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February 2009

January 2009

Had to share

I already know I'm going to have to go back and take another picture of this house when the light's not all wonky.

Today I got to drive around three counties all by myself and take 300 pictures of all sorts of things: a very old church, an historical site, and several insanely beautiful houses.

But, though my fingers are itching to open Photoshop, I have work I have to get done tonight because tomorrow night we're going out of town and it's getting late. We're going to look around at a few houses on Saturday and see what we can see. Nothing's definite, but maybe we can pull off something wonderful in the near future.

In the meantime, check out this house! I think it's nothing short of amazing. You can view it large, if you like.

amazing house

The columns holding the porch's roof up are tree trunks. I can't imagine anyone hanging out on the second floor balcony, but maybe they do. To the right of the house is a row of trailers and to the left is a lot of stuff.

Wow. I am intrigued.

More from my meanderings next week, plus I'm planning a book giveaway with two winners! I love when that happens. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. If you have a moment, leave me a little note here and let me know what fun things you'll be up to, ok?


So, I went thrifting

So, I went thrifting a couple of weeks ago and picked up this ridiculous hat for V.

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She loves it. Can you tell?

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I can't even begin to express how awesome she has become. She is so funny, and she's picked up a lot of our phrases, which makes me laugh. In fact, that's one of the phrases she's picked up. Today, she was looking at a book and she said, "Oh, that makes me laugh," only she wasn't actually laughing.

I do that.

She and R play this racing game online and when they win, she'll say that she served up the other racers a dust sandwich with a side of dust fries and a dust shake.

She got that from R.

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I remember being completely baby crazy before I had her. I couldn't wait to have a little bitty baby of my own to hold and snuggle and rock to sleep (ha. she still doesn't sleep). Little did I know how great three-year-olds are.

I didn't have a clue.


CPSIA: good intentions run amok

You may not be aware of it, but the choices we have currently for our kids' toys, books and clothes are bright,  beautiful and sunshiney, like this house.

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But on February 10th, the CPSIA may limit our choices to the point that they become dark, dank and dreary, like this house.

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Now which would you prefer? Don't know what on earth I could be alluding to? I'm not so good with the facts and figures, so please go read Sarah Jane; she says it so much better than I could.


it doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday

We walked out to the car Friday afternoon and, as V buckled herself in her car seat, I went around to the other side and put all the stuff I was bringing in the backseat. When I closed the door to go sit in the front passenger's seat, V started to cry - she thought I was going to sit back there with her. So I did.

I was hoping to knit in the car on the way to the botanical gardens, but I get dreadfully carsick, especially in the backseat. So eventually I resorted to one of the few things that work for me - I rolled the window down a bit and breathed in the fresh air. The other things that work involve copious amounts of chocolate and/or fried foods.

It was cold; my cheeks were immediately numb. Cold never bothers me, so I closed my eyes and watched the lights change colors from behind my eyelids as we passed by alternating trees and open spaces. It was then that I started to remember.

When I was 6, the neighbors said they would start taking me to church with them to leave my mom and dad only one child to deal with for a few hours. The Thompsons were an elderly couple who went to church on Saturday and were out to evangelize us. The Perrys were the neighbors on the other side of us who would occasionally take me on Sunday so we wouldn't be evangelized by that crazy Saturday church.

The Thompsons took a woman to church with them too, Miss Ruby Love, and we'd have to drive to her apartment and then to the church. I was miserable sitting in the backseat of that pea green Chevy Nova with no air conditioning and not allowed to roll down the window. I would remove the small metal ashtray from the handle of the door and stick my mouth down into the hole to breathe in the tiny bit of air I could get. I did this all the way to Ruby Love's place and then would spend the rest of the trip sitting up properly, trying to keep from turning the same color as the car so that Ruby wouldn't think I was a bad child.

Back in the present, we passed the church that the Perrys used to take me to on Sundays. Up high on a hill, the church has one of those Jesus Saves crosses out front. I remember Mrs. Perry discussing with the preacher that I had never been "saved." I was eager for their help once I found out that I couldn't go to heaven unless I was saved. I thought it was going to be some sort of elaborate ritual, and I was excited to be let in on the secret. It was disappointing when all it involved was the preacher putting his hand on my forehead and praying for my precious soul. When I told my mom that I'd been saved at church that day, she wouldn't let me go back.

Our route to the gardens also takes us past one the mills where my grandfather worked and his father as well. This was the mill where he started out sweeping the floors because that was the job an 11-year-old could get when his parents told him it was time to quit school and go to work to help out the family. The mill is abandoned, but the little mill houses are so very cute now, each painted in a different bright color. I'm fairly sure university students live in most of them now.

Finally, just as I think I'm going to have to request that R and I switch places, we turn onto what my brother and I always called Puney Road. That rank smell in the air is the cows and horses the university keeps for agricultural study. I remember Saturday afternoons at 10 years old, riding home the long way after church to avoid the gameday crowds with the car windows rolled down in the orange Ford Maverick, keeping my carsickness at bay while we three yelled, "Puney Road!" from one end to the other.

And then there's the botanical gardens, just where I remember it, midway down Puney Road. These days, whenever we want to get somewhere, I have to picture the end of the journey and follow the road backwards to our starting point. Often I'll remember a shortcut along the way and yell, "Turn here!" Or I'll narrate the whole way - here's the skating rink where Sarah broke her arm except I wasn't there that day, here's where Roses used to be where Leanne put Nair into a bottle of shampoo and a lady bought it! Very probably the same stories over and over again. But I can't help it because the rose garden isn't where it used to be.

When my grandmother was alive, she loved going to the gardens. We went all the time. This was back before they built the conservatory and the only things they had to look at were lots of trees, a trail that ran into a swamp area halfway through, and the rose garden. But I'm living here now, a stone's throw from this town I hate, where I can't bear to take pictures, where I can hardly stand to write about it, but with a million pictures to take, a million stories to tell, and they moved the gd rose garden.

In the light of day, I had the most wonderful time there at the gardens. It was something different for us to do and there are nice trails now and pretty new landscaping. We spent two hours there, letting sweet V run all her energy out. We loved it, can't wait to go back. As we walked to the car to go home, an employee passed us in the parking lot. When he noticed our Tennessee licence plate he said, "A long way from home, aren't y'all?" I have a hard time lining all that up with how I feel tonight, writing this at 11:30pm. How sad and frustrating it is to be home when I can't go back to the people and places I love most. I can only ride through a city that feels so empty to me, the window down and the wind tangling my hair as I try to keep from feeling sick, because the people and the places I love are gone.


C is for cookie, that's good enough for me

Saturday morning I got up, set V up to play for a while, cleaned the kitchen a bit, and made these cookies.

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It wasn't easy because most of my baking stuff is in a box at the storage unit. So I creamed the sugar, butter and peanut butter in the new blender/food processor we got a few weeks ago when we couldn't find ours and I wanted to make nice, healthy fruit smoothies with a big gob of spinach in them.

Then I mixed that with the dry ingredients in a pot (mixing bowls are also at the storage unit) and used my measuring spoons to scoop out heaping teaspoons of the dough.

Finally, I washed the food processor so I could turn around and make the filling in it while the cookies were cooling.

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You do what you have to do, right?

These were delicious fresh out of the oven, but I didn't think they tasted just like the Girl Scout cookies (as the recipe promises). Though when we ate the last of them this evening, they totally did. They had to settle into themselves, I guess.

So yeah, we ate the whole batch in one day.

Don't look at me like that; the recipe only made 15 - and we shared with my mom! Now that's some generosity right there.

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Seriously, we're not the only family who would eat the whole batch in one day.

Are we?!


Color in winter

I haven't bothered going outside with my camera lately because everything is so drab.

Lonely. Decaying. And cold - don't forget that chill!

It's kind of depressing.

So today I decided we should go someplace I knew would have pinks and greens and reds and fun textures - our botanical gardens.

See ... PINK!

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GREEN!

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RED!

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And definitely FUN TEXTURES!

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It was so pretty. And soothing. And joyful.

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Sigh. I'm so ready for spring! You too?

This weekend I'll share a few more of my favorites photos from the gardens, so please come back and say hi.


***
I'm entering this post into Julia's Hooked on Fridays. When you're finished here, please pop on over and see what everyone else is hooked on - or participate yourself. It's lots of fun!


Piloncillo

The other day, at the grocery store, I picked up a package of these. They were $1.46, and I got them basically because I didn't know what to do with them.

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They're piloncillo - "little pylons" of cane sugar. I found a recipe for Cafe de Olla that I really want to make, but I have to get cheesecloth. And the right coffee beans. And maybe some aniseeds.

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But I had a craving for cinnamon toast today so I grated up some of the sugar, buttered the toast, and sprinkled the sugar on without the cinnamon. I used the broiler, which caramelized the sugar a bit and was complete yum.

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If anyone is more familiar with piloncillo than I am and has a great recipe I should try, I'd love to hear from you.


Knitting: project four

Hats! For V!

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I've made V two hats - one is the easy peasy hat, knit from a pretty dark plum yarn that I got in a fabulous box full of fun stuff from Alexis. It's lovely and soft and warm and fuzzy. V loves it.

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The other hat I made with mercerized cotton that V picked out herself at the yarn shop.

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It took me all night to figure out that you needed to do a long-tail cast on in order to be able to join the yarn to knit in the round. But I finally had a light bulb moment, thanks to KnittingHelp.com, and now I am truly addicted.

Of course that doesn't mean Miss V would sit still long enough for me to put the hat on perfectly for a photo, but I still think she looks cute in it.

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If you haven't heard the news, R has found himself a job. And if you haven't heard us rejoicing from where you are, then you must really be busy. Just stop and listen for a moment - you should hear be able to hear us!

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Though I hope to get adventurous soon and try something like the butterfly hat like SouleMama's, the hat I'm working on now is just like the one above only bigger to fit R's noggin. It'll be a nice wool hat for R to take to Winnipeg with him for the week when he goes for training for his new job. And I'm also trying to finish that scarf so he can take that too!

Brrrr!


*Shey* [B] Giveaway

Have you seen *Shey* [B]'s etsy shop? She's making the cutest camera strap covers you ever did see. I want one of these myself.

Shey1

Shey is also one of my twitter friends. Lucky me, huh?

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Actually, lucky you! Because Shey has been kind enough to offer a giveaway here, on Springtree Road.

This one is my favorite, though the black and white one is probably more my style. I wear a lot of black. Maybe I should branch out.

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Which one is your favorite? Go visit Shey's etsy shop and then come back and let me know in the comments which one you would pick for your very own, and you will have one chance to win.

You can also twitter the contest and then come back and leave me a comment with the link to the tweet. That'll give you two chances to win.

And, if you really want to be a sweetie pie, you can blog about it and then come and leave me a comment with a link to the post and you'll get two extra chances to win, which will give you four.

Since Shey is such a sweetie pie herself, she tells me that she'll ship anywhere, worldwide. So my photographer friends in Italy, Australia and India (just to name a few), please join in! You can't win if you don't play.

I'll close comments on Monday morning, January 19, just as soon as I can drag my sleep deprived self out of bed, and then I'll announce the winner later that same day. So good luck!

(FYI...I submitted this post to Hooked on Houses' new feature, Hooked on Fridays. So if you want to see what other people are hooked on, check it out!)

And seven from me

I know I've been tagged for this one before, though I've forgotten by whom. But yesterday I was tagged by my friend Diana and I'd rather play along than work, so here goes.

Seven things about me:

1. I am biomechanically incorrect. I had surgery on my feet when I was five. They (broke and) reset the bones in my feet. That helped, but it didn't fix the problem completely because I am too flexible for my own good. Some people might think that it's good to be super flexible, but I can assure you that it's not as good as it looks in the brochure. I once had a doctor tell me that I am "biomechanically incorrect." Awesome! Thanks, dude! My wonderful husband calls them "show feet" - they're good for show only, not for actual work. I like that, for some reason. Makes me sound delicate and feminine. Or something.

2. My mother wouldn't let me pierce my ears until I was 18. It was a religious thing (on her part). This irked me no end. I wanted to wear giant silver hoop earrings - it was very important. Two weeks before my 18th birthday, I went and got them pierced. I thought she was going to be so mad! She laughed and said she was surprised I hadn't done it before. If I'd known that, I would have.

3. My favorite line from a movie comes from River's Edge. Ok, this is crass, which I don't normally do here. So if you're offended by foul language, please skip to #4, which is much more pleasant.

In the movie, Keanu Reeves is being hassled by his stepfather. Keanu tells him, "You just stay around here to f*** my mother and eat her food." Then, as the argument progresses, he yells, "Motherf*****! FOOD EATER!"

Ever since I saw that movie, the worst insult I can think of to lay on someone is that they are a food eater.

4. I really, really, really want a pretty teacup collection. But every time I see a teacup I like, I don't buy it. Just did that the other day Instead,I got some great things for V: a cradle for her baby dolls, an old suitcase, and a funny hat that I can't wait to take pictures of.

5. My nickname has always been Maya Papaya. People often say to me, "Hiya Maya!" as if I have never heard that before, but I almost always laugh at it anyway. I used to work with a guy who called me Maya Jane, which isn't my middle name, but I actually quite liked. I have also been told that I live in my "own little Maya world," but I don't think that was a compliment.

6. On my desktop, I have a folder called Salinger. In it are all the stories written by JD Salinger that were published in magazines but not in books that I could find on the internet. I haven't read them all yet, but I will. I'm savoring them. There are very few books that I care to read more than once, but occasionally I have to reread everything I can about the Glass family.

7. I used to be funny. Before I had a kid, I was one of the funniest girls you were every likely to meet. Unfortunately, being funny can come at a price (see the last sentence of #5). When I had V, I lost a lot of my funny (you had to be there). It tends to come out, though, when I talk to certain friends on the phone, so I know it's still in there somewhere. I hope it's waiting patiently for me to catch up. But I think a lot of being funny (for me, anyway) has to do with being mean and I don't like to be mean. Not too often, anyway.

***
You're always supposed to tag people when you do a meme, so I hearby TAG YOU ALL. So na-na.


Looking up

Last Wednesday, I was driving V to a playdate and kicking myself for not bringing my camera. It had been storming for days and the sky was amazing.

Off in the distance it was bright blue, with fluffy, white clouds high up in the sky - except that right over me were dark storm clouds, hanging low and ominous. It wouldn't have surprised me to get struck by lightning. All I could think was how this was a metaphor for my life right now and that I hoped that the cheerful sky was as close as it looked.

Not even a week later, and it seems that may be the case. I don't have final confirmation yet, so I don't want to say anything more than that, but things are looking up. You'll be the first to know.

In the meantime, I've been on a rollercoaster ride since we moved down here. One day, I'll be in a good mood and have great feelings of hope.

The next day, something small and unimportant will happen that turns everything upside down and all the bad stuff tumbles out.

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These tomatoes falling out all over the place just about had me in tears on Sunday - until I saw how pretty the red is against the gray. That's when I ran in to get my camera. I was laughing at the ridiculousness of everything in my universe before too long.

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I guess it's all in how you look at things - spilled tomatoes? or opportunity to take a short break from the daily routine and take a few pictures that make you laugh?

***
One of my photos made Shutter Sisters' daily click today - please check me out! Woot!


I want this (3 of 3)

This was my baby cup. Should be mine, right?

Nope.

my baby cup

I almost - almost - stole it. Just so I could clean it. And then I'd give it back. Yeah sure, I'd give it right back.

My mom knows me better than that!

***
Stay tuned if you're a photographer; later this week I have a really cute giveaway planned.


I want this (2 of 3)

My mom also has this most adorable creamer. She used to admire it at her grandmother's house when she was just a wee girl, and eventually her grandmother gave it to her.

I admired it my whole life, but she won't give it to me.

cat creamer

She's got some nerve. How am I supposed to put cream in my coffee now?!


Coincidence

The last time we lived here, five years or so ago, I worked at the newspaper in town, selling classified ads. One day Jennifer, a coworker from another department, came over and asked me to rerun her ad for puppies they were trying to give away. When I pulled up the ad there was a photo of the pups with it, and it struck me that the linoleum on the floor of her house looked just like that at my grandparents'. We laughed about how crazy that was, I placed the ad again, and then we went about our day.

A few weeks later, I came home from work to find our new phone book in the mailbox. I took it in with me and set it on the kitchen table. It sat there for several weeks, since at that time having a cleared-off kitchen table was not my highest priority.

Eventually, there was a pile of things on the kitchen table that I could no longer ignore, and so I began to put things where they actually belonged. On the bottom was that heavy phone book. When I picked it up, it slipped out of my hand. As I grabbed for it I caught one page, which ripped out of the book as the rest of it fell to the floor. It was the Z section, but what caught my eye was my grandparents' old address on Springtree Road printed on the page. The house had been sold a few years before when my grandfather decided to move into a retirement home.

When I looked at the name of the person living there then, it was an unusual, but familiar last name - it was Jennifer, who was giving away the puppies. That linoleum floor we laughed about was my grandparents'.

The next day at work, I told her that my grandparents had built that house and asked her if I could come and see the renovations they'd made. A day or two later, I went over to visit after work.

So many things were the same and so many were different. The pine paneling was still there in the living room and kitchen, but the carpet was different (good idea, that). In the bathroom, they had removed all the original tile and put up pure white tile. The original tile was sort of a weird tan/flesh color, so I could understand that too. They put in a fancier bathroom sink, which was good because the original one had the hot and cold taps separate - though I used to love drinking the sweet well water that came out of that cold faucet after I brushed my teeth.

The whole time, I wanted to cry with gratitude for the things they kept the same and cry for the loss I felt at the things they changed. Jennifer chattered away the whole time about how they'd painted this or how it was a pain to get rid of that. Her words fluttered around my head, but I couldn't hear them. I could barely breathe. Then we went into my grandmother's bedroom.

They had taken the dated paneling off the walls and painted the bumpy plaster. There was a bed in the corner so that it filled the room diagonally (if that makes sense), which Grandmama had done as well. They had a dresser and that's about it; it's a small room. All that was fine, it was cute, even. It didn't bother me. But when I looked at the closet - they had kept the original door and the doorknob. Plain brown-stained, wood door, simple metal doorknob. Jennifer invited me to look inside and, as my hand reached for the doorknob, time and space blurred and I was 10 years old, sneaking into Grandmama's closet to steal a stick of Juicy Fruit out of her purse and try on a pair of her shoes from the 60s.

Grandmama didn't like me to go in her closet, but sometimes I snuck in anyway. I'd close the door in case she came into the room. I'd pull the chain to turn on the light and go through the few fashionable clothes she'd saved from years before. I'd put on the garish-colored lipstick she kept in her purse. Sometimes, if I was positive nobody was around, I'd come out and look at myself in her full-length mirror - lipstick more or less on, walking clumsily in too-big heels. If she caught me in there, she'd shoo me away, acting like she was mad though I don't think she really was.

As I turned the doorknob, the scent of the closet hit me immediately. They could've completely gutted that entire house but no way could they ever rid themselves of the scent of that closet. I can't describe it other than to say that the smell was the combination of musty and dusty with a dash of perfume from 1965. It almost knocked me off my feet, almost sent me crawling into Jennifer's bed like I did when I was 10 and my hamster died - rolled up in a quilt in Grandmama's bed, crying the afternoon away, positive that nothing was ever going to be the same again.

At that moment, Jennifer's husband arrived home from work. I was relieved to rush out of my grandmother's room and back to the kitchen to meet him, where at least the visions of cold, winter mornings warming up in front of the stove while the bread toasted and 30 Thanksgiving dinners couldn't accost me with their actual scents. Wes was immediately in tune with how I felt about the place and how I was feeling at that moment. His parents had bought the house from my grandfather, and he lived there with a roommate while he was in college. Then when he married, the roommate moved out and Jennifer moved in.

Wes was very kind. Jennifer was nice too, but she didn't seem to realize how emotional all of it was for me. I didn't stay long after that. I really just wanted them to leave and for me to have the place. I always meant to have that house, to buy it from my grandfather. Though I never want to live in that town again, I still want that house. I will always feel as though it belongs to me.

At Christmas this year, my brother was in town, and he drove by the house on Springtree Road. It's been sold again and now a family lives there. The back is fenced in now and there are kid's toys in the yard. This is as it should be. If I can't have the house, then a family should have it. I hope they're so very happy there. I hope they can feel what a happy home it always was for me.

***

As you can probably tell, I'm quite hooked on nostalgia. So I'm entering this post into Hooked on Fridays at Julia's blog. If you want to know what other people are hooked on this week, check out the other sure-to-be-fabulous posts. And if you're here from Hooked on Houses, please take a moment to say hello if you can. I'd love to hear from you.


My quest for blog domination

My first blogging anniversary will be coming up on January 31st and I have had a great first year here at Springtree Road. I so appreciate all the comments and emails I've had from all of you who have been kind enough to visit me this year. You all really make my day, over and over again. And I want to make 2009 even better. With all the social media - and information on social media - out there, I figured I'd have some fun with it. I've already been twittering for a while, so please follow me if you like and I'll more than likely follow you back (I tend not to follow people who are just there to promote weird marketing websites I don't understand, but other than that, I follow most everyone who follows me).

The first new thing I've done for 2009 is to get my own domain. So you can tell all your friends it's now http://www.springtreeroad.com. There have been a few troubles along the way with my feed, so if you run into anything, kindly let me know.

Also, I joined Facebook a while back but haven't touched it again until last night. If you want to friend me on FB, that'd be supercool. And you can also join my network on FB. When I get 20 followers, my blog feed will appear there, which would be cool. I know I can put it there manually, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. I have so many ideas for things I'd like to do online, but not the time to really get them going or figure out how to implement them correctly.

The next item in my quest for blog domination (ha!), is my second New Year's resolution, which is to open an Etsy shop. You can go there - heck, you can even heart me - but the shop is empty at the moment. I have a few things on my to do list, as you can see.

I think that's it for now! Anything I missed? Anything you're doing that's really fun and worth the time that I should be doing? Any questions for me? Please let me know.

Coming up this month, I'll have some musings on how I learned what I know about photography, an awesome children's book review, another in the series of houses I have lived in, some photos from my new Diana camera that I suppose I won in a contest but really feel like it was a gift from a friend, plus the usual ramblings.

Later, tomaters.


What's up on Saturday

Sometimes you're itching to take photos and the weather just isn't cooperative. Like today. It's gray outside, but not raining. Sometimes that makes the light good. Sometimes not. Today? Not.

R is around and about doing manly things involving plumbing, and V and I have been a bit bored today.

So we went outside.

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V played on the tractor again and I spotted this bit of rusty metal.

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Then we played under the cedar tree and I found moss growing there.

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But mostly I followed V around as she explored.

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And when we got tired of doing that, we went for a drive.

When I lived here before, 4+ years ago, I didn't have a camera. But now I drive around and see all my favorite old houses and I can take their picture and it makes me very happy. (Except on the days when the light is flat and I can't get a good one.)

This house is one of my favorites.

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I also went and took a photo of the house I think my great-grandfather may have helped build.

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I'm really not sure, though. I remember my grandfather telling me that his father built it, but when I asked my mom about it she didn't know what I was talking about. It is in the area where they lived when they moved to town, so who knows now? But really - three fireplaces!

Now we're home and up to no good - we're watching Schoolhouse Rock and I'm drawing with an ink pen all over V. I haven't seen the sun all day and it's getting grayer and foggier out there. Finally, the clouded sun will go down, we'll have some sort of dinner I haven't imagined yet, V will go to bed, and R and I will snuggle up with a movie.