Monthly Archives: October 2009

An Autumn Walk

I long for the time when I can finally return to living in the country. I daydream about a big backyard that naturally blends into the surrounding forest.  I think about apples trees and a pumpkin patch of my own.  I wish for bird feeders and maybe a trout stream.  But this week, my boys and I discovered some urban beauty.  We enjoyed a sunny autumn walk in the city.  I have to admit that it was gorgeous.

AutumnWalk1

We walk these streets several times each week, but this time we explored with an eye toward discovering Autumn’s blessings.

AutumnWalk6

There was much to find.  The sky couldn’t have been any bluer, the leaves any brighter.

AutumnWalk2

AutumnWalk3

AutumnWalk4

  AutumnWalk5

A wool cap update…and more pumpkins

(The following post was supposed to be up Wednesday evening.  Oops!)

I set a goal…orange hat completed in time for the pumpkin patch field trip.  Well, I didn’t quite get there.  Unfortunately, I’m grading a mountain of 4 to 6 page essays this week so knitting time as been scarce.  Fortunately, a turn in the weather produced a 65 degree morning with an ultimate high over 70.  No wool cap needed.

The field trip was a rousing success.  The army of four year olds and many of their parents approached the farm with enthusiasm for the great hunt and a spark of that unmistakeable charm that occurs when you bring together pumpkins, crisp air, and fresh apple cider.  The day was beautiful–especially appreciated after the uncomfortable douse of wet weather last week. 

 pumpkin collection

Sad confession:  I only know of the beauty and the charm because Daddy took the camera along.  I, on the other hand, continued to comment upon the aforementioned college essays in our attic/office.  Yes, I had to forgo the smells of cinnamon and earth and all the autumn splendor of the day.  But don’t feel too sorry for me.  I take great joy in knowing that my little son could share the fun with his Dad.  Not many kids can have their fathers along for a weekday adventure.  We are so blessed to live the life we lead.

 So I leave you with this photograph to summarize the day.  My hubby got to put aside Melville for an afternoon among the pumpkins (the gourds and the ever-so-sweet preschool kind), and the cap has seen significant progress but no outdoor time as of yet.

 hat still life

(Note: this pumpkin, though small, was chosen to come live with us because it had a “crook.”  Good choice.)

Something that might surprise you…

Stereotypes are funny.  Everyone seems to know people who confirm stereotypes, and we can always think of exceptions.  Well, this weekend I spent time being an exception (and I think there are lots!).  I was my “sorority girl” self on Saturday.  I don’t know if anyone is reading this who doesn’t know me personally, but if that’s you, I am nothing like the sorority stereotype.  I’m not Elle Woods.  I never get manicures.  I don’t drink alcohol.  Never have.  I have only a few pink garments.  I’ve always been serious about academics, and I’ve never been to a fraternity party.  Let me explain…

In 2006, I was approached by a friend to become an alumna initiate of Alpha Sigma Alpha, a National Panhellenic Conference organization.  I saw it as an exciting opportunity to make some new friends and more importantly, to volunteer my time to help young women reach their goals and make the most of their college years.  I’m now a national volunteer as a member of my district’s Education Coaching Team.  On Saturday I traveled with a fellow ASA alumna about two hours to meet with the members of an ASA colony and offer my support as they work toward becoming a full-fledged chapter.  The group was a local sorority that is now “going national.”  So my companion and I also spoke with the alumnae of the local sorority about becoming alumnae initiates of Alpha Sigma Alpha.  Although tentative at first, these women warmed up to us pretty quickly, and they seemed truly appreciative of the information that we provided.  I admired their dedication to the organization that they worked hard to establish, and they obviously cared a lot about the college women who are making the transition from the local to the new ASA chapter.  And guess what…they brought cookies!  Yummy, homemade, perfectly iced cookies.

AlphaGammaCookie

So as I traveled home, loving the gorgeous fall foliage between the ceaseless raindrops, I thought about the contradictions that make life complex and interesting.  What do we assume about people based upon their associations, their interests, their friends?  How often might we dismiss a potential friendship or opportunity because it’s not a good fit or it doesn’t fit our image of ourselves?  I thought about the local Alpha Gamma members.  They dreamed up an organization with beautiful traditions and methods that are meaningful to them, and they are now watching those details change, evolve.  If we embrace the evolution around us–whether changes in ideas, people, practices, or even ourselves–we might be open to some pleasant surprises.

And it never hurts to have a good cookie on hand.

A Wool Cap

Fall has taken a surprisingly cool turn.  Snow has appeared in the forecast and on morning door steps.  The proverbial frost on the pumpkin is quite real.  Makes me want to sit down with a cup of Earl Grey and You’ve Got Mail.  Unfortunately, instead of delving into the yummy, cozy rituals of a cold (and rainy) autumn, I’ve been doing a lot of nose wiping and other related activities.  Hmm…now that I think about it, these are the rituals of autumn and the months ahead.  At least for a mommy. 

But despite the tiredness that comes with broken sleep for several nights coupled with the worrying that inevitably comes at the time of a little one’s illness, I’ve been quite productive in my knitting.   Two weeks ago, I completed a small blanket for my new godson.  That project took five months!  While I loved the yarn (good quality washable wool in Caribbean Blue and white) and was fond of the pattern, I confess that the slow progress made me lose my zeal for the project part way through.  In the weeks before the baptism, however, I found myself falling in love with that dear blanket again.   I loved how it felt between my fingers, and I loved imagining the baby wrapped in it or resting on it while his mama tickled his toes or read him a story.  Many prayers and warm thoughts went into that blanket.

As I finished the blanket, my four-year-old asked if he could have a hat.  He had never asked me to knit him something before, and while I often look at wonderful patterns for fun little boy garments, all my knitting seems to be gifts for others.  Neither of my boys has any finished items made by me.  (Although they are fortunate to have a number of beautiful pieces knit and crocheted by people whom we love and who love us.)  So the baby blanket was delivered to its wee owner on a Saturday; on Monday I made a trip to my favorite local yarn shop.  I stole thirty minutes of bliss—stroking skeins, browsing hat patterns, comparing needles.  I confess that the shopping and the planning are as exciting (if not more) as the actual knitting and completing of a project. 

orange cap

To match his new fall jacket, I chose a muted orange wool and an accent color called “Ash.”  And now I’m knitting, knitting, knitting.  I’m snatching every little moment that I can.  I want this wool cap to be upon my little guy’s head when he goes to the farm on Wednesday for his class field trip (assuming his health improves).  And while I would never wish a cold on any child, a stuffy, feverish little boy needs an early bedtime, and therefore, mama gets to knit!

Sick Days

I have a sick little boy.  Poor guy.  It started with a bit of a stuffy nose, a little touch of a headache, but now we’ve got a full blown…um…cold?  Not sure how it’s going to play out.  We’re watching him closely and keeping the grape Tylenol nearby.  I’m not big on medicines at all, but the difference between a little man with a fever and a little man on the purple stuff is remarkable. 

So tomorrow is going to be a cozy, stay-at-home day.  We’ve got the Lite Brite, and I’m ready for a Candyland marathon.  Of course, the little brother prefers to cut teeth on the game pieces.  I guess he can’t resist Grandma Nut and the gang.

candyland

What do you do on a sick day?  Better yet, what did you do when you were a kid?

Domesticity

I had a weekend of domesticity. I cleaned closets. I mopped the porch, and thirty minutes later I had to scrub it on my hands and knees (Don’t ask…it had something to do with a disintegrating mop). I washed a mountain of tiny socks. I folded a mountain of tiny socks, and I am now left with eleven mismatched oddballs. These are the less charming aspects of the weekend.

 As promised, I made a pot of soup and baked a batch of bread. The soup was Grandma Sunny’s recipe for broccoli cheese soup. Hello Autumn! I told my hubby that this is my perfect comfort food. The soup was creamy, hearty, and cheesy. One question though…why did my pasta soak up almost every bit of the broth? It was like having a bowl of broccoli cheese noodles. Now, I’m not complaining. Trust me; that was one yummy bowl of noodles, but I would like to have some actual soup in my soup next time.

Broccoli Soup

While my boys were out and about on Saturday, I baked some whole wheat bread. I first made this particular recipe from the Joy of Cooking when I was living in my college apartment. My husband—boyfriend at the time—came over very early one morning to bake bread together. Our parents (both sets) came to our college that evening for dinner, and we wanted to show off some homemade wares. We borrowed two beautiful pottery crocks from our professor (who lived across the street). We’ve made this bread dozens of time since then, and I still often think of that first attempt at homemade bread.

Fresh Bread

We made a few minor changes around the house, primarily in our elder son’s room. We added some new shelving to his closet and packed up clothes that will be Little Brother’s hand-me-downs. I also placed a small nightstand next to his bed, and I moved a little lamp from my room to the new nightstand. At bedtime, instead of the glare of the overhead light, we shared a story in the warm glow of the small lamp. What a difference!

We were busy every minute this weekend. We worked hard. My back hurts, and I’m tired. But somehow these three days that we spent working in our home felt restful.