Thursday, August 17, 2017

Celebrating Back to School

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Today, as I look out across the street at  our neighborhood school, I see  the cars parked, as teachers  have returned for the new term. And even though it has been 14 years  since I last  entered  my  empty classroom with  dreams and visions of  how  to make   that new year the best ever.... I still  have that sense of  solidarity with  teachers.. their hopes and   the things  they  probably dread about each new  start adrenalin still  starts pumping  as  I would  one by one  get about  a dozen  balls into the air and try to keep them  all going...  the class arrangement, the computerized math lab, and the reading lab, reading groups,  bulletin boards, books assigned, lesson plans,    progress charts,  new  class notebooks for creative writing, and student documentation folders. and praise the Lord there are  some things  I cant remember..that is a good thing  because  a lot of these things  I'd love to forget..  for it  was  the students that every teacher  really  wanted to  assess...  those  giftings, and the struggles  and how to  set about  reaching  each young mind to challenge it and  help mold  it  for  desiring  learning and  to be  self sufficient in their own  ability to reason and think for themselves.  
My favorite subject to teach  was history....  I love our history....  the true  history with its  greatness in the founding of  our nation and its struggles  in its darkest moments.  I taught fourth  grade... Virginia history... and I loved to teach  through story-telling and hands-on  projects..  So many wonderful themes  about  Jamestown, Williamsburg,  the Revolutionary War, etc.  and then toward the end of the year  we  taught the Civil War...and I pray   that my students,  who  many are in their 40's  now, remember how strongly  we    taught of the  horrors of slavery...  of being kidnapped,  the  ravages of  the  long arduous voyage,  stacked in rows of  crates in the bottom of  those vessels  left to  lie in their own body fluids  for  days  and once a week  brought up on deck and  hosed down with sea's salt water. ... treated worse than animals..  and then  worst of all being separated from families  on the auction block..and then slavery began..  not a pretty picture...    but then  I taught them about  Robert E. Lee...a top graduate of the US Military Academy, a decorated  US General    who fought valiantly  in the Mexican American War..whose father  Lighthorse Henry Lee signed the Declaration of Independence,,  whose  home was in Arlington Virginia..  his beloved  state. He was  heart broken over the  secession of the south and Virginia's part in it, and it  was   Lee who was offered to lead the  Union forces,  but couldnt in good conscious  fight against his  home, Virginia. Lee was  born  to the upper class,  like many of the founding fathers of that time lived  in a  beautiful mansion,  was taught  in the best schools and had  by  great tudors and was a gentile  gentleman...    he was a man of his time...  was    sympathetic to  slaves yet  was a slave holder  as  had his family  for generations. He  was a man of great dignity,  who  may not have led  his  troops to victory , but to fair the  deck was  from the beginning stacked against him... The south being agricultural, the north,  industrial.... but  he was first and foremost fair and  never  vindictive which cannot be said of many of his northern counterparts.  The Civil War was an ugly business at best..  Brother fighting against brother, cousin against cousin,  some times father against son...
Not only  a war about the ills of slavery,  but  just as much a battle over state's rights. If we are not very careful,  the US could find itself  facing  another such  war  and  I  tremble at the thought. This is why the desecration of historical monuments and  figures  is so   wrong...  The rewriting of history and now the  lack of even teaching  students of their history is downright  maddening to me...  or else the  trap of  making the very same mistakes of the past will be inevitable. I would urge parents and grand parents to find  good  writers of books who   are not skewing the truth  but correct documentation of the past  to share with  your children...many books do exist..  but  young adults need  teaching on the truth of our history  so they can instill in  their own minds openness and wonder and not be swayed by the lies that are so prevalent in our society.
Wow,  have I ever  deviated from  where I  as  planning to go...  but I do  hope  that was timely and  it was things  Ive been wanting to say...  but Im  actually here to  pay homage to  back to school..Many  schools across the country will host at least one classroom    celebrating the apple,  because if it back to school..  it is  fun to celebrate  Johnny Appleseed.. 
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Steven Kellogg, one of my favorite children's author,  wrote  a  delightful book  that I  read to my classes..
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So,  if it is back to school,  I love to pull out  my Fransican apple dishes..  a  large  bouquet of  wild flowers  and  some bright red gingham and I'm all set to  get in  a  happy to go lucky mood..
It also  makes me feel  great to  be getting in  a quasi  autumn attitude  because late August  around here is so  miserably hot  that dreams of  September  days  seem like  heavenly delights longed for!

or other  years I  change it up a bit...

One  tiny shared  tidbit..  I love my  creamy white teapot I fund at a consignment store a couple of years ago.. I'm so glad it caught my eye and I bought it for a song..  because it goes with everything  but also because when I got it home I discovered it was  made in England by Wedgewood..One of most  special  finds!!
It just gives  me the merriest feeling,  especially, now  that I am retired.. I can  enjoy the  frivolity of  the upcoming apple season,  but  my  body can revel  that I am doing it  here  at my home sweet home!!!
Oops, let me go hang out my  back to school flag...
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Hopes and Dreams Upstairs Fulfilled

I can finally begin to give a sigh of relief... it has been a long time in coming...   we bought this house in 1988  and  it was always a diamond in the rough...  but we were  working...  teaching.. designing bridges.... and  time was against us... we were raising our one and only daughter and she was our  we  just passed from day to day thinking... 'someday'  we will  have  it just the way we  want it...then my retirement came  and my parents became our  all in all focus..for over 10 years  but  I treasure that time as  wearisome as it  was.. then Lynn's retirement  just in time to  help in the final stages  and  my major surgery... life  and death  was always  first in our  time and purpose... let's put it this way...  our downstairs   was always  a welcoming  home,  but  the upstairs was  only for the closest family overnight guests  and that with lots of  apologies for the lack of updating and  well, just apologies..the odd  papered wall...  the  dark green... anything to    distract from the hideous  brown indoor outdoor carpet that  had  lain on that  lovely  hardwood floor for over 45 years.  Carpet with its rubber backing  glued   down and  so very  hard to remove... we did remove  our daughters  because of her allergies,, and we learned then just how  time consuming and hard it was to  take up..  but the floors beneath were  so gorgeous..  why????? 

We just covered the floor as we could with area rugs and  tried not to look down.

The guest room we  did up in cottage    attire  and  rugs,  but  I grimaced every time  anyone came to stay.

Finally,  last winter Hubs decided he couldn't stand his office 
( our tiny  fourth bedroom  set in the front eaves)another minute and so he started  moving everything out into other rooms  .. that in itself took   almost a week..  sorting through odd paperwork and  then the task of removing 60 year old wallpaper  ( yes, really)  and  patching the walls  underneath around the chimney...and then taking up that  nasty carpet...  finally in  late March    the room was  ready .
Hubs was on a roll...  next he  started on  the hall...thankfully,  the mastic came up after applying heat from a heat gun...  but it was  tedious back breaking work...  But Hubs loved  seeing the results of his labor!.

In June  we   moved  the furniture out of   the guest room  to make  way  for  redoing the floors there..
 And last Friday our  Shutters were installed in there  to match the ones we  installed in our room last fall... There also is a lovely new   carpet  we got  for the  guestroom.
I  was  pleased as punch to get this room  finished..
Our daughter will be  here  soon to enjoy  her daddy's labor of love! 
And the shutters will  keep that early morning sun at bay!!! 
Note:  That old print on the side wall   is a copy of the one tht hung over my grandma's bed..  I loved  sitting my  the bed when grandpa  was so ill  and  just mesmerized by that  picture.. I searched high and low  for a copy of it and finally found it  hanging on a wall in an antiques shop up the Shenandoah Valley!) The oil painting over the bed was found when Amanda was  about 7 ...we had so enjoyed reading the  Trumpet of the Swan to her  at bedtime... and this  gorgeous painting of the two  swans  will always commemorate the joy was  had  raising our  beautiful daugther!
I think she will love stepping out on  her new carpets. 
And last but not least  the master...last fall  we  set about phase one...painting

 choosing a bit of new decor
We had the large art piece above the bed re matted ..  I had inherited the piece from my mom... always loved  that  scene of the Shepherdess!
 and then the shutter man arrived...

The room seemed so much larger 
but there  was that hideous carpet..
 So in July,  the carpet  was removed here   while I went shopping for new rugs...
This was it..  Anastasia, in Robin's Egg Blue.. now I was  really anxious to get that carpet out of there...
We've really endured a lot of upheaval over the last few months... 
that bed  and mattress  where not coming out of there..  that mattress is like a walrus...  no way...  but thank goodness,  we were able to move  things around!!!  You know,  after  the  mastic was  removed  then  was the job of cleaning the floors and allowing  them to dry,  then  applying a  bit of stain.. these floors are 90 years old...  and then a couple of  good waxing and buffing..    now they are  gorgeous!!

I am  so careful of not  loading the room back with all the "stuff" that we had accumulated... 
 not the prettiest  trash can  but  Hubs  likes it.. what can I do??
You will note the hideous hallway doors...
My Hubby is the very best!!!!
but , alas, for me the end isn't in sight yet...
so much stuff    that has no home...  found it's way in granddaughter's room... 
oh, me!  I must keep my sweet wee ones ever before me as my inspiration!!!  They'll be here  in  just a couple of weeks!!  I won't share  what the closets look like.... literally  no more room....   " Hubs,  bring up the  trash bags for  another trip to  Salvation Army!!"
Postscript...  Dearest Hubby  has worked so hard  so  he treated himself  on  the several trips we made to Eden, NC looking  for rugs...not only the four  upstairs..but these, as well..  all of them the Anastasia pattern in various tones..
the den

and this one from the  downstairs hall into the parlor...does make it  cozier, though!!!  AW...  all done... well,,  except for  that one nightmare awaiting me upstairs... yikes...My aim is too share  its  renovation next week!!! 
God bless!

My Celebratory Early Morning Tea

I am so happy I saw this  lovely party  planned for today  on Monday..  I had just enough time to  compose  my own little early Morning  Celebration of Mid August!
The birds were  active this morning so I  must share this playlist with you..  I love Dan Gibson...  Hope you do ,too!

I have borrowed a verse.. I hope they dont mind... it is  apropo  for  this  time of life.. Click the title for the source.

I remember how you would always

Wake up early in the morning

To the sounds of birds chirping
As though it were the only thing 
That could calm your unsettling heart

One day, over coffee (tea)
You told me about the birds
And how you thought the whole idea was silly
I only nodded because I never had
A keen ear for the peaceful things in life

The conversation never came to my mind
Until that morning you left the world
I finally understood what you meant
When, for some odd reason I arose
And heard the sounds of birds chirping for the very first time
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The chirping was a song of hope
A promise of sunshine after the rain
A reason not to give up
Determined to keep your head high
When the world is crashing down before your eyes

If you were still here, you would probably call yourself a failure
Since you never climbed that smooth, disgustingly perfect wall
That left you trapped in your turmoil
But you're not a failure, you made it
Your soul grew wings, and like a bird, you flew away from 
All the problems that weighed down your heart..

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We finally received a  wonderful rain in the night and awakened to  a damp and  very humid   morning,  so  I necessarily    entertained my tea indoors..

Today was an Earl Grey day if ever there was one...there is something about Earl Grey that has always  been  special to me..
Maybe it is because  through research I find that Earl Grey is not only good for the teeth, it is a benefit to digestion. Some other benefits are that  I especially like is that it fights anxiety and also give energy,  prevents cancer, and helps with weight loss..  Now I know I need to drink  Earl Grey every day!!!

I set the table for the two of us,  but  alas, I supped alone as  dear Hubs is painting  the  woodwork upstairs and I wouldn't bother him for the world.  He will  love his Elevenses  a bit later.

I had so much joy putting my tea together lickety split...
Light Bisquick  make  short work of my lovely  Scones,  the British call a simple biscuit a scone...  so sounds good to me!!  In testament to  The British Baking Competition I did  top each biscuit with  a  lovely  stirred egg  to  enhance the  golden, shiny  appearance. It is a tea party, after all!

Thankfully, Hubs had not partaken of his  beautiful slice of country ham yesterday so I had just enough to share  around  on a few of my lovely scones....  for  some others, I made    a  fruit compote..  I'll tell you how I did it... You know those  less than  lovely strawberries at the bottom of the qt. basket from the market..  I washed and trimmed them and  along with a few  blueberries,  popped them into a  small bit of simple syrup  on the stove top and  stewed them  just barely long enough until the syrup was a lovely color.  When you  serve in the smallest  receptacle you have it  makes just enough for two.  That  scrumptions syrup  was more than tasty and I didnt even really need that  homemade  blackberry jam...   but it looked good on the t able..heheheh!

Yes, there is another small dish ...  now as I was  working  I kept wondering what can I do with  this one egg I used to wash over my scones...  couldn't let it go to waste...  so I created  a  lovely French concoction.
                                             Oeufs à la crème avec fromage
translated~  Cremed Eggs with Cheese Scramble!
Quite délicieux!!!

I just happened to have a couple of slices of Lemon Blueberry pound cake   to  finish off  our  soiree'

I  truly enjoyed    putting  our little  repast together  

So I was able to join in with Bernideen  on the National Tea Afternoon Party Day today, Wednesday 
 August 14, 2017.

Have a truly blessed day and week!!
Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?  Peter Pan
Hubs made short shrift of the leftovers....  now he is  fully ready to get back to his  paint can!!