This would have been my love of a lifetime’s 89th birthday: July 16. Didn’t happen, sorry to say. But his being seven years deceased in no way dims the good memories—vibrant as ever and worth the telling. He made his musician/teaching mark professionally, but for me, all the best days of our fifty-eight married years—and the five years leading up to that momentous occasion—made a personal mark. I can picture Frank up front on the H.S. band’s lead bus headed for Disney World announcing ,“Let the good times roll!” And did they ever! Time after time.
Bird’s eye viewers
When we had reached retirement age and opportunity and had saved enough of what we’d earned, travelling became one of our favorite things to do. Besides enjoying the Maritime Provinces twice, a Rocky Mt. Railway cross-Canada plus two Australia/New Zealand treks made indelible photos-in-the-mind. And…
It didn’t start out as planned. Last night I had set out what I’d wear to appointments today. But sleep came late–or should I say early? 6 A.M. was both since my dental appointment was for 9:40 and my eyes never opened till 9:20 when my bladder said “GO!” I went. I flew. I pulled on black pants. Oops! I pulled them back off and switched to the navy blue that was to go with my green and navy top. A minute wasted. Short version: I power-walked and was in the waiting area two minutes early. Good! After a 10-minute wait, my little cavity was filled–no dreaded conflict over maybe having to refuse a numbing swab. I was only $96 poorer and home by 10:10. Good!
Off to the Primary Care facility in the rain, dreading traffic tie-ups for bridge repair work which began yesterday and will continue into August. I ‘ve been getting finger-stick blood tests often since lately hit with Atrial Fibrillation. With careful monitoring, inching toward the right dosage of blood thinner. Well, today’s technician was faster, caused less pain, and admired my “Forever Love” ring with it’s yellow gold, rose gold edges, sterling silver and rosy stylized hearts. Today’s results? “Doing fine,” said the doctor, “See you in 4 weeks.” Good! By driving the long way around through a neighboring town, not one traffic hitch. Good!
Having eaten no breakfast, lunch in town seemed diabetic-wise. Chicken ‘n’ waffles, the day’s special. Silky smooth gravy salted sparingly, tender chicken, tasty green peas, fluffy mashed potatoes and thick fresh waffles. The yummiest ever. Good!
With a sense of apprehension, I stopped off at the mall, Reward Coupon in hand and two receipts from a shopping-gift spree two days ago. I kind of expected a “no.” As cheerfully as could be, the customer service woman went through the long list, handed me back new receipts with the 15% off on my department store credit card. Good! I was so elated I shopped and shopped. For myself. Found exactly the shirt and tank tops I was looking for to compliment the lovely lavender-stone bracelet, mother’s day gift from my older daughter. I saved lots with that same 15% off coupon. Good! Exiting the store, I held the door from shutting on a youngish man and he politely said “Thanks.” Good!
One last stop: the pharmacy drop-off. As a reminder to pick it up later, I marked my desk calendar with a colorful little pill bottle sticker, Mothers’ Day gift from my younger daughter. Good! Never really got wet in today’s spritzy walking and driving. Discovered several spring flowers had bloomed overnight in my gardens with more than one making a bright splash. Good!
It’s no wonder I can’t scrub the stain from under my nails. I’ve improved the soil here over the years till its almost dark as coffee—black, no cream. And every spring/summer day I’m in awe of how the weeds just eat it up. Somehow weed-pulling in earnest feels easiest when done with bare hands—no thought for lady-like nails.
Yesterday I pulled the mother-of-wild-onions. No intent toward competition like mine’s bigger than yours, I actually measured it: thirty-six inches from about-to-flower top to bulbous root and strings. Wild onions are easiest rooted out when ignored till tall and tough. I couldn’t ignore handfuls of healthy almost-seeded others where weeds had been snatched only a day earlier—and days and months before. I wonder what possessed me to glance Heavenward and think “Thank you for watering my gardens.” Had I forgotten? Weeds flourish among the flowers– especially when well-watered.
Still, the daily eye-popping surprises are wondrous–many old faithful friends (some passed down through generations of care) and some, 2013 fall’s new plantings. My lavender clematis (proper name of which escapes me)—way clingier and climbing than last year, flaunted several blossoms instead of only one. Then another clematis crept in under the bank of vines sprawling the length of the patio railing and there it lay—in single-blossom purple glory on the concrete floor! Pretty as a picture.
The old rose we planted twenty-three years ago (in honor of our 40th wedding anniversary) surprised me in June as I had thought it a goner. One perfect hot-pink blossom, when full out, defied the support of its spindly stem. So I cut it for indoor display, stuck it in a skinny crystal bud vase and supported it with Mock Orange sprigs from the old faithful bush my dad (Thanks, Pop!) had rooted for my yard—a heritage from my childhood home. Setting the fragrant bouquet down, I could not refrain from bursting forth a snatch of the tune my husband always sang to me when I could not, for the life of me, recall the rose’s name: “Unforgettable . . . that’s what you are . . .” I’ve wondered how that stuck in the mind of a man who admittedly didn’t know begonia from verbena. But my music-man, wonder-of-wonders, always had it on the tip of his baritone tongue.
Today I took him a small pot with two—almost three—red Gerbera Daisies in bloom. Minus a few weeds, a temporary enhancement to his red/white/ & blue mini garden. Mini red and white roses already in full bloom grace our memorial site—perfect timing to honor the dear deceased patriot—lovable/loving/UNFORGETTABLE father of my children. Bless us one and all!
Nature in itself holds marvelous lessons and if you are lucky, an artist of natural talent may take a huge chunk out of his day to show you in detail how he creates. That’s exactly what happened today in the natural habitat of one friendly former music-teaching colleague who has thoroughly synchronized hobby and sales in a unique art form. He and his partner produce time-intensive house and garden products called Leaf-‘crete. They showcase the products in many unusually creative ways and locations throughout the extensive landscaping and on building exteriors.
I had assumed we were going there just to deliver a few fresh fig leaves from which specific items are to be created. But to my delight, we got up-close viewing, details of the creative process, and actually handled all manner of items like patio tables (set on metal stands of varying heights)–permanent duplications of Elephant Ears–bright green. Burdock, we were reminded, was a traditional Italian food–staple or treat, I’m not sure, but I had heard of it through in-laws. I will display one now even though my only personal knowledge of burdock was in the dried stage when outside pets encountered the burrs that clung painfully to their coats.
On every Leaf-‘crete tag we could read the name of the plant leaf from which it was designed. We tried on pendants, one of which I identified as a geranium leaf ‘though the color is an iridescent autumn rust. That beauty on a black cord currently hangs around my neck. Other petite leaves–magnet style–will find their way into Christmas ’13 stockings. Among the unexpected gems, we discovered irresistible leaf oil lamps. We paid attention to suggestions for safety and wick adjustment and can hardly wait to see them lighted and gracing little tables inside or out as the season dictates.
This is Pennsylvania’s time of year to shine big-time and parts of route 80 are already decked out in royal bright color contrasted with green. Days later, the reverse drive to the east should be even more of an eyeful. However, what artists and creative genius can do with leaves has been an unexpected discovery. One of lasting beauty.
Was I missed? Probably not since cyberspace is filled to overflowing with words, many of which strike me as inconsequential as anything I might have written during this lengthy hiatus from my blog site. Why the keyboard vacation? I’m thinking technology glitches and company changes provided my best excuse. I have been inspired dozens of times, but the thoughts and observations that never felt the business end of a pen had not a faint chance of making it to a keyboard.
Herein lies an exception scribbled on a tablet : “I Heard a Forest Praying . . .” Actually, I Saw a Forest Praying over and over and heard the music in my head–in three-part harmony, just like I remembered it written for a women’s choral piece. Visiting my older daughter over a week, I experienced this exhilarating sight on an extremely windy spring day. Sitting at her kitchen table close to the sliding glass door, how the strong winds did sweep across the backyard edged by woods!
The lower branches bowing simultaneously like giant green fans–kept me entertained for long moments at a time. I cannot know about the praying part, but I am very sure any queen would have felt honored from slipper to crown at the deference–the bowing–of those trees in concert. I was reminded of my own backyard view with lilac hedge as a backdrop. The show of lavender and white beauty arrived earlier in April than ever. short-lived, but generously fragrant. But alas, only a forest in passing brought music to my ears. Lilacs don’t bend at all.
What do you do when you’ve shoveled the walks front and back and you aren’t expecting anyone but the mail carrier? You won’t be driving anywhere today. You going to just sit there and read?
Not today. Write? Maybe. But first I’ll make an inordinate number of trips between the best window and door views–taking photos again–repeating myself in awe-filled tones on how light and easy the frozen raindrop pebbles were scraped and tossed. “Just like granulated sugar,” I’ll say. Again.
Then as predictably as snowfalls beautify our northeastern landscape in January, I’ll start to bake. Or cook. But no Chef–like The Ranting Amateur whose postings I admire — I may try something I fancied on a recent magazine cover. I’m thinking I’ll make Anadama bread in all its molasses glory another snowy day before spring. That Betty Crocker Cookbook (first edition–1950) recipe, brown finger smudges and all, isn’t going anywhere.
Yes. On the first snowfall of the weekend I’m thinking soup. I set oven temp at 425 degrees and start cutting into 1-inch cubes the butternut squash I brought home weeks ago with good intentions. Softer now, cutting 1/2 to 1-inch discs across the solid end is a snap for paring. NOTE: Select butternut squash with smallest bulbous end for fewer seeds and fiber to discard.
A half dozen nice-sized carrots (thinly scraped with a peeler) get cut to 1-inch pieces and tossed in a big bowl with a half dozen (if small) whole garlic cloves and a sliced medium onion. 2 tbsp of olive oil and a scant shake of salt and pepper (to taste) will coat the tossed vegetables. On a cookie sheet, turn all with spatula halfway through 30 minutes in oven.
I set timer for two 15-minute segments so I can’t forget.
In 3-4 batches (depending on food processor capacity, puree vegetables along with the 4 cups of chicken stock. Mine was pretty and more textured (just the way I like it) with bits and pieces of the two shades of orange. Rather than sweeten with the whole TBSP of brown sugar, as in the original recipe, I pared and microwaved 2 smallish Gala apples in 1 tsp water 4-5 minutes while vegetables were baking, pureeing together.
When bringing soup to simmer for serving, add 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/4 tsp nutmeg to the pot. (panini croutons optional)
I have two lovely Pfaltzgraff tureens–one gray, one blue. But my smaller ceramic pumpkin was the perfect size for about 9 one-cup servings. Perfect color to warm up my snowy day!
How hard could it be? A three-letter word. And the ad writer got only one out of the three letters correct?
I’m one of the few persons I know who, if I like it, will happily read a story–a book– more than once. So the Hallmark holiday story I had seen in a previous season was holding my interest. Good writing. Fine acting. Just the right amount of pathos.
The end of the Kris Kringle saga was approaching and I might have been resting my eyes. That’s how excited I am about the interminable commercials. I should not have looked up, but so close to bedtime (for normal folks) the side-by-side beds alternately humping up and down looked kind of inviting while amusing. Then what to my wondering eyes did appear–a 3-letter doozy, not fuzzy–real clear!
DON’T JUST LAY THERE
What? Kris Kringle, the matress-ad writer goes straight to the top of your naughty list and gets a BIG lump of coal in his/her stocking. And for good measure, you might tuck in a note that says, “Go back to the third grade and unless you’re a chicken, don’t just lie there. Learn.”