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31 October 2012

Homemade doggy treats!

With a house of three dogs (but only two at the current moment. Yellow Dog is off at boarding school.), it's always a challenge to find tasty treats that aren't filled with garbage that are also affordable. Too many of the dog snacks out there are just gross. And, in my quest to be domestic, I've been wanting to make some homemade tasties for the kids. I found a recipe for Pumpkin Peanut Butter treats (on Pinterest, of course!) and tried my hand at them last night. As soon as I started prepping these bad boys (original recipe found here), the kids were in rapt attention. It's like they knew that I was baking something for them. 

The recipe is super easy. All you need is:

- 2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 C pumpkin puree
- 3 Tbsp all-natural peanut butter

Add all the ingredients into your stand mixer and, using the dough hook, mix on low until blended. Once all the ingredients are "wet," turn the mixer onto medium high for a few minutes. The dough will be a drier dough and will most likely be in multiple large balls. Take the dough out and shape into one large ball. Roll out to a 1/4" thickness as you would cookies. I used small heart-shaped cookies that made about 1" cookies. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before letting the kids dive in. They'll be chomping at the bit!

They are so cute!

The kids waited not-so-patiently while the cookies baked. There was a lot of death-staring and whining and pacing back and forth while they baked. They were often standing in front of the oven and staring (which, of course, I couldn't grab a photo of) which was absolutely adorable. I've never seen them behave this way.

Pickles looks innocent, but he was the biggest whiner of them all!
Are they ready yet, Mom?
The kids loved them, but I'm curious as to how long they will stay "good" given that there are no preservatives  But, given that they love them so much, I'm not sure if that'll be an issue. 

29 October 2012

Flavored ice

Whoever thought of/invented coffee ice cubes is a GENIUS! I don't like coffee at all, but I do enjoy a nice Irish coffee or a Kahlua and milk now and again. Now I've got ice cubes to either cool my drink off or to keep it already chilled, and it doesn't water down my beverage! The coffee ice cubes add a nice little flavor to my drink. And now I have a use for the coffee that JD doesn't finish on the weekends!

My Kahlua and milk with little coffee islands floating around in it. 

Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake

JD and I have slipped into a nice little rythym around the house on weekends. At some point on either Saturday or Sunday, when we are making our "weekend" meal, I bake a dessert for the week. Our "weekend" meal is the one "big" meal we make each weekend. We usually cook it together, but sometimes we each fly solo in the food-prep arena. I always make the dessert, and said dessert usually lasts the week. It's always nice to have tasty homemade treats around the house. I've made banana bread, sweet potato cake, and a few other tasties. I'm a better baker than I am chef, so I seem to be running with my strengths. This week, I tried my hand at Banana Coconut Upside Down Cake. I happened upon the recipe on a website that is now suspended (what is that about?!), but it linked back to this original. It turned out pretty tasty. 

Be forewarned. This recipe actually makes two single-layered cakes. Feel free to half the recipe to make just one. I'll be doing that next time I make it. Of course, my colleagues enjoyed the additional cake when I brought it in to work this morning! We don't need two cakes just laying around the house!

Needed ingredients:
yellow cake mix
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup peanut oil (can be subsituted for other oil if there is a nut allergy.)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
5  bananas sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep 2 (8 inch) round cake pans with cooking spray.

Beat cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and sour cream in an electric mixer on low until combined. Switch to high and beat for 2 minutes.

Slice bananas and layer them evenly on the bottom of the pans. 

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and lemon juice and heat until dissolved. Pour half of the brown sugar mixture into each of the 2 round cake pans over the bananas. You may need to manipulate the pans a bit to make sure that the sugar sauce covers the bottom completely. 

Sprinkle coconut over brown sugar sauce. I'm pretty sure I used more than the specified amount, but I love me some coconut!

Pour cake batter on top of the coconut into the two pans. You'll need to use a spatula to make sure that the cake batter covers all of the bananas and coconut.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Invert onto serving dishes. You'll most likely find that some of your bananas stuck to the bottom of your pan when you flip it. This annoyed me, but it was a pretty easy fix. Just use a fork to replace them onto the cake top. It would have been nice if they had come out more easily, but it certainly wasn't the end of the world.

This cake is best served warm. Pop it in the microwave for a few second and dollop on some vanilla (or coconut!) ice cream.

The finished product. 

Sliced and ready to serve!

24 October 2012

Comforts of home

Ever since JD moved in, life has certainly been different. There are extra animals, extra stuff, and the extra attention that I have to pay to having another person in "my" space (although JD regularly reminds me that it's "our" space because he indeed pays rent for it!). All in all, it's been pretty great. I love having my love at home when I get home from work and having him close pretty much all the time. Of course, we both give each other the space needed to breathe, but it's pretty wonderful having him near all the time.

The best part of the new living arrangement? Cooking dinner together at night. Sometimes I'm baking a dessert while he cooks and sometimes we are both cooking together, but I love it. I love being in the kitchen together -- laughing and joking and talking and having the occasional cuddle -- while we make our evening meal. It always seems to taste better when we cook it together than when we cook separately.

Of course, the cooperative cooking does present a problem. Who does the dishes? :)

22 October 2012

The sun also rises

Here is the sunset at Carolina Beach round-up.  I took so many pictures in the span of a half an hour, it's hard to choose which ones to post. 

Fisherman at dawn.

The pier at dawn.

Birds skimming the waves finding breakfast. 

I love the layers of pastel colors. 

Peeking over the horizon.

Making a real appearance. 

That fisherman never gave up. 
Sheila, meditating at dawn.

Sun and sand.

Pitter-Pat Stories - A shifted voice

(Where we left off before.)

In which "Sally Ann" becomes Prudy ...

She heard the commotion of a knock at the door almost immediately following Mother's death. Black friends, the Bailor's, were there to call on Mother. They had just learned of her illness and the Grandmother had come prepared to stay and help if needed. The Grandmother had acted as midwife during the birth of some of the children and the family had exchanged home visits many times. The timing of their visit was fortunate because their presence brought a feeling of orderliness and comfort to the distraught family. Here were friends who could help make decisions and give loving affection to the children and take them into their own home while arrangements necessary and beyond their understanding could be made.
What a flurry of activity then took place. The doors to Mom's room were again shut and the younger lady waited with us in the kitchen while the men moved Mom from the chair by the table to the couch. I thought at the time that they must not do that to her because she hurt so much and had such a difficult time breathing when lying down. But, common sense told me that you don't need to breathe when you are dead.
And so it was decided the girls would go with the black family that night. Dad sent word with them to call the "undertaker" from the nearest neighbors and to send for the snow plow. When they arrived at the neighbors, the Johnson's, it was decided to leave Eleanor and Sally there for the night. Mrs. Johnson insisted and the girls were promised they could return home as early in the morning as they wished. The three little sisters continued on to the home of the Baylor's, the black family. Eleanor and Sally wished they could have gone to the Baylor's too, because they knew there were children of the same ages there whom they had played with the previous summer. The Johnsons had no children and the girls could not understand their desire to keep them so unexpectedly. But, the girls were pleased. They had received much attention that evening -all the children had.
When they were tucked snugly into a big bed with the pretty coverlet, in the best guest room of the Johnson's nice house, they talked over everything that had happened that night. They intended to stay awake all night and kept the lamp lit, but when they awoke the next morning, they realized they had slept after all. Voices downstairs and breakfast smells got them out of bed immediately. They wanted to return home, but were persuaded to eat a good breakfast first. Before the meal was finished, their oldest brother, Frank, who had boarded where he worked, came and thanked the neighbors and took them home. He said Baylor'S would be bringing the other girls home, too.
Once back at the house, Sally was dismayed. For some reason she half expected to find her mother there. The living room was back in order, window shades raised, steam kettles put away. I went from room to room and looked in-half expecting, not wanting to believe that Mom really was not there. And she wasn't there. What had become of her? When an animal dies --a bird or cat or woodchuck, it lies there -you can see it. Later you can even see it in the decaying process. I had never heard of a person decaying at home, but they always died at home. Our neighbor two years earlier had died at home. Her children knew it and told of it at school. She had been sick for two years -a lot sicker than Mom and a lot longer, too. What happened to a person after they died? How do they get to Heaven if they can't move? Did the "undertaker" take her to his place? Why? I had to ask someone. What was it going to be like now? Mom was not here. She was "dead". Dead things didn't move by themselves. Something must happen to them because they aren't around. I concluded the undertaker had taken her.

Someone, or perhaps several people, contributed information in the next few days about the process of dying and funerals. My two brothers, and the neighbor children who had lost their mother, explained that the "undertaker" gets the dead person and dresses her up in her best dress and puts her in a "casket" for a "funeral" after which the person is then "buried." Well, I had seen a dog buried once and dogs had buried bones and we had played at burying treasure and digging up buried treasure, so burying wasn't a worry. What I wondered about was whether the person felt anything or not. I guessed not and wondered about the "funeral" which Dad said we all would go to. I was told I could see Mom at the "funeral" and she would be pretty in her best dress and she would look like she was asleep. I was also told that if I was going to cry that I wouldn't be allowed to go. Of course, I wanted to see Mom again even if she was dead and that I certainly would not cry.
I didn't know that a "funeral" meant going into a room full of people, and being seated right up front of everyone. We could look at the casket and at Mom lying there all the while the minister spoke. And I wasn't allowed to cry, but my brothers were, and my sisters were, and my grandmother and relatives were crying. I thought a funeral must be a real special occasion because we only saw those relatives once a year. But I kept my promise and looked at Mom in her pretty dress all the while the "funeral" was going on. While I sat there, I realized she was really a dead person, because she had never looked like that before. It was comforting to know that she hadn't "gone to Heaven" before the funeral and that I had a chance to see her again after that night when I had "kissed her for the last time." 

Back on the board

My good friend Sheila and I packed up and headed to the beach this weekend for some paddlebarding and beach camping. I haven't been paddleboarding since the beginning of summer, and I was eager to get back on the board and see if it was anything like riding a bike. (Thankfully, it was!) Neither of us had ever been beach camping, and we were both excited at the prospect of it. The weather forecast was gorgeous for the weekend, so there was no time like the present!

We left for Carolina Beach Saturday morning, and our little neighborhood of tents was set up by 12:30 in the afternoon. We had beautiful ocean-view property this weekend. 

Sheila, chillin' at our camp site.
How awesome is this?
After we set up camp and ate some food, we ventured out with our boards. Unfortunately, the weather was a little tricky, and we weren't able to get as much time out as we wanted. While the sky was clear and the air was warm, the water was really rough. And, for two relatively new boarders, we didn't feel like going ass-over-teacup into the water.  After a little searching and some help from one of Sheila's friends, we were able to put into the sound and paddle, just in time for sunset. 

One of my favorite views. 
The weather was truly gorgeous. We couldn't have been luckier ... unless the water was smoother.

Despite multiple images of me sitting on my board, I actually spent most of my time on my feet. When I first learned to paddleboard, standing made me really nervous. Well, not actually standing but the motion of going from my knees to my feet. That's the time when you're most likely to take a tumble. This time, I stood up with ease every time. I was pretty stoked about that. 

We didn't get to paddle as much as we wanted to, but just getting out on the boards was great. It confirmed my love for the sport and my desire to start saving up for a custom paddle. Those babies aren't cheap!

After boarding for a little while, we made it back to our campsite for a fire. The sky was absolutely clear, and all of the stars were visible. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Hearing the waves crashing while sitting in front of a toasty fire was amazing.

Pier lights, moon light, and fire light.
Fires with Sheila and I always mean s'mores. And, this time, we added popcorn to the meal. 
Jiffy Pop!

One of the things I was most excited about this weekend was watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. I've seen it set over the Pacific and the Gulf, and I've seen it rise over mountains and skylines. But I've never seen the sun just appear out of no where. I've wanted to all my life, and finally, at 32 years old, I got to see it. 

Looking out my tent at 7am, I finally realized what inspired the poetic line "rosy-fingered dawn." This picture doesn't do it justice, but the sky was indeed rosy.
Looking out my tent door as dawn approached.

Out of nowhere, he rose. A tiny little red flame at first, but he quickly morphed into a red fireball. The few wispy clouds in the sky ignited with light. The wet sand shimmered in his reflection.

I sat in silence and watched him rise until he was high in the sky. It was awe-inspiring. I took over 100 photos with my real camera (these are all from the iPhone), and I'll be doing a whole separate post with them. I'm still in awe from it all. 

16 October 2012

A weekend of Southern cookin'

This past weekend, JD and I began to sort through some of his grandmother's recipe books and boxes. Being new to Southern cooking, I wasn't prepared for what I found. Tons of recipes with Crisco and butter and oil and cheese. Not that this is inherently bad, but it is certainly different from Northern cooking (if there is such a thing. Northern cuisine is far more ethnic and regional than Southern food). JD selected a few recipes to make for dinner, and, aside from his birthday dinner, I had my first typically Southern meal. Of course the meal involved some VERY cheesy macaroni and cheese and some very smothery smothered chicken. I lightened the meal as much as possible with some steamed green beans. 

I, on the other hand, am much better at baking desserts, Southern or not. I stumbled upon a recipe for Sweet Potato Cake, and I definitely had to try it. Given the recent change in weather, the autumn happening outside made this cake sound especially tasty. 

Ingredients needed:
1.5 C cooking oil (I used peanut because I love peanut oil)
2 C. sugar
4 eggs, separated
4 T. hot water
2.5 C. sifted cake flower
3 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1.5 C. grated raw sweet potatoes (about 1 medium sweet potato)
1 C. chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but I prefer pecans. I couldn't find any unsalted.)
1 t. vanilla

What to do:
Combine the oil and sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg yolks and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add water and dry ingredients alternately to batter. Stir in potatoes, nuts and vanilla. Beat well. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and then fold into batter mixture. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9" layer pans. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until done by cake test. 

The cake tastes fantastic and makes the house smell amazing while it cooks. I think I may try it with some cream cheese frosting when I make it again. 

The recipe came with a pretty tasty frosting recipe, but I couldn't get it to turn out right. No matter what I did, the frosting was too runny to hold to the sides of the cake. It tasted awesome, but I've go to to figure out  how to make it work. I'll post it in case you can figure it out.

Frosting ingredients:
1 12oz. can evaporated milk
1 C. sugar
1 stick butter (the original recipe called for margarine, but all I have is butter. That could be my mistake in the recipe)
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
1.5 C. shredded coconut

Frosting to do:
Combine milk, sugar, margarine, egg yolks, and vanilla in saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add coconut. Beat until cool and of spreading consistency. 

The frosting had a wonderful caramely flavor that wasn't too sweet and wasn't too bland. It complimented the cake perfectly. But I just couldn't get it to set! If you have better luck, let me know.

Update: We've discovered that this cake is even better a day or two or three after making it. It soaks the moisture in from the frosting and becomes incredibly moist. Very Yummy!

15 October 2012

Wha ... wha ... what? Whiskey tomato soup!

Last week I attempted to make soup from scratch. For the first time in my life. I'm much more of a baker than a cook (and certainly not a butcher or a candlestick maker!), but I had a version of whiskey tomato soup last fall in Annapolis, and I was eager to try my hand at it. 

After some internet searching, I happened upon a recipe that I thought sounded rather tasty. Of course, I made some modifications to the original recipe (as seen here), and I will certainly make more modifications in the future. I'm a bit of a soup snob -- especially since I don't really like soup -- so it's still needs a few adjustments to make me happy. 

Ingredients needed:
3 lbs (approx.) ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil, plus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (28 ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup Jameson Irish whiskey
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

The How-To:
 Roast your halved tomatoes first. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper over the halves. Roast for 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the butter for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Add Whiskey and Cream, and let simmer 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, use an immersion blender to chop up the larger chunks of tomato. 

Soup with no cream yet and some basil (which I deleted from this recipe).
Tomatoes ready to roast!
After the cream went in. 

The original recipe called for red pepper flakes as well as a large amount of basil. I got rid of the red pepper because it was definitely too spicy. I also got rid of a lot of the basil and only added some as garnish. While the original recipe instructed me to chop the tomatoes with a spoon while it simmered, I found the soup to be too chunky. And I like a chunky soup. I couldn't get them to break down as much as I would have preferred, so, the next time I make this (and there will be a next time!), I'll be using an immersion blender to break down some of those larger bits. I don't want it to be smooth, but less chunky would be ideal.

This soup is perfect for the coming fall weather. Especially with a big hunk of crusty bread ... mmmmmm ...

Fall at the Farmers' Market

I advise the "green" club at school, and last week we all piled into a van and went to the NC Farmers' Market together. The weather was a little colder than I would have liked, but, even on a Tuesday afternoon, the Farmers' Market had lots of goodies!

Indian corn! Or is it Native American corn? What is the right thing to call it these days?
My group with some rather large pumpkins. 
The purveyor of these pumpkins is clearly a mathematical person.
Look at those orderly lines!
I love gourds and tiny little pumpkins!
All these pumpkins make me want to bake a pie!
Imagine the pumpkins seeds I could roast with all these!!

The trip also proved to be quite "fruitful." I finished most of my produce shopping for the week while we were there. I picked up shallots, apples, onions, acorn squash, and a few other necessities for just $15! I love the Farmers' Market!

"For the last time." - Pitter-Pat stories

(Where we left off before)

And the story continues ...

It was unusual that Dad should be home so much and it was nice of"Old Dutch", the mill hand, to do the cooking for the family while Mother was sick. The children all liked "Old Dutch." He was not at all good looking, with his big, wide, mouth and bulb nose, and rather long grey hair, but he like the children and always talked with them whenever he was around the house. It was a happy surprise to them that he could cook and wash dishes and sweep, too. That was probably why Dad usually kept him at the mill -he could keep "camp" as well as help with the sawing. Dad usually stayed at the mill and lived in the shack -"Camp" he called it --during the week and came home weekends. The mill was set up on the neighbor'S property but the snow was so deep that daily travel back and forth was not practical. Mother usually managed alright at home. She could always send one of the boys, or occasionally Sally Ann, to the mill with messages or if help was really needed.
The living room had been off limits for the children for two weeks now, ever since Mother had become too sick to breathe comfortably. She had not slept in her bed just off the living room, but had caught naps on the couch or by sitting in the big high-back rocker as it became more and more painful for her to lie down. She gained a measure of comfort in the big rocker and with the reading table in front of the chair so she could rest her arms on pillows and sleep. The table also held the tall kerosene lamp and some medications. The big "round oak" stove now had its pretty nickel top ornament turned aside to accommodate the steaming teakettle which helped Mother's breathing. Even the kitchen stove now accommodated more kettles which, as they became hot enough, were removed to the living room to provide steam.
The door opened and "old Dutch" came out and quickly closed it again and went to the dining room to check on the children's progress with their supper. Sally knew she would soon have to give up her corner for one of them, but it had given her a measure of comfort to be able to sit there while they ate, and warm her feet on the hearth by the ash box door. She had not heard a word or gotten any satisfaction while listening for sounds from Mother's room.
It was after supper and Sally Ann was putting more wood in the stove when the doctor came out. He was tall and thin and did not seem in a hurry to leave. He shook hands with each one of the children and spoke to them and complimented Sally and "old Dutch" for maintaining orderliness and a quiet atmosphere in the household during Mother's illness. Sally knew that the hardest thing to do was to keep a quiet household, because there were so many children. The quietness of the moment was for the seriousness of the occasion, not from obedience; but she was glad the doctor had noticed and had spoken to each one of the seven children. Now, as the doctor made his way toward the door, Dad came out and followed him to the "entry" and the two boys crowded around also. The boys, Gene and Gary, could always get in on grownups business because they were older than the girls although only by one and two years. Sally wanted to know what the low conversation was about. The only words she could hear were "cold sweat" and she thought, "How could that be?" She waited because Gary would tell her -he always told her grown-up things if he knew any and so she waited.
As soon as the doctor left, the boys went upstairs to their bedroom and "old Dutch" helped Sally with the supper dishes. She liked that; "old Dutch" seemed to take a special interest in her ­probably because she was the oldest of the girls, and he treated her as if she had the understanding he expected from a child her age. Perhaps Gary would tell her later, it was not quite bedtime yet. No doubt the boys went upstairs to talk. This was unusual because the boys, being older, always got to stay up until after the girls had gone to bed. No use hanging around up there, they never let girls into their room or even left their door open. She would wait until they came back down.

Dad had gone back in to Mother and had shut the door again as usual. It seemed to Sally that those living room doors had been closed a lot lately -even the double doors leading into it from the parlor were not to be used. She could not tell if it was for quietness or some other reason that the doors were kept closed. Perhaps it was to keep the steam and heat in and the household noises out. Mother certainly required more sleep than usual. But, Sally noticed, whenever she came into the room, Mother seemed to be aware of her presence even though she did not change her position.

Sally did not like that room as it was. For one thing, the shades were drawn and the lamp was kept lit day and night. The room was too dark, the couch had been moved over by the stove, there was the smell of medicine and camphor and menthol. Whenever the children came downstairs, they were supposed to remember to turn right at the landing and enter the kitchen instead of the living room, which door opened directly in front of the landing. But whenever they peeked in, Mother's position never changed and they felt sorry that she could not sleep in a more comfortable position. Sally recalled a remark she overheard, that Mother had not really slept for two weeks. With this reminder, Sally did her best to be helpful and cooperative in the household so Mother could get all possible rest and get well.
One thing Sally was pleased about was the picture she had made to cheer Mother. Last Friday, at school, she made a picture of birds on a snowy pine bough. The lamp on the reading table was close to Mother's head and to shield Mother's eyes from the direct light of the lamp, someone had placed a piece of cardboard behind the prongs that held the class chimney. Now Sally'S picture was in the place of the piece of cardboard and it softened the light in the room. She hoped Mother noticed how nice it looked with the lamp light coming though the paper and how carefully she had colored the birds. Mother had once praised Sally for her artistic efforts and Sally hoped Mother knew it was she who had made the picture.
The younger girls were ready for bed when Dad and the boys came back to the kitchen. He had gone upstairs and brought them back down to see Mother. Sally had been unaware of this, but when she saw them pass her, she realized they had come from Mother's room. The boys were sniffing -trying to keep from crying, and Dad was consoling them as he led them to the dining room. Immediately, "old Dutch" took over for him and Dad hugged Sally and told her he wanted all the girls to come in and see Mother. She wondered at that and was about to ask why the boys were feeling so bad. She couldn't understand why Dad was so affectionate toward them and her if they were crying, because they only cried from punishment, and she instinctively knew no punishment had been administered or deserved.
Before she could say anything, her father said, "It's for the last time. You want to come in and see her." So she and Dad went into the room and he drew her up close to Mother's side. Mother did not appear to acknowledge their presence in any visible way, but Sally felt she knew they were there. Dad whispered to the girls, "Go ahead and kiss your Mother. Kiss her on the cheek for the last time. She can't talk but she knows you are here." And with that, he led Sally Ann up close and waited as she kissed her mother on the cheek and stepped back as each of the girls in tum did the same. Did he really mean "for the last time?" Did he really say that? He was so solemn and affectionate and different and tender in his manner, did he really believe that? How could he say that! Was Mother really dying? Was that why she had not gotten any better these last days? What awful words -"for the last time." She wished he had not said them. She was not ready for whatever it meant. Perhaps that is why the boys were crying. Well, if it was, she was going to cry too, even if she was supposed to set a good example for her little sisters. She felt like crying. She felt bewildered. She felt sorry to see her father act so differently than his usual assured self. Sally Ann could not recall the order of events that night. She remembered the children gathered around the dining room table with its big "hanging lamp" over the center. Everyone had been allowed to cry. The boys had returned to their room. 

08 October 2012

Looking down on the northeast

Flying home today, the weather was gorgeous. Never in my life have I flown into the Ithaca airport and seen anything other than snow and darkness. Happily, the autumn skies cleared as we took off this morning and made for some very pretty views of the autumn hills. 

The fog filled the vallies and made for a very pretty sight.
In the upper right corner is Cayuga Lake. I'm not sure what the race track in the center is...
I like this one. It captured the prop and the scenery below.
Yes. The airport at home is so small it only allows prop planes to fly in and out. 

So pretty ...
The farmland of central Pennsylvania.
Or, as I like to call it, Pennsyltucky. 
Contrasting the beautiful hills of home is the wonderful city of Philadelphia.
I prefer the hills to the soulless blocks. 
Catching our own shadow as we landed in Philly. 
I love taking pictures from airplanes. Except that it makes me look like a tourist ...

CNY autumn adventures

Trips to CNY for family events always involve people. Lots of people. Lots and lots of people. Thankfully, a good many of those are people I love dearly and don't get to see nearly often enough. Many of my closest relatives are spread out across the country, and special occasions (like big birthdays and other such celebrations) are the only real opportunities that we have to reconnect and see each other. This weekend was no exception.

Friday night, Carrie Bell arrived. We actually flew in to the same airport just a few minutes different, so we spent most of the evening hanging out. She and Mom even made "snow" at the kitchen counter. 

Momma and Carrie Bell. Note Carrie's bad-ass aviators. 
I got the opportunity to have a family dinner with my brother and his family. Since they are always busy with work and two growing kids (both actively involved in sports and activities , it's sometimes hard to coordinate schedules. Thankfully, this time we were able. 

Kiersten and me
The main focus of the birthday weekend festivities is the family hike across Pitter-Pat Road, which happens to be the road on which my grandmother grew up. It's not really a hike so much as a walk, and it's only about 3 miles. But, with about 50-75 people, it goes at a really slow pace. It generally takes about 90 minutes - 2 hours. Along the way,  found an old friend from my childhood ...
A wooly bear!!
Thankfully, the rain held off, and, despite serious cloud cover, the walk was successful and the hills were gorgeous. Perfect opportunity for a cutsey photo-op with my boo ...

While I was snapping photos at the toast, my cousin's little boy squatted down in front of me and said "smile!" I couldn't resist snapping his photo. What a cutie!

One of the best parts of the hike (and by "best" I mean "most memorable") is the ride there and back ... in the open beds of pickup trucks and the backs of mini-vans. It's not so bad ... when the temperature isn't freezing!

At least we are all huddled in close to stay warm...
On the way back to the house after the hike, we were assigned "stake patrol." This means we had to ride along in the back of the van -- with the van door open! -- collecting all the photographs and stakes that my mom and her cousins had planted earlier along the hike route. I'm pretty sure we broke a lot of laws that day.

Feet swinging free as the road zips past ...
Carrie Bell and JD were great stake holders.

Doesn't he look thrilled to be a part of my family?
I'm back home and resettled in to NC life, but I already miss home a little bit.


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