Wednesday, September 24, 2008

They are Here!

My company is here--at least the first contingent! It is so exciting and so much fun! The time will fly by too quickly, I am sure and so much will be going on especially Saturday when the youngest member of the family and his parents join us. The house will be overflowing and this is good. Nine years ago, the last time we did this we gathered for a funeral. This time we gather for a birthday celebration. Except for the fact that I am tired, it is good.

In the meantime the plants have been growing apace. The basils now fill the space and the tomatoes are growing so fast that they seem to be making up for lost time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday--traditionally chore day

When I was growing up, Saturday was chore day. Today because I am getting the house ready for guests, the day became one of seemingly endless chores! Laundry is satisfying when it is done--somewhat forboding at the outset. There are now clean sheets for the new air mattress that my guests will use. Blowing that up will be an adventure. More of the living room has emerged--it is amazing what one can do to a living room if one keeps using it as a general sorting space and forgets that it is supposed to be a gracious living area. It will be closer to its real purpose by Wednesday when my sister and her husband arrive.

There is too much yarn in the living room--forget yard sale, maybe what I should do is a living room, yarn sale. (Laughing as she writes this.) Several years ago I combined red and green sport weight yarn that has since been discontinued and made a hat with a matching neck ring (the turtleneck without the sweater) and small mitts. I found the neck ring the other day and have been wearing it. One mitt surfaced today. Where is the other?

The kitchen sink has been the repository of jars and bottles that I have been cleaning out of the refrigerator as well as things that have just been left there. Wash, wash, wash, peel, scrape, scrub. They are quite pretty and will give me goodies to photograph for my squidoo lenses and I am glad--now I just have to find some place to put them. The sink is going to need either Zud or the Barkeeper's Friend to come clean.

Speaking of Squidoo lenses, I am nearing the point of 50 and am determined to bring two or three more up to speed in the next two days in between the scouring, scraping and sorting. A different kind of chore, but still necessary.

And then there are the Halloween designs for my cafepress shop. Halloween is not a holiday that inspires me. It never has been. I love All Saints and All Souls the two days that it leads up to though so I have a design for it too. Guess who is going to be busy for the next two days?

And then just as in the good old days when I was young, procrastination set in. As I dug through the contents of the red chair--a big old armchair that has been full of my stuff for the last several years--I turned on the tv and found the last half hour of Skylark, part of the Sarah Plain and Tall series. I love this series and sat enchanted through two hours of the last movie, the one that I did not know even existed.

It has been a good day and I am glad and grateful. Now I am going to go to bed and read Mary Stewart. Hoping to finish the second book before my family arrives. There is something satisfying about reading an old familiar book for the repeat time, and this is one of those.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Once Again

Today I had the pleasure of playing with my plants. The basil smell of coffee grounds (which I sprinkled around them on Sunday) as well as of their own scent. It is a different combination. The roses have gotten leggy and suffered through the heat. I trimmed the dead flowers and dead leaves off the yellow one and was pleased to see two buds waiting in line to bloom. The red one is next and then the Mr. Lincoln. I also sprinkled chopped up banana peels around the base of the roses and the basils as this supplies potassium to the plants. It also feels good not to throw away the banana peels, but to put them to another use. (Eggshells are good for this too. They supply calcium.)

The tomatoes have grown even though the weather is cooler and the days shorter. They smell wonderful. I can hardly wait to see if they flower and fruit and I am wondering if some of the growth is "suckers" that should be removed. Not knowing a whole lot about them I am sort of gardening in the dark here.

Saturday my friend who brought lunch took this picture of my pineapple sage, also known as "Nature's Hummingbird Feeder".

This is a beautiful plant that smells like a ripe pineapple. I highly recommend it to anyone who gardens. Once established it will grow well from cuttings so that you will always have a gift to share with another gardener, or friend who loves hummingbirds.

I am grateful tonight for my garden and the friends who have been helping me with it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fall is Here!

It feels like fall is really here! The angle of the light has changed and it is fully dark much earlier now. I began the day watching a hummingbird sipping at the pineapple sage outside the kitchen window, went outside to play with plants and the Fed Ex man arrived with my Pampered Chef order--three new gadgets that are sturdily made tools.

Then I was blessed with lunch from a friend. What I had thought would be a day of work has gone by quickly as a day of play and that is a blessing. Enough time later in the week for work, I am savoring my favorite season and a day to just be relaxed.

This week a friend sent me what may be the most wicked and dangerous recipe ever invented. The 5 minute chocolate microwave mug cake. I thought, "naw this isn't going to work." My mind kept coming back to it until finally I had to try it. (You can google for a zillion variations of it.) I stirred it up in an extra large mug--one of my own designs from Cafepress--and put it in the microwave for three minutes.

For the first minute or so nothing seemed to be happening and then a chocolate pouf rose above the mug and hovered. It extended to the point that I thought it was going to touch the ceiling--and make a mess. Just missing that point it began to collapse and stayed at a certain height above the mug until the microwave shut off and then it disappeared as though the mug had swallowed it up. I was disappointed that it didn't stay high, but grabbed a towel and removed it.

I began eating it from the mug, but quickly realized it wasn't going to cool fast enough so put it out on a plate. It held it's shape quite well and was delicious. The mug took a really long time to cool, though and I find that scary from the standpoint of doing this at all regularly.

The cake, about the size of two cupcakes, was really two portions and I was pleased that I could not eat it all in one sitting.

Cooking and baking are two of the pleasures of cooler weather. I am feeling gratitude tonight. Think that I will make another one sometime this week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Birthdays and Remembrance

September has always been one of my most favorite times of the year, partly because I went to school for so long that it is etched in my being that Fall is a time of beginnings. It is also a month of family birthdays.

The matriarch of Papa's family (even though she never married, she was the one who held everyone and everything together) was Rose Ellen Manor, known as "Aunt Dade" to all of us. Her birthday was September 6, and I believe the year was 1874.

Today, September 10 was Mama's birthday. She was born in 1910. I wrote about her on February 19, this year on the anniversary of her death. She was born just as the Victorian era had ended and the Edwardian era began. I remember that she told us about the wood burning stove in the kitchen, the parlor and the Christmas customs. When she died, I thought that era truly went with her and a friend of mine agreed, then added sagely and kindly, "Peggy it will live on in you."

The youngest member of our family joined us last year on September 17 and my first cousin and his wife also both have September birthdays.

A cake with candles and flowers were part of birthday celebrations and they are still part of mine. September is completed for me with my own birthday at the end of the month. This year I am looking forward to family members visiting to celebrate it with me.

I am looking forward even as I remember and I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The fog has rolled back in and it is such a blessing. My stress level goes down markedly when the weather is not so hot. The shortening days are also signaling to all the plants that it is time to bloom. Red flowers on the pineapple sage under my kitchen window attract hummingbirds,for whom the plant has been tended all summer. The basils are producing flower stalks faster than I can cut them to keep up with them for potpourri and the smell of drying basil fills my dining room even as I sit here and type.

There is a feeling of peacefulness because of the weather and the garden that I wish I could replicate and send world wide. Maybe a new fragrance or room air freshner! It could be sprayed in meeting rooms world wide whenever leaders gather to discuss rancorous issues.

Planning the garden's next stage is also a blessing. Now that I know that the side yard will produce food I need to have someone turn the soil and then order the seeds. Kale and chard, turnips, parsnips, beets and carrots would be good for our fall into winter climate.

It will be interesting and useful for future years to see if the late tomatoes actually do produce. I am thinking of tomatoes from my own plants as part of Thanksgiving dinner--and definitely will give thanks for them if there are some.

Today my friend, who is my housekeeper, will come and make order out of my chaos and cleanliness out of my mess. She is a blessing of major proportion in my life, as are the friends who water for me.

In two weeks my sister and her husband will be visiting. Truly a blessing and some real excitement for someone who feels like she is rapidly becoming an old lady.

Blessings abound if only I look for them and I am grateful for them all.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Will it Ever be Cool Again?

It feels like it will never be cool again. The fog, which I love, seems to be sulking somewhere out to sea and our beautiful sea breeze along with it. Natural air conditioning is much nicer and less costly than artificial air, but for the last few days as the temperature soared to 97 degrees, I have wished that I could just flip a switch.

I console myself with the knowledge that in two weeks it will be fall--except that fall is our warmest season, at least at the beginning.

Of course, I love fall for the holidays and because it signals new beginnings, this year even more than usually because of the election.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes and basil that I posted about on Tuesday have continued to grow. The tomatoes seem to be growing exponentially. One day, I thought they seemed bigger in the evening than they were in the morning. Unlike corn in the Midwest that can be heard growing, they aren't making any sound, just quietly filling their grow bags. The roses are thriving too. As long as they have plenty of water, they seem to like the heat.

The days are getting shorter and we will be turning our attention to indoor activities. Soon it will be time for holiday preparations. Summer's heat will be a haze of the past. I will be glad for that, even as I dream of next summer's garden.

Grateful that the fog is supposedly on the way and that the weather will moderate, I hope to post more regularly next week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How Well my Garden Grows

Sunday afternoon I took pictures of the basils as they are now. They have really grown, even confined to eight inch pots. They are clearly meant to be large plants. They are also the greenest and most delicious basil I have ever had. I love them and will be sad to see them go over the winter.

The tomatoes are growing beautifully in the "grow bags", which look quite a bit like black plastic trash bags, but are not. It will be really interesting to see how these weather the shorter days and lower temperatures as fall comes on.

Several years ago I had one basil plant that made it into November. It flowered and the bees crossed it with a mint so that in the following spring I had a unique, distinctive basil-mint plant that lost its basilness as the summer proceeded. Still it was a special plant to have on the porch leading into the house for basil is the herb of love and mint signifies hospitality--a welcoming combination for visitors to my home.