Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summertime and the livin' is busy

Year after year after year I look forward to summer, imagining long, sunny, lazy days sipping pina coladas on the back deck. In reality, summer arrives and we are busier than ever, especially this summer with big parties to mark big events (Queenie's graduation; Luke's birthday) which left me whipped. I've been so tired I've felt old. (Although not too tired to play hours of volleyball several evenings a week. Sand volleyball Rocks.) And I have managed to drag myself out to the barn and ride every morning before I take Logan in to rehearsal for Charlotte's Web.

I've picked 20 pounds of strawberries from my local U-pick place. The ones Logan and I didn't stuff in our mouths got frozen or canned. Today was round one of picking black raspberries; our volleyball friends polished off the first cobbler I made today so after volleyball, at 10 p.m., I whipped up another. (One of these days I'll get around to posting recipes because I've got an incredibly easy but good recipe for cobbler.)

I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's new and wonderful book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which chronicles her family's year of eating local. Because of her I ordered a cheesemaking kit from and Logan and I spent part of an afternoon heating up a gallon of milk and turning it into a pound of mozzarella cheese. That was a satisfying afternoon; cheesemaking is pure chemistry but it felt like magic.

And yesterday I made yogurt, just to see if I could. Yep, more chemistry. I don't know if I'll keep making yogurt or cheese, but it's neat to know where these things come from.

The other day I asked Tim if he knew of anyone locally who still milked cows. Yeah, of course he does, he knows everyone. "Why?" he asked. "Oh," I said, "for making cheese. So I don't have to buy a cow." He gave me The Look and made his exit.

I hope no-one from my bag company ever reads my blog. It's easy to forget I have a job, isn't it?

My sister who lives in Colorado was here for Queenie's graduation. We did blend some of those just-picked strawberries into daquiris so a bit of my fantasy summer came true.

How's your summer going?

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Worth passing on, me thinks.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Luke's Birthday Party

Choosing teams for volleyball was interupted by the sound of a beeping horn.
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Logan had the honor of driving Luke's big present to the party.
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(The van Luke was supposed to inherit died two days before his birthday. It was quickly decided that, since we were going to get a car anyway, we might as well have it at his party.)

Luke checks out his new car while my friend and neighbor vannas for the camera.
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Luke checks out his new ride.
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The guys go for a drive.
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Luke opens cards and presents. This one had an inordinate amount of toilet paper involved. And the ketchup on the table? A gift. Because Luke thinks ketchup is its own food group.
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The cops showed up, making it officially a party. (Cars needed to be removed from the roadway.)
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The obligatory Burying the Birthday Boy.
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The birthday boy.
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A good time was had by all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How can he do this to me?

Luke turned 16 today.

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

She did it!

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My Queenie graduated from college.

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Take that diploma and run, girlfriend!

My sister flew in from Colorado to be here for the graduation; she and mom spent the weekend here helping me get ready for the party. I wish I had photos to post but we were so busy and things were so hectic I only took pictures at the actual ceremony. You'll have to take my word when I tell you we threw a heck of a party: lovely little girls in frilly dresses fed apples slices to my horses, my uncle and cousin brought their guitars and when they found a place in the shade and started strumming folks brought lawn chairs over and sang and talked. We cried over Carlena's slide show and Carlena's speech; we played volleyball and cornhole and ate too much good food. It was a great day.

You did it, Queenie. We are so proud of you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Dear Tim

Yesterday was Tim's 46th birthday.

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He's looking pretty good for a guy on the downhill slide to 50.

We had a good day, but now have our noses to the grindstone as we get ready for Queenie's graduation party on Saturday. Last night, I dragged myself to bed and I must have looked pathetic because Logan followed me upstairs to give me a hug. He said, "I'm going to do better about doing things the first time you tell me." And today he did. He and Luke were wonderful help, now that they are out of school (YAY!)

Oh, last Saturday Logan auditioned for the local children's theatre. He found out yesterday he was cast as Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. Rehearsals start next week, along with basketball camp for Logan and summer gym for Lukey. This is their only week off and they have been troupers about helping me get ready for company and the party. I love boys, especially helpful ones.

Speaking of helpful, in above birthday photo, Tim's 'cake' is two of his favorite things: I made the cream cheese cupcakes; Luke made the no-bake cookies (because he couldn't think of a thing to get the man who has everything).

I will be able to think again when this week is over. If I haven't forgot how.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Low Impact Failure

Crunchy Chicken took a poll and learned 52% of her respondents are feeling pretty good about what they are doing during Low Impact Week.

Not me. I'm several categories down the list in Ugh!

All I have done is drive kids to graduation parties; attend one important (to me) graduation party, work on slide shows for graduation parties (yes, I have new hard drive) and plan Queenie's graduation party.

Too much driving; too much rushing. I got behind on the laundry so used the dryer for one load, which is the first time in over three weeks I've used the dryer.

It is interesting to me that living Low Impact can't be done in a rush. I think there is an elemental truth in this observation that explains how we got where we are and why it's so hard to do things differently. I wanted to do things differently this week, wanted to be the star of Crunchy's experiment, but I'm not doing near what I thought I would.

A long time ago I was a Diet Coke drinker. I would have a piece of chocolate cake with ice cream and chase it with Diet Coke on the notion of, hey, I was saving calories, right? That's how my environmentalism feels, like maybe I'm fooling myself.

Food for thought, I guess.

I'm going to bed, but not before I turn off my computer. If you're participating in Low Impact Week, there's today's quick thing you can do: Begin a habit of shutting your computer down for the night.

And don't forget, if you make a low impact change, be sure to check in at Crunchy Chicken's website and leave a comment so she can tally up the number of participants.

I hope you all are doing better at this than I am; I need to be carried for awhile.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Lettin' the wine do the talkin'

The boys, after yet another graduation party, are spending the night at friends'. So it was a Parent Party here tonight and yes much wine was consumed by me. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Alcohol is wasted on youth.

I've had my two glasses of wine for the week and I'm ready to rant and roll:

My lovely, wonderful niece, Queenie, is graduating from college on Saturday. She is graduating in spite of her parents, who can't seem to grow up, can't seem to get away from drug addiction, promiscuity, money problems, marital problems, ad nauseum. Still, Queenie has made it. All on her own. She's kept on keeping on and even as she graduates with her bachelor's degree, she is getting ready, in July, to start her Master's program. And she has two kids. Two good kids. She is utterly amazing and I want you all to send blessings, today, to Queenie in Ohio who is UTTERLY AMAZING.

Here's the rant part: Queenie's dad is my beloved brother who can't get his act together.

Last May, my brother's wife OD'd on back pain. My brother had spent the day taking his wife around to pain clinics, trying to get someone to do something about her back pain (she injured it in a fall ten years previously). No one would do anything; probably because of fear of malpractice suits. When they got home that year ago, she said to my brother, I'm going to a friend's house. My brother started watching a movie. At the friend's house, his wife put a 7-day morphine patch into her mouth. She fell asleep then died.

My brother called my mom, frantically. "She died," he said. "She died." My mom called me because I live closer to my brother. I drove immediately to his house where the death was confirmed. We (me and my other siblings, nieces, nephews) sat shiva with my brother. It was a terrible night of wailing, pulling hair, and gnashing teeth.

We buried my sister-in-law in style. Over 200 friends and family attended her ceremony. She was beloved in her community of casual drug-users, horse folks, and wayward teens she had helped raise.

In the year since she died, my brother, Queenie's father, has fallen apart. He's spent the insurance money, $20 grand, on drugs. He failed a drug test at his work, then got fired. He blew through his $16 grand of retirement money. 'Round about January I wrote him a letter saying as long as he was on drugs I couldn't help him. Couldn't give him money, couldn't help with his house payment, couldn't in any shape or form help him buy drugs, couldn't watch him die as his wife had died. Oxycottin: the drug that did him in.

Last week, my brother lost his house, forfeited to the bank for lack of payment. He moved in with a meth-addicted girlfriend. Soon, if he is not in jail, he will be living with my handicapped brother who is turning out, despite all his problems, to be the very normal person in this soap opera (he took in my brother's dogs when my brother lost his house).

This is the scenario in which my beloved Queenie struggles to raise her kids and put herself through college. I'm honored to be hosting her graduation party on Saturday. If anyone ever asked me who my hero was, I'd shout: Queenie!
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(Looking through the photos, it's hard to find one of Queenie without a baby in her arms, so I chose this one of me, on the left, and her, on the right, getting our Pink Lady groove on.)

Blessings, dear Queenie. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

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The Pink Ladies: Me, my sister, my mom (center), Queenie (left front), my sister-in-law who died of back pain (right front). This photo was taken six months before she died.