Five Favorite Cities

It’s time again for Five Favorites, which is now a traveling linkup, hosted this week by Mary at Atelier.
five favorites
Today I’m going to write about five of my favorite cities.  Now I’m no world traveler or anything, so don’t expect anything obscure or unusual!
1.  Mobile, Alabama
I’ve been hearing stories about Mobile since I was a little girl, in which it was presented to me as akin to an ancestral homeland.   That’s because not only was my grandmother’s mother born there, but we could trace our roots there back to this guy:

My ggggrandfather Confederate General James D. Hagan, who was born in Ireland.
My ggggrandfather Confederate General James D. Hagan, who was born in Ireland.

My mother visited cousins there often as a child, and told us stories of swimming in the Mobile Bay.  My grandmother, too, spent summers there as a child, and well into her elder years used to drive down there occasionally to see family and bring home crab for gumbo.  I vaguely recall two visits there when I was a child.
When Emily decided to go to college there we were absolutely thrilled, and I know Mima would have been too.  What with dropping her off and picking her up for various breaks, and attending Family Weekend at Spring Hill each year, we had ample time to visit and explore Mobile, which offers streets lined with restored historical properties, a nearby beach, and delectable seafood.  We miss our frequent visits and are considering going down for a weekend just for the food.  Seriously.
USS Alabama

Detail from Felix’s Fish Camp, one of Mobile’s many restaurants

2.  Charleston, South Carolina
I’ve been to Charleston twice.  The first time marked the last vacation I ever took with my parents and sisters; the second was a Spring Break trip with my roommate and then-boyfriend-now-husband my junior year at Georgetown.  I’ve been wanting to get back there ever since.  Through the nostalgic lens of the past the place has taken on a mythical significance, probably helped by my devotion to Pat Conroy’s writings.
This is the only picture I have handy from either trip:
John in Charleston, not doing a very good job at simulated hopping, March 1988
So that doesn’t exactly demonstrate why I loved the place.  Things I remember include the architecture, the near-deserted beach at Wild Dunes (the resort where my family stayed), the terrifying bridge (now, I believed, replaced), and The Trawler, an incredible restaurant at which I ordered a seafood platter that had absolutely everything on it and remains the standard by which I judge such things 30 years later.  (It’s closed now, but I suspect there are still a few good seafood places in Charleston!)  John and the big boys visited Charleston for a Cub Scout outing that included a night spent on a battleship, but that was ten years ago, so I think it’s time we got back down there!
3.  Savannah, Georgia
Our whole family fell in love with Savannah when we visited a few summers ago.  There is something for everyone in or near Savannah:  architecture, history, beaches, shopping, and FOOD! (You are probably seeing by now what is really important to us in picking a vacation destination.)
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4.  Washington, D.C.
It’s an obvious choice, I know, but even after living in D.C. for four years and just outside it for another, I never get tired of visiting.  So many people make the mistake of thinking they can “do” D.C. in five days, but it just isn’t possible.
Everyone knows about the Smithsonians, of course, and that they are free, but in your rush to the Air and Space Museum, don’t forget the Botanical Gardens, or the Holocaust Museum, or the National Archives.  A person could spend days in any one of the museums.  As for the monuments, touring them at night is the best.  As for food, D.C. is an international city with every kind of cuisine you could want or imagine.  I recommend 1789 in Georgetown for an unforgettable French dinner (if you can afford it–we’ve done this exactly once!).
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5.  Knoxville, Tennessee
I bet y’all knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?  You can read just a few of the reasons here.  Other than that, I’ll just let some of these images do that talking for me.
Storm over Knoxvillemarket square
Downtown Knoxville from the River
What about you?  What are your favorite cities?  And for more favorites of various kinds, you can visit the linkup here.
 

Five Favorite Saints

Five Favorite Saints
So for my Five Favorites today, I would like to share five of my favorite saints!
1.  Saint Peter

Saint Peter by Paul Rubens

Peter is absolutely my favorite saint.  He’s so endearing.  I find myself shaking my head and smiling when listening to his exploits at Mass.  So enthusiastic.  So clueless!  So like us.  Peter blathered about building booths for Jesus and company at the Transfiguration, leading the Gospel writer to opine, “He did not really know what he was saying.”  Peter denied Jesus.  Peter tried to walk on water and sank instead.  But Peter also was the first to name Jesus as Messiah, and he was the rock on which Jesus chose to build His Church.  How inspiring for all of us that Jesus chose this imperfect soul to be the first Pope, demonstrating that faith and love, not education and ability, are what count most.
2.  Saint Monica
Saint Monica by John Nava

St. Monica’s feast was last week and it was then that I suddenly realized I should be praying to her!  My kids are nowhere near as wayward as St. Augustine was in his wild younger days, but all mothers pray for their children and who better to be our patron than this mother whose prayers were answered in such  a spectacular fashion?
3.  Saint Bernadette
Saint Bernadette

I chose her as my Confirmation saint after reading (and re-reading and re-reading) The Song of Bernadette.  My visit to Lourdes as a teenager remains a highlight of my life. An uneducated peasant girl who never sought out sainthood and who was unexceptional in every way before her visions, she is a reminder to all of us that God can use anyone and that anyone who accepts a mission from God will be given the grace to carry it out.  I’ve written more about her here.
4.  Saint Patrick
saint patrick
Even if you aren’t Catholic, you probably know all about St. Patrick; he’s that popular.  But aside from the fun of St. Patrick’s Day, I feel a special debt to him which you can read about here.
5.  Saint Theodore the Written Upon
Saint Theodore

If you went to Catholic school you probably recall being made to dress up like your patron saint for All Saints Day.  Coming up with costumes for these occasions for my kids has always been a challenge since I am not what you would call crafty, but I was very pleased one year to send Teddy off to school wrapped in a sheet and with the first few lines of the inscription that was carved into the head of this poor martyr written on his forehead in red ink.
Who are your favorite saints?  You can tell me in the comments below.  And check out Mama Knows, Honeychild for more favorites!
five favorites

Five Random Favorites

This is a pretty random list of favorite things that are on my mind this morning, so that I can link up with Mama Knows, Honeychild!
five favorites
 
1.  This popcorn popper

So we have lots of people in this house who are popcorn-crazy (also just crazy, but we won’t post about that) as you could tell if you came to see me because of all the popcorn in the couch cushions (and everywhere else too if we don’t clean up before you come).  And so we had been buying and eating lots of microwave popcorn, which as we all know is one of the unhealthiest things in the whole world.  Then I found a stove-top crank-operated popper we inherited from Grandma, but that thing was labor intensive, and heating oil on the stove to high temperatures is always a little scary.  And it was a pain to clean, so it was always sitting around in the way because I could re-use it without taking it apart and washing it but I couldn’t put it away like that!  Plus I was afraid to let the kids use it, so anytime anyone wanted popcorn (all the time) it was all on me.  So I looked on Amazon, ordered this, and my life was changed.  It requires no oil, and the little kids have already learned to use it themselves.  And old-fashioned popcorn is cheaper, so there’s that.
Which leads me to another favorite . . .
2.  These popcorn bowls

photo credit: sharsuniquefinds via ebay

Now, I would never in a million years have bought these, as darling as they are, because I don’t believe in buying single-use things that then have to be stashed away somewhere taking up valuable space and like as not getting ignored in favor of something more convenient most of the time.  But these came with the house–the prior renters left them, unused and still in the box, in the garage.  And we have a cabinet right over the stove that is too high and inconvenient to store things we want to use all the time in, but still accessible enough to get to.  So we use these every day, and the big one conveniently fits right under the opening of the air popper, and holds exactly the amount that 1/2 cup of kernels pops into.
Of course we put real butter on our popcorn, which leads me to another favorite . . .
3.  My butter dish
butter dish
I like to leave my butter sitting out on the counter.  Before you start worrying that it will spoil, please understand that between cinnamon toast, popcorn, and using it for cooking, we use about a stick each day.  And hard butter won’t spread, which is such a nuisance.  So I used to just leave it sitting out on a small plate.  But the cat would lick it whenever he got a chance.  I’ve seen the other things he’s had in his mouth, so there was no salvaging that butter!  Now the lid keeps the butter safe.
4.  My new coffee cup
red coffee cup
Emily bought this for me at Wal-Mart the other day, just to be nice.  That’s enough of a reason for me to like it, but I also like the way it looks sitting on the counter waiting for the next cup of coffee.  It makes me happy.
And now I am seeing that this post really does have a theme after all, so I will add one final favorite . . .
5.  My red kitchen

food tomatoes
You can read more about it and see more pictures here.
That’s it for this week!  Please visit the linkup for more favorites!

Five Favorite Marriage Tips

Because today is Tuesday (Five Favorites day) AND it’s our 25th wedding anniversary, it seems like the thing to do is to post five marriage tips.  Because 25 years qualifies me as an EXPERT, y’all.
five favorites
1.  Never ask “whether,” only ask “how.”
This one comes straight from the homily at our wedding, and it’s the one thing that John and I both remember.  To expand, Father Spitzer said that once you are married, you should never question whether you should have gotten married, but only ask how you could STAY married.  That advice has helped us stay committed through some difficult times.  Whether is a pointless question if you want your marriage to last forever.
2.  Grow together, not apart.
So how do you do that?  Most important, make time to be together.  Don’t tell me it’s impossible.  We had three kids in four years, and we got a babysitter and arranged to go out regularly.  When I had a nursing baby, we just brought him or her along.  Our life as a couple did not end when we became parents.  We’ve made it a point to celebrate not just our wedding anniversary but also the anniversary of our becoming a couple.  We hold on to little rituals and traditions.  But at the same time we don’t just cling to the past.  We make it a point to be involved in each other’s lives, so that even as we have separate friends and pursuits, we each know about and are interested in each other’s passions.
john and leslie
3.  If you are really mad at your husband and you need to vent, call his mother.
Maybe you are laughing as you read that, but I’m serious.  Complaining about your husband to your friends and family can be very destructive to your marriage, and to the relationship you want your husband to have with the important people in your lives.  But your mother-in-law is going to love your husband no matter what he does.  And if you have a really good mother-in-law like I do, she’ll fuss at him on your behalf.
4.  Communicate
Well, duh, right?  What do I mean?  Talk about everything, good and bad.  And if you are having trouble with this, don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek professional help with your communication skills.  Problems don’t just go away if you don’t discuss them.
5.  Endure
It’s hard, hard work to live day in and day out with another person, someone who is not your blood relative and who you are bound to by choice.  There are bound to be times when you don’t get along at all.   But check this out:  “on average unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappily married adults who stayed married when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. Moreover, two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported that their marriages were happy five years later. Even among couples who had rated their marriages as very unhappy, 80 percent said they were happily married five years later.”  So hang in there!  Chances are, things will get better, especially if you are using tips 1-4.
Those are my top five–at least today!  For more favorites, visit the linkup at Mama Knows, Honeychild!
5 TIPS for a mariage that lasts a lifetime

Five Homeschooling Favorites

Just a quick Five Favorites post today because 1) I’m late and 2) I’ve got too much to do today!
five favorites
I’ve got homeschooling on the brain these days, what with school starting (UGH!) on Monday, so today I’ll share five favorite things about homeschooling.  Not necessarily THE favorites, but the ones that rise to mind at this time of year when I am only having to get one kid ready for school instead of two.
1.  No uniforms.
Don’t misunderstand–I’m all for uniforms.  But normally this time of year would involve trips to Educational Outfitters to check sizes, and then a trip to the school Swap Shop to check what used things are available (and also trying them all on because sizes vary), and then a trip BACK to the uniform store to supplement the cheap stuff, and then possibly the agony of finding someone to hem things.  And of course I didn’t mention lots and lots of money.  This year, the only uniform rule will be no pajamas.
Lorelei at Target
2.  Pajamas
Didn’t I just say no pajamas?  Well, that rule is for Lorelei, not for me.  This year John will be taking William to school (which used to be my job while he took Lorelei).  So I don’t have to go out of the house and I plan to take full advantage of that by continuing my lazy summer habit of working in my pajamas until noon.  Or even later.
3.  I pick the school supplies.
I am not subject to the tyranny of the supply list, with its strange requirement for green pens which I can never find and its endless demands for things like scissors which ought to stay at school and be reused from year to year.  I won’t have to brave the madding crowds at Wal-Mart!  Lorelei’s supply list this year included pencils, markers, paper, and folders.  And I ordered it (along with William’s) online so that 1) I wouldn’t have to go to Wal-Mart and 2) so I could use my PayPal balance!
4.  No meetings.
I am a firm believer that even when meetings at school are stupid or boring or when you’ve heard it all a thousand times before (and if you have five kids, that goes without saying) it’s important to attend them.  So we go to them all, and the novelty wore off long ago.  I won’t miss them this year.
5.  No homework or projects.
Believe me, having to supervise William’s homework is cross enough to bear.  Not having to deal with Lorelei’s stressed out meltdowns is going to be sooooo nice.  And the projects?  Last year for All Saints we had to make a saint out of a two-liter Coke bottle.  The year before that we had to dress up a pumpkin.  I kid you not.  This year, maybe I’ll have her write a paragraph about her favorite saint.  If I feel like it.  Last year, book reports involved things like dioramas.  This year, they will involve writing a report.  Maybe drawing a picture too.
Umm . . . there are other reasons for homeschooling, of course.  Reasons that benefit Lorelei and not just me. 🙂  But y’all knew that already, right?
For more favorites, visit the linkup at Mama Knows, Honeychild.

Five Favorite Low-Carb Things To Eat

five favorites
Y’all, I used to scoff at low carb.  But now I’m a believer.  I’ve lost weight but more important I reversed those pesky numbers which were inching up into critical territory.
I love to eat, and that hasn’t stopped.  So herewith I share with you five favorite low carb things to eat.
1.  Apple slices with peanut butter.
This is my bedtime snack these days.  Crunchy all-natural peanut butter because we have ALWAYS used all-natural peanut butter and Kroger brand because we are thrifty.  Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to eat right before bedtime, but I used to eat a big bowl of carb-filled cereal every night before bed.  So I’m getting better.
2.  Hummus with just about anything dipped in it.
Except pita bread because carbs.  Usually it’s celery, occasionally it’s baby carrots, sometimes it’s mushrooms or red or yellow peppers.  You can buy big containers of all kinds of hummus super cheap at Aldi.  Trader Joe’s also has good deals.
3.  Nuts.  All the nuts.
Oh, nuts. So high in fat.  So bad.  At least, that’s conventional diet wisdom.  Y’all, I eat great quantities of nuts and so far I am still losing weight, but if I stop it will be because of the nuts I’m pretty sure.  I buy the cheap mixed nuts from Kroger, peanuts, cashews, sunflower kernels, almonds, and cashews.  Whenever I get hungry between meals I grab a handful, which is roughly a serving.
4.  Eggs.
Another perfect food with a bad reputation.  Eggs have all the good things in them and they are cheap.  Well, except when you start feeling guilty and buy cage-free.  We consume way too many eggs to be able to afford to pay $4 a dozen, so we compromise and buy one dozen of those for Emily, one dozen of the super high omega-3 kind for me, and three dozen of the cheap kind for Teddy.  No, I am not kidding.  That’s six days’ worth.  I sometimes wonder if the grocery clerk thinks we own a restaurant or run an orphanage.    Anyway, I eat two scrambled eggs for breakfast EVERY morning.
5.  Steak.
I love steak.  It’s one of my favorite foods period.  And suddenly it’s not a forbidden treat–it’s a staple!  We buy steaks by . . . I don’t know, the ton or something . . . from this guy who sells them off his truck for ridiculously low prices.  So there’s always steak in the house, although it disappears more quickly when Teddy is home.
I plan to write a longer post some time in the next month or so on my current diet (and my past diets) so we’ll call this a teaser post.  Head over to Mama Knows, Honeychild for more favorites!

Five Favorites: Just for Me

five favorites
Linking up again this week with Mama Knows, Honeychile to tell you my latest five favorite things.
A while back I decided that I needed to spend some time just on me, doing things that I wanted or needed to do or simply enjoyed doing.  You know how it is, all wrapped up in the kids and the house and your job, and being the one who is in charge of ALL THE THINGS, right?  You know who usually gets left out while everyone else’s needs are being met?  If you are a mother, of course you do.  Anyway, I was feeling unhappy and taken advantage of (not that anyone had ever said I couldn’t do these things).  I needed to give myself permission to take care of ME.  And today I will share with you my five favorite things to do for myself.
1.  Going out for the evening all by myself
I have actually been doing a version of this off and on since my big kids were little kids.  For years and years, Monday nights were my night.  John and the kids would go have an adventure, and I would head out to do my own thing.  What “my own thing” was has varied over the years–working out at the Y, doing research on our old house in the McClung Collection, writing X-Files fan fiction at the Golden Roast–but what was always the same was that I got to be alone, something that has become more and more vital to me over the years.  At some point, though, this quit being a regular thing.  I’m not sure when or why.  Once a month or so I would say to John, “I really need to go out by myself–what night this week is good?” and I’d go, but it wasn’t weekly or predictable any more.  As of a couple of weeks ago, I have changed that.  Having a regular day doesn’t work any more, but I am taking one night, whichever night, for myself.  I go down the road to Panera Bread, have dinner, do house business, and then use the remaining time to write.
2.  Taking long baths
Spa Bath
That’s a spa tub right there, folks–with Lorelei for illustrative purposes since I’m not going to put myself up there!  This was an unexpected delight when we found this house, since I’d been missing my claw footed tub from the Victorian house.  In the winter, I spend hours in here, reading and even taking a nice nap.  I do this right in the middle of the work day, and I’m not apologizing for it either!
3.  Taking Saturdays for myself
Saturdays have been a problem for me for years.  Maybe you feel the same way?  If you are a churchgoer, it’s the only truly free day of the week.  Should you sleep late?  Or get up early so as not to waste it?  Should you run errands and accomplish things?  Or take your family out to do something fun?  So many expectations to put on one 24-hour time period.
Added to all that, there’s the problem that what John likes to do on Saturdays is sleep.  A lot.  And he really needs that catch-up sleep in order to function the way he does for the rest of the week.  But even though I enjoy sleeping later on Saturdays, there are limits.  And sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting and waiting for him to get up to do something with me has always been a source of stress.
So several months ago I got up one Saturday and decided to quit waiting and do what I wanted to do.  What I wanted to do on that particular Saturday was to go take a look at a couple of cemeteries I was always driving by and never had time to explore.  After that I started my current Saturday routine:  sleeping till a decent hour (ten, usually), going on one of my long walks in the Urban Wilderness with Emily, and then hitting another graveyard if I have time.
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melton hill 1
4.  Having a beauty routine
That sounds a little goofy (especially for someone who rarely uses make up!), but what I mean is that I have an array of nice lotions and creams and I anoint myself with them morning and night.  This, too, is something I used to do years ago and then got away from.  It’s easy when you are in a hurry or tired to skip doing this, but I make myself do it every time.  I don’t know whether it makes a physical difference, but it feels good to take care of myself.
5.  Singing in the choir
People have been telling me for years that I should sing in the choir.  I DID sing in the choir in college, and I love love love to sing, as anyone in my family can attest.  But I always had little kids in the pew who needed me more than the choir did.
But most of those kids are big now, and even the littler ones can behave properly in Mass without me.  Plus our new choir only sings once a month and practices twice, so the
commitment is not huge.  Singing makes me happy, as does finding a new way to contribute to my church community after several years of being somewhat . . . dormant . . . compared to earlier years.
IC with Green Tint
To see more Favorites, visit the linkup!
Also linking up with Theocentric Thursdays!
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Five Favorite Quotations

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for Five Favorites, hosted by Mama Knows, Honeychild.
five favorites
Today, I’m going to share five favorite quotations.  Not necessarily my five most favorite, mind you, because I’m not sure if I even know.  But just five that have stayed with me and are meaningful to me.
1.  Faith is constant assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.
Sunrise in our neighborhood
St. Paul wrote this in his letter to the Hebrews.  I’m not sure which translation this is, but it’s the version that is stuck in my head and I guess I was lying up above because if you asked me my favorite quotation ever, this is what I’d say.
 
2.  Cast your cares on God:  that anchor holds.
Immaculate Conception Church, Knoxville
This is from Enoch Arden by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and I have chanted it like a mantra or really a prayer in dark times.
 
3.  Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and discover that they were the big things.
William at Tybee Island
Robert Brault said this, but I’m pretty sure I found it in the “Quotable Quotes” section of Reader’s Digest about 25 years ago.  I used to have a quotation gallery inside my kitchen cabinets, and this is one of the ones that I taped there.
 
4.  Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.
Lorelei wading at Melton Hill Lake
This quotation by Frank Clark also came to me from Reader’s Digest, and along with the one above formed what I thought of as a life philosophy at that time–a philosophy that I really feel like I need to reclaim.
 
5.  Each of us in the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed.  Each of us is loved.  Each of us is necessary.
john and baby william
I love this quotation from Pope Benedict XVI so much that I used it in creating Lorelei’s birth announcement.
 
I would love if you would share your favorite quotation with me in the comments!  And for more fun favorites, please visit the linkup.

Five Favorite Poems

It’s that time of the week!  I’m linking up again with Heather of Mama Knows, Honeychild to bring you five of my favorites.  This week I’m sharing five of my favorite poems, which may be intensely boring to many (most?) of you, but I’m an English major so you are just going to have to put up with me.  (Alternatively, if you are a literary snob, you will probably sneer at my choices for being too conventional.)
In no particular order:
1.  The Daffodils by William Wordsworth

Daffodils growing by the side of the Pellissippi Parkway earlier this year
Daffodils growing by the side of the Pellissippi Parkway earlier this year

Daffodils are my favorite flower and always have been.  Thanks to the beautification efforts of Lady Bird Johnson, our nation’s capital is covered in them in season.  My roommate and I decided to memorize this poem while one of our long walks, inspired by sights like this:
lincold daffodils
I still know it by heart and could copy it out here for you, but instead I will give you a link.
2.  The Master Speed by Robert Frost
You’ve probably never heard of this one.  I looked it up after seeing a phrase from it used to title a book on marriage (Frost wrote it on the occasion of a wedding).  And later it inspired me to write this story.
No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still-
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar 
3.  The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
This one really needs no explanation.  I used to know it almost by heart, because Jake and Teddy loved me to read it aloud to them when they were little.  I love the rhyme and rhythm (“and the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain . . .”), and the depiction of endless depression makes my heart ache: “and my soul from out that shadow . . . shall be lifted–nevermore.”  Read the whole thing here.
4.  Remember by Christina Rossetti
Here’s another one I know by heart.  I can’t remember how I discovered it, but I find it to be a lovely reflection on grief and healing.  It’s repeated in full in this post.
5.  Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This is much less sentimental than my other choices, but I just love the way it sounds.  I don’t know the whole thing by heart, but I wish I did.  We had to write a paper analyzing this poem in my Sophomore Honors English class.  This led to one of my most embarrassing moments ever in school when one of my friends told the professor that I had a very interesting interpretation, and I had to explain in front of everyone the sexual imagery I found in the poem.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

What’s your favorite poem?  Tell me in the comments! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the Five Favorites here.

Five Favorite Restaurants

Linking up with Heather at Mama Knows, Honey Child today with my third Five Favorites post!
Five Kids
Oh, wait a minute . . . those are the WRONG five favorites!
Today I am writing about my five favorite restaurants.
Now, I don’t mean the five best restaurants I’ve ever been to, I mean my tried and true favorites, the ones where they know our names and what we like to order.  You know the kind.  Or at least I hope you do!
1.  Sitar

Photo from Trip Advisor

The observant among you may notice that Sitar is an erstwhile Captain D’s.  We did not come to love this restaurant for aesthetic reasons.  Actually, though, they’ve redone the inside very nicely.  My little kids especially like the pictures of peacocks.  All our kids love this place–they’ve all been eating Indian food since they were very small.  One of William’s first words was naan!  The waiters know and like us and don’t seem to mind our noise and our mess.  We all have our favorite meals here–mine is Chicken Tikka Masala.
2.  Hashi Japan
Photo from Yelp

This is a tiny little place in a strip mile three miles from our house.  It’s also practically right next to Knoxville Catholic High School, which was how we started going there, while waiting for our kids to finish things, or to grab something to ear before heading home.  Now that we live right down the street, it’s our go-to spot, especially since super-picky William  (I mean really, he is WAY pickier than your kid) loves Asian food.
Another nifty thing about this place is that it is really two restaurants.  There are two doors, two names, and two menus.  The other half is a Chinese place called The Lotus Garden.  We eat on the Hashi side when we come with the kids, and on the Lotus side when we leave them at home.  We’re weird that way.
This is another place where we can . . . ahem . . . be ourselves without fear of being ejected from the restaurant.  And another place where they know our preferences without our having to explain them every time.  My usual order here is Garlic and Black Pepper Beef.
3.  Kaya
John’s best friend from childhood is Korean, and John grew up eating home-cooked Korean food.  He started taking me to Korean restaurants in Virginia when we were dating and I was hooked.  When we go to Kaya, it’s almost always my idea.
What I love at Kaya are the Korean side dishes.  I could make a meal on those alone.  I love kimchi so much I always have a jar in my refrigerator.
We always order the same things at Kaya:  bulgogi, pictured below.  If we are very hungry we order two, but usually we just get one and split it, and fill up on side dishes.
photo credit: foodspotting.com

4.  Naples
Photo from Trip Advisor

Surprised you, didn’t I?  Yes, we eat other cuisines besides Asian.  Although I admit I am drawn to restaurants that prepare dishes I cannot make at home.  Naples is a family-owned Knoxville tradition.  Just look how inviting it is!  It’s the kind of place where people come to relax, hang out for the evening, and enjoy excellent food and wonderful service and stimulating conversation.  I don’t have just one favorite meal here, but I do have a favorite dessert:  creme brulee.  I love love love creme brulee, and they have different special flavors on their menu each night.
5.  Panera Bread
One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong . . .
I know, I know, I’m spoiling my list by including a big, bad chain restaurant.

But, y’all, everyone has to have a place to go to be comfortable and relax, right?  Different places have served this need for me over the years.  I’m a creature of habit and back when I went out every Monday night while John did something fun with all three big (little at the time!) kids, I always went to the Golden Roast on the UT campus.  I still love it, but tend to feel just a tad out of place there almost 20 years down the road.  When we lived in North Knoxville, I used to frequent a tiny coffee shop near the Duck Pond called Cafe Noir.  But it went out of business.
There wasn’t a huge variety in North Knoxville, so when the first Panera was built we were all excited and I thought I would give it a try.  And you know what? I love it.  I just feel myself kind of relax the minute I walk through the door.  I try to get there by myself every couple of weeks, and I always get a You Pick Two, changing my soup and salad selection depending on my mood.
That’s my Five Favorites for this week!  You can visit the other links here.