Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime in a Glass

I confess. I have an unnatural weakness for lemonade & limeade, so when summer rolls around, my fondness for sweet tea, the "house wine of the South" (movie reference Sista G), is seasonally replaced by the sweet-tart refreshment that only citrus can provide.

This sounds a little strange, I know, because I can get lemons & limes in the dead of winter at my local foodville. But I like it ice-cold, and usually the last thing I want to drink in the winter is ice-cold anything. My sweet tea I normally drink sans ice & only slightly chilled. Of course, all this goes out the window if a hot flash makes an unwelcome appearance. Then I want all the ice I can get, even if it is 20 degrees out.

I digress. You really don't want to hear about hot flashes, do you. That was a rhetorical question, you know.

Anyway, this was sitting on my counter staring at me for a few days.

So I decided it was time for it to live up to its fruity destiny - epitomizing summer with a watermelon seed-spitting contest. I crack it open in gleeful anticipation of making a mess of the front steps and . . . wait . . . where are the seeds?

Daggum it. It's a seedless watermelon. Now what do I do?

Oooh, I know.

First I scooped all the red, luscious sweetness (uh . . . no) into my blender. I had to do this in 4 batches - 2 for each half.

Blend away until it is all pureed.

And, I know what you're thinking. Yes, there were a few seeds in there, but not enough for any kind of decent spitting.

Then I poured it through a strainer to keep out the seed bits.

Press on the pulp to get as much juice out as possible, and you are left with this:

I totally would have eaten this if it hadn't been full of seed shards. BUT, in the bowl is liquid summer.

Wait. Something is missing.

Ah, I know what it is.

Just kidding. I couldn't drink the whole thing, and I wasn't feeding BS my backwash, so the straw is for show. I did put a bit into a small glass to taste though. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . . . . . . . .

I poured the juice into my ice cube trays and froze them,

until I had this -

A bag of summer refreshment. I also found some limeade (without the evil high fructose corn syrup) on sale at the store, so I decided I could bring myself to do something with it other than add tequila.

A couple of frosty mugs (that BS keeps in the freezer), some frozen strawberries and watermelon cubes, my trusty blender, and voila!

Holy cow! This was good. And the Christmas motif on the mugs only adds to the frostiness of it, right? But you know what? Later, I just put some watermelon cubes in a glass of limeade instead of ice cubes and I think I liked that even better. As they melted, the limeade sweetened up and now I want some more. As soon as possible. And so should you.

Now, I am definitely seeing some tequila possibilities for those cubes. Ya think?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rest In Peace

I would not include either of these individuals on my list of favorite performers in this or any other universe.


No matter how we scorned them in their later years . . .
No matter how they chose self-destructive paths in life . . .
For my generation,
(and in their youth)
they were quintessential icons.

Farrah Fawcett - for a generation of teenage boys, she was the ultimate fantasy, with an underlying sweetness that belied the sexy image. She no doubt made their adolescence a little, uh, more fun (ahem).;;

Michael Jackson
- regardless of what anyone thought of the surreal & bizarre nature of his later years, in a purely objective sense, he was a brilliant & gifted musician. And quite a handsome young man.;;

There are celebrity deaths all the time, though not usually 2 such prominent ones on the same day.
Why do I post about these?

No matter how we scorned them in their later years . . .
No matter how they chose self-destructive paths in life . . .
For my generation, they were quintessential icons.

This makes me feel old.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Visit From My Sister, Part Deux

I have 2 sisters, but, much to my dismay, neither one lives near enough for the occasional call saying, "I'm bored. You want to go to the movies?", or "Did you hear what Susie said about Johnny today in homeroom because it was like just sooooo mean and I think Sally is way smart to like totally diss her....."

Okay, we really don't talk like that, but when the siblings get together (brother included), we have a tendency to revert, much to my mother's disgust & dismay.

So when one of them visits & stays with my mom, I rush on over so we can have a big, goofy sleepover. Oldest sister (Nana) visited in January, & Sista G (frequent commenter on my blog) came this weekend with her husband. We played, we frolicked, we sang, we danced.

Okay, not really, but we had a good ol' time. A night at the movies (The Taking of Pelham 123 - very exciting), seafood 2 nights in a row, teasing my mother, what could be better?

In keeping with the picture of oldest sister in January, here is middle sister & BIL (brother-in-law):

BIL pouted that I didn't get his best side, so . . .

During some of the mind-numbing fun we were having, we happened upon this store . . .

. . . at the beach. It, uh, definitely lives up to it's name, but I wonder about the people who eventually will buy some of this stuff (if they ever do) . . .

(Now, about that guy on the right, "Is that a drum you're beating or are you just happy to see me?")

And lastly, I found this one truly disturbing. Seriously.
Why would anyone want to hang this anywhere?

While they were here, the wind was kicking up something fierce.
Looking out from my mother's hovel on the bay, it is usually calm as a bathtub, like this:

Not so today. The surf was so rough, it looked more like the ocean.
Why, if one opened one's windows and closed one's eyes when one went to bed,
one might have been fooled into thinking that it was the Atlantic ocean lulling them to sleep by making all that noise.

I love nature pictures. Can you tell?
Ooh ooh, and I tried some video on my camera at last, after owning it for 3 years.
Now let's see if I can figure out how to upload it.
[Ducking tomatoes thrown by certain person(s)]

Lesson learned: reading the owner's manual & actually learning to use all my camera's features might be an intelligent thing to do.

**sniff. Come back soon, either or both sisters. sniff**

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm a Guest Blogger! Whoo-Hoo!!

I know I talk about my workplace a lot - St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children.
There is a reason for that.
A very simple reason.

It is an extraordinary place
with extraordinary people
who do an extraordinary job
for extraordinary kids.

(I'm sure that sentence required some punctuation somewhere, but I like it better without.)

When St. Mary's started their own blog, I answered some questions for them,
being the experienced blogger that I am.
(Snort, choke, spew)

The author of that blog, Sonja, is one of my 3 faithful readers.
Wait, no, I'm up to 5 now, I think.
Recently she honored me with a request to write something for them as a guest blogger.

Hmmm, what to write about?

It only took a few minutes to realize what I wanted to say.
Something that struck me the first day I walked through the door in March 1992.

St. Mary's is a family, and a very special kind of family.

So, here is a slightly expanded version of my guest post for Sonja.
And Sonja, thank you for that opportunity.
It means a great deal to me.

St. Mary's Redefines 'Family'

In the next year, we will be experiencing a boatload of what has been, to now, an occasional occurrence. Our kids are growing up and leaving the nest.

Sure, there have been the infrequent families who move to another state, so their children must move with them, but that was the exception rather than the norm. Why is this year different?

The age limit for our kids has slowly crept up over the years, so we are now experiencing a large number of them aging out at the same time. This year we will be saying goodbye to numbers in the double digits. The reason this is on my mind now is that Dupree left a couple weeks ago, having turned 21 in January. He came to St. Mary’s when he was just over a year old, and I have known him for 17 years, which bring me to the point of this story.

What defines a family? If you look at it from a child’s perspective, your family is the people who love you, take care of you, see that you have all you need, comfort you when you are sick or sad, laugh with you, teach you, hug you, and kiss you. The staff at St. Mary’s meet every single one of those criteria. Our kids have a huge family, with more aunties and uncles and brothers and sisters than most kids will ever have. And that family crosses every single artificial barrier that society tends to impose. Things like race, religion, and national origin mean nothing when the heart of an adult that works here and the heart of a child that lives here make that magical connection. Our staff and kids come in every color, and they all blend into a beautiful rainbow of love.

I have seen busy nursing assistants take extra time to lovingly fix a little girl’s hair so that she looks extra-special that day. I have seen busy nurses pause to comfort a boy who is having trouble breathing. I have seen countless members of other departments, like maintenance, housekeeping, food service, education, and administration (just to name a very few) go out of their way to hug or talk to a child and make them feel special. I have seen so many examples of family love here that I am constantly awed.

So when one of our children grows up, when it is time for them to move on, we say goodbye with sadness and heavy hearts. That face that we have to come to love, and to count on seeing every day, will no longer be here. It takes a while for it to sink in, but when it does, the pang of separation is there. They were, are, and forever will be part of our family.

All photos by Wéyo, a group of gifted photographers, journalists and marketing professionals
who specialize in giving the stories of non-profit organizations a life, who
"effectively communicate the power, depth and ideals of the organizations they work with."

I couldn't decide which of the pictures I liked the best, so I included a bunch of them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My magnolia tree is a pain in the ass

Uh oh, I said a bad word again.
And didn't I say that about BS a couple days ago?
Yep, I did.
My hindparts have been sore lately, huh?

Objectively speaking, my magnolia tree is a magnificent specimen.
It is huge, of a size rather unusual in a residential neighborhood, and quite showy.

But a pain in the ass.

The Magnolia grandiflora is the archetype of the grand old south.
It oozes images of antebellum gentility.
It has Tara written all over it.

It also oozes crap all over the yard, and this is crap season.
The leaves are thick, tough, and leathery.
You can't mulch them, and they NEVER break down.

The seed pods are large and hard . . .

(no, I won't go there. My mother reads this)

. . . but they are difficult to avoid during mowing,
and when I do run over one,
it sounds like gunshots under the deck of the mower.

BUT . . .

In the dead of winter, it's glossy greenness is a bright spot of cheer
amidst the brown & bare branches of its deciduous cousins.
My neighbors will come clip leaves to use in their Christmas decorating,
(because they last pretty much FOREVER).

In the summer, it provides shade like no other tree I have (and I have a LOT of trees),
much to my neighbor's delight.

When I go outside during it's blooming season,
the air is redolent with its special sweetness.
And when the blooms fall off and I mow them up,
the fragrance permeates my yard.

I can put my chair under its branches
(which swoop lower to the ground every year)
and have a secluded, cool, green haven to watch the neighborhood go by on a warm evening.
If I look up, the sunlight trickles through to paint dappled pictures at my feet.

Did I mention that I love this tree?