Thursday, May 7, 2015

guilt of a nimby

a poem by:  jennifer

a blistering day 
and i'm
taking refuge from the sun
sitting in the right side of the car
to avoid the burn.
and i have
the sliding door open
to let in the hot breeze.

while waiting to gather a babe.
from school.

an ice cube shifts in my tea
as it melts.

and i am watching a pincher bug...
  or earwig if you will..
frantically crawling up,
pausing at a crack, on a weather beaten, 
 once orange
 traffic cone.

i could only imagine he was desperate for water,
  on his sun baked plastic island.
bordered by a swath of asphalt
cracked earth and dried foxtails.

and one wouldn't think
that the very next week,
the same she 
who would fish out an ice cube 
and give it to him
   by placing it on his miserable island
(to keep him alive)

would step on his brethren.

seedlings to protect and all.

N ot
I n
M y
B ack
Y ard

am i.


Thursday, April 30, 2015


Today, April 30, is the last day of National Poetry Month.
Thank you Jennifer for keeping poetry alive and well.
Today is National Poem In Your Pocket Day.
Apparently, that means you are supposed to share a poem with others.
I would normally just keep my poems in my pocket, but in an effort to be patriotic, 
 I give you this.


Above the ground you float 
like lilies in a pond.
Breeze and bee set you adrift.
Only your orange flowers
bring you back to earth.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

an achilles heel in the kitchen

a poem by: jennifer

tikki masala, 
  homemade baklava and chicken marsala.

a rich, creamy, tart lemon curd
  and a perfectly roasted thanksgiving bird.

exotic curries,
  a humble stew and a flaky pie crust i can do.

a moist and tender
  (be it slightly lopsided)
      3 tiered wedding  cake...
and yet,
   a complete failure at a simple pancake.

raw in the middle, black on the top
    i try and try, but they are always a flop.

i often concede, and pass the job,
   to the ever successful pancake god.

but when given a request by a sweet, sweet babe,
    i will try again, always their slave.

and surely one day i will serve
   the stack of cakes that they deserve.

but until that day should arrive at my door
  can i offer some pear frangipane or something more?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Regaining appreciation and feeling groovy

I sometimes hold onto ideas, desires, or dreams too long.
I get in a rut of thinking about something in a single-minded way.
You know, for years.
It was one of these standpoints that I changed my attitude about recently.

When we moved into our house, 45 years ago, the kitchen had just been remodeled.  The built-in oven/cook top, the highly-grained, varnished cabinets, the dropped ceiling and lighting, the brick-look floor tiles and the laminate counter tops were in style, modern, up-to-date.
Oh, so 1970's.

As these things go, the appliances have been replaced, ditto the flooring, sink, and faucet.
Not long ago, the dropped ceiling was raised back up, and redone with tongue and groove boards.  New lights were added.

But the 1970 "Daisy" counter tops still greet me every morning.
"Good morning, flower child".

How many times have I wiped those counters off?  Thousands and thousands, to be sure.
So many times that I've worn the pattern off in high use areas.

Those kitchen counters and I have a lot of history together.
In addition to preparing tons of food, and cleaning up from the making and eating of it, I have:

Bathed my babies on them,
Taught cooking on them,
Arranged flowers,
Rolled cookies,
Kneaded dough on them.
I've used them as a buffet table to serve food,
Taught responsibility using them... "(Fill in the blank with a child's name), it's 
your night to wash dishes."  Moaning and tears follow.
I've canned tomatoes, apricots, frozen boysenberries, green beans, and zucchini on them.
Various science experiments have been conducted on them.
Hot glue has been dotted it.

Yet, in spite of all the memories and many people urging me to NEVER replace the vintage counters, I have been "done" with the pattern and material for years.

The other day I received an advertisement email from Country Living magazine showing a new laminate countertop material from Wilsonart, the very company that made my countertop material.
Always dreaming of replacing the old, I went to the Wilsonart website to window shop.  While there, and out of curiosity, I looked to see if my 45 year old laminate pattern was archived. 
No, it's not.
It is still for sale!

Has this pattern come full circle or did they have so much of it stockpiled they decided to keep selling it until it's all gone?  Whatever it is, seeing it there pushed my thinking out of the trench it had been in.
I came around to appreciate this outdated part of my kitchen once again.

I still love that stunning slab of granite I saw in a Texas kitchen, with its vein of blue running river-like through it.  I love my daughter's butcher block counters.
There are many good looking surfaces to be admired. But mine is unique, and although dated, I think I'd miss it, if it was replaced.

So for now, the best counter tops for me are

"Autumn Lights Daisy" Wilsonart Y0039.

Groovy, huh?

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Connecting the sinking of the Lusitania and the memories from the Georgic.

I just finished reading Dead Wake by journalist and nonfiction author Erik Larson.
This nonfiction story is about the last transatlantic crossing of the luxury ocean liner, the Lusitania, in 1915.  Larson takes all the documented history and weaves it so that it reads like fiction.   He brings vitality to a cast of factual characters:

the passengers on board,
the crew,
the captains of both the Lusitania and 
the submarine, U-20, that sank it,
President Woodrow Wilson,
the secret group of Room 40, 
and the ship itself.

Larson elevates history from boring to exciting.
The first book I read of his was The Devil in the White City.  This story takes place in Chicago and reading it before going to Chicago on vacation a few years ago greatly enriched that trip.  This Lusitania story sent me on a journey of sorts, as well.

In 1950 my English mother and I crossed the 
Atlantic from New York to Liverpool aboard the Cunard Line M.V. Georgic. This was the same route that the Lusitania sailed.
Like the Georgic, the Lusitania was owned by Cunard Line.  The only reason I know the name of the ship I traveled on is because I have a menu from a tea party I attended while on board. 

The inward trip that Larson's Lusitania story launched me on is one of questions and reflections.  The questions will probably ever be answered, as my mother died 10 years ago, and my 94 year old father's memory is stuck on a few of his favorite stories.  (Plus he did not make the journey with us.)

There is not a single photo from this trip.  Can you imagine?  How I wish there was a snapshot of me on deck!  Or better yet, a picture of me and my mom together, sea breezes blowing our hair and smiles on our faces. 

We were in England for months and yet there are no photos of either of us from this time.  This makes me so sad.  The only thing I have from this trip is the tea party menu and two brief stories my mother told me.

I cannot remember my mother taking any photos in her life time.  I have no recollection of her ever having a camera in her hands.
In the photo-snapping times of now, this would never happen.
  No photos from such a trip seems beyond grasp.

There are so many questions I want to ask my mother.  Why didn't I think of them while she was alive?  (If I did ask her for details about her stories, she would brush them aside as unimportant.)
How I wish I would have been more persistent in finding out more about her experiences as an English war bride,
a young mother,
the early years of her being in this her new country, knowing no one other than my father,
and, of course, our seafaring adventure and visit to her family in England when I was 3 years old. 

I have already explored a little about the Georgic.  There is even a YouTube video of it.  And because I want to know more about this trip and my mother's early marriage, I may start digging into more resources.
I've heard you shouldn't live in the past, but it sure is nice to visit it. 

If photographs unlock memories, I'm glad I'll leave so many for my children and grandchildren. 

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A lesson from the chickens or easy caterpillar removal

If you are squirmy about wormies, this probably isn't the blog post for you...

 I love to learn new things.   I am open to any teacher, be it 
my 5 year old granddaughter teaching me an art technique, a formal classroom learning opportunity, or
my chickens teaching me how to remove cabbage looper caterpillars from my lettuce leaves.

Last week, being so preoccupied with keeping my lettuce comfortable in the 90 degree heat we were having here in Southern California, I neglected to notice that the big, beautiful leaves of my Black seeded Simpson lettuce were looking more like doilies than vegetables.  I started looking for the culprits.  There was the frass evidence that they were eating and digesting my future salads.   And sure enough, and although their green color matched the lettuce perfectly, I spotted them.  
Cabbage loopers.  

 Being an organic gardener, I began picking the worms off the leaves.  I put them in a box to be delivered to my hens.  Some of the lettuce was so holey, I picked off an entire perforated leaf, with the caterpillars still attached, and added it to the Nellie and Amelia picnic hamper.  I picked 62 of the little gluttons off 18 plants.   (Yes, I counted the smooth, green inchworm-like caterpillars as I plucked them off.  I wanted to tell someone about how many had been on the plants and I thought an actual number made for a more realistic story. Plus worm picking can get boring, so I needed something to keep my mind involved.)  

I delivered the box lunch...
and watched as the girls enjoyed their delicacies.   I also observed that the hens would pick up a leaf and give it a shake before eating it.  The shaking caused the worms to fly off and then the hen would run to eat it before her coop-mate could get it.  This process surprised me, because when I pick cabbage caterpillars off plants they kind of grasp onto the plant and then cling to my fingers with their hairy little feet.  I didn't think a hen head-shake would dislodge them from the leaves.  And how did the hens know to do this?

I was out picking more loopers this afternoon.  I thought about the 
method the hens had shown me the day before.  I  gave the lettuce heads a  tap-tap with my hand.
 Sure enough, the gentle ruffling knocked the caterpillars off the leaves.  They fell off the plants and onto the dirt where they were both visible and easier to pick up.  Teeny-tiny caterpillars I would have never seen on the plants were easily seen on the soil.

I like the saying,

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."    Kalam

It is true and I hope I will always be a student open to all teachers.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

leprechauns don't like our house

posted by:  jennifer

it is the day after Saint Patrick's Day... my youngest went out into the living room first thing this morning and looked around.    (just like she had done yesterday morning, and when she came home from school yesterday)

she came to the kitchen and announced "leprechauns don't like our house."  
I didn't say a word.
then "you know why they don't like our house?   because it's not clean, and so they can't mess it up."

when did Saint Patrick's Day get so out of hand?   I have never particularly like the day.  I hated the whole "you are going to get pinched if you don't wear green" shenanigans when I was in school, and still do. But I think when I was growing up, that is about all involved in the day.
By the way, my kids asked yesterday morning if I was wearing green.  I said no.  and then I said I don't like St. Patrick's Day.... but as I thought about it throughout the day, it is more I don't celebrate it.  

these days though, the leprechauns come into the classrooms at school, and overturn trash cans, leave green footprints all over desks.
I have heard that they even go to houses, pee in the toilet (did you know they have green pee?) and forget to flush.  well, that's the word in the hallways at the elementary school.

now, in all honesty, for a couple of years, I felt the pressure.  The leprechauns did show up here a couple of times... they sprinkled some glitter and left some chocolate coins.

but I think they have got the point.  this is not a good house to hit.  
and it is okay.  Because I don't think ankle breaking size holes, that have been covered with grass, in hopes of trapping a leprechaun, that are dug in the backyard (in the pathway no less) should be encouraged.   

so, long story short, if you want to keep leprechauns away from your house, keep it messy. 
thank goodness they don't like messy houses, because all I need is another creature reeking havoc up in here.