30 June 2008


this weekend's slight summer rain and the one forthcoming brought the most perfectly cool breeze to our morning walk. we crept along, noticing new details. next door, an awkward tree with five tangled arms sprouted cartoonish tufts of leaves. we strolled along...

counting as we went...

following the blaring train whistle which momentarily deafened our ears...

past the fire station, uniforms hanging in wait...flags swaying...

and ducked through my absolute favorite piece of kingston springs. this canopy of trees: a moss-covered subway station filled with an eager wind and blinding circles of light swirling in holes overhead...

ladies in lace-hemmed dresses danced along the edge of the road...

with echoes of kids bouncing basketballs on thick pavement. eli's love of swings...

and home again.

29 June 2008

summer senses.

dinner is bubbling on the stove. i am eating mexican food for the second night in a row. last night, jeremy and i went to a birthday party catered by Nashville staple Baja Burrito. we enjoyed conversation with some rarely-seen friends in a beautiful backyard on a balmy summer evening. an unseen bullfrog croaked in a pond at the edge of a small gazebo draped with white sheeting. we guzzled cold beer and munched on chips, and saved room for a slice of melt-in-your-mouth cake which i ate with my fingers because the forks had run out. after four days of solo parenting, i really needed a night out with the hub. it was good to laugh, connect with old friends, and get better acquainted with some new ones.

tonight jeremy has ventured just beyond the state's edge for some work in Bowling Green, Kentucky. two friends stopped by this afternoon for a blink-long visit, after which i fed Eli his dinner of miniature meatballs, mac-n-cheese, avocado slices, sweet peas with butter, and in an attempt to pack some extra pounds on his slim frame, bananas smeared with Nutella for dessert. he ate well, then rinsed his chocolate-covered fingers in the bathtub, filling plastic cups with warm water. he requested two story-books and nestled down for bed.

i took a small goblet of Smoking Loon Shiraz to the front porch and settled down on the old wooden swing against a pillow. After swatting myself free of a few invasive wasps darting past our potted rosemary toward my head, i took in the sounds. distant dog yelps, tweetery cardinals nesting in our Rose of Sharon bush, a train chugging by, rustling wind in the trees. these are the moments when i miss the city least. i glanced toward two front yards trimmed with white picket fencing and ahead toward the last embers of sunlight glistening against a swing set across the road.

then into the kitchen for chicken tacos with home-blended seasoning, fresh avocado and sweet grape tomatoes. Bob Costas murmured on TV from the Olympic swimming trials. for some odd reason i find the sounds of the Olympics comforting...the buzz of the crowd, the hypnotic voices of commentators, a lingering sense of triumph.

now, an annoying fly keeps whizzing past my head. we seem to have an abundance of flies in-house these days; i swat at them with kitchen towels. Ants too, little stingless ones marching in line across the oily wooden countertops. we smoosh at them with our fingertips and wish them away.

the house is mostly quiet now...just awaiting the sound of car tires rolling up the gravel drive against the moonlight. all is well.

27 June 2008


i accidentally made the bed just now. i hadn't intended to but i was wandering around the room deep in thought and before i could stop myself i was tossing the last of the pillows into place. it was similar to those moments when you're driving along and suddenly you find yourself descending your exit and having no recollection whatsoever of the past five miles that led you there.

but i finished The Great Gatsby last night so i suppose there was no real reason to leave the bed unmade all day. i enjoyed the book a lot and have a faint remembrance of having read it (or sections of it) sometime in school. jeremy said he read it in seventh grade which sort of amazes me because it's a bit mature in content for a twelve year old i think. then again, maybe not. as much or more than i enjoyed the actual story, i really loved the vividness of the writing. it inspired me, perhaps more than Franny and Zooey did...and actually i can say that i dug into it a bit more too. i think i resonate with romance sometimes more than i do with art, though i kind of believe they are one and the same.

yesterday Eli and I ventured out into the baking sun for a trip to the small town just beyond the next even smaller town. [on the way home we passed a sign in the edge of a yard that read: "Goat Crossing." Who even knew that such a sign existed?] While we browsed a few little shops, Eli in his bright orange umbrella stroller, a plastic baggie sat on the car's front seat with a remnant of cheddar cheese leftover from his mid-journey snack. when we returned to the car, the cheese had melted inside the bag into flat gooey blobs as if pressed inside a grilled cheese sandwich. I remembered a line from Gatsby in which he described the heat of the day as broiling.

we had just been grabbing an iced drink inside a coffee shop where Eli had proceeded to chirp and squak like various zoo animals and happily scream "dadadada!!" at the top of his little lungs for no apparent reason. while rushing out to avoid the stares, we paused for a moment to listen to three men intermittently sipping iced tea and playing guitars and harmonicas. the youngest was singing lines from that Moldy Peaches song at the end of Juno (which I've also seen re-created in a commercial for some vacation destination called Atlantis.) Eli was mesmerized for a solid five minutes and it was the quietest I'd heard him all afternoon.

for just over six dollars total i picked up ten little printer's stamps, and this flower picture which i placed upstairs on the top landing next to my favorite red chair.

tonight i am making a curry dish for my friend Lisa who is coming over for a visit. and because i dragged Eli around to places unappealing to active little boys all day yesterday, i promised him that today is a day just for HIM...so after he wakes up we're off to find the playground and that much-anticipated ice cream cone or two.

26 June 2008


not much time to write...so much to do.

the naptime clock just started so i have an hour, maybe two. first task is to straighten up...an empty milk carton, spaghetti strainer, wooden spoon, green plastic pail, all strewn about the living room rug. i am glancing sideways at artistic scribbles of ink on the sofa cushion to my right. lucky for the hands that penned it, we've been planning to buy new furniture next month.

this morning we've been to the coffee shop and library. this afternoon we'll have an outing or two if the rain holds off. in between, i need to organize closets (our present house focus), find a babysitter, water the poor hydrangea, finish eating breakfast banana bread and cucumber water, take vitamins, quick shower, grocery list, and possibly sneak in a chapter of my current reading: The Great Gatsby, upon a disheveled bed that will most likely remain that way for the next two days.

j is in Indiana for work. the air outside is hot and we miss him. seems like a good day for an ice cream cone...let's add that to the list.

22 June 2008

the elements of rest.

this morning jeremy made a declaration. in fact, he began the declaration by saying, "i am making a declaration."

it was this: "today let's do nothing. i just want to read."

as a plan, this works well because we go to church in the evening. we actually slept in until ten (a rarity) and now eli and j are puttering in the office while a blueberry-orange loaf puffs up in the oven and the dog sniffs the rug for remnants of eli's pancakes.

i finished franny and zooey (loved it!) and am now moving on to The Great Gatsby AND The Screwtape Letters at the same time. well, look at me: TWO books at once! we happen to have two copies by Lewis so we're going to read that one together and discuss.

i then made a declaration of my own. because church begins at five o'clock, i want to start making a big brunch or lunch on Sundays...whatever i was planning for dinner will move to the afternoon. i think this tradition will keep us from jotting mid-sermon notes on our bulletins to each other about the desperation of our hunger. today i will attempt salmon pasta with leeks and broccoli (a recipe from nonchalant mom), spinach salad, and sourdough bread. yum.

{update: just finished lunch. salmon pasta = deeeelish! a must try. super healthy and super easy & we added a squirt of lemon to bump up the flavors...jeremy helped cook. the only flaw, i think we failed to clean the leek thoroughly so there was a smidgen of grit. but we still ate our bowls clean.}

a little lunch and a little reading seems like the perfect way to complete a restful weekend hanging around our beloved Cheatham County. we never imagined we'd be uttering "beloved" and "Cheatham" in the same breath, but we've really grown to love it here. on friday, jeremy played a set at the local coffeehouse as part of their *free* Friday evening summer concert series. there was a great turn-out from the neighborhood and some friends from nashville came by too. there was red-velvet cake, great music, and eli truly appeared stunned with pride at seeing his daddy on "stage."

yesterday found us as serious sugar-gluttons. first, mochas and muffins (oh, and a chocolate brownie.) next stop, Gigi's Cupcakes for delicious sweet confections swirled sky-high with decadent frosting. last night we dragged our fat selves to the nearby Broadway Drive-In (for Get Smart) with our friends from the coffeehouse. Eli loved staying up late two nights in a row (hence the sleeping in until ten), and rolling around on a thick palette of quilts under the open hatchback of our Subaru. I had not been to a Drive-In movie since about age 10, but it may just have revolutionized our movie-loving lives because it eliminates the necessity for a sitter. and there's something so fun and all-American about a drive-in movie.

the perfectly cooled summer air and an aroma of greasy-grilled cheeseburgers from the concession stand flowed through our open car windows and we lounged on pillows, eli curled up between us wearing only a diaper and t-shirt, his damp hair stuck to the side of his face while he slept.

19 June 2008

put down that sandwich!

so there i was at my local Kroger grocery store, buying some innocent sandwich meat from the deli counter. maybe i'm the only one, but i've always assumed that buying lunch meat from the deli-counter as opposed to pre-packaged stuff in the lunch meat aisle meant i was getting something "fresh" or at least "fresher" for my family.

always with one eye on the dollar and one eye on health (or so i thought), i requested 1/3 pound of low-sodium turkey breast from Boars Head, 1/3 pound of baby swiss, and 1/4 pound of Private Selection (store-brand) smoked ham because it was on sale. the man behind the counter who was taking my order happened to be wearing a Boars Head outfit (shirt and matching cap) so I think it's safe to assume he represents them somehow and therefore has a bias, but still, his response caught me by surprise:

"do you realize that you just asked for low-sodium turkey and then a brand of ham that has four times as much sodium?"

he then proceeded to tell me that the store brand of lunch meats are actually not 100% meat. In fact, in order to be approved, they only have to contain 60% actual meat (and some of that "meat" can come in the form of lips, organs, and hooves!) while the other 40% is comprised of various fillers, gelatins, high sodium chicken broth, and other meat by-products.

before he handed me my Boars Head turkey & ham (which he claimed were both taken from actual cuts of meat rather than pieces of meat pressed together to form a ham shape), he said, "you should look up 'processed lunch meat' on the internet sometime."

and so i did. truly, i don't think i will be eating processed lunch meat (Boars Head included), hot dogs and the like again, or feeding them to my family after what i just observed. most of these processed meats are filled with cancer-causing sodium nitrates and other dangerous chemicals.

according to a USA Today article i found:

"...forget eating bacon, sausage and lunchmeat. No amount is considered completely safe, according to the analysis from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. •Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%."

perhaps this is common knowledge to most and i have been cluelessly living under a salami sandwich all these years but i really had no idea. sure, i've heard people say: "do you know what's actually in a hot dog?" but i preferred to remain blissfully ignorant with my ball park frank and squeezy bottle of ketchup. one in each fist.

i will let you do the research for yourself. there's a lot of it out there...most of it is both disturbing and exceedingly gross. i always struggle with what to make for lunch, which is why turkey and cheese sandwiches ends up on the menu at least twice a week. but i think i can be more creative now that i know the facts...


(*warning: stomach-turning images) http://www.naturalnews.com/phototour_mystery_meat_1.html



18 June 2008

summer reading list.

given my current pace of reading, i am not at all confident this list won't take me until Summer 2012 to complete, but the fact that i am making a list at all means there is progress.

at least, i am all but 50-some pages through Franny and Zooey and have even had a lot of distractions since beginning it.

following are my aspirations:

-The Member of the Wedding
-The Screwtape Letters
-The Principles of Uncertainty
-The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
-The Great Gatsby
-The Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
-The Thirteenth Tale
-Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

books to finish:
-Franny and Zooey
-Eat, Pray, Love
-The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

03 June 2008

tuesday, i think.

i wouldn't consider myself a reader, per se. i mean, i would like to consider myself one, but i can't if being honest.

i'm a writer. jeremy's a reader. he does write some too and i have been known to read things, but in general, i'm better at grammar and his is the name scrawled inside most of our books.

i've heard it said that in order to be a good writer, one must read. i don't disagree with that assertion and feel certain that were i to read more than i do, my writing would flourish with a bigger arsenal of words and more interesting characters.

the problem is, i am one of those people who has to re-read a sentence five times in order for it to sink in. i am not dyslexic and always did well in English...in fact, I'm a good reader when reading aloud. it's more the issue of the information gluing itself to my brain that hinders me.

jeremy, on the other hand, cannot keep from buying books and soaking each page up like bread into butter. he also speed-reads and has a habit, in the spirit of Harry, of reading the last page of a book while still on chapter one. i do not understand.

for me, i think it's two things actually. first, i am intimidated by books because i know it's going to take me forever to read them so i hesitate to even begin. for example, my sister bought me a book for Christmas last year. it was all wrapped up with a five-pack of Burt's Bees lip balm tins and it scared me to death. it might as well have been a dictionary, this book as thick and horrifically daunting as a five-pound steak. she said it was great; i have yet to crack the binding.

the other is that my imagination wanders. that's what keeps me from absorbing anything until the third or fourth reading of a sentence. sure, once i get going and am immersed in a story, i can fly along. but it's the getting going that's a challenge. i'll start to read and before i've even finished a paragraph, i find myself thinking about which pillows would look best on our bed, or how much i love the marvellous shade on my little reading lamp, or how proud i am to be holding an actual book in my hands even if just for ceremony.

last night i decided to try something new. a short book. something light and compact and uncruel. i chose Franny and Zooey from the shelf in j's office. i've heard it's good, i like the title, and it's tiny. incidentally, i was reminded of it upon introduction to the music duo She & Him, featuring Zooey Deschanel (named after Salinger's Zooey) who starred in Almost Famous and Elf. and incidentally inside of an incidentally, that movie (the one featuring Will Farrell in tights) was the first occasion for me to see my husband (then-boyfriend) cry. In a movie about Santa Claus. How could I not marry him?

so while it took me three attempts and several minutes to push past the first two sentences of Franny and Zooey, once i did, i kept going. i'm a third of the way through(!) and really enjoying it. and who knows? maybe it will even seep into my writing somehow.