Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Killer Apple

Yesterday was a whirlwind of relatives! We had a family breakfast at the local greasy spoon, with my brother and his family, my stepsister and her family, and my dad and stepmother -- 11 people all together. We do not travel in small groups, we Reeds. My nephew tried to call ahead for a reservation but of course greasy spoons don't take reservations, so we cobbled together some tables as they became available and eventually drove away all the other customers.

I got to talk briefly with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two young nieces before they hit the road back to their home in Jacksonville. Remember when you were young and square older relatives would appear and say things like, "My goodness, you've grown!" Well, I am now that older relative. It's so unsettling to see how big kids get, and how fast.

I visited with my stepsister, her new husband and their two sons (one each from previous relationships) yesterday afternoon, and last night my stepbrother and his wife arrived from Louisiana. I almost never get to see them, so that's a plus.

Amid all this excitement I called my mom and wrote to Dave, and took care of most of my gift-giving -- mainly a few copies of my new book and some beautiful glass window decorations from Ellen, which I ordered after she posted them in the top photo of this post. (Ellen, they're a hit!)

This wild balsam apple in my dad's yard looks like it's about to burst open, so that will be interesting to watch over the next few days. When I was in kindergarten, a school office assistant named Mrs. Evans once brought one of these into the class, bright orange and filled with brilliant red seeds. The teachers told us they were poisonous, so I've always been wary of them, even though I'm not sure they'd really kill. Whenever I see one I think of Mrs. Evans, with her fast walk and blue eye shadow and "That Girl" flip hairdo, holding a colorful, menacing curiosity on a white napkin in her hand.

(Top photos: Shrimp plants in my dad's yard.)


  1. I have never seen (as far as I know) that toxic fruit. The shrimp plant photos were divine. Now you've got me wanting a biscuit and some eggs. No greasy spoon in Lloyd. Dammit. I guess I could make my own.
    I'm glad you're getting to visit with relatives. I hope all is well.
    I love that you ordered gifts from Ellen. What a beautiful thing to do and I am sure her work was loved.

  2. Thanks Steve. I'm glad they were well received. Gorgeous photos of the shrimp plant. I have a large one at the city house that is blooming now. I planted a small one out here this year but so far it hasn't grown much or bloomed. I've never seen or heard of a balsam apple.

  3. Those shrimp plants are beautiful. Sounds like a very busy time for you. Enjoy!

  4. Shrimp plants! So that's what they're called? That picture brought up a lot of nostalgia. My grandma used to have some in her yard - we would love picking out the flowers and sucking the nectar.

  5. I love the photos and your memory -- both so rich in almost startling detail!