Thursday, September 30, 2010

Slow Moving Vehicles

Isn't there a law that limits the amount of time a slow moving vehicle may occupy a lane on the same road? If not, there should be!

I got caught behind a tractor today going south on Auburn Road. This tractor was puttering along like it didn't have a care in the world. It was in front of me for 25 minutes. My speedometer didn't top 20 mph the entire time.  It was impossible to pass him (although I am sure Don would have found a way).

There was a school bus a few cars ahead of the tractor which kept stopping to let children off. To top it off, a road crew was paving the northbound lane.

I was thankful I wasn't in a hurry. I was thankful I'd used the restroom before I got in the car. And I was particularly thankful that out of the 50 cars behind me, not one driver had road rage today.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where the Buffalo Roam

There's nothing more charming than a picture drawn by your own child.

I was sorting through some papers from years gone by, and I came across this picture drawn by Daniel when he was in 2nd grade.

I love it so much, I am going to frame it and hang it on a wall by my desk.

Just look at the detail. The buffalo has hair on his elbows and his chin. There are mountains in the background. There is a bird landing on the buffalo's back.

The trees are a little off scale, but then again, that might be grass. The buffalo even looks mean, like he's going to attack any minute.

When we visited Yellowstone National Park a number of years ago, I saw a buffalo up close. It was walking through the parking lot where we  parked our RV. These animals are big, hairy, scary creatures! I think Daniel did the buffalo justice in this rendition.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Counting Strokes

This week marks the end of the golf season for CVCA. Yesterday's Sectionals were played in misty/rainy weather at a challenging golf course on the east side of Cleveland.

The team didn't advance to the Districts like they had hoped, but senior, Jacob Forsythe did. The four teams with the lowest scores move on, and individual golfers can advance alone as well. Peter was a few strokes short of qualifying for advancement.

Golf is a mentally challenging game. It helps to be good at math. It's kind of like playing poker. You not only need to keep track of your own strokes, but you also need to keep track of the strokes of the three other players in your group so they don't cheat.

Yesterday, Peter had to challenge one of his opponents because the young man insisted he had a lower score than he really did. Peter is very careful to go over the numbers with the other players after each hole so he doesn't end up in this situation. Even though he did this with the player, in the end, the player said Peter was wrong.

One thing I've noticed with Peter is he does not cheat when he plays golf. He always tallies every stroke. I commend him for this. It's the hard thing to do, but it's the right thing. And that's what counts.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Megabus

If you want to travel from Cleveland to Chicago, there is no cheaper way than on the Megabus. By plane, round trip tickets cost on average $160. Plus you end up at O'Hare Airport and have to take a taxi to get downtown. By car, gas and tolls add up to about $140, and you have to pay for parking once you get there. On the Megabus, a round trip ticket is $30. The bus drops you off at Union Station in the heart of downtown Chicago, and all you need is a cab fare to your hotel.

I want to visit Katherine sometime this school year, and I have decided to ride the Megabus to get there. I rode the Megabus once when Katherine and I went to her college orientation. I wanted to make sure it was safe for her to ride by herself since she was planning on using it for her mode of transportation once in awhile. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the bus was very comfortable. Free Wi-Fi is provided, there are reclining seats and restrooms. You board the bus in front of the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Cleveland, and there is one stop in Toledo for a lunch break.

If you are so inclined, you can travel on the Megabus to other cities once you get to Chicago. You can go as far north as Minneapolis, as far west as Kansas City, and as far south as Memphis. There are connecting cities in between. Check out their website: http://www.megabus.com/.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Play With Me!

Riley has us pegged. He knows who feeds him (me), he knows who spoils him (Katherine), he knows who ignores him (Daniel and Peter), and he knows who plays with him (Don).
Riley waits eagerly for Don to get out of bed on the weekends. As soon as Don sets foot on the bedroom floor, Riley races around the house to find his ball. Don throws it, and Riley fetches it until one of them is too pooped to go on.

Don's been working at home on Fridays a lot which has Riley a little bit confused. Don is mostly on phone calls, so he sits in the family room chair talking away. Riley tries his best to get Don to play. First he brings a ball. When that doesn't work, he gets his squirrel. He tries the sheep, the bone and any other toy in his basket. Only when he's exhausted his options does he lie down and wait.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Leaf Collecting

Wednesday was the first day of fall. The leaves are already turning on some of the trees in our yard. I love leaves. It doesn't matter if they are green, brown, yellow, orange or purple. I am fascinated by the many shapes of them. I like to rake them, jump in them, and crunch them beneath my shoes.

I was disappointed this year because all of my children have been through Biology class, so there was no leaf collecting project due. Although they dreaded the leaf collecting excursions, I thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact they would say I became obsessed by them.


I can recall more than one near accident because I caught a glimpse of a new leaf outside my windshield. I was always on the lookout for a new specimen during leaf-collecting weeks.

We didn't discover the online leaf identification sites until Peter took Biology. They are much easier to navigate than the field guide booklet. It's just a little trickier taking your laptop to the park.

I think what I liked most about the leaf collecting project was the one-on-one time which the kids. It was like a scavenger hunt to find 25 different leaves (more for extra credit).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Master Gardener

This is my great aunt Mary. She's my grandmother's sister -- the only sibling from her family who is still alive. She's 87 years old and still going strong. She's been single all her life.

She has lived on the top floor of a house in the same apartment for at least 40 years. I can remember going there to visit her when I was a kid.

I've always marveled at how independent aunt Mary is. She's not afraid to do anything or go anywhere. She knows the Akron city bus system like the back of her hand. She can take bus number 9 to downtown Akron and transfer to a bus that takes her to Cleveland. Mostly, she walks wherever she needs to go. That's why she's still so strong and healthy.

Carolyn and I do worry about her a little bit. This is because whenever we visit, she won't let us into her apartment. We are very afraid of what it might look like in there.  Today at lunch she said, "now that I've had my cataract surgery, I can see that my apartment is much dirtier than I thought it was."

Many years ago, aunt Mary joined the OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program. This organization educates people who are interested in plants and gardens. She has planted a flower garden all around her apartment building. Because she doesn't have much space there, she volunteers in an Akron community garden too. Every time I see her, she hands me an information sheet about the Master Gardener program. I keep telling her that I kill plants -- they won't want me. She just laughs and says if I sign up, I will learn how to keep them alive. I have my doubts.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's Get to Work

Don is one of those people who can't stand to have things on his To-Do list. As soon as something is written on it, he does it and crosses it off. He loves the sense of accomplishment. I almost feel guilty putting something on his list, because I know he will do it right away even if he should be relaxing.

In anticipation of his impending retirement, Don made a short list of things to do around the house. He couldn't wait until November to get started on the first item, because by then, snow would be flying. Don's first order of business is to replace our cedar deck with Trex. So, starting Labor Day weekend, he began pulling up old boards and putting down new boards. It is a tedious process, but he will keep working at it until it is finished. I have no doubt about that.

As with most big jobs around the house, Don assigns small tasks to me. These are things he'd rather not do. I've also noticed that they usually don't require much brain power. For instance, with regard to the deck, my job is to empty seven built-in planters and find new homes for them. You might think this is an easy job. It would be if dirt wasn't so heavy. To ease my burden, a friend told me she'd take four of the planters with the dirt still in them. Don was OK with that plan until he broke one of his toes while moving the planter off the deck. I told you...dirt is heavy! Guess who's back to shoveling dirt?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The I Hate to Cook Book

Last week I found myself with an hour to kill in downtown Hudson. I could have just walked around and window shopped or even browsed the shelves of their fabulous library. However, I went where I should not have gone. I pulled into the parking lot behind the Learned Owl book store. I need another book like I need a hole in my head, but that didn't stop me. I had a 25% off coupon burning a hole in my purse, so I just had to go see what was new.

My first stop was the cookbook section. I've been going through my cookbooks at home, copying recipes and getting rid of them, so the last thing I needed was a new cookbook. But one book caught my eye. It was called The I Hate To Cook Book by Peg Bracken. It was the 50th anniversary edition. I figured that any cookbook lasting 50 years in print was worth a look.

That night, I got ready for bed like I always do, and picked up a book (this book) like I always do, and started reading. I could not control my laughter. I was laughing so hard and loud that I thought I was going to wake Peter in the next room. I was crying, I was laughing so hard. I was wishing I had read this book when I needed a good pick-me-up, not when I was getting ready for slumber.

I didn't think a cookbook could be so funny, but this one is. The introduction starts out: "Some women, it is said, like to cook. This book is not for them. This book is for those of us who hate to, who have learned, through hard experience, that some activities become no less painful through repetition: childbearing, paying taxes, cooking. This book is for those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder, come the end of a long day."

This is one of the first recipes. It is called "Stayabed Stew". Now remember, this book was written in 1960.

Stayabed Stew

(This is for those days when you're en negligee, en bed, with a murder story and a box of bonbons, or possibly a good case of the flu.)

Mix these things up in a casserole dish that has a tight lid
2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
1 can of little tiny peas*
1 cup of sliced carrots
2 chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper
1 can cream of tomato soup thinned with 1/2 can water (or celery or mushroom soup thinned likewise)
1 big raw potato, sliced
piece of bay leaf*

* If you don't like this, leave it out.

Put the lid on and put the casserole in a 275 degree oven. Now go back to bed. It will cook happily all by itself and be done in five hours.

This book just tickled my funny bone more than any book I've read recently. It's not that I hate to cook so much, but I do like to keep things simple in the kitchen. If you want to laugh, borrow this one from your library. It's a classic.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Closet Time

It's time to clean out the closet. Spring/summer clothes out and fall/winter clothes in. It's also time to weed (I borrowed that term from my librarian vocabulary) the wardrobe. It's so hard to let go. Even if I didn't wear that shirt all season, I still like the way it looks on the hanger.

I came across an article recently that I think will revolutionize my closet. It was an interview with actress Jamie Lee Curtis. She is an organizing machine. She said to imagine you are going on a two week vacation. Take everything out of your closet that you will pack. Obviously you will pick your favorite outfits. Everything that does not come out of the closet gets donated to friends, family and charitable organizations. Or if you want to make some money, sold at a consignment store. Do this twice a year (a pretend summer vacation and a pretend winter vacation).

Now the hard part...don't add anything new without taking something out. Suitcases are only so big. And if you travel with Don, you only get a carry-on bag (but that's another story).

Advice from Camelot

Ok, all you men out there (I know there at least a few of you), listen up! Don't complain that you don't understand women.  It doesn't take much to please us, but you have to know the secret.

If you've never seen the musical Camelot, rent it on Netflix. When it gets to the part where King Arthur is about to marry Guenevere, listen carefully to his song. He's trying to figure out what to do with his new queen after he gets married. He's so naive, it's cute.

Take to heart the last three lines. That's all you need to know. It's really rather simple.

From How to Handle a Woman

How to handle a woman?
There's a way, said the wise old man,
A way known by ev'ry woman
Since the whole rigmarole began.

Do I flatter her? I begged him answer.
Do I threaten or cajole or plead?
Do I brood or play the gay romancer?
Said he, smiling: No indeed.

How to handle a woman?
Mark me well, I will tell you, sir:
The way to handle a woman
is to love her...simply love her...
merely love her...love her...love her."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lasting Love

To the left is a photo of Don's parents taken sometime in the early years of their marriage. They were young, full of life, and had no idea what the road ahead would entail.

In traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom promise to stay together for better or worse, richer or poorer, and in sickness and health. At the alter, most couples think its going to always be better, richer and healthier than it turns out to be.

No marriage is easy. No marriage is perfect. But some marriages hang in there for the long haul. Dave and Donna did that.

To the right is a photo of Don's parents toward the end of Dave's life. Donna had taken a cake to the nursing home where Dave was being cared for during the day. Dave did not know it was his birthday because he was in late stage Alzheimer's, but I am pretty sure he did know that someone loved him. He knew that someone was there for him. He knew that someone was not going to leave him.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ironman or Ironwoman?

My friend Becky has a daughter who got interested in triathlons a couple of years ago. She is on the Miami University triathlon team and has entered some amateur events in the off-season.
Yesterday, she was in her first Ironman triathlon which took place at Cedar Point in Sandusky. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the requirements of an Ironman triathlon, let me clue you in.

First, Lauren had to jump into Lake Erie and swim 2.4 miles. Don't worry, she wore a wet suit. After her swim, she had to pull her wet suit off and underneath she had her biking shorts and a brief top that I am sure were soaking wet. She had to go find her bike in a rack with a million other bikes and ride 112 miles. If that wasn't enough, she had to change into a fresh outfit and run a marathon...yes, that is 26.2 more miles! I am out of breath just writing about it.

I am very proud of her, because she finished the race. Not only did she finish in 11 hours, 53 minutes and 48 seconds, but she came in 17th place out of 83 women who entered. And there were some professional women in the group. She was the only woman in the 20-24 age group, so she got first place in her division!! Yay Lauren :) Congratulations!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Snuggley

Last Christmas, Katherine and I made a deal. Each of us wanted a Snuggie, so I told her I'd get her one if she got me one. 

Katherine works at Kohls, so Snuggies went through her checkout line all the time. In fact, a large group of people came through last October right before Halloween, each with a Snuggie in hand. They were going out trick-or-treating as a Snuggie family. Katherine didn't care if Snuggies were the butt of many a joke. She was cold all the time, and it looked like a Snuggie was the answer to her prayers.
Katherine bought me a Snuggie for Christmas, but I forgot to get her one! We got grandma a child-size Snuggie because she is an itty-bitty person, and the normal Snuggie was twice her height. It fit her perfectly.

After Katherine went back to school, I bought her a Snuggie. I sent it to her in a box with some other treats. She was very happy. She put it on right away and sent a picture to my phone.

Last night, Don and I went to the Indians game. I was so excited when I handed the ticket collector my ticket, and I was given a package that looked like a blanket. I knew it wasn't a blanket because I heard that the Indians were giving out "Wahoo Wraps." A Wahoo Wrap is just a fancy way of saying "Indians Snuggie."

I know Katherine will be jealous, so she can have Don's wrap. Something tells me he's not going to use it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is This Guy Insane?

Last Friday we were introduced to an electrician who would rework the wiring for our pool. Don't even ask why we would need to have this done. The guy's name is Tom. Very nice guy. It was refreshing to actually find someone who is a hard worker. Someone who shows up when he's supposed to and doesn't call it a day at 2:30. In fact, Tom was here until 7:00. We were eating dinner and felt sorry for him.

He showed up again today to finish the job. He was here bright and early, and he's worked hard all day. Again, we felt sorry for him at dinner because he was still out there. At 8:00, when it got dark, I saw this little flashlight beaming back there, and I asked Don, "Isn't Tom finished yet?" I thought for sure he would leave after a little while. I watched from the family room window as his flashlight moved from one side of the pool to the other.

It is now 9:30, and he is still out there! Don had sympathy for him and turned on the backyard spotlights. Still, he's working by small beam flashlight. We can't decide if he's a workaholic or if he just doesn't have anyone to go home to. Should I go out there and tell him it's ok to call it a day?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Know He's In There!

This is what Riley does for entertainment. I've mentioned before that the chipmunks drive him crazy. There are so many cracks, crevices, pipes and holes they can take refuge in that Riley is confounded multiple times a day.

The thing is, if he has one trapped, he won't leave the site. I can tempt him with a shake of his cookie jar, and he won't budge. The only way to get him in the house is to physically go out and take him by the collar.

I told him he's going to get his nose stuck in that crack one day, and he won't be able to pull it back out. He didn't listen. He's out there in the same position as I write.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Real Men Don't Return Things

Don put new locks on all our doors. The old ones were, well, old. We needed more than the two keys that came with the locks, so I took the master over to Home Depot and made 8 more. When I brought the keys home and tested them, I was disappointed to find out that they worked on the knob locks, but not the deadbolt locks.

I returned to Home Depot to try to remedy the situation, but they didn't know what to make of it. The employee that made my keys put one of the keys in again and re-cut it. That key was no better. In the meantime, Don called a friend of his whose business deals in locks, and he made 8 great keys for us.

The Home Depot keys have been sitting here waiting to be returned. Don knows that Home Depot is not my favorite store, in fact, I break out in hives when I walk through the door. But he can't get enough of the place. He was there at least five times this weekend. Each time he told me he was going there, I said, "do you want to take the keys back?" After awhile it became a joke. He said I was "very funny". I was being serious. He was going, so shouldn't he take the keys?

I knew Don would never take the keys back. I don't think he's ever returned anything since I've known him. If I don't return it, he counts it as a sunk cost. He's really bad at saving receipts, too. So when I do return his stuff, I usually get flack from the sales clerk.

I bought these keys, so I have the receipt. I guess it's worth the $16.00 refund to drive over there and return them!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Great Geauga County Fair

I went to the fair yesterday. Unfortunately everyone else decided to go the fair yesterday too. By 3:00 attendance was at an all-time record high. I arrived around 5:00. At 6:30 when I went home, the cars were still filing in. In spite of  the wall-to-wall people, I enjoyed myself. I also got an education.

I met up with Tammy in the dairy goat barn. She was in the stall with Moonbeam and Prancer. She was holding a little black goat that I didn't recognize, and I found out that she had just purchased it. She couldn't put it down in the pen because Prancer didn't think much of the new kid in town.
The two market goats had been sold, but they were in the pen next door with Tammy's son, David. He was saying good-bye to them.

We walked around the fair. David gave me the grand tour. We went to the chicken barn, the beef cattle barn, and the dairy cow barn. He was quick to point out that he learned to tell the difference between a female cow and a male cow. He said you just have to look at their rear-end. The male cow has a nice round rump and the female's rear-end is rather bony. When asked what his favorite part of the fair was, he replied "watching the cows make cow-pies." He also liked sleeping in the tent every night.

When my kids were little, we entered the fair. We made brownies and cookies. We submitted photographs and collections. Tammy is a "real" fair mom. She sleeps in a tent and enters goats and bunnies. She seemed pretty wiped out after fair day number three. I think she'll be happy at 6:00 tonight when the fair gates close and her animals are released to go home!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Home Run Recipe

I've been trying out some new recipes. Some are strikes and some are hits, but Don said this one was a home run. So I thought it was worthy of a blog post. I have to admit it was delicious.

Pork Tenderloin with Prosciutto

1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped prosciutto
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 c.)
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. salt

Cut pork diagonally across grain into 1/2 inch slices. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook prosciutto, parsley, tomatoes and onion in oil about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.

Add pork to skillet. Cook about 10 minutes, turning pork occasionally, until pork is light brown. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pork is no longer pink in center and sauce is thickened.

Serve over rice.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shot Down

When Peter got home last night he saw the sign I had hung by the door. You know, the one about my little Riley. I guess he didn't think much of it based on the Post-It note I found stuck to the sign. In case you can't read it, it says "Absolutely Not".

I think the word he mentioned was "tacky". Ok, ok, I won't embarrass him since his friends will be walking through that door. I'll move it to a new location.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Celebrating Carolyn's Birthday

Yesterday I took my sister (Carolyn) to lunch at the Hartville Kitchen. You would think since we stood in a long line to get in we would have ordered one of their specialties like Smothered Chicken, Smothered Roast Chopped Sirloin or Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes. 
Guess who's older

Well, I wasn't in the mood to eat much, so I ordered a cup of Chili and a side of Cole Slaw. Carolyn ordered a Chef's Salad. I'm thinking we really need to go back there when we're starving.

After lunch we walked around the Hartville Marketplace, which is an indoor flea market. Most of the booths inside are rented by people who are selling items with a theme. There was the "sign" store and the "dog" store. We stopped in a homemade candle store and talked to the woman who made the candles. The smell in that little booth was overwhelming, and we wondered how she managed to sit there all day. I felt guilty leaving without buying a candle, especially since I opened many of them to get a better whiff. In the dog store, I found a very cute sign that I had to get. It describes my little Riley, and I'm proud to hang by our side door.

After leaving the Hartville Marketplace, we stopped in a stand-alone shop called Hartville Thrift. It is run by Mennonite women. It was one of the most organized and clean thrift stores I'd ever been in. Right away I found something worth purchasing. It was a Thanksgiving serving dish with three compartments and a little turkey in the middle. Since I am the designated Thanksgiving hostess on Don's side of the family, I had to have it...especially for $2.00. What a bargain!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shadow Boxes

Have you ever made a shadow box? It's like a scrapbook in a frame. After my grandmother (Sito) died on Valentine's Day in 2000, I made this shadow box with some items that reminded me of her.

The background is a pink and blue calico fabric. Sito always wore a handmade dress made from calico. It was just "her". She loved to crochet and tat, so the shadow box contains a crocheted angel and doily. There is a photo of her, my grandfather (Jido) and my mom as a baby taken in 1927. I also included a photograph I took of her with pitchfork in hand (she loved to spend time in her gardens). On Palm Sunday, she gave the grandchildren palm leaves folded into a special design. One of those is in the box. The last item I included is a sample of her handwriting from 1998. She wrote "Sito" in English and in Arabic.