Thursday, July 31, 2008

1 and one half Alabamians

We're on our way to Alabama for a late summer visit to the farm. The Welcome Center to Alabama is a fancy well-groomed place (no litter here) were we like to stop to stretch our legs. Jacob took a liking to this marker, so all the Alabamians in the group gathered around (and on top of it) for a snapshot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More in the can...

I know, I'm starting to look obsessed...I got these slightly damaged, overripe peaches at Heather's Mom's lakehouse and - voila, a little cooking and canning - and I got 12 half-pint jars of peaches-and-honey preserve in the can...yes, I am obsessed...
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Gus' Duck-y

Just a quick little snapshot of something sweet I caught while hanging laundry (the camera is pretty much attached to me around my neck these days - so many Kodak moments to capture). Gus and Duck-Duck (that's the little Weimeraner, staying next door) have really taken a liking to each other...whenever we're not looking they meet at the fence and play...
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From tree to jar

Yep, I'm really into that canning thing right now. Every time I see produce (preferrably free) I jump at the chance to peel it, cook it up and fill it into jars. There is something extremely soothing about canning and I love the security I see when I open my pantry and see the pretty little glass jars sitting there obediently in a row, waiting to be openend and enjoyed.

I found an appletree behind a closed convenience store on my long run last weekend. It's brimming with juicy, tart apples and the ground is covered in the slightly dinged up variety - not spotted enough to stop my industrious imagination from getting jump started...for the rest of my run, I mulled over the possibilities and by the time I finished, I couldn't wait to jump in the shower and return with Gus and a large bag...I was actually worried that someone else might have discovered it too...

No need to worry...with my mother-in-law and my grandmother-in-law's tutorials over the phone, I managed to cook my harvest down to sauce and can it neatly into five pint jars.

Did I mention how much I love summer?
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tennis anyone?

This post is for Uncle Andy, exclusively. No explanation needed. Gus is ready. Bring it on, Edward!

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We Love Lake Heartwell

This weekend we got to go back to Lake Heartwell in South Carolina with our friends Heather and Richard. As you can see, Gus liked it just a little bit and so did his Daddy...who surprised all of us with his waterskiing prowess...the man can ride a wave reeeel purrty!

We enjoyed our stay with Heather's folks again - so very much. Good food, inspiring company, good sleep, beautiful scenery and a tranquil lake. What more can you ask for?

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Walk this way...

Tatata tahhh! (drumroll inserted here) here is is! The proof that Gus is walking, well, sort of walking. It's still really teetery, but he has shown to think before he lets go and take a few slow steps before he sits or falls down.

Here he just got excited about falling into my arms...
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer is so sweet!

Jacob and I spent an hour Sunday evening picking black berries in a nearby park by the French Broad River (Gus got to hang out with Auntie Say-Say). The park is secluded and just overgrown around the edges with berry bushes that are heavy under their sweet load. We managed to pick about four quarts with only a few splinters and scratches (blackberry bushes are prickly suckers!) and a tiny patch of poison ivy for Jacob (he is the poison ivy magnet, if there is such a person).

Naturally I excitedly started mulling over my options the moment the berry harvest hit the kitchen counter and Monday afternoon (while Gus was snoozing) I decided to make low-sugar preserve, with the help of an online primer and Jacob's Mom's handy inversion trick (helps seal the lids).

Six jars of pure not-to-sweet, almost herby goodness are now gracing my pantry (actually five - one is already in heavy use in the fridge).

Have I mentioned how much I like Western North Carolina during these sweet hot days of high summer?

I'm going back for more berries next week...I'm thinking cobbler and maybe some smoothies...

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Monday, July 21, 2008

"This is Gus, speaking..."

Gus talks to Granna in these two photos. After just waking up from a good afternoon nap, he was in the mood to gab.

Unfortunately I didn't get the shot where he held it up to his ear (he is mimicking me), but he loves to hear the voices and lick the display (that's how much he loves his Granna...)

Here he is listening to his Grospabe calling long-distance from Switzerland. For some reason Grosbape always makes him giggle on the phone.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hit me with your rhythm stick!

Gus and Dad have a drum-off in the basement - they have plenty of rhythm.

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Batter up!

I won't try to impress you with my baseball lingo (I'm mute, really when it comes to sports analogies, or I use the wrong one in the worst context possible...I remember a conversation about "bases" and me stumbling badly, but that's another story). Thursday we attended a game of the Asheville Tourists against the Seashore Birds of Delmarva (we still don't know where that is). Gus loved all the ongoings and the attention of his Say-Say (Jacob's cousin, Sara). I cheered for the wrong team (I'm prone to do that) but at least I cheered a homerun...sometimes I cheer when there is nothing worthy of cheering is still a very confusing game to me...

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Blueberry much!

I made this blueberry cobbler, after being inspired by a friend of Jacob's sister (Thank you, Angie) and after Jacob's Dad unloaded a big bag of hand-picked, home-grown blueberries with us last weekend (Thank you Ronnie & Cindy).

My plan was to take a picture of "my boys" enjoying it, but it was gone too fast (and I was busy eating too, no hand free to snap pictures)...

Any berries work (they are coming into season now) the cobbler is sweet yet wonderfully delicate and deferential to the berries' natural flavors. It's delicious fresh out of the oven, but it cuts neatly into squares after a half hour in the fridge and still tastes wonderful.

I love the indulgent days of deep summer...

Berry Cobbler:
- preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 cup of milk
- mix all ingredients in a bowl

1 stick of butter melted
- add to mixture
- butter a baking dish and fill with mixture
- top with 2 cups of berries
- bake for 1 hour

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He is a player!

It struck me today out of the blue, while I was busy with something - dishes, laundry, something that can be done without sight or mind.
My son is a great player.
He can play on his own for what seems like eternity at a time. He ahhhs and ohhhs and grunts and claps his hands, then heaves his bottom onto his knees and crawls busily over to his various "toy chests" around the house.
There - depending on the mood - he will either violently topple the container and deftly distribute all his primary-color treasures over a wide terrain, or softly sing to himself and lovingly consider each piece as he lifts it out of the basket or box.
Then minutes go by where I don't pay him any attention and when I do again, I realize that he isn't paying me any mind either.
He is lost to his own fantasy world, where sound, texture, color, shapes rule and no one can tell him what to do. He doesn't see me and only when I call out to him, does he come back to me - most often with a bright smile.
I love him to pieces when he plays like that - like I said. He is really good at it.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gus @ 10 months

Another months under his diaper (no belt yet).
His advances continue to astonish me and leave me breathless.
Little of baby left, and a lot of toddler peeking through.
Some milestones:
- likes to give Mommie love bites and farthy kisses on the belly and thighs
- can walk a few steps unassisted, until the big grin fells him
- can cruise at dizzying speeds along furniture or with a chair as a walker
- crawls even wouldn't believe it
- "Taaaataaahhh" (translation: All exciting things)
- Very shrill shriek, blasted off at deafening frequencies (translation: Things better than "Taaataaahh"
- Also ba-ba, ga-ga, wha-wha...but no ma-ma yet (I'm not taking it personal)
- Loves black beans (as food, facial mask and hair styling product), Cheerios, pot roast (he is his Daddy's child), cantaloupe, water melon, apple (eaten with Mommie, while sitting in her lap), not a big fan of anything squash and green beans...we'll keep working on it.
- Plays hide and seek with toys
- Places things into things
- Plays his Ukulele and drum with abandon
- Loves to sneak into the closet and play Daddy's guitar and banjo
- Loves to ride the horsey (me)
- Loves, loves, loves wheels, any kind of wheels
- Adores handrails. We have to stop and use them whenever we come upon them...
There is so much more, but right now Gus wants to we play.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Suze Q, the Burgundy Buggy, the Kickster...whatever name I called her by, she was always a dependable, wonderful car to me. She (and yes, she is a female...unlike the Taurus before her...he was a guy...but that's another story) saw me through a trying divorce, a confusing and later tranquil period of singlehood, a good dozen snowstorms and many otherwise treacherous mountaineous miles, before we met Jacob who courted both of us (driving her around like she was a fancy porsche or an elegant Jaguar) and won our hearts. She endured a cross-country trip tethered to a giant moving van to follow us to North Carolina...and for the past 10 months she has been a quiet presence in our driveway, where she was marooned most days, because I don't have a need for her. She has patiently let Gus "drive" her to fantastic places (he did discover her distinctly squeeky horn and liked to use her windshield wipers to tiresome lengths) but otherwise she mostly collected dust, grime and served as a place where bugs came to die.

Gus and I will now "experiment" on living without a car at our beck & call. Not a big deal in a small town with an exellent and bike-friendly infrastructure - although I'm curious to see how I feel about it in the frigid winter months or when the mall two towns over calls my name...

I know Suze doesn't have a soul, but if she did, it would be a beautiful one. She was selfless in her purpose, she never required more than the absolutely necessary and she never let me down when everything and everyone else seemed to do just that. She kept me safe and made sure I got home - every day of the past 8 years. She kept all my secrets and she listened to my singing without judgement and endured my questionable taste in music. She has been worth every penny I paid for her.

Suze is now going to go and "live on a farm" in Alabama. Yes, I signed away her title on Saturday and let Jacob's father drive her off today. She is hopefully going to be a useful vehicle to him and I will "visit" her on holidays and keep up on how she is doing. She isn't completely lost to me yet and that's a comfort.

She may have never been a beautiful or cool car (Sidekicks have awkward proportions, no matter from what angle you look), but I always thought she was the best car in the parking lot. I have never been embarassed by her nor desired any other car, no matter how snazzy or smart.

I will miss her, as much as you can miss "a thing".

Here's a shot of Gus who tried to cheer me up as I wiped away the was hard to stand there and hear her incredibly loud muffler fade into the din of Brevard... bye, Suze
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It looks a little bit like a graceful pas-de-deux, a sweet dance of two, but it may feel more like having a little, intent monkey on one's back...I don't know, but when I came back from my Sunday morning long run, I found my two guys mowing the lawn - together! of them was REALLY excited about it and wanted to go on mowing for hours...

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