Monday, August 31, 2009


This is my favorite son, Bradley.
Never mind the fact that he is my only son.
Today is his twenty-second birthday. And, coincidentally, his first day of classes for his senior year of college. I haven't been able to get a hold of him, today. I received a quick email saying "I'm busier than any person should be, I will talk to you, later."
Responsible? Yes.
When I was pregnant with him, a friend and I were shopping and we saw a photo of a baby with his hair cut in a mohawk riding on a motorcycle. I said "this is probably the son I'm carrying.
Bradley was the orneriest little boy. With an impish smile, one could only imagine what sort of shenanigans were dancing around in his mind. He had so much energy that I used to take him to the park (nearly every evening) to "run him." If I didn't do that, he would be jumping from sofa to chair and racing around the house like a puppy on the loose. It was also a nice wind-down, end-of-the-day family time. I would take a lawn chair, the mail, a book, a magazine and Bradley and his sister would play on the playground equipment. We had Bradley's high school open house at the same park. One of Bradley and his sister's favorite things to do was to jump up and down together on a wooden bridge. On the day of the open house, the two of them went down to the playground equipment and hopped onto the wooden bridge for one final bounce. A photo of the two of them on that day, bouncing, sits on his sister's desk in her D.C. law office.
When Bradley's sister would come home for visits from school, the three of us of us would go out to eat together. I would sit on one side of the booth and the two of them would excitedly catch up on one another's lives.
As an adult man, he is patient and kind with his old Mama. Yes, he informs me that I drive like a Grandma, that he could get somewhere faster by walking than by riding with me. He has always been my favorite man, a good man who grew up with two women always directing him. It may have been a frustrating situation for him, but for the most part, he handled it well. He always seemed to learn a lot by observing. Five years older, his sister was his other mother. We love you so very much, Bradley! Happy Birthday!

Friday, August 28, 2009


As a young girl, whenever I was stung by a bee, we began to notice that each time I was stung, my reaction became worse. At age twenty, I was a camp counselor and we were playing frisbee in a field. As I attempted to catch the frisbee, a bee stung me. I immediately began to go into shock and a red streak began to go up my arm. From that point on, I have been prepared for an emergency situation. Initially, I learned how to give myself an injection with a hypodermic. The next model resembled an ink pen. Now, I carry the new and improved version of the EpiPen, which is cased in a convenient plastic case.

Doug accuses me of trying to come on to him on our second date because I needed to educate him as to how to administer the injection before we went hiking together. (One needs to stab the needle into the fleshy part of the thigh.) It was not a come-on, it was a possible matter of life and death. Whenever I am out with anyone, I have to educate them in how to administer the injection as whenever I am stung, I "go" quickly.
Despite my allergy, I have long admired bees. Friends and family are aware of my affection for bees and often ask "why do you love something that could potentially kill you?" I am fascinated by them. The same friends and family buy me household items which are adorned with bees. I consume copious amounts of the product of the bees labor. I love honey and put it in my tea. I buy my honey at the farmers market by the half-gallon. Bees live in a colony lifestyle, and revere their queen, they possess a complex communication style with which they communicate to one another where to find the "good" flowers. Bees are extremely intelligent creatures. They work hard with purpose and intent. They care for their dead. They keep their living space clean. In many ways, in my opinion, they are superior to many people that I know. I first fell in love with bees while reading The Secret Life of Bees. The movie, too, was beautiful.
Some time back, I happened upon Beeing, by Rosanne Daryl Thomas.
She tells the tale of being a single mom, of her journey of self-discovery, of her daughter's faith in her (which is more than she has in herself). She tells the tale of going from being a woman who had never picked up or used a hammer to one who becomes quite adept at the skill of hammering and the pride she feels in her accomplishments.
I was a single mom. I remember buying a picnic table which came in a long flat box and pouring the contents out onto my back patio. I felt overwhelmed, but determined. It was with great pride that I sat upon the bench and dined from that table many a time. It was the same pride and sense of accomplishment that I felt when I would put my new license plate onto my car. I would step back and look at it and think "I did that!" Such is the case in the journey that Thomas takes with her bees.
Thomas cares for each of her 180,000 bees as if she were mother to each of them. She falls in love with them and assumes responsibility for each of her charges. She feels protective of the bees and hives and as a mother away from a child, her thoughts are never far from them. Like a mother tending a baby in a crib, she checks on them frequently in order to reassure herself that she is doing it right, that they are thriving.
One cannot read this book with learning a great deal about the art of bee keeping. Although beekeeping is not a possibility in my own life, I am fascinated by it. My "egg lady" a.k.a. new beekeeper is now reading Beeing. I can't wait to hear what she has to say about the book from the perspective of a real beekeeper. The "egg lady/beekeeper" recently sent this website to me. It reveals the beauty of these magnificent tiny, fastidious creatures.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shy girl

My Nikon has the red eye light thingy that shines a red light just before the flash goes off. Chelsea hates it. She is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. This is what I got the other night because she wouldn't look at adorable...she looks like a little shy girl. "Chelsea..."
"Chelsea, look at mommy..."
"Aw. So sweet."
I love that little girl soooooo much!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dogrs Kindergarten (agility)

Last night was our third class in agility, which I refer to as "dogrs kindergarten." The instructor is Leslie Ems of Flying Paws Agility. Chelsea has 8-10 classmates and we divide into two groups- "little dogs," which means young dogs and "big dogs," which means older dogs. All of the small dogs are in the little dogs group and all of the mega big dogs are in the big dogs group. Did I make that perfectly clear?
Each Monday evening, Chelsea is so excited to go to school and see her friends.
"Hey mom, are we there yet?"
"Dad, can you go faster?"
" Yeah, that is better! Ride like the wind!"

Finally, we get to "school." Everyone walks around, getting his or her respective dogs attention, waiting for Leslie to begin.
"Sit. Good girl!"

Last night was our third class. Last week the dogs ran through the tunnel with it straight. Last night after a couple of straight runs, the instructor started to turn it. Chelsea didn't hesitate.
There she goes!
Each dog runs through each exercise several times.
Leslie using Chelsea as an example.

Starting to work on running through the chute.
Initially, two people hold it up.
"Here I am!"
After a few turns, they let the top of the chute gently fall.
Then, it is just down and the dogs run through.
Previously, this walkway was just a few inches above ground.
After a few turns, the walk was raised. Chelsea did just fine.
Dad, putting her through her paces.
As of last night, we were half-way through the course. We will probably sign up again. Chelsea loves it and we all have fun. Class lasts an hour and fifteen minutes. We need to master stay, down, recall to heel and the pull/push. We never give Chelsea treats and she gets a lot of treats at class. She loves that part. Where will this lead? I do not know. People ask us all the time if we think we will show her. We have only been to three classes, so it is a little too early to say. For now, we are all having fun at "school."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The "ahhhh" of Fall

A pear hangs from the tree in our backyard.

Each year, I eagerly anticipate the "ahhh" of Fall. It is that day, that moment when you say "ahhh," because suddenly, over night, the weather has turned significantly cooler. We have had an "ahhh" here, this weekend. Yesterday morning, it was in the early sixties. Last night it dipped into the fifties. The air conditioner was off, the window was open. All day we had "fall clouds," dark and menacing, promising rain, without it actually raining. Ever so often a strong gust of wind. I saw a little swirl of leaves yesterday, a mini cyclone where they seem to join hands and dance in a circle. Leaves are gathering at the edge of our drive.

It seems most mark the end of summer and beginning of fall with Labor Day weekend. That is when the pool closes. The autumnal equinox, officially, is around September 21.

For me, it is fall up until mittens weather. That is (for me) when winter starts. But while I am in fall, I am deliriously happy. I wonder if it has anything to do with my being an October baby? I love wearing a sweatshirt, especially one with a hood, bunched up and hugging about my neck. I love barn coats and quilted CPO jackets. I love sitting before a hot fire, with the cool nipping at your back. Shivering when you step away from the fire. Cold nose and chilly cheeks, warm kisses when you are cold, snuggling in a tent, feeling the warmth of your sleeping bag embrace you.

I love hiking boots and leaves crunching underfoot. I love raking leaves and staying out until you just can't stand it anymore- then running inside to warm up with a cup of hot cider, tea or cocoa. I love chili and soups and cold hands wrapped around a mug. Our Chelsea loves to chase leaves and tries to catch them with her mouth. She also likes to run through them.

I love drying grasses, standing tall and turning from green to tan. I love nuts and berries and autumn decorations and have a plethora of pumpkins and gourds. I love fall candles and potpourri. Anyone knows I am always eager to decorate my home in the colors of fall. Yes, I wait until after Labor day to do that. I love welcoming pumpkins and mums at the front door.

I love Big 10 football in person, but in fall, the hum of a game on t.v. or radio, is nice background noise. The enthusiasm of the announcer as he yells, "he is at the twenty, the ten...TOUCHDOWN!"

As I write this, the windows are thrown open and it is in the mid sixties. Have you felt the "ahhh of Fall," yet? Tell me what you love about fall and why.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

TREEHUGGER fights back (unfortunately)

Left: bumper sticker on my car.

My favorite day of the week is without a doubt, Saturday. I can sleep in, shower whenever I want, don't have to rush. This morning, I had this unbelievable energy. I made coffee and then headed to farmers market. I saw my friend and her little man and then bought sweet corn, peaches and three plants for my flower garden. I saw my gynecologist who is the grandaughter of this man and she smiled and gave me a hug and we chatted.
After that I headed to Barnes and Noble to buy Rick Bragg's book Prince of Frogtown, because Bragg will speak next month at the Monroe County Library. I was sitting at a light and I hear a man say "hey treehugger, you are a tail-gater. Initially, I rolled up my window and tried to ignore him, but he just kept shouting at me. So, I rolled down the window and responded to him. Big mistake. I love the saying "don't get down into the mud with the pigs because the pigs love it and you just get muddy," because it is true. Well, I got down into the mud with the pig.
He called me crazy and stupid and I said "I have a college degree, do you?" And then he said "yes in Religious Studies...what is your degree in?" Then I understood his holier than thou attitude. This man was old...grandpa age. I later thought aren't grandpas supposed to be kindly and nice and smile? After yelling at me and telling me I was a tail-gater, he brought his car frighteningly close to my car and then cut over in front of me.
I became so upset by the altercation that I was shaking. The peaceful, happy feeling was gone. But I allowed it to happen. Then I felt so disappointed in myself for responding to him and getting down on his level. I hate it when that happens. That is what I get for fighting back.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sailor's Delight

Chelsea and I walked the Clear Creek trail tonight. We headed out and I was packed like a camel heading out into the desert - doggie-do baggies for Chelsea, treats, tissues, cell phone, my car key zipped into a pocket and my water bottle in my "woods purse" which I carried cross-body. The sky was amazing.
Clouds that were flushed with colors of pink, red and glowing white, like looking at the underside of a seashell. Clouds that billowed in layers.
The trail side is filled with wild flowers (a.k.a. "weeds") that I picked in my mind and arranged - bouquet after bouquet. Bulbous purple thistles, pink-lavender clovers, black eyed daisies, a small yellow flower that looked like sweet peas. Feathery flounces and ferns and spikes of leaves. I gathered them all.

We didn't get started until 7:30. Really, too late. I walked as fast as I could, stopping once for a potty break for Chelsea and once for myself. Chelsea had a water break heading out and coming back. There is a water fountain with a ground level dog fountain. Whoever thought of that one had to be an animal-lover. We finished in an hour and a half. The entire trail is four and a half miles total, so I was pleased with our time. When we finished, it was getting dark and I felt a bit uncomfortable as the populous of the trail diminished as it grew darker.

I was soaking wet when we finished and had a tired dog along for the ride home. Sailor's delight? Color me delighted as well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lace made by a Queen.

I love wild flowers. One of my favorite's are Queen Anne's lace. Daucus Carota, commonly called Wild Carrot, Bird's Nest, Bishop's Lace and Queen Anne's lace. This is the scene in a pasture down the road from our house.
An entire field of Queen Anne's lace.
Legend tells us that the tiny darker flower in the center represents a blood droplet where Queen Anne pricked herself with her needle whilemaking the lace. The function of the tiny darker flower in the center is to attract insects.
Each of these close ups were taken in my yard.
Given the choice, I love to let plants grow and see what comes up.
Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them. A.A. Milne

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Am I blue?

Am I blue? A little dusty, maybe. But not blue. We attended the CD release show last night for Jason Fickel's new CD, Dust Up Baby.

I first discovered Jason playing and singing at the local farmers market. I liked his voice, his playing, the way he dresses, the way he moves. He has a quick and easy smile and a gentle way with people. His eyes twinkle when he tells his stories. Jason is somewhat Chicago mobster zoot suit meets Kansas cowboy. Last night was no exception as he came out on stage looking like the sharpest dressed man in town only to don his cowboy hat after the show to sign autographs.
He regaled the audience with many comedic stories of growing up in Kansas. His stories ramble and you sit and wonder if he is ever going to make a point (and he always does). The firebay was standing room only as Jason's most ardent fans came to support him. We all departed with not only the newest cd release, but a prized Jason Fickel bourbon glass. I know I shall treasure mine always. I'll have to hide it so that Duggles doesn't break it.
Ginger Curry opened for him and she has a distinctive melodic voice and a wonderful, confident "I don't care" presence on stage. I had never heard her before and look forward to hearing her again.
Gettin' down, B-town style.
Telling us about his cousin Janet and her cowboy boyfriend.
See Jason, we were listening!
More concentrated gettin' down.
Nearly every piece that Jason performed last night was written by him.
His tunes are a bit melancholy as reflected by lyrics such as
"I'll take you back (where I first found you and leave you).
The man can pick.

The real reason I'm so taken with Jason Fickel.
These shoes and the slow and easy way he half turns to his band before a song and counts
"one, two, three, fo..."
The Duggles and Jason after the show.
You can see that Dug can hardly contain his excitement.
There were a number of children selling Jason's CDs and giving away the aforementioned bourbon glasses. I asked if they were his children and one little blonde said she was. I said to her,"your dad is about the coolest dude around!"
She said "I think so, too!" When I told Jason after the show he said
"I hope I can just keep her thinking that!"
Check out the Fickelmeister. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We interrupt this program

for a day off!
When I was growing up, I would hear the announcement "we interrupt this program for an important announcement of the television broadcast system..." Because I basically stopped watching television for several years, and when I watch it now, it is very little, I have no idea if such an announcement is still on the air. Nonetheless, I thought it apropos to announce that I am taking a vacation day.

One of my English professors used to tell her students "write early in the day before you lose your good stuff." My early in the day is a frantic race to get my shower, get dressed, do basic hair and make-up, fly out the door, stop somewhere to get something for breakfast before arriving at work, usually at least five minutes late. Often, my "good stuff" gets smothered beneath all of the normal life racing about stuff. Some of it is called working full time, too.

When I worked as a columnist at my hometown paper for three years, way back in the day, I was always listening, my ears perked, for a column idea. Now, my blog serves as my "column," but it is my time, my doing, no timeline. I allow my life and photographs to serve as guide. I carry my Nikon nearly every day and am on the lookout for for photo-journalism ideas.

Twenty-one months ago, I moved from my hometown, where I had lived, with the exception of one year, for all of my life. There was another town, 45 minutes north, where I worked for fifteen years. That town became my second hometown. Due to convenience, my dentist and doctor and hair stylist were all in that town. Most of my social life was also in that town. All of my friends were people that I met at the university where I worked.

The town where I now live, located two hours south of where I grew up, is where my daughter completed her undergrad. At the university where I now work. During her years at the university, I would come down to visit. Years prior, I had brought my two children down for many a long weekend and we would usually end up exploring bookstores, restaurants and coffee shops. Then, four years ago, I started dating a man that lived in this town. My weekends were spent in this town. After all of this time, I felt I "knew" this town. I earned my degree, was an empty-nester, and moved to this town to be with the Duggles.

After living with only my self and my children, man-free for eighteen years, I had forgotten what the care and feeding of the animalistic creature called "man" would be. The Duggles is especially animalistic, leaving a trail, his mark behind him in every room that he touches. I follow behind, clearing the way, making it habitable, again. His house, which had been occupied by he the king bear and his three male cubs, was something akin to a locker room. The living room had three different kinds of wallpaper on the walls. His furniture, some of it literally, roadside cast-offs, which we, literally, threw out the front door. Kitchen cabinets hadn't been cleaned out since he moved in, several years before. I attacked the house, making it my own, stamping every space with my furniture, my belongings. We painstakingly began the task of re-doing the entire house room by room. I am happy to say we are getting close to being there and having the entire house re-done. It has been a long laborious process.

Once I moved here, nothing in this town was where it was supposed to be. I couldn't get the lay-out of the town in my head. I was hopelessly, continuously lost but too proud to call the Duggles and ask for help. I drove about literally in circles, at times near to tears, finding my way. I went to work for a university that is many times larger than my previous university. On my old campus, I could walk anywhere on campus in fifteen to twenty minutes. Because I was both student and staff, I knew everyone from student to the president's office. At this university, I first get out my map to see where I am going. The map is on the seat beside me so that I might double-check in route to my destination. Then, I search for a parking spot and then I walk to where I am going.

Because I had grown up in my hometown, written for the hometown paper, which makes you an instant celebrity, I could have ran for mayor, I knew so many. In my second hometown, after fifteen years, it was much the same. The university was the primary employer of the town and most people I ran into in that town, I knew.

This town is a transient town. People come here to earn degrees, to work for awhile and many, after a few years, move on. I've been told that people are hesitant to get to know you, for fear that after they have made an investment in you, you will depart. The entire process has been a difficult transition for me. The move, the house, the man bear that I live with, this town, the university. I thank God for the handful of women who have reached out to me and befriended me. One woman that I work with at the university, upon meeting me, proclaimed "thank God, they have finally hired a normal person." I don't know about that, I think I am her type of normal person and she and I are now friends.

Waving my white flag and proclaiming exhaustion, I interrupt my life for a day off, today. I sleep in until 9:30. When I awaken, I lay in bed and recall a very detailed dream of a man I met while on a trip, alone. He is unabashed in his affection for me. Teen-age like, he fawns for me. A very sweet dream. Once I awaken, adorned with the last of my Crest white strips, I crawl back into bed in the cool cave of the bedroom. I am reading the sweetest book and languish, reading for awhile.

I just learned that I am severely deficient in vitamin D, which may explain a few things. Armed with my two buy one, get one bottles, I am filled with hope that in a few weeks I will feel better. I have recently been approached to do design work for a shop that I love in a sweet little nearby town. I am going out to the shop for a few hours to spend time with the sweet shop owner, today. My editor-turned-dear diary friend will be here for an overnighter tomorrow, which means I'm giving the house some much needed extra special attention. We will gad about and have more plans that are possible for the 24 hours that she will be here, but we will cram in what we can.

This morning, I feel rested, hopeful, calm. This day, a much needed interruption.

Do you need an interruption in your life?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BERRY good!

Growing up, my aunt always made her Fresh Strawberry cake. She is gone now, but the cake is still around. I made it recently and would like to share with you. Fresh berries at the farmers market.
Gather your ingredients.

I do think it makes a difference
with anything you make if you use quality ingredients.
Mixing 1 small package of strawberry jello, 1/2 c. water and 1 pkg. white cake mix.
Prepare your pans.

I know many say just to prepare the bottom of your pan.

I have always prepared the sides as well.After adding 4 egg whites, 1 t. vanilla & 1 c. fresh strawberries.Ready to pop into the oven. Baked, and cooling on the racks. Icing: 1 box powdered sugar and 1 stick of butter. 1/2 c. strawberries. Now, who would like coffee? Or milk?

My aunt would make her cake in a 11x13 aluminum baking pan and just serve the cake in the pan and pour the icing on top. The icing is very wet and gets more so the more strawberries that you add. I used about one and a half of the noted quantity for both cake and icing. I just like a double layer cake. Something almost elegant about it. Here is the recipe:

Fresh Strawberry Cake

Beat together for two minutes:

1 pkg white cake mix

1 small package strawberry jello (3oz.)

1/2 c. water

Add 4 egg whites & 1 t. vanilla and beat for additional two minutes.

Add 1 C. sliced fresh strawberries.

Beat for 30 seconds.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Cool before icing.

Frosting: 1 box powdered sugar (1lb.)

1 stick butter

1/2 c. sliced strawberries.

When I made this cake I used 1.5 c. strawberries in cake and a 3/4 c. strawberries in the frosting. It is a matter of personal preference as to how wet you want the cake to be. It was a very hot day the day I baked it, so I covered it and refrigerated. Otherwise, my icing would have melted away.


Blog Archive