Friday, June 22, 2012

Butter Is Better

This is one of those things you have experienced in your life that you could just kick yourself over.  Jeez, I could post a whole series of those things.  But, I digress...

When I was growing up, I lived in the small town of Mulberry, Indiana.  Very close to Mulberry was the farm where my Aunt Mary and Uncle John lived.  Mom would take us out to visit our aunt, uncle and their seven kids (all of whom have first names that start with the letter J, but, again, I digress...)

I loved visiting the farm!  Besides all those cousins to play with, the basketball goal in the barn, and Salt and Pepper, the two Dalmatian dogs, my favorite thing was the dairy cow Aunt Mary kept for milk.  I remember that it was a Guernsey (I'm pretty sure), but darned if I can remember her name.  She was sweet, gentle, HUGE, and had those beautiful dairy-cow eyes and lashes.

We would often be at Aunt Mary's at lunchtime, and she always had a huge spread of food on her table for her farmer husband and growing children.  One of the staples of the dinner table at her house was butter--the fresh, homemade kind that she churned herself and for which the milk came straight from the cow.

She would always ask if I wanted some butter with my meal--AND I ALWAYS SAID NO!  Can you believe it?  What I wouldn't give to be able to go back in time and say YES! and try some of that sweet, creamy stuff, right there on the farm it came from.  My mouth absolutely waters at the thought of having some of that butter on an ear of corn or a warm muffin.

I don't know if I hesitated because it didn't look like the margarine that was in my refrigerator at home, if I didn't think it was real because of the color, or what exactly the problem was.  All I know is that I missed out on a tremendous life experience.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How Does My Garden Grow?--6/17/12

Training my cardinal creeper vine to actually vine up the sides of this tomato cage.

The variegated leaves on the nasturtiums I planted are starting to get very showy and pretty.

Zucchini is getting VERY big!  Lots of blossoms, but only one baby so far.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

They Paved Paradise...Put In a Parking Lot

On my way to run an errand over my lunch hour today, I cut through the neighborhood where I grew up--because it's a shortcut and because I know about it :-)--and passed by the old community swimming pool.

Tahoe Swim Club was the name of the place.  It was located on Beck Lane in the south part of Lafayette, Indiana, on a really oddly-shaped lot; I imagine it was put there as a way to use up ground that was difficult to build family homes on.  It was a membership-only place where the kids in the Tecumseh subdivision 'hood spent every possible minute of every possible summer day and night swimming and tanning and flirting and listening to WLS turned up really loud and all those other wonderful summertime things.

My sisters both had lifeguarding jobs there.  I got many nice brown-as-a-berry tans there, and can remember getting tanned through my swimsuits; once I had swirly designs where the sun came through the white areas on the fabric.  Another year, I had stars all over the place.  Mostly, I hung with my girlfriends; the boys were either doing sports during the days or working at summer jobs.

Well, the pool is no more.  Just like the song (and the title of this post), they paved [my] paradise and put in a parking lot; or rather, an asphalt playground.  The old clubhouse, which all of us swimmers would overwhelm during those infuriating 15-minute breaks every hour, is still standing.  The property is in use as a "branch" of the local Boys' and Girls' Club, which is a very worthwhile use of the facility, considering that the makeup of the neighborhood is probably very much in need of that kind of service.

But when I drive by the old place, I still see multicolored beach towels hung to dry over the chain link fence, smell the Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil, and feel the gravel cutting into my feet when I would walk home barefoot.  Tahoe Swim Club will always be a summer paradise to me, even if it is under asphalt now.  That's the nice thing about memories; they can't be paved over unless you want them to be. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Help Not Wanted

I am having a terrible, terrible time reaching out to someone I love so very dearly, someone who loves me very dearly, too.

This person is suffering.  He is mentally and physically suffering.  He needs help.  He needs a different kind of help than what he is currently getting.  He won't ask for it; he won't ask ME for it.

How do I feel about that?  Frustrated, angry, embarrassed, less worthy, stupid...all of those and more.

I DO NOT want to abandon this person.  My friend needs someone.  I was taught by my parents and my religion to not give up on and lose hope for those in need, especially those I care for and love.

Is it embarrassment?  Is it stubborness?  Is it habit?  Is it all three of these things and more?  I have offered my assistance on many occasions, and it's just not good enough or just not enough or something.

I don't think I am being pushy, although I could be.  I have made it known that I am here for him.  I would prefer to talk to him one on one, but he doesn't even want that to happen anymore.

It threatens now to drive a wedge between the two of us, which is the LAST thing I want to happen.  But I can't control outcomes any more than I can control the rain or the sun.

Maybe I should save myself and stop trying.  Maybe that would be the best support I could give this person.  I don't know; I am confused.  If someone doesn't want your help, they are not going to take it until and IF they are good and ready to do so.  And even then, will they find their way back to you to ask you, or will they just wipe their hands and be done with you?

Love is pain as well as butterflies and rainbows.  He asked me to put that in my blog once.  Well, there you go--it's in there :-)

God, please help me determine the best thing to do.  And please love him with all you have and watch over him day and night, because he needs You right now more than ever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Love Chooses You

Love comes unbidden, can't be forbidden
It takes you and shakes you right down to your shoes
It knows heartache and trial but accepts no denial
You can't choose who you love, love chooses you

In the wink of an eye, love looses an arrow
We control it no more than the flight of the sparrow
The swell of the tide or the light of the moon
You can't choose who you love, love chooses you

Tell me now if I'm wrong, are you feeling the same?
Are your feet on the ground, are you calling my name
Do you lie awake nights?  Please say you do
Cause you can't choose who you love, love chooses you

Love cuts like a torch to a heart behind steel
And though you may hide it, love knows how you feel
And though you may trespass on the laws of the land
Your heart has to follow when love takes your hand

And it seems we're two people within the same circle
It's drawn tighter and tighter till you're all that I see
I'm full and I'm empty, and you're pouring through me
Like a warm rain falling through the leaves on a tree

Tell me now if I'm wrong...
No you can't choose who you love, love chooses you

(Written by Laurie Lewis, performed by many including Laurie Lewis and Kathy Mattea)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't Bite, Kick, or Pick Your Nose

My job with a local school corporation periodically allows me to work one-on-one with students--mostly the primary grade variety--by administering tests at parent request for our high ability classrooms.  It absolutely is one of the highlights of the position I hold, just because I love the interaction with their world.

Problem is, I am a sucker for each kid that comes through the door.  They are all as cute as buttons, but more wonderful is the outlook they have on life and the fact that they are not afraid to share that point of view with anybody and everybody.

Case in point:  I had a little guy in here this morning to complete the first part of his testing.  He was a chatterbox and focused fairly well on the task at hand for his age.  But he would just blurt things out; whether he was trying to be friendly, work off some Grade 1 nerves, or maybe a combination, I don't know.  One thing he said to me, though, made me laugh out loud:

"This has been a pretty good week.  I am learning not to pick my nose and so far this week I haven't done it."

Add that to my cousin's spunky preschool-age toddler, who, when she came home this week and her mother asked her how school was that day, replied: "I didn't bite anyone and I didn't push anyone".

Just being reminded of those things--the little, most important things--made it a pretty good week for me, too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recipe: Snickerdoodle Muffins

Snickerdoodle Muffins
At the risk of giving away my trade secrets (!), I just had to post this recipe for Snickerdoodle Muffins.  I believe, if these turn out reliably good, they will be my muffin exhibit at the county fair open show this summer.  They are gorgeous and hopefully I can find four uniform muffins for my exhibit.

My Dad is my test subject for my culinary creations, so I hope he is ready to eat because I am ready to practice! :-)

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 C sugar
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t cream of tartar
3/4 t nutmeg
1 1/4 c sour cream
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour  
  • Sugar mixture for rolling: 1/2 c sugar, 1 T cinnamon mixed together in a bowl
  • Lightly grease 12-14 muffin cups in a muffin tin. 
  • Cream butter and sugar until soft, 3-5 min.  Add vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time and mix till each is incorporated. 
  • In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and nutmeg. 
  • Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to egg-butter mixture .  Start with flour and end with flour.  Scrape bowl occasionally. 
  • Using ice cream scoop, scoop muffin batter one at a time and drop into cinnamon/sugar mixture in bowl.  Roll muffin around in mixture until it is covered completely.  Place muffin into muffin tin.  Bake 20-22 min at 350 degrees F or until golden brown.
Enjoy--and let me know what you think and how they turn out for you!