Monday, April 23, 2012

Picture Parade: Chess, Anyone?

Several weeks in  December and January were spent emptying my mother's (and my) homestead because we finally had a buyer for it.  Nobody had lived there for over a year, but it had only been on the market for a few weeks when, shockingly, we received the providential call that would lead to a sale!  

Unfortunately, being my mother's only child, and the only willing relatives, it fell to my family to completely clean out four floors (and sixty years) of accumulated junk memories, keepsakes, and precious possessions.  Apparently, my mother, grandmother and grandfather didn't throw much away.

This is not to say that there were not many treasures to be found.  It's just that it was backbreaking, arduous, thankless work that mainly fell squarely upon the shoulders of my husband and my two sons at home, Brian and Conor.  However, both Brian and Conor will each tell you, if you ask them separately, that he did most of the work while the other goofed off.  To their credit, though, each of them virtually gave up their social lives and sports activities for weeks, and they really did work their tails off to get the house cleaned out by the deadline.

Long story longer:  the chessboard in the picture below was purchased in Juarez, Mexico, in 1982 by my grandparents.  Back then it used to be safe to cross into Mexico, and the shopping there was a real experience for a Northeast girl like myself.  The chessboard is pink and tan marble, and they also purchased a set of marble chess pieces which, unfortunately, did not resurface during the attic excavation.

The chess pieces themselves came from a complete set of Renaissance Chess Figures manufactured by E.S. Lowe that were fairly popular in the mid-20th century.  (You can find them all over ebay.)  The box and board were flimsy, water-stained cardboard, but the pieces were intact, and there was an inscription in my mother's handwriting recording the year bought.  Amazing that I spent the first 18 years of my life living in that house, and never once before did I come across that chess set.

It was a marriage made in heaven.  Also salvaged was an octagonal pedestal table my grandmother always kept in her living room which was almost the perfect size for the chess board.  I've long dreamed about purchasing one of those pricey chess tables, but instead this was the ideal sentimental substitute.

Overnight, interest in chess flared in my house.  Chess challenges were taking place day and night.  And naturally, the younger girls took an interest in the game:  What is this piece called?  How does it move?  Will you teach me to play?

While they were first beginning to learn, they would challenge each other to some very interesting games using their own rules.  And sometimes they would just freewheel it.

I love the pattern Natalie created here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Spring Portraits

I had hopes that I would be able to meet with an old friend this weekend to shoot some candid shots of the girls.  She's an old pro with a camera, whereas I can't even seem to keep my camera battery charged.  If I didn't have my cell phone, none of you would know what my kids look like.

Sadly, circumstances prevented her from keeping our appointment until June.  WHAT?!?!  I am far too impatient to wait.  I had the twins with me for almost two hours at a beautiful location; it would have been a travesty to waste such an opportunity.  I figured out how to charge the battery, threw their dresses in a bag, and foom!  We were off and running.

We got off to a fairly good start; there was a flowering dogwood with low branches that looked promising.  Noelle, as usual, wasn't very camera shy and was fairly cooperative.

Then we got some really good ones.

Natalie, on the other hand, couldn't seem to muster up a pleasant face.  
I had specifically chosen a shady spot and faced them east, away from the sun, which is what usually causes them to squint and frown.  

But this watery, worried, half-smile was the best she could manage.

That's a little better.

This one is nice.  Too bad I cut off the top of your head.

Of course, she smiled when she said, " I want to marry a banana."

And naturally, they were both happy as can be when I gave them the green light to climb the tree.

To be continued...

Picture Parade: Inaugural Dinner

First dinner around our new dining-room set.

My, how grown-up these young ladies seem to me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Picture Parade: Noelf.

Sing it with me:  Dum, da, dum... Link, he come to town, come to save the Princess Zelda.

Noelle loves Link almost as much as Conor.

My living room isn't untidy, it's lived-in.  If I stopped to clean up the mess before I snapped a picture, I probably wouldn't take another picture until 2022.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Picture Parade: Straw Poll

Five out of six sisters agree that making a "straw fort" is the most fun ever.  We got four bales of straw so we can try out a "no-till, no-dig" method of planting potatoes.  You would have thought we put up a  backyard jungle gym - they were out there for hours.  Remind me again why I bother buying toys?

Hmm.  They don't look like they're having that much fun in the picture, do they?

Picture Parade: Your Face Will Freeze That Way


This is Regina's Snooty Face.  Just say, "Regina, make a snooty face!" and this is what she'll fire at you.

Whatever you do, don't ask her for the Death Stare.

Picture Parade: No, You Can't Live Up There

Natalie asked me today if we have any spare scraps of wood so she can build a fort in the tree and live there.