Sunday, April 24, 2011

Get Thee to the Woods vol. 25: Grandma's Easter Garden

I have always been forgetful. Almost every time we go on a trip, whether for a day, a weekend, or a week, I manage to forget something. I have been known to make Joe turn the car around ten miles down the road because I've forgotten something important, like Moe's inhaler or my camera or some such thing. On Easter weekend, when we travelled two hours to the South to spend the holiday with Joe's parents, guess what I forgot? The plastic eggs we were planning to fill with the candy and treats that Grandma B. had bought, and the Easter baskets to put them in. Only I didn't remember until after we were there, and Grandma asked me, "Did you bring the plastic eggs?" Needless to say, we did not hold our traditional egg hunt in Grandma's garden. Moe is still mad at me. Larry and Curly didn't care, as long as they got to eat the candy anyway, which they did. There wasn't any left to bring home.

You won't find any photos of brightly colored eggs--real or fake--in Grandma's garden this year, but since we had nice weather for Easter we were able to spend some time enjoying the outdoors all the same.

When I first met Grandma and Grandpa "B" they lived in a rustic little log cabin on a gi-normous piece of land in rural Pennsylvania. Later they moved to a gi-normous house on a good-sized lot in a small town in New Jersey. When Joe and I started having kids, they wanted to move someplace a little closer to their grandchildren, so they found another spacious house with an average-sized yard in a sprawling golf community in Eastern Virginia. Last summer, they downsized and moved into a lovely cottage in the same community, with a gorgeous little yard, just big enough for their Springer Spaniel to run around in.

What do Curly and Moe have for Bailey to play with today?

A...plastic bucket?

If you even say the word "Bucket," Bailey the Springer Spaniel goes bananas.

Good boy, Bailey!

(Check out this post for a few more photos of Curly and Moe with Bailey last summer, playing in Grandma's garden. And this one about a weekend last fall we spent at Grandma's house with Joe's brother and sister-in-law and their beautiful family. And Bailey.)

I couldn't resist some photos of Grandma's garden.

No Easter eggs, but I found this bunny here among the hostas.

Look up and you'll see this period-looking flag

...and a cozy front porch, just big enough for a couple of rocking chairs and a place to put up one's feet. I love spring!

A blessed and glorious Easter season to all!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's a beautiful springtime in our neck of the woods

A few weeks back we had an early morning dusting of snow here. By early afternoon it had all melted.

Now the weather is a little warmer, and our little half acre is alive with springtime color.

We're in the planning stages of a landscaping project. It's turning out to be bigger than I imagined, with stone walls and everything. There will be more of these little purple flowers to enjoy.

We might plant some more dogwood trees. We had three beautiful ones in our yard when I was little--two pink ones and a beautiful white one. I think a dogwood is my favorite springtime tree.

I might have my landscaping guy put in a bed for a vegetable garden (so I can have one NEXT year...) but it will be right where all these lovely violets grow. I've still got mixed feelings about that.

At our church, the flowers and blooms are gorgeous.

Today we're expcected to get some pretty intense thunderstorms, the same ones that have produced all those tornadoes we've been hearing about these last couple of days. It will make our trips around town to flag football games and the grocery store and the farmers' market quite interesting to say the least.

Have a wonderful Saturday, and don't forget tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week!

Friday, April 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Just Some Random Thoughts


Moe is sick and I am home. No work, no Mom's group meeting, no Mass. I hope he's feeling well enough later to take a quick trip to Wal-Mart, but if need be I'll wait until his brothers are home from school. Meanwhile, there are many, many other more productive things I could be doing right now (laundry being the most pressing, I think) but for now I think I'll sit here in front of my computer for just a little longer.


This morning as we were getting ready for the day, there was a knock at my door. It was my next-door neighbor, in her pajamas, looking distraught. She had locked herself out of her house when she let the dogs out. Her husband recently installed a new storm door, and even though the main door was unlocked, the outside door had latched behind her and she couldn't open it. I insisted that she come into the house and enjoy a cup of coffee while she called her husband at work to come and open up the house for her.

You know how you can live right next to someone and hardly ever see them? That's how it's been lately with this particular neighbor with all the busy-ness of life. When we first moved into our house, Larry was just under a year old, and her kids were in elementary school. As our family grew and her kids got older, we started having their elder daughter babysit from time to time. As her life became more and more busy as she progressed through high school, the younger daughter took over as our sitter. Now one daughter is about to graduate college and the other is halfway through. Their son is already done with college and has moved to North Carolina. It was nice to spend a few minutes catching up before the hustle and bustle of the day.


We were slightly late leaving for the boys' school this morning, but still within a reasonable time frame. Unfortunately the traffic was backed up and we immediately knew as soon as we got on the main highway that the boys would be late. Turns out there had been an accident a couple of miles down; we passed the scene as the police and the tow truck were arriving, and the cleanup crew was sweeping up the broken glass. (It didn't look serious; I think someone had rear-ended someone else, and may have gotten a third person caught up in it as well.) It made me wonder--if my neighbor hadn't locked herself out of the house, would I have ended up in the middle of that mess?


It's a beautiful springtime in our neck of the woods.

I think that will be the title of my next blog post, when I share with you some photos of flowers and blossoms ant things that I've been taking these last couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll share those with you sometime this weekend.

Here's a preview:

There's lots more where that came from. I've been having fun with my camera lately.


Recently I heard a horror story about a podcaster who had done a Google image search for just the right picture to go with the content of his podcast, only to receive an email three years later informing him that he was being sued for $600 because the owner of the image didn't give him permission to use it. That got me thinking--yikes, I do that all the time. The fact that I make absolutely no money from this blog doesn't necessarily mean that someone won't sue me for a picture I've found online and posted. So I'm working on deleting some of those images from my posts--and deleting a few posts entirely--and thinking about ways I can use my own photos instead of ones I find online. The other day I briefly looked at some sites that provide royatly-free images, but those come with fees; some with a flat monthly fee and some with a charge for each download.

And so, my fellow bloggers, how do you go about the task of posting pictures from the Internet? Do you use royalty-free sites? If so, which ones? I know some allow you to sell your own images for points that can go toward the download of theirs, and I might think about taking advantage of something like that. How do you go about asking for permission to use someone's image? Or do you do what I've been doing for the last two-plus years and posting whatever images you find, permission be damned?


I've been pretty much gluten-free for the last month and a half, and while it hasn't been a breeze, it's been a lot easier than I thought it would be. I've been slowly making my way through Elizabeth Hasslebeck's book, The G-Free Diet, and it's been very helpful. I've found some gluten-free foods that I like (and some that are positively vile), and I'm learning to adapt some of my recipes to make them gluten-free. Recently a friend gave me a recipe for a gluten-free pie crust that is fantastic, and I made a quiche with it last weekend. Fabulous.

Do I feel the makings of a new series here--"Adventures in Gluten Free Cooking?" Hmmm...


I finally managed to take a short trip to the abortion clinic in Richmond where the local 40 Days for Life vigils are taking place. (I've posted a few thoughts in the past about other vigils here and here. One of those posts may be disappearing soon--along with the random Google images that go with it.) We saw a few people going in and out of the clinic on this visit; I don't know if any of them were there for an abortion (it didn't seem that way, but who knows?) One friend who came with me said she could really feel the Holy Spirit at work during the hour we prayed there, and I would have to agree with her. There are only a couple of days left for this 40 Days for Life campaign; if you have a chance to go to an abortion clinic and pray today or tomorrow, it's a powerful experience. Click here to find out where there is a vigil location near you.

Moe is begging to get on the computer. I guess I'll let him take over. I've got baskets of clean laundry waiting for me to fold and put away.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to visit Jennifer's Conversion Diary blog for more Quick Takes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Get Thee To The Woods, Vol. 23: Springtime at the Botanical Garden

Welcome to my first Get Thee To the Woods post of 2011! In this series I like to share the ways we have celebrated God's wonderful creation.

Last week I took a trip with the fourth graders to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.

There is a mulberry tree here that is over 100 years old.

A chilly rain shower brought our group indoors for a while.

Our tour guide showed the kids a bin full of food scraps and newspaper, and how the worms and bugs work to make mulch for the gardens.

After an indoor picnic,

the rain stopped and we were able to explore the beautiful gardens.

We found more beauty inside the glass conservatory.

The treehouse was by far the kids' favorite feature on this trip.

We enjoyed some nice views of the gardens from inside.

Before boarding the buses back to school, the kids did some planting in the vegetable garden. Here's Moe planting lettuce.

I've put myself on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I've got some home and work projects that need attention. I hope I can pop in here between now and Easter and share a little bit more about my Lenten journey this year, and in the coming weeks I'm planning to make some minor changes here--deleting some old posts (not many) while I re-examine the direction I'm going with this blog. You probably won't notice much of a difference, frankly, but somewhere down the road I may be asking for advice from you, my blogging friends.

Until next time, then!

Oh, I almost forgot! We had a dusting of snow here last weekend, but wouldn't you know I haven't downloaded the pictures from my camera yet? I'll try to share some of those with you soon. I love a spring snow, don't you?

Oh, and one more thing!!

This morning I realized that today, April 2, is the anniversary of the day Pope John Paul II died. He will be beatified on May 1 of this year. This means that from now on, April 2 will be the feast day of Blessed John Paul the Great! How cool is that??

Blessed John Paul, pray for us!

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