Monday, May 30, 2005

Joycie the Gardener

Joycie decided she wanted to grow a garden over at her Gramma & Grampa's. My folks have a beautiful garden spot on the river flats. When I was a kid, we grew a huge garden there, and worked in it all summer long, then spent hours upon hours picking, digging, hauling, freezing and canning all the fruits, er... vegetables, of our labors. We grew a lot of what we ate throughout the year. It's incredible to me to think of that now, doing that for us would be drastically different from how we live and what we eat. Anyway, as a kid, I got so that I hated to weed the garden. But, one of the first things I did as an land-owning adult, when we bought our property as newly married 20-somethings, was to plant a garden. I kept a garden for quite a few years. It was significantly smaller than any my folks ever planted, and I generally lost half of it to deer, rabbits and other critters. We are so much in the woods on our place, that I eventually learned it just wasn't worth it. Not enough sun and too many thieves.

A few years back, my folks quit planting a garden. It's a helluva lot of work, from start to finish, and they decided they were just too tired of it. Gettin' old. They do some flower gardening and stuff, but no big vegetable gardens any more. Though, my Dad still keeps the garden spot tilled nicely. I'm not sure how it came to be that Joycie decided she wanted to grow a garden this summer, but I was all for it. I told her to just do a small one, but as gardens will do, it grew into a big ol' idea.

I helped her yesterday and today, and I think we planted close to an acre all told. Joyce has No Idea What She's Gotten Herself Into! She's gonna be weeding and weeding and weeding...! And weeding and weeding and weeding....

Her Dad helped her Big Time, too -- he spent several hours installing a 4-strand electric fence around it to keep the critters out (as much as possible).

It was really fun to plant it with her, and she enjoyed it, too. Here's the list of her plantings: tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, zuchini, butternut squash, pumpkins, watermelons, green onions, spanish onions, leeks, carrots, parsnips, beets, lettuces, green beans, peas, potatoes, corn. Plus some flowers for picking, like zinnias, etc., and a row of sunflowers. I probably forgot some, too. It was a beautiful weekend for planting a nice, big garden!

Living the Life of Reilly

So now we know how Reilly spends his time when we're not around.


My oldest sister, Janet, and her husband, Bob, had all of us over for a bbq dinner. Well, all of us except my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Bob, and Michelle and Michael... who were busy all day, like the day before, going to graduation open houses. I think they had 4 yesterday.

Dinner was wonderful. Bob grilled pork tenderloin. MMMmmmm! My brother, Jim, and his wife, Sue, brought a bunch of Morel mushrooms, which Sue fried up. They were superb. Janet made potato salad, and I baked some beans. I also stuck a couple of chickens in the oven with a Bud Light up their butt, & they turned out pretty darn good. We usually make beer-butt-chicken on the grill, but that takes a long time and you have to babysit it. Oven style was A-OK. Much easier. I also found 3 packages of smoked sausage in the freezer, so I made up a sauce, kind of like a sweet and spicy bbq I guess, sliced up the sausage and cooked in the sauce in a crock pot for hours. Wish I could remember what all I put in that sauce because that turned out pretty darn good as well. Sauce was great on the chicken. We all stuffed ourselves and then watched a DVD ('National Treasure', great movie). We'd planned to have a campfire, but it rained.

One thing about our family dinners is that us girls always have to remember to cook differently, that is, NO ONIONS. My dad and my brother both hate onions. Growing up, we never had anything with onions or garlic in it, and I thought I didn't like onions. As a young adult, it didn't take me long to discover that I LOVE ONIONS. And garlic. My kids tease me that I would even use it for an ice cream flavor. Most everything I cook (and I love to cook) has onions and/or garlic in it. It's difficult for me to cook without them, really, and sometimes I flub up and put 'em in without thinking when I'm making a dish for a family get-together.

At the dinner table last night, the conversation turned to onions, as it often does. I think we end up talking about onions because I or one of my sisters will end up assuring my dad or my brother that, "yes, you can eat that, it has no onions in it" or "Dad, don't take any of that, I threw onions in it by mistake."

Dad was saying that once he ate baked beans somewhere and they put onions in them. He was aghast that someone would actually even think of putting onions into perfectly good baked beans, and that it was a strange combination anyway. I disagreed, of course, and said some baked bean recipes need onions. (I usually make my beans with just maple syrup and dry mustard, with a little molasses added in, and my dad loves my baked beans.) Dad said that the Germans and Dutch (his ancestry) would put onions in EVERYTHING, but never in baked beans. By this, I think he meant to explain that if the German and Dutch cooks didn't use onions in baked beans, then onions and baked beans were never meant to be together in one dish.

Since my gramma was Dutch and married a German, my brother said something like how Dad must have had it rough as a kid... hating onions so much and having a mom that cooked freely with them. Dad said, "Nope, my mom spoiled me. If she made fried potatoes, she would make a small skillet of them on the side without onions for me. But on the few, very few, occasions when my mom went away, which was probably only four times in my life, my gramma would cook for us. Gramma thought she was clever, she'd add onions to everything, and she'd add them to the side skillet and try to get me to eat them. She'd say, 'it's all in your head,' and I'd say, 'of course it is, Gramma, that's where my taste buds are.'"

Congratulations, Michelle-Belle

My niece, Michelle, is now a high school graduate. With High Honors and in the top ten of her class. I'm so proud of her. Smart and beautiful!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Goodbye, Gabrielle

We will miss you, but we know you had to leave now.

May has been a busy month, and I had moments of self-pity you wouldn't believe. Perspective for me was achieved sadly.

The day before yesterday, a young friend of ours lost her battle with cancer. Gabrielle was 3 1/2 years old. She was a beautiful child, inside and out. I am glad to have had the opportunity to know her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Laughing Girl

Earlier this evening, while I was on the computer, Joyce took my camera and started taking photos of the dog. I could hear her coaxing him and laughing uproariously. When Joycie gets that belly laugh going, it's pretty dang cute.

She took 47 photos of the dog, some with props.

I don't know what was more funny, her photos of the most willing Reilly (he LOVES her) or how funny she thought it was!

The Case of the Mysterious Draft

My computer, printer and other stuff is on my rolltop desk, which is situated right in the thick of things... we have an open floor plan, aka great room, where the living room, dining room and kitchen are one big open area. My desk is right in the middle. I used to have my computer stuff away in another room, but I missed out on a lot. With it right here, I can be with my family while I use the computer, and I enjoy that very much. My husband gave this desk to me as a gift in honor of my birthing our daughter. A birth day present. I love this desk. It's not an old or antique desk, and it's not very valuable. It's nice and it was more than we could really afford at the time... it's a relatively inexpensive Made-in-Mexico variety, but hey, we were pretty darn broke back then. And I don't have to worry about drilling some big ass holes in it for all the electrical cords.

Because of the configuration, I end up sitting off-center at the desk, basically straddling the left side of drawers. Each side has 3 drawers, 1 large one (hanging file size) and 2 small ones, half that size. This may sound uncomfortable, but it's not.

When I put my hand near the drawers, I can feel this faint draft. I noticed it because my leg kept getting cold. I would get up and check all the windows in the dining room to make sure we didn't leave any open (once in the dead of Winter, we left a window cracked an inch for days, all the while thinking, boy, the dining room is a bit nippy). Finally, I noticed this little air current near the drawers. But it's not there all the time. So I called my hubby over and said feel this.

He said, yeah, there's a duct vent under this side. Hmm, we must've left it open.

I have to admit, I liked my little draft more when it was from a mysterious source.

More Freaks of Nature Moments

We have two beautiful flowering trees in our front yard; I can't remember if they're flowering plum or crabapple or what now. Anyway, I got 4 of these trees as a Mother's Day gift about 12 years ago. We planted them, and they didn't do well... so about 7 or 8 years ago, we moved all 4 of them. The 2 out front are surpassing the other 2, but I don't want to risk transplanting the other 2 again. Might do them both in.

Every year, the 2 trees out front are loaded with beautiful, dark pink blossoms. Beautiful, showy twin trees of gorgeousness. I love coming up the driveway, making that last bend and seeing those 2 trees.

This year, however, one of the twins is definitely having some issues.

Bird Psychoses

We have had some strange bird moments here on the ol' homestead. For example, for quite a few Summers in a row, we had a turkey that would peck on our basement windows, likely at his own reflection. Peck, peck, peck, bang, bang, bang. At sunrise on a Summer morning. Over and over and over. And over. He's not been around for a couple of years, so either he got smarter or he got to be dinner. Either way, yay.

Today, there was a small bird that kept flying at our windows. These windows are pretty high up on the North facing wall of our living room, above our French door that leads out onto our deck. Every once in a great while, a bird will fly directly into one of these windows, then fall down onto the deck either stunned or dead. This probably happens once or twice each year. The bird today was fluttering around the windows, only gently hitting against them. I think he thought it was an entrance to somewhere. Bonk, bonk, flutter, flutter, bonk. Off and on all day. He hasn't done it for a couple of hours, but he was just back at it again when I started this post. Hello. Fifty zillion bonks, you think he'd figure out, it ain't happenin'. Initially, I was intrigued.

But then after a bit, I realized that between bonking sessions, he was landing on the top of our patio table umbrella. Then I saw the umbrella finial was covered in bird shit. Ummm... not real happy about that. Bonk, bonk, bonk, flutter, bonk, bonk. It was getting annoying.

But then... I finally saw him. He's an Eastern Bluebird!!! I love bluebirds, and they are very, very rare around our area. We've lived on this property now for 20 years, and this is only the 2nd bluebird I've seen here. He's a beauty! Bonk all you want, bluebird! (Just please don't kill yourself.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Phone Conversation with My Dad

Me: How's your morning going, Dad?
Dad: It's on and off.
Me: On and off? What's that mean?
Dad: Sometimes I'm on my feet and sometimes I'm off my feet. Just now, I'm off.

Dad was born in 1930, so he's 75 this year. I was born in 1960, so Dad was 30 when I was born. And it's real easy to remember how old we are, since the last digit of our age = the last digit of any given year. It's actually pretty handy. For example, something will come on TV and my son will ask how old I was in 1971. Just that quick, I can say 11.

So this morning, while sitting in his Lazy Boy, my Dad has a phone conversation with me. I tell him that my son's next baseball tournament is in Battle Creek. So then my Dad tells me he once had a girlfriend who lived in Battle Creek. This was before he knew Mom or that Mom even existed. He said this girl, Margaret, and her family would come up here where they had a small house on the river. It was their weekend cabin. Sometimes Margaret's dad didn't want to drive her back home. (He had a 193? Buick. Man, that was a nice car.) So anyway, Dad would drive Margaret home to Battle Creek. That was quite a distance back then. It was in the summer of 1948, so Dad was 18. Turns out Margaret was bugging my Dad to marry him, but Dad said he didn't even have a job and wasn't thinking that way, so he cooled it with her. Dad said within a couple of days or weeks, anyway a short time, Margaret got married. That's what she wanted to do, to get married. Dad said for a wedding present, Margaret's father gave them a new car and the down payment on a house. That was Big Time back then, especially in my Dad's circle. Margaret's husband died a while ago, maybe a few years back. She called my Dad recently, just to catch up and talk about old times. Dad said she still considers them friends. I told him she was probably calling to find out if Mom was still alive. Dad laughed at that, then he said maybe. Turns out, a few years after Dad and Mom were married, they probably had 3 or 4 of their 5 kids by then, they ran into Margaret and her husband, and they had kids, too. (This had to be at least 45 years ago, because I wasn't born yet.) Margaret pulled my Dad aside and managed to tell him that if anything ever happened to his wife or his marriage, to let her know, because she was still waiting for him. The nerve! I said, see, she's still waiting. Dad said, nah, I'm not rich. I told him sometimes it's not about money, Dad, it's probably your full head of hair. Dad said maybe, because her husband was totally bald before his was 30, maybe she likes hair.

My Daddy, the heartbreaker. Women still pine for him after almost 60 years.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The 90%

And today we're livin' in the 90%... that chance of rain has been a reality throughout most of today, with intermittent sunshine... with a colorful result...

It was a beautiful full rainbow, but it was raining just hard enough that I couldn't get a good photo of the whole arc. It was fading in and out, and there was one moment of real brilliant color. That was gorgeous! I stood there catching rain in my mouth and forgot to take a photo.

A Big Day at Little League

Yesterday was opening day for our Little League. Our son is on a Minors team again this year, and he had a ball yesterday! (Pun most definitely intended.) We had a 90% chance of rain, but as one guy put it, we were lucky enough to be livin' in the 10%. It was a bit cloudy, but lots of sunshine... a beautiful day.

Sam pitched the first 2 innings, played 1st base, and hit a double, a triple, a single and then another triple. He was awesome! And the best part was that he had so much fun. It helped that his team won. It was so fun watching him have so much fun.

He was a bit nervous to start out pitching, but he loosened up and enjoyed it. His facial expressions ran the gamut...

Ahhh... That's Better

I'm nearly through a pot of coffee. Whew. Brain is somewhat more awake now. Husband left for work at 6:45 am. I awoke at just before 8:30 am*. Kids still sleeping. Made a pot of coffee, and sat down to log on and catch up on my blog reading.

Ran my tongue along my gum of my freshly brushed teeth, and thought, hey, I don't feel any stitches. No, no stitches. My gum is so smooth. Can I feel the incision? Hurts a little. Oh no, did I swallow all my stitches in the night while I slept? Yuk. It's been 4 days, no wait, 5 days, is that ok? Will I need to still go see the endodontist on Tuesday? Since my stitches are out already. (Coz I'd really like to do that hair cut appointment instead.) My heck, did I really swallow those stitches? That's kind of gross. They're not the dissolving kind. Will they pass on through or will they remain inside for years, like that show on the Discovery channel?

All the above in a matter of seconds. And then I put my tongue on the outside of my gum, next to my cheek... there they are! There are the stitches. Jeez-o-peets, what an idiot.

The older I get, the longer it takes for my brain to wake up in the morning. Y'all think that's just a cliche, but it's not. Same with the joints. (As in bones. Duh.) I remember in my 20's, not exactly jumping out of bed in the mornings, but getting out with quick ease and brain already whirring about the day's planned events (I've always been big on mental to do lists). Then in my 30's, I'd awake and lay there and review the lists in my head, take a moment to really wake and then get up. I'm not the type to go first to a sitting position on the bed and then wait a moment, then stand, which is what Kev has always done (knee injuries & surgeries). I go from prone to standing. Zip. Or rather, I used to. Now, in my 40's, I take a little longer, and I totally skip the list bit until I've had coffee.

Which is a smart thing to do, since apparently, my brain is the very last part of me to actually wake up. Swallowed my stitches. Goof ball.

*8:30 am is too much "sleeping in" for me. Remember when sleeping in meant get up at noon. Ha. No matter what time I go to bed, if I'm not up and about at the usual 5:30 or 6:00 am, especially if it's any time after 8:00 am, it's like my brain is fuzzy, and the later... the fuzzier. Very good thing I'm a morning person. Early morning.