Friday, December 30, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Today I joined with family, old friends, and strangers to say goodbye - and wish a peaceful journey to - my godmother, Connie.  Connie was one of those people who shined her bright inner light onto everyone around her.  I will miss her as will all of us who were lucky enough to have had her in our lives.

Connie and I on my first birthday

At her house this afternoon I read this poem for the first time.  My mother, her best friend from childhood, had written it in calligraphy for Connie nearly two decades ago when her mother passed away.  I don't have words of my own to share, so I share these instead.

"I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean blue.  She is an object of beauty and strength.  I stand and watch until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says; 'There, she is gone!'  Gone where?  Gone from my sight.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.  Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There, she is gone,' there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; 'Here she comes!'  And that is dying."

~Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice - Celebrating the Return to Light

In an effort to be mindful of the changing seasons and the rhythms of darkness to light in the world around us, we made and lit beeswax candles this evening after I returned from a peaceful and meditative Winter Solstice service.  (I will take the kids to walk the labyrinth tomorrow - their energy and the mood of tonight's labyrinth walk were not in alignment.)  The last time we made these candles was two years ago and the kids and I missed it last year.  In fact, I was surprised by how many times they've mentioned it and asked when we would make candles again.  I believe that this is an example of a family ritual in the making although it was not necessarily intended to be.  Sometimes these just call to our spirits, don't they?

Wishing you a bright Solstice from our family to yours on this longest night of the year!

"Long, these nights of Winter, rain dancing in the shadows lit by stars of wonder,
this light born anew...
a seed in my heart, kindled by this deep rest, when all is silent, all is holy, all possible...
from dreams of slumber and live this gift of life, this path of twists and turns unknown...
Be the sound that is you...
a precious spark singing into the coming dawn..."
~Lea Goode-Harris

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Moment - Hibernating beach

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.  A single photo capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you feel so inspired, please share your moment here, too!

"I don't think it is possible to make up for years of sleep deprivation in one week, but you sure are making a valiant effort."  ~(My) IronMan

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Moment - Exploring the Smithsonian

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.  A single photo capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you feel so inspired, please share your moment here, too!

"It's a silent oasis in the noisy confusion of the world, isolating phenomena so that they can be seen undistractedly.  What is being collected are not the artifacts themselves but the undivided attention of the visitors.  That is the museum.  It lies in the mind of the viewers."  ~Diane Ackerman

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Moment - Autumnal glory with my four-legged girl

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.  A single photo capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you feel so inspired, please share your moment here, too!

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive."  ~Gilda Radner

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Singing for Joe

On Monday night my friend Joe slipped the bonds of this earth and passed into the mysteries of death.  Today our church held a memorial celebration of Joe's life and so many people who knew and loved him showed up that all the chairs were filled, the walls of the sanctuary were lined with people standing, people were sitting up front on the floor, and still there were people who had to congregate in the lobby outside the sanctuary (and even outside in the open air listening through windows and external doors) in order to be a part of the service. One person described Joe as pure love.  Many others used words like gentle, kind, and generous.  Joe was all of those things - he was an incredible man whose example of living a life committed to deep and profound connection to others and to advocating for environmental and social justice was immeasurable - and I am very lucky to have known him.

Joe sent this picture of his cat Sprocket a few months ago to say "hi" to the girls after we stopped by for a visit.  He looks about as happy as you might expect of a cat posing for a picture on a laptop camera, but Princess Wonder and Miss Intrepid were thrilled to receive email from Sprocket.

One of the first songs sung at today's service was "Who Will Sing for Me".  The chorus is - I wonder who (I wonder who) - Will sing for me (will sing for me) - When I come to cross by the silent sea - Tell me who will sing for me.  The second verse is - When friends have gathered 'round - And look down on me - Will they turn and walk away - Or will they sing one song for me.

Dear, dear were loved more than my words can possibly express by so many and we will continue to sing for you.

"Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.
Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing.  Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy.  The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.
And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return."

~Wendell Berry

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"I sure hope school doesn't get cancelled because of the rain!"

The quote in this post's title is from E2B.  No, my boy - despite the heavy downpour (and the teachers losing a few days of preparation last week courtesy of power outages after Hurricane Irene), the first day of school will NOT be cancelled.  We awoke this morning to significant rainfall, but not even that could diminish the excitement of the first day of school for these big kids of mine.

I posted here last week about our back to school rituals and asked for some help in coming up with a fun treat to share at the bus stop in the morning on this first day.  You all shared a lot of great ideas both here and on my personal Facebook page and I ended up giving these "chalkboard cupcakes" a try.  Instead of a traditional cupcake, I made applesauce muffins with cream cheese frosting so I could pretend that they were not completely unhealthy.  Unfortunately, the rain was absolutely pouring down come bus stop time and it wasn't feasible for kids who were coming out at the last minute (to avoid being soaked) and juggling umbrellas to also eat a muffin.  Luckily, I had plenty of cookie "chalkboards" that weren't needed for muffins, so I just passed those out instead.  After dropping a few off at school for the kids' teachers and the wonderful administrative staff in the front office, I put them back in the fridge to save for our after school ice cream social.

I started out trying to write things like math problems and names, but when it took me obnoxiously long to do so - and my hand starting cramping - I decided that one letter of the alphabet per cookie was just fine. 
As I've mentioned before, virtually all of my children's clothes have been purchased secondhand.  Whether from thrift stores, yard sales, consignment shops, or hand-me-downs, I have done very little retail shopping for their clothing. For pennies on the dollar I am able to buy high quality items that are in great shape and - as an added benefit - I find it hard to get too worked up about clothes getting ripped, stained, or otherwise roughly worn during the fun - and messy! - days that grace this period of childhood. The one regular exception that I make to this avoidance of retail is for the first day of school.  Because I purchase ahead by a size or two when I thrift, I usually have a full wardrobe ready to go for each child at the start of each new season.  As a result, I don't need to buy a bunch of new clothes at the start of school (or any other time of year).  But for the first day of school, as part of our back to school rituals, IronMan and I take the kids out to pick out one new outfit.

Check out this dynamic duo!

Dark and rainy?  No problem!

Of course, despite the hiccups in my plans for the first day back to school, a rainy day has certain undeniable puddle jumping.

After school the kids eagerly descended upon our annual ice cream social after getting off the bus.  Of course, this event works best when held outside in warm, sunny weather.  But the kids don't seem to mind hanging out inside our garage on a cool, wet day as long as ice cream is involved.  I'm happy to say that they seemed to enjoy the muffins, too.

May you have a joyful day...happy Tuesday, friends!

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."  ~Benjamin Franklin

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Moment - the summer grasshopper

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.  A single photo capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you feel so inspired, please share your moment here, too!

"Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean - 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes,
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away."

~excerpt from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Thursday, September 1, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - #34 Setting boundaries and limits

As I alluded to last month, I've been working on decluttering and organizing an area of my home that has presented a real problem for me.  It is a space that has basically never been picked up and organized in the 8 1/2 years of living in this house.  It is the space into which I have habitually dumped all the stuff I didn't have a specific place for.  It is the space that I would dump my favorite clutter companion - bags full of crap random things (many of these from frantic clean ups before someone came over the house or when I would get 95% of the way through organizing something and then give up, dumping the last 5% of randomness into a bag).  It is what I called my "hoarder" room.  While we certainly have never found anything as horrifying as a dead animal in there - something that is not uncommon on the hoarding TV shows - I have to admit to the fact that IronMan once found a burrito in one of my bags (shame!).

The space in question is the finished attic area of my home.  It is large and, honestly, it was poorly finished by the previous owners.  With its low sloping ceilings we are somewhat limited by the furniture that we can place up there.  An out-of-the-way space in the house that didn't have a clear purpose - along with my propensity to accumulate and not manage clutter - provide the perfect storm for completely trashing the room (and, not surprisingly when one person is responsible for making an area unusable and the other is very neat, it also serves as a source of domestic disharmony).

Without further ado - and more than a little embarrassment - here are a handful of before photos.  Some of these pictures were taken earlier this summer and some were taken last September.

Stuff sitting the base of the stairs - sometimes for months - waiting to be taken up and dumped with everything else...the stairs had stuff trailing up them as well.

Inside the small attached room that was unfinished when we moved in, but plumbed for a bathroom.  About seven years ago we put up drywall, added carpet, and I had big plans for this to be my scrapbook/crafting room.

Laura over at Org Junkie talks about setting boundaries and limits in this week's post for her 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge.  Specifically she says - "So often people don't pay attention to the space they really have available.  They figure if their space is full, then they must just need more space.  And yes, sometimes this is true.  However, more often than not, what we should be thinking (and what would be painfully clear if we had established limits and boundaries), is that we just need less stuff."  What is painfully clear to me - and to all of you seeing these photos - is that I have not set appropriate boundaries and limits and that I need a whole lot less stuff.

As you might guess - and anyone who has ever had to share living space with me can attest to - I have struggled with clutter for my entire life.  From my bedroom growing up, to my dorm room at college, to each room I called my own in the days of apartment living (I'll dig up some old photos to share with you sometime) - my personal space has always been beyond messy.  It has been an exhausting way to live and it has been very difficult to overcome.  With the energy that I have focused on this issue lately, am I all the way there yet?  Probably not. Am I closer to overcoming my clutter issues and regaining control of my home than I've ever been?  Absolutely.  There have been some exciting and hard earned changes around my house during the last few months that I am happy to be able to share here.  I'm particularly excited to share the steps that I've taken and what has inspired me to achieve success on this journey.  That is all for another post - or series of posts - though.  For today, I will simply leave you with some "after" pictures of the hitherto ignored space that you can now find IronMan, all three kids, and me spending time in on a daily basis.

I'm linking up to this week's post for the 52 Week's of Organizing Challenge. Come on over and find some inspiration for dealing with those little, and not-so-little, home management issues that may be hanging over your head.  In the meantime...happy Thursday, friends!

"You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow.  Intention without action is useless."  ~Caroline Myss

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ritual Roundup - Start of the School Year

As I have shared in this space before, one of the tasks that I take very seriously - and most enjoy - as a parent is creating and maintaining rituals to celebrate the little and big moments of everyday life with my family.  One of those days that is naturally full of excitement and that I try to make just a little bit more special is the first day of school.  This is an event that is just full of possibility when it comes to creating rituals.  Although school has started in many places already, in our area kids don't go back until Tuesday.  With the first day of school just around the corner, back to school rituals are front and center on my mind.

Before we even get to the first day of school, one annual ritual that we have engaged in ever since the big kids' preschool days coincides with our school supply shopping.  As much as ordering pre-assembled school supply packages from school or shopping at night on my own are attractive options from the perspective of getting it done quickly and easily, each summer this task is purely a family affair.  In addition to the kids choosing their own school supplies, each child also sponsors a local student through our YMCA branch who might not otherwise be able to start their school year with all of the supplies that they need. The kids really enjoy shopping for another child ("Oh Mom, I think that 'K' would LOVE this backpack!") and it is a great service opportunity that is easy for the children to participate in and, unlike donating money, they can really understand their contribution.

E2B, Miss Intrepid, and Princess Wonder preparing to turn in their donated backpacks and supplies for M, J, and K.

Another ritual that we engage in is to make a special first-day-of-school treat for all of the children and their siblings at the bus stop (last year there were 30 students plus a number of younger siblings not yet in school).  Two years ago when E2B started kindergarten I made fruit kabobs.  Last year I made the pretzel "pencils" pictured below.  I was also reminded how quickly people, children in particular, can attach to rituals like these when a neighbor confided that her daughter said she wasn't planning to eat breakfast that morning.  Her little one - also entering the first grade like E2B - said she just knew that I would have made a morning treat despite the fact that I hadn't told her I planned to do so and had only made something one year before.  Sometimes we inadvertently start rituals and traditions not realizing that this is what they are destined to become (though that was my plan here).

These were a great "make ahead" treat and froze well.

For this year I have been considering Oreo cheesecake truffles, though I worry about sugaring the kids up too much on their way to school.  Or maybe I'll try some variation of these treat bags.  I'm open to other ideas if anyone has them to share.

Last, but certainly not least from the children's perspective, is that we parents have an ice cream social set up for the kids once they get off the bus that afternoon.  It is a nice little treat and the kids seem to enjoy the party atmosphere as they unwind - and share their excitement about - their first day back to school. In fact, this ice cream social is what inspired our bigger last day of school celebration.

So I ask you, what start of the school year rituals do you remember and cherish from your own childhood?  If you have kids now, is there anything special that you do to prepare for or celebrate the start of a new school year?

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."  ~Clay P. Bedford

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I cheated and showed a movie at book club

As I make a deliberate effort to simplify my life so that I can make space - both literal and figurative - for the things that are most important to me, I know without hesitation that one activity will never make it to the chopping book club.  As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love to read.  Not long after IronMan and I got married twelve years ago, I asked a couple of coworkers if they would be interested in starting a book club.  As luck would have it, one of them had been asked to join a new group that was to meet the next month for the very first time and she invited me along.  We met that first time at a big box book store to discuss Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.  We have met every month since then for 11 years.  While only a few of us have been in the group for that entire time, we have a good mix of long-timers and newcomers.  We range in age from our mid-20s to 40-somethings.  Some of us are single professionals and others are married stay-at-home mothers (with a variety of other situations in between). In our years of reading and meeting together there have been marriages, divorces, babies, new jobs, and lives full of twists and turns.  This community of women is one that I deeply treasure.

As our book club has matured (like fine wine, that is!), we have settled into a format that seems to work for us.  Each month a different member volunteers to host at their house and whomever is that month's hostess chooses the book.  We have read a tremendously eclectic selection of books over the years.  The last time that I hosted was in January of this year and I chose The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  This is one of my all time favorite books.  Bradley tells the story of the legend of King Arthur and Camelot from the perspective of the women central to the story (in Bradley's retelling it is not surprising to find that "minor" female figures played critical roles from behind the scenes).  This book is quite long and that is part of why I chose to host in January - we don't read a book for our December get together (it is purely social), so I announced this selection in November to give folks two months to read.  But I digress...I tend to do that when talking about books.

When I volunteered to host this month's book club, I decided to select Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I read it many years ago and was just recently reintroduced to it by a dear friend - and fellow book club member - who discovered a passion for the book after seeing Cary Fukunaga's film adaptation in the earlier this year. Luckily for me, because I missed it in the theater, it was released on DVD earlier this month.  I decided to change things up a little bit - summer seems a good time to do so - by incorporating a movie viewing into our evening.  I channeled a bit of my Harry Potter movie viewing geekiness into this get together as well by breaking out some English bone china tea cups and serving nettle tea (a delicious tea I learned about from a British nutritionist), scones, English and Irish cheeses, and an Americanized version of cucumber sandwiches.

English bone china tea cups and saucers collected by my grandmother and great-grandmother 
Two of the four British cheeses served
Wine from my favorite Virginia winery was a must, even if I am completely unable to use the fancy bottle opener (IronMan rolls his eyes in amused exasperation every time I make a mess of it...I've had the better part of a decade to figure this out and I'm just about to give up on it).
Scones...yum!  I "cheated" on these, too, and bought them at Panera instead of baking some.
My two favorite film adaptations of the book - we watched the one on the right (the BBC version on the left is 4 hours long...just a bit much for a week night, don't you think?)
It was wonderful to spend an evening in fellowship with the incredible women who make up my book club and to have the chance to discuss such a strong female character as Jane.  If you haven't read it lately - or at all - I encourage you to make a trip to your local library and pick up a copy today.

Happy Tuesday and - always - happy reading, friends!

"I see genuine contentment in your gait and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping me and pleasing me - work for me, and with me, in, as you characteristically say, 'all that is right:' for if I bid you do what you thought wrong, there would be no light-footed running, no neat-handed alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion.  My friend would then turn to me, quite and pale, and would say, 'No, sire; that is impossible: I cannot do it, because it is wrong;' and would become immutable as a fixed star.  Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once."  ~Edward Rochester to Jane Eyre

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thrift Share Monday and vintage linens giveaway

I haven't done much thrifting recently in large part because I've been furiously purging my house of "stuff" (in particular I've been focusing on my problem area, a project that I'll share in this space soon) and haven't made the time to hit up yard sales or stop in any of the local thrifts.  That's not to say that I haven't done any thrifting at all, but it does help explain why it has been more than a month since I've published a Thrift Share post.  It has also been more than two months since I've held a Thrift Share giveaway, but that has less to do with my sporadic thrifting than the fact that I was determined not to host another giveaway until I got all of my previous giveaway goodies out in the mail.  This took me an embarrassingly long time.  Happily, I've finally taken care of that last lingering package and I'm back to share some thrifting love.

I've picked a few recently thrifted items - and one not-so-recently thrifted item - to share with you today.  The first is this sweet little Pyrex cinderella bowl in the black and white gooseberry pattern.  While it would have been ideal in pink and white (to match the only other piece of Pyrex gooseberry I own), I was excited to find this one.  It is 2 1/2 quarts and ever since purging these bowls I have been without a cinderella bowl this size.

A friend of mine is getting ready to start her first year in the classroom after a career in business and then being at home full-time with her girls.  She will be teaching the fifth grade and asked amongst friends if anyone had chapter books on a third to seventh grade level that she might include in her classroom reading nook.  Some of the books you see here were from my (almost entirely thrifted) book stash and others were purchased specifically for this purpose at one of the local Goodwill stores.  And in case you were wondering - yes, this photo is taken in a bathroom.  I transformed an unused bathtub into a book nook for my kids (another project I'll share here sometime soon).

Finally, this item is a proverbial blast from the past.  I bought this Smurf nightlight as a birthday gift for Princess Wonder several years ago, long before the resurgence in interest in all things Smurf courtesy of the movie released this summer.  I bought it not so much because of the Smurfs - in fact, I still would have bought it without the Smurf figurines - but because its inherent sense of whimsy just felt right for my little dreamer.  It is marked underneath with "By Josh & Shirley '82" - thanks, Josh and Shirley!

And now, onto this week's giveaway.  I even promise that it won't take me two months to mail it out to the winner.  As part of my recent house purging, I've let go of A LOT of crafting items.  As I've shared in the past, I am challenged by aspirational clutter (you know, that cool stuff that you're going to use someday). Well, these vintage linens fall squarely into that category.  One of my goals is to re-learn how to sew with my sewing machine - something I haven't done since I was in middle school home economics.  I am inspired by so many cool projects I find in books and on the blogosphere and I picked up these vintage sheets and towel to use in some unknown and undefined sewing project.  Now I am passing these along to someone else who might actually use them in some way.  If you are interested in these, please just leave a comment between now and midnight EST on Friday.

I am linking up to Selena's Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl.

Happy Monday, friends!

"Clutter-clearing is modern-day alchemy."  ~Denise Linn

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekending, part 2 - after the storm

After the wild and sometimes frightening excitement of Hurricane Irene last night, we gratefully awoke to blue skies and the sun this morning.  IronMan got started first thing on cutting up the limbs that had fallen from the tree in our front yard.  I was not at all surprised that it was damaged in the storm because two large limbs have fallen within the last few months - both on sunny days with no wind. Bradford pears are not known for their hardiness and we had already been thinking about having it taken down because all indications were that this was not a safe tree to climb or rest beneath (both things my children enjoy doing).

While I have always thought of this as E2B's climbing tree, the girls certainly enjoyed climbing around its branches this morning.  Unfortunately, E2B was sick through the night and most of today, so he wasn't able to join us as we said goodbye to this fine tree.  Watching Princess Wonder and Miss Intrepid wring the last drops that they were able of loving play and enjoyment out of it made me think of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  This tree was well loved and I would like to think that the tree was happy to have the children climb amongst her branches one last time.

Princess Wonder found and rescued this lizard from the fallen branches of the tree during this morning's clean up.

Very soon after IronMan headed out the door this morning, he was joined by neighbors - and then more, and then yet more - who helped finish off the work of cutting branches and removing them from the yard.  After finishing on our tree, this wonderful crew moved two houses down to do the same for friends whose entire tree came down.  But that's not all!  Two more neighbors had at least partial tree damage somewhere in their yard and by the time lunch rolled around they had it all done.  Of course, there were a lot of little helpers...some more helpful than others - depending upon their ages and stamina - but their presence and what assistance they could offer was appreciated as well.  Following this communal tree removal event (I prefer to think of it as a suburban barn raising), we took time to enjoy pizza from a local restaurant, ice cream, and the fellowship that happily resides where there is shared work towards a common goal.

But removing fallen trees wasn't all that we did today.  Princess Wonder also had the chance to participate in a flash mob of Scottish Highland dancing at the local mall. Between out-of-town travel and my desire to simplify our schedules over the summer, I didn't sign her up for dance lessons during the summer session.  I think that this absence contributed to a bit of stage fright on her part, but just before the performance ended she got out there and did her thing.  It was great fun!

On the way back home we stopped by a store where pet adoptions were taking place because we had some dog toys and medical gear to donate.  Miss Intrepid, Princess Wonder, and I enjoyed walking several of the dogs while we were there to give them a bit of exercise and play time.

All in all, it was a very full weekend indeed.  I hope that your weekend was likewise filled with sun and fellowship.  Happy Sunday, friends!

"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease."  ~John Muir

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekending hurricane-style

First an earthquake a mere 30 miles away and now Hurricane has been an eventful week around here with Mother Nature reminding us of her awesome power.  It has been rainy and blustery since this morning and we are preparing for the strongest part of the storm to pass through this evening.

As the storm rages outside...

Although I am not a fan of Bradford pear trees, I am sorry to see this one in our front yard torn asunder.  E2B has spent many hours climbing amongst its branches.

...I find that it looks as though one has blown through inside.

I am reorganizing my dining room while spending time out of the house is not a safe option.

We are staying safe and dry while enjoying an unscheduled day around the house.  Clean up outside will be demanding our time soon enough.  In the meantime, I wish you a day of calm and quiet with the ones you love.  Stay safe and have a happy Saturday, friends!

10:50pm update: This is a slow moving hurricane and at least one recent news update reports that 75% of homes in central Virginia are currently without power. We've had at least one gust above 70 mph in this area, a handful of deaths throughout the state, and the storm marches on.  We, very luckily, still have power and everyone in my family - with the obvious exception of myself - is safely ensconced in bed and asleep.  I'm hoping that the worst has passed and that Irene weakens quickly as she continues to move up the eastern seaboard.

"Spooky wild and gusty; swirling dervishes of rattling leaves race by, fleeing the windflung deadwood that cracks and thumps behind."  ~Dave Beard