He must have a mutated gene

My parents are preparing to make their annual migration to Arizona. Those lucky retirees get to escape Minnesota before Old Man Winter settles in for the next few months. They make their departure on Tuesday.  Dang, I’m going to miss them.

My sister, Cory decided that a going-away party was in order. And so we all gathered at her home last night for the celebration. There was a LOT of food. Too much food. I pigged out on Cory’s homemade guacamole before we even ate dinner! The food was simple but good. Food always tastes better when shared with the people you love, doesn’t it?

My family can be kind of… strange… at times. Really, it’s my brothers, Jim and Craig who are weird. Certainly not Cory or me. (Don’t worry, Cory. You’re dead-on imitation of the Mick Jagger chicken dance, complete with chicken lips isn’t considered weird at all! You just keep stickin’ that butt out and strutting! And everybody LOVES my Chubby imitation!) But it’s this weirdness that can and often does make our family gatherings fun.

During the party, the little kids mainly hung out in the lower level of the house where there were toys and a television. The adults stayed in the upper level, holding polite conversation and/or trying to see who could do the best imitation of Go Go Gophers and Tennessee Tuxedo while Mom rolled her eyes and shook her head with an ever-so-slight hint of a smile on her face.

Product Image Schylling Voice Changer ToyWe were knee-deep in politically incorrect cartoon impressions and reminiscing about the time when we were young and were supposed to be getting ready for church when Mom yelled at Jim and Craig because Craig, dared by Jim, was running around his bedroom naked and wearing nothing but a football helmet.

Suddenly, the youngest of the kids, Josh appeared with what appeared to be a child-sized megaphone. Holding it to his mouth and pointing it dangerously close to Craig’s ear, he spoke into it, but the sound that came out the other end was a far cry from Josh’s voice. He sounded like a miniature Darth Vader. The toy was a voice changer!

Soon, a second voice-changer was produced and for the next hour, we took turns trying to produce the creepiest of voices. The main entertainment was provided by Jim and Craig as they sung old Billy Squier and Queen songs into the voice-changers.  Little Hannah later came and confiscated one of the toys from her dad, Craig and before we knew it, she and Jim were arguing with one another through the voice changers.

But the *highlight of the evening came when Craig felt a bit of flatulence coming on. (Which happens quite frequently. Where there is Craig, there is flatulence.) Everything suddenly seemed to be moving in slow motion as I caught sight of Craig, sitting on the couch, voice changer in hand… my mouth had forgotten how to form words and I couldn’t find my voice to protest as he lifted his butt-cheek and his hand guided the voice changer to… to… you know… yes… there…

All other conversation came to a screeching halt as the sound of the Darth Vader fart filled the room. A collective groan was heard as I fought back the urge to vomit. No one wanted to play with the voice changer anymore, even after an attempt to sanitize it with Clorox wipes. Mom must have been SO proud.

Please… tell me you have weird family stories too!

*”highlight” is to be taken with a grain of salt.

Office Restroom Perks

 Or potential plumbing problems…

The water in the toilets in the office restroom is hot. Feels kinda nice, actually. I was tempted to hang around a bit longer than usual, but didn’t want to cause any concern among my office mates. But one has to wonder why the plumbing there is carrying hot water.

Yep. That’s all I’ve got today. Carry on…

Get Blogged by Terri – One More Bite

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, hasn’t it? It usually takes months of reading before I get a real feel for a blogger’s personality and style, enough to “blog” them. So imagine even my surprise when I woke up this morning thinking it was time for another episode of Get Blogged by Terri, and the subject is a girl who introduced herself to me just this week.

It was one of those “Possibly Related Posts” links that brought her to my blog. It was her comedic introduction of herself that drew me to hers:

I just discovered your blog through mine. Serendipity? You’re funny! I think I’m gonna propose…

Imagine me down on my knees as I say to you:

“I’m not a one-night-blog gal. I’m into long-term relationships. Would you, Terri, take this blog, ONE MORE BITE, and put it on your page as a symbol of everlasting fun, health, wealth, and mutual respect? I promise to reciprocate with equal loyalty, support, and always fresh recipes as long as I shall write.”

Yours Truly,

Agi

Who could resist such a proposal? I quickly said, “I do” and a blog marriage was born!

Agi FreeAs you might guess from Agi’s introduction, she writes about cooking. And her creations look and sound incredibly delectable! But Agi is more than just her cooking. She’s refreshing, sincere and witty and her writing flows with an ease that draws the reader in. Upon my first visit to her blog, I was reluctant to stop after reading her latest post. Other responsibilities prevented me from prolonging my stay, but I was back again as soon as I had time to linger a while.

I soon learned that Agi is in love not only with cooking, but with a couple of hotties. One is named Jason and the other, Cosmo. Guess which one this is…

Thesaurus

I consider myself to be fairly competent in my cooking abilities, though I rarely have the opportunity to prove it. The nature of my life leaves me feeling limited in my own kitchen. Though I try my best, my family doesn’t expect much more than the tried and true simple standards; some soups, some chili, a few casseroles, a good burger or steak now and then, and plenty of … umm… adventures with chicken.  But a girl can dream and so I continue to follow the culinary pursuits of others. Agi now joins the ranks of the other talented chefs whose creations over which I regularly drool , De-I and Kuckie.

SalmonI love the way Agi intertwines the simple moments of her life with her love of food. In Is that a Pita in your Pocket? Jason’s early arrival home from work due to a headache inspired these gorgeous grilled salmon and pesto dressed salad pita sandwiches. (Is your stomach growling yet? Mine is!)

Chocolate Kogel MogelWrestling with Chocolate appealed to my Polish heritage. You see,  Agi grew up in Poland and lived a very different life than the relatively comfortable ones that most of us knew. One of her pleasures from those days was a simple mousse called Kogel-Mogel and it involves an egg yolk, a few teaspoons of sugar and some cocoa. Not only did this appeal to my Polish background, it appealed to my love of all things simple and easy, not to mention, my affinity for all things chocolate!

Agi's BallsEven if you’re not into culinary adventures, you’ll find yourself unable to resist reading further when you see titles such as Agi’s Got Balls, in which she tries to convince us she’s a cow, or at least has four stomachs like a cow. It seems Agi over-indulged just a bit at dinner that night. In addition to the drooling you’ll soon get used to, you’ll be giggling when you realize that Agi’s balls are made of vegetables and even a meat lover like me will find the idea of spaghetti and veggie-balls oddly appealing.

I could go on and on, tantalizing you with descriptions and pictures of Agi’s culinary creations.  But I think you’d be a lot better served by just heading on over there and checking out the menu for yourself! I promise, you’re going to love it!

Jason and moi

Life is Good – October 23, 2009

Kendra was my closest friend through all four years of high school. (Pardon me if I’ve told this story before. I think I may have…) We met in a drawing class on the first day of ninth grade. She couldn’t find her pencil and borrowed one from me. She promised to return it the next day, and she did. But it looked a little different than it had when it left my possession. When she gave it back to me, it was all bent out of shape and curly. She had baked it in the oven at home that night and proudly presented it to me with its new look on day two of high school. And thus began a friendship that has endured the test of time. In the years ahead, I would come to realize that the baked and twisted pencil was typical of Kendra’s sense of humor. We shared much laughter, a few tears and everything in between.

We remained close after high school for a few years, but our lives took very different paths and we lost touch. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other or even spoken. I feel guilty about that. After all, it’s not like she lives out-of-state or has ever been any great distance from me. A few weeks ago, I mentioned here that Kendra had found me on Facebook. We soon discovered that we both bowl at the same bowling alley, and I’ve been telling her that I’m going to show up on a Wednesday when she’s bowling in her league. This week, I finally had a chance to really do it.

I poked my head through the door and saw her immediately, but she didn’t see me. She was seated at a table talking with two of her team mates and watching the other one bowl. I approached her from behind and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned, and a smile lit up her face. She stood and hugged me and I hugged her back tightly. It was SO good to see her! We talked for a few minutes, she hugged Mark too and I introduced her to Gina. Then I told her we were going to go bowl a few games for fun, and would catch up with her when she was done with her league games. As luck would have it, we were assigned lanes just a couple down from Kendra’s team. After finishing our first game, she caught my attention and said, “Pencil me in, Terri. I’m coming over to join you guys!”

It was perfect timing. Gina’s husband Jeff had just arrived and was ready to join the game as well. We bowled a couple more games, but it soon became clear that Kendra and I couldn’t stop talking long enough to concentrate on bowling. Gina suggested we call it quits and go find a table in the bar instead. Everyone agreed it was the right thing to do.

Soon we were seated and the conversation was full of “remember whens” and laughter…

I asked, “Remember when you were dating the guy that looked like Jon from the t.v. show, CHiPs?”

“Oh, you mean Darrin?”

“Yeah! Remember when Darrin had dinner at your house and you got mad at your dad for embarrassing you because you took so many potatoes and so much gravy that he asked if you needed a bucket?”

“Oh, I wanted to kill him for saying that in front of my boyfriend,” she laughed!

I said, “Remember how you always got the cute guys and I would get stuck with their ugly friends because your mom wouldn’t let you go out on a date all alone?”

She laughed.

“Who was that friend of Darrin’s that you made me go out with on a double date?”

“Ugly Gary,” she replied.

“Yes! Ugly Gary. He had that cool, souped-up Road Runner. That’s the only thing I liked about Ugly Gary. I stopped seeing him when he sold that car.”

“Remember prom,” she asked?

“I do, but the real question is, do you?”

“Well, since I never actually made it to the actual prom, I’d have to say no.” (Long story…)

She asked, “Remember when we went to the Bruce Springsteen concert and we asked Connie to go with us because she could drive? We didn’t even like her all that much, but we liked that she could drive.”  (No, we weren’t always the nicest people back then…)

I asked, “Remember the Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirts that we constantly wore?”

1985

Mark, Jeff and Gina watched and listened with amusement and eventually wandered off to play some games, leaving Kendra and I to our catching up. We barely noticed. It was like we hadn’t missed a day. Our friendship was as comfortable and familiar as it had ever been.

I wish I could find a picture of us in high school, but I don’t know where I put them. I had to settle for a snap shot from my wedding reception instead:

When we were young

Have we changed much?

Kendra and Me

I posted this picture on Facebook Wednesday night with a note saying, “Had a great time catching up tonight with my high school BFF.”

She left a comment below mine saying,

Last night made me realize how much I’ve missed being around you… It’s just like they say…True friends are the ones who never leave your heart. Even if they leave your life for a while, after years apart, you pick up with them right where you left off.

And so we did…

The Ball Busters Report

IMG_1033The Ball Busters are tearing up the lanes again! As of Monday night, we were solidly in second place after four weeks of play. (Damn that Mattie’s Lanes team – always a step ahead of us!)

We had the best time this week! I think we won, but I’m not entirely sure. I was too busy crying from the hysterical laughter to worry about things like the final score. My girls are a riot! There was a story that was shared several times over. (And I’ll refrain from naming names or being too specific so as not to embarrass anyone…) This story involved someone’s state of commando-ness while at work, a sneeze, an unexpected personal accident, some of those Clorox disinfecting wipes and a small personal fan placed in a strategic location. Use your imagination.

(And no, this was not my story. You know it wasn’t my story. There’s no way I’d ever admit such a thing to anyone! But the one who did share it is a brave soul and a good sport for letting us laugh at and with her!) And the story got more and more funny every time it was told!

Consider the fact, also, that there is usually beer in the equation when bowling. And when there is beer in the equation, most conversations lead to sex. (Yes, girls definitely talk about sex. I think Shannon scared Gina’s husband away. Poor guy just wanted to watch his wife bowl, but he started blushing and went to join the guys in the bar instead.) And the most innocent of comments become a source of hysterical laughter. For example…

Whose is the blue ball?

Blue ball! Ha ha ha ha! She said “blue ball!”

or

My finger doesn’t fit in the hole!

…Ha ha ha ha! She said her finger doesn’t fit in the hole!

Yes we are juvenile, but we have fun. We even got the other team in on our antics. And the other team was, shall we say, somewhat of the more mature persuasion. They seemed a little stuffy at first, but soon we had them whooping and hollering just as much as we did.

And then there are the antics. We all get quite animated after throwing the ball. There are gestures such as little leg kicks and something akin to “backing the truck up.” (Stick your booty out and push outward with your hands.) It is widely believed that these antics will encourage more pins to fall.  And there is the good luck stance when we’re trying to help a team mate make a good throw. It involves standing on one foot, facing away from the player, with the right pinkie finger pointed at the right temple and left arm extended outward to the side.

What? It works. On occasion.

The stomach muscles got a great workout after all the laughter this week! Who needs sit-ups?

So, no, I don’t remember the final scores, but can you see why it doesn’t really matter?

Catching my breath

Leaves by you.

The snow that fell a few days ago is long gone, as are any sign of clouds or rain. Outside my window, the sky is a warm blue. The sun casts a glow across the trees; the red, yellow and green leaves swaying gently in the breeze.

It is a beautiful day, the perfect ending to a wonderful four-day weekend. I’m a little sad to see it come to a close.

I love this particular weekend. Since the time when I was in school,  an annual Minnesota teachers’ convention takes place every third Thursday and Friday of October. This allows all the students in the state a couple of days off from school and a much welcomed four-day weekend. When Mark was a boy, his dad began a tradition of taking his sons hunting over this long weekend. Now Mark carries on that tradition with his own sons. Kacey and I have begun our own tradition of celebrating “Girls Weekend” while the “boys” are away. I take some time off from work and we look forward to our time together every year.

I was afraid this year wouldn’t be the same. Mark almost didn’t get to go on the hunting trip due to work obligations. Much to Brad and Jake’s relief, (and mine and Kacey’s) he worked things out so he could go. But there was another potential road block to our weekend of leisure. Kacey’s position on the school volleyball team meant that she had to attend practice Thursday morning and participate in a tournament  Friday evening and Saturday during the day. I worried that the practice and tournament would sap up all of her time and energy. Luckily, it didn’t keep her away for too long, and we still found plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company.

We didn’t do anything extremely out of the ordinary. We did a little shopping and I treated each of us to a few goodies for our fall wardrobes. Other than that, we just did our day-to-day thing. I cleaned house (from top to bottom) and did laundry while Kacey was at volleyball so that we could relax when she was home. We went out to dinner one evening and spent some time with my parents. Kacey had a few (or eight) friends over on Saturday night and the teens took over the family room while I stayed upstairs in the living room watching episodes of  My So-Called Life online. It’s been forever since I’ve watched any television show from start to finish and I just rediscovered this old favorite. I also found time to cook, several times and even did some baking. I read blogs and read books. I wrote. I found time to get outside and capture the treasures of fall with my beloved camera. Looking at my flickr page, I realized how long it’s been since I’ve made any serious effort with my camera at all.

Having a few extra days over which to spread the chores out, having no real obligations and finding time to do some things I wouldn’t normally allow myself the time to enjoy contributed to a serious sense of tranquility in me. I’ve realized how rare that tranquility is. It makes me realize that I usually feel much like a pressure cooker inside. Generally, I have a sense that there is too much to do and too little time on any given day or week. The days fly past. Spring turns to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter in the blink of an eye. I rush from one day to the next, while precious moments sit and wait for me to notice and embrace them.  One year becomes the next and I find myself wondering how it all happened so quickly. That feeling of pressure and the sense of time passing too quickly often makes me into a person I don’t really like; someone who is preoccupied and frustrated. Life’s hectic pace makes me someone who all too easily lets the important things in life slip away because I’m placing too much value on things like a clean kitchen and freshly vacuumed carpets. This sense of serenity makes me realize that there will be plenty of time for a perfectly made home in the years ahead, when the kids are grown and have lives, families and homes of their own.

Last night at midnight, after all of Kacey’s guests had gone home, I entered the family room with the intention of helping her clean up after her little party. The mess wasn’t much and she looked at me and said, “I got it, Mom. You go to bed.”

“I’ll help you, honey,” I said, glancing at a huge pile of glow-bracelets on the floor and picking up a mostly finished plate of pizza rolls .

“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry. I’ll get those and I’m almost done cleaning up everything else.”

I kissed her on the forehead and took her up on her offer. As I laid in bed, I marveled over what a wonderful daughter I’ve been given the privilege of raising. She is beautiful, inside and out. I also thought about how just a few short days ago, I was looking forward to the boys’ departure, but now I find  myself anxious for their return. I’ve had a chance to miss them.

I love this weekend because it offers a rare opportunity to get off the merry-go-round of life, to stop, to look around, and to savor the here-and-now. I’ve been able to catch my breath and I feel ready to get back in routine.

Pesky Cat

There are some who doubt that he even exists. He doesn’t like people. Even those who live in this house are often looked upon with distrust. Petting him is allowed only on his terms and not everyone here is even afforded that privilege. If you’re offering kitty treats, he might come near enough to touch, but you better be quick. He’s skittish and runs fast. Picking him up is out of the question, unless you’ve somehow managed to outsmart him and get a hold of him before he can escape. He doesn’t tolerate cuddling.

Unlike Holly, who is conceited and thinks all visitors are here to see her…

Conceited Cat by you.

Tigger is quite reclusive.

Visitors to our home have often commented, “I thought you had TWO cats.”

“We do.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tigger…”

“And you probably never will.”

He makes himself scarce, even when it’s just us who are here. But he’s grown bold over the past few days. Maybe the absence of the men-folk has something to do with it. It’s quieter and calmer around here. There’s less noise and less traffic through the house.

This morning, he was quite bold. I went into the bedroom to make the bed and he was contemplating my pillow; looking all ready to settle in for a full day’s nap.

“Oh no, you don’t,” I told him. I tossed all the pillows off the bed. Sudden movements usually send him running, but not today. He held his ground.

“So you want to play games, do you,” I asked him? I yanked up the sheet and a blanket, sure this would prompt him to move along, but such was not the case.

IMG_0831 by you.

“Okay. Fine, then. Let’s see how comfy you are when I dump this heavy, down comforter on top of you…”

IMG_0832 by you.

Hmmm. Still no deal?” I tossed a couple of pillows back on top, sure that would get this pesky cat out of my bed… but, no. Tigger held his ground. I suppose at this point, I could have just reached over and picked him up off the bed, but what fun would that be?

IMG_0834 by you.

So I sandwiched him in with yet another pillow. He REALLY seems to be enjoying this, doesn’t he? And that’s MY red pillow he’s cozying up to!

IMG_0835 by you.

Finally, I tossed my second pillow nearly on top of him, and he finally admitted defeat, extracting himself from the comfort of my bed.

IMG_0836 by you.

Do you think he’s a little peeved at me?

IMG_0839 by you.

Later, I found him on Mark’s favorite recliner. Guess he showed me!

IMG_0863 by you.