Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's a Birthday

 TheQueen loves her some birthdays. When it's her turn she celebrates all month. When he was growing up, she'd tell LD "The Story of William" on his birthday. She likes to send birthday cards, find funny messages and cry out "Happy Birthday". Second to her own birthday, her favorite is 3/31 which is ThePrince's birthday. (Prince Consort, that is) Here is ThePrince I fell in love with - lo these 40+ years ago.

Here he is in the yurt days with wee tiny PerfectAngelBabyDarlingOnlySon.

It's true - we really did live in a Yurt. That little dog is named Holly. We got her when we were living in Pop's old WWII pup tent, that he'd landed on Normandy Beach with. Uncle Ed brought Holly to us because he thought every family who lived in the country (even if only in a tent) needed a dog. That hot summer evening we sat on the hood of the old Mustang, trying to decide what to name her when both of us blurted out "Holly".

One of the many reasons I'm so crazy about the birthday boy is because he builds paths through the woods - and clears them when Mother Nature leaves tragic litter about.

And he can be counted on to bring home the Christmas Tree!

When any opportunity arises - here is where you will find him - on some boat or another.

Of course - frequently TheQueen takes him on progress with her - New York, Grand Canyon.  

But east or west, home is best - and has been for a long long time.
Happy Birthday Darling

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Life Force

Many of you will remember Hurricane Irene - not just as a weather channel news item but because you felt the brunt of it's fury. We're only just now clearing off the last of the downed trees and I believe my guys will be clearing yet another path today. Our eyes have gotten used to paths walled in by sawn off limbs. Our hearts are fairly numb to the piercing we get from our sylvan losses, most of the time, till we take a walk in the forest and come upon one of the great holes in the canopy and have to deal with it again. 

There are a few places where huge holes gape upwards like giant mouths. In this photo all the white used to be tree limbs, sheltering the soft leaf strewn floor, giving off a woodsy scent and furnishing countless homes for numberless squirrels. 
On Sunday BD and I took our regular stroll around the property and we came upon a sight I never see this close - red oak blossoms and tiny yellow oak leaves unfurling. Usually when an oak tree is this fully blooming it's also 50 feet high. This behemoth, though down, is definitely not out yet. Along it's entire length are supple limbs and twigs and sprigs, gushing with life bringing sap. And sure as I'm writing this, there will be one limb that out-thrives the rest - that insists upon living - that will thicken and lengthen and one day will form a strange crooked tree trunk. Because the life force swings back against the inevitable pull of death. It's just that way. In the words of Frost:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour
then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Joy Of Napping

Whew. Double Whew. It has been like that around here - not so much in TheCastle, but within TheRealm. I am going to blame it on the Grand Trine or the sun moving into Ares or the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter - but it doesn't matter what's the cause. I still have to plow through it all. And for some reason, I feel like I have a lot of help surrounding  me. Well. Not for "some" reason. I asked for help - from my spiritual helpers, from God, from friends, from family. So even though this is a very delicate and yet full and fat time, there's some real fun involved as well as a strengthening sense of satisfaction whenever I make a wise step forward.

It isn't just me, either, since Other Loved Ones are going through similar experiences. It's just ... WHEW. In fact, I'm so full of whew that today, at last, a full weekend at home in TheCastle, I plan to take a nap.

I've always been one for a nap. When I was little, nobody had to make me lie down. No Jack-in-the-box toddler here. As part of the bulge in the wave of baby boomers, I only went to school half days till I was in 3rd grade. There just weren't enough classrooms and teachers for us all. As old as 7 I'd come home at lunch time and crash for an afternoon nap. I still think of sleep as a recreational activity - perhaps because it allows me to step into the alternative world of dreams. Whatever the reason, I love me a good nap.
Euphorbia pestilentia
I don't always get a weekend nap and I don't even always need one. This week, though, has been packed with difficult tasks and new routines; some actually scary.  There has been news on the parental front as well - and sister and I are starting the hunt for a skilled nursing home for mama next week. Mama's not ill - she's just too old to live in assisted living any more. Too inert, too frail, too helpless.  crumbs. I didn't get to sleep on Thursday night till it was Friday and I was up early for an important meeting only a few hours later. Yup. I'm exhausted. I need a nap.

Finding time to take a good nap is something else again. But today? Sweet happy today? I have Saturday and Sunday at home - there's only some housework to do - my guys cut and raked the lawn for me yesterday - and later on it's supposed to rain. So when all the work is done, I'm going to soak in a warm bath, pull the sheets back and snuggle down for a sweet nourishing replenishing nap. Ahhhh.

Before I go, though, I wanted to share some springtime images from around the yard - just because.


When not napping - why not sit here?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Official First Day of Spring

 It rolled in wrapped in fog. Not a heavy blanket, but a cloudy shawl of misty air accented by the tracery of barely leafed out treetops. The temperature is warm enough but a walk outside will quickly dampen your clothes and leave your skin chilly. Dogs come in with cool moist fur. The spring songbirds don't like this wet weather so the yard is silent, minus their territorial singing and amorous flirtations. It is a quiet still morning that encourages you to roll over and sleep just a few more minutes.

I have an artist cousin who is drawn to these misty landscapes  and watery scenes. I imagine him traipsing through the early mornings with his camera, capturing inspiration with a click.

Today the weather dot com guys are hinting at actual rain - which will be particularly welcome for those beginning to feel effects of pollen. Love truly is in the air right now - plant love. When the sun is out you can hear bees and other hummers zooming about like so many miniature aircraft. Now, though, the mist that hides the low angle of the sun whispers hush hush. Go back to bed.

I wish I could. I hope you can. But if you can't - then take this grey soft wet peace with you throughout the day. Pull it around your shoulders and just see how many barbs and zings it can deflect. Softly softly glide through this first day of spring.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Week of Springtime

 For the past week we've had nothing but beautiful springlike weather. Days between 70 and 85, nights merely a crisp 45-50.  Most of the days have contained clear blue skies though there have been some clouds. No rain, though, except for the thunder storm that passed south of us on Thursday. This weather has brought out the first of the springtime blossoms - both the cultivated types and the wee wild things. 
Collage from Crime Wine and Dine 2The past week also contained a lot of Big Stuff in the Life-0-th'Queen. There was a Weekend with a Writer event on Tuesday. These have gotten easier as the Friends have learned more about whom to ask and what sorts of help is out there when they put on library functions. The most fun of this party was having my sister come and stay the night. We're planning a joint family vacation - our first ever - and we had lots to talk about. Besides, it was fun to get together when there was No Family Crisis to deal with.

Not Pete but from those early days
There was also a funeral last week. We bid goodbye to an old old friend - someone who had been out of our lives for a very long time - though never out of our hearts. Pete was the first person I met down here who wasn't close kin. It was Pete who introduced us to the younger set, since in those days nearly all BD's family was 60+. He also got us a fabulous deal on exterior plywood - at builder's price. He worked as a contractor. He helped us put up the yurt, dined with us around a campfire, invited us to swim in front of his home, and once he saved my Precious Angel Baby Darling Only Son's life. Pete will live in my heart FOREVER.

We had dinner with beloved friends on Saturday - and managed to sidestep the basketball game between VCU and whoever else was playing. (not  a sports fan here) but we did get captured by the police sobriety checks (2 of them!!!!) set up on 360 coming out of Richmond in honor of both St. Patrick's Day and March Madness. The first guy asked me if I'd had anything to drink that evening, to which I answered truthfully, yes, a few hours ago. The second one just told me to remember to get my drivers license renewed in September.

And now it's Monday. MondayMondayMondayMondayMonday.

Yes there is knitting but I am at a tricky place so .... no photos. But soon. I promise.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Out and About in the Early Spring

My dear BH always says that in Virginia the first day of spring is really March 1 and while I am a little pickier about the angle of the sun, this year the temperatures are on his side. So many warm days, so few cold ones, have pushed the trees into overdrive. Not only were the daffodils blooming in February, the forest line turning rosy, but look at this poplar tree caught turning green on Sunday March the 10! 
This is my harbinger tree - the one I always gauge when 'real' spring has arrived. When it leafs out, it's officially springtime. 

There's still plenty of spring to come, of course. There are even oak and beech trees that have to shed their leaves to make room for the new ones. But green is pushing it's fingers along the edges of the roads, the misty tops of the garden. 
Saturday, we all went strolling around the farm, assessing things, admiring the work of Mark the logger, who dragged the hurricane downed trees out of the fields, preparatory to hauling them away. I'll be glad to see them go - the hole they leave in the woods is bad enough, but looking at their skeletal waste as they rot away against the edge of the woods is just awful. We already cut 5 cords of firewood out of them - glad to see these go.  

Of course, not before everyone gets the chance to climb all over them. 

Sunday I took the dogs on a late afternoon stroll and was surprised to see so many peach trees blooming! These are little spreaders, not trees I've planted. I guess the squirrels take them off and plant them, because I have dozens of these all around the house. They produce little tiny peaches, usually not very sweet - just the thing for hungry critters. And masses of beautiful pink blossoms.

And now, with with Mercury retrograde this northern spring 2012, from March 12 to April 5, let us all ask the spirits to look after our cars, our computers, our pens and our mouths, and anything else that could move us from one place to another. Happy Monday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Everything comes back

INC International Concepts Women's Shoes, Benecia Platform Pumps

Once I had a pair of shoes like this - slightly thicker heal but same colorway and elevated platform. I walked 2 miles to work in them. I was crazy. I was also 21.

12 in 12 March Update

I bet I am not the only one who is pondering the resolutions, thoughts, plans, hopes, ideas she had last January as she contemplated the richness that is a whole new year. Those of us who like NYRs don't tend to drift away from them till sometime in February or March. I know I can tell you everything that happened in just about every January of my life, since journaling and diary writing have long been a part of my January rush of Improvement. Mays and Junes are a lot foggier.

Last January, as I thought about the numerical significance of twenty twelve I decided to add 12 tiny (I hoped) habits to my daily routine - small additions that I might already be doing sporadically to which I would give special attention. Nothing monumental - not because TheQueen is already regal enough, but because I just wanted - and still want - to tweak the system a little. In January it was easy to stick to my resolution.  I wanted to journal my eating every day - and I did! In February, a month that was a little rocky, I added prayer to my daily routine and while I did not achieve a perfect score, I still made time to consciously pray more days than I forgot to.  I found that if I want to go into that quiet deep place, give thanks, accept love and ask for help every day, I really have to do it first thing in the morning. It's not that I can't carve out the time and quiet space to do that later in the day - I did. I do - and it's an amazingly productive thing to do on a workday afternoon ... to turn the lights off in my office, lower my chair and sit quietly for 5 or 10 minutes. But far too often I become totally distracted by all the rest of the world and forget - something else I did - and do.

Prayer is an important element in my sanity and my productivity. It's also something that I have done since I was fairly young. I had no formal religion till I was a teen and honestly, by that time I'd already created my own plan for spirituality. Happily, it folded into the formal Catholic Girls School practice neatly enough to go undetected. It's difficult for me to write about how important prayer is for me, not because I can't find the words, but because it touches something so very deep inside - and a public blog like this tends to have only so much information in it - and usually it's information about the physical side of life.

It's the very fact that prayer is so very important to me that I decided to give it more attention from now on. Of course I pray when I think I need to. I pray when I think I'm in trouble or when I need help. But that's just the point. It's all about I, I, I. It's all about my ego and its thoughts. It's about thinking and I know, absolutely, that thought is just part of the picture.  I need to honor prayer's rich and sterling qualities when I am not in trouble:  the giving thanks part of prayer; the joyful accepting of a love that is beyond the physical world, though still connected to it; the petitioning for help not just when I can't solve my problems, but asking for it just to live better, more connectedly, more kindly, wiser. It is a way of taking my ego out of things and uniting with something bigger than I am.

Well, what do you know. I did write about prayer - at least a little.

And now here it is March and this time I chose to add something a little more mundane to my daily routine. This month I am concentrating on drinking at least 6 glasses of water every day. It may sound like a silly habit to fold into one's life, but alas - drinking water is something I also forget to do. I like water. I have delicious tap water both at home and at work. I feel better when I drink water. I look better when I drink water. Alas, I also forget to drink water. A day will go by and I'll realize I haven't had any water all day. It's almost scary. But it's something that can be rectified by just scheduling "water breaks".

And now you know the status of my 12 in 12.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I did not like Green Drink, I think

When I was 8 or 9 years old my aunt became very passionate about eating healthily. In fact, she was what we called a Health Food Nut - partly because what she advocated was different from what my daddy wanted to eat - vegetarian, organic, whole foods; partly because she was passionate about her theories; and partly because she was a little nutty. At some point in the fall she sent Mama a recipe for what we later called Green Drink - a little pineapple juice (not enough), some almonds and an enormous bag of leafy dark greens thrown into a blender and ground into a poi like paste. It was thick, gooey, and bitter -  all the things repugnant to a child's tongue. And Aunt E convinced mama to try it. Mama requested and got a blender for Christmas that year and on the 28th of December she stirred up the first batch of witches brew and began systematically torturing her children. It was my littlest sister B's birthday and I remember her weeping bitterly about being poisoned on her very own birthday. 
It really was a hideous beverage which, now and then, Mama would make less hideous, though we couldn't figure out why.  Sometimes you actually swallow it while the rest of the time you had to hold your breath and choke it down. Mama was never a good cook and she had no a sense of what might work well together. She was quick to hand over dinner chores to any aspiring cook among her daughters and we actually are all pretty decent chefs.  But the green drink. Ugh. Thankfully, it was served in little 3 ounce juice glasses from the 50's, not the supersized things we haul out now. We suffered through that dreadful breakfast routine for one winter and then it was never produced again.  Over the years, whenever we wanted to complain about our rigorous childhood, we'd haul out the story  of the year of green drink and the whole family would moan and laugh and point accusing fingers at our mother. She would lift her head, toss it a little and say "You were never sick once that whole winter - you were never that healthy again"

Several years ago, though, thoughts of green drink bubbled up from my memory and I began to ponder why it was so dreadful and if it could be made palatable. Starting with the original recipe I doubled the pineapple juice and watered it down some more, making it more of a green broth type of thing. This was a vast improvement.  Unfortunately, the pineapple juice is high in calories and not exactly the flavor I was looking for. Then V-8 came out with their Fusion and even a Fusion lite - which has sucralose in it - and my bad - I like sucralose -  so that's the juice I use. I also switched from fresh greens to frozen ones, mainly for the ease, but also to add a slurpee like texture. So now Green Drink is a pretty regular drink around  my house - especially on nights when I'm serving pasta and don't feel like making a salad. 

In December sister B visited for a few days and I offered her a green drink. Her whole body shriveled and she actually took a step back. I could see the suspicion in her eyes as she tried to decide if her mean big sister was trying to tease her again. But like Sam-I-am, I urged with all the sincerity I could muster and she took a tentative sip. What a good thing it was to see her whole face blossom in delight.  I sent her home with a bottle of V8 and the recipe - which is not really a recipe at all. Just a cup of juice (I only  like the strawberry/banana flavor) with a cup or so of frozen greens and a couple of almonds in a blender. Soft bananas go well in it too. Whir till pour-able. Enjoy.

At last - both Mama and Aunt E are vindicated. Green drink is delicious.

Knitting progress? Of course. I had a snow day. This is definitely NOT a crisp fabric - but it doesn't have to be. It will be comfortable and breezy on hot summer days. And I do think this would make the cutest little dress for a little girl - with maybe a garter stitch bodice and a twirly lacy skirt. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Down Time

Ahhh. This has been a glorious weekend of down time. No phone calls, clean house, an unopened calendar, a fabulous dvd in a red envelope, knitting time, walking time and that indescribable recharging that I find essential. Like Antaeus, the son of the sea god, Poseidon, who was impossible to defeat so long as his feet were touching the earth, I need to have quiet, private, down time here at home on a regular basis or I grow cranky, tense, and unhappy.   

Alas, the older I get, the more I become like my father - and his mother before him. I believe we are the sort with weak batteries and can't go too far from the power source. I love to visit friends and I like my traveling vacations, but east or west, home is truly best for this gal.

Not Your Daughters Jeans Petite - Petite Emma Skirt
There was knitting at TheCastle too - as I cast on 180 stitches of Candle Flame lace on a size 4 needle and did not quite get 5 stitches to the inch. Cotton knitting is just so very different from springy wool knitting. I believe the ball band claims you can expect 5.5 stitches using a #6 needle but that is probably in stockinette stitch and I realize that a lacy stitch will expand. The yarn is very soft, thanks to the bamboo content and the fabric has almost a rayon drape to it. It would make a cute gathered skirt for a little girl ... or a slender woman. I will wear it as a modest tank top with wide shoulder straps - and I am already thinking of pulling out the sewing machine and making myself a cotton skirt to go with it. I like this skirt, but not for $88! I can sew. Love me some color contrast and this tera cotta color just begs for southwestern sunset color partners. 

The weather dot com guys have been teasing us all weekend with the promise of snow, albeit mixed with rain. So far, all we got was the red sky in the morn (all my photos were failures) with the sharp weather front demarcation line somewhere to the east.  They're still hinting that snow will fall around 9 o'clock but I will believe that when I see it. 

And so - as it is Monday - and as there is no snow yet on my lawn - I will go get ready for work. Ta.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I swear I didn't see this

Yes it has been a long time since I've posted. February was a crotchety month for TheQueen. She thinks it is because she didn't have a knitting project to work on - since, as a classic ENFP, she was so close to finishing Brica. Also she was anxious about the annual audit at work. In addition, there is a Castle Renovation project, requiring Compromise between the Royal Couple. Alas. Royal Compromise can also produce royally bad eating habits, creating tight crowns and robes, as TheQueen and her companion make numerous trips to plumbing houses and giant home improvement stores. TheQueen had no idea there were so many lavatory faucets, nor that so many of them were so very ugly. In fact, there had never been a Royal Opinion about lavatory faucets beyond desiring enough clearance to put her Royal Head beneath the spout in order to wash Her Royal Hair. Add all these demands together and you have unavoidable Royal Crotchetiness. At least, that's her story and it's mine too. 

But, to quote Disrali, "Time is the great physician" and with the flip of a calendar page I can turn February into March. My motto for March is "It will be better now".  And you are not to think February was all bad - much of it was a delight as I explored cute animation sites like xtranormal,  visited beloved cousins in Bedford, and learned how to use the eBook  collection at the library

I even ordered some Louisa Harding Jasmine yarn to make a spring top - this after so many surprisingly warm days I couldn't believe there was any winter left. I purchased just a little - enough to make a tank top intending to knit it up in one of those lovely Barbara Walker lacy patterns and last weekend cast on a swatch of this Candle Flames stitch from her first book. (the blue one). I wanted a bit of lace but not enough to require a camisole when wearing. This is for summertime and our summers are

So you can imagine my slightly chagrined surprise when a library patron brought me the latest copy of Interweave Knits - the spring issue - and asked me what I thought of this!

I will tell you - I like it - obviously. It's proof that I have a good eye for design. Right? But ... what do you know - huh.  I thought I was being so creatively clever. And alas, after ordering this closeout color - I am now just hoping I bought enough. I think I'll order some more. It's a particularly nice yarn to knit with  - cotton, bamboo, silk with a little polymide.

And that is what is happening with TheQueen. She (and I) promises to do better this month - because March Will Be Better.