Tag Archives: seasons

Stop and gaze upon the roses


horizontal red roses

Stop and smell the lilacs, that’s a maxim I could get behind. The scent of lilacs blooming in May is both fleeting and intoxicating.

Roses, I have found, are not very fragrant, making the phrase “stop and smell the roses” not only cliché but also misleading. But still, roses in bloom have a way of stopping one in one’s tracks, they are so handsome.

Napa cookie cutter campgroundI captured the image above a couple of weeks ago when we were staying at the Napa Valley Expo, a neat and proper sort of RV park where every lot is exactly the same size, lined up on a perfectly asphalted street. The effect is rather hypnotic, particularly when one walks her dog along the same route every time, four times a day.

Then I wake up in the morning, answering puppy’s call to nature, and notice the dew on the roses.


It’s all I can do not to break out in my Stevie Wonder voice, “Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she Won. Der. Ful? Isn’t she precious?”

A fanciful row of rose bushes line the main thoroughfare in the park, and I get to gaze upon them whenever I walk the dog or do the laundry. These dewy images were taken a couple of weeks ago, when most of the blooms were only buds, just waking up to spring’s welcome. Unfortunately for us visitors, it rained most of a week, but April’s showers left such perfect droplets on the roses, one might think an artist was painting circular little globs of clear lacquer on every upward surface.

red bud

We answered Wanderlust‘s call to fly home for some business (and pleasure), and then returned “home,” to our little RV in Napa Valley. The rain is gone, and the roses, still standing guard on the thoroughfare, are almost spent. We’ll be moving on soon enough, but today we’re here, and the roses demand attention.

rose bush

This morning’s wide open blossoms.


Yellow, golden, amber autumn


What a beautiful day.

It’s Nov. 5, which means it could be cold, windy and raining. Or snowing. It could be snowing.

But it’s not. It was a sun-soaked day in which the temperatures in northern Illinois reached the upper 60s.

Here’s the view from my back deck overlooking the back yard and the nature preserve beyond my fence just before sunset. I swear I heard crackling in the underbrush while I was clicking away; deer have been known to bound through (maybe even live in?) the tree-filled water retention area back there. It’s not a good time of year for deer, but I certainly appreciated the lovely autumn day.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

OK, so I didn’t spend the day outdoors, but my Beloved left open the screen door to the deck. I could hear barking dogs and honking geese while I chopped and cooked ingredients for not one but two pots of soup. Normally, soup is perfect for warming up during a quiet Saturday night in November. Well, it’s perfect on a warm autumn night, too.

And the best part? Looks like it will be similarly beautiful tomorrow. And we’ll all have an extra hour to enjoy it! Don’t forget to fall back!

Clematis memories

clamatis wide shot

My Beloved planted this clematis a couple of years ago because it reminded him of his grandfather.

I never met his mother’s father, but he sounds like he filled a room with his personality. Among his talents, apparently, was gardening. Tyler remembers his grandfather’s clematis growing on a trellis in the back yard. Technically, this one is in our side yard, but when it started blooming so beautifully this week, my Beloved relished good memories. I’m sharing so you can appreciate its beauty.

clamatis close up

‘Tis the season

Nothing like a pedicure to smooth the rough edges of a rough day.

The little snowmen that had been decorating my Beloved’s big toes since Christmas Eve (and slowly melting away) were smeared off like so much nail polish remover. For me, I adopted a smart coral to match the straps of a new pair of sandals.

The nail salon on a late Friday afternoon was a madhouse. It is the Friday before Mother’s Day after all.

But I digress. It’s the way a pedicure turns a pair of dry ragged feet into something pretty and show-off worthy that I appreciate the most about a trip to the nail salon. 


Like spring into summer.

Admiration for the lovely tulip

Tulip neighbor

Their season is short but their days are filled with glory.

I admire the neighborhood tulips every spring. I’m always astonished at how gardeners plan ahead. And trust! They trust those dirty bulbs will erupt some months later with loveliness. I soak in the unique beauty of every color. Red, of course …

tulip red closeup

Yummy yellow …

tulip yellow closeup

What a maroon!

tulip burgundy

Pretty purple …

tulip purple closeup

And variegated varieties …

tulip verigated purple

And I appreciate them in every form. A single bloom …

tulip single

In a bed …

tulips in a bed

In a circle …

tulips in a circle

And in a row …

tulips in a row

They don’t last long, and I’ve learned they malinger, rather than linger, when they’re cut and brought in the house. Don’t harvest the mighty tulip but take in its magnificence.

Spring cleaning on steroids

Question: How did you spend this fine Sunday?

A. I drank too much sake with my sushi last night so I slept in and spent the day dozing on the couch while binge-watching Chopped.

B. I read the Sunday paper cover to cover and spent the afternoon working on the crossword puzzle while half-listening to the baseball game.

C. I went to church and spent the afternoon shopping for potted plants to hang in my porch. When I got home, I discovered a May Day basket hanging from my front door knob.

D. I moved every last winter coat, used tennis shoe, spaghetti noodle, kibble of dog food and bottle of laundry detergent out of the pantry, swept the room three times, scrubbed the nooks and crannies of the shelving and got on my hands and knees to clean the baseboards in preparation for an epic paint job.

Most common answer is A (because nothing says Saturday night like drinking too much). Lovely ways to spend the first day of May? B or C. But if you answered D, you’re on the same wavelength as me.

We’ve lived in this house nearly nine years, and it’s finally time to makeover the pantry.

The room comprises 128 square feet, and it’s also home to the back entryway and the laundry room. The multipurposefulness of the room contributes to a schizophrenic decorating vibe. A cute “welcome” message hanging over the door complements the cluttered food containers bursting out of their shelving. A duplicate of nearly every kitchen appliance (slow cooker, blender, hand mixer, coffee grinder — we might need them someday, after all) fights for space with tin foil, refrigerator water filters and cleaning supplies. A functional laundry center sits next to closet filled with sandals and boots, coats and jackets for every season.

One cannot fully fathom one’s tendency towards hoarding until one consolidates the contents of one’s pantry and realizes she has more than two dozen light bulbs, over 20 pounds of pasta in every shape and at least eight pair of running shoes. Nine jumbo rolls of paper towels? Check. Seven kinds and flavors of nuts? Check. Five different kinds of pancake mix (regular, buttermilk, heart-smart and two brands of gluten-free) and five types of oatmeal (old fashioned, minute, Irish, steel cut and single-serving packets)? Check and check.

Once my Beloved and I removed everything (including the washer, dryer, shelving and quarterround), the formerly crowded room looks cavernous and echoes like an empty warehouse. I replaced the 60 watt bulbs in the light fixture with 100 watt bulbs, and now every scuff, flaw and stain on the walls stands out like neon advertising reminding us why we undertook this project, which will include painting the ceiling and closet in addition to the walls and installing new flooring to replace the, ugh, linoleum.

As with every room makeover undertaken at Minnesota Transplant’s house, a paint job blossoms into so much more. We’ve already invested in baskets to spruce up the pantry shelving and we’re thinking about installing cabinets above the washer-dryer. Dad is working on a new shelf with coat hooks, and I’m going to paint the foot locker. Oh, and new rugs. Of course. Who, I ask you, puts old rugs on new flooring?

I’m exhausted as I recount this, but oddly invigorated. Nothing inspires like clearing away years of dryer lint and filling one’s trunk with items for Goodwill. Even as I slouch at my computer, I feel so much cleaner and lighter.

A perfect project for celebrating the first of May. Hope however you spent it was equally as satisfying.

Plethora of holidays punctuate the winter blahs

Just when the doldrums of winter have your head in a vice like an alligator’s fanged mouth, along comes February with fun around every corner of the calendar.

[How’s that for a Pandora’s box of metaphors?]

Only fun gets a native Minnesotan through a month like this (though sun doesn’t hurt).

Tomorrow it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Not a holiday exactly, but it comes with parties, special food, decorations, music and costumes. Sounds like a holiday to me! I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, so even for the football fans who are eh, meh, about Broncos and Panthers, there’s something to enjoy.

Monday, we celebrate Chinese New Year. I’m not Chinese, but I like egg rolls and green tea, so what’s not to celebrate? It’s the year of the Monkey, and I’m going to observe it with a banana for breakfast and a take-out meal at Panda Express.

It’s Fat Tuesday on Tuesday, the last big party of Mardi Gras. Celebrants whoop it up on this, the last day before we begin denying ourselves for Lent. Thaw the slab of beef in the freezer and uncork the Zinfandel — time to indulge.

Christians the world over, especially Catholics, observe Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10 this year. Lent is the season of preparation for Easter, during which we repent of our sins and remind ourselves of our mortality (ashes are the symbol of the dust from which we came and to which we return). A consciousness of death is not a curse, but a blessing because we are reminded to be grateful for the life we have. Pious adherents will give up something (like meat or some other indulgence) until Easter Sunday, a daily reminder to be grateful for thick steaks and wine.

Take a breath at the end of the week, and then celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday. Where would we be without lovers?

It’s President’s Day on Feb. 15 when Americans observe the birthdays of two our greatest presidents, George Washington, who presided over the beginning of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln, who managed to keep the union together with the Civil War. During a presidential election year when we tend to be unhappy with all our choices, it’s gratifying to remember particularly memorable presidents.

Speaking of presidential elections, I feel like it’s a holiday every time there’s a debate or a primary. I’m a political science major, after all. Pop up some popcorn and turn on the TV! (Debates this month are tonight, Feb. 11, Feb. 13 and Feb. 25; primaries this month are Tuesday, Feb. 20, Feb. 23 and Feb. 27.)

I feel the same way about the Academy Awards (mark your calendar — Feb. 28). My guilty pleasure is watching the fashion police as the stars waltz into the theater and then watching celebrities cry and say nice things about each other (you can’t beat the Original Song performances either).

And then, of course, we celebrate an extra day this year. Feb. 29 comes but once every four years. Minnesotans would prefer the extra day fall in say, June, but beggars can’t be choosers. Some people would give anything for an extra day.