Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brazilian Steak Salad

 The salad I made and photographed. The family loves the salad but hates waiting while I take pictures when they're hungry.  They call me an addicted blogger.  I think I stand guilty as charged.  An

Best to start this by 10 a.m. so the flavor has good, long time to soak in to the meat by dinner (supper?) time.

You'll need:

Thinly sliced steak (I prefer stir-fry thin, but I was in a real big hurry). Use a big Ziploc bag and add some vegetable oil, minced garlic, ground black  pepper, worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, and any fresh herbs you enjoy.  Taste the sauce and tweak it to your likes.

Place the meat in the bag with those ingredients, and zip it shut, getting all the air out. Then massage the meat and put it in the fridge. The longer the better. Massage it every so often. All day is ideal, but I have been known to massage the heck out of the meat while the grill pan or wok is heating up.  

Quickly sear the meat. We like it medium, so stir-frying it for 3-5 minutes tops, is our preferred method. Let the meat rest while you make the rest of the salad. I actually like to plate each one because I like to play with my food, and everyone else's, and arrange it artistically. Yes, I'm a Food Network junkie, can'tcha tell?

The other ingredients for the salad are:

fresh baby greens
chunks of avocado
crumbled feta
crumbled cooked bacon (optional, but isn't everything better with bacon??)
seasoned croutons
chopped red onion
raspberry walnut vinaigrette (if you buy bottled, I recommend Ken's)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Artist's Cheeks

My 10-year-old is really into drawing. He's also really into hockey. So it came as no surprise--only a delight--when he decided to draw a picture of Capitals' player Alexander Ovechkin. 

 I love his artwork, watching him bite his lip when he's concentrating, listening to him critique it as he goes.

 "Faces are hard!"he exclaims. 
"Not yours," I say, "Yours is soft." 
"Don't say that! Soft is not manly." 
"Sorry, but it's true. You will have whiskers soon enough. You are manly in every other way." 
He rolls his eyes.

 "The T on Capitals should be longer," he notes,  and then he asks, "Mom, do you think this is good?"   

"Of course it is. It's better than good, and I'm not just saying that because you're my kid." 

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not," I say, stroking his cheeks. "The posture, the detail, the placement, it's all very good," I add, as much to encourage him as to keep stroking his beautiful baby soft face as I stand behind him.

I love those whipped cream cheeks. I love the way God made skin so incredibly soft on children. 

That's something no other artist can replicate.  Praise to the Maker of cheeks!

Monday, June 25, 2012


I have a lot on my mind and my heart right now that needs concentrated prayer. There are things around the house that need my focused attention.  My tendency is to "zone out" online to distract myself from the really important things I should devote my time to. 

To that end, I am pulling back from blogging yet again, and putting serious limits on Facebook time. I have
a three-page punch list to keep me busy around the house, but I also need to talk to and listen to God again because my heart is burdened.  I need to have some important conversations this week with certain  humans as well. That doesn't happen when my attention is absorbed by a screen and some lettered keys.

I'll be back. I simply need to take care of matters in "real life."

I have a few posts scheduled, so it might seem I am  blogging this week, but I'm not. 

Hope you have a productive and/or fun week yourself.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monet Spoon Rest (Painted and Baked Tile)

I painted this tile (inspired by Monet's Japanese Bridge over Water Lilies) and am using it as a spoon rest near my stove.  It needs some felt pads on the bottom, which I plan to put on this week. 

If you'd like to make one, it's quite simple.  

You need: 

one blank 4x4 white tile   (or get a few; they're cheap and you will get hooked on this project!)
assorted acrylic paint tubes (smallest ones) in white, grey, yellow, green, blue, and magenta
small, flat paintbrush
paper towel
cover for table surface
smock or old shirt you don't mind getting paint on (acrylic is hard to wash out of fabric)
felt square (4x4) 
Elmer's glue

I started with the trees by mixing blues and yellows first to make various greens. (You can buy greens if you'd prefer.) . Better yet, use  the impressionists'  method of visually mixing colors by placing them side by side with dashes and dots. That is, magenta next to blue will appear purple. Green next to yellow will "read" as yellow green. 

Don't make any judgments on your piece as you go. It will turn out beautifully. 

After I did the trees, I worked on the water and the lilies. Look closely: there are no "real" lilies or other flowers. The dashes of color only give the "impression" of flowers on the water and banks of the stream. 

Next, paint the sun. Again, it's just dashes of color, not a sun "shape," per se.  If  you are trying to convey and earlier time of day,  make the sun area broader and lighter.  You can lighten by using a lighter shade of the same color, or add white to the yellow first, although doing so can sometimes "muddy" the effect. I prefer to use various shades of color side by side.

When the background is dry (in less than a half hour, usually) , paint the bridge. 

In the upper third of the tile, paint three grey arcs, equally spaced.  Then paint grey vertical bars on the bridge,  Then paint a thin white line to the left of each of those grey space bars. (It's okay if the grey mixes with the white a bit.) It makes the space bars appear to glisten in the sun. 

When the whole thing is dry, sign and date your piece with a fine black Sharpie. 

Once you are satisfied with the painting, it's time to bake the tile. It must be baked in order to seal the color. Otherwise, the color will come right off. 

Here's what to remember: COOL HOT COOL

2. Heat it to 350 degrees. 
3. Bake for 30 minutes.  
4. Turn oven off but leave tile in there and don't touch it!!!

To use it as a spoon rest or coaster, be sure to glue a big square of felt or felt  pads on the bottom side. 
Tile will scratch things so keep it away from glass  or porcelain cooktops and wood furniture until you've put the pads on it. 


Acrylic is very forgiving, which I love. It mixes easily, wipes easily off when wet, can be painted over when dry (if you don't like the color after it's dry), it washes off brushes with soap and water, it's inexpensive, comes in a vast array of color, and gives a more pleasing result than tempera. (If you're working with kids under age 6, tempera is fine, but it has a dull appearance by comparison.)  I have found that kids love the "professional" looking result (ie shiny and not "schoolish") and thus feel that much prouder of their art.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Real

Gypsy Mama Lisa Jo Baker wrote  a post back in May on the topic of "Real."  It was  her Five Minute Friday that particular day, and a link I happened upon while skipping around. Thought I'd springboard from that topic.

The idea is to write for five minutes straight without editing, overthinking, worrying about mistakes. Just write. Not to impress, or for blog hits or comments, she says, but just to write.


 I love to set goals, make lists, think and plan to accomplish so many things. But  to be real honest, I am not nearly so good at achieving my goals. I used to be. Used to have crazy wild energy and motivation. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be one of those people who just does things because they have to be done, and that's motivation enough.

Yes, of course, that's me much of the time...doing laundry because someone is wearing the last pair of underwear which he says he turned inside out today because he wore it yesterday.  Just to make me scream, or laugh, not because he's for real.  I cook, clean, run errands, take care of the dogs, fill the gas tank, because those things need to be done. Sometimes I like it , sometimes I don't.

But you want to know my real reward for doing things? Getting to do something fun or enjoyable. Last week I sat on the sideline of the basketball practice with legal pad and pen. Made 3 pages of lists of things to be done around here.

Then I thought most of those aren't very fun.

So I 'm gonna make me another list of things are fun for me. Real fun. Or at least relaxing or rewarding.
Today my first reward is to pick up mystery photos. These were one-time use cameras from who knows when. Maybe 7, 8. 10 years ago?  Seeing them will be motivation for all the floor mopping I've done lately as a result of having an old dog with a bladder the size of a roll of film.  For real.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pick a Little, Talk a Little

What's that, you ask? A Chesapeake Bay crab feast! Perhaps I suggested it?  After all, it IS my favorite way to welcome summer.

A true Marylander can pick crabs with her eyes shut.

This father is in his element when the family is together and happy, and when the O's are winning.
Not necessarily in that order. 
 Rachel introduced us to microwave corn on the cob. I admit I was skeptical, but I was impressed at how easy and good it is.

Sometimes there are nasty things inside the crabs. We analyze them, compare them to other nasty things, remove them, and keep pickin'.  Reminds me of the song from The Music Man: "Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheepcheepcheep, talk a lot, pick a little more."

My daughter-in-law Dee looks too put together for a crab feast.   Ben, not so much.  

Joel got to play basketball with his oldest brother. Whatever time he spends with Ben is bliss.
Steve and Ambrey were celebrating 18 months since their first date. Gollee, ain't that just preshiss?

Whether family comes from the next town over, or the next county, or from halfway across the country, there's always something to celebrate. Being together is reason enough for me to celebrate the things I once took for granted--family meals with everyone there just about all the time. 

Now, in midlife, as I look across the table at the faces of my dear ones who gather upon invitation and after checking their respective calendars, I realize that having meals with them is one of the greatest joys of my life. And when that table is set with newspaper, crab mallets or butter knives, a roll of paper towels, something cold to drink, some sweet corn on the cob, and a boatload half bushel of Maryland blue crabs seasoned with a thick layer of Old Bay, you can hardly peel me away.  Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fore for Four on Father's Day

I knew from the first day I met Paul that he'd be a great dad.  We talked during our engagement about wanting four kids. 
Our plan and prayer was to have four kids in 10 years. 

Kid  #1 came along 15 months after we were married. I think God yelled "FORE!" and we had a split second to duck. 

 Like all firstborns, Ben was the "practice child."  We made a lot of mistakes trying to get the knack of parenting. Swing, miss, swing, hit, swing more to the left, swing more to the right, choke up, ease back on your grip, keep your eye on the flag, relax and breathe and follow through. All that kind of self-talk that makes it sound like I know all about golf and parenting.   Bwahahaha. 

Anyhow, Kid 4 got  his height,  athleticism,  penchant for politics, and a strong business sense from his dad. Oh, and skinny legs.

Kid #2. She got his heart.  From the moment we found out we were expecting a second child, he hoped he would get a daughter because he wanted one named Sarah Grace. How did I discover I was expecting her? She flipped inside me. Yes, she did.   Then WE flipped! Two days later in mid-December, the sonogram tech said, "Congratulations! You're 22 weeks along. This baby is due in April."  It was kind of fun to realize how God likes to slip  arrows into our quiver when we weren't looking. So to speak.

Kid 3 came along two years after the second.    I was scared stiff about raising three children in four years. The first baby had been easy, the second one hard, and I feared the pattern would be "easy, hard, impossible." Instead, Stephen was the most cheerful, pleasant, and undemanding child of all. 

He got his  wit, mathematical prowess, love for scriptures, penny-pinching ways, and his golf swing from his dad.

Kid 4.  Obviously we didn't get our four kids in 10 years. We got three in four years, then had the last one 10 years later.  That's a whole 'nother blog post, as they say. ("They" do say that, don't "they"?)
  From Dad the last one got his love for football, his artistic talent, musical inclination, interest in coins and magic, and a die-hard disdain for 
 being in pictures. For that reason, I love this candid shot I got of him. That sweet smile.

Well, Kid 1  had to grow up and hit puberty which, as  Kid #4 defines it, is "the time when you actually LIKE the other gender for some reason, some really dumb reason."  

And when Kid #1 found a certain  member of the other gender to be irresistible  and impossible to live without,  he married her.  That's when our four became five.   

"Five" always paints her ten.

Most people choose golf clubs based on proper length and  comfortable grip.  Other people have different criteria.. 
Male bonding.  Fore!
Back at the ranch, as it were, we had Father's Day Kabobs.  They had the words "hot voodoo" in the name.  Yeah, they were powerful hot! My girl can cook and she really blessed her dad by letting him take over standing near him while he did the manly-dad thing of tending the grill.  (The night before, she had asked me, "How much do you wanna bet that Dad will be out there even though he says he doesn't want to cook?") 

He's so predictable. We can count on him being a father eager to help out , 
eager to be with his family,

 but not so eager to pose for perfunctory patriarchal pictures with the progeny. 



Shake, Rattle, and Roll into the Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday again already, and that means you get to see a  set of random and fun Q & A here. The questions, as always, come From This Side of the Pond, AKA Joyce.  The answers, as always, come from yours truly.  After reading my answers, why not hop around the Pond? Better yet, link up, even if you've never done so before. Come on, you know you want to.

1. Summer officially rolls in with the Hodgepodge this week, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere anyway. What song says summer 2012 to you?

Specifically summer 2012, not just any summer?  Good question. I'm going to say "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," for obvious reasons.  I also have the song "Close to You" going through my head because these two dogs of mine would sing that if they could,  I'm sure.

2. What's your favorite quintessential summer food?

Corn on the cob every summer. But THIS summer we have Sonic now "just up the street," so we like their Chocolate Malted Milkshake.  I also tried it with banana and can I just say, "WOW"!  Basically any shake says summer. 

3. I've spent a lot of time traipsing up and down the NJ Turnpike in recent weeks. Did you know the rest areas on the turnpike are named after people who lived or worked in NJ? Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, J. Fennimore Cooper, Molly Pitcher, Joyce Kilmer, Thomas Edison, and Grover Cleveland just to name a few. Of those I listed, who would you most like to have known and why? 

Clara Barton.  She had a heart of compassion for the sick and wounded, particularly soldiers, and mobilized hundreds of people to help in the cause to comfort and aid them.  Like Barton, I have  a special place in my heart for soldiers, the homeless, and the disenfranchised people of society. When I am burdened to help, I also can mobilize people to join the "mission," so to speak.  I would love to ask Clara Barton if she is pleased with the way her legacy is being carried on (the American Red Cross, specifically).  Working in Washington, DC, she probably would've had something to say to FEMA when Katrina hit.  But that's water under the bridge now, I suppose.

One interesting tidbit: Clara Barton died just three days before Titanic sank. Can you imagine how her heart  would have broken at the news ?  

4. At what age did you move out of your parent's house and what prompted the move? 

It was somewhat gradual. I was 18 when I moved away to college in western Pennsylvania,  19 when I lived at the beach for a  summer, and then officially got my own apartment (in Baltimore city) on my 20th birthday.

I was prompted by a desire for independence, which was both good and bad.  Part of me just wanted to be all grown up and responsible --but I wanted to be responsible to no one but myself . Ha! What a foolish thought. I soon learned I had to pay bills so I had to answer to a boss at my job, had to keep my grades up for scholarship, which meant I was responsible to teachers, and I had to answer to my landlord, the phone company, BG&E, my car insurance carrier, and on and on it went.

5. What's more satisfying to you-saving time or saving money?

Wow, another great question!  At first I was going to say time.  It harkens back to my days as a waitress. Save as many steps as possible and do as much as you can in one trip.   But I feel a greater thrill when I save money intentionally. Best of all? Saving both at once, which is why we're getting ready to refinance the home mortgage. Rates are at an all-time low and we're fixing to shave 10 years off our loan. Yay!

6. Name something you think brings out the good in people. 

A crisis.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, blizzards.  Haven't we seen all of them unite neighbors who don't really speak to each other under "normal" conditions? How about the person who runs into a burning house to save  a complete stranger?  How about when someone has outrageous medical bills not covered by insurance, and people rally together to raise the money? Those are just a few ways I can think of.

7. This last question comes to you courtesy of Kathy over at Reflections...will you be taking a vacation or a staycation this summer? If so where will you go? If a staycation is on the calendar have you made any special plans to fill the time? 

We haven't made plans yet, but I am sure we'll go away  in August to a warm place and soak up sun and do some swimming and shopping. ( =I didn't mean to put so many s's --esses?--  into one sentence.  So sorry. Nothing says summer like stuffing  the sedan with siblings and suitcases for a sunny seven at the shore.)

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

Just a question.  Do you think rattlesnakes should be federally protected? In other words, should it be illegal to kill them even if they are on your property?  We were informed that these cold-blooded killers are protected by law in our state because they help control the rat and mouse population.  Guess what? They also control the human and canine population.  What would YOU do if a rattlesnake was on YOUR tomato stake and rattled at you?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fit and Feeble, Otherwise Known as Reilly and Brownie

This is Reilly, a purebred golden retriever we adopted last February. He is now 2.5 years old. And he's fit.

This is Brownie, our new old dog. She is a purebred German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) and will be 14 years old in August.  She's feeble.

We've had her less than two weeks and we love her.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, she belonged to a man who passed away a year ago, the uncle of my hubby's co-worker.  His daughter, for health reasons of her own, couldn't look after Brownie any more but couldn't bear to give her up to just anyone-- or to any shelter than might euthanize her. After all, senior dogs are extremely hard to place. Children want young pets.  In fact, our own son Joel is having some issues with her age.  Afraid to bond, I think. He nearly cries when she stumbles or falls, when she moves slowly and doesn't hear him call her.  It almost makes him cry. The first day, he actually did cry that he didn't want her because she "doesn't do anything" and "she's just gonna die like Molly."  His soft heart doesn't want to be broken again. (Whose does?) We've had to console him a few times and help him love her for however many days, months, or years she has left.  She needs a family to love her gently, a yard to exercise in, nature to watch from the deck, a comfy bed indoors, regular meals (before, she was left on a covered screen porch, "self-regulating" with a bowl of food left out all day--not a good habit).  I took her to the vet for a check-up and she has quite the diagnostic rap sheet.  COPD, arthritis  in her spine and every joint (she'd blown an ACL in her youth, he said), partial deafness, cataracts,a deformed larynx,  decaying teeth and gingivitis.

Sidenote: I tried not to giggle in front of the vet when, instead of calling her a GSP,  he kept referring to her as a GPS.  I mean, half-blind and mostly mute does not a good GPS make.  

But on the upside Brownie has an athletic heart.  A sweet heart. A precious heart. She is as gentle as a nap. And believe me, this old gal knows how to nap. Once in a while, Reilly joins her.

They always flank that corner chair just like this, except now we have an orthopedic pillow for her.
He lays down right over the air vent, smart kid. Cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
 Reilly spends most of his time refueling in other ways besides sleeping.
He is nothing if he's not retrieving tennis balls. He drops them on the patio and waits for the next throw.

Someone else waits for her next dream.
Or the next meal. Or a person to scratch her face. She is ticklish on her sides, but she loves to have her forehead and cheeks scratched. 

 I've thought more about heaven every day in the past two weeks than I've thought about it in six months.
The contrast between these two dogs keeps me ever mindful of life in a fallen world. Reilly personifies
youth and vitality, athleticism, endurance. He has keen hearing and amazing eyesight. He never limps. He inhales his food and begs for more. He drinks a lot, too,  but has a 10-hour bladder. He keeps learning trick after trick from that bright mind of his. Brownie, on the other hand, takes her time getting up, finding her balance and strength. She snores. She eats slowly and needs to pee every three hours. 

Both of them follow me around the house like sheep follow a shepherd.  Both have my heart and I will do my best to give them the unique kind of love they each need, for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Blog Title?

I'm considering changing the name of my blog.  When I wrote my first-ever blog post in 2005, I didn't know the difference between a blog and a post.  I didn't realize it's the difference between a  journal and an entry, a newspaper and an article.  The techy stuff was so new and confusing to me that when I was asked to put "blog title"  when I was setting up my blog, I put the title of my first post, "A Penchant for Pens."  The post was an essay on my love for the writing utensil, and had a spiritual twist to it.

The title has been fine with me for seven years, but I have the "seven year itch" now in this marriage with my blog.I still have a penchant for pens.  I'm sure I always will.

As a title, "A Penchant for Pens" is unique in blog world, and so that's a plus. But it doesn't really capture what my blog is about, except for a nod to a love for writing and art. Maybe that's enough.  But maybe it's time for change.

Other things in my life are changing (in big ways) so why not bring the blog along? Maybe my blog is going through menopause. Maybe it needs a new direction. No, I'm not discontent with the direction. I don't plan to change it to one singular theme. I am perfectly happy with the freedom to write about whatever suits my fancy.

My regular readers don't seem to mind that I write about "whatever," and for those who just stop in for a visit, I can't promise what'll be on the menu. That is, I will continue to write about family, teaching, dogs, art, traveling, God, goals, food, marriage, aging in midlife, decorating, homemaking, friends, the "whole nine yards."  I will still participate in memes because I enjoy them and the added fun of getting comments from various readers who like the same sorts of things.

One thing  I can't promise, however, is that I'll ditch my corny sense of humor. It's the only sense I have.  I'm stuck with it, and so are you if you stick around with me.

Have I considered other  blog titles? Nope. I am just in the embryonic stage of ideas. It could take 40 weeks, just like a baby, to fully develop and be named.

Got suggestions? Comments? Feedback? Should I keep the name? I'm also considering buying a dot come domain for more freedom, but I really have no clue what I'm doing after that.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gaggle of Goals

At the beginning of the year, I decided to try monthly resolutions or goals instead of yearly ones. I had read about this seemingly more doable idea on other blogs and it appealed to my tendency to start well but finish poorly. Could I keep up for 30  or 31 days what seems narry impossible for 365? Maybe, maybe not, but it couldn't hurt to try.

Jan- Big Goal-- find a part-time job to help ease the financial pressure we're under right now.  YES AND NO.  I babysit two Friday nights a month. It's not much, but it's something.
Smaller goals: practice listening intently to people and not interrupting or overtalking them .  I DO BELIEVE I have improved in this; at least I am very much aware that I talk less, listen more, and still pretty much hate it when people interrupt me or overtalk me.  Funny how critical one can be of others who share the same bad habits.
 xercise 3-4x/wk;  NOPE. lose 8 lb.  NOPE.  send 8 cards by snail mail YEP. finish the gift for my mom's b'day. YEP (a scrapbook of their 50th; she loved it).

Feb- Big Goal: lose 8 more pounds NOPE  and crave good colorful food.  YEP How? Eat 5 different colors of fruit and/or veggies every day. This plan really works. I love color and I love just about all fruit and vegetables, so it's not hard to crave. It's a bit challenging to keep going to the store for fresh items, though. I loathe grocery shopping.
March-- Big Goal: Get Ben happily married off!  YEP. And he is still happily married after 3 months, aren't you glad to know? :)  How to get him happily married off (meaning he is happy and so was I in the midst of the wedding wackies). ? Do everything possible within me to live peaceably in the midst of stress.  GOD really graced the wedding and protected my heart from "sweating the small stuff."   For things I pondered later that I would change if possible, well I have three more children to marry off (if God will) .  

Smaller goals: lose 4 more pounds.  NOPE. (See a theme here?)  
April- Big Goal: To rekindle the romance in our relationship and celebrate it. How? Take a trip together, just the two of us.  NOPE. 
May- Big Goal: to improve the aesthetics in one room of the house for under $50.   NOPE. How: Thoroughly declutter ,deep clean, repaint, change fixtures and/or furniture as necessary.
June- Big Goal: walk the dog 4x/ wk for 15 mins minimum. How? With the leash:)  We unexpectedly got a new dog a week ago and I have walked her at least 4 times.  The other dog loves to retrieve tennis balls that I throw off the deck. He will do this over and over and over and over and over, up and down the stairs, into the woods, over the fence if necessary, and so his exercise is plentiful. 

I've thought about making some more  goals for the summer, regardless what my original plan was.   The top 5:

1. Send 3 cards or letters a week (hello, get well, sympathy, thank you) as appropriate. It feels good to send and receive snail mail. 
2.  Do at least two fun things a week with or for my youngest.  (Note to new readers: our three oldest are self-contained for entertainment; the youngest is sort of an "only child" most of the time as he is 10 years younger than the thirdborn.)
3.  Complete a small makeover project of some sort with items I already own. NOTHING NEW till I've dealt with the old.
4.  Scrapbook 6 pages of photos.   Any subject, any occasion. Just do it.
5.  Sponsor a boy  and write to him.  (Compassion or Covenant Mercies, not sure yet.)

How about you? Are you a goal setter? Short or long term? Are you usually successful and how do you handle not meeting your goals?  

I will count it a success if  I:

-make good memories
-make a home improvement
-make a personal goal happen
-make a difference in someone's life

To that end, I am off to make memories today with my sister and nephews, my daugher and youngest son. We are going to lunch at a favorite decades-old summer sub-and-ice-cream shop, play a round of miniature golf, come back and "chill" at the house, and then see "Hello, Dolly!" at the community college theatre this evening. It's the same theatre where I played Amaryllis ("Music Man") when I was in fifth grade. So many good memories because my dad and older sister were also cast members.  I love live shows and this should be a really fun one.  So, let's hear it for starting with a fun goal !

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Horsing Around With the Hodgepodge

Saddle up! Put your feet in the stirrups, secure your cap, get your crop ready, and listen for the sound of the starting gun.

Well, actually, it's neither that complicated nor that exciting to be a jockey here at my Hodgepodge today.  But I do hope you "jockey for a position" in front of your screen and keep reading!

Thanks, Joyce, for once again charming us with your veritable Chex mix of questions. 

1. How many students were in your high school graduating class? Did you know most, if not all of them?
I think it was about 300, and no, I did not know most of them. I  had switched from a small Christian school to begin my junior year (just because I wanted to go to a prom). At that school, I knew everyone. But not so for my public school graduating class.  I knew most of the seniors, some of the underclassmen.  Of course everyone belonged to one clique or another.  Jocks, preps, potheads, nerds, brains, and a vague unlabeled group of people. That was my group.  
2. What was the last thing you photographed?
I took a picture of my youngest child receiving his Excellence in Art award yesterday. (And no, I am not his art teacher!)  His teacher said he has a natural gift for art, is good at following directions for the project, but then excels at making the project uniquely his.  Oh, wait. The wasn't the last thing I photographed. He spent two  hours making a huge Soccer Championship MVP trophy out of cardboard and aluminum foil. He took it to school and at recess yesterday, presented it to a classmate who scored two goals and had one assist. I was really proud of his thoughtfulness, perseverance,  and creativity. The boys in his class are very competitive, but have a keen sense of fairness and terrific camaraderie. They were all very jubilant when the boy who deserved the (homemade) trophy actually won it. They didn't argue about it.
3. Pickles-love 'em or loathe 'em? If it's love,  what's something you eat that needs a pickle?
Hmm. I neither love nor loathe pickles.  I have to be in the mood for a pickle, and when I am, I  crave them. Bread and butter pickles straight out of the jar remind me of my grandma's canned pickles.  A dill spear is the perfect accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich, and I love chopped sweet pickles in tuna salad.  
4. What's a stereotype you seem to perpetuate without meaning to?
Women drivers.  I sometimes drive "in a daze," cut people off as a result (not on purpose), parallel park a good thirty inches from the curb and forty feet from the car behind me. (My depth perception rots.)  
5. Ever been horse back riding? If so is it something you enjoy? If not, do you have any interest? Did you watch the Kentucky Derby? Will you be watching the last leg of the Triple Crown this weekend? 

     My dad, Ben, and Sarah atop Brandy
I love--or should I say--loved (past tense)--horseback riding.  When I lived in Kansas, my favorite horse belonged to a boy named Darren. The horse's name was Chocolate and we got to ride him about once a month or so in the summer.  My friend Barb and I also "borrowed" a couple of Shetland ponies from a mutual friend one Sunday afternoon and took them for a trot through the cemetery when my parents were napping. (I had told them I was just going over to Barb's to play, which was fine with them. I knew they wouldn't be fine with me doing what we'd really schemed up to do.)

If you've  never trotted a wild pony over 102 gravestones on a Sunday afternoon with a very loose saddle, then put it on your bucket list. But put it last. It could be your last day alive.  Sure felt like it might've mine! I mean, if the ride didn't kill us, my folks surely would, and right back to the cemetery we would go. "Here she lies because she lied."

When I was 12, I took riding lessons for a couple of years, and my parents bought us a horse named Brandy (a Thoroughbred-Morgan) who lived for 26 years. She was primarily my sister Andrea's horse (the natural blonde in this picture). Andrea has always been the "horse person" and animal whisperer. This picture was taken when my aunt and little cousin came for a visit when my folks still had the farm, my sister was fresh out of the Air Force, my prepubescent son wasn't fearful of straddling a horse bareback, my daughter was just as precious as ever, and I had colored my hair for the second and last time ever.

About the races: I watched replays of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and plan to watch the Belmont.  I am so praying for I'll Have Another to win the Triple Crown.  So much excitement! I think our nation needs something to get worked up about other than politics. Give us equestrian ecstasy, I say, and this country will be on the right "track' to reform.  That said, I'll have another Republican President for a change, thank you. 
6. What's your favorite 'wedding' movie?
The Wedding Singer was pretty darn funny.  Most wedding movies are too cheesy for me to sit through.
7. What is one 'tourist attraction' in the USA that you'd like to see in person?
Mount Rushmore. 
8. Insert your own random thought here.

May I share three random thoughts? Sure, I can. It's my blog.

1. We're getting a new (old) dog on Thursday. More on that later. 
2.  My sister will be visiting us from TX on Friday. 
3.  We must be nuts.

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