Saturday, February 27, 2010

First, an apology...then a celebration

After a long, exhausting day for both of us, my Dear Professor and I retired early.  So early, in fact, that we missed the stranded motorist who came calling for help.  I don't know when their car broke down in front of our field.  I only know that this morning at 7am, as my Dear Professor was leaving for a breakfast meeting, we found tracks in the knee deep snow, leading up to the front porch...


and this.


I approached the car to see if the driver was still there, but they were gone, leaving this note on the windshield for the state trooper.


And so, whomever you may be, we offer our profound apology, and hope you didn't have to go too far to find help.


Last weekend I drove down to North Carolina to celebrate Bee's 4th birthday and have some quality time with the Sprittles.  I was told by Beautiful Mommy that Bee took approximately 45 minutes to make up her mind on what theme the party would have.  She finally decided on a princess theme for the second year in a row.  While Beautiful Mommy and The Preacher were decorating and wrapping gifts, I kept the honoree and her attendants busy upstairs until the formal announcement that they could come down.

Can we come down yet?

Our Princess thoroughly enjoyed her bippity boppity boo birthday cake,


and the love and admiration of all present, including her big bro Boo.

brotherly love

Baby Blues enjoyed trying to get a hold of Mommo's camera.

P1640026 copy

After the festivities were over, we were treated to a fashion show.  Bee has a very sophisticated style as you can see in her choice of Land's End bathing suit, Dora the Explorer garden gloves, and Hawaiian flower sunglasses.


But my favorite part was directing her in a short film.

Grandchildren are the best!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spicking Picksburgese

Prior to moving to the Frozen North, I assumed all yankees spoke with the same sharp accent, except of course for New Englanders, who are a group unto themselves, ye-yah.

I was wrong.

We have had the good fortune to sample the unique peculiarities of speech that define central New York and western Pennsylvania.  Let me give you a simple example:

First person plural pronoun:  Texan = y'all, New Yorkan = youse guys,  Pennsylvanian  = y'uns.

The first New Yorkan "youse guys" I ever heard was from the tooth challenged lips of a subway motorman.  My first experience with the Pennsylvanian version was from a waitress in a restaurant.  It took me a little bit to understand what the waitress was talking about.  

Pennsylvania has both Texas and New York beat when it comes to renaming the days of the week:

1.  Stillerday -- any day the Picksburg Stillers are playing football.  This day is distinguished from the others by the wearing of special clothing with numbers and names of Hawaiian people on the back and the menacing waving of yellow and black bath towels.

2.  Walmartday -- also accompanied by ceremonial garb, usually involving sweatpants.

3.   Roadconstructionday -- can be up to 3 months long in the summer--and you thought Alaska had the longest days!

4.   Turkeyday (not to be confused with Turkey Day in November or Turkey season in the fall).



5.  Deerday


6.  Snowday -- which has seemed to come around in rapid succession this winter. Snowdays dictate a two hour delay to the start of school or, on rare occasions, actual school and business closings.


under the limit
(road in front of Iron Acres one recent snowday)

7.  Hoe-icicleday.  Hoe-icicleday is extremely important if you own a business and have minimal liability coverage.  Temperature fluctuations can create some incredibly long and jagged spears on roof edges, the stuff of Stephen King's dreams.


Down the road a little way from our neck of western Pennsylvania is the metropolis of Picksburg.  Picksburg has a vocabulary all its own.

For example:  I went donton (downtown) tuh (to) watch thuh (the) Stillers (Steelers) game.
or -- I wuz (was) expectin' (expecting) company so I went don cellur (down into the basement) to red up (make the basement ready) thuh (the) place.

I could go on, but I think you get the pitcher.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Family Portraits

Our move to the Frozen North had many happy consequences, one in particular being the necessity of photographically chronicling the lives of our children for the grandparents back in Texas. We have a slew (that's Texan for a big bunch) of family portraits over the years, from professional to, ahem, less professional.

My Dad taught me early in life the joys of using a timer with your camera. It provides such wonderful informal family shots. Plus, you eliminate the trauma and chaos involved with getting young children dressed up and driving halfway around the country to the portrait studio, where you wait for what seems like hours as you attempt to keep the children 1)humored, 2)unwrinkled, 3)busy, and 4)fed.

It's just so much easier to pop it on the kids as you fall out of the car in your church clothes on Sunday, "Hey, why don't we get some pictures before lunch"?

We did this only once, with the following result. I think it is my favorite family picture.


Considering I wasn't sure I was going to be in the frame, I think mine looked pretty good. My Dear Professor had other things on his mind, like eating lunch. Major lesson for this photographer: fuller stomachs = better attitudes, especially important for the men in the picture.


Principessa always takes good pictures, in this case I think she was daydreaming of the New Kids on the Block.


The Preacher, our firstborn, managed to shine even with a haircut given by his Mom.

But for the life of me, I will never understand what was going through The Dreamer's mind.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

It was then I knew he really loved me

He grew up in the hot south Texas sun. Jeans and books were all he ever wanted for Christmas. And a Willy Mays autographed baseball. Summers found him digging post holes in the hard caleche and stringing barbed wire. The air felt like the inside of an oven. His only relief was the shade of a pickup truck. It was in that shade that he had his epiphany one scorching Texas summer day, dust in his lungs and sweat trickling into his eyes.

He would get a college degree so he could earn a living with his mind instead of his hands.


His Daddy went along with the idea, taking the risk all Daddies do--that their sons will return home once the dream loses its glow. But the dream shone brighter in the lights and excitement of the big city. Daddy would have to be satisfied that he came back for holidays and family events. One man's dream burned up in the kindling of another's.

When I met him, he was practicing law as a trial attorney in Houston. His hands were smooth, and his mind was brilliant. I think I fell in love with his mind first. His closet was filled with suits, and one pair of jeans he used for jogging in the humid Houston weather.


We got married, which made both of our parents happy, and started our journey through life together. We bought a house, I went back to finish college, and we had 2 children, first a boy, and then a girl 22 months later. Three or four times a year we would drive back down to south Texas to visit his family. Seven years into our life together, he had another epiphany.

He would go back to college for a PhD so he could earn his living by teaching instead of pleading cases.

We moved north, crossing first the Red River, and then the Mason Dixon Line on our way to New York. Our luggage bore the extra weight of a newfangled home computer. The next summer we had our third child. Our "little yankee."


We acclimated ourselves to snow and cold, and I typed the endless drafts and edits of his dissertation. During those seven years I had an epiphany.

I would live in the country and have the horse of my dreams.

He graduated and we moved southwesterly into Pennsylvania, to a little farm not too far from town and the college where he would teach.

One sticky, hot June day in western Pennsylvania he donned his old jeans, a worn dress shirt, and a pair of work gloves to gather hay from our field. The next week he spent with some hired hands digging post holes and stringing wire to fence in the new horse.

first hay

He had laid down his post hole digger in Texas only to take it up again in Pennsylvania.

For me.

It was then I knew he really loved me.

"Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines through the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks, and the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you
I'll be in love with you" Dan Fogelberg, "Longer"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Passing on the love...

A few days short of a year ago I began my foray into blogging. I have not looked back (except to weed out some of my beginning posts that didn't age well!) In the early days I would check the stats daily to see if anyone was (tap!tap!) out there. But that's not really why I put fingers to keyboard. I do hope to share some encouragement and laughter with the world, but I also want to record memories for my family. (while I can still remember them!)

My dear friend and gifted blogger, Jezamama, has generously chosen Iron Acres for two awards (blush!)-- Superior Scribbler and Beautiful Blogger. With those awards go certain responsibilities. The fun part is sharing with you some of my favorite blogs.  (I would list Jez's blog in both categories, but someone else did it already.)

Superior Scribblers:
1. Must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
2. Must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
3. Must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
4. Must post these rules on his/her blog.
5. Must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.(the fun part!)

My five nominees for Superior Scribbler are:
A Picure a Day and Chronicles of a Country Girl--Kate has an eye for using textures, her photography is beautiful, and you will find yourself addicted to a daily dose of George!

Crepes of Wrath-- You'll visit for the name and stay for the recipes and gorgeous pictures.  Sydney is a young thing, just recently married.  She gives me hope for her generation.

Sprinkles--I met L last summer.  She hails from New York and has been chronicling her life in Texas online since 2004.  L has an incredible sense of humor and we share a love of old movies.  And she sort of likes Barry Manilow. (read, "is his numero uno fan!")

BlogU--Annie offers wisdom in navigating the treacherous waters of html.  She is generous with her knowledge, and able to explain the wizardry of widgets and templates in terms this newbie can understand.

A Holy Experience -- Ann Voskamp weaves the everyday experiences of a farmer's wife and homeschool mom in words of beauty and significance.  She has a profound gift for seeing eternity in the ordinary and sharing Truth.

Beautiful Blogger:
1.  Thank the person who nominated you for this award.  (Thank you, Jezamama!)
2. Copy the award and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself.

--My Dad was an amateur magician, and I helped out as his assistant a few times. (sans spandex and fishnet hose)
--I was an early member of a Christian drama group that performed at the Alley Theatre in Houston.
--I wrote, recorded, and performed songs as part of a Christian singing group in the 70s.
--I enjoy making soap, cheese, and bread.  From scratch.  With fresh goat milk!
--I can carry on a conversation using song titles alone.  It's a curse.
--During my "Russian" period I read every novel and short story written by Leo Tolstoy. I do love me some Leo Tolstoy.
--I play a mean guitar and wail on the drums in Rock Band 2.  Just ask Unca Dave, the ultimate gamer.  It's the only video game I can best him at, at least for now. (love ya, Unca Dave!)
5. Nominate 7 bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs nominated.

Meme'sCorner--Meme is an 80something "beginner" blogger with more awards than you can shake a stick at.  Her posts are a wonderful window into both today and yesterday.

The French Factrice --vintage postcards and blog buttons, oh my!

Faith Barista-- "because some days you need a double shot of faith!"

Lemon Verbena Lady --whether you pronounce it with or without the "h", this herb's for you.

My Square Foot Garden--fun and informative for gardening in small spaces.

Quiet Life--Donna writes about her family, her faith, and photography.  My three loves as well.

White Linen-- beautiful pictures and beautiful music. *sigh*

I hope I did ya proud, Jezamana!  And thank you again for your encouragement.  Hugs.

How We Spent Our Christmas Vacation (for Aunt Mellie)

In our family, you know you've arrived when you end up on Aunt Mellie's email list. She is one plugged-in, techno savvy, tree swinging, deep sea fishing, 80something lady. I wish we lived closer so we could visit more often.

Aunt Mellie expressed some interest in more Sprittle pictures from Christmas. I chronicled a little about our family fun here. But one can NEVER have too many Spritlepics!  (Proceed at your own risk.)

Our wee one, Baby Blues, celebrated his first birthday December 26th.

A second after that picture was taken, he was down on the floor threatening to demolish the Lego pirate ship of which his older brother, Boo, was so proud.  (That's his first mate, Bee, celebrating with him.  I think Dad was taking a nap after helping with the construction. The contents listed more pieces than there are dollar signs in the current US debt!)

Everyone participated in our first annual cookie decorating contest, Bee,




and Baby Blues, who may not have had the fine motor skills to decorate, but was more than happy to help "clean up."


We had some fun time outside in the milder North Carolina weather,


an impromptu rock band session with Unca Dave and Bee sharing the drum solo, (I haven't a clue who that old lady is with the gray hair. Oh, wait--that's me!)


and Baby Blues' stirring rendition of "Jingle Bells."

And that's how we spent our Christmas vacation!

(Pictures and iPhone courtesy of Aunt Weezer. Mommo was too busy having fun with the Sprittles to take pictures!)