Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peony Days

A few years ago, T and JT gave me a peony for Mother’s Day.  I’ve always wanted a peony plant and it’s lovely to have one so enthusiastic about blooming.  On busy May mornings as I walk to the car for a long day, I stop to check out the plant.  Last week, the showy buds were getting ready.

This week, things are coming along quite nicely; there are peony flowers in my future.

That’s happy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Garden Ready

I planted some zinnias seeds and tomato plants two weeks ago and this past Saturday the rest of my summer garden got planted.  The plant store on the Friday night of Memorial Day weekend was surprisingly quiet and I rolled my cart through the aisles filled with happy thoughts of the blooms and fresh produce in my future.  A nice collection of plants came home with me.

The backyard garden is now planted, awaiting sunlight and warm temperatures.  There is a lot of cleanup and weeding still to be done and I may put a few more seeds in the ground.  But zinnia seedlings are well on their way, tomato plants are in cages, and the growing season has begun.

The front yard got some trimming and the front porch got a few more pots of flowers.  Indoor plants have come outside for the summer.

Extra warm temperatures are forecast for this week.  Soon enough, I will be picking the things that I have grown. That is most happy.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Real Life Texts with KO: Infectious Disease edition

The backstory:  Not for the first time, my sister and I had an exchange about our favorite brand of underwear.

Me:  Today’s troubling news…Nordstrom undies are no longer called Shimera.  Now brand is just Nordstrom.  I cannot approve though I did enjoy the sale price on a color that wasn’t hideous. Half woot.

KO:  They can call them whatever they want as long as they don’t call them discontinued.  Maybe someone finally tipped them off that Shimera sounds like a disease?

My shimera has been under control for years, thank you.  The undies can be found here and seriously, they are worth every penny.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Since I switched jobs, I am on a 12-month contract.  Though there is still plenty of time off, I don’t have the three months of summer vacation that I enjoyed as a teacher.  That is not to say that summer is all work and no play.  In fact, summer days at a school without students is an easy pace.  Though my to-do list is rather long, I get a lot of things done a great deal more quickly.  

The work day is shorter, no work comes home for the evenings or weekends, and I take days (even weeks) off.  But the loss of 3 months of seemingly endless time that was summer vacation meant making a transition in my own thinking.  Rather than assume relaxation would just happen, I make intentional time for it.   The month of May is filled with the expectant spirit of a well-earned break in the offing.

Life outdoors and my cheerful front porch is the center of summer relaxation for me.  For my summer schedule, I’ve established a morning tradition of sitting on the front porch reading a book while I enjoy my first cup of coffee.  The porch becomes a sanctuary on summer mornings and in May I plant the flowers and clean the porch so that it is fresh and welcoming for the summer that lies ahead.

I enjoy getting the porch ready for summer and it provides two benefits in the busy month of May.  First, I get some time outside to plant flowers and otherwise embrace nature.  There will be plenty of that in the summer as well, but after a long winter and in the midst of the frenetic pace of the end of the school year, the time outside is a pleasure.  The second benefit of my summer preparation is a reminder to live in the moment.  May is beautiful around here and it’s good to stop and enjoy its blooms and blessings.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Real Life Conversations with JT: Common Sense edition

The backstory:  Growing up in California, my awareness of electric storms was pretty minimal.  As it turns out, it really doesn’t ever rain in California and it wasn’t until I moved to Tennessee that I learned the basic rules of thunder and lightening.  I next made my home in Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of tornado alley, and the rules of storms get meaning real quick in a place like that.  New Jersey has electrical storms, but not as often as Tennessee and Nebraska.  My prairie-born boy hasn’t been paying attention to the rules, as T and I learned on Saturday evening, when he came in from the outdoors and made an announcement.

JT:  There is a storm outside. 

Me:  It does look rather ominous.

JT and and T then looked out the windows at the darkening skies.  

JT:  I think that there was thunder or lightening.  Whichever one is silent; I saw that a few times.

Me:  Well, that’s the one that should bring you inside son, so good call on that.  

Then T explained to him that electric storms should bring a boy inside and tornado warnings should get him to the basement.  And T and I congratulated ourselves on keeping him alive this long.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Real Life Conversations at School: Laugh More Often edition

The backstory:  My 7th graders are creating American history-themed amusement parks as their final class project.  By necessity, this means discussions of their favorite amusement park rides.  Student G has even greater ambitions.

G:  You can rent all of Hurricane Harbor (a local water park) for yourself and I’d like to do that some day.

S:  For yourself?  Wouldn’t that be….(and here I pause to consider my word choice…..I’m thinking of lonely or overwhelming or quiet or something but G quickly filled the gap).

G:  Awesome?

At which point I burst into laughter and the startled class started laughing along with me.  When we caught our breath R said, “You’ve never laughed like that before.”  I think that I laugh like that all the time but now I’ve made a mental note: laugh more often with the 7th grade.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Harbingers and Heralds

If JT and I were plants, the seed catalog would note that we are cold hearty, heat intolerant, and moisture loving.  Nowhere is this more clear than when it comes time to sleep.  We both like to sleep in cool rooms.  In the winter, I set the furnace to 56 overnight and we sleep in beds heaped with soft sheets, warm blankets, and heavy down comforters.  The cold is why we enjoy the heavy bedding and JT is always happy to see his down comforter come out.  It’s the teenage equivalent of a blankie.

As weather warms, the time comes to pack away the down comforters and duvets and we convert to quilts.  This transition is something of a betrayal in JT’s mind, because he much prefers snuggling under heavy bedding.  The consolation for lighter bedding is sleeping with the windows open, something we both enjoy.

Waking to the sounds of chirping birds with the early sunrise and light of summer coming on is one of the best parts of Spring.  I love the longer days and sunlight which make me feel as if there is endless time to accomplish the many tasks at hand.  In the frenetic pace of May, the sound of birds in the morning is a peaceful and happy way to start the day.

And the quilts that JT isn’t so happy to see?  I remind him that those are the signal of a summer vacation that will begin in just a few weeks.  This year, after three seasons of athletic practice and the best effort he’s ever made at school, that quilt is a mark of a well-earned break tantalizingly close at hand.

That’s happy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sign of Our Continuing Decline

T and I found these giant marshmallows at the grocery last week, under a sign that read For Today’s overeaters.”

Perhaps I over-exaggerate the sign, but you get the idea.  We think these can be used by Bigfoot to make delicious smores.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Real Life Conversations with T: Paterson edition

The backstory: T and I like to visit National Park sites and check out the historical displays.  This past weekend, we rolled on over to one of the newest National Parks, the Paterson Great Falls National Park in Paterson, New Jersey, established in 2011  When Paterson was first founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1792, it was the nation’s first planned industrial city.  Paterson would go on to become a prosperous town and early site of the 19th century American Industrial Revolution.  In Paterson, the Labor movement got its start, including an 1835 textile worker’s strike that reduced children’s workdays from 13 and 1/2 to 11 hours (!).  Industrial prosperity took the town through the 1940s; Paterson has long been a town of immigrant opportunity.  These days, Paterson is struggling with some substantial poverty and that’s clear throughout the site of the fledgling national park.  On our way out of town I saw a restaurant entitled, “Pappi’s Texas Weiner.”

Me:  Pappi’s Texas Weiner?  What is the deal with Texas Weiner places in New Jersey? (note: the phrase “Texas Weiner” is popular in the state for reasons wholly unknown to me).

Me (now ranting):  And “Pappi’s”?  There is no way I am eating in a place called Pappi’s.  It just sounds sketchy.

T:  I would have thought that the phrase Texas Weiner is the bigger problem.  Though Pappi’s does sound like there will be a molestation in the bathroom.

We opted for supper elsewhere and laughed about Pappi’s for the rest of the day.  We’re gonna get struck by lightening some day, and it’s a fate we richly deserve.  But at least we’ll be together when it happens.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother’s Day

We celebrated Mother’s Day early and last weekend found me admiring flowers and selecting some for my front porch, a tradition begun with T that I very much enjoy.

T sees to it that the day we choose to celebrate is special for me and I appreciate that.  Being able to share both the joys and burdens of motherhood with her makes my world both happier and easier to manage.  A trip to the flower store makes that even nicer.  Now my porch is shaping up for the summer, with impatiens and begonias in bright colors.

I have two hanging pots of double begonias.

Soon enough, I’ll be enjoying hours of leisurely reads on the front porch.  That’s happy!