Friday, November 30, 2012

Iggy Pop

While I was searching for the photo from last week's post, I found this bunch from a visit from Ygal (and Cristina) back in May of 1999.  I don't know that they've ever been shared since they were still in paper format. I'm glad to be able to share them now.....hope you enjoy....(I especially like the last one!)....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This Week

It's been busy so there hasn't been much bloggin' going on!

We've had some really nice afternoons and have been trying to spend time out back doing things like this....

....while we still can!

One afternoon I found this tiny little beast hiding between a bunch of my watering cans!

Poor thing. He must've been scared to death with myself, Clara and Hubbell all running around, screaming, playing, etc.  He REALLY didn't like it when I came close to take some pictures!

There's a small grove of male gingko trees not far from our house.  In the Fall, when they all turn yellow, it is a sight to behold.  For some reason, they weren't as vibrantly yellow this year. Still, yesterday, while I was sitting at the stoplight next to them, I loved how they looked all naked with their gorgeous leaves scattered on the ground.

When we got home from school today, Sophie said to me, "Mommy, your friend's in the backyard."  To say that I was spooked would be an understatement.  We keep our back gate locked so the kids can't wander out without us knowing.  Anyone coming in would have to climb over.  Imagine my relief when she quickly followed up her statement with, "IT'S HARRY!".  Sure enough, it was.  I love this time of year because he is SO EASY to pick out. He doesn't have to compete with any leaves!  He sat on that branch for a good half an hour.  Oh, how I was wishing for a camera that would allow to get an up-close shot. This was taken from a great distance but it was as close and as clear as I could get.  Still, I like it.  Harry is just so divine!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Make Your Heart Smile!

There are no words to describe how much I adore this video or how happy it makes me.  I don't want to say more, just watch the video.  There's a good chance it will be the best part of your day today!


Sophie's Six Year Old Interview

Let's try to look over the fact that this post is almost three months late and just celebrate that it's being done at all!  This little tradition has quickly become one of my most favorite things and Sophie is now at an age where she really enjoys it as well.  Here we go:

What's your favorite color?  Green

What's your favorite food?  Mac & Cheese

Who are your favorite friends?  Aiden & Megan

Sophie, with Megan, at their classroom's Thanksgiving Feast

What's your favorite thing to play?  Playmobil

What's your favorite animal?  I kind of have three.  I used to like elephants but now I like cats but I'm starting to like dolphins.

Sophie, while dolphin watching, on her birthday trip to Hilton Head

If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  New York City

What's your favorite letter?  H, because Hubbell begins with H.

What's your favorite number?  7 and 13. 7 because it starts with "S" and I just like 13.

Do you like school?  Yeah

What's your favorite book?  The Berenstein Bears.  Any one in particular?  No, I like them all.

What's your favorite word?  Me

What's your favorite song?  I Like To Move It, Move It

What's your favorite thing to do?  Swimming

While grainy, I love this picture ~ this is Sophie at the beach. She never removes her swimsuit!

What makes you happy?  Having playdates with my friends

What would you like to be when you grow up?  Three things ~ a doctor, a farmer and a teacher.

When you close your eyes, what do you see?  My friends

Sophie, with her friend, Jaylon, at school

What is your favorite pet?  A dog.

What's your favorite treat?  Ice Cream

After interviewing Sophie, we went back and read through her five and four year old interviews.  She laughed at some of her answers and could not understand why Clara played such a big role in last year's interview.  How funny!  I love how some answers have stayed the same every year.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Iggy Pop

When I was growing up, I always wanted more siblings so I considered myself lucky when I got married and gained three brothers-in-law.

While I love them all, Ygal was the brother with which I had the most in common.

Ygal loved to dig his hands into the dirt and took much delight in seeing what would pop up.  He'd often send me pictures of veggies and herbs that he was growing on his balcony in Switzerland.  He had big audacious dreams of owning an organic farm here in the U.S.  I'd always joke that I'd come live with he and Bianca when that dream came true.  Over the years, before I knew better and on more than one occasion, we fed ducks and geese stale bread.  Ygal was the only person to get as excited and enjoy it as much as me.  I always loved the above picture because of this.....I appreciated that (very much) about him.  When we met, he was actually a vegetarian.  At some point, he went back to eating meat again.....but I guess nobody's perfect!  

One of my favorite things in Switzerland are these amazing community garden spaces that are quite common.  Since most people live in apartments, those who love gardening rent ground in these gardens. Most of the plots have a little shed type structure and people will go there and hang out for hours.  Ygal and I used to talk about having one of those in the future where we could go and hang out for hours.....gardening, drinking, snacking, harvesting, etc.  I know I will think of him every single time I pass by one of those community gardens in the future.  And I will always be sad that our shared dream won't come to fruition.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Oh So Thankful

In honor of my favorite holiday, I'm posting two photos I took at the Thanksgiving Parade this morning:

How fabulous and fun are they?

I am wickedly thankful for so many things but I won't bore you with my lengthy list. I think you already have some idea what I'm thankful for....

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Sorry for my lack of blogging but I've been in a serious reading mood lately.  I don't have much free time so, if I want to read, guess what has to suffer?  Here's a peek at my "bookshelf" at the moment....

 I just finished this one. Read it in 2 days.  Did not want to put it down.  I've been crazy about John for over 30 years now and his book just DID NOT disappoint!

 This book is preaching to the choir for me.  Still, I'm enjoying it!

Kunstler's book, The Long Emergency, profoundly changed I think about things, my choices, the way I think about society, the world, my small community, everything.  When I found out there was a follow-up book, I rushed right to the library.

I hardly ever read Fiction but, for some reason, I picked this up off the library shelf last week. Let's see if I actually get through it!  Sounds cute!

A little someone just woke from her nap and is crying for me so I've gotta' jet....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Iggy Pop

When I first had the idea to do these Friday posts, I had one particular photo in mind that I KNEW I'd have to use.  It is truly my second favorite photo of Ygal, the first being this one.  This picture is from 1996 so believe me when I say that I had to dredge it up from some dusty old photo album (remember those?).  Let's just say that it took a while.  But I am so happy to be able to post it today.....

If I had to choose only one way to remember Ygal, it would be just like this.  The old version of Ygal, when I lived in Switzerland.  Anyone else would call it the young version of Ygal but I think you know what I mean. I loved his LONG hair (hidden in a ponytail here) and his Lennon style glasses. We hung out a lot back then as we lived in the same house. It was almost a daily occurrence that we'd walk Skipper together. I'm very thankful for that time now ~ if only I had more pictures. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Conversation With Sophie

Background: Sophie's class has a Behavior Chart that is in use every day.  Basically, if you behave like a robot and don't utter a word all day, you "clip up" and get a sticker on your clip.  If you remain on green all day, that means you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. A yellow means you've received a warning or two during the day. A red means.....I don't know really but I know it's bad. I am nothing less than outspoken about how much I dislike this system.  You'll have to trust me when I say that this chart is THE FOCUS of the classroom. Sophie can come home each day and tell me how every single one of her classmates "clipped" that day. At the same time, she struggles to tell me what they learned.  My child receives green almost every single day yet feels disappointed because she didn't "clip up". Obviously this is a flawed system. To me it's just another way to label children and focus more attention on those children who are more spirited and struggle to keep it together ALL DAY LONG. Keep in mind that some of these children only turned five a few months ago.  It also detracts from the actual learning. I do feel for a single teacher in charge of 24 kindergartners ~ it's not easy. Still, I can't help but feel that there has to be a better way!

Last night when I was putting Sophie to bed, she was telling me all the usual nonsense about how her friends clipped that day. One of Sophie's close friends "clips up" every single day.  I am always asking Sophie how this friend manages to clip up every day....I mean really!  Sophie says to me, "Autumn (name has been changed) is quiet all the time and I am not."  So I reply, "Yes Soph, that's true and I happen to like that about you. I want to hear your opinions and stories and thoughts. As long as you know when it's appropriate to speak and when it isn't. You have to always be respectful to your teacher."  Then she looks at me with a curious look and she says to me, "That is non friction."  (I am literally pinching myself to keep from giggling.) Non friction?  "Yes Mommy, like not friction." So I probe by saying, "I'm not sure I know what that means."  She then explains to me that something "non-friction" means it's something that is fact, truth or that really happened and that "friction" is something made up.  


I know that her class has been learning the difference between non-fiction and fiction and that she's trying to work out how to use these terms.  But friction?  That is so adorable.  I tell her how proud I am that she knows these words and what they mean but gently tell her how it's really spelled and pronounced. Still, it made my heart swell and I smiled all of the way out of her room.  She just makes me so happy! 

(Photos were all taken at the Musical Petting Zoo that preceeded the Children's Symphony)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Soaking Up The Last Bits of Fall

Hmmm, it makes me sad just to write that.  It seems like Fall just arrived.  Yet the colors are already more muted and some trees are almost bare.  Clara and I went for a quick walk in the forest yesterday while Sophie and Daddy were at the fields playing soccer.  Our favorite woodsy game is to try and catch the falling leaves before they hit the ground.  Here are a few quick shots:

I will never tire of the mighty, mighty oaks.

I'll also never tire of this delicious little baby face.

The leaves on the ground are now all brown.  I already miss the vibrant shades of red & yellow under my feet.

The leaves still clinging are often spotty, like this sycamore maple leaf.

Bye bye, Fall.  We will miss you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Identifying Trees With Grammy

I was so happy to enjoy a visit from my grandmother this past weekend. My Mom came down to visit and to babysit the girls so that we could have a nice dinner with friends on Saturday night. Thank you, Mom!  I was thrilled to hear that Grammy would be tagging along.  She doesn't get to visit often but it's such a pleasure to have her here.  Always.  She used to live in Charlotte and loves this city as much as I do.

On this visit, we made a visit downtown. Sophie had tickets to the Youth Symphony so Alain, Grammy, Clara and I watched the Veteran's Day parade while Soph and my Mom were in the theater.  Afterwards we had a nice lunch and then took a little scenic walk back to the parking garage.  On the way, we stopped at a small garden/fountain area at the street level of the building where I used to work.  As Alain and Soph ran around the fountain and played, my grandmother and I admired the trees planted there.  She was curious what type of trees they were.

As it happens, I'd just found one of my favorite books the day before as I was cleaning.

So we took a twig from both the male and female tree, I took a photo of the bark and we headed home. 
Tonight I had some time to go through the book and, as it turns out, these particular trees are either Siberian Elms or Chinese Elms.  Both seem to look a lot alike.  Here are the photos of the leaves and the bark.

Siberian and Chinese Elms were both imported from Asia and they can be invasive in certain areas of the country.  They are fast growing and seem to be resistant to diseases that afflict other elm varieties. As in this particular case, they are also hardy in urban settings.

On several websites, I was amazed to find that the inner bark of this tree was often dried, ground into powder and used as a thickening agent in soups and breads.  I was not surprised to read how the flowers and stem bark are used to treat all sorts of conditions and ailments.

I found all of this quite fascinating and it made me so thankful to have a grandmother who shares such interests as my own.  Who knows, maybe she was the influence.  For that, Grammy, I have so much to thank you for!  Here she is enjoying a coffee and the parade....


Later on she remarked how this was the nicest day she'd enjoyed in a long time.  To that, I simply say, you and me both.  Oh, and.....


Friday, November 9, 2012

Iggy Pop

Yesterday would have been the 3rd Wedding Anniversary of Ygal and Bianca.

These are the best pictures we have from the wedding.

I love how happy Ygal & Bianca look in these pictures and I'm so happy we were there to share such a joyous, beautiful, momentous moment in both of their lives.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life In A (Tiny) Fall Garden

The first peapods are growing.

I recently discovered a tiny lizard living in my lettuce bed. He's hard to get a photo of but can you see him under one of the leaves in the above photo?

To say that this hot pepper plant is prolific would be a gross understatement.

What to do with all of them?  We give most away.  Our neighbor gave us an awesome idea. Dry them.  So we did. Put peppers on a tray and bake them in the oven on the lowest setting for 12-14 hours. When done, let them cool, remove stems and then crush them.  We now have a spice jar full of dried pepper flakes/powder.  Alain added some to a slice of pizza last night.  Woohoo, they're hot!  As a side benefit, drying them in the oven leaves the most wonderful smell in the house.

The onions are growing nicely.

I planted a cabbage plant a few weeks ago. I went out to check on it after a week and found a potato plant sprouting up in the exact same spot!  Guess we didn't get all the potatoes out of the dirt last Spring!

Soph's zinnia plant is still as lovely as ever!

My lettuce bed.  It's a mess.  I originally planted 9 lettuce plants but something or someone came and ate most of them. So I bought some seeds and just threw a bunch down. After about two weeks, all of those seeds are growing very nicely......except I haven't had time to go out and do a proper thinning.

Another of my cabbage plants. It's so pretty.

A close-up.  I know I haven't said it in a while but cabbage leaves are one of my favorite things about gardening. I love the details and the colors.  They're just so pretty.

And that is why I am such a complete dork.  A cabbage leaf can make my day.
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