Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Being thankful

As I write this, a half-dozen men are ripping up our front yard, removing the turf and attempting to level out the damp clay-based soil.

Theoretically, someone will deliver sod and someone--these men or others--will install it before the end of the day, though it's already mid-afternoon. All of this was to be done weeks ago, but then the rains came, for days on end, and the people at Rainbow Lawn Care said the sod farm told them it was too wet to cut the sod. So the schedule would change, and we'd say okay, and then it would rain again.

One last day-lily
The complication now is cold weather. If the sod doesn't get installed today, the ground may freeze. Even if it does, we have to water it for a week or more, and with our cold nights our hoses may freeze. And you know what? It's out of my control. It will happen or it won't. The guys are working hard, it's still daylight, it might all come together. If not, it will happen another day, maybe in the spring.

And for that I am thankful! Our lawn looked sort of okay (the crew needed reassurance that indeed we did want the current stuff torn up). But the whole thing was very bumpy. It was increasingly difficult to maneuver a lawn mower around without it nosing down into a crevice or hanging itself up on a bump. And the creeping Charlie and other nasty stuff had taken over. Rather than apply a lot of weed killer, we decided to start over.

The last rose of autumn
We've lived in this house 25 years. We did a lot of yard work when we first moved in, and then gradually for another 10 or 15 years. Lately, we've been coasting. And when we looked around, we saw that trees needed to be trimmed (done), the lawn needed a makeover (underway), and we'd really like a new garage and a back porch (planning underway for both).

We see it as an investment in our own happiness, our own well-being. The fact that we're able to do this gives me a new reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. We are fortunate indeed.

For what are you giving thanks this year?

Update 1: 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving, 30 degrees F, windy, and snowing, and the crew arrives with sod, which they install by 10. They worked well past dark last night, leaving about 7 p.m . 

Update 2: I should add that having the yard done is just icing on the cake; I'm truly thankful for my family above all. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why grandparents love Halloween

Two months ago I started making a princess dress for ViMae. She wanted to wear it to the Renaissance Festival first, which gave me about three weeks, and then for Halloween. No problem, I thought.

She chose a pattern and then picked out fabric and trims for the dress and its lacy cape. The girl has a wonderful sense of color, and while she might mix jarring tones in an art project, everything about the dress had to harmonize. The big surprise: instead of pink, she wanted blue. It occurred to her that people would think she was dressing as Elsa, from Disney's magahit Frozen, and she didn't want to be just one of many. So she decided to be Assassin Elsa, stashing a dagger in her boot and threatening to stab anyone who doubted her evil intentions. (You may recall that last year she was Bellatrix Lestrange, the most evil female villain in the Harry Potter series.)

Everything was coming along fine until my sewing machine acted up. It was skipping stitches and breaking needles, and eventually I learned it couldn't be repaired. So work came to a halt while I did some research and bought a new machine. (I switched brands in the process--the trauma was roughly equivalent to renouncing my birth family and going over to the Dark Side.) Anyway, I finished the dress one day before Halloween, and ViMae loves it. Now she is excited that the waiting is over; she can wear it any time, for any occasion. 

Augie dressed as a Berserker, a medieval Viking warrior named for the bear pelts they often wore. Now celebrated in video games and comic book art, the Berserkers worked themselves into trancelike states in which they felt no pain until the battle was over. Berserkers were undisciplined enough that Augie's collection of warrior gear--none made specifically for that period--made up a great costume.

Augie's outfit involved lots of teamwork. He made his shield and axe at Cardboard Camp some weeks ago. Grandma Anita had made him a warrior jumpsuit with flying gold epaulets, designed to his specifications. And Peter had just recently made a helmet called a morion, which in fact is Spanish in origin. We found a fur vest at Once Upon a Child, which suggested the bear pelt, and boots completed the look. Voila--a Berserker. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

TBT: Augie plays Pinetop Boogie

This first appeared in September 2009.

When Augie was just over a year old, he'd come in the door and head for the den, saying "Dah-Nn." Doctor John. The DVD is "Dr. John Teaches You to Play New Orleans Piano," and Augie's immediate favorite was "Pinetop Boogie." While I struggled to learn fingering, he absorbed the music, heart and soul. Here's evidence.

video video

video video

Sunday, October 11, 2015

An October getaway

Peter and I took a two-day holiday this past week to enjoy fall color and continue celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. It was, in a word, wonderful. Romantic, in fact.

The weather has been so warm that our leaves are weeks behind their usual schedule, so we headed north and east to the St. Croix River valley where we figured things would be a little further advanced. The birches were glorious tiny points of gold, and the sumac was deep red, and here and there a hardwood was turning red as well. Much of this was contrasted against deep green, and it was lovely. The sun hid behind the clouds both days, but there was beauty everywhere. The photos you see here were taken at Interstate Park at Taylor's Falls, Minn., notable for its scenery including glacial potholes; I've described it before.

We spent the night at the historic Lowell Inn in Stillwater, Minn., once an area favorite and still comfortable despite its age. I try to book a suite when we travel, because Peter needs a place to hang out while he is up half the night. In this case I took the Honeymoon Suite, which also has a Jacuzzi. So in keeping with their historic approach (and probably the limits of the wiring) the suite has no coffee maker and no fridge, but television, free WiFi, and a giant tub in the living room. Frankly, I suspect they should promote it as the Anniversary Suite, because it seems that most of their guests are silver-haired folks like ourselves. On a quiet Thursday night, the dining room hosted only three couples, all celebrating anniversaries.

The hotel's special dining attraction is a multi-course fondue dinner, which was as good as we remembered from decades ago, except that now we know our limits and didn't overdo. The cheese fondue, served with marinated vegetables and several kinds of bread, was accompanied by a wonderful Riesling. In hot oil we cooked shrimp, duck, and steak, all accompanied by an Austrian white and an Italian red that were a little more dry and heavy than we like (we'll never be wine aficionados). The grapes and berries course served as our dessert, and we skipped the chocolate fondue. I've always enjoyed the process of the fondue dinner, and it's even better when you're not the one who has to clean up and deal with the hot oil and messy cheese pot. 

Our drive took us through some delightful small towns including Marine-on-St.-Croix and Taylor's Falls, Minnesota, and Osceola, Wisconsin, all with charming gift shops, antique stores, garden shops, and, oh yes, candy stores. We managed not to buy much, since as Peter reminds me we're in the "de-acquisitioning phase." It's enough to collect experiences, memories, and the occasional photograph. In the process, we celebrated our life together and breathed new oxygen into it. Looking forward to many more years together.


Related Posts with Thumbnails