Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Playing opossum

[I haven't forgotten about that cake...promise. I've not done it yet, but don't' lose heart, it's coming because I'm craving it. Stay tuned.]

I haven't' really lived in all that many places in my life, certainly haven't traveled the globe. I lived at the pink house from birth through 7, then moved to Pineville Road for about three years, finished out elementary school there. After Pineville Road we moved to Lincoln street where we lived for two years, through 5th and 6th grade. After that we landed at 313 Glenview Place. This was the biggest house I had ever lived in and seemed to me like a mansion. I lived in Southwest Missouri and folks in these parts build housed into hills, it's almost a have to more than a get to. We have a lot of hills. Our house looked like a one story, but had a complete first floor in the ground. The entire back of the house was exposed, and it was big. I really loved our Glenview house, the whole downstairs was mine after Sis left the house. It had a living room, two bedrooms, and a full bath (can you call a bathroom a full bath if it has a standing shower, no tub, sink and toilet?). Upstairs we had two living rooms and three bedrooms. It was a nice house.

The Glenview house provided a lot of memories for me, some I'd soon rather forget. Our neighbor's the Schmidt's had two children late in life and were the kind of parents that thought nature would do a better job raising them than they could. To say these kids were wild is an understatement. When I read Lord of the Flies I totally pictured these kids living in that jungle. Heather was the oldest, beautiful brown skin and dark brown hair. In she summer she would turn the deepest darkest brown and had an awesome tan. Her brother, Alan, was had the same melatonin blessing. Their Dad, Roger, was had that good tan gene which I envy. Alan and Heather lived outside most of the summer months and would come to our house to graze in our kitchen for grapes and fruit with their parents didn't buy for some reason. I loved Alan and Heather and their wild side. Before Alan was potty-trained he would walk around with a shredded diaper all the time because he climbed the chain link fence surrounding his back yard. Once he ate these poison berries and drank a whole bottle of ipecac to get it out. A tough cookie.

We had an opossum problem one summer, seemed these little buggers were interested in our trash and other treasures. Our road dead ended because there was a railroad track that cut through town. It was really overgrown and woodsy, so I imagine these opossums were rail riders. My encounters with wild animals is few and far between, since I'm a city boy. I kept hearing this odd noise on our deck as I watched TV. Summer meant I was home alone from 7:00 am until around 4PM. Intruders were not on my list of fun summer activities and to hear this continuous noise outside the me a little twisted. I'm not the most brave person in the world--OK I'm a chicken! I knew enough to know I had to find out what this noise was before I called the police and went to my basement room to hide in the closet!

The intruder was an opossum! The little bugger had fallen into our trash can and couldn't get out. When you have an opossum in your trash can you want it out. How do you get an opossum out of a trash can? I certainly didn't know. I didn't want to tip the can over as I didn't want IT to come at me. He was hissing and all, "I'm gonna fight you human scum" wasn't' really having the best day. What to do. I had an idea. I went in the house and got some yarn from Mom's craft closet. I fashioned this noose and planned to catch the opossum and fling it over the deck--2 stories! I was hoping that it had cat like reflexes but was wanting it out of my trash can more. I didn't want to snag it around the neck (I know you were thinking that ) because I didn't want to choke it or have it's tiny little head slip out and free that sucker to attack me. The whole time I remember thinking, "...why isn't this thing playing dead? I thought they played dead?" I guess his opossum mommy never told him to do that but rather, "go out fighting don't be a wimp! It's high time we quit hanging from our tails and get something done." Don't' you just hate activist parents?
I got the noose around the tail, since they hang from their tails it shouldn't be too bad to pull it from the can to freedom. I slowly lowered the string down into the can...slipped it on his tail and yanked. I had caught an opossum (in a trash can!) NOW WHAT? He was not at all in favor of being snagged and the hissing got louder and louder. I was a nervous wreck. Calming myself down I said, "It's almost's almost over...just count to three and flick it up and out the can over the deck." One...two...three FLICK! Like a pro hammer thrower in Track and Field I hoisted that thing up out and over the deck in one fail swoop. Ran in the house and shut the door. I wanted so badly to slide down the door into a puddle and just recoup, but I felt I needed to wash my hands A LOT.
About three hours after I heard this uproarious screaming outside. Alan and Heather were up to something and it was good. I went outside to see what was going on to find Alan and Heather. They had been in their back yard playing when they discovered something under the cattle tank, their dad bought a 50 gallon tank for a pool--an opossum with a string on it's tail! They were taking turns holding that string and spinning in circles. Screaming with delight. The opossum was completely sprawled out like a flying squirrel fingers stretched out hissing for dear life. Round and round and round and round. When Heather got too dizzy, Alan took over. This opossum had been spun for hours and toyed with and played with. "Will! Will! we found this opossum! It has a stahwing on it!" They would turn it loose then run after it, only to catch it by stepping on that string.
I convinced them that they needed to turn it loose. "We have to take the stahwing off." "NO! No you don't that would not be a good idea. Just let it go and be free you've had enough fun for the day." "Ohhkaay." Turning free I can honestly say I've never seen an opossum run faster than that thing ran. A straight b-line for the woodsy tracks. He wasn't coming trash was worth the hell he went through.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feast your eyes on this...

Can I just tell you that I have a new friend and didn't even know it. I am an avid food blog reader and have seen one blog that had a "tastespotting" thingy in their widget section passing it off as their cool trick I'd never be able to attain.

Well my new lone poster, Memaw over at Memaw Bakes Memories commented on my needing to check out tastespotting. I went to check it out. Pure-D heaven to my eyes let me just tell you. There are some fantastic pictures of food over there friends, none of which were taken with a camera phone I'm sure!

I've added the widget to my space and hope you will check it out soon...maybe right after reading my page today. It's really cool. Thanks Memaw for stopping by to read and comment about my little page and adding another wrinkle to my unusually smooth brain! I learnt sumpin today! Yeehaw!

Tomorrow be ready for...another great recipe. I hope I have enough time to make it camera phone is all charged up and ready to go!

Good night sweet prince and princesses.

I said...Cassoulet not Robert Goulet

What a weekend. When I left the office on Thursday I had no idea that my Friday through Sunday would be such a bevy of activity. I did know that Kendra had a weekend trip to Kansas for a Ladies Day and that she was leaving on Friday ( I assumed it would be Friday afternoon). I also knew that she was going to have her Bunko party on Thursday night and that I would have to manage to keep Teensy and the boys upstairs for the party. What I didn't know was, "What time are you leaving for your Ladies thing?" "I have to be at the church by 11:30." "11:30!" "Yes...we've talked about it." "I didn't know you were leaving at that time...I have to work tomorrow (Ministers have to rotate through a Friday work schedule)." "I'm sorry I thought you knew." "I did know and I didn't Cailyn coming?" "Yes." Little things like this really throw me off my schedule. I like to know what's coming down the pike. By the time we got home I had already swapped Fridays with a Friend and wrapped my brain around the next 72 hours. Kendra was really looking forward to going on this trip, and I was really looking forward letting it happen by watching the kids. We all survived with no injury and it was good. Her absence from our home Friday and Saturday made all of us miss her and helped Teensy and the boys know how good it was to have Mommy home.

We made some really great food for Bunko. I'll share the recipes with you and hope that you will make them, even if you sit back and scratch your head with this, "I aint tryin that stuff" look on your face. Give it a whirl you will surprise yourself.

First up: Cassoulet (KASS-OU-LAY)
1 whole Rotisserie Chicken
16 oz. Turkey Kielbasa, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup Carrot, diced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2-2 cups Chicken broth
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (19 oz.) cans Cannelli beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Remove skin and debone chicken. Loosely chop and set aside. In a large stock pot, add olive oil, celery, onion, and carrot. Saute over medium heat until onion is clear (5-7 minutes). Add sausage and cook 3 minutes to heat through. Add remaining ingredients except bread crumbs, cheese. Stir well, taste and add salt and pepper to personal taste, I added about a teaspoon Kosher salt and about a tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper. Place in a 9x13 pan, top with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 350, uncovered for about 40 minutes.

If you are on weight watchers, which Kendra is, a serving of this is only 9 points. It's hearty and delicious. I am not a stew person but loved, loved this dish. I think the combination of sausage and chicken comes together so well. I also think this would make a terrific Crock Pot dish. I would saute the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic with the Olive oil then add everything to my crock pot and cook it all day on low. I think it would work. You would want to play with the breadcrumb topping by maybe toasting it with some butter in the skillet you used for the veggies. It's really good, trust me.

The photo is courtesy of Southern Living ( I could never take a picture that good). We also made a Spring Salad which was super. This was a Southern Living recipe, just search spring salad. It's spring lettuces (I by the Organic Mix at Sam's), bacon, grapes, Crumbled Feta, Pine Nuts, and steamed asparagus all mixed together and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

I can't imagine anyone not being excited about coming home to this meal. Don't forget the crusty bread! We had that, too, with dipping sauces (balsamic and Olive oil with cracked pepper; sun-dried tomato and olive oil). Those girls were really treated royally by my hostess with the mostest! I can't believe I just said that!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tis the season

I have just recently wrapped my brain around Google Reader. I tried it a while ago and we didn't get along very well, then I decided to give it another try and we are getting along much better. Turns out that it was me...go figure! Now, instead of going to all of my favorite haunts to see if they have a new post, I can just look at one spot, Google Reader, on igoogle--my google homepage. I've also added Google Analytics to my page to monitor the activity of my blog, turns out there are more people coming by than I thought. Just so happens more don't want to comment than do, that's ok with me. What can't Google do? Having carved a good 30-40 minutes of my day free, I can post on my blog. So far, I'm on a steady roll with a post every day this week. That's how it used to be when I first started.
Going to a wedding anytime soon? This seems to be the season for attending weddings. We'll be going to five or six this season alone. I can't tell you how many baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings we attend each year. Kendra and i always try to find something unique and special to give to the guests of honor. For bride's to be we love to give them practical things that will help them settle into being married.
There is a certain time in a bride's life, and groom too, when the new appliances aren't really all that fun anymore, and the excitement of being "newlyweds" begins to wear down because you've spent the last six weeks addressing than you cards. And, have now realized your new husband has not even a clue how his underwear made it from the bathroom floor, where they were dropped as he got in the shower back into his dresser! That's when our gift kicks in and keeps on giving.
Here's just one idea for you to give to a new bride. An ovenmit, the long kind so arms aren't burned, into which you have stuffed some handy tools (spatulas, spoonulas, whisk, french spoon) and a recipe for Custom Casserole.
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup water or any of the following liquids: chicken broth, white wine, sherry
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Choose one from each category:
Sauce Makers:
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can Cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
Choose one Fish/Meat/Poultry:
2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna, drained and flaked
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups chopped cooked ham
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
Choose one Pasta/Rice:
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup uncooked rice
4 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
3 cups uncooked medium shells
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
Choose one Frozen Vegetable:
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut broccoli
1 (10-ounce) package frozen Italian green beans
1 (10-ounce) package frozen English peas
1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced yellow squash
1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn
Choose one or more Extras (Optional):
1 (3-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 (1 1/4-ounce) envelope taco seasoning mix
PreparationCombine 1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream, 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper with Sauce Maker (omit sour cream and milk when using tomatoes). Stir in Pasta/Rice, Frozen Vegetable, Fish/Meat/Poultry, and if desired, Extras.
Spoon casserole mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish; sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
Cover and bake casserole at 350ยบ for 1 hour and 10 minutes; uncover and bake 10 additional minutes.
Chicken Casserole: Cream of chicken soup, broccoli, rice, chicken, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs.
Ham Casserole: Cream of celery soup, Italian green beans, wide egg noodles, ham, garlic, and 2 portions Swiss cheese.
Turkey Casserole: Italian-style diced tomatoes, spinach, medium pasta shells, turkey, onion, garlic, mozzarella cheese, adn breadcrumbs.
Vegetarian Casserole: Italian-style diced tomatoes, yellow squash, rice, olives, 4 portions celery, 4 portions bell pepper, garlic, parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs.
6 servings
Hand write this on a recipe card and stick it in the oven mit. For a new bride who loves to cook, or a new groom who read a 400 page cookbook on the drive home from Sterling City's Wedding Shower for he and his wife (who me? of my altime favorite cookbooks even after 12 years) as they began their journey together. Having an aresenal of go to recipes that do not scare the dog duke out of a new cook, but equip them with the confidence to begin branching out.
ATTENTION ALL NEWLYWEDS: Comeplete meal kits that have become their own aisle at most grocery stores are a joke! Please, Please, more time...PAAAALEEEASSEEEE do not purchase these. It is so easy to "whip" up a great, easy meal with your own two hands and will be much healthier and better for you.
The Ladies Class I taught in OKC gave me an acrylic box full of their hand written recipes which they have loved over the years. Each lady submitted their top five/ten recipes and each one is handwritten. This is one of my top favorite cherished items in my kitchen. The bos is a little worse for the wear (my son thought of it as a play toy), but the recipes are still entact. Love that box full of recipes.
Now go out there and ignore the Bridal Registry...they will not use that egg and muffin toaster!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No rest for the weary

Today is Administrative Professionals Day--Happy Administrative Professionals Day. In honor and to honor the fantastic team I work with I made them breakfast as a surprise this morning. I knew it was going to be hard to pull it off because I had to re-mulch the front flowerbed and get the yard cleaned up, plus some touch up painting around the house. Kendra's having one of her 10000 bunko groups over tomorrow night and we wanted things to look good. I found black mulch and Lowe's and it's really cool I must say. I tend to get lost in a wandering stupor when I go to places like that and take too much time to get something that should be jiffy quick. I really want to have a good gardening karma, but I just don't. I didn't really grow up around it and it just never rubbed off.

Titus and Levi helped me out (as much help as a 5 and 2 year old can be), which was really great. I enjoyed spending the time with them and being patient and steady. My Dad had a short fuse when I was growing up and I can remember all too many times his sending me in the house to get him out of my hair because I frustrated him. I don't want that memory to be my son's memory. It took us about three hours to get the yard done.

After a quick shower and dinner, I watched American Idol (I don't want to miss that puppy) and helped get the kids to bed. It was around 9 when I went to the store to get groceries for the food I had planned to make. I got home about 10:30 and started cooking. Not being a night owl at all I had a rough time staying on task I just wanted to go to bed. I made a double batch of Chocolate Chip Muffins (turned out VERY good) and also made Piggies (sausage rolled in a crescent roll). It was about 11:30 and I knew I couldn't go any further. After cleaning up I got to bed by midnight. Alarm set.

5AM!! I got up at 5AM and made the other two items I was serving: Poppy seed cake and Gorilla bread. Poppy seed cake is simple and straight forward, I use a lemon glaze over and not in the cake. Gorilla Bread is over top decadent indulgence. If you like monkey bread then you would love Gorilla bread. Regular canned biscuits that get flattened, then are wrapped around some cinnamon sugar and a cube of cream cheese and placed in a bundt pan. The bundt pan is also enrobed in brown sugar, butter, pecans and more cinnamon sugar. It only takes 30 minutes to make and is just out of this world. You can find the recipe at Food Network's website, just search for gorilla bread.

Having all of the stuff done; Poppy seed cake, Gorilla Bread, Piggies, Chocolate Chip Muffins, and tossed fruit I headed over to the office. Everyone was surprised and pleased with what I did and knew they were loved. It's fun for me to cook and get recipes together, and then see people enjoy them so much--love that.

We bought Teensy some walking shoes a few weeks ago and the store where we were had these shoes which I immediately loved and almost bought (three sizes too big) Teensy a pair. I just loved the creativity. Can you tell what these babies are without me telling you? Give up? See below for the answer.

It an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie, yellow, polka-dot bikini SANDAL! How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Party Favor

Our pulpit minister celebrates his 40th birthday--today. His very outgoing and over the top wife wanted to plan a surprise birthday party for her beloved and approached Kendra and me in February to see if we could help with the food. We love them both very much and agreed without hesitation because we feel that "they" were very much a part of the human side of this move from Fort Worth to Tulsa--God made it happen.

This wasn't going to be just ANY surprise party. There was a professional party planner, a committee which consisted of: the caterer, the decorator, the game show host, the MC, the vidographer, the sound technician, the baker who was going to make the cake, and the wife who fronted several thousand dollars for this event.

My focus was food and I really didn't put much else into thought--just food and nothing but food. It was all I really needed to focus on, as a helper bee I tend to get distracted in the assistance of others and allow what I need to do to go down the toilet. I've always been a helper bee. I can remember being one of the last students at my desk still working while the other kids were playing and stopping so kids could get an impression of my awesome pewter Superman belt buckle. I wish I still had that buckle!
To make this event a little more special, I decided to try something I've never tried before in having servers walk around with trays full of food, not buffet tables. Would it work? The theme for the event was, "through the decades" focusing on the lifespan of our guest of honor. Beginning with the 60's and moving up to current day, each corner of the room would be decorated with iconic elements of that era. At one of those corners I put the drink station (punch, Orange tea, and water), then the cake station, and the other three stations were cold food tables. In the picture on the left you can see how the screen was decorated. it was very cool.
Cold station food:
Fruit Salad: Mandarin Oranges, Grapes, Red and Green Apples, Pineapple, Blueberries, and Strawberries. I made a mint infused simple syrup consisting of equal parts sugar and water into which I placed a hand full of mint, brought all of that to a boil and cooked it until it was clear. Then I let it cool and tossed the fruit into the syrup, it just barely coated the fruit and made it really good.
Veggie Tray: We had mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, New potato wedges (boiled in Zataran's creole seasoning), carrots, broccoli and pepper strips. I served that with a bowl of Garlic and Ricotta Dip (my cookbook calls it Garlic Yogurt dip). I love this dip and have been making it for over ten years.
Cheese ball: This is my standard cheese ball that I have made for years. It's the tried and true go to cheese ball I always make and always use. The tray we found at target. Kendra and I wanted to put the cheese ball on a pedestal then surround it by crackers. Well, we couldn't find a pedestal so we made one. We took a melamine plate, turned a bowl upside down then used foam tape to attach and viola--cheese ball pedestal. It looked really cool.
I only have my camera phone to take pictures most of the time because I do not have the wherewith all to keep a camera at the ready. This tray of snacks wasn't the best one we presented, but I wanted a picture of the hot foods to show in this post, and just took this one in a rush. I'll work from left to right and talk about each one. They were all delicious if I do say so myself.
Mini Reuben: I read a recipe for a Reuben snack and adapted it for my own purposes. We were expecting 3-400 so I had to make around 500+ of each snack to have enough. I started with Reuben cocktail bread then placed a slice of corned beef onto the bread. After that I put a 1/4 inch slice of Swiss cheese and baked that in a 350 oven until the cheese melted. After it came out I put a dollop of thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and green onion. I don't like Rubens because I don't like any of the components that make it. But, these were great! I would recommend them for your next party.
Spinach Puffs: I love spinach puffs. It's a very basic snack. Spinach, onion, garlic, stuffing crumbs, nutmeg salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese all mixed with egg and baked. They are really tasty.
Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade roll: This was my personal favorite. Puff pastry (my first time working with this! Can you believe that?) rolled into an 11x13 inch rectangle. The tapenade was sun-dried tomato, olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil food processed into a somewhat thick paste. I spread the pastry with the tapenade then rolled it in each direction to meet in the middle. Baked at 350 until it bubbled and hit with Romano cheese as it came out of the oven. So good.
Sliders: All the rage right now are mini-burgers. These puppies are everywhere. The guest of honor loves hamburgers so this seemed a logical choice to me. Simple hamburger mini sized. I made a sauce of Ketchup, Dijon Mustard, and Mayonnaise mixed with Steak seasoning and slathered it on the burger. They were very popular.
Six Cheese Sausage balls: Kendra and I love sausage balls and these were our version of the sausage ball but we added six cheeses and Italian seasoning to them to make them a little more sophisticated. The cheese got all crispy on the outside and stayed tender and delicious. The trick to sausage balls is to make sure the sausage breaks down and gets incorporated into the cheese and biscuit mix. That's critical. I have a friend in Texas who puts cheese whiz in his sausage balls, but have never taken the leap into that one.
All in all the event was a success. 32 hours of cooking, plating, and cleaning all came together to make a stunning party. Catering is really about loving your food more and knowing you are presenting a good product because when the event happens you usually don't' get recognized as such. The food stands on it's own.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another is better...or is it? PLUS A GIVEAWAY

This is my 101st post since starting this blog. I've been watching and waiting for the time when the 100th post would come along, not sure when or if it would ever come along. And this morning I was about to post something else when I noticed that I had 101 posts! HUH? 101 posts! how did that slip up on me? I went back to the dashboard and noticed a couple of drafts that I needed to delete (if it doesn't' flow it needs to go, KWIM?) which took me to 100. How cool is that a milestone. I really love milestones because I love nostalgia and sentimentality and now this is no longer just a "thing" I toy with deleting but a real deal sentimental favorite that I'll keep just because I keep things I love.

I'll never forget when my beloved Honda Accord hatchback five speed rolled 100K. I pulled over to the side of the road and sat in my Honda and just soaked up the moment...loved that car. Getting rid of it was the biggest mistake of my adolescent life. Sure the sunroof which had been added after the fact had to share a fuse...sure the seats were getting torn from sun rot and the often leaky after-market sunroof...sure the baby blue paint was starting to show signs of grey...sure it had 100K...sure it was paid for--but I was going away to college and I didn't want it to break down (it hadn't' broken down, except for that one time on my 22nd birthday) on me after all. EVERYONE in my family told me to keep it and get it fixed up (new brakes, clutch, etc.) and it would go for another 100K. New would better, actually in my mind another is better.

Kids don't really know how to be rational or complaisant. It's often times that "another" is better than what they have. It's not that what they have is bad or wouldn't work, but another is better and there needs to be no rationalization or qualification because another is all that is sought. It's a crazy and bizarre syndrome of which I am afflicted and to this day fight (that's why I have 10 coffee mugs and just bought another one Saturday). My grandparents and Dad don't have this affliction, I think there is a generation of folks who don't' have the another is better affliction. My grandmother has sat in the same chair for 30+years. Could she use a new one--yes! Does she want one, NO. There isn't a, another is better, thing with her. Maybe it's because she never had an opportunity or the resources to get another and had to make do with what she had. My Poppa wore the same engineer overalls his entire life (obviously buying a new pair when they wore out), with matching cap. Usually no shirt, just the overalls a t-shirt and his cap, in the winter he would put a flannel shirt over the overalls. He didn't need anything else because he had what he needed and didn't care about another. Is that why appliances are crap now a days? Crap because they know they don't have to make them last 40 years because "we" have the credit resources to replace that it? I may be onto something.

Before I left for school I was determined to get another car. Did I shop around, no. Did I know what I wanted, yes..another! I found myself on a mega car lot and got sucked into a used car salesman's speel. Such a sucker. I purchased a Chevy Corscia four door with a hatchback. It was a bizarre and odd car and the beginning of the downward spiral in my car purchases. If ever in the history of bad cars there as a lemon--this car was it. This car was a piece of junk. I only had it a year and a half and it was a nightmare the entire time. The worst part of this car were the windshield wipers because they would attack one another. If cars have personalities (I think they do) then my car had schizophrenia. Windshield wipers are critical elements to a car that, like the Swiss Guard, need to be always on alert and ready at a moments notice. Who uses their windshield wipers when it's not raining--NO ONE. Wipers are only needed when they are needed! Mine would begin to wipe and do their things for two or three swipes...then the left wiper would just swing over and smack the right wiper and the brawl was on. Nothing like a windshield wiper cat fight! I hated this car the entire time I drove it, except the first month because it was new and, after all, another is better, or is it?
My next car was a Nissan Stanza, rolled in some negative equity on it from the lemon. Drove that a little bit and grew tired of it's blahness, so I traded it in on a Plymouth, rolling in even more negative equity, which raised the bar of bad cars, traded that one in on an Altima (negative equity mounting even more) and drove it happily for five years until we traded it in on a Taurus (negative equity? You bet)--bad car. The Taurus was traded for an Expedition, loved that car, we drove it until it fell apart, traded that one in on another Altima and had planned to drive it until Teensy decided to be created and come into the world. Which brings us to the Quest (still carrying the negative equity from the 75 cars I traded) we drive now.
I've had a bad car karma and it's all because I thought another is better. How can I get away from thinking that another is better? I don't know...I just don't know. Maybe someday Oprah will do a show, "Another Isn't Better, next Oprah" (love when she says, "next Oprah). She always seems to take these things on and just make sense of them and work them out to where you can wrap your brain around something that was millstone around your neck for years and conquer it. Oprah is the veritable snip to your millstone. One show and SNIP gone move on. She's amazing, isn't she. Just ask Mildred about how Oprah snipped her millstone. AND ask her how Oprah's show called her...OPRAH'S SHOW CALLED HER!
Now...for some fun stuff. To celebrate the 101st post of this blog: I'm going to have a giveaway! What will I give away--a coffee mug? NO, just kidding. I wrote a cookbook to benefit my 2nd child's adoption and I will give away a signed copy to a lucky winner. I only have 8 copies left, so quantities are limited. All you have to do is leave a comment and a lucky winner will be selected. Good luck.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Dam Trip

Last weekend, Thursday after pre-school, well all loaded up in the van headed to Poppa and Graham's for a get away. Poppa wanted to take Titus fishing because Spring is a good time to go. My Dad is thrilled beyond his ability to express in any way that that Titus enjoys fishing. He thought when he had a son that his son would be an angler as well and love the sport which he loved as a lad--that didn't happen. I did give it a try's a really long story and I need to stay focused on this one. I'll tell the story some other post--promise. Anyway, Titus was busting to get to Poppa's house and go fishing. My Dad has been catching fish at grand lake for about a year and a half and taking them to the pond to stock it. He has carp, bass, and other fish beings caught at the lake in that pond. It's a perfect set up for an anxious five year old who loves to fish with his Poppa.

We had not pulled into the driveway and unloaded when, "Poppa come on let's go fishing!" Of course that was music to my Dad's ears, "Hang on sport, let's get unloaded, don't you want to go tomorrow?" "NO! Now, Poppa please let's go fishing." Dad got the fishing duke you need to fishing on a pond in the middle of a pasture, and his camera and headed off with my boy who was so totally and completely beyond excited he couldn't stand it. I have a feeling my Dad was so totally and completely excited he couldn't stand it either, but he would never let on that HE was excited.
They were gone probably an hour or more when I heard the door open, "DAD...DAD...I caught seven bass! SEVEN! and we had to watch out for the cow poop--it was huge!" "That's awesome, Bub." Dad had two shots of Titus holding his catch. When you catch bass you admire and release so you can catch them again. When you catch carp, you kill them and eat them (well I don't as I don't really like fish). He was so excited, "Hey bubba...come on let's go play...I caught seven fish and it's was awesome! The cow poop was huge and everywhere!" I wasn't sure if the fishing or the cow poop was higher on the made my day list.
Dad mentioned that he wanted to take us to the spillway so we could see the water. Kendra and I had that slow motion turn and look, "spill see...water...ohhh-K." It's been raining in our neck of the woods, typical spring weather, and the water is really high. To the point that there is a considerable amount of flooding that has happened. Grand lake is a man-made lake, made possible by the Grand River which was dammed in 1937-40. The Grand River Dam project, GRDA, produced a dam that was Oklahoma's first facility to produce electricity by hydroelectric power and is also the worlds longest multiple arch dam, 51 arches and 21 spillways. The dam is over a mile long and quite a sight. All of this information, by they was is thanks to a quick Google search done about ten minutes ago.
Friday morning we got up and made it out the door by 11. We stopped at Dairy Queen (there are two restaurants in Seneca where you can safely eat this is one. It is the ONLY nationally recognized fast food place. My Dad has always loved road trips. We used to load up in the car and just drive to see the country side. We would drive for hours and hours, which was so horribly boring to Sis and I. Kendra was hoping to stay home with Teensy, but no such luck she didn't nap and had to go. "So Poppa, how long is this trip?" "Well...about twenty or thirty minutes." Kendra was suspicious. "You said that the last time it took us an hour to get to the place you wanted to eat...are you sure?" "[chuckling] yes, it's just the other side of Grove." Kendra looked at me with that, we are screwed look on her face. It's a good twenty five minutes to Grove, provided cars are actually accelerating. You see people in Seneca and Grove like to allow gravity to accelerate their cars. You know how you can put your car in drive and have it kind of move? Well, that's exactly how they travel--ON THE HIGHWAY! It really takes me on the fast track close to insanity. Once in Grove the dam is another twenty or so minutes away. The whole journey there took about 45 minutes to reach.

I did realize that saying, dam, is fun. Fun because it sounds like a bad word, but really isn't since it's a real deal retaining wall for water. So, while on this dam trip we got to say dam without my Dad's furrowed brow of disapproval. En route we saw an alpaca farm which was kind of cool, those animals are pretty impressive and the farm was really neat. We didn't stop just drove by in a rush to get on with our dam trip. As we drove I saw a sign for, "The Dam Hotel." "I have to stop and get a picture of that! how cool is that." The dam hotel is in Disney, Oklahoma. I wanted to get out and see if they had a shirt that said, "I love my dam shirt." but we didn't stop.
There was a really cool Dairy Whip counter that I wanted to stop at as well, but we didn't. These dairy counters are peppered all through my stomping grounds and part of my child hood. I love going up to the white painted cinder block building, reading the menu written on plywood, mounted to the side of the building. Then you go up to the tiny stainless steel counter and look at the teenager whose hair is pulled into a pony tail, wishing she were anywhere but in Disney, Oklahoma at the dairy whip. The sliding screen window is pushed open allowing the smell of cold air and Clorox to fill your nose. "Help ya." The burgers are always great there, crispy buttered and toasted buns, greasy grilled fried hamburger patty. It's such a tremendous part of my childhood--I love it. I'm guessing these started to spring up when Dairy Queen became huge hit and folks thought they could do the same thing too.
Upon seeing the dam I have to say, it was cool. Very 40's with the rounded concrete arches and such. I had this, "now what" feeling as we drove over the dam. We saw the dam...there was water on one side and just a tiny little stream on the other. My Dad did say that he and his Dad used to come to this spot and fish in a wooden boat. I had a quadrillion questions, but knew that Dad wouldn't really purge so I just asked a few and tried to satisfy my unbelievable hunger for more nostalgia. I get little trickles every now and then. "Let's go on up to the spillway." It, too was a bridge, but man oh man was it cool. This picture to the right shows all of the gates open allowing the water to, spill out. The engineers have calculations of exactly how much water passes through the gates per second and know how fast the river can recede if the gates are open and such. I didn't care about that--the power of rushing water was awesome! We pulled off the side of the road onto a graveled space and got out to take a peek. Get a closer look. I had Teensy so I wasn't allowed to get too close. I'm not sure if Kendra thought the pull of gravity and rushing water would suck her out of my arms or what, but I had to stay back. It's a mom thing.
This picture, to the left, shows the ferocious rush of water. The mist rising from water crashing through to freedom and the sound of the water rushing was quite a spectacle. I could have stood at that spillway for the rest of the day and just watched the water spill. It was really cool. I noticed something interesting while on this dam trip. With every car that stopped (there were about eight or so) while we were gawking only the men got out and went to look at the sight of rushing water. The women stayed in the vehicle read the paper, made their grocery lists, filed their nails, picked their toes, biding their time until their man got back into the car. It was kind of funny to me. Do you think when the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea that things were slowed down by all the men who stopped, gobsmacked by the sight of this Sea parted like fine hair, just held back. All the while women were, "watch out for that rock...don't touch that fish...let's go you don't know how long this water will hold back...sir, will you please get moving it's JUST water." That struck me as funny. I see the same expressions on men when they are planted in the strategically placed chairs of department stores as their women rummage through clothes completely gobsmacked by the beautiful sight of all the pretty fabrics and smell of dye. Just love people watching.
When we got home, Dad went to pick up grandmother as she had not seen Teensy since she was in the NICU. I have to say I was shocked at the sight of my grandma. For my whole life my grandma didn't change. She had this timeless age about her. I'm not saying she was Dick Clark or anything, I'm just saying that she has aged gracefully--until now. She looked old. At 92 the reality is that she is old, but she looked old. Her hands were not the hands of my grandma. Her face was beginning to get that sunken look, just looked old. She, however had not "changed" that much as she was up to her old self which told me that she was still Grandmother. She loved seeing the boys and Teensy and they just looked at her like they look at all of the old ladies who want to love on them at church. Lean in and take it with a smile. Chubbers was a little more vocal, "go way wantchyou."
After supper I took her back home and had a good chat. "See that hotel?" "Yes ma'am." "Well Tig (my cousin Tiger) had this girlfriend stay the night with him after they had a date and he had won all this money playing bingo...well he got up the next morning and she had up and left him high and dry and taken all of his money." I didn't have heart to tell my grandma that he had probably hired her for the night and she took more "tip" than she should have. I don't blame her, you haven't seen my cousin! I was stunned to learn (the hooker story did kind of catch me off guard) that he was a Grandfather! He's only 40 and the grandfather of 3! Holy buckets!
My hometown was very much different in a freaky kind of way. The Pizza Hut that I grew up going to was a nail salon, there's a new one down the road. The McDonald's is still the same, thank God. My high school had added on and changed, but Senior Hill was still there. After dropping her off and saying good bye I drove away wondering if that would be the last time I ever saw her, but put that aside. I had the same feeling I had as a kid and we dropped her off from church, which was very strange. It was the feeling of empathy or sadness, I just get consumed and full inside with this, "I hope she's not lonely" feeling. Hard to express, have you ever felt that way? Can you put it in better words? Hope you know that of which I speak. I love my Grandma and wish her life had been more joyful and happy and that she had shared her love for life with others so that their lives would be happy and joyful. That didn't happen and it's been sad, really sad. But I've tried all my life to build happy memories and rest assured that I did everything I could to be doing the right thing. No regrets.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Time warp

It's hard to believe that March 2008 is no more. I haven't been a friend to this space, but hope to be better in updating my posts. I'm currently working on that which screams the loudest, and this space doesn't say a word.

I read a blog yesterday and saw that you could donate to her Starbucks card, love that idea. Now, just how do I get that on here? HMMMM. Something to work toward. I'm going to be taking some pictures (not with my phone) of our recently renovated Children's Wing and let me just tell you it's astonishing how different it looks!

Today is my birthday, that's right April 1st of all days! So far so good, it's been good and folks have remembered. I think my clan is going to go out to eat tonight and that's always an adventure.

More later. Just stopped by to say hello, I'm still here. See you soon.