Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School Meeting

Last year, I decided that I wanted to hear some different announcements at the back-to-school faculty meeting.  Today, as I head to the annual school start-up meeting with the expectation that people will share news of weddings, anniversaries, and impending births, I proudly offer up some of the alternatives I will be longing hear as the meeting begins.

Yes, this is a Walter Mitty fantasy but here's what I'm hoping for……

"This summer, my girlfriend and I finally qualified for conjugal visits at the prison."

Perhaps, related to that announcement………..

"I got laid so often this summer that I'm still sore."

And how about this twist on the impending birth news?

"The DNA test revealed that I'm not the father."

Maybe folks want to share word of their summer vacation?

"I had a close encounter and now I do believe in Big Foot."

Or some long-term health concerns:

"After a few years of trying, I think that I finally have my herpes under control."

And, in the spirit of keeping things current, how about this?

"When the house burned down, we finally got rid of the bed bugs."

I'm hoping to soon make this announcement:

"I finally caught that damned possum in my garden and I'm hosting a bar-b-que on Friday night."

Chances are it won't shake out quite this way.  But a girl can dream.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Update

Greetings from the other side of Hurricane Irene.  We survived the storm quite nicely, though the power went out about 30 minutes after my last live-blog update on Sunday morning and it remains out as of this writing.  Last night, we retreated up north to my friend T's house where we enjoyed electricity, laundry facilities, and a hot shower.  As soon as the power comes back on, I intend to pump out the basement, which is currently under 4 inches of water.  Once the appliances dry out, I'll see how much damage I sustained.

In the meantime, other than a lot of downed tree branches (and the afore-mentioned lack of power), things are fine at Sassafras House, if a little soggy.  I'll take it.

Full report (and photos!) after I get the electricity back.  In the meantime, I know there are people who had worse damage than I did and I'm feeling grateful for our blessings.  Add to that good friends and a sense of humor, and we're doing just fine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Live Blogging the Hurricane

3:07 am
Woke up.....heard town siren, but not a call for tornado (though there are tornadoes south of here).  Basement was dry at 1:05 but is taking on water now.  Still have electricity.  Wind and rain is steady.

1:05 am
Gonna grab some shut eye for a bit.  Back up in the early dawn hours with updates....providing we still have electricity.  Go easy on us, Miss Irene. Please.

12:43 am
And it's official: The Weather Channel just jumped the shark, interviewing teenage girls at Asbury Park....talking about previous storms. So, yeah, that was informative.

12:22 am
Just had a rather blinkety moment with the lights. As wind gusts continue it seems likely that the electricity will take a holiday.  Though so far we're hanging in.

11:47 pm
The wind has picked up and the rain is still falling hard and heavy.  Boy asleep.  Pets nervous.  Grown ups hanging tough.

9:30 pm
For the record, the tornado watches are so not adding to the fun.

8:20 pm
Basement remains dry but now the rain is coming in a steady downpour.  There's wind but not of the gale force variety......yet, I assume.  Electricity is still with us.  So we're holding steady.

6:22 pm
Rain continues to fall steadily; windy. We've begun hourly basement checks. In the meantime, we're planning supper of chicken tacos and National Treasure. That doesn't suck.

4:44 pm
Steady, heavy rain has begun to fall.   But worse than that, we've had our first casualty of the hurricane: the toilet set is cracked. Strictly speaking, it may not be hurricane damage. But that's where blame is being assigned.

Unless Tiger and Lucy step up.

Damnit, Irene. Is nothing sacred?

3:15 pm
T won round II of Clue, so that game has been retired.

Just turned on the Weather (Panic) Channel. Where exactly do they find people to stand out on the pier during a hurricane?  Unsettling.

Very light rain here.  Wind picking up.

2:22 pm
A few bits of rain (though nothing substantial....yet). Some east wind has picked up, but still quite faint.  We've no choice but to eat lunch and play Clue.

Update: T won the first round.  

11:20 am
All of outdoors secured.  Cars backed into driveway between houses, as far away from trees as possible. Rain was short-lived.  Humidity seems to be approximately 110%.  Unexpected side-effect of Irene: mosquitoes in full-on swarm attack mode.  That rates below average.

10:38 am
A light rain has begun.  We're headed outside to put away the grill (it was used for burgers last night). 

The Hatches, They are Battened

So, yeah: Hurricane.

We've stocked up on supplies.
We've cleared off the back deck so that heavy things won't be thrown through the windows.
We've encouraged Old Man Tree to stay the course.
I'm not going to say bring it on because I'm not that sassy (shocking, no?).  But our emergency supplies are organized for in-house camping and we're as prepared as we can be.  For as long as I have electricity, I'll live-blog as the storm unfolds.

See y'all on the other side.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We're all Volunteers Now

I lived in Tennessee in the early 1990s and like any semi-conscious person in the state, began to watch some women's basketball.  The state was an epicenter for the sport; the one place in the nation where girls' games were held during prime gym time.  A state where women's games - at all levels - were played in gyms full of cheering fans.  There was one outstanding reason for that fact and her name is Pat Summitt, the longtime coach of the Lady Volunteers.

Women's basketball, and the girls who play it, flourished as a result of Summitt's enthusiastic support of the sport.  Her teams won championships but, more important than that, the players served as ambassadors for a world of gender equality in sport.  And beyond that, Summitt's players symbolized the value of hard-work, perseverance, and love of the game.  The Lady Volunteers earned academic honors and won games; they were role models for other accomplished young women.  They did their coach proud.

And Coach Summit was the center of it all: a woman respected, loved, and admired.  Though I left Tennessee in 1994, I still cheer for her teams.  My son proudly wears a Lady Vols t-shirt on game day.  His favorite athlete of all-time is a former Summitt player, Candace Parker.  That's fitting, and a development that Summitt, also the mother of one son, would surely approve of. 

It was with a heavy heart that I heard of Summitt's diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's.  But, as this fine Washington Post article indicates, Summitt's determination to manage the unexpected development proves that she's got at least one more legacy to bequeath the young women she coaches and Volunteer fans everywhere: the dignity of a life well-lived.

Thank you, Coach Summitt.  I'll be cheering a little more loudly in the seasons that lie ahead.  We're all Volunteers now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh, New Jersey

A few months ago, I noticed this sign, conveniently located near the train tracks that head south through my fair town.
New Jersey has a lot to answer for (what? have you ever driven a car in this state?) and it's not clear to me that the Garden State needed to add low-rent divorce to the list.  But I seem to be the only person around here worried about the state's karma.

Oh, New Jersey.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Else?

At the Burpee Garden tour, we had the opportunity to see bunches and bunches of sunflowers, many of them new varietals that Burpee is developing for future sale.  These were some pretty awesome sunflowers, at least one the tallest sunflower I've ever seen.
Bunches of sunflowers in the Secret Garden were also poised to grow quite tall.
The leaves were gigantic.
All of the sample sunflowers were impressive to behold.
I know for sure that there will be some Burpee sunflowers in my garden next year.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Burpee Gardens

For as long as I can remember, the Burpee Garden seed catalog has come to my home.  It's an inheritance from my dad, who loves himself some Burpee seeds.  For two days each year, the Burpee folks open their Doylestown, Pennsylvania test gardens to the public.  Friday, my friend T and I made the trip to annual Fall Harvest days for some pretty awesome garden envy.
We got to see the Hope Garden, which featured prairie grasses and was a lovely place for a walk.
And we had a look at one of the test gardens (Burpee calls it the Secret Garden, which I found charming).
The meadow behind the original Burpee house is a sight to behold.
Though the Burpee Company is devoted to seeds as well as perennial flower plants, their Doylestown, Pennsylvania garden has also been a place where they cultivate trees.
I have a garden each year and I put Burpee seeds in the ground for many of my plants.   I've had a bit of a challenging garden season (talking to you, possum-in-my-yard), so I walked through the Burpee paths, I had some pretty serious garden envy.  For example, I love these lush tomato plants.
Those peppers look pretty delicious.
The Burpee squash looks tasty.
My water-conscious dad would approve of this method of drip irrigation, in use at the Burpee raised beds.
Next year, I will try some bean poles like these (there were also some bamboo options, which I forgot to make a picture of).
I wish my zinnias had been this impressive.
I got plenty of ideas for next year's garden, a reminder that gardening is about patience and reward, and had a very nice day.
That's happy.  What else?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Composition Book

Each August, I acquire a new composition book to start the school year.  I use it for notes, ideas, and the endless lists I like to make.  I like a decorated one and usually I buy one from Etsy.  But this year, I decorated my own.
I'm pleased with how it turned out.  If only the rest of the school year could be this easy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today, a friend of mine referred to something as like "a picture of a leprechaun riding a unicorn."  I don't know about y'all, but that phrase is going to make me laugh for quite some time.

Carry on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What He Said

I am fond of making jokes at the expense of sensible midwesterners.  In fact, I like to believe that I've turned it into something of an art form.  But the facts demonstrate that our nation could use a little more common sense in the conduct of our politics.  So it is that I am directing y'all to read the wisdom of the sage of the prairie, Warren Buffet.

He's talking to you, Tea Party. Time to listen up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Household Happiness: Chicken Dinner Sign

There is a tin chicken dinner sign that hangs in my kitchen for a good reason: I make a fine fried chicken dinner.  The sign was a gift from an old friend and it's been hanging in my kitchen since I moved to New Jersey, nine years ago this month.

The sign is both a reminder of fried chicken suppers past and (JT dearly hopes!) fried chicken suppers in the future.  In that, it's a happy reminder of where I've been and where I'm going.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


My friend T turned me on to these bunny staffed movie re-makes.   Fact: bunny ears makes everything funnier.

Each re-make is 30 seconds long.  In your lifetime you've wasted far more time on the internet than hop on over.  You can thank me later.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Real Life Conversations with JT: Eat Your Veggies edition

The backstory: JT often likes to play restaurant critic, usually at the supper table, and invariably to criticize some sort of food option that he feels is unwarranted (say the offering of fruit or veggies for his consumption).  On Thursday, he had a hot dog for supper.  It came with a bowl of fresh Jersey peaches, sliced for his easy consumption.  The food critic in him was not impressed.

JT:  This meal would be far better of it came with potato chips.

Mama:  Oh?

JT:  Yes, potato chips are perfect with hot dogs.

Mama:  I think you need to eat more fruits and veggies, not less.  I think that we should get rid of the hot dog and you can have some roasted zucchini to go with those tasty peaches.

On second thought, this meal is just perfect, Mama.

Good save, kid.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food Friday: Roasted Bruschetta Zucchini

It's August, which means plenty of fresh zucchini, tomato, and basil are available for the picking.  In honor of that, I organized this recipe to take advantage of the garden abundance.  It will serve two people but can be easily doubled (or tripled!), depending on your need.

1 zucchini, split and seeded
1/2 tomato, finely chopped and seeded
12 leaves of fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 slices provolone
salt & pepper
olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and brush with olive oil.  Place the split zucchini on the sheet and salt and pepper the squash.
Mix chopped tomato, minced garlic, and a sprinkle or two of salt.
 Stack up the fresh basil leaves, chop it in strips, and stir it in to the tomato mixture.

Scoop tomato basil mixture down the center of the zucchini.  Roast for 15 minutes, until zucchini is tender.
Remove from oven and place provolone slices on top of tomato,  Return to the oven and roast until provolone melts and browns.
Summer sure is yummy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Among my most cherished childhood memories are the times my parents brought my sister and me to Yosemite.  I grew up in a town less than two hours from the gate to the park entrance; we visited often.  We came to the park so often that view from the first lookout after the tunnel on Highway 41 is forever in my memory.   And the smell of Yosemite is as familiar today as it was when I was a little girl.  Even so, it was nice to see that the view (albeit a bit hazy from a controlled burn in the park) is as timeless as ever.
Yosemite was on my agenda for this year's trip to California.  I hadn't been in years; JT had never seen the park. So Monday, KO loaded up the fun bus with a picnic and we set off on a family trip.  After years of some very dry summers,  this August the forest remains lush and the waterfalls are still impressive.
Here is an up close shot of Bridalveil Falls.  We could feel the mist from the falls on our face as we walked up to the base of the falls. 
Pictured here is Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the United States.
My sister got married in the chapel below. 
The view from the front step of the chapel is amazing.
I've made countless pictures in the park, but none are as pleasing to me as this photo of JT, his cousins, and the folks who introduced me to Yosemite so many years ago.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Baby Bear

So we were in Yosemite yesterday (more on that later).  There were plenty of warnings about bears.
And there was even a toddler bear to go with the warnings.
Good thing we never saw the mama bear.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


JT and his cousin S have adopted a two peas in a pod approach to their week together.
It seems to be working quite nicely.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The 1970s Called My Sister…..

 ……and they want their flowers back.
Did KO score these from some 1970s-era closet at my mother's house?  No one around here is talking.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Pretty Packages

Earlier this week, I had occasion to wrap up some packages filled with small treats.  I was rather pleased with the way they turned out.
That's happy.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Deer Daycare

Last weekend, I spent some time with my friend T, who lives in the woods at the Delaware Water Gap.  This part of New Jersey is unbelievably beautiful, with deep, green forests, blue skies, and hills high enough to see the horizon.  At night, there's enough darkness to see the stars in full display.  I saw Orion, and the Big Dipper.  I saw the Milky Way and counted at least two falling stars.  But the skies weren't the only thing I found enchanting.  In the open grass across the lane from her house is a large green verge where the local deer Mamas encourage their fawns to graze.  T calls it Deer Day Care and I can see why.
This set wasn't the least troubled by our presence in the yard.  They just happily munched as we enjoyed the woods together.
Luckily for me, the deer weren't interested in the wild wineberries growing along the drive.
And, sure I know that the deer population in the Garden State is out of control.  But, golly, they are so cute. So I plan to overlook it and just admire deer o'clock in the big woods.