Monday, June 28, 2010

It Feels Like Home to Me

We're going home next week.  Where is home when you've lived in five states in less than ten years?  It's where your Dad sits on the couch with the newspaper spread on the coffee table, your Mom cooks all sorts of things in the kitchen, while having minor explosions about a pan being in the wrong cabinet, and your sister leaves Diet Coke cans all over the place and alternatively reads French novels and Little House books.  And in the summer, everyone runs around in swimsuits and various levels of coverups at the table, and ice cream is served in unlimited portions out by the pool.  For me, this comfortable, familiar place, is Ohio.

We can drive home in about 6 hours, so once Michael's accounting exam ends next Wednesday, we are outta here!  It's not like we're going from Ithaca to Rome or anything.... we're going to Ohio, after all.  But Ohio is engrained so deeply in our being, it's always good to go back.  Our agenda includes doing laundry for free in our mothers' machines, eating food we don't have to cook, and catching up with our sisters.  Yes, all four of us will be in the same place for three days!  And there's no wedding, so we'll have a bit of free time.

There's just something comforting and relaxing about going home for a few days on your days off.  Not a vacation.  No planning, no itinerary, no hotel room, no sight seeing.  Not particularly 'interesting' but you know,  good for the soul.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jammin' with Marilyn

Any LRA choir kid will tell you that Marilyn Crooker knows her way around the kitchen.  I often wonder if seniors are in choir solely for the zucchini bread that is bestowed upon them for their 18th birthday.  (Kidding)  But it's not just zucchini bread.  She'll make apple cake, pie, angel food cake, etc. etc.  In addition to baking these scrumptious goodies, and hauling mattresses onto roofs, Marilyn makes multiple flavors of jam.  From scratch.  With berries she picks herself.  Since I live so close to her this summer, I was invited to join the fun.

Strawberry picking is best done in the morning, before the heat and humidity beat you down.  So we were off, bright and early to start our day.  

Have you ever picked strawberries?  It's not like picking apples, which grow above your head.  No, strawberries grow inches off the ground.  It requires squatting, bending, and reaching.  It is not for sissies.  

In just over an hour, we had four buckets brimming with berries.  (We might have eaten a few along the way, too)  The buckets were heavy, too.  They weighed in at just over 24 pounds.  That's a lot of strawberries, folks.  It looks even more impressive when you spread them out on the dining room table.  Aren't they beautiful?  

Now it's time to make the jam!

Find a ginormous colander to rinse them, then hull each and every damn one.  It'll take as long as picking them did.  But be patient, hull with a buddy, and time will pass quicker.

Once you've hulled a lot of berries, you'll need to mash them.  They were so ripe, I barely had to mash.  They were, no joke, the most delicious berries I have ever had.  That's probably because I earned them...  bending to pick all the berries is hard work!  But even so, scrumptious.  

Mixing the sugar, pectin, and water is the key step in creating a non-runny, slightly set jam.  It's an art form.  I was evidently a quick learner because my jam was a lovely texture.

Oh, who are we kidding.  I am such a novice.  It was good because I had a fantastic teacher.

She is such a pro, she has multiple sized funnels in order to neatly pour the jam into the jars.  She also has multiple shaped ladles.  Did you know there is more than one kind of ladle?  Me neither.

Here we are with the finished product.  We each made a batch, and had lots of beautiful jars of jam lined up on the counter.  I am proud to report that I successfully made a batch of jam, filled 8 jars, and will be enjoying homemade, delicious jam for the next several months.  Aren't you jealous?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Paul Harvey's "What Are Fathers Made Of" 

A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth, without an anesthetic.

A father is a thing that growls when it feels good–and laughs loud when it’s scared half to death.

A father never feels entirely worthy of worship in his child’s eyes. He never is quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be. This worries him, sometimes, so he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

A father is a thing that gets very angry when school grades aren’t as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son although he knows it’s the teacher’s fault.

Fathers grow old faster than other people.

And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers stand there and beam outside–and die inside. Fathers have very stout hearts, so they have to be broken sometimes or no one would know what is inside. Fathers give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop…where they tackle the dragon with three heads: Weariness, Work and Monotony.

Knights in shining armor.

Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who will live the longest. Though they know the odds, they keep right on betting. Even as the odds get higher and higher, they keep right on betting more and more.

And one day they lose.

But fathers enjoy an earthly immortality and the bet is paid off to the part of him he leaves behind.

I don’t know where fathers go when they die. But I have an idea that after a good rest, he won’t be happy unless there is work to do. He won’t just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he’s loved and the children she bore. He’ll be busy there, too…oiling the gates, smoothing the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup

I am not good at soccer.  I don't really know all the rules of soccer.  I was a field hockey girl back in the day, which suited me just fine.  I wore shin guards and knee socks, but prefer to hit a ball with an inanimate object, not my foot, thank you very much.

But it's 2010, which is a World Cup Year.  (I guess WC and Winter Olympics are now in the same calendar year?)  Truth be told, I didn't know the World Cup was this summer till about a week ago.  I have not watched any soccer thus far, but my sister is keeping me up to date in the attractive male athlete department.  Attractive man are one of her many specialties.

In case you need some eye candy, or haven't drooled on your keyboard in awhile, I offer you this to cap off what I hope was a delightful Monday.  Who is your favorite?  Benny Feilhaber would be welcome at my house any time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

...Bright copper kettles and warm wollen mittens.  You know the rest.  (And if you don't, stop what you're doing and obtain a copy of The Sound of Music.  Watch it, and then come back)  It's a catchy song, don't you think?  We all have our favorite things.  I can list my favorite things with the best of them.  My problem comes when someone asks me to name my favorite ________.  What's your favorite color?  What's your favorite book?    What's your favorite movie?  Favorite TV show?  Actor?  Animal?  Ice cream flavor?  The list goes on.  Truth be told, I don't have a favorite color.   Blasphemy, I know.

The author of one of the blogs I regularly read recently posed the 'what is your favorite book' question to her readers, and yesterday published the results.  Since the first book on the list got more than 2,000 votes, you see that she has more readers than I.  But this is not a contest and I don't really care.  I read the results list, have read many of the books, but by no means all of them.  But it got me thinking first of all, that this would be a good list to take to the library, but also about which book I would have voted for.  And I couldn't decide!  It was really bothering me.  I think I am more of a top 5 person.  Name your top five favorite books of all time?  Difficult, but certainly more manageable.

My dad does have a favorite book.  Pat the Bunny.  Seriously.  Ask him that question and I guarantee you will get Pat the Bunny as a response.  My mother, a retired librarian with a penchant for inhaling books at the rate of more than one per week, probably would have a lot of trouble.  Understandably so, since she has read nearly every book every written.  My sister (who has been dubbed as 'socially interesting') would likely choose the Little House books, Redwall series, or something written in French like Les Miserables.  But the FRENCH version.  Michael is in grad school and declared yesterday that he only has time to read assigned books.  But we all know Michael's answer to the 'what's your favorite book' question.  The iBook.  In case you are wondering, here are my top five, in no particular order:

  1. Harry Potter series (technically 7 books, work with me, folks)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. The Catcher in the Rye
  4. The Kite Runner
  5. Goodnight Moon
  6. The Giving Tree
  7. The Little Prince
See, I couldn't stop at 5!  It's a sickness, I tell you.