Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Favorites

I haven't done a Friday Favorites post in a few weeks, so, I feel like I need to catch up. That, and there isn't a whole lot of blog-worthy stuff going on at Casa de Chelle currently, because I am lazy.


While I was in Mayberry for Stampede, Mom pulled out some old cameras that had belonged to my grandma on Dad's side. The cameras had been stored in old popcorn tins since Grandma's death, over twenty years ago, and Mom rediscovered them while going through Dad's things.

Since I enjoy both photography and vintage items, Mom thought that I might be interested in having them. Mom knows me very well.

Currently, I am displaying the cameras on the mantel above the fireplace, but I could easily see them making appearances in other areas of the house as well; there are not very many rooms in my house in which antiques do not feature in the d├ęcor.

Another favorite: the continued blooming of the lilies in my flowerbeds. I seriously expected the blooms to subside by now; instead, they have entered a second blooming phase. I had no idea they were capable of that, but, I love it.

In addition to being beautiful, the lilies are heavily scented, like, ridiculously so. Their scent hits me the second I step out the front door and it lingers pleasantly on the front porch.

Speaking of the porch, I have been enjoying sitting on it and watching the hummingbirds at the feeders quite a bit this summer. I must have some regulars, who return each year, because they were swarming the porch before I even had the feeders out this year. I guess hummingbirds not only have fast metabolisms, but long memories.

The birds are a welcome sight, but, my favorite sight this week would have to be this...

...the Man-Cub has returned from his extended visit with his favorite Pod Person. He probably weighs five pounds more than he did when I left him in Mayberry and I'm guessing most of the calories he consumed came from the vat of Oreo Cookie Trifle that was sitting in the fridge when I left, so, job well done, Pod Person, job well done.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Stories Told Around the Fire

Today I am throwing it alllll the way back to last week. That's right, last week; my throwing arm is tired.

Last Wednesday evening, we hosted Hugh's extended family for Porch Night, and, despite being kind of crappy earlier in the day, the weather held out just long enough for us to enjoy grilled tequila lime chicken, mock Caprese pasta salad, and freshly baked bread on the porch. Then, as a sweet bonus, it stayed nice enough for the cousins to gather around the firepit for 'smores and good conversation.

I love it when a plan comes together (translation: I love it when Mother Nature cooperates).

One of these things is not like the others...poor Teenager

Darren was an honorary cousin this evening, he fit in perfectly

Afterwards, Hugh invited all the boys to stay the night, so we ended up with a slumber party in the living room. It was a nice way to end the cousin's visit and it gave all of the kids a chance to get to know each other a little bit better; now, they can all connect on Facebook and carry on with a closer relationship, which, is pretty cool given the distance between our households.

This summer has been a good one for reconnecting with family, in general, and I am grateful for the opportunities. I hope my kids realize what a blessing family is and that they always make time to spend with their loved ones.

I'm pretty sure they will.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So, Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

The jury is still out on that; it would appear, however, that blondes attract more attention. Of course, my experience with that is slightly skewed; it tends to come from people who haven't seen me in a while and who have always known me to be a brunette, and, who are then taken slightly aback by the sunlight bouncing off my head. I mean, I assume that is the reason for the stunned look on their faces, anyway.

Hey, they aren't alone; I still do a double-take when I catch my reflection in a store window.

On the bright side, my stylist and I have agreed that I can probably start going five weeks between root touch-ups, rather than four weeks. This could potentially save me a bundle of money over the course of the year, assuming that I don't just spend it on other vain and unnecessary things.

Actually, if I do realize a savings, I could reinvest it in entertainment, proving the old adage about blondes having more fun, and, finally allowing the jury to retire once and for all.

That sounds like the wisest course of action, after all, that jury has been out for a really, really long time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

There Are Signs For Those Who Choose To See Them

During his last few years on Earth, my dad developed an affinity for gardening; specifically, the desire to plant lilies.

His favorite were daylilies, vibrant orange and willowy, but; any lily would do. He planted the bulbs, watered them, fretted over them, and, generally sowed love deep into their roots. So, it came as no surprise to hear that Dad's lilies bloomed in his yard this year; I naturally assumed that he would fuss over them, even from his Heavenly perch.

I was, however, completely surprised to see my own flowerbed erupt into a burst of colorful blooms late last week; I had planted oriental lilies a number of years ago and have had, at best, one or two small flowers to show for my efforts each year since.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dad tended these flowers, coaxing them into a vibrant and dynamic display, the likes of which I probably won't see again.

Now, I don't know where you fall on the spiritual plane-if you are a believer or a skeptic-but, I'm sure you will agree that these blooms are heavenly, whatever your definition of the word.

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We Endure

Stampede Weekend 2015 has come to a merciful end. I am preparing to pack my car for the trip back to Petticoat Junction, leaving behind the Man-Cub and Darren, who joined us this trip.

The boys are going to stay in Mayberry for the next week, to spend time with my mom and to dog-sit for her while she and her sisters take a few day-trips across the state. I'm glad they are all going to have fun; the sisters, as they go sightseeing, and the boys, who will, no doubt, take full advantage of the fully stocked fridge, the ginormous television, and the close proximity to the Dairy Queen.

I am not looking forward to returning to work, nor am I excited about the end of summer, but, I also know that there are worse things.

I can also say that we will never again have to spend the first Stampede without Dad; we've put that in the rearview, thankfully. Granted, I don't harbor any illusion that it will get easier as the years go by, but, I do know that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to build a solid tradition for my children and I hope that they will let the good memories of Stampedes Past color their enjoyment of the event going forward. That is what I hope for, for myself, as well.

And, there were some good memories to add to the collection this year. I'll always remember this as the year that Mom and all of her remaining siblings were together. I'll remember the sound of their individual voices coming from the kitchen, where they gathered around the table to reminisce about their youth. I'll remember the laughter that echoed down the hallway when they recalled something particularly funny, and I will remember their arguments over the division of family photos: these are the sounds of my childhood and I had not realized how much I had missed them.

In addition, I will remember trailing behind them all as they walked to the local park to check out the vintage car show-each holding a colorful solo cup full of tasty beverages, despite the questionable legality of that action.

They gave me ample opportunity to laugh this weekend and, for that, I am grateful.

Not pictured: Red solo cups

Friday, July 24, 2015

The More Things Change, the More They... Are Completely Different, Actually

The kids and I arrived in Mayberry yesterday, somewhat prepared to face the first Stampede without Dad. That is going about as well as you may think.

On the bright side, my mom's siblings also arrived to spend the weekend, which, has provided some distraction from my natural tendency to compare this year to years past; this is the first time ever that all eight siblings have been together for the three-day party. They didn't even accomplish that back when they were all growing up-there was over twenty years between the first born and the baby of the family and they all did their own things as they matured into adults.

So, this weekend is pretty special and it is good to see Mom distracted by the chaos.

Last night, I went to the Kelsea Ballerini/Trace Adkins concert with Mom, my six aunts, and my four uncles. Usually, I attend the concert with Phoebe and Reese, but, Reese wasn't able to make the trip from Phoenix this year, and Phoebe is headed to a swim meet in Pueblo later today, so, while I got to see her for a bit last night; I was more or less on my own with the geriatric crew.

The concert was good, and I did enjoy the company, but, afterwards, trying to keep them all together on the trip from the concert venue to the parking lot was about as easy as herding small children. Or, cats.

We made it home, eventually, where I have been ever since. I watched the parade, like usual, but, when it came time to join the clan at the rodeo grounds to watch my niece and brother-in-law compete in the slack (qualifying runs for rodeo activities the rest of the weekend), I was fast asleep on the couch.

There is a rodeo this evening, followed by the dance, and; I actually have no intention of attending either. I miss my comrades. I miss my dad. I miss feeling like Stampede is the greatest weekend in my hometown.

As I've said, the more things change...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Outlaw Photo Shoot

Hugh, the kids, and I joined the rest of the family at Oscar and Emily's house for dinner last night. It was the first time in, like, twelve years that the whole family was all together and Emily had requested that I take a photo to mark the occasion.

Like most large group photo shoots, it took a number of attempts in order to achieve one picture in which all eyes were open and focused on the camera., and, as with most photo shoots; it resulted in a lot of fairly hysterical out-takes.

Once the large group photo was out of the way, we concentrated on smaller sub-groups, including the original family of five, plus the fur-baby, who, cooperated better than she usually does; maybe it was the pitchfork?

Yeah...there was a pitchfork...just go with it..

Then, the grandchildren graced us with their cooperation, which resulted in both great pictures and a workout for the boys. We are all about multi-tasking in this family.

She's the only girl, please don't drop her on her head.

Not to be outdone by their offspring, Hugh and his brother attempted a similar feat with their sister...

Even the dog is like WTF?

...we are eternally grateful that she escaped injury.

Tomorrow evening, we are hosting Porch Night for the family. I am hoping for better weather than we have experienced the last several days, but, in the event that it is cold and rainy, I am busting the porch quilts out of storage and looking up recipes for a good Hot Toddy.

Should be fun either way.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Take Care

Another summer weekend, come and gone.


At least we had some fun, and, for once, I am not being sarcastic when I say it like that. Oh, we had our fair share of housework, yard work, bookkeeping, bill paying, grocery shopping, and other general drudgery, but, we also got to spend an afternoon on the lake with Hugh's siblings and their families.

Hugh doesn't get a lot of opportunities to see his brother, who lives in Maine, or his sister, who resides in Illinois, so, their visit is an especially nice treat, and; Hugh wanted to do it up right, which, basically means that he took it pretty easy on their children when he pulled them around the lake on the tube. Indeed, the only minor mishap occurred when two of Hugh's nephews bumped heads during an especially turbulent moment. Otherwise, no dramatic wipe-outs or anything.

I'm not entirely certain Hugh's siblings understand the degree of restraint that Hugh was required to employ.

Ok, except for that one time...

...otherwise, smiles all around.

See, siblings? Your children are totally safe with your brother...totally safe...

The family will be spending a bit more time together this week, including dinner at Oscar and Emily's and Porch Night, at our house.

I'm glad that Hugh gets this chance to see them; if this year has taught me anything, it is to treasure the time that we have with family.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

23 Simple Pleasures, Because 23 is my Favorite Number

1. The first cup of coffee in the morning, light on sugar and heavy on the cream.

2. A cinnamon donut to go with the second cup of coffee in the morning.

3. Sipping that coffee and donut on the porch on a warm summer morning.

4. Watching hummingbirds buzz the feeders while sitting on the porch on a warm summer morning, sipping creamy hot coffee and snacking on a crunchy sweet cinnamon donut.

5. Slipping into the space between sleep and awake, where dreams are most vivid and your body is fully relaxed.

6. New sandals that show off a pretty pedicure.

7. The warm weight of a purring kitty, settled on your chest or in your lap.

8. The smell of the earth after a rainstorm.

9. Reading a book that is so good, you can't put it down.

10. Spending time with old friends.

11. A coloring book and a box of brand new crayons.

12. Watching a beautiful sunrise.

13. Watching an equally beautiful sunset.

14. Spending a morning at the farmer's market.

15. Relaxing in a warm bath with a glass of good wine.

16. Your favorite music playing on the radio.

17. Jeans that fit just right, denim as soft as a baby's butt.

18. Candlelight.

19. Getting a good, deep massage.

20. Counting the stars on a clear night.

21. The first snowfall of winter.

22. Peas, fresh from the garden.

23. That rare moment when a scent or a song plunges you so deeply into a good memory, you feel like you have stepped back in time to experience it all over again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Step Away From the Window, Mrs. Kravitz

One of my co-workers is going through a really hard time right now; her seventeen year old son has run away in a stolen car. This is distressing under any circumstance, but, painfully so for a woman whose husband is a leader of a local church and a highly respected member of the community.

As usual, the community Facebook message board is filled to the brim with judgment and speculation about the family and the situation in general and, this infuriates me. There are, specifically, three women who post to the board regularly, spewing their opinions and judgments and basically making the board a toxic and depressing forum instead of a useful and informative resource; I have collectively christened these women Mrs. Kravitz and, I would appreciate it if they would log off Facebook, effectively closing the curtains on the show playing out in their neighbor's yard.

Seriously, Gladys.

Step the fuck away.

That is all.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ah, Monday, We Meet Again

I am coming off a really busy weekend and Monday seems almost like a reprieve. Almost.

Saturday, I had a rare weekend meeting with clients followed by a full day in the kitchen, making green beans and baked potatoes for a 30th High School reunion that my youth group was catering as a fundraiser. The reunion then took up the better part of the late afternoon and evening, and, after imposing on my club members on their Saturday, I felt it only right to treat them to ice cream.

Sunday, I worked at the hardware store, catching up on paperwork, followed by a full day of housework, laundry, yard work, and preparing myself mentally for Monday.

Today, I am headed to a training a couple of hours away. I plan to use the drive as a planning period for the rest of the week, because I am overscheduled and will no doubt be frantically trying to fit everything I have to accomplish into less time than I have available.

Ain't that the way it goes?

Monday isn't looking like much of a reprieve after all.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


So, Independence Day was a week ago, and here I am, finally getting around to writing about it; luckily, procrastination is my right as an American.

When we decided to go to Lake Powell for the long holiday weekend, we knew that the lake would be crowded. Chris and Jana took off on Wednesday evening to secure a camping spot that would accommodate three large RVs, four boats, two personal vehicles, and a shit-ton of people. He did a great job, locating a spot perched above a calm cove. The RV's had plenty of space, the boats bobbed gently in the water, there was a public bathroom just a three-minute hike up a hill, and, the kids had access to a nice cliff, perfect for perfecting their cliff-diving skills.

The kids loved the spot, as did the adults, and, we spent Thursday evening and all day Friday enjoying the quiet and solitude of camp life. Or, as much quiet and solitude as one can enjoy when camping with sixteen children ranging in age from six to nineteen.

Unfortunately, the holiday weekend started a bit later for some people, and, when we arrived back in camp Friday evening, following a full day on the water, we were most displeased to find that a large group of college kids had encroached onto our space, stealing the cliff across the cove and effectively blocking the kids from enjoying their cliff-diving endeavors.

It was sort of a bummer, but, we are all adults and we understand the nature of a public recreational area.

That attitude, however, became harder to maintain once Delta Delta Dumbass broke out the beer pong table around two a.m.

The party raged on for most of the night, and, I don't know if you know this, but, water carries sound really, really well; a law of physics that we used to our advantage at six a.m., once the partiers had finally turned in for the night.

Another, lesser-known, law of physics: children wake early and they wake up loud.

We may have additionally fueled the hyperactivity of our offspring with a breakfast of Red, White and Blue pancakes (pancakes filled with white chocolate chips and blueberries and topped with strawberry syrup for those who wanted it), powdered donuts, and coffee (plenty of cream and sugar), because, before long, they had braved the scorn of the party frat and reclaimed their cliff, jumping into the water and creating epic splashes while chanting the catchphrase of the college students overheard from the night before: 'MURICA!!!!

It was all good; I'm sure the splashing, screaming, laughter and general rowdiness of our clan barely disturbed the frat's drunken slumber.

The riotous start that we got off to carried out throughout the day; we enjoyed the sunshine, boating, floating, cliff jumping, and, we did it in our best Independence Day finery.

Later that night, following a hamburger cookout, we loaded the boats and raced through the dark to watch the fireworks over the lake. As we pulled out of the cove, Delta Delta Dumbass waved and told us to be safe. We were happy to note that they weren't attempting to boat into the channel in their current drunken state and my estimation of them raised just a titch to Delta Delta Maybe Not Such Dumbasses.

And, that's the beauty of this country; people of all races, creeds, and stages of brain development, coming together to celebrate our independence in a location of great beauty and entertainment. Ain't freedom a beautiful thing?