Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dreamy Country Sunday

I haven't done a house update in awhile, as Clint wanted me to hold up and surprise you with final kitchen pictures. Shocked, you'll be shocked! It won't be too much longer though; floors, walls and cabinets are in. Refrigerator is running, dishwasher works, and stove is lined up. New washer & dryer just need to be removed from boxes and installed.

The bedroom current workspace for staining and urethaning the wood trim for floors, doors, & windows. Clint is making all of the trim himself, routering all of the edges to match the existing trim in the house.

My workspace, and our future bedroom:

What I've accomplished so far (staining only, each will get 4 coats of urethane).

And still left to do:

In the meantime, spring is here, and there's a plethora of additional chores to be addressed, that take time out of the house-making. We spent hours this afternoon taking care of said chores.

Trees had to be trimmed:

And brush burned.

Recent storms have been blowing nesties out of the trees. I'm not much of a packrat, but this is the 2nd nest that Clint and I have saved. They are so solid, and someone worked so hard to build them that we just can't bring ourselves to throw them out.

I imagine, someday, a small awning on our garden shed, and maybe a series of decorative nests, with our own dried flowers tucked in.

We didn't have time to put our dream garden in this year, but I did plant a few flowerpots this afternoon, for the front porch.

Or rather, the front stoop. The porch is still kind of in the pallet stage:

This thornless hawthorne begifted to us recently, still needs to be planted. We discuss where it will serve us best.

We are making progress, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. While Clint continues to finish out the new section of the house, we're at a point where I can work simultaneously on the old section, clearing rooms, preparing walls and floors for cleaning and painting.

Still so much to do, and still so fun to dream. We walk the property and hash out where we'll put the garden, where we'll put a clothesline. We map out flower gardens and birdbaths and courtyards, that may, little by little, take years to develop. We dream of future "gatherings," as Clint calls them that involve lots of great friends and great food—indoors and out—with perhaps a little music thrown in.

We dream so, that none of this seems like work.

We can hardly wait for it to be finished, and yet we never want it to end.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gnightgirl: Crabby in the Library

Can I may be crabby, for a minute?

I really dislike being "pestered" by sales staff. I can deal with the occasional "is there anything I can help you with?" but I do not like to be interrupted 9 times by sales staff in a store the size of a 2-car garage (ahem, Bath & Body Works). Still, if I'm in no mood, I can opt to shop elsewhere.


Let me first say that I LOVE the library. I can't imagine my life without a library in it. I can spend 10 minutes in a library, and I can spend hours in a library, if I have the luxury to do so.

We have a beautiful, shiny new library in this city, and I love it too. But something new has come about with the new library: The staff walks around, and asks can they help me. Do I need any help? Is there anything I'm looking for? Am I doing ok?

No, I am NOT doing ok, I am browsing! I'm reading! I'm trying both to relax and to concentrate, and I have literally been interrupted 3 times in 15 minutes by 3 separate ... interrupters. If I wanted help, I would go to The Help Desk.

Let's talk about the cool new check-out system. There are 5 or 6 "check yourself out" stations, and 2 or 3 "if you need help, come over here" stations. I go to the "check myself out" station. Books on pad, card in slot, and out you go. Very Jetsons-y, but not quite rocket science.

This evening I checked out 5 books, 3 of which had the same title, but different subtitles (Volumes I, II, III).

I had confirmed 3 of the books, and while setting up the last 2, for some reason, a staff member raced over to "assist" me. He hadn't noticed the duplicate titles, and began mistakenly instructing me on which books were checked out.

He then grabbed all of my books, hellbent on fixing the—until then— nonexistent problem. He replaced books that I'd already checked out, causing the monitor to flash large red "danger" signs at me, and exclaimed to himself "why am I so confused?" He then fixed the chaos by voiding out my transaction altogether, and checking my books back out for me. One. by. one.

I'm sure glad I went to the self-checkout lane.

This is pretty much par for the course for all of my library visits these days, and I felt kind of bummed to realize, for the first time tonight, that the library isn't as enjoyable to me as it once was. The sense of "sanctuary" has disappeared, with the constant assistance, interrupting, and intervening.

When I was a kid, you could browse the library for hours, and hole up in a corner, and no one would say a word to you until closing was announced, and we liked it, barefoot and uphill both ways.

Ah-ha. Perhaps I am just getting older, and my vision of a library goes the way of the horse and buggy.

Well. I can't opt to shop elsewhere, so I guess I'll adapt.


Can I at least get one of these?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend, in Pictures

Home from our fun camping weekend; it could have lasted longer with no complaints from moi.

I didn't read as much as I'd imagined I would; every time I picked up my books, I'd fall asleep within 3 paragraphs. At least I got some rest, yah?

We started the trip out on a, er, "flat" note, blowing a tire along Highway 49.

My Manly Man changed the tire in 9 minutes flat, while I helped by wandering around with the camera.

Cooking over a fire is one of the best things about camping, and there is no lack of food with our group of friends. We all agreed that we overpack the groceries, and no one goes hungry as a result. Carnivores are especially welcome.

Side dishes cooked in foil are a must, like these mushrooms and onions cooked in butter....I think the calories burn off if they're cooked over wood.

And don't forget the cold beer. I ended up passing on wine, and Negra Modela with lime & salt was my drink for the weekend. And this one from Trader Joe's wasn't bad, either.

Settling down with feet up around the campfire is perfect way to wrap up the day. One of ours brought a can of some cool stuff to sprinkle over the fire that turned the flames all different colors. Oooooo!

I did manage to get a few things "accomplished." I dragged along a new set of Prismacolor Pencils I purchased recently. There were 120 in the set, and I sharpened 90 of them before I tired and had to take another nap.

Sunday afternoon I accompanied the guys to the 4-wheeling trails, and while they rode, I went wandering about the countryside with my camera. No prize-winning photos that afternoon, but a few worth sharing:

And Monday afternoon, the skies opened up. We were prepared and had mostly picked up the night before, so I had the luxury lounging on the chaise for the last couple of couple hours of the weekend, getting back into my book, listening to the rain hit the awning, and staying perfectly dry.

Rain at the campground isn't ideal, but it was, in the long run, a nice way to wrap up the weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Outta Here

What a week.

Brian and Courtney hit the road yesterday, back to Fort Benning, and Clint and I began gearing up for the 4 day weekend. After work yesterday, I grocery shopped, packed the camper, delivered groceries to Mom, took out her garbage, washed her dishes, walked her dog, then came home to start most of that over in my house. More cooking, and moving things toward the door, gathering up books and magazines, tidying the house for housesitters, and packing more food items, clothes, and various sundries.

For the next 4 days, I will be:

Only no way am I just sitting down in that grass, can you imagine the bugs?

And I'll have a glass of wine within reach.

And I'll be supine on a chaise lounge.

And sitting next to campfire.

But I do have a bag full of books, and I will be reading, so that there picture up there is what I will be doing, for the next 4 days.

Miss me lots, I'll catch you on Monday. Maybe.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Agenda: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1. Watch them get married.

2. CELEBRATE! Join us!

We realize this is an unconventional invitation, but as you know, a certain branch of the military intercepted our initial plans.

Second Runner-Up Plans were interrupted by Mother Nature, who dropped 4 inches of rain on Champaign Friday night.

4 inches of rain, as many local bloggers will know = about 98 inches of water in certain basements in this berg. For instance, the basement of the home in which Plan B was staged.

Nothing will stop us!

We'll be throwing a celebratory cookout in Champaign from 4:00-- to ___ on Tuesday evening.

Dress is casual, mood is happy.

If you'd like to eat up and congratulate the happy couple, hit me up at, and I'll give you the super-secret address.

(I don't want to lure you over there, but I'm taking pomegranate martini's!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Random Act of Kindness

She picked him up yesterday afternoon, and raced him to his Mama, how lucky am I? I only got to see him for about 15 minutes before I had to race off for the evening for a wedding. I don't think either of them noticed terribly, do you?

Before I raced out the door, though, Brian told me about a woman that sat next to him on the flight from Atlanta to Bloomington. He chatted with her about his flight home to marry Courtney, and their impending whirlwind return back to base. She was also traveling from Bloomington to Champaign, in the next leg of her trip, and they talked about her time here.

When the plane landed, Brian's neighbor wished him well, and pressed a $100-bill into his hand. He resisted, telling her she was a bit too generous, but she implored him to keep it. Her husband, who had also served in the military, had recently passed away. It was a gesture that he would have appreciated, she said.

There are moments, and then, there are moments.

Courtney and Brian's first wedding gift was a random act of a kindness from a complete stranger. It was a fairytale moment, that will be reminisced about and handed down; I imagine them regaling the tale to their grandchildren, some day.

This beautiful stranger.

Tough act to follow, huh?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pedicures for 5, Please

The primping of the bride has begun.

We started with her toes, this morning. And ours.

Pictured: Jen (Clint's daughter), Me (me), Courtney (The Bride), Michelle (Brian's Stepmom ["other mother," I like to call her]), and Beth (Courtney's mom), waaay in the back, at the manicure table..

We had appointments, and were waiting at the salon before they even opened this morning. Michelle brought coffee and a big bag of bagels from Panera. We started picking out colors and clucking and laughing, and we forgot all about the bagels!

Manicures, pedicures, and Courtney was out the door for Round 2 of "Primp My Bride:" Her Auntie was taking her for a facial.

And now she's on the road, heading to Bloomington, IL, to pick her groom up from the airport.

We are ever so excited.

And we have the cutest toes and fingers to show for it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goin' To The Chapel...

I know, I know it's crazy that I haven't told you this yet; it's absolutely insane. But things have been in the air, and Brian's training to go back to Iraq, and I've been trying to be respectful (and unmeddling), but I finally broke down and asked for permission to blog what's been killing me not to blog:

Brian and Courtney are getting married.


Tuesday. Tuesday, May 19th, Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nine.

Right! 5 days from now.

And God's Honest Truth, the reason I haven't told you this thus far is that I've been hesitant to "induct" Courtney into having a blogging Mother-in-Law. "Hello, marry my son, and behind Door #1 is Your Life, blurped out on The Internet. Welcome to the family, smile for the camera **POP***FLASH**."

I have it in writing though: She told me to write my heart out, and that asking for permission is not necessary, ever again. I'll take that with a grain of salt, continue to ask for permission, let her correct my mistakes, and, as I told her already "if I talk too much, just tell me, 'Mommy, shut UP.' "

It that's not a fantastic Mother-in-Law/Daughter-in-Law contract, I don't know what is. Sign here.

That said, I still don't know where to begin, and when to shut up.

My son is marrying the love of his life next Tuesday morning. It will be a civil ceremony, now, before he deploys to Iraq, and there will be a church ceremony when he returns, in 2010.

Courtney brought her dress over to show me, a month or so ago, a moment now embedded into my memory for life. So excited was she, and better yet, Brian's timed phone call just as she left, trying to pry out of me what the dress looked like. As if. "It's hot pink with turquoise ruffles," I told him. "Liar," he retorted. Ah, he knows her, doesn't he?

Yes, it's whirlwind, and Courtney is getting initiated into Military Spouse-ism right off the bat. Brian has been in training, living in a tank, while we have been trying to arrange parties and open-houses, and find honeymoon suites. "The Army," however, had alternate plans that, quite honestly, jacked ours up.

They will marry on Tuesday, May 19, and he must return to his station Thursday May 21.

They will drive 12 hours, for him to sign in at Fort Benning, to sign in, by midnight, Thursday.

And then he has Friday through Monday off, for the holiday.

It's all about compromises: Leave now means no leave before he deploys. What's it going to be?

So, that's how it works, and we, darlings, are going to roll with the punches. We will join them on Tuesday morning, and celebrate Tuesday afternoon and evening.

We will kiss them goodbye on Thursday morning, and see to it that they're set for romantic dinners, a honeymoon suite, and maybe some good Blues music, over the 4-day weekend.

5 days.

Our lives change forever.

Change is good.

Penny at ABC World News (& soldier baby's comin' home!)

Click over to Paria's Blog, to join her penny on a field trip through the ABC World News Studio, in Los Angeles.

And while you're there, send a hug in the comments; her soldier-baby fiance will be home from his tour in Iraq in about 4 or 5 more days!!! Whoo hoo! Head on over, and help her hang on tight!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pennies for Science

This next photo was submitted by my best friend Becky, who now lives in Tucson. ( I have lots of best friends, and Becky is one of them.)

Becky has "the pica."

No, wait.

Pica is the urge to eat paper, isn't it? Or is it potting soil? I can't remember, but that's not it.

Becky, since she was a child, has enjoyed keeping track of items she can fit up her nose. If I remember right, there's a childhood tale of her shoving a bath oil bead so far up her nose that her mother had to take her to ER. By the time they arrived, the thing had melted into her sinuses, and doctors were no longer necessary.

You'd think she would have learned from that incident, but we worked together for several of her adult years, and many's the time I heard the words "I wonder if I can fit this up my nose." I'd turn around to find her shoving a baby carrot into a nostril, and we'd chart the results.

She's a curious one.

And now we know:

We can add "penny" to the "Fits in Becky's Nose" column.

You can see why I miss her.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Penny Pitchers

I am a genius.

Or rather, Clint is.

No, I am, as I took his idea and made a blog challenge out of it, and I have a self-blogging blog, now!

You have to click HERE to read my blog today, because really it's Susan's Pitcherlady blog, with a "pitcher" of a penny, and a really great accompanying story.

If you can't get enough of her here, you must go read her other blog, Carny Dog. The pitchers and the stories there will will melt your heart.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pennies, mon.

My first Penny Photo entry came in today, all the way from Jamaica! Jen & Bill took some time out of their busy honeymooning to participate! Yay!

Who's on deck?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lucky Penny—Wanna Play?

While Clint worked yesterday, I took off with my camera, to meander the streets of small-town Paxton, IL. Shortly after I arrived, I received a text message from Clint, with a challenge:

"Take a pic of a penny in an odd situation. Surprise me tomorrow."

Amazing what a different spin the afternoon had, as I sought out photos, and tried to figure out which I could work pennies into. At days end, after an afternoon in Paxton, and an evening at a cookout, I came home with fewer than I expected.

Feel free to join in the challenge. Give us a penny photo! Post it on your blog and I'll link to you. If you don't have a blog, email yours to me, and I'll post it here.


(Paxton photos can be viewed here.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pity Party

Following Clint into the house last night, I lost my grip on the screen door, which opens in the wrong direction—you kind of have to open it, then walk around it. The corner of it smacked across the top of my foot right-goodly-like. I commenced to swearing and hopping around the house, both laughing and wailing, while a concerned Clint wanted to know if it was bleeding.

Of course it wasn't bleeding; there wasn't so much as a blemish on the top of my foot when we retired.

I woke up to a goose-egg on top of my foot this morning though, and I am vindicated for the scene I made last night.

Cue the violins, please. All proper pity can be directed to the comments section.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More Birdy Babies

I was working away at work this morning when I heard a sudden cacophony. Clucking and squealing was getting closer and closer. Turns out it was all of the women I work with, racing up to tell me to grab my camera and get outside! I did, I grabbed and ran, to see what they had seen, marching by their office windows:

Bouncing Baby Grandbirdies

Clint and I have been admiring a new home on our property, established in a vintage John Deere tractor that he hopes to restore one day. A gorgeous little nest that held the most brilliant turquoise eggs.

Mama's been diligently covering those eggs—you can just see her in this photo:

...and Monday, I got a text from Clint that read "we got tractor babies!"

Indeed we do, 3 little tractor-baby Robins, whose eyes are not yet open, but are still capable of making the most interesting horking and gorking sounds.

We sneak in for peeks while Mama flies just out of our reach, but keeps a watchful eye on us as we admire hers.

All of these photos are Clint's; we hope to update you on Grandbirdie's progress through the spring.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wedding Weekend Wrap-up

The starting gun for the summer has been fired, it seems, and my blogging time is waning, lately. I have a tendency to want to take my time, and get prolific, spill my guts, and tell it all. We're still working on the house, Mama needs daily help, grass needs mowin, and most importantly, work is picking up, which really cramps my bloggin' style.

So, I've decided to switch up the format for the blog for awhile, toss in a photo and a paragraph, and no pressure, and no drama. Unless I'm feeling particularly drama-queenish, and then I will invite myself to wear you out.

But HEY! We are still celebrating, today, the joining of Jen & Bill in Holy Matrimony, last Saturday.

The weekend started out Friday morning, me a comfortable passenger with Clint & Craig. I've had an effect on these boys: Craig spent the trip pointing on photos I could take. I was riding out a traffic jam with a good book, when Craig insisted I take a photo of the chicken. Chicken? What Chicken? What? Oh. That chicken:

And when we arrived, we got to Rehearsin:

And Rehearsal Dinnerin:

And walking daughters down the aisle:


Then pronouncing them man and wife:

And cheering and celebrating:

And receptioning, and eating and drinking and laughing and dancing and singing and cupcaking:

And, of course...

It was was an amazing weekend, full of friends, family, love, laughter.

Jen & Bill: I'm sorry that the post about your wedding starts off with a rubber chicken photo. Blame it on your brother, have a great honeymoon, and P.S. We Love You.