Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Organized Life

I've been off of my feet for a few days and have had to turn the kitchen over to my husband. Although, I appreciate his help when I'm down, I always dread the day when I return because I know that I will have trouble finding things and have to play hide and seek.

In the past, when I've loaded my dishwasher, I would often wonder if I was "overly organized", if there is such a thing. When I load my eating utensils in the dishwasher, I put all the forks in one slot, all the spoons in another slot and all the knives in an even different slot. I have all the utensils facing downward so that when I unload, I do not touch the part of the utensil that goes into your mouth. As I unload, everything is organized and I just have to pull out the spoons, etc. and place them in their proper slot int the kitchen drawer.

Well, today I unloaded the dishwasher that my husband so lovingly loaded for me and I realized that I am not overly organized and I will never feel guilty about that again.

He had the spoons, forks and knives going every direction and all mixed together in every slot. As I would pull the utensils out, I would have to untangle forks entwined together. I would have to turn utensils around, piece by piece, so that I did not touch the part that goes into your mouth. The sorting and organization probably took me about three times longer than usual - no exaggeration.

I feel wiser this morning and a little proud of myself for being so organized with loading my dishwasher.

As Immanuel Kent once said, "Wisdom is organized life."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pork, Peanut & Pine Festival

The Pork Peanut & Pine Festival is every 3rd full weekend in July in Surry and this year we decided to attend their 34th yearly event. Neither of us had ever been, but always wondered what it was like.

So, we left early and rode the Jamestown/Scotland Ferry across the James River to Surry county and followed the road to the Chippoke Plantation State Park where the festival was taking place. As we entered the park and drove down the long road lined with loblolly (mudhole) pines, we entered the historic plantation area, was directed to parking in the fields, parked our car in the tall grass and headed towards the live country music. We weren't sure where we were going or what we were going to see, but we knew the music would lead the way.

The first thing we came upon was a long row of antique cars, trucks and tractors lined up under the shade of the tall cypress trees. We saw all sorts of Model A's, old Cadillacs, Chevys, Fords - some shining like the top of the Chrysler building and some as rusty as an old crabpot at the bottom of the river. We didn't care - we enjoyed them all.

Then we started coming upon some crafter's tents - ironworks, jewelry, clothing, wooden lawn furniture - if it could be handmade, it was there. And then we started coming to the smells. The music had led us to these wonderful smells - hot barbecue pits with roasted pig, huge kettles popping corn, funnel cakes, peanut pies and all sorts of other wonderful smells amid that live country gospel band.

The air was hot and humid, the sky was cloudy and overcast causing us wonder as to whether or not it would rain, as predicted, but those wonderful savory smells kept there until our appetite's could stand it no more.

While we waited for our lunchtime (which we ended up eating earlier than usual), we traipsed around the plantation grounds looking at all the wares. People would stop us and want to talk with us about our chiweenie dog.

We met a lady visiting from southern Arizona. She had once lived in Virginia Beach and then lived in Florida for awhile. She had the accent for it. But, she enjoyed Arizona and volunteered at one of the state parks out there. She had a dachshund at home waiting for her to return. And when she saw our dog, she just had to pet it because it reminded her of her own.

Then we had a couple come up inquiring as to the type of our dog. They could see the dachshund, but knew it wasn't full-blooded. I couldn't tell about the couple either. I wasn't sure if it was two women or a young man and an older woman. But, anyway, they enjoyed talking about the dog.

It started to get rather sultry in the humidity (the plantation is right on the James River), and we were getting hungry. My husband went back to the car to get our bag chairs while the dog and I waited under the shade tent. When he returned, we set the chairs up and then decided which vendor to go to for our food. We both wanted a barbecue sandwich and I wanted peanut pie. So, we found a vendor that sold both and trekked on over that way. We sat under the shade tent and listened to the country gospel band while we ate.

About the time we finished, the antique cars were getting ready for their parade. We decided not to stay for the parade, as it was getting very humid. So, we followed the lined up antique cars back to our parking lot and saw the parade that way. As we passed the old vehicles, the drivers all looked so hot and tired as they sat in their unairconditioned cars patiently waiting for the parade to begin. Someone in an apple red brightly shining Ford Model A pick up stopped us so they could look closer at our dog.

We enjoyed the food, the music, the vendors and the cars, but I wonder if we would have had as good a time if we had not taken our dog. I mean, we would never have had our interesting talk with the Arizona visitor or met the Odd Couple and a few others that stopped us to chat along the way.

If you've never been to the Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival I recommend going at least once. There's all sorts of things for all ages - especially families. Check out their website - and take your dog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bread Pudding - Use leftover or stale bread

Well, if you follow my Facebook page, you'll see I made bread pudding for supper and I promised to post the recipe here.
I usually cut the sugar most of the time when I'm baking. So, with this one, I used just a bit less than 1 cup. I usually freeze the heels of the bread and when I get enough, make the pudding. Hope you enjoy it.
Bread Pudding
4 cups milk
2 cups fresh bread cubes, packed (about 4-5 pieces)
1 1/4 cup sugar (I use less than 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I eliminate this, as it's used as a preservative and it doesn't last that long.)
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
raisins or coconut (optional) (I use a handful of raisins)
Preheat oven to 325-350. Scald milk; add bread cubes, sugar and salt. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Slowly pour mixture into bowl of beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, and raisins or coconut if desired. Place mixture in well-buttered (I use olive oil) 2 quart casserole and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in pan of hot water for 1 hour, or until firm and knife inserted comes out clean. Don't rush or have the oven too hot as it will make the pudding watery. Serves 8-10.
While it's baking, you can cook dinner and about the time you are through, you should have a nice hot pudding to serve after you eat. It's best served warm with cream or half & half poured over, but just plain is great, too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wanderings in July

It's a beautiful July Saturday. My husband and I decided to go out and find something fun to do. I was on the Internet when he suggested the idea and it just so happened that I was on a page of things to do in our area. I saw that there was a vintage motorcycle show at our local airport somewhere on some web site. So, we grabbed Weenie, the Wonder Dog (sometimes we wonder if she's really a dog), got in the car and took off towards the airport.
When we arrived, we didn't see anything. We decided I must've misread the post. I grabbed the newspaper I had laying in the back seat, checked the section that told what's happening around town and we decided to head towards Yorktown for their Farmer's Market and a walk on the beach. Being a beautiful Saturday in July, the beach, of course, was crowded. We tried one parking lot after another. We finally found one about two blocks from the beach and started walking.
As we started meandering our way towards the waterfront, we came to a public restroom, which we were grateful to find. Then, we came upon an old church and decided to walk around in the old shady graveyard. I found Thomas Nelson's grave there and had no idea this was where he was buried.
We continued our walk and ended up in a residential section stuck somewhere in the middle of the tourist area. We came across some guy walking his dog and asked if we could access the beach by following this road. He pointed to some steps that led down to the water front and off we trekked - one chubby thigh following the other.
We climbed down what seemed like never ending stairs and when we finally reached the bottom, we took a left towards the Farmer's Market. Walking in the sand, we admired the sail boats and ships heading out to the Chesapeake Bay and the yachts moored at the peers near the eating establishments. We passed all the sun worshipers and children with buckets and shovels. Finally, we got up to the Farmer's Market only to see that there were three tents left and they were in the process of being pulled down.
Well, we missed the motorcycle show and now we've missed the market. Sigh. We were hungry by this time and decided to go back to town for a much forbidden foot-long hot dog, french fries and a shake. And that's exactly what we did. We went to our favorite mom and pop stop - the Queen Anne Dairy Snack - best fast food in town - and we ate to our heart's content.
We didn't get to do what we set out to do at all, but we had a bit of an adventure, a great lunch and enjoyed each other's company and the beautiful Saturday in July.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On The Death Of Michael Jackson

As I'm cleaning my kitchen and dusting my living room, I listen to CNN television broadcasting the memorial of Michael Jackson. The thoughts, memories and banners on the show lead me to the Internet where I go to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Blogger and other websites where the world is mourning his sudden death or celebrating his music and his life.

I see the funeral procession traveling from Forest Lawn Cemetery to The Staples Center. I see traffic on a road parallel to the procession riding along beside the hearse carrying MJ's still body. I see a school bus on that parallel road and realize that no matter how famous you are, no matter how rich you are, no matter who you are, oblivious to our pain life goes on. And life can be so unexpectedly short.

I think about how MJ's songs might have influenced my life and wonder if they really did. Then, I remember eras in my life by the songs I hear him sing. “Thriller”came out when I was a stay at home mom with my children and leaves me with good thoughts and feelings of having my children at home with me. Songs he sang with The Jackson 5 bring back high school memories and all those feelings we battle during our adolescent years. I remember I loved roller skating with Richard while he held my hands and skated backwards as we floated together around the floor to “I'll Be There”. Richard could really skate well!

Then, I hear of a song mentioned I had not heard of - “Childhood”. I went to YouTube to listen to the words. And I realized the pain, the lack of love he sensed, the anguish this man suffered in his life. And in all of this, it seemed, from what I gathered, all he wanted to do was give love – something he felt he lacked somehow in his life.

Earlier this week, I've seen rerun documentaries and interviews with him and it makes me wonder did anyone really ever know who he truly was? Did he even know himself? Was he ever able to really get close to someone?

I wondered if all the rumors and accusations were true. I realized how dysfunctional he appeared and wondered if it was for show. I can't judge this man. I try not to be judgmental of others. I've been misjudged by others so many times myself, I hate to do the same to someone else. Yet, at the same time, my mind wonders if the rumors were true. But, I keep in mind that we are innocent until proven guilty.

And then I try to put myself in his place. If I had more money than I could ever imagine, would I be afraid to get close to others? Would they love my money, my fame or me? If I had more money than I could ever imagine and I had been severely deprived of childhood rights, would I make up for that if opportunity allowed me? If, during my adolescence, I was constantly in front of the public and important role figures in my life made fun of my face and people in crowds made comments about my skin, and I had more money than I could ever imagine, would I change my face in order to be accepted and loved by others? Who knows? Who knows what caused the eccentricities of Michael Jackson? He lived in such an eccentric world. Who of us could even begin to identify with his life? So how can I judge? And as the pastor stated in his benediction, the King of Pop now bows his knees to the Kings of Kings.

As I watch the pall bearers carry his brilliantly shining floral covered casket down the aisle on my television screen, the crowd cheers for this gifted entertainer. In between speakers, the crowd calls out, “Michael! Michael!” As if, for one last time, he can hear their love and admiration. Wouldn't he have loved his final show?

Several memorial speakers state that Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer that ever lived and each time the crowd cheers. There are a lot of musicians I have loved and enjoyed, and as I watch him on the screen with his feet sliding, his hips rocking, his jacket and glove shining in the spotlight, I tend to agree with the speakers. Michael Jackson was a brilliant talent in our world and we were lucky to have his influence in our lives.

Michael, we love you more.