Monday, July 27, 2009

i knew a lady

If you're really blessed, there's a lady like this on your block. You might even be her. She's the comforting presence who feeds the birds, works in her garden and celebrates the seasons by giving you 'zinnias in the summer, candy apples at Halloween and cookies with red and green sprinkles at Christmas.' She waves from the porch as your school bus passes by in the morning and again in the afternoon. She knows the name of all the children in the neighborhood and even their dogs. I knew a lady like this. And I hope to be one, too. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five for Friday

For your summer weekend pleasure:

1. colorful quilts at the Mint Museum

2. 24 Hours of Booty, our very own
Tour de Charlotte race against cancer

3. guacamole made tableside at Cantina 1511

4. I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers

5. a great Sunday sermon at Christ Episcopal 
Church and a hot dog picnic on the lawn 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

here's to the classics

Remembering that Harriet the Spy ate a tomato sandwich for lunch every single day for half of the year. There was a juicy article about this culinary classic in yesterday's newspaper ( A great sandwich is about getting the details just right. So is a great book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

flowery July thoughts

A salute to the water lily, official flower of July. And to Claude Monet, who loved to set up his easel outside in the fresh air and paint them at Giverny, his home in the French countryside. Makes me wonder how many ordinary, everyday things in nature and in life we don't see for the masterpieces they are. Thank goodness for the artists and poets who remind us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

taking the cake

Paella party, part 2.  You didn't think we arrived empty-handed, did you? Of course not!  We simply took the simplest thing that would take the cake. A Tres Leches Cake.  Part sheet cake, part custard, this recipe came from my nephew's high school Spanish teacher years ago. Make it and muy compliments will be made.  

Tres Leches Cake

1 boxed yellow cake mix
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
1 pint whipping cream
Bake the cake according to directions in a 9 x 13 pan. Cool briefly and poke holes in top of cake with a fork. Mix evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk together in a bowl and pour mixture over cake. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with homemade whipped cream.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

on a wing and a prayer

You realize pretty quickly on that most of childraising happens on an angel's wing and a prayer. Of all the plush bunnies and sweet clothes and tiny shoes and soft blankets and monogrammed cups that heralded the arrival of a new baby in our house, this book remains one of the gifts most treasured. Katie gave us a copy on christening day and I've copied her countless times since. While the days of feet pajamas and reading aloud are behind us now, we join parents across time and distance at the end of another day in the world by blessing our own children and repeating after Rachel Field . . .  Bless other children, far and near, and keep them safe and free from fear

Friday, July 17, 2009


The neighbors threw a paella party last Saturday and I've been in a Spanish state of mind ever since.  Thinking of hot pink bougainvillea cascading over a stucco wall, the mysterious alleyways of Barcelona in Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which I almost hate to finish but can't start Angel's Game if I don't. Thinking of a terra cotta pitcher of sangria on ice with lots of chopped fruit on top, good guitar music played late into the night and my own madre, whose roots wind all the way across the turquoise blue sea to Majorca.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

summer still life

The view from inside the kitchen window on this Wednesday morning is almost as sunny as the view outside. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

collecting metaphors

Encouraged by writer Daniel Pink and choreographer Twyla Tharp, today I will begin keeping a metaphor log.  He defines metaphor as 'understanding one thing in terms of something else.' She calls it the 'lifeblood of all art.'  They both consider metaphor a key to abstract thinking and creativity. Time is money, life's a journey, illness as a wake-up call, the poison of hate, the balm of friendship.  I also plan to read Metaphors We Live By, the classic by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. I'll share some juicy examples here in this space. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

the opposite of multi-tasking

Children do not multi-task. This is but one of the millions of lessons we can learn from them.  I remember, in particular, spending summer hours pinching tiny crape myrtle buds to watch them burst into hot pink blossom. Like so much else in childhood, it seemed like magic. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five for Friday

So many fun things about 
the week, most costing nary 
a penny.  There was tennis
after dusk and a fun new game
that comes in its own wrapper.
There was key lime graham
cracker gelato, a peaceful
evening stroll through the 
Queens University campus
and a jewel of a book. Hope
you have a weekend full of
simple pleasures.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

time out for wonder

No vacation on the horizon? To thee I give:  morning fog, gentle rain, sailboats bobbing on sparkling water, lobsters and seals and herons and owls, the quiet forest with fiddlehead ferns, starry nights, a sudden scary storm, and other details of one sweet family's summer on a Maine island. Published in 1957, Time of Wonder is a timeless wonder. In poetic words and lovely watercolors, it reminds us to take time out for wonder. Even the kind you'll find in the pages of a book.  

Monday, July 6, 2009

how now brown cow?

Circa 1967. Sultry nights, Dunedin, Florida. Heat lightning flashing, cicadas buzzing. All summer long, cold comfort could be found at the Dog 'n Suds: a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a frosted glass of root beer, delivered curbside. The wood-paneled station wagon a family album on wheels, collecting memories like bottle caps. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

go find summer

The other day someone asked my friend how her summer was going and she confessed that she'd hardly realized it was summer because things had been so busy at work. Go find summer, the woman told my friend as she said goodbye. What a great rallying cry for the month of July. June passed by in the blink of a firefly and before we know it, the back-to-school sales will begin. Go find summer. And let it find you.