Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not Ansel Adams

I am not a good photographer. I am a pretty good judge of photographs and I can usually tell you why a picture works or does not work (for the record, "move in closer" covers a multitude of sins) so my general policy is to hire good photographers and leave my camera in my purse.

There is something about nature, though, that makes me think I am Ansel Adams and my trusty point-and-shoot's memory card now includes several dozen shots taken during our twilight tram ride through the nature park.

Oooh! It's a waterfall! Oooh! It's a school of trout! Oooh! It's a covered bridge!

And those highly photogenic sites were spotted before we even got to the most interesting subjects, which were the animals. Dogwood Canyon has herds of elk, buffalo, and longhorns. All of these herds are so accustomed to the trams riding through their domain that they pretty much pose like starlets on the red carpet as the paparazzi glide by. I compulsively clicked off shot after shot, although I did not go so far as to shoot video, which the girl in the next seat was doing. (Why? Who wants to watch that?)

Later I was bragging about my photographic prowess to Husband when I noticed something. That picture of the elk+longhorn above? This is what the longhorn actually is doing:

Okay, so it has its tongue up its nose. I got a good picture of the elk herd....
Except that...
Am I sensing a theme here?
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
I'm not sure whether the animals are judging our not-from-Where-Eagles-Dare tram or commenting on my photographic abilities. In either case, wash your eyes out with this fuzzy shot of a buffalo calf born earlier that morning.
Ooooh, fuzzy buffalo calf. The mama was too tired to even stick her tongue out, and sister, I've been there. As someone who does not understand delivery room photography AT ALL and would have smashed any cameras that might have appeared before I had my make-up back on post-birthing, I apologize.

On your behalf, I'm sticking my tongue out at myself.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Here's the thing about the four-day vacation Husband and I just had: We really didn't do anything that we couldn't do at home.

The billboards leading into town reminded us that you practically can't turn around in this place without knocking over some world-class entertainer (and if you were one of the world-class entertainers I knocked over, whoops! Sorry!) and if you wanted to spend your children's inheritance you can see two shows a day and applaud until your palms calloused. But we don't lack for entertainment at home. There are concerts a'plenty within walking distance of the House on the Corner, and most of those are free.

There were nice places to relax in the fresh air. Our cabin had a little sitting area outside the door that was just right for drinking morning coffee or listening to the frogs at night and the main building had rocking chairs on the porch that overlooked the lake. But we have a nice deck with comfortable chairs that the feral cats keep warm for us. We even have rocking chairs in our living room.

There were books to read and paths to explore. We also have books and paths in Small Town.

The difference with being on vacation is that when you are on vacation, you don't just have these things, you do these things. We saw a show, and took a tram ride through a gorgeous canyon. (When we signed up for this event Husband was envisioning the tram in Where Eagles Dare and he was a little disappointed the tram wasn't one of these:

but our pickup-pulling-a-trailer tram was probably a better vantage point for seeing the newborn buffalo calf than an aerial car filled with Nazis would have been.)

We slept late, ate our breakfast on the patio and dawdled over coffee, then strolled over to the main building to sit on the porch and read our books. I finished two (this and this). Then we walked around for a while, and I forced Husband to pose for a selfie with me.

At home there are concerts and fresh air and books, but there are also windows to paint and floors to scrub and closets to clean out and while I'm not usually doing those things (because Netflix and knitting) I know I should be .

We didn't do anything we couldn't do at home, but on the best vacations we do these things we love, and this vacation was perfection.

Friday, July 18, 2014

How the Other Half Lives

This is the view that greeted me when I opened my eyes this morning, before I even put on my glasses. There is so much win in this photo that I don't even know where to begin.

Should I begin with the time, the glorious 9:06 that normally would follow an hour of sweating on the exercise bike and elliptical, and an hour of showering/grooming/breakfast/Sudoku, and an hour of dealing with e-mails and phone calls at work?

Or should I begin with the little green light at the back, where the folks who laid out this place  strategically placed a coffeemaker that produces the best-smelling brew since Juan Valdez?

Or should I point out the brown paper envelope that contains two gingersnaps, treats the cookie lady left on my pillow last night while we were still out? Or the fireplace with the kindling already laid and ready to be lit?

I've mentioned before that Husband is a CPA. What I have neglected to mention is that he is a darned good CPA and he works with some of the nicest people in the world. This year those two facts had a fortuitous alignment, and in gratitude for his good work two of the very nicest of these clients insisted we should get away for the weekend at one of their favorite places. (Don't worry--because he's a darned good CPA and also scrupulously honest, this will be reported as income on our taxes next year.)

We arrived yesterday to find a place so very different from our usual $50-limit-on-Priceline accommodations that we barely knew how to react. We're just assuming that all of this--the view, the sounds of birds in the day and frogs at night, the 74-degree predicted high in the middle of July--has been arranged just for us.

But how did they know the perfect spot to put the coffeemaker so that I could flip it on before I even crawled out from between the glorious  eight million thread count sheets? Obviously before we even arrived THEY KNEW WHICH SIDE OF THE BED I SLEEP ON.

We are not people who routinely stay in places like this (see also: four children/braces/college/cars/expensive yarn habit) but I could get used to it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Food Blogger

One of my smart-alecky sons told me a few weeks ago that I no longer eat food, I eat blog fodder. He had noticed that the progression for our food these days is to cook it (or order it), then bless it, then photograph it, then consume it, so he's not entirely wrong.

But, people! Don't you want to know what I'm eating these days? Especially when it is a caprese pizza? So delicious! Made with tomatoes and basil from my own little plants in my own little backyard, crispy whole wheat crust, and oozy mozarella?

Well, maybe you'd rather hear about the Super Spud that was my lunch following the blueberry picking excursion a few weeks ago. That baked potato was the size of a newborn's head, and almost equally delicious. (Not that I've ever actually eaten a newborn's head, but they smell sooooo good...)

Don't believe me? I have photographic proof:

Can't you imagine that with eyes and a nose and a precious little knitted cap? No? Huh. This may have just taken a turn for the creepy.

But that's why I document my food--so you can share both my delicious meals and my weird thoughts. Now that the Boys are no longer around, Husband needs you-all to witness the weird or no one would believe him.

Monday, July 14, 2014

De-Stuff-Ifying: Progress Report

Well, we're more than halfway done with the year. (I know! Time flies like an arrow! And if you add "but fruit flies like a banana," you have just told my all-time favorite joke.) That means it's time for a progress report.

Do any of you remember that I started out the year determined to de-stuff-ify? I did. I was going to rid the House on the Corner of 100 bags/boxes of stuff during 2014, making my life 100 bags/boxes less cluttered. I started out gangbusters, and in the month of January took out 18 units of old clothes, books, unused dishes, tchotchkes and dust-catchers. Woo! This was going swimmingly!

But then spring hit and with it the unremitting schedule of weekend activities. During February, March, April, May, and June the total of additional bags/boxes of stuff out was 14 and that included a vigorous cleaning of the basement during which I unloaded the raw materials for several projects that would have earned me a spot on the Pinterest Fail page. (That's not my fail, but I'm right there with you in spirit, fellow spraypainter.)

Anyway, we finally had an uncommitted Saturday so I decided the entryway closet was going to be my next target. That oddly-shaped little hidey-hole at the top of the basement steps outside the kitchen door had become the depository for our recycling bins, the paperboys' canvas bags, bone meal for the roses, pretty much anything we didn't want in the actual house. It was long overdue for a thorough toss-out.

I learned something about myself as I dug stuff out of that closet on Saturday, and that thing was that apparently I think I can conjure up a clean house by purchasing cleaning supplies. (This is a fallacy; I am incapable of resisting a new-fangled mop, but my kitchen floors are still sticky.)

When I lined up all the mops, there were seven. Seven mops. Plus two bottles of ammonia, two gallons of Windex, two brooms, a bucket of sponges, and a gallon of white vinegar.


Also three recycling bins (no longer used, since Small Town went to single-stream recycling), several thousand rubber bands for newspapers (the final Boy went out on the final paper route eight years ago),  three gardening gloves, a box of plant fertilizer that had burst, and the ceramic container that held a plant sent to me to celebrate Boy#4's birth. Plus other stuff.

When I finished ruthlessly disposing of bone meal and flea dip (awww, we miss Our Dog Pepper) the trash can was full (three bags out! yay!), and I had cleared enough enough room for the vacuum cleaner and other cleaning supplies to be moved out of the sewing room and consolidated in what I have designated as the new cleaning closet.

So how about those mops? Was I able to get rid of them? Well, no. Hope springs eternal that I will actually begin to clean some day and will need the scrubby mop, the Magic Eraser mop, and the plain sponge mop. Plus the two brooms (one for inside, one for outside).

It's not perfection but it's progress.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Orts and a Blurb

Well, hey there! It's Friday again and so far, no one has brought me popcorn. (Insert sad emoji.) I would be depressed about this if not for the fact that I just ran across this picture of Much Older Sister and me that was taken at the convention both of us attended a few weeks ago. It made me smile. Except that it also reminded me that my summer sweaty-face does a number on my bangs. Also that I'm really tall, and I forget that until I see a picture of myself cuddling up to MOS, who has much more normal human verticality. But MOS! Oooooh!

And speaking of relatives, thank you all so much for your concern for my brother after the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He is doing splendidly and back at work. This demonstrates a basic difference between him and me. If I'd had four out of five doctors who saw me the day before tell me how lucky I was (and the other too busy keeping me from DYING ON THE WAY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM to point out my luckiness), I would have milked this situation for a few more days at home. He, on the other hand, was looking up his company sick leave policy to see how he needed to turn in the days he was hospitalized because after a quarter century with the company, he had been too healthy to know what that policy was. Sheesh.

I have a new favorite video, and this is it. I dedicate it out to all my jiggly, chicken-necked, divine, older lady friends.
And the ort of the day is a recipe. As we were leaving mah bay-bee in his new apartment last week, this mom had to do what this mom has to do: I cooked. I left him with a freezer stocked with bierocks, but wanted him to have something sweet as well so I tried a new recipe from Gimme Some Oven which is a terrific food blog written by someone I knew when she was a student at Small College. (Hi, Ali!)

The recipe has coconut oil in it, which I understand has magical properties of some kind but I had never used before. I'm not sure if it was that ingredient or the couple of teaspoons of cornstarch that made the cookies soft and just exactly the right degree of crumbly, but they were the perfect antidote for distraction from upcoming tearful leave-taking.

People, these are pretty darned spectacular. Don't say I didn't warn you if you end up eating two or three or a dozen.
The recipe is here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In the Meantime...

Are you tired of Boy#4's move to Texas yet? No? Then I present this picture of what we did for the 20 minutes of the four moving days that we weren't shopping or (in my case) needlessly commemorating the transition.

Yes. The Boys played checkers. At Cracker Barrel. While Husband and I rocked in the Cracker Barrel rockers.

Because it was July 4 and apparently we are 104 years old.