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2 kids. Memories of Wolf and Boo. Many dear friends. Three siblings. Two parents. Samarra the crazy dog. The Player and Pi the Cat. I love you all!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Simple Troubles

I've gone back to a simple blog design and no Song of the Day for a while.  That's because I'm printing out some of my blog entries to save for the day when my kids are grown up and blogs are a laughable, historical way of telling our stories.  They won't be reading them online because that is "so last decade!"  Keeping the design simple makes the printing faster and uses less expensive inkjet cartridge ink, so for now it's back to nature on this girl's blog, sort of.

Yesterday Jeremiah got into trouble at his after-school program for drawing something that the supervisor said was inappropriate.  It looked like an upside down nipple from an old baby bottle with 3 drops coming out of it and the single word "drip"  written below it.  I had trouble understanding why that was a big deal, but I gathered it was the conversations around it with other kids that was more of a problem.  It reminded me of his kindergarten days.  When he got in trouble with the student teacher one day for speaking out of turn, step one was a verbal warning.  He continued, which meant he had to go and write his name on the board.  He took the chalk and wrote Jeremiah Hell.  Well, the third offense meant a note from the teacher.  The poor student teacher wrote me a vague note that left out the details.  I wrote her back and said I needed more information to help him out at my end.  So she wrote back a very long detailed explanation of the whole process, which I made the mistake of reading to myself in front of Jeremiah.  I tried very very hard not to laugh.  And failed. 

I asked him if it was worth it, getting in trouble to get the kids in his class to laugh.  He said no, because no one laughed.  They couldn't read what he had written.

Jeremiah and I have talked about the problem yesterday and to be honest, I'm not completely satisfied with his answers yet.  But teaching your kids right from wrong gets more complicated as they age, I'm finding.  His defense, "other kids were doing it first and they didn't get into trouble" seemed like a pretty normal 9-year old answer, but a scary one, too.  Teen years looming and other kids doing...argh!  Perish the thought!

Last night before bed the kids wanted to play some music and dance around the living room.  So we did.  I watched them, having grown out of their natural little kid rhythms into long-limbed bigger kid awkwardness.  I miss the past, think of their future with a combination of joy and dread, and try to remember to enjoy today's simple pleasures. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

People, Places, and Things

Yesterday I played the first minute of the I Have a Dream speech for my kids and all I told them was, "this is someone famous from history, who do you think it is?"

Immediately Jeremiah said, "That's easy!  Martin Luther King Junior."

"How did you know?"

"I don't know, I just knew it was him."

Well, ain't that divine!

Sierra made me a man yesterday.  She did not fashion it out of clay and blow the breath of life into it, though someday if she manages a miracle like that I will be the first to say "I'm not at all surprised."  No, my new man is made from Legos.  In fact his name is Legoman.  He has a tuxedo with a bow tie:



and he has a regular necktie for less formal occasions.



I think Sierra might be teaching him to ballroom dance, too:


That's good, because I wouldn't want him to step on toes or knees as the case may be. 

Yesterday afternoon we relaxed and watched the Cubs (that would be Jeremiah and I), a movie (that would be Sierra).  We read and wrote a little bit.  Jeremiah wrote a little bit about some of the places he'd like to visit, from his book 1000 Places to See Before You Die:  he picked The Grand Canyon, the Sears Tower, San Antonio River Walk, the Georgia Aquarium, and Soldier Field.  Sierra wrote something completely unintelligible, (but I'm sure it was brilliant), and when I pointed out to her that I could not read her handwriting at all, she said she would just read instead.  So she read a book about Oceans, then created Legoman. 

I did notice Legoman is missing some of his man parts, and also looks like he needs surgery for his knee and to separate his Unifoot into two.  Until then his dancing will be a bit...interesting to say the least.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Promises to myself

As a mother I made a promise to myself years ago that unless it were a matter of life or death I would never ever ever EVER step foot inside of a Chuck E. Cheese.  And after being a mother for 9 years, one month, and 5 days I can say that I have kept this promise.  (Thank you to Mom, Francisco, and the Normal Parks and Recreation Department for filling in for me on these horrific occasions.)

Recently I made another promise to myself.  I would try as much as possible to avoid reading about, watching, thinking about, or mentioning a certain person.  That promise is about to be broken here in my blog.  And that person is...

Benn Gleck.  Oops, did I say that wrong? 

Well, you know who I mean. 

The reason I am writing about GB is...baseball.

Right about now I imagine you are all saying...What?  What the heck?  What is that quirky woman up to NOW?

Here is what inspired me to write about the Glennbeckistan rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday.   (You all know the details so I don't need to go into them.  And if you don't know the details, well, mister I want YOUR life...in the ignorance is bliss kind of way.)

I don't have Fox News on my minimalistic Cable package.  So I have learned most of my news about said rally from watching clips from Comedy Central this week on my computer.  But last night I was reading baseball news on MLB.com and saw this little tidbit of a news item:

Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols attend [that guy]'s rally in Washington DC.

If you also live in the world where you don't know who Tony and Albert are, then let me enlighten you.  Tony LaRussa is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.  A few years ago he was arrested in Florida for driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.8.  THAT is not a typo.  The legal limit in Illinois, for example, is 0.08.  So he had 10 times as much alcohol in his blood that night, behind the wheel, as is allowable.
 The blurb about his arrest was the last news I could ever find of that.  No jail.  No time off from baseball job.  Nothing.  When your team has won the World Series in the last few years, I guess you get a ....Get Out of Jail Free Card.  Of course, it might only be good in Florida.

Well, that's Tony.  Albert is a fabulous first baseman, one of the best players in the game, a leader on his team, a guy setting records every year for the last 8 or 9 years and never had his name come up even once in the steroid scandals.  I think of him, or I did, as something of a hero in the world of sports.  Even as a Cubs fan, I do like him quite a lot.

So.  They went to the rally.  Big deal.  So what.  They were in Washington anyway to play the Nationals this weekend, so it's not like they did anything other than hop on the metro, I mean hop in a limo, and hightail it on over to the place where exactly 47 years before Dr King stood on the steps and gave his I Have a Dream speech, not exactly of course as Geck Blenn stood 2 flights below that exact spot.

Here's why it's a big deal to me.  Deep in my heart I know that God isn't giving one hoot about who hits a home run, strikes out 20 players in a game, gets into the Hall of Fame, or wins any particular game.  BUT then, yesterday, I started to wonder about this belief I have, because the last place Washington Nationals whipped the very very good Cardinals 14 to 5 last night.  The Nationals scored more runs in that game than they have in any game since they...well, since they became the Washington Nationals.  (Before they were the Montral Expos and before that I can't remember..)

SO maybe it was just a happy coincidence.  BUT on the same day, the Florida Marlins got whipped by the Braves 12-3.  TWO in one day?  I think God may not care about sports, but perhaps she is just trying to give Tony a gentle warning.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sick Day

On Thursday evening Jeremiah was coughing.  Friday during the night he woke up and was coughing.  At 6:30 in the morning when he got up he was coughing even more.  And wheezing.  And not looking like his usual energetic self.   His temp was 99.9 so I figured we were on our way to some find of horrific infection somwhere. 

Doctor T told us it was just ("just"?) his asthma.  No infection.  We are back using a nebulizer every 4 to 6 hours, something we haven't had to do in a couple years.  In fact, I had put the nebulizer away (Note to self:  don't do that again.) and it took me a while to find it. But find it I did, and Jeremiah and I spent the rest of Friday watching The Blind Side, playing chess, playing backgammon, playing Battleship, and reading.  And doing his nebulizer treatments.

This morning he is still coughing, of course, the doctor said it would take a few days to get better, but he is smiling so I know he is feeling better.  A few minutes ago I went upstairs to the room where he and Sierra are watching TV and found them watching Blues Clues, which they haven't watched since they were very little. 

Yesterday while waiting for the doctor to come into the exam room, Jeremiah sat down on my lap.  He barely fit.  ARGH!  He and I decided he'll only be able to do that one more year.  After that, there just won't be room.    So, while I'm sorry he is not feeling great, it was delicious to have that day together.

Friday, August 27, 2010

To Do Lists

Jeremiah brought home a book from school yesterday, on loan from his teacher, his new favorite teacher ever because of her policy on re-taking tests.  The book was called 1000 Places to see before you Die, the US and Canada version.  I counted and I have been to 142 of them.  I consider myself fairly well travelled in the US at least, and have been to Canada a couple times too.  But that left 758 places left I've never seen that are recommended by...the authors of the book, I didn't get inquisitive enough to see who they are...and I don't think I'll make it to most of them in the years I have left.  Before I Die...what a creepy title.  I guess it's the whole Bucket List thing.

There are places I want to go before I kick the bugkit...
Italy
Barcelona
Greece
My Own Private Caribbean Island
On a date with a man again, just once, out to dinner...

See, I have a pretty reasonable, short list.  Or short, anyway. 

And...several places on the list of 142 where I've been I would like to revisit.  Wrigley Field, of course.  The Canadian Rockies.  In fact, if I had lots of money I'd like to stay at the Lake Louise hotel.  Instead of just sneaking into it and using their pool, hot tub, and lobby on a rainy day when I was camping nearby.  Oh yes.

Well these are things I could do with time and money and some effort.

Here are somethings I'd like to see but can't control whether I will or not:

Cubs win a World Series.
Peace in Middle East (then I would add that area of the world to my travel list!)
What the heck...peace in the whole world

Which of those is more likely?  Hmmmm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cool!

It's cool outside now, in the 50's in the mornings.  I am so happy to feel that coolness in the air.  I sleep so well with the windows open and the sounds of the campus bell waking me at 6 a.m., followed by the neighborhood dog that barks at the sound of the bell.  Does Pavlov live in my neighborhood?  Oh wait, that was salivating, not barking. 

Well, perhaps that neighborhood dog does salivate as he barks.  Who knows?  Inquiring minds don't much care about that one today.

I have not spent as much time in the back yard this summer as usual.  Mostly because it's been too durned hot and humid.  But now, it's time to buy chairs to match that new table I got from my parents earlier this year, so that I can sit outside and enjoy my back yard.

My flowers around the deck didn't fare too well this year.  A nosy dog looking for critters under the deck is probably to blame.  I forgive him.  No critters is worth it.  Next year I'll plant a little differently.  I think I will use more pots on the deck for flowers and plant some hardier specimens in the ground.  Next year...thinking like a true Cubs fan!

The Cubs haven't contacted me for the job as manager since Lou Pinella stepped down on Sunday.  He had promised to finish the season as manager, but then his mother became very ill and so he stepped aside to spend time with her and now they have an interim manager who is not Kim Tingley.  Imagine!  Well, this new guy, Quade, I think was the 3rd base coach before.  Sure he knows how to tell the runner at 2nd whether to stop at 3rd or go on home. Big deal!  I could do that.  And Quade is very bossy...he is always out there giving signs to the defense to move here, do this, do that.  I'm used to Lou just sitting on his unhappy behind looking out at his team and doing...nothing....  But I could be bossy, too, if that's what they want.  

With Quade at the helm they've been winning too.  Of course they have played only against the Washington Nationals, one of the other bad teams in the National League.  But Friday they play the first-place Reds, and so we will see what Quade can do against a team like that.

I may have a job offer by Sunday, which would also be Very Cool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kiss Me, I'm Happy!

It's National Kiss and Make Up Day.  Now if only I weren't getting along with someone, someone I'd like to kiss.  Maybe George Clooney is still mad about Susan's birthday party cancellation.  But, if that were so, I'm a good friend so I'd let him kiss Susan instead of me.  Even though she already has Bob.  See, I am such a good, good friend.  It's also Friendship Week and  Admit You're Happy Month.

I am happy!  Also silly, quirky, inquisitive, and Irish.  Plus about 56 other nationalities in all likelihood.

I am a happy Heinz 57 tomato!  No, that's not right, that's just silly and quirky.  And wrong, since Heinz is the ketchup made from the 57 varieties, not a particular tomato.  And I definitely don't want to think of myself as a bottle of ketchup.  Or catsup.  Depending.  On what, I do not have the slightest idea.

Nor do I care.  Wait, yes I do because I am inquisitive. 

Answer to yesterday's lazy remark about the year of publication of Winesburg Ohio (Ok, I was in the kitchen, saw the book lying on top of a stack of stuff that needs to be put away)...first published in 1919, the copy I have published in 1958.  So in 1958 paperbacks could cost as much as $1.45.  That seems like a lot for 1958 for some reason.  Maybe prices went down in the 60's when books had to compete with TV?  Inquiring minds want to know!

I am inquisitive but lazy.  Google is perfect for ME!

So, we have established that I am happy, silly, inquisitive but lazy, quirky, and Irish. 

And, possibly a little bit uppity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lunch at the Coffee House

I keep hearing the Coffee House isn't Uppity enough for Normal anymore and is going to close.  But it was still alive and kicking yesterday when I had lunch there with a group of women from NCC who are thinking about going to Ecuador for a combination language-school-travel experience and wanted to ask me a whole bunch of questions before they decide. They invited me and bought my lunch.  I had the Meditarranean Salad which in and of itself was really boring but it came with a side of hummus and pita bread which was very good.  The salad was definitely not uppity enough even for the likes of me.

Before having lunch at the Coffee House I stopped by to visit Kathleen at Babbitt's where I managed to distract her from her real work but then I did buy a book so I think the boss would have been okay with that.  I bought a copy of Winesburg Ohio which I only know about because Kathleen had recommended it to me a long time ago.  I found it on the half-price cart out front, which meant it's usual price of $3 was down to a buck and change.  But a little more change than the book's original price on the front cover of only $1.45 back when it was published.  I should tell you when that was, but I'm feeling lazy and don't want to get up and find the book to do so. 

I was reminded of a used bookstore in Port Jefferson, New York that was about a block from my apartment the second year I lived there.  My apartment was the upstairs of an old house in the "downtown" area of Port Jeff, right by the harbor on Long Island Sound.  (That's pronounced Long Guyland in Port Jeff.)  The bookstore sold paperbacks at half the publisher's price.  So when I found paperbacks published in the 60's for a buck, I could buy them there for 50 cents.  I did a lot of reading that year, without ever going to the library. 

But I digress...

After buying Winesburg Ohio I headed to the Normal Public Library where I returned a couple of kids books including How to Steal a Dog.  While there I ran into yet another NCC-er who works there, Ruth.  What an uppity-town bunch of women we are!

Then I went to lunch and had a few bites of boring salad but devoured my delicious hummus and pita bread.  And drank my iced coffee.  And got to talk about good places for people in their 60's to go in Ecuador.  And where to avoid.  They are an adventuresome group, more concerned about being at very high altitudes than about erupting volcanoes.  Which can both be a concern in Ecuador.  This group has travelled together to Latin America before, to Mexico and to Costa Rica.  So they are prepared to drink bottled water, avoid salads, and toss their toilet paper in the wastebaskets for a couple of weeks.

Today it is time to head back to work...I've had ten days away and now must go into the office and pick up that little computer and hit the streets!  But after that I get to go back to Uppity Town for the Normal Farmer's Market!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Empty Nest

School starts again today.  Jeremiah starts 4th grade and he already knows his teacher is Mrs. Freitag.  Sierra starts 2nd grade and we have no idea who her teacher will be yet.  But in about 30 minutes we will find out who the lucky teacher is that gets to have Sierra in her class this year. 

Before we left for our vacation, this was the scene on our deck in back:



But upon our return, the babies had graduated from helpless little hungry mouths to independent beings in the world at large and this was the scene on our back deck:



I know the kids starting school isn't really the same as an empty nest.  They'll be home every evening.  But each school year brings us one step closer to that day when they are grown up independent beings in the world at large.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to Normal

Yes, we arrived home safe and sound yesterday afternoon.  But first, let me tell you about the Holland Farmer's Market.

I would have taken about a million pictures because it is a visual feast as well as a literal one.  The produce is stunningly beautiful but also there is art in how much of it is displayed.  I've never seen a stack of radishes that gave me reason to stand and stare at them in wonder before as I saw there.  And I don't even like radishes.

I did NOT take about a million pictures because my camera batteries were mysteriously out of juice.  Oh, wait, that's right.  Sierra borrowed my camera at the Dutch Village the day before and took about a million pictures of Delftware and wooden shoes and Christmas decorations in the Dutch style.  Here's one:


We will come back to Dutch Village later in the blog.  But now, back to the Farmer's Market, of which I have no pictures. 

We bought food, of course.  Blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, carmel corn, and ...oh!  look!  Good strong organic fair trade coffee!!!  Thank goodness.  The day was saved by a fellow from a coffee shop called Lemonjello (huh?) who sold me a cup of Organic Love Buzz for a buck and a half.  The change went into the guitar case of the man and son who were playing live music at the Farmer's Market to raise money for Doctor's Without Borders in Pakistan.  Other live musicians included a young man, a kid about 8 actually, who appeared to be doing his cello practice in public, a college-age fellow playing a violin hooked up to his laptop computer, and some regular old hippie folksingers. 

Francisco was salivating over all the plants for sale and the fabulous prices.  He finally bought two trees then proceeded to carry them, one in each hand, through the market and about 6 blocks further to his Jeep.  At one point he decided to run with them.  I overheard some interesting remarks and saw a few heads turn.  One guy said, "well, there's something you don't see everyday."  They were pretty good sized plants, fir trees I think, and about 15 bucks each instead of about 100 which is what Francisco said you'd pay at Growing Grounds. 

The cut flowers were stunning and there was even a guy selling Organic Artichoke Hummus. 

Someone at Susan's birthday party, I think it was Janet, told me not to miss the Holland Farmer's Market, and she was right.  Next time, though, I will take extra batteries for the camera.

And now, a return to Dutch Village. 

Ok, I took one of the pictures that used up the batteries.  But can you blame me? 

I told each kid they could have a buck to buy a souvenir trinket.  Sierra bought some little wooden shoes for, who else, Sammy! 


He loves them and is learning to clog, or tap dance as Sierra calls it.  And Jeremiah picked....



um, a blue eyeball ball.  It floats!  We played catch with it later at Saugatuck Dunes beach where the crowd swelled to, oh, about 15 people on a busy Friday afternoon. 


Best kept secret in Michigan, that beach. Shhh!!!

But as fabulous as vacation was, we missed Wolf.  He didn't miss us much, as the fantastic dog sitter took him on long long walks everyday and now he is spoiled.  I think she let him sleep on the bed, took as he seems to be camping out there now.  Or maybe he did miss me, too!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Heading Home

It's Saturday morning.  We've had breakfast here in the hotel for the last time, and I am grateful that I don't have to start the day with weak coffee again tomorrow.  This morning I saw a gentleman fill a styrofoam cup with decaf weak coffee about halfway, then fill the cup with...hot water.  Shudder.  Why bother?  Unless you just like to hold warm styrofoam in your hand in the morning.

Francisco headed to the hot tub, and the kids are enjoying a little more Disney channel on TV while I blog here one last time. 

Our plan is to go to the Holland Farmer's Market and then drive home.  It's raining, which will make going to the Market a little messier but leaving easier.  We had a good vacation.  The beaches here are lovely and we have had perfect weather.  Even rain on the last day is perfect. 

Last night we told the kids everyone could get food from whatever restaurant they wanted...which meant I drove to Subway for Miah, McDonalds for Sisi, and then to DQ for desserts!  Meanwhile Francisco walked across the street to China Inn and got us some grown-up food.

The kids want to come back, specifically to this town and this hotel.  And all I have to do is remember to bring some way to make my own stronger java and all will be well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Redbud

Thursday morning the kids and I went to the independent bookstores in downtown Holland.  Yes, it's downtown even though it really does have an uppity feel to it.  Nice stores, upscale, and brick sidewalks. 

We visited Readers World, which had a fabulous selection of books by many authors I love, and also a good children's book section.  Then we visited Treehouse Books, which sadly is going out of business.  All books were 70% off and all the furnishings and display items were also on sale.  It was looking like the bottom of the barrel there but I did find one book I wanted (Paradise Park by Allegra Goodman, since we are reading another of her books for book group next month). 

Sierra set her sights on an old wooden sled with red metal runners.  Out of my price range even on sale, though.  I told her that Aunt Jill and I had a sled just like that when we were kids, and that once I caught my leg under one of the runners going down an icy and rocky hill at Ewing Park, where she and Jeremiah have been sledding. 

"Do you think Grandma still has that sled?"

"I don't know but I doubt it.  Do you want to call and ask her?"

"Yes."

ring...ring..."Grandma!  Do you still have Aunt Jill and mom's old sled?"  ... pause..."Oh.  Ok, here's mom."

I asked the proprieter of Treehouse Books if it was the big bookstores that had put her out of business.  She said that was one factor, but it was actually internet sales that seemed to have been the main competition. 

That left me feeling kind of sad.  I'd rather browse at a small independent bookstore (which we don't have back home except USED bookstores where I do browse and buy) but I do shop on the internet for books now.  It's significantly less costly, which is indeed important.

I don't think I'll ever go for the Kindle type of device, though. I like the feeling of the book in my hands, turning the pages.  And I'm a page-corner-turner-downer if it's my own book.  But never a library book, of course.

Well, if anyone has an old sled with red runners lying around and wants to unload it, I know an 8-year old who would be forever your buddy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Perfect Beach Afternoon

Yesterday the weather, the winds, and the waves were all perfect for swimming at Holland State Park.  The flag was actually only at Yellow, which is still a caution, but the swimming was great.  The waves were big enough for short people (i.e. kids) to play in and have fun but not dangerous.  I decided if the flag ever gets to green we might be bored with the swimming as I'm guessing that means no waves at all.

Jeremiah played a little beach volleyball while Sierra and I discovered the snack bar has 26 flavors of soft serve ice cream!  She had hurt her lip by accident with her sand shovel toy and we decided that some cold ice cream might be just the right cure.  She had a big vanilla/chocolate twist cone.  Then later on the way out to the car we call stopped again and she had another bowl, this time Strawberry.  I had Blueberry and Jeremiah opted to try the twist.  Yum.  Really good ice cream!  We will visit that snack shack again today I'm guessing.

Mostly we played in the waves.  For hours.  I am actually experiencing muscle aches today (upper back and shoulders) from all the exercise.  Jeremiah seems fine but Sierra is just wiped out.  She said a while ago, "I just don't want to do anything."  Well, I know that will last for another hour or so then she'll be raring to go again.

It looks like another beautiful beach day today!!!  And Francisco should arrive in time to join us at the beach, so that will give Me.  A.  Little.  Break.  From.  Lifeguard.  Duty.  Smile.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

On Tuesday morning we drove to Saugatuck Sand Dunes State Park.   The road to that park was not exactly well marked.  There were no neon signs pointing the way.  In fact, without a map I wouldn't have been able to find it.  Once we entered the park, the guard station where the fees are collected was empty.  The sign said "Ranger Back in Ten Minutes. Use the honor system and leave your fee in the drop box."  Since we had purchased an annual park sticker on Monday we didn't have to pay again, and drove on in.

The same sign was up and the booth was unmanned on our way out a few hours later as well.

To my delight and surprise there were trails through a forest to get to the beach and dunes. The kids and I had a nice walk through the woods, then arrived at a beach where people were swimming. There were no flags there to tell us whether we were being idiots or not. We had to use our common sense! Aha! The kids played in the waves close to shore and all was well.


The beach there was beautiful, wilder and more natural than many others here.  Sierra hadn't even worn a swimsuit becuase we didn't know there was a swimming beach there.  We thought there would just be dunes to climb.  She started out wading in her t-shirt and shorts.  Then she took off her shorts and waded in her t-shirt and underwear.  Once her underwear got wet, her t-shirt soon followed, and later she just started sitting down and letting the waves wash over her and forgot the whole no-swimsuit issue.
 
Dinner last night was at Subway...a step-up from the DQ?  I think not.  The poor fellow behind the counter was there alone.  He was very nice, thanking everyone for waiting patiently.  Which we all were because we could see the poor fellow was there alone, of course.  When it was our turn to order, the kids had gotten a little wound-up and were bouncing around a bit, so I ordered their sandwiches then said, "And I'll have a Vodka Martini."  He laughed and said they didn't start serving those until 5:30, sorry.
 
Tomorrow the kids want to go back to Subway.  I'm thinking something fancy instead, you know, like Applebees.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pure Michigan

Monday after some breakfast and some pool time, we decided to hit the beach. 


That red flag means "Dangerous Conditions No Swimming!"



Here are my kids, ignoring that rule like everyone else on the beach was ignoring that rule.  Guideline.  Suggestion.  Dire warning.  Take your pick.  Or pick them all, it's that kind of vacation. 

After safely playing in the water as long as they stayed within a couple feet of shore, Sierra started to drift out further and had to be hauled in by...me.  So we played in the sand instead.  Big beautiful waves but just a little too rough for the likes of us.  Today promises to have smaller more friendly waves so we will try again to swim if the flag is green or even yellow.  But not if it's red.  Especially that shade of red, which I now call "Don't Be An Idiot Red."

We drove through downtown Holland and found the bookstores.  There are three of them!  Jeremiah and I plan to hit them all.  But not today.

Today we are going to Saugatuck Sand Dunes State Park where we are going to play and hike in ... duh...sand dunes.  Then in the afternoon we will try to swim at Holland State Park again.  But not if we see that DBAI Red flag!

Last night I got the great idea we should drive to the beach and see the sunset.  We arrived too late for the actual sunset but enjoyed some dusk-time at the beach.  And look, the kids were wearing...their PJs!!!



No sailors at this beach, thank goodness.  Otherwise I'd probably have had to rescue Sierra again. 



Tongiht we hope to get to the beach in time to see the actual sunset.  Also today we are looking for a different hotel, because LOOK at THIS!


Peeping Bears! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breakfast and a Story

Breakfast is included in our hotel, which means Jeremiah and Sierra can go to breakfast in their PJs!


Of course they also travelled here in their PJs, switched to their swimsuits for the pool, and only got dressed for a few minutes yesterday to walk to DQ for dinner.  They'd have gone to DQ in their PJs if I hadn't played the heavy.

Now we are in our room watching TV and getting ready to head to the pool, then the beach.  Oh the choices, the decisions....waffles or toast?  Answer:  BOTH!  Pool or beach?  Answer:  BOTH!  Great taste or less filling?  Well, you get the idea.

and now a story about the birds, the bees, and another animal

The other night I was talking to Bob, that would be Susan's Bob, about how kids learn the facts of life.  I was lamenting the fact of all those ED commercials on during the sporting events that we watch.  I keep waiting for them to spark "the question" which is no longer "mom, where do babies come from?" but rather "mom, what does 'an erection lasting more than four hours' mean?"

Well, the very next night Jeremiah and I were watching, what else, a Cubs game.  Cialys commerical came on.  That's the one with the people in the bathtubs, in case you don't watch sports on TV.  Jeremiah was watching this commercial with the intensity he usually reserves for thinking up ways to bug his sister. 

Mom:  Do you know what this commerical is about?
Son:  No.
Mom:  Do you have any idea what they are talking about?
Son:  No.
Mom:  When you figure it out and you have questions, will you ask me?
Son:  Yes.
Mom:  Do you have any questions now?
Son.  Yes.  Was there an alligator in this commercial?
Mom:  I didn't notice any alligators but I will watch it more carefully next time.

These talks never go like you think they will.  I'm trying to keep that in mind for the future.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We Have Arrived

It's Sunday evening and we are at the Holland Michigan Best Western Hotel.  The trip was about five hours, including one traffic jam and three bathroom stops.  Since arriving, we have been to the pool twice, to the DQ for dinner (it was within walking distance and the kids voted to NOT get back in the car again until tomorrow if possible), and now we are chillin' in our room. 
Tomorrow we will go to the beach.  There will be sun, there will be sand, there will be waves, and best of all we will only have to drive a few minutes to get there.

Yes, we are tired.  Yes, we are happy.  Yes, I'm hoping to go to sleep very early. 

Until tomorrow....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Party's Over

A good time was had by all at the party last night.  The food was fabulous, the company was fabulous, we all looked fabulous, and somehow the Paparrazzi got wind of the party and cameras were literally everywhere.  There was even one photographer taking pictures of all the women's cleavages.  Oh, wait that was our friend Suzi.  And then of course someone had to take a picture of hers.  Oh, wait, that was me.

George Clooney got his message in time and didn't show up.  Thank goodness!  But he did pop out of the card I made for Susan.  With the help of some Viagra Tape.  Ok, it's just Scotch Tape, I made that part up. 

After the restaurant part of the party was over and most people went on home at a reasonable time, a few hardy souls went over to the Ryder homestead where we had hoped to party on the deck.  (I refrained from calling it Bob's Big Deck...see, I have some measure of restraint sometimes.)  The weather cooled off enough for us to do so, but the cool temps were accompanied by a beautiful rainstorm which kept us inside. 

Now it's Saturday morning, earlier than I'd hoped to be awake and I'm working on that list from yesterday's blog.  Tomorrow we will hit the highway, then the beach, then the sack.  (Funny that verb "hit," isn't it?)
And somewhere in that busy schedule, I hope to blog at y'all again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Planning is Half the Fun

Today is the last day of work before I start my vacation.  Ten days off work in a row.

Item one on vacation list:  Party like it's Susan's Birthday!  Even though her birthday was Wednesday the Par-Tay is tonight.  We will eat well, laugh, drink, laugh, dance, laugh, and later George Clooney is going to pop out of her cake.  Oh, wait, that part about the cake was supposed to be a surprise.  Well, nevermind, then, since the surprise is ruined, I'll just cancel it.

Item two on vacation list:  Get Jeremiah a haircut.  Get Kim a haircut.  Beg Sierra to get her hair cut and listen to her refuse.  Give in and leave her hair alone.  No need to ruin day one of my vacation.

Item three:  shop for things we need to take to Michigan.  Just a few items for snacking, lunches at the beach, and so on.  Also shop for card to send to George apologizing for cancelling his appearance Friday night at the last minute.

Item four:  finish up laundry.

Item five:  go to the library and check out a bunch of DVDs for the kids to watch in the car on the way to Michigan.  See Blog posting from Wednesday if you don't understand why this is important enough to get it's own line item.  HUMP!  Also check out a couple more books for reading together as we are almost finished with How to Steal A Dog.  (It's still sad in Chapter 16).  Make sure at least one of the books is really funny this time.

Item six:  Pack.

Item seven:  Collapse exhausted into bed.

Item eight:  Wake up to hear phone ringing.  Answer it.  Apologize to George as he sobs and tell him his danged Sorry Card is in the mail (even though it's not, yet) and tell him to get over it! 

Item nine:  Finally get to sleep.  Dream of cool lakeside breezes, sand castles, and delicious Michigan blueberrries.

Item ten:  Drive to Michigan with various DVDs playing to quiet children in back seat of car.  Have a brilliant idea to make things right with George.  Call Susan and get her to agree. 

To be continued....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Wishes

I am tired of being hot and sweaty.  I realize that except for my short walks between my car and patients' homes or the few minutes it takes my car to cool off once I start it up, I'm in air conditioning all day and sometimes have a fan blowing on me as well.  So I should not complain.  But I'm still tired of it.  So I guess I am complaining.

In general I try not to complain about weather.  In winter I rarely whine about cold or snow or such things.  It's just part of life. I don't cry when rain spoils my outdoor plans and I don't usually complain about heat either.  But I do whine about being tired.  This much heat and humidity so many days in a row is making me sluggish.

This morning I'm probably feeling a little tired because at 3:33 a.m. I awoke and after taking care of the business which woke me up in the first place, I realized that the night was clear and the stars were out and if I went outside and looked up I might see some shooting stars.

I went out on the deck and looked up for a few minutes.  No shooting stars but I think it was the best star-gazing night I've seen in many years.  Not a cloud in sight.  No moonlight.  The neighborhood was dark except for an errant street light or two.  After a few minutes my neck began to hurt so I went inside and retrieved a pillow and blanket and went back out to view the sky from a horizontal position.

I saw three shooting stars in about 10 minutes.  I wasted my wishes on the first two, thinking before I could control my sleepy mind, "Oh I wish I could see another one."  Finally on the third star, I wished for something else.

At 3:54 a.m. I went back inside to bed.  The bed felt deliciously comfortable after lying on the hard deck for a while, and I drifted off to dream of a strange man wearing white gloves and a white hat performing a puppet show.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hump Day

Wednesday.  Hump Day as they say in the world of full time jobs.  Downhill from here to the weekend, then back to the grind on Mondays. 

Unless you have Mondays off.  Smile.

I have been taking the kids to a gymnastics day camp this week, as their regular Parks and Recreation Day Camp ended last week.  To get to the gymnastics camp I drive down Rainbow Street, which has what I call speed bumps, what some Ecuadorians call "chapas muertas"  (dead cops) and the City of Bloomington labels "Speed Humps"...huh?

The kids read the sign and said "Hooomp?" (long U sound).  And then before we drive over each one they chant in unison "Hoomp!  There it is!"  Over and over.  I think there are 4 speed humps on that 3-block stretch.

The kids also still like to yell "nice car" at each vehicle we pass sometimes, but with the windows up for the air conditioning, that has lost it's thrill most of the time.

Entertaining yourself in the backseat of a car is easy when you have a sibling to bother, or a sibling to use to bother your mom by bothering your sibling, or by banding together with your sibling to bother your mom by repeating something over and over until your mom has to pull over and find the aspirin in the glove compartment of the car.

Next week we will be driving to Holland Michigan.  The kids will be in the backseat, of course.  And because it is illegal for me to wear ear plugs while driving, I will be renting movies for them to watch on the portable DVD player that is my BFF on long car trips. 

And oh yes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUSAN!!!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

National Snores Day

My blog feels, well, a bit stale lately.  Like maybe it should be examined for mold like a loaf of bread that has been setting out on the counter a few days longer than it should.  Or like milk that you are afraid is going to smell bad when you open it.  I guess life has been a bit routine and I also haven't had the camera out since I got those great photos of Chris with the vegetables. 

So again I'm up early, kids are not awake this time, and I'm thinking, Um.  What.  Should. I. Write. About. Today?

It IS the last day that Susan will be in her 40's.  That's exciting.  No need to go on and on about it though.  There will be blogs about that later in the week, after the big party on....oops, it's a secret.  Not from Susan, but if anyone is reading this and thinks...There Is A Party and I Wasn't Invited?  then no, there isn't really a party.  But I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads my blog and is able to attend has been invited.

Today, August 10th, is also National S'mores Day.  Now there is something to celebrate.  But even better, Friday is "Blame Someone Else Day."  That sounds like a holiday most everyone can enjoy.  Especially our beloved politicians.  But don't get me started.

I know it's still a bit dry and boring. Wait, is someone sleeping in the back row?  Dang.

This week is also the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.  And it's a new moon tonight, the start of the month of Ramadan by the way.   If we hadn't had a stunning thunderstorm last night I might have dragged my happy behind out of bed and looked for the shooting stars.  But the thunder, lightening, and rain on the roof were nature's show for August 10th early morning hours this year.  And a fine show they were.  I felt happy for my plants out in the yard because they've been suffering in the heat and needed a nice long cool drink of water.
 
Possibly it's just been too hot to be funny or clever.  I hereby declare today to be Blame The Weather Day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Blog Deferred

This morning I awoke at 5:57, fell back asleep clutching my cell phone which also serves as my alarm clock, until the alarm went off in what seemed like just a few minutes.  That's because even though time is non-linear it WAS just a few minutes.  I shut the alarm off and then crawled out of bed and up to the kitchen to make coffee and to blog.  That's what I do almost every morning at 6 a.m.  But today, after I opened up my laptop and sat down, children's unhappy whining voices could be heard upstairs.  Ah well....blogging would have to wait.

At 8 a.m. the carpet cleaner guy, Mike, showed up.  I got him settled in (i.e. paid) so he could start work, then the kids and Wolf and I hopped in the car.  Kids went to gymnastics day camp, Wolf went to Belly Rubs, Inc., a great new dog grooming place, and I went to the bank and then to Borders.  I tried to blog there but the Wifi connection was lousy.  I'm not the only one who thought so, as I heard grown men's unhappy whining voices complaining about the same thing two tables over.  Ah well...blogging would still have to wait.

After drinking coffee then heading out to buy school supplies, Kerry from Belly Rubs called and said Wolf was ready.  And was he ever.  He looks great and smells fantastic.  I tried to blog in the living room sitting on the couch after we got home but Wolf wouldn't get up on the couch and the carpet is still damp, so I whined a little but Wolf ignored me.  Ah well..blogging would have to be moved to the kitchen.

Wolf is now on his Dora the Explorer fold-out couch which doubles as his bed.  In the kitchen.  I am at the kitchen table so he will stay here.  Blogging is finally underway!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Uppity and Down

For the past two evenings I have left the security of Uppity Town Normal and headed to Bloomington for fine dining experiences.  Yes, that would be Downtown Bloomington, formerly known as Downtown Bloomington, as opposed to Uptown Normal formerly known as Downtown Normal.  If you are confused, don't feel bad.  Just laugh about it, like most people who've lived here a long time do.  Uptown!  Ha!  HAHA. 

Downtown Bloomington has many fine attributes, but the only action on a Saturday night seems to be at the bars.  As opposed to Uptown on a Saturday which features people at a movie theater, restaurants, a fancy schmancy hotel and conference center, and now the CVS drugstore open on the corner of Fell and North avenues.  Yes, you can now buy condoms in the very spot where I was baptized over 40 years ago.  Boggling!

Friday night we had pizza at the Lucca Grill.  The kids were there a few weeks before, celebrating the end of the baseball season for Jeremiah's team.  The pizza that night was good, we all got to sit together upstairs in the ugly room with the huge noisy air conditioner and the kids had a blast.  So when they got to pick where they wanted to eat out on Friday, they got to choose between the 2 restaurants where they like to eat that do NOT have a drive through:  Applebees (haute cuisine for 9 year olds!) or Lucca Grill.  LG won hands down. 

When we went with the team, we went straight to the upstairs room that night as it had been reserved for us.  Friday we headed in through the main restaurant on the first floor to be seated.  The kids freaked out.  MOM!  You can't take us in here!  It's a BAR!  Well it does look like one.  But the first floor tables were full and we headed upstairs and sat right by the noisy air conditioner so everyone was happy.

FYI - they are planning to take Grandma and Grandad there for dinner on Grandparents Day. 

Saturday night I went to have dinner with my friend Shamelle at Reality Bites.  It was also very busy, and we sat at the bar because we had neglected to make a reservation.  Which as it turns out, was just as well because by sitting at the bar we got to meet some fun people who also neglected to make a reservation and were sitting at the bar and we all ended up sharing our food with each other so we could taste as many dishes as possible.  The food there was great.  I ordered Baja Fish Tacos (not authentic as I have had the real thing in Baja) but just as delicious.  Shamelle had a tuna-wonton salad that was excellent.  Scott sitting next to me on the other side shared his brie and fruit appetizer with us and Shamelle was pretty excited about that, too.  But the crowning moment of the night was that...a total stranger gave me hummus!

The couple on the other side of Scott had started this food-sharing-movement.  They ordered the Yummus Hummus and then passed it down our way.  They are my new BFFs, if only I could remember their names. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday Sales!

No, not Soupy Sales, or Back-to-School Sales, or any of those things.  Friday sales are Garage Sales.  In my life as a home care therapist I get to drive around on Fridays as part of my job, and often I am too busy to stop when I see a sign that says "Huge Multi-Family Garage Sale"  or even better "Block Sale" or best of all "Neighborhood Garage Sales, maps available!"  But yesterday when I was sure I would be too busy, one of my patients cancelled in the middle of the morning and I got to go to several sales. 

First I followed a sign through a neighborhood of small one-car-garage ranch homes (middle class people have better garage sales than the rich, prices are better and the stuff will actually go with my mixed-up-middle-class decor or lack thereof.)  I pulled up to the house only to realize I had been in this house before.   I had taken care of the woman's mother when she was visiting from Venezuela last year and broken her foot.  Mom has gone back home but the daughter and I had hit it off from day one, both being bilingual we conversed happily in Spanglish.  At her garage sale I bought


two lightweight folding chairs for the upcoming beach vacation,



and an earring holder, plus two pairs of earrings.  Yes, I can count.  The photo includes some of my own earrings.  Jeez.

 In fact, I had forgotten to wear earrings yesterday so I popped one pair in and got compliments on them all day.  (The ones on the left, with the feathers.)

Next stop, after seeing a patient and running into my massage therapist at the assisted living facility (there to pick up HER mom) and getting the first compliment on my earrings, plus a hug (yeah!), I stopped at a block sale.  Three houses but one was all baby stuff.  At one I bought a few kitchen utensils that I could use and at the last one I found....(insert here Beethoven's Fifth again...da da da DAH!)


a bread machine!  The good news is that I have the mother-in-law's word that it works just fine.  The bad news is that the guy selling it could not find the instructions.  I went ahead and bought it anyway and I hope to find instructions online.  See later blogs for more bread-baking adventures.

The bread machine IS in the garage, sitting on top of the free filing cabinets I got last Tuesday at church.   I am such a bargain shopper!!!

Next garage sales here and there provided some cool kids books about:




and



Creepy looking but I am pretty sure Sierra will love those books.

If you are in the market for Harry Potter books this is the time to shop garage sales. Every single sale had a set of them. What's that all about?

Other minor finds were found. 




Yes, it looks like we are getting down to the bottom of the barrel, here, doesn't it?  But wait!  At the very last sale of the day,  I bought these 4 beautiful mixing bowls


the largest one is actually too big to fit into my kitchen cabinets so it will have to have a place of honor on the sideboard or on top of the cupboards.  These are great bowls, nice and heavy, too.

All in all it was a very successful shopping day.  Then I arrived home and found THIS had arrived in the mail.



yes, Season Three arrived!  Now my possessions are complete.  Except it's time to shop for school supplies.  Did you know there is a "tax holiday" in Illinois on school supplies this week?  Yee haw!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Early to Bed

My intention was to take the kids to the County Fair last night, get them wristbands, and let them ride everything in sight as much as they wanted, then drag them to the Tractor Pull which I thought they would enjoy or at least should experience being midwestern children.

But I was too derned tired.  After Girls Night Out, then Girls Night In, I was ready for Girls Night To Be In Bed Early.  I succeeded in getting everyone horizontal by 8:45 and asleep by 9:00.  Hurrah!  The kids didn't know they missed going to the fair because I hadn't told them ahead of time that we might go.

Now the plan is to take them Saturday afternoon.  I probably won't tell them in advance.  In case I need a nap instead. 

Last night instead of going to the fair and riding rides until they were dizzy, we watched "Wipeout" on TV.  They love that show, which I think is kind of strange, but Sierra is living for the day when she can participate.  She thinks kids should get to be on the show, with easier obstacles of course. 

If you haven't seen this show and you love the Three Stooges or other slapstick kinds of programs where innocent people like to get knocked around by flying and swinging obstacles, knocked into water, shaving cream, mud or all three...then you should see it.  (Episodes free at abc.com of course).  The winner of the show gets $50,000 so there is some incentive for them to fling themselves into the mess, but really this show is not my kind of program.

So, after watching what the kids wanted to watch, we turned off the TV which is what I wanted to watch.  No TV!  A book instead.  We are reading "How to Steal a Dog" outloud together.  The kids resist this each time we start a long book until we get into the story then I can count on them to ask for just "one more chapter" until I'm too tired to go on.  Which was pretty durned early last night.   But we did get 2 or 3 chapters read.  It's a sad and serious book.  I thought it would be a funny book, from the title and the cover photo of a cute little mutt of a dog, but it is not funny at all.  It concerns a family that is homeless and living in a car.  The daughter decides that if she can steal a dog and get a reward for returning it they will have enough money to move back into an apartment. 

This book is on the recommended reading list by the school library, so I'm counting on it to have an ending that won't emotionally devastate all of us.    My kids hope I won't be sobbing loudly as I read the last page, like I did when I read "The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane" outloud last year.  Jeremiah's teacher had read it to the class, and he wanted me to read it to him and Sierra at home.  When I got so emotional at the end, he looked at me very strangely. 

What?  I said.  It's so sweet and touching.

Well, he said, Mrs. R didn't cry when she read it to our class.

I thought to myself, What's wrong with her?  But then she probably knew what was coming and practiced Not Crying at home before she had to read it to the class. 

Maybe we'd better read the last chapter right BEFORE Wipeout is on, just in case we need a good laugh afterward.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Girls Night In!

Last night the Kirk women and I got together at Kathy's house for a little food, wine and conversation.  Susan had actually organized the event but then was called away on duty...she had to go to a meeting and convert some Lutherans to the ways of Openness and Affirmingness, and afterward she was too tired.  It's hard work getting some people to love thy neighbor.   She missed a delightful evening and we missed her.  She throws the best parties, even if she's not there!

I knew that Kathy was serving spicy hummus and baby carrots.  I brought a vegetable contribution, too. 


It was very popular.


But we didn't discriminate against more modest vegetables:

 

During the telling of a true story about a man who left his wife, I peeled and sliced that vegetable and we ate it with relish, I mean with hummus.



Yes there was red and white wine, and really good dark chocolate, and a bowl full of cherries.  Hmm...also some garlic and onions on the side.  We actually were not allowed to leave until we had taken either an onion or a garlic bulb with us.  There was conversation on topics ranging from theater and opera to literature to art  to demolition derby to television shows we love that have been cancelled to the size of the perfect vegetable.  Which was determined to be somewhere between a baby carrot and a cucumber.     

The Kirks are a fabulously fun family, and I highly recommend you book your next Girls Night In with them!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Girls Night Out

After our church steering committee meetings, some of us like to go to the Medici for a drink.  Well, that would be Nikki and me and whoever we can convince to go along.  Once it was Bob.  Twice it was David.  Tonight it was Susan.

For Nikki and me, going out with Bob or David is fun.  Both are the kind of men that you can talk freely with, about most things.   But when you get a chance for a GNO there's nothing like it.

Susan and I gave Nikki a difficult time about how she knows everyone and was so busy schmoozing people in the bar/restaurant that she couldn't be bothered to sit down with us.  Finally we corralled her to the table so we could order some wine and food.  In that order, of course, cause it was GNO.

Meanwhile Susan had wandered around to ask people about what they had ordered, was it good, and so on.  That's how Susan deciced to order Sangria, 'cause a lady in the restaurant part of the establishment said it was the best Sangria she'd ever had in her life.  And no offense, but that lady was not born yesterday.

So then Nikki decided to order Sangria too.  Even though we didn't know how much it cost cause the waitress kept saying she wasn't sure,something like 6-and-a-half bucks.  It turned out to be $8.  But at least it wasn't $112 like I warned those gals it might be.  I was wrong.

I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio, 'cause I don't like Sangria, but Susan was right, it was too durned hot for red wine.  Heat index of 102 and more tomorrow.  Yowza!

So we laughed and talked and, gasp!  we even gossiped a bit.

Several people that knew...who else..Nikki stopped by our table to chat.    Susan and I started composing a poem out loud,  kind of loudly, on a topic that no one else would find interesting except us, and people from the next table started looking at us.

Is anyone following me here?
Perhaps you had to be there.  But is that going to stop me from continuing?  Heck no.

We did not order hummus or rhubarb pie.  Nikki and Susan ordered some spinach dip that they claimed would take forever but it was on the table before my wine.  Did I mention that Nikki knows everyone?  And seems to have alot of influece in the community and in restaurants?  At least more than I do. 
Oh, well, that's kind of the end of the evening.  We walked out to the parking lot together and because the heat index was down to 101 we talked for about 12 seconds more then got into our air-conditioned vehicles and drove away to our respective homes to dream about hummus, peaches, rhubarb pie, and/or one of the people who stopped by the table to chat with Nikki.

GNO rocks even for us mature church-going women.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Give us this day our daily doorstop

I did not buy a bread machine yesterday.  I looked at some online and got freaked out by the prices.  I looked at one at Walmart and it was affordable but I thought I'd better research it to see if it's a decent one first.  Which I will definitely be doing soon after last night's experience.

The kids and I decided to make bread by hand.  It was fun.  Sierra started us off with measuring, mixing, and kneading.







Jeremiah helped with kneading as well.



I kneaded, too, but I wasn't about to let kids with flour on their hands use my camera.  So no photos of me today.  I'm sure you're all disappointed.

Later we let the dough rise.  Then we shaped the loaves.  I think this is where we may have hit the snag.  I'm pretty sure we didn't let the dough rise long enough first time.  I know better.  I also read in my faithful Make Your Own Bread Book the warning "if you skimp on the first rise your loaves will be heavy and good for bricks or doorstops only."  My Make Your Own Bread book is a paperback I've had forever.  It tells the truth.  The title is spelled out with loaves of bread forming the letters.  My copy is well-used, and looks about like the Betty Crocker cookbook I so lovingly photographed for you, my Gentle Readers, in an earlier blog. 

Another possible place we went wrong is that the yeast may have been too old.  It wasn't past it's date, but the date is next month.  I don't think I've ever used yeast that wasn't good for another year or two, so perhaps it wasn't just the kids wanting to eat fresh bread so badly that we didn't let it rise long enough.  It may have been a combination of bad choices.  In any event...


Here is what our bread looked like coming out of the oven.  Sierra and I ate some anyway, mostly as a vehicle to eat some real butter which we both love.  Jeremiah was off with his dad, so didn't get to experience the warm melted butter on hot doorstops. 

The loaves are still here this morning.  Sierra has been talking about building a brick playhouse in the back yard, but we haven't been able to afford her materials.  This may be the start of the New and Improved Snack Shack!

I think I'll use the money we save on building materials to buy a bread machine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Now Brown Cow? Or Turkey?

We had burgers on the grill last night.  I think I've purchased my last supermarket meat, though.  They tasted fine, but I'm about done reading Animal Vegetable Miracle, and think it's time to buy some local meat that hasn't been raised in a feedlot with lots of hormones.  And then stop buying that kind of meat forever.

I didn't think reading this book would necessarily affect my decisions about growing, purchasing, and making food for my own family.  I thought it would be more of an interesting read about how danged hard it was for this family to eat only locally produced food for a year.  And it was about how difficult some things were.  But mostly it was a labor of love for them, and the healthy aspects of doing so just sort of snuck in around the edges.  Then they got under my skin.

Also Barbara Kingsolver is not without her sense of humor, as folks who've read her other books know.  (The unfortunate phrase Jesus is Bangala! comes to mind.)  Well, last night I read her description of 2 turkeys attempting to make turkey babies.  Turkeys in the US are bred to live only 4-6 months, and new turkeys are all made with artificial help.  But Barbara wanted to keep a few around to have a small flock going.  So she discovered that turkeys now tend to imprint on things other than a turkey mother.  A human caregiver.  Or in this Tom Turkey's case, a watercan.  Oh the images. 

Barbara helps two poor clueless turkeys find love among their own kind.  She even arranges a turkey honeymoon suite with no watercans to distract Tom.  Then, though, she realizes that she is one of only a handful of people in the US who will get to watch the show if they succeed (and she admits that they don't have Cable where she lives) so she hangs around to see. 

Well, I won't spoil ALL the fun for you.  Whew!

I admit that this past month, with the bounty of fresh fruits and especially vegetables here in Central Illinois has made it easy to want to eat the best and healthiest.  Dinner included not just the burgers, but sweet corn, beans, organic lettuce.  None of it hard to come by or make.  Come next winter, I'll probably wonder what possessed me to want to change the way we eat.  And for this winter it's probably too late for the most part, since I am not (yet) a canning or freezing whiz. 

But today I think I will buy a breadmaker.  I used to make lots of bread by hand, no machine for this girl.  Then I became a PT and worked with my hands all day and the allure of kneading bread lost it's, well, it's allure.  Then I became a mom and the deal was sealed.  No homemade bread in ages.  But after this book I'm thinking a breadmaker would be a good idea for us.  So I will hit the thrift shops and then if that fails, probably bite the bullet and buy a new one.

If anyone wants to borrow my copy of Animal Vegetable Miracle, just let me know.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Being Kim Tingley

The movie I saw last night was called Please Give.  The film was wonderful for it's reality, and not in a Reality-TV kind of way.  The people portrayed in the film are people you might know if you lived in New York.  A couple with a teenage daughter who has terrible acne and wants $200 jeans.  The lady next door who is crabby as hell but she's 91 after all.  The lady's granddaughters who take care of her, one painfully shy and sweet, the other a beautiful bad girl.  But nothing is exaggerated.  And while many things happen and change in the story, there is no perfect turn of events that resolves all the issues.  (The spy doesn't marry the single mom and live happily ever after, like in Friday night's film showing at our house, see yesterday's blog for details.)

It's more like real life.  And the "heroine" of this story makes embarrassing and painful mistakes while trying to help people.  And one of them is really really funny.  The others are just, well, embarrassing and painful to watch.  But real.

The heroine, Kate, is played by Catherine Keener.  While watching the movie last night, I kept trying to remember what films I had seen her in before.  I could not come up with it no matter how hard I tried. I asked Willemina and she said of course she had seen her in several films too but couldn't remember which ones.  (That's what happens when 2 "mature women" go to the movies.)  So this morning I googled CK and found out she was in one of my favorite really really weird movies of all time, Being John Malkovich!  Oh, yes.  Now I remember!

Willemina paid for my movie ticket!  She said it was because I watered her flowers while she was on vacation.  What a great exchange that was for me.  Its good, being Kim Tingley!  Maybe Catherine will play me in the movie version.