Friday, August 31, 2012

Walking under a blue moon

I felt I had to at least acknowledge tonight's blue moon on the blog, seeing as how we won't see another until 2015. As always, GB and Ginger and I took a long walk around the neighborhood after dark, and we took care to notice the big, bright moon shining down.

These evening walks are a real pleasure. Ginger thinks they are the most wonderful thing in the world, and the three of us have done lots of bonding this year while out together walking at night.

There is a cat several blocks over that always meets us near her house, comes up for petting and nose-touching with Ginger, and then walks with us for about half a block. Ginger has also made friends with a big boisterous mutt named Bob that lives in our neighborhood. Occasionally, when we walk during the daytime, Bob's people will bring him out to see Ginger. Most of the time we see him hanging out silhouetted at their front door, though, since we do most of our walking at night. Another treat when walking at night (in the summer) is seeing a pair of killdeer running around a parking lot on our route. They have an unmistakable call and will feign a broken wing to lure you away from their youngsters. I don't think they're normally active at night, but since we walk across the parking lot I suppose we disturb them when they have babies (killdeer lay eggs on flat surfaces, like parking lots and golf courses). It's always nice to see them under the street lights, running in circles and calling to each other. There are always good things to notice when we're out at night.

So that's how I celebrated tonight's blue moon, out walking under it and spending time with the family. And now, here comes September!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Autumn is coming!

This little treasure is for sale at our local farmer's market. It makes me think of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos and fall.

I also liked his partner and would have brought them both home in a minute, if the old budget had allowed. Sadly, it did not.

Autumn and Halloween merchandise is showing up all over the place, and I love it! I've already purchased a seasonal beer collection and a bag of candy corn at the grocery store. I love the wire bins bursting with cheerful scarecrows sitting on the sidewalk in front of the dollar store. The bookstore where I work is getting in all sorts of books and gifts for the season. There will be tables merchandised with books by authors like Poe and Lovecraft, gift items inspired by Tim Burton books and horror films, and craft/cook books filled with ideas for party recipes and decorations. Everywhere you go, you see evidence of the approach of Autumn.

What signs of the season are showing up where you live?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sunshine! Jungle!

After days and days of overcast skies and rain, the sun is finally shining! Not only that, but the weather is perfect, absolutely perfect. It feels and looks like an early fall day, with blue skies, a cool breeze, and moderate temperatures.

Wait, is this really South Carolina in August?!

We never have such moderate temperatures this time of year. Never. A day with weather like this at the backside of August is like a rare gift. Of course, this means I can no longer put off the inevitable.......the backyard.

 Thanks to almost two weeks of getting some rain almost every single day, our grass is well past ankle high. When it won't stop raining, you can't really mow. It just kept getting thicker and taller and there was nothing to do but watch.

 The hedges are out of control, in some cases blocking the view from our windows.  Poison oak is advancing along the back fence line, just daring anyone to come try to do something about it. Waist high weeds are dotted throughout the lawn. Everything is a big mess. And I'm the only one in the house cleared to do yard work this summer.

It's going to be a bitch.

Thank goodness for the sunshine and cool temperatures as I battle back the jungle to reclaim our backyard. If I don't return by sundown send a search party. God knows what's lurking out there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Today would have been the 100th birthday of an American icon, Julia Child, who taught millions of Americans to cook fine French food.  She was spirited, independent, funny, and a trailblazer in the realm of cooking shows. Her tv show on PBS "The French Chef" was a huge hit in the days before anyone had ever heard of a cooking show, long before the Food Network and it's celebrity chefs were a phenomenon.

I am currently reading the new biography of Julia, "Dearie" by Bob Spitz. It's a fascinating look into the life of our late, great, godmother of cooking. She was warm, witty, headstrong, and she taught millions of Americans how to cook.

There was so much more to Julia Child than just cooking, however (she did not start becoming famous for that until she was in her '50s): she was a Smith graduate, an OSS member during WWII, and an outspoken liberal that had been raised in a very conservative, rich, republican family. (In her great old age, she despised George W. Bush and his policies and made no secret of it). Then there is the wonderful love story between her and her husband, Paul Child. They married relatively late in life (she was in her thirties, he was ten years her senior) and by all accounts they had a loving, lusty, long marriage and lots of adventures together as the best of friends.

Happy 100th birthday, dearie. And bon appetit!!

Julia Child on the set of her PBS show

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mother love

This summer I have been the recipient of lots of love and some pretty amazing gifts from my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and one of my (long deceased) great grandmothers. For the first time in years, maybe ever, I feel like a much-loved daughter. Gestures of affection and loving words have been somewhat rare in my relationships with the mother figures in my life, for various reasons, but this year during my husband's health crisis all that started to change. Maybe I am the one that has changed. It has always been somewhat difficult for me to accept help and support from my family, preferring always to be independant, self-sufficient, and (perceived to be) strong. Admitting I needed help, or even just some attention, has always been hard for me to do. In the past I preferred to keep my troubles to myself, but GB's illness changed all that. It became impossible to hold up emotionally without lots of support from our families, our friends, and especially our moms.

The first special gift I got was on our 5th wedding anniversary back in June. My sweet mother-in-law came to visit and during a private moment presented me with the wedding ring given to her by GB's father. Although they divorced when he was in high school (and both remarried) they remained good friends that were both deeply committed to their children. Unfortunately, GB's dad passed away (from cancer) before I had a chance to know him. I have been told that he was a wonderful dad, and his three children miss him terribly. My mother-in-law speaks fondly of him and their years together. She wanted me to have her wedding ring as a gesture of love from both of them with gratitude for "how good you've been to our son while he's been sick". I was deeply touched, and will cherish the ring forever, as well as the thought behind the gift.

The next gift came from my mom, and her grandmother, my great-grandmother Ella Turner Poston. She (my great-gran) was a family legend for her fiery temper and headstrong ways. She was outspoken, stubborn, and had strong opinions about people. Whenever any of the girls on that side of the family lose their temper or show a fierce independent streak, we say that's the "Ella" coming out in them. My mom, who took after her grandmother in temperament, was her favorite grandchild, and so when I was born I became her favorite great-grand. I remember her, actually. She passed away when I was 9 or 10 years old, although she was a very old woman and in a nursing home by the time I remember seeing her regularly. When I was a baby and toddler, she spent money regularly on fancy dresses for me to have my pictures taken in. She never paid much attention to my cousins, for some reason, but she showered me with attention.

So unknown to me, my Granny Poston had a ruby ring (her birthstone) that she loved when she was young. When she was middle aged, and a long time widow, she lost the ring. She had a gentleman friend who was a widower, and according to my mom he was "sweet on" her, although she would never agree to be anything other than friends. Anyway, he found out she had lost her ring, felt bad about it, and  rushed out to a little jeweler's shop and bought her a new one for her birthday. She was thrilled with it and wore it every day for the next 20 years or so. When she passed away, my mom inherited the ring. I never remember seeing it or hearing this story. Possibly a ruby ring doesn't mean much to a 10 year old, or possibly my mom put it right away for safe keeping and I never noticed, but for whatever reason, I had never heard the story

After my mother-in-law gave me her wedding ring, my mom remembered my granny's ruby ring that had been sitting in a jewelry box for the past 25 years or so. Then she remembered a verse in the bible (in proverbs) about a good wife being more precious than rubies, and she decided that I should have the ring. She said she was so impressed with how loving and patient I was with my husband this year, and how well I was (am) handling his illness, that she thought I deserved this ring. She said she also wanted me to remember, whenever I look at it, that she loves me, my grandmother loved me, and my great-grandmother also loved me. That I come from a long line of feisty, strong, independent women and I can handle any challenge that comes my way.

I intend to wear it forever, and to remember.

Tomorrow: something special from another grandmother, this time on my dad's side. I  am one lucky, loved woman.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tidbits from a vacation

First off, the planning for my Mid Autumn Moon party is in high gear! It will soon be time to start stockpiling party supplies for our end of September celebration. I don't want to have to buy everything all at once, since it will be much easier on my budget if I spread out the purchases over the next 8 weeks. I am so excited to be hosting this party for my girlfriends again this year!

In case you weren't reading here last year, this is a link to Waverly Fitzgerald's wonderful article about the Mid Autumn Moon celebrations in Asia, which was the original inspiration for my party:

On Monday I drove the 30 miles or so to visit my dad, as it was his birthday. My mom cooked a nice meal for the three of us and we spent the day catching up.

The rest of my week has been pretty lazy. The most effort I make is when GB, Ginger and I go out for our nightly walks around the neighborhood. It's much cooler after dark and it's fun to greet our neighbors that are out getting their exercise, too. Lots of people around here take their dogs out walking after dark, so Ginger has made a few friends in the process. There is also a gray and white cat that always follows us for a block or so every night after we pass her house. She's a sweet cat, and loves to be petted, but Ginger gets a wide eyed look when a cat sidles up to her for affection, so we keep her leash short at those times, just in case. Ginger obviously doesn't know what to make of a cat that willingly hangs out with us. Normally, to her, cats are for chasing!

After our nightly walks, GB and I have been watching lots of movies and TV shows together on Netflix. Sometimes Marco likes to hang out on our shoulders so he can watch the movies too! Here are my two favorite men deeply engrossed in an old film:

Best buddies.

So that's about it for the news from my vacation. Relaxing, uneventful time off...just what the doctor ordered! Tomorrow is my last day off. I go back to work on Friday, which I am not looking forward to. I guess I just have to pack as much fun and enjoyment into today and tomorrow as I can!

Oh, and how did it get to be August so fast? Time sure flies!  Happy August, and Happy Lammas to all my friends!