Saturday, May 30, 2009


For fun, I just visited my very first post, on July 23, 2008. Nest emptying? More time for dozin'?

Funny, very little dozin' has happened since then. And isn't likely to happen in the future.

That's all I'm saying. For now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

who's in the kitchen

"What's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander."

A friend shared this wisdom with me when I was a young mother. The point? If someone else offers to assume one of your tasks, particularly one you are dreadfully loathe to do even one more minute ... jump on it!

Such was my good fortune on Saturday night. My dh and dd (dear husband and dear daughter) shooed me out of the kitchen and got to work. An hour or so later, they called me to the table for a delicious new dish: lemon pasta! Tangy, parmesan-y, with spinach, grilled chicken and a baguette alongside. I couldn't have been more pleased. (Apologies to The Pioneer Woman: what can I say? This family usually alters recipes: dh and dd used spinach instead of parsley.)

Had it taken five hours of preparation for a bowl of oatmeal, I'd have been thrilled. Oh, the food was delicious. But sitting down at the kitchen table, having NOT prepared the meal was divine.

A side benefit, and you mothers out there might understand, was the time and conversation between father and daughter. Some of the best conversations with my children take place in the kitchen, so it was sweet and special to see it happen with dad, too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

boys smell worse than girls

This is not opinion. It is absolute, indisputable fact ... observed over 25 years of parenting and now eight years of hauling kids in and out of college dormitories. Not until yesterday did I realize the startling difference between the sexes when it comes to odors.

Bill and I arrived at Katie's dorm (uh, residence hall: I don't know why the term 'dorm' is no longer in vogue) at 2 p.m. to begin the exodus of her belongings from room 103 to our minivan. Of course the mild temps of earlier in the week had vanished, as it neared 85 degrees. My nose dribbled, not knowing any difference between Ohio pollen and Indiana pollen.

I strolled into English Hall to find Katie. Perhaps two armloads later, it hit me. Or didn't hit me: that BOY smell. For seven years the unparalleled odors of a boys' dormitory in May revolted me no end. Dirty, orphaned socks. Overflowing, rotting garbage cans. Unwashed, maybe never-washed sheets. Definitely never-vacuumed rooms. Pillows that could walk out to the van on their own. Reeking tennis shoes and moldy towels. Yech.

So, yesterday in English amazed me. Oh, there were some bags of trash here and there. And a table of giveaway items by the front door. But most of the debris was orderly and definitely lacking any discernable odor. What a pleasure.

Don't get me wrong. I love my boys, and two or three of them are quite bearable. But a dormitory full? Hard to take.

Give me the scent of a gaggle of girls!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

yard puttering

My dad used to say, "I'm going out to putter in the yard." Maybe it's our farming roots. His dad was a farmer and my dad was also farmer until I was about three years old.

My mom once told me that while she gardened, she'd set me on a blanket outside with our dog as my bodguard. Crazy! Six months old, rolling around on a blanket in the Tennessee summer. That was my early life. Now, fifty years (or so) later, I love nothing better than to be outside puttering. Springtime is glorious for this pursuit. Even on our small city lot, the puttering opportunities are endless.

Trimming. Digging. Planting. Edging. Mulching. Watering. Transplanting. And in general just poking and peeking around the flower beds to see what's up. Without fail, I call over one of my neighbors, Dove or Lynn, to identify a new shoot: weed or flower. Dove says, "everything's a weed." I'm not sure what she means, but I've gotten better at recognizing things.

There's something basic and earthy about dirty fingernails and grungy socks and my jeans all smeared up with topsoil. Mmmmmmmm.

The down side of yard puttering is that the inside of the house goes to pot. Yesterday I found a souring, damp load of clothes still in the washer from who-knows-what-day. I prowl the freezer for a quick meal to allow for more yard puttering. I haven't vacuumed in ages. Not to mention this blog has to take a rest.

But my flower beds are looking dandy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

B & B open for business

Somewhere between giving birth and her kids' high school graduation, a mother morphs into an innkeeper. At least it happened to me.

As soon as they have a semester of college under their belts, my kids become houseguests of a sort. I've no idea why this is so, and I blame only myself.

How quickly I forgot that B.C. (before college) I cared little about laundry in the hall, newspapers in the kitchen, rotten apples in the fridge or water spots on the bathroom mirror. In fact, I often barked at my offspring to pick up, clean up, and get up. (Typical nocturnal teenagers, you know.)

Now I scurry around, vacuuming, wiping and straightening as if our house is on the market.

Clean sheets, check.
Clean towels in the bathroom, check.
Laundry folded, check.
Cookies baked, check.
Stairs clear of clutter and dog hair, check.
Front porch swept, check.
And worst of all: their bedrooms tidy, check. That is messed up. When did that become MY job?

So it's that time again. The college kids arriving home for summer. Here come their boxes, crates, laptops, printers, speakers, uneaten snacks, laundry, coathangers and loads of papers and books. All of it is dirty, smelly, and/or wrinkled.

I'm trying my darnedest to get back to being mom rather than hostess, but I'm having a very hard time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day in reverse

One gorgeously sunny Mother's Day, my son Mark took me golfing. Hidden Valley golf course, a par-three here in town set the stage for a riotous afternoon.

First off, I was deeply touched that my 14-year-old would be seen in public with me, and golfing together at that. And frankly, I might have chosen to spend the afternoon sitting in the sun. But off we went.

My thoughtful son insisted on renting a golf cart to give his mom an afternoon of pampering. Therein lurked the problem.

We hacked our way through the first couple of holes, enjoying each other's company. But around the fourth hole, far from the clubhouse, our golf cart took on an evil mind of its own.

Since Mark was considered underage for driving the cart, I was at the wheel. The cart decided to quit working; it absolutely wouldn't stay in gear. Forward gear, that is. I tried; then Mark tried. Finally, I threw it in reverse and voila! We were off, craning our necks to make sure we didn't collide with trees, ball-cleaners or - my biggest fear - other golfers. And so it continued through the next five holes.

The cart let out a soft beep-beep as we careened the course, warning others that we were moving in reverse. Of course, this scene put me in fits of laughter. Even the disdainful glares of a pair of men behind us couldn't straighten me up. And soon Mark was laughing, too. All these years later, we still laugh together over the memory.

It was a fine Mother's Day. Maybe even the best ever.

May your Mother's Day (whether or not you're a mother) be full of laughter, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mammoth detour

Bill and I spent the last three days visiting my dad and love-mom in Nashville, Tennessee: a quick trip wedged between responsibilities at home and the summer arrival of college kids.

Since Bill had bypassed Mammoth Cave in Kentucky throughout his life, I insisted we pull off so I could give him a taste.

I call Mammoth a "backwoods National Park." While it is a piece of our national parks system, it is on a smaller and less grander scale than say Yellowstone, Glacier or the Great Smoky Mountains. Tucked in the woods of central Kentucky, its unassuming above-ground facility belies the majesty of what lies beneath.

Its history goes back 200 years, when the cave system was explored by enslaved locals who mined saltpeter for gunpowder used in the war of 1812. Over time, nearly 400 miles of caverns were surveyed and opened for the world to enjoy. The most extensive cave system on earth, geologists think there could be 600 miles of yet undiscovered passageways.

Five years ago I accompanied a dozen Girl Scouts to Mammoth for three days of hiking and exploring. Our four-hour cave hike was three hours too long for my daughter Katie, who lost everything in her stomach as she hiked. Be aware: there is a real malady that afflicts a few people who descend into caves: something like a claustrophobia/motion sickness combo. Very unpleasant.

Anyway, the Mammoth folks generously offer a 'teaser' view of the caverns for free. It's called the "historic entrance," just down the hill from the visitor center. We hiked to the enormous opening and passed a waterfall, walking about 50 yards into the cave and were stopped by a barrier. A stiff wind raced out of the cavern and blew over us, a good 25 degrees colder than the outside air.

The history and sheer grandeur of the Mammoth Caves is not to be missed in a lifetime. Go see it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's for breakfast?

This morning, I witnessed .... I am not making this up ... my husband eating leftover egg foo young for breakfast.

I always bragged on him that he'd eat nearly anything, even cold pizza for breakfast.

But egg foo young? That one takes the cake. Or the egg roll.