Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can you hear it?


The fans and dehumidifiers have been turned off and removed.  They tell us we are now dry.  All that remains is to have things put back the way it should be.  The damage was much more extensive than I could have ever imagined...the good news is it is covered by our insurance.  Thank you for all of your kind comments and thoughts.  You truly lifted my spirits with your chuckles and your similar tales of water woes.      

As soon as the last piece of equipment exited through the front door I began vacuuming and dusting.   Just returning the coffeepot to its spot made me feel happier.   The bookcases will remain on their sides in the middle of the room.  Books are still quietly lined and stacked in the guest room and office.  Most everything from the kitchen counters will remain in the dining room.   Even though I would love to be putting everything back where it belongs, it seem pointless,
until all the reconstruction has taken place.  

What do I do when I am are waiting for appointments to show up
and phone calls to be returned?  

I play on Pinterest.

I did a bit of housekeeping on my boards.  I finally fiddled around and figured out how to link pinterest and Living Life.  I searched out new folks to follow.   And, I did quite a bit of "pinning".

I am longing for summer to bid us farewell and exit the stage.  I am not for sure I can think to offer her a standing ovation.

It is time for autumn's arrival; I can't wait!
I found so many pretties to send me dreaming of cooler days.

I can just imagine curling up here with a great book and a cup of tea.
Maybe you would like to join me for an afternoon chat.

So many recipes just longing to be created.

Pears, cranberries, feta and walnuts.  Who could resist this yummy autumn salad.


I did a little planning for a trip to Ireland.

And, books...oh so many books!

I just started The Lost Wife.  I'll let you know what I think.

Okay, today was pretty much a wait and see day.  
Tomorrow the alarm will sound and I will be back in school.

How do you pass time when you are on someone else's timetable?

first two pictures are my own.  The others via pinterest.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Little Blown Away

"You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace."
Frank McCourt

I read Angelia's Ashes many years ago and loved it.   I remember waking early just to spend a hour or so reading and weeping before anyone else began to stir.  My family benefited greatly by my reading this book.  I was so distraught over the poverty and hunger McCourt  described throughout his story I would fix enormous breakfasts (cooking through tears) just because I could.  It was one of those books that when you close the cover you find you have been changed.   I try very hard to not take anything for granted and to be thankful for all with which I have been blessed.

With all that said  I'm having to work a bit at finding the silver lining right now, but I know there is one.  Friday I finally hit the breaking point and needed to have my moment.  I knew I no longer had control of my surroundings and didn't (couldn't) talk to anyone.  I was either going to snap or start sobbing.  The best thing for me was going to be to just keep my mouth shut.  

I work with two wonderful women (I actually work with thirteen wonderful women) who can read "my deer in the headlight" expressions.   When I walked into school Friday one looked at me and ask how things were and said, "You are going to cry aren't you?"  She allowed me to walk by and I could feel her protection the rest of the morning.  

The second dear friend stood with me and listened while I explained how out of control I was feeling, tears pooling under my eyes.  This in itself helped me regain my composure and a sense of control.

We have been both literally and figuratively blown away here at Living Life.  After having two plumbers and my contractor in to tell me what I should do about the water seeping up through the floors, the insurance company finally took charge.  They sent a "clean up" crew in Thursday evening and within fifteen minutes had found the leak.  The leak was not in the shower in the master or the tub in the hall bathroom.  It was in the wall behind a sink in the upstairs bathroom.  

By 8:00 p.m. they had ripped off baseboards and wood flooring.  They brought in industrial fans and dehumidifiers.

By 9:00 p.m.  they realized there was too much water for the dehumidifiers, left and returned with equipment to pump the water out of the house.

A third plumber came in Friday morning, and after making five holes in the kitchen ceiling, one in the family room, one in my studio wall and one under the sink finally found a way to stop the leak.  

Tomorrow the plumber will return and reseal the marble shower and recaulk all the bathtubs.  The appraiser with be in to assess the damage.   The fans and dehumidifiers will remain for another week.  The clean up guys come in everyday to take moisture readings.   Once all is dry the reconstruction will begin.  

As I read the above quotation I remembered the time reading Angelia's Ashes and the impact it had.  I had my moment and I am back.  I still have little if any control over what is going on inside my home.     I do, however, have control over my mind and how I choose to handle the situation.  This I know all will be put back to normal in a month or so.

Oh, and you have to find the humor in every situation.  Friday morning I walked through the family room with a plate of toast looking for a quiet place for a bite of breakfast.   As, I passed through the collection fans my bread was blown off the plate and sent sailing through the air.   I constantly have that  much sought after windblown look.  Today.....I choose to laugh.

What can I say....it is what it is!
Fortunately it is only my house (how blessed I am to have a house), brick and mortar, needing to be fixed, and it can and will be.  I'm over it.  Nothing more needs to be said.

I may be in and out for a couple of weeks.  I will keep up with you though.  

I hope you can find a little humor in what ever bridge you find yourself crossing today. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Reading

Much like an ostrich, when thing go awry I look for a place to stick my head.   It seems I've spent the last few weeks waiting on someone.   Just when I thought things were back to normal I find I am once again the one waiting for plumbers, contractors, and landscapers.   

In the past I might have pulled out the knitting needles and knitted away or spent time working in the garden (too hot for either), but this summer I have enjoyed keeping a book in my hand.    I have opened several the last three weeks only to find they were unable to slow my brain and  pull me into their web.   I am certain they are all fine books; I will open them again another day.   It just wasn't our time. 

 I keep a running list of titles on my iPhone.  Or, when browsing bookstores, I will snap a picture of  the books I might want to read.  My book titles are mixed in with names of plants and flowers I want to research for the garden.  I dislike not being able to think of the title of a book or an author's name if I happen to unexpectantly stop by the library or bookstore.  

This is on my to-read list
How and where do you keep lists of things you want to do or read?

With the help of many of you, and by searching the library shelves I did find three books to end my summer reading. 

I was intrigued by the book cover of 13 rue Theresa.  A found box full of artifacts having belonged to a unknown French woman who lived through two world wars?  Having recently uncovered an old camelback trunk given as a gift to a great great aunt myself, I was immediately intrigued with this tale.    The story is told through the writings of the finder of the box, Trevor Straton, an American professor working in Paris.   With each treasure he builds an imaginary story around the life and relationships of the mysterious owner,  Louise Brunet.  Are his imaginings fiction or does be come eerily close to the truth?  And what is the result of his ponderings.  I found this book often times confusing, but well worth the time spent untangling and putting the puzzle together.

I was not at all familiar with The Enchanted April or the author Elizabeth Von Armin.   I will admit I almost passed on this one when I read a review describing it a "ChickLit"  I am so glad I didn't.   This is story of four women wanting to escape their everyday lives.   They combine their resources to rent a castle in the Italian Riviera found in a "for rent" ad.    During their stay bonds are created and attitudes altered.  I found this novel just as intoxicating and magical as the women found San Salvatorie.  This is just a delightful read.  I am hoping to find a copy of this book and the author's other books.  I think she could become a favorite.

A Room with a View  is a favorite of so many of you.  I read it too many years ago to admit; I believe I was in high school.  Picking it up again was like uncovering a new treasure.  There was a sense of deja vu, but I couldn't decide if I was actually remembering or just anticipating.   I fell in love with Lucy Honeychurch as she innocently worked her way through the social rules of the time.  Would she do what was expected or follow her heart.   So many characters to enjoy.  I won't wait another 40 years to reread this wonderful book again.  I've actually added it to my library.

You might notice I took some suggestions from the comments I received on a previous post.   

I'm putting together my list of suggestions for my book group and trying to decide what to take to read on the plane to Ireland.  James Joyce maybe?  Maybe, but probably not.

A few titles I'm looking at for the many hours I will be in the airport or on the plane.

Sleeping With the Enemy
Coco Chanel's Secret War
Hal Vaughn

The Age of Desire
Jennie Fields

The Chaperone
Laura Moriarty

Thank you for all your comments on my last post.  It just is what it is.  Life is an adventure.  I am so blessed in so many ways, this is just one of those hiccups.   I might sound like a bit of a Pollyanna, but I can't let things out of my control and ultimately fixable consume me.  (I do have my fretful moments)   There are just too many good things to acknowledge.   I'll just use this inconvenience as an excuse to escape to the bookstore or out with a friend.

I hope you are having a wonderful week! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And the Band Plays On

We haven't quite reached the level of the Titanic disaster....

How wonderful it has been to be able to turn on a water faucet and have running water on demand.  We have been almost giddy.  With the new line and meter the volume and pressure were pumped up to a new level.  To say it has been wonderful is an understatement.

In my mother's words, "there is a price to pay for all good things".

Friday evening it became apparent we had a leak inside the house.  The plumber came in (after hours) and confirmed we had a leak in the master shower probably due to added pressure and volume.  They couldn't come in till Monday.   Water was running across the kitchen ceiling and down the wall between the kitchen and den, seeping up through the floorboards.  We stood watching boards change shades of brown and begin buckling. 

Books were taken out of the book shelf.  The bookshelf pulled from the wall.  Roger was busy pulling off  quarter round from the baseboards and I was beginning to fret because I had a small dinner party planned for Saturday evening to celebrate our children's arrival.  There was nothing left to do but to eliminate the use of water in that area, try to minimize further damage and  carry on.

So what does one do when you have guest coming for dinner,  your house has been turned upside down and water seeping through the floor.  You just deal with it, put away the cookbooks  and go back to the basics.

Roger pulled out the Weber for grilling steaks.

I took care of the sides.

Twice baked potatoes

 Sautéd sugar snaps and young asparagus tips sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

And finished off with Mayan dark chocolate brownies.
Vanilla bean ice cream was optional.

No one noticed the bookshelf on it's side in the middle of the floor as they passed by (wink, wink)  or the towels stuck under the baseboards.   We were too busy laughing and having a grand time with family.  

As our guest left I mentioned swimming goggles might be a nice accessory next time.  You never know what is waiting for you when you enter my front door.  

Tomorrow the plumber will return, hopefully with a crew.   I am sure some carpenters will be following shortly thereafter.

And yes, the band plays on.........

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Nothing was going to overshadow my time with my children.

Have a great week!


Do you like eggplant?

I want to like eggplant.
I love its rich purple colors.
I like the look of all the different varieties of the vegetable, but I am just not a big fan.

However,  at least once each summer, while browsing the vendors at the Farmer's Market,  I allow that beautiful purple orb to seduce me.    Sometimes I will come home with little miniatures stripped in creams and purples.   Another time it might be the big almost black one that jumps into my market bag.

This year I picked up a small bright violet eggplant and brought it home.  I set it on the counter and began perusing my cookbooks and magazines for a recipe that I thought might change my mind about this vegetable.

I found a recipe in a Southern Living for Chicken with Ratatouille.   Having all the ingredients I set out peeling, chopping, and sautéing.  I now think I have the perfect recipe for my yearly obsession with the eggplant.

(The recipe calls for frying the chicken tenderloins.  I chose to grill chicken breasts)

Farmer's Market Ratatouille
(inspired by Southern Living)

1 small purple onion, chopped
1/2 of a medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
olive oil
1 small yellow squash, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped basil
sea salt

Heat olive oil over medium high heat until tender.  Add squash, garlic and bell pepper and saute' for about 5 minutes.  Add tomato. basil, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring just until tomatoes are warmed.  4 servings.

Bon Appetit'!

Eggplant might be more than a pretty vegetable after all.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

With No Regrets

"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."
Jean de La Bruyere

My summer break is over.   I've spent the better part of this week dusting shelves, straightening books and changing out my bulletin board.  I am looking forward to a new school year.  I am ready!

Next week we will begin our meetings.  It is always fun to see everyone again.  I am sure the question, "Where did the time go?" will be bandied around with discussion of summer activities.

My summer?
I had so many plans, and I failed miserably
 to execute even the smallest task on my list.

Yes, I traveled a bit and read a few books. 
I have enjoyed lunch and tea with friends. 
I have celebrated weddings, births and anniversaries. 
There were experiments in the kitchen, in the garden, 
with my writing and my paints.
Dinner invitations were accepted and dinner parties held.
I browsed galleries, museums, bookstores and estate sales.
I have made a few new acquaintances, reconnected with old friend and
 accepted that to at least one my name and face is no longer remembered.
I have laughed  a lot and shed only a few tears.
I survived the record heat and two weeks with a rationed water supply.

I have lived
regret not a wasted moment.

I still have a weekend remaining and my children will be here for a quick visit.
The perfect ending to a good summer.

And I am blessed.

Art:  A Young Lady Reading in an Interior
George Goodwin Kilburne
English (1839 - 1924)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We Are What....

"I am a part of all that I have met."
                                                                                       Alfred Tennyson

I believe I have mentioned I receive a quotation through my email each morning.   It is the first thing I check as I slip out of bed and begin on my morning path.   Sometimes I am given a chuckle, sometimes I am delivered something to think about, and sometimes I am given a line that sends me off to the place where I store my memories...my heart. 

And so, with those ten words Mr. Tennyson handed me all three.

The Lady of Shallot - John William Waterhouse 1888
(you may find the poem, "The Lady of Shallot"
 and other beautiful illustrations on this site)

My daughter has alway loved books.  This shouldn't have come as a surprise as I actually began reading to her before she was born.  I loved Beatrix Potter and many nights would read Peter Rabbit along with her other creations aloud.    I decorated the nursery with all things Beatrix Potter (and  lots of rabbits) long before I knew if I would bring home a boy or a girl.

File:Peter Rabbit family.jpg
via Wikipedia

Once she arrived Roger found joy in reading to her each night.  It became their nightly ritual.  Books were always found under the Christmas tree, among birthday presents and in in Easter baskets.  Her love of books grew as did our book population and her vocabulary.

When she was four one of the preschool teachers mentioned how proud I must be of my daughter.  "Well yes, I am always proud of her."  I must have had a bit of a quizzical look on my face as she added, "she has read everything in my room this afternoon".  I was stunned!   She was reading?  I am her mother, how could I not know she was reading?

When we got into the car, I ask her why she hadn't read for me.  She said, "because I was afraid you wouldn't read to me anymore".  We began a new ritual... we began reading to one another.

Just as I had devoured The Oz series, every Nancy Drew book in the library, Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I watched her plow through Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women as well as other wonderful books.  Halloween costumes were stitched on my sewing machine, but must often spun from inspiration she first found in a book.    I can still remember her standing at the top of the stairs with hand against a furrowed brow declaring, "I am in the depths of despair".  And, she would have fit in quite well upstairs in the March attic writing for "The Pickwick Papers".

During a parent/teacher conference her fifth grade teacher ask me how I would describe my daughter.  I said, "she is a little bit Laura Ingalls, a little bit of Anne Shirley, and a little bit of Jo March".  I can still remember the teacher's face as she said " That's wonderful!"

I always loved my daughter was influenced, at an early age,  by the characters she found while reading.   I was not in the least surprised when she came home from playing at a friends house with red lipstick on her blouse.  When I ask how she got it on her, she simply said it was blood.  "A. killed me and said 'et tu brute' ".   "Why?"  "We were playing Julius Caesar!"  Silly me, don't all third graders play Julius Caesar?  Yes, I've always thought she had Laura's spunk,  Anne's love of drama and Jo's drive and creativity.  She is all this, and so much more, blended into the her perfect self.

I shared the quotation and my thoughts with her Tuesday and  ask if she remembered spending an afternoon (twenty years ago) searching for a book with Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shallot".  (It was one of Anne Shirley's favorite poems)  Could we have found it in the States?  Absolutely, but what fun we had finding it in England.

It is still upstairs in her room, a bit tattered and worn.

Lord Alfred Tennyson, sir, you have entered my life once again, 
and I must agree, 
we most certainly are a part of all that we meet, 
especially those we spend time with between the covers of a book.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Playing Around....Again

It has been said I cannot leave well enough alone.
I have always been the one to move into a new office or classroom, start throwing out and moving things around.  There is very little that is sacred when I am on a rampage.  Yes, I am the guilty one who threw away all the faded scrapes of construction paper and  random Weekly Readers from 1987.

Last night my photograph bank became my latest victim.  I tried to be careful.  I flipped between the "albums" and earlier posts several times making sure I didn't delete photos I had used.  When I first began writing Living Life, I didn't realize I had limited space for photographs and was not very careful in uploading my pictures.  

Well in my moment of deleting I noticed I had four copies of 


I checked, double checked and tripled checked to make sure I left the correct one and proceeded to delete the extras.  Everything seemed to be okay.  Well I was wrong, as I so often find.  This morning when I posted a comment, a black box with a hyphen (minus sign, dash) appeared. 

Bottom line.... for now (I'll find something I like better) when you see

you will know it is only I.

In checking I find I now have four copies of this photo.  Who knew?


Here is a little something that floated out of an old journal this morning. 

If A Dog Was Your Teacher,
you would learn stuff like.....

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.  Allow the experience of fresh air and  the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  • When it's in your best interest --practice obedience.
  • Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
  • Take naps and stretch before rising
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
  • When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout...run right back and make friends.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.  Stop when you have had enough.
  • Be loyal.
  • Never pretend to be something you're not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Favorite Thing

Last summer while browsing the magazine section, at the bookstore, in search of something fresh and exciting I happened upon Hoffman Media's "cottage" publication.  Always a handsome cover, quality papers and published seasonally, it has become a favorite.

Yesterday I came home with the Autumn issue, found a cool place to sit and escaped for a bit.

I never tire of the beautiful photographs.

There is something on every page to delight me.

I can imagine finding a cozy spot to spend a cool autumn afternoon
 with a good book and a cup of tea.  Would you like to join me?

I'm already dreaming of transitioning the containers.
It will soon be time to change out the impatiens
for mums and pansies.

The peaches and summer squash will disappear from the bins at the Farmer's Market,
 to be replaced with crisp apples and butternut squash.
Oh I can smell the apple pie baking (it is my one weakness).

Cooler days and approaching holidays mean it's time to head back into the studio.
Are your creative juices beginning to flow?

Are you dreaming of Autumn?
Share your thoughts with me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Just a Hiccup

We are still without water and at the mercy of the city to fit us into their schedule.  We are so fortunate in that we can turn the water on at the meter for short periods.   We can take quick showers and wash a few dishes.   The second refrigerator is full of bottled water.  There is a container of wipes by each sink for washing hands and cleaning up messes.   I've become very water efficient, and...I've mastered that intimidating tool that is used to turn on the water.   I am feeling a bit like "wonder woman".  ha! ha! ha!

I have had several friends call to rescue me this weekend.  In reality this is just a little hiccup in my day to day routine.  Although I did tell a friend to slap me next time I venture off and begin romanticizing about simpler times gone by.  I am quite happy living in this complicated 21st century with air conditioning, automobiles, refrigerators, Starbucks, and indoor plumbing.

Today I count my blessings!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Oh yes, the scorching heat, unabating drought, and dogs gone mad.
 All of these are characteristic of "the dog days of summer".  


Have you ever wondered why the days between July 3 and August 11 are called "the dog days of summer"?  Some say it because it is so hot it is not fit for a dog.  Others have believed it is because it is a time of plagues, floods and, yes, dogs going mad.

Actually, the phrase was coined during ancient days when it was believed  the "dog" star, Siruis, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, was responsible for the extreme heat, flooding and other heat related disasters and illnesses.   The "dog days" stretch from July to mid August  when Siruis (scorching) rises with and is nearest to the sun.   Some believe (or believed)  Siruis is actually hotter than the sun, and the two being so near one another is the reason for the extreme summer heat in the western hemisphere.  However, Geminus, a first century astronomer and mathematician,  wrote, "this is an error, for the star merely marks the season of the year when the sun's heat is greatest."

Are we nearing the end of this year's heat wave?  There are some who believe that because of precession, "the wobbling of the earth on it's axis", the dates are now July 23 through August 22.   

The Egyptians once believed Siruis was responsible for the Nile's flooding.  Shall we blame the "dog star" for our  recent weather anomalies?
I do not know!  I am but a mere collector of random information.

Willie is going to spend a bit of time napping and pondering the subject.


Update:  Do you remember this post..... Oops?  We might actually find the missing valve box.  Yesterday I walked out the front door to find the stone path, running through the garden, flooded.  Presently, we are without water; it was Starbucks for coffee this morning.   The plumbers are here digging up one of the front gardens.  It doesn't sound good.... a portion of the driveway will need to be cut out, the roses and a maple will need to be relocated, another garden destroyed.  Days of turning the water on and off at the water main with a tool that is a little intimidating.  This is a really big oops.  Oh my!  

I think I'll blame the dog days of summer, go hide and play with my watercolors.