Julie A. Swanson

Purer and Purer Streams…

Month: June, 2013

A Couple of My Favorite Things that I Need like I Need Another Hole in the Head


The hydrangeas behind our house are going crazy right now. One of them is sprouting blooms of many different colors–blue, lavender, pink, everything in between, all on the same bush… The color pictured here is amazing, kind of a light periwinkle. I love color, bright colors, pastel colors, blues, greens; it’s the first thing I consider when I shop for clothes or plant something or decorate or buy or make anything at all. Such a simple thing, what color a thing is, but I keep looking at this periwinkle and thinking how amazing it is and how happy it makes me just to look at it. Had to share.

Since my frog salt-and-pepper shakers just happen to show in this picture (frogs are another one of my favorite things, ever since I was a little kid), I will share the story of them as well.

I first saw these at the Monticello. My brother and his family were visiting and wanted to go see Monticello (which is another of my favorite things! I could never get tired of going there. Each docent tells you another fascinating detail about the life of Thomas Jefferson), so I went with them. While waiting for the time of our tour, we walked through the gift shop. I saw these frogs and picked them up and stood there deliberating about whether or not to buy them, but then I heard the voice of my dad in my head, and it said, “You need those salt and pepper shakers like you need another hole in your head!” And so I was like, Yeah, you’re right, Dad, what a waste of money, what a foolish idea, I don’t really need another set of salt and pepper shakers. And I put them down.

That Dad voice in my head can be a real party pooper. He has a bunch of sayings, very practical, grounding ones.

Well, skip ahead a year and Steve and I are on vacation, and I am in another gift shop, and I see the same frog salt and pepper shakers. I pick them up again and I hear my dad again, “You need those like you need another…” Only this time, I talked back to him–in my head of course. I said, “You’re right, Dad, I don’t need them. But I want them, and I am going to buy them.” And I did.

They might just be stupid salt and pepper shakers, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them, if only because they’re a symbol of my victory over that voice in my head that’s all too often kept me from doing things. Isn’t it OK to do things sometimes just because we want to, to buy a little thing we like but don’t really need? Once in a while it feels good to treat yourself to something just because it’s beautiful or fun or it makes you happy to look at it because it reminds you of someone or something.

Every spring I put lime around our hydrangeas to give them a slightly pink tint that turn them from the bright blue they would naturally be in our soil to the lilac/lavendar/periwinkle I like. Despite having done so, two of our bushes look like this one, still mostly blue but more pastel and a teensy bit more lavender than the vivid (almost dark compared to these) royal I see everywhere driving around.

This is the hydrangea of many colors. I put lime on all our hydrangeas this spring to give them the tinge of pink that makes them a lilac/lavender/periwinkle rather than just the bright blue that's normal for ours, but two bushes down from this one...

This is the hydrangea of many colors, just two bushes down, which seems wonderfully confused by the lime …or whatever it is that’s made it this way, when every other year all its blooms were the same color.


The Cicadas are almost completely gone (or at least for 17 years)…

The woods is quiet once again. When I clean the pool skimmers, the number of cicadas swirling in there has gone down to two or three, down from the fifty or sixty that used to be clogging it. No longer have to sweep the porch daily if we don’t want to be crunching on dead bodies just going into or out of our house. The ones still flying around that land wearily on the ground look like they’re falling apart and have lost half a body–like it’s either fallen, dry-rotted, or been eaten off by something. Does laying eggs really deplete them like that? Are they so full of eggs that once they lay them, their back ends are empty?


Isn’t She Adorable?


I found this picture of my mom while looking through old family photos over Mother’s Day weekend. It’s a big picture, 11 x 14, and I must’ve seen it before, but if I did, I didn’t remember it as anything special, whereas this time it really hit me. Not only how beautiful it is, or how beautiful she was (well, she still is, but not like this), but that it was stuffed in a big manila envelope with a bunch of other old photos, unprotected–a treasure with a tear in it and bound to get more. That it had never been framed for people to look at and enjoy, what a shame! I wanted to frame it. I said so. My step-father said, no, I’ll frame it. And he was nice enough to send me a copy of it a week later, so I could have my very own to frame. I’m in the process of framing it now. Can’t wait to hang it up.

Something about this picture. It’s Innocence, Purity, Peace, Calm, Trust. She’s so natural and at ease. Those eyes, that hair, the little cross, the posture and fat rolls. She’s an angel. Just looking at her makes me feel good. I had to share her.

Happy Birthday Grandma Ag, thought we’d celebrate with a picture of your baby.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dennis!