Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nothing's Better than an Indian Summer Day

The windows are open, the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing.  What a gift!  People that live in a Northern climate totally understand what I am talking about.  After a couple of weeks of damp, chilly days and cold nights today the temperatures have reached into the 80's.  I can hear children playing on the school playground and mowers getting their last minute mowing done.  Everyone wants to take advantage of possibly the last nice weather stretch before the cold fall days come back.  I love living in an area that has such clearly defined seasons and fall is my favorite.  Going to the Cider Mill, eating donuts, corn mazes, leaf piles are all part of the season that can create so many memories.  I am going to head outside myself and soak some of it in!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Abrahm Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Seth Grahame-Smith has done it again.  Taking a cue from the current Vampire craze he has spun a fascinating tale weaving a plague of vampires into the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

At an early age, Abraham Lincoln watched his mother die from the dreaded "milk sickness" but it wasn't until later into his teens that he learns the truth.  She was killed by vampires to keep Abe's father under the vampire's control.  He makes a pledge to pursue vampires, no matter the cost.  His legendary height and strength are advantages that Abe is able to use in his quest to rid the United States of vampires.  He finds himself partnering with some unlikely partners and they are able to make a dent in the vampire population but the vampires have had years to create political strongholds in the country's info structure.

Abe narrowly makes it into the Presidential office in spite of the vampires attempt to assassinate him to prevent it.  He is not able to personally hunt vampires while in the White House and he is tormented by nightmares about the vampires pursuit of him and his loved ones.  Through his political power granted him by his position, Abe is able to weaken the vampire's power.  Part of the war against the vampires is waged on the battle  fields of the Civil War.  Abe is finally assassinated by Booth to stop the damages the vampires are taking from the power that Lincoln held.

This book is well written and I came away with a feeling of plausibility.  This is one story that i think would translate well to the big screen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fresh Laundry

Like so many people I have been looking for ways to trim our budget.  This summer I have been using our clothes line for drying our laundry.  I am a very systematic person and love coming up with a system that maximizes what I want to get done.  I have done this with my laundry.  First I wash the heavy clothes and get them on the line so they have a chance to get dry during the course of the day.  Then I do the lighter clothes.  I refuse to put out socks, underwear and towels so those loads will be done last.  When the afternoon rolls around, I will check the clothes that have been hanging out and take them off the line and put them into the dryer for 15-20 minutes.  I do this for several reasons.  It makes our clothes softer, smooths the wrinkles, removes any lint that needs to be gotten off the cloth, removes pollen that may have collected on the clothes as well as kills any spiders that might have found refuge in the folds of the laundry.  Those last two details are from experience.  I do have to admit I haven't tracked our electricity usage to see how much I am saving but I am getting a huge sense of accomplishment by doing my laundry this way.  I am going to miss it when they days become too cold to continue.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why do I do this to myself?

For years I have had the same pattern/habit/tradition, I am not sure which word applies.  When I receive an invitation to an event where I need to bring a dish to pass I go on a quest.  I will spend hours combing through cookbooks I never crack open on other occasions looking for that perfect dish to take with me.  Sometimes I have no clue what I would like to make, other times I have an allusive idea to start with but struggle to find the exact recipes to fulfill that idea.  Like I said, I have been doing this for years.

I remember vividly the scavenger hunt 16 years ago when I decided that jalapeƱo poppers would be a great dish to pass.  I had never handled jalapeƱos before.  What a crazy day.  Learning how to handle those peppers, then stuffing and breading them.  Baking them to perfection only to learn we were going to eat AFTER the scavenger hunt.  The poppers went cold and no one ate them.  I was crushed.

One of the recipes I found in my experimentation became a big hit and I was asked to do it often.  It is a simple dish involving graham crackers, pudding and Cool Whip.  I would take it when I was asked to, but it was begrudgingly.  It squelched me desire for new, different dishes.  I was thankful when that dessert was forgotten and I could break out the cook books again.

Last night I decided to make Lemon Squares from scratch.  I do realize that there is a box in the grocery store but I really wanted to make them from scratch.  I executed planning the recipe badly.  I had already run to the grocery store certain that I had enough of the staples from the recipe; i.e. butter, eggs and sugar.  After running to the neighbors for eggs, calling my husband to buy butter on his way home and substituting powdered sugar for granulated, I had the dish ready to put into the oven.  I also forgot to factor in the baking time.  I pulled the dish out of the oven in time to dash out of the door. We were 5 minutes late with a steaming hot pan of Lemon Squares.  I do have to admit the pan came back almost empty and the few bars that were left are gone now but I really need to learn better food planning.  The stress I create for myself by experimenting combined with procrastinating is a little much.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My child of loss

There have been many times in the past 22 years of parenting that I have felt inadequate. Repeatedly, I have wished for an all encompassing guidebook/tech manual for training up a child. I am talking a book like the repair manual for my van.  If A then B types of advice. Maybe with a flow chart or script. That would be my "left brained" self thinking. I am realistic enough to realize that it is not possible. Parenting is so subjective, since each child brings their own set of individual circumstance and personality to the mix. In spite of the lack of direction, I have tried to help my children through difficulties such as: negative peer pressure, diagnosis of a chronic illness, questioning their faith, etc.  The situation that makes me feel incompetent is when one of my children is dealing with a loss. Each of them have had to deal with loss but there is one child that seems to experience more frequently than the other two.

This child began her life of loss at 6 years old when one of her best friends was killed in a playground accident. It has continued through a couple of family deaths but the past few years have been more difficult. She has had at least two close friends move out of the area each summer for the past 4 years. On top of that, she had two friends killed in a car accident this school year. Each of these losses has come with a fresh period of grief for her. And we as parents, are powerless to help.

This month we learned about another instance of a state relocation as well as a two year extension to another friend's dad's job out of the country.  These two newest instances have caused me to reflect on how frequently I have seen this daughter saddened by the loss of another friend in her life. I am beginning to see how strong she really is as she works through her grief. I am also convinced that God has a purpose for her life that will utilize these losses for His glory.  Or as my mother pointed out she will have many places to stay as grows up and wants to travel the world.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time to get going again

I have been very fortunate for the past 9 years to not have any trouble with my knee.  In December of '09 I had to have my knee reconstructed after a softball injury.  Until March of this year I had never had any issues with it.  Then I twisted it.  I cannot believe how long it has taken for me to be able to even think about jogging again because of the stiffness in my knee.  This past weekend I decided I would give it a try and I was able to jog a mile straight through and do a walk/jog combination for the other 4 mile.  I was so excited.  I feel like I have been given my freedom back.  I was depressed thinking that I was not going to be able to jog again after just starting to really try.  The best news is that it was just a tiny bit stiff after that walk/jog but not unbearably so and I also felt like I could do it again the next day (if my quads hadn't been so sore).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Under the Dome

I am trying to be very cautious to not give away and of the plot when I do a book review.

I have always been a Stephen King fan and this book did not disappoint. It was a little daunting at 1074 pages, but right away King's characters had me in their grasp and I had a hard time taking breaks from the story.

An invisible barrier has come down around a little town, resting right on the town borders severing them from the rest of the world. Set in the small town of Chester's Mill, this story portrays what might happen if a small pocket of society were suddenly cut off from outside contact. The dome not only causes problems politically, relationally, and emotionally for those affected by the dome, it also causes some environmental impact on the area that is cut off. The citizens of Chester's Mill fight along with the United States Army to try and figure out a way to get rid of the dome, while some corrupt people trapped beneath it take advantage of the isolation to increase the tyranny that have been inflicting on the small town all along.

King does such a good job of character development throughout the story, I found myself reacting emotionally to the storyline as if it were happening to me. I cannot tell you the last time a character in a story mad me as angry as the villain in this story did. And even at the end of the 1000+ pages I was still wanting more.