Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who's the fool now?

There's an April Fool's day nor'easter snow storm predicted.
Just when I was prematurely celebrating the diminishing snow piles in the yard.
Boston's forecast is for a coating of some slushy snow and rain.
But here? In our apparently sort of freaky micro-climate we can expect 6 to 12 inches.
And just for the record,
As of this morning the remaining pile of left-over winter continues to show a lot of intestinal fortitude.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


 His current companion, Elder Guevarra from Honduras
 A native of VIRGINIA!
visiting family in Panama, 
and making Grandma-worthy oatmeal raisin cookies for our missionary
experiencing some city living.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Give-Away!

Want some SNOW?
(I don't want it either)
I am so fired-up about this shrinking pile, that I am going to pile up some happy items that make me even more excited for warmer weather and warmer days ahead
Leave a comment on this post, and guess correctly the date that this pile of snow in our backyard will be completely gone.
You will then win a little box-o-spring from me.
(Think WARM thoughts!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CRESCENDO! ...and breathe.

This morning I met my friend Louise, and my new friend Dottie in a covert quilting bunker.
They've sworn me to secrecy.
I may or may not be conspiring to participate in some surreptitious stitching--all on the down-low, of course.
Then it was my favorite 30 minutes of the week:
Kindergarten Lunch Duty.
From there I ran off to grab lunch.
For one.
On the menu?
Comfort food.
The house was quiet, and I savored every silent bite.
I may have washed some dishes, done some laundry, wiped down some bathrooms and read a few chapters from my latest book:
It's COMPLETELY different from what I've been reading lately.
But so far it's got my attention.
Three piano students later, 
I greeted one RED-cheeked teen who has been coming down with some funky gunk. 
Her temp was going UP and her moxie was going DOWN.
My friend Joy has been in the hospital with pneumonia, so we've been enjoying her kids after school.  They make doing homework and playing outside new and fun again!
(The shift in the age demographic is making me a lot more tired at the end of the day.)
-Soccer Practices have begun.
-Needed to trip off to the doctor at dinner time
-Youth Activities at church
-A husband who is bringing home the bacon (from Alabama)
-a well-timed visit from super-home-teacher 
who also doubles as a babysitter/Taxi enigma; 
(all the dishes were done and kids were home when I got back from my run-around) 
and now it's bedtime.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moon Over Manifest

It falls into the rare category of "Books that make me cry"
and less rare, "Books that make me laugh."
Also my favorite category, "Good Historical Fiction."
Clare Vanderpool is a first-time author, and she snagged the 2011 Newbery Medal with this story.
Abilene Tucker is the female main character, but happily male readers have an equally captivating main character in Jinx.  I was pulled right in when 12-year-old Abilene is sent, alone, to Manifest, Kansas by her father.  What leads a man to abandon his daughter like that?  Thus the colorful and secretive story that is wound both from the past (Jinx's 1918) and the present (Abilene's 1936). It was the perfect "next book" for me, jumping right back into America's fascinating Immigrant History and the amazing stories that have shaped America's Heartland.  If you read one book this year, let it be this one.
How did I find it?
Her review sums it up nicely.
She blew briefly into Boston and then left for Austin.
Lucky for me, I made her acquaintance in between, and she remains a go-to source for book selections.
P.S. Reserve your library's copy TODAY! And if they don't have one yet, insist that they purchase it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

ingesting more than fumes at the gas pump

On this first full day of Spring, a jovial fellow across the island at a corner gas station greeted me with
"Nice day today!" (as the snow was falling)
to which I happily responded "YES!... It is." 
(Of course in my head, I'm thinking 'Umm, Hello, it's snowing and COLD')
Then he pushed his gloved hand through the barrier of pole and pump, in which were two Lindt Lindor truffles.
(Non-verbally I wondered: For ME?!?
And he insisted. 
I took one and told him THANK YOU! then admitted that Lindor truffles were my favorite go-to chocolate treat.
He said "I gave up chocolate for lent, but sometimes you just gotta live."
Then, in a moment of letting down barriers and feeling good about just being neighborly, (as neighborly as you might feel at a gas pump) we agreed that life is too short.
He said:
"Thank you for your bright smile; Young Lady, you have a nice day."
kindness goes a long way. (he called me a YOUNG lady!!)
I'd like to put a treat in my pocket tomorrow, and pay it forward.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


They share a name.
I think the resemblance is uncanny.
(and so is the size of those hands!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The music is blaring

Somehow, the gods of Saturday have smiled down upon me, and I find myself in an empty house.
(Oh the possibilities!)
I might just be
-cranking the tunes
-drinking from the milk bottle
-practicing my hand stands
-talking to myself
-eating cookies
-dancing in my pj's

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Speaking of GREEN

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
from Massachusetts: the State claiming the largest  Irish heritage, at 23%.
No wonder the meat cases at the grocery stores are so packed with corned beef, and cabbages adorn every end cap.  Corned beef isn't going to be in our oven this year.  We will be eating braised ROAST beef, with all the boiled Irish dinner fixings.  I tip my hat to you, Irish potato farmers from the past.
It should be no surprise, then, to discover that while driving home from the grocery store yesterday, I happened upon an NPR program dedicated to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.  As the founder so emphatically stated, there is truly only one true form of Irish Soda bread.  In keeping with the spirit of everything Irish, we will be attempting the making and baking of this Irish staple.

Traditional White Soda Bread

From: The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread

(Jesse Costa)
(photo by: Jesse Costa)
4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
14 oz. of buttermilk (or really sour milk)
Preheat the oven to 425°.  Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough.  Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape).
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates thebastible pot).  Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Luck of the Irish be with us! (and also with YOU)

I didn't want to do it

but the instructions on the seed packet said to thin out the seedlings.
I've never thrown living plants away before.
I'm trying my hardest to have a better garden this year.  Following directions might help me in this quest.
Tossing the little sprouts reminded me of Ingrid, my carpooling friend when I worked at Digital way back when.
The company hired a plant lady to come in once a week to take care of the potted plants in the office.
She would water, trim, and do whatever the plants needed.  Another co-worker, Maggie, would tell the plant lady to hide the clippings where Ingrid couldn't see them.  She said we'd need to stage an intervention if Ingrid found living plants in the garbage.  I respected the warning and, despite spending hours in the car together each week, never asked Ingrid about it.  I think I kind of know how she might have felt.
Here are the keepers.
Grow well, little sprouts!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kindergarten Lunch

continues to be a high point of the week.

A drive in the country

Yesterday I took a drive out to Petersham to see my friend Karen.
It was a tranquil drive, and a fun visit.
I even rubbed her perfectly shaped head.
I hope if I ever lose my hair, that my head will look as good as hers.
She finished her first round (20 weeks) of chemotherapy, and is having surgery next week.
I felt like singing, all the way home:
"Those blue days (for Karen) all of them gone
And nothing but blue sky from now on"

New England Spring is FINALLY here!

the sap buckets on the trees are the first real sign.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

living through childhood is nothing to sneeze at

Almost 40 years ago I dropped the ramp to a cattle truck on my twin sister and broke both her legs.
We were in second grade.
I re-told the story to my family over dinner Sunday night; a spin-off on the question of the night.
Our parents were re-modeling the little farmhouse where we lived, and our job was to pick up the shingles that had been torn from the roof, put them into the trash cans, and then haul the cans to the cattle truck, where dad would later drive them to the dump.  On this particular afternoon, dad was working, and mom did not know the ramp to the truck was not let down.  We didn't know she did not know, so when Amy told me to climb up, unhook it and just let it fall--that she would catch it, I figured it was a good plan.  Let this serve as a reminder that a seven year old has not reached the age of reasoning (or accountability).
here's an unrelated picture of what the truck looked like:

I don't remember much about the actual trauma, other than sitting in the back seat of the station wagon, cradling Amy's poor crying head in my lap for the ride to the hospital, where I also remember seeing the medical staff take her into a very large, very steel and cold-looking room where they were going to x-ray her legs.  
My younger brother Rich (who was four or five at the time) and I were brought home at some point, since I can only imagine that we were probably in the way, and more than my mother was able to handle at the time.  I'm not really sure how the next part went down, because now that I've mothered young kids, I can't imagine leaving a seven and four or five year old at home alone in a little farmhouse at night.  But there we were.  
And then the phone rang.  
It was mom:  "Jenny!  You need to make sure all the doors are locked, and that the windows are closed!  There is an escaped convict running around the area somewhere!"
I don't even remember closing windows or locking doors; I just remember trembling beneath the furniture with my brother, and then a short time later, hearing strong knocks on the front door.
Are you kidding me?!?
It turned out to be a co-worker of my dad's, sent over from the police department to retrieve us from our nightmare on Elm Street.
Then we found ourselves in a little store picking out frozen treats; I got an ice cream sandwich, and Rich got one of those frozen bananas on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts.
All better.
Then there was the issue of my sister spending the next month or more in a humongous wheelchair that I wasn't all that thrilled about pushing around at recess, and I felt bad that her desk had to be about six feet tall to accommodate the monster chair, while her peers were all sitting at more normal, elf-sized desks.
There must have been a smidgen of post-trauma guilt on my part.

I'm in love

Monday, March 14, 2011

Threads and Flames

a novel
by Esther Friesner
I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book.
Honestly, I don't think it was the most well-written story I've ever read; just that it grabbed me by the collar and wouldn't let go.  Now that it's over, I keep wondering about the characters.  Although the story is based on fact, I have to keep telling myself that they're not real people.  And if they were real, (the victims and survivors of the actual fire were indeed real, and through these characters, I imagine a fragment of their story is being told here) they would not be around to confirm their stories at this point.
Let me back up. 
One hundred years ago in New York City on March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire consumed  more than the building... the fire was deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. True story.  The sub plots in the  book lead up to the awful re-telling of the fire.  The reader becomes acquainted with the main character, a young Jewish girl from Poland named Raisa, in the opening chapter of the book when she is sick with fever.  Her story continues as she immigrates to America, to find her older sister Henda, who preceded her in the journey.  I was intrigued by the overwhelming scenario of traveling by boat as a second class passenger,  and arriving young and alone in a new country where the native language is not your own.  Friesner describes the tenement housing where most immigrants lived, and the struggle to find employment.  Also, the deplorable conditions under which most of these young, underpaid newcomers were forced to work and live.  I love New York City, and am fascinated by the history there; the millions of stories of individuals that remain untold.  There is a tenement museum I would love to tour on a future trip to the big apple.  One hundred years later, the stories of those whose lives were touched by the fire are still relevant, and in the words of the publisher, the hope that can come from [tragedy and] despair still resonates.  I might find myself reading this again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Not your typical date night

That's what I wake up thinking most Friday mornings.
We made it through another week.
Talking with Dub on the phone earlier in the day, we decided it would be good to plan an outing.  Just the two of us.  You know, a change of scenery;  a DATE.
We ate dinner at home with the crew, and by the time we were finished cleaning up, I was so full, I couldn't even imagine trying to go out for A.N.Y.thing to eat or drink.
So we laid down on opposing couches with our feet up, and chatted for a while.
We envisioned having the kind of children who would spontaneously start rubbing our feet and our temples.  Then we decided to get on with reality, and our date.  Enrique was out on a date of his own, so we left the house with Mesquite at the helm.  She has some pretty innate mothering skills.
We pulled out of the garage, and as I slid into my already-warming seat; (Dub knows I love me some toasty buns) I think it was smelling the leather that gave me a flash back to age 24 when he picked me up for our first date in his slick black supra with the leather seats.  I smiled.  We've put some pretty decent mileage on our relationship since then.
We made it the three-and-a-half miles to Movie Stop, where we imagined browsing the old TV series aisle for some "new" old family entertainment.  We made it as far as the parking lot, and my cell phone rang.  It was Mesquite.
"There's someone knocking on the front door!" she sounded a little panicky.
Me: Just don't answer it.
Mesquite: Ummm... -pause- M(orning Boy) already did! He said it was Dad.
Me: Dad's right HERE, with ME.  We're on a date, remember?
Mesquite: I know! But M said it looks like dad, so he started unlocking the door.
Me: Well, lock it back up and don't answer it. (we have a policy in place that when no parents are home, you don't answer the door)
Mesquite: No! ...and it's pretty obvious they know we're all in here... (the house was lit up, and we also have cute little windows on either side of the door that let the visitor know you are approaching the door)
I started to giggle.
Mesquite: Mom!  You're so mean!
Me: I'm sorry.  (I could picture the panic that was surely beginning to envelope the people on the INside) Just take your siblings and go to the bedroom.
Mesquite: No! (You had to go through the front entryway to access the stairs going up...)
Me: Alright.  We're on our way home. -then-  I'll call [our neighbor] and have her come over to ward off the knockers.
Mesquite: Okay.
Me: Where's Rooney?
Mesquite: She's upstairs, plugged into her ipod, completely clueless.
Me: Hmm. Don't you want to take everyone upstairs with her?
Mesquite: NO!
Then there were a series of about three more phone calls, because, Mesquite wanted the lifeline of having us on the phone while the SCARY was going down, but she kept hanging up on us, since she was so freaked out.
Turns out the two most mild-mannered and non-threatening members of our church congregation had stopped by unannounced to pay a visit to the Relief Society President.
The kids were traumatized.
The neighbor was engaged and on DEF CON  high-security-alert.
Our two visitors were very confused.
And date night was, although not boring, very short-lived.

Friday, March 11, 2011

leftover rice

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.
I tweaked this recipe for RICE PUDDING just a tad:


  • 2 c. cooked rice
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. raisins (I do not prefer raisins)
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon AND 1/2 tsp. nutmeg


Place rice in bowl, add all ingredients, stir to mix. Pour into greased baking dish or pan.
Bake about 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Allow to cool, and cover to prevent loss of moisture.
Serve at room temperature or chilled, with whipped cream, of course.

comfort dessert.


When I found out about the tsunami in Japan this morning, my prayers went up for all of those suffering from the devastating effects of this horrible, horrible disaster.
Then my thoughts went racing across the Pacific to the coast of Panama.

I found a live feed to a Panama News Television Station.
It's like their CNN.
The news is in Spanish, but I was happy to be able to understand most of it without too much effort.
The newscaster said the country is under a tsunami ALERT.  And then he explained the important difference between an alert and an alarm
(I may not have translated those over directly in to English)
Sort of like watch and a warning.

"Es importante mantener la calma; ser pendientes de tota la informacion."
Basically he was trying to communicate that it's important to maintain a sense of calm; to use this time to make sure everyone is prepared for whatever might happen.  And as of the time of this post, there are still about 7-10 hours before the waves will reach them.

With 18 hours from disaster to impact,
I am at peace, knowing that the church will have sufficient time to take good care of its missionaries.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why all you single ladies might want to consider praying just about as frequently as you breathe

So the other day we ate dinner in about six shifts to accommodate the comings and goings of the populous.
I sat down to accompany a lone eater before she shuffled off to ballet class, and she immediately bowed her head and announced
"I'll say it!"
What? (I wondered)
I'll admit that a blessing on the food was not on my mind.
(My kids keep me grounded daily, with their examples, humor, perspective and inspiration.)
Then she giggled and said
"Remember how yesterday I offered to say the prayer?"
I actually didn't, but as I reached deep into the recesses of my failing short term memory, I did faintly recall that she had wanted to say the dinner prayer on Sunday, and then offered to say the prayer at the conclusion of our discussion with the missionaries, who joined us for dinner.  On top of that, it was her turn to say the prayer at our Family Home Evening, which we held on Sunday, to more easily maneuver the calendar on Monday night.
All this praying!
(What, am I raising a nun?!?)
Then she laughed some more and as she ate, informed me that she ALWAYS volunteers to say the prayer in her primary class on Sundays.
Now the REST of the story.
A certain Aunt Becky has taught my girls the doctrine of the-more-you-pray-the-cuter-your-future-husband-will-be and they have taken this very seriously.
At church the Aunt-Becky-prayer-doctrine has become familiar to the Primary teacher.
The discussion in my little Polly Prayer's class this past Sunday was on prophets.
As her teacher was kindly trying to instill some vision into the kids in her class she said that perhaps one day, one of the boys in that very class might even be a prophet!
To which my pretty prayer enthusiast said
"And someday I might even be married to a prophet!" 
At which point her teacher laughed and said
"Yes, you might, and if you do, he'll be a very CUTE prophet."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I would walk 500 miles.

But today I was elated with four.
I slinked out of bed, got my face licked, made breakfast and lunches for the exiting masses and told myself:
Sally, you just get back up on that horse
and RIDE!
I bundled up in fleece and leggings and lycra and down
  (and put the keys in my pocket)
and the sun was shining
and my playlist ended up being the birds, who were chirping!
and I had to keep peeling off layers
and I kept walking and walking 
and I got warmer and warmer 
and it made me really happy.
and then I came home and ate girl scout cookies for breakfast dessert.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday, Monday

So good to me.
It's raining.
The snow is melting.
I can see patches of grass!
Madge (our refrigerator) is clean.

...and while I was cleaning her, 
I finished [listening to the audio version of] The Blind Side by Michael Lewis.
It was a great story.
You might be shocked to know that I have not seen the movie.
But less shocked to learn that I don't really care that much about football.
I like it, and I'll watch it maybe once or twice a year, but really, I'm more of an environmentalist. As in, I take in the whole football environment, rather than just the game itself.  You probably wouldn't want me on your quiz bowl team if the questions were going to be all about the game of football.
With that being said, I will happily report that I really, REALLY enjoyed this book.
The author does an excellent job treating the reader like she knows everything about the game, and yet walks you through with explanations that take care of the part of you that doesn't.  It's a good compromise, I think. When Mr. Dub listened to this book and LOVED it, you got it.  He's a football guy.
When Mr. Dub's wife listened to this book and loved it, I'll tell you it's because I'm an aficionado of a good (and extraordinarily TRUE) story.
And I'll bet it was still better than the movie.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

only five more months

then these guys will be loaded with fresh, ripe PEACHES!
(and we'll be shaking our heads just trying to IMAGINE all that snow on the ground)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

first off, let me say this.

I grew up in a house where you never locked the doors.
(and now I'm 46)
I'm also trying very hard to OWN the consequences of my actions.
But's it's humiliating.
Makes me feel as responsible as a seven-year-old.
To be wearing sneakers that are falling apart, high-water (polka-dot) pajama pants, my son's green fleece jacket, an old scarf that I considered putting in the salvation army bag just two days ago 
(WHY is parting with lame clothing and accessories so hard for me?!?)
and my daughter's cute pink gloves with the purple rosettes at the wrists.
Oh.  And the pilled fleece headband to keep my ears warm, with my uncombed work-out hair spilling out at every angle.
Not exactly runway material.
On the up-side: I did get my exercise in.
I did vacuum my family room.
I carried in an extra load of firewood to keep the chill off,
on this 19-degree morning with wind.
Then I checked my e-mail.  
I found the answer to a question I've been sitting on for three days, and hurried to put a stamp on the envelope and send it off before the mail truck came.
I threw on the extra clothes (because the walk to my mailbox is NOT quick!) 
and went out through the back door.
I was happy, 
and with the click of that door, 
I was also 
I jogged back from the street, because even with extra layers, it was CHILLY.
When the door wouldn't open, I knew I was hosed. 
Gaining knowledge of my (oh, what? 27th time of being locked-out of the house?) situation canceled out the happy.
The spare-key-at-the-neighbor's-house-option did not work, since no one was at home.
I circled the house looking for a breech in the security system, but people, we are secure.
SO... I ate my humble pie and jogged across the street to the only neighbor's house who I knew would be home, and asked to use the phone to gain access to spare key option #2.  While her dogs made me paranoid, sniffing me in all the places I don't care to have sniffed.  About 10 minutes later, I was inside again and thawing out by the stove.
Let me just end with this:  
I know I should be hiding a key somewhere.
(Don't make me feel more seven than I already do.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

in like a lion

Welcome MARCH!
This, to me, is the month we all turn the corner.
Hang on!
sharp turn ahead.
Spring is coming.
We may have two feet of snow still left to schlep through, but underneath there are bulbs waiting to bloom and grass waiting to turn green again(and bare feet and flip flops!).
Mud season will come as well, but I'll gladly trade the winter for some good, oozing mud.  I do love the sound of a boot schmucking up from getting stuck in some good, sloppy, gloopy mud. 
It may look like winter, but that stiff breeze and bright sun IS good for one of my favorite things:
(and I'm not talking about the toboggan)

These things are Good

Saying my good-byes to the kids as they went off in their three shifts to school, and then curling up on the couch for 90 minutes for my second sleep.

Perusing the fresh fruit at the grocery store and bringing home papaya, kiwi and starfruit; and a potted cluster of tightly budded mini daffodils for the dining room table, still waiting to open.

Dressing up to spend time at the dentist (and walking away relaxed, not traumatized).

Two kids, six months, no cavities!

The Book of Enos

Monday night treats

A letter from our missionary.

Listening to Enrique talk about how he and his brother are like Sam and Sniper, our cats.


Billy Blanks Groove 'n' Burn Latin dance workout.

Finding an extra bag of bagels in the freezer

Having a broken car in the driveway, and no where to go.