Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Down for the Count

On Friday evening, a wave of physical exhaustion swept over me.  I assumed I was just extra tired and so I tucked into bed early.  Saturday night, after spending much of the day at school for an Open House, I felt the same kind of exhaustion.  Plus, I was really cold.  Again, I thought nothing of it and went to bed.  Sunday dawned and I felt a little tired.  But T and I went grocery shopping anyway.  By mid-day, I was once again exhausted.  By 4, I’d put on my pajamas and taken to the sofa under a heap of blankets watching endless episodes of American Pickers.  I went to bed at 7:30; JT came home and gave me a kiss on the cheek he was so worried.

Monday, I took my feverish self to school to help out with a day of community service.  I felt like death on a cracker and nearly everyone who saw me asked, “are you okay?”  I came home at midday and had a nap and finally admitted the truth: I have the flu.

Today I am home while Old Man Tree gets a complicated trimming from a veritable army of tree trimmers.  I’m drinking endless cups of tea and contemplating the fact that moving from the sofa to the teapot feels like a Herculean task.  It’s been years since I had the flu but let me assure you that it still sucks.  I don’t get sick very often and I am the world’s worst patient, resentful of the fact that I am sick and generally convinced that I’m doomed.  Dr. Google is especially helpful in this regard.  

I highly recommend a flu shot, if you haven’t yet gotten around to it.  Because the flu kinda sucks.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Food Friday: Cinnamon Apples

In New Jersey, diners are located on nearly every corner.  They have huge menus and serve breakfast all day.  In this state, they are an institution.  In the South, that same role is filled by restaurants collectively known as “ a meat and three.”  That means places where you choose what’s on your plate one item at a time.  Your start with a "meat".  The meat choices are usually a long list of options: fried chicken, pork chop, country ham, sugar-cured ham, chicken fried steak, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, pot roast……..you get the idea.

The “vegetables” on the "three" list are usually an enormous collection, only some of which are actually vegetables: corn, grits casserole, cole slaw, turnip greens, green beans, squash, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, carrots, crowder peas, cottage cheese, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes……..and there are always sweet cinnamon apples (also called fried apples).  

Cinnamon apples taste like the inside of an apple pie.  It’s a simple dish of sliced apples, cooked in a smudge of melted butter with brown sugar and cinnamon.  The apples cook down and release their pectin, so the sauce is thick with flecks of cinnamon.  Served warm, they are always delicious.  Leftovers, if you have any, can be served for breakfast with a corn muffin or biscuit, on pancakes, or in oatmeal.

But for supper, they taste like home and fall.  And in our house they taste like your mama loves you.  That’s happy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dogwood Thursday: October 20

Last week we had cool weather.  None of the days had temperatures over 70 and the evenings dropped into the 40s.  My plants came in off the front porch, blankets were added to the beds, windows were shut against the chilly night air.  For its part, the dogwood went to full-on fall foliage.  Nearly all the leaves were showing red by the end of the weekend.

Naturally, warm weather returned this week.  The dogwood seems over-dressed for days in the 80s, but having committed to seasonal change the dogwood is not going back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Counting the Days

The other night, I set out to replenish the cotton squares in my medicine cabinet.  I use one each night to remove my makeup.  Typically, I buy a large bag and then take a dozen or so from the bag and place them in the cabinet for my daily use.  In this way, I keep track of how many I’ve used and, as the supply wanes, make a note to add replacements to my Target shopping list.

On Monday, when I grabbed a new stack of squares I had the idle thought that when these squares were gone, the election would be over, and Donald Trump would no longer be in my daily mental landscape.  

The realization was both thrilling and telling.  Thrilling,, because I long ago grew weary of this man and his hateful, ignorant, and incendiary rhetoric.  To think that he will soon be gone from my daily world is exciting.  And telling, because I had not realized how much his presence in my personal newsfeed had taken its toll on my heart and soul.

Eleven years ago, I began to take note of the passage of time by marking the shrinking piles of things I used in my daily life: cotton squares, dryer sheets, coffee filters…..all were small markers as I looked for time to pass and ease the pain of my broken heart.   It started in a peculiar fashion, in July of 2066, just a few weeks after JT’s other mother had left our family, when I was struggling mightily with an engulfing sadness.  One evening, I used the last coffee filter to set up the coffee pot for my morning coffee and I realized we’d bought those filters together.  Now I would buy filters on my own.  That summer found me marking all the things I would now take care of on my own.  I looked to these mundane items for the healing that the passage of time would provide.  When I’ve run through these 160 dryer sheets, I’d think, it will hurt less.  When these 250 coffee filters have gone, I’d hope, this break up won’t be my first thought each morning when I come awake.

The odd little remedy was a comfort.  Within a year, I was better.  As time marched on, the heartache was less acute.  Eventually, the wound healed.  

Counting out 3 dozen cotton squares and then realizing that when they were gone, the pain that is Donald Trump will have been defeated was surprising.  I hadn’t realized the toll that this election had taken on my subconscious.  But it has taken a toll.  The spite, the ignorance about our democracy, the dismissive attitude toward women, the vindictive rhetoric, the demonizing of decent people, and the hateful language: I am done with it all.  

I want hope.  I want the promise of a nation that works together and moves forward in unity.  I want an appeal to our better angels.  I want to go through my day and neither hear nor read of Donald Trump.

On Monday, when I counted out the cotton squares, it was 22 days until November 8.  As of today, it is 20 days.  We can do this, America.  We can hold on.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Soup Season

The arrival of fall finds us enjoying soup for supper.  To celebrate the season, I will post pictures of the soups we have enjoyed in the past week.  We had black bean soup for supper early last week.  It’s a recipe I’ve been making for years.  It comes together easily and it’s always delicious.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Cats are not supposed to be on the table.  Neither of them cares for my silly rules.

Lucy pleads guilty as charged.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Real Life Conversations with JT: Heads Up edition

The backstory: Commuting in New Jersey is an adventure in crowd control.  The classic New Jersey commute is to drive one set of roads to work and a whole other set of roads to get home.  A t various points in the time I have lived here, I’ve done that.  I’ve been driving the same way home for several years, via local roads instead of the interstate.  Recently, there have been long (and inexplicable) jam ups on a road that used to move quickly.  T has noticed the same thing and recommended that I try the interstate, which I had long ago given up as too jammed with traffic.  We’re tried that route for the last three days and have been rewarded for our effort.  The 10 mile drive home on the local roads had been taking us more than 40 minutes.  The revised route has shaved 20 minutes off the drive.  As JT and I flew down the  highway, we were pleased.  And then JT paid me the ultimate complement in his world.

JT:  In baseball, there is heads up base-running.  But this has been some head’s up driving.  Nice work, Mama.

I’ll take it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dogwood Thursday: October 13

Earlier this week, plants that spot the summer on the front porch came inside for the season.  Warm blankets joined the quilts on our beds.  Evenings in the 40s warranted these changes.  Fall is most certainly in the chilly air in the mornings.  The dogwood is also making preparation for the cold. Some leaves have already blown off its branches.

Others are still in the process of turning a splendid color.

Each morning I greet the dogwood tree from the back window.  Daily I watch for the small changes that confirm fall is in the air.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Real Life Conversations with T: Marketing edition

The backstory:  I am a regular reader of The Pioneer Woman’s website and enjoyed the photos and descriptions of her line of dishes and kitchen goods, available at Walmart.  Normally, Walmart is off limits in my world but I like the dishes so much that I wanted to visit them in stores.  Thus a recent Saturday found T and I making a trip to Walmart.  The Pioneer Woman goods were there, but they were haphazardly displayed, with no effort to present the collection in an appealing fashion.  I found this tiresome.

Me:  If they were at Target, there’d be a tidy and attractive display.  Walmart just jams the stuff on some shelves and calls it good.

T:  That’s the Walmart way.  Their approach is simple.  They tell us, “We have shoddy and cheap goods.  You know that you love it.  Now get your ass in here and buy stuff.”

At that I burst into laughter.  When I settled, T had one more thought.

T:  It’s a wonder I don’t work in  marketing.

A wonder indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

End of the Season

For most of the summer, a collection of my plants spends the season outdoors on the front porch. Before I tucked under my quilt last night, I checked the overnight forecast, saw that it called for an overnight temperature of 40 degrees and brought in the last of the front porch plants.  There is evidence of seasonal change everywhere I look.  The garden's collections of zinnias came up nicely and now it looks like those buds are racing to show off their blooms.   

It was 38 degrees when I got up this morning; the first frost is around the corner.  Knowing this, I am happy about each bouquet that I collect.

They remind me of the virtue of patience and their presence makes my house cheerful.