Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

Answering the Hodgepodge questions yesterday got me thinking about family trips we took to visit grandparents when I was a young girl. My parents were both born and raised out west but thanks to the United States Marine Corps they ended up settling in New Jersey.

fyi-it's a loooong way from Colorado and New Mexico to the Garden State.

My parents had four kids and lived on a budget. I feel like hubs and I are constantly booking flights, boarding flights, removing shoes, belts and jewlery for security, synchronizing calendars with daughter1 and daughter2 for their flights here-there-and-everywhere, driving to and from airports large and small, managing frequent flyer accounts, and zippng suitcases.

Does reading that make you a little bit tired because living that makes me a little bit tired?

Anyway, back in the 60's and 70's such was not the case. Flying anywhere was something of a luxury so we didn't visit my grandparents every year. Both sets typically made the trek to our house once a year or maybe even less often than that, but we only went out west as a family every few years. I remember it feeling like such a big trip and I guess it was. We would fly to Colorado and visit my dad's family and then after a week or so my grandparents would drive us over to New Mexico and we'd visit my mom's family for another week or so.

I used to get so excited when it was time for the plane ride. Ha-I guess some things don't change. Back then we dressed up to fly and never considered wearing sweat pants and slip on shoes in case we had to exit via the emergency slide. We wore our church clothes and our best manners. My brother was usually the lucky one who got to sit next to the sister who puked. Too graphic? My brother would say not graphic enough. I remember taking Dramamine sometimes but I was also very well acquainted with the little paper bags in the seats. Mom-why did you ever let me fly without Dramamine? Big brother wants an answer to that question too!

My dad grew up on a farm in Colorado. If you stood in the dirt drive and looked out you saw this-

Amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty. I believe the person who wrote America the Beautiful may very well have been standing on a dirt road at the edge of a Colorado farm. Even as a little girl the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains inspired awe.

That backdrop doesn't even look real.
It's real.

There were two places on the farm my younger sister and I especially loved to sit and talk and sing. I remember us singing. Must have been that mountain air. It made us happy I guess, and oftentimes a cousin would join us-

I think this was a water tower of some sort, but I'm a city girl so I might have that wrong. Whatever it was it was just the right size for kids ages 9, 10, and 11. And that sky....the sky is bigger out west or at least it was when I was a child.

The other sittin' spot we loved was here-

At the end of the farm drive grew the worlds most perfect climbing tree, and my sister and I spent hours in its big branches. I loved the freedom I felt on the farm. We could wander around and explore and we especially loved prowling around the old barn.

I have to laugh at some of the pictures I took back then. No picture of the barn but this cat sitting in front of the barn was special. She was well loved and had kittens every single year. Her name was Frisky.

I didn't make the connection back then, but yes, I get it now.

At one time there was a big swing that hung from the top of the inside of the barn. The swing allowed you to fly across the open space from one side of the barn to the other. I don't remember ever actually trying that but my older cousins did and it looked like scary fun. I suppose I was too young or possibly too chicken. That last one sounds about right.

One of the things we looked forward to most when we'd visit our Colorado grandparents was a day up in the mountains. We'd head out early in the morning and once we'd climbed a bit we'd get out of the car and cook breakfast beside a stream. I kind of remember my dad and his brothers doing the cooking but my mom might correct me on that.

My dad had three brothers and they all had a few kids so it was a great big mess of family. Perhaps it was the mountain air or maybe it was all those aunts and uncles and cousins and the chatter and laughter that made me feel all was right with the world. There is no better smell than bacon frying over a fire beside a Rocky Mountain stream in the cool crisp air. That coolness was a novelty too. We'd be dressed in shorts and loved going high enough into the Rockies to see snow in the middle of summer. That never happened in NJ!

That's my brother in front and I'm the one with the pigtails. You'll notice I'm wading in the stream but manage to stick close to shore because at age nine I was nothing if not cautious. Hello Daughter1!

My older sister is on the rock beside me and that's my grandma in the background. She raised four big strappin' boys on a farm and could wring a chickens neck. Not a lot of things in this life fazed her.

My younger sister isn't in this picture but if I had to hazard a guess I'd say she's out in the middle of the stream standing on a rock. She somehow always managed to get soaking wet on our treks into the mountains and I think I've mentioned here before that she was a little bit of trouble.

Hello daughter2! Hello younger sister!

Here's a picture of my dad that I took on the farm in the summer of 1976. My dad was a Marine officer and later worked for a university so in his day to day life he wore uniforms and suits, starched and pressed.

I think this was the real him.

I wish now I'd asked him more questions about life on the farm. My dad wasn't a big talker so unless you asked he didn't really share. No blogging, no digital photography for most of his life, and I guess it didn't really occur to me to ask a lot of questions about his growing up years.

Oh, we have plenty of stories that are told and retold because my dad was something of a rascal back in his youth, but what I want to know about now is the everyday life kinda stuff. One of the things I love about blogging is that stories are told. People often say their lives aren't interesting enough to write about, but the ordinary is what I enjoy reading most. I share a lot of memories on my own blog and hope one day my daughters and future grandchildren will look back and read them with a smile.

And now here we are many paragraphs later and I haven't even gotten to New Mexico yet. The other side of the family will be in a post next week.

Dear future grandchildren-

I use too many words to be a legitimate blogger.
I blog anyway.
I know you're glad.
Ask your mamas to explain why the cat was called Frisky.

Your Future Grandma

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From Sea to Shining Hodgepodge-Vol 83

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. To play along just answer the questions on your own blog then add your link to the bottom of my post. Afterwards hop around and see what your neighbors are saying. Remember there will not be a Hodgepodge next Wednesday (July 4th)...July 11th will be the next 'official' Hodgepodge.

Yes, the weekly Hodgepodge is official.
Guess I'm a dictator when it comes to Wednesdays.

Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. What do the words 'freedom' and 'liberty' mean to you? Does your mind go in the direction of not being persecuted or discriminated against or does it head in the direction of doing what you please?

I'm not sure there is ever a time in our lives when we can do whatever we please...all actions have consequences. As Americans we certainly have more freedoms than most. We can say what we want, worship or not, defend ourselves, protest, receive fair treatment when accused, and in essence write, think, speak and act without fear of reprisal so long as we stay within the very wide parameters of our law.

Mostly when I think of freedom I think of the cost and I feel grateful.

2. Nathan's sponsors a hot dog eating contest every July 4th. Last year over 40,000 people attended the event and almost 2 million watched it on TV. The winner ate over 60 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. How do you like your hot dogs?

One at a time.
With mustard and relish.

3. If you were going to enter an eating contest what would be on the menu?


It's a little bit obnoxious how much I love watermelon. When I was pregnant with daughter1 that was my craving. I'm pretty sure I ate a whole watermelon on my own on more than one occasion the month before she was born. I don't do that anymore.

I could, but I don't.

4. Do you run your house more as a dictatorship or a democracy?

My girls have their own apartments now so it's just the hubs and I here at the old homestead. We pretty much discuss everything, which feels very democratic. Thinking back to daughters in the house I'd say we ran a benevolent dictatorship. In establishing rules and making decisions that would impact all family members we always came from a place of love as opposed to power, which I think differentiates us from a true dictatorship. We listened and were willing to adjust rules when circumstances warranted.

Children and teenagers have opinions and those opinions need to be expressed and considered, but when push came to shove we never rejected a move/job promotion because a kid voted no.

Actually we never voted.
I think God gave us parents for a reason.

5. Where was your favorite summer place as a kid?

I'd probably say our local swim club. We spent every afternoon there in the summertime and it was close enough for my sister and I to ride our bikes once we got old enough to go without a parent.

There were four kids in my family and we didn't take a vacation every year or even most years. If we did it was out west to visit our grandparents, one set in Colorado and one set in New Mexico. I loved those trips and time with family. Flying was very exciting (remember that?!) and the scenery and sites so very different than what we knew on the East Coast. I think I might write about that one day soon.

6. Do you have a guest room? Would you want to stay there?

See #4. I have three empty bedrooms most of the time. My girls each claim a room as their own but they go unused most of the time. Boo. The third room is a designated guest room and yes I'd sleep there. I'd sleep in any of my bedrooms.

7. Next Wednesday America celebrates her independence. Do you have any special plans for the 4th of July? If you live outside the USA when and how does your country celebrate its own patriotic holiday?

We normally do our local small town parade and watch the water ski show on our village lake. We cook out and go back to the lake in the evening to watch fireworks. This year we'll be doing something a little bit different and celebrating with my siblings. My brother is having a bbq/pool party and we're going to that. His town has fireworks over the river and coincidentally he lives on the river so great viewing.

I've pinned several red, white, and blue treats on Pinterest and will be making this trifle to take to the party. Both of my sisters and their families will be there too so I'm looking forward to that.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I was scanning old photos recently and ran across one that feels appropriate for this week's random thought-

c. 1998

Inscribed on the Bell...

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
Lev. 25:10

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Questions for the Hodgepodge-Vol 83

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog and then hop back over here tomorrow to add your link and join the party. As a side note-there will not be any Wednesday Hodgepodge next week (July 4th). The Hodgepodge will return the following Wednesday, July 11th.

There will be Hodgepodge tomorrow so get crackin'...

1. What do the words 'freedom' and 'liberty' mean to you? Does your mind go more in the direction of not being persecuted or discriminated against or does it head in the direction of doing what you please?

2. Nathan's sponsors a hot dog eating contest every 4th of July. Last year over 40,000 people attended the event and almost 2 million watched it on TV. The winner ate over 60 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. How do you like your hot dogs?

3. If you were going to enter an eating contest what would be on the menu?

4. Do you run your house more as a dictatorship or a democracy?

5. Where was your favorite summer place when you were a kid?

6. Do you have a guest room? Would you want to stay there?

7. Next Wednesday America celebrates her independence. Do you have any special plans for the 4th of July? If you live outside the USA when and how does your country celebrate its own patriotic holiday?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

With Eagles Wings

I forgot I wasn't 19 still and stayed up gabbing long into the night Friday and Saturday both.


As it turns out I'm actually middle aged.
Not in my head of course, but the rest of me is saying that's true.

I spent the weekend with old friends from summer camp and when I say old I'm talking about the good kind. The kind of old that means a long long time and not the kind of old that means crows feet and small bladders.

Is this all too much for you today?
It's feeling like it might be too much for me.
I think I mentioned I'm tired. And middle aged.

Last year a reunion was organized on the property of our former campground and it was so much fun we decided a sequel was in order. The campground is still a campground but the girl's camp as we knew it has moved to another property site. The grounds have changed a lot since the 1970's, but when we're all together we fall right back into our old vocabulary. It's the Dining Hall, the Craft Shop, and the Lodge just as it was 3o-something years ago.

All my life I've struggled to explain how I feel about this place and these friends to people who were never there. It's a piece of my heart that remains tender, that when pricked spills out in both laughter and tears.

I've written a couple of posts in the past (here and here) in my attempt to put thoughts and feelings into words, but the finished product wasn't very satisfying. So here I am again-full head, overflowing heart, the right words still just out of reach. Perhaps there are some things in this life that aren't meant to be described, only felt.

Some forty years ago many of us were campers. We sailed and rode horses and ate in a dining hall. We sat on dusty cabin floors or atop sleeping bags laid across a bunk as we shared things weighing heavy on our young hearts. Moving into the college years we became the listen-ers, camp counselors to cabins full of campers unpacking their troubles along with their tennis shoes. We taught canoeing and John 3:16. We laughed and sang and prayed. We wrote letters to many of these campers throughout the school year and we pray for them still.

Thirty+ years have somehow come and gone since I was a camp counselor. The pool may be new and improved, the buildings painted or moved, our bodies older and our everyday lives separated by geography, but that thing that made camp camp?

It remains.

Camp was always a refuge, a safe place to learn and grow, to speak without fear from the deepest part of your heart. We united as staff members way back when and shared life in all its multi-layered glory and despair.

We still do.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cleaning Latrines and Other Life Lessons

This heat has made my brain feel a little bit like mush. Or maybe its the cleaning products? I've been scrubbing woodwork, emptying cabinets and drawers, scouring my frig, matching Tupperware containers to lids...that last one will turn your brain to mush quicker than anything, won't it?

Anyway, it's hot and it's Thursday and since I'll be spending the weekend with friends from my days as a camp counselor I thought I'd link up with Thursday Thirteen and post a list. Do those thoughts add up? I don't know if Point A + Point B = Point C but I said it was hot and I've inhaled a little too much Murphy's Oil Soap so here we go...

Thirteen Life Lessons Learned as a Camp Counselor

1. The proper way to execute the Draw stroke, J-stroke and Forward Sweep in a canoe

2. Alllll the verses to Madalina Catalina

3. The essential ingredients to the world's best campfire stew

4. How to make a candle in the sand

5. That bug juice contains no actual bugs...most of the time

6. Cleaning a latrine builds character

7. How to cultivate and nurture friendships that will last a lifetime

8. Money doesn't equal happiness

9. Dough + stick+ fire+ jam=deliciousness

10. How to step outside my comfort zone

11. Poison ivy is wretched

12. The song of the whippoorwill

13. Jesus Never Fails

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Good Old Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 82

Welcome to the first official Hodgepodge of summer. Temperatures were in the low 70's here yesterday and are supposed to soar up near 100 today. Hello Summer! Here are my answers to this week's questions. Add your link to the bottom of my post and then do the neighborly thing and go visiting.

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

In short, we've had a year.
I'm longing for simple and this song takes me there-

2. What is the quintessential summer food?

Nothing says summer is here like red, ripe, watermelon.

3. I've spent a lot of time traipsing up and down the NJ turnpike in recent weeks. Did you know the rest stops on the turnpike are named after people who lived or worked in NJ? Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, James Fenimore 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?

Definitely Thomas Edison. All that intelligence and curiosity...I'd love to see his reaction to the computer age!

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

I guess it was a month before my 18th birthday. I went off to university and while it didn't feel like I was leaving forever I never really did live at home again. I spent the first two summers of college working as a camp counselor about an hour from home and once I graduated from uni I started working in Tennessee and then got married. I'm glad it was a process. Glad that as we pulled out of the driveway on that long ago August day I was blissfully unaware I would only be coming back for holidays and visits.

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

At this stage of life I'll say saving money. We're coming off a six year spending bender-think university tuition and all the bells and whistles that go along with it. Saving is bound to feel good, don't you think?

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

I think we see the good come out in people when they work for something outside of themselves. It might be something on a global scale like the way the world united to help the tsunami victims or the people devastated by the Haitian earthquake. It might be something smaller and closer to home like preparing meals for a family dealing with a seriously ill child. Either way, it seems when we see people's lives turned upside down we stop and count our own blessings and in doing so feel prompted to give-act-do. Be better. Sometimes I wonder if God allows a certain amount of suffering in this world in order to force us outside ourselves.

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

We don't have either on the calendar. We do have an out of town wedding to attend in July and there are a couple of other weekends planned as well but nothing too big. Hubs and I are hoping to get away for a few days later in the summer but nothing definite yet. We're on the go a lot so I'm sure we won't be sitting around twiddling our thumbs. Perhaps I should pencil that in because did you read my answer to #1? Sitting around twiddling our thumbs sounds pretty good right about now.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I was struck by a thought recently and its kind of random so I'm dropping it here. Last Saturday I posted a picture, taken on our wedding day in 1984, on Facebook. The photo generated so many comments, and as I was scrolling thru the list I had to smile at all the many ways I am connected to the commenters.

There were comments from family of course, but also friends from elementary school, high school, summer camp, and the church I grew up in. Also, friends from university, our early married years in Virginia and Ohio, friends from the Maryland years, England friends who are now scattered all over the world, blog friends, friends I've met thru other friends and friends from my current home.

Now tell me, where else but Facebook could I get all these people together?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Questions for the Hodgepodge-Vol 82

Welcome to the first official Hodgepodge of Summer! Answer the questions on your own blog and then hop back here tomorrow to add your link and see what everyone else had to say.

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?

2. What's your favorite quintessential summer food?

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, James Fenimore Cooper, Molly Pitcher, Joyce Kilmer, Thomas Edison, and Gover Clevland just to name a few. Of those I listed, who would you most like to have known and why?

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

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

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

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?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Empire State of Mind

The weekend. Where to begin? Let's back up to Friday so I can answer the question I know has been burning on your brain since did hubs like the balloons? (If you missed that post you'll find it here)

Hubs loved the balloons! I had them filled at our local supermarket and the girl who filled them was a little chincy on the helium so by the time he got home they were all standing at eye level which was actually better. He was surprised and said when he opened the door it was impressive. I can only tell you this second hand as I was sound asleep and missed his initial reaction. Glad I took a picture the night before! We had fun looking at the photos while we sipped our coffee. Here is 1985...

We were in D.C. to celebrate our one year anniversary and my hubs still talks about that dress.

Back to 2012...hubs made a few work related phone calls and checked email and then we went out to lunch and a movie-The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It seemed fitting since hubs had just been in Delhi. Some of our favorite British actors are in the cast and its a sweet story with our favorite line being the overriding theme.... 'Everything will turn out all right in the end. If it's not alright then it's not the end.' We both loved it.

In other Friday news...hubs bought me an iPhone. I finally traded in my phone that flips open to reveal the keyboard and is impossible to unlock in less than three tries, for a 21st century phone. I'd been waiting for my upgrade to become available and let me just say I am going to be even more obnoxious with the picture taking now. I got a cute cover too because that's important.

Saturday was a gorgeous day and our anniversary. We took the little red car for a spin ending up at our local farmers market. The market is relatively new so it grows some every year, and of course up here its still early for some of my favorite produce.

We did buy sweet cherries and big bunches of rhubarb and kale before heading home to work in the yard. I've heard people raving about kale chips so I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest. They are very good but very 'green' tasting in my opinion. Tasty for what they are but you will not be mistaking them for a potato chip. Just sayin'.

Saturday evening we drove into the city and had so much fun. Hubs brought me a beautiful sari type tunic in India last week and I love it. I know I said we don't do gifts on our anniversary and I got a new phone and a beautiful sari but maybe its just that I don't buy him anything? Hmmmm.... Anyway, I wore it in to the city and it was a conversation piece for sure. We got into a taxi at one point and the driver was from Bangladesh. He was not happy with life in America but hubs worked his usual magic and had him smiling before we left his cab. As I was walking away he got a look at my top (dress?) and shouted out the window, 'Hey Bengali Girl!' He had a great accent so it sounded better live than in print but it made us laugh and hubs referred to me as his Bengali girl for the rest of the night.

We began the evening in Eataly which is a huge shop, cooking school, and assortment of restaurants all in one building in the Flatiron section of NYC. I don't need to explain why this area is known by that name do I?

Okay-this is the Flatiron building. It was completed in 1902 and it's shape resembles a flatiron, hence the name. It marks the area of the city known as the Flatiron District and this is where you'll find Eataly. Which I highly recommend if you're in the city.

Eataly is owned by a group that includes Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, two chefs whose names you might recognize. The space is massive and divided into sections...pasta, seafood, cheese, wine, chocolates and more.

We started with the wine and cheese and shared this delicious assortment of Italian meats and cheeses with spicy fig and apricot alongside.


We wandered the shop browsing the various counters and menus and shared a plate of gnocchi before moving on to our next destination.

The Bubble Lounge in TriBeCa. fyi-Tribeca is trendy and I'd like to walk around that part of the city more. Did you know that TriBeCa is an acronym for 'Triangle Below Canal Street"? Consider that your fun fact for the day. We took a cab because it would have been too far to walk from Eataly, and we passed so many interesting looking restaurants. When I'm in the city I always find myself thinking about all the fabulous restaurants I will never get to try. A friend had recommended The Bubble Lounge and we like champagne so off we went.

The atmosphere was warm with soft couches and big comfy chairs arranged throughout. We had champagne and ordered a chocolate fondue for dessert. Our waitress said the fondue was her treat and happy anniversary so that was fun. I love NY.

Afterwards we decided we needed to see Times Square because we just always do when we're in the city. A couple approached hubs and waved their camera at him for a photo and he asked where they were from. The man said Brazil and hubs spewed out something in Portuguese and the couple beamed. I was reminded once more of why I love this boy. I'm pretty sure he only knows a phrase or two but that doesn't stop him from giving it a go. We walked some more and noticed a family from India attempting a picture. Hubs offered to do it for them so the dad could be in it too. More happy tourists. I like to think they'll go back home and say how nice people are in this city.

We meandered back to our car and it was late late late. Waaaay past my bedtime but I didn't even care. It was the kind of night that happens sometimes in the city. The sound, the light, the air...everything feels so right you wish the night would never end. Hubs felt the same so we stretched it out a little longer by stopping in a diner opposite the parking garage for a midnight snack.

28 years ago we got on an airplane bound for our honeymoon destination. That was only the second time my hubs had flown. Now he's speaking Portuguese to strangers in Times Square and talking the finer points of Indian curry with the cab driver from Bangladesh.

We've come a long way baby!

This post is linked with the Weekend Wrap Up hosted by Stefani over at A Defined Life. Go say hi and share your own news and photos from the weekend.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Many Splendored Thing

Tomorrow hubs and I will celebrate 28 years of married life. Yay us! We normally don't do gifts, just a nice dinner out somewhere, but it feels like this year could use a little happy and what says happy better than a bunch of balloons?

Actually jewelry says happy better than balloons, but I'll settle for a nice dinner out and a fun little surprise for hubs. He's been in India all week and will be landing stateside at the ridiculous hour of 4:30 am today. He told me not to get up to greet him. Normally I get up and greet him because it will feel like early evening in his world and when he does these long haul flights we usually go out to breakfast when he gets home. Which is really dinner for him.

Do you find that confusing?
You are not alone.

Anyway, I'd seen this cute idea on Pinterest and like most things mine didn't turn out exactly like the picture. In the Pinterest post the balloons were all clumped together over the bed, but I had to get in my bed so I let them float around the room. I had a lot of fun putting this together and my photo really doesn't do it was cute!

All you need are balloons, one for every year so in our case 28. You also need a photo from each year to attach to the ribbon on your balloon. I attached mine with a paperclip which made some of them a little heavy, but I actually like the balloons at different heights.

Finding a picture of just the two of us from every year of our marriage was impossible so the kids are in a few of the ones I chose. Keep in mind the whole world wasn't taking pictures of everything they ate, saw, and did way back when, plus we took a lot of bad shots. NASA might have been using digital in 1984 but we were not so lucky. I think we were married at least fifteen years before we got a digital camera, hence lots of blurry/awkward/crooked photos. The times of our life.

Happy Anniversary Hubs! Looking through our photos for this little project reminded me of just how much life and love we've packed into 28 years.

"The rules for marriage are the same as for a lifeboat. No sudden moves, don't crowd the other person, and keep all disastrous thoughts to yourself." Garrison Keillor

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Like a good neighbor...

...the Hodgepodge is here. Corny I know but we're on title #81 and my creative juices are waning. Be sure to add your link at the bottom of my post and then see what everyone else has to say today. Here are my answers-

1. In what way are you your own worst enemy?

Hmmm...I guess we're getting the hard question out there first today.

Too often I want circumstances to be perfect before I take on a project or new challenge. I know it would be better if I got started on whatever it is I want to accomplish and then work out the kinks along the way but I just keep waiting for 'the right moment'. Sometimes the right moment never materializes and I'm left with regret over what I did not try. I need to be more like Nike and "Just do it."

2. Jacques Cousteau's birthday was Monday, June 11th...ever been scuba diving? Is that something you'd like to try? What's your favorite under the sea creature?

I've never been diving and a part of me would love to try. Another part of me hates the idea of a mask over my face deep underwater.

My favorite under the sea creature? Dolphins...unless we're talking on a plate in which case it would be the crab.

3. On a scale of 1-10 how comfortable are you in and around the water? (1=not at all and 10=very) Do you know how to swim and if so how and when did you learn?

10-Swimming is one of my favorite things to do. My mom says as a toddler I was afraid of the water but we moved to NJ when I was in kindergarten and I took swimming lessons at our neighborhood pool. I've loved it ever since.

4. What's something you do to motivate yourself to tick an item off your to-do list?

The fact that I even have a written to-do list helps me get more done in a day than if I try to wing it. I also find if I put time parameters around certain tasks they're more likely to get done. For instance, if I need to clean all the bathrooms I'll put that on my to-do list for 10-11 am and sometimes I'll set the timer too. It feels great to accomplish something in less time than I planned!

5. What makes a good neighbor? Are you a good neighbor?

Good neighbors are friendly. They wave when they pass you while driving in and out of the neighborhood and speak when they see you. They're helpful and can be called upon in an emergency. They take care of their own property and do their part to keep the neighborhood looking neat and tidy. They keep an eye on your house when you're away. They manage their children and pets. They keep the noise down and if they're throwing the occasional loud party or event they give you the heads up so you can plan accordingly.

I think we're good neighbors. We've had some fabulous neighbors through the years.

6. Who loads the dishwasher at your house? Is there a right way and a wrong way?

Silly question...of course there is a right way! Hubs is happy to load the dishwasher but he knows I'll come behind him and re-organize.

7. You know it's summer when_______________________.

I can comfortably wear shorts, capris, and sundresses. If I'm still in blue jeans and a fleece (hello England in July!) then it doesn't really feel like summer.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The hummingbirds are loving our feeders this year and I've made it my mission to capture one in a photograph.

They may be tiny but they move fast! We watched one go back and forth between the feeder and some unknown spot in our yard on Sunday and I finally managed to catch him on film.

Okay, not film but you know what I mean. You may need to click to enlarge the photo.

They are such amazing creatures!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Questions for the Wed. Hodgepodge-Vol 81

It's that time are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog and then hop back over here tomorrow to link answers with all your friends and neighbors.

1. In what way are you your own worst enemy?

2. Jacques Cousteau's birthday was Monday, June 11th...ever been scuba diving? Is that something you'd like to try? What's your favorite 'under the sea' creature?

3. On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable are you in and around the water? (1=not at all, 10=very) Do you know how to swim and if so how and when did you learn?

4. What's something you do to motivate yourself to tick an item off your to-do list?

5. What makes a good neighbor? Are you a good neighbor?

6. Who loads the dishwasher at your house? Is there a right way and a wrong way?

7. You know it's summer when_________________________.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

And the Livin' Was Easy

We had the craziest weekend. Crazy as in boring but not uneventful. We didn't plan it that way but hubs back went out Saturday morning so we spent the weekend lifting him off the floor and helping him in and out of a chair. He finally phoned the doctor on Sunday morning (hey, that's why they make the big bucks, right?) and the doctor prescribed Advil and some theraputic swearing. I do like a doctor who maintains his sense of humor when he's phoned early on a Sunday morning. Hubs could handle the swearing on his own so I ran back and forth to the pharmacy for more Advil and heating pads in the hopes of making his 14+ hour flight to India Sunday night a little less miserable. Is it possible to make a 14+ hour flight less miserable? I did my best.

Let's talk about something happy shall we...summertime.
Does it feel like summer where you live because it doesn't quite feel like summer here.

What's summer supposed to feel like when you hit midlife anyway?

As a kid the seasons were so clearly defined...fall meant new shoes, school supplies in recycled cigar boxes, and a game of kickball on the playground at recess. Christmas lights, a fire in the fireplace, and the glorious possibility of waking to a snow day carried us through the short days and long nights of winter until one day we'd pull back the curtains and see my mother's Iris bed decked out in shades of purple. We knew then spring had sprung and it was time to swap our warm coats for windbreakers. We felt the sizzle of summer just beneath the asphalt and we counted the days til she broke free.

Summer meant bare feet. The ice cream truck. No hands on my bicycle as I flew to the neighborhood pool. It was playing Marco Polo and bravely jumping off the high dive. It was grumbling at the sound of a lifeguard's whistle, the universal signal for adult swim.

Summer meant the juice of a watermelon running down my shirt, Kool-Aid sold beside the curb, and corn, dripping in butter, eaten right off the cob. It was sleep away camp, church picnics, and the neighborhood block party. Summer meant taking turns sitting on the ice cream churn as it was cranked by hand in the semi-cool of the garage. It was the sound of a lawnmower and the smell of a charcoal grill.

Summer meant running through sprinklers and spreading your towel on the hot pavement to get warm. It meant catching things...butterflies in a net, fireflies in a mayonnaise jar, neighborhood kids with the words, "you're it!".

The sky felt bigger somehow and there were more stars too. Maybe there were just more minutes in the hours so you noticed. Your mother called you to come in and you groaned, but just a little. You were something that only children can ever be...blissfully tired.

Your mom would say you needed a bath but she would settle for you sitting on the side of the tub as she washed the remnants of a day well spent from your dirty feet.

Sleep came more easily at the end of a summer day. It is one of the things you remember most....the sticky sweat on your neck and the dream in your heart as a chorus of ten thousand cicadas or maybe only one sang out into the night.

What is summer supposed to feel like in midlife?

I think the answer to that question can be found walking barefoot in the grass on a warm June day, counting the stars in a clear night sky, and listening for the song of the cicada through an open bedroom window.

"Then followed that beautiful season...summer...filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

Today my first born baby girl celebrates her 24th birthday. Happy Birthday Daughter1! I've written several birthday posts for her since I started blogging which you'll find here, here and here. Gosh I'm wordy.

Goodnight Moon...Brown Bear Brown Bear...The Tale of Two Bad Mice...Are You My Mother?

Since her birthday falls midweek this year and she has an honest to goodness grown up job, we won't get to see her on her big day. Boo. When your kids were young did it ever occur to you that you wouldn't always be with them on their birthdays? Me neither.

Moose in the Garden...Bread and Jam for Frances...Angelina Ballerina...Stellaluna

On the bright side, we did get to spend last weekend together. Besides all the fun we had picking crabs, zipping around the Bay, and sitting side by side at a bridal shower, we also squeezed in a celebratory birthday breakfast. Crepes and waffles and Eggs Benedict-oh my! We even managed to surprise her with our gift this year-a NOOK...

In spite of her great love for the latest technology and her lifelong love affair with books, Daughter1 has been slow to come round to the electronic reader. I get it, really I do, but I also know how much she'll enjoy it once she takes the plunge. She travels a lot (have you read her blog???) and she also commutes back and forth to work by train everyday. An e-reader makes sense and I've assured her there is room in our lives for both. Plus we're gonna be NOOK buddies now. Just as soon as she tells me how. Ha.

Chrysanthemum...The Littles...Beezus and Ramona...Charlotte's Web

I knew before I had children that I would read to them. I knew we would go to the library often and we'd have piles of books in every room of our house. Love for reading was a gift my mother gave me and I knew from an early age it was precious. Some of my happiest childhood memories are the hours I spent curled up on the couch beside my mom while she read aloud. I wanted that kind of memory for my own daughters too.

The BFG...Meet Molly...Snot Stew...The Best Christmas Pageant Ever...A Dog Called Kitty

My mom continued reading to my sister and I long past the age where we could read for ourselves. I did the same when I became a mom. My girls and I stepped into the pages of these stories hand in hand and they connect us still.

The books my mother read to me as I was growing up fed and watered my imagination. I learned to love words and appreciate the turn of a phrase as her voice brought characters and places to life. Good books are full of emotion and humor and contain a bit of something real. Reading them together bonds you in a way that is special. I probably couldn't articulate it back then but I knew I wanted my girls to feel about me the way I felt about my own mother, and I
knew that somehow reading together was an important ingredient in making that happen.

My girls are grown now but we still share a love of books and words and each other. Their imaginations have always been as big as the sky. I like to think the books of their childhood and the time we spent there together have something to do with that.

I've sprinkled some of Daughter1's favorite titles into her birthday post today, 24 to be exact. One for each candle on her cake.

The Borrowers...Anne of Green Gables...A Wrinkle in Time...Trumpet of the Swans

These titles leap out at me when I wander the aisles of a bookstore. Just a glimpse and I am whisked right back to a comfy couch and the feel of a little girls head on my shoulder as she snuggled in close.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe...My Side of the Mountain..Where the Red Fern Grows

If you have time today, hop over to Daughter1's blog (Sincerely-Shannon) and wish her a happy birthday. While you're there, share the title of your favorite book...after all, she's got a NOOK to load. I love you Daughter1!

"Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love of reading." Rufus Choate

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here Comes the Wed. Hodgepodge-Vol 80

Welcome to this week's edition of The Wednesday Hodgepodge. Be sure to add your link at the bottom of my post and try to visit some of the other links too. That's part of the fun! Here are my answers-

1. How many students were in your high school graduating class? Did you know most, if not all of them?

950-ish. I would say I knew many of them, definitely not all though. You really couldn't know everyone and I also had friends in other grades. My sister was just a year behind me so some of our friends overlapped. Her class was even larger than mine and I think was the peak as far as the numbers.

2. What was the last thing you photographed?

A ginormous rainbow we followed as we made our way up the NJ turnpike in the pouring down rain Sunday evening.

It filled the sky and I could see both ends which doesn't happen too often. I took this with my antiquated cell phone which is why the quality is so stellar. The rainbow was beautiful.

3. Pickles-love 'em or loathe 'em? If it's love what's something you eat that needs a pickle?

Love 'em!! Dill are my favorite and I like them beside a sandwich or a burger. I don't mind if they're on the burger but I prefer them on the side. I also love sweet pickles chopped up in my tuna salad and we must have bread and butter pickles on our holiday relish trays.

4. What's a stereotype you perpetuate without meaning to?

The one that claims women have no sense of direction.

5. Ever been horseback 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?

I learned to ride a horse at summer camp. I liked it but didn't love it the way some little girls love horses. I never asked my parents to buy me a horse. I've ridden a few times as an adult, mostly on trips with the hubs. I enjoy a leisurely ride but its not something I seek out.

I do like to watch horse racing but we missed the Derby this year due to a little something called university graduation. I didn't mind. We'll probably watch the race this only lasts a couple of minutes and it would be fun to see I'll Have Another win the Triple Crown. The last time a horse won all three races was 1978.

6. What's your favorite wedding movie?

So many good ones but I'm going with Father of the Bride (the remake with Steve Martin). I predict my hubs will be a lot like his George Banks character when our girls weddings come round. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a close second.

7. What is one 'tourist attraction' in the USA you'd like to see in person?

There are several but The Redwoods in Yosemite National Park is high on my current list.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

In thinking about that last question I googled top 25 USA Tourist Destinations. It turns out I live in one of them-#16. I've been to twelve of the top 25 on this list but my own list includes more natural sites as opposed to theme parks and museums.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


If you're looking for this week's Hodgepodge questions you'll find them here.

As Paul Harvey liked to say...'and now for the rest of the story.' The weekend weather perfection continued into Sunday which made the afternoon bridal shower that much nicer. Isn't everything in life sweeter when the sun is shining?

The bride was beaming and she got so many nice things. Personally I think couples who hit the 25-year anniversary mark should be thrown a shower. You kind of need all new everything at that point...linens, pots and pans, updated small appliances.

I bought her a pretty Lennox pitcher and filled it with some of the kitchen items she had on her registry. I'd seen a cute wrapping idea on Pinterest and since the bride loves Gerbera Daisies and the color orange I gave it a try.

It turned out cute.

Where there are bridal showers there are games and this one had a fun twist-hula hooping. We were divided up into teams and each team hula hooped to find a winner and then the winners from each team competed against the bride. Oh my word it was hilarious watching women of all ages give this a go. I will not post their pictures (you're welcome!) so you'll have to take my word for it.

Luckily our team had a ringer-

Daughter1. When it comes to hula hooping she has serious skill. People love to watch her because she is the tiniest thing on two feet and quite literally seems to be standing still while the hoop flies around her. Pretty sure she could read a book or do her nails while hula hooping.

Even in six inch wedges.

I remember my own bridal showers some 28 years ago. I remember the excitement and anticipation I felt then about my upcoming wedding.

Today's brides seem a lot savvier than they did back when I was the girl with the ring. Their wish lists include professional kitchen gadgetry as opposed to fine china that gets dusted off and used a few times each year. Their dresses are won't see big puffy sleeves on brides in the 21st century. Cake and punch are no longer the norm and it seems there is no ceremony or reception detail too small not to be considered and embellished.

While weddings have changed a great deal, marriage remains mostly what it has always been. Two imperfect people committing to live and love, for better or worse, forever and ever, amen. Looking back it will not matter if you wore a sophisticated sheath or a puffy sleeved frock. What matters on the day and what matters in the all the days after are patience, kindness, forgiveness, selflessness, trust, respect, loyalty, communication, and compromise.

Oh, and humor.
Humor helps.
Keep a sense of humor.
I speak from experience here.

Questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge-Vol 80

Volume 80! Yowza-that's a lot of questions! Everyone is welcome to join the fun here on Wednesdays. Answer the questions on your own blog and then hop back here tomorrow to link answers with all the other Hodgepodge peeps.

1. How many students were in your high school graduating class? Did you know most, if not all of them?

2. What was the last thing you photographed?

3. Pickles-love 'em or loathe 'em? If its love what's something you eat that needs a pickle?

4. What's a stereotype you seem to perpetuate without meaning to?

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?

6. What's your favorite 'wedding' movie?

7. What is one 'tourist attraction' in the USA that you'd like to see in person?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Bridge, the Bay, and the Bride

That title sounds like a story should follow, doesn't it?

Alas, no story, but I do have my usual Monday morning collection of assorted which I like to think is story-ish so here ya go.

We spent the weekend by the Bay, the Chesapeake in case anyone is confused. Not just by it but also on it. Few things make the hubs and I happier than a boat ride on the Bay on a sunny day in June. Add old friends and one daughter to the mix and it's close to perfect.

We were in town for the bridal shower of the boat captain's daughter. Ha-that's a round about way of saying that the bride and daughter1 are childhood friends. We met when our girls were seven and we've been friends ever since. They have a son who is a year younger than Daughter2 but daughter2 was working this weekend so she was missed.

Friday night the six adults ate at my absolute favorite restaurant in Annapolis-Carrol's Creek. If you ever get to Annapolis eat here. The view, the service, the food-always always excellent. And I say six adults meaning the three sets of parents. Technically our 'kids' are also adults but we'll just pretend they're still living under our roofs and sitting at our dinner tables every night as opposed to living in their own apartments, working in big cities, and getting married, okay?

Hi Bride! Hi Daughter1! I know they will be so happy to see this photo on my blog-ha. I love the baggy too big shorts and the looks on their faces. Apparently soccer was serious business in the late 90's.

Back to my 'story'...Daughter1 drove over from DC on Saturday morning to join us for the weekend and we immediately headed to an Annapolis institution for breakfast. I promise I will talk about more than what we ate but when you go back to a place you more or less consider home you want to hit all your favorite spots. Chick and Ruth's Delly would fall into the category of favorite spots.

It's a hole in the wall really, a super popular, well-known hole in the wall that has a wonderful family history associated with it going all the way back to the early 60's. They have a fun tradition here of saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. If you're dining at 8:30 on a weekday or 9:30 on a weekend you'll see everyone in the place stand for the pledge.

As a side note-my hair is crazy in every picture. It was a windy weekend, add a boat to the mix and it was kinda hopeless. It looked great for the shower but I don't have a picture so you'll have to take my word for that.

How can you not love Annapolis? Sigh.

When we lived here way back when, we spent lots of time with the bride's family. We all love boating and we did a lot of rafting up in a cove near their house, a lot of sittin' under their awesome tree, and even a little jumping off their boat house when the kids were really kids.

They have a big boat that goes super fast (trust me on this) and also a ski boat. If we ever wanted to cross the Bay for lunch on the Eastern Shore of Maryland we'd all load up on their big super fast boat and Bam-you're there. Wind blown hair and all but oh my word it is FUN!

We had plans for a crab feast on Saturday but it was kinda gusty in the morning so we decided to go by road instead of water. The weather was positively gorgeous and we sat outside and ate the world's most perfect food-the Maryland Blue Crab (which actually are blue before you steam them).

Picking crabs is a messy can make it last for hours and we did. If the weather hadn't settled down enough to convince us we needed a boat ride we might still be sitting there covered in Old Bay and crab shell.

Even with the wind blown look she is adorable....and celebrating a birthday this week-whoohoo! Wait, we're pretending the kids are still kids so forget I said that.

The day had become completely gorgeous so we loaded up the boat for a zip around the Bay...first we needed petrol.

And the world's largest splinter.

The hat did not last long. A hat doesn't stay on when you're going more than 50 mph on the water. I know I'm something of a wimp about a lot of things, but I do love to go fast on the water.

Really fast.

We went really fast.
I ask hubs how fast and he just grins.

We left this freighter in the dust. Silt?
I think it's a freighter.

We flew up to the Bay Bridge...

and under...

back past the lighthouse....

and into the sun.

People who say they dislike boating should try this just once.


Oops, we still have a shower to discuss.
I think I'll do like all good writers and leave you wanting more-ha.
Tomorrow we'll talk mothers and daughters.

And the crazy trick of time that allows little girls to go from baggy soccer shorts to wedding gowns in the blink of an eye.