24 April 2009


Somewhere along the way, I've forgotten my southern roots. I suppose that's somewhat understandable, considering that my upbringing occurred completely on Yankee soil. As a child, I remember fleeting references that hinted to a heritage beyond the New England states. For example, people would often take note of my mom's slight accent and ask where she was from. I never quite noticed it. Of course we made frequent pilgrimages to Virginia to see Aunt Becky and Grandmama, and they made even more trips to see us. And so I never forgot about where my mom came from; I guess it just never felt like my history. Grandmama died 16 years ago and thus ended our summer trips to her house where my brother and I would pick green beans and drive the tractor around the yard (crashing it every so often). I remember my mom letting me steer Granddaddy's 1973 Ford truck (surprising after the tractor incidents) as we drove the short distance on Route 689 from Grandmama's to US 460. Those are some sweet memories.

My dear Aunt Becky still lives in Virginia with her family, and as I hadn't been back in years and Andrew had never visited, we decided to go over Easter. We were treated to true southern hospitality and Becky's incredible memory. We spent the weekend laughing, listening and asking questions as we relived memories and created new ones. We had Easter lunch at the Peaks of Otter, a childhood haunt I hadn't revisited in years. The following day we hiked Sharp Top Mountain and were rewarded with beautiful views of Virginia countryside. And of course, we found a new friend in Pugsley (who couldn't love that face?).

On our last day, we drove over to where Grandmama had lived. I hadn't been there since she died. We commented on how the property seemed smaller than we remembered. The barn and garage were a little run down, and the trailer was gone, but the well cap was still there, which had always posed a challenging obstacle to our tractor cruising. We remembered where the grape vines and garden used to be and how the land sloped in the back. The garage and utility shed were open. I was hoping for the shed to smell as I remembered, but it didn't. It's been been a while I guess. Smells fade. But amidst the decay and relics of a life once lived, new life persists...

in dogwood blooms...

...and in a renewed connection to a history that is mine too.

[in the cement under the outdoor shelter]

[the barn my grandfather built]

[the garage/shed also built by Granddaddy]

08 April 2009

Sow what?

Well, I may not be able to sew, but we can try our hand at sowing. Last night Andrew transferred some carefully selected seeds into a seed starter "greenhouse" (basically a divided plastic tray with a cover). Some of these seedlings should start to sprout in as little as one week! Then they will be transferred into peat pots that can later be planted directly into the soil. I am becoming more and more convinced that there will be no room to sit on our porch this summer.

Here's what we got cooking:

Black from Tula Tomato

Sweet Pea Currant Tomato

Brown Berry Tomato

Beam's Yellow Pear Tomato

Greek Oregano

Purple de Milpa Tomatillo


Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato

Miniature Chocolate Bell Pepper


07 April 2009

Before | During | After

A spring cleaning of sorts.

05 April 2009

The Wild Wild West

Mountains... hiking... skiing... views... fresh air... sunshine... sunburns... Elsa... Triumph... Wahoo's... friends... family... wild times.

19 March 2009

Where Winter Meets Spring

My dear brother never fails to mention how fantastic the weather in Denver is (especially after a particularly long spell of dismal Chicago grayness) . And as much as it pains me to admit it sometimes, he's right. Tonight we head out to the land of mountains and sun, to embrace a Spring more mature than ours, and to steal a few more moments of Winter's most exhilarating activity (see below).

Elsa, get your booties on... here we come!

11 March 2009


We've slowly been adding to our repertoire of succulent plants over the past few years. Let's face it: they're pretty cool. Sometimes I have to resist taking a big, juicy bite out of their fat, water-storing leaves. If nothing else, they are great examples of adaptation (read here to learn more about their water-saving features). Here are our latest additions:

04 March 2009

Green at Heart

Since Andrew has started working for Topiarius, I've noticed a different rhythm to our home: one that is more in tune with and accepting of the seasons. Each season commands a respect, has something to offer and has something to prepare us for (if nothing else, the next season). A week or so ago, I found Andrew poring over a catalog of plants and seeds, after which he excitedly (and cautiously) rattled off his plans for our back porch this spring and summer. I could almost see the visions of Tom Thumb Pea plants dancing in his head. Not long after that, he brought a bag of hibernating tulip bulbs up from the basement. He took them out of the paper bag, dusted them off and then proceeded to store them in our crisper where they will remain until planting time. (Apparently, tulip bulbs need to be kept cold for a period of time before planting, but they would be too cold outside.) And if that were not enough, I also learned that bulbs cannot be stored with fruit. So, in went the bulbs and out went the fruit. And thus I was introduced to bulb care.

Despite the ever prevalent wintry temperatures of these past weeks, the energy
of spring is upon us, if no place else than in Andrew's hopeful plans. This week he has started taking Botany 1 at The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, so I'm sure it is only a matter of time before plant taxonomy and classifications are rolling off his tongue. While it is good to accept the present, there is a time to look ahead. And I've embraced Andrew's carefully laid plans to usher Spring our way. I've enjoyed discussions about what herbs we'll be growing and Andrew's intention to grow heirloom tomatoes from seed this year. I love to open the back door and envision a porch laden with green life. I like that our refrigerator's traditional role is being disrupted, and I'm grateful that every time I go to grab a piece of fruit, I'm reminded of the sacrifices that must be made for the sake of preparations. Spring is surely coming.

Tomorrow is Andrew's birthday, and as he prepares to celebrate a new year, in many ways, so do we all.