Friday, August 31

Painting #2

Sadly, my art classes have come to an end (at least until Laura considers resuming them in the spring... Here is my latest creation. Painting number 2. It isn't quite finished; the lone red paintbrush needs some shadowing and dimension to be sure. If you find 13 other things that need to be finished, please don't let me know. I'll just get bothered.
So, one of my children started college classes this week. Emma is enrolled in Chesapeake College as a dual enrollment student. She is in English 101. I cannot shout out how proud I am of her loudly enough. Is this something that was around 28 years ago when I was her age? I never heard of it till recent years.She starts her junior year of high school this coming week.
Annie and Jedd start their school year at the same time. Annie is in charge of her own education this year. She gave me her requirements for science, history etc., and I ordered what she wanted. She also is looking forward to immersing herself in art classes and I can't wait to see the creativity that comes out of this girl. She amazes me daily on that level.
Jedd is just going to spend a year with his nose in a book. A year ago we couldn't get him to read the back of a cereal he won't put the books down...a mother's happiness to be sure. I apologise if this is sounding like an obnoxious Christmas letter of all my kid's fabulous accomplishments. Jedd's hair is ridiculously long and he rarely ever brushes it...there is dog poop all over the back yard because Emma didn't clean it yesterday like she was supposed to, and Annie and Henley baked cookies two days ago and I'm still waiting for Annie to wipe up the crumbs and wash the batter bowl. So, hopefully that puts the reality back in the blog.

Monday, August 27

Journey's End

(Isn't this the sweetest photo of Thom? You can see his 12 y.o. self in it can't you?!)

~We opened the front door with excitement and hesitation, (once we actually go through the door vacation is officially over isn't it?) familiarity washes over each of us along with the stuffiness of a house that's been closed up for 6 days. Six days? Is that all? There's a rush to empty out the rented minivan which must be returned tomorrow morning. It's a chore no-one wants to undertake at the moment but everyone tries to keep the mumbling to themselves and just do it as no-one wants to get up from sleep tomorrow to do it either!
~Over 1,600 miles have been put on the vehicle and 8 states have been traveled through. We started off with a destination to The Creation Museum in Kentucky. It's about 10.5 hours from our front door. I usually have a bossy need to do most of the driving, unfortunately I had my pupils dilated the previous day and they stayed that way for more than 24 hours so Thom had to do all the driving that first day. Up and down mountain roads; when you're passing emergency ramp after emergency ramp for trucks that lose their brakes you know they're steep! ~Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia again...(who broke up the states in this part of the country, they did it in a very strange manner>!) We stop for the night in Ohio in a town called Cambridge, how appropriate.
~ Day 2 and we arrive in Kentucky and work our way to the museum. I've waited 2 years to visit here. For me the book of Genesis is truly the foundation of my faith. Yes, I take it literally. I look around and see the artwork of God in everything. Trees, mountains, rivers, animals, each other, snow storms, thunderstorms, rainbows, ocean tides, the cycles of life.
~In order to believe in evolution one must believe that a spark of life spontaneously combusted somehow...and then split and procreated with itself...then from that one spontaneous combustion came every blade of grass, every flower, bug, animal, tree, fish,the list goes on and on. If it is alive and growing, it ,according to the theory of evolution, had to come from that one spark of life in the beginning. REALLY? Isn't that a bit hard to swallow? Doesn't it just make more sense, difficult as it is to comprehend a great Spirit out there in the void of nothing, that a creator did all this? Because if you believe in the one spark of life creating everything ,accidentally, you must then also believe that it all, unplanned, came together to work sybiotically don't you? Trees & plants make oxygen, animals breathe it in and send out carbon dioxide, which the plants then absorb and send out more oxygen. Well, isn't that handy?! Of course that's very simplistic. Start adding in the perfection of the balance of gases in the atmosphere etc. and it is mind-boggling! The saline in the sea is perfect. The moon does it's dance with the earth to provide tides to keep the oceans in balance with the sea life and so on and so on.... Am I really to believe this is an accident? A mutation?
And when that first woodpecker banged himself to death on a tree and died from his stupidity, successive generations of woodpeckers, who would have also died banging their heads, kept have accidental mutations which helped them in just the right way to allow them extra padding around their brains and a wild tongue that wrapped throughout their head so they could keep banging and no longer die. But, mind you, with no design, it was all mutation and just happened to work out nicely...Well, isn't that handy!
Giraffes mutated a sponge at the top of their necks to absorb the blood flow when they bent their heads down for a drink so they would't have a rush of blood to their brains and pass out, thereby becoming a target for a hungry lion to come along and eat them. I wonder though, how it did that without a design? Could some evolutionist please enlighten me?
(~By the way these things I learned not from the museum but from reading about the design of these animals while homeschooling kids. I learned more from my homeschool teaching years than I ever did in school. Including my pricey little boarding school.)
I don't mind when evolutionist laugh at we creationists for our "ignorant beliefs". Because what they don't realize is that during all their "brilliant superiority" over my belief, I'm pitying them for their ignorance. Throw all the big words of evolution you want my still holds no logic.
~ So, anyway onto further vacation stuff...When we got to Tennessee we found a lovely family suite and then booked reservations for Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. This was something else I was really wanting to do...I know you might be snickering...but you're probably just to cool to confess you want to do it too.
~ My family all sighed in disbelief, "We have to go where?!"
The Dixie Stampede is the southern version of those Medieval Dinner places where you sit in rows around an arena and knights on horses come out and joust, and wenches serve you food without utensils. (can't wait to go there! seriously...I can't wait!)
I choose to have them seat us on the side of the rebels since we were in the south. My children consider themselves, for some unknown reason, as Yankee northerners. We live, and they were born, south of the Mason-Dixon line. They are southerners, I am the only official Yank in the household. But I digress, we get to the "pre-show" where men in over-alls are playing banjos, fiddles and basses. My feet are already tappin', my kids look horrified. They bring us out lemonade in white plastic cowboy boots for an exhorbitant price. Thanks. After the finaly, (where a roll of toilet paper was placed on a fan which was laying on its side, thereby making the paper fly spectacularly upwards sheets at a time, ...I'm trying to imagine an event where I might try this at home) it's time to travel into the main arena. The show opens with a buffalo stampede and cowboy round-up. There are cow-girl and -boy trick riders whom Jedd and I thought were being dragged to their deaths for a moment but then they ascended back onto their horse's saddles and we cheered them on. There were ostrich races (being ridden by female jockeys), pig races(no jockeys), dixie dancing, fire jumpers, magicians. It was fun and we all were swept up in the oft-given command to stamp our feet as the south tried to win a barrel race or some such thing.
~Food kept getting deposited on our plates...whole chickens, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, apple turnovers, biscuits...all mouth-wateringly good. All too soon the fun came to an end and after standing and cheering loudly with my southern flag waving wildly( I'm quite certain that the reason my kids mouths were hanging open was that they were awestruck by my courage to loudly take part in the fun and that they all wished they weren't so very shy and could scream and wave their flags just as wildly), I climbed out of my seat and turned to the exit which smoothly directed us right into the Dolly Parton gift shop. Gosh, I wish I could figure a way to channel people into Pear Tree South like that.
~After buying key chains shaped like boots and stuff like that, we pour out to the parking lot. It's about 10:30 p.m. I look at my family with a question in my eyes. Well?
~Annie spoke first and said much to her surprise (and I think dismay) she had fun! the rest of them followed suit with their words and I was one happy Mom.
~~The next day it was on to Gatlinburg. I love the Smoky Mountains and seriously think I could spend the rest of my days very contentedly in them. I asked the kids what they wanted to do since I'd picked the previous two events. All of them wanted the Ripley's Believe It or Not Aquarium. Now, I've been to 2 different aquariums in the past year or so, so I wasn't too excited about this, but agreed to it to be fair.
It was the best aquarium I've ever been to! The shark tunnel went on and on , around corners and with a moving sidewalk which you were free to jump on and off of. The jellyfish and King Crabs were among our favorite, as was the Cuttle Fish which is a natural light show with its constant electric light flickering throughout it's body. (I wonder how that mutated into being) And I had never before seen a catfish which was about 3 feet long. I always remember them being perhaps 3 inches in long in people's fishtanks. This place alone was worth the trip....though I was really wishing we could have seen a bear in the wild during our car trek through the Smoky Mountain National Park.
~~We ended the southern portion of our vacation in Cherokee N.C. at an Indian village where we took a tour and discovered all sorts of interesting things. For instance the Cherokee have always believed in one Sovereign God; they never worshiped multiple gods. And the people always belong to the clan of the mother. Once they married the husband moved to the clan of the bride. They were never allowed to marry within their own clans (there are seven clans within the tribe, the "long-hairs" being known as the snobs who thought they were better than the other clans). I had been here when I was Jedd's age. I was astounded by how different it was and by the fact that I didn't remember any of it this way. My family kindly pointed out it had been 36 years and that things change. 36 years...huh...
After that excursion we had lunch and headed north. Under the guise of wanting to try boiled peanuts, Thom graciously allowed me a quick tourist stop to buy pea shooters and fake eagle feathers. The peanuts were disgusting and we figure it must be an acquired taste or one you're weaned on...rather like the idea of vegemite for Australians. We made it home the next day by early evening. We were all utterly was wonderful...Thank you Lord for safe travel and harmonious family time. Thank you for further opening our eyes to your glories and wonders.

Wednesday, August 15


BECCO~ This is the name of an amazing restaurant on 46th street between 8th and 9th Avenues in NYC. If you are in the area...just go!
A fixed menu takes the stress away from big decisions required in ordering meals on big nights out. Spring for an extra and request calamari as a starter. They know how to prepare squid (and the lemon is cleverly wrapped magazine picture-perfect in yellow cheesecloth with a green tie! So Martha Stewart!)
When that has been devoured, an antipasta dish comes out with kingfish, octopus and potatoes in vinegar and buffalo mozzarella cheese.
Then the salad comes...crispy with that hint of dirt flavor I like. (I'm not being sarcastic here, I like to taste earth when I eat greens)
Once that's been whisked away three servers surround the table, each with a skillet with a different pasta dish; ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and beets (seconds please!), tagliatelli with pork, and rigatoni with a FRESH tomato sauce. No canned tomatoes here.
If you are still hungry (!) the waiters come back to offer seconds. Yes, I'm unashamed to admit I took more ravioli with gluttunous glee.
Dessert is presented with an Italian flourish, peach and black raspberry sorbet are placed on either side of the dessert plates set center stage. On the plates...Italian cheesecake, fat slices of bread pudding and creamy chocolate mousse(?) with chocolate crust and chocolate sauce. There were at least 60 bottles of wine on the wine list and every bottle was $25.00. I can't get a decent bottle of wine for that price in a Cambridge restaurant!
The restaurant is run by the son of Lydia of "Lydia's Kitchen" , a weekly Public TV cooking show.
The next morning we headed back to the Jacob Javits Center. It was our third and final shopping day at the International Gift Show where I was scouting out new stuff for the store. I found two little french vendors tucked away in the corners and aisles which were my favorite finds in the three day trip. Blown glass for windows and design, black mud for the body, linen towels for luxury. Mercury glass for candles, giant felt log carriers, vintage beaded ornaments and french wine cups. Recycled tires into soap dishes and carrier bags (sounds iffy I know, but I loved them).
Dash and Albert had some gorgeous new blankets, pillows and bags that recall old Indian blankets and rugs. They're coming in late September. I await autumn days and nights anxiously.
Once my birthday has come and gone, summer is essentially over for me. NEXT! I want the next season to enter the room. I want light cottons to move aside for tartan plaids and flannels.
Bring on the pumpkins! I want pumpkin bread and pies and pancakes. The dog days of summer confuse my senses in August. I desire chilly nights and cardigans. (did I mention that I found a lovely nut brown cardigan with applique and embroidery at Anthropologie.)
Understand please, it's not just me...the stores have sweet, sweet inventory out, begging to be bought and worn...but it's autumn unfair is this on a 90 degree day!?
All that aside, as Janna and I were strolling down the street after leaving that fabulous store we passed a Jean Louis David hair salon. The best haircut I ever had was in one of those salons in Paris. I mentioned this to my friend and she encouraged me to go in and let them have at my head once again. So in we went and sure enough, there was an opening and I let them lead me away. I so appreciate, after a day on my feet, sitting down and leaning my head back into a salon sink where someone massages my head as they wash the dirt and grime out of my hair. The stylist, I'm pretty sure, attached a flowbie to a vacuum hose and razored my hair. It was definately a thing a mother used on her kids in the 60's! But I'm happy with the end result and feel like a little kid flipping her pigtails from side to side at the lightness of my shorn head.
On to dinner ( yes, we're eating again) at a tapas restaurant with an outdoor garden. I've never ordered from a tapas menu so I put all my trust in Janna. She orders grilled shrimp, baby artichokes, calamari of course, and a chorizo omelette. It's all good.
Happily sedated with our food we grab a cab and go back to the hotel to check out our luggage. Janna does that while I try to get the car out of the parking garage. First they bring a brand new toyota sedan. I'm tempted, but confess it's the wrong car. They try again. This time they bring a brand new BMW. The biggest one I've ever seen! Do you think it was the kicky little haircut? Maybe they just found it hard to believe this hair could be waiting for a 16 year old car... They must have looked a bit closer and saw the gray strands because on the third try my faithful blue station wagon putts around the corner and down the ramp.
I picked up my friend with her Sephora glow and glittered eyes , along with the luggage and we decided to hit one of the Ever Present Starbucks On Every Corner Of NYC for a quick cup of coffee before we headed home. Somehow, all the way from Broadway to Chelsea to the Lincoln Tunnel every Starbucks has disappeared. There was not one to be found. I'm still confused by those missing coffee shops 24 hours later. Oh well... Thank goodness for Starbucks on the turnpike...

Monday, August 6

a new year

Saturday I celebrated my 46th birthday. As it approached I waited for a feeling of angst at the exchange of a 6 for my 5. As its never happened before, I wonder why I always expect it. Happily it bypassed me once again.
Annie says I always have a high expectation for celebration which can't possibly be lived up to. Emma asked if I had great parties as a child that lead to this expectation.
Jedd kept his nose in his book.
This year I decided to have no expectations from my family. I decided to throw myself a neighborhood party. I went to the bakery (Bay Country, of course) and ordered cupcakes AND a birthday cake. I walked to friends' homes and invited them to come on over and bring a dish to share, please...
No Gifts, please...I have everything my heart could want.
Our backyard of course is in no condition to entertain. The perfect way to get it done is to invite folks over.
A quick trip to the garden center provides large flat stones to circle the edge of the pond my brother, nephew and son put in several months ago. Looks better, but something is still missing.
Another trip to the center provides 4 bags of jackstone (like riverstones, but not as smooth).
This stone is now layered behind and around the pond as well. Very nice.
Inside the kitchen, we decide it's the perfect time to pull out a table-saw and cut off half the kitchen counter: thereby sending dust into every nook and cranny possible. Hmmm...guests in a few hours...dust...boxes...screws....heat....tempers, no wait! Amazingly there are no tempers! It's the birthday gift come true~ All the children are pitching in and running errands and helping with frantic cleaning. The dear husband is putting together a new table (birthday present!) to take up the space made by the now departed counter. The children come home from a secret run with Octavius and Augustus: Koi for the pond. Octavius picked out specially by Jedd.
Ray LaMontagne is serenely playing in the background ...over & over... ( a new gift from Emma)as my finger keeps gravitating back to the play button~
There is a bit of time to power nap before guests arrive. Here's Annie with that sly grin on her face...OH! My favorite of her pictures,one of Jedd with his hand squished against his face, all framed and ready to live on the corner of my desk. Happy day!
Friends arrive and are introduced to one another. This is a surprise as I rather assumed everyone knew each other. The evening is lovely; Grace is given up to God, candles are lighted, drinks are poured, amazing dishes are uncovered and spooned into. Whoever thought to put mint into a potato salad?! It's delicious!
Father God,
For the bounty of friends you have surrounded me with I am truly grateful.
For the husband and children you have given me I am speechless and humbled. They each amaze me daily and I thank you for letting me have had another year with them . If it be your will I ask for another please....