Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The First Red Tree

When I went out to get my paper the other morning, one of our small maple trees had turned a brilliant red.  It was a beautiful contrast to the other trees, even on an overcast day.

 This one is taken from the other side of the wall with the gate in it.  Maybe my view of a small tree is a little biased.
 Aren't the clouds in this sky nice?  Even better than the color of the trees.
 Yes, I was right.  The maple is a small tree.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Garden Tuesday: The Beginning of Fall

Last Saturday, as I walked to the street to retrieve my local paper and Wall Street Journal., I found to my delight that the cluster of white pines next to the street had shed its needles, covering the ground with one of my favorite things.  I've always loved soft, warm pine needles, and I've been enjoying them all week.

Of course, this is just the beginning of autumn's color change ritual, but it's an often overlooked part. It's been quite cool this week: starting to feel like the cold weather will come....soon.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


For 10 days, through last week, I had the ever charming Maddie and her little brother, affectionately called "5" by his uncles, while my son went to Nova Scotia for a symposium or meeting or something-or-other (I try not to remember; he's always busy) and then a couple of days down-time.  "Of course I'll keep the little ones!" You all can just hear me saying that, right?  Yeah, and they're planning another visit to Camp Grandparents in January.  Fun, fun.

Talking to her brother.  It looks like he's sharing the Cheerios, but, trust me, nothing could be farther from the truth.  He's just barely allowed to look at her.
 Brushing her hair with her great-great-great grandmother's brush.  This is actually a sterling clothing brush from around 1900, but the bristles are so soft that with a little shampoo, it was perfect for baby hair brushing.
 And while Little Miss brought her own toys, and had some of ours, she ultimately found Grandma's toys in the cupboard.  They make a great tower, don't you think?  Grandma was really unreasonable and wouldn't let Maddie play with the glass jar of marinated artichoke hearts; she mumbled stupid things like "Oh, that can break."  Stupid Grandma.

And, last weekend the girls and I threw a baby shower for Erin, the bride from about 7 years back.  Her baby is actually due on my birthday, but since it's supposed to be a boy, they won't be naming it after me if he arrives on his due date.  I can live with that.  To be fair, when I say we threw a baby shower, I mean that I paid, and made the favors, and the girls did about everything else.  The theme was dinosaurs, and look at this wonderful dinosaur nest, complete with eggs, that Shannon made!

So, I'm going to try to get back here more often; I'm even trying to figure out how to cook for only 3 people, without too much in the way of leftovers.  The jury's still out on my success there.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Garden Tuesday: Hydrangea

When we got here, there was one large, beautiful hydrangea in a corner in front of the house.  It has gotten bigger despite our efforts to keep it trimmed and marginally under control...

A few years back, an early snowstorm took down two of our giant arbor vitae near the hydrangea.  We had our tree guy stand them back up; he installed guy wires to hold them in place, and fertilized the tarnation out of them.  They thrived, and so did the hydrangea.

2 weeks ago, this was the hydrangea, having taken on a little bit of a pink tinge....

And this morning, the fertilizer which had migrated from the arbor vitae has done its job, and really added some vivid color to the hydrangea; it's even brighter in person.  I don't know why the camera washed it out.

So, the early fall here is starting out pretty.  We'll have to see how the leaves go (and the colors should be great because it's been a very wet year), and see if we get the "promised" rough winter.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11, 2001

16 years ago was the third attack upon American soil since our great nation was founded (The War of 1812's invasion of Washington by the British, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11). Today, our hearts are with those who survived the collapse of the Twin Towers, and with the families of those who were lost in the Towers, the Pentagon, and especially on the 3 jet liners. Our gratitude to the families of the passengers on the fourth jet, who bravely took over and crashed that plane to save our nation's capital from further destruction. We will never forget.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"You Do You!"

Both Mark and Cass said that to me on the same day last week; first time I'd heard it.  I don't recall why Mark said it.  But I do remember why Cass was encouraging me.

The guest half bath here is absurdly tiny.  It's 4 by 3.  That's right: 12 square feet.  And it's always looked marginal, at best.  So we bought fixtures last October to renovate that half bath, but I refused to move forward, because the heat would have to be shut off for however long it took, and I wasn't fine with that in November.  Call me crazy, but I want heat when the nights are below 40 degrees.

So a guy finally came in to start this project 2 weeks ago.  He isn't a slacker, it's just that hard to get anything done in this house.  Start with jackhammering the floor to change the water lines and drainage, and you get the idea of the scope of this stupid 12 square foot project.  42 other little things went wrong, too, and before you knew it, it took 3 weeks.  Then my dearly beloved was telling him to paint the whole room white.  I told him not to paint at all; I'd take care of it.  Then I painted the outside wall....emerald green.  Dearly Beloved was not best pleased when I started down this road, in the semi-dark, at 7PM, while the light fixtures were still off the wall.  But Cass said, "You do you, Momma Bear!"  And the next day, in broad daylight, with cream walls and white trim, I got unanimous votes of confidence.  Even Mark told me, "Ignore Dad, because it looks really good."

And I was so pleased by that endeavor, I had the same guy take out 27 cracked tiles in my kitchen floor; he started today, and will be replacing them tomorrow.  Sounds like a good excuse for takeout to me.

Happy Wednesday, everyone, and when in doubt, take the advice of Cass and Mark: "You do you!"

Monday, August 28, 2017

Blue Monday

On Friday, we took Mark to Philadelphia; he moved into his dorm a day early, with the understanding that he would help others on Saturday, the official move-in day.

This hit me really hard.  Yes, I know I've sent 8 other kids off to college, but this is my baby.  There are no more children behind him.  This is a really bittersweet time for us.

Cass lives less than 4 miles down the road from Mark's college, so she came to help settle him in and cheer him on (and she took him to Target on Sunday to get a couple of things he had forgotten....what a girl!).

There is a huge oak tree right outside his window, which makes his room really pleasant; you can see it behind us.   Cass talked him into moving the beds around (he needs the extra long bed, which is a special request) so he had the "better" side of the room; we set up his bed, put his mug on his shelf, and set off for lunch.

Mark's not much of a talker; still, it's awfully quiet around here.  And I really don't know how to cook for only 2 or 3 people.  My dearly beloved might find himself eating leftovers until I get this worked out.  Meanwhile, it's a blue Monday here in our little corner of the world, as our baby starts on the rest of his life.

Hope you're all enjoying this last Monday in August!

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Eclipse Day!

So, we are nowhere near the total eclipse, but I didn't care.  I ordered the package of genuine eclipse glasses months ago, and we all wandered in and out to watch it.  I even took a couple of great blob pictures with my new, spiffy cell phone (yes, it's sad, but I can no longer say that my phone doesn't take pictures...I still claim it does nothing else).  Of course, the phone wore the eclipse glasses when it took a turn looking at the sky.

It was a little cloudy here, but that's OK. I'm just happy that I got to enjoy it with people I love.  And I'm going to make an eclipse cake tonight to celebrate!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Watermelon Day

I heard from a friend yesterday that August 3 is National Watermelon Day, and, of course, I couldn't let the day go by without celebrating.  Now, as far as I'm concerned, every day can be watermelon day. So Mark brought one back from the supermarket.  This is 1/4 of it; the color was washed out, but it tasted better than it looked.  And I plan to finish it off today, with or without help from my menfolk.

I am really disappointed that we can't get giant watermelons here any more; Dan brought 4 up in his car trunk the first week of July, and I'm not ashamed to say that we consumed them all.  It was a darn good time.

So....does everyone else find only the dinky little watermelons in their stores?  Or can you still find the giant wonderfully juicy and flavorful ones?

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Garden Tuesday

There haven't been many Garden Tuesdays this year.  Oh, sure, we had Blizzard Garden Tuesday, but other than that, I've been pretty slack.

So, when I went down to West Chester for my daughter's baby shower, her husband had two 2' high pillars for me; a couple of guys loaded them into my car to take home.  Let me be clear: only one would fit in the trunk.  They had to drive the front passenger's seat all the way forward to stuff the second one in behind it.  And that's in a Lincoln Town Car.  Good thing I insist on driving those big ol' gas guzzlers, or these suckers would still be sitting around 130 miles south of here.

Anyway, after I figured out that I wanted them on my back porch, and bought bowls to set atop them, Shannon went out and bought flowers to plant in said bowls.  9 weeks later, they're still blooming, and have filled in a lot.

Good thing we have a real gardener in our midst, or my pillars would just look silly!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  And Happy August.  I hope you're enjoying your summer weather!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Independence Day at the Lake

We went to our friend's lake cottage in Connecticut for the 4th of July, along with many of the kids.  Don't get too jealous about us being all fancy and whatnot; I don't think this lake is a lot bigger than my yard.  But with good food and good friends, it was fun.

So, Greg had this sign posted inside the cottage (which, by the way, is about 15'x20', with no heat, so it's a true cottage).  I thought I should see how many of the Lake Rules we collectively could meet.
Obviously, We got one right off: Take pictures!

Sit by the fire....check!
 Read a book.....check!
 Eat too much....check!  (Especially when it's New England Steamers!)
 Make memories....Check! With my darling Maddie and my dearly beloved!
 Take a nap....check!
 Take a boat ride....check!  And be towed in the tube behind the boat, preparing to be dumped out...
Study these carefully; the first one is Tank looking at Jeffrey and the tennis ball...
 ...there he goes....
 ...Flying Shepherd!
 Take a swim...check!
 Make new friends...not on the list, but it should be!

 That's Jeff in the tube.  Tank saw him get in the tube and barked, "Don't worry, Dad!  I'll save you!"
 Ready for that boat ride?  Maddie isn't too sure about being stuffed in this giant pink thing.
 Don't worry about anything....check!
 Play a game....check!
Have fun...check!

So, I'm late with this post, but a great time was had by all.  Happy Tuesday, evernyone!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


The newest member of our family, and the reason Maddie came to stay for 2 weeks:

He is (to borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones) The Fifth of His Name: Michael V.  It's a name 174 years in the making.  III studying little V very carefully.

 Three generations with the same name: III, IV, V.  Our son was absurdly pleased to pass on the name (and I was thrilled, too).
 Both children with parents and grandparents.  The baby looks like he's wondering what that big kid there is doing, while Maddie just wants to romp and play.
Michael was under 7-1/2 pounds, which is 2 full pounds smaller than his sister, and that thrilled their mama.

So there you have it: the newest member of our family!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!