Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Saw Elmo!!!

I had another lovely night with my twin granddaughters, Tori and Brianna, last night.  When I picked them up they were both all dressed up fancy and ready to go, and quick to inform me that NOW THEY ARE SIX!  How did that happen?  It doesn't seem that long ago that they were just two little peas in a pod:
13 days old here
And now they are SIX!!!
Still putting their arms around each other too.
So we headed up the road to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to the Community Arts Center for the showing of "Sesame Street Live:  1-2-3 Imagine, with Elmo and Friends."

The girls had recently enjoyed the musical "Beauty and the Beast" there, and when we found our seats they told me that "the curtain looks different."

The show was a song and dance extravaganza, including all our favorite Sesame Street characters, from Big Bird, who made the first appearance accompanied by much screaming and hysteria, to Elmo, who is just so darn lovable you wanna hug him to pieces.

Even intermission was fun for the girls.  I had brought along two gift-wrapped packages for them to open at the intermission.  You see, my plan was to avoid the souvenir stand down there in the lobby.  Last time I nearly choked when I saw the prices they charge, and they simply have you over the barrel once you're there.  The girls opened their gift bags and each found a small cuddly stuffed Sesame Street figure.  They were content, and I avoided the hijacking of the souvenir stand.  Then they played nicely with the little girl who was seated behind us until the second act began.

I am a big kiddo at heart, and I was most anxious to see Elmo, my favorite of all of the Sesame Street characters.  I was not disappointed - he is just so innocent, funny, and lovable. 

There's Elmo!
 I was thinking back to a recent program my son Caleb attended at Bucknell University that featured Kevin Clash, the puppeteer of Elmo.  Caleb told me that he was surprised to learn that the man behind Elmo is a very large 52 year old Afro-American with a very deep voice.  He made and performed puppet shows from a very young age for the children his mother babysat.  A bit of research tells me he is currently the Sesame Street Muppet Captain and also the show's co-executive producer.  I am going to locate and watch the recommended 2011 documentary film "Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer's Journey."

Attending this performance, I felt like I was witnessing a Kiddie Rock Concert:
   There was screaming!
   There was swooning!
   There was arm waving!
   There was clapping!
   There was not much sitting but lots of jumping up and down!
   There was laughing!
   There was foot stomping! 
   And there were smiles!  Lots of smiles.

So hopefully the girls and I made some more good memories....
I know I had fun.
They had a blast.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lewisburg's "Nazi" Meter Maid

Several years ago, my home town of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania received the distinction of making it onto a list of America's Top Ten Small Towns.  Let me say right here and right now that it did not receive that honor because of its friendly Meter Maid.

I will warn you that I am about to go on a rant about her, and I apologize to you ahead of time.
Friendly, she is not.
Smiley, she is not.
She is mean.
She lurks.
She will take your money.
She will (try to) ruin your day.

Now I know that:

She is a "servant of the public," and she is "just doing her job."  But could she at least be pleasant about it?  Could she at least smile once every 4 or 5 years?  Could she bend the rules just once in a while (for me and my family, hmm?)

Three recent encounters we have had with HER have certainly raised my levels of annoyance:

1.  My son Caleb was walking his cutest-and-happiest-and-most-adorable-and-well-behaved-usually-puppy up on Market Street, the main business section of town.  Sheila was walking by his leg, off-leash, as she has been trained through many, many hours to do.  She sits down by his leg at each intersection and waits for his command to proceed.  They have been taking walks like this for months, many times walking right by this same meter maid.
      The other day, said meter maid confronted them, in her typically nasty way, informing Caleb that Sheila must be on a leash because there is an ordinance.  When Caleb mentioned to her that he has always walked her without the leash, she responded nastily and meanly.  How can you be mean to this cute face?
"I love the meter maid!"
2.  Recently my gym friend, Joan, and I were having lunch together at Keeley's Cafe, a wonderful establishment right on Market Street in downtown Lewisburg.  We had had good food and pleasant conversation.  Both of us were about to leave on vacation, and we were in good spirits as we talked about our preparations.  As we walked out the door, lo and behold, there SHE is, ticketing my friend's car!  According to our calculations, the meter must have expired within the last several seconds.  I tell you - she LURKS and she SWOOPS.  Way to put a damper on a good time!

It happened right here, folks.
3.  So, three strikes and you're out (in my book anyway), and here's her inexcusable third strike.  There is a preschool that operates in one of the local churches, Kinderfolk Preschool.  It has been there as long  as I can remember, and I've been living in Lewisburg since 1974 when I came to Bucknell University as a student.
This is the entrance to the church where the preschool meets.
     Every day at 11:30 AM and again at 3:00 PM, parents park out front of the church with their blinkers on, picking up their tots at the end of preschool.  Many of these young mothers have younger toddlers and babies in the car that they must juggle while they go in to pick up their preschoolers, so they all park as close to the church as they can, and sometimes all the way to the end of the block, with their flashers on, until the pickups are complete.
     THIS HAS BEEN LIKE THIS FOR YEARS AND ANY LEWISBURG RESIDENT KNOWS WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THIS STREET AT THESE TIMES.  Well, so does the meter maid.  I saw her there the other day, taking advantage of the situation and ticketing numerous of those struggling young mothers.  A baby in one arm, a toddler in the other arm, and struggling to carry all while picking up a third young child.  Add a purse, a diaper bag, and the papers and lunch sacks of the preschooler picked up, and it's no wonder these young parents try to park as close as possible.
     Geez, this makes me mad.  This is not how to make Lewisburg a friendly place to live and raise a family.
The pickup cars always park beyond the sign, with flashers flashing.
Like I said, three strikes.  I.  DO. NOT. LIKE. HER.
Just not the Lewisburg "Nazi" meter maid
May she step in dog poo and be run over by a child trike.
There, I feel better.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Couscous Revisited

Not too long ago I made a blog post about my first foray into cooking couscous.  If you didn't read that post then, you can read it here.  I talked about making and eating couscous and my family's reactions to my experiment.

Boy did I receive some intense feedback!  My blog reading friends had some fairly strong reactions to my naivety, and several of my own offspring even indicated that I wasn't "motoring on full power."  This photo shows my first attempt back then at making couscous, which we ate as a fairly tasteless and blah side dish with gravy.  My son had even told me that this dish "is not a keeper."

The gist of most of the laughing feedback was like this:  "Hahahahaha, you idiot, you can't just eat it alone, you have to mix it in with other things!"

So I tried again, using the leftovers from the first attempt.  (Because I had PLENTY of leftover couscous after that meal.)  I made a simple mixture using the leftovers that I will call Couscous Brunch Slop.  Here it is:
Step 1 - Veggies, bacon and couscous mixed


carrots - diced
celery -  chopped
onions -  diced
green pepper - diced
couscous - cooked
bacon - fried, drained and crumbled
grated cheese

Cook all veggies in olive oil in a pan until they are tender crisp.  
Add couscous and bacon pieces and stir.  
Add eggs and stir until egg is cooked.
Top with grated cheese and cover pan with foil until cheese is melted.

Step 2 - eggs and cheese added
With this recipe, I believe I redeemed myself with the diners here at home.  I have now elevated my status from Kitchen Moron to Moderately Culinary Challenged.  I'm happy that I'm going in the right direction.  Nothing tried, nothing gained, right?

Sometimes it's good to simply try new things - foods, books, activities, adventures.  New things stretch the mind.  I can use a lot of that.  Minimally, trying new things creates opportunities for conversation and memories.  On our recent trip to Jamaica, the husband/lover/best friend and I determined that we would "stretch ourselves" by trying new foods.  

Here are some of the new foods we tried:

   Jerk Chicken (a smoked chicken made with Caribbean spices)
   Marlin (a fish that is not usually offered in Northeastern U.S. restaurants)
   Salmon (Bob went out on a limb trying this again, as he has not liked it in past trials)
   Coconut soup
   Potatoes and Leeks soup
   Snapper fillets
   Coconut rice
   Red Stripe fish

There were several others, but most of these foods we really enjoyed.  

So thank you to all my family and blogger friends, who so willingly corrected me in how to PROPERLY USE COUSCOUS.  Until next time, may you all find something new to try, in the kitchen or elsewhere! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sheila, The Adorable Puppy

 Happy Memorial Day to all of my family, friends, and blog friends.  I do so appreciate the sacrifices our military people have made over the years to guarantee the freedoms we have yet so often take for granted.  A big THANK YOU to all present and past armed forces personnel.

I was thinking about how people spend the three day Memorial Day weekend in such a variety of ways:  family picnics, mini travel trips, swimming pool openings, motorcycle/bike rides, or maybe just a quiet weekend at home doing simple things.

We have spent it at home this year, just enjoying each other, working on chores and household projects, and relaxing.  I saw a quote somewhere recently:  "The thing I love most about my home is the people I share it with."  True.  So true.

I am also fond of our puppy.  If you do not like pets and do not want to read about and see pictures of the most-adorable-and-sweet-and-lovable-in-the-whole-world-except-when-she-is-annoying-or-messy ten month 60 pound Weimaraner girl puppy, STOP READING NOW, and I will see you back here tomorrow.   Otherwise, I thought that it's about time I introduce you to her.  After all, she is a very large and obvious presence in the household.  Meet Sheila, my son Caleb's (but mostly ours because he works a lot and flies airplanes and stuff) dog.

"My eyes were blue when I was little, but not anymore."

"Hi.  I'm Sheila.  And YOU are my favorite thing!"
"This is my main man Caleb.  I love him.  He's my favorite thing!"

"This is my bed.  I like to drag it around the house.  It's my favorite thing!"
"Sometimes I like to 'nurse it.'  It's my favorite thing!"
"I like to balance things on my nose.  It's my favorite thing!"
"I found this toy in an empty air conditioner box.  It's my favorite thing!"
"This toy fell down from the maple tree.  It's my favorite thing!"
"Last night I tried whipped creme.  I love it!  It's my favorite thing!"
Perhaps you will enjoy this Dog vs. Cat Diary I found:

The Dog's Diary
  8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
  9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
  9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
  1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
  3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
  5:00 pm - Dinner! My favorite thing!
  7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
  8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

The Cat's Diary
Day 983 of My Captivity
    My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
    The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Bastards!
    There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
    Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

    I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ...
In closing, Sheila has a message for you.  Click on the photo to enlarge, if needed.

"You're my favorite thing!"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Spider I ate.....


This blog entry I dedicate to my oldest daughter Rachel, who I find glee in terrorizing and tormenting is terrified of spiders.  I don't know why or how she developed this tendency, as we never modeled this behavior at home during her growing up years.  Watching her in the presence of a spider is thoroughly comical and entertaining.  For us.  I do have the capacity to feel a small sympathy for her though, as I am the same way about snakes.

The near-eating of the spider in my home reminded me of an amusing movie I had seen about 20 years ago.  Wow, does time fly!  I saw the movie "Arachnophobia" shortly after it came out in 1990.

Starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, it is a comedy horror about a small American town whose residents are being bitten and killed, one by one, by a deadly strain of spiders.  Perhaps Rachel watched this movie in her formative years, I don't know.  She would have been about 10 or 11 when she saw it.  Maybe I'm a bad mother.  (I was allowed to watch "The Wizard of Oz" at a young age, and I had nightmares for years about that wicked witch of the west.)

Here's what happened in my home:  I was walking from my kitchen down our little hallway towards the living room, when, at the last moment, I skidded to a stop, realizing that a spider was hanging down right in front of my open mouth!  I almost ate that sucker!  

I backed up and took this picture.  (I held a paper behind it so you would be able to see it.)

I'm sure it's just a harmless little house spider, but I did think of Rachel, and knew that she would cringe at the thought of actually EATING a spider.  

Apparently, many people have phobias about spiders.  My niece Keturah recently posted on Facebook about a spider she found in her back yard, in some play equipment she has there for her kids.  Here is the spider she found:

She was asking her Facebook friends if anyone knew what kind of spider it was, and amazingly, in no time at all she got 36 responses.  Spiders apparently give many a strong visceral response!  I do not know what kind of spider that is, but I have seen them around, and if I recall they are fast and they jump.  I am faster though -----> I am THE ELIMINATOR.

Here's one last photo for Rachel to examine.  It's a flashback from Jamaica.  

I think these little guys are actually crab babies, but they look like fancy spiders.

These critters would be seen on the walls, on the sidewalks, anywhere.  And, sometimes there were literally hundreds of them fanning out in front of you on the sidewalk where you were trying to walk.  However, they were fast, so even if you were walking barefoot (imagine that Rachel!) you wouldn't step on them.  

"There was an old woman who swallowed a fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old woman who swallowed a spider,
it wiggled and jiggled and tiggled in side her,
Perhaps she'll die....."

Folks - do you remember that song?
Rachel - do you?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

This Is NOT Longwood Gardens

If you've been following this blog for a while you may have learned that I show my Next Adventure at the very, very bottom of this page.  Prior to today, it was telling us all that today I would be visiting Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  This weekend is their famous "Lilytopia" event, a breathtaking garden display containing over 10,000 lilies.

However,  due to a recent old coot getting out of her bed and hurting herself leg injury (you can read about it in yesterday's blog), I won't be able to make that trip.  So I thought I'd create my own garden tour for your and my amusement instead.

This will be a "Flashback From Jamaica," as all of the photos were taken right on the resort where we stayed during our recent vacation in Jamaica.  If you don't like looking at lots of flowers and plants, STOP READING NOW, and I'll see you back again tomorrow.  (Last night our friends Bob and Carole were visiting, and they patiently and kindly looked at all of our 7243 Jamaica photos.  I think they are still our friends?!)

But if you do like plants and flowers, here we go:

Well, that concludes our Tour de la Jardin Jamaica, and I hope you've enjoyed it.  But WAIT, there's ONE MORE:
GOTCHA!  That's a Jamaican Imposter - it's right out in my own back yard!
Enjoy your holiday weekend!  More adventures ahead..... (See below).