Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ladies In Red

Beautiful, bountiful summer berries:

(For those of you that don't make jam this is just the skim from the top and not what the jam itself looks like!)

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than putting up some jam for the harsh winter to come. Maybe I can get Seneca to play with her corn husk doll among the baskets of winter squash in the attic.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Odds n' Ends

1. I have a fear of squirrels. Chesaning has a lot of squirrels, way too many for my comfort level. So many that when I run in town I am profoundly afraid that when the squirrels and I are dodging each other one will mistake me for a tree and try to run up my leg. Seriously.

2. I am the type of person that will discretely smell your dishrag before I use it because I can't stand "stinky dishrag". I have done this since I was a young child because I used to bake a lot at my neighbors and they always had "stinky dishrag".

3. Today I cleaned out my running cubby and realized that the reason I don't have nice clothing to wear in public is because I spend all of my apparel budget on technical running wear.

4. I eat 365 bananas a year (366 during a leap year).

5. I like to cook my pancakes so that raw batter remains on the inside and gushes out when I take a bite. This is another run-over from childhood, my mom would cook them that way just for me, do you think I was her favorite?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Maybe My Standards Aren't as High as I Thought

"Coffee can be kept warm on a burner or hot plate for only about 20 minutes-at most-before the flavor starts to become bitter. Reheating coffee-even a little bit- will ruin its flavor. An airtight thermos preserves the flavor for several hours while keeping the coffee hot, but if it is left there too long the coffee will eventually develop a thermos taste."

-Mollie Katzen from Sunlight Cafe

I've read this several times before from other sources but I just can't seem to bring myself to reload the stove top percolator every time I want a cup of coffee. I thought I was one of "those" people who appreciate a fine cup of coffee and maybe I really am, but my daily life is far from things "fine" and so a reheated cup of nonfreshly ground beans will have to do for most occasions. I did receive a coffee grinder for my birthday so that does bring me one step closer to the ideal cup of coffee. That is, if I don't let it percolate too long and then drink it within the alloted amount of time instead of on my way down the bumpy lane to take the kids to swimming lessons. I find these days that I drink my entire cup of coffee like shot of whiskey. Gotta get it in but can't enjoy it going down. It is more about the fix than the Folger's moment.

Maybe because my coffee is so far from great I tend to focus on the vehicle of delivery instead. That means I am very picky about my mug! Most of the coffee cups we have will suffice, they hold the beverage and are coated in some kind of entertaining something or other. The "real" mug (it really is rock-solid) that I have is heavy and extremely pleasing to hold, it is my mug of choice on any given day. Soon though, I plan to purchase the ultimate of all mugs, the ergonomically correct mug made for people afflicted with sensory issues.

I found it at the Flint Farmer's Market in their little art gallery and was instantly excited when I picked it up and found that it FIT my hand. It fit my hand so well I bet I could run with it and not even notice it was there, maybe even sleep with it too.

Unfortunately I am attempting to be more frugal these days and with the wheat crop still in limbo and not harvested yet I will have to wait to purchase my $15 therapy tool. Maybe I'll even find myself some sort of fancy carafe and grind my own beans daily.

(I would have taken a photo of the mug but I think they would have confiscated my camera so I didn't steal the designer's style and just make one for myself. Because I'm so talented with clay and all.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ladder of Years

I've often considered having an entire separate blog devoted to mothers. The blog would not be about how to mother but about those female people that for better or worse have shaped our lives. I guess I really mean my mother and possibly even your mother. I don't mean to dishonor my mother, she certainly has a special place in my life beyond the giving birth role, but sometimes she just pushes me right to the brink of thinking I'm crazy. And usually it is just little things all added together, the tiny digs, the directed remarks that suggest I'm just not quite up to snuff.

I would probably start my new blog with a post about how not even my choice of literary material is considered good enough for her. It wasn't really the comments about the new book that I am reading, it was the accompanying facial expression that clearly said, "You just spent an hour scooping pig poop out of a pen and now you are reading books about how to leave your husband, nice life you have here." Sorry, but I did not choose a book about a woman of three almost grown children that walks out on them and her husband because I have a deep desire to leave my own husband and children. Of course I do fantasize about this scenario on certain days but not seriously enough to devastate every individual that I have an intimate relationship with, including myself.

So really mom, I didn't check it out because I was "looking for ideas" I checked it out for a bit of entertainment and because Anne Tyler is a darn good writer.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I had to chuckle when I saw a happy ad in our local newspaper that announced the top Accelerated Reader for one of the elementary schools. The bragging parent posted a picture of said child along with the grand total of AR points he received and then proceeded to list all the family that was congratulating him. I thought it unfortunate that the score he received, 835.9, looked more like a diagnostic code from the DSM-IV rather than a school related achievement. Sadly the DSM-IV does not yet have a code that correlates to that specific number and I'm thinking maybe they should consider an additional area of classification.

Of course the parents that are obsessed (and that is putting it mildly) with their child's AR points could potentially fit into another category, such as personality disorders (possibly 301.81?), or even schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders (I'm thinking 297.1). But I really do believe that an entire new category needs to be researched and developed for parents that live so vicariously through their children that the meaning of their child's accomplishments plays a supreme role in their daily interactions with those around them.

Potential diagnostic examples:

1. A parent is so overwhelmed with the AR point race that he/she seeks out the leading child's public library record to determine if the child is listening to recorded books instead of reading the hard copy. The parent is convinced that the leading child is cheating and that his/her child has no chance of catching up unless the offended is caught.

2. A parent will not allow a child to check out or read books that are not eligible for an AR test. Everything the child does must be reflected in a positive light in the parent's life.

3. A parent physically pushes the parent of the winning child at the awards ceremony and calls the winning child a cheater. The parent cannot accept defeat and is still determined that his/her child should have been the winner.

Studies have shown that children exposed to the AR program in the elementary years actually find reading less enjoyable than those that did not experience such a method. When discussing the main merits of the program with those that believe in it, one of the main arguments always presented is that it teaches the child to enjoy reading. I find it difficult to believe when we pit our children against each other like starving cannibals that they enjoy the process. Especially when as parents we are promoting vicious behavior all in the name of education and creating lifelong readers.

It is okay if my child is not good at football, or tennis, or running. The ability to play and succeed at a sport is not a vital component of life, but reading is. The AR program is rubbish and when a school community is being pulled apart (because you better believe that the parents and children not involved in the ongoing dispute took a side) over points earned for reading books you would assume that those in positions to do so would evaluate the true intentions of their support for the AR program.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Desperately Bad

I am a terrible blogger. It would seem so simple to sit down just once a day for ten minutes and spill out something totally ridiculous about my life. Like I could have written about the new "dress" sandals I bought for the "event" today that my regular Land's End Sports Slides were not appropriate for. I love my new shoes and they are comfortable but if I had Boy D's attitude: "Nobody is going to be looking at me so who cares if I wear my filthy orange Crocs?" as he ran out the door to get in the van, I could have spent that money on something like coffee, or chocolate or running shoes.

Better yet I should have made a point to blog on Friday evening just after I spent AN HOUR AND A HALF chasing the lovely pigs, Fudge and Abigail, around the yard because they escaped from their pen. But now my random and infuriating thoughts about that won't have the same impact because I feel less like shooting them at this point.

Abigail on the loose.

And now it is today and I am whipped from preparing for the baptism of the two youngest boys and then partying all day with lots of food, a little wine, some amazing cake and plenty of wonderful people. And truly there must be a God because my floor is cleaner after having 20 some odd people tramping in and out all day then when my 5 regular destroyers are coming in and out.

How lucky to have a birthday to celebrate on baptism day! Two cakes!

Sadly this photo does not do justice to the glory of this cake. You'll just have to have MaryCake make you one and taste it for yourself.

One baptized boy.

Another baptized boy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hands Down

The best birthday ever, really.

Need I say more?

There are no words to describe my elation for the events that took place on June 6, 2008. Just know that it was worth every risk we took driving through tornado warnings complete with torrential downpours, waiting for the postponed race to start and running my heart out in what must have been 100% humidity.

P.S. My bib number was 160. Jef Mallet is one amazing guy.