Sunday, September 25, 2011

They are so Impractical! I can wear them with Nothing!

I adore them.

(Allegria Poloma Mary Janes. In Midnight Garden!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Revelation Through the Haze

My mother always said that I'd be a coffee drinker by my second semester of college. Not so. I probably started drinking more Pepsi at that time of my life. I always enjoyed the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but it just tasted like oven scrapings to me.

No, it wasn't all nighters in college that made me a coffee drinker, it was my third child.

It was Brooks' first year in school full-time. Sophia was just turning four and Ava had just gotten mobile. I needed to clean the house from top to bottom for Sophie's little birthday party with the family. I thought it would be nice to offer coffee for the grandparents to drink with their cake and I remembered a bag of Blue Mountain coffee that I had had in our freezer since our trip to Jamaica a couple of years prior. After the birthday party, I just continued to make coffee for myself most mornings until the bag was gone. And then I required more.

The Pioneer Woman, a blog I read, is giving up sugar for a month. She just means sugar, not carbs. She will still eat a baked potato or drink a glass of wine. I thought I would join her in giving up sugar. Since I drink my coffee very much on the Sweet and Light side, I'm disgusted that giving up sugar also means giving up coffee, but it's only a month, right?

Yesterday was a day that should have been very productive. My schedule allowed me to be home alone for most of the day and there was plenty to do. Instead, I sat down at the computer between loads of laundry. I took two (!) naps. I commented to a friend that I couldn't figure out why I was so sleepy and useless. And then...

Ah, yes. Day five of no sugar and no coffee.

Guess what I'm doing on Day 6? Substituting for elementary school music. May God have mercy on my soul.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Color in the Music Room

Before: White walls. There was plenty of natural light, which gave it a very good vibe. I think some rooms "want" to be bright and airy and some rooms "want" to be cozy. It never turns out well if you try to make a room something it's not. I worried that adding a color would take away the appeal of all the light from those windows.

I thought I would put Butter Yellow on the walls here, unsure of anything else that would work with the red furniture and still allow the room to be so cheerful. At the VERY last minute I went instead with gray. Choosing the right color was a harrowing experience. I eyed the gray color samples, chose one card that seemed as good as any other, and picked a shade that seemed the right balance of light and dark. After collecting my gallon, I took it home, opened it up (it was gray), poured it in the paint tray (it was gray), and put a coat on the wall. Suddenly, it was blue.

I returned to the paint store three times before we finally got it tweaked to the right sensible hue. I think the salesman and I were good and sick of each other by the time we got it right, but I'm really happy with the result. I'm not sure this is the right picture to show it off. It was taken at a different time of day from the before and it doesn't wow. I really like the way the framing underneath the chair rail pops with color around it.

I had a stash of antique sheet music which I framed and displayed above the couch. I gave myself permission to cut into the pieces that were falling apart. I'm pleased with the variety of frame sizes which that allowed.

My students sauntered through as piano lessons resumed this week, and folks were very complimentary.

It's a good room.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Yes, Dear Readers, I am planning to post pictures of my newly colorful rooms. My intention was not to leave you hanging. In fact, I was planning to post them the day after my previous post. Now, nearly a week later, I'm still fussing with the Technological Beast.

I took the giant memory card over to my mother-in-law's. Her computer is always up to date and seamlessly functioning. It couldn't read my card either. In fact, suddenly it couldn't read her own memory card.

Strike one.

Then I had Michael spend some time at our computer to see if he could figure it out. He is better at such things than I. He spent an hour and a half tirelessly attacking the computer's brain with vacuum and canned air. He went through the memory and deleted and reloaded. He called his tech-y brother and picked his brain...

Strike two.

Today I went to the supermarket which has a photo kiosk and transferred all the photos from the memory card to a cd, thereby emptying the faulty card. The day was already not going as planned. My Sophia had one of her migraines and I kept her at home. My son forgot his laptop, which he needed for school, and I got in the van to drop it off for him. (I certainly had the discussion in my head about how he might learn to be more responsible if he spent a day without it, but helpfulness won out today. Never fear; I am inconsistent - he can learn that lesson later.) Since I was on that end of town, I decided to swing by the store to get this photo situation resolved. Maybe I would even have time to stop in at my husband's office and load them on a new blog post for the three of you clamoring to see. I can switch back to my card with the tiny memory after this and all should be well.

After doing the transfer at the kiosk, I scanned my bar code to begin the cd burning and to tell me how long until pick up. I should be out of here and back with my girl in five minutes, I thought. Instead, the message screen told me my order would be ready in 13 minutes. Ouch. This is turning into a long time away from my unwell child. I told the photo assistant that I wasn't sure I could stay this long.

"Well," she said archly, "I can TRY to keep an eye on it and grab it when it spits the cd out, but I can't make any guarantees."

I knew the right thing was to leave and get back to Sophie, but I lingered long enough to make the decision that my nephew's terrific wife, Mandi, came down the aisle and struck up a conversation. It was great to chat with her and the topic of our conversation was one I'd like to visit here - Foreign Exchange Students. I'm sure we talked for five minutes at least. I thought I'd check the ETA of the cd one more time. Maybe more time had elapsed than I thought.

"Your order should be ready in TWELVE minutes." !!! As far as the kiosk was concerned, one minute had passed since I placed my order. I told the disapproving attendant that I couldn't stay. I hope it'll be there when I can get back but for now...

Strike three.

But still swinging. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Color and Highlights

Five years ago we moved into our current house. We chose it mindfully, planning for it to be the house we were carried out of feet first. Could I care for an elderly parent here? Could the kids all come home for Christmas, grandchildren in tow? Can my knees and hips go bad and still get to the laundry room? All the answers were "yes."

The house was built in 1976 and when we bought it from the elderly original owner, most everything in the house was in its original state. When the old house sells, we said, we will enjoy the updating process. Until then, all shall remain "as is."

It is too angering to get into the details of it all, but with the recession, the bottom falling out of the housing market, dishonest potential buyers - turned slovenly renters - turned bankrupt evictees, we still own "the old house." And I still have Coppertone appliances in my kitchen.

I don't choose to focus on the negative in this post. We still wish we owned only one property and are reluctant landlords, but the renters we have now are reliable and hard-working. It pleases me to see them taking pride in the house to which I once brought home my newborn babies.

While I can't put in the hardwood flooring and new bathtubs that I long for, I tweak little things as I can. There were two rooms that still had white walls. Since I disapprove of white walls, I planned from the start to repaint them in some inspired color. And for five years, inspiration refused to strike.

The rooms in question were the music room and the kitchen. The music room (which I mostly only enter to give lessons) had a pretty good vibe to it already and I spent most of the five years parylized that I would irreperably mess things up by choosing a wrong color.

The kitchen lacks much natural light. Everyone has a kitchen window, right? Not so. My kitchen is, strangely, an inner room and I have to rely on light bulbs to wake it up. I worried that adding a color would diminish the already meager lightness in that part of the house.

Last week I took the plunge. My brilliant grown-up niece (my brother's step-daughter) has done the painting and I'm very happy with the results. The kitchen is finished and I'm hanging up some pretties. The music room will be touched up tomorrow.

I can't wait to post pictures.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Grow Watermelon

1. Go to a garden nursery in May. Buy a 4-pack of watermelon plants.
2. Put plants in the ground.
3. Neglect. Allow the weeds to infest and tower.
4. Come back in September. Watermelons will be plentiful, enormous and sweet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reflecting on the Blog

Struggling with the blog. Struggling with life a bit, actually. Not at all in a Woe Is Me kind of way. But in a determined way. My kids have been back in school for a couple of weeks and my piano studio resumes it's lessons on Monday. This time with the kids out of the house and my wishes as top priority have vanished in the blink of an eye. I *thought* I would purge the clutter in my house with a garage sale the first weekend of the school year. However I totally underestimated how much time the garden, and the produce preservation, would require. In my desire to Do It Right, I postponed the garage sale twice and finally completed it this past weekend. I had such a plan to touch everything in my house and laugh as I listened to it plead for a stay of execution. I touched a lot. And I laughed at a lot of the pleas, but I know I could have another sale next year.

Why do I let my plans grind to a halt because I feel I won't do it well enough? Too much devotion to Planning and too little to Doing is what I'm experiencing. Whether it's the garage sale, the housework or the blog, Life interferes and robs me of my nerve and gumption. Here's where the motivation comes in. I need to conquer this ogre Procrastination and become someone who Does and not just Dreams.

Now to the blog. Life is hectic at times and I have failed at the discipline of regular writing, which was one of my goals. What can I do to Do My Blog Well? Feeling that the photos are what draws ME into blogs that I enjoy, I purchased a snazzy Nikon camera. No more Point and Shoots for me. They make cruddy pictures. I'm pleased with my camera and becoming more pleased with the photos it is producing. However, the big memory stick I purchased to put in the camera is apparently too big for my computer to recognize. Sigh. Another obstacle. I took the stick to the supermarket to put the camera's images on a cd to sidestep around this newest hurdle. I gave it to Tech Support (Brooks) this morning to have him put certain images on the computer so that I can write my post about canning beets with my dad.

"But I think our disk drive is broken," said he. "Yeah, I've put it in and the computer doesn't recognize that there's a disk in there."

Are you kidding me?

Next is my new delight in the blog Pleasant View Schoolhouse. BFF Rebecca has recommended it several times over the years. I honestly only became a blog-reader at the same time I began blogging - about a year and a half ago. So I'd check it now and then, when I thought about it. But just in the last week has it so captured my fancy that it's all I want to think about or talk about. Anna, the writer of that blog has a lovely asthetic that prettys all the aspects of the life that she blogs about. There are plenty of recipes, but her life, like all our lives, is about other meaningful things besides kitchen work. My blog started wanting to be like hers when it grows up.

I started the blog thinking that so many of my contemporaries viewed me as a marvel because I cooked like their mothers, in process, quantity and confidence. So many of them were not comfortable in the kitchen because they hadn't grown up in that room as I suppose I had and they didn't feel qualified to cook for their families as their mothers had cooked for them. I intended my blog to be an encouragement to them and a record for my children, should they ever be interested.

But I think I have things to say on topics other than kitchen work. There's more than one way to Feed a Family. I tend to their brains, their souls, their compliance, their rebellion. Expect to see plenty of kitchen work remain a focal point.

And still many memories of days gone by.

But my life is richer than just the square footage in the kitchen. I have meaningful work with kids who are mastering the piano.

And I'm pretty proud of myself at play, too.

I want to journal it all.