Sunday, March 18, 2018

Focus on the Not Normal

It’s nearly impossible to keep pace with the insane political developments  coming out of the Trump White House.  It’s tempting to shout about all of it; all of it is horrifying.  I’ve certainly been guilty of that.  It’s tempting to throw up your hands and laugh hysterically about some of it, and I certainly have been guilty of that as well.  But I’ve come to believe that we need to separate the wheat from the chaff and focus on the Trump actions and developments that are not normal.  

For one thing, some of these developments are a real and genuine threat to our republic and our national interest.  For another, these not normal events are becoming more frequent and to the degree that we do not intervene or criticize them, we are at risk for a republic that will collapse.  

The not normal list is long and getting longer:

- The lies, even about matters on which there is clear evidence.  Not normal.

- A president refusing to release his tax returns. Not normal.

- A president treating the office as a chance to line the pockets of his business interests.  Not normal.

- Presidential family members who have neither been vetted nor received security clearance serving in vital positions, with access to secure information. Not normal.

- Foreign interference in our elections, elections which are the cornerstone of a representative democracy, and a party in control of the White House and Congress absolutely refusing to take action. Not normal.

- A president who makes broad policy pronouncements without consultation with experts or even his advisors or Cabinet members, idiots though some of them are  —— most recently, protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum announced via an all-caps press release and a series of tweets celebrating the ease of winning a trade war.  Not normal.

- The persistent name-calling as a political tool.  Not normal.

- It’s one thing to disagree with the free press but Trump is actively working to create distrust of the press.  Fake news, alternative facts… it what you will.   This behavior is a threat to the republic.  Not normal.

- On the same note, Trump’s persistent efforts to discredit American institutions without any facts to support his claims of bias or ineptitude….the Courts, the FBI, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Not normal.

Democrats understand the threats this president has created but they cannot stop Trump on their own.  The future of the republic demands leadership against Trump from a few principled Republicans.  Working together, Democrats and Republicans can place our nation back on firm footing.  But the clock is ticking and though I am typically a political optimist, I fear we are close to the point of permanent and lasting damage to our republic.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Real Life Conversations with JT: Good Thing I am Amused edition

The backstory:  JT has embraced the Spring of his Senior year with a vengeance and is increasingly annoyed when there is schoolwork to be done, as if this is a gravely unreasonable expectation.  He announced an assignment in his European History course and then asked for my help with the project for the time period he and his partner had selected.  Naturally, all of this exchange occurred by text message.

JT:  Time period for Euro project is 1850-1894.  Age of Nationalism and Realism and Age of Progress.  I’ll e-mail you the instructions.

Me:  Great time period.  I look forward to the details.

A few hours passed during which I received and read the assignment, dealt with my son's suggestion that I wouldn't be able to help (note: I majored in History in college and have taught it for more than 20 years) and then I had an idea.

Me:  I think you should do a project on the unification of Italy and Germany.

JT:  Took the words right out of my mouth.

Careful readers know this is exactly the kind of sass I deserve.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Beware the Ides of Sassafras

Last weekend, we turned our clocks forward and, in my mind, that should signal the start of Spring.  I long for the ease of warmer days.  Uncharacteristically, I’m not even looking to be unreasonable here; I’ll settle for temps in the 50s and a little sunshine.  All told, I’ve reached the point in March where I am over Winter.  As is so often the case, however, Winter isn’t quite over us.  I carry on in the chill, increasingly resentful of the need to wrestle with Winter coats, gloves, and scarves.  And don’t get me started on dealing with Winter tights… You’ve served your purpose, Winter, and I appreciate all that you do.  But it is time for you to go.

The time change and consequent sunlight that lasts into the early evening has been a nice tonic for my Winter malaise, though I still feel like Mother Nature is involved in a scheme to test my patience.  My Spring Break begins this Friday, and though temperatures aren’t expected to rise above 40 degrees and there is snow in the forecast for the first week of break, I am thinking of declaring the start of Spring and dressing accordingly.  If I can’t have the actual beauty of the season, I can at least pretend. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: March 13

On Friday afternoon, we’ll start Spring Break.  JT has been counting down the days and I’ll admit that I am also looking forward to a few unscheduled weeks.  In the back of my mind, I believe that Spring Break will bring Spring temperatures, though the forecast is not at all cooperative with this desire.  There may be snow on the ground but the amaryllis is looking prepared to oblige my daydreams of Spring blooms.

Some morning soon I will come downstairs to a flower.  

That’s happy!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Witch Hazel

There was a snowstorm this week, a rather major event that brought us more than a foot of snow.  School was cancelled, which JT celebrated as if he’d never be expected to return to class.

I enjoyed sleeping in and our cozy days but it is March and I am ready for Spring.  While we shoveled ourselves out from the storm, I couldn’t help but think about the previous Sunday  That day was sunny and T and I set out for a walk to leave some nuts and peanut butter pine cones for the wildlife along the D & R Canal.  Here and there, when we looked closely, we saw tiny signs of a green Spring.  Most of the blooms will take several more weeks to arrive so the witch hazel in bloom was particularly lovely.

Clocks spring forward tonight; each day brings a little more sunlight.  I’m looking forward to Spring and as I wait for the snow to melt and reveal blooms, I will admire the witch hazel and the promise it brings.  

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Snow Days

On the heels of JT and I declaring our own "snow day" last Friday, Mother Nature revealed a certain amount of envy.  A few days later, she sent a Nor’easter that buried New Jersey in snow and bought us two days off from school, yesterday and today.  The day of the expected storm dawned cold, but not frigid, with a temperature just above freezing.  For the the first half of the day, there were cloudy skies and a light rain, but little signs of the massive storm being forecast.   Just when I began to give up the forecast as a bust, the light rain converted to giant, wet, snowflakes.  

Soon after, accumulation began.  By the time the snow had ended, we had more than a foot of heavy, deep, wet snow.  Just after 4pm on the day of the storm, JT and I headed outside to clear a path to the driveway.  We shoveled out to the road but the snow fell as fast as we could shovel and all around us we could hear the cracking noise of tree branches falling.  In our backyard, Old Man tree lost branches.  As darkness descended and the storm would down, the frightening sounds of the branches cracking began to fade, replaced by the noise of plows making their way through town, pushing the snow to the edge of the road (and packing in everyone's driveways).  We got the call we'd be off from school for a second day and I was grateful. 

Thursday dawned sunny, clouds blew past in the morning and melting continued apace, with temps in the 40s.  JT and I went outside to shovel out our cars and move the broken tree limbs to the driveway.  The snow was heavy and it took us about an hour working together to clear the sidewalks and driveway.  By the time we were done, the roads had dried.

This is the second year in a row we've had a March snow of the deep and heavy variety. Our shovels are pretty worn out and we'll need new ones for next year.  It's also clear that I will need a heavy-duty snow blower to replace this kid.

Overdue, Lost, & Now Remembered: On Overlooked Women

I didn’t learn to read until I was 8 years old and in the third grade.  As if I understood that I was a late-bloomer, I embraced books from then on, reading all the time.  I read on the school bus, during recess and lunch, secretly in class when I should have been doing math, walking home from school, floating on an air mattress in the pool, stretched out on the sofa, and in bed by the street light at night.  I read as if to make up for lost time.  I can remember looking at the stacks and stacks of books in the library and thinking with a shivering joy of the books yet to be read. 

I was thrilled on the day that I found a uniform collection of historical American biographies in the Weldon Elementary School Library.  I stood in front of the rows of books and gloried in the happy hours of reading ahead of me.  And then I read about these Americans, in alphabetical order, so that I wouldn’t forget a single one.  From John Adams to Daniel Webster and every person in between, I devoured these books over a two year period, fearful that I wouldn’t finish before I completed 6th grade.  I read quickly and only slowed my pace when the biography was about a woman.

There weren’t very many and they were mostly 20th century women —- Babe Didrikson, Amelia Earhart, and Eleanor Roosevelt stand out in my mind today.  I remember that the Harriet Tubman volume was thin, leaving me many unanswered questions.  For every woman featured in these 1970s-era books, there were more than 10 men.  I know because I counted and felt the unfairness of it.  I felt then that there were women in our past who had done amazing things that I would never learn about.  Now, 40 years later, I realize that for all the stories told there are countless women who never even got the chance to be great.

I thought of all of this when I opened the New York Times this morning to find that they would be writing obituaries for the women they have overlooked in the past 160 years.  It's a fitting choice for International Women's Day, a treat I would have loved as a girl.  I devoured the first 15 stories, grateful for a snow day that permitted the indulgence.  The NYT has promised to tell more women’s stories and I will watch carefully so I don’t miss a single one.  I will direct the children I teach, girls and boys, to these stories.  I will be grateful for amazing women now being remembered.  But I will still wonder at the talents lost to a time when women were always marginalized and excluded.  I will miss what they would have accomplished.  And I will re-double my efforts to ensure it doesn’t continue to happen.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: March 6

Every day, the amaryllis stem grows taller and it’s clear that a flower is on its way.  The progress marches us ever-closer to Spring.

Spring, with blooms, new green leaves, lush grass, and mild breezes.  That’s a lot for one small bulb to promise.  But the promise is there and closer every day.

That's happy!

Monday, March 05, 2018

All Bunnies, All the Time

Unrestrained, I’m the sort of women who would likely devote an entire room of her home to her collection of something childish.  At this point, the only thing stopping me is a sense that I don’t want to be known as fully insane added to genuine uncertainty about what would be in the collection…..dolls? stuffed animals?  cats? bunnies?  At this point, it’s only indecision that helps me to hold the line.

But I have a soft spot for bunny rabbits and there are quite a few in my world.  It started with this collection of carved wooden bunnies that I acquired when I lived in Nebraska.  I set them out for the month of Easter and still remember when toddler JT would grab one and jam it in his pocket to admire.  

I have an assortment of bunny prints from various Etsy shops.  

Each season, I swap out the one that hangs in my dining room.  For the next few months, these bunnies will cheerfully dance their Springtime celebration.

I have a bunny sculpture.  Or two.

There are bunnies on the front porch, known to me as Flopsy and Mopsy. I am naming inanimate objects....that fact alone should be a warning sign.

There are bunnies in my office, on both the Racey Helps postcards T has given me (and there are a dozen more where these came from) as well as these prints given to me by my friend TO.

Soon enough, there will be backyard bunnies eating their way through my yard, and likely taking a snack from my garden.  I’ll bemoan them when they eat my carrots but most of the time I will be utterly enchanted by them.  Bunnies are cute, they signal the coming of Spring, and otherwise charm me all year around, but especially now as I await the next season with barely contained anticipation.  That’s happy!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

March Front Porch

There is a point in February when I grow weary of Winter and eagerly look for evidence of its demise.  This year, the arrival of Easter items in the craft store was that moment when I first began to daydream about warmer, easier days.  For Valentine’s Day, T gave me some Easter items for the front porch.  From then on I was planning the March porch.  My brain knows that there are several more cold weeks to endure but my heart announces Spring on the first day of March.  This year, the month will be filled with Easter bunnies, baskets, eggs, and flowers..  There is an egg wreath on the front door.

And a bunny flag to welcome the lengthening sunlight in our days.

On the table, there’s an Easter basket with speckled eggs and some silk flowers to brighten the day.  Flopsy the iron bunny is there, joined by a new rustic bunny who goes by the name Mopsy.

I was all ready to set things out on March 1.  Then a cold and rainy Nor’easter blew in with three inches of rain and plenty of wind.  Saturday arrived with clearer skies and sunshine and, in the afternoon, as the wind faded, there was time to set out the porch.   March came in like its proverbial lion and the forecast promises more stormy cold in the coming week.  As I wait for some warmth and blooms, my porch will greet me with Spring’s promise.  That’s happy!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Nor’easter Day

At some point in December, JT and I reminisced about snow days from our past, days when school was closed because of snow and we were home together as the storm passed through.  There was sleeping in, card games and TV watching in those days.  We’d play in the snow, JT always lasting longer than me because someone had to go inside and start the hot cocoa.  At night, we’d go for walks in the snowy darkness, to listen to the quiet and celebrate the found time.  Early this Winter, we looked forward to a few last snow days in this, his Senior year.

Mother Nature never cooperated.  Though we had plenty of cold and some snowy weekends, there was never enough weekday snow to give us the day off.  As January transitioned into February, JT and I began to fear we’d not have our last snow day.  We were loathe to give up the transition and so we declared today our very own snow day.

There was a rainy, windy, and wet Nor’easter, but this one didn’t bring snow.  We slept in, went out to lunch, and watched Netflix.  We enjoyed one another’s company and laughed a lot.  I lived in the moment, because that’s what I need to do these days.  The moments were fun and that’s happy!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

March 1: Garden Hostas

In the third week of February we had two days of unusual warmth, with temperatures over 70s.  JT and I nearly lost our minds soaking it up.  Then it was gone, replaced by days and days of chilly rains.  But that warmth and the rains that followed set off a chain reaction all over my garden.  The grass is beginning to turn brighter and there are shoots of green everywhere. In my excitement when I discovered the small green shoots, I thought I saw the start of my hostas.  I nearly lost my mind with excitement.

It turns out that wasn’t hostas, a fact I realized when I went outside in the cold to make pictures and looked more closely.  But I did see the daffodil and tulip bulb growth that signals the start of the a warmer season.  These bulbs are planted all around the hosta beds.

The hostas are still quietly underground but they are gearing up for Spring and this weekend's Nor’easter rains will provide some rain to help things out.

I see you, Spring.

That’s happy!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Book Report: “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

As both a founder, philosopher, and thinker, I find the ideas of Thomas Jefferson fascinating.  I also enjoy scholarship about him.  He’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but many of his works are as timely today as when he first wrote them and as an archetype of what it means (or meant?) to be American, my interest in Jefferson is abiding.  Each year, I teach my 7th graders about Jeffersonian America.  When I do that, I find time to read a new book about Jefferson.  This year’s read was a joint project of two of the most pre-eminent Jefferson thinkers in the United States: Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf.

The first half of the book’s title, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”, is taken from a phrase Jefferson used to describe himself in a letter written to a friend in 1793.  On the one hand, its an odd choice for a man whose faith in republicanism seemed a rebuke of the elitism of patriarchy.  On the other hand, at his beloved home, Jefferson was very much the patriarch, as father and overseer of an estate and its population, both enslaved and free.  That Jefferson loved his home at Monticello is a well-known fact; this book makes clear how much Jefferson’s affection for home was about how he saw himself in the world. 

The book uses Jefferson’s writings, journals, and letters to situate the man in his world.  Traveling with him from Monticello to Paris and Philadelphia, and then back to Virginia, the reader sees Jefferson at home two lights.  The first, as Jefferson himself preferred, as a largely benevolent patriarch of his own family.  It also tells the considerably more complicated story of Jefferson as patriarch of the people he holds in slavery, including the Hemings family.  

I found the book engaging and thoughtful, both in its thoughtful analysis and in its careful use of details as provided in Jefferson’s letters and journals.  I learned more than I had ever known before of Jefferson’s affection for music.  He was a violinist himself and sang duets with his wife Martha while courting her.  He ensured his daughters had piano lessons and arranged for some of his sons by Sally Hemings to learn the violin.  He had a fondness for mockingbirds, whose songs he enjoyed, and sometimes kept one in a cage.  

Gordon-Reed and Onuf include a more careful interpretation and understanding of the the famous Jefferson Bible then I had ever read before, including Jefferson’s own doubts about his sometimes doubtful faith.  As his journals make clear, he felt blessed by a higher power and believed in one.  At the same time that his personal interest in faith was strong, in the public realm Jefferson felt that mankind must depend on its self, not its god.  

The book takes Jefferson at his word and challenges his sense of self, even while attempting to understand this most blessed patriarch in critical and thoughtful terms.  It left me more fascinated than ever with Jefferson and is a book I will return to again and again as I think and teach about Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 27

Last week’s tantalizing warmth faded quickly, replaced by rainy days that felt colder than they were thanks to the damp.  Outdoors, the earth is slowly beginning its Spring emergence.  Inside, the amaryllis is growing taller every day.

The stem has swollen with the flower that will eventually emerge at the end of the stalk.  I turn the plant toward the sunlight outside and each day I watch for changes.   The plant is a promise of more warmth to come, a reminder that Winter’s scarves, sweaters, and coats won’t last forever.  This week, as I long for the ease of warmer days, that’s a most-welcome reminder.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bring Me the Sunlight

I have always loved the long days of Summer, for lots of reasons but especially because of the sunlight, which seems abundant, as if the days are actually longer and I needn’t rush to get things done.  In 2014, I travelled to Scandinavia in June, at the height of Summer solstice, when sunlight lingers for more than 18 hours.  I loved it, and so did the locals, who seemed to celebrate the light on a whole new level.  I realized that 18 hours of sunlight was their well-earned reward for Winter days with barely 6 hours of sun.  There I was in a Scandinavian June, soaking in sunlight I had hardly earned.  I should have felt guilty but instead I turned my face to the light.  This picture was made at 2 am on the Baltic Sea. 

This photo of my mom and a chubby-cheeked JT was made at 10 pm at Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace outside of St. Petersburg, Russia.  The second was made after our tour, at just past midnight. This is just one corner of the palace, by the way.  Catherine didn’t live modestly.

Since that experience, I’ve been even more aware of the sunlight in my corner of the world.  We'll never have 18 hours between sunrise and sunset, but today is a day worth marking on our journey to the June solstice.  Today, we will achieve 12 hours of light.  Moving forward, we’ll have two to three extra minutes of sunlight every day from now until the Summer solstice in June.  That’s plenty of time to soak up the light.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Signs of Spring

Yesterday, I noticed that there are signs off life among the daffodil and tulip bulbs in my garden.  I snapped one picture in the rain and plan to treat myself to a garden walk to see more of the hopeful signs of Spring.

That’s happy!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Letting Go: Tacos for Supper

The backstory: This year, as JT prepares to head off to college, I’m writing about the traditions that spell love in our home.  I’m thinking of them more mindfully than usual as I prepare to send my bird from his nest.  For me, these traditions  were always about a securing a happy and well-loved childhood in preparation for a happy adulthood.  They are about creating memories that will endure and this year, writing about them is helping me to think about the next chapter in our lives.

Chicken tacos are the house meal of Sassafras House and if we love you, you’ve been invited to have chicken tacos at our table.  They are both a treat and an everyday meal, a hands-down favorite that never goes out of style.  We have them to celebrate birthdays and the first day of school.  We have them to mark the end of the week on Friday.  We have them on Tuesdays because, why not?  Tacos spell home and family, they spell love and tradition.  And they are always delicious.  Taco supper looks and tastes the same every time.  In that familiarity is the tradition at the heart of my home.  

We had our most recent taco supper on Sunday, to celebrate JT’s 18th birthday, the end of the wrestling season, and the love of family.  

That's happy and delicious!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 20

The past week has been impressive on the amaryllis front.

Each day brings an extra few minutes of sunlight.  The amaryllis turns to the light and grows toward it.  At this stage of Winter, that sounds promising to me,  so I take my cue from the flower and lift my face to the light.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tulip Days are Coming

Though it’s officially over 4 weeks away and we had a snowstorm just a few days ago, I can feel and smell Spring in the air.  T gave me pink tulips last week, and with them came the promise of brighter colors and warmer days.

The older I get, the more I appreciate Spring, with its tentative shoots of green, new life, and mild breezes.  I can feel it in the air.  That’s happy!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

An All Grown Up Pirate

A few weeks ago, I realized that this picture frame needed a little TLC.  

It has a picture of JT at the age of 4, showing off the pirate costume he received from Santa for Christmas.  That boy loved himself a costume.  At the age of 6, he informed me that he would never be bored as long as he had his imagination.  For years, he put that philosophy to work with the aid of an assortment of costumes.  From Peter Pan to pirates, Indians, cowboys, and for one memorable year, a Scottish kilt, this kid loved indulging in his imagination.  I was that parent who ran her weekend errands with a costumed kid in tow.  It was so frequent that when someone looked askance at me and my rope-toting cowboy at Home Depot, I was perplexed by their curiosity and only later realized that my kid was in a costume.  In May.

These memories flooded back as I cleaned up the frame that holds the pirate picture.  They are also in my mind today, as my little pirate turns 18.  Costumes are long gone, replaced by a succession of athletic uniforms.  Today he wrestled his final match of the season and, in his case, the final match of his wrestling career.

As he set out on the mat and got last-minute advice from his coaches, I watched with a full heart.  In the last few years, as childhood has faded and once chubby cheeks turned into prominent cheekbones, school teams with amazing coaches have allowed JT to challenge himself and figure out who he wants to be.  He’s grown up as these patient coaches guided him forward, put up with his smart mouth, pushed him to exceed his expectations, and taught him that hard work has rewards beyond victory.  

He will head off to college in a few months, ready to wear a new uniform and run for a new team.   He was made ready by the years he played on the teams of our school.  Its fitting that the man who taught him in PE class at age 4 and who was his first cross country coach in 7th grade was also there for his last match in a RPS uniform.  One of the other coaches made a picture of them after today's match and I will cherish this photo.  In it, I see that boy that was, the 18 year old that is, and the man he will become, standing next to one of the finest human beings I know, a coach who guided him along the way.

I miss the little pirate.  But I’m proud and grateful for the 18 year old who replaced him.  Happy Birthday, son!

Friday, February 16, 2018

And Now A Word About the Miracle That Is Eyebrow Gel

To my 7th grade self, my thick lush eyebrows were a trial.  That mine came equipped with the optional unibrow feature was a straight-up curse.  Enter eye-brow waxing, which thinned the furry beasts and kept the unibrow in check.  These days, I’ve long had command of my eyebrows.  Years of waxing killed the unibrow hair follicles for good and the rest of my brows can be kept in check by the occasional waxing.  Mostly I hold the line via good old-fashioned plucking.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that there is the occasional wily eyebrow hair…extra long and with a life of its own over my eyes, as if I am a bug with feelers.  Plucking it is risky; I don’t wish to end up with sparse brows that require penciling in.  But neither do I like this feeler with a life of its own, wagging over my eyes and otherwise making it appear as if I am a an unkempt crone with caterpillar eyebrows.  

Oh, the first world problems.

Enter eyebrow gel.

This little tube is a miracle-worker.  It’s light but strong and keeps me from looking like an old lady with wagging eyebrows.  For $20, I keep my eyebrows tamed.  

That’s happy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Crafty Valentine

I made some homemade valentines for today, a tiny treat for others that reminded me of how much I enjoy making things. 

Crafts aren’t quite the same as art, but they do make me appreciate the importance of art in my world —— for beauty, of course.  Art also reminds me to look at the familiar in new ways.  Homemade items like these help me show the people I love that I care.

Time to create and daydream makes my life nicer.

That’s happy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 13

It would seem that last week’s fretting about my amaryllis yielded results.  On Saturday, I came downstairs to an exciting bit of growth.

Today, I moved the bulb to the lamp to make this picture.  There’s even more flower stem to admire.

I am thrilled to see things take off and I’m looking forward to a flower in March, when I will be more than ready to abandon wool sweaters and warm tights in favor of Spring blooms and open-toed shoes.  And yes, I’m being far more cheerful and optimistic than the current weather warrants.  But that is what the prospect of a flower will do for me.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pretty Package

This morning, I had reason to wrap some pretty packages.

That’s happy!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Real Life Conversations with T: Immunity edition

The backstory: As a schoolteacher for more than 15 years, I’ve been around plenty a contagion.  Between runny noses and coughing fits, schools are cesspools of germs.  Over the years, my body has learned to fight most of them off and so I don’t often get sick, despite the abundant opportunities to do so.  However, a few weeks ago, I picked up a mild cold and T was worried.

T:  If it got you, it must be something horrible.  It’s probably cholera.

The “cholera” turned into a sinus infection but I’m better now.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Daffodil Days

The year JT was first born, weekly trips to the Hy Vee grocery store in Norfolk, Nebraska was our big outing.  We’d stop after seeing the pediatrician, which my newborn needed to do weekly for his first few months, thanks to a rough delivery and some slow weight gain.  Each check-up with the saintly and good-humored Dr. Kelly got us one step closer to 10 pounds, the magical goal for my slender little babine.  And then we’d stop by the Hy Vee, where there were more grocery choices (and better prices!) than the markets in our little town.  And there were inexpensive daffodil bouquets, which I often treated myself too.  This week, my local Wegmans had daffodil bouquets and T treated me to one.  When I see the flowers each morning, memories of those early parenting days in Nebraska come flooding back. 

That's happy!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 6

The groundhog declared we get six more weeks of Winter and the amaryllis is apparently prepared to embrace that plan because things are not looking all that different from last week.

I am now in will-it-ever-grow fret mode.  I’ve even compared this bulb to previous years, which revealed that usually at six weeks, growth slowly begins to materialize.  We are at week six, little buddy.  Time to get after it.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Front Porch in February

Winter days on the front porch are more austere than the warmer seasons.   In my mind, Winter calls for greenery and pinecones, so that’s what I use most often.  All year long, I enjoy collecting the items that will make up the month’s decorations.  I aim for inexpensive and charming, so it’s rather like a treasure hunt.

The pinecones in this basket make regular appearances on the porch.  They are a collection of found pinecones supplemented by a bag from Michael’s.  The heart garland was a $3 find at Target, and the cloth in the basket is a a old kitchen cloth that has seen better days but holds up just fine for the front porch.  The tablecloth is like all my front porch tablecloths, from the bargain rack somewhere, in this case Home Goods.  The red pattern can serve for a variety of seasons, so it was worth the $8 price.

On the table, whenever possible, I aim for the rule of three, collecting an odd number of items to make a display.  But some months, simple seems more fitting and so February’s table has just one item.  The basket is weighted down by a brick so it doesn’t blow around in the wind.  The flag is new, a birthday gift that will cheer up the cold Winter days.

The wreath is a craft store find, with a polka dot bow I tied on a few years ago.  It only comes out for February and is still fresh.

The plain Edison lights are back, turned on by timer so that we come home to light on dark Winter evenings.  It’s hard to make a picture of these lights that truly shows their beauty and warmth, so you’ll just have to believe me (or come over….they are very welcoming!).  

Setting out February’s porch decorations reminds me that warmer days are in the offing.  Soon enough I’ll sit out here with a book and some iced tea.  That’s happy!