Wednesday, November 9, 2011


My bff Wendy was in town for a visit this past weekend. The Bright-Eyed Boy (aka Texting Teen) wasn't able to see his Miss Wendy for himself, but sent this picture message.

He threatened to unfriend me if I posted that one to Facebook, so I insisted he let me get another one. Several attempts later (as he dodged the camera), I got this one. He doesn't follow this blog, so I think I'm safe. For now.

He's so much bigger than me now! I still sometimes can't help but think of him like this . . .

Ah well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Texting with a Teen

This is an actual recent text exchange between the 14-year old Bright Eyed Boy and me as I'm cruising the aisles at the local grocery store.

Me: I'm at the grocery store. What kind of cereal do you want?

Bright Eyed Boy: Frosted flakes

Me: Not! Kix?

BEB: Hell no. Frosted Mini Wheats

Me: Watch your mouth or you'll get Fiber One

BEB: Heck no. Frosted Mini Wheats


BEB: What's wrong with Frosted Mini Wheats?


BEB: It's the healthiest frosted anything!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sugar Fail

Bee partner Jan often laments that she does not cook. As in, "Sorry Bob, I guess it's cereal for dinner again tonight!" But as it turns out, she's the queen of cooking sugar for the bees.

The last time I cooked for the girls, I dissolved 10lb of sugar in 8 cups of water. This turned out to be about half of what we needed, so off to Costco I go, where the smallest quantity of sugar they carry is 25lb. Perfect! We wanted to increase the ratio of sugar too, so 25lb into two quarts of water would be good. Five more cups of sugar to the same ratio of water sounded just right.

The whole bag fit into one of my crab pots. Talk about a lazy man's load! Number one, I should have put the water in first, and B.) I should have divided the lot, or used a bigger pot.

But I was correct that adding the water would reduce the volume in the pot, so I thought I was so smart. It was very difficult to stir, though, and that was my undoing. Too much heat before I could get the water soaked in produced. . .

. . . caramel. (I know, it just looks like a slice of over-cooked bacon.) I dredged up this bit after spending 20 minutes trying to get the spoon to the bottom of the pan. Ugh.

The worst of it is, I can't use it at all now. Who knew that burned sugar is poisonous to bees? I scraped out as much of the caramel as I could. It's not really burned, but kind of a pretty brown toffee. I haven't tried more heat yet, but I'll have to if I want to dissolve the rest of the sugar. But do I want to? What to do with about four gallons of caramel sugar water? Epicurious, here I come. . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

THIS is for ME!

I promised my blogger pal Pam J. some Homegrown Honey-- Dinwiddie Reserve-- and when she got it  she was most appreciative. SO appreciative, she, in turn, sent me a gift.

I LOVE getting packages in the mail! And this one was very special. She might have appreciated my honey harvesting efforts, but she actually made something with her own hands that I could never replicate. And I've tried, trust me. I loved her note card too. In it she says she hopes somebody in my household can use this beautiful scarf once the weather turns more fall-like.

Well, trust me Pam, THIS one's for ME! It's just the right length, just the right heft, just the right color. (The model doesn't do it justice.)

I even liked the recipe on the back of the card.

Pam, you are so welcome, and thank YOU!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Civil War Re-enactment

Bright-eyed boy Troy was invited to participate in the Battle of 1st Manassas at Bull Run re-enactment July 23 and 24. Serious business! Troy and his buddy Bill were privates in Stribling's Battery. You can't tell from the photos that it's about 325 degrees. Their uniforms are cotton and wool, and are very authentic down to the hobnail boots.

Troy and Bill took turns as buglers and water-haulers. This is Troy as bugler.

Bill and his dad Ed (below) are regulars at this sort of thing. Ed even changes out his glasses for a style that is more period correct.

I like this last shot. Kind of shows how it probably was back in the day; hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. I can't imagine sending my 14-year old off to war though. It would break any mother's heart that their sons would want to, and so many did.

The boys had a great time, though, and came home sweaty, dirty, and hungry. But they came home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Local Devastation Pictures Coming In

Thanks to all of you for your kind words of support, as we look to recover from the devastation of today's quake!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dispatch from Hilton Head

Here's a picture of Molly that's a little less somber. I'll have some pics of the fambly and Hilton Head soon. The beach is really beautiful, very different from Cape May or Rehoboth. Broad and smooth. I've seen a snowy egret at the water's edge, and there a lots of pelicans. I miss the dolphins though. I think the water is too warm. It is like bath water, and strangely shallow for a great distance out. The jellyfish lurk too.

The biggest decision of the day for me is what to download to my Kindle next. What are you reading?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The End of an Era

Or more specifically, the end of Dinwiddie Street's Dalmatian Dynasty.

Poor sweet Molly. We rescued her when she was three years old, badly malnourished and mistreated. At her first vet visit after we got her, the doctor noted her class 2 heart murmur, amongst other things, such as the untreated wounds on her back and belly. A year later, the doctor noted that the heart murmur was all but gone-- he said we'd mended her broken heart.

Eleven years later, she'd survived the loss of her happy housemate Mosby, and even thrived a bit as the queen of the household for a while. Lately, though, her health began to deteriorate, and I know she trusted us to do the right thing. Knowing that doesn't make us any less sad for her loss. I was happy to be able to hold her at the end, to be able to tell her that we loved her, that she was a good girl. And she was. She was the best girl, and I'll miss her.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In this context, the bad and the ugly are one and the same. I'm having a real challenge with my tomatoes this year. They're growing great, producing large well formed fruit, but they are being nibbled at. I'm sure it's birds nipping away, so I covered both plants with anti-bird netting. What you see here is AFTER I installed the netting. grrrr.

Now THIS is what I'm talking about. Finally got one before anybody (or anything) else touched it. Let's break out the mozzarella, basil, and good balsamic vinegar and have lunch.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sweet Rewards

or, The Great Honey Harvest of 2011.

There's a good reason to do this job when it's warm outside-- the honey flows easier-- but it was HOT, especially in full regalia. That's me holding the frame, and Jan wielding the blower. We took the top off the hive, replaced it with a board that had fabric on one side on which we sprayed a little liquid that the bees hate the smell of so they get away from it. We thought it smelled pretty bad too. After a few minutes, the bees have moved mostly out of the super box we're going to be working with. The super is the box with the eight frames you see at my feet. I'm holding one of the frames and Jan is using the garden blower to shoo off the few remaining bees.

We loaded the super into a garden cart, covered it, and moved it into John's garage, aka Uncle Wally's Workshop. We set up shop in there because it's marginally air conditioned and well lit. We covered the floor and table with plastic. It's a sticky process, honey extracting. The big can you see is the extractor. It's essentially a giant centrifuge with a spigot at the bottom for the honey to flow into the double sieve and then into a five gallon bucket, also with a spigot.

One at a time we pull the frames out. We inspect them carefully. If the honey cells aren't capped, we can't use it. The bees put honey in each cell and leave them uncapped until it's aged properly, then they cap it with wax until they need it for food later in the season (or until we steal it from them).

We use an electric hot knife to slice the cap off to release the honey. We use a fork to pierce the cells the knife doesn't reach, then we put the frames, three at a time, into the extractor. I didn't get a good shot of that step. Once the three frames are installed, you shut the lid and crank and crank and crank, which spins the frames and causes the honey to come out. Then you flip the frames to get the other side and crank and crank some more. We got so much honey that we had to start filling our jars so we could keep filling the bucket!

We got about 10 gallons! This is the whole harvest before we split it up into our shares.

And then we made a toast to the bees and to each other.

We left the harvested frames, the frames that weren't capped, and the supers out for the bees to clean up. Nice, huh? We steal the honey then leave the mess for them to clean up! We'll put the frames back into the supers and put the supers back on the hives this weekend. They'll want to get busy making more honey (that we won't steal) so they can make it through the winter.

Definitely a once a year endeavor as far as I'm concerned, but so worth it. The honey is really tasty. Kind of a citrusy flavor, which is curious. Who knew that Arlington honey would be fruity?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fish Story

It's a slow day. Some of the goldfish (carp? koi?) in the pond in front of my office building are big enough to feed a family of four. The theme music from Jaws comes to mind. I'm told that herons are often seen hanging around, though I've not seen them. I do see Mr. and Mrs. Mallard stopping by, and the occasional gaggle of geese. And I've seen a really large hawk swooping and diving around.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No More Easter Egg Fail

Hey Nora-- this one's for you! Aren't they beautiful? We can do this!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cotillion Spring Ball

It sure didn't fee like spring, but we had to make it look good. Cotillion is a once a month event that the Bright-eyed boy complains about but I think he secretly has a good time. The spring ball is the most formal event of the cotillion year, and like last year (here) we opted for a tuxedo over buying him a suit that he'll grow out of by next week. I don't know if you can tell by looking at last year's pictures or not, but he's grown more than six inches since then.

Turns out he's a pretty good dancer! I'm the one having to look at our feet.

He's thrilled that I have to look up at him. He's living for the day that he's taller than his brother. Won't be long at this rate.

I'm very proud of him. And I'm liking this dress, too. Who knew it would match the boutonnieres? Perfect.

Last stop? The Lost Dog to get the boy a chocolate malt and mom and dad a much deserved beer. Needless to say, we were the best dressed folks in the place.

Now back to the taxes. Ugh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's All Good

Sadly no photos, but the week is going well. Funny, how I know I get along with anybody and everybody, but "getting to know" people takes some time. You have to finesse these things to a certain extent. Inquire, but not pry. Share, but not intrude. Then, sometimes suddenly, you have a connection! Cooking! or, Gardening!, or Weight Loss!. Sometimes it's more tenuous. . . you discover a school in common with your kids, or in a small-world kind of way, the person who is training you graduated three years ago from the same school where your oldest is attending, and from the same degree program. . . holy smokes! Too funny.

Good people, and I look forward to getting to know them better, one-on-one, face-to-face, not sifting to find the common thread.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Big Week Ahead!

Friday was my last day at the high school! The new job starts Tuesday, and I confess to being both excited and nervous. Back to Non-Profit World. Looks to be a fairly casual office, but it's not going to be high school casual. Must get some shopping in this weekend.

I'm really having to get my head around having some easy meals on hand for my longer days. Just back from the grocery store. I'd browsed my recipes and bought what I need to make five or six meals. The check out guy says, "Lots of groceries today! Looks like enough for a month!" He looked to be a starving college kid. WF had whole chickens on sale. They're smallish, so I bought two; I'll roast them both today so we'll have one for dinner tonight and one that I can use for derivative recipes later in the week. Doesn't this soup sound good? It's from a group of recipes in my Real Simple for using cooked rotisserie chicken as a short cut.

Greek lemon soup with chicken

In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add 1/3 cup orzo and boil until tender, 8 to 9 minutes. In a bowl, beat 6 egg yolks; slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken and 1/4 cup lemon juice; season with pepper.

There are about a dozen others and most sound good. I'll make the venison recipe Russ's sister gave me tomorrow as it has to cook for hours. The other recipes for the week are very simple. Shrimp Fra Diavolo, white bean soup with andouille sausage and collards, and I have a meatloaf in the freezer.

Anyway, I'm still procrastinating on the paperwork I need to do. F-ing taxes. It's so beautiful outside! I think I'll pull my garden gloves on and trim the roses.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dreaming in Black and White

The full moon shot a beam to my eye
this morning in the earliest hours
through the branches and wind and
for a moment I dreamed
in black and white.

Well, that sucks. Or maybe not, but it definitely isn't the same as what was in my head when I woke up yesterday morning. I should have written it down right away. The moon was amazingly huge and full, and I had not closed the shutters. The wind was howling too. An amazing night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Feeding

Jan and I determined that it was time to feed the bees a bit. She'd made about a gallon of sugar water and we divided it between two ziplock bags. We popped the top of the first hive. Could definitely see capped honey, but not a lot of bees. I thought that was a good sign, that it meant there was still enough honey in the lower supers, but Jan seemed less optimistic. We put down a patty of pollen, then one bag of sugar water. Jan put some seepage holes in the bag, but the bag was too full for the feeder box to sit down properly. A good squish seemed to do the trick, but then, oh jeez, the syrup is flowing out the entrance. All Jan and I could do was hope nobody drowned in the great syrup flood of 2011. A little more finesse for the second hive, though there was still minor flooding.

Honestly, I kinda thought they'd be fine, but, well, I haven't taken the classes so I'm following the boss. There's been quite a bit of activity on the warmer days, so I take heart that the hives are surviving. It will be great to see pollen gathering. Won't be too long now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weak in the Knees

I had an amazing haircut experience this past weekend. Bright-eyed boy and I both needed a haircut, but since we hadn't planned ahead, we landed at the local Hair Cuttery. You definitely take your chances, at least at this location, but on the 2011 austerity plan, I didn't want to pay $60 for my regular stylist. Anyway, I get the requisite shampoo and conditioner, nothing special there, but once she starts combing my hair, and separating my scalp into manageable quadrants, there's something about her touch that just started to hypnotize me. I closed my eyes and I think my mouth was hanging open. She was slow and methodical, but the little tugs as she separated a bit to snip, the whisper of the scissors, then moving on to the next little piece to trim. . . it all felt so good, it made me go all weak in the joints. It felt so good I didn't want it to end, so I uncharacteristically let her blow dry. I have curly hair and I don't fuss with it much and I NEVER blow it dry. Generally I don't want it blown dry when I get it cut because I need it to look good the way *I* style it, which is wash, towel dry, comb out, a little anti-frizz product, and call it done.

Too bad it turned out to be the worst cut ever, at least with it blow dried all poufy and old-lady-ish. It's better now that I'm au naturel. The boy hated his cut too, but I think his looks good.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Great Gift

I asked Santa for an espresso maker, and man o man did he come through. This baby is the BOMB. Steam frother, pressure gauge, cup rack on top. . . and it's this cool retro red. Almost matches my retro kitchen counter. Product details here.

What was your favorite Christmas gift?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It Just Isn't Right

I'm attending the funeral today for a high school chum's 18-year old daughter. It just isn't right.

I wish there was some way to comfort her parents. More info here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smart Dogs

Interesting New York Times article here on a border collie who lives in Spartanburg, S.C., who has the largest vocabulary of any known dog. My dogs were very smart, but more in a smart-alecky way. The late, great Mosby, for example, thought "Come!" meant "Run away as fast as you can!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another Poem

Another entry in the occasional series of poetry from the bright-eyed boy. This was written on assignment after spending the day at The Outdoor Lab.


Snakes like to slither
After a while they will wither
Hopefully they won't come hither
They aren't as bad as a chigger

Not Shakespeare, but he does make me smile.