Geraniums Mean Home. Geraniums Mean Love.

JpegThe memory of walking up the steps to my great-grandmother’s bungalow as a young girl is still vivid to me now.  Every summer the wide, cement porch railing would be filled with geraniums.  The lush greenery topped with clusters of brightly colored flowers waved in the warm air.  Geraniums mean welcome to me.

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I have a dream of going to Italy.  One day.  One day.  In all of the pictures I see of Italy, there they are.  The trailing, fiery red blooms hugging ancient stones and leading the way to the cucina door.  Geraniums.  Geraniums mean home to me.

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I gathered them at the farmer’s market years ago.  These are maybe five years old.  They have grown and become enormous specimens.  They have followed us on our adventures and hog the south window.  They wait for late spring like I do to be set back out on the porch.  Geraniums mean sit a spell and relax to me.

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Today is our wedding anniversary.  I heard him sneak out of the house at 4:00 am.  Past the geraniums that were still asleep, but I was not.  He drove all over town looking for a place that was open so he could bring me flowers before heading to work at five.  He says I have made this house a home.  Our forever home. I have filled it with flowers and unusual plants.  Poinsettias bloom red in the windows.  Towering aloes and tiny bamboo.  I want to make this house a home to him because he has made it home for me.

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As he approaches the door after a day of work and passes the pots of geraniums I hope they speak of home.  When guests arrive and marvel at their display of bright pinks and romantic reds, I hope they feel welcome.  One day we will travel to Italy and see the geraniums and think of ours at home.  We shall sit on the porch and count our blessings, sweet tea in hand, and watch as the geraniums reach for the sun and glimmer in the summer day.  And when I am passed, I hope the sight of geraniums reminds my grandchildren of climbing the steps to a place they were loved.  Geraniums mean love.

 

Bocce (a new way to play!)

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Bocce is typically played on a court measuring roughly ninety by thirteen feet.  The one I learned on was much smaller than this but the court really doesn’t matter, it turns out.

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Images of Italian men with grappa playing after dinner fill my mind.  They are portrayed with color and prose in many of the books I read.  I learned from an older Italian man one summer in the mountains.

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I never had a court so I always played out in the yard, where hills and trees and paths made the game more interesting.  At a family reunion one year my grandma played and was a beast at this game.  Through the woods, across a trampoline, my demure grandmother hooped and hollered and was extremely competitive.

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Our new landscape made for a fine new field for us to play on.  The teams are set (and often changed as we go) and each team has their designated balls.  There are four pairs of different balls, two sets are the same color.  We split into two teams.  The first person throws the smaller ball, called the Jack, and he/she goes first.  The object of the game is to get your team balls closest to the jack.  You can knock a closer ball away or simply surround the jack but this is all much easier said than done as a patch of leaves, a rolling hill, or a fence post may divert your professional aim.

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If one team has two of the closest balls than they get two points.  If they only get one closest than they get one point.  Make up a number to play to.  We played to six then switched around the teams.  I do not recall the exact rules from that summer twenty years ago but it doesn’t really matter.  The rules come with the game.  The main object is to have fun!

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This game is every bit as fun with two people as it is with eight. We found an old bocce set at a garage sale but they are available at sports stores.  We got one for Doug’s dad at Dick’s Sporting Goods one year.

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Now, get outside and have some fun!

The Long Farm Lunch

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They sat together comfortably at a long table in the vineyard under the trees.  The slight breeze was not menacing but sweet and lifted the warm air so that the scents of flowers all around could be inhaled.  Grapes hung heavy on the vines and the birds sang sweetly.  Friends laughed and poured another glass of wine.  Shared plates circled the table and the hours went by with companionship, rest, and food.  Crispy baguettes and fresh olive oil that taste of hay and summer.  Sliced ripe tomatoes and salty mozzarella……

These are the kind of things I read.  I read book after book of travel and ‘moving to Europe’ memoirs and drool incessantly over the pages then go back to my farm kitchen and do dishes.  The people in my books never do dishes.  They just eat.  It is amazing I am not a larger woman as I think I am perhaps part hobbit and love to eat…often.  My favorite memoirs take place in Europe because they do something that we here in America don’t do.  Rest.  On a workday.  With wine.  In the middle of the day.  Can I get an amen?

I grew up on peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches with chips and two small cookies.  Packed in my Muppets lunch box with a thermos of kool aide, lunch became less than exciting and to this day I do not eat peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwiches!  When my kids were little, packing lunches was my nemesis because they would not just eat sandwiches and my gourmet offerings could only go so far.  Still, planning lunches is difficult.  I can make the most elaborate dinners in minutes, never repeat a recipe, write book after book filled with delicious dinners but lunches…mais non.

I am doing well this year with my resolutions.  I am flossing regularly, doing yoga once a week, taking my daily herbal tinctures, and being nice.  I am adding to my list a new lunch routine.  I do hope you’ll join me.  Too often lunch is a rushed thing.  We just weren’t raised with any type of lunch knowledge save for back to back commercials of fast food.  So, here is my lunch plan.  I started it last week and it is lovely.  When I am at the shop, I am rushed so I still have to work on that, but on days I am home doing laundry and cleaning, I am Italian or French…sometimes Spanish.

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I prepare “peasant plates” of what my family calls mish mosh.  Romantic term; probably won’t make it into any of the books I read.  It is a bit of heavenly cheese, crackers, homemade bread, olives, homemade pickles, salad, leftovers, whatever inspires me.  Some dates, grapes, or some type of fruit.  I get bored very, very easily and one bowl meals make me wander off and forget to finish my food so the variety pleases me.

And now breaking all the rules.  I pour myself a half a glass of wine.  In the middle of the day.  I am tired of self inflicted rules.  I am tired of “appropriate”, who the heck made that up, expectations.  I did not have a sip of wine or alcohol until I was twenty seven years old.  Doug jokes that he drove me to drink.  My mother was quite serious and adamant that I would become an alcoholic if I had but one drink.  I believed that with all my being and religiously did not imbibe.  So when I got married and saw Doug had a beer and did not become an alcoholic I was shocked.  So, I had a bit of wine.  Lo and behold, I am not an alcoholic and that has taken me years of analyzing how many ounces of wine I put in the glass, how many did I have (usually one or less), how much did I have this week to see if I was becoming one.  Though it worked that I did not drink as a teenager or young adult, her plan has set silent boundaries in my head I seek to release.  I know my body and I know that a glass at lunch does not make me any less than brilliant.  I work much harder after a good rest.

So, great book in hand, dreaming of being in Italy, I read and nibble and sip.  Ahh, it is wonderful.  When all is said and done, I have only sat for thirty minutes but if feels like a two hour break for my mind and body.  When summer comes sneaking in, with all its busyness and tasks, I will sit beneath the Elm tree next to the lilacs and read, nibble, and sip my way to happiness…and maybe a few friends will come by and join me.  I’ll work on growing a vineyard.