into that light wheel, while listening to my dad's christmas records on the stereo.
this is probably the last year we had that groovy tree--1972. (it says so on the back of the photo. it also says i am 5 years 4 months) and maybe, the last year my mom had that totally remarkable hair. i can almost smell the "adorn" hairspray. my mom wasn't in many of my childhood photographs. she did most of the picture-taking. well, because as you can see my dad did not count or give us any warning to smile or anything. i think my mom is telling my little sister and i to say....*cheese*. i'm pretty sure my mom doesn't show up again in a photo until the early 1980's. in those days, the self-photograph wasn't so common. but i digress.

and then there are the ones we--big red and i have collected. all together on one tree. traditional christmas--passed from one generation to the next.

i love this family tree of ours.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

abundant gratitude

100. 100 things. last but not least. the woman, the book and page that started my gratitude journey.

100. "simple abundance: a daybook of comfort and joy" by sarah ban breathnach.
i love this book. it is a book of days, a return to the basic, simple abundance in our lives. a gift in 1996....and ever since.
january 14th is the page that changed my life. seriously. i've kept a gratitude journal since 1996. that's a long time. part of that time, my journal was typed out--online, part handwritten--in books.

at a women's retreat that year--1996, i led a session on gratitude journals.
this is the journal from that weekend. i know when that retreat was from the journal entries tucked inside. so much has happened in fourteen years.

it's funny, i'm still most grateful for the same things now as I was then--plus another son to love.


Monday, November 29, 2010

attitude of gratitude

i am thankful for songs and music, painting and sculptures, movies and literature everyday. some days, hard days--they pull me through. do you ever feel that way? and some days, the right song at the right time is like a blessing. a friend loans you a book just when you need it most? i love when that happens. these nine things are like that for me. enjoy. :)

91. jack johnson's song, "better together"....alright, pretty much anything jack johnson's does or is;)
92. dave matthew's song "you might die trying"
93. "night" by elie wiesel

94. mark rothko's painting #24
95. the sound of music with julie andrews
96. "wonder" by natalie merchant
97. any book or story by anne lamont
98. genesis 1
99. genesis 2


Friday, November 26, 2010

accessible thanksgiving

continuing on--as for me, thanksgiving is so much more than a day in november. it's a mind-set--a way of life. i am grateful for:
    81. libraries
    82. hospitals83. parks
    84. schools
    85. art museums
    86. police and fire stations
    87. theaters
    88. places of worship
    89. community gardens
    90. post offices


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


the pineapple was not cooperative.

that's pretty much all i have to say about that cornucopia of fruit.

r and i baked. the one thing i can bake. the one thing that always turns out pretty and yummy. it's a thanksgiving miracle every year. i am thankful.

so we're busily cooking and baking.

tonight we'll watch "a charlie brown thanksgiving". we loooooove charlie brown in this house. i will pull for charlie brown. and will be mad at lucy. again.

when r heads to bed, big red, b and i will watch "planes, trains and automobiles".
i love that movie. it's steve martin and john candy. what's not to love? here's a clip. steve martin's character, neal is just trying to get home for thanksgiving with his family when he finds himself stuck with del, john candy's character.
big red and i try to watch this every year. it's perfect while waiting for stuff to come out of the oven.

i'll be back with more of my 100 the days ahead.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

you made the list

i am grateful for so many people. people i know personally--and people i've never met. my guess? you will see yourself on my list. alright, look for yourself.

51. people who show up in life
52. people who speak what is kind and true
53. people who work late into the night while the rest of us sleep
54. people who risk everything for someone else
55. people who play hard
56. people who never give up
57. people who ask for forgiveness
58. people who give with a warm hand
59. people who love unconditionally
60. people who listen
61. people who think before speaking
62. people who stand for something
63. people who dream big
64. people who see the best in others
65. people who do things i cannot
66. people who make it look easy
67. people who struggle through
68. people who step up
69. people who love deeply
70. people who make me want to be a better me
71. people willing to make the hard choices
72. people who do the right thing
73. people who write or sing or dance or paint or strum with abandon
74. people who recognize when they've made a mistake
75. people who are an open-minded
76. people who wear their heart on their sleeve
77. people who are patient
78. people who never leave anyone behind
79. people who respect themselves
80. people who understand a bigger picture
told you. :)


Monday, November 22, 2010

abundance of thanksgiving

the gratitude continues--what i am thankful for. the next 40 things on my list,in no particular order, outside of the number attached. ;)

    11. clementines
    12. hand-written notes
    13. sunshine
    14. painting
    15. going barefoot
    16. laughing until you cry
    17. good manners
    18. catching fireflies with my boys
    19. kissing
    20. the sound of waves
    21. the scent of lilacs in may
    22. passion
    23. the kindness of strangers
    24. books that can transport
    25. big red on the 12 string
    26. soup from bones
    27. conversations about the deep important stuff
    28. sunsets
    29. sleeping with the windows open
    30. holding hands
    31. good big ideas
    32. finding money in your pocket
    33. friendliness
    34. the deep love and friendship between our sons
    35. birds singing
    36. scarves and cozy mittens
    37. photographs and moments in time captured forever
    38. celebrating the big and little things
    39. forgiveness
    40. sincere compliments
    41. a happy childhood
    42. cheering for our sons from the sidelines
    43. my creative space
    44. coloring outside the lines
    45. playing for keeps
    46. one-on-one time
    47. evening walks
    48. coffee on the patio
    49. candlelit spaces
    50. pie

p.s. doing this on a grey monday morning? best. thing. ever. it's like a little dose of happiness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

keeping lists

it's that time of year.

that time to begin the list.

no--not who's been naughty and who's been nice.

the other list--everyone here makes one.

i encourage all the boys to make it as long as possible.

100 things or more.

it's probably the only list i'm pretty good at keeping.

i almost never write a to-do list or grocery list (which surprisingly doesn't always work out so well). i suppose there are many other kinds of lists too. i wouldn't really know.

so today i'll start mine, just the first 10 things.

100 things i am grateful for:

1. my sweet life
2. getting to do life with big red
3. being momma to my two most favorite spirited boys
4. my parents are still so much in our lives
5. memories of my wonderful grandparents
6. our adorable kitties--indie and true
7. a soft, safe spot to call home
8. my dear friends
9. finding joy everyday
10. a little idea from a book 14 years ago

so? want to join me? write your first 10 things? just 10.


Monday, November 15, 2010

the best-laid plans

i'm sort of exhausted. spent.

it was quite an unusual week.

nothing really went as planned.

even when i planned on things not going well. they went in a totally unexpected direction. i thought that by planning for the sucker-punch i would avoid the sucker-punch. nope. didn't even see the frying pan above my head.

trying to help--got, the b in the most trouble.

sorry b. totally my fault.

i don't text. well, i don't text often and usually b helps me. but, wednesday....i did it.

i texted b at school--i swear i thought it was between classes. nope. guess who had to turn his phone into the principal's office and now has to serve detention? truth be told--he wasn't even a little bit mad. he thought it was funny. somehow, i wonder if this will come back later and bite me? i should probably plan on that. ;)


Monday, November 8, 2010

we name the things we love

in case anyone's wondering, my favorite girl names currently are:

genevieve and vivianne.

daphne and phoebe.

lucy and polly.

amelie and claire.

for boys, outside of my own two sons' names:

benjamin and abraham.

oscar and theo.

august and oliver.

gage and roman.

just in case you are wondering. or need help in naming a baby. you are welcome;)
but, i'm not having a baby. and i don't forsee any more kitties in our future for some long time, but i love naming things.

my dear friend, the pretty penny, will be a grandma within days. maybe just hours. she is beyond happy happy happy.

isn't it the best seeing those you love splitting themselves wide open with love and happiness?

i wanted to name this new little person--her daughter's new baby, but stranglely, they want to name the baby themselves. can you imagine? :)

so, i am now lobbying hard to name the shiny new baby's grandma. i'm hoping they all agree to *panana* because we name the things we love.

if you like to share your favorite names right now....i'll totally indulge you. i can talk names all. day. long. :)


Thursday, November 4, 2010


i kept the name of this blog for a long time to myself....kept it close to my heart. though in the early days, i wasn't sure what it meant and what i should do with it. i repeated it over and over for months....maybe over a year. i'm not exactly sure when it first came to me. i think i may have dreamt it. or was it whispered in my ear? then i began to turn it over again and again. and i realized it was something.

well, i'm going to break this post into more bite-size pieces.

the apples part is multi-layered.

for me, apples are a symbol. what do you think of?


i think of lots of things, but mostly i think of my grandma. my grandma had the most generous spirit i've ever known. and when i think of the life she had, i have to wonder where that generosity of spirit came from.

i think of the first time i cut myself cooking was with her. making apple pies.
i think of the canned applesauce with cinnamon that she and my gramps would make each fall.

i think of her baked and fried apples.

years ago, the fall after my dear gramps died, my gram was living alone in an assisted living apartment not far from our little place. she had a teeny-tiny kitchen with a one-burner cooktop. most of her meals were in the community dining room--she was an amazing cook (i know *amazing* gets overused....but i'm not sure any other word works here)
the food in the dining room was tolerable. not awful, but not great. she never complained and would always find something to compliment. ::bless her::
i was having a family dinner at our home. big red picked up gram, who had a big tupperware bowl of fried apples in tow. she had helped herself to a few apples at a time from the fruit bowl in the apartment lobby for days. she had plenty of sugar packets (at one time, i think all grandmas had lots of sugar packets). she saved the butter pads at each meal. so, with a little cinnamon from her own tiny cupboard had made sticky caramel-y fried apples to share with us--potluck style.
after dinner, there was a little bit of fried apple left. she carefully slid them into a smaller container and placed them in my fridge.

a couple days later i chatted with her on the phone, i had just returned from getting a christmas photo of our oldest(then only 2 1/2 years). we talked about regular stuff, but she told me her vision had returned.

hold the horses.

my grandma had lost vision in one eye years ago, following the delivery of a stillborn baby boy in 1949. she had surgery in 1980, but that had not been successful.

my parents were at her place when i had called so i kept the conversation short.

early the next morning my mom called from the hospital--i should come right away. but, it was too late. grandma had died--a heart attack.

(this is where i always cry....still. 14 years later)
after coming home from the hospital where they pronounced her dead and where i last stroked her soft soft soft pale grey hair, i opened the fridge. there in the back was the little bowl of apples.
i ate them slowly. crying.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

melancholy yet hopeful

mid-term elections today. i will be sure to vote. big red has already returned from the polls.

my grandma worked the voting centers when i was a little girl. my grandpa would drive her to the school early in the morning and pick her up late. (they had just the one car)

my favorite shirt as a kid, was a sweatshirt with the word *vote* printed across the chest in red, white and blue. a hand-me-down, for sure, probably from one of my cousins.

i remember the last mid-term election day, clearly-- probably better than most everyone else. it wasn't november 2nd, it was november 7, 2006. i can tell you what i was wearing, what i ate and what was on oprah. no, i wasn't running for a seat in any county that day.

my boys had a half day of school--we went out to lunch (taco bell) and did a little shopping. i wore jeans and a long sleeved grey t-shirt and my brand new coat, a black and cream houndstooth. both boys needed new basketball shoes. we were going to head to the outlet mall not far from home after lunch. but, i felt like going home. i didn't want to head to the outlet--we returned home. oprah had the cast of *bobby* on. i teared up a bit when they talked about the kennedy brothers.

then the phone rang.

and life changed.

my parents were returning home from visiting my aunt in the hospital--she had had surgery a few days before. my dad wanted to get home in time to vote. on a two lane road another driver, crossed the center lane and hit my parents car head-on. the other driver, ripped the entire driver's side of the car off--the side where my 6'6" dad sat.

my dad didn't vote that mid-term. he was revived in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and had emergency surgery that day. he received 26 units of blood within the first 24 hours and had a bruised heart and lung, 7 cracked ribs, his pelvis was broke in 2 places in front and 3 in the back. his spleen was cracked and removed, as was part of his stomach. he had a deep and wide laceration on his neck/jaw and countless scraps and cuts. within a few days all his bruises showed up purple and connected to each other. his entire body was bruised--entire. he remained in a coma for 11 days. his doctors did not smile when talking with us. they referred to him as a very very critical man. i made them use his name.

did the doctors and nurses believe he would live? no, they looked at his hospital bracelet and read his age and knew his injuries and thought his chances were slim.

when i ran into the hospital that afternoon, i was still wearing my * i voted* sticker.

i'm feeling a bit melancholy today. i always do on election days, but it doesn't keep me home.

"When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse."--paul hawken


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

why i am allergic to exercise or why my mom is right....again

it is no secret i do not love exercising. well, i don't shout it from the rooftop or anything, but it is general knowledge for those i live with.

i don't like sweating.

i walk, but within the last month or so i started running.

or jogging.

maybe jiggling. whatever.

i am getting my butt in gear and moving.

that was until.....
until i became allergic.
yep, not kidding.

last sunday morning early, big red and i suited up for an early morning workout. complete with gloves and sweatshirts.

and my new jiggling pants.

i think most people would call them *yoga pants* or *exercise pants*. whatever.

at approximately the furthest point from home i had a little itch on the back of my thigh. then more itching. then--so much itching.

upon walking in the door and stripping down to my bloomers--huge welts, raised red splotches. itchy raised splotches.

(please do not *google* red raised rash images. you will be sorry. i seem to forget how sorry i was a couple summers ago when b woke with a blistering case of poison ivy. miserable, that poor boy. i kept checking google images. it'll make your stomach turn. really. don't do it. alright, if you do. i cannot be held responsible--i wash my hands of it all.)

why? why so many raised red itchy splotches?

from my jiggling pants. so, i'm allergic to exercise. i used my superior logic skills to come to this conclusion. i'm smart like that. ;)

what's a girl to do? quit?

i called my mom. thinking she'd hustle to find some yoga-y pants without spandex for me. i think they call those jeans. but, she didn't volunteer to shop with me to find new jeans. (jean shopping is an alone sport--too long and painful for spectators....even moms)
but she volunteered this question: did you wash them before you wore them?

my mom reads all directions. i scan some directions. that is almost the exact same thing. apparently, after washing my rash-inducing jiggling pants (which is what i probably should have done before wearing), i've found they are nice. and comfy. and regular. no rash, no itching, just jiggling--regular. and mom's right....again.


Monday, October 25, 2010

good time

i swear big red really does know how to show a girl a good time. i swear.

big red drove me around our neck of the woods so i could snap some shots of our autumn.

i know, so sweet.

he is smart, that big red.

he stayed near the road, ready to call for help when i realized underneath all this growth may be a basement or cellar--one i could have easily fell into. was it luck or faith that i stayed above ground?
if you look closely, you will see that this is a picture of a long-ago working silo and another building. these farm ruins--beautiful in their own way.

we drove dirt roads and i was sure to collect as many burrs onto my jeans as i could. success.

we ended our date at the cemetery.

shortly before that the light cast long shadows.

you know, cemeteries used to be used more. i mean, we've buried our dead there, but then people would picnic there--hang out, spend the day. does anyone do that anymore? i wonder? why? would you? could you? i think it's kind of lovely. really. this connection to life and death is just but a moment. these old gravestones have me wondering about the people that are buried just feet below. i wondered about the stones that were badly damaged-broke and the words etched so long ago--now illegible.

have their loved ones all moved away? or has everyone that ever knew that person in life passed on, too? still, what a beautiful place to contemplate the big and small of life--the long shadows we all cast in the autumn of our lives. and to show a girl a good time.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

wondering and other stuff going on

what i'm wondering about:

how our little r was wearing size 6 shoes and how he measured a size 7.5? how did i not know that? and how can he be a size 7.5--men's?

i'm wondering if running up and down the stairs 48 times a day is equal to a work-out? say yes, it is. what if i also told you, i am usually carrying a basket of laundry on my hip?

i'm wondering what this praying mantis is thinking?
or if it's thinking at all? r spotted this gal hanging out on the bushes near the house. r has a good eye for bugs and frogs and snakes and turtles. his eye is not so good at spotting laundry baskets and kitchen sinks and his backpack two minutes before leaving for school. ;)

i'm day-dreaming about organized closets....and how i might feel with more space. and i wish the english d would show up and organize my, i mean stuff.

i'm obsessing over shades of grey and cream.
and burlap.
and baker's twine.
and japanese fishing floats.

i'm listening to the baby bells on the kitties' collars.

and this song with dave matthews and tim reynolds. i love love love that song--a song big red has been kicking out right here at home.

i'm craving clementines. clementine season is almost here.

and i'm missing my grandparents.

what are you wondering, day-dreaming, obsessing about? what are you listening to? craving and missing?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


we pulled a name from the baseball hat and the winner is : efenz. congrats. send me your addy and i'll pop the gift card in the mail. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


in the fall we return to the orchard and cider mill just north of our home. it's not the orchard and cider mill of my childhood, but it could have been. i'm sure lots of equipment has been updated and computers are used to track shipments and such but the orchard and cider and donuts? it is my childhood memory come to life.
we would always end up driving a dirt road lined with trees ready to drop their leaves. just like we did this day.

although, i think these might have been tagged *warty pumpkins* not *antique* when i was a little girl. *antique* sells better than *warty* these days.
i am struck as i now watch our son spy each and every pumpkin--looking for the right one for his already decided design. just as i used to do. our little guy decided to wait another day, to pick from the pumpkin patch at the back of the orchard.

remember indian corn? it hasn't changed. though, in some places it is now just referred to as "maize".
remember goats? haven't changed.

as much as the world has changed in the last 20, 30, 40, 50 years--some things stay the same. and i swear that just makes it sweeter.