Category: Family

Newborn, Natchez, Noshing, Nashville, November

Our family had a little something extra to be thankful for this year – my new nephew Jack Stephen. Jack is the first child of my brother. He’s named in memory of my Dad, Jack, and in honor of his maternal grandfather, Stephen. My brother was a confirmed bachelor who hit the jackpot in his mid-40’s when he met his wife, Gina. Smart, fun, beautiful with an incredible family to boot. Really none of us could have asked for more. So, this year for Thanksgiving, we loaded up the car, put the bikes on the rack and set out on the 10 hour drive to celebrate with Jeff and Gina’s family and new son down in Nashville. And celebrate we did.

Gina’s Aunt is a great hostess and great cook. As with many great cooks, they have friends who are equally good cooks adding to the fun. What a feast we had – a foodie’s heaven! Two turkeys, one oven roasted, one smoked, two kinds of stuffing – including Gina’s family recipe of an italian sausage and bread stuffing that was almost addicting.

More and more food kept appearing on the tables….a couple of different sweet potatoes, the most amazing layered jello salad, several versions of cranberries, I loved the cranberry ginger chutney. Wines of the day were Pine Ridge Chenin/Vognier, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Ponzi Pinot Noir. Blue Moon Honey Moon was available for the beer lovers. A bottle of Woodford Reserve was around. (any guesses what hubby and I were responsible for bringing). I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table – but it was equally impressive – two kinds of pumpkin pie, pecan pies. All so yummy.

Thank goodness with all that eating, we’d brought the bikes. Got in several good rides. A couple around Nashville in the Oak Hill/Belmont areas. But the most memorable was a ride along the Natchez Trace. Beautiful and challenging with the continual rolling hills.

Discovered that I’m a bit of a wimp riding over this famous bridge over Hwy 96. Heading out I stayed a decent distance from the edge. Coming back, a crosswind had blown up, and I was scared to death. Rode at almost the center of the road. Even once we got across and I got off the bike to take these pictures I never was able to stand next to the rail. Just a bit too freaked out.

The nice weather also provided an opportunity for a walk around Radner Lake.

Ended the weekend with a celebration of Mom’s birthday. A great trip, wonderful meeting Jack and spending time with family. Enough to wear a guy out!

Reflections on Halloween 2009

First off an observation……This blogger in training needs to do a better job of documenting things from start to finish. Sad to realize I didn’t take any in-process photos yesterday…the counter covered in newspaper, 5 pumpkins in varying states of being carved, piles of raw seeds, the patterns, carving tools, carved out chunks of pumpkin, my son and I covered in pumpkin gunk. Good times. Instead just have the final outcome of Halloween 2009 at our house.

We ended up with 6 carved pumpkins, one carved the day before at day care, the rest carved on Halloween morning at home. Final tally, I’d only carved 2, son did rest. I was responsible for all the pumpkin cleaning, pulling out the slimy guts, separating the seeds from the fleshy, gooey threads that connect them to the actual fruit. And boy, did we have seeds.

Son mentioned at the day care, they’d roasted the seeds two ways, with salt and then with cinnamon sugar. Then voted on favorite, where he voted “BOTH”. I’ve only ever done salt – somewhat evolving that to a savory garlic and herb version. Ended up splitting the seeds to to pans – on the right is the normal salt version, left is with a small bit of butter, brown sugar and common pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger). Would have to agree and vote “both”!

Trick or Treat in our town was from 5-7:30. My 10yo son had a friend spending the night, both going as versions of Star Wars clones. This was going to be the first year he trick or treated without parents, so I was a little worried, but we’d laid out the ground rules, they knew which streets they couldn’t cross, where they could go. A bit after 5pm, armed with flashlights, glow sticks and candy bags they set off. The boys were back well before 7:30 – first to grab additional coats, and later cuz they were tired of walking.


I donned my Cruella costume and the dog put on his Robin costume. We had maybe 40 trick-or-treaters. Lots of comments about the pumpkins from the parents, a few little ones nervous by the talking decorations and spooky music, but overall a good time. No dalmatians tho’, which would have been kinda fun!

Today it’s more or less back to normal, Halloween decorations packed away, pumpkins remain, and now time to tackle the masses and masses of leaves in the yard!

Growing up in *the* Garden

In my grand mental list of possible Blog topics, I have “write about the Missouri Botanic Garden”, and “tell people about the great plant database MOBOT provides”. However, as I looked through pictures last evening, I realized that I had a photo essay of my son growing up within The Garden.

The Garden, with emphasis upon “the”, is how I always thought of the botanic garden. I was a member, frequently took classes, and made a point of trying to visit in all seasons each year for inspiration. A gem in the city center of St Louis, MO. The Missouri Botanic Garden or MOBOT, along with the zoo, Forest Park/The Muny, the City Museum and a few garden centers/nurseries are the things I miss about living in greater St. Louis. While I frequently say it is not a place I want to live again, these are places I will go back to visit again and again over the years.

However, the real beauty and value of MOBOT is the draw for the both the gardener and non-gardener alike, young or old. Visit any June weekend, and you will see bridal party after bridal party doing photo shoots around the grounds; families walking the grounds, photographers looking for the perfect shot, couples strolling arm in arm oblivious to their surroundings. A hodge podge of people there for a hodge podge of reasons.

We first visited when my son was not quite two, and moved to Milwaukee when he was 8. Over our many visits, he developed some favorite areas of the garden. The Kemper Center was a first favorite. This area with it’s test garden, urban gardens, expanse of perennials is the spot within The Garden to bring the grandeur and splendor of the whole botanic garden down to the scale of the typical home landscape. It provides a help desk for both the homeowner frustrated with lawn care or the avid gardener with tomato blight. But for a child it also provides some great interactive fountains to captivate the young ones and draw them into the garden.

The grouping of stone sheep became a favorite photo stop on our visits. Funny how in the first visit, he is on the small sheep, but on the New Years Day visit with his big sis, had progressed to the full size version.

As he grew, other areas of the garden began to draw my son. The Victorian maze was a must visit spot.

The koi in the Japanese garden with their giant mouths brought smiles to both of us. And a requirement that I came prepared with quarters for the fish food machine!

The advantage to me was I never had to beg him to visit the garden. If I needed a bit of inspiration, a dose of beauty, or just a calming walk through this familiar place, at any age, my son jumped at the chance to accompany me. And this was before they built the actual “children’s garden”. A little bit of icing on the cake.

Finding this photo journey of my son’s growth while we lived in St Louis has been great. Even better this reminder of him with his beloved “Papa”, my Dad, who died from prostate cancer in December 2006, 5 months to the day after this photo was taken. One of the last days together before we knew how sick he was. How appropriate the day was spent in one of our favorite places!

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