Spring Cleaning Day 2

Looking over my list of cleaning chores today I made a decision early on. I would need more coffee!

I always tackle the bathrooms first, but looking back I wish I would have put pads on my knees! I tried a new way of cleaning windows, but I just couldn't manage the window sill, dress, and bucket of water as gracefully as she did.
With another day of spring cleaning under my belt I washed my last dishes then enjoyed my new blue glass collection sparkling in the sun.
The day wasn't complete until the table was moved back out on the deck and I found a spring tablecloth. Then I could take a break and enjoy some late sunshine and conversation.

Spring Cleaning Day 1

....then I woke up and realized it was Spring Cleaning Day 1. I learned today that dust bunnies can multiply quicker than their live counterparts. I discovered a beautiful view of the yard after a window was cleaned. Finally, I was reminded of muscles that had been hibernating all winter. I need a soak in the tub !

Tomorrow I will wear my new pink apron and polish appliances! I can't wait.

My Own Orange Punchbowl Cake: A Keeper from the Recipe Box

There are many variations on the Punchbowl Cake recipe idea. I have a large clear salad bowl I usually use for mine. I made a smaller version of the cake in the trifle bowl above for a church potluck today. This recipe usually serves about 30. After trying different variations, I created this one myself. Trust me... this is easy!
Inland Empire Girl's Orange Punchbowl Cake
a 2 layer package orange cake mix
1 6 oz. and a 4 oz. package cheesecake or vanilla instant pudding mix, prepared
1 20 oz. can juice packed crushed pineapple
small can mandarin oranges, drained
16 oz. whipped topping
1/3 cup orange liqueur ( optional)

Bake the cake in a 9x13 pan according to mix directions. Let cool. Cut cake into 1 inch cubes. Layer cake, pudding, undrained pineapple, and whipped topping. Repeat layers until bowl is full, having whipped topping on top. Place the mandarin oranges on top of the cake. If using liqueur sprinkle it on top of the cake on each layer and drain the pineapple. Refrigerate until serving time. Prepare a day ahead to enhance flavor. Serves 30.

Just google punchbowl cake recipes and you will see many other recipe ideas.

Photo Hunt: Hands

We raised a toast to the beginning of spring break yesterday. JEJ and I celebrated sunshine and a bit of spring warmth with a a cup of cheer. Nothing like spring weather to bring out the sophistication of green plastic Solo cups filled with a favorite drink on the rocks. To see other photo hunts about Hands go here.

Finally... Time To Spend in the Greenhouse

I was fortunate to get home earlier today. Spring break has begun and the first thing I did was grab my camera and tour around in the sunshine. The second thing I did was tour the greenhouse. It was such a delight to catch photo images with the sunlight streaming through the windows.
I was amazed to see petunias that were in a planter from the deck have rebloomed for spring!
This Martha Washington geranium has also rebloomed and reminded me why it was a favorite last summer.
It is hard not to yearn for sunnier days after photographing these beautiful plants.
I know now why Annie followed me into the greenhouse. She loves to eat on this ornamental grass when I give her chance. You can see between Annie and Shelby they have mowed it down!

First Crocus

Spring Flowers ~ Crocus

Crocus flowers daring tiny warriors
Fighting their way up through
The winter ice
Crocus darling early Spring harbingers
Promising days will soon
Be turning nice

Tiny Crocus flowers grow in close groups
Strength in numbers seeking
Where winter snows still may lie
Encircled encampment of floral troupes
“We march onward to spring”
They raise this brave battle cry

Bold strength contained in Crocus so small
Should winter challenge again
They simply refuse to die
Delicate blossoms possess such wherewithal
I cannot help but wonder then
Should not likewise you and I?

Mary Havra

Third Spring Walk: It is Beginning to Look Like Spring

As I walked through the gardens with camera in hand today I saw more things that hinted toward spring. The flowers above remind me of spring, but I bought those! The garden gate greeting me with the weathered chicken sign.
I finally found the raised beds. They looked eager to be filled with steer manure and seeds!
It is nice to see the shrubs greening up, but the snow does still linger in some places.
In other places it is still covering everything living, but I know there are things growing below!
Shelby still likes to stand on the snowbank, but she is no longer queen of the mountain. Now it is just a tiny hill!

Naming the World

I always love getting a new book in the mail, especially one that I bought used for a fraction of the cost. The book that arrived last week was Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer
edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.

" A delicious book. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party crammed with literary lions. You have the
chance to spend a few moments with each of them. Wit and wisdom abound."
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way

It is like spending a few moments with great writers. This book includes exercises from Dorothy Allison, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Robbins, and Elizabeth Strout. It is divided into sections such as Getting Started, Point of View and Tone, Revision, and Daily Warm-Ups.

The chapter I just digested was entitled" Untold Stories: An Exercise To Generate Fiction" by Dorothy Allison. She introduces an exercise where you write a piece beginning with the line, " I never told anyone..."
Here is my rough draft.
" I never told anyone, but sometimes I wanted to hang out in Room 222. It made school look cool.
I never told anyone that I wished I was a boy so my dad would come and watch me do something.
Once when I was on a date when our raft capsized and we were swept into the river. I was terrified, but I never told anyone.
When I took lifesaving lessons in the old YMCA pool, the basement was creepy, but I never told anyone.

You can also shift to the line " I never told anyone, but I'll tell you..."

I never told anyone, but I'll tell you Mom that you showed amazing grace during your fight with cancer.
I never told anyone, but I'll tell you Sherri that I miss you when I need a recipe with 'secret ingredients'.
I never told anyone, but I'll tell you DR that you have helped me through a dark tunnel with your words of wisdom, listening ear, chocolate, a safe place, and a standing appointment.

I think exercises like these can help to begin a story or a memoir piece. I look forward to moving through other chapters in the book and practicing some other parts of the written word.

Sunday Scribblings: "I Come From"

I come from a childhood entwined in Easter baskets, birthday parties, Dr. Suess, visits to grandmothers' houses, snowy winters, short springs, hide and seek, Leave It To Beaver, fruitcake at Christmas, burning leaves in October, Thanksgiving potlucks, slumber parties, Sunday School, orange Crush,books from the library, the city pool,and Friday night popcorn.

I come from teen years full of spring concerts, "Everybody's Girl", school newspaper, Sadie Hawkins dances, The S& R, Thursday night GAA, Wheat Thins, Pepsi, marching in the Torchlight parade, French, To Kill a Mockingbird, typing class, long phone conversations, stolen kisses, going up the river and out to the lake, and running track.

I come from college years brimming over with laughs, friends, Mort's Club, Taco Time, on the run, the landing, The Perch, the I Tower, Hello Walk, kiddie lit, afro hairdos, Benny and the Jets, student teaching at Ramsey, house president, sunbathing on the deck, working at "the cage", Boville Run, wind,and the arboretum.

I come from early adulthood packed with making bulletin boards, my first car,serious relationships, dancing on week-ends, a wedding, moving away, book groups, going back to school, happy hours, learning piano, teacher friends, "Bowling Babes", writing workshop, changing grade levels, first lattes, dinner gatherings, first dogs, lots of books, fresh pressed cider, recipe collecting, cabin in Idaho, wine tours, hot summers, family gatherings, illness,bird dogs, never slowing down, black holes,The Book Worm, broken marriage, growing flowers, alone, Oregon coast, therapy, moving, good-bye.

I come from a change in life that includes a small school, moving, Friday afternoon football,Lake Roosevelt, finding my place, the guy across the road, dogs and cats, The Hitching Post, coming out of the darkness, writing retreats, four seasons, depression, teaching and learning, therapy, Aunties Bookstore, gardening, July in Moscow, the ferry, family gatherings, pow wows, a camera, road trips, the reservation, camping, new friends and family, Starbucks, finding state parks,nesting, slowing down, blogging, memoirs, Garden Valley Church, being a true fan, red shoes, siblings,online book groups, Camp Aunt Christy, trips to town, love, contentment,peace and quiet.

To read other Sunday Scribblings on " I Come From" go here.

Gonzaga's Goodson Grabs the Spotlight: On to The Sweet Sixteen!

Freshman Demetri Goodson scored a layup with 0.9 seconds left to lift the Zags to a 83-81 victory over Western Kentucky. I love the photo moment above with senior guard Jeremy Pargo embracing freshman Goodson. Goodson's face says it all.... excuse me a moment... I just heard Coach Few say in the uncut interview that the only name the team knows him by is "Meach". The Bulldogs advance to the Sweet Sixteen and take on North Carolina in Memphis on Friday. After this nail biter I have given up on having nails until the tournament is over. Annie also sequestered herself to her dog carrier until I calmed down this evening. I better go let her know who won!

Above "Meach" is in a victory huddle with Austin Daye, Matt Bouldin, and others. He said after the game that the last time he tried the game winning shot was in fifth grade. He made that one also!

Photo Hunt: Yellow

a collection of yellow images from the photo album

To view other photo hunts using yellow go here.

Vernal Equinox

Today is finally the first day of spring. I think this year spring may become my new favorite season. We have waited so long for this season to arrive. We have observed white, dirty, icy, and lingering snow. We have watched icicles grow longer, broader, and eventually slip off the gutters. Now I can see the sandy shoreline of the lake below our house.

Now the boxwood are actually looking greener.

The pond would not hold up the dogs now. There is evidence of water on the sides.

Now I have spotted tulips emerging from the ground.

The snow in summer is showing new growth on the rock wall by the pond.

Happy First Day of Spring...
it can only improve from here!

Jitters, Josh, and Jubilation

As the Gonzaga Bulldogs were finished up the first half tonight in their NCAA tournament game against Akron I had the jitters. The game was close. Things were not running quite as smoothly as this Zags fan had wished for. Beads of sweat popped out of the forehead, deep breathing was taking over, and exhaustion was setting in. That was just what was happening to me watching the game! I had to regroup over half time so I could survive watching the second half. Suddenly everything began to fall together.

Josh Heytvelt scored 22 points, seven of those in a late run in the second half. Josh and the rest of the Bulldogs helped my blood pressure immensely by rallying to beat Akron 77-64 . Heytvelt also had eight rebounds. He stood out in my mind tonight as a player with a mission, but he was surrounded by a whole team that had a mission. They wanted to play another game is this tournament.

As the last second ticked away I was filled with jubilation. The Zags were victorious plus I got to recuperate from an intense couple of hours. I even pounded my chest like Micah Downs when he made a big shot in the second half. No wonder I was having trouble breathing when the final buzzer went off.

It's March Madness and the Zags Are Dancing!

When your favorite Inland Empire team is playing its opening game in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament tomorrow, it creates some big time March Madness where I live. I knew the Gonzaga Bulldogs had a place in the brackets. Fans just had to wait it out to see who, when, and where they would play. The team only had to travel to Portland for the first game. Relief. The game is after school tomorrow. Double relief.

Since Selection Sunday break time at school has been spent studying bracketology with my students. Heated debates have been held about the #1 seeds. It is tough on loyal middle school Zags fans when they have to pit local favorites with players they love to watch from other teams all over the country and predict winners. Last year they even studied the stats of teams in math class down the hall to help them determine the final winners.

Schedules around our parts had to adjusted so Bulldog fans could find themselves in front of the television set tomorrow at 4:30 when the Zags take on the Zips. I will be clapping for Micah, Matt, Austin, Jeremy and Josh. I will be waiting for Demetri, Ira, Steven, Will, and Andrew to enter the game. My loud cheering will send my dog Annie to her carrier and I will catch my breath during commercials. It is all part of March Madness in the Inland Empire. I just hope the Zags keep dancing.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

When I remember St. Patrick's Day I think of

corned beef and cabbage for dinner,

the wearing of the green,

Ireland and "Danny Boy". Enjoy!

Happy Fiftieth Birthday Barbara Millicent Roberts: You Are Now a Member of AARP!

On March 9th Barbie turned fifty years old. A Brazilian artist did a rendition of what Barbie would look like today if she had aged normally. As many of you know, Barbie has been frozen in time since 1959. She has taken on many careers, new looks, makeovers, and changed friends, but the doll has always remained young and oh so fit.
My first Barbie doll was bought at Oud's Drugstore in Orofino, Idaho one summer in the early sixties. Mine came in the signature box and she was a blonde like me. I remember thinking she looked like she was in her thirties even back then. That makeup was pretty exotic. I remember the glamourous black nightclub dress ensemble I had. My Grandma West also made quite a collection of clothes for my Barbie. I got a carrying case to hold my growing collection of Barbie stuff.
Ken Carson came on the scene in our house a few years later. I had the original Ken that had hair that tended to rub off so he looked bald in the wrong places early on. The original Ken wasn't buffed up... just a perfect guy in swim trunks. I don't think Ken liked it when some girls grabbed their brothers' GI Joes to hang out with Barbie. That was just a bit too much for Ken. I learned last week that Barbie and Ken broke up in 2004 after 43 years together, but reunited in 2006.

Now when Midge Hadley joined the crew in 1963 she was the epitome of cool. Her hair flipped,she wore a two piece bathing suit and she looked like a natural California girl with freckles and a tan. I had the plain Midge, not the one that came out later with movable legs. Just look at her above on the box. She looks so sporty compared to her fashion designer friend. I always liked Midge just a bit better. I wanted my name to be Midge and I wanted my hair to flip. I wonder what Barbie and Midge had in common?

Another Barbie called Bubble Cut Barbie joined the party a bit later. Mine had beautiful auburn hair. I can't imagine why I would have been interested in a doll that was a fashion designer at such an early age, but I loved my Barbie group of friends. I never even saw women wear some of the clothes I wanted for my Barbie. What was the attraction?

I never had Skipper or Midge's boyfriend Allan. In 1968 I didn't get her African American friend Christie or Skipper's friend Scooter. My Barbie didn't have a dream house or drive a sports car. She got along fine with her handmade clothes, and the many adventures she had in the upstairs landing at my house. Ken survived being partly bald.

I also spent hours playing the "Barbie- Queen of the Prom Game". Would she become class president? Would she go steady? Would Ken always be her date to the prom or would it be redheaded Poindexter, athletic Bob, or intellectual Tom? Personally Ken was always a bit "too perfect" for me. I was a Tom girl! He probably enjoyed poetry also. Would she earn enough money to buy the perfect dress? My goodness, it was a lot to be concerned about around the kitchen table on a summer afternoon in the mid-sixties.

Barbie took on so many careers it was hard to keep up. I don't think my Barbies moved on to being astronauts, gold medal winners, or members of the army. In 1992 Barbie ran for president, then discovered Share-a-Smile Becky's hot pink wheelchair in 1997. Also, in 1997 the most popular doll that year was Harley-Davidson Barbie! She became Native American, wore cowboy chic, and also began to talk.

It was hard enough for me to keep up with the small group of friends my Barbies had. I liked the simpler times when Barbie was only a fashion designer and didn't have to decide whether to be a Malibu Barbie or Hispanic. Looking at the natural Barbie above I think she looks great at fifty. I like the natural gray hair and I think she looks like an old soul. How could she not be wiser? She has done almost everything on the planet and been everyone to everybody for fifty years. Come to think of it... she looks great! Maybe now Barbie can be a writer, a grandmother, a blogger, or a Red Hat Lady. Maybe she can be reunited with Tom on Facebook.
My Barbies were passed down to my sister and then passed down to her daughters and I believe they are resting in the basement of Mom's house in their carrying case. I may have to go get reacquainted the next time I go home. Happy Birthday Barbara Millicent Roberts and thanks for the memories.
click to make larger to check out the many faces of Barbie