Saturday, June 30, 2007

narcolepsy and indian food

That is all I've got. I can't wake up. I am indulging my own sleep addiction while my mother is here. I got up at ten thirty. I was back in bed by two for a nap with baby. It is nine forty three, and I'm ready for bed again. That or mint juleps.

I cooked tonight. With cookbooks. We had bindi masala (okra), cabbage with red lentils, aloo chaat (potatoes), masala naan, parathas with herbs and paneer, and homemade cilantro, mint, and chili chutney. Wish there were pictures but honestly the kitchen was too messy. I even had spices on my glasses. Ella was assigning various portions of naan to make sure that she was going to get seconds.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

stay at home mama

We stayed home today. We seldom do, but I want the kids to know what an old fashioned summer actually feels like. To be honest, Ella said a few days ago that she was tired. I needed to clean out the refridgerator and scrub behind and inside the toilet. And behind and inside everything else we own.

Ri arrived in the late afternoon. In order to describe my mother I'll tell you what she brought with her. Three pounds of calamari, salmon, halibut, farm greenbeans, squash, cantaloupe, savoy cabbages, regular cabbages, organic butter, a few pounds of kimchi, lavender from her garden, a vintage amelia earheart suitcase, Julia Child's "My Life in France", a big Mexican cookbook, two pairs of "trousers" in case of particularly sporting events, wine, and a pint of whisky because she has never in her life had a mint julep.

Little John fell asleep at the dinner table tonight. The poor baby doesn't know how to take a proper nap if we aren't on the go..and in his carseat. He was trying to eat, but his eyes were closing and then he was laughing at himself.


dr, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

bill nye was not there today

bill nye was not there today, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
Today we went to the Danville Science Center and to The Virginia Musuem of Natural History. Not bad for a day trip. John had a business meeting in Danville tonight, so we spent the day with him before dropping him off at his hotel. I've never been to either town. Ella had built up the Danville Science Center to the point of myth because of the blurb on Bill Nye the Science Guy. It didn't fail her. They have a modern interactive building, and then there are two large galleries in their vintage train station. Behind the train station is a butterfly garden. The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is a striking building in a quaint old fashioned town. In the atrium they have a model of allosaurus as well as a fourteen million year old balaen whale. Ella and I have been talking about fossils, and she was having a hard time understanding how a fossil is removed from the rock. Today we saw a working paleontology laboratory in which they were removing the skull of a whale from a rock found in Caroline County, Virginia.
I'm the back road queen so we took the southern route back to our mountains. That piedmont was scorching today. We took 58 to 57 to 8. I've always wanted to go to Woolwine. We crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway at Floyd and floated home.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Lonesome Sisters

Put your ear to this. Where have I been?

Sunday, June 24, 2007


campy, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

We camped for the weekend at Claytor Lake State Park. I'm so exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open, but it was nearly perfect. We hadn't camped since Ella was nine months old. The kids slept like logs, and daddy plugged himself into Coriolanus on his ipod all night. Sleeping to Shakespeare.

Ella is so happy being out in the woods. John, too, as long as his daddy didn't get more than six inches away.


play, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Cecropia - Hyalophora cecropia

moth, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Attributes of Hyalophora cecropia Family: Wild Silk Moths ( Saturniidae )Subfamily: Giant Silkworm Moths ( Saturniinae )Identification: Body is red with a white collar and white bands on the abdomen. Wings are dark brown with white hairlike scales giving a frosted appearance; forewings are red at the base. Crescent spots and the area outside the postmedian line are red on all wings. Life history : Females lay rows of 2-6 eggs on both sides of the leaves of small host trees or shrubs. Eggs hatch in 10-14 days. Young caterpillars feed in groups on leaves; older caterpillars are solitary. The cocoon is attached along its full length to a twig; to escape predation by rodents and birds, the cocoon is usually constructed in a dark, protected area. Flight : One flight from March-July in most of the range; two flights in the Midwest, from May-early June and then 2 weeks later. Wing span : 4 5/16 - 5 7/8 inches (11 - 15 cm). Caterpillar hosts: Various trees and shrubs including box elder (Acer negundo), sugar maple (Acer saccharinum), wild cherries and plums (Prunus), apples (Malus), alder and birch (Betulaceae), dogwoods (Cornus), and willows (Salix). Adult food: Adults do not feed. Habitat: Successional habitats in many areas including urban and suburban environments. Range: Nova Scotia and Maine south to Florida; west across southern Canada and the eastern United States to the Rocky Mountains. Conservation: Not usually required. NatureServe Global Status : G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. Management needs: None reported.


draw, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

campsite mandala

campsite mandela, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

ella and mama

ella and mama, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I never post pictures of myself, but I've been intruiged by other people doing the self portrait challenge. Generally, I just find myself repulsive in pictures, but I'm working on it.

rabbit, rabbit

rabbit, rabbit, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Doesn't this girl look like she needs some goats and chickens to take care of. I've been slightly riled up about moving lately. More in my mind than anything else. I keep seeing an old white house. A porch. Floors made out of real wood. It is not so much that I want a bigger or better house, just one that seems like home.

John was talking to a waitress at Gillies the other day about my dream of goat cheese and chickens. Meredith wrote down the title of a book and gave him the slip of paper. Later that same night I was poking around on the internet about Barbara Kingsolver's new book "Animal,Vegetable, Miracle". In the morning I saw that slip of paper on the kitchen counter with her book recommendation----"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle".

This is Ella at Cypress' birthday party. The kids played a bat game, waded in Sinking Creek, and had an all around great morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


You are leaden, train
yellow boxcar and cargo
what a giant pain.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


ella, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

john and mama

john and mama, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

the queen of everything

the queen of everything, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

At five Ella suddenly embraces all the things that have been around her for years, fairies, Madeline, even her own dress-ups, her own imagination.

Monday, June 18, 2007


hat, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

frisbee halo

frisbee halo, originally uploaded by ellajohn.
On sunday, father's day, John had to leave for a trip to Rutgers to learn about bio landfills. After our al fresco brunch and post party clean up Ella settled onto the couch to watch Rossini's ''Barbieri di Siviglia,''on Great Performances at the Met. The whole thing. When it was ending she was hoping that another opera was coming on. Yes, there were subtitles, but the child can't read yet.


FloydFest6, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sometimes a vacation is just a short drive down a two land road. Anne and Grace are joining us from Oregon, and it looks like it going to be a fine time down on the farm.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

newborn pyromaniac

fire, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

father's day flambe

Ten fourteen and John has packed the kids out to Pandapas for a guided "snake tour". I'm sorry to miss that one. Apparently Rudi the reptile guy always catches a few. I've cooked a hundred meatballs---chicken, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame, and panko. I've set up a "sangria bar" and the grill is on the front porch for the chicken skewers. Someone at John's office was a little worried we were having tofu burgers. I've also made noodles, tea eggs, peanut sauce, and a big salad with crunchy bok choy, steamed broccoli, romaine, carrots, turnip, chow mein noodles, and a gingery viniagrette. For sangria I have peach puree, apples, kiwis, pineapple, bananas, tangerines, lemons. Oh, for dessert--fruit skewers.

John is in charge of the bonfire so luckily I got him The Dangerous Book for Boys by Gonn and Hal Iggulden. And we called the fire chief.

Back to cooking.

Friday, June 15, 2007

tie one on

tie one on, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

playground head

playground head, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


jbp, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I think that this looks like a Gainsborough painting, if Gainsborough painted a small boy with a sippy cup wearing a Greatful Dead tshirt.


Another day under the pine tree. I had the heat pump repaired today, and the repairman was nice enough to remove a wolf spider the size of John's hand from the basement. With a coupon, the spider removal and heat pump repair was twenty four dollars. I haven't seen a bargain like that in quite a while.

I went to town tonight to a meeting about the preschool. It seems to be moving forward, but it is tough to get seven mothers together anywhere in the vicinity of bedtime. John was practically having a panic attack at the prospect of getting the littles bathed, storied, and into bed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


treehouse, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

I want this treehouse. And the little people and the branch furniture. I may be forty one, but I know what I like to play with.

mountain hikers

mountain hikers, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Another day of staying at home! It is hard to believe how well five and one almost two can play together. At one point today during the building of a sandbox moat John overturned the water table onto himself and got a tidal wave across his whole body and up his nose. Here he is in outfit number three of the day.

Ella has been playing faeries under the pine tree, and John is generally the sandbox man. They seem happy with their small lives.

hauling some gravel

hauling some gravel, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


magnolia, originally uploaded by ellajohn.


mister, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

tree climber

tree climber, originally uploaded by ellajohn.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

seven days later

My week in the country is coming to an end. I'm packing up the piles of little laundry and stacking the books. I'm dying to download some pictures...the stag beatle, the black widow spider. One would think I'd been on a National Geographic bug tour. Today I went shopping. Alone. I looked at shoes, clothes, you name it. Wow, clothes are expensive. It was absolutely strange to be in a mall by myself. When I got home the kids were listening to opera and playing dressup in a dim, incense shrouded living room.

I read a book this week. Julie and Julia, My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. She cooks all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of Frecnch Cooking in one year. Now I want to buy a set of Julia Child DVDs. I have the book. I doubt that my vegetarian husband could bear too many of the recipes, but perhaps we can take on the fish and vegetables.

More stories and pictures to come.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

going to the zoo

I wanted to do something for Ella today. I had considered taking her to the Children's Museum in Richmond, but parts of it were closed today. This morning I offered her some choices and she picked the zoo. Then the earache came back and we headed out to the nearest Patient First. She was scared to be seeing a new doctor, but that turned out fine and she just has a fluid filled eardrum--no infection. In the meantime, the day is really heating up. We got to the zoo in the early afternoon and it was mighty hot for us mountain folk. Hand feeding the giraffes made up for the sweltering weather. Baby was quite the fusser and wanted to be carried instead of walking or riding in the jogger stroller. He liked the monkey's and can do a good imitation.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

once again

I just lost a short post about succotash and death by sore throat.

The children and are off taking the rest cure at my mothers. It is a very southern style bed and breakfast with starched white sheets, homemade biscuits, and a nightly whipoorwill.

I'm working on the mission statement for The Little School while the baby is napping on the sofa. Ella was very excited about going to work with my mother today. She is a nanny and her young charges are Ella's friends. I'm going to make Ina Garten's turkey meatloaf today and little red potatoes with viniagrette. Then John and I are going to take his trucks out to to a shady spot in the gravel driveway and move some earth and build some roads.

Friday, June 01, 2007

throat coat

Today is day six of the worst sore throat of my life. I've been to the doctor and she deemed it a virus. Two or three ibuprofen and something hot to drink every four hours are keeping me alive, but this bug has ruined a weeks worth of good things, including my forty first birthday. Last night John took me to Mountain Lake for the night. What could have been a lovely little trip was more of a sanatorium visit, a full nights sleep without children waking me up. Ella's last day of preschool was a bit of a blur, but I'm glad that John's parents were here to take the children for a few days.

We have come to the point at which we need a codeword for "I am too sick to take care of the children."

For the first time in my life that Throat Coat tea just isn't viscous and sickly sweet ENOUGH.