Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rambling about the Rain

"Rain, rain go away - come back some other day" I said as I looked up to a sky filled with angry gray clouds. We had some rainy weather recently. Rain poses a few challenges for us. We have to strategically plan when to send the dogs outside for "potty breaks" between rain showers. That's followed by us wrestling the dogs to wipe off wet (possibly muddy) feet. Shelby goes through tennis ball withdrawal. Bianca just wants a warm lap. Tiffany poses no problems on rainy days as she simply finds a spot to nap all day.

Exercising is also a challenge for us during rainy weather. Since May, Ira and I have enjoyed a "lifestyle" change. We have reduced the size of our dinner portions, eat sensible breakfasts and enjoy bowls of fruit for our lunches. We also started walking after lunch. This consists of a brisk stroll to our mailbox and back - roughly 1.5 miles. We also play badminton every evening after dinner; usually the best 3 out of 5 games.

But when it rains - Ira and I don't get to take our walk and we have to postpone our badminton tournament until the rain clears. Instead, we play games on our Wii, but it just isn't the same.

However, we have "Plan B"...we have a treadmill (or "dreadmill", as I
like to call it!). One rainy day I decided that I was going to have my
walk - no matter what! So I boarded the treadmill and started my trek. I finished my 1.5 mile stroll in around 25 minutes.

I "discovered" something while walking on the treadmill. When it rains, I miss our walk on our road. Ira and I almost always notice something new on our walks. Sometimes it's tracks on the road left by deer or wild turkeys. In the past couple of weeks, we've noticed the first few leaves changing color. After several days of rain we see lots of colorful (and probably poisonous) mushrooms. The most important thing that we miss during rainy days is "our time". This is time that we spend together without the interruption of phones, e-mails, or even the dogs. While we walk, we enjoy having conversations. We find all kinds of things to talk about; from places we'd like to visit to stories from our respective childhoods.

While we don't have a plan to save the world from impending doom, we are making life better in our own little place on the step at a time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bittersweet Bloom

One of the things I love about life here at Grassybranch is that we have all four seasons.

The winters here are, for the most part, pretty mild. We might have one small snow; just enough for us to take the dogs out and play. What I like about winter is seeing the "bones" of the trees, and the clean, cold air. I welcome the end of winter, though. We get a couple of pleasantly warm days that give us a taste of the season that's just around the corner.

Spring is just beautiful here. the trees all have a sheen of pale green, the grass starts growing, and I take to the greenhouse to start my summer veggie crops. I particularly enjoy that part of springtime where we can open the windows for fresh air before the the pollen blankets everything. The temps are warm with low humidity, and the daffodils celebrate the season with blooms everywhere!

Summer arrives and brings with it, lots of heat! Luckily, the humidity doesn't get uncomfortable until August. The veggie garden is full of plants promising to fill the pantry and freezer. The flowers are all starting to bloom; butterflies and bees are everywhere and we start watching the wild blackberry bushes for the perfect day to harvest. Summer is also the season where the daylily garden is in full bloom; seeing the garden is like watching fireworks in the night sky ~ each bloom is prettier than the last until everything is blooming at once, offering a dazzling array of color.

Fall is the most restful of all the seasons. It's much cooler, and the humidity eases. The leaves begin to change their colors, transforming the entire area into a picture perfect palette of reds, golds, oranges, and purples. Although I enjoy this season, it carries with it a sadness. I must bid farewell to all the beautiful flowers that have decorated our home for the summer.

This past week I witnessed the final bloom of the season on one of my daylillies. It's my favorite; a vibrant red that was named for my grandmother, Anne Bridwell. When she saw it, didn't really care for the color. She preferred pale pink and dusty rose to bold colors like orange and red. But I think the flower is perfect. Even though the color is bold, this daylily has the sweetest, most gentle fragrance ~ I honestly believe that this is why the flower was named for her. My grandmother was a vibrant woman; she was independent into her 90's. She drove her own car, paid her own bills, cleaned her own home, cooked for and entertained friends and family. She had a wonderful sense of humor, a quick wit and warm spirit. I miss her still; particularly her scent...sweet and gentle...kind of like her daylily.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The girls...throughout my life we've always been there for each other. We consist of 3 sisters; Shirley, Barbara and Judy, Debbie and Cathy (Barbara's daughters), Carly (Cathy's daughter) and myself (I'm Shirley's daughter). Between us we've experienced 12 weddings and 7 divorces. We have been the moving party for each other, and have spent just about every Christmas together my entire life. We're close ~ we share something that I have discovered is quite rare...we've never fought with one another. When family members from out of town come to visit, the girls organize a dinner. We also have "girls' night in" for each other for our birthdays - we enjoy dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant and then back to Judy's to watch a movie over wine and snacks. We also take a couple of trips each year - Spring Fling and Fall Frolic. Yup - we're a close family, but we're also best friends. We owe this to our grandparents, who raised us to love and respect one another.

Okay, on to the adventure of the week...

Barbara & her husband Earl recently bought a new piece of furniture. What started out as a simple purchase of a bed evolved into a new bed, new hardwood flooring and fresh paint. Needless to say, their normally neat and tidy home was turned upside down in anticipation of paint and flooring crews. With the flooring done and the painting completed in the main living area, Barbara and Earl faced the daunting task of getting everything put away. On Saturday, I joined with "the girls" to help Barbara get her house back together. We just couldn't let her have all that fun by herself!

First, the flooring and the paint job were both gorgeous! My eyes panned around the room and then noticed that the sunroom was FILLED with all the living room furniture, lamps, pictures, etc...the kitchen was filled with dishes for the buffet and china cabinet. It was at that precise moment that although I know that Barbara and Earl have nice things...I didn't realize HOW MANY nice things they have...boxes and boxes of them!

Once all the girls arrived, we discussed where each piece of furniture should go. Once we got the furniture placed, then we started putting the smaller tables and cabinets in the room...then the things that are stored in them - Heaven forbid that they have a cabinet or drawer with nothing in it! That just wouldn't be right! Once we got one cabinet filled, we moved on to the next one. We stopped for lunch - Cathy and I via e-mail arranged for everyone to bring something to add to the lunch table - we had ourselves a small feast! Chicken salad and rolls, cherry tomatoes and cucumber spears, fresh concord grapes (off my vine),cheeses, crackers, Jell-o with fruit, coffee cake with cherry filling and blueberry/peach pie. See you tomorrow, Diet!

At the end of the day, Barbara had her living room all put back together, and her sunroom only had a few things that were going in other rooms. A rumble of thunder outside warned us that we were in for another storm. We all quickly got our "hug line" done and everyone headed for their respective homes.

On the way home, I reflected on the day. Barbara and Earl so appreciated us all jumping in to help get their house back in order and bring lunch to boot. We were all happy to help...who's house is next???

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taking the Plunge

This past Saturday, Ira and I went to his daughter's home to attend a wedding reception for her son and his bride. Ricky is the oldest of Kim's boys and the first of Ira's grandsons to get married. The "official" wedding took place in June at the Outer Banks ~ a very small affair attended only by parents and siblings.

When Ira and I delivered the cake the day before the party, we could see that some of the preparations had been made; the tents in were in place; the tables & chairs were arranged. When we arrived Saturday, the entire backyard had been decorated ~ WOW! It looked great! We could easily see that much work had been done. Kim's got a big yard so we knew that it took a good while to get all the decorations completed.

Kim originally planned that at the end of the reception, Ricky and Jen were going to jump in the pool and release the small was a scorching 90 degrees (give or take a few) outside and the balloons were popping from the heat. Kim told me that she was going to try to get all the activities done quickly and hopefully their would still be a few balloons left to release.

Once the guests arrived, Kim quickly set the pace for the party. She was part Mother of the Groom, and part Drill Sargent! I kinda liked it!

As a wedding gift to the couple, I took pictures to create a scrapbook/wedding album. Since the activities were being done at a frantic pace, I was running to keep up! Once everything was done, we were ready for the happy couple to "Take the Plunge".

"One...Two....Three" we all chanted and then a big splash and a round of applause and the formal reception was over and the laid back party could begin. And there were still a few balloons left for the happy couple to release to the air.
Ricky has found his Princess and Jen now has her Prince Charming...I hope they live happily ever after!

Monday, August 10, 2009

So far so good!

What a busy week it's been! Keith, Louise and Phillip flew up from Texas for the week. Mom brought everyone over on Sunday for a visit. Keith had only seen our place very briefly a few years ago just after we moved in - I was glad he got to see all the changes we made around here. He took lots of pictures to take home to show Annette. Ira also took off for Danville to visit his daughter and grandsons for a couple of days. I took care of the dogs while he was gone.

Monday was Mom's birthday, so we all went out for dinner at Plaza Azteca. We're a rowdy bunch; I hope the other diners didn't mind too much!

Tuesday Ira came home - he was beat, but glad that he had some one-on-one time with Sam.

Wednesday I took off to Newport News to pick up the gang for lunch and then to shop at the local craft store - we even found a large gem stone for Phillip - he was overjoyed! Louise got her first scrapbook...I think she got the "bug" while looking at everything in my scraproom!

Thursday Mom, Keith and the kids came over for dinner - spaghetti with homemade sauce! Yum! Keith and the kids were intoduced to our Wii games - they were hooked - my guess is that they will have a Wii by the end of the year - Keith really enjoyed the golf!

Friday was all about the girls! Mom and Louise met me, Barbara, Cathy and Carly in Williamsburg for an afternoon of shopping! We picked up a few things and had lunch at Sweet Madeline's.

Saturday I played "catch up". I got some housework done and generally relaxed.

Sunday I blanched and froze corn, canned some tomatoes, planned the menu for the next month, made the commissary shopping list and gathered up my coupons. I finished my day at roughly 11:20PM ; yes, I said PM!

Today we got an early start and took off to Wal-Mart. The temps were expected to be around the 100 mark. This evening I went to the King William Library for my monthly "Art Club" meeting - we even had 2 new people show up!

Now that our company has gone home, we all have gone back to our own respective routines. I've added "update my blog" to my Monday schedule! I've made it for the 2nd week - so far so good!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A new Attitude

When I was a young girl I had any number of diaries ~ with each new diary came a promise from myself to write my innermost thoughts on a daily basis...yeah right. The reality...each book contained an average of 2 weeks worth of my innermost thoughts and then I lost interest.

When I began my blog, I also made a promise to myself to post on a daily basis...guess what! Today's blog is yesterday's diary; so it comes as no great surprise that I started off with a bang and then fizzled out. This morning as I checked my normal online "haunts" my mouse pointed to my blog and I took a few minutes to re-read my posts. Then I pondered why I lost interest in posting. I read other blogs daily and am inspired by the dedication of other bloggers to keep posting on a daily basis.

But I had to finally admit to myself that I'm just not gonna post daily - it seems too much like a chore. Then I started thinking about trying to post once a week. "Hmmmm now that might work" I said to myself.

So here it is - my first weekly post.

I'll start off by summarizing what I've been busy with since JANUARY.

  • I entered two paintings in the Arts Alive exhibit at West Point High School. I even got my picture in the local paper!
  • I took off with the West Point Scrapbook Club for our first ever Scrap Retreat in the Outer Banks. I officially began work on my "Heritage Series". So far, I've finished 2 books.
  • Mom and I took off for a week long trip to Texas to see my brother Keith and his family. We took Mom to the Alamo and the Riverwalk in San Antonio for Mother's Day. Keith cooked breakfast and dinner for us. We had a great time.
  • I went to the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Chantilly, VA with my friends from West Point. We spent the day shopping and finished up with dinner at Lowery's in Tappahanock. It was a long day, but we all had a blast and are already looking forward to next year's convention.
  • My garden has yielded a bumper crop of tomatoes, cukes, squash, zucchini and green beans. I canned and froze a bunch of veggies; with more still growing on the vines. The corn's almost ready too. I also made and canned my own pasta sauce.
  • Keith and the kids are here this week for a visit. Annette's back at the ranch in Texas taking care of all the animals. All the girls are going shopping on Friday. Tonight we all went to Plaza Azteca to celebrate Mom's birthday. Boy am I pooped!

Well, that should catch me up so far. As I have promised myself though the years....while I may not post my innermost thoughts, I will do my best to highlight my week in review in life on the farm! Let's see how far I make it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A lifetime of memories in 10 Tubs

Yesterday I rolled up my sleeves and took down all of the downstairs Christmas decorations. It's always a little sad to pull everything down. The holiday season comes and goes in a flash, and since so much activity is squeezed into a few short weeks, there's hardly any time to just sit and enjoy all the decorations.

My lighted Christmas Village is still alive and well in the spare room upstairs until I muster up enough energy to handle taking down my "urban sprawl". Honestly, I haven't taken that down because I still want to enjoy it for a while.

I have all of my Christmas decorations stored in 10 plastic tubs, including our Christmas tree, which takes up 2 tubs. When I start to decorate, I open each tub and welcome not only my decorations, but the memories that go along with them. Each ornament has special meaning, every table decoration, a story. I relish each memory like an old friend. During the course of the holidays, new memories are made, and along with the new memory, an ornament or decoration marks its place and joins the rest of the times that make this season so special.

I guess that's why taking down the decorations is so bittersweet. I spend weeks planning menus, months making gifts and after all of the plans and preparations, it's over in a 24 hour period of time! Just when the party starts getting good, it's over. Don't get me wrong; I look forward to the new year and all of the challenges and opportunities that come with it. I just wish I had the ability to slow down the pace during the holidays so I can reminisce at a comfortable speed. But until I figure out how to do that, I'll just say "so long" to my lifetime of memories that live in 10 tubs.