Friday, June 29, 2007

like moonlight through the pines...

It's time to head north to visit family in Georgia. We're spread out from the coast to the city to the foothills, so there will be three stops on this trip. It's so much fun to spend time with the nieces and nephews and the best part is there's a new niece to meet in Atlanta. That makes twenty grandchildren for my parents. Their cup runneth over!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fancy toes

There's nothing like the feeling you get from a pedicure. It's fresh and pretty, relaxing and luxurious. For a long time I wouldn't get a pedicure because I really don't like people messing with my feet. But the more I saw my daughters coming home with pretty toes, I finally decided to give it a try. Heaven! Picking out the polish color you want is like standing in front of a penny candy counter with a dollar in your hand. All the shiny reds and pinks and pearly whites and creams make it hard to choose. Then you sit in the massage chair with your feet in a warm soak. Nothing wrong with that. Next a friendly lady carefully clips and files your toenails. She applies all kinds of fruity fragrant scrubs and lotions to your feet and ankles. With artistic skill the polish is brushed on your squeaky clean toes. Now my toenails remind me of those hot cinnamon jaw breakers - Atomic Fireballs. After the lady carefully slides my sandals back on my feet, I'm wishing I didn't have to leave this salon of indulgence. Back in the real world now. In the car to go home and cook dinner and wash clothes, but I'm doing it all with fancy toes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Unwritten Rules

Plunking a batter after a home run. Taking out the shortstop who's trying for a double play by sliding hard into second. Giving Maddux and Glavine the benefit of the doubt on pitches off the plate. Baseball has lots of unwritten rules: the understanding that this is how things are done. Social situations have unwritten rules, too. These vary from country to country, city to city, and family to family. It's why diplomats have to take crash courses in etiquette before they go overseas. When I went away to college in a different state, it never occurred to me that the people there would be any different from the folks back home. Was I in for a rude awakening! Manners in LA (Lower Alabama) are very different from manners in Atlanta. Thank goodness my suite mates were from Montgomery, so they filled me in on all the do's and don't's. Do wear overalls to class. Don't park your tractor on the street. Very helpful. These days, I'm always learning about the unwritten rules for teenagers. Do look at people's Facebook to see what they're all about. Don't tell them you looked. Do text and talk on your cellphone when you're with a group of people. Don't worry about using cuss words while talking loudly in family restaurants. I just know if these kids' moms could see them, they'd be getting those sideways glances moms give as if to say," We don't act like that." She doesn't have to write it down. It's just the Rules.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's a dog's life

Going on a trip takes lots of preparation. Bathing suit? check. Sunscreen? check. Flip flops? check. Someone to take care of the dog? uh-oh. Forget the vet's office. If you haven't given them a six month heads up you are out of luck. Kids next door? perfect. They love to play with her anyway so this will work out great. What? they're going to be gone the same time you are and were hoping you'd take care of their dog? Great-now what. Guess we'll have to take her along. She loves the idea. She's known that something's going on anyway. She goes and stands by the car every time you go outside. If you leave the car door open she jumps in. Hope the relatives we're going to visit are understanding. Just because they don't have a dog doesn't mean they don't love mine, right? She's like part of the family- a distant cousin. We call her baby and sweet girl and let her sleep in our beds. We spend more on her haircuts than our own. She has the most pristine diet of anyone in the family. No chinese poisoned imported ration for her. Only domestic, organic, balanced for her body type chow. Who wouldn't enjoy having a dog like that as a house guest? I'll call them right now and tell them to add one more for dinner.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


One more day 'til we take our baby girl (who's 18) to school. She's going to a place that should be great for her major and it's five minutes from the beach. There's also a good triathlon schedule in the area, so she's excited about that. Everything about it is perfect, but it's tough to let her go. We spend so much time together that it will take some getting use to not having her around. Thank goodness it's not too far and we can talk on the phone lots. And she'll be back for three weeks between semesters.

I just keep thinking of her as a little girl and all the cute things she said and did. Now she's a beautiful young woman who's so bright and accomplished. Her path will be straight and fruitful. I can't wait to see how things turn out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Southern Utah Visit

Don't let the word "southern" in the title fool you- this is the West. No sultry, humid air like the real South. Just arid western desert heat. Bring your sunscreen. Need further proof this is the West? How about the tee pees you can camp in. Thank goodness hubby knows there's not enough Cherokee blood in me to make that worthwhile. Back down the highway you can visit Dan's Buffalo Farm and Cafe. They're serving Buffalo Burgers and chili. Seems to be lots of places where you can get chili around here. Or you can go to a rodeo right across the street. We stayed at Ruby's Inn-established 1916. Reuben and his wife Minnie came to Utah with their son Carl to farm. When they started homesteading someone asked them if they'd seen the canyon just up the road. After Ruby got a look at Bryce Canyon, he knew he was sitting on a goldmine and opened an inn with daily tours. His grandchildren still run the inn today. Okay-back to the tours. That's code for long hike with boots and water bottles. The elevation here is between 8000 and 9000 feet so you may also need an oxygen tank. Don't get me wrong- the landscape is fantastic, but like everything in life, good things don't come cheap. So be sure you have blister bandages in your suitcase. The crowds here are a fraction of the number that visit the Grand Canyon. If you get an early start you only have to share the place with a few deer and some chipmunks. You also will find the company of people from France, Germany, England, and Japan. We were at a loss to figure out how they found out about this place, but they are here by the busload. Ruby's was ready for them with quadralingual signs everywhere and servers who spoke their language. Maybe it's true that they have a fascination with the Old West. It must be, 'cause that's who was filling up those tee pees.

The climber as a young man Part II

While we were in Utah last week, I called Jack at what would have been 11pm his time in Yosemite. Just checking in to see if his job was going any better and if he was getting to climb much. He's met some other climbers and had been doing some bouldering; in fact he'd had a brush with two brown bears while bouldering a couple of weeks ago. This time when he answered the phone he sounded much more cheerful and I quickly found out why. He and his friend Miles were sleeping on a ledge 200 feet up on The Royal Arches. They planned to finish the climb the next morning. This is what he had been looking forward to for months and he was finally getting to do what he's been dreaming of. You can see the arches in the picture above.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Road Trip

Here we are in fabulous Las Vegas! That exclamation conjures up every image of cheesy Elvis impersonators, greasy lounge lizards, and tank shirt clad tourists for me. But we're here anyway. To give you a peak into my state of mind, I'm reading a book about touring England while I sit by the pool here under a fake Eiffel Tower. I'm imagining the trip I'll take when I get to choose where I want to go instead of going where the NACM convention is that year. Instead of walking with masses of people by enormous monuments to the god of tacky, I'll be poking my head in high street shops in some village in Surrey. I'll do one of those country rambles over rolling hills near Bristol. The docents at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will greet me by my first name. "Good morning", they'll say. "Third time you've been here this week, isn't it?" " But you know I never get tired of Gainesborough", I'll reply.

For now, I'll have to be satisfied with the art collection at the Bellagio. You certainly don't have to deal with masses of people there. And they do have the most beautiful blown glass fixture on the ceiling in the lobby. Speaking of, the lobbies here are such a contradiction in images: lush blooming gardens next to clanging slot machines. Elegant shops like Tiffany's and Louis Vitton being visited by people dressed in Walmart chic. The ever present cigarette smoke is a shock to this nose that is used to Florida's clean indoor air, as the recording in the airport calls it. And where else in the world can you see pirates, pyramids, roller coasters, and the Arc de Triumph all on the same block?

Per Number One Son's recommendation we saw Love last night. This is the new Cirque du Soleil show using Beatles songs and imagery. Magical! This was the best Cirque show I've seen. The usual formula of incredible costumes, comedy, dance, and stunts was heightened by the familiar songs and art of the Fab Four. The sound track was especially produced by George Martin and his son for this show and they really hit the mark. I heard lots of my favorites and it just puts a smile on your face to see them played out by these expressive performers.
Next stop: southern Utah

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Roxy's first post
Did you look at that link? Did you see what those rascally squirrels are up to now? Just when I think I've got 'em rounded up- THIS! It's the end of the world as we know it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Movie Night

Need a movie for a rainy afternoon? We watched Memoirs Of A Geisha last night and highly recommend it. The story begins in rural Japan around 1935 and follows a young girl who is sold to a house that trains geisha. As you can imagine, this brings opportunities for some beautiful photography. There is a theme of water that runs through the movie with serene results.

The characters in Memoirs are well developed and we see their transformations caused by WWII. The traditional way of life in Japan is drastically changed during and immediately after the war and the effect of the American GIs on the culture is explored. The role and perception of the Geisha is forever redefined by events beyond their control.

Memoirs Of A Geisha is the whole package: exquisite costumes, fine photography, just the right music (John Williams), and a great story. It gives you the feeling you've just read a wonderful book. This is one of those movies I'll watch over and over again.

I won't give away the ending except to say it is satisfying. The best endorsement I can give is that as soon as the movie was over I thought, "I'm going to buy this DVD." Memoirs is rated pg13 and has some sexual content. It is definitely an adult movie but not at all offensive. This is a good movie to watch while curled up on the sofa with a comfy blanket and a warm cup of tea.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Pastry Chef to the Prez

Required summer reading part 1
All The President's Pastries Twenty-Five Years in the White House by Ronald Mesnier with Christian Malard

This lion-hearted man has written one page turner of an autobiography. Ronald Mesnier was one of nine children born in rural France to working-class parents. His start in a home with no running water or electricity ultimately lead to the home of the world's most powerful head of state. An apprentice to a pastry chef at the age of twelve, Mesnier went on to work at the Savoy in London, George V in Paris, The Princess in Bermuda, and the Homestead in Virginia. As Executive Pastry Chef at the White House he was the mastermind behind all those fabulous gingerbread houses for the Christmas parties in the East Room.

Ronald Mesnier chalks up his success to hard work and never saying,"No" to any request. This included building Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for First Lady Laura Bush when he had no idea who Willy Wonka was. His book is full of intriguing stories of behind the scenes at the White House and all the varied personalities who have been entertained there.

Em (oldest daughter) and I met Ronald Mesnier at a cooking school sponsored by Publix a few weeks ago. It was a Mother's Day gift and a good time. He prepared several desserts that were presidential favorites and we got to taste each of them. All the recipes seemed uncomplicated and doable, except maybe the chocolate basket he made to serve lemon curd in. That involved tempering the chocolate and several steps of coating a bowl with it. Then there was a white chocolate handle. I would only go to all that trouble if it was going to be enshrined under a glass dome for all eternity, but he promptly broke it up and served it to us. Guess you can do that when you know you can make another one anytime you like.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The climber as a young man

Getting our son on his way this summer has been full of extremes. Extreme panic to get money in his account so the overdrafts would be limited to three. Extreme loneliness in the world's most quiet house. He's gone to Yosemite in California to work , but mainly to rock-climb. His goal is to climb El Capitan. That's the one Ansel Adams took such beautiful b&w photos of years ago. It's also the one the cable channels show people jumping off of and getting rescued from on those shows moms shouldn't watch. As a mother of two adventurous (read climbers as babies) sons, I've been exposed to lots of exciting sporting events. Also, many emergency room visits. I finally just bought a big bottle of rubbing alcohol and a big box of butterfly bandages. DIY emergency room! It fixed most of the boo-boos from skating, skate boarding, surfing, urban climbing, spelunking, snowboarding, bouldering, and adventure racing. If you are unfamiliar with any of these sports just count yourself blessed. It's kind of like when I asked a neighbor how she survived her twins' first five years and she looked at me like I was from another planet. Then she explained that they just sat on the floor and read books. At that very moment, my twins had emptied the entire contents of the linen closet, their stuffed animal bucket, and the costume trunk onto the middle of the family room floor. As they heard me coming down the hall, I overheard, "She's coming!" then they took off out the back door running. Ah, sweet memories. Maybe this quiet house isn't so bad after all.