Monday, June 30, 2008

And now for the photos...


All packed up and ready to go.


Woof Woof! Slobber.


I think I was on an animal theme.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Very Fun Day

In which I forgot to take my camera.


Oh well. I'll just have to do the next best thing, and tell you about it. Sorry!

My pal Beth (aside: I call her Sadie Beth, and she calls me Maggie Jo. Long story) and I, and our 3 girls, all went to Blowing Rock yesterday. I told Beth, who had never been to North Carolina before, that she MUST see some mountains. She has lived her life in L.A., Lower Alabama that is. Must have mountains.

Blowing Rock was wonderful. I love these little mountain towns. I'm sure they used to be sleepy and full only of locals, even in June. No more. This town is somewhat similar to Brevard, or Highlands. I was especially impressed with the centralized city park. It was well kept with lots of swings and play things for the kids, a central gazebo, restrooms, and the benches -- ah, the benches. There must have been a dozen benches just on the front edge of the park alone, end to end, where tired adults, toting their shopping treasures, could sit and gaze upon the traffic on the 2-lane road, and snicker at the new shoppers who'd just taken their places in the stores.

Many restaurants dot the main drag. We scoped it out ahead, and asked some locals, and narrowed it down to Sonny's Grill or Knight's on Main. I believe Sonny's is the local grill after which Jan Karon modeled the Grill in her fun books. But Sonny's has only 3 tables, so we opted for Knight's. It was delicious (as in, fried chicken salad, grilled cheese, chicken salad, chopped steak and a fried flounder sandwich. If you can't hear my lips smackin', you're not listening!!)

We did shop, my, did we shop. We considered ourselves training up the little girls into the shoppers they will become. What did I buy, you ask? 1) A little white creamer in the shape of a cat with its paw raised. I'm a sucker for little pitchers. 2)A happy surprise for my mom. (DON'T TELL HER, but it's an adorable tea towel with Corgis on it.) 3) A camouflage bandanna for Peter. 4) A yard ornament for the patio. I'm gradually looking for pretty things for the yard. This is a citronella candle holder, about 3-4 feet tall, on a stem, and the top is shaped like a bird's nest with 2 little birds on it. I bought Julia a little glass figurine, a black/white cat. I told her I used to collect a few glass figurines in my youth, and when we got home I gave her my few, so she has a budding collection.

Adam got a bag of Boston Baked Beans (the candy) from Mast General Store.

But Anna got the sweet deal. One store had fun fabric bags on sale. They looked like Vera Bradley, minus the price tag that scorches your fingers. They were buy-one-get-one-free. She picked out a BIG bag - a zippered suitcase for $35. She chose a lovely shoulder purse for free. She used a $25 gift card. She ended up paying only $10.22 for both of them. Sweet, as the teens say.

Many of the buildings are old, gray stone. The small town hall and library are right there, and a tiny Blowing Rock Museum. The stores are small and quaint, pricey but pleasant. Garden stores, galleries, camping, housewares, realty. The ice cream/candy store fills half of Main Street with an aroma that drags you through its doors. They have slabs of marble with thick ropes of bulging, nutty chocolate. We got ice cream, but I kind of wished that I could start on one end of a slab of chocolate, and Beth could start on the other end, and we could race for the middle.

The day was lovely. Tall, puffy clouds, and clear blue sky. In mid-afternoon, large raindrops fell for a few minutes. Shoppers huddled under the friendly store canopies. One lady glanced at the sky and said to Beth, "The devil is beating his wife." Beth added, "With a pickfork." This is an old, strange Southern saying to describe sunshine mixed with rain.

Just outside the last shop, I heard a man say to his friend, "I've gotta get in that store and get my wife outa there!" I thought, 'Hm, sounds like my kind of place.' And it was. Ladies were clutching finds and jostling for space in front of the register, with big smiles.

When we arrived at home, this is what Adam, The Injured One, had prepared for supper. They were warm and delicious. Those are his homemade baguettes, by the way.

That's five feet of sandwich.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Our fun

We have more fun company! This is Beth, a friend from Alabama. Adam is holding up his finger. You'll see why...
Tada! He's done more work on the oven. See the new arch above the white area? And the red brick that is rising on the front? It's lookin' good! A friend came over today who is a brick mason, and he gave it the okie-dokie :) He tapped all over it with a trowel and pronounced it sound.
Adam dropped a brick on his finger from about 4 inches up. Ouch! He's been holding his finger up in the air all evening. He looks continuously like he is on the verge of some wise saying.
Anna did not want her picture taken, so I got a great shot of her lovely hair.

Philip was VERY helpful to his wounded Daddy. He served as his sous chef, and is doing the dishes too. It takes a real man to wear a red bowtie with a flowered apron (made by his mother :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Manipulator

So, you moms out there will be able to relate to this. A little late, I decided that I was NOT satisfied with only 4 of us going to Music Conference this year. I REALLY wanted Anna and Philip to go too. And when a Mama REALLY wants something, watch out!

First I called their Mission Trip/Youth Director. They were due to return from their mission trip AFTER we had already left for Music Conf. I wondered how much of a time overlap there would be. Well, come to fine out, she said they were thinking of returning over a day early.

So my two kids would be HOME already, when we left for Music Conf. Hm. First obstacle overcome.

And Anna for sure could go. Now, to work on Philip.

(Anna was, of course, disappointed. She was looking forward to a full week of freedom, basically alone in the house, with the parents gone. Ha! Not so fast, little teen!)

Philip was trickier. He didn't go last year. After the conference last summer, I so regretted that he didn't go. He has a lovely voice and reads well. And this is probably the last family vacation we will have, before he goes off to college. Next summer? Just a few weeks before college, there's little chance he'll have time for a week of singing.

So, I called his boss. And she seemed agreeable. She still hasn't called me back, but I've very hopeful he will be able to have that week off too, even after the week off for the mission trip.

(It helps that she's a colleague of mine, and her son is Philip's best friend.)

Then, I had to call my church choir director, the guy who registers us all for the conference, and, er, had already secured our housing for the week.

"Hi, Jim. The good news is that 2 more kids can go to the conference. The bad news is that I need for you to find them a place to sleep for the week."

He said he didn't think it would be a problem -he'd work it out.

I feel manipulative, but very satisfied. Is that bad?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Aftermath of Yesterday

Our neighbor to the west has been blowing leaves off his roof, and around his yard, for hours. Everything was covered in leaves after the hail. Adam still needs to check our roof to make sure there was no damage to it.

I just woke up from a nap. Adam takes about 2 naps a day. I feel as if I'm purposely trying to recover from the school year, and rest myself for the onslaught of the fall. Not that teaching isn't great, but it's very emotionally and physically draining; it's a constant grinding uphill.

Adam and I have finished the first week of our online class we're taking to keep up our accreditation for teaching. My summer reading continues steadily. I finished Robinson Crusoe this morning and have begun The Great Gatsby.

Yesterday Julia finally got her retainer. This is a rather specialized retainer, because it is moving her teeth, particularly her 2 front teeth. It is moving one of them forward, and also moving them together, to fill in the gap. Today her teeth are sore and she's weepy.

I'm staying ahead of the laundry, staying ahead of the reading, developing a nice tan, and in the early stages of planning a trip to England for myself and a goodly number of students, next January. England in January. Doesn't that sound cold?

Our little weather event:

Hail hath no fury...

Here are some more pics of our storm:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Even hail has some beauty

Our patio was covered in a blanket of leaves.
The sun shone through immediately, the ice on the warm ground produced instant mist and fog, the effect was magical.
Adam's oven stands, an 8000 pound bulwark, immune to harsh weather.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Two Recommendations

A book recommendation: Robinson Crusoe by Defoe. Okay, okay - I know I called it a "boy book" and turned my nose up at it for years. But I've gotta tell you - this is a great book! Yes, it's well written (it's Defoe, duh, our first novelist), and it's a page-turner. I love that I really knew next-to-nothing about this novel before reading it. I knew that some man was stranded on an island, and that at some point he acquired a side-kick named Friday. That was it. So I've thoroughly enjoyed all the little plot developments.

However, that's not what this book is about. This is the story of a man's spiritual journey and the huge spiritual lessons he learns along the way. Since many of my reader-friends out there are devoted Reformed Christians, as I am, then I'm TELLING YOU - you must read this book! I was continually refreshed by hearing the man tell of God's guiding providence and superintending of all things, of his learning to trust in God's acts, even when they appear to bring his misery, of his coming to repentance and absolute trust in God's governance of his life. It is a theological marvel. And all these years it's just had a reputation as a fun little island adventure.

Here's a snippet: "How strange a Checker-work of Providence is the Life of Man! ... I considered that this was the Station of Life the infinitely wise and good Providence of God had determined for me, that as I could not foresee what the Ends of Divine Wisdom might be in all this, so I was not to dispute his Sovereignty, who, as I was his Creature, had an undoubted Right by Creation to govern and dispose of me absolutely as he thought fit."


Talk about a great worldview book. I kid you not -- I have about 35 copies of this book in my classroom, gathering dust. Gather dust they will not do any longer. I can't WAIT to pull them out, slap them on the unsuspecting students' desks, go over Woolf's Introduction (and I told you about the good stuff, but not the bad...), and turn with them to passages in the novel that flatly refute her pagan assessment of the novel's contents. What fun!

A movie recommendation: Bella

Adam and I watched this wonderful movie last night. It was available to us on Netflix to watch at home on our computer. Netflix makes it so easy. But if you have access to this movie, please do watch it. First of all, it is SO clean: I could recall nary a curse word in it. There is no sex scene - I think not even a kiss. Perhaps a little hand holding. It's rated PG-13 because in the course of the story (actually, it's a flashback in the movie), a little girl is hit by a car and killed. But they do not show the gore of this event; it's just sad. The main female character finds out she's pregnant (she's not married) - this is essential to the great plot. But the movie focuses not on how she got pregnant, but on what she will do with the baby. If you're pro-life, this is a wonderful flic. It's a tear-jerker, but in a good way. It won People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. It's one of those low-budget, under-the-radar, foreign films (well, kind of foreign) that ends up being fabulous.

In which the hubby works tirelessly

Here is a blow-by-blow account of the finishing of the fire-box. Adam covered it in heavy-duty tin foil. He also placed chicken-wire as a reinforcement. He built a wooden frame to go around the fire-box. Some of this frame he covered in black roofing material also, to make it a solid surface.
Then he mixed concrete. He poured the concrete between the fire-box and the frame, to surround the fire-box with concrete. Later, he will take the frame away.
And he mixed concrete. And he mixed. And mixed. He mixed and applied 16 bags of concrete today. He is REALLY worn out! (And he has to preach tomorrow.)
He filled concrete in the sides, and then smoothed it over the top also. This will hold the heat in the fire-box, for a good hot oven.
And of course, no concrete job is done until the creator leaves his signature in it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ugh!! I've got SLUGS in the house!

Whoops - no - sorry, it's only the children watching TV. :)

Two handfuls

Just look at my hydrangeas!! These are the ones that were surrounded and choked by azaleas when we moved here. Then we dug them up and moved them to a new location last November. They've done beautifully - and look at the size of that bloom :)

Here's another lovely handful: the rolls Adam made for supper last night. They were buns for hamburgers, but I always prefer them as a simple roll, with butter.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chess on the patio

On this cool June morning, Adam and Peter thought they'd practice a little chess.
Lacey says it's even cool enough outside for her.

We did have unusually hot weather a week or so ago, but we are now compensating. It was only 69 degrees at 9:30, and we don't have the AC on right now. The kids were cold in the pool yesterday. I love this weather!

A little death, a lot of life...

R.I.P.: The pump for our pool died. Boo Hoo! We looked in 3 different WalMarts for a replacement, for a week, and couldn't find one. Adam finally ordered one online. He's been maintaining the pool water quality rather well without it, I must add. I tell him he ought to look into being the "cool pool guy" as an alternate profession :)

And the kitchen faucet handle died too. We had to buy a whole new faucet assembly, just to get a new handle. Sigh.

And Adam's sweet peas, which he grew from seed and babied along, just never could make it. They dried up and withered away, no matter what he did. My mom has sweet peas that she can't keep down! We'll probably just stick some begonias in these hanging baskets now.

On the brighter side: It turns out our 2 apple trees in the backyard are NOT crabapples! My brilliant brother has identified them as probably either red or golden delicious. They are ripening up well, and this year they don't look Crabby at all! Maybe our lack of water last year made them so small and ugly.
And these sunflowers? They're not the short variety after all. 7 feet tall, for goodness sakes!

Our tomatoes are doing lovely as well. Here are our cute little Romas; a few are turning red already.

Sorry I couldn't turn this photo for you. I had to take it sideways, because the tomatoes are getting so tall!

And my fig tree/bush is finally making a recovery!! I'm so excited - I thought it would NEVER come around. I wonder if I'll get fruit this year?

Adam's work on the oven progresses. As you see, now he's done another, smaller, arch in the front. Where the wooden support is, that's where the oven door will go.

And he's closing up the back of the oven box as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hostas: Happy, or Not

This is my favorite hosta. I like the dark, bluish ones. This one has deep green in the middle, and the outside color is almost lime green. It's blooming now!
A side shot of the lovely hosta. However, not all my hostas are this happy...
This poor hosta, and many more like him, were large and lovely, until the heat and full sun oppressed them. It took me awhile to transplant them, and much damage was done to the leaves first. Poor things! But they were unexpected volunteers.
So, I moved them into the shade of the front yard. I have 8 nice clumps like this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Tasteful Experiment:

While perusing one of Adam's wonderful Julia Child cookbooks, I came across this recipe. I murmured, "yummm." Of course, that's all it takes for our resident chef to whip out his sharp knife and springform pan!
See those luscious layers? Black Forest Ham, fresh spinach, red peppers, scrambled eggs . . . Tammy and I each had 2 slices for lunch.
Thank you, dear :)