Saturday, July 30, 2011

The House that Built Me

I have mentioned my Gram & Gramp and their home, and the place they have, front & center, in the my personal history, many times. Over the last few weeks, as I have browsed through some old photos, and again as I composed "Where I'm From," a seed of an idea was planted & taking root.

I was blessed to have two homes as I grew up. I lived with my Dad & brother in the same house where my Gramp was born, but I believe I spent at least the same amount of time in my grandparents' home. It was the place where Dad dropped us off before work, when I hadn't already spent the night. It was where we gathered in the evening, after work & school. It was the site of holidays & weekly Sunday dinners. I spent my Summers running wild through the three & a half acres of grass & trees and riding my bike up & down the quiet street.

So many of my memories find their home here. I can close my eyes and see it all, even now, to the minute detail. The sights, tastes & smells. The way it sounded & felt. Each creak as the house settled. Each hiss of a radiator. The view from every window. But if there is one thing I have learned in my three and a half decades on this earth, it is that memories cannot be taken for granted. They can slip away silently, leaving sadness when the power the recall loses its vitality...or worse, when a memory is so thoroughly lost, we aren't even aware it ever existed.

And so, bit by bit, week by week, I believe it is time to capture & record it. I want to recollect, wander quietly down memory lane & let the images surface, where I can grab them & turn them into more pieces of my recorded history. All of these fragments that make up The House that Built Me.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

I Sing in the Car: July 29, 2011

Today's playlist:

1. As She's Walking Away - Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
2. Sparks Fly - Taylor Swift
3. A Little Bit Stronger - Sara Evans
4. Here - Rascal Flatts
5. Crazy Town - Jason Aldean
6. I Run to You - Lady Antebellum
7. Whatever It Is - Zac Brown Band
8. Back to December - Taylor Swift
9. Stand - Rascal Flatts

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where I'm From.

I am from clotheslines hung with freshly washed laundry blowing in the breeze, from half-gallons of Hood ice cream and Chevrolets.

I am from the white house on "The Hill," from the blue-and-yellow kitchen filled with sunshine and the scent of apple pie, from Sunday dinner after church and chocolate milk in the mornings and the scratchy red living room carpet and the yellow bedroom looking down over the backyard.

I am from the Mountain Laurel and the White Oak, the lilacs and the snowbells in Spring, the black-eyed Susans and the clover-studded fields of Summer, the generations-old apple trees and the fiery foliage of a New England Autumn, and the spruces and the evergreens with their Winter ermine wraps.

I am from annual road trips to Cooperstown and Christmas Eves at Aunt El's and two previous generations of Red Sox fans, from Steven and Mary and Mildred and Walter. From those who gave me life and those who taught me how to live it.

I am from the stubborn and the hard-working and the close-knit and the belief that homemade is always best.

From you'll crack your head open and come inside before the jackyls get you and if you take care of your things, they will last longer and say your prayers.

I am from the Lutheran Church. From confirmation classes and Christmas Eve Candelight services at midnight and Good Friday Tenebrae with the slamming of the Bible in a pitch-black sanctuary. From The Lord's Prayer and the twenty-third Psalm and the Apostles' Creed. From stern looks for whispering in church and sitting in the balcony with Heather M, feeling grown up.

I'm from the Old Country with roots so ambiguous they seem untraceable, from kielbasa and sauerkraut, from a country corner of the Northeast United States and a cellar full of home-canned jams, jellies, relishes and pickles.

From the Halloween when Dad made us laugh by wearing a fuzzy orange tail as he escorted us from door to door, the time Josh gave me chicken pox and he had only a few spots over a long weekend but I was covered from head to toe and missed two weeks of school, and the way we would pester Gram starting on December first until she dug the boxes full of Christmas decorations from deep in a closet.

I am from photos nearly a hundred years old now, cracked and faded and peeling, handed down to me with their shaky script on the backsides. From family stories that should have been recorded when the opportunity still existed. From comfortable traditions and a large extended family and real honest-to-God love. I am from their past and my past and memories that are priceless treasures.

I have seen this prompt circulating for years. I've always been drawn to it, but was too afraid to try one of my own, telling myself it would never measure up to those I read in the words of others. But then I realized that this is *my* story and one I cherish, one worth remembering and capturing and sharing. I think I could compose this post a thousand times, and each time it would be different. And each time it would be beautiful. It is where I am from.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Sigh.

A friend went in to have her baby today. I know these things take time but I'm anxious to hear that everything went well. It will weigh on my mind until I do.

sigh

A couple of other friends are going through what I will graciously call "rough patches." My heart hurts so much for them. And there's nothing I can do.

sigh

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion. The highs are as exhausting as the lows.

sigh

Today has felt like an eternally long day.

sigh

It's a very helpless feeling to watch someone you love hurting.

sigh

Seems as though nothing went quite right today. Nothing was horribly wrong or even a little wrong. It just wasn't...right.

sigh

I messed up the rotation in my co-managed fantasy baseball team. I really hate when I do that. Tim Hudson will probably throw a perfect game tonight as a result. You're welcome, Braves fans.

sigh

My head is full.

sigh

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Menu Plan Monday: July 25, 2011



Monday: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy and some steam cauliflower.
Tuesday: Cheeseburgers on the grill and Creamy Cucumbers.
Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole and a salad.
Thursday: (new recipe!) Honey Mustard Chicken and a salad.
Friday: Tortellini Florentine Soup.
Saturday: Leftovers.
Sunday: Leftovers?

Notes from last week's menu: We stuck to the menu. Leftovers were consumed so we had grilled ham, cheese & tomato sandwiches with tomato soup for Sunday's dinner.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Right Now: July 24, 2011

Outside my window... it's dark & quiet. It's going to be dark & quiet inside my window soon too.

I am thinking... the month of July has been a wild ride of ups & downs.

I am thankful for... a job, even if it wears me down some weeks.

From the kitchen... comes the scent of an Ocean Blossom Yankee Candle.

I am wearing... yellow capri-length pj pants & a green tank top.

I am creating... a stiff neck sitting this way.

I am going... to bed very soon.

I am reading... Atlas Shrugged still but that is no indication that the book is bad! It's long & sometimes I need to stop & reflect on what I've read.

I am hoping... things go smoothly for a friend whose baby will be arriving tomorrow.

I am hearing... ESPN. Sunday Night Baseball just ended & they are doing some MLB highlights.

Around the house... it's homey & comfortable. I need to stop & appreciate that more.

One of my favorite things... is when Tim Wakefield gets a win. Today? Number 199.

I don't understand... why people are so inconsiderate. It's not cool to use all the washers in the laundry room. I try to use no more than three at a time, even if that means doing laundry in multiple batches.

I wish... I had a long weekend. This past week at work kicked my tail.

A few plans for the rest of the week... watching the Sox (duh) and getting some new foam filling for the couch cushions--you may be thinking "big deal" but trust me, it is.

A picture to share... of a common view around here.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: July 18, 2011



Monday: BBQ chicken on the grill, corn, a noodle side dish and a salad.
Tuesday: Tilapia Parmesan Saute, wild rice and a salad.
Wednesday: Goulash, garlic bread and a salad.
Thursday: Brown Sugar Glazed Pork, rice and Summer squash.
Friday: Kielbasa, sauerkraut and pierogies.
Saturday: Leftover.
Sunday: Leftovers? Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches?

Notes from last week's menu: We ended up skipping the Stuffed Pepper recipe & went with some Hamburger Helper instead.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

I Want Wednesday: July 13, 2011

**I Want a Microplane Grater-Zester. The grater I have now is kind of awkward.


**And I Want this Microplane Paddle Grater too. Just because.


**I guess we're on something of a theme with the rough surfaces this week? I am intrigued by these files & I Want a set.

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Menu Plan Monday: July 11, 2011



Monday: Chicken and Dumplings.
Tuesday: Homemade calzones.
Wednesday: (new recipe!) Stuffed Peppers.
Thursday: Fettuccine Alfredo, salad and garlic bread.
Friday: Baseball game.
Saturday: Baseball game.
Sunday: Meeting friends for dinner before heading to the baseball game.

Notes from last week's menu: The Slow-Cooker Stuffed Cabbage was excellent. Not too difficult to assemble & very tasty.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

I sparkle.

Everyone keeps asking me if I saw it coming. I guess it's fair to say that I did, in a very general sense. But was I specifically *expecting* it? No. I think I had conditioned myself not to anticipate such events any longer. Nothing good had ever come from it in the past.

So on this sultry Florida morning, when the humidity already hung heavy in the air at 9am, when he mentioned stopping at a bench overlooking the lake where we were taking our usual weekend walk, I thought he was ready for a break, in the shade. (We've never needed a rest before--it's only three miles around--but as I said, it was a rather oppressive morning.) And then, I thought he had dropped something on the ground, though I couldn't imagine what. I was wrong.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: July 4, 2011



Monday: Macaroni Grill. We got a coupon for the holiday weekend that was just too good to pass up.
Tuesday: Crab Cakes.
Wednesday: Ham steaks, green beans and boiled potatoes.
Thursday: Spaghetti & meatballs, garlic bread and a salad.
Friday: Oven-baked chicken tenders, corn and a salad.
Saturday: Leftovers.
Sunday: (new recipe!) Slow-Cooker Stuffed Cabbage.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Snapshot From Along the Broken Road: June 2011

A photo of me:


1) Candle scents this month:
Drift Away. Blueberry Scone. Morning Mist. Eucalyptus. Honeydew Melon. Juicy Peach. Pink Sands.

2) What I am reading this month:
Still on Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand). It's long but excellent. Look forward to more most nights before settling in to sleep. When I need something a little, shall we say, lighter, I grab a magazine.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"Far Away," by Nickelback. "I Never Told You," by Colbie Caillat. "The Promise," by Tracy Chapman.

4) Movies I saw:
That would be none.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
I did some catching up on the dusty collection residing on the DVR. I sholud have made some notes because I'll be darned if I can remember anything now.

6) Something yummy I made:
I made quite a few things that were delicious, if I do say so myself, but I think the Sweet Corn Quesadillas stand out the most. They tasted just like Summer.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Ling's.

8) Five things I am loving this month:
PrimeTime OnDemand. Words With Friends. FireFox 5. Lightly Salted Lay's Potato Chips. Adrian Gonzalez & his picture-perfect swing.

9) A goal I had for this month:
Get all the old magazines recycled. Mission accomplished. The only magazines left are less than a year old. Not counting cooking magazines, but those are more like cookbooks & therefore useful. They are neatly filed away.

10) This month I looked forward to:
Some random days off from work.

11) Something I want to remember about this month:
I don't very much like myself when I get "internally off-balance."

12) A photo I took this month:

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