Such a Treat

The weather this fall has been just incredible!

Oh, we've had some chilly days and some rain, but - for the most part - we've had warm-ish temperatures and a good share of sunshine.

Here it is, the last week in October, and I still have some of my containter plants outside!

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I still enjoy sitting in my garden swing every day, and we're still having drinks-on-the-patio as often as we can manage it.

Shoot -- I'm still wearing my flip flops!

What a wonderful fall!  Such a treat. . . 

A Postcard from The Edge

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I've decided that - now and again - I'll send you a postcard . . . from the edge.  Just a little postcard-sized message about this or that.  We'll see how it goes.  Maybe it will work out; maybe it won't.  (Humor me.)

Here goes. . .





Dear friends,

Last night Tom and I went to see The Book of Mormon.  O.M.Gosh!  What a fun show.  We laughed and laughed and laughed - from the beginning to the end.  I don't think I've ever laughed so much during a musical.  And now? Well, now we need to see it again sometime so we can pick up on all the stuff we missed because we were laughing so hard.

Wish you were here.




A Breakfast to Remember

Welcome to Think Write Thursday -- a blogging joint-venture by Kat and Carole.  Each week, they will release a topic for bloggers to think . . . and then write about.  

This week, Kat and Carole invited us to think and write about the best breakfast we ever had . . . 

Hmmmm.  I've enjoyed many really great breakfasts in my life.  I could tell you about . . . fresh-baked croissant and cafĂ© au lait in Paris.  Or the traditional Christmas morning breakfast we eat here at my house.  Or maybe . . . Tom's super-delicious fried egg sandwiches.  Or there's any breakfast I've ever eaten at Food Dance here in Kalamazoo.

How to choose?

And then it hit me.  I'm not going to tell you about the BEST breakfast I ever had.  I'm going to tell you about the MOST MEMORABLE breakfast I ever.  (And, as you'll soon see, they are NOT the same thing.)

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When I was a little girl, I hated oatmeal.

Actually, that is probably not a strong enough word.  Because I DETESTED oatmeal.

I would eat Cream of Wheat, and didn't fuss about Malt-o-Meal.  But oatmeal?  I gagged.  No matter how my mom tried to disguise the stuff with brown sugar, raisins, or cinnamon, I just couldn't manage it.  Lucky for me, my mom took pity.  She let me eat Rice Krispies instead.

Then, in 1970 - when I was 10 - Quaker introduced the first instant FLAVORED oatmeal.  Maple and Brown Sugar.  In individual packets.  Just add boiling water.  The kids on the Saturday morning TV commercials ADORED the stuff!  They were so happy -- just sitting there, perky and chirpy, mixing their own Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor!

Heck.  I wanted it, too!  I was absolutely convinced by the ad men on Madison Avenue that DESPITE the fact that I HATED oatmeal . . . I would adore THAT oatmeal!

The supermarket begging commenced.

Me:  Moooom.  Can we try THIS?  (Holding up box of Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor.)

My Mom:  No.  You hate oatmeal.

Me:  Not THIS oatmeal.  It's new.  It's INSTANT Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor.

My Mom:  No.

This went on for several weeks.  I was determined.  Each week, I pointed out the Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor.  Each week, my Mom SHUT. ME. DOWN. with those words . . . You hate oatmeal.

Finally, after weeks of begging and cajoling, I wore my Mom down.  (She was probably having a rough day and was tired to begin with.)

Me:  Can we please, Please, PLEASE get this Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor?  PLEASE.

My Mom:  No.


My Mom:  (completely exasperated and totally worn down) If I buy this, YOU WILL EAT IT.

Me:  Of course, Mother Dearest.  Of course I will eat it!  I will eat every bite and lick the bowl and ask for More, PLEASE.

I had broken her down!  The Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor hit the cart.  I couldn't have been more excited!

And.  Well.  You know what happened the next morning?

One bite . . . and I GAGGED.

Hated it.

Those artificial flavors did nothing to camouflage the taste and texture of the oatmeal that I despised, and the texture?  Lumpy glue.

My Mom, though?  She didn't miss a beat.

Eat your oatmeal.

I didn't.

Eat your oatmeal.

I didn't.

You will SIT THERE until you EAT THAT OATMEAL.

I sat there.

All morning.

Finally, she let me go . . . with that Ultimate Mother Standby BUT YOU WILL EAT IT FOR LUNCH.

Lunchtime rolled around . . . and there sat my bowl of Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor.  She didn't even bother to heat it up.  And it was WAY worse than it was at breakfast.

I sat there.

She watched me from the living room.

My sister gloated.  (She wisely kept a low profile over the whole Instant Quaker Oatmeal thing.)

I sat there.

Saturday afternoon.  I was sitting there with that damn bowl of oatmeal.

The clock ticked.

The oatmeal sat.

I was starving.  But I couldn't gag down one spoonful.

It was a total standoff.

Finally, I noticed that my mom had disappeared.  She was nowhere to be seen.  It was my Big Chance!  I made a break for it and dumped that horrid bowl of Instant Quaker Oatmeal with Artificial Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor down the sink.  And then . . . I went in search of my Mom to show her my now-magically-empty bowl. 

It worked!  She bought it!  I was FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST!

And . . . I have not eaten oatmeal since!


This was one of my Mom's favorite stories.  Later, when I was a little older and she told me her version of the story, I learned that she was completely at a loss for how to get out of this "parenting mess."  She had drawn that line in the sand -- you will not leave the table until you eat that oatmeal -- and she didn't know how to get out of it once she had issued that edict.  She KNEW I wouldn't eat it.  (Heck, she wouldn't eat it!  She tried the oatmeal herself and thought it was awful.)  So . . . after all those hours of The Standoff, she left me alone for awhile -- hoping I would dump it so she could pretend I had eaten it!  Sneaky-sneaky!  As a 10-year-old, I thought I had pulled a Fast One.  But, no.  Not really.


Read about other "best breakfasts" here.  And . . . sign up for Think Write Thursday here.

One Morning in Ireland

My sister and I booked a private tour with a driver one morning in Dublin.  His name was Kieran, and he was just delightful.  After giving us several options of possible drives we could do in or around Dublin, we chose to drive south . . . stopping in a few coastal towns and ending up at (you guessed it. . . ) a world-renowned garden at Powerscourt Estate.


We stopped for a bit of a walk in Dalkey, a charming seaside resort town.  (And, according to Kieran, a very desirable - but very pricey - suburb of Dublin.)


It was quite early in town that morning, and the weather was a bit gloom-ish.  Things were very quiet.

But absolutely charming!


We would've loved to visit this shop, but it was closed.  (Best sign ever, non?)


Bono lives in Dalkey; we saw his driveway. . . and his "local" (pictured below).  (Apparently, author Maeve Binchy lived and wrote just down the street from the pub.)


Dalkey Island is just off the shore . . . 


The island is close enough that people regularly row or kayak out and spend the day -- climbing the tower, exploring the shoreline, having a picnic, etc.  Kieran regaled us with tales of kayaking bachelor's parties!


He also mentioned that there are dolphins in the waters here, but we didn't see any during our visit.


We drove further down the coast . . . to Powerscourt.  As we drove, the clouds were getting heavier and heavier!


I figured we'd be visiting another garden in the midst of rainstorm. . .  

(and, really . . . Ireland is THAT green!)

No worries, though.  We got through all of Powerscourt before the rain hit.

My first view. . . 


and then . . . looking back up at the estate house from the pond.


There was a marvelous Japanese garden. . . 


with a gorgeous little moss-y grotto. . .


(Seriously . . . The Green.)

I was kind of giddy . . . 


There was a Pet Cemetery . . . 


All of the family's beloved pets were buried here -- dogs, cats, ponies, even a cow!  The headstones were so sweet . . . 


The gardens were spectacular.

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The grounds were over the top!  (Kieran told us not to miss the 3-D garden gate.)

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And, in the end, the sun even came out!  (But only briefly.)

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It was a wonderful morning in Ireland!








Boxes of History

I have a new project . . . and it's a Biggie!  

For the past couple of weeks, I've been helping my dad clear through closets.  In the process, we've discovered boxes and boxes of old photos and papers and stacks of photo albums.  

They're now pretty much stacked and piled up on my dining room table.


I spent a few hours over the weekend sifting and sorting.  (And, really, I've only made a tiny dent in the pile. . .  There is much more sorting to do!)

I'm finding so many surprises.

For example, I never knew my dad played the piano!


Yet . . . there he is.

And my great grandfather - back in 1913 - bought the first power plow in the county for his farm.


I'm thinking I could get lost in these boxes for quite some time.


Juggling On a Friday

I really can't believe it's the middle of October already.  

Thankfully, we've had several very nice fall days lately.  Lovely afternoons where I can sit in my swing for a few minutes and . . . well . . . just pull things together in my head.

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Which is a good thing.  Because I've got a lot of stuff going on right now.  

Many, many balls in the air.

(And if you don't happen to hear from me for a day or two?  It probably just means I got hit in the head with one of my flying objects...)

(Such was the case yesterday.)

Have a great weekend.  (I'll be remembering that last year at this time . . . I was at Rhinebeck!



Will Ya Be Havin' a Pint? (Part I)

My sister and I spent the last 3 days of our trip in Dublin, off the cruise ship and on our own.  One of our first items of business?


Why. . . a trip to St. James Gate, of course!


You can't actually have a tour of the Guinness brewing facility at St. James Gate, but you can visit the Guinness Storehouse -- which is a pretty marvelous "museum" that tells the history of Guinness, and walks you through the steps of their brewing process.  With, of course, a couple of opportunities to sip a pint or two along the way.

Our first pour. . . 


and my sister's first sip!


Now, my sister is pretty much a wine-drinker . . . and she had never tried a Guinness before.  She loved it -- and so much more than the whisky!  


You start the tour of the Guinness Storehouse on the main floor . . . and you work your way up and up and up . . . until you're on the very top floor -- which is a pub with a 360-degree panorama view of Dublin.


(Here we are, with the Trinity College campus behind us.)


We had a great time!  


History.  Education.  Fun.  Plus . . . Guinness.


Really.  What more could you be askin' for?


(Stay tuned . . . for more Dublin.  And more Guinness!)





Still On the Patio

As the temperatures drop, I have been wanting one of those groovy-looking patio heaters.  You know the ones?  Tall.  Sleek.  Attractive.

Because . . . I want to stay out on the patio, enjoying drinks and snacks and looking at the garden . . . in my flip flops . . . for as long as possible.

So I sent Tom to Lowes.

And he came back with a perfectly serviceable, function-over-form propane tank-top heater.

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Not even a little bit attractive.

But you know what?  It WORKS.

As the sun went down and the temperature dipped into the low 50s, Tom and I enjoyed our drinks and snacks and conversation on the patio.  Without coats.  Without blankets.  



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Thanks, Mr. Heater!

Friday Mailbag

It's been a long time since I dipped into the Friday Mailbag!  Let's have a peek. . . 


Dear Next-Door Neighbors,

For 13 years, you have been the Very Best kind of neighbor:  Respectful.  Private.  Quiet. (Well. Except for that one time when one of your kids got the car alarm stuck at 2:00 in the morning and y'all couldn't turn it off.)  Tasteful landscaping.  Well-mannered guests at your parties.  Non-intrusive in every way. (Well.  Except for the English ivy.)

But your concrete project this fall?  Pushing it.  Because hours of jack-hammering?  Jarring.  Maybe give us a heads-up next time, huh?  (So we can leave, too.)


Dear Gmail Inbox,

Who knew . . . that it would be so easy to KonMari you!  Wow.  All those emails -- years and years of emails -- that I thought I might need or that I was too lazy to delete in the first place . . . GONE.  Just like that.

I feel so much JOY.


Dear Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs,

You're drunk.  Go home.


Dear Blog Friends,

I can't thank you all enough for your words of support and thoughtful wishes and general bolstering of my spirit after my mom's death.  You are all wonderful -- and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Have a great weekend!