Saturday, December 31, 2011


I love lights! Candles, lamps, cool ceiling fixtures, sunshine, moonlight, fireplaces, fire pits, fireworks (although not at midnight on New Year's Eve when I have been asleep for awhile)...I also love old, which is extremely good, as my years of living are getting higher and higher in number. Maybe that is why I like older stuff - my subconscious remembers it from way back in the dark ages. Maybe that is why I love lights!

Check out these cool candle holders my honey gave me for Christmas! Lights AND old looking. I found, I mean he found them at Sister to Sister in Prosser (right next to Starbucks, immediately off the freeway ramp). I'll share a little secret. He wanted to get the for me for Christmas, but sent me in to buy them (I had discovered them on a previous trip). I allowed the sweet ladies inside to think that the gift was for someone else (it was for me) and they wrapped it so prettily. :) Saved my man a little extra work, and the wrapping looked great!

It was a theme season for me. Mr. Fancy Shopper, on his own without me, also found this very unique teapot candle holder. Old looking barn red with rubbed off paint. Love it!

Before Christmas, my awesome son gave me money and told me to buy something. (Actually, he gave it to dear old dad, who gave it to me). On my birthday, we went on a day trip to see Jan Brett and stopped for coffee at Starbucks. I trotted in to Sister to Sister and fell in love with the Christmas decor - including my future hanging candle holders and this wonderful galvanized birdhouse table top candle holder. It is so beautiful when the candles are lit! As a side bonus, this candle holder puts out quite a bit of heat, so we use it as a pseudo-fireplace in our family room, the coldest room of the house. It really helps.

Filling my house and my heart with light. Perfect for those long, short, dreary, winter days.

Maybe that's why Christmas is in December. The arrival of The Light shreds the darkness of winter.

2012 for Moi

Over the last few years, I've deliberately avoided New Year's Resolutions. But I'm thinking that I may consider a few for 2012. I don't know why, but I think I'll call it turning over a new leaf.

2012 for me:
~ eat less
~ walk more
~ love more
~ read more
~ collect less
~ paint more
~ stress less
~ cook more
~ eat more veggies and fruit
~ continue eating chocolate
~ drink coffee more, with friends
~ play more
~ laugh more
~ write more
~ gripe less
~ hug more
~ sing more
~ kiss more
~ clean less
~ organize more
~ judge less
~ forgive faster
~ love my babies
~ embrace life

Too Anxious to Paint

My husband may soon ban my trips to the home improvement store. He may also write some strong suggestive messages to those companies that now sell sample sized paint containers - all mixed in the numerous colors his wife has chosen to consider.

Really, it's his fault. He gave me a gift card to Lowe's. What else does he expect? I only went in for the brilliant blue I want to use to paint the backs of the kitchen shelves. I ended up with two more color samples and several color cards of almost for sure color swatches for the rest of the house. Hmmm. I cannot wait to paint!

When I was thinking about what I wanted to commit to for 2012, I told myself, I want to paint more. Now, in my head I was thinking of watercolor painting, which I adore. As I gaze at the several random paint samples displayed on walls throughout the house (in actual paint, non-removable paint), I realized that I may also mean painting on my walls...

It is only December 31. The earliest I can conceivably paint is spring break. That's in April. I think we will have to continue to gaze upon my color swatches for quite a while. We can't even pass it off as artistic. I've chosen to paint the same colors in different locations to see how the light hits it at throughout the day.

Cela vie! These new colors will make my home a rainbow of hues until painting day arrives. Maybe no one will notice?

Until then, I think I need a sample for the ceiling color, a non-traditional (for me) creamy off-white. While I'm there, I need to check on colors for the family room...Just don't tell anyone where I've gone.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Doctors and Things

That will teach me! I scheduled a crown AND my annual physical over Christmas break!

What was I thinking? Not only do I have a temporary crown that is extremely sensitive and TMJ as a result of the tooth work that gives me aching headaches, I can't enjoy all of the lovely, crunchy, sticky, delicious, chewy Christmas treats and special dishes of the season. Between the temporary crown AND lab work, it's just not the same. Blah! Need to seriously rethink my appointment game plan. I think I weigh more over Christmas, so that doesn't help.

Bah-humbug for doctor appointments and temporary crowns (even if I really like both my doctor and my dentist). Nothing personal...just their line of work.

My blood work came back good though...a special blessing from God, that it is.

Next year...maybe summer? Maybe never? How about no?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27

December 27th. Winter. Cold and dry. Or damp and foggy. But still, winter.

Just completed a chilly, face numbing walk through the neighborhood. And what did I see? And hear? Two silly, out of season robins!

Now, seriously. We did not have a white Christmas. Not even a foggy Christmas. Not perfectly clear, but not wintry weather either. Mild would be a good word. For the northwest, that is not good. We definitely need piles of snow and ice, wind and rain. Especially in the mountains. Summer irrigation depends on it.

But robins? They seemed wonderfully ignorant of the season, and blissfully happy to be bouncing from branch to branch.

I hope this does not forecast a clear, dry winter season for us. I dread to think of the hot weather water woes to follow if that is the case.

Or maybe, just maybe, the robins are a bit touched in the head. Blown off course on their fall departure route. Let's hope so.

Come on robins, head to your winter roosting spots. Come on snow, we need mountains of the pretty white stuff. It's winter! Snow, baby, snow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Favorite Gift

My favorite gift from students are when the child is proudly handing me a bag or package and the mother is standing behind, mouthing, "He picked it himself!"

Now, that is a loaded statement. That means the gift could be anything! (I once gave my parents the prettiest little shot glasses - I just fell in love with them. I was in early grade school, and I was so pleased to buy them at store. Now I understand the discussion going on over my head as to why someone my age would be buying shot glasses?!???).

I love gifts that the child has chosen by himself! Sometimes I think, wow, how cool. Sometimes I wonder and try to make a connection between the gift, the child, and myself. But always I am pleased to be remembered. Regardless of how embarrassed the parent seems to be.

This particular gift turned out to be quite nice. Lovely (gaudy, but I love gaudy) ruby red (a new sister is Ruby, maybe that's why the color was chosen?) dangly (I love dangly) earrings and matching beaded bracelet! Nothing could have been nicer.

Of course, on this particular day, I was wearing my red sweater with an old-fashioned snowman angel on it. Perfect!

"Should I put them on?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," was the happy reply.

I donned my new jewels, to the cautious comments to not poke myself and how beautiful they looked.

Later we sat at the group table completing a project, the conversation turned to my new reds.

"Those are real diamonds."

"Oh, I should take care of them then," I said.

"Yes, you should lock them up." And additional tips from several students. "You could put them in a special box in your purse." "You could put them in a jewelry box." "Oh, my mom has a jewelry box." "You need to make sure the robbers don't steal them."

Pretty soon, my jewelry was forgotten as the topic of eventual theft, robbers, and whose mom's had jewelry boxes continued unabated.

Life in a kinder room.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

As I sit here, listening to the crackling of a virtual fire on the flat screen (funny, I still feel cold) and Christmas music blasting on the ipod dock, I notice a streak of chocolate on my hand. Oops. Missed a spot when I cleaned up from making toasted walnut chocolate glazed biscotti. From old-fashioned baking projects (peanut butter bars - check - microwave marshmallow fudge - check - biscotti - cooling; cupcakes to do for tomorrow) to online everything, Christmas certainly looks different this year!

With the time crunch, I decided I would go virtual and post our annual Christmas letter on my blog. I want you to know this is a hard choice. I'm one who values tradition and doing it the same way. Twenty five years of Quantrell Christmas letters. I guess I'm ready for a few changes. Biscotti has never been on my holiday baking list nor a digital Christmas letter. Changes, here we come.

The Quantrell family had an eventful 2011. Time marches on, and we certainly feel the effects creeping up on us, from scrambling for cheaters to read small print to more aches and pains upon waking to the difficulty of keeping up with a two-year-old and a 4 month old! But enough about us old folks.

Dad Quantrell passed away on March 29. Bill has had poor health for quite a few years due to stroke issues. But what got him was complications from pneumonia. It was a sad but peace-filled day. He is missed greatly, but we know he is no longer suffering and we are quite sure he is chatting away with everyone he meets.

Taylor has completed his full time obligation with the US Army. He is now in the Army Reserves out of Ft. Lewis. He is employed with D.R. Brown Trucking in Yakima. This job is a perfect fit for our super-mechanic. He did end up with stitches within the first 2 weeks of working there (some heavy engine thing fell on his hand - don't ask, I have no idea, truck engine parts are another language for me - and you know diesel engines are HUGE and HEAVY). Our boy loves being covered in grease from head to toe, so the job is a perfect fit. He now gets paid to be dirty. Taylor is close enough to go check on Grandma Q. at lunch, call mom and dad, and visit Grandma and Grandpa Hill up on the mountain.

On August 5, Taylor and Jamie were married at Ft. Simcoe. What a beautiful wedding! Despite the appearance of hordes of yellow jackets at the rehearsal (they wanted fried chicken), we survived with barely any small visitors the day of the wedding. Many family and friends traveled way out to Ft. Simcoe to help celebrate the big day. We are happy to welcome Jamie (formally, as they've been together for about 7 years before the wedding) as our daughter. They are renting a little place near Harrah, where Jamie is teaching preschool at the same school I teach. (Only minor confusion about which Mrs. Quantrell people are talking about or looking for...)

Chelsie, Collin, and Hayden had a lovely addition to their family on August 23. Khloe Chevelle popped out weighing 9# 1/5 oz. Big girl! Poor mama was ready (we thought she might surprise us at the wedding, but no, had to be induced one week late). Hayden loves his little sissy, even if she does hog attention from him. We love hearing that little voice shouting, "Nana, 'are you?" (Nana, where are you?) as he comes into the house. We cannot, however, keep up with him! Mommy is getting ready to go back to YVCC and study radiology while daddy works many, many hours at Pepsi. Chelsie also works part time with Kevin at Keith & Keith and Langevin-Mussetter - and she helps take care of Grandma Q.

Kevin still works at the Dignity funeral homes in Yakima and Wapato. He is part time and does the bulk of running around for them. Between work, taking care of momma, and working with Amplify (the little church start we are working on), he can count his free time on one hand. I do enjoy his flexible schedule, as he is Mr. Me and has dinner started most days when I get home from school! What a great guy. Think I'll keep him. It has been 26 years...yes. I think I will keep him.

I'm still teaching at H.C.C.S. This year I am living in the kindergarten room! I love that age. It does require a different sort of energy level than what was needed for 2rd-3rd grade...We get to do lots of fun things. I'm still writing for WMU, but not as much. I want to write more, but with school schedules, classes I've had to take, and life in general...there is NO TIME. (Hence the electronic Christmas Letter. haha)

Trips this year, a scant few, but memorable - Las Vegas to be in my cousin's wedding (Elvis did the ceremony!), Whidbey Island for me (college friends 30th reunion), our high school class 30th reunion, a few runs to Seattle...Wow. Not much happening on the trip schedule. Bigger plans for next year. After all, it's not often that one of us turns the big 5-0.

This December finds us just finishing our Christmas tasks with a day to spare. Whew. I'm eating carefully, as my temporary crown (Happy Christmas to me and a wonderful school vacation) has my jaw sore and sensitive. I've got to do better planning. I also have my annual physical next week. Not a good time with all the special treats that have been coming our way. Next year, new goal. No doctor or dentist appointments allowed for Christmas vacation. That's a great idea, Mrs. Quantrell!

The cooling biscotti are calling me for packaging. My kindle is ready to be enjoyed. Cupcakes are needing baked for Baby Jesus birthday treats. Gifts are strewn about the office floor dreaming of which wrapping paper they will receive. The daily walk needs to be enjoyed, dinner awaits preparation, and a quiet evening with my honey needs relishing before our Christmas Eve candlelight service and Christmas Day celebrations.

(Sometimes, you just feel like lying on the grass...)

May the Lord bless and smile upon you and your family during 2012!

Hugs and kisses from the crazy Q's.

And who knows how I ended up with blue font??? Didn't know that was an option...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three-Eyed Baby Jesus Returns

The three-eyed baby Jesus is back!

Tell the truth, I forgot that our classroom nativity set had a three-eyed baby Jesus. Last year, the second and third graders discovered our special Jesus right off the bat.

In kindergarten, it may have been even faster. Suddenly. Cries of, "Baby Jesus has three eyes?" and "Why does Jesus have three eyes," and "I want to see!" rang through the classroom. Don't let little kids fool you. They are KEEN observers of things not normal or different.

"Well," as I struggled to recall last year's excitement. Looking for a link to our learning, I plugged ahead. (Due to our extreme focus on books - authors, illustrators, publishers, etc., I took that tactic.)

"Sometimes, artists make mistakes. Just like sometimes we don't do things exactly like we want. You know...blah, blah, blah. Illustrators, people, kids mess up what they are working on."

They hung on to my words like I wished they did every day. "So I think Baby Jesus has his nose in the wrong place."

Silent contemplation. That doesn't happen much in a kindergarten class. Then life went on as usual. Back to normal.

Until I noticed that the stable had now become a moving vehicle for all nativity figures. Bible characters sat silently in terror as 5 year-old boys drove them around the carpeted floor, locked inside the half walls.

Time for my question. "Where is Baby Jesus going?"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Christmas Tradition - aka - Nana, take me!

I took him! Last time I posted, I was not able to and my Nana-heart was broken.

Today, he was my little cling-on. We did all sorts of things. But the main thing we did was be together.

And we started a new Christmas tradition for Nana and her grand babies. He's the only one old enough yet, but just wait. Pretty soon the kitchen will be entirely covered in icing and sticky finger prints.

Today, we made our first gingerbread house! With a kit, all is complete, except the wash-up tools and knives for spreading.

Oh, Nana, there was CANDY! Most of it too hard for him, but gumdrops were a hit. And when we were almost done, the discovery of the edibleness of icing - why tell him too early and add to the sugar consumption??? - ahhh, the finger drips of icing and "Hay-nen eat, Nana." What a fun time!

So far, I am pleased to say, the house weighing considerably more than when we began, is still standing. The icing is dripping lovely for good effect. The candy is still on. The boy is happy (and to tell the truth, spent a few moments of pure buzz in the living room). Lots of pictures. Great memories.

Oh, and yes, there is still a glob of permanent glue like icing on my elbow. Better go catch that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Heart, It Breaks

"Nana, take me!" said my little Bubba as he hugged my neck!

Ouch! That only hurts when I can't take him with me. Usually, it would be all cool, and let's have a rollicking great time at Nana's (with our new game, What's this, Nana?, What's this, Nana?).

But today, I couldn't take him with me. If I could cry just a little. He's my Bubba. Really, he's Papa's buddy, but sometimes, just sometimes, I am cool enough for him to want to hang out inside with the usually boring stuff. Today was one of those times.

"Nana, just one minute," he says.

Hopefully, it will go that fast until he gets Nana to take me.

This Nana can't stand it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recess in Winter

Recess in winter is not as much fun for teachers as it is for students. Especially in kindergarten.

Our stash of winter clothing items has moved out into the hallway, as the cubbies do not support the growth of slick nylon coats, hats, snow pants, snow suits, and snow boots. Avoiding the mountain of weather proofing nylon, the kindergartners make a pile under their name tag in the hall. Backpacks and lunches get choice resting spots in cubbies.

But come recess...hats, gloves, zippers, pants, boots, scarves, bathroom break...times ten...

The pause that is supposed to refresh and rejuvenate all involved parties becomes a dance in exertion and finesse to match clothing parts with appropriate hands, feet, heads, and bodies. This teacher does not need winter clothing after helping attire 5 and 6 year-olds for the snowy outdoors.

She needs a blast of AC and a short nap.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who told you what?

Again, you just gotta love kindergartners!

Recently, after a several day visit of a baby bull snake in our classroom, it was time for the snake to go and be free. The snake was sitting in its' plastic jar, trying to force it's body against the sides and make an escape.

The snake was on the counter by the door. We were on our way out the door to go home.

(Me) Well, it's time for Sammy the Snake to go home now. Mrs. W. will take it and let it go at her house so it will eat rattlesnakes.

(Various students) How do you know it's a boy, Mrs. Quantrell? How do you tell it's a boy? How do you know?

(Me) You know, I don't know. I think you have to be an expert or something. I have no idea. It could be a girl. Maybe we could call her Sylvia the Snake.

(A girl) Or Sally the Snake.

(First boy) No, Mrs. Quantrell, you know I hear God telling me stuff sometimes. And He just told me that the snake is a girl! (5 year-old pointing to his own head, where God was telling him something)

(Second boy) No, nuh-uh (turning around and arguing with the first boy). God just told ME that the snake was a boy! Mrs. Quantrell, the snake is a boy!

So, who to believe? Maybe the invisible snake expert.

Five year-olds. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

5 Little Monkeys

Oh yeah, big score this weekend! (You will love it if you are a teacher of younger children OR you have younger children in your life.)

Five little monkeys, five little monkeys, five little monkeys just hanging around...
Five little monkeys jumpin' on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head..."

You know the song. How about some fun acting it out? At JoAnn's (fabric/crafts) I found a giant score. In the felt items I found plate-sized thick felt monkey heads with a $1 price. Better yet, when I checked out, they rang up on sale! Score! Fifty cents each. Add a paint stick, or not, and we are ready for some retelling fun.

The deal of the week (as per sign on the basket) was 8 little monkey faces made from felt with sticky backs. Perfect for adding to a Velcro-fingered glove to sing the song. Oh, and the gloves (the cheapies, which fit just fine for small hands) were on sale for $1 a pair.

Both felt items (the small sticky faces may need additional glue to keep them together) are called Felties by Darico and list that they should be used for 3 years-old and over.

Did I snag a deal or what?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pink Cowboy Boots

Five year olds are honest. And real. And curious. And spiritual.

Every day after lunch, we spend time learning a weekly Bible verse and Bible story. I am constantly amazed at the deep questions kindergartners ask. Occasionally, I'm without a good answer. Usually I end up with a wonderful quote or funny story.

Last week, during the discussion following the story (the weekly story was the Tower of Babel, but they love Noah and Adam and Eve, so we keep looping back to revisit previous stories). One little boy brings up going to Heaven quite often, and how we will go to Heaven when we get old, like a grandma did.

On this afternoon, contributions to the conversation led to talking about Heaven and how we will be taken care of. New bodies and clothes came into the conversation. One thing led to another.

Pretty soon, a little girl, with a sad, heart broken demeanor on her face, piped up, "Teacher, there won't be pretty pink cowboy boots in Heaven?"

What can I say? The Bible tells that the clothes (robes) will be clean and new, glorious and sin-free. I recall nothing about shoes, hairstyles, undergarments, socks...

Pink cowboy boots? For all those little girls who love their cowboy boots?

I bet Jesus loves pink cowboy boots, too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Funny Things

Teaching kindergarten is excellent fun! I mean, seriously, you can never tell what they will say or do. I love it.

Some recent examples...

I was helping one of my kindergartners use his reading finger to point at each word as we were practicing reading a group book. Noticed that his fingers were sticky, so much so that his pointing finger was sticking to the paper. That was odd, as it was still very early in the school day, and we had not used any sticky materials yet. Then I watched as he switched something from his reading hand to the other hand. It was a booger.

The other day I was introducing the weekly Bible story about Noah and the Ark. I showed the Bible and told the students that this story happened a very long time ago, way back at the beginning of the Bible. One little boy popped up with, "Was that back before the 1970's?" (I guess that officially makes me old).

Today I had a rather reluctant child helping wash lunch tables after the mail. Mostly she was moping and disgruntled at having been chosen for this job. I looked at her and said, "Put some elbow grease into that!" The little girl glanced at my face, then with an invisible shrug, put her elbow onto the wet paper towel and proceeded to wash the table.

Can't buy funny stuff like this. Just gotta love it.

(There never will be a dull or sanitary moment in a kindergarten room.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Changing the Name

I'm changing the name of one of my favorite activities.

The hubster and I love to get away to the mountains and hit the trail, any trail, just give me a trail...Hiking is a wonderful relaxation for us.

Nature. Fresh air. New scenery (or familiar). Pines. Trees. Birds. Water features. Splashing fish. Bugs. Rain. Other noisy outdoors-persons (female in our most recent case, with their fighting in the water dogs). Stumps. Fallen trees. Roots. Dirt. Mud.

What a list! Regardless, we love getting out there to see God's Creation.

I'm also very good, lately, at implementing my own drama. Camera in hand, I creep carefully up and down the dirt and pine needle paths, sneaking down to the lake's edge - Cooper Lake in this instance - clicking pictures and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Until I found the log. It was thigh high for me, and had fallen over the trail. Sure, I can handle the camera AND climbing over the bark-free trunk.

Neither leg made it. It was a slow-mo two part classic fall and wished we had the video going event. My first leg going up and over slipped on the wet bark, throwing me half over the trunk, while the last leg scrambled to join the party on the other side of the tree. When the second leg made the leap, it came into contact with a slick rock and ground dust, sliding and bumping me face and knees first into a clump of shrubs.

But the camera was fine, although the lens cover fell into the dust. Mostly, I think, I kept the camera shoulder high (as opposed to doing anything to break the fall and personal one on one time with the ground and shrub).

The hubster, right behind me, grasped vacantly at my loose jacket, which was unzipped and provided nothing to grab. Neither could he leap in a single bound the tree trunk and beat me to the other side and catch me. He just watched the excitement, holding onto a piece of jacket shoulder, waiting for me to hit bottom so he could help me up. (He did feel really bad to not save me from myself...)

So I am renaming my hiking hobby to Falling. Whenever we go to the mountains I shall tell people we are going falling. This is not the first time. It seems to be happening more often.

On the list, new shoes with good tread and a longer camera strap so it can rest on my shoulders and not in my hand.

Falling, here we come.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Get to the Point

Wear shoes when watering the late summer vegetable garden. Soothing though it is to stroll serenely through the cool damp grass, hauling a drippy hose, danger lurks when you least expect it.

Just as much as I love the flowers, grass, flavors, smells, and sights of my back yard, so does a myriad of insects and birds (evidence of the birds is dropped all over the zucchini leaves and half of the missing sunflower seeds). The yellow praying mantis was lurking on the dead parts of the potted johnny-jump-ups. Daddy long legs raced away from my feet and the water deluge. The bees and flies were zooming around the towering sunflowers.

The bees also crept and buzzed un-noticed in the clover behind the garden shed. I found one. With my baby toe.

He used his point to get my attention. That's the fastest I've moved in a long time! Scraped out the stinger, and there lay the poor little guy (although at the time I did not think that, since pain was zinging up my foot), gray and black striped, butt-less and dying. Just doing his job and minding his own business. And then I had to step on him.

The point: wear shoes when tip-toeing in the clover (or any other flowering ground cover).

Standing in a pan of baking soda paste...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zucchini Wars

It took hand clippers, a butcher knife, my shredder, the big measuring cup, a large mixing bowl, and almost 30 zip-quart bags, but I won.

The Attack of the Zucchini Monster was thwarted by stalwart stealth (snuck up on them as they lay there growing larger, fatter, longer, hotter), elbow grease, skinned knuckles (still using the original grater from the beginning of the marriage days), sweat equity, and the upright freezer.

Just you wait, zucchini monster. This winter, when I'm baking the thirtieth batch of whole wheat zucchini bread, I will reflect back and smile.

Zucchini Monster - zero.

Me - 1.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Baby

The miracle of being a Nana. X2. The first time around was fabulous, and quite interesting from the other side of the stirrups. Emotions ran high, exhaustion set in, awe and wonder sprang forth with joy as baby Boy made his appearance. Too amazing.

Again. Even with the previous experience and the current juggling of care for the Boy as Sister made her splash (literally) in the world, nothing could compare to the excitement of finally meeting her face to face. She would be late, as her mother is always late. Named. Expected and longed for.

But a week overdue seems like seconds when I hold that precious baby Girl. Minuscule fingers and toes, bum and pointy head.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's a...Shade Tracker?

Feelin' it...summer time hot. Not the bad hot where a person could melt from lack of shade. But close enough (especially if you are in the late 40's and hitting a certain life stage...).

So I just put on one of my super special sleeveless tank tops, and voila, I am the Shade Tracker. Super due to excellent colors and comfort. Special because they are cool and sleeveless.

Wearing a colorful tank, I survive the sun. My path around the house follows the travels of the sun.

Par example: Early morning, east facing window shades are all closed or open slightly for light. The west facing windows are wide open. If there is a cool breeze, the windows are open for fresh air. Otherwise, everything is shut up tight to lock out the heat, keep in the cool. The zip lock of cool. Keeps things fresh.

The routine flip flops in the afternoon. As the thermometer shows more red, the pavement heats up, and unwatered plants start wilting, I open blinds on the east side of the house and then close the western blinds. Ceiling fans begin spinning and the ice tea is poured.

My favorite invention to deal with the sun rays is what I've created for the back patio. This area gets blasted with the late afternoon heat and sun, which is much worse than the morning sunshine. Three bamboo gardening poles, six metal rings, six large hooks, rubber bands, four light colored curtains, and four lengths of canvas tape are my materials.

Bamboo poles slide through the rings, which hang on the hooks. Curtains attach by way of fabric loops. Rubber bands figure eight over the hooks, rings, and poles for stability.

In the shade, outdoor room dividers are neatly tied open. But once Mr. Sun heads over the top of the house, off come the ties, and shade providing curtains are spread out to block the worst of the heat from my now shady patio.

That's what I'm talking about. The Shade Tracker foils the sun. Again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Squirrel Part 2

There is was again! I saw it as I was returning from my coffee run. The furry little scoundrel was sitting by the side of the road at the top of the hill, preparing to run out into my path.

I doggedly checked all my options for squirrel avoidance - rear view mirror, side mirror, front window, sides, ditch...ready for anything.

And then I got right up to it. It froze in place and I breathed a sigh of relief.

That's when I saw it stayed frozen.

It was a rock.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Bushy Tailed Quail?

There I was, just driving along on the narrow street heading home from morning coffee and reading several chapters in a book necessary for a course I'm taking.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Just kidding.

I was approaching the narrowest, vertically challenged and notoriously known area for quail and close calls with other vehicles. I'm always on alert for quail because I think they are exceptionally cute and noisy. And I don't want to hit one. I don't like the rear view of flying feathers.

Oh, there's one. Nope, it was a dove. Oops! There's one popping out onto the roadway exactly when I was cornered by a close following vehicle and another approaching up the top of the hill from the other side. No room for maneuvering around the cute little bird. Drats, Batman! I don't want to hit it!

Then it flicked its' big bushy tail. What? Bushy tail and quail don't usually go together. The quail dropped down to its' front paws??? and scampered back into the underbrush.

Ahhhh. A big bushy tailed gray squirrel also lives in the quail rampant area. Whew. Flashbacks to those insurance commercials where the squirrels hysterically plan to cause automotive accidents by staging in the center of the road...

I think I heard it snicker at me as I narrowly avoided the cars, the ruts, the bushes and trees, and the big bushy tailed squirrel.

I'll be on the look-out for you, Mr. Squirrel. You and your big fluffy tail and schemes of demise for my car.

Big bushy tailed quail. Not.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Natural Selection, Quantrell Style

I've had it.

Planted two varieties of raspberries - only two pots worth, but two of them. One looked very healthy, displaying vibrant greens and lush growth. The other had slightly browned leaves on the bottom and seemed more like I was taking a chance when I purchased it. I planned to experiment and find out which was the best producer. I love raspberries. The more the merrier.

The eastern plant, Willamette Raspberry (Rubus Willamette) looked great. High hopes for this one. Did I mention it had thorns? The western plant, Joan J. Raspberry (Rubus Joan J.) did not exhibit the potential for growth and berry abundance. Miss Joan did not have any thorns, which I found odd, but was happy at the prospect of no scratches come harvest time.

Mid-August, and I'm about ready to perform my own version of natural selection! The scraggly, browned leaved western plan, Miss Joan J., is covered in blooms, picked fruit buds, and ripening raspberries! I love this plant! I would like several more like this one, brown leaves, no thorns, and all.

(Miss Joan J.)

Good old Willamette Raspberry is worthless! The only thing it has grown has been MORE thorns and long canes filled with beautiful leaves. NOT ONE flower OR hint of a raspberry. Nothing. So, Mr. Willamette, I'll give you until spring. If there is no sign of something for me to eat, you are gone. Compost-ville for you. Hasta la vista, baby. Thorns, pretty leaves, the whole works. Dug up and tossed out.

(Mr. Willamette)

That's my time line. I'm selecting the variety that does what it's supposed too. Forget the time, energy, water and work for the lazy plant. I keep telling it, "You have until maybe May, beginning of June, and I better see some fruit, or you are out of here!"

It's not working so far, the threats, but maybe after a nice lie in over winter, Mr. Willamette will consider the compost bin...and get busy. Otherwise, it's several more of Miss Joan J. coming to live in my yard.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Necessity of Outdoors

Always loved being outside and interacting with nature. A class I'm taking right now agrees with my thoughts and feelings about the natural world. Kids need that time outside exploring, building, running, rolling, climbing, throwing, digging, playing...How else will they learn to appreciate and protect our world? Where else do they interact with science-y concepts? When will they spend time noticing the complexity and elaborateness of God's creation?

Even two-year-olds enjoy stuff outside. The grandson much prefers to go 'side (outside) to anything else. If there is water, sand, dirt, grass, trees, he is in the middle of it. Sure, a wheeled vehicle can accompany him. But it needs to be 'side.

So I'm veto-ing TV time and electronic games. My grandbabies get to go 'side and get their hands messy. And their knees, pants, elbows, faces. Sorry mommy. That's what washers and bandaids are for.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Rehearsal

A wedding at Ft. Simcoe. Fab-u-lous dahling, fab-u-lous.

First, the rehearsal dinner (the fastest on record, due to the swarming of yellow jackets).

The happy, planning couple with the minister, dear ole' dad.

No idea what he's saying, or why he's pointing at me.

Giving her away...

I can't take this anymore!

Rehearsing. More rehearsing.

Still rehearsing.

Are we done yet?

Done yet?


Next, the big day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stir Fried Garden

Another delicious meal, compliments of my garden, God (the Grower), a few grocery store items, and leftovers from a BBQ. Oh, what to do?

Stir Fried Garden Beans & Zucchini

1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
10 or so small yellow tomatoes
1/4 of an onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. fresh green beans, whole
1 leftover BBQ'd sausage, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Crushed peppers (to taste)

Add a few T. of olive oil to a saute' pan. Saute' onion and sausage. Add green beans when other is hot. Let beans begin to turn cooked green and add squash/zucchini. Let cook almost all the way (not mushy). Add tomatoes the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with black pepper and crushed peppers. Eat warm. (We ate ours with multi-grain pepper jack cheese quesadillas).

C'est bon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

They're Not Really Really Free, But...

Dinner for tonight was mostly from our garden. Yummers. As I was talking to myself, which I make a daily habit, I noticed to myself that these "free" vegetables and fruit from my garden were actually not free. I had to purchase seeds, fertilizer, and soil (hopefully this year only), build raised beds, spend countless hours weeding and watering, and spend time picking, washing, and prepping...Nope. Not free at all.

Delicious? Yes! Beautiful? Yes.

Despite all the time, money, and energy I spent on my free vegetables, I know the One who freely made them grow so wonderfully. He lovingly sprouted the seeds and keeps them growing and producing. He has created them fresher and healthier than those purchased in stores. Few pests (so far - the insects can probably smell the richness and are quickly crawling, winging, or creeping closer), no added chemicals, no wax or preservatives added. Ahhh.

What the Creator of the universe can do! Amazing. Not for a second do I believe in a big bang that formed all of the intricate details evident in my garden, not to mention every puzzle piece of life that fits just so. I love seeing evidence of His imagination and creativity, available every day, everywhere, free for the looking.

A recipe of tasty summer...

Sweet Summer Salad
(The more that comes from outside the back door, the better!)

Fresh lettuce (I like the mixed seeds for at least 4 types of greens)
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
Strawberries, thinly sliced
Small radishes, left whole
2 basil leaves per person, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced or diced
Yellow pear or round tomatoes
Grated Parmesan cheese, fresh not powdered
Black pepper, fresh ground
Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1. Tear lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces. Divide between plates (number of plates depends on how many salads you need).

2. Divide the rest of the vegetables and fruit between all the plates. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

3. Lightly sprinkle each salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

4. Enjoy!

Balsamic vinaigrette:
Add 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar to 1/4 c. olive oil in a glass jar or salad dressing bottle. Add about 2 tsp. oregano and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Shake well. Ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The ICK Factor

Disgusting. There is nothing worse than using a public toilet. Maybe not having any toilet around to use, but that is another blog.

But using a public potty which appears to be clean and is inside a fairly respectable establishment and then the 'after use perusal' shows details to the contrary. ICK.

Case in point. Today, while doing reconnaissance about a future building project for my honey, I needed to visit the WC (water closet, loo, toilette, potty). Happily went my way to take care of business.

The individualized stalls of personal convenience were adequate. The stall I chose looked clean and relatively unused. So I used it.

And somehow, upon completion of my business, viewed the undercarriage of the throne. UGH. Let's just say that someone missed very visibly and ick-ily.

Did I get any on me? Are my clothes contaminated? Should I just toss it all in the trash and go au naturel throughout the store to avoid contamination? Perhaps as I was kicked out or arrested, the employees would wonder why, and I could explain the pew-ee features on their commodes.

Ick. Gross. Nasty.

Of course, by the time I saw the evidence (not number one, btw), it was too late. I had fallen for the appearance of cleanliness.

Come on people. Seriously. There is someone out there right now that should be taking a shower and doing some laundry (AFTER scrubbing their hands). How one can do that?...Well. OK. Sometimes accidents happen. But how bathroom cleaning persons can clean (and sanitize, I hope) only the TOP of the potty, is, should be, illegal!


I need a shower.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

If the good outweighs the bad...

I went to a memorial service today for a dear man who has a loving family and many friends. One of the speakers was sharing about the popular theory of life after death, and that set me to thinking.

Many people believe that there are scales for each of us. All of your good and bad deeds are put into the appropriate sides of the scales. At the end of life, if the good outweighs the bad, then you go to heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, then you go south...

I've heard that saying spoken by many people, and hadn't stopped to consider what the saying really meant.

The minister went on.

But in reality, that's not what happens at all when a person dies. After a person dies, and he is standing in front of God, God doesn't look for scales at all. The ONLY thing He looks at is the person's heart and whether or not that person has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is the only decision that makes a difference about where a person spends eternity
(and eternity is a very LONG, unending time).

Hadn't thought much about that 'scale theory' until today. From now on, I think I will listen more closely to the idioms, metaphors, and analogies I hear people say. Some may be accurate. Some slightly true. But many are way off the mark.

Toss out the scales. Get to the real issue.

You. Jesus.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recycle X 2

I have this cool bag. Well I HAD this cool bag. It was so cool that I carried it back and forth to school all last year, full to overflowing with teacher stuff - books, papers, craft projects, dirt, science objects, food, prizes, garbage, recycling...If you can think of something (within reason), it was probably hauled in my bag.

It's called le joie de vivre avec stuff and features 60's style illustrations with French vocabulary words. I found it at Inklings (Yakima). All sides were covered with pictures and labeled in French words, including the bottom, which hardly anyone ever saw. (That is good, as it featured a naked man in the shower...didn't notice that part when I purchased my cool bag. He WAS artfully modest.)

My bag was made from recycled materials. A big plus for me. Cool theme, recycled goods, purposeful, large and roomy, solid straps...My kind of bag.

I loved my bag. Loved it too much it seems. By the end of the school year, the bottom was wearing through. I was devastated to have to put it out to pasture, but resigned. It was that or continually pick up things that fell through the holes in the thinned out bag bottom.

Aha! I told myself! (I often talk to myself, and not always in my head. Just ignore me.)

Self, you can remake this sack! Just cut off the bottom and sides. Sew them together and make a smaller but just as cute le joie de vivre avec stuff bag.

So, myself and I took the idea one step further and cut two additional pockets from the side panels (there was already one sewn inside), added the two pockets to one side, pinned the sides together, and double sewed the seams.

Voila! A stylish, lovely, twice recycled bag...

The naked man had to go though.

Scream Door

We have a scream door!

Remember mom (or myself at my own children and the assortment of their friends and pets) yelling, "Shut the screen door?" Scream door may fit better than screen door.

The sounds of our new screen door slamming brings back so many summer memories! Just the noise alone should scare off the flies and outdoor pests trying to gain entry into the food and cool zone. But the banging sounds like summers in and out. Cat and dog in and out. And in and out.

But we finally have a screen door. My honey worked several hours to attach an old-fashioned wooden screen door to our, as we discovered, odd sized back door. Good thing the screen door frame is wooden. He had to shave several inches off of the top and bottom to make it fit. He was so careful to match the hinges and hooks to the illustrations. So what if the inside handle is at knee level (otherwise it hits the regular door handle and they won't close). It is great for the cooling of our home. We can even hear the fountain on our patio through the scream door.

And then he tried to open it.


Duh! Only on our porch would there be a weird 1 x 2 about a foot from the door along the patio ceiling. Uhm. Only skinny people need try the screen door. Haha!

Now our screen door has a lovely cove corner on one side. And it still hits, but we can also use the 1 x 2 as a door stop when unloading the car. So there, weirdly placed 1 x 2. Take that!

Gotta go open the scream door. It's getting hot.

Developmental Stage in the Life of a Truck Dude

A. Under the rig fixing his bike, after watching Uncle Taylor on his back under a truck.

B. Not just bricks for parking, as I had originally thought, but actual 4-wheelin' obstacles to drive over.

C. He wasn't satisfied with only one vehicle hitched to the back, so Papa helped hook all 3 together.

Two years old and a definite interest in tires, engines, trucks, vehicles, 4-wheelin', working on stuff, tools, taking things apart...

I think this may be a developmental stage in the life of a mechanic and 4-wheeler dude. Pretty sure. Mirrors the stages of a certain uncle (and daddy).

As long as there are freeze pops and bungee cords.

What I Can Eat from My Garden

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
- Ralph H. Blum

It's early to be thinking about Thanks-for-giving, but at the same time, just as in Christmas being celebrated every day of the year, we have hundreds of reasons every day to be thankful!

My garden is such an example...What can I eat from my small, city, backyard garden?
~ peas ~ zucchini ~ yellow squash ~ strawberries ~ raspberries ~ sunflower seeds ~ squash flowers ~ pumpkins ~ tomatoes of all sorts ~ green beans ~ chives ~ peppermint ~ basil ~ lettuce of varied shape and color ~ radishes ~ thyme of two names ~ lavender ~ oregano

And there are probably many flowers that may be had for flavor. But I grow them for bees, butterflies, and beauty.

Ahhh. The pleasures to be enjoyed in working the soil and savoring the bounty.

Thank you.

Quiet peace and calmness...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flotsam Jetsam

"(Flotsam, Jetsam, now I've got her boys) the boss is on a roll,"... sings the sea witch, Ursula, on Disney's Little Mermaid. Ursula certainly knows what to do with the items she finds around the ocean!

I found my own flotsam jetsam. Lots of it. Bricks, partial bricks, mini bricks, white rocks, rocks with circles, beach glass, shells, driftwood, rocks with holes, even a rusted shovel head. Determinedly I gathered them all into my trunk and brought them home for somewhere in my garden...somewhere...

Before departing the beach, I stacked rocks and bricks on the shovel head in hopes of keeping them from rolling around in the trunk. Not much chance of that, careful driver that I am. But it's those other drivers!

As soon as I drove into the garage, I started unloading my beach treasure. A few may call it trash. Then I say I am recycling and cleaning up the beach and am green.

To forestall beach stink (stuff left in plastic bags, buckets, and trunks) I quickly spread my treasure on the patio to dry out. Dumped is more like it. I was tired.

And that's when I saw it. My flotsam jetsam pile on the shovel head. Perfect for my front garden. As is. No arranging necessary. Just carry it to the front yard and place it next to the azalea and a few pieces of mysterious driftwood. Nature's beauty on display.

Now what to do with the remainder of my treasure haul?!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Scones

A yummy use for all of those extra cherries! And who can go wrong with chocolate!

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Scones

3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
2/3 c. white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Smart Balance Light
1 c. half and half
2 large eggs
1/2 c. crunched bran flakes
3 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 c. cherries, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (pitted)

Oven: 375 degrees
Servings: Makes about 24 round scones

1. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes. Cool and coarsely chop.
2. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl and mix well. Add Smart Balance and chop in with a fork or pastry cutter.
3. Whisk together eggs, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl.
4. Add the egg mixture to the dry mix. Knead until combined. Add nuts, cherries, and chocolate. Knead gently. Dough will be slightly sticky.
5. Use lightly floured hands and scoop up a handful of dough and form into a round, biscuit shape. Place on baking sheet and gently pat down. Continue with remainder of dough. Leave about 2" between each scone. You may have to bake in two or three groups.
6. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Do not overcook.
7. Cool on wire rack.
8. Serve warm or reheat in microwave. Yummy with coffee or tea. Store lightly covered.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kindles are great, but...

My sister, the awesome, let me borrow her Kindle to take on a road trip so I could read the newest book in the Green Rider series, which we all enjoy (mommy, sister, and I). For convenience, let me tell you, the Kindle rocks. It has games AND shopping on it! With a click of the finger you can buy a book and read it. I love that. Maybe one day I'll have to have a Kindle of my own. The possibilities. Especially when I travel.

On the other hand, nothing can replace a book held in my own two hands. Bookmarks, dog-ears, scraps of paper, sticky notes...illustrations, bookshelves, collections, decorations, anticipation...It just wouldn't seem the same to line up a Kindle on the bookshelf and call it good. I would have to name the bookshelf the 'Kindle and assorted objet d'art shelf.'

And then there are children's books. Je les livres d'enfants d'amour! I love watching children love a book to pieces, literally. There is magic in the story and illustrations. Snuggling with a child and a great book is dreamy.

I've heard the comment many times. One day, with all of this technology, we won't have books anymore.

Hogwash. Too many of us bookworms would protest. Hmmm. I think there is a place for both. I can't wait to secure more books for my collection. And I look forward to when I own a personal Kindle to use as I adventure around the world.

It is difficult to stop trying to reach to the upper right corner and turn the paper page on a Kindle...Nevertheless...I'll persevere and enjoy my books and my future Kindle (hint, hint, honey).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ridin' in the Way Back

We used to fight over it. "No, it's my turn," "I'm gonna tell," and "Mom, she won't let me!"

Ridin' in the way back. In the seventies, station wagons used to have fold down bench seats in the storage area of the back end. We loved those seats, regardless of what direction we were facing as the temporary tenement on wheels barreled down the the hazy hot highways of Arizona. If we were grocery shopping they were folded down and we just bounced around on the middle seat. Seat belts were not required. I don't actually remember seat belts being IN the car. I know we never used them if they were there.

But on road trips, almost every weekend, open up those way back seats and we were in hog heaven. All we needed was a stop at a convenience store, a package of white bread and hot dogs, a few cans of soda, maybe a stick or two of hard candy, and we were set to go. Load up the six of us, stash the hairy collie somewhere between kids and paraphernalia, and hit the road Jack.

Excellent exploring of the entertaining and epic southwest.

Except for taking turns in the way back.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Can Tell

I can tell I don't play enough. I can tell because the last time I did something fun was when my grandson and I played in the pouring rain (and I blogged about it in May). It's June now.

I can tell because my husband and I played wii bowling with our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law. My husband broke the plastic control protector. I broke the clay plant pot sitting on the coffee table. We were just bowling. Our son is not sure he wants to wii with us anymore.

I can tell because I am always trying to multitask, even when I have my grandson with me. Let's water. Let's plant. Let's pick up toys. How about a bath? Come help nana...We need to play.

I can tell because I can't think of the last time I had coffee with a friend (not counting family, because they will meet me anytime, even if it's only for a few minutes). Wait. It may have been last summer.

I can tell because IF I have free time...Scratch that. I don't have free time.

I can tell because IF I did have free time, I dream of things I would love to do. Like watercolor painting, throwing clay pots, rubber stamping, walking, taking pictures, strolling through antique stores, reading good books...

needs to take some time and play. If she doesn't, she is going to just spend all of her time working. There is always something to do. So maybe she'll have to table the work, and chunk out some time for play.

Yes. I think that's what I'll do.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Super Nana

Super Nana struck again. Bonus points awarded for extreme sports. Despite heavy downpours and cautious adults, Super Nana whisked away socks and pants (his), zipped up the hoody, grabbed the camera and umbrella, and headed out to wade in the slickery fast street gutters. Oh yeah.

Upped my "favorite toy" status.