Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Progress part two

Progress has been made on the new guest room. After a search for window treatments,
I realized maybe the same color as the wall would be just right, and I think it is.
 There are no yellow curtains to be found, and I didn't feel like sewing something.
These were cheap but will work at least for now. 
In the window area is the large traditional stool we brought from West Africa.
The changes from the last post are subtle. I found shams after a dramatic
search deep, deep into the back of the shelves at T. M.'s ... it was the only actual
pair (two of a kind) I could find, and exactly what I wanted. And reduced in price! 
Quilted dresser scarves were perfect to go along with the bed quilt, and
I love aqua so much I had to add that pop of color. I looked a lot for something
round to go over the bed, and suddenly realized what I wanted was hanging in
our porch. I may paint it white, not sure.
I discovered a favorite family photo in my parents' boxes.
I'm so happy to have it in a simple frame, hanging in this room.
Baby brother was in Mom's tummy, but I love the
rest of us sitting with our collie dog in front of the house
our dad built us, back in the idyllic fifties.

I think I'm done for now unless we sometime find the perfect headboard.
Joining Mary's Monday Mosaics, and trusting everyone will be safe in this monster storm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

voter distractions

We interrupt the guest room redo for a true confession story about voting. It was a glorious, warm, fall day. Maybe one of the last warm ones. Leaves are "peaking." The Gardener and I went out to exercise our freedom by casting our early vote. In true unorganized last minute fashion, I ran to the computer to print off the list of who all we wanted to vote for, including the judges. When I first saw the list, the judges were at the end, in a tidy row. At least I thought I remembered that. I'm sure it was on some list I saw.

The first distraction to my vote was that we voted at an empty doctor's building that years ago was my ob/gynie's office building. My second distraction was a woman offering us a list of judges to vote for. Was this legal? Then I realized she was quite a distance from the door. Then the woman who did my final check-in lives up the street from me and our conversation about sinking yards further distracted me.

As I stood in my little booth I gazed out on what had been the waiting room for my doctor. I started thinking about the many, many hours I had sat in that room waiting for appointments. And then I suddenly remembered that on my last visit I had left a piece of me there. Whenever I think of carrying my uterus and appendix home from Africa in a jar of formaldehyde, I get a bit amused, remembering the reactions during security checks. I had placed it on my doctor's desk, wanting pathology done on it.

So I went ahead, focused the best I could, and placed my vote. I carefully followed my list as it went pretty much in order. At the end were the judges. But at the end of my cheat sheet, the judges were missing. I glanced over at the Gardener. He certainly was taking a long time. Was he upset that the judge list was missing? I nervously tried to find it on an email via my phone, even though a large sign on the wall over the Gardener's head said "Do not use cell phones." Did that include using the internet? It was really too dark in the room to see the phone anyway.

Later, to my chagrin, I found the judges tucked in the middle of the list, not in the order of the ballet as the other names had been. I need to stick to my normal polling place where there are no distractions.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

a work in progress

      I was busy last week getting a spare bedroom into shape for weekend guests. Sometimes a push is what you need. But I first was waiting for the carpenter to repair a wall before the painting could begin. After the painting, the mattress could be moved from its temporary home in our dining room to where it was intended to be.
      I love the gray color of the walls, but it teased me as I painted, for it looked so blue. The room is larger than it looks and after two coats of paint I felt like I had run a marathon. We "shopped the house" for things to use in the room. The only exception so far is the GW lamp next to the bed. I was amazed to even find a gray bedskirt tucked away in a drawer. The quilt is an old one given to me by a good friend. I think I like yellow and gray color scheme and am seeing it more and more. Here are the "befores and afters."

 Still needed: window treatments, some sort of headboard, shams and more appropriate coverings on the dresser and old sewing machine table, and some pictures on the wall. So stay tuned for another installment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

about the shoes

Only another blogger can truly understand the community and friendships that form through blogging. It's like living on the same street with other persons who come out of their houses and chat over the fences on a regular basis. They share stories, ideas, crafts, thoughts and so on. The one thing about blogging, though, is that you can pick and choose what you talk about. That might not be so easy in a real life neighborhood.

So it warmed my heart when a bloggie friend emailed me during the day I retired from my nursing job. She was thinking about me for she also had retired from nursing and "got" what I was going through. It meant so much. Thank you T.

Then last week I received a card (see photo) in the mail with a familiar sweeping penmanship --- for I had heard from this friend before. In fact, she helped me figure out what to do about my mantle-less fireplace. She also was remembering my retirement and wrote me a whole lovely note about shoes--the ones I would put away and the new ones I would put on. What sweet thoughts she cheered me with as I ponder this new life and adjust to the changes and the "hole" I feel in my life right now. And as I figure out the new shoes to wear. Thank you H!

It's not that I haven't been busy --- way too busy in fact. So I haven't had time to fully take in what I have done. I've purposely not jumped into a lot of things. I want to take my time and just see how life plays out for now. The feeling that something is missing may continue for awhile, but I will add that there is great pleasure in not having to work weekends!

Just a few minutes after the Gardener and I sat on our bed with my laptop--a few months ago, made our final decision about my retirement and pressed the "yes" box to SS,  I happened to read a blog post of another bloggie friend who that very week had retired from her job. She shared a poem that has come to mean so much to me in this new adventure. It was like the hand of God tapping my shoulder in approval. Thank you P.

The Dawn of Something New
The morning sun warms my face, while the daily grass washes my feet. 
I am renewed, and for the first time in a long time, I breathe fresh air deep 
into my body and my noisy being quiets. 
Suddenly, my ears awaken and I hear your clear voice. Love overwhelms me and 
the trees and rocks and mountains celebrate. 
Touch me dear Lord, give me peace beyond understanding, joy unspeakable and 
unwavering faith for the journey.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 20, 2012

the mantle autumnal

For years I had a yearning to decorate a mantle, which was nonexistent in this house until last year.
I find it more of a challenge than I imagined. 
Especially since many things do not stand out against rosey red bricks.
First come the ancestors, of course. Always in my house. This little girl is my mama at about two.
Candles are always good. You see those and books all over our house. 
And, of course, blue and white.
So there we are. Tweaked many times. A work in progress until it's time for the next season.

Joining Mary's Little Red House for Monday Mosaics. And the Inspired Room for the Holiday Nesting Party

Thursday, October 18, 2012

a little of this; a little of that

The Gardener was away and it was the perfect evening to celebrate a birthday with girlfriends. 
(We could lower the lights and enjoy candlelight without the men 
complaining they couldn't see their food.)  :-)
 I brought out my old wedding china, still in perfect condition. 
Is it my imagination or are daisies popular again?
I've not grown tired of these! 
Autumn flowers from the garden and from a friend's gift to me.
See all the little bowls? Waiting for toppings for the curry. It's a really fun meal to serve.
Chicken curry, or "Daffa Duka" (a recipe I got from Kenya, supposedly 
meaning "a little of this and a little of that) ... curry is popular in many countries:

1 chicken boiled and cut up (or use chicken breasts ... whatever)
2-3 apples peeled and cut up into small chunks
1 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic
2 Tb. oil
Cook the above for about five minutes then add
2 Tb. flour
3 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
  Add 2 C of milk and heat through well til sauce thickens

(I often halve again this recipe, and add a little chicken flavoring.)

Serve over rice with the following toppings at room temperature:

Topping ideas (I never use them all) --best chopped into small size: 
chopped hard boiled eggs
chopped peanuts
red onions
seeded grapes
orange slices
 sweet peppers
dried noodles

A chutney I prefer: one can of small chopped tomatoes, drained.
Add 1 Tb. sugar, 2 Tb. lemon juice, 1 Tb. vinegar and 1/2 C finely chopped red onion.
Best to marinate in frig for a few hours and serve at room temperature.

One thing I have learned over the years is to let toppings warm up to room temperature, 
otherwise adding them to a hot curry will cool it down too quickly.

I hope you'll try this if you haven't had it before!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Autumn

 I decided to look back at October archives to find published blog pics for this month's Card Party.
Which was almost not necessary as 50 % are indoor shots!
 The above was one of the most read blog posts I've done. 
If you want to see more of it, you can go here, and see the source for this creativity. 
I can tell this is a few years ago, before the moss started climbing
 up through the cracks between our pavers!

Please consider joining or at least visiting Vee's Card Party ... it's lots of fun!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Last weekend "Littlest" started playing with his daddy's and uncle's match box cars. 
When our boys were little they called them "gatch gotch cars." 
He got right into it, and seemed particularly drawn to the big tires and the bus. 
"Vroom..vroom .." a natural sound inborn in small boys.
And then a little read with Grandpa in his daddy's R. Scarry's 
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go book ...
It all just warms this grandma's heart!

Friday, October 12, 2012

a solitary lunch

The G. works from a home office so I rarely am home alone unless he travels. 
But today he is away so in my solitude I decided to have eggs for lunch. 
It looked so pretty, I had to take a picture. I'm sure the green plate added to the "good looks."
Recipe: Saute two eggs with salt and pepper, a few fresh spinach leaves 
(both nutritious and a wonderful color addition), some feta cheese, and 
a tad of left-over tomato chutney. I added some red pepper flakes. 
I'd say it was delicious!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

early fall on the porch

We enjoyed an early fall dinner on the porch with friends while the weather still allowed it. 
Simple fare, simple table, and good conversation. The last of that sentence 
is the best part of having friends over.
I love using these veggie chips as starters. They are not only good, but colorful and fun!
Connecting with Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

after they go

It seems especially quiet after a busy weekend of family filling the house. 
I often find reminders of the little ones who were here, and 
I love to guess just what their little minds were thinking as they played.
For instance, why this zebra in such an elevated place of honor?
 I think he belongs back in Noah's ark!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

color in the rain

 Today's cool, gray weather reminds me of our day in Chicago two weeks ago. 
I have to say I enjoyed the rain and the clouds and sitting in a coffee shop watching 
the people pass by. I also noticed how many were on their cell phones, whether 
it was walking down a people-packed street, or riding the train into the city. People seem so 
connected to technology they don't even notice the real people around them.
I noticed spots of color midst the gray weather and buildings, such as the orchestra pavilion. 
And I think this building with the cheery windows was my favorite of all!
Please visit Mary's Little Red House to see more mosaics!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

since birth

The day I turned 16 we were packing to leave the only home I had known. My father would not let me tell anyone the news of our move until he had announced it to his congregation. My very best friend was on her family vacation at the time. I remember writing a letter that would be waiting her arrival back home, so she would hear the news from me first. We had been friends since I was born, if that's possible! She was six months older, and "waiting for me" in the church nursery when my mother first brought me there. Our parents were friends and colleagues. Maybe that's why we formed an instant attachment. The first 16 years of our lives we were inseparable. Then I moved away, and at the same time she began dating a young man she would later marry. I came back to be in their wedding; she missed mine as her first child was due on our wedding date.
We've always kept in touch, and seen each other occasionally over the years. We've been e-mailing quite a bit this year as it is the centennial anniversary of the church we grew up in, where she has attended all her life. We are having a ball scanning in old photos and remembering ...

Last week we had dinner with S. and her husband in their home. I was amazed. The starters, the meal, the dessert, her china and table setting, her love of blue and white ... could have been mine. I told her I felt like I was at home. How could we be so alike? We happen to both in the middle of three sisters, we're both nurses, we both are the care-givers to our parents, we both have ended up being writers, and editors ... we both have tall husbies ... and so the comparisons could go on.
It's interesting to think about what our friendship would be like if I had never moved. Even so, we've kept close, writing letters, cards at birthdays and holidays. It's one of those friendships where you just pick up where you left off. What a joy. But I'm still pondering our visit. I think what tickled me the most was when she offered cheese as a topping on her apple pie. That is my favorite, but when I suggest it, people here in the south look at me like I'm a bit crazeee.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Forty-one years ago I marched with my friends out into a garden surrounded by the sky scrapers of Manhattan. In a minuscule post-60s rebellion we trimmed our uniform hemlines to the knees. It was a proud moment in my life as I walked up to receive my B.S. degree in nursing, starched cap pinned to the back of my head. The crisp uniforms, white stockings and caps are long gone, and this week, after gainfully using that degree for all but 6 of these 41 years, I pack away my scrubs--the uniforms of today.

The scrubs are just the smallest symbol of the changes that I've seen come to my beloved profession over these many years. Bureaucracy has imposed itself in more ways than I care to be a part of any more. Time for patient care seems short changed by "progress" and there's no going back to how things used to be. But I think the exhausting 12 hour shifts is what sealed the deal for me. It is time to go.

And so such a sobering time has come to me. For my nursing was never just a job, it was a life calling to the very core of my being. Since a small child, I dreamed of being a nurse. I went to a very competitive nursing school so graduating was a huge success for me.  Over the years I have loved making patients more comfortable, helping their families cope, and in the last 24 years, I've enjoyed a job helping new moms learn how to breastfeed and care for their wee ones. Working in a big city hospital has provided enough human interest stories to fill a book. And so I will miss it as I retire this week. It's a bit like having an arm cut off. It will be an ache for a long time.

But I will adjust. Of course I have a long list of long neglected projects needing to be done and friends to have coffee with. My mother needs more attention, I long to spend more time with our grandchildren, and I look forward to continuing to encourage younger women.

My bedside alarm clock has been set to 5:02 for many, many years. Set so I would wake to the weather of the day and then the traffic, anticipating the early morning commute. My guess is the alarm may not always stay at that time, but it's my internal clock that will continue to wake me before dawn.

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