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June 2013

Right Now . . . June 2013

Oh, how can it be the end of June already? 



I feel like much of June has been wasted with work.  (But not really.  Deadlines just make it feel that way.  Y'know?)


Here's what's going on for me . . . RIGHT NOW.

WATCHING . . . Are you kidding me?  Truthfully, I watched a few bits of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but other than that, I haven't watched television (or a movie) in months!  (I did watch fireflies in my backyard last night, though!)

READING . . . Even my reading has slowed to a snail's pace these days.  I'm in the middle of Transatlantic by Colum McCann.  So far?  Looking good.  I've just started listening to White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse, but it's too early to weigh in at this point.  I've recently become a regular reader of The New Yorker, too.  (I used to pick up a copy once in while, but lately . . . well, Margene got me hooked.  I finally subscribed and can read it right on my iPad.)

KNITTING . . . Let's not even go there.  I haven't knit in weeks.  (I'm pretty sure that between the Not Knitting and the slowed reading pace, my life has become completely discombobulated.  I will attempt to rectify this over the next week.)  What's on my needles?  Well. . . this summer top (nearly finished, but not quite).  And I just signed up to knit this for the Through the Loops Summer Shawl KAL.  (I can never resist the call of lace in the summer, and Kirsten's designs are The Best.)


LISTENING TO . . . All of my favorite git-r-done music:  Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, Jack White, the Black Keys, Foo Fighters, and - of course - my go-to-in-a-crunch Pearl Jam.

THINKING ABOUT . . . Deadlines, attachments, letters of support, and case statements.  (July 1 is almost here, though.  Just sayin'.)

DREADING . . . Well, really nothing right now.  I'm already In The Thick Of It.  Not much more can shake me at this point.

HUMMING . . . Thriftshop.  Macklemore.  (This is fucking awesome.) 


(Sorry.  Can't make it fit.)

PLANNING . . . What to take on my week Up North.  Because the tide is changing.  And I'm cottage-bound for a whole week!

CELEBRATING . . . Getting everything done.  And . . . Vacation. Starting. Tomorrow.

DRINKING . . .  Yes.


ITCHING TO . . . Knit.  Read.  Just be.

NEEDING TO . . . Get caught up - at least a little - with LIFE around me.

ORGANIZING . . . (Are you kidding me???)


INSPIRED BY . . . Ice pops.  I saw this recipe in a magazine and I've been thinking about making ice pops ever since!  (I need an ice pop mold first, though.  Because it might be the cutest part.)


DELIGHTED BY . . . My new Not Crocs.  Kind of like Crocs.  But Keens.  And cooler.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you RIGHT NOW?

Throwback Thursday: About the Limes

The other night, I was making a lime sauce for the fish tacos I was preparing for dinner.  I sliced open the first lime . . . and memories flooded in!  (It happens every time I slice a lime.)


When I was a kid, I never saw a real, live lime.  Oh, I had lime flavored things all the time: lime Kool-Aid, lemon-lime suckers, Sprite, lime popsicles, lime jell-o.

But no real limes.

Until the summer I was 16 . . . and I got my first real job . . . at Dairy Queen.


After learning how to perfect my DQ Swirl (really; for the first several days of my employ, all I did was practice the swirl), I moved on to making all the other DQ treats:  the Banana Split, the Hot Fudge Brownie Delite, the Peanut Buster Parfait, the Mr. Misty Freeze (this was in the pre-Blizzard days).  The thing that always delighted customers most, though, was when we turned the ice cream upside-down to coat it in chocolate dip.  Pure magic!

Anyway.  We also served fresh limeade at my DQ.  Simple recipe:  2 limes, 2 squirts of sugar syrup, and soda water.  So tasty!

The first time I made a limeade at DQ . . . and I cut into those limes and squeezed out the juice . . . I thought I'd gone to heaven!  The lime smell was fabulous!  I used to get so excited whenever someone ordered a limeade -- and I could cut open those limes again.

Goofy, I know.

And even though it was a crappy summer job with long hours and very little pay and I mostly hated it . . . today, almost 40 years later, I go right back there every time I slice open a lime!  Back to being 16 in 1975:  working on my tan . . .listening to the radio (Someone Saved My Life Tonight . . . Jive Talkin'. . . Black Water) . . .getting my driver's license . . .swim team . . .watching The Soaps with my sister. . . hanging out with my friends . .  all from that heady, summer-y scent of fresh limes!

Yeah.  When it comes to remembering 16, nothing does it better for me than . . .




Attention to Eating

Words . . . in the wild.


(On a menu at a local bar. . . )

Eating.  A great activity!

And. . . even better when coupled with BEER!


Last night, Tom and I stepped out for a Farm Fresh Beer Dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, Food Dance. The dinner featured five farm-fresh courses . . .


Paired with beer (and artisanal spirits!) . . .


from New Holland Brewing.


Who knew collard greens could be so dang delectable!

My favorite course? Lamb with carrot-mustard sauce.


Tom's?  Dessert.  Strawberry shortcake with sabayon.


(And Tom doesn't even like strawberries all that much . . . )

So.  Yeah.  Devoting our attention to eating is, indeed, a Very Good Thing.


Wise Words

There's a Zen saying I'm particularly fond of . . .

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day --- unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour."
                                                                    --- Old Zen adage

I'm in the middle of Crunch Time right now.  I just returned from a vacation.  My daughter came for a wonderful extended visit.  Tom and I had a reunion to attend last week.  Work deadlines are exploding everywhere around me.  Oh.  And I'm planning to head up north for another vacation next week. Yeah. It's Crunch Time.

But over the weekend I remembered the Old Zen adage . . . and applied it to my garden.

I took a break.


I did some weeding.  And some deadheading.  A little planting, too.


I cleaned off my potting bench and organized everything for the rest of the season.


I harvested Swiss chard from my kitchen gardenfor dinner, and added fresh mint to my iced tea.


I noticed that I felt better.


Less stressed.


More upbeat, for sure.


I'm pretty certain that Old Zen adage applies to gardening!


You should get out in your garden for 20 minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should garden for an hour!


(It worked for me.)

Just Look At Them and Sigh. . .

A little CSNY to get your day started:


We had a full house last week!


Erin (and her Keith) came home for a visit.  We celebrated Erin's birthday.


And Father's Day.


Erin ran in her first 5K -- with her own personal cheering squad!


It was wonderful to have her home for a while.


I miss having her around . . . but I know she's happy in her own life, independent (well, except for the financial part) and growing into her own space.

The way it's supposed to be.

Teach your children well . . .

And know they love you!


My life is really full right now.  There are lots of things going on.  Good things.  But things nonetheless.  I'm working hard to keep everything in perspective; to stay in the moment; to breathe.


And, really, that is enough.

"Just the fact that you get to live and breathe and interact with the world - that's pretty marvelous."
                                                                                    ---  Junot Diaz


Sharing Space

My yard . . . supports a lot of wildlife.  Right now, we're sharing space with several bird families.

We've got a family of sparrows tucked into this nest under the eaves.


Originally, it was a robin's nest.  But they abandoned their yet-to-be-completed nest when they realized our patio is actually a Very Busy Place.  The sparrows moved in less than an hour later!

There's a finch family living in this Boston fern hanging on my patio.


You can't see the nest, but every time I water the plant, Mama finch flies out in a huff!

Another finch family just moved out of the Boston fern on the left -- this one on my front porch. 


I think of it as "graduation."

There are robins in the hawthorn.


I found the telltale blue eggshells under the tree.

And there are blue jays in my arborvitae.


And, of course, I got caught with finches in my Christmas wreath again!


At least it's a fake this year . . . but, still.  Maybe some year I'll remember to take down my wreath in a timely manner.  Like. . . before the finches move in!

Click to embiggen.
The baby finches are getting big -- nestled in with the bird poop plastered to my front door!

In the meantime, just know that I'm happy to share my space . . . with the neighborhood birds!

Looking Back, Heading Forward

"The best of nature's handiwork in a limited space. . . "
                       -----  Landscape gardener Seyemon Kusumoto

I first visited San Francisco in January 1980 -- during Winter Break of my junior year of college.  I drove there with Tom (my then-boyfriend) and two of our friends (one had a medical school interview out there, which was the purpose of our journey).  It was a quick trip - and I remember packing a lot of adventure into just a couple of days!

While walking through Golden Gate Park, we stumbled on to the Japanese Tea Garden.  It was deliciously foggy -- and so magical!

Scan 1
Tom in 1980, running through the fog in Golden Gate Park somewhere near the Japanese Tea Garden.

I had never heard of Japanese gardens before that visit.  I had no expectations or knowledge or understanding.  I just knew . . . when I stepped into that foggy garden . . . that I was feeling a strong, deep connection with the landscape.  Ever since, I have been fascinated with Japanese gardens.  (I actually think it may have been that visit to the Tea Garden that spurred my own interest in becoming a gardener!)

Although I have been back to San Francisco a few more times over the years, I've never been back to the Japanese Tea Garden!  A return trip was high on my list of "must-dos" this time around.


And so, on another foggy day, over 30 years later, my sister and I headed out to Golden Gate Park - in search of the Japanese Tea Garden.  As we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the garden, the fog cleared, allowing us to enjoy the traditional Japanese garden. . .  with features like the pagoda (above), an arched drum bridge . . .


stone lanterns. . .


koi, stepping stones, and native Japanese plants.


We enjoyed the zen garden . . .


and found a tranquil oasis . . .


perfect for contemplation . . .


and meditation.


Such a lovely afternoon . . .


made complete with tea . . .


and a fortune.


Words in the wild . . . from the Japanese Tea Garden!

Ten on Tuesday Meets Throwback Thursday: Games People Play


This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is a tough one for me . . . and, pretty much, I'm going to have to take a pass.  Because this week we're talking about our Ten Favorite Backyard Games.  And, really, I don't have ten!

In fact, I only have . . . two.  And I blogged about one of them yesterday!

So. What to do?

I decided to combine a couple of blog post themes!  Join me today for . . .

Ten Two on Tuesday/Throwback Thursday Tuesday!

1.  Croquet

As you already know, in my family we play an Annual Father's Day Croquet Tournament.  It's the only time we play croquet!  But we've been doing it since 1995.  (I'd show you the photo, but it's pre-digital and I'm too lazy to scan at the moment.)

Back in 2003 I got my first digital camera.  Just in time to capture the Father's Day Croquet Tournament!


We used to always do a group shot at the end, holding our fingers up to indicate our "place" in the tournament. Looks like my Mom was the champion - back in 2003! 

(So funny . . . back in 2003!  Different town.  Different house.  Different dog.)


Some things never change, though!


(Brian was just finishing 5th grade.  He was 11.)

In 2004, we played our first Croquet Tournament in our current location.  Looks like we started things off that year with a group cheer!


And back in 2005 . . . I won!  (It's the only time in the history of our Tournament that I have even come close!)


Really.  Some things never change.


(Not counting hairstyle and landscaping, of course!)

2.  Horseshoes

At our cottage, we have a horseshoe pit.  While we don't play on an annual basis, we do play horseshoes MUCH more often than we play croquet!


Apparently, though, I don't photo-document the horseshoe action very often.  So enjoy these throwback photos from horseshoe games in years-gone-by!

Here's Brian . . . back in 2005.


He would've been between 7th and 8th grade.

In 2006, my sister and her husband came for a visit to our cottage.  I seem to remember a lot of horseshoes . . . and a lot of beer.


Here's my Dad . . . showing his form!


Tom. . . looking for that ringer.


Close call?


Whether you play ten backyard games - or two - it's really all about the fun of being together and sharing an afternoon!  I treasure these times with my family.

How about YOU?  What are your favorite backyard games?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.