Weekend Snapshots 46


The primula my mother-in-law brought from Scotland to England to America is blooming again. This humble little flower made its way to me from across the ocean wrapped in a napkin stashed in my mother-in-law’s handbag. It’s held a spot of honor in every garden of each of the three houses we’ve lived in here in Charlottesville. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve divided this sentimental favorite to share with friends…


In the evening I picked up my daughter and three of her friends after their second ever quartet practice. I laughed during the entire car ride home as the young musicians discussed their plans to get rich busking on the Downtown Mall.

“Whose case should we use to collect money?”

“Definitely mine,” said the cellist, “It’s the biggest.”

“Yeah, mine is way too small,” agreed the flautist, “It would fill up with money way too fast and we’d have to keep emptying it all the time, which would be a pain.”


Dream big, girls. Dream big!

Later that evening we had family movie night.


Little Mr. Muffet sitting on his tuffet, watching The Lord of the Rings.

We’ve been watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of several weeks. Though Tolkien wrote his great epic in the 30s and 40s about hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards, it’s uncanny how many parallels can be drawn between the trilogy’s war between the forces of good and evil and current events. Trump, Daesh, the refugee crisis, the environmental crisis…they’re all in there. I found this gorgeous edition for my daughter who has only read The Hobbit, and still has the pleasure of reading the trilogy ahead of her. The rest of us are lined up to re-read them when she’s done!





MarieBette Café & Bakery and their brioches feuilletées are one of the many reasons I love living in Charlottesville:



There are only about two and a half days in any given year when I want to be outside, and Saturday was one of them!


My husband took the kids to play frisbee golf:


…while I had fun getting my hands dirty in the garden! I transplanted a few things, planted some seeds…


and finally finished the oyster shell path I began last year! It only took three more 50 lb bags of crushed oyster shells and the last dregs of my will to carry on. If you see me hobbling around clutching my back like an old woman, you’ll know why.


Winter Jewels Hellebores are one of the very first plants I put in my new garden. These flowers are so great! They bloom crazy early and then continue on for months, untouched by deer, insects, late snows and other gardening catastrophes. They self seed and are easy to divide too. img_2969

In the evening we all met up again for dinner at Smoked, a bustling barbecue restaurant in the newly opened Piedmont Place in Crozet. There was a rather long wait for a table, so we spent a lovely hour at Over the Moon Bookstore.

I’ve been trapped in a loveless marriage with Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall for what seems like an eternity, but has really probably been less than a year. I thought I’d step out on Wolf Hall to have a meaningless fling with Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl, but I’m not enjoying that book nearly as much as I thought I would. So now I’m condemned to slog through TWO books before starting some of the books I bought at Over the Moon. I was discussing this with the bookseller and she told me she didn’t understand this at all:

“Life is too short. I give a book ten pages at the most, and if I’m not hooked, I just stop reading it.”

Do you feel obliged to finish a book once you’ve started? Even if you hate it?



Spotted on my way to book group brunch…


Did I mention how much I love living in Charlottesville?img_2981

This month my book group read my sister’s novel Tiger Pelt! I artfully posed some copies on the table only to realize with bitter disappointment once I got home – you can’t see the books!!!img_2984-2

You may not be able to spot the books in the photo, but you can find your own copy of Annabelle Kim’s Tiger Pelt online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. It’s a great pick for book clubs! No loveless marriages here…I promise it will move and inspire you. Readers of this blog may recognize some of the events in Tiger Pelt, because the boy’s story is inspired by my father’s life story. If you read it, I would love to hear what you think.

After I got back home, I began to redecorate for spring:

img_2987My daughter and I gave her guinea pigs’ pad a new look for spring too:


I feel that it’s still missing a certain je ne sais quoi…A seagrass wallpaper to pull in a little more texture? Some ambient lighting perhaps? Some cushions for a pop of color? A chaise longue in the corner? Nothing but the finest for these round-the-clock industrial poop factories:




I need therapy

There are many ways to deal with life when the going gets rough…

The hardiest among us can simply:

img_8048Being of the non-hardy variety myself, I find that eating a cookie can help:


Eat your heart out!

Sometimes animals are the best therapy of all. At the university where I work, various groups will often hire a petting zoo to roll onto campus to alleviate stress during exam periods. The students abandon their books and fly out of the libraries and dorms as soon as they catch wind of the fact that the animals have arrived…Wouldn’t you?



“It followed her to school one day…”

Even my grumpy colleague can’t help but crack a smile when the petting zoo arrives:


Of course we have our own cute and cuddly therapy animals at home:



What’s that you say?! You mean you don’t find Darwin the mudskipper cute and cuddly?



Are you SURE?!

My friend Tina is a child psychologist. Her trademark tools of the trade are her therapy guinea pigs. They earn their keep by going to work with her every day. For years she’s been telling me that guinea pigs make great pets. If you’ve been following this blog, you may recall that my daughter was pining for a more exotic variety of pet. First she wanted goats, which I considered getting for her for a hot minute before coming to my senses. Then she decided she wanted to have ducklings. I was about to get her the ducklings, when I discovered hawks and foxes in our backyard. Remembering my friend’s advice, I finally convinced my daughter that guinea pigs would make far better pets. I made absolutely no move to actually get them for her however.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day we all had a day off from school and work, and I had scheduled dentist appointments for the kids. As we left the dentist’s office my son asked me if we could make a quick run to the pet store so he could pick up some marine salt for Darwin, the mudskipper…(Don’t all these stories start so innocently)?

My daughter was in a foul mood, having just had a recalcitrant baby tooth yanked out of her head and sealants placed on her molars ahead of the braces both she and her brother are scheduled to get next month. At the pet store, she grabbed me by the hand and dragged me to the back corner of the pet store. And there they were…two unfathomably adorable baby guinea pigs. Obviously, they came home with us.

My crabby girl perked right up. img_2640img_2635img_2655

We played with them all day long. They were so cute, my daughter and I could only tear our eyes away from them to look at each other with these expressions on our faces:

Not everyone in our household finds them to be so irresistible:



“Aaaaagh! Take it! Take it! Take it!”

Now when I get home from work, my daughter takes me by the hand and says, “Come. Let’s have some guinea pig therapy.”


And it works like a charm.

Now I totally get why Tina took those guinea pigs to work every day…because as everybody knows: therapists need therapy too!