Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seeing Past the Holiday

Can you tell I've got Aruba on my mind? I asked Russ for our itinerary so I can work out some pesky little details, like childcare for the poor waif we're leaving behind. Here's the response I got:

Fly down Wednesday morning, January 20, out of Ronnie Reagan, first class, non-stop, United Airbus A320 - get tan, stay drunk except for snorkling, operating a motor vehicle, and reading.

Fly back Saturday, January 30, into Ronnie Reagan, first class, non-stop, United Airbus A320 - get pasty, return to sobriety, go back to work, convince Troy that his parents are indeed Caucasian.

What more do you need?

Can you tell he's feeling frisky? I can't wait. . .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's All Good

I had a long day yesterday, worrying about the mammogram follow up, but it's all good. Further testing cleared up the question, so no worries. Thanks for the good thoughts!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Own Pink Celebration

I missed the pink bandwagon. It's not breast cancer awareness month any more, all the walks are walked and the runs run. But it was time for my annual mammogram, and in honor of still being so-far-so-good, thank God, click HERE for a little celebration. Thanks to all the people who take of all the rest of us with such good humor and grace.

UPDATE: I just got called back for another set of images. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Rite of Passage

Cotillion is something of a rite of passage, no? My experience as a 14- or 15-year old attending cotillion was something. . . As I recall it was a one-shot deal. We got to dress up, put our hair up, wear lipstick, and were delivered to a nearby officer's club as arm candy for some very handsome and horny cadets. We had dance cards, and the boys wore white gloves but we girls did not. My best recollection of the evening is that I caught the eye of one particular cadet who managed to sneak us into an empty and dark adjacent room. He was so gallant-- he stood in front of me so I could put my dress back together when the lights snapped on and we were discovered by an anxious chaperone.

Cotillion these days is for a younger crowd. My 12-year old says he hates it, but I think he's having a good time. Lots of his buddies are suffering through it together. I saw a Facebook exchange the other day that I thought was very funny.

T-man: I hate cotillion

friend 1: Me too!

friend 2: What does it taste like?

Anyway, I managed to get a couple of shots of my little man getting dressed for last month's event. He hasn't mastered the correct knot for his tie yet. Part of the problem is that he's left-handed and dad is not. But hey-- if we can teach him to tie his shoes, we can teach him a proper Windsor knot, hopefully before he's asphyxiated.

All joking aside, the right hand/left hand issue will always be a challenge.

But the end result is good, I think.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have a love/hate relationship with catalogs. My mailslot at home is choked at this time of year. I keep a recycling bag right near the door and that's where most of them end up before they even see the top of the dining room table (where the rest of the mail languishes). A few catch my eye and imagination. These images are courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art Catalog.

Cleverly designed, these miniature vellum lampshades instantly transform any wine glass into a small lamp-just add a tealight or votive candle. Each tube comes with three unique shades, but that means I'd have to buy at least three to get a set. I know I don't have to be so match-matchy, but still. . . fairly affordable at $15. Then I start thinking, I could make these! but with my luck, I'd make more of a fire hazard than anything else. Still. . .

I like this wallet, but at $198 I wouldn't need it because I wouldn't have any money left to store.
The pig is just too cute, but at $90, it's also too expensive just for being cute.

Now this I could afford, and might even have ordered by the time you read this. Acrylic fibers hand-blended, needle-punched together, and saturated with latex. As the catalog says, it would be ideal as a doormat. Antimicrobial and antistatic. Machine washable. Shoes not included. I'm thinking of it for my kitchen.
Can I put this corkscrew on my stocking wishlist? I promise to share whatever I open with it. . .

I really like the MoMA holiday cards, but they are certainly no bargain. Most are more than $20 for 8 cards.

My favorite item in the catalog was this Bauhaus lamp. Each lamp is numbered and certified with the Bauhaus logo. It should be, for $925. It's $295 just to replace the globe.

Let's see what catalogs show up in today's mail. . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Thoughts

I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. Very sweet, clearly written by somebody who loves dogs, or at least one in particular. I don't give Molly nearly that much credit, but then again, she doesn't watch as much tv as Enzo did.

Speaking of books about dogs, have you had a chance to start Edgar Sawtelle? I know it's a huge undertaking. I'm interested in your thoughts.

Next on my list? I have a stack to get to. Stacks of books, stacks of magazines, and oh yes, it's catalog season. I chuck a lot of them, but I admit to a fascination with some of the more exotic ones. I'll post some of my favorites soon. You can tell the season of my life by my latest bedside reading: Menopause and Natural Hormones and The Sexy Years by Susan Somers. Shut up. I'm no Earth Mother type-- there's got to be a better way. Better living through chemistry. I'm on the bandwagon for bio-identical hormones. Roscoe and I have our big anniversary trip to Aruba coming up and I'd like to be able to enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sharing the Road

Yikes-- I nearly hit a bicyclist this morning. I pulled through the mail drop lane at the Geo. Mason Dr. post office. I had to wait to exit for a kid walking a dog to cross the exit lane and looked carefully to my left for traffic coming over the hill from Lee Hwy. You know people fly over that hill. There was a car just pulled into the on-street parking lane. The rider must have been just behind that car when I looked, because I sure didn't see him. I was going so slowly he had plenty of time to slow himself down (he must have been going fast). He rang his bell at me and followed me as I turned right on to whatever street that is that takes you up to Harrison. I realized as I stopped at the sign at Harrison that he was turning around to get back onto George Mason so he must have been trying to follow me, I guess to yell at me. I really did not see him, though I did look and saw the other parking car and no other cars approaching as I turned. Holy cow! I'm sure I scared him, but he sure scared me too!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Soccer Madness

It's quiet this morning, thank goodness. I'm sore-- soccer practice (for the 10 to 12-year olds) was at 5 to accomodate the new earlier darkness, but 5 is too early for one of the two coaches, and the other coach has issues yesterday. The Mrs. Coaches had agreed to take the practice on, but they were clearly short-handed. I'm standing there in my three-inch wedges, clucking, "Gee, too bad I didn't bring my sneakers. . .," when one Mrs. Coach pipes up, "OH! I have an extra pair in the car-- what size are you?" I was reluctant, (couldn't anybody else hear my internal scream: NOOOOOOO! You can't make me!!!!!!) but it was fun. It's been so long-- running with abandon, kicking a ball. . . Troy was lamenting my lame defensive skills, but I'm still savoring hearing one boy yelling to another, "What are you doing?? Get the ball!" and the other boy yelling back, "I can't! Mrs. Allison is too good!" I'm glad the light was almost gone. Made pretending I looked good out there a little easier. My knees and hips are feeling the exercise for sure, but why would my left elbow be sore? I was definitely creaking when I got out of bed this morning.

I have some great photos, but blogspot isn't letting me insert photos this morning for some reason.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Costumes and Politics

I don't get some people. My 12-year old is, in his own words, a history geek. His latest reading, starting as homework but he's branching out on his own, has been about the Civil War. His favorite movie right now is Glory, but living south of the Mason Dixon line as we do, most of the battlefields are known as Confederate, and we've heard people still refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression. I digress. On one of our battleground forays or another, Troy picked up the gray slouch hat, and seeing it surface in his room, he decided to round out the uniform for Halloween. Gray jeans, navy jacket (the gold buttons were key), silk sash, leather belt across his chest, white gloves. . . I thought he looked great.

When I asked him if all the kids were going to be dressing up for a school party Friday evening, he expressed some concern that some people would think badly of him dressed as a Confederate soldier. I scoffed. "Would people think badly of you if you dressed as the Frankenstein monster? Or think you were a better person if you dressed as Superman?" As far as I know nobody gave him a hard time at the party. I even offered to ghoul it up with a bloodied bandage or something, but he thought that cheapened the costume.

Then last night, long time friends/neighbors asked how he was dressing for the holiday. When I told her, she says, "Really? That's. . . ummm. . . interesting. . .Confederate? Kinda scary. . ."


My first response was, "Well, we are in the south!" I think that was the wrong thing to say.

Molly wanted to go along for the trick or treating, but Troy said no to the dogs of war. Troy's buddies agreed to pose with him. The friend on the left scared the bejeesus out of the toddlers when he helped answer the door. One literally ran screaming to mommy. He felt really bad! The friend in the middle wasn't nearly so creative, but they all made a good haul.

So what do you think? I thought the neighbor was making a political big deal out of it. I can't believe she was offended!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Math

I'm sorry. These have probably been around the world several times via the internet, but I still find them funny. I think kids should get some sort of credit for at least trying to be a smart ass. Sure beats a blank page and the sound of crickets.

And my personal favorite:

Which one's yours?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Call for Frost

I heard the first frost warning for NoVa on the radio this morning. Time to bring in the plants from the patio. They really don't do well inside my house. I get so little light and it's so dry. They do o.k. to begin with, but by the spring they are barely clinging to life. I get them back outside as fast as I can. I can bring the prayer plant to my office, and maybe the Swedish(?) ivy, but my office is in the interior of my building and I get no natural light. This reminds me of an old friend of mine. She was an attorney, back when she was working full-time, and every day she would come home at the end of the work day with a red nose. Kind of like mine gets after a glass of wine. We would tease her about her apparently liquid lunches, but the reality was, she was allergic to the flourescent lights. Who knew? Anyway, I once had an enormous Christmas cactus that died after a school year here in my office. Made me very sad. I thought the flourescent lights would have been enough, but it wasn't. I miss having living green things in my work space, other than the germs that come from all these kids, that is. Maybe I'll get a grow-light and set up a little indoor garden area.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Golden Globes of Goodness

Kathleen- thanks again for the seedling. What took so long to really settle in is an enormous plant now, with thousands of what I've dubbed Golden Globes of Goodness. It's about done for the season now, but I hesitate to uproot it. There are still some flowers, can you believe it?

There are other gardening successes this year, though much more ornamental. This is a giant terra cotta pot on the front patio. The impatiens were beautiful this year.

I love the pink and green sweet potato vine. It made itself at home, climbing in and through the English holly that borders two sides of the patio. The hens and chicks wintered in this strawberry pot. I wonder if they'll make it again this year?

Here's Miss Molly who couldn't resist the sunshine. That's the English holly behind her, though I don't think you can see the sweet potato vine here.

The succulent pot did quite well too. I'm told the agave will not winter, but since I have no place to put it under cover, it will be on its own. Maybe I can muster enough resources to cover it in burlap. Would that help? The little feather number at the bottom of the pot is very prolific.

Here's the whole front tableau-- walking stick tree, succulent pot, herbs on the left behind the rain gauge.

The window boxes are still full and beautiful. I kinda had in mind to get more creative with these this year, but again, the impatiens really filled out nicely. There's not a lot of sun.

The roses did quite well this year too. This is one of my Mr. Lincoln bushes. I got several spindly little specimens from a neighbor. I didn't think they'd make it-- they'd been languishing in the shade of a garage for years. They really took off, producing lots of sweetheart pink flowers, but I've found that they're a climbing variety. I need to rig some sort of trellis and/or move them.

That's all for today's gardening report. Soon enough it will be leaf raking time!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I intended to post about my love of a good pedicure a long time ago, but then I couldn't find this photo anywhere! Finally came across it again, and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to the end of sandal weather. I can't think of a nicer way to spend an hour, at least among relative strangers, than getting a pedicure. A really good pedicurist will focus more on the whole foot than just the nail-- a strong massage is key. I also like the slight thrill I get when the razor doo-dad is loaded with a fresh blade to smooth my heels. I swear, if I haven't been regular about getting it done I can go down a shoe size. As my friend ADG would say, shut up.

I don't particularly care for the yellow polish my compatriot selected for this particular session, but it was quirky, like my friend. I also really like my toe ring. I got my first one in Cape May, New Jersey, in 1975 or so. Don't remember what made me decide I just had to put a ring on my toe, but I didn't know anybody else at the time who had one. I also don't remember what made me decide to take it off at some point. I've had this one on for about 10 years. Not that I'm a toe snob, I have to make the point that it's a real ring, not the adjustable fake kind. Generally if you get a ring that fits your pinky it'll fit your index toe. Just in case you were interested in getting one of your own.

I generally go for a deep red. No cute, pink froo-froo for me. But, now that sandal season is over and I go for the closed-toe shoes, I'll go au naturel. Doesn't mean I won't still go for the pedicure though.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cinderella Summer is Over

I've turned back into a pumpkin, or more like one of Cinderella's mice friends. I'm back to school, two weeks ahead of classes and one week ahead of the teachers. With any luck the teachers will stay out of my hair until next week. Busy, busy. . . I really do need this time to get sorted out. The office is topsy turvy, with boxes on top of boxes on top of furniture that is all out of place. I think I'm going to have to shorten my list of regular haunts in blogland. There's nothing I like better than spending the morning browsing all the better blogs, but really, I'm so behind on updating my own! And there is the job, too. I guess it's a good thing the school blocks Facebook access or I'd never get anything done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


A friend of mine and I were lamenting the cobwebs hanging about our homes like so much spanish moss. She found some useful tips online, including recommendations for various chemicals. She also found this tip:

I'd like to add another suggestion. Increase your homeonowners insurance to the maximum policy. Also, stop watering several of the shrubs around your house so that they die. Then, late on a night of your choosing, call the police and tell them that you think there is an undientified arson outside your house. Then, while the police are en route go outside and light the shrubs on fire so that your house burns down. After the police arrive tell them that you saw a person running off down the street with a torch in their hand. The police will investigate but come up empty (because you made it up) but you now have an alibi so you can claim full damages to your insurance company. Then have a brand new house built that looks excatly like the old one, but without spider webs. Problem solved.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bright Future

We are so proud of Troy. These photos are from his 5th grade graduation. Here's the proud papa:

And the proud boy as he walks down the aisle to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance. Yes, it may be a bigger deal a few years down the road, but hey, baby steps!

Best buds, graduating together. They could be the new United Nations, or the new United Colors of Bennetton. Aren't they beautiful?

Good times. . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cute House

I thought this was the cutest house! It's in Smithfield, Virginia, generally known more for its pork products than gingerbread architecture. Do you think that turret was added after the house was built? Bold choice on the paint, too, but it works. It would feel right at home in Victorian Cape May, New Jersey, too.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Finally Back

To those few loyal followers waiting patiently for me to make an appearance in blogland, thanks for checking in again. I've had computer issues, on top of a looooong chore list. Got the new computer, but it wasn't what I wanted. The old one is sooooo slow it's difficult to work with pictures, so I'm back yet photo-less for the moment.

Have a great day for the 4th! It is just beautiful here this morning. Should stay nice all day. I worked (and worked and worked) at pulling up the variegated vinca vine that has proliferated under my big maple next to the screened porch. I'm sure that it is part of the problem with that tree. The trunk has been so shaded that I think it has begun to rot. Removing the vines (I hope) will help it get more air and water. Putting the fern garden under the smaller maple at the driveway causes me to have to water there regularly, which I think has helped that tree make a big turnaround. It was looking kind of peaked a few years ago.

I also weeded around the pagoda. A story unfolded in my head as I pulled bag after bag of weeds. . . For generations the legends told of the haunted pagoda. The jungle was so thick no one had seen it for years. Until, that is, archeologist and bon vivant Virginia Smith hacked her way through the trackless tangle. . . you get the idea. Anyway, now you can see the lovely calla lilies blooming, pink and bright yellow. The rabbits aren't happy though. I've reduced their habitat significantly. I thought my chard was contribution enough. I think there are two plants left out of six with any leaves on them.

John K. is meandering the neighborhood in his bathrobe, surveying the scene for the upcoming festivities. Troy gets home noonish and I can't wait to hear his stories about camp. We got updates daily, though nothing specific to Troy. Swimming, races, canoeing, ghost stories around a camp fire. . . sounds idyllic, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beauty Out of Dirt

I posted the other day with some pictures of various murals that appear around the high school where I work (here), and I mentioned posting some pictures of the ceramics display. Ceramics 1 & 2 classes are comprised of mostly underclassmen. The sign in the display case says it all: CERAMICS 1 & 2 done by Mr. P's Vicious Students. Savage Work Ethic Can Create Beauty Out of Dirt." You be the judge. . .

This flower is about a foot wide and it is just beautiful. How do they do that? So delicate. . .

These gourd-like creations are fantastic. Some of them look like the lids actually come off, but I think most of that is faux. I love the speckles.

The blue bowl would be a beautiful vase.

Love the giraffe. I understand that it's very difficult to keep the neck so vertical. It's not on display right now, but there was a peacock about this same size with real peacock feathers for its tail.

Love the stem on this one, and the colors.

Ditto here.

These look more functional than the gourds, but no less beautiful. I can see the green platter as a cheese plate, and a couple of perfect roses in one side of the red vase, and oak leaf hydrangea in the other side.

And just because I love it so much, here's that red rose again. The teapot on the other side of it is awesome, too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

High School Art

Through a confluence of events a few years ago, I decided to pursue a job working for the local public school system. I've been many things professionally over the years, at many different rungs of the ladder, so taking a secretarial position initially seemed, well, a step down. But the schedule worked for me with kids still at home, and it let me cover the family's health insurance freeing R up to pursue other professional interests. I tried not to complain too much about the reduced intellectual stimulation, and R, trying to be supportive, would say that he wished HE could get so much time off in the summer. I remember replying that he too could work for one-tenth of what he thought he was worth and get the summers off.

Anyway, after a couple of years, I landed in one of the high schools. Still not the most challenging job I've ever had, but I really am enjoying the high school energy. One of my sons went to a rival high school so I tend to be biased in support of them, but the school where I work has some really talented kids. The 4th year art students get to paint murals, either on canvas to be mounted, or even painted directly on the walls. These are some of my favorites. I wish I knew how to credit them appropriately. The murals are done by AP Art students, all seniors.

I knew the girls in the first mural, and I have to say, the likenesses are fantastic. Not over romanticized; simple, accurate. It is painted on canvas, roughly 6' by 4', almost life-sized.

This next one is a work in progress, being painting directly on a stairway wall. The "save" is to indicate to the custodians that this isn't graffiti to be cleaned overnight. The creature is about 7' tall.

The brooding cat is one of my favorites. It is painted on canvas, also roughly 6' by 4', and looks as if it might leap right through the wall.

This is another of about the 6' by 4' size, and it makes me smile every time I see it. Simple, almost iconic. Very good detail.

Ceramics 1 & 2 classes are comprised of mostly underclassmen. I'll post some photos of their ceramics display another time, but I thought their display case sign was cute. In case you can't read it, it says "CERAMICS 1 & 2 done by Mr. P's Vicious Students. Savage Work Ethic Can Create Beauty Out of Dirt." And they did some fantastic renderings of strange but beautiful vegetables and fruits.

I hope the other high schools have as good a department as this one. Don't mean to sound maudlin, but seeing this kind of beauty here gives me some hope for the future. They are amazing! I applaud the teachers who foster this creativity.