Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Dear Mom,
I'd like to introduce you to Kary Mullis. The teenager did research, wrote a research paper, complete with bibliography, and fashioned an eerily-similar-to-the-real-Mr.-Mullis Mr. Mullis from . . . . an egg. A Buff Orpington egg, which was given to us by Bonnie Jo, straight from her farm. That led to another research paper of sorts about the Buff Orpington hen, which the teenager included as an addendum to his Kary Mullis Egghead Research Project. The teenager has a wicked sense of humor; hopefully Mrs. McDowell, his science teacher, will appreciate him for his gusto as well as for his no-help-from-us project! In the meantime, we can all appreciate the scientists in our world and their Nobel Prize winning discoveries, even if they have been reduced to jr. high eggheads!
Love, Wendy

Monday, March 30, 2009


Dear Mom,
The May issue of Creative Knitting Magazine arrived in my mailbox this afternoon. My second professionally published knitting pattern is in there!
On page 62.




A Blog is Born

Dear Mom,
I am not gonna say my old friend, I will say my long-time high school friend, Jill, has started a blog. The photo above shows our friend Polly, me, and Jill holding her 5 month old daughter. Our first time meeting the baby and seeing our friend as a Mother.
Jill and I have kept in touch over the years, never failing to send Christmas cards and gifts and sporadically writing letters. I am thrilled to now be able to regularly keep up with her and her family and get a glimpse of her life through her blogging.
Jill has had an exciting life as an Air Force wife and is now enjoying retirement. She and Her Hero have built their dream home in Florida after years of living all over the country. Jill literally felt the earth move when the bomb went off in Oklahoma city and evacuated Key West when hurricane George came to call.
Jill, Polly and I had great fun together with Susie, Colleen, and Erin in high school: Friday nights at Polly's house practicing disco moves [HEY! It was the late 70's!!] which Polly and Jill were good at but I was much too uncoordinated and laughing too hard to mimic their moves-especially when Ping Pong paddles were involved, talking about boys and handsome teachers, falling in L.O.V.E. with Rocky Balboa and rushing out into the mall (we had to hurry because one of our Mom's was picking us up) when the movie ended to buy beefcake posters of Sylvester Stallone to hang in our bedrooms, (in fact one snow day I recall Jill and I sculpting a Stallone torso onto our version of a snow man), getting lost and scared when we found ourselves in a bad part of downtown on the way to Paramount Music Palace and even more scared when the song Highway to Hell played on the radio, (I probably never told you about that- but see I am still here! It all turned out okay!!!). We were Good Girls. Heck, when the rest of our class spent Senior Skip Day getting drunk at the track, we had a picnic at a park and practiced cartwheels, fed the ducks, soaked in the sun and LAUGHED.
When you have some time, go take a look at Jill's blog. And soak in some of that sunshine.
Edited to Add: Reminiscing some more- we swooned over Paul McCartney's "ooooaah" at the end of the song, Jet- and shared many, many bus rides home with THE most unfortunate looking, angry bus driver ever to get behind the wheel. (I must admit, however, that if I were forced to drive a bus, it wouldn't take long for me to look that bad and feel that angry.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rare Ladybug

Dear Mom,

I think this may qualify as a rare ladybug. One never seen before.

I'm sure our discovery will be posted in all of the bug field guides, front and center on the Ladybug Project page!! Until then, pipsqueak should feel quite proud.

Love, Wendy


Dear Mom,
Lest you think I am a slug for not hearing the phone ring when you called this morning because I had gone back to bed after the kids left for school, let me explain. I stayed up late watching something EDUCATIONAL. (And knitting a sock, which I finished.) I got really hooked on the John Adams series that was on HBO- now on DVD, borrowed from the library. It is probably a very good thing that the first disc had only 2 episodes on it, or I would have stayed up even later. As it was, I turned it off just as the Continental Congress Declared Our Independence. I didn't think it possible to be so mesmerized. It isn't as if I don't know how it all turns out! But I love seeing our founding fathers brought to life. Humble John Adams and his love for the law, his simple life and his family; clever, wise and amusing Ben Franklin; intense and brave George Washington; and intelligent, passionate Smokin' HOT Thomas Jefferson. Abigail Adams fighting smallpox. I see that some things never change as John Adams becomes frustrated with "politicians who only talk to hear themselves speak". And marvel at the courage of those brave citizens, soldiers and statesmen, who changed the world. And that is only after 2 episodes!

I also hunted down one of our lady bug guests after reading Bonnie's post. We are not plagued with the rare 9-spotted ladybug. Our visitors are Asian Ladybugs, introduced here for biocontrol and known to spend the winter, you guessed it, inside houses. This summer, we will keep our eyes focused for the Nine-spotted ladybug and send a picture in to the Lost Ladybug Project if we see one.

In the meantime, I leave you this. The dog who thinks he is cute, and what I usually find laying on the floor behind me when I sit here at the computer. He thumps his tail to attract my attention. And it works. Every time. Only something a dog's "mother" could love...



Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Search of Ladybugs

Dear Mom, This is a picture of a nine-spotted ladybug. After reading Kim's post about the ladybug invasion, I saw an article in John Deere's Homestead magazine which caught my attention. "In Search of Ladybugs" tells about how some ladybugs are missing. John Losey, an entomologist at Cornell University said, "Over the past 20 years, several native ladybug species that were once very common have become extremely rare". Mr. Losey has developed The Lost Ladybug Project, supported by the National Science Foundation. He is asking people to find and photograph ladybugs! Two children actually documented the first nine-spotted ladybug seen in the eastern U.S. in 14 years! The project website gives instructions on how we can help by "Finding ‘em, photographing ‘em, and sending ‘em". They even have a Field Guide that identifies eight different types of ladybugs, each having a unique color pattern and number of spots (I didn't know there were THAT many types of ladybugs, did you?!)

I think Kim's Young Lady just found herself a good reason to adopt one or two of these pesky little house guests...at least long enough to photograph and identify them!! What a neat little summer project this could turn out to be!

Love, Bonnie Jo


Dear Mom,
I have been unusually busy these past few weeks. I have been weird busy. A photo shoot here, a knitting class there. Laundry, spring cleaning, taxes, knitting, ripping and reknitting a sweater for the store. We have had typical spring weather--busy in the yard between rain storms. We are enjoying magnolia blooms, crabapple blooms, crocus, daffodils and hyacinths. I am hanging laundry on the clothesline and then running out to rescue fresh laundry before the rain again. I am cleaning closets, changing over from winter to spring. Always a reminder that the kids are growing and I am shocked at how they have all outgrown so many things! A gentle nudging to enjoy them TODAY.
It is raining today--my favorite kind of rain. The kind of gentle, steady, all-day rain that feeds the new growth without threatening to blow anything away. I wanted to leave you with a beautiful pot of daisys; a thoughtful gift from a friend who knew I needed the sweet gesture. Now I am paying it forward--enjoy your pot of daisys today!
Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Big Reveal

Dear Mom,

Tights are the Enemy is finished. I figured out a way to finish the neckline that looks pretty and easily slides over the Young Lady's head. The picture above shows the top after the ends have been buried and the sweater blocked. The Young Lady did not want to model the finished product and did not Cooperate.

In fact, the expression on her face was quite like the one I made that time you were trying to take a Christmas card picture of the four of us in the morning before school.

Okay. So we're even. Paid back. HA. Ha. ha.

She happily modeled the sweater before blocking with strings hanging off of it.

See? Strings. And~ Oh MY! A guinea pig on the couch. Zooming in on these photos is quite revealing......




Dear Mom,
You will be relieved to know that today, after a clueless 2 months, and an alarmingly aware 3 days, I am no longer driving with an expired license. They didn't even scold me at the BMV, so I'm guessing this happens a lot.
They were also really quick. I had all that yarn to knit and only knit about 14 stitches before I was out of there.
If forgetting to renew isn't alarming enough, for the first time EVER I missed a letter on the vision test.
The photos are now logged in with some facial recognition software, so "you can smile, but don't show your teeth". I don't know how to do that so I didn't smile. Plus if I ever got pulled over and had to hand my driver's license to a police man, I don't think I would be smiling anyway. This facial recognition trick is supposed to prevent identity theft but I suspect it is some kind of Homeland Security thing.
And then I saw the face of a middle aged woman looking at me on MY driver's license. With a wrinkled neck. And maybe even an extra bit of chin or sagging jowls. I am going to pretend that when I smile all of that disappears. I do not think I can wear turtlenecks all year round, but I sure wish I wore one today. I do notice that my "tinted glow enhancer" seems to be doing its job under my eyes, so I take what little comfort I can in that.
Departing the BMV, an old coot seemed to think if he tried t-boning me into the right turn lane I would move faster or get out of his way. I stopped and gave him my best "I just saw how old I look on my driver's license so don't you be messing with me MISTER, and besides it is Ladies First" look and then took my time to make my turn safely. I didn't want to have to present my fresh license to a police man so soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Dear Mom,
It was a full weekend. A weekend full of activity and contrasts.
There were visits with friends from far and near, sleepovers both here and there.
Traffic jams and detours, time behind the wheel and time in the back seat.
Saturday morning, I saw a bride(!?!) in a McDonalds/Shell station:

And Sunday afternoon we were celebrating a cousin's engagement.

Salads, omelets, sandwiches and fries. Her mother's diamond, and a gift of her grandmother's china.

Happy celebrations, engagement rings, reunions of sorts. The pleasure of seeing in her daughter the familiar smile and gestures of an aunt no longer with us, and the sorrow of that as well. Memories shared between cousins, the oldest and youngest of us. The chance to get away for a day and the relief to be back home again.

And Sunday evening I saw a guy at Jimy John's who looked just like Meatloaf. Not the meatloaf you eat, the Meatloaf who sang "Bat out of HEdoublehockeysticks" but you probably don't know that song. At least I hope not. Anyway, I didn't take his picture because I thought he would probably notice and I didn't want to start a rumble. And his arms were covered with tatoos. And his girlfriend could easily have taken me. And my knee is starting to feel better and I didn't want to have to run fast.


Friday, March 20, 2009


Dear Mom,
I have a confession.
This could be one of those things like dishwasher-etched glasses that you don't use when company comes over and pretend they don't exist even though everyone has the same problem, but I'll take my chances here and spill it.

Ladybugs have invaded our home.

It started out small- just one or two cheerful little ladybugs in the master bath. I thought to myself that the sunny, humid environment must be ideal for the few brave ladybugs who wanted to spend the winter here.
Then there were more than one or two.
Now there are dozens and they aren't happy staying in the bathroom. They started moving out into the bedrooms. Yesterday I noticed one on my pillowcase when I made the bed. Last week the Young Lady found one in her room. I think she was planning on adopting it. She told me it had a broken leg.
I told her to "Set it Free" and she took it outside. It probably flew its broken leg right back in behind her.
And this morning, I found one. In. My. Tea.

I am now concerned that ladybugs are a sign of a bigger problem. I do keep the house clean. I do! My vacuum cleaner is filling up with ladybug carcasses. Are ladybugs indicative of some structural issue with the house? Or are we just the lucky lady bug vacation spot? Could this be like the pod people in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a new War of the Worlds, or a clever alien disguise? Except that most of them are dead when I find them and that is not how extraterrestials take over the planet in the movies. Have I seen too many sci-fi movies in my past? Maybe.
If only they were worth something. We'd be recession proof around here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Dear Mom,
After years of summer golf camps and hours of coaching from his dad, and while wearing his Grandpa's golf shoes, the Young Man earned a place on his High School Golf Team.
Every afternoon this week, with golf clubs, golf attire, a sandwich and a drink on board, I picked up the Young Man after school and drove him to the golf course for team try-outs. I played my part of silent chauffeur well, giving him a quiet good luck as he pulled his clubs out of the car. And always got a "Thanks for the ride" in return.
Lots of driving. For both of us.
And that green club cover is one of my first knitting projects- a Father's Day gift more than 30 years ago!

The Baa-Studs

Dear Mom,

If I have time I'll write more later. In the meantime, take a few minutes (2:44 actually) to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw. Absolutely amazing!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top O' the Mornin' to Ya!

Dear Mom,
Yesterday was my very busy day at the yarn store but I wanted to tell you how my day started. Dressed in our St. Patty's Day greens, the desperate housewives of BB Street (and Pipsqueak) went to Brazenhead, an Irish Pub, for brunch. We had a fun morning together laughing and solving all of the neighborhood problems. We were also given lots of St. Patty's Day necklaces, pens, and light-ups, courtesy of Guiness. Our waitress told us that a girl is never too young to start with the Guiness so Pipsqueak has her share of Guiness goodies, too.

After several attempts at finding out just what an Irishman has under that kilt, we finally found out!!!! I boldly asked and my new Irish friend pulled up his kilt and showed us his Shamrocks!! Boxer shorts!! My Irish friend has never laughed so hard; Pipsqueak's expression was priceless!!
And so, dear Mom, it was another wonderful time spent with good friends.
In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day: “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
Love, Wendy

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How are things in Glocca Morra?

Dear Mom,

Look, look, look tooooo the rayain bowwwww....
Today the songs from this movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjKLx6oS9TM are running through my head. I wish I could sing like Petula Clark. If I have time later, I may dig out our copy of Finian's Rainbow and watch. Some parts of that movie may be dated, but Fred Astaire's singing and dancing never will be. There are so many good songs in that movie. I remember listening to them when I was little, after we had gone to bed, and falling asleep with them. Daddy must have had the sound track. I remember Petula Clark and ?? guy singing "That Old Devil Moon" and Petula whispering, "kiss me"...... Really, if only I could sing. I would be making everyone, well, the kids, crazy embarrassed.

I'll make My Hero happy by NOT singing and I'll fix Reuben Loaf for dinner. The kids aren't so thrilled with it, so I make half of it with ham and swiss. I got this recipe years ago from my #1 sister-in-law and it has never failed to please.
Reuben Loaf
3 1/4 c flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 pkg RAPID RISE yeast
1 c hot water
1 T margarine, softened
1/4 c thousand island dressing
6 oz thinly sliced corned beef
1/4 lb sliced swiss cheese
1 small can sauerkraut, well drained
1 beaten egg white
caraway seed
Set aside 1 c flour. In large bowl, mix remaining flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Stir in hot water and margarine. Mix in only enough of reserved flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface for 4 minutes. On a greased baking sheet, roll dough to a 14 x 10 in rectangle. Spread dressing down center 1/3 of dough. Top with layers of beef, cheese and sauerkraut.
Cut 1-inch wide strips in the dough to the sides of filling, out to dough edges. Alternating sides, fold strips at an angle across filling. Cover dough and place over a large shallow pan 1/2 filled with boiling water for 15 min. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with caraway seed. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until done. Cool slightly. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat to serve.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Try, try again

Dear Mom,
Tights are the Young Lady's enemy, but the neckline of the Tights-are-the-Enemy top I am knitting for her may be my enemy.
Attempt #1. Way too tight. I only needed to look at it to see that avoiding a loose, sloppy neckline resulted in one that might fit a 2 year old. Ripped.
Attempt #2. Slightly bigger needles and more stitches picked up. And this is what it looks like now.

Not even close. I am getting nervous. If I can't make it work I will have to start over. This is knit from the top down, so when I say start over, I mean START. OVER. Could I have miscalculated? Am I THAT far off?
After the second failure yesterday, I put Tights-are-the-Enemy in Time Out and knit some socks. Mindless knitting to boost my confidence and at the same time allow my mind to explore possible solutions to the neckline problem. Meanwhile, the socks were good company today at the orthodontist and while waiting to pick the Young Man up after school to take him to golf try-outs.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Dear Mom,
I think I am ready. The house is not perfect, but it is clean. I am going with the belief that too clean makes people uptight. No way would anyone be afraid to sit on our furniture, walk on the carpets or grab a snack and set their drink down. This house is a home. We live in every room here.
I even had time to dress up the guest room before My Hero's Mom and Dad arrive. I put tulips on the bedside table.

And chocolates. (p.s. thanks to Gina Whocanparallelpark for the chocolates!)And tied pretty ribbons around the towels.

All just they way I would like it if I were a guest here.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dear Mom,
I pause in the midst of a cleany frenzy known as My Inlaws Are Coming and Entire House Must Be Clean at the SAME TIME to bring you this:

Happy face = recipe success.
So, this afternoon, as I am perusing cookbooks, planning the meals I will serve to Grandma and Grandpa......

I find this. Same page. Opposite corner. The Young Lady's artwork. No doubt about it.

I'm making it anyway.



Yarn Bowls

Dear Mom,
I was reading one of my favorite blogs and got a neat idea for "someday". David was gone all day Sunday so "someday" arrived! We pulled out yarn, glue and balloons and made yarn bowls. The process is easy. Cut your yarn in lengths (the girls randomly cut), dip your yarn in glue and wrap your gluey yarn around a balloon.

This is a great project because it is an easy enough project that the girls took ownership of and did it themselves. Everything. But this is not one for the faint of heart. It's messy. It requires much hand washing and cleaning up afterwards.

We had to wait several days for the glue to dry.
But when the glue was dry and we popped the balloon--Voila! We now have a beautiful yarn um . . . . . .bowl?
A dear friend said, "That. Is. Soooooo. Ugly!!" Okay, so maybe a little more parental guidance next time and a lot of practice!!!! I'll let ya know!
Love, Wendy

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meg's Egg

Dear Mom,
Meg resumed her egg laying on the first day of Daylight Saving Time (Sunday). Her egg was the only one I found in the nest box that day. It was as if the other girls suspended production for the day to honor Meg's dainty little egg!

Meg's eggs are about half the size of the Orpington eggs. Golda's egg is my largest egg. (I can actually tell which hen each egg came from!)

Meg's eggs are so cute, I almost hate to crack them open! I substitute two or three of her eggs for each regular size egg in recipes. Meg has been quite feisty lately and very vocal. My dear neighbor mentioned to me that Meg was "talking to her" over the fence one day!
Love, Bonnie Jo

I felt like Dorothy.

Dear Mom,

We're not in Kansas- I mean Carmel- anymore.

That's how it felt yesterday to drive down Main Street and see this.
Disoriented, I parked Mr. Anderson. What used to be there, I wondered?

"What used to be there?" I asked the first person I saw. "I've lived here almost my whole life and I can't think what used to be there!"
"I haven't lived here my whole life," the smoker on the sidewalk said. "I don't know."

"What used to be there? I've lived here almost my whole life and I can't think what used to be there!" I ask the shop owner once I have reached my destination.
Are you ready?
The old Ace Hardware is gone. The IMMI building you once worked in? Gone. The "Little Shop"? MOVED!!! Apparently that was a house of Historical Significance and it is being relocated. But not the musty, dusty Ace Hardware building with its creaky wood floors, dim lighting, big store front windows and double entrances. For me, that building was the definition of a hardware store. Even though it hasn't been Ace Harware for a long, long time. Gone.
Now Mike Mulligan is at work. The plans, I've learned, are for a 4 story building with shops on the lower floors and apartments above. And underground parking I think the guy said, but at that point I pretty much couldn't take any more in. I was starting to feel dizzy because I was having an "old timers" conversation with a bearded grizzly guy and his boss. I do not consider myself old enough to have an old timers conversation. But I guess I am because clearly I was.
I know to expect changes. And keeping a city vital is better than allowing it to decay. I just didn't expect to lose everything familiar and see a whole new city put in its place.
p.s. Today is Gina Whocanparallelpark' s Birthday! Happy Birthday, my friend!
" A friend is, as it were, a second self." - Cicero

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

60 yard dash

Dear Mom,

Last week I had to run fast. Real fast. A heart pounding, adrenaline pumping kind of fast that ended up with everything okay, but I didn't know that when I was running. A neighbor needed help. And I ran.

My knee still sort of hurts, which has me thinking about running.

The last time I remember running FAST was on field day at College Wood Elementary when I won the 60 yard dash, beating Missy Hartman and becoming (on that day, at least) the Fastest Girl in the 6th Grade. That marked the beginning and end of my track career. In fact, my entire athletic career can be summed up in two sentences:

1. I won the 60 yard dash in 6th grade.

2. I was on the 9th grade volleyball team.

I've dropped these bombshells on my kids during "oh yeah, well your DAD is not the only one who can do sports stuff" and " I used to be a girl before I was a Mom" kinda moments. Not necessarily my finer Mom moments, but worth the stunned expressions on their faces.

Over the years, my running has been mostly errands, but on those rare, "I'll just run this over to my neighbor's" occasions, I realized that I had started running like..... you. You know. Like a MOM. When that cold reality flashed into my conscious, I had two nearly simultaneous thoughts: "ACK! Stop running! You are running like a Mom" and "You ARE a Mom."

So, last week. I am sure I ran alot faster in the 6th grade. And My Hero caught up to me even though I had a head start and he stopped to put on his coat. And probably what initially slowed me down (and hurt my knee) was the garage door limbo I had to do when the door wasn't going up as fast as I needed it to. And even in the 6th grade I don't think I could limbo. Last week I just ran as fast as I could. And I didn't even think about running like a Mom who is running fast.