Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Comes to Our Yard

I went out in the front yard after church today.  I'm sorry to say, that's something I don't do all that often (except to walk from the front door to the car, and from the car to the front door).  It seems I spend most of my time at work or doing chores inside the house or running errands or going to meetings.

Our mountain spring started a little bit early this year.  Except for a small snowfall two weeks ago, it has been unseasonably warm.  When I drove home from church around 2:30 this afternoon, it was 80 degrees out.  So I probably missed all the first signs of spring, but I was delighted to find there were still several patches of color and greenery to enjoy:

I don't know what these white flowers are, but they are adorable, like a little bunch of tiny daisies.  This bunch was nestled at the foot of one of our tall pines.

I know what these are!  As a child, I spent a lot of time sitting in fields of clover dotted with dandelion plants.  We used to pick the yellow dandelion blossoms and use our fingernails to cut a slit in the hollow stems (which oozed a thick, milky sap), and then thread another stem through the hole, and repeat the process over and over again until we had a long, lovely dandelion chain to wear around our wrist or neck or even as a floral crown.

Even better than the blossoms were when the flowers drooped and dried up, and out popped the feathery seed balls!  Who hasn't made a wish and then blown on these little puffs, watching hundreds of seed parachutes float gently through the air and out of sight to new vistas?  As the picture shows, our windy weather has already stripped most of the dandelion seeds and sent them on their way.

I've never noticed these little fern plants in our yard before.  There are several patches here and there.  I think ferns are my favorite type of greenery, because they are so delicate-looking.  Besides, it's a family thing.  My Grandma Haley's name is Alta Fern, my sister's name is Karla Fern, my niece's name is Genevieve Fern, and I also have an Aunt Fern (one of my dad's eight older sisters)!

I suppose that I should point out that we do not have a typical American yard with a lawn and flower gardens and so forth.  Most of us who live here in the White Mountains simply allow our yards to go "au naturale."  Due to the high acidity of fallen pine needles, lawns don't do very well under the pine trees. 

This bush was in the yard, against the fence, when we bought the house 19 years ago.  I'm sure it has always put out these purple flowers, but I surely can't remember ever seeing them before (I'm so unobservant, I'd be a terrible witness to a crime...).  Does anyone have a clue what type of bush this is?  It might be some kind of lilac, but I am no horticulturist, obviously!

Need proof of my cluelessness?  Remember this bush that annoyed me so much that I thought often about cutting it out?  Until last fall when I discovered it was producing delicious little red apples! 

Ed meant to prune it into an actual tree shape, but he didn't get to it in time.  However, he did cut back the branches of the pine tree that had been blocking the apple tree's growth and sunlight.  Today I found that the tree had recently been covered with apple blossoms, still clinging to the branches despite the new green leaves, so it looks like we may get an even better crop of apples this autumn!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday Cookies

Dylan (age 14) and his tray of cookies.

Yesterday Dylan came home from church with a hankering for peanut butter cookies.  So we looked up some recipes that used ingredients we had on hand and chose a simple one.  It was quite impromptu.

I had other things to do, so I turned Dylan loose in the kitchen. He has never been very interested in baking or cooking of any kind. Even slapping together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich requires more energy than he cares to exert most of the time.

Besides, Jacob was always the family chef. Dylan's older brother loves to tinker in the kitchen, trying out new recipes and surprising us with his culinary delights. We've missed that since he left on his mission almost 17 months ago!

Dylan was almost shocked by his success with this batch of cookies.  They came out perfectly!  He has made no-bake chocolate cookies (cocoa, oatmeal, peanut butter) on several occasions, but he's never felt they turned out very well.  This time he was flush with success on his first try with a new recipe!

Mmmm, good!

Ordinarily Dylan is camera-shy and I have to plead to get him to pose for me.  This time, though, he was happy to oblige me.  He wanted me to attach these pictures to the email I sent his missionary brother last night, so Jacob will know there's another baker in the family!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Evening in Paris

Last week I spent an evening visiting Paris.  See?  There I am in the picture, standing outside a cute little bistro with outdoor seating and everything.

 And I got to see the Eiffel Tower, as well!  Isn't it beautiful?

Okay, so I wasn't really in France.  Last Saturday was Prom Night and I had the pleasure of chaperoning the event.  The decorations were wonderful and the 268 young people who attended had a great time.

Once the Prom was in full swing, I sat outside the "Bistro" here and watched the kids dance and visit (and kept an eye out for those whose formalwear was a bit too revealing.  I heard 17 students were asked to leave due to dress code violations).  I walked around now and then, but by sitting in between strolls I managed to get home without any blisters from 4 hours in heels.

The hors d'oeuvres were yummy.  There was a chocolate fountain with lots of bite-sized goodies to dunk in it, and there was also a variety of little French-type pastries, like cream puffs.

I thought this tray of tiny quiche-type desserts was adorable.  So colorful and fun, and tasty, too!

The banners, scepters, and crowns for the Prom King and Queen were displayed on the voting table.  Students voted by placing a colored marble in the glasses bearing the names of their choices for King and Queen.

Our principal, Eric Harmon, seemed relaxed before Prom began.  That's his wife, Kim, giving him bunny ears (or horns).  Kim is my friend as well as my classroom aide.  She's quite a jokester!

These three young ladies are students of mine who arrived early.  They told me they had a great time!

Another beautiful young lady.  Garet is one of the Laurels in our Young Women youth group at church.  Her date was on a bathroom break.

I thought this couple was cute.  They spent most of the evening seated here, deep in conversation.

At one point, a young lady on her way to the dance floor plopped these shoes down in front of me and asked, "Could you watch these for me, please?  Just for 5 seconds?"  She was gone for 15 minutes, of course!

Overall, the students were quite displeased with the disc jockey (I wasn't very impressed, either).  Nonetheless, they made the most of the evening.  At one point they got this conga line going and clearly had a blast!  Notice the balloons above the dance floor.  They were dropped after the Prom King and Queen were announced.

At the end of the night, the kids danced among the balloons (those they hadn't stomped), and most of them stayed right up until it ended at 11:30.  Kim and I agreed that the prettiest dress of the night was the white and aqua gown worn by the girl in the center of the photo above.  I love how modest it is, without sacrificing beauty and elegance.  Her date, Rusty (a good friend of my son Jacob), told me later that she made it herself!  I am impressed!

I came away from Paris with these souvenirs: a chocolate Eiffel Tower on a stick and an Eiffel Tower key chain.  Classy!  Yes, the napkin gives it away.  The Prom was actually held at the Hon-Dah resort on the nearby Apache revervation.  But the spirit there was definitely ooh-la-la!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Concerning Hobbits...

...and Dwarves...and Wizards...and Elves...

Ah, yes, the Elves.  My favorite beings in all of Middle Earth.  I love them so much, in fact, that I am writing a trilogy of my own featuring Tolkien's Elves.  I haven't had much time to devote to this writing project since I remarried, but someday I hope to plunge back in and finish.

When I was young, I used to illustrate my own stories, but that was many years ago.  I never seem to have time for the sketching that I used to enjoy so much.  However, two years ago I got the itch to create a drawing of Legolas, one of Tolkien's Elves who features prominently in my tale.

So I bought a sketch pad and charcoal pencil and set to work, wondering if I still had the ability to bring a drawing to life.  I worked on this sketch (below) for several weeks, but I think it came out pretty well.  It features a scene from the first chapter in the second book.

"Wet Legolas" by Mary Carter

Here's an excerpt from that scene:

Keeping one arm around me, Legolas struck out for the slanted bench of smooth stone I favored.  He settled himself on the deepest edge, so the water continued to swirl around his shoulders, and pulled me up alongside him.  Then he pushed the long, clinging strands of wet hair back from my face and studied me thoughtfully.

“You are troubled,” he observed quietly.

"Melethwen and Legolas" by Mary Carter

Emboldened by my success with the first sketch, I went on to do a second drawing (above) featuring Legolas with Melethwen, the Elvish heroine of the trilogy.  And yes, Melethwen is my alter-ego.  Perhaps you have wondered where the name of my blog came from?  Now you know!

I'm not nearly as pleased with this sketch as I was the first (their embrace seems too stiff to be natural), but I guess it's not bad for a first effort after decades of no practice.

"Legolas" by Amelia Snow

This final drawing is precious!  One of my Beehives found it when her family moved and she had to pack up her bedroom.  Knowing of my love for the Elves of Middle Earth, she presented it to me (and gave me permission to post it on my blog).  I was very touched by her gesture.  She says she drew it a long time ago.  She must have been pretty young at the time (she's only 13 now), so I am quite impressed by the quality of her work!  She is a kindred spirit, who not only draws but writes stories as well!