Summer Afternoon

Often in the evenings, when supper is in the oven and the kitchen is (relatively) clean, I take a glass of wine out onto the stoop with me and I stare out at my little corner of the world.

The gardens are alive with dragon flies and bumble bees, and always I see a lot of work I must do…deadheading, dividing, trimming, weeding…

Last night I sat outside and watched as petals from the crepe myrtles drifted lazily to the ground like snowflakes.  What a pretty sight in July…they gathered on the path like clumps of fluffy snow.  We planted those crepe myrtles eight or nine years ago when they were less than two feet tall.  Now they are large and beautiful and provide us with glorious shade for our hot Virginia summers.

This morning I sit in quiet…nothing but that fridge again with it’s hum and the birds’ pretty songs to keep me company.  I picked flowers from our garden the other day and they smile at me…coneflowers and yarrow, hyssop, catmint and even some oregano for fun.  (If anyone needs fresh oregano, I have scads of the stuff.)  On my list of things to do today:

  • make peach cobbler
  • work in the garden a bit
  • make blueberry jam
  • finish the laundry

Yesterday’s run has me feeling a bit sore.  It was my longest run yet — 5 miles — and I am dealing with something like tendonitis in my right hip…I’m pretty certain I need better shoes.  Anyway, when today’s work is done, we will spend the afternoon at the pool.  Hot sun, soft pool towels in stripes and polka dots, cool water and the laughter of children.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  In reality, it may quite possibly be more like this: hot sun, pool towels, luke warm water and the four loudest children in the county.  Well, such is my life, and I love it this way.  When we get home, we will make Limonada do Coco to refresh us before the pizzas go in the oven.

Sounds like the perfect way to spend a summer day…

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
-Henry James

I agree, Mr. James.

Summer Afternoon


I am sitting here in the kitchen this afternoon.  Ella has a little friend over here and she is giving her the grand tour…I can hear her up there…this is Kate’s room, and this is the boys’ room.  And I hear her little friend say “Holy Moly that is a mess!”  I wince a little.

The boys’ room is generally very neat.  William insists upon that.  He cannot stand clutter.  But this morning we were in a race to get out the door.  Too much basketball…we had practice last night and didn’t return until after 8:00.  We finally ate, showered and got into bed by 9:30, but that amount of running around just exhausted them all, and they slept late this morning.  I let them.  So there was no time to make the bed, or pick up the clothes, or fold their clean laundry and there it sits in their room.  It does look a mess, I suppose.

This morning Kate informed me that she simply cannot use her bathroom because there are a million tiny bugs in there everywhere.  So I went to look.  Yes, there were bugs.  It looks like someone opened the window in there yesterday and didn’t close it properly and those teeny tiny flying things got in.  I sprayed them and told her I would clean that bathroom up today before her friends came over.  Which I did.

Then as I was checking her ipod for texts, I was horrified to read that she told her friends that her bathroom was infested with bugs and that if they needed to go to the bathroom while they were here that they could not use that one!  Oh the horror.

So clearly I am not earning high marks in keeping a clean house.

The weather is gray today.  It is mild…75 degrees…and I have arranged for William to have rides to and from practice tonight.  I don’t have anywhere to go.  That doesn’t happen very often.  I think I am going to work outside a little if the rain holds off.  I have some basil to plant, and I need to pot up my tomato and marigold seedlings.  There are pots on the deck that cracked over the winter, and I need to clean those up.  We bought some hollies on Mother’s Day that need to be planted as well, which is probably more than I can handle today.

Funny story about the hollies (unless you’re me).  David drove my car home from the greenhouse with the lift gate up because we had the holly trees in the back.  I was a few minutes behind him because I needed to wait for someone to load the dirt into my car.  So when I get home, he comes running out of the driveway to stop me from pulling in and I see millions of shards of glass all over the driveway, because he backed into the basketball rim and destroyed my car, or at least the back window.  So, he spent the next two hours vacuuming that up while I pouted in my room.  When I emerged, he tried to cheer me by informing me that he went to the store to get industrial strength trash bags to tape on the back for when I’m driving around.  His solution, however resourceful it may have been, did not leave me feeling enthusiastic, or thankful, or cheery or anything other than wow.  And not wow in a good way.  More like, wow, I can’t believe I’m going to have to drive around in a car held together with trash bags and duct tape.  But, because it was mother’s day and I was trying to pretend I am a good mother, I got a beer and went outside to look at my flowers and not snap at anyone.

This all reminds me of the (numerous) time(s) I said that the basketball hoop was too low when set on 6 feet, and how I was afraid I was going to hit it and how we really should raise it up, and how someone who shall remain nameless scoffed at all that.  Isn’t that interesting?  Right.

For this weekend we have another 10 games, at least.  After the last game on Sunday, I hope we can cook out.  We will have to use the Weber, because our fancy gas grill has disintegrated and we haven’t ordered the new parts yet.  And maybe we won’t.  I think the Weber might be better anyway…I miss the charcoal.  I miss the smell, and the flames, and watching the coals turn from black to red to gray.  I miss the time it takes to cook.  We hurry everything along these days because we try to get so much accomplished in so little time.  We forget that there is importance in taking it easy and enjoying time spent together, doing nothing at all.  We can watch Poppy run around in the backyard, sip a glass of wine, and dream about all of the landscaping that we’re going to do, someday.  

I don’t know if I could plan a better weekend.     


It Was a Beautiful Day

The spring beauties are coming up in the yard.  They are so lovely.  I can hardly believe how they take my breath away, every year.  Ella, Henry and Kate have picked handfuls of them, and there is a small glass vase filled with them on my windowsill.  I will never tire of that. 

We did some work in the yard yesterday. 

It was a beautiful day. 

So I decided it should be the day that I would dig up the chunk of builder-placed cement in our flower gardens.  That turned out to be a bit of a project.  Because it was huge.

So, mid-dig, The Man walked out.  His timing was impeccable.  When he asked if I needed help (I’m pretty sure he asked), I handed him the shovel and said here you go…you need to dig up this chunk of cement and I think it is rather large

So he began to dig.  After about 1 minute, doubts began to issue forth from his mouth.  He tried several times, with several different excuses, to persuade me that it was not necessary, but I was not deterred.  He knew resistance was futile.  Besides, I think deep down, he loves a good dig.  Either that or he’s afraid of me.

Then Henry and I went around back with his metal detector to detect some metal.  We found some copper flashing, some other little shard of metal and what appeared to be some sort of iron-ish wire-ish thing. 

Then I went back around front, and the cement chunk was about out, and it was quite large indeed. 

Then I went back around back, and dug up the redbud that was growing under our deck, and transplanted it.  I hope it will grow.

I moved a few things around in the garden…lilies, bee balm, lariope, another tree.  Trimmed a few bushes and perrenials. 

The Man and I daydreamed about what we would like to do in the yard, someday.  We have lofty dreams, let me tell you.  Dreams of stacked stone walls, peonies, forsythia, and more redbud trees.  We will have a natural stone walkway, one cut into the hillside with steps that curve around to the patio.  Someday. 

I made a mental note to research forsythia…varieties, growth habits, and preferred conditions.  And I wondered aloud if the deer would eat them.  The truth is, deer will eat almost anything if they are hungry enough. 

Then I went to check on my experiments.  I rooted hydrangea over the winter, and have planted the four new little plants in pots on the deck.  The deer would kill them if I planted them in the yard.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them once I’m certain that the roots have taken.  I would love them for the patio, but I have seen the deer up on the patio eating my petunias in the past.

Last week, Ella and I planted basil, carrot and radish seeds.  We’re starting to see the little seedlings now.  In a few weeks we will plant them in our garden somewhere.  This will be something we haven’t tried before…vegetables.  I suppose I’ll have to net the carrots and radishes.  I would love to have a real garden, but I’m afraid it would just be an exercise in futility…the deer and the rabbits would most likely devour everything we planted. 

When I came inside, there were things piled by the stairs that I needed to bring down to the storage room.  I put those things away, and brought up some of our spring decorations.  I don’t have a lot, but the few things I do have are so pretty to look at.

And then I was pretty much exhausted.  I got a drink, and went outside to watch the boys play kickball in the street with their friends.

I looked around at the new grass growing, and the flower beds that are coming back to life.  There were bumblebees buzzing around, and boys playing and robins hopping around the yard. 

The sun poured over me.

I have not felt that content in a long, long time.

It Was a Beautiful Day

Since I’m on a roll here with all the luck…

I’m certain I’ve mentioned that Tuesday is my day of fun. 

My gardening day.

Well yesterday, the sun came out and warmed the earth and the spring beauties began popping through the soil and the bluebirds perched in their tree outside my window.  There is a lot to do outside now…even the dandelions have forced their ugly little tentacles up into the sunshine and need to be dealt with.

I got my clippers and decided I would concentrate this afternoon on the deck plants…dumping the annuals (which lasted well into winter this year until, of course, the blizzards came) and the rosemary that didn’t make it through and trimming back the oregano and the thyme and mint. 

I hobbled down the steps and out into the yard with my dried out rosemary, seriously full of a little bit of bliss. 

Until I stepped a little bit onto a snake. 


That’ll kind of kill your enthusiasm for the great outdoors if you’re me.

Not to be deterred, however, I dumped out my pot and figured I’d be extra careful and look for the little creep so I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

Oh, I was looking.

But I’m not kidding when I say that camouflage really works.  I didn’t see that thing again until I was a foot from it. 

It looked at me. 

I may have screamed a little bit.

And then I hurried back up to the deck.

I tried to find the snake when I got to the top of the deck, so that I could totally and completely avoid it on my next trip down.

I could not find it.  This troubled me slightly.  I hoped it had just slithered off.  And tried to tell myself that it was probably more scared of me than I was of it.  (Except, I highly doubted that).

This time, I managed to make it.

Until I got to the edge of the tree line in the yard.  Here I found a nice little snake coiled up in a pile.  Don’t you just love it when you stumble upon a snake pile?  And yes, I am certain it was a different snake.  It was a different color.  And it was less friendly looking, in my opinion.  It didn’t have any fun yellow stripes or anything like that.  It was all brown and grumpy looking.

And that, my friends, is when I decided to pack it in and forget the gardening. 

So much for fun days.

Since I’m on a roll here with all the luck…