Friday, April 29, 2016

The Gift I Couldn't Give

Twenty-three years ago, when I turned 50, we had a wonderful party for which I requested no presents only my friends’ presence. I did receive two presents though. One a lovely diamond/amethyst butterfly pin designed by my husband and daughter and a delightfully silly mug from my dear friend, neighbor, walking buddy. Both have stayed with me all these years. 

A month or so ago while beginning plans for Michelle’s 50th birthday party, Dean said, “Why don’t you take your mug to Michelle.” What a Wonderful idea!! For about 3 days. Then I realized I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give my daughter a mug I had had for 23 years. Why????

Well to start with, it’s my mug. Given just to me, having nothing to do with my family or anyone else. I was the one turning 50. I was the one who was given the mug. For 23 years now, I have had my morning tea in that mug every single morning that I was at home. I even tried to have it in another mug a couple of days after Dean’s suggestion to get used to the idea. Nope. That didn’t work. 

Several times over the years, someone visiting would reach in the cabinet for a mug and pick this one. It was all I could do to keep my hand at my side instead of grabbing it and saying, “No, no! that’s My mug!” And so it is. My mug. When I moved from Virginia to California, my mug came with me.   If I ever have to evacuate with one suitcase, my mug will be tucked in a corner. And to give her lots of credit, when I told Michelle this story before writing the blog, she was horrified. “No!! That’s your mug!” she cried before I had ever finished the story. 

Dean had a lovely thought. My first born was turning 50. Share my mug. Sorry, my dear Michelle, cannot do. And she understands. My mug. My daughters can argue over it when I’m gone or bury it with me. Then I won’t care. For now, it stays with me, reminding me that once I was 5 perfect 10s and today I am a perfect 73! Happy Birthday anyway, Michelle!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring Tea ~ 2

A few more views of tea time:

The sweets: I made only the cookies. The brownies and lemon bars came from our bakery.

Because the granddaughter we had with us was taking the pictures, she took one of me with her grandmother. 

Grandmother snuck one in on her: tea being a time to listen closely and have good conversation as well as good food. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April Snow

Yesterday I said that my Spring Tea had become a Snow Tea. Here's why.

You will notice the clear blue sky. Already the sun is making its power felt as the loaded pine boughs release their burdens and spring returns to the mountains. It's to be in the 50's today. This is a yearly struggle between the seasons and eventually, as always, spring will win. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Tea

Well, let's start with the adjective - spring. Yes, it was a tea. No, spring didn't have much to do with it. It snowed all day and is still snowing as I type this. Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 50's but right now, the snow continues to fall.
Two friends were kept at home given that they live much higher up the mountain than we do. The five of us who made it, had a wonderful and delicious time.

This is the start of the table. No silverware yet and it is the only picture I have of the table. The dinner plates in the center of the table held tea sandwiches.

Chicken salad

Traditional cucumber 

Smokey Gouda

I offered two teas: Lady Grey and Jasmine Green. Lady Grey was the hit of the afternoon and the Jasmine Green in the great green pot will do for iced tea tomorrow. 
We had a granddaughter with us as her grandmother had to pick her up from school and keep her until 6 ~ so she came to tea. Eight is a good age to begin to learn about traditional tea. She must have enjoyed it. She ate everything and drank 3 cups of Lady Grey without cream or sugar. When her mom picked her up, she said, "Mom, guess what I got to do this afternoon?" She showed her mom the pictures she had taken and asked why they didn't have high tea. I think I have a convert.
My next plan is to offer tea to several friends who have younger children in order to help the children learn about the tradition and the proper way to have tea. 

I've asked for the other pictures so there will be at least one more tea blog. I'm so pleased and happy and in the end, thoroughly enjoy my Snow Tea!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Time for Tea

I'm giving a tea. Friday afternoon at 3, a small number of friends will gather around my table for a spring tea. It may be raining. We will make spring inside at a lovely table with all the accouterments of an English tea: sandwiches, scones with jam, and tiny sweets all accompanied by two selections of tea. Lovely.

And what I am realizing is: tea is not something I do on the spur of the moment. This whole week has been aimed at tea time. Even the ordinary chores have been prioritized so that on Friday all is perfect. Monday I did laundry as usual. Tuesday, cleaned the bed and bath rooms, washed sheets and towels and vacuumed. Saving vacuuming the rest of the rooms until Thursday though because I have a dog who sheds, and living the woods, we do track in pine needles and dirt. Today I did the last of my shopping and polished just enough silver for the party. I had a wonderful cousin who, about once every six months, would prepare herself and spend a day polishing all her silver. Sorry, dear Becky. You gave good advice but this one your younger cousin cannot follow. Only when I need it ~ and just as much as I need. Much easier that way. And, my table will sparkle.

Tomorrow, the rest of the vacuuming and the food preparation that can be done ahead of time. Knowing me, I will probably get out the china too - why not wait until Friday when it is needed? I don't know. It's just me. Do you suppose it comes from theatre - I need "rehearsal" time?

On Friday, the family (meaning Dean and Kyle) will have to fend for themselves at lunch because the table will be covered with the beginnings of the place settings. Oh, where is Mr. Carson when I need him?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cleaning Made Easy

I have never liked housework. I especially don’t like cleaning the kitchen because it has to be done every day, sometimes three times a day. And ~ even kitchen cleaning attitudes can change. 

I have written here before about the new kitchen. We took out messy, 80’s tile with grout and put in slick, flat 21st century granite. We have a flat induction cook top and a very deep single sink. Dean created the pine tops for the island and counter which are flat, lovely and covered in polyurethane. All in all it makes for a kitchen that is easy to clean. 

Is that the reason I clean the kitchen with more ease than in the rest of my life? I don’t know. The flat surfaces wipe down so easily. The deep sink holds lots of dirty stuff without showing it to the world until I get around to loading the dishwasher and washing the pots. And yes, I have to wash the pots used on the cooktop, but oh my goodness ~ they are the best non-stick ever and So Easy to wash. 

Maybe I will never like cleaning the kitchen, and the remodeled kitchen certainly makes it easier than it has ever been. Over and over again I am grateful. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Computer Snafu

Bless his heart, Dean took my computer to the Apple Store the other day. It was running hot and very, very slowly. Because he didn't know what time he could get there, he couldn't make an appointment. He arrived at 5 and waited until 6:15. Then they went to work on the computer. It took some time, found the problem, then had to call me for passwords a couple of times. Bless Apple, it didn't cost a thing to rework a software problem. Dean was home, with computer, at 8. It was a long day.

It was also a long several days without my computer which I turned off and just let it sit. I used my phone and was able to manage everything except watching Netflix and writing in my journal. That problem I solved after I realized I could email myself a journal entry and yesterday morning copied and pasted them into my journal. That was also facilitated by Dean's finding a keyboard he had bought for his iPad and wasn't using. We connected it via wifi to my phone and now I don't have to scrunch my fingers to type long emails or texts. I carry it around with me now even though the computer is working. Makes life just a little easier.

I don't think of myself as that attached to my computer and I guess I am. I really missed it. I do a lot of writing: emails, journal, here, and because I knew it was for a short time, I didn't really push myself to learn how to do it all on my phone. Again, the writing I do became easier when Dean produced the keyboard. And let's be honest, I play games. I know I can play on my phone as well and I just let be that aspect of my computer because it was a short time.

Oh - and I had to forego a video Skype with my daughter and grands on Sunday. Glad to have that back as well! Yeah ~ I'm hooked. Cyberspace is a part of my life and I like having my computer around.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reflections While Woods Walking

Yesterday morning I walked around the house following the vacuum cleaner. This morning I walked around the woods while following Oso. Today’s walk was much more fun. 

We have gone instantaneous from winter to spring. There is no snow left around the house although the mountain peaks in the distance are still snow covered and skiing is still excellent. Oso and I tramped the woods on already drying dirt. New smells enticed his nose and I let my feet follow where his nose led. Occasionally I would stop and enjoy a view of the lake or contemplate the forest shadows. The air was cool enough for a jacket and gloves, but the sun warmed my face when my ramblings took me into its space. 

The air was crisp and clean and it felt good to breathe deeply of spring.