Monday, May 31, 2010

in which I laugh at myself heartily

On a scale of things that need to be given attention, I'm afraid that writing a blog entry has been low on the list. Anyway, I haven't felt poetic in what seems like eons. But a little self-deprecating humor can fill in for deep, introspective thoughts. Here goes.

Quite reluctantly, I spent a few hours on Saturday packing up junk ("junque") in the garage. The boxes are headed to a friend's barn where she is holding a barn sale, proceeds to be donated to our church. Amidst the sorting of crazy clutter, I wondered whether she was accepting clothing. I put in a quick call to inquire, got the phone machine, and this is how my recorded message went:

"Oh hi, Bonnie, it's Nancy to let you know I am packing up a bunch of boxes for your sale. I was checking to see what the requirements were: like, no clothing.
Well, not "no clothing" on you....."no clothing" at the sale.
I mean, for sale at the sale.
(hysterical laughter from me)
Umm. Never mind. I'll talk to you later.


Today I was on the river with #1 Son and a friend of his from college who has been staying with our family for the last few weeks. I was in my kayak; they were in a canoe. Upon my request, we paddled perilously close to the falls in order to see if we could budge a large tree that was blocking the dam. We couldn't. It is very large and very stuck in the silty muck.

I was attempting to climb over it, hoist my kayak to the other side, and paddle the last few yards to the dock, rather than paddle all the way back around the island -when I pulled one of these.
This time, I added a creative twist. My feet stubbornly stayed in the kayak, my arms stubbornly held on to the wet log, and my behinder-parts fell into the river. I was too beside myself in laughter to do anything about bettering my predicament, so I stayed there while the boys shouted frantic helpful advice.

"Stand up. It's only two feet deep!"

"NO. I don't want to stick my feet in the muck."

"Let me pull you up onto the log. (unsuccessful)

"Get into the canoe." (also unsuccessful)

"Swim to shore." (not appealing. Again, muck.)

I finally braced myself, stood up in the muck, got myself back on my little green boat, retrieved my floating shoes, and went home soaking wet.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BBQ weather

While Hubby is away in the Dominican Republic eating rice & beans and preaching on national TV, we are doing our own little thing in the old stone home.

Last night we hosted a BBQ. Around thirty people showed up, which was totally fine with me, since I was merely the hostess. This spunky young lady , who wore a much-admired frilly apron all evening, was the generator of the whole she-bang -which included a whole table full of delicious food, guys who showed their mad skills at grilling burgers & chicken, and all sorts of fun.

We serenaded the birthday boy as he sat on the grassy hillside overlooking the splashing river.
We took turns kayaking and sitting on the rocks while the water coursed over our ankles and elbows.
We played whiffle-ball.
We taste-tested my first batch of ginger beer.
We ate on the front porch, at the harvest table, in the back yard, and standing up around the kitchen island.
We threw legos into the electric fan to see what would happen. ( well, only one of us- a four year old- did this. What happened was a shredded lego, of course!)
We sat around talking about the hot hot weather.
We proclaimed that summer is officially here while eating home-made cherry pie with whipped cream.

It was a wonderful BBQ, and what a joy to be able to share our humble home fir the occasion. Speaking of our humble home, things are slowly shaping up outside. I really should post some pics of the garden, the new lawns, the flowering shrubs the road crew put in, and the invasive bamboo that is crawling up the hill and popping up all over the yard.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

two lists

Here is a list of things I really need to do:

-clean out the garage. stat.
-finish planting the garden.
-weed the entire yard. (Or, in the wise words of Amelia Bedelia, "UN-weed" the enire yard.)
-organize the pantry.
-replenish the pantry.
-put away all our winter clothes.
-take out all our summer clothes.
-find a place to put all the clothes, seeing that we only have limited closet space.
-finish painting all the interior trim the the house, including the kitchen.
-generally clean the whole house.

I do not feel like doing ANY of that stuff.

Here is a list of things I have done instead:

-made home-made yogurt and home-made ginger beer. I have also regularly made sour dough bread with a starter that I keep in a jar. These days, I am into culturing my own food. I don't know why.

-kayaked every possible day. The idea is to put distance between myself and all that housework/yardwork. This idea backfires every time I have to turn my little boat around and point homeward.

-made a paper mache bird and decorated it with craft paper, buttons, and lace. I gave it to Louissa, who appreciated it very much even though it looked like a third-grader's craft. Sometimes I suspect her enthusiasm was merely good manners, but other times I am convinced I really made her day.

-played the piano only enough to squeak through finals week unscathed. I collected my money and blew it on odds & ends. Such a naughty girl.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

my kids

First, I asked Jon if I could pilfer the photos he took of my kids.
Then, I pilfered them.

Couldn't be simpler.

That last one is my favorite. I don't know why.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

a truckload of activity

I give you a smattering of what has filled my life this week:

-I fed many many mouths.
More than I can count.

One evening, it was a special birthday dinner for Hubby. (NY strip steak, baked potatoes & sour cream, grilled veggies, stir-fried broccoli & carrots, and spelt shortbread with fruit & whipped cream for dessert.) Another evening, it was 20 college students who were invited to an end-of-the-year bash. (grilled chicken, potato salad, sourdough bread, fresh fruit, and iced tea.) Oh yes, before all this we had a few random yet beloved friends over for roast chicken. Blueberry pie was on the dessert menu. (Tremendously delish, thanks to #1 Daughter!)

Yesterday I made a chicken pot pie with leftovers. Hubby would be home alone for dinner and the poor guy needed some sustenance.

Today was a birthday party for #1 Daughter. First we made an onion-spinach tart for breakfast. Only three guests joined us for this treat, which was fortunate. It meant seconds all around.

For the party, we had hamburgers & hot dogs, chips & salsa, and a huge vat of fruit salad. We also rescued vanilla-buttermilk cupcakes which had gone hilariously and inexplicably WRONG. We crumbled them up and made a layered trifle with fresh fruit and whipped cream, which was such a hit that we will actually plan to do it another time.

There is a lesson in such mishaps.

It has been a week of culinary excess and because of that, I am DONE with meal-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and serving food forever & ever.

-I played the piano for many singers.

Firstly, there is a lovely girl at Crane working on a concerto audition. We are learning a set of raucous & ravishing songs by Darius Milhaud. (For the uninitiated, his name is pronounced "Mee-OH". Now you know.) We have a dress rehearsal tomorrow. I only agreed to this rehearsal because I totally forgot about Mother's Day. So. Guess what I'm doing after church on Mother's Day?

Secondly, I volunteered to be the sole pianist for a fund-raising event last night at the college. It involved rehearsing (Thursday night) and performing (last night) a selection of musical theater excerpts with a talented crew. It was hard work and fun and stress and exhaustion and exhilaration all rolled into one. I was thrilled to share the stage with my pastor (who played a mean bass) and one of his mad-talented daughters (who played a smoking guitar). Any musical journey is a richer treat with them by my side!

-I attended a number of prayer gatherings.

All the celebrations, all the rehearsing, all the meals, all the wonder of the vibrancy of the greening & blossoming season, all of this could not erase the pain of a friend who is nearing the end of her life. Without a divine miracle, she will not be with us much longer. The love of the church body has been an overflowing cup; a cup renewed daily by the Giver of Life. I am privileged to be a part of this outpouring.

Pray for my friend Linda.

Friday, May 07, 2010

brewing up some snappy goodness

I am SO making this!

Homemade Ginger Ale:
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
7 cups water

In a small pot, add the grated ginger, sugar and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve. Remove pan from heat and let the syrup steep and cool for about 30 minutes.
Strain the syrup through a fine sieve. Mix with the lemon juice, yeast and 2 qts of water. Whisk together and using a funnel, pour into a plastic bottle. Screw the cap on the bottle. Make sure it is a plastic bottle and not glass as the gases from the fermentation can crack the glass jar.

Let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 days until carbonation forms. Make sure to refrigerate after it starts to carbonate.

Monday, May 03, 2010

one more week of school

We turned in for the night after hoisting the front windows to let the moist, warmish spring air do its thing. It huffed and puffed in tender breaths, bringing in the sweetness of fresh-perfumed air and reminding me that there were dust bunnies under the bed.

"It's late," I advised my house-cleaner. "You can sweep them up another day."

Who am I kidding. I am my own house-cleaner.

We tossed our winter blanket onto the dust bunny-littered floor and set our sights for the Land of Winken, Blinken, and Nod.

After a few blissful hours of deep & satisfying slumber, I awakened abruptly with the jarring thought that #1 Son was not yet home for the evening. It was going on 2:30 am, so I rousted my limber joints from my bed and padded downstairs to have a thorough look-see. Nope. No college-aged body on the couch.

I reluctantly but firmly punched in his number on my phone. Ring. Ring. And then a sleepy voice:


"Hey, where are you? It's 2:30 in the morning!"

(Clearing throat) "Um. At school."

"Why are you THERE?"

"I'm sleeping." (inflection: DUH, mom....)

It had completely slipped my mind that he had another week of school.
Let's hope that he thought the whole conversation was a dream, shall we?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

the new garden

It usually takes a few weeks of warmer weather, the sight of blossoming tulips, the smell of fresh dirt, and the purchase of a new spade and garden gloves ( two items that mysteriously disappear every year) to get excited about gardening. Luckily, these harbingers come together right around the first of May -which in northern New York is just in time to order seeds.

This year, an additional motivating factor is our new location! Hubby has prepped the new garden bed with rotted manure, which doesn't sound too romantic but really it is. Today he picked up a friend's broken rototiller in order to repair it and use it on our garden. So far, my only job has been to tromp out the borders, choose seeds online (easy-peasy), and sketch out the general planting scheme.

I do love vegetable gardening.

As for rounding up extra troops to help, I am golden this year. #1 Daughter has declared emphatically that she is in on this project. Our new friend up the street (the sweet teenage guy who endeared himself to us by showing us where wild leeks grow) is also quite enthused about our garden project.

Would it be too much to wish that Friend #12 would come home from Korea for a few weeks? She is a regular garden-a-holic, if there is such a thing. We surely have had fun doing outdoor projects together in summers past.

Gardens are wonderful things about which to dream.