Sing Your Song

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As the sun sets, it sends forth its last burst of golden light and then dips below the horizon.  The day is done, but the light and warmth lingers.  Much like our month long writing challenge, the final day is here but the joy of writing and the thrill of meeting the daily challenge will linger.

This was my second year to participate but it’s my first year to post every single day. In spite of having the wrong time zone from the other side of the world set on my blog, traveling one day this month and having 9 days consumed with grandkids staying with me, I was able to  write about a slice (or at least a sliver) of my day, every day.

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There are so many creative authors I’ve enjoyed reading and corresponding with this month.  Thanks for taking the time to pop in and rest a minute to read my posts and take the time to comment.  Like the meadowlark, I hope everyone continues to sing their song and write at every opportunity.

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Floating Sailboats and Gum Chewing Rattlers

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Our dentist is in to sailing and had a sailboat mobile in the room I was in for my cleaning yesterday.   When left in the room by myself, I blew a big breath of air toward the mobile and got it moving.  I sat mesmerized and calmed by the floating sailboats.   Then I started cupping my hands to funnel larger breaths toward the boats to get the mobile rotating in one direction, trying to see how fast I could get it spinning.  I know, I’m a kid at heart…easily amused.  Once the technician came in and started cleaning my teeth, I watched the boats drift through the air moving slower and slower without my wind source and that reminded me of Chris Van Alsburg’s book, The Wreck of the Zephyr.  From there, my mind drifted back to my 4th grade days when, for a treat and break from the reader routine,  we’d do an author study for a couple of days.  I’d pick an author (like Van Alsburg) and check out every book in the school library, break the kids into groups of 3 and let them read that book together.  Then they would do a journal response answering a question or two about  the book before they could exchange that book for another.  The kids LOVED this.  Perhaps because it was a break in the routine or I always picked awesome authors!  My main purpose was to expose them to a variety of authors (the go to favorites and unfamiliar new names), along with looking for patterns in the author’s writing and or pictures (illustrator study).  Plus it was just a great way to bring in all of the reading skills through the variety of questions they’d have to respond to.  I’d do this about once a month.

Then my mind wandered to teeth, rattlesnakes and bumble gum and another author popped into my head.  One year I stumbled upon this author I knew nothing about because I had a large number of ESL students in my class.  Wanting them to be able to be a part of the action (they were emergent English readers), I went to our awesome librarian to explain my dilemma.  She said, “Use Joe Hayes’ books.  They are written in both Spanish and English.”  She pulled every Joe Hayes book for me and off I went.  And what a surprise I had.  His books were awesome.  I couldn’t stop reading them.  I’d finish reading one and want to start another.  If you have not had a chance to read his books, I suggest you look for them.  Even if you are just looking for a children’s picture book to read to your class.  The class favorite was, “The Gum Chewing Rattler”.  Other popular titles were, A Spoon for Every Bite, El Cucuy!, Watch Out for Clever Women, The Day it Snowed Tortillas.

This was a fun flash back to my teaching days and the joy I had watching my students have fun reading new authors.  It’s those kind of memories that make me wonder if I should have retired.   And then I remember all of the bench mark testing I had to deal with at the end to prepare for the state tests and realize it was time for me to move along on my own floating sailboat to look for a gum chewing rattler.

Bear Cubs

Living out in the country, there is always wildlife.  I think one of my favorite things is lying in bed at night with the windows open and hearing the coyotes howl as they make their night time rounds.  Sometimes they sound like they are right outside my window.  I’ve even gotten out of bed to try and sneak a view of them but have never seen them.

Over the course of the past 7 years that I’ve lived here, I’ve heard of bear sightings 15-20 miles away.  And then a couple of years ago, there was a bear sighting  a few miles from here.  Now it seems tonight a teenager spotted a couple of small bears (cubs maybe) in my field working their way into the neighbors woods.  I’m excited because I’d love to spot some bears (actually I’d love to photograph them), but seriously, I don’t want to have to worry about them when I’m out walking.  Realistically though, I believe it was my neighbor’s dogs the young man saw heading back to their own wooded property.  She got two black pups last fall, so I called her and asked if her black dogs were out tonight.  She said they were and that they’ve grown a lot and have gotten fluffy.

So, I think the young lad spotted the dogs and thought they were bears.  Honestly, if you really want to see something…your mind will play tricks on you.  I’ll stick with my state motto, “Show Me”.  When I see two black bears with my own eyes…I’ll believe it!  🙂

Pho 8 Vietnamese Noodle Shop

Living in rural America makes popping over to the mall a bit more of a challenge.  It becomes an all day event.  (I know.  There are some who could live right next door to a mall and have no problem spending an entire day there.)  But I’m not a shopper so having to spend the better part of my day at the mall trying on dresses after an hour’s drive to get there, doesn’t rank as one of my favorite things to do.

I was thankful that my friend said she’d accompany me, which made the long drive fly by with great conversation.  Not once did I get antsy about being behind a slower driver on a narrow 2 lane road that’s scary for passing.   She was ever so patient as I tried on over 20 dresses (ugh).  There were so many cute dresses that looked good on me except they were just too short for my age.  (blah).  Finally I found one that fit all of the requirements (yippee) and we were ‘out of there’ and heading over to Pho 8 for lunch.  Is that a chain restaurant?  I really don’t know.

It was the first time for both of us to eat there and we loved the food, shrimp egg rolls and soup.  (yum)  Plus, we were there after the lunch crowd which made for a relaxing lunch, the perfect way to unwind from dressing up.  Pho sure…it turned out to be a nice day with a very sweet friend.

A Chipper Day

Yesterday after the family left, I did nothing but watch some Cheers reruns, catch up on reading my favorite SOL blogs, and go for a walk.  Today was back to the real world of life-cleaning house after a week of kids, sweeping and mopping floors, and washing sheets-lots of sheets and towels.  After grocery shopping, I decided to download a you tube art video that took an hour only to find out I downloaded the MP4 version-sound but no picture.  So I tried again and I’m sure it was just luck and that I’ll never be able to do it a second time, I downloaded it with pictures and sound.  The video version only took a half hour, leaving me aggravated I messed it up the first time around.  I was going to paint today since it was raining all afternoon and started getting supplies out, but the cookie jar beckoned.

Naturally when the kids left, the cookie jar was empty.  And there is one thing I love with my first cup of morning coffee and that is a couple of homemade cookies.  So, I pulled out all of the ingredients to make Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies.  I’ve been using their recipe for 40+ years now as it’s tried and true and makes THE best chocolate chip cookies, EVER.  The trick to the perfect cookie is all in the mixing of the eggs.  Beat and whip the Butter flavored Crisco with the two sugars as long as you wish, but once the eggs are added mix as little as possible-don’t over beat the mixture.  I’ve learned over the years that the more you mix and beat the cookie batter once the eggs are added, the more tough and cakelike the cookie will be.  And that’s my little piece of tidbit baking advice for making cookies-don’t over mix the batter once the eggs are added.  The end product will be soft, chewy cookies that you will have pleasure sinking your teeth into, especially if they are warm just out of the oven.

I thought I would then paint this evening, but after raining all day long, the sun popped out around dinner time and lured me outside after the dishes were done for a long walk. (You can see that I’m easily distracted.)  The fields and trees were fresh and clean and the pines were especially fragrant making for a pleasant walk even though I had to tromp through some muddy spots on the gravel dirt road.  And at the end of the day I had not painted, but I’m comforted knowing I can paint that picture anytime I wish since the video is stored on my laptop.  Perhaps I’ll be inspired to paint with my morning cup of coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

Silence

Tick tocking clock
Whirring refrigerator
Whistling bird tweets
Creaking house studs
Wind whipping around the house
Ringing in my ears.
 
The kids have gone home
Leaving behind a void of silence
So now I hear all of these sounds amplified
But wish I could live without the
Ringing in my ears.

Game Day

There’s one thing this family of mine loves, and that is playing games.  My husband and I both grew up playing cards.  In fact, I was so bored with the games we played I begged my dad to teach me a new card game.  So we got out the Book of Hoyle Card Games (anyone remember that?) and flipped through the pages until we landed on a game called Casino.  It’s a fun game that uses the basic facts up to ten.  Casino .  When I met my husband in college and we started dating, along came a rainy day so we decided to hang out and play cards.  He said,  “I want to teach you this fun card game that I grew up playing with my grandparents.”  And I said, “OK, but I also want to teach you a fun game I grew up playing.”  And we both said, “Casino.”  When my boys began dating, they taught their future wives to play the game calling it a family initiation, and once the grandkids could start adding (about age 4) we started teaching them.  So, Casino is our family’s game.

Today was a misty, cloudy and damp day; the perfect day for playing cards and games.  Along with several rounds of Casino we also played Tripoly and Frustration.  During a game break the kids found an old game called “Know Your America”, which is a trivia game about America with the categories of government, states, famous people, wars, presidents, places.  I think it was the prelude to Trivial Pursuit.  Anyway, we had a blast testing each other’s basic history knowledge (some questions were really hard) and the kids actually did OK, though we paired them with an adult.  What was most interesting were the conversations that stemmed from the game questions.  Needless to say, that game took awhile, but no one seemed to mind.

It was a fun day.  Three generations sitting around the table laughing and talking, and we even had a few tears by the youngest from losing, but she bounced back.  It was either bounce back or be left out and she wasn’t going to let herself be left out of the fun.  And the beauty of it all is that there was not a TV, computer, or tablet turned on all day.  🙂

My Two Chefs

Last night, we all scrambled to get our showers done so we could sit down and watch the Junior MasterChef show.  These grandkids LOVE this show and got us hooked with their enthusiasm.  So even though they are going home this weekend, we will tune in next week to see if their favorites move forward.  We already have plans to talk after the show.

I had breakfast plans this morning but when these two woke up they insisted on making cinnamon rolls.  When I told them it takes awhile with a yeast recipe they promptly told me they knew how to make them with a biscuit recipe.  So biscuit recipe they used, rolled out, spiced up with cinnamon, sugar, and brown sugar, and top with icing after they were cooked.  I whipped up some eggs to go with the rolls and breakfast was served and enjoyed by all.

My little chefs did a great job and I enjoyed our time together in the kitchen, as well as watching the young chefs on TV.  Storing up more memories with these two sweet children.  🙂

The Good Old Days

With all of the talk lately about returning to the good old days, I played right into that with my grandchildren today.  We were going to ‘the back forty’ to pick up branches from the field and haul them to the fire.  Because we were the furthest distance from our house that we could be, the plan was to stay out there all day.  So, I packed up a cooler full of drinks and a picnic lunch, extra jackets, gloves and earmuffs in case the kids got cold (why do kids always refuse to dress appropriately for the weather), and the kids brought the chapter books they were reading with Sudoku puzzle books, while my husband packed up the chainsaws and other tools he needed.  We piled onto the wagon with all of our stuff (which looked like we were moving) and off we went.

We spent the day out there by the fire hauling branches.  And when the kids got tired, they made a blanket with all of the coats under a shade tree and laid down to read and nap.  We had a simple lunch, roasted marshmallows, talked, laughed, and shared stories.  It’s been great to see these tech savvy kids unplug for their visit with us and enjoy.  When we were talking, we talked about ‘the good old days’ how folks would leave their house for the day to work the land and not return until evening.  One thing led to another and we talked about pioneer life and the hardships they endured/women’s rights and alck there of. We just kind of grazed the surface of several topics.   All of a sudden, my grand daughter piped up and said, “Well…I don’t know why they call that the GOOD old days…it should be called those bad old days… and let’s never do those again!”  🙂

The Exchange

We live 3 hours from our two sons and their families, so it makes visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house without the parents a bit more challenging.  Sometimes we meet half way and sometimes we have to go all the way up to the city because all of the adults are working.  Yesterday we drove up to make the exchange by returning The Dusty Boys to their parents and picking up The Sophisti-Kids.  My grandson is 11 and my only grand daughter is 9 (going on 16).

They are tech savvy, love to read anything they can get their hands on, and enjoy baking and cooking (their favorite TV show is  MasterChef Junior.)  Right after lunch I set out to make Snickerdoodles for the cookie jar and my grandson said, “Oh Grandma can I make them by myself?”  So Snickerdoodles he made.  It was planned that my granddaughter was making some apple tarts she saw made on the Chef show for dessert, making the pie crust and sauteing the apples all by herself.  She was done at 3 and insisted we eat them immediately while they were hot because that was when they were best so the ice cream could melt.  And so, we had dessert before dinner.

I love seeing these two enjoy cooking and baking as much as I do.  Tomorrow is an outside bonfire day.  I can only imagine what they’ll try to conjure up to cook over the fire when it burns down.