Sunday, May 31, 2015

Strawberry Bread

My little strawberry patch has been over producing this year. I am picking about a quart a day ..... that is a quart of sliced and cleaned berries ready to freeze. We have been eating them, of course, but after awhile, you really don't want another strawberry shortcake.

I made some pretzel salad with the strawberries. Why do they call it pretzel salad? The only pretzel part is the bottom crust, then cream cheese and whipped cream topped with fresh strawberries folded into strawberry jello.  But, I am trying to incorporate more of these tasty berries into dinner. I have frozen as many as I need. I dried some, but was not all that happy with the results. I made some preserves, as well. I have given away as many as I have processed, and still I keep picking.

So, today, I consulted my good friend, Pinterest, and enlisted the help of all who visit there. I decided upon strawberry bread. I chose a very simple sounding recipe (mainly because all the ingredients were already in my house). It made two loaves and used two cups of berries, all smashed up.

I mixed up the flour and all the dry ingredient in one bowl and the eggs, berries and oil in the other and combined them with a light touch, being careful not to over-mix  and filled my loaf pans and popped them into my pre-heated oven for 50 minutes. I even remembered to set the timer and not rely on my tried and true method of sticking a knife in to see if it comes out clean.

In all honesty, I have to admit that I totally forgot about the bread and got really involved with some weeding. I don't know how long the buzzer had been sounding when I finally remembered to check my bread. They were golden brown on top and I figured I had not missed the timer for long. I lifted the heavy bread pans out of the oven. I knew before I even tried to get them out of the pans that they were going to be doughy. Still, I decided to trust the recipe and tried to turn the loaves out of the pans.

Big mistake. The top 2/3's came off to reveal the uncooked batter underneath. I put them back in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. It is done, but I can't give one away, as I had planned and I know we won't eat much of it. Looks like the birds will have a treat.

This recipe had rave revues, wonder what I did wrong?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Drivers .........

Okay, people, if you don't know how to drive, please don't buy something 40 feet long. Truck drivers need special licensing in order to haul their big rigs down the road, but anyone can walk into a dealership and leave with up to 45 feet of RV and take off down the road.

They come here. They back into my trees and grass, despite the fact that my parking lot equals half a football field. If that isn't bad enough, they will drive around the park like it is a speed track. They think the posted signs are for someone else, I guess.

Upon leaving they will pull their fifth wheels through one of my gardens, that particular garden has big rocks around it. Rock bigger than half barrels. Sometimes they will get out long enough to say some words about said rocks. Not my fault they forget they have a 30 foot trailer behind them and turn too sharp and too fast. Do they apologize for the mess they leave in their wake?

Every time I put the rocks back in place (this involves a hand truck) I move the garden in a little closer. I try to accommodate the next driver by making the driveway a foot or two larger. It is never enough, though.

There I was, weeding a little patch of garden, having put my Brunswick Stew on simmer as the bread in the oven cooks. I was in my happy place. It has rained all day and the ground is wet and is making sucking noises as I pull out the dandelions that plague me. A motor home pulled in and pulled almost up to the office at an odd angle, then started to back up.

I walked towards it to ask if I could be of assistance. The wife was driving and the husband in the passenger seat asked if we sold LP gas. We do and I showed them where the dispense station was located. She continued to back up and I watched in horror as she sped up and came really close to taking out my maple tree. This tree was nowhere near the dispense station. Thank goodness they did not stay, I can only imagine her trying to get into a site. It wasn't even a big motor home. Probably about 28 feet. Drivers.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Frontline For Humans

All pleasantries aside. It is now time for some rants. Okay, first of all, why do they have Frontline for dogs and cats and not humans? Lyme disease is all I hear about. I have to de-tick myself almost daily, despite the granules we spread around the park. These granules also control fleas and deter mosquitoes. Frontline does, too. So instead of spraying Deep Woods Off every time you go out, how about a once a month thing on our back like the dogs?

I ponder lots of things. Like why this old man is staring at my cleavage and attempting to flirt with me while my husband seems oblivious and leaves me here to deal with the old geezer. I wanted to give him a good shot of wasp spray. The old geezer, .... and maybe He Who is oblivious.

I finally have my laptop back. My son replaced my hard drive, but was unable to save anything on the old one. Lost all my pictures. He was supposed to show me about a cloud I could put them in. What if someone invades the cloud upon which I store my pictures and tries to steal it for their very own? I know, I know, that is not how this works. I am not like that woman on the commercial "posting" her photos with thumbtacks on the wall of her living room. Oh, no, I just dated myself ..... it is stick pins, not thumb tacks.

So, here I sit watching the rain fall, grateful for a brief respite from snocone duty. The pool paint did not cure properly and we are trying to drain it. The paint is getting on the kids in the pool ..... The voice of reason (that would be me) tried to tell He Who refuses to read instructions that this new paint he bought from a different vendor had a 5 day cure, as opposed to the 48 hour cure of the paints we had used before. Every year I start the nagging earlier and earlier and every year he refuses to hear what I say. One would think that he would have learned to listen to me.

I think perhaps I should be a chemist in my next life so I can come up with the Frontline of Tick Defense For Humans.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I Got A Tattoo!

I seem to have lost my writing "voice" for awhile there ...... but I am back.

My visit North was fun, very hectic and hard to keep up with all the activities my grands have. We are preparing for my baby girl's wedding and there was fabric shopping involved ..... along with some trying on of dresses for the bride's mother. I will be making my own dress. I tried on one lace affair that made me look like some sort of candy confection on the macabre side of things. That is when the bride-to-be instructed me to stay put and returned with some Spanks for me to try on.

I don't know how many people were in the store, but I am sure they were all witness to the hysteria that ensued. I told her there was no way I would be able to get my girth into the thing, but she insisted that it would make me look good and to keep pulling. She grabbed one side and we both pulled frantically before collapsing into hysterical giggling. I did not buy the dress ..... or the Spanks. I will be in charge of my own foundation garments.

I have three flower girl dresses to make. No problem there. After a long day of shopping we went to see my Granddaughter, Layla, perform her solo in a competition. I have never been to her recitals or competitions. Her mom, my Jill, has always made arrangements for me to be an audience for some of her routines at her dance studio. Seeing her in all of her make-up and costume was amazing. She is so graceful and talented. Her routine was flawless. I was so tired and needing my medication when we arrived, but when she came on stage my discomfort disappeared. I was totally gob smacked by our girl.

The competitions continued the next day with two of my grands. Gavin is in a hip-hop group of 15 boys. How the instructor was able to pull that off, I will never know. There were so adorable and completely in step with each other and they won platinum. (I was told this was the top rating). My Jada also performed with her fellow dancers. Jada has a natural talent, like her cousin, Layla. Comes second nature to both of them. She was so grown-up in her costume. Her dad told me that she hated it when her yelled her name while she was on-stage .... so, of course I did it. She later told me that it was okay for me to do it, just not her dad.

Then we ate lunch and hit the video store with Gavin. He was lost in his games after that, so I slipped away to spend some time with Maya, the oldest sister of my son's three girls. Maya is the shy one and it always takes her awhile to warm up to me. She left a canvas with painted hearts and fresh cut flowers on my pillow my first night there. I still have the canvas and it is in my bedroom. I think of her sweetness every night as I get ready for bed.

The night before I left, the girls put on a performance in their living room for me. It involved some loud music, dancing and singing. I was enchanted. Little Zara is the entertainer of the family and I laughed so hard at her facial expressions! That one is not at all shy and will be a comedian for sure.

The day I arrived, I was honored to present my book to Gavin's fifth grade teacher. She has been reading Gavin's copy to the class and requested a copy of her own. We tried very hard to get Wall-E (the true author of the book) to allow us to put his paw on a stamp pad so that he could "autograph" the book. We failed. Wall-E is particular about his paws. He has to be sedated for a nail clipping. After meeting Gavin's teacher, I was introduced to his media teacher as a famous author. Such praise! As you all know, I ate that up!

Okay, if you are thinking that a short trip was very full and a whirlwind of events, you are right! My grandson Gage was home for a visit from Colorado and was happy to hang out with us while the kids were in school. He just turned 20 and is a handsome one.

My daughters have been telling me they were thinking of sedating me with enough alcohol to get a tattoo. I told them there was not enough alcohol in the world to convince to do that. Somehow the subject of tattoos came up and I said that I might consider a little silhouette of a doxie. I was voted down on that idea. After much Googleing it was announced that we would all get a tat of a compass. A tiny one for the girls on the ankle. The guys would get a bigger one on the upper arm.

They called a tattoo parlour and off we went. Now, I had absolutely no intention of having my ankle inked. Ever. While Jeff, my son, went first, my grandson put the event on Instagram. He said he was getting a tattoo with his  mom, uncle, aunt and HIS GRAMMA! HIS GRAMMA!! He went on to say it was a family thing ..... a compass, so that we would always find our way back to each other. Gulp. I had to. I did it for Gage. He can still look at me with those same big blue eyes that looked at me when he was only 5 years old and on the way to meet his newborn sister. I said to him, that since he was my heart, could Layla be my soul. With those eyes staring up in my face he told me he was my everything! How could I say no to 5 minutes of excruciating pain?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Missing My Friend

I have been pensive of late. Almost too much to consider. It is rainy and chilly here as we fill the pool. I can't imagine wanting to swim, but there would be an uprising should the pool not be open. The month of May is always the busiest time of the year as we scramble to be ready for Memorial Day. The weather rarely cooperates and He Who procrastinates refuses to heed the advice I offer every year. I have come to the conclusion that my big purpose in life is to nag. After 40 years I have become quite adept.

My recent trip north was over shadowed by sadness. You will recall that my laptop died. I took it along and my son replaced the hard drive and I am back in business. Since I was checking e-mail primarily on my I-phone, I would simply scan the campground site for reservations and just left the rest.

As soon as my laptop was functioning I visited the campground e-mail and found a message from the parents of a dear friend, telling me that he had died. It was such a shock. He was only 45. Don had kamped here 4 years ago when the pipeline came through. He lived in a tent until his work as the safety advisor was done. About 8 months.
He was a rugged outdoorsman, choosing to live in a tent.  I remember well, the day I met him. He was inquiring about monthly rates for a tent site. I had never been asked that before, and told him. He hung out as I took care of other customers and dealt with some swimmers about following rules. I tend to mutter to myself when annoyed and had totally forgotten he was there.

He was amused at my thoughts and added his own. We were instant friends. He was witty and sarcastic and we totally understood each other. I came to look forward to seeing him at the end of the day. My own children live so far away and He Who worked evenings, leaving me hungry for an ear to listen. I will miss that ear so very much.

Don stopped me from cutting down a very young Sycamore tree. I thought it was just another fast growing weed. He explored all  my property and informed me that I also have some Persimmon trees. He even searched for my old cat when he disappeared. I don't know if he found him, he would not tell me. He just told me that he would bury him if he did find him.

Every time I look at my Sycamore tree that now towers over my side garden, I think of him. As I mowed the dog park yesterday, I was thinking how much Don would have liked it. One of the Persimmon trees creates the shady end. Don was a dog lover and agreed with me that there is something wrong with people who don't love dogs.

He Who does love dogs was also very fond of Don. We shared our dinner table with him at least three times a week. He was no stranger to my kitchen, sharing cooking duties with me. Dinner conversation was always spirited with our friend.

We kept in contact with phone and e-mail over the years. When my son died, he called frequently to check on me. He was easy to talk to and understood more than he knew. He helped me through a very difficult time.

As I mowed, my thoughts also went to his family. I hope his parents and brother will find some comfort in knowing what a wonderful, sweet and quirky son they had.  He will be missed by all the people lucky enough to have been a part of his life.