Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ruins are Relative

My camera used to be my eyes.... Lately, it has become my mind... I take pictures of the oddest things---- clouds, the soft gray mists of morning... a spout of rainbow steam coming from a home on dawn's horizon... Am I afraid I'll forget? I love to come home and see the still, frozen shot I didn't get to fully perceive... kind of like a chapter in a good book preserving all the action, saving the best views for the soul.... I'm falling in love with my simple version of photography. I realize it is flimsy, poor quality, even absurd at times, but it's still soothing to my frazzled soul.
My neighbors have moved out and passed away years ago. I drive by this home hundreds of times a year. I live within sight, yet I never saw it like this before.

Up close or distant, old things call to me.

A long time ago in my one room school, my teacher told us to draw things with character. She informed our classes about the "beauty" in destructive forces, the value of a broken fence in a Halloween tableau, and the hidden magnetism of a rotten porch... I didn't get it, and neither did my dad. He always hated the shabby chic look, the primitive grain of gray wood, and the splintery excuses for siding found in swanky "country-style" renovations. He was one for shiny, for refinished, for refurbishing until it seemed new enough to take pride in. That's why our farm looked beautiful while he was in his prime. He used to shake his head and sigh at the broken barns, and he'd shun the calendars and coffee table books that embraced them. "That old barn had a heart," he'd tell me.... "and it's broken." I believed him. Honestly. I believe him to this day. But broken hearts are the "stuff" of movies, of art, and of living this old life from the inside out. I didn't feel well today at school, and we were slated for yet another update of our CPR skills. I just knew that puffing on resuscitation Annie would make me hurl.... so I opted to use yet more hours from my precious stash of sick days. I came home...
Something about the weather, the renewed vision I'm blessed with, and the disappointment of trading in semi-free teacher's training time for sick hours... I decided to follow my heart and travel the back road home. And, of course, the ruined barns called to me. Ruins of old houses bereft of the breath of a living family inside, remains of old structures that once held fragrant timothy hay and stalls of draft horses... a proud farmer and a new baby calf... Kinda tore at my heart to see these skeleton shells. They are simply gorgeous, the kind of beauty that makes good cover stock for books about keeping memories, guarding our past, and treasuring our nostalgia.... But, looking at them now, I can "see" them in the eyes of my childhood trips with Dad and Mom. I rode horses in front of some of these. I spent hours in the yard in others. My best friend's grandparents lived in yet another. I could... and I couldn't imagine hot cornbread and stuffed peppers from the sights I witnessed today... but I could remember them.
But these.... these hurt. The last four pictures I took from the road along my dad and grandmother's land. This is NOT just another ruined wreckage. This is my grandfather's proud barn... gently collapsing and calling its last sigh. And here stands my dad's. Hidden gratefully behind trees, shrubs, and tanks. But it's there, and I hear it criticizing me for ignoring its potential and its heritage.
Worse yet, Gramma's smoke house. Did I sleep through the years since I used to tiptoe inside and grab her little tools? Did I watch this thing crumble and not care? Where were my priorities when I still had some sense? .... and some strength.... and some hope.?????

Eggs... an old fox once stole into this hen house and evoked the wrath of my grandmother. I don't want to imagine what she'd do to the old burglar called time.
Well.... no problems solved in this post... Just a spotlight today on the ticking villain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Did you get your post card? It came in the mail today. Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion's January issue is its last. I feel kind of like I've been left at the altar or something. I checked out the website and saw that in October of '08 they were asking for a new publisher for the magazine. Evidently nothing worked out. Times are hard, I guess. The rest of my subscription is to be filled with Martha Stewart Living. I like Martha, but that isn't the same at all. Mom's Country Home subscription was just replaced by Traditional Home. Goodness... not the same at all. I don't really like the switch thing without asking, "Do you want your money back?" I suppose that's the way things go, but really... What would my kids think if they walked in to find some rapper was now their teacher? haha.. Wait, don't answer that one... I don't want to know!

P.S. Where is the snow they've been blasting about? It's 2:32 a.m., and I'm thinking it's not coming. No snow day for the weary tomorrow.. haha.. Did you ever meet a bigger "kid"?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back to the Basics...

We discussed a major road trip this morning, and with the temperatures this low and whippy winds fanning some very rosy cheeks, we decided to just do "the usual" round the world (our little one) jaunt. We love to do the Columbus version... reach the East by sailing West. Off north.... to Bevier for our little stop at Matt's Market.

Mother calls in an order, and he brings it to the car. Freshest meats, lovely vegetables, smiles, diet soda... Cheerful, kind... Matt's simply the best little market owner in the whole wide world.... "Have a good day, Girls!" he sends us on our way...
So we travel south past our house down Highway 63 to a Junction restaurant called "The Crossroads." Small, cozy... today's special was fried flounder, potatoes au gratin, and Oriental coleslaw, hot roll... Mom got the special. I decided on a grilled chicken salad... Delish!
Then our usual whirl back to the East and later the North.... through Amish Country.... What beautiful blue skies today.... Can it be possible that the weather man be right? He's yakking on and on about snow showers tonight and all day tomorrow? These Amish homes all had wonderful woodsy smoke coming from their chimneys... They were busily doing their Saturday chores... I never take photos of people if they're close enough to see faces... but these shots seem respectful enough. We admire our Amish friends so much...

One room school... reminds me about 80 percent of the school I attended in Excello. We put our coats and boots in that little anteroom at the front.
Don't you love the shocks of corn? Everything around there was simply spick and span... barns electric red and fresh paint on sidings and fences... It was a pretty sight on a cold afternoon.
Came home for a little blogging, reading... maybe snoozing... It's 11 degrees... headed to a high of 14!!!! Heat wave... Have a great weekend.

We're off

So, it's Saturday morning with a wind chill below zero. And the go go girls are off and running. My mom and dad always went somewhere, and I know she misses those road trips excruciatingly. So..... on Saturday mornings we try to do something fun. (sometimes after a week of school my first idea of fun is to sleep in, cat around the house in my robe and drink Gevalia coffee)... but then, as my dear gramma said, "I get a better idea after that." So we're off. I'll take some photos of our morning and be back this afternoon. Have a super fun Saturday wherever you are... Check out this sign generator HERE. (I got this from Notes from a Cottage Industry blog today.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Survival of the "Meanest"

Before... Above, summer shot of Dartha... Below, winter shot of Dartha... Love that winter coat, girlfriend!
If you read my blog this summer, you met this duck. I call her Dartha because her face is a lot like Darth Maul (Star Wars and maybe not spelled like that??). I just love her because she's unique, she's a tail-wagger, and she makes Darth Vader noises all the time with kind of a wheezy thing going on... She's also the first to the car for her bread. Every time.

She's not alone. There are literally hundreds of geese on the lake this time of year. Part of them are on the frozen edges. The skies filled with wild geese at sunset, and I was just too enthralled to take a picture of them in flight.

But Dartha is mean. I mean, really, really mean. These guys don't like her, and she has no friends. I always thought she was lucky to be there time after time because she's so slow, and she is so laborious with everything she does. But let one little quacker take her bread or move into her quadrant....
She gives that quacker the stink eye... Moves in for the kill, and she bites and twists her beak with a mouth full of "feathery ruff." I saw one duck get the big bite on his neck, and he turned and ran from her. He was honestly getting out of there, but...

She rushed after him and bit him once more, twisting a bit of flesh from his side in her mean little beak. There. That's for next time if you think about coming in my quadrant. Ow... Dartha, Dartha, Dartha... What a mean little thing... But so beautiful this time of year. Look at her photo from the summer and see how the feathers have grown in all glisteny... but oh, so mean.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seeing double .... again!

Photo of the famous poster in Country Woman magazine, "You been farming long."

Okay, so most of you know I recently had eye surgeries to fix my multiple vision problems. I'm here to tell you that TODAY I had double trouble again.... but thankfully, NOT due to vision. Due, I guess rather to uh... brain malfunction? I teach high school English, and one of my students informed me there was an inappropriate message left on one of my bookreading blogger's logs... It wasn't actually left by my blogger, but since he forgot to sign out, some jokester decided to add something a bit embarrasing and untrue. I needed "Donny" to come in and give me his password. I saw him in the hall and requested he come into my room.

"I'm not Donny. I'm his twin brother, Danny, " drawled the ninth grader, eyes alight with fire and fun.

"Right. Get in here." I was not about to take that kind of joke on this subject. "You aren't in trouble yet, but you will be soon if we don't get this all straightened out."

"Sorry. Cain't." He grinned even bigger. "I ain't Donny, I told ya." BIG giggle.

Well, my freshman class had only about 14 boys, and I was pretty sure since I had them in class, I would have noticed another set of twins in there. There is one already!! "Stop fooling around and teasing me and put your password in."

"I sure would if I could. You'll have to ask my twin."

Okay, I thought of it. "Where is your twin right now?"

"In the art room." he laughed great big.

"Okay, go get him and both of you stand here side by side, and I'll owe one of you an apology." I said with the wisdom of Solomon.

He vanished only to return alone. He was really laughing at this point. "Mrs. W. won't let him come." He twinkled that cherub face framed with golden curls, and the solitary diamond stud glittered in his ear. I knew I had him...

"Okay, buddy. I know you are teasing me, and I'm pretty gullible, but enough's enough. I think I'd know if you had a twin," I was feeling pretty got-cha right then.

"Yep. I think I'd know if I had a brother." The boy laughed like his dad (who was a former student of mine, and I should have kept up with but I hadn't.)

"Where are YOU supposed to be if your "twin" is in art?" I was into interrogation now.

"8th grade."

"Aha... I suppose you are telling me that one of you is a freshman, and the other one in 8th grade?" I was absolutely sitting pretty at that time.

"Yeah. I failed 5th grade and got held back." He looked down, and I began to feel like a giant ... uh, you know ..... I excused myself and went sliding across the hall to the art room to see for myself. Yep. There WAS another one of those boys sitting right there... grinning, ear ring twinkling... yep.

I just wrote "Danny" a pass to his EIGHTH grade teacher with one word for the excuse... "Confusion." I'm pretty sure Danny AND Donny are laughing still.... Double-d -----over.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Apron Party

I'm having an apron party for my cousin's 60th birthday... Here's a sneak peek at the invitation cover... She knows about the party, but not the theme or the guest list.... We share a grandmother who was quite the seamstress, an apron queen, a homemaker, crochet artist, and all-round jewel. Here's the apron I purchased on EBAY. I'm having little favors of aprons tied on either beverage or lovely dishsoaps... and some tags, frills, and other vintagey little touches. All this at the end of February. I bought her a copy of Apronology magazine from Stampington... Wow! Amazing talent displayed in that magazine. Some of the aprons are sweet, and some are rockin' out!!!! Leather and lace. I know she'll be happy with it all. She's one of the kindest souls on the face of the earth. I can't wait!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No better place... or a retake on the "good news/ bad news" jokes from our childhood.

The moon is nearly full! ----- That's good news!
It's 17 below zero windchill! -- That's bad news!

But my car started this morning! -- That's good news.

Ah, but it pooped out this afternoon, and the starter went out. -- That's bad news!
But... the car quit me IN THE DRIVEWAY of my auto repairman (who also sells gasoline!) ----- NOW, THAT's GREAT NEWS.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Guilty confession

Okay. Officially. I confess. It is 3:42 a.m. No, I have not returned from a trip down love lane (although I hear the moon is scrumptious). I think there are three kinds of people in this world. Those who have fallen in love with THE GILMORE GIRLS, those who haven't seen the show with an open heart.... and those who are seriously smitten and would sneak away from their own honeymoons to watch an episode. Seriously. Do Luke and Lorelei get together? Shhh.. Don't really tell me.... But honestly... What have I been thinking? Was this show here all the time? Kind of like Cindy's blog MY ROMANTIC HOME? haha.. Thanks for the comment! Have a great Sunday....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shopping Warms the Weekend...

Oh, look what spoke to me today when I visited my favorite gift shop!!! Isn't it magnificent? I spotted it (with my new eyes the shop was a first-time experience, actually) way atop a cupboard. Ooooooh! I love, love those colors, love butterflies .... and actually love the idea and sometimes the taste of squash.... it's such an earthy, wholesome, country-folk food. It wasn't too expensive, and I still had a gift certificate from my birthday in June! I was set!

Then... these little items seemed destined to come my way... I mean, who seriously couldn't use a little light, a little hospitality from the pineapple candle, a little remembrance to dream, live, love, and have courage... It was a great little shopping excursion... and now it's time to make a big hot pot of vegetable beef soup for tomorrow's lunch... Weather down to 20, and predictions for cold and clear.... Soup's on.. Come over!

Isn't this fabulous? Randolph Mercantile in Moberly, MO!!! And the owner is even more wonderful than her store. She's a jewel!