His Name May Not Be George

Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 30, 2016

Tomorrow marks the end of another July. I've been outside for just over an hour enjoying my dinner, a wander and watering session in my garden, and one last hour reading over one of the essays in a volume of essays by E.B. White for the first time. I'm two hours away from the place where I started reading this book and only a few miles from the little bookstore where I bought it several summers ago while on vacation. 

I came home from that vacation and put the book on the shelf because I wanted to save it for winter reading. Ever since that winter, I pick it up when the mood is right and read an essay or two. More often than not, I take the little book out to the bench that sat outside of our other house and now sits outside of The Queen's Cottage. Sometimes the weather is the perfect temperature - like tonight - and other times I'm pushing things. On those days, I bring something hot out to drink, pull my hood on, and wrap a blanket around every bit of me that I can. 

Even though I firmly believe in writing in books, this is one book that I haven't made a single mark in. Well, other than the short note I jotted on the title page to remind me of when and where I bought it. I haven't marked up this book, not because the words aren't worthy of interacting with, but because I almost always end up interacting with them in other ways. I stop and pause and savor and laugh and reread when I read E.B. White. After I'm done, I sit in silence thinking over what I've read a little while longer and then, more often than not, I head to my desk and write something of my own. Sometimes - like tonight - I write about what I've read. Other times, I write a piece on a topic that reading his words inspired me to tackle. When I'm done with all of that, I read snippets of White's piece to whoever happens to be around.  

It is fitting that this last essay by a man I adore should be about a place I adore, namely, Massachusetts. To make matters even sweeter, it's an ode to a writer he admired. E.B. White had  a way of seeing past things. In this case, he looked past the fact that one of his most treasured and well-read books was titled "Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States" and that it dealt with a past-time that neither he nor I have taken up (though I have always thought it interesting). 
He observed, enjoyed, and learned from the skill of the author, one Edward Howe Forbush, especially when it came to the "rambling essays" that he wrote on each bird. Like White before me, I have found a writer whose work means more to me than it probably should. When I read "Charlotte's Web" back in second grade and then the other two of his books for children in fourth and fifth grades, I thought that was "it". I looked and looked for more stories by White and came back empty. I had no idea that he wrote pages and pages of words for the New Yorker or that volumes of these and other pieces existed. 

I own two volumes now and am always watching for others to add to my collection. Reading White at 7 and then again at 9 and 10 was just as sweet as reading his essays has been since I first discovered them when I was 23. I expect it always will be. 

His name may not be George, but he can write and I love him for it.

Another post White inspired me to write.

P.S. Please excuse the weird spacing...
Blogger isn't cooperating with me tonight.

A Thursday Afternoon Ramble

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Photo Credit: My Mom || A shot she took this very morning. We both leaned out of the way so our shadows wouldn't be in the picture. :) 
I've just finished vacuuming, tidying the kitchen, and delivering the day's laundry. My plans for the evening consist of finishing off our chinese leftovers and going to Bible Study with my sister. While I'm waiting for my sister to get home from work, it seemed like a good idea to sit down with a glass of sweet tea and write a post. This post is going to be what we bloggers call "a stream of consciousness", or "a good old-fashioned ramble", or - if we're feeling especially fancy - "an if we were having coffee together" post.

Grab something to drink and let's settle in for a chat...

I'd like to start off by saying that I've officially been blogging for 10 years now. I started my first blog (which I deleted and am stilllll upset with myself over) after coming back from the leadership camp that changed my life. It was the middle of July in 2006 and I could sense that new things were happening. I wrote about my faith and my life and I'd love to go back and read those words. I was almost 16, had just learned what it really meant to BE a Christian, was starting my job at the coffee shop, and had skipped the trip to visit my Dad for the first time in my life. I blogged from our old Dell in our Family Room turned School Room. I read Molly Piper's blog, Joy the Baker's blog, and a woman named Shannon's blog that I found after she commented on Molly's blog.

With that said...I think it's high time I post about this little space of mine on FB so that people I know in "real life" can read it. My immediate family knows about it (hi, sister and mother of mine!), my brother stops by for the pictures but is the only person who says the title in the right order (hello, sir!) and I have an uncle who reads it (I think he still does), as well as a few friends who've found out about it who read  it (hi, Monica!!!), but I've worked really hard to keep it a secret. It's sooooo much safer that way. One of my goals this year is to SHARE what I write and sharing this space seems like a big part of that.

On a writing note, I found out that literary journals are still in existence and I planned to spend some time this summer writing things to submit to them. I'm still in the researching phase of figuring out what the journals are, what their submission policies are like, and which journals are the right fit for my writing. One article suggested checking out the journals your library has. Mine has none, so that was a bust. I guess I should get moving along with this plan of mine...Do you subscribe to any?

My Mom and I have been watching this show on Acorn TV called "Moving On". She's really good about finding things that I'll be into. We watched the first episode yesterday morning and I did NOT react like she expected me to. After the show was over, we had a lively discussion about which characters we sided with. Needless to say, she was in favor of the Mother and I was with the adult children in principle even though I recognized that their attitudes took things to the extreme. It's a great show and I can see many more discussions coming our way.

Speaking of discussions...My Mom and I are talkers. We can talk about anything for any length of time. Good luck getting a word in if we haven't been together for a while. One of my favorite things about our conversations is that we pretty much always get to the bottom of things. If we are tracking the same scent, it's beautiful. If we're not...Well...You might want to stear clear until we agree to disagree. Either way, I'm always better for our talks. And I think she is too! ;)

That's all for now, I think.

Leave a ramble of your own in the comments! I'd love to read it. :) 

Three Days in June

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This summer has been one thing after another. I keep talking about the potlucks and the hike and the cookouts and and the geocaching and the plays and the FUN. Today, I've got some pictures from the last few weeks of June.

One dream I've had for a while now is to have a game night once or twice a month. I haven't PUSHED it. We finally had one and it was so much fun!

It happened to be a Monday night and we learned this game called "Secret Hitler" that my sister learned while she was visiting at our Uncle George's house. It turns out that this game is one that is the most fun when you have a ton of people playing it (I LOVE games like that)! We had snacks and chats and played two or three rounds with Aubrey and her Mom before finally calling it a night.

The next Monday was spent with my Mom and brother at the amusement park....We had a BLAST. My brother officially likes ALL roller coasters. He acts like I've lost my mind for having to ask him, but I'm used to being the only one aside from my Mom who truly enjoys the things.

Anyway...We rode the train and a handful of rides and ate enough BBQ for several grown men and came home ready for a long night's rest.


During the final weeks of their big show most days had us all feeling like this ^...Like our lives were flipped, turned upside down...Working with the costuming, settling into our new schedule, attending rehearsals, taking friends up on invites, and doing the normal day to day things of life was A LOT and it all seemed to be happening at the same time.

Life here is sooooo very different than it was in the town I spent the last 20 years in. It's a good kind of different, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't take some getting used to. Just when I think I have it figured out, something changes and I get to start figuring it out all over again. It's good for me. SOOOOO good for me. Even if it does make me want to run back to my old town and the slow, quiet life we lived there. :)

After all of that, I took a morning to myself to recharge and catch my breath because the calendar was just as full going into July....More on that another time.

How has the summer of 2016 been for you? I'd love to hear allll about it!

Learning From Her

Friday, July 22, 2016

December 21, 2014

I was scrolling through FB this morning and Alicia shared this post called "On Baking Bread and Slow Days". The title alone was enough to get me to click over to it. As I read the paragraph about the author's mom's cooking lessons, I was transported back to the lessons I received from my own Mom when I was growing up.

And all of a sudden, I realized what a gift they were. My sister is 18 and is always getting onto me about being the reason that she can't cook (she totally can, but she doesn't have her kitchen legs under her yet as far as getting a whole meal onto the table at the same time goes...she can do that too, but her point is that she doesn't have the experience that I had when I was her age). I go back and forth between feeling totally bad about it and realizing that it's more circumstance than anyone's fault.

From the time I was little, I was always right by my whatever adult was in charge of me. I asked questions, I imitated, and I wanted in on whatever "we" were doing. I still remember standing over the stove at my grandparents' house helping my Mom make tomato soup. She whispered in my ear something about it being a good thing grandma couldn't see us (my grandma tended to be a bit nervous, especially when it came to small children and things that could hurt them). In that moment I realized that I was doing something special. I've never forgotten the feeling of grown-upness that set into my shoulders.

The years went by and I started scrambling my own eggs for breakfast and browning the ground beef on taco nights. Eventually, I settled into being the resident baker. When I was in jr. high, I didn't play a spring sport or have to attend confirmation like my friends did, so I found myself in the kitchen. I sat at the bar across from my Mom chatting and watching her work. I never offered to help and she never pulled me into what she was doing.

I started learning what went into certain dishes and being totally grossed out more often than not. She put up with my many monologues that went something like this, "Gobs and gobs of mayonnaise in Chicken Divan?" That was worth complaining about. "That much vinegar in the cabbage salad that I love? I'm not sure I'll ever eat that again." "Wait, you're putting mustard in that? I'm gagging now." She would tell me to hush and that that's the way she always made it and that I would eat whatever it was and love it just like I had every time before.

Eventually, I made my way around the counter and started cleaning up after her and doing prep jobs. I'm not sure which one of us asked, but I can still see us in that harvest gold kitchen working magic and having the time of our lives. I didn't know it then, but I was turning into a cook and one of my greatest joys was being passed on to me. I learned her tips and tricks and before I knew it, I was ready to do it on my own. By the time she let me loose we had been co-cooking for several years. I had been helping plan and shop and cook and one day I was ready to have her be my assistant. Another year or so went by and I found myself being the resident dinner maker. Eventually she didn't even join me in the kitchen any more.

Learning to cook took time. It was time that I had and time that my Mom gave. Those days were slow. They weren't perfect, but looking back on them makes me so happy that tears follow. Learning to cook wasn't the reason I sat down in the chair at the bar or why I went around the counter to help. Learning to cook, like just about everything else I know how to do, happened when my Mom and I lived life the way we'd been living it. Together.

I can't cook anything without thinking about where I had it or who taught me to make it. My Mom comes to mind quite often when I'm in the kitchen and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Currently: July 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 1, 2016
Excuse my absence. Again. I drafted this post several weeks ago, but never got around to posting it...So here ya go. I've got allll kinds of things to write about and pictures to share. I've updated my summer reads and I do hope to be back to posting here sooner rather than later! 

June was amazing. It may have been THE best month we've had since moving last August (and we've had some GOOD months). We had some seriously HOT days in June and I'm always up for sunshine.

In the garden, my little cucumber and pea plots are coming right along. There aren't any vegetables yet, but I haven't lost hope (update: I ate my first sugar snap pea two days ago and there are a bunch more that will be ready any day)! My zinnia patch is blooming which is SUPER exciting. I've tried to grow zinnias twice, but each time I think my cosmos choked them out. Trying to start seeds in the window boxes turned out to be foolish. You win some, you lose some. 

In the fun department, there was one week in particular that was one fun thing after another. I spent a day at an amusement park, went hiking, went to several potlucks (I need to keep a tally going...), and made some new friends. I'll be posting about it soon!

I also had several opportunities to do some HELPING. I'm still in the middle of one of the projects, which is costuming for my brother and sister's latest play (update: the play has come and gone. It was a huge success and we all survived!). This is my first time working in costuming, so I mostly find myself asking LOTS of questions and organizing and reorganizing EVERYTHING. 

July is here and it really feels both like summer is JUST getting started and that we've been living summer all along. I still haven't gone swimming yet, but SOON (update: my sister and I went swimming yesterday and it was everything I hoped it would be. We'll be going back very SOON). In the meantime, I'm currently...

Toasting: Banana bread. Along with HOT weather, we've had a lot of rainy/gray days where temps barely reach 70. Strange? YES! But, I'm making the most of it with chances to burn candles, bake, and make hearty meals. 

Going: A LOT. As I mentioned, there seems to be a potluck or two every week with one group or another. One thing I didn't mention is that my Mom and I went to a staged reading of The Great Gatsby and it was sooooo good. They read the final line and it hit me just like the first time I read it in my backyard several summers ago. I walked out of the theatre in stunned silence. 

Smelling: At this exact moment, I'm smelling the fresh rain smell that's coming in through the open window. The candle I mentioned happens to be left over from fall, but I've been burning it anyway. Hello, pumpkin spice afternoons. 

Wearing: A combination of summer clothes and jeans and sweatshirts. Also, Banana Boat's "After Sun" lotion. 

Wishlisting: For more of the same. LOTS and LOTS of sunshine and chances to get to know these people I have met. 

Linking up with Jenna and Anne one last time (update: totally missed the link up, but posting anyway)! Jenna, I wish you the best with the time you'll have on your hands each month now that you're passing your co-hosting duties on to someone else!