Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Mish-Mash

I'm enjoying another cozy rainy day here, and from the looks of Stuffed ever-rearranging himself in his nest of old quilts, I'm guessing he's happy too.  I'm thinking pot pies for supper, to use up a mish-mash of ingredients in the freezer.  And I'm making an effort to whittle down some of the things I've saved in my email over the years.  A few items from my Miscellaneous folder of found quotes, ideas, tips, stories, and General Things I Love and Don't Want to Lose:
  • In a CNN story online this summer about how eating apples helps you live longer, someone concurred in the comment section:  "I've been eating seven apples a day since 1811.  I'm over 200 years old and going strong."  :)  Mike and I laughed over that off and on the next few nights, it's so silly.  :)
  • Whenever I get to visit Vermont, Jericho is on my must-explore list.  Have any of you visited?  It sounds fascinating and just beautiful.
  • When I started this blog, I was working in a deli and bakery to save some money for my move here, and one of the store's resident curmudgeon customers huffed his way up to the counter and asked for however-much white Cooper cheese.  I told him that we were out of the white Cooper just then, but that we had yellow.  "Ohhhh," he growled at me.  "The whole world's gone to hell!"  That still makes me laugh.  "The whole world's gone to hell" became a catchphrase between me and my coworkers and me and my parents for the next couple weeks.  
  • I love Sean Hayes' song "Powerful Stuff," and I emailed myself a link to this live performance of it in May 2012.    ♫  "Every day, do like a flower does.  Sun rises and she opens up.  Sun rises and she sings. . . ."  ♪  Mmmmmmmmmm.  Gorgeous song, gorgeous voice, gorgeous lyrics
  • In the text of an interview with historian David McCullough I emailed myself in 2007, McCullough is asked by the interviewer what he hopes to accomplish in his then-new book 1776.  "Most important of all," he responds, "I hope I've conveyed that no one knew how things were going to turn out.  All the signs were that they didn't stand a chance, that the war was over and that we had lost.  It was the darkest time in the history of our country.  The prospects for the United States of America never looked so bleak.  But because a handful of very brave people refused to see it that way, we are the beneficiaries.  Without them, the Declaration of Independence would be only that, a declaration, words on paper."  He goes on to say that, "Ingratitude is a shabby human failing."  Beautifully put.  
  • I'm a sucker for a good how-to-clean-your-home-with-[lemons/vinegar/in this case, Alka-Seltzer] and emailed myself this article years ago.  I use the sink-drain-cleaning tip often.
  • In 2005, wise and witty Julie of the blog "A Little Pregnant" shared this gem of a conversation that took place in the New Orleans airport that summer.  The paragraph begins with "I miss Southern women," and ends with "That, my friends, is grace."  Indeed. 
  •  When I was a kid, thirteen or younger, I had a dream in which I was standing inside my grandparents' bedroom with my grandmother.  She was showing me a pearl necklace as the dream began, and as I looked at it with her as she held it in her hands, she said, "God has a necklace of pearls.  Every time one falls (from the chain), a human life is restored in its place."  That was the entire dream.  I woke up then and wrote it down, but I would have remembered what she said anyway.  
  • This banana bread recipe makes the best I've ever had.  There is a container of sour cream in it, and the loaf pans are dusted with a cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Otherwise, it's a basic recipe.  But ohhhhh!  Truly!  Banana Bread Heaven! 
There!  Back to sorting here, then on to pot pie-baking.  'Hope you all are having a good day.  Thank you again for your sweet comments on my autumn walk post too. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

October: "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."

Thoreau wrote that in winter, but it never fails to come to my mind in the fall.  Glory, glory, this beautiful season!  And may I just say how tickled I am by that photo!  It looks like my shadow is holding a bouquet of flowers in its left arm. 
Oh, fall!  I just love it so much. 
After a couple months of collecting books and book character toys and dolls for the school, I finally walked over to the post office this afternoon to mail everything out.  As I arrived, I ran into my former fellow cook, Warren, from my last job.  Mike and I had just been talking about him last night, as something reminded me of the time a little girl, maybe four years old, came into the restaurant with her parents with a realistic-looking, almost taxidermy-like stuffed frog in her arms.  "She carries that everywhere," her mom explained as Warren and I smiled at the girl and her odd stuffed animal.  Warren asked the girl what the frog's name was, and she replied, "Tony."  :)  He and I made it back into the kitchen before we started laughing, but the more we kept repeating it to each other--"Tony!  Tony the Frog!"--the funnier it became.  Another laugh together on the sidewalk today, then, now seven years later.    Getting more books and characters to the kids made me happy.  Having a sweet conservation with the post office clerk as she weighed my first box made me happy.  ("You didn't CARRY this here, did you?"  ~  "Oh, yes.  I don't have a car, so I walk everything over here."  [This clerk always comments on how she sees me out on my walks all the time, but she didn't know until today that I walk my packages over too.]  ~  "Well, you GO, Girl!  You'll be building up those arm muscles!  And exercising your legs!  Well, it's all good!"  She makes me laugh, and it's always a treat to see her.)   On my second walk to the post office, a kind man raced to get ahead of me so he could hold the door as I juggled box number two.  That also made me happy. 
I treated myself to a chocolate almond bar on my way home.  As I stopped to snap a picture of the pumpkin display outside the store, another customer asked me if I knew of a good place where she could buy a milkshake.  That I actually had the answer to her question made me laugh--Hey!  Here's someone leaving the store with a chocolate bar and taking pictures of pumpkins!  She must know where good ice cream can be found!  And bingo!  She does!--and the woman seemed to see the humor in it too, which made it even better.  There are days when everyone seems to be on the same pages--the sky is a deep blue, the trees and sidewalks are autumn-awesome, it is seventy-five degrees outside, so let's all just be good to each other and enjoy this life--and today was one of those days.  And this was one of this fall's sweetest walks so far. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Downtown

Yesterday was gorgeous here with temperatures only in the 60s, and when an errand took five minutes when I'd been prepared to be tied up with it possibly an entire hour, I decided to walk around downtown awhile afterward.  It couldn't have been a prettier morning.  The sun made the city sparkle instead of swelter, more leaves had turned color, there was enough of a breeze to make the Goldenrod along the river dance but not enough to make walking difficult, and everyone around me seemed to be in the same high spirits.  And I found charming graffiti!  And an equally charming heart-shaped pizza slice.  These are days, indeed.  ♥ 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mantel Skirt

A year after finding the right paint color for the mantel, I've finished dolling it up by attaching a skirt to the bottom.  The pink gingham-with-roses fabric is a curtain valance I found at Goodwill about six years ago for a dollar and bought knowing I'd find a use for it someday.  Someday arrived a few weeks ago when I realized this would make the perfect finishing touch for the mantel.  Since I couldn't bear to cut into the material, I just slipped a tension rod through the opening at the top and am letting the extra length drape onto the floor at the bottom.  I now keep my boxes of note cards, holiday cards, stationery, and stickers in the space behind the curtain.  (The Cat in the Hat is the school's next surprise delivery.  He was finally packed away yesterday afternoon.)  The pink skirt ties the white wood and the pink wall together better, and the mantel looks cozier now than it did pre-skirt in the two pictures below. 
And the roses in the skirt match the wooden rose applique above it. 
 And I am much happier now that that's all figured-out.  The "mantel project" still requires--in my mind--some twinkle lights and a hooked rug, and I want to add a  red heart here somewhere too, and I'm thinking about extending the fabric "wallpaper" (in another pattern) to either side of the pink yardstick "borders" so the bare wall won't be showing at all, BUT the skirt, at least, gets me one step closer to the vision I have for this little wall. 
Ah!  The pure contentment of simply puttering around one's home like this! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The School Library Project

I've written about my love for my former elementary school before.  It holds a huge piece of my heart, and at least a few times a year, I have dreams that I'm again walking through its halls and peeking in on the spaces that used to be my classrooms. This January, it occurred to me to donate a few books to the school's library, and after emailing the current librarian to find out what the students would most want to read, I ordered a number of books from amazon and had them shipped to the school directly.  That was January.  In the months since, finding more books for the kids--and more recently, stuffed animals and dolls of book characters to accompany the books--has become a passion of mine.  As of August 23rd, I've donated 188 books and 21 book character toys/dolls to this sweet school.  That thrills me.  :) 

When the librarian emailed me a picture of one of the students holding a couple books from the Easter-themed order I'd sent in April, I was still smiling hours later when I showed it to Mike.   
And when she mentioned in a thank-you note toward the end of last school year that the books had been a "life saver" since the school had no money in its budget for new books, I was even happier that I'd decided to start doing this.  (That so many schools don't have enough money to buy books--or to maintain libraries at all--makes me shake my head.)   
Since I wasn't sure when staff would be in the school building over the summer, I had the books and toys and dolls I'd ordered in June, July, and August mailed to Mike's and my apartment.  It was fun but cluttered here this summer, then, until I could finally box everything up and we could walk it all to the post office a few weeks ago.  A bow-headed Junie B. Jones had for weeks been staring at us from the rocking chair while we ate.  A green-suited Geronimo Stilton mouse would watch us from inside a plastic bag until we nestled him down into a package.  The hutch had become Sorting Central for some of the classic characters from my own childhood.  Mike just shook his head whenever he spotted the latest googley-eyed stuffed animal on the wing chair or propped up on the dining table, but I got a huge kick out of seeing these characters' faces grinning all around us.  I probably have more fun with all this than the books' and toys' recipients do.  :)
I check the school library's online catalog before buying books so I have a better idea of what the students already have, what they need, which award-winners their collection is missing, and which titles and series and authors are the most popular.  And I also look for donation-worthy-condition copies of rarer but beloved-to-me books I simply want the kids to have, like Fifth Grade Magic and Holly Hobbie's Cookbook. 
One book at a time, the library grows. 
If the time comes when the school can no longer support a library, as the hometown newspaper recently suggested as a future possibility for all the schools in the district due to state budget cuts--and "God forbid," and it would break my heart--I will just mail books to the school's teachers for their individual classroom libraries, I suppose.  But (that would be harder and more expensive, and) I hope it never comes to that.  Libraries matter. 
A new school year has begun, though, and like little Pinkalicious below, I wave my magic wand to the extent that I can, which isn't much, really, but again:  One book at a time.  And I look forward to the next nine months of finding titles and toys for the kids who are lucky enough to be this dear school's current students. 
"The world is full of magical places, and the library has always been one of them for me.  A library can be that special place for our children."    Julie Andrews