Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Reunions

The past week has been total immersion in an ongoing reunion with family and friends. Our days were filled with the best of summer--multiple family dinners (our dishwasher never remained unfilled), a beautiful new grandniece, a day trip dedicated to exploring family history, afternoons of water fun in a magical stream, an evening at a baseball game, and a weekend of reconnecting with high school memories and friends.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Tomorrow, the relatives are coming!

One summer library trip, Alexander and I checked out this charming book, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. We had just recovered from our annual Campbell beach week, so her stories and illustrations of people everywhere had us laughing and making connections on just about every page. I've thought a lot about that book this week as we geared up for the car and the plane arriving tomorrow bearing our houseguests--our family...our relatives.

The house is clean, ordered, and prepared. The windows are washed, clean both on the inside and the outside, a feat rarely occurring at the same time. The dirtiest carpets were steam cleaned spot free, fresh sheets cover all beds and clean towels hang on all towel racks. The yard is trimmed, raked, mowed and truly, summer lovely

Our downstairs refrigerator is filled with fruits of the season--a watermelon, a cantaloupe, and boxes of both blueberries and peaches. There are two kinds of cookies in the freezer (you've got to try these peanut butter cookies!) along with frozen peach puree for baby Lydia. A pound cake sits on the counter with a canister of homemade granola right beside it.

But the totally whimsical and spontaneously fun thing I did in preparation was to make popsicles! I was inspired a week or so ago when I read this post on one of my favorite food blogs--Orangette. The very cool pop molds (we've come a long way from Dixie cups and tongue depressors) just arrived yesterday, and almost immediately, I began trying out some recipes. With frozen raspberries in our freezer, I made the "Raspberry Popsicles" featured on Orangette. Today, I found another great recipe for strawberry orange pops, and pulled out some just-June frozen strawberries to blend those up. I even found a recipe for "Rocky Road Pops" (which sound a bit like a fancy fudgsicle); I will probably try those out next week, when Alexander's Mama is away on retreat.

Here is the Strawberry Orange Popsicle recipe:

1 quart orange juice
2 cups strawberries fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons sugar *
1 cup vanilla yogurt

*(omit if using sweetened strawberries)

Blend till smooth or not-so-smooth, depending on preference. Pour into molds and freeze.

Made 12 - 2.5 oz. popsicles.

Pretty easy and very good!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


During the summer of 1967, I worked for Head Start. I, like many of my generation, took to heart John F. Kennedy's charge to do something for my country, and so I tried to. My summer that summer provided me, a rather naive 14 year old young woman of middle-class, small-town ease and security, quite an eyeopening experience. One of my most vivid memories of my time working with these preschoolers is lunch time, when I would pass out trays of food and eat with my charges. I remember being asked time and time again to identify the food presented. It seemed unfathomable to me that any child should have never before seen nor eaten a piece of cheese or an apple...

The summer of 1967 also began The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in my hometown. This festival, now drawing an estimated 125,000 people, began as a way to showcase local art, hung from storm fences set up all along College Avenue, the main street of our university town. The festival served as a gathering event for us high school students, who connected by talking to each other from kitchen telephones outfitted with long cords, which in my case allowed me to slip into a hall closet for more privacy. I cherish a vintage print from that early festival era bought and framed as a Christmas gift for my mother. It hangs in our pantry.

I still walk through the festival, and I still purchase art for gifts. Among those gifts this year were two sets of salad spoons for upcoming wedding showers. I always stop and buy something from Jonathan's Spoons, and I am especially drawn to the flame blackened implements. To go with the spoons and to serve as gift wrap, I knitted up some traditional ball band dishcloths, matched them a set of tea towels and tied them up with satin ribbon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ribbed alpaca heat wave

The temperature is to hit 94 degrees today, the third 90+ day in a Northeast heat wave. It is hardly conceivable that someday it will be cold enough to wrap alpaca wool around my neck, but when that day arrives, I am ready. This scarf, an Ann Budd design found here (along with other neat free pdf patterns), has sat on a pair of number 9 needles for over a year. It feels good to cast it off, block it, and pack it away for a far-in-the-future, cold, Pennsylvania winter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Summer Vacation Prayer

We have returned from our annual Campbell family beach week, and my “other” summer vacation begins…now. As a teacher, I leave my classroom in June, exultant in the expanse of time appearing before me. Interestingly, the word “vacation” comes from an Old French word vacare meaning “be unoccupied.” However for me, summer vacation means to be occupied with other things, pursuits often neglected from September through June….

Oh Lord…
let this summer be a time of
calming, a time to slow down and breathe
clearing of clutter and cobwebs
connecting more deeply with family and friends
restoring inner balance
ordering home and
caring for life
directing energies in other ways
filling up the spiritual and emotional well
knitting, reading, cooking, exercising, and praying more

And may I be less urgent about it all, relishing the pleasure of living fully in each present day. Amen.